Thursday, July 31, 2014

Last Night's Dinner : Go Fish : Teriyaki Salmon with Sriracha Cream Sauce

I have never eaten so much fish in my life than since I started dating my now-hubby almost three years ago. As a kid, I wouldn’t touch the stuff. No fish (unless you count fish sticks, which I don’t), no shrimp, no crab… But, oddly enough, I went gaga for lobster. I think it was the lemon butter. Yum. But I digress.

It wasn’t until I got into my college years that I started giving white fish a try. I wasn’t offended by the nice, light and delicate flavor of sea bass or halibut. And I finally warmed up to shrimp (and it’s off-putting-to-some texture) after trying a bite (and liking it!) at a teppanyaki restaurant.

Nevertheless, seafood was more of a rarity than a staple in my diet. Enter GT, my husband. He loves to cook, and he especially loves to cook fish. I’d say we eat something from the sea at least once a week. And more often than not, it’s salmon.

Thanks to my hubs, I’m a total salmon convert. Before him, I would never get excited about seeing salmon on a menu, but now I do. (We even served it at our wedding!) It’s such a versatile fish, there are so many delicious ways to prepare it. Grilled. Baked. Pistachio-crusted. But our absolute favorite way is this Asian-style preparation that I pinned to my Foodie Fixations board two years ago, and we’ve made countless times since (thanks Pinterest!).

I found the recipe for Teriyaki Salmon with Sriracha Cream Sauce on Damn Delicious, and it truly lives up to the food blog’s name. Not only that, it is a beautiful and impressive dish that is deceptively simple to make—perfect for an at-home date night or a dinner party with friends. (Since the fish bakes in the oven, it's super easy to make multiple fillets if you have company over.)

(Last night we paired the salmon with stir-fried sugar snap peas and sliced red and orange bell peppers.)

One of the reasons the recipe is so good is the homemade teriyaki sauce. But the pièce de résistance is, without a doubt, the Sriracha cream sauce. It is so good, you just want to swim in it. GT and I are both guilty of adding an extra generous drizzle or two (or three). Heavenly.

Inevitably, despite the copious amount of sauce we use at dinner, we always have lots of leftovers. Fortunately, the three-ingredient mixture—made with mayonnaise, sweetened condensed milk and Sriracha—keeps well in the fridge and is excellent as a spread for sandwiches and wraps.

That’s just what I did for lunch. Playing on the spiciness of the sauce, I made a chipotle chicken breast wrap with grape tomatoes, spinach and arugula, all rolled up (just barely!) in a spinach wrap. Yum!

(Yep. That's two drizzles of Sriracha cream sauce you see. I'm telling you. It's that good!) 

Make sure to check out Damn Delicious for the full step-by-step salmon recipe (with photos!).

Are you a seafood lover? What is your favorite fish dish? I love discovering new recipes. And if you try out this teriyaki salmon, let me know what you think!

(All photos by me except top image, via Damn Delicious.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Etsy Lusts : Home Goods : Blues, Greens & Blush

Although my husband and I lived together for almost a year before we got married, I feel like our cozy one-bedroom St. Pete apartment is our real "first place" together. In San Diego, I simply moved into his already furnished and decorated condo. There wasn't much room to put my own personal touch on the space. So coming into an empty apartment, however small, was like having a blank canvas to create. We have pretty wedding dishes, glasses and platters (that I picked out) in our cabinets. I've been able to add new, colorful decor elements (rugs, pillows, artwork) that feel more "me." Even rearranging framed pictures and art that we already had up in the condo (and nixing ones that I just wasn't a fan of) has made me feel more connected to the overall look and design. Slowly, our apartment has begun to feel like home.

Funny enough, when looking through my recent Etsy favorites, a home decor theme—with a surprisingly complimentary color palette—emerged. Upon making this discovery, I thought it would be fun to share a round-up of those items here, for your viewing pleasure.

Clockwise, from top left:

1. Abstract Pastel Pillow Cover to add some punch to a plain couch.
2. Geometric Mint Ceramic Tile Coasters to save coffee tables from icy-cold drinks.
3. First Snow Notebook in Blush Floral for jotting down to-do's and grocery lists, and generally prettying up a desk.
4. Painted Wooden Vases to display "just because" flowers, or for use as a darling utensil holder in the kitchen.
5. Watercolor Feathers Art Print to brighten up standard off-white apartment walls.
6. Dipped Wooden Bowls (in his and hers colors) for the sweetest summer salads.
7. (Top image) Teal Blue Ombre Home Sweet Home Typography Print to welcome you and your guests to your abode with style.

It's taking every ounce of self-control not to snap up these goodies! I love finding cheery items for our married-couple home, but we are a little short on space (and funds), so I have to be practical. However, we are in desperate need of coasters, so I may just give in to those pretties.

Have you been lusting after any home goods lately? And for the cohabitating couples out there, did you find it difficult to blend you and your partner's styles when you started living together? Fortunately, I got lucky and my hubby and I share similar tastes when it comes to aesthetics. We do, however, disagree when it comes to actually buying stuff. He doesn't want to purchase all the pretty things :)

Monday, July 28, 2014

No-Guilt Brownie Muffins

I was watching the Food Network the other day (one of my favorite pastimes), and an episode of Hungry Girl came on, with a focus on healthy swaps for common (fattening) snacks. One recipe seemed too easy to pass up: Lisa’s Yum Yum Brownie Muffins.

So I decided to give the two-ingredient recipe a whirl this past weekend. All you need is a box of devil’s food cake mix (chocolate cake mix will work, too) and a can of 100 percent pure pumpkin (be sure not to grab pumpkin pie filling!).

