Friday, June 27, 2014

Have a Restful Weekend!

Last weekend I said we were going to take it easy and then I proceeded to list all of the things we did.  They weren't big plans, but we definitely kept busy.  This weekend S has a video game night tonight with his friends (I'm making them some guac and then heading home to my place), but that is literally all we have planned.  I'm thinking I'll try to pack up some more around the house and make a few more trips moving stuff over to S's place.  Which isn't nothing, but right now my body appears to be hating me (today alone my sinuses are acting up, I had a stomach ache and got a bloody nose first thing after I arrived at work...) so aside from the packing/moving thing, it seems that a weekend of forced relaxation is in order.  I'm not even going to plan out any food, although that's not to say I won't cook.  I just am not planning on it at this point in time - relaxation and recovery are priority!  Especially since next weekend is a three day weekends for the 4th of July.  It would be nice to be back in top form for the long weekend...

(picture from here)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Delish Fish

S and I figure we won't have much time to work out over the next month since we're going to be in heavy-duty "moving" mode, so we've decided to compensate by trying to eat super healthy (with the exception of our carb filled, delicious, pasta adventure last night at Paulie's...)  This means lean meats like chicken and fish, minimal processed foods (flours, sugars, chemicals), and lots and lots of vegetables.  My usual go-to recipe for salmon is my own spice-variation take on this Alton Brown recipe for broiled salmon.  It's easy, quick, and tasty.  But it's getting a little old and I wanted to try something new.  Enter this miso glazed salmon recipe - SO good.  It's fresh salmon season and, while pricy, I'm a huge fan of fresh caught fish over the farmed variety, so I stocked up on 1 lb of this delicious, coral delight on Tuesday and proceeded to slather it with the miso glaze and let sit to marinate on the counter for a half an hour before cooking (I also broiled it for about 2 minutes at the end to caramelize the topping a bit).  I served it alongside this carrot, edamame, and avocado salad topped with a ginger citrus dressing and lots of black sesame seeds.  I found the dressing recipe was quite large so I added extra veggies to the salad and also cut back a bit on the sesame seeds (closer to 1/8 cup).  The resultant dinner was full of flavor and super healthy - we had enough for lunch leftovers the next day as well! 

While I was in cooking mode, I also whipped up a huge batch of roasted vegetables with chicken.  I like to mix up the types of vegetables and seasoning I use based on the season, so this week's was chock full of leeks, zucchini, carrots, and broccoli and seasoned with orange juice and thyme!  It made 5 services and gives us another healthy and quick lunch/dinner option for this week.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Weekend at a Glance

Friday night we took it easy.  We rented Her and stayed in eating leftover lasagna and snuggling with the kitties.  The movie was interesting and prompted lots of good discussion over the course of the weekend.  Saturday we slept in pretty late for us (recovering from a week of sleep deprivation is always so refreshing) and then finally hit up Fung's Kitchen for their weekend Dim Sum Lunch Special.  I've only have them on my restaurant list for about 2 years now so it was awesome to finally cross them off my list.  The dim sum was tasty, but not the best I've ever had.  Definitely worth it, though!
After our dim sum brunch, S and I finally went out scouting for a new bed and couch for the house.  Once I move in (the process has already started!) we've decided to sell most of our old, hand-me-down furniture and start fresh with new furniture that is "ours".  While we're not completely decided on everything, we do know that we want a king size bed and a big grey couch.  We think we've found both (although we still need to take some measurements to confirm), but we haven't pulled the plug on either yet.  After our productive furniture hunt we got some bubble tea for an afternoon snack and then headed back to my house to pack the first major load of my stuff into the car for the move.  All of my books, vases, and blankets are now at S's house!
Saturday evening we had tickets to go to the Houston Museum of Natural Science's monthly Mixer and Elixir event.  We enjoyed wandering around select exhibits at the museum with drinks in hand and live music playing in the background.  Our favorite exhibit of the night was the hall of gems and minerals.  They had a small exhibit with large cut stones and elaborate jewelry as well.  I had to take a picture of the amazingly intricate necklace above because all of those big honkin' amethysts reminded me of my great grandma!  We wandered across the street after we left the museum and listened to the Houston Symphony Orchestra play at Miller Outdoor Theater for a bit and then headed over to Camerata at Paulie's for some drinks and a tasty charcuterie platter before calling it a night!

