Top 13 of 2013

Can you believe this year is about to end?  This has been the most busy, crazy, changing, adventure filled, goal completing, traveled year yet.  As we said on our Christmas card, this year we:

Remodeled, Graduated, Sold, Packed, Moved, 
Went to Idaho, Went to Montana, Went to Wyoming, 
Went to Oregon, Went to Washington, Packed Again, 
Moved Again, Got Hired.....we are still unpacking.
We look forward to any adventures that 2014 will bring!

It's a miracle that in all this chaos I was able to do a few blog posts.  With that I bring you the top 13 of 2013!

Everyone loves a giveaway.  It was a pleasure working with Minted on this one.

I'm happy this one made the list because I love sharing.  Plus it featured a recipe from a local blogger - A Girl and her Fork.

This one makes me giggle a bit, but I guess everyone is in for a simple, tasty and cute recipe.

This is my personal favorite post of the year.  I still cannot explain how proud I am of my mom.  I'm more proud of her in this moment than in any other race.  I hope she comes back next year. (She is on the mend!)

A post from early on in the year before all the crazy moving madness started.  This is also one of my first posts using my big girl camera.  Oh what a difference (thanks honey).

I'm glad everyone liked this crafty post because I have some more crafty things coming for 2014!

Apparently when I really open my mouth sometimes people like to listen!  I'm surprised this one is on the list, but lots of people had opinions about old Lance.  I stick by mine.

We still love this granola and it still disappears quickly upon being made.  This is a great recipe if I don't say so myself.

5.  Crystal Cove {Newport Beach, CA}
This one was also a surprise to me.  I'm glad you liked it because we sure did.  Such a beautiful and quaint place.

4.  Strawberries, Margaritas and Mom's
Wow, my mom is doing good this year!  Two posts and both well read.  Can't say I'm surprised. This was a fun day and that strawberry margarita tart was tasty!

3.  Kitchen Re-Model Phase 2 - Bye Bye Betty Draper!
Well, all of our hard work paid off in more ways than one.  We challenged ourselves, completed the goal and you liked it too, thanks!

2.  Chicken Pot Pie ♥ The Heart Healthy Way ♥
Oh my yummy.  I need to make this again STAT.

1.  Dinner Makeover {Cheeseburger, Fries + Shake}
Ahh, my first whole meal post.  I am most thrilled with that banana shake.  So delicious!

Happy New Year friends!  Best wishes to you and yours!

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Dinner Last Week #2

Oh my gosh friends.  Getting sick right before Christmas is no bueno.  I had a great quick and easy Christmas dessert to share but it will have to wait until next year!!  Anyway, I bring you another edition of Dinner Last Week.....except that it is really from the week before last.  Last week consisted of lots of soup, then Christmas food and chocolate, this is more interesting, trust.

MONDAY - Him: Pasta Her: Salad

Nicholas wanted pasta and I wanted salad so we made both.  Here is how it went down:

1 1/2 cups penne noodles, boiled and drained
1/8 cup red onion, sliced
2 mini bell peppers, sliced
1/8 cup frozen peas
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. truffle infused olive oil (I found this at Trader Joe's)

Boil pasta.
Saute onion and pepper in olive oil until tender.  Set aside.
Once pasta is done, drain and add to pan with onions and peppers.
Add the frozen peas.
On medium-high heat toss the pasta and veggies in truffle oil until peas are done.
Serve with grated Parmesan.

1 cup fresh spinach, washed and torn
1 cup fresh arugula, washed and torn
1/8 cup chopped cauliflower
1/8 cup frozen corn
1/8 cup frozen peas
1/8 cup red onion, sliced
2 mini bell peppers, sliced

Wash and tear lettuce into serving bowl.
Add cauliflower, corn and peas to a microwave safe dish.  Cover the bottom in water.  Place the lid over the top but don't close it (if Tupperware) microwave until veggies are thoroughly steamed and drain water.
Saute onion and pepper in olive oil until tender.  Set aside. (I actually did all of the onion and pepper together, for the pasta & the salad, then split it up.
Serve all warm veggies over lettuce - IMO warm veggies are best on a spinach/arugula salad.
For the dressing I mixed some of the truffle oil with white wine vinegar, salt & pepper.

We ate this with bread of course.


We both woke up at 3 a.m. feeling crappy, blerg.  By 7 a.m. I knew I was going to make spicy soup for dinner.
Enter Pho.

Via Gimme Some Oven

I pinned this recipe awhile ago.  A lot of the pho recipes I was seeing seemed difficult, but this was one I could handle.  I stopped at the store on the way home and bought cilantro, limes, ginger, jalapeno and bean sprouts. Everything else I had.

