Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wednesday's Dinner

Tonight we decided to break out our new panini press/grill to make dinner. So, we made grilled pork chops with smashed potatoes and grilled zucchini.

I started with the smashed potatoes. I was inspired by a recipe by Giada de Laurentiis, but I didn't want to go to the grocery store to get specific ingredients so I just used what I had in the pantry. I boiled red potatoes for about 20 minutes on the stove. Then, I "smashed" them using a glass. Instead of frying them in a pan, I decided to bake them in the oven to make them crispy. So, I took the smashed potatoes and placed them on a baking sheet. I drizzled them in a mixture of olive oil, garlic powder, and Italian spices. After baking on high heat for about 10 minutes, I switched the oven to broil and browned the top of the smashed potatoes. Then, I flipped the potatoes with a spatula and broiled them for a few more minutes.

Before cooking, I marinated the pork chops in a tomato, basil and garlic marinade made with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I used thin cuts of pork chops and this was good because they didn't take forever to cook on the grill. I cooked them for about 5 minutes on each side until they had carmelized grill marks and they were done on the inside. I also made grilled zucchini that was seasoned with garlic, spices and olive oil, simple flavors to compliment the rest of the food.

I think it all came out pretty well. The potatoes were an interesting experience. I used red potatoes that were pretty big, and it was hard to smash them thin enough without them breaking apart. Next time I'll use smaller potatoes, which should hold up better in the smashing process.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Honeymoon Recap: Part 2!

On our first full day in Paris, we woke up early to get a start on the busy day. We stopped at the boulangerie on Rue Cler for breakfast. We had pain au chocolats, Orangina and a baguette with Nutella. It was a lot of bread and chocolate :)
Then we boarded the Metro and went to the Louvre where we bought museum passes and toured the museum for a couple of hours. We visited all of the major pieces at the Louvre, but there are just so many others, we didn't have time to spend looking at much other stuff. So, then we walked through the gardens and went to L'Orangerie, a museum with a ton of Monet's Waterlily paintings, it was amazing! We continued our walk and went all the way down the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. It was a really pretty walk and oh so Parisian! Then, we hiked up the stairs inside the Arc de Triomphe to the top for some amazing views. It was really awesome to be able to look down all of the avenues and see all of the big landmarks of Paris.
After leaving the Arc de Triomphe, we went to Ile de la Cite and Notre Dame. We enjoyed walking around the inside the church and outside. Then, it started to rain a little bit and we were exhausted from a busy day of sightseeing, so we went back to the apartment to relax.
After a short nap, we decided that we would cook in our apartment kitchen for dinner. So, we went to Franprix(small grocery store on our street), Top Halles(the vegetable market), la Fromagerie (cheese store), and the boulangerie (bakery) . We made a delicious chicken and pasta dish and ate it out on our balcony.
The next morning, we slept late and had a leisurely start to the day. Kevin went to the boulangerie by himself and ordered en francais! After breakfast, we had planned to visit Versailles but found out that a strike had forced the chateau to close for the day. So, we changed our plans and visited Musee d'Orsay instead. D'Orsay is my favorite museum, so I really enjoyed it. In the afternoon, we made a trip to the Champs Elysees area to do some shopping. We had dinner at a cafe on Rue Cler, Cafe du Marche. It was rainy, but we ate outside under the awning. After dinner, we walked toward the Eiffel Tower to see the sparkling light show from the Champ du Mars park.
On Friday, we woke up early to make the trip to Versailles. The lines were short and there weren't many people in the gardens, so it was a nice trip. After we were back in Paris, we visited the Army Museum and Les Invalides (where Napoleon's tomb is).
We made the short walk back from Les Invalides to our apartment and picked up sandwiches from the boulangerie for lunch. Then we visited la Conciergerie (the jail where people sentenced to the guillotine were held, including Marie Antoinette) and the church Saint Chapelle.For dinner, we ate at the famed Cafe Constant only a couple of blocks away from our apartment. We both had some really good wine and Kevin had lamb stew and I had grilled ribeye with mashed potatoes.
On Saturday, we had another relaxing morning and took the metro to Place de la Bastille. We did a walk recommended by Rick Steve's guidebook in the Marais neighborhood and walked all the way to the modern art museum. We even saw a French mime! He was really good and I enjoyed watching him.
Afterwards, we went to Ile Saint Louis for a romantic stroll across the seine and to explore the little island. We stopped at Berthillon for ice cream which has been called the best ice cream in the world. Then, we walked into the Latin Quarter and came back to the apartment for lunch.
Photobucket Photobucket

We ate dinner at another local cafe, Cafe Rousillon. It was really good food and seemed to be targeted a little more towards tourists since a couple things on their menu were actually named in English, like "Chicken Burger," lol. But, I had a delicious Veal escallope with penne in a Normandy mushroom sauce. Afterwards we got dessert from a local pastry shop, an eclair and some macaroons, yum!
To be continued...

