Pasta with Brie, Mushroom, and Arugula

Posted in Food by mcarmen5 on 10/05/2010

I’ve had the idea to make a pasta with brie and arugula for the longest time but never actually got around to doing it.  When I realized that it was getting late and dinner was on me, this quick recipe immediately came to mind.  It’s creamy, flavorful and absolutely easy to make!  I love Brie and arugula, so this is pretty much the perfect dish for me.  Instead of white wine, I subbed in chicken broth and a dash of apple cider vinegar and it tasted great!  I also tossed in bits of turkey bacon, but I think pancetta would be awesome next time.  Make sure to time it so that you’re ready to toss the pasta and sliced brie immediately — you want it to be piping hot for easier melting.  I’ve included more tips and some optional ideas below.  Buon appetito!

– Make sure the pasta is piping hot when you toss it with the brie
– Slice brie 1/2″ instead of the 1″ described in the recipe
– White wine substitutes include chicken broth, apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar and even vermouth!

More ideas:
– Include meat options for the carnivorous or if you want some protein: pancetta and turkey bacon or just plain bacon cut into small pieces
– Sliced portabella make for a smokier, meatier option if you don’t want meat or if you’d like more flavor
– Cooked peas add color and texture

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French Apple Tart

Posted in Food, Living by mcarmen5 on 10/04/2010

Just as I was about to mope about the seasonal end of some of my favorite summer fruits, I was quickly reminded that fall is also ripe with plenty of other favorites.  Thinking about fall’s culinary choices got me very excited!  To me, the arrival of fall also means the delectable arrival of crisp apples, buttery squash, smokey mushrooms and hardy and hearty greens.  I decided to welcome the new season by making a rustic French apple tart — my very first!  The tart only required four Granny Smith apples and the tartness was balanced by a ginger-infused raspberry preserve glaze.  This little tart was devoured in minutes, but it actually took a lot of work to make!

Trust me, while I love food and love to eat, I’m not a superbly skilled cook by any means.  I’ve never made pastry dough from scratch all by myself — I’m usually the sous-chef and “executive” taster for my more talented friends — so the fact that I didn’t screw up the dough made me happy, and when the pastry crust came out buttery and perfectly flaky, I was through the roof!  Yep, safe to say I’m pretty pleased with myself right now ;)

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Okra and Tomatoes

Posted in Food by mcarmen5 on 10/03/2010

Grandma mentioned the other day that she’s always wanted to try okra, but her inexperience with cooking it was her biggest hesitation.  When I heard this I immediately grabbed a bag.  No hesitation — we were going for it!  Seeing as this was her first time having it and my very first time preparing it, I wanted to be sure that it was done right.  I love Paula Deen and opted for her recipe, adopted from her restaurant, The Lady and Sons in Savannah, Georgia.  Happily, gram loved it and is now determined to incorporate okra in her cooking.   Okra is so nutritious and delicious and surprisingly easy to prepare.   I absolutely can’t wait to make it again.  October is the last month of its natural season, so be sure to give it a try while it’s still fresh!

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Sweetest Goodbye

Posted in Food by mcarmen5 on 10/02/2010

Though we were already deep into September, San Francisco was blessed with a week of gorgeous, warm weather when our annual Indian summer rolled in like clockwork.  I tried to catch the last of the remaining summer bounty to celebrate summer one last time.  Inspired by the quarter of sweet watermelon left in the fridge, I planned a dinner menu around it and with what was already on hand (I felt so proud of myself!).  And though I only needed to grab a few more things from the farmer’s market down the hill, the beautiful weather made the venture all the more enjoyable.  I lingered and savored the summer “send-off” meal — easy, relaxed and of course, delicious!  I love you, Summer.

{watermelon salad with feta and chopped vegetables}

{homemade pizza with heirloom tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, etc}

{white wine sangria}

Autumn Copper

Posted in Beauty, Style by mcarmen5 on 10/01/2010

Hello, world!

It’s been so long since I’ve touched my blog, but I’m so thrilled to be back.  I can’t say yet that I’ll be able to write as frequently as I’d like — today marks the first day of my last week before the LSAT exam — but I’m happy that I get to today.

I can’t exactly pinpoint when and where my love for nail polish (and let’s just say it, all beauty products) began, but I’m still irrevocably in love and my heart quickens every time I see a beautiful color.  I like to add new colors every fall and this year was no exception.  My two favorites this season are China Glaze’s Ingrid (Vintage Vixen collection) and OPI’s Lucerne-tainly Look Marvelous (Swiss Collection).  Both are so much fun to wear and each have an element of surprise to them.

