Friday, July 30, 2010

Saffron Orzo with Shrimp

I love Giada's recipes, as seen here and here.
I served it with sauteed green beans.

I made this recipe for Saffron Orzo with Shrimp from Giada's Everyday Pasta cookbook and it was fabulous! It was quick, easy, healthy, and so delicious. I substituted the orzo for Trader Joe's mixture of Israeli couscous, quinoa, orzo, and baby garbanzo beans and used shrimp that had already been cooked and cleaned (because that's what I had) and we loved it. I also used less olive oil (about 4 tablespoons). I'll definitely be making this again very soon. Here's the recipe if you'd like to try it. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Saffron Orzo with Shrimp
6 Servings

4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 pound orzo
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
juice of 1 lemon
3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

In a large pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, bringing the broth to a simmer. Add the saffron, stir, and simmer until the saffron has "bloomed," about 5 minutes. Return the heat to medium and bring the stock to a boil, then add the orzo and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the orzo and transfer to a large bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil, the parsley, half the lemon juice, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and combine thoroughly.

In a bowl, toss the shrimp with 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and the remaining lemon juice. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp in a single layer and cook until the shrimp are just turning pink, about 2 minutes per side. Add the shrimp to the bowl with the orzo. Toss to combine and serve.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Santa Monica Place

Just 8 more days until the new Santa Monica Place mall opens (just blocks away from where I live) and I couldn't be more excited about it! West L.A. has always come up short in the mall department, but this is going to change everything. The list of retailers includes Bloomingdales AND Nordstrom (amazing), Barney's CO-OP, BCBG, Juicy, Michael Kors, Kitson, Coach, and many more. There's also a rooftop dining area with numerous upscale restaurants, including pizza, Mexican, a wine garden, and sushi. Gabe and I are always complaining about the lack of great Mexican restaurants in Santa Monica, so we're most excited about that one. I'll definitely be shopping/dining here as soon as it opens next weekend. For those of you who live in the area, will you be checking it out?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Military Chic

1. Modcloth A Salute To Style Dress $169.99
2. Free People
Skinny Military Pants $98
3. DV Dolce
Vita Brewer Flat Boots $150
4. Lucky Brand Service Jacket $99
5. KORS Michael Kors Olympia Ballet Flats $185
6. Forever 21 Militant Woven Skirt $19.80
7. Sanctuary Belted Uniform Jacket $158

As we've all seen, the military look was big for Spring and is going to be even bigger this Fall. I've been welcoming the army green and camouflage into my life in various forms, my most recent being #7, which I just added to my fall wardrobe. My favorite way to wear this look is paired with more feminine pieces, to create a structured balance. I especially love these jackets over lace and floral skirts or dresses. One of the great aspects of this trend is that almost everyone has something military inspired in their current closet. So pull out those cropped cargo pants you wore in college and pair them with sky high booties this fall.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

S'Mores Bars

I used Trader Joe's Belgian chocolate instead of Hershey's.

Gabe ate his with ice cream.

I made these S'Mores Bars for the first time over the weekend (thank you Sarah for introducing me to the recipe). I have to say, of all the desserts I've ever made, this just might be my favorite. I've never had anything like them. It starts with a layer of graham cracker dough, then melted chocolate, then marshmallow fluff, topped with more graham cracker dough. In a word, they were glorious. I strongly recommend making these next time you have a craving for something sweet.

S'Mores Bars
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 (1.55 oz. each) HERSHEY'S Milk Chocolate Bars
1 cup marshmallow creme

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 8-inch square baking pan.
2. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Press half of dough into prepared pan.
3. Arrange chocolate bars over dough, breaking as needed to fit. Spread with marshmallow creme. Scatter bits of remaining dough over marshmallow; carefully press to form a layer.
4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. 16 bars.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Revival of the Blouse

1. Topshop Doily Print Oversize Blouse $90
2. Paul & Joe Sister Blossom Blouse $51.97 (sale)
3. See By Chloe Star Print Blouse $395
4. Tucker The Blouse $184.99 (sale)
5. Forever 21 Spot Blended Silk Blouse $27.80
6. Topshop Jacquard Blouse $80

Although the word "blouse" tends to evoke images of our grandma's wardrobe, I've always had many blouses hanging in my closet. I've always worn them regularly to work. But only recently have I transitioned them from my work wardrobe to my weekend wear. Suddenly, blouses are everywhere, paired with shorts, skirts, skinny jeans, you name it! I feel like I just hit the wardrobe jackpot and have countless new options by converting my work clothes into stylish weekend outfits! Are you embracing the Blouse?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mood Polish




I recently stumbled upon these Mood Polishes (a modern version of the mood ring) and had to get the details. As with mood rings, they apparently change color with your mood and body temperature (or when you run your hands under hot/cold water). I'm dying to try them! I'll be searching for them at Beauty Supply stores this weekend, in the hopes of avoiding the shipping charge from the online site. Have any of you tried this out yet? If so, I'd love to hear about it! Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Feminine Frills

Between our weekend of bike rides and beach time, Gabe and I were able to walk to dinner and savor the sunshine along the way. I paired this lace top with this floral flowy skirt and felt incredibly girly and old fashioned. The shoes topped it off, turning the outfit into what I like to call "grandma chic". I loved the look and feel of the lace top and can't wait to pair it with blazers and skinny jeans for fall.

