Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cream Puffs and Robbery, Not in that Order

I haven't posted in a while for a very legitimate reason; we got robbed and they took my camera and laptop.

You can't really blog without a camera and a laptop.

Here is the story. About a month ago I took Stanley for a walk. A 30 minute walk. I locked the door when leaving the apartment and when I came home the door was unlocked. I came in and shortly noticed that my camera and laptop were missing. Nothing else was gone, just those two things. At first I was in denial and searched and searched for them. We live in a studio apartment; there are not a lot of places to put something so it quickly became clear both items were gone, gone, gone.

We called the police and so did our neighbor. The thief also got his laptop and new watch.

I was unnerved and a bit freaked. Understandably. Someone was in our apartment and I was only gone 30 minutes. However, after the fact I was extremely grateful it wasn't worse. I could have been home. They could have taken all the Christmas presents (which were all wrapped and sitting right next to the laptop and camera) or cleaned us out completely and taken the furniture and food Grinch style.

Really, though the camera and laptop were the most expensive things we owned, it really wasn't that huge of a loss. Stuff is just stuff. It's not that important.

And I feel safe again. Our building changed its locks and we got like 5 more locks put in plus motion detectors, surveillance cameras, and those little poison arrows that shoot at Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom. Plus there's always Stanley, our massive guard dog.

Whoever broke in was lucky this beast wasn't around at the time.

And that is the story. Sad one, right? Well here is something to cheer you up: cream puffs!

All photos are courtesy of my phone. It will be awhile before we replace our laptop and camera.

I have been eating cream puffs a lot lately. There is this place in the city that sells them for $5 a pop and I can't stop craving them and going there. Well, when I was home at Christmas my sister-in-law made some from scratch and I was shocked! It never occurred to me that I could make them on my own. They seem so complicated. In fact, right before Christmas Andrew was telling me I should make some since I have wanted them so often and I told him you had to buy special pastry tools that scrape out the inside to make them hollow.

Dead serious. I truly believed that. The lies I tell. I don't even know where I come up with this stuff. A pastry scraper. Hah.

Turns out they are pretty easy. I think this took me an hour, from start to eating. That being said, I wont lie. There are a lot of steps involved which results in kind of a lot of dishes. I wish cooking could be my hobby without dishes becoming a hobby as well.

But, the pastry dough is super simple to make and guess what! it magically bakes up hollow. It has something to do with steam, my chef-uncle told me. No pastry scraper needed. Then I just whipped up some vanilla and chocolate whipped cream and WHAM. Cream puffs for days. Cravings solved.


Pâte à Choux (Cream Puff Pastry)

Recipe from A Steamy Kitchen
  • 1 c water
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 c all purpose flour
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 4 large eggs (next time I make this I am only to use 3 or 3 1/2 as I thought this was a bit too egg-y)
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
Preheat oven 425F.
1. In a medium pot, bring the water and butter to a simmer on medium heat. Add the flour and with a wooden spoon or spatula, stir very quickly in one direction. Carefully watch and you'll see that the flour starts absorbing the liquid -- and a dough will form. Keep stirring to continue cooking the flour and cook off some of the water, another minute or two.
2. You can do the next step one of two ways:
  • Transfer the paste to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or to a bowl if you're using a hand mixer. (I chose this method and used my Kitchen Aid.)
  • If you want to mix the eggs directly into the dough in the pot, let it cool slightly, 4 or 5 minutes, or cool off the pan itself by running cold water over its base if you will be mixing the eggs in that pot. You don’t want to cook the eggs too quickly.
3. Add the salt and the eggs one at a time mixing rapidly until each is combined into the paste. The paste will go from shiny to slippery to sticky as the egg is incorporated. The pâte a choux can be cooked immediately at this point or refrigerated for up to a day until ready to use.
4. Spoon the dough into a large gallon-sized plastic bag (or piping bag.) Use your hands to squeeze dough towards the bottom corner. With kitchen shears, snip off just the tip of the bag. Pipe onto a baking sheet into little puffs, keeping the puffs 2-inches apart. With your finger, press down the peaks (as they can burn.) Bake at 425F for 10 minutes, then 350F for 18-30 minutes, depending on the size of your puffs (mine were about 20 minutes). DO NOT PEAK AT THEM WHILE THEY BAKE.
5. Let them cool before inserting the filling or else the filling will run.

