Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Great Food: The Final Episode

As 2008 draws to a close so too does our Great Food Fast adventures.....While we haven't cooked our way through the entire book, it is time to give good old Martha a rest and try something new.

Our 'final' meal selection was the Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps and they did NOT disappoint. Nate and I knew very quickly that this would soon become a staple in the Hanson household.

All you do is stirfry some chicken with some soy sauce, ginger, garlic and a few other ingrediants and then add in some onion and peppars. Then you put it on a Boston or Butter lettuce leaf and voila! Delicious, healthy, filling dinner.

Nate and I will be starting in on a new cookbook in 2009 so stay tuned.......It's a good one! And one this is for sure...the photography should continue to improve. :)
**P.S. More to come on Christmas 08**

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas to All

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

Please enjoy our 'digital blog card' (that is...we didn't do Christmas cards this year so this is all your getting!)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Weather Outside Was Frightful....

So I know a lot of Christmas songs...and I am pretty sure there isn't a merry Christmas ditty that speaks of weather cancelling a party you have been excitedly planning for a month.

And if there were a Christmas song about this subject it would have to be sure to include a line about "have fun eating leftover party food (i.e. horrible for you) for the next week"...

Yes, our fabulous 1950's retro holiday cocktail party was cancelled. In homage to the party that never was, Nate and I wore our glasses all night to make ourselves feel better while eating Christmas cookies, deviled eggs and potato chips with french onion dip.

Here we are with our sad faces:

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tag Part Deux

I have been tagged again by Emily! Just in time for some Friday procrastination.

This time the rules are as follows:

Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog... some random, some weird. Tag 7 friends at the end of your post.

So here goes...

1) One time while I was walking home from elementary school I found a dead opossum that had a rope tied around its neck. I decided it would be a great idea to drag it the remainder of the way home and play a 'prank' on my Dad. Needless to say it worked (my Dad hates opossums) and definitely made for a good story...albeit paints me as a freaky child. I am ok with it and hey..the rules state weird stories.

2) I do a lot of things with my feet. They are constantly moving, and in some cases helping me mutli-task. Just ask Nate. If I see a sock that is out of reach, I'll let my little monkey toes to the grabbing for me.

3) When I am alone in my car, I sing. I sing a lot, I sing loud, and I pretend that I am really good at it.

4) I have an irrational fear of getting hit in the face with a hockey puck. In fact I really find hockey extremely unenjoyable for this reason. Last year we went to a professional Wild game and were way up in the 2nd tier and I still ducked everytime I heard a slapshot.

5) When I was a kid, I had some teeth issues (read: headgear and braces). For some ridiculous reason I was adament about wearing that stupid headgear for exactly as long as the Dentist told me to (such a rule follower). This lead to pictures of me with headgear at a Christmas concert, a football game, and more. How did I get like this?

6) I have 'witch powers.' No, you don't need to burn me at the stake, but just weird things. I can't explain it, but it is true. Nate will totally vouch for me and can probably supply some great examples.

7) I am fairly superstitious about weird things. For example, I will never call in sick to work because I firmly believe that I will then get sick. Maybe this makes me more a believer of karma than superstition. Hmmm....

Alright those are my random and weird 7 things.

Now who to tag: Tag Uncle Todd, Debra, Kara, Rachel Rosen, Amy J, Meghan and Emily Ekern.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

2nd Annual Festivus Cookie Decorating

Last night marked the 2nd Annual Festivus Cookie Decorating event...and it did not disappoint.

After spending 1 hr and 10 minutes in my car to go 4 miles because people in MN don't know how to drive, I was so happy that we had friends coming over to eat, drink and laugh with. And Nate was happy because we got a pizza from Bunny's...seriously he is obsessed with that place.

ANYWAY...Lindsay, Rachel and Debra arrived and the combining of Christmas with our favorite Jewish friends commenced.

It got serious right away this year. Last year we eased into the detail work but this year it was straight for the toothpicks to get our masterpeices created.

There was some serious diappointment that Nate and I had lost the toy soldier cut-out so we will be on the look out for a new one.

