Posts in March, 2012

Tea Collection Baby Gift Sets

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

tea-collection-baby-gift-sets

One question I get asked all the time is, “what is a great gift for a new baby?” There are so many possible answers to this question but it is good to have a few go-to gifts so that you don’t have to think about it.

Sometimes I want to pick up something for someone at the office who has had a child or my husband’s co-worker who recently adopted a baby and I just don’t know what to get. I am not sure what style they like or where they are registered. Even for my close friends, I want to give them something extra special for their new bundles of joy. The Tea Collection Keepsake Box Gift Sets are a wonderful baby gift idea and so incredibly easy and convenient. You can skip the gift wrap and simply tie a pretty bow around the box and your done.

The set pictured above is one of my favorites because it can work for both boys and girls. My son wore one of these sweaters and it could not be any cuter. They also have sets with onesies and little outfits too for both baby boys and baby girls, like this one below.

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And of course who doesn’t love the unique prints and colors available at Tea Collection? I know I do!

Kate Spade Hold Court Quinn

Monday, March 26th, 2012

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Tennis anyone? Once upon a time tennis was my game and I have recently been dreaming of picking up a racket again. Kate Spade is getting us all ready for Wimbledon this year with their tennis inspired spring line. From tennis ball cosmetic cases to match point bracelets and this fun faux grass Hold Court Quinn tote bag – you’ll find perfect spring accessories you can enjoy on and off the court.


Spring Vegetable Frittata

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

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Spring Vegetable Frittata from Seasons Catering

Temperatures are slowly rising and daylight is increasing – spring is definitely in the air and I couldn’t be more excited! For me, spring is all about the vegetables; asparagus, artichokes, spinach, avocado, beets, herbs…the list goes on and on! Depending on your region, these and many more delicious spring vegetables are at your farmers’ market and ready to be added to this week’s delicious recipe!

In my house, we have a Monday night “breakfast for dinner” tradition, and this is one of my favorites. There are no fancy techniques involved and any combination of meats, cheeses, and vegetables can be substituted. My kids have a great time choosing and prepping the vegetables and we never end up with the same frittata twice!

Enjoy!

Vegetable Frittata

8 large eggs

3 tablespoons heavy cream

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 cup morel mushrooms, chopped

1 cup fresh spinach, chopped

¼ cup minced green onions (green tops only)

½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

1 tablespoon chopped green onions, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, ¼ teaspoon of the salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper until the eggs are frothy. Add 1/2 cup of the cheese and whisk. Set aside.

In a 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus and mushrooms until soft and lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the spinach and green onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Mix in thyme, remaining salt and pepper.  Stir in 1 tablespoon of parsley and with the pan over medium heat; pour the egg mixture over the vegetables. Cook, lifting with a rubber spatula to let the eggs flow underneath, until the edges are set but the middle still is loose, 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove from the heat and sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup cheese over the top. Place in the oven until the eggs are slightly puffed and the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes, watching carefully to prevent from overcooking.

Remove from the oven and carefully slide the frittata out onto a large serving platter. Garnish with the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley and the chopped green onions. Slice, and serve immediately.

Gabrielle Moes is the owner and executive chef of Seasons Catering and mother to three. She earned an Associate of Occupational Studies degree in the Culinary Arts from the California Culinary Academy and interned at the acclaimed A Pacific Cafe in Kauai. She spent 7 years as the executive chef of the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club before starting Seasons Catering.

Seasons Catering is a full service catering company dedicated to creating memorable events through its impeccable service, exquisite food, and creative presentations. They are proud to create menus to suit every catering need and budget, and are determined to maintain high standards of service and presentation whatever the event may be. Check out the weekly blog for insights and tips into the culinary world!


Burke Williams Spa

Monday, March 19th, 2012

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I recently endured the stress of applying to a number of private schools. (Technically it was my 5 year old son who was applying – but I did all of the work.) For those of you who have lived the process – you can sympathize with me how it brings back flashbacks to high school and those darn college essays. I was a bit of a wreck I must admit… A lot of the stress was self inflicted I know. But of course all of us moms talk and ask each other way too many questions so we spin and spin and stress and stress. I reminded myself that it was a huge financial decision (along with obviously being a personal one impacting my one and only child) so I felt that my stress was legitimate. By the end of the process my body was tied up in knots, my back ached and my shoulders and neck were so so so tight. I tried to remind myself that “it’s only kindergarten” but that did not work at all.  Luckily, I easily convinced myself that the only way to make myself feel better was to enjoy a day at the spa. Luckily, Burke Williams was just a phone call away.

I had visited Burke Williams twice before, once a long long time ago in Santa Monica and just a few years ago in Santana Row (San Jose). I was thrilled to have an excuse to go back to Santana Row. Burke Williams is a great spa for people who have a little extra time to enjoy the steam rooms, soaking tubs and sauna. All of these extras are including in the price of your treatment. I am a sucker for steam rooms. I just love them! So needless to say I sat in there for as long as I could endure as my private school stress just melted right out of my pores.

