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Archive for January, 2010

Seriously. In my 30 years, I had never been to a professional sporting event. Not even kidding! I guess that’s not unexpected when I spent my whole life in a state without a professional team of any kind and my parents aren’t sports-minded people.

Fortunately, I wasn’t completely deprived in my sports development. My childhood best friend’s family rubbed off on me. They’re all huge sports enthusiasts and contributed greatly to my love of the SF Giants, Red Sox and Cowboys. And my love of the Lakers can probably be attributed to Kobe Bryant. I think he’s fantastic!

While any of those would have made for a great first pro sporting event experience, I reluctantly let Jimmy talk me into a Kings game. Something about free birthday tickets and persuasion from his nephew, niece and her husband.

I don’t know how it happened, but there I was…Arco Arena. Honestly, I expected more from a pro sports arena. I built it up to be this amusement park-like experience where I was just in awe when I walked through the doors. Not so much. I have been to the Thomas and Mack on many occassions and this seems pretty much the same. Oh well. I still had high hopes for the professional athletes I was about to see.

And this is the part of the story where I’ll skip ahead to my favorite parts of the experience. I’d hate to offend all my inlaws by commenting on how terribly the Kings played.  

So, on to the fun. The company, of course, always a joy. The fact that there was a restaurant and night-clubish thing at the top of the nosebleeds, very intersting. About 200 jazzercisers performing at half time, seriously entertaining. But my favorite…purple ice cream! No joke. They sprinkle blue sugar on their vanilla cones to turn the soft serve purple. I was so impressed! It didn’t turn out at all like the picture showed and it didn’t add much flavor to the ice cream, but it was a good effort and made me feel like a 10-year-old for a bit. And yes, I took a picture just to share the experience with you! I know it looks very blue but it turns more purple as the ice cream melts.

All in all, a great night, even if it was a Kings game. I’m sure next year their luck will change! At least I hope so. It would make those Laker wins even more exciting!!

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Hello Spring…

semester, that is. Today is my first day back to school after the long winter break. Seven weeks went by very quickly, much to my surprise. I thought I’d be bored out of my mind with nothing to do but Vegas, EDH and Tahoe kept me pleasantly occupied.

Jimmy and I had a busy weekend with friends, the perfect way to end my long vacation. Friday, my amazing friend Seema invited me out for a lovely dinner at La Famiglia and then The Wedding Singer at the Pioneer Center. Dinner was fabulous, good company, excellent food…and cheesecake!! The play was so-so, not nearly as good as the movie in my opinion, but over all, a great night spent with the girls! Saturday we headed to Tahoe for a few hours to hang out with Jimmy’s friends Mike & Forrest. Entertaining as always! Then church, errands, football and an afternoon nap – I couldn’t ask for a better Sunday!

My first class this morning was participatory journalism. Our big project is writing a blog. I’m sure you’ll hear much more about that later!! Tonight I have Environmental Law, then tomorrow is Exploratory Journalism and Health and Environment. I’m going to try to take all four since neither elective is offered in the fall and both sound so interesting. We’ll see how that goes! If you don’t hear from me again until May, you’ll understand why!

And unfortunately, I don’t have any fun pics from our weekend adventures, so instead, I’ll leave you with Marlie.  

OK, I’m off. So much to do before my 7:00 class. Dancing with Julianne, baking a chocolate cake and starting Hot, Flat and Crowded.

Happy Tuesday!

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We’re back from a weekend of fun! Actually, we’ve been back for three days now but I haven’t found the time to sit down to share it with you until today. We left for El Dorado Hills Thursday evening after my meeting with the SPCA – I’ll be working with them for the next few months to fulfill my internship reqirement for my grad program, so be prepared for future posts begging for your support. The drive was fine until we hit Auburn where we drove right into crazy thick fog. I could barely see the car in front of us. I have no idea how Jimmy managed to drive through it. I would have pulled over and cried had I been alone!

Aside from the shaky start to the weekend, we had a great time! Jimmy’s nephew RJ shares his same birthday but this year, he turned 18!! Jimmy’s niece’s husband, Perry, had a birthday Wednesday, so we celebrated all three at Sharon & Richard’s Friday night. Dinner was fabulous but the entertainment provided by RJ, Sabrina and Shawna made the evening! Seriously, it was non-stop laughs for hours. And, Jimmy has decided to extend his birthday throughout the rest of the month ending with a Kings game on the 30th.

So get ready EDH, we’re coming back in 2 weeks! But please, if you could take care of this fog situation before then, it’d be much appreciated. I’m really not a fan. Thanks.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed the week of food! This is the last recipe post for now. We’re heading to EDH today to celebrate Jimmy’s birthday, but before we leave, I want to share this last recipe…breakfast (or brinner, if you prefer, I’d never turn down breakfast for dinner)!

