Crestwood, revisited

I used to only hit up Crestwood, a small Southwest suburb of St. Louis, for Monkey Joe’s (if you don’t know what that is, then I will spare you the description). But lately, I’ve been visiting the area for two new favorite haunts. If you are local, read on…

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The first, Yolklore. The breakfast/lunch spot that, as the name would lead you to conclude, believes an egg atop makes any meal better. I couldn’t agree more. Despite being in a strip mall, the space is cute and trendy, with a lot of attention to detail. Their custom designed insignia adorns everything from the bathroom wallpaper, to the menus, to the paraphernalia for sale by the counter.  It’s open from 6 am -2 pm seven days a week, so plan accordingly and go for breakfast or lunch. I got the Nest Egg, which is a buttery biscuit hollowed out and filled with eggs, bacon, pickled red onions and preserved lemon. It was so yummy. There is also a great kids menu, which for most of you reading this blog, is a plus!

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While you’re in the area, scoot down Watson and visit MoModerne. They specialize in MCM furniture and decor. Last time I was there I saw some cool rattan chairs, a beautiful Saarinen tulip table, a lucite Hollywood Regency style bench and brass Sputnick chandelier that I loved…now if only I had room in my house.

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mom juice

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This is not a DIY blog, I don’t pretend to be crafty or handy in any way. Which is why last weekend when it was my job to bring a cocktail to a family dinner, I filled up a tupperware to transport my beverage and once there, spooned the drink out with a measuring cup. It was a sticky mess. But how to transport a summer drink? My pitcher spills en route, my thermos isn’t big enough. Well, look no further than new Insta friend, Abbey Eilermann  who taught me, via her blog (www.thedailydisco.com), about the grown up Capri Sun. Buy these convenient resealable stand up bags on Amazon, add a fun straw and slurp away. I put mine in the freezer, then transported them to the lake in a cooler. The only negative: if you have kids, they do get a bit confused. You’ll probably have to swat away some little hands.

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And, of course, here’s what I recommend putting into your Adult Capri Sun:

1-1/2 ounce white rum
1 ounce grape juice
1 ounce passion fruit syrup
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice

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Matcha do about matcha

Pretty sure if you have a pulse you’ve heard of matcha- the Japanese tea staple that comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. It’s picked, steamed and stemmed before being ground into a very fine powder. Matcha is the health food du jour that supposedly boosts memory, increases endurance, improves cholesterol, enhances calm, and is packed with antioxidants. It’s like green tea…. on matcha.

I’ve been a fan of matcha in my lattes for a while now, but last week while at a coffee shop in Tribeca, I upped my matcha game and ordered a matcha detox ball. And well, it was actually good (not like french fry good, but good by health food standards). Never heard of a matcha ball? Neither had I. So when I made it back to St. Louis, I tried to recreate the recipe with the help of Google. What you have below is bits and pieces of a few different recipes, mainly edited to limit ingredients and make my life easier (i.e. some called for both chia and hemp seeds, but since I only had hemp in my pantry, that’s what I put in). If I had to do it over again, I’d add less coconut oil because mine were kind of greasy.

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cakes by the ocean

Have you guys ever made mug cakes? Sorry if I’m late to this party, but I was recently enlightened and thought you might be curious too, especially if you have kids.  Mug cakes are essentially a mini cake, that you make in a mug, then microwave. The whole thing saves you lots of messy clean up, is easier than a traditional cake, and my kids love, LOVE making them. The only thing you sacrifice is taste (I realize this is a minor problem).  Technically, it’s not so much taste that you’re sacrificing as it is texture. I can never manage to get the cooking time right for our microwave, so my mug cakes always ended up dry. But I think with some experimenting you could master the baking time. It’s a game of seconds…literally.

Despite the subpar texture,  I’ve made these things again and again. Most recently,  we tried the Melt-in-the-Middle variety for dessert in Florida, hence, cakes by the ocean. Below is the recipe we tried, and here is the cookbook we own that has a ton of other recipes in it. I think it would make a great kids birthday present…a few fun mugs and the Mug Cake cookbook, am I right?

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Now These, you’ve got to try

I made these ice cream sandwiches to take to a friends house for dinner last weekend. They are sooo easy (5 ingredients and only 2 dishes to clean), yummy and look like you slaved all day over them. Here’s how it goes:

Melt 1 stick butter.
Pour 1 box yellow cake mix over the butter.
Add 2 packets instant maple/brown sugar oatmeal.
Add 2 eggs.
Beat ~1 minute with mixer or until creamy.
Add 3/4 bag mini semi-sweet chocolate chip morsels and stir.

