Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Another NYE / doggie post! Buddy's been living with us for just about a year now. Here's how he looked when he first came to us in one of his first NYC snows.
And this is how he looks today! Pretty much the same. You can't tell but he's longer and taller. Poops the same.
Uh, what? 
Happy New Year! Posting resumes in January :)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Have a warm and snuggly holiday with your loved ones.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
xoxoxoxo,
From all of us at Life After Lobster (meaning me and the dog)
What? Did someone say my name?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Easy Christmas Candy: Peppermint Bark

A certain retailer sells its famous peppermint bark for $20+ a tin. It is well loved. And not initially a fan of peppermint bark, I was skeptical but when I tasted it, I admit. I liked it. A lot. I've even eaten it waaaay past its intended season and *still* liked it.

So when I looked at my giant candy jar full of candy canes, which I bought solely for this mint chocolate cupcake recipe (and has doubled as Christmas-themed decor), I decided I needed to use some more of it (albeit not the rest of it) somehow. Since peppermint bark is basically melting chocolate, then more chocolate and topping it with mint, it seemed like an easy and a crowd-pleasing solution.

See here for proof:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache and Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting!

Longest blog post title ever?

Christmas is literally around the corner.  So I wanted to make these cupcakes before it got too late! I had the afternoon to myself and found that the perfect opportunity to turn on a movie (My Best Friend's Wedding was on TBS) and bake and assemble this 3-part cupcake.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Crazy

We finally got and decorated our tree. Not to make this post anticlimatic or anything but just to forewarn you there's not tree photo. Just everything leading up to it. HA! Love me for the lazy ass that I am, please. Hubs and I have now purchased 3 trees for the 3 holidays we've lived together. This year will be our first married Christmas and we'll actually be spending it together. Now that its' official, I've been trying to amp up the Christmas Crazy...which you'll see is not really that crazy at all.

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's Like Paris in a Pan

Since there was a special on hanger steak, I took advantage of it for our Sunday night meal in the "french bistro" style. I like hanger steak because it's tender and pretty flavorful. Hubs loves French fare so I tried a red wine mushroom reduction. It got rave reviews (mostly because I never cook beef). I added two simple sides of sauteed leeks and roasted fingerling potatoes for a hearty meal.

Hanger Steak with Red Wine and Mushroom Sauce

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Those Are Some Sweet Buns

When I saw Big Apple Nosh's venture into cinnamon buns, I knew it was a must try for Thanksgiving weekend. My family's a sucker for those 6-packs of cinnamon buns at Ikea. Sometimes we go on that 30 minute drive *just* for the cinnamon rolls (and soft serve ice cream and great deals). By Big Apple Nosh's recommendation, I used the same Paula Deen recipe found here.
I've never made a dough and I have a record of failed or "just ok" baked goods. I didn't want to mess this one up and especially with a hungry family waiting and a possible taunting. In the days before the cinnamon buns, I read the recipe several times, read the reviews for tips. And...it was a success! If I can do it, so can you..

Monday, December 6, 2010

Truffle Mac & Cheese

I know. We're over Thanksgiving but I haven't recapped the recipes I tried that week. This one is something you make any time of year and it's sure to be a hit! If you love mushrooms and mac & cheese,  this recipe is for you.
Recipe adapted from Orgasmic Mac 'n' Cheese

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Am I Alone in My Obsession?

I started reading the Twilight series a year ago on Christmas vacation. I could not put the book down. Later on, I watched the movies. While not quite the same and 100 times cheesier, I still stood in line to catch the premiere of the most recent release Eclipse. Now, nearly 6 months later. I can have it. All my own. The dvd comes out December 4th. You can pre-order it in many places including Amazon.com. Yes, it's a two disc SPECIAL edition. Whee!
While this isn't up there in my favorite series of movies including Back to the Future and Harry Potter,
this most recent installment is by far the best of the three movies. Gets me super excited for the final one Breaking Dawn. Consider it my guilty pleasure.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's December 1st.

