Monday, November 24, 2014

Favorite Finds: McConnell's Ice Cream

I have pretty high ice cream standards.  Besides looking for natural ingredients (basically, ingredients I recognize and can pronounce), I look for a creamy and smooth base with spot-on flavors. 

Being here in San Francisco, I am pretty spoiled with good ice cream. Bi-Rite, Smitten, Humphrey Slocombe, and Double Rainbow are all within reach and have great ice creams.

But lately, I have been cheating on my local ice cream brands. McConnell's Ice Cream stole my heart earlier this summer, and I continue to be impressed with their ice creams.

First, let's talk about flavors. Their Eureka Lemon and Marionberries ice cream is the perfect summer treat. It's creamy and tart, with beautiful purple streaks of berries running through the ice cream. This flavor has converted me from a chocolate/coffee/caramel lover to a lemon ice cream lover.

Recently, Z and I picked up some of their Peppermint Stick ice cream, and we once again blown away by the flavor. It's the perfect way here in California to celebrate the holiday season--refreshing peppermint ice cream! It's even better than eating a peppermint stick, I promise!

You can find McConnell's ice cream in select grocery stores, or you can order online here!

All images via McConnell's!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Weekend Reading

Image via @amybelievesinpink on Instagram

Wow, this week really has flown by! I want to spend this weekend getting active again--playing tennis, going to Zumba. I also have some fall recipes to try out in anticipation for next week. Lately, I've been craving soup! Plus, an old friend from Stanford is visiting, and I'm looking forward to a Girls' Night Out with her!

To get you to happy hour, here are some weekend links...

Happy Friday!

I'm a fan of the German-style beer garden, and I'm glad to see it's becoming a trend! {link}

What's in pumpkin spice flavoring? It might surprise you... {link}

The best french fries in the Bay {link}

Watch an interview with Christopher Kostow, the chef at the Restaurant at Meadowood {link}

A day in the life of Dominique Ansel, the creator of the Cronut {link}

I'm a fan of big family breakfasts...are you? {link}

I am dying to try these Creme Fraiche Doughnuts with Salted Brown Butter Glaze {link}

The Melt is getting a menu and technology re-vamp! {link}

Where to take your family for a drink when they're in town this holiday season {link}

12 recipes for a gluten-free Thanksgiving {link}

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Shirred Eggs

Baked Eggs with Farro and Parmesan Cheese Move over poached eggs, meet my new favorite brunch dish, shirred eggs.

Shirred eggs are baked in the oven, maybe with a splash of cream, a sprinkling of herbs, or some roasted vegetables. I made a version below with leftover farro, scallions, cream, and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Feel free to add in whatever leftovers you have!

This dish is also great for holiday guests--it's easy to scale the recipe for visitors. Shirred eggs are the easiest of easy brunch dishes, and practically foolproof!

Baked Eggs with Farro and Parmesan Cheese

Shirred (Baked) Eggs

Serves 2
from Mark Bittman

Butter or oil as needed
1/4 cup farro (optional)
Cream (optional)
1 scallion, chopped
2 eggs
1 teaspoon parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Smear a bit of butter or oil in 2 custard cups or small ramekins. If you like, split the farro between the cups and put a couple of teaspoons of cream in the bottom of each. Add the scallions on top.

Baked Eggs with Farro and Parmesan CheeseBreak one egg into each cup, and sprinkle the cheese evenly between the two cups.  Put the cups on a baking sheet.

Baked Eggs with Farro and Parmesan Cheese

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the eggs are just set and the whites are solidified. Because of the heat retained in the cups, these will continue to cook after you remove them from the oven, so it's best to undercook them slightly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

Baked Eggs with Farro and Parmesan Cheese

Friday, November 14, 2014

Weekend Reading!

It's only fitting that this week's collection of articles and links focuses on Thanksgiving. I'm looking forward to a weekend of football, family, and book club! Enjoy this beautiful fall weekend!

