My 5 Favorite Salads

Carrie table scape

I love a hearty salad.

The perfect one plate meal.

Here are 5 that are at the top of my list.

It’s no surprise that most come from my all time favorite cookbooks.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

1. Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

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The Barefoot Contessa does it again!

This recipe, featured in her Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics Cookbook  is

a great winter time meal, accompanied by a nice bowl of soup and crunchy bread.

Time Saver: I buy squash that has already been peeled and cut so all I have to do is throw it on a pan.

MachePhoto: Kitchenography

2. Salad of Mache,  Raw Asparagus, Pistachios and Parmigiano-Reggiano

Zuni Cafe Cookbook

This recipe comes from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook  and is a great  Spring time salad especially with the season’s first crop of asparagus.

Judy Rodgers is a genius.Zuni Cafe is one of my all time favorite restaurants and the cookbook is a gem.

Time Saver: Trader Joe’s sells Mache pre-washed in bags.  I also buy my shelled pistachios there.

winter-salad

3.  Winter Chopped Salad

Seriously Simple Holidays

This recipe comes from Diane Rossen Worthington’s: Seriously Simple Holidays.

I make this over and over and over.

I crave it.

Time Saver: Buy a rotisserie chicken!

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Photo:Miseenplace

4. Persimmon & Pomegranate Salad with Arugula & Hazelnuts

Sunday Suppers at Lucques

This gorgeous salad is from Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques.

It’s another great winter salad. Persimmons are at their peak.
Always worth waiting for, especially in this salad.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of a Sunday Supper at Goin’s consistently awesome LA restaurant Lucques, you can recreate some of her menus at home.

This is a must own cookbook.

5. Iceberg Lettuce and Watercress Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

The Gourmet Cookbook

Nothing wrong with a wedge. Decadent and delicious. Crunchy Goodness.

Yum!

The recipe for this Blue Cheese Dressing is my hands down favorite.

This recipes comes from The Gourmet Cookbook by Ruth Reichl.

It’s a well-worn and loved cook book in my kitchen.

When I serve this at a dinner party there are no leftovers on the plates.

Sometimes when I am home alone (which is very seldom) I make this recipe, pour a glass of wine and sit down and savor the delights of this salad.

It is a bit naughty, especially when I crumble a piece of well cooked bacon on top so I don’t do it often, but when I do it’s worth the extra workout.

So what are your favorite salads?

I’d love to hear.  It’s always great to get a new one into rotation.

xoxo Carrie

The Challenge

Mount Everest

The Challenge.

 I have joined the Bar Method challenge.

I have to attend 15 classes in the month of March.

Then they will develop a program for me in April and May.

They assigned me a motivational coach and paired me up with a work out partner.

That’s great and I can meet that challenge no problem.

I wanted to jump start my physical activity program.

 I’ve been busy with work and have neglected my intense daily work outs for long walks.

It’s not working.

On top of that I have additional motivation in the form of a 30 year high school reunion coming up in August.

Yup, it’s true.

You can do the math, what it really means is that I am  staring down the barrel of 50.

I turn 48 this July.

But the real challenge?

Facing the fact that I am getting older and so is my body.

Deciding once and for all whether I will lose the extra weight or continue down the path I’ve been going during my 40’s.

The weight is taking up too much head space and that is the challenge.

Mentally I’m cool with getting older.

I wouldn’t go back to being 20 or even 30.

Life gets better and better.

The hard part about getting old is how the body changes.

How one or two glasses of wine knocks me on my butt. In the not too distant past when I would refer to drinking too much wine, it was closer to a bottle than a glass that could knock me on my butt.  I could still get up, work out, work for 12 hours, and then go out on the town and do it all over all again.

Not anymore.

I could also eat whatever I wanted (within reason) and I actually never really got into sugar until I became pregnant and Sprinkles cupcakes came to town.  I developed a wicked sugar habit that I have yet to kick.

My body has  jiggles in places that I’ve never known. Those jiggles are just plain weird.

I’m not a stick, never have been.  Never will be.

I’ve got a gut no matter how slim I am and I’ve had a ample rack since junior high.

However, the gut and rack are larger than I’d like.

