Sunday, January 31, 2010

Los Angeles Fire Department Museum and Memorial

A few weeks ago while wondering around LA waiting for an event to start my friend Marie and I stumbled upon a really cool statue of firemen that was near a firehouse (I forgot to take a picture of it, of course!). While talking to a lady outside we learned the it was actually a museum dedicated to the firemen of Los Angeles with a 9/11 exhibit upstairs. We did have time to go through the 9/11 part, but these are some of the things we saw inside. For more information on the museum, click here.



 (This was from the kitchen of the original firehouse. Click for it to get bigger)



 (The first suit used in LA. It reminded us of the Haz Mat guys in Monsters Inc. )



(Who knew these things were SO big??)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Recipe Wednesday - Chicken Pasta Bake

Chicken Pasta Bake is a recipe that my friends and family love. I'm really proud of this one because I came up with it all on my own! Not that that difficult of a recipe, but I'm not very good at "winging it" when it comes to cooking. It's pretty easy for a fast week night meal when the kids are screaming and there just isn't enough time.

This recipe will easily serve 4 people and leave them feeling nice and full.

* 8oz Penne Rigate Pasta (you can use any kind you like)
* 2.5 cups Prego Marinara (you can use any kind you like)
* 2 thawed boneless, skinless chicken breasts
* 1 cup shredded Mozzarella
* Your fave seasoning salt

1. Preheat oven to 350degress
2. Cook pasta as directed on packaging.

3.  Pound chicken breasts until about 1/2" thick. I've found that pounding my chicken it look bigger, in turn making people (including myself) think they are eating more than they really are...oh the tricks we can play on our minds :)

4. Lightly season your chicken with the seasoning of your choice and place it off to the side.

(sorry this one's blurry)

5. When your pasta is ready, strain it and rinse if desired. Dump pasta into a medium size baking dish and add sauce. Mix together well. You want to make sure your pasta is well coated with sauce since it will absorb some while baking. Place your chicken breasts on top of the pasta/sauce mixture.

6.  Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Covering the dish will keep the pasta from drying out and make your chicken extra moist.

7. Once the chicken is cooked, turn the oven off, remove the dish from the oven and remove the aluminum foil. Cover the chicken with mozzarella and place it back in the oven. Keep the oven turned OFF.

8. Once the cheese is melted (about 5 minutes) take the dish back out of the oven, serve and enjoy! (I forgot to take a picture of my finished product...oops!)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

New Bike Basket Liners!

Maybe it's because of allllll the rain we've had lately...maybe it's because spring/summer are my favorite season...or it could just be the fact that I really like making them...

Whatever it is, I have added 5 new bike basket liners to my Etsy store this week. Head on over, check 'em out...maye even pick one up for you or a friend if you feel the urge ;).





Thursday, January 21, 2010

Oh Baxter, My Baxter

Meet Baxter; the 4th dog my family has had during my life time. We got him from the OC Animal Shelter in June 2006. He's a Pitbull/Beagle mix and the funniest dog we've ever had.

When it comes to toys, Baxter's favorite is a rope toy by far. He likes to pounce on it like he's a cat. He has "upstairs toys" and "downstairs toys" and he decides which goes where. If he's downstairs and done playing with a toy, he will take it upstairs and bring a new one down to play with. He also loves taking naps in front of our living room space heater trying to get warm.

However, Baxter's arch nemesis is loud noises. Firetrucks...fireworks..rain storms...he hates them all. He hates them so much he tries to get out of our backyard. As many of you know we had some CRAZY rainstorms in So. Cal. this week. Tuesday was the worst with tornado warnings and flooding. When we got home from work that night we found out exactly just how much Baxter hates rain storms. This lovely hole leads to our neighbor's backyard and while it isn't big enough for him to get through, it sure is lovely pretty amazing.

We will be getting the fence fixed this weekend. In the mean Baxter will continue hate the rain that's beating down on So. Cal. (as I type) keeping him from smelling the sidewalk.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Recipe Wednesday - Herb Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables

Ahhhh chicken; my favorite meat by far. There was a brief 6 month period of my life where I was a vegetarian and chicken was the thing I missed most. In fact, it was practically the only meat I ate for 10(ish) years of my life! Through eating all of that chicken I had never cooked a whole chicken until this recipe and I am quite pleased with how it came out. Just like last week's recipe, this one is from "Cook This, Not That. Kitchen Survival Guide".

* 2 clovers garlic, minced
* 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary, thyme, parsley, oregano, basil OR sage (you only need one of these. If you do dried, use 1 tsp instead. I used thyme)
* 1 lemon
* 1 tbsp olive oil
* 1 whole 4lb chicken (make sure it's completely defrosted)
* salt and black pepper
* 1 large russet potato, sliced into 1/8" rounds
* 2 onions, quartered
* 4 large carrots cut into large chunks (I did 2 BIG handfuls of baby carrots)

1. Preheat oven to 450degrees. Mix garlic, selected herb, lemon zest, juice of lemon, and half the olive oil in a bowl.

2.  Working on the chicken, gently separate the skin from the flesh at the bottom of the breast and spoon in half the herb mixture; use your hands to spread it around as thoroughly as possible. Spread the remaining half over the top of the chicken and season it with plenty of salt and pepper.


