Friday, February 27, 2015

Weekend Reading!

Happy Friday! I've been in Tahoe the past couple of days, and I'll be here all weekend! It's nice to get away for awhile, though I wish there was snow. Ice skating in the beautiful sunshine isn't too bad though. 

Enjoy the weekend, and check out these great links!

Learn about the food behind Downton Abbey {link}

Currently brainstorming ways I can reduce my food waste, after this report came out {link}

Back to Downton Abbey and other British-inspired things, how to make a perfect cup of tea {link}

Cannot believe I missed this beautiful public art display on Valentine's Day! {link}

Russian Hill, watch out! Craftsman and Wolves heading your way {link}

Some big BIG news from Blue Bottle Coffee this week {link}

Loving this piece about Philz Coffee and their culture {link}

Cookie Monster can be deep {link}

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Easy Potato Dauphinoise

Easy Cheese Potatoes
For today's post, I'm throwing it back (who else is a Throwback Thursday fan?) to Thanksgiving.

One of my favorite potato dishes is potato dauphinoise--a delicious layer of potatoes with gruyere cheese, creme fraiche, and nutmeg. It's heavenly but requires a lot of work. You have to peel and slice potatoes, pre-boil the potatoes with garlic and milk, layer them with creme fraiche and cheese, and then bake to a golden brown.

My family used to make this every year at Thanksgiving until we found a recipe that side-stepped all of the potato peeling and pre-boiling!

Though this recipe is a "Thanksgiving" recipe in my family, there's no need to only eat it once a year! It's really sad that I only eat it every November because it is so simple and delicious

. Yes, it's a caloric treat. But with all of this cold weather across the country, it's the exact thing you want to eat on a cozy Saturday night.


Easy Cheese Potatoes

Easy Potato Dauphinoise

From Anne Byrn

1 package 32 ounce frozen hash browns
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
2 cups heavy cream
Grated nutmeg to taste
Grated pepper to taste
Assorted herbs (Rosemary, thyme)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. 

Put half of potatoes in a glass or ceramic 13 by 9 inch pan. Cover with half of the cheese. Add grated nutmeg and pepper. 

Repeat with the rest of the potatoes, cheese, nutmeg, and pepper. Top with assorted herbs if desired. 

Easy Cheese PotatoesCover with aluminum foil and bake until potatoes are soft and cream begins to bubble, about 30 to 35 minutes. Take foil off to let spuds brown. Serve!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Favorite Finds: Farmgirl Flowers

I typically try to stick to food-related items here on Hilary Stone Soup, but I have fallen so in love with this company that I decided to share them with you anyways.

I firmly believe in the power of flowers. Flowers can convey so many beautiful messages--love, friendship, empathy. But what happens if you intend to send a beautiful message of love, but you inadvertently send your girlfriend a dozen almost-dying flowers filled with pesticides?!

That's where Farmgirl Flowers comes in. They deliver only the freshest domestic flowers, in a unique bouquet that differs day in and day out. Their aesthetic is always organic and fabulous, but the flowers change depending on what is fresh and available.

Yes, it means you don't get a lot of choices--if you love red roses, this isn't the flower company for you. They sell burlap-wrapped bouquets and deliver them all across California. Bonus points: their flowers typically have 40% less waste than other companies.

For those of you lucky enough in the Bay, they will help you bring beautiful and local flowers to your events and weddings!

Order Farmgirl Flowers here!

Friday, February 20, 2015


Happy Friday! This week has felt pretty hectic--and this weekend is filling up quickly. Fingers crossed I'll get some time to read and rejuvenate in between all the weekend commitments and chores. If you live in SF, you should check out this cheese event on Saturday.

Have a great weekend!

