Saffron Jewel Rice

It’s been way too long since I posted a recipe. You know, life, busy, yada yada yada. Chris and I made this rice dish tonight for dinner and served it with braised lamb shoulder with tomatoes, carrots and onions. The inspiration being I really wanted to make something with saffron and so we came up with this Moroccan/Middle Eastern-esque menu. Weird how random ingredient leads (or possess) us sometimes.

This weekend was busier than usual. Lets see. On Friday I got rear ended while waiting to make a left turn by a car that was being rear ended by the car behind him. That wasn’t so much fun. Still need to get back to all the insurance agents. On Saturday, I was at the Ferry Building all day at the market helping my friends at Three Babes sell pies! It was a lot of fun, very tiring, but fun. The day started off on a scary note however as the person in the stall next to us had a seizure. I could feel my heart racing the whole time. I called 911 for an ambulance while my friend helped stabilize him. Then security and more help came, and then soon after first responders arrived. It was a lot for a Saturday morning.

My evening was a bit more festive. I co-hosted a bachelorette party for two friends who are also sisters! It was a lot of fun. I miss being silly and going dancing.

Today, Chris and I took some time to unwind. We went to Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park and you know what, it was actually warm and nice out. I always forget how massive and totally awesome the park is. It’s really beautiful.

And overall, my time is consumed with getting ready for Bay Leaf Kitchen’s first week of summer cooking and farm camp starting TOMORROW. Squeals! It’s an organization that I am leading with my friends Elianna and Rachel. Follow us here, or here, or here! I guess I should get ready for bed so I can be all smiles for the little campers. It definitely helps having such a delicious dinner 🙂

Note: this recipe is a teensy bit of work but the payoff is worth it! And yes, those are corgi napkins. I am that girl.

Saffron Jewel Rice 
Recipe slightly adapted from Food Network Magazine
Serves 6


  • 1/2 teaspoon lightly crumbly saffron threads
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 wide strips orange zest, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • small pinch of cardamom, ground allspice & ground cumin
  • 2 cups basmati rice, rinsed well
  • 1/3 cup pistachios
  • 1/3 cup almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

*Sprinkle the saffron into 1/4 cup hot water, let sit 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine 2 cups water, the sugar, and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the orange zest and carrot, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl; set aside.
*Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, cinnamon stick, cardamom, allspice, cumin, and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the rice and 3/4 teaspoon salt and stir to coat. Add 3 cups of water, increase the heat to medium high and simmer until the water has mostly evaporated, about 4 minutes. Cover the pot with foil and the lid, reduce the heat to low and cook until the water is completely absorbed, about 12 minutes. (This took about 17 minutes for us.) Remove from the heat and let stand 5 minutes.
*Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pistachios and almonds and cook until just lightly golden, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add the dried cranberries and apricots, and 1 tablespoon of the prepared saffron water; stir to combine, then transfer to a bowl and set aside for topping.
*Uncover the rice and fluff with a fork; discard the cinnamon stick. Transfer about half the rice to a serving bowl. Add the remaining saffron water, 1 tablespoon butter and the reserved orange peel and carrot to the rice in the pot and stir gently. Add the yellow rice to the white rice and gently toss; sprinkle with the pistachio mixture and parsley.


Life in Pictures

I’ve had a post about our Valentine’s Day dinner in draft mode for almost 3 weeks now!! Oops…life has been a little crazy lately. And since we are leaving for our honeymoon to Vietnam TODAY, I don’t think I’ll get around to posting anytime soon. Here’s my life lately in pictures:

Valentine’s Day Dinner!

We attacked a cake with cookie cutters 🙂

Chris and Nina performing at the last The Passion Co. Shine Event.

Checking out #tulipmania at Pier 39. 

Working with Elle

Bacon, goat cheese, and apricot jam crepe with some greens – my latest go-to meal!

Quick trip to Seattle.

Off to Vietnam! See you all in a few weeks. 

Top 10 Moments of 2013

Chris and I both spent New Year’s Eve on an airplane. Though I did get to fly first class on the way back so that was fun. It really is that much better. I wish I could afford to do that all the time but alas…

I am inspired by my friend Jackie’s top 10 moments of 2013 to make my own list. 2013 was a crazy, packed year. From leaving my job, to getting engaged, to traveling to 5 countries and road-tripping down to Palm Springs and back – I almost can’t believe I managed to squeeze it all in! Below are my favorite moments from 2013, in no particular order:

1. Lets start with Paris shall we? I have more reasons to be enamored with the City of Lights since Chris surprised me and proposed under the Eiffel Tower. I’m going to cheat a little because my whole trip to Paris, from beginning to end, was filled with amazing moments that I can’t really name one moment. I will always hold a soft spot for this city. From partaking in an epic croissant crawl with Jackie (to which I think my arteries are still clogged from), to experiencing some of the best meals I’ve ever had from Chef Pierre Sang Boyer and Chef Christian Constant, and to visiting the Palace of Versailles, Paris est le meilleur.

