I'm still swooning over the deep red dahlias that are in bloom right now.

Today, as I was strolling around Whole Foods, I found myself in the flower section looking for some inspiration. I was drawn to the deep, dramatic red of the dahlias and the soft, romantic pink of the tube roses. The two stems are so different in shape and texture, I knew they would make a unique arrangement.

I had some fun playing around with the stems on my friend's balcony this afternoon. Her apartment has some really beautiful rustic structural elements... and her ocean view isn't too shabby either.  Typically I like tighter arrangements. But today (maybe I'll blame it on the heat spike we've been having the past few days in LA) I opted for a larger vase giving the flowers plenty of space to spread out and create a little movement.


I'm heading to the Westchester Farmer's Market tomorrow morning on my way in to work. Hopefully I'll find some gems to inspire both stems and savories posts :)


Fresh and Healthy.


My favorite late-summer vegetable is the heirloom tomato. It tastes sweeter than a roma or garden tomato and its difficult not to love the range of color it can bring to any dish. While my sister is a whiz at more complex dishes, I tend to stick to what I know: simple.

Here is a super easy Caprese Salad recipe, that works as a great side dish for any meal.

heirloom caprese

1 container heirloom cherry tomatoes/ 3 large heirloom tomatos varying colors
1 avocado
1/2 package fresh mozzarella cheese
handful of basil
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt + pepper to taste

Chop, dice and slice however you like and throw it all into a bowl. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic on top. Add salt and pepper, stir and voila! Instant healthy treat. 


As much as I love having basil growing in my garden right outside my front door, it's been a little bit of a struggle to maintain. It began with the hundreds of millions of raindrops that happened to fall the week after I planted. And the fact that I didn't know that I needed to poke holes in the bottom of my outdoor flower pots... maybe I should have done some more research before starting an above-ground garden? Anyways... all of my herb and flower pots flooded from all of the rain and I had to replant my entire garden. So, I got a bit of a late start you might say. The next issue was that I hadn't realized how often pots need to be watered! I'm used to gardening in the ground where the soil doesn't dry out so easily. It may not seem like such a task to water every day- and it's really not- but our hose doesn't work, so I had to wait until we went through enough gallon ice cream containers to use those as my watering buckets in order to make the process efficient. I literally carry 8 buckets of water out every day and throw one on each pot. And I'm sure the plants would still appreciate even more! Once I figured out the watering protocol, the basil went wild! I had to thin it probably four times because it was inhibiting it's own growth. Which is really bittersweet: exciting because my basil was growing, but disappointing because I wish that I had just had room to spread the seeds out in the first place! But finally, after droughts and tangled roots, my basil was finally ready for pesto- the real culmination of summer gardening and cooking. My mom and I wait the whole summer for the moment that the basil is ready for pesto. This year I wasn't home for us to make it together, but coincidentally, we both happened to make it last weekend- just 350 miles apart. I think that proves that it's the perfect time to make pesto:)

sweet basil pesto

1 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 large garlic cloves
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups very tightly packed basil leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Toast the pine nuts over medium-low heat until they begin to brown and a nutty aroma develops. Make sure to move them around fairly often so they don't burn. This should take about 4-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, using the grater attachment of your food processor, grate the Parmesan. Remove the shredded cheese from the processor.

When the pine nuts are done, add them and the garlic cloves to the food processor and pulse to a fine grain.

Then add the oil and pulse to combine. Next add the basil leaves. I didn't bother washing mine since I know exactly what went on them- just water. But, if you've bought them from a non-organic vendor, definitely wash the leaves first. Try your best to pat them dry with a paper towel though because you don't want the water to dilute your pesto! Pulse to a paste.

Then add the Parmesan, salt, and lemon juice. Pulse again to your desired consistency.

If the pesto is too thick for your preferences, add more olive oil. If it is too thin, add more basil leaves. Adjust salt to taste. This recipe made about 1 1/2 small mason jars of pesto. Less than I would hope for the summer, but unfortunately I think that's all I'm going to get out of my basil crop this year.


This meal began with one requirement: I needed to use the spinach withering in my refrigerator. It was past the point where I could use it in a salad, so I had to find a way to cook with it. I couldn't figure out a specific dish that I was hungry for, but I knew I was hungry for eggplant. And mushrooms. And potatoes! So, the solution was to combine all of them together in a curry! I'm not sure if this a traditional curry- I just added spices that sounded good to me at the time. But, I think it's definitely more on the Indian side of things if I had to take a guess. Which is my favorite type of food, by the way. For a while I tried to make Indian by modeling my favorite restaurant dishes (Matar Paneer, Vegetable Korma, and Chicken Tikka Masala), but always ended up frustrated because it was never as good as it was when I bought it from the restaurant. No surprise, right? My Indian food was still good... it just wasn't the same. So, I stopped making Indian for a while and just relied on India House down the street to slake my cravings. And then one day this summer I somehow unintentionally ended up making Chana Saag and LOVING it. I think it rekindled my obsession with experimenting with Indian cooking because I've made some sort of Indian curry at least once every two weeks since then:) And they've all turned out really well! I realized that I think the reason why they have been turning out so well is because I have no expectations going in, and I approach the meal with an experimental mentality: taste, decide what flavors I want more of, add an ingredient, repeat. In a restaurant that may not be the most efficient or sanitary way to do things, but for me it works out perfectly. Like I said, I don't know how authentic this is since I'm making it up as I go, but it tastes like Indian to me and satisfies my desire to eat Indian all day every day, so that's good enough for me!

