Tuesday in Trader Joe’s : Ice Cream Bon Bons

confession.
i may have tried 90% of the desserts that trader joe’s offers. i just love sweets and tj’s (can i call it tj?) has a great assortment.
the ice cream bon bons definitely makes my top 10 list.
i love the bite size helping which makes me not feel as guilty (around 100 calories for each bon bon) , the brownie layer at the bottom and the perfect ratio of chocolate to vanilla. you guys these are seriously heavenly.
b always makes fun of me when i buy these.
“having more bon bons are we?”
but he just doesn’t get how delicious the bon bons are. he doesn’t get that i love ice cream treats more than i love most people. he doesn’t get that one bon bon can turn my day upside down.

but you know who does get it? trader joe’s.

ice cream bon bons trader joe's

 

tip! don’t be fooled by the lemon bars located next to the bon bons. trader joe’s does not sort by best frozen treats to worst. those lemon bars are not worth the calories. i bought them once and was incredibly disappointed by the lack of flavor. yes, i do expect my lemon bars to be tart and have a strong lemon taste. maybe that is my bad. and maybe i have just been spoiled by my mom’s and ina’s lemon bars. oh well tj, you can’t win them all.

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36 Hours in San Francisco

friday afternoon i was completely blindsided when i received a text from b asking,
“instead of just going up to the city for dinner on saturday, do you want to stay up there all weekend?”.
my mouth dropped. was he asking what i think he was asking?
i quickly said yes and asked questions later.
why was i so shocked?
b does love exploring cities as do i so that did not shock me.
the spontaneity shocked me a little but the big shocker was that he wanted to be in san francisco for 36 hours straight!
b doesn’t love big cities. he grew up in salt lake city and i think that is as big of a city as he would like to live in. he finds san francisco to be some what of a headache with the traffic, high prices for parking, hoards of people and aggressive pedestrians. he finds the city dirty and the people odd.
but he knows i love the city. he knows i love exploring. he knows this is my ideal weekend and he wanted to give me a little belated valentine’s day present. bless his heart. i will always remember this weekend because it was simply perfect . here’s what we did..

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DAY ONE

8pm: arrive in san francisco and check into the galleria park hotel.
the minute b asked me if i wanted to stay the weekend in the city, i scoured the internet for moderate priced hotels in good areas. i looked at both expedia and hotel tonight. have you ever used hotel tonight? it is my favorite travel app when searching for last minute deals. you are guaranteed a better rate booking through hotel tonight than expedia (i checked) but the catch is you can only book through the app 7 days prior to check in (it used to actually be the day of but they expanded their services).
the galleria park hotel is a boutique hotel located in the financial district (less than one mile from the ferry building). we greatly enjoyed our stay at the hotel. it was a stone’s throw from the bart station, the decor had a modern feel and the beds/pillows were especially comfy. the only draw back was the air conditioner was located in the window so you could hear noise from the street and the valet service was slow (despite paying $42/night — most hotels in sf charge this much or more for valet…)

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9pm: head to dandelion chocolate factory (via the bart),located in the mission district, for hot chocolate, frozen hot chocolate and desserts.
dandelion chocolate factory closes at 10pm on friday nights so don’t delay. i love their passion for chocolate and how they only use the highest quality coco beans. do try the frozen hot chocolate (not like serendipity at all– more of a dark chocolate, rustic taste) and brownies.

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DAY TWO

9am: breakfast at il cane rosso located in the ferry building.
i partly picked this place because i can’t stay walking distance from the ferry building and not check out the weekend farmers market. and for how much b doesn’t love sf, he does love the ferry building (mainly for the cowgirl creamery).  this is a quaint cafe located next to blue bottle coffee. we enjoyed the french toast and slow scrambled eggs. do try to eat outside at their reserved tables so you can eat by the water (or bask in the sun as b enjoyed doing).

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10am: walk around the ferry building
check out cowgirl creamery (one of our favorites) because they give you free samples of all their cheeses! we also love doing the olive oil sampling and meandering through the farmers market for fresh produce.

