Super Simple Pearl Barley Salad w/ Sweet Potato

I work from home, so I'm always searching for quick and easy lunch ideas. I've learned over the years to cook more than I need. I like to always have a healthy starch ready to go in the fridge. On Sundays, I usually cook a big pot of brown/wild rice, quinoa or pear barley! That way, I can use the rice during the week for different recipes. You can do the same with sweet potatoes! Cook 2 at the beginning of the week. Re-heat them for lunch or throw an egg on top. 

Pear Barley Salad

Ingredients: 

  • Chicken Jalapeño Sausage (from Whole Foods)
  • Pear Barley
  • Butternut Squash
  • Yellow Pepper
  • Red Pepper 
  • Red Onion
  • Green Onion
  • Parsley
  • Parmigiano-Reggioano 
  • Salt / Pepper
  • Garlic Salt 
  • Olive Oil

How To - Pearl Barley Salad: 

  • Follow the pearl barley instructions. Barley usually takes 45 - 50 minutes. Plan accordingly! 
  • Peel and chop your butternut squash into cubes. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until squash cubes are soft. 
  • In a sauté pan, cook your sausage all the way through. Slice and brown again. Remove the sausage from pan.
  • In the same pan add red onion, bell peppers and sauté. If it's a bit dry, add a drizzle of olive oil. 
  • Saute for about 5 minutes or until onions turn translucent and peppers are a bit cooked. Add the sausage back in and mix together for another 2 - 3 minutes. 
  • When the barley is finished cooking, add the barley to a large bowl. In the same bowl, add the cooked butternut squash, onion, peppers and sausage mixture. 
  • Toss and season to your liking. 
  • For garnish and extra green. Add chopped flat leaf parsley and green onion. Toss again. 

How To - Sweet Potato

  • Cover sweet potato in foil. Depending on the size of the potato, cook for 45 minutes plus.  When the sweet potato is soft, it's done!  

Serve the pearl barley salad next to the sweet potato. I'm a huge fan of flaking/finishing salt!!! I added Jacobsen Flaking Sea Salt to the sweet potato. Bon Apetit! 

DIY Floral Gift Wrapping

Tis the season y'all. Pretty packaging and gift wrapping is pretty high up on my must have list! There's nothing better than receiving a pretty package or buying a product that has the BEST packaging! Usually, when the outside looks good, you know you're in for a treat.

I've been drying dried flowers from various projects and finally had a chance to put them to use! For the full tutorial and more pics head over to The Jungalow Blog: http://www.thejungalow.com/2015/12/melanies-dried-floral-diy-wrapping-tutorial.html#comments

HAPPY WRAPPING!

Original DIY, photography and styling by Melanie S. 

Fresh Arugula Salad Recipe

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Homemade salads have always been a little eh to me! I've gotta get my greens in some how, so I've been testing out a few ingredients and playing with different types of lettuce. My two favorites are arugula and butter lettuce. Two polar opposites but both super delicious. There's a restaurant here in LA (Little Doms in Los Feliz) that serves the most simple arugula side salad. There's not much to it but the lettuce, parmigiano reggiano and lemon dressing.  I figured I'd start with that base and build from there. 

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Salad Ingredients: 

Arugula Lettuce

Pomegranate Seeds

Persian Cucumbers 

Parmigiano Reggiano

Finishing Salt (Jacobsen Salt Co. or Maldon Flaking Salt)


Dressing Ingredients:

Olive Oil

Fresh squeezed Lemon Juice

Whole Grain Dijon Mustard

Salt & Pepper  

Build the salad to your liking and make your dressing. For the dressing I mixed all of the ingredients together, using more olive oil than lemon and about half a tablespoon of the dijon mustard. Taste as you go for the dressing. You can always add more lemon, olive oil and salt. Shake or whisk together and boom! 