Today, I’m swatching Ingrid — a color I like, with a name I adore even more because it reminds me of Casablanca, one of my all-time favorite movies.  Some call Ingrid a “greige” and those a bit disappointed simply refer to it as “brown.”  I think it’s a gorgeous muddy copper-greige that’s a bit of a chameleon and perfect for autumn.  It’s warm and there are green and pink micro-glitters that come out as more “coppery” gold when the light strikes.  It makes studying a bit more fun :)

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Read: The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Posted in Food, Living by mcarmen5 on 05/19/2010

{The Omnivore’s Dilemma, 2007, Michael Pollan}

For someone who is a foodie, I admit that I knew embarrassingly little about the food I ate — like, where it came from and what’s in it.

Outside of media bites and familiarity with buzz words like “free range” and “organic,” I realize now how little I understood about our agricultural system.  I literally had no real conception of the process from farm to table.

Michael Pollan’s The Ominvore’s Dilemma was my first exposure on the food subject outside of cliche or trite media bites and brief program segments on the subject.   I read it a few years ago and have been recommending it wholeheartedly since.  It has seriously changed the way I approach food in all its forms — growing, procuring, eating and preparing; it has changed the way I see food.

I highly recommend it.  One fun thing from the book that has stuck with me is the layout of the standard grocery store — the whole or “good” foods tend to be on the periphery and we are usually directed through aisles of processed foods to get from one end to the other.  The most important change I’ve noticed however, is in how I read ingredient labels — something that I feel is so enlightening that I could tell everyone about why it matters.

If you’ve ever wondered where our food comes from, what’s in it and why it matters, or even just what we should have for a meal and the evolution of what makes a “meal,” then I definitely recommend you give this book a read.

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Sex and the City 2: The Best Trailer Yet

Posted in Entertainment by mcarmen5 on 05/18/2010

Like any SATC groupie, I’m excited for Sex and the City 2.  I loved the show and enjoyed the first movie despite some of its flaws.   While my girlfriends and I tried our best to restrain ourselves and behave for the first movie (Okay, we were a teensy-bit squeal-y and plenty tipsy), we’re planning to make an event of it this time around — because, why not?

While I can sense the eyes of millions of American men rolling themselves dry during the first preview, no one quite captures the exasperated sentiment as perfectly as Brian Donovan of True/Slant.com.  You can see for yourself here.  I laughed so hard I nearly fell off my chair!  In fact, I’m still giggling a little at the thought of it.  I’m sure boyfriends/husbands all over would prefer to watch the Brian Donovan version any day.

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Strawberry Swing

Posted in Food by mcarmen5 on 05/15/2010


{fresh strawberries & vanilla-honey yogurt}

May is perhaps one of my favorite months of the year.  The flowers are blooming, the weather is lovely, and ripe summer fruit is just right around the corner.

I love fruit, and hardly ever go a day without at least a piece of it.  Summer fruit, in particular, are always highly anticipated because they remind me of childhood summers.  My Mom and I would go fruit-picking and the car rides home were always delicious.  I really enjoyed those road trips out of the city and into the peaceful farmlands of the California Valley,  and I can think of few things better than a perfect peach, ruby red raspberries or sweet, juicy watermelon.

Though it’s still a bit early in the season, these cute strawberries were too irresistible to pass up at the market today.  They are petite but they pack a punch in flavor — unlike some of the giant, tasteless steroidal strawberries we so often see today (mostly seen out of season).  This is how a strawberry is supposed to look, people!

This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy a sweet snack when the craving hits.  It’s simple, healthful and delicious.  Now, off to watch Sherlock Holmes on DVD — love Robert Downey Jr.!

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Puppy Love

Posted in Musings by mcarmen5 on 04/06/2010


Taking a brief hiatus… be back soon!

And yes, that is my beloved pup :)

I Dream of India

Posted in Living, Style by mcarmen5 on 03/06/2010

Although I’m usually a simple, all-white bedding kind of girl, I couldn’t help but gravitate towards these beautiful prints from John Robshaw.   I absolutely adore prints and color, but I’m often too commitment-phobic and worried about mismatching patterns to ever take the plunge.

All that changed when I stumbled across John Robshaw’s textiles.  I’m now obsessed!  His textiles are vivid and the patterns have a kind of laid-back luxury and rustic appeal that I love.   John was inspired by his travels through Asia and studying firsthand how local artisans crafted quality textiles with beautiful patterns the traditional way, as generations before have.

I can already see these gorgeous pillows on my bed…. Warmer weather and sweet afternoon naps beckon.  Hope you’re savoring the weekend… relax and indulge in some delicious eye-candy:

[via realsimple.com]

{Images via johnrobshaw.com}