Vanilla and Chocolate Whipped Cream Filling
  • 2 pints heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 4 TBS granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 TBS cocoa powder
  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix on high 1 pint of cream with 2 TBS sugar and 1 tsp vanilla until stiff peaks arise.
  2. Scrap whipped cream in a piping bag or gallon ziploc and cut the very tip of the ziploc. Push the bag into the pastry ball and fill until filling is popping out of  your filling hole. If you are using a ziploc, you may need to cut a little "x" into the ball with a paring knife.
  3. Fill half the cream puffs.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, mix on high 1 pint of cream with 2 TBS sugar, and 1 TBS cocoa powder until stiff peaks arise.
  5. Repeat steps 2-3.

Nom nom.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Chicken and Veggie Braid

Carbs. Can I just say it? Wrap anything up in carbs and it is immediately delicious. For example: meat pies, sheperd's pie, and beef wellington. Really, meat wrapped in bread/pie crust? That sounds disgusting. But it isn't! Carbs are magical and have super powers and best of all are calorie free! Yay for carbs!!

And tis the same with this meal. Chicken and veggies covered in saucy goodness and laid to rest in a bread pillow. Yes, please. I think this is probably one of my most impressive, yet easiest-to-make meals. I especially like it because it has your main entree and side dishes all crammed into one package, so no need to plan out side dishes and what not. And it is filling and delicious. Win, win, win.

I make this pretty much every time I have guests and people always think it is way more gourmet and time-intensive than it really is. Since it looks a little tricky/intimidating, I thought I would do my fist step-by-step post. Enjoy!

Step 1 (not pictured): Make this bread dough (yes, I know it is labeled pizza dough but it is amazing and I use it for everything) and set it aside to rise. Then, cook one un-seasoned chicken breast in a grill pan or however you'd like. Let it cool and then cut it into cubes.

Throw your cubed, cooked chicken breast in a bowl with whatever veggies you like, cheese, mayo, garlic, salt, and dill. Mix it all up nice and good.

Plop your dough onto a floured surface.

 Roll the dough into a rectangle. Or a blob that kind of resembles a rectangle. No one is judging!

 Cut dough into strips, about 1' wide and 3' deep. Leave the last 3' of the the dough un-cut. Make sure you cut the same number of strips on both sides.

Place your chicken-veggie filling in the center of the dough.

Fold both ends of the dough (the un-cut 3' inch heel parts) over the paste. Begin braiding the bread by taking a dough strip from the left side, placing it over the filling, then grabbing the opposite dough strip on the right side and placing it over the filling. The right strip should be covering about half of the left strip.

Place on a lightly sprayed cookie sheet and bake at 475 for 15 minutes.

Pull it out and admire the beauty.

Chicken and Veggie Braid
  • 1 chicken breast, cooked and cut in cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups of veggies. I mix it up every time depending on what I have in the fridge but a few favorites have been zucchini, squash, corn, peas and carrots or just peas and carrots.  I've had it with broccoli and peppers too but that isn't my top choice.
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp dried dill weed
  • ¼ tsp salt
  1. Make this pizza/bread dough and set aside to rise.
  2. Bake 1 un-seasoned chicken breast. Let it cool and cut it into cubes.
  3. Preheat oven to 475.
  4. Place chicken and veggies in bowl, garlic, cheese, mayo, salt, and dill.  Mix well.  
  5. Roll out into a rectangle.  On longest side, cut dough into strips, 1 ½ inches apart, 3 inches deep. LEAVE 6’ UNCUT DOWN THE CENTER FOR FILLING.  Spread filling over dough.
  6. To braid, life strips of dough across the filling to meet in center.  Continue, alternating strips to form a braid.
  7. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 475 for 15 minutes or until deep golden brown.  Cut and serve.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Girls Weekend

6ish years ago I briefly lived in France and weird things happened.

