Friday, October 29, 2010

Eureka, Friends and Lavender Cheesecake

I went to Eureka with my friend Erin to visit a few of our college/bestest friends Bekah and Janne and we had way too much fun.
Janne, pictured above, sold her first cheesecake that weekend and we decided to replicate it a day later so we could actually taste it. Lavender cheesecake with an almond crust- simply delicious. I'm not exactly a cheesecake person but this one just may have changed my heart; Yum!

She is super creative with her cheesecake creations and made this flavor up by using a mixture of Cypress Groves Purple Haze goat cheese (that has lavender mixed into it) with cream cheese and adding homemade lavender sugar (she crushed lavender and sugar together and then sifted the sugar out into the cake- brilliant!)

The topping was a mixture of sour cream and more lavender sugar. Janne mentioned how much she loves sour cream toppings on cheesecake because it cuts the richness and I completely agree. Pretty sure everyone who ate this cheesecake would agree that all components were necessary and perfectly combined.

Lounging while it poured rain of my favorite things

Janne decided and we all agreed that Erin (on the right) looked Dutch with her skinny jeans and borrowed New Balance shoes. So funny!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Couvrey's Arroz con Pollo

There are a few staple dishes my Dad made for my brother and I growing up. Goulash, crock-pot deliciousness, grilled chicken or steak or sausages, pork chops and apples...., and Arroz con Pollo, which is no doubt in my top three favorite dishes.

Over the years we've had many variations...sometimes throwing in pieces of ham, other times using the leftover tomato juice from the diced tomato can as part of the liquid. The other night we decided to throw in heirloom tomatoes instead of canned (best decision of the night), use vegetable stock and only cook dark meat. It was perfect.

Once the chicken sears the flour leftover in the pan leaves a beautiful roux that flavors the onions, tomatoes and garlic.


This rice is de-lish. I honestly couldn't stop smelling the container....I love basmati rice and this brand (Rice Select Texmati Rice) is so fragrant!

Toasting away

Yep, that's me! Debuting as I put it into the oven..

In all honesty I wish it wasn't so addicting; it reminds me of the paella my Senora used to make when I was in Spain...crispy olive oil infused rice is something else.

Saffron absolutely makes the dish- all you need is a tiny bit and it gives the most wonderful flavor and color.

Couvrey's Arroz con Pollo

makes 4 hefty servings

1/4 cup olive oil
flour to dredge
4 small thighs
4 small drumsticks

1 cup diced tomatoes
3/4 cup diced yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/4 cups Basmati Rice
1 cup stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 1/2 cup water
2 pinches Saffron (or about 1/2 t.)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Dry chicken and season with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour (we use a produce plastic bag from the grocery store and shake it up..less mess)
2. Heat olive oil in a hefty shallow pan on med-high heat and brown chicken. Once browned remove and place onto a paper towel lined plate to rest (the chicken is not cooked through at this point)
3. Turn heat to medium and cook onion for 5 minutes. Throw in the garlic and cook another minute and then add the tomatoes and cook until they're soft.
4. Measure the rice into the pan and toast for a few minutes before adding the stock and water. Cook the rice a few minutes until is starts to lightly boil.
5. Place chicken evenly into pan on top of rice and sprinkle with saffron and salt/pepper to taste.
6. Cover with lid and place into a 350 oven for 45 min- 1 hour or until rice is done.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cherubini Coffee House, Alamo, CA

I'm going to go ahead and call this quaint coffee house a diamond in the rough. My good friend Bre and I were in Alamo searching for a local, super cozy, non-commercial chain to grab a cappuccino and tea and we stumbled upon this place! It is attached to an Antique store (of course) and is a little off the beaten path. Well not that far off the main road but enough to where it didn't catch my eye the first time around.

Stepping inside on this perfect drizzly fall day was like walking into a grandmothers house with a fire in the fireplace. Antique furniture, vintage wall decorations and cozy chairs ushered us in to sit and chat for as long as we wanted.

They serve breakfast of which I cannot give an opinion since I didn't eat any but I did split a piece of their bread pudding with Bre that we saw had been written up as being "unbelievable." It was pretty much perfect, tasting like french toast doused with caramel sauce.

The cappuccino I sipped brought me straight back to France with its extreme intensity, as if it had little to no milk at all with the espresso. It was so strong I had to put two sugar packets in it! Next time I'll probably try something different, maybe some tea since Bre seemed to quite enjoy hers.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Equinox, Washington, DC

This post is a little after the fact, but I really wanted you to see a glimpse into Equinox, one of the two restaurants that came up when I searched "farm-to-table" restaurants within Washington, DC. All I wanted was something to stand up to Denvers Rootdown, but I think that may have been asking a bit too much. I had this idea that being the Nations capital, Washington, DC would have amazing forward-thinking, farm-to-table restaurants. It must be the California in me seeping out.

