Monday, February 28, 2011

How to Poach an Egg

My current food obsession when I am cooking a snack for myself is poached eggs. I've always been a fan of Eggs Benedict at brunch, but it wasn't until very recently I tried poaching eggs on my own. When I am at home, however, I skip the ham and the hollandaise sauce. Instead, I just smear a little bit of chèvre or soft gorgonzola on a multigrain-flax English muffin, and then I top the poached egg with a dash of kosher flake salt, a crack of fresh black pepper, and a chiffonade of whatever fresh herb I have lying around.

I read a bunch of different instructions on poaching eggs before I tried making my first one. This is what seems to work best for me.
  1. Fill a 2-quart nonstick saucepan halfway with water. Place your saucepan on high heat until the water is just beginning to boil.
  2. Add a splash of your cheapest vinegar and turn the heat down to medium-low.
  3. Crack an egg into a bowl and then gently pour it into the saucepan.
  4. Use a non-metal slotted spatula or turner (something that won't scratch the bottom of your pan) to nudge the whites towards the yolk.
  5. Turn off the heat and let the egg sit undisturbed for 3 minutes.
  6. Use your spatula to make sure the egg is not stuck to the saucepan.
  7. Gently lift the egg out, draining the water through the spatula slots.

Eat your masterpiece right away because on the chilly days we have been having lately, they cool rather quickly. Mine got cold in the amount of time it took for me to shoot that photo. Sad face.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Kitchenette Is Really a Garage

Food trucks are all the rage these days but it's not in every city that you can get a sandwich filled with thick slices of juicy house-smoked pastrami out of a brick garage during your lunch hour. The last time Nick and I were both home for lunch, we rolled over to the Dogpatch to check out Kitchenette. Subtitled "spontaneous organic covert nourishment", Kitchenette is one of the back garages of a collection of warehouses, open on weekdays for two hours each day or until they run out of food. If you aren't keeping your eyes peeled for the little waiting benches, you'll surely miss it. I didn't even know that pastrami was something other than peppery deli meat until I bit into the pastrami from Kitchenette.

The menu changes daily and tends to involve two meaty options and one vegetarian option every time, with spicy chicharrones as a staple. We tried the house-smoked pastrami on rye with apple mustard and caraway-braised cabbage, and the slow-smoked pulled pork sandwich with mustard barbecue sauce and sweet & sour cole slaw. The succulent pastrami and the soft cabbage melded well in flavors and textures. We felt that there were bits of the pulled pork that were a little overcooked, so the standout of that sandwich was the sweet and tangy sauce. The girl as the register could have been a little friendlier, and for the amount of time it took for us to get our order you would think they could have cut our sandwiches in half, but I suppose you can't really expect super service with this type of impromptu dining. Being the sandwich-enthusiast that I am, I would still go back.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Different Take on Stripes

Last night I had dinner with friend and It-girl, Taleen, and we agreed that stripes are really big right now. I am seeing the classic combinations of white-and-navy and black-and-white stripes all over the place, and we seem to have developed an addiction for buying striped things. But here is a completely different take on stripes that totally wowed me and bursts out of the classic striped look.

These pumps from Kate Spade are totally brilliant. I love how most of the shoe is a soft neutral shade but the heel is striped in a rainbow of color. I'm definitely keeping watch for when these go on sale.

| Photo Credit: from Kate Spade. |

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

An Afternoon at the Oxbow Public Market

Whenever Nick and I go to Napa, the highlight is visiting the Oxbow Public Market. Our favorite vineyards are more towards the Healdsburg area, so we prefer partaking in tasting rooms and foodie adventures when we do Napa day trips. I also like telling other people to visit the Oxbow Public Market when they are in the area. When it was still under a good amount of renovation last year, I felt like it was the lesser-known gem on the other side of the wine train tracks. It was much more bustling when we went over the weekend, but we still loved it (it is kind of like a mini Ferry Building on the inside). Here are some of our must-go destinations in the market.

