Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Make This!!

Lemon raspberry breakfast rolls!!!

I found this recipe the other day via Twitter. I follow Joy the Baker and she tweeted a pix of these along with the recipe. I immediately ran to the store & bought a package of raspberries & a lemon.  I woke up bright & early this morning and had them ready for Omid & Matty when they woke up. It was the first time in three weeks I've baked anything. I was going through serious baking withdrawal!

These did NOT disappoint. They are absolutely delicious and a nice alternative to cinnamon rolls. I might even try blueberries or blackberries next time.  They were even good unfrosted, as Omid grabbed one before I could pipe the icing on. ☺

Lemon Raspberry Breakfast Rolls from Joy the Baker

For the Dough:
1 cup milk (I used 2 percent)
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted buttered, softened to room temperature
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup for kneading, plus more for sprinkling the counter

For the Filling:
1 heaping cup fresh raspberries (if using frozen, do not thaw)
1/3 cup sugar plus 1/2 cup sugar for dusting
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, browned and slightly cooled

For the Glaze:
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon water

To make the dough:
In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the milk to about 95 degrees. Pour the warm milk into the bow of an electric stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment. Stir the sugar and yeast into the warm milk and let sit for 5 to 7 minutes. The yeast will foam and bubble. That’s how you know it’s alive. After frothy, add the butter, eggs, lemon zest, and sea salt to the yeast mixture. Add 4 1/4 cups flour. Beat on low speed with the paddle attachment for 2 minutes. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and replace the paddle with a dough hook. Beat dough with the dough hook on medium speed for about 10 minutes.

Dust a clean counter with flour. Scrape the dough out onto the work surface. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of flour and knead for about 2 minutes. Dough will be soft and slightly sticky. That’s right!

Place dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Sprinkle a bit of flour on top of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, and place in a slightly warm place to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

While dough rises, grease a 9×13-inch pan with butter. Set aside.

To make the filling:
In a medium bowl toss together raspberries, sugar, lemon zest, and cornstarch. Crush the raspberries just slightly as you stir. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter until it is browned and fragrant. Set aside to cool slightly.

To assemble the rolls:
When the dough has doubled in size, turn out onto a floured work surface and gently knead for 1 minute. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a roughly 10×20-inch rectangle.

Spread the butter over the dough. Spread the filling over the dough. Raspberries will be here and there across the dough. Sprinkle the dough and fruit with 1/2 cup granulated sugar.

Working quickly, tightly roll up the dough into a 20-inch long log. Cut the log into quarters, then cut each quarter into 3 pieces. Carefully and quickly lift the rolls into the prepared pan. The rolls will release juice into the bottom if the pan. That’s fine! Cover pan with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rest in a warm place for 1 hour, until puffed.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes.

To make the glaze:
In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, lemon juice, and water. Drizzle glaze over cooled rolls and serve. Rolls are best served the day they are made but will last up to 3 days well wrapped at room temperature.

Buy This!

I LOVE Starbuck's Cinnamon Dolce Latte's as much as their Pumpkin Spice Latte's, but what I don't like is the price! $3.55 for a 12 oz coffee?

Enter Maxwell House International Coffees (formerly General Foods)!

Less than $3.00 for this container that tastes 95% like Starbuck's version & will make me about 15 cups of coffee. Yay!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Make This!!

Meatloaf! I used The Pioneer Woman's meatloaf recipe & tweaked it just a bit.

TPW calls for using white sandwich bread. I only had French bread, so I used that.
Funny thing about using French bread - the crusts come off & after my mealoaf was completely mixed,
I found these weird looking things in my meatloaf mix. I thought it was something in the beef & panicked for a minute.
Don't panic - it's just the crusts.

Fun fact: buy Angus beef when it's on sale. So soft & tasty!

Fun fact: You can 'Persianize' your meatloaf by adding in half a grated onion.

I skipped the bacon 'on the top' & added two brats (minus the intestine case) for flavor.

My new meatloaf pan found at Fred Meyer. 25% off plus a bonus 10% coupon!
After I placed the mix in the pan, I realized I completely forgot to add the parmesan cheese!!!!
Oh well, next time.

