Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Food From the Weekend: And Penny's Story

Right on cue, mother nature brought the warm weather (finally) for the first week of summer! Unfortunately I had to spend Saturday at work, but at least Adam bought me these delicious dark chocolate peanut better cups to make the day a little bit better. OMG. New obsession. In love with them.

Justin's Peanut Butter Cups
{Justin's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups}

We took full advantage of Sunday, even waking up in the morning to take Adam to his first ever yoga class! His response: it was hot. (The class I do is in a 90 degree heated room.) I haven't been to yoga in well over 8 months or more and this class kicked my butt. After yoga we enjoyed a healthy Irish breakfast, which was quickly followed up with a  burger and a beer at another Irish pub a couple hours later. Yoga makes you hungry.

Irish breakfast
{Boxty at KC Branaghan's}

After stuffing ourselves we took Penny on a nice long walk and a little trip to the dog beach. We rarely go to the dog beach because of Penny's social awkwardness, but she's been doing a lot better lately so we decided to go for it. And.... she was a perfect angel! Which made me so happy because when we were thinking about getting a dog, one of the things I looked forward to doing with my dog was going to the dog beach. One year later, and we are finally able to do just that. 

dog beach
{Penny and Adam at the Dog Beach}

This little trip to the dog beach was sentimental for us, or at least me since Adam doesn't get sentimental, because, just one year ago we took Penny on this same walk. But back then she was our foster dog and we had only spent one week with her. I was hoping to get some more time to get to know her before we committed to adoption, but the rescue group was pushing us to make a decision about whether we were keeping her or putting her up for someone else to adopt at their next open adoption. We were completely smitten with our shy 2 year old fur ball - she was sweet, loving, cuddly, and potty trained(!!!), BUT she was exhibiting aggressive behavior towards other dogs. Sigh. That was my one stipulation when rescuing a dog - they had to be able to get along with other dogs. We live in a very dog friendly neighborhood and you can't go for a walk without seeing people with their dogs. Plus I wanted to do things like go to the dog beach, dine on a sidewalk cafe with my pup as other pooches walk by, and my mom has 2 dogs and we visit them often and our dog would need to come with us on these trips. Penny seemed like the perfect dog when we picked her up and she was chilling with 4 other dogs quite content, she was also drugged up from just getting spayed. SO, we quickly learned that interacting with other dogs was not her forte. And that's the nice way of putting it. We were baffled. How could something so pretty, lovable, and cute turn into such a B-I-T-C-H when it came to other dogs? So we decided to take her to the dog beach that first week and see if once she was off leash she would handle interacting with her species a little better. Well we never made it to the dog beach because we encountered so many dogs on the walk there and I lost it because I couldn't control her. Keep in mind she weighs 45 pounds and I swear it's all muscle under that big fluff of fur. The biggest dog I've ever had to control weighed 17 pounds. We abandoned our trip to the dog beach and walked home in despair as we came to the conclusion that we just couldn't handle this dog and maybe our home and neighborhood wasn't the best one for her. We even went as far as to email the rescue group to let them know we would be giving her up for adoption the following day. As a cried, drank wine, and cuddled with my baby for the last time, we got an email back from the rescue group urging us to reconsider and try helpful tools like the gentle leader. That was all I needed. I was back on board with keeping our bundle of fur and love. Turns out it was one of the best decisions we have ever made. But let me tell you it took a lot more than a gentle leader to break Penny of her habits. It took TIME, EFFORT, and lots of money spent on a good trainer. But most of all I think time, stability, and consistency with commands is what helped the most. 

When we first got Penny and I would run into other dog owners as I dragged my snarling sweetheart away from their dog, leaving a trail of "I'm sorry she's a rescue" in my wake, they would say to me (if they had a rescue too) "Give it a year, she'll be a different dog." I was skeptical. Could that actually be true? Turns out - IT IS. 

So, if you are ever thinking about rescuing, be prepared to put in the time, effort, and love. It's so worth it. And if you are having problems, just remember - in a year he / she will be a different dog. This is especially true if you adopt an adult dog since they are the ones that often will have socialization or behavioral issues that they will need your help to overcome. But remember they CAN overcome them! 

To celebrate a year with our fur baby we fed Penny dog food and treats and made ourselves a nice juicy steak. And yes, Adam may have slipped Penny some scraps.

{Steak with blue cheese and mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and veggies}

Peace, Love, Rescue Dogs, and Happiness!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Flourless Zucchini Brownies and Photo Mishaps

This post was meant for Monday. Or Tuesday. Or Wednesday. Heck, or even Thursday. But here it is halfway through the day on  Friday.

Happy Friday!!!

