Back to School

There’s nothing like the first day of school. The smell of new pencils, the crisp autumn air, the nervous feeling in your stomach that wakes you hours before the alarm clock is supposed to go out.

Monday was my last “first” day of school ever.

It’s bittersweet and as I am now a senior in college, in California no less, there were no new pencils, the air was much more summer than autumn and my first class wasn’t until 6 p.m. But despite 17 first days of school, I still had those first day butterflies that woke me well before my alarm. After this many years of school you’d think I’d be sick of it all but I really love the excitement a new class brings, the smell of new textbooks and the joy of buying all new notepads and notebooks for the many to-do lists (which are already mounting). In honor of the first day of school I’ve compiled a list of fun school supplies that I would love to fill my backpack with. 

1. adorable DIY map magnets found here
2.  glitter pencils
3. LOVE bookends from Pottery Barn
4. hot pink laptop case from Marc Jacobs
5. fruit shaped notepads
6.  Hubman from Pottery Barn

Fun note about DIY magnets. When my sisters and I were younger, we used to have a pre-back-to-school day every year. On the last day of summer we’d set up a spa day filled with manicures and facial masks made of avocados from recipes pulled from Seventeen Magazine. We’d pick out outfits for the first week and sneak in some last-minute tanning by the pool. But the most fun? Making magnets to fill our new lockers. We’d buy sheets of magnet paper and pull out all the magazines and cut away. We created our own, more exciting, magnetic poetry with words like “boy crazy” and “girl power” and utilized our large sticker collection to ensure our lockers would be plentiful with colorful, sparkly magnets.

While I have no desire to repeat the days of middle school, I would love to hop back in time and have a leisurely spa day with my sisters filled with arts and crafts before the loads of homework sets in for the school year. Perhaps now that we’re older it could include some of these alongside our avocado facials…


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Lemon Sorbet

Hello blog friends!! I’m so sorry for my lack of posting. I have been living, breathing sorority recruitment for the past week or so. Basically that means I have been spending my days singing, dancing and conversing till my voice is a thing of the past. But luckily sharing this post with you doesn’t require the voice from my mouth but instead the one that flows from my fingers. To help soothe my sad poor throat I came across this lemon sorbet recipe.

I love love love lemons. Like I eat them like normal people eat orange slices. (Yes I’m well aware this is bad for my teeth). And so when I saw that I could make lemon sorbet without an ice cream maker I jumped on the chance. Now I will admit this would have been quicker and easier with an ice cream maker, but hey a girl’s got to work with what she’s got.

Lemon Mint Sorbet 
Adapted from Kitchenography 

1 cup lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
lemon zest

How-To:

So with so few ingredients, you guessed it, this recipe is pretty simple. It just takes a little patience and LOTS of lemons.

First of put a 8 or 9 inch pan in the freezer. For best results use metal but I only had glass on hand. Then it’s time to make your simple syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.

Then reduce the heat and let it simmer until all the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat an allow it to cool. About 15 minutes or so.

In the meantime, start juicing your lemons. Now if you’re cool, and have a juicer, your hands are going to be  a lot happier with you than mine were with me. Look at all those lemons…Yeah, I was about ready to give up until I came up with a little side recipe…see him chilling in the corner… you’ll have to check back soon for that recipe.So back to the lemon sorbet. After you’ve juiced all the lemons in the world (or so it seemed) add the juice, simple syrup and lemon zest to your chilled pan. Pop it in the freezer. The recipe said to check back in an hour to stir but even after three hours mine was still all liquid. It took about 8 hours total. That was a loooong wait.

But well worth it.When it’s frozen, use a fork to scrap it until you’ve got a pan of icy lemon crumbles. Spoon into a chilled bowl as it melts faster than regular ice cream/sorbet. 
I added some fresh mint because really lemon and mint are just perfect for each other. Then I enjoyed a bowl or two (or three…hey it was all to help my throat get better…) Now with a soothed throat I’m off for more singing!

