Tuesday, August 23, 2016

MLS All-Star Game 2016


So one of the perks of being a season ticket holder of the San Jose Earthquakes is getting first access to tickets at Avaya Stadium where the Earthquakes play.  It just so happened that the MLS All-Star game happened to be taking place in San Jose in our first year being ticket holders. I love checking out these kinds of things so naturally I had to snatch up the tickets as soon as they were available.  I honestly was never familiar with how all star week worked in Major League Soccer, but it is interesting to compare it to the NBA, NFL and NHL; which most sports fans are familiar with. 


The MLS all star week and game are an entirely a different concept from the other major American sports leagues.  In the more popular American sports leagues, all stars are chosen either based on performance or fan popularity and play other all stars from the same league.  The teams are usually based on conference or geography(or both).  The MLS takes a different approach.  They do choose a team which is based upon performance and fan popularity.  However, they fill a single MLS team and take on a top team from a top international league, which is in stark contrast to what was aforementioned.  In this case the MLS all stars took on Arsenal from the Premier League.


I have to admit it was a pretty cool concept.  For starters, it gives American soccer fans the opportunity to see a more "popular" club in the United States in Arsenal, but it also provides the MLS the opportunity to validate itself against more prestigious soccer leagues.  From what I've been told, the MLS players actually "try" (I use try loosely because it is still an all star game so I'm sure it's not their 100%) to help validate their league and themselves also which makes it cool in that sense.  It was also nice to see the who's who in the MLS as Casey and I are somewhat new to the MLS scene. All in all it was a really fun time with great soccer, cool pre and post game activities, and the opportunity to see a premier league team live in person at our home stadium.  Unfortunately the MLS lost(shockingly, it was a rare loss for the MLS all star team to lose to an European team), but it was still a great time!






Thursday, August 18, 2016

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

Do you ever have those days where you wake up and realize your day is going to be so busy that you already know you won't want to cook dinner? Well, we did the other day. We knew we were going to be gone all day exploring some new to us places in San Francisco that we knew we didn't really want to come home and cook. Our solution? This recipe right here. While Kev cooked the quinoa, I got everything else ready in a big bowl and we had it ready in no time. After everything was mixed, we just put it in the pan (omitting the cheese on top) with some foil and stored in the refrigerator until we were ready to cook. Once we were ready to cook, we put it in without the cheese for about 5 minutes since we were starting from a colder state than it would normally be in if you did it from beginning to end in one shot. It ended up turning out amazing! The only thing I would change (which is my personal preference, but feel free to try) is subtracting the cilantro (yuck) and doubling the green chilies (yum). It is such an easy, healthy take on Mexican food that you can't not try it! Enjoy!







Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

Ingredients
1 cup quinoa
1 (10-ounce) can mild enchilada sauce
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
1/2 cup corn kernels, frozen, canned or roasted
1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (I opted out)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

Optional
1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
1 Roma tomato, diced

In a large saucepan of 2 cups water, cook quinoa according to package instructions; set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil an 8x8 or 2 quart baking dish or coat with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, combine quinoa, enchilada sauce, green chiles, corn, black beans, cilantro, cumin and chili powder; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in 1/2 cup cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.

Spread quinoa mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with remaining cheeses. Place into oven and bake until bubbly and cheeses have melted, about 15 minutes.

Serve immediately, garnished with avocado and tomato, if desired.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Bad Boyz of BBQ


If you saw last weeks Gilroy Garlic Festival post, you may remember me briefly mentioning the Bad Boyz of BBQ. Now when I tell you this group is amazing at what they do, it is a huge understatement! Not only is every bit of food they produce amazing, but they are so nice and just fun to be around. You can tell they really enjoy what they do. Really the only thing I dislike is they are Raider Fans (I kid, sorta, but I do love my Colts). Actually, our first encounter with the Bad Boyz was at a Raider tailgate (we weren't playing them that day) and everyone was so amazing, even knowing we were Colts fans. 


Upon talking to other fellow tailgaters, we found that many people travel from literally all over the world and have to stop by the Bad Boyz tailgate area. It was quite the experience that you must go to if you ever attend a Raiders game!  Kevin even wants to go to more than just when the Colts play even just to eat.  It's the best tailgate we've experienced.  You can BYOB and enjoy the seemingly endless grilled options and sides.  They will even occasionally have television trucks set up so you don't have to miss out on the other games.  With great food, great people, tailgate atmosphere, and at a lower price point than the local sports bars, Bad Boyz of Barbeque is the.....pit....barbeque pit that is.


