Monday, February 28, 2011

Movie Review: Marie Antoinette

One of my favorite movies of all time is Marie Antoinette (as directed by Sophia Coppola). My favorite time period for decor and clothing (but definitely not hair) is the late 18th century. While I don't think decorating a house in this style looks anything other than gaudy and showy, I love visiting museums and old houses to look at housewares and fashion from a time when everything was made with such care as if it were art.

To that end, while Marie Antoinette is not the most historically accurate film (it's told through a very modern lens, with modern language, music, and other influences), it is visually stunning. Two other movies, The Duchess and The Young Victoria, have a similar feel to them, but nothing is as spectacular as Versailles. And this movie only makes me want to go to France that much more.

For anyone unfamiliar with the basic story, while America was fighting for their independence, a movement was simultaneously growing in France to protest the opulent and disinterested monarchy. Versailles was a grown-up theme park with frequent parties and bountiful leisure activities. The movie is set on this backdrop. While angry crowds protest at the gates of the palace grounds, Marie wades her way through trying to learn how to be a Parisian princess, early marriage with a stranger, and eventually becoming queen.
At first Kirsten Dunst's Antoinette is nervous and selfish. Then she is frustrated and selfish. Then something changes and while she still does not completely redeem herself, you start to see that maybe she wasn't so selfish and spoiled after all, but just a young girl trying to figure herself out and grow up. As her husband says at one point, "God help us, for we are too young to rule." And you get the idea that that's what Sophia Coppola was trying to get at. Maybe the last royals of colonial France were not horrible rulers, but just kids in a grown-up job. Very ill prepared and inexperienced. And how does that not differ from our lives today and the roles we all try to take on at a young age? Well, other than the fact that the fate of thousands if not millions of people depends on the daily decisions we make. And if we mess up, we don't have to deal with angry protesters and a date with a guillotine.

Despite the heavy subject matter, the movie doesn't feel heavy until the very end as Marie and her family leaves Versaille. And if you know anything about history, then you know where she is headed.

After everything, though, the movie's plot is not spectacular. The acting is not spectacular. If anything, it's all mildly entertaining enough so that you'll be amused, but not completely blown away. What really makes the movie is the scenery and the costumes. You can oooooo and aaaaaahhhh all you want and not feel guilty about it or spend thousands on a trip to France to get the real thing. And while you may not get much much obvious inspiration with the decor and clothing (because really, why were 2 foot high wigs ever in fashion?), but you will find some inspiration here and there if you know where to look.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Online Garage Sale- Special Edition

Items will be listed with their price and details, when it is sold "SOLD" will be listed underneath. Everything will be shipped via USPS. You can pay via PayPal or credit card. If interested leave a comment and I will email you an invoice and information on how to pay. If you really want an item and it's a bit out of your price range, leave a comment with your email and we can discuss it. You have 72 hours to respond/pay otherwise the item will be up for grabs again.

Thanks and happy shopping!

David's Bridal wedding dress - NEVER WORN - $200 (50% off)
Size 2, ships from NY (option for pick up), shipping $20.

Online Garage Sale- Phase 3

Items will be listed with their price and details, when it is sold "SOLD" will be listed underneath. Shipping will vary based on size and weight of the item ($1-15) Everything will be shipped via USPS. You can pay via PayPal or credit card. If interested leave a comment and I will email you an invoice and information on how to pay. If you really want an item and it's a bit out of your price range, leave a comment with your email and we can discuss it. You have 72 hours to respond/pay otherwise the item will be up for grabs again.

Thanks and happy shopping!

$10 - H&M Skirt
Size 6 - Short (you'd have to wear with leggings or tights)

$25 - Red Printed Collared Dress
Size Small
Worn once, perfect condition

$13 - Forever 21 Mint Green Dress
Size L but fits like a Medium
As seen on me here.

