Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Thai Peanut

One of my new favorite recipes and regular week night go-to's is a Thai peanut chicken dish. My mom introduced me to this dish when I visited her earlier this year in Seattle. It was one of the best meals of my life....I might die. My mom used one of those Thai Kitchen Noodle kits that comes with the rice noodles, seasonings, and peanut sauce. She added crushed peanuts, sambal oelek (spicey chili paste)  cilantro, lime juice, crunchy bean sprouts, chicken, and white rice. You drooling yet?! 

Well, when I got home I wanted to re-create this masterpiece but I couldn't find the Thai Peanut noodle kit anywhere!! My mom mailed me a kit and I made the dish but forgot the cilantro  and lime juice and Steve said the chicken pieces were too big. Boo! So, I tried again, this time kit-less. I bought some thai peanut sauce, rice noodles, sambal oelek, and sesame oil, remembered the cilantro and lime, and cut the chicken into tiny pieces! Whew!! My home-made version of the Thai Kitchen recipe was just as good, and now I have lots ingredients to make it again!! 

Here's what you will need if you can't find the Thai Kitchen box:
  • chicken breast
  • white rice
  • rice noodles
  • crushed up peanuts
  • bean sprouts
  • cilantro
  • lime juice from fresh limes
  • sambal oelek chili paste
  • sesame oil
  • Thai Peanut Sauce
  • any other veggies of your choice

Cook the chicken and saute the veggies in the sesame oil and peanut sauce. Add a quarter size dollop of chili paste and mix. (Use less if you don't like spicy food. A little bit of this stuff goes a LONG way!) Cook the rice and rice noodles. Add the bean sprouts just before you're ready to serve so they get only slightly cooked. Add the rice noodles to the chicken, veggie mix. Dish out over the rice. Sprinkle with cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice. Top with crushed peanuts. 

Mom's Thai Kitchen dish

My home-made Thai Peanut dish

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hawaiian Style

The theme for my Grandpa's 80th birthday was Hawaiian Luau. I thought pineapple fried rice and rainbow fruit skewers would be the perfect addition to bbq'd ribs and veggie kabobs. 

Pineapple Fried Rice
  • Cooked white rice
  • yellow onion chopped
  • chopped roasted red pepper
  • small bits of pineapple
  • frozen peas
  • cashews
  • eggs
  • sesame oil
  • olive oil
  • cumin
  • S&P
Saute the yellow veggies in olive oil and a tbsp of sesame oil. Add the egg mix up lightly so it scrambles and fries up with the veggies. Add salt, pepper, cumin, to taste. Add the cashews and rice and mix until all cooked and warmed together. SIMPLE and DELICIOUS!

My second dish was rainbow fruit skewers that I found on Pinterest. My mom found the cutest skewers with flowers on the ends and I had help from my little cousins putting these little skewers together. I used blackberries, blueberries, kiwi, pineapple, oranges, and raspberries and they turned out so cute and festive!! They were a big hit!

She deserves the world!

Today is my mom's birthday and we were fortunate enough to be together over the weekend to celebrate. We are all so happy she is here. We are all so lucky to know her. 

My mom talks about being forgetful, but she never forgets other people's birthdays, their favorite bevs, and driving directions. Three very important things I must say!! She makes everyone feel special and takes care of things like no one else can. Hello, she went to the grocery store about 50 times over the weekend. Once, just for toilet paper. And scoured all of Lake Havasu for a giant cooking pot and came back with three!

Memorial day weekend was all about celebrating my cousin Melissa's high school graduation and my Grandpa's 80th birthday, but thankfully we had some time to squeeze in some love for her too. And last night, she got a special treat in Las Vegas with some live music and chocolate cake! She is loved.

My mom is beautiful inside and out. Her laugh is contagious, her cooking is divine, and her generosity is astounding. If you are reading this with a beer or glass of wine, or a cocktail in your hand, raise it up in the air and cheers to her!!! 

I love you, Mom! Thank you for a wonderful weekend!!!!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunshine Days

Our garden is starting to take off! Look at the size of this spinach leaf! It is bigger than my hand. We have some in the garden right now bigger than Steve's hands. Insane! We're back to eating the BEST crisp, fresh salads ever. Our snap beans are almost excited!

I made my first cheesecake for a Bachelorette Premiere Party last week. It turned out great. It was   a Butterfinger Cheesecake. The secret ingredient is half Marscapone cheese half cream cheese instead of all regular cream cheese. Yummy!! The only thing better than the entertainment of the Bachelorette is watching it with good friends and eating CHOCOLATE! :)

I went with my Leadership SLO friends to the annual Tip-A-Cop dinner at Madonna Expo Center a couple of weeks ago. One of our leadership buddies, Keith (aka the Green Lantern), is a local Lieutenant and did a wonderful job serving us our meal!! Fun time with my new friends :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Butterfinger Cheesecake

This was my very first cheesecake and first time using a springform pan. I wanted to make something extra special for my Bachelorette premiere viewing party for a few girlfriends and this was definitely it! The recipe is a bit complicated with many steps and some unusual ingredients, but overall it was pretty easy and I would definitely make it again. The crust was a bit hard to get out of the pan - and I ended up serving the girls a piece without any crust without noticing!! But, the next day I tried some with the crust and what a difference it makes! YUM! 

Recipe from Back to Her Roots

  • 15 mini Butterfingers
  • 3 ounces of pretzels (1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 8 oz cream cheese (I used 4 oz regular cream cheese, 4 oz marscapone cheese)
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup Butterfinger and pretzel mixture
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350. 