Every holiday season I feel ambitious. My mind runs with all these thoughts of cute cocktail parties, desserts, gift ideas, decor, on and on and on. Eventually, I get overwhelmed and end up with no holiday party, no dessert, regular wrapping paper with stick on bows and tags. This year, though I tried to avoid it, my mind has holiday spirit coming out the wazoo but I'm tired after all that wedding planning. At the same time, I have even MORE ideas from wedding planning.

In an effort to stay sane but keep occupied and provide you with good blog posts (I hope), here are some of the more reasonable wishlist DIY:

What to do with my extra gray and white twine from wedding invitations:
Whitneyraepaper
Hm, but what I really want to do is buy new red and white twine :) What is it about kraft paper that is so alluring? I don't get it (but I want it).

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Good Eats SF: Bob's Donuts

If you're looking for a fresh donut in a no frills atmosphere, check out Bob's Donut & Pastry Shop on Polk Street in Nob Hill, SF.

Bob's is a great place for a classic donut any time of day though the three times I've been was at late night. After Wayfare Tavern, we went to Bob's for dessert and they were frying up donuts batch after batch in preparation of the going out crowd. Fry was in the air.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Almond Biscotti

After a day full of savory eats (day? let's face it, it was a whole week), I had a hankering for something sweet and not too heavy. Since my dad also likes biscotti, I decided to give it a go in his favorite flavor, almond.

Biscotti means twice baked in Italian. The first baking will leave it moist in the middle. The second baking will get the crunchy texture you'd expect from biscotti. While  traditional biscotti does not have fat in it, this recipe has a slight cookie quality because of the butter.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit's Anise-Almond Biscotti.
Makes 3 dozen biscotti (I yielded about 2 dozen depending on thickness)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Good Eats SF: Off the Grid

Friday night, we checked out casual eats at the roaming food truck fair Off the Grid. We went to the Fort Mason location by the Marina.
source
We arrived at 6:30 pm during the primetime rush. The Fort Mason outpost had about 20 vendors, a handful with physical carts. The middle area was separated off for a makeshift bar, band, and chairs for sitting while the outside of the circle housed all the stands and trucks.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Good Eats SF: Wayfare Tavern

Continuing my unofficial series of "I Left My Stomach in San Francisco"...
-------------------
After a full lunch at Redd and an afternoon of outlet shopping, we headed back to the city for dinner at Tyler Florence's new restaurant Wayfare Tavern. (Note, we didn't originally plan to jam pack the day of eats like this but it just happened)

We were greeted by a well-dressed energetic after work crowd in an American tavern atmosphere. The bartenders were dressed in white waiter jackets and black ties, the decor included deer heads and warm wooden bars. Arriving 30 minutes before our reservation, we got drinks from the bar which were served promptly.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Holiday Spirit

Got some? I do.

This is the first holiday season for my new bona fide family (me, the hubs, the dog). This means we get to send out cards to friends and family. Shutterfly makes it simple - all you have to do is pick a design and upload your photo. I use the site to share photos and to order prints all the time so it's even easier if you already have albums online.

Check out a couple of the 2010 designs:
Merry Berry Stripes
Starlight Flurries
Ahh more stripes! I really like the combo of light blue and red here. This one is also a nontraditional dimensions of 4x8 inches.
Cool Stripes
Crunched on time? You can even have Shutterfly stamp and address your cards for you at 99 cents per card. Check out the full line of holiday cards here

Now, I just have to figure out how to get Buddy in a Santa costume for our holiday card. 
Source
Are you sending out cards this year? What's your design? 

FYI: I am receiving 50 free cards from Shutterfly for writing this post. All opinions are my own. 
Fellow bloggers: Get 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly http://bit.ly/sfly2010 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Good Eats in Napa: Redd

Just got back from a whirlwind weekend in San Francisco, one of my favorite cities. We kicked off the weekend with a jaunt to Yountville in Napa for lunch at Redd. The weather was absolutely beautiful so we sat outside to soak in the fall sunshine.

