Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What I Tasted Tuesday - Cajun Tuna!

A couple of summers ago a friend and I went to this restaurant down at the beach that had swinging tables and chairs.  That's right.  They were like porch swings, but the table in the middle would swing along with you.  Pretty sweet... I know.  BUT - believe it or not that wasn't the best part of the evening.

The plate of food that we ordered (sadly to split because we got - an also oh so delicious - appetizer) was a cajun tuna steak over a bed of rice, a spicy yet sweet tomato salsa and black beans.  Let me tell you, I was excited about the swings, but the meal was the real party!  Sadly the meal was on special so it wasn't something I could go back to eat again and again.  However it made a great addition to my new Tuesday posts... What I Tasted Tuesday!  :)

I collected all the fixin's for a meal of this sort... Some jalapeno peppers, diced up tomatoes with chili peppers, black beans, tuna and then whatever seasonings I could find in the cabinet that seemed fitting.  This time I went with crushed red peppers, garlic, and cajun seasoning of course.  

Many times I have tried to recreate this meal.  Only a few times have I successfully delivered all the original splendor that we tasted at the swinging restaurant.  Since I am trying to cut back on rice and grains I decided to skip that part this time.  Instead, I made my own mix of salsa, sat it on some beans, and cooked up the tuna to an amazing reproduction of the memorable swinging-restaurant's blackened cajun tuna.  While the blend of tomatoes, hot jalapenos, and seasonings are heating up and doing their thing... I was blackening the tuna one burner over!  It's super easy (and quick depending on how you like your tuna cooked) to make this meal.  I served everything hot, meaning the temperature and the seasoning.  (Don't forget the beans - toss them in the microwave for a few seconds to heat them up and put them underneath the tomatoes and tuna.)  Pair it with a small side salad and you're good to go! 

Okay, so the picture below doesn't do it justice at all.  This combination is to die for!  AND it's healthy.  I have made it for my mom (who doesn't really like spicy things) and for my roommate, both of which raved over it!   Next time I think I will mix it up a bit more with the tomato salsa medley.... maybe try adding other peppers and more onions.

Give it a shot and let me know what you think!  Are you a fan of spicy foods or not so much?  

*In terms of paleo friendly foods - most of the products I used were organic.  The beans, however, are not on the preferred paleo list but I snuck them in their this time.  I figured it was a bit better than a large bed of rice. :)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Yes, I rapped at a wedding!

To be truthful - it took me 2 months to get up the nerve to actually upload this video from my camera!  Most of you know that I do wedding planning on the side, and that it takes two hands to count the number of times I have been a bridesmaid or maid of honor.  I have done numerous toasts and speeches, but it wasn't until Jessica's wedding in September that I had the nerve to actually rap my toast!

Before I get into the details, let me tell you a bit about this girl... she is hilarious, bubbly, fun, beautiful (inside and out) and would probably do just about anything for me.  Even though we have spent most of our friendship with half the country between us, it somehow pressed on and I think we both know that we will always have each other's backs in a moment's notice - even if we look like Dumb & Dumber fools, wearing flippers walking down the beach in the Bahamas together! 

She has surprised me NUMEROUS times - like when she randomly showed up at my high school graduation, or when she popped out of the back of the best praline store in Charleston while my boyfriend and I were vacationing down there!  So I felt like it was time for me to surprise her in return!

A couple days before I flew up to Minneapolis to help her prepare for her wedding I messaged the Best Man on facebook to see if he was on board with my plan.  Luckily the best man was her brother, who feels like a brother to me as well.  It made it so much easier to throw my crazy idea to rap at her wedding out there...

Jess and Alex are incredibly fun people.  And the Kirk family doesn't do anything the ordinary way.  So when I asked Brian if he wanted to rap with me his response was "SUZ YOU'RE A GENIUS!!"  

I watched a TON of youtube videos of other folks rapping wedding toasts.  Most of them actually rapped to the Fresh Prince song.  I probably should've done that, because now, every time I hear "Ice Ice Baby" I start singing "Jess and Alex."  I can't take all the credit though for my rapping lyrics.  I did snag a few lines from those who previously rapped toasts.  So many thanks go out to those people!  :)

Anyway - I am pretty sure Jess was surprised!  I actually asked her the day before her wedding, in a joking manner, if it would be okay for me to wear rapper bling at her wedding.  She probably thought I was kidding - and then - I did this... :)

Much love goes out to Jess and Alex!  (And my partner in crime, Bri!)  Ya'll are great sports!  Hope you enjoyed my awful, ahem, I mean AWESOME rap skillz!  (Because it was the first and last time that will happen!)  XOXO!  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Keep Calm... Thanksgiving

When I was growing up we would go back and forth between my dad's family and my mom's family every few years to celebrate Thanksgiving.  It didn't matter what side of the family we were with, we always had well over ten people at the dinner table.

