Monday, August 29, 2011

Bon Voyage!

On Saturday, Jeff's family came together for a farewell celebration for his younger sister. She'll be spending the next six months in Barcelona, studying and traveling, an experience very close to my heart since my own semester in Madrid a few years ago. To bid her adieu in style, we dined on chorizo and drank Spanish wine as we watched the sun set over the city. Life is marked by such adventures, and I'm sure this next chapter will be filled with excitement, lessons, and a newly discovered sense of self. Salud, Cassie!

Bear in his formal wear
Impossible models


Friday, August 26, 2011

Frittata Friday

There is a first for everything, and last night marked my first time making a frittata. I've been cooking lots of new things lately, and working on recipes that are hearty, healthy, and provide leftovers, so that Jeff and I can eat delicious food inexpensively. As I compiled my weekly grocery list, I got to thinking about baked eggs. I'm a huge quiche fan, but have no idea how to make crust, so I figured a crustless quiche would be easy and yummy. As I searched Foodily for inspiration, I realized that my creative idea had already been invented by the Italians and was otherwise known as a frittata. Seeing no need to follow a recipe too closely, I set off with a bag of frozen spinach, a dozen eggs, an onion, and a handful of cheese. I did check a few sites to see what temperature I should heat the oven and the ratio of eggs to filling.

In a mixing bowl, whisk 9 eggs, a few tablespoons of milk,
and a handful or two of your favorite cheese.
In a large, oven safe, non stick skillet, saute one large onion in olive oil
over medium heat. Add one pound defrosted spinach.
Pour egg mixture over evenly distributed vegetables and
keep on medium heat until eggs start to set.
I sprinkled a little more cheese on top and then into the oven she goes!
For about 15 minutes.
While the frittata was baking, I sauteed some chicken breast in olive oil and
topped with tomato "bruschetta."
Voila! The frittata is ready when it's puffy and golden brown. I stuck a knife in
it at about 13 minutes to make sure it was done and then
let it get a little more brown.

Served with chicken and tomato bruschetta and some crusty bread.

As usual, this was a very easy meal to make! It came out perfectly cooked and my only complaint was that it lacked some flavor. Most of the ingredients in a spinach and onion frittata are bland, so some salt, pepper, garlic powder, or a more flavorful veggie or cheese would have made a bit of difference. We salted up our own slices and were happy as clams. Jeff liked it so much that he requested that we eat it weekly! What I love most about egg dishes like this and quiche is that they're even better the next day, once the flavors have had a couple hours to permeate. We both had frittata for breakfast and felt ready to conquer the day. Next time, I'm going to try it with a saltier cheese, like goat or Parmesan, and sauteed mushrooms.


(Makes 4-6 servings. This could be a main course with salad and bread, in which case I would recommend 4 servings.)
9 eggs
2-3 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used mozzarella but Gruyere, Parmesan, or goat cheese would work well)
1 large onion, diced
1 pound frozen spinach, defrosted
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to desired taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs, milk, and cheese.
In large, oven safe, non stick skillet, saute onion in olive oil over medium heat until soft.
Add spinach and saute with onion until heated through, spread evenly in skillet.
Pour egg mixture over vegetables in skillet, making sure to pour evenly. Move vegetables around so that egg mixture can seep through to the bottom.
Keep cooking at medium heat until eggs start to set. Sprinkle extra cheese on top.
Cook on top shelf of oven for 12-15 minutes until the top is golden brown and a knife comes out clean.
Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing.

NOTE: If you don't have an oven safe skillet, pour mixture into baking dish before baking.

Chicken and tomato "bruschetta":
6 chicken strips or 2 chicken breasts, raw and rinsed
1 package cherry tomatoes, rinsed and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil

Combine cherry tomatoes, garlic and olive oil in bowl. Mix and set aside.
Saute chicken breasts or strips in olive oil over medium heat until cooked.
Pour tomato mixture over chicken breasts. 
Add extra olive oil and spices as desired.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Bee's Knees