How the Thanksgiving plate differs across America {link}

And what a Thanksgiving menu looked like in 1900 {link}

One of my friends brought this dish to Friendsgiving and it was amazing {link}

Thanksgiving, by the numbers {link}

Thanksgiving wines under $25 {link}

12 unexpected things to be thankful for this year {link}

The 20 best Thanksgiving songs {link}

A few extra recipes to impress your guests {link}

A timeline for Thanksgiving prep {link}

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Easy Turkey and Gravy

Easy Thanksgiving Turkey

Believe it or not, I made Thanksgiving turkey in a slow cooker. Yes, a slow cooker.

This is by far the easiest way to make Thanksgiving turkey. For Friendsgiving, I wanted a simple and foolproof turkey that required little active cooking time, and this recipe was just perfect.

For this recipe, you need a LARGE slow cooker. Mine is on the smaller side, and it was a little tricky fitting in the turkey breasts.

Also, don't worry if you cannot find one whole turkey breast that weights 6-7 pounds, as this recipe calls for. I ended up using two turkey breasts and it turned out great.

Easy Thanksgiving Turkey

Easy Turkey and Gravy

Recipe from America's Test Kitchen
Serves 6-8 people

3 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped medium
1 carrot, peeled and chopped medium
1 celery rib, chopped medium
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 (6- to 7-pound) whole, bone-in, skin-on turkey breast, trimmed
Salt and pepper

Melt butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and cook until onion is softened and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes.
Easy Thanksgiving Turkey
Stir in 1 cup broth, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps. Transfer to slow cooker.

Stir remaining cup broth, water, wine, thyme, and bay leaves into the slow cooker. Season turkey with salt and pepper and place, skin side up, into slow cooker.

Cover and cook until turkey reaches 165 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 5-7 hours on low.

Transfer turkey to cutting board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 20 minutes.

Let braising liquid settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from the surface. Strain braising liquid into saucepan, discarding solids, and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Carve turkey and serve with gravy!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Thanksgiving Entertaining Tips

Thanksgiving Table Decor Thanksgiving Table Decor As a recent college grad, I am just getting used to serving as a host. At Stanford, no one hosted dinner parties. Though I love entertaining, I am still learning a lot each time I host a brunch or dinner party.

Thanksgiving, in particular, is especially tricky. You want delicious food, a beautiful home and tablescape, plenty of time to get dressed before guests arrive, and a relaxing day with family.

Here are some of my tips and tricks that really helped me as I was planning Friendsgiving! I hope they help make your Thanksgiving Day run smoothly!

Thanksgiving Table Decor
  • Decide where your priorities lie. I realized early on that I didn't want to spend all day cooking every single dish for Friendsgiving, so I delegated dishes and drinks to my friends. I got to focus on the three recipes I was particularly excited about--the turkey and gravy, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin tart.
  • Make what you can the day before. I made my cranberry sauce and pumpkin tart on Friday evening instead of rushing through them on Saturday.
  • If you are asking guests to bring food, remember that you will need to reheat dishes before serving. While my friends and I were drinking champagne, the mashed potatoes, stuffing, and brussel sprouts were warming up in the oven.
  • Have two bowls for sauces and sides. That way, your guests aren't constantly passing cranberry sauce and gravy.
Easy Thanksgiving Turkey
  • For an easy and beautiful tablescape, cover your table with a white tablecloth, then use craft paper as a runner. It creates a rustic feel that is perfect for Thanksgiving and other fall fetes. 
  • Add color with napkins and flowers. I was able to find some great burgundy cloth napkins at World Market that brought in a fall feel to my table. Then, I used the burgundy as inspiration for my centerpiece!
  • Know when to go to a professional. Theoretically, I could have made my own centerpiece with flowers from Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. Instead, I went to my new favorite flower shop, spent $20, and got a beautiful bouquet that looks 1000 times better than if I did it myself. Plus, it only took 10 minutes!
  • Set the table in the morning. This will allow you to run the dishwasher again if you need more silverware, plates, glasses, etc.
Thanksgiving Table DecorThanksgiving Table Decor

Hope these tips help you stay organized this Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Creamy Pumpkin Tart

Creamy Pumpkin Tart Thanksgiving is not complete without a pumpkin dessert.

