Flutter Mag Feature!

AN ALFRESCO GATHERING WITH COSTA KITCHEN

Photographer and foodie Anna Costa teamed up with Bijoux EventsPrecious and BloomingPretty Vintage Rentals and Firestone Estate to bring you fresh inspiration for your summer entertaining.

Prepare to send your taste buds soaring in delight with Anna’s drool-worthy photos and signature California Comfort cuisine: Pork Loin Tacos, Branzino, Brussel Sprouts and Roasted Corn Salad with Bacon and Jalapenos…YUM! Lucky for us, she’s even shared a few original recipe secrets to get us going for our next fete. Cheers to sweet summer gatherings!

Alfresco Summer GatheringAlfresco Summer GatheringAlfresco Summer GatheringRoasted Corn, Bacon & Jalapeno Salad

Roasted Corn, Bacon & Jalapeno Salad

Ingredients:

8 ears of corn, husks on
⅓ cup diced jalapeño (no seeds)
⅓ cup finely chopped chives
4 strips cooked thick applewood smoked bacon, chopped

Vinaigrette:

1 tbs Dijon mustard
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ tsp salt
¾ tsp ground pepper
½ cup olive oil

Directions:

Turn gas grill to medium high and place corn with the husk onto the grill. Cook for approximately 10 minutes and then flip. Grill for long enough so the corn kernels get some nice roasted color. If you don’t have a grill, you can boil or bake your corn instead.

While your corn is cooking, mix together the vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.

Cut corn off the cob and place corn in a large mixing bowl. Add jalapeños, chives and bacon. Drizzle vinaigrette on top and mix thoroughly. Serve!

Caprese Salad Costa KitchenCosta Kitchen Summer RecipesShredded Pork Tacos

Pork Tacos with  Grilled Onions and a Chili Lime Aioli

Ingredients:

6 pork loins sliced thin
1 medium onion cut into rings
cilantro chopped (approx 1 cup)
chili lime aioli (recipe below)
8 corn tortillas

Chili Lime Aioli Recipe:

6 tbs mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon ground chili pepper
1 tsp lime juice
1/4 teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoning Salt

Directions:

Heat gas grill to medium high. Salt and pepper the pork loins and onions and brush with olive oil. Grill pork loins for approx 3 minutes on each side or until done. Grill onions until nicely browned on both sides. Slice the pork and onions and set aside.

While the grill is still hot place 8 corn tortillas on the grill for 30 seconds each side or until browned slightly. Remove and turn off grill.

To assemble tacos put a small dollop of the aioli in the middle of a corn tortilla. Top with pork, onions and cilantro. Repeat with the remainder of the ingredients and serve immediately.

Whole Branzino by Costa KitchenAlfresco Summer GatheringAlfresco Dining with Costa Kitchen

Put together friends, food, a California backdrop and VOILA you have bliss! Jessica of Bijoux Events masterminded and coordinated everything from the location (breathtaking Firestone Estate) to the tiniest styling adjustments of each dish. Kellye of Precious and Blooming orchestrated the gorgeous floral and a brought her impeccable eye for making the simple look extravagant. And the lovely ladies from Pretty Vintage Table (Debbie & Candice) generously lent their one-of-a-kind pieces to add a level of charm that was not only unique but exquisite as well.

To find more recipes simply go to costakitchen.com or check out michaelandannacosta.com to see more photography inspirations.” – Anna Costa

Photography: Anna Costa | Food + Recipes: Costa Kitchen | Coordination/Planning: Jessica Kiupers | Florals: Kellye Kodack | Rentals: Pretty Vintage Rentals | Venue: Firestone Estate

Fried Artichoke Hearts

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I made these delicious morsels of divinity for our southern themed movie night. I find artichoke hearts to be extremely decadent so to eat them deep friend and then dipped into a chipotle aioli take this over the edge for me. This was just my plate btw. I made a separate one for everyone else. Not really. I wish though….Soooooooooo good. Just thinking about my teeth sinking into the crispy breading and then immediately experiencing the soft heart all laced with the aioli is….yeah…. Oh sorry. Are you still here? I just had a moment.

 

OKAY! That was weird. Anyway, I got this simple recipe from All Recipes. Check it out. Need I say more? ;)  (Chili Lime Aioli Recipe Below)

Chili Lime Aioli:

6 tbs mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon ground chili pepper

1 tsp lime juice

1/4 teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoning Salt

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Armenian Almond Pastry – Nazook

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Cooking class is one of my highlights of the month for obvious reasons. First off, I don’t have to prepare anything. Second, I get to chat, socialize and take pictures and eat. No grocery shopping, prepping food or clean up. (Well I do try to help clean up…..) This is a yummy Armenian pastry recipe that is unique and will make your taste buds dance and sing. ;) Enjoy!

