Blog Posts by Sunset Magazine

  • 8 Best Thai Recipes

    Full of bright, bold flavors, these Thai dishes put takeout to shame.


    Ubiquitous street food in ThailandUbiquitous street food in Thailand
    Shrimp Pad Thai

    Quick and delicious, pad Thai is a ubiquitous street food in Thailand.


    Yield: Serves 8
    Total: 35 Minutes


    Ingredients

    12 ounces rice vermicelli noodles
    1/3 cup peanut or vegetable oil
    1 tablespoon minced garlic
    8 ounces (30 to 35 per lb.) raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
    5 green onions, cut into 2-in. pieces
    1 tablespoon dried shrimp*, minced
    2 cups bean sprouts, divided
    1/3 cup Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce
    2 tablespoons ketchup
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1 teaspoon red chile flakes
    2 large eggs, slightly beaten
    1/2 cup cilantro leaves
    1/3 cup chopped roasted unsalted peanuts (optional)
    6 to 8 lime wedges
    Sriracha* (Asian red chile sauce; optional)


    Preparation

    1. Soak vermicelli noodles in a bowl of very hot water until soft, about 15 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking.

    2. Meanwhile, heat a large wok or frying pan over high

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  • 5 Iconic Palm Trees for Home Gardens

    They're graceful, they're amazing, they're iconic, defining Western skylines from San Francisco to San Diego; in Arizona and Hawaii. Here are five palms we admire.



    L.A.'s most visible symbolsL.A.'s most visible symbols
    Mexican Fan Palm (Washingtonia robusta)
    Bio: Planted to beautify L.A. streets for the 1932 Olympics, Mexican fan palms are the city's most visible symbols of the sun-and-surf good life. Phoenix has a passel of them too.

    Who loves 'em: Tourists and die-hard Angelenos, native and transplanted.

    Who doesn't: People who dismiss them as invaders that do nothing to cleanse or cool the air, or as costly nuisances (L.A. spent about $400,000 in one year cleaning up fallen fronds). Some city foresters prefer native shade trees such as oaks and sycamores.

    In their defense: "Studies show that Mexican fans are as effective as other trees at cleansing the air," says Donald R. Hodel, palm and tree expert and environmental horticulture adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension. "But each tree has a smaller

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  • 12 Best Plants for Cool-season Color

    Brighten gray, drizzly days with the West's best cool-season flowers.


    Easy color from late fall through springEasy color from late fall through spring
    Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
    Annual
    Daisy-like calendula provides easy color from late fall through spring in mild-winter climates, and are long lasting in a vase.

    Choose classic orange and bright yellow, or opt for subtler shades of apricot, cream, and soft yellow. Branching plants are 1 to 2 feet high and 1 to 1½ feet wide and look great as masses of color or in a container.

    Calendula plants take full sun and moderate water. They will tolerate many soils as long as they have good drainage. Remove the spent flowers to prolong bloom.


    Shiny dark green leaves look great all yearShiny dark green leaves look great all year
    Candytuft (Iberis)
    Perennial
    Candytuft plants grow 8 to 12 inches high and wide; their narrow, shiny dark green leaves look great all year.

    Pure white flower clusters are carried on stems long enough to cut for bouquets. Choose 'Alexander's White' (pictured), 'Autumnale', or 'Autumn Snow; they bloom in spring and again in fall.

    Plants thrive in full sun or

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  • 15 Smart Ideas for a Green Remodel

    What we used to call "green" design is now just common sense. Take it from a contractor who called on his eco savvy to update his own home.


    By industry definition, Jeff King is a contractor specializing in sustainable building, but he'll be the first to warn you against the G-word. "Green has become so overused a lot of people don't take it seriously," says King, who became a certified green builder in 2004. So he reframed the conversation, telling his clients about the health benefits of cleaner air from zero-VOC paints, the dollars saved by radiant-heat flooring, and the durability of Caesarstone countertops--all choices that happen to be environmentally friendly.


    The new space feels biggerThe new space feels bigger
    Use space wisely

    Though it has a similar foot­print to the prior kitchen ("low 8-foot ceilings, red cabinets, dismal," King's wife, Margot Beall says), the new walk-through space feels bigger thanks to higher ceilings, glass-front cabinets, floating shelves, a pull-out pantry, and bright white surfaces. King added

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  • 8 Delicious Brussels Sprouts Dishes

    These tasty recipes will turn even the most ardent Brussels sprouts hater into a fan.


    An Italian spinAn Italian spin
    Spicy Brussels Sprouts with Fried Capers
    Give vegetables an Italian spin with garlic, anchovies, chile flakes, and tangy capers.


    Yield
    : Serves 8
    Total: 25 Minutes


    Ingredients
    2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
    1/2 cup drained brined capers
    1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    3 oil-packed anchovy fillets, finely chopped
    1/2 to 3/4 tsp. red chile flakes
    1/2 lemon

    Preparation
    1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add Brussels sprouts and cook just until tender and bright green, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

    2. Meanwhile, blot capers on a paper towel. Heat oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add capers and cook, stirring carefully (mixture will spatter), until capers start to open and are brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer capers to a paper towel to drain.

    3. Add garlic and anchovies

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  • 10 Tips on Decorating a Rental

    When Kyle Schuneman moved into half of a Victorian duplex in San Francisco's Pacific Heights neighborhood, he didn't know how long he would live there. What he did know, however, is that he felt duty-bound to make his mark on the apartment. "Even in a rental, it's about making a space that works for you," he says. With these big-impact, low-commitment decorating ideas, he proves that living well isn't just for homeowners.


