Thursday, December 30, 2010

Lazy New Year's Eve

Happy Almost New Year!

We made reservations months ago for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.  We're renting a little house in the middle of a vineyard in Los Olivos (inland from Santa Barbara in the Santa Ynez Valley).  It has a fully equipped kitchen so we are going to stay in and cook up a storm with our new tagine on New Year's Eve and then we're goin to dine at Petros, the most amazing restaurant in Los Olivos with Greek-fusion food.  We once stayed at Fess Parker Inn.  Petros is their restaurant and we cancelled our previously made reservations at another restaurant because we stopped to have a glass of wine and some hors d'oeuvres and were blown away.  Breakfast was outrageously amazing too.  We ended up eating all but one meal there over a couple of days because it was so deliciosa!

As excited as I am about Petros, I'm pretty excited to get the tagine goin'!  I've been to Morocco a couple times in the last couple years and was blown away by all the tagine dishes.   As a pescatarian, there are so many amazing recipes out there, including these two:

In preparing for these two recipes I found out how easy it is to make your own preserved lemons!  I looooooooooooooooooooooooooooove preserved lemons -- thanks to my Morocco trips.  I can't wait to start jarring these up.  What a great lazy gift too!

Will post pics of the dinner when we get back!

Happy New Year to all!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lazy Blogger Tweets

Oh Lordy!  I owe so many apologies so I'm just doing a blanket I'M SORRY post...I just accidentally found a page where all the comments people have left are listed!  So many wonderful comments from all over the world. 

New Year's resolution:  learn more about how this blogging stuff works. 

Love and apologies to all the wonderous people who have left comments over the last couple of years.

Now you can complain immediately if you want to on Twitter.  Look for me @LazyWoman!

Lazy Tweet Tweet to You!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Literally The LAZIEST Dinner Party EVER!

I'm not kidding. This is it. Most LAZY and most DELICIOUS dinner party ever!

You know how I love all things Italian. Well, the Italian tradition is seafood for Christmas fare. So, Cioppino is a very popular Christmas dish.

Well, Best Boyfriend in the Whole Wide World, Aaron, found the ultimate most amazing Cioppino recipe by none other than the Genius Giada. She's the best -- simple, easy, fresh, textural. And in this one, FENNEL and RED PEPPER FLAKES are the two ingredients that kick it up several delicioso notches. Unbelievable.

And, this is how this works into a dinner party. If you are a couple this works incredibly well because you can literally start the entire dinner party about an hour and a half before people come and still have time to shower, change and relax with a glass of wine before your guests arrive.

How we worked it -- he cooked the Cioppino -- which is unbelievably easy -- while I set the table, made the salad, and prepped the bread. I made the Tiramisu ahead of time only because it's better when it soaks in but if you start two hours ahead you can even make Tiramisu too because it literally takes about 20 minutes to put a Tiramisu together.
I have to admit we have done this same menu twice in the last week. Last night we made it for a friend who is recovering from the flu (he's not really sick, just still congested) and this soup just has a way of feeling soothing and nurturing, let alone scrumptious for the soul!
Menu: Salad (I used butter lettuce, arugula, chopped mushrooms, thinly sliced cucumber, toasted parmesan almonds, shaved parmesan, lemon, olive oil, salt, pepper), Big warm crusty bread (that I sliced in big hunks, put butter in between slices, rubbed olive oil on the outside, and baked for about 10 minutes to melt all the buttery oil juiciness in) and Cioppino. Nice red wine, ice water with lemon...and I put a big hunk of lemon on the plate under the bowl so people could squeeze their own lemon on top of the soup.
This is not only an elegant meal -- for eating soup after all -- but all the various seafood textures and tastes make it so rich and nearly decadent. It is a celebration unto itself.
Perfect holiday fare ...but also perfect for any winter celebration -- even for two!
Buon Appetito!!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lazy Last Minute Baking?

I knew I wanted to deliver a little baked treat to my neighbors, so I found a bunch of great cookie recipes. But, then I was in a store and I found a 4 mini loaf pan, which I thought was so darned cute it had to be bought and used. So, I went a-searchin' for new recipes and found a most scrumptious looking Lemon Cranberry Mini Loaf recipe.

Now, of course I had to make my little addition...chocolate chips, of course, to kick it up another notch. I doubled the recipe to make 8 and the only time-consuming thing was prepping the lemons, but really hardly time-consuming at all. They are so darned cute!

So, if you need a quick homemade gift I highly recommend this recipe. Then just wrap in foil and stick a bow on each end. I added a little sticker, but ribbon is just enough color to make it festive and fun. The Christmas yum factor is already handled!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lazy Rainy Day Soup

We did a Moroccan-themed dinner party last night which was quite delicious. I'm enclosing links to the highlights of the meal -- the Chickpea Soup, Moroccan Spicy Carrots, and a Tangerine Olive Oil Cake. The cake isn't necessarily Moroccan but tangerines always remind me of Morocco because they have the most scrumptious tangerines there...oh my god they are divine. And, Aaron loves olive oil cake so I thought it would be the perfect dessert. I added a bag of bittersweet chocolate chips to the cake recipe and oh lordy was that amazing. It's my new obsession -- chocolate and orange. I can't get enough of it right now.

But, the soup. First, let me tell you it is so unbelievably easy to whip up. It literally takes about 10 minutes total and then you let it simmer and the aroma of Moroccan spices waft through the house. Our guests walked in the house and said "It smells amaaaazing!" and the soup was definitely the reason.

The only addition I made to the soup is I served the bowl on a plate and on the plate I put a big juicy slice of fresh lime and insisted that everyone squeeze it over their soup at the last minute. The lime against the backdrop of the cinnamon and other spices was the absolute piece de resistance that popped all the flavors out to front and center.

It is raining really hard today so I am very excited to have the leftovers.

P.S. JUST ate the's just as delicious as last night. I'll definitely be making this soup again soon.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lazy + New Christmas Traditions

I used to have a pretty strong judgment about flocked trees. It seemed absurd growing up in Los Angeles to see fake snow that didn't melt, like fake breasts that don't move when you do downward facing dog! But a few weeks ago when the Christmas tree lot popped up nearby, I drove by and a lone tree in the distance caught my eye: a little flocked baby tree.

I had to go back and visit it. Aaron who very much misses his hometown of Rochester during the fall and winter months lit up like a Christmas tree when he saw it. He really misses his snow this time of year so even though I still had my old judgments floating around in my brain, I had to let them go and delight in a brand new Christmas element.

Last year, our first Christmas together, we were in Paris with his daughter and her best friend so it was a very different Christmas. There was nothing traditional about it -- it was all new, and it was unique to that one year. So, now it's time to create new traditions as he does his best to please everyone in his life.

I have two friends who are freshly divorced this year, another still adjusting to last year's divorce so everyone is in the conversation of creating new traditions. It can look so many different ways --- Christmas Eve, Christmas Morning, Christmas Lunch, Christmas Dinner, even Boxing Day can all be opportunities for different pockets of people to join together and have special time together. They are opportunities to give and receive love.

