Foodie Friday…French Onion Panade

I love Sunday mornings and looking out the window to see The NY Times waiting for me on my driveway. I know, I could read it on my iPad or phone, but I love the tangible feel of flipping through the actual paper….just like I’ve gone back to reading actual books, as opposed to my iPad or phone.

Anyway, in The NY Times magazine this past weekend there was a recipe for French Onion Panade (pronounced pah-naad) by Samin Nosrat   that looked amazing. I love French Onion Soup and this looked like a French Onion bread pudding with some broth thrown in. I decided to make it for the girls who were coming for mahjongg this past Wednesday night….and Taylor & Dan were here picking up Rowan. There were only 6 of us, so I halved this recipe. Next time I might use beef broth, which is how you make a traditional French onion soup, just to compare…but this one was even better than I imagined. It’s a bit time consuming, but worth it!

Here you go..

1 large, stale loaf crusty sourdough bread (about 1 1/4 pounds), cut into 1/3-inch slices
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 pounds (about 5 large) yellow onions, thinly sliced
Fine sea salt
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
¼ cup white wine or dry vermouth
5 to 6 cups chicken stock
12 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (about 3 cups)
3 ounces Parmesan, finely grated (about 1 1/3 cups)
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 325.
Toast bread on baking sheets, flipping slices as they get lightly golden color and dried out. Set aside.

Increase oven temperature to 425.

Carmelize the onions. Set a large Dutch oven or similar pot over medium heat. Add 4 tablespoons butter and olive oil. When butter has melted, add onions and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Cook covered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Once the onions cook down a bit and release some liquid, remove lid and increase heat to medium high. Continue cooking and stirring regularly until onions are tender and dark golden brown, about 45 minutes total. Turn off heat, add vinegar and wine and stir to deglaze. Taste, and adjust salt and vinegar as needed — the onions should be sweet, savory and pleasantly tangy. Spoon onions into a heatproof bowl, and set aside.
Return pot to stove. Add stock and 1 teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Taste, and adjust salt as needed — it should taste like good chicken soup.
Place both cheeses in a medium bowl, and mix to combine.
Butter the inside of a deep 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Line the bottom with a layer of toasted bread, breaking up pieces as needed to form a solid layer. Spoon half the onion mixture evenly over the bread. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese mixture, and season with pepper. Continue layering with bread, the remainder of the onions and another 1/3 of the cheese. (The recipe says to “Top off with a final layer of bread” but I finished with the cheese on top.

Ladle 3 cups of stock over the panade, then wait a minute, and allow the bread to absorb liquid….(I just poured the whole thing over) without overflowing. Dot the top layer of bread with remaining butter, then cover with parchment paper and foil. Place baking dish atop baking sheet to catch any overflow, then slide onto the center rack. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove foil and parchment, sprinkle with remaining cheese (I had already put the cheese on top, so I just removed parchment & foil) and return to oven for 15 minutes more. Bake until golden brown.
Remove panade from oven, and allow it to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Cover, and refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months. Reheat to serve

C’mon, how amazing does that look?! It was delish! I served it with a simple Caesar salad.

Bon Apetit!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

ps…someone asked me if I ever got glasses at Fabulous Fanny’s after this post…oops, forgot this pic


Dancing at Dawn

I’ve wanted to do this since I first heard about it back in early 2015….as their website says “DAYBREAKER is a social movement that gets people together for dancing during the morning hours. ” I’m on their email list and get notifications every time there’s an event, have forwarded the info to my niece in SF, daughter-in-law in NYC and friend in Paris, but I’ve never been in the right city at the right time…until a few weeks ago.

I got up early and took the 1/2 hour subway ride over to the west side of Manhattan, to the Highline Ballroom. What a cool venue and the vibe, as you can imagine, is electrifying as you wait in line with a bunch of other enthusiastic morning people just waiting to start their day on a happy note!

C’mon how much fun does that sound to just dance unabashedly before you go to work…..with a few hundred people?!

You have two choices….sign up for just dancing from 7-9am or include the pre-yoga at 6am. I don’t do yoga, so opted to dance from 7-9. It’s only $25 and some of the money is donated to charity. This event, for the first time, was sponsored by AFLAC and over $7000. was donated to children’s cancer research. It also included a song and dance from multi-talented Matthew Morrison…you know him from Glee; the Grammy nominated band Kaleo (never heard of them before this)…and, yes, the Aflac duck made an appearance too! There were also some refreshments to partake of from some food sponsors, so we all enjoyed Kombucha, water, some frozen confection, to name a few. After talking to a few people on my way in who had been many times, apparently most are held outdoors, on rooftops, in parks, on boats…so this was much more of a concert-y vibe than most. I thought it was a blast!

