Friday, February 20, 2009

Almond-Crusted Halibut

Note: I served my buerre blanc on the SIDE like the recipe said, not on top of the fillet. Mine also came out kind of a beigey-tan color, not pale like the photo shows. Maybe I cooked my herbs and shallots in the wine a bit longer so it got toasty? It still tasted GOOD!

Last night's dinner was OH so good. I had printed out this recipe from All Recipes a LONG time ago, always intending to try it. For some reason though, I always ended up doing something different with the halibut, and never got around to trying the recipe. I finally decided that I was going to try it, and I am so glad I did!!! I swear, the sauce is like crack. I'm glad I ran out when I did, because I seriously could have kept eating it and eating it and eating it.... Probably better that I didn't, because I don't think the sauce itself is really all that healthy. But in small doses? TOTALLY worth it.

With no further ado....

Almond-Crusted Halibut Crystal Symphony

RECIPE FROM: Allrecipes
SUBMITTED BY: Susan W.  PHOTO BY: Allrecipes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter - chilled, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 (6 ounce) fillets halibut
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 2/3 cup minced blanched almonds
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten (I omitted this)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Make beurre blanc: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine wine, vinegar, shallots, thyme and bay leaf. Boil until liquid has evaporated. Stir in cream, and boil until liquid is reduced by half; decrease heat to low. Whisk in butter, 1 piece at a time, adding each new piece before previous one has melted completely. Do not allow sauce to simmer, or it may separate.
  2. Strain sauce through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl. Stir in chives, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Keep warm by setting bowl in a larger container of hot water.
  3. Preheat oven on broiler setting. Pat fillets dry, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute halibut fillets for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned, and just cooked through. Transfer to a baking sheet, and cool 5 minutes. In a small bowl, stir together bread crumbs, almonds and 1 tablespoon melted butter. Brush tops of fillets with egg, and spread with almond mixture. (I didn't bother with the egg, and just put the almond mixture directly on the fish. It worked fine.)
  5. Broil fillets 1 to 2 minutes, or until browned (watch closely - every broiler has its own personality!). Place fillets on individual plates, and spoon beurre blanc around it.

PERSONAL NOTES

I only made two fillets for Mike and I, so I made a third of the recipe, but I only halved the sauce ingredients. It still could have used more sauce, but like I said, it's not the healthiest part! If you aren't worried about the health of it though, I would probably make the entire sauce recipe, even for only two fillets.

I served the halibut with steamed vegetables, macaroni w/white cheddar, and Dancing Bull Sauvignon Blanc.

YUM!!!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Just a little shameless promotion.


My husband rocks. So does the company he works with. Check them out.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine Salad - Warm Spinach Salad w/Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette

For Valentine's Day, Mike and I tried a local restaurant downtown called Croce's. All of our food was EXCELLENT, but given my blog name, I was especially drawn to the salad. I had a Warm Spinach Salad with Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette. It was SO GOOD. I decided I needed to figure out how to make it, and in my search for a vanilla bean dressing, I FOUND CROCE'S RECIPE!!!! I am SO excited to make this, and I wanted to share it with you all!!!!

Warm Spinach Salad with Sweet Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette

Warm Spinach Salad with Sweet Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette Spinach salads have been popular for many years, and are featured on the menus of countless restaurants. A specially created rendition of this perennial favorite is served at Croce's. With its fresh vanilla bean dressing and poached figs, this version offers an entirely new direction and flavor profile, which pairs well with a wide variety of fine wines, appetizers, and entrees.

 
Serves: 6 Vegetarian: Yes
Preparation Time: 00:30
Cuisine: American
Difficulty: Moderate Meal Type: Dinner
Main Ingredient: spinach Dish Type: Salad
Main Cooking Method: Simmer Season/Occasion: Any Occasion

Warm Spinach Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb. baby spinach
  • 6 Mandarin oranges, carefully divided into wedges
  • 9 fl. oz. sweet vanilla bean vinaigrette (see recipe)
  • 24 seedless red grapes
  • 6 oz. walnuts
  • 2 Red Delicious apples, quartered
  • 15 poached figs, halved (see recipe)
  • 12 oz. Stilton blue cheese, crumbled

Directions

Slice each apple quarter 4 times lengthwise, taking care to only slice 4/5 the way through each time. Grasp apple by uncut end and gently fan out slices. In a large mixing bowl, toss spinach with warm vanilla bean vinaigrette (see recipe). Prepare 6 plates for serving. Place spinach in center of each plate, top with a fanned apple quarter. Place 5 mandarin-orange wedges evenly at 5 points around the plate's rim. Do the same with 5 poached fig halves (see recipe) so that figs and oranges alternate around plate. Top spinach with grapes and walnuts. Garnish with Stilton cheese crumbles on top and around salad. Serve immediately.
 

