Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Crinkly Goodness

Last weekend I baked cookies! It was for the annual Bungalow Heaven Neighborhood Tour which is held on the last Sunday of every April. I had to make at least 3 dozen cookies, to be served at the reception area where guests check-in for the tour.

I decided on these Chocolate Crinkle cookies because they looked so good and I've never baked them before. Also, the ingredient list was short and the directions were easy. My kind of recipe!

I  yielded just over 3 dozen cookies using this recipe from Allrecipes. I used my handy dandy size 40 scoop which is about 1 and 3/4 tablespoonful. The recipe itself said it yields 70 cookies but I'm pretty sure this is if you only scoop out 1 teaspoonful of dough to form into a ball. Big or small, this cookie was very chocolatey, light, and slightly chewy. Perfect with a glass of ice cold milk.

Little Lessons On Life

Have you ever encountered a rude person in public? How did you react? Were you rude back or did you keep your cool?

Last Sunday evening I was walking the boys, Finn and Tate.  We were at our favorite walking spot, the campus of Cal Tech University. Usually we walk early in the morning but this time we decided to do an early evening walk to take advantage of the late daylight hours.

As we were going on our way I saw a man on a skateboard in the empty parking lot. Well, the boys go nuts when they see anyone on a skateboard or roller skates. I probably should have walked the other way but for some reason, I didn't and walked towards this guy. As we were walking through the parking lot the boys were pulling me so hard and turning me around and made walking quite difficult for me.  Then the guy on the skateboard stops and says something to the effect of, "I'm going to stop riding until you pass through". Hmm, that's nice. "Thanks", I say.  Then he says, "But it's highly irresponsible of you to take your dogs out when it's clear you have no control over them!" Um, what?
I just look at this creep (uh, guy), and ask him how he could judge my "irresponsibility" in the 2 minutes that he's even seen me with my dogs? Also, please mind your own (f-ing) business!

By the time we crossed the parking lot I was fuming. I was also thinking of all the things I "should have" said to him. You know how all of that comes to mind afterwards?  So, I took the opportunity to make myself visible to him again and politely gave him the finger. That made me feel a little better.

Since Sunday however, I still find myself thinking about this Ass%#!* and all the things I would have loved to say to him.  But in reality, by getting myself worked up about this stupid stranger, I'm really hurting myself. So today I wanted to share some quotes that help me to work through what I call "Interactions with the stupid people of the world", and to LET GO because trully, this guy and anyone else who is rude, obnoxious and being an ASS, is not worth it. Hear that, idiot-on-the-skateboard? I'm kicking you to the curb and pressing the delete button on ya!

Here are some quotes I'm meditating on:

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding but only in disclosing what is on his mind. Proverbs 18:2

Be kind to unkind people; they need it the most! Buddhism

How people treat you is their Karma; how you react is yours. Unknown

Do not speak in the ears of a fool for he will despise the wisdom of your words. Proverbs 23:9

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Eleanor Roosevelt

If you have any more to share, please do, I would love to hear them!

Friday, March 13, 2015

A little break

If it seems like I haven't posted much lately, it's because I haven't. I've been on vacation in Maui and just flew back home very late last night.

Maui was spectacular.  Simply gorgeous and yes, quite relaxing.  There's still a fine mixture of purity and rawness on the island of Maui, despite the Costco and the Krispy Kreme that greets you as you exit the airport.  Wherever I looked, I was either taking in the views of the Pacific ocean or the lush mountains.

I hope I'll be able to keep the "aloha spirit" with me for a little while longer even though I'm back home in LA.  So far, so good.  Mahalo.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sunday's Bulldog

My little men.

Pasta Carbonara for a winter's day

Today I felt like making something creamy, indulgent, and delicious.  That description right there describes Pasta Carbonara to a tee.  The recipe I used is from How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.

I loved the simplicity of Pasta Carbonara.  In literally minutes, you can whip up a truly elegant and satisfying Italian meal.

1 pound linguine or other long pasta
1 tablespoon EVOO
4 oz minced bacon
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
Sea salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan sauté the olive oil and bacon until the bacon is crispy.
Boil a large pot of salted water; add the linguine to the water and cook the spaghetti until al dente, about 8-9 minutes.
While spaghetti is boiling, mix the parmesan cheese and the eggs in a large bowl.

After the spaghetti is cooked, drain in a colander and then immediately add the spaghetti to the parmesan-egg mixture.  Combine well.  Add the bacon and the leftover grease to the spaghetti mixture.  Add freshly ground pepper and salt to taste.  Eat immediately and enjoy!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Real Women Do Eat Quiche!

