Foodie Finds | Aug 24

Strozzapreti with Oxtail Ragu and Horseradish Crumbs | Cottage Pie | Spaghetti Carbonara

Happy hump-day everyone and welcome to the second week of my new Foodie Finds series where I share with you my favorite food blogs that inspire my kitchen each week and the recipes you can find there! I just love food and over the years I’ve had a lot of fun honing my skills in the kitchen right along next to my husband (it’s kind of our thing). So, get comfy and I hope you find some inspiration from these great fellow foodies!

FOODIE FINDS LINKS

Bon Appetit Magazine – I love this magazine subscription because not only are there great recipe ideas, but some pretty great articles and featured restaurants. One of my favorite recipes from BA that we have tried more than once is this recipe for Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwiches and Strozzapreti with Oxtail Ragu and Horseradish Crumbs (photo above). The oxtail just falls off the bone and the savory broth will have you looking for french bread to soak it up with.

Gimme Some Oven – Ali is the food blog goddess over at Gimme Some Oven and you can pretty much find anything of hers all over Pinterest. You could seriously blindly click somewhere on her blog and find a new and delicious recipe to try. Some of my personal favorites include Baked Eggplant Parmesan, White Chicken Enchilada Casserole, and I just stumbled upon this Crab and Avocado Enchilada recipe that has me watering at the mouth.

Little Broken – Katya has a great food blog and if you’re looking for a delicious (and easy to prepare) weeknight fish recipe this Artichoke and Spinach Roasted Salmon is filling and the cream cheese with the artichokes and fresh spinach makes the topping so creamy and delicious. Salmon is an easy fish to cook and I am always looking for new ways to prepare it. Oh, and these Coconut Peach Muffins look absolutely divine and if you’re looking for a recap of her most popular recipes of 2015 check out her list here.

Dinner, Then Dessert – Sabrina is a private cook and fellow foodie who is behind the screen at Dinner, Then Dessert. Her Halal Cart Middle Eastern Chicken and Rice is perfect for scratching that middle eastern cuisine itch – especially since we don’t have a restaurant near us. It was surprisingly easy to do and I love a good sauce and the Greek yogurt based sauce is so yummy I could put it on anything. And before you leave her page you should check out her awesome index for copycat recipes. I’m most looking forward to try her Panda Express Shanghai Angus Steak.

Have you tried any recipes from these food blogs? Which are your favorite?

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Why I’m Not Voting This Year

Image Source: http://inhomelandsecurity.com
Image Source: http://inhomelandsecurity.com

Every four years it is known as our American duty to vote. Since turning 18 I have participated by voting in three presidential elections, two of which the candidate that I voted for won the White House. I remember feeling pride in placing my votes because I felt like it was something that women and others have fought so hard for the right to do. I felt as though my vote really counted and I voted for someone who best represented my views, values, and could be the best representation not only for the people like myself, but of America on the global front.

One day while my boyfriend (then eventual husband) and I were walking around D.C. on our way to lunch I remember being shocked to hear that he didn’t vote – even as an active service member. It was the election year between Obama’s second term and Romney and I spouted the same judgmental phrases that any voter would say to non-voters, like ‘if you don’t vote you can’t complain’ or even ‘it’s your Constitutional right to vote!’ But, it took almost four years since that conversation for me to realize he was onto something.

This year I saw a much different side to our government.

This year I saw Congress fail the very people they’re supposed to represent. Gun regulation bills being shot down (no pun intended) even though we, the people, have made a very public declaration that it’s what we want and need. How many instances of mass shootings do we need to finally get this issue under control? How many lives lost? Or the fact that Republicans and Democrats can’t seem to work together to pass laws in Congress that are supposed to better our nation. Instead they spend a lot of time blocking each other and can’t seem to agree on anything. Agendas are being pushed, lobbyists are pumping money to buy votes, and there’s a reason House of Cards is such a great show – I mean, look at all of the inspiration the writers have!

