Thursday, July 31, 2008

If My Breakfast were on a Menu....

Summer Oatmeal
$ priceless

Strawberry Blueberry Oats 1

Quick-cooking steel cut oats simmered with cinnamon and vanilla extract
topped with sliced fresh strawberries and blueberries, floating in a pool of vanilla soy milk and flax
served with Suite Apple granola on the side

~:~
I'd order this, but I have yet to see oatmeal this good on a cafe menu. Luckily, it's even easier to make at home.

1/2 cup quick-cooking steel cut oats (McCann's)
1 cup water
1 large strawberry and a handful of blueberries
salt
cinnamon
vanilla extract
light vanilla soy milk (8th Continent light vanilla)
1 tablespoon ground flax
2-3 large pinches of Suite Apple Granola

1. Cut strawberry into pieces and add half along with half the blueberries into a bowl with the oatmeal and water.
2. Microwave for 1.40 minutes (will vary by microwave).
3. Add a pinch of salt and some cinnamon and stir. Add the sweetener of your choice (I use Splenda packets).
4. Stir well, and add a few splashes of soy milk.
5. Cover again and microwave for 50 seconds to heat.
6. Remove and stir once again, adding a few more splashes of soy milk to moisten. I like my oatmeal more liquidy these days so I add a bit more.
7. Return and microwave once more for 1 minute at half power.
8. Top with the ground flax and the remaining fruit. Sprinkle a pinch of granola over the top; save the rest on the side to add to the bowl as you eat (it will stay crunchy if you add it as you go)
9. EAT!
Delicious, filling, and easy as pie.

~::~

I just finished my bowl, where is yours?

Mighty Bougainvillea

In the middle of June I shared this picture of the bougainvillea plant my friend A. gave us for a housewarming gift. (Original post here.)

Bougainvillea 6.15.08

It was doing well after replanting, and I was proud of my work after a few gardening failures.

Well... LOOK AT HER TODAY!!!

Bougainvillea 7.30.08

Flourishing! I want it to grow over the white stone fence behind it, in front of the house. I've already moved the stake to coach it to grow in that direction; you can't tell from the picture from it's grown a bunch. But it's not going to be big enough for long- I need a bigger stake soon!

I guess I go to the garden store and buy.....big wooden sticks? :-)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Peanut Sesame Noodles

Peanut Noodles with Scallions 2

The first time I made dinner for NH in college, I didn't think. Not considering other's potential preferences, I made him a beautiful vegetable stir fry- crisp vegetables, homemade sauce, fluffy white rice. No meat. A plate full of vegetables.

He loves to say that he wanted to impress me, so he forced the dish down. Since that day we've both adapted- he eats a lot more vegetables, and I've learned what foods make him happy.

~:~

If there is a staple dish in our house, this is it.

It's the dish I make most often for NH; it's his favorite. I love the smile on his face when he walks in the door and discovers it in the works. So no question what to make for NH on his 27th birthday!

I've tested a few peanut sauce recipes, and NH has tasted his share of packaged noodle kits. We both think this is the best version hands down.
He likes his sauce with extra heat, so I add extra Sriracha. My heat tolerance is lower so when we are both eating the dish, I use the amount in the recipe. It can easily be made vegetarian- leave out the chicken and add more veggies. This is the version I make for NH.

Peanut Noodles 1

Asian-Style Peanut Sesame Noodles

1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup peanut butter, chunky or creamy
2 medium garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
5 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon hot sauce (like it hot? go for up to 3/4 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons lightly packed brown sugar
12 oz linguini
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds
a handful of chopped scallions

In a blender, process the sesame seeds, peanut butter, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce, and sugar until smooth. Pour into a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Boil a large pot of water and add salt and linguini pasta. Cook until al dente, about 9 minutes. Before draining, take a large spoonful of pasta water and add it to the peanut sauce. The sauce should be the consistency of heavy cream. Drain the pasta and add it to the bowl of peanut sauce. Add the chicken if desired and toss with tongs until the noodles are well-coated with the sauce. It will cling nicely and have good texture.

