Ada’s Frozen 5th Birthday Party!

Ada turned 5 last month! She reminds us daily that she is 5 now. We celebrated with friends and family in Frozen style, would you expect anything less? :)

I did all white food to make it feel like a wintry-snowy-land. Cauliflower & jicama with Ranch dressing for dipping. Powdered donettes, marshmallows (that everyone mistook for mints – so I’ll just do mints next time), turkey & Rondele cheese sandwiches with the crusts cut off. Sprite & water to drink!

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I borrowed all of my mom’s Christmas tree collection and I think they looked perfect around the cake! I used Duncan Hines Blue Velvet cake, my buttercream frosting, then topped it with rock candy (I saw the idea from a friend who saw it on Pinterest) and an Elsa. I’m so happy with how it turned out! Ada was in awe :)

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I made snowflake sugar cookies and had a station with frosting and sprinkles for the kids to decorate their own:

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Sweet girlfriends playing ring around the rosie:

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Matt’s dad surprised everyone and showed up as Olaf!

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All the party goers after the piñata. Did you know that they have piñatas now that you don’t have to hit? This one had ribbons that hung down and each person pulls a ribbon until you get to the one that opens it. Ours didn’t quite open enough and I had to rip it more, but I thought that was so cool!

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My big 5-year-old while all of her friends sang Happy Birthday to her :)

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I think we got all of the Elsas in this picture!

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We also had Frozen playing on the TV and had some impromptu singalongs with popcorn after all the food and cake. I’d say it was a success!

Happy Birthday sweet Ada! Thank you for making me a Mommy 5 years ago and teaching me so much. Love you baby girl :)

How to Make a Beautiful Cheese Plate

For my sister’s Bridal Shower, I also made a cheese plate. It was SO much fun to put together and really looked beautiful! One of my Nana’s sweet friends asked me if it was real, she thought it looked too pretty to eat :)

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Meghan, who co-hosted the shower along with her sister Hayley, had the beautiful wooden boards. I need to get some so that I can make a platter again in the future. My mom gave me the adorable forks and knives from Pottery Barn for Christmas & they are my favorite! They say, “Pick Happiness, Spread Love, Spread Joy, & Pick Love” on them. The teal cheese knives are from Anthropologie.

I used this article from Real Simple as a guide, then hit up – wait for it – Trader Joe’s to get all of my spoils! They really do have the best cheese selection in town for the best prices; and all of the sides as well. Here is what I used, I stayed pretty conservative but you could get crazy with the stinkiest cheeses you want!

How to Make a Beautiful Cheese Plate
 
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In France, cheese is served after dinner, before dessert. No matter when you serve it, a cheese plate is sure to please!
Author:
Serves: 12-24
Ingredients
  • Mild Cheddar Cheese
  • Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • Gorgonzola Cheese
  • Double Cream Brie Cheese
  • Goats Milk Gouda Cheese
  • Candied Pecans
  • Green, red, and black seedless grapes
  • Dried Apricots
  • French baguette, sliced
  • Water crackers
  • Multigrain crackers
  • Brioche toasts
Instructions
  1. Keep cheeses refrigerated until 10 minutes before serving time.
  2. Remove wrappers and arrange cheese on platter in a way that looks good to you.
  3. Place fruits and nuts in the spaces between the cheeses.
  4. Make sure you have enough knives and forks for each item.
  5. Slice bread and arrange along with crackers for serving.
  6. Enjoy!

 

Lorna Jane’s Nourish – The Fit Woman’s Cookbook

As a SweatPink Ambassador, I received a digital copy of this cookbook to review in addition to a promotional item. I made two recipes and photographed them. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.  

I was so excited to have the opportunity to review Lorna Jane Clarkson’s new cookbook! Lorna Jane is a fitness apparel brand based in Australia. I’ve seen their stores at Westfield Mall in San Jose and Paseo Nuevo in Santa Barbara. The day I shopped at the store in Santa Barbara, their air conditioning was broken and it was a really hot day! The sweet retail girl put a fan in the dressing room for me and brought me a bottle of cold water. Thank you for that!!

Looking through Lorna Jane’s cookbook, you have pictures of her in various workout attire and quotes on her food philosophy. It makes you want to hang out with her! I decided to go for one recipe that scared me and one that sounded like something I’d normally make.

The first recipe I tried was the Glow Elixir. It has all kinds of good-for-you veggies in it and no sweeteners besides some apple.

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To be honest, it was gross at first. Each subsequent sip wasn’t as bad, but I thought about wheatgrass and how you take a shot of it and get it over with, so I would treat this the same way. It’s good for you and it tastes that way! Very minty too.

