Baked Zucchini Fries

The possibilities are endless with the vat of tomato sauce I brought back to school after Easter. After a few rounds of pasta with tomato sauce, I was ready to switch it up. My obsession with zucchini is pretty obvious (see here and here), and when I saw delicious-looking ones at the grocery store, I knew they’d go well with my mom’s sauce.

Baked Zucchini Fries | netflix & nutella

 

P.S. I painted that plate, and it’s one of my craftier accomplishments.

Recipe via The Girl Who Ate Everything (I found that mine needed a little longer to cook to get crispy, and I turned them over after about 15 minutes on the first side. I took them out 5-7 minutes later.)

Baked Zucchini Fries | netflix & nutella

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Monday Mélange: The Small Things

In the more stressful times – and in times where you don’t see things going your way – it is important to remember the little things. The smell of fresh rain on concrete, the taste of the first ice cream of the season, the moments you see loved ones succeed. I’m trying to remember to appreciate the good things instead of dwelling on the bad. Here are some ways I do that:

1) Indulge. It’s ok to have a crème brûlée every once in a while. It won’t kill me.

Crème Brûlée | netflix & nutella

Crème Brûlée for a French event

2) Nature. Appreciate the vibrance of the colors in nature this time of year, and don’t overlook the beauty and simplicity of all of the green.

All the small things | netflix & nutella

Flower from the Biltmore

3) Sunlight. Sunlight gives me an extra jolt of energy. Embrace sitting outside and away from technology.

All the small things | netflix & nutella

Greenhouse roof at the Biltmore

4) Simplicity. The Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina exude natural simplicity. It’s hard not to be completely wrapped up in its beauty.

All the small things | netflix & nutella

Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina

5) Hard work. My dad tells me it doesn’t matter where you go to school or who you know. Hard work is the most important thing you can do to achieve your goals.

Biltmore | netflix & nutella

Biltmore estate near Asheville

 

Monday Mélange: Tastes of Home

I’m convinced that I have heightened senses. Walking down the streets of Paris, I always knew when a bakery was nearby due to the indescribably intoxicating smell of butter. Smells bring back memories for me; whether it’s the chalky smell of fresh paint that reminds me of the number of apartments my family moved to in Manhattan or the sweet musky smell of the Redwoods we would visit in San Francisco, smells bring me right back to places and moments.

I surprised my family this past weekend for Easter. My mom made all of my favorites (some of which I shamefully requested). These tastes – along with many others – bring me right back to being a carefree kid again, something that grows more and more comforting as I grow up.

P.S. PLEASE excuse the poor photo quality. I barely had time to pull out my iPhone for these photos before I dug in!

1. Tiramisu – Ahhhh. Little pillows of lady fingers that have absorbed coffee liqueur. Clouds of mascarpone and whipped cream. Chunks of chocolate on top. Bliss? Bliss.

Tiramisu | netflix & nutella

2. My Mom’s Hash Browns – I added these to my blog about a year ago, but nothing can compare to the ones made by the creator herself. They’re slightly crispy, still tender, oniony, paprika-y…you get the picture. They’re delish.

Hash browns | netflix & nutella

3. Cheese Soufflé – Cheese. Goat, cheddar, brie, Boursin, parmesan. If it’s cheese, it makes me happy. That’s all there is to it.

Cheese soufflé | netflix & nutella

4. Anything from Corner BakeryThis spot has been a favorite of ours since the beginning of time. The chocolate chip scones and brioche are to die for (as is the raspberry almond bar below). So is the corn and barley salad I get every time I come home. It has a little bit of a bite to it and has a scallion vinaigrette that’s so light and perfect for summery days.

Corner Bakery | netflix & nutella     Corn and barley salad | netflix & nutella

5. Gigi Salad – This delicious mix of shrimp, onion, string beans, bacon and roasted red pepper brings joy to my mouth in every bite. The name maybe reminds you of the Leslie Caron character, but to me, it’s the salad my mom makes every spring and summer that I can’t get enough of.

Gigi Salad | netflix & nutella

*The blood in my veins: My Mom’s Tomato Sauce. Something that – if there’s any justice in the world – should be jarred and on shelves one day. (I’ll work on it.) Since I was driving and not flying this time, she gave me a vat to bring home. I (not so willingly) shared with my friends in a first-night-back-chicken parm dinner to show them how spoiled I was growing up.