Sweet Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 oz. brown sugar
  • 2 oz. honey
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 oz. olive oil

Directions

In a saucepan melt butter over medium-low heat and stir in brown sugar and honey. Split vanilla bean in half and core (use the pulp only). Transfer butter mixture and vanilla pulp to a blender. Add vanilla extract and pulse for 2 minutes. Slowly add olive oil, pulsing to incorporate. Return to saucepan and keep over low heat until ready to use.
 

Poached Figs

Ingredients

  • 1/4 C. white wine
  • 1 Tbsp. sherry wine
  • 1/4 C. water
  • 1/2 lb. dried figs

Directions

Bring all liquids to a boil, Reduce heat and add the figs, simmer lightly until softened and cooked through. Discard liquid; reserve figs. Let cool and cut in halves before serving.
 
(Mike wasn't a huge fig fan, so I'll probably skip that, but they are pretty tasty with the salad!)

Pesto Salmon

The other night, I went out to Buca di Beppo with the girls, and one of the dishes we ordered was Pesto Salmon. It really didn't sound all that exciting to me compared to all the sinful pasta delights, but once I had a bite, I was overcome by the succulence of it. I couldn't get enough!!! I knew I had to try to recreate it, since I LOVE salmon, and we eat it a lot at my house. It turned out SO good. In fact, I didn't even have time to take a picture before we gobbled it all up. ;) I will definitely be making it again though!!!

I didn't really use a recipe, so I'll do my best to estimate what I used.

For the pesto sauce, I combined the following ingredients in my food processor:
1-2 C of fresh basil leaves
1/2 C Italian parsley
2 T pine nuts
3 cloves garlic
1/4 C parmesan cheese
enough oil to make a smooth sauce, 1/2 -3/4 C
salt and pepper to taste

Then I mixed up a cream sauce:
2T butter cooked with
2T flour
enough milk whisked in to make a smooth, creamy sauce (about 3/4 C)
about 1/2 C parmesan cheese melted into sauce

Then I added enough pesto to the cream sauce to get a desirable mix. The cream sauce kept the pesto from being too spicy, and added an extra cheesiness to the sauce. (I froze the rest of the pesto for a future use.) Mix about 1/4-1/2 C pine nuts and 1/4-1/2 C julienned sun-dried tomatoes into the pesto sauce.

Next, I cooked two salmon fillets sprinkled with salt and pepper in just a teeny bit of olive oil, just until flaky. I served the salmon with the sauce poured over the top.

This is excellent served with steamed broccoli w/garlic and red pepper flakes! :)

YUM!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Banana Bread

Banana Bread


I was looking for a healthier version of banana bread, which I was randomly craving this past week. I came across this WW version on my favorite Weight Watchers recipe blog (I'm not on WW...just like the healthy recipes.) However, it did NOT look healthy to me with all that oil and sugar!!! I decided to substitute the oil with applesauce. Unfortunately, when I went to add the applesauce, I discovered that my jar was full of mold. EEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!
So, I had to scratch that idea, and go ahead with the oil and sugar. Oh well. As you know, I LOVE vanilla beans, so I used a vanilla bean instead of the vanilla extract, and replaced the walnuts with pecans. (My coworker is allergic to walnuts, I am not a huge fan of them, AND I didn't have any on hand - pecans were a perfect substitute!)

This bread turned out SOOOOOO yummy. It smelled awesome while baking, and tastes awesome. The top is so crusty and sweet and good! It looks a little dark in color to me, but it didn't turn out dry or overcooked or anything. Maybe the vanilla bean seeds made it a bit darker? Anyway, I took about half the loaf to work, and I swear it was gone within minutes. It was mysteriously disappearing off the table! I will definitely make this again when the craving strikes!