Glow Elixir
 
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Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • ½ c. spinach
  • ⅔ c. water
  • ½ c. chopped cucumber
  • ½ chopped small apple
  • ½ chopped small carrot
  • 6 mint leaves
  • ¼ small avocado
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth. (I used the juice button on my Blendtec). Pour into glass and serve.

The next recipe I tried was Roasted Balsamic Tomato & Avocado on Toast. It was delicious!! I’m glad to have leftovers so I can make it again. The only thing I would add is salt on the avocados and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on the bread. I love the combination of the tart roasted tomatoes with the creamy goat cheese & avocados. In the cookbook, she has a recipe for a bread that she uses for the toast. I decided to go with a whole grain sourdough bread instead of baking bread.

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Roasted Balsamic Tomato & Avocado on Toast
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces cherry tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 4 slices whole grain sourdough
  • 2 ounces arugula
  • 1 medium avocado
  • 2 Tablespoons roasted walnuts (I forgot to add these...oops)
  • 1½ ounces soft goat cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 220°C/425°F.
  2. Combine tomatoes and vinegar in a large baking-paper-lined baking dish; season to taste. Bake about 10 minutes or until tomatoes are browned lightly and beginning to soften.
  3. Meanwhile, toast bread. Serve toast topped with rocket (arugula), avocado and tomato; sprinkle with nuts and cheese, drizzle with any pan juices from tomatoes.

Lorna Jane says that she, in true Aussie fashion, spreads some Vegemite underneath all of the other goodness on this toast. My dad used to fly to Sydney and bring home Vegemite. He would ask us kids if we wanted some chocolate and trick us into eating it!! So terrible! I like how she refers to the arugula as rocket, too. I want to start calling it that :)

Right now Lorna Jane is running a #LiveLoveNOURISH initiative and you can win:

 – A hard copy of NOURISH – The Fit Woman’s Cookbook!

– A $200 gift card to Lorna Jane!
Tweet: Join the #LiveLoveNOURISH initiative w/ @LornaJaneActive @FitApproach! Giveaway of: 10 NOURISH Cookbooks + $200 Gift Card to #lornajane!

I have to say I love my running top from Lorna Jane. It’s cute and different than any other workout tops I have. It’s got a little interest in the back!

I hope you enjoy these recipes and get a chance to check out Lorna Jane’s new cookbook. There are numerous other recipes, everything from omelettes to healthy desserts!

Tomato Basil Crostini

Crostini means, “little toasts” in Italian. Isn’t that cute?

These little toasts are easy to make and leave a huge impression on whoever you serve them to. Use good olive oil & cheese and fresh bread, basil, garlic, and tomatoes for the best results!

I love serving these along with a big bowl of pasta and a salad. It’s the perfect Italian dinner!www.karainthekitchen.com

Tomato Basil Crostini
 
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Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 6-8 slices of crusty bread (baguette or similar)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 12 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat broiler to 400 degrees. Slice bread into 1 inch slices and arrange in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Place under the broiler for 5 minutes, or just until toasted golden brown.
  2. Remove toast from the oven, and, using an oven mitt or towel, hold each toast while you rub a clove of garlic over the top of the bread. The toasted bread will grab the garlic as you run it across the top, leaving your bread with garlicky goodness in it.
  3. Place toast back on the cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Put tomatoes on the toast, split side down, and push down on the tops of the tomatoes to saturate the bread.
  5. Sprinkle with fresh basil and top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Enjoy!

www.karainthekitchen.com

Hasselback Bacon Potatoes

I’ve seen potatoes prepared this way and have always wanted to try making them. They look so pretty! I did some research and found out that they are named after the restaurant that created them, located in the Hasselbacken Hotel in Stockholm, Sweden. Now that you’ve had your history lesson, it’s time for your cooking lesson! Hasselback Bacon Potatoes

When I buy my bacon, I cook up the whole package in the oven and then freeze it. Alma Carson taught me that trick! Then you always have cooked bacon ready to go and can just zap it in the microwave without the mess and smoke every time.

