Entries Tagged as 'food'

back to basics: burrata pasta

March 31st, 2016 · 10 Comments


When I started this site almost a decade ago (some of you may remember!), it wasn’t to write about clothes or makeup.  Or motherhood.  Or my career, or politics, or my thoughts, or about life in general.  I started this blog with a very specific purpose: to keep track of the recipes I made as I was learning to cook. 

After about two years of posting nothing but recipes on this website, I took a detour.  I read an article about how bloggers were revolutionizing the fashion industry by posting real-life outfits that they were actually wearing, instead of magazine spreads with professional models and stylists and photographers.  And I decided to add fashion to this blog, and the rest is history.  (Sort of.  Eight years later, I’m not sure that’s exactly what happened with fashion blogging, but that’s a topic for another day.)

But you know what I’ve heard, time and again, from readers of this site?  They loved the recipes. 

So, hey, guess what?  I decided to listen!

With a two-year-old and a full time job, I don’t have a lot of time to cook these days.  You probably won’t see me rendering duck fat any time soon. (For years, that post about duck fat was the most popular post on this blog, FYI.  Duck fat.  Ponder that for a moment.)

But I still love cooking.  Sure, there’s something wonderful about a lazy night eating takeout on the couch, but give me a quiet weekend, and you’ll still find me scoping out the farmers market, making a giant mess in our kitchen, and emerging with something delicious.  So when a few of you guys wrote to me in January and mentioned recipes, I thought, hey, while I take a few months to figure out where this blogging thing is headed… maybe getting back to basics for a while would be a good start.

But here’s a wrinkle in writing about recipes.

I don’t always use them. 

In fact, unless I’m baking, most of the time, I don’t use recipes. 

I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen for long enough that following a set of ingredients or directions sounds kind of… boring?  I guess that’s it.  The problem is, when you don’t use a recipe while you’re making a dish, it’s really hard to post a step-by-step recipe online after the dish is done. 

(This is not to say, “oh, I’m such a great cook that I don’t use recipes.”  In fact, it’s more often the opposite.  Not using recipes is often a total disaster.  I once made an entire stock pot of butternut squash soup, and at the last minute decided to pour a beer into it.  It was completely disgusting, and I had to throw out the entire thing.  That’s not a lone example; I could tell a dozen stories with the same ending.  But if I’m telling the truth about how I cook, the fact is, I mostly prefer to do things my way, disasters included, than to follow directions.)

For now, I’m going to experiment with a new way to write these up.  I’m going to tell you, as best I can, what I did to create a dish.  But I’m going to do it as a narrative, not as a set of ingredients and a list of directions. 

So here we go. 

This recipe starts with some pasta.  Right about now, you might be wondering, “What type of pasta is that?”  The answer is: I have no idea.  No clue whatsoever.  It’s a type that I saw at the grocery store and I bought it.  A quick Google Image search suggests that it might be called gomiti, but truthfully, I’ve never heard of that type of pasta before and that might just be a word that someone made up.  Can you use other types of pasta in this recipe?  Again, not a clue.  Probably.  I don’t see how it would make much of a difference.  Live wild and free, people. 

Where were we?  Oh right, pasta.  Boil the water for your pasta.  Add some salt, because that’s a thing that the Food Network told me to do at one point, supposedly it makes the pasta more flavorful.  In a separate pan, simmer the garlic in the olive oil.  Add tomatoes (break them up with your fingers or chop them), dried basil, dried oregano, dried parsley, burrata (again, chopped), parmesan, and spinach. 

Oh, what’s that?  You have some more questions?

How much basil should I use?  I wish I could tell you.  I just shook some into the bowl until I decided there was enough.  Great method!  Super easy to replicate!  Not.  Maybe a teaspoon?  I’m just making that up.  It could be more or less.  The other spices are easier: a large pinch. 

Why did you use burrata instead of mozzarella?  Because burrata is pretty much my favorite food on earth and I use it in everything and if you haven’t tried it yet, your life is literally incomplete.  Please do so right now. 

What’s burrata?  Shoot.  You got me.  I don’t know.  In starting to type this, I was pretty sure that it was a type of mozzarella, but Google tells me that I’m wrong.  It’s a separate type of cheese made from mozzarella.  Basically, it looks like a ball of mozzarella, but when you slice into it, it’s this creamy, liquid-y goop that just might be the best thing you’ve ever tasted. 

