Tuesday, August 2, 2011


This weekend, we celebrated our first wedding anniversary.  It's hard to believe that a year has already passed!  We had attempted to plan a last-minute weekend getaway, but it never really panned out, so we celebrated at home for two nights instead of one! 

On Saturday night, we went to a local golf club for a delicious seafood dinner.  I got the scallops, and Kris got the biggest crab cake I have ever seen!  After dinner, we played a round of mini golf, where Kris BARELY beat me by two strokes.  (It wasn't until the 17th hole where I lost my lead - he was shaking in his boots big time.)

On Sunday night, the day of our actual anniversary, we celebrated by having dinner in Baltimore's Inner Harbor at Morton's Steakhouse.  Besides the delicious, succulent steaks, it was such a great way to celebrate!  When I made the reservations, I told them that it was our anniversary, so they did all kinds of special stuff for us!  We sat in a secluded booth, they made up special menus for us, took our picture (which turned out fabulous!), and treated us to one of their signature souffles for dessert.  You basically had to roll us out of the restaurant by the time we were finished!

Do not fear - even though we were filled to the brim after dinner, we still managed to eat our thawed out wedding cake!  Can I please tell you that it tasted AMAZING?!!?  I was expecting it to be really crappy, but it tastes as good as new!  Which is a good thing because we have so much, I can have a piece every single night this week  :-)  Here is what we did to keep it "fresh":

Step 1:  Wrap tightly in saran wrap, several layers deep, and stick the pieces into one of those vacuum Ziploc bags.

Step 2:  Unwrap, and thaw in the refrigerator for 48 hours.

Step 3:  Serve and enjoy!

And in case you were wondering, NO, we did not smash this time... 


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

On the Flip Side

One of my favorite things about summer is that you can have dinner from the grill virtually every night.  We have hot dogs and hamburgers at least once a week at our house!  But don't forget - you can make tons of different meals on the grill.  Here are some ideas to try for your next meal or cook-out:
Marinated Grilled Shrimp
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pounds fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
1.  In a large bowl, stir together the garlic, olive oil, tomato sauce, and red wine vinegar. Season with basil, salt, and cayenne pepper.
2.  Add shrimp to the bowl, and stir until evenly coated.
3.  Cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour, stirring once or twice.
4.  Preheat grill for medium heat.
5.  Thread shrimp onto skewers, piercing once near the tail and once near the head. Discard marinade.
6.  Lightly oil grill grate.
7.  Cook shrimp on preheated grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until opaque.

California Grilled Veggie Sandwich
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 cup olive oil
1 cup sliced red bell peppers
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
1 small yellow squash, sliced
2 (4-x6-inch) focaccia bread pieces, split horizontally
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1.  In a bowl, mix the mayonnaise, minced garlic, and lemon juice. Set aside in the refrigerator.
2.  Preheat the grill for high heat.
3.  Brush vegetables with olive oil on each side.
4.  Brush grate with oil.
5.  Place bell peppers and zucchini closest to the middle of the grill, and set onion and squash pieces around them. Cook for about 3 minutes, turn, and cook for another 3 minutes. The peppers may take a bit longer.  Remove from grill, and set aside.
6.  Spread some of the mayonnaise mixture on the cut sides of the bread, and sprinkle each one with feta cheese.
7.  Place on the grill cheese side up, and cover with lid for 2 to 3 minutes. This will warm the bread, and slightly melt the cheese. Watch carefully so the bottoms don't burn.
8.  Remove from grill, and layer with the vegetables.

Grilled Lamb with Brown Sugar Glaze
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons dried tarragon
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 lamb chops

1.  In a medium bowl, mix brown sugar, ginger, tarragon, cinnamon, pepper, garlic powder, and salt.
2.  Rub lamb chops with the seasonings, and place on a plate. Cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
3.  Preheat grill for high heat.
4.  Brush grill grate lightly with oil, and arrange lamb chops on grill. Cook 5 minutes on each side, or to desired doneness.

