Monday, January 28, 2013

on blueberry cornmeal cake...


I originally saw this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Bleubird. Jame's introduced the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman, to me. She actually made this exact recipe and shared it on her blog. Once I saw it I went right to Amazon and bought me a copy. I mean, come on, the book on it's own is just gorgeous to look at. I had to have it! It was decided way before I even had the cookbook in my hands that this Blueberry Cornmeal Cake would be the first thing I try from it. I was toying with the  idea of making some sort of blueberry desert for a while now so this was perfect. Recipe as follows via Smitten Kitchens Cookbook. 

Ingredients: 

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest (I didn't have zest so I used 1 teaspoon lemon juice)
1/3 cup sour cream
2 cups blueberries, rinsed and patted dry 

streusel:
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon pinch of table salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (I used frozen and worked just fine!)

Cake directions:
1// Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder & salt. Set aside. 
2// Beat together sugar and butter until fluffy with mixer. Add one at at a time. Make sure you scrape sides while doing all this mixing. Add vanilla and lemon zest. 
3// Alternate by adding sour cream and flour mixture in with the butter mixture. Add a little bit of each until everything is combined. Next fold in the blueberries with a spatula gently. 
4// Spread batter in to a buttered or sprayed cake pan. 

streusel directions:
In the same bowl as your dry ingredients combine all the dry ingredients for the streusel. Add the cut up butter and either use a fork, pastry blender or even your hand (which is what I did) and mash everything together to create the crumb consistency. Sprinkle it evenly over the cake. 

Bake for about 35 minutes so that the edges are golden brown. Poke it in the middle to make sure it is done. I just use a toothpicks. As long as it comes out clean you should be set! Let it cool and indulge. 

The only thing that I did different was use lemon juice instead of lemon zest but only because I didn't have a lemon on hand and then also I sprinkle extra cinnamon on the top right before baking it. Only because I loooove cinnamon!!!




Yes, it's as good as it looks! Oh my. I brought it with me to my in laws for Sunday dinner yesterday and it was gone in an instant. Perfect with a cup of tea or coffee. Enjoy!

xoxo.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

on bits & pieces...






1// Some fun in the snow with my main man. 
2// Blueberry goodness. (I'll post recipe tomorrow!)
3// The cutest pig tails in all the land on one Lilla-Bean
4// Admiring my in-law's dog in some killer natural light. 
5// Sunday dinner. My mother in law's delicious lasagna. 

Hope your weekend was as relaxing and happy as mine! 
xoxo.  

Saturday, January 26, 2013

on lemon pepper shrimp...


Wegmans is my ultimate favorite grocery store! Unfortunately it's a east coast thing, although I totally think they should expand into like the whole world! Wegmans sends out their own magazine every month full of wonderful meal ideas. It's something I always look forward to seeing in my mail box plus it's a one of those well-put-together magazines with pretty colors and an easy to follow layout. Something that you don't have the heart to throw out (or at least I don't because I've kept all of them so far!). Lemon Pepper Shrimp was featured in the Winter edition and I just had to try it out. I wasn't sure if my husband was going to like it because it wasn't smothered in sauce or have too much on with it. But he proved me wrong because he was on plate number two before I was even done one. It was a light yet a flavorful dish that I have bookmarked for the future. I followed the recipe with a few changes. 

Ingredients: 
2 large eggs
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 lb shrimp, peeled
1 cup vegetable oil + 1 tablespoon, divided
3 assorted bell peppers (green, red & yellow) 
1 large sweet onion, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoon lemon pepper
1 tablespoon chili sauce 
udon noodles or rice



Directions: 
1// Whisk eggs in a large mixing bowl; add cornstarch and whisk it together until smooth. It will almost look like a thick pancake mix. Add the shrimp and mix in the mixture to coat them. 
2// Add 2 cups of vegetable oil and in batches fry shrimp. About 1 minute each side. Removed shrimp from the oil with a spotted spoon and set aside. Once all shrimp is fried, set oil aside to discard later. 
3// Heat the 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in stir-fry or wok pan (or if you're like me just a regular large pan because I still have yet to buy myself a wok). Stir fry all the veggies until their crisp but tender. Add shrimp, lemon pepper seasoning and chili sauce. Stir everything together for another 5 minutes. 
4// Serve on top of Udon noodles or rice. 