The reason why it took so long, besides my insane schedule, is because I was still smarting from the loss of all my photos of the hard work I did over the weekend in the kitchen. I destroyed my kitchen as a furiously prepared and roasted a chicken, wiped down the counters, washed dishes, and moved on to cut veggies and make brownies. Flourless. Zucchini. Brownies. And then after all that was said and done what did I have to show for it? Well, the food of course. But does that really matter if you (the reader) can't see it? No, it's like I made imaginary food. Damn it.

{Kitchen Mess}

So what happened? Don't worry, I'm going to tell you.

While trying to make some adjustments on my camera to take the final photos of my Flourless Zucchini Brownies, I found myself in the "format card" section of the menu. The camera diligently reminded me that if I choose to format I will lose all my photos. Well, of course I don't want to do that, I think to myself. AND THEN... I pressed "ok" instead of "cancel." What the what! So I used my trusty iphone to snap a photo of the brownies and debated whether or not I would post about them. Posting finally won. As you can see.

flourless brownies

Now keep in mind, these brownies aren't going to taste like your traditional brownies. I mean, come on, there is no flour and minimal sugar. We don't live in a magical world here, people, where healthy brownies taste JUST like gooey sugary buttery brownies. (When you find that world please send me an invite.) BUT, for a healthy (and protein packed) treat these are great! AND they just might satisfy your brownie cravings. I adapted these brownies from Delighted Momma's recipe of the same name. She's got a lot of great recipes on her site that fall into the category of "Paleo." My CrossFit Coach would be so proud!

Flourless Zucchini Brownies
adapted from Delighted Momma


1 1/4 cup finely grated zucchini (I use a cheese grater) 
1 1/4 cup salted almond butter
1/4 cup raw honey (use 1/3 cup if you like things sweeter, these aren't very sweet)
1/2 teaspoon stevia (optional)
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate bar
1 egg
dash salt


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grate zucchini and place in a paper towel. Squeeze the zucchini in the paper towel to remove the excess water. 
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Making sure they all combine nicely.
Line a 9x9 pan with parchment paper. Spray parchment paper lightly with canola spray oil.
Place batter in pan and smooth down using a rubber spatula. 
Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Do not over bake or they will become cake like and dry.

I have to say I was surprised with how these came out. They were a consistency somewhere between brownie and cake and I was shocked that that texture could come out of the ingredients that were used. 

Also, they are quite yummy. Enjoy!

Peace, Love, Treats, and Happiness!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Food From the Weekend: Lots of Food!

This weekend I decided to throw all my responsibilities to the wind (and Adam) and JUST have fun. And of course, having fun for me involves food. I basically ate every meal at a restaurant this weekend! I haven't done that in a long time. My friend, Brandi, came down to visit and we spent the day bike riding, enjoying the view, beer, and some snacks at Belmont Brewing Co, eating a cheese plate and wedding crafting, and finally a nice dinner at Open Sesame which I was very excited about because Adam never wants to go there with me. Sunday I went to a birthday brunch for my friend Haley at McKenna's on the Bay, and enjoyed some drinks at a friends house after. Adam was the best fiancĂ© EVER and cleaned out the side yard, fixed the BBQ, and even attempted to go grocery shopping. I say attempted because I only ended up with half the things on my list and I'm pretty sure I'll need to go my the store tonight to get the rest of the food I need for the week. But it was very nice of him to try.

Here are some iphone and instagram pics from the weekend:

garbanzo cookies
{Testing out a Garbanzo Bean Cookie Recipe - it's not quite perfect just yet}

{Fries for Breakfast after CrossFit. Bad Adam and Michelle}

La Creperie
{Breakfast at La Creperie}

Belmont Brewing Co
{The View at Belmont Brewing Co}

tuna poke
{Ahi Tuna Poke at BBC}

Belmont Brewing
{Pesto Brie Plate at BBC}

wedding crafting
{Wedding Crafting, Mimosas and Cheese Plate}

wheaten terrier
{Penny Wants Cheese}

open sesame
{Filet Kabob at Open Sesame}

{Salmon Sashimi at McKenna's on the Bay}

{Yummy Drinks}

{Phew, I'm exhaused! What a weekend!}

Peace, love, weekends, and happiness!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Individual Summer Fruit Crumbles

Summertime! Summertime! Summertime! 

Imagine me running around the house singing that in a slightly, ok very offpitch, singsong. Why do you ask, am I happy enough to annoy the neighbors, make Adam leave the house, and the dog cover her ears with her paws? Becaaauuussse, besides, sun, fun, beer, beach days, and bbq's, summertime means strawberries! And rhubarb! And nectarines! And that means Summer Fruit Crumbles!

summer fruit
{Fruit with the Fixings}

Ok, ok so I act like I make this crumble thingy every summer or something. Well, I don't. This is my first time actually. BUT I think about making them every summer! So there. And I stare longingly at the stalks of rhubarb in the grocery store every year, once even venturing to use them in this pie. So when I snuck some stalks in our grocery cart this weekend and Adam eyed me warily asking when in the world would I ever use those, I knew I HAD to make something with them. Fast. 