I have weight to loose and not 5 or 10, more like 25 or 3o.

There I’ve said it.

But in some ways it’s hard to say good bye to the pounds.  There is a certain safety and security in it.

It’s my excuse, my crutch.

I am used to being unhappy about it and it now feels normal and that’s wrong.

Feeling bad about yourself is not normal.

It’s also hard to get used to how people respond to older women.

I’m called Mame by store clerks.  I

keep on looking around for my Mom, but it’s me they are talking to.

I don’t get the double take anymore.

 You know when a guy looks at you and then turns again to see you walk on by?

The last double take I got was when I was 9 months pregnant and was so large I got stuck in the booth at Canters Deli.

We all want to feel sexy to the opposite sex even if we are married.

This extra weight in combination with the natural changes of an aging body is not making me feel my best.

(I must give kuddos to my husband here.  He adores me no matter what I look like.
Up for days on end with a newborn, dried breast milk and barf on my shirt, he still thinks I’m hot)

But I am going to rise to the challenge once and for all.

Not for the 30th reunion.

Not for anyone.

But me.

I can do it.

So can you.

xoxo Carrie

Best Coffee by a Longshot!

Flat White

I am obsessed with Coffee+Food (more on that later) located in the Old Wild Oats Cafe space on Melrose.

One of the main reasons, besides the awesome Panini’s and the Kale Salad (it’s addictive, you’ve been warned) is their coffee.

Julio Urbinato

Soooo while I was dreaming of the coffee to come I struck up a conversation with the oh so cute and charming man behind the coffee machine.

His name is Julio Uriarte and he is actually a “guest” barista representing the coffee company and he’s fabulous.

But the coffee he uses is even more fabulous.

Long Shot Coffee Beans The coffee beans come from Longshot Espresso.

It’s smooth, rich and strong, but it doesn’t have the bitterness that some chain coffees have.

And it’s not so strong that it melts your stomach lining.

Longshot Coffee-1

Photo: LA Weekly

So here is the scoop on Longshot Espresso.

Aussie, Mark Baird  relocated from Sydney to Los Angeles and discovered that our dear City of Angels didn’t have the espresso he loved and served his customers back in Australia.

He then set out on a mission to find a coffee that would not only satisfy his longing for a good bean, but to rescue Angeleno’s who have been sipping the bad stuff for so long.

He tested various roasts and beans for over a year until he found the perfect blend.

 And that would be the classic, Longshot Australian Roast.

Longshot Espresso can be ordered on-line. It’s $14 a pound which is super reasonable for a gourmet coffee.

If you are having a party, they have a mobile espresso bar!

Brilliant if you need to sober people up before they head home.

 The mobile espresso bar has also graced many a TV and movie set.
It’s the go to coffee service  for some of the best caterers and party planners out there.

If you are a simple pedestrian like me. you’re in luck, you can pick up a cup or some beans at

the Yamashiro (season starts April, 2013) or Sherman Oaks Farmer’s Market.

Or my beloved Coffee + Food.

Do it soon.

Julio’s guest starring stint is coming to an end.

Ask for the flat white.

Yum.

xoxo Yours Truly,

Pleasantly caffeinated, Carrie

Packing for the Desert

la_quinta

We are heading to the Desert for the long weekend and I can’t wait.

The Desert restores me and I always come back to Los Angeles relaxed, refreshed and calm (unless traffic is a bitch coming back).

Here are a few of the things I’m packing.

This Ikea bag is perfect for throwing towels, goggles, sunscreen, snacks, you name it.

It’s a big one and holds everything our family needs poolside.

Ikea Spana Bag

Buy it here: www.ikea.com

The Tom Ford’s have come and gone, but the Ray Ban Aviator has been my go to shades for over 20 years now.

I have my college sorority sister Helaine to thank for introducing me to this style.

They’ll be traveling with me.

Ray Ban Aviator

Buy them here: www.ray-ban.com

I just got this Lemlem cover up from J. Crew and it will be perfect for throwing on when we head to the pool.

J Crew Cover Up

Buy it here: J Crew

I plan on lounging all day poolside with a big stack of  fashion and trashy gossip magazines.

To redeem myself a tad, I am also packing the latest book our book group is reading, “The Tenth of December” by George Saunders.