Cedar Planked Salmon
3 (12 inch) untreated cedar planks
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1-1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 (2 pound) salmon fillets, skin removed
1.  Soak the cedar planks for at least 1 hour in warm water. Soak longer if you have time.
2.  In a shallow dish, stir together the vegetable oil, rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, green onions, ginger, and garlic.
3.  Place the salmon fillets in the marinade and turn to coat.
4.  Cover and marinate for at least 15 minutes, or up to one hour.
5.  Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat.
6.  Place the planks on the grate. The boards are ready when they start to smoke and crackle just a little.
7.  Place the salmon fillets onto the planks and discard the marinade.
8.  Cover, and grill for about 20 minutes. Fish is done when you can flake it with a fork. It will continue to cook after you remove it from the grill.

Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomato Bruschetta
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1-1/4 cups Italian salad dressing, divided
4 cups fresh spinach, torn
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
8 sun-dried tomatoes, packed without oil, chopped
1 (1 pound) loaf focaccia bread, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1/4 cup olive oil

1.  Place the chicken and 1 cup salad dressing in a bowl. Cover, and marinate at least 3 hours in the refrigerator.
2.  Preheat the grill for high heat.
3.  Lightly oil the grill grate.
4.  Discard dressing used for marinating, and grill chicken 7 minutes per side, or until juices run clear. Cool and shred.
5.  In a large bowl, mix the cooked chicken, spinach, feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and remaining dressing.
6.  Brush the focaccia bread with olive oil, and cook 1 minute per side on the prepared grill, or until lightly toasted.
7.  Place portions of the chicken mixture on the toasted focaccia to serve.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fashion Friday: Best Dress Trends

Looking for that perfect dress to wear to your next bachelorette party, wedding, or night out on the town?  Here are the season's four hottest dress trends!

Modern Florals

Kensie Dress - $54.98 at Macy's

Rampage One-Shoulder Floral Print Dress - $59 at Dillard's

Modern Fuchsia Floral Print Dress - $19.99 at www.milanoo.com

Bold Floral Print Maxi Dress - $45.46 at New York & Company
Tribal Prints
Alice + Olivia Tribal Print Dress - $114 at Nordstrom

Collective Concepts Mini Tribal Print Dress - $69 at Piperlime

Woven Tribal Print Dress - $17.80 at Forever21

Didn't Start the Fire Tribal Print Dress - $41 at www.lulus.com
The back of this dress is super hot and sexy!

Sparkle & Fade Colorblock Dress - $59 at Urban Outfitters

Chloe K Colorblock Dress - $44 at Nordstrom
Aqua Tube Color Block Dress - $68 at Bloomingdale's

Cooperative Silky Colorblock Dress - $29.99 at Urban Outfitters
 Sparkling Sequins
UK Style by French Connection Sequin Front Tank Dress - $34.99 at Sears

Jessica Simpson Sequin Dress - $69 at www.6pm.com
Lipsy Sequin Dress - $16 at www.blackwhitedress.com
Adrianna Papell for E! Live From the Red Carpet Sequin Dress - $118.80 from Dillard's

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Boy Is Mine

I wasn't really interested in Monica's wedding to former L.A. Lakers Shannon Brown earlier this month UNTIL I saw her wedding gown!  So of course, I researched all of the details, and here they are: 

Apparently Monica and Shannon had a secret wedding in November at Monica's home in L.A., and they decided to have a second, more extravagant wedding on July 9.  There were 340 guests, a 40-piece gospel choir, and a few celebrity bridal party members - Kobe Bryant and Ciara. 

And the gown?  Feast your eyes on this custom, haute couture gown by Stephane Rolland:

This fitted and corseted Ivory mermaid gazar dress is draped with twisting satin organza.  The best part?  A 12-foot long graphic waves train embroidered with crystal falls!

I'm not sure how she did it, but she managed to change into another dress for the reception - also by Stephane Rolland, but this one was blue to match her color scheme.  I would never want to take this gown off!  Then again, when you have this enormous engagement ring on your left hand, I guess you don't really need to be wearing anything to feel amazing and fabulous...


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hot Diggity Dog

Did you know that July is National Hot Dog Month?!  It makes sense, considering that July 4th is the biggest hot dog holiday of the year, when Americans chow down on approximately 155 million hot dogs.  And I'm happy to say that I definitely have had my share of hot dogs this month! 