Hello, summer fruit crumbles! We all know that strawberry and rhubarb are a classic summer combo, but why stop there? Nectarines and peaches are in season and they look, smell, and taste delicious! I opted for nectarines in this recipe, but you could easily use peaches instead or use both.

strawberry crumble

Since rhubarb is tart and mellows the sweetness of the strawberries and nectarines, I added a little sugar to the fruit mix. But since I'm not big on sweet sweet desserts, and I really wanted the fruit to stand out, I only added a minimal amount. If you like things on the sweeter side feel free to up the sugar in the recipe. 

strawberry rhubarb crumble

The crumble is a simple mix of butter, flour, oats, sugar, and flavoring. Some finely chopped nuts would also be a nice addition. I wanted my crumble crunchy but still a little doughy. I think I found a nice balance with the use of oats and flour with a little turbinado sugar for added crunch.

strawberry rhubarb crumble

Individual Summer Fruit Crumbles
4 individual servings


1 large stalk rhubarb (about 1/2 cup)
about 1 cup sliced strawberries
1 nectarine, skins removed, diced
1/2 Tbls cornstarch
pinch of salt
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
2 Tbls brown sugar

1/2 stick butter - melted
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup plus 3 Tbls flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tbls turbinado sugar
1 Tbls brown sugar


- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Cut all the fruit and place in bowl. Sprinkle with cornstarch, salt, lemon juice, and brown sugar. Mix together. Divide fruit among 4 individual ramekins.
- In another bowl melt the butter. Add the oats, flour, baking powder, vanilla, turbinado sugar, and brown sugar. Mix together until moist clumps form. 
- Divide topping among the ramekins. Cook for approx 25 minutes until topping is golden and fruit is bubbly. 
- Enjoy warm or cold. Share if you can. :)

Peace, Love, Summer Desserts, and Happiness!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wedding Progress: The Fun Parts!

Most days I love planning a wedding, in fact I'm sad that it is flying by so quickly! 131 days to go! Yesterday I complained about buying a wedding dress and feeling like I'm falling into the trap that is the wedding business, so today I want to share some of my favorite moments of wedding planning.

I really wanted the Save the Dates to be special since it is the first representation of the wedding that  my guests will see. I worked with the fabulous Ginger of Serendipity Beyond Design to make these amazing postcards. We are considering our wedding a mini destination wedding of sorts since we live in California, as do most of our guests, and we are having the wedding in Lake Havasu, Arizona. I wanted guests to get an idea of how beautiful the place they will be traveling to is, so I opted to show off our location rather than the traditional engagement photo save the date. (Also we didn't have our engagement photos done by the time we needed to send out the save the date.) All the images used on the post card are either vintage or modern day photos of Lake Havasu. It was really fun to work on and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. 

vintage postcard
{Serendipity Beyond Design Save the Date}

Taking engagement photos was romantic and memorable. Despite Adam's often awkwardness in front of the camera, he played along and honestly he looks the best in almost every photo. Turns
 out I'm the awkward one! I'm lucky to be marrying such a handsome man :) And I'm not just saying that because he reads my blog, because he doesn't. He needs to work on that.

blossom blue photography

Picking out bridesmaid dresses was STRESSFUL, I obsessed and re-evaluate every decision I made for days on end. I made different inspiration boards for every option I came up with. Finally it came down to that I wanted coral dresses, but I didn't like any of the coral colors that bridesmaid dress manufacturers had to offer. Also the thought having 7 people all in the same shade of coral made be a little, well, nauseated. I like pink as much as the next girl but I never thought any color close to pink would come within 100 miles of my wedding. But here I am, doing coral, sage green, and gold as my wedding colors and I couldn't be happier. The thing I love about coral is that there is no correct shade of it, it varies and that is what draws me to the color. So, I saw this photo on The Sweetest Occasion and knew that was what I needed to do. It's been fun letting the girls pick out their own dresses and seeing what they come up with, even for a control freak like myself! I'm excited for the range of colors and styles and the eclectic look that the wedding party will have. Plus it makes the whole wedding seem a bit less formal, and that I like. 

coral bridesmaid dress
{Photo from The Sweetest Occasion}

Visiting the wedding venue after booking it. It was so exciting to meet with the on site coordinator and go over details and mainly just be awed by the beauty that is our wedding venue! 