10th of December

By it here: Amazon

The desert gets cold at night so I am bringing my favorite shawl from Viriginia Johnson to keep warm when the sun goes down.

shawl-camel-multi-tomato-wrap-A-060-387-TO_1024x1024

Buy it here: www.virginiajohnson.com

I love Scrabble and I am hoping to get my husband to play a game or two with me.

Scrabble

Buy it here: www.hasbro.com

The most important things I am bringing with me are my family.

Adam and Caroline

They make life fun.

Not to be forgotten,  Mr. P is along for the ride, he’s a fan of the Desert too.

Mr. P

It just wouldn’t be the same without him.

Have a great weekend everyone!

xoxo Carrie

I’m a Snake

Snake Lunar New Year

Happy Chinese New Year!

It’s the year of the Snake.

I was born in the year of the Snake so I am partial to this Lunar New Year.

Live snakes completely and utterly freak me out.

The site of a live one will have me squealing like a toddler and running for the hills.

A Snake in any other form is just fine.

I’ve always loved this photograph.

Natasha Kinski Snake

Photo: Richard Avedon

Snake Print Jeans

A closet staple.

018ou

Photo: www.comeovertothedarksidewehavecandy.com

Reed Krakoff, one of my current fashion loves, hit a home run with this skirt from his 2013 Spring Collection.

Reed Krakoff Spring 2013

Photo: www.reedkrakoff.com

It’s been done a million times, but I love a Snake Ring.

I covet this Victorian era beauty.

VictorianDuoSnakeRing1

Photo: www.bellandbird.com

I’d love to store this ring in this gorgeous snake skin jewelry box.

Snake Skin Jewelry Box

 Photo: www.vandm.com

I am sorry to have missed out on these One King’s Lane  Cobra Candlesticks.

Cobra-Candlestick-1024x697

The 1960’s DC Town House interior designer Hillary Thomas created is spectacular.

This room in particular.

The color combo makes me swoon.

I love the framed snake prints and of course, the Cobra Candlesticks!

Hillary Thomas DC House

Photo: Eric Piasecki

It’s been a few years back, but this April, 2009 Elle Decor cover has always been a favorite.

The framed snake illustrations have a lot to do with it.

elle-decor-april-2009

And how could you forget this little fella?

 “The Jungle Book’s”  resident snake,  “Kaa”.

Jungle Book

Let’s Celebrate the Snake!

xoxo Carrie

I’d rather call it Pistachio

I am obsessing over pistachio.

Prom Date

Photo: Julie Schaeffer Nasenbeny

It’s really mint green I am digging right now, but that color sends me too far back in time.  It  pains me to say that my Prom Dress was a polyester mint green number with a sheer matching cape.   It was also the color of  my  circa 1987 Laura Ashley Towels (with a lovely peach accent stripe) that I bought for my first apartment in Chicago.

But I am finding new life and inspiration in this color that I’ m calling Pistachio.

J Crew Cover

I think it has to do with the new J Crew catalog.

I did some real damage shopping last night and the stand out color of my purchases was pistachio.

Here are some of my purchases.

(I am praying my husband doesn’t read this)

The pop of green in the flower pattern is what I like about this shirt.

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Carnation Silk Top

Buy It Here: J Crew

The color of the shoe got my attention, but the lilac bow sealed the deal.

My new favorite spring shoe.

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Contessa Snakeskin Bow Pumps

Buy them here: J Crew

I am hoping this brocade number will work for an evening fundraiser I have coming up.

I always feel more comfortable in pants than a dress so when I find a dressy look that will work for a formal occasion I snap it up.

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 Gilded Brocade Pant and Top

Buy them here: J Crew

 Pistachio has also been inspiring color for me in the interior design department.

I just won’t go back to the 1980’s peach and mint green rage, but combining the color with some jewel tones or quiet neutrals can make a room a winner.

Pistachio Walls

Photo: Pinterest

 Designer Lizzie Dinkle did right by pistachio in this lovely Brentwood dining room

Lizzie Dinkle Dining Room

Photo: www.elizabethdinkeldesign.com

Rasberry + Pistachio= a delicious living room

Pistachio & Raspberry Living Room

Photo: Pinterest

The color reflection off of the collection of mirrors in this dining area is simply gorgeous.

