October 22, 2008


Tomorrow night David Sedaris will be in Sacramento doing a reading at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium and I am borderline hostile that I won't be in attendance. I had such a fantastic experience the last time he was in town that I can't believe I was sort of unaware that he was doing a reading until a couple weeks ago. With picking up my whole life and moving plus coordinating my birthday party, picking up Sedaris tickets just seemed like the hardest thing in the world and so I continued to procrastinate.

Now it's tomorrow, I'm not going, and I'm kicking myself.

Especially after I read this hysterical commentary in The New Yorker on those who are undecided in this upcoming election.

Chicken vs. Shit. Best analogy I've heard all year.

If you will be in attendance tomorrow night, I am in a perpetual state of viscious jealousy.

October 20, 2008

This Stew Will Change Your Life

I do not kid.

Let me talk to you about stew for a second though, just so we can all be on the same page. Stew, sounds kinda gross. I'm not exceptionally carniverous and the idea of gravy has always kind of given me the willies, so the idea of a meaty filled gravy-ish stew hasn't always been numero uno on the dishes-I-crave list. But THIS stew has changed all of that. So much so that after I made it for the first time I demanded that Garrett try it and he was all, "Meh, no thanks, I don't really do stew." And now, he begs for the stew, people!

In summary, if you think stew is kind of gross or perhaps even only alright -- Please do not pass go, do not collect $200, and please reconsider and purchase these ingredients STAT!

This recipe is a Barefoot Contessa recipe, and has become by far a favorite dish in our house! The only caveat, it's bit time consuming. But please don't let that deter you -- just cook it on a Saturday or Sunday when you are going to be loafing around and sitting in front of the television. Once the initial work is done, the stew basically cooks itself in the oven for a couple of hours and you can go right back to catching up on your back episodes of Real Housewives of Atlanta. Except now your house will smell fabulous to boot.

I'll give you a cliffs notes version of this recipe because it really is that easy, and a printable version is at the end if you want, ya know, like professional instructions.

1. Step One: Marinate your meat
The recipe calls for 2 1/2 lbs of chuck, I have used up to 3lbs but at that point it gets a little. Get a great big bowl, place the meat in it along with 3 bay leaves and 2 smashed cloves of garlic and then pour your favorite bottle of red wine over the top. Let sit for at least 2 hours but up to overnight.

3. Step Two: Dredge and Brown Your Meat in Batches in a Large Skillet
This part is time consuming. My timesaver? A Ziploc bag. Throw your 2 Cups Flour, 1 TBS Salt and Pepper into a Ziploc and mix thoroughly. Add meat (while reserving the wine marinade) and shake for instant dredging. Brown meat in batches and with each completed batch place in the dutch oven (or pot) that you will ultimately cook the stew in.

3. Step Three: Prep and Cook Your Veggies

Carrots, Potatoes, and Onions, OH MY! Also, optional is 8 oz of mushrooms. I don't love mushrooms so sometimes I don't use them, but if you buy the pre chopped kind in the grocery store they are pretty easy to pick out. Cook these over medium heat in the skillet where you just browned your meat. Right at the end add garlic and inhale. Then pour veggie mixture on top of browned meat in the dutch oven (or pot)

4. Step Four: Simmering the Sauce
When the meat is done it is time to make the sauce. Add reserved wine marinade to the pan in which you just dredged the meat. Here is when you also add your Worcestershire Sauce, Rosemary, Chicken Broth, Salt, Pepper, and Chopped Sun Dried Tomatoes. Let this all cook together for a few minutes.

5. Step Five: Mix it All Together
Now that your sauce has simmered, pour over the top of your meat and veggie mixture. It won't look that appetizing right now, but here's where you trust me -- it is going to turn PHENOMENAL right before your eyes. If you are finishing the process in a Dutch Oven, stir, cover, bring to a simmer and place in a 300 degree preheated oven for 2 hours, stirring once. If you are leaving it on the stovetop in a pot, stir, cover, bring to a simmer and then check every 20 minutes for about 2 hours to make sure things aren't sticking to the bottom

Step Six: Eat with some delicious bread!
Even though this is my favorite step, it is the only step that I forgot to photograph -- which should be a testament to how awesome this is. Once it was done last night I was all, "Forget the Camera, Get in my belly!" And then the moment was kind of lost.

I wasn't kidding when I said Garrett begs for this stew now, and I think you will too once you try it!

Click here for a printable version of the recipe.

Definitely NOT "Light" but Incredibly Delicious!

