Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Wreath Cookies

These gorgeous cookies are definitely my favorite cookies for this holiday season.  The garnishes are endless and this is something your family, friends, and children can get in on and decorate with you. I admit I got a bit stressed out on whether or not I was about to get these cookies to look nice enough to serve but I was quite pleasantly surprised when I started decorating them.  It was beautiful and it hid all the imperfections on the cookies.  I got this recipe from Bon Appetit and you can substitute whatever flavor of shortbread you want if lavender doesn't work for you.  It's a great recipe that shortbread lovers will thank you for.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Raspberry Hot Chocolate

Here is a quick and delicious one for everyone! It's the last weekend until Christmas and instead of pushing and shoving for gifts in department stores, why not stay at home with a nice hot cup of raspberry hot chocolate?  That sounds so much better, doesn't it?

Friday, December 19, 2014

stilton blue cheese and apple scones

Dwalin: What is this?
Balin: I don't know. I think it's supposed to be cheese, it's gone blue.
I still have Hobbit fever after watching The Hobbit marathon a few days ago and I wanted to channel some of that into the kitchen.  In a hilarious scene in The Unexpected Journey, Dwalin and Balin raid the shelves of Bilbo Baggins when Balin holds up a wedge of cheese.  Unfamiliar with blue cheese, he tosses it off to the corner thinking it has gone blue. On a side note, who else wants a pantry like Bilbo?

Hobbit or not, these blue cheese and apple scones are amazing.  I find myself typically craving sweet and salty food combinations and this really hits the spot.  Feel free to substitute various dried fruits and other kinds of cheese that you have in you pantry for this recipe.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Hobbit Marathon

 On Monday, December 15th, I got to watch the premiere of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies!!! As I've said in previous posts, my love for Tolkien and his stories go deep and when I saw the chance to see The Hobbit movies in the IMAX theater, I jumped at the chance.  I was in heaven!  I was surrounded by Middle Earth enthusiasts like myself in the first marathon showing of the three movies.  I'm not going to go into reviews or anything like that because I want everyone to experience the movie without somebody's point of view in the their mind.

Roaring Camp Railroads Holiday Tree Walk

To continue with the Christmas festivities, I went to the Roaring Camp Railroads Holiday Tree Walk this weekend.  This was my first time visiting these railroads located in Santa Cruz, CA and thankfully, I was not disappointed.  Upon arriving, there was already a crispness in the air from the heavy rain showers the day before.  The trees were a lush green and there were still a few dark clouds lingering in the sky.  

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gingerbread Chia Pudding

December is a very difficult month for those on a diet.  Though we might like to believe that Christmas calories do not count, they still do when it comes to those with heath issues. One of the most difficult things to avoid in December are all the sweet treats around us so I wanted to come up with a simple and easy dessert that will satisfy our cravings without leaving us feeling guilty.

This super simple recipe can be made in a variety of ways and flavors.  It does feel kind of silly that I'm actually writing this recipe for everyone considering how simple it is but I hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Great Dickens Christmas Fair

For the 6th year in a row, I had the opportunity to attend the Great Dickens Christmas Fair in San Francisco.  It has been a tradition for us to attend everyday on the first weekend of December to help us get into the Christmas spirit.  For those that are unaware of the Great Dickens Christmas Fair, it's basically a fair set in Victorian London.  The moment you step through the entrance, your senses are delightfully filled with smells of roasting chestnuts, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  There are Christmas decorations on every surface and storefront.  

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Happy December!

Happy December, everyone! I hope those that celebrate Thanksgiving had a great one filled with love and good food.  However, as fast as Thanksgiving came, it has now past and I can't believe we are now in the start of December.  As stressful as December can get, it's important to leave time for yourself this month.  Before writing this blog, I put together a short list of some of the things I'm most looking forward to this month.  Hopefully, this list will pile on and on but it's nice to have a few things to look forward to.  Let me know if anyone has something they're most excited to do for themselves in the month of December!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Love Actually inspired: Banoffee Pie

Everyone has their go to movie every holiday season and mine is undoubtedly, Love Actually.  Released in 2003, Love Actually is a British romantic comedy that follows the ten different love stories.  One of many reasons I love it so much is the fact that the director can make you feel so involved with each story line.  My heart breaks with one as it laughs with another.  I'm sure many of you out there has seen it but if you haven't, it's a must have.

One of my favorite story lines is the one between is Juliet (Keira Knightley) and Mark (Andrew Lincoln).  In one ver emotional scene, Juliet visits Mark to review the footage he took from her wedding.  She enters the door offering banoffee pie.  

"I'm nice. I really am. Apart from my terrible taste in pie and... It would be great if we could be friends." - Juliet

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Chocolate and Cocoa Nib Cookies

I'm a big, big fan of chocolate chip cookies but after a while they all taste the same to me.  Thankfully, this past weekend, a friend gifted me a pack of her homemade cookies.  I didn't think much of it until I tried it but it was one of the best cookies I've ever had.  It was chewy, soft, and crispy on the edges, everything you want from a  cookie.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Apple and Butternut Squash Soup

 It's easy to say I've been on a soup kick ever since the weather has gotten a bit chillier.  There really is nothing like a warm bowl of soup with a crusty piece of bread to dip it in.  While making my rounds at my local market a few days ago, it was difficult to ignore the beautiful squash that were available.  

This recipe is so easy! All you honestly need is a cutting board and pot.  I hate fussing with equipment on some days and this recipe is perfect with a cold night when you don't want to be fussing in the kitchen. This soup is great for work the next day as well.  I hope you guys enjoy it!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Cauliflower Soup with Spiced Sunflower Seeds

I'm someone who can have soup for every meal of the day.  While it is satisfying, it probably isn't the best for the waistline.  Most soups contain heavy cream and that is just something I don't want to feel guilty about eating.  In comes cauliflower soup.  To me, cauliflower in soup has the same texture as potatoes and is a great substitute.  This recipe has very few ingredients and so it's important to use the freshest ingredients.

Cauliflower Soup -

To just add a bit of texture and flavor, I toasted off some sunflower seeds and croutons.

Seasonsed Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower Seeds     1/2 cup
Olive Oil                 2 tbsp
Cayenne                  to taste
Cumin                    1 tsp

Toss all of the ingredients together and toast at 325F until golden brown.

I hope everyone is having a great week and enjoy!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Mickey's Halloween Party

I just got back from a little weekend trip to Anaheim, CA to visit the most magical place on earth, Disneyland.  This is my first time to visit Disneyland during Halloween and let me tell you, it was AMAZING.  The party is a separate ticket that allows you entry at 4pm and the actual trick or treating happens at 7pm.  I would not recommend this to very young children because it does involve a lot of lines (though it moves quite fast) but it is extremely crowded.  Here are some photos of my amazing time and I really hope you all enjoy it. Please let me know if anyone else attended this year or has years before.  I would love you know how your experience was!

The main gates of Disneyland.

Friday, October 3, 2014

When the Beach Calls

I recently had a chance to take a short trip down to Los Angeles and the more I visit the city, the more I fall in love with it.  Here are a few of my highlights from my trip.