Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my Dad’s birthday and since he is my #1 follower and a #1 Dad too, I wanted to wish him a Very HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Those who are close to me know that I am a daddy’s girl (only child) and my dad has always been my best friend. We share a bond that most could only hope for. Every day, especially on his birthday, I’m reminded how grateful I am that he is my dad. If all dads were like him, the world would be a very different and much better place.

Here are some of my favorite pics of dad and me:


mom, dad and me at the zoo


dad and me in Brazil


at Marcello's in 2004


Argentina 2005


us doing the MySpace pose

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Torrance Memorial Medical Center Holiday Festival

We're (Torrance Memorial Medical Center) having are annual Holiday Festival, December 1st through the 6th. Celebrating 26 years, this South Bay community tradition is the perfect way to kick-off the holiday season. I have worked for Torrance Memorial for over ten years now and I always look forward to our Holiday Festival (formerly known as The Festival of Trees). You and your family will be amazed by all the beautiful, sometimes crazy themed trees on display; they have activities for all ages and Santa shows up every year, ready to take pictures with the kids.



When:
Tuesday, December 1st through Sunday, December 6th 
$5 adults
$2 for children 4 to 12
Free for children under 3

Where:
Torrance Memorial Medical Center
3330 Lomita Blvd
Torrance, CA 90505
Festival is located on the corner of Skypark and Medical Center Drive

Friday, November 27, 2009

Our Thanksgiving...

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, are little family of 10 sure did. This was JD’s first Thanksgiving and it was my first time hosting too. I thought I was going to be stressed out, but I wasn’t at all, I prepped everything and even managed to set the table, the night before. Thanksgiving day I was set to cook and everything went smoothly, although I will admit, my yams were giving me a hard time at first. Everything turned out great and we had such a nice night, that I really hope to host again next year!

Here is our Thanksgiving 2009 in Pictures:
 
 
 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I am most thankful for...

Thanksgiving, is about more than being thankful for one day; it is about being thankful for an entire lifetime. We should be thankful for all the things in our life, no matter how big they are, or how small. So today on Thanksgiving, I encourage you to notice and reflect on the people and things in life, that you're really thankful for. 

Here are people and things in my life that I am most thankful for:

the hubby
who has taught me that life and love doesn't have to be complicated!


  
the baby
who has proven to me that unconditional love, does exists!



my mommy and daddy
who molded me into the woman I am today!


  
the hubby's family
who accepted me as one of their own!


  
my closest friends
who always look out for me and now for JD too!





for our home
it's not a house yet, but it's our home!



for my job 
as the unemployment rate rises!



God bless and Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Twilight Barbies!

Yes! I collect Barbies and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I have been a collector since 1998, when I came across a mint condition, Lucy Does a TV Commercial doll, at a swap meet (I’m a big I Love Lucy fan). I just received my Barbie® Collector Catalog this week and sure enough Twilight has officially made it into the Barbie world. Although I’m not a Twilight fan myself (after watching True Blood, everything else is a bit G rated), I know many of my friend's and coworker’s daughters are. So if you’re looking for the perfect Christmas gift for  your Twilighter, you can find these dolls for around $25.00 each at BarbieCollector.com, Walmart.com and Target.

Twilight's Edward and Bella




Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Herb Roasted Turkey Breast

If your family loves Thanksgiving turkey as much as mine does, then this recipe will come in handy; it's the perfect addition to keep the family from fighting over the turkey breast! I will definitely add this to my Thanksgiving dinner this year and whatever is left over, is for empanadas.

Herb Roasted Turkey Breast
Featured on Rachael Ray's Thanksgiving in 60

Ingredient:
  • 1 small (golf-ball sized) onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 lemon, scrubbed clean
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • Large handful fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 1/2 cup, from 12 stems)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling pan
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
  • 6 fresh bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 boneless turkey breast halves, skin on (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds each)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Oil a roasting pan and set it aside.