Nazook Recipe: Walnut Pastry (this recipe I got from aashpazi.com

  • 1 Cup Plain Yogurt
  • 1/2 Tsp Yeast
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 2 Medium Eggs
  • 5 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 Tsp Cardamom Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Cup Walnuts

PREPARATIONS:

1- Grate 1/4 of a nutmeg.
2- Grind the walnuts.

DIRECTIONS:

1- Combine the yogurt, yeast, baking powder, 2/3 cup vegetable oil and 1 cup of sugar in a large bowl.
2- Beat one egg until stiff and add to the bowl, stir well.
3- Add 4 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour to the bowl gradually, combine well.
4- Knead the batter for few minutes.
5- In a small pot, combine 1/4 cup of vegetable oil with 2 & 1/2 tbsp of unsalted butter. Heat the pot and stir until well mixed.
6- Add 1 cup of powdered sugar to the butter pot.
7- Add the cardamom powder, nutmeg powder, cinnamon, half cup of all purpose flour and the ground walnuts to the pot, and mix thoroughly.
8- On a well floured working surface, roll out and halve the batter.
9- Using a rolling pin, roll the batter into a square.
10- Spread half of the butter/walnut mixture across the batter evenly.
11- Roll the batter into a oval cylinder.
12- Cut the batter vertically (2-3 inches).
13- Place the batters on a well floured nonstick bakeware.
14- Beat one egg and brush the surface of each batter.
15- Preheat the oven to 350º f (176º c).
16- Place the batters in the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until golden.

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Happy New Year!

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Last years Christmas card we went a bit formal. That was probably the last fancy formal thing we did all year. What a whirlwind! From running around after my little cute sassy space-toothed toddler to shooting 65 weddings (between Michael myself and Robert), two trips to Hawaii, Skydiving and opening up about my body image issues (yikes!) it was quite a year. I wrote out my goals this morning and it was a lengthy list. Maybe too long. Definitely too long. I have the worst time balancing between being a “go-getter” and an insane lunatic. It is nice to feel like there is a fresh start to life….So here is to a new year, a new start and a long list of expectations that might be hard to live up to. Cheers 2014 and welcome 2015!

Cupcake in a Jar (A Nifty Gifty!)

cupcake_in_a_jar

 

Are you trying to think of something to give for the holidays that is completely NEW and so not boring? Try a cupcake in a jar! Simply layer cake with various frostings, custards and toppings of your choosing. Wrap it with a bow and tie on a spoon. You can make ahead and freeze and then thaw before handing out! Let the season of giving begin.

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This is what it looks like “jar-less”

 

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Park’s BBQ – Best Korean Restaurant in Los Angeles

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Park’s BBQ was a happy accident. Michael and I were in Korea Town for a food festival but when Michael say the 3 block long line to get in he made an executive decision that we weren’t going. So instead I google, “Best Korean BBQ in Korea Town” and we happened upon this very tasty establishment. The entry wall was lined with photos of famous people from Anthony Bourdain to hollywood celebrities. The staff didn’t really speak english and we felt grateful we could get a table at all. The meat was succulent and delicious. The sides were exotic and tasty. I’ve never been to Korea but we definitely felt we experienced a little slice of it. So to all those visiting (or living) in Los Angeles, make a detour to Park’s BBQ. You won’t be disappointed. And as a side note, I randomly ran into the Dad of an ex boyfriend there that night. You never know what can happen. He recommended the Bulgogi and so do we.

 

 

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My Body Image

 

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Those were the days. Running around fancy free in a bathing suit at my Grandma’s pool every summer. Jumping in the pool, going down the slide and being generally  unaware of my body, its movement or appearance. And then I turned 15… Suddenly, I became extremely aware of my figure. It wasn’t like my Mom’s and my sisters. Why were my hips so wide and my butt so big? Why did I feel like a giant around everyone? On the first day of my Freshman year in English class a popular girl turned around to me and told me that Scott  (popular boy – or more popular than me) said I had a nice a$$. What? To me that wasn’t a compliment. To me that was a confirmation that I was NOT skinny. And skinny to me was the only way to be pretty.  I wasn’t fat nor did I have a weight problem. I just wasn’t skinny. But I was getting attention like mad for my figure but had no idea why. This new obsession with attempting to conform my body down to the size that I felt it should be would take me on a journey spanning over two and a half decades. The sad reality is that my story probably isn’t that unique. It isn’t the most extreme story either. But here it is.