What a cup of tea looks like in 22 different countries {link}

Have you read "Sandwich Monday"? It's from the geniuses behind Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me {link}

More natural chocolate? I'm all for that! {link}

How many calories are in your favorite Chipotle order? {link}

Philz Coffee, one of my favorite places, just raised a Series B! Can't wait to see what they do next. {link}

Plus, check out their cute video {link}

This has nothing to do with food, but I love Meghan Trainor's cover of "Shake It Off" {link}

Loving this mug I found from a local Bay Area artist {link}

Guide to celebrating the :Lunar New Year in SF {link}

The wine to match your favorite Oscar-nominated film {link}

And leaving you with this beautiful op-ed from the New York Times {link}

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Easy Funfetti Cupcakes

Easy Funfetti Birthday CupcakesEasy Funfetti Birthday Cupcakes Important Question of the Day: Team Cake or Team Cupcake?

To be honest, my allegiance switches back and forth between the two. When I'm out at a restaurant or bakery, I almost always opt for cake. The frosting to cake ratio is slightly higher, which I love. But forget about making a cake at home. Cakes always intimidate me! I'm firmly in Team Cupcake when it comes to baking at home.

One of my friends recently celebrated his birthday with a potluck dinner, and I think no birthday celebration is complete without cake. And the more sprinkles on this cake, the better.

Cupcakes are easy to make at home for a birthday or celebration. They don't take too long to bake, making them even possible on a weeknight. They look great rolled in chopped nuts or sprinkles, so there's no need for the frosting to look perfect.

This funfetti cupcake recipe is perfect for celebrating the birthdays of all the kids (and kids at heart) in your life. These cupcakes appeal to both kids and adults, leaving everyone wanting another.

In case you are looking for an easy chocolate cupcake recipes, check out my other birthday inspired post here.

Easy Funfetti Birthday Cupcakes

Easy Funfetti Cupcakes

Inspired by Cook's Country

3 cups plain cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups sugar
12 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
3/4 cups sprinkles, chopped

1 1/2 cups butter at room temperature
3 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons of milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups rainbow sprinkles

Adjust oven rack to middle position and pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 standard muffin tins with paper or foil cupcake liners.

Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl until combined. Whisk eggs and vanilla in large bowl until well blended.

In steady stream, pour sugar into eggs, whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in melted butter, then add buttermilk. Add one-third of dry ingredients to bowl with wet ingredients. Using whisk, gently combine; a few streaks of flour should remain. 

Repeat twice with remaining dry ingredients. Add sprinkles. Continue to stir gently with whisk until most lumps are gone. Do not overmix. 

Fill cupcake liners about two-thirds full. Bake, with tins side by side on middle rack, until cupcakes just begin to color and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Cool pans on wire racks for 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes from pans, place back on rack, and cool to room temperature before frosting. 

For Frosting:

Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy, about 30 seconds. With mixer on low speed, add sugar, 1 cup at a time, and mix to combine. Increase speed to high and beat until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute.

Reduce speed to medium-low and add milk, vanilla, and salt. Increase speed to high and beat until fluffy, about 30 more seconds.

To Frost Cupcakes:

Place sprinkles into a bowl. Spoon a couple of tablespoons of frosting on top of cupcake, and then use an offset spatula (or knife) to smooth out frosting all over cupcake. Roll cupcake in sprinkles.

Repeat for all of the cupcakes!

Sing happy birthday!

Easy Funfetti Birthday Cupcakes

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Top 5 Smoothie Tips!

Top 5 Smoothie Tips Growing up in Southern California, I was lucky to have the coolest nanny ever--she was young, hip, tan and blonde, and totally embodied the healthy California lifestyle. She introduced us to smoothies when we were young, and I've been hooked ever since! Check out my 5 tips for perfect smoothies.

1. Use Frozen Fruit!

Forego the ice in favor of frozen fruit. Ice just dulls the flavor of your smoothie. Frozen fruit brings that frozen texture to your smoothie plus tons of flavor!

2. Add plenty of liquid. 

Always make sure you have plenty of liquid in your smoothie, or else your blender won't actually blend! You can adjust the texture of the smoothie by adding more or less liquid, but I try to start at 1 cup of liquid. I almost always opt for soymilk--it has a neutral palette, and almost everyone can drink it. Almond milk is close second. 