Ok, I feel like I went off the rails with what I was supposed to talk about (Bad Boyz at the Garlic Festival) lol. You might recall me stating how massive the Gilroy Garlic Festival was. Everywhere we looked there was another nook that had tent after tent (or booth) that we went and explored. The last area we found happened to be the bbq competition area (not a bad area to wander to if I do say so myself). Now I had remembered a friend of ours (a Bad Girl in the bbq world) saying they were going to be there, but I couldn't remember the details, so imagine my surprise when we got to the Garli-Que, People's Choice Challenge and they (her and the Bad Boyz) were standing right there with a crowd of people around them. Which, as previously stated about their tailgates, is not a surprise. 


Everything we have ever had from the Bad Boyz has been simply amazing. There are no amount of descriptive words I can use to describe the pure deliciousness that you experience. The meat had such an amazing smokey flavor and, yes Grandma, they finally got me to eat coleslaw! If you can't make it to a tailgate, check out their website, they do parties and events too! And for those who can't make it our West, which honestly, why wouldn't you, look for them on the Food Network. They have been featured on a few shows, including Chopped. Until then, I guess we will have to keep posting our amazing food pics until you get out here and try it yourself!


Friday, August 12, 2016

Buffalo Chicken Alfredo



Buffalo Chicken Alfredo, as the name suggests, consists of buffalo sauce, chicken...and you guessed it...alfredo.  Each component individually  is delicious but how does it stack up when combined?  Well I'm here to tell you that it is indeed....delicious.  I personally thought that the cheese-spice balance was perfect, although Casey thought it was a tad spicy(this is Kevin writing btw).  For this recipe we used original Frank's Red Hot sauce which is one of my favorites.  If you don't like as much heat you could try buying Frank's wing sauce which isn't as spicy, or make your own buffalo wing sauce by melting in some butter with original Frank's(fun fact: this is how the original buffalo sauce was made).  We used smaller chicken tender cutlets to get a higher breading to chicken ratio which worked out very nicely with the pasta.  This was a pretty easy recipe to make, and well worth the investment of time.  Enjoy!










Buffalo Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

Ingredients
1 lb fettuccine pasta
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 lb chicken tenders
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons milk
1 ½ cup Italian style bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup half and half
3 oz Mascarpone cheese
½ cup buffalo wing sauce
½ cup Parmesan cheese
salt, pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, combine egg and milk in a bowl. Add breadcrumbs to a separate bowl.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Dredge chicken in egg mixture, followed by bread crumbs. Cook in skillet until evenly browned, about 6-8 minute per side, depending on the thickness of your chicken. Set chicken aside and keep warm.

Melt butter in the same skillet, slowly pour in half and half and stir in mascarpone cheese until it is fully incorporated. Whisk in Parmesan cheese and buffalo wing sauce. Let sauce cook for at least 1 minute to thicken.

When pasta is ready, drain and combine with buffalo sauce. Serve with chicken tenders.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Gilroy Garlic Festival 2016




Last week we attended a vampire's worst nightmare, the Gilroy Garlic Festival! Seeing as we literally just celebrated our 1st year anniversary of being Californians, it was our first time attending, but the festival marked its 38th year of pure garlic mayhem. Being first timers, we had no idea what to expect, but our first impressions initially were skeptical at the very least. We had to park in a huge lot and then be taken by bus to the actual festival, then for the two of us (and parking) it came to $50 admittance. Then, we started walking, and at first, we looked at each other and thought, this definitely  was not worth the money! However, first appearances were extremely deceiving.    


As we kept walking (and walking, and walking), we realized how ginormous this festival actually was. Every direction you went there were more and more different things going on. From booth after booth of food, featuring...duh...garlic; to different vendors and shows, the possibilities for all ages were really endless. Our day started off with a blended mimosa. Now don't let the 'blended' part throw you for a loop (I sure did), it was just crushed ice.  However, apparently the earlier in the day you get one, the better the pour (wink, wink). Now we were off to conquer this garlic world!



Now, anyone that knows my hubby, knows that he just can't lay off the sauce.........the dipping kind that is. We always end up with the most random assortment of sauces in our house that he picks up from different places. So when we passed the Torchbearer Sauces booth, I knew we were going to have to stop. Good thing I still had that delicious mimosa! Kevin tried sauce after sauce and loved them all! We actually made a HUGE mistake and didn't purchase any right then and there. Not wanting to carry stuff around all day, we said we would come back on our way out and completely forgot (the crowds were getting massive at that point). Luckily, not only can you of course purchase online, but you can also look where they are sold close to you!  Kevin's favorites were Oh My Garlic and Chipotle Wing Sauce but like I said he liked most of them.







Next up was some actual grub. First we headed to Gourmet Alley (not without a few smooches first so we wouldn't subject the other to our heavy garlic breath) pick up some shrimp scampi with a piece of............garlic bread. I told you, vampire's worst nightmare here. I don't really know how it could be anything less, but it was pretty scrumptious. Now before you start criticizing, this isn't the only thing we ate, though it is the only picture.....for now. The rest of our eating adventures took us to a whole other area (this place really did go on and on) where there were some of the best BBQ places competing against each other for the people's choice Garli-Que challenge. Our favorite competition team, The Bad Boyz of BBQ, were there so we of course had to sample theirs, but felt they deserved their own post instead of a little snippet here (start salivating now, but maybe stop because that's just weird if you keep salivating until I get it posted). 