Here is the recipe I used, along with my changes:

Weight Watchers Moist Banana Bread recipe
Makes 12 servings

Ingredients
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 3/4 cups flour
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla (I used a vanilla bean)
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
1/4-1/2 cup walnuts (optional) (I used pecans)

Preparation
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
2. In a bowl, combine the mashed bananas, eggs, oil, milk, sugar and vanilla.
3. Add the flour and baking soda.
4. Mix well to combine for about 2-3 minutes.
5. Pour the mixture into a greased loaf pan and bake in the oven for about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

WW POINTS per serving: 6
Nutritional information per serving: 286 calories, 10.4g fat, 1.3g fiber

Feeling Disgruntled

Sorry for so many downer posts lately, but I am in such a funk lately, and can't figure out how to get out of it. I'm hoping maybe some of my readers can offer me some advice! As you may remember from my recent post, this all started off about two weeks ago, when I got scolded at work. I really felt that it was unfair, and though I later decided that I wasn't as blameless as I felt, and that I should just take it for what it was, and take note and improve my performance. But since then, I've just felt really down and blah and icky and unhappy and upset and all sorts of other synonyms. The issue at work led to other thoughts - fear that I won't ever get a pay increase. Fear that I am going to be unhappy in my career for the rest of my life. Fear that I will never climb the corporate ladder, so to speak. (Although I HATE corporations, and really don't want to work in a corporate environment.) This has led me to be very anxious about wanting to progress in life - to buy a home, to have a baby, to start a business in which I can work more for myself and more from my own home. I know all these are long-term goals, but when I am currently unhappy, it's so hard to see them as FUTURE goals, and not things that I want ASAP. I am feeling really down and depressed that we have not heard back on the house we made an offer on. I am also depressed that no new houses in our price range/desired neighborhoods have been available in the past 3 weeks. I am so afraid that we won't find something before the market starts going back up again, and we can no longer afford a home. I am afraid that by the time we ever buy a house, I will be well into my 30's, and we will start having problems conceiving a child once we are ready for that step.

Basically, I feel like nothing is going right, and I want to cry all the time...I am always depressed about all these things and I can't stop stressing about them. I have not been feeling well - my stomach has been feeling weird, I've been tired, I've been achy, I just don't feel RIGHT. I'm constantly wanting to snack (although I don't because I'm trying so hard to diet), probably just because I'm depressed. I know so many pregnant girls right now that I can't help but think "maybe I'm pregnant" but I know that it's VERY unlikely (we do take precautions about these things!) but this is just another thing for me to obsess and stress over.

I am at my wit's end, really. I can't concentrate on work, I constantly worry from one thing to another. I don't know what to do to get my head back on straight! I'm not usually like this. I have had issues with depression a couple of times in my life, but they always pass, and are never a big deal. But I just feel so awful. I don't know how to get over it! Have any of you ever felt like this? What do you do about it?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I got a facelift!

Or my blog did, rather! I felt that since I had a name change, I should probably change the look as well. :) Plus, I noticed a couple of cool gadgets on my friend Jamie's blog, so I wanted to try them out as well. (Check out the cool blog feed to the left! How cool is that?)

Girls Night In! - Healthy Spinach Artichoke Chicken Pizza

For the main dish, I made this tasty healthy pizza that my friend Danielle found for me. It was REALLY popular, and I have to agree, it was delicious! I will definitely be putting this recipe into regular rotation! Yum!!!

I used my friend April's recipe for Whole Wheat Pizza Dough. (I made the 1 pound option.)

To make 1 pound dough
:

1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 package quick-rising yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons), such as Fleischmann’s RapidRise
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup hot water (120-130°F)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

1. Combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a food processor; pulse to mix. Combine hot water and oil in a measuring cup. With the motor running, gradually pour in enough of the hot liquid until the mixture forms a sticky ball. The dough should be quite soft. If it seems dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons warm water; if too sticky, add 1 to 2 tablespoons flour. Process until the dough forms a ball, then process for 1 minute to knead.
2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Coat a sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray and place it, sprayed-side down, over the dough. Let the dough rest for 10 to 20 minutes before rolling.
3. Place a pizza stone or inverted baking sheet on the lowest oven rack;preheat oven to 500°F or highest setting. Roll and top the pizza as desired(we suggest a 13-inch circle) and bake the pizza until the bottom is crisp and golden, 10 to 14 minutes. Serve immediately

Make Ahead Tip: Store in a plastic bag coated with cooking spray in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before using.