Now for those of you who have been reading along with us for the last year, you may remember Nate's first attempt at cookie decorating. He must have been doing some closet decorating practice the last year because he had some great improvements.

The favorite of his was the tree..you can't really see the details but picture a 'popcorn chain' made of white frosting dots. You can also see his attempt at a snowman..maybe not his best work given the belly button he was insistent on giving him...

And the obligatory senior picture pose in front of the Christmas Tree....

I was given strict instructions to find white sugar crystals and a toy soldier cutter for next year, so stay tuned for year 3!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

White Christmas

Saturday was my December secret date night and that meant a classic Christmas show and fabulous dinner.

We checked out Il Vesco Vino in St. Paul and both had some great pasta and delicious apple bread pudding.

It was an absolutely beautiful night (+40 degrees) and Nate and I enjoyed walking around St. Paul for a little bit before the show.

The show itself was great. I have to admit that it is one of those shows that everyone should go to once, but beyond that I am not sure I would pay to go back. The songs were festive, the dancing was impressive and the costumes were fabulous. It defintely got me excited for the upcoming 50's cocktail party!

Best part of the night--the end of the show when they made it snow not only just on stage, but in the crowd too!

It was the perfect lead in to a very snowy Sunday.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A swift kick....

After much procrastination, some swearing, some pleading, some studying, a microsoft word mishap, and some good honest BS...I am done with my Industry and Competitive Analysis Essay Final.

Yup...all 15 pages of it.

ALLELUIA! Now the real holiday celebration can begin.

I'm pretty sure the last question didn't even make sense, and I can say that with some confidence because I'm pretty sure I didn't even know what the question was asking. But I threw in a bunch of buzz words from the text and bolded them so the Professor could see I know how to use jargon.

That's right...and I am not afraid to admit it. But I got it done, and I turned it in and didn't look back.

Then I made cookies. Seems like a logical progression right?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Start Spreading the News Part 2

I was going to wait to blog until tomorrow but after accidentally deleting an ENTIRE FREAKING COMPLETED essay question for my final without saving it, I decided to take a mental break and focus on happier times...namely last weekend.

So..there was ice skating, show tunes, good food and more.. What is the more you ask?

First, Grand Central Station (i.e. headquarters for Saturday). We initially checked out GCS for this light show that was there for the holiday season. After seeing it the first time it was quickly determined we must come back at night because it would be EVEN better. But we had a quick bite to eat. We did end up coming back to see round 2 of the light show (and it was better in the dark) and a late afternoon latte and cookie break. We even considered goign back there on Sunday. Moral of the story: We heart GCS.

We were very into the "logo'd" pictures...don't ask.

We also checked out the New York Public Library. I was so happy to finally go inside. The building is absolutely amazing. We weren't allowed to take any pictures but Katie quick snapped this one of us by the Christmas Tree inside.

We also did the obligatory Rockefellar Center tree at night. It was kind of a fly-by as time got away from us at cocktail hour and we were on our way to the show. BUT, we didn't go so fast that I didn't know all the vendors selling cotton candy. Seriously...I love that fluffy stuff. Anyway, it was fabulous and very merry AND bright. Check out all those lights.

Which brings me to the last but certainly not least moment of the trip. I have to warn you that the three of us contemplated taking a pact not to tell ANYONE about this amazing event for fear of it becoming a raging tourist attraction. But, I will share here and then never speak of it again.

This is definitely one of my top 5 Christmas moments of all time....and I love Christmas. Alright...

We had originally planned to go to this church concert but at the last second it got cancelled. So, we decided to just start googling all sorts of different churches in the area. We came across The Brick Church on Park Avenue, and found out they did caroling and a tree lighting. AND it came in at our price...free.

So we headed out Sunday night in the freezing cold and wind, and showed up just in time to be surrounded by "Fur and Chanel" (as Summer pointed out), a children's choir, a brass quartet and four blocks of Park Avenue blocked off by the NYPD.

