Brown Sugar Glazed Salmon

This is a pretty straightforward marinade/glaze but it's my favorite way to prepare salmon.  I served it with a simple spinach salad (dried pomegranate seeds, crumbled goat cheese, and almonds).  Enjoy!

What You Need:
Salmon (I usually only prepare it for two people but this makes quite a bit of marinade so feel free to use the same recipe even if prepping for 4-6 people)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce (gluten free)
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup water
2-3 cloves garlic
Salt & pepper, to taste

What To Do:
1. Combine brown sugar, soy sauce, lemon juice, olive oil, water, and garlic with a whisk until the sugar dissolves and all ingredients are fully incorporated.
2. Season the salmon with salt & pepper.  Place in a resealable plastic bag (like a Ziplock bag or something).
3. Pour in the marinade over the fish, seal the bag, and let sit in the fridge for at least 3 hours (I've left it for as long as 5 hours before).
4. After at least 3 hours, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Remove salmon from the plastic bag and place in a cooking dish (either a non-stick dish or one sprayed with cooking spray).
5. Pour some of the marinade over the fish and cook for about 12 minutes.
6. Increase oven to Broil and cook for an additional 5 minutes (this makes the brown sugar caramelize and gives the fish golden crispy outer edges).  Remove from oven, serve, and enjoy!



Friday Foto - Uva

UVA (f.)
Translation: Grapes



Home Alone

It's 94 degrees out (not scorching, but a record high for the area).  There's not much of a breeze.  Walking home from anywhere means climbing up a steep hill.  What does this mean?  It means I have no motivation to leave the apartment.  So what's a bored gal to do?  Turn the camera around and experiment with self-portraiture.




Now you can follow Big Mario on bloglovin!  Ooh la la!! 
Follow my blog with bloglovin

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

This recipe is kind of a cheat because I just tweaked a previously posted recipe.  It's so delicious though - the sweet toasted hazelnuts, the gooey chocolate chips - yum!

To make these biscotti, start off with the basic almond biscotti recipe found here.  Now, for the changes:

1. Substitute 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract for the almond extract.
2. Substitute 1 cup chopped hazelnuts for the chopped almonds.
3. Add 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 teaspoon ground espresso, and 1 cup chocolate chips.

Follow all the same baking instructions and there you have it!  Very easy to do, especially if you're already making the almond biscotti.  Also, if you're worried about the biscotti tasting like espresso, don't be.  Two teaspoons aren't enough to make them taste like espresso but it greatly enhances the flavor of the chocolate. 

(Chocolate Hazelnut and traditional Almond Biscotti)


Halfie, Maybe?

So it's happened.  I thought the 10K might be the end of it but, alas, here I am thinking of running another race.  I don't know if I actually will, but I need to pull the trigger and make a decision soon because the race I'm considering is on November 7, only 11 weeks away.  It's for a good cause (St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital) and it would definitely motivate me to get back on the workout bandwagon because let's be honest here - when I said "Sayonara" to the bar exam I also said "Adios" to my work out motivation, despite Hawaii being a mere two weeks away.  Should I run a half marathon?  Could I run a half marathon?  Either way, I need to decide soon.  I'm already a week behind in training and this Saturday has a 4-mile run on the schedule.  I haven't done a 4-mile run since May.  But it is tempting ...  What do you think?  Should I?  Could I?


Friday Foto - Bicicletta

BICICLETTA (f.) (pronounced "bee-chee-klet-tah")
Translation: Bicycle




As I've been looking at others' photographs lately, I find myself interested in those with texture added to them.  There's something mysterious about it that transforms a simple image into "art."  But as far as my own photos go, it's used sparingly.  As a photographer, I tend to be drawn towards geometric shapes and more structured compositions.  I like lines and angles.  So for me to step out of my comfort zone, it requires planning.  I need to have a concept in mind that requires textures to finalize the idea. 

