Monday, June 29, 2015

Wine Country Weekend

Wine Country Weekend

Only 3.5 more days until the weekend--yay for short weeks! Today, I'm sharing a few snaps from the weekend. Z and I took off Friday night for Santa Rosa. After so much cold weather in the city, it was great to escape for some sunshine.

Saturday started off with a 12 mile bike ride around Healdsburg. We rented bikes from Spoke Folk Cyclery, and we biked along West Dry Creek Road. The road was filled with vineyards, and we stopped by Lambert Bridge Winery for a taste of their wines ($15 for the signature sampler). After a little bit of wine, we caught our bearings with a break in their garden, and then we headed back to Healdsburg for lunch.
Wine Country Weekend
Wine Country Weekend

Post bike ride, we walked over to Shed. Part market, part restaurant, part community space, it's hard to not love Shed. The produce is local, the kombucha is homemade, and the design is impeccable. While waiting for a table, we wolfed down a delicious, but oh so simple, sandwich of butter, honey, and brie (with some black rose and honey kombucha). At lunch we shared a peaches, burrata, and mint salad, but then chose our own entrees. I particularly enjoyed my charred asparagus and leek quiche, and the blood orange shrub. Because we hadn't had enough food (yeah, right) we got some fancy ice cream (Brown Butter & Peach, Blood Orange & Raspberry) from Noble Folk.

Wine Country Weekend
Wine Country Weekend
Wine Country Weekend
Wine Country Weekend
Wine Country Weekend
Wine Country Weekend
Wine Country Weekend
Wine Country Weekend

Saturday night was spent at Russian River Brewing Company, trying out their 20 beer sampler! To be honest, I am not a fan of their hoppy IPAs, but Z was enjoying himself.

Sunday brunch was absolutely delicious at Girl and the Fig in Sonoma. We splurged with drinks and pastries, but hey, you only live once, right? In particular, the avocado toast with hardboiled egg and smoked trout, plus a sunflower sprout salad, was awesome.

Girl and the fig

Our last stop of the weekend was at Domain Carneros, a winery owned by Taittinger that specializes in sparkling wine. Though it does have a much more corporate feeling than many other wineries, the chateau and setting was lovely. For $30, you can get a sparkling wine tasting of their four most popular wines!

Wine Country WeekendGirl and the fig

Friday, June 26, 2015

Weekend Reading

Z and I are headed off to Wine Country for the weekend! We're finally taking a trip to celebrate our 5 year anniversary. After a busy week at work and birthday festivities, it'll be nice to escape the city for some bike rides, wine, and food. Hope you have a great weekend ahead of you!

Now that I work in customer service, I have a new found hatred for mean customers. This article on horror stories from restaurants was fascinating. 

I'm starting this book over the weekend.

I love the idea of this grilled avocado and quinoa meal.

Have you seen Inside Out yet? I highly recommend it!

I have a one-wall kitchen, so I loved looking at these great uses of space.

Love love love any grain salad with fresh fruit, and Ashley's recipe for couscous with cherries looks magical.

The world's most prestigious water tasting. Yes, it's a thing.

Love is love.

As if I need another excuse to eat chocolate. Yay for heart health!

Watermelon, Feta, and Mint Salad

Watermelon & Feta Salad It's not really fair to call this a "recipe", because it's one of the easiest salads in the world to make. Chop up three things, toss them into a bowl, and you're good to go.

This salad is a popular Mediterranean combination, but it's rare to find it here in the US. I love anything with a salty-sweet flavor profile, and this dish fits the bill perfectly. This is the dish to serve at backyard barbecues, picnics, and happy hours. I even served it at my birthday!

Since there are only three ingredients to this salad, it's important that each one is top notch. Be on the lookout for ripe watermelon (look especially for a cream or green-colored bottom, and tapping the watermelon should make a sound reminiscent of a drum). Splurge a little bit on the feta, and pick up some fresh mint at the Farmer's Market.

