League Day!

Football season is here and with that brings our annual Fantasy Football league day draft. It’s great fun to get together, have snacks and steal each others draft picks for this years Football games.

I am barely a football fan but I have to admit these draft parties are a great way to spend a Saturday. 🙂

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That picture was stolen from my friends Facebook page because the only picture I took yesterday was this one of the board and one of our league members cautiously choosing his next player.

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There are sixteen rounds of picks and to be honest..I was done thinking by round five but I trooped along until… round 15..I, admittedly, allowed our friends three year old daughter to pick her favorite color (player position) and any ole sticker (player name). Those were to be my final picks 🙂

The guys said she did a good job though so I’m not complaining! win win! I’ve played FF for three years now and have yet to win the SHIVA..(yes, we stole this name from the show The League..it is a trophy given to the inner of the FF league..Maybe this is year we will get to bring it home!

You have to understand, people…this process takes like FOUR hours! Yes, HOURS…we have drinks and snacks and breaks and ten different conversations going on throughout so it is easy to understand the length of time and commitment needed.

Did I tell you there were snacks? I’ve heard people talking of cheat days, yesterday was definitely an indulgent cheat day..

I ate mounds of buffalo chicken dip laced with blue cheese, pizza bread, three beers (a delicious Camelback IPA from our local brewery)  and a chilled glass of Cab to round out the day.

Now, I guess I should find out when the real football season starts and maybe log into my ESPN account to move some players about!

Happy Sunday everyone! I hope it goes slow for you if you are so lucky to have this day to rest and fast for you if you’re so lucky to be working!

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Cultural Celebration

A few weeks ago Jason told me we had been invited to a milestone celebration for our neighbors seven month old daughter. Obviously, the fact that I  grew up in a completely culture free environment, I had never heard of Annaprashan. I had much to investigate! What is this celebration? What am I supposed to wear? What type gift do I bring?

In a nutshell, Annaprashan is a Hindu rite of passage (Anna means “grain” and Prashan means “to feed” ~ so the celebration is the beginning step to the weaning process from milk to solid foods. OK..I’ll buy that..plus..who can pass up a legit reason to bring family and friends to together to admire the baby (insert annoying lady from Seinfeld “Ya gotta see the babayyyy”) have great food and enjoy company??

Gift ideas can be anywhere from gold/silver bowls (most likely left to the family members to present) spoons and plates to outfits an baby memorabilia.. I decided to leave the fancy gift ideas to their family..I wouldn’t want to one up the grandparents :D…and settled on a simple cute outfit, a couple of bibs and a stainless steel sippy cup.

As much as I wanted to dress up in Salwar Kameez,  I supposed that would be inappropriate soooo… I opted for simple black dress pants, a gray 3/4 sleeve top and simple Steve Madden pointy toe pumps. 🙂

Received with great smiles from the hosts and family – we said our congratulations and ogled the beautifully dress guest of honor, set our gift bag down and were both happy to see that our old neighbors were there with their three little ones. We sat at a table with them and caught up while we gorged on appetizers.

Side note:  I really wanted to bring my camera but Jason said, “NO” ~ I didn’t even feel comfortable taking cell phone pictures so I hate to say this but…I snagged these pictures from google images 😦

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I don’t remember the name of these but they were so good dipped in this beautiful green sauce:

images-1 I tasted cucumber and cilantro and now I must find a recipe to copy!

I’ll leave that for another day..for now I have learned this dipping sauce is green chutney and does not have any cucumber in it whatsoever. They had Tamarind Chutney also but the dates tasted too much like prunes and I did not like the sweetness – on the other hand…Jason loved it..

The chicken tikka masala was AH..MAY..ZINGG..

Recipe Inspirations Chicken Tikka Masala

There were a lot of children there – maybe twelve? Our hosts had prepared for this so they brilliantly hired a magician to entertain the hyperactive little people and it worked like a charm! He had me on the edge of my seat laughing the entire time.  I told Jason on the way home this magician made me want to adopt a five year old so I could have a party that included a magician…He laughs now but we’ll see.. muahh ah ah ah..

Close to the end of the performance, the main course was set out for us to fill our plates.

Jason pointed out ..all of the men were handling this task as the women all sat at their own tables. I told him this was because the women do all the work in labor and after the baby is out! 🙂 I don’t know if this is true or not but seems perfectly logical to me.

