Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Letters

Dear Jamie,
I love you so much and cannot wait to spend the week with you. Buy lots of coffee, and wine! :) So excited for our San Diego outtings we have planned.

Dear Southwest,
I am a nervous flier, so please try to keep it a smooth flight for tomorrow as I head to San Diego. Also, I would like a sprite and peanuts please!

Dear gym,
It has been a while since I have visited you and I am sorry. You and I have this love hate relationship. I love to hate you, but love the way you make me feel. I promise next week will be better. I will make an effort.

Dear pups,
I will miss snuggling with you while I am away. I know it will be hard on you since you havent been left alone all day now that I work from home, but behave and try not to destroy the house!


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Details Make a House a Home

It has been 3 weeks since we got the keys to our house! It has been full of lots of projects, hard work, and nothing but joy in all of it! For those of you who didn't read it, I posted some of my inspirations and ideas a few weeks ago of projects I wanted to do.

I love details; I feel like all the details are what make a house a home. Personalized touches that make your house uniquely yours. I just wanted to share with you some of my favorite details in my new home!!!

My entry way! I have always wanted a cozy and inviting entry way. I blogged about a picture that inspired this in the link above. The shelf in the original picture was pottery barn and hundreds of dollars! Instead, we went to home depot and got 2, 6 foot long boards, molding for the edges, white paint and hooks. We built the whole shelf for under $30! I still want to play with decor for it, but I love the shelf and its super sturdy so all my guests can hang their coats and purses with no fear of falling! The bench will be perfect for little feet one day; walk in, take off shoes and coats...kind of like an entry way/mud room idea.

My dining room is one of the rooms that is uniquely our style, and not for everyone. We had a good friend who is an artist come and mimic Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc pig on our wall. For two foodies, we LOVE our dining room. If nothing else, it has become quite a conversation piece when people come over.

I love our family picture wall down our hallway. I have pictures of us both as babies, our families, travel we have done, etc. It is full of all the people we love and tons of memories. Eventually, I want the pictures to cover the entire wall.
I adore how my office turned out. I work from home so I wanted an office that was going to be calming and comfortable. We have this cute nook that had a built in desk and shelves so we painted the whole thing white to lighten it up. I love butterflies, ( and my sister sent me some beautiful prints she took that I framed and hung up. We took some puddy, and added three coats to flatten the wall from texture. I then painted three coats of chalk board paint over it. We then took some molding, painted it white, and framed the whole area out. I love my chalk board, I think its useful but also adds a lot of character.

What are some of your favorite details of your home?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Greek Quinoa Green Salad

This has become my favorite thing to make lately in different varieties. It is healthy, super easy and quick to make, the flavors are so fun for summer!

What you will need:
1 cup dried Quinoa (cous cous or bulgur wheat; whatever your favorite grain will work)
salad greens

3/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup white vine vinegar
2 tablespoons of tarragon
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
pepper to taste

Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender and blend well. Scrap down the sides as needed to ensure all ingredients are incorporated. Set aside or put in fridge to keep cool.

Combine quinoa with 2 cups of water in a pot and bring to simmer. Cook over low heat till all the water has been absorbed.

Preheat BBQ on low. Slice onions into rounds and slice zucchini in half longwise. Drizzle with olive oil and place on hot BBQ. Cook until little browned and vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and slice into bite size pieces. Mix vegetables with quinoa and salt and pepper to taste. From here, you can serve warm or put in fridge to serve cold. I like a hot salad and my husband likes a cold salad so whatever you choose!

Place a hand full of greens on a plate. Top with quinoa and veggie mixture. Drizzle with your dressing and serve! Easy, healthy, meatless, and fast to prepare! Have fun and play with different veggies. Add some avocado or grilled bell pepper. Let me know what you choose to add to yours!

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The art of cocktailing

To you, what makes a great bar? The drinks, the bartender, the atmosphere? If you had to only have 1 of those three, which would you choose? To me, the bartender makes the bar, and the chances of having a great bartender and comparable drinks are high.