The Pastor came out and said a few touching words and the merriment began. THIRTEEN Christmas carols were belted out on the cold night. We were flanked by a young family with three little girls on one side and a group of elderly couples behind us. From Hark the Herald Angels Sing, to Silent Night to Deck the Halls each song swelled up within the group. The Christmas Spirit was alive and in full force at that moment.

And then...the Pastor told everyone that the first Christmas they did this was during WWII and each year Taps is played to honor those who have fallen and those who are currently serving. The taps player was phenomenal, and after he was finished the pastor exclaimed: LET THERE BE LIGHT!" and the trees on Park Avenue lit up the night.

Not to sound cheesy but it was seriously magical (can't you see it on our faces?). And for that reason, the three of us are already planning our trip next year to coincide with the date of the Brick Church Tree Lighting and Caroling.

Now...all of you have to swear not to tell anyone. Cross your heart.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Start Spreading the News Part 1

I am still humming a mix of "New York, New York", Christmas Carols, and Mary Poppins after one amazing weekend in NYC with Summer and Katie. This idea was born while we were cheering on the Packers, and less than one month later we were on a plane headed out to NYC to do "Christmas in New York."

And Christmas in New York we did. From window displays to ice skating to christmas trees and wreaths to caroling and pretty much everything in between we did it all. So much so that it is necessary to split into two blog posts (and partly because I can really only procrastinate my final for so long).

So..the first day we got there we strolled along SoHo, The Village, and other locales popping into fun shops, getting some delicious treats (Rice to Riches, PinkBerry, and Lombardi's pizza) and planning the rest of our trip.

The Christmas festivities truly began when we couldn't make up our mind on where to go for dinner, and decided to base our decision on the place in Little Italy that had the best Christmas decorations outside. Here was the winner (and the food was delicious):

Saturday took us to mid-town bright and early for a 'work assignment.' We took our job very seriously and acted like total marketing dorks..but it was very fun. P&G has a pop-up store for the holidays that allows consumers to interact with their products and learn about them on a deeper level. Here we are "doing laundry"...I warned you we were dorks.

After our assignment we checked out all of the fabulous window displays. For the record-Bergdorf Goodman was hands down the winner. We waited in line for Mary Poppins tickets in the new fancy schmancy TKTS line.

Yes, we went to Mary Poppins. And it was GREAT! So good. You can tell the ball of energy we were from this picture below.

After the show we were high-stepping and kicking-our way down Avenue of the America's and came across the ice-skating rink in Bryant Park. Since we were 'scheduled' to skate the next day in Cental park we decided to practice a little. Here is Summer and I with the Empire State Building in the background.

Ironically, one of the practice pictures we took randomly came true the next day on actual skates.

Ice Skating was INCREDIBLE. It was one of those things that you see in the movies and I just felt like a little kid filled with CHristmas joy while we were on the ice. The little kid part faded the next day when my knee ached from my digger. But on the bright side I still have all my teeth, and I don't have a cleft lip from my ice skate.

After skating we went for a short walk through Central Park, but a high windchill encouraged us to go find some hot cocoa. It was a perfect afternoon.
Also of note, the best candy store in the entire world. Dylans. YUM. LIterally they have every single kind of candy imaginable. I didn't buy a single thing. I think it was the single hardest test of my will power ever. But I am only 3 days away from my goal of no candy for a third of a year!! Yippee!!

Alright, well that recaps about half. of the trip. Let me tell you that the BEST moment is yet to come. It tops candy, and shopping and ice skating! Stay tuned.

Monday, December 8, 2008

In 3...2....1

That is about how long it will take to get the FULL update on the best way to kick-off the Holiday's: NYC with the girls!

We just got back today and

a) I am tired (tried to get on Regis in Kelly with no luck)
b) my house is a total disaster, and my laundry pile is starting to become its own entity
c) I need to get all of my pictures uploaded
d) and Nate leaves for Atlanta tomorrow until Friday.

So needless to say, some re-prioritization had to happen and blogging fell to the bottom. But I promise there is much more to come.

But just to tide you over...here is the classic photo...Roc Center Christmas Tree!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Christmas Fun Begins!