Equinox wasn't bad but it didn't blow me or Matt out of the water (especially for the price). Certain things were delicious like the Sweet and Sour Eggplant and Matt's Grouper Filet but it wasn't enough for us to give our overall experience an "A."

I don't exactly want to sit and nit-pick the meal since some of the things are personal preferences but I do want to focus on one important thing, which are the scallops. They were "potato crusted" which sounded great but they didn't tell me the scallop underneath would be naked. I don't care what is adorning my scallop and how crunchy that item is, I like the actual piece of shellfish to be seared with a delicious crust. As I went to cut into the first scallop the potato crust fell off and I was shocked to see my little scallop looking like I caught him with his pants off, all white and steamed looking. The flavor wasn't bad, actually that potato crust was quite delicious, but I need that crust!

One other thing I'll say is the mignardines (little desserts that come with the check) weren't fabulous. The little shortbread cookies tasted a little like take-and-bake Pillsbury sugar cookies and the jellies didn't quite taste like Cherry as the waiter had said. I've been super into jellies lately so was a bit bummed.

BUT, the place was super cute and I hear Equinox is where all the big-wig Capitol Hill people go to eat lunch and talk everything important. If I go next time I'll have to read up on my politics and go for lunch!

They offered cornbread, Grugeres and rustic white bread, Yum!

Carolina Red Grouper Filet “en Brodetto” 29
Little Neck Clams, Maine Mussels, Chorizo, Saffron Broth

Potato Crusted Montauk Diver Scallops 31
Sweet & Sour Eggplant, Baby Spinach, Toasted Pinoli

Matt eating the shortbread at the end of the meal...he must be thinking about those Pillsbury cookies :)

How classy is this ceiling?? I loved it

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

From Candy Pills to Viruses...

Originally, after my Dad's surgery to remove his glyoblastoma brain tumor last October he was put on two different chemotherapy drugs: Tarceva and Temodar.
I've tended to keep myself somewhat removed from all the medications he's on so I don't become completely overwhelmed...there are details for days and I'm incredibly grateful for Andrea, my step-mom, for keeping on top of it all. One day I remember my Dad mentioning how much Temodar pills bugged him. They were "candy pills" in his opinion- big and bright, filled with colors that will easily attract a young child. What are the producers of this drug thinking? Chemo pills are deadly to kids, and essentially poisonous to those adults that take them; They are highly potent and not to be trifled with, so why the outside appearance of Pepto-Bismol? We don't know and it remains an annoying mystery.

But enough talk about the candy pills. Now that the tumor has reared it's ugly head again we're breaking out the big guns and turning our attention to a new clinical trial at UCSF. This one, in very simple terms, injects a virus into my dad's head where the tumor lives and then acts as a catalyst for the drugs he will take by mouth during the following months to attack this tumor with its now virus companion. It's fascinating, really, and extremely mind boggling. The technicalities of this trial can be found HERE.
We're trusting that the Lord will continue to lead us in the direction of this trial up until the surgery date of November 5th. If He has something else in mind, we'll be following that lead.
Thank you so much for all your prayers!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Just me and D.C.

I was in Washington D.C. on Saturday, without obligation to go into work and decided to spend the day checking out the mall by myself, since my one friend had to work a 15 hour shift.

I've decided I don't like doing things like this alone; maybe sometimes, but not this day. There were crowds (thousands) of people for some One Union rally and I didn't know where to find food and I wasn't in the mood to be friendly and fun. Plus I wasn't wearing the correct shoes so my feet hurt from all that darn walking...but don't get me wrong, I'm all about walking in new places....usually.

I was, however, grateful for the beautiful sun that really only came out this one day our of the 8 I was in D.C. and that I brought my camera with me so I could take some pics. The days leading up to this perfect day were filled with tropical storms and the days following were normal rainy/cold days. The East Coast is strange.

The National Botanic Garden has a Jungle room with humidity fans and warm mist, making the room incredibly warm, as you can imagine. Within that room you can climb a couple flights of stairs to walk the canopy where it's even more humid and hard to breathe. By the time I circled the place I was dripping with sweat from head to toe all the while envisioning my make up being melted off and there being no chance I could hit up a good restaurant later looking like I had just run a marathon. To make my insecurities worse, when I came down I received weird stares as if these people didn't just see me climb down from the canopy! It was hot up there!