Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spiced Braised Beef With Sweet Potatoes

I made this tasty recipe a few weeks ago when my friend Sarah was coming over for the bachelor wedding (an event that is much more fun when watched with friends!).  Sarah emailed me asking for the recipe in an effort to "beef" up her crockpot. I'd been meaning to share it with others too, so here you go!

This was easy, delicious and made enough to have leftovers for lunch. It's like a twist on the traditional roast. The almonds on the top add an awesome crunch! For an even healthier twist, you could service over quinoa, rather than couscous.



Spiced Braised Beef with Sweet PotatoesServes 6Hands-On Time: 15mTotal Time: 4hr 15m


  • 1 1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut into chunks
  • 2 sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch-thick half-moons
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 large red onion, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • kosher salt
  • 1 10-ounce box couscous (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 2 cups baby spinach (1 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup roasted almonds, chopped


  1. In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the beef, potatoes, tomatoes (and their juices), onion, apricots, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup water.
  2. Cook, covered, until the meat is tender, on high for 4 to 5 hours, or on low for 7 to 8 hours.
  3. Ten minutes before serving, prepare the couscous according to the package directions.
  4. Add the chickpeas to the slow cooker and cook until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the spinach. Serve with the couscous and sprinkle with the almonds.

{Recipe and photo courtesy of Real Simple}

Creative juices

The creative juices have been flowing. And I've loved every minute of it! 

I was 'hired' by my twinner to make 30 thank you cards. She had foot surgery and wanted to send notes to all the wonderful people who have helped her. Other than 'thank you' theme, I was given complete creative freedom. I am very pleased with how they turned out; equally happy to know that Kaci loved them too

Here are a few of the cards I made...

This project got me thinking....maybe I should open an Etsy shop?! 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New use

Anthropologie puts their receipts and gift certificates in this adorable little bag:

It's way too cute to get rid of so I put it in my workbag determined to find a way to re-use it. In the spirit of my favorite magazine Real Simple, this is my new use(s) for an old thing: 

Perfectly holds my ipod and headphones in my purse so it's easy to find and the cord doesn't get tied up in my car keys. 

Also works well as a jewelry holder when I'm working out! I've unfortunately lost jewelry at the gym, so I'm especially grateful for this new use :) 

Friday, March 26, 2010

Let Life Happen

On Wednesday as I was headed home from work I received the following text...
Ashlee: My friend is opening for sean hayes in oakland tonight at the new parish, going to try and go, you should too!

My immediate thoughts: OH Sean Hayes, how I love thee - It's a school night - I have stuff I was planning to get done tonight - I've really wanted to see him in concert - I love spending time with Ash - it's good to be spontaneous and go OUT on weeknights.

Me: Call me when you get a second, very interested!

Meanwhile thinking: I wonder when it starts *yawn* I'm already tired - last minute concert tickets are usually more expensive - and parking in downtown Oakland...

Ashlee: Doors open at 8pm, tickets are $15. Call you in a few.

Ummm can she read my mind? That's not too late and totally affordable. Done, I'm going. Look at me - I'm spontaneous!!

The concert was at a new venue in Oakland called The New Parish - small stage with standing room and a balcony above with a few tables and chair. Exposed brick and dark wood accents, very cozy.

We arrived a little before the opening act, and we able to chat with Ashlee's friend, Andrew. He is part of several bands, one of which is Kacey Johansing, and plays the marimba. I had not heard of Kacey Johansing, but really liked her music. Her lyrics are very Bay Area focused and she sounds, to me, a lot like Fiest. She's also doing some right because her band is comprised of five guys playing all the instruments. As we enjoyed our PBR's we laughed at the hipsters at the very front of the stage dance. Or do you even call that dancing? What ever it was, we were entertained at least.

After a loooooooooong intermission (it was a weeknight, remember?), Sean Hayes made his way on the stage. It was well worth the wait!! He is kind of a goofy looking guy, although he was looking more trendy in a deep v-neck, but once he starts singing you can't help but love him. During the first or second song I looked over to Ash and said "I am SO GLAD we're here! I kind of can't believe I didn't know there was a concert." (I was a little bit obsessed from the first time I heard him.)  Ashlee agreed and said "some of the best things are just gotta let life happen." Maybe it was the great music or the spontaneity, but her words rang so true to me. I am a total planner; although on the scale of Type A's, I'm not quite as stringent as others. I like routine, structure, having a plan of attack.  Through friends and a non-planner boyfriend I'm learning that it is just as great to go with the flow, and let life happen.

We had so much fun singing and after a while could not help dancing too. Sean played a few new songs, as well as some that I love, such as Alabama Chicken. So strange and goofy, but so fun to sing. Every single person was singing (except maybe the big scary bouncer who was looking for the illegal substances)! We left before the concert ended, so we either missed or he didn't play one of my favorite songs, Big Black Hole and the Little Baby Stars. It's a favorite for these lyrics:

You're always gonna find problems 

That's just the way things are 
Now how you choose to deal with them 
Make problems what they are  

I couldn't agree more.

Sean Hayes is going on tour with the relaese of his new album. He's playing in Santa Cruz or Petaluma, as well as other cities on the west coast. If you are at all into indie-folk, I highly suggest the concert. Might be the best $15 you'll spend in April. 


Last weekend Brian and I took a trip to Portland, Oregon to visit friends. We planned the trip for that particular weekend, as it was Jessica's birthday. Not only is Jess in Portland, but Brian's best friend Bill lives there as well. I also have two good friends from college and Brian knew two other guys from high school. Who knew we were so popular in Portland? 

Highlights of the trip: 

  • Being greeted by Jess at the airport - full of energy and excitement to have us in town. She even made us cute little welcome bags complete with snacks, water and toys! 
  • Meeting Bill. I've heard so many stories and sheenanigans including this infamous character. He completely lived up to all the great things I've heard. 
  • Dinner and margs at Por Que No -amazing!
  • Walk along the riverfront on a sunny day, admiring the trees in full bloom. 
  • Spending a totally girly day with Jess including shopping, manis/pedis, great talks and as always, lots of laughing. 
  • Night out in Portland to celebrate Jess and meet up with other friends.
  • Sunday brunch at the Teuber's. 
  • Walking the trails at the Nike campus.
  • Shopping at the Columbia employee store.
  • VooDoo donut.
  • Hot Wok! 

As we sat at the airport on Monday, we agree that it was a great trip. The perfect mix of seeing good friends, touristy things and relaxing. This was my fifth trip to Portland, and I've always had a wonderful time. Thank you to all our wonderful friends for showing us your city!

Jess and I with the pretty trees along the waterfront

View of Mt Hood from Jess' work

Happy Birthday Jess!

Me and B out in Portland

Sunday morning brunch with Lisa - cheers!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Springtime in San Francisco

I've been away. For no real reason. I've had lots of ideas to blog about, but haven't made the time. Meanwhile I've been searching for jobs, writing cover letters and wishing, hoping and praying that my letter gets someones attention! Oh and we've been traveling - up the Northern California Coast, skiing in Tahoe and this past weekend to Portland, OR. OH and I ran a half marathon. What an amazing day and my fastest time yet! I guess I have been pretty busy. Well, I'd like to MAKE more time for my blog. I miss it. Hope my absence didn't deter my loyal readers :) 

So, Happy Spring! The Whole Enchelleada is back (or so I hope!).