Pistachio Kitchen

Photo: Pinterest

I love the pops of green on this neutral mantle.

Pistachio Green Pops of Colors

Photo: www.laylagrayce.com

Certain to never go out of style is the Pistachio nut.

Here’s a great cookie recipe

PistachioCookies-Baked

Brown Butter Pistachio Cookies

 Photo: www.lawyerloveslunch.com

And who could argue against the beauty of the product packaging and the deliciousness of the Laduree Pistachio Macaroon?

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Unknown

Photo: www.wherecanifindtheperfect.com

 Pistachio Perfection.

xoxo Carrie

Decorate Your Cake and Eat It Too

Cake Mix Out Front

This past Monday was a holiday, so I needed an activity that would appeal to a 5 and 10-year-old.

My niece Sophia had spent the previous night with us and was going to spend the following day so I needed something to keep both girls entertained.  Much to Caroline’s chagrin, she was not going to be playing my ” My Little Pony”  and “Squinkies” all day with Cousin Soph.

Candy Counter at Cake Mix

I decided to take the girls to Duff’s Cake Mix.

Duff”s Cake Mix is the brain child of Duff  Goldman, star of Food Network’s ” Ace of Cakes” and owner of Charm City Bakery.

 It was a blast and it was a hit not only with the girls but with me too.

Fondant Station

The place was super clean, the staff  VERY helpful and friendly.

Which is quite a feat when you have children jacked up on sugar running around.

Coffee

There was great rock ‘n roll  music playing that actually made me want to dance instead of taking a Tylenol. More importantly for a bleary eyed Mom, a great cappuccino made with Intelligentsia Coffee.

Cake Mix Graffiti

So here’s the deal.

Pick a cake flavor and decide on a cake or cupcakes to decorate.

Icing

Then decide on butter cream or fondant to cover the cake and as well as the color for the outside of the cake.

Caroline & Icing

You get to pick two toppings, two bags of icing, and a fondant to decorate with.

There is a station  set up with brushes, molds, cutters, and all sorts of tools to create your cake masterpiece.

Decorating Tools

Cookie Cutter

You can get as much or little help as you want from the staff.

Duff himself was helping kids smooth out their butter cream, very cool!

Here are the finished products.

Sophia &CarolineCarrie's Cake

The best part?

Eating the cake.

 It was quite delicious!.

xoxo

Carrie

The Gingerbread House Party

Gingerbread House Food Shop

The Food Spread

I guess it’s official.

I have an annual Christmas Holiday Event.

Year 2 of the Gingerbread House Party and I am already plotting for next year.

IMG_3121

The Calm Before The Storm

IMG_3111 The Candy Line UpIMG_3109

Candy Land

Georgia

Georgia & M ‘n M’s

This year it was a bit different, we held the event in our school auditorium.

It was scheduled to rain and the stress of checking the weather report got the best of me and I just made the call.

Of course the day was sunny and rain free.

It turned out that  I loved having the event at the school and not in my home.

Last year I discovered candy in various nooks and cranny’s for months.

.  Clean up was easier, the house was intact and the kids had a whole play yard to work off the sugar high.

Win-Win

Making a House

Marie & Nick

Not just for kids

Drynan

Gus working hard!

Gingerbread House 1

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Eamon's House

A “blizzard” of icing hit this house.

Plymouth Gang Before Sugar

The Plymouth Gang Before Sugar

After Sugar

 And After 

The End Result?

200 pounds of candy

40 Gingerbread Houses

7 boxes of wipes

A million smiles.

A annual tradition indeed.

Merry Christmas!

xoxo Carrie

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Snowman Ornament

I love to decorate for Christmas.

Pulling out the boxes each year and rediscovering the decor is so fun.

I have been  accumulating my little goodies since I have owned a home and collecting Christopher Radko ornaments for 20 years.

As a result, I have an awesome (if I do say so myself) ornament collection and I get get joy out of unwrapping each little box.

 We all remember our favorite Christmas decorations from childhood.

I always loved the Nativity Scene my parents had.