Back to the recipe(-ish).  Simmer all the ingredients for about twenty minutes.  Cook the pasta for the number of minutes it says on the box.  Drain the pasta, mix everything together, sprinkle some additional parmesan on the top, and serve!

That’s pretty much it!  It’s really yummy.  Basically, just throw the ingredients into a bowl and it’ll probably turn out fine.  I’m not sure there’s much you could do to screw it up.  (Don’t dump a beer in it.  Take it from me, that’s always a mistake.) Rough instructions below.  Go give it a try!


Tags: food · main dishes

chicken soup for toddler-super-germs

August 9th, 2015 · No Comments

Usually I use a fancy camera for my Sugarlaws shots, but this photo was taken with my iPhone. 

Do you want to know why?

It’s because last weekend, Chad and I were taken down by the most epic stomach bug I’ve ever encountered. 

I mean: knocked us out, flat on our backs, for 24 hours.  I literally couldn’t sit up

I’ll avoid the gruesome details (you‘re welcome), since this is a food post and all, but I’ll tell you without a moment’s hesitation… this stomach bug was pure misery in its most visceral form. 

At around eight p.m., Bear fell asleep and Chad and I went into our bedroom and just lay there in bed, too exhausted to do anything else. 

And suddenly Chad says to me, “this was kind of a fun day.”

Obviously, I looked at him, like, um, did you have some different day than the one I had?  Because mine involved puking into a container next to the bed for about five hours straight.  (Sorry, I told you that I’d avoid the details, but there they are.  Hey, internet.  Here’s a story about me vomiting.  And a recipe.  Because that’s not gross or anything.)

So, anyways.  “Fun” isn’t exactly how I’d describe our day.  But Chad persevered, and explained that the stomach bug itself was terrible, but that we’d spent the day working together, taking care of our son and taking care of each other.  When one of us was capable of walking, we’d get the other Gatorade from the fridge.  Chad took Bear in the morning, and I put him to bed.  Between the two of us, we had a day that was physically horrific, but we’d gotten through it, together.  And that night, at a whopping 8 p.m. on the dot, we celebrated getting through it, together. 

And then we turned out the lights and went to sleep.

And the next morning, I realized the funniest thing.  Without having any idea that we were about to get sick, I’d stocked up on all the ingredients for chicken noodle soup.  I’d specifically bought fresh celery and carrots and chicken and egg noodles and all the stuff we’d need to make this recipe with exactly zero effort. 

So?  I made it. 

And then, having expended the full amount of energy I had available that day, I couldn’t bring myself to drag out my SLR camera just to snap a shot.  I took one with my iPhone, called it a day, and went back to bed.

Chicken Noodle Soup


2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups vegetable broth
1 pound chicken breast
2 cups egg noodles
2 cup sliced carrots
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
Sea salt to taste


In a large pot, saute onions in butter until soft and translucent.  Add broth, celery, chicken breast, carrots, and spices, and simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring every once in a while.  Fifteen minutes before the soup is finished, add egg noodles and cook to al dente.  Serve warm.

Tags: food · soups

shrimp and corn chowder

March 30th, 2015 · 1 Comment


Spring hit Texas last week, although I know it’s been slow to arrive on other parts of the country!  But this dish is a pretty good compromise — it has the lightness of a summer chowder, but it’s warm and substantial for those last few chilly days.

These last few weeks have been insanely busy, but in a really good way!  Starting my law practice means that when I’m swamped with work, I’m actually happy about it — which is a pretty cool feeling.  However, it means that I have to be extra organized and motivated to make sure I can accomplish what I need to every day.  (Especially with a baby involved, that’s no small feat!) It’s been a huge challenge, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

But, onto this recipe: I wouldn’t say it’s exactly as “easy” as my usual slow cooker staples, although the effort is definitely worth it.  This is the kind of dish that’s great to make on Friday night, so you can have leftovers all weekend.  Chad really liked it, and it’ll be back in our rotation again soon! 

Chowder 8.Final

Shrimp and Corn Chowder

1 16-ounce package of frozen corn
4 slices turkey bacon, diced
8 scallions, thinly sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups 2% milk
1 teaspoon Old Bay
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
Salt and Pepper


In a large stock pot, saute the turkey bacon until fully cooked, and set aside.  Combine 1 tbsp milk with the flour and heat together to create a roux, then add the rest of the milk, potatoes, scallions, seasoning, shrimp, and corn.  Simmer for about 2 hours.

