Monday, February 25, 2013
I have spent YEARS avoiding Chorizo for many reasons. And all these years have been utterly wasted!! Chorizo is amazing! Seriously, what was my problem? It might have been that I figured it was too spicy for me. I’m a woos. Or it may have been me avoiding things that used to remind me of an ex who while he was two states away going through fire fighter training, the blond bombshell next door used to bring him chorizo breakfast burritos… nothing like a long distance relationship complicated by a blonde hottie and a man’s stomach. Or something. So there I was, avoiding all things chorizo as some sort of half hearted, retaliation for some chick snaking my boyfriend and I was taking it out on breakfast sausage. Girl logic 101. Now here I am devouring all the Chorizo Breakfast hash I can in an effort to make up for years of chorizolessness.
This dish has it all going on – from the three colored baby potatoes lightly fried until they are tender with a sunny side up egg that just oozes into all the right places. It’s like a yolky gold mine, people. And you obviously need a slice or two of sourdough toast to mop it all up with.
Because, well – duh.
So please – do yourself a favor and, don’t take misplace angst and anger on chorizo. Years of chorizolessness is time wasted. And I highly suggest you start your chorizo-session with this. Cause, Wow.
Friday, February 22, 2013
I’m convinced that anyone who orders a Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks is doing it just so they can say the words Macchiato. And really I just made Caramel Macchiato cookies so I could say “Macchiato”, too. It’s so fun to say! The thought of golden caramel sauce swirling around and infusing my latte with its sweet and toffee nectar or having it drip seductively all over a cookie is one of the great many pleasures in life. Mmmm, cookie.
Happy Friday, here’s a cookie!
This Friday, we have ALL earned our cookie.
Yesterday was my fourth day in a row at the gym this week, and I had my personal training session. We went over my initial session from 7 weeks ago, taking my measurements again, weighing me and doing that whole schpeel to see how much process I’ve made.
Progress: Yes, that. - I have yet to drop a pound despite gymming it 4-5 days a week and using MyFitness Pal (I Know!), and I swapped 10 pounds of fat for 10 pounds of muscle. Sure I could be happy about that, but I was mad. Abhorrently mad.
And then I wanted a cookie. I will be leading today’s class in Failed Logic 101.
But Daaayyummmm girl – shoving one of these cookies in my face was the only thing I wanted to do. It would have been wooorrrtth ittt!!
Because let’s just face it – cookies dripping with copious amounts of caramel is the only way to get through horrible days, and stressful weeks like this one was. Am I right? Can I get a hallelujah!
And with a name like Macchiato – just saying the name of these cookies makes the day a slightly better place. But eating them – makes it divine.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
I love Thai food, it’s fresh, it’s colorful and it always hits the spot! Curries are one of my favorites – and this Spicy Vegetable Coconut Curry is chock full of fresh veg and vibrant colors that just make it absolutely mouthwatering. And having a equally vibrant dish to serve it in just takes the whole thing over the top, don’t you think? This Le Creuset Quince Braiser is a star, and the buttery yellow color just gets me so excited for spring!
The Quince color is the newest Le Creuset color exclusive to Williams Sonoma! And I have to say now, get your mitts on this beauty! Or help a sista’ out and I will be able to give YOU a Whole Set of Quince cookware! Keep reading the details are killer!
There is a friendly little Pinterest contest starting today where you can vote for your favorite blogger’s photos featuring this gorgeous Quince Cookware! The blogger with the most “Likes” on their photo at the end of the contest will win a prize, BUT the best part is that the winning blogger will get to give one of their lucky readers a WHOLE three piece set of this Quince Cookware including:
That’s a retail value of $585, people! You wanna win it, I’m telling you this right now!
How do you enter? Well, jump on ove to the
Williams Sonoma Pinterest Page
and LIKE MY PHOTO HERE! Feel free to repin it if you want, but “liking” the photo is what really counts towards the goal.
So if you want to win a set of LeCreuset cookware from me – go vote!! There are some fantastic photos to be had and delicious dishes to feast your eyes on.
