Sunday, July 27, 2014

DC Sites & Sangria!

Yesterday (Saturday, 7/26) we were feeling very adventurous. I've been wanting to bring the boys into DC and take some fun pics by the monuments. In fact, I drove into the city on Thursday - but there was no parking anywhere! I ended up going home. The drive itself was fun, and good to get out of the house, but I really wanted some cute pics. So Saturday we did it. We went into the city for about 4 hours, the boys were awesome. We fed them right before we headed in, parked by the National Mall and walked around. We fed them often throughout the day because it was HOT! We didn't want them to get dehydrated.

Here are the Phelan boys in front of the National Gallery of Art - I was surprised they let strollers into a lot of the places. Cool for us! 

We stopped at Starbucks and then took a little breather on the grass at the National Mall. We fed them again there. The boys got TONS of attention all day. We secretly felt like Michelle and Barack (ha!). But really, what is better than one cute baby? TWO cute babiessss!! :)


It was such a hot day walking around DC. We were craving some sangria. When I worked at Vinny T's in Lexington, MA - an Italian restaurant - they had a great recipe for sangria. As a bartender, we would have to make these HUGE batches over a massive hot stove on the ground. At the time, we used burgundy wine, sugar, fruits and fruit juices (apple and orange), cinnamon sticks, triple sec, and topped it off with a little sprite over ice. 

I used a similar recipe here - thinking the cinnamon would make it a bit similar and it was delicious. I tend to use whatever fruits I have in the house like strawberries, cherries, peaches and of course citrus like lemons, limes and oranges. In this case, I used a regular cab sav, cherries and strawberries, sugar, triple sec, then added a little soda water for a little spritz. 

*Serving tip - fill each of the glasses with ice, fruit and a garnish, that way when you pour it, it is ready to serve (and they all look uniform). Oh, and serve the pitcher with a wooden spoon - it helps prevent a big old mess. :)

This is how we felt Sunday morning - no the boys did not have any sangria haha. But mom and dad did! It was a fun night, and we finally finished watching Mary Poppins, too. Wonderful weekend with the fam so far.

As I was blogging this morning, Conor and Caden were stretching out on the quilt from Abby and Jimbo was making an awesome breakfast! Check out the delish meal below.

He scrambled 6 eggs, added some milk and black pepper, and cooked them up a bit before adding some medium-spice salsa and cholula sauce. He then added a little bit of American cheese and salt & pepper. He then browned up some breakfast sausages on the side. YUM!

Happy Sunday Funday everyone! Hoping the rain holds off so we can venture into Old Town tonight for some din din. :)

Shaz & the boys

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Auntie Chrissy Visits Again!

Auntie Chrissy came to visit Conor and Caden again this weekend and they are so happy to have her here. :)  I was telling Chrissy that Friday (7/18) was the most 'regular Shaz' I have felt in a long time because she was of course around, I also went to visit work for a few hours and I cooked up a "from scratch" meal. It was a fun day. She loved seeing the boys, they are much more interactive now - since they are smiling and cooing. They are adorable. We of course had appropriate outfits on waiting for her arrival.

But before Chrissy arrived, we decided that Friday night was going to be our "seafood night". We would plan to stay in with the boys and cook some different seafood that we have never yet cooked. So last night, we were deciding what to make...would we make swordfish? A different kind of salmon? Bam we thought we would cook up some crab cakes. I searched online for a guideline of what to use and had most if not all of the ingredients in my house - we just needed the crab meat. We also opted for some crab legs because we don't often buy those and then we bought two lbs of shrimp - half for shrimp cocktail because that's always a hit and the other half for a shrimp scampi entree.

Here's how our *seafood night* began - Chrissy with a glass of wine and Shaz in the kitchen:

I had most of my ingredients out, which consisted of one pound of crab meat, ritz crackers, red bell peppers, red onion, gala apple, celery, 1 egg, crushed red pepper, cayenne pepper, yellow mustard, mayo, EVOO, salt, pepper and garlic salt. There may have been a few items thrown in there as well, but those are the main ones.

In my bowl, I started with the ritz crackers to crush them up, then added my veggies with discretion as to who actually liked them (and how well). For example, my sis doesn't love celery so I added just one stalk. I diced everything up real small, and added it to the bowl. 

I then added the crab meat, the other ingredients like mayo, the one egg, etc to bind everything together. I made sure everything was stirred real well.

There is sadly no photo for the next step, yet it was probably the most "difficult" of the crab cakes - and messiest, which is why there is no photo. I took a handful of the crab meat concoction, covered it with flour and then placed it in the pan below. I cooked six crab cakes below, 4 minutes on each side - with the pan being piping hot when first placing them in.

I then made a simple tartar dipping sauce for the crab cakes which consisted of light mayo, one sandwich size pickle diced up real fine, salt and pepper. Makes for a great garnish with the lemons too!

While I was making the crab cakes and Jim was de-veining the shrimp, Chrissy made the most amazing shrimp cocktail. It was simple - but sometimes that's the best. All you need is fresh ingredients and it can really be impressive. She took apple cider vinegar and water and brought that to a boil. When Jim was done with the shrimp, she tossed about 1 pound into the water for no more than about 4-5 minutes. I think she said until the water turned cloudy. We took them off, put them on ice and squeezed a few lemons over them. YUM YUM YUM. So fresh.

Chrissy then took out all the crab meat in the crab legs which was a nice time saver when we were at the table. They were great. While she was doing that, I was making our entree - shrimp scampi with fresh shrimp this time. I used the same recipe as this blog post a few days ago. It inspired us to make fresh scampi. I cooked up the other pound of the shrimp that Jim shelled and had ready for us. I heated up some olive oil, garlic and red onion. I threw in the shrimp...for about 1 minute. Then I flipped every single one and cooked them for another 2 minutes on the other side.