Bacon Hasselback Potatoes
 
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Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 8 Russet potatoes, similar sizes
  • ½ cup grated cheese of your choice
  • 4-5 slices bacon, cooked and frozen, chopped
  • ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling
  • Kosher or sea salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven for 450 degrees. Grease a large baking pan and set aside.
  2. Scrub potatoes and pat dry. Place a wooden spoon on each side of the potato to prevent slicing all the way through it. Slice through the potato, making your cuts about ¼ in. thick. Rinse each potato under cold water, pulling the sections apart and letting the water run through each one. This will rinse the excess starch out and help the potatoes fan out while cooking. Dry the potatoes well and place in prepared baking dish. Stick bacon squares into random slices (I put 3-4 in each potato). Sprinkle the cheese over the potatoes, opening up some of the slices to get the cheese down in there.
  3. Drizzle the olive oil over all of the potatoes, followed by salt. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through and the skin is nice and crunchy.
  4. Remove from oven and let cool, serve warm, and enjoy!
  5. These froze well after being individually wrapped in foil and placed in a freezer baggie.

www.karainthekitchen.com

Teedo’s Famous Salsa

This salsa recipe comes to you from the talented & adorable Jenny Flake of Picky Palate. Her cookbook, The Picky Palate Cookbook, is totally on my wish list! This recipe is her dad (who she calls Teedo)’s famous salsa and I can see why…I’ve made it twice now and it is awesomely unique. The secret of the consistency is the avocados. Mmm!

Teedo's Famous Salsa

Julie over at Table for Two shared this recipe before Super Bowl Sunday, which was the first time I made this. It was a total hit, everyone just stood around the bowl and ate the salsa. If you’re a spicy fan (not me) you could add a jalapeño to give it a kick, but I adore this salsa as is. Talk about easy & delicious…enjoy!

Teedo's Famous Salsa

Teedo's Famous Salsa
 
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Author:
Serves: 10-12
Ingredients
  • 1 14.5 ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 10 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 2 avocados, pitted, peeled, and mashed
  • 1½ cups chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor bowl and pulse until desired consistency is reached.
  2. If you have any left after serving, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator where it will keep for up to two weeks.

 

 

Chicken Salad Endive Cups

On Valentine’s Day, this beautiful bouquet of endives arrived at my door! California Endive Growers sent them to me, and I couldn’t have been more pleased. Thank you so much!! I made this salad with some them, and decided that I’d make a chicken salad to eat the rest of them with. It was a fabulous idea…you should definitely try it!Chicken Salad Endive Cups
The endives are already the perfect little utensil. Just scoop some salad in, and eat the whole thing! You can be like Gene Wilder in Charlie & The Chocolate Factory when he drinks the tea and then eats the dandelion cup and saucer :)Chicken Salad Endive Cups

Chicken Salad Endive Cups
 
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Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 4 cups cooked chicken, cubed
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 teaspoons grated onion
  • 1 cup seedless red grapes, sliced in half
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ⅔ cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • Juice of half a lemon (more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Combine chicken, celery, onion, grapes, and almonds in a large bowl. In a separate, small bowl, whisk together the mayo, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pour dressing mixture over the salad and fold in until all of the ingredients are coated. Spoon chicken salad into individual endive leaves and arrange on platter. Serve & enjoy!

Chicken Salad Endive Cups

California Quinoa Salad

I found this recipe on Pinterest and actually made it! I have so many recipes that I’ve pinned and never made. Thank goodness I did though, because it is incredible. Evidently it’s a Whole Foods salad knock-off, I’ve never had theirs though. This salad is so good that I am already looking forward to eating it for lunch tomorrow! Note to parents: my girls didn’t like the “Queen-Ah” all over their food, so I would set aside a plate of things they’ll like (mangoes, raisins, edamame, almonds) before you mix it all up.

Isn’t it beautiful? So many colors! Reminds me of my friend’s mom who used to tell her at dinnertime, “You don’t have enough colors on your plate!”

California Quinoa Salad - www.karainthekitchen.com

California Quinoa Salad
 
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Ingredients
  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1-2 mangoes, diced
  • ½ large red onion, diced
  • 1 medium to large red pepper, diced
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1-2 cups shredded coconut
  • ¾ cup unsalted, dry-toasted* slivered almonds
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 cups frozen edamame, thawed
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • 3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
Instructions
  1. Rinse quinoa thoroughly, then place in a medium pan.
  2. Add water and broth and bring to a boil.
  3. Turn heat to low and cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
  5. Fluff with fork and spread on waxed paper.
  6. Spread frozen edamame on waxed paper on top of the quinoa to help them thaw out.
  7. Mix all ingredients in the largest bowl you have and enjoy!
  8. *toast almonds in a dry frying pan over medium heat until fragrant and warm, careful to move them around so they don't burn

California Quinoa Salad - www.karainthekitchen.com

Green Chile & Cheese Canapés

Green Chile & Cheese Canapés - www.karainthekitchen.com

These are perfect for a football game or party! Super simple to assemble, and make a ton of appetizers. I was a little heavy-handed on the cheese mixture and would not put as much next time. Yummy combination that went perfectly with Tortilla Soup!Green Chile & Cheese Canapés - www.karainthekitchen.com Green Chile & Cheese Canapés - www.karainthekitchen.com

Green Chile & Cheese Canapés
 
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Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • 1 cup low fat mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • 1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 4 oz. can chopped green chiles
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 baguette of French bread, thinly sliced
Instructions
  1. In a bowl, combine the mayo and cheese. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the chiles and garlic. Spread the chile-garlic mixture on each bread slice. Top with a tablespoon of mayonnaise and cheese mixture. Place on a baking sheet. Broil for about 3 minutes, or until bubbly and slightly browned. Place on a tray & enjoy!

