Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Very Merry Christmas

The entire season is my absolute favorite time of year.  I love the decorations, the lights, the Christmas cheer.  I always decorate our place right after Thanksgiving.  I think Ryan thinks it's a little crazy, but what can I say...I love it!

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Tonight for dinner we're having one of our tried & true meals.  This casserole goes great with basically any entree, or can also be served alone.  Tonight Ryan BBQ'd some chicken breasts to go with it (for him).  And I had soy chicken nuggets with mine (haha, I know weird concept, but they are my FAVORITE!).


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly butter a 1-quart casserole dish
(you can use basically any shaped dish for this).

What you need:
16 oz. frozen broccoli-carrot-cauliflower mix (usually called "California Mix"), thawed & drained
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 1/4 cup of shredded Swiss cheese (save 1/4 for topping)
1/3 cup of sour cream
1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
2.8 oz. can of Durkee French-Fried Onions (save some for topping)

Mix all ingredients, pour into casserole dish, and bake for 30 minutes.

Sprinkle on toppings (reserved swiss cheese & Durkee onions) and bake for another 5 minutes.

Allow casserole to rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

Yum!  This recipe can also easily be doubled if you're serving a crowd.  We usually have it as a side dish during Thanksgiving :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Our Trip to CABO

Ryan and I just got back from spending 4 days in sunny San Jose del Cabo.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  Perfect weather.  Gorgeous Beaches.  Amazing vacation.

We stayed at the Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort.  We got margaritas at check-in :)

We swam in the ocean...

We spent most of the time laying on the beach in the sunshine.

The weather was perfect!

We can't wait to go back.

Price of Gas

Shockingly we went from this:

to this:

WOW.  Wonder what took so long - haha.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Haircut for Alvin...

For the first time ever, I cut Alvin's hair myself...well technically just his face hair and a little trim on his ears; but I still considered that a feat since he is extremely squirmy and has long hair! He did not enjoy it one bit, but I think I did a good job! He is such a cutie :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Dinner is Ready!" (Cookbook)

I always love to try new recipes and different ways of doing things.  While browsing at Barnes & Noble, I found this cookbook called "Dinner is Ready!" by Deanna Buxton.  You can find it on (which is where I ended up ordering it from).  I figured I'd give it a try, after reading almost everything on their website.  The concept is that you can make 30 meals in ONE DAY!  Crazy, I know.  I don't have a freezer big enough, so that's probably not gonna happen anytime soon - hehe.  Plus, I hate when the freezer is completely full.  I like when it's 1/2-full...that way I can find things and see what's in it!

Tonight I made 3 of the recipes (in fact 2 of them are cooking while I'm writing this right now...very convenient).  Some of the recipes are a little weird-sounding, but like any other cookbook, you have to filter out for your own personal taste and also I tend to always tweak recipes.  I don't think I ever make something from a recipe, "by-the-book."  I always add a little of this and a dash of that to get it to the taste that I (or Ryan) wants.  Tonight, the ground beef stroganoff (with my twist) was taken mostly from the book.  The other 2 things I made (specifically to freeze for later) were: Spicy Sausage Spaghetti Sauce & Chicken Tortellini Soup.
They smell delicious simmering away on the stove right now, side-by-side.  It's great because as they simmer, I can do a bunch of other stuff.  Then I just let them cool; package them for the freezer, tag them, and it's all set to go!  I highly recommend doing meals this way if you're busy, even if you don't use this book.  I can say for a fact, I wouldn't use all these recipes, because some just sound  a little too strange.  However, by making your own meals and freezing them, you can eliminate wondering what the mystery words are on the frozen-food box ingredients :)  Just a thought...

What's For Dinner? [Easy] BEEF STROGANOFF

Tonight you're getting a 2 for 1 special!  Haha.  I made regular ground beef stroganoff for Ryan and soy "ground beef" stroganoff for me.  Recipe is basically the same.  It's quick, it's easy, and best of all you can package the extra sauce portions and freeze them.  Then they're ready to thaw and add to hot pasta when you don't feel like cooking :)

Beef Stroganoff

2 cups of sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup chopped onion (this is about 1/2 a large yellow onion)
1 (10 1/2 - 10 3/4 ounce) can of cream of mushroom soup
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/4 cup sour cream (for the soy version, use MORE sour cream)
Linguine (or whichever other noodles you prefer/have available)

Saute the mushrooms in butter for about 5 minutes (I did it longer because I cooked the mushrooms for both recipes at once...meaning 4 cups instead of just the 2).  Remove from heat.

Brown the onion and ground beef together in a separate pot/pan.  Add garlic powder.  Remove from heat when done.


Add the mushrooms to the meat/onion mixture.  [Off the heat] Gently stir in the cream of mushroom soup, pepper, salt, sugar, and sour cream.  Allow to cool slightly.

Since I knew we wouldn't finish all this stroganoff tonight, I had my freezer tags (2"x4" labels) and baggies ready to go.  In quart size freezer bags (I only use the Zip-Lock Freezer bags b/c the Glad ones suck!), I portioned out 1-cup servings into individual baggies.  The labels say what day the sauce was made/frozen and how to re-heat it (hint: thaw, and then add a little milk to thin it if it's too thick when re-heating).  Now you have dinner for the evening and a bunch more portions for whenever you need them!

Yum.  Yum.  Yum.

Sprinkles Cupcakes!