Enjoy! 
xoxo. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

on why I blog....




You knew this post was coming. Eh? I feel like every blogger out there has their own special reasons for blogging daily. I've been blogging since 2009 having been inspired by Julee, the author of My Happy Life By The Bay. It started out to really be a dairy and the daily happenings of me and my little family. Having all my family and friends across the country and being a new mother was hard so I wanted to have a way to connect with all of them through my words and photos. Growing up I always kept a handwritten journal (I still have them!!) so beginning Calico Tales came naturally to me. 

Never did I really truly know how much it would inspire me. The same year I started this blog my husband bought me my first SLR camera and so my passion for photography and capturing every moment started. Once Sebastian turned one and a half I went back to work, so the daily stuff sort of stopped and other things flourished. My love for cooking and making things has become one of my number one favorite things to share. I've always loved experimenting in my kitchen and trying new things. Taking photos of lovely foods and showing you all makes me happy. The thought of inspiring someone to get in their kitchen and create what I have shared just gets me all giddy. Also the power of words is so great in my mind. Reading about things that you can relate to can do wonders for our souls. 

Inspiring people is rewarding. I'm sure most bloggers feel this way. Whatever it may be, whether it's sharing great recipes, or crafts & DIY, or even just words that help someone feel good. It's amazing how much a blog can become part of your life. Not just does a blog provoke great things for others, but also for yourself. For me it's been such an amazing creative outlet. It lets me do things that I never really would of ever thought I would do or share. Plus the knowledge that I've acquired is beyond overwhelming! Just this year I created my own blog template. Okay, it's definitely not what some of these other blogs are out there and I'm fine with that, but it's just fun that I created it. It's feels good and the thought of what I will be able to create next year takes it to a whole new level. 

The blog community is huge. NO. It's colossal! Woah, I was blown away when I went to my first BlogHer last summer. SO many wonderful inspiring people who share their story in so many different ways. I just love that sense of togetherness. Bloggers love other bloggers. We all feed off of each others ingenuity and passions. Then we take it and spit out what we got from it in our own ways. Never ending circle of becoming better writers, photographers, bakers, thing makers, overall better people! It's fun and exciting to be part of it. I like the thought of some random person stumbling upon my blog, to the post with the recipe like my baked ziti I just made last week and cooking it up for dinner for their family makes all of it worth it. 

Just in the past month I've become more outgoing through blogs. Reaching out to people and saying hey. It's been quite humbling because a lot of the ladies I look up to, who have beautiful blogs, actually reach back out! Awesome man. 

I blog because I love it. Simple as that. Everyone does it for different reasons and those reasons often change. But no matter what it might be or whatever the reason is, I always hope people do it because they love it. So, did I get you thinking about starting your own blog? I'm serious. Do it. Whatever it may be because I bet you someone out there wants to read about it! 

High-Five to all the bloggers, blog readers and people who do what they love in this life! Show some love and post a link with your blog or a blog you love in the my comments :) 

xoxo. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

on a buttermilk cake...


Sometimes you just need to bake a cake. I've been wanting to make more sweet things lately and so a cake sounded like a good idea. I love using buttermilk when baking. I use it quick frequently. It gives cakes and pastries a nice texture & taste. This is my favorite Buttermilk Chocolate Cake recipe and has become my to go whenever we are in the mood for some chocolate. It's really great because there are endless ways to dress up this cake. I totally recommend this next time you bake a cake! 

Ingredients: 
2 cups flour
1 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 stick unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream

Directions: Preheat oven to 350
1//Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and set aside. 
2// In small bowl mix together buttermilk, vanilla and sour cream. Set aside.
3// Add butter and brown sugar in the mixing bowl and mix together. Beat until it becomes creamy. Add eggs one at a time on low speed. 
4//Next add dry ingredients and buttermilk mixture alternatively. A little bit of dry and then a little bit of the buttermilk mixture. Do this until all of both are in the mixing bowl. Mix together until smooth. 
5// Butter and sprinkle pans with cocoa so that the cake doesn't stick. Pour batter in either two 8 inch round baking pans or one 13 by 9 baking dish. I used the 13 by 9.  
two 8 inch baking pans bake for 25-30
one 13 by 9 baking pan bake for 35-40



You can use whatever frosting you love best. I used a simple chocolate glaze that I just poured on the top. I figured if I was doing this thing I'd go all the way man!

