Wednesday, June 24, 2015

WDW - Best Ever, Super Easy Salsa


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photo cred:  TheCafeSucreFarine

My husband LOVES salsa. I mean LOVES it.  I mean REALLY LOVES it.  Since we are avid tomato growers, naturally one would think we would make homemade salsa with our wonderful homegrown tomatoes.  I have tried, but the best I can do is make is a chopped pico de gallo.   When it comes to blended salsa, I've never been able to get the consistency right (too watery, inconsistent texture).  I have tried hand chopping, a regular blender, a Vitamix, a food processor, and even one of those hand crank "salsa makers" from the L.A. County fair.  I have often observed recipes for salsa that include canned tomatoes as an ingredient, but always thought it strange.

Recently, I came across a recipe that caught my eye, as it was titled "Best Ever, Super Easy Salsa."  Like, how can anyone know that, Napoleon Dynamite might say.  But, it looked really good, so I thought I'd give it a try.

It literally took 5 minutes to throw all the ingredients in the food processor, and 30 seconds to pulse to the perfect texture.  I quickly grabbed a tortilla chip and took a bite -- and guess what -- it IS the BEST EVER SUPER EASY SALSA!!   I'm so excited to have a good basic salsa recipe, and I know I'll be serving this many times this summer, not only to my very happy husband, but whenever guests come over.

Best Ever Super Easy Salsa  
modified from TheCafeSucreFarine


  • 2 14 ounce cans fire-roasted canned tomatoes, drained (reserve juices)
  • ½ cup roasted red pepper (jarred), packed
  • 1 4-ounce can green chiles (these are not spicy, just add great flavor)
  • ½ small red onion, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro (leaves and stems), packed
  • 2 medium green (spring) onions, cut in two inch pieces (both white and green parts)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 fresh jalapeño pepper, seeded + about half the seeds
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Instructions
  1. Drain the tomatoes, reserving the juice.
  2. Combine all ingredients except reserved tomato juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse on and off until all ingredients are finely chopped and salsa is desired consistency. We like it a bit chunky, but if you like a smoother salsa, just keep pulsing. If you like a thinner salsa, add a small amount of the reserved tomato juice and pulse one more time.
  3. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.



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Friday, June 12, 2015

National Donut Day at Donut Friend


Did you know last Thursday was National Donut Day?  Is that not the best holiday EVER?  You might not know, due to my many posts on health and nutrition, that I have a complete and utter weakness for donuts.  Yes, it's true.  It's not under control in the least, nor do I have any plans to get it under control. :-)

Emma reminded me of the holiday many weeks in advance, and our calendars were clearly marked for the occasion.  The night before, we twisted the arm of our dear friend, Alik, and she came along with her 4 year old daughter.

We decided to visit a fun donut shop in the nearby area of Los Angeles, Highland Park (adjacent to Eagle Rock). Donut Friend is such a fun place -- you can customize your own donut, or go with one of their "signature complilations" on the menu.   They all have fun names, which I later learned are named after punk rock songs.  This place is hardcore.  The donuts are so amazingly fresh and tasty. If you have a moment, check out their website.*  But be warned, you may need a donut immediately after you do.  *I am not responsible for any actions taken on account of visiting this site.  :-)

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 They ain't cheap, but this isn't the corner donut hut where you grab a $8 dozen and chow down several.  Think of it as going to get a gourmet ice cream cone, it's about the same price as that (and the same kind of experience)

So, we arrived around 10:00 a.m. and discovered that us and about 100 other people thought Donut Friend would be a good idea, too.  No worries, as it was TOTALLY worth it.  After about an hour, we had these babies in our possession:

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I won't describe them all, but the one in front on the bottom center of the pic is called "Jets to Basil."   It is a glazed yeast donut, cut in half, smeared with goat cheese, strawberry jam and fresh basil.  Then it is smacked back together, drizzled with vanilla bean icing and balsamic glaze.   Strange, but it totally works for me. The one on the top right is maple glazed and topped with "coconut bacon" which is vegan, all natural, flavored coconut (it almost fooled me)

Little Darsy was totally into the day.  She was even wearing her festive donut shorts. This was her "national donut day  announcement" the week before, featuring Krispy Kreme donuts. 

