Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bon Jovi Concert

Tonight my hubby and I are going to the Bon Jovi concert in Anaheim, CA. Finally a fun night out! It's been way too long. And now I get to play dress-up :) The only down side is it's raining so I might be limited in my choice of attire. Before the concert we're going to this place called Firefly Grill and Wine Bar located in Encinitas California. They have a huge assortment of wines and can recommend wines to go nicely with your meal. I can't wait to have this one appetizer: WORLD SELECTION OF CHEESES. It comes with a fig marmalade, red grapes and toasted walnut bread for $12. Most of their main entrees range in price from 20-30 dollars. The food is amazing and the atmosphere is great! It should be a great night and I'm very excited to go watch Bon Jovi live!

Here's a recipe from Firefly:

Maple Glazed Grilled Sausage over White Bean, Apple & Red Endive Salad with a Sherry Mustard Vinagrette

8 Sausage Links ( pork, chicken or turkey)
1 cup maple syrup
4 oz bacon, chopped
¼ cup sherry vinegar
1 T Dijon Mustard
2 cup white bean, cooked, drained
1 ea. Granny smith apple, skin on sliced
2 ea. Head Red Endive

1.Marinate sausage in Maple syrup for 3 hours in sealed Ziploc bag.

2.Cook on grill over low to medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes. Brush with marinade while cooking.

3.While sausage is cooking, place sauté pan on grill. Render chopped bacon until crisp. Discard excess fat. Add sherry vinegar and mustard stirring to make a vinaigrette.

4.Combine beans, apple slices and endive in bowl. Toss with warm vinaigrette. Place on platter and top with grilled sausage.

Friday, February 26, 2010

What's for dinner?? #2

When I used to think of pasta, I'd instantly think of spaghetti. Not anymore! We eat pasta a couple times a week for dinner. One reason we eat so much pasta is because I'm a vegetarian and a good fettuccine goes really well with sauteed vegetables. When I decided to go vegetarian again (I've been on and off most my life) I was really worried it would kill my cooking skills. But in truth it's expanded them because it's forced me to cook with vegetables and ingredients I hadn't before. For example, I used to not like mushrooms. But I discovered that it's all in how they're cooked (for me at least). This is a really versatile week night recipe (if you'd even call it one) that I love.

First Step- Make mushroom's delicious:
*Put a pat of butter in a pan and arrange mushrooms in a single layer. Let them sit there till they turn a golden brown, then flip. Once the other side is golden- add a dry white wine and let the mushrooms absorb the wine. Next, add chopped up garlic and a pinch of some herbs (basil and thyme what I used). Add a pinch or sea salt and some ground pepper. Then add some diced shallots. Let simmer and let the wine and butter turn into a nice sauce. Yum...

Second step -- Add other vegies:
I typically add chopped tomatoes and cut up asparagus. But you can add artichoke hearts or just leave it as sauteed mushrooms. See, I told you it was versatile. Seriously, these mushrooms taste so good though. Wine, butter, garlic, shallots- um...hello?! How could it not taste good? And the mushrooms just soak up all the flavor - yum.

Last step -- boil pasta:
Add to boiling water, remove when done :) I like fettuccine personally for this dish.

To serve - place pasta on plate and then ladle your mushroom/vegie concoction on top. This is one of my hubby's new favorite dinners.

Side note: This meal would go well with a breaded chicken breast too. Just because I'm a veg-head doesn't mean I don't cook meat. I've only recently (a little over a month) gone back to eating vegetarian and my hubby is full carnivore :) Plus, I'd never deprive children of my home made 4th of July fried chicken. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Playing Dress-up

Fairy wings, feather boas and princess tiaras have hit my house full force. It's happen before but it looks like a dress-up trunk bomb went off in my living room. No one has escaped un-dressed. My son has become a prince in long white gloves and my daughter has become a princess bride (I will remind my children of this moment when they hate each other in their teenage years). I am wearing two different clip on earrings (ouch!) and even Duke (our dog) was dressed with a feather boa.

My childish side is having fun with the whole dress-up thing. Or maybe it's that extra cup of coffee I had this morning that is finally kicking in. Some days you just have to embrace what's handed to you and run with it. Even as an adult I find myself playing dress-up. When my hubby and I have a night out I find myself pulling out multiple outfits, trying them on and then debating which one to wear. I guess dress-up never ended for me, it just evolved as I got older. Hope you all have a fun, dress-up kind of day!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What's for dinner??

On Sundays I like to scan the adds for the local farmers markets to see what's in season. This week at Sprouts Farmer's Market they had big beautiful eggplant on sale for 88 cents each! I had to snag one! I'm still in the process of convincing my husband that eggplant can be yummy. (He had a very bad experience with eggplant a while back). Last week I made eggplant parmesean and it was so yummy! Tonights dinner will be grilled balsamic eggplant with a balsamic mushroom risotto.

Grilled Balsamic Eggplant

Whisk together:
2T balsamic vinegar
3T olive oil,
2 cloves crushed garlic

Then add a pinch of each: thyme leaves, oregano leaves, salt and pepper.