There were so many dishes to try! I did try small samples of each of them and my favorites were:

The rice pilaf with peas:

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and…the goat mutton

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I have never eaten goat before..It reminded a bit of as if a lamb and just the part of a cow that makes roast were to have a baby. So good.

After dinner there was CAKE! I was so full from dinner that I only managed two bites but the whip cream frosting was the best. All in all I’d say their Annaprashan was a great success and I was so flattered to have been invited to take part! I love learning about the rituals of other cultures.

And It’s Back to the Grind…

It’s official..the holiday season is over.  I started my last day of freedom (ya know..back to full work weeks..) with a few large cups of coffee and a tasty little breakfast.

Jason tells me I am the best breakfast maker, he loves my eggs, bacon and toast breakfasts. I secretly know he tells me this because he doesn’t want to make breakfast and he wants me in the kitchen cooking his breakfast and serving it to him and I am OK with that. Sorry, feminists 😉

Today, there would be no fried eggs. For some off the wall reason, the previous day, I decided to boil all of our eggs.

I jumped online and found an easy quick recipe for boiled eggs spread.

Instead of frying the pound of bacon, I baked it for 15 minutes at 400 F, chopped up a bunch of scallions, and slathered it in mayonnaise. Toasted some bread and voila…a tasty, easy..open faced breakfast sandwich.

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It’s not the prettiest but it was good..I promise!

Breakfast was followed by our new favorite past time..finding new TV shows to watch on Netflix. We powered through the first two seasons of Orange is the New Black over the holidays..great show and I read it is based on a true story! I may have to put the book on my “to read” this year.

We’re now hooked on House of Cards..good show. It takes some effort to keep up because it’s a political drama with all of the shady business but good scandals for sure… 🙂

So far..it was turning into a super lazy day. I had great intentions of jumping on my bike for a nice ride at some point in the day but there were so many things to distract me!

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Netflix

House projects I will certainly never complete.

The internet is the devil (or is it my own mind?). Somehow, my thoughts turned to home projects. It started out with an online search for a new area rug, then on to book shelves, on to reading chairs, on to ceiling beams, on to whiskey barrel coffee tables ( I stayed on this one for a while..plotting to make my own starting with phone calls to Arizona Wineries to see how much they would charge me for an empty one)  on to Candy Crush. 🙂 The good thing about Candy Crush is you eventually run out of lives..what better way to pass the time while new lives generate than to pack away Christmas?

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See? I NEED a new bookcase! Christmas packed away, tree taken to the recycle center. Which by the way if you are not sure where to bring your “live” tree go to Earth911 and they will provide you the closest recycling center to your location. It’s not only for Christmas Trees either! It’s a handy website with plenty of information to distract you from your workouts! 🙂

For a lot of us..our last day of freedom is over and it’s back to the grind tomorrow so I wish everyone a beautiful week!!

The Plan

A couple of months ago the plan was to bring in the new year with our closest friends and family in the desert..camping. It all sounded great until a few days ago when the plan started to sound…let’s say…mentally challenged.

Winter decided to make an appearance in Arizona!   We haven’t seen any snow in the suburbs outside of Phoenix but it rained all day yesterday and it was less than 30 Fahrenheit for the low. We would have died in our sleep. No doubt about it.

Jason and I thought it would be a better idea to have the celebration at our place. Have a nice cozy fire in the backyard (yep, on a NO BURN DAY, we would’ve totally done it) with our friends and our dogs and our drinks. That plan was perfect and the best thing about it? We wouldn’t have to drive anywhere…

For the most part, everyone was all in but…there’s always a but…they all have children under twelve. Of course the children would have been welcome BUT.. we have nothing entertaining at all for children to do in our house. They would have been bored to crazy.

Plan C…get our daughter to drive us to our friends house and then we could take a taxi home! Brilliant! 🙂 But…she left and went up north with her friends AND..that would mean we would be leaving our fur babies at home..alone…scared..to deal with the loud firecracker noises.

In the end, we decided to stay home with our fur babies and power through episode after episode of Orange is the New Black season two. In between we ate a delicious Jager Schnitzel with hunter sauce, beets and mashed potatoes courtesy of chef Jason. There was also whiskey and wine..of course.

Happy New Year people! In my heart of hearts I wish nothing but peace, love and prosperity to er’yone! 🙂

Culinary Bucket List 2014 ~ July

This months culinary dish was difficult..Now that I think of it, the entire month of July has proven to be difficult in both the kitchen arena as well as the blogging arena.

