Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Justyn & Dad's Birthday Dinner

On Sunday my mom made a beautiful spread of sushi and other fixins for Justyn and my dad's birthday. It was all so good. She made unagi rolls, spicy tuna rolls, and California rolls along with tuna, fatty tuna and salmon sashimi served on a large salt block. There was also a stir fried potato and bell pepper dish, quick pickled cucumber, natto, tofu, some weird tasting baby eggplants and onion salad. If you guys think I'm a good cook (which I'm not), you should see my mom's cooking. Amazing!

Cooking: Moroccan Chicken Meatballs w/ Couscous

I really felt bad that Justyn has been cooking a ton and all I've done is make some pizza rolls for parties so tonight I decided to make dinner. Justyn requested chicken meatballs so I looked up a recipe and was intruiged by this Moroccan style dish.

It's actually a fairly healthy recipe but the flavors came out so bold. I'm not missing anything.. well I guess the only thing I would change would be to make a bit of roux with the veggies so that the stew came out thicker. It's fairly soup without it.

Moroccan Chicken Meatballs w/ Couscous


1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 lbs uncooked ground chicken breast, skinless
1/4 cup onion grated
2 tbsp pine nuts coarsely chopped
2 tbsp parsley, fresh flat-leaf chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp table salt
2 tsp olive oil
3/4 onion chopped
2 medium garlic cloves chopped
3 medium plum tomatoes diced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
14 dried apricots halved
2 medium carrots cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
10 oz cooked couscous, plain variety
3 tbsp sliced almonds

Combine the bread crumbs, chicken, onion, pine nuts, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, the cinnamon, ginger, and salt; mix well. With wet hands, shape the mixture into 12 balls.

Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a nonstick Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, 6–8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to the Dutch oven; stir in the onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cumin. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are softened, about 5 minutes. Return the meatballs to the Dutch oven, then add the broth, prunes, carrots, honey, and crushed red pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the flavors are blended and the meatballs are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon chopped parsley.

Transfer some couscous to a bowl, add the meatballs, ladle over some of the soup and garnish with chopped parsley & sliced almonds.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cards Blog Challenge: Leaves

This week's challenge on the Cards Blog was to create a card using leaves. I actually didn't have a plan going into this one and it sorta just formed itself. I hand drew and cut out the leaves and used a background woodgrain stamp to stamp and emboss a strip of vellum for some added interest. When I stuck on the leaves and added the sentiments the right side of the card looked really naked so I added the same woodgrain stamp from the vellum with some Versamark ink & added a row of zig zag stitching. I then took a tip from Kristina Werner and rounded the bottom corner. Much better right?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

NAC: Congrats!

I came up with the sketch for this card a couple days ago and thought it'd be a pretty easy card to create and film. Unfortunately while I was making it, I quickly found out it was a lot more difficult than it looked. With that said, I obviously decided not to film it plus I want to get an arm extender for my tripod and camera before I film anymore. It'll look a lot better when I do and I promise I'll make a lot more videos. In the meantime, here's the card.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Justyn!

This weekend we went to Napa with Erik, Imelda, Dave, Dave, Mat & Janice to celebrate Justyn's birthday. The weather was beautiful, the food was lovely and the company was even better. I couldn't have asked for a better trip.

We started out by driving to Napa on Friday and going straight to Castello di Amorosa which is a castle winery.

After the castle we went to Buster Burke's for lunch/dinner. Everyone was amazed that the habanero BBQ sauce they had was actually spicy. My tongue was burning for a good 20 minutes after trying a small bite of it.

In the evening we took advantage of the hot tub and since Justyn doesn't particularly enjoy water, he went next door to play some Texas Hold Em.

The next morning we went to Hwy 29 Cafe which is about 5 minutes from the Gaia hotel where we stayed.

Shortly after breakfast, we were picked up by our driver, Toby. We started out at V.Sattui which was already very crowded but we were finally able to taste some of their wines.

After V. Sattui we went to a much quieter and tranquil winery called Sullivan. I was pleased to see that the owner was there to greet us and led us through the tasting. He had to run off and tend to some wines so he had one of the employees finish the tasting. These wines were absolutely amazing and Justyn quickly decided to buy a couple bottles. The property itself was very pretty too.

Alpha Omega was next on the list. Toby reserved a table for us on the terrace which made it possible for us to enjoy the tasting and weather at the same time.

At this point I was feeling really tipsy so I don't even remember what winery we went to after Alpha Omega but this place also had a beautiful propery with bocce ball courts as well. The group went in for a tasting and apparently I was not invited inside due to me being inxoicated so I played bocce ball outside with Toby while we waited for everyone to finish up.

For dinner we went to Bistro Jeanty and had a very memorable meal. We started with escargot and roasted bone marrow on toast points. For our entrees we ordered a creamy mushroom risotto, beef bourginon, pork and one other dish that was out of this world. For dessert we ordered bread pudding and rice pudding one of which had a candle lit to celebrate Justyn's birthday. It's no wonder that Bistro Jeanty is my number one absolute favorite restaurant. Everything was so delish!