Chocolate Glaze-
Ingredients: 
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 oz semisweet chocolate 
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Directions: 
1//heat heavy cream over the stove. Once it starts to bubble turn heat down and add semisweet chocolate and whisk until it's all melted. Add powdered sugar. Mix well and pour over the cake evenly. Give it a half and hour to sit so that the glaze hardens slightly. 


Top it with some whipped cream and enjoy! If that doesn't make you do a happy dance then I don't know what will :) 

Happy baking!
xoxo.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

on tangy bbq sauce...



I love getting creative and experimenting with different BBQ sauces. I think I finally found my signature recipe. You can use this sauce for wings, burgers, dipping sauce, use this sauce on your homemade pizzas instead of marinara sauce, even put a spoon of it in your mac n'cheese to give it a little something or use it for pulled pork like us this week! Yum. Make a batch up, put it in a mason jar and keep it in the fridge for when that Tangy BBQ Sauce calls your name. 

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can (28oz) whole peeled tomatoes, pureed with the juices
3/4 cup water
1/2 an onion, minced 
3 gloves garlic, minced
1/2 brown sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
salt & pepper

Directions:

1// In a saucepan heat olive oil and cook the onion and garlic. Add salt, pepper, chili and cayenne. Cook about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent 
2// Add tomatoes that have already been pureed with the juice, water, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard and brown sugar. Bring the sauce to a boil. Now put a lid on pan and simmer on low for about 30-45 minutes. Stir it every once in a while. 
3// Lastly stir in apple cider vinegar and let cool. Store in jar and keep it in your fridge up to about a week. 



Enjoy!
xoxo. 

previously on instagram...


1// Sebastian at work on this homework. Writing capital and lowercase letters. We do a different letter every day after school. 
2// me in my natural habitat. Surrounded by coffee. What else.
3// dinner the other night. Chicken & Ravioli Parmesan. I've never breaded raviolis before and both Bobby and I loved them. I baked them instead of frying them.
4// Guatemalan coffee in my French press right now my current obsession. It's was I look forward to on my weekends.
5// my new snowboarding jacket that my sweet man bought me. It came in the mail the other day and fits just right. Hurrah! It helps with the anxiety of knowing how cold it will be up in the mountains. It will kept me warmmmm.
6// a little boy who always manages to melt my heart just doing simple things like crouching down to look at a toy. He is such a detail oriented kid. 

Today however is for chores! It's not all that bad. I like to get things down and have a nice clean house to start the up and coming week with. Plus I have a four year old now who I've had a seriously conversation with about his toys and cleaning up after himself. In a nutshell I told him that he must pick up all toys from the floor or they will end up in the trash. Harsh? Maybe but you know what, when I came back in the room all the toys were put away. He understands that I mean business and well, jokes aside because I DO! 
Chores aren't all we are doing today. It's cold but sunny outside so we will be taking advantage of that plus painting and creating some new artwork is all on the agenda. 

Have fun!
xoxo. 


Friday, January 18, 2013

on some swoonage...



happy friday! today i wanted to share a round up on of all the things i've been swooning over lately. it's super fun to browse around the web or coming across something you love. i have a folder on the computer just for the things i come across. neat whatever-it-may-be's. 

1// i am in need of a new camera bag and it think this one is the perfect for me. 2// i've always wanted to get my own espresso machine for home. although latte drinks aren't my go-to drink since i'm more of a simple coffee & tea kind of gal, i still would be nice to have this in my home. eventually that is, because right now counter space is very limited! 3// I don't know about you but winter really kills my lips and i'm currently head over heels for nivea's new chap sticks. olive oil is my favorite. it has such a pleasant scent to it and it does wonders for my lips. these were in my christmas stocking! 4// this perfect mug that i must have very soon. 5// this hello apparel shirt. 6// turquoise ring 7// another something that i've been seeing around the blogs i read, this fun green turntable.

