NBC Olympic Social Opening Ceremony

The Rio Olympics are starting on August 5 and NBC kicked it off with a star-studded, Olympian-studded, influencer-studded event at the Jonathan Beach Club in Santa Monica.

Ryan Seacrest was the ultimate host for the evening. You may have heard of him. He'll also be NBC's Late-Night Host for their Olympic coverage. The man does not stop working. 

Check out highlights, plus my snap (thestaceysun) from the event! #goteamUSA

"Rio" straws are a must for every Olympics party. 

"Rio" straws are a must for every Olympics party. 

Of course it would only make sense to have Brazillian BBQ. Plantains, food on sticks, the best. 

Of course it would only make sense to have Brazillian BBQ. Plantains, food on sticks, the best. 

Ryan Seacrest interviewed Olympians Janet Evans (swimming), Jason Lezak (swimming), Dawn Harper-Nelson (hurdles) and Tara Lipinski (figure skating).

Ryan Seacrest interviewed Olympians Janet Evans (swimming), Jason Lezak (swimming), Dawn Harper-Nelson (hurdles) and Tara Lipinski (figure skating).

Now it was time to have the social peeps on stage. L to R: Anwar Jibawi, me, Marianna Hewitt, and Hannah Bronfman.

Now it was time to have the social peeps on stage. L to R: Anwar Jibawi, me, Marianna Hewitt, and Hannah Bronfman.

Emoji voting for Australia's uniforms. I was the "like" face. Definitely not the "love" face. 

Emoji voting for Australia's uniforms. I was the "like" face. Definitely not the "love" face. 

Stacey + Josh Wedding

It's hard to believe that my husband and I are celebrating our 1-year anniversary today. Since it has been a year, I figured now would be a good time to do a post about our wedding.

We had over 200 guests (I'm Chinese) so finding a venue large enough to hold that many people was challenging. After going down the Pinterest rabbit hole and looking at a bunch of wedding blogs until my eyes were bloodshot, I stumbled upon 440 Seaton in the DTLA Arts District. As soon as we saw the space, we knew this was the perfect place to get married. 

Since the venue was a blank canvas, we looked to our florist, The Little Branch and our rental company, Pico Party Rents. to bring the space to life. 

We had a lot of guests so coming up with an efficient system for the place cards not easy. On top of that, they had to allow for last minute table changes. I was really happy with how our hexagon-place-card-sticks and letter vases turned out. This was a team effort on a Sunday evening while watching Game of Thrones with my dear friend Linda, her husband, Matt, and Josh. Yes, we got the boys to DIY.

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The cocktails napkins were a great last minute addition (I think I placed the order a couple weeks before the wedding on For Your Party). The napkins became the focus of an unofficial scavenger hunt to collect all three. 

Now you can't have a Chinese wedding without LION DANCERS -- a very IG-able moment.

The food was a huge focus since we both work in the industry. The Heirloom LA team did an amazing job, and everyone at the wedding kept asking "Who did the food?" because it was THAT good. Btw, the miniature corn dogs were habit forming. 

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Then for dessert, we created a dessert bar with our favorite things like apple pie from Pie 'n Burger, donuts from Blinkie's, cookies, Guinness chocolate cake and ice cream bars from Quenelle

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The lovely day was captured by our beautiful photographer, Jennifer Young and it was a seamless event thanks to our wedding planners, Orange Blossom

Best. Day. Ever.  Happy 1st Anniversary, husband! 

*Photos by Jennifer Young 

*To see more photos of our wedding, check out Wedded Wonderland.

 

Farro Salad with Grilled Broccolini and Corn | Recipe

Farro is one of my favorite grains to cook with because it's so versatile and it doesn't feel as heavy as a pasta. I've been on a farro salad kick lately and this recipe, which combines a lot of my favorite things: Pasolivo Lemon olive oil, Trader Joe's 10 Minute Farro, broccolini, corn, and pine nuts, can pass as the perfect side dish or even as a vegetarian-friendly main dish. The lemon olive oil is key in making this dish extra awesome. 

Overall, the salad is easy to make, you just have to prep a bunch of items separately. Feel free to replace the vegetables with anything seasonal you can find at the farmer's market.