I also cut the recipe in half.  Instead of using raw steak, I cut up some left-over tri-tip and threw it in the soup bowl right before we serve it.  I also used some skinny egg noodles instead of pho rice noodles.  I threw my noodles in the broth for a few minutes before serving.

End result, this was ready within an hour and was really good.  We felt better the next day!  Except that I had left-overs for lunch and left them on my counter.  FAIL.

WEDNESDAY - 36 Handles

We ran out to do some last minute Christmas shopping and stopped for a beer and grub at 36 Handles.  The bartender Gabe knows his business.  Go say hi.

THURSDAY - Crock Pot Chicken Tacos

Crock-pot chicken tacos!  I would love to share the whole thing but it's so dang easy and good I'm going to feature it soon.  Taco Thursday is a staple in our house.

FRIDAY - Akebono

Another night out!  This is really not normal, but its the holiday season and busy gets ahead of cooking.  We had Winter Spiral at Levi's school.

We made a mad dash to pick up The Munchkin and we all ate sushi at Akebono.  We had been here before for noodles but let me just say their sushi is legit.  It was very good and fresh.  It makes me happy that Levi likes sushi!

That is all.  Now that Christmas is over and we are well, cooking has started back up in our house again.  The next Dinner this week should contain more recipes!  P.S.  Last night we had The Pioneer Woman's Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon dressing, it was tasty!

Happy Almost New Year!

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Dinner Last Week #1

Hi Friends!

So, I thought I would try to start sharing with you some of our dinners throughout the week.  I usually cook every night but I obviously don't post everything.  I am a working lady with a real job after all.  Lot's of things I make are other recipes or variations thereof and are (most of the time) accessible and easy enough to make after getting home around 6:00.

So let's check out last week....

MONDAY - Grilled Salmon & Butter Lettuce salad with Toasted Baguette


Nicholas and I are picky about our salmon.  We don't eat farm raised.  Did you know artificial coloring is put in the food of farm raised salmon to make them pink?  Eww.  We are currently using a frozen wild-caught salmon that I found at Costco (I think it is this one), it's pricey but worth it.

The butter lettuce salad was inspired by this Sunset Magazine recipe (in the picture above). Technically this is a Spring salad, but whatever.  I had butter lettuce in my fridge that I needed to use and I had made this salad once before so I knew it was good.  Here is what we did:

1 head of butter lettuce, cleaned and torn
1/4 cup of fresh dill, minced
1 tablespoon of fresh chives, chopped
1 heirloom tomato, sliced thin
1/2 bunch of baby asparagus, steamed and chopped into 3 sections
2 hard boiled eggs, quartered
salt and pepper to taste
2 cooked salmon fillets
Dressing made as called for in recipe, but doubled

I assembled the salad and Nicholas cooked the salmon.  For the salmon, he brushes on olive oil, adds salt and pepper and sears it in a cast iron pan on the stove.  He then puts the whole pan into the oven (350 degrees?) and cooks it just for a few minutes.  Salmon doesn't take long.  We placed the salmon fillets on top of our salad and dressed it.  You won't need all the dressing, but I think you should double the recipe version.  We had 1/2 of a baguette in the freezer, so I put that in the toaster oven at 200 and let it warm the whole time we were assembling/cooking.  I did stop and buy the asparagus and fresh dill on my way home.  (Soon I'll be sharing a trick to keep your fresh herbs fresh for way longer!).  I also use Trader Joe's Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar instead of just plain champagne vinegar.

That's it!

TUESDAY - Dad's Kitchen, Fair Oaks

If you live in Sac you are probably familiar with Dad's.  There is the sandwich shop and the kitchen, both great spots.  They have also been featured on Diner's Drive-In's and Dive's.  The recently opened a new location in Fair Oaks, closer to our new hood, so we stopped in with the parentals to try it.  It was good as usual.  I had the Hot Blonde (organic chicken, avocado, swiss cheese, tomato, roasted red onion, spinach and cucumber with garlic spread, brown mustard & pepper plant sauce on sourdough bread).  The husband had the Warm Spinach salad, Step-Diggidy Dad had the Cowboy Burger and Mom had the Portabella Mushroom Sandwich.  I recommend accompanying your dish with the delicious onion rings!  I am also told this location will eventually become more of a tap house with mucho beers on tap just like the Freeport location.  Yay Dad's & crew!

