Monday, June 10, 2013

Remember when I turned 26, and I wasn't GLUTEN FREE!!!

For those who know me know I LOVE MY BIRTHDAY!!!! And I have the best family and friends to spoil me on my special day, or week!

Twenty Six for some reason feels like a big milestone... Maybe because I am no longer in the 18-25 age group and I now am with the group going up to 34! 34 sounds so far away! Anyways... I always love a reason to celebrate and even more fun celebrating me.

So what did we do? We went to the farmers market with the chefs of Wine Cask, Sous Chef Nik and his helper, on their usual Tuesday produce pickup and they showed us the best vendors and share a few secrets and picked out a few of my favorite items for them to cook for us later that night.  Very prepared before we started I thought of all my favorite foods ready for when they asked.  Well they actually had a the 3 courses already planned, but they said they would do something special because it was my birthday.  So I told them I really like Spinach, Bacon, Butternut Squash, and Scallops.  We picked up a butternut squash and fresh spinach with the roots or stems still on them which gave them extra flavor (and I am guessing nutrition too?).  

After walking with the chefs we picked up some good treats and flowers.  Now I know why we don't shop there weekly, we buy everything!

A few hours later, we went to the wine cask to have our meal at the Chef's Counter.  Here are the dishes, including my special birthday dish: a scallop on top of sweet potato and pancetta hash with a spinach sauce. 

Danielle planned a celebration for me and my almost twin Eli at Bridlewood Estate Winery. She is so fancy with her cheese plates. 

Andrew made brownies and they were freaking delicious.  Thanks Ina for your... 

 Helper Scott! 

Cheers to 26, it has treated me well so far... and I am almost 26 1/2 now that I am writing this!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Gluten Free... The way it has to be!

Early February I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease after years of tummy issues, and I am happy to say I feel soooo much better.  My 'issues' were something I just started to think were normal and it was how it would be for the rest of my life... Thank Goodness it isn't, well only if I say good bye to GLUTEN!

So all my experimenting with Paleo was very helpful, but I was always off-roading on the diet.  So my body never had the chance to heal.  On Paleo I wasn't aware of cross-contamination, which means gluten could be getting in without me even knowing.  I have read blog after blog, forum after forum, and slowly becoming more and more comfortable making decisions at the store and out at restaurants.  I have told myself, I may be gluten-free, but I will never give up my love for food.

My Extraordinary Adventure of Taste has taken a turn... I don't expect to for my food to be any less than extraordinary, it will just be gluten free... the way it has to be!

Two weekends ago Andrew and I celebrated 4 years! I know time flies... I was a little worried my new way of eating was going to ruin our celebration, so I did everything I could to make it seem like nothing changed.  We had dinner at our favorite restaurant, Olio Pizzeria. I was a little nervous being so picky and having special orders, but our waitress was so nice and always made sure everything was safe. 

We drank our special bottle of 2010 Pinot Noir from Tyler.

Enjoyed gluten free parma pizza!

And for dessert... butterscotch pudding.

Cheers to 4 years!!! Love you Andrew

Friday, January 25, 2013

Whoa... I am back!

Ok... you can all understand I really did need that relaxing, productive, weekend to myself because it has been crazy!!!

Well I am back and have so much to share!

Let's think about what has happened the last month an a half? Umm The Cookie Party, then a Christmas Party, and another Christmas party, and then another, and then Christmas, New Years, my New Year resolution, MY BIRTHDAY, my birthday party, and then tax season has already started!

But I am going to start out small and share what we had for dinner last night!

On my birthday Andrew and I had a great adventure to the farmers market, with the chefs, which I will share more in a later post, but we discovered Mama's Preserves Jalapeno Jelly's.  It was one of those tasting samples that you try on little taste and you have to have more.  Yep, we bought a whole jar of it and I was determined to integrate it into one of our dinners.

Andrew instructed me this was going to be a simple dinner all we needed was steak, cream cheese and of course the jelly.

