Archive for November, 2010

Bridal Shower Bonanza!

Lots of happenings here in SF this past week-but since there has been so many activities and so many picures, I will keep it to mainly a festive food update.

I had my first bridal shower yesterday and it was so beautiful.

I truly felt like a bride! Chris and I have been engaged for almost a year now and while the wedding is still 6 months away, the next time I see my family from the west coast we will be in Mexico ready to tie the knot! My stepmom and Aunt Sue did a heck of a job on the food, decor and making me feel special…here are some highlights from the day!

The table setting was beautiful. Elegant white and silver was the color scheme of the day.

For hors d’oeuvres we had prosciutto wrapped pears, pear tarts, cucumber sandwiches, shrimp sandwiches and mimosa’s!

My glass was specially decorated with “bride to be,” “engaged,” and wedding rings-so fun!

We played bridal bingo and other fun games before the sit-down lunch.

The lunch started off with some butternut squash bisque-which was delicious.

Then we had some pesto chicken sandwiches with a pear salad for the main course.

There was no shortage of food but I couldn’t resist 2 beautiful cupcakes that my aunt Sue made (with silver sprinkles to match!)

Chris and I got some great stuff off our registry and I felt the love from friends and family. My only disappointment is in my camera. It seems to take such great pictures of food and such bad pictures of human beings. I’m taking it back to Best Buy when we get home to either have it replaced or looked at. Thank goodness for other people’s cameras! At least the food memories are safe on mine 🙂

To top it all off, my aunt had personalized lip balm and chocolates to commemorate the day! She and my stepmom are amazingly thoughtful and I will never forget such a wonderful shower.

Now…with all that food I ate, I am craving a work-out-gotta get to it!

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Happy Thanksgiving from California!

Hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving! Mine was especially special because Chris and I are in California visiting my Dad. We got in late on Wednesday evening and were exhausted from traveling. But this little touch of kindness cured all of that 🙂

The next morning I woke up rested and ready to run! As a sort of homage to Lafayette, I opted to run down Mt. Diablo instead of the reservoir behind my parents house. It was so nice to run by all the awesome shops that have sprung up since I spent my high school years here. I went about 1.5 out because I knew once I came back, the hills in the neighborhood were going to be BRUTAL!

They were, but I survived. Then I enjoyed a guilt free Thanksgiving feast!

My step-mom decorated the table beautifully. I really liked her rustic yet regal approach this year. 🙂

This year I spent a little too much on the appetizers beforehand. There was such a great assortment of cheeses. I was especially keen on the cranberry goat cheese log-Oh My God.

 We also had stuffed mushrooms, zucchini squares, fruit and a smattering of other delicious treats that I just could not avoid.

Finally sitting down to eat the turkey was a hard task-but I was up to the challenge. 🙂

Then of course came the dessert and wouldn’t you know there was a whole table dedicated to the after-meal course!

…and this wouldn’t be America if we didn’t have some classic homemade Apple Pie! Mmmmmm

Keeping in line with the holiday we had pumpkin and walnut waffles with fruit the next morning-I had been craving waffles so this was a special treat.

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. There are so many things to be thankful for this year and hopefully to come!

Gah-Gah Gorgeous Weather!

I can not get over how beautiful this weekend was, we enjoyed perfect weather in Charlotte. The leaves are absolutely breath-taking and my run today was border-line hot.

Just look at those trees! I enjoyed the beautiful scenery as I did an easy 4  mile run with Daisy…

She was really tuckered out once we were done. I almost felt like I ran her too hard so I made sure to pamper her the rest of the night. Poor doggey is a little out of shape…just look at her staring into space.

For lunch I was feeling something easy and since we haven’t grocery shopped, I had to get a little creative. I settled on an easy tuna melt.

This was actually better than it looked and with such raw ingredients, it was ready in minutes. I also had some yogurt and triskets on the side.

For dinner we needed to use the salmon that was in the fridge but I wasn’t really feeling them as fillets. I wanted something different so I decided to make salmon cakes. These really hit the spot and were easy to prepare.

Salmon Cakes

Recipe courtesy of Eating Well

Ingredients:

  • 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 15 ounces canned salmon, drained, or 1 1/2 cups cooked salmon (I used fresh)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 3/4 cups fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs (Trader Joe’s organic breadcrumbs)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery; cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in parsley; remove from the heat.

Place salmon in a medium bowl. Flake apart with a fork; remove any bones and skin. Add egg and mustard; mix well. Add the onion mixture, breadcrumbs and pepper; mix well. Shape the mixture into 8 patties, about 2 1/2 inches wide.

Heat remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in the pan over medium heat. Add 4 patties and cook until the undersides are golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a wide spatula, turn them over onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining patties.

Bake the salmon cakes until golden on top and heated through, 15 to 20 minutes.