Do you eat quiche?  Quiche is not something I eat on a regular basis much less make myself, but I was looking for a make ahead brunch recipe and came across this one for Crustless Zucchini and Basil Mini Quiches.

These turned out delicious and was a very simple recipe to put together.  What I like about this recipe is that the quiche is made in a mini cupcake tin which makes the quiche easy to transport for a breakfast or brunch pot luck, plus you can make these the night before and freeze.  All you need to do is pop them in the oven when you're ready to serve them.

Crustless Zucchini and Basil Mini-Quiches
Makes 48 pieces; adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/4 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Oil, for the pan
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
2 small zucchini, grated
1/4 cup grated Gruyere or Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil, finely chopped
Heat oven to 450°F.
Prepare Batter: Put the cornstarch in a medium bowl. Whisking steadily, slowly pour in 1/2 cup of the milk, mixing until quite smooth. Whisk in the whole eggs and egg yolks, mixing again until smooth, then gradually whisk in the rest of the milk, the cream, salt, and nutmeg. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to one day. If using the next day, be sure to re-whisk.
Prepare Zucchini Mixture: In a nonstick pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add grated zucchini, and stir until just softened, another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.
Oil mini muffin tins well. Put a pinch grated cheese into each muffin cup, a teaspoon of zucchini mixture, and pinch of chopped fresh basil. Pour 1 tablespoon of the batter into each muffin cup.
Bake until the quiches puff and start to turn golden, 15-18 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and then carefully run a paring knife around the rim of each muffin cup. Carefully lift each quiche out of its cup.
Mini quiches freeze very well. Let cool, then freeze in a single layer in a covered container. Reheat on a cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven for about 5-10 minutes.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Sunday Bulldog

Because it's the night of the Oscar telecast, I'm sharing this award-winning picture of my boy Finn.  Well, okay, it really didn't win any awards officially, but it is one of my favorite pics of him.

Finn is feisty, and brave, and and can be quite naughty at times with his brother, but he's always a sweetheart when it comes to giving me cuddles.  I call him my little teddy bear because not a night goes by where he doesn't curl his little body very close to me as he sleeps. I love you, Finn.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Sunday Bulldog (one day late)

Oops, how did I forget to post my bully pictures yesterday? Hmmm...well, I did go on a 5 mile hike and was a little sleep deprived all day, so that'll be my excuse!

Anyways, here you go, a couple of very pooped-out pooches:

Friday, February 13, 2015

Because it's 90 Degrees Out

It feels much more like summer than the middle of winter here in Southern California.  We're definitely having a heat wave!  Today the temperature reached 90 degrees in Pasadena.  First thought as I was driving around doing errands was, "ice cream"!  I stopped at Trader Joe's to check out the frozen dessert section and this Salted Caramel Gelato caught my attention.  I've never seen it before and the cashier told me they've only been stocking it for a couple months. I couldn't wait to dig my spoon into the gelato! And when I tasted that spoonful, WOW! lots of caramel-y flavor, very creamy and definitely a hint of salt...all of this made my taste buds quite happy.

If you have a TJ's in your area, I highly recommend the Salted Caramel Gelato, whether it's 90 degrees in your neck of the woods or not!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Sunday Bulldog

I was looking through some old pictures and found this one of my two boys when they were much younger.  I think Finn might have been 4 or 5 months old here and Tate around 6 months old. This is actually a rare shot of them "sharing" a toy together.  I love how their eyes locked on each they meant business!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Sunday Bulldogs

Aside from our pre-dinner walk this evening, today was a very lazy day for the three of us, as depicted in the following pictures.  More like a super-snooze party rather than anything football related!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Patience is key

When making this glazed chicken dish, one must be very patient.  Mainly because the "glaze" takes awhile to develop as you're cooking and this dish requires your full attention.  Lots of stirring and turning, definitely not one of those dishes you can leave alone for an hour to clean out your closet and then come back to.

chicken and sauce simmering until thickened

But the end product is simply divine and delicious, so all that slaving over a hot stove is well worth it, in my opinion.

The finished product with white rice and garnished with pickled ginger

I doubled the ingredients (except for the chicken) because I just love the glaze and wanted some extra to pour over rice. Or to simply dip my fingers into and lick it off! I would call this recipe finger-lickin'-good chicken except that description has already been used for a widely known fried chicken that comes in its own red and white bucket.  So, we'll call this one Sticky Chicken, how about that?

