Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hey, Joe

Our Memorial day weekend looked a little something like this:

We made a life changing (in the food department) purchase this weekend and I couldn't be more excited. Actually, I think Mark might even be more excited about his new child and I'm just happy that I have an official sous-chef! Mark spent several weeks researching grills and smokers all while my taste buds were watering, wondering when we would finally be able to enjoy some delicious grilled bites. We finally brought our new child home on Saturday and he has been sitting proudly on our deck ever since. We have used our new Komado Joe the past three nights and each dinner has been tastier than the last. We broke in the grill on Sunday night with The Chidester's Jalapeno Basil Burgers, we celebrated Memorial Day with a very American dinner of grills brats and corn on the cob and tonight we sunk our teeth into maple soy marinated skirt steak. I look forward to warm summer nights, margaritas on the deck and seeing my wonderful husband throw down with Bobby Flay someday (a Food Network obsessed girl can dream, right!?)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

40 Day Challenge

Now that the sun is making a consistent appearance and a week on Kiawah Island is in my near future, I have hopped back on the workout wagon in a big way. I never really hopped off, but during the dreary winter months, my motivation was lacking and the thought of making a trip to our basement treadmill was a chore. The whole CrossFit thing was fun for awhile, and I definitely learned how far I can push myself, but overall, the culture was just too intense for me. So back to running and gym time for me. I am not a marathon runner and I do not run miles upon miles every time I lace up my shoes, but when I run, I'm reminded of the personal motivation I found within myself several years ago to get healthy and lose weight. I have never had huge body image issues, but I would be lying if I said I didn't struggle with it when I was younger. When I had free time that I didn't know what to do with my freshman year of college, I used that time to run. It was a slow and steady process but as I saw my body change shape and extra pounds melt off, I had an extra confidence boost and my mood, which is an above average state of happy, skyrocket even beyond that. It's amazing how that happens.

My West Coast sister started a 40 Day Challenge this week and I decided to join up! It's nothing crazy or life changing, but a nice jump start to summer that we can all keep each other accountable while doing. The challenge is simple- 3 miles every day for 40 day. Ideally, this means running 3 miles a day but if you want to mix it up, mix it up! Bike, stairs, walk...however you feel that day! I'll be alternating 3 mile runs with 3 miles on the stairs and 9 miles on the bike. I have also been strength training and mixing in Pilates and Yoga a few days a week. Mark and I usually get 95% of our day right in the eating department so I will be keeping up the healthy eating and cutting back the wine to only two or so glasses a week. If you want to link up, too, click on over to Danica's blog and join the challenge. I'm excited that my lovie sisters will be joining, too! We're thinking about a weekly Nido girl post.

Here's to being beach ready for the end of June! Ready...set...GO!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Portabello Pizza

Mark always tells me that I put so much creativity and effort into even the smallest of meals. My philosophy is if I'm going to eat, it might as well be delicious. As my dad always says, if you are going to make a sandwich, MAKE A SANDWICH. Although it's unrealistic to think that every bite of every meal is going to send you over the moon, it doesn't hurt to try!

I saw The Hungry Girl share this idea on The Today Show several weeks ago and when I saw the lonely, uneaten portabello mushrooms and leftover homemade marinara in my fridge, the culinary fireworks went off in my head and I pulled all pizza friendly toppings out of my fridge. If you like mushrooms and pizza as much as I do, this is a healthy alternative and easy to make for one- or ten! Just scoop out the mushrooms and top with lots of love and everything your tastebuds desire. I topped my portabello pizza with marinara sauce, green peppers, onions, kalamata olives, a sprinkle of mozzarella and freshly shaved romano cheeses, crushed red pepper and oregano. Bake at 350 Degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Wakey, Wakey!

Sunday morning's breakfast was a pretty genius idea if I do say so myself. A breakfast sandwich sounded like the perfect ticket to a great day and it was fate that we had all of these ingredients ready and waiting. I like to think that this is a somewhat breakfast version of a BLT, with a little California twist and our friend, the incredible egg, of course. And since I'm not well versed in the department of frying eggs, the kitchen roles were flipped and Mark gave me a quick tutorial!

California Breakfast BLT

1 fried egg
2 slices cooked bacon
1 slice vine ripened tomato (with a quick sprinkle of salt and pepper)
3 small avocado wedges

All sitting on top of a toasted whole grain English muffin.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I Love My Mom

Although I tell my mom that I love her everyday, I'll leave some extra special love on my blog today for Mother's Day as I shout my love from the rooftops!! If I am even half of the mom that my mom is to my sisters and I, I'll be doing a good job someday. I find myself lately stopping in my daily tracks with these "a-ha" type moments as I do things my mom has either taught me to do or those things I complained about doing when I was younger. It's all starting to click.