Put the onion into the bowl of a mini food processor. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the zest from the lemon in thin strips, being careful not to cut into the bitter white pith. Add the lemon zest to the food processor and reserve the whole lemon for another use. Chop the onion and lemon zest until fine. Add the sage, parsley, olive oil, and 1 teaspoon salt and pulse until it forms a coarse paste.

Put 2 of the bay leaves and the butter into a small pan and heat over medium-low heat until the butter is bubbling. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Put the turkey breasts on a work surface. Carefully run your fingers between the skin and the flesh from 1 end, being careful not to pull it completely off, creating a pocket. Season the turkey breasts generously with salt and pepper. Stuff half of the herb paste under the skin of each breast, and spread it evenly under the skin. Transfer the breasts to the roasting pan, and slide 2 bay leaves underneath each one. (The heat of the pan will release the bay leaf oils and flavor the breast.) Using a pastry brush, baste the breasts with half of the bay butter. 

Place the turkey in the oven and immediately decrease the temperature to 400 degrees F. After 20 minutes, baste the turkey breasts with the remaining butter, and roast for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until cooked through, and a thermometer placed in the thickest part of the breast registers 170 degrees F.

Remove from the oven, transfer to a platter, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.




Monday, November 23, 2009

a day with my dad...

Sunday JD and I went to my parents house, to have my dad work on the hubby’s 4Runner (his new toy). Although my dad works in healthcare, he is a mechanic by trade, he traded in his wrench for latex gloves about 20 years ago, but still enjoys working on cars (with latex gloves). As I child, I was my dad’s assistant, I grew up visiting junk yards, changing oil and replacing brakes; who would have guessed that I’m a bit of a grease monkey. So while JD took a nap with Aba (abuela; my mom), dad and I headed to the junk yard, just like old times. After we fixed the 4Runner, we spent the whole day hanging out together. I have to admit I was starting to miss those “daddy-daughter” days, so this was a real treat.



 
JD watching Abu attentively

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ultimate Pumpkin Recipe:Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

My friend Terry requested this recipe, so I decided why not post it, in case anyone else was looking for a delectable Thanksgiving dessert. This is by far my favorite pumpkin recipe. I make this recipe a few times a year, especially during Halloween and Thanksgiving. This is of course a Paula Deen recipe and believe me, it can make even a pumpkin hater; love pumpkin.

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

Crust:
1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar (I use 10 oz to cut down on the sweetness)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to over bake as the center should be a little gooey.


Serve with fresh whipped cream.



6 to 8 servings

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Easy Stuffed Bell Peppers

This is one of my own creations, I love sausage stuffing and I also love bell peppers, so a few years ago I started making this recipe for the holidays and now the family requests them every year. The great thing is, they're easy to make but they look like you spent a lot of time making them. 

Sausage Stuffing Stuffed Bell Peppers  
  • 4 large or 6 medium red, green or yellow bell peppers 
  • 1 box Stove Top Stuffing (your preferred flavor) 
  • 1 lb Italian sausage, casing removed
  • ½ tsp salt 
  • ¼ cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
  • cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Halve the peppers lengthwise or you can cut the top part of the peppers and remove seeds, stems and membranes (lengthwise you get two servings). Boil the halved/whole peppers in salted water for 3 minutes, and then drain on paper towels. 

Brown the sausage; drain off grease, place in a bowl and set aside. Cook the stuffing according to the package directions. Once the stuffing is done, add the sausage and mix together gently.

Place peppers cut side up in a casserole dish, spray them with cooking spray, so they do not dry out.  Fill the peppers with sausage stuffing mixture and sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!


Friday, November 20, 2009

Fun and Free this Saturday!



Griffith Observatory
2800 East Observatory Road
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(213) 473-0800

If you’ve never visited Griffith Observatory, now is the time to go. They’re holding their monthly Public Star Party, this Saturday November 21st. Admission and Parking are always free and best of all it's kid friendly (even JD loved looking around)!

Free public star parties are held monthly with the assistance of the Los Angeles Astronomical Society and the Los Angeles Sidewalk Astronomers at the Griffith Observatory from 2:00 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. This gives the whole family a chance to look at the sun, moon, visible planets, and other objects, to try out a variety of telescopes, and to talk to knowledgeable amateur astronomers about the sky and their equipment.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

he looks just like his papa...