| Hog Island Oyster Co. | I love raw bars, especially for the oysters. If you've never had raw oysters, I would encourage you to try them at least once, and at a place like this where the staff will be happy to answer your questions about texture and salinity. Otherwise, their grilled oysters are also delicious and tend to pack together great combinations of flavors into the little shells. Sit at the bar so you can watch the pros shuck. If all else fails, their grilled cheese sandwich is one of the best to be had in the Bay Area; it makes my stomach rumble every time I smell them making one.

| Three Twins Ice Cream | A local ice cream company specializing in great organic ice cream. Get the Cookie Jar flavor if they have it—it takes "cookies and cream" to a whole other level by using three different types of cookies in their smooth vanilla ice cream. If you love chai, get Dad's Cardamom.

| Kara's Cupcakes | Our favorite cupcake maker has a shop at the Oxbow Public Market, too. If you've never partaken before, get the Fleur de Sel—a chocolate cupcake filled with caramel and topped with chocolate ganache frosting and a sprinkle of fleur de sel. Then, keep going back to try every flavor at least once. Over the weekend, Kara herself happened to be there and she was sweet enough to take time to pose for a photo with us and listen as Nick and I gushed about how we served her cupcakes at our wedding and are her biggest fans. She rocks.

| Photo Credit: top section. Me; bottom. A nice stranger. |

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tissue Paper Pom-Poms for Gift Packaging

I adapted these instructions to make a tissue paper pom-pom for my friend Caitie's bridal shower gift. The first one I made was accidentally way too big to fit on the box I was using, but I think it would be cute on most other medium to large gift box shapes. I ended up using the littler pom-pom for the box shown below. Making pom-poms is a great way to re-use the tissue paper that stores wrap your clothing purchases in.

The Martha Stewart site only has instructions proportioned to giant pom-poms that are meant to be hung from the ceiling, so here's what I did to make the darker blue pom-pom.
  1. Cut a sheet of tissue paper into 8 equal pieces.
  2. Stack the pieces and turn the stack to the landscape orientation.
  3. Make 1/2-inch accordion folds, making sure to crease firmly.
  4. Fold a 4-inch piece of thin beading wire in half.
  5. Slip the wire over the center of the folded tissue paper; twist together.
  6. Cut each end of the tissue paper bundle into a point.
  7. Peel up and fan open each tissue paper layer, one at a time.
  8. Arrange the layers to the desired shape and trim the wire as necessary.
For the smaller pom-pom, I cut a 4-inch by 20-inch strip off of one end of a sheet; I then cut this into 6 equal pieces.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tiny Little Tangerines

The 15 days of Chinese New Year ended this week so here is a photo of the lovely tangerines my friend Andy brought me from his parents' garden. They are so adorable and little that I can eat a whole one at once. Tangerines are believed in Chinese culture to bring good luck and it is customary to give them as gifts when you visit friends and family during Chinese New Year.

Nick and I are going to try to catch some of the Chinese New Year parade tomorrow. If you're interested in checking it out, information about the parade can be found here.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Thursday, February 17, 2011

All the Girls in Potrero Have Shoes Like These

I bought these shoes from Urban Outfitters hoping they would be good walking shoes that aren't sneakers. I never feel like I am myself when wearing sneakers (I don't really do casual), so it's hard for me to find shoes I can actually travel in. Alas, the tongue on these tan oxfords rubbed my feet in a funny spot. I was strongly considering returning them.

The day that I was going to put together my returns for shipping, I popped over to Whole Foods for my daily grocery run. I could not help but notice that at least three other girls shopping at the Potrero Hill Whole Foods were wearing shoes just like these—menswear-inspired tan or brown oxford flats with cutouts and/or cute detailing. I decided to keep the shoes because they suddenly had a cool factor (which meant they didn't need to be comfortable!). Here are some other options for if you are looking to blend in here in Potrero.
|1. Lucky Brand, Christa | 2. Dorothy Perkins, Tan Soft Brogues | 3. Jeffrey Campbell, Miller Oxford | 4. Aldo, Zulaiga |

| Photo Credit: top. Me; 1–4. See links provided. |

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Recipe: Orange-Zested Buttercream

Full disclosure: I got the base buttercream recipe from the book Whoopie Pies: Dozens of Mix 'em, Match 'em, Eat 'em Up Recipes by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell; my original contribution is the orange zest. I promise it makes a huge difference. Zesting a whole orange will perfume your kitchen and if you love the combination of dark chocolate and citrus like I do, using this buttercream to fill your chocolate whoopie pies will really hit the spot.