Nutrition Information:
- Per 12 ounces: 766 calories; 12 g fat (2 g sat, 8 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 142 g carbohydrate; 26 g protein; 16 g fiber; 1,882 mg sodium.
- Per 1 pound: 1,032 calories; 18 g fat (3 g sat, 12 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 189 g carbohydrate; 33 g protein; 21 g fiber; 2,509 mg sodium.

For the topping....

Healthy Spinach & Artichoke Chicken Pizza


(I didn't get pictures, since the party was already started by the time it came out of the oven, but mine looked about like Joelen's!)

Healthy Spinach & Artichoke Chicken Pizza Topping
original Joelen recipe

1 chicken breast, diced (I used a rotisserie chicken because I ran out of time to defrost and cook my own chicken)
cooking spray
garlic salt to taste
1/2 cup artichoke hearts (frozen, canned or jarred)
1/2 cup frozen spinach
1/2 tablespoon garlic salt
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup homemade cream of chicken soup (Again, since I was pressed for time, I used fat free canned cream of chicken soup)

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

Heat a pan over medium heat.
Toss garlic salt over chicken breast to season.
Spray pan with cooking spray and saute seasoned chicken.
Continue cooking chicken until done. (I skipped all this...)
While chicken is cooking, combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl, except for the 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese.
Spread this spinach & artichoke topping over the prepared pizza dough.
Top with the sauteed (or shredded rotisserie!) chicken and remaining mozzarella cheese.
Bake in the preheated oven until the bottom is crisp and golden, 10 to 14 minutes. Serve immediately.
(I actually forgot to mix the cheese in earlier, so I just put it all on top. It worked fine!)

Girls Night In! - Pasta Salad

The third salad is a pasta salad I created on my own.

Alanna's Pasta Salad


Ingredients:
1 package rotini pasta (I used the 3-color kind)
1 can pitted black olives
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
oregano to taste
salt & pepper to taste

Roasted Garlic Viniagrette: (I doubled all these ingredients because I had a large bag of pasta.)
1 bulb of garlic
splash of olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons chicken stock
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon

For the dressing:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Slice off the top of the garlic bulb, just enough to barely expose the garlic inside each clove. Place the bulb in an ovenproof dish and drizzle with olive oil. Place the dish, uncovered, in the oven and cook the garlic until it is golden brown and soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool.

3. When the roasted garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the pulp from 6 of the cloves and mash with a mortar and pestle, or with a fork. (Store the remaining cloves in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.)

4. Put the garlic in a food processor and add the mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper and puree.

5. Slowly add the olive oil and stock through the feed tube, and puree until the vinaigrette is creamy. If it is too thick add a teaspoon of stock until the consistency is correct.

6. Add the shallots and tarragon. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.

(This dressing is SO good! You can also use it on salads pizza, etc.)


For the salad:
Boil pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Mix pasta, olives, and tomatoes.
Toss pasta mixture with viniagrette and season with oregano, salt and pepper.

Girls Night In! - Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

I love love love this stuff. I had it in Italy for the first time about 6 years ago, and I've been making it ever since. Just layer slices of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. You can also drizzle it with balsamic vinegar if you like. Mmmm.....

Girls Night In! - Pear Salad

Last night, I hosted a "Girls Only" Night In. We had SO much fun. My living room was packed!!! At first I was bummed about all the last minute cancellations, but then I started getting some last minute RSVPs, so it ended up working out after all. Although all the girls that originally wanted to have this party are the ones that bailed - so I guess we will have to do it again another time!

I made all kinds of food for this party. I went with a semi-Italian theme, so I served lots of wine, and Rossinis - pureed strawberries and champagne. It sounds excellent, but it didn't seem to go over very well. But, oh well. I will stick with my mimosas from now on!

I made three different salads: The first one was the most popular, and I found it on my local news website! It said it "has something for everyone" so I figured I couldn't go wrong. It was delicious!