Transfer a serving to a plate, sprinkle with more toasted sesame seeds and chopped scallions. Serve.

Texture on Noodles

More optional garnishes:
shredded carrots, blanched sugar snap peas, chopped roasted peanuts

Looking for the best packaged peanut noodles? We've tried lots of brands, and recommend Annie Chun's Chow Mein Noodles with Peanut Sesame Sauce. They are easy to prepare and taste the closest to homemade.

~::~

More Birthday Food Highlights

Rainbow Chip Cupcakes

IMG_1965

Containers for NH to share at work-
Last-Week-of-the-Quarter Treat!

IMG_1967

I held back two to make sure he gets a few of his favorite cakes

IMG_1968

Special lunch delivered by the wife: In-N-Out Burger!

For West Coasters, In-N-Out needs no explanation. It's the best drive-through burger place- fresh, quality ingredients, actually delicious fast food. So an indulgence for both of us!

Ray enjoying InNOut lunch

He loves his cheeseburgers and Neapolitan shake (chocolate-strawberry-vanilla swirled)

Best of all, they make me a grilled cheese! No burger for me, it's a toasted bun with cheese and extra lettuce and tomato (see secret menu).

Grilled Cheese, xtra tomato and lettuce

With a few fries on the side and a diet Coke. What a splurge, soo good!

~:::~

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Sheet of Envelopes

Sheet of Envelopes

I had leftover chicken in my fridge from last week's Balsamic Chicken. I hate throwing food away but knew it was inevitable since it's a busy week. Then, brilliance struck- make ravioli and put them in the freezer for an instant treat!

I made Tart Chicken Purses in June and they were a big hit. This batch has the same filling, with an extra layer of flavor from the balsamic vinaigrette on the chicken.

I used square wrappers instead of round, and after the first one it was clear the purse shape wouldn't work. After some monkeying and a few funky raviolis (which are still good, just not as pretty :-) I settled on this envelope shape.

How to fold Envelopes

1. Place a tiny amount of filling in the center of a wrapper. Careful, or filling will spill out the sides. Dip your finger in a bowl of water and dampen two sides of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half; starting around the filling press to seal and remove all the air.

Envelopes 1

With a damp finger, fold the right and left corners and press to seal.

Envelopes Step 2

Dampen the center and fold down the top half (like an envelope) and press to seal.

Envelopes Step 3

Repeat with the remaining wrappers. A package of wonton wrappers contains about 48; a few might tear and that's ok, but you should end with somewhere around that amount.

I froze them flat and then bagged them; I'll have to wait to see how this shape cooks. I hypothesize that they will be good but not quite as good as the purses; circular wrappers might be the way to go. Stay tuned!

~::~

HAPPY BIRTHDAY NH!!!! xoxoxoxoxo

~::~

Sunrise Ray's Bday 2

Monday, July 28, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

Mitchell Katz Zinfandel

Another all-time favorite from a local winery.

Mitchell Katz 05 Zinfandel

I hear you. You're saying,

"Wine?! On Friday morning?! Um..... do you need help??"

This bottle was actually consumed last weekend, but I have to share this winery and particular bottle with you.

Mitchell Katz Winery is located in Livermore Valley wine country, about one hour south-east of San Francisco and a 40-minute drive from my home. Before getting married NH and I spent 4 months living about 10 minutes away! Livermore is a wonderful alternative to Napa or Santa Cruz wine country; tasting fees are greatly reduced, and you don't have to worry about driving through the mountains.

Mitchell Katz has been around for 10 years, and is a family-owned and operated business. They are located in a gorgeously renovated warehouse building on the property of the Palm Event Center. More often than not we see Mr. Katz himself walking through the tasting room.

