Da Beach!

This past week, I had the most amazing time with my in-laws in Port Aransas. We stayed on Mustang Island in a gorgeous home that was within walking distance of the beach. The best part – you can drive your car/truck/golf cart onto the beach and unload all your gear without having to carry it all! Whoop! 
Being pregnant on the beach wasn’t my most favorite thought at first, but it actually turned out to be perfect. The waves weren’t too rough, so I got to go out with everyone else and enjoy the surf. And by surf, I mean the water while I’m floating on my noodle so my feet don’t touch the bottom. 

I loved my maternity suits! My favorite was this one from Target:
Because it was a one piece, the bathroom was a little bit interesting. I haven’t had to peel off a one piece since I was about… 7. Other than that, it was extremely flattering and comfortable. 

This was also the first beach trip where I left without a sunburn. Whaaaat!? It was like I’ve finally become a real adult and reapplied sunscreen when I should. That could be because I didn’t have a cold beer to worry about, but I digress. 
I used this sunscreen that I found at the spa I go to. It’s organic, so I felt okay applying tons of it even though I’m pregnant (I’ve heard all kinds of things about sunscreen and bug spray… and everything else). It was fantastic though! I didn’t feel like I washed off when I went in the water, it coated evenly, and it really kept my skin protected the entire week. This one bottle lasted me the whole week. 
You can buy it here if you wanna give it a go.

My face has a lot of issues. I have something called Melasma, which is basically when random parts of your face/body tan quicker than the rest of your body. It’s really awesome. I can have a white forehead and cheeks the color of a Brazilian woman. Not. Cute. So, to protect myself, I need a really powerful sunscreen. I used this one. It lasts forever, and the best part is that it’s tinted!

I got to make one of my favorite recipes of all time: Heirloom Tomato Pie! I look forward to it every summer. Because the heirlooms are a bit pricey, I limit myself to only making it one or two times. (For one pie, it’s about $12 worth of tomatoes alone). This pie is worth every delicious penny, though. Just look how pretty these tomatoes are! Here’s the original recipe I used (I’ll post my recipe later).

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The Office Burger

This. Burger. Right. Here. 
I can’t tell you how delicious this was! Ok, I can. It was AMAZING! It is hands down the best burger I’ve ever made at home.
I saw the recipe in Food Network Magazine, and my inner preggo said that I had to have it. (Their picture is way better than mine, too. I was too hungry for the fancy shots.)
The onion-bacon compote plus the cheese takes the burger to a whole notha level. 
We had our burgers with something I call Corrales Casserole. It was an easy way to use leftover rice – just mixed with two cans of green chiles, some sour cream, diced white onion, and cheddar cheese. Popped it in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes and voila!

 The Office Burger
Adapted from Food Network Magazine
Onion-Bacon Compote
4 slices bacon
2 tbs. unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs. balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt 
Freshly ground black pepper
Cooking Spray (Pam)
1 lb. ground beef – your choice on the fat content
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Rolls/buns of your choice
Gruyere cheese, shredded
Gorgonzola, crumbled
1 cup baby arugula
Crisp the bacon in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat, flipping occasionally for even cooking, until crispy (about 5 minutes). Transfer to a paper towel to drain, crumble, and set aside. Reserve 1 tbs. bacon drippings and discard the rest. 
Reduce the heat to low (very important to caramelize the onions) and add the butter. Add the onions and cook, covered, until golden (about 15 minutes). Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking. Uncover and add the garlic, stirring to combine. Cook until onions are caramelized, about 5 more minutes. Add the vinegar and stir, until the onions are glazed, about 2 more minutes. Remove from heat, add bacon, and season with S&P. Set aside. 
Preheat a grill to medium high and spray the grill with cooking spray. Form the beef into four patties, season each side with S&P, and grill about 5 minutes a side. Only flip the burgers once and never, never press the patties down to the grill. Melt the cheese onto the patties while they’re in their last 3 minutes of cooking. Meanwhile, toast your buns. 
Serve the cheesy burgers on your toasty buns and top with the onion-bacon compote and baby arugula. 

Summer 2015 Reads

I haven’t been able to read as many leisurely books as I’d like to this summer since I’ve been supplementing with some pregnancy reads. Those are interesting, to be sure, but these books are a few of the ones I’ve really enjoyed! 