Fresh Pear Salad

ngredients: (Serves 6 to 8)

Dressing:
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 1/2 teaspoons seedless raspberry preserves
1 tbsp honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or spicy brown mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Salad:
1 1/2 bags mixed baby greens or spinach
2 medium Bosc pears, cored and thinly sliced lengthwise
1/2 small red onion* thinly sliced
3 ounces gorgonzola or feta cheese, crumbled (I used feta)
1/4 cup roasted walnut halves
1/4 cup dried cranberries or golden raisins (I used golden raisins)

Directions:

Dressing:
In small bowl, whisk together vinegar, raspberry preserves and mustard. Slowly add oil, whisking until thickened. You could also do this with an immersion blender to emulsify quicker. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide greens among 6 to 8 salad plates. Top each with sliced pears, sliced red onion, crumbled cheese, walnuts and cranberries. Drizzle each with dressing or serve with dressing on the side.

Food Tips:

* To take some of the bite out of the red onion, soak the slices in a bowl of salted iced lemon water. Add1 tsp salt and juice from 1/2 of a lemon stir to dissolve salt before adding ice cubes (the ice will keep the onions crisp). Let the onion slices soak for 10 minutes then drain and pat dry before placing on salad.
(I didn't bother with this.)

Girls' Night In! - Tiramisu Cupcakes!

Naturally, for dessert, I made cupcakes! Since I was going with an Italian theme, I chose tiramisu (and it might have a little something to do with the fact that it is my FAVORITE dessert!!!) I found a few recipes online, and then asked my good friend CB if she knew of any good recipes, and what do you know...the ones she showed me are the ones I had been eyeing!

The two recipes in question are:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/12266682@N00/370089996/
http://beantownbaker.blogspot.com/2008/09/tiramisu-cupcakes-cupcake-hero.html

I decided to go with the first one (which I actually found on a different website, but the recipe and photo were identical!) because it sounded a bit more like real tiramisu.

Tiramisu Cupcakes

Ingredients:
6 eggs, separated (separate when cold; allow to come to room temp)
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar, divided
3 tablespoon water, room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup sifted, all-purpose flour (measure after sifted)

In large mixing bowl at high speed, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Add half of the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are glossy and stand in soft peaks. Rub just a bit of meringue between thumb and forefinger to feel if sugar has dissolved.
In small mixing bowl at high speed, beat egg yolks until thick and lemon-colored, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually beat in remaining sugar, water, vanilla and salt (if desired) until blended.
With a sifter or sprinkle flour with a sieve over whites. Add beaten yolk mixture. Gently, but thoroughly, fold yolk mixture and flour into whites.
Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 10-15 min or until done.

****Okay, so GET THIS. I had baked something just a few minutes earlier at the same temperature, so I figured I was all set to start baking cupcakes, right? Well, 10 minutes goes by. The cupcakes are definitely warm, but didn't seem to be setting. So, I put them in for 5 more minutes. Still nothing. I got this sinking feeling and it dawned on me....I just might have turned off the oven after baking earlier! Sure enough...I did. The cupcakes barely got a dose of warmth, and then just sat there for 15 minutes! I turned on the oven again and left them in there and set the timer for 10 minutes. I think maybe I should have baked them for a bit less, since they DID get all that extra time in the warm oven - but since they were drenched in the espresso syrup, I got lucky with these! Anyway, I had to share...I cannot believe I did that!!!****

Espresso Syrup

½ cup confectioner’s sugar
2/3 cup water
5 teaspoons espresso powder (I have an espresso maker, so I just made 1/3 cup of espresso and mixed it with 1/3 cup of brandy instead of using water and espresso powder)

In a small, heavy saucepan over high heat, combine the water, the remaining 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar and the espresso or coffee powder. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool. (I just boiled my espresso/brandy combo with the sugar)

Use a fork to poke a few holes into cupcakes so that they will absorb liquid. Pour approximately ½-1 teaspoon of syrup onto each cupcake.

Frosting

3 c mascarpone
1 c confectioner’s sugar
¼ c marsala wine (I didn't have marsala wine, but I learned that you can mix 1/4 c of dry white wine with 1 tsp brandy, and it essentially tastes the same.)
¾ c heavy cream, chilled

In a medium bowl using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat together the mascarpone cheese, confectioner’s sugar and marsala until well blended. Add the cream and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute. Frost cupcakes with mascarpone/whipped cream mixture. Dust tops with cocoa powder (I used unsweetened) and then sprinkle with dark chocolate shavings.

