Saturday, February 13, 2010

Recipe: Chocolate Mousse for Valentine's Day

I was debating whether to post a recipe for Valentine's Day or for the Lunar New Year and I am going with Valentine's Day.  This chocolate mousse recipe is super easy and will impress any diehard chocolate lover.  I like to put it into individual ramekins so that you can keep little bites of chocolate in your fridge for the next month or so.  Enjoy!

3.5 oz of high quality dark chocolate 65% cacao or higher
8 oz heavy whipping cream
1 Tbl of good quality vanilla or brandy, cognac etc.  Whatever flavor you like in addition to chocolate

Whip the cream until very stiff
Melt the chocolate at a very low heat on the stove stir constantly
Gradually add the chocolate to the whipped cream and do not over stir a little cream streak or two will not hurt the taste.  Add your flavoring.  Pour into about 6 to 8 ramekins and cover with plastic and chill.

That's it!  Easiest dessert on the planet!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Recipe: Chicken Paprika

I was talked into making a Cosco run last weekend and I bought way more organic chicken thighs than needed for recipe I was making and I had to come up with something to do with the rest of them. 

I had not made Chicken Paprika for a long time but this was a winner with my family; it got 4 thumbs out of 4 thumbs.  Instead of adding the sour cream to the entire dish as is traditional I served the sour cream at the table for calorie control.

1 lb boneless and skinless chicken thighs diced
1 small onion chopped
6 cloves of garlic chopped
1/2 a red pepper chopped
16 oz can no salt tomato sauce
8 oz no salt chicken broth
1 Tbl sweet paprika ( adjust to your taste)
1 Tbl olive oil
Salt/pepper to taste
Serve sour cream at the table

Heat the olive oil, add the onion, garlic and pepper.  Cook until soft add the chicken and brown the chicken.  Add a tsp of paprika to the mixture and cook another 5 minutes.  Add the tomato sauce, chicken broth and the rest of the paprika.  Cook for 60 minutes on low heat or until thickened.  Add additional paprika if needed.

This can be served over egg noodles, rice or potatoes. 

Friday, February 5, 2010

Making Sense of Silicon Valley Real Estate News in the Newspaper

There is an article today in the San Jose Mercury News in the Business Section with the headline: "Home sales of $1 million or more fall from 2008"

First I am going to digress for a moment.

I have a mathematics degree with an emphasis in statistics and probability theory. I know how easy it is to create meaningless statistics. I am a true believer in the quote "Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics" I am not saying that the numbers are not correct in this article but I think they fail to tell you much about the market.

First, if you can remember back to 2008, most of us spent the first 8 months or so of 2008 completely ignorant of the banking crisis coming our way. We were busy living our lives and that included investing in expensive real estate in Silicon Valley. Then after September of 2008 house buying stopped almost completely and it was extremely difficult to get a Jumbo loan.

In 2009 anyone that did not need to sell a house was not selling. The banks were flooding the market with bank-owned property. Buyers were tempted by the great deals but many were also too scared to jump in for most of 2009. However, those who jumped in to the market in early 2009 and bought had an opportunity to get some of those great deals you have read about in the papers. Unfortunately, those deals are gone.

Then a funny thing happened in the fall of 2009, the banks got better at managing their inventory and buyers started to feel more optimistic. They were sensing that the market had bottomed in Silicon Valley and they were wading back in. I kept asking almost everyone that I met at my open houses in the fall of 2009 “Why are you looking to buy?”

The answer I got over and over again was so Silicon Valley....

"If I still have a job now I am probably going to continue to have one and I do not want to miss out on this great market"

To summarize what the numbers are telling me.

In 2008 people bought Million Dollar homes over a 9 month period without knowing about the banking crisis and with mortgages being readily available. In 2009, most bought Million Dollar homes in the later part of the year as mortgages became more available again and inventory became more available. If there are less months of buying in one year (2009) versus the other year (2008) the numbers of houses sold will be lower.

Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Palo Alto went against the trend and more homes were bought in 2009 than 2008. Why is the topic of another blog entry.