It doesn't need to be a pumpkin pie (some great pumpkin dessert options HERE and HERE), but somewhere should be a pumpkin dessert. 

I'll admit, pumpkin pie is not my favorite. The crust is often soggy and the filling isn't silky enough for me.

Then I found a recipe for a creamy pumpkin tart, and I realized this dessert might make everyone, both pumpkin pie fans and pumpkin spice cake fans alike, happy.

This tart has a gingersnap crust and a pudding-like pumpkin filling, lightly flavored with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice. Then it is topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream right before serving.

Instead of mimicking a pumpkin pie, it really more like a fall-flavored cream pie--cookie crust, creamy pumpkin filling, and whipped cream.

And the two best things about the recipe? 1) it only requires 15 minutes of baking AND 2) it has to be made the night before, giving you extra time on Thanksgiving day to focus on the main meal.


Creamy Pumpkin Tart

Creamy Pumpkin Tart

Recipe from Butter Me Up Brooklyn
Serves 8-10 people

1 1/2 cups finely crushed gingersnap cookie cookies
2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled

Creamy Pumpkin Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cup (one 15 oz can) pumpkin pie puree 

Whipped Cream Topping:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

For the crust:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine all of the crust ingredients and mix until it resembles wet sand. Press the crumbs into a 9-inch tart pan. 

Use the bottom of a measuring cup to pack in the crumbs, making sure you cover the sides as well. Bake for 15 minutes, then let cool.

For the filling:
Beat together the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Mix in the powdered sugar and brown sugar.

Then, add the vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, and pumpkin puree. Mix until smooth and well-combined. 

Next, set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium sized bowl. Using a spatula, press the filling through the strainer. This will make sure your filling is extra-smooth!

Pour the filling into your cooled crust. Use an offset spatula to smooth the filling into an equal level. 

Cover with plastic and chill overnight.

Creamy Pumpkin TartCreamy Pumpkin Tart

For the whipped topping:
Just before serving, beat together the cream, vanilla, and sugar. Spread over the chilled tart. Now, it's ready to eat!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce

Easy Cranberry Sauce In my family, the cooking of cranberry sauce marks the beginning of the holiday cooking.

Because cranberry sauce can be stored in the fridge for a few days (typically seven days), it is the first thing we make. It's an easy thing to knock off the list before you start on the pies, sides, and turkey.

If you are a total novice cook, but still want to bring something delicious and tasty for Thanksgiving, offer to bring the cranberry sauce! Homemade cranberry sides always taste better than the jello from the can, and it is uber-easy to cook.

And of course, this cranberry sauce is just as delicious on turkey sandwiches, grilled cheeses, cheese plates, and on top of pancakes as it is with your turkey dinner.


Easy Cranberry Sauce

Recipe from Cook's Illustrated

3/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
12 oz. bag frozen cranberries

Bring water, sugar, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Once sugar has dissolved, stir in cranberries. 

Easy Cranberry Sauce
Return the pan to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until two-thirds of the berries have split open and the sauce is slightly thickened (about 7-8 minutes).

Easy Cranberry Sauce

Cool to room temperature and serve.

Thanksgiving & Friendsgiving!

Easy Thanksgiving TurkeyThanksgiving Table Decor

Thanksgiving is, without a doubt, my favorite holiday of the year. Not only is it a holiday all about food, fall, and family, it is a holiday that truly brings people together. Thanksgiving transcends race and religion, making it a special day for everyone here in America.

The worst thing about Thanksgiving is that we only celebrate it once a year. So, I decided this year to host a Friendsgiving, basically a Thanksgiving dinner with a few close friends.

This was a perfect way to test out new recipes that my family would never approve of for our Thanksgiving dinner.

