I decided to treat the husband last weekend to a tasty Sunday brunch (it was Father’s Day) so booked a reservation at a restaurant right in our downtown that we’d walked by many times but hadn’t tried. For some reason we thought it was too fancy or too expensive or too this or that.
We were wrong.
L’Appart Resto is welcoming, reasonably priced, and seriously kid-friendly. From the team that opened Le Garage in Sausalito, L’Appart Resto is a comfortable bistro-style restaurant that offers small plates, fresh salads, and substantial entrées that focus on showcasing simple French classics, big flavors, and seasonal and local ingredients. And the service is amazing. We enjoyed our brunch so much we decided to head there for dinner later in the week.
Along with having a well-rounded menu for brunch/lunch and dinner, L’Appart Resto also has a tasty kid’s menu that had our mouths drooling. Our daughter enjoyed her flaky ham and cheese pastry (we did too)…
The husband and I split the fresh melon soup studded with mint and other bright and fresh flavors…
My husband ordered the seasonal omelette, which was filled with goat cheese and savory fresh tomato basil concassé.
It was amazing.
Later in the week there was a fun function downtown that I insisted the entire family attend, so we figured we’d head to L’Appart Resto for an early dinner. And once again we had an awesome dinning experience. We ordered the child-sized Kobe burger for our daughter, which was topped with ooey-gooey French cheese.
Instead of ordering entrées, the hubs and I decided to taste test with a few small plates, including a bowl of luscious asparagus cream soup, along with a delicious beet salad that was studded with pistachios and French feta cheese.
Here’s the deal — this is a kid-friendly restaurant that has phenomenal service, but that doesn’t mean the place is running with babes if you’re considering eating there for a romantic or kid-free meal. With indoor and outdoor seating, the restaurant is comfortable and welcoming. We didn’t feel rushed or pushed to try the specials or concerned our child was bothering others around us. The menu isn’t huge, but there are options for all tastes. From burgers to lobster, the prices run from $7 to $25 brunch/lunch and dinner.
Check out the menus before heading to L’Appart Resto, but both days we ate there, the specials sounded amazing — and were different (even in the same week). The most important thing? MAKE A RESERVATION.
*By the way, I wasn’t paid or bribed or enticed in any way to write this post by L’Appart Resto. I simply wanted to share my wonderful dining experience(s) at this restaurant with you.
While embracing the warmer weather, I’m also excited to dust off the grill and get outdoors for making seriously flavorful dinners (without sweating in the kitchen). But my grill had other plans, and became infested with bees and spiders over the rainy season. After bombing the interior with bug sprays, several loud screams after discovering big lurking spiders, I decided an indoor grill pan would have to do for now.
I use the grill for just about everything in warmer weather. One of our family favorites is eggplant Parmesan (here, and here), and when made on the grill, it’s a healthier and tastier meal. Make this vegetarian dinner over a gas or charcoal grill, or make anytime of year on a stove-top grill pan (like I did). Serve with crusty bread and a fresh salad for a delicious summer dinner.
1 large eggplant, sliced
1/4 cup salt
3 cups warm water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (fresh is best)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs
Fresh basil or spinach leaves
Slice the eggplant in rounds, cutting away the skin if desired. Fill a mixing bowl with the warm water and add the salt. Place the eggplant slices in the water and let soak for at least 20-minutes, which will remove any bitterness from the eggplant and give it a slight salty flavor.
Rinse the eggplant and pat dry. Toss the rounds in olive oil and set aside.
If using a charcoal grill, crank those coals until they are nice and hot, or set your gas grill to medium-high heat. For an indoor grill pan, heat over medium-high heat, turning on both back and front burners.
Place the slices on the grill and let sear over the heat for around three minutes. Use a tongs to carefully lift the eggplant rounds and rotate 90 degrees. Let cook for another three minutes.
Flip the rounds and let grill for three minutes. Now flip again and rotate 90 degrees. Let the eggplant hang out for a few minutes until the it is fork tender.
