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How To: Antipasti Platter


How to arrange a FAB antipasti platter in 3 easy-ish steps…

AntiPasti Platter

Step One: Go to the store and buy good quality Parmesan cheese, fresh mozzarella balls, assorted charcuterie (I like salami and prosciutto),small tomatoes, marinated vegetables, fresh basil and marinated olives. Oh and a good loaf of bread and some crackers or flat bread.

Step Two: Make these secret weapon slow roasted tomatoes. Slice the mozzarella and sprinkle with salt. Crumble the Parmesan into big chunks.

Step Three: Arrange all the ingredients on a big platter in sections, garnish with fresh basil and serve with sliced bread and crackers,


I could just eat this for dinner actually.



Weekend Brunch



ham and cheese waffle recipe



Happy Friday, loves!

We’re serving brunch restaurant-style this weekend.  How do these menus sound to you?  Links are provided whenever possible.

xx Sarah


Fresh Fruit Plate
Cheddar Biscuits
Bacon and date scones with a maple glaze
Eggs anyway with bacon, sausage or smoked white fish
Sauteed mushroom, herb and goat cheese quiche with side of mixed greens
Truffled egg toasts with asparagus and fontina cheese
Lemon ricotta poppy-seed pancakes with warm maple syrup


Fresh Fruit Plate
Cheddar biscuits
Hot oatmeal and berry parfait with a brown sugar crust
Eggs anyway with bacon, sausage or smoked white fish
Chilaquiles-homemade tortilla chips dipped in tomatillo salsa and topped with a baked egg and pepper jack cheese
Soft scrambled eggs with caviar and creme fraiche
Ham and Cheese Belgian Waffle with warm maple syrup


Baby Shower Pictures


Last week my sister and I hosted a baby shower for our sister-in-law.  The “guestbook” was a thumbprint tree from Bleu de Toi.  There’s even a baby bird snuggled in between the mama and the papa where the parents can stamp the baby’s thumb.  Adorable!

We set the bar with striped straws, snapdragons and baby pictures of the parents-to-be and their mothers.

mimosa bar

Fresh tangerine and ruby-red grapefruit juice plus prosecco for making your own mimosas.  We also had iced bottles of French lemonade, sparkling fruit sodas, homemade peach iced tea and sparkling water.  The bar tablecloth was pink and blue because we don’t know yet if the baby will be a boy or a girl.

Recognize those nuts?


My mom made her now-famous crab dip which we served with homemade potato chips.  For lunch we had 4 kinds of quiche: a classic Lorraine, spinach and cheddar, broccoli and cheddar and sweet potato with Swiss chard and goat cheese.

baby shower gifts

Goodies for the mom-to-be.

Goodies for the guests: mini English toffees my mom smuggled in her suitcase from FoodStuffs, our favorite gourmet foodshop back in Chicago.

Next week, the games and prizes. Hint, the theme was the word “baby.”

Tell us, do you have any experience throwing baby showers?  What worked well and what didn’t?  More importantly, are you an aunt?  I’m getting very excited about that!

Have a wonderful weekend!

xo Sarah


5 Easy Ways to Save Your Greens


basic green soup

The kitchen has its own dirty word.  I’m sure you’re familiar with it, have said it or felt it hanging in the air.


Please say you are as guilty as I am.  That you’ve tossed a rotting piece of fruit you forgot was in there.  Or shoved wet, wilted greens deep into the trash so you wouldn’t see them and feel bad about not taking the time to saute them.

It’s the greens that get me.  They are so hearty and alive until they just aren’t anymore.

No more. Rescue your greens!  Do it quickly before they turn.   Freeze them or make a quick frittata, green smoothie 1, green smoothie 2 or this basic green soup.  Creator Anna Thomas calls the best tasting medicine in the world.

Forget “eat to live or live to eat.”  Liven it up with a Parmesan snowfall and a drizzle of good olive oil and you’re doing both.  Not to mention keeping  your mouth clean.

Do you have any tips for saving greens?





Breakfast 2012



Brunch table

Happy New Year!

When I threw back the covers yesterday morning, I had two things on my mind: breakfast and my New Year’s resolution.


We’ve talked a lot about breakfast, you and me.  We’ve shared apple pancakes and Lydia’s gorgeous panettone french toast, puffed pancakes, puffers, morning muffins and plenty of eggs: soft-boiled eggs, eggs in purgatory and fried eggs.  It’s safe to say we enjoy our -uffs and our eggs.  (Oeufs!)


We’ve even shared oat bran.  And that little ‘ol nutella panino you all liked so much.


Why all the breakfast talk? It’s my way of getting the ball rolling. I’m anticipating many a client breakfast this coming year and would love your thoughts on the matter.


