Friday, June 1, 2012

flashback friday: birthday countdown

 Ichetucknee Springs, June 2011.
Glasses: Forever 21. Bathing suit: Handmade, my mom. Shorts: Almost Famous.

My birthday is eight (eight!) days away. And while I do have a pretty crappy track record with birthdays, it doesn't stop me from getting super excited and giddy with glee.
This year I hope to keep things simple and fun. I usually start planning birthday festivities months in advance, but as I've gotten older (I'm so old!), I've realized how much I just want a simple night with great food, great company, and a great outfit.
Last year, the husband decided we take a trip up north - north Florida, that is - to go tubing down a river and hang out in a natural spring.
We got a small group of us together and made our way up.
A speeding ticket, a late arrival, the middle of nowhere, and one disastrously epic car dilemma (it took us 6 hours and about $250 to get a wheel bearing off. a wheel bearing!), and it was definitely a trip to remember.
And one that we probably won't do again..
Happy Friday!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

currently loving: tastes of summer

summer is upon us!
my sweat informed me of that many weeks ago.
it is (arguably) my favorite season. one that I fill with numerous beach trips, lots of grilling and outdoor eating, plenty of summer dresses and tons of fun, bright color.
my birthday falls in summer and a fantastic trip awaits (in a month or so, anyway).
bring it, summer. bring it.

YOLO's espresso ice cream sandwich with white chocolate cinnamon sauce.

Tangerine toenails and hot pink flip flops.
Color: New York Color in Sunny Side Up. Flip flops: Old Navy.

Totally should have purchased this, but I was practicing self-control for once.
Dress: Target. Necklace: Key West Shell Warehouse. Bracelet: gifted, Kameleon.

Homemade granola and greek yogurt parfaits.

Mojito tuesdays! With plenty of fresh limes, mint, and a mint simple syrup.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

tres leches for mom

my mom is a simple gal.
she grew up in Argentina, practically raised on her grandfather's farm. breakfast, lunch, and dinner came straight from the earth. the cows were milked in the morning. if you wanted an apple, you picked it from the tree.
a simple, but rich, life.
she likes her fruits, her vegetables, her soy milk, her whole grains.
but she also loves a gooey, creamy dessert.
(no chocolate for her.)
tres leches cake is one of her favorites: vanilla cake soaked in a concoction of three different milks and slathered with whipped cream.

does it get any better than this?
a friend gave her her recipe, but it never quite worked out. the call for boxed cake mix should have been the red flag. after numerous attempts, she decided buying a slice at the grocery store was her best bet.
when I saw Alton Brown make the cake, I knew it would be perfect. the man can do no wrong.
so this past mother's day I made her the cake.

and she had a big cake all to herself.
sweet, moist, creamy, perfect.

the mix of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and half and half make for a winning combination.
and when you pour it over the cooled cake, you'll think you've made some horrible mistake.
(so much liquid!)
but in about 5 minutes, you'll realize it was no mistake at all. it was just right.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

flashback sunday: happy mother's day

my grandma, my uncle, and my mom (in a handmade dress, of course), 1975, at my uncle's graduation. snazzy, huh?
happy mother's day!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

color wave

With every new season that arrives, it brings something to love.
Spring lets the sun shine, the flowers bloom, and the plethora of colorful pieces to come charging out of the closet.


I've always been partial to pops of color. I used to paint each nail a different color, wear bright green eyeshadow with everything, and let my red pointy-toed flats or thrifted hot pink tennis skirt do the talking.


Now that bright colors are in more than ever, I can say that I'm just falling into the trend, but truth is: I've always been one for color. Now it's just ok to wear my bright yellow flip flops with my bright orange bag and my bright pink shorts. 
Though it's not like you ever really need an ok. I wear it cause it's fun. 


This skirt is tons of color and twirly fun, but to keep it fairly subdued and basic, I paired it with a black cami. Perfect for a spring day.

Necklace, Skirt, Purse: Forever 21. Flip Flops: Old Navy. Bracelet: gifted, Kameleon

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

a cheeseburger

To be honest, if I had to pick one favorite food it would have to be a cheeseburger. A greasy, gooey, cheesy cheeseburger.
And I don't mean a big, fat patty on a big bun. Although, that's ok, too.
I'm more of a fan of the thin patty charred perfectly on a flattop so you get the crispy outside and a juicy inside. And a big slab of cheese to melt all over it.
It's my kind of meal, what can I say?
Well, I can say that I have been living off of these cheeseburgers for a couple of weeks now.


Bacon turkey burgers. Is there anything else in the world?
Unlike those who prefer to season the outside of the patty, I'm a firm believer in seasoning the meat and mixing it up.
A big sprinkle of salt, a decent sprinkle of pepper, and a dash or so of garlic powder. A good char on a grill and a slab of cheddar (though I also had some manchego laying around and that was all sorts of delicious).
I also like to cook my bacon on the grill, too. Lay a piece of tin foil down and use that as a skillet almost. The bacon crisps up beautifully.
All other rules remain: flip only once, don't press down. Oh, but cook it all the way through.
This is not the place for a medium burger.
The result is one tasty, juicy, healthier option.


