Saturday, December 3, 2011

Roasted Yams, Beets, & Brussel Sprouts with Cranberries

Since Thanksgiving Dinner is so laden with heavy, rich food I decided I wanted to try something with yams this year that was a little healthier. Here's what I did:

Roasted Yams, Beets and Brussel Sprouts with Cranberries
4 large garnet yams, peeled and cut into chunks (about and inch and a half square or so)
5 beets, peeled and cut into chunks
1 stalk brussel sprouts- I cut these guys off the stalk, cleaned them, cored out the center and pulled the leaves apart, discarding the innermost core part.
2 large handfuls dried cranberries

I mixed all of these together and seasoned with salt and pepper in a large bowl. Then I drizzled it all with a generous pour of olive oil and the juice of one fresh lemon from our tree. Tossed it all well and then spread it out on a baking tray (one with sides). Roasted at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes. My sister-in-law and I each tossed it all around a couple times throughout the roasting so it cooked as evenly as possible. So yummy! The smoky taste of the brussel sprouts is complimented really nicely by the sweetness of the root vegetables and the cranberries. I'll definitely be making this again!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pistachio Cupcakes

My guy and I went to the opening of an art gallery in a little town in the foothills not too long ago. We hadn't seen our friends Dave and Michelle for a while so when Michelle suggested we check out her Aunt's opening and have dinner we were game. Why not? Something different, something fun. A nice little Saturday night. At the gallery opening they had an hors dourves table with lots of yummy little bites, our favorite being these tiny pistachio cupcakes. A portion of our dinner conversation then, of course, included Michelle and I trying to figure out how one would go about making these little morsels. Enter the internet. I found a recipe here that turned out pretty good. I made up my own version of a cream cheese frosting to go on top, though, because that's what those tiny little bites of happiness had on them. 
Just to be clear. I consider myself to be a pretty good cook. I can find my way around the kitchen with usually quite tasty results, no problem. However, I have never, nor will I ever profess to be an accomplished baker. Nope. So, yeah. This recipe called for a cake mix. It's not completely "from scratch". Whatever. It was easy and tasted good. I'm guessing it was the club soda that made these babies so incredibly light and fluffy?  

The recipe has you use the cake mix, 3 eggs, 1 cup canola oil, a package of pistachio pudding, and a cup of club soda. I used my KitchenAid stand mixer (which I LOVE) to mix everything up. Slow speed for 30 seconds and then on full/fast for 2 minutes. When it's done mixing, the batter is all fluffy and airy.

I am a big fan of cream cheese frosting. Our wedding cakes (yes, there were 2. I'm from Texas. That's how we do it.) both had cream cheese frosting. The wedding cake was layers of Italian Cream and Carrot Cakes with cream cheese yumminess and the Groom's Cake was German Chocolate with chocolate cream cheese frosting. Ahhhhh-mazing! But enough about that. The cream cheese frosting recipe I have in my trusty book is my mom's and it's incredible. But it also calls for a crazy amount of butter and I just wasn't feeling it. So, I stayed pretty true but just left out the butter. I used the whole package of cream cheese, 2 tbs orange juice, 2 tsp of vanilla and then I just added the powdered sugar until it tasted right. Again, I just set the KitchenAid loose with it. Then, I poured it into a ziplock bag and stuck it in the freezer to cool while the cupcakes finished baking and cooled.

Once everything was cool, I snipped off a corner of my frosting bag and did a pretty simple decorating job.

Since I'm a detail girl I figured I'd make the cupcakes pretty by sprinkling some pistachios on top. I don't know if you can get already shelled pistachios. You probably can, but I had unshelled in the pantry so there ya go. I shelled them, peeled off the skins, crushed them up a bit and dusted them on top of each frosted cake. I think they were a nice touch!

What I Wore Wednesday

{This is on the Mission Trip we went on to Nicaragua 2010.}

So I follow a few blogs and a couple of those have this "what I wore Wednesday" thing that they do. a room somewhere and the pleated poppy both do this little weekly diddy. I like to see the cute, creative outfits these chicks come up with. I always look at the pics and think, huh. Why can't I think to put things together like that? Now, I'm not saying I"m clueless when it comes to fashion. I can usually throw together looks pretty easily that end up at least on the good side of cute. But, I guess what I'm trying to say is that you won't see me doing a "what i wore wednesday" post (for reals) any time soon. Because, as the picture here shows, I live most of my life in scrubs. And the Good Lord knows that scrubs are ANYthing but fashionable! Comfy, yes. Easy, yes. Can I literally sleep walk into my closet and figure out what to wear each work day? Yes. Unique or creative, yeah. Not so much. So maybe here's to "what I thought looked reasonably cute Tuesday"....For now just know that on Wednesdays I wear black scrubs with bright purple Nike Frees (I think that's what they're called) with hot pink laces. I know. Exciting, right?? I figure at least my shoes are fun....:)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dreaming of Biscuits

{Picture courtesy of this site, where I found the recipe I'm going to try out first. Looks tasty!} 

For some reason I have recently found my self thinking a LOT about the biscuits we used to get every Tuesday morning in the cafeteria at the boarding school I went to for highschool. Biscuits and gravy day was the one day I'd actually get myself out of bed and head to breakfast....otherwise, no dice. These biscuits, though, were amazing- super soft, pillowy and fluffy. The tops were just barely golden and the insides yummy and moist. I always skipped the gravy and went for butter and honey instead. Yummmmm. These are the biscuits that I now judge any other biscuit that I come across, usually only to end up disapointed. I'm tired of dry, crunchy biscuits. So. I've been cruising around on recipe sites in search of a good recipe. I found one to start the experimenting with. Stay tuned to see how it goes!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Parc 55, San Francisco