    Lovely bonesLovely bones
    Play up good bones
    Schuneman made the most of the apartment's best asset--its molding and wainscoting--by painting it glossy white. He painted the walls blue as a modern counterpoint.
    Redecorating with paint


    It can move when Schuneman doesIt can move when Schuneman does
    Customize on a dime

    Using plumbing parts and lumber from the Home Depot, Schuneman built an industrial-style bookcase for the narrow space behind the living room sofa. Since the piece is on casters, it can easily move out whenever Schuneman does.
    10 rules of freestyle decorating


    Vertical lines make the space tallerVertical lines make the space taller
    Create the illusion of space

    Hanging long drapes high "lifts" the

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  • 10 Warming Winter Trips

    Escape winter chill on a vacation to SoCal, the Southwest, Hawaii, or Mexico.


    Just steps from the beachJust steps from the beach
    Kick back in a hammock in Hawaii

    You can sleep just steps from the beach at Waimea Plantation Cottages on Kauai.

    Wake up to the waves crashing, pour yourself a cup of local java, and then wander under the banyan trees.
    More on Kauai


    A welcome antidote to short daysA welcome antidote to short days
    Fall in love with Mexico's San Miguel

    Cobblestone streets, shady courtyards, and intimate cafés would make even a walk across the street feel romantic in San Miguel.

    In winter, colorful gardens and houses are a welcome antidote to short days, and the cosmopolitan vibe--a blend of the best parts of Santa Fe, Siena, and Seville--means people still dress up for date night.

    More: Fall in love with Mexico's San Miguel


    Jaw-dropping views of the coastJaw-dropping views of the coast
    Laguna Beach, without the crowds

    When the summer throngs depart, you get this seaside arts town and its beaches all to yourself. Just 50 miles south of L.A., Laguna Beach has galleries galore, romantic hotels, and jaw-dropping views of the coast.


    Winter temps climb into the blissful 70sWinter temps climb into the blissful 70s
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  • 10 Ways to Eat Healthier

    Kick start your "eat healthier" resolution with 10 easy-to-follow strategies.



    Off the charts for vitamin B12Off the charts for vitamin B12
    Eat Mussels
    You'd think their briny sweetness would be all the reason we need to celebrate mussels, as well as other seafood that's low on the food chain, like oysters and clams. Well, there's more. Mussels are off the charts for vitamin B12, and high in iron, protein, even vitamin C.
    Suggested recipe: Saffron Steamed Mussels


    Extra dollars pay off nutritionallyExtra dollars pay off nutritionally
    Make it sustainable-meat Sundays

    Grass-fed meat may take a bigger bite out of your wallet than the usual grain-fed supermarket choice, but the extra dollars pay off nutritionally with meat that is lower in fat, and--thanks to the animals' pasture-based diet--higher in omega-3s and a group of fatty acids that can actually lower your cholesterol. Farmers' markets and some supermarkets sell grass-fed beef and sometimes bison, lamb, and even goat.
    Suggested Recipe: Mini Lamb Meatballs with Cilantro-Mint Chutney


    A grassroots movement A grassroots movement
    Try meatless Mondays

    You may have heard the slogan, which

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  • 9 Super-chic House Plants

    From low-water plants to simple projects, our guide to easy gardening will make a green thumb out of anyone.


    This bromeliad reaches 3 feetThis bromeliad reaches 3 feet
    The bombshell

    Vriesia hieroglyphica hybrid

    Foliage: Leaves are curvaceous, always dressed in skintight patterning.

    Plant: This bromeliad reaches 3 feet tall and wide. Lives for 8 to 10 years before it blooms, then dies.

    Light: Any.

    More on container gardens


    Most interesting textureMost interesting texture
    The islander

    Black aralia (Polyscias guilfoylei)

    Foliage: Ruffled, slightly coarse leaves on slim trunks--the most interesting texture of any houseplant we've seen.

    Plant: A tender shrub from the tropics, it grows slowly to 12 feet. Water when soil has dried 2 to 3 inches below the surface.

    Light: Moderate to bright.


    Dramatic all yearDramatic all year
    The jungle queen
    Spathiphyllum 'Sensation'

    Foliage: Lush 2-foot-long leaves of deep green are dramatic all year; luxuriant white flowers in spring.

    Plant: A peace lily, it can reach 4 feet tall.

    Light: Low to medium.


    Can reach 20 feet tallCan reach 20 feet tall
    The grand dame

    Ficus lyrata 'Little Fiddle'

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  • 10 Ways to Make the Cool Season Cozier

    Warm up with these ideas for making the cooler months even more comfy-cozy, from your home to your travel destinations.



    Literally turn up the heatLiterally turn up the heat
    Light a fire
    Of course, one sure way to make a room feel cozy is to literally turn up the heat. Something about a fire crackling signals it's time to settle in for a while. If you don't have a fireplace, group candles in several places in a room and light them for a similar glow.


    Guests feel instantly welcomeGuests feel instantly welcome
    Mull wine
    Fill your home with the heady aroma of Zinfandel and pomegranate juice warming with spices. When guests walk in the door, they'll feel instantly welcome.

    Recipe: Mulled Pomegranate Red Wine Punch


    Break out the dutch ovenBreak out the dutch oven
    Braise meat
    Break out the dutch oven and get ready to slowly simmer an inexpensive cut of meat until a fork slides right in.


    Richly saturated harvest huesRichly saturated harvest hues
    Arrange some amaranth

    Amaranth's velvety flowers come in richly saturated harvest hues, and they hold their colors and shapes even when dry. Snag some from your garden, florist, or local farmers' market to add a dash of passion to a seasonal

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