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Monday, August 31, 2015

Favorite Finds: Infatuation

The Infatuation

Restaurant recommendations are tough, but there's one company, The Infatuation, that has become my absolute favorite app and website for finding new places to eat.

The Infatuation started in 2009 by two friends who found themselves being the constant source of restaurant recommendations for their friends, so they decided to build a website to help everyone find the perfect date place, the perfect place to take parents, a lazy brunch spot, etc.

Why I love The Infatuation: it's unpretentious and fun. They'll be honest and tell you that a trendy place has horrible food. You might find yourself laughing when reading one of their reviews. The Infatuation understands that food is meant to be fun and playful, and their tone and style resonate with any food lover. You'll get reviews on the restaurant as a whole, plus specific dishes, so you know what to order (and what to avoid!).

Who writes the reviews? The writers are exactly like you and me, and they don't receive any special treatment. Locals in Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York,  and San Francisco cover restaurants for them, and they feature recommendations from public personalities like Product Hunt and James Freeman (founder of Blue Bottle).

Reviews on the site and app range from La Taqueria, a well-known and cheap Mexican spot, to Zuni, a high-end SF classic. Whatever the occasion, you'll find a perfect restaurant thanks to The Infatuation. They make it really easy to find restaurants by various categories like "Girls' Night Out", "Outdoor/Patio Situation", and "Cheap Eats".

Check them out here for more! 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday!

Have a great Friday everyone. I'm crossing my fingers that this warm weather streak continues through the weekend, so I can spend some time outside hiking and enjoying the sunshine. We're also in the midst of planning a trip to Kauai, so if you have any recommendations, please send them our way! Three close friends are coming over on Sunday to tell us their favorite places (and to enjoy a champagne brunch). 

Food safety tips for back-to-school season! 

Write an essay, win a restaurant.


Eco-friendly chocolate chip cookies


Loving these kitchen storage containers--they'd be perfect for small candies or other treats. 

Saw this blush and it looks so dewy and perfectly end of summer pink--love!

Start-up food businesses making it big. 

Make some cold brew coffee this weekend. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Hot and Sour Soba Noodle Salad

Hot and Sour Soba Noodle

I've been keeping this soba noodle salad recipe a secret for a while now. I discovered it in via the New York Times back in March, and I quickly made these soba noodles my go-to dinner meal. I'm sorry for keeping such a delicious, easy, and healthy recipe a secret from you!

This recipe combines two of my favorite Asian flavors into one: gingery peanut sauce and hot and sour soup. My dad is famous for his peanut sauce recipe, which is always requested when my sister returns home from school. My family and I love hot and sour soup, and I still add a ton of vinegar into my soup because I'm convinced the soup is never sour enough. Clearly, any soba noodle recipe that combines the two is going to be a hit in my book. 

Z hates soba noodles (another article of proof that I must really love him, because who doesn't like soba noodles?), so I put this recipe into heavy rotation when Z was out of town. Since we rarely eat tofu when Z is home (surprise, surprise, he also doesn't like tofu), I used this as my opportunity to marinate some firm tofu in a gingery, garlic peanut paste, and added it on top.

Hot and Sour Soba Noodle

Soba noodles are made from buckwheat, and they have a strong nutty flavor. While they are typically not gluten free, you can sometimes find 100% buckwheat noodles which would be gluten free! 

Hot and Sour Soba Noodle Salad

Recipe via the NYTimes

Note: my version calls for a double amount of garlicky peanut paste that I use to marinate the tofu. Cut the paste in half if only making the noodles. 

Paste for Sauce:
4 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2-4 teaspoons red pepper oil (start with 2, and add more to taste)
Pinch of cayenne
2 large garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
Salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons sesame oil

4 servings of tofu (drained and pressed to remove water)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup vegetable broth or chicken broth
1/2 pound Japanese buckwheat noodles
1 cup diced cucumbers


For the paste: Heat the peanut butter for 10 to 15 seconds in a microwave. Combine with soy sauce, vinegar, red pepper oil, cayenne, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper. Whisk together, and then whisk in sesame oil. 