2. Eating BBQ in Austin, TX. Finally I made it to the city that has been on my bucket list ever since I started keeping one. Austin’s overall food scene rivaled that of SF. My cousins and I all gained 5 pounds from this trip for sure. All to the tune of live music – which was everywhere including the flagship Whole Foods, which we may or may not have visited every day of our trip…

3. Watching the Boston Marathon in Kenmore Square. I love Boston and I am so happy I got to visit during Marathon weekend. I’ll never forget how the attacks shut down the entire city. Despite all that happened, I feel lucky to have been surrounded by friends and family during the tragedy that unfolded.

4. Jogging on the Beach in San Diego. After our road trip down the coast, I could definitely see why people love to live there. What’s there to complain about? There’s too much sun, the water is too warm, and the fish tacos taste too fresh. Yea, it’s a hard life.

5. Punting on the River Cam in Cambridge, UK and not falling in the river. Cambridge is such a charming city and I had a great time visiting my friend Elizabeth. I learned that everything sounds better with a British accent and that you can get a mug with the Queen’s corgis on it from Marks & Spencer. I’m still kicking myself for not getting that mug…and the matching plates.

6. Celebrating our respective engagements, in Portland, Oregon. We’re all going to be family! It was so much fun seeing each other for the first time after we both got engaged. It made exploring Portland that much more exciting.

7.  Skiing a half-pipe at Squaw and subsequently injuring my ACL, MCL, and MPFL. It only sounds painful now. Most of it has healed though I’m not quite sure I’m ready to hit the slopes again. Perhaps I’ll try my luck as a ski bunny in 2014?

8. Having Jacques Torres throw a chocolate almond in my mouth to see if I can catch it at this year’s Food & Wine Grand Tasting at Pebble Beach. His chocolates are divine. I wish I had some right now!

9. Seeing the sunset in Guam. I never thought I would visit this country but thankfully my coworker at the time convinced me to go. It was such a beautiful place with some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met.

10. Eating authentic ramen in Tokyo. I have had more layovers in Tokyo’s Narita airport than I can count and I am happy to say I finally made it out of the airport and into the city! I was fortunate to stay with my friend Mark who showed me his local haunts. My one request was ramen and he did not disappoint!

And in 20 more days, I will already have one of my favorite moments of 2014 🙂 Cheesy, I know. So sue me. By the way, I’m totally bringing back that phrase for 2014. That and “all that and a bag of chips.”

Kara thinks she’s all that and a bag of chips.

And she kind of is.

So it begins. Happy 2014!

All the Corgis!

If my friends were to play a word association game with the word “corgi,” I guarantee the first word that would come to mind is – me! (Well me or the Queen, but this post isn’t about her.) Corgis are so freakin’ cute; they’re my favorite. I love them so much that I get emails and texts from friends all the time whenever they see a corgi, read about a corgi, or do anything corgi-related.

Young Kara playing with her favorite pillow.

And with my birthday coming up (woo!) I received a salt and pepper corgi shaker set from my brother in the mail today. I also got a card from my family signed by my Mom, Dad and sis, and who else but Kara (she has excellent penmanship). Just thinking about corgis makes me happy so I thought I would make a list of my all-time favorite corgi sites and some of my favorite pics of Kara, of course! *Feel free to leave this post now if you don’t want to spend hours looking at corgis. I won’t be offended.

Corgis Begging For Stuff

Thanks Daniel for sending me this site! I love the looks of these crazed corgis as they beg for stuff.

Corgis. Get some.

Kara made this blog!

Overall, this is a cute blog for a daily dose of corgis.

Tiberius The Corgi

A corgi that lives in SF!

38 Things That Make Corgis Happy

Irrefutable Proof That Corgis Are Actually Secretly Superheroes

This cake is bonkers. 
And lastly, but not least – Pictures of Kara

No – that’s not a mouse! It was our pet hamster, “Cookie,” one of Kara’s friends.

Hope you got your corgi fix! Now it’s time for me to enjoy my birthday weekend 🙂


Hope everyone had a good 4th of July! I had a great 4-day weekend but to be honest, everyday is a weekend for me. Chris’ friend Dan was in town and we spent the holiday at our friend’s parents house in Calistoga, about 70 miles North of SF. It was gorgeous and 105 degrees F! We hung out at the pool, grilled steak and corn, and enjoyed some fireworks. Sadly I forgot to take any pictures except for the chocolate banana hazelnut bread that I made:

Darn good banana bread if I say so myself.