It really worked for me over Thanksgiving to let go off all the usual pictures of what Thanksgiving "should" look like, and it literally ended up being one of the best Thanksgivings ever! It sparkled in every way -- laughter, music, great conversations, amazing food and drink. I expect Christmas will be much the same because I'm letting go of all the pictures and letting it be all new -- a fresh snow of sparkle landing on the season.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lazy Christmas Party Menu

OK guys...the Christmas Party was a huuuuuuuge success! Did I take pictures? Not really. The dessert table pre-humans was it is mid-party above. Thank God Aaron's friend Steven took a photo of the desserts when he did!
I'm still in my cooking/baking phase so I cooked up a storm. I had so much fun and everything turned out sooooo delicious!

Now, let us review how this is LAZY: because it fills my soul to create beautiful parties, and right now it really fills my soul to cook and bake. So, I took off Thursday and Friday. On Thursday I decorated the house and shopped and prepped two cookies. On Friday I cooked and baked. On Saturday, I worked out, had a relaxing morning AND a relaxing couple of hours in the afternoon too... because I made all make-ahead recipes with only a couple of exceptions. I also chose really easy recipes.

Here is the straight menu....scroll down below to see links to recipes (most from or Ina Garten) and my notes on how I changed the recipes (if I did).

Christmas Party Menu
Mulled Wine
Pomegranate Champagne Cocktail
Red & White ItalianWines
Mortadella, Salami, & Other Italian Meatly Delights
Italian Cheeses & Olives
Olive Oil Bread
Shrimp Scampi
Scalloped Tomatoes
Turkey Bolognese Lasagna
Trumpet Pasta with Green Pea & Asparagus Pesto
Lemon Spaghetti
Arugula, Gorgonzola & Cranberry Salad
Warm Gingerbread & Cream
Apricot Cheesecake
Chocolate Orange Cake
Peanut Butter & Jelly Jewels
Chocolate Kahlua Balls
Pistachio Orange Cookies

Notes and Recipes for all Menu Items:

  1. Mulled Wine -- See last blog post!
  2. Pomegranate Champagne Cocktail - I sliced up a pomegranate and put a couple pinches of pomegranate seeds at the bottom of glasses. I put out a bowl of pomegranate seeds next to the punch pitcher.
  3. Red & White ItalianWines -- Bought at Roma Market, Italian store here in Pasadena
  4. Mortadella, Salami, & Other Italian Meatly Delights - Bought at Roma Market, Italian store here in Pasadena
  5. Italian Cheeses & Olives -- Bought at Roma Market, Italian store here in Pasadena
  6. Olive Oil Bread -- Bought at Roma Market, Italian store here in Pasadena
  7. Shrimp Scampi -- I actually took tails off. Not as gorgeous but when people are possibly standing with food you have to make it easy for them.
  8. Scalloped Tomatoes -- I used Sourdough and oh my god it was yummy!
  9. Turkey Bolognese Lasagna --- Aaron bought this at Porto Via in Pasadena
  10. Trumpet Pasta with Green Pea & Asparagus Pesto -- Trumpet pasta bought at Roma Market. Recipe: I decided to not add cream. Now this was my only "mistake" on the menu. I made it the day before and forgot to heat it up before adding to the pasta and also forgot to reserve pasta water. So, it was a little dry. Totally my fault. If I had heated it up and added some reserved water it would have been fine. I don't believe it needs the cream at all. People still liked it though!
  11. Lemon Spaghetti -- I tripled this recipe, so that would mean 1.5 cups of lemon juice...well I put in 2 cups and it was spectacular. Also, I chose to do Italian Parsley instead of basil because I wanted a fresher feel to go with the heavily garlicked-up scampi next to it.
  12. Arugula, Gorgonzola, Toasted Pecan & Dried Cranberry Salad --- Dressing was Trader Joe's Orange Champagne Vinegar, Dijon, Olive Oil and Lemon Juice
  13. Warm Gingerbread -- served with whipped cream. I have been making the Silver Palate recipe for years. It's spectacular and has a great twist -- lemon glaze. Unbelievable. Here's a link to someone who has typed it up. She doesn't use lemon glaze but I love it:
  14. Apricot Cheesecake -- Aaron found this one. I made it with dried apricots I had been soaking for weeks in brandy. The crust is unbelievably delicious. This woman is a GENIUS -- check out her blog: I also took a jar of cherry jam and boiled it down with about 1/2 cup of brandy and put that on top of the apricot top...made it glistening red and more Christmas-y. Also I finely chopped up about a cup apricots and mixed into the cheesecake.
  15. Chocolate Orange Cake -- I looked at a lot of recipes before I found this's supremely good.,196,156179-248201,00.html. I had leftover butter-sugar-orange sauce and poured it liberally over the top of the cake too (after it had cooled). Then after it had set, Aaron dusted it with a light dusting of powdered sugar. I got the orange flavored chocolate at Trader Joe's that looks like orange slices and put that around the base of the cake with slices of tangerine. I cut an orange in half and put it in the middle of the ring and made a mini-bouquet of flowers. I think it was the most beautiful cake I've ever made. Peanut Butter & Jelly Jewels --,196,156179-248201,00.html. I think the recipe suggests doing the jelly OR the chocolate. I did the jelly and then swizzled chocolate on top of that.
  16. Chocolate Kahlua Balls --,196,156179-248201,00.html. These you can do waaaaaay ahead!
  17. Pistachio Orange Cookies -- Take the "two inches apart" direction seriously please...they bleed and create thin, lacy cookies. --,196,156179-248201,00.html

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Lazy Christmas Party Fare

We're having a small Christmas Party this weekend and people will be coming and going all night so I wanted to maximize my use of the chafing dishes, i.e., make ahead and stay out of the kitchen. While Aaron had me flirting with a New Orleans Christmas, I don't want to be serving all things that I have very little or no experience cooking because that's just simply not lazy for me. I'd be too concerned about how things would be turning out. And, since I don't eat meat, I wouldn't even taste a bunch of stuff.

So, I went to my comfort zone: Italian. But, I found some new recipes that I'm going to try that I absolutely trust because of their source. For instance a couple are coming from the Barefoot Genius Contessa. Actually it was this first recipe I found of hers -- for Baked Shrimp Scampi -- that made me decide to go Italian.

You make this ahead and just pop it in the oven for 10 minutes before people arrive. Give me a break! How incredibly easy is that? And, check out the attached recipe -- all yumalicious ingredients.

And, there's a cool video you can watch too. I love watching Ina because of her deep blue water calm. It's a Zen experience watching her cook. I feel like I'm watching dolphins swim in the ocean. They leap when she starts something sizzling or takes a taste of her creation and says "Aren't these just the most delicious things?"

I'm actually going to put this recipe together tonight or tomorrow morning because deveining 4 pounds of shrimp will take some concentration and I don't want to be doing my normal multi-tasking in the kitchen because invariably I would get a shrimp shell in my gingerbread.

So I'm taking this do-ahead recipe quite seriously!

Buon Appetito a Tutti!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Lazy Instant Christmas Cheer

If you are having people over at all this season, there is one unbelievably Lazy thing you can do to create instant Christmas Cheer by 1) making your house smell divinely Christmas-y and 2) making a heart-warming drink that requires just about no work at all!

And, you can get as creative as you wish with this: bottom line is the base is cranberry juice cocktail and red wine. You throw these two ingredients in a pot with a couple spices and some fruit. Start on a low simmer about an hour before people come and the house will be imbued with divine Santa Memory Making scents! Speaking of which, leave a cup for Santa with the cookies and milk and he'll probably leave extra goodies for all!