3. Turn your smoothie into a smoothie bowl.

Make your smoothie on the thicker side, pour it into a bowl, and top with chopped nuts, granola, cut up fruit, chia seeds, etc. It's my new favorite thing--I'm borderline obsessed.

4. Up your protein with Greek yogurt.

Greek yogurt adds a whole other type of smoothness to your fruity drink--plus I love the tang! High protein yogurt helps me rationalize that drinking a smoothie for breakfast is healthy.

5. Spice it up!

Add herbs and spices for a nice variation of what you normally do. Add basil to your strawberry smoothie, ginger to your tropical greens elixir, or add cinnamon to your banana drink. Not sure what spice combination to try? Start with my chai banana smoothie recipe.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Back to Basics: Buttermilk Pancakes

Basic Pancake Recipe I'm firmly a morning person. I grew up with a dad that spoiled me forever with delicious homey weekend breakfasts--biscuits, oatmeal, scrambled eggs...the whole (breakfast) enchilada. I never grew up sleeping in on weekends, and even to this day I have a hard time sleeping in past 8am.

A few weekends ago, I woke up on the earlier side, and all I wanted to do was fall back asleep. I laid in bed for about an hour, willing myself to go back to sleep. I eventually gave up,  made a big cup of coffee, and started breakfast. Good thing Z's in charge of the dishes.

Last weekend, all I wanted for breakfast were classic buttermilk pancakes. This basic pancake recipe is a classic--it is simple and easy to make, but sure to impress your friends at brunch!

Basic buttermilk pancakes are really just a canvas for all the delicious things you can add to them--we added bananas and chocolate chips per Z's request, but I really love blueberries in my pancakes when they are in season.


Basic Pancake Recipe Basic Buttermilk Pancake Recipe

From Martha Stewart

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups buttermilk
6 tablespoons of butter, melted and divided

Preheat the griddle to 375 degrees.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, and 4 tablespoons of butter. Make sure not to overbeat it--the secret here is to have lumps!

Brush butter onto the griddle.

Using a large ladle, spoon out approximately 1/2 cup of batter into a circle on the griddle. Repeat until the griddle is full, with pancakes about 2 inches apart. This is the time to scatter berries, bananas, chocolate chips, etc!

When pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around edges, flip over. Cook until golden brown, about 1 minute.

Repeat with remaining batter. Serve pancakes warm with butter and syrup.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Happy Friday!

Hope you all are having a fabulous start to the weekend! Z and I are planning on enjoying this beautiful California weather with a hike to celebrate Valentine's Day. We are spending the rest of the weekend discussing this book, hanging out with family, and finally getting to explore the Dogpatch. Follow me on Instagram (@hilarylstone) for more fun adventures.

Enjoy the long weekend! 

To get you to happy hour (be it alcohol-induced or dessert-induced), here are some great weekend reads...

Could you go 8 years without saying I love you to your significant other? {link}

Why are these 10 foods considered aphrodisiacs? {link}

The top fast-casual restaurants to look out for in the next year {link}

This made me laugh--10 things you should know before getting into a relationship with a food lover {link}

Get your Malaysian food fix at the Market on Market {link}

Take a look at Vogue's City Guides before your next trip! {link}

I just finished up this book about life choices, family, education --give it a read! {link}

Loving the idea of this cake--so perfect for the long weekend! {link}

Because I'm still a technology policy nerd at heart and this summary of net neutrality is great {link}

7 gorgeous winter salads {link}

Thursday, February 12, 2015

SF Beer Week!

Anchor Steam Beer It's Thursday, which means it's almost Friday, which means it's almost le weekend! To pump you up for a fabulous three day weekend, I am sharing a few fun events that are happening all across the Bay thanks to SF Beer Week!

SF Beer Week ends on Sunday, so definitely check out these events while you can.