Skirts with pockets are always a favorite of mine.

Forever 21 lace top and floral skirt, Aldo shoes, Nordstrom brand clutch, Michael Kors watch

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Magnolia Bakery Opens in L.A.

Magnolia Bakery opened it's doors in Los Angeles over the weekend. Although I had never before been to Magnolia, I've made many of their delicious desserts with More From Magnolia cookbook (as seen here, here, and here) and was already quite a fan. Whitney and I stopped in on Monday to see the bakery and try their treats and were delighted with what we found. The decor is adorably old fashioned, with black and white checkered floors, fresh flowers, and pastel colored walls. The menu features brownies, cheesecakes, icebox pies, puddings, and cookies as well as their famous cupcakes that started the entire mini-dessert craze. I tested the waters with my two favorite flavors-red velvet and vanilla. While both were decadent and satisfying, I was a little disappointed with the consistency of the cake (a little dry) and the frosting on the red velvet. I found out later that you can specify cream cheese frosting, but the standard red velvet comes with whipped vanilla icing. The chic retro feel of Magnolia won me over in the decor department and I was elated that there wasn't a line. I'll definitely be back to try the cheesecakes and icebox pies, but when it comes to cupcakes, I still prefer Sprinkles.

In other news, the lovely Lisa from In Dramatic Fashion has featured me today on her Style Snapshot. Check it out!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cross Body Bags

1. Treesje Blackheart Studded Leather Crossbody Bag $298
2. Marc Jacobs Quilting Shoulder Bag $525
3. Cole Haan Britney Studded Leather Crossbody Bag $138.60 (sale)
4. Forever 21 Classy Leatherette Shoulder Bag $26.80
5. Topshop Leather Large Pyramid Stud Bag $90

Over the past few years, cross body bags have become a staple of mine when running around town. They're the most comfortable way to carry a purse without feeling weighed down by its contents. I love the versatility and ease of throwing on a cross body bag and heading out the door for a bike ride, walk, errands, or dinner. I've compiled a list of the cross bodies that have recently caught my eye at all different price points. What's your favorite type of purse to tote around town?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hug Deli

While riding our bikes at the beach on Saturday, Gabe and I passed the "Hug Deli" and were instantly intrigued. As I mentioned here, this isn't the first time I've witnessed people giving away something unusual for free on the Santa Monica beach. But there's something about a hug that seems so much more personal to me than free advice. In contrast to the free advice station, the Hug Deli was flourishing, with people lined up down the beach to receive their free hugs! After receiving their hugs, they couldn't wipe the smiles off their faces. The Hug Deli has an extensive menu of bear hugs, warm & fuzzies, gangsta hugs, and awkward hugs (Vince Vaughan from Wedding Crashers comes to mind) and the "payment" is to pay the hugger two compliments. Research shows that those who have human contact and people they rely on live longer, healthier lives than those who isolate themselves. Maybe the Hug Deli is onto something. How would you feel about a stranger hugging you in exchange for a few compliments? Would you welcome this gesture?

photos via facebook

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Place in the Sun

photos by Raya Carlisle

It finally feels like summer weather in Southern California. The warm, sunny days are much appreciated after many gloomy months. I plan on spending the majority of my weekend at the beach, doing yoga, riding my beach cruiser, and visiting with friends. What do you have planned for the weekend? Hope you all have a great one!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Red Velvet Cake Balls

We dipped them in white chocolate.

Over the weekend I made these Red Velvet Cake Balls from Bakerella for the first time. The concept of mashing up a cake and mixing it with frosting initially sounded crazy to me. I mean, isn't the frosting the best part and don't we all eat the cake first and then scoop up all the frosting by the spoonful in an attempt to save the best for last? Or is that just how I eat cake? After making these cake balls, I can now assure you that the people at Bakerella are onto something. They were soft, moist, and perfectly sweetened without making you sick to your stomach (unless you eat 15 of them in a row like I did, which I don't recommend). Bakerella has become one of my favorite websites for creative desserts (see the Oreo Kisses I made here). What are your favorite websites/cookbooks for great desserts?