In July we spent a weekend in San Francisco to have some fun. I posted earlier here about the Friday night activities of that weekend. Well, on Saturday night, we stayed in SF again so we could go to a concert. What concert? Well, I'm glad you asked! The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit is group of guys from Oakdale, CA and we're lucky enough to be able to call these gentlemen our friends. People, let me tell you. These guys are such a good time! They played that weekend at the The Great American Music Hall in SF and it was a heck of a show. So much fun to see them play to a packed house in the city!
Anyway, we stayed at the The Parc 55 which is locate a very short walk from Union Square. Actually, it's just across the street from the Bart Station and Cable Car Station at Powell St. Can't get a whole lot more convenient than that! We booked the room for $85 on Priceline (score!) and were pleasantly surprised by both the location and the quality of the rooms, etc. The bed was super comfy, we had a great view, the room was reasonably quiet and's not every hotel in SF that can actually give you all of these things!

Most of the buildings in SF are pretty old with the majority of them being built after the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. People lived a bit more simply back then and as a result you'll notice that SF hotels rooms (if the hotel resides in a period building) are on the small side. So. If you find yourself in a larger room (such as we did at the Parc 55), it's a good indicator that the building is on this side of being newer. I am a fan of the new hotels and I love the quaint boutique hotels you find in the old buildings. Both have their charms.

Being the detail freak that I am I loved the necessity set up in the bathroom. Earplugs? Awesome. I didn't need them as the room was actually quite peaceful (and I had my ever-trusty sleep white noise machine tucked safely in my suitcase), but I thought it very clever to think of providing them for guests. And, I'll just say it. Hotels that spring a little more for quality products rather than random crappy bottles of worthless shampoo, etc, always get extra points in my book. Plus, I can squirrel them away in my bag and later use them in my guest bath baskets (more on that another time).

On an amusing side note, we discovered that Wyndham Hotels are where a lot of airlines put up their flight crews for the night. When we went to check out, the lobby was filled with flight attendants all decked out in various uniforms (Air China's were the prettiest) and pilots. I don't exactly know why I was taken by this, but I was. Weird.

As you can see in this photo to the right, we were blessed with beautiful weather that weekend. I'll say it again. I friggin' love SF.

Mud Dog

Ohhh, Ginger. Normally such a priss- she'll only do her "business" in one corner of the yard. She "tiptoes" through the grass when it's wet, won't go outside when it's raining. But the dog loves to dig. She is the digginist (a term my Dad once tagged to one of our dogs growing up) dog! Now, she is not a habitual digger. Usually, she doesn't waste her time. But every once in a while, she gets a wild hair and goes craaaazy. Point in case. A couple weeks ago, I get home from work after Dean and rather than immediately letting the girls in from the backyard, I sat down to chat with my husband for a minute. Apparently, this rubbed Princess Ginger wrong and she decided to let me know she did not appreciate this snub. Suddenly we hear this strange splattering noise outside under the family room window. Huh, ok. That doesn't sound normal, best check it out. I go to the door and see this:

Needless to say, Ginger did not come inside right then! She was promptly hosed down instead. Oh, well. I guess otherwise we may have not discovered the sprinkler head that was malfuntioning. It created the perfect muddy puddle for her to play in. I think the funniest part of this whole thing to me is that Lucy did not get one speck of mud on her. You know the whole time Ginger was digging her lil heart out Lucy was standing there like, "ooohhh, you're gonna get in soooo much trouble!" Dogs will be dogs, I suppose! Doesn't she look incredibly happy and pleased with herself though??

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sun Tea Summer

{Tazo Blackberry White Tea/ Lipton combination. Totally cute glasses were a Christmas gift from my
baby sis. She ordered them from Fishs Eddy in NYC. More on them another time.}
 A lot of my favorite memories of summer growing up center around my Grandma Mary Jane. She is one of the most amazing women I know and I am so honored to have learned so much from her. I didn't realize most of those lessons at the time, but as I get older I realize more and more just how wise she is.
Grandma introduced me to sun tea. Now, her go to sun tea was usually Red Zinger, an amazing blend of herbs, hibiscus and peppermint. And bright red in color. I have looked high and low around here and can't find that particular tea anywhere. I think I'm going to have to resort to ordering it online. I have to have my Red Zinger. Until then, I'm having fun trying out some flavor combinations of my own. Right now I tend to favor a mix of Tazo flavors and a little bit of classic Lipton.
The first thing you need to have great sun tea is a lot of sunshine. Luckily, we don't have a problem with that around here! Second, a good container. I found mine at Target. I prefer plastic seeing as I do have two dogs in the backyard that sometimes tend to get a bit rowdy. I personally don't feel like cleaning up shattered glass...Also, a spicket is a nice touch. Not completely necessary, though.
So. How to make sun tea. It's so easy it's almost embarrassing. Fill up the container almost to full. Throw in some tea bags- I usually use 4-5. I like my tea strong and with lots of flavor.
Put the lid on and then set out in the sun for anywhere from 2-6 hours, even longer if you want it stronger. Enjoy!

{Tasty mix. Tazo African Red Bush & Lipton}

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I learned the hard way that when washing the container it's best to NOT remove the spicket. It just doesn't seal the same afterwards and you could end up with a puddle of iced tea in your nice clean fridge. Not my idea of a good time. I just fill the container with enough hot soapy of water to fill above the spicket, swish it a around a bit and then drain it out through the spicket. Works pretty well. Now, time to order that Red Zinger.....