For example:
  • I gained 25 pounds and ate nothing but pastries and bread.
  • I was 18 years old living abroad and had no idea how to speak French.
  • I packed only 4 shirts, 1 pair of shoes and 2 pairs of pants and thought that was an acceptible wardrobe for 4 months.
So yeah, those weird things happened. And these weird things happened too:

And this:

Oh here we are again, a little full in the face...nbd:

This might have happened too:
And it will all happen again this weekend-in all our obnoxious glory.
Keystone, CO may not be France, but some call it the Paris of the West.
Bring it on ladies. I am bringing the pastries and insufficient wardrobe because thats how I roll.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Our Apartment!

Here is our new digs. I am afraid the pictures don't really make sense and don't give a good feel for the place but I tried my best.

Our place is lovely and BIG (by San Francisco studio standards). It was built in the 1920's and has charm and cuteness galore with things like exposed pipes and chandeliers. It does have its quarks-- for instance, the sink and the toilet are so close together you could pee and brush your teeth at the same time. I do not know this from experience, fyi, that would be gross.

We still have a lot left to do (put stuff on the walls {But WHAT?! Total delimma for me.}, buy a dresser, get plants and cute knick knacks, etc. etc.) but it is starting to feel like home!

So, here's the virtual tour. By the way, I love it when people tell you where they bought stuff so I am going to do that too. Don't judge.

This is the view from the front door. As it is a studio, you are looking at both our bedroom and our living room. We separated the space with a partition which gives us the semblance of privacy when we have guests. Works pretty well, actually. That bike on the right is there until we buy a bike lock for it, then it goes outside.

Necklace Stand: Urban Outfitters, Bedding: Macys, Lamp: Target

You're looking at our bedroom, walk- in closet (the door with the mirror on it) and our front door. All those boxes on the wall on the right are storage and fuse boxes. The small gold box on the wall is an old fashioned phone from the 20s. 

Wicker Basket: TJ Maxx, Bookshelf: bought unfinished at Talisa's Furniture in Provo and painted by me, Large Clock: Target, Book Lamp Shade: Bijox Market, Side Table: Ikea, Curtains: sewn by me, Arm Chair and Couch: Macys, Rug:
A 280 degree view of our living room. I hope it makes sense. Clockwise from top left: Stanley's area and the gold thing is our radiator; the TV armoire/ bookshelf area; widow/arm chair section; couches.

"Culinary Tools" Poster: A gift from Mckenzie from here, Curtains: me, Love Birds Towels: Anthropologie, Owl Spoon Holder: Pier 1; Best Bites Cookbook: gift from Louise, Table: bought unfinished at Talisa's Furniture in Provo and stained by Andrew and me,  Chairs: Ikea, Placemats: Target, Dishes: Anthropologie

Kitchen, clockwise from top right: view from the doorway; left side kitchen counters; right side kitchen counters; dinner table. Lots of white but lots of counter space and cupboards!

Towels: Walmart and Target, Floor Mats: Target, Diffuser: Anthropologie, Shower Curtain: Target, Mirrors: Target

And our bathroom. You can't tell from this picture but the sink is literally on top of the toilet which makes it hard to sit down.Definitely threw us when we first moved in.

Two months in (time flies!) and we love it and are so glad to be here. We feel like the apartment is huge and especially like how the kitchen and bathroom are completely separate from the bedroom/living room--rare for a studio.

The concludes today's tour... I hope it wasn't boring.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Authentic Restaurant Style Salsa

So there are some major perks of being jobless in San Francisco. Obviously there is one major downfall and that is the lack of income, but other than that rather large factor, unemployment affords a lot of enjoyment. 

For example, it turns out that if you are a SF resident, the first Wednesday of every month you get to go to the zoo for free. Which I did yesterday with some new friends from Church. And a lot of other stuff is free to residents like the gardens in Golden Gate Park, certain museums on certain days, and there is always lots of interesting street or gorgeous scenery to take in.

So, while I will be thrilled to get a PR job again I am really enjoying myself right now (well I'm enjoying the times in between short bouts of panic attacks that I'll be unemployed forever).

