Saturday, October 22, 2011

"So...Whose Dish is on the Chopping Block?!"...I love that question!

Golly-gee, I really LOVE the culinary show Chopped on the Food Network!  And it so happens that as I enter this edition of my many food interests, a Chopped marathon of sorts is on the tube. I love the show's concept, the competitiveness of 4 relatively unknown but hungry chefs, the creative cooking hands & minds each chef possesses some more adept than others, the crazy ingredients they are faced with transforming into masterpieces on a plate, the no-nonsense bad-ass famous chefs who expertly judge the competitors, and just everything about the appetizer, entree, and dessert rounds culminating in someone getting chopped.  Yikes! It's so exciting! It's a hot show, and I-LOVES-IT.

And how fun that at times there are themed episodes such as the Halloween Chopped edition of the show:

Think chicken feet, poblano peppers, black radishes, and fruit flavored candy as something that ends up as a delish though perhaps scary appetizer! How exciting to watch the frantic chefs come up with something innovative and tasty in such a short amount of time that needs to be presented to the likes of galant Geoffrey with his purposely styled look, Alex who lacks anything resembling a smile but a sharp genius palate, and hipster Chris who I find quite sweet & neatly tatted on both sleeves.  Interestingly, the high-browed masters known as Scott & his sharp almost popped collar on his tailored shirt with a hate for onions nor Aaron with his tutorials on Mexican/Latin cuisine, proper Spanish pronunciation, and his suave hair bangage that drops ever so slightly over his high brow isn't judging this one, but gawd are they characters---all of them--and boy do they know their food, and golly do the competing chefs revere them, as do I from the confines of my couch.

In any case, this episode is not one bit scary, but instead rather tasty to watch and entertaining as usual.  If you haven't caught the show yet, be sure to tune in to delight in the culinary delights that come from great veteran chefs, novice sous chefs, up & coming restauranteurs, and people who simply appreciate food and the creativity that comes from its respect and admiration.  Enjoy! So...Whose dish is on the chopping block?! Can't wait to find out...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Year Later, and Life & Food Is Still Filled with Sweetness!

Hello, Loves...Remember me?  I know it's been QUITE a while since I last posted an entry, and for that I do apologize. I think life as a novice blogger took me by surprise, as I felt the pressure to constantly produce something fun, exciting, and nom-nom-nom-able, in addition to the fact that I was trying to balance the other hats I wear daily which also needed my attention. (Thanks for the pep talk, Cousin Lels!). So I think I kinda freaked out, and took a bit of a hiatus to regroup, regain my inspiration, manage my time more efficiently, get pregnant (I'm just about 2-1/2 weeks 'til go-time as I type ;) but still have continued to log in hours at fun foodie & delectable places and try my hand at recipes here and there. As such, I am again motivated and ready to bring you a taste of my food adventures. And quite fittingly, it comes on the 1 year anniversary of the unveailing of this blog, so what better timing than to restart now!  I hope you continue to follow me as I journey through my adventures as Nom Nom Nom Mom!

Ok, so it happened to be Sweetest Day (or as I like to call it, Shmeetest Day) yesterday, and this past week also marked the 15th year where the Dude & I started going out as young NU students (awwww or gag, whichever you choose) and it was a free weekend to do something fun---just the 2 of us before we add to our craziness with Baby Girl #3's arrival in early November.  And instead of observing some confectioners'-type holiday as Sweetest Day initially was meant to observe, we made romantic (haha!) dining reservations at Paul Virant's acclaimed Vie Restaurant. I was quite excited to head out to this suburban foodie spot because of the fantastic reviews I've found here and there. And it was truly a sweet, though not cavitiy-inducing, dinner experience. You know you're in for a real treat when your awesomely attentive server (Stephanie) knows why you're dining there (i.e., Shmeetest Day but more importantly to celebrate the silly anniversary of dating), is aware that you can't enjoy a 7&7 or glass of vino due to the preggo status but offers up the option of a house concocted mocktail (think fresh cranberried gingerale with a lemon twist), and the 1st offering for the night is bread that you normally despise (in my case sourdough), but you end up having multiple servings every time the "bread guy" comes around because it's so fresh, chewy, and with a touch of butter ever so sweet and not sour!

So onto perusing the menu for more lovely choices for the evening...