Sunday we headed back over to S's place and I whipped up a quick bacon, corn, and chicken salad using the leftover smoked chicken from last weekend with a side of fresh strawberries for lunch.  I cut out the small bit of mayo in the recipe and used sour cream instead and used turkey bacon in place of regular.  It kind of messed with my mind because I'm so used to chicken salad having mayo in it, but this one tasted almost the same with none of the egginess!  After lunch I unloaded all of my stuff from the car and put at much of it away (or at least out of the way) as possible.  S fixed my car (a belt and actuator needed to be replaced) and then we both relaxed for a bit.  Top Chef is now available on Hulu, so I've been binge watching!

For dinner last night I made our weekly cocktail and a delicious pasta dish.  For the cocktail I decided on the broiled lemon bourbon cocktail.  I used plain lemon juice instead of lemonade concentrate and upped the rosemary simple syrup to two tablespoons to compensate for the resulting lost sweetness. For dinner I used the Trader Joe's Garlic Basil Linguine (I love their gourmet pastas because they aren't made with egg yolks!) and topped it off with this mushroom ragu.  It was all so good that S got seconds of both!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Have a Refreshing Weekend!

THE WEEKEND IS HERE!!!!!!!  I don't know about you, but this week has seemed like it just dragged for me.  After last weekend's busy schedule, I'm happy to report that this weekend is mostly about relaxation.  We're going to take it easy tonight, try to get some dim sum brunch (finally) on Saturday, explore around town and do some packing at my place that day, and hit up the Mixers and Elixirs event at the Houston Museum of Natural Science on Saturday night.  Sunday is all about relaxing at home and maybe being productive with some more moving of stuff to S's place.  Looking forward to doing some nothing!

And just for fun, here are a few more interesting links for you:

(image from here)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Happy Belated Fathers Day, Our Busy Weekend and Fun Links

We had a very full, very fun weekend!  On Friday night we went to see Ghostbusters in Market Square Park with a bunch of friends.  We brought food and drinks to snack on during the movie (most of us hadn't seen Ghostbusters in AGES - quite enjoyable!) and afterwards we bar-hopped in the Market Square area, hitting up Warren's, La Carafe (the oldest bar in Houston), and a fun secret bar that S and I like called Captain Foxheart's Bad News Bar.  It's disguised as a law office and has a fairly reasonably priced custom cocktail menu. 

The following morning we had planned on getting gourmet kolache's at Revival Market, but S was feeling a bit under the weather and so we opted to sleep in instead.  We had one of our favorite easy breakfasts, avocado toast, and then hit up the grocery store for the weekend smorgasbord of cooking I had planned.  That evening we had S's parents and his brother's family over for an early Father's Day celebration.  I made lasagna, salad, and super chocolatey brownies and his brother brought over two delicious types of garlic bread, a cheese and pesto, an we all gorged on a delicious dinner with some great conversation.  Speaking of, Happy Belated Father's Day!

On Sunday I put up the crockpot of beef stew that I'd prepared the night before and we headed out for S's best friend's baby's baptism.  We were honored to be invited to attend.  It'd been a while since we'd seen them and they kept busy afterwards at the party keeping drinks full and restocking (absolutely delicious) tamales so we made plans to meet up with them again on Monday night to catch up.  S and I then headed back to his place and I made some honey cakes with lavendar icing for the evening's festivities.  Around 5, friends started showing up for our Game of Thrones finale party.  We started off playing games (this was the favorite of the night - very fun!) and then had our pot luck dinner.  Everyone brought delicious food and we stuffed ourselves!  Then we hunkered down to watch the finale on S's huge 120" movie screen.  Like I said - a busy weekend!

