Friday, October 30, 2009

Leap of Faith

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!!! I think the best things in life happen when you take a leap of faith and enjoy the simple things.  I love this photo because it captures my friend Emmy so well; her easy going demeanor, carefree spirit and her love for life.  Take a 
leap of faith this weekend and enjoy the simple goodness life has to offer!! 

For all of you who sent in recipes for the Joie de Vivre contest... I have not forgotten about you. I will pick a winner next Friday because I did not foresee that this little contest, done right (meaning, cooking every recipe) would take as long as it has. However, the recipes I have made thus far have all been amazing and deciding a winner will be a little bit of challenge but I will... don't worry!!! Enjoy today, tomorrow and now!!! HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

*Emmy's photograph

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Homemade Caramel

I am attempting to make homemade Caramel this weekend for my all time favorite treat... Caramel Apples!! I found a mouth watering recipe yesterday and thought what the heck.. I will give it a whirl. Have any of you made your own caramel before? How did it go and do you have any tips?? I just couldn't pass up the gorgeous apples that have been staring me down at our local farmer's markets, and decided that... they needed to be put to use!! 

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Joie de Vivre recipe #2: Ashley's Creamy White Chili

The weather is getting colder and I have a perfect recipe for you to try: Creamy White Chili.  This is the second recipe in the Joie de Vivre contest and I want to share this little recipe with all of you. Ashley remembers her mom making this sweet dish when she was younger and she would literally run home from school in hopes her mom had made it. What I love... is that when Ashley made a switch to Vegetarian lifestyle she quickly adapted this dish to her new diet!! Creamy White Chili has been a staple in Ashley's winter meals and I hope to make it a staple in your kitchen!!!

 Make sure to grab a baguette or crusty loaf of bread for dipping (Ashley's favorite is Pugliese) and enjoy!!

Creamy White Chili
1 medium onion diced
4 cloves of garlic diced
2 tablespoons of cooking oil
8 cans of Northern Beans (rinsed and drained)
1 32oz carton of NO-Chicken broth (my favorite brand is Imagine, found at Trader Joe's or Whole foods (broth can also be substituted)
4 4oz cans of chopped green chilis
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
2 teaspoons of cumin
2 teaspoons of oregano
1/4 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
2 cups of sour cream
1 cup whipping cream

Saute the 1st three ingredients until onions are translucent.  Add all remaining ingredients EXCEPT sour cream and whipping cream
Simmer for 30 minutes
Remove from heat and add sour cream and whipping cream. Serve and Enjoy!! BON APPETIT!

Note: This is a pretty large batch ... If you want to make a smaller batch half the ingredients

photo taken by Ashley

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Take a Peek

Recently, as a surprise from my husband, I received a new camera!! For those of you that know me.. you know that my camera goes everywhere with me and I had been secretly hoping for a new camera. Over the weekend, I took my REBEL on a couple of adventures.. to local farmer's markets and then a family dinner in Sonoma. Take a peek at some of the photos I snapped... let me know what you think? And, do any of you have advice when working with a new camera?? Hope you are having a wonderful Tuesday!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I see London, I See France.. hmm I forgot the last part

Right now, the only thing I've been doing is studying for my French class. Learning a language at 26 is truly not a cake walk but, I do have a bit of an incentive for my hard work..... a trip to France in June!!!! Now, let me not forget to tell you that the last time I visited France I told my family that if my French does not improve by my next trip they might as well ignore me...harsh :)!! So, until my trip all I am doing is immersing myself in everything FRENCH!!! 

I hope everyone is having a lovely Sunday!!! Stay tuned for the second recipe in the Joie de Vivre recipe contest, it is something that will warm your soul on a chilly October day.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Joie de Vivre recipe #1 Karolyn's Eggplant Lasagna

I decided on this glorious Friday that instead of picking three recipes to choose a winner from that I am going to post about all the recipes that were submitted :)!!! Starting today and throughout next week I will be blogging about all the lovely recipes that were sent in.  Today, I will be kicking it off with Karolyn's Eggplant Lasagna

I made this recipe last Friday and it was the first recipe submitted. It actually came at the perfect time because I whipped up this little dish for my mom while visiting her. The recipe was simple, tasty and included so much simple goodness. I loved the fact that the recipe called for wine when making the sauce because after cooking the lasagna... the red wine was infused in every piece of eggplant!! This was the first recipe submitted and stay tuned for more... remember I will be picking one winner next FRIDAY, October 30th. 

Karolyn's Eggplant Lasagna Recipe
2 eggplants
2 small containers of tomato paste
2 eggs
bread crumbs with Italian Seasoning (I used 1 box but you could use 2)
small quantity of red wine, if desired (or if you want to just pour in the whole bottle... don't do that, but pour in some of the wine that you're drinking as you're cooking!!!)
freshly minced garlic
shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Slice eggplants into 1/2 inch rounds
2. whip up the eggs and dip the eggplant rounds into the eggs, covering both sides.  Then, dip the eggplant into dried bread crumbs with Italian Seasoning (to your liking) and cover all sides
3. Place eggplant piece on a sprayed/buttered/oiled cookie sheet.  Continue with all slices and place side by side
4. Cook for 15 minutes @ 350 ( the 15 minute intervals are great because this is a great time to get the salad prepared and start on some bread dipped in olive with minced garlic and parmesan cheese
5. After browning both sides for 15 minutes each, take the eggplant out.  Create a mix of 1 part tomato paste, 1 part water and (1/4 part red wine, is desired). Add fresh garlic, fresh basil  and salt to taste. * note dice up the basil nice and tiny and add to your liking the amount of salt and garlic you desire*
6. Cover the eggplant with the sauce
7.  Cover the eggplant with shredded mozzarella cheese (you can go crazy here, if desired!) and some shredded parmesan cheese
8. Place back in the oven for 30 minutes. Add more cheese or garlic if you'd like!
9. Let cool and serve

Notes: When I made this dish I loved that I was able to improvise and add as much red wine as I liked :), that the amount of salt, basil and garlic was something I could decide. This dish is perfect for a chilly fall afternoon and it will certainly leave you feeling warm and simply good inside!!!