I had to post this picture of JD, it's amazing how big he's getting, he looks like a little man and everyday he looks more and more like his dad.


The mommy's big boy,  making a mess of his crib (which he never actually sleeps in)!

Cheers!

This year for Thanksgiving I decided to use wine goblets instead of wine glasses (a wine goblet is really a wine glass that is able to hold a larger amount of wine, usually over four ounces). Goblets can be elegant but practical, especially because a goblet is a nice way for everyone to enjoy their preferred drink, without having to set out more than one glass (which leaves more room for food on the table). I found these goblets at TJ Maxx.

Capri 12 ounce Wine Goblets
$6.99 (set of four)




I also stopped by Target a few days ago and came across these plastic tumblers, which are perfect for kids on Thanksgiving; they're, unbreakable and super cute. I plan on using them as dessert glasses for warm apple cider or milk, for those non coffee drinkers.

Floral Double Old Fashioned Glass
$1.99 each


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Yummiest Mac and Cheese

On Sunday JD and I hung out with the aunties and Gabi made the best macaroni and cheese casserole I’ve ever tasted. So I had to share the recipe (with her permission of course)!

 Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:
  • 16 ounce package uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 4 tbsp. butter, divided
  • 12 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 12 ounces grated pepper jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 8 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the inside of a 13x9 inch baking dish. Heat a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and boil until just tender, stirring occasionally. Drain the macaroni well.

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium high heat until crisp. Drain the bacon on paper towels. Once cooled, chop the bacon, and set aside.   

Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook about 5 minutes until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in the flour, mustard, salt and pepper and cook 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and cook until smooth and slightly thickened, whisking constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and add the pepper jack and parsley. Stir until the cheese is melted, then stir in the macaroni and the bacon.

Spoon the macaroni and cheese into the prepared dish. Melt the remaining 2 tbsp. butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook about 3 minutes until browned, stirring frequently. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake about 20 minutes until the pasta is heated through and golden brown. Serve the macaroni and cheese immediately.


 Serves 6

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Do you DSW?

What woman doesn’t love shoes and as a new mommy, one of the most important things is comfortable shoes. I personally love wearing heels, but the last thing I want to do, is fall flat on my face while holding a baby. So I decided I wanted some tennis shoes (like Keds or Vans) that I could wear while trekking around with JD and I found the cutest, funkiest ones at DSW and they are super comfortable too. If you’ve never been to DSW, stop by; they have hundreds of shoes, at really low prices (don’t forget to check out the clearance section).

Keen Coronado Tennis Shoes
at DSW
Retail: $74.00
I paid: $30.00
 

Monday, November 16, 2009

Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Gratin

This is one of the dishes I can't live without during the holidays, I first made this recipe 3 years ago and I've been making it every Thanksgiving since. So I thought this would be a great time to share the recipe, you may never use regular potatoes again after trying this Au Gratin!

Ingredients:
  •  1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed 
  • 1 pound peeled butternut squash, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 pound peeled and trimmed sweet potatoes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese

Direction:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small pot bring cream and garlic just to a simmer. Remove from heat and set aside. Butter a 9″x13″ shallow casserole dish or gratin dish of similar size and set aside.

Thinly slice the squash and sweet potatoes (no more than 1/8 inch thick) and keep them separate from one another. Measure out chopped thyme, salt, pepper, and shredded cheese and have them handy. Stir the cooling cream to help prevent skin from forming.

In the buttered casserole dish, spread half of the sliced butternut squash out in a single overlapping layer. Sprinkle the squash with 1/3 of the salt, pepper, and thyme and then about 1/2 cup of the grated cheese. Using half of the sliced sweet potatoes, build a new overlapping layer. Again sprinkle with 1/3 of the seasonings and 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Using the remaining squash, make another layer and sprinkle the last third of the seasonings and another 1/2 cup of cheese (you should have about 1/2 cup cheese remaining). Use the last of the sweet potatoes to make one final layer on top. Stir the garlic cream mixture then pour it evenly over the top of the gratin, being sure to cover the top layer of sweet potatoes. Shake the dish gently to distribute the cream. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

Cover the dish with foil and bake in the middle of a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, move the gratin to the top 1/3 of the oven and bake, uncovered, for an additional 20 minutes or until the top is nicely browned and the vegetables are tender when pierced with a sharp knife. You may also place it under the broiler for a few minutes if you wish the top to be a deeper brown (but watch it closely!). Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes before slicing.