So this weekend I had my mom and my aunt Yvonne over to say thank you for being so incredibly helpful over the last two weeks with moving and my birthday party. (PS -- living alone -- still loving it! I can have people over whenever I want and not feel like I need to ask anyone's permission. LOVE!) So they came out Friday afternoon and that night I decided I wanted to cook some potato soup. This is one of my favorite comfort foods, and since we were going to be relaxing and watching a movie and stuff, I thought it would be the perfect dish.

I googled some recipes and found this one (which, truth be told, appealed to me because it had twice the bacon as the other recipes I found, what can I say?) and seriously, I am still dreaming about it. It was so easy and delicious! so I thought I would put it out there in case you all are looking for an easy soup to make on a chilly night in the future.

SO GOOD!!!!!

Baked Potato Soup

8-10 slices of bacon, diced
4 TBS unsalted butter
1/2 Cup diced celery (I used 1 Cup, and I think you could add a similar amount of carrots and that would be delicious)
1 Cup diced onion (yellow, white, red...whatever you have on hand)
8 Green onions, sliced thinly (green and white parts)
1/3 Cup All Purpose Flour
3 Cups Chicken Broth
2 Cups Half and Half
4 large baking potatoes, peeled, diced and cooked in the microwave for about 4 minutes
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
8 oz. Sour Cream
8 oz. Shredded Sharp Cheddar

In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp.
Remove bacon to paper towels leaving about 2 TBS of bacon drippings in the pan.
Add the butter, chopped onion, and celery and cook until vegetables are tender (5-10 mins).
Stir in the sliced green onion and flour until blended into a paste consistency.
Stir in chicken broth; cover and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thickened and vegetables are very tender (another 5-10 minutes).
Stir in half-and-half, diced potatoes, salt, pepper, and cheese. Continue cooking until cheese is melted.
Add sour cream.
Cook, stirring constantly, until soup is hot.
Serve the soup garnished with bacon and additional sliced green onion, if desired.
(Also, my suggestion -- CROUTONS!)

To. Die. For.

October 17, 2008

Goodbye 20s, Hello 30s!

Well I survived.

Yep, that's right, I turned 30 this week and didn't die of absolute shock! Actually, I employed a strategy that included throwing a party last weekend that sort of numbed the pain, so I think that when Tuesday came around I was sort of at peace with everything.

None of it would have been possible without my adorable mother -- well, er, I was talking about the party, but I guess there's that whole, you know, fact that she bore me and all that other stuff, so I guess literally NONE of it would have been possible without her. But anyway, isn't she cute? She sure knows how to create a great party vibe!

She, and my aunt Yvonne, and my Uncle Mark have been been basically doing round the clock "Holly's Life" Triage for the past two weeks leading up to this event, and I have been overwhelmed with gratitude over this last week for what a great support system I have. It started with the fact that I moved into the guest house behind some friends' house the week before I threw this party (and they all three helped immensely). Then it continued through the next week with all the planning and the party preparations and such, which is not for the faint of heart. It was held in my friends' back yard, which is pretty cool because incidentally now it is my backyard -- and it is quite a happenin space if I do say so:

And here is my cute little pad, off to the side:

All of my favorite people came -- including my whole family, who are a ton of fun!

(I guess you get the idea that we like the Giants, eh?)

Some of my most fabulous co-workers came:

And even two of my friends from back in high school and all the cute boys in their lives came:

A great band called The Golden Cadillacs played a set after dinner and they were an absolute HIT! There was dancing, and hollering, and good times being had by all.

Overall I could not have had a better birthday, and the party made me realize that I am really blessed to have a lot of love in my life. I'm not going to go gettin' all Beyonce-at-the-VMAs on y'all and thank God for making my dreams come true, but seriously...it feels good to be loved!

And what better time to have that giant life hug then when you turn 30!

(Dude...I feel an "I Love You, Man" coming on!)

October 06, 2008

Home Sweet (NEW!) Home

So I spent this weekend moving all of my stuff into my new place and seriously folks, I am in IN LOVE with it! I am having so much fun decorating it and doing everything just exactly the way I want it. I have never lived alone and it is so liberating! I will post some updated shots of it very soon, but for now I thought I would post a few 'Before' pics so you can get an idea of the space.

The Specs:
It is a guest-cottage type studio behind the home of my good friends, so it feels very safe (which I love, living alone and all!) It is a second floor space with entry on the first floor, so there is an entry hall with stairs and then up to one wide open space that has space for kitchen, living area, bedroom, and office. It may seem small, but I have found it the perfect size for little ol' me so here are just a few sneak peaks:

Entry Hall Stairwell

Dining Area/Bathroom Door



So there's just a few shots! Can't wait to show you when it's all done. There has been lots of IKEA shopping, Target bargaining, and definitely some elbow grease over the last few days. It is really turning into a home!


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