Posted by: Hil | September 27, 2008

Happy Birthday


Yesterday was  Blueberry Mom’s birthday and we all had a fabulous time with lots of good food, culminating a birthday dessert of one of my signature desserts:  creamy yogurt panna cotta.

Blueberry Mom and I headed out for breakfast at Starbucks, where we acquired coffee and sandwiches.  I tried out their spinach feta wrap which was extremely tasty and filling for only being 240 calories.  It had egg, roasted tomato, spinach and feta in some kind of whole grain wrap bread toasted up in the oven.  Mine was a bit cool in the center, which annoyed me, but other than that, it was surprisingly good.  I definitely give the sandwich a thumbs up if you’re ever need to acquire a decent breakfast at Starbucks.


For lunch, we went out to Locando del Lago in Santa Monica, which is a fun Northern Italian place on the Third Street Promenade.  We were in the mood for the exact same things today, right down to our Pino Grigio, so we decided to split our entrees, thus getting a bit of everything.


I ordered a roasted vegetable panini with eggplant, zucchini, mozarealla and pesto on ciabatta bread…YUM.  The crunchy bread went so well with the meaty vegetables, and the pesto flavor was great.  We each ate half of the sandwich and I stole a few bites of the side salad that came with it.


My mom ordered an Italian version of a Nicoise salad with seared tuna.  This was very good…not spectacular, but very good.  Ideas to steal:  cutting up the potatoes into tiny chunks before putting them in the salad, chopping the greens in the filling, and adding a few salty anchovy fillets.  I’d never seen those touches in a Nicoise salad before, and I thought they worked very nicely.


For dinner, we ate at home.  I made a seafood pasta with garlic white wine butter sauce and mixed vegetables.  This was YUMMY.  I had never cooked mussels before, but it was surprisingly easy.


First, I heated a generous mixture of olive oil and butter in the bottom of a pan.  The flavors work well together, the butter helps the sauce form the correct consistency and the oil keeps the butter from burning quite so easily.  To the mixture, I added several cloves of smashed garlic, a big sprig of basil, and two small hot chilies to flavor the oil.  I seared half a pound of scallops (about 4 big ones) in the mixture and then set those aside.  I then added about a cup of white wine to the butter mixture, followed by a pound of green lipped mussels.  I covered the pan and let them steam for a few minutes until the mussels opened up…this doesn’t take very long.


While the mussels were cooking, I cooked some whole wheat spaghetti in a separate pot.  During the last minute of cooking, I added veggies: a box of baby bell peppers (which I had slivered earlier) and half a bunch of chopped asparagus.  To serve, I topped the pasta and veggies with the white wine/butter sauce and some of the seafood (I threw out the garlic, basil and chilies after cooking).  Season with a bit of salt and pepper, and you have a delicious, filling entree.  With some sparkling wine and crusty bread, that was dinner.


Dessert was just how Blueberry Mom and I like them:  creamy, rich and barely sweetened.  I love this recipe because it is easy to make any size batch that you need, it involves minimal prep time, and the results are amazing:  cold and creamy with a pleasant tang from the yogurt.


Vanilla Panna Cotta

Serves 4


  • 3/4 cup yogurt
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 2 tbsp sugar (or more if you want)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • heaping 1/2 tsp gelatin
  • a couple tablespoons of cold water


Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let sit for about five minutes.  Heat the cream, sugar and vanilla in a small saucepan.  Bring to a simmer.  Turn off heat and stir in gelatin mixture until it dissolves.  Mix hot cream mixture with yogurt and stir to combine.  Pour mixture into four small ramekins or custard cups.  Place cups in refrigerator for several hours until the mixture sets.  Enjoy!



  1. What a great way for Blueberry Mom to spend her birthday 🙂 Good food and good company!! Thanks for posting the recipe for the yogurt panna cotta, it looks very yummy.

  2. Aww, you are such a good daughter! Sounds like your mom had a great day 🙂

  3. What a lovely day you had with your mom, for her birthday!! And WOW you guys look a lot alike – love it!! 🙂

    By the way, I will be at my dance showcase ALL DAY today, so I will probably not be able to comment on your next post – I apologize in advance!!

  4. Sounds like it was a lovely day!

    You are the spitting image of your mom!

  5. What an excellent food-filled day! Looks perfect from start to finish!

  6. WOW you guys look so much alike!!!

  7. That sandwich looks so great-i love pesto, mozzarella and grilled veggies on yummy bread!

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