Moving back to Reno has allowed us to go out and rediscover the area. This last weekend we ventured out to some of the newest spots we have heard hype about to check them out for ourselves.

We started at The Public House in mid town Reno. There was plenty of street parking, and since we went earlier in the evening, 7ish, the bar wasen't too crowded. The rustic vibe, wood bar, wood floors, amazing tap list made the whole place feel super fun and casual. We walked up to the far side of the bar and waited for our bartender's attention...for 15 minutes we waited for her attention. Again, did I mention the bar wasen't that crowded? Not even a simple, "Hey I will get to you guys in a minute," or give us a cocktails list to look over while we waited. The girls next to us had a list, so we were able to select our poison from that, but still, bad service. The cocktail list was a really fun list of craft cocktails, and art that is highly underutilized. I selected a "Gypsy Rose" which is gin, grapfruit and bubbles. My husband, the bourbon lover, had a blackberry fizz which is bourbon, egg white, lemon, blackberry, and lavender bitters. All in all, the drinks were amazing! Now if maybe we can get the bartender some help, I would say this place could definitely be frequently visited.

From there, we went up the street a block to the Biggest Little City Club. Immediately walking in the door the bartender greeted us and welcomed us to the bar. My husband was in heaven talking bourbons and whiskeys and bitters and was able to sample and taste different varieties with the bartender. Myself, I couldn't resist a Mick Jagger Mojito on the hot day and was pleasantly surprised with the brown sugar twist to this drink. The bartender was very knowledgeable and fun to chat with. He also informed us of the different bands and shows they bring into the bar; a wide fixture of music from DJs, to rock, to alternative, to Blues. Honestly, I am really excited about this place and to go back for a show one night. I like that they cater to different crowds, something for everyone. My husband and I also got to play a round of darts, where I am sad to report he won, but fun nether the less.

Last stop on our outing was dinner at Mid Town Eats. It was pretty late at this point, but luckily they had a table open so we were able to walk in with no reservations. This bar/restaurant is small but very charming. It has a very eclectic/rustic feel to it and reminds me of some of the cool restaurants we frequented in San Diego. My husband ordered a "Well Off" which is bourbon, lemon juice, pomegranate syrup, cherry syrup, and absinthe bitters. We ordered the bone marrow appetizer served with a toasted baguette. He ordered the pork belly, I had the fish, and we split a bread pudding for the dessert. The food was thoughtful and a good play of flavors. I didn’t get any pictures of the food, but it was worth going back to just to get some for you all :)

The art of making a great drink is making a comeback across the country and in every essence I am a major fan. I am so glad that Reno has some really cool places like these and can’t wait to frequent!

What is your favorite cocktail?


Friday, June 22, 2012

Potato Cheese Soup

My husband has a really bad cold, sick in bed the last two days. When he is sick, he love potato cheese soup, very comforting. This is a family recipe that has never been written down, so I am going to try my best to outline it here for you. This, like most of my recipes, are all estimations so play with it to make it uniquely yours.

Take 6 russet potatoes, peel and wash. You want to roughly cube them and add to empty pot. Once all potatoes have been added to the pot, fill with water JUST TILL potatoes are covered. You will not be draining the water so don't overfill. Put the pot of potatoes on the stove on medium low to slowly boil.

While potatoes are cooking, take about 6 strips of bacon and cube. Add to pan to cook till lightly browned. While bacon is cooking, take 1 whole onion, I prefer yellow, and roughly dice. Once bacon is lightly browned, add diced onion to the bacon pan and cook. Cook down till onion is translucent while not letting the bacon burn. Once cooked, remove from heat and set aside.

Once the pot of potatoes are slightly fluffy and potatoes are cooked through, turn down heat to simmer. 