Redd has a menu of about 15 courses divided into lighter and heavier plates. We ordered five (2 lighter and 3 heavier) courses and shared family style between the three of us. It was more than enough.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Loop de Loop Scarves

I've been obsessed with infinity scarves lately. It's a loop de loop of chunky warm goodness. I saw a couple of them last winter but this year they are all over the place! And for good reason. It's warm and cozy AND provides a great way to accessorize your neck in the cold cold winter.

Here are some of the ones I've found lately:

Always my go-to, J.Crew's marled "snood" - Not really sure what that stands for...scarf / hood? The word doesn't work. But the scarf does! Good weight and length - shorter than most so no need for double looping. Easy to slip on and off for that extra warmth factor. And in a cute marled knit (all over J.Crew this year).
Marled Knit Snood,
As I overbought (and returned) a few, I've noticed a couple key things to look out for when buying your own loop scarf, length and weight.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Good Eats SF: Philz Coffee

Are you a habitual morning coffee drinker like me? Every morning I have to get my grande Bold from Starbucks. It's good enough and I like a strong blend. Lately though I've noticed I've been getting bored of it. Where is the real coffee flavor?

Too bad I don't live in San Francisco because the real coffee is at Philz. At $2.50 for a small and close to $4 for a large, Philz is not cheap. But it's also not your usual cup o' joe. It's an experience. Philz' motto is "one cup at a time" and that's exactly how they brew their custom drip coffee. Offering 20 blends and different roast levels, Philz takes "barista" to another level.
source

Crumble Top Pumpkin Spice Muffins

It's a sunny Saturday morning in the fall. I'm hungry for breakfast...muffins? I like these muffins because they are fluffy, not too sweet, and have the crumble topping.

After I wrote most of this post I noticed...I used one CAN not one cup of pumpkin. Which explains why the muffins were so "fluffy." Still turned out ok but the muffins were probably softer than intended. This is why I do not bake

Recipe adapted here from Stephanie's Kitchen.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wait, Is This My Home??

When I knew our shelves were being delivered, I read the assembly manual online. The first section was easy (assembling the shelf), but then there was the saftey wall mount that required brackets, a drill, and studfinder. Uh....How about a screwdriver and a good guess?? When I told the hubs his response was "Let's just call the front desk to assemble it on Thursday." Say what now?

Yes, this guy grew up in New York and had superintendents and handymen all his life. Still, it's no excuse to not try. THEN when I said "Why don't we ask to borrow a drill and studfinder from the super?"

And he said, "What do you need a finder for? Look no further."

Sigh.

Back to the shelves. One weekend, I had an empty apartment sans dog and hubs so I took it upon myself to improve our home. The assembly was straightforward. Took me less than an hour per shelf. And my stack of magazines finally came in handy propping up the shelf.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Virginia is for Lovers

And us. We went to visit my parents the other weekend. They still live in the home I grew up in. It was a nice break from New York. The weather was warm for fall (70F?) and quiet so we slept like babies all weekend. Even Buddy:
Snoozy!
We were there only 1 full day so the hubs and I went shopping at a local pedestrian mall and left the dog with the grandparents (practice for when we have kids). I love that mall. It’s got an Anthropologie, Paper Source, J.Crew, and Sephora all in one concentrated area and a Yogen Fruz which is a faux Pinkberry (which some argue is a faux Red Mango, anyhoo...). The best part of being home was the yummy Chinese meal prepared by my mommers.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Portobello Fries, You're Super Delightful

Another weeknight dinner and no ideas. I got me 2 portobello mushrooms and that's about it. I was determined to use them in an effort to clean out my fridge. Then I remembered the awesomest tastiest thing I've ever had -- portobello mushroom fries at my wedding. While I didn't try to replicate the recipe (no idea what was in them), I got a hankering for mushroom fries in general.

