Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bringing in the New Year with LOBSTER!

I just can't believe 2009 is over! It's been a great year for us and so much has happened (engagement, moving, etc)! I'm sure 2010 will be even better and I see some wedding planning ahead. :)

Last year we went out to dinner but this year we decided to stay in (and party afterwards!). Since it's NYE, I decided to make something special and what could be better than LOBSTER? I've actually never made lobster tails before but I followed this recipe and it was pretty easy. I served them over some Trader Joe's Israeli Couscous with mushrooms and we had a VERY yummy NYE dinner to welcome 2010! (Like the new plate that Priscilla got me?)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Got a Panini Press for Christmas!

If you follow my blog, you know that we make Panini quite often at our house. I've been pretty satisfied with just using the grill pan but I've ALWAYS wanted a REAL Panini Press! I mentioned that to Kanika during Thanksgiving since she said that she never uses hers and guess what I got for Christmas? Thanks Kanika and Ryan! You guys are the best! Look how nice and professional this looks? All the ooey gooey cheese...YUM!

This baby featured thick slices of Smoked Ham, LOTS of Provolone Cheese, Tomatoes, Caramelized Onions and Sauteéd Mushrooms, all sandwiched between 2 BIG slices of Sourdough Bread that had been slathered with Grainy Mustard and Mayo. WOW! 1 bite and you're in heaven!

Our House Has Never Smelled So Asian

Greg will NEVER pass up Duck Curry if it's on the menu so I finally decided to try it at home. I went to an Asian Supermarket while visiting my mom today and bought a Roasted Peking Duck. I also picked up some Red Curry Paste and Coconut Milk but then realized that I had a bottle of Red Curry Sauce from Trader Joe's sitting in the cabinet. Since I'd been traveling the last 4 days (and had a TON of Christmas presents to put away!), I decided to take the easy route. That sauce did NOT disappoint! (How does Trader Joe's do it EVERY single time?) And the best part? Dinner was ready in 10 minutes! I just deboned the duck, reheated it with the sauce and served it over some rice that I also picked up from the supermarket. DONE! (Do you like the cute Asian-style bowl that I got from Pier One?)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Roadtrip with My Mommy!

My mom and I decided to take a trip this Christmas since it was just the 2 of us. We didn't wanna go too far (airfare was CRAZY!) but still wanted to get away. Since our favorite activity together is SHOPPING, we decided on Palm Springs! (In case you didn't know, there's a HUGE outlet mall there!) It wasn't a bad drive at all, especially leaving on Christmas Day, and we were there in less than 8 hours. We stayed at the newly renovated Renaissance Inn (I guess it's too new cuz I couldn't find their website!) and had a really good time. We didn't actually get on the road until about 11am so we got to the hotel around 8pm. They were having some special Christmas Dinner at the on-site restaurant so we just enjoyed a light dinner at the bar. (Neither of us had much of an appetite since we pretty much snacked the entire way!) The food was good and fairly priced and the Champagne was flowing! I just HAD to take a picture of this Veggie 6-Pack! Isn't it cute? There were carrots, cucumbers, asparagus, celery and tomatoes with a yummy Ranch-style dipping sauce. We loved it so much, we ended up ordering it again for a snack the next day!

The next night we all went to Morton's for dinner with Greg and his family. (We got EXTREMELY lost thanks to faulty iPhone directions but I won't get into that!) Dinner started with this beautiful platter of Baked Seafood. There were Bacon-Wrapped Scallops, Breaded Shrimp, Oysters Rockefeller and Crab Cakes. EVERYTHING was SO good and our entrées were amazing too (even though I didn't take pictures!). My mom and I shared the Salmon Filet and got to sample everyone else's Steaks and Crab Legs too! Greg got the Cajun-Style Ribeye again, which had been marinated for 60 hours. We actually ended up purchasing the rub and and I can't WAIT to recreate it at home!

Here's a picture of the happy couple!

I LOVED this picture of me and my mom at the hotel lobby. I can't believe my Auto Timer worked so well!

Merry Christmas EVERYONE!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Mommy Came Over so SHRIMP was on the Menu!

Anyone who knows my mom knows that she LOVES LOVES LOVES shrimp! SO whenever possible, I try to make just that for her. My mom also has a mild obsession with Red Lobster and one of her favorite dishes is their Lobster Pizza. I tried to get lobster meat but couldn't manage to find it, so I substituted it with shrimp. It was SO good and SO easy too! My mom LOVED it and I'm pretty sure I'll be testing out Crabmeat Pizza really soon! The crust was crunchy and had such good flavor from the Garlic Butter. The tomatoes and basil added a wonderful freshness as well as color. (As Giada would say, it looks like the Italian flag!)

With the left-over shrimp, I made a simple Shrimp and Angelhair Pasta. It was just shrimp, pasta, mushrooms and store-bought Marinara sauce. Nothing fancy, just an easy and yummy Christmas Eve Dinner!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Girlie Party at My House!

