Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Where to Eat Wednesday: Lobster Lovin'

Where to Eat Wednesday: Food Trucks Edition! I've been feeling a little sad that I'm not on the road filming "The Great Food Truck Race" for Food Network like I was the last 2 years in April / May. It's nice to be home with the fiancĂ© and fur baby, but seeing all my friends post these great photos as they road trip across the country with the show makes me a little sad. Then I think about the 12-16 hour days and get a little less sad. But in honor of my comrades out there slaving away to make good TV, I decided to eat some food truck food. Here's to you, my friends!


I've been wanting to try Cousins Maine Lobster, because come on, what better place to get lobster from than a food truck! All joking aside, they had been by my office a few weeks earlier and everybody raved about them. So when they rolled up again, I rushed outside, along with half of my office, and ordered up a $13 lobster roll. 

For the lobster rolls there are two options: Maine and Connecticut. Maine style is served cold and with mayonnaise. Connecticut is served warm and drizzled with butter and lemon juice. I picked Connecticut because I'm obsessed with hot food. Cold food just doesn't cut it for me. What's the point? Really? I need something warm in my belly to feel like I've eaten a meal. Everything else will be disregarded by my belly and brain as some kind of boring snack. 

{Connecticut Style Lobster Roll}

There was a lot of lobster on this bad boy and it was delicious. I would have liked a wedge of lemon on the side, but I'm willing to forgive them. Strangely, the highlight of this sammy, for me, was the buttery toasty bread. 

Oh bread, how I love you, dream about you, want to lick you. 

Oh, sorry. You're still here. Got lost in my own little world. I've cut most bread out of my diet, so when I get to have it, and by "get to" I mean "when I cheat," I tend to focus only on the bread and not what is in between it. Even if it's lobster in there. 

BUT, back to the Lobster Roll. It was good. Very good. With lots of Lobster. I recommend hitting up the Cousin's truck the next time you see them on the streets in Los Angeles. And let me know how the lobster bisque is!

Peace, Love, Lobster (or bread), and Happiness!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!

I love Memorial Day because to me it really marks the beginning of summer, but apparently mother nature missed the memo this year! When I woke up it was raining. R-A-I-N-I-N-G. In Long Beach. Southern CALIFORNIA. Crazy, huh? That's why, like every year, we're escaping to the hot hot heat (read: 105 degree temperatures) of Lake Havasu, AZ.

And like every year, we will be celebrating my mom's birthday with an annual homemade strawberry dessert. Strawberries just scream summer to me! The last 2 years I had just finished up a job and had the few days leading up to Memorial Day Weekend off, so I had plenty of time to invest in creating a Smitten Kitchen Strawberry Rhubarb Pie and a Smitten Kitchen Strawberry Summer Cake. This year, I had to come in early and stay late to make up the hours for the half day I will be taking today so we can drive to Havasu and get there before 3:30am (which is what time we got there 2 weekends ago). Although, who knows what will happen with leaving LA traffic! So, because of that reason, I will be going a much simpler route - a Strawberry Crostata. And, dare I say it, I'm using pre-made pie dough. I can hear the sounds of all you readers logging off right now, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to get dessert on the table!

Since I will be making my dessert with my mom over the weekend, I will be leaving you with a round-up of strawberry recipes from around the Internet in honor of Memorial Day!

This gorgeous Balsamic Strawberry Crostata with Mascarpone Cream and Pistachios from Yummy Mummy will be what I base my crostata off of this weekend.

{photo from Yummy Mummy}

This would be perfect for the hot hot heat of Havasu - a delicious Frozen Strawberry and Cream Dessert from Pip and Ebby.

{photo from Pip and Ebby}

This cake is a DREAM. And it will be a dream come true if someone makes it for me. Hint. Hint. :) Neapolitan Rose Cake from I am Baker.

{photo from I am Baker}

And if you can't get strawberries off your mind and want to carry your strawberry decadence into breakfast, these Chocolate Covered Strawberry Pancakes from my friend at Desserts For Two look to DIE for.

{photo from Desserts For Two}

Happy Memorial Day! Hope you have a great weekend!

Peace, Love, Strawberries, and Happiness!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Enchiladas and Engagement Party

Besides both starting with an 'E' these two subjects don't actually have anything to do with one another. But when given the opportunity to write a post about both Enchiladas AND Engagement Parties, I'm going to take it.

{Jello Shots out of a Bowl! (from the Engagement Party)}

But before we get to the Engagement party, let's start with the enchiladas, shall we?
You know how I said I was DETERMINED to make enchiladas last week? Well I did. They just weren't that great. I think it's because I poured the sauce over them the night before and cooked them the next morning which made them more like chicken, cheesy mush. Adam liked them though. Honestly, they were very tasty. Just not post worthy. The sad part is, I actually (for once) took some nice pictures of them.