1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 stick room temperature salted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange

You can use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, a hand mixer, or—if you are hardcore like me— a regular metal spoon. Beat together the sugar and the butter; the mixture will be crumbly. Add the milk and the vanilla. Beat everything together until the mixture is fluffy and creamy. Mix in the orange zest. If the moisture from the zest throws off the texture of the buttercream, add another tablespoon of confectioner's sugar. You can't over-stir the buttercream, so keep beating it until your arm gets too tired or you achieve the desired fluffiness and creaminess.

With this recipe, I generously filled 12 2-inch whoopie pies and still had a little bit left over, so I would say there is enough for 15 whoopie pies here.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Golf and Cocktails: This is Not Normal, Even For Us

Over the weekend, Nick and I attended the 2011 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Apparently the group that invited us is the only sponsor that the PGA allows to throw cocktail parties right along the green during a tournament. Bill Murray came by and started tossing (our) beers into our picnic area; luckily all the cans were caught and no one was injured.

Cameras were not allowed on the course, sadly, but after seeing all the celebrities we were interested in seeing, Nick and I took off to the nearby Monterey Fisherman's Wharf for some calamari and chips, and then to the beach to watch the sunset. Here are some photos from the trip. (The top photo is completely undoctored—everything was really that blue.)

P.S. If you have been enjoying the content here on The Yuppie Lifestyle, please like this site on Facebook! You can do so by either clicking the "Like" button in the sidebar on the right under "Other Places on the Web" or by visiting the Facebook page and clicking "Like". You'll get updates in your News Feed (I think) and lots of gratitude from me (for sure). I'll also try to post coupon codes for yuppie-oriented labels. And if you've already liked The Yuppie Lifestyle on Facebook, you can still like individual posts by clicking on the "Like" button in each post footer. Thanks and ♥.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Monday, February 14, 2011

Heart Puzzle Valentine's Day Cards

I am not very much of a romantic but I am grateful that Valentine's Day exists to give me an excuse to make some cards to put in the mail and let my friends know that they are loved. This year, I took inspiration from this save the date that I saw on Pinterest and adapted it to make for an interactive valentine.
Each card has a mini glassine envelope affixed to the front containing a heart that I painted and then cut up into puzzle pieces. I used the same heart shape for the heart puzzle and for the dashed outline, in case people need help figuring out how to put the pieces together. Happy Valentine's Day, Readers!

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Friday, February 11, 2011

Today's Flavor: Pops of Pink

I got this scarf from Anthropologie recently and have been planning my outfits around maximizing the opportunities to wear it. I love how much the pink florals stand out against the black and the softer greens and neutrals. I usually wear it with a black top and a simple gray skirt, and adding this scarf to the mix adds instant excitement.

I even took the concept of bright pink accents on a dark background and applied it to the valentines I made this year. I'll post photos soon. In the meantime, here are some other ways to add a pop of pink to your life, without overdoing it.

|1. Pietre Flower Knob | 2. Paul Smith London, Polka Dot Tie | 3. Power of Pink Dress | 4. Kate Spade, Kamille Pumps | 5. Kate Spade, Great Expectations Book Clutch |

| Photo Credit: top. Me; 1–5. See links provided. |

Thursday, February 10, 2011

It Is Awesome to Have a Little Grocery Shop on My Street

One of the things I love about where I am living right now is that a wonderful little neighborhood grocer is just a few doors down from me. It's called Chiotras Grocery. It looks like a potentially sketchy convenience store on the outside but I am actually very happy to be living down the street from it. The people are super duper nice. Their mascot dog, Blue, just chills outside the store all day. The store has everything I could possibly need at the very last minute or that it wouldn't be worth getting in a car and rolling down the hill for. I once assembled a whole lasagna with guests on the way only to discover I had no foil to cover the top of the lasagna with before putting it into the already pre-heated oven. In a situation like this, getting bailed out by the convienience of Chiotras Grocery was totally worth the higher-than-supermarket prices.