Alex, the Dude, seemed drawn to 1st course, salad, entree, & dessert options that included the addition of some sort of apple variety...tis the season afterall, so his evening of food delights sounded something like this: 1st-seared diver sea scallops, roasted delicata squashes, klug farm apples, wood-grilled leeks, parsley; this followed by a salad of city farm bibb lettuce, shaved honey crisp apples, dried italian plums, spiced hazelnuts, burnt sugar and hard cider vinaigrette; an entree highlighted by pan-roasted alaskan halibut, braised spaghetti squash, roasted klug farm applesshaved white turnips, werp farm frisee, amaretti; and dessert graced by the combo of sweet & spiced apples and roasted rhubarb in tart form, finished with a lovely vanilla creme fraiche. How you like them apples?! Take a peek:
Melt in your mouth diver sea scallops...Super sexy, really!
Holy Halibut, Batman!
And my evening plates were just as grand & but eclectic and meaty! First, came love, then came mar-...Oh, I mean, 1st came summer beet agnolotti: roasted beet and preserved lemon filled pasta, red beet and sesame puree,crispy confit pork (Filipinos & the like: think crispy lechon shavings), brown butter, lemon and oregano; then came the Vie Salad comprised of local greens, fresh and marinated hawaiian hearts of palm, garlic and herb vinaigrette, parmigiano-reggiano (Darren, it was a mound of it, and a delish one at that!), then came the wood-grilled dry-aged dietzler farm beef loin with braised beef (prime beef, 2 ways!!---yes I was indulgent, yes I am using the whole "I'm eating for two" rationale here) and potato gratin, stout braised onions, wilted local greens, wood-grilled brussel sprouts, crème fraiche beef jus; and finally Vie's famously sweet red kuri squash gooey butter cake pear squash chutney, pear ginger sorbet, whipped cream.  Gorgeous!

Beautiful Beet Agnolotti & Crispy Pork Confit!
The Vie Salad.  Can I have some parm-reg with that?!
Beef-2 ways with wilted greens & roasted & dressed brussel sprouts
Our sweet night ended with our respective desserts and a surprise chocolate number that helped top off our celebrating the start of the Sweet Life of Nom Nom Nom Mom & the Dude those 15 years ago up north on NU's campus...
Sweet finish courtesy of Vie!
Life certainly has been sweet...Not always guaranteed sweet, but with lots of hard work, compromise, and sugar added, we've made it work and what it is today :)  Thanks to the Dude for entertaining the Girlies to give this Mom a bit of time to reconnect with the blogosphere and remember how fun, delightful, and sweet food truly can be to me and to you!  Cheers & enjoy!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Grilling season & Filipino BBQ is coming soon...I hope!

No, I've not quit this little hobby of blogging.  But I certainly have not posted in quite some time, for which I greatly apologize...As per usual, finding the time in my nonstop schedule that includes family, work, play, and poor sleep, makes it rather challenging to keep up with creative entertaining sumptuous entries to share with you here. Furthermore, BIGGER things are on the horizon for me & my little family that have kept me busy as of late...but I digress...