Sour Sunday Part 2: A favorite pub for Stanford students, Rose & Crown is hosting an event on Sunday featuring a ton of great sour beers! (Sunday, February 15th in Palo Alto)

4th Annual Craft Beer and Grilled Cheese Pairing: Who could pass up craft beer and cheese? (Sunday, February 15th in San Francisco)

Humphry Slocombe Beer Float Party: Because the only better than cheese and beer is ice cream and beer. (Sunday, February 15th in San Francisco)

"Drink the Darkness" A Stout/Porter Event: Bring your Valentine to Monk's Kettle and taste-test your way through some great dark beers. (Saturday, February 14th in San Francisco)

Chocolate, Beer, and Cupid: TCHO Chocolate and ThirstyBear Brewing Company are teaming up for this Valentine's Day themed event. (Saturday, February 14th in San Francisco)

Dogfish Head Tap Takeover: My favorite Delaware brewery is taking over the tap at The Willows, and they promise they will the 120-Minute IPA! (Friday, February 13th in San Francisco)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Back to Basics: Chocolate Pudding

Hilary Stone Soup: Chocolate Pudding Hilary Stone Soup: Chocolate Pudding Last week, I gave you lots of Valentine's Day posts (see gift guides 1 and 2, plus this amazing dinner recipe). In my mind, Valentine's Day isn't Valentine's Day without a really great chocolate dessert.

I love rich over the top dinners. They remind me of special dinners out with my family. Dinners where we would have to dress up, the waiter would bring us kids Shirley Temples to drink, and there was no real children's menu. These meals always ended with dessert--typically a rich, traditional dessert like chocolate mousse, creme brulee, or chocolate molten cake.

Hilary Stone Soup: Chocolate Pudding
I recently went out to dinner at Chapeau! (the exclamation is their doing, not mine), and had an absolutely fabulous meal. Of course it ended with dessert, and while I loved my chocolate cake, I was unable to even eat half of it.

That's when I knew I made it. I was an adult. I already felt as if I needed to spend every night that coming week at Soul Cycle, and I knew that if I finished the dense and rich chocolate cake in front of me, I might need two straight weeks at Soul Cycle.

Luckily this chocolate pudding delivers in the great chocolate dessert department without making you feel as if your date needs to roll you home. Chocolate desserts, definitely sexy and Valentine's Day appropriate. Chocolate desserts that leave you in a sugar coma, definitely not sexy.

Hilary Stone Soup: Chocolate Pudding

This pudding has tons of chocolate flavor (thanks to 6 oz of chopped chocolate) and is the grown-up version of the chocolate pudding you loved growing up.

In some ways, it's pure nostalgia. It's an American pudding without eggs or cream--similar to the pudding that comes in that little box. It's adult chocolate flavor though is outrageous, in the best way possible. I added a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkling of flaky sea salt, just to balance out the chocolate.

The best part: it looks so cute served in individual ramekins, and you can make it in advance. The pudding has to be made 2-3 hours ahead of time so it can set in the fridge, and you can even leave the puddings in the fridge for 3 days.

This is what you want to make for dessert this Valentine's Day. Enjoy!

Chocolate Pudding

Adapted from John Sharffenberger via Smitten Kitchen

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
6 ounces chopped semi- or bittersweet chocolate
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Slowly whisk in whole milk to prevent lumps, then add milk more quickly. 

Place over medium-low heat and stir occasionally, scraping the bottom and the sides. Use a whisk if lumps form. After 10 minutes or so, before the milk mixture simmers, the mixture should thicken and cover the back of a wooden spoon. Add the chocolate and stir for another 2 to 4 minutes, until the mixture is fully incorporated and the pudding is thick.

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

Either pour into one large serving bowl or divvy out into individual servings. Chill until the pudding is set, about 2 to 3 hours.

If you dislike pudding skin, put some plastic wrap over the pudding and smooth it gently into the surface of the pudding before refrigerating.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Slow Roasted Salmon with Citrus and Fennel

Slow Roasted Salmon With CitrusSlow Roasted Salmon With Citrus
Today, I'm bringing you a beautiful and delicious salmon dish. While I love the idea of serving it for Valentine's Day, it's really easy enough to recreate any day of the week. Why do you need a made-up commercial holiday as an excuse to make a great meal?