What are you swooning over lately?

xoxo.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

on hash brown waffles...


If you don't already have a waffle iron well, I'm telling you now go get one only because making hash browns with it is pure amazing! This is going to be our new weekend breakfast food. It's super easy to make however can take a little time since peeling potatoes always takes like a million years. Usually when something is a little more involved I would prep the night before but you can't really let potatoes sit for too long. Anyways, the extra time was well worth it. Try this out this weekend! 

Ingredients: 
5 potatoes
1 cup diced onion
1 egg
2 tablespoon butter, melted
1/3 cup sour cream 
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt & pepper



Directions: 
Peel and shred potatoes. I used a food processor which I feel like is the fastest way. Rinse the shredded potatoes under cold water. The key to getting really great crispy hash browns is to squeeze as much water out of the shredded potatoes as you can. I grabbed a handful and squeezed then transferred them to a heap of paper towels. Once you squeeze the water out, I then used the paper towels to dry the potato. Put the potato into a mixing bowl and add the diced onion, egg, sour cream, garlic powder and salt & pepper. Mix well. 



Melt the butter. Heat your waffle iron on the highest setting (in my case 6). Once it's preheated brush on the butter on both top and bottom. Add a pile on the bottom of the waffle maker and spread it evenly across and close the lid. My waffle maker beeps when it's done so about 10-12 minutes or until it's crispy and brown. Yum!




I made a delicious Eggs Benedict using these wonderful waffle hash browns. Come on! How amazing does that look!!?? Hash browns on the bottom with some Canadian bacon, poached eggs and scoop of  Hollandaise sauce. I love making homemade Hollandaise sauce. If you've never made it before well, it's super easy and tastes great fresh off the stove. Here's how I make mine--

Ingredients: 
4 egg yolks 
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard  
pitch of cayenne 
pitch of salt

Directions: 
Using a heat resistant mixing bowl (I used a stainless steal one) add the egg yolk and lemon juice and whisk vigorously until they get frothy and double in size. Took me about a good 5 minutes. Now place this heat resistant bowl over a saucepan with simmering water. Not boiling. The key is to know scramble the egg yolks! If you have a double boiler use that, this would be a lot easier. Whisk the egg quickly. Pour melted butter while still whisking. It should thicken up at this point. Turn the heat off and add the Dijon, cayenne and salt to taste. Put a lid on it and keep it on the warm stove until you use it! 

Enjoy! 

xoxo.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

on currently...


Watching// okay so I started watching two new (well, new to me) shows that I've absolutely fallen in love with. First, Son of Anarchy. Oh. My. God. This show was made for me! Sexy biker dudes in a motorcycle club that's involved in lots of crazy stuff. Totally not a show for everybody but I love it and so does my husband. We watch it together. Isn't that cute?! It's really just a badass show and I got so attached to all the different characters. I've got two favorite character. One actually dead in season three and I may or may not have shed some major tears. Second is a lady played by Katey Sagal! She is the shiz. Now, have you heard of Smash? I heard about it a while back but never really knew what it was about until one of my friends explained that it's a show about a group of characters who are creating a new Broadway Show! Love it. Singing. Drama. I'm there. What shows are you watching lately? 

Listening to// Lana Del Ray. I seriously came across her on Pandora when her song "Blue Jeans" randomly started playing and I got all starry eyed by her voice. It's different and edgy. So now that's been on repeat. 

Sebastian is// growing, learning and I'm so dang proud of him. I've got so much love for that kids it's amazing. Currently we are starting to work on homework assignments right after we get home. Homework right now consists of first tracing and then writing the alphabet. He is pretty good at doing both. We come home from preschool and sit down together with a snack and a drink and do whatever it is that the teacher has given. Some days are better than other. I mean, he is four and doing pages in his workbook isn't as appealing as watching cartoons or playing with his toys. But for the most part he understands that it has to be done in order to be able to play. It's pretty amazing and so rewarding to see him sit there with his tiny hands and write the letter "M" with a one of mommy's ball point pens (because that's the cool thing to do) and hold that pen with his itty bitty pincher fingers. That's really all it take for me to drip into a puddle of pure admiration. 

