Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ciao, Italy!

Shorts-Citizen of Humanity
Scarf-Banana Republic
Hat-Lerner NY
Scarf-Michael Stars
Hat-Lerner NY

I leave for Italy today and am beyond excited to explore and eat fantastic Italian cuisine! It's currently in the mid 80's over there so I packed my summer clothes for the trip. A few of the essentials I bring with me whenever I travel is a hat, scarf, and cardigan. Both a cardigan and a scarf not only spruce up an outfit but they're great to have in your bag in case the temperature drops in the evening or if you're dining indoors and the restaurant is blasting the AC. A hat is great because it will protect your face from the sun and you'll also look cute;) I'll try to update on twitter if I can, but, if not I'll be back in about a couple of weeks. Can't wait to share my travels with you, ciao!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

NomNom: Homemade Pizza

As promised from my last food post I'm continuing with the Italian theme. How much more Italian can you get other then pizza, right? Homemade pizza has been a trial and error for me because of the crust but I think I finally found a recipe for the perfect thin crust pizza! I didn't really have a theme for my pizza (ie Hawaiian, Veggie) other then the fact it was toppings I wanted to have on mine:)
This is probably the most crucial part of the process. The temperature of the water has to be warm and you musn't bother the yeast while it does its thing. Shhhhhh....
The dough will double in size after about 30 minutes.
Just to warn you, kneading is a work out of its own. My hands were sore after doing this but maybe that's a good indication that I might be a weaksauce? Hmmmm...
Toppings I used were mushrooms, black olives, Italian sausage, green peppers and goat cheese. Nomnomnom.
Ready to be baked in the oven. Go go go!
Every time I look at this picture I start to salivate--no joke. The melted goat cheese with the combination of the mushroom and salty olives..sigh let me stop, I think you get the picture. This recipe is definitely a keeper because it really was all that and then some AND it's also a great interactive way to enjoy with friends, kids, or loved ones!

Recipe (yields 2)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (may substitute whole wheat flour for 1 cup of the all-purpose) 
1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of dry oregano
1 cup warm water
1/2-1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Mix a little sugar into the warm water.
2. Sprinkle yeast on top.
3. Wait for 10 minutes or until it gets all foamy.
4. Pour into a large bowl.
5. Add flour, salt, olive oil and combine.
6. Knead for 6-8 minutes until you have a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (add a bit more flour if you need to).
7. Cover and let rest for 20-30 minutes.
8. Lightly grease two 12-inch pizza pans.
9. Divide dough in half.
10. Place each half on a pizza pan and pat it with your fingers until it stretches over the whole pan.
11. Try to make it thicker around the edge.
12. If desired, pre-bake at 425 F for 10 minutes (I don't always do this).
13. Then spread with pizza sauce and use the toppings of your choice.
14. Bake at 425 F for 10-20 minutes longer or until bubbly and hot.
15. Makes 2 12-inch pizzas.
16. If you don't want to use all the dough, you can freeze it.
17. Take a portion of dough, form into a ball, rub olive oil over it and place it in a freezer bag (the oil makes it easier to take out of the bag).
18. When you want to make a pizza, take dough out of freezer and allow to thaw before using.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall

Blouse-Banana Republic
Denim-Citizens of Humanity
Necklace-David Yurman
Sunglasses-Stella McCartney
Belt-Banana Republic

Fall is officially here and I've been very reluctant to embrace this season because I know that winter will creep up soon enough. However, the weather has been funny lately where it's not exactly summer and not exactly fall either which happens to be great for layers. This outfit was actually perfect for the weird in between weather we've been having because the layers keep me warm yet wearing shorts sort of downplay the layers and keep me cool. I recently picked up this sweater from H&M for $9.99 (such a steal!!) and was immediately drawn to the colors. I don't own any pick colored items in my closet because I've always associated pink as too girly for me, but I've been enjoying playing around with the color to offset the girliness of it. As I welcome this new color into my wardrobe I also welcome the new season with open arms because sometimes change can definitely be a good thing.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

NomNom: Spaghetti and meatballs

I'm leaving for Italy in about a week and I couldn't be more excited. Work has been a bit stressful and this trip couldn't have come at a more perfect time. Traveling teaches me new things that I was unaware of before and rejuvenates my soul, which I'm in need of right now. I visited Italy about 4 years ago but only have been to Rome; however, this time around, l'll be traveling to Pisa, Florence, and Cinque Terre! In honor of this upcoming trip, I will be posting a series of Italian themed dishes for you starting with good ol' spaghetti and meatballs.