I recently experienced a revelation. For those of you who know me personally, you're probably aware of how annoyingly obsessed I can be with my hair. For those of you who don't, clearly, I'm a real treat. I have, at times long, always thick, somewhat unruly, naturally curly, red hair. The color is irrelevant but helps to paint a picture of what I'm working with. I'm not an "every eight weeks" kind of girl, more of a "I'll let this grow out and wear it in a ponytail or flatiron it until the ends break off and I can't take it any more and then hope that this time I'll get the most incredible haircut of my life" girl. I've gotten many haircuts in the last 10 years and unfortunately, few have impressed. There was the mullet and bowl cut freshman year of college, the three cuts to get a bob the summer before senior year, and the omnipresent one side at least two inches shorter than the other. In between, there was a lot of razoring and thinning that resulted in tufts of inch long pieces growing out of the top of my head so that I thought my hair was breaking and I was going bald. There were an embarrassing number of professional hair stylists who told me that one could not blow dry my hair straight. And there was the guy in my college town who I kept going back to like a masochist even though he let me flatiron my own hair because "she just does it better than me!" (Than I, buddy). I guess I'm somewhat to blame. I never complained to the stylist after a bad haircut, never sought out a new salon after disappointment after disappointment, and I even started to think that I was the problem, or rather, that my hair was. However, amongst all of these hair raising incidents, I have experienced a few shining moments. The guy in Portland who pointed out the errors of thinning shears and gave me a great curly girl cut, my first blowout in New York that turned out beautifully and proved so many stylists wrong, and most recently, the total package that I received at The Beehive in Boise.

I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't sure I would find the greatest haircut in the City of Trees. I'd experienced plenty of stylists in Marin,  Eugene, and New York who had left a lot to be desired, and I couldn't really see Boise as the city that would change my mind. My biggest issue, aside from all of the catastrophes that I just described, is that no stylist had ever done just what I wanted. I've seen amazing hair styles on girls with hair like mine, yet I've never been able to communicate to get the results. Right before I moved from New York, I had paid a visit to my regular girl for a summer cut - light, healthy, and shorter. What I had lost was 7-inches and what I received were the longest layers I'd ever seen. I felt like half my hair was gone without gaining any movement, shape, or modernity. Needless to say, I was not pleased. So when I got settled in Boise, I asked Jeff's sister for a salon recommendation, and she pointed me to The Beehive. I showed up to smiling faces, sat down in Amber's chair, and while receiving a neck and shoulder massage, used what I hoped was the most effective salon vocabulary to ask for a fun cut, without losing much length but adding lots of layers, less dense and easier to manage. I was determined to leave the salon with a haircut that I liked, so throughout the appointment, I kept watching and asking. Amber even blew out my hair and then let me feel through it and request more layers where I needed them. Can you imagine my surprise and pleasure when I got exactly what I asked for? Curly, the layers give my hair shape so that it springs around my head instead of forming the outdated T-shape with weight only at the bottom. Straight, it swings around my shoulders, full of complexity, and appears longer despite Amber cutting off another inch. I finally got just what I wanted, and can't wait to see what else she can do. I recommend this salon to Boise residents and those passing through, and for all of you out there who have yet to experience your perfect cut, speak up. I'm sure that had I kept my mouth shut, Amber would have given me a great style, but it may not have been what I envisioned. Instead, by sharing my last haircut with her, complaints and all, and every detail of my wants, I walked away with a smile.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Marble Magnets

I first learned of marble magnets from my dear friend, Jhani, who found the project on Not Martha and created her own as a gift. I was immediately obsessed - here is an cute and easy way to personalize your fridge art or give a handmade present to a friend. All you need are clear marbles with a flat side, round magnets, jewel glue, and pictures from your favorite magazines. Of course, the first time that I attempted the project, I didn't get it quite right. I bought 3/4" marbles and magnets, which worked together well, but their size made finding pictures difficult and the slightly iridescent shear of the marble made it hard to see the little image. I wasn't willing to give up, so back to Michael's I went! This time, I purchased the largest marbles available (bigger than a quarter), and the smallest magnets. This wasn't the ideal partnership because the magnet was a little too small to hold up the heavier marble, but next time around I can use two little magnets on each marble, as my brilliant boyfriend recommended. I paged through magazines like Real Simple and Glamour and used the marble to trace the pictures I liked. After I had all the pictures cut out, I glued the picture to the marble, let it dry, and then glued the magnet to the picture.

All the supplies
Round One - food and wine pictures
On the fridge!
Picture glued to marble
From the front
Magnets glued to picture
The bigger marbles make such a difference - you can really see the images, and the beautiful flowers that I used looked ethereal under the glass. This project is a great one to have in your back pocket, and I can't wait to make more whimsical and adorable gifts. My mom suggested that you could even lose the magnet, and show off a dish of the marbles as decor. I have a feeling that our house will be filled in no time...