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She didn't even eat any donuts...but L O O K at those thighs!

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"But Grammie... when do I get to actually EAT one of these?"

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I sure love my little donut friend.  
Let's plan to get donuts a lot together, little Darsy.



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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

WDW and something even more yummy

It's almost summer!  
I always enjoy all the summer produce, especially from our little homestead.  
Right now we are harvesting lots of apples, strawberries, zucchini, beets, and herbs... soon there will also be cucumbers, TONS of tomatoes (we planted 18), green beans, plums and peaches.   
We also receive an organic farm box weekly, and I am always so amazed at how much produce just two people go through!
I thoroughly enjoy all the beautiful creations God has given us and especially love making our meals revolve around gorgeous produce!

Here's an easy summer meal made possible by the MOST AMAZING dressing.  I love all the ingredients, but the "secret" ingredient is this:

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The dressing can be whipped up quickly in your blender.
It lasts for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator.

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The BEST Tahini Lemon Dressing

Ingredients

Method
  1. Toss all ingredients into a Vitamix, food processor, or standard kitchen blender.
  2. Blend until well combined and smooth.  Add more water if necessary to thin.
  3. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator. Use within 2-3 weeks
 recipe source:  http://frugallysustainable.com/

This dressing is great on salads, but also as a sauce for hot food too. It's especially great on bbq chicken.
Last night I sauteed some garden zucchini and put it atop a bowl full of quinoa (I love Costco's frozen quinoa & kale!)
Then, I poured a generous amount of the dressing on and topped with fresh garden chives.
A masterpiece -- so simple and delicious, plus fast!

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But, you know what's even YUMMIER than this?

My little granddaughter  :-) 
She's 7 weeks old now and I could just eat her up!

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

She's here....

Today was her due date, but little miss Darsy Claire Steadman made her grand entrance into this world on April 21, 2015 at 12:31 am.  She is now home and they are so enjoying their new little party of 3.

Darsy was healthy and weighed 8 pounds 8 ounces and was 20 1/2" long. 
Labor and delivery were fantastic, and both mom and baby are doing so well.  Emma is such a natural at motherhood.  I'm so proud of her.
We praise God so much for His grace and mercy and her safe delivery.

I don't think it's biased at all to say she may be the cutest baby ever. :-)

Feeling so blessed.

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A few hours old

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We all love this chin!

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She looks so much like her mama. So beautiful.

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The beaming new mama.

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Already the best dad!  Nick is 6'4" - it's such a precious sight to see his stately form holding her tiny body.

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My fave (yes she has baby bling already)

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Just a little excited to meet her, even if it is the middle of the night!

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And someone else was just a little smitten with his new granddaughter.

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Uncle Drew & Aunt Nay couldn't be prouder.

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The new great-grandfather-my dad.
 I sure missed my mom being there.
I am carrying on her name of Grammie. :-)

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I guess Darsy is happy to be here too!

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

New fave product!

Trader-Joes-Lavender-Salt-Scrub

As most of you know, I'm big on making my own products such as all natural soap, lotion, and make-up remover.  I've made my own sugar scrub before with coconut oil, but it didn't wow me.

Recently, I purchased this Lavender Salt Scrub from Trader Joe's as I thought the packaging was pretty and that it would be nice for guests to have in the shower.  I put it in the guest bathroom and never thought about it again.

Recently, Emma was staying with us and raved about the scrub.  She was surprised I hadn't even tried it!  She insisted I use it the next time I showered.   Sure enough, she was right - it is amazing!
It is non-abrasive and goes on so easily.  A light scrub and rinse and your skin feels so smooth and moisturized.  You don't even need to apply lotion after you shower.  It leaves a light coat of oil on your skin that is not greasy at all, which also gives a nice glow.
  And the smell is so lovely... especially if you're a lavender fan like me!  I use this every day -- can't get enough!


