Friday, July 25, 2008

Wedding photos

In my last post I mentioned a fabulous wedding that Keith and I attended. Check out the groom's sister's blog for awesome pictures:

Also on her site, take a listen to the song "True Companion--Bruce Schuman" on the playlist. It's a Marc Cohn song, but Bruce (the groom) sang and recorded it for his bride Cody and surprised her with it after their first romantic! Made me all teary-eyed! :-)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Date Night

On Saturday night my hubby and I actually had a date night! What a rare occasion! Our friends Jason and Cheryl (along with their 6 month old cutie-pie daughter Lucy) watched Maddie so that we could go to the wedding of our dear friend Cody Anne Martin. She's a chaplain at OHSU/Doernbecher Children's Hospital and is such a spunky, sweet soul. It was a huge affair and definitely the most glamorous wedding I've ever been to, especially the reception in a grand ballroom at the Governor Hotel downtown, which is a show-stopper all on its own. Waiters in tuxedos brought around appetizers on silver platters, stunning 5-foot-tall flower arrangements on the tables , a live jazz band, and a Rolls Royce waiting for the bride and groom. What a wonderful night out! :-)

Caught Red Handed

Last night as Keith and I were finishing our dinner, Maddie was walking around the kitchen and playing under the table. As I'm in the middle of taking a drink of iced tea, I felt some wet and slimy fingers wipe across my leg. Perplexed, I peek under the table and proceed to CHOKE on my drink of tea. All I can do is walk around, hunched over and coughing through my laughter, while pointing to this sight. I'll just let you check it out for yourself.

Seems SOMEONE got into Daddy's chocolate stash! :-)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Utah...It's not just for Mormons anymore! :-)

Some might wonder, "Utah...really? What do they have there besides Mormons?" when we say we went there for our vacation. Well, yes, the Mormons do rule all in Utah and they bring with them a slew of strange rules, especially when it comes to things like alcohol (oh, the horrors of a glass of wine!)...but that's for another post, I guess.

My mom and dad (aka--Nana and Papa), my sister Dana and brother-in-law Travis from London, and my Uncle Steve and Aunt Janie from Montana met us up at my parents' condo at Snowbird Resort last week. The ski resort is at the top of the Wasatch Mountains, just one canyon over from Park City, which is where the last Winter Olympics were held. The resort is beautiful and has two pools, a hot tub on each condo's deck, an Alpine Slide, a Zip Line, bungee trampolines, a chair lift and a tram to enjoy. Each day we did a little something, like going to the Farmer's Market in Salt Lake City, exploring the town of Park City, going on a mountain hike, or riding the Alpine Slide. But most of the time was spent laughing and hanging out with the family, eating, going to the pool, eating, reading, entertaining Maddie...oh, did I mention eating? I gave up on all my healthy rules this vacation and indulged--and now I think my waistband is paying the price. Oh well, it's VACATION! :-)

This is one of my favorite photos from the trip. We were setting up our cameras to do a timed shot on our last night, but Maddie quickly figured out how to press the button and started snapping shots of us like crazy. Nothing like a curious toddler to create pure joy and laughter!

Here's the "real" shot. (Me, Dana, Travis, Mom, Maddie, Dad and Keith)

A girl's gotta look her best when she has a big day ahead. Curlers are a must. Dana's jewelry collection came next. :-)

One of the days we split off into two groups after we drove up into a canyon. My mom and I took Maddie to an easy 1-mile trail around a lake (also known as "the easy out" from a killer hike!) where we watched ducks, collected rocks in our pockets and them threw them in the lake, and watched in amazement as a huge moose ate nearby. The rest of the group, including my Uncle Steve and Aunt Janie, hiked to the top of the mountain and over the top of the pass to our ski resort, which was about 6-6.5 miles of steepness! Half of the trail was still covered with snow.

My sister Dana with her favorite (and only) niece.

I love that this photo captures the love between Maddie and her Papa!

