Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cheers to 25!

This month, I celebrated a milestone of my life -- my 25th birthday. I can't believe the time has come for me to turn a quarter of a century old. I'm thankful for the challenges and experiences I've had over these last 25 years. They really have made me who I am today.

This is the sixth birthday I’ve celebrated with my husband now. It’s been such an amazing few years because he has striven to make each one special. I'll never forget how he made me a huge ice cream cake for my first birthday with him, which stayed in my friend's fridge for months after. He never forgets and I hope he never will. I love and appreciate him so much. 

This year, we celebrated at Mimi’s Café, which is the place I celebrated my birthday with AJ for the first time. I love the ambiance of this place especially because of the Southern cooking and decorations. Everything is yum here.

I enjoyed a very delicious Poulet à l’Orange Crêpes:





We had such a special evening filled with laughter and conversation. AJ gave me the new Jack Johnson CD, “From here to now to you,” berry fruit snacks, and Oreo cheesecake cupcake from Sweet Tooth Fairy (all my favorites), and a very hilarious card about a husband who loves his wife through all of her emotions, that I'll put on my night stand to laugh whenever I look at it. Mom, Dad and Holly gave me a nice starter knife set which I'm so, so excited to start using as I practice my way to being a chef. I'm that much closer to becoming a better cook, or so my husband hopes :)








On Saturday, we returned to Mimi's with Mom for breakfast. Such a great selection here: huge hot chocolate with whipped cream and delicious hardy omelet! I was in love. Thanks for bearing with me during these celebrations, family!

This celebration was simple, sweet, and filled with love--just the way I like it. I'm so grateful for a wonderful family and in-laws. They're the greatest joys of my life. Cheers to being 25!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Violin Lessons

My little sister, Holly began her long awaited violin lessons on Saturday and was super excited about it. We all know how difficult instruments can be at the beginning, but practice makes perfect. That's what Holly does. Practice. A lot. She continues to play her violin at home after coming back from practice and Boston... well he continues to cry along with her playing. And Holly then frequently responds with "Sorry Boston, I know I'm bad at this but I'll get better. I promise. You don't have to cry!"

Sorry Boston, we'll just have to wait til that day comes. It's tough being a baby esp. having to listen to violin practice every single day. But for his Aunt Holly, he will endure but pout every time she begins playing :)



Thursday, November 7, 2013

Gordon Ramsay's Sticky Lemon Chicken

My dad is a culinary arts teacher at a technical college, and he loves the famous chef on Food Network, Gordon Ramsay. Ramsay is a talented chef with great knowledge on food and technique, and his funny to watch with his snide remarks and Bad A attitude. One of Dad's students actually got to work with Ramsay in the kitchen during his externship at the Sundance Ski Resort. Bringing in highly skilled chefs may be a reason why Sundance has a great culinary reputation.

Today, I tried making Ramsay's Sticky Lemon Chicken recipe for our family dinner. It's one of Dad's favorite recipes. Chicken and Sherry, who could resist? This recipe turned out great. The chicken was moist with a hint of lemon, Sherry and soy sauce. It's a delicious balance and you can even make the outside a little extra crispy. It's delicious served with a side of jasmine rice, steamed vegetables, or Ramsey's Champs. Check out the recipe is listed below. There's also a link to his easy video.


Servings: 4
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 25 mins


Ingredients:


Sticky Lemon Chicken

1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 lemon sliced thickly, plus juice from another half of lemon
1/3 cup water. Add in more a little by little if needed.
Bunch of fresh thyme, minced with scissors
2 tablespoons honey
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley

Instructions:

1. Cut chicken and season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large pan at about medium high heat, add the chicken, and brown thoroughly on both sides with garlic for 5 minutes.

2. When the chicken is a nice golden-brown, add the soy sauce and Sherry vinegar. Top with the lemon slices and squeeze the juice from half of that other lemon over everything. Add cup of water and, over medium-low heat, simmer, turning the pieces from time to time for about 6-7 minutes (or until most of the water has cooked away, whichever comes first).

3. Season with the fresh thyme and drizzle with honey and some more soy sauce (if needed). Add a good grind of pepper and cook for another five minutes or so. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve with champ--that's Irish for mashed potatoes with green onions.

It was a quick and easy recipe and most importantly, my family enjoyed it. Yes, even little Holly ate it. It's a perfect mixture of sweet and sour, something to shake up the flavor of our chicken.We served it with white rice. A little more vegetables would have been a great addition, so we'll try that out next time. This is definitely a recipe I'll be turning to again and again. Check out the link above to see how he does it. Here is the recipe for his Champ.

Champ
1/2 lb floury potatoes (e.g. King Edward), peeled
pinch of Sea salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
Bunch of spring onions (about 6–8), trimmed and chopped
1/2 cup double cream
1/2 cup whole milk, plus extra if needed (Europeans love their whole milk, but can be substituted)

1. Cut the potatoes into similar-sized chunks and boil in salted water for about 10 minutes, until tender when pierced with a small sharp knife. Drain well.
2. Mash the potatoes while still hot, using a potato ricer if you have one, then stir through the butter and spring onions.
3. Pour the cream and milk into a saucepan and bring just to the boil. Take off the heat and gradually pour on to the potatoes, mixing well. If the mash is too thick, add a little extra milk. Season generously and serve.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Boston's First Halloween

Children give so much meaning to life. Our boy in particular, has brought us more joy than we ever thought possible, even as such a little dependent infant. AJ and I usually don’t dress up for Halloween (except for Halloween parties which we haven't thrown for years), but this year, we actually had reason to dress Boston up. I love family Halloween costume themes so Daddy was Batman and Boston was Daddy’s little sidekick, Robin – the Dynamic Duo – because he will always be Daddy’s little buddy. Holly dressed up as Super Girl and me as Wonder Woman. We were a family of super heroes for the evening and had so much fun! Holly was especially intrigued that she matched her nephew, which made them extra cool.
Batman and Happy Robin
Our family and the pumpkins this year
For Boston’s first Halloween, we opted out of taking him trick or treating and we went to our annual family party instead and he partied it up…in dreamland. There is a fun a tradition of serving soup at our family party. This year, we had broccoli and cheese, chili, creamy potatoes, and lime chicken with beans. We served them in bread bowls and it was delish! It was fun to sit and listen while parents told funny stories of their childhood and the nuances of parenthood to grandparenthood.

As his cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents took turns holding Boston throughout the night, we saw how much he was loved and it brought us joy and comfort to know that besides us, there will always be family for our little boy to lean on. **I guarantee that baby holding brings automatic lovin’ and joy to the holder, by the way.**


Grandpapa and Baby
Cousin Tiff and Boston
One of Boston's biggest fans, Supergirl
Chaperoned by an aunt and uncle, Holly and all of the cousins piled into a Suburban and drove around different neighborhoods to trick or treat. It’s a tradition, which even AJ and I have participated in (because it’s weird to trick or treat beyond teenage years and even weirder to do so in a costume beyond age 12, we were just proud chaperones). But the kids have kicked it up a notch. They know exactly which homes give out the large treats and that’s where they aim for. This year, there was an anomaly as they each came home with a toothbrush as well. We suspect we have a dentist on the trail. What a smart man! I rest assured that even with the large haul the kids came back with this year, their rotting teeth will be delayed by brushing, occasionally. J/k.
Cousins
Family is where it’s at. They sometimes are the cause of headaches and heartbreaks, but they also bring their fair share of joy. What a wonderful night. :)