Monday, August 17, 2009

Ikea Madness

On Saturday, Ronnie and I thought about heading to Charlotte for the day. (well OK, it was my idea!) But we wanted to spend time doing something fun together, since were apart for 5 days. Charlotte is about an hour and so away. And I thought about going to Ikea. It opened during the spring and I've been dying to see what I hear so many people talk about. And, boy, did we see! The parking lot was filled with cars. We were surprised. You could imagine Ronnie. He was not having it, but was being a good sport. It was madness! I was impressed with the accessories for the home. But Ronnie and I agreed the furniture was not our style or taste. I think the stuff would be great for like an apartment and I loved their kids room designs and accessories. But there wasn't any furniture that I felt I would want to go cheap on in my house. I definitely prefer more quality for our home. But I did happen to love a lot of decorative pieces. I picked up a great little lamp we have been needing for the guest room. And the perfect decorative pieces for my kitchen window sill. Check them out!

Overall, it was fun. And I definitely go again. But I will probably will have to convince the hubby somehow! :)

Ikea: whoa mama!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tortilla Soup

Going to take a break from reporting about our trip to California to report on a delicious Tortilla Soup I made last week! And it gave me the perfect excuse to try out my new ceramic pot!

While watching the View one morning, Tyler Florence was on. He was cooking for Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who is tricky to cook for because she is on a gluten-free (g-free) diet for her celiac disease. Anyways, one of the things he made was a Mexican Tortilla Chicken Soup. It looked delicious and so simple to make that I had to try it. The part that makes is so simple is to buy a whole roasted chicken from the grocery store. You shred it up and can make quesadillas for dinner the following evening! PERFECT! The only ingredient I didn't use were the jalapenos, and I substituted the cheese for regular shredded cheese. You can use whatever cheese you prefer. Check it out.

Mexican Tortilla Chicken Soup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium white onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
3 ripe medium tomatoes, chopped
1 quart gluten-free chicken stock, store bought
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Canola oil, for pan-frying
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken (from gluten-free deli-roasted chicken)
2 avocados, halved, pitted, peeled, and diced
1 cup crumbled coitja cheese, optional
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
1 lime, cut in wedges, for serving

Place a stockpot over medium heat and coat with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, jalapenos, and tomatoes; cook, stirring for 15 minutes until the vegetables are cooked down and pulpy. Pour in the stock, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1-inch of canola oil in a skillet over medium-high flame. When the oil begins to smoke, add the tortilla strips in batches and fry until they are crisp on all sides. Remove to a paper towel-lined platter and sprinkle with salt while they are still hot.

Ladle the hot soup into 4 soup bowls and put a pile of shredded chicken on top of each. Top with the diced avocado and fried tortilla strips (and cheese if using). Garnish with cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence; Yield: 2 quarts

Prepping the vegetables. onions, tomatoes, garlic, in olive oil for 20 min.
After 20 min, you add the chicken broth. And boil for another 20 min.

While the soup cooked, I shredded the chicken and put it in a plastic container to save for later. You add the chicken to the soup when you are ready to serve in the bowls. No need to put in the pot, because the chicken is already cooked and it will get dried out.
Also, I cut up the rest of the ingredients!
At the very end when the soup is done, you throw in and serve the rest of the ingredients (chicken, avocado, cheese, lime, and cilantro , which makes the soup by the way!) right into the bowl.

It made enough for 2 dinners in a row. We absolutely loved it. So hearty, yet, healthy and filling. Enjoy!

California Dreamin Club 33

What can I say about Club 33 that isn't AMAZING? It was a "dream come true" in more ways than one. Truly! Everything was memorable. Even when we stumbled a little getting to our reservation on time. We encountered major traffic re-entering the park after we got dressed up. We arrived to our reservation about 10 min late. And we were panicking all the way there because they did say that they could revoke our reservation if we were to be late. Ah! You have never seen us run and panic so much. But we made it. Thank goodness! Walt Disney added so many of his touches to this place that I could feel his magic. There is something magical and inspirational when you go to anything Disney that it is really hard to explain. You just really have to experience it to get the overall "magical" experience. There isn't anything else like it. Club 33 is a very, special, magical place. Walt Disney never got the chance to see it opened. He died 5 months before it did. But that doesn't matter. It did feel like he was there. And enjoys it everyday!

Friday, August 7, 2009

California Dreamin' Day 1

And we're back! We had such a GREAT time in California. It was more than I expected. And I thought it was too short! Boo! But isn't that how most vacations tend to be? Ah, but I can't take for granted of what an amazing time we had. I am sorry it has taken me a while to post about it, but I've been trying to catch up with myself with the settling back in. (laundry, organizing) And I am still not finished. So, I've decided I must post in parts. So I will start with our first day, which was DISNEYLAND!

Omg, I was such a giddy little girl. (which isn't surprising if you know me!) But honestly, I was so anxious to get there that I woke up at 5:00am! We got our rental car really early and then headed to Disneyland, which was about 45 min from LAX where we were staying. We got to Disneyland at around 7:15am, got perfect parking, and were one of the first to jump onto the tram to the park. I will now share some photos from our day. I took many, but I will just include my favorites!

On the tram heading to the park. Ready for the magic!

I wore my wedding present proudly! It's first time in a Disney park since we got married! :) HAHA! (I told you I was a devoted fan.)
Yes!!!!! Can you tell I was super excited!!! And if you notice, no one was there yet! We had the park to ourselves for a few hours! It was perfect!!!

Hubby's first time to Disneyland!

Sleeping Beauty castle. I could live there!

Club 33!!!! eeeeek!!!! Dinner was that evening.

I got soaked riding Splash Mountain! SOAKED!!! but fun!

Alice, the Queen and Mad Hatter hopped on the carousel with the Disneyland Band. Possibly the coolest interaction I have ever seen from the characters!

Dumbo! I thought this picture came out pretty cool.

Nemo! This was an amazing attraction!

I was mesmerized! Ha!

The Matterhorn and Monorail.

Look who I saw! Except he was done taking pictures and signing autographs. For some reason, that side of Mickey has become a tradition visiting Disneyland. I always miss him there! ah!

That is it for now. I will come back with more! :)