Mulled Wine
  • Cranberry Juice Cocktail -- 1 quart
  • Burgandy Wine (or really any inexpensive fairly robust red wine -- you do NOT need to spend a lot of time or effort finding the wine component) -- 1 gallon
  • Spices: 3 sticks of cinnamon, 6 whole cloves (optional whole allspice)
  • Fruit: Sliced apple, orange, a handful of cranberries for beauty factor maybe
  • Sugar: Optional -- add to taste...this will depend on the brand of cranberry juice cocktail and the won't need any more than a cup, but definitely manage the sugar need after simmering for about 10 minutes
If you've made Sangria in hotter weather, you're probably starting to catch the similarities. This is the wintry version and it's very much like Sangria in that you have three components: wine + fruit + sweetening factor = divine drink!

And, just like Sangria you can get creative with your Mulled Wine. Bottom line is that when your guests walk in the door they will say "What is that wonderful aroma?" and better yet, they will love sipping this heart and chest warming elixir.

Happy Holiday Entertaining!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Lazy Asian Cooking

I did it! I made the crab rolls. And, I got some shrimp at Trader Joe's while I was getting crab and made a shrimp/avocado/cucumber roll too. Were they a success? I would concur with Aaron: "A for effort!" The biggest problem was the one and only issue I have with Trader Joe's -- literally my only issue -- is that they don't have good fresh seafood. So, the flavor of the crab was really not good at all -- very fishy. The shrimp was pretty tasteless. Had I gotten better fish it would have actually been a success.

Working with rice paper is a wee bit of a challenge -- fun, but a challenge nonetheless. Too much filling, too little, accidental tearing, etc. But, I finally got it worked out. And, I look forward to working with it again -- only because it's a little like origami -- takes some patience and finesse that I do not have naturally nestled in my DNA. It's good for me to do tasks like this in the kitchen rather than the usual throwing things here and there, splishing and splashing around.

But, the best result of the dinner was the salad I made today with the leftovers. I took arugula, shrimp, rice noodles, avocado, cucumber, toasted almonds, toasted sesame seeds, Sweet Chili Sauce...and added a couple dashes of red wine vinegar and olive oil. I wasn't in the mood for soy sauce becuase I wanted to highlight the Sweet Chili Sauce flavoring but that would have been great too. I would have added Rice Vinegar but I couldn't get the top off! LOL! But even with Red Wine Vinegar as the only vinegar it was quite yummy. The best thing was all the wonderful textures.

And, no wheat or cheese of any kind -- which always make me feel a little groggy after I eat. Yummalicious!

Arigato Trader Joe's.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Are you kidding me Trader Joe's?

I was at the gym on the stairmaster today and the morning show had a local food expert making Crab Spring Rolls. I decided I had to make them for dinner tonight and stopped at Trader Joe's to get whatever ingredients I could.

[NOTE: Whole Foods has rice paper...the UNlazy part of my day was schlepping from store to store only to find out the ONLY Asian food they didn't carry was rice paper. My Whole Foods was out but the one near Aaron had it -- Thank God! -- But be lazy with this -- call ahead!]

The link to the recipe is above. I am about to make them but had to also mention the thing I happened upon at Trader Joe's. Chocolate and Toffee Covered Popcorn! Are you kidding me?

I didn't even get to the check out counter. I have no business munching on such delights but oh my god was it DELICIOSA! Lots of companies make it. It's probably super easy to make from scratch (will look into that!). But now I'm going to have to avoid that aisle at Trader Joe's. If you want a treat for yourself or guests, definitely indulge.

Can't wait to make the sushi. Will report back.

Lazily Chocolatey-Toffeely Yours,

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lazy = Making Choices that Work for YOU!

Often when I tell people I co-wrote "The Lazy Woman's Guide..." they say "you are NOT lazy you DO so much!" In our book we address this - LAZY is not about being a sloth and stopping life, it's about making priorities that create less stress and more joy. So, what does that mean at the holidays? It depends...

For me what that meant at Thanksgiving was to first give up expectations of what it should look like. When the Haiti disaster occurred I decided I wanted to do relief work the week of Thanksgiving. But a few months ago it became clear that might not be good timing. So then I signed up to go back to New Orleans and work with Habitat for Humanity. They still need so much help and have been all but forgotten. But because of Thanksgiving I found out their holiday schedule only had people working two days that week, so I realized fairly late that I should stay home and create a wonderful Thanksgiving for friends and family. Once that was decided I got very excited about doing the best Thanksgiving ever!

So, we got our guest list together and worried about people getting along. I decided to drop every expectation about how people would behave, react, interract. And, I kept dropping the expectations -- it doesn't happen just once, it's an active exercise. And I have to say it was one of my favorite Thanksgivings ever because the "chemistry" was perfect. It was joyful and stress-free.

How else was I lazy this season? I decided I felt like cooking for days! Seriously I was in the mood to cook and I wanted to make it the most amazing meal, decorate the most amazing table, and just cook up a storm. So, here's how it all got done -- the LAZY way ... step by step, a little bit each day so each day was relaxing and fun:

Saturday before ThanksgivingDesign the menu...

Cocktail Hour
· Pomegranate Champagne Punch
· Blue Cheese & Fig Crostini
· Pesto & Radish Crostini
· Artichoke & Olive Crostini
· Pomegranate Turkey (this was Aaron's Baby)
· Sourdough Wild Mushroom Sage Stuffing
· Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Fried Sage
· Apricot Pecan Sweet Potatoes
· Green Beans with Lemon, Butter & Herbs
· Lemon Smashed Potatoes
· Cranberry Sauce (this was my Mom's Baby)

· Pumpkin Cheesecake
· Pumpkin Pie (this was my Mom's Baby)
· Chocolate Apricot Tart
· Pumpkin Ice Cream (this ended up being the HIT of the dessert menu and it was easy!)

Sunday before Thanksgiving· Design the table and buffet table (you can see on photo above that I put post-its on the serving dishes to make sure everything is covered)
· Print out all the recipes
· Make shopping list for every single item on the menu - broken down into sections of the store -- Fruits/Veggies, Dairy, Dry Goods, etc.

Monday before Thanksgiving· Buy flowers
· Start setting the table (so that if what is in your mind's eye doesn't work in reality it can be tweaked)
· Buy new tablecloth (Because I was collaborating with Aaron, this meant adjusting the design in my head to accommodate his wishes, i.e., for a white tablecloth)

Tuesday before Thanksgiving
· All Grocery Shopping
· Buy flowers, candles and any other decorative items needed
· Make Pumpkin Cheesecake and ice cream custard
· Finish setting table to see if anything missing
· Prep sourdough bread for stuffing
· Prep bread for Crostini
· Tape recipes to kitchen cabinets -- as recipes are completed they get thrown away but a great way to keep them in eye’s view and not get them messed up with food drippings!