One of my favorite things to do on Sunday evening is to delve into some wedding planning. The plans are coming along nicely and if anyone is dying to know some details, I can post if you wish! 😉

Hope everyone has a good night. I’m excited for a 2 day work week and then going home to San Francisco for the holidays.

What are you doing? Any big plans?

Harry Potter & the Amazingly, Wonderful Dessert

Friday was the start of opening weekend for the new Harry Potter movie.

(source)

While I have not been as on-top of my theatrical wizard knowledge as some would have liked, I accompanied my friend Sara (on opening night-mind you) to the big event! She made me a great dinner followed by one awesome dessert as she promptly schooled me on what I needed to know to go into the seventh installation of HP. I myself, fell off at around movie two but figured with Sarah’s knowledge I could get through the movie like a champ…and I did.

But backing up…let’s go to lunch on Thursday. As you know I have been pinching pennies and while I have finally run out of things to make for lunch I was forced to go out on Thursday. Chris and I are trying to get through next week without grocery shopping since we leave for California for the holidays. I stumbled upon this little lunch for under $5! Complete with a mini-sub, apple slices and a choice of either chocolate milk or a juice box, I was in kiddy heaven.

Thursday’s dinner was Five Guys Burgers. Chris convinced me, but it didn’t take much to win me over. Friday’s breakfast was unpictured black cherry yogurt but Friday’s lunch was something special. Our department once again went to Rooster’s to celebrate our graphic designer’s birthday. I usually get the quarter chicken with a side of mac n’ cheese and once again, it did not disappoint!

Now, back to Friday evening….

Dinner was Portobello mushroom stuffed chicken with beans. YUM.

(forgive the phone picture, my camera finally died after weeks of food photography!)

The dinner was hearty but the dessert was something so wonderful, I could hardly keep my mouth shut. I was either eating or raving about what a great dessert she made. To top it all off, it wasn’t even that bad for you! When you are in the mood for some kind of crisp without the calories, let me introduce you to this Fall Pear treat-

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white wine (Riesling)
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Pears
  • Cinnamon sticks

Directions:

Turn oven to 350 degrees

Cut the bottom of the pears so that they will stand up-right in the baking dish.

Place pears in baking dish followed by the wine, brown sugar and cinnamon sticks. Cook for 1 hour, making sure to baste the pears with the carmelized mixture every 15-20 minutes. One the pears are done, place in bowl with vanilla frozen yogurt and cinnamon sticks from baking dish.

Serve and enjoy!

It was so great to have good food, good wine and even better company on a lazy Friday night. For now, I’m going to continue cleaning (I’m in a zone) but will fill you on the rest of the weekend (complete with Salmon Cakes, babies and a new book) on Monday.

Hope everyone is having great weekends 🙂

What are your favorite Fall Desserts? Are they healthy or unhealthy?

When & Where?

I heart Black Cherry Yogurt.

I am not a morning person and so while I peruse blogs filled with wonderful-looking breakfasts, it’s still not enough to get me up early and pull one together myself most days. Most the time I’m fine with bringing Tupperware of kashi cereal or throwing a yogurt in my purse as I run out the door.

Lately I have been grabbing for Black Cherry.

While still trying to eat moderately to prepare for the Feast that is Thanksgiving, I have also been pinching my pennies. Hence, lunch in the good ol’ cube. While it may not be the healthiest alternative, a tuna sandwich (a fave family recipe) is both filling and cheap!

I like to put in my tuna salad: celery, pickles, hard-boiled eggs and mayonnaise.

I was all excited to have made it through a work day without scowering HR for chocolate mid-afternoon, but when I got to the GMAT prep course on Tuesday night, our “meal provided” was pizza. 😦 I don’t know why but I was half expecting a nice box dinner with a nutritious sandwich and an apple.

I gave in. I had no choice. I was hungry and it was good. I did steer clear of Sprite and opted for water with my 2 pieces of delicious pizza. I don’t drink soda often but it can be tempting at times…especially if they have a caffeine free option.

(The cork was from my UNCC graduation dinner-memories!)

The GMAT prep course was more than beneficial. I’m really glad I went! We went over an entire quantitative section of the GMAT and I learned some really solid coping mechanisms as well as tips for the test.

(source)

While I have still decided to prep for the GMAT and try to take the test in January/February I am reluctant to say I have no idea where and when I’m going to grad school. Luckily the test is good for five years. Chris is going to be done with school in August (which is when I would be starting) so we’ve decided to hold off on the application process until we know where he gets a job.

I would love to go to Wake if we decided to stay in the Charlotte area, but I can’t help but be intrigued by the possibility of moving somewhere different. The possibilities are wide open for us right now and I’m excited to see what’s next!

