Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 in Photos

This year has been filled with lots of celebrations, love, and memories that will be near and dear to my heart forever. We've made some progress on our house both inside and out with a guest room re-design, a new garden, and some landscaping. My lovely friends threw the best bachelorette party I could dream of and my supermom put together the sweetest bridal shower. And then we topped off a very lovely (and windy!) Spring with the most beautiful and fun wedding and an exciting honeymoon to Japan! What could get better than that??  I am so thankful to everyone who came together to help us start this new chapter our our lives and I am  anxious to find out what will happen in 2011! I hope to be back on my feet in February and we will be planning a trip to visit my family in Seattle, a Hawaii anniversary, and Helya's wedding in August! I think it will be another great year!!

Music: Sufjan Stevens - The Tallest Man, The Broadest Shoulders (this was our recessional at the wedding!)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nice things Steve has done since surgery

I have THE BEST husband in the world. He is a super caretaker! These are just some things that he has done for me since I am stuck on the couch. It's the little things that really make me thankful for him!!
  • carried me to the bathroom every day for 4 days
  • called tech support for my ice machine because it stopped working
  • turned on the christmas lights every night
  • made me soup
  • got me raspberries because he knows how much I love them
  • brought me water 144,543,958 times
  • drove me back to LA for my post-op, over 6 hours round trip of rainy driving
  • made a nice bed in the back seat
  • fixed my pillows 49,494 times
  • wrapped the ice pack around my leg 7,339 times
  • did laundry
  • made coffee every morning
  • loaded and ran the dishwasher
  • emptied the dishwasher
  • slept on the couch in the living room with me every night
  • re-filled my prescription
  • bought me tampons
  • got me the prettiest bday card from Papyrus (can you imagine how cute he must have looked browsing around Papyrus??)

Monday, December 20, 2010

I got a new foot for my birthday

Today, Steve and I drove back down to LA for my post-op appointment. They took off my cast and oh, the freedom! It was like a breath of fresh air. 


Then they unwrapped what seemed like 20 layers of gauze and tape and ta da!!!


Look! My foot is straight!! No more bump! We got to look at the x-rays and all of my bones are perfectly in line and there is no more bunion. WAHOO!!


And, introducing a brand spankin new, PINK! cast to prance (lay) around in for the next two weeks!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

The annual American Chemical Society Wine Tasting Event was held at Firestone Vineyard this year. We always top off the wine tasting with warm soup, cheese, crackers, and fruit and I offered to make one of the soups. I decided to try something new and found a recipe from Everyday Italian with Giada de Laurentis for Creamy Red Pepper soup. It was a big hit and all of the women came up to me afterwards and raved about it. I'll definitely make it again, as Steve and I love soup on cold, winter nights. 

A trick for transporting hot soup from one location to another: Put hot towels in the bottom of an ice cooler. Transfer the hot soup pot directly from the stove to the cooler and wrap more warm towels all around it so that it is stable. This keeps the soup hot for a few hours believe it or not! Plus, if there's any spill, it is captured inside the cooler and not all over your car!

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 (12-oz) jars roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1 russet potato, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • baguette slices (I baked my usual biscuits instead)
  • mascarpone cheese

Directions:
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, garlic, and thyme and saute until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, bell peppers, potato, wine, and sugar. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low. Partially cover and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Cool the soup slightly.

Using an immersion hand blender, puree the soup in the pot until it is smooth. Alternately, working in batches, puree the soup in a regular blender, taking care while blending warm liquids. Season the soup, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and saute until they are crisp and golden, about 8 minutes.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Dollop a tablespoon of mascarpone in the center of each bowl and top with croutons. Sprinkle with pepper and serve.



Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Favorites: View from our bedroom

I'm feeling better enough to post today, just in time for Friday Favorites. Today's favorite is perfect for how I am feeling because we got home from LA today and it is the view from our bedroom at sunrise. I love waking up to this glorious surprise and each morning my jaw drops and I feel so lucky to live here. Just looking at the photo makes me so happy to be home from surgery. I love being home and I am already feeling the peace and calm that this view, that our home, brings.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bunions aren't for everyone

On Wednesday I am getting surgery on my right foot in Santa Monica. Can you figure out why??


