Scallop and Cucumber Salad

News flash--two posts in two days during crunchtime! But I can't help myself. Since I needed a simple but tasty dinner tonight, I finally got around to trying a cucumber and scallop salad from the New York Times. I think it's worth while to watch this video for the instructions. If you don't have the time, here is the recipe.

A mandolin slicer, which I don't currently have, would have really sped up the process of making the salad. Nonetheless, it was fairly quick, and I actually like to have my cucumber slices a bit thicker and crunchier. I didn't add as much vinegar or salt as the recipe called for, but I like it just the same.

The toasted sesame seeds are listed as a garnish, but in my opinion, they're actually a major ingredient. I really like the nutty taste that they bring.

Next time, I'll need to add a bit more salt to the dressing, and crack some black pepper over the scallops as they cook. Even so, tonight dinner was very satisfying. :)


Easy Caprese

This summer has been a busy one! I've been juggling multiple cases heading to trial at the same time on a shortened schedule. Sadly, this means far fewer opportunities to cook, and during meals out with the trial team, sometimes I end up bringing home leftovers that I'm not even home long enough to consume. I'm ashamed to say that I've had to throw out some leftovers. The good thing about living with other people is that they can at least benefit to some extent from the leftovers and eliminate waste.

While time for cooking was lacking, my body's demands for a homemade meal increased. When I eat out too often, my body just doesn't feel quite right. I needed something fresh and cleansing. That's where my basil plants, in conjunction with Trader Joe's and the local farmer's market, come to the rescue.

The basil plants have grown quite well in the planter boxes in the back yard and yield an abundance of nice big leaves for me, even in the face of bugs that love them too. After spending 5-6 bucks for the mozzerella cheese log and tomatoes (either heirlooms from the farmers' market or the awesome brown kumato tomatoes from TJ's), I can make enough caprese to feed me for a couple of meals, or feed myself and the roommies. Prep time takes 10 minutes, at most.

Instructions are simple--slice tomatoes and put them on a plate, then slice up the cheese and lay them on top. Roughly chop up the basil leaves and cover up the cheese and tomatoes. Crack some black pepper over that, drizzle some olive oil and balsalmic vinegar, and you're done.

Caprese was especially refreshing on the many hot nights we had this summer. I also played around with a different variant, since I had some cucumbers and cut-up bread left over from a Hollywood Bowl jaunt. I layered the pieces so that they resemble more of an appetizer. Instead of cutting up the basil leaves, I left them whole and stacked them between slices of cucumbers. It was good, though a bit difficult to eat because the bread was so thick. Next time, I'll slice the bread thinner and toast them.

OK, back to the grind...



Yesterday was a very social day. During the early afternoon, I went to a bridal shower at a Ritz-Carlton. In the evening, I had a raucous time with a group of friends over Korean BBQ. I wanted to wear something that would be classy for the first event, but not risk getting ruined by oil and smoke that night.

So what did I do? I wore an H&M dress to the Ritz-Carlton. Oh yes, I did.

[H&M dress, DKNY heels.]


Home Entertainment System

I haven't had the time or space to entertain for quite some time. Finally, I found a window of opportunity to just do it. It was so much fun.

I invited the girls over for a clothing swap and brunch. At first I was a bit apprehensive about how I was going to cook all that food and make the place look nice for my esteemed guests, especially because I overslept, but things all turned out quite well. The day before, I went to the Farmers' Market to pick up a few bunches of flowers to make an arrangement. It turns out there was enough for two. Usually the flowers are the center of attention while the greenery serve as a backdrop, but I decided to turn the tables this time. This is the arrangement that graced the dining table (it was later moved to accomodate more hungry guests):

Quite a bit of French Lavender was left, so I stuffed them into a round vase and put that on the coffee table.

The cooking went off without a hitch, but it did take some conscious planning. I started with the chili first because it needed to slow-cook. After the chili-cooking was underway, I primped, snapped a few shots of the flowers, and washed some dishes associated with the chili cookoff. As it got closer to the scheduled start time, I started cooking sausages and applewood smoked bacon. While the meaty stuff cooked, I beat some eggs together and scrambled them. Everything came out piping hot by the time the guests were ready to eat.

My friends brought over corn muffins, croissants, strawberries, a dip for snacking a bit later on, and champagne for mimosas. After we ate, we played dressup. It was really fun! Having a successful event alleviated my anxieties about entertaining in general. I'm already looking forward to hosting another get-together, hopefully sooner rather than later.


Shining Through June Gloom

Helloooooo my pretties! Sorry I've been gone for far too long. Life in the past year has been crazy to say the least--lots of changes, lots of responsibilities, and not enough time for everything. Now that daylight lasts longer, I'm far less restricted in terms of when I can take pictures.

June Gloom is a very Californian phenomena. One would think that June is a summer month, but oftentimes it doesn't feel like it. The skies would be cold and gray for most of the day, followed by a brief appearance by the sun in the late afternoon. The mood gets depressing, and it's difficult to figure out how to dress for the cold mornings that could transform into hot days at any given moment.

Today was one of those days. It started off rather chilly and gloomy, but sometime after noon, it progressively got warmer. Time to wear the bright red shorts, crazy tights, and light layers up top:

[Forever 21 bow top, Blake ruffled cropped jacket, Gap shorts, House of Holland suspender tights, old Ray Bans, Ciao Bella booties.]

Although most people associate me with electric blue, I have come to discover that red is a pretty flattering color for me. When I saw these red shorts in a Gap ad, I knew that I had to get them. Thanks to a sale plus a couple of coupons, I got to bring them home sooner rather than later. These red shorts go well with a pretty camisole, a t-shirt, a tank top, a sweater...just about everything. The suspender tights simultaneously complement and contrast with the shorts--the colors contrast, but both are mischievously delightful.

Color can cure June Gloom, and so can plants--seeing them grow makes me quite happy. I bought this huge basil plant from Trader Joe's for $3 about a couple of months ago. I feel very fortunate that I live in a place where there is room to help them grow. I also inherited some green onion plants from a relocating friend. Today, I made an effort to rescue a dinky basil plant that had been growing by my bedroom window. Hopefully it'll make it!