$12 - Forever 21 Teal Halter Dress
Size Medium but fits like a Small
Worn Twice

BCBG Art Deco Dress - $200.00 (abut 50% off original price)
Size XS - Worn once

$100 - Jessica McClintock Gown
Size 6, Worn Once

What did I wear today? #3 - One shirt two ways

Recently I went to Sway in Santa Cruz and found the most amazing shirt. Considering my budget right now is $5 or free, at $30 it was a splurge. But I was too in love to not walk away from it. I can wear it with jeans, skirts, shorts, slacks, and...I think that covers most bottoms. But you get the point. Here's two really easy looks I crafted around the current shirt of my dreams.

PS. Please excuse my faces, I realize when I am thinking very intensely about getting the right light and angle so things don't turn out dark or blurry I have a hard time trying to smile legitimately. Tyra would be so disappointed.

Look 1:

Perfect for a summertime brunch?

Shorts: Express circa 2007
Shoes: Modcloth

Look 2:

For work.

Blazer: Surprise! Surprise! In London circa 2004
Capris: Banana Republic Outlet last year for $15
Shoes: One of my favorite pairs ever by Steve Madden circa 2007-8

Friday, February 25, 2011

Update on Online Garage Sale

As soon as I figure out how to sell things, I've got about 50 items lined up to sell. I don't think I can do Etsy (don't fulfill their requirements), but I'm trying to figure out how to work Paypal. If anyone understands how that works or can tell me another really easy website to use it would be most appreciated. Thanks!

Spring Trend Alert!

Even though Fall 2011 fashion week just happened in NYC, most of us are thinking ahead to Spring (and after the weather this winter has brought why would we want to think to a time where it will start to get cold and gross again?). As always I turned to my favorite magazine, Harper's Bazaar, for some photos from last Fall's Spring 2011 preview. Here are some of the big trends they pointed out.

Bold colors and mixing prints

I honestly think I would wear any one of these outfits. It's the mods meet the housewives!

The Seventies and sixties

Light, soft, and airy silhouettes

I loooove this dress. Doesn't it seem so unfair that designer goods cost more than a car?

Some other trends that you may or may not have picked up on from the pictures are of course florals (because the Spring would not be complete with out them), high waisted pants, and denim. And as you can see even the flowy things have structure (specifically a very 60s and 70s one). I have to admit, the 70s trend is catching on me more and more lately. I'm much rather have looks like this than the fluorescent ugly ones of the 80s.

Lookout for an entry coming soon about where to find some of these looks for cheap.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Walnut Avenue Cafe

A few weeks ago we had absolutely gorgeous weather in the Bay Area. As much as I love and miss having a true winter, I love the Spring just as much so it was extremely exciting to have 70+ degree weather in January. Now that we have Charlie, Nick and I are really into going places that we can take him with us. So we got up way early one Saturday and went into Santa Cruz (my new favorite place) and walked around for a bit before getting lunch at the Walnut Avenue Cafe.

I had searched for restaurants in Santa Cruz the night before because I've now been to two different places and wanted to find something new to visit that wasn't on the main road. Walnut Avenue is one block away from the main street in Santa Cruz, but I would not have noticed it had I not purposely kept my eye out for it online.

Obviously, as mandated by the law and by the gorgeous weather, we sat outside and ordered an amazing brunch. WAC's food has a lot of traditional hearty American fare. But while they have a lot of familiar staples, many of the items one up the basic options. Not just french toast, but french toast with bananas, walnuts, and whipped cream. And not just a hamburger but a pesto burger or a burger with blue cheese. I'm not sure if you've noticed by now, but Nick and I are really into traditional food with a kick. So this homey restaurant was definitely our cup of tea.

For the life of me I can't remember what Nick got, maybe the mushroom burger or the veggie melt? Either way, he loved it. Normally I'm the one who gushes over food and says how good it is, but this time it was Nick's turn. Don't get me wrong, though, the whole reason I can't remember what he got was because I was so busy gushing over my own meal of Ahi Tuna Benedict. Eggs Benedict is one of my all time favorite meals (I will usually ask for a crab cake or smoked salmon instead of Canadian bacon), but this one was over the moon fantastic. The sauce was amazing and the hashbrowns were so good I didn't even mind that I forgot to ask for french fries instead (although the fact that Nick had some of their amazing fries on his plate made up for that too).

