Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Messy peanut butter cookie making, mom and me riding the trolley car, my cute mom (again on the trolley...), pie crust perfection, pretty view of Utah lake, me and my favorite on a motorbike ride, the prettiest little pink flowers, a Parisian breakfast. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

San Francisco

My mom and my sister had been planning a trip to San Francisco for a couple of months and a week before they left I invited myself to tag along. Really though, they love me enough to let me crash their party. They were specifically going for a Vermeer exhibit at the deYoung Museum, but after I got invited we had to make a few mandatory foodie destination stops as well.
Our first morning in the city we grabbed breakfast at the famous Dottie's. It's an adorable little restaurant with some really fabulous breakfast food. Because we weren't the only ones who were dying to try it we had to wait in line to get in for almost an hour.
Luckily the food was worth the wait!
Riding the trolley cars was one of my favorite things. They were so fun, creaking up and down big hills and usually packed full of people. It was a cool way to see the city.

We made our way to Lombard street to see the famous crooked hill, and were surprised by such a beautiful view of the city.
After wandering around for a bit we decided it was time for some food. At school we had a day where we Boudin Bakery, and what makes their sour dough so good. Since then I have wanted to visit the "bakers hall" and of course get a taste of the world famous sour dough bread.

While there we took a tour of the bake shop and watched the dough get mixed and shaped.
For dinner we ate a lot of bread. I got clam chowder in a sour dough bread bowl, my mom got a salad with a side of bread and my sister got a grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough. We were thoroughly carbo-loaded.
As if that wasn't enough after we left Fisherman's Wharf we walked over to Ghirardelli Square, birthplace of Ghirardelli chocolate, and indulged on the gloriousness.
We got the best cookie that ever existed and some ice cream treats. At this point we were completely filled with all things delicious. 
The next morning we met up with a life long friend who's currently living in San Francisco with her husband and adorable baby boy. She showed us her favorite view of the city and took us to an awesome breakfast spot. 
Me and best friend Tess - San Fran's most awesome resident! 

After the pretty view, a hearty french toast breakfast, and the amazing deYoung exhibit we found ourselves lounging in Alamo square park, munching on peanut butter m&m's, taking in some vitamin d, and trying to remember the theme song of Full House ("Everywhere you look...something, something, something..."). 
The Painted Ladies, were quite beautiful. 
We left the park to check out a pretty great view of Golden Gate Bridge.
And finished our day with some of the most amazing ice cream I've ever had. Salted caramel, snicker doodle, and lavender honey were the flavors we sampled.
Our last day in San Fran consisted of farmers market, ferry boats, Sausalito, and China Town. It was the perfect way to end our trip. 
This farmers market was one of the largest and most amazing I've ever been to. Tent after tent filled with fresh and tasty looking things to eat. 
We hung out on the Pier for a while snacking on our purchases and listening to live local music. 
After we were through at the farmers market we road the ferry boat to Sausalito, a little beach side community on the other side of the bay.

On our way back to the hotel we made a pit stop in China Town and snapped a few more pictures.
San Francisco was a cool city, I'm really glad I got the chance to go with my mom and my sister - we ate way too many cookies, shopped way too much and had a ball.
Now I'm home again with no plans to go anywhere anytime soon.
Adam's pretty glad about that.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Creamy Chicken Salad

So last week it was like 90 degrees here for a couple of days. My apartment felt like a Sauna. It was much too hot to do anything, especially cook. But alas we had to eat, so instead of pouring myself a hearty bowl of honey nut cheerios I made chicken salad sandwiches. Before you crinkle your nose up at the thought of the bland chicken and mayonnaise combo, hear me out. This chunky, crunchy, chewy, sweet and savory salad came straight from heaven. It starts with a flavorful poaching liquid, in which chicken is cooked until shred-able. Cashews are toasted, herbs chopped, lemon zested, all get tossed with dried cherries, a bit of creamy mayonnaise and of course the shredded chicken. Perfectly paired with baby spinach leaves, or sandwiched between a lightly toasted croissant you'll have your self a pretty great little summertime meal if you ask me. These require very little hot cooking and are refreshing on a warm evenings. They also can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator if that's what you're into.
Creamy Chicken Salad:

4 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
4 chicken breasts
1/2 Onion, halved
1 celery stalk, halved
1/2 teaspoon of each dried parsley, sage, marjoram, thyme (or 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning)
1 cup real mayonnaise
1/2 cup toasted cashews, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dried cherries
3 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, finely chopped (or 1 ½ teaspoon dried tarragon)
2 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
To serve
6 large croissants, cut in half and lightly toasted
Fresh spinach leaves

Place chicken pieces, onion, celery and seasoning into a large pot, cover with plenty of water, bring to a boil. Cook until chicken is no longer pink or registers 165 degrees internal temperature. Chicken breasts will probably be done before the thighs, check to make sure all chicken is cooked through. When chicken is finished remove the pieces from the hot water and place them on a sheet pan to cool. When chicken is cool enough to handle remove and discard the skin from the thighs and begin to shred all the chicken into bite sized chunks. Cover chicken and let cool in the refrigerator while preparing the dressing.
In a large bowl gently combine mayonnaise, cashews, cherries, tarragon, honey, dijon, lemon zest and juice, till incorporated. Season with salt, pepper and cinnamon, taste to adjust. Add the shredded chicken when it has cooled to the mayonnaise mixture. Serve cold with spinach leaves and split toasted croissants. Can be made 1 - 2 days in advance.
* The chicken to be used in this recipe can be flexible. If you have a whole chicken you'd like to use do that, or use all chicken breasts, or all thighs. However I find a combination of dark and light meat to be the best.
*Another easy alternative would be to use a cooled store bought rotisserie chicken.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Europe: Paris III

In Paris every morning starts with a Pain au Chocolat, and the walk to the metro looks like this:

And I love it. Such simple things make Paris, Paris. And Paris makes me happy.