Chicken parm | netflix and nutella

Monday Mélange: Plain Jane

Growing up, my dad used to call me Plain Jane. It was 100% true when we went out to eat; at any restaurant, it was pretty much plain pasta or roasted chicken for me. But when my mom cooked, I would eat pretty much anything: broccoli, pork, lamb, seafood and more. I can still hear her saying “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.” As I’ve grown up and travelled more, I realize I like things I thought I didn’t like, and then I go into binges of not being able to have enough. Here are some of my favorite dislikes-turned-likes.

P.S. You can expect to never see mayonnaise or blue cheese on this list.

1. Brussels sprouts  – Roasted, crispy or shredded in salads, I can’t get enough of Brussels sprouts. I first warmed up to them when my mom served them topped with bacon on Thanksgiving. In the words of Ina, “How bad could that be?”

roasted Brussels sprouts

roasted Brussels sprouts

2. Chickpeas – This is still a recent development, but in curries, hummus or fried like in this salad, chickpeas are becoming one of my new favorite things.

The Root Trackside salad with crispy chickpeas

The Root Trackside salad with crispy chickpeas

3. Pineapple – I used to think pineapple was too sweet, but after my trip to Nicaragua, I realized it’s the perfect mix of filling and hydrating. Ree Drummond’s guide to cutting a pineapple on Pioneer Woman helped me more than she knows.

Ree Drummond's guide to cutting pineapple

Ree Drummond’s guide to cutting pineapple

4. Walnuts – I used to hate when desserts had walnuts in them, but they’re so perfectly buttery and crunchy, I was really missing out. I also love them in salads or to snack on for some protein.

Chocolate tort with walnuts that I need to try soon

Chocolate tort with walnuts that I need to try soon

5. Truffles – I first had truffles on my dad’s pizza and pasta, and they were definitely a taste I acquired with time. Now, I can’t get enough of the parmesan truffle fries at a restaurant near my school. I love the idea of bundling them together with prosciutto like this.

prosciutto-wrapped truffle fries

prosciutto-wrapped truffle fries

Monday Mélange: Everyday Vices

Rainy Mondays are just cruel. I woke up this morning to my alarm and could have sworn it was 5 a.m because it was that dark outside. But no – just a downpour. It’s days like this – and weeks like these – that make it really hard to stay focused and driven. With only about a month and a half of school left, I indulge in a few of my daily vices to keep me going:

1) Cupcakes. They’re pretty, always delicious, and make me smile. This past weekend, I was visiting friends from Paris in D.C. We stopped by Baked and Wired for one of D.C.’s most famous cupcakes. The long line moved pretty quickly, and even the memory of this strawberry cupcake is brightening my day.

Strawberry cupcake, Baked and Wired | netflix & nutella

2) Friday Night Lights. I fell in love with this show my senior year of high school, and rewatching it from the beginning is the perfect distraction. Riggins is so damaged but lovable, and I find myself easily falling in love with him again every episode. All the seasons are available on Netflix.

Friday Night Lights | netflix & nutella

3) New York State of Mind. I’m using one of my favorite websites, Serious Eats, to make a list of bakeries, restaurants, and bars I have to try this summer when I’m back in NY. I’m having serious cabin fever, so daydreaming of pizza, great baguette, and Shake Shack will do for now.

Serious Eats, NY | netflix & nutella

4) The Notebook. This soundtrack always puts me at ease and helps me focus on work.

5) Shopping. I can’t help it. After doing some spring cleaning, I’m realizing that having that same blouse from the 9th grade probably means it’s ok for me to do a little upgrading. Instead of splurging on 10 items at Forever 21, I’m trying to me more aware of the fact that being in my 20’s means investing in some essentials. So even though I get less bang for my buck, these classic pieces will last. P.S. Macy’s is having an awesome shoe sale… don’t mind if I do!

Steve Madden sandals | netflix & nutella

*The Food Network. It’s supplementary to the top 5 because – who am I kidding – nothing can compare. Even as background music to doing laundry, the Food Network makes me smile. What better vice is there?

Pioneer Woman | netflix & nutella