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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

mas mraz

I mentioned that I would be seeing Jason Mraz in concert again - this time at Villa Montalvo. This was my first time there and we done felt like the Clampetts come to Beverly Hills. It is an incredibly beautiful venue- I can't wait to see another show there.

I don't have any pictures this time - Hallie has my camera with her in Costa Rica and I figured bringing the new Nikon with zoom lense would border on stalking. So I had to settle for soaking it all into my mind on a beautiful summer night. Even the food was good - they had garden burgers but I settled for a salad (and a nice cold beer :-))

Yesterday was another triple digit heatwave day. I dug through what I had in the fridge and we had salad - yet again.













This one had spinach, mixed baby greens, sugar snap peas. carrots, green onion and a mixture I got from Trader Joes of pine nuts, pepitas and almonds. I topped it with Soyvay Chinese Chicken Salad dressing. The combination tasted better than I thought it would and it cleaned out the vegetable bin too!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Teriyaki portobello with asian coleslaw

This isn't the most complicated cooking I've ever done but it was good :-)














I marinated portobello mushrooms in teriyaki sauce and then cooked them on the stovetop and served them on Il Fornaio rolls topped with asian coleslaw. Messy! Good!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I believe you Al!

While running errands today(picture taken on my phone):


















Ridiculous!

The loud thud

Did you hear the loud thud? The sound of me falling off the edge of the earth?

Back when we were younger and had our first child we thought it would be really nice to space them two years apart. So three weeks before our first child turned two we brought home our second. We Virgos - we don't mess around with plans. The girls actually had the same due date - Ana was a week late, Hallie two weeks early. The one thing we didn't really think about was birthdays. July turns into birthday month around here. And ironically - they both have lots of friends with July birthdays. So I've basically been either shopping for a party, cleaning for a party, hosting a party, cleaning up after a party....you get the idea.

Not to mention it has been well over 100 degrees for days on end (it was still in the mid-90's last night at 10pm). I really haven't prepared a meal for our family for quite some time. Lots of takeout, pita and hummus, simple salads. In other words, nothing anyone would really care about! But I'm tired of takeout Chinese, I'm really tired of hummus so I need to get inspired and get cooking.

But in the meantime I'm off to see Jason Mraz AGAIN tomorrow night. I know, I am far too old for this nonsense. I am taking my best friend Jen, Ana and her best friend (they share the same birthday!). This is a birthday gift for Ana and her friend. Hallie is gone and while I feel bad she will be missing the concert I have to remind myself she is in Costa Rica. Surfing.

So...until I get something going in the kitchen...some pooch pics:

Bella













Renzo














It was a year ago today that I went to see Renzo for the first time. I had been resisting a puppy from this litter (Renzo is Bella's nephew). I found out there were two puppies left - both males - and we could get one if we wanted. So before I got anyone's hopes up I took Bella over to meet the puppies to see how she would do.

The one we took home two days later (the puppy, not the boy!)




























The one we left behind :-( Don't worry - he went to a great family!)




















Can I just say that it is nearly impossible to visit a puppy and not take it home? I was a goner. I went from "No. I mean it No. We will never get a dog. Never - do you hear me?" to two dogs. Two dogs that I cook for (I've cooked more for them the past two weeks than I have for us!). I've learned my lesson. Never say never. Vive le Vizsla!

Monday, July 10, 2006

I'm mrazmerized!



Another weekend away for us - this weekend we headed up to Clear Lake (the largest lake in California) and went to the Konocti Resort and Spa. The name makes it sound a lot nicer than it is ;-) There are a lot of activities, but we were there for a concert.

So Saturday morning we rolled out of bed, put on our bathing suits, packed up our lunch (we brought all our food since we'd rented one of their apartments) and started off on the long walk to the pool. We were walking up the hill when we saw the Konocti shuttle. We weren't super close but the driver stopped and signaled for us that he would wait. So there we are, the Dorkus McGee family traipsing across the parking lot with our towels, books and cooler. I hate making anyone wait so I felt badly as we boarded the little bus and just quickly took a seat. As I looked around I realized that everyone else on the shuttle was a) male b) young and c) looked tired and suspiciously like touring musicians. OMIGOD we were on the shuttle bus with Jason Mraz and his band. Anyone who knows me knows I am a HUGE Jason Mraz fan. I didn't want to act like Marcia Brady meeting Davy Jones - c'mon, I have some pride (but oh so very little sitting there in my swimsuit coverup) so we made some casual conversation with them before they got dropped off.

