Sunday, July 21, 2013

5 Lb Cake

Once upon a time, I made a cake. It was no ordinary cake though. It contained 5 sticks of butter, 6 cups of sugar, and was heavier than most newborn babies. It took me all day to make and destroyed my whole kitchen. This cake is what dreams are made of, desert dreams that is.

Behold, the caramel cake:

My grandmother makes a caramel cake every year around Christmas. I only get to eat a tiny slice or 2 once a year, so I was totally naive about what would happen if I had a whole cake to myself.

5 lbs is what happened. In a week. I gained 5 lbs in a week eating cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And dessert. It called to me in the mornings. It said, "I'm delicious with that cup of coffee. Cut a tiny 3-bite slice and see how I complement your morning joe." I did, and that cake was telling the truth. It was delicious with my coffee.

Then lunch time rolled around and it would whisper, "psst, I'm yummy right now. You ran around with your kids at the park all morning, a tiny bite of me won't do a bit of damage to your figure." So I forked a tiny bite, then kept forking until I had to lie down for a rest.

It sang to me while I cooked dinner. "Lalalala, I'm so good, you should stuff me in your mouth while you stir that sauce. No one is looking, lalalala!" So I did.

After I put the girls to bed, I'd promise myself NO MORE CAKE. But it lured me in like a sweet talking trollop. I ate myself into cake oblivion every night for a week and I have the tight jeans to prove it.

I didn't know how to end the eating of this cake. I knew after consuming 4 servings the first day I made the cake I was in trouble. My stomach ached, my teeth hurt, my jeans were struggling to zip. But I couldn't stop. "I will cut it in half and give it to the neighbors," I told JD. But I never did. I just kept eating it.

I served it at my wine and cheese party. That got rid of several slices, but there was still more cake left over. I was at a crossroads. I had begun to hate this cake that I loved so much. I begged my friends and family for advice. "Do I eat it all in one sitting to get rid of it, or do I throw it away to finally be done with it?" "Don't you dare throw that cake away," they screamed! "That is the best darn cake in the entire world and if you throw it away, you will be committing an injustice to all humanity." Or something like that...

So I pressed on. I had to, it was my duty for all mankind to consume every last bite of the best cake in the entire world. And last Thursday, at approximately 2:12 in the afternoon, I finished the cake. It was one of the happiest moments of my life (and the fattest). Now I can go back to living my life like it was intended; with only 1 or 2 slices of caramel cake at Christmas only.

If you would like to make your own delicious caramel cake and gain an additional 5 lbs in a very short period of time, here's the recipe I followed. Do it for yourself. Do it for humanity.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Girls' Night In: Wine and Cheese Night

Last week in Arizona, my sister in law and I went to a wine bar for our girls' night out. It was this swanky little place that served small plates along with their impressive wine selections. Jenny and I ordered the butcher block, a meat and cheese plate with olives, hummus, and nuts to complement our vino. It was so good, we gobbled every bite and declared it to be the only way to eat for all time and eternity.

I wanted to recreate that experience with my girlfriends here in California, but with traveling husbands, babies, and schedules to synchronize, going out was going to be difficult. So we stayed in and had a wine night at my house!

I don't formally entertain very often because the thought of preparing my home and food for other people makes me anxious. But, it was so simple, there was nothing to be anxious about. There was very little prep involved. I assembled groupings of food that traditionally pair well with wine. Everything was very simple, the only food items I prepared were the roasted asparagus, caprese skewers, and a cake. I laid everything out a few minutes before my friends showed up, turned on some music, and waited for the fun to start.

Wine and Cheese Girls' Night In Menu:

- Cheese, I served manchego and toscano
- Grapes
- Mediterranean olives
- Roasted asparugus
- Caprese skewers (skewer grape tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella on toothpicks or kabob skewers)
- An assortment of cured meats. I served salami, prosciutto, and capicola (tip: wrap the asparagus in the meat and eat it rolled up together)
- Artisanal bread with butter and/or pesto
- Caramel cake
- Wine

It was such a fun night. We ate, sipped our wine, and told hilarious stories until after midnight. And my friend Monica told us a ghost story that is still freaking me out and I don't even believe in ghosts!! It was a great night in and I can't wait to host another one! 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Spaghetti Picnic

The girls woke up late from their naps today so I decided instead of a late bedtime, I would take them to the park to run off some energy and have a spaghetti picnic.

