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Category Archives: Guides, Notes and Desires

Side Note No.1

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This is my first side note for September. I’m not expecting many, and I could have just added this to my brownie post earlier, but I wanted this to be separate. It’s  sort of a way for me to let you all know what’s going with me and what to expect for the future if everything goes according to plan.

apples

First off, it’s apple season Sept-Nov. Because the summer has been quite a hot one in the next two weeks I will be trekking out to Yukiapa (by Riverside County, CA) for some apples and apple cider donuts. If you care to check, last year I met a friend, a cat named Tom, whom I want to visit this year again.

Image5177523552_13988d1c1b_b

My September itinerary is as follows:

  1. Snow line Orchards (for Donuts) – Sept. 21,22
  2. Riley’s Apple Farm – Sept. 21-22
  3. Making Apple Pie and Apple Butter for some Pork Chops (week of Sept. 22-28)
  4. Disneyland! – Sept. 28 (If all goes according to plan)

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What I Did for Valentine’s Day

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I’ve had quite an eventful weekend. This was the first weekend where I forced myself to do homework, tons of homework, after work  and throughout the week, instead of waiting for the weekend. This was because Friday, February 15 was my Valentine’s Day. I haven’t had a chance to really hang out and see Boyfriend the past three weeks or so. And I know there’s a chance I won’t be seeing him this weekend either (thanks odd work schedule). So we decided to be indulgent, and extravagant, and lovey-dovey (sort of), and have a Valentine’s Weekend.

Not so much because we’re lovers of the holiday (and I’ve read plenty of blog posts about how Valentine’s day should be every day, and why should men assume that they can be awesome this one day, and completely romantic and the rest of the time be completely ignorant in the ways of love) but because we haven’t seen each other in a long time, and we haven’t been alone in a long time, and just, couple-y, therefore Valentine’s way the perfect excuse to go over the top.

That being said, I was so happy with how our plans turned out that I, sadly, didn’t take many photos (being so lost in the many moments). My apologies. I did take a few photos. And I hope to be better in the future about it, however, there are recipes that I made (even though two photos are missing), that were completely amazing, and I can’t wait to make them again!

But first, say hello to my three new Otto fishes. I could only get a shot of two at a time, so you’ll have to imagine the third 🙂

photo 3

First recipe up, is this lovely Molten Chocolate Cake. 

photo 2

This was my first time making this recipe, so I followed it to the T, except for used two larger ramekins (to serve two, obviously), and adjusted the cooking time to 15 minutes. The original recipe follows.

