Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Random Mondays!

Today's Random Monday emoticon:

Item in question:
Something in the hubby's brain the other night made him spontaneously want to learn to speak Chinese all of the sudden. Or maybe my griping about how he never has the desire to learn my native tongue, but I can somewhat hold my own when speaking Khmer. That's besides the point. Plus, he's the one that approached me about learning Chinese.

Moving on. He also recently jumped off the Blackberry bandwagon and hopped onto the iPhone bandwagon. Mostly because the iPhone has more apps (read: games. Boys!). So we browsed the App store to see what (free) apps were available in regards to learning Chinese. We found a couple, but this one totally baffled me. This app offered two courses: Essentials and Flirting. Essentials were the basic "Hello", "Goodbye", "I'm sorry", etc. Flirting on the other hand. Oh. my. word. For some, maybe this repulsive  forwardness approach is their way of flirting, but as a girl, if some guy came up to me and said these lines, I'd run far, far, far away. Then again, I also couldn't help my literally laugh my ass off as I was scrolling down the page. Oops!

Have you ever encountered interesting phrases or approaches to learning a different language?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Easy, Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas

The hubby and I love Tex Mex! The hubs has it for lunch at least twice a week. Enough said. There's just something about the gooeyness of the cheese, the tender meat, fresh tortillas, and don't you dare forget about chips and salsa! Anyone else have trouble refraining themselves from consuming an entire basket (or two) of chips by themselves?? No? Good. Me neither! Right... Darn you Chuy's for your awesome Happy Hour of unlimited queso with ground beef and your drool worthy creamy jalapeƱo ranch dressing!

In my recent attempts of eating healthier and my undying craving for unhealthy foods, this recipe didn't make me feel too guilty with each bite I took. Plus, it was super duper easy to make and even the hubs loved it! He's pro-full fatty foods all the way and refuses to consume anything I make that has a slight healthy spin on it. Needless to say, I had to make sure the hubby stayed out of the kitchen while I prepped this meal so he didn't see the ingredients. However, I did reveal them after he consumed 5 enchiladas. I think I might have persuaded him to try healthier versions of food. Might have.

Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas
Adapted from Annie's Eats

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (use more if you want more meat or substitute it for other types of meat!)
8 oz. Greek Yogurt (I used 0% Fage Greek Yogurt)
8 oz. Light Ranch salad dressing
tortillas (I used low carb whole wheat)
jar of salsa
shredded Mexican cheese

Simple enough right? I was super excited to learn that Greek yogurt is an excellent substitute for sour cream! I have this stuff stashed in my fridge 24/7 yo! Any way, let's cook!

1. Cook chicken breasts by preferred cooking method until cooked through. Set aside to cool a bit.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine half of the Greek yogurt and half of the Ranch dressing. In a smaller bowl, combine the rest of the yogurt and Ranch dressing. Stir both until well combined. Shred or chop the cooked chicken and add to the large mixing bowl. Mix well with sauce.

3. Preheat the oven to 375°. Spray a 9 x 13″ pan with cooking oil. Take one tortilla and top with a little less than 1 tbsp. of the sauce from the small bowl. Spread over the tortilla in an even layer. Add some of the chicken mixture to the center of the tortilla. Top with salsa to taste. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, to taste. Roll up tortilla and place, seam side down, in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining ingredients. This does get a lil messy so I suggest doing this on a plate or cutting board for ease of clean up later on.

4. Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes (30 for a crispier tortilla). I baked it for 27 minutes. Allow to cool a few minutes before serving.

Look at all the gooeyness flowing out!! nom nom nom

That's it!! This was soooooo good y'all. I made it for dinner last week, and the hubby has already requested it for dinner again. Healthy rendition and all!

What's your favorite Tex Mex food and why??

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cross Country Party: Frozen Yogurt

Serena at Big Apple Nosh just started hosting a monthly cross country party last weekend which I was super excited to participate in. Why? Because who doesn't love a party? Involving food! Plus, I love Serena's blog and all the yummy recipes she posts because she's one heck of a chef! Really. Go check out all the competitions she's been in and her creations.

So how does this party work? Each month, she's posts a buzzword. Then, you head out to your favorite buzzword place, order/make the buzzword to your liking, take a picture of it, and devour consume it! This month's buzzword - Frozen Yogurt! Yum!!