Friday, June 11, 2010

Honeymoon Recap!

After our wonderful (seriously, it was PERFECT) wedding, we jetted off to France for an amazingly romantic and exciting honeymoon.

We had an easy flight from JFK to Paris on Sunday night and arrived at just after 7am Paris time. Since we had gotten a couple of hours of sleep on the plane and were so excited to be in France, we weren't that tired. We had expected customs to take a while, but we were outside picking up our rental car in 5 minutes! Our car was a cute little Mercedes compact car that Kevin said felt like driving a go cart... it was petite! We had a GPS in the car, which was SO helpful in France. We got on our way and had a lot of fun driving through the beautiful countryside to Reims. We really enjoyed all of the farmland and trying to decipher what all of the unfamiliar traffic signs meant.
Once we got to Reims, we were able to check into our hotel early, which was awesome! We took a quick nap, by this time, we were starting to get tired! Then, we had lunch in town and walked around. We went to the cathedral, which was amazing. It was so cool to be in such an old place that is such a big part of France's history, nearly every French King until the 19th century was crowned here.
Later that afternoon, we visited the Champagne cellars of GH MUMM, who is the third largest Champagne producer in the world! It was really fun tour of the cellars and we learned a lot about how it's made. Of course, then we got to the fun part, the tasting! We got to taste their Brut and Demi Sec, which were both good, but their traditional Brut was amazing. It's amazing how much better the real stuff is than what comes from California!!
We were exhausted from the wedding weekend, traveling and time change that we fell asleep early that night. The next morning we had an amazing breakfast at the hotel. The chocolat chaud was amazing and they had unlimited mini pain au chocolats! After checking out of the hotel, we headed to another Champagne cellar tour. We went to Champagne Lanson, which is also in Reims. We had a private tour of the entire facility, where every single bottle of champagne is made. We even saw a hectare of vineyard that they had on their property for making a special champagne with only those grapes. It was really cool to see everything in the champagne process, from the grapes and bottling to the fermentation processes, labeling and packaging. We finished the tour off with another champagne tasting!
Then, we began our trip back towards Paris. We loved all of the scenery and stopped at a chateau outside of Compiegne, Chateau Pierrefonds. I had visited this chateau 5 years earlier when I went to France for a school exchange and I thought it would be a fun stop on our drive to Paris. We had lunch at the boulangerie in town and Kevin discovered his favorite French food, Jambon-Beurre(a French baguette with ham and butter). We walked around, enjoyed relaxing with the amazing scenery and then got back in the car for Paris!
As we got closer and closer to Paris, traffic got crazier and crazier. Everyone was in little cars and zipping around everywhere. We joked that there were basically no traffic laws in France. Kevin did an amazing job and we drove right through the middle of Paris, around the Place de la Concorde and over the Seine. It was such an awesome way to see the sights. Finally, we made it to Place des Invalides, where we were to return the car, but we couldn't figure out where to take it! So, after driving around the block about 5 times, we finally found a very small sign that said the rental car drop off was in a garage UNDERNEATH the road. Once we had the car parked in the right spot, we made it to the metro to go to our apartment.

The greeter at our apartment was so nice and gave us all of the info we needed for our stay. The apartment was gorgeous and just like we expected. We were so thrilled! It had a cute little balcony overlooking the bustling market street, Rue Cler. That evening, we took an evening walk towards the Eiffel Tower (only 3 blocks away) and took an evening boat cruise on the Seine. It was really great to be in Paris and just relaxing!
to be continued...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Steak Kabobs

Tonight for dinner, we made vegetable and steak kabobs. We used our new Cuisinart Griddler that we got as a wedding gift. It was great to use because it allowed us to cook a meal inside that would usually be cooked outside on a grill! We hope to get a lot of use out of this kitchen appliance in the future. Plus, the griddler can function as a panini press, flat grill or griddle for making things like pancakes.

So, for the kabobs, I chopped an onion, green and yellow peppers, and a zuchinni and marinated them in italian dressing for a little while. Then, I took the ribeye steak and cut it into large cubes. I placed the kabob ingredints on bamboo skewers and seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
For a sweet ending to the meal, we had grilled pineapple. It was really good and easy to cook on the griddler. I think it went really well with the kabobs. Here's a pic of the pineapple on the grill before I flipped the rest of the slices.

Our New Apartment

Next month, Kevin and I will move into our new apartment in Cary. We're very excited about the apartment, it's really nice and will be closer to his work. We're very excited since its 2BR/2BA and has a lot more storage space than we have now! Here are some pictures from the model apartment.
I think it's going to be perfect for us. Now we've got to start thinking about decorating! Fun!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Welcome to our NEWLYWED BLOG! I'm very excited to start this blog. I began blogging while planning for my wedding and can't wait to blog about *normal* things now. I hope to use this blog as an all encompassing blog as we start this new adventure of being MARRIED! More to come later!
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