Sunday, September 29, 2013

Farmers Market Sunday

As much as I love getting dressed up for date nights, the reality is, I live mostly in yoga pants and jeans.  On weeknights, the first thing I do when I get home is to change out of my work clothes and immediately throw on my pajamas.  And on the weekends, you can find me hiking with Mr. J or running errands more often than dining at trendy restaurants.  I think in the blogging world, it's easy to get carried way projecting a glamourous lifestyle but sometimes, you just gotta keep it real.  This morning, I threw on this comfy outfit to head to the local Farmers Market, where I picked up our groceries for the week.

In other news, this is our 100th post!  We have had so much fun sharing posts with all of you.  For me, it has also been a great e-diary and going through old posts is like taking a stroll down memory lane.

Open-back sweater: Heather by Bordeaux from Shopaholic Sample Sales.  High-rise skinny jeans: Madewell
Leopard print flats: Madewell.  Sunglasses: Tom Ford. Rose-gold watch: Marc by Marc Jacobs.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Homemade Strawberry Pop Tarts

When I was growing up, I never ate cereal for breakfast.  Pancakes, eggs, and oatmeal were also nonexistent.  My parents always preferred having Korean food for breakfast, and once in a while we'd have toast with jam when we were in a pinch for time.  For some strange reason, they allowed Pop Tarts, usually of the strawberry variety.  There's something alluring about the dense pastry crust, the sweet strawberry jam, and that shellacked candy-like frosting.  It's been a while since I've had an actual Pop Tart, but I was suddenly hit with a craving the other day.  Better yet, I already had most of the ingredients at home.

This recipe most definitely satiated my Pop Tart craving.  I left some unfrosted and froze them so that I could reheat them in my toaster oven later.  It's probably not a great idea to freeze ones with frosting because when you reheat them, you'll end up with soggy puddles of melted frosting.  I think I'll try this recipe next time with a variety of other fillings.  Nutella Pop Tart, anyone?

Homemade Pop Tarts
Makes 9 total
Adapted from this recipe from

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (or 3/4 cup) of unsalted butter, diced roughly into 1/2" pieces

1 large egg
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) milk

1 additional large egg (to brush on pastry)

Jam Filling
3/4 cup (8 ounces) jam
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water

3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
Colorful sprinkles

Jam filling: Mix the jam with the cornstarch and water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer while stirring for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool.
Dough:  Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Incorporate the butter with your fingers, pastry blender or food processor until pea-sized lumps of butter are still visible, and the mixture holds together when you squeeze it.  Whisk the first egg and milk together and stir them into the dough, mixing just until everything is cohesive, kneading briefly on a well-floured counter if necessary.
Divide the dough in half (approximately 8 1/4 ounces each), shape each half into a smooth rectangle, about 3×5 inches.  Wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

Tart assembly: Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to soften for about 15 to 30 minutes. Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick, large enough that you can trim it to a 9″ x 12″ rectangle.  Repeat with the second piece of dough. Set trimmings aside. Cut each piece of dough into thirds to form nine 3″ x 4″ rectangles.
Beat the additional egg and brush it over the entire surface of the first dough.  Place and spread a scant tablespoon of jam filling into the center of each rectangle, keeping a bare 1/2-inch perimeter around it. Press the tines of a fork all around the edge of the rectangle. Repeat with remaining tarts.
Gently place the tarts on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet (I used a Silpat mat). Prick the top of each tart multiple times with a fork so that steam can escape.  Refrigerate the tarts for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F.
Remove the tarts from the fridge, and bake them for 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Cool on a rack.