Planning// A trip up to the mountains to snowboard just the husband and I. We plan to go the weekend before Valentine's Day and so that will be our little Valentine's getaway. First of all I've never snowboarded in all my life so that should be interesting. I feel like I can handle it and I'm pretty good with picking up on new things. Secondly, I'm not a huge fan of snow/cold and I already told Bobby that there might be some whining on my part about how cold it is or that snow touch me, like touch a body part! Because that is just not cool with me. He said he would deal with it and I love him for that. Honestly he is pretty excited about it. He bought me a pretty awesome snowboarding outfit that I can't wait to wear. Oh and you will most likely see some video of this experience because husband dearest just bought a Go Pro. And if you don't know what that is, well, it's a small video camera that can be mounted anywhere and in our case record while you snowboard.  Yeah. Hooray. And I'm saying that in the most sarcastic way I can! 

Loving// TEA! Wow. Tea has been all that I've been drinking. Okay, that's a lie because coffee is number one but tea is totally second up. I stumbled across this wonderful tea company called David's Tea from Canada. Oh Canada! All loose leaf teas and dang good too! They have such a vast variety that I get giddy every time I go online to order some more. It's like I want to stick with the kinds I've tried because I love them but then I want to experience all the other teas they have to offer. I've tried a handful and liked every single one. Also when you order they put three one serving samples in your box to try! How cool is that? My last order I splurged and bought a fun travel mug. Do you like loose leaf tea? Any other sweet places I should know about? 

Random// Aren't my new social media buttons darling? I think so :) If you haven't already-- add me. The lovely Sarah put those up for me since I just couldn't figure that one thing out. And now for a list-- new discoveries, a collection of Iphone case to match every outfit, future plans, new readers (Hi!), lovely blogs I read & instagramers I follow who always inspire me, pinterest frenzy, knitted cardigans, my dad, a clean house and all the positive whole-hearted people in my life. 

xoxo.

Monday, January 14, 2013

on cauliflower soup with herb dumplings...



This soup turned out incredible. I really can't say much more because honestly it's just something you have to make and see for yourself! 

Ingredients: serves 6 
Cauliflower Soup

1 head cauliflower
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup white potatoes, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
1 teaspoon caraway seed
2 bay leaves 
4 cups of chicken broth 

Directions: 
Start out with the vegetable broth in a large pot with the cauliflower florets, potatoes, carrot, garlic, onion and the bay leaves. Cook for about 20 minutes on medium heat until the veggies are tender. Season with salt and pepper and the caraway seeds. All you need are the dumplings and you're set! Instructions below. 




Ingredients:
Herb Dumplings

1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup Bisquick
1/2 teaspoon fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary

Directions:
Mix all the ingredients together. Should create a paste. Drop a spoon full of the dough into the simmering soup. With the lid on the pot dumplings will cook on their own! 
Note: I recommend separate dumplings from the soup when you are putting leftovers away (if you have any!) otherwise the dumpling will just soak up all the soup and turn to mush. 

Enjoy. 
xoxo

Sunday, January 13, 2013

on bits + pieces...











Bits & Pieces of our day yesterday.

1// Up early cooking breakfast.

2// New Minnatonka boots.

3// Udon noodles for lunch.

4// My artist.

5// My first macaron. Ever.

6// Dave & Busters for some family fun.

7// Admiring my gorgeous ring.

8// Me and my sweet little boy.

xoxo.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

on cinnamon chip & zucchini muffins...


I literally just made these scrumptious muffins and they are all gone! The boys love them and of course, so do I. Very simple and they're a great source of getting in some extra veggies. Really you can grate anything into your muffins and it comes out tasting spectacular. Zucchini is one of my favorite veggies to put in muffins and some times I'll even put some grated carrot. Sebastian is an extreme picky eater but heck he'll eat these bad boys like nobodies business. It's my best kept secret however just the other day my cover was almost blown when Sebastian asked me Mommy what's that green stuff? Let's just say I panicked and may have told him that it's green chocolate! What? It worked, he bought it :) Try these out, the family will eat them right up. 

