On The Coast

My husband and I had the best weekend celebrating our 2 year wedding anniversary on the Northern California Coast near Jenner, CA a few weekends ago. We stayed at a cute little hotel, called the Timber Cove Inn and had an amazing ocean view. We went hiking, wine tasting, listened to live music, ate a few delicious meals, and even roasted marshmallows for breakfast one morning. I loved this little mini vacation and I would go back any time!

The weather was perfect with no fog in sight until the day we left. This was just what we needed- a nice, relaxing weekend to be outdoors and have fun together.

 View from our room

S’mores for breakfast

If you go to Jenner, make sure you stop at Cafe Aquatica. It’s delicious! This was one of 4 different meals we tried there (we ate there for lunch two days in a row). Hummus sandwich may not sound all that great, but trust me, it was delish! And check out that view.

Pumpkin Spice Fig Muffin. O.M.G.

We found a wonderful place to wine taste- Fort Ross Winery. The tasting room was brand new, the view was spectacular and the people were wonderful. We would definitely go back!

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A Beautiful Day in Napa

Northern California has some of the most beautiful travel destinations in the world. We are so lucky to live so close to so many beautiful places. A few weeks ago our friends took us to Napa to barrel taste their wine. They started a wine company, MSix Wine Group and are in the early stages of creating delicious wines. We drove to Napa for the day, toured the amazing wine cave where they are storing their wine, enjoyed salami and crackers while sharing a bottle of wine with a beautiful view, and then took a tour through the vineyards to see their wine grapes. It was a beautiful day in wine country and I was happy to capture some of the beauty with my photos.  

Our gorgeous view for the afternoon

Our expert tour guide for the day :)

Straight from the barrel!

Chardonnay grapes

BFFs

Spicy Thai Basil Stirfry

So like I said in my last blog post, this week is detox week at Kaia and I am trying my best to stick to the plan and eat lean and green. I already had organic ground turkey in the refrigerator so I started looking for healthy meals to make. Usually I would make turkey tacos, spaghetti with meat sauce or meatballs, but since carbohydrates are on the don’t-even-think-about-it-list during detox I knew I needed to try something different that didn’t include tortillas or pasta.I started to search for Thai recipes and every one included a good amount of brown sugar, which is also not allowed on detox. So, I followed their lead to get an idea and then came up with something on my own. The result… a delicious, spicy, tangy, rich Thai basil stir-fry  that I wanted to eat all in one sitting. I will definitely be making this again (and again and again and again…).

What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb. lean (organic) ground turkey
  • 2 Japanese eggplants, cubed
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • 2-8 Thai chili peppers, sliced (depending on spicy preference)
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • Large handful fresh basil leaves

Sauce: (measurements are approximate. I added little amounts until I found the taste/spicy-ness I liked)

  • 1 tbsp. hoisin sauce
  • 3 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp-1tbsp. chili paste (depending on preferred spice-level)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch

What you’ll do:

Cut eggplant in half and weep for about 15 minutes (cover in sea salt to remove excess moisture). Start the ground turkey and cook on low-medium until done. While the turkey is cooking saute red onions, Thai chili peppers and eggplant in olive oil until eggplant gets soft. Add broth for moisture if needed. Add in bell peppers and cook until soft (3-5 minutes). Mix soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl until blended. Mix in the remainder of the sauce ingredients and pour over vegetable mixture. Add green onions and basil. Cook on medium for about 5 minutes until the sauce thickens. Combine the veggie mixture with the ground turkey. Serve with green onions and basil to garnish. Enjoy!

This is now my favorite ground turkey recipe. What are your favorite ways to cook ground turkey besides tacos?

Bridal Shower Bubbles and More

Okay..this is me attempting not to cry as I write this post. It’s not going to work, but I’ll attempt.

So I have this friend Kira, who has been in my life since I was 5 years old….. And she’s alright….

And by ‘alright’ I mean she’s the best friend anyone could ever ask for in their entire life. If you are lucky enough to have a Kira in your lifetime you should grab on and not let go (does that sound like I’m a crazy person?) Well, without going into all the things I plan to say for my maid of honor speech at her wedding, I can tell you that in the last week or so I have teared up or full on cried while planning her bridal shower (basically, I’m going to be a crying mess at her wedding). I have been thinking about how great she is and how happy I am that she found this amazing guy to marry, with this amazing family who loves her as if she’s their own. Seeing all the friends and family (especially her mom and grandmother) who came together to celebrate her happiness seriously warmed my heart. Our amazing friend Katie drove from 4 hours away just to be a part of the weekend and it couldn’t have been better. There’s not much that makes me happier than the three of us together, just like when we were inseparable in junior high and high school.

Kira and I have known each other for over 20 years and as each year comes, our friendship grows stronger. In the past we’ve lived in different cities and at some points even different countries, but we’ve always remained close. I know that no matter what happens, where we live, or what we’re doing in our lives, we will be friends until we’re little old ladies. I have so much more to say, but it will have to wait until the wedding speeches. I cannot wait for October 6th and I couldn’t be happier for her and Jordan.

Here are a few of the details from the bridal shower that I planned with Kira’s awesome soon to be mother in law. It was a lovely day! Click on the images to get a closer look at the details!