So do share.  What’s your absolute favorite breakfast/brunch indulgence?


And that New Year’s resolution?  To focus more on the task at hand.  Breakfast seems a good place to start.

We’ve missed you,


A Decade in the Food Life: 2001 vs. 2011


Hi A & O faithful, this is Drew, Lydia’s husband. Since the year 2012 is fast approaching and certain doom lies ahead (the Mayans stopped counting!), it’s now or never for finally writing that guest post on my favorite blog. It’s hard to believe, but 2012 will also mark a full decade since Lydia and I graduated from USC—that’s Southern Cal not South Carolina to all y’all Southerners. My diet has changed drastically over the last decade, partly from maturity, mostly by necessity. Maybe some young stomachs can be saved by what I’m about to reveal.

2001’s breakfast odyssey consisted of two options. Bacon and eggs, or this:

Breakfast of Champions? No. Breakfast of the Future Gluten Intolerant? Yes.

I know, I know. It’s shameful, look away. 2011’s breakfast is the healthy-ish cousin of both options. Two eggs over-easy served on top of a slice of Rudi’s gluten free cinnamon raisin toast. The caffeine is sadly no longer supplied by Coca-Cola, but from a homebrew of the world’s best espresso: Intelligentsia’s Black Cat. We top ours with a little coconut milk. When my beautiful talented amazing wife makes breakfast it looks a lot more appetizing and she usually sneaks in a few vegetables, so I’ll share a kale and squash frittata she made a few weeks ago:

Follow lydiahowerton on Instagram.

It would be disingenuous to talk of a day in the food life, 2001 or 2012 version, that consisted of three meals made at home. 2001’s lunch would most definitely have been a sandwich of some kind, and was probably from the real sandwich artist known as “The Sandwich Lady” of Sandwich Island. I couldn’t find a photo of the chicken salad I ate at least four times a week. I even tried to buy the recipe from her after graduation. She declined of course, but when I went back to SC last year she spotted me from ten paces, pointed and said “Chicken salad?”. I miss you Sandwich Lady.

I also miss sandwiches. In 2002, I was exiled to the gluten free wilderness; I’ve been in mourning for the sacred wheat grain ever since. That’s where tacos come in! I eat a lot of them. They’re cheap, quick and delicious. Some people might call the burrito the Mexican Sandwich, but for me it’s tacos for life.

2001: Sandwich Island. 2011: Hugo's Tacos Honey Chipotle!

Like most humans, I get tired and hungry in the late afternoon. What I reach for now still has a wrapper, but if you’ll excuse the pun, it’s a much kinder choice.

During my junior and senior year at SC I lived across the street from a Wendy’s. It was there I learned one of life’s great lessons: Don’t live across the street from a Wendy’s. Sadly, dinner was usually something from, you guessed it, Wendy’s. When feeling adventurous, I would sample from one of the other 15 fine fast food options on Figueroa. I fooled myself into thinking that by ordering chicken (sandwiches, nuggets, the occasional salad with ranch dressing) I was making the healthy choice.

Dinner these days is actually mostly usually healthy. If it’s one of those sad nights when I’m in charge of dinner, we’re usually talking skillet meal. Chop up some chicken sausage, defrost a brown rice packet from TJ’s, toss in some veggies, top with a swirl of Sriracha and call it dinner.

When Lyd’s in charge she whips up wonders like this lentil sausage vegetable soup made from our Farm Fresh to You Organic Box that’s delivered to our door every other Friday.

No, I didn't make this.

I’m not proud of what 2001 me called food. But I am proud of the gradual turn from trashy to healthy that my diet has taken over the last decade. I’ll raise a glass of green smoothie or Resveratrol rich red wine to that.

Now it’s time for you to come clean and confess. Trust me, it’s liberating. What passed for your breakfast, lunch or dinner a decade ago?


How to Hard Boil an Egg


There are two schools of egg lovers: those who like a soft yolk and those who want theirs cooked to a yellow chalk.  Only one of those schools-the soft yolk one- counts in my book.  Though it sounds counter-intuitive, soft yolk lovers can enjoy a hard-boiled egg.  They just have to learn the 9-minute method of preparation so that their egg retains a little of the undercooked velvet of a real yolk.  The secret is cold water.  Here’s how:

Fill a medium pot with cool water until your eggs are just covered.

Bring water to a gentle boil.  Immediately cover your pot and remove it from the heat.

Set your timer for 9 minutes and let the eggs steam, covered and off the heat, for exactly that long.

While your eggs steam, prepare your ice bath.  Start with ice.

Then add cold water.

When your 9 minutes are up, immediately transfer the eggs to your ice bath.  The cold water shocks the eggs, halting the cooking process and preserving your slightly soft yolk.

