San Francisco has brought out a whole new food palette to me. The different varieties of restaurants and the amazing ethnic foods avaliable here are out of this world. I grew up in the suburbs where chain restaurants where pretty much all that was avaliable to us. Moving to a city like this, you rarely come across a chain restaurant, every place is local and a mom and pop kind of place. It is awesome.

I’d never tried Indian food before moving here and to be honest never appealed to me. But San Francisco is getting to me in more ways than one. Food holds a special place in my heart and food holds a special place in San Francisco’s heart, thankfully we share the love.

Chickpea & Spinach Curry

Recipe adapted from JenlovesKev

  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 t fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 t curry powder
  • 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 14 oz can of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 lb of fresh baby spinach leaves
  • fresh cilantro chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet heat oil and saute onion, garlic and ginger until golden. Add curry powder and mix all together. Add diced tomatoes and chickpeas and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer letting sauce thicken up a little about 10 mins. Right at the end add spinach and cilantro. Cook just till wilted. Serve over brown rice.

Images: sammyw

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It’s beginning to look like Valentine’s day around here! We don’t go all out and celebrate, but Isaac always brings me a box of conversation hearts, my favorite! Although, Valentine’s day wouldn’t seem like Valentine’s day without making these sugar cookies.

I’ve mentioned before the memories and traditions that come with these cookies, and this holiday is no different.

Wish you a wonderful love filled weekend with your Valentine.

Sugar Cookies
Recipe from Mom

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups sifted flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth & fluffy. Next add dry ingredients until fully combined. Cover dough & chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Once dough is cold & slightly hardened, flour a work surface, roll out dough and cut into shapes. Bake on parchment paper for about 6-8 minutes. Cool on wire rack completely before frosting.

Daddy’s Favorite Frosting

  • powdered sugar
  • water
  • food coloring

Mix powdered sugar & water together until a paste forms. It can be any consistency, but the thicker it is the better it tastes! Add a couple drops of food coloring to make it look pretty! Allow frosted cookies to dry on wax paper until completely dry and store in an airtight container with sheets of wax paper in between each layer.

Images: sammyw

We started the weekend off right, with the best blueberry buttermilk pancakes ever. They tasted even better after sleeping in past 9am.

I’ve been making the same chocolate chip cookie recipe for years, so long in fact, I can make the recipe completely from memory. But this weekend I tried a new recipe and I’m so happy with the results. The best part was the little sprinkle of sea salt on top before sticking them in the oven.

We started putting together a dresser for the baby room, can’t wait to put everything in its place.

Speaking of baby, I’m surely growing one. My belly is getting rather large at 26 weeks.

To finish off the weekend, we hosted a Super Bowl party at our place, complete with it’s very own nacho bar. I made my mom’s tried and true re-fried beans recipe.

The weather this weekend was pretty epic, upper 60’s Saturday and in the 70’s on Sunday. We walked to church and didn’t even need a sweater, it was indeed a wonderful weekend!

Images: sammyw

We are well into our second month of the year, I don’t know about you but January seemed to just fly by. Another month behind us means one month closer to meeting our baby girl. I am trying so very hard to savor this time with Isaac. Do all the things that will be a little more complicated with a newborn. Like planning long and slow dinner dates, trips to the movies, a visit to Seattle to see beloved friends, very late and lazy weekend mornings (complete with the aforementioned scones) and a few day trips around the bay area for exploring.

We think we are prepared and sort of know what to expect. Sleep deprivation, 2am wake up calls, mounds of diaper changes, laundry, milk soaked burp cloths, doctor visits; basically having our whole little world turned upside down. But in reality, Isaac and I both look at each other and say in unison, We have no idea what we are in for… We’re elated of course to welcome her into our lives, cannot wait to hold, snuggle and raise her. Take her on walks around Golden Gate Park, show her where to get the best sticky bun and just how beautiful this city really is.

But beginning a new season, also means saying goodbye to the old one. One that Isaac & I have grown, cared for and nurtured for 5 years. We’re used to our life, we know it pretty well, it’s comfortable and it fits. It’s a defining moment in time, adding another layer onto our cared for and nurtured 5 years. Hoping we will again grow, learn and humbly move forward as life continues to change and mold into something new and unknown. I guess I’m a bit sentimental about the whole process because I am so thankful for life as it stands now. I know God will work in our midst, just as He did when we started our lives together 5 years ago. But still my prayer is that I would use the time to look back, reflect, squeeze the life out of our remaining months as a family of 2, and to realize the ribbon through each and every new and changing layer is a path of joy and thankfulness.