I made a Panko mixture...yes, I used parmesan again. Does it seem like I can only eat veggies this way?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mystery Vegetable: Eggplant

I don't know what to do with this vegetable.

Now, you might think this post is about Brussel Sprouts since they are prominently featured here but I think they're just pretty.

I've declared in the past that I'm not an eggplant fan even though I admire it's nutritious qualities as well as it's reputation for tasting like whatever sauce it's in.

Like my chicken ventures though, it's time for me to conquer another culinary question mark. Since it was late on a weeknight, I cooked simply and roasted slices.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pretty Pictures (Not Mine)

Our wedding photographer Cly Creation was featured on Style Me Pretty last week! I recognized their ethereal, romantical style immediately. Sigh...I love the misty overcast look. Love the Brooklyn Bridge, one of my favorite New York landmarks.
Photos by Cly Creation
Check out the full feature here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Slow Week

Halloween must have really took it out of me because it's Thursday and I haven't posted anything this week. I haven't done or cooked anything interesting - it's mostly been frozen pizza and some take out. The irony of this lack of blog posts is that it's NaBloPoMo (lol, National Blog Posting Month). Guess I've already missed the boat on that one.

Next week I'm heading off to San Francisco for a couple days jam packed with visits to my sister, bffers, and one of the hubs' groomsmen. For sure I'll have some stories.

In the meantime, here's a pic of Buddy post-Halloween festivities.

I hear ya, Buddy. That's how I feel about this whole week.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Wingardium Leviosa!

Warning: many dog photos ahead. He's the only thing I can take decent photos of these days.

Ok, so those of you who read this regularly know that I've been contemplating a Halloween costume for the dog. I wanted to buy the Yoda costume with the front legs but it didn't look too comfortable and I kept reading mixed reviews (yes, I know he won't wear it that long anyway but still). Instead I stocked up on $25 of felt and other craft items from Joann Fabrics and came up with?

Harry Potter.

I get these moments of craftiness (b/c believe me I am not crafty). I started with the glasses because that is what really sets harry potter  (hairy pawter? LOLOL) a part from the other wizards. Without the rest of the 'fit he looks kinda hipster, doesn't he?
Just like the rest of us, he falls asleep reading. LOLOL. 

The glasses are made of black pipe cleaners. The Hogwarts cape and Gryffindor scarf are made of your usual craft felt, which I find very useful for projects like these! More pics after the jump :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sephora's Online Friends & Family Discount

What will you buy? This is bad news bears for me!!

Use FF2010 for 20% off your online purchase at sephora.com through November 3rd! 

Hm. I'm starting to see the holiday / sparkles / New Year's Eve party theme in ads. Already! It was 70F here in New York yesterday. Not sure how holiday-y that feels. 

Set your VCRs: It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

On TONIGHT at 8PM on ABC (and rerunning Friday night if you miss it).

I love the Charlie Brown holiday specials. I look forward to them every year. It reminds me of when my dad used to record them on tape for us so we could rewatch them. It's the Great Pumpkin was first shown in the 1960s!
Source
It's getting me all excited for Halloween. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chocolate Brownie Cookies

I'm not really good at baking. When I do bake, I need a box mix. I craved chewy chocolate cookies the other day. Rather than finding a real recipe, I found one that modifies brownie mix with flour to make essentially thin brownies with my favorite part - the crunchy edge.

Here's what you need:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I'm Chicken About Chicken

My last venture into chicken wasn't terrible. It cooked well and stayed tasty. I wanted to step it up and do roast chicken but I didn't want to use the oven for 1.5 hours like many recipes require. I found a different recipe that roasted chicken breasts on a cookie sheet for 35 minutes. So I figured, if I put separate pieces into a roasting dish then maybe it'd take 35-45 min? I was wrong.

