Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Oh. My. Word. I think I might have said that phrase at least 2 or 3 times during lunch yesterday. I met a friend for lunch at a coffee shop in Nice. (Best place I have found for coffee in Nice. Period.) The last time we were there we noticed that they had bagels on the menu for lunch. Now, for all of you in the United States, you will not understand this at all, but at the sight of the word "bagel" my friend and I immediately started salivating and making plans to have lunch there soon. It has been over a year since my last bagel with cream cheese and I PROMISE this was the very best bagel I have ever had. Not because it was really that good but because I actually had one to eat. Fantastic chewy-ness paired with the smooth rich cream cheese. I had almost forgotten how wonderful they were. My goal now- make sure every English speaking person in Nice know where to get their bagel fix. The Place- Emilie's Cookies in the city center.

On to the next order of business...
I found a recipe on Martha Stewart's website last week for an asian peanut butter pasta dish. When I told John about it he literally curled his nose and said, "Ugh. Really?" My reply, "Yes, really. You will like it, I promise." Guess what- I was right. He did love it and even wanted to go buy stuff to make it again the next night. Therefore, this dish has a major stamp of approval from our house!
Not only is it super tasty but it is super simple too!

Asian Peanut Butter Pasta
12 oz Whole Wheat Pasta
1 Bunch Broccoli, cut into small-ish pieces ie- what you would want for stir fry
1 Red Bell Pepper, cut into strips
1 Large Onion, cut into strips
1/4 Cup Smooth Peanut Butter
3 Tbls Dark Brown Sugar
1 Tbls Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbls Soy Sauce
2 Garlic cloves ( I used a garlic press. You can do the same or mince them.)
1/2 to 1 Tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

- In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta about halfway. Add the broccoli, pepper, and onion. Cook until veggies are tender and noodles are al denti.

-While this is cooking, in a seperate bowl mix together the remaining ingredients to make the sauce.

- Drain the water from the pasta and veggies, return to the pot. Add the sauce, mix well and serve.

So easy yet so so good! Enjoy!

Recipe modified from here

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sadie's Most Favoritest Toy

Forgive my grammar, but it is the most truthful way to describe this toy. About a month after Sadie arrived here my mom set a box of stuff for her. ( I know, what a lucky grandchild someday, right?) Inside this box was a toy that Sadie has loved more than any other. It has been tossed, wrestled, pounced upon, and growled at. It's squeaker doesn't squeak anymore and it is almost in 2 pieces but it is still the "go-to" toy that she will pick over any other. It has been washed in the washing machine, taken out on the balcony, and almost thrown away a dozen times. For whatever reason, John and I just can't bring ourselves to do it. When we are in the states we are going to buy a new one and I am sure she will be more excited about it that she will be to see us!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Things I like about France

Do you ever have days when you just -know- you are a grump? I am currently having one of those days. France just keeps ticking me off with its people and its paperwork. So, to alleviate my mood, I am just going to tell you all about the things I DO like about this place in which I am currently living. (which is also driving me craaaaazy..)

I love the view from our apartment. We look into a fantastic botanical park that is green and lush year round. Then, across the way is the airport, which is very handy for trips, and the five year old in me still loves to watch airplanes take off. Finally, just on the other side of the airport is the SEA. This is the best part of our view. Every day, I can get up, look out the window and gaze at the crystal clear Mediterranean sea. So so amazing.

I love the food. Even though John and I very very rarely eat out, we still eat quite well. I have learned so much while living here about the quality of food and I have learned to challenge myself in the kitchen. The fruits and vegetables in France are mostly locally grown and it shows. They have so much more flavor than anything you can buy in the states. Delish! We are currently working our way through the cheese aisle and the wine aisle in the grocery store. ( A definite challenge, but we're up for it! ) While some of the choices are not my personal favorite, they are always flavorful, always rich, and incredibly vibrant. Finally, the meats. Once again, France doesn't like to import their meat. The veal, beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, and rabbit that you find in the grocery store or boucherie will almost always say "produits en France". We are most definitely spoiled with our food choices here. Oh! I almost for got the bread.. and the pastries... and the spices.. It goes on and on and it is all good.