The Girl on the Train: A Novel
by Paula Hawkins

This book is about a girl on a train. Ok, so besides that, it’s about a girl who has a bit of a troubled past and has definitely hit rock bottom a time or two. I related to her character a lot because I can be a self-destructive hot mess, too. She finds herself watching a couple from her seat on the train every day (they live just off the tracks). They seem like the absolutely perfect couple. However, something very suspicious goes on when the woman from the couple goes missing. There are definitely some huge twists that you won’t see coming. 

30 Pieces of Silver: An Extremely Controversial Historical Thriller (The Betrayed Series Book 1)
by Carolyn McCray

Before I even get into the meat of the story, let me first say that this is a piece of controversial historical fiction. It’s about Christ’s crucifixion and the 30 pieces of silver Judas received to betray Him. Other than that – this is NOT religious novel. Don’t read this and expect to learn all the truths about Christ’s days before dying on the cross. Don’t get offended by all the craziness in the story. Don’t worry if things don’t completely add up with what you know from Sunday School.
Ok, rant over. 
This book is a great, as it says in the title, thriller. It’s a very fast, easy read that can get you through even the most sweltering of summer days. The book takes place both in present times and in the times before Christ’s death. We see the relationship between Judas and Christ in a different light than I’ve heard of before. You begin to sympathize with Judas as you read up to the disaster you know that’s coming in the Garden of Gethsemane. In the present day, we follow Rebecca, an archeologist who specializes in biology. She must be rescued (very often) by a very good looking special-ops beau, Brandt. Rebecca, Brandt, and crew are all searching for clues that would link Christ’s DNA to that of all the other descendants of powerful civilizations. For example, the Huns in China, the Romans, Mayans, etc. She has a hunch that these groups of people have special biological markers that link them to their success. These same markers could be in Christ’s DNA if only they could find his remains…

West of the Moon
by Margi Preus

This book is geared more towards the young adult audience, but as an “adult” I enjoyed it all the same. It was a very, very fast read (less than three days). The story weaves myth and truth as it describes the challenges before the heroine, Astri. It takes place in about the 1800’s in Norway and details the experiences Astri goes through trying to find her way to America. She finds strength in herself and eventually even manages to save her sister from their evil step family. The two struggle to find their way to the ship as they battle trolls, evil masters, and strange goatmen. 

The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak

I’m way behind in just now finishing this book. It was one of those that took me about 8 months to get through, but I was working full-time and in grad school full time. Reading wasn’t an easy thing for me! 
This book is a beautiful, gut-wrenching story of Liesel Meminger, a German girl in the midst of Nazi Germany in 1939. It details the side of Germany we don’t hear much about – the non-Jewish side. It discusses the things the German people went through and the things they did to survive. It is a beautiful story told from the point of view of Death. It’s one of the most well-written stories I’ve ever read, and the unique narrator really makes a poignant impact. Liesel is a true heroine who stays true to herself, family, and friends despite horrible tragedies. The title stems from the fact that Liesel steals books in some of the most important times in her young life. The movie is actually one of the best novel-to-screen adaptations I’ve seen. I would definitely recommend reading the book first though, as there are so may details you’d miss from the movie!

All photos credited to Amazon

Grilled Thai Shrimp with Creamy Sauce

A recipe in Food Network Magazine caught my eye the other day. A Hollywood chef had catered a party for one of my faves, Sofia Vergara and her fiancé Joe Manganiello. The super sexy couple wanted food that was delicious and yet light. 
This shrimp is definitely delicious, and I can’t believe that it is actually light. 
You can find most of the ingredients at your grocery store in the Asian section. I did have to order my Thai seasoning online though. Plus I bought organic, so that did raise the price. They have a few more kinds of Thai seasoning that cost only about $5 on Amazon though. It’s definitely worth it to have these ingredients on hand! I use most of them at least once a week in some kind of an Asian dish.

Grilled Thai Shrimp with Creamy Sauce
2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails on or off)
1/2 cup grapeseed oil, plus 3 tbs. 
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 cup coconut milk
2 tbs. fish sauce
1 tsp. paprika
1/4 cup heavy cream
Green onions or chopped parsley to garnish
Preheat grill to medium high. Toss shrimp with 1/2 cup oil and Thai seasoning. Grill shrimp either on skewers or a mesh grill pan until pink and cooked through (about 2 minutes per side). 
Meanwhile, heat 3 tbs. grapeseed oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, and curry paste. Cook until onion has softened, about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
Add coconut milk, fish sauce, and paprika. Cook an additional 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add heavy cream, stirring constantly, until thickened (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat. 
Spread sauce on the bottom of a large serving platter. Sprinkle shrimp across the sauce and garnish with green onion or parsley. 

