Random Things on A Monday:

>> Monday, January 24, 2011

1. Wow - is January really almost over! I can't believe there is only one week left in this month. It flew by, and I don't even know where it went. Being sick the first two weeks of the month really made my life feel so unorganized! My husband and I are trying to get all organized for the year, do a "winter cleaning" instead of spring, and feel more on top of the house this year. Besides, we'll have visitors in 2 weeks!! My sister and family (all 6!) are coming on their way to China for a week. Yes, I said CHINA! They're moving there for 2 years. So, we needed to do a organizational overhaul in order to prep! :)

2. Our church has been part of a 21 day fast called "Awakening" which we do every year. It's really a great time to get refreshed, refocused, and to grow closer in your relationship with God. This year we chose to do without cheese, bread, and sugar. YIKES! I have a COOKING blog for goodness sakes! :) This is very hard, but so worth it, and it feels oh, so good after all the indulgences of the holidays!

3. I have been offered a chance to do a review for CSN, which will work out perfectly for all the Valentine's baking I want to try and haven't been able to with the fast. I have several new recipes I cannot wait to try out bookmarked and ready. I think most everyone who's been reading my blog for a while has heard of CSN by now since I have hosted several giveaways by them, but they have an excellent selection of everything from baking tools, home decor, amazing shoes, or you can choose the perfect laptop messenger bag for your new mac or ipad you got for Christmas. It seems like everyone got an ipad for Christmas... I did not! :) So, stay tuned for the review!

4. Archie and I stayed up in San Francisco last weekend, and we discovered a whole new side of town that we'd never seen before. The neighborhood is called "Marina/Cow Hollow", but we found a whole new shopping center, tons of restaurants, and even this cute little cupcake shop.
Of course, I didn't get to try it because I'm not allowed any sugar for the month of January, but I took a picture of the front of the shop so I wouldn't forget it! :)

We also found a great gourmet burger shop - Barney's Gourmet Burgers. So yummy. We had the burger's "protein style" - the In & Out slang for "with no bread", so it came with lettuce instead of a bun. Really yummy. I had mine with barbecue sauce, sauteed onions, and avocado!

5. The Super Bowl is coming up! (Not that we care about it at all other than yummy snacks!) That means you'll need game day recipes! I have a great one for you. This is my friend Mary's cheese ball. She made it for me for the first time when I was in high school and we hosted a sleep over for a bunch of junior high gals. I ended up sitting in front of the cheese ball, and when it was gone at the end of the night, everyone blamed ME for eating it all. I know I wasn't the only one eating it.... or maybe I was. It's just so good, you may want to make it and hide it!
It's so super easy, that it's a cinch to throw together. And there's a secret ingredient. If this wasn't a cooking blog, I wouldn't tell you because you might gross out, but I'm telling you, this ingredient totally makes the cheese ball amazing!
I promise it's different than Spam! You'll love it and everyone will rave.

Mary's Cheese Ball:
1 8 oz. bar cream cheese, softened
1 8 oz. bar extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 larger can of devil ham
1 splash hot sauce
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 splash of worcheshire (sp) sauce

Extra shredded cheese or chopped toasted pecans

Serve With:
Fresh veggies
Ritz crackers
Wheat thins

1. Grate cheese

2. Place softened cream cheese and cheddar cheese in a bowl.
3. Add deviled ham, garlic powder, and onion powder. Then add a splash of hot sauce and worcestershire sauce.

4. Mix all ingredients together and mold into a ball.
5. Dip molded ball into shredded cheese or chopped pecans. Serve with fresh veggies, ritz crackers, or wheat thins.


Warm Your Soul

>> Saturday, January 15, 2011

It's a long weekend!!! Hurray!

I really needed a long weekend - did you? I know, I know, it was just Christmas, then New Year's, and we all got to have a lot of days off, but sometimes in the midst of the holidays, it doesn't feel very restful (especially when you're really sick). So with work being ABSOLUTELY crazy, and weekends being used trying to get better, I'm ready for some fun!

My husband and I are heading up to San Francisco tonight to stay the night. We'll hopefully find lots of fun things to do there, and try somewhere yummy to eat to tell you all about.

Then tomorrow, we're going to Epic Church - they are a church plant in San Francisco that our church has been helping with. Mostly volunteering people for their preview services so things run smoothly. So, Archie is playing in their band tomorrow.
What do you have planned for the long weekend? Hopefully you don't have to work on Monday!

Now on to soup! :) This soup is perfect for the winter. It warms your insides, has such amazing flavor, and is so super easy.

California has the most amazing weather. It only rains in the winter, and even then, not that much. But it has been very cold this winter (according to California standards), and even reaching freezing overnight a few nights. We've been kicking on the heater, snuggling under blankets, and using our little floor space heater. I know you people who live in the snow are totally making fun of us, but California makes you a wuss when it comes to weather. So, because I'm a wuss, this soup makes for a perfect winter meal!

P.S. Read below for an awesome new kitchen tool - you'll love it.
THAI CHICKEN AND RICE SOUP (From: Sunset Magazine)
1 qt. reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1 cup cooked rice
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. flour
1/2 cup each cilantro and Thai basil (regular basil will also work, but Thai basil definitely adds a different flavor)
1/2 jalapeno, sliced

1. In a dutch oven or large pot bring broth to a simmer.
While broth is coming to a simmer, slice rotisserie chicken. I pulled some off the bone and placed in food processor - it ended up being more chopped then sliced, but I liked it that way.

Mince ginger until very fine - I used a grater for mine in order to get the most flavor out of the ginger - I could really taste it in the soup!

2. Add chicken, rice, salt and ginger to dutch oven or pot and allow to simmer ~ 15 - 20 minutes to let flavors develop. The rice will soak up a lot of the broth.

