Blog Posts by Sunset Magazine

  • Chefs' 15 Favorite Restaurant Dishes

    We collaborated with the Chefs Feed app to bring you a highly opinionated list from all corners of the West from the people who know food best.


    Restaurant: Cafe Aion, Boulder
    Recommended by: Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson of Frasca Caffe, Frasca Food and Wine, and Pizzeria Locale

    "A fun meal meant to be shared," says Mackinnon-Patterson of this tapas bar's star dish. "The flavor combination is amazing and well-balanced--sausage, tomato, chicken, and mussels work beautifully with the saffron rice." 1235 Pennsylvania Ave., Boulder, CO;

    Spoon-worthy smoothie Spoon-worthy smoothie
    Green Buzz Açaí Bowl

    Restaurant: Choice Health Bar, Maui
    Recommended by: Sheldon Simeon of Aloha Mixed Plate, Leoda's, and Star Noodle

    This simple counter's spoon-worthy smoothie "gives you a super-focused boost of energy," says Simeon, thanks to açaí, berries, spirulina, coconut water, and toppings that include bee pollen and goji berries. 1087 Limahana Place, Lahaina, Maui, HI; 808/661-7711.

    Stunning blend of flavorsStunning blend of flavors
    Thai Seafood and Read More »from Chefs' 15 Favorite Restaurant Dishes
  • Go on a Shark Diving Adventure

    Go nose-to-nose with a great white off Baja's Guadalupe Island, where shark sightings are all but guaranteed.

    A common sightA common sight
    Every week is shark week

    Guadalupe sees more than 120 sharks a season (June through November).

    Did we lose you right after "Baja?" Here are some tamer Mexican adventures.

    White readingWhite reading
    Sink your teeth into the literature

    A little great white reading: The 20-hour voyage from San Diego gives you a chance to bone up on sharks.

    The cageThe cage
    Setting the stage

    Cages for certified divers are lowered 30 feet into the water.

    More offbeat scuba-diving locations

    Patience pays offPatience pays off
    The waiting game

    Safe in his cage, breathing oxygen pumped to him from the boat above, a shark watcher waits for the great whites to arrive.

    Ready for its close-upReady for its close-up

    A shark watcher grabs a quick video of passing great white.

    More water-based adventures

    Problem solversProblem solvers

    "They're smart," says Lawrence Groth, who as proprietor of Great White Adventures is making his 180th trip to the area. "They know we pull the line in to the boat when we see them coming, so

    Read More »from Go on a Shark Diving Adventure
  • 8 Delicious S'mores & Camping Desserts

    Reinvent the campfire favorite with our grown-up flavor combinations--plus get more inventive ideas for camping treats.

    Peanut butterPeanut butter
    Chocolate and Peanut Butter S'mores

    Anyone who's outgrown classic s'mores will love this version: gooey-sweet melted marshmallow tempered by bittersweet chocolate cookies and salty roasted peanuts. Spread 1 tablespoon peanut butter (at room temperature, for easy spreading) onto a thin, crisp chocolate water (such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers). Slide 1 skewer-toasted marshmallow onto peanut butter. Top with a second wafer and squish down gently. Eat, licking fingers.

    Did you know you can make your own marshmallows?

    Try NutellaTry Nutella
    Nutty Banana S'mores

    Make these s'mores with graham crackers, a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup (or Nutella), sliced banana, and marshmallow.

    Make your own graham crackers!

    Strawberry and Chocolate S'mores

    Take the classic campfire dessert up a notch by adding strawberry slices to Graham crackers, dark chocolate, and roasted marshmallow.

    Ginger and caramelGinger and caramel
    Read More »from 8 Delicious S'mores & Camping Desserts
  • 20 Colorful Plants for Shade Gardens

    Plant some of these beauties for great garden color, even in shade.