Watermelon & Feta Salad

Watermelon, Feta, and Mint Salad

Feel free to multiply the recipe as necessary to fit the party you're serving

1 cup watermelon, cubed
1/3 cup feta, chopped 
3 tablespoons chopped mint

Toss ingredients in a bowl. Let sit for at least an hour so that ingredients can come to room temperature. Enjoy!

Watermelon & Feta Salad

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Birthday Celebration!

I turned 24 on Tuesday! I spent the weekend celebrating with friends and family. Z's mom came up for the weekend, which was particularly lovely. We spent most of Saturday cooking, with a short break for a delicious brunch at Universal Cafe in the Mission. We hosted a happy hour with friends on our roof later on Saturday afternoon. The birthday celebrations continued with a SoulCycle birthday ride on Tuesday morning and dinner at Foreign Cinema. Lastly, we celebrated with Susiecakes Celebration Cake (the best funfetti cake EVER). 

I'm feeling so blessed to have such wonderful food and people in my life! Get excited for a new recipe tomorrow, in addition to Weekend Links!

Breakfast at Universal Cafe
French toast with pluot compote at Universal Cafe
Breakfast at Universal Cafe
Scrambled eggs with pesto at Universal Cafe

My favorite deviled eggs (recipe is on the site!)
Momofuku's birthday cake recipe
Chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream frosting
Right before blowing out the candles
The famous fried chicken at Foreign Cinema
The prettiest squash blossom and egg raviolo at Foreign Cinema
My Susiecakes cake!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Father's Day Gift Guide

If you're anything like me, you probably haven't picked out a Father's Day present yet...oops! Thank goodness for Amazon Prime. They always have great things that will get delivered quickly and just in time for Sunday's celebrations. Check out some of my favorite Amazon picks below!

I recently purchased this iPhone charger and it's wonderful! Dad will never have to worry about his phone dying when out at a baseball game ever again. 

Your dad deserves a great cup of coffee. With 425 reviews and a 5 star rating, this wonderful French Press coffee maker will delight dad this Father's Day.

Dad's desk needs something new, and it's not a picture of you at age 5. This moss terrarium is impossible to kill, even if your father doesn't have a green thumb.

Your dad keeps wanting to go on a craft brewery tour, so why not bring the craft brewery home? This beer kit will help him make his own IPA. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Favorite Finds: Graduation Gifts

Graduation season is in full force, which means graduation gift-giving is as well! Zach's sister and cousin both graduated from college this year, so the topic has been on my mind lately.

Here are my favorite kitchen items for new grads. Whether the graduate in your life is a bonafide chef or just learning how to make pasta, you'll find a gift here!

Nutribullet, $105: This easy to clean blender is perfect for on-the-go smoothies before work. 

Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, $20: This cookbook staple really does have a recipe for everything, and it features simple, classic recipes.

Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics, $26: Ina's simple instructions ensures a perfect meal every time, and the recipes are perfect for new cooks. 

Cast Iron Skillet, $23: Cast iron skillets work on the stovetop and in the oven, plus they are easy to clean. They are perfect for one-pan meals!

Egg Tea Towel, $24: LEIF makes great home accessories, and this biology poster inspired tea towel will liven up any boring kitchen apartment. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispies

Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispies
Back in college, my best friend Vivian was the sweetheart for SigEp. Like a good fraternity sweetheart, she decided to bring rice krispy treats to one of their chapter meetings. Like a good friend, I helped her make them.

Vivian and I started making the treats, when I noticed one essential ingredient was missing: butter. Vivian figured that since she rarely used the full 1/2 stick called for in the traditional recipe, it wasn't a necessary ingredient.

She was wrong. It was a complete mess. Without the essential fat in the recipe, the marshmallows didn't adhere properly to the rice krispy cereal. We ended up with a giant ball of melted marshallow, with rice krispies stuck to the side.

Yes, the boys still ate them; we learned an important lesson though, butter is important!

Salted Brown Butter Rice KrispiesToday's recipe not only has butter, but it has DOUBLE the butter of a traditional rice krispy treat. These are the most amazing rice krispies I've ever had. They have a nutty, caramely, salty flavor thanks the flaky sea salt and browned butter.