We seriously haven't tried a Mitchell Katz wine we don't like. This winemaker has a cheeky sense of humor too. Try the 2004 'Fatboy,' a full-boded Cabernet Sauvignon. Oh, and did you get a good look at the cork in the photo above?

Mitchell Katz label and cork

;-)

Love this cork

This 2005 Livermore Valley Zinfandel won the silver medal in the 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. It has a pleasant warming quality and a smooth sweetness. It pairs wonderfully with many foods- truly, it's very versatile. We drank it with homemade grilled pizza one week ago- delicious!

If you are unable to visit the winery itself, you can order their wines on their website. Check it out!

Have a fun Friday night!

Cin Cin!

~:::~

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bliss in Blue

There is a sea of blueberries in my kitchen and I can't keep my hands off of them.


Can life get any better?

Sea of Blueberries

Blueberry Oatmeal 1

Popcorn, Blueberries, Grapes

I submit that it CANNOT!!

~::~

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Balsamic Chicken

I am not a chicken eater. I guess I'm a flexi-pescetarian; I may be coining a new term, but I don't fall into any of the real categories.

I eat a vegetarian diet 90% of the time, and maybe 9% fish and seafood. The remaining 1% comes from a meat dish that creeps in on a rare occasion. I have no moral objection to it, but I neither crave it nor miss it in the slightest. And I'm very happy to make it for my carnivorous other half.

I used to eat chicken as a kid, and this is a recipe I made in college. I no longer follow a recipe, instead creating the marinade from memory. I still jimmy with it, trying to make it the best it can be and, as always, adjusting to what I have on hand.

When I made this for myself, I would buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts- and they would always come out a bit dry. I know use skin-on, bone-in meat because the meat stays very moist and full of flavor (cheaper too, because less labor goes into it). I know I know, there is fat in the skin, but I remove it before eating.

Carnivores can multiply the recipe to make a lot of chicken; it makes great leftovers in a salad, sandwich, or pasta (keep reading).

Balsamic Chicken

Balsamic Chicken

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 red wine vinegar
1/8 cup dijon mustard
1 large garlic clove, minced
a few squeezes of honey
a few turns of olive oil
salt and pepper
2 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts and ribs

Combine vinegars, mustard, garlic, honey, and salt and pepper in a baking dish. Whisk to combine, slowly adding the olive oil. Place the chicken in the dish, and turn to coat well with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for several hours and up to a day, basting occasionally with the marinade.

Balsamic Chicken with Foil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the chicken for about 40 minutes or until well cooked internally.

~

I served the chicken with these potato nuggets; I found them in Whole Foods' freezer and gave them a try with NH.

Potato Nuggets

I didn't notice but they are actually higher-end tater tots. Oops! He did say they were good, a better ratio of potato center to crunchy outside. They are made with Yukon Gold and Russet potatoes, with no trans fat.

~:~

With the remaining chicken, I de-skin and de-bone into a container in the fridge for a few days, to use as needed the rest of the week.

I recommend this combo: Pasta, balsamic chicken, some fresh basil pesto, peas, and parmesan cheese.

Parmesan Pasta with peas and balsamic chicken

Big thumbs-up from NH here; he liked it so much he wants the leftovers tonight. For him, eating the same thing two nights in a row is a big deal.

~::~

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

An Actual Snack

Doesn't this look good?


Red Grapes and Popcorn

It was!

I was extra hungry this afternoon, and I added some popcorn to my regular 3pm fruit. I'm not a big snacker, but I'd consider this an actual snack! The salty popcorn and sweet grapes are a new favorite combination.

Popcorn is growing on me. Ever since Top Chef Season 1- when Harold made the Ecuadorian Ceveche with Popcorn Cakes for the Junk Food Quick-fire- I've wondered what else can be done with it besides shoveling it in your mouth.

Decisions....to save the rest of the bag for future snacks? Or create a tasty dish with it?

Any suggestions?