I'm a big meat lover and my meal feels incomplete without some sort of meat in it--spaghetti is no exception. Homemade meatballs are great because you can control how big you want the meatballs to be. There will be none of that itty bitty meatball here.
Baking them first for about 20 minutes drains some of the oil from the meat. This will cook further in the sauce.

Dump the cooked pasta into the sauce and make sure the noodles are covered in the delicious sauce.
There's something very warm and inviting about having this dish, whether it brings you back to childhood memories or simply because you find enjoyment from eating it. It's a classic Italian dish that uses simple ingredients you can't go wrong with.

Recipe: Meatballs (adapted from All Recipes)
1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg, beaten

Recipe: Sauce (adapted from All Recipes)
3/4 cup chopped onion
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 bay leaf
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, and cook the onion until lightly brown. Mix in 2 cloves garlic, and cook 1 minute. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, water, sugar, 1/2 the oregano, and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer while preparing meatballs.
2. In a bowl, mix the ground beef, bread crumbs, remaining oregano, remaining garlic, parsley, eggs, and cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Roll into 1 inch balls. 
3. Bake them at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and drop into the sauce. Cook 40 minutes in the sauce, or until internal temperature of meatballs reaches a minimum of 160 degrees F (72 degrees C). 
4. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil, and stir in the spaghetti. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente, and drain. Serve the meatballs and sauce over the cooked spaghetti.
5. Grate and top with more Parmesan cheese if desired and serve with a nice glass of red wine;)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Emmys' Fashion Hits

Whenever there's a big Hollywood awards show on, the first thing I think about is which designer will the celebrities be dressed in. The Emmys were last night and there was a definite trend on the red carpet with the color red. I'm a huge fan of this color because it's such a vibrant and sexy color to to have in your wardrobe, and practially all my favorite looks from that night happened to be in this shade!
 Nina Dobrev in Donna Karan. My favorite look of the night--absolute perfection from dress, hair, and jewels.

Kerry Washington in Zuhair Murad Couture. Fits like a glove, just fabulous.

 Sofia Verga in Vera Wang. Draped in all the right places.

Evan Rachel Wood in Elie Saab. One of the few non-red gowns I loved. Simple yet glamorous.

Minka Kelly in Dior. So lady like and elegant.
All images taken by

What were some of your favorite looks?

Friday, September 16, 2011

NomNom: Banchan: Spicy Bean Sprouts and Spicy Steamed Egg

Banchan in Korean refers to small side dishes. If you've ever been to a Korean restaurant you'll notice that they always give you a plethora of banchan that may vary from pickled vegetables, tofu, and kimchi which are meant to be shared. This is a staple in Korean cuisine because aside from the main dishes you always need an accompaniment(s).

"Kongnamul muchim" is a soybean sprout side dish that can be prepared either spicy or not. I chose to make the spicy version because, well, I just like a little heat in my dishes. After all, I am Korean;)

Kongnamul Muchim
1/2 lb soybean sprouts
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1.5 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
2 chopped green onion
2 cloves of minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt to taste

1. Break off the end pieces or the soybean sprouts and throw out any wilted ones.
2. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a pot and put sprouts into the pot. Close lid. Boil for 10 minutes.
3. Drain the soybean sprouts and rinse with cold water.
4. Move to a bowl.
5. Mix soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, green onions, garlic, salt, and sugar with the cooked soybean.
6. Mix with hand.