I should have known something would go wrong when all the chicken at Whole Foods came in 5 lbs no less. I wanted something closer to 3 lbs - just enough to feed us and not too thick for cooking. My roasting dish ended being super crowded. But first the successful part...
Can't mess up vegetables
Roasting Veggies
I did a round of brussels sprouts first. The edges turned crispy and yum in 35 minutes. The second pan was yellow squash slices, mushrooms, and onion wedges. The  squash and mushrooms roasted up in no time. The mushrooms were tasty morsels of mushroom goodness.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Twilight For First Graders

WoohoO! It’s Halloween this week! I’m still working on Buddy’s mystery costume. Some of you already know what my plan is but we’ll see if I can complete it! 

Anyway, I was walking home from the subway last week and saw this at the Mystery Book Store. 

For seriously though
Dick and Jane and … Vampires? Really??! I’m baffled. I remember reading Dick & Jane in first grade but none with vampires. Apparently it's a new reader in the Dick and Jane style.

Look how scary that vampire is! I’m really curious what this story is about. Might be worth a trip to the Mystery Book Store this week.

You're It! I'm Slow.

Both XOXO, C  at Classically Modern Nest and Ali over at His Birdie's Nest recently tagged me in the Internet's playground game of Blog Tag. I'm slow to respond but you all are about to find out a lot about me...

XOXO, C asks: list 7 things that you may not know about me

1. I have a birthmark on my (right?) buttock. It's shaped like the UK. I've been self-conscious about it since I was a wee tot but now embrace it (b/c what else would I do about it?)

2. If I wasn't in "finance," I'd want to have my own puppet show like Shari Lewis with Lamb Chop's Play Along. It would be about three dogs and a moose, unlikely but fast friends.

3. Back in 1993, I had the hugest crush on Jeremy Jordan. Do you even know who he is? He had one single (back when they had singles) on the first generation of 90210. He might have been the high school popular guy on Never Been Kissed.

Friday, October 22, 2010

J.Crew Outerwear

J.Crew is having a 20% off outerwear promo!

Remember this navy coat with gold buttons I was eyeing? I tried it on in the store and give it a thumbs down. First, the navy was violet/purple and second, the collar was narrow (for what I wanted). It's a great basic peacoat if you're looking for one. I'm a fan of their stadium cloth coats.

Moving on...there is this green number that intrigues me. What do you think? Too green? It also comes in a really cute retro orange. But I already have my red lady coat from a previous season.

Here's how it looks on the model. I think it's not styled in the most flattering way on her and actually looks better buttoned up on the mannequin above. Maybe that means it's not a good coat to wear opened.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Treats for the Apartment

Look! I bought stuff.

I took advantage of Crate & Barrel's annual Free Shipping promotion and ordered a bunch of semi-useless semi-useful stuff for the apartment. Take a look see:

1. Useful - Savannah Charcoal Rug Runner. The previous one had been chewed on, peed on, and maybe even pooped on by Buddy. The cleaning lady (Yes, we have one. It's so worth it to avoid fights with the hubs) didn't like it b/c it'd get caught in the vacuum and now is all misshapen. Everyone will be happier now.

2. Useless - Woof Dog Bowls. Let's face it, I bought these b/c they're cute and under the guise of keeping the dog bowls clean and in rotation. (They also have "meow" ones for kitties!)

3. Useless - Gallon-size Glass Jars. Our kitchen counter is already pretty crowded. No need for more stuff. Again, under the guise of "for snacks" and "for dog food." Mm hm.

4. Use...ful? - End grain Chopping Block. It's pretty and I didn't have one on our registry. Reason for this one? Wood blocks are better for our new fancy knives. HA! I'm so good at rationalizing my spending. Edit: I really like this board. It's easier to cut on and has lots of space. 
All images from Crate & Barrel. So obvi, since my kitchen doesn't look amazing in the least bit.
Alright! I'm half useful and half useless. Also in our shipment was the Sloane Leaning Bookcase...currently unassembled in the living room. That's a post for another day.