I followed the Hungry Girl recipe for the most part. I couldn’t find devil’s food cake mix (I was at Target, so my options were limited). At first I grabbed a box of Duncan Hines Classic Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix, but a look at the ingredients list changed my mind. The whole point of the recipe is to be healthy, and the list was long, hard to pronounce and a bit stomach-turning. (Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil? Polyglycerol Esters Of Fatty Acids? No thank you.)

I quickly traded up to a box of Immaculate Chocolate Cake Mix. The all-natural mix is a couple bucks more but totally worth it. The ingredients are few and simple—exactly what you would use if making a cake from scratch.

To assemble, you just stir together the cake mix and pumpkin puree, which takes the place of added oil or eggs (and even butter or shortening with my cake mix). Because the batter is so thick and can be difficult to stir, I deviated from the recipe directions slightly by slowly incorporating the cake mix into the pumpkin in four batches. That made it much easier to stir, and much easier on my arm!

Once the batter was completely smooth, I deviated again and added a couple handfuls of chopped walnuts (I like a little crunch in my brownies, and my muffins, and nuts offer some healthy fat). I then scooped the sticky batter into a muffin pan lined with colorful baking cups (an ice cream scoop would be great for this job, but two spoons worked just fine!) and baked it in a 400-degree oven for 20 minutes.

The finished brownie muffin was crisp on top—just how you want a muffin to be—and fudgy inside—like a perfect brownie. The husband loved them and I felt good knowing I could eat one (or two) guilt-free.

These would probably be divine served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream... But I settled for a cup of hazelnut coffee with a touch of cream instead.

Have you tried any healthy-yet-delicious dessert recipes lately? Do share!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chasing the Sun

Moving across the country, far from everyone and everything I know and to a place where I know nothing and nobody, has done a number on my psyche. Feeling depressed and unmotivated is all too easy lately. When I feel those emotions creeping in, it can be hard to shake them, no matter how hard I try, but I've (re)discovered that turning to music and words can have an incredibly comforting and encouraging effect on my heart and soul.

I came across this quote recently, and upon first reading it struck me as absolutely true and important. Too often we are not fully present in the moment, distracted by technology, endless to-do lists, insecurities, fear of change, wishing for things we don't have... You name it, almost anything can pull our focus from where we are, who we're with and -- most likely -- what really matters. The problem is that failing to fully embrace each moment doesn't just mean missing out on wonderful experiences. Failing to make the most of every day can also leave us ungrateful and unhappy -- and wondering who to blame. I'm guilty on all counts.

"Wherever you are, be all there."

I'm in St. Petersburg. I don't really want to be here. This wasn't my first choice. But, I'm with my husband who loves me. We're building a new life and a new home together. And we're just miles from some of the best beaches in the world! So who am I to complain? To feel down and out? As difficult as it can be sometimes, I want to make the most of this phase in our life, to embrace and explore the unknown, and create amazing memories along the way. I am here, and I need to be all in.

I've found this song also nudging me out of my complacency, demanding that I bust out of this rut I've managed to wedge myself into.

You said, remember that life is
Not meant to be wasted
We can always be chasing the sun!
So fill up your lungs and just run
But always be chasing the sun!

All we can do is try
And live like we're still alive

Here's to life, living and feeling every moment, and chasing the sun!

(Image via Thorn + Sparrow)

Monday, July 21, 2014

A New Adventure

There have been a lot of changes in my life lately.

Well, let’s be more specific: Lots of changes in the past year.

In June 2013, I quit my job at my hometown newspaper, where I had worked as the lead reporter for more than five years. I quit so that I could move 150 miles south to San Diego to be with my boyfriend of almost two years. But, before I really officially “moved,” we went on a much-needed vacay to Maui… Where he proposed! On the beach! While dancing to Hawaiian music! Yes, it was romantic.

Any girl who has dreamed of her wedding day since her playground days can fill in the blanks about what happened (read: consumed my life) over the following months… I’ll spare you the dramatic details. (But, oh, was there drama. Lots of drama.)

In May, I married my wonderful and hunky husband, GT, who I have known since high school (I’ll save that funny story for later). Soon after our honeymoon, we packed up our life in San Diego and, with pooch Cali in tow, moved across the country. See, GT is in the Coast Guard and after two tours in sunny SD, Uncle Sam said it was time to transfer.

That’s why, just before the wedding, I quit my part-time marketing gig at an arts center, which I had only just settled into after eight months. And now I’m in St. Petersburg, Florida, 3,000 miles away from home, from family and friends, and on the job hunt once again.

Marriage. Moving. Unemployment. It’s a lot for a gal to handle.

When we left, our loved ones wished us well on our new adventure, sending us off with excitement and enthusiasm for our journey. And while we wanted to catch that unbridled optimism ourselves, I’d be lying if I said things haven’t been stressful. Our move has not gone smoothly. (Even my ever-positive hubby admitted it’s the worst he’s experienced during his eight years in the military.)

But, I made a promise in my vows to GT that I was going to embrace the adventure, no matter where it takes us. And I intend to keep that vow.

So that’s what this blog is about. Sharing the journey, bits and pieces of my life and loves, and embracing the adventure—no matter where it may lead.

P.S. I used to blog over here, but failed to keep it up once I got together with my now-hubby. (Increasing work load + a new, sort-of long-distance relationship that put thousands of miles on my car kept me busy.) But now, new life, new last name... new blog! Huzzah!

(Photo by me, of a gorgeous Florida sunset.)
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