Chowder 4.Final

Chowder 5.Final


Tags: food · main dishes

simple weeknight salmon

February 2nd, 2015 · No Comments


I’m always on the lookout for simple recipes that work for weeknights in our house — the kind of thing you can pick up in five minutes at the grocery store, without roaming the aisles for esoteric ingredients.  Dishes that are healthy and delicious, but above all easy

I love to cook, but once the baby is in bed, I’d rather sit on the couch and have a cup of tea than spend an hour dicing vegetables. 

So, I make a lot of meals in our slow cooker — twice a week at least.  This started before Bear was born, when I made meals ahead of time to freeze for those early weeks.  (Well-intentioned, but ultimately a wasted effort.  We got sick of them fast and wound up eating take-out.  Eh.)

But the slow cooker was a true life-saver was after Bear was born — on rough nights, Chad and I would eat dinner in five-minute shifts and then resume frantically trying to calm the baby down.  Cooking wasn’t a priority, and meals from the slow cooker don’t burn.  So that was all we ate for, oh, about six months. 

But lately… things have gotten a little easier.  Our son is about nine months old now, so this was a long time coming.  But most nights, now, he reliably goes to bed by 7pm, and Chad and I actually have a few hours of calm in the evenings.  We’ve even watched a little TV.  (Yes, this is a big deal.  Watching an uninterrupted television program is something that has been missing from my life for almost a year, and the return is glorious.)

And with that extra time, I’ve been making some slightly more ambitious dinners. 

Emphasis on the slightly.

Like this one.  Four ingredients, one pan.  It takes maybe five minutes of prep and 20 minutes or so of cooking.  Not exactly Julia Child-worthy, but it’s a big step up — and it’s delicious. 

Maybe in a few months I’ll be back up to baking cakes from scratch, but for now, this is easy, healthy, and good.  And that’s pretty much all we need.


Simple Weeknight Salmon

1 lemon
4 salmon fillets
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper


Preheat oven to 400 F.  Spread olive oil over each salmon fillet, and then season with garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Squeeze the juice from one lemon over the salmon.  Slice the other lemon and place two small slices on each portion.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.


Tags: food · main dishes

best of 2014!

January 2nd, 2015 · 1 Comment


What a year this one has been!

I’m charging head-on into 2015, but before I do, I wanted to take a minute to reflect on all the wonderful moments from this past year.  So, if you’re new to this blog or you missed a few posts here and there, I’ve pulled together some of my favorites from the last 12 months. 



This marked the birth of our son, which turned my life upside down in the happiest, most wonderful (and yet totally overwhelming) way possible.  I think my favorite post of the year was on my decision to give up the idea of being a “perfect” parent and to focus on enjoying time with our son.  This is something I still struggle with nearly every day, but realizing it has made our lives so much happier and better.  If you’re going to read one post I wrote in 2014, head over there.

In other news…

I briefly turned into Godzilla at the sound of our baby crying… and wound up breaking our freezer.

The best advice I received as a new parent: Just Wait A Week.

Our baby broke a $500 jar of Vaseline.  Oops. 

I shared Baby Bear’s birth story, the most incredible night of my life.  And I surprised myself by dreading those newborn weeks so much, and then finding out that I actually liked them

We had an epic meltdown in the grocery store

I wrote letters to our son at one, two, three, four and five months… and then somehow completely forgot to keep going.  Baby Brain, people.  It’s a real thing.  I’m hoping to revive these in 2015!  (And, if you want to get all technical about it, I technically wrote two letters to him at one month old… with no recollection of the first when I wrote the second.  I blame the two combined hours of sleep I was getting per night at that point.)

I wrote about our decision to vaccinate, and why it shouldn’t be a decision at all.  Please inform yourselves about the facts on this incredibly important issue, for the safety of your child and others. 

I wrote about our struggles with breastfeeding and the solution that worked for us, as well as two posts on nursing mom style tips (here and here).  I wrote about the products you actually need as a new mom (hint: it’s not a wardrobe of pint-size newborn clothes)!

I wrote about why parental leave isn’t just a women’s issue — engaged dads make for happier families, and paternity leave is important too.

And finally, I wrote about life as a working mom, and the challenges I’m juggling with balancing my career and our family. 



Baby bump posts took up the first four months of the year!  I had so much fun styling my growing belly!  At the time, I felt huge and totally self-conscious, but now I look at those pictures with so much joy.  This pink ASOS dress and this LOFT top were my favorites of the whole pregnancy.  And this festival-inspired dress at sunset continues to be one of my favorite photos of the year. 

