Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I'm only a couple days away for leaving to NYC and then to our European cruise so I'm going to take a break from writing in here to finish packing, squeeze in a couple more workouts and play with my lil Grace Grace.  We're pretty much going on our dream honeymoon to Greece, Italy, Turkey, Monaco, France, and Spain and I know that all Mat and I are going to talk about every day is how much we miss our baby girl.  If only we could take her with us! 

I've never shown how long Gracie's tail is. It is extraordinarily long!  The breeder usually docks the tail on a cockapoo but our breeder chose not to and we're so glad she didn't.  We heart it and everything about her. We're definitely going to miss her to pieces. 


I promise to take tons of traveling pictures to post when I'm back in September!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cousins Weekend in San Diego

My husband has lots of cousins who are all very close.  Most of us live in socal so we always try to get together as often as we can.  I really love that part about being in his family now.  Once a year, we try to do an annual cousins trip and this year, we decided to go to San Diego for one big slumber party at Karen and Chris' house.  

Friday night we arrived to their house late evening.  I had to show a picture of their new kitchen that they did all by themselves.  I don't have a picture of it but they installed two sky lights in the ceiling for natural lighting during the day and they did everything themselves except install the granite counter tops.  It looks amazing! 

I love all the storage in the island for cookbooks and wine bottles.  I totally want to do something similar to my dream home one day.

The night started with late night Thai food and wine.

And the eating and drinking begins....

Saturday morning we started off the day with a good hearty breakfast at the Mission and I wore my comfy Sanuk's (most comfortable walking shoes ever).  They have a lot of Mexican inspired dishes which I love. 

The french toast was really fun and unusual.  It was made from cinnamon buns!

I couldn't help but start the day with a mimosa.  Happy me =)  They also had fresh made flour tortillas to go along with some of the dishes.

It was overcast on Saturday so we couldn't go to the beach like originally planned.  We decided to go to the Wild Animal Park Zoo where it was more inland, sunny, and gorgeous out.  I hadn't been to the Wild Animal Park Zoo since college so it was so fun to experience the tram ride again. 

I absolutely LOVE this zoo because it's not actually a zoo but a breeding facility for the animals to coexist and roam around in a natural habitat.

If you look closely, my cousin in law is the sweatiest man alive.  He is the one in the navy shirt in the picture below.

When we initially started to plan the weekend, the first thing that people emailed out was to have dinner at Searsucker.  I would definitely come back again.  The restaurant had such a cool vibe and the place had a great lively energy.  The restaurant was sectioned off so that part of it served as a traditional restaurant, the middle section had a bunch of vintage settees and low tables to be set up like a lounge, and on the other end served as a bar area.  How clever!  The decor was also beautiful and eclectic... and vintage and modern at the same time.  There were ropes hanging from these fixtures with light bulbs, the tables looked like there were made from reclaimed woods, none of the chairs perfectly matched but looked like they belong, we were served with cute turquoise glasses, there were beautiful Turkish looking rugs in deep colors, and the list goes on.

Throughout the restaurant, there were all these signs that said, "Eat" and we did just that.

I never saw anyone carry that many glasses in their arm at once.

Duck fat fries.  That's all I had to say.  French fries are my favorite and duck fat?  Why not?

From the small plate section of the menu, I think we ordered half of it and shared them amongst the table.  I couldn't keep track.

There was a giant size strainer hanging from the ceiling. Totally random but it fit perfectly the funky decor of the restaurant.

A soft egg yolk over potatoes.  I don't know why this idea seems new to me because it isn't.  It is just fun and innovative to see very casual plates all spruced up.

Someone told the waitress that it was one of our birthdays and we got a free mini cake.  Oh and our bill always looks sorta scary like goes on and on.   You will never go hungry with this family.

Mat and I really have to visit SD more often.  The Gaslamp is such a lively place to go out and it was fun just walking through the streets.

After dinner we headed to Solamar to have drinks on the rooftop.

To end the night, Karen cooked us 4 or 5 different types of ramen in one pot.  Eating ramen brings back so many nostalgic memories from my childhood.  I couldn't resist but to have a bite, a slurp and another bite. 


'Til the next cousins trip....

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sorry but I don't have a post for you today!  I had such a fabulous time over the weekend that I did not get a chance to put together.  Hope you guys had a great weekend!  Here is a totally random picture from Saturday.  It reminds me of the wonderful summer we are having =)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Orange, Ginger, Carrot Juice

Starting off the morning with fresh juice is such a treat!   I usually get 5 to 8 lbs of organic oranges during orange season per week.  It sounds like a ton of oranges but crazy enough.... Mat and I always finish it!  While I will completely miss the sweet like candy, super juicy navel oranges that just went out of season, I try to embrace whatever I find at the farmers market.   This past week I got a bunch of valencia oranges that just began its season.    Because their season just started, they were a little tart so I thought it would be perfect to make juice with and sweeten it up with carrot juice.  I had ginger leftover in my fridge from the chicken tikka masala I recently made so I threw that into the juicer too.


5 medium carrots peeled
5 lbs valencia oranges peeled
1 ounce ginger root peeled

I think this is the easiest way to peel an orange with a knife.  Trim the ends off of the orange so you have an even surface to place the orange on the cutting board.   Cut off orange skin from flesh like the picture shown below on the right.

Lucky for me I have a fancy Breville juicer but you can use any juicer.  Doesn't have to be fancy.  It just has to work.  The colors of the juice are so pretty.

Whenever I make fresh juice, it always has foam on the top.  Does your juicer do that too?  It was a weird phenomenon to me when I first juiced from my juicer.