4 pieces (squares) Bitter-sweet or Semi-sweet or just plain sweet Chocolate (this is a matter of preference)*
½ cups Butter, chopped into several pieces
1 cup Confectioner’s or Powdered Sugar plus an extra 1-2 Tablespoon for dusting, separated
2 whole Eggs plus 2 Egg yolks
6 Tablespoons Flour
*I actually used chocolate chips, and eyeballed what I thought 4 squares would be. It really doesn’t matter here how much chocolate you use. I think mine was roughly 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chips.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease/spray about 4 custard molds/cups or small ramekins with a non-stick spray and then place them on a baking tray (cookie sheet).The next step requires melting the butter and chocolate. You can use the microwave, in 20 second increments till the butter is melted and the chocolate is softened. Or, you can use a double boiler. (I used the microwave. It’ll look scary with all that butter surrounding the chocolate, at least it was scary for me, however you have to keep stirring, and it’ll all work out).
Add 1 cup powdered sugar then whisk together until smooth.
Add the 2 eggs and the 2 egg yolks then whisk together again until smooth. Stir in the flour till just combined. Divide the batter into the four (or two) ramekins you’re using.
Bake until the sides and top are firm, but center is slightly wobbly and gooey. Let sit for 2 minutes (no more and no less, I MEAN IT), and serve by inverting to a plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or top with whipped cream.
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Next recipe comes without a photo. This one came from Add A Pinch, and was really an amazing recipe. The only thing I can say I followed was the gorgonzola butter and improvised, to taste, the rest. Below is my rendition of the recipe, but you can follow the link to view the original.
Skillet Steaks with Gorgonzola Butter
2 Ribeye steaks
Salt and pepper
Herbs de Provance
1/2 cup cognac
Gorgonzola cheese, about 4 tbsp
4 tbsp butter, softened at room temp
Pat dry the steaks to they are free from blood. Take a fork and liberally stab the steaks throughout, on both sides, and by the fat areas. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the steaks in a ziplock bag and add the cognac. Close the bag and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, and up to several hours.
Next, season your cast iron skillet* and heat it over medium heat. Take out the steaks and let them come to room temperature (about 10 minutes) while the skillet is heating up. Dry the steaks again, when taking out of the cognac marinade. Do not do this liberally. I did because I was so hungry and in a hurry, and my steaks did not brown as well as I would  have liked.
Place in skillet, and cook about three minuets each side. I started off with two minutes a side, but had to turn mine about two and a half times because they were thick .
While the steaks are cooking, mix the butter with the gorgonzola cheese, and place in fridge, to wait for the steaks.
When the steaks are ready, sprinkle top with herb de provance and let sit for three minutes before plating. When placing on plate add a generous tbsp of the gorgonzola butter to melt and ooze around the meat.
Serve with potatoes, salad, bread, and good wine.
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Lastly, this recipe has been in the making for a while. I added more cheese than the recipe called for and added my own spices to the mix, however, the recipe basics were thanks to allrecipes.com.
This recipe too, was too good to be photographed. I even forgot to photograph this while writing up this post, when eating leftovers. So Sorry!
Baked Ziti
1 lb dry ziti pasta
1 onion, chopped
1 lb gound beef
2 (26 oz) jars of your favorite pasta sauce (I used tomato and basil flavor)
1 tbsp salt and pepper (or to taste)
1 tbsp herbs de provance
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp grouond garlic and ground onion powders
dash of liquid smoke
1 1/2 cups sour cream
6 oz of provolone cheese (sliced)– again, I used I believe 8 oz, a full Sargento bag of sliced provolone
6 oz of sliced mozerella—again from sargento, and I used the whole bag
1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes; drain.
In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat. Add spaghetti sauce, and simmer 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F . Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, Provolone cheese, sour cream, 1/2 sauce mixture, remaining ziti, mozzarella cheese, provolone cheese, and remaining sauce mixture. Top with remaining mozerella cheese slices and grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted.
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photo 1
Lastly, I want to say Happy Valentine’s Day again to all those that celebrate or enjoy the lovey stuff that comes with the holiday. The photo above has become a standard dessert treat I’ve been making myself after working out and a light dinner. I’m feeling great and happy, and I must say, nothing makes me feel better than strawberries, chocolate sprinkles, and whipped cream.

What I’ve Been Up To Thanksgiving Week

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In my last post I promised a better turn around time for posting and that I was better after… the dark day.

In any case, I am better, slightly. Therefore, since it’s the middle of the week (and payday for fancy ingredients is tomorrow) I think I should at least show you all my crafty and cooking goals to show I’m not a complete couch potato.

First, I need to redo Boyfriend’s mom’s blanket. The crocheting took a bad turn when I realized it was turning into a type of trapezoid shape. It used to happen a lot with me and I couldn’t figure out what the problem was, until I spoke with a brilliant and dear friend of mine earlier today, and found out you actually need to chain 1 at the end of starting a new row. WHO KNEW!

That’s a lot of yarn to make into balls.

 

 

On top of remaking 6 hours worth of present (I’m very, very bitter about the whole thing, obviously), I’m going to be remodeling my apartment. We got new owners that are very professional and although I’ll be bug sprayed next Thursday (meaning, taking everything I own out of the bathroom and kitchen cabinets and dumping them on my living room in one heap) the whole “new beginning” has inspired me to start over. Start fresh, and better myself, and my living space.

For one, I’ll be getting a sewing machine! Either my friend’s or from amazon; it’s a lovely addition to my apartment either way.

I’ll also be redoing my bedroom. I’ve got colors and a bit of a theme I’m working on right no and everything is coming together nicely. The wall color will finally be changed, and my bedding has just arrived from Macy’s making everything come together. Speaking of bedroom remodels, I’ll be working on my very own latch hook rug for the bedroom in the matching colors to compliment the walls and my bed (idea taken from abeautifulmess blog).

Lastly, I wanted to introduce my new Samsonite!

I got it on amazon and I couldn’t be happier! It’s perfect in every way. And I decide what to use it for, although I’m leaning towards my crafts and possibly my sewing needles and buttons, while my fabrics could be stored in the same brown train luggage they rest in today.

I just can’t stop coming up with ideas on how to fill this bad boy with items I probably don’t need.

 

What’s To Come

You can look forward to at least three different dessert recipes in the next week, as well as another rib recipe (haven’t decided which), closer to Christmas.

