Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Memorable May

Ah, it's the last day of the month... Where did it go? For us, it flew by in a flurry of contract signing, loan paperwork, and never-ending packing. In between all the house stuff though, we did manage to have some fun! Here's May in pictures:

It was good start to the month, with margaritas and Coronas to celebrate Cindo de Mayo.

It wouldn't be a complete month without snapping pics of my dogs. We got the dogs some little bones at the beginning of the month.

They get pretty crazy over those little bones.

Gizmo returned to even more of his normal self, a little more everyday.

I love that little tongue.

Many of the hubby's dinners got a thorough stare-down.

Gizmo took many naps with his favorite person.

Brothers loved on each other :)

When one howls, so does the other.

Haloti can't even keep his eyes open while begging for food.

Here's my favorite things I baked this month:

Chocolate Chip Coffee Muffins

Lemon Curd Fruit Tarts

Brown Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

My favorite recipes of the month:

Spicy Basil Chicken

Grilled Tomato Basil Bread

Raspberry Peach Lime Lemonade (with vodka, of course!)

And finally, on Mother's Day, in the middle of a complete downpour, the hubby put up our new mailbox at the property. One step closer in our journey!

While May was awesome, I don't think it can touch June and moving out of where we are now. Hope everyone had an amazing May!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bread

I may have packed away most of my baking stuff, but I couldn't resist trying this. It seemed after I had packed everything away that I came across dozens of cookie and cupcake recipes that sounded delicious! I'm blaming Pinterest.

I may have packed up the pantry for the most part, but I haven't packed up the kitchen. This left me access to... my loaf pan! I haven't packed my basics yet either, so I still have flour, sugar, brown sugar, oatmeal at my fingertips. All the things I needed for this bread. Convenient :)

This bread is the perfect marriage of oatmeal and chocolate chips. It's moist and oh-so-good. I had a half-slice for breakfast and I'm trying to keep myself out of the rest of it. Emphasis on the word trying.

By the way, the hubby's aunt keeps changing her mind on how much she wants me to bake. When it was first decided we would stay with them, it was no baking at all while we were there. A couple of weeks go by, and it changed to I could bake twice while I was there. Then it was once a month. She has now arrived at once every 2 weeks. LOL. I'm a little worried about how much I packed up without easy access to. We'll see how that goes :)

2 cups flour
1 cup oats
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups milk
2 large eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour through salt. Whisk to combine, set aside.
3. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine milk through vanilla. Beat well. Mix in dry ingredients with a spatula. Stir until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
4. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan. Bake in preheated oven 55-110 minutes, until knife inserted into bread comes out clean. Cool in pan 30-45 minutes. Turn out to a cooling rack and let completely cool before storage.

Recipe adapted from Bake or Break

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tomato Cucumber Mozzarella Salad

This salad just screams summer to me. It's also the perfect side kick to anything on the grill. Chicken, steak, salmon, shrimp skewers, etc. We enjoyed it last night with grilled BBQ pork chops. Yummy! We only have this salad every now again, mostly due to the expense of using fresh mozzarella. Oh, but there's hardly anything out there that beats fresh mozzarella!

I found this recipe years and years ago via Cooking Light. It's actually a Sunset recipe that was listed under African cuisine. I was intrigued. The original recipe calls for panela cheese, which I've never been able to find, even in Portland. No, I didn't hoof it downtown to any of the crazy, unique stores to look for it, but I did look for it at the grocery stores, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, New Seasons, etc. Granted that was years ago, so maybe someone in Portland carries it now. This is a mute point however, because I've been making this salad for too long with mozzarella. The hubby and I are in love with it, as is.

I only make this salad in the summer, because with only a few ingredients, the flavors really stand out. You want tomatoes and cucumbers at their peak for this salad.

I'm one of those weirdos that likes cucumber skin and doesn't mind the seeds. I quarter the cucumber, slice it, and use it. If you aren't a rebel like me, feel free to peel and deseed your cucumber.

A nice, big hunk of fresh mozzarella. See the lovely moisture on this? It screams freshness :)

It's time to dice up the cheese, trying very hard not to eat it all while you are dicing it.

Combine tomatoes, cucumbers, and fresh mozzarella in a large salad bowl.

The dressing is simple, lime juice and olive oil. More lime juice than olive oil. Whisked, not stirred.

Drizzle the dressing over the salad, season to taste with salt and pepper, toss, then serve.

I've got leftovers in the fridge right now, and writing this is making me want to eat them. I'm trying to practice some restraint, but... it's not looking good :)

3 large tomatoes, diced
1 english cucumber, quartered and sliced
3/4 lb fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Combine tomatoes, cucumbers, and cheese in a large bowl.
2. Whisk lime juice and olive oil together.
3. Drizzle dressing over salad, season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss gently to combine.
4. Serve immediately.

