The holidays this year will be a little lonely…

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My husband and I decided to stay in Seattle for the holidays this year….No tree, no decoration, no hosting white elephant / dinner parties, and probably no snow. I heard Seattle rarely gets snow. Damn, I miss the fluffy, fat snow flakes in Chicago.
This will be my very first Christmas and New Year’s spending it without being surrounded by family. When I mentioned this to my husband, he got slightly bit upset at the mention of me wanting to be with my “family” during the holidays. I guess this is something I never really thought about because for me, “my family” always consisted of my mom, dad, and sister. He explained to me that to him, his definition of “family” is me, our dogs, and our soon-to-be son. Felt a bit ‘put in my place’ and bad that I hadn’t thought of that. And my husband is right, I do have my own family now and need to start making our own little family holiday traditions =).

I came across this photo that I took while Christmas shopping last December on Michigan Ave and I can’t help but miss my former, glorious city so much. Everything about this photo captures the holiday essence so perfectly. If you are actually on that street in person during this time, you will hear lovely street musicians performing jazz holiday songs, hand out extra change to bums and their warmly bundled up dogs (the dogs are what gets you! I am too soft for pups), dodge shoppers with mountains of shopping bags…and oh how could we forget…listen to hundreds of little girls screaming for their American Girl dolls. Blizzard or not, Chicago is just extra lovely during the holidays….and I miss it so much! And I can’t wait to take our little baby Liam to the city mommy came from!

xoxo!

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Butternut Squash and Chanterelle soup

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This is a beautiful, delicious and perfect for that chilly day soup. I feel very fortunate to live in a city where year round farmers markets are a regular thing and fresh, locally grown and picked organic produce are abundant here in Washington. A few days ago, I couldn’t resist picking up a handsome looking butternut squash and right next to it was a mushroom stall full of Chanterelles. I’ve never cooked with them before but I do LOVE the taste of them! There’s only about 2-3 more weeks left of Chanterelle season and the next mushroom will replace this to have it’s glory fungus moment. So stock up on your chanterelles!

For this particular soup, the ingredients are very simple and so easy to make. I literally used whatever I had in my fridge and came up with this delicious pot of soup. If you have a good fundamental grasp on basic soup making, this will be a breeze for you.

(Please excuse the bad lighting / quality of the photos…I decided to make this soup at 11pm and felt too lazy to bust out my nice camera)

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Ingredients:

– 1 butternut squash
– 1 lb of chanterelle mushrooms
– 5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
– 1 tablespoon of butter
– 3 cloves of garlic
– salt and pepper
– pinch of cinnamon
– 3 cups of good low-sodium chicken stock
– 1 cup of water
– brown sugar (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Quarter the butternut squash, scrape out the seeds, and on a pan, lightly drizzle with olive oil and salt. Optional: you can sprinkle the squash with brown sugar for sweetness. Roast for 50 minutes to an hour. Or until nicely browned and caramelized.

2. While that is roasting, rinse the chanterelles, and chop into small pieces. Set aside. Mince 3 cloves of garlic. In a hot pan, melt tablespoon of butter (add a bit of olive oil to pan so the butter doesn’t burn). Add minced garlic and let that brown for 30 seconds. Add chanterelles and sautee for a few minutes. Add a dash of salt and pepper.  Add about 4 sprigs worth of thyme leaves – not the stems! (I just run my fingers against the opposite direction the leaves grow in and just scrape it off). Cook until chanterelles are soft and buttery! Set aside.

3. Take butternut squash out of oven and with a spoon, scrape all that yummy squash meat out. Add the scraped out squash into a stock pot or dutch oven pot. Add 3 cups of chicken stock and 1 cup of water. (you can add more or less depending on the consistency of soup you want. Just start with less liquid and you can always add more stock if you want it to be more thin…). Once the stock comes to a boil. Use a hand held emulsifier/blender and blend away the stock and make sure you get all the squash parts until everything becomes nicely pureed.