Summer in New York

This summer was filled with some pretty sweet adventures, one of them being a quick trip to New York. I've been to NY a handful of times and every time I go I try and stay in a new neighborhood. I'm a huge fan of Brooklyn and typically stay in that part of NY. This time around we stayed in the "hip" neighborhood of Willimasburg in Brooklyn. This part of Brooklyn is stuffed with boutiques, restaurants, markets and vintage shops. Our Airbnb was a block from one of the best streets (depending on what you like) in Willimasburg - Bedford Ave. That street has a little bit of everything, including a convenient L Train that goes directly into Manhattan. If you catch yourself in NY, do your self a favor and hop over to Brooklyn! There's so many cute neighborhoods full of things to see, eat and do!  Here are a few of my favorites spots around Brooklyn (BK) and Manhattan. 

Eats & Sips: 

  1. Traif for Dinner - BK
  2. Cheap and yummy bagels at Bagel Smith  - BK
  3. Fabulous Moroccan food at Cafe Mogador Williamsburg - BK
  4. Bedford Cheese Shop - BK
  5. Dram for a great Gin Martini - BK
  6. Mastbrothers Chocolate Store - BK

Parks:

  1. DUMBO Park/Waterfront - crazy views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. Great place to bring a blanket and a picnic. 
  2. Fort Green Park - BK
  3. McCarren Park - BK
  4. The Highline in Manhattan - walk around The Highline and when your feet tire, head to Chelsea Market food hall! Gourmet snacks and food galore. (in the Meat Packing district). 
  5. The one and only Central Park in Manhattan! 

Shops: 

  1. Whisk - A fun kitchen store with every gadget known to man! - BK
  2. Adaptations NY 
  3. Eclectic Collectibles in Brooklyn 
  4. A&G Merchandise - BK
  5. Homecoming - BK

Do yourself a favor and put Brooklyn and Manhattan on your lists of places to visit! Make sure you have some time too! NY in a weekend is tough, but do able. 

Floral Friday

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It's been awhile since I've played with flowers (July 4th to be exact)! I'm itching to head back to the flower market, but until then I'll have to look at some past blooms. These are 3 of my favorites. Top left was made from scraps top right was for a client for Secretary's Day and the bottom arrangement was decor for a dinner party. Love the tiny Chamomile flowers and the pink Lisianthus together!! Have a great weekend and Happy Friday!

Festive 4th of July Weekend

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It sure does feel great to be an American! A mix of celebrating the 4th of July and the US Women's Soccer team taking the title made for a fun time. This weekend was spent with amazing friends, yummy dishes and plenty of cold drinks! On the menu --> 8 hour slow cooked pork ribs, grilled chicken legs (used a brine for the first time and it made a hellava difference), homemade bbq sauce, potato salad, a festive blueberry galette, fruit salad, grilled veggies, corn, fried rice, cookies and the best cupcakes in Los Angeles -- Big Man Bakes. This rustic blueberry crostata is still my go to desert. I usually make the dough the night before and it turns into a 20 minute prep job for the next day. For the ribs, I like a dry rub. I'm not a fan of ribs smothered in a ton of bbq sauce. I pretty much used every spice in the spice cabinet. Cumin, chili powder, coriander, nutmeg, salt, pepper, paprika, powdered ginger, cinnamon, garlic powder, onion powder, and the list goes on!! Marinate them over night and put them in the oven on low for 7 - 9 hrs and BOOM. I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend spent with family, great food and relaxation! 

Succulent Bowl

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Succulents have been trending for a while now and will be for years to come (at least here in SoCal where it's rained 3 times in 5 months). You can find them in terrariums, wreaths, wall art and ground cover. They aren't a fussy plant and are pretty drought tolerant. Which means if you have a black thumb and forget to water your plants, these are for you! If you over water them, they will die; they only need water every now and then!  I've been growing succulents for about 6 years, some new, some old and some really really old. I've lost a few along the way and gained new ones from propagation. If you don't remember what that is from grade school, basically my plants had babies and started a new plant. I took the succulent babies and grew a completely new plant. *Note: If you plan on handling the cacti, buy a good pair of thick gardening gloves! The needles HURT. Happy Planting!