Wednesday before Thanksgiving
· Make Chocolate Apricot Tart
· Final step of ice cream – put custard in ice cream maker so it can set overnight
· Make Mushroom/Herb sautee for Stuffing
· Clean potatoes and sweet potatoes
· Take brussel sprouts off stalk and clean
· Make pesto for crostini hors d’oeuvres
Thanksgiving Day
· Final prep on all the food – but with so much having been done over last few days it’s pretty stress-free in the kitchen. And, there’s even plenty of time for me to go to the gym and pre-work it all off!
· Make gravy impromptu with drippings right before serving – add stock mixed with cornstarch to thicken
It looked good. It tasted good. But, most important -- it was FUN to do and LAZY!!!! But it was LAZY for me because this was my CHOICE this year -- to cook up a storm and entertain. You need to make choices that fill your heart and soul. Some years that might mean make it a potluck, another year it might mean go to a restaurant, or yet another might mean go out of's your CHOICE. Once you make the choice that gives you the most JOY make sure you do it so you have the least amount of stress by taking care of yourself and everyone around you....planning is my de-stressor and doing a little bit every day. Do what is LAZY for you!
Happy Lazy Holidays to YOU!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lazy Thanksgiving

For most people, the holidays are stressful for a myriad of reasons most of which have at least something to do with our expectations of what the holidays SHOULD look like. For Thanksgiving there is the Norman Rockwell, Martha Stewart, Gourmet Magazine (let's just pretend it's still around because I still can't quite admit it's gone), Food Network, HGTV glossy happy picture of the perfect holiday that begs to be mimicked.

There are lots of things you can do to relieve the stress: potluck, order certain parts of the meal, give assignments to family members, etc. But, the biggest stress reliever you can give yourself is literally letting go of the pictures in your mind of what it SHOULD be.

If you really have trouble letting go of the pictures, sit down with a stack of magazines and make a collage of what you think the perfect Thanksgiving should look. Don't take a long time with this -- just rip the pictures out and shove them onto a piece of paper or cardboard, glue them on's not about creating art it's about taking the picture out of your head and putting it into a 3 dimensional reality. You may get emotional, you may not. You may see very quickly the ridiculousness of it all. You may want to let it sink in for a few days.

When you are ready to let it go, and you have a safe place to do this -- maybe the backyard barbecue, you can burn it. Or bury it, or rip it up.

The point is that acknowledging that which you EXPECT is the first step to letting it go. The best way to go through the holidays is without expectations, letting it be what it is, and focusing on the love. What brings people together on the holidays -- even if you think it buried and dusty and unrecognizable -- is love. Drop the expectations and let the love carry you through because the pictures you create out of love are your very own. No one else on the planet has your exact pictures. They are real and rich. They aren't airbrushed and there aren't teams of people to support them: they just are what they are.

So, let the expectations go. Expect nothing -- even the negative stuff (overindulging, bickering, etc.) -- and you might have the biggest holiday surprise of your life and some very cool pictures.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lazy Shoes

I waited a couple months to report on these...I wanted to put a lot o' miles on them before I gave you my Lazy Woman opinion. Here it is KIGO shoes ROCK!

My pilates teacher who is a runner turned me on to these shoes. They are barefoot running shoes - inspired by the theory discussed in the book "Born to Run" which extols the virtues of running without running shoes, without arch support, etc.

Well I chose to stop running a couple years ago but I do work out -- elliptical or stairmaster -- every day. I also walk my dogs for a half hour every day. And, even more gratifying, I travel a lot and my greatest pleasure when I travel is walking...and walking...and walking and walking, exploring cities and countryside on foot.

Well these shoes are utterly spectacular for all of it! And the best news is that at the end of the day when my body is exhausted from climbing, running around, walking endlessly, etc. my feet are delightfully happy!

When I was in Paris last month, I had a very long day. I was booked back to back and running or walking quickly was actually the most expedient way to get between appointments. I was walking mostly in neighborhoods with cobblestone streets. My day ended climbing the endless stairs in Montmartre...up and down and up and down. I was literally walking for hours this day. And, at the end of the day my feet were buzzing with life but not in any shape or form even slightly aching as they normally would be with any other shoe -- even the most expensive running shoe, which is also far less attractive than these Mary Jane styled "running" shoes.

And they only weigh about 5 ounces which makes them the absolutely perfect travel companion. I rarely check bags and the most annoying thing to pack for me has always been my workout shoes...until now!

They are unbelievably reasonably priced. The last pair ofworkout shoes I bought were $120. These are just a little more than 1/2 of that -- with shipping. And, they got to me very quickly too.

My pilates teacher also reminded me recently that you can usually find coupons for these shoes if you google "kigo coupon." I forgot about her suggestion but they were still incredibly reasonably priced.

I can't say enough good things about these shoes but the last two things I'll say -- they dry very quickly and are actually comfortable even when it's pouring rain and they are totally wet. Never a single blister either. And I haven't had to wash them yet but you just wipe them down or wash in plain water. Easy. Lazy. Shoes.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lazy Denver Tip - Altitude Schmaltitude

The only other times I've been in Denver were only at the airport changing planes. It's a LOVELY city! But it is a mile high. One time I had to run through the Denver airport -- from literally one end to the other -- which is a very long way. I was sprinting to make a connecting flight and I was running out of breath. Once I arrived at the gate where I watched the plane pull away from the terminal, it took me about 20 minutes to get my breath back. I was wondering what the hell was going on. I called my dad and was telling him about it and he said "it's the altitude!" ...I had forgotten the whole mile high thing!

So I prepared myself by googling the altitude dealie and found a recommendation that you drink tons of water. In the elevator tonight I heard two other hotel guests talking about the same thing! And complaining, as I am, that you spend half your day with your local toilet. Well, I actually think it really is helping. I worked out at full throttle -- actually harder than I sometimes do because I kicked it up a notch tonight -- two notches actually on the elliptical) -- and literally felt fantastic afterward. I went out into the crisp very cold night and walked for a while after my workout. I was feeling great. Then I decided to take the stairs to my room since it's only on the second floor! And, wouldn't you know that I got winded.

But, I still feel fantastic...water, water, water, pee, pee, pee.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Trader Joe's Tuesday -- Lower Your Cholesterol with Joey!

Aaron's doctor recently prescribed cholesterol medicine for him. His cholesterol is only 245 -- not low, but as a doctor friend said, not worthy of cholesterol meds, particularly given his good cholesterol and other numbers. But it made me go back and look at my cholesterol numbers over the last several years and they've been steadily creeping up.

So, I am joining Aaron is his cholesterol lowering efforts. We're definitely eating less cheese. I'm realizing that just a little cheese goes a long way -- like my new favorite thing is a crunchy baked potato with NO BUTTER but one tablespoon of the soft goat cheese from Trader Joe's -- it's less calories than I eat when I add more than a tablespoon of butter, less cholesterol, and a lot more flavor. I just discovered this last night and oh my god can't wait to have another Goatato! LOL!

But, the reason I particularly love Trader Joe's today is they have so many oatmeal options. My favorites are the quick cooking old fashioned oats AND the quick cooking steel cut oats. I don't like instant. I like the ritual of cooking it in a little tiny pot every morning. And now that we are moving into cool weather it is particularly deliciosa. Today I had the steel cut and there is nothing to beat that crunch.

Recently, my friend's uncle gave me a little bottle of his homemade grape jelly gone wrong -- it was the one jar that had not quite "jelled" so it was more like syrup. One morning I thought I'd put a teaspoon of it in my oatmeal and oh was that wonderful. His "syrup/jam" is on the tart side which is what I prefer. But, I thought I'd bring up this inspiration just in case you aren't into the usual suspects for adding into your oatmeal -- like brown sugar, maple syrup, raisins, etc. You can try a fruity syrup to entice yourself to eat it. I often add toasted almonds too for a little added texture.

In London there's a place that serves "porridge" to go that I always use for my business breakfasts on the go. They put a little handful of granola on top of it.

So, if you have high cholesterol and oatmeal has left a bad taste in your mouth in the past, just try adding a few of your "favorite things..."