I also enjoy popping into the store on days when I am working at home and getting one of their delicious sandwiches. I always get the eggplant-pesto-mozarella sandwich, toasted. This is the only sandwich shop I have been to where the ciabatta roll gets super crunchy on the outside without being too hard to bite into. It's like the guy who runs the shop and makes the sandwiches knows the most optimum point of toastiness. They also seem to feature a different house-roasted meat each day. After placing my sandwich order, I am always invited to relax outside in the sun while I wait for my sandwich to be made. Then I walk just a few doors down back to my place to savor the satisfying crunchiness on the outside and the soft, flavorful yumminess on the inside.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lifestyle Tip: Mental Attitudes for Long Commutes

One of my delightful readers sent me an email with a question regarding the yuppie lifestyle. If you have any questions or are looking for lifestyle tips, please drop me a note at

How does the new yuppie deal with a commute? Is there a special mental attitude or tools one can use to cope? |Signed| Aspiring Yuppie With a Grueling Commute
A frustrating commute can certainly affect quality of life. Before I moved to San Francisco, I commuted on a daily basis between Millbrae and Palo Alto. While that commute was relatively manageable, I very badly wanted to live in SF, and doing so would add an additional 20 minutes (on a decent day) to my commute. So, I negotiated with my boss to be able to work from home as often as possible. I know this isn't a possibility for everyone, but this day in age where so many different kinds of jobs can be done remotely, if most of your job consists of you working at a computer anyway it may be worth a shot. (Nick works in an industry that is wholly different from mine, yet he and many of his colleagues have days where they telecommute, too.) Perhaps you can convince your boss to give it a try for a month or so, adding to your argument the advantages of reducing your carbon footprint. During your trial period, make sure you crank up the volume on your email alert sound and respond to your work emails as efficiently as possible to prove you are still easily accessible and on-task at a distance.

If working remotely even one or two days per week is not an option, having the right mental attitude is key. Think of it as a chance to kill two birds with one stone. Bluetooth integration or a hands-free device so you can catch up with old friends over the phone while you are on the road is a good way of making the most of your time. Lately, I have been using my time on the road to learn some French phrases in preparation for my trip to France; I borrowed a language CD from my local public library and put all the MP3s on my iPod. I also am that person you may see totally rocking out to some music (this song) at the wheel. Focusing on staying Zen, instead of on traffic jams, might give you opportunity to brainstorm some good ideas for couplets or meals you want to try preparing.

Oh, and coffee also helps.

| Art Credit: Keep Calm Shop |

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Recipe: Bacon and Spinach Quiche Mini Muffins

I got the concept for using pancake mix and eggs to make quiche-inspired muffins from a recipe I found online two laptops ago. Over the years, I have been experimenting with various fillings and using the recipe to bail myself out of last-minute potluck-contributing situations. I think this is the best version, but you can substitute the bacon and spinach with other quiche fillings if you'd like.

1/2 medium onion
2 strips of applewood-smoked bacon
2 eggs
1/2 cup pancake mix
1 small handful of baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
nonstick spray
olive oil

Preheat your oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Using a nonstick cooking spray, grease a mini muffin pan well (otherwise these will definitely stick and make for a very difficult-to-clean pan).

Finely dice the onion and chop up the slices of bacon. Heat a small skillet on medium-high heat and add a few drops of olive oil. Add the onions and sauté just until they begin to soften on the edges. Add the bacon and sauté until the bacon is cooked and the onions are translucent. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the onions and bacon to cool.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Add the onions and bacon and mix to combine evenly. (Lifestyle tip: Save the bacon fat to use as a secret ingredient in guacamole.) Stir in the pancake mix. Roughly chop the spinach and add it to the bowl. Add almost all of the shredded cheese, reserving about 1 tablespoon for later. Mix the ingredients until everything is evenly combined.

Spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin cups. Top each with just a little pinch of the remaining cheese. Bake them for 10 minutes, and allow the muffins to cool before removing them from the pan with a butter knife.

Makes 12 mini muffins.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Monday, February 7, 2011

This Is Not a Super Bowl Party

Yesterday I had two of my favorite friends, Taleen and Andy, over for a little gathering. The theme was "Soirée at Chez Morello that has nothing to do with the Super Bowl or Valentine's Day even though it is in February and on Super Bowl Sunday". It was also an excuse for me to try out my new camera, though I am sad that I forgot to take photos of the guests. Here are some photos of the food I made.

I made a bunch of finger-foods: pigs-in-a-blanket with chicken-apple sausage, bacon and spinach quiche mini muffins, gorgonzola and honey bruschetta, and guacamole-stuffed tomatoes. I also made whoopie pies filled with orange-zested buttercream. I'll try to post some recipes later this week.
| Photo Credit: Me. |

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Why It's Great to Be Living in SF Right Now

This is to give an idea of what a gorgeous night it was last night.

Sometimes I completely forget that it is still the middle of the winter. I guess massive snowfall in Dallas has been causing problems with preparation for today's Super Bowl? It feels like June in my living room right now. Sorry, rest of the country.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Dog Is a Good Listener

Here is more solicited/unsolicited advice about owning a small dog.

When Lillabelle was less than a year old, we enrolled her in a 7-week basic training course at PetSmart; I would definitely recommend this to all first-time dog owners because I think the training was just as much for us as it was for our dog. It taught us the correct way to give commands and got us in the habit of practicing them with Lillabelle while she was still young. People who have visited us tend to be surprised at how well Lillabelle listens, especially since small fluffy dogs have acquired a reputation for being annoying and difficult to train. Malteses are very easily motivated by treats, so they are actually very easy to train basic commands if you go about it the correct way.

Lillabelle also is very good about observing and understanding patterns. She responds excitedly when we ask her if she wants to go for a walk and knows to remind us to feed her if both Nick and I have sat down to dinner but she has not received hers. We will occasionally let her spend the night with us on weekends, so every night as we are getting ready for bed, she waits for instructions from Nick; she does not whine if he tells her to sleep in her own bed. I am pretty sure that with good training practices, other dogs can be trained to be this good, too.

One thing I can't get her to understand though is when Nick is out of town on business overnight. The other night, Lillabelle spent a very long time in her usual waiting spot, waiting for Nick to get home and perking up whenever the bus stopped outside. I couldn't explain to her that he wouldn't be coming home. Poor thing.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Dog Is an Indoor Dog

We took Lillabelle to the vet for her regular checkup on Saturday and when the nurse combed her for fleas, she seemed surprised that there weren't even traces of dirt in her fur. I think Lillabelle is an exceptionally clean dog because we rarely take her outside. We are trying to involve her more when we go out and about, especially since San Francisco is such a dog-friendly city, but she's not the sort of dog we could leave in the car or tied to a post if we step into a store.

People who are considering getting a small dog ask me what it is like having a dog like Lillabelle. Lillabelle is a purebred Maltese. After doing a bit of research on a few breeds, we decided on a Maltese primarily because they are suitable for apartments and smaller urban homes with no yards. If you are looking for a low-maintenance dog, Malteses are good because they don't need to run around outside, and are content in relatively small quarters. Lillabelle is house-trained so she does her business on a puppy pad we keep in the tiled area of the kitchen. We've experienced that even when the puppy pad is in a different place, such as when we visit my parents' house, she will recognize it and know what to do with it. She also doesn't shed, which has the upside of not coating all of your possessions with fur and the downside that she needs regular brushing when her fur is long in order to avoid matting; we always keep her hair pretty short in what's called a "puppy cut". When we are home, she spends a good chunk of time in our laps, but she also understands when we're occupied with other things that she should play with her toys by herself. She has a sense of ownership and therefore can distinguish which items in the home she is allowed to play with.

Stay tuned for more advice and information for people who are considering getting a Maltese.

| Photo Credit: Me. |