Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What's Up Wednesday

Happy day-before-Thanksgiving! I have been MIA the past few weeks due to work commitments. I can't believe tomorrow is Thanksgiving! Let the holiday festivities begin. :)

Today, I am linking up with Shay for my fourth "What's Up Wednesday," which consists of answering the following questions, plus the bonus question, "What is your favorite Christmas tradition?"

1. What We're Eating This Week
It's been chilly here this week, so I made a big batch of turkey chili in my crock-pot for lunchtime.

And of course, I'll be having the traditional Thanksgiving meal with family (my favorite dish is turkey and pumpkin pie). If you're looking for a new spin on pumpkin pie, try this pumpkin squares recipe I posted earlier this month.

2. What I'm Reminiscing About
Childhood Christmas in Germany. We used to put real candles on the tree and light it. Thinking about it now, I'm surprised this was allowed (major fire hazard!) but the tree was so beautiful. Here's me as a four year old (on the bottom left) with the tree.

3. What I'm Loving
The short week!  I don't have work on Thanksgiving or on Friday. Yay for the long weekend.

4. What We've Been Up To
Work, work, work and more work. This time of year of work is always super busy.

5. What I'm Dreading
Nothing...I love everything about this time of year.

6. What I'm Working On
Trying to go to the gym at least 3 times a week during the holidays. This is always a struggle for me because there is so much to do! I bought some new shoes recently (in pink!) so I'm hoping that will motivate me.

7. What I'm Excited About
Family visiting over the holidays. We have the best time! We play card games, sit around the fireplace, bake, cook, and exchange stories.

8. What I'm Watching/Reading
I love watching my favorite Christmas movies this time of year. Some of my favorites include Christmas Vacation, Elf, The Holiday, and my favorite, Home Alone. I can watch that movie over and over and never get sick of it. So good!

9. What I'm Listening To
Christmas music! Here in L.A., KOST 103.5 FM starts playing Christmas music in November, so I've been listening to this station on my iheartratio app nonstop.

10. What I'm Wearing
This cozy tunic sweater I bought from Banana Republic last month.  It's finally sweater weather here in California.

11. What I'm Doing This Weekend
Baking holiday goodies with my mom! We bake each year Thanksgiving weekend, because the cookies we make are so time consuming (they are German hazelnut jelly cookies) and require two people (one to do the baking, and one to fill them with jelly and dust them with vanilla powder and sugar). I also hand-dip pretzels in white and dark chocolate to give to friends, family, and coworkers.

12. What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month
All the Christmas decorations! I usually put up my tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, and I usually help my parents put theirs up the weekend of Thanksgiving. Here is my tree and my parents' tree from last year.

13. What Else is New
This is back!  I wait for it every year.  It's my favorite peppermint bark.  After much searching, I found it at Walmart and Home Goods.

14. What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
My favorite Christmas tradition is staying up late on Christmas Eve and opening gifts at midnight. This is a tradition that carried over from when we lived in Germany. We've never opened gifts on Christmas morning-- that concept is a bit foreign to me. Instead, we have breakfast, attend Church, and then have Christmas lunch/dinner later that afternoon.

Thanks for stopping by!  Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Honey Dijon Chicken

I am linking up today with Sweet Little Ones for 'Tuesday Talk' to share another recipe! 

I recently tried a Pinterest recipe that I found: honey dijon chicken. This recipe was so easy to make (it literally took me 5 minutes to do this) and so tasty. The only changes I made to the recipe were to use light maple syrup instead of regular maple syrup, to put rosemary on the chicken before I put it in the oven, and to flip the chicken over when in the pan so the marinade could get on both sides. Oh, and I also cooked the chicken at a lower temperature and for less time because I used chicken tenders, which tend to be smaller and cook faster. I took some pictures of the meal before and after. Enjoy!

Honey Dijon Chicken (from Rachel Schultz)
Serves 4
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a small bowl, mix together mustard, syrup, and vinegar.
3. Place chicken breasts into 9×13 baking dish.
4. Season with salt & pepper.
5. Pour mustard mixture over chicken. No need to marinate.
6. Bake for about 35-50 minutes or until meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F.
7. Season with rosemary.