Ingredients: 
1 1/2 flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cinnamon
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup Hershey's Cinnamon Chips


Directions: 
Preheat oven to 350.
First peel and grate zucchini. I just used my cheese grater since I only needed one cup, it was really quick to just hand grate it. You can always use your food processor though. Set zucchini aside. 
Next combine the first six ingredients. In another medium mixing bowl mix eggs and oil together. Then fold in the dry ingredients. After that take the zucchini and squeeze out any water that it has let out and add it to the mixture stirring it evenly. Lastly add cinnamon chips!
Spray muffin tins and fill with batter 3/4 of the way. Bake for 22-25 minutes.

Enjoy!
xoxo. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

on greek baked ziti...


I always make some sort of pasta at least once a week. It's fun to mix up ordinary recipes and do different things with them. Like Baked Ziti, why not put a Greek twist to it! I got the idea from Rachael Ray's recipe. We loved it so much that Bobby and I have been having it for lunch at work for the past couple days. Hurray for leftovers. Next time you make a baked ziti do it this way!

Ingredients:
1 pound ziti
1 pound ground turkey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, shredded
salt & pepper
1- 15 oz can whole tomatoes
1 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup fresh parsley
6 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup crumbled fetta cheese


Directions: 
Preheat oven to 350. Get a large pot, fill it with water and turn stove to high. Boil ziti noodles until al dante. Not completely tender but almost. 

Next get a medium pot add olive oil and start to cook the ground turkey. Add onion, garlic, carrot and parsley. Cook until the veggies are tender. Add whole tomatoes and tomato sauce. Use a potato masher (those nifty things!) and break up the whole tomatoes. Season with salt & pepper and let it simmer for about 10 minutes on low. 

Meanwhile, in a sauce pot melt butter. Then sprinkle flour and whisk for about a minute. Make sure it's on low otherwise you will burn it! Then add the milk, stir. This will have to sit for about 5 minutes so that it can thicken. Take it off the heat and add both the grated Parmigiano Reggiano and shredded Mozzarella cheese and mix it together. Set aside.

Toss the pasta with the cheese mixture. Put 1/2 of the pasta into a casserole dish. Spoon about all of the red sauce saving about 1 cup of it to pour over the top of the dish. Now the rest of the noodles over the red sauce and then 1 cup of the sauce over the top (layers!). Sprinkle the feta on the top and pop it in the oven for 30 minutes until it gets all bubbly and brown. 




Enjoy! xoxo

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

on good for the soul...



Paper Aeroplane by Angus & Julia Stone on Grooveshark


I had a lovely day off yesterday. I called it my "me day". I've been looking forward to it for weeks and told myself it would be a day full of things that I love. No stress, no worries just me, myself and I. And that it was! The day started out with some amazing Guatemalan coffee in my French Press. Then I took a shower and prettied myself up. It's always a treat to be able to have the whole house to myself with my music up way too loud and able to take my time in getting myself ready. This rarely happens and that's mostly my fault because I always make myself feel rushed. 

I knew I wanted to get a manicure so that was next. I love manicures and I always make it a point to visit my local nail salon at least once a month. I don't have long nails but since I work with my hands it's nice have them get some love. And the little Asian ladies give them the lovin' they need! Wait. Huh? You know what I mean. The salon I go to is my favorite. You can always tell that they enjoy what they do there and it really shows when they put their whole hearts into making your hands pretty. Sweetness. 

I had some really fun gift cards still from Christmas that I haven't spent so I was off to the holy grail of all malls, well around here at least, King of Prussia. It's huge. Biggest mall I've been to with all the stores you can ever need and all in one spot. I'm not kidding you when I say that I pretty much scaled every inch of the mall. Went to clothing store and shopped. Even went into stores that I've always wanted to go into but ever had a chance. Stores that I knew I wouldn't buy anything from because let's face it, I'm poor. But it was nice. I swooned and oohed and awed. 

Lunch was at Cheesecake Factory. By.My.Self. Geez, have you ever walked into a sit-down restaurant to eat alone. Awkward much? But you know what, it was amusing and I was totally loving it. Even the two old ladies sitting across from me who were giving me the side eye didn't even bother me! I had my favorite chicken salad sandwich with a green salad and diet Pepsi, I paid and was on my way to the next adventure...