Gouda and Cheddar Cheeses.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

for the -aholic in all of us

I am a serious chocolate-peanut butter-aholic.
And because I am a serious chocolate-peanut butter-aholic, I absolutely could not pass up this little gem when I came across it at Target last week.


It's been hanging around ever since, sort of mocking me with its "I'm so awesome, what exactly are you going to do with me??" grin.
I contemplated something simple to really highlight those chocolate and peanut butter flavors: maybe a simple cookie or cupcake or even a blondie.
And then I decided why not just make it a chocolate and peanut butter explosion??


I went with this recipe that I've been making for who knows how long (substituting the chips for the peanut butter cups).
It's funny, brownies were always the one thing I made terribly. And then one day that brownie recipe came along and I was no longer the terrible brownie maker.
But once I added peanut butter to the mix it went way beyond no longer being the terrible brownie maker. They were deee-licious.

Dusted with a little flour to keep them from sinking to the bottom.

You could very easily make basic brownies, but honestly, once I made the peanut butter ones, I haven't (except for rare occasions) gone back.
They are just too good.
And they are the perfect treat for the chocolate-peanut butter-aholic in all of us.

Sometimes, all you need is a fork.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

springtime lunch

I can't pinpoint the time I started making this chicken salad, but I remember vaguely getting the idea after watching Ina Garten make a dish with chicken and grapes.
I wanted to combine the idea of chicken salad with the idea of potato salad with the idea of egg salad. Get the idea?


I've been making this salad for quite a while now and I really, truly love it. Sometimes I forget how good it is, take a bite, and think "wow, this is fantastic."
True story.
And it's like most of my cooking: guess amounts, throw stuff in, taste, repeat.
The main component, and the most important, is the chicken. In the times I've made this, I've tried roasting, grilling, even pan-frying. The absolute best bet is poaching.
And if you're like me, you just cringed.
The only memories I have of poached chicken are rubbery, dry, tasteless ones.
The idea is to not boil the crap out of it; the idea is to impart flavor and simmer gently.
When you create a poaching liquid, think about flavor. I throw in chunks of carrots, celery, onions. I crush garlic cloves and peppercorns. I add some bay leaves and thyme leaves. Even some parsley stems. And instead of just plain water, I add in some chicken stock.
Simmer the chicken in the liquid gently for about 15 minutes, cool it and shred it and you've got chicken that stays moist and delicious and is the perfect component for chicken salad.
Everything else? well they're just star supporting actors. The hard-boiled egg adds interesting taste, the basil adds that fresh, herby background, and the grapes add the perfect sweet surprise.
Happy spring lunch.

Chicken Salad
Use good quality mayonnaise. Miracle Whip is not acceptable.
The poaching is recommended, but optional. You could even purchase a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and shred.


Poaching Liquid:
3 cups total water and chicken stock
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 carrot, cut into chunks
1 celery stalk, cut into chunks
1/4 onion, sliced
1 bay leaf
bunch parsley and thyme stems
salt, peppercorns
slice of lemon or lemon peel

1 lb chicken breast

2 medium carrots, shredded
1 c grapes, halved
2 T (or so) basil, chiffonade
handful parsley, chopped
1 hard-boiled egg, diced
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 c mayonnaise
salt, pepper
1/4 c almonds, optional

1. Add the poaching liquid ingredients to a shallow pan and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add in the chicken. If the liquid does not quite cover the chicken, add some more until it does.
2. Poach gently (do not boil), uncovered, for about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the liquid, cool and shred.
3. In a large bowl, add the shredded chicken, carrots, grapes, herbs, egg, and lemon juice. Mix well. Add in mayonnaise and mix to coat and combine. Taste for seasonings. Add almonds if desired.
4. Serve atop spinach or baby arugula or a soft, toasty bun for a light lunch.

Makes 4 servings.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

springtime wardobe


One of my favorite things about the arrival of spring is the abundance of spring dresses and being able to wear them all.
I love taking a cold shower and slipping into a breezy, frilly spring dress.


I wore this out to a fun lunch on the beach last week. Paired with some sparkly sandals and a messy bun, it was beachy springtime chic.
And oh-so-comfortable.


Dress: Forever 21. Sandals: Rampage / DSW. Rings: Key West Shell Warehouse.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

currently loving: grant achatz

Just like Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential became a legendary must-read for all line cooks everywhere, Grant Achatz’s Life, on the line is an absolute must-read for anyone who works with - or even remotely gives a crap about - food.
While I’ve known of Achatz for a little bit (he does, after all, own the best restaurant in the freakin country. No big deal or anything), this is a whole new level of interest and admiration.
The story is remarkable, fascinating, and heartbreaking.
‘Workaholic’ is nothing but an insult to a man who is at home in a kitchen, who would rather be nowhere else, who wants nothing more than to create beautiful works of edible art everyday - and make people happy in the process.
And the book gives me something I’ve wanted for so long: a real, fantastic glimpse into the kitchens I’ve dreamed of: The French Laundry, Charlie Trotter’s, elBulli.
This is a book to read. And one to read for anybody who’s ever lost the passion, love, and dedication for their craft.
I am inspired. I haven’t felt this inspired in a long time.
This book is, simply put, the most important book that any cook can read right now.