Maddie's absolute favorite thing was watching the tram go up the mountain, just outside our deck. Every single time she saw it (every 30 minutes, all day long) she'd literally *squeal* with delight! :-)

Riding on the tram.

To get to the top of the Alpine Slide hill, which is right next to the condos, you had to take a short chair lift ride. The first time that Keith took Maddie, he hadn't figured out how to put the bar down in front, so he was clutching her for dear life. :-)

Keith was the only one of us brave enough to give the mechanical bull a run for its money. He did awesome and stayed on for 10+ seconds! Way to go, honey!

Racing down the Alpine Slide, side-by-side with Papa. Maddie kept saying, "Faster, faster! More!" and got pretty fearless by the end.

What a wonderful vacation--too short, as always! We miss you already everybody! :-)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Outrageous Brownies

Ina Garten, better known in the food world as Barefoot Contessa, is one of my favorite chefs. I own almost all of her cookbooks and, aside from maybe 1 out of every 80 recipes, every single recipe is fantastic! Her recipes are definitely not "light", but they are worth the indulgence. These brownies are no exception--they are sinful, but the best I've ever had! They are especially good right out of the fridge and freeze really nicely. If you have a weakness for chocolate, you may want to plan to take these to a potluck or other event, just to get them out of the house--I seriously have NO willpower to resist them!

For all my Bible Study girls who enjoyed these at our Girls' Night Out, these are for you! :-)

Outrageous Brownies (The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten)

1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons instant espresso coffee powder
2 tablespoons real vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided (1 cup for batter and 1/4 cup in the chips and nuts)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups diced walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan (cookie sheet with sides, like a jelly roll pan.)

Melt together the butter, 1 pound chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. Cool slightly. Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.

Stir together 1 cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips with 1/4 cup flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Do not over-bake! Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well and cut into squares.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Yummy Food

When I was talking with my friend Alli the other day, she suggested a new idea for my blog...favorite recipes! This seems like a no-brainer to me, since I love to try new recipes and share them with friends. This week in Utah we've been cooking most of our meals in our condo and I've been elected the "dinner chef" for our group of 6-8 people. Before the trip I bought a new magazine called Clean Eating (, which focuses on healthy recipes that limit sugar and other processed foods. This idea may be harder to pull off in the winter (when I crave comfort foods), but it's easy in the summer when fresh veggies and fruits are a-plenty! I made this recipe the other night to great reviews.

BBQ Shrimp and Sugar Snap Pea Noodle Salad
Serves 4

1 lb. uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder (I didn't have this, so I used a seafood rub)
1 tsp. olive oil
8 oz sugr snap peas
1 cup baby carrots, julienned
6 oz soba noodles, about 1.5-inch thick bundle (in the Asian aisle, made from buckwheat flour--or substitute whole wheat spaghetti)
1/2 English cucumber, cut in half, seeded and sliced in 1/4-inch rounds
1/4 cup EACH: shredded cilantro and basil
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, julienned

1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 minced garlic clove
3 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. honey (or 1/2 packet of sweetener)
1/8-1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

Preheat grill to medium-high. Toss shrimp with five-spice powder and olive oil. Thread onto skewers. Let marinate while preparing salad. (I didn't have a grill, so I just sauteed them in a pan for 1-2 min. per side.)

Boil sugar snap peas until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes, then drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Boil soba noodles until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. Place in a large bowl with sugar snap peas, carrots, cucumber, basil, cilantro and julienne ginger.

For the dressing, place the grated ginger in a small sieve set over a bowl. Using the back of a spoon, firmly press ginger to release juice. Discard grated ginger. Stir in garlic, soy sauce, oil, honey, red pepper flakes and lime juice. Pour over the noodle mixture and toss evenly.

Grill (or saute) the shrimp for 2 minutes per side. Cool slightly and toss with the noodle mixture. Serve salad with lime wedges for garnish.

Nutrition per serving (1/4 of total salad mixture):
253 calories, 7 grams fat, 20 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 28 g protein