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11am: catch an uber to the complete opposite side of san francisco to hike land’s end
let me preface by saying, i am not really a hiker. my mother wishes i was with all her attempts during our vacations while i was growing up but i usually complained the whole time. i will say, that i am enjoying it more now and if every hike was like land’s end, i would love to hike every day. there are some steep parts of lands end but it is not too difficult of a hike with stunning views. b and were literally taking pictures every two feet. we took the coastal path through the presidio heights neighborhood and ended up at the presidio. it was gorgeous. i loved every second of it.
on an uber note, have you heard of the uber carpool option? i hadn’t until this weekend and it may be only available in san francisco (i have to look more into it). it is where you share an uber with a person traveling to a nearby destination and right now it is only $5 for 1-2 people! i am talking $5 no matter how far the destination is (we paid $5 for 8 mile ride) but you do have to stay within sf. uber carpool is bumped to $15 if you want to go outside the city.

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12:30pm: then keep on walking to grab a sandwich at lou’s (located in the richmond area).i asked b his favorite part of the whole trip and besides spending time together he said lou’s. hands down. the sandwiches at lou’s are the best in the area (including south bay). b said it was some of the best turkey he has ever had. the sandwiches were thick and flavorful. i got the veggielicious sandwich and have never been so full in my life (considering no meat on the sandwich). you definitely get your money’s worth but be prepared to wait in a line and wait for your sandwich. well worth it as far as we were concerned.
do note, land’s end is not super close to lou’s. we were in the walking mood and just enjoyed the sunshine but it was a little bit of a trek. san francisco is known for making you walk miles upon miles though. b was monitoring his steps on his phone and we walked approx. 10 miles on saturday alone…

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at this time, we headed back to the hotel to shower and give ourselves a bit of a rest. after feeling a little rejuvenated, we walked around the city a bit more and took in the sights. i loved the architecture and could have gazed at some areas of the city for days.

7pm: dinner at foreign cinema (mission district)
i had heard good things about foreign cinema and funny enough my boss was an investor of the restaurant when it first started. foreign cinema is not in the best neighborhood, but once you walk through the doors you are transported into a vibrant / modern atmosphere.  the menu is ever changing with the seasons, just the way i like it. the star of the meal for me was the key lime pie dessert and for b it was his sole entree (typical). we ended up sitting inside so we were not able to see the movie and next time will opt for the movie route because it sounded like a different dining experience.
only drawback with this place is service is a little on the slower side.

And after you have trekked all the way back to home base (ie your hotel) you may get hungry again. i know we did. but hey you are burning so many more calories so you deserve dessert after dinner’s dessert. just head on over to bob’s donut + pastry shop for classic donuts and take your time because it is open 24 hours. now this is the kind of big city living i would like!

DAY THREE

9am: breakfast at tartine bakery (mission district)
yes, back to the mission and yes, 9am timing is a must (that’s when it opens). we made the mistake of taking a little longer to get ready and headed to tartine bakery around 10am and the line was insane! like 45 minute wait and i was getting hangrey at this point so truth be told we did not eat here but evident by the line (and my foodie sister recommended it), you should. we settled for craftsman + wolves and it was settling indeed. i was a little let down by my chocolate stacked croissant (lacked enough chocolate if you ask me) and b had the poppy seed muffin which was ordinary. lesson learned. wake up early for tartine bakery!

Tuesday in Trader Joe’s: Raisin Rosemary Crisps & Unexpected Cheddar Cheese

you may remember my love / obsession for cheese.
b usually prepares a cheese plate for us to indulge in after dinner 2-3 times a week. we have learned a lot about the art of pairing cheese as well as our personal preferences when searching for new cheeses. we have even gotten to the point where trader joe’s cheese is no longer that appetizing to us. it lacks the diversity that whole foods or specialty cheese shops provide.

but then my friend recommended trader joe’s unexpected cheddar cheese to be eaten on raisin rosemary crisps.
and i was skeptical.
first because i am not a lover of raisins. i eat them here and there but don’t seek them out. second because cheddar cheese? it sounds plain.