You really don't need a reason to go out and have frozen yogurt, but with the warmer weather breathing on our necks and an invite to the party, you don't have to tell me twice! While my favorite place to get fro yo is Pinkberry, the place is a bit of a drive from the shop so we just hit up my favorite local fro yo joint, SpoonFull.
Yogurt flavors: half plain tart and half pomegranate raspberry
Toppings: blueberries, strawberries, bananas, and slivered almonds

To see all the party goers and their creation, head on over to the party (and check out all things awesome at Serena's place). Apparently, I need to hit up Red Mango soon and get me some mango bubbles! Be sure to catch next month's buzzword so you can be cool and party with the rest of us.

What's your favorite fro yo place and yogurt/topping combo?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Random Mondays!

Today's Random Monday emoticon:

The thing about grocery shopping at Asian supermarkets is the variety of other lil shops attached to it like an Asian fast food joint, herbal store, frozen yogurt, Asian bakeries, etc. While grocery shopping at H Mart a few weeks back, one of the aforementioned lil shop had this beauty to offer. For rent.
Oh my. For only $19.99 a month! Hurry
and get yours NOW!

Would you rent this?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Headline News

Quick lil update since I have a conference to go to today, but two exciting news (for me at least!) happened yesterday. Firstly and most importantly, our wedding was featured on Weddingbee yesterday as the Bio of the Week!!

If y'all are planning a wedding, Weddingbee is definitely the place to go for inspiration, ideas, or just to chit chat with other brides-to-be! The hive has tons to offer and the creativity juice is overflowing like crazy so head on over there and check them out (and my bio if you'd like).

And secondly, IN-N-OUT Burger officially opened in Texas and you can bet the wait for the much hyped about burger joint was absolutely re.donk. Like an hour and a half wait just for the drive-thru (it was more of drive-and-wait) and about 3+ hours for the dine in. Here's evidence of such craziness.

Oh, and just so you have the full picture, the weather was this yesterday (heavy rain and thunderstorms):

Where do you go for wedding inspiration and are you a fan of IN-N-OUT?

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe

For some reason, picking out bridesmaids dresses was a thousand times more stressful then picking out my own wedding gown. I'm sure part of it had to do with the color of our wedding (clover) and partially with the fact I wanted the girls to like what they were wearing.

Initially, I told my girls to send me over some ideas of dresses they liked and we'd start narrowing them down that way. I was secretly hoping they wanted cocktail length dresses, but the first unanimous opinion the girls expressed was long dresses and something that hides their pooch. Darn on the cocktail length, but the pooch?? Really girls? They were all petite girls and I couldn't see a darn pooch on them anywhere! Anyway, emails started slowly trickling in with suggestions.

Left to Right, Top to Bottom:

My MOH would be in town a few weeks later and offered to go try them on with me to help narrow down the choices and relieve my stress of picking out a dress for the girls. After trying on several dresses, my MOH narrowed the choices down to two dresses. I immediately emailed my other two girls to go to their nearest Alfred Angelo store, try them on, and decide which one they liked better. From there, majority rules. Simple enough, right? Right! The votes were casted and one dress came out victorious! The dress had a corset back and a ruched bodice, similar to my wedding dress!
Alfred Angelo's 7006

With the decision made and deposit paid. Bridesmaid dress dilemma was over. Phew! Finally!! Or so I thought...

How did your bridesmaid dress scavenger hunt go?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Saying Yes to A Dress

Boy, oh boy, oh boy. The wedding dress. THE wedding dress. Most girls have had their wedding planned out since the sweet age of 2 and have dreamt about what kind of dress they wanted to dance the night away in with their Prince Charming. Me? Does starting to look at dresses a month into planning count?

After looking through a Brides and D Weddings magazines, I bookmarked some dresses I liked and called to schedule my first appointment at Stardust Celebrations. With my family and bridal party all out of state, I knew this wouldn't be the first wedding task to tackle on my own. Honestly, I was okay with it. I didn't wanna induce additional stress on anyone. Plus, since I had absolutely no idea what I wanted, I doubt they wanted to spend hours watching me try on dresses just for kicks and giggles.

After hitting up 5 bridal salons, I started getting frustrated and disappointed. I couldn't find one potential dress and the consultants weren't always pleasant to deal with (one store left me on my own once they put all the gowns in the dressing room. Have you ever tried lacing up a corset dress or pinning it all in yourself? It's rather difficult). I would like the neckline of one, but dislike everything else. Like the bodice on another, but nothing else, so forth and so forth. The thing I did know was I was starting to get a collective idea of what type of dress I did want - rouched bodice, sweetheart top, empire waist, and slim A-line with pick-ups.