The plants below are the newest addition to the loft garden.

Greek Yogurt Bowl

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I promise this isn't bird food! This has been my go to breakfast the past few weeks. It's super quick and pretty healthy. I keep the base the same but switch up the toppings. The only way I can eat plain greek yogurt is if I add a million toppings to it. I like adding the honey because it gives the yogurt a sweet kick without making it unhealthy. You can sub out any fruit and or nut.

Lemon Lavender Pound Cake

I was thumbing through an old Bon Appetit magazine and I came across this unique recipe. Ironically I had all of the ingredients on hand including the lavender (random, I know). The lavender was left over from this recipe. If you can't find dried lavender buds in your local market, most spice shops have them. I got mine from a spice shop in Silverlake. Also, I have a new love for whole vanilla beans. I'm not sure why it took me this long to use them! They are expensive but worth every penny. 

Blood Orange +Burrata Salad

Ever wonder how the citrus in your restaurant salads look so perfect? Well, here you go. The trick is in the slicing.

  • Slice off the top and bottom of the blood orange (BTW, this can be done with any citrus).
  • Slice around the fruit to remove the skin and the pith of the entire piece of fruit. Be careful not to slice off too much pulp. You can remove any left behind pith later. 
  • Place your knife between the membranes and individually remove the citrus slices. All membranes and pith should be sliced off. 

Once each citrus slice is cut out, the middle section can be tossed or eaten. 

Blood Orange Salad Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Blood Orange
  • Burrata Cheese
  • Mint
  • Honey
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt

DIY Flavored Kettle Chips

I'd choose a salty bag of potato chips over a piece of sweet cake any day of the week. One of my favorite things to do when I travel abroad is to check out the country's chip flavors. They always match with the country's top cuisines. I've had ramen flavored chips in Japan, beef flavored chips in Botswana, olive oil chips in Italy, jamon and queso in Spain and one of my all time favorites are the cajun crawtator flavored chips right out of Louisiana. When I saw Clinton Kelly from The Chew transform a plain bag of kettle chips, I almost fell out of my chair. Why hadn't I thought of this before? It's so simple. Purchase a plain bag of kettle chips and season them myself, duh. The flavor combinations are endless. I made these a little fancy and served them in brown paper bags for each guest. You could decorate the bags, but I left these plain.

Materials:

  • Brown Paper Bag
  • Scissors
  • Plain Kettle Chips (salted or unsalted)
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Paprika
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper
  • Rosemary 

How To:  

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Drop plain kettle chips in a bag, add seasonings to your liking, shake the bag then divide them up between the empty bags or pour in bowl.The flavor combinations are endless here. There are a million spices and flavors out there. You could even make a sweet batch if you have a sweet tooth; maybe cinnamon, brown sugar, all spice and nutmeg.

Goat Cheese Crostinis + Proscuitto

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Sooo....we made goat cheese. This was a pretty awesome project that will happen again and again. It takes a few days for the cheese to set and "age" but it's worth the work and wait.  We stole the flavor idea from one of our favorite cheese makers, Cypress Grove. They make two of my favorite cheeses, Purple Haze and Midnight Moon.  The recipe ended up making 6 disks of the goat cheese; three flavored and three plain. We added fennel pollen and lavender buds to the outside of the goat cheese and aged it for a few days.  I made a couple of recipes with the cheese but, these crostinis were my favorite! This recipe is pretty easy and only involves caramelizing the onions. FYI...you do not have to make your cheese from scratch. You can buy any type of goat cheese from the market. Ingredients: 

  • Crusty bread
  • Goat cheese
  • Tomatoes (I used heirloom)
  • Caramelized onions (recipe here)
  • Any type of dried ham, proscuitto, salami, coppa etc

How to:

  • Slice bread into round disks
  • Slice tomato and rub the bread with the tomato juice and seeds 
  • Layer the rest of the ingredients on top of the bread 
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This can be made as an appetizer or as a compliment to any kind of tomato based soup. I didn't bother toasting the bread because the point of the tomatoes is to saturate the bread with tomato "juice". Enjoy! If you make this dish or anything else form Pickles+Palmtrees, please send us an email and let us know how it turns out.