We stuffed ourselves until we could stuff no more and begrudgingly did not look at the dessert menu. And when we paid the check, Nick forgot his credit card behind! It wasn't until we were over 30 minutes away walking with Charlie in one of the redwood filled state parks that we realized it. But after a quick phone call the manager mailed us the card and pretty much guaranteed without a doubt we'll be back again.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Yet another Napa Entry- Two very different tasting rooms

I feel like I should add a disclaimer to the following entry. Please excuse how disjointed and short it is. My brain is completely fried right now. I've been trying to work on this all week but because of some really difficult tests (and a dog with an upset stomach) I am exhausted and can barely string two words together in normal conversation, let alone a blog. Sorry if it's a little dry!


One of the really nice things about going to Napa was the town itself. It's a decent size with lots of cute little places to check out (like that cupcake place, tons of restaurants, and boutique shops). The Saturday we walked around we armed ourselves with a wine tasting card ($35 for 10 cent tastings at 12 different tasting rooms) and tried to visit as many places as possible. We were out of the inn from about 11am until about 6 and didn't even get to see everything. We went to half of the tasting rooms, and I have to admit we were pretty sloshed by the end of the evening. I'm glad I remembered that the tasting card doesn't expire until the end of the year and stopped us from visiting all the rooms in one day (which some people who obviously had a much better tolerance than either Nick or I).

Of all the rooms we visited our very first stop, Wineries of Napa Valley, was our favorite. The server was extremely friendly and knowledgeable. Between the two tasting sessions we chose and the free glasses we got with the card, we already had 12 wines to try but we were pointed in the direction of several other wines (all from local wineries) that were amazing. We ended up purchasing a dessert wine that we're saving Easter to serve after dinner with cheese (I know, we're so snobby!). We definitely plan to go back next time we are in town and since it's dog friendly we'll even bring Charlie.

One of the last tasting rooms we stopped off was Uncorked at Oxbow. We were warned that the later it gets in Napa, the more busy the rooms get. Considering we were still out right before dinner on a Saturday night it doesn't surprise me that there were a lot of couples, girls, and groups out for a pre-dinner drink. Uncorked had a more laid back crowd and that reflected the feel of the tasting room itself. While we were exhausted and hungry, and in all honesty a little cranky, it was still worth the visit. Uncorked features local musicians and has some instruments set up for various events they have, so it's got a little bit of a folky-rock-n-roll feel to it. I know that's something my family will appreciate when we take them there this summer.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Online Garage Sale?

I'm considering selling some of the items from my closet. Things that I love, but don't wear, and want to make sure they go to a good home. I'm just not sure if people are interested enough. Sizes generally run from XS-Medium (0-8). Accessories too; shoes are 6 1/2-8. Thoughts?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

So besides being 2/3rds of the title of a rare Beatles record and a movie staring Sophia Loren, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow is a quick survey I used to really like doing in previous blogs. Just a snippet of how things have been going lately.

Yesterday I...
1. Got the results back from one of my tests. I did a lot better than I was expecting.
2. Went vintage shopping at the Salvation Army with my friend Brandi, got a really great 70s shirt for $2.33.
3. Finished off the mac and cheese I made for Valentine's Day. That means today I have to cook, and I'm really in the mood to veg out in front of a TV with take out.
4. Watched 5 episodes of Glee. (Last week I became a Gleek.)
5. Woke up in a funk, but went to bed in a much better mood.

Today I...
1. Am really annoyed because Nick slept in (he's working from home), and Charlie rewarded him with a poop and pee on the floor downstairs.
2. Got a lot of little administrative things done like getting the tax paperwork ready for Nick to scan for our accountant, school soccer stuff, and some school work.
3. Will watch more Glee, because I got so much of that little stuff done.
4. Decided I am going to have an 80s themed birthday party for my birthday this year. People must dress birthday is 1 1/2 months away.
5. Wish I had something to do that didn't involve being at home. I'm going a little stir crazy.

