Go : shop those holiday sales

Have : a fabulous picnic

Eat : mint chocolate ice cream

Isn’t it crazy that Labor Day is here already? I hope you have some fun plans! Although it’s going to be a gorgeous weekend, I do hope to get some shopping in. After all, those holiday sales aren’t going to shop themselves. Picnicing seems to be a must for Labor Day, and I never tire of outdoor meals. Be sure to seize the opportunity to eat your favorite summer foods before the season ends. Summer to me is a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone (yes, the green version). What will you be eating?

This week, Stephanie, of Desserts for Breakfast, is here to share some Bay Area favorites. Her food photography and recipes with the most amazing flavor combinations make her blog one to remember. I love the premise of her site, since I am a big believer in eating dessert for breakfast!

I also want to mention that as summer comes to a close, it’s only fitting that our Summer in the City series ends as well. This will be the last installment, and we just want to give a huge thank you to all the participants! We hope you’ve discovered some great new blogs, and have started planning some trips to these great cities for next summer.

Favorite restaurant? This is such a difficult question, given how spoiled we are in the Bay Area by a plethora of excellent restaurants. Choosing one, I’d have to say Trattoria La Siciliana in Berkeley not only for its amazing Sicilian-inspired dishes that rival the food I had in Italy but also for its cozy, neighborhood atmosphere that makes you feel like part of one big Italian family.

Favorite savory dish? Salad to make and BBQ to eat. I’ve been particularly interested in non-traditional salads this summer made from whatever ingredients look best at the market on that day: last week, I made a to-die-for fresh corn, yellow nectarine, and Italian parsley salad-so refreshingly sweet, seasonal, and satisfyingly crunchy.

Favorite sweet? Ice cream! -actually, that might just be my never-changing favorite year-long sweet not specific to summer.

Drink of choice? Anything with lemon really gets me in the summer-lemonade, Arnold Palmers, ice water with a few slices of fresh lemon. My herb garden has been doing quite well this summer, so I’ve been making a variety of lemon-herb syrups (a favorite so far being lemon + mint) to mix with sparkling water for homemade sodas.

Favorite Bay Area summer activity? Watching the fog roll in from the Pacific over the hilltops at sunset. There’s something so romantic about that image that I can’t get tired of it.

A favorite summer recipe? Forcing me to pick favorites is just torture! but if I must… my favorite recipe this summer (so far!) has been peach frozen yogurt and basil snickerdoodle sandwiches. They’re a surprising twist on the nostalgic ice cream sandwich form-and peach frozen yogurt makes you feel so much less guilty when you’re licking every last drop off your fingers at the end!

Thanks, Stephanie!

Image Credits: Profile via Toni Gauthier, Trattoria, salad, ice cream, lemonade, fog

You guys, we have been cooking up something big this summer, and I’m so excited to finally tell you all about it! A few months back I got coffee with Jen, a fellow event planner and blogger in NYC. We got to chatting, and started discussing potential collaborations. As an entertaining whiz, Jen is an expert when it comes to hosting amazing parties and gatherings- even in the tiniest of spaces. For a long time I have wanted to bring more of my event planning skills to the blog, but didn’t really have the time to do it on my own. But with two minds at it, everything seemed more possible!

Our goal was simple. We wanted to show people that you can host a great party even in the tiniest of spaces and on a small budget, and we wanted to show them exactly how to do it. We wanted to show a variety of spaces so folks could easily apply it to their own life (so you don’t only have to live in NYC), and give them the tools to make it happen- down to the recipes and event prep timeline! And lastly, we wanted to do it in a way that allowed people to truly work with what they had and not be forced to buy anything.

So we came up with four parties to hold and shoot.We’ll be sharing photos and downloadable planning tools for each party across the next four months. The first one goes up next Tuesday, September 4th, so get excited ! It’s gonna be awesome.

Now, let me introduce you to Jen so you can get to know her a bit better.

What’s your philosophy when it comes to entertaining? There are no rules. As a host it can be easy to get caught up in the details. I do my best to plan ahead, but as soon as the party begins I grab a glass of wine and try to set the tone for the evening. If I am relaxed and having a good time, so will my guests.

What do you want people to remember when they feel nervous or apprehensive about hosting a party? You don’t have to make everything from scratch. Keep it simple and focus on what you enjoy. If you love making desserts, order in dinner and make your favorite cookie recipe. Start out small, invite just one friend over for dinner after work and take the time to set the table. Just because you order in, doesn’t mean you can’t dress it up.

What’s your goal with this series? I hope to ease that initial anxiety people might have about entertaining at home. It doesn’t take a perfect set of dishes, or an actual dining room for that matter, to still feel comfortable entertaining your friends and family.

Isn’t she spot on? Be sure to check back here next Tuesday for the first edition of the series…small hint- it involves a rooftop!

Top photo by John Dolan

I dream of the day I can make a true red or green chili sauce, or an actual molé. Until then, I’ll continue on in my faux Mexican food state. And besides, who can resist tacos, in any form?

When we spent the weekend in Rocky Point a few weeks back, and feasted on some of the best tacos of my life, I was reminded that it had been ages since I made tacos at home.  I don’t like to have to do a lot of work when it comes to tacos and the whole dry meat, pre-shredded cheese, and chopped up iceberg thing doesn’t really do it for me. So I came up with these- a super flavorful and hearty taco filling that fulfills that meaty craving but with the addition of black beans, corn straight from the cob, a ton of spices, and a little cream cheese and shredded jack  folded in to bring it all together. Confession- the filling is delicious, but I really just use my tacos as a vehicle to eat pickled jalapeños and sour cream (as if that wasn’t clear from these photos). Get on it!

Pulled Chicken Tacos

Makes 12 tacos

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 large chicken breasts (about 1 lb)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • kernels from 2 cobs of corn
  • 3 jalapeños, minced (ribbing and seeds removed on just one if you like it spicy!)
  • 1 spanish onion, diced
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1 cup shredded jack cheese
  • 10 tacos shells
  • more cheese, hot sauce, pickled jalapenos, and sour cream for serving

Poach the chicken: Place the chicken in a large pot, cover by one inch with water or chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower to barely a simmer, and simmer- partially covered, for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, and let rest in water for 5 more minute. Remove from water, let cool, and shred into small pieces.

Set a large heavy bottomed pot to medium heat. Add in the vegetable oil and onion and sauté until slightly softened. Add in the garlic, jalapeños, and spices, and sauté until onions and jalapeños are very soft, stirring occasionally (total cooking time will be 15-20 minutes) . Stir in the beans, corn, tomatoes, the cilantro and chicken and cook until heated through and bubbling slightly. Fold in the cream cheese and jack cheese and remove from the heat.

Prepare taco shells according to package directions. Fill tacos shells with meat and desired toppings. Meat will last up to 5 days and fridge and can be frozen up to 1 month.

Wear : this Madewell dress

Go : to the farmer’s market 

Eat : breakfast at the market (this means baklava for me!)

Happy Weekend! It doesn’t get any better than a perfect summer Saturday. Do you go to your local farmer’s market at all? I have to say, I love going to mine, and actually try to go every week. This weekend will be no different, and an extra incentive is that, in addition to produce, they have other vendors as well. This means I end up eating baklava and Turkish coffee for breakfast- definitely the best part! What are your plans this weekend?