    Perfect perennial borderPerfect perennial border
    Astilbe hybrids

    Feathery, plumelike flowers have an airy quality; they come in shades of pink, salmon, lavender, red, and white above fernlike foliage.

    A mainstay of shaded perennial borders, they're also great beside garden pools, along shaded paths, and in pots. Give them moist, rich soil.

    Zones 1-7, 14-17; short-lived in 8, 9, 14-24. (Not sure of your zone? Check it here.)

    More on using plants for borders

    Tangled up in blueTangled up in blue
    Amethyst flower (Browallia hybrids)

    If you love blue flowers, this annual is a must. Amethyst flower has star-shaped blooms of brilliant blue and sky blue, as well as violet and white; they nearly cover the 1- to 2-foot-tall plants.

    Put them in hanging baskets or containers, then make them really happy by displaying them in a location that gets warm shade or filtered sunlight. Leaves are small, roundish, and green.

    All zones.

    Every color but blueEvery color but blue
    Begonia (Tuberous)

    For sizzling color in pots and hanging

    Read More »from 20 Colorful Plants for Shade Gardens
  • 9 Ways to Fake Beach-house Style

    Bring the beach home with you by adding shoreside flair

    Hand-blown chandelierHand-blown chandelier
    Personalize the look

    For this vacation house, project designer Jesse Moyer of Jessica Helgerson Interior Design looked far beyond the expected fancy showrooms. Many of the furnishings were custom-designed by the firm, vintage, or handmade. The key is the mix: In the dining room, a hand-blown glass chandelier shines above a reclaimed teak table. In the living room, a custom-made sectional couch sits beside an old boat reinvented for lounging. "We wanted it to feel lived in and personal," says Jesse. "There's no point in hiring an interior designer and having them go to one showroom," adds Jessica. "You can do that yourself." Jessica Helgerson Interior Design, Portland ( Chandelier by Ochre,

    Turquoise accessoriesTurquoise accessories
    Blend the palettes

    Indoors, turquoise accessories play off neutral paints and bare wood. River Reflections #1552 and China White paint,; pendant lights by Heather Levine,

    Read More »from 9 Ways to Fake Beach-house Style
  • Top 21 Island Escapes

    Plot your escape to one of the West's best islands--places so lovely you won't want your time there to end.

    Catalina Island, CA

    This island retreat, only 40 minutes by ferry from the mainland, is the ultimate SoCal beach paradise and a great choice for a family weekend. You can splash around on Avalon Beach, stroll through the harbor town of Avalon, or take a jeep tour of the wild backcountry.

    More on Catalina

    Maui, HI

    The Magic Isle has its contradictions. Calm and lovely today, its 'Iao Valley was where King Kamehameha I defeated Maui forces in his fight to unite Hawaii under his rule. Beach town Pa'ia has two faces too: world-class surfer and windsurfer hangout, but also home to native Hawaiians whose island roots reach back centuries. Then there's the tiny coastal paradise of Hana--no stoplights, no chain stores, no TVs, just blissful beauty.

    Vancouver IslandVancouver Island
    Vancouver Island, B.C.

    There aren't many temperature-friendly and easily accessible places left in North America that offer as much

    Read More »from Top 21 Island Escapes
  • 10 Great Wine & Beer Pairings for Summer Foods

    Self-described "publican" Sarah Pederson--who says a great beer and cheese pairing has been known to make her "feel like turning on the Clash and setting off some fireworks"--owns Portland's Saraveza craft beer shop and tavern. And Brandon Tebbe, a Master Sommelier, still craves thought-provoking reds (and a flavor challenge like this one) even after a long day guiding wine fans to exciting bottles for Synergy Fine Wines in Denver. Use their spot-on pairings to drink outside your beverage box this summer.

    Fried fish and tatar sauceFried fish and tatar sauce
    Baja Fried-Fish Tacos

    Best beer: Nectar Ales Nectar IPA. "The citrusy hops make the tartar sauce pop," Pederson says. "And the light malt flavor gives the fish a hug, instead of overpowering it."