I’ve dined out on Thai food so much – and always thought it would be so hard to make at home. Nope, nuh uh, not at all. This most taxing part of this whole endeavor was the chopping of all the vegetables.
Seriously? Why did I waste all these years curriless in my own home?! It’s a tragedy.
Chop your veggies, saute them to wilt them a bit, pour a bunch of chicken stock over the top and simmer for a half hour and it’s DONE!
Curry is now a weeknight meal.
The flavors are fresh, the colors are a feast in themselves and I think there is a new obsession beginning in my life.
And I have a feeling, it’ll be a new obsession in yours.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Now that the 3rd season of Downton is officially over, I have thrown myself into every task imaginable to help pass the time and not dwell on the season finale and through the next year until the 4th season starts to air. I’ve started reading again – and my inadvertent first choice of novel was a love story set in Edwardian England just before the start of WWI, and the torturous love of an aristocrat’s daughter and the house manager’s son, ala Sybil and Tom Branson. Not exactly, but pretty spot on.
To me who was sprawled out on the bed reading for hours after I can home from work – Ben’s loving reaction was summed up with “WHY are you reading that? Why do you like tortured love stores?” And all my emotionally overwrought senses could put together was, “Everyone deserves a great love in their life!! You big jerk!”. Well, the second part of that was in my head, I think. He suggested I read something a little more worthwhile, like a book on grizzly bear attacks in Glacier National Park. Oh yeah, cause that is so much more entertaining then star crossed lovers set any day? He said at least I could learn something. We run into a lot of grizzly bears in Seattle, it’s best to be prepared…This statement is just dripping with sarcasm, can’t you tell?
But you know what else you should always have prepared? Having a pantry stocked with infused olive oils anytime you’re in the kitchen. Infused olive oil are so simple to make and they make a really easy gift during the holidays. The flavor combinations are endless, from garlic, to spicy peppers, to citrus and rosemary. It’s a cinch, I kid you not.
Start with 2 cups of good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil and your choice of spices, herbs or zests – about 2-3 sprigs of your favorite herb and at least 2 tablespoons of your favorite zest if you’re doing a citrus infusion. With a mortar and pestle crush the herbs, to release the oils and momentarily set them aside.
Pour your olive oil into a heavy bottom sauce pan and turn the stove to medium heat. Add in your herbs, spices or what have you and allow the herbs to gently simmer for just 2 minutes. It doesn’t take much. Cover the saucepan with a lid and allow it all to steep for about 2 hours.
Once you’re ready to bottle it, use a fine mesh strainer to remove the herbs and pour into a cleaned glass or vial. Cap and store in the fridge and use within two weeks.
Easy peasy, right? Think of all the flavor possibilities! You can do this.
Monday, February 18, 2013
Gray hairs have started to appear around the Cleaver household and I am not okay with it. Not okay with it one bit. I’m not going gray here, it’s Huck. I’m not entirely sure if it’s ethical to start dying your dog to wash away the gray like a mid life crises riddled old man just to keep the puppy like appearances up for his mama’s emotional sanity. What? I’m fragile. Thank goodness I’m not dying to make him look like a fish or something. Since Huck’s 5th Bark-Day was a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to do something fun and special for him to celebrate. Yes, I am THAT dog mom. A Bark-Day with Peanut Butter Pup-Cakes and a BarkBox for him to unwrap with new treats and toys was the best way to celebrate.
Each bite was “fur”-ociously devoured and each new toy from his BarkBox was carried around and shown off to Ben and me. With simple ingredients around the house you can whip up some healthy cakes for your pup that won’t add to his waistline, thus his bad hips.
BarkBox, for those who haven’t heard of it before, is the fur-friendly equivalent of Birchbox, a monthly subscription to new dog treats, toys and things dog related.