Tomorrow I...
1. Have absolutely nothing planned. Usually this means one of two things, lazy day or cleaning. Should probably clean.
2. Really hope Charlie does not go to the bathroom in the house again.
3. Really hope Batman isn't so whiny around Charlie. Let's take another step towards a happy harmonious family!
4. Will force myself to go to the gym.
5. Will do some reading for school and maybe color.

Yeah...a little morbid.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chocoholics Anonymous Meeting

My dad is the kind of chocoholic who roams around the house from room to room looking for some. He comes home at the end of the day and just needs his fix. Growing up at least twice a week I would be visited by him. He'd stand in my doorway with this guilty little kid look on his face and say, "you got any chocolate lying around?" If he asked my brother, he'd get lucky and the answer would be yes. My brother loves chocolate, but he's like my mom and likes to savor it. One little bit at a time, and a whole candy bar might last him two weeks. Me on the other hand, I always said no. I love to savor my candy, but in the moment. That stuff never lasts long once I get my hands on it. I just can't say no to a good thing.

My dad is not the kind of chocoholic who appreciates really interesting good chocolate. One year, for Easter, my mom bought him this gorgeous bunny made by Christopher Norman, who is more like an artist than a chocolatiere. He just popped the whole thing in his mouth and ate it. "Yeah, that's pretty good," was his response. And my mom was so pissed she never bought him anything from there again.

I, on the other hand, would have taken a picture of it, blogged about how good it was, and then devoured it while saying in between each bite how it was soooooo good. (Nick is really sick of me saying that every time I have a food I really like.) And because I'm a good wife (and do feel guilty when I eat a lot of crap) I also would have shared it with Nick who would have enjoyed it just as much, but would not have been as vocal about it.

So if you're like Nick and I and really love specialty chocolates (think truffles with flavors like milk lavender, dark caramel orange, cabernet, passion fruit, and rosemary) that are as colorful as a bouquet of flowers, here are a few of my favorite stores to shop at (all of which you can conveniently order online from).

The downside to these places is that they aren't cheap. But they are all so rich and delicious. A box of 6 truffles split between two people is more than enough for a decadent dessert that won't leave you feeling overstuffed and super guilty.

Probably my all time favorite, located in South Barrington, Illinois but available in Whole Foods and other gourmet shops. I may try really hard to convince the next person who throws a party for me to get the favors from here. Anna Shea's colors are so beautiful, it's almost too difficult to eat.

A shop in the Cow Hollow section of San Francisco which features many chocolate makers from all over the globe. Truffles, chocolate bars, and much more.

Located in the financial district of New York City (and also available in Whole Foods and all over), chocolate is treated like an art form. Immaculately wrapped boxes and abstract paintings in bar form that remind you of Jackson Pollack almost make you want to frame each piece.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Artesa Winery

When Nick and I started planning out our anniversary trip my friend, Brooke, kept going on and on about her favorite winery, Artesa. I have to be honest, I normally don't follow up with recommendations that people give me. I like to do research myself and go based on what I think Nick and I will like. I know that's really stubborn and rude, but I've noticed that most people say, "Oh, I really love this place," rather than think about whether or not you will like it. But with Artesa, enough people recommended it (and Brooke was practically in a frenzy over it), that I figured we would give it a shot. I am extremely glad that I listened to someone else for a change, because we really loved both the property and wine at Artesa.

The property itself is set on top of a hill far off the main road. Driving there you pass many small mom and pop places and long rows of vines. Even though Artesa is one of the more popular spots, it really makes you feel like you're in the heart of wine country off to find some special treasure. Then the actual winery is atop a few staircases. It reminded me of climbing to the top of a Mayan pyramid (not that I've ever done that, but it had the same shape to it). Except there were gorgeous fountains and green yards. The one downside was that you were not allowed on the grass. A popular thing to do in Napa is to buy a bottle of wine and have a picnic somewhere on the grounds of the winery, and it would have been amazing to lunch next to this:

and look at this:

But unfortunately that was out of the question. There is an area near one of the fountains that you can sit at, though. And if you go before noon you will have some peace and quiet while you sit and stare out at the valley.

