Made :: Almond Cakes and Green Beans with Snail Butter

Okay, I'm slowly recovering from my "missed meeting David Lebovitz opportunity." Cooking from his new cookbook, My Paris Kitchen, is helping, plus it's a lot of fun. So far I've made Green Beans with Snail Butter (no snails are involved,) Almond cakes with browned butter, Croque-Monsieur, and tonight Individual chocolate cakes with dulce de leche and fleur de sel. gotta share these with the neighbors though, too many sweets in my house is no bueno.
Everything has been delicious. My husband can't stop eating the mini almond cakes. I think I may have browned the butter a little too long, but they really are the perfect little tea or coffee cake.

The green beans though are my favorite... so far. The recipe is simple and can easily be adapted to your liking.

Green Beans with Snail Butter (adapted from My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz)

1/2 lb. or so of green beans, tips removed
2 Tbsp of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of fresh flat leaf parsley
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 tsp of kosher salt
ground pepper (fresh if you have it)
any other seasoning you might like, just try not to over season

Put a steamer basket that fits into a saucepan. Add enough water so that it reaches the bottom of the steamer basket. Cover and heat until the water is at a low boil. add beans and steam until tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove the beans from the basket and allow them to drain on a kitchen or paper towels.

In a large skillet melt butter over medium to high heat. Add garlic and cook until it begins to brown, 2-3 minutes. Stir in parsley, salt, and pepper. Add green beans and stir until the beans are cooked to your liking (I like mine a little crunchy still, so this part was very quick) and coated with the garlicky butter. Serve and enjoy.

xo, jen
note: according to david the snail butter simply refers to the garlicky butter that is often used when baking snails.

David Lebovitz Was Here... and I Missed Him.

David Lebovitz was in Santa Monica this past weekend and I missed him! totally beyond my control. This was a huge disappointment. Almost two years ago a couple of girlfriends and myself went to Paris and a lot of the eating portion of our trip was planned based on posts read on David's blog. It was amazing. He was spot on. We had so much fun trying to find our way around the city, trying new things, and relishing in every delicious bite. That trip was so special for us and for part of it, we thank David. I'm so sad we missed him.
However, I do take comfort in the fact that I was able to check out his new cookbook, My Paris Kitchen, at one of the local libraries. This is another one that will be bought.

It's a beautiful and fun cookbook. David is a wonderful storyteller. The book is not only filled with mouth watering recipes and some gorgeous photos, it's David telling us a story. The story of his life and adventures with cooking in Paris. He brings the reader to his Paris. This could easily be your night time reading material. I mean who doesn't want to be transported to Paris before they fall asleep. So far I've tried two recipes and will share them here tomorrow.

xo, jen

p.s. if you're in the bay area you're luckier than you know: David will be there this weekend and throughout the week doing book signings and dinners.

Learning New Things : Watercolor

Do you enjoy learning new things? I love it. Online learning is huge and although I wasn't a huge fan when working on my Masters, taking creative classes online is great. It's nice to be able to work from home, at your own pace, and also have instructor feedback. Now there are a lot of great free video tutorials online, but again, having instructor feedback and available to answer questions is so valuable.
Since watercolor is something that I find beautiful and would like to dabble in, guess what I did today? Signed up for an online class through Nicole's Classes! finally I can use these watercolor items a friend gave me. The class starts next month and I'm excited to learn something new.

Have a wonderful Easter weekend!
xo, jen

p.s. nicole's classes has 30% off classes until the end of April.
p.s.s. Tillamook is on tour and giving free ice cream all weekend. See if they're at a location near you.

Sherman Oaks Ralphs is Now Open!

Last week a handful of bloggers, including myself, were invited to tour (and post about) the new Sherman Oaks Ralphs which is now officially open! The community is happy and with good reason. This store is like no other Ralphs you've been in or will ever be in. Imagine the best of Whole Foods, a cool modern designed space, and any of your other favorite local fresh marketplaces all rolled up into one and you have the new Ralphs. It's an experience.
As you enter the store the produce department is right in front of you and it's large. There's even a new fresh herbs selection. Not only was it big, but it actually looked fresh. You know how sometimes when you're looking at produce, the selections look like they came from the bottom of the barrel? Well, not here. Fresh, extensive organic selection, locally grown, and sourced! beautiful
Sometimes we get so busy and thinking of what to make/ have for dinner can be daunting. You don't want fast food, don't want to sit at restaurant, don't want to cook, you just want to go home and have a fresh meal. This Ralphs has you covered. Fresh prepared meals you can bring home, heat, and eat. There's also a sushi station where you can order fresh sushi. bonus: they also have seating so you can chat with friends, have a cup of coffee, go over your grocery list, etc.

The bakery and deli is pretty impressive. They've partnered and brought in Murray's Cheese and Rustico Soups and Artisan breads in addition to La Brea Bakery.

There's even a healthy selection of gluten free and vegan baked goods. very important nowadays.
Most mainstream grocery stores have limited shelf space for "ethnic" foods, including kosher items. Until now I've never seen such a large selection of kosher deli, kosher bakery, kosher kitchen, etc. The store even has a Mashgiach! If kosher is what you desire, take a look here.

The meat department is my fave. As you know, when time is on my side, I enjoy cooking and trying new dishes. When I grocery shop I go to a couple of stores because the meat quality and selection at our neighborhood stores are not the best. Meat quality is very important in my house and we pay a little more at WF because the quality is better. Now this Ralphs offers the type of quality and variety we're looking for. One stop shopping, love it! oh and i love that they call the butchers "meat professionals."

What can I say about the flower department other than it is beautiful. It's like being in a "proper" flower shop. The variety and vibrant bouquets do not look like your typical  grocery store bouquets. translation: men and women it's okay to buy flowers for your loved ones here.

Expanded wine selections, gourmet food items, great parking, friendly staff, oh my! There's so much to this store and if you're local to the Sherman Oaks area, stop by sometime and experience Sherman Oaks Ralphs for yourself.
xo, jen
As a thank you for my participation and post, Ralphs provided me with a Ralphs gift card and gift bag. All content and opinions are my own.

Flower Power

Sometimes in life we stop to smell the flowers, but have you ever stopped to think about how powerful flowers are? Flowers have the power to make us smile, can change the whole look and feel of a room. Flowers have the power to make one person forgive another. Now that's a lot of power!

One workshop offered at Craftcation was Fresh Flower Accessory. Although unable to attend, I did reap a benefit. One of the ladies, Mary, that I met gave me one of the accessories she created with fresh flowers. It was a hair clip made with lovely yellow baby marigolds (?)  I vowed to wear the clip each day until the flowers died. Everyday that I wore the barrette, I not only received countless compliments, but I got to meet and connect with women I may not have otherwise met. It was a real conversation starter. The flowers are now dead, but while they were alive and being worn, they possessed the power to connect people. Thanks Mary!

xo, jen
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Craftcation 2014

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending Craftcation in Ventura, CA. It was my first time in Ventura and attending the conference. BTW,Ventura is beautiful.
Craftcation is for crafters, creatives, makers, of all sorts, from hobbyists to professionals. There were many crafty type of workshops and business classes, a little something for everyone. I chose more of the business track classes. These classes/panels were led by professionals in specific areas. A lot of great information, trends, tips, how-to's, insight into having a creative business were shared. My head is still spinning, but in a good way. The conference was pretty amazing and fun. It was really cool to see and connect with so many creatives in one place. This is definitely a conference I'd love to attend next year.

xo, jen
p.s. highlights from the conference later this week.