The chicken before going into the oven:

The chicken after baking:

And finally, dinner!


Monday, November 9, 2015

Nordstrom Fall Clearance Sale

I had no idea the fall clearance sale was going on at Nordstrom from the 5th to the 15th of November until I went shopping with my mom yesterday and noticed what a zoo it was in the shoe salon. Between now and the 15th, you can save up to 40% on items, both in store and online.

I bought a few items while I was shopping with my mom, two of which were on sale:

1.  I bought these shoes since I was looking for something neutral and comfortable.

2.  I bought this over-sized tunic for the weekend.

3.  I bought these live-in slim stretch leggings, although they weren't on sale (the salesperson informed me that these usually never go on sale, since they sell so well). They are super stretchy, comfortable, and reversible (the other side is a bit more shiny). I would recommend buying one size down, since they run big.  I was a bit hesitant about buying these, since some leggings get baggy after one wear, but I read the online reviews for these and they were pretty good.  After trying on a pair at the store, I was sold.  They are quite possibly the most comfy pair of leggings I have every worn.  Try them, you won't be disappointed.  One tip from the salesperson:  Wash and air dry these instead of using the dryer, so you can enjoy them for years to come.

Here are some other items that I'm eyeballing:

1.  These Nike shoes, since I need new ones for the gym...and they have to be pink, of course. ;)

2.  These pink pumps.

3.  This long cardigan for Fall.

4.  These Michael Kors boots. 

Happy shopping!


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Pumpkin Squares Recipe

Happy Tuesday!  Today, I am linking up with Sweet Little Ones for Tuesday Talk and sharing my Pumpkin Squares recipe.

I found this recipe on the Curry Girls Kitchen website and decided to try it on Halloween night. You can find the complete recipe here. Although their recipe is gluten free, I used regular flour for mine did not use coconut flour (I added more regular flour instead).

I loved the end result of the recipe: it's a cross between pumpkin pie and a coffee crumb cake. It's really delicious, especially once it's been chilled in the fridge for a few hours. The only thing I didn't like about the recipe is that it took a bit longer to make because you essentially make three parts: crust, filling, and topping. I think what also took a lot of time for me was grinding the pecans (I used a coffee/nut grinder instead of my normal food processor, which took forever because my grinder is so small. Next time I'm using my food processor). But if you're up for the challenge, try this! It's amazing once done. :)

I'm not going to re-post the entire recipe here, since you can click the link above to get to it, but I did take some pictures of the process. Here it is in a nutshell:

1. Gather all your ingredients. Grind the pecans in a food processor.

2. Mix all the crust ingredients together using a pastry blender (or fork, like I did).

3. Spread the crust in a Pyrex pan and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes or so.

4. Mix the filling ingredients together.

5. Make the crumble topping by mixing all ingredients together with a fork.

6. Once the crust has cooled, pour the filling on it so it covers the crust completely.  Add the crumble topping.  Bake for another 45 minutes.

7. Once done baking, it will look something like this:

8. Once cool, cut and add a dollop of whipped cream if you wish.



Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween Recap

Happy November! It's hard to believe that Halloween is over. I feel like once November rolls around, the holidays are in full swing!  Here's a recap of my Halloween.

We had our annual Halloween festivities/contest at work. Our department won for best act (they did Star Wars) and the Marketing department won for best group costume (they did Pac Man, which was really creative and original). Here are some pictures:

I carved my pumpkin on Friday night, and it was a success...or so I thought until I realized that I made my bat upside down (since bats naturally hang with their faces looking down). Oh well, I still think my pumpkin came out looking pretty cool. ;) 

As I do every year, I roasted the pumpkin seeds.  But this year, I tried a new method:  I boiled the seeds first in a sauce pan for about 10 minutes and added salt to the water so that the salt could penetrate the inside of the seeds (for every 1/2 cup of seeds, add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water). Then I strained them and roasted them in a nonstick pan with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and the juice of half a lemon until they turned golden brown. They turned out delicious!

I did some other baking as well (I made pumpkin pie squares, which turned out amazing!). I will share the recipe on the blog tomorrow.

Hope you all had a wonderful Halloween. Now bring on the Christmas music (just kidding...well...kinda).

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