It took me two years to find the right foot surgeon for the bunionectomy (Lapidus procedure if you're interested). The first doctor I "interviewed" turned out to be a super creep who lost his license because he  inappropriately touched women during operations and exams. EW. Anyway, my surgery is Wednesday morning and I will be in a cast for 6 weeks but here's the good news: I get a handicapped placard for three months, and I don't have to go to work for three weeks (but I still get paaaaid!)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Let's Meet in New York City

One of my dreams is to travel to New York City during the fall so I can jump in the crispy colored leaves in Central Park. You might think December 20th 2012 in NYC will be too cold and snowy for a pizza crawl, but how about October or November? Then I can jump in all the leaves I want and we can wrap ourselves in cute scarves and wear pea coats. Ok? Cool. Meet you there!



via John Mayer Blog

Friday, December 03, 2010

Friday Favorites: KitchenAid Mixer

I got a KitchenAid mixer as a wedding gift from Steve's sister and brother-in-law Jamelle and John. This sleek and shiny tool makes my life very happy. I love that I can just toss all of the ingredients in and walk-away while it mixes. The bowl is large and never splatters and its easy to clean. I have started baking more because of this new toy which is perfect timing for the holiday season. Pumpkin muffins, pie, and yummy treats to come all throughout December!!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Change your cupboards, change your life!

Steve worked all Thanksgiving break on these new kitchen cupboard pulls. It was so hard to choose a pull style, but I ended up with a simple silver pull with a little detail on the ends from Home Depot. This was a relatively inexpensive and easy way to give our old kitchen a much needed facelift! 

BEFORE

AFTER

BEFORE

AFTER

Monday, November 29, 2010

Friday (Monday) Favorites: Cupcake Merlot

Since I missed last week....

How cutesy and pretty is this? Wine + Cupcakes but not at the same time, rather name the wine Cupcake Vineyards and then slap on a super cute label and ta da! Happiness!

NYC Pizza? Umm, YES PLEASE!

This is what I want to do for my 30th birthday. Scott's Pizza Tours Let's start planning!!!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Feast for Kings

This was our first Thanksgiving as a married couple so I wanted to go all out and show Steve my domestic skills. It was just him and I for dinner, but I didn't want to skimp. I wanted to make a feast with all of our favorites.


Instead of an entire turkey, I made a turkey breast. I bought one of those freezer-to-oven bagged breasts which turned out delicious, tender, and juicy. The bagged turkeys have NEVER let me down. The turkey came with a gravy packet too which was equally delectable. 


We looove mashed potatoes but I came across a recipe for turnip mashed potatoes. I don't think I've ever eaten a turnip and Steve wasn't too sure he had either. But the description said it tastes like a really mild radish. We love radishes so I decided to make two batches of mash - one regular and one turnip style. The turnip potatoes were AMAZING. The difference between the two were subtle, but the turnip mash had a slight bite to it and if you didn't know there was turnip in there, you'd be licking your lips trying to figure out why your mashed potatoes tasted kind of spicy. 

I made my own stuffing, using a simple recipe that my mom gave me. But, instead of white bread I used whole wheat bread just because it was what I already had on hand. I sauteed a yellow onion and three stalks of celery in a cube of butter and poured it over stale bread cubes. I added 2 tablespoons of poultry seasoning and a can of chicken broth. Since I didn't have a whole turkey to stuff, I baked the stuffing in the oven for about 40 minutes. YUM. Sometimes I add apples to the stuffing but we had some home-made applesauce frozen from a stash Steve's mom gave us earlier this year and I figured that would satisfy our appletite (ha!).

Instead of a traditional Thanksgiving veggie dish like green bean casserole or carrots or broccoli, or cauliflower, or ANY OTHER VEGETABLE, I had to come up with something creative so that Steve would get his vitamins. So, I made a tomato, red bell pepper, and radish salad. I cut the veggies up in big pieces and tossed them in a home-made vinagrette (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, walnuts, thyme, salt, pepper, and a weird herb Steve planted for me outside) and added some crumbled feta cheese on top. This was a hit. Steve couldn't get enough!