This meatloaf took 2 and a half hours to cook! Too long in my book!!!! I actually
had to cut it in half at hour number two to get it to finish cooking.
It tasted like the IKEA Swedish meatballs (not bad) but,
if you like Persian Koobideh like myself...
why do you need meatloaf? I will stick to Koobideh!

Fish On!

Guest post by Omid today. Enjoy!

An epic way to have a farewell party for my best friend.....

My best friend Kamyar has just arranged for his job to be transferred to Arizona (closer to his home and family) and will be moving down there this Thursday. Since this was a sudden development, I had to think of a plan for us to get together and have a good time; that would leave a lasting memory for all of us. The timing happened to work out great since we are in the middle of a smack salmon run in the Columbia River and the weather couldn’t be more perfect. So, the choice was obvious … Let’s go FISHING!!!!!!!!! We set the plan to arrive at the Port of Chinook on Friday night and fish the whole day Saturday 8/28 and half day on Sunday. We called up another GREAT friend of ours, Mostafa, told him the plan. The great guy he is, he was all over it and arranged time off from work to be with us. And JUST like Kamyar & I, couldn’t wait ‘till the weekend.

Friday rolls around, I get to work and by lunch time, the anticipation is so hard that I took half the day off as well. I raced home, packed up the truck, hooked the boat as fast I could and was on the road by 1 pm. It didn’t take me long to get on the road, so I knew I must have forgotten some things, but I didn’t care. I wanted to get there and see the water …

The drive seemed to fly by when I was at Astoria Bridge. There was bridge construction and I took this time to really examine where all the boats are congregating so I can stay away from them. Here is a quick shot of only the Washington side and above the bridge, followed by an action shot of a boat fighting a fish. What beautiful weather! By my estimates, there were at least 1000 boats there not counting the rest of the river …

The plan was to wait for Kamyar and Mostafa to arrive, have some drinks and bbq, and go to bed early so we can get an early start. Well…, I arrive at the port, reserved bait for two days, ran up to the master dock, got a slip for two nights, and launched the boat into the slip. I had the fishing poles ready, and like always, couldn’t wait. As a matter of fact, I didn’t. I decided to head out and test the waters for myself.

It was about 4 pm and I noticed the weather advisory lights come on, but I decided to go anyway. I get to just east of Chinook, the weather is still great, but the river is a MESS. I have 9 ft rollers and winds to deal with. I’m making very little headway, but I WANTED to go out and FISH. I notice the Coast Guard helicopter from far away…. Asking myself, it is only me out here, wonder why the chopper is on the water/ A few minutes later, the chopper is RIGHT ABOVE me. I do the customary waving of the hand and the chopper makes a circle again RIGHT ABOVE me. I do another wave and keep with my heading. The chopper makes a run above me and comes back again right ABOVE me. This time, I know he is trying to tell me something. Boy was I right … I stopped. While fighting the rollers and the waves, it dawned on me! Since I was going the same direction as the wind, the driving was relatively manageable, but when I turned west to go back to the port …. OH MY GOD!!! I’m getting POUNDED.

By this time the chopper is gone and I put the life jacket on and say a few prayers and head back. A few minutes into the run, I catch a big wave and get tossed in the air for a few secs. When I land, it was especially hard and my gut said, “dude … something must have broke”… The sound of the engine was my companion and as long as it was running, I told myself I was fine. I looked at all the gauges reading normal, so I kept at it. After what seemed an eternity, I make it back to the dock, park the boat in the slip, shut the engine of and get ready to go out to tie the boat and my head hit something. I look up and … uh oh. Look at the plate holding my lights and GPS antenna. That is a ¼ in aluminum plate that snapped and not at the weld either!!!!

I get a call from Kamyar and he said he was pulled over for speeding when he passed a couple of cars on the road. I’m telling myself, "this is heck of a way to start this trip?!?!" NO PROBLEM. I wasn’t going to have this ruin our trip. A quick examination of available options at hand, I decided the lights are coming off and the GPS antenna is going to get wedged in between the cabin light upside down. It worked. After this ~ 6:30 pm, I went up to the truck, poured myself a drink and sat on the edge of the water watching the sunset.