Yummy Healthy to you!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Stop the Madness!

My father passed away over a year ago...and I told myself that once I hit the one year mark I'd stop the madness. What madness? The "it's ok Bridget, you've experienced a great loss so you can essentially eat anything you feel like eating!" madness. So, I've been counting calories and making sure my input is less than my input.

I work out every day so exercise isn't an issue but I also realized a couple weeks ago that I am just never sore anymore, so I kicked it up a notch at the gym, with the specific goal that I be sore after every work out! That means it's working. Muscles are tearing and repairing. And, I'm adding more weight lifting because I've slacked a little on that, and it's good for the ol' lady bones too!

But, back to the madness. I was out running a bijillion errands this evening and I really really wanted something sweet. I had to stop at McDonalds to get a bunch of gift certificates for someone who looooooooooooves McDonalds. It's hard to walk into McDonalds when you have a sweet tooth. But, I remembered hearing that their ice cream cones are low in calories. Well, I confirmed post-indulging that the very excellent news is that it is, indeed, only 150 calories! I know it's not the healthiest thing I could eat, but you know there are worse things and I have to say it is supremely satisfying -- very good vanilla flavor, not sickly sweet, and the cone is super crunchy yummy.

And, then to make it a little more shameful, it only costs about 1/2 a penny for each calorie because this yummy little treat only puts you out 76 cents (69 cents + tax). You can't even park for 75 cents any more!

So, today I enjoyed stopping the madness. Good times, good times.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Five & Dime Fridays -- Mushrooms

The other day I was in the mood for mushrooms, and I had this idea while i was driving that I'd like to have that grilled flavor in my pasta...specifically grilled portobello mushrooms. There's something about the flavor of grilled -- slightly burned -- portobello mushrooms. So I ran to the store and got these yummies.
  1. Package of two large Portobello Mushrooms
  2. Package of Sliced Mushrooms
  3. Package of Pasta (I used spaghetti because it's my new obsession but whatever floats your boat)
  4. Garlic
  5. Lemon

So if you're gonna make this happen in 10 minutes, it'll only work if you have a gas grill or George Foreman grill....and follow this sequence:

  1. Put a pot of salted water on to boil.
  2. Turn on the grill and close the cover to get the heat going.
  3. Brush the portobello mushrooms lightly with olive oil and throw them on the heated grill.
  4. Chop garlic and throw in a pan with a little olive oil, and sautee til lightly browned.
  5. Hopefully the water is boiling --- and you can add the pasta!
  6. Add sliced mushrooms to the garlic.
  7. Run out to the grill and flip the portobellos if they are ready. I atually get them a little charred to add that meaty flavor.
  8. Check on your stove top items -- pasta and sauteed mushrooms.
  9. When portobellos are done, slice them up nicely and throw in with mushrooms in the pan.
  10. When pasta is done, drain and add zest of a lemon, juice of a lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  11. Optional Added Yummies: Chopped Flat Parsley and/or Grated Parmesan

Buon Appetito!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Five and Dime Friday - Gotta Love the Cucumber

This is my favorite salad of the week and it happens to have five perfectly balanced ingredients. It's full of protein too and makes a great meal just on its own...
  1. Arugula
  2. Baby Lettuce
  3. Gorgonzola Cheese
  4. Toasted Walnuts
  5. Cucumber

There's something about the texture of the crunchy nuts, soft cheese and crispy cucumber...yummmmmmmmmy!

For dressing I just drizzle a little Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil, a little salt and pepper and voila -- done!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lazy Weekend Soul Rejuvenation

Still feeling body & soul rejuvenation after a glorious relaxing weekend with old friends. There's nothing like hanging with dear old friends who know you inside and out, and love you just the way you are. Being on the ocean doesn't hurt, and having two massage therapists come in the middle of the weekend really didn't hurt! (If you are ever in Santa Barbara or Los Angeles and need a healing, delicious, strong, amazing massage SARAH GARNEY is fantastic --;
The Lazy Lunch above was the Farro Vegetable Soup -- recipe posted last week -- and it was unbelievable. Farro is my new favorite thing after this soup. I made the soup on Thursday and we ate it on Saturday. The Farro (whole wheat berries) was still perfectly textured with crunch, chew and softness....yummalicious! Everyone loved it. I added a sprinkle of grated parmesan and threw in a parmesan crisp (Trader Joe's, of course!). The open faced sandwiches are thanks to D'Angelo's Bakery which makes an unbelievable lemon rosemary bread and olive bread and one of the most amazing food treats on the planet: artichoke spread. If you go there for breakfast, you can order Eggs Rose -- toasted olive bread with artichoke spread and a poached egg. Then, of course grab some bread and artichoke spread to go!
So, the rest of the lunch was toasted bread with artichoke spread or avocado and cheeses and heirloom tomatoes....easy easy easy.
The food this weekend was ultimate lazy fare. I made all the lazy stuff I've posted here that requires a maximum of about 15 minutes in the kitchen, which made more time for relaxing and having fun!
Here's to everyone taking time out for rejuvenation -- in whatever form you can get it in. You have to fill up every once in a while to be able to give. I know it's hard to set aside a whole weekend to fill up, so take what you can get, and exploit it!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lazy Day Off

In Santa Barbara for a very unique weekend....six women gather each year around this time at our friend's beach house. We all went to high school together and a couple people have known each other since they were wee tots! Most of us only get to see each other once a year. A couple of them I see more regularly, but it's always just the most heart-warming thing to come together for a weekend of bliss once a year.

I brought my two dogs, Lucy and Tallulah, so we are all in integrity with the all chick rule.

We take turns being in charge of the food every year. This year I volunteered because it was rainy and cold in LA this week and I felt like cooking. I made a wonderful vegetarian chili with four different kinds of beans, corn, olives, mushrooms and all kinds of flavoring deliciousness including cumin. Think I'll add a beer when I warm it all up the final time.

Made a Farro & Vegetable soup that smells pretty good. Found it in Food & Wine magazine. It's Mario Batali's. Also from the same magazine I think I found a great Chickpea with Tomatoes and Carrots salad. Looks groovy.

Bottom line is I made a few big things and then got all kinds of lazy foods -- Lemon Pasta with fresh spinach and mushrooms for one dinner, Baked Potatoes with Asparagus and other veggies, lots of beautiful breads, cheeses, and yumminess that can all be thrown together so that no one is in the kitchen cooking for long.

I'm on a cake making binge and luckily it's Christina's birthday this week so I made a yummilicious looking chocolate cake cause she loves chcocolate. Will post the recipe and photo when I get back. Looks so moist and rich and oy can't wait to taste it!

So, here's to a lazy weekend -- enough prep done yesterday to make the weekend perfectly leisurely. Very exciting to have a good lazy break after months of hard work.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lazy London and Paris Parasseux

Just back from London and Paris ... so wanted to share some Lazy tips from my travels in no particularly un-lazy order:

  1. Lazy Eating Habits -- My friend Peter made up a new way of eating that I think is just the hippest, laziest way to eat: he is a FLEXITARIAN. He is a vegetarian during the week and indulges, as he wishes in meat, on the weekends.