BarkBox is heavily committed to quality pet treats and toys all made in the United States or Canada – where quality control is top priority. There are no needs to fear added ingredients that you can’t pronounce, and things that wouldn’t touch your lips to touch your pet’s either. Eco-friendly, organic, and perfectly balanced, these boxes provide hours of play and lots of goodies for your favorite fur-baby.
In addition to the stand up products included in each BarkBox, the company strives to help not only your pet lives the happiest life possible, but that of dogs looking for their forever home. 10% of all proceeds from each BarkBox subscription go to local pet shelters and make sure all four legged friends can find their way home. Who doesn’t love a happy ending, especially one with wet noses and wagging tails?
Saturday, February 16, 2013
1) For the first time in my life, dinner last night consisted of dessert. Well, I should take that back. The first time in my responsible, boring, adult and in bed by nine every night adult life consisted of froyo. And it was a miraculous thing. I really think that that one girl from Remember Me with RPatz and Chris Cooper (oh, you didn’t see it? Yeah, not many people did. I’m just weird), had the right idea when she always ate dessert first. Life is too short. Or I’ll just find anyway I can to justify eating something sweet over something it is good for me. So responsible.
1b) And it had M&Ms on it. Cause you needed to know that.
2) There were a lot of dips consumed over SuperBowl weekend. And then, I had to consume more dips yesterday to prep for March Madness. Three dips, three wildly varying schmears to be slathered over bread and devoured unabashedly. Hence, number 1.
3) The best new photo prop or supply I bought was last weekend. It was $5 and way better than the bead board I originally went in for.
FYI Home Depot (or at least mine) won’t cut you a custom piece of beadboard out of a 4×8 foot sheet. What was I going to do with a 4×8 sheet of bead board in a one bedroom apartment and no visible wallspace to tack it up? Well, using a 2×2 section for food photos is what my intended purpose was…but no, that was squashed like a slug beneath my shoe. I take that bad. I hate slugs – it’s the no-legs thing, I’d be on the horizon by now instead.
I picked up a totes gorgeous but not so light 16×16 inch porcelain tile section for a whopping $5. That’s practically the price of a Triple Grande Soy Cinnamon Dulce Latte. You can see it in the second dip photo down below. Perfection.
4) Speaking of all those dips, I made this Roasted Tomato Brie dip about 9 months ago. Devoured it all myself, thank you. Well, I made it again and took some new photos. It’s like a before and after reality show makeover here, just less bags under your eyes and no mom jeans. But it still stands that this dips is the stuff cheese angels are made of. Like, WOAH!
Woah, right? Here’s the skinny and a bit on an honesty bomb thrown in.
We bloggers can get really bogged down with all the greatness, funness, newness, and neatoness that is photo equipment, cameras and editing software. Trust me – I’m NO different. The lusting I do over the camera section at Costco over the Canon 60D usually involves two pallet movers and an elephant. But here I made one big change – a new lens.
I’ve been using the exact same camera since before I started blogging, a Canon Rebel xSi and switched it up from the stock 18-55mm lens to this 60mm in this photo. Between the 50mm and the 60mm, I can’t decide which lens I like more. There are so many options, expensive ones too – but I have reluctantly realized (thank you BEN!), it’s not the camera that takes crappy photos, it’s us, the users. More often than not we aren’t using the camera right to take great photos! It’s all about the tools. Take the time to learn your camera and you will find your groove and your photography will change before your eyes. Don’t be discouraged. Be encouraged and be empowered. Ready? BREAK!
5) We still haven’t ordered our wedding photos – six months later – but I decided to change out some of the photos I’ve had around the house so we had a little more Palouse in our lives to look at. It helps fill the void.
6) And if you didn’t see this yet – I have to ask – how is that rock you’re living under? Because dessert for dinner and now looking at this for breakfast really just shows you how far I’ve fallen. Send help. And Girl Scout cookies. With some salted caramel sauce.
