Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Balsamic Chicken Panini Sandwich with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes


Sometimes I make an attempt to copycat recipes from my favorite restaurants. They usually don't end up well. I hate to toot my own horn but this one turned out pretty good. There's a restaurant near us called The Blue Lemon, they serve "clean food with a twist." It's one of my favorite places to eat and I always get the same dish. The Balsamic Chicken sandwich with a side of fingerling potatoes. Tonight I decided to recreate the recipe off the top of my head. It doesn't taste exactly like The Blue Lemon's but it's super tasty. Here's the recipe, let me know what you think!


Balsamic Chicken Panini Sandwich w/ Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

chicken sandwich:
1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast- cut into bite sizes pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 medium onion cut into strips
1 red pepper cut into strips
2 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
slices of fontina cheese
whole wheat artisan bread
butter

balsamic ailoi
1 garlic clove minced
4 tbsp mayonaise
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
pinch salt

fingerling potatoes
1.5 lbs fingerling potatoes
1 tbsp salt + 1 tsp salt divided
1 sprig of fresh thyme minced
1 sprig of fresh rosemary minced
1 tbsp olive oil

1.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion, red pepper and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and saute until no longer pink. Turn down heat to medium low and add salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar. Cook until chicken and veggies start to brown and onions begin to carmelize. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. If you have a panini press, now would be the time to plug it in. Assemble the sandwiches, add a couple spoonfuls of chicken mixture to bread slice, spread aioli sauce on top then top with fontina cheese slices. Add top of bread and spread butter on top and bottom bread slices. Place in panini press until cheese is melted and bread is browned. Or you can place the panini in a skillet over medium heat and brown both sides and melt cheese. Press down frequently throughout cooking with a spatula.

2. Boil fingerling potatoes and tbsp of salt (preferably while chicken and veggie mixture is cooking)  in large saucepan until knife is easily inserted. Drain potatoes then cut in half. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat then add potatoes, 1 tsp salt, thyme and rosemary. Let sit so the potatoes brown then give a quick mix to let other sides brown. Once they start to char lightly remove from heat. Serve alongside chicken panini and enjoy!



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Our Trip to the Pacific Northwest

About 6 months ago Noah and I had a thought. "We should totally take a road trip to Seattle then drive down the coast to Portland." We aren't sure why we chose those places but it's just somewhere we've always wanted to visit. We aren't beach people, if we had our choice between Hawaii or Alaska, we'd choose Alaska hands down. We are mountainous, tree dwelling king of people. Oh and we love the rain. So now I guess it makes sense why we wanted to visit the rainiest of all rainy places. 

We loaded up the car on a warm Friday and hit the road for the PNW. I was worried, super worried. The longest drive Finn has been on was 4 hours, and that seemed like A LONG TIME. But he did so amazing! He was happy, he napped in his seat when he got tired and he kept busy playing with his beads and listening to Siri's navigation. 

DAY 1

Our first stop was in Yakima, Washington. We'd been driving for almost 9 hours at this point and we decided we'd bunk there for the night. It was dark so I can't really tell you what the town was like. The next morning we packed up and took off for Seattle. We made a pit stop in Snoqualmie to visit the falls, which were incredible! We then went to lunch in Issaquah. Issaquah holds a special place in my heart because my dad lived there as a kid, it was a cute town.




We made it to Seattle! The first item of business was the Ballard Locks. The locks are basically the divide between the salt water of the Puget Sound and the freshwater of the Lakes. It was cool to see the Salmon jumping up the ladders. We then went to Archie McPhee's which is a toy and novelty store, we dinked around in there for a while then headed downtown.



For the rest of the evening we bummed around the waterfront. We got Finn a corn dog, took a ride on The Great Wheel, and watched the boats come in and out.




