Love and Food in the Big D

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks..

Giving Thanks in the tastiest way possible.  :)  Grubbin' down (or attempting to.. I, of course, was sick :( on this super slooooow Thanksgiving.  Because I had already spent the weekend back home, I spent this day relaxing for the majority of the day until it came time to head down to the restaurant to have dinner with a condensed version of our family (our brother-in-law Ryan and his dad Mike) and Chad (who of course...had to work...DOUBLE BOOOOOOO for making people work on Thanksgiving, who does THAT?! Bleh..)  The only good thing about the restaurant being open... we had the WHOLE place to ourselves!! 

The food was amazing as always.. :) 

A traditional turkey dinner...

Sweet potatoes with a candied glaze, pecans and blue cheese (which I USUALLY hate...but was ACTUALLY soooo tasty!!)  

Wild Rice with butternut squash

Green Bean Casserole

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Happy Birthday Nana :)

Before my time in the valley had come to an end, we gathered together on this Sunday afternoon to celebrate, not only a little Thanksgiving turkey (a couple days early :)... but one hell of a milestone... 83 years of life!  My grandmother sure knows how to make 83 look great!  Straight out of open heart surgery, she's walking with a little pep in her step and honestly, looking better than she's ever looked.  I can't believe her strength... I certainly know who I want to be like when I grow up.  ;) 

Happy Birthday Nana!!!

Addie, singing Happy Birthday :)  So CUTE!! 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Baptismal Blessings for Sweet Baby Andrew :)

As soon as a day was nailed down for my nephew Andrew's Baptism, I booked a flight down for an always too short, BUT always sweet weekend in the valley.  Right on the heels of our trip to Chicago, I took the limited time I had down there to savor all of Andrew's smiling sweetness.  :)

On this very special Saturday, Andrew was among family and friends as he was baptized at my parents church in San Carlos.  Many Blessings baby boy.. we all love you so much!  :) 

Proud Maldonado's -
My brother Omar, sister in law Christi, niece Addison and new nephew Andrew  :)

Sweet baby boy did so well!  :)

Love those cheeks!!

With his Godmother Marissa Martinez

God Parents - Matthew and Marissa Martinez

Grandpa Maldonado and Addie looking on..

One final blessing..

Congratulations little one!

Matthew and Marissa with my parents...

Matthew and Marissa with Christi's parents..

The familia.. minus Chad who had to work... BOO!! :(

The Maldonado's and the Ruiz Clan

Sweet gummy smiles.. :) 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chicago Weekend (Day 3) - Two Years and Counting.. ;)

When Chad and I began to figure out how we would spend this anniversary day in Chicago, we never really paid attention to how fitting our day would end up being for us.  Dorky to the core, we were more than happy to take it easy at the Field Museum learning all we could and soaking in all that natural history goodness.  ;)  Which.. I won't retain by the way, cause I'm useless like that.. hahaha..  but Chad will remember forever...just in case he's ever on Jeopardy and needs to win us lots of money!  SOMEBODY has to make the money around here afterall.. ;)

Another cold and a bit rainy day.. PERFECT museum weather! 

Sue, the largest, most extensive and best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex specimen ever found

Taking it all in..


TOTALLY reminded us of Night at the Museum with these little scenes...
We were ready for them to start moving! 

Sue's beee-hind.  ;)

Shutting the place down...Now, time for some GRUB! 

Pizza Research Numero Dos.  ;)  Gino's East by our hotel. 

Since the pizzas take at least 30 minutes to bake, we started out with a little appetizer
Spinach and Artichoke dip, a tasty recommendation from our waitress

And Goose Island's own Matilda to wash it all down.  :)

The Meaty Legend..

Although tasty, we definitely think we did this pizza a disservice by piling on all that extra protein.  It was hard to compare it to Lou Malnati's with all that extra meat.  It was STILL super yummy but the verdict was still out on which one was the best.  (Guess we'll just have to keep doing "research"... hehehe.. ;) 

What a perfect ending to a perfectly awesome ANNIVERSARY!  :) 

A Letter to My Mister..

Excuse me in advance for being long winded, and cheesy.. (consider yourself warned.. this gets a little mushy ;)

Dear Husband…

When I was little…well younger really…in junior high and even high school, I used to be an avid “Dear Diary” writer.  In there, I would tell “Diary” my hopes and dreams, my fears about the future, the stresses of my day.. which of course was probably something silly and young like how much calculus homework I had to do and how hard band practice was. Lol. (insert dumb band geek jokes here.. ) For the most part, not a whole lot has changed in the last 10-15 years… except now I “talk” to a computer instead of a teeny, tiny book with a lock that I’d hide away hoping no one would find.

I used to think about you all the time. I remember how I used to dream and write about what you looked like. What you were doing at that very moment. Where you were at, what you were wearing. Did you wonder about me? I’m sure every girl with a romantic heart thinks about those things when they are young. I realized then that I was too young to really find you. After all, I had so much left to accomplish before it was time to settle down...but it certainly didn’t keep me from longing for the day that we’d finally meet. I knew you were out there somewhere….