 One morning we took the metro to the outskirts of the city to Les Puces, the Paris flee market. Its a big winding indoor/outdoor market, that has seemingly been there forever. Lilacs hang over narrow alleys. Old works of art and dusty french books are stacked on shelves as locals sit on lawn chairs playing cards with one another, eating packed lunches out of Tupperware containers.

Rusty keys and old, used post cards were some of my favorite finds from Les Puces.
I guess my banana nutella crepe was a pretty great find as well. 
 After the flee market we metro-ed back to the hotel and wandered around our neighborhood looking for a place to grab dinner. Then we came upon this street. It was not only picture perfect it was also just around the corner from our hotel. I loved where we stayed in the city it seemed pretty central to lots of different things. And being so close to the Eiffel tower was awesome because it was constant reminder of where I was.

For dinner we found a sweet little restaurant on the second level of a row house. This was the dish Maya got - steak and potatoes with a pan sauce with a fresh shallot parsley garnish. So simple but so yummy. It was great.

And then dessert happened. We looked at the menu and couldn't decipher much of anything except the word chocolate. We both love chocolate so we thought it would be a safe bet. It was. I took a BIG spoonful being sure to get plenty of the sweet creme anglais sauce and a couple of the almond slivers and put this giant bite into my mouth. I immediately realized that it would likely take me at least 2 minutes to recover. The richness was completely overwhelming, but was fantastic. The bowl was basically filled with rich creamy vanilla sauce and two huge chocolate truffles. Tiny bite after tiny bite, I was in love. But by the time we struggled through finishing the dish our stomachs were so full we could barely make it home. 
The next morning we woke up to rain it poured and poured for about 2 hours - we were soaked.

We made our way to the Cathedral of Notre Dame. And quickly took cover until the rain stopped.

If you ask me it was a pretty stunning place to wait out the rain.

The cathedral was just as beautiful as you'd imagine. Stained glass, fantastic architecture and candlelight. There was just so much to look at. Being in such a historic place was humbling. I still can't believe that it's been there since the 1300's. 

Finally the rain stopped and we walked around the grounds, admiring every angle of the big church.

We walked around the Île de la Cité, the small island that Notre Dame is on and found Berthillion. It was another one of those places, that we had to try. With glowing reviews claiming to have the best ice cream. And after trying the frozen treats I'd say that it was worth the hype. The ice cream was rich and creamy and just plain goooood.

We crossed the river on the love lock bridge. When couples come to Paris some choose to lock a small (or big) lock on the bridge and throw their key into the river, to symbolize their love. It's a sweet tradition that's been going on for a long time. Someday I'll be back and maybe Adam and I can lock our own love lock on the bridge.
We made our way to the Luxembourge gardens in the fun Latin district.
And then it was time for more treats. 
This time at Pierre Herme, another wonderfully famous patisserie in Paris. I got a pistachio strawberry tart and Maya got some green thing (haha) with tiny strawberries on top. Both were delicious, and incredibly difficult to eat. But delicious. So delicious.

Our last night in Paris was flawless. I wore black because I was in mourning, and because it's what Parisians do. I want to be Parisian.

We went to the famed Cafe de Flore for dinner. I had the quiche with a little green salad. We sat on the patio. It was buzzing with people talking quickly in French. Sipping on after work drinks, or waiting to meet friends. I loved the atmosphere.

I did my best to take it all in, and really savor my last night in this city that I had fallen in love with.

Paris proved to be exactly what I hoped it would be. Magical.

After dinner we walked to another restaurant that happened to be on top of a hotel, a block away from the Eiffel tower for dessert.
We stayed there for two hours. Chatting about our trip, savoring our cheesecake, and dreaming of days in the future when we'll be back. After the sun goes down the tower sparkles at the top of every hour for five minutes. We couldn't have had a better view. Thousands of tiny lights flicker on and off, covering the tower from top to bottom, it couldn't be more beautiful.  

Since I was a little girl, movies, and books, and songs that had anything to do with France were my favorite. I remember having a conversation with my mom when I was eight while eating french toast at the breakfast table that went something like, "Mom I like all French stuff, french bread, french braids, french toast, french fries..." And that couldn't be anymore true now that I've been there. I do like all French stuff. The buildings, the food, the history, the people. Nothing was a let down, nothing was disappointing. Everything was perfect. And I feel lucky that I was able to visit this place that I have dreamed about for most of my life. Being there with my best friend was wonderful. I can't think of a better person to experience Paris with for my first time than her.
And now I've been home for a week and I already can't wait to go back!!