In the bowl of a food processor, combine Butterfingers and pretzels. Pulse unti well chopped, but not dust. Remove 1/2 cup of mixture and set aside.

Stir in melted butter to Butterfinger/pretezel mixture until well-combined. Press mixture firmly into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan to form the crust.  Bake 7-8 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

For the filling, mix the water and gelatin in a small, microwave safe bowl and set aside to bloom.

Meanwhile, beat heavy cream on high in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until medium stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In another mixer bowl, combine cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, salt, and reserved Butterfinger/pretzel mix. Beat on medium until smooth. Set aside.

Place bowl of gelatin in microwave and heat 50% power for 10 seconds. This is to smooth out the gelatin mixture. With the mixer on low, slowly stream the gelatin mix to the cream cheese mixture until well combined. 

By hand, fold the whipped cream in with the cream cheese mixture. 

Spread filling evenly into the springform pan.

To prepare ganache, combine chocolate and heavy cream in a double boiler over low heat. Once chocolate is melted and combined with the cream, remove from heat and drizzle over cheesecake. 

Place cheesecake in fridge and let chill for at least 3-4 hours until set up. Before serving, remove ring on springform pan.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Happy Birthday to my oldest friend

"Try to capture what you can't bear to be without." -Rosie Thomas, Iris and Ruby

This picture was taken at the entrance to Disneyland what seems like many moons ago! My grandpa has (had?) a friend who designed Space Mountain and other rides at Disneyland and got us in free! Knowing the man responsible for the awesomeness that is Space Mountain was pretty cool, especially at the age of 12. I wish I was less shy back then, otherwise I would have picked his brain about what all went into making a roller coaster at Disneyland and the science behind it. He may have told me but my pre-teen mind wasn't interested in physics and engineering. I was interested in riding the damn thing.

Today is my Grandpa Roger's 80th birthday!! Born in 1932, he has lived such a rich life so far. Full of love, adventure, heartache, joy, and many, many good days. I called him today after work to wish him a happy birthday. He was out at a bar, hootin' and hollerin' with his best buddies. The perfect way to celebrate 80 years on this earth! Looking forward to seeing him in a few weeks to give him a big birthday hug and tell him how much he means to everyone.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Leisure Town

This is going to be a good month. May's goals are all about having FUN. How can that be bad?

May  - Leisure

  • Throw a dinner party
  • Go somewhere new in SLO County
  • Have a picnic date
  • Go to a music festival or concert (or at least plan to go to one)

I've wanted to throw a dinner party for awhile now. With the new couch, at least my party people will have a nice place to lounge!

Last night, I went to Art After Dark for the first time. I was by myself and didn't partake in any of the special features of the night (margaritas, wine, cheese!) but the whole time I kept thinking how this would be an awesome date or a fun night out with friends! If you don't know what Art After Dark is, it happens on the first Friday of every month from 6-9 downtown SLO. Downtown businesses showcase their art - jewelry, pottery, paintings, wood carvings, furniture, clothes, etc. Most of these businesses also provide cocktails, wine, and snacks for the patrons. If you like window shopping, this is for you!! You can browse stores, talk to local artists about their creations, get some gift ideas, and have a glass of wine while doing it! Sounds good to me! 

Another place I've been wanting to check out in SLO County is Paso Robles. The only time I've been to Paso is for the fair or to a winery. I want to check out their downtown area and some of their supposedly amazing restaurants! 

It is our 2-year anniversary this month! I think a picnic date is a good way to celebrate! 

I really need to get better at staying on top of local music events here in SLO. There are so many places offering live music - with both local and known artists. Loved going to see Peppino last year at Castoro Cellars. If you've never been to one of their outdoor concerts, you're missing out! 

At the end of the month, we're traveling to Lake Havasu for my grandpa's 80th birthday party and Cousin's high school graduation! It will be an extended weekend with the whole family and I am planning on doing a lot of relaxing and eating. 

Well, here's to a month filled with leisure!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Feelin' Light!

April was a great month. I focused hard on doing the things that make me truly happy and not a single day went by where I didn't feel lucky to have this life that I created for myself. 

April - Lighten Up
  • Be a treasure house of happy memories - gather pictures and mementos and put them into one organized place
  • Take time for hobbies
  • Listen to music in the morning
  • Be patient!
  • Be easily impressed, entertained, and interested
  • Resist planning

I really enjoyed digging through photo boxes and digital archives to find old photos to post and share with you all. It's so cool to learn about my past, my family, and how I got to be who I am today. I found so many cool photos and learned a lot more than I thought I would, so I am going to continue on sharing photos until I run out of good ones! :) 

I actually made my first sandwich wrap on the sewing machine and it didn't turn out too bad! Pictures to come!

I listened to music in the morning, day, and night and learned how to rock out to heavy metal with our friend Josh while he stayed with us last weekend. Let's just say my neck and shoulders were super sore the next day!! 

I am so pleased with my level of patience. Our bathroom is still gutted and the new bathtub is still in the living room. But,  I don't care one single bit! Steve has been working hard on installing the new shower valve, and turns out we got a defective valve, so now he has to start over. This lack of progress is not bothering me at all. 

I love my goal to be easily impressed, entertained, and interested. I think it's a good thing to think about in conversation and I will admit I sorta forgot about this one. To all of you who I talked to over the past month, I hope you felt I was interested in what you have to say! If not, I am working on it!!!

By 'resist planning' I really meant resist trying to plan out every day, every free moment, every weekend. Instead, soak in the free time, the quiet moments, and be spontaneous! I am still working on this one too, but I think I did a good job of going with the flow and taking a minute to relax after such a busy few months!

It's already May, so stay tuned for my May goals!
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