During the week, my breakfast usually consists of a piece of fruit, or if I’m feeling  really ambitious, some homemade banana bread (which I’m sure I’ll share with you at a later date) or blueberry muffins (recipe here from vegweb.com). Come Saturday morning, Jimmy & I start our weekend with a sensational breakfast! Sometimes it’s our favorite sunrise sandwich, egg, cheese and a morning star sausage patty sandwiched between a buttermilk biscuit. Other weeks, it’s french toast. Regardless of the main course, more often than not, it’s paired with Jimmy’s potatoes. And, while I think everyone should have this recipe as a go-to for breakfast, I have no idea how he makes them! Maybe one day he’ll write a blog on here with the recipe…but don’t hold your breath!

So instead, I give you amazing blueberry pancakes. I think this was actually our New Year’s Day breakfast, and for once, Jimmy was the one craving pancakes! I thumbed through my cookbooks trying to find something new and exciting to start the new year and stumbled upon this great recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens pink cookbook. I had just bought a tub of frozen blueberries to make the muffins I mentioned so thought it was a perfect fit! It’d be better with fresh blueberries, as you can see, the frozen blueberries left my batter a little green, but they were fabulous just the same.

Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons cornmeal

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 egg, beaten

1 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons applesauce

1 cup blueberries

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Make a well in the center. Combine egg, buttermilk and applesauce in another bowl. Pour into well in flour mixture stirring until just combined. Gently fold in blueberries. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto hot, lightly greased skillet flipping when pancakes are bubbly and golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Serve warm topped with syrup or honey.

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Pizza – Three Ways

I’m not one to brag, but Jimmy and I make a mean pizza! When we lived in Vegas, there was this little place right by our house called Mark Rich’s NY Pizza which we just adored. We received a pizza stone for a wedding gift (nearly 5 years ago) but rarely used it until Mark Rich’s inspired us to try our own pizza creations at home. After deciding to be vegetarian, we discovered so many amazing pizza toppings fresh from the garden (well, from someone’s garden, I haven’t quite mastered that skill yet!).

Our love and appreciation for pizza grew even more when we discovered this amazing recipe on epicurious.comRoasted Garlic, Spinach and Tomato pizza…so ridiculously amazing! Our first attempt was made on our giant foreman like the recipe says, and while it was delicious, nothing beats grilled pizza on the barbeque. It’s the perfect way to enjoy this fresh pie on a summer day.

But, since Reno is like the inside of a freezer right now, we’ve taken our pizza baking indoors for the season putting our pizza stone to good use. It’s no secret that I spend most of my days watching Food Network, and while on break from school, it’s more like all my days. My favorite chef by far is Giada but somehow, unexpectedly, Ina Garten has won me over. She may have secured her place in my heart with this White Pizza with Arugula.

I make this arugula salad all the time, paired with pasta, fish and of course pizza, but I never thought to use it as a pizza topping in itself. The white pizza she makes is great but my personal fav is pepperoni and jalapeno. I know, a cute little pig was slaughtered to put that pepperoni on my plate, but a couple times a year, I pretend to forget about it and just enjoy this fabulous pizza discovery! The key is to chop the jalapenos up into small pieces so every bite has a little kick…mmmm, so good!

Ina’s garlic infused olive oil is amazing too (also in the recipe above). Since finding the grilled pizza recipe on epicurious, I use garlic infused olive oil on all my pizzas in place of tomato sauce. That’s always been my least favorite part of any delivery pizza, tomato sauce just isn’t my thing. But, I found this recipe last weekend on allrecipes.com  and had to give it a try. The tomato sauce is actually on top of the cheese which may be why I am such a fan!

Brick Oven Pizza (Brooklyn Style)

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 6 ounces low moisture mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup no salt added canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 leaves fresh basil, torn
  1. Sprinkle yeast over warm water in a large bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes to proof. Stir in salt and cold water, then stir in the flour about 1 cup at a time. When the dough is together enough to remove from the bowl, knead on a floured surface until smooth, about 10 minutes. Divide into two pieces, and form each one into a tight ball. Coat the dough balls with olive oil, and refrigerate in a sealed container for at least 16 hours. Be sure to use a big enough container to allow the dough to rise. Remove the dough from the refrigerator one hour prior to using.
  2. Preheat the oven, with a pizza stone on the lowest rack, to 550 degrees F. Lightly dust a pizza peel with flour.
  3. Using one ball of dough at a time, lightly dust the dough with flour, and stretch gradually until it is about 14 inches in diameter, or about as big around as the pizza stone. Place on the floured peel. Place thin slices of mozzarella over the crust, then grind a liberal amount of black pepper over it. Sprinkle with dried oregano. Randomly arrange crushed tomatoes, leaving some empty areas. Drizzle olive oil over the top.
  4. With a quick back and forth jerk, make sure the dough will release from the peel easily. Place the tip of the peel at the back of the preheated pizza stone, and remove peel so that the pizza is left on the stone.
  5. Bake for 4 to 6 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the crust begins to brown. Remove from the oven by sliding the peel beneath the pizza. Sprinkle a few basil leaves randomly over the pizza. Cut into wedges and serve.