Then it was time for my massage and this time I opted for hot stones. I have to give a huge shout out and thank you to Trisha who did an amazing job working out my knots and getting me to such a relaxed state that I almost fell asleep on the table (literally!). It was a perfect combination of a really relaxing massage with just the right mix of warm rocks woven in throughout. In my very relaxed state I walked down Santana Row and enjoyed a late lunch at the Left Bank, an authentic Parisian-style brasserie. I must admit it was an all around perfect day of peace, quite and relaxation. I think you deserve one too!

 

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And in case you were wondering…my son got his acceptance letters last week – yeah! I think I need to celebrate with another trip to Burke Williams. This time I’ll try a facial and pedicure.

I also want to thank Burke Williams and Trisha for their generosity in treating me to this fabulous trip to the spa. I needed it!

Free Wedding Websites

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

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My husband and I are celebrating our 9th wedding anniversary next week so I definitely have weddings on my brain. It is hard to believe it has been 9 years! I have also been busy adding a few wedding pages to Sweet Peas & Stilettos so brides-to-be (and girls who just like to dream about their wedding day) can check out the cutest wedding invitations and save-the-date cards.

There was one thing we did not have 9 years ago – wedding websites! I remember mailing out packets of information to guests and sending out emails too. I love the idea of having a site where I could quickly post information for all of my guests.

I am thrilled to share the news that Wedding Paper Divas is offering FREE wedding website templates to match more than 40 of their bestselling wedding invitations. This means that you can easily create an ad-free personal wedding website complete with online RSVP capabilities and more—and keep it FREE for one year! It is super easy to pull together – you don’t need to know anything about website design to create a fabulous site. You can even create a custom site domain too. Get started now to ensure that everything will be beautifully designed and perfectly coordinated as you prep for your big day. Good luck!

Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

overnight-oatmeal

Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
By Seasons Catering

Nutritional experts have long referred to breakfast as the most important meal of the day, and rightly so. Hundreds of studies have cited that people who skip breakfast are more likely to have trouble with concentration, metabolism and weight. Personally, I have found that taking the time to make as delicious a breakfast as I do any other meal sets me, and my family up for a successful day. Unfortunately, with school-aged kids, the mornings can often be more frantic than the pre-dinner “witching hour”.

Oatmeal is one of my all-time favorite breakfast foods – steel cut oats, that is. Not to mention that steel cut oats are nuttier in flavor and chewier in texture, they also have several health advantages over their “rolled” counterparts. While rolled oats are steamed, rolled, re-steamed and toasted, steel cut oats do not go through any additional processing that cause them to lose flavor or nutritional value. They are high in fiber, a good source of protein and packed with vitamins and minerals. However, they also take much longer to cook. The 15-30 minute cooking time is often the reason people opt for instant oatmeal instead.

As luck would have it though, Seasons Catering has the solution for you! The following recipe is the definition of “nutritious and delicious”! Throw the ingredients into the slow cooker right before your head hits the pillow and wake up to an amazing breakfast and an incredible smelling kitchen!

Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oats
4 cups water
1 ½ cups apple juice
1 cup steel-cut oats
½ cup regular barley (not quick-cooking)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger or ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
2 medium apples, coarsely chopped
2 Tablespoons honey
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
Fat-free milk (optional)

Line slow cooker with a disposable slow-cooker liner or spray with non stick cooking spray. In slow cooker, combine all ingredients except pecans, brown sugar and milk.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 7 hours. Before serving, stir in brown sugar. Top with pecans and milk. Makes 8 servings.

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Gabrielle Moes is the owner and executive chef of Seasons Catering and mother to three children. She spent 7 years as the executive chef of the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club before starting Seasons Catering.

Seasons Catering is a full service catering company dedicated to creating memorable events through its impeccable service, exquisite food, and creative presentations. They are proud to create menus to suit every catering need and budget, and are determined to maintain high standards of service and presentation whatever the event may be.

Save the Date Cards

Monday, March 12th, 2012

save the date card tie and tiara mixbook
I’ve recently added a new page dedicated to fabulous wedding save the date cards. Please take a look if you are a bride-to-be planning your special wedding day – or if you just like to pretend you are. I have one section of save the date cards with photos and another set with creative and fun cards and postcards like this adorable one above from Mixbook. A little something for everyone. Enjoy!

Marsala Sausage & Peppers

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Easy Weeknight Dinners ~ Marsala Sausage & Peppers

By Gabrielle Moes, Owner & Executive Chef of Seasons Catering

Looking for a delicious weeknight meal that can be on the table in 30 minutes?  This dish is quick and easy, but still manages to develop amazing flavor and comforting richness thanks to the use of Marsala wine.