3. Mix the potato, onions, carrots, remaining olive oil, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Arrange the vegetables in the bottom of a roasting pan and place the chicken on top, breast side up. Roast 20 - 30 minutes, until the skin is lightly browned.

4. Reduce the oven temperature to 350degress and roast for another 30 minutes or so. The chicken is done when the juices between the breast and the leg run clear and an instant-read thermometer inserted deep into the thigh reads 155degrees.

5. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with the vegetables.

Overall, I am very happy with how this came out. However, next time (to save some cals/fat) I might try this with 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken.

Here's the nutritional info (provided by the book)

Servings per recipe = 4

Cal = 420
Fat = 10g

Saturated Fat = 2g
Sodium = 610mg

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I introduce to you...Mr. & Mrs. Ken Welle

This past Friday my step-brother got married to the love of his life...and someone I am pleased to now call part of my family, Adeena! The two of them met while working on Fantasmic at Disneyland about 3 years ago (I think) and are definitely well suited for each other. The way they laugh and play together is something that needs to be seen with your own eyes.

I couldn't be happier for the both of them and wish them MANY years of fun, laughter and success.

I love you guys!

For more pictures and a video of the garter toss, click here

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Recipe Wednesday - Dr. Pepper Ribs

On my quest to a healthier lifestyle/losing weight, and becoming a better cook, I took some of the money I received as Christmas presents and I bought myself a couple of cookbook type books. Two of books I purchased were from the Eat This, Not That! series. The first being a guide that helps with what to buy purchase/stay away from in the grocery store "Eat This Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide" and the second "Cook This, Not That! Kitchen Survival Guide". The following recipe is from the "Cook This, Not That" book and while it probably wasn't the healthiest thing I could have eaten for dinner, it was a heck of a lot healthier than the Outback Steakhouse Ribs it is compared to and well, I feel every diet should have a "Free Day". Plus, they were REALLY good!

So here it is, the recipe for Dr. Pepper Ribs:

* 2 racks baby back ribs (I don't like pork so I used beef instead)
* 1 bottle (2 liter) Dr. Pepper (you need to use regular, not diet. The sugar will help caramalize the meat plus, you aren't really going to consume the Dr. Pepper; it's more for flavor and even though you use it in the sauce it takes the place of brown sugar and maple syrup)
* salt and black pepper
* chili powder
* 1 cup water
* 1/2 tbsp canola or veggie oil
* 1/2 onion, minced
* 1 clove garlic, minced
*1/2 cup ketchup
* 2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
* 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
* 1/8 tbsp cayenne pepper

1. Place the ribs in baking dish large enough to hold them comfortably. Pour in enough soda to cover, saving at least 1/2 a cup for the barbecue sauce. Add 1/4 cup salt and soak for 2-24 hours in the fridge. (I did mine for 24 hours).

2. Preheat your oven to 350degrees. Remove the ribs from the liquid and pat dry; discard the liquid. Place 1 cup of water in the baking dish. Sprinkle the ribs with chili powder and return to the baking dish. Cover the dish lightly with foil and bake for 2 hours until the meat is tender and nearly falling off the bone. 

(I made A LOT of ribs since friends were coming over and the oven wouldn't close! I came up with the idea of covering the open area with aluminum foil and it worked! Scotch tape was used on the sides to keep the foil in place.)

 3. While the ribs are in the oven, make the barbecue sauce. Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Saute the onions and garlic until they are soft and fragrant, then add the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, cayenne and reserved 1/2 cup of Dr. Pepper. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the sauce thickens.

4.  Heat a grill until hot. Brush the ribs with barbecue sauce and grill for 15-20 minutes rib (less meaty) side down on a cooler part of the grates. Flip over and cook on the other side until lightly charred and smoky. 

(Justin helped me with this part and I think he cooked them a little too long :). It's OK though, we like 'em charred 'round here)

5. Remove from the grill, brush with more sauce and serve.

I served mine with a potato dish (from the same book that didn't come out right...oops!) and a mixed veggie salad. The ribs were definitely the BEST part of the meal and I can't wait for them to come up on the "Free Day" schedule again! 

Here's the nutritional info (provided by the book) if you make these with pork. I made mine with beef and wasn't able to figure that one out.
Servings per recipe = 4
Serving Size = 1/2 rack of ribs

Cal = 490
Fat = 19g
Sat Fat = 3.5g
Sodium = 900mg

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Everyone posts their resolutions this time of year. While I know what my resolutions/goals for 2010 are it took me a bit to be ready to post them on the internet for the whole world to have access to. I have a problem with making long term goals and feeling let down if I don't keep them. So by posting them here it makes me feel like I have to keep them or I will be letting someone down besides myself...which a lot of "people" say is a good thing to do. I've decided to try it and see what happens. So, here they are (in no particular order):

1. Continue being the best me I can be (this is something I started in 2009 and plan to continue).
     a. This year this will include losing weight. I want/need to lost about 60lbs. About a 2 years I joined and lost close to 20lbs on their program with diet and exercise. Then, I met a guy, fell off track and gained it all back. Well, I know I can do it and I plan to complete my goal this time! I have bought "The Spark" and a few "light cookbooks" and already started reading/using them. If you are looking to get healthy, I fully recommend SparkPeople and the great program they have set up.
    b. Exercise 3 times a week (rather it's walking, swimming, pilaties class, or a full workout at the gym I need to get this butt moving)
   c. One soda a day. I NEVER drink "whole"soda, only diet. However, I know that still isn't good for me but it's the only way I get caffine so I'm thinking 1 day isn't really going to be all that bad. I might just drop it all together. We'll see what happens.