I started on the ground floor for the “dance through the decades” theme and then noticed there was a balcony. Being short it’s always more fun to be on the balcony, so you can enjoy all the action. Above, you can see how it wasn’t that crowded at 7am on the floor…..

…and it got more crowded as time went on (Matthew Morrison above)

It was one of the founder’s birthday, so crowd surfing was in order! This was towards the end.

The Aflac duck took the stage for the paparazzi….

….and there were babies with protective headphones!

I had a blast and can’t wait to go again…hopefully in LA next! As they say in their email sign-off

“…with love and mischief”

My sign-off is pretty great too….

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!


Motivation Mondays….Who cares!?

The greatest prison people live in is the fear of what other people think.

Be who you want to be, without guilt or regret!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Motivational Monday….Every Child

Thanks to my friend, Gina, for this apropos grandma gift for my fridge! A nice reminder that we should invest in our children, and by doing so, there’s always hope for change in the future….it takes a village!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

A Walk on the LES

That stands for Lower East Side in NY-speak. Kate & Jude went on an outing together (at 3 wks old..go Kate!) and Austin was at work, so I thought I’d head into the city for a couple of hours.

Whenever I see any place (restaurant, excursion, etc…) I link it to my Pinterest account….not just NY, everywhere or anything I want to do. It’s the easiest way NOT to have to remember all the things/places I’m interested in trying. It’s also great for saving decorating ideas when you need inspiration.

So, I “pinned” the restaurant Dirty French a few years ago and finally got the chance to try it out. The space is awesome, attached to the Ludlow Hotel and right around the corner from the iconic Katz’s Deli  and Russ and Daughters. I arrived a little after 12:00 and the restaurant itself was literally empty, so I opted for the lobby bar (almost same menu) with it’s comfy couches for lounging and large fireplace….so cozy.

I needed to eat something healthy-ish, so opted for the Roquefort/beet salad….but then ruined the “healthy” with their pommes frites. The salad was FABULOUS, the pommes frites a bit on the greasy side and not my idea of pommes frites….I prefer the crispy shoestring pommes frites.

I read my book for a bit and just relaxed, enjoying the ambience. (FYI..warning….it’s a bit pricey)

Cute side patio

I’ve been wanting some new glasses (I kind of collect them), so I headed to my favorite eyeglass store, Fabulous Fanny’s….just a few blocks north in the E. Village. It’s a tiny store with drawers and drawers of vintage-y frames. I’ve been known to linger for an hour or more just trying on different options. My idea of fun shopping!

I came across some great street art along the way….

and then made a stop at the busiest Trader Joe’s I’ve ever been to for some Pizza Monday stuff. You literally get a cart, get in line for checkout and shop as you wind your way around the store. Weird at first, but actually pretty efficient. I was getting up to the front of the line and there’s an employee walking the line saying “can I get any last minute items for anyone?” I realized I would like to have some gorgonzola, so she got it for me while I remained in line. Sweet!!

As always, PizzaMonday was so much fun…great seeing my niece, who attends Barnard, and some of Austin & Kate’s friends. ….and just staring at cute little Jude!

A little chat between big brother, Prince, & baby Jude

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Motivational/Wonderful Wine Wednesday

I went to The Lost Vine near my house with some friends a couple of weeks ago and this was the wine we had. It was such a lovely message…and a great picture on the front …and a decent Chard…that I had to take a pic to share!

Happy Wine Wednesday!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Motivational Mondays….Hugs!


One of the best feelings in the world is when you hug someone you love and they hug you back even tighter.

Happy MLK Jr Day!….I hope our country can get back to his ideals and end the craziness that our current President has brought to our lives.

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Foodie Friday…Carnitas Tacos

full disclosure…photo cred Food Network…I ate mine before I took a pic, but they looked pretty much like this!

My son likes to cook…lucky Kate!…and when I was in NY last week for the birth of baby Jude he had already thawed a pork butt when labor started (TMI??)

Anyway, the third morning, before Austin and I headed to the hospital, he shared this recipe for Carnitas with me that is AMAZING! We literally seasoned it and threw it in the slow cooker and off we went…coming home to an incredible smell and Carnitas Tacos homecoming dinner for Kate and baby Jude.