This week now has been a combination of busy and slow.  We did have dinner with our friends on Monday night and got our fill of their adorable little boy.  Yesterday I swung by my friend H's house to pick up some kitty meds - Zoe has been purposely not using the litter box again much to my dismay. So I spent the rest of the night (and plan to spend tonight as well) loading the kitties with attention in hopes that they'll de-stress.  We've also started packing up bits of my apartment for transport over to S's house.  Let the great move of 2014 begin!

And even though this post is longer than I'd anticipated, here are some fun links that I've been enjoying and thought you might as well:
(top image from here)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Weekend in Review

We had yet another fun weekend.  I'm kind of starting to feel like a broken record saying that every week, but S and I still marvel at how we always have such a great time together!  This weekend started out with dinner and drinks out with friends to celebrate a birthday.  Boheme was super crowded, but it had a fun atmosphere and the food and drinks were pretty tasty.
We crashed at my place Friday night and slept in on Saturday morning.  The kitties love when we do this - weekend morning snuggles are what they live for!  Since we slept in, we didn't make it to Revival Market for their breakfast, as it ends at 11 am.  So instead we went out for brunch at Lola up in the Heights.  S got their fried chicken and waffle and the chicken was AMAZING!  After brunch we headed a few blocks up and went to Canino Market where I was finally able to find my squash blossoms!  I was super psyched and I stocked up with over a pound of the orange flowers.  We stored in them in a cooler in the car while we went to see a movie.  We saw Chef at the Sundance Houston and we both quite enjoyed it.  Lots of delicious looking food porn in the movie, which didn't drive us too crazy as we went right home afterwards and I whipped up a quadruple (!!!) batch of Squash Blossom Soup.  Yum. 
I was cooking soup until after midnight (I made it in 2 batches), so we slept in on Sunday and then got to work on house chores.  After a quick Home Depot trip we were finally able to mostly finish the guest bathroom!  The picture above is just a (not very focused) sneak peak - I still have a couple more things to do and clean before I can show it off in all of it's glory.  But we're thrilled with how much more modern and bright the room is!  During the powerdown of the bathroom for the light and socket installations, we also discovered that we have mini tomatoes (top picture) growing on the side of the house!  Haven't figured out what to do with those yet, but salad seems to be the most obvious option.  We finished the weekend off with some killer black bean enchiladas and then some guacamole with friends while we watched Game of Thrones.  Just one episode left!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Have a Wonderful Weekend!

Summer is here in Houston!  It is humid and the temperature has been hovering around 90 degrees all week!  Since we're not completely disgusted with a little humidity and sweat yet, S and I took the opportunity to do a little exploring in Midtown this week.  We also started up our summer bowling league again (which leads me to an update on the new nailpolish).  And tonight we're going to another new bar on our list to celebrate a friend's birthday.  It's been a fun second half of the week!
Reef has been on my restaurant list for years now.  We've always put it off because it's on the pricier side.  However, this week I discovered that they have a happy hour special from 4-7 with $5 small plates and $3 off cocktails, so we jumped on it!  Reef was recently voted one of the best seafood restaurant in the U.S. by Bon Appetit magazine, so we assumed it would be kind of snooty and the small dishes would in fact be very small and we were pleasantly surprised that we were wrong!  We sat at bar in the attached 3rd Bar for the happy hour speical and everyone was very friendly and the atmosphere was classy but casual.  As you can see above, the small plates were actually quite large!  We shared 4 plates between us (for a grand total of only $20 in food!!) and we were quite full by the time we finished it all!  The food and drinks were both very good and we actually found upon reviewing the menu that the normal dinner prices are actually pretty reasonable as well.  We'll definitely be heading back here again!
After dinner we meandered across the street to Mongoose Versus Cobra, a bar with a very Austin-esque, hipster vibe.  They had a great drink menu, though, and a large selection of draft craft beers as well.  I snagged a couple glasses of their homemade house punch and S partook of two of their draft stout specials.  We also ordered the spicy pumpkin seeds to nosh on - be warned, they are VERY spicy!  I want to come back here with a group next time and order a whole bowl of the punch to share - it was yummy!
Yesterday we started up our summer bowling league again.  Since we're the defending champs we felt a little pressure coming back this year, but we're really trying to remind ourselves that we're just in this for the fun (and the beer!)!  Thursday night was the end of day 3 of my manicure and I have to report that the Formula X nail polish struggled a little with the stresses imposed by bowling.  The chips have grown at the pressure points on the three fingers that I use for holding the ball, but they're still fairly minor.  The fact that I have a nude nail polish on really helps to camouflage the chips, I'm certain that if I were wearing a darker polish they would be more obvious.   Overall, I'm still very happy with how the polish has been wearing on my other fingers, though!  Looks like I'll just be either sticking with nude polishes or painting my nails on Fridays for the rest of the summer though.