I do not have PhotoShop and wouldn't even know where to begin with digital textures, but here are some images I texturized the old fashion way - in the darkroom.  These were shot on black and white film and I experimented in the darkroom with various techniques.  When I scanned them into the computer, they took on this sepia-like tone which I kind of love.  The concept, if you can call it that, was that this live person would be transformed into a statue.  I don't know if that was accomplished, but I liked the dreamy, other-worldly feel of the final product.



Asparagus Soup

After a summer full of Lean Cuisines, I've decided to spend a lot of my free time cooking fresh delicious meals, and this soup is both easy and delicious.  Enjoy!

What You Need:
1 lb. fresh asparagus
3/4 yellow onion, chopped
1 medium potato, chopped
2-4 c. vegetable broth
1 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 c. reggiano cheese, grated
Salt & pepper, to taste
Sour cream or plain yogurt

What To Do:
1. Chop all the veggies and place them in a large pot.  Add broth until the veggies are just covered (roughly a half to one and a half cups).  Simmer until veggies are tender.
2. Place mixture in a blender, a little bit at a time, and blend until it's all pureed and smooth.
3. Melt butter in the pan over medium heat and stir while adding flour, salt, and pepper.  Be careful not to let the flour brown.
4. Add in about 1 and 1/4 cups of broth and increase the heat slightly and continue stirring until the mixture comes to a boil and there are no lumps from the flour.
5. Stir in the puree until fully combined.  Add lemon juice then remove from heat.  Serve with a sprinkle of cheese and dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt. 


Carne Guisada

Carne guisada simply means "meat with gravy" but there's nothing simple about the flavors of this Tex-Mex dish!  This was my favorite meal growing up and I always request it when I go home for the holidays (I've never seen it in a restaurant outside of Texas).  It's basically a stew made with beef, onions, peppers, spices, and sometimes tomatoes (though not in my recipe).

Carne guisada can be made and served many different ways - with or without tomatoes, with perfect cubes of meat or shredded beef, served by itself or with tortillas or cornbread.  I've even heard of it being made with chicken or pork (but then shouldn't it be called "pollo guisada" or "cerdo guisada"?).  There's probably a different "family recipe" for every family in Texas!  Now I could be diplomatic and say there's no right way to make the dish, but that would be a lie.  My mama's way is the right way!

So here it is.  My mama's recipe for carne guisada (as made by me for dinner last night!).

 What You Need:
1-2 round steaks 
1 yellow onion
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
4-5 cloves of garlic
1-3 tbsp. of flour
1/2 to 1 cup water
Chili powder
Red pepper flakes
Olive oil

What To Do:
1. Chop the steak into roughly 1-inch cubes.  Heat oil in a large pan.
2. Chop the onions, red pepper, green pepper, and garlic.
3. Brown the onions for a couple of minutes.  Add the chunks of beef and brown them.
4. Once the meat is brown, add the red and green peppers and the garlic.
5. Season with salt and pepper to taste and a couple teaspoons of cumin and chili powder.  (Honestly, I don't really measure the spices.  I start with a little and taste it as it simmers to add more.)
6. Add about 1/2 cup of water to just cover the meat (you may need more than half a cup, depending on the size of your pan).
7. Sift in the flour, a little at a time, to thicken the gravy.
8. Let simmer for 1-3 hours then serve with warm flour tortillas.  

Note: This cut of beef isn't exactly the most tender so the longer it simmers, the softer it gets.  I try to max out the time and let it simmer for at least two hours.  The photo above was taken after about an hour of simmering.  The longer it cooks, the less liquid you're left with, so keep that in mind when deciding how you want to serve it (on tacos, as a stew, etc.)

This is great as a taco all by itself, but I sometimes like to have it with a little sour cream and guacamole or just sliced avocados.


Who Wants to Win $150?