I love the "oldness" of everything. It is kind of funny to think about an "old" building in the USA. I mean, at most it will be 300-350 years old. (Unless it is the Pueblo villages in the West. Those are much older I'm sure.) Here, everything is just... ooooooollllldddddd.. Even the people. (jk...) In all seriousness, there are buildings here that are much much older than our country. They are beautiful. The old part of town is probably my favorite part of Nice because it feels how a European city should feel- full of narrow alleyways and little shops, clothes hung between buildings to dry, and cobblestone streets to walk on.

I love the experience. As much as I sometimes want to pull my hair out and scream, I really wouldn't give up the opportunity for anything. We will always be able to say, yeh, we lived in France for two years and traveled everywhere. We have experienced another culture, learned another language (me-not so much, John-yes), made friends, and we have grown as individuals and as a couple. It will forever be a highlight in my life, in our lives, and the memories will last a lifetime.

Thanks for helping me remember the good, blog-friends and readers! :-) Have a great afternoon!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sick on Valentine's Day

Who wants to be sick on Valentine's day? Certainly not me, but guess what. I was. On Saturday I came down with a lovely case of viral tonsillitis. It tends to make the holiday a little less romantic when you are grumpy, tired, and have a sore throat. Luckily, I have the best husband in the world who is understanding of my grumpiness and is a good back rub-er. AND he picks out the most beautiful flowers and french chocolates. The picture above is of one of the roses he brought me on Friday. Isn't it a pretty orange? ( Orange roses are my favorite.) The chocolates are disappearing very very quickly but if you had one of these boxes at your house, you wouldn't have many left either.

We had our valentine's dinner on Saturday. Grilled steak, baked sweet potatoes, and homemade chocolate cake. Sorry, I didn't take pictures. But, I will share the recipe for the cake. Incredibly easy, melt in your mouth delicious, and even better with ice cream.

Almost Flour-less Chocolate Cake

- 200g (2 sticks minus 1 Tbsp) butter
- 200g (7 oz) dark chocolate
- 200g (1 C) sugar
- 4 eggs
- a rounded tablespoon of flour
Note: like all dark chocolate cakes, this cake is best made a day ahead (or at least in the morning if you serve it for dinner).
Pre-heat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Line an 8-inch round cake pan with parchment paper (no need to if you're using a non-stick pan).

Melt together the butter with the chocolate (in a double-boiler or in the microwave slowly and for just a few seconds at a time, blending with a spoon between each pass). Transfer into a medium mixing-bowl. Add in the sugar, stir with a wooden spoon and let cool a little. Add in the eggs one by one, mixing well after each addition. Finally, add in the flour and mix well.
Pour the dough into the pan, and put into the oven to bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven off but leave the cake inside for another ten minutes, then put the pan on a cooling rack on the counter to cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate, and take it out about an hour before serving.
Recipe taken, without any changes, from here. Enjoy!

While you guys are trying out the cake recipe, I am going to take a nap. Hopefully, this tonsil stuff will be gone by tomorrow.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snow Day!

Well, I had a different blog planned for today but I suppose it can wait until tomorrow! Today it is SNOWING like CRAZY in the beautiful cote d'azur! I know, I know, everyone in the United States is tired of snow. But I'm not! The flakes have been about the size of a half dollar and the ground is actually beginning to be white. The best part- I had no idea it was going to snow. So, there is no false hope from the weather man who says it will snow and it doesn't. Now, if only John could leave work early and come home, it would be perfect!

I am pretty sure that "snow day" is synonymous with "baking day" so this morning I decided to make some muffins. I might have, possibly, sort of, made up the recipe as I went along.. but hey, as long as they taste alright there's no harm in making things up. (Unless you are my hubby who thinks that everything should be standardized... We agree to disagree on this subject.) Fortunately, I did actually keep up with the amounts I added, so they are repeatable. And, even luckier for you- I am going to share!

Blueberry Banana Muffins


- 1 to 2 ripe bananas
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1/3 cup melted butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon strong coffee
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- about 1 tablespoon of milk ( add as needed)


1) Add all dry ingredients to large mixing bowl- flour, sugar, salt, and soda. Blend well.

2) Add in the vanilla, coffee, egg, and bananas. Mix well. Do not over mix or muffins will not rise. If batter still looks a little dry, add milk.

3) Finally, add blueberries. Mix as little as possible so as to not break open the berries and have umpa lumpa muffins.

4) Divide mix evenly between your lined muffin tins. (makes about 12) Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes. (depending on your oven, it could take longer.)