I think I’m going to blame it on the intense HEAT of the summer time in Arizona. I really don’t want to get into to much of a whiny session on the sucky hot ass summers in that we, who CHOOSE, to dwell…

But seriously…it’s flippin hot here and honestly the extreme weather makes it most difficult to sleep, walk from the car to the office, from the car to the grocery store..yada yada yada. To top it off..it seems that once the humidity rolls in (around July) the air conditioning does not work as well so even the stores are HOT.

So yea..that’s my “excuse” and I’m sticking to it…

Cruising around the internets for a good dish I have never tried before I found a little number I thought would be a good, fresh treat for summertime dinner.

I have never been a huge fan of mixing sweet with salty but I admit this Hawaiian BBQ Beef Taquito dish intrigued my taste buds.. Why not give it a shot?

My longtime friends were my guinea pigs for this months dish..The mister and I were invited over for the evening but he had a bachelor party to go to so it was just me flying solo.  I’m so glad they were so open minded and willing to let me try this out on them with no restrictions! I have such great friends! 🙂

Ingredients:  as found on  website:

 

  • Simple Pineapple Salsa
  • 2 cups fresh pineapple, chopped
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped, divided
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ – ½ teaspoon adobo sauce
  • (from can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce)
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • Taquito Filling
  • 1 ½ pounds flank steak, diced*
  • remaining red onion from salsa
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle pepper, minced
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

 

Make the salsa first..Dice all the ingredients then place in the fridge to cool…maybe the freezer..ya know..if you live in ARIZONA..

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Bonus about cooking for friends?? You can employ them as sous chefs! 🙂

Danny volunteered to dice the onion AND the flank steak! THANKS DANNY!

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Olive oil splashed and heated in the frying pan..I added the meat, the onion and the garlic and cooked until ALMOST done. As soon as that was done, I threw in the all of the spices along with the pineapple and simmered for a couple more minutes.

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So pretty and by the way…this blog is taking so much less more time than the actual production! We of course took breaks for chatting and wine drinking (I have..as you know..a very bad time concentrating so this will take the “normal” person about thirty minutes to do…me? It took about an hour)

No..big..deal..I’m used to it 🙂

I’m also not good at rolling anything tortilla related. Enter sous chef Amy Jo 🙂

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Notice the rolls on the left? She started rolling them as burritos 🙂 hahah Is OK, we caught it in time and the remaining seven were rolled as taquitos..all is right with the world!

These things only need to bake at 350 for about ten minutes..then turn them over and broil for a few minutes ( I forgot this part..it’s necessary so be sure to do it)!

Add the cheese, top with the pineapple salsa and broil until cheese is melted.

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As I mentioned, I’m not normally a fan of sweet and salty but THIS…is the exception. Thank you to my friends for letting me try this out on you AND for being such great sous chefs!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look out weekend..Here I come!

Last weekend, I stuffed my overnight bag into the trunk of my car, strapped myself in and headed to work a half day. Around lunch time I scooted out of there as fast as I could and headed down the highway…

West Coast Snyder family here I come! I was off for my first visit to our long time friends in Southern California. I cannot believe I have let so much time go between visits…no worries, I will be back on schedule ASAP!

The ride there …always sucks. It’s brown, flat and HOT. I do have Satellite radio to help ease the pain but honestly…I almost turned around because I didn’t want to be in the car anymore. I pushed through and rolled into town around dinner time.

I made a bad decision and stopped into the Target in El Cajon to pickup a little goodie gift bag for the preschooler in the family. I’m pretty sure that location is either closing down or their purchaser should be fired because normally…Target has a pretty decent selection for little ones..Not this one. Don’t go… I piddled around there for a good thirty minutes before I finally came to the conclusion..Nothing new is going to magically appear, jump in my basket and scream, “pick me, pick me”!

I settled for a little multipurpose Hello Kitty bag, stuffed it with sidewalk chalk and some bubbles. Not too long after I was parked in the front and being greeted by a super sweet smile from a super sweet little preschooler. 🙂 This little one has a really excellent memory or her mama does an amazing job at keeping close friends and family fresh in K’s mind because she seemed to remember me and even happy to see me. Either way, it was so good to see her little face in person again!