While I knew what type of dress I was looking for, I was also curious of trumpet gowns and decided to try one on for the heck of it. While I really liked it, neither my mother nor my FMIL approved. Moving on.
David's Bridal - Oleg Cassini CRL 277

One day while waiting to checkout at Wal-Mart, I was flipping through a bridal magazine (don't recall which one) and noticed some dresses displaying multiple characteristics of things I did like in a dress - rouched bodice, sweetheart necklines. Okay. Okay. I think we're onto something here! After looking for the tiny print mentioning who the designer was, I went home and googled Demetrios and the Sensualle Collection.

There was a store in the next town over and then fiance stated since it was still early in the evening, I should head over and check them out. The store was empty, but the consultant was super friendly and asked what type of dress I had in mind. I told her what characteristics I had in mind and she said she had just the dress for me, but told me to browse the various collections and pull out a few I'd like to try on.

We saved the one she picked for last. While I didn't fall in love with it, the consultant kept ooo-ing and ahh-ing all over it (this was a first!). Plus, I could see potential in it.
Demetrios Sensualle GR169

Not completely sold, I told the consultant I would return with my mother in a few weeks to decide. It also happened to be the weekend of a trunk show! Yay for 20% off everything I purchased that day.

Ultimately, my mother liked it and I was tired of searching for THE dress so I said "Yes to A Dress" and called it a day. I also purchased my elbow length veil that day for $50. What's up with a piece of tulle costing so darn much?! Will the dress grow on me? Guess we'll just have to wait and see!

Anybody else not have a "OMG! Waterworks-thisisTHEdress" experience or is the tomboy in me just too dominating?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Chicken Improv

You're probably tired of all the chicken recipes I've been posting lately (sorry! I'm on a cleanse. More on that later on), but at least I'm alternating them with other types of meat right?? For the first time ever, I took a running recipe and made my own ingredient substitutions and guess what? I really, really liked the flavor! I'm not going to lie, I patted myself on the back afterwards because I was so darn proud of myself. Ha! The original recipe made 4 servings, but I used half the amount of chicken while keeping everything else constant. Why? Because I usually only have 2 servings worth of chicken defrosted at a time. Plus, who doesn't like a lil extra sauce!

Okay, I'll quit jibber jabbering and show you what I made!

Basil, Chili, and Garlic Chicken
Recipe adapted from Rachel Ray

2 tbs fish sauce
2 tbs soy sauce
4 tsp sugar
1 tsp crushed red chili pepper (feel free to add more if you really want a kick)
1/2 pound thin Asian rice noodles or vermicelli pasta (or rice)
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
1 cup finely chopped shallots
1 (green) bell pepper, diced
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup torn fresh basil leaves (I used 1/16 cup of McCormick's dried basil leaves)
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp ground pepper
cooking spray

Gathered all the ingredients and have everything all diced and chopped up? Awesome! Let's get the cooking party started!

1. In a bowl, season chicken bites with salt and pepper; set aside. In a separate small bowl, combine the fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, and crushed red pepper. Stir to dissolve the sugar and cornstarch; set aside.

2. Cook your pasta/vermicelli/rice according to directions.

3. Meanwhile, thinly coat a large, deep skillet with cooking spray (or 2 tbs of vegetable oil) and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Toss in onions, shallots, bell peppers, and garlic. Stir-fry until fragrant and softened but not browned. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside.

4. Coat skillet with another thin layer of cooking spray and heat for about 30 seconds. Spread the chicken in a single layer in the pan without crowding and cook, undisturbed, until the edges change color. Turn and continue cooking, occasionally tossing, until lightly browned all over. Give the reserved sauce a quick lil stir then add it and the onion mixture to the skillet. Cook while tossing until the chicken is cooked through and evenly coated. Remove the pan from the heat and add the basil, tossing until evenly coated (if you're using fresh basil, toss until slightly wilted). Serve the chicken over cooked noodles/vermicelli/rice.
Ta da!

I think the shallots really added a lil something extra to the dish. Feel free to add additional vegetables also to make it even more flavorful/healthy. If you don't like it to be too saucy, you can easily half the sauces. The sauce was also slightly thick so thin it out a bit with 1/4 cup of water. Otherwise, easy, peasy, yummy chicken dinner for the win, once again!