Recipe

Ingredients:

1 package of the Trader Joe's 10 Minute Farro or use 8.8 ounces of farro
Olive oil  
1 pound of broccolini or broccoli, grilled
2 ears of corn, grilled
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted 
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (I use a microplane) 
4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1/4 cup of Pasolivo Lemon Olive Oil (or any other lemon olive oil)
Salt to taste  

Directions: 

Boil the farro as instructed on the package. Drain in strainer and set aside. Toss the broccolini in olive oil until coated, season with salt, and grill until just cooked through. Don't grill too long or broccolini will get charred and too soft. Cut the grilled broccolini into 1-inch pieces and set aside. Grill the corn until it's just cooked through. Scrape kernels from the cob. I find it's easiest to stand the cob up in a bowl and scrape downward using a serrated knife.

In a large bowl, toss the farro, broccolini, corn, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, lemon olive oil and red wine vinegar. It's easiest to toss with a spatula. Season with salt, to taste. If the salad feels too "dry," add more lemon olive oil.  If you prefer a "tangier" salad, add more vinegar. If it's not seasoned enough, add more salt. The key is to constantly taste and adjust. 

The North Left | Santa Ana

Santa Ana is becoming a food destination for Orange County, especially downtown, and The North Left is a standout. Chef-Owner Ryan Adams and Chef de Cuisine Aron Habiger work closely together on the "rustic refined" menu and have put together a thoughtful line-up of dishes for dinner. The Brussels sprouts are probably some of the best I've ever had, and the pig shaped biscuits by pastry chef Ashley Guzman are THE cutest (and taste really good, too). This place is worth adding to your list, and not just if you live in Orange County. 

Photo: Josh Lurie (you can see him in the window)

Photo: Josh Lurie (you can see him in the window)

Pig shaped biscuit. Enough said. 

Pig shaped biscuit. Enough said. 

The best Brussels sprouts.

The best Brussels sprouts.

The NY Strip served with a potato spinach puree. 

The NY Strip served with a potato spinach puree. 

Odys + Penelope | Los Angeles

When Quinn and Karen Hatfield open up a new restaurant, you know it's going to be amazing. Their newest place, Odys + Penelope, is just down La Brea from The Sycamore Kitchen. The space, the design, the menu -- everything is thoughtful and on point. Three different types of grills are the focus with some dishes available on a limited basis like the short ribs. Karen's desserts are also excellent which shouldn't be a shocker. Odys + Penelope is definitely going to be a regular spot for me.  

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Spicy Sausage Pasta | Recipe

I've been making this pasta recipe for YEARS and it's always a crowd pleaser. The great thing is that it's super easy to make. The sauce only takes 30 minutes to make but it tastes like you've slaved over it all day. It's the perfect red sauce Sunday supper dinner. Pair it with some crusty bread and get ready for an epic "carb night".

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Recipe

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced 
6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced 
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, remove from casings 
3 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
2-28 ounce cans unsalted crushed plum tomatoes (I like the Trader Joe's one)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons basil, julienned
1 pound spaghetti

Directions: 

Use a dutch oven or large stock pot and use medium-high heat. Once the pot is hot, add the olive oil. Add the onions and garlic. Sauté for 5-7 minutes until soft. Add the sausage and break it up with a wood spoon. Once the sausage is cooked all the way through, add the sage and red pepper flakes. Sauté for a couple minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, stir the sauce once it comes to a boil, lower the heat to a low simmer for 25 minutes, stirring it every so often so the bottom doesn't burn. Add salt and pepper to taste. I like my sauce on the peppery side so I use quite a bit. Up to you. If the sauce tastes more on the acidic side, you can always add a little bit of sugar. Before serving the sauce, add the basil. 

Cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain the spaghetti and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Add 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the tomato sauce. This helps to better bind the sauce to the pasta. Add the cooked spaghetti to the sauce and mix everything together over low heat in the pot. If the sauce looks too thick, add some of the remaining pasta water. Taste the pasta and if it needs more salt or pepper, add it. It's ready to serve up. If you like parmesan cheese, make it rain. 

Serves 4 hungry people. 

Weekend Guide | Santa Barbara

Given that Santa Barbara is only a 2-hour drive from LA, it's a great place to visit for the weekend. My now-husband (we recently got married!) and I recently went up there and discovered some new (and not so new) places to eat. 

// Our first stop of the trip, Santa Barbara Fish Market by the harbor. 

// Our first stop of the trip, Santa Barbara Fish Market by the harbor. 

// All locally caught seafood: ahi tuna, uni, and stone crab claws.