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and i was completely wrong. this combo is the perfect afternoon snack or an easy appetizer for a dinner party. the unexpected cheddar cheese is creamy, flakey and flavorful  and the raisin rosemary crisps are sweet, crunchy and earthy (as i am reading what i wrote for my description, it sounds bizarre but please just take my word for it). i probably could have eaten the whole block of cheese in one sitting but i am working on self control.

trader joe’s strikes again.

Valentine’s Day Inspired Bar Cart

remember when i bought a bar cart?

well it was a couple weeks ago and i have been searching ever since for some good accessories to style it up with. i have not found my dream accessories for a steal of a deal but i decided to heck with it. i need to work with what i got and style my bar cart to the nines for valentine’s day.
i literally just put the finishing touches on it last weekend (and valentine’s day is this weekend so i may have procrastinated a little) and  i really do love the look.

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i don’t drink alcohol so it may seem a little odd to have a bar cart without the bar but i think it is a fun little corner in our living room where we can host as we see fit, which includes lemonade, chocolates and cookies.

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Tuesday in Trader Joe’s : Toasted Coconut Pancake Mix

confession.
i don’t really enjoy grocery shopping.
i borderline dread it if we are being honest.
b usually has to force me to go or else he does the shopping solo.
i hate (1) how grocery stores are always freezing, (2) i never really find everything i need and (3) there are way too many people.

but i do enjoy going to trader joe’s.
i know i know, i am a walking contradiction.
trader joe’s is where i will happily go. i like perusing their aisles for new things to try. i like the friendly neighborhood grocery atmosphere. i LOVE the food.
i know there are a lot of trader joe’s enthusiasts out there so i have decided to have a weekly post about my favorite trader joe’s products. each week, one new item will be reviewed until we sample the whole store (or we get over trader joe’s).

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a couple of weeks ago, i tried the toasted coconut pancake mix on a whim and i am completely sold. but i am an advocate of adding coconut to most things.

there is shredded toasted coconut in every bite of these pancakes. all you need is some macadamia nut or coconut syrup and i would feel as if i were transported back to hawaii.
let it be known, i usually make homemade pancakes (like we are talking 99% of the time). i am no fan of bisquick, aunt jemima, krusteaz, etc. because really people? pancake mix is not hard to make. and so that is why it was so weird that i not only tried this mix but thoroughly enjoyed it. i think because it had the extra dimension of toasted coconut.
another bonus?
all you have to do is add water. so yes you could make pancakes in less than 2 min. i guess this means these pancakes are vegan approved too? so win win on all accounts.

oh and just like i am not into aunt jemima pancake mix, i detest (i know strong word) aunt jemima syrup (and all other fake syrups). please please use pure maple syrup on your breakfast entrees. it makes a world of difference. it is a thinner consistency and has more flavor, which means you use less on each serving. i know it is a little pricier but i swear it is so worth it.

what are some of your favorite items at trader joe’s?

Baking Review : Lemon Ricotta Pancakes & Valentine’s Day Cookies

so it was pretty much raining all weekend in the bay area.
& although part of me wanted to finally go on a hike & enjoy the great outdoors,
the other part of me was loving a reason to be tucked away in a good book.

another thing i love to do when it is just pouring out there is bake.
i feel like it is the perfect excuse to bake the day away.
so guess what i did on saturday?
i baked and i ate and i read and i baked. it was actually quite lovely.
i am usually a busy body but it was nice to stay inside and hear the tip tappings on our roof.

and now that i have baked, i have some good recipes to share with you!
first up, a bountiful kitchen’s fresh lemon ricotta pancakes.