7) Is anyone else completely smitten with all the mint things this season? My singular focus in all things fashion is now honed in on mint. Went to Target and the three items purchased were all varying shades of mint. The nail polish alone is the best $2 ever spent.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
It’s almost that time of year again – Girl Scout Cookies are almost here! I maintain that they are probably the next best indicator of the incoming spring - other than Punxatawny Phil being torn from his little den of slumber to tell us if there will be 6 more weeks of winter or not. And to a blessed relief we will actually have an early spring this year! Now if Girl Scout Cookies could come out to a store near us, like now, that would be uber spectacular! But instead of chowing down on them in the traditional way, this year I went a little over board with a Samoas Brownie Parfait with Salted Caramel sauce and Coconut Whipped Cream.
I know. I’m a horrible person. Right? Let’s just collectively pick ourselves up off the floor and shake this one off. Let me tell you, there were no words.
I grew in the Girl Scouts, looking forward every year to camping trips, arts and crafts, horse camp (E.v.e.r.y. YEAR), and of course – Cookie Season. At the time being a Girl Scout was great fun, but it was also a chance to grow and be apart of a group that revolved around being a kid, developing a curious mind and learning to be proud of who I was and would turn out to be. It never really sank in until I became and adult and realized what an impact those times really had on my life. They weren’t just memories made of being a kid, they were experiences that made me more outgoing, more understanding, well rounded and best of all adventurous in all the things I do – teaching me there was nothing I couldn’t accomplish with gumption and tenacity.
This year the Girl Scouts of Western Washington have teamed up with local Seattle bloggers, like myself, for a recipe contest where we get to flex out muscles and really reach for the stars in creating fun and different recipes with our favorite cookies. Voting will be taking place from February 19th to March 1st here on the Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie webpage. Stop by for a visit and vote on your favorite - even mine if you’re so inclined - there are bound to be some amazing creations!
My favorite from the dawn of time has always been (and will always be) Samoas. Between the shortbread cookie, toasted coconut, sticky caramel and the drizzled chocolate - is it any wonder this is the. perfect. cookie?! I thought so!
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
What’s the going rate for a pint of Ben and Jerry’s here in the States? $4? Take a guess how much it is Down Under in Australia? I can give you a clue… It’s more than $10 and less than $15 – for a pint- and they don’t carry Cherry Garcia. Uhhh, excuse me? Isn’t Cherry Garcia the International Standard Bearer of Gourmetish Ice Cream? With my Dad down in Australia for the next few months, I figured he needed a hit of the good stuff and decided to whip up a not-quite-as-melty-batch of Cherry Garcia Chocolate Bark as a surprise.
Except for the surprise is now blown (HI DAD!), but the sentiment still remains. It’s all the fun of Cherry Garcia with out the frosty presentation. And it’s super simple to make on your own and totally shippable half way around the world.
Growing up, and still to this day, my dad’s favorite ice cream is Cherry Garcia. For the longest time, and still to this day, I go for the wild and crazy flavors – Dublin Mudslide, Bovinity Divinity, Americone Dream, anything novel. I never understood the same old-same old, but with him gone – the thought of going spoon deep into a pint of Cherry Garcia along side my dad whilst watching reruns of M*A*S*H seems kinda of comforting and homey in a frosted cream, fruit and chocolate sort of way.
And FYI – A pint of Ben and Jerry’s in Australia goes for around $12 a pint.
*The more you know!*
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Poached eggs are the best type of egg. Ever. This is a statement of fact and thus, not debatable. I should tweet it to Uber Facts and see if they accept it and help me spread it around the Twittersphere, getting hundreds of retweets from people who are smart and believe the same thing I do. And if you do not yet know if poached eggs are for you. Well, is breathing for you? In that case, poached eggs are totally for you. And learning how to poach an egg is absolutely for you!
I’m here to spread the word of these buttery eggs, these eggs on high with their delicate whites and yolks made of butter. The only thing that might rival my obsession with poached eggs is my new fangled obsession with everything mint. Robin’s egg blue? Puhh-leeze, move on over – everything is coming up mint here people. After a shopping trip to Target with a friend I ended up dumping everything in my basket out at the register and realized – it was all pastel green. The tank top, the nail polish and the new t-shirt. When I get a full blown blog redesign done and it’s all mint – you can commit me. I can’t be stopped.