I usually make the Pilsbury croissant rolls for Thanksgiving, but this year since I was on a domestic binge, I decided to make some semi-homemade biscuits. I used my go-to Bisquick recipe that I posted about before. 


Last, but certainly not least. The pumpkin pie. I really wanted to try out a recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Tirimisu. Steve wasn't really into the idea, and requested pumpkin pie instead. So, I attempted my very first pumpkin pie of all time and found a Paula Dean recipe for pumpkin pie using cream cheese. It came out so good that pretty much all I could think about all day today was getting my paws on another piece of that pie!!!



Now, we have so many leftovers we'll have lunch and dinner for the rest of the weekend and I am planning on making a turkey and mushroom soup next week. 

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and gorged yourselves like we did. Cheers to good food, family, and friends!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! Some things I am thankful for:

  1. I have a good job that I enjoy.
  2. My wonderful husband treats me like gold.
  3. I have a warm, cozy house where I am able to cook Thanksgiving dinner.
  4. My mom is the best mom in the world and even though she isn't physically here on T-day, she is here in spirit. My kitchen smells like my mom's cooking and I love that I always resort to the way she does things.
Read about my Thanksgiving meal on Dwight Delight!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hoarder

While taking a shower tonight, I looked down and saw 9 various bottles of shampoo and conditioner. For TWO people. Why do I keep so many bottles of shampoo around? Well, at that moment in the shower, I realized I am a shampoo hoarder. I buy a certain shampoos because of their lovely smell, color-protective qualities, special feature like Volume! or Shine! or based on a recommendation from my hair stylist. I usually use about 3/4 of these bottles, and then I decide to buy a new shampoo. I make up some reason why I don't like the shampoo anymore, like the smell has gone bad, or I found one that smells better. Or, that last bottle reaaally made my hair color fade. Really, I think I just enjoy breaking up with my shampoo only to replace it with something newer, better, and yummier. But, no, I never throw those mostly-finished bottles away. I keep them in the shower, just in case I change my mind later. And look in my bathroom cabinets...you'll see more old shampoos. What's with me?! Does anyone else do this too?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mini Deep-Dish Pizzas

Recipe from my new favorite cookbook magazine, Everyday Food, a Martha Stewart magazine. This recipe is perfect for appetizers at a party or a fun night with kids. You can add different toppings to each "muffin" for a variety of pizzas! Here's how it works:

Ingredients:
  • Olive oil for muffin pan
  • all-purpose flour, for rolling
  • 1/2 pound homemade or store-bought pizza dough in 12 pieces (I made my own dough with my breadmaker!! and it worked!!)
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • pizza sauce (I made my own)
  • desired toppings (I used pineapple, artichoke hearts, red bell pepper, tomatoes, and mushrooms)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly brush muffin pan with oil. On a lightly floured workspace, roll out dough pieces to rounds that fit the muffin cups. Fill each cup with 1 round, gently pressing dough into bottom and sides of cup. Season with salt and pepper.

Add about a tablespoon of sauce to bottom of each dough cup. Add cheese, and then toppings. Bake until dough is golden brown and crisp, 12 minutes. Let cool 2 minutes before removing from cups. Serve and enjoy!


Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Favorites: Four Loko

To those of you who have been watching the news lately...this is Steve's last chance.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ryan's 30th Birthday

Ryan is probably one of the nicest people I know. He is always positive, smiling, and just enjoying life and it was fun being part of his 30th birthday and just spending time together since we don't get to often. I love being around my family even though there are soo many sides to it! Somehow we all manage to get along and have a good time no matter where we are. Ryan was king for a weekend and was spoiled rotten just like he deserves :) 

We celebrated for two nights with LOTS of really good food, yummy tangerine beer, red wine, chocolate cake, good company, and lots of love! Saturday night we went to the Improv at Harvey's and laughed until our belly's hurt. It was a memorable weekend in Lake Tahoe. Here's to another happy and healthy year to my big broham. Cheers!



The cake was a hit.



Nut Tree Pumpkin Muffins

Thanks to my dear friend Marissa for giving me this recipe. I tried it out last week and these muffins were incredible! Super moist and yummy. 