In a separate pot, melt about 3 tablespoons of butter. Once butter is fully melted, add approximately 2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in to fully incorporate. This part will be estimations and you may need more or less butter to flour. You will be creating a rue or roux; this is a base used to thicken up soups, sauces, or gravies. You can use this cooking technique to get a blond, medium or dark roux base which is created by how long you let your roux cook. For this soup, you just want a blond roux that will be slightly bubbly which is how you know its ready. Consult picture below.
From here, you will add 2 cups of milk to your roux whisking until fully incorporated.
Let simmer slowly, keep stirring as to not let your milk boil. Keep heat on low to medium. After mixture thickens up, about 10 minutes, add 2 to 3 cups of grated cheddar cheese. This is an approximation and based on your taste how much cheese you want to add. Salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the cheese into sauce till fully incorporated. Let simmer for about 5 minutes. From here, take you cheese sauce and pour into your pot of potatoes and water.

 Mix together and let simmer on low for about 20 minutes. Add pan on onions and bacon to pot of soup.

Let simmer for another 5 minutes at least. Again, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with some warm bread and you have a nice comfort meal for a sick day or a cold night.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Happily Ever After

My life feels like a dream sometimes. There are times I look around and feel like things are too good to be true and one day I will wake up and realize it all was. The times I feel like this the most is when I look at the amazing man that for some reason, fell in love with me.

My man is brilliant! He is the smartest and most driven man, which is one of the reasons I fell for him. At 16 when I met him, he was already building his resume by working for a state Senator as an intern. He graduated with honors from college and promptly got accepted and excelled in law school. His drive with his education and career never wavered and I find that so admirable. While many men his age were out partying or hanging with friends, he was spending hours locked in a room studying or wasting summers taking classes to get him ahead on his bar exam. For his hard work to take care of his family, I can never thank him enough.

He challenges me to try new things. I am a very cautious person, almost to the extend where I don't live because I am scared of bad things happening. He has got me out of that fear and exposed me to new places, people, and things I would never have done myself. A major example of this is our 3 week trip to Thailand and Cambodia where I backpacked and camped into a jungle, rode elephants, snuggled with tigers,  took a cooking class from a ladyboy,  rafted down a river in the middle of a jungle,etc. The point of this story is it was the most amazing adventure and I met the most wonderful people and had the best time of my life, and I wouldn't have wanted to have that adventure with anyone else!
The man can cook! And I mean, REALLY cook. He used to compete in culinary competitions and was offered a scholarship to culinary school but turned it down to go to law school as cooking is more a passion than a career for him. This passion has passed off on me and all my foodie inspirations are from him. I am a lucky girl that he creates these masterful meals for me to enjoy, and we found a hobby and passion we can share together.

I love that we are still so young and have so much ahead of us still. I know he will make a great dad. I am excited to see him teach his children and guide their lives. This is an exciting chapter we have yet to open, but when we do I know it will be wonderful!

I am so in love with this man and feel like I am living a fairy tale every day! Happy anniversary Steven...I love you more today than ever before!


Friday, June 1, 2012

Happiest Friday

Buying a house=no fun. Closing on your house=so much fun! 

We get the keys to our house next week after the longest year long process in finding and finalizing everything. We went the short sale route and if you have a good living situation and can wait it out, it can be worth the wait...however, be prepared to wait. 

Now that we are closing I am getting so excited with projects and furniture and cannot wait to get in and start doing stuff. 

I have a beautiful entry way wall like this and I found this picture on pintrest as my inspiration. I found a bench last weekend in my shopping adventure, it is wood and long like the above expect it is deep and the seat part opens to put umbrellas or scarves in. I love the idea of having an entry way bench so when I walk in the door i can take my shoes off, hang up my purse, etc. For the shelf, my mother in law took me to home depot and we bought 2 six foot long boards that we are going to paint and then put a decorative molding on. We also founds some really cute hooks like the ones in this picture to hang on it. I will take pictures of this project and post later for you all to see! 