Gather your favorite tomato sauce, sliced fresh mozzarella, and fresh spinach or basil leaves. Top each eggplant round with a spinach or basil leaf, a hearty spoonful of tomato sauce, and a slice of cheese. Grill until the cheese is bubbly.
Sprinkle the tops with freshly shredded Parmesan cheese and the breadcrumbs, and grill for another few minutes.
We’re really working on enjoying family dinner, but some nights it’s still easier to toss the tot a bowl of boiled noodles topped with butter and call it a night. Spring zucchini are seriously cheap at the grocery store right now, so I couldn’t resist bagging up a ton and bringing it home. And this easy and seriously healthy dish is so simple, my daughter basically made it.
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup shredded provolone cheese
1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
Slice the fresh green zucchinis in half and then cut a bit off the rounded sides so they’d lay flat in your big pan. Coat the pan with a bit of olive oil and then create an even layer of the zucchini. Preheat your oven to 400˚F.
Now top the sliced zucchini with the tomato sauce — your favorite kind is perfect. And you can use as little or as much as you’d like. After my daughter got tired of dolloping the sauce, she layered on the cheese (after a bit of taste testing), and then sprinkled the breadcrumbs over the top.
Pop the zucchini casserole into the hot oven and let it bake and bubble for 25 minutes. Your baked zucchini Parmesan is ready! Serve with seared chicken breasts or enjoy as is for a delicious vegetarian dinner.
There’s nothing like the soft sweet crunch of cornbread muffins. One of my favorite things while growing up where muffins from that little box of mix that only required an egg, a bit of oil, and a splash of milk to make. The other day I had an abundance of fresh spring zucchini and knew they would taste divine paired with cornmeal. I baked a batch of muffins and totally admit to winging the recipe. But after they were eaten within hours, I decided it was a good idea to whip up another batch — making sure to write the ingredients down. And with the Shine Supper Club all about revisiting our favorite childhood eats, this recipe mixes classic cornbread with healthy and fresh zucchini.
1 1/2 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 pound shredded zucchini
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
Preheat your oven to 350˚F and get out a big mixing bowl. Measure and add the cornmeal, flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl and give a stir to break up any lump. You can also add the ingredients to a blender and pulse on low to create a really smooth and delicate cornbread muffin.
Now add the baking powder, baking soda, and shredded zucchini. Crack in the eggs, add the milk and oil, and stir to incorporate. That’s it — really.
Line your muffin tin with liners or slightly grease and then ladle in the batter. Pop in the hot oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the tops are lightly golden.
Remove the muffins and let cool for 10 minutes before eating. They’re wonderful topped with a bit of butter, drizzled with honey, or slathered with cream cheese.
It’s been a busy week, so there hasn’t been time for doing anything fun and crafty. A freelance job that I’ve really enjoyed for the last several months has turned into an actual position (YAY!), so instead of hanging out in my house being anti-social I enjoyed a bit of actual interaction with creative and smart ladies that I’ll hopefully be working with for a very long time. So if things seem a bit quiet over here, head over to POPSUGAR Pets and POPSUGAR Smart Living to see what I’ve been up to.
After the busy week, cookies were in order. I love cookies and am always trying to put a fun spin on things. I was craving carrot cake, but was feeling a bit too lazy for baking and had a demanding daughter that wanted something sweet that didn’t require any waiting. After gathering the ingredients, we were ready for making sweet and tasty cookies.
And you can put a healthy spin on these cookies by using whole wheat flour, which would also give them a bit more crunch.
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup oats
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat your oven to 350˚F then measure and add the butter, sugars, maple syrup (which is really delicious in these cookies, but if you don’t have any, they’ll still be yum-o), salt, and vanilla. Use a hand mixer to cream the butter and sugar together.
Now add the egg and give the ingredients another mixing. Now measure and add the shredded carrot, flour, and oats. Sprinkle in the baking soda and powder and then stir until incorporated.
Line your baking tray with parchment paper and scoop large spoonfuls of the cookie batter onto the tray leaving an inch or so between cookies to allow for spreading while baking. Gently press with your fingers to create rounds.