All this recipe takes is a little bit of time. It just requires some upfront vegetable slicing, and then you place the salmon in the oven and let it slowly roast.

Slow Roasted Salmon With Citrus
This is a great Valentine's Day dinner recipe--it seems fancy and elegant (salmon! roasted citrus! fennel!) but it really is simple to make, allowing you to spend more time with that certain someone. It also feels special--out of the ordinary--from the typical dinner routine. The salmon looks best when it's perfectly imperfect, so you don't have to worry about making it look picture perfect.

Zach and I are forgoing restaurants this Valentine's Day and you should too. I guarantee this salmon dinner is better than the prix-fixe menu with overdone steak. Pop open a bottle of wine, starting preparing some citrus, and enjoy the night in with your love!

Slow Roasted Salmon with Citrus and Fennel

From Bon Appetit 
Serves 6

1 medium fennel bulb, thinly slice
1 blood orange or navel orange, thinly sliced and seeds removed
1 Meyer or regular lemon, thinly sliced and seeds removed
1 red Fresno chile or jalapeño, thinly sliced
4 sprigs of dill, plus more for serving
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 2-lb skinless salmon fillet, preferable center cut
3/4 cup olive oil
Flaky sea salt

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Toss fennel, orange slices, lemon slices, jalapeño, and dill together in a shallow baking dish. Season with kosher salt and pepper.

Season salmon with kosher salt and place on top of fennel and citrus mixture. Pour oil over the entire dish.

Slow Roasted Salmon With Citrus

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until salmon is just cooked through (the flesh will be opaque).

Transfer salmon to a large platter, breaking the fillet into large pieces. Spoon fennel and citrus mixture over the salmon. Discard cooked dill sprigs and add fresh dill. Season with flaky sea salt and more pepper.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Valentine's Day Gift Guide: Food Gifts

These are the cutest gifts you'll find out there! They are deliciously sweet and filled with cheer--sure to make even the gloomiest person feeling the love on February 14th.

1) Microwaveable chocolate fondue. Need I say more? Bonus points if you also bring marshmallows, strawberries, and pound cake. {link}

2) These spunky chocolate covered pretzels are sure to delight your valentine. These are the gifts I would give to all of my girlfriends! They're basically a party in a box. {link}

3) Mouth.com continues to crush it in the gift department. This Valentine's Day collection comes in two sizes (XO and XOXO) and features some of the best chocolate and sweet treats in the country. {link}

4) Top-notch coffee and Jeni's ice cream. The key to my heart is now available for $52. {link}

5) These cups fit perfectly on a mug and come in the cutest colors. Bring a whole bunch in to the office to spread the Valentine's Day spirit! {link}

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Valentine's Day Gift Guide: For Her

Happy Tuesday! All this week, I'll be bringing you some Valentine's Day gift guides. You'll find the perfect present for the lovely lady or man in your life.

Today's gift guide is for your favorite lady--be it your mom, sister, girlfriend, or wife. Celebrate the love with everyone in your life!

1. Liberty has the greatest prints, and I love that you can find so many bright and fun home goods through them. Any baker would love to have this beautiful cake stand on her kitchen counter. It makes any cake (be it from a box or from scratch) look more delicious.

2. Every lady needs some Oscar de la Renta in her closet. These earrings, in a festive red, don't break the bank! Give them to her before dinner, so she can wear them out! {link}

3. The blush ombre silk robe of my dreams. Give her this silk robe and then make her breakfast in bed! {link}

4. Fulfill her Downton Abbey fantasies by gifting her an antique tea cup. This Etsy site has some great finds. Bonus points if you give her this tea as well.

5. Roses are overrated. Beautiful bud vases--with a fresh flower or two--are the cool floral gifts this year. {link}


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