Paris at Night

I've been brainstorming a bedroom makeover, and this custom Paris city map wallpaper has captured my heart.  Even though another trip to Paris is a distant possibility right now, I can't think of a better backdrop to inspire my dreams than the City of Light...


Sea Salt Chocolate Chunk Cookies

We recently went to a delicious brunch in Santa Monica at Misfit, where every meal ends with  a soft, chewy, salted chocolate chip cookie fresh out of the oven.  I have been wanting to make some ever since, and the trend seems to be everywhere I look these days (like here and here).  

I used one of my newly discovered favorite recipes, Jacques Torres' Secret Chocolate Chip Cookies and then sprinkled each cookie with a heavy pinch of sea salt before baking.  What makes this recipe special is the use of bread and pastry flour rather than all-purpose flour.  I chopped up Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate bars rather than use chocolate chips.  The last time I made the full recipe, it made a ton of cookies, so this time I cut the recipe in half.  You could also just freeze some of the dough to bake later.

Make these cookies to help get your daily dose of chocolate; in case you hadn't heard, recent studies show that it's good for you! ;-)

I wrapped each cookie in a wax envelope sealed with some patterned tape:


Lasagna Cupcakes

After making these dessert wontons, I had a lot of wonton wrapper supply and not enough demand for more sweets.  I searched around and lasagna cupcakes were clearly the answer; use any of your favorite lasagna recipes. I used this Spinach & Prosciutto lasagna recipe from Martha Stewart, and adapted it in size for muffin tins.  These little lasagna cups are perfect for entertaining, as well as making quick, yet special meals at home.  They are also very healthy - I made six "cupcakes", which, based on rough calculations, came in at about 80 calories each (using fat free ricotta and low fat mozzarella cheese).  I started feeling pretty full after just three. 

You can cut the wontons into a circle, or leave them square and have the ends stick out.  Make sure to grease your muffin tins before lining with the wonton wrappers.  I then layered with the spinach mix, another wonton wrapper, next the sauce and prosciutto mixture, topped with the mozzarella cheese.  An added bonus (to the cuteness factor) is that these little cups bake faster than a full lasagna, done after just 20 minutes in a preheated 375 degree Fahrenheit oven.


Embellished Zip Up Hoodie

So.... here is another Kourtney Kardashian inspired DIY (the other one posted here).  What can I say, I like her wardrobe!  I was inspired by a sweatshirt she wore and could not get the idea to embellish one myself this way out of my head.  Searching online, I could not find out what the actual garment was, so I made this going off of my memory.

All you will need are long tube beads, a zip up hoodie, a needle, some thread and a marking pencil. Feel free to play around with the design to your own liking.  Play around with your bead placement before beginning to sew them on.  Once you have an arrangement you are happy with, use a marking pencil to help guide the sewing process.  

I love wearing this hoodie so much more now!


Banana-Nutella Wontons

I was excited to give this recipe a try - it combined my recent churro cravings with chocolaty banana goodness.  It also could not have been easier to make.  Just throw some Nutella and bananas in some pre-made wonton wrappers, pinch them shut, then coat with butter before sprinkling with a cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 8-10 min.  It's probably best to take them out of the oven sooner than later... Mine were yummy, but the wontons were a tad too crisp/hard.


Food Photography

I stumbled upon these incredible "food in motion" photographs by Dyad photography, the Brooklyn husband and wife team of Colleen and Justin Picciotti.  While in real life this type of mess would drive me crazy, their perfectly styled conceptual photos reveal the beauty in disorder.


Ricotta Gnocchi

Gnocchi is one of my favorite Italian meals, however I'd never made it myself from scratch before.  I am used to having potato-based gnocchi, especially when buying pre-made versions from the grocery store.  When I saw this recipe, I was intrigued not only to try making it myself, but to see how different a flour-based version would taste.

The dough is very soft and moist, so it's important to have a lot of flour on your working surface in order to be able to roll it out:

Then, cut the gnocchi out of the dough and set aside for boiling:

Once cooked in boiling water, toss in seasoned browned butter (I didn't have rosemary so I used some thyme):


 This recipe was definitely tasty, but I think I prefer potato gnocchi - I'll have to try making that next time.  I served this with a salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, hearts of palm, baby corn, beets, avocado, raisins and sunflower seeds to hopefully help negate some of the cheese and butter fat!


Happy Persian New Year

The beginning of Spring marks the start of a New Year in Persian culture.  The Sal Tahvil or the Sa'at-e Tahvil is New Year's Eve, which is the official time for the Spring Equinox. The equinox occurs at a different point in time each year, so the date is different each year, but close to March 20th.  This year it took place at 10:14 pm on 3/19/2012.

Part of the tradition is to set a table called the "Haft-Sin", meaning "Seven S's".  The table is set with seven specific symbolic items, all starting with the letter S in Farsi. Additional items may be included that represent renewal, happiness, wealth, and good health.  Growing up, my mother always prepared a Haft-Sin setting (sometimes the same goldfish would even live to see the next "Norooz" or New Year).  Since I have lived on my own, I have never made my own Haft-Sin - I would like to set one next year, so I will start this year by brainstorming my presentation of these symbolic items for next year.  

The tradition of painting eggs for the Haft-Sin is similar to that of painting Easter eggs:

Painted Eggs for Haft-Sin
Here are some pictures of beautiful Haft-Sins:

Love the hanging Sabzeh
Romantic glow
Purples & Greens
Wine glass presentation

Happy New Year and to the beginning of beautiful Spring!!!

Here is a good chart on some of the symbolism associated with the Haft-Sin:


    Beaded Clutch Love

    As you may already be aware, I am somewhat obsessed with beads/beading/my bead loom at the moment.  I am therefore jumping up and down over all the awesome beaded clutches they have at Forever 21 right now.  I snagged one over the weekend (who doesn't love colorful tribal geometric designs??), and a quick look online reveals a wider assortment.  The clutches I saw in the store were different from the variety online.  At under $30 a bag, I highly suggest you hightail it over to your nearest location to scope out the goods!

    Bead & Sequin Stripe
    Embellished Clutch
    Embellished Maze Clutch
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