// All locally caught seafood: ahi tuna, uni, and stone crab claws.

// A close-up of the Santa Barbara uni. It was only $8 for this tray.

// A close-up of the Santa Barbara uni. It was only $8 for this tray.

// The Black Sheep, a fairly new spot in Santa Barbara serves small plates and offers a chef's tasting menu for the adventurous person.

// The Black Sheep, a fairly new spot in Santa Barbara serves small plates and offers a chef's tasting menu for the adventurous person.

// Chicken livers in a sherry cream sauce was my favorite dish.

// Chicken livers in a sherry cream sauce was my favorite dish.

// The Shop Cafe is my favorite spot for breakfast. 

// The Shop Cafe is my favorite spot for breakfast. 

// Steel-cut oatmeal with the fixings.

// Steel-cut oatmeal with the fixings.

// Fried chicken sandwich with a waffle bun.

// Fried chicken sandwich with a waffle bun.

// If you're up for a drive, check out Cold Spring Tavern which is 30-minutes from downtown Santa Barbara.

// If you're up for a drive, check out Cold Spring Tavern which is 30-minutes from downtown Santa Barbara.

// The beef chili is a staple dish.

// The beef chili is a staple dish.

// The main attraction was their BBQ tri-tip which is only available on the weekends.

// The main attraction was their BBQ tri-tip which is only available on the weekends.

Persimmon Banana Bread | Recipe

I love persimmons and I look forward to persimmon season every fall. And it's finally here! Our friends have a hachiya tree and they gave us a lifetime supply of them so it was the perfect excuse to make some bread. This recipe is a variation of my banana bread and it's a keeper. Here's a tip: If you find that you have way too many persimmons and you can't eat them fast enough, you can always freeze and bake with them later on. 

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Recipe

Ingredients:

1 very ripe banana, peeled
2 very ripe hachiya persimmons, seeded and peeled (you can also use fuyu) 
2 eggs
1 stick of butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup toasted walnuts (optional)

Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 335º and butter a 4x8-inch loaf pan. Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature. In a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, mix the banana and persimmons until blended.  Add and mix in the eggs, melted butter, sugar, vanilla extract on medium speed. Add flour, baking soda, salt and blend. Do not over mix.  Add the walnuts.  Mix on high for 3 seconds. Pour batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour or until the cake tester comes out clean. Let it cool and rest.

Makes 1 loaf. 

Almond Milk | Recipe

I finally got around to making my own almond milk and yes, it's a game changer. If you haven't tried homemade almond milk, it's time. It tastes nothing like the store bought kind and it doesn't take that much effort to make it yourself. You do need a crazy powerful blender, I have the Kitchen Aid Diamond Blender which is a much cheaper version of the Vitamix...$100 vs. $400 and it does the same thing.

I like to add honey, dates, vanilla extract and salt to the almond milk to give it that extra zing. Drinking this will make you feel "healthy" (for a minute) since it's raw and vegan. 

// Start with 1 cup of raw almonds

// Start with 1 cup of raw almonds

// Add enough water and then some to cover the almonds

// Add enough water and then some to cover the almonds

// Soak them in water for at least 4 hours or overnight

// Soak them in water for at least 4 hours or overnight

// After soaking the almonds, they turn into bloated almonds. This is where being bloated is good.

// After soaking the almonds, they turn into bloated almonds. This is where being bloated is good.

// Add the almonds, 4 cups of filtered water and blend on the highest setting.

// Add the almonds, 4 cups of filtered water and blend on the highest setting.

// Pour the almond milk in a mesh bag and SQUEEZE. You can buy "nut bags" but I already had produce bags in the house which worked perfectly fine and they're cheaper, too. Bonus. 

// Pour the almond milk in a mesh bag and SQUEEZE. You can buy "nut bags" but I already had produce bags in the house which worked perfectly fine and they're cheaper, too. Bonus. 

// Now the almond milk is ready and you can flavor it however you want. I like to add 2 pitted dates, 2 TBS of honey, 1 tsp of salt, and 1 tsp of vanilla extract. Once you add all of the ingredients, blend it again. 

// Now the almond milk is ready and you can flavor it however you want. I like to add 2 pitted dates, 2 TBS of honey, 1 tsp of salt, and 1 tsp of vanilla extract. Once you add all of the ingredients, blend it again. 

