Friday, March 29, 2013

Happy Birthday Justin! The 10th Anniversary of your 21st Birthday!

Last week was Justin's birthday and unlike last year's drunken debauchery we played it a little more low key this year. After all, he's turning 31...we're too old for that! LOL! Anyway, for his actual birthday we went out to dinner at The Prime Rib, a place we've been wanting to try for a while. Justin started off with the lobster bisque, which is something I usually order when it's on the menu, but alas it is not "paleo challenge" friendly. :(

So instead I ordered the tomato soup which is still tasty (and not cream based either!)

We also split the shrimp cocktail appetizer! You can't go wrong with a big, honking shrimp I say!

Then, came our entrees! Justin ordered the full cut. Man, that thing was huge! Bone-in prime reminded me of the hunk of meat that tipped over the Flintstone's car...LOL...

I on the other hand opted to get the classic, signature cut. Way smaller of course ;) Oh, by the way, the shredded white stuff on the sides of our plates isn't cheese, but shredded fresh horseradish. Neat, huh? It definitely wasn't as spicy as I thought it would be but it added a nice kick with every bite of meat.

These were my sides! Kinda wish the portion sizes were bigger...

Then the server came out with strawberries romanoff (on the house) with a candle on it. Justin was definitely surprised. Note: restaurants actually read the comments in an Open Table reservation so it pays to write down if you are celebrating a special occasion!

On Friday, we hit up Biergarden Haus on H St. to meet up our friends for a couple of drinks (I was DD, obviously!). Since it was cold outside they closed off a large part of the outdoor seating area. This caused them to strictly limit how many people could come in and out. This put a slight damper on our festivities since we had a party of over 20 people because they gave some of us a hard time getting outside to join the rest of the group. We made the best of the situation and eventually, everyone got outside but it was kind of pain to deal with in the first place.

It was nice to see all our friends, many of which we haven't seen in a while!

Overall, all I would say all of Justin's Birthday festivities were a success! We unfortunately didn't get to celebrate with my dad (since they share the same birthday!) but hopefully we'll have a belated birthday celebration in the near future!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Weekend Review: The New Brioni Mobile!

Hello Everyone! If you're in the DC Metro area, you woke up to a landscape of snow. So much for Spring, huh? I begrudgingly got ready for work, but it wasn't too bad because we got a new car over the weekend! In case you didn't know, Justin and I have been a one car household for the past few months. I know all of you suburbanites might be wondering how we are able to survive on just one car, but it's pretty easy given our situation. Justin uses the metro for work and the gym (he goes immediately after work).  I on the other hand need a car during the week for my lengthy commute from our home in Capitol Hill to my job in Mclean, VA. Any other time we really need a car is when we're running errands on the weekend together. Living off of one car has been easy peezy.

In any case, with both of us using Justin's car, we were quickly realizing that the the good ol' FJ Cruiser (aka: Onyx) was no longer fitting our needs. The height and roof rack make it a pain to fit into certain city garages. The cab doors we're difficult to get people/things in and out of. Lastly, it was a gas guzzler, which made me (the primary driver of the car) have to fill it up every few days at the tune of $50+ per tank.

After much discussion, we settled on the Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited, if we could find one in our budget. We started our car search over the weekend and our first stop on Friday evening was Carmax. We went stopped by to get an trade-in estimate on the FJ Cruiser, and we surprisingly got a better number than we thought. FJ Cruisers seem to hold their value...probably because it caters to a niche market. Unfortunately, they didn't have any Highlanders that we liked on the lot, so we continued our search on Saturday and headed to the dealership. On our visit, we found a fully loaded silver Highlander Hybrid Limited on the lot.  I had done a lot of research regarding negotiation and told Justin that we should be prepared to leave if the deal wasn't to our liking. Unfortunately, the low inventory of Highlander Hybrids put the bargaining power in the dealerships corner, so they weren't willing to budge from their asking sales price. Luckily, we used our handy "ace in our pocket" (i.e. the FJ Cruiser) and asked to see what they would take for it.  After examining the FJ Cruiser, and crunching some numbers, they came back with trade-in amount that was nearly $2,000 more than what Carmax offered! The trade-in value of the FJ Cruiser calculated into the dealership's offering price for the Highlander Hybrid created a new offer that we could not refuse.