Then I went to college and I decided to take advantage of the quick holiday and head to Europe, where they do not celebrate pilgrams and they do not eat turkey on this very special day.

For the past few years though, my family has been gathering around a smaller table, with just the five of us.  (My sister, mom, dad, me and grandmother).  In the beginning it was weird.  After slaving for hours the handful of us just sat there in silence (because we had already discussed the 10 topics that were on our minds) and ate our meal.

About two years ago my sister and I decided that our small family Thanksgiving needed some traditions.  I guess you can call things "tradition" when it happens more than once, right?  Well, for at least the past two years in a row Leslie & I have had a mini photo shoot before we can eat pie and we've played family beer pong.  (Little did we know my folks would school us in Thanksgiving drinking games...)

Three photos from 2009's Turkey Day:

As I was looking through past photos I realized that apparently it is also a tradition for me to help mash potatoes too!  Two years in a row!  Here's a few photo's from Thanksgiving 2010:

This year we have a ton of family coming into town from Maryland.  So I am guessing the family beer pong is OUT... but what is IN will be actually passing food around the table, working hard to prepare for a large group, decorating, catching up, and probably a bit of stress.

My poor mother has been on 'vacation' for the past three days and really has not stopped working for more than twenty minutes.  Some vacation, right?!  So I decided it would be very appropriate to put my new photoshop skills to work and make a "Keep Calm" sign to put in the kitchen on Thursday!  I have seen several versions of these floating around the blogosphere so by no means am I taking credit for this idea... I just photoshopped one of my own. :)

What do you think?  It only took me a couple of quick clicks and a minute of printing!  I went to the dollar store today and bought a cheap 8x10 frame.  I think it's kinda perfect!  I love the turkey and I especially love the glass of wine sitting with him!  The retro cam photo above makes it look a bit red, but it is actually brown with tan writing.

Want a copy to print for your own kitchen tomorrow as a reminder to "Keep Calm and Gobble On?"  You don't even have to put it in a frame, just stick it on the fridge!  Leave a comment below and I will email it to you!  (I just ask you share this with your friends & followers!)

Gobble Gobble!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Pretty Paleo Thanksgiving!

I have been meaning to start sharing some of my Paleo slash Healthy Eating meals with you but I just haven't gotten around to it!  My bad!  I even designed a little plan and logo for what I was going to call "What I Tasted Tuesday!" but again, I never got around to posting it.  Well, there's no better time than the present!

This weekend Michael and I decided to celebrate Thanksgiving together since we will each spend the holiday with our separate families.  We have been trying to cook as many paleo friendly meals as possibly, so I thought it would be a great idea to have a strictly paleo Thanksgiving!  It was a lot of fun to try out the new recipes that we had found - some from the internet, some from cookbooks.  I will say, as a huge fan of traditional, not-so-healthy-thanksgiving meals, these dishes were very delicious but some of them come in second place compared to their predecessors but only in the terms of providing that feeling that warm, cozy, comforting feeling that Thanksgiving leaves you with.  If I hadn't known it was trying to replace that old school meal, I definitely wouldn't have felt that way though.

Here is the run down of the meal...

Friday, November 18, 2011

I decorated for the holidays!!

Well, not exactly.  But I decorated the blog for the holidays!  Today is the first COLD day of the season... I think we have a high temperature of 45 today!  Shiver me timbers!!  With Thanksgiving next week and the radio stations already playing Christmas music (yes, I have been listening to it!!) it has gotten me in the mood to decorate.  HOWEVER.  I have a rule.  I cannot start decorating for Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving.  Some of you who are over achievers and already have lights on the outside of your house may disagree with me, but I think we need to give Turkey Day it's month to shine!

Since I do not break rules (very often!) I decided that I could decorate the blog!  Last week my sister sat down with me and gave me a Photoshop 101 training session.  Who knew the possibilities!  I sat there in complete dismay when she showed me how people "design" things.  I have now discovered brushes and patterns, so I am on to most of your tricks now!