Are you tired of my chicken recipes yet? If so, substitute the chicken with pork, beef, shrimp, or any meat of your choice! How's that for changing it up? Ha!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Random Mondays!

Today's Random Monday emoticon:

When the train ride home is packed to the gills with people

Please be courteous to others and share handrails so we don't play human pinball nor embarrass ourselves when we accidentally graze/touch other commuters inappropriately.
Don't be this guy!

If you're a commuter, what do you find most annoying?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Busting out the grill

The weather in Texas has been a comfortable lower 90's / upper 80's the past week and I'm totally loving it (minus the ridiculous 40 mph wind we've been getting the past two months)!  Yay to shorts and sandals and boo to burning my ba-donka-donk on leather seats in the car. Warmer weather also means it's time to bust out the good ole grill!! There's something a grill does that adds a lil extra oomph to flavors. Perhaps it's the smokiness? Whatever it is - I like it. Plus, what's not to like about a simple dinner that requires a quick seasoning/marinating of the meat the night before and tossing it on the grill for a few minutes the next day? We're all about simple, quick, and delicious meals at this household!

Last night's dinner - Cuban marinated pork tenderloin!
Recipe adapted from elly says opa!

1lb pork tenderloin
1/4 cup orange juice (about 1 orange)
2 Tbsp lime juice (about 1 lime)
3 Tbsp. canola or olive oil
2 bay leaves
3-4 garlic cloves, smashed (we're garlic lovers so I tossed in an extra 3!)
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper
I also added in half a cup of sliced onions

Gathered all your ingredients yet? Great! Let's marinate!

1. Combine all the ingredients and pour into a resealable bag with the pork tenderloin. I used a gallon size Ziploc bag. Marinate several hours (or in my case, overnight).

2. Grill the tenderloin, basting with the marinade as you grill, until internal temperature reaches 140°, approx. 20-25 minutes.

3. Set tenderloin aside to rest for 7-10 minutes, underneath an aluminum foil tent. Slice and consume!

I was starving and totally forgot to take a pic, but this
one is pretty darn accurate to what ours looks like.

We had this with steamed broccoli (for me) and garlic mashed potatoes (for the hubs). The tenderloin was juicy and tender and definitely full of flavor!

What's your favorite part of grilling? Do share seasoning mixes and marinating recipes!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Random Mondays!

Today's Random Monday emoticon:

Item in question:
The awesome (or not depending on how you look at it) about sushi buffets is the awesome dessert bar that comes complimentary of your meal. We learned the hard way that dessert isn't always that way *cough Rafain's cough* Without regards to our already overly stuffed sushi filled belly, we trapezed over to the dessert bar for some creme brulee, red wine ice cream, pecan pie, chocolate dipped strawberries, and whatever else our eyes feasted on. Then on your return to trip to your table, don't forget to grab a spoon from the bar to help shovel all the desserts into your mouth. Or 2... Or 3 spoons...

I don't recall this many dessert spoons during my business etiquette luncheons taught during my college years. I should call up career services and ask them what's up with that. They taught me the difference in the 3 forks, why not spoons too right??? You gotta give the restaurant props though for considering their diverse age range of clientele from baby to age X and their desire for what type of spoon!

Have you ever encountered something quirky while dining out?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue,

wedding flowers, here to debut!

I totally messed up the poem huh? Sorry! At least you know what today's post will be about - wedding flowers!!!

Who would have ever knew these wedding decors were so darn expensive? They die before even the day is over shoo! Then again, you slap on the word wedding or bride and the price automatically inflates 1,000% (consider this a warning future brides. Avoid these words at all cost when inquiring of prices!).

My knowledge of flowers equals


Period. So you can imagine how intimidated I was when vendors asked me what kind of flowers I wanted to include in the arrangements for my bouquet, the bridesmaids bouquets, the centerpieces, etc. I didn't want to show up at the florist appointments completely empty handed so I browsed various sites (e.g. The Knot) in search of arrangements and just saved them down to my jump drive. I figured I could just show my inspiration pictures even if I didn't know the names and let the florist do their magic. Fortunately, it worked!!

My wedding bouquet inspiration:
All flowers pictures were taken from The Knot

At each floral appointment, the florist pointed out I had a thing for lilies, specifically, calla lilies. Who would have known! With that new found knowledge, I announced I wanted calla lilies in the bouquets and the hubby's boutonniere and the rest was up to them.

