Mm, chaat

Sev Dahi Batata Puri 

Chaat is my favorite food group.

I could eat it all day, every day and not get tired of it. It’s bursting with flavor – sweet, spicy, crunchy, with each bite packing a punch. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by so many Indian restaurants so that I am always able to satisfy my chaat craving.

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten this week?

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

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The Counter

I had an amazing meal at The Counter earlier this week. They have the best sweet potato fries and a really filling custom veggie burger.

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What was the best meal you had this week?

A French-Inspired Evening

First stop: Paris Baguette 

So many delicious pastries to chose from.

A croissant, blueberry cream cheese pastry, and a cake donut

Next stop: Crepevine

The colorful menu written on chalkboards

The California crepe (bell peppers, avocado, sauteed onions, and cheese with chipotle sauce and salsa) with a side of potatoes and salad. True confession: I will order anything that has avocados in it.

Al this French-ness is making me wish I was walking on the Champs- Elysees at this moment. I guess downtown Palo Alto will have to do for now. I can’t complain too much when it looks like this.

I think trees should be lit up all year round (and not just during the holidays). Don’t you?

Fancy Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese sandwiches were my favorite growing up (along with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches). I still enjoy eating one, but like to think my tastes have refined a little. Now with gourmet grilled cheese all the rage (like at The Melt) it inspired me to experiment with a classic.

As with last time, I used ingredients that were already in the fridge to create a unique and flavorful sandwich.

The spread: Trader Joe’s sourdough bread, pepper jack cheese, pesto, and an onion

The assembly: I like making pieces of cheese so that it spread all over the bread, getting all gooey and oozes cheese.

The finished product.

Do you like grilled cheese? What is your favorite variation on the sandwich staple?

The holidays in pictures

The holidays are now officially over and starting today, it’s back to reality. I spent part of the break in the Bay Area and part of it in LA.

Here are some pictures of the past few days:

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Edible holiday decorations in the Fairmont Hotel

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My new Kate Spade iPhone case that I wanted

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Watching my ice cream being made in front of my eyes at Smitten

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The tree in Union Square, San Francisco.

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A pesto crepe, with salad and seasoned potatoes on the side from The Crepe House

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A Diddy Riese cookie sandwich in Westwood, LA

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Pretty decor at a Mexican restaurant in LA

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Currently on my nails: Essie’s Bangle Jangle

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My winter attire in LA: tights, a dress, and sandals. Can’t beat 80 degrees in December/January!

How did you spend your holidays?

Here’s hoping that 2012 is an amazing year for us all!

Holiday Goodies

So I originally intended to make this post much earlier in the week, but things got in the way.  It was only this morning I realized that my sweet obsessed brother and sister-in-law are coming into town tonight. So I frantically began baking.

I knew I wanted to make something from scratch and peppermint flavored. A few weeks ago, I was browsing on Pinterest and I came across the recipe for chocolate peppermint bark cookies.  I knew I had to make them. Here is the recipe.

They were surprisingly easy! A few adjustments I made: I only used 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter and 3/4 cup of sugar. I also put much less chocolate chips and candy canes than indicated, no white chocolate chips whatsoever and the end result was just the perfect amount of sweetness.

The final product. I used a knife to create swirly designs and cut them in unique shapes.

What are you baking for the holidays?

I wish you and your family a very happy holiday! Have a lovely weekend.

Holiday Host Gifts

Now that it is officially December 1st, it feels like an appropriate time to talk about all things Christmas related. I was so surprised to see how many stores were decorated for Christmas…in October! But now with a swift change of the calendar, I have fully embraced the holiday spirit.

Many bloggers are posting great gift ideas for family and friends. However, around this time of year come many holiday parties. It always nice to bring something for the host and hostess who have generously invited you over.

I love to bake and make homemade gifts. With these thoughts in mind, here are my ideas for affordable and homemade host gifts for the holidays, with a personal touch:

With every passing Christmas, my love for peppermint grows exponentially. Here is a great recipe that I plan on trying out myself this holiday season! Place the bark in a decorative bag or tin, either of which can be found at Etsy or Target.

Last Christmas, I made holiday cookies and found the holiday cookie cutters in the dollar aisle at Target. If you have a child, or a niece/nephew, have them help you with the decorating. They will love it! Be sure to make a little extra, because after carefully decorating I am sure they will want to eat a few. 🙂 Since the cookies are pretty in itself, they don’t need help in the presentation department. Simply wrap the cookies in some cellophane, tie it with a ribbon, and you are good to go.

Is there a more perfect winter drink than hot chocolate? I think not. Provide your host with all the essentials to make an amazing mug of hot chocolate. You can even cater to your host’s preferences, if you know them well enough. For instance, include pieces of shaved Andes mints for someone who loves mint. (Hint hint :)) Put all the items in a cute jar, add a pretty label, perhaps even a ribbon and hand it over to the host to enjoy!

For those of you that don’t like baking, this is the item for you. All it requires is some assembly but it is still just as thoughtful!

What is your go-to gifts for hosts during the holidays?

(All images courtesy of Pinterest.)