Thanks to Karolyn for sharing!! BON APETIT!!

*pictures are of me while making Karolyn's dish

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Joie de Vivre...a little contest!!!

I am having a contest for all of my lovely followers and it involves something I love doing: cooking!! All of you brighten my day with your comments and support so, I wanted to create a contest especially for you!!! The prize will be an original necklace designed by my friend Liz (the necklace is featured above)!! Check out her Etsy Shop at The necklace itself is called JOIE de VIVRE which in french means the Joy of Living. 

Joie de Vivre Contest Details:
What is your favorite meal to cook? What dish do you love to make for friends, family or yourself? Email me your favorite recipe and I will pick 3 recipes from different followers that I will cook and post about over the next week. I will then pick 1 winner on October 30'th and they will receive the JOIE de VIVRE necklace!!! I am looking for recipes that are simple, that have a story, or a recipe that makes you happy!!! 

3 recipes will be chosen October 23 ... please submit your recipes and pictures   via email to me at

1 recipe will be chosen on October 30 and the winner will receive the JOIE de VIVRE necklace


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pancakes on a Rainy Day

Over the weekend, a group of us went hiking at Mount Tamalpais in Marin. The weather was crisp, cool and oh so fresh.  Our spirits were high knowing we were hiking to West Point Inn for a pancake breakfast. Let me just say that after an hour of hiking in crisp, cold weather there is nothing better than eating a pipping hot pancake. Today, I am craving one of those pancakes as I sit inside listening to the rain!! Hmm, maybe breakfast for dinner??!!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fall Picnics

Fall is the perfect time to bring out your picnic basket and pack it to the brim with yummy delights. If you have some free time this weekend, pack yourself a picnic lunch and enjoy the crisp autumn air. Here are some things I love to pack in my picnic basket:

Fromage (cheese) of any kind
a yummy sparkling beverage
Pate (it may scare some at first, but a thin layer on a slice of baguette with some cheese is magical)
a homemade sweet
grapes, dried figs, a crisp apple

Keep it simple and enjoy eating outside with someone you love!!! I hope your weekend is a.. picnic in the park!!! Bisous, Bisous!!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Oh, Gelato

My friend sent me these pictures and immediately my mouth started to water. Gelato in Europe pretty much blows the Gelato we have here out of the water. There would be days while traveling in France that I would have Gelato at least two or three times a day. These mouth watering pictures were taken in Cannes, France by my friend Nancy, who recently got back from traveling Europe. What is your favorite flavor of Gelato? I love mixing Coconut with Lemon, yummy!! Friday is almost here and I am busy thinking.. Oh, Gelato!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

wine label

I am loving this wine label from a winery I toured with my family this weekend.  More to come on the winery itself!!  At the time, the winery was doing a private job for another winery, so we were able to see them distribute labels right smack onto the wine bottle. I am not going to lie that until my palette and taste buds become experts at tasting wine; I will go on picking my wine by the label!! :) How do you pick your wine? Can you taste dark chocolate tones, cherry, leather or stones (yes, stones.. that was a description)? Regardless, after a long day there is nothing like a good book, and a glass of wine!! Enjoy your Wednesday!!! xo

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I am in need of a Nutella Crepe this morning. In Paris the crepes are fluffy, soft and INCREDIBLE. 
What are you in need of this morning?
 I think my way to embrace the colder weather is like a Bear:
I am trying to eat yummy things before I go and hibernate for the winter!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Lovely Monday Morning

I am craving a breakfast like the picture above this lovely Monday Morning..mmm!!! I can't believe how quickly the weekend went by. I have some great things to chat about this week but you will all have to wait and see. What did everyone do over the weekend?? My weekend was pretty exciting and it started off when I found out I will officially be a Banana Slug, and the excitement carried over by celebrating at a wonderful dinner with friends at OPA.. a yummy Greek restaurant. Here are some more highlights from the weekend:

another bike ride
coffee with friends
lunch at a tasty cheese house
looking for places to live because: we are moving
a birthday celebration for my mom in the Napa Valley
Touring Mi Sueno.. more to come on that
dinner with family friends

I hope everyone has a lovely Monday and snap a photo for me if you plan to feast your tummy on French Toast like the picture above :)!!!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Gourmet Pops

Did any of you make popsicles when you were a kid?? I remember making popsicles with fresh juice and anticipating tasty homemade pops. While at the Davis Farmer's Market, I stumbled upon a Gourmet Popsicle stand. Some of the flavors included: strawberry lemonade ( which I had.. amazing), Arnold Palmer, Grape Champagne and many others.  At a time when frozen yogurt places are popping up on every corner I must say I love the idea of trying something new  and not following a trend. If you get a chance, stop by the POPS stand at the Davis Farmer's Market and feast your tummy on a GOURMET POP. I recommend the strawberry lemonade!!!! What are your thoughts on Popsicles and what are your favorite flavors??