Saturday, March 31, 2012

Taste of Orange Blossom {Our LAST OBJ date night!}

I kind of can't believe it, but last night was our very LAST date night at Orange Blossom. Oh, we'll be there Sunday with the family for closing day, but yesterday was the end of an era for us. You see, almost every Friday night, for years, we've gone to Orange Blossom. It's where we go to feed our tummies and our foodie brains. Check out last night's Asparagus Salad! The pictures came out perfectly, and it tasted even better than it looked! Once that sorbet melts down and mixes all over everything...look out! This of the very best salads I've ever had.
We also had the soup last night, it was Clam Chowder. Guess what? I don't eat clam chowder.... BUT I gobbled this up! It was explained to me that this is traditional clam chowder and what most people serve is New England style, the white kind. This was wonderful!
So, I know I've blogged the Smoked Pork Chop with Spicy Apple Butter before, but it is literally my favorite special. I can't even describe how juicy and tender this is. They smoke these giant suckers and then slice them and finish them on the grill.
Swirling each bite around in the pool of spicy apple butter that it's sitting on is just the icing on the cake!
Believe it or not, for once I didn't get dessert! I know I'll make up for THAT on Sunday! I'm just going to pretend calories don't count this weekend. It's like storing nuts for winter, except in this case, spring will never I'm gonna eat up now while I can!

I'm ready to take some serious pictures Sunday of their all-day celebration. It's sure to be fun and tasty! Last night we had a long discussion with the chef, and heard all about how he came to know cooking. As a young guy, his love of skiing led him to work at ski resorts, first busing tables, then dish washing, then got thrown into cooking one day when someone didn't show up for work. Through many more series of events, and time spent in Paris, he discovered his talent for creating food that equals art. There are a lot of people whose taste buds are glad he did!

For now, I'm looking forward to enjoying tomorrow night, and my final post will have more info on what's to come from good old Orange Blossom Junction.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Painted Farmers Market Sign

I have this big open space on the wall in my kitchen, above the sliding door, that has been driving me crazy. I hate open wall space. I made a quick sign today and it was surprisingly easy!I had this cupboard door in my garage from a long-ago ReStore purchase. I gave it a couple of coats of Valspar's Crystal Aqua that I had on hand.

After that dried, I measured how big I wanted my letters, and cut it with my Silhouette out of vinyl. I used the Pottery Barn font, which I downloaded for free.
I removed the letters, since I was going to use the negative space as a stencil. Next, I used transfer tape to ensure it wouldn't get all tangled when I applied my stencil to the board. A tape measure is your friend when it comes to spacing.
I stenciled it with black paint. After that dried, I lightly sanded the whole sign to distress the letters, and edges of the board. Last, I LIGHTLY wiped on and off some antiquing glaze to age it a bit.
I WANTED it to look this way. ;)
Hopefully you can see the distressing in these outdoor pictures. I almost wanted to see through the black letters a bit.

It's now happily hung in it's new home above the sliding glass door in the kitchen.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Taste of Orange Blossom {White Roughy}

Last night was one of our last meals at Orange Blossom Junction. It's kind of settling in now, that we won't be seeing our favorite crew regularly anymore. The good news is...they're going out with a bang! I can't wait for April 1st! There will be a steady stream of musicians throughout the day and of course the food will be fabulous! You know where I'll be! Check out the front page of their website to see the list of musicians and call to reserve your table today!Back to last night! How about an Asparagus Salad to start off? This was Brandon's and he barely let my fork sneak a few bites because it was so good! It was totally PACKED with flavor from the asparagus, to the Red Pepper dressing, to the cheese, on top of all of the regular salad goodies too!
They were SO busy that they sold out of FIVE whole Prime Ribs before we even ordered! Yes, you heard me! Word is out, and EVERYONE is heading out to get their fill of their favorites before they close. Lucky for us, the other special was White Roughy with two Prawns with Artichoke Cream! We both love this fish! The sauce was amazing, and just LOOK at that pile of onion straws. My favorite!
It was served with this mountain of delicious veggies, and garlic bread! I LOVE their green beans (think Dillon Chicken and Shrimp!)
I HAD to get the Cat's Meow with Grilled Chicken crossed off my OBJ Bucket List! Before I started blogging the specials, I used to order this ALL the time! Orange Caesar dressing all the way! I will never have a salad this fabulous and fresh again!
The special came with dessert, and since the special dessert was sold out (we ate super late), we shared our all time favorite, Chocolate Trauma. Their homemade chocolate ice cream is by far the BEST chocolate ice cream I'll ever eat.

