Saturday, August 29, 2009

Week in Review

I just realized it's been a week since I posted.... oops! I had a very "social" week last week so please forgive, but if I had posted it probably would have been all gibberish anyways. My week consisted of:

Monday: nada. Definitely a good thing given the rest of the week.

Tuesday: Dinner with my fabulous friend Kate at Craft. We took full advantage of Craft extending their restaurant week reservations and they did not disappoint. You only order your entree and then they pretty much bring you everything else under the sun... there's no choosing one appetizer or one dessert- they bring it all. We had the rabbit, tri tip (the rabbit was by far the winner of the two) and two bottles of red wine. Yes, two. Read: Work on Wednesday = not. fun.
Wednesday: Much needed roomie grocery shopping outing.

Thursday: Met JJ and co. at All Good Cafe to see their friend The Austin Hartley Leonard Band play. If you like the Texas Country-ish, acoustic guitar sound you should check them out. About three songs into their set I got on my iPhone and bought their whole CD while I was sitting there. I haven't stopped listening to it since.
Once they were done playing we all went to Sunset Lounge. I prefer the slightly more laid back bars of Dallas, so a bar that has a DJ 'spinning' every night isn't quite my cup of tea, but given the right circumstances can be a lot of fun.

One of our favorite things to do at Sunset is to play a grown up version of Simon... you know the battery operated game where you repeat the color sequence given to you and the first time you mess up the sequence you lose? Okay, well sub the colors for dance moves and sub the batteries for booze. You get the idea.

So one person does a move then the next person does that move and then theirs and so on until someone messes up. And we're not talking about a Justin Timberlake style dance-off... think the sprinkler, roger rabbit, tootsie roll, and the running man. The best part of the entire game is watching all the d-bags that tend to frequent Sunset look at us like we are insane for acting so goofy in public. You know the type... super tight Ed Hardy shirt, vodka red bull in hand, waaaay too much product in their hair. Yeah, they prob wouldn't partake in our little dance off. But it is always soooo much fun.

Friday: Julie and Julia at the Angelika. And I know this is surprising, but I wasn't that impressed. I love cooking and I love blogging, but I did not love this movie. I'm glad I saw it, but I won't be renting and/or purchasing it. I'm just sort of ambivalent to it. Meryl Streep did a GREAT job though.
Saturday: Brunch at Breadwinners (sidenote: the pollo loco eggs benedict... there really are no words) with the girls to catch up with our friend Whit who just got married in April and is now expecting a little girl. She is absolutely adorable pregnant and we can't wait to meet sweet baby Kate. Afterwards we went shopping which included a stop at Pickles and Ice Cream. They had lots of interesting things including jeans that have two triangle stretchy panels right about the pockets instead of the big panel. I'm not going to lie, I seriously considered buying some for thanksgiving and/or fat days. They were citizens, people! Don't judge me, you know you've unbuttoned your top button after a particularly delicious thanksgiving dinner or two.

Saturday night I had dinner with my family at my cousin's house. My baby cousin is getting so big and is starting to talk. In preparation for the annual Tech vs. A&M family rivalry I took the opportunity to attempt to teach her to "get her guns up". Her daddy was not loving this. She also had a ball digging through the contents of my purse... always dangerous since it has been known to contain raw eggs...
I think today I'm going to make a quick trip to the farmers market, go for a run, and then go over to Jen & Derek's for a BBQ to break in their new house. I promise to be a better blogger next week!

Hope everyone had a great week!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Napa... Meet the Fockers!

The primary reason for us going out to California was to get the chance to meet Whitney's family before she and my brother walk down the aisle! Clint flew in Thursday and she and her family came in on Saturday and we spent the rest of the weekend hanging out and getting to know them.

Their last name is Fitzpatrick so the running joke is that you could smush the two family names together to get the theme of the weekend... "Meet the Fockers"! Anyways, I can jabber all day long, but the pictures are way more fun:
Friday we spent the day wine tasting with Clint before everyone else got there. This is from the top of Castella di Amorosa the castle that V. Sattui built a few years ago.