I wore head-to-toe leopard print at eight months pregnant.  And full-on sequins.  Because, hey, why not?

Post-partum dressing was a big challenge, but I did my best!  A great tropical-themed outfit here, and our puppy Rambo had a cameo over here.  I did a number of fun collaborations, and this dressbarn style was a big favorite, as was this White House Black Market summer style.  I waited nine months to wear this Mara Hoffman dress, which is basically the most perfect thing ever. 

I styled an outfit for our imaginary life in California, the one we almost lived.  And I shared my top five tips for dressing stylishly while pregnant

And last but not least, I was featured in the July issue of Glamour magazine!  Thanks again to my wonderful readers for pointing this out to me — without you guys, I never would have known!



Our crockpot was the workhorse of 2014 — life with a baby inevitably makes the slow cooker into your most valued possession.  They’re great for creating healthy, easy, low-stress meals that won’t burn when you leave the kitchen eleven million times while preparing dinner.  I loved our Southwestern Chicken Stew and BBQ Chicken for easy weeknight staples. 

I also focused more on breakfasts than ever before, and made egg dishes with quinoa and avocado toasts that were delicious and super healthy, and blueberry sour cream pound cake that wasn’t so healthy but was really delicious. 

And finally, you guys know me.  There were some dessert creations this year, obviously.  Three-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies that were surprisingly awesome, as were my No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars

And finally, a two-ingredient cocktail that can’t be beat: Kahlua and Chocolate Ice Cream.  Yes.  I went there.  And it was glorious. 

(Caramel Sandwich Cookies weren’t the worst thing in the world, either.)



I shared our “ttc” (internet slang for “trying to conceive”) story, and ups and downs of finding out that I needed surgery almost immediately after we started trying to have a baby.  For silly superstitious reasons, I didn’t feel comfortable posting this until after our son had safely arrived, but so many families struggle with infertility, I think it’s important that we share these stories openly and honestly.  So I did. 

My biggest, most epic pregnancy meltdown: The story of the ceiling fan.  (Or: Why Pinterest and Pregnancy Hormones Don’t Mix.)

I wrote about my nervousness with all the ways that our life was about to change, the same way I felt about leaving New York when we moved to Texas

I tried to remember to enjoy being pregnant, and not just focusing on when the baby would finally get here.  (It’s tough, at the end, let me tell you.)

I confronted the terrifying reality that new parents have no idea what they’re doing.  And that I’d probably do just fine anyways

I ate an entire chocolate cake by myself

And on that note, I wrote about pregnancy weight gain.  I spent way too much time freaking out at the numbers on the scale at the beginning of my pregnancy, when I gained way over the “recommended” amount… which was, ultimately, exactly what my body and our son needed. 

And finally, despite the many, many posts about pregnancy, I wrote about the fact that there are so many wonderful ways to create a family.  Sure, pregnancy is one, but what binds a family together isn’t genetics: it’s love. 



In October, we left the baby behind for a pretty amazing trip to Mexico.  I slept for, like, fourteen hours a day.  And it was basically the best week of my life. 

I made over our breakfast nook and created the most gorgeous nursery in turquoise and whiteMy IKEA dresser hack went viral on Pinterest, and well deservedly so.  At under $400 for all the supplies, it simply can’t be beat. 

Chad and I had our five year anniversary, and I shared our very unprofessional (but totally wonderful) wedding video here.

And in September, we lost our beloved dog Calvin, who I still miss every day.

I shared some meditation tips for beginners — one of the biggest changes in 2014 was that I started meditating on a regular basis, and it has improved my outlook so dramatically.  If you haven’t given it a try, I definitely recommend it! 

I wrote about our new puppy Rambo, who eats poop.  We like him anyway. 

I had an incredible baby shower, and was so grateful to celebrate with our wonderful friends and family. 

I cancelled my trip to New York for Fashion Week because I was pregnant, and then promptly reconsidered.  I ended up going at seven months pregnant and had a total blast — my video diary was posted here

And I capped off the year by finally telling you guys about my disastrous Christmas dinner in 2013.  Oops!

What a year!  Just writing this has put a huge smile on my face.  It’s been a crazy, wild ride and a joy every single day.  Can’t wait to share 2015 with you guys, too. 

Photo Dec 04, 6 35 55 PM

Tags: baby · food · home · life · style