Adapted from Sunset

Monday, May 28, 2012

What I'm Loving For Summer 2012

I love online shopping! Right now I'm just a lurker, but trust me, once the funds free up... Well, I'm not saying I'm going to go crazy, but there will definitely be a little bit of room in the budget to reward myself for being soooo good. Here's what I'm loving for summer this year:

1. White dresses

I'm so loving the trend of white dresses. The ones that say more "fresh" than "wedding" of course :) I love this crocheted number from Victoria Secret. Turquoise is also very trendy this summer, and all the turquoise accessories look so smart with the white-dress trend.

2. Turquoise
And speaking of turquoise! I'm really into the laid-back, almost hippie vibe this summer. I think the sandal in turquoise would look fabulous with a white dress. A simple dress also just begs for a more elaborate shoe.

3. A printed bag

As a girl who almost exclusively carries a black bag, for some reason it's hard for me to find a print I like. However, I must be tiring of my rut because I've found tons of prints that I love for summer. Will I take the plunge? That remains to be seen...

4. Charm jewelry

Another turquoise item. Can you tell I'm totally into turquoise right now? :)

I love these bracelets from American Eagle! Might I add that these would also look amazing with the white dress trend? Then again, something like these would go with most summer looks.

5. Ombre mani/pedi's
I'm not much of a mani girl, but I love a summer pedicure. I really liked the ombre hair trend, and I'm also enjoying the trend on nails. I love the collections that Sephora has, this purple being my favorite. I really liked the pink collection and the black/grey collection has well. I may try to replicate this with my own polishes. I've got 3 similar colors, I might just have to get another 2...

Hope everyone is having an awesome Memorial Weekend!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Raspberry-Peach-Lime Lemonade

Wow, that's a mouthful!

This is a variation on the White Peach Lemonade recipe. All week, I've been thinking about the White Peach Lemonade, and how it made one lip-smacking cocktail. Is it bad that I made another batch, just to use in cocktails? Nah :)

I liked this even better than the White Peach, however the hubby thought there was too much going on. I could taste each of the individual ingredients, and I loved every single one them. I don't think anyone will be surprised that the raspberry was my favorite part!

The raspberries and peaches looked so good, even just simmering in the pan.

My puree became a wee bit frothy after its spin the food processor.

Letting my combination of fresh lemon juice and fresh lime juice chill in the fridge with the puree. I decided to throw the lime juice in the mix, because I had 3 very sad looking, little limes leftover from last week. I was afraid they weren't going to fulfill their lime destiny, so into the lemonade they went.

And just in case you are wondering, that's a Miller Lite, an IPA, and a couple of Corona's behind the juice. Wow, we sound like alcoholics. There are more things at my house than  just beer and vodka, trust me :)

At the risk of sounding even more like a lush, this was soooooo good with vodka and over ice! I highly recommend for you vodka-fans out there.

4 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
10 oz frozen peaches
10 oz frozen raspberries
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup fresh lemon juice
lemon slices (garnish)
vodka (optional)

1. Combine water, sugar, peaches, and raspberries in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool for 20 minutes.
2. Pour peach mixture into food processor, and pulse until smooth. Pour peach mixture into a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and cool for 1 hour in the fridge.
3. Strain peach mixture through a sieve, discarding solids.
4. In a large pitcher, combine the juice from the peach mixture, lime, and lemon juice. Stir to mix. Serve over ice. If adding vodka to lemonade, combine 3 oz vodka with about 10 oz of juice.

Adapted from Cooking Light

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Product Review: Maybelline Color Tattoo Eyeshadow and More

I've got a round-up of products this time that I really wanted to love, but I was disappointed by all. I guess my expectations are high. I love trying new makeup though, so I'll have to continue to muddle through some products that I don't make love connections with. It's worth it to find that diamond in the rough, when you do stumble upon it.

1. Maybelline Color Tattoo Eyeshadow

I bought 2 colors in this eyeshadow, the taupe and the bright purple. The bright purple looks pretty bright in the little pot, however, I put on thin layers and didn't get a garish color. Cream eye shadow is a staple for me, it's how I get my eyeshadow to last all day. My faves and staples are MAC's Paint in Stilife and Urban Decay's Glide-On Shadow Pencil in Delinquent. Those shadows give me everything I need: Pigment, intensity, and most importantly, longevity without creasing. The first cream eyeshadow I ever tried was  Revlon's cream eyeshadow, back when it first came out (long time ago, I was in college!). That stuff creased in a matter of hours. I moved on to higher quality eyeshadows, and left creasing behind. Now that I'm on a budget, I'm wanting to get a better price on cream eyeshadow. This Maybelline version is the first drugstore brand I've tried in years. How do I feel about it? Eh. In case you missed that, that was an "Eh". The shadow glides on and the intensity is nice is when you first put it on. However, I came back hours later and not only had the pigment faded, but the shadow had creased. Dislike! I did run my finger over the creasing and it disappeared, but so did the pigment. Oh, and I do prime my eyelids for shadow. The verdict? I will not be re-purchasing this.