Aside from the crafting I’ll be putting up,  I have a reading list a mile long, and a few of the books that I consider rave worthy (at least so far) so I’ll make sure my opinion will be up on those as well, along with many others, out in Web-Space.

Top Rave-Worthy Books I’ll be discussing:

 

 

**I appreciate your patience with me and sticking around!

 

Apple Picking in Yuciapa

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This Sunday I went apple picking. It was the first time I ventured out past San Bernardino on my own (well, Boyfriend was with me) and it was the first time I’ve ever been that close to orchards. I’ve driven past them on my way to lovely San Fran on the Golden State Fwy (I-5) however this was a completely different experience.

First, we went to Snow-Line where Boyfriend and I stood in line for a good 18 minutes to get the most amazing (and fresh) apple cider cinnamon donuts on the planet! I don’t think the actual flavor is what mattered most here, but the freshness. Being made, right there, in front of our very  (greedy) eyes!

After we had our fill of donuts, although for the rest of the day I wanted more, we wandered around the charming store. It was a mix of orchard store, vintage shop, and mom and pop garage sale. I couldn’t have been happier.

I wanted these most of all!

 

Next, we drove about a mile and a half to Riley’s Apple Farm. That was a completely different experience entirely. They had a small orchard for families and children that couldn’t handle their bigger, hillier, orchards as well as a lovely and secluded picnic area.

 

 

 

Dogs and cats a like roamed and welcomed visitors!

 

As we proceeded further into the orchard however I found this (good luck) sign that the apples are delicious. Clearly, someone wanted this apple so much that they forgot to pick it and went right for the flavor!

 

After a good 30 minutes of walking around looking for Rome Beauties and Braeburn apples we located their top-of-the-hill pumpkin patch and corn! Although it was very small indeed, a bit slimy, thanks to the dewy morning, I had fun attempting to pick one out that was just right.

Sadly my expectations are too high and no pumpkins made the cut.

 

On our way back we were able to say “hi” to this guy again.

By the way, his name is Tom. Apparently, every farm has an orange tom tabby cat that anyone can come up to and love. That was a great part of the weekend for me personally.

Aside from the lovely cats roaming around me, I went home with fresh apple cider, something called Christmas Jam, and a heaping 6 lbs of apples I picked myself. My hands picked those beauties sitting on my kitchen floor. I feel (a little too) proud.

 

 

 

Dreaming of Summer

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Here in Southern California summer lasts for a good 5 months; starting at about May and going all the way to October some years. Considering that, I have at least two more months of lovely summer fun left to get all of my sunny fun needs done. I know in summer there are a lot of wishlists, to-do lists, and pretty much every other form of lists people can manage to make. It’s the good weather that gets people going in a productive way, I suppose.

I thought I’d share one of my lists with you.

These are things that I want, specifically for end of summer. This way I’d have a nice, mellow and smooth transition into the colder days of fall.

 

First my drink of choice, tea. And not just any tea, this lovely number from Teavana has the great tropics with warm spices so it’s the perfect blend for September. Why September? I don’t know.  But it seems right to me.

WHITE AYURVEDIC CHAI TEA

Next, is this Hot Milk bath bomb from Lush. I love all things Lush, but I have to say taking a bath in summer is almost impossible to do. I really miss it, and I just have to put this on my list to prepare for the cooler season cause I’ve missed my baths. Too much.

Usually I get my soaps from Villianess. Their products are hands down the best I’ve ever used. Yes, even better than Lush soaps, I think. However, they take a while to deliver some days, and once you have a good stock of 6 soaps from her, it’s hard to order more. I usually leave these out for hand washing on my vanity. But once in a while, I stray into Lush and run right into this beauty.  How can I not buy it? How can I not want to buy it?

Sultana of Soap by LUSH

Now for some fun.

Something from Sephora is on my list almost year-round. This time I have to say Kat Von D’s Triple Threat Liner Set is staying forever! I’ve read four other blogs and countless beauty site reviews on her eyeliners and they all say they’re amazing, better than urbandecay, and 100% worth it.

So for those lazy, hazy summer days and nights, I dreamily put this trio of liners on my last Summer Wish List of 2012.

Finally, and thanks to InStyle magazine, I was introduced to this great serum. Yes to Blueberries is a great brand, I use Yes to Cucumbers Facial Wipes all the time before and after working out because it’s easier and less harmful than washing my face four times a day, and with this new age and skin repair line, I’m 100% set.