As my time in College Station came to an end, I remember losing patience with God as another non-potential came and went… as I waited for you to show your face to me. Every day seemed so long as years passed and my patience grew thin until one day, while on the way back home to the valley for a I was now living in Dallas.. I made a deal with God. I let go. I put my life and heart in his hands. I trusted that the road God had planned for me was paved, and all I had to do was walk through it. Our paths would cross one day… and I needed to stop worrying about it. I did let God know that I was ready to find you. My heart was ready too. Over these years of waiting…I had learned so much about what I wanted, who I needed, and what would make me the happiest. I realized that all these years had prepared me for you. Lessons learned, hearts broken and healed stronger than before.. all to be prepared to love you. Fully. Whole-heartedly. Without regret. Without hesitation.

Then one day...not long after that conversation with God actually...there you were.  From the very first moment we met, it was as if you'd always been there.  And, in fact, you were.  You were living your life, preparing for me... I was living mine, preparing for you.  It took MAYBE a week to realize we were in it for the long haul and before asked me to be yours forever.  I had never felt so sure about anything or ANYONE in my whole entire life.  I never looked back.  I never questioned a thing.  Everything had fallen into place and in one instance, I knew that not only had our paths crossed... but it had merged into one and we were now walking together on this life's adventure.   

In the two years since the day we said "I do".. I've found an overwhelming sense of peace.  I no longer have to wonder about you.  I no longer have to wait to find you.  Every morning I look over at you still sleeping and thank God that you're there.  I thank God for the incredible husband that you are to me.  I thank God for the love that you show me, each and every single day.  I thank God for the patience he's given you to deal with me when I'm moody and unreasonable...and the love that you show me regardless.  I'm so incredibly lucky to have you.  I'm honored to be your wife. 

Happy 2nd Wedding Anniversary Love.  I can't wait for a 100 more.  :) 

Your Wife <3

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Great Chicago Binge of 2011 (Day 2) - Dinner at The Publican, Avec and Girl & The Goat

As we began our trek to our FIRST dinner of the night...our poor, tired and aching feet FOOLED us into thinking that perhaps we had walked enough throughout the day to work off our dinner BEFORE we had even made it to the restaurant.  Little did we realize that as the night wore down and we finally made it to our last stop of the evening, NO AMOUNT of walking could've ever worked off ALL. THIS. FOOD.  No amount at all.  Good news is, we had consumed enough calories to sustain us if the world happened to come crumbling around us and we had to survive for months on our stomach eating itself from the inside out.  OH yeah... we ate THAT much.   Albeit yummy.. our inability to actually STOP took us to the edge...

First Stop:  The Publican
(Taken from their website) - Executive Chef Paul Kahan and Chef de Cuisine Brian Huston crafted an eclectic menu inspired by simple farmhouse fare in a space evocative of a European beer hall. Featuring pork and fish/seafood preparations, the menu is best described by Kahan and Huston as “pristine product, simply prepared,” an approach to food Kahan has long espoused in all of his kitchens.

A round of beers to start us out..

Kusshi Oysters

Beets - Ricotta, Parmesan, Red Onion and Lemon

Walleye "fish fry" - Castelvetrano Olives, Cucumbers, Radishes and Parmesan Aioli

Lamb Neck Sugo with herb pappardelle and pickled squash

Pork Belly - Watermelon Radishes, Delicata Squash

Bread Pudding - Toasted Coconut, Almonds and Coconut Ice Cream

Next Stop:  Avec  (Same Chef as The Publican and Blackbird nearby)
Thankfully this little pit stop was just for a taste of some appetizers and maybe a drink to waste away the time before our next stop at Girl and The Goat.  ;) 

View from our seat at the bar..

Chorizo-stuffed medjool dates with smoked bacon and piquillo pepper-tomato sauce

Spaghetti squash crostini with parmesan saffron cream and watercress

Last Stop:  Girl & The Goat
If you've ever watched Top Chef on Bravo, you'll surely recognize Chef Stephanie Izard, winner of Top Chef, Season Four. 

(Taken from Wikipedia) Stephanie Izard's restaurant Girl and The Goat, has received local and national press, including four out of five stars from Time Out Chicago and three out of four from Chicago Tribune. It was also the subject of Saveur magazine’s first-ever restaurant review, which dubbed Girl and the Goat “America’s Best New Restaurant.” Girl and the Goat was also nominated for the 2011 James Beard Best New Restaurant Award, right around the time Stephanie was named one of Food and Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs.

Oh yeah.. it absolutely says, "Oven Roasted Pig Face".. and Oh YES, we ordered it.  Are you surprised?  ;) 
Chad was sold just on the name.. I, on the other hand...was more curious than anything else. 

Oh yeah and we also ordered the Pan Fried Duck Tongues with Shitake Mushrooms, Pickled Watermelon Rind, Chili Oil and Coriander 
I actually can't believe I WILLING ate these things.. and GASP, it was actually REALLY GOOD?!?!?!...Who knew I'd ever be so adventurous!?!

Seared Nantucket Bay Scallops, squash, bok choy, goat xo sauce and pizza poofs.. yup, that's what the menu said.. PIZZA POOFS!

Sauteed green beans, fish sauce vinaigrette and cashews
So simple, yet soooooo yummy!  :)

And last but certainly not least...
Wood oven roasted pig face - sunny side egg, tamarind, cilantro and potato stix
Actually tasted like breakfast sausage, egg and crispy hashbrowns.. except BETTER...and luckily it didn't LOOK like a pig's face, at all!  :) 

So long little guy... you were a tasty little fellow.. ;) 

Time to WALK...or CRAWL rather, back to our hotel.. Wheel barrow anyone?  Anyone??  Please... anyone??  ;)  B.L.O.A.T.E.D!!