21 February 2012

Ova Ova

Look what an adorable friend I have:


She's also brilliant, funny, and has many other enviable best friend qualities! In fact she's so brilliant that she started her own business. Her new website, www.ovaova.com,  is a groundbreaking new way for women to track their fertility. It can be used to achieve pregnancy or to be used as natural birth control. I won't go into it too much because she is the expert of course. 

Check out her new website pretty please and prepare to be amazed! 




04 February 2012

Lemon Ginger Blueberry Scones


Cabin fever has driven me to continue baking- I truly believe it is a symptom. I bought a big tub of crystallized ginger a while ago, thinking it would be a good snack to keep at work. Oh boy was I wrong. I really had no idea how spicy this stuff was! I cannot eat it by itself so I've been looking around for some other ways to use the whopping 1 lb. of crystallized ginger I have sitting in my cupboard.

Luckily, I came across this recipe on Epicurious for Ginger Scones. This recipe is an adaption since Blueberries were also on sale at Sunflower Market and I had a lemon hanging around:

Lemon Ginger Blueberry Scones (adapted from Epicurious):
(yields 16 scones)
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • Juice of of 1 lemon, plus zest
  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
  • 4 1/2 ounces candied ginger, finely chopped into 1/4-inch pieces to equal 2/3 cup
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Love


1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder, and combine with a whisk. Add the lemon zest and butter, then use clean hands to incorporate butter into the flower untl the mixture is pale yellow and the consistency of fine meal.

3. Stir in the ginger and blueberries. Make a well in the center and pour in the cream. Using one hand, draw in the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.

4. Wash and dry your hands and dust with flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead a few times to gather it into a ball. Cut in half and roll each piece of dough into a circle about 3/4 inch thick. Cut into eighths, like a pizza.

5. Place the scones 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the tops of the scones with the egg- this will make the tops shiny. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes, until the surface cracks and they are slightly browned.

6. Once they come out of the oven, while they're still hot, squeeze the juice from the lemon on top- hold back the seeds. It smells delicious and I mostly just love the way it sounds. (I wanted to add some powdered sugar to the lemon juice and frost them but I ran out of powdered sugar! I plan on doing this next time)



 


Enjoy!

Fire and Ice

I don't know if you've heard but we've been in a blizzard here in Colorado. I just measured the snow outside and we got 18 inches! As I'm writing this, it has just stopped snowing and the sun is coming out. I've been shoveling the driveway and the porch all morning so I'm already exhausted! It was nice to get outside though, I didn't get out yesterday but ended up cleaning the house and cooking like crazy. 

I took a snow day yesterday and didn't go in to work, thank goodness because I would probably be writing this from my cubicle now- the roads are still in pretty bad shape. Today probably won't be much different- lot's of cooking and hanging out! 

Here's a few photos so you can see what it's like here:


Max- he's like a polar bear!



Layla loves the snow :)



Look at this!!!! That's 18 inches of heavy snow!



Stella loves the snow too! She has to wear a little sweater so she can stay out a little longer with the big dogs.



This was the fire! I just found a little Crème Brûlée kit that I was psyched out of my mind about. Crème Brûlée is my FAVORITE dessert and I asked for a blow torch for Christmas but did not receive one. This was so much fun to make, here's the recipe:

Crème Brûlée Recipe (adapted from the back of the box):
(Makes 4 tiny four ounce ramekins)

-1 cup heavy cream
- 2 Tbs. plus an additional 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 extra large or jumbo egg yolks (the orange-er the yolk, the better)
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- Seeds of 1 vanilla bean
- Love

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a kettle of boiling water

2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine cream and 2 Tbs of sugar; cook, stirring occasionally until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan, 5-6 minutes. Set aside.

3. In a bowl, beat egg yolks and vanilla (extract and seeds) until smooth and light. Pour small amounts of hot cream mixture into egg yolks, beating continuously until well blended. If you pour in too much at once, it will scramble your eggs. I start with a teaspoon at a time at first. Divide mixture among four 4 oz. ramekins. 

4. Arrange ramekins in a baking pan (about 3 inches deep) and place on the middle shelf of your pre-heated oven. Fill the pan with the boiling water to halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil. Bake until custard is just set, about 30 minutes. Shake the pan very gently to determine if the custard is set- let it go for a little longer if you need to. Mine took about 40 minutes. Use caution when removing the ramekins from the oven as they will be very hot! Chill for 2-3 hours.

5. Sprinkle the remaining sugar evenly over the top of cooled custards. With your torch, move the flame continuously over the sugar until the sugar melts and becomes golden brown and bubbly (I burnt mine a little bit!). You can serve these immediately or put them back in the fridge and eat later.

Enjoy! (Don't you love cracking the top? It reminds me of Amélie)

26 January 2012

Winter Wonderland

I know I just posted pictures of 80 degree weather at the beach so let's shake things up around here! A few weeks ago when my younger brother and sister were in town, we all went snowshoeing in the Rockies! What an adventure! It was my first time snowshoeing and for some reason I had some serious concerns. Mainly being chased by a bear and not being able to get away fast enough. When I found out that if you come in contact with a bear you aren't supposed to run - just stand tall and if they attack, play dead- my fears were calmed. Who knew- it's like bear school.