Spread half of the mixture evenly over tofu, and place in fridge. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes, up to an hour. 

Hot and Sour Soba Noodle

Using remaining paste, whisk in canola oil and broth. Set aside. 

Bring large pot of water to boil, and then add the noodles. When water comes back to a boil, add a cup of cold water to the pot. Allow the water to come back to a boil, and then add another cup of cold water. Have water come to a boil again, and add a third cup of water. When the water comes to a boil, the noodles are done. 

Drain the noodles and toss immediately with the dressing. Add remaining ingredients, including tofu, and toss again. Serve immediately. 


Friday, August 21, 2015

FRI-YAY!

Summer Berry Pavlovas
Delicious cheese plate with summer fruits

Hope you all are having a great start to your weekend. Z's family is in town, so we have a lot planned! This week has felt rather hectic at work though, so I'm hoping for some R&R as well. To get you to the weekend, here are a few things for you...


John Oliver's piece on food waste is a must see.

Nutella egg creams? Such a great idea.

...And frozen hot chocolate.

The coffee you should be ordering.

Such a cute video.

I've been using my cast iron skillet a lot. If you don't have one, you should buy one!

A glimpse into my other work.

Lots of foodie fun this weekend in the Bay thanks to Eat Drink SF. See all the events here!

Words of wisdom.



Thursday, August 20, 2015

What to do with Wine Hostess Gifts

Hostess Tip Wine

Today marks a day of sharing new content on entertaining. I am by no means a perfect host, but after multiple dinner parties and house guests, I am slowly learning tips and tricks to make things easier. I want to share these tips with all of you!

You host a few friends for dinner. You make a mean pot of meat sauce, pasta, a green salad, and a fruit crisp. Friends start to trickle in, and your BFF from work brings white wine. Now comes the age-old dilemma...do you serve the white wine, even though it doesn't go with your sauce, or do you keep it for later?

Here's how I handle the situation:

If the wine is perfectly chilled and the friend seems very eager to drink it: 

Go ahead and serve it! You can serve your friend's wine AND a wine that better matches your food. Let your guests choose their own adventure. In cases when a champagne comes perfectly chilled or it's a really intense and fancy wine that the guest seems excited about, it's a clear indicator the friend was hoping you'd open it up and share!

If the wine isn't chilled and doesn't work for your meal:

In these situations, I label the wine with the name of the person who brought it. I stole the idea to do this from Ina Garten. Then, the next time I have them over, I can make sure to serve that wine. For example, at my birthday party, two of my friends brought by special bottles--one a nice champagne, the other a bourbon-barrel cider. Now, when I invite these friends over again, I can plan a meal specifically around the wine they brought, and I can serve the wine and enjoy it with them. 

Such a brilliant idea, right? I love anything that encourages more dinner parties and time with friends. I can't wait to have Karl, Merissa, and Haynes over again for dinner!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Peaches in Lillet

Lillet Peach Dessert

Phew, finally back from Boston and NYC, and ready to get back to sharing recipes.

Today's recipe is by far the easiest and healthiest dessert I have ever made.

I am very much a dessert fan--cakes, cookies, pudding, ice cream--and I typically believe that dessert should have sugar or flour in it to be considered dessert. This dish of marinated peaches totally changed my mind though.

It means almost every hip and trendy diet. It's gluten-free, paleo-friendly, alkaline diet friendly, and sugar-free. Yet, it is completely satisfying for every sweet tooth out there. I made this at a dinner party where one of my friends was Paleo, and everyone walked away a happy camper!

On top of how healthy it is, this peach dessert is incredibly easy to make. You chop up peaches and basil, add Lillet Blanc (a French aperitif), and then just let it sit in the fridge. It's perfect for hot, end of summer days when the last thing you can imagine doing is turning on the oven or stove.