We met friends, ate leftover pasta on a blanket in the grass, drank smuggled wine in tiny glass jars, listened to folksy tunes on my phone, and played until the sun went down. It was pretty awesome. And the best part is the girls went straight to bed when we got home. We definitely will be having more dinner picnics this summer!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Desert Girls Week

You know the feeling you get at the end of a really fun vacation where you want to stop time, so you try to bottle each moment in attempt to remember them when you return home? That's what I felt for the last few days of my vacation in the desert last week. Honestly, I sort of hate that feeling, the awareness of time slipping by too swiftly makes me melancholy. Instead, I wish I could just enjoy each moment by being in the moment without the knowledge that it's all going to end very soon. Man, did it ever end too soon...

The girls and I drove back to my aunt's house in Scottsdale, AZ to meet my mom, sister in law, baby niece, and grandmother for a week long girls' reunion. It was so, so great.

There was nonstop swimming, shopping, and eating. We watched movies after we put the babies to bed. We never ran out of dessert. Or wine. We laughed, we talked, we took turns bathing suntanned little girls. We cooked. And we ate and ate and ate. I got to sleep until 9 o'clock every morning. It was so nice.

My girls loved having so many extra hands to hold, arms to hug them, and eyes and ears to give them some undivided attention. I loved having the help. It was a glorious task chopping onions without a baby on my hip and being able to drink my coffee in peace without having to reheat it a few times. I love my babies, but boy do I love having some help every now and then. 

My sister in law is one of my best friends. I talk to her almost everyday, but there is nothing like seeing her face in person and loving on her sweet baby for a week. We had a girls' night out that ended in uncontrollable giggles and cartwheels. Maybe we peed our pants a little... I need more Jenny in my life and I'm not ashamed to say it!

We were there Tuesday to Tuesday. Around Saturday I started to realize our time together was getting shorter and shorter. Jenny and I had plans to have another girls' night out, but neither of us really wanted to stray from the other girls on our trip. My aunt was the hostess with mostess, as usual. And my Nana soaked up precious time with her great granddaughters. Seeing my mom was the best. My girls love her. 

And just like that, it was over. I am trying to hold onto the savored memories and moments of our week, but like our awesome desert tans, they are quickly fading. Despite my inability to stop time, I wouldn't trade our visit for anything. Until the next time, girls!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Low Blood Sugar, Be Gone!

Every day around 3 pm, my blood sugar plummets and I get very lightheaded like I'm going to pass out. I realize that I am starving and search for something to eat. Because I feel like I am going to fall over if I don't eat RIGHT NOW, I look for something quick. I usually go for chips, crackers, or brownies and end up eating way too much. Afterwards I feel bloated and lethargic. I'm not hungry for dinner and barely eat what I prepare for my family. It's an ugly cycle and I wanted to change it.

I spoke with a good friend and asked her for healthy, energizing snack ideas and she suggested complex carbohydrates for a midday pick me up. I took her advice and have been making myself yummy, healthy small plates around 2:30 everyday to avoid the blood sugar crash at 3.

I thought about the things I really like to eat as snacks - fruit, cheese, cured meats, olives - and realized I was basically craving an antipasto platter!

Clockwise: olives, spicy artichoke hearts, whole milk mozzarella, plum wedges, pepperonis. 

Clockwise: white peach wedges, Monterey Jack cheese, olives, hummus and crackers. 

Clockwise: grapes, kalamata olive bread, olives, turkey, manchego cheese. 

I have the most fun curating my small plates with foods that complement each other. I always have fruit, olives, cheese, and protein selections and look for foods that are different each week. The goal is to refuel my body, not fill up, so I make a small tasting of each item. Where's the wine?! Wouldn't a glass of red be perfect with those plates??

By making my snack before my 3 o'clock crash time and selecting healthy complex carbs, I avoid the lightheadedness and the lethargy that follows from eating junk. And it's just enough food to last until dinner. By 6pm, I'm hungry again and can eat with my family. It has worked out so well and I haven't felt my blood sugar dip in few a weeks. Hooray for health!