Saturday, June 16, 2012

2nd Anniversary Trip: San Francisco!

So, I made a commitment to myself (and Mike) that we would go on a trip every Memorial Day weekend to celebrate our anniversary. Last year we went to New York City. When we were returning from our trip last year, we talked about some possibilities for this year's trip. Neither of us had been to San Fancisco, but we were both interested in going. Well, that was easy!

On Friday, we left early in the morning on a direct flight (and tiny plane)! We got into SFO at about 9:30am and took a taxi to our hotel. We couldn't check in for another 5 hours, so we had the hotel store our luggage and we hit the road.

First stop was Union Square...
Then Chinatown...

After some yummy Thai food for lunch, we headed up to Fisherman's Wharf to see the sea lions at Pier 39...

We visited Ghiradelli Square and each got a free piece of chocolate!
Then we started the long walk back to the hotel. Oh the hills...

On the way back, we did stop at the "crookedest road in the word" aka Lombard St...

By the time we got back to the hotel, we'd seen most of the sights in San Francisco! After a quick nap, we went to dinner at a nearby restaurant and then walked around some more, but stayed closer to home!

On Saturday morning, we rented a couple bikes and hit the road. We had tickets to an Alcatraz tour at 2:50pm so the plan was to ride our bikes across the Golden Gate Bridge and around a couple little towns on the other side and then catch a ferry back to San Francisco in time to get some lunch and go on our tour.

We started with breakfast at the Famer's Market at the Ferry Building.

Then we were off on our cycling adventure!
On our way to cross the bridge
We're halfway across!
We stopped at Sycamore Park in Mill Valley to check out the tallest redwoods (in the world?)

On the way to meet our 12:45 ferry, we realized we were cutting it pretty close. The further we biked, the more we realized we weren't going to make it. We still kept up the pace, just in case the ferry left a bit late. 

Well, it did leave a bit late, but not late enough! We missed the boat and we would be missing our Alcatraz tour, as well. At least we had a good story and logged 26 miles on our bikes!! We had lunch (with ice cream!) and caught the 3pm ferry back to San Francisco. That night we had Chinese food and caught a movie: Men in Black III!

On Sunday, we didn't really have any specific plans, but we made our way to the Fisherman's Wharf area since the Golden Gate Bridge would be celebrating it's 75th anniversary that night and there were plenty of goings on in that area. Mike contacted his friend, Hicham, with whom he was in ROTC at LSU. We had lunch with him at a great seafood restaurant. After lunch, Mike's other friend, Leo, and his wife met up with us. We all made plans to meet up later for the fireworks that night.

From there, Mike and I set off to see Alamo Square (no joke!) and the Golden Gate Park. Alamo Square is a nice park where you can see the Painted Ladies, a group of Victorian style row houses. If you've ever seen the intro to Full House, you're familiar with them.
After literally miles of walking through Golden Gate Park, we made our way to the Cliff House restaurant for dinner. It was quite busy, but we took a table in the bar area and enjoyed a burger and drinks. We got there at sunset and got some gorgeous views!
That night we met back up with Hicham and Leo to watch the fireworks.
On Monday, our last full day in the area, we went on a Winery Tour in Napa. They picked us up at the Ferry Building and we drove about an hour and a half to Napa where we visited 4 wineries. We got to taste several wines at each. 

It was a beautiful day, and much warmer there than in San Francisco. The way home was very quiet...
That night, we met up with Mike's friend Jesus and his wife, Kate, at the Stinking Rose. They moved to Oakland last year and hadn't had a chance to visit the Stinking Rose yet. 

It was great to catch up with them. The food was delicious, even the garlic ice cream!

Our flight didn't leave until the afternoon on Tuesday, so we decided to catch the cable car. Long lines and pricey tickets led us to just take a picture and check out the Urban Outfitters store nearby!

We had an uneventful flight home. It was another direct flight. We even got home in time to go grocery shopping, do laundry and cook dinner! What a wonderful anniversary vacation! Now we need to figure out where to go next year!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Feeding Friendship: No-Bake* Strawberry Cheesecake

Well, strawberries have been plentiful at the Farmer's Market and grocery store! Thanks, Ellie, for choosing strawberries for this round of Feeding Friendship!

I did a quick search of the usual sites (Pinterest, Punchfork) to get some ideas of what to make for this round. I ended up searching through the recipes at Skinny Taste and found this AWESOME No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake recipe!

The reason there's an asterisk in the title for this blog, is because I did some baking when I made it. I made the crust from scratch which required baking. It was So. Worth. It. though. This cheesecake makes me cackle to myself every time I cut myself a slice. I've decided this is the sign of a truly good dish from me: it inspires a cackle. So, without further ado...

Graham Cracker Crust (The recipe says to get store bought, but we're better than that, right?)
1 package of Graham Crackers (about 9 rectangular sheets)
1/3 c white sugar
6 T butter, melted
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional, I just did a sprinkle)

Cheesecake Filling
1  8oz package cream cheese (go for the low-fat or fat-free if you wish)
1  8oz package cool whip (fat-free or lite, if you dare)
5-6 small strawberries, pureed (I added these for color and perhaps some flavor)
1/4 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
15-20 small strawberries, hulled and halved, lengthwise

1) To make the crust, combine all crust ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Press into pie plate and cooke at 375 degrees for ~8-10 min, until browned. Let cool before adding filling.

2) Whip cool whip, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract until fluffy.

3) Add filling to cooled pie crust.

4)Place in refrigerator for a few hours to chill.

5) Before serving, add sliced strawberries to the top!


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Feeding Friendship: Stuffed Bell Peppers

I chose peppers for this round of Feeding Friendship because I have serrano and bell peppers growing our  planter in the backyard. The serrano plant is loaded with peppers and I get a few bell peppers a week. I needed help figuring out what to do with them! 

I chose to make stuffed bell peppers. I did purchase mine from the store, though, since the one's I'm growing weren't big enough yet and the ones at the store looked like mutant peppers (I won't think about that too much...) The leftover stuffing can be used for extra yummy tacos, too!

I got the recipe here. Here's how I did it!

4 or 5 large bell peppers
16 oz lean ground turkey or chicken
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 T chili powder 
1 T ground cumin
16 oz jar of salsa
1 cup cooked rice
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream (optional, I didn't use it)

1) Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut bell peppers in half or cut the top off and remove seeds.

2) In a large skillet over medium heat, brown turkey with onions. Add minced garlic, chili powder and cumin and stir and cook for 1 minute. Stir in salsa and rice.

3) Place cut bell peppers open side up on a baking sheet. Fill each one with stuffing and top with shredded cheddar. 

4) Bake for 7-10 min until cheese is melty.

5) Serve with avocado and/or sour cream on top. YUM!