I invited my girlfriends over for a pre-Christmas Party and we had a total blast! I couldn't imagine having 5 people around our tiny dining room table, but we all fit perfectly along with some yummy food! I have a bit more experience hosting a party now and knew that I couldn't make everything in advance cuz well...COLD baked appetizers just aren't very good! Of course, I couldn't have my guests waiting for their food, so I purchased a Crudités Platter, some Cocktail Shrimp and Hummus with Crackers for them to munch on while I cooked. It was the perfect plan and we all chatted away happily as the "Main Events" came piping hot out of the oven. Here is the table waiting for my guests to arrive. (Do you recognize my Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers?)

This was one of the appetizers that I made, Festive Baked Brie. Look at the pretty "festive" colors! It was SO good on the crackers and we finished every last cheesy bite!

I can't wait to host another party!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Taste Testing My Potluck Meatballs

Greg's work is having a Holiday Potluck tomorrow so I decided to make my 2 favorite party dishes: Meatballs and Deviled Eggs. I wanted a way to keep the meatballs warm so I made them in the slow cooker last night. I used this recipe since I know they'll turn out good but JUST in case, we decided to taste them tonight with some spaghetti! YUM YUM YUM! I swear you can NEVER go wrong with meatballs, especially cooked for 10 hours! I'm sure Greg's coworkers will appreciate these!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Box of Christmas Goodies

Remember how I was making homemade goodies for my guys this year? Well, these are what they look like! This box contains Holiday Biscotti, Mrs Field's Chocolate Chip Cookies, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Lemon Drops and Brownie Bites. For a special touch, I also added recipe cards so they can make them at home whenever they wanted to!

My First Shot at Making Steak...

...and it turned out GREAT! Greg's been on a steak kick recently ever since he had the Cajun Spiced Ribeye from Morton's while traveling. I don't have much experience with steak but I thought I'd give it a shot. (You know how I love to try new recipes!) I guess a big slab of meat is a bit intimidating to me and my biggest fear is over-cooking it like I tend to do with pork chops. I found this recipe for Ribeye in Mushroom Gravy and it sounded simple and just perfect! All I can say is WOW! I mean, why in the world did it take so long for me to make steak? The meat was seared perfectly in the pan and then slowly cooked through to a medium rare in the oven. I think what made this dish even more amazing was the fact that I marinated the Ribeye in a mixture of Pinot Noir, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and black pepper for over 24 hours. (I actually meant to only marinate it for a few hours but we ended up going out to dinner on Saturday.) The mushroom gravy was also super simple using a packet of gravy mix and some sour cream added at the end. I served the steak over some left over Mushroom Risotto and a sprinkle of fresh parsley at the end. It was the perfect Sunday night dinner!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Entertaining the Barefoot Contessa Way

I don't make a lot of Ina Garten's recipes but she's got some great ones for entertaining! A few of my girlfriends are coming over for an early Christmas celebration next week so I was searching for ideas. I found this recipe from Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers that sounded really interesting. These aren't really traditional thin crackers, but more like savory shortbread cookies. The crushed walnuts on the outside looked a bit messy so I just added some to the dough instead. OMG they smelled SO good coming out of the oven and tasted even better! The texture was a bit cakey and the crunch from the walnuts was a great addition. The best part about this recipe is that you can make these way in advance or even freeze them for later. I'm sure my girlfriends will like these!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Coq au Vin on a Pizza?

We have a LOT of chicken left from my slow cooked Coq au Vin so I decided to be creative. I also had some sliced Swiss and Provolone Cheese in the fridge that needed to be used up so Coq au Vin Pizza was born! I just can't get over how convenient it is to have Boboli Crust on hand cuz you you can really have a yummy dinner ready in 15 minutes! I also added mushrooms and Mozzarella (of course!) and this pizza was GOOD!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Can't Go Wrong With Mrs Field's

The second batch of cookies I baked were Chocolate Chip Cookies cuz who DOESN'T like those right? I debated which recipe to use and settled on the one from the Mrs Field's Recipe Book that Greg's mom gave me a couple of years ago. (Well, I was going ga ga over it at her house so she said I could have it!) They came out great and super quick too. Hum...if I leave this plate out, do you think Santa will show up early? ;)

Ingredients: (3 dozen cookies)

2-1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 c brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 c white sugar
1 c (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 c chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 300F

2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

3. Cream together sugars and butter in a stand mixer until mixture resembles a grainy paste. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

4. Add flour mixture in 2 batches, mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Stir in chips and vanilla.

5. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.

6. Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Biscotti

For the holidays this year, I decided to give out boxes of homemade goodies. I've discovered a few favorites from my Cookie Fridays and one of them is Biscotti. I thought Cranberries and Pistachios would make them look very festive! I found this recipe from one of my favorite baking sites, Joy of Baking, and added some white chocolate chips. They came out SO good with just the right crunchiness (and thank goodness I didn't burn them like I usually do!). The tart cranberries, nutty pistachios and sweet chocolate were just perfect together! I'm sure my guys will LOVE their edible gifts!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Coq Au Vin Take 2

I totally forgot that I've made Coq Au Vin before (thanks blog) but I guess it's been a year so I forgive myself! This time I ran out of mushrooms but you hardly notice since they get so soft after hours of cooking and pretty much disappear. I also cooked the bacon in the oven this time to omit the mess I usually create on the countertop when I fry bacon. The house still smelled like yummy pork fat but I didn't have to clean up all the grease! I used the left-over Pinot Noir from the duck I made earlier this week and it was just perfect! I just LOVE the slow cooker cuz you just basically throw all the ingredients in the night before and wake up to the most amazing smell EVER!

