Friday, December 30, 2011

Catching up on Movies

Since we have had a little more time lately and because there are a lot of good movies out, Mark and I have been to the movies about 3 times in 2 weeks.  We both really liked all the movies we often does that happen!  I would highly recommend all of them.  First, we saw The Descendents, with George Clooney.  Good movie and really good performances.  It moves pretty quickly and keeps you engaged--my kind of movie.  Then we saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Mark read this book but I didn't.  The movie is good whether you read the book or not.  You can probably tell this from the preview, but it is pretty intense and probably not everyone's cup of tea.  Rooney Mara is amazing in it.  Most recently, the day after Christmas, we saw the Muppets movie.  This is a great movie for kids and funny!  This is probably my favorite movie out of the ones we saw just because I tend to like light-hearted movies.

There are still a few more that I want to see but don't know if I'll get around to it while they are still in the theater.  I want to see "The Sitter" with Jonah Hill and "Young Adult" with Charlize Theron.  Hope I get around to it but I know we're going to be busy again with the new year rolling in!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Wreath Cookies

I remember having these "cookies" since I was a kid.  My piano teacher used to have a cookie exchange party and I think that's where I was introduced to these cookies.  They are so easy to make and so delicious!  Mark and I have been making them together for a few years's nice to have Mark in the kitchen with me and to enjoy our treats together.

We had to make 2 batches of these cookies because we ate the first batch so quickly.  We didn't have enough regular marshmallows for the 2nd batch, so we threw in some "gingerbread" marshmallows we had (the brown ones in the picture).  It didn't really make the cookies taste any different.

Christmas Wreath Cookies

1/2 cup butter
4 cups mini marshmallows
1 tsp liquid green food coloring
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups corn flakes
red hot candies

1. In a 2-quarter saucepan, melt butter and marshmallows over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.

Add and mix quickly the food coloring, almond and vanilla extracts, then corn flakes.

2. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls on buttered waxed paper or aluminum foil.  Decorate with 3 red hot candies.  We also put white pearl candies on them--that was a new addition this year.

3. Cool completely.  Stored in a sealed container in a cool area.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Goodbye Christmas 2011--My Favorite Gifts

Wow, I've been enjoying this holiday season so much I've gotten really behind on my blog!  I've been taking pictures along the way but haven't had time to sit down and write posts.  But I am slowly catching up.  Mark was off of work Monday and today and it warms my heart to spend time relaxing together.    

We spent this Christmas my in-laws here in NJ.  It was a wonderful day, with lots of time spent opening presents.  Mark came up with a good plan this year though, instead of waiting for each person to unwrap each gift and show it to everyone else, we each opened one gift at the same time, then shared what we got.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  For a few hours.

I (we) got some really generous and awesome gifts this year!  Like seriously, I love these gifts so much if you were here in person I would announce them and show them to you in my Oprah announcement voice.  But alas, there is only one queen of talk--and I miss her show dearly.  OWN is just not the same.

In any case, I took a picture of some of my favorites:

A super soft scarve and glove set from Lands' End.  Love the softness and the color.

A set of 10 Oxo airtight storage pur-dy!  When Mark goes to bed at night, I stare at these and can't believe they are mine--all mine!  Just kidding...maybe.

A Burberry scarf Mark bought me from Harrod's in London with fancy-schmancy wrapping.  Now I'm going to have to keep the box and bag for the rest of my life because they are too nice to throw away.  The wrapping job was pretty ridiculous--it was like the scene in Love Actually when Mr. Bean is wrapping the necklace present at the department store.  The only thing this gift was missing was a stick of cinnamon--you know what I mean if you've seen the movie.

A gigantic stand mixer--Holy Cow, I can't believe I own a stand mixer!

A Keurig machine from my brother--I feel so posh using this in the morning!  I've actually been using it a lot throughout the day to make hot water for tea. 

Super Soft Pajama Set--I'm going to be living in these this winter.  No joke.
Look how soft and fluffy!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New York Philharmonic Holiday Concert

To cap off Mark's 30th birthday weekend (I know this post is much belated), we went to the NY Philharmonic Holiday Concert at Lincoln Center.  It was a really nice concert--I think my favorite part was Edelweiss played on the French horn (because the song is from my all time favorite movie and the French horn is my all time favorite instrument).  They wouldn't let us take pictures inside the concert hall, but I took a few outside of it.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sundae, Sundae, Sundae

On Sunday morning of Mark's birthday weekend, we had a delicious breakfast (well at least the boys did).  Mine was not so bad--I had pancakes and bacon.  For Mark's birthday, Mel and Stacie gifted him with bacon.  Yup, that's right--real bacon from the butcher.  MMmmmmm.  I've never had bacon from a butcher before, I've only had the kind you buy in a pack from the grocery store.  It was good!

Along with their bacon, Mark and TJ decided to make ice cream waffle sundaes with the leftovers from their jubilee roll (and some other fixin's)

I would say that's a good way to wrap up a 30th birthday celebration!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mark's 30th Birthday Dinner

On Saturday of Mark's birthday weekend, the boys starting off their weekend like this:
Playing Video Games
Video games were followed by this:

That was a Friendly's Jubilee Roll.