Natural light really does make a difference. Too bad I do all my cooking at 9pm at night when I get home from work. Which brings up another topic... why I haven't been blogging or cooking lately. I'm exhausted. I feel like I'm running constantly and I never have time to stop. There are not enough hours in the day to do the things I NEED to do and definitely not enough to even think about doing the things I WANT to do (like relax and sleep). Sure, a lot of it has to do with planning a wedding. But most of it is commuting and work. I just don't know how other bloggers that work full time jobs do it! I admire you greatly. It really doesn't help that I commute anywhere from 2 to 3 hours a day. And that I work in an industry where leaving work at the early hour of 7:30pm is generally frowned upon, granted I do get in at 10am. If you haven't stopped reading already, I'll stop whining now, after I make my point. My point is that my schedule simply isn't allowing me to cook and blog consistently right now. Which makes me sad. But I hope you'll stick with me and enjoy my random wedding posts and the occasional posts about what I've been eating lately - mainly chicken and vegetables. Bleh.


Finally, pics and some DIY's from my ENGAGEMENT PARTY!

My main DIY project was the streamer backdrop for the "photo booth." I'm really excited about how this turned out and it will double as the backdrop to the dessert table for the wedding. It will total 10 feet long for behind the dessert table, but for the engagement party we only made the first 5 feet. For some reason the green streamers didn't show up well in the photos from the engagement party. Hmmm. I resisted the urge to overly fluff up the fringes for the engagement party since it needs to be rolled back up and transported to the wedding. 

{Streamer Back Drop}

The streamer backdrop idea comes from Rachel over at Heart of Light. She's my blog crush and a true inspiration. Her wedding was beautiful and I admire her creative perfection. 100 Layer Cake, another favorite of mine, has her wonderful tutorial to making this backdrop. All it takes is crepe paper FOLDS instead of rolls to make the fringy streamers, a wooden dowel, some scissors and hot glue. If you want to make your own colorful backdrop check out the tutorial and read my own tutorial and tips below!

Some tips to keep in mind that I learned while making my backdrop. 

1. The more colors the better, but that could be a matter of personal taste. I thought I had a lot of color but once they were hanging they tended to blend together.
2. If you want really fluffy, fringy streamers make sure you cut your crepe paper strips pretty wide. I started cutting thin strips for some reason and they broke easily when I tried to fluff out the fringe. Wider streamers = more fluffy fringe. 
3. My mom wanted to approach the color pattern in a systematic matter. We quickly learned that a somewhat random pattern works best. Just make sure not to put too many oranges next to orange, etc.
4. Hot glue burns.
5. Rolling this up and unrolling it is doable, but not as easy as we hoped. Possibly because we layered streamers on both sides of the dowel instead of sticking to a front side only. I would stick to glueing streamer on to one side only. 

Here is what it took for 2 5ft backdrops:

- 2 5ft wooden dowels (Home Depot) - $6
- 4 eye bolts (Home Depot) - $3
- 3 packs of 5 colors of crepe paper folds from the Crepe Paper Store - $27 with shipping
- 4 rolls of regular crepe paper streamers - approx $6
- Glue gun and glue sticks (since I didn't already own one) - $18
optional metallic fringe  2 - 3feet panels can be cut up and spaced along the 10 ft back drop - $20 with shipping or around $16 at a party supply store

Total: $80 if you don't own a glue gun 
          $62 if you already own a glue gun
          $42 with no gold fringe and if you already own a glue gun

I would say I had just the right amount of crepe paper for 10 feet. If I had to do it again, I might add one more pack of each color to be on the safe side. Especially since the crepe paper folds are just over a $1 each. It's the shipping that gets ya. 

STEP ONE: Gather your supplies.
STEP TWO: Leaving the crepe paper folds folded, cut them into 3 to 4 inch sections. Then, still leaving them folded, cut fringe along the edge of the fold towards the center but leaving space in the center. Turn the fold around and cut fringe along the other side not cutting all the way through and  leaving space in the center. Separate colors into piles. Cut the regular streamers into 8 ft long strips.
STEP THREE: Screw the eye bolt into each end of your wooden dowel.
STEP FOUR: Using string or twine hang the wooden dowel somewhere secure about 5 to 8 feet high. Your streamers will hang down to about 8 feet.
STEP FIVE: Using a chair or step stool, position yourself at one end of the dowel and with the hot glue gun in close reach. Grap a streamer, unroll it and place some glue on the end of it. Carefully press it onto the wooden dowel. CAREFUL! The glue will be hot even through the thin streamer, use gloves, a rag, magical abilities, or caution.
STEP SIX: Continue in this manner, placing streamers close together in whatever pattern or non pattern you want to use. Sprinkle some regular streamers among the fringy ones.
STEP SEVEN: Use you hands to fluff out the fringe. Admire your handy work. If need be, carefully roll up the streamers starting from the top with the wooden dowel for transport or storage.