Is this summer going by fast or what?!?   I'm trying to enjoy the last weekends of the summer here as much as possible since we will be out of the country for a chunk of August to September.  This weekend, we are heading to SD to enjoy time with all our cousins, enjoy the sun and beach at La Jolla, and hang out in Gaslamp.  Hope you guys have a lovely weekend too!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pizza Party - Part 3 Proscuitto Pizza

I always get inspired for different pizzas from my favorite pizza places such as Pizzeria Mozza in LA or Pizzeria Delfina in SF (the Mission location is the best).  When I go there, I try to remember the components of a pizza and recreate it at home.  It totally brings back the memory of first biting into that pizza all over again.  This is my take on a proscuitto pizza.  I wanted to create the same savory, salty, fresh flavors with the cheese, proscuitto, and arugula but for me, the pizza was missing the sweet component.  That's where the caramelized onions come into play.  A little bit goes a long way so I dotted the pizza with little bits of caramelized onions to balance the flavors.  You don't get the sweet bite all the time but just sometimes which ends up being sorta perfect.


Pizza dough
Olive oil infused with garlic and red pepper
Freshly grated Fontina cheese
Fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
Caramelized onions
Baby arugula

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Roll out pizza dough on floured board and place on baking pan covered with parchment paper.  Brush olive oil over pizza dough.  Add cheeses and caramelized onions to pizza dough.  Bake in oven for 6 minutes.  The crust should turn lightly brown and the cheeses should fully melt.  Add baby arugula and proscuitto on top.

I kinda overdid it on the cheese.  Actually not kinda... I did.  Can you tell?  It tasted awesome anyway though.  I sprinkled the caramelized onions throughout the pizza.

The dough should bubble and blister in the very hot oven.  The fresh baby arugula and proscuitto is added as soon as the pizza comes out of the oven.

The different layers of flavors marry so well together.  Life doesn't get much better than this.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pizza Party - Part 2 Toppings

Pizza is one of my favorite things to eat so I paid special attention to the pizza toppings for our pizza party.  I brought out the best of what I had in my fridge and the stuff I got at the farmers market.  I wanted to have a good mix of toppings for everyone's pizzas so people could create a great variety of pizzas with a good balance of flavors.  I categorized my toppings so you can see how I did it.  I tried to put in 2 to 3 items in each category.

Pizza base


Extra goodies for flavor 

Freshly grated Fontina
Fresh mozzarella

Fresh herbs/greens
Fresh basil
Fresh thyme
Fresh arugula

I almost forgot to mention that I had the tomatoes and garlic roasting in the two ovens while Mat was helping me to caramelize the onions.  Our house smelled divine as my brother in law and his girlfriend joined us.

I also made a garlic, red pepper infused olive oil to brush on the pizza dough before putting the toppings on it.  The olive oil creates a nice golden color on the crust of the pizza dough when it bakes.


1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Sprinkle of crushed red pepper

Add olive oil, garlic cloves, and crushed red pepper in a small sauce pan.  Simmer on low for 10 minutes 'til the garlic lightly browns.  Do not burn the garlic.

I am posting part 3 tomorrow so stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pizza Party - Part 1 Pizza Dough

Pizza making parties at home are so much fun.  It's so much fun because everyone gets to make their own pizzas so your guests do as they like.  We make pizzas, eat, talk, drink, and repeat.  It's a perfect weekend activity.  When I am getting ready for the pizza party, I'm all about fresh ingredients so the first thing I do is prepare the dough.  It is a little tricky to make so I tried to make all my notes in this post so you can see that it's really not that complicated.  There are a few key things to remember though.  Fresh dough is well worth the effort.  Trust me on this one.

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics
Makes 6 pizza doughs

1 1/4 cups warm water (100 to 110 degrees F)
2 packages dry yeast
1 tbs honey
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
2 tsp sea salt

Microwave water in a microwave safe container or glass measuring cup for 45 seconds.

Combine warm water, yeast, honey, and extra virgin olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook or paddle attachment.  When the yeast is dissolved (you can use your hands or spatula to help dissolve the yeast), add 3 cups of flour, then sea salt, and mix on a medium-low speed.  While mixing, add up to 1 more cup of flour, or just enough to make a soft dough.   Transfer the dough to a floured board and knead the dough for about 10 to 15 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with the flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to your hands.  The dough should be smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover it lightly with oil.  Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Dump the dough on a floured board and section it in 6 equal parts.  Put the dough portions into a baking pan lined with parchment paper and cover with a damp kitchen towel to let it rise 10 more minutes.  Use the dough immediately or keep the dough covered in a damp kitchen towel 'til you are ready to use it.

Wow.  My kitchen island counter top is super messy!  First note, make sure that when you are making  the dough that your bowl is not super cold.  This will deactivate the yeast and deter the dough from rising properly.

Do not put the salt directly into the wet yeast mixture.  This will also deter the dough from rising.  Remember... flour, then salt, mix, and more flour.

Kneading the dough for a long while is such an important step.  It totally changes the texture of the dough.  Make sure to take your time and knead the dough 'til it's pretty and smooth.

Sometimes I put the bowl in the oven (when it's not on) to let it sit undisturbed but since I was using both ovens I left it out on the counter.  Just make sure that it's not sitting in a cold place.  The dough rises better in a warm place.  After rising, the dough should at least double in size.

The dough should rise and turn really soft and pillow-y.

Roll out the individual dough portions on a floured board.  I like thin crusted pizzas so I try to get mine as thin as possible.

Place the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  No oil is needed on the parchment paper before baking.

I will continue the pizza party series tomorrow.  To be continued....
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