Hugs and hellos were had and I was settled in. And I got to meet the babay!!! 😀

For such a struggle in utero, trying get out too early and all, and a difficult few days of life in NICU, it made my heart happy to see such peace on her tiny tiny face. In my mind she was much bigger..while I was holding her I was mentally kicking myself for not grabbing the newborn cutey pattootey outfit I was going to get for her. Anyhooo…

Into the evening we, adults, enjoyed patio time, conversation and vino.

Cut to MORNING! 🙂

Thump, thump, thump, thump…no gentle pitter patter of little feet here..Little K makes her presence well known with the thump of her little feet bright and early on a Saturday morning. Thankfully..we all fell asleep at a decent hour so I was more than happy to be awoken in such a manner….Again..with the super sweet smile but this time with super sweet major bead head! 😀

Snuggles in the morning before she headed out to Sea World with Grandma and Grandpa while Mommy, Daddy, Uncle B and I took a little day trip to Ramona..La region vinicola del sur California.

First winery stop was to the summer release celebration at Milagro Farm

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My favorites here were the 2013 Pinot Gris and the 2012 Barbera. I had to bring the Gris home with me though because I knew I was saving my wine allowance for our last stop.

Second stop was the wide open space of Edwards Vineyard & Cellars

A comfortable patio for tasting and enjoying company, perfect weather and the gorgeous view.

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* Disclaimer..I did not steal this grape..it was placed in my hand from an unnamed source * 😀

Colorful, aromatic soaps are made and sold here.

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Big lazy German Shepard’s lounge here.

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Some outdoor decor is staged appropriately here.

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I forgot to mention…Baby A (and when I say baby..I mean like she was 9 days old..baby) all the while this little miss was the PERFECT A*N*G*E*L

She snoozed quietly, awoke quietly and just enjoyed being in this world, our environment, with her mommy and her daddy..pure sweetness 🙂

I’m a little upset with myself for not getting more pictures of her for myself but we did have Uncle B there taking photos so I thought it would be a bit much to be all up in her business right behind the other paparazzi 🙂 I’ll be quicker with the camera on my next visit!

OH! I almost forgot…my favorite taste here was the 2009 Syrah. Again, I was still saving my wine allowance for our last stop. *sigh* Next time..next time..

Not too far away was our final stop, the one I had been waiting for, the ever quaint, ever friendly, ever delicious…Chuparosa Vineyards.

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Darn it..I just realized (while uploading the above photos) I didn’t even get pictures of the new indoor tasting area. They really did a great job on this structure..comfortable seating, air conditioning (by this time it was starting to get a teeny bit warm), views of the vineyard and tables for our cheese, bread and cracker spread. Oh mylanta we (and by we..I mean I) ate entirely too much bread and cheese. It was all so yummy..too much to pass up.

My favorites this go round were the 2009 Sangiovese and the 2009 Zinfandel. I spent the remainder of my wine allowance and made them my own. 😀

We said our goodbyes, thanked the people of Chupa, piled into the car to headed back to the house.

I wish I could remember what we had for dinner but by the time we got home, I had had a long day of wine tasting :/ I do know there was burrata involved and it was delicious. I’m pretty sure all I did the rest of the night is eat and drink. Between Uncle B and the Mr. of the house…my glass was ALWAYS full of some sort of tasty wine.

There is a vision in my head of the neighbors coming over and we played Cards Against Humanity. Which by the way…I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (maybe not in any blogs but I’ve said it..trust me) everyone must own a box of Cards Against Humanity ..seriously one of the best games I’ve played in years. Totally foul and inappropriate fun for friends for hours.

The night ended, I don’t remember how but I woke up Sunday morning in a terrible terrible way. Sadly I rolled around the house for a few hours, eventually had to pack up and head out. I was so bad off I didn’t even get to have a snuggle moment with the teeny baby A 😦 I missed out..Again I have to say..next time.

It was hard to walk out the door but I know I’ll be back soon (because I will make time to do so)!

The ride to the beach was painless, I found a good spot, walked along the beach for about twenty minutes before I found my perfect chill station. Threw the towel down, laid back, closed my eyes and just listened to the sounds of the waves, the children playing and the seagulls squawking..squawking is probably not the best word to use.. it sounds like a bad noise but it wasn’t. It was relaxing. I found myself taking in super deep breathes, the smell of the salty air mades my brain happy.

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I wasn’t able to stay too long but the sun helps all and my horrible hangover state was just about non existent by the time I left!

Thank you friends, Thank you San Diego! 😉 I will be back!