3. Next you want to peel and slice your garlic. In order to do that, everyone's mom's should buy them this amazing tool like my mom did for my birthday! It's a garlic peeler from William's Sonoma, and it's genius!!

You just put your whole, unpeeled garlic inside that little contraption...

Push it down and roll it around for a bit and VOILA! Your garlic peels itself with no yucky hand smell, no accidental slicing your fingers from banging a knife on it, and no fighting to get that peel off! I told you it was amazing.

Okay, where was I - now you're going to go ahead and slice that garlic as well as the shallot.
4. Then in a small saucepan, heat up that 1/3 cup of vegetable oil until it reaches 350 degrees. Fry the garlic in the oil, turning constantly with a slotted spoon, until it reaches a golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel to drain.

5. Put shallots in a small bowl and add the 1 tbsp. flour. Stir to cover the shallots while breaking them into rings. Fry the shallots in the same oil until golden brown, and transfer them to a paper towel to drain.

6. Coarsely chop cilantro and basil and jalapeno.

7. Ladle soup into bowls. Top each with herbs, a sprinkle of fried garlic, a few pieces of fried shallot, and a few slices of jalapeno. Cuddle up, and enjoy this yummy winter meal!


A One Year Anniversary Winner

>> Friday, January 7, 2011

Hello There,

I'm glad you came by to visit. I have a winner for my giveaway... but I'm going to make you wait, just a little bit, to find out who won! :) I've very excited.

This is what my wonderful husband made for me. Isn't it cute! He didn't disappoint. He's been taking lessons. A+ for effort, A++ for taste (P.S. He used the awesome chocolate buttercream recipe with the secret ingredient)

In fact, he made me a whole dinner for my birthday. Unfortunately, I've been SOO sick all week. And my birthday was the worst day of the week. My birthday present was an ear infection, horrible cold, and bronchitis. Sitting in the doctor's office during the morning was how I celebrated. I told him tonight, that I unfortunately barely even remember celebrating last night. I had such a fuzzy head and all I wanted to do was sleep. I was great company. At least I took this picture. Otherwise, I might not have remembered eating this cake. Yeah right, the cake was amazing!

We went out to celebrate tonight with friends. A whole big table full of awesome friends to help me celebrate! I was only slightly embarrassed during the singing of "Happy Birthday" by all 20 of them! :) I felt a tiny bit better tonight - at least I remember what we had for dinner tonight. Don't tell me how sick I look in this picture. I already know.
My hubby got me an external flash for my camera!!! I can't wait to play around with it. Hopefully no more yellow photos of food because my kitchen is so poorly lit.

Now for the fun part - The GIVEAWAY!!! So here it is, the moment all (okay, some) of you have been waiting for...

The winner is......

Jessica, January 2, 2011 6:59 PM

Happy 1 year!! My favorite part of 2010 was meeting my baby girl!! I'd choose the browned butter molasses chocolate chip cookies...yum!! Love you=)
Jessica J

I met Jessica in grad school for occupational therapy, and we have become dear friends over the years! I can't wait to meet her brand new baby girl in the near future! Can't wait to send some chocolate chip cookies your way! :) Hope you enjoy them. I'll be contacting you soon!!!

Thanks for everyone who played along.


Juicy and Sweet

>> Tuesday, January 4, 2011

First of all, if you haven't entered my One Year Blogiversary Giveaway, you MUST do so now.... I would hate for you to lose out on awesome homemade goodies and a whoopie pie kit!!!

There are only FOUR entries so far! So your chances of winning are actually pretty good right now! :) And I know I have more than four readers!!

Speaking of readers, I would love to get to know you all a bit more. I would love it if you all left me a little comment. It's so fun to hear from everyone - just tell me what state you're from!

I'm originally from South Carolina, but currently living in California. You know what the best part about California in the winter is... ORANGES! They get nice and ripe right about now. All the rain turns those green globes nice and orange. Every variety can be found in the grocery store - blood oranges, navel oranges, mandarin's, etc. Even these little beauties.

Kumquats from my backyard!

I've had this recipe for Orange Marmalade cookies for several months - couldn't wait to try them out! And what a good time since the citrus is so juicy and ripe. These cookies were a bit cakier than I imagined they might be, but they were still really good, and the citrus icing is so flavorful and bright. Definitely worth trying out with the fresh winter produce.
Orange Marmalade Cookies With Orange Zest Icing: By - (White on Rice Couple)
1/2 c unsalted butter
1 c sugar
2 large eggs
1 c Seville Orange Marmalade (regular orange marmalade will work too - Seville oranges make it a little less sweet)
3 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt

finely grated zest from 1 Orange
finely grated zest from 1/2 a Lemon
1/4 c fresh squeezed Orange Juice
1 tsp fresh squeezed Lemon Juice
3 T unsalted Butter, melted
1/8 tsp Sea Salt
3 c Confectioners’ Sugar


1. Combine butter and sugar in a mixer bowl and beat with paddle attachment until light and fluffy.

2. Break eggs in a small bowl, whisk to break up, then incorporate into the butter/sugar mix. Mix in orange marmalade.

3. Sift together flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Gently incorporate into wet mix until just combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled (@ 1-2 hrs.)

4. While dough chills, make orange icing. Combine citrus zests, juices, melted butter and sea salt in a bowl. Whisk in confectioners’ sugar until well combined and smooth. Cover and set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 300° F. Line sheet pans with baking paper or silpats.

5. Using 2 teaspoons, drop walnut sized cookie dough balls onto prepared sheet pans, spaced about 3″ apart. Bake for about 20 min. or until cookies are light brown. Remove from oven, transfer to wire rack and allow to cool completely.

6. After cookies are completely cool, ice them with a small spatula or butter knife.