Frosting: Whisk together powdered sugar and milk until smooth.  Drizzle and spread over cooled tarts.  Immediately scatter sprinkles.  Let cool and harden.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Embellished Collar Dress

I'm in the middle of working nights for a stretch of a couple weeks but was lucky enough to have a weekend day off.  It was perfect because I got to accompany Dr. S to a work dinner at his department chair's house.  I wore a simple dress that was breathable, which was super important in the steaming hot San Fernando Valley.   It's crazy how you can drive 10 minutes in one direction in LA and have such a drastic change in temperature.  The biggest thing I took away from the evening is: I want a house!  It will likely be many many years away, given the steeply priced housing market in West LA, but it's fun to dream, right?  We did take a baby step and buy a condo recently, and we're in the midst of renovations.  Hopefully I'll get to share some of them with you soon(ish).  

Dress with embellished collar: Zara.  Belt: J.Crew Factory (similar here). Shoes: Zara.  Purse: J.Crew Edie in Dusty Rose (other colors here).  Bracelets: Vita Fede and gift from mom. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mixing Textures

Happy Sunday everyone!  Work was really busy last week and with Mr. J out of town, I ended up bringing work home with me at night, which is a bad habit.  So it's no surprise that I was looking forward to a restful and relaxing weekend.  On Saturday, we were greeted with lots of rain and with the rain came some cooler temperatures, so it's finally starting to feel like Fall around here.

This outfit mixes a bunch of textures from the sweatery knit top, to the lace on the shoulders, the faux suede and leather paneled leggings, the studded clutch, and finally the pony-haired booties.  With all of that going on, the black and white color palette keeps it from looking too crazy...I hope.  

Jacquard peplum sweater: Anthropologie (on sale!). Faux suede and leather paneled leggings: Zara
Pony-haired booties: Belle by Sigerson Morrison. Crystal drop earrings: Anthropologie (old). 
Sunglasses: Chloe. Studded clutch: Zara (old). Bracelet: DIY.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Single Girl Dinner

With both of our husbands away on business, my friend Wendy came over for a single girls' dinner last night.  I wanted something healthy with lean protein and lots of veggies and it had to be easy to prepare quickly after work.  Typically, as the weather cools, I start to crave heartier dishes but I woke up craving fish tacos.  Perhaps my appetite isn't ready to say good-bye to summer just yet...

This is a super quick weeknight meal, since most of the preparation can be done ahead of time.  I did everything after work but I could have easily made the slaw and pico the night before and just kept them chilled in the fridge.  The fun thing about taco night with your girlfriends is that you can just lay out a bunch of ingredients and each person can add what they want.  As long as you have a decent variety, you can accommodate bunch of dietary restrictions.

Carolyn's Weeknight Fish Tacos

1 pound of white flaky fish (I used tilapia but you could use mahi mahi, cod, really anything)
8 limes (1 lime for the fish, 3 for the slaw, 2 for the pico, 1 for the crema, and 1 cut into wedges)
1 tbsp ancho chili powder
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
1 small head of red cabbage, shredded
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, julienned or shredded
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Dash of Cholula (or your favorite hot sauce)
1/2 cup olive oil, divided in two
1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
1 ripe avocado, sliced
6 corn tortillas

For the slaw, whisk juice of 3 limes, 1/4 cup olive oil, cumin, garlic, hot sauce, and olive oil until smooth. Combine cabbage, red onion, and carrots in a bowl and toss with the dressing.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

To make the pico de gallo, combine diced tomatoes, onion, and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro in a bowl.  Season with the juice of 2 limes and salt to taste.  

For the crema, mix the sour cream and juice of 1 lime until smooth.

Rinse the fish and pat dry.  Place the fish in a medium sized baking dish.  Season with salt and pepper.  Whisk together remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil, lime juice, ancho chili pepper, and cilantro.  Pour over the fish and allow to marinate for 15-20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Place the fish on the middle rack for 20 minutes.  Switch to the top rack and broil on high for 4 minutes, until golden.  Flake the fish with two forks.  Lightly toast the tortilla over a low flame (if you have a gas burner) or in a toaster oven.