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I’ve been vegetarian for about two years now. It all started when a friend of mine mentioned that another of our friends read the book Skinny Bitch and went vegan. My first thought was, “A book won’t make you go vegan, I’m going to prove it.” So, I read it in one sitting, made Jimmy read it and then passed it on to a co-worker of mine who came back to work proclaiming that we were going veg.

It wasn’t as hard as I expected, read Skinny Bitch and I think you’ll understand why. I never felt like I was missing anything and our home-cooked meals actually tasted way better than when we were cooking meat! I took a strong stance against the conditions of slaughter houses and animal cruelty…did I mention that after reading Skinny Bitch I watched Fast Food Nation? Probably not the best combo to digest in one week! I’d imagine going veg without having a strong belief against eating meat, it might be more difficult, but I was thoroughly repulsed by many things I read and watched…so it was pretty much a cake walk for me! And having my co-worker on the same page gave me daily interaction with someone who was making the same adjustments.

Now, to be clear, Jimmy is not on the vegetarian band wagon. He likes his meat just fine and gives no thought to the things that gross me out – added hormones and cruel slaughter practices. But, unless he wants to cook his own dinner every night, he happily complies to my vegetarian ways. He does make sure that lunch meat ends up in our shopping cart each week though it’s never on our grocery list!

Last year, we gave up dairy for lent (not that we’re Catholic or anything, it just sounded like a fun thing to do). Cheese is a huge staple in my diet, it adds that extra kick to pasta, completes any green salad and is just plain satisfying as a midday snack. I was sure six weeks without would put me over the edge. Then I found a great website, vegweb.com. We found nearly all our meals for the entire month and a half from this site. After Easter, we went back to our cheese-eating ways and rarely visited the site again, but last week, I decided to see what new recipes I could find.

I certainly wasn’t disappointed by this delicious pasta creation. I have to admit, I’m a huge fan of anything with roasted red peppers and sundried tomatoes, so I knew when I saw this, it’d be a keeper! It was ridiculously simple to make and worthy of leftovers for days.

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Spinach Penne

1 bag fo baby spinach

4 roasted red peppers, chopped (I found a jar at Smith’s for $1.89)

4 tablespoons of cream cheese (you can find vegan brands at Whole Foods or use the real thing, I won’t tell)

3 tablespoons sundried tomatoes, chopped

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1/4 cup milk (try soy or rice milk for a vegan option)

1 box cooked penne (I used whole wheat…can’t get enough of those Omega 3s)

1 16 oz. can of tomato sauce

2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste

While cooking the pasta, heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add spinach and saute until soft, then add red peppers and sundried tomatoes and saute for 5 minutes. Add fresh garlic, stir for 1 minute, then add tomato sauce, cream cheese, milk, oregano, cayenne pepper and garlic powder and stir until cream cheese melts. Toss with drained penne, season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix in the fresh basil just before serving. I topped ours with some shredded parmesan, not necessary but oh so good!

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With just two weeks to go in my winter break, I think it’s time to share some amazing recipes with you. Jimmy and I have been cooking some fabulous meals over the past four weeks, possibly the best we’ve cooked ever! I posted links to some tasty seasonal dishes in my Christmas recap, so we’ll take a different direction here and talk a little about a cool pick me up after a warm winter meal…cranberry sorbet!

I first made this frosty treat in November when we had our good friends Tim & Seema over for dinner. I found the recipe in Bon Appetit magazine and paired it with a delicious molten chocolate cake. This spunky little sorbet marries the best taste of the season, tart cranberries, with the smooth, creamy goodness of vanilla bean and just enough lemon juice to tone down the sweet. It’s the perfect end to a winter dinner with just the right amount of holiday flair.

Jimmy’s been craving this sorbet for nearly two months now. We considered making it for Christmas, but couldn’t imagine cutting any of our other desserts, and four would have just been overkill, right?

I stocked up on vanilla beans at Fresh and Easy before we moved up here (they sell jars of two for only $3.99…and of course, Reno is lagging on opening this great little grocery chain) so all we needed to buy to make this incredible sorbet was a bag of fresh cranberries.

It takes about 15 minutes to cook the ingredients and then the mixture needs to cool for 4 hours before putting it in the ice cream maker, so make sure you start early if you plan to serve it the same day. But trust me, it’s well worth the wait! I think we need to stock up on fresh cranberries and freeze them so we can have this all year long!

Ingredients

  • 1 12-ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries (about 3 cups)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Preparation

  • Combine cranberries, 2 1/2 cups water, sugar, and coarse salt in large heavy saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean. Add bean to mixture and bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low; simmer until cranberries pop and are soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
  • Remove vanilla bean from cranberry mixture. Working in batches, puree cranberry mixture in blender. Strain into large bowl; discard solids. Stir in lemon juice. Refrigerate cranberry mixture until well chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • Transfer cranberry mixture to ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer sorbet to container; cover and freeze.

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