**Use twine or strong fishing wiring to hang your backdrop**

For the photo booth I set out a mini polaroid camera and a mason jar with props and some goofy sunglasses. The mustache, lips, and bowtie props were easy to make. I just traced shapes onto posterboard, cut them out and glued them to mini wooden dowels. The lips I freehanded, but the mustaches I traced off a template.

photo booth props
{Photo Booth Props}

{Mini Polaroid}

My next DIY project was my succulent centerpieces. Succulents are making a major appearance at the wedding since we are having it in Arizona and they are hearty and the centerpieces can be made weeks ahead of time.

succulent centerpieces


They came together really nicely and were cheap since I borrowed the glass vases from a friend. The only bummer was I had to replant them afterwards so I could return the vases, but now I have a beautiful succulent garden on my back patio. The wedding centerpieces will be similar to these but in larger shallow glass bowls that my florist will add flowers to on the day of. 

I think I had close to 15 glass pieces with succulents for the engagement party in varying sizes. I spent about $35 on succulents, $2 on sand, and $4 on rocks from the dollar store. Done and done. 

The rest was just simple touches. I decorated mason jars with colorful bakers twine and tied on kraft paper tags and added different colored paper straws. We made sangria and people kept track of their glass by writing their name on the tag. We layered colorful plastic tablecloths over the tables and placed my photo albums that I make for me and Adam each year out for people to browse through. Adam's lovely mother and stepfather hosted the event and had it catered by a delicious taco truck. My friends made three flavors of cupcakes - strawberry, orange, and lemon - for dessert. And we had lots and lots of beer. We played hillbilly horseshoes and my mom did a little engagement game. I asked my last bridesmaid to be in the wedding and she cried. I love each and everyone of my bridesmaids so much, and can't thank them enough for all their help!

mason jars
{Mason Jars}


The very best part of the whole event was getting to see so many people! It was so nice to have so many loved ones come together and celebrate with us. My maid of honor flew down from San Francisco to surprise me, and a great group of friends from elementary school showed up. Adam's grandfather sang to us and one of his groomsman made a very sweet speech. The outpouring of love was amazing and overwhelming. I can't imagine what the wedding is going to be like!

{Me and Crystal, MOH}

{Girls from Elementary School!}

{The one photo I have of my Bridesmaids! (the ones that were able to attend)}

 Thank you to everyone for making that day so special!

Peace, Love, Parties, and Happiness!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Havasu! (Wedding Progress)

Heading to Havasu this weekend to do lots and lots of wedding stuff! We need to meet with the venue and go over details, take measurements, and overall just figure stuff out. We are also meeting with the DJ, the florist, possibly the wedding photographers, and hopefully finding an officiant. I need to make a wedding binder to keep track of all this stuff! Happy Friday! Here are some photos from our last Havasu trip in March.

{Excited to see these Cuties}

{Excited to Spend Mother's Day with Momma}

havasu hiking
{Hiking in March}

{On top of a Mountain!}

{Golfing at our Wedding Venue, Refuge Golf and Country Club}

In other news, I'm determined to make a new enchilada recipe next week. DETERMINED.

Peace, Love, Weekends, and Happiness!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cooking Without a Recipe: Sunday Dinner

Sunday dinners are the best. And sometimes the worst if you're Adam and you have to do the dishes. Most of the time Sunday is a time for me to try out a recipe that requires more time and energy than I have to give on the weekdays. But life has been so busy lately, particularly the weekends, that all I wanted to do on Sunday was NOTHING. Literally nothing. I wanted to watch episodes of Friday Night Lights with breakfast if I felt like it, take a nap if I felt like it, sit on the couch doing nothing cuddling the dog if I felt like, and most of all not leave the house, unless I felt like it. Well, that didn't happen. Adam made me run errands, which, to his credit, probably needed to be done desperately. Wonderfully fun things like, wash the dog, go to Staples, go to the grocery store, stop at Rite-Aid to pick up things that we forgot to get at the grocery store, go to the bank, and drive to the movie theater TWICE to try to see The Avengers only to find that the first time we couldn't find parking and we were already late and the second time they were sold out. (We've really got to get hip with buying our tickets online and planning ahead.) And there went my whole morning and afternoon. I had a lot of food prep to do for the upcoming week on, so dinner had to be a quick affair in order for me to get in my precious sitting on the couch cuddling with the dog watching Friday Night Lights time. Which means Adam broke out the BBQ and got to grilling. We've found that a nice good cut of Top Sirloin from the butcher seasoned with a healthy sprinkle of Santa Maria style seasoning makes a mean steak. And by "mean" I mean fan-freaking-tastic. Adam picked up 2 steaks weighing in at 1.64 pounds for the TWO of us! I wish I could say I finished mine, but I had to save some for lunch today. I know, I'm disappointed with myself also. But it was a big piece of steak.