We were debating between two florist. Both which had gorgeous displays, but one was well beyond our budget and we had to bid a sad adieu to. I highly recommend Karmen if she's in your budget. She will absolutely floor you with her vision. Fortunately, we are extremely excited to be working with the florist we did sign with and her vision for all our floral arrangements!

How is your flower knowledge and what's your favorite flower?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chicken and Cashews

At our house, we almost always have chicken defrosting in the fridge. Work has been extremely hectic this year and I got home late last night so I whipped out this recipe because it's super easy and quick to make. Plus, I got the "I don't eat greens" hubby to eat a good chunk of the bell peppers. Yay for some veggies in his diet!!

Chicken and Cashew Stir Fry
Recipe adapted from Epicurious

1 bunch scallions, separating white and green parts
1 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs (I used chicken breasts instead)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 tbs vegetable oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbs finely chopped peeled fresh ginger (I used less because ginger can be overwhelming, but if you like the extra kick feel free to add even more!)
1/4 tsp dried hot red-pepper flakes
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 tbs soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup salted roasted whole cashews

Gathered and portioned out everything? Great! Let's cook!

1. Cut the chicken breasts into 3/4-inch chunks and toss with salt and pepper.

2. Heat oil in skillet over high heat. Add chicken and cook until just cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes. Don't overcook it or it'll be dry and rubbery. Ew! Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon (mine didn't produce excess liquid so I just dished it all over into a bowl via tilting my skillet and shoveling the chicken out with my spatula).  

3. Add the bell pepper, garlic, ginger, red-pepper flakes, and scallion whites (some of the scallion greens got in there. Oops. Oh well!) to the skillet and stir-fry until peppers are tender, about 5 minutes.

4. Stir together chicken broth, soy sauce, cornstarch, and sugar and add to the vegetables.

5. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Like this! I'm talented, what can I say!

6. Stir in cashews, scallion greens, and chicken along with any juices accumulated on plate. I didn't have any cashews and wasn't in the mood to go to the store and pick some up just for this recipe so I made cashew-less chicken stir fry. Then plate and consume!

As always, I had this with jasmine rice and braised baby bok choy. The flavor turned out alright, but it could definitely use some additions, but the simplicity of this recipe won it over. Next time, I think I'll marinate/season the chicken with some soy sauce along with the salt and pepper and cook it with garlic. Who doesn't love extra garlic right? We sure do! The hubby and I love onions and mushrooms so I'll definitely add that next time. And maybe some green bell peppers too. Plus, isn't stir fry all about tossing together whatever ingredients you have/want any way?  Definitely!

What's your favorite stir fry? And suggestions on what changes you would make to this recipe?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Andrew & Teresa's Wedding

While the weatherman predicted scattered rain and thunderstorms on Saturday, the rain gods held it all off until Sunday so that Andrew and Teresa could host their beautiful ceremony outdoors at the Four Seasons.

Wedding Program

Ceremony site


Chair decor for every other row

As we all were raving how darn cute the ring bearer was,

a change in melody signified the ceremony was commencing. First up, the groom and his mother.

Followed by the groomsmen escorting the bridesmaids.

Proceeding them was the flower girl

Another change in melody and it was time for the Bride to make her debut.

 and ceremony to make them man and wife took place.

Since the cocktail hour and reception took place in the main lobby area, we took advantage of the opportunity to take group pictures as we waited for a golf cart to whisk us away.

Cocktail hour details
Top to bottom, left to right:
Cocktail napkin wrapped around each beer bottle,
Andrew and the hubs, our escort cards, guestbook
table, centerpiece for cocktail tables, bride and
groom with me and the hubs, me and the bride
and groom, and the escort card table

Check out the shoes the bride was rocking!

Then the dinner bell rang to notify us to enter the ballroom for the reception.
Chivari chairs! Chocolate fountain that was absolutely
delish! Up lighting! Sweetheart table was gorgeous.

The bride and groom kicked off the evening with their first dance to "From This Moment" by Shania Twain

Then, dinner. was. served!
Top to bottom, left to right:
Meat/carving station with turkey and sirloin, Asian station
with lo mein and fried rice, variety of salads, and mac and
cheese with truffle oil and lobster meat

Then the bride pranced on the dance floor to let everyone know it was time to get jiggy with it and work off some of the food!

To give everyone some time to catch their breath from the raging dance floor, it was time for the bouquet and garter toss!

And the rest of the evening consisted of dancing the night away! Congratulations, Teresa and Andrew!!


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