Thank you, Mom, for loving me unconditionally, cheering me on from the sidelines and for becoming a very best friend. I couldn't do this thing called life without you.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Cadillac Margaritas

Mark and I sipped on margaritas on our very first date and we enjoyed them last night with our Cinco de Marko celebration dinner! They seem to be "our drink". And although they are extra tasty on Cinco-de-Drinko, here's a recipe to keep in your cocktail file for a hot summer evening or your next fiesta. I was first introduced to the Cadillac Margarita by my Dad and after ordering one last night, I'm convinced this margarita is the way to go. A unique twist on a classic taste...goes down as smooth as Jello.

Cadillac Margarita

1 1/2 oz. Tequila (the good stuff- Patron silver is a nice choice)
3/4 oz. Cointreau
1/2 oz. Gran Marnier
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
2 oz. sweet and sour mix
Splash of orange juice

Muddle limes, pour ingredients, (the Gran Marnier is added last as a "floater") shake with ice, and then strain into a bucket glass filled with ice. Drizzle 1/2 oz. Gran Marnier on top and garnish with a lime wedge.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Feliz Cumpleanos!

Happy Birthday to my wonderful husband who I love so, so much! Thanks to a busy work week, celebrations will continue into the weekend. For tonight, we'll do double duty celebrating for Mark and Cinco de Mayo with margaritas and Mexican food (which is what we ate and drank on our very first date!) Ole!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Classic Belgian Waffles

Weekend mornings were made for two things- relaxing mornings and amazing breakfasts. They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so when you have time to go all out, why not make the most of it? Our waffle maker was one of those items I questioned whether or not to register for. I really didn't think it was all that practical but when else could I ask for one. I must say, this kitchen appliance has gotten lots of love but it has taken several tries to finally find the perfect belgian waffle recipe. Look no further. Emeril's recipe yields a product of perfection. Slightly sweet, rich in texture yet fluffy enough to float on, it'll be hard to ever beat this concoction.

Mark and I make quite a team and I don't think I give him as much kitchen credit that he deserves. As I whipped up the waffles on Sunday morning, Mark was in charge of filling the rest of our breakfast plates. He will tell you otherwise, but you heard it here that his scrambled eggs are better than mine.

Classic Belgian Waffles
recipe from Emeril Lagasse

2 cups cake flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 large eggs, separated
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 cups milk
non-stick cooking spray (if your waffle iron is not non-stick)

Preheat waffle iron. In one medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a second bowl, use a wooden spoon to beat together the egg yolks and sugar until the egg yolks are completely dissolved and eggs have turned a pale yellow. Add the vanilla, melted butter and milk to the eggs and whisk and combine. Combine the egg-milk mixture to the flour mixture and whisk just until blended. In a third bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Using a rubber spatula, gentlyfold the egg whites into the waffle batter. Do not over-mix! Pour enough batter into the waffle iron, just to cover the grid. Cook until golden brown, or according to your iron manufacturer's instructions.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Riding the Royal High

I should have written this royal recap on Friday, while my emotions were still fresh and while I was still immersed in all of the royal beauty, but the truth is, I have been too glued to all things royal and the level of obsession at this point might be unhealthy. I will never forget waking up before the sun to watch Wills & Kate walk down the aisle in what was like watching a real life Disney movie being played out before my eyes.

Kate (or should I say Dutchess Catherine) looked absolutely flawless. Her dress was beyond gorgeous and truly fit for a princess. I had to do a double take when I first saw her dress because it's just like what my mom wore in 1981! I predict lace sleeves prove to be a huge bridal trend in the coming years. Kate's hair, her makeup and entire bridal look was just timeless. We will all look back at this in 20, 30, 40 years and it will still be beautiful. As my beautiful great Aunt Theresa used to always say, "simplicity is the key note to fashion".

And we cannot forget Princes William and Harry. Watching the childlike exchanges between them was a quick reminder that these young men still have the same souls as the two boys I watched grow up with me. And those weren't the only glances throughout the ceremony. The looks between Will and Kate spoke volumes and you can tell that the two of them are madly in love. Le sigh.

The tradition and pageantry that was reflected in the beautiful wedding ceremony was like nothing I have ever seen before. It truly took my breath away. Kate's four minute walk down the aisle with her dad was when I couldn't hold in the tears any longer. After all, I did the same thing not even 8 months ago.

And there is something so special about billions of people, coming together and sharing in the excitement of Happily Ever After. In a world with such heavy news in recent months, it was nice to turn on the television to see nothing but pure joy and happiness. There was no political agenda and no political bias involved. The sole reason behind the celebration was just as a wedding celebration should be- LOVE.

all images via The New York Times.