2. Salma Hayek Nuance Renewing and Brightening Serum

I got a really good deal on this one, so I had to give it a try. My staple serum is Olay's Daily Regenerating Serum, and I'm in love with that product. My secret affair with Salma Hayek's serum lasted a few scant weeks. Here's what I love about Olay's serum:
1. A little bit goes a long way.
2. I love the thick, velvety texture of it.
3. It makes me glowy when I put it on pre-workout.
Here's what I hated about Salma Hayek's:
1. A little bit does not go a long way. I have to use twice as much, and the container is smaller than what I usually buy.
2. It's texture is thin and doesn't feel as moisturizing.
3. I hate the applicator, which is a roller ball. Ok for an eye product, not ok for a full-face product.
The verdict? I'm not repurchasing this one. In fact, I don't think I'm even going to finish this product.

3. Sally Hansen's Complete Salon Manicure in Plum Luck

Here's the deal on this product. The color is nice, and my pedicure remained chip free for a week. I guess I'm either picky when it comes to nail polish, or else spoiled by O.P.I. I'm not an expert nail painter, I have to do so much cleaning up after I paint my toes that I end using half a container of polish remover (little bit of exaggeration). The brush on this nail polish is impossibly wide. I just can't maneuver the thing. I had so many smudges outside my nails that I ended up taking half the polish off when I was cleaning up my smudges. I then took all the polish off, and started over. I was somewhat satisfied with the results the 2nd time around, but not completely. O.P.I. has the best brushes on their polish's, even a nail novice like me can do a decent paint job. The brush on polish is very important to me. Maybe I'm just out of practice with painting, but I'm torn on whether to try to learn to maneuver the brush on this polish. I probably will though, because I can get this for cheap and O.P.I. is $8-$9 a bottle. The verdict? Undecided, but there are many other products that I like better.

Kung Pao Shrimp Rice Bowls

The cleaning out of the freezer continues...

Tuesday's nights dinner used a couple of items from the freezer. I used some frozen shrimp and then threw in a bag of frozen broccoli for good measure. The meal ended up being quite tasty. It's always easy to come up with good results with a stir fry. Really, it's just sautéing the veggies to your desired tenderness, and adding a flavorful sauce. It all comes down to science :)

The recipe I used didn't call for broccoli but I added some for more veggies. I also doubled the sauce, because well, we like sauce! I always feel with Cooking Light recipes that the sauce is never enough.

The results? Completely edible :)

Some freshies. Minced garlic, roughly chopped peanuts, chopped red pepper, and chopped celery. I love all the crunch in this dish.

Some ingredients for a flavorful sauce. I actually left out the salt. I figured there was enough saltiness from the soy sauce. I was right. Chile garlic sauce, rice vinegar, sherry, soy sauce, and homemade chicken broth.

Whisked into a pretty, shiny sauce.

I like to coat the shrimp with cornstarch, salt, and pepper, and then sear them for a very short amount of time. They are finished in this short cooking time, so I remove them from the pan and add them back at the very end of the dish.

I add all the veggies, the chopped peanuts, and the garlic next. Stir fry for a couple of minutes, until the veggies are tender.

Add in the broth mixture, and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until it begins to thicken up. At this point, I turn off the heat and add the shrimp. Toss to combine. Serve over hot cooked rice, drizzling pan sauce over the rice for maximum flavor.

1 lb large shrimp
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tsp sherry
2 tsp rice vinegar
1/2-1 tsp chile garlic sauce
2 tbsp peanut oil, divided
1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
1 cup red pepper, chopped
1 (12 oz) bag of frozen broccoli, defrosted
1/4 cup peanuts, roughly chopped
1 tbsp garlic, minced
hot cooked rice

1. In a large Ziploc bag, combine shrimp, cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Shake to coat. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine chicken broth through chile garlic sauce. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
3. Heat 1 tbsp peanut oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. When hot, add shrimp. Sear 30 seconds-1 minute on each side, remove from pan. When shrimp are cooked, set aside.
4. Heat remaining tbsp peanut oil in pan. Add celery through garlic to the pan. Stir fry for 4-5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add broth mixture to the pan, cook for 2-3 minutes or until broth mixture begins to thicken. Remove pan from heat, and stir in the shrimp. Serve immediately over hot cooked rice.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light