This recipe was adapted from the recipes “Classic Sponge Cake” and “Espresso Tiramisu”, both found on www.baking911.com.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Missing the hubs.

So, Mike is away for the weekend, home to see his family. It's not all that long, just a few days. But I already miss him! It's silly, even if he were home, I wouldn't see him all day, or even talk to him on a busy day, but I'm already missing him SO much. Just knowing that he won't be there when I get home tonight...that I'll have to sleep alone (though I do have my kitties!)...that he won't be around tomorrow, or the next day. It makes me a little sad. I'm sure it will go fast - I am having a girl's night tomorrow night, and I have SO many things to do to prepare for it, and then things to do on Sunday, that I will probably be fine. It's just night time that's rough for me. We aren't apart much, so it always seems so weird! For those of you who are apart from your husbands for long periods of time quite regularly, how do you deal with it?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Life sure can be hard sometimes.

Do you ever have those weeks where nothing seems to go right? I mean, nothing is majorly WRONG, but nothing is RIGHT either, and you just feel plain terrible? My last almost two weeks now have been like that, ugh. I got scolded at work last week, and that just seemed to set everything off. I feel like I'm on eggshells at work...I'm so paranoid I'm going to get in trouble and lose  my chance at ever getting a raise, and then never being able to afford to buy a home without a roommate, so we can never have a baby. Ugh. Such a chain of "what ifs." I feel like I work so hard and make so little money that I'm never going to get anywhere. What if it never pays off? What if all the extra hours I put in, and time I don't get to spend with my husband because I'm working never get me anywhere? Will I always be the lowest paid employee at my company? Will I ever make anything of myself in life?

On top of that, I've started working out a lot, which I love. I have realized that I am DEFINITELY a group exercise person. I've been going to my gym for close to a year now, and never got myself to actually try a class. I decided that this was going to be the year I saw my abs again, so I decided to try the Energizer Core class. O.M.G. It hurt SO bad. But in a good way. I quickly became obsessed. If you think about it, the first time I ever got in shape was in boot camp. That's pretty much the hardest core workout you can ever get. My whole Marine Corps career, I was in good shape because I had someone showing me what to do, and the group atmosphere really helped me get motivated. So, yeah. Classes are what I needed.

Anyway, my point is that my body has been S O R E. And tired. And exhausted. And I've been trying to eat less calories and eat healthier, so my body is kind of pissed at me. Add that to being stressed out from work, and having a visit from Aunt Flo, and having your husband be irritated at you for not being in the mood, and yeah. Life has SUCKED these past couple weeks.

Seriously, how do you get through this? Do you just grin and bear it and wait till it passes and life is just peachy again? I am so tired of feeling like I want to cry every day because I just can't deal, or I'm going to pass out. Ugh. Hopefully things will pick up a bit next week!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cupcakes AND Orchids!!!


I know....you are all in shock - Alanna is actually blogging - and WITH PICTURES, too!!! What may you ask brought this about?

Superbowl! I love football, and I love baking cupcakes, so naturally, I had to back cupcakes for the Superbowl! I decided to cheer on the Cardinals, since the Steelers are the ones to knock my Chargers out of the playoffs, and seriously....I didn't think they really NEEDED another win. I'm all for the underdogs! Anyway, while my cupcakes may not have brought that extra bit of luck that the Cards needed, I sure had fun making these little birdies!

I decided to make Coconut Cupcakes (courtesy of Made by Melissa!). I think I have oven temperature issues, so I set the temperature a bit higher than called for. They were a WEE bit dry for my taste, but still DELICIOUS. And, I frosted them with my most favoritest Vanilla Bean Icing! I added a bit of almond extract to enhance the coconut cupcakes. Mmmmm....

I gave my first attempt at using fondant, and loved it! I just used the store-bought stuff, and it was pretty easy. I printed out the Cardinals logo and separated it into colors, then cut out a stencil with my exacto knife. I used the exacto to cut out the fondant as well. I drew in the black details with a little tube of black gel. Easy peasy!


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On another note, my mystery orchid, one of the ones that Mike rescued from the garbage, is about to bloom! Here it is in bud. I am guessing it will be purple, but I don't know anything other than that. I am excited! The other 4 plants are in various stages of growth, but no blooms yet!


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Anyway, that's all for now. I'm having a bunch of girls over on Saturday, so I'll be doing a lot of cooking for that. Till then....