What's your latest and greatest home purchase?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Big Friendly Giant

I've been looking for some good books to read lately. I just finished the Twilight series which was pure awesomeness in a guilty pleasure sort of way. So many times when I go to the bookstore I buy a new book or a classic and read about 15 pages before I lose interest (and my money). Why can't they make books as good as the ones I loved to read when I was a kid? One of my absolute favorites was this one:
source
Roald Dahl's The BFG. This book came out in 1982 and my 4th grade teacher read it to our class in 1989. After that, I was hooked on Roald Dahl books including Matilda, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, James & the Giant Peach, etc. etc.

I'd recommend reading The BFG if you haven't already. There are words like "frobscottle" (soda pop), "whizzpoppers" (farts), "snozzcumbers" (bitter squash-like veggie). It's a book to love. Buy it here on Amazon.com.

Last week I joined the "Book Buddies" program at work where we're assigned a 3rd grader and a book. We'll read the book and write letters like pen pals to each other. I'm super excited. I can't wait to see what the book is.

What's your favorite childhood book?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Salty Ginger Scallion Chicken

Two things happened the other weekend:
1. I craved some Chinese home cooking
2. I realized that I don't know how to cook chicken. Like, at all.

What better way to spend Sunday night than to combine #1 and #2 into a dinner and call it a day? Coming off our Chinese wedding banquet reminded me of one of my favorite banquet dishes, salty chicken. Sounds kinda weird, huh? But it's the tastemaker sauce that makes it a fave.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I'm a Halloweenie.

I'm a weenie when it comes to Halloween. I'm not creative and I feel silly dressed up because my costume is never good enough (in first grade I wore my Cinderella mask upside down in a para. However, this year is our first Halloween with Buddy. And he absolutely needs to dress up! This is New York! If you're not in a costume on Halloween, stay home! (which is what I normally do).

After spending a few hours browsing my dog costume options, here are some of the more entertaining ones. Not sure if Buddy's got a costume here but it was fun to look! Those dog models look so sad though. Or maybe just defeated.
World's Saddest Pug

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday Night Dinner Brain Fart

Mm, that sounds like a good recipe doesn't it? How about Mushroom Rice with Baby Bok Choy?


Better. At least literal. It's Monday. It's raining. It's blah. I planned on walking home in the way of Chipotle and picking myself up a Fajita Chicken Bowl (which is like 1,000 calories!) Instead, I had to stay late at work (boo) AND I found out the Mr. would be coming home for dinner too...that is, expecting a real meal (or ordering take out) v. my usual grazing.

Friday, October 8, 2010

He's Draining My Retirement Savings

Buddy had a spa appointment yesterday. That includes a full bath, hair cut, and mani/pedi. He usually lets his fur grow 8 weeks between cuts (really? I only get my hair cut 3 times a year). This time we went 11 weeks...maybe that's a little too long because he was starting to look kinda shaggy/running into things because of the hair in his eyes (jk).

The Before:

Happily Fluffily
The After:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

One Ticket To Grown-up-ville

My "decor" situation in the living room currently looks like this:

Not good. My apartment is organized in piles. Piles of magazines, piles of mail, piles of things to file, piles of nice gifts from our wedding guest. In one of those white bags in the corner is a very nice and elegant Tiffany vase that would look silly anywhere in our apartment because we have nowhere to showcase our nice thing(s?). Not only do we have this one nice thing now, but we also have all these photo frames and piles of books with no home but shopping bags and the floor (like the cable box, oh geez).

I have decided enough is enough and want to buy a pair of these ladder shelves:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Having a Lace Moment

I usually poo poo lace. It walks a fine line between delicate and pretty and grandma's doily. I thought maybe I'd have a lace moment with my wedding dress but then ended up choosing something that was more typical me. Now it's fall and I find myself having a craving for the richer fabric.
Shoshanna has a short shift paired with see-through sleeves in one of my favorite underrated color combos navy and black.
Shoshanna Lace Boatneck
Since I am on the topic, let's peruse some others. This one is pretty similar to the first one but the all black fabric makes it look heavier.