WEDNESDAY - Veggie Fritatta and Sweet Potato Latkes


Fritatta is a great thing to make if you have an almost empty fridge, are in a hurry, want a vegetarian meal, are feeling lazy, or anything else!  You can whip it up quick and put about anything in it.  I also had some sweet potatoes that I needed to use up, so I followed this recipe for the Latkes.  Here is what I did for the Frittata:

6 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 bunch of asparagus, cut into 3 sections
1/2 large yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 mini red bell pepper, chopped
1/8 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 jalapeno, diced
1 tablespoon of diced green chilies
1 teaspoon fresh dill, minced
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, minced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped spinach
salt and pepper (a few grinds each)

Put the eggs and milk in a large bowl and whisk.  Add everything else and stir up.  Pour into a greased 8x8 glass baking dish.  Bake at 350-375 until cooked through (at least 20 minutes, probably more).  I literally had all this stuff in my fridge, so I just kept adding stuff willy-nilly.  It was really good and the latke's were great. We had enough leftovers for each of us to take for breakfast this morning.

THURSDAY - Soba Noodles and Chicken with Eggplant


Well I planned this recipe that I found a long time ago.  But, we were tired and ended up eating frozen ravioli and jarred pesto.

FRIDAY - Gary Danko!

Lucky me I got to go to San Francisco all day Friday for my company Christmas Party.  We had a fabulous 7 course lunch with wine pairings at Gary Danko.  You can see our meal from 2011 here.  It was enough to keep my tummy very happy all day.  I hope to share pictures and details with you soon!

So that is it!  Let me know what you think of the Dinner Last Week idea.


P.S. PopSugar is doing a very cute quiz to help you find your style - since you're doing all that Christmas shopping you should buy something for YOU!  You can take the quiz here.

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Whiskey Ginger Pom and a trip to Willie's Distillery {Ennis, MT}

What are your thoughts on whiskey?

Over the Summer, a friend of ours schooled us on whiskey and bourbon. He travels to Scotland often for work and his knowledge is legit.  (Thanks Matt B.!)  I don't often drink hard alcohol, and if I do it is usually in the form of a margarita.  I've never been a fan of whiskey.  My theory being, why have Jack and Coke when I can have Captain and Coke?  As a food blogger, I often see whiskey and bourbon popping up in all kinds of recipes.  After getting educated, I was intrigued.  

Later in the Summer on our annual trip to Montana, we were excited to find out a nearby town had a distillery (Willie's Distillery in Ennis).  The Ennis Art Festival was happening, so we headed over to check it out and also stopped in to Willie's.  

Of course we partook in a whiskey tasting (does anyone go to a distillery and not do this?).   After some great explanations from our server and consulting over the flavors, we left with a nice bottle for home. 

Don't they make wonderful models?  Thanks Mom & Nicholas.

The first drink we made at the suggestion of the distillery was a whiskey and ginger beer. 

It was tasty, and the ginger flavor was a nice compliment to the strong whiskey taste. It was also the inspiration for this drink, the whiskey-ginger-pom.

I wanted to use a seasonal fruit and thought pomegranate would be perfect. The tartness and beautiful color makes this more of a ladies' whiskey drink, but Nicholas loved it too.  This is a great drink for the holiday season.

Thanks to Willie's for a fun day and thank you for joining me for a whiskey.

For the recipe, click over to PopSugar or my Recipe page!

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And the Minted winner is........

........Nici R.!

Congratulations Nici!  Check your e-mail for the code.

A big thank you to everyone who entered!

I wonder what good stuff from Minted Nici will grab?!

Congratulations and have a great day.

Don't forget to stop in tomorrow for some whiskey sippage!


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Cool Thing Friday - Arthur Henry's Supper Club + Ruby Room

Hey Friends!

For today's Cool Thing Friday I'm sharing a cool new spot in Sac-town - Arthur Henry's Supper Club + Ruby Room.

Nicholas got us invited to the soft opening on Wednesday night (woot!).  For those in Sac you may recognize the location as the old Primo's Swiss Club on Broadway.  The building has been beautifully renovated, still keeping the lounge-y charm on the inside.

We were surprised when we were greeted by a big grill in the dining room.  Arthur Henry's is doing something I've never seen in that you cook your own steak!

It goes like this:
Get your table
Order a nice cocktail
Order your food (selection of different steaks, steak/scallop combo, veggie skewers or a portabello cap)
Sip the nice cocktail
Receive said food
Unwrap, season and grill food
Mingle with new friends at the grill while your food cooks
Return to table with tasty food

Thoughts.  We weren't expecting this experience but it was fun.  It would be good for a group, the cocktails are quality and I love that this section of Broadway is seeing some love.  The food was basic but good.  We did not pay (soft opening) but were provided a bill so we could see what the prices would have been.  This is where Arthur Henry's is getting it right.  In a typical sit-down restaurant a full steak dinner and 2 drinks would probably run close to $50.  We were at about $25 per person.  At any rate, this place is worth checking out for sure.