Lay out your taco bar and go to town!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Dressed Up Shorts

Spontaneous date nights are always fun, especially for two not-so-spontaneous people.  We ventured out to Tagine, a teensy but romantic Moroccan restaurant in Beverly Hills that is co-owned by Ryan Gosling (sadly, no sighting!).  The food was delicious, with the standouts being the lamb chops (even I, usually a non-lamb eater thought it was truly tasty) and the hummus (one of the best I've ever had!).  The food was made even more delicious by a 20% off discount via  Sweet!


Sheer shirt: 3.1 Phillip Lim.  Shorts: Ann Taylor Loft (similar here).  White blazer: Zara.  Belt: super old.  Snake-print wedges: Belle by Sigerson Morrison (similar here). Clutch: Banana Republic.  Bracelet: Lee Angel.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Pop of Pink

Mr. J and I attended a charity benefit this weekend where the dress code was "upscale wine country casual."  I had no idea what that meant so I decided to play it safe with a little black dress.  The ponte knit cotton made it a bit more casual and I added just a few pieces of jewelry to glam it up.  After I was dressed, I looked in the mirror and felt like I was dressed for a funeral.  I was running low on time so while I usually shy away from lip color, a bright pink lip was a quick way to bring the pop of color that this outfit sorely needed.

This outfit also features two staples in my very different price points: my lovely black caviar Chanel flap bag and my black Zara pointy-toed pumps.  Since I've moved 4 times in the last 6 years, I've had to take re-evaluate my wardrobe many times.  I was shocked that despite the frequent moves (and frequent purging), I was still able to amass so much stuff.  The disheartening part was that a lot of the stuff just wasn't worth keeping.  So over the past two years, I've really tried to collect some wardrobe essentials and limit myself from buying something new if I already had an item that served the same purpose.

 Black knit dress: Madewell (last season). Black pumps: Zara (old) (this season's version here). 
Jeweled necklace and pave bracelet: J. Crew (here and here). 
Purse: Chanel medium flap bag in black caviar. 
Bright pink lipstick: Urban Decay Revolution in 'Catfight'.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Kimchi Jeon

While Americans often indulge in sweet pancakes for breakfast, I, along with the rest of the Korean population, love savory pancakes, or 'jeon.'  Koreans mix all sorts of items with their pancake batter, from seafood, to scallions, to beef, and of course, to kimchi.  Kimchi jeon is the Korean's equivalent to the scallion pancake, as Carolyn deliciously demonstrated here last week.  It's probably one of the easiest Korean dishes to make, except maybe for kimchi fried rice.

Kimchi comes in a variety of forms, but the most common and arguably most loved type is 'mak kim chi' or kimchi made with napa cabbage.  I prefer using a too-ripe kimchi as it provides an extra intense flavor.  Kimchi jeon is usually served as a side dish, and sometimes as an appetizer.  My mom would make these for me, and I would usually eat them hot straight out of the pan.  I like to make mine miniature, about silver-dollar pancake size, as it makes it easier to flip in the pan and ensures a nice crisp.

Kimchi Jeon
Makes 8 miniature pancakes or 2 large pancakes

1 cup of Korean pancake mix (found at Asian supermarkets) or all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of 'mak' or napa cabbage kimchi (the older the better!)
1/4-1/3 cup of kimchi juice
About 1/3 cup of water
Vegetable oil for frying

Chop up kimchi into 1/2 inch pieces.  Mix the pancake mix or flour with the kimchi juice.  Add the water bit by bit until it forms a thick but runny consistency (similar to a regular pancake batter).   You may need a little more or less depending on the flour.  Mix in the chopped kimchi.  Heat a large frying pan on medium heat.  Add about two tablespoons of vegetable oil.  Once the pan is heated, spoon the batter onto the pan in 3-4 inch circles.  Fry for 5-7 minutes on each side.  Flip and fry for 5-7 more minutes.  I usually peek at the underside to make sure I see a touch of brown.  Enjoy while hot!

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