4. Add the cooked garlic chanterelle mix into the pot. Add just a dash of cinnamon for a hint of flavor and add about 1 teaspoon of salt to the stock. You can add more salt if you want to taste. Add leaves from remaining 2 sprigs of thyme. Simmer all together for 5 minutes.

5. Serve in a nice deep bowl with a crusty loaf of baguette. These are the times I wish we lived in France…I can easily get a perfectly crusty loaf of baguette from the downstairs boulangerie (sigh…). I also drizzle a bit of olive oil into my soup for that bistro cafe effect!

Bon appétit!

A very long overdue post…

If anyone out there still visits my long-neglected blog, I’m making a slow return! I can’t believe how long I have been absent here in this space…I have very good excuse though!

I’m sure most of you know by now, if you have been actively following my Instagram, that I am 20 weeks pregnant. A good chunk of that 20 weeks, I was mostly bed bound with horrible morning sickness / all-day (and night) nausea. Ugh, just thinking about my first trimester brings shudders and goose bumps! I remember feeling utterly miserable and depressed from the constant, debilitating nausea and felt a bit sad that I wasn’t bonding with my baby nor wanted to be pregnant. I was obsessed with googling and lived on Baby Center reading about other women’s experience with morning sickness and when it started to get better for them. Of course, reading about how all these ladies having M/S until 20+ weeks freaking scared me even more! But when I read how severe and horrific it was for my courageous blog friend, Tristan, I felt like what I was going through was truly nothing to complain about. Tristan suffered from a severe condition called hyperemesis gravidarum. Reading her story was truly inspiring and I just give her major, major respect! You can read about it here. Speaking of that wonderful lady, she also lives here in Seattle and I still need to meet up with her!

Fast forward to reaching second trimester…I remember waiting for that magical day where as soon as I hit 2nd trimester mark, I’d miraculously feel better. I spent that day having projectile vomiting and diarrhea. How discouraging. Not only that, I was diagnosed with second UTI and have to be on this medication (macro bid) until I am 36 weeks. Eh…
However, by 15 weeks, I started to feel like I was turning the corner. The nausea was replaced with daily headaches. I would rather take headaches over spending time on that stupid toilet any day! I remember for the longest time, just going into the bathroom and glancing at the toilet would repulse me…even scare me. Lol, does that even make any sense? By 16 weeks, my appetite was getting much stronger and I was starting to eat things that I couldn’t even stand – hamburgers, meats, garlicky food, korean food, spicy food, and oh! INDIAN food! I had lost 10 pounds during my first trimester (I looked so gaunt and jaundiced) and got weighed at my doctor’s appointment today and am happy to report that I have gained almost all that lost weight back!

Today, I am 20 weeks and last week we found out we are having a boy! My husband and I were SO sure that we were going to have a girl. My gut instinct was telling me it was a girl. But now I’m beginning to think perhaps I was confusing gut instinct with wishful thinking haha! It took me a few days to let it sink in that we are having a boy and was honestly a just a tad bit sad that I couldn’t shop for all the cute girly accessories and dress the baby in bright, feminine colors and patterns. Even now, it’s SO hard to walk into Baby Gap or Old Navy and pass through all the cute girly stuff (which takes up like 80% of the store – sad). However, at the end of the day, my husband and I just want our son to be a healthy baby. That’s all we can ask.

Oh…another thing. Researching baby products and gears – I had no idea how overwhelming this could be! Just a few weeks ago, I walked into Babys R Us for the first time and walked right out after I saw hundreds of choices for everything. Thankfully, I have been getting a lot of feedback from fellow mom friends and reading baby related posts on Cup of Jo, Oh Joy’s list of Baby Essentials, Besotted Blog and Hello Bee helped tremedously!

As for our Hello Monday, we are taking a short maternity break! My partner, Lindsay is due literally any day now – how exciting! I can’t wait to meet her little baby Cohen soon! Excited that we can have play dates with our boys =). We are also going to be revamping our website, pricing structure and have already started on a client list for the new year! Can’t believe it’s almost a year since we launched Hello Monday! Lots of exciting events happening to kick off 2014 =).