The versatility of this recipe is what I love the most, though. While it calls for sweet turkey sausage, do not rule out other varieties such as pork or spicy Italian. When you do your shopping, ask the butcher which sausages are fresh and locally made; using fresh and local ingredients is always your best bet at creating a masterpiece meal!

As I mentioned, this dish is versatile enough to keep in heavy rotation in your weeknight repertoire. Though the sky’s the limit, I have included below a few of my favorite serving suggestions for this recipe…Buon Appetito!

Marsala Sausage and Peppers

¼  cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage

2 red bell peppers, sliced

2 yellow onions, sliced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½  teaspoon dried oregano

½  cup chopped fresh basil leaves

4 garlic cloves, chopped

2 Tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup Marsala wine

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes

¼  teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

Directions
Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausages and cook until brown on both sides, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain.

Keeping the pan over medium heat, add the peppers, onions, salt, and pepper and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the oregano, basil, and garlic and cook 2 more minutes.

Add the tomato paste and stir. Add the Marsala wine, tomatoes, and chili flakes, if using. Stir to combine, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the browned bits. Bring to a simmer.

Cut the sausages into 4 to 6 pieces each, about 1-inch cubes. Add the sausage back to the pan and stir to combine. Cook until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes.

Serving Suggestions

Spaghetti Squash variation…While sausages are browning, roast 2 large spaghetti squash. In addition to peppers and onions, add 2 roughly chopped zucchini to pan. Serve over the roasted spaghetti squash.

~ Italian Sandwich variation…While sauce is simmering, slice 4 fresh Italian sandwich rolls in half lengthwise. Hollow out bottom portion of roll, taking care not to puncture through roll. Fill rolls with sausage mixture.

~ Polenta variation…Add 2 Tbsp capers to simmering sauce, serve over slices of roasted polenta and sprinkle with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano.

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Gabrielle Moes is the owner and executive chef of Seasons Catering and mother to three children. She spent 7 years as the executive chef of the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club before starting Seasons Catering.

Seasons Catering is a full service catering company dedicated to creating memorable events through its impeccable service, exquisite food, and creative presentations. They are proud to create menus to suit every catering need and budget, and are determined to maintain high standards of service and presentation whatever the event may be.

The Duchess of Whimsy

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

The-Duchess-of-Whimsy

The Duchess of Whimsy:  An Absolutely Delicious Fairy Tale, by Randall de Sève and Peter de Sève

Reviewed by Susan Fry

As my sons have gotten older, they’ve gotten pickier about who they’re willing to play with.  Kids who have been their best friends for years are suddenly boring, or bullies.  And forget about trying to include girls in anything.  Playdates that used to be carefree and fun have become downright challenging.

The other moms and I have tried everything from planning gender-neutral activities to meeting at parks to avoid toy tussles.  But at the end of some afternoons, I find myself demanding, “Why can’t you all just get along?”

So I’ve found myself reading The Duchess of Whimsy to my sons almost every night.

At the beginning of this witty story, it doesn’t look as though the Duchess of Whimsy and the Earl of Norm could ever get along.  After all, they’re completely different!

The Duchess is the life of the party, “known through the land for her extravagant soirees, her elaborate attire, her uncommon conversation, and her most peculiar pets and acquaintances.”  Her parties are enviable events:  fishes float in bubbles above crowds dressed in feathers and silk, and the Duchess frolics in a swing suspended by two fairies.  Even the Duchess’ hairstyle is over-the-top, with its grandiose, billowing waves.

The Earl of Norm, as his name indicates, is more down-to-earth.  He’s positively ordinary, in fact.  He’s far more interested in the kingdom’s roads than in fancy events.

Unsurprisingly, he makes the Duchess yawn.

So when the Earl falls in love with the Duchess, he tries to become more exotic to impress her.  The results are disastrous – and hilarious.  His display of unusual animals, for example, ends with the poor Earl clinging to the tail of a fleeing giraffe.  And his poetry?  Just terrible.

But then the Duchess’ cook gets sick right before a party.  The rest of her “fancy” friends run around trying to scare up elaborate ingredients, such as truffles and quail eggs, that don’t quite work out.  The Earl of Norm, on the other hand, makes a simple grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of milk.  Delicious!

The Duchess quickly discovers that ordinary things can be wonderful, too.  Soon, the two opposites discover they have a lot in common.  It’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

The romantic element is understated, which means the book isn’t too icky for kids who hate kissing.  And while there’s no overt magic in the story, the elaborate illustrations convey an otherworldly quality that will satisfy even the biggest fairytale fan.

Maybe the moral of the story can even spark some reconciliations on the playground.

Susan Fry is a writer and mother in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s written for Stanford Magazine, salon, the San Jose Mercury News, and many other publications.

You can check out the Sweet Peas & Stilettos’ children’s books page for quick access to all of Susan’s wonderful children’s book reviews.