And if that is any indication of the rivalry that mint and poached eggs have on me, I’m half surprised on not in the fetal position on the floor cuddled up with Huck trying to get away from me. Come back HUCKkkkkk!!!
After a classic case of the Monday’s yesterday, I had to do this how-to before the light went down and after the first fork full of poached egg went into my face – the whole afternoon turned around.
It probably also had something to do with the remaining opened bottle of bubbly from the weekend that HAD to be consumed before it went flat. Champagne and poached eggs? It’s totally a thing.
Learning how to poach an egg is much easier than you think and with a couple of simple tricks you do it with one spatula tied in your apron strings.
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Valentine’s Day is here. How did this happen? Is it just me or have we just finished Christmas and New Year? I can’t decide if those holidays were yesterday or a really long time ago. But now here we are on the most romantic day of the year and Ben’s and my first Valentine’s Day as married. Awwww, barf. You thought I was all done sentimentalizing my newlywed status didn’t you? Sorry, we’re almost done with the mushy first year married mile-stones. I promise! Just bear with me through a couple more.
Ben and I just started discussing Valentine’s Day plans, but with him in nursing school full time and clinicals on Valentine’s Day proper we’re pushing back the festivities to the weekend, which I suspect most of the population is doing as well. Bravo Valentine’s Day, you are oh so convenient.
The celebration will consist of a dinner out somewhere, presumably somewhere we have a gift card too – since Ben’s parents give us giftcards to restaurants so we can go on date nights and step away from the books and computer long enough to interact (imagine that!) and if I’m really lucky Ben might even (GASP!) buy me carnations. Ever the romantic, Ben hates buying flowers because they’re So expensive and they - die. It’s, in his eyes, paying money to watch something die. See, romantic. Carnations on the other hand, he will get me because no matter what it takes a month to kill them. So he’s getting his monies worth out of them and I get flowers, even filler flowers, and stop nagging him about doing something romantic for me. He says “nagging”, I say “encouraging”. Potato, pototo.
But even if flowers aren’t his way of showing me he loves me, I can live with that – because he builds me stuff. My wedding gift was a 6 shelf gorgeously dark brown stained bookcase he build with his own two man hands. He’s already been commissioned to build me the rest of the furniture for our future house.
Regardless of our differing views of the holiday, romantic or forced-consumer-driven-holiday-contrived-by-card-manufactuers, I am looking forward to another day that I can show my husband that I love him dearly, despite his annoying habit of placing dirty dishes in my just cleaned sink, and be thankful that he puts up with my equally annoying habit of throwing a pile of clothes at the end of the bed that Huck lays on and gets all hairy. Or having five stacks of cook books strategically placed around the house. Or Downton Abbey replaying on an endless loop in the house.
Bless that man and his unending patience. I am beyond thankful for his patience, his drysense of humor that still catches me off guard, getting me hooked on the Office despite my STRONGEST objections to its awkwardness as we were dating, and him having hugs that can make the worst of days suddenly turn around and for putting up with Huck no matter how ridiculous the mutt is. One Valentine’s Day down and 60 more to go. I love you hunny. Really, really.
Now – for the reason you’re all here – mushy crap aside – THE CAKE!! It’s UBER Romantic. It’s got fresh strawberries and champagne in it, which just screams Awwwww!!! The cake is dense but tender, with champagne that cuts the sweet and a swiss meringue frosting that is chock FULL of butter – but is uber light and fluffy, positively MELTS in your mouth. I would love to say the the fresh strawberries make it healthy, but that would be an outlandish lie.
I guess that just means you have to make it for yourself this Valentine’s Day and find out! No, do it now – Because, I’m not kidding – this is Roll Your Eyes into the Back of your SKULL insanely amazeballs.
I would highly suggest you share this with EVERYONE you know, and spread the love and butter (SO MUCH BUTTER) this Valentine’s Day. They will love you right back.