Fresh Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

 

okay, can i just say i think a bountiful kitchen‘s recipes are just the best? she is a mother and now grandmother so most of her recipes are tried and true — only recipes she would serve to her family. & i would definitely serve these pancakes to my family (except b hates pancakes so really it would just be for me ha). the only thing i wish was that they had more of a lemony flavor. but i may be in the minority. i am just obsessed with lemons. i would rather purse my lips after a lemon dish than not. so when i am to make these pancakes again, i would add some more lemon juice or i would top the pancakes with lemon curd (and keep pancakes as they are). oh lemon curd i love you so.
the above pancakes i topped with sweet condensed milk & powder sugar for a nice sugar high. i would recommend topping any type of pancake with sweet condensed milk. it is delectable.

then in the afternoon, i decided i needed to make a valentine’s day treat for some friends. so i researched and chose peanut butter cookies topped with chocolate hearts. i found an amazing recipe here

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never have i ever had such light and fluffy peanut butter cookies. and topped with chocolate hearts? i mean it is basically my idea of heaven. i strongly recommend this recipe and following all her tips. only tip i will add is don’t push the chocolate on the cookie, just lightly place. i kind of pushed my chocolates at first and then when the cookies were room temperature they crumbled a little. no bueno. just lightly place. oh and i did a mixture of dark and milk chocolate hearts.

so basically i gained 5 pounds this weekend but it was completely worth it.

what did you do this weekend?

Parenthood

last week was a hard week. it felt like there was a death in the family. you know why?
parenthood aired its’ final episode.
please insert sobbing emoji here.
parenthood is one of my favorite series of all time. yes, all time.
the series revolves around a tight knit family– the bravermans.

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the bravermans are a large family with every day problems, mishaps and special events. they are a family that doesn’t always see eye to eye but there is love in everything they do. there is every different personality imaginable within the family which means you can connect with at least one character on a deeper level. i can say i connected with every single character.

parenthood is very real and does not sugar coat or make light of every day problems. it shows the struggles of these characters as if they were your own. b always said he didn’t like the show because it was “too real” and he uses tv to escape reality but, i loved it. i connected to the cast. i learned that life is not perfect and there will be many challenges. there will be many moments of heartache but also many many moments of glee. it felt as if i was with my own family every thursday night for one hour. and it may seem silly but i cherished every episode of parenthood. i never was half watching while looking at my phone. my attention was with the braverman family. i cried and laughed almost every single episode.

another reason why i love this series so much is the emphasis they put on the family. no matter what happened in the braverman’s lives, they always were there for each other. they respected each other, they cried with each other and they danced with each other. they had their money challenges but money never seemed to be a big factor in their every day life. all they cared about was family .

i am completely inspired by the mothers on this show. all for different reasons. they each showed that motherhood is no walk in the park but it is the greatest gift of all.
thank you christina for inspiring me to always do what i am passionate about and to one day be my child’s #1 advocate.
thank you julia for showing it is okay to be a working mom– it doesn’t mean you love your kids any less. it doesn’t mean you wouldn’t fight for them any less. (julia was always so honest with her kids and i respected her a lot.)
thank you jasmine for showing how important it is to play with your kids.
thank you sarah for showing the importance of being a friend to your kids.
and thank you camille for showing that you must have your own hobbies as a mother. you must have time to yourself.
you five women have inspired me beyond belief.  parenthood is the only show on earth that makes me want to be mother and have a large family. it is the only show that completely stole my heart.

Parenthood

 

parenthood, i promise to stay forever young.

 

linked to: Treat Yo Self

Silicon Valley Hot Spot – Sushirrito

sushi + burrito form = sushirrito.
it is the best concoction and now my favorite form of a burrito.
and i know you may be thinking well actually this idea was invented a long time ago by the japanese. it is called a hand roll, duh emily. although i do think this is a valid point, sushirrito is extremely different than your typical hand roll because of the mix of ingredients.
sushirittio adds hints of latin flavor to each burrito whether it be through guacamole or different spices.

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my personal favorite?
geisha’s kiss. it has  tuna, tamago, piquillo peppers, yuzu tobiko, lotus chips, namasu cucumber, butter lettuce & guacamole.
see what i mean? definitely not your typical sushi entree.