As for the wine, it was the only winery we bought two bottles at, and we had to try really hard to narrow it down to just those two. The prices were in the middle range of most of the places we went to with most bottles from around $20-$40, but also going up much higher. I generally do not like red wine, but even I found two bottles that I liked. And Nick found a bottle of white that he didn't think was half bad either. Unfortunately the woman who was our pourer was a little curt and rude (Nick and I are extremely friendly people and can chat up anyone, but this woman just frowned at us or gave us a blank expression most of the time), but she still gave us several extra tastes of things that were not on the tasting menu.

The building the winery is in is very chic and modern (which fits with the rest of the property), and has a few private tasting rooms (although they are closed off by glass so you can see inside). Aside from the two wine bars, there are also a few small tables to sit down at if there is no space at the bar. The gift shop offers a lot more than most wineries do. Wine paraphernalia, art, chocolate, etc. There is also a resident artist, Gordon Huether, who displays his smaller works as well as large sculptures outside. As a tip, if you go to his gallery is downtown Napa and mention you plan to go to Artesa they may give you a two for one tasting coupon.

All in all we really liked Artesa, and despite the chilly service, we plan to go back any time we're in town and take the family too.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Another update on the farm

Now that Charlie has been home for almost three weeks, I figured I would give you another (more positive update) about our progress integrating him with the cats and in life in general.

Long story short, Lulu has come a really long way. About a day after my last post she started being much more tolerant of Charlie. She is still not thrilled when he licks her face, but we caught her rubbing up against him once and will not run away if he lies down near her. The two of them are now sleeping on the bed with us every night (usually Lulu is with Nick and Charlie is with me (he's essentially taken Batman's place which has Batman extremely pissed)). She has started to play with her toys again and even drops them in front of Charlie too as if to say "you wanna play?" But he's not allowed to because he tries to eat them. Plastic mousies and feathers? Not what I want to deal with right now.

Lulu has even become much more loving to us. She always was my little shadow, but lately she's been sleeping on my pillow when I sit on the bed with my laptop or she has slept in between us near our shoulders instead of our feet. Considering how scared she was of Charlie, I'm shocked at how fast she became okay with him and how she has passed Batman by leaps and bounds in terms of tolerance.

Batman on the other hand spends most of his time sleeping in Nick's closet or staring out the back door. He and Lulu have started playing with each other again, but I'm not sure if they've been cuddling or not. We take Charlie out a lot to give them space (also to get Charlie socialized), so obviously I don't know what goes on when I'm not there, but I know I don't come upstairs anymore to find them doing this:

I wonder if Batman is not only jealous and angry that Charlie is stealing attention (and always wants to sniff him whenever he comes out), but is he also upset because Charlie seems to be stealing his lady friend?

Charlie himself is doing much better in the house too. He still has accidents, but we've managed to go days without them, or only have 1 a day instead of 2. We learned some tips from his trainer about how to prevent them, although we haven't really figured out how to tell when he needs to go. All the tell tale signs we read about describes his basic everyday behavior, so it doesn't help. Right now we just try to keep him in the room with us and not go near the front door unless we're definitely taking him out.

He's also getting better around people and other dogs. Still barking, but he's been warming up faster, remembering who his friends are, and has been soooooo much better with other dogs. If the dog is aggressive or gives off a scary vibe he still gets upset, but he'll at least approach most dogs now instead of being scared of everything that's not us.

So we're making progress, which is making me happy. The last thing I need is to be stressed out over this little guy:

Monday, February 14, 2011

What did I wear today? #2

I took this picture (or really Nick did) up in Napa on our mini vacation last month. I wore this outfit again recently, but I liked this picture of it better. (I can hide my messy bedroom more easily!)