I sure do!  My friend at Slice of Pink is hosting a contest sponsored by the Laughing Cow.  Just leave her a funny story, picture, video, etc. in the comments section of her blog and be entered for a chance to win.  You can also be entered by tweeting or blogging about it (like I am at this very moment) and leave her the link!  While you're there, check out the rest of her blog - it's pretty darn cute!


Camera Bags

I'm in the market for a new camera bag.  The one I currently have is suited for just the body of the camera and one lens.  I need more room - something that holds at least two lenses.  Of course, this purchase won't likely happen before I start working but I like "window shopping" to see what's out there.  I like the idea of a camera bag that doesn't look like a camera bag.  Here are the options I'm considering.  What do you think?

Clockwise from top left: (1) Epiphanie Black Lola bag; (2) Kelly Moore Heather Gray Hobo; (3) Janine King Designs (on Etsy); (4) Jill-e Red Leather Camera Bag (also considering it in black)


Friday Foto - Rocce

ROCCE (f.)
Translation: Rocks
(Singular: Roccia)




I often find myself drawn to photographing lanterns and street lamps.  Something about their solitude, the interplay between light and dark/day and night, the coldness of the metal and glass juxtaposed with the warmth of glowing light, the unique shapes and designs of each lantern - all of it intrigues me. 

For these two in particular, I was drawn to the way their structural design mirrors the natural environment around them.  The first has a leaf-like pattern that's reflected in the plants below while the second has a lighter, curly design like the nearby branches.  Do you see it?



Hello, San Francisco | Chinatown Street Art



Eggplant, Basil, and Goat Cheese Salad

What You Need:
1 medium eggplant
Couple leaves of basil
Crumbled goat cheese
Pine nuts (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup)
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper, to taste

What To Do:
1. You need to sweat the eggplant.  This sounds weird but here's what you do: slice the eggplant into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices then sprinkle lots of salt and let sit for about an hour.  That's it!  (This process draws out the bitter juices and tenderizes the eggplant.)
2. Preheat the oven to about 375.
3. Wipe down the eggplant slices to get off all that salt and the beads of juice that formed during the sweating process.
4. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay the eggplant slices on the sheet in one layer.
5. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, then flip and bake for an addition 8 minutes.
7. In the mean time, prep a little spinach and arugula salad.  I just mixed the two together and dressed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
8. Place the pine nuts in a small pan on medium heat and toast.  Keep an eye on them so they don't burn.
9. Layer the basil leaves one on top of the other.  Roll up into a little basil cigar and slice thinly.  If done correctly, you should end up with thin slices of basil curls - perfect for sprinkling on top of your salad!
10. Remove eggplant from the oven and lay a slice or two on top of your salad.  Sprinkle with goat cheese, toasted pine nuts, and basil slices.  Drizzle a little extra balsamic vinegar on top of the eggplant slices.  Enjoy!



Hello, San Francisco | SF MOMA

I visited the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art this week.  There was a lot to be inspired by, not the least of which was the museum itself.



Friday Foto - Scarpe

Translation: Shoes



Rice Pudding with Strawberry Topping

I first fell in love with rice pudding when I visited my BFF in New York.  We went to Rice to Riches and I was in heaven.  The creamy texture, the rich flavors, the creativity in toppings all came together and made perfection.  Every time I go to NYC, I make at least one stop to try a new flavor.  

I don't know when I'll get back to NYC, especially since my lovely BFF has moved to Korea to teach, so I decided to experiment with making rice pudding on my own.  The flavor of this recipe was spot on, but the creamy texture didn't last.  This is a great one if you intend to serve it soon after making (and if you're looking for a healthy alternative to the dessert), but the longer it sat in the fridge, the more liquid the rice absorbed.  Still, it tasted good so I thought I'd share it anyway.  I'll keep you posted on my experiments so you'll know when I discover the perfect rice pudding recipe!