Sticky Chicken 

8 chicken drumsticks
1 cup water
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
6 garlic cloves (smashed)
4 shallots (peeled and sliced)
2 and 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Place all the ingredients in a large Dutch oven or pot, and allow to boil.
Once liquid is boiling, turned down heat and allow everything to simmer for 20 minutes.
Turn back up to high temp and stir liquid and turn chicken until the sauce becomes a glaze.  This step can take some time.  For me, it was around 45 minutes. You can leave the pot on its own for 5-10 minutes but then check back and stir the liquid some more. If the chicken seems to be getting overcooked, take the chicken out and just leave the liquid in the pot until this thickens. Once the sauce thickens, place the chicken back into the pot and distribute the glaze over the chicken.
Once the glaze thickens, remove from heat and allow to cool to room temp.

Eat the chicken over white rice or whatever suits your fancy.

The Sunday Bulldog

My little man Tate reminded me of a little grandpa as I saw him sitting out on the back stoop, looking into the horizon. He'll be 4 years old this coming Tuesday so he's still far from being a senior citizen. In fact, Tate is still very much a puppy with his playful behavior.  Hard to believe that this boy was the little 8 week old baby that I picked up 4 years ago (bottom photo).

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sometimes all I want is a bowl of spaghetti

Friday night after a long work week, I made spaghetti.  I've been craving spaghetti for some time now but was too lazy, or too tired, or just didn't get around to making any. Til Friday night.  I made the sauce from scratch, using this recipe.   Spaghetti to me is comforting and brings me back to my childhood when our next door neighbor, Aunt Millie, would surprise us with a large pot of it, discreetly left on our back porch.  That was one of my fondest and earliest food memories.  I'm not sure if this batch of spaghetti I made was as delicious as Aunt Millie's, but it was definitely tasty and sure hit the spot.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday Bulldog

It's a rainy Sunday and we're cozied up at home today.  I just started reading a novel called The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, which I heard about from Grechen of Grechens Closet.  Yesterday I got myself to the South Pasadena Library and felt like a kid in a toy store.  I absolutely LOVED perusing the book shelves, choosing this book or that.  So, I chose the Tartt novel as well as a book about dog training, and another about how to be happier at work.  I plan to review that one later.

I'll go back to my book now but let me leave you with this picture of Finn who is serenely napping on his corduroy bean bag.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Pucker Up!

I'm not a huge make-up wearer but I do love makeup.  I remember receiving my very first makeup kit when I was 10 years old.  Santa brought it.  It had eye shadow, blush, mascara, and lipstick.  I remember how I obsessively applied the mascara on my barely-there lashes only to transform myself into a Tammy Faye Baker look-alike!  Still, I had so much fun with that makeup kit and ever since then, I've had a lot of fun experimenting with different brands of makeup, from high end lines to your run of the mill drug store brands.  

Today I'm going to share my latest find, the big lip pencil,  by a company called J.Cat Beauty.  Here's what it looks like:

It's a very creamy and easy to apply highly-pigmented lip color.  Think of it as a fat lip liner that you actually fill your lips with as opposed to only using as a liner.  I bought a set of 12 of these lip colors from Amazon for around $25.00.  What a deal, huh?

I like the coverage the lip color provides and luckily, the majority of the colors in the set were ones I could actually wear.  The lip pencil pretty much just glides on but I do recommend you first use a neutral lip liner and then dust some facial powder on your lips before you use the J.Cat.  This will help "set" the color in, as well as prevent any bleeding or feathering that can happen with lip colors.
Here are a few of the colors that I particularly liked on me: 
Caramel Mocha

Red Rose--a bright pink/red shade

Dolly Pink--bright pink with a bit of purple

Keep in mind, this lip color is not a long lasting one and I found myself touching up after things like eating and drinking.  If you keep those activities to a minimum throughout the day though, I think you will find that the color stays pretty fresh for several hours.

Have you been buying and trying any new makeup for the new year? If so, do share!

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Layered Look for 2015

HAPPY NEW YEAR, everybody!
Did you make any new year's resolutions for 2015?  Mine are the same as last year's:
get more organized, de-clutter, buy less, and eat more greens.

So, what better way to start the new year off than by making this beautiful salad?

I had been eyeing this recipe for some time now and finally had a chance to make it for Christmas Eve.  It's called a "layered salad" because, well, there are several layers of yummy-ness, topped off with a sour cream-mayonaisse dressing and some fresh dill.  I discovered that this salad was hugely popular in the 80's and 90's and commonly made for potlucks.  I had no idea!  The recipe I followed was from the site, Pioneer Woman and you can find it right here: Layered Salad

You can change things up, of course.  If you don't like the idea of adding peas into your salad, switch it to corn, or garbanzo beans for some additional protein.  Some other ideas: broccoli, cauliflower, or even shredded carrots.

I received many compliments when I brought this dish to our Christmas Eve dinner potluck.  Some even thought it was a dessert because it looked so pretty!