Sweater: Modcloth (a gift for my anniversary)
Blazer: Vintage tweed, Salvation Army - $3!
Jeans: Express Circa 2006
Boots: Steve Madden (I must say, I had another pair from Nine West that I wore 4+ times a week for 2 years that lasted longer than these did (5 months). One already has a lot of wear in the heal. Can't put them on in the rain anymore.)
Belt: Uniqlo Circa 2007
Purse: Lord and Taylors, another clearance with a coupon, got for about 65% off
Sunglasses: Marc by Marc Jacobs (birthday gift)


Hope you have a Happy Valentine's Day! I'm actually kind of excited this year, although it's not like we have much planned. I have class until 7 and a big test tomorrow at 9:30, plus I don't have a job. So I am just making my smoked gouda mac and cheese, some pesto, garlic, cheese bread, and already made Shrewsberry Cakes, we'll probably crack open a bottle of wine from Napa and watch a cheesey movie. But I'm still looking forward to it. A nice dinner, and some time where we will be forced to pay attention to each other instead of a textbook, computer, etc. will be really nice. And how could I not look forward to that?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Restaurant Review: S'mac

Years ago I was wandering around the Lower East Side of NYC and stumbled upon S'mac with a friend. We both loved macaroni and cheese so we went inside, hoping for the best but not expecting much. Just because someplace smells good, doesn't mean the actual food will be good. And really? A whole restaurant purely devoted to one kind of food? How was that going to work?

Well, the food was great. And four and a half years later S'mac is still in business and growing. From a very small menu, to one that has doubled in size with gluten free and vegan options, you can get anything from a very traditional creamy mac and cheese to very fancy. And they're all delicious. So you can go with your picky eater kids to get the very basic All-American, and you can get a more grown up version for yourself. Just look at some of the creations:

NAPOLETANA - Fresh Mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic, and fresh basil.

PARISIENNE - Creamy Brie, roasted figs, roasted shiitake mushrooms & fresh rosemary. (This one they clearly make just for me.)

CAJUN - Cheddar & Pepper Jack cheeses, andouille sausage, green pepper, onions, celery, garlic and, of course, some genuine Cajun seasoning.

They all look so good, how to choose just a few to put up here? You can even build your own. I think my perfect one would be a take on the Parisienne. Blue cheese, brie, rosemary, figs, and bacon. Yeah, you know I like the heavy duty stuff. I think I'd feel full for a week after eating that.

The restaurant itself is very small and cafeteria like, so it might not be the perfect romantic date spot. But you have the option for delivery and to take it cold home so you can heat it up yourself. So why not create the perfect romantic date at home? Or just stroll in wearing your sweats or hanging out with a bunch of your friends to remind yourself of what it's like to be a kid, eating a way better cafeteria lunch than you could ever get at school.

It's a shame there is only one picture of the food on their website, because they all look so amazing in real life.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Jenny and Johnny: I'm Having Fun Now

Some of you might know Jenny Lewis as part of Rilo Kiley, The Postal Service, or from her own solo albums. Now she has added another act to her growing resume, a folk rock duo with her current boy friend, John Rice. According to their website, the first album was written mainly while on tour and was originally supposed to be just a few demos but the creativity flowed like a waterfall and a full album just came out.

I have to be honest, I love Jenny Lewis but the first time I listened to I'm Having Fun Now I wasn't sure what to think. Many times I listen to an album and it takes me a few times to get into it. Usually I'll focus on a favorite song or two and then expand from there. This was definitely one of those records for me, but after 3 or 4 listens I almost immediately fell in love and for the past month this has been a constant in the CD player in my car. I still really don't like track 5, but other than that, every song is a great pop tune worth of singing along (which I often do as I drive around...and I think the Californians think I'm crazy).

The songs are full of satire and humor (which you would expect from Jenny Lewis at this point--think of her as indie rock's Lily Allen). In the past Jenny has taken shots at politics, materialism, and love and she continues to do that. And the melodies play just like the lyrics. Bouncy, fun, with a bit of nostalgia in the mix.

The key to this album is that it's stripped down and it's real. Jenny and Johnny's voices blend really well together in their harmonies. You can hear all the instruments and the effects serve purpose. It's the way music used to be, before it became over produced and flashy. Folk, rock, pop, and maybe a bit of country. There's a little bit of everything for everyone. It's definitely worth a listen, and while I've never seen them live I've heard the show is amazing too.