Foodbuzz Day 2!

I’m finally getting around to posting about day 2 of the Foodbuzz Festival in San Francisco. The recap of Day 1 is here.

I was SO proud of myself for navigating the mess of bus lines that got me lost last year! Would you look at this map? Oh dear. I was stressed out that I wasn’t going to make it in time for the TCHO Chocolate factory tour. Thank goodness the guy stopped and picked me up, the bus was packed and he wouldn’t pick anybody else up the whole way! Once I made it to the Embarcadero, I had to run a few blocks to make it in time. My flats were actually not that bad to run in, until the next two days when I had the WORST shin splits of my life! It killed to be in heels at church the next day.

I made it to TCHO in the nick of time & got to go on the tour. Here’s our lovely tour guide. He was interesting, talked really fast, and was very informative. He had this little microphone that didn’t really help us hear him any better, and kept moving it to take sips of his tea. I loved learning about cocoa, the process of making chocolate, the different ways it’s infused with flavors, and touching cocoa butter and cocoa beans. I also really appreciate how closely TCHO works with their farmers and how well they treat their employees!

What’s a chocolate factory tour without one of the best TV scenes involving chocolate?!

They didn’t allow any pictures to be taken where the chocolate magic happens, but it was so wonderful. Did you know that they only let women package their chocolate? Any guesses as to why? The answer is that women have a lower basal body temperature and can hold chocolate a second or so longer than a man can before it melts. You learn something every day!

After the tour, they let us sample all of their high-quality chocolate. I am a milk chocolate girl through and through. But what he taught us was that to eat chocolate the right way, you must use all five senses. 1. Look at the chocolate 2. Snap the chocolate in half so you hear it 3. Feel the chocolate in your hands 4. Smell it 5. Taste it. Now tasting means letting it sit on your tongue and melt for a bit. This changed how I view dark chocolate! I actually enjoyed quite a few of the dark pieces we sampled because I let it melt on my tongue and dissolve instead of biting into it. The 99% cocoa was AWFUL though. I ran to the trash can and spit it out. No amount of melting could help that puppy out.

After the TCHO Chocolate factory tour (which had no Gene Wilder or everlasting gobstopper involved, bummer), I walked downtown to shop a bit before my mom came to meet me. We met up for the Taste Pavilion and sampled food after food after food!

Here is the famous Chef John Ash, behind a beautiful Alaskan halibut. They served it in a coconut curry sauce that was absolutely perfect & my mom’s favorite.

My favorite were the crab cakes! Oh my goodness. They were the best crab cakes that I have ever had in my entire life! The wonderful people at Alaska Seafood have perfected them. I was so glad that we got some first because I heard they ran out and/or people were too full by the end! Mmm I could go for one or three about now :)

I am a total fan of Naked juice and drank it all through my pregnancy with Lola. I had to have some of their orange juice every morning! They had this mango juice that was insanely sweet and had NO added sugar in it. Incredible!

The cupcakes from Mission Minis were so moist and the perfect size. I kept the two spiders and brought them home for my girls :)

After all of the chocolate tasting and all of the food at the Taste Pavilion, my mom and I headed to Nordstrom to shop for a bit. They had a huge event going on and we got our makeup done! Here I am with Bobbi, who I’ve followed on Instagram for over a year now! I was SO happy to meet her in real life and it was crazy feeling like I know her so well but having never met in person. Here we are with our final makeovers!

I am so disappointed with myself, I didn’t take any pictures at the Gala with my hair done or all of us dressed up! We had a minor car incident, then tons of traffic, and my phone died, so I wasn’t really focusing on pictures. But I did take a few at the dinner of the food. It was held at the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park and was stunning!

My favorite was the artichoke ravioli with ginger soup, pictured below.

The mushroom & onion pizza was my favorite from this plate, nothing else was a standout. For dessert, my favorite was the pot de creme in the tiny mug!

I had so much fun this year and am excited by all of the new people I met and connections I made. Thank you DailyBuzz Food for a wonderful event! I have another awesome giveaway coming so stay tuned! :)