Blueberry Lemon Scones
Recipe from Tyler Florence

Scones:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 T sugar
  • 5 T unsalted butter, cold, cut in chunks
  • 1 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing the scones
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Lemon Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 lemon, zest finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Sift together the dry ingredients; the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter to coat the pieces with the flour. (or use your food processor!) The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in the heavy cream. Fold everything together just to incorporate; do not overwork the dough. Fold the blueberries into the batter. Take care not to mash or bruise the blueberries because their strong color will bleed into the dough.

Press the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 12 by 3 by 1 1/4 inches. Cut the rectangle in 1/2 then cut the pieces in 1/2 again, giving you 4 (3-inch) squares. Cut the squares in 1/2 on a diagonal to give you the classic triangle shape. Place the scones on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with a little heavy cream. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until beautiful and brown. Let the scones cool a bit before you apply the glaze.

Mix the lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar together. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon zest and butter. Whisk the glaze to smooth out any lumps, then drizzle the glaze over the top of the scones. Let it set a minute before serving.

Images: sammyw

I’ve been trying to walk a few miles during the week, which is usually an easy feat for me when the weather is sunny, warm and nice. We don’t have many warm or hot days here in the city. There is usually a breeze of some kind and sometimes fog. So when the weather is warm, I am out walking around Golden Gate Park for hours. Soaking up the sun, sitting on the park benches and people watching or reading.

This week has been beautifully warm, so warm in fact that I was craving a cold drink. I blended up this smoothie one day after a long day at the park and it was cool, creamy and sweet.

Banana Berry Flax Smoothie
Recipe by me

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup frozen berries (I used blueberries, raspberries & blackberries)
  • 3 T yogurt (I used vanilla bean)
  • 1 T ground flax seed
  • 1/4-1/2 cup juice (I used cherry)

In a blender whip up all ingredients until smooth and creamy. May need to add more juice or water if the consistency is to thick.

Images: sammyw

Maybe it’s just me, stuffing Christmas lights into our Christmas box at the end of the year knowing next year I’m going to be sitting in front of a huge tangled mess makes me cringe. So as I was taking down our tree a couple weeks ago I found a great no tangle method via Martha:

Take a stand of lights:

Cut a rectangular piece of cardboard with a slit at the top and a slit at the bottom:

Beginning with one end, slide through the slit and begin to roll the strand of lights around the cardboard until you’ve reached the bottom, securing it with the slit below:

This actually takes up less room in our Christmas box than the wads of lights tangled lights in years past. Since space is an issue for us, I use a large clear box with wheels for our Christmas box which I store under our bed. It fits all our lights, stockings, ornaments, garland and other misc. Christmas decor.

Images: sammyw

And then just like that it’s over. Over are the twinkling lights, the boxes with pretty bows, the family snuggles. Gone just like that. We took down our Christmas tree this week, which always makes Isaac a little sentimental about the previous year. After hauling our six foot tree down two flights of stairs and sweeping up a huge trail of old brown pine needles, we snuggled on the couch and talked about the year behind us, the year ahead. To which we both squilled in excitement for the arrival of our daughter Paige in just a few short months:

I love the New Year, excited to clean, simplify, and purge. (Hence the new blog format. Don’t get used to it. It was a pull the trigger kinda move. It will probably continue to morph. I am not diggin’ the orange font color.) Add to the fact that this year I’m supposedly in a nesting phase, this apartment better watch out. As you know we live in a small 2 bedroom apartment in San Francisco. Recently I’ve been working on moving the office into our room to make room the baby. Each room we decided, will have to serve double duty, our room plus space for an office, and the baby room will also function as a guest room. This week also marked the first purchase for her room:

With the New Year comes the all familiar normalcy of the everyday. The routine of bills, piles of laundry, rainy walks, crowded bus rides and taking out the trash. Out with the glitz and glamour of Christmas parties with open bars and sequined dressed women, now to the sweet comfort of life. This return to normalcy brings with it simple weeknight dinners and even simpler breakfasts of cold cereal and juice.

Instead of  being creative about hunting down new recipes, I pulled this out from my recipe book and it was all very familiar. In a good worn in comfortable sweater kind of way. This crumb cake has become staple at our house and it does not disappoint. Eat it for breakfast with a big bowl of fruit or have it as a late afternoon snack with a cup of coffee. Or like me nibble a little crumb here or there throughout the day.