On to Wednesday, which was a good hump day because I got to go to Beddar, Beddar & Moore with my friend and co-worker Stephanie. We absolutely love this place and not just for their #742 Chicken Ranch Wrap but because when you chose to dine-in, they give you a cup of the soup for free!

This soup usually consists of everything they had leftover from the day before but somehow, someway, it’s always the best soup I’ve ever had! It’s magical. Wednesdays soup was chicken cordon bleu.

Lunch is a unpictured wrap-because that is also how good it was-I forgot!

Dinner last night was some vegetable goodness! We had some left over chicken in the fridge that we needed to use and I was craving something healthy. We made some Quinoa and then cooked chicken, edomae beans, broccoli, shrimp (Chris’s call) and onion to make a stir-fry dish.

For the stir fry sauce we added 3 Tbsp. soy sauce, 2 Tbsp. Sherry and 1 Tbsp. corn starch. It was delish.

Have any of you felt nervous or scared to try something new but were excited about the change at the same time?

For those of you have gone back to school to get your higher education, would you consider it worth it?

A little Monday Happiness

While no one really “likes” Monday’s, I generally can accept them. It’s been two whole days since I had to be at work and most of the time I feel rested and re-charged. Also, it doesn’t hurt that on Monday’s, my sister comes over to our house for dinner and Monday night TV. It works out perfectly because Chris is usually watching Monday Night Football and checking his fantasy team stats-so a little family company is definitely welcome.

Last night Chris and I were joint chefs in the kitchen and talked about our work day as we made  Chicken Pitas with brown rice medley. It was a perfectly light dinner. I’m trying to watch what I’m eating this week as I’m sure next week’s Thanksgiving festivities will be a marathon of eating! 🙂

Chicken Pitas

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 cup thinly sliced seeded cucumber
  • 3/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper , to taste
  • 4 6-inch whole-wheat pitas, warmed
  • 1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
  • 2 small or 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  •  

    Directions:

    Preheat grill to medium-high or position rack in upper third of oven and preheat broiler. If grilling, oil the grill rack (see Tip). If broiling, coat a broiler pan with cooking spray.

    Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place the chicken on the grill rack or prepared pan and cook until no longer pink in the center and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165°F, 4 to 8 minutes per side, depending on the size of the breast. Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.

    Meanwhile, combine cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper in a small bowl. Thinly slice the chicken. Split open the warm pitas and fill with the chicken, yogurt sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion.

    After dinner I tried to convince my sister Kate to run with me. With it being so dark I didn’t want to run by myself. She was too tired from having cheerleading practice (she’s a UNCC cheerleader and a physical therapist major)  that she didn’t feel like running but that she would go through a “Insanity” work-out with me in the living room….

    The work-out included:

    -Jumping Jacks with arms (for 30 seconds)

    -Hysman jumps (30 seconds)

    -Oblique Lifts (20, 15, 10, 10)

    -Push ups adding elbows (20)

    -Butt Kicks

    -High Knees

    -Mummy Kicks

    -Kicks (100 in under a minute)

    Power Squat Jumps (10, 8, 6, 4, 6, 8, 10)

    (she is insane)

    This work-out kicked my butt! She left me the exercises to practice on my own but holy cow! 20 minutes of this was worse than any mile run. I thought I would be more sore today but thankfully I am not.

    Lately I have been feeling so tired and even though I get plenty of sleep, I don’t drink any caffeine. Rather than fall victim to a soda in the afternoon I have decided to try a multi-vitamin which I probably should be doing anyway…

    That and a little Cinnamon Apple Spice in the afternoon is my new stay healthy and alert remedy! 😉

    Oh and an update on Wake Forest…I have a GMAT prep course tonight from 6-9 that they offer but the school and the structure of the curriculum sound awesome! Chris will graduate in the summer with his PHd so we still need to discuss the timeline of events…but I will keep you guys posted!

    When Grocery Shopping is a distant memory…

    Sometimes you have to make-up a meal. After eating out so much this week already, but still not feeling like going grocery shopping, I was forced to come up with a mix of random foods for dinner last night.

    To be honest, while bland-still not bad. No recipe really, I just sautéed the shrimp, threw some homemade vinaigrette on the salad, cut up some apples and added some shredded cheese. That with some rice is what you call “staying alive.” Hardly a dinner that I will remember.

    I did not work out last night, instead I indulged in German white wine (which is my favorite!) and watched One Tree Hill. I love that show. Sometimes you just have to vedge and live life.

    This morning I did however make it to the 6 am cycle. I can never make it to the 5:30 pm class because I usually work too late. Learning how to get up that early in the morning has been tough. After sweating it out, I came home to some yummy banana bread that I had baked earlier in the week. A perfect breakfast!

    I then proceeded to take this position while watching Saved by the Bell until  it was time to hit the shower and get to work~

    Tonight is the meeting for Wake Forest, cross your fingers that it’s everything I’m expecting!! 🙂