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sunny Disposition

The Boise River from my morning bike ride along the Green Belt

One thing is for sure - Boise, Idaho should be famous for its summer weather. I've lived here for five weeks and have experienced only two days that weren't beautiful and mid-80's to mid-90's. The sun is always shining, the sky is always blue, and it's dreamy to wake up to light streaming in the bedroom window and a cool breeze flowing, morning after morning. Now, Jeff and I don't have air conditioning so we have cursed the 90 degree days a few times, but after a few of New York's finest humid summers, this is like paradise. I know that in a few months, winter will arrive and bring with it rain and snow and a very different temperature on my forecast widget, but until then, I'm happy to drink up this glorious weather.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Just Peachy

I've been doing a lot of baking recently. Combine plenty of free time with a bottomless pit of a boyfriend and you've got a recipe for lots of time in the kitchen. I'm thoroughly enjoying it, mostly because I was always the first to naysay my own baking skills and now, I'm actually creating delicious things. Last week, I took a stab at two peach desserts. The first was the same cobbler that I made a few weeks ago, only this time the crust turned out much more like a biscuit than a cake. I preferred it the second time and think that the change was from cooling the butter before mixing it with the milk and egg. The second was another favorite recipe from my mom - crisp. Just like the cobbler, the crisp has few ingredients and is incredibly simple to make. It turned out so well that I already bought more peaches and plan to make another batch this week. Good thing I'm doing a lot of dog walking or my waist line might be in trouble!

Peach cobbler
Crisp dry ingredients - Whole wheat flour, brown sugar, oats
Beautiful peaches and apricots
To get the perfect crumble, cut butter into dry ingredients with
parallel criss cross strokes
Heading into the oven!
The finished product
A dollop of vanilla ice cream makes everything yummier
(Makes 4-6 servings)

1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup flour (I used whole wheat flour)
1/4 oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup fruit (or as much as you want - the more the better!)

Cut butter into small squares
Combine flour, oats, brown sugar into a medium sized mixing bowl
Add butter to dry ingredients and using two butter knives, cut butter into dry ingredients with parallel criss cross strokes until the mixture is in small, crumbled bits
Cut fruit into small pieces, pour into 8x8 or round baking dish
Cover fruit with butter and dry ingredient mixture
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and, if needed, bake at 425 degrees for 5-10 minutes, until top is golden brown and crispy


Friday, August 12, 2011

Initial Here

Before moving to Boise, I had lots of daydreams about monograms. I love lettered memorabilia, from bookends to coasters to pillows, and I couldn't wait to have lots of J's and Z's all over the place. To start small, and save Jeff from a decoration overload, I planned to pick up an Anthropologie fabric letter for him to hang on the wall with my beloved Z. Unfortunately, our local Anthro doesn't carry uppercase letters, and what they did have was either too expensive or too girly. I wasn't sure of Plan B until I was at Michael's buying necessities for marble magnets (post soon!) and saw wooden letters. Of course, I fell in love, and had to stop myself from buying the whole alphabet. I swooped up our initials and, at the advice of the salesgirl, some acrylic paint. I'm not much of a painter but I figured that at the worst, they'd look kitchy, which is just fine with me.

All the materials - I went with lavender, lime green, and turquoise paint
and brushes of various sizes for design. Make sure to put down brown paper to
avoid dirtying the table!
Lavender Z
Lime green J
Squiggly lines and polka dots, why not?
Swirls and polka dots, yes please!

Welcome to Chateau JZ!
I must say that this project was a lot easier and more fun than I expected. I didn't have any brushes with annoyance and it was therapeutic to slow down a little and get creative. Who knew watching paint dry could be such a great way to spend the afternoon?


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fab Indeed

I was recently introduced to and so far, so fab. The website resembles a Groupon or LivingSocial in that it offers daily deals that last just long enough to engage the audience and make them commit, but this site is unique because it's all about design. It provides sales from top designers at a huge discount, with must have items arriving in inboxes daily. The slogan is "daily design for everyone," which sums it up perfectly because each day's sales feature products for all kinds of aesthetics, styles, and price points. From innovative t-shirts to books to art, not to mention gadgets and gizmos a plenty, one would be hard pressed not to find something that would fit just so in the home or office. I've fallen in love a few times in the last couple weeks, but haven't been able to pull the trigger just yet. With so much home decor going on in my life, I have a feeling that I'll know when the right item appears on the screen. In the meantime, I'll enjoy perusing the daily deals and imagining all of the fabulous homes and people out there who have just found the perfect piece. is invitation only so leave me a comment if you'd like to join!


Monday, August 8, 2011

McCall Getaway

We spent the past weekend in McCall, a lakeside retreat north of Boise. The reason for the trip was the annual Brawl in McCall lacrosse tournament, in which Jeff and many friends were playing, but we made time for lots of fun and relaxation. Jeff's parents rented a perfect house, we tried the local cuisine, and spent an afternoon boating around the lake. The town is quaint, full of personality, and ideal for a "put your feet up" weekend. It was great to come home, but I'm certainly having some McCall withdrawals.