Here's a few snapshots:
My sister, Lindsay, ready to attack in case we did have to fight for our lives.


I got a hydration pack as a Christmas gift which came in handy! Don't I look totally geared in?!? Mountain woman!!!! Rachael looks like she has long, white, mountain woman braided pigtails.

Let's do this!!!



Gorgeous view of the mountain. The snow looked majestic floating up in the air like that.


Colorful Colorado


Rachael and Dad. Don't you love his furry hat? I got him that for Christmas!



I made a little friend. He was eating a nut!!


This frozen waterfall was so freakin' cool! I felt like an explorer :)



My brother David decided to wander off and climb a mountain without telling anyone. That was like the #1 thing the park rangers were telling us NOT to do but he's a teenager so of course he HAD to do it. I got this shot of him when he finally decided to make his way back down the mountain and re-join his family. We all thought he was a goner.


Oh and Christopher Walken was there too. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

25 January 2012

Mexico

I just got back from beautiful Cancun, Mexico! Wow, I feel so rested and rejuvenated! Hanging out on the beach and reading all day was just the thing to get me out of the freezing winter blues. I worked a lot while most of the other people at my office were on Christmas break to save up some time off for this trip. Totally. Worth. It.

I'm the kind of person that likes adventures more than I like things so this was kind of a Christmas present for my boyfriend Danny and I. When we were planning a trip, we originally had our sites set on New York City but when we realized how icy cold it is in January, we started thinking of warm, sandy beaches. We ended up finding our resort through a Living Social deal which I would highly recommend- we had no problems at all.

I was also hearing a lot of horror stories about Mexico before I left so I was starting to get really scared! I had a list of things to be aware of (being kidnapped and forced to be a drug mule, drinking the water, eating the food, having a vital organ stolen from me and sold on the black market, Montezuma's revenge, and murder among other things). Thankfully, none of those things happened and everyone in Mexico was very nice and accommodating. Also, there is a lot of bottled water and beer.

Here's a few snapshots:


This was the view from the room. The sound of the waves crashing on the beach at night was like a lullaby.



Hey-yo! Beach time baby! This is where I spent the majority of my time. And just in case you were wondering, I wore SPF 45 the whole time and didn't burn. HUGE accomplishment for me.






This handsome guy is my boyfriend, Danny :)




EXTREME close up! 


The pool had these cool cabanas which we didn't sit at even once! I liked being by the ocean more and putting my feet in the sand.



Yep. I took a picture of him while he was eating breakfast. It was our last meal and they had delicious omelettes so I had to document it. Speaking of food, it was pretty decent at the resort. There were a lot of things that we were able to have there that are kind of out of season here (like avacados!). There were about three different restaurants to choose from for dinner and we just had to leave a tip. It sucks coming back home and having to pay for things. Towards the end though, I just wanted a real home-cooked meal! I was burnt out on restaurant food.


On the swing in the lobby!


The drinks were included as well and oh my did I drink a lot of these babies! Mojitos! They were SO good! Our favorite guy that worked at the resort was Vanilly. He came down to the beach and brought us drinks all the time- he always had a Mojito for me :)



We didn't really buy any souvenirs but this is what we ended up with by the end of our stay: 1 Sol bottle filled with sand from the beach, 7 seashells, 1 ceramic Mayan calendar that the resort gave us when we checked in, and 1 tiny paper rose that our server for dinner one night, Jose, made for me. The Mayan calendar broke in the suitcase on the way back which I think could be a sign of good luck but I guess we won't know until the end of 2012... 


I'm sorry but I just had to document this. The artwork above the toilet in our room. Am I the only person who finds this hilarious?



Of course we got in a few last drinks with some friends from Oklahoma that we met at the resort. Unfortunately, I had the waitress take it and forgot to set my camera to automatic. It turned out too blurry :(

Cheers!



Back home again...


17 January 2012

Akward Family Photos


My family is so sweet. They offered to help me improve my photo skills over the holidays.

1. Photo-bombing:

2. Red Carpet:


3. Classic:


4. Engagement:





5. Maternity:


6. "Partners":


That is all.

16 January 2012

Pomp and Circumstance

My little sister Rachael graduated from college! So proud of her! It was a busy weekend full of food and family. Here's a few photos: 


Waiting for graduation to begin. My sister Lindsay, my step mom Janet, and Dad:


Rachael's boyfriend Dave there to cheer her on!


So proud of you little sister!



Rachael and Mom :)


Our sister Lindsay came out all the way from New Hampshire! She's the best- she even ran down the halls of the convention center with me when I realized I needed to more time on my parking. We actually RAN. And we barely made it too. The scary meter maid was like 10 cars down from mine writing some other poor soul a ticket.


We made a ridiculous amount of food for the party but by the time I got there a lot of it had already been consumed! We feasted! Rachael and I planned out the menu months in advance and she was busy preparing food and studying for finals even! I wish I had more pictures but for the recipes, check out my board on Pintrest. I did make a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting- my favorite!



My grandma brought these pictures of little Rachael through the years, so sweet! She's always thinking of stuff like that. My absolute favorite picture of Rachael is the one of her in the blue sweater on top. I think she was about 3. How freakin' cute is that?


And if you're wondering, she did just land a new job as an admissions counselor for a college here in Denver! The girl got some education and it paid off! Congratulations Rachael!