Yield: 12 servings

Date Night at L.A. Live!

I have to start of by saying, I am so thankful that JD has two sets of grandparents who are willing to watch him everyday if they could (they practically force us to go on date nights)! Since the hubby works in Downtown L.A., he comes across a lot of interesting places in L.A. to hang out. Friday was our date night and we headed to L.A. Live, the premier sports and entertainment center of downtown Los Angeles. We had been to Katsuya, at L.A. Live before and although the food was delicious we agreed that we would try something new.


L.A. Live

So we decided to try Rosa Mexicano, for some drinks and appetizers before going to watch Pirate Radio, at the new Regal Cinema. The atmosphere at Rosa Mexicano was very festive and the food was authentic with a modern twist. The hubby had the Shrimp and Tuna Ceviche and I had the Chicken Flautas and I even tried their signature Pomegranate Margarita (I was tipsy after that one drink), everything was really tasty.





L.A. Live has some great places to hang out, including The Staples Center, Lucky Strikes Lanes, the Congo Room, Club Nokia and 13 restaurants.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

more HomeGoods finds...

Yesterday after work I stopped at one of my favorite stores, HomeGoods and found some great buys. My first find was the Infantino Stick and Play, this is so perfect for JD's highchair, because it actually suctions onto the tray (JD throws all his toys on the floor when he is in his highchair), he started playing with it the minute we put it on the tray, it actually kept him entertained for about 20 minutes (that's a long time for JD)!

Infantino Tray Time Buddies
Retail: $12.99
I paid: $7.99


 

My second find was a bit of a suprise, I have been looking for Thanksgiving themed table linens and wasn't sure if I wanted something fancy, trendy or playful until I came across this pattern:

 Quilted Table Runner
Retail: $ 22.00
I paid: $6.00 (on clearance)

so my whole decor this Thanksgiving will be based on this pattern, which I guess would mean I'm going for the playful theme. Best of all it matches all my pumpkin decorations including my last find:

Chantal Pumpkin Casserole Dish
Retail: $20.00
I paid: $6.00 (on clearance)

 

still loving Home Goods!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gewurztraminer: The Rock Star of Thanksgiving Wines

So what gives it rock star status? It’s the most versatile wine, pairing with turkey, dressing, yams and yes, even pumpkin pie. If you want to pronounce it, try "gah-vertz-trah-me-nur." The primary accent is on the second syllable, and the secondary accent is on the fourth syllable. If you cannot pronounce the name, just ask your store for that "turkey wine," they'll know what you mean. I recommend, Fetzer's Gewurztraminer Valley Oaks '07, it's a great (inexpensive, about $7 at BevMo) wine, it's a medium-sweet Gewurztraminer that is soft and easy on the palate.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Party Planning Mommy!

It may be a bit soon to start planning JD's 1st birthday party, but why wait till the last minute and stress myself out. So a few weeks ago the "Aunties" (Gabi and Mari) and I started discussing JD's birthday and we got so excited that we pretty much planned the whole thing. I had already picked the theme of his party early this year (funny, before he was born) after coming across a Celebrate Express catalog, they have the cutest  themes and my favorite is called "Mod Monkey" and lucky for me JD loves monkeys, acts like a monkey and sometimes even smells like a monkey! So his birthday theme is officially "Mod Monkey Carnival Party", the hubby keeps insisting I'm crazy to want to plan a big party and he actually had the nerve to ask me, what my budget was (why does he think I went back to work), but I know once the time comes he'll be just as excited as the rest of us. Here are some of the ideas I plan on incorporating into JD's party.








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