House Plant Inspiration

I spent much of the weekend digging in the dirt and drawing up plans for a DIY plant bench. I'm half way there with the design; I'm just waiting on the delivery of a few parts. Oh, and when I say digging in the dirt, that means container plant dirt; I live in a loft. Not having outdoor space, doesn't mean you can't have an indoor "garden" to enjoy. There are so many ways you can pull together an indoor plant space. Just be aware of the type of plants you are buying and the lighting in your house. Some plants need more light than others. Today's mood board is dedicated to House Plants. I've been obsessing and day dreaming about plants so here's a few indoor plant designs that I think nailed it. Sourced From:  1. Urban Outfitters   2. Buzzfeed   3. Gardenista   4. West Elm   5. SF Girly By Bay   6. Free People

Ripened Pear Granita

I'm a big fan of snow cones, slushies, hawaiian ice and pretty much anything frozen and fruity. Los Angeles doesn't really have the corner snow cone stands like in the South so the closest thing to getting that is to make it myself. These can be made with pretty much any ripened juicy fruit. Materials & Ingredients: 

  • Pie Dish or Pan (Metal or Glass)
  • Juice of 4 ripened Pears (I used this juicer)
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • Mint Simple Syrup (you can use this recipe) 
  • Cinnamon (Optional)

How To:

  1. Juice the pears and lemon.
  2. Strain your juice a few times to create a smooth texture. 
  3. Add a small amount of simple syrup (to your liking) and mix well. 
  4. Pour the mixture into the pan and place in the freezer. 
  5. Every 20 minutes run your fork through the mixture to break up the ice and fluff. Doing this will create individual ice crystals.
  6. When the mixture is fluffy and frozen its ready to eat. 
  7. Optional - Sprinkle cinnamon on top and garnish. 
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Flower Bouquet Gift Wrapping

I can thank my Mother for my obsession with plants and flowers. I stare at flowers, I buy flowers, I forage flowers, but most importantly I love giving flowers. I realized that my vase collection (which is a little ridiculous right now) was dwindling and I needed a solution.  Instead of giving away my vases or buying vases I started wrapping the flowers that I wanted to gift. See below for a quick how to. When you gift your flowers, don't forget to let the person know to unwrap them and immediately put them in water! They could also do a few of these things to make their flowers last longer. 

Materials Needed:

  1. Flowers
  2. Paper
  3. Rubberband
  4. Ribbon
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Easy Caramelized Onions

If you've never made caramelized onions, I suggest you give it a shot. Even if you aren't a fan of onions, I promise you'll love these. That disturbing tart taste of an uncooked onion gets cooked out and turned into sweet caramel goodness. Make a big batch and store them in the fridge for a few days. They are tasty on pretty much everything - sandwiches, soups, eggs, burgers, crostinis, etc.There are a million recipes floating around for caramelized onions but I like to make mine with these 3 ingredients: sugar (brown or white), butter and olive oil. Sometimes I use salt, but that depends on what I'm eating. Ingredients:

  • Onions
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Sugar
  • Salt (optional)

How To:

Melt butter and olive oil in the pan together on medium heat. Add the onions to the pan and coat with the butter and olive oil mixture. Sprinkle the sugar on the onions and make sure all of the onions are coated. Cook on medium heat tossing periodically. Cook slow and be patient. 

Tips: 

If your onions are translucent, turn up the heat. If your onions are getting charred, turn down the heat. Your onions should brown evenly and end up a pretty caramel color. If you want a slight crunch to them do not cook them as long.