Saturday, February 22, 2014

Peanut Butter Cookies!

Who doesn't love a homemade peanut butter cookie?

As you may recall, I am not typically a big baker, but as I was reading a few of my fav blogs this morning, I noticed that Jenna (the blogger of Eat Live Run) posted a yummy sounding PB cookie recipe. Coincidentally, she is also pregnant with [one] baby boy. I checked out the list of ingredients, the prep and the process...and figured I would go for it.

Here is where I do most of my blogging...on our 52" TV in the living room. Jim takes over the office, so this is what I get to use.

 
I started out with two baking sheets, parchment paper and all the ingredients. In case you can't see the list in the picture above, I listed out the ingredients below.
 
Ingredients:
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla

 
Jim wanted to help, so here's a shot of him rolling out the parchment paper on both of the baking sheets.

 
 He was VERY proud.

 
The directions were to preheat oven to 350 degrees, and blend together the butter, brown sugar and peanut butter until it was fluffy. I don't personally have a food processor as the photo suggested, so I used my hand mixer.  Once that is all fluffy, then add the one egg and vanilla and mix until just combined.


 

 
In a separate bowl, I whisked together the flour, sea salt and baking soda (not pictured). A trick my mom taught me is to add HALF of the dry ingredients to the wet and mix together. Then add the remainder of the dry ingredients until a dough forms. It's easier then just immediately tossing both together and trying to get the dough to form.
 
I used an ice cream scoop to make these little mounds and placed them about 3″ apart on the baking sheet.
 
 
I then used a wet fork to pat them down gently.


I baked them for about 15 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. My first batch were massive, so I made sure to make smaller mounds for my next two batches. This recipe should yield about 2 dozen good sized cookies.

 
Finished product! Jim loved them!! I'm not going to lie, I searched the house for chocolate morsals because I thought that would be amazing...but I didn't have any.  

 
xo,
Shaz

**Flashback photo of Julie, me and Katie P at the North End in Boston! Cafe Pompeii, I think. :)

Shaz the Explorer....in MdR

Yesterday I wanted to venture into the Marina and take pictures of all the boats and scenery. I didn't really feel up to it, so I walked over there today instead. Jimmy helped me map out my walk when I got back -- almost 2 and 1/2 miles!

 
I started off the day with this bran muffin and a hearty protein shake. 

 
I began walking down Maxella Ave, which has the "new" Marina Marketplace (it's not really new anymore) and it's awesome to walk to the Yardhouse, Equinox, Pier 1 and other restaurants/stores. They are also putting in a Ruth's Chris retaurant soon.

 
I soon reached the bike path which travels along the marina. You could either go right and head north up to the Venice pier, which we've done tons of times to go to Cabo or you can go left and bike down to Playa and/or the Southbay. Both are fun options. I opted to head south.

 
And I walked along this "Marina Walk Promenade"...

 
It was a beautiful morning -- not many people out and about, but there were plenty of boats!

 
I eventually made it to my destination, this park where they shoot tons of scenes for movies and TV shows. I've definitely seen this park (and the white structure you will see later) in 'Private Practice' and 'Revenge' and maybe some other shows.


Entering the park here...


 

I saw a few yoga classes, "mommy and me" classes and some dog training classes going on. Apparently this is where all the people were at -- the bike path was empty.

 
Here's that white structure. Does it look familiar to anyone? Keep it in mind the next time you are watching one of those shows!


Here's a south shot -- looking at Playa del Rey which is where we used to live.

 
And here's a view looking towards the marina and the other high rises.

 
Hi to my little buddy who hung out with me while I sat on a bench and had some water.


 
I liked the shot below because you can see the lighthouse down by Fisherman's Village. This area is where they shoot the "banana stand" scenes in 'Arrested Development'. Jim and I go here all the time for brunch at Shanghai Reds or when we rent boats/kayaks. It's a real cute, quaint and fun area.

 
 
xo,
Shaz
 
 
 
**Flashback photo of me and Jim at Shanghais for brunch. We are going there next weekend to celebrate him being DONE with the bar exam. All are welcome!
 

 


Friday, February 21, 2014

Chicken Wings!

I had a pretty lazy day today. I felt real tired and a little uncomfortable. I am fortunate to have had today off, and now the weekend is ahead. Good news is, this is the LAST weekend Jim has to study before he takes the CA Bar Exam on Tuesday. It's a three day exam -- so I am dropping him off at his hotel on Sunday and will pick him up on Thursday when he's finished.

Here's how his last three months of studying have looked (and the three and a half years of law school before that). Good luck, Jimbo!!!!

 
And this is what I do to keep myself entertained while he studies....