All this week, I will be sharing recipes, table settings, and tips that will make hosting a Friendsgiving (or Thanksgiving) seamless.

Thanksgiving Table DecorBelow is the menu for my first Friendsgiving.

Friendsgiving Menu

Easy Thanksgiving Turkey and Gravy(Recipe coming on Thursday!)
Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Brussel Sprout Salad
Cranberry Sauce (Recipe coming today!)

Creamy Pumpkin Tart (Recipe coming on Tuesday!)
Brown Butter Apple Tart
Chocolate Raspberry Tart
Whipped Cream

To make things easy for myself and for everyone else, I made the turkey, gravy, and pumpkin tart. Then I asked each friend to bring one dish and one drink (ie mashed potatoes and a bottle of wine). This ended up being perfect! We had so many delicious dishes to share, and no one was overwhelmed from too much cooking.

Check back later today for my easy and delicious cranberry sauce recipe!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Weekend Reading

Happy Friday! Today is the first Friday in a while that will be a true weekend for me. I'm excited for the beautiful weather and some fun plans with friends. Get ready---next week is going to be all about Thanksgiving Friendsgiving!

Is Domino's secretly a tech company? {link}

There are very few times I want to live in NYC, but this might change everything {link}

Bar Tartine, helping you with your toast game {link}

Can't wait to get my hands on Anchor Steam's Christmas Ale {link}

14 SF weekend events to get excited about {link}

Check out this hilarious video from The New Potato {link}

A magazine for fake farmers {link}

I really want to explore the Sunset, and I'm starting with the places in this guide {link}

I am starting this foam-roller workout STAT {link}

Image via

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Pumpkin Whoopie Pie Recipe
You should make these pumpkin spice whoopie pies because they will make your kitchen smell AMAZING. Yes, they are delicious. Yes, they are relatively easy to make. Yes, your friends will love them. But really, the best reason to make them is because your kitchen will smell perfectly like fall with a mixture of pumpkin, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pie Recipe
With some cooler weather finally making its way to the Bay, it feels like fall. And fall typically means an overload of pumpkin spice products--lattes, candles, room scents, caramels, etc.

I typically pass on about 90% of pumpkin spice paraphernalia. It's just not my thing. However, pumpkin spice cake is something I never ever turn down. 

I really like my pumpkin spice cake recipe--it's easy and most importantly, super delicious. It's my go-to pumpkin spice "it's finally fall!" recipe. 

And then, I ran across a pumpkin whoopie pie recipe from Baked Bakery in NYC, and I realized I might have to experiment with a new pumpkin spice recipe this year.

Thank goodness I tried these whoopie pies out. My kitchen smelled amazing and the pies tasted even better.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Makes approximately 12 pies
From Baked NYC

For the Pumpkin Whoopie Cookies:
cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cloves
2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups pumpkin puree, chilled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Cream-Cheese Filling:
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. 

In another large bowl, mix together the brown sugar and oil. Stir in the pumpkin puree and whisk until combined. Stir in the eggs and vanilla, and whisk until combined. 
Pumpkin Whoopie Pie Recipe

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the pumpkin mixture, and whisk until combined.

Using an ice cream scoop with a release mechanism, scoop out cookies onto cookie sheets. Bake cookies until they are just starting to crack on top (a toothpick inserted into the center of the cookie should come out clean), about 15 minutes. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let them cool on the pans.
Pumpkin Whoopie Pie Recipe
Meanwhile, sift the confectioners' sugar. Beat the butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add in the cream cheese and beat again until light and fluffy.  Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and beat until well combined.

Transfer filling to a pastry bag. Pipe a large dollop of frosting onto half of the cookies. Top the frosted cookies with another cookie, pressing down to allow the frosting to spread to the edges. 
Pumpkin Whoopie Pie Recipe
Pumpkin Whoopie Pie RecipePumpkin Whoopie Pie Recipe
Refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Pumpkin Whoopie Pie Recipe
Pumpkin Whoopie Pie Recipe


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