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There are few things I love more than farmers markets. Getting lost among stands of fresh produce, cheese, bread, flowers, and tasting everything along the way is my perfect morning. Here are some pictures from the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building in San Francisco.

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So I am a little late with this post, as Mother’s Day was a few weeks ago, but better late than never!

For Mother’s Day Dinner our family decided to have soft shell crabs, partly because they are delicious, but also as a remembrance to my grandfather. He was the one who taught my mom to love these little creatures, and the love has trickled down to both me and my brother. We indulge in soft shell crabs about once a year, and I would encourage everyone who is a bit weary of eating an entire crab to give these guys a shot… I mean, how can you not like something that is beer battered?

Mother’s Day Dinner Menu:

1. Beer and Tempura Battered Soft Shell Crabs

2. Homemade Sweet Potato Fries with Dijonaise Dipping Sauce

3. Broccoli Slaw Salad with Tomatoes, Avocado, Green Onion, Toasted Almonds and Sauteed Ramen Noodles, topped with an asian Vinaigrette.

ENJOY!

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Check out Stephanie Izard’s (Chef/Owner of Girl and the Goat in Chicago) flatbread pizza recipe! I just found this one and can’t wait to try it. How can you go wrong with pesto and chorizo?!

Knowing me, I will probably substitute the riccotta cheese for goat cheese.

Enjoy this new recipe!

Photo taken from Stephanie Izard's website

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Last night, my mom and I made my absolute favorite dinner: Pan seared panko scallops, risotto and a colorful salad.

Risotto has been my favorite meal to make for years. Last night, I chose to try the Barefoot Contessa Spring Risotto recipe I found on the Food Network. Instead of adding butter right before serving to make the consistency creamy and delicious, Ina Garten uses mascarpone cheese. The second I read that in her recipe, I knew that was a brilliant idea.

We started the risotto by sauteing leeks and fennel in both olive oil and butter until tender.

Then we added the arborio and dry white wine into the leek and fennel mixture, stirring until the wine was almost completely absorbed. Then comes the tedious part… we added the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, waited until it dissolved, and repeated the process for 25-30 minutes.

After 15 minutes, we added the pea and asparagus. When the risotto was finished, we folded the lemon juice and mascarpone into the dish and topped it with lemon zest and chives.

In the midst of cooking the risotto, we pan seared the scallops. Before coating with panko breadcrumbs, we gave them a flour and egg bath to help hold the panko. We pan seared them until golden brown and finished them in the oven.

To complete the dinner, we put together a fresh salad with romaine, avocado, crumbled roquefort cheese, tomato and croutons with a homemade vinaigrette.

This is the perfect Sunday night dinner and can be a blast to prepare with friends or family. Enjoy!

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Maxi Dress

With spring just around the corner, this black and white tie-dye maxi dress is the perfect addition to anyone’s spring or summer collection. The top is form fitting, but the elastic back makes it possible to move around comfortably. The thick straps create a classy neckline and helps support the chest. This dress looks great on a lot of different body types.

As of now, the dresses I have are only made in one size. They will fit someone who is normally a small or medium (the top will fit an A or B cup) in the United States.  With the elastic back and flowing long skirt, there is a lot of flexibility for sizing.

I will be selling these dresses for $45 USD. This price will include shipping to the United States. If you are interested in purchasing a dress, please send me an email and we can make the transaction through PayPal.

Contact:

Alexa Stuart

Alexa.j.stuart@gmail.com

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The best salad award goes to the Asian Chicken Salad at Jerry’s and Corner Cooks in Winnetka, IL. I swear this salad was made just for me. The combination of dates and goat cheese (I ask for extra) is enough to make me weak at the knees. Adding fresh avocado, tomatoes and crispy wonton strips gives the salad color and texture. Finally, top this mountain with shredded chicken and Jerry’s homemade peanut-lime salad dressing, and the next thing you know, you will have cleaned your plate.

If you can’t make it to Jerry’s to try this masterpiece, making it at home is pretty easy. Just top romaine lettuce and cabbage with your favorite salad veggies. The wontons are key- Jerry’s are homemade but you can buy them pre-packaged at your local grocery store. As for the dressing, making your own peanut sauce will always taste better than something store bought. Go for a recipe that calls for a lot of lime and a little heat, adding more of both ingredients as you blend. Personally, I tend to double the amount of lime in my homemade peanut dressing, because who wouldn’t want more lime?

Finding a good salad in Thailand is like trying to track down a needle in a haystack. Unless you are willing to pay exorbitant prices ( I am almost at that point), salad is just not something the Thai palate craves. Before Thailand, I had salad for dinner almost every night. In my mind, it is one of the most versatile side dishes; change the ingredients around and  salad will compliment almost any main course. For the last six months, I have basically gone cold turkey (with a few exceptions). Needless to say, I find myself dreaming about salad more than I should.

** Picture taken by Holly Stuart Designs

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In need of some fresh air and cool weather, Sean and I headed to Khao Yai National Park for the Buddhist holiday weekend.  Our original plan was to drive our motorbike there, but after celebrating a friend’s birthday in Ayutthaya Thursday night, more than one of our Thai friends told us it was too dangerous, and would take around four hours. We woke up Friday morning with a plan… take the train to the closest city and then hitchhike to the campsite (this is not as bizarre as it sounds, Thai’s are more than willing to pick up a few farangs in the back of their pick-up trucks). Needless to say, it is never a good idea to have a set-in-stone plan, as we found out trying to buy our tickets at the train station ticket counter, “No train, have accident, no train today.” “Is there a train tomorrow?” “Don’t know, maybe no train, accident.” Well great!

After two mini-buses and a motorbike taxi, the local songtaew dropped us off at the park entrance, leaving us to find our own ride to the campsite (25 km into the national park). It was shocking how quickly a Thai family stopped their pick-up truck and told us to jump in the back. I couldn’t help but think that this kindness to a foreigner would be hard to find in the US.

Saturday morning, the six of us hitchhiked a ride to the visitor’s center to begin our morning hike, traveling 8km into the jungle, ending up at Haew Suwat, the waterfall used in the film “The Beach.” A Thai man standing outside the office recommended we hire a guide for the hike, as the deer and elephant tracks can make the trail some what confusing.

There are wild monkeys, elephants and deer at Khao Yai, but between our loud conversation and game of twenty questions, I wasn’t expecting to see wildlife. About an hour into our hike, Philip, our guide who had yet to speak, stopped in his tracks and began repeating the word, “beah, beah, beah”. Confused, I looked up into the ceiling of the jungle and saw a fully-grown black bear barreling down a tree.  Philip was saying, “Bear”, which was soon followed by him yelling, “RUN!” Philip took off running and all I could do was try to keep up. The six of us instinctively started running and yelling, “oh my god, oh my god” along with a few swear words. We were lucky; the bear didn’t follow us. Philip was not carrying a weapon. It was one of the most exhilarating moments of my life. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the bear. If I had I might not be here to tell the tale.

That night, we decided to treat ourselves by renting a grill and charcoal. We had a feast: grilled chicken with chili sauce, snow peas, grilled corn, white rice and best of all, grilled bananas for dessert. Thai’s are not familiar with S’mores, but with six Americans, we improvised: grilled banana in between two Oreo cookies.  I will be the first to say, it was better than S’mores.

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