I then tossed in the William Hill Chardonnay and brought it to a boil (maybe 45 seconds or so). I added the whole wheat pasta, squeezed a few lemons, added some garlic salt, salt and pepper and stirred it. Then added a little more EVOO and a few more lemons, tossed it around and covered it while we enjoyed our apps and wine! Fun night when Auntie Chrissy visits!! 

Oh - and the boys slept 9:30PM to 3:30AM. Amazing.

Flashback photo to Abby's wedding almost exactly a month ago. While we were eating dinner, she texted me this pic. Clearly her wedding was a BLAST and Jim couldn't have had more fun. Thanks for the great time and the pic, Abby! :)


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Shrimp Scampi

I feel like shrimp is a great addition to summertime dishes. Sure, you can have it any time during the year, but for some reason it feels like summer to me. In a recent blog post I mentioned I had a fantastic Greek salad with grilled shrimp on a patio in Old Town Alexandria - to me, that is SO summer.

I have also been really diggin shrimp cocktail at the house. We don't really have time to do happy hour or apps out at restaurants these days, so we often make a few apps or have wine and cheese, or recently, wine and shrimp cocktail. Well, we happened to have a shrimp cocktail in the fridge and rather than having that as an app when Jim gets home from work, I decided to whip up a quick and easy dinner. Sometimes I am intimidated to cook seafood - so how simple is this shrimp scampi idea? There is a paleo shrimp scampi idea under my recipe tab, so if you are in the mood for shrimp - both are great options.

I took out all my ingredients, and then immediately started boiling some water. I knew the boys were going to be up any minute from their nap, so I tried to work quickly. ;)

As the water was boiling, I heated up some extra virgin olive oil and threw in some red onion and some minced garlic. As soon as that was done, I poured in some chardonnay from one of our favorite Napa vineyards, "William Hill". My motto is - if you won't drink it, then don't cook with it. Use wine that you actually like - better ingredients make for better dishes. 

After the onions and garlic softened for about five minutes, I added the wine, and also some lemon juice and a touch more EVOO. I let the wine reduce a bit and then added my whole wheat pasta to my "sauce". All of that took maybe 6-8 minutes. I stirred it a few times, sliced up a few lemons and squeezed it over the pasta. I also added some salt, pepper and garlic salt at this point.

Then I added a bit of crushed red pepper...

And I sliced up a few cherry tomatoes for not only color, but also a fresh burst of flavor. Tomatoes also feel like summer to me. I enjoy some scampi dishes that add tomatoes...but if you don't like them, then skip them.

I then popped off the tails of the shrimp and tossed them in! Stirred it a few times with the burner on real low. You don't want to overcook the shrimp. If you overcook it, it becomes rubbery and rather unappealing.

I added a few more lemon slices and some parmesan cheese for a garnish...and all done! This dish seriously took less than 12 minutes to prep and cook. So simple.

All the more time for some cuddlin' with my babies!!! They were so patient while I was cooking. Yes, they both woke up in the 12 minutes it took to cook it, haha. So we are now hanging out in the living room and they are brainstorming some blogging ideas for Momma! :)

Til next time!

Visitors visitors visitors

We had a lot going on over the past week. The whole Phelan family came down to visit the boys and to attend Jim's cousin Liz's wedding on Saturday, 7/12/14 in Washington, DC. What a beautiful bride, gorgeous cathedral and stunning cocktail hour/venue. It was quite impressive! We were greeted at the cocktail hour with a tray of white wine, champagne and gin rickeys. Yum. We were fortunately all able to attend the wedding due to Aunt Joyce and Uncle Den stepping in to babysit C-Squared. They thankfully enjoyed themselves and A and B were on their best behavior - proud moment for Mom and Dad.

Our fun filled week began last Wednesday, 7/9 when my mother-in-law Irene came down from Boston. She planned to come a little earlier than everyone else so she could spend some time with her grandsons. It all went by way too fast, but it was so fun. I must say, our place here in DC is much more conducive for visitors than LA. Jim's Mom, Dad, brother Joe and sister Theresa were all here for the wedding and it didn't feel crowded one bit. They were in fact quite a huge help and I miss them already!

Here are a few fav snapshots from the weekend.  Auntie Theresa and Conor having dinner outside at Chadwick's in Old Town Alexandria.

Daddy and his boys outside on the patio at Chadwick's. I had one of the best Greek salads with grilled shrimp...not to mention Sunday was half-off bottles of wine. Win/win.

Here are Nana and Caden snuggling up!

Mellow yellow! Uncle Joe wanted to match the kids on Sunday afternoon. ;)

Daddy's foot and Caden's foot...almost the same size.

My big Sox fans!!!!!

And here are some great pics from the wedding on Saturday evening. We had a blast. Thank you again to Joyce and Den for watching Conor and Caden..they loved having you! And congratulations to the bride and groom...we hope you are loving every second of your honeymoon!!

I made a cute little compilation of C-squared pics to celebrate 10 weeks today!! Amazing. They are just growing up way too fast.

And of course on Thursday, July 10, 2014 Jimmy and I celebrated our four year wedding anniversary. I still can't believe it has been four years since these photos were taken. Absolutely feels like yesterday. I am hands down the luckiest person in the world to have such an incredible husband and daddy to my little twin cherubs. Can't wait to celebrate at the Hyatt again this year when we go home next month! Love you! Thank you for being you and thank you for being so thoughtful! :)