Happy Thoughts


 {Isn’t he the cutest!}

It’s that time of year again – back to school! This week has been a blur of packing and saying goodbye to family and friends as I head back to LA for my last semester of college ever! (Where did it go??!) I squeezed in some quality time with my little Oliver (the fantastically cute puppy above!), visited some of the last restaurants on my must-list and packed waay too many clothes. I also bought myself a new camera for my birthday so please bear with me as a get a hang of it and as I play around with all its fun settings! A busy week full of fun, here’s a look at the things that made me smile.

{Bailey’s Chocolate Bar – chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate!}{a stack of vintage bracelets that I picked up at Retro 101 on Cherokee Street}{Retro 101 – fantastic vintage store that I discovered}{the scallop in a jar dish from Salt was sublime}

Beer and Wine, Wine and Beer

Ah. The Great Debate. Beer verses Wine.

Whichever one you choose says a lot about your character…or so they say. But what if you love both? Well I do and I don’t think I could ever choose between my two loves. Some nights you’re just looking for a great wine, to sit around with your girlfriends and gossip or to pair along with a wonderful Italian meal. And other nights you’re looking for a great ice-cold beer, at a barbecue (or really any outdoorsy event) or at a baseball game.

On my last Saturday night in St. Louis there were two more places to check off my summer to do list. Vino Nadoz, a new wine bar that opened earlier this summer next to Nadoz on the Boulevard and Urban Chestnut Brewery, which my sister B raved about and was actually just featured in this month’s Food and Wine magazine. Yay, St. Louis!

So we headed to Vino Nadoz first. We ordered a bottle of rose to start. It was so yummy. Cold and crisp and perfect for the hot summer evening.


{Charles and Charles Syrah Rose from Columbia Washington}

The bar itself is cute. Chalk boards let you know what’s on the menu and the black and white color scheme of the bar is very modern. unfortunately it wasn’t very crowded but it’s still new so hopefully it will pick up. We ordered a couple of items on the menu including the ahi tuna, steak and egg cesear salad and for dessert, an INCREDIBLE nuttella and strawberry crepe. It was smothered in butter and soo decadent.

Now I chose the wine bar, but my date, A, is more of a beer drinker, so to satisfy both of our drinking styles, I took him to Urban Chestnut Brewery.

The brewery is in a bit of a shadier area of St. Louis but the inside of the bar felt homey and very hip. A guitarist was playing music in the corner and the unassuming wooden tables were spread out in a fashion that was good for mingling. We parked our selves at the bar so we could read the beer menu and chat with the bartenders about what each of the beers were like.

What’s unique about Urban Chestnut versus other craft breweries in the city is that in addition to the modern American craft beers they also brew classic, timeless European beers. They call it Beer Divergence, revolution combined with reverence.

I ordered the Wasandis – part of the Revolution series, an unfiltered pilsner with lots of hops and served in a big ceramic beer stein. Yum.

And to be perfectly honest I cannot really remember what A ordered. I know his first one was dark beer, sort of chocolately in taste. His second…well I simply don’t remember. But I know it was tasty because everything we tried was great. And the bartenders were awesome. There are a lot of numbers and abbreviations on the menu that tell you the alcohol content, IBUs, OGs…lots of chemistry terms. But they were excited to explain all of it to us.

So which are you, a beer guzzler or a wino? Either one, you’ll be happy at either of these great, locally-owned bars. Cheers!

Goat Cheese and Tomato “Pie”

I’m going to be blunt about this. I LOVE goat cheese. You could say I’m obsessed with it. Its creamy texture and sweetness goes well with just about anything. When I was in Paris earlier this summer I was introduced to some of the best goat cheese (excuse me…chevre) that I’ve ever tasted. So when I came across this recipe I knew I had to try it. Even though it contained tomatoes which I generally hate…

Let me segway and explain my tomato-issue. Tomatoes by themselves are repulsive to me. I think their taste taints anything they touch (sandwiches, salads). BUT I don’t mind, and usually like, anything that utilizes a tomato.

Salsa? LOVE. Ketchup? Awesome. Bruschetta? So tasty.

I’ll even allow them in my pastas now and then if they are roasted beyond recognition. So, as long as the tomato taste is hidden by something delicious like garlic or jalapeno, than I am totally fine with the fruit/vegetable (really, what is it??) Ok that’s enough of that…back to this “pie.”