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Bake on lined cookie sheet at 350 for 10 minutes. (I recommend you under-cook even if you like crispy cookies. It makes them easier to eat as ice cream sandwiches.)

Once cool, scoop vanilla ice cream onto one cookie. Place another on top and squish down gently. Roll sides in the remaining chocolate chips and refreeze.

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Meal in a Box

My neighbor is a meal kit subscriber and a strict adherer to born on dates. If she doesn’t have a chance to make her meals by their recommended date, she knows that my house eats anything, born on dates be damned. And that is exactly how I came to try out the meal service delivery company, Blue Apron. For $70/week, you get two meals delivered to your house. They ship all the raw ingredients, you are just on the hook to assemble and cook. That $70 option serves a family of four, but once on their sight you can adjust the number of meals per week and serving size.

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The meats come vacuum sealed and frozen; the ingredients, neatly measured and packed. One stalk celery, 1/4 cup butter, a tablespoon of capers…all right sized for your recipe. (Elimination of food waste is one of the company’s major selling points. They aim for only 3% food waste compared to 40% for the average supermarket buy.)

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J-e-l-l-o

Ten years ago at my wedding, we served “gelee” shots. A refined gals Jello shot, if you will. Gin, tonic and gelatin, the recipe was hot off the press at Bon Appetite when my mom read about them and convinced our caterer to try to recreate them en mass.  Sliced in a square and served on a lime, they were passed like an appetizer on a tray and a hit with our guests. Since then, jello/gelee shots have kind of been my thing…below are a few of my favorite recipes. But don’t serve these in a plastic cup- to up your jello shot game, invest in a small round cookie cutter and add a garnish.

(You can technically add gelatin to any of your favorite cocktails, so get a little creative. A tequila sunrise – one layer tequila and orange juice another layer grenadine. Or my winter favorite- a manhattan with a cherry suspended in it. Whatever you create, just use the rule of thumb that for every 1/4 ounce gelatin packet you use, you can add approx. 8 ounces of liquid.)

Cosmopolitan Jello Shots:
1 box cranberry jello
1/2 cup vodka
1/2 cup cointreau or triple sec
splash of lime juice

Dissolve Jello in 1 cup boiling water. Remove from heat and add vodka, liquor and juice. Stir and pour into a 9×9 pan. Chill 3-4 hours or until set.  Cut into squares and sprinkle with lemon zest.

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Image Courtesy http://www.tablespoon.com

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Move over, meatless monday

I’ve found that it’s a lot easier to cook in the winter than to dress in cute outfits (or at least find someone willing to photograph them), so you’re getting a recipe.  This has been in our rotation ever since we were briefly a gluten free family last year (5 days to be exact). It’s stayed in the lineup because it’s so easy and my kids eat it.

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Ingredients:

8 chicken thighs (you can sub for other cuts but I’d recommend bone in and skin)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, whole
5 cloves garlic, diced
2 15.5-oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
fresh thyme and oregano – a few sprigs of each
3 tbls. olive oil
sea salt and pepper

Add tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, thyme, oregano and cannellini beans to a 9×13 baking dish. Stir. Place chicken on top. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Bake at 425 degrees for 40-45 mins. Serve over rice.

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Don’t mess with Pesto

I don’t pretend to be a good cook, but there are a few meals that I do right. And pesto is one of them. Mine is kick-ass. That’s why we eat it weekly in the summer and usually just serve it straight up on pasta.  I’ve never been one to experiment with add-ins or toppings, because as the old adage goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  However, when we went to St. Louis’ new vegetarian restaurant and whiskey bar (yes, you read that combo correctly), Small Batch, I was inspired to branch out and try their pesto. It’s conventional with basil but had some crazy toppings.  And well, it was amazing. Soo amazing, that I was inspired to recreate it for my family later that week. My concoction is below. Please note, this is not Small Batch’s recipe, but rather my interpretation of it. Theirs was good…but mine was too. So here’s what I made:

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The bar at Small Batch.

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The Black Friday

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When a friend gave us some cranberries from her CSA this week I think she intended I use them for my Thanksgiving dinner. Well, I used them on Thanksgiving, but in my cocktail instead.  Imbibe after your Black Friday shopping to help forget about the lines, traffic, money you spent, etc.

1 part sweetened cranberry Juice
2 parts prosecco
a squeeze of lime
top with frozen cranberries and garnish with a lime

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. See you back here on Monday!

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