We did a food pairing down in the caves at the castle. They paired eight different wines with foie gras, three cheeses, salami, a meatball slider, and two types of chocolate. It was a very cool experience that I would highly recommend. My new favorite cheese was a parmesan we tasted there that had a 4-month old balsamic reduction over it. Which I had no idea you could keep balsamic reductions in the fridge for that long?! Very good to know.....



If you happen to get a little loopy off the loads of wine you just tasted and perhaps are feeling a little mischevious on your way out... don't attempt to steal any of the wine off these stacks that you pass. The top three rows of bottles are apparently filled with water for just such a reason. They won't even try to stop you if they see you take one. Sneaky. {sidenote: I did NOT acquire this knowledge by stealing wine in said fashion. This was told to us by the girl in charge. Pinky swear.}

However, they don't seem to mind if you chase their chickens around. The chickens were not all that cool with this post-overconsumption form of entertainment though. And just as a warning, they aren't afraid to peck and/or chase you across the lawn. {don't judge me... I'd had A LOT of wine!}

My favorite picture from Friday. Her exact words right before I took this picture were, "you know... if everyone would come to Napa, the world would be a better place..." SO FUNNY!
Meeting the family! (in front of Del Dotto)
The happy couple. :)
The family inside of Del Dotto... weirdest winery I've ever been to hands down, but a lot of fun!
Relaxing at our house at the end of the day with MORE wine. We must be crazy.
My brother and I... we actually made it out to the only bar in town after tasting all day.
The boys at the bar... yep, it was probably time for us to go home!
Sunday bocce ball tournament at Dutch Henry. The bride and groom with the dads.
Moral support. Whit's brothers, mom, and I.
An attempt at taking an artistic shot of my winning bocce ball throw. Yep, my mom and and I barely squeeked out a win over Whitney and Val!

Whitney, not surprisingly, has a great family. They were so nice and I think we all had a great time getting to know each other... and two very exciting pieces of news from the weekend:

They have set a date - July 10th!
And Whitney asked me to be one of her bridesmaids! YAY!

Woo hoo!

I just got home from the gym where I crossed over the 5 mile mark for the first time since 2006! I know this is not impressive to some of you marathoners out there, but I used to run a lot. Like every day, rain or shine, drunk or sober, a lot. Yes, I would go to happy hour with friends and come home and run.... probably not smart, but at least I was dedicated.

For some reason I stopped around the time that I got engaged and ever since when I would try to run further I would get so frustrated because I'd lost my endurance. Because of this I've been very sporadic with it ever since. I recently (for the third time??) got back on my half-marathon kick and have been consistently running 3-4 miles a few times a week.

Jodi's fiance and I made a bet that we would both run the white rock a few years ago (which I lost). So I was talking to him about my love of talking about running a half, but life always getting in the way and he suggested taking a look at the races and then registering in advance... even if it's a 8 months away. Just registering. That way, if you don't run it... you'll feel really really stupid.

Not a bad idea...... I'm thinking maybe the Rock 'n Roll half in San Diego could make for a pretty fun weekend....

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sleep Deprivation Design

We are on our way back home and decided to stay the night in Sacramento since our flight leaves super early tomorrow.

teeny hotel room + Bossdad's snoring* = no sleep to be had.

Since I am a bit of an insomniac anyways, I chalked this one up as a loss and have been playing on my laptop in an attempt to redo my blog header. While I'm pretty savvy with the technology, I have not ever touched photoshop. So this is my amateur crack at sprucing things up a bit. What do you think??

It's now 2:23... only 3.5 more hours until the wake-up call. Ugh.

Hope you are all sleeping soundly!

*literally, it's kind of like trying to sleep while sharing a room with a tree logger. or maybe a team of loggers. with chainsaws.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Foodie Friday: Garlic Lime Chicken

Hello all, this is a prescheduled post coming to you while I'm away on vacation! (I'm so sneaky, I know...) I made this on Monday and it was so good... especially considering how simple it was. When my roommate took her last bite I believe her exact words were "I'm sad it's over".