Nate and I went to get our tree on Sunday! This is our first non-Vernon County tree so we were pretty bummed about that, and definitely had some high standards.
We headed out to Long Lake..or somewhere seemingly far away. I was still feeling not great at all as we undertook this adventure, but time is wasting away and we needed to get a tree before they were all picked over. Needless to say I was all about a very quick decision.

After gasping at the pre-cut prices of $110. (seriously Dad...not even kidding)..we grabbed a saw and headed out into the tree fields, for a much more reasonably (Although not vernon county beating) price.
We wanted a Frasier, and thought this one was really nice. Now that it is in the house, it has some seriously wonky sides to it, but I am trying to tell myself it just has 'character'.

Nate was INSISTENT upon me carrying the tree for a picture. Considering I hadn't really eaten anything solid in 2 days, I was less than enthused....think it shows here...

And Nate had this weird thing about me capturing the perfect picture of him taking a step..I can only assume to make it look like he is walking..But I am still perplexed as I don't know anyone who walks like that unless they are doing a marching band routine or something. Who knows...I only married the guy! :)

Next up on Christmas Fun: Trip with my friends to NYC to see the holiday window displays, go ice skating, eat good food and more!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Notes on a Sidebar

I've seen a few comments come through on a few sidebar items, so I thought I would take this moment (while I am in class getting a fine education) to update you on a few of these:

First: Yes, I am reading the Twilight series. I got 'roped' into it because a few of my friends were reading it, and going to the movie. So i had to quick read the 1st one in time to see the movie. So Jessica--yes..I am and did see the movie. AND it was bad. I think it was really bad for me because I literally read the book all day and went right to the movie. Plus, I am always in the camp of the book being better than the movie.

But, it clearly didn't scare me away as I am on book 2.

Second: Let me steer you loyal blog readers (literally) away from a few books that I have read recently and did not care for enough to recommend. The Family Diamond--huge stinker. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for that kind of book...but I didn't even finish it...and that goes against my reading nature. The Tender Bar...alright Debra don't get mad...this book wasn't bad, but it wan't mind blowing good..it was just ok. I wouldn't recommend it like I would Loving Frank or Molokai'i...it just seemed overdone and wornout to me...must have been my mood because lots of my bookclub friends love it.

Third: When you are what I am labeling "Horizantally sick" (def: unable to sit in a vertical position for more than 2 minutes for fear of passing out or vomiting) all there really is to do is watch movies...so that is why this column exploded.

Now for Nate's sake let me be clear he did not watch Sister of the Traveling Pants...that was for Mom and I.

And to be honest..I only saw about 10 minutes of Get Smart before I passed out on the couch for my 3rd nap of the day..but Nate said it was good...

Anyway, I am feeling better today, and am sure to be back on track for NYC on Friday!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008


As I write this, I only wish I was coming off of the yearly "turkey hangover"...but alas..not only am I not suffering from a turkey hangover, or any food for that matter....I am sick. Fever-y, vomit-y, achey sick.

I must admit I am feeling better today than yesterday by about 10 fold..which is why I decided to quick break out the blog this morning in case I am just on a high from 10 hours of sleep.

My Mom came up to the Cities to celebrate Thanksgiving. Since it was just the 3 of us we decided to do a Roast instead of a Turkey, and it was very good. We had some sweet potatoes, lefse, cranberries, salad and pumpkin pie. Yum!

We walked the Turkey Trot 5K that morning, and met up the with Schuster clan for a little while.

Then we went on a new adventure...shopping at 10PM on Thanksgiving night at the outlet mall. Fast Forward to 2AM when we were crawling into bed, with some great purchases under our belt and dreams of more deals to come Friday morning.

Needless to say we weren't busting down doors at 5AM Friday morning, but we still put in a full day of shopping...especially since was starting to feel 'off'.

The progression of my 48 hour (?--heres hoping) bug cut the weekend short, and Mom headed back home Saturday.