Kamyar and Mostafa arrived around 8:30 pm. By this time, I had the yogurt cucumber salad ready, chicken and steak kabobs on the skewers and the mini Weber grill hot and ready to go. We had a great dinner together, told stories and went to bed around midnight.

Saturday 6:00 am – We wake up, look at the parking lot and it is FILLED. Filled with anticipation and adrenaline, we run to the store, pick up the bait, get a quick breakfast, put some gas into the boat after making a huge scene at the dock on who’s going to pay (Iranian Ta’rof if you haven’t heard of it) and get on the water. EVERYTHING is BEAUTIFUL.

We are working like a well-oiled machine. We arrive to the spot, Kamyar gets on the wheel to steer the boat and Mostafa and I are baiting the hooks and setting up. 5 minutes into the troll, and Kamyar yells, "FISH ON! FISH ON!", pointing to the pole that is bouncing like crazy. A few minutes of fighting the fish and a nice 12 lb wild Coho comes to the boat. The guys release it and on with our troll….
Another 20 minutes and SHABALAM #%^#$%(# ….. We fight that fish for a few minutes longer and it is a nice 15lb Chinook. WOOHOO! One goes into the box.

We troll below the bridge all morning and make our way to the bridge. We are getting closer and closer to the bridge and again SHABALAM #%^#$%(#.... We bring that fish in to the boat and it is another 15 lb Chinook. WHOO HOOO!! Another one goes in the box.

OK, now we want to go above the bridge and fish in calmer waters. The currents under the bridge are pretty strange and I was on my white knuckle high alert. While making the pass under the bridge, zip zip zip zip, SHABALAM #%^#$%(#..... Bring that one in and it is another nice wild Coho that we released. We are pumped and really having a good time. Between the Persian songs and a couple of middle age Iranians in their underwear and T-shirts dancing in the middle of water, we were the star of the 600 boats around us.

We make our way and away from all the other boats above the bridge, enjoying the calm waters, each other’s company, the bright and hot sun. We had our lunch and continued with our trip.

By mid afternoon, when all actions seemed was over, the center rod with the hot spinner starts dancing and SHABALAM #%^#$%(# …. I grab the rod, Mostafa reels in the other rods and Kamyar stands next to me with the net. The $13 Swarovski lucky spinner had done it again! It is 85 degrees, sunny, calm waters, QUIET and I’m fighting a fish. Life could not be better at that moment. I turn to Kamyar and tell him, "I’ll miss you when you leave." He looks at me and says the same. While I’m fighting the fish, it comes up to the surface and with the sunlight behind it, make a 100 yard pass right in front of us and showed himself to us with the spinner on the side of his mouth. Our heads turn the way you watch a formula one race and we both said WOW!!!! It is another Chinook!!! A few minutes later, it comes in and another on goes in the box. WOO HOOO!

We were loving life. We decided to call it a day and make the treacherous trip back to the dock. It was not as bad as yesterday but still a white knuckle ride back. Once near the dock and calmer waters, we were greeted by the gang of pelicans and seagulls as usual and all were eager to see if we had any food for them.

Kamyar with the catch of the day.

Mostafa cleaning the fish.

We woke up at 6 am on Sunday morning and the clouds had rolled in. We get ready at a more leisurely pace than the day before since we had fish in the cooler. We picked up the bait, had some breakfast, made our way to the boat, re-tied all the gear and were on the way by 8:15 am. We made a pass just west of Chinook and drifted with the tides. It’s slower than yesterday but we still had hope. An hour into the troll and the lucky spinner poll gets a HUGE hit and SHABALAM #%^#$%(#. I pick up the rod and there is nothing on. The worst part of the deal is the newly tied 40# leader line had snapped and I lost the lucky spinner. Oh well … We tie another spinner, pick up and make our way to B-10. Waters are relatively calm but I make the guys put on their life vest anyway.

After an hour of fishing, I decided to change the spinner to same colors or at least close to the same colors of the lucky spinner. We troll with the current back to the bridge and close to the bridge…. SHABALAM #%^#$%(# The color change had worked. It was a nice Silver and we put that on in the box. WOO HOO! Back on the board baby! We make our way trolling to waters above the bridge. By this time, the sun had come out and we were anxious for more fish. The radio calls were not that encouraging as most folks hadn’t even hooked into a fish yet.