Les Misérables. I read the book and was very excited for musical drama. It was beautiful. My breath was taken away by the singing of Anne Hathaway and Huge Jackman. Russel Crowe was a little odd but it worked for me. It was so out there to see him in a role like this one that I couldn't help but appalled him for it. Of course you will shed tears because come on, it's a brilliant story! The coolest thing for me was all the singing. Every breath these actors and actresses uttered were in song. So frickin' cool man. It's a long movie and I totally think people will either love it or hate it. But for me it was magical. 

That was my day. Writing it down like this it almost seems like I really do much but I guess that was the goal. Days like yesterday happen maybe once a year and boy does it rejuvenate the soul.  I came home after the movie with a smile on my face and a soul that felt like it could take on the world. Good for the soul. Soul. Soul. Soul. I love my soul and your soul. 

Do something that's good for your soul. 

xoxo.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

on sesame chicken...


I thought I would share this really great Sesame Chicken recipe with you all. It's one of our favorites. Before we had Sebastian and we live in our first apartment we always order from this local Chinese take out place. It was the usual take out sort of place and with us working so much at that time and barely being home ordering out wasn't unusual for us. Now a days we order or grab food from somewhere only once a week, usually Fridays. And it's funny because we never order Chinese take out anymore! I just make it at home. Healthier versions of our favorites and even though it might not taste exactly the same because it wasn't smothered in death and then deep fried, it's still delicious and in the end you don't feel like you gained 147862 pounds. I don't know about you but sometimes all you need is some yummy Asian food to fill your tummy. You can do so many different things with this dish. Add veggies, like broccoli! I know next time that is getting adding. You can make noodles or rice. I have this current obsession with jasmine rice. But we enjoy it with brown rice as well. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 pound chicken breast, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoon rice vinegar 
1/4 cup corn starch 
1 cup chicken broth 
a dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
3 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted with a drop of olive oil
jasmine rice or noodles 

Directions: 
preheat oven for 375

For chicken: Cut chicken into cubes. There's two way you can cook the chicken. One is going ahead and frying it up. If you do that I recommend that you dust the chicken cubes with flour and frying them in peanut oil. The other way you can do it is make the sesame sauce and baking the chicken in the oven. That is what I did. 

For sauce: Combine the following; brown sugar, honey, garlic powder, sesame oil, rice vinegar, chicken broth and corn starch in a sauce pan. Cook the sauce on low heat until it starts to thicken. 

As the sauce is thickening you can work on toasting the sesame seed. It's simple, just place a drop of olive oil on pan that's on low heat and sprinkle the 3 tablespoons of seeds in. Stir them constantly so that they don't burn. Once they turn a light golden brown they are done!

Next place the chicken cubes on a nonstick baking sheet with pour 1/2 of the sauce even over the chicken. Place it in the hot oven and bake the chicken for about 10 minutes and then flipped cubes with a spatula and bake for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, boil the rice or noodles. Once the chicken is fully cooked place it over the rice and drizzle some extra sauce. Oh, and if you want some spice just a dash of red pepper flake will kick it up a notch. Yummy! 


Remember that if you want to have the crispy breading to the chicken you definitely want to fry chicken with flour or cornstarch coating it. I was going the healthier route. Tastes great either way. Happy cooking!

xoxo.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

on a quick tip...



Have you ever cooked ground meat and stood there working it with a wooden spoon to separate the meat into little pieces? Oh.My.God. By the time I'm done my wrist is always screaming why? For the love of god, all this pain for ground meat!? Honestly, it's such a minor thing to be complaining about but alas I am and so I thought I'd share this nifty (I think clever) trick to use when you're dealing with ground meat. Doesn't matter what it is, whether it's beef, turkey or chicken go ahead and try using one of those old fashioned potato masher!! I swear by this folks. I love me some sensible short cuts and quick tips when cooking or baking. When there's something that will save me time in the kitchen so that I can finally sit my butt on the couch, well, it's gold in my mind. All you have to do is take the potato masher and go to town on the meat. Take all your frustrations out on it and viola, you have nice bits of meat ready to load in a taco or whatever the dish it may be!

xoxo.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

on new year goals...


