November 2010


I haven’t completely given up on trying out new recipes every week; I’ve just been really busy and am hardly at home for dinner! I’m determined to keep up with meal planning though; it makes grocery shopping and deciding what to cook/eat much easier. I’ve been relying on my Everyday Food cookbook, as just about all the recipes appeal to me. Last week, I gave Martha Stewart’s Spaghetti Puttenesca a try, but changed the recipe so much that I’m not sure I can even call it that!

First, I meant to get anchovies. I forgot that the boy doesn’t like fishy fish and that I would have to leave it out of his portion. Then, I somehow ended up with sardines in my cart instead.

At least I got ones that were skinless, boneless, and marinating in olive oil…now, I know I’ve seen these being eaten all over the food blog world but I was still wary!  To a jar of canned whole tomatoes, I added garlic, salt, ground pepper, artichoke hearts, capers, and the smashed sardines.

Served with whole wheat spaghetti, voila!

I have to admit, I didn’t entirely mind the sardines. They added a salty bite to the sauce. In fact, between the sardines and the capers and the kosher salt I added at the beginning (overkill, I know!), the dish was extremely salty but in a more complex way than just an overload of simple table salt.

I can’t lie; I did throw away the rest of the fish that I didn’t use in the pasta. I just wasn’t ready to conquer sardines!

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First things first, Happy Birthday Dad! If we weren’t separated by the entire USA right now, I’d be handing you a chocolate cupcake from Sprinkles – my favorite. Hope you and the littlest sister are having fun and eating extra mashed potatoes on my behalf!

So Monday night, I followed in Megan’s footsteps and attended a movie premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theater – my first! – for Burlesque. My favorite part of the movie was the dance/song numbers. Christina has a killer voice!

Not only did they have free popcorn and soda (I’m a sucker for that stuff), I also got to see Eric Dane. They don’t call him McSteamy for nothing! Speaking of McSteamy, I was able to bring the boy along to the movie. Doesn’t he clean up nice?

When the film was over, we headed to Drai’s for the after party. Another first! I used to be all over the Hollywood scene, but now I’m more into ice cream and movies and sweatpants. Still, even I’ve heard enough about this club to be excited. It’s on the rooftop of the W Hotel in Hollywood and was pretty swanky. For an event, the food was surprisingly good, but of course I only snapped a photo of the desserts.

Don’t be fooled, that’s just one shelf!

Hands down, the best part of the night was the photo booth. It was even equipped with wigs and feather boas. Don’t we all look like models? I swear, I could have hung around and snapped pictures all night.

I wonder how much one of these things costs and whether or not I can use it to take all of my pictures from now on…although, don’t think I’ll be coloring my hair black or chopping it off just under my ears any time soon! But, I think this would be SO fun to have at a big party and the printed photos would make for perfect take-away gifts, right? Mental note 🙂

While most of blogger land was attending the Foodbuzz festival this past weekend, I was spending some quality time with my mom. She’s been to LA so many times, it’s getting hard to find new things to do, but we managed very nicely!  We kicked off her trip with dinner at Pitfire Pizza, one of my absolutely favorite spots. The Culver City location is especially cool, and we managed to snag one of the very few tables outside.

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I bought a bottle of Chardonnay after receiving a few enthusiastic “yes” votes to drinking some wine with our late dinner. It was surprisingly good, not too acidic or too sweet. Too bad the label is covered in this photo, otherwise I might just have to go out and find it!

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Even though the menu at Pitfire is pretty great, the restaurant has seasonal specials that are AMAZING. I ended up ordering the Pumpkin Pizza, with sage-roasted winter squashes, braised red chard, brown butter, Fontina, pepitas, and pumpkin seed oil. The crust was a wee bit crispy for my taste, but otherwise, I found another winner!

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Who am I kidding? I say that about ALL the pizzas here.

Friday I took the day off work and we headed out bright and early for Disneyland and California Adventure. My coworker hooked us up with a really great ticket deal, so we didn’t even have to choose between the two parks. Our first ride was a classic (in my book) — The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Don’t we look fearless?

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The ride was so empty, not only was there no wait, we got to ride again. Just unbuckled our seatbelts to reset the system and headed back up for a second round. Is it alarming that my mom and I look so darn happy?

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Despite the fact that temperatures were in the high 8os, Disney was already being decked out for Christmas. Mom and I headed straight from our double dose of tummy turning to the parks’ only loop roller coaster, California Screamin’. See it back there?!

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Of course we waited for the front car…and of course we are just as giddy on this ride as the last.

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After all that gut wrenching, we took it easy with a ride on the carousel. It’s my belief that you are NEVER too old to ride on something so whimsical. If the seat fits…right?

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Before leaving California Adventure, we hammed it up a bit with some of the characters around the park. Mom and I actually waited on a mini-line with girls in princess costumes to snap a photo with these funny soldiers.