The boys really could have played video games all day (it was Lego Indiana Jones if you must know) but I had made dinner reservations in New York City and planned for a few of our friends to meet us there (unbeknownst to Mark).  The restaurant we went to was in the theater district and it was called Trattoria Trecolore.  I would say that food was good but not great.  I would go there again if we were in the area and needed a place to eat but I wouldn't go out of my way to eat there again.  We had great company though and had a great time.

After dinner we walked up toward Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree.  This year I actually saw the tree the day they put it up, but it was not yet decorated.  If you've never seen the tree in person, it definitely looks nicer and more majestic on TV, but it's also cool to see in person.  

We finished the night by having a drink at an Irish pub called The Long Room.  It ended up being the same place we had lunch when my dad and brother were visiting!  We had so much fun and thanks to all our friends for helping us celebrate!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mark's Birthday Surprise

I didn't get a chance to blog at all last week!  This holiday season has gone by so quickly.  I feel we have been so busy and with holiday stuff on top of work, I have been so tired.  I must say though I've pretty much done all my holiday shopping and just have a few more things I have to wrap.  I actually completed all my shopping and didn't step foot inside a retail store.  Yay!  I did all online shopping this year--thank goodness for Amazon and free two day shipping.

I had been looking forward to last weekend for a few weeks.  Like so excited for it everytime I would think about it I would smile.  The reason I was so excited was because I was planning to surprise Mark for his 30th birthday by having one of his best friends visit from Wisconsin.  When I was in the planning stages, I really was skeptical that it would actually happen.  I know December is such a busy month for people, I didn't think TJ would have the time to forgo an entire weekend to come out to NJ.  I figured I would ask anyway and he actually said there was one weekend that he would be able to come!

Since TJ wasn't arriving until late Friday evening, I had to make up some excuse to get me out of the apartment without Mark getting too suspicious.  So I said that I had to have an emergency session with my patient, which seemed to work.  TJ's flight actually arrived early.  I had brought my camera to the airport with me so that I could capture Mark's reaction when he saw TJ, but my camera was on the wrong setting!  Boo!  So I got some blurry pictures of that.  

I Finally Put My Camera on the Right Setting

Even though TJ was only here for like 36 hours, we had an awesome time!  I know Mark really enjoyed hanging out with TJ--they are so cute!  And thanks to Michele for letting TJ come out here!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Lard Na

I am trying to expand my Thai cooking repertoire.  Since I can now make a pretty satisfying dish of Pad See-Ew (my favorite Thai dish), I've been thinking about trying to make Lard Na, which used to be my favorite Thai dish until it was usurped by Pad See-Ew.  The dishes are really cousins...they have similar ingredients, just that Lard Na has a gravy sauce over the noodles and Pad See-Ew is a dry noodle dish.  For any one who is wondering, Lard Na (also sometimes spelled as Lad Na) has nothing to do with lard or fat.  In thai, "lard" or "lad" means "to pour" and "Na" means "face." So the name of the dish means "to pour over the face" since the gravy is poured on top of the noodles.

I made this dish when our friends came over for lunch this past weekend.  I have to say it turned out pretty authentic and we ate all of it!  

I found a few recipes online but ultimately went with one at this blog.   I slightly modified the recipe. 

Lard Na

16 oz. fresh wide rice noodles
2 tablespoons thick dark soy sauce
4 chicken breast tenderloins, sliced thinly
2 cups gai lan (chinese broccoli), chopped coarsely
4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1/2 teaspoon bean sauce
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons cornstarch

1. Marinate the chicken in 1 tablespoon tapioca flour and 1 tablespoon water.

2. While the chicken is marinating, saute the garlic on medium heat until golden brown.  Then add the yellow bean sauce and saute for 1-2 more minutes.  Add the marinated chicken and cook until it's done.

3. Turn the heat up to high and add 2 cups chicken broth.  Let the mixture boil while you add the oyster sauce, sugar, fish sauce, and black pepper.  Adjust these seasonings to your taste. 

4.  Add the gai lan.  Then mix 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 1/2 cup of water.  Slowly add this mixture to the pot, stirring as you add.  The final sauce should be fairly thick and somewhat sticky.  Once it's done, turn the heat the low to keep warm while you prepare the noodles.

5. Saute noodles in a pan over high heat with a little olive oil and 2 tablespoons thick dark soy sauce until noodles are slightly charred.

6.  Pour the sauce on top of the noodles. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chicken Satay

I made chicken satay for the first time this past weekend.  We had our friends Stacie and Mel and their baby over for the afternoon on Saturday.  I wanted to make some Thai dishes for them to enjoy.  I got a powder mix from the Thai grocery store to make this, so I don't know exactly what the ingredients are.  I added a little coconut milk to the powder and marinated the chicken in it for about an hour.  Then I skewered the meat and cooked it on a grill pan.

Again, we started eating and I forgot to take a picture of the final product until we were half way through.  It was good though and everyone enjoyed it!
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