New York Crumb Cake
Recipe from Martha Stewart

  • 2 T canola oil, plus more for pan
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Heat oven to 325. Lightly brush a 9-by-12 1/2-inch baking pan with canola oil, dust with flour, and tap to remove excess. Set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a second bowl, whisk together egg, milk, canola oil, and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan, and set aside. (It will not seem like a lot of batter, but trust me it rises.) In a medium bowl, combine remaining 2 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Pour melted butter over flour mixture, and toss with a rubber spatula until large crumbs form. Sprinkle crumbs over batter.  Transfer pan to oven, and bake, rotating pan after 10 minutes. Continue baking until a cake tester comes out clean, about 10 minutes more.  Transfer baking pan to a wire rack to cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

Images: sammyw

Well the week is upon us. Christmas is almost here. I am spending the week, wrapping presents, addressing Christmas cards, packing and finishing up a couple homemade gifts. I am enjoying listening to endless hours of Christmas music, so much so that I reached my 40 hour monthly Pandora limit before the 15th hit. Yeah, I’ve gotta problem.

In other news, Isaac & I have been attending doctor appointments, seeing our little one bouncing all around the ultrasound screen is just the sweetest thing. We found out last week we’re having a girl, which we could not be more thrilled about. We have a dozen or so ultrasound photos that we stare at a couple times a day. We love her so much already!

Wish each and every one of you a wonderful joy filled Christmas and look forward to 2011!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir flour mixture into the butter sugar mixture. Stir in the oats, raisins and walnuts, if using them.  Scoop cookies onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes.

Images: sammyw

The other day I was watching America’s Test Kitchen on PBS and on air was their recipe for spaghetti and meatballs. I don’t know if I can blame it on a pregnancy craving or not but I tell you within 5 minutes of this show ending, I was lacing up my shoes, making a list and walking to the store for meatball ingredients. Isaac was out with a friend that morning, so I thought I’d surprise him with a hearty lunch when he returned.

I surprisingly had just about everything I needed in my kitchen with the exception of white bread, ground beef, ground pork and crushed tomatoes. A quick walk to our local grocery store, I was back and had this meal on the table in about an hour. I’ve only made spaghetti and meatballs a handful of times since we’ve been married and while scooping up the last of my meatball and twirling spaghetti on my fork I wondered why I don’t make it more often. It’s incredibly simple although does require a couple tedious steps (ie: rolling the meatballs one by one) but even that took about 5 minutes. To me this is comfort food. And oh my did it ever comfort us on the cool weekend.

I still am not sure if I’m ready to give the baby credit for this one, but if he/she did, they are a kid after my own heart already.

Spaghetti & Meatballs
Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

Meatballs:

  • 2 slices white sandwich bread, crust removed
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 pound (80% lean) ground beef
  • 1/4 pound ground pork (spicy Italian pork sausage would be wonderful as well)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 T fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Tomato Sauce:

  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes with basil
  • 3 T fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste

For the meatballs:

Combine bread and buttermilk in small bowl and let stand, mashing occasionally with fork, until smooth paste forms, about 10 minutes. Place ground meat, cheese, parsley, egg yolk, garlic, salt, and pepper to taste in medium bowl. Add bread-milk mixture and combine until evenly mixed. Shape 3 tablespoons of mixture into 1 1/2-inch-round meatball. You should be able to form about 12 – 14 meatballs. Pour olive oil into a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add meatballs in single layer. Fry, turning several times, until nicely browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Regulate heat as needed to keep oil sizzling but not smoking. Transfer browned meatballs to plate lined with paper towels and set aside.

For the sauce:

Meanwhile, discard oil in pan but leave behind any browned bits. Add olive oil for tomato sauce along with garlic and sauté over medium heat, scraping up browned bits, just until garlic is golden, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, bring to boil, and simmer gently until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir in basil and salt and pepper to taste. Add meatballs and simmer, turning them occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Keep warm over low flame.

In a separate pot, add pasta to boiling water. Cook until al dente, drain, and return to pot. Serve immediately with grated cheese on top and minced parsley.

Images: sammyw

We have had quite an eventful past couple of weeks. Isaac has been busy like crazy on a work deadline. To help the team at work celebrate meeting the accomplished deadline, I showed up Monday with these warm homemade cinnamon rolls to help begin the celebration. This is a tried and true recipe that has never failed me. Here’s the recipe.

Also, I had a midwife appointment where we heard our little one’s heartbeat for the first time. Best. Sound. Ever. We are both beyond thrilled and at 16 weeks along I am feeling great. Last week, I decorated our mantle and couldn’t help but think next Christmas there will be three stockings hanging from our fireplace. Can’t wait!

Images: sammyw