"Mae woon gye ran jjim" translates to spicy steamed egg. Similar to the soybean sprout side dish, this can be prepared spicy or non spicy and again, I made the spicy version. HA! What can I say, spicy runs in my blood. This is such a simple yet savory dish that you can whip up in less then 20 minutes. I've seen this dish cooked using the microwave but I chose to steam it because I find that the texture is more silky, almost pudding like when steamed, which I prefer.

Mae woon gye ran jjim (adapted from beyondkimchee)
2 eggs
1/2 cup of chicken stock
1 green onion
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Sesame oil (optional)

1. Combine all the ingredients minus the sesame oil in a steam proof bowl. Cover the bowl with foil.
2. In a pot filled with water that can reach to the half way up to the steam proof bowl in it, place a small plate on the bottom of the pot to secure the bowl during boiling. 
3. Place the bowl and cover the pot with a lid. Boil over medium high heat for 7-9 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Be cautious! It is very hot.
4. Drizzle with sesame oil and serve hot or warm.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bling: David Yurman

When it comes to accessories, jewelry is a definite weakness I have. I believe in investing money with certain pieces because they are something that you can continue to wear for years to come and possibly pass down to your children. Don't get me wrong, I adore shoes and bags, but, I think that jewelry means the most because there is always a story behind each necklace, ring, bracelet, etc. Whether it was gifted by your significant other, passed down from family members, or bought for one's self, it has a story to tell. For me, I grew up watching my mom wear David Yurman pieces. As a kid I didn't think much of it because it looked too "adult like" but as I grew older I understood why she appreciated each sophisticated Yurman piece.  He has now become one of my favorite designers and a staple in my outfits. 
14mm Pave Diamond Infinity Necklace
I've been searching for a simple pendant for awhile now and I came across this necklace. I love that the design of the pendant is simple and not too extravagant yet the pave diamonds adds an elegant and "bling" factor to it;) It had to come home with me...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Leopard and Stripes

Necklace-Alexis Bittar

For the past couple of days the East Coast has had torrential downpours---not cool. Mother nature, please stop with this rain because it's not cute anymore. I was on my way out to meet some friends for drinks and the rain and thunder started again so I decided to take pictures indoors. I'm a fan of leopard anything but usually in small doses (You won't catch me wearing leopard from head to toe). I recently bought this shirt and it's been rotating in my closet because it's so versatile. You can dress it down (pair it with denim shorts/jeans) or dress it up with a skirt and the right accessories. I've been on the hunt for interesting pendants and fell in love with this Alexis Bittar necklace because it has an understated elegance to it. I'm so glad that I came across it so I can add it to my growing Alexis Bittar collection;)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

NomNom: Blueberry Boy Bait

Whenever I'm cooking or baking something it usually stems either from a craving or a picture I come across that inspires me to make just that. In this case, the latter happened. I was in my usual, "I feel like baking something" mood and with the weather being rainy and dismal, I wanted to eat something cake-y.  Hmm not sure how cake correlates with rainy weather but that's just my nonsensical food logic *shrug* I came across the recipe and thought this was perfect because it incorporates blueberries which I love AND my craving for cake would be satisfied. Score!
Blueberries aren't in season anymore so I used frozen ones but it still turned out warm and buttery with just the right amount of sweetness. 

Gently fold in the blueberries

Showering the cake with more blueberries
What is it about having something baking in the oven, waiting to be eaten on rainy days like this...or any day for that matter.
If anything, you should make this recipe just from the name alone because I assure you friends, it definitely does the job;) Enjoy!

Blueberry Boy Bait (serves 12, adapted from smittenkitchen)
2 cups plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not defrost first as it tends to muddle in the batter)

1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
2. Whisk two cups flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. With electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated and scraping down bowl. Reduce speed to medium and beat in one-third of flour mixture until incorporated; beat in half of milk. Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally remaining flour mixture.
3. Toss blueberries with remaining one teaspoon flour. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries.
4. Spread batter into prepared pan.
5. Scatter blueberries over top of batter. Stir sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl and sprinkle over batter. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes.
6. Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out and place on serving platter (topping side up). Serve warm or at room temperature.