Anyway, yesterday, actually this entire weekend was rather lovely. With company ranging from a visit from dear loving Grandma Maryann with her yummy oatmeal chippy cookies in tow & fun friends with their cutie-patootie toddling boy who is walking up a storm over for a Pizza Friday Night, to a Saturday deli lunch and playdate with the cool family of friends from school, to a lazy Sunday morning girly-girl playdate with dance friends, and finally the rest of Sunday afternoon playing with our great neighbors, watching the kids dig for fossils in the next lot over's backyard, and seeing Elena & Katrina enjoy the warm weather, Spring was definitely in the air...but perhaps short-lived...It's Monday & cloudy & 46*F & the Girlies are home sick with colds...(sigh).  Aside from the teaser of this weekend, I was really inspired to Spring clean my mind & my palate (my house will have to wait ~ ha!). With the thought of warmer weather just around the corner also comes the thought of finding fresh local produce soon enough at nearby farmer's markets or just using my keen and picky eye at other grocery establishments to pick the most impeccable unblemished fruit & veggies I can find.  And in addition to eating healthy foods from the fruit & veggie categories comes the opportunity to make delicious protein courses with the aid of the lovely grill.  I absolutely love grilled food: meats, poultry, fish, veggies, & fruit (pineapple & nectarines on the grill...WOW!). So, when I was at the store most recently, I was inspired & determined to grill something delicious this weekend. I craved the Filipino BBQ marinaded meats & "salsas" that harkened me back to my childhood of being fed quite well (hence my super duper girlish figure ;) with such sweet & savory tastes. So as I shuffled my way around the grocery store's perimeter (btw, healthier choices tend to be located in the perimeter [fresh produce, protein, dairy] vs. the "junk" food-/comfort food-laden aisles [chips, sugary cereals, boxed foods]...interesting, eh?!), I found myself filling my cart with heads of broccoli, ruby red radishes, and lean though mammoth pork chops specifically to whip up a Filipino flavored "grilled" meal.  I had every intention of having Alex help me pull the grill out to grill the chops, but alas I waited a day too late, and the weather was way too chilly for either of us to be standing outside while waiting for the deliciousness to cook up...But I would not give up...I wanted my chops to be Filipino BBQ'd, and so shall it be. So, I whipped up my version of Filipino BBQ marinade to dress the pork chops in before the grilling part were to come to fruition.  Here's my take on the marinade not with exact true measurements, as it's all about how it tastes in the end, but anyway, approximate measurements for the audience: (if you Google "Filipino BBQ Sauce or Marinade, essentially the same ingredients pop up...)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 apple cider or white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup red wine (not typical, but I think this is how my Aunt/Te rolled)
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1/2 can of citrus soda (usually the traditional recipes call for 7-up, but since I had nary a can of such, I used a 1/2 can of served it's purpose)
  • 5 Tbs. brown sugar
  • salt 
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • medium sized shallot (in place of diced onion, which is traditional)
  • 3 Tbs. ketchup or Catalina dressing (my preference, since I'm sometimes weirded out by ketchup)

This isn't my aunt's (Te) exact version or "timpla" as she would say (I think hers includes pineapple juice & ginger minus the ketchup), but essentially it still produced the sweet/sour/tangy marinade that helps to create delectable Filipino BBQ/grilled meats. But I will eventually get her exact measurements, ingredients--basic & secret--in order to get the same awesome taste that I remember & love.

Okay, so onto the grilling part...Like I had mentioned, since it was way to chilly to grill outside today, and I already had colds scampering through my house, I used the next best option for indoor grilling, my stovetop grill pan.  After the chops had marinated in the scrumptious sauciness of the Filipino BBQ for some hours, I transferred the ready chops to a sizzling hot grill pan.  After about 4-5 minutes on each side, beautiful grill marks appeared and I was happy.  I knew that I couldn't/shouldn't cook the big chops just in the grill pan for the amount of time that would be needed to cook them thoroughly, so after searing the chops on each & every side with gorgeous grill marks I transferred them onto a tray that lay atop a sheet pan to be headed into a 350* oven for about 60 minutes.  And ayan (loosely translated as "there you go" in Tagalog), I had myself the Filipino BBQ Pork Chops that I was determined to make to help me get psyched and ready for grilling season even if it was 46*F outside following what was a warm weathered weekend.

To accompany my Filipino BBQ chops, I made another fave of mine that often accompanied the chops or Filipino BBQ that my Aunt/Te would make:  (Radish) Sisig.  Now, for those of you who don't know what sisig is, let me just say that traditional Filipino Sisig is, well, less than delicious sounding. But I suppose to some palates and foodies, perhaps, traditional sisig is something you might see getting raves on Chopped, Top Chef, No Reservations, or Iron Chef for its sassiness, its exoticness, its ingenious use of ALL parts pig...To each their own, I say...I mean I'm Filipino, but in this case my tame American palate dominates, and I don't think I will ever have sisig in its truest form...It's too exotic for me. When I ask you to check out the link on Sisig, I ask that for my version you only take into account the 1st part of the definition provided by the wikipedia site, and that's all I mean to suggest with the tame vegetarian version of sisig that I'll eat: "to snack on something sour"...My preferred version of sisig does not entail me eating parts of a pig that I feel should not be eaten--bleh! Anyway, so my radish sisig goes something like this:
  • Slice up a bunch of radishes into paper thin rounds
  • Cover the sliced radishes in salt & let sit for about 5-10 minutes to let out the moisture and bitter/peppery taste of the veggie
  • Squeeze out the excess liquid from the radishes as much as you can
  • Throw in 2 stalks of thinly diced green onions
  • Throw in 1 large tomato all diced up too
  • Cover the mini "salsa" in about 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • Follow that with 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • Add a pinch of salt just in case
  • Drizzle 1 tsp. of sesame oil over the mix
  • Mix & toss and let meld in the fridge for some time
  • Oh, just as a "warning" let me just say after the flavors of this "salsa" meld, it smells less than scrumptious, but it is actually quite refreshing and delicious.