Click here to view this photo book larger

Shutterfly photo books are the new way to preserve your memories. Create your own today.

Above is a photo book I gave Doug and Luci, Chef George, and Nikki as a little "thank you" for feeding us so well over the years. Their food will live on in my mind, even if it's not in my tummy. My taste buds will never be the same, but I'm nothing but thankful for the years of good food, music, and friendship we've been blessed to experience.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Shabby Chic Birthday

Today I got to host a little family birthday dinner for my wonderful sister in law. I used one of my french doors as a backdrop for my cart. It turned out great! It's amazing what you can pull from other areas of the house to put together a fun display. The only thing I bought was one bunch of snapdragons.I love the pink flowers in the aqua ball jars. The cake bunting was easy to make out of scrapbook paper scraps and baker's twine.
The cake turned out FABULOUS! I used Bakerella's Yellow Cake recipe. Seriously, it tastes like the old fashioned, dense cake that you can pick up a slice in your hands and it wouldn't fall apart. It's a triple layer cake with homemade buttercream. I refrigerated the cake for a few hours after I frosted it, and I'm glad I did, it made the frosting thick and chewy.
My little growing collection of vintage dishes (in the crate) finally got put to use.

Happy birthday Joy! I couldn't ask for a more wonderful sister in law! Love you!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Fabric Wrapped Cans

I've been saving a few cans, and yesterday I finally got around to doing something with them. I think I'll add something to the big one, we'll see. I saw some paper wrapped cans on Pinterest awhile ago, and they were lined up on a table with flowers in them. I decided to use some leftover fabric.This couldn't be easier, remove the can labels, throw the cans in the dishwasher.
Lay your can on the fabric and cut it to match.
I used mod podge, but you could hot glue. I
liked my fingertips yesterday so I decided not to burn them off. ;) For once.
I feel silly even posting these pictures, because it's quite obvious how to cover a can!
I use the giant can for all of my various metal pieces, handles, and knobs. The small ones will probably hold flowers or utensils at my vintage-y 30th birthday party next month. ;)

Spindle Gallery

Last week, I made something out of some spindles I bought at a antique store. I'm a sucker for salvaged, chippy pieces.
I used some extra 2x2's that were hangin' out in my garage. First, I painted two coats of Valspar Green River. After that dried, I whitewashed them with some acrylic white paint. Last, I sanded the edges, and wiped on some antique glaze.
You're left with wood that shows all three colors: green, white, and black. I was winging it, not really knowing WHAT I wanted, but knowing I wanted it to look worn to match the super worn spindles.
I pre-drilled the holes at an angle to prevent splitting, then used long screws. Last, I used a staple gun to attach chicken wire to the back.

It turned out pretty good! I wasn't originally planning on making it this wide, but I was too lazy to get out my saw and cut the 2x2's. ;) My gallery wall needed changed anyways, it's been the same since we moved in about 5-6 years ago!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Taste of Orange Blossom {White Roughy and Almond Prawns}

As I type this, I am back at Orange Blossom, waiting to eat lunch after my hubby tries to resurrect the ice cream machine. ;) I figured I might as well write up last night's special!
Last night was SO much fun and SO good!! The place is PACKED on the the weekends now. We ran into some friends do we ended up eating together and stayed past closing.
The FOOD!! Last night I had the special, Avocado Salad with Red Pepper Dressing. It was fantastic! They give you all the regular salad goodies and add half an avocado, and top it with a scoop of sorbet!