For those not familiar with Lillet, get familiar! Lillet is a classic French fortified wine, often enjoyed before dinner. I particularly love it in the summer with a twist of lemon.

This peachy treat would be just as good as a late afternoon snack. Add in some warm sun and friends, and life is looking great.

Lillet Peach Dessert

Peaches in Lillet

Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine

3 ripe peaches, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch wedges (I was lazy and left the peel on)
1 750-ml bottle of Lillet
2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil

Toss peaches, Lillet, and basil in a large bowl. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. You can let the peaches sit for up to a day before serving. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

NYC and SF Guides

In need of a food and travel guide for San Francisco and New York? I just updated my NYC and SF guides, so you can find the best coffee shops, restaurants, ice cream places, plus activities, in the city. The New York City Guide has some updated favorites from my last trip, and the San Francisco City Guide includes some of my favorite, newer places here in the city. Have fun exploring!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Have a Great Weekend.

Happy Friday! I'm taking the day off from work today to explore Boston with Z. We're in town for a friend's wedding, and then we head to NYC. I am excited to be reunited with two of my favorites, Shake Shack and Sweetgreen. If you have any Boston or New York recommendations, send them my way!

I'm not the only one on the Soul Cycle craze. They just filed to go public!

14 UNESCO World Heritage sites you must go to. Vacation please.

What company is going to be the "Google of food"? One VC firm is trying to find out.

What french fry toppings are you a fan of?

Your body after a can of coca-cola. It's terrifying.

On my must-read list: Aziz Ansari's Modern Romance.


I recently tried this chocolate, and I'm now obsessed.

Loving this interview with Mindy Kaling. A must-read for all women out there!

5 healthy milkshake recipes.

Unlimited maternity and paternity leave? Fingers crossed this starts catching on.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Cheese & Fruit for Dinner

Cheese Dinner

Continuing with the theme of easy dinners, today I am sharing my favorite lazy, no-cook meal--bread, fruit, and cheese!

When I don't feel like cooking, I often head to the local co-op for some great cheese, ripe summer fruit, and fresh bread. It's a really filling meal, and thanks to the fruit, I can kind of convince myself that it is healthy.

In terms of cheese, Z and I are suckers for blue cheese and peaches. I prefer a creamier blue, while Z prefers a more crumbly blue. We typically end up settling on Point Reyes Original Blue, which is amazing!

Then, I add in two more types of cheese. In the fall, I'll do a sharp cheddar with apples. This spring, I've been eating a lot of brie and goat cheese though.

For fruit, anything ripe and in season should work well. Peaches, nectarines, cherries, and strawberries are constantly in our fruit/cheese/bread rotation.

Lastly, there's no point in eating great cheese if it doesn't have a great vehicle. We splurged for this shoot on Tartine bread, but any fresh baked bread will do.

This is the one "meatless" meal Z loves. While Z will never become a vegetarian, maybe I can convince him that every Monday should be our cheese/bread/fruit night.

What are your go-to easy meals? Share them in the comments below!


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

My Favorite Take-Out Meal

Easy vegetarian dinner

I'm all about cooking here on the blog. I love to cook, and I relish in sharing easy and delicious recipes with you all.

Even I have those days though where you make it home from work, and the last thing you want to do is make dinner. The thought of putting together a meal, or even creating a meal out of leftovers, sounds completely unappetizing.

It's essential to have a few take-out options in the back of your pocket, for when you just. can't. even.

My favorite take out meals are relatively healthy, fresh tasting, and cheap! In particular, I love love love Mediterranean food.

Easy vegetarian dinner

I always grab a vegetarian sampler plate from Truly Mediterranean. It costs under $10 and it includes: dolmades, falafel, hummus, baba ghanoush, Israeli salad, tabouleh, sumac onions, feta, and pita bread. It's so much food that I often get two meals out of it!

What are your favorite take out meals?
 

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