Goat Cheese and Tomato “Pie”
Adapted from Sauce Magazine

Ingredients:

  • Pie crust – I used a frozen Pillsbury pie crust despite the recipe calling for a savory one…no idea what that meant
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
  • 6 oz crumbled goat cheese
  •  1 roma tomato, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper
How-to:
 Now the beginning of this depends on your pie crust. I just used a frozen, almost ready pie crust. If you use fresh pie crust then see the directions here. Otherwise join in my laziness. Preheat the oven to 400 (check your pie crust instructions) and cook the pie crust for about 7 minutes (again check your specific crust’s directions).
{fun fact? Fennel is also known as Anise…who knew!}
While you’re crust is cooking, start working on the fennel. Now this was my first time using fennel. I knew it was kind of like an onion but wasn’t really sure, so I was pretty surprised at the grocery store when the produce guy pointed to this crazy fuzzy green thing with a bulb on the end. The bulb looked huge so I got one. But if it’s smaller go with two. I had to look up how to go about dissecting the thing. Here’s how. If you know, then cut the fennel into thin slices. Heat up the oil olive and saute the fennel for about 10 minutes, or until carmalized.
Fennel’s really interesting, it has an extremely strong black licorice smell which I’ve heard many times on cooking channels, but I had never actually experienced it. Black licorice is also something I hate (red although, is totally delicious) and so while I was slicing the fennel I was getting really nervous that the pie’s goat cheese would not prevail over two ingredients that make me wince in the taste department. But after cooking the fennel down, it had a much earthier and pleasant aroma.
Layer the fennel on the bottom of the pie crust. Top with the goat cheese and then layer the tomatoes on top. Now if you actually like tomatoes, feel free to do a nice thick layer. I used mine very sparingly but normal people probably wouldn’t. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle oil olive on top.
Bake for 7 minutes. Serve! Mine sadly crumbled, but it tasted just as good! The tomatoes were roasted and coated in olive oil and the creamy goat cheese with the crunchy fennel were such an incredible combination. A very savory treat. And very informative! I learned about fennel and am one step closer to abolishing my feelings of hate towards tomatoes…baby steps.
{crumbly goodness}
Funny story. My dad used to hate tomatoes too (genetic?). But when he was growing up his mom (my grandma…obviously) used to give him a dollar for every tomato he ate. Eventually he grew to love them! So maybe if someone gave me an incentive like money, than I would start to enjoy them. But let’s be real. There’s a thing called inflation and it would take at least 10 dollars before I took a bite of a plain ole’ tomato. Maybe 20…
{I will admit they are very pretty…}

Fresh Peach Margaritas

Patience is a virtue…or so they say. I told you if you were patient I would share the recipe from those yummy birthday margaritas and tada! Here we go!

The best part of these bad boys are the fresh peaches. No need for sugary mix, the freshness of the frozen peaches make it perfectly sweet – with just nature’s goodness.

Fresh Peach Margaritas
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
3 cups frozen peaches, chopped and peeled
1 cup tequila
1/2 cup peach schnapps
1/4 cup triple sec
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
2 cups ice

How-To:

First off, peel up those peaches. This is the perfect way to use up the big basket of peaches you picked up at the Farmer’s Market. I love peaches, really, LOVE them, but those baskets hold like 20 peaches and no one can eat that many peaches before they go soggy and gross…so turn them into margaritas! It still counts as a serving of fruit (I think…)

Freeze those peaches for about 30 minutes. And in the mean time juice up those limes. It’ll take about 3.

 

{helloooo friends!}

In a blender, add the frozen peaches, tequila, peach schnapps, triple sec, lime juice and ice.

Blend until smooth! Simple as pie. (Never did understand that phrase…pies are pretty tricky. But this recipe? Simple as…cereal? Yup cereals easy.) You may need to add more ice if they aren’t slushy enough. It depends on how frozen your peaches are,

Swipe a lime slice around the rim of your margarita glass and dip it in sugar. Pour it full with margarita and drink the day away! Preferably by a pool…

Birthday Bites

Everyone knows that on your birthday, every thing you eat is magically calorie free. So as yesterday was that special day, I took full advantage and stuffed myself silly with lots of yummy treats. Starting the day off with these…

Yes, those are cake pops and yes, they were DELICIOUS. My mom surprised me with a big box filled with them. There were cookies and cream, cookie dough, birthday cake and red velvet. They are from this company called Pauli Pops and the guy who runs it is a friend of my moms – he is crazy talented. He can even make little bity wedding cakes – ON A STICK. I mean, come on, everything is cuter on a stick.