The ice bath does one more magical thing.  It separates the shell from the albumen, that thin, clingy membrane that refuses to pick a side when you try to separate egg from shell.  You can blame the albumen for all those times you’ve taken off chunks of white with your peel and ending up with a sad, pockmarked egg.

After its ice-water dip, your peel will slip off easily and in large pieces.  Congrats, you’ve freed your alabaster prize from its jealous, jagged shell.

How pretty are those yolks?  Farmer’s market eggs are the way to go when possible.  You won’t find that color anywhere else.  Or if you do, let us know!

Find our favorite ways to use hard-boiled eggs here, here and here.


Winter Quinoa Salad


All we’ve left is a chunk of turkey, a pomegranate, goat cheese and pistachios from cocktail hour.  Oh, and a little honey shallot vinaigrette.  Add in our favorite grain and some peppery greens and we got ourselves a sweet and crunchy, high-protein quinoa salad that looks nothing like Thanksgiving leftovers.

Winter Quinoa Salad

Serves 2 as an entree salad


For honey shallot vinaigrette:

1 medium shallot

2 tablespoons honey

4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

6 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

For salad:

1 cup uncooked quinoa, cooked according to the package directions and cooled to room temperature

2 cups cooked turkey or chicken breast, cut into cubes

1 pomegranate, de-seeded (see how here)

1 cup roasted and salted pistachios in their shells

2 cups arugula

4 tablespoons goat cheese


To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a mini cusinart.

To make the salad, combine your cooled quinoa, meat and pomegranate seeds in a large mixing bowl.  Pour in enough dressing, about half the total amount, to thoroughly moisten the quinoa.  Reserve the rest to add in just before serving.  This can be done up to a day in advance.  Keep chilled.

Just before serving, shell your pistachios and lay them out on your cutting board.

Use your chef’s knife as a weight to crush your pistachios.  Lay the blade flat -the edge facing away from you- over the nuts and press down gently with your palm.

A little pressure crushes the nuts slightly and separates them from that stubborn, purple skin.

Stir the arugula into the salad and add more dressing as desired.  Top with your crushed nuts and crumbled goat cheese.  Taste then add more salt if necessary.





Post Thanksgiving Detox Friendly Recipes


After a week of eating rich food seeped in tradition and toasting many happy and festive occasions, I’m feeling the need to detox. Anyone else?

Better Homes and Gardens Chocolate Slab

Liquids like smoothies and soups are easy to digest, easy on the liver and refreshing on the palette. Here’s a quick round up of some our best healthy (liquid) recipes to help you reset your system.

Organic Fall Green Smoothie

Farmer’s Garden Smoothie

Spicy Carrot Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup


Drink up!




November Wedding: Lydia & Drew


In the days leading up to my first wedding anniversary I’m excited to share some of the beautiful pictures of our special day. We didn’t hire a photographer but asked an army of talented friends and family to take pics. We are forever grateful to Jen, Patrick, Beth, Aaron, George and Buck for these memories.

Entrance Arch

Rancho del Diablo Dormido in Malibu Canyon, CA

hanging letters my brother Wyatt made us these letters in our signature font, they hung from tree branches

XOXO hanging

Mary and I splashed Ikea fabric with red paint

buttons and bow tiefriends helped us get dressed

Guest Book

Our guest “cook” book was Sunday Suppers at Lucques (our favorite restaurant in LA)

Rosemary Spiced Nuts

darling Sarah made and packaged Rosemary Spiced Nuts

Cokes and Champ

pre-ceremony refreshments

Sophia Champ Cans

ustom Stamped Napkins

Amanda Koosed designed us a monogram and we made it into an ink stamp for paper cocktail napkins

Magnolia Leaves and Berries in Blue Vase

fabric hangings

whimsical painted fabric hangings

Flower Girl on the Whirly

my cousin Sierra was the adorable flower girl

Seating Chart

Amanda found us this signature font which we used everywhere, from the invitations to the seating chart!

Bridal Bouquet

my bouquet of gardenia, magnolia leaves and rosemary tied with a navy velvet ribbon

Lydia and Bridesmaids

stunning bridesmaids in their own dresses

the handsome groom and groomsmen

Drew and Groomsmen

a serious bunch

Love Stories

the bridesmaids carried their favorite love stories down the aisle

Drew + Bridesmaids

Lydia + Groomsmen

Groomesmen SocksDrew gifted the groomsmen colorful socks as a thank you

Wedding Bands

Patrick Adams

Patrick captured under the magnolia leaf ceremony arch

Groomsmen Button from Emerson Made

the men in the bridal party wore fabric buttons from EmersonMade

Dessert Buffet

dessert buffet with homemade treats from family and friends

Champ Toasta toast before we process

… to be continued

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