The recipe was three of my favorite things: 1) delicious 2) easy and 3) quick to clean up.

Garlic Lime Chicken
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • 1/4 t cayenne
  • 1/8 t paprika
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  • 1/8 t onion powder
  • 1/4 t dried thyme*
  • 1/2 t dried parsley
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  • 2 T butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 t garlic powder
  • 3 T lime juice
  1. In a small bowl, mix together first 8 ingredients.
  2. Sprinkle over both sides of chicken breasts.
  3. Heat butter and olive oil in large skillet
  4. Saute chicken until golden brown about six minutes on each side.
  5. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of garlic powder and lime juice.
  6. Cook chicken five minutes longer turning to coat with sauce.
*I used fresh thyme because I had it handy and it worked just fine.
{recipe and photo from random anderson}

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Napa Style!

While the day got off to a rocky start due to some issues at work, my dad had a great birthday and we ended up having a wonderful day in Napa. We had reservations at two of the wineries that have been on my parent's wish list for forever... Nickel & Nickel and Far Niente. AND we got to do the one thing on my napa wishlist... go to Bottega! Wins all around!

Nickel & Nickel was perfect because the party of seven that was supposed to fill out the rest of our tour didn't show up, so we got a nice little private tour & tasting and the wine was SO GOOD. They are unique bc they only bottle single vinyard wines... no blends whatsoever. Anything that is 75% of a single vineyard can be considered a single vineyard wine even if 25% comes from somewhere else, but all N&N wines are 100%. Kinda cool.

This was by far our favorite out of the two. As evidenced by the fact that my dad bought a case of wine to take home, joined the wine club, AND backed into the Nickel & Nickel barn on the way out. WOW! It was his birthday though, so what's a little barn damage among friends??
Far Niente is the sister winery of N&N and is supposed to be a little bit higher end. The grounds were gorgeous... much prettier than N&N, but we all agreed that the wine wasn't as good, even though it was twice as expensive as Nickel & Nickel. The caves were very cool though:
The highlight of my day was when we went to Yountville to go to Napa Style. Napa Style is a home goods store owned by Michael Chiarello (the chef, for those of you who aren't foodies) and he also owns the restaurant Bottega.

We had already tried to get into Bottega to no avail, so after Napa Style we decided just to go grab a drink there and take a break. As we are about to walk in, four ladies ask me to take their picture- I do, and as I'm walking back to my my parents my mom is pointing towards the walkway. Apparently as they were walking in someone who looked a lot like Michael Chiarello opened the door for them on his way out and said 'welcome'.

So I go running after this person, camera in-hand, in the direction she pointed. He was already way ahead of me so I never actually saw his face but I knew it was him. By the way he walked. I could literally confirm the identity of a food network chef from the back by his mannerisms. SAD.

After grilling our waiter to an uncomfortable degree further investigation it turns out it WAS him. Apparently he's back in the kitchen most nights (very cool).

This is me eagle eye-ing the bar to make sure I didn't miss him if he came back (yes, I'm creepy):
To make a long story short, we did get to meet him. And might I say: he is quite sexy for a 47-year old. (yep, sure did google him when we got back to the house...). One of the rare times I have been MORE impressed with someone famous after meeting them. AND the food was delicious!
The only downside to the whole evening was when I met him, I told him that I was a big fan and that I also loved Giada and Tyler. To which he said, "oh, Tyler's a good bud... he was actually in here yesterday having lunch." GAH!!!!! Now, I'm not bitching since I had a fabulous evening, but SERIOUSLY?! Y'all know how much I love Tyler. And come to find out, I didn't almost miss him by a week, I literally missed him by 12 hours. I. would. have. died.