And yummier. These cake pops were almost more like cake BATTER pops.

Not fully cooked, doughy goodness. Plus they were pink! My favorite color. I thought it was a great way to start the birthday.

Then along came these bad boys. Puffy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. I told my sister that I wanted these cookies as a present when I saw them here the other day. And being the best sister that she is, she whipped up a batch just for me. (Don’t worry I shared some with her) Oh man. They were so good.

Crunchy but still doughy in the center. And they were made out of the perfect marriage: peanut butter and chocolate. Is there really any better combination? (I say that mint and chocolate are a close second, but many don’t agree).

Add a mug full of cold skim milk and we’ve got ourselves a pretty awesome birthday present.

BUT WAIT. A birthday isn’t complete with out some tasty libations. Say hello to fresh peach margaritas! (They say hello to you too…depending on how many you have.)

This is just a quick teaser of these beauties. Check back in a day or two and get the full dets about how to make these tasty margaritas.

And for future birthday bites (more likely every other day besides birthday bites), my once again fabulous sister got me this cook book.

I’m dying to try the quinoa-stuffed poblano peppers with tomatillo sauce…yum. But that is for a day when calories do count because I wasn’t about to waste the birthday magic on anything that does not contain serious amounts of chocolate, sugar or cream sauce (yes I really splurged and got my all time guilty pleasure – pasta con broccoli – for dinner from my favorite Italian restaurant).  But alas, the day is over and to compensate I think I will only eat vegetables for the next week.

But wait…there are more cake pops in the fridge…Houston we have a problem.

Blues City Deli

 {A St. Louis favorite}

After working at ALIVE for the past couple of months (today is my last day! Ah!), I finally made my way down the street to one of St. Louis’ best delis after work the other day. Blues City Deli, at the corner of McNair and Victor, is consistently voted Best Deli each year by local publications. And just a hop skip and a jump from the office I knew it was time to give it a try. The menu had so many great looking sandwiches, but I opted to go for the one named after the area. The Benton Park Po’Boy. I figured I couldn’t go wrong with a good Po’Boy.


{perfect, that’s exactly what I was looking for}

While waiting for my sandwich I took a quick peak around the Benton Park staple. The walls are lined to the ceiling with posters, signs and memorabilia. And the customers were all smiles as they took big bites into their sandwiches of choice.

I got my sandwich to go but couldn’t help but take a quick bite before driving the 20 minutes home. Wow was that a good sneak preview. I couldn’t drive fast enough to finish it off. Stuffed to the brim with oven roasted turkey, top round roast beef, smoked ham, provel cheese (it’s not a St. Louis original without it), lettuce, pickle, onion and peppercinis. And the sauce, wow, a mayonnaise-y sweet red pepper sauce that was definitely more spicy than sweet. And to make it even better, (and maybe a little healthier?) a crunchy but soft wheat baguette.

All and all it was the perfect lunch after a long day of work, and I can see why the line is always winding out the door during the busy lunch hour.

I would go back today for lunch on my last of work day, but I think out of celebration for my birthday I’ll opt for a sweet treat from Bittersweet Bakery…hey, when it’s your birthday, calories don’t count! (Even if it’s the day before…) Heck my birthdays last a full week, sometimes more. So be prepared for multiple birthday posts!

Happy Thoughts

The heat is overwhelming here in St. Louis. But despite constantly being drenched in sweat (yes, I know, lovely image), there are still plenty of sights and tastes that are bringing me happiness in this never-ending heat wave. Here’s a peak at a few…

{the perfect latte on a perfect Sunday morning at Half & Half in Clayton}

{local Missouri farm grown eggplants – I’ve never seen stripped eggplants! So pretty!}

    

   
{these incredible sky photos taken by Eric Cahan, discovered here}


{the crackberry martini at Mango – made with fresh muddled strawberries and cracked black pepper}


{these gorgeous Steve Madden color block pumps I’m lusting after}