Even though I'm 19 days late on celebrating this glorious month of hot dog eating, it's not too late to pay homage to the beloved hot dog.  Here are 12 different ways to eat your hot dog, one for each day for the rest of the month!  And always remember - dress the dog, not the bun!

Pete's Famous Hot Dog
In case you can't make the trip to Birmingham, Alabama, to grab a bite to eat, try making one of these at home:  a grilled hot dog served with sauerkraut, ground beef, and homemade "sauce" that resembles New York red onion sauce.

Sonoran Hot Dog
Originating in Sonora, Mexico, this monstrosity of a meal is a hot dog grilled in a processor or on a griddle, wrapped in Mesquite-smoked bacon, topped with freshly chopped tomatoes, onions, shredded yellow or cotijo cheese, tomatillo salsa or red chili sauce, pinto beans, mayonnaise, ketchup and/or mustard, and served on bread and often with a fresh-roasted chili.  Whew - I'm stuffed just looking at it!

The Original Oki Dog
This hot dog "wrap" is found at Oki Dog in West Hollywood - two hot dogs on a flour tortilla, covered with chili and pastrami and wrapped up like a burrito.

Chicago-Style Hot Dog
If you are a hot dog lover, you must travel to Chicago and try one of their famous dogs.  A Chicago-style dog is a steamed all-beef hot dog topped with chopped onions, sliced/diced/wedged tomatoes, both a dill pickle spear and sweet pickle relish, yellow mustard directly on the sausage, pickled sport peppers, and is finished with celery salt, and served on a steamed poppy seed bun.  Chicago-style never includes ketchup, though some street vendors offer small packets for those with the guts to ask for it.

Kansas City-Style Hot Dog
In Kansas and Missouri, they take a simpler approach, by topping their dogs with sauerkraut and melted Swiss cheese.

The Fenway Frank
A staple for Boston Red Sox fans, ketchup, mustard, relish, piccalilli, and chopped onions are the most common toppings for a Boston dog.  Also unique to Boston - hot dogs are often served steamed as opposed to grilled.

Coney Dog
Originated in lower Michigan, the Coney Dog is very specific as to the ingredients: a beef and pork hot dog served on a steamed bun, topped with a beanless, all-meat chili, diced yellow onion, and yellow mustard.  There are two variations on the Coney Dog: Detroit style, made with a runnier chili, and Flint style, made with thicker, drier chili.  This version of a chili dog has developed into an entire restaurant industry, known as Coney Islands.

Newark Style or Italian Hot Dog
Traditionally, the Newark Style or Italian hot dog is made by cutting a round "pizza bread" into quarters, cutting a pocket into it and spreading the inside with mustard. A deep-fried dog is put in the pocket, topped with fried or sautéed onions and peppers, and then topped off with crisp-fried potato chunks.  A quicker version of this dog, often called a Double Dog, can be found at local New Jersey luncheonettes and pizzerias, where instead of the traditional potato round, French fries are substituted, and a Portuguese or sub roll replaces the traditional round bread.

Seattle Hot Dog
In Seattle, hot dogs are served with cream cheese and grilled onions on a toasted bun.  Before being placed in the bun, the dogs are split in half and grilled.  The typical condiments offered are Sriracha sauce (a type of Thai hot sauce) and jalapenos.

All-the-Way Hot Dog
In West Virgina, hot dog lovers can go "all-the-way" with the traditional toppings of yellow mustard, chopped onions, chili (or "sauce"), and cole slaw.

 Brazilian Hot Dog
Get the feel of São Paulo by filling a non-heated semi-circular bun with a weiner-type sausage, chopped tomatoes, vinaigrette, sweet corn, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and topped with mashed potatoes or French fries.  This weiner is so massive that it is served in a plastic bag!

Japanese Fusion Dog
In the mood for Asian cuisine?  Doesn't mean you can't have a hot dog! Hailing from the Northwestern states, a Japanese Fusion Dog is an invention that pairs hot dogs with Japanese and Asian condiments like wasabi, kimchi (a traditional fermented Korean dish made of vegetables with varied seasonings), miso sauce, Japanese mayo, teriyaki, and seaweed toppings.