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kristen

DIY Gifts Life

DIY Personalize Christmas Orniments

January 8, 2017

A little late to be posting Christmas gift ideas, but I didn’t want to spoil the surprise for Wes. For our first Christmas as a married couple, we decided to make each other Christmas gifts. This isn’t an original idea, but I made personalized Christmas orniments. Sadly, we don’t have room for a Christmas tree, but I made these for our future Christmas tree. fullsizerender-3I looked up a bunch of DIY clay recipes, but after rummaging through my supply closet I found this Crayola Model Magic. I had this for years, but never knew what to make out of it. It pays to be a pack rat sometimes.
fullsizerender-1I rolled out the clay using a glass jar and used Christmas cookie cutters I had to make different shapes. I used a chopstick to poke a hole to lace the twine through. I bought small letter rubber stamps to customize each orniment. I highly recommend this Crayola clay. It rolls out very easy and holds it’s shape nicely. It’s also easy to roll back up if you make a mistake. I placed the orniments onto parchment paper to dry overnight, but I’d wait 72 hours to make sure it’s completely harden. fullsizerender-4

I added little touches onces it completely hardened. I wrote the date on the back of the orniments and painted a few designs onto some. I’m really happy with the way these turned out. It’s a fun, personalized gift that’s easy to make. Even though this was Christmas themed, you could probably make clay tags for anytime of the year using different cookie cutters. I can’t wait have a real Christmas tree to put these on!

Meat Reviews

My Pizza Stone Review

December 14, 2016

We’re finally getting around to using some of wedding gifts. We received the Old Stone Oven Rectangular Pizza Stone off our Amazon wedding registry.

I never made pizza dough myself so I opted to go for a store bought version. It was the perfect opportunity to try the Trader Joes Garlic and Herb Pizza Dough that I’ve been eyeing. The dough was fairly easy to roll out. The end results were great and I highly recommend using this flavorful pizza dough.
fullsizerender-1We decided to make a meat lovers, mushroom pizza. We whipped up a quick homemade tomato sauce and topped it with shredded mozzarella cheese, ground beef, pepperoni, chicken sausage and mushrooms. Another shout out to Trader Joes for their Jalapeño Chicken Sausage. I don’t eat Italian sausage, but I will definitely be trying out more chicken sausages. It had the perfect amount of flavor and heat. fullsizerender-2 fullsizerender-3 fullsizerender-4We followed the pizza stone instructions, which were to place the stone inside the oven, while preheating the oven to 450F. Our pizza was topped and ready to go into the oven, but that’s when we ran into some problems. How do we transfer the pizza onto the sizzling stone? We ended up putting the pizza onto a floured cookie sheet with the hopes of having it slide off onto the stone. It was a struggle, but we were eventually able to get the pizza onto the stone. I probably should have researched this prior to trying to make pizza. I later googled that we should have made the pizza on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Then using the cookie sheet, slide the parchment paper and pizza onto the stone. That would have made clean up alot easier too. 
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Overall, the pizza stone worked great to give us that crunchy crust that we were looking for. We could hear the sizzle as soon as the dough hit the stone. Going forward, I’m going to try out the cookie tray and parchment paper technique. Here’s to many more future pizza nights!

 

 

 

Life Reviews Travel

My #NYCWFF Review

October 18, 2016

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend this year’s New York City Wine and Food Festival. My uncle won tickets and my mom and I were the lucky ones to reap the benefits. 

The festival started at noon, but we had fast pass tickets and were able to get on the expediated line to beat the rush. It was held at Pier 94. I’ve never been there, but it was a huge space. There were 2 stages where guest chefs gave demostrations and the rest of the space was filled with various food and wine vendors. There were so many different vendors offering free food and drinks that I never had to wait on line more than 10 minutes for anything. fullsizerender-4

There a were plenty of food and wine to go around! I ate everything from meatballs, porkbelly, chicken drumsticks, baked clams to cheesecakes, cookies and ice cream. They did not skimp on the portions too. Most samples were so big that it was able to satisfy both me and my mom. I was surprised by how many alcohol vendors were there. They had a seperate section for wines whiskey, gin, vodka, etc. Not to mention the cocktails were amazing! Some of the vendors included Shop Rite, David Burkes Kitchen, Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse, Blue Moon, and Cupcake Vineyards.fullsizerender-1 img_7426 fullsizerender-3fullsizerender-2I was also excited to see some Food Network chefs. Whenever we needed a break from eating, we headed to a demo. We saw Moriomoto, Rachel Ray, Tiffany Thiessen, Emeril Lagasse and Valerie Bertinelli. The morning demos had less people and we were actually able to get a seat, but the afternoon demos were packed and ended up standing or sitting on the floor. Morimoto was by far my favorite chef that I saw. He’s a really funny guy in real life. fullsizerender-5fullsizerender-2The best part was the amount of loot I was able to collect by the end of the day. They were giving out everything from samples of avocado oil to lady finger cookies to full size bottles of Kikkoman products. fullsizerender-8Would I go back again? It was definitely an amazing experience and to be able to go for free was even better. Tickets are around $200, but most of the proceeds go to the No Kid Hungry and New York City’s Food Bank. I think it’s worth the price for the amount of food, alcohol and entertainment that you get for 6 hours.photo

Reviews Wedding

My ‘Plated’ Review

October 12, 2016

Two of our friends gifted us a subscription to Plated as a wedding present. Plated is a meal subscription service. Every week you pick 2-3 meals and they mail all the ingredients portioned out along with matching recipe cards. This gift came in handy as I started to run out of dinner ideas.