Tonight we're headed to Boheme Cafe and Wine Bar to celebrate a friend's birthday.  I think S and I are actually going to head there a little early and try to get some food too, because despite less than ideal kitchen circumstances it's gotten excellent ratings!  The rest of the weekend will include brunch at Revival Market, the first day of the summer hunt for squash blossoms at Canino Market, going to see the movie Chef (which I am very excited about!!), and finally just getting stuff done around the house.  I'm hoping to get the guest bathroom into a presentable mode by the end of the weekend and if I do, I'll be sure to post some updates on my progress next week!

What about you?  Any fun plans this weekend?

(top image from here)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Nailed It!

It's been less than 48 hours, but I'm already obsessed.  After reading about it online, I decided to treat myself to The System - Formula X manicure kit as a little birthday present.  Over a month later I finally find time my schedule and remember to try it out... 

A little background - I used to bite my nails as a kid and still have the bad habit of peeling them and picking at my cuticles.  This does not make for strong or long nails.  And having weak nails, they bend easily so when I attempt to paint them with standard nail polish, my manicure will chip within hours and definitely can't stand up to any type of rigorous work.  Gel manicures were my ultimate savior.  Until you take into account that bad habit of peeling my nails.  Gel manicures peel beautifully and take with them the top layer of your nail, thereby making my nails even weaker.  So I can't get gel manicures too often (not to mention they're a bit pricy).  Ok, so we're back to me having mostly unpainted nails.

The supposed beauty of the Formula X system is that it can be removed like regular nail polish without destroying your nails, but it will last for a week!  I'm only a day and a half into my trial with the product, so I can't yet vouch for the week long claim.  But since I normally can't get a regular manicure to last 12 hours, let alone 36, I am already super impressed.  Plus, within those 36 hours I cleaned dishes and washed my hair, two tasks that will always destroy a standard manicure in my experience.  The secret is in the super sticky base coat and the fast drying formula (within 5 minutes of painting them my nails were completely dry to the touch). As an added perk, the system is also paraben, sulfate, and phthalate free.

The mauve-ish nude that I chose as my first Formula X color has a milky white base, which makes the fast drying coats somewhat uneven, necessitating 3 coats of color instead of the recommended 2 and making the overall application a bit thicker than I would have wanted.  But this was my first experience with this color and I think I can get it better next time.  I'm interested to try one of the non-white based colors next.  I have been able to find two super itsy bitsy, tiny chips on my nails, but they are barely noticeable and as I've already said, WAY better than I would have by this point with normal nail polish.  Overall: I'm super happy with my little birthday investment and can't wait to try out more of the colors (they have a huge selection at Sephora stores)!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Tasty Weekend

S and I had some yummy food this weekend!  We started off on Friday night with our cocktail of the week, a Vodka Thyme Lemonade!  It was super easy to make (especially since I only used half fresh squeezed lemon juice and subbed in bottled lemon juice for the rest) and very refreshing!  I actually wound up adding about a cup of water to mellow the flavor a bit and a little extra vodka too.  You can barely taste the alcohol and we weren't driving, so why not?!?  I also made a spring vegetable risotto with shrimp and and feta cheese (kind of a modified combination of two recipes, here and here) for dinner and an almond berry crumble for dessert.  Yum!  Saturday night we went out for dinner with friends at Kings Biergarten, which is always a winner in our book.  And on Sunday I whipped up a chicken cashew curry to eat while we got our weekly Game of Thrones fix.  I just used leftover rotisserie chicken and added some frozen peas as well to make it easy.  Yum!