All in all though, it was a great day... thank you pops for taking me to Bottega and I hope you had a wonderful birthday!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bachelorette Weekend Pictures

JJ opening her "honeymoon shower" gifts at our hotel before getting on the party bus.
Cheers!!
All the girls outside the first stop. Kristy (bottom right) was a member at the winery and told JJ she was allowed to take the glass as a souvenir... notsomuch. Jodi got chased outside by an employee asking for the glass back!
Jodi and three out of her five 'maids.
Lindsay, Rachel, & I at the second stop.
The girls at the the last winery... also known as the one we got kicked out of:

Jodi (holding her glass out to the guy pouring): May I have some wine?
Asshole Wine Guy: Go sit down and then I'll give you some.
Jodi (still just joking around with him): Geez, I feel like I'm five.
Asshole Wine Guy: Maybe if you wouldn't act like you're five, I wouldn't treat you like it. (TOTALLY BEING A JERK AND NOT KIDDING AT ALL!!)

Annnnd, that's all it took to piss off 10 half-drunk women (who were in charge of making sure the girl he was insulting was having a good time) enough to tell the guy he could pretty much take his wine bottle and.... place it you-know-where. Needless to say, we left.
But we still managed to have a good time!
Jodi at the end of our tour with her {very full} "I do!" wine glass.
Brunch the next morning. Not bad... 8 out of the 11 made it!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

No rest for the weary...

But I'm not complaining because I'm about to head home to pack for Napa! We leave tomorrow at 9am. In hindsight I probably just should have stayed in Oregon and flew from there to San Francisco, but oh well. Doubtful that I would have been able to get much work done from either Oregon or San Fran- I would be too busy gorging myself on sourdough bread and walking around Pier 39.

Clint and Whitney wanted our families to meet before the wedding and since we don’t live in the same cities, we all decided to meet in Napa! I really can't think of a better locale to meet my brother’s future in-laws.

As far as wineries go we are heading to Far Niente, Castello di Amorosa, Nickel and Nickel and Signorello (which apparently has a very attractive owner upon further inspection of the website). I have two friends that are chefs here in Dallas and both recommended Mustard's and the Culinary Institute of America. We’ve been to the CIA once before and it was really good, so I’m sure it will be just as yummy the second time around.

I really wanted to go to Bottega because I love Michael Chiarello, but they were booked up. I just about had a heart attack last week when I saw this on Tyler Florence's twitter:

Apparently Bottega’s one year anniversary was last weekend and they were doing this big tasting/party with some famous chefs which would be cool, but I really got sad when I saw that Tyler was going to be there: missing tasting party at Bottega by one weekend = sad. Missing tasting party at Bottega by one week when TYLER FLORENCE is present = unbearable. I love me some Tyler. But apparently upon closer inspection, he wasn’t, he was simply retweeting the news for his cheffy buds. What a nice guy...

Anyways, have a lovely week! Hopefully my liver and I will return on Monday only a fair amount of damage!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Weekend Observations

We had such a great weekend in Portland! The girls were amazing, Jodi loved all her honeymoon gifts and our wine tour of Oregon was a blast. We took tons of pictures so I will post some of the tamer ones here once I get them from everyone.

My observations from the weekend:
  1. While flying Southwest to Portland was a huge beat down, the fact that the flight attendant let me run off the plane and get las palapas during our 15 minutes layover in San Antonio made the seven other stops entirely worth it!
  2. bachelorette winery tour = fun; BWT + limo bus = fun AND safe; BWT + limo bus + stripper pole = hilarious memories I won’t be forgetting any time soon.
  3. Portland is kinda weird. I saw not one, but two men wearing skirts. Not like traditional kilts, not transvestites or cross-dressers, but what appeared to be actual straight men wearing skirts bc they felt like it. Two.
  4. The city also has lots of homeless women. I had never really seen that before this weekend and it kind of made me wonder why you don't often see homeless women in Dallas? Is it perhaps because Dallas women that don't wish to work have perfected the art of gold digging? Just a theory...
  5. I was excited about the wedding before, but after meeting all the Portland girls… I can’t freaking wait!
  6. The four hour flight home was made much more bearable with good company: JJ, of course, but also the incredibly hot wakeboarding team that was on our flight. :D
More pictures and recap to come!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Foodie Friday: Boston Cream Pie

When birthdays come around, my parents are two of the few people that I don’t usually bake cakes for. Not because I’m a horrible daughter, but because they both loooove Central Market chocolate cakes and will use any excuse to have one. So while I was a little surprised this year when my dad asked me if I was baking for her of course I said yes. My mom had mentioned a craving for Boston Cream Pie a few weeks ago, so that’s what I went with.