DAY 2

On our second day we got up bright and early and hopped on a ferry to Bainbridge Island. We loved Bainbridge! We stopped at a little coffee shop for a drink and pastry while Finn took a snoozer in his stroller. Then we walked up and down the main street, in and out of shops. We hopped back in the car and drove to the next island, looped around and stopped in Bremerton. The highlight of Bremerton was that it had some naval ships you could tour. It was a Sunday so most of the shops were closed, we didn't stay long. We took the ferry back to Seattle, which was a beautiful ride.




Food was always on our minds during the trip so we jumped off the ferry and decided where our next meal would be. We decided on a little BBQ joint called Bitterroot BBQ that we read had good reviews. We loved this place, if you're in the Seattle area we definitely recommend it. They're pulled chicken was to die for and Finn's macaroni and cheese was the best I've ever had. This little restaurant was in a part of Seattle named Ballard. We instantly fell in love with Ballard, it was quaint with an old city vibe.




DAY 3

Up again bright and early and off to the Space Needle. I just have to say one thing about these touristy spots. You kind of have to do them just because, when in Rome, right? If I could go back I'd probably not go to the Space Needle, it was expensive and super packed. Also, heights are not my friend. After the Space Needle we went to Pike Place Market. I wish we would have went earlier in the morning to see more of the fish throwing business but we had fun walking around and looking at all the different shops, vendors and yum yum food. We grabbed some pastries from Piroshky Piroshky, a little Russian bakery in Pike Place. They had the most delicious savory and sweet pastries. I'd definitely recommend trying a few. After Pike Place we had to stop by the Post Alley gum wall. It was seriously gross and mind boggling but you just gotta do it.


We had decided at this point we were kind of tired of crowds and tourists so we looked up some parks to visit. We first went to Golden Gardens Park which is actually a beach. It was so beautiful and we had fun finishing our pastries and playing in the sand. Then we went to Kerry Park which is a quaint little park nestled in a neighborhood. The great thing about his park is the amazing view of the city! That night we met up with my sweet friend Dani who was my roommate in college, it was fun to see her and we ate at an awesome diner, Lost Lake Cafe.



That concluded our stay in Seattle, we absolutely loved this city. We got lucky and barely had any rain while we were there and the scenery is just beautiful. So quick recap, here are the things we loved seeing and places we ate at.

Seattle, must see attractions:
  • Ballard Locks
  • Archie McPhee's
  • Great Wheel
  • Waterfront
  • Ferry to Bainbridge Island (Bremerton was ok, but we liked Bainbridge best.)
  • Shopping in Ballard
  • Space Needle (eh, you just have to do it cause it's the Space Needle, am I right?)
  • Pike Place Market
  • Post Alley Gum Wall
  • Golden Gardens Park
  • Kerry Park
Seattle, places to eat:
  • Bitterroot BBQ
  • Piroshky Piroshky Russian Bakery
  • Daily Dozen Donuts
  • Lost Lake Cafe


DAY 4

The fourth day consisted of a lot of driving. Instead of heading straight south to Portland we decided to take the long way, driving around the peninsula along Highway 101. We are glad we did because it was a beautiful drive along the coast. We stopped in Port Angeles for lunch and a quick walk around to stretch our legs then it was off to Forks! Ok, I'm not like a die hard Twilight fan, but the 18 year old inner me was pretty stoked! Forks is a sleepy little town, nothing really like the book/movie but it did own up to it's reputation of overcast and rainy. Oh and we didn't stumble upon any vampires. Before we got settled in our hotel we wanted to stop by the Hoh National Rain Forest. I'd heard incredible things about this forest and it did not disappoint. It was insanely beautiful! Green and moss everywhere! I felt like I was in a fairy forest. Wildlife all over, this sweet little deer I named Ip, followed us around the whole time. Then as we came out of the forest we stumbled upon an elk, he was just chilling on the grass, we walked right up to him and he couldn't have cared less. This may have been one of our favorites parts of the trip, you know us, nature people. When we got back to Forks it was dark so we had dinner across the street from our motel (Forks Motel... so authentic). We attempted to watch Twilight that night, how legit would that have been? But the wifi wasn't working. Wah wah wah.