Monday, March 26, 2012

weekend picture show

Spring in bloom.

Which means spring dresses are here! From Forever 21.

Followed by some fantastic Dippin' Dots. Best treat ever. In chocolate.

Sterling Confections Truffle Bar. Kind of a disappointment.

Lulu's Bait Shack. Rum Runner, Pina Colada.

Ft. Lauderdale Beach.

Mini Vanilla Cupcakes! Finally.

Goodbye Sir David Patino. And good luck.

Mom's fantastic empanadas. True family recipe. Delicious treat.

Photos 1,3,5,6,7,8 via Instagram @taliahomegirl.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

hello spring!


heat and beaches and tans and patio lunches and this wonderfully bright turquoise tank that I found at Forever 21 for under $5.
hello spring!


tank: forever 21. jeans: old navy. wedges: italian shoemakers / dsw.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012



In between the boredom of dressing myself and the baking disasters (banana bread brownies, anyone?), came this little gem.
Thursday night and I was craving something chocolatey, gooey, delicious (what else is new?).
It was a tough week, it was going to be an even tougher weekend, and I was in need of therapy.
I picked out a recipe for chocolate cookies that I had recently found in a cookbook and looked at it: over one pound of chocolate?!
I have a feeling this is going to be good.
I'll admit I was nervous. A lot of chocolate was about to be sacrificed for my fat ass, but I was ready.


The result was kind of fantastic: a warm brownie in cookie form.
Gooey, chocolatey, really, really delicious; the kind of cookie I was aiming for when I made the chocolate peanut butter ones.
They're oddly delicate with a crackly top. They're not the prettiest girl at the cookie exchange, but the one everybody wants.
And at the end of the day it's safe to say chocolate really is the best form of therapy.

Pure Chocolate Chunk Cookies
A couple of notes: I'm wary of making any cookie without salt. I did it once, it was terrible, never again. The original recipe doesn't call for any salt, but I added 1/4 t in. Also, these cookies are really tasty cold from the fridge. They retain their brownie-like chewiness and they're fantastic slathered with peanut butter (my breakfast the next morning). Oh, and I left out the 1 1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate.
Adapted from Fran Bigelow's Pure Chocolate.



12 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 stick + 2 T butter, room temperature
3/4 c + 2 T brown sugar
2/3 c granulated sugar
1 1/2 t vanilla
3 eggs
1 3/4 c cake flour, sifted then measured
1/4 t salt
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, cut into chunks

1. Preheat oven to 325F.
2. In a double boiler, melt the semisweet and unsweetened chocolates over low heat. Also, you can melt the chocolates in the microwave in 30 second increments. Once melted, set aside.
3. In a mixer, beat together butter, sugars, and vanilla until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time until each is fully incorporated. Scrape down the bowl.
4. Pour in the melted chocolate and mix to combine.
5. Fold in the flour and salt until fully incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chunks. Chill for one hour.
6. Using a scoop or spoon, spoon a good hunk of cold batter onto lined cookie sheets. Space them a couple of inches apart because they will spread a good bit while baking. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until cracked and slightly puffed. Cool completely. Or, you know, devour while still warm and gooey with a glass of ice cold milk.



Tuesday, March 13, 2012

socal dreamin'


So I've been uninspired and bored lately.
I don't even want to mention how many times I've worn this shirt-and-shorts combo already, but it's just a no-brainer, effortless kind of outfit.
Usually paired with a cami underneath, the shirt just puts me in serious west coast mood.
The palm trees, the waves, the color yellow...I don't know.
And while I am an east coast girl through and through, I really need to make it a mission to get to the other coast.
Maybe next year.
As for the shorts, they used to be my favorite pair of jeans and then time got to them and ripped them open like a present on Christmas morning. So I took a pair of scissors and made myself some super comfortable shorts.
I love denim reincarnation.

Shirt: American Eagle / TJMaxx. Shorts: Levi's.

Friday, March 9, 2012

flashback friday: missing

I have been rather uninspired lately.
And also irritated and the loss of a box of clothes that seems to have been misplaced in the move.

Boothbay Harbor, Maine, July 2007.

When I was younger I had a Barbie that wore this fantastic hot pink one-shoulder dress, similar to this shirt.
Every time I wore the shirt I thought of that.
And, really, doesn't it just scream springtime?!
Well, it was in that box. And it's missing.
Which makes me rather upset.
I need a wardrobe update.

Shirt: Forever 21.

Happy weekend everyone!