  2. Lazy Hotels -- London and Paris hotels have notoriously tiny rooms, so I chose to rent an apartment in each city. I used Farnum & Christ for the Notting Hill haven and a Paris Autrement for the Marais. If you are going to spend any time in your hotel room at all, I highly recommend renting an apartment for the sheer luxury of relaxing, languishing space. Also, if you have any hope of a bathtub, this is your answer. It's rare for hotel rooms -- other than very expensive rooms -- to have tubs. The only caveat: before you leave write out all the things that you would use a concierge for, and see if you want to give it up. For instance, calling cabs, printing boarding passes, theatre tickets, etc. Internet cafes have printers and you can google "internet cafes paris" for instance, to find locations near you for boarding pass printing. The only thing I didn't think of: emergency numbers. We had two guys start to break into our Paris apartment (by the way awesome neighborhood, an apartment that had never been broken into before) -- Aaron yelled at them and they ran but it was terrifying and I realized I had no idea how to call the police in Paris! LOL! So, get these numbers into your phone before you leave: police, ambulance, etc.

  3. Lazy Chunnel -- Travel between London and Paris is FAR LAZIER via the EuroStar because flying between the two cities requires expensive, tense travel from the city to the airports which are far away from the cities. Only tip: buy food before you get on the train --- train food is not great.

  4. Lazy London Lunches -- Oh my god there truly must be an Earl of Sandwich who has blessed this city from beyond. They literally have the best sandwiches on the planet in London, and they are delicately prepared with the freshest of light and lovely ingredients, i.e., not like our piled on, fat-ridden, porky, bulky sloppy American luncheon fare. I miss them. They are everywhere, and honestly I think the best, most consistently wonderful are from the biggest chain -- Pret a Manger -- which I think has now moved state-side (I haven't seen one in LA yet but I hear they are here).

  5. Lazy Cafes -- They have it really right in Paris .... the energy at cafes (even the ones on busy corners, although more so on the little ones on side streets and alleys) is almost meditative, isn't it?.... There is the sweetest cafe right behind Saint Paul, with a view of the Seine where we watched a mother and her tiny little boy have the most relaxing, sweet afternoon tea time. Even squirrelly energetic little boys calm down at cafes. It's not the same here at the local cafe... maybe because some people are having wine, some apperitifs, some warm soups, some cool desserts ... feeding whatever their body's whim is for the moment, even a cigarette if that is the need of the moment. Satiated people and boys (with hot chocolate and croissant) sitting enjoying their luck.

I am clear how lucky I am to be able to dip into the worlds of other much to appreciate, absorb, find delicious.

More lazy tips from abroad later...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Lazy Woman on the Road

I've been traveling a lot so I've missed a few Trader Joe's Tuesdays and Five & Dime Fridays ....and now I'm off to London and Paris for work and a wee bit of pleasure.

So, stay tuned...Happy Lazy Fall to All!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lazy Liver

I have the most-amazing-in-the-whole-history-of-the-universe ACCUPUNCTURIST. I made an appoinment a few weeks ago to see her to keep on track with dealing LAZILY with perimenopausal symptoms. She's doing such an amazing job for me.

Little did I know that the few weeks since making the appointment would be filled with extraordinary stressors. The last seven days were so highly stressful, with wacky wild ass stressors coming from every different weird angle you could imagine, that by the time I got to her I was nearly a mess.

When I don't manage my stress as lazily as might best benefit me, my body starts getting wacky illnesses -- the kind requiring blood tests and ultrasounds and the like. I've got some real life "stuff" going on now that is in large part -- if not in all part -- due to the stress.

Marsha Connor my aforementioned most-amazing-in-the-whole-history-of-the-universe ACCUPUNCTURIST told me that my liver is the source of all this "stuff" and told me that the liver is like a dutiful royal soldier who stands up mightily to protect me against these stressors. But, she said "it isn't at no cost that he defends you..." So, the other duties of said dutiful soldier liver, like filtering blood and hormones and the like are unfortunately post-wartime duties that are left for more peaceful times.

I told Marsha that I have been craving a la Popeye massive amounts of spinach. Indeed, leafy greens that are slightly bitter are great for your liver soldier is water with fresh lemon or lime.

So, if you are ever in a high stress period, one thing you can do --- if you aren't finding time for bubble baths, massage, yoga, breathing, meditation, calming this and calming that, lazy this and lazy -- is put the right things in your mouth: drink lemony water and choose your green leafies at meals.

She also gave me a fabulously named chinese herb blend --- Serenagen (by Metagenics) -- it's amazing! It does its name justice -- it improves the serene factor!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Trader Joe's Tuesday - Chocolate & Wine

I had a fairly miraculous culinary experience this weekend. We went to Los Olivos, the

most amazingly Italian country-side like wine country located just 1/2 hour East of Santa Barbara. It's actually hard to get a bad flavor to accidentally land on a taste bud when you are in Los Olivos. We actually haven't ever had a disappointing meal, snack or sip there, but this experience at Saarloos & Sons was nothing short of heavenly.

Saarloos & Sons has partnered with a brilliant baking duo, who bake cupcakes filled with unique wine-infused creams, custards, patissieres, and gooey goodness, topped with just enough frosting that isn't at all too sugary. The cakes are moist, moist, moist, and fluffy.

But, when you grab your "Flight of Cupcakes" -- 6 tiny babies -- you walk just a few steps to the tasting bar, where they pour six glasses of elixir for you to drink with your tasty bites.

This was a first for me. Sure, I've had red wine with chocolate but really mostly by accident: red wine still in the glass while having dessert. But, these pairings were divine.

Well, Trader Joe's has plenty of wine and they also have plenty of cupcakes. So, if you can't make your way to Los Olivos in the near future, give TJ's a shot. My recommendation is a nice Pinot Noir with a deep dark chocolate cupcake today!

Buon Appetito Wine Country Style!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Five & Dime Fridays - Grill, Baby, Grill

My boyfriend was a non-fan of zucchini until I introduced him to GRILLED zucchini. It is amazing how charring zucchini -- even minimally on the edges or with grill marks -- really adds a most delicious dimension to the flavor. Now Aaron is addicted to grilled zucchini. And, he made the very best grilled marinated shrimp so this Five & Dime Friday is dedicated to him

So, here's a speedy 10 minute dinner (if you have a gas grill outdoors or a Foreman grill inside):

1. Zucchini -- cut tips off and cut lengthwise down the middle
2. Fresh Shrimp (or frozen that you've thawed in fridge while at work)
3. Frozen Jasmine Rice
4. Olive Oil
5. Spices

Heat up your grill. Take a big bowl and throw in about 1/4 olive oil, 1 teaspoon red chili flakes, 1 tablespoon herbs de provence, and some lemon or lime juice to taste -- enough to coat what you've got (so adjust if you do a ton). Toss the zucchini and shrimp in the marinade, while you throw the rice in the microwave. Throw the zucchini and shrimp on the heated grill. Neither of these items takes long to grill. One flip in 2 or 3 minutes and you are done. When you get back from the grill, your rice will be done and you'll have a lovely perfectly balanced fresh supper to serve!


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Trader Joe's Tuesday: Bollywood!

The star of the week..... BOLLYWOOD!