Dip eggplant slices (about a 1/2 inch thick) in mixture and throw on the grill. Let it sit on the grill for about 10 minutes so it gets those nice grill marks before flipping. I like to sprinkle some parmeseano regiano on top of the grilled eggplant before I serve it. I love that cheese.

I do make my own risotto- but I found this great recipe on I'm going to try out this recipe tonight. I really like that she roasts the mushrooms before adding them to the risotto. Check it out!

Balsamic Mushroom Risotto recipe by Katie Goodman

  • 24 ounces mushrooms (white, cremini, baby portabella or a mixture)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated romano cheese
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove stems from mushrooms (discard) and thinly slice the mushrooms. Combine with garlic and rosemary. Toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Place on a foil lined baking sheet, spreading the mixture out, and roast for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the broth and water in a saucepan over medium-low heat until warmed. Heat the remaining oil (1/2 tablespoon) in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Saute the shallot, about 1 minute. Add the rice, stirring to coat with oil, and cook about 2 minutes. When the rice begins to take on a light golden color, pour in the wine, stirring constantly until the wine is fully absorbed.

Add half of broth and water mixture to the rice a 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir in the roasted mushrooms and any accumulated juices. Add the remaining broth mixture to the rice a 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente
, about 10 minutes more.

Remove from heat and stir in the butter and romano
. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. Serve immediately.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Crazy Monday?

Monday is always such a sad day for me. It means that the weekend is over and that I'm back to the daily grind....which always includes way too much laundry. Grrrr. Yes, I'm not a happy Monday person. Trust me, it's good that I realize this. This way when a person cuts me off on the road and I want to yell "What the heck?! How did you get a license?!" it may be that I'm super grumpy on Mondays that is provoking this type of reaction. Darn Mondays.

In order to combat my internal reactions to Mondays I like to surround myself with peacefulness and happy thoughts. I'm such an animal lover and animals just make my soul feel good. Probably why my first job was a veterinary assistant and my second job was at PetsMart as an avian specialist. I got to play with macaws and other parrots. That made me happy. Bagging fish, cleaning tanks, and getting jumped on by crickets- not so happy. See, I really need better control of myself on Mondays- everything turns grumpy- even memories. I won't traumatize you by describing my memories of being bitten by hamsters and rats- pet rats, but they were still rats. That's probably why I then became a dog trainer. I really enjoyed that. Now I take all of my animal loving from Duke, my dog. And when I really need a pick me up, I visit the zoo. So I'm leaving you with a few of my happy zoo pictures. Maybe this can bring you a little peace today too.

In case you were wondering, these pictures were from our vacation when we stopped at the Santa Barbara Zoo.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Magical Hills

While driving through California the rolling green hills took my breath away. It was so beautiful. Especially around the Napa area. The grass there looks like velvet. It's almost as if the hills around that area are magical. I told my husband while we were driving through the hills that "it wouldn't surprise me if a unicorn came galloping down the hill". That statement was quickly followed by another "I can totally imagine knights riding into a battle on these hills". Ok, in all fairness we had been in the car for a long time! And after a few hours in the car I cannot control my imagination. My husband, such an amazing man, totally understands me and expects those types of statements at this point in our marriage so it did not surprise him. He just glanced at me and did the head nod thing. I found I could not tear my gaze away as the midst started to roll in like a heavy blanket gingerly resting upon the velvety hills. Utterly captivating.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Monterey Bay Aquarium

There isn't a whole lot to say about this place except that it was amazing. I highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking of going. It was full of amazing exhibits that struck children and adults with wonder and awe. It was very special seeing our kids eyes light up as they watched the jelly fish. My son loved the otters and they had a display where he was able to feel real otter fur and touch an otter skull. I was worried it would scare him but he loved it. I think it was the way the helper showed it all to him that made the difference. If you make it to Monterey you have to go down to the fisherman's wharf and grab some clam chowder down there. They literally have "Chowder Wars" on the wharf. They have people shoving samples of chowder at you. It's great! Almost a meal just getting to your meal- lol!

Here's some pictures of the aquarium.

The last picture I posted is a picture of an albatross that they had at the aquarium. Did you know that an albatross is the only bird who's wingspan can exceed 11 feet! Yes, elleven feet! That's a BIG bird! Hope you've enjoyed the photos!

For more aquarium info:

Monday, February 15, 2010


As we were driving up to the cabins I was astounded at the amount of snow that was piled next to the road. I expected snow.... but I guess I expected that nice carpeted snow with the huge snow flakes falling ever so gently from the sky..... um...yea... I guess I had the typical Hollywood version playing in my head. To say the very least, there was a lot of snow!

When it wasn't raining it was snowing, which is surprisingly wet. We had a lot of fun sledding and inner-tubing down the slopes. Once we made it to the slope. It was a week's work out just getting there. One step in and you'd fall down to your waist in snow. Then you obviously had to wiggle and crawl your way out and continue up the hill to the slope..... mental note: sticking to the ice path to get to the slope. I'd rather fall on my butt then have to crawl across the snow. My husband decided to build a large snow/ice ramp at the bottom of the slope. The guys had fun going down the slope and getting some "air" once they reached the ramp. Well, I got some "AIR" when I went down. Yep, I came down from "catching air" I'm figuring it must have launched me at least 5' 4" into the air. It was actually a lot of fun. I felt like a kid....until I went down on the plastic sled....face butt padding.... then I felt 80. I am still sore in my legs. I know, pathetic. But what can I say? I'm not a teenager anymore.... I'm the ripe old age of 25- lol! And feeling more and more like 80 every day!