Oh how I love Sprinkles Cupcakes. I could go on and on about them. And for those of you that know me, you know I will! I discovered my love for Sprinkles cupcakes while living in LA, and now they finally opened a location here in NorCal in September! It's at Stanford Mall. Ryan and I specifically love the RED VELVET ones. If you're going to stand in the 20-minute line outside of Sprinkles in Palo Alto, then you absolutely must get one of the Red Velvet cupcakes. They are THE BEST! They have a Pumpkin flavor for fall that is really delish also. Mmmmm...

P.S. Here is a list of all the current flavors:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Shopping Discount Codes

Being a fashionista in this recession our economy seems to be having can only happen if you know the secret codes :) There are always coupon codes to find online, and if you don't mind your email inbox being flooded, you can have coupon codes sent to you too. Here are a few online codes to help you out as we enter into the holiday season. We know how we all love to shop online:

Restoration Hardware: FFE0816 (Expires 11/17/08) - 20% off

Express: 6496 (Expires 11/20/08) - $10 off $20 purchase, $20 off $60 purchase, OR $30 off $100 purchase)

Neiman Marcus: WRAPNM (Expires 11/19/08) - FREE SHIPPING

JCrew: SHOESALE (Expires 11/19/08) - 25% off all regular-priced women's shoes & boots

Victoria's Secret: GET30 (Expires Tomorrow) 30% off any single clothing item

Oh, and BCBG is having a 50% off sale right now! Great stuff for fall.

K, that's all for now...Happy Shopping Recessionistas!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Halloween 2008

So I know this is a few weeks late, but I loved our Halloween costumes this year, so I thought I'd share...

(Alvin as a Lobster)


I LOVE to cook, so I figured at least a small part of the blog had to relate to that. So every so often I'll do a "what's for dinner" section. I'll try to include the recipe and photos also. Yum!

So for my first installment, tonight we're having Yankee Chicken Potpie. And by we're I mean Ryan - haha. I'm a vegetarian, but Ryan eats meat. I love to cook, so he's kinda my guinea pig. Lucky for him, I'm pretty darn good (if I may so)! But feel free to ask him, and he'll tell you the truth :)

The great thing about dinner tonight is that it is made in the slow cooker. Have a I told you how much I love my slow cooker??? I have this Crock-Pot, made by Rival:
It's great because it can make A LOT of food. But also works for smaller recipes. The prep time probably takes about 20-30 minutes and the total cooking time is 4 hours on the LOW setting. Enjoy!

Yankee Chicken Potpie
(This recipe is adapted from Lynn Alley's Recipe from her book The Gourmet Slow Cooker, Vol. II)

Mashed Potato Crust
3 large russet potatoes (peel 2, leave 1 unpeeled)
1 cup low-fat sour cream
4 cloves garlic (I used the jarred, minced garlic)
S & P
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh chives

Potpie Filling
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups of chicken stock
Pinch of nutmeg
S & P
1 leek, white and green parts ONLY, thoroughly washed, sliced thin
About 3 large carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 cup of frozen peas (optional...I left these out - we don't like peas!)
1/2 tablespoon tarragon
1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh parsley

Mashed Potato Crust
Boil a large pot of water. Cut the russet potatoes into large chunks and add to boiling water. Add a few dashes of salt to water as well. Boil potatoes until very soft, about 40 minutes. Remove the pot from the stove and drain the potatoes. Mash. Add the sour cream, garlic, and S&P, to taste. The potatoes should be creamy. You can add a splash of milk or some butter, depending on what consistency and flavor you prefer. Add the chives at the end, and mix.

Potpie Filling
In a large saucepan (over medium-high heat), melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Add the flour and cook, for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the stock and continue cooking for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. The mixture should be thick! Add the nutmeg and S&P to taste. Pour this mixture into the slow cooker.

In a saucepan, over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Saute the leeks, carrots, and celery for about 10 minutes. The veggies should be just getting soft, not mushy.

Transfer this into the slow cooker. Add the cubes of chicken. Gently mix everything together in the slow cooker. You should have a thick stew-like mixture now.

Cover and cook for 4 hours on LOW. Make sure the chicken is cooked through.

Spoon the potato crust over the top of the filling and cook for another 45 minutes to an hour, until the mashed potatoes are brown around the edges.
Garnish with parsley.
Time for Dinner!


This will be the first of many posts about our dog Alvin...mainly because I'm obsessed with him - haha. He is the cutest dog I've ever seen in my life. (No offense to all you other dog owners). The picture above is a picture of him as a puppy. He is now almost 4 years old (his birthday is in January). He has the personality of a cat because his favorite activity is sleeping in the sun or sleeping on someone's lap...or just sleeping. He is spoiled beyond belief and basically does whatever he feels like (not that I'd reccomend letting your dog do this!). He really is the sweetest dog and LOVES people. Ironically, though he is usually lazy, he also has the most energy I've ever seen. Occasionally he likes to tear around the house and play tag with us. Here are some more pictures of Alvin:

P.S. Ryan hates when the groomers put a scarf around his neck - haha.

Our first posting!

So I've finally decided to start our blog.  I'm sure it'll mostly be me writing unless Ryan decides to add anything :)  I'm not sure how good we'll be about keeping this up - but I figured it's worth a try right now.  Seeing that it's 2 months from being the end of 2008, the goal is to keep the blog going through 2009 - hehe.  Hope everyone enjoys reading...