Like today I decided to dust off the old blog and actually post about food. So I went to some local Asian markets and got a KILLER deal on all the produce I needed to make this salsa. The recipe is from my dad's former secretary who was from Mexico. I adored her growing up and thought that her calling me "mi hija" was a special nickname just for me and then was crushed when I realized she said that to all little girls.

She always brought chips and salsa to work and I would always chow down and even at seven years old I begged her to give my mom the recipe so she could make it. And so I spent part of today making this salsa and sitting at the kitchen table with Andrew dipping chips right into the serving bowl, scarfing it down.

Authentic Restaurant Style Salsa
Combine the following in a bowl:
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers (depends on how much spice you like), chopped
  • 3 small green onions, chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes, diced
  • ½ bunch cilantro, cut off stems,  chopped
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • ¼- ½ cup water (depends on how thick you want your salsa. Omit for optimal thickness.)
  • Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder to taste

Put in the fridge and let the flavors blend together for about an hour (if you can wait). Keep refrigerated. Makes about 3 pints or enough to serve 8.

Sunday, September 2, 2012



It is time for me to come clean. The guilt. The lies. The anxiety. They all end here. I have a confession: on June 9, 2012, Andrew and I drove to Denver, Colorado and picked up our first dog, Stanley. We then secretly kept Stanley in our "NO DOGS ALLOWED" apartment for roughly 2 months until we moved to San Francisco.

Let me begin with the back story.

Two years ago for my birthday Andrew got me a book on Westies. We read it cover to cover and then, during church we got a little bored and started passing notes on what we should name our future dog. Killer, Snowball, Meatball, Fuzzball, Peanut... we were joking around and then I wrote down Stanley and the heavens parted, angels descended, and the name was confirmed.

Well once we had the name we started looking for dog friendly apartments in Provo. They don't exist. So we waited. A year later Andrew finished school, he was home all day studying for the CPA which gave him time to train our dream dog, so we started looking again.

Then we found Stanley, bought him, and smuggled him in and out of our apartment for 2 months to take him on twice daily walks and vet visits. Luckily Stanley does not bark (seriously) so it was really easy to get him in and out of the apartment with the help of my Puma weekend bag.

Now before you feel like this is animal cruelty, let me just state that I always threw treats in there for him and to this day if I put that bag on the floor Stanley runs and jumps in. I think he thinks it is a magic transport machine that takes him to fun places. We also may have used a microwave box sometimes too just to mix it up.

Yes, we are skilled in the art of deception.

And now he lives happily ever after (and fully approved by our landlord) in our studio apartment.

The end.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Oregon Coast

Andrew and I had a pretty fantastic summer and we owe it all to our amazing families. We were fortunate to end the summer at the Oregon coast with Andrew's family and had a great time. The only bummer was that it was pretty cold the entire week so it turned into an indoor vacation with an amazing view. However, you can't really complain of a week spent with family, lots of little babies running around and tide pools.

Photo by Andrew's mom.
At the end of all our travels it was really nice to come home to our new apartment and get settled in. We are loving our new place, the location, and the city in general. Here is a sneak peak at our place, but I don't want to post more pictures until we have some more main things like a couch.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


My family spent a week together in Oahu. It was a fun time and so nice to vacation as a family. I don't think we've had a trip all together since I was in high school. The trip came about  because my uncle went to the doctor to get lipo and when he found out it would cost $10k, he decided to take us all to Hawaii instead. Random and weird, I know.

Andrew and I spent most of the time on the beach swimming and floating in inner tubes. There is no evidence that I was in the sun all week because I wore a hat  and SPF 70 the entire time. Working for a skin care company totally ruined my love of being tan.

We also went in a shark cage and deep sea fishing. The shark cage was SO COOL and I highly recommend it. Deep sea fishing was kind of boring to be honest.

The digs

Our backyard

The neighbor


Sunny = Squinty


The cage

 Jaw's first born

Part of my family plus my grandma's best friend and my uncle's boyfriend. We're missing some family members. When you travel with 13 people, splitting up is a necessity. 

P.S. Andrew was at the house studying for the CPA when the above photo was taken. He got a perfect score on his first test. Crazzzzzzzy. I married a winner.