Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My New Favorite Chili Recipe. And, It's Paleo!

Since the end of November, Nick and I have been following a Paleo diet at least 80% of the time. I am absolutely loving how great I feel eating this way. Thus, I've been spending a lot more time in the kitchen and, lucky for us, have discovered and created some oh-my-god delicious(!) and healthy meals.

I'd like to just take a moment to pat myself on the back for all the cooking I've been doing!

...OK, done. ;)

I thought I'd share my chili recipe with y'all because it is SO good it would be selfish to keep it to myself!

Yummm.... Do not forget the avocado garnish - it's almost the best part! 
(Avocados are hands down my favorite food!!!)

Yields 8 servings

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
3 bell peppers, red and green, diced
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 lbs grass fed ground beef
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp cumin
2 tsp crushed red pepper
4 squares of 73% cacao dark chocolate
2 tsp kosher salt
pepper to taste
26 oz chopped tomatoes (I use Pomi.)
2 cups beef stock

Scallions and avocado for topping.

Saute onion, peppers, and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add ground beef and saute until browned. Add seasonings, chocolate, tomatoes, and beef stock. Simmer for 20 minutes to a few hours - depending on how hungry/inpatient you are! Top with scallions and sliced avocado. 

See... super easy and so, so good!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Scotland, Part Four: Glencoe, the Highlands and Loch Ness.

The Scottish country side is just breathtaking. We spent the whole day oohhhing and aahhing at every glen, ben, and loch in the Highlands. I could have spent a month there. Easily. 

On our wee trip, we saw Linlithgow Palace (the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots), the Wallace Monument in Stirling (think Braveheart), Duone Castle (where some of Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed), the charming town of Callender, the majestic scenery in Glencoe, Fort William, Ben Nevis (the highest mountain in the British Isles), Fort Augustus, Loch Ness, Dalwhinnie Distillery, Pitlochry, and Edradour Distillery. We heard stories about the "kelpie" that is now known as Nessie and the infamous MacDonald clan massacre in 1692.  We saw the smallest distillery in Scotland and red deer grazing in the Cairngorns National Park and hunting lodges just like the one in Skyfall (which was filmed in Scotland!). It is truly amazing how dramatic and gorgeous mother nature can be.

Here are some pictures from our day...

It was eerie how quiet the Royal Mile in Edinburgh was at sunrise: 

A quick stop for "dough-rings" and tea at a charming bakery in Callender:

My love and me: 

Scenes from Skyfall:

Just a wee bit of snow on the ground... it was freezing!:

Exploring the ruins of a castle:

I guess I'm a bit taller than the Scots were back in the day: 

Loch Ness monster sculpture in Fort Augustus:

Hoping to spot Nessie:

If I remember correctly, this is a private residence that can be used for weddings. How amazing is that?!: 

In Pitlochry:

We ended our day with a glass of mulled wine in Pitlochry:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

This and That.

Wow, how is it already mid-January?! I've started the year off with lots of home cooking and housekeeping and working. And, Nicholas has been traveling a lot for work lately. I still have lots to post about from our trip to Scotland and Christmas and a friend's baby shower that was so cute... but, I can't seem to find the time!! One of these evenings, I just need to sit down and get it done. I love looking back at my posts, so I really do want to document these things in this online journal of mine.

On another note, last month, Nicholas and I joined the wine club at Testarossa, a winery in Los Gatos and our first shipment was ready for pickup this weekend.

We had planned on just running up there to pick up our shipment and have a quick tasting, but the 49er game was on, so we ended up watching the whole game there!

(This is totally random, but one of my friends has gorgeous long hair and she swears by only washing her hair twice a week and always letting it air dry... so I am trying it! I would love for my hair to keep growing longer, but I feel like its staying at the same length. We'll see if this works...)

Half time break for some food on the patio!

The 49ers won and we got to bring some wine home - Sunday Funday!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Our Adventures in 2012

In January, we rang in the New Year at a fantastic french restaurant here in San Jose. I stayed involved in Junior League and continue to pursue my love of hiking! Nick and I were catching up on Mad Men on netflix... which affected our drinking habits and wardrobe.