The favors were miniature mason jars with straws that we wrapped in cellophane and added little stamped thank yous to each one. Kira’s future MIL made three different kinds of homemade cookies for each person to take homeRibbon garland I madeFavor Table/Entry TableMy favorite part of the shower…the mimosa or “bubbly bar” I made tiny little flags for people to write their names on so they wouldn’t lose their mimosaI wanted a Bubbly Bar sign. I made one, and it was ugly. So I had this one custom-made on Etsy. I will be using this again. I used Diamond wine stoppers to keep the champagne closed I ordered this custom flower garland from Etsy as well. Bridal Bingo during the gift opening to keep people interestedThe Donut Bar! Diamond Donuts (Diamonds from Etsy)This was a custom hanger from Etsy with the wedding date.Gift table

Kira opening my giftThe card read “Pull the string and see what you’ll find, maybe something cute for your little behind” When she pulled the string TONS of underwear came out all tied together..And it kept coming out…. And kept coming….…..…..It ended with a cute blue pair from Victoria’s Secret that said “Tied the Knot” on the butt. I thought it was fitting since she’s getting married AND I tied about 100 knots for these undies! I think she liked it :)Next up…Las Vegas for the Bachelorette Party

Color Run Round Two!

I did it again! I had such a great time at the Orange County Color Run in April that I jumped at the opportunity to participate in it again when it came to my town. This time we had over 70 Kaia girls there in matching hot pink tutus. Like I said the last time, if you haven’t participated in one of these runs, you need to! It was definitely the most fun 5k I have ever run!

The Best Meal I’ve Ever Made

This eggplant parmesan was quite possibly one of the best meals I’ve ever made. It was a few more steps and a few more ingredients than I usually like to cook with (I like fast and easy recipes), but it was so worth it. I have only had eggplant parmesan maybe twice in my life because I can no longer eat dairy. I learned how to make it when I was living in Italy and it was delicious, but so loaded with cheese that I’ve never tried to re-create it at home. For some reason unknown to me, goat cheese has no impact on how I’m feeling, so I decided to look for a recipe that called for goat cheese and no other dairy products. I found one recipe that was eggplant, red sauce, goat cheese, and parmesan and I tweaked it a little to make this delicious meal.

What you’ll need:

  •  1 large purple eggplant
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt to weep eggplant slices
  • 1-2 cups flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil for frying
  • 1 jar tomato basil spaghetti sauce (I used an organic brand with few ingredients)
  • 1 small block of goat cheese broken into pieces (crumbled would work too)
  • 1-2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 red onion
  • 4-5 fresh tomatoes, sliced
  • fresh basil leaves

What you’ll do:

  1. Peel skin off eggplant, and slice length-wise so you have thin slices for layering (like lasagna).
  2. Cover the slices with sea salt to remove moisture. Let sit 10-15 minutes and drain water.
  3. Combine the sea salt and flour and blend together with a fork.
  4. Pat dry the eggplant slices with a paper towel.
  5. Warm oil in a large frying pan.
  6. Dip the eggplant in the egg and then in the flour/salt mixture, and place in pan.
  7. Fry on each side until they start to brown (few minutes), and then lay on paper towel.
  8. Saute onions, mushrooms, spinach, and basil in a frying pan and set aside.
  9. In a baking dish, place a layer of tomato sauce, then a layer of eggplant slices, then the sliced tomatoes, spinach mixture, and a few pieces of goat cheese. Repeat this process until you’ve used up all the eggplant.Top with sauce, spinach mixture, sliced tomatoes, lots of fresh basil and goat cheese chunks (or crumbles).
  10. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 10 minutes.
  11. Cool and cut. Enjoy!What’s the best meal you’ve ever made?

Grilled Citrus Skewers

These were so delicious, and like most of my recipes, SO easy! Although I took the photos, and ate the skewers, I can’t take credit for actually making them. Mom did all the work, but I’ll definitely be making them myself sometime soon. Marinate the shrimp in olive oil, lemon, garlic, fresh basil and salt and pepper for as long as possible in the fridge. Place on skewers with lemon slices, grill a few minutes on each side and enjoy!

For the chicken and pineapple skewers we marinated the chicken in teriyaki sauce, salt, pepper, lemon, garlic, and fresh basil. We arranged them on skewers with shallots and pineapple and placed on the grill. Delish!

Photo of The Week, Pretty Onions

Who knew onions could be pretty? Yes, this beautiful white ‘flower’ is an onion that sat in the ground too long. We have a few of them that I just can’t get myself to pull because they look so pretty in the garden.

Agapanthus in Bloom

 

Eppie’s Great Race

This weekend was the Eppie’s Great Race in Sacramento on the American River. I didn’t participate, but a few of my friends did so I thought I’d go cheer them on. The race took place right down the street from where my parent’s house is, so my husband and I parked and jogged over because we were running a little late. Turns out we JUST missed the finish, but I was able to snap a few colorful photos. This race looked so fun, I just may have to participate next year! The lone ranger..Kermit was hanging out too.Finish line.A few stragglers. One woman tipped her kayak right here and it looked SO hard to get back in!My two friends and Kaia girls who kicked some serious Eppie’s ass.