Here is another pintrest inspiration. The house has a beautiful build in desk like the above, expect bigger. Since I work from home, my desk needs to be a very calming and inspiring place that I enjoy being in. Right now the desk has just regular stock cabinets and three walls. I want to paint it all white like the above and paint and frame in a chalk board on one of the walls. Again, I will post more on this project as I do it! 

Here are some of my recent and exciting purchases from last weekend! 

I got an Ethan Allen accent chair! This was originally a $1550 chair that I got on sale for $325! I couldn't even find a target or world market chair this nice for under $325.

My target guest bathroom shower curtain. I got the teal one and I will pair with white towels, white bath mat and white accessories. My mother in law got me a beautiful teal bowel for the counter to match the curtain and pull more teal in. I want a teal trash can too.

We have a pretty huge living room and a big sectional so when I stumbled upon this over sized coffee table it was love at first sight. I got the coffee table, end table and matching buffet for my living room. they are big and solid and I can't wait to put in my new house. 

We close next week and I am just over the moon excited. I feel very blessed and lucky. Thank you in advance for all my family and friends who are helping us. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wednesday Wishes

ONE. Easy Closing
We are in escrow!!!! This is a huge blessing and has not been an easy processes for us. I am so thankful and my wish is that all goes well from here out and we close on schedule and start building memories in our dream home. I am so excited and can't wait to move in and personalize this house to make it our home. 

Two. A Happy Birthday
I would like to wish my best friend and sister-in-law the best and brightest birthday wishes! So much is ahead of her this next year and I wish her all the best in this next chapter in her life. I am looking forward to celebrating.

I am blessed with the most amazing husband, family, job, friends, what else do I need? 


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Atlantic Salmon with Leeks

I decided to dive into another cookbook to change things up a little...what housewife doesn't enjoy a good challenge here and again? Thomas Keller's book, Bouchon, is french cooking simplified. The art of true cooking is taking the simplest and purest ingredients and elevating them to excellence. Have I sold you yet??? Lets begin.

What You'll Need

1 1/2 pounds of leeks

Sauce (Beurre Blance)

1/4 Cup thinly sliced shallots
1 large thyme sprig
1 large parsley sprig
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
2/3 cup dry white wine (sauvignon blanc)
1/3 cup champagne vinger
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small chunks and chilled
2-3 tablespoon chicken stock
1 teaspoon minced chives
1 teaspoon tarragon


Four 6-ounce piece of salmon fillet, pin bones removed
Kosher salt
Canola Oil
1/2 cup chicken stock

The beauty of this dish is the variety of textures. By searing the salmon on only one side, you will pair a crispy side with the near raw texture of the other side. If you prefer your fish cooked a little more, preheat your oven to 325.

For the leeks:

This recipe only calls for the light green section of the leeks; the darker green parts can be reserved for another use. Cut off the dark green leaves and remove and discard the outer tough layer. Cut the light green sections crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. (you should have approximately 4 cups)

Place the rounds in  a large bowl of warm water and swish them around gently to remove any dirt, careful do not break up the rounds.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a gentle boil. Prepare an ice bath. Add half the leeks to boil for about 5 minutes, again careful to not break the rounds. Once leeks are tender, with a slotted spoon, remove from pot and add to ice bath to stop the cooking...this is quick, no more than 15 secs. Set aside and drain on paper towels. Repeat for the other half of your leeks.  If the centers have fallen out you can use these leeks for another use later, for example a salad or soup.

For the Beurre Blanc Sauce: 

Put the shallots, thyme, parsley, bay leaf, and peppercorns in a medium sauce pan and add white wine and vinegar. Bring to boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes to reduce. 

To finish sauce, add the heavy cream to the reduction, place pan over medium heat, and summer to reduce the liquid by half. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Begin adding butter one piece at a time, whisking constantly to keep sauce emulsified; add each new piece of butter before the previous one has completely melted. The sauce should remain warm to the touch but never simmering. 