This serum isn’t anti-age, although it could be used as such, it’s actually got antioxidants and vitamins to repair sun damaged skin. This is amazing considering I’ve spent a good 2 hours a week sitting by the pool. Not to mention a ll those times I forgot to put sunscreen on my face when going out to the store, work, or even to the beach (yikes!).

I’ve heard good things about it, and while I love my Vitamin C Truth Serum (my skin is amazing after starting to use it regularly) it’s not designed to reverse skin damaged  by the sun, only aid in it’s natural and slow healing processes.

Point being, at $20 a pop at Target, I’m totally down to get this after summer is over.

Hello, my Pretty

 

The Princess Bride Review

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Finally, finally I’m writing this post. I know it took a while but my weekend was filled with headaches, sore throats, holding my dress down due to fierce winds at The Getty, and feeding my friends.

Without further adieu, my wonderful review!

First, I’d like to say that the book was wonderful. The narration, between the author and his fictional counterpart, Morgenstern, was amazing. It was great to have that world created with the perception of another person, which was perceiving it in his own way, from Morgenstern (fictionally, of course). If that is confusing, it should be. It’s a confusing book. Not really, in a bad sense, but it’s got a lot of stuff to connect people, and to tie up in the end.

The first chapters, the whole background of each of the characters, is my favorite part. In this part you can see how the love grows between Westley and Buttercup, the Princess. You are able to understand the reasoning and the struggles between the “evil” characters and the true evil doers of the plot.

With that said, the movie captured the second half of the book. The rescue of the princess and the wonderful getaway.

As you can see, at this point, I’m not going to give any plot points away as I want you, the readers, to get the need to read, and watch it on your own. The first 3o minutes of the movie was spend on the chapters that I so loved and cherished. So for me, it was a disgrace. For those that watched the movie and not read the book, they missed out on the epic love that Buttercup had, and the great loss she endured when she thought she lost Westley forever. As a result, she agreed to marry the Evil Prince, for business purposes only, of course.

In any case, I give the book 8.5 out of 10 stars.

I give the movie a 5 out of 10 stars. And that’s being more or less generous. Mainly my beef with the movie is that while the narration was in tact, and the important ending scene was great, it wasn’t enough to give the full picture, the full story of The Princess Bride. First of all, the ending, ended happily. That’s not great, since it was better the way the it ended in the novel, full of uncertainty and horror. As well as the backgrounds to give the audience real reasons to root for the characters.

On a side note, my favorite part of the movie was this old hag (whose probably really a man in costume), booing the Princess on her nightmare wedding day.

Sick Days and Making Bread

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I’ve been feeling under the weather. Mostly, it’s this little… something, in my throat.  It’s been on and off since Saturday morning, which is why my posting has come to a halt. I had a nice showing of Princess Bride this weekend as well (which will be coming in the following days in form or book vs movie review).

Grand ol’ time!

Back to my original reason for writing this post. I feel so terrible right now, in this very moment, that I actually decided I was too tired, to go grocery shopping tomorrow. I can already feel the exhaustion of a bad night’s sleep (still to come), effect me tomorrow. While I’m hosting dinner for a friend tomorrow, I need something satisfying in the moment, and something that I could justify.

BREAD~

Nothing is more special than making homemade bread. I got my inspiration from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen, and it was wonderful!

I thought, I can make this today, and have the oven warm my apartment (though it’s 80 degrees at 9pm in Los Angeles at the moment), and fill my home with the sweet smells of oats and honey, and I can have it for breakfast with butter tomorrow. That’s all it takes for me to jump up off the couch and run into the kitchen, opening cabinets and the fridge.

Adapted from Sweet Peas Kitchen

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, or quick-cooking (not instant) oats, divided
  • 1 1/3 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup clover honey, or other mild honey
  • 3/4 cup nonfat or low-fat milk

Heat oven to 375°F. Generously coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon oats in the pan. Tip the pan back and forth to coat the sides and bottom with oats; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; set aside.

In a medium bowl, using a fork, beat 1 cup oats, yogurt, egg, oil and honey until well blended. Stir in milk. Gently stir the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture just until thoroughly incorporated but not overmixed. Scrape the batter into the pan, spreading evenly to the edges. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon oats over the top.

Bake until well browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Let stand in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a table knife around and under the loaf to loosen it and turn it out onto the rack. Let cool until barely warm, about 45 minutes.

If I could, I’d eat it all.