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

Vegetable Quinoa Summer Salad

We all hear about eating more whole grains. We’re supposed to cut out bleached flour, white bread, baguette, and all other things delicious for more natural products. Working at a food website this summer has made me wonder: what’s really the benefit?

Vegetable Summer Quinoa Salad

Well, according to Whole Grains Council, studies show that eating whole grains instead of refined ones may reduce risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease and will help control weight. According to, refined grains are enriched with B vitamins like riboflavin and folic acid after processing. Fiber is not added back into the grains. While I’m only 19, I still believe that the best defense is a good offense. Building good habits now is the most important thing I can do to hope for a log, healthy life.

Substituting whole grains for other grains in a well-balanced diet is the perfect remedy. I’d love to know, what are your favorite whole grains and recipes?

Vegetable Summer Quinoa Salad

This weekend at the grocery, I came across this Seeds of Change Microwavable Quinoa and Brown Rice. Instead of microwaving it, here’s what I did:

Quinoa Summer Salad (makes 2 servings)

1/4 white onion, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 small yellow squash, chopped
1/4 red bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon oil (I used canola)
1 pouch quinoa and brown rice (+ 2 tablespoons required water)
1 tablespoon goat cheese, crumbled
3 sprigs arugula, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper

Heat oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Add onions and a pinch of salt; cook until translucent. Add zucchini, yellow squash, and red pepper, and cook until browned. Add pouch of whole grains plus water required on package. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat.

Once a bit cooled, transfer into a bowl and add goat cheese, arugula, and crushed red pepper. (Rough chop crushed red pepper to bring out the flavors.) Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Vegetable Summer Quinoa Salad