When it's time to eat, pair the Filipino BBQ Chops with some of the refreshingly piquant Radish Sisig over a spoonful of steaming jasmine rice, and repeat repeat repeat until satisfied.

I can't wait til it's truly Spring & Summer so that the real grilling can begin and the aroma of Filipino BBQ skewers of pork, steak, and chicken, can waft through the warm air outside.  I can't wait to pair it with my Radish Sisig or steamed broccoli or roasted corn or some other fresh produce.  In the meantime, I'm glad this past weekend inspired me to think Spring and think of the goodness of grilling.  Spring can't come soon enough! Til then, happy nom nom nom to all!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Birthday Dinner ~ Alex-style

Hi!  I know it's been awhile, but I truly have not had a minute to sit down and type away for the amount of time it takes me to create my witty, informative, flowery & delicious posts (as they've been graciously described for me...thank you!) for your enjoyment.  But alas, looky here. I have more than a minute, so here I go typing away.

For this post, I shall recount the Birthday of my dear Hubby, my Dude, my Alex!  He, like myself, was born in the beautiful month of February on the 28th in a year some 30+ years ago.  In celebration of this, we did it Alex-style, hitting a suburban foodlover's haven in the likes of Parkers' Restaurant & Bar in Downers Grove, a place where the fisherman & the farmer work hand in hand to come up with some lovely delectable dishes. While I miss and lurve the City, the restaurants, the energy, Alex is just as content if not more so not hitting the City, since he commutes daily into the metropolis early in the morning, every morning.  So, since it was his weekend to celebrate a few weekends back, I of course said "Downers Grove for deliciousness it is!"  After all, great scrumptious food any where you have it will be just that ~ scrumptious, and Parkers' certainly did not disappoint.  To make the evening more entertaining and friendly, we were wonderfully joined by friends, Michelle & Jose, fellow ballet parents and a great couple, and what fun company they were!  The conversation was hilarious, informative, eye-opening, and just fun.  And the meals we all had from the spirited cocktails, to the easily sipped & ripe bottles of Felino Malbec, to the fun (well, Jose might not use the word "fun") & briny raw oysters & savory golden crusted calamari, & refreshing beet salads, meaty yet brothy chowders, the filets of mignon, salmon, tuna, and duck were fabulously delicious!  And then the desserts...well, we had a few to sample, but the white chocolate & apricot croissant bread pudding...WOW!  It was absolutely perfect in terms of taste, texture, sweetness, just perfect!  We had a bit left over, but because he was the Birthday Dude, Alex was not up for sharing with me the next morning...FINE, just the reason to return to Parkers' soon then! I think Alex had a great start to his birthday weekend with a fantastic meal and really great company!  Like I had said, when the post was about my birthday, 34 ain't that bad at all, and Alex will definitely agree.  Here's a visual recap of our evening of delicious & great friendship:

Cheers to the Birthday Dude, Alex!!

Starting the evening of yumminess with some seafood fare & refreshing beet salads 

Deliciousness ensues in the form of lavender & honey glazed duck, spicy & seared Hawaiian bigeye tuna, grilled filet mignon, & horseradish encrusted Atlantic salmon!  Nom nom nom & nom!!!!

Happy Birthday to Alex with Jasmine Rice Pudding :)
Followed by Chocolate Tower of Richness...
And culminating in the Perfection that was the White Chocolate & Apricot Croissant Bread Pudding

We had a grand time with Michelle & Jose! Cheers, indeed!