    Best wine: Pacific Rim 2011 Wallula Vineyard Biodynamic Riesling (Horse Heaven Hills; $24). Tebbe's take: "It refreshes your palate after every bite with notes of lemon-lime."

    Fish taco recipe

    Ribs and sauceRibs and sauce
    Applewood-Smoked Spareribs

    Best beer: Uinta Anniversary Barley Wine. "At 10.4 percent, the

    Read More »from 10 Great Wine & Beer Pairings for Summer Foods
  • 14 Ideas for Side Yards

    Get inspired to transform unusued space alongside your home into a vibrant oasis.

    Soothing garden escapeSoothing garden escape
    Soothing garden escape

    Long and skinny, this paved side yard in Portland looked like a bowling alley. That was, however, before someone took a jackhammer to it. With the concrete gone, landscape designer Darcy Daniels ( used foliage to give the space a warm, lush feel. Rich goldenrod walls now set the mood, and drifts of gold-tinted perennials--Japanese forest grass, autumn fern, and Bowles Golden sedge--reinforce it. Blue Hosta Halcyon adds contrasting color, and Japanese maple and variegated fatshedera give a sense of volume. Now the soothing garden is a pleasure to walk through.

    More stone paving ideas

    A border in potsA border in pots
    Plant a border in pots

    Enhancing a narrow in-ground bed is easy with a row of potted plants. In this small, shaded side yard, cylindrical chocolate brown pots filled with white cyclamen line up against the raised border's low brick wall, making the fern-filled planting appear deeper

    Read More »from 14 Ideas for Side Yards
  • 20 Iconic Beach Experiences

    Ignite your love for the shore with these classic beach icons. From boardwalks to bonfires, here are our favorite ways to dive in.

    Mastering the sandcastleMastering the sandcastle
    Mastering the sandcastle

    The king of the castle--Todd Vander Pluym, winner of nearly 200 sand-sculpting competitions--shares his trade secrets.

    Test the sand. Squeeze wet sand and roll it back and forth in your hand. If it stays together, it's good sand. If it falls apart, "you're in the wrong spot--or on the wrong beach," says Vander Pluym.

    Build a base. Make a circular wall out of dry sand, 6 inches high and 3 feet wide. Add 2 inches of water to circle, then 2 inches of sand. Tamp until water drains. Add dry sand to wall and repeat layering, angling inward to form 18-inch mound.

    Construct towers. Place a bucket, with the bottom cut out, handle side down on the mound. Alternate layers of sand and water in the bucket, 2 inches at a time, tamping as you go, finishing with water.

    Perform lift-off. Have one person tap the bucket to release sand right

    Read More »from 20 Iconic Beach Experiences
  • 13 Key Home Organization Tips

    Whip your home's problem areas and tricky tasks into shape with advice from organizing pro Janna Lufkin.

    Back doorBack door
    By the back door
    Hooks and bins or baskets are the easiest way to keep day-to-day essentials neat. "You can immediately hang up the stuff you grab every day," Lufkin says. "Have a hook for keys, a hook for your purse, a bin for your purse, one for backpacks, and one for shoes."

    All about shelving

    Kitchen cupboardsKitchen cupboards
    Kitchen cupboards
    Purge your cupboards, keeping only what you need, then put everything back in zones, says Lufkin. Put coffee, tea, cereal, vitamins, and juice glasses all in one spot for easy mornings. Put your everyday cups, mugs, plates, and bowls in the cupboards around the dishwasher and unloading becomes a snap.

    Spice up your kitchen cabinets

    Kitchen sinkKitchen sink
    At the kitchen sink

    "Stand at the sink and ask yourself, 'What do I really need here and what's clutter?'" Lufkin says. Hand soap and sponges (stored in a container, not left on the counter) are the only essentials. Stow everything else

    Read More »from 13 Key Home Organization Tips


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