Here’s my week 1 first impressions. I chose the 3 meals a week for 2 people plan, which is $72 per week. You start by picking 2-3 meals from from about 9 recipes. There’s a good variety of vegitarian options and protein options. A plus about Plated is that you can easily skip weeks for whatever reason. You also choose which day of the week you want the package to be delievered. Plated shippments are tracked so you know exactly when it should be delievered to your door.

It came in one box with cooler bags to keep all the ingredients fresh. I appreciated how organized everything was. The ingredients were grouped and labeled by recipe. I enjoyed the large recipe cards with detailed photos. I will definitely be saving these recipe cards for the future.
fullsizerender-3My biggest complaint would be the portion size. I thought that their filler ingredients outweighed the main ingredient. Their 2 person portion of steak looked more like a portion for one.

Tomato Braised Fish with Fennel, Potatoes and Dill:
fullsizerender-2fullsizerender-4Seared Steak with Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard Gratin:
fullsizerender-5fullsizerender-6Sicilian Turkey Meatballs with Eggplant Ragufullsizerender-1 fullsizerender-7Overall, I enjoy using Plated. I do less grocery shopping and don’t have to stress so much about what to make for dinner. We picked recipes based on trying ingredients/recipes that we wouldn’t normally gravitate towards, so it allowed us to expand our horizons. Some of the recepes were better than others. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll be continuing my subscription once my current one runs out. For the little amount of food you recieve, it’s just not worth it. Plated is a unique gift that would be great for newlyweds, parents with newborns or just anyone who wants to cook, but don’t have all the time in the world.

Life Travel

The Nifty Noodle Goes to San Francisco- What to Eat

September 23, 2016

All our friends who have been to San Francisco speak so highly of the food there. Especially, the Mexican food.

During our first night there we decided to try the top two Mexican restaurants that just so happened to be a block away from each other: La Taqueria and El Farolito. The difficult question was what we should eat at both places. We decied to try the tacos at La Taqueria and the burrito at El Farolito.

We started off at La Taqueria a variety of 4 tacos- pork, chicken, carne asada and Chorizo. However, the server messed up our order and we ended up with two carne asada tacos and no Chorizo. To my surprise, chicken was definitely my favorite. What made the taco was their hot sauce. I wish they bottled it so I could take it home with me. Even though their carne asada was their most popular, I found it a little dry.

fullsizerender-2We were full by the time we got to El Farolio. I guess you could say we were a tad overeager. We decided to split the “extreme” burrito. It basically came with the works. We were presented with a huge burrito. It was almost impossible to get a bit of everything in every bite. The burrito was delicious, but the hot sauce was disappointing. It’s difficult to say which place was better as comparing tacos to burritos is like comparing apples to oranges. 
img_7148Philz Coffee

It would be a crime to not go to San Francisco and not try some Philz Coffee. Everyone seems to absolutely love this place. I ordered their iconic Mint Mojito despite not being a huge mint fan. The coffee alone was amazing, but I could probably do away with the mint next time. img_7140Roli Roti

I stumbled upon Roli Roti when I was walking around the Ferry Building. This place has over 1000 reviews on Yelp. I had to see what the rave was all about. The line didn’t look so bad, but I ended up waiting almost 45 minutes for my pochetta sandwich. I was so hangry that I decided to get a side of roasted potatoes. Maybe I was just really hungry, but this was delicious! The meat was juicy and the potatoes were roasted using the fat. What wasn’t there to love about this combination? 
fullsizerender-1img_7144In-N-Out

It’s been a while since I had an In-N-Out burger and Wes has been dying to get his hands on one, so lucky for us there was one at Fishermen’s Wharf. I’ll be honest, we were disappointed. The burger was alright, just alright. East coast friends, Shake Shack is way better! The biggest let down were the french fries. The fries were bland and the animal style did not make it any better. If you never tried In-N-Out, you’re not missing out. img_7201Good Mong Kok Bakery

Right before heading to the airport to go back home, we decided to pick up some dim sum and egg tarts for the road. It was the day before Labor Day and surprisingly, many shops were closed. We came across Good Mong Kok and at 8:30am, there was a line out the door. It’s always a good sign when people are lining up outside. It was a tiny hole in the wall with no seats. We waited about 20 minutes. We ordered strimp dumplings, Sui Mai, pork buns, basically everything we love back home. There were two main differences about dim sum in SF vs dim sum in NYC. The dim sum in San Francisco were huge, even the pieces of shrimp in the dumplings were abnormally large. The skin on the dumplings and rice noodle rolls were thicker than back home. That didn’t bother me since I enjoy chewier noodles. img_7228img_7229Eastern Bakery

I can’t eat dim sum without having an egg tart at the end. We wanted to try the famour Golden Gate Bakery, but they were opening later and we had a flight to catch. We settled for Eastern Bakery and it did not let down. It’s probably one of the best egg tarts I ever had. The custard was on point! If this was amazing, I wonder what Golden Gate Bakery’s egg tart would have tasted like. Guess I’ll have to save that for another trip. img_7230Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

We all know I have a love for donuts, so I had to try some in San Francisco. Mr. Homes Bakehouse was right by our hotel and a blogger that I follow posted Instagram pics of this place. The donut flavor of the day was Chocolate Stout. WIN! I love the fact that they did not skim on the cream. I also ordered the ham and cheese croissant, but it was not good as their donuts.  img_7150Ghiradelli

Last but not least, we had to go to Ghiradelli. We ordered the ultimate ice cream sundae. The ice cream and chocolate sauce made for the perfect combination. We got the dipped waffle bowl, but unfortunitely, the chocolate made the bowl soggy. Not good. I recommend just getting it in a cup and asking them for a waffle bowl on the side. img_7204