I've been to India several times, and I'm a vegetarian, so you can probably guess how much I love Indian food. Well, there's a new Lazy Food at Trader Joe's:

chickpeas seasoned with garlie, ginger & aromatic spices
All that needs to be said is that within 3 minutes you can have a meal:
1. Pop a bag of Trader Joe's Frozen Jasmine Rice in the microwave for a couple minutes. My microwave takes 2.22 minutes to make perfect rice.
2. Take rice out of the microwave and put in a microwaveable bowl.
3. Empty the contents of the chickpea bag on top of the rice, and pop it back in the microwave for another minute.
4. If you want to be fancy, while microwaving, chop up some cucumber and mix in with yogurt. If you have mint in the garden or fridge, chop up a few leaves and mix in to the cucumber and yogurt. And you have RAITA!
5. Dollop either the raita or even just a dollop of plain old yogurt or ...nothing at all! Seriously, it doesn't NEED anything else to be added but if you want to have that wonderful Indian symphony of sweet, savory, spicy and cooling all in one bite you can go the extra Lazy Mile.
Yum Yum!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Five and Dime Fridays -- Most Delicious Potatoes in the World!

It's FIVE & DIME FRIDAY and before we get to what we're gonna cook up we have to:

1. Ask a question
2. Tell a story

So, the question is "DO YOU KNOW ABOUT GROUPONS?" They are FANTASTIC! Go to and sign up. It's free and they give you an offer every day of things you can save on -- food, spas, events, etc.

I have many excellent Groupon stories but the best one is the $80 worth of food we got for $40 at YAMASHIRO's in the Hollywood Hills, next to the Magic Castle. If you don't live in LA and have been a tourist here you may have heard of Yamashiro's because it's a great spot for tourists, just above Graumann's Chinese, next door to the Magic Castle, with a view of the Capitol Records building, and nestled in a lovely hill setting. The building has a great history, and the kitchen has a fairly new chef...and that's why we bought the Groupon because my wonderful friend and author, Franz Metcalf, said he was great.

The meal was nothing short of brilliant. One of the most spectacular dishes was Smashed Potatoes with Preserved Lemon which was served with my perfectly grilled salmon and white asparagus. I love potatoes and felt like I had tried everything but holy moly these were good. So, I googled recipes and found the link to a great meal by Suzanne Goin of Lucques. We made it and it truly was a wonderful meal.

I recommend following her recipe to a T, but here's anothe Lazy version of the Smashed Potatoes:

FIVE & DIME FRIDAY -- Lemony Potatoes!
  1. Red New Potatoes -- 1 to 1 1/2 pounds
  2. Preserved Lemon -- 1 lemon
  3. Olive Oil - 1 or 2 tablespoons
  4. Butter - 2 or 3 tablespoons
  5. Salt & Pepper

Steam or boil up the potatoes. Smash them up a little. You can use a masher if you want, but you don't really need it. Just squish 'em up a bit. Chop up the Preserved Lemon and throw it in the potatoes. Then add olive oil, butter and salt & pepper to your taste. You don't need a ton of oil and butter to make this work. This can be a very low fat recipe if you choose to make it that way!

There's nothing to it! Zesty fresh potatoes in no time!

Buon appetito!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Trader Joe's Tuesday -- Staying Hydrated!

"Triple digits" -- it's a horrible phrase here in LA because the proper translation is "I'm meeeeeeeeeeeelting!" When I went to the gym after 5 p.m. last evening it was 101! It was 96 when I came out nearly two hours later! Oy!

I'm going to be taking my fairy goddaughters to Disneyland this evening but it will still be quite hot when we go so Aaron was just saying "Remember to drink a lot of water..." I said "I always drink tons of water" but he's right, it's easy to get distracted and forget to drink. At home it's easy. On my desk at all times -- icy cold water, because that's the way I like it. AND, generally you'll find a slice o' something in it too.

My favorite thing to do is make a big pitcher of water with just a couple/few slices of orange, lemon, watermelon, cucumber and some mint. But, if I don't have all of those things I generally do at least one. I served a friend some ice water with sliced orange the other day and she said "I've never had this before." I was sort of shocked. She's quite a sophisticated well-travelled woman! But, it's true restaurants do lemon at most.

Many people hate drinking water, so in this heat it's particularly important to do whatever you can to make your water enticing. If you have to start with Perrier or San Pellegrino, go for it. Sometimes that's a necessary stepping stone to sipping pure flat water. Or, try one of the Vitamin Water type drinks that are at least moving you toward pure water, which is ideal for your body on so many levels.

Another way to move toward pure water is to add a splash of juice to your glass of water. One of my fav's at Trader Joe's is Blackberry Crush, but they have soooooo many juices. Just a splash can make a difference between finishing or not finishing your glass of water. If you really have a dislike of drinking water, start with more juice and wean yourself off it slowly as you make drinking pure water a habit.

The most excellent news about drinking a lot of water is that it gives you more energy. I've experienced this personally but if you want to read more about it, just google "drinking water gives energy."

So, when you are at Trader Joe's, stock up on little tasty tidbits you can add to your water to make yourself drink, drink, drink, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, and ENERGIZE!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Five & Dime Fridays --

My first entrepreneurial pursuit when I was about 7 years old was Pizza Delivery! I don't remember the exact ingredients I used, but the one main ingredient was English Muffins! I'm pretty sure it was just english muffins, tomato sauce and cheese ...maybe some chopped black olives. I remember thinking they were delicious -- although, by the time I got them to the "customer" they must have been stone cold! The most important thing is that I sold out, and at 25 cents each that was a LOT OF MONEY! LOL!

Lazy Popeye Spinach & Chicken Pizza

  1. Sourdough English Muffin or Pre-Made Pizza Crust
  2. Pre-Made Tomato Sauce
  3. Mozzarella and/or other cheeses you love that melt well
  4. Fresh Spinach (tossed with a little olive oil, salt & pepper)
  5. Pre-Cooked Roased or Barbecued Chicken

Preheat the oven to 450. Brush the english muffin or crust with a little olive oil. Just layer on all the other ingredients -- in order of appearance in the above list -- and put it in the oven. If you are using pre-made pizza crust, follow instructions on the package. If you are doing the English Muffin version, pop it in at 450 degree oven for about 5 minutes. NOTE: When I did this when I was a kid I did them in a Toaster Oven -- much faster and less energy waste!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Trader Joe's Tuesday -- Pasta with Tomato & Basil

OK, Aaron and I are now seriously obsessed with making the best Pasta with Tomato & Basil in the history of mankind. We saw a "Best Thing I Ever Ate" episode featuring top chefs sharing their favorite sauces. Ted Allen, previously of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and currently pretty much always on The Food Network, said his favorite sauces is the Spaghetti with Tomato & Basil at Scarpetta in NYC. People pay $24 at the restaurant for a simple lovely portion of what looks like the most amazing spaghetti you've ever eaten.

So, we googled the recipe. You can too, and you'll see several versions, including the one I'm including with this blog entry, where you can see video and stills to guide you through the process.

On the way to our very serious cooking session to try to mimic Scott Conant, I stopped at Roma Market, an Italian market that is so authentic and amazing that I wrote an article about it for Pasadena Magazine. I found the most amazing, ripe, huge, deep red Roma tomatoes I've ever seen. They always have fully ripe produce, so you can only buy for the day you want to eat/cook. Neither Aaron nor I had Romas left on our vines and none of the Farmer's Markets oddly had any either.

Then, also at Roma, instead of Spaghetti, I got a very expensive bag of pasta flown in from Italy (in fact no English on the package) of something that looked like Bucatini (very thick spaghetti). This was a mistake, we've decided.

We made the recipe -- it is fairly labor intensive, but really fun because you are infusing oil with basil, garlic and pepper flakes while you work on making the fresh romas into tomato sauce. I've always used canned tomatoes for my sauces.