 
I also took a picture of the high rises in the Marina, this is pretty much what we look at from our condo. Sweet view.

 
I started craving some chicken wings in the early afternoon, so per usual, we walked over to the grocery store and grabbed some chicken wings, milk, bread and deli meats so I could make Jim a few sandwiches for next week. He literally cannot be too prepared for this exam.
 
Here's how the sandwiches came out. They weren't anything fancy -- just some peppered turkey, provolone, spinach, mayo, mustard on Italian bread....6 of them. He loves the simple stuff.
 
 
Now onto my chicken wings. I looked up a few recipes online, because I knew I wanted to make them in the crockpot. You all know I don't love recipes, but I grabbed a few ideas for ingredients and timing, etc. I decided on the ingredients below.

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb Chicken Wings
  • 1 cup Soy sauce
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1/3 cup Brown Sugar (packed)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup Pineapple juice
  • 1 tsp Garlic Salt
  • 1 tsp Ground Ginger

 
Now most recipes called for marinating the chicken wings in the fridge for a few hours, and then cook in the slow cooker for 4-5 hours. Since it was already after 12pm, I figured I would just toss it all in the crockpot -- I knew it would marinate and cook in plenty of time.
 
Here's a shot when I first put them in the crockpot and their progression as they cooked.




I initially intended on laying them out on this baking sheet and broiling them for a 10-15 minutes to get that sticky/crispy texture. However, as I took them out (about 5 1/2 hours), the meat was literally falling off the bone. I knew I needed to rethink this whole dinner idea.

 
So instead, I grabbed a "boil-in-a-bag" rice (I like to keep staples like that on hand) and some of the pineapple from the '1/2 cup pineapple juice' the original recipe intended. I used my hands to take ALL the chicken off the bone, and made a pile of the edible pieces.
 
I took out two bowls, divided up the bag of rice and the chicken and then added some 'au jus' from the crockpot and a few pineapple pieces for a garnish and flavor. It was delicious...and not to mention quite different for me!
 
I loved the spontaneity of this dish and the flavors were so amazing together.

 
I hope you enjoy this one! It was super simple to make - just took a little bit of time as most crockpot dishes do. This will be a good option once A and B are here.

Have a great weekend. See you next time!

xo,
Shaz

P.S. I am going to start adding a "flashback photo" with a caption to each of my blog posts. Here's one of Nicole, my friend Keyla (from Pepperdine) and I when we hiked Temescal Canyon in the Pacific Palisades near Malibu; early May 2010.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Life's a Beach...Hermosa Beach!

Nicole and I spent the day in Hermosa Beach yesterday. We got pedicures, took a few pics around the pier and had a late lunch with a pretty view. She taught me a few things about the camera which was helpful. Here are a few shots from throughout the day.


This is a picture of the Hermosa Beach pier, about halfway up the shopping/restaurants area. We were walking towards the water at this point. 


Fat Face Fenners Fishack Fishook is known as "FFFFF" and is a Boston bar out here in LA. We haven't been here much, but figured it would be a nice memory to have. :)


Here's another view of the pier, I am looking back towards the street this time instead of towards the water.


Some volleyball action was going on -- beautiful day, except you can't see Malibu off into the distance.


I took this shot on the pier, facing south, looking towards Palos Verdes (PV).


Nicole noticed these cool little boats, so I took a pic. I like all the colors in this photo, including the houses in the background. Yellow and blue make a pretty combo.


I thought it would be pretty to take a pic of the benches with the sun shimmering over the water. The sunset was real pretty later on in the day. I witnessed it while driving home, so I wasn't really able to take any pics.


The ocean. :)


I tried taking a pic to show "the marina" area -- but you really can't see past El Porto, which is North Manhattan Beach area...and the Chevron refinery. Anyway, past those smoke stacks is Marina del Rey.


Surfer totally wiped out...it's that "western swell".


Pier Ave in HB. :)


I looked all day for a long horizontal sign that said "Hermosa Beach", but the only things that had "Hermosa Beach" on them were the trash cans...so I opted for these cutie little signs in an adorable little shop in HB instead. Chrissy -- I looked for some HB koozies and didn't see any! :(


Cool mural near where we parked.


And here's that sunset I was talking about. I almost pulled over to take some pics, but Vista del Mar is a darn death trap -- especially over a long weekend. I am sure I would've been hit by a car.


I hope you enjoyed my first day out on the town taking pics. Hopefully I learn a few things and get more familiar with the camera. I loved doing it! And I am sure we will appreciate the Southbay pics after we move, too. Thanks to Nicole for a fun day!

xo,
Shaz