eggplant, mushroom, spinach, and potato curry

1 onion
10-12 small red potatoes
2 tomatoes
2 small eggplants
3 baby bella mushrooms
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 handfuls spinach
Olive oil to coat the pan
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
2 cups water
Salt to taste

Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Slice the onion very thinly; I used a mandolin recently gifted to me by my dad and IT WAS AMAZING! I couldn't have even imagined that it would be so efficient!

Drizzle some olive oil in the pan and sauté the onion, stirring often, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, slice the eggplant into thin discs and then into fourths, chop the potatoes into fourths, chop the tomatoes, and slice the mushrooms. 

When the onions are ready, sprinkle the chili powder, cumin, tumeric, paprika and Garam Masala over the onions and stir to coat the onions evenly. Add the potatoes, increase the heat to medium, and cook for about 10 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan and stir. They will begin to release their juices after about a minute. At this point, you can add the tomato paste and stir to coat the onions and potatoes. 

Add the eggplant and mushrooms, stir to distribute among the onions and potatoes, and then pour 2 cups of water into the pan. 

Boil for 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes begin to soften. Then add the spinach and cook for another 10 minutes, until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork. Serve over rice.


It is my perfect summer day: 80 degrees and sunny. Naturally, I want to spend every second outside. I already played tennis this morning, tended to my garden, ate my beet and feta salad lunch outside on our front stoop, and walked to Whole Foods. After all of that, I still was not ready to go inside yet. But, I was at a loss as to what to do with myself. I'm used to working in the lab all day every week day, and usually a few hours on Saturday and Sunday, so when I have so much time I never know how to spend it because there are so many possibilities! My initial reaction is to go crazy and cook and plan more experiments for work and meet up with friends and clean the house and start writing my honors proposal for this next academic year and and and... but not today. I promised myself that I would r.e.l.a.x. That may sound easy, but it's really not for me! I've also spent 100% of my time these last few weeks with other people, so I really wanted to make today (besides tennis, of course) a day where I don't plan, and I just do- all by myself. Do whatever feels good to me at the time, you know? As long as those things don't involve any sort of work. It's a tough limitation to set for myself, but I think it's important that everyone take some time to themselves every once in a while to step back and re-discover what we appreciate most in our lives. I've only been practicing this today for a few hours, but already I've become very aware of how important family, friends, cooking, school, and research are to me. Because I can't get them off of my mind! Yes, that might be a small annoyance, but I think it is an honest indication of my values. Anyways, back to the point of all of this... I wasn't ready to go inside. But, I wanted to do something outside other than sit. So, I decided to make sun tea and a flower bouquet from my garden:)

fresh mint sun tea

1 mason jar full of water
2 mint tea bags
15-20 mint leaves

I'm going to guess you could make this without any directions. So, just for fun, I'm only going to post pictures!

Now, I bet you're wondering where I got the mint from? No? Ha, I guess I just wanted to share.

That's the mint in the back left! I've got basil (top middle), sage (right), oregano, (lower middle), and lavender (front with purple flowers!). I have to admit, I'm quite proud of this herb pot. I literally walk out to it every day to pick something to use with my dinner! And it is so beautiful from the street. I honestly didn't think the herbs would take off as nicely as they did! I'm sure the plants would love some more room, but unfortunately I had to use pots for my garden since the soil is terrible, and, since I won't be spending another summer in this house, I figured the effort it would take to start a real garden would be too high for the payoff. But, I cannot wait until I have a more permanent housing situation and can start my own garden, the real way:)

I also have a few flowers! I know C usually posts the stems, but I figured it was only right to post an arrangement from my garden:) Now, I will say that, aside from the zinnias, the flowers in my garden aren't the best for arrangements. I chose them mostly because they were annuals, again since I won't be here in the future, they were tall (gotta cover up that foundation!), and because they were bright. So, even though they aren't perfect for arrangements, fresh flowers in the dining room never killed anyone, right?! It just makes me so happy to walk into the house to find a bouquet welcoming me:) Definitely worth the imperfection.


Usually when I do our house shopping at Costco I bring home the same variety of produce every time. Not that our usual selection is boring- we buy all of the summer berries, peaches and plums, in addition to every standard vegetable and fruit you could name. But this time Costco was selling something I had never seen there before: figs. I had to buy them! I didn't know what I was going to make with them yet, but I couldn't turn down the opportunity to experiment. I actually don't think I had ever even tasted a fresh fig before, so I had no idea how they are most often eaten. But, I figured that most fruits caramelize nicely when baked, and decided to create an appetizer that capitalized on this trend. We had a baguette leftover from a brunch and some goat cheese, so I decided that was a good enough place to start:)

fig and goat cheese tartines

8 thin slices of baguette
Goat cheese
2 stems fresh oregano
4 figs,
Salt to taste

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the baguette slices on the baking sheet and sprinkle with goat cheese, then oregano leaves. Wash the figs and slice in half; place fruit side up on top of each piece of bread. Drizzle with honey, salt to taste, and broil for roughly five minutes until the edges of the bread are charred and fig juice begins to coagulate in the center of the fruit. It's that simple!


