Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Birthday!

A special shout out to wish our cutie pie nephew a very special birthday. Happy Birthday Roman! We hope you have a fun time celebrating and opening all of your special gifts!

p.s. Auntie Lex & Uncle Jamey will see you in a few weeks when Santa comes... we hope you've been good! :)

I've been bad about doing these birthday posts lately -- sorry, new job stress, I guess. But, I also am WAY overdue on a special birthday message to a great sister-in-law. Happy (overly belated, OMG I can't believe I'm finally posting this I'm so embarassed) belated birthday Sheilagh!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Turkey Day!

We're heading off to Ohio later today, but I wanted to wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving!

We couldn't celebrate Thanksgiving without this song, could we? (plus, its just entertaining to watch this really strange video along with it...) Enjoy!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Recipe of the Day: Quick & Spicy Tomato Soup

Another great recipe, courtesy of Giada over at the Food Network. We've been making this a lot recently... and its great to have in the freezer for a quick dinner or lunch on the weekends. Enjoy!

- 3 TBSP olive oil
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 26 oz jar marinara sauce (recommended: San Marzano brand)
- 2 (14 oz) cans chicken broth (we use vegetable broth in ours)
- 1 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
**you may be tempted to add more, but be careful, this really blows up in the soup
- salt & pepper to taste


Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion, and garlic and saute until soft, this usually takes about 5-7 minutes at our house (depending on how large you chop your carrots, it may take longer). Add the jar of marinara sauce, broth, cannellini beans, red pepper flakes, pasta, salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve. Goes great with warm crusty bread!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

OMG... Oprah Quits!

I thought something funny was going on when I walked home from work on Thursday night. Several local TV channels were broadcasting from the corner near our house... but, I completely forgot about it when I actually walked in the door (a new job will do that to you).

Then, as I was getting ready for work on Friday, I had CNN on in the background and heard the big news about Oprah. (oh my gosh - she's quitting?!) Of course! Now it was all making sense... So, when I left later that morning, I did a doubletake when I saw the same CNN reporter out front of our apartment, doing a live broadcast. For those of you who don't already know, we live across the street from Oprah's studios. Its always a hubbub of activity in the neighborhood and we have the rare pleasure of seeing armies of midwestern women dolled up for the show, carrying bright green bags from the Oprah store (yes, she even has her own store), and taking photos day and night (literally around the clock) out front of the Oprah sign. Its quite a sight to behold.

Thought I'd share the pic I took on my phone friday morning out front of our apartment. I'm really wishing that I would have run behind her to try to get on camera (hey mom! i'm on CNN! how fun is that?!). ... maybe next time!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Looking forward...

to our visitors this weekend!
hope you enjoy yours too!

Check it Out!

I just found a new blog I'm adding to the links on the page. If you've ever been looking for a cheaper alternative for a special item you've been coveting... this is the blog for you. Check it out here.... A-MAZING!

by the way, if you haven't checked out some of the great blogs here on the right hand side... you're missing out. there is some great inspiration out there!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

John's making amends...

I'm soooo not a fan of John & Kate (either one, ever... they're both ridiculous... seriously). But, this video is making me laugh ( a little least).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Keb Mo at the House of Blues

we just saw keb mo on 11/13 -- and it was a great night! if you're not familiar with keb mo, he's a great blues singer. you can check out his music, background, etc. here. jamey had seen him before at another venue in the city, Old Town School of Folk Music. Definitely a more intimate venue than the HOB, and he played more acoustic. Last night was more of a jam session with the band behind him rocking out. They played a ton of different instruments - ranging from mandolins to steel guitars, to stand up bass, ukelels, and harmonicas. At one point the pianist was playing piano, organ, and a harmonica... all at once. AMAZING! I wish I was that talented...

Thought i'd share a few photos of the evening from my iphone as well as some great videos from You Tube. Though it looks farther thanks to the lousy camera in my iphone, we were actually really close to him -- about 60 feet or so from the stage.

at one point ,women from the crowd jumped onstage and started dancing with the band - kind of hysterical (though some may have taken the sexy dancing a bit far... I'm talking to you sequin dress girl!). here's a funny shot of the moment!

and one of my favorites -- House in California (ah, how I miss CA!). I can't find it on You Tube, but you can listen to it for free here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Recipe of the Day: Feta-Mint Dip with Yogurt

this is a great appetizer or dip to put out when entertaining. and, its easy to make. just pop most of it into a food processor and you're all set!

Feta-Mint Dip with Yogurt
makes 1 1/4 cups

1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 1/2 oz feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
2 medium scallions, roughly chopped
2 tsp lemon juice

1. place yogurt in fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth-lined colander set over bowl. cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 8 to 24 hours; discard liquid in bowl below. this should leave you with a very, very thick yogurt consistency.
2. process all ingredients in food processor until smooth and creamy, about 30 seconds. Transfer dip to serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until flavors are blended, at least 1 hour. serve cold with crudites.

* can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to 2 days

Saturday, November 14, 2009

monsters of folk

Jamey and I headed to a great concert about a week ago -- the Monsters of Folk. The name is probably pretty misleading... its not folk like most people think of folk. But, it is a great group of artists who have all done their own thing before and finally decided to come together and record an album. The group includes Jim James, Mike Mogis, Conor Oberst and M. Ward. Maybe you're familiar with them, maybe you're not... if you're not, you should definitely check them out.