So next time you find yourself in lovely Downers Grove, and you crave something from the sea or the farm, and you are in the company of good friends, head on over to Parkers'!  Deliciousness guaranteed!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sisterly Love of Food ~ Alpha Chi Omega-style

So this past weekend, I was feeling a bit nostalgic for my college days, and especially for the time I spent in the lovely Alpha Chi Omega, Gamma Chapter Sorority on NU's campus. I think the fond memories were sparked by a recent trip to the grocery store, where I happened upon the cereal aisle, and once there happened upon the box of Golden Grahams cereal.  I seriously thought that they didn't make Golden Grahams anymore, but thank goodness I was proven wrong.  So I put the box of golden loveliness in my cart, and I remembered that I had some ingredients at home including chocolate chips and mini-marshmallows.  With these sweet items in mind, I started to reminisce about my sorority girl days as an "Alpha Chi," the friendships, the sisterhood, the bonding experiences, Chapter dinners, living in the Quad with JoMama, Curly, & Jen, or the Bowling Alley which barely was lived in (right, Jo? tee hee), or rooming with Crazy in the room all the way down the hall on the 3rd floor, Winter Rush, the frat parties, the trips to the Keg, the Monday nights during senior year at Nevins, and quite fittingly the comforting "homemade" food made for us sisters by dear Iola, the House's cook de cuisine.

Iola made Monday Night Chapter meals at the House really special.  She had a way with taking "Mom's" classic recipe and making it as lovingly as "Mom" would and have enough to feed nearly 50+ girls all with varying tastes, and yet succeed in all feeling wonderfully satisfied with the puff pastry chicken or the tri-delt chicken or the chicken gerbils (or were they hamsters) or the Amy's chicken sausage & pesto pasta, and other culinary creations...Apparently, we Alpha Chi gals liked our chicken, though.  But one standout recipe that always has me thinking of the House that was such a special treat were the Golden Graham S'mores Bars that Iola made.  So simple in terms of ingredients but so profound in terms of the joy that each member's face showed with every delicious bite taken of these sweet treats.  Although I never got a chance nor thought at the time to take down my favorite Alpha Chi recipes including the S'mores Bars recipe, I did a quick search for one that might do the trick since I happened upon the box of Golden Grahams and other ingredients I had handy, and here's what I found courtesy of a recipe on Betty Crocker's website:

  • 1 box of Golden Grahams (approx. 8 cups)
  • 1 bag (10.5 oz) of mini-marshmallows (approx. 5-1/2 cups)
  • 1-1/2 cups of milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet to cut the super sweetness of the recipe~ha!
  • 5 TB of unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup of light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla
Basically do the following to yield a delicious, nostalgic treat:
  • Grease a 9x13 pan with non-stick cooking spray or butter
  • Place the (8) cups of Golden Graham cereal in a large bowl & set aside
  • Set aside 1 cup of mini-marshmallows to sprinkle into the mixture at the end of assembly
  • In a sauce pan, on LOW heat, melt together the butter, chocolate chips, mini-marshmallows (4-1/2 cups), light corn syrup, & vanilla
  • Pour the melted sweet sauce onto the cereal and mix thoroughly, though gently & add the remaining cup of mini-marshmallows
  • Spread the mixture into your greased baking pan and pat down with the back of a buttered wooden spoon and let it cool for about 1 hour before cutting out gorgeous bars of goodness.
  • ENJOY!
Here's a look at how my Little Miss E & I  put it all together...

Perhaps this recipe is not exactly the way Iola made it for the Alpha Chis, but goodness it sure tasted memorable!  I especially love that my Little Girlies & the Dude love these special treats as much as I do.  Although their fondness for them doesn't stem back to fun & crazy sorority life at Alpha Chi Omega ~ Gamma Chapter, my family's love of them is just as sweet.  And to my Alpha Chi Sisters from 637 University Place, thanks for the sweet memories we created together on NU's campus, while enjoying Iola's take on our yummy GG S'mores Bars! You know the letters that should follow here.... :) 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Older, Wiser, Fuller!

Well, yesterday I turned another year older, perhaps wiser, and most definitely fuller!  I've had one of the best birthdays this gal has had, and much of it, in addition to the sweet love I received via birthday greetings from the Husband, the Girlies, Family & Friends, centered around the celebration of food that occurred while celebrating my turning 34 (well, 29, if my birthday wish were to come to fruition~ha!).