Standout Tracks: Switchblade and Big Wave

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chocolate Orange Sandwhich cookies

For Christmas we (I) were gifted with an amazing cookbook from Nick's sister, 1001 Cupcakes, Cookies, & Other Tempting Treats. After a quick flip through on Christmas I was so excited to get home and bake some things from it. With recipes like Banana Caramel cookies, Peanut butter Cupcakes, and goat cheese and scallion muffins I knew I could bake something different every week for 5 years, never repeat, and always be happy.

So last week I went on a cooking spree (part of which resulted in the Mini Chicken Pot Pies) and made Chocolate and Orange Sandwich Cookies from one of the recipes in the book. They looked amazing and everyone who tried them (which was a lot because I made them to share) said they were delicious. So I am sharing with you the recipe, with my tweeks of course.


For the cookies:
- 1 cup butter softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 3 1/2 oz. (100g) semisweet chocolate finely chopped (I chopped up chips, you definitely need to chop them up, though because in full chip form they are too big for the cookies)
- 2 tsp zested orange rind (I may have only used 1 1/2)

For the frosting:
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 7 oz (200g) white chocolate (again I used chips)
- 1/2 tsp orange extract
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line baking tins with parchment paper (if you can don't use a baker's stone. I am without one baking sheet right now and using the stone made the edges of the cookie thin and crumbly).
2. Mix together butter, sugar, and orange zest in a bowl until light and fluffy. Then add the vanilla and egg yolk.
3. Sift flour and cocoa together before adding to the mix. (I personally think the sifting is really only important for the cocoa). Add chopped semi sweet chocolate.
4. Once mixed well, scoop out cookies with a tablespoon and roll into balls and place on cookie sheet. Then flatten the tops with the back of a spoon. If they stick, dip the spoon in water once in awhile.
5. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool completely before icing.

Before icing we had one extra and we got to split it. Soooo good.

6. Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan then immediately remove from heat. Stir in the white chocolate until mixture is smooth. Then add vanilla and orange extracts. I also added food coloring because I wanted to let everyone know the cookies had orange in them, and it made them look ready for Halloween. I'd imagine you could make them red for Valentine's Day, green for Christmas, purple for Easter, and yellow for the summer.
7. The book didn't say this, but when mixture is completely cooled, whip up on high speed.

Before being whipped...not such a good looking frosting center.

And after...that's much much better!

8. Spread on cookies when everything is cooled (otherwise the icing will melt and go back to being liquid). Don't be stingy when spreading. It doesn't look like a lot of icing, but I actually had a little bit left over. Great on French Toast.
9. Keep in fridge if not being eaten. But why would you want to not eat them?

Finished product. Dangerous!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Restaurant Review: Rioja

If you're looking to have a special night out in Denver, Rioja might be the place for you. After reading the reviews on Yelp (which are only modestly average) I was really surprised. This restaurant (another that serves happy meat), was absolutely fantastic. From the bread basket (you get to choose amongst several different kinds including one with rosemary and another with lavender and goat cheese) to the dessert everything we ate was fantastic.

Located on the main street in downtown, the restaurant offered outdoor and indoor seating in a very modern and chic dining room. After driving for 8 hours and in dingy clothes, I felt a little out of place, but we still had great service.

The menu changes seasonally so I can't get the specifics of what we ordered, but Nick ordered a chicken that was some of the best chicken I've ever eaten in my life (and you know I don't like chicken). I ordered a ravioli dish that was phenomenal. For dessert we split their beignets made with goat cheese and figs and a port wine reduction sauce. I didn't think I had space to eat them all, but I made room for that. It was nothing short of amazing. mom bought me beignet mix last time she was in New Orleans, maybe I need to make them tonight for dessert because I don't think I'll stop thinking about Rioja's beignets until I have some.

Ok, now for some pictures from the website of their food!

I dare you not to book a trip to Denver.
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