So yeah…that’s the update since I last posted….when I had NO idea I was preggers. Can’t believe how so much has happened in such a short time span. Amazing.

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(Freaky how fast the belly seems to grow…but I’m so fond of my bump!)

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Meet our lil man, Liam Nicholas Puangsuvan! I adore his tiny profile! I think he’s looking like his dad =)

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Now that I have more of my energy back, we have been out and about exploring Seattle as much as we can before baby arrives. Although, it’s annoying how easily out of breath I get.

Thanks everyone for stopping by!! I’ll be sure to update as frequently as possible! I have so many recipes to share as well!

 

 

 

We are here!

Wow. The month of July has seriously flown by. I’ve managed to pack in quite an adventure within one month and happy to be done with all the fun craziness!
The first half of the month, my husband and  I took an amazing and memorable 15-day Europe extravaganza trip to France (Paris and I’sle Sur La Sorgue), Switzerland (Lucerne and Engelberg), and Italy (Rome, Naples and Sorrento). This was a trip of a lifetime and I’m still going through a vacation withdrawal…

Oh the other hand, we have finally arrived to our new home in Seattle! It took a very long 4 day drive but we’re here!! I feel so out of touch with blogging, Hello Monday, and with just people in general that I need to just sit down in front of the computer for a solid week to catch up.
I plan on being back up and running at full speed with this blog, Hello Monday and with all my email by next week!

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The dahlias at the Pike Place Market are in full bloom and so gorgeous! Every time I come here, the flower booth gets me everytime! I’m so glad to be living in a place that offers bountiful flowers, produce and scenery!

 

Roast Provencal Chicken

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I made this beautiful and aromatic chicken a few weeks ago and I don’t think I’ll roast chicken any other way from now! Absolutely perfect for summer picnics! I cut up plenty of lemon wedges to squeeze over the chicken and for serving as well. The citrus just brought out the herb flavors perfectly! I’m getting hungry as I’m typing this…

I can only imagine how good true provencal style food is! I’ll report back to you after we arrive in Provence (L’Isle Sur La Sorgue and Avignon) in 1.5 weeks!! I can’t even focus on packing up our lives for the move to Seattle…instead, I’m just sitting here daydreaming about our 2 week trip to France, Switzerland and Italy.

 

Roast Provencal Chicken

Ingredients:
– 3 to 5 lb young chicken
– 1/4 cup good quality Herbs de Provence
– 1/4  cup olive oil
– 1 tablespoon freshly minced rosemary
– 1 sprig of rosemary
– 3 minced garlic cloves
– 1 teaspoon course kosher salt
– 1 teaspoon black pepper
– 2 whole lemon (1 lemon cut in half to stuff into cavity and save the other lemon to cut up into wedges for squeezing over chicken)
– 1 tablespoon lemon zest (use from the lemon that you will stuff into cavity)
– twine or string

Directions:
– preheat oven to 450 (yes, it’s very high but you will be turning it down halfway into the roasting process).
– In a small mixing bowl, combine 1/4 cup of Herbs de Provence, 1 tablespoon of minced rosemary, 1 tablespoon lemon zest, salt and pepper, minced garlic, and the 1/4 cup of olive oil and make a paste out of it.
– Put the young chicken in a roasting pan and spread the paste thoroughly INSIDE the skin of chicken and OUTSIDE generously. I just sprinkle a dash more of kosher salt all over the chicken. Cut up the lemon you zested in half and stuff it into the cavity along with 1 sprig of rosemary. Then tie up the legs with twine or string.
– Roast in 450 degree for 30 minutes. Then turn down the heat to 350 degrees and roast for another 30 minutes.
– When you take out the chicken, you will see that the skin looks crispy and it’s just crackling from all that juice! I tilt the pan and spoon the juice from the chicken all over so that it’s extra moist! Keep spooning it over your chicken!
– Let cool for 10 minutes, cut up chicken into portion and squeeze GENEROUS amounts of fresh lemon juice (1 whole lemon) all over the meat.

Bon Appetit!