I ended up designing my own Christmas card - which I can't show you because then it won't be much of a surprise when they show up in your mailbox next month!  But I have also designed a few of our "Girl's Night Out" invites!    

I also took the blog header from this:

           to this:

        to this:

to this:


So now I am ready to start getting festive!  It's the Friday before Thanksgiving!  Time to start prepping the food and thinking about the holidays!  Planning events and plotting a Black Friday bargain shopping escape route!  Enjoying the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and a huge meal with the fam!  (Pretty sure with relatives coming into town we won't have our new tradition of 'family beer pong' this year...)  And now the blog is all dressed up I am ready to share all of my holiday souvenirs with you! :)  Have a happy weekend friends! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Taylor's Maternity Shoot!

Last weekend I had the opportunity to hang out with an awesome girl and play with my camera a little bit.  Since I have this nice Nikon I feel like I should try to use it as much as possible.  I probably only know a fourth of what I can do with it, so by volunteering to do photo shoots for friends and family it is definitely a win-win.

Taylor is one of my boyfriend's roommates.  Her and her husband, Justin, moved in with Mike about a year ago.  I was lucky enough to take some shots at their wedding and now her maternity photographs as well!  I can't wait to meet their baby girl and hopefully sneak some cute photographs of her too! :)

Before we headed to the Historic Yorktown area we snapped a couple shots with Itsy!

We had to cut the field and tree photos short because the park ranger showed up and

Monday, November 14, 2011

San Francisco - Spent in Prison as Tourists

Ladies and Gentlemen - it's Monday!  We survived the weekend just in time for another work week.  I actually got to spend some time (doing chores and errands mostly) with Michael this weekend!  Last weekend, when totaling up all the minutes we spent together, I am pretty sure it topped off at an hour and thirty minutes.  So even though this weekend was busy with odds and ends, I it was still a good one.

Anyway - let's wrap up our trip to San Francisco for you!  Day three of three was more touristy I think than the rest.  We started by catching a cable car to Fisherman's Wharf and sprinting to catch the ship to Alcatraz.  Here are some photos of the morning:

We made it, with time to spare, to the Alcatraz ship.  After a ten minute ride we were on the little island that is a little over a mile off the coast from San Francisco.

Not sure why, but I love

Thursday, November 10, 2011

San Francisco - Bright Bridges, Big Trees, and Trespassing!

If you haven't caught on yet, I am in the process of catching YOU (my lovely reader who I have never met - or maybe one of my long lost Richmond friends) up on my randomly busy life!  Yesterday I brought you 'day one' of my three day escapade to the west coast... well buckle up for day two!  The title of this post says it all - bright bridges, big trees and trespassing!

We rented a Zip car for the entire day, and began our trek with a little drive across the Golden Gate bridge.  Mike would totally remember the make, model and year of our zip car while all I remember is the sunroof and getting car sick!  Below is a shot I took through the sunroof in the middle of the bridge.

Another car memory - the windy roads all the way to Muir Woods!  The drive there wasn't so bad, but the drive back to the city made me sick.  (The boys took care of me though, got me some water, and I scored the front seat! Woot!)

I honestly think this was my favorite day of the trip.  For those of you who know me well, you know that for some strange reason I LOVE trees.  My favorite necklace has this cool tree on it from Charleston, and I have often been called out numerous times for saying "That's such a pretty tree" or "What a cute little tree..."  So going to see the Coastal Redwood Trees in Muir Woods was

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

San Francisco - Wine Day!

As most of you know, for our one year anniversary Michael and I went to San Francisco!  It was a free flight, and Mike's friend Kendrick lives there, so we had a free place to stay!  It was a whirl-winded 3 day trip to the west coast, but it was a lot of fun.

Our first day in San Francisco was a long one!  We got to go on an eight hour wine tour - and yes, I am now singing the Gillian's Island theme song *an eight hour tour... and eighttt hourrr tourrr!*  Luckily in our case the weather did not "start getting rough" and our not so tiny ship was not tossed at sea!  It was actually BEAUTIFUL weather, and there was NO HUMIDITY!  I loved it!  (And so did my hair!)

Let me use some photos to walk you through the day!  First we boarded one of three busses that were leaving San Francisco and heading to Napa Valley.  The first stop was the Golden Gate Bridge overlook.

After a ten minute break at the bridge we boarded the busses again and listened to our guide discuss the ins and outs of the wine business.  I learned a bit while Mike took a nap. :)  At the first winery we had a delicious, fresh lunch, did a little bit of cheese tasting, and then of course