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not a raw fish consumer but still like the idea?
try the sumo crunch or salmon samba.
the sumo crunch has shrimp tempura + imitation crab while the salmon samba includes cooked salmon + asparagus tempura. seriously everything on the menu is quite tasty so you can’t go wrong.

one more tip, order to go so you can add your own soy sauce. sushirrito does not offer soy sauce and charges a hefty price for any additional sauce. that is its’ one flaw. they don’t do well with customizing orders. the soy sauce on the sumo crunch burrito really completes it. trust me.

since i work on university ave in palo alto i can honestly say that i have tried most every restaurant in the area and sushirrito definitely makes my top 5 list.

what are you favorite palo alto restaurants?

Guide to East Bay: Pepple’s Donut Farm

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i love a good donut. i love apple fritters, sprinkles, old fashioned and glaze oh my. i love soft dough and  extra sweet frosting. i will never turn down a chance to try a donut so when b and i decided to head up to oakland on saturday i knew i had to try the famous pepple’s donut farm.
pepple’s is located in emeryville which is just above oakland and fairly close to the bay bridge. a big draw to pepple’s is their donuts are vegan along with their entire brunch + lunch menu.
b was of course skeptical by this but is always a good sport and agreed to try since i had been wanting to check out pepple’s donut farm for some time now.

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we walked into a run down / hipster looking cafe. it wasn’t too busy so we grabbed a table and decided to savor the moment. b and i decided to try blueberry, apple fritter and salted carmel. can i just say all three were above average donuts? like a good couple notches above average? of the three, the apple fritter was actually my favorite. i had never had dough that tasted that moist and delicious. do note their donuts on the cart (which included glaze, apple fritters, bear claws, etc.) are only sold on the weekend so i suggest stopping by pepple’s then so you can try it all.

we went with some friends and one of our friends got a cinnamon sugar donut. he said it tasted just like cinnamon toast crunch. yummmm. our other friend is gluten free so opted for the granola with hemp milk. guys it was my first time trying hemp milk and i completely loved it. i think i am going to sub it in for almond milk if i can find it as easily. it had a great taste. i also hear it is very good for your skin + hair.

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overall it was a great donut filled saturday morning with good friends. oh and one more tip, the donut prices will go up in march because minnimum wage is being raised so  check out pepple’s donut farm before then! it is already a little pricier than your average donut shop (we are talking about $2/donut) so act fast and try it out.

how was your weekend?

planning a getaway to the east bay? check out my other top eateries and things to do in the area here!

Baby Shower Favors

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this weekend, i , along with a couple of friends, threw a baby shower for a dear mother to be. she will be having a little girl in two weeks and i couldn’t be more thrilled for her. i took on the task of party favors. i thought a lot about the perfect favor, researched heavily and spoke with friends.
and after much deliberation, i decided on popcorn treats.  it was relatively quick & easy to put together and the result was both delicious and darling.

what you’ll need:
popcorn kernels
ghiradelli melting white chocolate
food coloring
sprinkles
bags (from michael’s in their holiday section)
tags
mini clothespins (from michael’s)

1. air pop your popcorn kernels (i am not a fan of microwavable popcorn so i insist you air pop)
2. spread the popcorn on cookie sheets.
3. melt the white chocolate for thirty seconds. stir. repeat till chocolate is smooth.
4. add a couple drops of red food coloring to the white chocolate (i did this so popcorn looked pink in honor of baby girl)
5. pour chocolate over popcorn and use your hands to make sure popcorn is coated.
6. cover with sprinkles.

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tips:
* always use melting chocolate. chocolate chips don’t usually give the right consistency.
* better to have more chocolate than skimp on it!
* put together the bags the day of the event so popcorn is crisp.
*make sure your bags are completely sealed so sprinkles don’t fall out of them (learned this the hard way).

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what are your favorite baby shower party favors?