And my cousin, April, got engaged! Woohoo! As my cousin Stephenie joked, “he tied you down on independence day, how ironic…” Happy (and busy) times are ahead!

Did somebody say celebrate? Where’s the Moët & Chandon? 

Summer Bucket List

Summer is officially here! And the 10-day forecast for SF shows temperatures in the mid-60s.

NY or Boston? Looks like an average high of 83 degrees F.


Well Chris and I are going down to Santa Cruz this weekend for some beach weather. As of today, it looks like it will be 72 degrees F. We’ll take it.

This summer is already looking to be a busy one. Between weddings, bachelorette parties, and weekend trips away (and planning our own wedding!), Chris and I came up with a bucket list. It’s a short list of our top five things we want to accomplish this summer.

Summer bucket list:

  1. Volunteer on a farm: We want to get our hands dirty! (As long as I’m not near any farm animals.)
      1. See a concert at Stern Grove Festival: Free music in the middle of Stern Grove park = pretty cool. Though looking at the line-up, I have no clue who any of these people are. But I do love live music outdoors.
          1. Visit the Asian Art Museum: This has been something we wanted to do for awhile. The last time we tried to go, it was on one of those Bank of America sponsored museum days and the line to get in was way too long. So we left and ate lunch instead. 
          2. Go rock climbing: It feels like everyone is doing it these days so we’re going to be followers and do what’s trendy. (Just this once though.)
              1. Day at Six Flags: For reals. The last time I went to a Six Flags was back in Boston a million years ago. We only went on two rides that day. It was poorly planned. But so much fun! 
              So the list is not epic or anything – we’re not signing up for a triathlon, going skydiving, bungee jumping, etc. To be honest, I have a feeling we’ll barely finish this list by summer’s end!

              What’s on your summer bucket list? 

              Gingerbread Cookies and Cookie Swap

              Back in Boston, my job would host a cookie swap every year in December. It was awesome. You get to try out a new recipe or improve a familiar one. There would always be more cookies than anyone could ever want. And then of course, the inevitable sugar high after sampling everyone’s cookies is part of the fun.

              To carry out this tradition in my new city, I invited friends over to my little shoebox of an apartment to swap some cookies and get cracked out on sugar.

              I had a hard time deciding what to make – there are too many good cookies out there! I ended up making gingerbread; a Christmas classic. I used tree cookie cutters and decorated them with store bought cookie icing and mint M&M’s.

              The cookie swap was a success. The full list of sweets included Chocolate Peppermint Buttons, Muddy Buddies, Chocolate Sambuca Crinkles, Black Sesame Seed Cookies, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Peanut Butter Nutella Swirl Cookies, Chocolate Covered Macaroons, Coconut Drop Cookies and Cranberry Orange Bread. People told me I had to make it an annual event.

              It made me think of my coworkers in Boston.  I can’t wait to go back to Boston in January to see them! Yup, that’s right. I’m excited about freezing my face off in January. I need to embrace the cold and keep my thick skin otherwise I’ll become weak sauce living out here. Yesterday I overhead a lady saying, “It’s freeeeezing. It’s 48 degrees out!” I was thinking oh girlfriend, you don’t even know what cold is.

              Anyways, hope all of you are enjoying lots of holiday treats! Make these gingerbread cookies if you are cookie-deprived 🙂

              Gingerbread Cookies
              Recipe from Martha Stewart


              • 2 cups all-purpose flour
              • 2 tsp ground ginger
              • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
              • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
              • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
              • 1/4 tsp baking soda
              • 1/4 tsp salt
              • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
              • 1/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
              • 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
              • 1 large egg

              *In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, and salt; set aside. With an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in molasses and egg. With mixer on low, add dry ingredients; mix just until a dough forms. Place dough on floured plastic wrap; pat into an 8-inch square. Wrap well; chill until firm, 1 to 2 hours.
              *Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough in half. Working with one half at a time (rewrap and refrigerate other half), place dough on floured counter; roll out 1/8 inch thick, turning, lifting, and flouring dough (and rolling pin) as needed. Freeze dough (on paper) until firm, about 20 minutes.
              *Loosen dough from paper. Cut out shapes, and transfer to baking sheets. Decorate with sugar or sprinkles, as desired.
              *Bake until firm and edges just begin to darken, 10 to 18 minutes, depending on size. Cool completely on baking sheets.

              Note: I baked mine for 10 minutes and they came out perfect. I used 3″ cookie cutters.