Needless to say, the whole festival was fire (get it, picture below, lol). There were things to do for everyone, no matter your age. A whole kiddie land with rides and face painting, live cooking demos and cook-offs, multiple areas with every type of vendor you could think of, plus all the food and wine/beer. It really was worth it, just get there early if you want to avoid the massive crowds (plus things can sell out). See you next July Gilroy Garlic Festival!









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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

de Young Museum-Oscar de la Renta The Retrospective

"What I try to do in my design is to make a woman dream."


A few weeks ago my main man and I headed to the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park for the Oscar de la Renta exhibit. We had yet to explore the de Young Museum, so what better excuse than the de la Renta retrospective. Needless to say, I was like a kid in a candy store. I could barely contain my excitement just walking into the museum.  You would think I was getting ready to meet the Queen of England (on my mind since we are going to London soon....yay!) who was gifting me my own Oscar de la Renta gown! I've always loved fashion and paid attention to designers, but always seemed to be drawn to Oscar de la Renta because of the femininity and detail of mainly his ballgowns.


So, speaking of getting "gifted" a dress, I'll take the one on the left hand side above......thank you! Dream big right! Honestly though, these dresses and gowns were absolutely beautiful in person. The subpar iPhone photos just don't do them any justice. The intricate beadwork and fabrics used alone were nothing short of amazing! Over the decades, yes you read that right, decades, de la Renta drew inspiration from everything (travel: Asia, Spain, etc. to gardens and everything in between) which really can be seen in the details of his work, which I was blown away by seeing in person. I literally don't remember speaking once inside the exhibit.  


Oscar de la Renta has never had a shortage of beautiful and prestigious women lined up to don his wears. He's dressed everyone from models (obviously, can you say runway shows and pictorials in little magazines such as Vogue) to first ladies and many celebrities and actresses, etc. In fact, the gowns below are just a tiny representation of those worn by celebrities which you may or may not recognize. The dress pictured in the bottom left was worn by none other than Adele for Vogue in 2012 with a fierce red lip of course. Recognize the dress on the bottom right? It is the dress worn by Sarah Jessica Parker to the 2014 Met Gala complete with de la Renta's signature, apparently requested by her! The second dress in that picture, though it is hard to see, was worn by Taylor Swift also at the 2014 Met Gala.


If you aren't big into fashion, it may not be the exhibit for you, but don't write it off just because of that. Anyone that appreciates art and the history behind these garments may still find enjoyment checking them out.  


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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Buffalo Chicken Melts




This past weekend Kevin and I decided to make Buffalo Chicken Melts.  We had made these before and really liked them so we thought we would share.  This is a healthy and very flavorful recipe from the Skinnytaste Cookbook.  It is a gluten free recipe (yes, even the bread) that the anti-anti gluten people in your life will even enjoy! Just ask Kev, he loves them! We have experimented with both the cheese (sliced pepper jack vs. shredded) and the chicken (the slow cooker version below and rotisserie) and every way has turned out amazing! If pepper jack is too spicy, try a cheddar or Monterey jack cheese. And if you're pressed on time, just use the rotisserie, it will be fast and still healthy and full of flavor! Kevin and I did this on our second time making this and it was excellent.  Enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Melts

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups (7 ounces) convenient slow-cooker shredded chicken (recipe below) or breast meat from a store bought rotisserie chicken
1/4 cup carrots, finely chopped
1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
1 tablespoon red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon gluten free mayonnaise
2 1/2 tablespoons Frank's RedHot sauce
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
4 slices multigrain bread, lightly toasted (I used Udi's whole grain bread)
8 thin slices tomato (we did 4, 1 on each)
4 slices pepper jack cheese

Preheat the broiler. 

In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, carrots, celery, red onion, mayo, hot sauce, and cayenne (if using). 

Arrange the toast on a baking sheet and put 2 slices of tomato on each (see ingredient list). Divide the chicken salad evenly among the slices and top with 1 slice of cheese. Broil until the cheese is golden and bubbling, about 2 minutes. 


Convenient Slow-Cooker Shredded Chicken

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 1/2 pounds)
3 cups chicken broth or water
1 onion, quartered (optional *I used)
1 celery stalk (optional *I used)
1 sprig fresh parsley (optional * I did not use)

In a slow cooker, combine the chicken, just enough broth or water to cover, and any remaining ingredients you're using. Cover and cook on high 4 hours. 

Remove the chicken and shred it with two forks. Discard the remaining liquid and vegetables. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.