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The best part about loving this product was finding that the ingredients were all natural.  And the price... only $5.99 for a good size tub.  What a deal (and what a nice gift for someone!). I promptly went out and stocked up my cupboard for fear Trader Joe's would stop carrying it!!  

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The countdown begins...


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We are now down to counting DAYS until our little granddaughter makes her appearance!

It's been really fun to spend more time with Emma as she is now "retired" and just waiting for her sweet little bundle of joy to arrive.

She and Nick are so very excited and ready to welcome their precious little girl.

She is now 37 weeks and the baby weighs about 7 lb. She is measuring a little ahead of schedule, and there are some signs that she is getting close, so we are hoping she will be early (please please!).  All my babies came between 37-38 weeks (and the smallest was 8 lb 3 oz) so we're hoping there is an "early baby" gene that I passed on to her! :-) We have started taking lots of walks to try and get that VERY active little girl out! 
Praying for a safe delivery very soon...



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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

WDW - Refrigerator Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Warning:  this post contains information that you may wish you had never heard.   It makes eating fresh hot cookies dangerously easy.  If you continue to read, please realize you do so at your own risk.  You have been warned.

Hey!  You're not still here, are you?  Uh-oh...

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Have you ever just craved a warm chocolate chip cookie but didn't want to take the time/effort to make them?

Or, have you ever wished you could have fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies when you have guests over? 

Or, could you be one of "those people" who happen to like finding a bowl of cookie dough in the fridge???  (of course, I'm not.)

Well, the answer is this recipe!  You can make the dough for these cookies up to 2 weeks in advance.  All you do is scoop dough directly out of the fridge and bake for 9-11 minutes.   VOILA!  Fresh, hot cookies.  And not to mention perfect, ooey-gooey ones, too.  I was amazed at how good these turned out.  You can make one, two, or ten! Who knew you could do this?

The funny thing is, this is just the basic Toll House recipe, with an extra 1/4 cup flour added in. 

Recently, we had a family over for dinner.  After dinner, I took 2 minutes to scoop out some cookie dough.  In about 10 short minutes the house smelled amazing and I was serving fresh from the oven cookies.  They were a hit!

I'm planning to make these for a dessert bar at a baby shower next week.  Imagine the yummy aroma when my guests arrive! And wait until they see that the cookies are still warm.

And by the way, if you don't use a cookie scoop to make cookies, you are really missing out!  Uniform cookies, lickety split!  One of my favorite kitchen tools.  

Now if you'll excuse me, I think we are out of cookie dough...

Refrigerator Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. (REFRIGERATE AND REST A DAY.) Drop by rounded tablespoon (or use a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop)onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool. 




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Friday, March 13, 2015

Showers! Showers!

It's shower season!  
We kicked it off with a sweet baby shower for Emma, which was held at our home on a rainy Saturday in February.  Emma and Nick have chosen the sweetest name for their baby girl: Darsy Claire.

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Emma with all her hostesses... minus one.  Stephanie's mom, Luci was also one of the sweet ladies on board, but had to leave before we could get photos.   L to R, my sweet daughter in law Stephanie, my dear sis Suzanne, the momma to be Emma, my darling niece Amy holding her son Micah, and Rich's lovely sister, Kristen.  These hostesses sure showered my girl with lots of love!
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As you can see, we had quite a downpour, but thankfully we were all cozy inside.

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My sis and Luci provided the unbelievable food.

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My sister can seriously figure out how to 
do/make anything on the planet.
She made one of our favorite candies, honeycomb, dipped in dark chocolate.  It was SO good!  And yes, she made those adorable cake pops too.  They tasted as good as they looked.
She never ceases to amaze me!
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Oh, did I mention she can make Nutella turnovers, too? 

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There was a delicious fruit salsa and cinnamon crisps.
And everyone was sad that there were no chicken salad cream puffs leftover!

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Luci made one of Emma's favorites:  orzo pasta salad with rosemary, pine nuts, and feta.
It was so cute how they served it in little containers.  
Suzanne also made mini peach trifles in recycled baby food jars!  
So clever!  The little wooden spoons were even stamped with Darsy's initials - so sweet.