{sigh, I've really got to get better at taking pictures in a hurry}

This dinner was super easy and was better than going out to a steak house! This is the second time in two weeks we've made this dinner. For a veggie side, I cut up some some onions, bell peppers, and zucchini, and seasoned them with olive oil, season salt, and garlic. Adam threw those on the vegetable grill grate starting with the peppers and onions and adding the zucchini a little later since they cook faster. To make quick mashed sweet potatoes I microwaved two medium sweet potatoes for 10 minutes then wrapped them in foil and finished them in a 350ish  degree oven for 10 more minutes. Once soft, I scooped out the flesh and added roughly 1/4 cup greek yogurt (2%), a drizzle of honey, salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste. Mashed sweet potatoes are one of my favorite and easiest side dishes, in fact I just love sweet potatoes all together. And Adam has grown to love them too! He used to think sweet potatoes were too sweet for something passing as a potato, but since I refused to stop serving them he got to use to it and now really likes them!

There is one thing didn't make it into the photo, but happens to be my favorite part about steak night - Garlic Mushrooms!

The reason why these mushrooms look so sparse in that big pan - I have to make a single serving, because no matter how hard I try Adam will not get on the mushroom madness train. Because of that I pretty much gave up mushrooms for a year and then realized I can make them just for little ol' me! Also, my small cast iron pan rusted! Any tips on how to fix it?

These are super simple. I just heat up some olive oil and butter in a hot cast iron skillet. Throw the mushrooms in, brown them up a little bit, then throw some chopped garlic in and pop them into a hot oven somewhere between 350 and 400 for 10 - 15 minutes. These are great for a steak topper or even to fancy up some grilled chicken! If you want a more gussied up version of these, check out Bev Cook's Tapas Style Mushrooms. I'm holding out on those until I have someone to share them with. 

Perfect Sunday night dinner. And I got to watch THREE episodes of Friday Night Lights! Sigh, happiness. Back to wedding planning next weekend!

Quick Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Serves 2 (in my house)

2 medium sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup greek yogurt (or you could use regular milk or coconut milk)
teaspoon of honey (less or more to taste)
salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste 

Preheat oven to 350 - 400 (depending on if you are cooking anything else in the oven). Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork. Microwave two medium sweet potatoes for 10 minutes. 

Wrap them in foil and finished them in the oven for 10 more minutes or until soft. 

Once soft, scoop out the flesh and add roughly 1/4 cup greek yogurt, a drizzle of honey, salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste. Mix / Smash. If using milk or coconut milk start with 1 tablespoon at a time and add more to reach consistency and taste you desire. 

Peace, Love, Sunday dinners, and Happiness!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Life and Wedding Planning in iphone Photos

Wow, life has been super busy. Like insane. I guess I knew this would happen when I decided to plan a wedding in 7 months and then on top of that decided to throw an engagement party together in 4 weeks. All while working 50 hours a week, commuting anywhere from 2 hours to 3 hours a day, cooking healthy meals for me and the fiancé, walking the dog, and doing Crossfit. I'm not complaining, I wouldn't change anything, it's just been... challenging. But, it's also been fun! Here is a little look into life lately told through my iphone photos.

{Mimosas in San Francisco with my Maids of Honor}

{Photobooth in San Francisco with my Maids of Honor}

{A Mess of Mexican food at The Little Chihuahua After a Day of Drinking in Rainy SF}

{The Cutest Soda Bar Attendant and the Best Root Beer Float Ever at The Ice Cream Bar in SF}

{Root Beer Flavored Toasted Homemade Marshmallow}

{Fancy Martini at Kelly's of Naples, across the street from our house}

{A Delicious and Insanely Messy Burger at Kelly's of Naples}

{Flower Browsing for the Wedding}

{The Cutest Pup Ever Running Errands with Us}

{Succulent Browsing for the Wedding}

{Morning Walk / Runs in Long Beach}

{Dress Shopping *neither of these were purchased for the wedding}

{Nom Nom Banh Mi Break}

{Engagement Party Centerpieces}

{Photo Booth Props}

The projects I took on, the centerpieces, streamer backdrop, photo booth props, turned out well and were very worth the time! The engagement party was like a nice little rehearsal and allowed me to try my hand at DIY projects and time management when it comes to crafting. It gave me a better idea of what I can and can't do for the wedding, and it gave me an appreciation for DIY projects. I WANT homemade decorations and touches at my wedding / reception and now I realize that I CAN do it! Yippee!

Peace, love, weddings, and happiness!
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