The White Roughy with Spicy Apple Butter was out of this world! The fish was super flaky, not fishy at all! If you don't already know it, the spicy apple butter is one of my favorite sauces! Fantabulous!

The special dessert was Grand Mariner marinated strawberry shortcake! It's like eating drunken berries over cake... Mmm!

If you don't already know, TONIGHT they are having Run 4 Cover play for St. Patrick's Day, the place will be hoppin for sure! It will be a $5 cover from 9-12.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Taste of Orange Blossom {Double the Specials!}

Last week we had a fabulous date night at Orange Blossom. I caught a really bad bug (respiratory, not food related!) the next day and completely forgot to blog! Oops! It's been a crazy week of trying to get by, but I finally feel on the upswing and remembered!

The special salad was a Bay Shrimp salad with Habanero Peach Sorbet. I can't tell you how much I'm going to MISS eating the freshest salads around! There is so much going on here, the flavor combination is AWESOME!
I had one of my "OBJ bucket list" items!! The Smoked Pork Chop with Spicy Apple Butter leaves nothing left to the imagination. Honestly, you've never had pork until you've had this! I'm gonna miss me some spicy apple butter!!
By the way...I get WAY too excited when I see a Parmesan crisp!!
Brandon had the other special, Sesame Crusted White Roughy and Crab Cake with Orange Ginger Butter. Wow! He went on and on about this fish! Seriously, he kept bringing it up in the conversation all night. Ha ha.
We tried both special desserts... Chocolate Ganache Tart with Strawberry Basil Ice Cream, was my choice! I'd forgotten about this one, it's been awhile since it was on special when we were there. I LOVE this ice cream!!
The special Brandon chose was the Strawberry Shortcake with Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream. This is his absolute favorite dessert here! I must admit, I was eating off of BOTH plates!
If you haven't gotten your booty over to OBJ, you'd better hop to it! You only have through April 1st! It was kind of comical because the line was crazy last Friday after the announcement for closure went out. So, word is out, you might want to call ahead and they'll gladly reserve you a table, just in case! Check them out here!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

One Year Without

I'm having a hard time figuring out my emotions this week. March 9th is the day we believe my dad died. After checking his cell phone, we see that it's the day he stopped answering his phone. We'll never know for sure. He was found on March 11th and our lives would forever be changed. How has it possibly been a YEAR?

I hate that I'm so far away from the rest of my family. I don't know what tomorrow or Sunday will look like for me emotionally. I've been remembering what I was doing exactly a year ago, all week. I've already passed the time that I last heard his voice. My mom called me when they were on their way out of town to visit her sister. They had just gone to Florida, and I told them, "well your next trip had better be to California!!". I didn't even get to talk to him first hand because he was driving, but it was the last time I heard his voice.

I hate the thought of him sitting alone in the house for days after he died, but there is absolutely nothing I can do to change it. The only reassurance is that whatever took him, took him quickly because he had the phone sitting right next to him.

The worst part is remembering March 11th. The worst day of my life. Laying on the couch, watching tv before bed and getting the phone call from my brother. It's HORRIBLE what stress can do to your body, physically. I spent the next few months fighting the anxiety, and my limbs going numb from it. I got a WHOLE lot done those months because I couldn't sit still or it would overtake me. Anytime I would lay down and not be doing something, it would start. I would shoot up off the couch and get to work doing something.
This picture is from his last visit to California. The girls discovered Star Wars, and since we only had one dvd, he bought the rest of the set and watched them constantly with the girls. That look on his face is one of "look what I've got". He was never happier than when he had one of his three grand-daughters. I still remember when I was in elementary school, but one of the later years, and for some reason I sat on his lap. I remember clear as day, that he was holding me and and rocking me, he looked at my mom with that same exact face, and said "look who I've got".