DAY 5

This was another long day of driving. We really wanted to stop in Astoria, Oregon. We've heard great things about this little town, plus a few movies have been filmed there. Kindergarten Cop and Goonies anyone? We had lunch at little restaurant called Baked Alaska, you can imagine why we chose this place (Alaska fanatics). Such yummy food, Finn had grilled salmon like an adult. We then walked around downtown and peeked our head in at all the shops. We then went to the Astoria Column. 260 stairs up... Noah held Finn. Our last stop in Astoria was the Goonies house. The house has residents so you can't go in or anything but just being there was good enough for me. Goonies never say die! Then it was back on the road. We made it to Portland that evening, had some pizza and hit the hay.




DAY 6

Portland! The city of breweries, beards and food trucks. First stop, Japanese Garden. It was really beautiful and we got some great ideas for landscaping our backyard. Next up, Voodoo Doughnuts. You can't not go to Voodoo when in Portland. They have the most bizarro doughnuts, some a bit scary. But all delicious. Next up we walked around downtown. I had to stop at the Ace Hotel, I'd seen pictures of the lobby and fell madly in love. Its rustic decor is charming. Then we took a ride on the Aerial Tram. It's a sky tram that takes you from the Waterfront up to Marquam Hill. Then we headed back to the hotel. This was the best hotel experience we've ever had. Every night they served soup and warm cookies. Talk about service! 




DAY 7

Our last day. This was the first day we weren't out of our hotel room by 9 am. We slept in, ate the delicious continental breakfast and then we were out the door to explore more of Portland. We had lunch at a yummy food truck that serves nothing but grilled cheese. But these aren't your average grilled cheese, they're fancy. And the best part is the eating area is an old remodeled bus. After lunch we hit up the local Goodwill, Goodwills are expensive in Portland unfortunately. Then we took Noah to get a barber cut at a cool shop called Bart's Barber Shop. For dinner we met up with my aunt and uncle who live near Portland. We ate at a yummy Latin American restaurant called Sabor Savadoreno. This was our last night in the Pacific Northwest. The next day we got up packed the car and headed east. We stayed the night in Boise and then drove the last 4 hours on Sunday. By the time we made it home we were beat and so grateful to be back.


Portland attractions:


  • Japanese Garden
  • Aerial Tram
  • Ace Hotel
Places to eat:

  • Voodoo Doughnuts
  • Grilled Cheese Grill
  • Twilight Pizza Bistro
  • Sabor Savadoreno

Our trip was seriously amazing. Finn was incredible the entire time, not one single meltdown. The kid was a trooper. We loved being in the Pacific Northwest. The rain, cool weather and lush trees are right up our alley and we enjoyed every place we visited. We're already thinking about our next family trip. Where to, where to?



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

An Evening at the State Fair



Fall is just around the corner, I can smell it. Fall is my fave so I'm totally cool with it. Before we give summer a big smooch and send it on it's way we spent an evening at the Utah State Fair. Fairs, I mean who doesn't love them? Carny rides and games, food that will give you the runs and salesmen that persuade you to buy mops you don't really need. Finn was brave and rode his first carny ride with dad, he was so cute going round and round. We got some delicious food, navajo tacos (what's more American than a navajo taco?), pulled pork sandwiches and deep fried taters. For dessert? A frothy nutella shake. Um yes! We tried our hand at a few carny games, I totally won a fish. I acted out the entire scene from My Girl when she drops her carny fish (I didn't really drop it, just reliving my favorite childhood movie). We named him Gill and we stopped by Walmart on the way home to buy him a home and some food. On the way out we got sucked into one of those tents that has all the weird crap you can buy. Last year we spent like an hour watching a cooking presentation, I was all ready to fork over hundreds of dollars to be the new owner of those incredible pots and pans. Luckily the husband was there to talk me down. This year the mop guy sucked us in, it was the chocolate sauce on the floor that did it. So we caved and bought the mops. I guess we need a new mop anyway, right?