Delicious burger and fries at My Father's Place
Jessica Rabbit sighting
Taking in the sunset
Team LaxAllStars takes the field!
Gorgeous lake views


Friday, August 5, 2011

A Bite of the Big Apple

One month ago today, I moved from New York City. In honor of this special date, and because my mouth is currently watering for some eats that one can only find in the City That Never Sleeps, I've rounded up my favorite NYC restaurants. I must be honest that as often as I wanted to try something new, I would also go back to what I knew was divine, leaving many of New York's finest off the list. Many of these are my tried and true, the spots that I loved to love.

Best French:
And by French, I mean steak frites. Jeff and I fell in love with this bistro meal at Pastis, and hunted for the best all over the city. There is nothing like a tiny wooden table, a carafe of wine, and a plate piled high with crispy fries, a juicy steak, and out of this world bearnaise sauce. So far, I haven't found any french bistros in Boise, which means I'm going to have my make my own someday!

15 John Street 
411 Park Avenue South

9 9th Avenue

Best eclectic NYC:
My brother introduced me to Cafe Gitane when I was still in college and in New York for a visit. I love the creative menu, how tiny the restaurant is (all the food is made in a nook the size of my kitchen table), and that you feel so deeply like you're in the New York City of the movies when you're there. Not to mention that it's a favorite of stars like Ryan Gosling and Josh Hartnett.
242 Mott Street

Best burger:
I never made it to Five Napkin Burger, which has been hailed by many as the best burger in the city, but I managed to eat Shake Shack frequently enough to stand by my choice. Now, I should specify that I'm not talking huge, intense burger. As an In-N-Out lover, I'll take my burgers small, as long as they pack a good punch. I love Shake Shack's potato bun, crinkle cut fries, and flavor of the day concretes. The original Madison Square Park location also takes it up a notch. Some of my favorite memories are standing in line, watching kids and dogs play, feeling my tummy grumbling as the line inches forward, anticipating happiness.

Madison Square Park/Madison Avenue at 23rd Street

Best sushi:
Jeff and I were wandering through the East Village one night, in search of sushi. We happened upon Takahachi and never looked back. With interesting rolls that change daily, a great energy, and reasonable prices, it's a sushi lover's dream.

85 Avenue A

Best casual:
Grey Dog is the perfect spot for a sandwich (and a beer or glass of wine if you're so inclined) and some good conversation. The menu is simple but extensive, and always has that one thing you're craving.
90 University Place
242 West 16th Street

Best ambiance:
Barmarche is New American (and delicious), but the vibe of the restaurant is Old Hollywood meets grandma's house. The walls are lined with mirrors and chandeliers, the counter tops covered with candles, and the booths can fit all your friends.
14 Spring St #A 

Best seafood:
I'm not a huge seafood fan, probably in part because I rarely order it and never cook it at home, but I knew I had to go here before I left New York. It was wonderful. All of the food was fabulous, good enough for me to actually look forward to ordering fish the next time I was out, and the restaurants sang comfort.

96 2nd Avenue 

Best all around:
Freeman's is fantastic. The food is delicious, the wine is great, and you feel like you're in someone's home having a dinner party. There is much more to say except that you should go there, immediately, and enjoy.

191 Chrystie Street/End of Freeman's Alley off Rivington between Bowery and Chrystie


Monday, August 1, 2011

Craving Cobbler

After our trip to Saturday Market, I was on a mission to make the cobbler my mom has been baking for decades. Her recipe is adapted from Fannie Farmer's Boston Cooking-School Cook Book and called Cottage Pudding. The name, she assured me over the phone last night, because it's simple make with few ingredients. Easy for her to say...

I loaded the counter with the short list of ingredients, most notably the two baskets of beautiful raspberries from the market. As the oven preheated to 400 degrees, a buttered baking dish (round or 8x8) filled with berries went in to warm.

Heading into the oven
While the oven was heating up, I mixed in one bowl 1/2 cup of melted butter, 1 egg, and 1/2 cup of milk, and in a second bowl 1 1/2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 cup sugar.

Wet and dry ingredients

Then, I folded the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients very gently.

All mixed up
When the oven was finished preheating, I pulled the berries out and poured the cake mixture over the fruit.

Ready to bake
I then waited, with bated breath, for a very long and tedious 20-25 minutes. The results...

An incredible cobbler, if I do say so myself! I was surprised to open the oven and see a perfectly golden brown top, and after cooling, to scoop out a plateful of pure, delectable country pudding. The raspberries were quite tart against the sweet, buttery cake, a delicious combination that could have only been the tiniest bit better with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. As promised, it was easy and quick to make, under an hour from start to serving. I am excited by my success and can't wait to try the recipe again with other seasonal fruits. Strawberry and rhubarb, anyone?