Staring at all the animals, checking out the Wiseman and deciding which of their outfits I liked best, the wax choir boy and girl candles, the dough ornaments my Mom made.

I love having a tradition and things that Caroline will associate with the holiday when she grown.

IMG_3039“Eddie” our resident Elf on A Shelf hangs out on the mantle.
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Basquiat and Tree

Caroline has a knack for picking out the best tree.

I have officially handed off the “Tree Picking Crown” to her.

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The Angel Choir

These little angels used to be in my Grandmother’s home and I loved them so.

My sister found them when cleaning out my Grandfather’s place when he passed away and saved them for me.

I plan on passing them down to Caroline.

Christmas Table 2012

Dining Table

Flowers By KrislynA nice surprise from our neighbor Krislyn.

An amazing artist, florist, stylist, designer.

Boxwood Wreath In Dining Room

I have hung Boxwood Wreaths on all the Dining Room windows with a Peacock Blue Ribbon.

So cute!

pablo x-mas

Pablo Hanging out front “helping”.

Off to hang some lights.

Happy Holiday Decorating!

xoxo Carrie

10 Holiday Gift Ideas under $75


I always need suggestions for Christmas Gifts, especially those under $75.

Small tokens of appreciation, stocking stuffers, Secret Santa gifts, girlfriend and holiday hostess gifts.

 I thought I might share some of my favorite Holiday Gift finds with all of you.

$49.99

Buy here 12/1: www.neimanmarcus.com

I love these Derek Lam Slippers from the brilliant collaboration between two of my favorite retailors, Neiman Marcus and Target.  All the items are available in stores and on line Saturday, December 1st.  I could actually do all my shopping in one swoop by visiting the site, but if I had to narrow it down to one item, it would be these magnificent leopard slippers.

$18

Buy it here: www.jaysonhome.com

 I love this heart bowl.  Perfect for a key drop or place to throw you jewelry when you take it off each night, or a bowl for nuts. This sweetheart of a gift is available at Jayson Home, a favorite Chicago based store of mine.  I remember when Jayson Home opened and was primarily a garden and flower store,  now it’s grown into huge retail, on line and catalog success.

$30

Buy them here: www.gardeshop.com

It is always great to have some chic and beautiful hand towels in your powder room.  A great gift because it’s a little luxury you might not allow yourself.  I love these Fouta Turkish Towels from Garde.   Garde is a great store filled with uniquely curated home goods, textiles, jewelry and other treasures that you won’t find any place else.  If you are an Angeleno’s pop by the store on Beverly Blvd. at Vista, it’s a beautiful shop.

$50

Buy it here: www.shop.gardeshop.com

Another item I love from Garde is this gorgeous brass bottle opener.  This one is the “Eclipse” and it was designed by Osi Masanori for Futagami.

It will look beautiful on any bar and it’s another one of those useful, “so glad to have it” things you will use all the time.

$29.95

Buy it here: www.cb2.com

I adore these pig book ends from CB2.  Great for any room and any age.

The price is right too.

$68

Buy it here: www.anthropologie.com

The “Love” pillow from Anthropolgie will look great on any sofa, chair or bed.  It’s 20×20 and made of wool crewel work over a paint by number “love” cut out on front and flower scene on back.  The pillow was created by artist Trey Speegle who has done many other items for Anthropologie, including dishes which I received a few years back from my ultra chic mother in law.

$22

Buy it here: www.heathceramics.com

Stuck for an idea?  You will never fail with a Heath Ceramic Bud Vase.

I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t adore this little gem of a vase.

$49.50

Buy it here: www.jcrew.com

Color Block madness continues with this number from JCrew.

I love the hot pink and camel colors.  You can pop this into your large everyday bag or use it on it’s own as a clutch.

Super Cute.

$75

Buy it here: www.harbingerla.com

This Sister Parrish tissue holder is nothing to sneeze at and if you live in LA pop into Harbinger, the awesome showroom and home to Lucas Interiors where they carry them.  Honestly, I detest a kleenex box sitting out, so if you need to have a tissue nearby at least the box will be styling!

I’d love to hear your gift ideas!

Happy Shopping!

xoxo Carrie

Top Photo: www.sisterssuitcaseblog.com