Recipe Source: Nut Tree Remembered: The Cookbook Vacaville Museum and Nut Tree, Vacaville, California

Makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt 

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (I used 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin spice instead)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup water
12 California walnut halves (I used chopped pecans)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.



Combine dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Mix in oil, eggs and pumpkin. On low speed, gradually mix in water until well blended. Pour batter into greased muffin pans. If desired, top each muffin with a walnut half. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Favorites: Steve Madden Boots

My favorite boots are Steve Madden's Gammbble. I got them last year and have been anxiously awaiting fall so I have an excuse to wear them again! They go perfectly over jeans and leggings and are wide enough for my poor bunions. The heel isn't too high so they are comfortable all day long. They are the perfect boot, and I hope to get another pair in brown!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Today is a good day

Happy birthday to my big brother Ryan, who turns 30 today!!


Happy birthday to my loving grandma Ladonna! I will always think of her on this day.

Happy veterans day to all of those who have served or do serve our country! Especially thanks to Steve who joined the army in 1991 which allowed him to go to college for free, get a job, meet me, and buy a house with a great VA loan! YAY Army!

If Steve was a dancer...

...he would be best friends with the guy @ 0.36 seconds



As seen on MightyGirl.com

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A quick trip to Trader Joe's

After purchasing three quarts of yogurt and a half gallon of whole milk:

Me: "Wow, we really love dairy."
Steve: "Just call us lactose tolerant!"

Monday, November 08, 2010

Homemade Pizza

Not surprisingly, pizza is one of our favorite foods. We order out from a local pizza parlor, Paisanos regularly, and Dominos is our staple pizza place for a quick and inexpensive dinner. But every now and then I make pizza at home!

Dough: I use either Pilsbury pizza crust or Trader Joe's pizza crust. And for my next pizza, I am going to try making pizza dough from scratch with my bread maker.

Sauce: I make my own sauce using a small can of tomato paste, canned tomato sauce (with no seasoning) and petite diced tomatoes (either fresh or canned, whatever you have on hand). I mix the sauces together in a small bowl, and add oregano, ground pepper, garlic salt, basil, and some crushed red pepper.

Cheese: I use shredded mozzarella either from an already shredded bag or fresh mozzarella that I shred myself. I also sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Toppings: My favorite toppings are artichoke heart, mushrooms, and pineapple chunks. But you can add whatever you want. Pepperoni, bell pepper, tomatoes, already cooked chicken, sausage, whatever you can imagine! 

I prepare the dough on a non-stick baking sheet sprinkled with corn meal so that the pizza doesn't stick to it. I also sprinkle the cornmeal on top of the dough to give it a little crunch! Meanwhile, I prepare my pizza stone in the oven at 450 for about 15 minutes. I add the sauce, cheese, and toppings to the dough and then transfer the pizza to the pizza stone from the baking sheet. This can be tricky but if you used enough corn meal on the baking sheet, it should slide off pretty easy. 

Cook the pizza for about 15 minutes or whatever the dough instructions say.

Slice and enjoy!!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Pork Tenderloin























One of my favorite dinners is Pork Tenderloin. My mom used to make this meal all the time and I would call it "round meats" and I would always request this for my birthday or any other special occasion. It's probably my favorite cut of pork and it is really easy to cook.

Ingredients:
  • 1 pork tenderloin 
  • 1/2 yellow onion sliced
  • sliced brown mushrooms
  • sliced bell pepper of your choice
  • baby carrots
  • shallots
  • garlic
  • white wine
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Heat oven to 325. In a 9 x 11 glass baking dish, drizzle olive oil into the bottom of the dish. Add some white wine, balsamic vinegar, and a little bit of water to bottom of pan. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Add to the pan. Slice veggies and arrange around the pork in the pan. Bake for 30 minutes covered with foil. Bake 10 more minutes uncovered until pork is only slightly pink in the middle. (Or use a thermometer to test internal temperature) Let rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve with veggies. I usually make mashed potatoes or rice with this dish.

Steve thinks this recipe is "heaven, basically"

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Baby Gopher

Steve caught two of these baby gophers today. It was the tiniest little thing and for one single moment I thought gopher's were cute and innocent. It could barely move on Steve's glove and gave little yelps and squeals every few seconds. You don't want to know what he did with it...


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