After sitting for several hours, we signed all the paperwork and bid adieu to our beloved Onyx. I'm sure he'll make some mud-boggling teen or extreme gentleman quite happy :)

And here we are with our new Highlander Hybrid--the Silver Bullet!

We still need to take it back to the dealership to get some minor scratches fixed, but we are satisfied with our first car purchase together! Or to put it more accurately, our first car purchase ever (because our parents had played the main role as purchaser in our prior vehicles)! Justin was sad for a day or so after we said our good-bye to his "man-chariot". He had that truck for over six years, and I can easily see how he got emotionally attached to the truck.  After driving this car for a few days, I realize how much the Highlander fits our needs! There are ample windows so there are no blind spots. It's big enough to haul stuff from Costco or Home Depot, but not too big to parallel park on DC streets. The fact that it's a hybrid makes gas consumption a non-issue. We have third row seating for when we have out-of-town guests, or want to pile in the people. And we even have a DVD player which will be perfect for the little ones...

These little ones...commence gratuitous frenchie photos!


LOL! What did you think I was talking about? Kids? Hehehe...all joking aside, children ARE in our future, we just don't know exactly when as of yet. Whenever we do decide to have kids, at least we know we'll be equipped with the right vehicle. :)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Our Paleo Eating for the Week: Breakfast and Muffins

Last Friday, I had a pretty uneventful, but productive weekend night making some paleo breakfast items for the week. Since I can't have grains while I'm on this nutrition challenge I love making muffins. The first recipe I tried was the blueberry lemon muffins from the book Practical Paleo by Diane SanFilippo. I swear, I have checked out this book from library so many times that I might as well buy it at this point. 

Or course I was watching the ACC Tournament and my beloved Terps squash Duke for the second time...of course I would later realize that they were fated for the NIT...wah wah...

I used the spatula to make sure that I got all the batter on the sides and put the batter neatly in the muffin tins. It was the perfect amount. Don't you hate it when you have too much or too little batter for a dozen muffins?

And of course I had my sous chef Derby let me know when the muffins were done!

Since I already had the muffin ingredients out and the stand mixer was ready to go, I decided to make another batch muffins. This time I was going to make paleo pumpkin muffins using this recipe from The blog, Cindy's Table. The good thing about this recipe is that it used the entire can of pumpkin. So many pumpkin muffin recipes out there use only a cup or so of pumpkin from the can. No bueno. What are you supposed to  do with the rest of the pumpkin?

Here are some shots of the ingredients going in (both muffin recipes have a lot of eggs in them so they have a lot of protein!) and the pumpkin batter...


Again the perfect amount of batter for the muffin tins--I'm on a roll!

The finished product! I had to bake them twice as long as the suggested 12 minutes, but they turned out great! They aren't as sweet as most muffins, but they taste great with a pat of Kerrygold butter!

Since my muffin tins were being occupied, I decided to make crustless quiche using a casserole dish. All you need is a dozen or so eggs and whatever paleo filling you like! The great thing about this recipe is that you can use whatever meat and vegetable you have available. Today, it was ham and broccoli. 

And I'm not stingy with filling either. Check out my awesome knife skills ;)

Just put it all together and put it in a baking dish for 30 minutes (or until the toothpick comes out clean). 

It came out perfect with a nice golden crust! 

And of course I couldn't help but cut myself a slice! It was delicous!

Whew! That's a lot of food prep! The best part about it is that I can keep all of this food in the fridge until I'm ready to eat or I can freeze them for later! As the saying goes, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." That saying is completely true for paleo eaters. :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Miogi and Rhea's Civil Ceremony

A couple of weeks ago Justin's cousin, Miogi tied the knot in a civil ceremony. Miogi and his blushing bride, Rhea, are planning on having their church ceremony in the Philippines next year, but they opted to also have an intimate, local, civil ceremony with close friends and family ahead of the church ceremony. The festivities were held at L'Auberge Chez Francois and although we were hit with snow the day before, you couldn't have asked for a prettier day!