Five extra minutes totally elevates this dish into one that is worthy enough to bring to parties, serve at the end of dinner parties, and bring into work for a colleague's birthday.

Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispies

From Smitten Kitchen

1 stick butter
1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt
1 10oz bag of marshmallows
6 cups puffed rice cereal

Butter an 8-inch square pan so the rice krispies don't stick!

Melt the stick of butter over medium heat. The butter should melt, start to foam, and then become a golden brown color with a nutty smell. Once it reaches this golden brown point, remove the pan from the heat!

Salted Brown Butter Rice KrispiesStir in the flaky sea salt, then add the marshmallows. The residual heat from the butter should melt the marshmallows.

Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispies
Add the 6 cups of cereal, and stir until well-coated and mixed. Pour rice krispy treat mixture into 8-inch buttered pan.

Let sit until cool, slice, then eat!

Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispies

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Arugula and Quinoa Salad with Nectarines, Mint, and Goat Cheese

Peaches and Arugula Salad
While a luscious peach cobbler recipe is probably the classic summer peach recipe, I'm instead sharing with you a much lighter (and healthier!) savory nectarine salad.

This salad has been one of my go-to summer salads for years now. It's borderline embarrassing how frequently I eat this salad during the summer. Since it's easy to throw together and relatively healthy, it's great for busy nights when you just want something simple and delicious.

The best parts of this salad are the peaches and fresh mint! The herb lends a freshness to the dish, while the nectarines bring sweetness and juiciness to the dish. With a glass of white wine, it's a perfect summer meal.

Peaches and Arugula SaladDon't have nectarines on hand? No worries--switch out the nectarines for peaches, strawberries, or apples!

I particularly like the visual appeal of having a pile of arugula with the ingredients separated, but feel free to toss the ingredients all together in a bowl as well.

Arugula and Quinoa Salad with Nectarines, Mint, and Goat Cheese

Serves one

1/2 lemon
1.5 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups of arugula
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup cooked quinoa (I particularly like the tri-color quinoa)
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1 nectarine, sliced

Squeeze the half lemon, and combine the lemon juice with the olive oil, whisking until a dressing forms. Lightly toss the arugula with the lemon dressing. Season the arugula with salt and pepper to taste. Pile the arugula onto a plate.

Place the goat cheese, quinoa, mint, and nectarine slices around the arugula. Enjoy!
Peaches and Arugula Salad

Monday, June 1, 2015

Summer Produce Guide: Peaches & Nectarines

Peach and Nectarine Buying Guide Stone fruit season is finally here--hooray for recipes chock full of peaches and nectarines! A juicy and perfectly ripe peach is the epitome of summer for me. Z and I buy peaches and nectarines all summer, and we particularly love them paired with blue cheese and bread (soooo good, trust me!).

That being said, there's nothing worse than splurging on stone fruit to find that it's not quite ripe yet, or just isn't as flavorful as you were expecting. This guide will help you not only pick out the best nectarines at the grocery store, and also make sure they stay at their peak longer.

Check back here on Wednesday for one of my favorite summer recipes that includes peaches!
Peach and Nectarine Buying Guide

Stone Fruit Produce Guide

What is a white peach/nectarine versus a normal peach/nectarine? White peaches and nectarines have a white flesh (hence the name) and a higher sugar content than traditional peaches and nectarines. If you are looking for a extra sweet treat, give these varieties a try!


Peaches and nectarines are a little more forgiving than most fruit, because they can actually ripen after they've been picked. For both peaches and nectarines, you'll want to smell them. They should smell delicious. 

Ripe peaches will also have some give when you squeeze them. If they feel similar to a tennis ball, you have one to two more days until full ripeness. If a peach looks bruised, it's already reached its peak.

For nectarines, I recommend looking for a slight softening along the seam. Unlike peaches, you should avoid soft nectarines. 


Peaches and nectarines are best left on the counter, out of direct sunlight. This will allow them to ripen, and it will also prevent a mealy texture. If your peaches are mealy, it's likely because they were picked too early, stored in a refrigerator, and then brought back to room temperature by the grocery store. Never a good sign! 


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