It was a fun, spur of the moment night and luckily the rain held back until we left. Oh and did I mention the Beach Boys were performing? Fist bump!













Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Finn's Story


I have many posts about Finn and his updates but I thought it'd be nice to have his whole journey down in one place. So here is his story, more like our story.

Finn was born on a sunny Saturday morning in April of 2012. He was a healthy 8 pound baby with no problems and no complications. I'll never forget the first time I saw his squishy face, I just knew we were going to be best friends and that he was special. At 6 weeks old he started crying. A LOT. He cried everyday for many hours regardless of what we did for him. His pediatrician chalked it up to colic, whatever that really is.

When Finn was 3 months old we started to notice he wasn't progressing much. He couldn't hold his head up at this point, sitting up or on his belly. His eyes would cross often and he rarely smiled or looked at us. And all at once the insanity began. His pediatrician was just as concerned as we were so she sent us to multiple specialists and set up many tests. Over the course of 4 or 5 months we went to a neurologist, muscular neurologist, two geneticists, two eye doctors, eye test specialist and many physical therapists. We have done an MRI, multiple EEGs which tests epileptic activity, a spinal tap, muscle biopsy, hundreds of blood tests to check for syndromes and genetic conditions and an eye test. Every test came back normal except for his EEG which came back abnormal but inconclusive. We noticed Finn making strange startling movements. We came to the conclusion that Finn was having some kind of seizure. The doctors couldn't confirm this but we felt this was the root of all his issues.

The first year of Finn's life were hard on us. We were at some kind of appointment at least 3 times a week. Along with his incessant crying, most days we just barely got by. We were afraid, we didn't know what was wrong with our baby. We didn't know if his life was in jeopardy or if he'd ever be able to walk, talk or see. As time has gone on Finn's crying spells have stopped for the most part, he is progressing at a slow rate, but hey progress is progress. He can now hold his head upright, sit upright with assistance, roll from back to tummy, has much better use of his hands and legs, babbles and makes lots of sounds and he seems more aware of his surroundings and the people around him. We are so grateful for these little milestones he's hit recently. With the help of his physical, occupational and visual therapists, Finn is making great improvements.

We took a nice long break from testing and specialists but we are now jumping back on the test train. We've noticed Finn making strange movements, especially at night when he's trying to fall asleep. Also, now that he is two his doctor would like another MRI done of his brain because it is more mature and would be able to tell us more now that he's older. He is currently having a 72 hour in home EEG which monitors brain waves and any potential seizure activity. This coming Friday Finn will be getting the MRI. He will also be getting some blood work done to test for some other genetic syndromes as well as a hip x-ray to make sure his hip sockets are setting correctly. Testing is hard and can be taxing on us emotionally and physically but we are hoping to get some answers and make sure our Finny is doing alright. And if we don't get answers then that's ok too. Finn will be Finn and we love him the way he is. I tell him all the time he's a magical guy. My little Magic Finn. He brings so much joy to our lives and the lives of others around him. He has a very special spirit about him as all special needs people do.

We are so grateful for the love and support of those around us and those far away who have prayed for and thought of Finn. Prayer is powerful stuff and God's plan is perfect. I thank Him everyday for giving me this sweet boy. I truly NEED him, Finn is my rock.

Love you little man, thanks for being you.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 



 









Sunday, August 3, 2014

The 24th at the Cabin

The 24th of July is a big holiday here in Utah. It's the celebration of the settling of the Salt Lake Valley, we take it very seriously with lots of parades, food and fireworks. So basically just another Independence Day. This year we celebrated at our cabin in Oakley, we spent 4 days playing around in the water, the boys fished and we soaked up the mountain air. Kamas is a small town near Oakley, we went to their annual parade on the 24th. I love going to small towns, everyone knows each other and life just seems to be more simple. We tooted around Smith & Moorhouse, a small but beautiful reservoir, ate lots of good food (including the best gas station donuts you've ever tasted), took Finn on his first hike and played in the river behind the cabin. It was so nice to get away from the city to relax and spend time with family.