Admittedly, I had only listened to the album a few times before the concert... I wish I had listened to it even more. Now, after the concert, its really become one of my favorites. The concert was a great evening - definitely check it out if they come to your town. Ours was at the Chicago Auditorium Theatre (an amazing venue if you haven't been there). Its nearly acoustically perfect sound and is incredibly beautiful - perfect for this type of a concert.

I thought I'd include some of their music videos in the post... Enjoy!

and a cover of a My Morning Jacket Song - Golden... for those of you who aren't familiar with MMJ.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Girls Night Out

Sorry for the lack of exciting posts recently. I've been really under the weather and also just started the new job... so things are a bit out of whack. But, I'm settling into the new schedule, so i'm hoping to keep up the blog as usual. I thought I'd put together a few posts of fun things that have happened recently, but may not have made it up here yet due to my new work schedule.

First up... the Gordon & Rees Women's Event. Jamey's office held an event here recently that was put on by the women in the office, for female clients (and a few lucky wives "wink"). They put together a great event held at a local create your own jewelry boutique. We all got to make a beautiful bracelet from the huge selection of beads in the shop.

And, they had a charity that also took part in the event called, Dress for Success. If you haven't heard of them, they are a wonderful group. They help disadvantaged women enter the workforce by providing professional attire, support and career development. We were all asked to bring either a donation of faux pearl jewelry (given to each woman as she embarks upon her career) or cash. Its a nationwide organization, and if your interested, you can find more about them here.

Being the designated amateur photographer, I thought I'd share a few pics from the evening. It was a great night!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Recipe of the Day: Cedar-Planked Salmon with Barbecue Spice Rub

I thought I'd include a great recipe that we tried recently. We love to grill fish, and this is a really tasty way to make it on the BBQ. Enjoy!

(a pic of our secret spice rub & cedar planks)

Cedar-Planked Salmon with Barbecue Spice Rub

1 (15 x 6 ½ x 3/8-inch) cedar grilling plank
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
¾ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
¾ teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
¾ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (3pound) center-cut salmon fillet, skinned

1. Immerse and soak plant in water 1 hour or longer, drain.

2. Prepare grill to medium-high heat.

3. Place plank on grill rack. Grill 3 minutes or until lightly charred. Carefully turn plank over; place fish on charred side of plank. Cover and grill for 25 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Cut fish crosswise into 8 (4 ½ oz) pieces.

* We use this recipe on all sorts of fish and it would probably be great on steak or chicken too. Its also great used in grilled salmon tacos the second day.

Note: Look for cedar planks in gourmet markets or large supermarkets. Or, you can purchase untreated cedar shingles from lumberyards or hardware stores, and have them cut to a specified size.

Yields: 8 servings

Monday, November 2, 2009

Trader Joe Favorites!

I was just recently reintroduced to Trader Joe's by a friend (thanks, Jenny!). She had some tasty treats at her home and made me curious to revisit the store again. I'm so glad that I did! TJ's has become my go to store for almost everything on my list. I do try to buy most of our produce at the farmer's market, but TJ's is a great stop for nearly everything else. I thought I'd share some of our favorite items and see if it inspires anyone else! Feel free to share your faves too. I'm always looking for new items to enjoy.

Trader Joe's White Cheddar corn puffs
(aka Pirate's Booty @ your regular grocery store)
A great light snack low in calories.

Trader Joe's Edamame Hummus
This hummus is actually made from soybeans, not garbanzo beans. It sounds different, but its delicious!

Trader Joe's: Ready to Bake Pizza Dough
We've decided its so much better and more fun to make our own pizzas at home. We can choose the toppings we want, how much we want, etc. Pizza night is one of our new favorite traditions.

Trader Joe's dried fruits: Chile Spiced Mango and Nothing But... Banana
These are great for snacks, especially when you're on the road and carrying around real fruit just isn't an option. TJ's has an amazing array of dried fruits, granolas, etc. I always see something new when I'm in there.

Trader Joe's Frozen Indian Specialties: Garlic Naan
A perfect accompaniment for those evenings when you want to order in Indian Food (or make it yourself). Its really tasty and it saves you money since you don't have to order it with your meal.

Mochi ice cream treats
Most likely, if you've eaten at a sushi restaurant, you've seen these. They are little bites of ice cream wrapped up in a rice dough. There are several different flavors to choose from, we like the coffee and chocloate flavors.

If you have any favorites that you want to share, send them along or post them in the comments section - I always love new ideas!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Recipe of the Day: Spiced Lentil Tacos

I know this recipe may sound a little weird to some of you, but its a great meatless option for mexican night. And, a low cal one at that. We've even shared it with my parents who are big fans of the recipe also. Bon Appetit!

Spiced Lentil Tacos
1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed

1 package (2.25 oz) taco seasoning (we use low sodium)

2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream

1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, finely chopped (use half for less heat)

2 tsp adobo sauce
8 taco shells or soft taco wraps
1 1/4 cup shredded lettuce

1 cup chopped tomato

1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onion, garlic and salt until onion begins to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add lentils and taco seasoning. Cook until spices are fragrant and lentils are dry, about 1 minute.

Add broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils are tender, 25-30 minutes.

Mix sour cream, chile and adobo sauce in a bowl.

Uncover lentils and cook until mixture thickens, 6 to 8 minutes. Mash with a rubber spatula.

Spoon 1/4 cup lentil mixture into each taco shell. Top with sour cream mixture, lettuce, tomato and cheese.