Another hour of fishing and bounce, bounce, bounce …. SHABALAM #%^#$%(# … Fish on. WOO HOO! We bring the fish in and it is a small tasty little silver.

We spend the rest of the time talking and munching on snacks while trolling. We had a drive by that stripped the bate from us later in the day. By 3 pm we decide to call it a day. It was an EPIC weekend of fishing with my GREATEST friends and a FANTASTIC time. I will never forget it.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fun in San Fran!

First of all, let me say that if you book a vacation through Travelocity & request a budget hotel...that doesn't necessarily equal 'cheap & seedy.' We stayed at the Sofitel San Francisco Bay Hotel. It was absolutely beautiful & met our budget. We felt like we were staying in a 5 star hotel.

 The view from our room.

L'Occitane products in the bathroom! Woohoo!!!!!!!

Hotel room service menu for dogs.
We even saw a standard white poodle sitting at the bar! No joke.

It was sunny & COLD in San Francisco.
A friend reminded me of this quote by Mark Twain:
The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. 
We came prepared with our winter hats & jackets. ☺

Here is one reason I like the Instagram app.
This is the photo w/o Instagram.

Photo with Instagram! A softer look on the crow's feet!☺
No visit to San Fran is complete without the clam chowder in a bread bowl.
So yummy.

We rode the world famous cable cars on our visit too. Luckily we got to stand on the outside of the car.
I couldn't resist (& ignored #4) and sang the Rice-A-Roni theme song. It felt so right. 
Without Instagram.....

With Instagram! I like it so much more!

Matty on the cable car.

Shot of the TransAmerica building & Coit tower from Pier 39.
The 'painted ladies' from Full House!

Fisherman's Wharf sea lions. These guys smelled like
vomit/rotten garbage/rotten fish.

Nap time!
We crammed as many tourist activities as we could in the short time we were there.
Omid and I both wanted to visit Alcatraz. We learned on our last visit to SFO that tickets to
Alcatraz sell out weeks in advance & we purchased our tickets in June.
Fun Fact: Have you ever seen the movie The Rock with Sean Connery & Nicolas Cage?
Omid couldn't stop himself & said, "Welcome to the Rock" about 50 times. It was hilarious.

The visit was interesting & creepy.
It just reinforced what I already know: I never want to go to prison!!
Robert Luke was a former Alcatraz inmate.
He was in the Alcatraz bookstore on the same day we visited promoting his new autobiography.

Robert Luke - former Alcatraz inmate.

Million dollar shot!☺
Freezing our tails off!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Here Comes the Bride!

We flew in to San Francisco last weekend to attend the wedding of Omid's sister Arezou & her fiance Evan. I have lots of SFO photos, but decided to post our mini vacation photos backwards.
First: the wedding!
**NOTE: I am in LOVE with the Instagram app on my phone and decided to 'instagram' most of my photos.
Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

The wedding was held at The Harvest Inn in Napa. This is the view from Arezou & Evan's room.

I snuck a photo while the bride & groom were getting photographed before the ceremony.

Arezou & Evan walking down the aisle together.
Notice the fresh lemon leaves, lavender & rosemary under their feet. The air was positively fragrant!

My father-in-law Mansour reading a Persian 'Poem of Love' written by Fereydoon Moshiri.

Here is the poem. Blogger won't let me rotate the photo. Sorry!

The Kiss!

The newlyweds!!

Here is the table. It was so beautifully decorated!
 Everything was perfect: from the table settings to the flowers. Simply stunning!

The proud parents!
 My inlaws, Fari & Mansour.

Beautiful mother-of-the-bride & her handsome son!♥
Cousins: Baanu & Matty.
Naseem was unable to attend as she started classes the next day.
We missed you Nas!!!♥

I can honestly say I have never been to a more beautiful wedding. Everything was perfect and beautiful.
CONGRATULATIONS Arezou & Evan!!! We wish you all the happiness in the world!!