It’s a Girls Day Out…

Crap, I was supposed to wake up, at the latest, 0700. The plan was to hit the 0915 Power Yoga class at Sutra Midtown ~ the drive is a little over 15 miles.

Yea, well Kiah didn’t wake me up until after 0800..no way were we going to make it.. Instead we figured we could make it to the Basic Yoga class at 1045, be done in time for lunch! Perfecto!

We left in a timely manner but stupid construction put us a little bit behind schedule..that and the weirdos on the road doing like five miles UNDER the speed limit..Honestly..I really don’t understand..

I wanted to take some pictures of the place for the you all but we got there just in time to toss our belongings into a cubby and head to class!

From the spacious front room – decorated with super cute yoga apparel along with walls clad with amazing local art – the front desk attendant walked us through the clean hall and into the “dungeoneaque” practice space. The entry door was really neat..it was made of iron and had welding marks.. like it was a bunch of little iron piece welded together..and it was a sliding door.

The room was dimly lit and was full of aspiring yogis in savasana setting all intentions. Kiah and I followed suit.

Just like myself..my yoga practice has been random and inconsistent. With that said..My skill level is somewhere between a beginner and the intermediate level. These past few months have set me back so my STRENGTH is totally at a beginner level.. This class actually worked out pretty well.

The instructor reminded me of Seth Meyers a little (1st impression) as the class (slowly) progressed..I was beginning to work deeper into going back to the basics. Damn…that was tough. I forgot how much hard work it is to build strength. I was surprised my legs were so weak, my wrists had a hard time holding on and that I actually broke a sweat. 😉 Mr instructor did such a great job at reminding us to root ourselves and to keep breathing. Those who don’t yoga..yes…we doing yoga…must sometimes be reminded to BREATHE 😉

Although I would have much preferred an intermediate class (they flow faster and require less strength..in my opinion) it was great to get back to the basics and the instructor did a wonderful job at reeling me back in. I will definitely be back to see what else Midtown Sutra has to offer!

And…next time I go back…I will take pictures..the vibe of the place is excellent..you have to see it..

After class, we jumped into the ridiculously HOT car (thank you to the brilliant man who invented window coverings for cars!!!) and drove downtown for a little lunch.

Again..traffic was HORRIBLE..guess who forgot this weekend was Phoenix COMICON.?? Yep..me..bad decision but we stuck it out. I am pretty sure we drove around for like 25 minutes trying to fight traffic and figure out how to get to the restaurant before finding the parking garage adjacent to out destination.

Walking to the Pizzaria Bianco was like walking in an oven..People..it’s friggin HOT here.

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I have been obsessing about this place for months having heard it was one of the best pizzas in the nation..naturally I was curious!  Surprisingly, the wait was not too long and we were seated within two minutes of arriving. The inside is super small, the tables too close together and the acoustics are not that great..it was loud. We opted to dine outside. Thankfully, there was a little bit of a breeze, some shading and we had cold cold drinks..I prefer dining outdoors so I was completely OK with it.

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The staff was wonderful. So attentive but not annoyingly so…and the lady who brought us our AH MA ZING pizza margarita even entertained us and took a picture of me and my lovely when I asked her to. 😉 Thanks lady!!

Now..check out the goods:

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Thin crust with just the right amount of crunch with every bite. The freshness of the tomatoes and sauce is well worth the 15.00 we paid for this little pizza. The mozzarella cheese was perfect and the basil…mon amie…I am not a pizza expert and have no idea what constitutes the best pizza in the nation but I would imagine this place deserves big props for what they create.

Here’s a tip thoug…if you are dining with a male…you’ll need to order  two pizzas…Kiah and I could have probably eaten one per.. we are thanking ourselves for not because that would have been glutenous of us but..we totally could have..

We tossed around the idea of checking the menu again for maybe some dessert or a salad..luckily we just paid the check and left.

Half way home Kiah spotted a little cupcake shop she’s been wanting to try out so I swung around and we went in.

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The Treehouse Bakery is a vegan bakery..

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The selection was not big but they did have the vanilla, chocolate and an interesting combo of strawberry basil..I am curious about that one so I just might have to go back for that one.

The lady behind the counter amused me when I asked her to find the biggest one because Kiah and wanted to share one 🙂 and then she offered to us this  cappuccino hazelnut delight!

I am not sure how, without butter, she made the frosting taste so buttery but it was super good!! Glad we stopped. 🙂