They reserved the side room at Chez Francois for the civil ceremony. The architecture of the entire restaurant was so cute. It looked like a European villa both inside and out. Here comes the ring bearer! 

Here's a shot of the couple exchanging their vows, and a picture of Miogi's sister, Maha, reciting a poem in honor of their union.
Miogi and Rhea lighting their unity candle...
Now it was time for the Filipino paparazzi...LOL, I mean pictures ;) First one of the groom's side...
And with the Honorable Judge Mann who presided over their ceremony....
Here's my picture with the happy couple!

After we took pictures it was time to eat! Here is a picture of the reception area with its high ceilings and dark wood beams.

Now for some food porn...some of which I may or may not have taken a part in. ;) Here's the beautiful wedding cake with the wedding favors on the side. The favor was a wine stopper/pourer, which I thought was really cool!

The inside of the cake was so colorful. Full of rich Filipino flavors of buttercream, pandan (young coconut), and ube (purple yam).
Here is a shot of the hour d'ourve tray with a bunch of tasty nibbles!

The braised beef cheeks were a popular choice at my table. 

And you couldn't go wrong with the roasted meats as an entree (i.e. lamb and beef)

That was our first wedding of the year, and we have many more to come in 2013 (four more to be exact).  I can't believe Miogi's married! Although, Justin couldn't make it to this one, we both want to wish you so much happiness in your married life together!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Weekend Review: Relaxing St. Patrick's Day

Hi Everyone! I hope you had a good weekend! I honestly didn't do much. Since I can't drink due to my nutrition challenge (I'm saving my cheat days!), I decided to stay in most of the weekend. As unsocial as it sounds, I'm too fond of not drinking while others partake in alcoholic libations (I just get tired!). So while Justin was off "gallivanting" with our friends around Chinatown and H St., I had a relaxing Saturday night with the Frenchies prepping our St. Patrick's Day meal!
A couple of weekends ago, Justin and I spotted corned beef at Costco. I knew it would be perfect for a St. Patrick's Day meal so in the cart it went. Fast forward to Saturday night, after thawing it out, I opened the package...

And plopped it into the slow cooker (seasoning packet and all) to cook overnight so we could have a piping, hot breakfast the next day...

Unfortunately, when we woke up we realized that our garbage disposal was clogged and the dishwasher had leaked overnight. :( For some reason, when our garbage disposal is clogged, our dishwasher overflows with water. I don't understand how or why, but that's just what happens. Does that happen to you to? Justin was all ready to call the plumber but I told him that we should first look up and see if we could fix it ourselves. After all, I had seen my dad do it plenty of times--it couldn't be that hard!

Luckily, we were able to fix it ourselves (I knew it!) and  crisis was averted. :) Isn't homeownership wonderful? Anyway, it was onto the corned beef! It was piping hot and ready to go!

Mmmm...fatty meaty goodness!

We baked some sweet potato fries and fried up some eggs and it was the perfect paleo, Irish breakfast! We had a ton of leftovers and ended up grazing on the corned beef the entire day!

After the whole garbage disposal fiasco and eating a huge breakfast, we were exhausted. We relaxed for a bit before tackling our huge mountain of laundry.
While relaxing, Justin decided to pull up some frenchie YouTube videos. The boys love watching other frenchies on the computer for some reason.
You can hear me saying, "Synchronized 'Why?' face." LOL...
*Side Note: That sound you hear in the video is a typical frenchie whine...both Louie and Derby do it sometimes (especially when you put them in their crate when people are around). It kinda sounds like a human baby crying, doesn't it?
So what did you do over the weekend? Did you celebrate St. Patrick's Day on Sunday or had you celebrated the weekend before? Whatever you did, I'm sure it didn't involve french bulldogs watching YouTube. ;)