refuge golf

Dessert! Cake tasting! Looking at photos of fabulous cakes like this one from Sweetapolita was most definitely fun. I knew from the get go that I didn't want a traditional wedding cake so I started perusing pinterest for pretty desserts to build my dessert bar. I fell in love with the simple ruffles on this cake and of course the color. Although, I'll probably go with white ruffles and strawberry cake so when you cut into the cake you can see pretty pink! 

pink wedding cake
{Photo from Sweetapolita}

I was surprised by how much fun I had working on the flowers. Possibly my favorite part of planning so far. My florist is amazing and so much fun to work with. I'm using succulents in my bouquets and in the centerpieces. They fit with the Arizona theme and I can make the centerpieces ahead of time and the succulents will hold up. This picture from Style Me Pretty is the inspiration for my bouquet. I love the loose look of it and the succulents and celosia. My flowers will be various shades of coral. I can't wait to see the finished product!!

succulent wedding bouquet

So all in all wedding planning has been quite fun! What do you look most forward to or what was your favorite part of wedding planning?

Peace, Love, Weddings, and Happiness!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Food From the Weekend: In iphone and instagram photos

This weekend was a lot of fun and actually very productive! We had a nice BBQ dinner on Friday night (and I convinced Adam to share a plate which was still too much food!), went to a beer tasting at Taps Fish House and Brewery on Saturday, returned some items from my online shopping habit at the mall, took a nap, bought and cooked fresh fish from a new fish market and restaurant just a few blocks from our house, finished season 2 of Friday Night Lights, cleaned the house on Sunday, grocery shopped...kinda, baked a summer fruit crumble, and hung out with friends and did some wedding crafting!

naples rib comapny

{Bourbon Barrel Aged Beer Tasting}

{Remy Tasting}


zucchini side dish
{Fish from Roe and Zucchini with Almonds}

{Summer Fruit Crumble - Recipe coming this week!}

wedding DIY
{Wedding Crafting - Flags to be Strung}

I also went in for alterations on my wedding dress.... and I have to say the whole wedding dress thing has been a bit on the stressful side. Everybody tells me it is suppose to be so much fun.... but I haven't found that to be the case. Don't get me wrong I love my dress (except for the 2 hours of obsessive second guessing I had on Saturday night), but every time I go into the bridal shop to try on / purchase / alter / my dress I am reminded of how weddings are such a big BUSINESS and I start to feel like everything associated with a wedding comes with an exorbitant marked up price tag just because it is for a WEDDING. But I only feel this way when I'm at the bridal shop. Does anybody else have this problem? How was your wedding dress experience?

Peace, Love, Weekends, and Happiness!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Memorial Day Strawberry Dessert: Year 3

I mentioned last week that every Memorial Day I make some kind of strawberry dessert for my mom's birthday. The first year I tackled my very first (and only) pie. The next year I made a somewhat simple and incredibly tasty summer strawberry cake. This year EASY was the name of the game. I guess that happens when you start planning a wedding, you figure out how to streamline everything else in life so you can get by with your sanity somewhat in tack.


I used Yummy Mummy's Balsamic Strawberry Crostata with Mascarpone Cream recipe, but made a few tweaks. I didn't use balsamic vinegar and instead used 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar and a squeeze (about a tablespoon) of fresh lemon juice. I used Trader Joe's pie dough and brused it with butter and sprinkled the whole thing with raw sugar before popping it in the oven. 

strawberry pie

strawberry crostata

I also added about more strawberries than the Yummy Mummy recipe. She calls for about 2 cups and I pushed it to almost 3 cups. That may be where I went wrong. That or I didn't dry the strawberries enough after washing them. 

Because I ended up with a bleeding pie. There was A LOT of juice seeping out of that thing. Next time I'm going to add at least a teaspoon of corn starch to hopefully thicken up those juices. Oh, and I'll DRY the damn strawberries more throughly. 

easy strawberry pie

After we tried to get this beautiful crostata out of its sticky puddle and failed, I was about ready to throw the whole thing away. But I licked my wounds, and my fingers, and decided not to. Mainly because my mom wouldn't let me. Good thing too, because it was truly delicious! The juicy-ness of this baby made it impossible to get off the parchment paper so we just cut the parchment around the crostata and then cut it up and served it! It wasn't the most glamourous presentation but the taste was there. I also made mascarpone whip cream to serve with it - which really elevated it to a whole 'nother level. Too bad I didn't get pics of the cream to elevate the photos to another level! You'll have to use your imagination. 

If you make this please leave a comment to let me know how it turns out for you!

On a side note: Memorial Day Weekend was extra special this year because it marked one year with our fur baby! Which means Penny turned 4 years old! When we got her the vet said she was anywhere from 2 to 3, but since she is so mellow we just couldn't believe she was as young as 2, so we decided she was 3 years old when we got her. 

Isn't she such a cutie? Happy birthday Penny Monkey!


Peace, love, holiday weekends, and happiness!