It really was great, but it wasn't spectacular. I loved it more than Aaron. He blamed the noodles. I want to try another version of the Scarpetta recipe I found online (the one from Good Morning America) and see how that tastes. I think it loooks like the right amount of tomatoes (20, as opposed to 8 in the recipe we used). I'll report back after I make that one.

BUT, the next day I made another pasta sauce with the leftover tomato juices and canned tomatoes, and it was spectacular! ....which brings me to...... TRADER JOE'S TUESDAY!

There is a LAZY version of the Scarpetta recipe, for which you can buy all of the ingredients at Trader Joe's!

Use the recipe I posted and follow it. You can actually buy every single ingredient at Trader Joe's but if you want to make it super lazy (i.e., not do the fresh tomato part which is the labor intensive part), just substitute two large cans of tomatoes for the 8 fresh ones and seed them as well as you can (with washed hands), strain, etc.

If you want to do the non-Lazy version with fresh tomatoes, just make sure you find the ripest of Romanos in the lot.

TIP: To make the serving of pasta look super cool on the plate, take a can and take off both ends with a can opener. Stand it on plate, and then take tongs and grab pasta and drop into the "mold" you have made. Once you've put a full serving in there, remove the "mold"/can, and voila, it pretty much keeps its shape.

This make a Lovely Summer Supper! How can you go wrong with Tomatoes and Basil????

Buon Appetito!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Five & Dime Friday -- Summery Lemony Delight

We are having an unseasonably cool August here in Los Angeles. Apparently, though, it's going to start heating up this I'm thinking of cooling things we can cook up as we move into the heat.

I don't eat meat or chicken but I always like to put lots of recipes here for chicken lovers because I know how much people like chicken. Obviously, you can substitute chicken for any other meat product...even chicken sausage or whatever you can sautee up in a few minutes.

Lazy Lemony Chicken Pasta
  1. Lemon Pepper Pasta from Trader Joe's
  2. Pre-Cooked Roasted Chicken
  3. Sliced Mushrooms
  4. Lemon
  5. Butter

While the pasta is cooking, sautee mushrooms in butter and fresh lemon juice. Throw in some salt, pepper or favorite herbs if you wish. At the very end of the sautee process, throw in the the chicken pieces (or whatever meat you choose). Then toss with hot pasta!

The vegetarian version of this that I do for myself is with black olives or zucchini.

Light, lovely summery fare for you!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Trader Joe's Tuesday -- Lazy Day Late

My favorite time at Trader Joe's is right before closing. That's when I went tonight. It's so peaceful and feels almost like you're cheating when you go at that hour. Wait, it's so easy to get to things! Can it be true? It's not a Trader Joe's dream is it? No, it's just before closing, and all the "Crew" are excited to fulfill your every need so they can peacefully close the doors on time and get to the real work they need to do before they can leave.

I whipped around getting everything I need and one of the things I was almost out of was Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits. An old boyfriend confessed to one day reaching back into the TJ bag behind his car seat, reaching in a box for a cookie and munching all the way home on one after another of the Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits. I understand why. They smell mighty good. They even sound mighty good when being passionately munched by Lucy and Tulle.

But, as much as I love peanut butter, and as clear as it is that each ingredient in the list is edible, I have my peanut butter fixes in different forms.

The latest use of my Trader Joe's Peanut Butter fixes was in the form of Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies. I only bought two bananas because I thought they would definitely mash into a cup's worth o' banana. Not so. I was about 1/4 cup short. So, we filled the cup to the brim with peanut butter. What an awesome, subtle addition to these cookies.

The recipe link is attached to this blog entry. Check it out if you like a very rich almost muffin-like cookie with a subtle taste of banana (and peanut butter if you do as we did!). They aren't a typical chocolate chip cookie at all, but boy are they delicious.

Frankly I wanted to slather on more peanut butter because even though I didn't want to make peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, once I had the subtle hint of peanut butter and the cakiness of the cookie, it begged a spot o' peanut butter. I didn't indulge because the cookies were enough. But, peanut butter really is delicious isn't it.

My Trader Joe's favorite -- salted, creamy peanut butter.

Now, don't get me started on almond butter....

Friday, August 06, 2010

Five & Dime Friday -- Mediterranean Pita Fest

It's warm and sunny over most of the U.S. today, so here is a cool sandwich --- with super-cooling-cucumber --- that's super easy to make for lunch or dinner:

Vegetarian Mediterranean Sandwich
1. Pita Bread
2. Feta Cheese
3. Cucumber
4. Tomato
5. Olives -- Kalamata or regular ol' black olives

Non-Vegetarian Mediterranean Sandwich
1. Pita Bread
2. Roasted Chicken (or any of the pre-cooked chickens you can Find at Trader Joe's and elsewhere!)
3. Feta Cheese
4. Cucumber
5. Tomato


I lightly toast my pita bread and thinly slice all the incredients so very bite has a bit of all the flavors in it. Pile all the ingredients in as you see fit --- or if you prefer, throw them all in a bowl and mix like a salad and then stuff the pita. Drizzle with a little olive oil and vinegar, throw a dash of salt and pepper and enjoy!

OPTIONAL ITEMS for both sandwiches: SPINACH, LETTUCE or other GREENS. If you have MINT in your garden (if you don't, by the way, it grows like a weed), it's a wonderful addition to salads and sandwiches with feta. I like PEPPEROCCINI too sometimes!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Lazy Gardener

Since I straddle two households, spending a lot of time at Aaron's, we did full out herb garden at his house, and he planted tons of tomatoes in the ground. At my house, I planted 6 plants in pots in the front where I would literally see their progress several times a day, and stay on top of watering. Where I normally plant tomato plants is in the backyard in the ground. But, boy can I neglect watering back there. So, the lazy answer for me is tomatoes in pots.

My plants are providing at least a tomato a day. And, oh my god how delicious. There is nothing like freshly plucked tomato on ANYTHING for a fresh delicious summer addition to any meal. And, that is one helluva lazy plant to cultivate -- whether in the ground or in a pot, you really can't go wrong, and they will just keep giving you tomatoes! The garden gift that keeps on giving!

So, run out and get a tomato plant if you don't have one...even if it's just one plant on your front porch. You'll feel so proud to serve your home grown delights.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Trader Joe's Tuesday -- Best Crunchy Sweet Thing of All Time

I'm posting Tuesday a wee bit early because I'm traveling tomorrow...and today's Trader Joe's gem is something I very proudly turned my boyfriend on to, not unlike a crack dealer really.

If you are looking for something to fulfill the crunch-sweet-plus-a-tiny-bit-o-salt thing, this is the ticket:

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Roasted Pistachio Toffee

Usually toffee is wedded to almonds or pecans. But, Trader Joe's in their inimitable genius made a happy marriage with pistachios!

And, it's DARK chocolate, which kicks it up a notch too.

What to do with it? Well, of course, munch it just as it is from the container. But, might I tell you that chopped up and put on vanilla ice cream... DREEEEEEAMY!

I'm going to make tiramisu later this week and I'm going to smash up a bunch of these babies and sprinkle them all over the top so it'll be dark brown chocolate, light brown toffee plus the green pistachios...then with a little lavender and a flower in the middle it'll be gorgeous! Will try to remember to post the photo.

Buon Appetito and Good Crunching to All!