Hello 2013! I welcome you. December was quite a crazy month for this gal. I was working like a madman and supplying the crazy shoppers with their caffeine. I haven't been around much and I'm sure that all my billions and billions of readers have been missing me tremendously. Now that the Holidays are behind me (and what a wonderful Holiday season it was!) I should be able to make an appearance more often. Thanks for sticking around.

With this New Year upon us I am happy and healthy and ready for a fresh start. I always feel like the New Year brings new beginnings. I am the type of person that loves to live in the moment but most of all thrive to see life not just for what it is, but for what it can be. Sure there will be doubt, ups and downs, good and bad days but in the end we are just here to make this life what we want it to be. I think a lot of people lose focus of that.  

I'm a dreamer, so that whole seeing what life can be is huge for me. I daydream and wonder about the future and always love to set goals, big & small, to keep me moving towards the things that I want most in my life. It works for some and not for others. This year will be a great year for change and big things. My little family and I have some future plans in affect and soon they will bring us to a new chapter in our life. It's fun and scary all at the same time when reflecting on the future and what could happen this year but hell, I've got my arms wide open! 

Out with the old and in with the new, here are some of my new goals for this year...

We have a very busy schedule and because both my husband and I work full-time communication is super important for us. It can get a little hectic when we slack on keeping up on communicating with each other about things that need to get done or up and coming events or even bills. Keeping organized helps with communication. I am probably one of the most organized people in all the land but my husband not so much. And I've given up on trying to convert him so this year I am determined to help both of us stay on the same page.  


I'm addicted to being busy. Is that even possible? It's become a problem at times. There's always something to do and that mindset can get me in a heap of stress. This is always on my list and I'm always working on slowing down and I have become better at realizing when I take too much on. I have a tendency to start too many projects or take on too much and when I start I have a hard time stopping. I have a mission and, boy oh boy, stay clear of me man. I don't need to do everything in the whole world and all at once. I know why I take it all on and it's that wonderful feeling of accompaniment when it's all done. The weight lifted of my shoulders. The biggest thing I'll be working on is investing more of my soul into my family and the things that I love and balance the rest. This will enable me to be a better wife and mother! Amen. 

I would like to spend time in practicing my photography. There are so many resources and online e-courses that I want to take advantage of. I think I'll be selling my current Canon and upgrade this year! Fingers crossed. Hey you husband, you hear me, time for this lady to move on up. 

This is something that has been on my list for a while. I want to go on more adventures. Hike and go up to the mountains. Bobby actually just bought me some snowboard clothes and we are hoping to go up to the mountain next month for a long weekend. We shall see how that goes since I've never snowboarded or skied in all my life. The things I do for my fella. 
I want to travel more around Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas this year. Just pack a bag and go see things. This is something we don't do enough of and I crave more of the woodsy outdoors. 

I want this blog, my little corner, to grow. I hope to network more and create more relationships among the blogosphere. I totally need to get a little more organized with all my ideas and also with my time. Establishing time to really sit down and spend time on my blog is probably the hardest for me. 
One of my Christmas presents was an awesome online e-course dealing with blog design and right as we speak I am designing my very first blog template. How cool is that?! Knee deep in Html and fonts and all kinds of crazy things, gets me so excited! I am hoping to have my new design up and running in the next couple weeks!!

So, macarons are like my most favorite dessert in the whole wide world but I've been deathly afraid to make them. It's quite silly actually but for some reason I feel like I'm setting myself up for failure. The problem is that Beca from Tumbleweed is always posting photos on her Instagram of the most amazing looking macarons that I ever did see! I'll keep you posted on my macaron baking happenings. 
The other thing I want to try my hand at is a soufflé. Just saying "soufflé" has me all intimidated! Lord. It's just too sophisticated for me. But I must. No I can't! NO, I must. A soufflé is going to be created this year. And it's going to be epic. 

It's been a while my friends and it's time for some new ink. I've got a book full of ideas and sketches of numerous tattoos that I want. So this year I'll be adding some new art. 



You might not usually make yearly goals but I encourage you to! It can be anything at all. I think it's nice to have things to work at! Here's to making this year grand. 

xoxo. 
BLOG DESIGN BY BELLA LULU INK