I had never made this before, (always a good idea to attempt a new recipe for a special occasion letmetellya) but it turned out pretty well… was even better the next day… and gave me a few ideas for what I will change next time.

Boston Cream Pie*

Cake:
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour, plus more for the pan
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butte (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon or orange zest
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup milk
Cream Custard Filling:
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Pinch fine salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, chilled
Chocolate Glaze:
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
Directions:

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter and flour a 9 by 2-inch round cake pan, and set it aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl, and set it aside.

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and citrus zest until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. With the mixer running on low, add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk in 2 parts, until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown and a tooth pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes on a rack. Turn the cake out of the pan to cool completely.

To make the cream filling: In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat, until bubbles appear around the edges. Remove from the heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. While whisking, gradually pour the milk into the eggs. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan. While whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat; cook for 1 minute or until thickened. Remove from the heat, and stir in the butter and vanilla. Put the custard in a medium bowl, and lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

Whip the cream until it holds a soft peak. Lightly whisk the chilled custard to loosen it up. Fold the cream into the custard; refrigerate until ready to assemble the cake.

To make the glaze: Put the chocolate and corn syrup in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until smooth. Cool slightly before glazing the cake.

To assemble the cake: Slice the cake in horizontally with a serrated knife, into two pieces, starting about 5/8ths of the way up the sides of the cake. (The top piece should be slightly thinner than the bottom.) Place the bottom of the cake on a 9-inch cardboard cake round or flat plate. Spread the cream just to the edges of the cake and cover with the top layer. Pour all the glaze over the cake. Tilt the cake so the glaze covers it evenly and runs down the sides. Refrigerate until ready to serve. {credit: food network}

The flavor of this recipe was great, but here is what I would change:
  1. Double the cake part and make two layers instead of making one and cutting it in half. It’s fuller, prettier, and honestly… easier!
  2. No need to double the crème recipe, but DON’T LISTEN when it says you can use any kind of milk. I would use whole or 2% in the least. I used a mix of fat free (all they had at chez W) and some crème to hopefully thicken it… didn’t work. It ended up super runny.
  3. It says you can make the crème a day in advance, but I think the whole thing can easily be made a day in advance. It was much tastier on day two when the flavors all melded together.
*Don’t judge me on the presentation. I am an avid user of cooling racks when icing a cake with ganache to make sure the plate stays pretty and clean, but my mom was adamant about not doing this so “the chocolate would pool up next to the cake”. It killed me a little, but I did as the birthday girl requested. :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Best Man Fail

Today is my Friday and in less than 24 hours we're headed to Portland! In honor of J's bachelorette festivities, this funny/sad youtube video was sent to me and I thought I'd share.
Luckily, there is no water in/by/around First United Methodist, so I think she's safe. I still can't tell if this is real or staged. One can only hope for the poor bride's sake that it is fake!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Busy Bee!

Things are going to be pretty quiet around here for the next couple weeks, so my apologies in advance. We spent last weekend celebrating my mom's birthday (check back on Friday for a post on the dessert!). We took her to her new favorite wine bar. (shocking, I know)

This week I am back in party planning mode by wrapping up a few (sneaky) projects that are surprises for our bride-to-be, packing, and then heading to Portland for Jodi's bachelorette party!!

I'm so excited to meet all the girls that I have been emailing back and forth with for the last few months. Granted, I'm pretty sure they all think I'm ca-ray-zee because of some of the communication involving one of the surprises*, but I figure that will just make our introduction all the more interesting, right?

*Surprise to be divulged for your future thieving (should you like the idea), but only once the bride is in-the-know.