One of my favorite parts about living in the Midwest in the summer is the sweet corn! Although its delicious boiled, grilling sweet corn is something everyone should try at some point. It's just as easy, but much more flavorful. Plus, the kernels are quite aesthetically pleasing when charred:) We often grill corn for dinner, and then shave the kernels off to store and eat as leftovers the following day. This time, rather than eating the leftovers at lunch, I decided to have them for breakfast. I've tried making corn pancakes with fresh corn, and that's pretty tasty, but this time I wanted something that I could eat over toast since we had my favorite torta rolls (from Costco!) on hand. So, I opted for a basted egg, Parrano cheese made by Uniekaas (my favorite cheese brand from Whole Foods- definitely check it out!), and roasted corn over a toasted torta roll:) It was a delicious decision!

roasted corn over a basted egg on toast

1 egg
3-4 slices Parrano cheese, or another gouda
Torta rolls, halved (any roll will do- these are just my favorite!)
1/3 cup roasted corn that has been shaved from the cob (recipe to follow)
Salt to taste

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Spray the pan, then crack an egg over the skillet. Fry until the egg begins to set, about 30 seconds. Meanwhile, toast your torta roll. 

When the edges or the egg begin to pop up and down from the heat, pour about 1/8 cup water into the skillet and cover with a lid. Cook for about 30 more seconds, until the egg white is completely cooked but the yolk remains runny. 

Transfer the egg to a clean plate. Butter the toast, place the egg on top, pierce the yolk with a fork, and then place the cheese slices on top. 

Finally, sprinkle the roasted corn over the toast, salt to taste, and voila! You've got yourself a delicious breakfast:)

grilled corn

Desired number of ears of corn
Water bath

Remove all but two layers of husk from each ear of corn. Let the corn soak in a water bath for 30 minutes while preheating the grill to medium-high heat. Grill the corn for about 12-15 minutes, rotating every three or so minutes. The husks will burn, but your corn will be nicely roasted and just slightly charred. Remove from the grill and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing the husks and then serve right away! If there are any uneaten cobs remaining, shave the kernels from the cob and store in an airtight container for further use.


Trader Joes is one of my favorite one-stop-shops for all kinds of delicious goodies. The same holds true for their fresh flowers. Extremely affordable (like everything else in the store), these flowers last just as long as any fancy, expensive stem you can find. They also have a great selection of what's in season.

Last month we were loving the rich-colored snap dragons. Trader Joe's had a beautiful array of deep purples, fuchsias and pinks. We partnered them with some neon green daisies and put them into some funky mason jars. It was a cheap, fun way to really brighten up the house.


My mom and I were out in the garden at the lake house when I mentioned that I wanted to grill some cherry tomatoes for dinner. We were admiring the rosemary when she remembered that an herb magazine she had been reading had suggested using rosemary stalks as skewers. So, we cut some rosemary and brought it inside to make skewers for grilling our cherry tomatoes. Since we had so much rosemary to use and had bought salmon that morning, I decided we could grill the salmon too and marinade it with rosemary. And so began a fun and ultimately delicious adventure!

grilled salmon

1 large salmon fillet 
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice from one lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 sprig rosemary

Drizzle the olive oil and lemon juice over the salmon. Sprinkle the minced garlic, salt, and rosemary leaves over the fillet and use your hands to distribute the seasonings properly, flipping over the salmon to coat entirely. Allow the salmon to marinade for two hours. Then preheat the grill to medium heat. Place the salmon on the preheated grill and cook for 6-8 minutes on each side, until flaky when pierced with a fork.

grilled cherry tomatoes on rosemary skewers

15-20 cherry tomatoes
4-5 stalks of rosemary
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Though this is a little tedious, start by peeling off all of the leaves on the rosemary stalks. Using a toothpick, poke a hole through each cherry tomato, beginning where the tomato was once attached to the plant. Then thread the rosemary stalk through the tomatoes until the stalk is full. Place all of the skewers in a dish and drizzle with olive oil. Coat with the garlic and salt and let marinade while the grill preheats to medium heat. Place on the preheated grill and roast for about 10 minutes on each side, until charred.

blueberry and gorgonzola salad

4 cups greens
1 avocado
3/4 cup blueberries
1/3 cup crumbled gorgonzola
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 onion
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Slice the onion very thinly and add to the melted butter. Sauté for about 15 minutes until translucent. Add the brown sugar and sauté for about 10 more minutes until caramelized. Meanwhile, chop the avocado and add to the greens. Add the blueberries and gorgonzola to the salad. Add the balsamic vinegar to the caramelized onions and boil until reduced to a thick sauce. Purée with a hand mixer. Mix in the olive oil, honey, and salt. Let cool before dressing the greens.