My dad was the hardest worker this world has ever known. He slaved away his whole life to provide for his family. There was nothing he wouldn't do for his family, and others. The week before he died, he asked his neighbor if he had a car, because he noticed him getting rides to work. The neighbor said "no", and my dad's response was, "well, now you do". He gave him the keys to his old car, because he had just bought a new one.

Everywhere I look, I see my dad. This house that he and I painted on his vacation, the bathtub that he installed for the girls, because we only had two showers when we moved in, the play set he bought and built for the girls in the backyard, the gazebo he bought and built for me, the school supplies he bought before my first year of homeschooling (he never bought a small amount of everything- I'll have markers and Popsicle sticks till the kids are in junior high, lol), and countless other things. The past two weeks, I've heard some of his favorite music on the classic rock station. The Doobie Brothers, BTO, The Eagles, Led Zeppelin...they were all his favorites and I can't bring myself to change the channel when one of his "reel to reel" songs comes on. I can still see him blasting his reel to reel hippie music and singing and tapping his feet.

I miss you everyday dad. I even miss your ridiculously loud snoring anytime you sat still for more than five minutes. Most of all, I wish you were here to see all of your grand kids grow. Seven years of being a grandparent is not enough.

Life goes on...until it doesn't.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Chicken and Raw Veggie Wrap

I've always loved alfalfa sprouts but I've been on a big spouts kick lately. When we go to Dog House Grill in Fresno (which is the same food as Firestone Grill in SLO and Main Street Grill in Cambria in case you didn't know) I ALWAYS get the grilled chicken sandwich. It comes on a wheat roll and I get it with cheese, lettuce, ranch, and sprouts. I LOVE a big pile of sprouts... Maybe my body is low on the nutrients they provide, maybe I'm part rabbit. Whatever.

Back to lunch! I butterflied a chicken breast, seasoned it with a Phil's gooba dust (pappys or any seasoning will work), garlic, salt, and pepper. Grill that bad boy up and get busy chopping veggies. I used thin strips of red bell pepper, julienned carrots, baby spinach, and a big ol' pile of alfalfa sprouts. As I'm writing this I remembered that I forgot that I wanted to add shredded cheese. So do that if you want to! Next time, I will.

Earlier in the day I mixed up a bit of real mayo with garlic (I keep a jar of the minced garlic from costco in the fridge so I used that), lemon juice, and fresh herbs. You want to use enough lemon juice to thin the mayo from being so thick, plain mayo grosses out. I know, I'm probably the only one. Use whatever herb floats your boat, I used tarragon, but you could use dill, etc. I put it in the fridge for an hour or so, to get all mixed in flavor.

Just heat up the tortilla on the grill or stove for a few seconds, spread on some of your mayo spread (or use ranch), top with all your veggies, and stir them up with the spread, then top with your thinly sliced grilled chicken, and CHEESE. SUPER.DUPER.YUMMY. I may or may not have eaten two. ;)

I had the regular size flour tortillas and the chicken was enough to make two wraps. One chicken breast would work perfectly for one big wrap if you have burrito size tortillas.

A Bite of Bravo Farms

Wanna see something else Bravo Farms has to offer? Last time I showed you a wrap that I built myself. This time I thought I'd show you a Brisket Sandwich. They smoke this bad boy for HOURS, until the meat is absolutely tender and delicious! Note that brisket isn't an everyday menu item, different days they have different special meats. Think pork tenderloin, brisket, special addition to their regular meat choices: chicken, turkey, tri-tip, salmon.
You get to pick your bread, spreads, cheese (mmm...bravo cheese!), and toppings. TELL me that does not look like something you want to sink your teeth into!
I can't get enough of these super crunchy fries! Honestly, they are the best fries I've ever eaten...anywhere!
Have you tried Bravo Farms in Tulare yet?
Bravo Farms on Urbanspoon