Nicholas took and passed his first CPA test in February, so we celebrated that and Valentine's Day with lots of great wine (and food!) tasting in Sonoma. I tried my hand at painting... and I think I did a pretty good job! Oh, and this year was leap year - so we celebrated the extra day with a pub crawl leap.

In March, we hit the slopes in Tahoe with our friends and thankfully didn't break any bones! A walk on  the shore of Lake Tahoe was gorgeous after a long day of skiing. We watched my favorite movie of 2012, Like Crazy, and celebrated St. Paddy's Day by drinking green beer in downtown San Jose. I performed an ACL replacement on a cadaver knee at work and we wound down with date night.

I celebrated my 26th birthday in April, and although I was sick on my actual birthday I still felt the love from all of my family and friends. I got a cute Easter basket from my hunny bunny and enjoyed the beautiful spring weather with an afternoon at the shooting range, margaritas on a patio and girls' night. I capped the month off with an unbelievably fun trip to Fredericksburg, Texas for Justine's Bachelorette
party (which made me desperate to move back to Texas!)

In May, I really took advantage of living close to the wine country... my girlfriends and I took a limo up to Napa on Cinco de Mayo, and then Nicholas and I toured Sonoma/Healdsburg (and Sausalito and SF!) with my brother-in-law CJ. I changed up this little ol' blog and then headed down to Dallas for Dave and Justine's wedding! It was SO much fun to dance the night away with our close friends from Texas.

In June, Nicholas and I basically just had fun. We visited a Greek festival in town, "swam" in our pool, ate frozen yogurt, and spent time at the beach in Capitola among other fun things! It between all the fun there must have been some studying because my smarty pants husband passed his second CPA exam!

We had a festive Fourth of July in San Francisco, followed by a concert in the vineyard at Robert Mondavi in Napa. We fostered a dog for a couple of weeks, which was so much fun, but in the end we decided it was best not to keep him. After watching the Olympics in London, we booked a trip to England and Scotland for October! I definitely did a happy dance that day!

In August, we went to a speakeasy in San Francisco with our friends from Texas and also spent time planning our trip to the UK. Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A opened in the Bay Area which made me giddy and we wrapped up the month with another trip up to Sonoma! Nicholas passed his 3rd CPA test, too.

September was a super busy month... which is typical for us. We celebrated two years of wedded bliss and went to Austin, Texas to celebrate our anniversary. While in Texas, our friends Krista and Jake got married. Nick's mom and her husband came out to visit us, and later Nick and I drove up to Awesome Ashland, Oregon to spend the weekend with more family. I loved that town!

October was the month that we took our big vacation to England and Scotland. Oh man, was that fun! We had afternoon tea and went to Buckingham Palace and listened to wild music at a pub in Edinburgh and drank whisky and (almost) saw the Loch Ness monster! Whew. Now, we got that out of our system we can start having babies! hehe. For Halloween, we passed out candy at the house and I made us into vampires.

After a whirlwind trip in October, November was full of resting. I was under the weather for the beginning of the month, but still managed to re-decorate our living room and see Breaking Dawn, Part 2! We had a low key Thanksgiving feast of cornish game hens prepared by yours truly!

And last, but certainly not least, we wrapped the year with a pretty tree, holiday parties and a trip to Omaha for Christmas. Yep, I had a COLD, white Christmas! We went ice-skating and saw a Beatles show and tried a few new restaurants in Omaha. We came back in town just in time for Nicholas to turn 28 as we counted down to the new year with our friends.

If there's anything that I've learned from my look back at the year it's:
1. We drink a lot of wine!
2. We had some of the best time with our friends and family.
3. My husband is very, very handsome.
4. Living in California isn't so bad, afterall. (But I'd still move back to Texas in a heartbeat!)

We have it pretty good, don't we?!

Wishing that everyone's 2013 is the best year yet!!! 
Happy New Year.

PS. 2011, 2010, 2009