My dieting started out slow. It began by trying to be proactive about my food choices. I had spent the first semester of high school going to the cafeteria before school started and getting a grilled cheese sandwich and chocolate milk before Drama class. This undoubtedly aided in inability to fit into the pants I had previously been able to fit into. There was also the widening of my hips which I could do nothing about. So, I thought, “Why not try to pack a healthy lunch?’ I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with carrots instead of a hamburger. Then at 16 my Mom let me go to Weight Watcher meetings with my Grandma. My Mom would alway say that I wasn’t fat but after incessant rants about my body she conceded. There I learned how to count Weight Watcher points. I lost a few pounds to start off with but I was really hungry all the time. I’d get a frozen yogurt from the cafeteria that was only 150 calories and try to believe that it would fill me up for lunch. I decided that Weight Watchers was not doing the trick so I did the cabbage soup diet. Its this super weird plan where you eat a different thing every day (Beef & Tomatoes on Monday, Banana’s and Milk on Tuesday) but could have cabbage soup every day. That lasted probably 3 days. I started taking hunger suppressant pills that never seemed to really suppress hunger. For awhile I made myself throw up. I think I did that mostly as a cry for help for someone to say, “Um…you really don’t need to lose weight.” They WERE saying that but I wasn’t listening. My sister bought me a anorexia/bulimia book from Barnes and Nobles. My Dad told me to stop doing it. I did.  Then I started weight watchers again. My body just wanted to be 145 pounds. I believed that if I wasn’t 120 pounds then I was doing something wrong. Even though no one in my family told me that I was fat or needed to lose weight I was still so insecure. I went to a hypnotherapist who had these tapes you could listen to in order to lose weight. I’d put on a headset and soak in the tub while trying to hypnotize myself into not eating. I bought a book called, “Think Yourself Thin.” where you would just breathe and imagine yourself getting thin. I bought it on the bargain counter at the books store. I guess you get what you pay for. And then I decided to give up. I was sick of dieting and never getting results. I was sick of my constant working out and it going no where. I was 20 at this point. So I ate Carl’s Jr every single day and gained 20 pounds over the summer. Fabulous. I was in college by then and was doing a musical called, “Carnival.” I met my friend Elena while doing that show and she was my inspiration to get a little more healthy and balanced. She was a 5′ 9 gorgeous Russian who looked like a model. We called her “runway.” I was totally engrossed with the fact that she never watched what she ate but looked absolutely incredible. So I decided to eat like her. I would eat what sounded good to my body ( it happened to be a little healthier usually) and stopped when I wasn’t hungry anymore. I also took it upon myself to take semester off of regular coursework and take only dance classes. I had 12 classes a week I’d attend AND I was waiting tables at night. Within a year I had lost 30 pounds. I looked great. I was wearing size 6 pants (sometimes size 4) and finally my yo yo dieting seemed to be at an end. Just eat reasonably and exercise and you’ll be fine.

I met my husband during that time and we fell in love and got married within a year and 8 months. I looked great and life was good. And then Michael and I fell into a bit of a “treat” rut. Michael has a bit of a sweet tooth. Probably more than just a “bit” actually… Most nights after dinner Michael would say something like, “Do we have any treats?” or “Let’s go get donuts.” etc. At first I was like, “Why?” I wasn’t craving anything or thinking about a treat at all. Then slowly but surely I’d go with him on a donut run or to the grocery store to get something sweet. He’d get me in the mood for something and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I gained 5 pounds the first year. Then another five the second. Then another pound or two a year until I was at 155 when I got pregnant with Georgiana at the age of 30. During those years I would get on a diet plan and lose a few pounds and then get sick of it and stop. And on and on I went.

I gained 50 pounds total including the baby when it was all said and done. After Georgiana was born I had 40ish to lose. I counted Weight Watcher points and exercised regularly for 2 years until now when I more or less back to where I started. And then something happened. I decided to get my body fat tested. And not just with a regular test but the gold standard in body fat testing. Water submersion. I got dunked in a hot tub that measures not only your body fat but also your lean body mass. The lean body mass I really wanted to know. I’ve had a hunched all these years that it wasn’t so much that I had fat to lose but that I had more muscle and bone than many women my same height and age. Well, I was right. I have 120 pounds of lean body mass. That means that if I lost enough to get to the weight I’ve always thought I SHOULD be then I would die. DIE. I am 25% body fat which is average for women. Suddenly I felt free from the pressure I always felt to be thin. And then even something more remarkable happened. I started actually connecting with the fact that my figure is hot. I mean HOT. I have a Kardashian butt and a small waist. It doesn’t suck. Like my Grandpa Ozzy told me once, “You’ve got all the right curves in all the right places.” Sort of an inappropriate comment for my 90 year old Grandpa to make….but at a certain age you get to say whatever you want. Now that I have figured out that I actually look great, I feel completely free and empowered. I’m so thankful that while I’m still relatively young I can actually enjoy and appreciate my youth. Of course I love food (duh) but I also love eating in a balanced way and exercising.  I’ve found its all about balance and not about perfection. Because perfection sometimes truly doesn’t exist. My only wish is that anyone out there that is struggling with how they look can wake up and start appreciating the beauty that is uniquely YOU. I hope writing this will knock someone out there out of their body image funk as I have recently been knocked out of mine. Now lets just go out there and be  “knock out’s.”