Rice Pudding
What You Need:
1/2 cup Arborio rice
4 cups reduced fat milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

What To Do:
1. In a medium saucepan, add all the ingredients and bring to a gentle boil.
2. Once the rice starts boiling, turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 20-25 minutes.  Stir frequently to prevent the rice from sticking.
3. Transfer to serving dish and cover with plastic wrap.  Let cool in the fridge.
Note: Some people actually like a little skin to form on top of the rice pudding as it cools.  If you're one of those people, don't cover with plastic wrap while it cools. 

Strawberry Topping (ignore the chipped dish!)
 What You Need:
1 cup strawberries, cleaned and sliced into quarters
2-3 tablespoons of sugar, depending on how ripe the berries are
1/8 - 1/4 cup water (honestly, I just dumped a little bit in here and didn't measure - you don't need much)
2 teaspoons lemon juice

What To Do:
1. In a small or medium saucepan, heat all ingredients and bring to a gentle boil. 
2. Let boil for about 5 minutes or so, till the sauce begins to thicken.
3. Remove from the stove and let cool.  This topping is wonderfully sweet and flavorful.  It's great on top of plain cake, ice cream, or mixed with some plain yogurt, too!



Hello, San Francisco | Wandering

I didn't have much planned for today so I walked down to Fisherman's Wharf and read my book by the water.  It was nice ... till the 50-degree chill set it.  I decided to head back indoors but just had to snap a few photos along the way.  Hope you enjoy my quick tour of the Wharf.

PS - Happy 100th Post!



Shrimp Risotto

As promised, I've started a cooking quest this week.  Most of the recipes I intend to try are from Giada De Laurentiis, but sometimes I have to make adjustments.  For example, this risotto recipe is called "Browned Butter Risotto with Lobster" but I couldn't find lobster at the market down the street so ... shrimp!  I also didn't have brandy so I used white wine (which you would normally use in risotto anyway).  Needless to say, the recipe was still pretty darn good, but I do want to try it with brandy and lobster some day.

What You Need (for my version):
1/2 lb. shrimp, cleaned and tails removed
4 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
4 1/2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 cup finely chopped white onion (roughly half an onion)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup grated Reggiano cheese
1/4 chopped fresh chives
Kosher salt, black pepper, and a little olive oil

What To Do:
1. In a medium pan, heat up 1/2 tablespoon of butter and some olive oil.  Cook the shrimp until they turn an opaque white-ish pink. 
2. In a separate pan, bring the broth to a boil and keep it warm over low heat.
3. In a large pan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.  Cook until the butter foams up and turns brown.  Then add the onions and cook for about 3 minutes.
4. Add the rice and stir to coat it with the butter.  Then add the white wine and let simmer until the liquid evaporates (about 3-4 minutes).
5. Add 1/2 cup of stock and stir until completely absorbed.  Continue adding half a cup at a time until the rice is fully cooked (should be al dente).  This will take about 20 minutes or so. 
Note: I used 5 cups of broth because 4 1/2 wasn't enough to cook the rice.
6. Once the rice is fully cooked (you have to taste it to test the texture!), remove it from the heat and add the remaining tablespoon of butter, grated cheese, salt, pepper, and chives.  Stir to fully incorporate.
7. Transfer to a serving dish and top with cooked shrimp.

Note: This was super tasty even before I added the shrimp so if you're not in the mood for seafood, enjoy the risotto all on its own!


Down Time

I'm on Day 4 of my "leisurely life" and it's definitely a strange feeling.  For about 11 years, I've either worked full time, been in school full time, or both.  I really don't know what to do with myself now but, at the same time, I kinda love it. 

I'm not really one for horoscopes usually but I've been reading mine off and on lately.  A few times, it was spot-on.  I think I'm going to take today's advice and go for a run, enjoy a book, etc.

Everything smooths out when you just relax and trust in the universe. That ought to be welcome news, since it means you can actually live your life instead of trying to steer it. That should release a pile of stress, but also improve your willingness to try new things.

PS - I'm also planning on cooking a lot this week.  Keep an eye out for yummy recipes and drool-worthy photos!
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