I was treated to such deliciousness over my birthday weekend, that I feel so full as I enter this post into the books.  To celebrate in style, Alex made a reservation at the swanky, oh-so-chic Balsan in the Gold Coast area of Chicago.  Such a beautiful place, aesthetically and gastronomically.  We had just about everything from every section of their pleasant menu.  From the Old Fashioned spirited cocktail to start the night with a bang, to the briny oysters on the half shell to keep it sexy and chic, to the signature savory bacony tarte flambee to tempt our tastebuds, to the refreshing beet salad to cleanse my palate, to the rich and meltingly tender veal blanquette surrounded by lengthy egg noodles to celebrate a long life ahead for me, to the smooth glasses of lovely Argentinian Malbec to toast my aging, to the earthy French Pressed coffee to keep me energized to celebrate throughout the evening, and finally to the indulgently sweet Paris Brest dolled up with a birthday candle for moi, my Birthday Dinner was absolutely lovely, delectable, and memorable.  And if this wasn't enough, Alex's selections were just as lovely, and he shared with me too, including a taste of his rich chocolate souffle cake with milk stout ice cream...Happy Birthday to me!

Me & my Old Fashioned! So excited for my Birthday meal!
Savory Tart Flambee
Sexy Oysters!
Pretty & Refreshing  Beet Salad
Delicious Ben Marco Malbec~Cheers!
Rich Veal Blanquette with Egg Noodles! Here's to a rich long life ahead!
Coffee & Tea time!
Chocolate Souffle Cake for Alex...and Me :)
Paris Brest Birthday Pastry :)
Me & My Dude, enjoying a lovely Balsan Birthday Dinner  :)

Now, since the Balsan dinner technically did not occur on my actual birthday, but the eve of it, we decided that after spending an evening of Citylife and slumber sans the kids, we would get up on the morning of my actual 34th, and meet my cousin Mia (more affectionately known to us as "Ge Mitz" or Ate) at the equally awesome though more earthy and approachable Nightwood restaurant in the Pilsen are of the City for a delightful brunch. I've gotta say, I am a lucky gal to have been the recipient of 2 fabulous meals to celebrate my coming into the world.  1st a beautiful she-she-la-la dinner at Balsan, and now a fantastic and hip brunch at Nightwood that went a little like this: a cup of earthy Intelligentsia coffee to wake me up, next a sampling of Nightwood's famous bacon butterscotch glazed donut + caramel cream stuffed donut with pecan glaze~Oh.My.Goodness.Gracious!, then my main brunch plate of a bagel sandwich consisting of a shmear of smoked trout cream cheese, layered with crisp bacon, a sunny side up egg, refreshing cabbage slaw, and beautifully rustic tater tots that are like little delightful hash brown spheres of yum.  Take a look:

Bacon Butterscotch & Caramel Cream-filled Donut with Pecan Glaze :)
So good!
What remained of the caramel cream-filled donut after the trio of us devoured  it!
Bagel Sandwich of Goodness, with hip Tater Tots on the side
And if all this wasn't enough, we left the city to head back to our Girlies, who were entertaining my parents at their house.  And since Mom is still taking it easy to stay sickness-free, and the Chicagoland area was still recovering from remnants of the crazy Blizzard 2011, the parents decided to order dim sum take out from our dear old Chinese restaurant of choice~Hong Min in Palos Hills, but I was soooo stuffed from the night before and brunch that I could only muster a bite out of my favorite dim sum dumpling~shumai.  But the Girlies went to town on some delicious shrimp chiang foon noodle rolls.  And to top that all off, Alex & I stopped at Oberweis Ice Cream parlor to grab a small ice cream cake to make my birthday celebration with my loving little family complete.  And if that wasn't enough, when we got to my parents' house, my dad opened up a bottle of sweet red wine to toast to me :)  Talk about making a gal feel special and full of food and love and love of food...I heart my family!!!

Sweet Red  Rheinhessen~Cheers!
Shrimp & Pork Shumai Dumpling with Chili Sauce on the side~yum!
My Loves :)
Essentially a kind of foodie's dream weekend.  I am so grateful that I was the recipient all the love, and of such a wonderful weekend of celebrating. 34 ain't that bad. Cheers!

To think...We might do this all over again in a few weeks, Alex-style, when we celebrate his birthday at the end of the month!  I love February. (Burp!) Tee hee...