Pop the cookies into the hot oven and set the timer for 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and enjoy!
*Makes around 24 cookies, depending on how big you make them….
Thank you Country Crock for sponsoring this post.
There’s nothing like fresh veggies this time of year, which makes tossing together a quick, easy, and healthy casserole just about the best thing at the end of a long day. With my daughter really excited about helping to make dinner, and doing the grocery shopping, I ended up with a few more than the three fresh zucchinis that I had selected in my shopping basket the other day. Instead of putting them back, we happily brought them home for making this delicious and low-fat casserole, which is the perfect thing for celebrating spring. Instead of being heavy and covered with loads of cheese, you can enjoy this casserole as a side or on its own. Swapping butter for Country Crock cuts down on extra calories and you’ll never taste the difference when using low-fat cheeses and milk.
This recipe is seriously easy, so invite your little one into the kitchen to help make this light casserole. And if you love creating tasty concoctions as much as I do, head over to Country Crock Stars, enter a picture of your latest casserole, and share in 100 words how you demonstrate creativity and resourcefulness in the kitchen for a chance to win $5,000.
Now that the days are getting longer, we’re making a big attempt at eating family dinner. Yeah, I’ve made two dinners a night for the last few years, but it’s (amazingly) worked out just fine. I make something fun and healthy with the tot and then something a bit more sophisticated for the adults once she goes to bed. Over the last few weeks it’s quickly become apparent this schedule will no longer work. This means a big adjustment to my recipes, creating kid-friendly and adult faire that’s delicious for everyone.
This recipe is wonderfully easy, can even be prepped ahead of time, and is a perfect diner to make with your kids. And it’s easily adjustable to your family’s liking. Swap prosciutto or sliced roast chicken for the turkey, sprinkle in some pepper jack, or layer on a few roasted red peppers. The results are delicious, healthy, and on the table in less than an hour.
4 slices whole wheat bread
1/2 pound roast turkey
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup pesto
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon grainy mustard
Hot sauce (optional)
Place the pesto, water, and fresh spinach and pulse until it’s nice and smooth. Place in a small bowl for your child to use later. Now offer your child a lightly greased (with butter) 8 x 11-inch casserole dish and invite her to layer the bottom with two slices of bread. Sure, you can use white bread, but whole wheat is just a bit healthier. Artisan bread would be absolutely delicious, or mix it up with rye or sourdough. Go ahead and preheat your oven to 375˚F so it’s nice and hot when you’re ready.
Offer your child the pesto along with a small spoon and invite her to scoop and spread the sauce evenly over the slices. Try to reserve half of the pesto sauce for use later…
Next, it’s time for the cheese and turkey. Once again, try to reserve half for later… And it’s okay to taste test along the way.
Top with the remaining slices of bread, and another layer of the pesto sauce, turkey, and shredded cheese. In a small mixing bowl, add the eggs, milk, grainy mustard, and a touch of hot sauce. You can also add a few sprinkles of salt and pepper. Give things a good whisking and then pour over the casserole, pressing the tops of the bread with a spatula as needed to coat the slices.
Place in the hot oven for 30 minutes or until the tops of the slices are nicely browned. It’s as simple as slicing and serving! Finish the meal with a side salad and you’re good to go.
So it was Easter over the weekend and I don’t know about you, but we’ve got leftover eggs. We also had leftover (gasp) bacon — how it wasn’t all gobbled up, I have no idea. There’s nothing better than bacon and eggs, and with a healthy sauce, this leftover egg sandwich is just about the tastiest lunch around. And it’s as easy as shelling a couple of eggs and layering on the goodness.
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
2 slices of bacon cut in half
1 tablespoon plain Greek-style yogurt
1 teaspoon grainy mustard
1 leaf romaine or lettuce
2 slices whole wheat bread, toasted
Gather the ingredients for making the sandwich. We had a great time naturally dying our Easter eggs this year, with really pretty results. You can use any type of mustard, but I love a strong grainy mustard for this sandwich.