We found chairs at the pool and before long they showed up there too :-) We stayed until it was time to head back to get cleaned up for the concert. We had the pool attendant call the shuttle for us and we climbed in hot and tired. Wouldn't you know it - the bus made one more stop - yup, another ride with M-R-A-Z. Our apartment was right near the amphitheater so we got ready listening to the soundcheck, had dinner and then headed into the concert.
It was HOT and our seats were in the glaring sun but as usual, he put on a fantastic show.












Since he was the opening act there were still a lot of empty seats (if only those RobThomas fans knew what they were missing...) . Here's what they missed:


















It was a great weekend. If you ever want to check out a highly talented, immensely entertaining act get thee to a Jason Mraz show.

Tomorrow night we're having Hallie's birthday party (she's doing a party with a friend who also has a July birthday). So not much cooking - just lots of cleaning and organizing! A virtual Virgo nirvana!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Veggie burgers and potato salad

We're on our way to see fireworks tonight - it's a local thing, nothing spectacular. But it's kind of tradition at this point so even though I'd be perfectly happy to stay home and watch a movie, off we go.

Tonight we had Gardenburger veggie burgers and a potato salad using a recipe I found on epicurious.com (if you follow the link for their tip on how much salt to put in the water make sure to read the comments - it's hilarious).













Potato Salad with Mint and Peas

2 lb small red potatoes
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup thawed frozen or cooked fresh baby peas (5 oz)
1/3 cup chopped or torn fresh mint leaves

Cover potatoes with cold salted water in a 3-quart saucepan, then simmer, covered, until tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

While potatoes are cooking, whisk together vinegar, shallot, salt, and pepper in a large serving bowl.

Drain potatoes and halve or quarter if desired. Add to vinegar mixture while warm and toss to coat. Add oil, peas, and mint and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 6 side-dish servings.

Here's a shot of the veggie burgers and salad













We're off!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Millennium Pasta Carbonara

Tonight was a pasta night. We had pasta carbonara from the Millennium cookbook. I followed the suggestion from the cookbook and added some sun dried tomatoes, capers and fresh peas. It had a bit of a bite to it due to the cayenne pepper but it was devoured by everyone (including a friend of Hallie's). I'll definitely make this again. The only time it took was cooking the garlic (1.5 hours). But putting the actual sauce together is a cinch.













We had this with a spinach salad, organic strawberries, watermelon and a loaf of French bread.

I got a new camera and am still trying to figure things out. It's a digital SLR instead of a point and shoot (although you can use it that way). It's a fun new toy :-)

Here are some random pictures I've been taking...

Grapes growing on the trellis:













Flowers:



























And lots of dog pictures (people complain after a few - the dogs just put up with it). I'll post some pup pics another time!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Cherry chocolate shortcake

Yesterday was Hallie's birthday and she requested her favorite dinner (Persian "chicken" and rice) and for dessert I tried something new.

When we were at my friend's cabin a few weekends ago I was looking through an old Gourmet magazine. I usually don't find much in Gourmet (or Bon Appetit) but I found several recipes this time. The chipotle sweet potatoes were from that issue as well I think. In any case I found a recipe for Cherry Chocolate Shortcake. I made a few substitutions for the shortcakes (used soy milk and Ener-G for the egg). And for the cherries I used frozen dark sweet cherries from Trader Joe's (I adore my daughter, truly I do. But I just don't have the patience to pit that many cherries!). I didn't have kirsch in the house so I just mixed the thawed cherries with the sugar and a little cornstarch and cooked them a bit. For the topping I made Bryanna's Almond Creme Whipped Topping.













This was really wonderful - the chocolate in the shortcakes was a nice twist. The almond creme was delicious!