So I decided to make Eric a treat last week and put together an amazing meal that tested my skyllz. I tried a bunch of new things like roasting the garlic before I added it into my mashed potatoes, and cooking fillet mignon and getting it to medium rare and wrapped in bacon! Then I thought it would be fun to try to make my own kind of lava cake with the compote fruit topping that Eric always loves. For the compote I just chop up strawberries, mangoes and add some orange juice and sugar. Then I just simmer it down while I cook until it is a tasty sauce. I guess that is a compote? I dno, I just made it up. Anyway, check out the photos and click on the mini galleries to see their captions!
My dad gave us a fancy griddle for our wedding. As soon as we unwrapped it Eric wanted fried chicken! So, a few days later I decided that I would see what I could do! It was early enough in the morning to thaw our Costco chicken breasts and soak them in a milk bath with lots of garlic, paprika and honey. That afternoon I put paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper and a few secret things into a mixing bowl and whisked the seasonings in with the flour.
I then pulled the strips of chicken breasts out of the milk bath, dredged them in the flour and seasonings and then popped them in the pipping hot oil in the skillet. For a first attempt at fried chicken, it was pretty dang perfect! Crispy, golden brown, a little sweet, a little spicy. We dipped the strips in honey and enjoyed the chicken with green beans with caramelized onions and herb infused mashed potatoes. I think this was Eric's favorite dinner thus far! Check out the pictures of the experimental process!!
I am proud to announce that I have cracked the code! The other night Eric and I had a craving for paninis, but all we had was frozen Costco chicken, a can of peeled tomatoes, shredded taco cheese, a lonely onion, and a bag of spinach. Just your regular fridge full of bleh food. But enough bleh food to potentially be able to render out some form of awesome paninis.
So, taking a note out of Alton Brown's book, I thawed the chicken just under one hour by letting lukewarm water trickle into the Tupperware of water with the frozen chicken. I guess the transfer of heat energy in then out of the water speeds up the thawing process? I don't know.
Anyway, after that I "brined," the chicken in salt water with Italian seasonings, dried onion, garlic, pepper and a bit of brown sugar for sweetness. The salt helps the Chicken open up its little pores and drink in the yummy flavors.
I let that brine while I sauteed the canned taste out of the tomatoes and caramelized the onions. I like my onions just barely caramelized, where they're still crunchy, you know?
Then I took the chicken out and plopped it onto our new Calphalon griddle. (aka my new favorite thing) I covered the top of them with more dried onions, waited until it was time to flip them and then sprinkled the other side with them too. I love how crunchy, sticky and sweet the crust from dried onions can be.
Then I put the bread on the grill with a little bit of oil and garlic salt, sprinkled the cheese over the bread, laid on the chicken (now golden brown and sliced) and smushed another piece of bread on top. We don't have a panini smusher, which is a bummer, so I did all the smushing with my spatula and grilled the sandwiches on both sides.
The Sandwiches turned out to be AMAZING! :)
Eric couldn't eat his fast enough. Hooray for first time panini success!!
A few weeks ago, Eric and I decided to go to Vegas to celebrate my new job! We both love EDM and dancing, so what better place to let loose? We stayed at our favorite hotel, The Venetian. We love it there because you don't get lambasted with the icky side of vegas. (This side is, of course, the backsides of the ladies which adorn everything on the strip. We don't much go for that.)
They were super nice and upgraded us our room when they saw we were military. I LOVE the decor here. And of course white sheets at a hotel are a must. Eric has been to Venice and I spent a semester studying it's art and culture (from a classroom... boo!) So we both just LOVE the ornate halls and cute shops built to look like the Rialto.
We like to hit up Casanova Ristorante, they definitely have a tasty menu, but the restaurant I will tell you about below is MUCH better. We also love the delicious gelato shop, Cocolini's, in the middle of the courtyard where there is always live music being played in the evenings. They have a great selection of amazing gelato flavors. You can't walk past it without getting some at least once!
Our NEW favorite place to eat in the hotel is called Trattoria Reggiano. It is this little hole in the wall restaurant that is ALWAYS packed for dinner, so we decided to try it. The food was absolutely amazing. Totally authentic Italian cuisine. The Italian maître d' loved chatting with Eric about his travels through Italy. We ordered the caprese salad to start which came with luscious, fresh mozzarella imported from Italy daily. They also had imported Italian Basalmic Vinegar and Olive oil which was to die for. I ordered the pesto gnocchi with pine nuts and Eric ordered the Quattro Formaggi pizza. All of this was mouthwateringly delicious; and the prices are reasonable too :)
On the first night we saw Zarkana, a Cirque du Soleil show at the hotel/casino, Aria. It was my second time at a Vegas show, but Eric's first. He was skeptical, since he definitely isn't a theatre gent. But the acrobatics, music and amazing visuals sucked him in. I had seen LOVE previously at the Mirage, and there was little to no crowd participation there. (and I was fine with that since I usually find that sort of thing a bit camp) Zarkana used its spritely characters to mess around in the audience while people were finding their seats. Then the two goofy gentlemen brought a pretty girl on stage (as seen in the picture below) and had a pretty charming routine with her on stage. I thought it was charming enough to be worth the campiness. ;)
The next night we wanted to get in some good EDM time at a club with adequate temperature control, as is so often difficult to find. We decided to go to the Marquee nightclub at the new hotel/casino, Cosmopolitan. Ashley Wallbridge was DJ for the night, we could have seen a few other bigger names, but went for the option that would probably be less crowded. Marquee was gorgeous, the sound was great, the temperature was perfect and the outdoor areas were to die for. There were beautiful views of the surrounding hotels making the night perfectly romantic and awesome.
All in all our impromptu Vegas weekend was totally worth it. We got to enjoy the Bellagio fountain together and spend time soaking in the sun as well as in our own private little pool at the TAO Beach day club. (public pools at day clubs are, once again, not my fave. So finding our own little private area was a total win) Vegas can totally be done without venturing into the trashier netherlands of its culture. We will definitely be making another trip! Especially since it is only 5 hours away from our house in Utah! Ciao!
ALWAYS scan for great groupons or living social deals when you are thinking of planning a trip. There were so many 50% off deals we were able to score for quick lunches and services. It worked for us!
We cooked!! As your probably know, we have a little townhome in Layton awaiting us, and we are having a blast turning it into a home! Although we're not living in it yet, we have been spending our evenings there, but have never cooked until tonight. Momentous, I think is the word. ;)
It was kind of a lame dinner, just OJ, chicken-veggie dumplings, and garlic mashed potatoes. We used the beautiful Calphalon pan set that Aunt Barbara gave us at Stephanie's bridal shower. They are kind of amazing.
We are SO lucky to be the recipients of such wonderful gifts and well-wishes. We can't wait to celebrate with everyone come November!!
After 2 years of dating