// This will keep for at least 4 days in the fridge.

// This will keep for at least 4 days in the fridge.

Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup of raw almonds 
4 cups of filtered water 
2 Medjool dates (pitted)
2 tablespoons of honey
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of salt

Directions: 

Soak the almonds in water for at least 4 hours or you can overnight it. Drain the almonds. Rinse them. Drop them in the blender with 4 cups of filtered water. You can use tap water but it will affect the taste of the milk in a not-so-good-way.

Blend it on the highest setting for at least a minute. Pour it through a mesh bag in a bowl.

Squeeze out the milk. Transfer the milk back into the blender with the pitted dates, honey, vanilla extract and salt. Blend again for another minute.

Pour into a container and keep it in the fridge for up to 4 days.  

Makes about 4 cups. 

Bridal Shower | Wedding

I'm getting married the end of November and it's hard to believe the wedding day is almost here. Oy!  My girlfriends hosted a beautiful bridal shower at Maximiliano's back patio in Highland Park and they did a kick-ass job with the whole thing.  And of course Chef/Owner Andre Guerrero made sure we were fed well.  

I was truly touched by everyone who was there and can't wait for the wedding day so I can finally eat carbs again.  It's been rough.  I made an exception for the shower.  

// The super cute succulent favors. Photo by June Bayha.

// The super cute succulent favors. Photo by June Bayha.

// My friend Linda has a knack for arranging flowers. Photo by June Bayha.

// My friend Linda has a knack for arranging flowers. Photo by June Bayha.

// Each person filled out a "mad libs" style note for me.

// Each person filled out a "mad libs" style note for me.

// This off-menu chicken adobo dish was a crowd pleaser.

// This off-menu chicken adobo dish was a crowd pleaser.

// And the bbq pork belly...

// And the bbq pork belly...

// The salted chocolate cake from Republique was the perfect ending for the shower.

// The salted chocolate cake from Republique was the perfect ending for the shower.

// Of course I had to capture the cake for Instagram. Photo by Stella Yeo.

// Of course I had to capture the cake for Instagram. Photo by Stella Yeo.

Sautéed Pea Tendrils | Recipe

Anytime I see pea tendrils (some people call them pea shoots) at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market, I snatch 'em up. I grew up eating them (I'm Chinese) and for me, it's much more rewarding to eat this than sautéed spinach -- much more texture and flavor. 

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Recipe

Ingredients:

1 bunch of pea tendrils (washed and trim the ends)
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of oil
Salt to taste

Directions: 

Heat the sauté pan. Once the pan gets hot, add the oil and garlic for a minute. Add the pea tendrils, sauté until wilted and tender (al dente) for a few minutes. Add salt to taste and you're done.

 

Tacos Perla | San Diego

My "Joy Luck Club" bestie (aka our parents played mahjong into the wee hours of the morning when we were growing up) lives down in San Diego which makes it easy for me to go down there and check out the food scene. Tacos Perla, a new taco spot in North Park is super cute and their tacos are rival Guisados in LA (gasp). The corn tortillas are handmade and pressed to order. They have meaty tacos, seafood tacos and vegan ones.  A must stop if you're in SD.

// You must get an aguas fresca for the burro!

// You must get an aguas fresca for the burro!

// Six different salsas for your tacos

// Six different salsas for your tacos

// Extreme close up of those handmade tortillas

// Extreme close up of those handmade tortillas

// Love the dipped tree trunk stools

// Love the dipped tree trunk stools


Sriracha Cheez-its | Recipe

I’ve always been obsessed with Cheez-its. I mean, what’s not to love. They’re cheezy, crispy and boy do they hit the spot when you’re craving something salty. So I decided to take it upon myself and make them from scratch but with a spicy twist to it. Sriracha sauce. 

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Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

Ingredients:

8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature (4 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons of Sriracha
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons ice water

Directions:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the cheese, butter, Sriracha and salt. Add the flour and mix on low (dough will be pebbly). Slowly add the water and mix as the dough forms a ball.

Pat the dough into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough into two pieces and roll each into a very thin (1/8 inch or less) 10×12 inch rectangle. Using a fluted pastry cutter, cut the rectangles into 1-inch squares, then transfer them to the baking sheets.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until puffed and browning at the edges. Watch carefully, as the high fat content of the crackers makes a fine line between golden delicious and burnt. Immediately move the crackers to racks to cool.