Enjoy your snow days everyone! I know Sadie and I will!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Best chicken I've had in a while

The weekends are my time to try new things. Whether that is a new town, a new market, a new cheese, or a new recipe- this is when we do it. I know a lot of people are too busy on the weekends to try a new recipe. For me, I never know what time John will be home during the week so it makes it difficult to try something new especially when it takes a lot of prep work.

This past Sunday, I enlisted the help of my wonderful Sous Chef- John Patrick- to aid me in the prep of a new dish. Turns out, it was one of the simplest recipes we have made in a while. The most difficult and time consuming part- chopping the onion. If that is the worst part of a recipe, I think I can handle it.

Braised Balsamic Chicken


  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme


  1. Season chicken breasts with ground black pepper and garlic salt. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet, and brown the onion and seasoned chicken breasts.
  2. Pour tomatoes and balsamic vinegar over chicken, and season with basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme. Simmer until chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear, about 15 minutes.

This is the original recipe from allrecipes. I happen to love this site if I am looking for a "homey" type recipe. Not always the place to find healthy options, but this recipe was a major find! The few changes that I made were: sprinkling both sides of the chicken with black pepper and dried garlic ( Here they have a great dried garlic that is in pieces about the size of a rough grind black pepper. Works fantastic on just about everything and has a TON of flavor, unlike garlic powder in my opinion.), cutting the balsamic down to a 1/3 cup, and using a can of whole, peeled tomatoes instead of diced. (John chopped these up for me. Love him. ) Served over some pasta and some sauteed zucchini on the side, this was a major hit for both of us. Rich bold flavor from the balsamic vinegar and the wonderful coloring makes this simple dish look like it should be in a restaurant. Try it, you'll like it. :-)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Beautiful Lunch

On Saturday John and I headed to Antibes for their market. We both love Antibes and tend to escape there on the weekends. This time we picked up a wonderful baguette, fresh Camembert cheese, a goat cheese, basil, sundried tomato and garlic spread, and some peach preserves. Then, came home and had a wonderful lunch of all our finds. YUM!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Happy Epiphany... a little late..

I made something yummy this weekend. ( I think all blogs should start with "I made something yummy". Wouldn't that be wonderful?) Like I said before, John and I are trying our hand at as many french dishes as possible while we are here. We are also trying our hand at as many stinky cheeses and wine as we can while we are here as well.. but that is for another day.

The recipe I tried this weekend is a very classic french dessert made in January of every year called a galette des rois. It is very time consuming, very rich, and very worth every bite. I will try to give a little bit of background. The translated name is a king cake. I am sure most of you have heard of this around carnival time in New Orleans. Here, it is used to celebrate Epiphany- when the wise men (or three kings) came to see Jesus. A favor is baked into the cake and whomever eats the piece with the favor is the King or Queen of the day. (They also have to buy a cake for the next day. Whomever receives the favor that day is the King of the day and must buy the next cake. And so it continues for the rest of the month. The French know how to celebrate) To make sure that all is fair, the youngest in the family will hide under a table while it is being sliced and decide who gets each piece. It is all very exciting I'm sure- John and I just ate cake.

Here is a photo spread of the whole process- it took about 2 days.

This is what the filling looks like right after you make it! Full of butter, ground almonds, vanilla, sugar- yum! It is refrigerated for several hours before you move on to the next step... which is....

Filling up the puff pastry! Then of course you have to add the top layer of pastry, make it pretty, add an egg wash and it turns out looking a little like this:

It was recommended with the recipe I used to freeze the whole thing overnight because it makes the puff pastry "puff" more. So, the next afternoon I took it out of the freezer and baked it. This is the finished product.

Tadaa! Beautiful huh? I had to try a piece. And I kind of forgot to take a picture before. oh well!

This is a great example of french food and the celebrations that go with it. Very, Very fun. Hope you all enjoyed looking at the pics.. now.. I think I will go have a piece!

Recipe taken from here. I did make a few small changes to the filling- if you actually want to try your hand at it, just ask!

