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,