For the Salmon:

For crispy skin, you want to remove all the moisture from the skin. Take a knife and rub it back and forth against the skin drawing up liquid. Be sure to only apply light pressure as you don't want to flatten the fillet. Repeat till you knife doesn't draw any more moisture. 

Season the skin side down of the fillets with salt and pepper. Season the other side with salt only. Heat 1/8inch of canola oil in a large skillet. When the oil is hot, place the fillet skin side down in hot oil and cook one side only for about 5 minutes. The fish is done when the bottom is crisp and the fillet is cooked about half way up the flesh; the top should be rare. If you liked your fish cooked a little more, this is where you can place in heated oven..I wouldn't recommend it though. 

To finish:

Put leeks in a medium sauce pan, add 1/2 cup chicken stock, salt and pepper, and cooked till heated through. 

Gently warm beurre blanc and stir in tarragon and chives.

Divide the sauce among four plates, spoon a band around the center of each plate and then rotating the plate to spread the sauce. Using a slotted spoon, mound the leeks in the center. Top each with a salmon fillet. 

Bon Appetit

Monday, March 5, 2012

Beef Stroganoff

Continuing to work through my Ad Hoc cooking book by Thomas Keller, I was so excited to find a recipe for Beef Stroganoff. There are so many interpretations of this dish, some made with beef stock, some made with Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup; Thomas Keller's recipe is a dressed up version of the classic and is just as much about the mushrooms as the beef. 
What You'll Need:
Cream Sauce
1 pound cremini mushrooms, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2/3 cup chopped onion
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups heavy cream
1 sachet of 1 bay leaf, 3 thyme sprigs, 10 peppercorns
1/3 cup créme fraîche (you can substitute with sour cream if you need to)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons  canola oil
1 pound  cremini mushrooms sliced 1/4 inch thick
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
braised beef ribs, chilled
pappardelle noodles (or whatever flat noodles you prefer)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
gray salt or coarse sea salt
To make the Cream Sauce

Process the mushrooms for the sauce in a food processor until finely chopped. (Can I just say I LOVE my food processor! If you don't have one yet it is worth investing in...easier to prepare dishes and you can rinse off quickly and put in dishwasher.)
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms, increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated, about 10-15 minutes.
Pour in the cream, add the sachet and bring to a boil. To make a sachet, use cheese clothe (or you can you gauze) and put your ingredients in and tie with cooking string. 

Reduce to a medium-low and simmer until the cream is reduced by about one-third, about 35 minutes. When the cream has thickened, discard the sachet, and strain the mushroom bits out. Heat the sauce on medium low heat, stir in the créme fraîche and add 3/4 of the sautéed mushrooms. Keep the sauce warm over very low heat. It will be very thick.
To make Mushrooms and Beef

Heat a large frying pan over medium-heat and add the butter and oil. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and brown without stirring for about 3 minutes. Flip and brown, about 1-2 minutes.  They key here is not to crowd your mushrooms so work in batches to cook them all. Also, if you toss or turn your mushrooms too early or often, they will steam instead of brown. 

Bring a giant pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pappardelle  or other noodles according to package directions. Drain.
Heat the oven to 350˚F. Cut the chilled short ribs into 2-inch cubes and brown in an oven safe pan, presentation-side down for about 2 minutes, flip and then transfer to the oven and heat for about 10 minutes.
Toss the pasta with butter and sauce. 
Arrange pasta on a platter and top with the remaining 1/4 sauteed mushrooms, browned short ribs, flat leaf parsley and salt.

I hope you all love this recipe as much as I did! It's a much more elegant version of this family style meal! 

Bon Appetit! 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wednesday Wishes

ONE. Working Out
I have been doing going getting to spin the last few weeks, but waking up at 5:20am to do so is hard so my wish is it will get easier to get out of bed in the morning. I wish I was one of those girls who claim they are addicted to working out. I seem to talk myself out of working out more than into it. 