~:~

Changes

If you visit me often, you'll notice I've made some changes recently.

My title banner has shrunk to accommodate more content above the fold.

I've added my Twitter account to the space. What is Twitter you say? Check it out!! I joined a few months ago after reading about it on a local blog, and BlogHer was abuzz about it this weekend. Based in SF, these are hometown people!

You may also have noticed the new ad to the left, and the 'Featured Publisher' badge up top. I'm fortunate to be linked with FoodBuzz, an amazing site also based in SF. It's devoted to food and restaurant content exclusively. I'm all about that. The people are great and it's a fun site. Give it a look-see.

During my brief time at BlogHer '08, there was some discussion about the focus on a blog. Many people seem to think their blog must have one focus, a subject that it sticks to throughout its life. I admit to being a victim of this feeling in the past but I'm trying to break free. We continue to evolve over time, why should our writing remain static?

Suite Apple Pie is nothing like it was when I created it last August, but I like where it's going. And if it pleases me, and you my readers, I can't ask for more. It is still a food blog first and foremost, a diary of creation and consumption in my little corner of the world. But it's also about the life that revolves around the food, and the place in which that life takes place. I have added a heading underneath my title in an attempt to capture this idea.

What do you think, how am I doing?
I'd love to hear more from you, and I love emails! I've added my blog email to the left sidebar; Please write to me at sarah.suiteapple@gmail.com if you have any questions or comments about me or this blog.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday Gardening

It's Monday, which means:

1. Beginning of work week :-(

2. Chores!

That's right, Monday is house-cleaning and grocery-shopping day for me. This morning I scrubbed, did laundry, hit the library and grocery store, and prepared some chicken to marinate for dinner.

After a little lunch, I did some gardening. My in-laws brought us some nice plants when they came for dinner last week. This is a baby Meyer lemon tree.

Meyer Lemon Tree

MIL gave us the potting vessel and some organic soil to plant it in.

And these are some little vines.

Little Plants

I need to get some stakes to tie them to (for when the vine starts to grow), and decide where to plant them- we're not sure yet! In the meantime they'll live here, and I'll use the cute watering can to quench their thirst.

It's cloudy and cool today, but sun and warmer weather returns tomorrow.

~:~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hi Bobo

BoBo and LuLu

*luv,* Lulu

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Shower!

Of the bridal variety that is :-)

Sea of Mimosas

My dear friend C is getting married in September, and Saturday morning was spent celebrating that. I'll be one of her bridesmaids so I volunteered my help to the Maid-of-Honor, whose parents were hosting the event. We had a nice day, and the setting was beautiful.

Tables at the Shower

The event was mostly catered, but the MOH requested that I bring a fruit salad and a green salad to supplement the catering. I ran behind making them and getting ready in the morning and as a result- no pictures.

You aren't as sorry as I am because they were actually very pretty. I made them to match C's wedding colors (burgundy red and lime green). Thus, the fruit salad was all red- watermelon and strawberries- and the green salad was all green- romaine, spinach, cucumber, avocado, lime vinaigrette. I pat myself on the back, I'm so witty :-P So you must imagine them.

I also prepared the games for the party. We had a quiz on who knew C the best, and a list of famous couples to match up. My personal favorite was the Price is Right game below- I purchased these items from Target and everyone had to guess how much they cost!

Guess the Price of these Products!

I had never played this game at a shower before, but it's a great game.

These precious cupcakes were made by the MOH.

Mimosas and Cupcakes

She did such a beautiful job, and I love the cupcake towers.

Cupcake Tower

My selection, red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. I had a few bites, but the afternoon heat stole my appetite.

Red Velvet Cupcake

I'm so glad C has this memory to keep forever.
xoxo!!

~:~

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Rest In Peace Friend

My trusty bread machine has gone to the place where appliances lay to rest.