And it really was easy: 
1. Salt and pepper the small filets

2. Then in a cast iron pan heat up olive oil
3. Cook the for 4 minutes on each side, before you flip spoon some jelly on the top of the steak at 2 minutes spread cream cheese on top and then top with the jelly. It will melt very nicely. 

 4. And you can't forget the pancetta and brussel sprouts. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Relaxing...Productive...Weekend? What is that???

The Holidays are here and there is something happening every weekend, almost every weekday, plus work, plus the everyday stuff, and it was beginning to be to much.  I needed a relaxing weekend to GET STUFF DONE and that is what I did.

I had the house to myself.  So it was pretty quiet, the TV was off most of the time, except for when I was watching Pretty Woman.

I achieved so much and now I can say I feel ready to take on all of our festivities.

Here are all of the items I checked off my To-Do List:

1. Went through my childhood boxes, consolidated 3 big tubs into one small shoe box of the best pictures. 

2. Dropped clothes, books, and toys off at the Good Will. 

3. Cleaned out my closet and rearranged my clothes in my drawer like they did here.

4. Made Home-Made Sausage and breakfast casserole for the week.

5. Ate Trade Joe's Joe-Joes and watched Pretty Woman.

6. Made Spaghetti Squash and Tomato sauce for the week. 

7. Cleaned my stove.  I placed the burners in ammonia.   I tried the all natural salt, vinegar, and baking soda for the stove top, but that didn't seem to work great, so I used 409 after.  It still isn't as clean as I would like on my main burner, but I will try again soon.  I need more vinegar and baking soda.

Ta da...

8. Cleaned my bath tub with Borax.  (The marks on the bottom are from a previous tenant and won't budge, any ideas?)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

African Night

Meet our African friend, Jack.  He likes elephants.  He spent a lot of his life in South Africa while his parents were working at an international school.  Now living in California, right down the street from us, he hasn't been able to enjoy some of his favorite African meals.  It was his night to cook and with the help of a small South African shop down in Orange County he was able to recreate an African meal for the rest of us.  

Our African meal consisted of Mieliepap, Sheba, Boerwors, and Kebabs.  

The mieliepap is a corn meal dish that is very similar to polenta, but a bit thicker and was topped with Sheba, an onion, tomato, and garlic sauce.  I think this was my favorite part of the meal.  The Boerwors is a very lean beef sausage with lots of spices and flavor.  It is a bit strange because the flavor doesn't come from the fat like most sausage I know topped with sautéed mushrooms.  And finally a kebab with chicken, peppers, and pineapple.  With the African music on in the background we enjoyed this great meal with out silverware, Jack said that is had the locals eat it.  

I hope we can make mieliepap and sheba more often, not just African Nights.  They were sooo good!  

Another great photo by Jack. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Happy 16th Birthday Lauren: Apples, Apple Butters, Apple Pies and... Sushi?

First off, my little sister is SIXTEEN!!!! 

Crazy, I am 10 years older than her so that means I am almost 26... does that mean I am soon to be in my late 20s... OH NO! 

Anyways I can't believe she is now old enough to drive! I am so impressed with the young lady she has grown to be, but she will always be little Lo Lo to me. 

When asked what she wanted to do for her birthday she said, go midnight black friday shopping, then join us up to apple hill, and then sushi for dinner! And we did exactly that. 

No pictures from shopping, thank God. 

But after we "napped" we headed up to Apple Hill for some delicious treats, great scenery, and a brief visit with some Santa Barbara friends. 


Who wouldn't want a pie that is completely surrounded by crispy, flaky, buttery crust? And free ice cream, we scored!

After we ate dessert for lunch we headed home for a bit to relax before we went to Mikuni for dinner. 

This has been my favorite sushi restaurant since I was about 16! And I couldn't pass up getting a picture with my little brother and my favorite dishes, Citrus Blossom and the Incredible Roll.  

So long for now Sacramento, watch out Lauren Craig is on the road! 
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