Other thoughts.  I wish we would have been given more history of the building and explanation of the concept, it would have been interesting to hear.

{Most of these photos (except that last one) are all from my old skool iPhone #noupdate, so they are a bit lackluster, my apologies.  I wasn't tryin' to carry my big girl camera all up in a new joint.}

Hey!  Don't forget to enter the GIVEAWAY for a $50 credit at Minted!

Happy Friday!

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Minted. + a GIVEAWAY!

Hey Friends!

Well Thanksgiving is officially over and Christmas is right around the corner.  I'm not sure how the holiday's manage to sneak up on me every year, but they always do.

If you are like me you've only just ordered your holiday cards.  This year we got ours from a great company out of San Francisco called Minted.

"Minted crowd-sources design and art from a global community of independent designers, then sell their best designs as fine products such as stationery, wall art, and d├ęcor for the home, holidays, and occasions. Minted was an early pioneer of crowdsourcing product design and has held open art and graphic design challenges monthly since 2008."  This idea of using designers from all over the world with the help of the internet makes for truly creative and unique cards and products.

This year minted is also offering foil stamped cards.

The dog in this photo reminds me of Otis, so happy!)

The fabulous cards from minted are only just the beginning though.
There are party decor "kits".....


...and my favorite - personalized wrapping paper!

Seriously.  This recipe one?!  I die.

This is only a tiny sampling of all the good stuff Minted has.  I would encourage you to click over to their site and explore around.

The Minted website is user friendly.  I know because I've created like a million sample cards for my picky husband (yes Nicholas, 1 million is an exaggeration).  The other great thing I discovered is you can personalize your cards with a mobile device (I used the iPad).  I wish more sites would allow this (ahem, Picmonkey!).  So yay to Minted for that feature.

Now let's get to the good part.  I'm convinced you already love Minted, how could you not right?
I'm happy to share that Minted has generously offered a giveaway for a $50 credit to one reader to use at their site.  Yipee!

Just enter the Rafflecopter below, winner will be announced next week!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Mandarin, Pomegranate, Ginger and Honey

Hello there friends, long time no post.  Let's start today with a debate.
Canned or fresh?
That's right.  Canned or fresh cranberry sauce on your Thanksgiving table?


Honestly, is this really even worth debating?

I know there are sticklers out there who love their canned sauce.
And, admittedly, I have taken a slice of the can shaped cranberry blob in Thanksgiving past.
Yes.  Yes I have.

In my opinion cranberry sauce is an essential part of the Thanksgiving table.
It is the tart-sweet counterpart to the savory deliciousness of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy.
It is the key ingredient to the day after Thanksgiving leftover sandwich.

So yes, I have partaken in the canned shape blob.  But that was before.
Before I knew how easy it was to make your own.

It happened many a Thanksgiving ago in Hermosa Beach, in a house that had a stripper pole in the basement (just for fun.  Don't ask.) and a ladder to the attic with a very cool guest room for us girls. We decided to have a "friend Thanksgiving" the weekend before real Thanksgiving.

Lo and I brined a turkey in a cooler, the oven broke and said turkey was cooked down the street at a friend's. There were cocktails and a DJ.  It was a potluck.  And I made cranberry sauce even though I had no idea what the heck I was doing.  It was hands down the best tasting Thanksgiving meal I've ever had.  I still remember the carrots in brown sugar and butter.

The original Hermosa Beach Cranberry Sauce recipe has evolved, along with my cooking skills, into this recipe. The best part is, it's easy!  Even better - you can make it a few days in advance of Thanksgiving.  If there are leftovers (if!), it is great spread over toast with goat cheese.

So, can shaped cranberry blob or the real deal?
That's not even a question.

P.S. Mandarin's are in season!  My mom picked mine up at the Mandarin Festival.

2 12oz. bags fresh cranberries
4 mandarin oranges, peeled and sectioned
1 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup honey (I use raw)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

How to:
Add cranberries, mandarins, water and pomegranate juice to a large saucepan or pot.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium high heat.
Simmer until cranberries begin to pop open.
Add sugars, ginger, honey and cinnamon, stir frequently and continue cooking until well blended.
Remove from heat and let cool.
Transfer to a sealed container and keep overnight in fridge before serving.
(The sauce will seem thin at first, don't worry, it will thicken in the fridge overnight.)
You can prepare the cranberry sauce 2-3 days in advance.

Happy Turkey Day everyone!


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