Friday, December 11, 2009

6 HUGE Scallops for $3!

I saw that Colossal Scallops were half off at Safeway so I knew I had to get some. I picked up a package of 6 for only $3! I found this recipe for Scallops in Sage Cream Sauce and knew it would be the perfect Friday night meal. It sounds really gourmet but it was actually super easy and quick. I served the scallops over some Shiitake Mushroom Risotto (Safeway Select brand, love it!) and added some sautéed mushrooms. The meal was SO yummy and a perfect start to the weekend!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Early Birthday Dinner for my Honey!

It's Greg's big 34th tomorrow and we're going to Ovo, the new Cirque du Soleil show that's playing in SF. (SO excited about that!) I decided to make him a special early birthday dinner featuring duck (his favorite)! I had called a bunch of grocery stores and finally found duck breast at Whole Foods so I went on Sunday and picked up a nice big piece. Then I went online and, after much research, found this recipe for Sautéed Duck Breast and thought it was just PERFECT! I had also picked up 2 bottles of the Cakebread Pinot Noir that we loved so much from Thanksgiving so the sauce was a perfect match. I used regular mushrooms instead of the "wild" varieties in the recipe (that's what I had in the fridge) and Turning Leaf Pinot Noir for the wine. (Hey, I wasn't about to cook with a $60 bottle of wine!) I served the duck over some Israeli Couscous and Greg LOVED it! I love making gourmet meals at home and now our entire place smells like duck! Happy Early Birthday Honey!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ricotta Ricotta Everywhere!

Somehow I always have some ricotta cheese left in the fridge that I need to use up. (If you've been following my blog, you know that I use ricotta cheese at least every other week!) This time, I also had some blueberries and raspberries so I decided to make these Mixed Berry Ricotta Babycakes from one of my favorite blogs, Baking Bites. I just love how the cheese makes these muffins so moist and creamy! The berries made me feel like it was summertime instead of the 30-degrees fall weather we're having. (I know I can't complain but being a Cali girl, I'm only used to the 60's!) Definitely a yummy way to use up that ricotta!

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Last of My Frozen Pesto!

I'm always trying new pizza creations since it's one of Greg's favorites and thought pesto would be a good idea. Thanks to good old Boboli and Tyson, dinner took about 15 minutes! This yummy pizza featured pesto, chicken that I tossed in some Ranch dressing and of course, mushrooms. We might have to start a Pizza Friday tradition soon!

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the YEAR!

December is upon us and that means the holidays are right around the corner! Christmas is definitely my favorite holiday and not just cuz of the presents. I LOVE the lights, the decorations, the carols and of course, the FOOD! Nothing says Christmas like Gingerbread Cookies so that's what I made for the first Cookie Friday of December. I totally cheated and used the Betty Crocker Gingerbread Mix but I did take the time to roll out the dough so I could cut them into festive shapes. I received a Christmas Cookie-Making Set 2 years ago from Greg's mom and this is the first time that I've used it. Aren't they cute?

Here they are getting ready to be baked...

...Now ready for Santa (or my coworkers)!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Can't Waste That Good Greek Yogurt!

I had half a container of Greek Yogurt left from making the yogurt sauce for my Lamb Gyros and didn't wanna waste it. I also had a pear laying around so Pear Nut Bread was born! Of course, you can substitute regular yogurt in any flavor you like but the creaminess of the Greek yogurt made this bread really rich and moist. The crunchy pecans also added a nice texture. I can't WAIT to have this for breakfast tomorrow!


1/2 c butter, softened
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 c all-purpose flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 c Greek yogurt
1 c coarsely chopped pears (leave skin on)
1/4 c chopped pecans
1 tsp vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. (I used my stand mixer but a hand mixer would work.)

2. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure they're well incorporated. Then beat in yogurt until smooth.

3. Combine the flours, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add to the egg mixture.

4. Stir in the pears, pecans and vanilla.

5. Pour into a greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in the center come out clean.

Dilly Salmon Tortellini = YUM!

Salmon has proven to be the perfect mate for dill as shown in my Benedict and Patties. So when I found this recipe for Tortellini with Salmon-Riotta Sauce, I knew I had to give it a try. The only changes I made were substituting half of a diced up white onion instead of the green just cuz that was what I had in the fridge and adding some mushrooms cuz Greg loves them in pasta dishes (and pizza!). (Oh, and I also didn't have any lemons so I just added some juice from a bottle and omitted the peel.) At first I was afraid the canned salmon would taste too fishy with the tortellini but the flavors actually worked really well together. I guess you just can't go wrong with Ricotta and Mozzarella paired up with cheese-stuffed pasta! This was definitely an easy weeknight dinner and we're always told to eat more fish right? :)

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