My Bread Machine

Yesterday, I prepared to make pizza dough. With all the ingredients in the pan, I went to plug it in and... nothing. Nothing happened. I tried every plug in my kitchen and a few elsewhere. I checked the connections with the plug and inside the machine.

No visible issue, but no power either.

It had a long life, providing Mom and than me with delicious dough and breads. I was actually pretty sad; I'd lost a trusty friend. It will remain in its place of honor on the counter, until another comes to take its place.

~:~

Mourning the machine was quickly followed by panic- how can I still make pizza for dinner?

I did what I usually do in crisis- I called the Expert. Mom's instructions:

Use a spatula to scrape the ingredients into the food processor. Whirl a few times until the dough comes together (which it does very quickly). Empty the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times. Place the dough in a very large bowl (you can oil the bowl but it's not necessary so I didn't), cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for at least an hour. The dough is sufficiently risen when you poke it and the indentation remains. Proceed as you would if the dough had been made in the bread machine.

Crisis averted. Thank you Mom, you saved me again.

Good night, Bread Man.

~:~

BlogHer Friday

What an amazing event!

Welcome to BlogHer

Was I lucky the BlogHer conference took place in my own backyard- next year I will have to travel! I'm so thankful that I had the opportunity to attend, even for just one day. I learned so much and it's great to connect with like-minded women of intelligence and drive. It doesn't happen often enough.

I got up early to workout and drive to SF- I timed it well and arrived in Union Square just before 8. Right away I got my badge and bag of swag, and went inside for breakfast.

I was among the first to sit down, but the tables filled up quickly. I got to know some amazing women during this hour. I really hope to stay in touch with them, and I have so many amazing new blogs to read! Here are Claire, Nora, and Jen.

Claire, Nora, and Jen at Breakfast

I did have the opportunity to meet Kath, the author of a blog I've been reading regularly for a little while. She and her mom are visiting from North Carolina for the conference.

Me with Kath

This was my first conference experience; heard lots but I'd never been. I was in awe of all the tradeshow booths,

Tradeshow booths

and the big bag of swag- cute! My new favorite grocery bag :-)

Swag Bag

I was a little spastic in the morning, stepping into 3 different sessions: Blogging and Introversion, FAQs for Beginners, and 20-something Bloggers. In between I had a fabulous chair massage- sweet!

I think of the three I enjoyed the talk with 20-something Bloggers the most. It was great to sit with others my age, and to learn about what others write about and the issues that concern them.

Breakfast was not the greatest (1/2 a small muffin and a little fruit). They had MILK and COOKIES 30 minutes after breakfast, can you believe it? (Sorry for the blur, I was having difficulty with the lighting inside the hotel).

More Milk and Cookies

They smelled amazing but I can't imagine wanting a cookie at 9:30 AM. I passed on those, so I was STARVING by lunch. I ate with a breakfast companion, Jen, who I really think is a kindred spirit. :-) She's from Washington D.C., but I really hope we stay in touch. Her blog Semi-Charmed Wife focuses on personal growth and well-being, and she's also a newlywed like me.

Anyhoo, lunch was actually quite delicious- a vegan wrap with tofu, shiitake mushrooms, red peppers and spinach in a tortilla. I gobbled the first half and carved the insides out of the second. It came with some yummy fruit; I left the rest behind.

Lunch- Before

In the afternoon I went to some fashion and travel session: I wanted to hear more about what other women blog about. Very interesting! On my way home I stopped in the bookstore, which was filled with publications by bloggers. I wanted a few of them but I didn't buy- instead, I took pictures to remember titles.

Blogger books

I wish I could meet this blogger, Stefanie Wilder Taylor. Anyone so clever to think of these witty titles is a person worth speaking to! I want these when we have kids. :-)

Mommy Books of Note

~:~

I think the biggest lesson I took away is that your blog is your own, and it doesn't need to have a particular focus- it evolves as you do. I drove home exhausted but filled with ideas.

My hunger to write continues to grow, and I hope the opportunity arises to do so more than this space.