This year I saw a reality TV host and rich businessman become the GOPs nominee for this years presidential election. I also saw a woman for the first time clinch the Democratic nomination, a historical milestone for our country (although decades behind many other countries), but overshadowed by her alleged Benghazi errors. I see a country divided and for the first time I can’t justify a vote for either one of the candidates in good conscience – so, this year I’ve decided that I’m not going to vote.

This decision is a very conscious and researched choice and by no means do I mean to offend others and their stances on this subject. However, here are a few of my opinions about the matter – in hopes that it stirs conversation rather than ignorance.

A little history on voting.
Our system has an Electoral College who decide who the president will be regardless of the popular vote in November. When you vote on election day you are actually voting for the candidate’s electors from your state who will in turn promise to vote for the candidate you selected. The system was put in place to be a checks and balances of sorts of both the government and the common people who are placing their votes. So, at the end of the day I know I’m not directly voting for the candidate of my choice; I’m voting for someone else I’ve never heard of to promise me that they’ll uphold my vote.

It’s my right to not vote.
Just as I have the right to vote, I also have the right to not vote. I shouldn’t be ostracized for making this personal decision to not participate in an election where I can’t wholeheartedly support the person I place my vote for.

I’m not disrespecting our military.
Again, service members are fighting for our freedoms, one of which include making the conscious choice to vote or to not vote.

I’m not voting for ‘a lesser of two evils’.
I’m sorry, but this whole idea about voting for someone who you think is a lesser of two evils still means evil wins. Instead, by opting out of this election I can at least know that I had no part in electing someone that most American’s despise and believe would fail them as their Commander In Chief.

I’m not active in politics.
I don’t watch endless hours of MSNBC, CNN, Fox News or any other news networks. I don’t even have cable. I don’t believe the news we see on the TV is a reliable source for what’s going on in the world let alone here on the home-front. So with this being said, how could I possibly make a truly informed decision about who our next president should be? It says something when the majority of our eligible voting population is getting their ‘news’ from Buzzfeed or late night talk shows attempting to inform, but sway, their audiences…*ahem, Chelsea Handler*.

*I actually love Chelsea’s new show on Netflix even though it’s very political heavy. But, even she says that this year it’s like voting for the lesser of two evils (see my stance above).

I don’t complain anyways.
Lastly, the ‘if you don’t vote you can’t complain’ phrase I’ve even muttered to my husband so many years ago is a common reoccurring notion. Too bad people are going to complain regardless of who is elected and I for one can at least know I had no part in it and walk away with a clear conscience. There’s no way to please everyone and despite who wins you will still see a division within our country.

Regardless of your political alliances, are you voting this year? What are your thoughts on our current election year?

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A Staycation In Cambria | Part Three

Today in part three of our staycation in Cambria, I am bringing you along to our visit of Hearst Castle, which is the 250,000 acre estate of William Randolph Hearst who is the man behind the famous publishing company that brings you Good Housekeeping and many others. He spent years designing and redesigning this estate and even died before its ultimate completion.

The experience of touring the grounds and taking a glimpse into his ostentatious lifestyle was unlike anything I had seen before besides Versailles Palace a number of years ago; however very similar on many accounts. There were priceless artifacts that spanned the gothic, medieval, and victorian eras as well as sculptures from Greek and Roman times. His art collection was vast and one could understand that you would need a home just as grand to store and display it all.

Although atop the hill was very hot that day, I am thankful for the opportunity to tour this amazingly beautiful place with my little family. Here are a few snapshots we were able to capture during our time there.

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The Neptune Pool was drained due to restoration, but also doing their part to conserve water during the severe drought affecting California. The pools actually are hooked up to estate reservoirs in attempts to recycle their water.

**This is the same pool that was featured in Lady Gaga’s 2014 G.U.Y music video. She actually contributed a lot to the Hearst Castle Preservation Foundation and other community organizations during her visit.

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Our guide told us that this estate was built for entertaining – if it wasn’t already obvious. Hearst invited the who’s-who of his time to come out and spend a week or so with him and his estate allowed for his guests to keep busy. She said that he never indented this to be a ‘bed and breakfast’ sort of thing where you sleep in all day and over-indulge all night. During the time of it’s operation the grounds had pergolas to walk through, horseback riding, and even his own personal zoo for the entertainment of his guests. I could only imagine what staying here would have been like in its heyday.