2. Be more open to new people, ideas and things.
   a. I have found that as I get older I get more close minded and quicker to judge to others. For me, this is part of the American society...where if it isn't "inside our norm" we automatically reject it.

3. Cook more/better
   a. Cooking is something I truly enjoy...especially cooking for the people that are close to me. I want to start having Sunday night dinner at my house with friends and loved, then I can share the things I make with you my, dear reader :). Which also keeps me blogging, which is #4 on this list.

4. Blog more
   a. Life is exciting and needs to be shared, whether it's with people you know, or have never met.

So that's it. That's my list. Now let's see what happens!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Recipe Wednesday - Super Easy - 5 Step - Chicken Tortilla Soup

I was trying to think of something I could do this year to keep me blogging regularly...and have it be something I enjoy. I came up with posting a weekly recipe! Cooking is something I have been getting more and more into recently and I thought it might be fun to share some of the things I like making (and eating). So, here it is, the first recipe...

Remember this post when I was craving Chicken Tortilla Soup (which is one of my favorites)? Well, I decided to make the recipe I found here (with a few additions):

1 serving = 4 cups
  (this info does not include toppings)
* 2 teaspoons olive oil
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 4 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 medium jalapeno pepper, chopped
* 1/2 medium green pepper
* 4 small boneless skinless chicken breasts
* 2 cups frozen corn
* 1 cup water
* 3 tbsp corn starch
* 2 teaspoons cumin
* 1 teaspoon chili powder
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (this wasn't spicy enough for me so I did 3/4 teaspoon and it still wasn't that hot)                                                                  
* 4 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth
* 2 (14 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
* 2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
* 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans (strained and rinsed)

* shredded mexican blend cheese
* avocado, sliced
* tortilla chips, crushed

(This recipe makes A LOT of soup so make sure you use a BIG pot)

1. In your big pot saute the garlic, onion, jalapeno, and green pepper in the oil until soft

2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot (mix the corn starch and water together before adding) (minus the toppings) and bring to a boil...I had to partially cover mine with a lid to get it to boil.

3.  After 15 minutes take the chicken out and shred (I used 2 forks and pulled the chicken apart in chunks).

4. Put the chicken back in the soup and simmer for an additional 45 minutes.

5. Serve in a bowl, topped with cheese, avocado and chips if desired.

This really did make A LOT of soup! I served it to 4 adults, we each had 2 bowls and there were left overs for the next day.

Happy cooking!

Izabella's Hoodie

Remember this post where I made a hoodie for my friend's 3 year old, Izabella? Well, she FINALLY came over last night to open gifts and I was able to snap a few pics of here wearing her new hoodie (sorry in advance for the blurry, she didn't feel like holding still).




I also made her an apron so she can help Mommy cook and clean. As with most 3 year old little girls, she is obsessed with princesses (Cinderella is her favorite) so when I found this fabric I knew it was PERFECT!


The pose Cinderella taught her at her 3rd birthday party

What kind of handmade goodness happened at your house this Holiday season? I'd love to see it!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010 Rose Parade Floats

Having lived in Southern California my entire life, the Rose Parade is something that was watched (over AND over) every New Year's Day while I was growing up. When I was in Jr. High my Dad took my brother and I to see the floats a few days after the parade. When I was in High School my Mom took my brother, a friend and I to spend the nights on the street and see the parade in person.

This year I thought it would be fun to go to Pasadena and see the floats up close once again (no, I didn't spend the night on the streets). So I gathered up a couple friends and some family and we headed out...things sure have changed since I was in Jr. High! (
Please don't take this as a complaint, it's merely a show of how things change). I remember parking down the street, walking a couple blocks to a grass field and seeing the floats up close with just a couple people. This year, we parked at the Rose Bowl, waited in line for 1.5 hours to get on a shuttle, rode for about 15 minutes to the streets the floats were parked on then viewed the floats with THOUSANDS of people.

All in all, we had a great day filled with some fun memories AND got to see the bulldogs ride down their ski slope (which is probably my favorite float EVER). The following are some of my favorite pictures from the day. You can click on them to make them bigger and if you want to see more, click on the link under the last picture.

I love all of the tiny details on some floats
Early morning birds

How a lion gets a curly mane
My Dad's favorite
I like this guy's tongue
My favorite, after the bulldogs
My ADORABLE 3 month old niecel
I hope your 2010 is going great so far!