Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Grilled Chicken, Corn, and Avocado Salad

Last summer, right before my mom flew home after coming to visit the new baby, she made a dinner salad we had both been eyeing in Real Simple. And life in our house--or at least our kitchen--was forever changed! You would think a salad with just a few ingredients--and not very exotic ones at that--would taste average and ordinary. But the flavors in this easy salad hit all the right notes and blend perfectly to create a veritable taste sensation. The rosemary is sharp, the lemon bright.  The grilled corn is juicy and sweet, and the avocado is creamy with just a hint of mild spice. And let's not forget the nutty saltiness of the parmesan cheese.  We ate this delicious salad over and over again until the cool fall weather arrived, and it is the dish I have been most looking forward to as summer once again approaches.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!

"In Flanders Fields" by Lt. Col. John McCrae, 1915; "Poppies" original painting by Kristina Closs, available on Etsy here

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Crepe Paper Poppies

For me, Memorial Day means BBQ's and warm weather and sleeping in.  It also means long car trips through the dessert to the Veterans Memorial Cemetery with my whole family to put flowers and flags on Grandpa's grave. It means dressing in red, white, and blue and buying crepe paper poppies from the sweet, old man outside the grocery store. It means remembering with gratitude and awe the brave men and women who have lost their lives serving in the United States Armed Forces.

If you'd like to make your own crepe paper poppies this weekend, they are quick and sweet, and you might already have everything you need on hand.  Here's how:

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Recipe Redux: Caramel Corn

I got this recipe years ago from my friend Heather. Whenever she felt like she owed us a favor, one of her kids would show up on our doorstep with a huge bowl of chewy, buttery caramel corn. I have to say, getting paid in caramel corn is the way to go!

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Our Favorite Mac & Cheese

If you were to ask my 4 year-old what her favorite kind of mac & cheese is, she would quickly and happily reply, "Orange mac & cheese." I used to be just like her when I was little. I used to think mac & cheese from a box, made with some kind of day-glo, cheese-flavored powder, was as good as it got. Luckily, my taste in cheesy pasta dishes has matured somewhat, and I now prefer homemade mac & cheese to the artificially colored stuff you can buy at the store. Our favorite homemade mac & cheese is simple and straightforward in its flavors. It doesn't have any fancy spices or herbs muddying up the homey, comforting tastes of salty butter and sharp cheddar. And it's crowning glory, a toasted, buttery breadcrumb topping, is crispy and light and delicious. Even my 4 year-old agrees.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

diy Fringed Favor Bags

On Cinco de Mayo, I helped host a semi-annual handmade boutique featuring over 2 dozen local crafters and artists. It was a fun, crazy, hectic day filled with cupcakes, handmade crafts, and lots and lots of hot pink tissue paper. One of the fun things I got to be in charge of was the goodie bags we gave away throughout the day. I've gone a little overboard with them in the past, so this time I decided to keep it simple and chic. These flirty little favor bags are a snap to put together and cost almost nothing to make!

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Marinated Mozzarella

My husband and I have a favorite restaurant in town. We have never, ever taken the kids there; we try to sneak away a few times a year and enjoy a quiet meal together for our anniversary, a birthday, or to celebrate good news. For Valentine's Day this year, we failed to make reservations for dinner anywhere, and because it was in the middle of the week, finding a babysitter on a school night would have been hard anyway. So we decided to meet for lunch at our go-to place. Most tables and booths were empty, but the kitchen was a veritable hotspot of dinner preparations, and we got to sit at the counter that overlooks the kitchen and watch the staff trim steaks, chop produce, and make apple tarts. It was fun and fascinating, and they chatted with us pleasantly as they worked. My husband ordered his usual antipasto platter and devoured every last morsel--except for the marinated mozzarella, which I stole and enjoyed thoroughly. Several people in the kitchen readily gave up a basic recipe when asked, so now I can make it at home whenever I want.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Last Minute Mother's Day Gifts, diy-Style

We are unusually ahead of schedule this year with Mother's Day gifts.  We have presents for Grammy, Nana, and Momo bought and paid for; all that's left is a little wrapping paper and some ribbon. But if you're like I usually am, and you need some easy, last-minute gifts for the mom's, grandma's, and generally nurturing women in your life, here are a few we've tried and liked!

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Lime Meltaways


When I was in college, I got to spend a few months one summer studying Marine Biology in Monterey. Our classroom and lab were on the campus of Hopkins Marine Station, which is right next door to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and a short walk from the wonders of Cannery Row. It is also down the street from a Nob Hill grocery store, where I used to walk on our lunch breaks and buy a sandwich and a box of lime meltaways. The beautiful central coast of California didn't help me fall in love with any boys that summer (bummer!), but I've been in love with these tangy shortbread cookies ever since!
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Thursday, May 3, 2012

May Favorites {Give-Away}, Cinco de Mayo edition

Without too much ado, some favorites with a little fiesta flare for the holiday weekend...

1.  favorite way to give your arm a rest:  Campeon Lime Juicer
I love the flavor of limes in marinades, salads, baked goods, and beverages, but juicing a bunch of tiny limes with a classic citrus juicer (the kind where you twist the fruit) gives me arm cramps! This cool juicer is a breeze to use, and it gets every last drop of juice out of those limes {image from}

2.  favorite legit Cinco de Mayo decoration:  Papel Picado
For our Dora Party fiesta in March, I ordered two strands of these adorable, brightly colored, traditional cut paper banners from Casa Bonampak.  And they're still hanging in my kitchen over a month later because I love them so much.  If you want some for Cinco de Mayo, you won't have time to order any online, but check your local mercado; they might stock them. {image from [fotogramAtico]}

3.  favorite south-of-the-border wall art:  Mexican Matryoshka print by Amy Perrotti
I've been a big fan of Amy Perrotti's Cultural Matryoshka art series for a while now, but I can't make up my mind on which adorable print to buy. Every girl is so unique, so colorful and cute. Maybe I'll have to buy one of each! {image from AmyPerrotti on Etsy}

4.  favorite homemade mexican food that I wish I could eat every day:  Corn, Cheese, and Green Chile Tamales
My friend Tannya brought me a whole gallon-sized ziplock bag full of her yummy, homemade tamales a few years ago when we brought a new baby home from the hospital.  If memory serves, I ate several at lunch and dinner every day until they were gone, and I'm positive I did not share them with anyone!

5.  favorite way to waste a few minutes on the internet:  88 Nights of Cinco de Mayo
My brother and his friends decided to eat their way through the entire 88-item menu at their local mexican restaurant, Cinco de Mayo.  And they decided to film it.  Every time I hear that theme song, I have to smile! {image from}


The give-away is now closed. Thanks for visiting!! Give-away time!  This month, I am giving away a Campeon Lime Juicer, so you can make all the delicious marinades and margaritas you want this summer without cramping up!  To enter to win, leave a comment on this post, including your email address if it isn't easy to find.

And a quick, briefest of brief announcements:  I'm organizing and participating in a little handmade boutique this weekend in Eugene, OR, Bliss Handmade.  If you're in the area, I'd love to see you!  If you aren't in the area, we're giving away one of our goodie bags, and anyone in the US can enter!  Click HERE to see all of the glorious details.

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