Tuesday, June 26, 2012

No, this can't be real.

So last weekend. Last weekend was the weekend where we found out housing in San Francisco is craaaaaaaaaaaaaaazy.

A little background info: An apartment we desperately want popped up on craigslist Friday. We called and said we'd pay in cash and our first born right there if they would give it to us. No deal. We have to go to the open house the next day. They want to meet all their applicants.

Fine, but we live 14 hours away... So we buy expensive, expensive plane tickets. Andrew flys out for the day.

He arrives 30 minutes early to the open house. Two, white, affluent looking couples are already there. By the time it started, 13 other applicants had arrived.

He goes in, walks around, and then tries to make small talk with the landlord. She tells him to just turn in his application and go. No need to chat.

So we now are praying and holding seances and practicing witch craft to try and will these people to pick us out of the 15 other applicants. Please pick us, we don't want to have to keep flying out.

And for those of you who don't understand how hard it is to find housing in SF, I looked on craigslist for apartment in the Upper East Side of New York and they were 1.cheaper and 2. there were tons of options. San Francisco is smaller and thus, housing is harder to come by and more expensive.

Maybe the worst part of it all? My husband shaved off his bautiful, manly beard in attempt to make a better first impression. He promised me he would grow it back as soon as he shaved it off.

Before (LOVE that scruff!)

After (babyface Shaw)

Finger's crossed that it was all worth it!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Two Pea's Lemon Sugar Cookies

I have a new favorite cookie, and a new favorite cookbook. These Lemon Sugar Cookies are amazing. They are thick, chewy, crunchy around the edges cookies. Take an awesome sugar cookie and add a little lemon zing and you have these babies.


It is from the cookie cookbook by Two Pea's and the Pod which I bought for $0.99 on my Kindle. STEAL! 

I like them so much that I even risked heat stroke and baked them in my air conditioner-less apartment. It was approximately 90 degrees in the house by the time all the batches were done. Sure, we couldn't sleep because it was so hot, but with all the sugar pumping through us we weren't going to sleep anytime soon anyway. No big.

I suggest you make these asap. And then buy their cookbook for other delicious cookies.

Two Pea's Lemon Sugar Cookies


  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Zest of 2 large lemons
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar for rolling cookies


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. Using a mixer, beat together butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.
4. Add lemon zest, egg, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. Mix until combined. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.
5. Roll rounded tablespoons of dough into balls and roll in sugar. Place on prepared baking sheets,  about 1 1/2 inches apart.
6. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are slightly brown around the edges and set. Let cookies sit on the baking sheets for two minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
Really, could it get any better?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Restaurant Worthy Chicken Pad Thai

I have a thing for Thai food. Pad Thai and Massaman curry are probably in my top 5 favorite foods right after french fries, pepperoni pizza, and maple doughnuts. I have a very mature palate (not).

Buttttt it's a bit expensive. And my favorite Thai place is 45 minutes away so after searching and testing and trying and crying I finally found a pad thai recipe that I love.

This is not the easiest thing to make only because it calls for a lot of ingredients I don't normally keep on hand, but I bought them once and now am surprised at how often I use them. I got them at an Asian market for pretty cheap which is a bonus, plus Andrew claims that he could eat this meal every night so we put those ingredients to good use.

If you are a Thai food fan, you're going to love this. Enjoy.

Restaurant Worthy Chicken Pad Thai


4 Tbsp. pad thai paste
2 tsp. tamarind paste/concentrate
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
3 tsp. sugar
2/3 cup water
1 to 4 tsp. Asian Chilli sauce (preferably Sriracha) or 1 to 2 tsp. Asian Chilli powder or ground red pepper (I used a little more than 2 tbs Sriracha and it was the perfect spicy for us, I'd call it medium.)

8 ounces dried rice noodles (medium thickness)
3 Tbsp. high-heat cooking oil (I used peanut oil for flavor but any kind will do)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 large chicken breast, cut into pieces
1 Tbsp. finely minced (about 3 large garlic cloves)

1 large carrot, thinly sliced
1/4 cup peas
4 green onions (scallions), cut into 1-inch lengths (I omitted this)
1 cup fresh bean sprouts  (I omitted this)
1 lime, cut into wedges  (I omitted this)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped unsalted dry roasted peanuts or cashews