I loved visiting the snow and my kids did too. They really loved the hot chocolate and marshmallows they received in big mugs when they came in from playing in the snow. Thanks Heather! The views of the mountains and snow were absolutely breathtakingly gorgeous. We could not have been happier with the time we spent at the cabin in the snow. One of my best memories of our time there was at night while sitting next to the fire as the snow came down outside. My husband, myself and our dear friends (Heather and Matt) gathered in the living room in our jamies. We laughed and reminisced about old times and talked about future times. Matt introduced us to a high quality whiskey (it honestly wasn't as vile as the others I've sniffed). We all took a shot, convulsed and gagged as it went down - then sat back and were in awe at the small furnace that ignited inside of our chests. Next time I might pass on the whiskey but the company and laughs were priceless.

But I must say, I am very glad I do not actually live in the mountains. I came to that conclusion after shoveling the snow off the back deck. I know, only the back deck! Pathetic! I can't even imagine the shoveling my husband did to get the car unburied. So yes, I am a pampered San Diegan and very appreciative that it's 74 degrees and sunny here right now.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Free Valentine Downloadable Valentine

My sister is amazing! She came up with these adorable valentines that you can download for free. Go to her website and make one of your own!

Hello Reality.

Going on vacation was wonderful! We had so much fun visiting with our friends and seeing new places. Although that first night back home, sleeping in my own bed, was heaven! And I must say, I missed my puppy. And yes, I got in lots of Great Dane snuggles when we came home. My dog (Duke) basically snuggled up against me and wouldn't let me move for about an hour.

But then it was back to reality- literally. Deadlines. I had a cupcake order that I had to make the day after we got home. They were 30 lemon cupcakes with a lemon cream cheese frosting. Yum! They were for a baby shower on Sat. Feb 13th. Decorations consisted of fondant stripes and polka dots in blue and brown. A few had a blue star on top of the cupcakes. I love the look of cupcake assortments. I guess now that I'm done with cupcakes it's time to unpack. Yes, that is not done yet. But again, that's reality.

Next week I'll be posting about our trip!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Good Bye Reality!

Is it sad that I'm so excited to check out of reality?? Hmm... Maybe I should rephrase that:

Goodbye screaming children who are bored by the mundane activities of everyday life (no I'm not leaving my kids- but they will not be bored while on vacation).

Goodbye endless mountain of laundry that haunts my dreams nightly (I can't begin to think of how much laundry I'll have to do when I get back).

Goodbye endless supply of black dog hair that catches my eye every time I look at the white baseboards (I will miss you Duke, but I'll be back soon and then we can snuggle)

Goodbye horrendous tile that glares up at me daily with your white grout that now is a greyish color. I hate scrubbing you. (I love you shag carpet)

Goodbye saying goodbye to my hubby early in the morning and waiting all day to see him again. I'm really looking forward to lots of family time.

Now lets just hope we all stay healthy and no one gets sick. My son has a typical cough (his Achilles heel) but no one is contagiously sick or feverish (knock on wood). I'm sure I'll have tons to blog about when I get back but in the mean time if you get bored check out some of my favorite blogs:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Valentines Day Cookies

I'm trying to get all my Valentine's Day orders done before I leave for vacation. Mental note for next year- do not schedule a vacation right before Valentine's Day. An order that I have due today is 2 dozen Valentine's Day cookies with individual names on each cookie. I think it's a really cute idea. So here's a picture of the cookies I've been doing. I just have one cake left to finish and then time to pack for vacation!!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Beautiful La Jolla

Sometimes.... actually.... frequently it's easy to live somewhere and never take advantage of the wonderful things in your town. For example, we live in San Diego and rarely make it down to the beach. With a possibility of moving in the near future I wanted to get out and embrace San Diego. This last weekend we went down to La Jolla. Our family spent the afternoon playing on the grassy park above seal beach. The kids enjoyed climbing on these trees which seemed to be living art. They were so beautiful being carved by nature into these masterpieces of winding branches and etched bark. Absolutely beautiful.

There are some breathtaking views in La Jolla. I took my time letting the scenes imprint themselves into my mind. Being next to crashing waves always makes my soul feel a little lighter. To have my eyes overflowing with a scene of beauty and power feels so inspiring. That must be why I've wanted to sculpt with clay all week. I am a painter and sculpture.... or rather was....before kids. Now I funnel all of my artistic needs into my bakery's cakes.

But when my soul becomes overwhelmed with the beauty of nature sometimes that artistic hunger starts clawing at me again. I'm hoping when I come back from vacation I won't be bombarded with bakery orders and I can take a moment for myself to sculpt. Here's to wishing!
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