I got home last Saturday (snow delay!!) and made it again this past Tuesday in my tiny crock pot. I had the butcher cut the regular sized piece of meat into 4 pieces so it would fit in my little pot. It was so easy, very inexpensive and I got three meals from this little piece. One I made tacos, but the other two I just brought it to work for lunch with a little cheese on top and some sliced avo….delish!! Since I needed a much smaller portion I halved the following recipe….this is for a normal size pork butt for normal sized crockpot. Perfection!!

Here you go…courtesy of Chef Austin…. (yes, there are quite a few ingredients, but you just have to rub them on, throw it in and go)

Carnitas Tacos

pork butt (I just bought one and had it cut into 4 pieces)

Rub the pork butt, generously, with all of the above ingredients.

4-5 jalapenos…diced and seeded
1 onion diced
4 bay leaves
lots of minced garlic ….I use the cubes from TJ’s, he uses the minced jar
juice of 4 limes
juice of 2-3 oranges
little can of chili adobo

I diced the onion and placed it on the bottom of the crockpot, added the pork butt and then added all the remaining ingredients. Put it on low for 8 hours.

Take it out and shred it and return to the crock pot.

Let it go another hour with all those yummy juices. You can make sandwiches, tacos…myriad of options…or just eat it with a little cheese on top, as I did. Thanks Austin….Amazing!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Motivational Monday…No Regrets

When our actions are based on good intentions
our soul has no regrets…Anthony Douglas Williams

Time is non-refundable…use it with intention!

(I will NEVER regret my crazy spontaneity of getting on a plane to be there when baby Jude was born. I think I would have regretted it if I didn’t.)

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

New Year, New You, New Laws….

Here’s a quick rundown of some laws that are taking effect for those of us who live in California… (here’s a link to the website where I got all this info)

More Time Off For New Parents…..If your employer has more than 20 employees, it will be required to give you up to 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave to bond with your new child. Employees can use any accrued vacation time, sick time or any other paid-time off to spend time with their new child. It also protects new parents from losing their job and health care benefits during time off. You had to have worked at the company for more than 12 months.

No Questions On Prior Salary…Beginning Jan 1st, you don’t have to tell a potential employer about your past salaries. This bill prohibits employers from asking a job applicant about his or her past salary, which also means employers cannot use one’s salary history to determine the salary it will offer to a potential employee.

Buying Ammo…All ammunition bought in California must be made in person through a vendor licensed by the Department of Justice. The law also applies to any transfers of ammunition. Gun owners will also be prohibited from importing ammunition from outside the state without it going through a licensed vendor in California first. It won’t solve the gun problem, but it’s a start!

Marijuana in Cars…Okay, we all know that marijuana will be legal in California starting Jan 1st, but they’ve also passed some “marijuana in cars” laws too. This separate law makes it illegal to smoke or ingest marijuana while driving or even while riding as a passenger in a vehicle.

Community Colleges…This one waives tuition fees for one academic year to first-time students who are enrolled in 12 or more semester units and qualify for aid under a FAFSA or California Dream Act application. I love this one!

High School Exit Exam…This permanently eliminates this requirement for graduation from high school….so, just pass those classes, okay!

New ID and Travel...Jan 22 is the deadline for states to be compliant or have an extension meaning if you happen to be traveling to a state that is non-compliant you will need a passport or global entry card with you. California has an extension, but New York is still under review, so I brought my global entry card and will continue to do so, just to be on the safe side. Click here for FAQ and to see if the state you live in, or are traveling to, will require additional ID. Better safe than stuck at the airport. Starting October 1, 2020, every air traveler will need a REAL ID-compliant license, or another acceptable form of identification, for domestic air travel.

New YOU…and for those of you who are looking for a new workout routine this New Year I’d just like to do a plug for my new workout place, F45, that’s so much fun and totally kicks my ass! I literally leave my house at 5:54 for the 6:05 class and I’m home by 7am. The link is for the Tustin location, but they have them in numerous cities. See if there’s one near you and sign up for a two week free pass and check it out!

I was going to try to decipher what the newly passed tax bill means for you, but there are so many variables that you’ll have to rely on your accountant and the state you live in to figure that out….good luck!

…Here’s a couple more pics of baby Jude….Thank you Austin and Kate for the new addition and the best birthday gift ever!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!