Instructions:1.  In a large bowl, soak the rice noodles in hot water (not boiling, just hot straight from the tap) for 10 to 15 minutes.
2.  Combine the ingredients for the Pad Thai Sauce in a bowl.
3.  Check back on the noodles.  The noodles are sufficiently soaked when they are flexible but still a bit stiff.  Drain them and set aside.
4.  In a wok or large saute pan over high heat, add just 1 Tbsp. of the oil.  When the oil is very hot, add the beaten eggs and swirl gently while it sets.  Use your spatula to scramble the eggs and then remove from the pan.
5.  Wipe the pan clean.  Return the heat to high and add the remaining 2 Tbsp. of the oil.  When the oil is very hot, add the chicken and fry until cooked almost through.  Push the chicken to one side (or up the sides of the wok).  To an empty area of the pan, add garlic and carrots, peas and green onions and stir-fry 15 to 30 seconds until fragrant.  Add the drained noodles, the cooked eggs and the Pad Thai Sauce.  Toss until all ingredients are well combined.  Cover the pan and let simmer until the noodles are soft and cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Check at the 2 minute mark and if the noodles are still a bit stiff, cover and cook another minute.  The noodles should have soaked up a lot of the sauce, and you should taste a combination of sweet, salty, a little heat and a zing of tartness.  If desired, serve with the fresh bean sprouts, lime wedges and chopped peanuts at the table.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dense Lemony Pound Cake

Today was an awesome day. Thursdays don't usually rank that high on the "days to look forward to" list, but this one makes it. Why? Because today the event I've been planning for the last 3 months or so wen't off without a hitch.

Even better, it was a huge success!

Nu Skin employees prepare backpacks to be donated to local youth
(Photo from media coverage of the event)

I love events. Hosting/being part of an event is probably my favorite part of my job. I am a huge organizational nerd so planning every nit-picky detail and crossing off my 5 page to-do list is exciting. And yes, events are a lot of pressure and can be a lot of stress, but I and love creating (with the help of a ton of people) an awesome final product and seeing people enjoying themselves. I also enjoy working with amazingly talented people who come up with awesome ideas and make my job easier.

So great. Please fate, let my next job be in events.

Speaking of jobs, Andrew and I are moving to San Francisco in August (yes, this is kind of old news, but I'm excited). He got a great job working for Deloitte. Now only 4, 4-hour CPA tests and finding an apartment (hello, $1,800 rent) stand in the way of us and California!

In other good news... cake. Dense, amazing pound cake to be precise.

I won't say much about this cake except that it must be a drug because it is just that good (and addicting). It cooks for a ridiculous amount of time which makes the piles of sugar in it caramelizes around the edges of the bundt pan. Think creme brulee caramelized sugar, but on a lemon-y, dense, delicious cake.

I ate it plain because I didn't think it needed anything extra. But you can add whipped cream and strawberries if you'd like.


Dense Lemony Pound Cake

Jamie's note: This cake can be made up to a day ahead. In fact it tastes even better the second day than it does the first. However, this is not the case for the strawberries and the whip cream. The strawberries should be sliced about 15 minutes before you are ready to serve. This will give them enough time to mix with the sugar and get nice and juicy for you. The cream is also best if whipped just before serving.

1 C butter, softened
3 C sugar
3 C flour
1/2 t salt
6 eggs
1 C heavy whipping cream
1 t vanilla (I used vanilla bean paste for extra flavor)
1 t lemon extract

2-3 pounds strawberries + 3-4 T sugar
3 C whipping cream
4 T sugar
1 t vanilla (I used vanilla bean paste. I like to see the dark flecks or vanilla beans.)
dash salt

Make The Cake
1. Place 1 cup softened butter and 3 cups of sugar into your stand mixer or large mixing bowl. Cream the two together until light and fluffy with the paddle attachment. Should take about 3 minutes. 
2. While the butter and sugar are mixing sift 3 cups of flour and 1/2 teaspoon of salt  into a medium sized bowl. Toss the ingredients together to be sure they are well combined. 
3. Add  6 eggs to the creamed mixture, TWO EGGS AT A TIME mixing between each egg addition. 
4. Add half of the flour/salt mixture to your mixing bowl, and mix it for about 30 seconds. 
5. Add 1/2 a cup of heavy whipping cream and mix. Add the remaining flour/salt mixture and then the final 1/2 a cup of whipping cream. Mix the batter well, until it's nice and glossy. Should take about 3 minutes. 
6. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon lemon extract. Mix just until combined. 
7. Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray, it's best to use a cooking spray that has flour in it. This Bakers Joy works well. Pam Cooking Spray also has a cooking spray with flour that I recommend. 
8. Pour the batter into the bundnt pan and spread it out smoothly. 
9. Bake the cake at 325 for 75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
10. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Then place a wire rack over the bundt pan, grab hold of both the rack and the pan and invert the cake onto the rack. Allow the cake to cool completely. 

Prepare the Strawberries and Whip Cream
1. To make the cream pour 3 cups whipping cream in to your stand mixer. Add 4 tablespoons of sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and a dash of salt. Whip the mixture with the wire whisk attachment for about 3 minutes, or until the cream is nice and whipped. 
2. Wash your strawberries. Cut the green tops of with a sharp knife and then cut the berries into slices. 
3. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of sugar over the top of the berries. Give it all a nice stir and allow the two to hang out together and get nice and juicy. 
4. Cut the cake into thin slices and serve with the berries and cream.