Mix together the spread, which is wonderfully low-fat and seriously delicious.
Toss two slices of whole wheat bread in the toaster and thinly slice the eggs while they are toasting. Once they pop, spread each with equal amounts of the sauce and then begin layering on the ingredients. Give each side a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon.
Press the sandwich together and cut in half. You’re ready for lunch!
I was really craving something deliciously chocolate-y the other day but didn’t want all that butter, sugar, and fat. And I wasn’t sure if I wanted cookies or brownies (yeah, I’m indecisive) so decided to combine the two with an egg-free and semi-healthy recipe that totally took care of my chocolate craving. And this recipe is so easy your kid can make it. Really. Mine basically did.
1 tablespoon applesauce
1 tablespoon plain yogurt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup sugar
Dash of salt
1/2 cup flour (you could use whole wheat or half white and half wheat)
1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips (optional – or you can swap with carob chips)
Measure and add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl and stir until incorporated. While you are getting things ready, preheat your oven to 350˚ F and line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread, creating a nice and even layer of goodness. When your oven is ready toss the brownie cookie bites into the oven. For really fudgy bites, bake for 12 minutes. For a crisper crust, and a nicely set brownie cookie, leave in the oven for around 18 minutes, which what I did. Remove and let come to room temperature before even touching them.
These bake wonderfully, but if you try to cut them right now, they’ll be a big melty mess. Yes, a big melty mess is still wonderfully tasty, but your brownie cookie bites will resemble a warm baked pudding more than a crisp and gooey brownie cookie bite if you cut them fresh from the oven. After around 30 minutes, remove from the pan with the help of the parchment paper and cut into small squares.
Depending on how big you like your brownie cookies will decide how many you get from the pan. I think we cut around 20, but ate at least four right away. I’ve experimented with healthy brownies in the past, and these totally won out on flavor and gooey factor. And you can make them even healthier by using whole wheat flour and swapping a banana for the veggie oil (they just might be a bit denser with a touch of a nana tang).
While pondering this month’s Shine Supper Club challenge (eggs!) my mind kept wandering to soft and delicate ravioli. I love making homemade pasta, and do it often, and those eggs are the shining ingredient. You just can’t make tasty pasta without eggs. Really. You can’t. And no need for a pasta maker to roll out this easy recipe. This dough comes together quickly, with a rolling pin doing the majority of the work.
For the dough:
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
For the filling:
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 clove garlic
Pinch of salt and pepper
I like to measure and add the flour directly to my counter top and then make an indentation in the center. After sprinkling in the salt and sugar, crack the eggs right into the center. But if you’re not into making a big mess, you can totally make your dough in a bowl. Use your fingers to slowly mix the eggs and flour together until it forms a ball.
Spend a couple of minutes kneading the dough, adding flour if things get sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 20 minutes to rest. While your waiting for the dough to chill, mix together the cheese filling.
Sprinkle your work surface with flour and cut off about one fourth of the pasta dough from the round. Now start rolling until the dough is as thin as you can get it.
You want the section of dough to be long and wide to create the ravioli. Place a small scoop, about one half a teaspoon, of the cheese filling along one of the edges of the dough, leaving about an inch between scoops.
Brush a bit of water around each dollop of filling…
and then fold over the dough, pressing between each round to seal the pasta.
Use a pizza cuter to cut around out the ravioli, reserving the leftover bits of pasta dough.
Use a fork to crimp the edges of the ravioli, helping to seal the pasta, keeping that delicious filling where it belongs.
Place the finished ravioli on a flour-dusted plate while you continue rolling ravioli. When you’re ready, bring a stockpot of salted water to a boil. Pop a few in the water and let simmer for four to five minutes. Remove and serve with your favorite sauce.
It’s that simple! I’d love to tell you how many ravioli you get out of this recipe, but I lost count. And if you get tired of rolling, simply wrap the pasta dough in plastic wrap and pop in the fridge for another day.