Two. My dream home
My husband and I are STILL house hunting and have had some major set backs this last week. My wish is that our dream house is still out there and we find it soon. 

I am chapter 3 of this amazing bible study and I hope I find the time to really dig into it and grow from it and discuss it with my girlfriend soon.

FOUR. Find a cute up-do
Doing my hair has never been my thing, I get intimidated by it and normally just wear it down. I wish I knew how to style my hair like this. 

FIVE. My Husband
I am blessed with the most amazing husband and we have been through so much together. My wish is he makes it home safe this week and passes his California Bar with flying colors and we can move on to the next season in our lives together! 


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

And the Oscar Goes To...

I LOVE the Oscars. Men have sports seasons, women have award season and the Oscars is the Super Bowl of it!

I threw my second annual Oscar party this last Sunday, and even though it didn't go exactly as I planned, I let it go and had a blast.

I invited some fabulous ladies in my life and we all had such a fun time dressing up and having fun with it. Even my dog wore a bow tie; and if I do say so, he was very styling.

I am OBSESSED with candy so this is my annual excuse to live out my fantasy and create a candy bar. I just go to the dollar store and walmart and load up with all the bests: peach rings, M&Ms, skittles, nerds, mile duds, Reece's pieces, sour worms, gummy bears, red vines, etc. I used a bunch of martini glasses, wine glasses, bowls,  and margarita glasses and just made everything look festive. I also bought Chinese boxes from Walmart so everyone could take some to-go candy as their party gift. I think it turned out cute. 

We also had to give Harry Winston a run for his money and show off our bling! haha

We had three games we played. First we printed ballots off the Oscar website and before the show started, everyone put their picks down. At the end, whoever guessed the most correct in each category won! The second game we played was Oscar Bingo. Each square had fun things like people thanking their spouse in their speech, or people crying, or the Help wins an award. First person to get BINGO won. The last game was for best dressed at the party. For prizes, I went to the dollar store and got a sparkly silver bag and filled them with fun movie favors like old glass bottles of soda, candy, popcorn, Audrey Hepburn note pads, etc. 

Now lets talk food. I made three appetizers that I released through out the night. The first was a duo of crostinis. One was a steak and onion crostini, one was a pear and honey crostini with Gorgonzola cheese. 

To make the steak crostini:
What you will need:
1 small steak
Havarti Cheese
1 large white or yellow onion

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Get a small fry pan hot on stove. Add a steak seasoned with salt and pepper to HOT pan and sear each side for about 3 minutes each. Remove from heat and let rest. Cut baguette into about 1 1/2 inch thick slices. Lay each slice flat on cookie sheet. Put in oven for 2 minutes to get toasted...not browned yet. Remove from oven. Put a large frying pan on stove; heat a tablespoon of olive oil. Add onion to large frying pan and cook will translucent. Slice steak into little thin squares. Slice Havarti cheese into small squares

On lightly toasted sliced baguette, add small steak square, cheese square, and a small spoonful of onion. Repeat till all bread slices are full. Put in oven to cook till cheese is melted.  
To make the pear crostini:
What you will need:
1 pear
Gorgonzola Cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put a small pot of water on stove. Add 1/4 cup sugar into water. Pearce pear with a knife a few times and add to pot. Bring to low boil until pear softens. Remove pear from water and let cool. Cut baguette into about 1 1/2 inch thick slices and lay flat on cookie sheet. Slice Pear into thin squares. Top bread slices with pear squares. Drizzle very lightly with honey. Top with Gorgonzola cheese crumble. Put in oven till cheese melts. Remove and put on platter to serve.

Another Appetizer I made was a Honey Roasted Onion Tart. Click here for recipe

Lastly, I made a grilled cheese with a shot of tomato soup. It made for the perfect finger food! 

Can't wait for the next years party.