Coffee During Pregnancy

I love a good cup of joe in the morning, especially in the summer when I can actually savor and enjoy it. I know many physicians say it’s okay to have a cup of coffee a day, but I for some reason worry about caffeine and the baby. I’m just not sure how well it all mixes together. 
I decided that instead of my regular coffee, I’d just have a cup of decaf every day. I know there are trace amounts of caffeine in decaf, but at least it’s not the full-fledged shabang. 
Little did I know that the way most coffee companies process their decaf is actually a little unhealthy. Here’s a little explanation of the different processes used to decaffeinate coffee. 
The problem I have with every other option besides the Swiss Water Process is that they involve chemicals. One of the chemicals is Methylene Chloride which has been linked to cancer. The FDA says that there are so few trace amounts that it can’t hurt you. I don’t really care what the FDA says… 
If there’s a way for me to avoid a chemical process and opt for a more natural one, I’m going au natural. That’s just my inner hippie coming out. 
The coffee I opted to drink is water processed, which is the safest and most organic option of the decaf processes from what I’ve read. I got it delivered from Amazon for about $25 for a pack of 3. I store them in the freezer hoping the taste stays more fresh. 

The Perfect Boiled Eggs

Yolks not cooked? Funky greenish brown stuff around the yolk? Straight up runny egg white? I have your solution. 
Martha Stewart educated me in the art of the perfectly boiled egg, and I appreciate her so. 

Perfectly Boiled Eggs
I boil 4 eggs at a time, but according to Martha, you can boil up to 12 if you wish. 
Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with one inch of cool water. Heat the water up to boiling. 
Once the water is boiling, immediately remove from the heat and cover. Let sit for 17 minutes. 
Using a slotted spoon, gently place the eggs in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Once they’re cooled, peel the eggs. 
Unpeeled eggs can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days. 

Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich

Now that I’m pregnant, I can’t have anything. Ok, that’s dramatic. I can’t have a lot of things that I normally would reach for every day (cold turkey sandwiches, hot cup of coffee in the morning, glass of wine…). The struggle is real on that last one.
Anywho, when I saw a recipe for Avocado Egg Salad, I was like, “PTL something that I CAN eat. Not only eat, but scarf down.” It’s got so many good things for the baby and mama alike, plus it’s delish.

Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich
2 hard boiled eggs
1 ripe avocado
1 tsp. sweet relish
1 tbs. mayonnaise
1/4 tsp. Dijon
Splash of fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Hoagie bun
Baby arugula
After your eggs are perfectly boiled, cooled, and peeled, mash them together with the avocado. You don’t want a paste, just a good mixing together. Add relish, mayo, Dijon, and lemon juice; stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve on Hoagie bun (or your fave bread) with arugula on the bottom of the bun. 
Makes one beauty of a sandwich. 

Salt – Sal – Salz – Sale

I thought it was fitting to begin this blog with a quick blurb about one of my favorite things in the world: salt.

I’m much more of a savory/salty kind of person versus a sweet one. (That goes for both food and personality.)
Here are my ponderings on salt:
Table salt: Use sea salt like this one because it is much finer than your traditional “table” salt. Sea salt has also gone through less processing than traditional because it’s literally the salt left behind after water has been evaporated.

Cooking salt: Kosher salt is the way to go because of its coarser grain. Because Kosher salt has craggly-looking grains, it’s easier to control how much you sprinkle on your goodies. Think about how many times you’ve grabbed the salt shaker and a) nothing came out or b) you built a Mt. Everest model on your mashed potatoes. 
Baking salt: Traditional “table” salt (Morton’s) is just fine for this. Don’t use Kosher salt for this purpose – the grain size of the Kosher salt actually makes the measurements different. For example, one cup of traditional salt holds more salt grains than a cup of Kosher salt. It’s all in the size of your grain. 
Fancy salt: For the fun finishes requiring something special (think Parker House rolls or salted caramel brownies), I use a flaky sea salt. Here’s a fun fancy one you could even add to your registry. I wish I had known we could’ve registered for food items. I’d have registered for a few bottles of Pinot.

    What I’m watching: Since we’re talking about salt… and salt comes from the ocean… I thought it would be good to tie in some thoughts on our oceans.

    What I’m listening to: “This is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan – I’m feeling like a 90’s baby.

    You Know You Like It” by DJ Snake & AlunaGeorge – Such a good cruising song.