P.S. I sucked with my camera this weekend...if I woudl have had it you would have seen the following:

1) Picture of us walking it out on the Turkey Day 5K
2) Picture of Mom and I at 2AM with all of our shopping bags, and a picture of the ridiculous traffic backed up on the freeway at 2AM trying to get INTO the mall.
3) Me on the couch sick as a dog

Monday, November 24, 2008

A 6-Pack Thanksgiving

Saturday night was the first Thanksgiving in the Hanson household. We hosted the 6-pack which always proves to be a fabulous time. It was really fun to get to use lots of stuff that we haven't used yet since getting married. I even tried my hand at some fancy napkin folding.

The theme of the night was Thanksgiving with a twist. So basically we tried to make the typical food but with a little something special to it. For us that meant doing a Turduckin....a Chicken in a Duck in a Turkey. I was adamently opposed to this, but with some pleading from Nate and support from Summer the Turduckin was a go. Here was the pre-shot and post shot of the wonderful bird(s).

And the proud chef, taking the first step to a interesting carving process.

We definitely didn't go hungry as each couple brought some fabulous side dishes: from corn souffle, to a yummy goat cheese salad, mashed potatoes, garlic green beans and more..there was food galore.

Poor Ryan had just had eye surgery so he was in pain, and sporting some killer shades all night long..but he was a great sport.
Dessert was incredible...Summer brought these crazy sinful chocolate dipped pecan-shortbread bars...seriously my mouth is watering just thinking about it. I tried out a pumpkin cheesecake, but it paled in comparison to the pecan heaven.

It was fun to do some pre-celebrating with friends to get into the Holiday spirit.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mojito Madness

Friday night all of the girls that work in Big G went out for a 'tour de mojitos' if you will. We had an original plan all mapped out based on some review in a local magazine, but then practicality took hold, and we made our path based on the fact that it is freezing cold, and wanted to minimize the time outdoors.

So first stop was Palomino. I have to admit, I was kind of hating on this choice because it seems so...generic. But...they by far had the best mojito of the night. I believe this was a cranberry pomegranate mojito..or something long those lines. I sucked 2 down in no time...bad news.

Then we went to one of my all-time favorite spots..Solera. I have to say I was extremely disappointed with the mojito here. It had huge potential as it's flavor was ginger-peach...but the bartendar messed it up royally..

Final stop was supposed to be the new tequila bar Barrio, but there was a 2 hour wait and we just weren't having it. So we went to the Newsroom...which is DEFINITELY not known for its Mojitos...and it was apparent.

But we still had fun. Good girl bonding time after a long few months of plans at work.

I was slightly regretting the drinks at midnight when we were at Byerlys trying to figure out what Turkey/Chicken/Duck to buy for the Turduckin that Nate is making...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Great Food: Episode 20

Funny that our 20th episode of Great Food Fast was marred by the flooding of our basement.

Whether it was perserverance or pure frugality of already purchasing the ingredients for our recipe...we went ahead and made our dinner anyway.
This is slightly delayed as we actually made this Wednesday night, but I was jamming out a paper and had class last night, so IWII (it is what it is...common phrase in the Hanson household).

SO...(and Debra I know this will be painful for you since this was your meal)...we made:

Orchiette with Roasted Peppars and Sweet Italian Sausage. We also made a side dish of Roasted Fennel.

The pasta was really good. We couldn't find any GD Orchiette to save our soul...Cub, Byerly's, Trader Joe's, Target...nada. So we used mini ravioli's that had cheese in them...which turned out to be a delicious choice.

Next time, my vote is for smaller chunks of sausage. I get grossed out by huge chunks of hamburger unless it is in patty form. I know...I'm weird.

Reheating verdict: Excellent. Nate said that it was absolutely delicious for lunch. This has become a more critical success factor of our meals as we both pack our lunch everyday and I'm packing dinner 2 nights a week for class.
Onto the Roasted Fennel..........yuck.........enough said. Felt pretty good about not having company over to taste that crap. Another bright side of the flood..Hmm....

Also...wanted to thank Nate for making this ENTIRE meal by himself while I started my paper. I'm so lucky to have such a great hubby.