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If you’ve ever wondered where my quirky nature comes from, look no further…

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Disneyland is literally steps away from California Adventure, which makes park hopping so easy and stress-free. There were definitely people at the park, but the longest we waited was 25 minutes, and for some rides, there was virtually no wait at all. We went on the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones Adventure (which was new to me and so fun!), the Finding Nemo submarine, Matterhorn bobsleds, Buzz Lightyear blasters, and our favorite of the day, Splash Mountain. Again, the huge gleeful grins…

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By the way, I got SOAKED.

We treated ourselves to huge ice creams and managed to eat nearly every bite. I can’t remember the last time I had a waffle cone and it was perfect. Sugar cones are so inferior, I think I’d rather just have my ice cream in a cup!  The waffle cones/bowls were made right before our eyes and smelled heavenly.

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We also took a few minutes after eating to pose for pictures with the castle, which is kind of puny compared to the one in Disney World. I’d imagine it looks much bigger if you are 5.

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After 7 hours at Disney, we belatedly hit the road to meet Rachel for dinner at Newport Landing. Rachel got us a table outside overlooking Newport Harbor and Balboa Island (Arrested Development anyone??). Our original plan was to arrive for happy hour and the sunset, but we ended up with dark skies and only 15 minutes to order some $3 glasses of wine. Still, the food was great (I had a cup of crab/artichoke bisque and a huge grilled vegetable platter with eggplant, zucchini, tomato, carrots, bell pepper, mashed potatoes and spinach with garlic soy sauce) and the view was even better.

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Saturday, we spent most of the day walking and talking and shopping. Everyone came over later for a home cooked meal (my black bean & sweet potato enchiladas were a huge hit!) and lots of wine.

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I love bringing together my LA life and my Jersey life. There’s something really nice about having all the most important people in your life know each other, rather than just hear about each other. KJ, Julia and my mom are all old friends by this point!

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Rach and I were both sad to see mom go. I can’t wait to spend time with her over Christmas! Trust me, we are counting down the days already.

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Today I was reading the December issue of Town & Country. There’s a great interview with Ina Garten and Nora Ephron where they start talking about their newly published books and immediately segue to food. The interview closes with Ina saying this:

I was once at the Three Guys coffee shop on Madison Avenue, and the guy in the booth behind me was ordering an egg white omelet, toast without butter, and a decaf  coffee — that poor guy. I’d rather live less than live so blandly.

Words to live by, don’t you think?

Tomorrow I have off from work to spend time with my mom; she is in town visiting. Happy early weekend!

Did everyone have a great Halloween? Personally, I have a fierce love for all holidays, but my last few Halloweens have been a little lackluster. When I was a kid, my sisters and I used to plan our costumes for ages. My mom was super handy with paint, glitter, and a glue gun; we actually still have these huge monarch butterfly wings she made for me one year!

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We were so dedicated to trick-or-treating that we’d plot out our routes in advance. Since my childhood days were pre-cell phones, my dad would drive around the neighborhood around dinnertime until he found us girls and our friends and pass us slices of pizza through the car window for sustenance. Hardcore, I know. We just couldn’t stand to miss one single second of candy collecting!

While I used to have a unique and amazing outfit every year, now I’ve resorted to recycling costume ideas from my youth.  Kitten then…

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Kitten now!  Is it weird or amazing that I look exactly the same, bangs included?

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This year, I had the very best intentions, but almost every single one of my plans fell apart at the last minute. Luckily, I had a few consolations to keep me happy. First, the Dia De Los Blancos wine I got from World Market. It was way too sweet for my taste but the dancing skeletons more than made up for it.  

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I also had candy. A lot of candy, actually. Here’s a preview of the package I got from my mom…

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She still makes Halloween bags for me and my sisters, and we get to relive our youth since she uses pillowcases from when we were kids. For me this year, Popples. How awesome, right?

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Saturday night, I ended up grabbing a drink (Dark & Stormy, so Halloween-appropriate now that I think about it) at my favorite Santa Monica bar. I dressed up as a ballerina, which was great because I love all things uber girly.  My tutu kept sticking up in the back, but I did get it in the toddler section at Target, so that makes sense…thank goodness for elastic waistbands AND sparkly tiaras.

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Sunday I barely left my apartment and stayed in to clean and cook. I used up all the vegetables in my fridge to make a proper roast with butternut squash, potatoes, zucchini, shallots and jalapeño chicken sausage. The squash and potatoes got coated with rosemary, sea salt, pepper and a tablespoon of Honey Ridge Farms Balsamic Honey Vinegar that I received in my Foodzie tasting box.

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I dumped the bowl above onto a baking sheet and roasted it for an hour at 400 degrees; everything else cooked for 20 minutes at the same temperature. The final result was great! I haven’t had a big mix like this in a while. Next time, I would add more Balsamic Honey Vinegar, because the taste got lost a bit. Maybe I’ll use it on salad greens or raw tomatoes so the flavor shines through! 

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Of course, it isn’t Halloween without [more] candy…

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And a True Blood marathon! Rachel and I bummed around all day and finished off Season 3.

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Note to self, think vampire fangs for next Halloween 🙂