Friday, February 5, 2010

I had a dream

I always have some interesting dreams. One day last week I had a dream that we adopted two more dogs while we were in France. But my dream last night might just be one of the most comical, interesting dreams that I have ever had.
I dreamed that we were staying in a hotel and the concierge told me about a place that sold doughnuts. This, for whatever reason, sounded like the BEST breakfast ever so I went to the doughnut shop. They proceeded to give me the tastiest, still warm, gooiest doughnut I have ever had. I am pretty sure I can still taste it this morning. Too bad it wasn't real. It was so incredible that I had to find John so he could try this doughnut. He, of course, thought that it was the best he had ever had as well. We had explained to the owner of the store that we were living in France and didn't have such wonderful-ness there. John and I had oohed and ahhed over the doughnut so much that they wouldn't even let us pay.
I am beginning to think that I might be having cravings for American food. If I have a dream about bagels, P.F. Chang's, Chik-fil-a, or white chocolate mochas.. we may have a problem..

Happy Weekend everyone! I am baking something fantastic (hopefully) this weekend! Look for pics on Monday!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Change direction?

I feel as though lately my blog is less about traveling and more about food. Maybe that is because we haven't traveled much lately... or maybe it is because I love to cook. More than likely it is a little bit of both. I do really love to cook, find new recipes, and experiment with new ingredients. This is one of the reasons that I really enjoy France. It is a challenge. There are no shortcuts here- no boxed dinners, no cans of condensed soup, no cake mixes, no muffin mixes. Everything is from scratch. It is definitely a learning process and a lesson in patience. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not patient at all. I hate to wait and I am not a fan of delayed gratification. (Which is probably why my cookie dough is always short a few cookies before they even make it to the oven.)

One of the foods that I really miss from the states is muffins. There is something about a warm, straight from the oven muffin that just wakes me up and makes me wish for a good cappuccino. Mom has been kind enough to ship over a few muffin mixes and we always use them within 2 weeks of arrival. Because of this, I am always on the lookout for muffin recipes. I have tried several... most do not turn out. My blueberry muffins don't have enough sugar.. or they turn out purple (Really, they looked like something from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).. or they just aren't "right". But finally, I have found a good banana nut muffin! Perfect and brown on top, light and banana-y on the inside. Oh so tasty for breakfast! (Or any other time for that matter.)

The blog/website that I have pulled this from has become a recent favorite. They have a great variety of recipes and anything I have tried has tasted fantastic. Highly recommend it!

Banana Nut Muffins Recipe


3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tbsp espresso or strong coffee (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cup of flour ( I used 3/4 cup each plain flour and whole wheat flour)
1 cup chopped walnuts (toasted or raw) (I subbed pecans)


No need for a mixer with this recipe.
1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.
2 Mix in the sugar, egg, espresso and vanilla.
3 Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.
4 Add the flour, mix until it is just incorporated. Fold in the chopped walnuts.
5 Pour mixture into a prepared muffin tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin. If it comes out clean, it's done. Cool on a rack.
Makes 12 muffins.

Click here to visit Simply Recipes
and here for a link to the original recipe

Monday, February 1, 2010

Weekend is over.. again..

Does anyone else feel like the weekends are never long enough? I am sure everyone does. They seem like they are going by so slowly but never slowly enough. Ah well, so is life. John is back at work today and I am.. enjoying the sunshine. Once we got through those 3 weeks of rain the "winter" has been very mild. Our average daytime temperature is around 55. Amazing. Especially after last winter in Lexington. Ice storms, snow every week, cold cold cold temps. Pretty sure we will both freeze to death in the US unless we are living in Florida.

This weekend we took a trip to Cannes. You know.. where they have the film festival. We had never been and really just needed something to do. Really pretty city. Real expensive too. I have never seen so many high end designer stores. Everything from Prada to Gucci to Pucci.. crazy! There is a huge convention center where hold the film festival and outside are hand prints of quite a few actors and actresses. And.. guess what... I put my hand in Julie Andrews' hand print. Yeh, that's right. Mary Poppins. Oh- and my hand is the same size as Jean Claude Van Damme. He is evidently a peanut of a man that packs a mean punch. Who knew?
Well, walking was all that we did in Cannes because everything was wayyy out of our price range. Hope you all had a really great weekend!

Here is a pic of the cork tree that I talked about in the last blog. So unusual. The bark feels really light to the touch and almost spongey. Much like a cork feels in your hand.

John and Chewie. Along the seaside in Cannes they had quite a few of these cut out characters. Everything from Shrek to Harry Potter to Brad Pitt. Sadie actually growled at Chewie.. evidently she feels she should be the only furry beast in John's life.

Just a spoon full of sugar..... Ah, love her! And, she has itty bitty hands. Or, I have really large ones.. Still made my week though!