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It was so special to share the day with treasured friends.  Here is my friend Anna who I am always inspired by.
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I'm so happy I got this shot of our dear friend Meredith with Emma.  Meredith is also expecting her 1st and we will be showering her soon, too!
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Here's a special photo --Delphine, Wendy, Emma and I.  Emma was named after Delphine's mother, Emma Lee.  Wendy and I are lifelong friends and continually mistaken for each other!  
{We were sad to miss Wendy's daughter Whitney and her sister Brooke.}
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What a blessing to have two grandmas and one great-grandma present! (and we would have had TWO great-grandmas but one was sick).  Also, there were several excited aunties-to-be there too!
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One of my favorite guests was my great nephew, 9 month old Micah Raye.  I get to babysit him a couple afternoons a month and he's definitely my baby boy crush.  I love that little face!

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Amy had such sweet things planned -- diapers you could write a fun message to Emma on, an ABC book for Darsy we could all contribute to, and adorable sugar scrub favors.  Kristen and Stephanie did the amazing flowers and decorations.  I wish I had gotten more pictures of that!
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Emma was also showered a second time -- this time by the three friends she nannies for, Melinda, Vanessa, and Carly.
It was a small, intimate gathering at Bottega Louie in downtown L.A.   There were 8 of us and it was just so delightful! 

First of all, if you've never been to this restaurant... GO!
It's truly spectacular.  It's housed in an old building that I believe used to be a bank.  It has high, ornate ceilings, is painted a stark white, and is accented elegantly by white Carrara marble everywhere.  It just oozes stately charm. And the bakery and food are UNBELIEVABLE.  If you have a minute, click on the link above and take a virtual tour on their website. 

Here's what you are greeted with when you walk in the door.  

Bottega Louie is famous for their macarons.  
And their beignets are not too shabby either (top shelf).

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Whoever designed this place and did the B.L. branding was a sheer genius.   The place is pure eye candy.

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Emma with her hostesses which are so dear to her.  
And you can see they all adore her, too.
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The group:  l to r: Stephanie, Carly, Vanessa, Melinda, Kaylin, Emma, me, Suzanne

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Some girly gifts were waiting to be opened.

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The uber-talented Melinda made us all darling 
personalized bags as favors.
Mine was extra special :-)
{actually I almost cried when I saw it}

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The table setting was gorgeous thanks to Carly's lovely flower arrangements (which we all got to take home and enjoy).

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There were also precious little Bottega boxes filled with macarons at each seat.

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There was also a special bag for Darsy....

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With a cute little diaper holder inside... beyond cute!

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And even my bag contained a pouch with diapers & wipes for when I'm traveling with Darsy!

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Bottega has the BEST coffee on earth.  Seriously. 
And when they plunk down a tray of fresh, warm beignets and raspberry coulis to go with it, the world around you just fades away.

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My brunch was beautiful and scrumptious.

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Emma had their amazing quiche.  Can't you just see the deliciousness in this photo?

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And then some time later, Melinda decided we all needed 
to share a pizza!!
It was one of the best pizzas I've ever tasted, too.
Bottega has a huge brick pizza oven.

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And then a special little dessert came out for the momma to be, and we all passed it around and had a bite or two.
I don't know what it was but it was sure decadent & chocolatey!

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Me and my sweet "girls" - we are just so excited about this baby!

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Emma opened her gifts and it couldn't have been more girly fun...
First, a beautiful blanket hand crocheted by my sister!!
(I told you she can figure ANYTHING out.  This was her very first blanket and it's gorgeous.)

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baby pink moccasins!
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And Darsy's first Salt Water sandals...in gold! I die.
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I cannot fully express my gratitude for these three ladies' examples and godly influence in my daughter's life.  Though Emma was originally "hired" to help them with their families, they became dear friends and over the years became like family, really.  Each one has lavished her with love and has invested uniquely in her life.  Emma loves them and their children to the moon and back.  I know she is going to miss spending time with them but is very ready for her own momma adventure to begin. 

Lord willing, we will meet this sweet baby girl in a month!
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