Gorgeous wall embellishments in the grand dining hall.

Because you can’t have too many pools…

Another filming location for Lady Gaga’s music video.
The indoor Roman pool, which was just as grandiose as every other room.

Hearst Castle has many tour options for their visitors and we went for the grand rooms tour, which took us to the main house, Casa Grande (#obvi), where we got to see what I call the ‘cocktail hour’ room (the entrance hall), and the dining hall. To be honest that was about it because once we hit the billiards room Greyson’s cheeks were flush so we took him outside to get some air and change his diaper. It was definitely hot there and a home with no air conditioning isn’t fun with a baby. However, I absolutely loved my time there and hope that if you have any traveling plans in the future be sure to stop by to see this amazing estate!

On our way home we, of course, stopped off in Avila for a little wine tasting and lunch on the beach front. We always love making a stop here either on our way up or on our way back home and you can see why. The beaches are always filled and their pier is fun to walk down so that you can get a great view of this little beach town nestled between the rocks.

Avila Beach

Baby G in Avila

Happy Friday, everyone!

A Staycation In Cambria | Part Two

A Staycation In Cambria | Part One

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Foodie Finds | A Weekly Food Post

Stop by every Wednesday to see the foodie finds I have for each week! Be inspired for dinner and have joy in what you prepare for your family!food·ie
noun – a person with a particular interest in food; a gourmet.

I consider myself to be a pretty good home cook. Not so Master Chef worthy yet, but I find cooking to be a fun way to express myself and I am always on the lookout for new recipes to try every week for my family. I wasn’t always a good cook – I would rather opt for takeout or grab dinner at a local chain restaurant simply for it’s convenience. It wasn’t until I met my husband, the true foodie, who introduced me to high quality foods, tasting menus, and the appreciation for complex flavors. He introduced me to the appreciation for food preparation and the concept that not everything should be cooked on high heat or quickly. Often times how well a dish comes out is it’s time and temperature – a mantra he lives and cooks by. Over the years I’ve had fun in the kitchen and we both have enjoyed crafting up new meals to share with each other and look forward to sharing these passions with our son!

Since I’m not shy about sharing a few of my favorite new recipe finds or even a snap of my home attempts on Instagram, I figured why not start a weekly blogroll post dedicated to my favorite food blog finds. From savory dinners to sweet deserts and cocktails in-between, stop by every Wednesday for my Foodie Finds and find your own inner home cook!

FOODIE FIND LINKS

Broma Bakery – Sarah has THE cutest food blog and her deserts are pretty much to-die for. These cupcakes modeled after one of my favorite iced coffee drinks makes me want to eat them right off the screen. And speaking of iced coffee…this recipe for cold brew looks absolutely creamy and delicious. Oh, and if you needed another reason to buy Nutella at the store this week, this fudge is that reason.

Cooking Classy – Jaclyn and her food blog has done it again and her Baked Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce was a huge hit for our family last week. We actually loved it so much I decided to put it on the menu again this week! I’ve wanted to add more fresh fish to our diet since we tend to be very meat and vegetable heavy – and this recipe is perfect. That dill sauce can seriously be put on anything it’s so good!

Tastes Better From Scratch – I can’t agree more with a food blog name like that! I found this blog when I was searching for a homemade recipe for the popular Mexican drink Horchata. I first had it when a girlfriend of mine ordered it once and I had a sip and was hooked from then on. Since I’ve had it at all of my favorite Mexican restaurants I just had to try and make it myself at home and this recipe turned out refreshing and easy to make!

Smitten Kitchen – I adore this food blog for its vegetarian dishes like this one we made last night. It has an extensive recipe index and I love that they provide photos for step-by-step directions! I’ve tried a few of SK recipes and every time they came out tasting delicious and only using the simplest of ingredients.

Have you tried any recipes from these food blogs? Which are your favorite?


 

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