July 24, 2013

When Life Calls For Butterscotch, Make It From Scratch

"The way to a man's heart is through his stomach."

Don't believe it? Spend a few minutes with my boyfriend, the lover of what he likes to call, "yum yums," which are basically any tasty treat that is most likely really bad for your health.

Although I do worry about his yum yum obsession, it did make it easy to decide what to do for him to celebrate one year of dating. I went with one of his favorite yum yums, "Scotcheroos." His mom made them this past Christmas, so I was able to experience first hand just why he raves about this dessert.

She was nice enough to give me the recipe, and as I bought the ingredients, I tried not to think about the fact that I was going up against years of Scotcheroos perfection. That didn't last long, though, because the recipe calls for butterscotch chips, and apparently they don't sell butterscotch chips in Pasadena this time of year. How could I not think about the years of Scotcheroos perfection knowing I was going to have to make homemade butterscotch?!

Also, I gave my mom a good laugh when I called to ask her if corn oil was different than corn syrup. Note to self: it is.

Anyway, although intimidated, I was bound and determined!

Before I knew it, it was Saturday night, and I was preparing my ingredients. Every butterscotch recipe I read stressed the importance of moving fast between each step. Apparently, I didn't move fast enough, though. Somewhere between dumping in 1/4 cup of whipping cream and pouring another, the butterscotch began to harden. Crap. I was sure my frantic attempt was a lost cause. I decided to try cranking the heat, hoping to re-liquidize (is that even a term?) the butterscotch to the desired consistency.

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I'll admit, I was feeling pretty proud as I poured the sweet smelling butterscotch into a readied glass bowl of melted chocolate chips. However, when it was time to slather it on the peanut butter, rice krispies goodness that is Scotcheroos, my heart sank a little. The butterscotch and chocolate spread took on a sand like texture. All I could do was hope it tasted better than it looked.

24 hours later, Dave and I devoured 3 slices of the Scotcheroos...EACH...IN A ROW! That should tell you something about the finished product.

Also, it should tell you a little something about life. It might not look how you thought it would, but that doesn't it mean it can't still taste sweet.

Yum yum on my friends,

<3 Elise

"Meating" My Cooking Goals

Last week, with the help from my bosom friend and her reference to The Pioneer Woman, I ventured out into the scary world of cooking with meat. Being the unexperienced cook I am, I decided to start with something simple, Penne With Chicken Thighs.  

Now, I'm going to be honest, chicken thighs were never a part of the original plan. I bought the thighs thinking they were breasts (if you didn't believe me when I said I knew nothing about cooking, I'm assuming you do now). Luckily, PW speaks highly of thighs, and I can see why!

I only had to make slight adjustments to the recipe. The thighs were skinless and boneless, I didn't have fresh garlic, parmesan, or basil, so I used powdered, and instead of plain marinara sauce, I used tomato basil. I realize everything tastes better fresh, but I'm on a budget and don't have a car. So cooking experts, forgive me for working with what I had.

Anyway, there is no satisfaction quite like that of cooking, what I consider, a "real" meal. The anticipation almost killed me as I followed PW's orders to wait for 1 1/2 hours for the chicken to cook. When it was time to plate my dinner, I let out a big sigh before taking the first bite. I let out another big sigh after realizing I wanted a second bite. As the recipe promised, it was delicious.

The only problems I ran into were a lot of second guessing games and making an absolute mess of the kitchen. Seriously, I am no graceful cook. Maybe that will come with time? Either way, the fact that I successfully made a meal and didn't start a fire or die made cleanup a little bit more enjoyable.

So, there you have it. I cooked with chicken. My only regret is not taking a picture.

Who knew "meating" my cooking goals would be so fun?

See what I did there? ;-)

Cook on my friends!

<3 Elise

July 9, 2013

"We're Up All Night to YOSEMITE!"

First of all, let me explain the title of this post. For about a week or so, Dave has been singing "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk ft. Pharrell Williams NON-STOP. Naturally, it became the theme song of our three day trip to Yosemite over the 4th. Dave replaced "we're up all night to get lucky" with "we're up all night to Yosemite." It's pretty fitting because we were, in fact, up all night to Yosemite.

In my opinion, it wouldn't be a true adventure, if there weren't some hoops to jump through. I knew very early on our trip to Yosemite would be a true adventure because

1. We didn't reserve a campsite,

and

2. Jason missed his first flight and didn't arrive to LAX until midnight on said departure date.

Thus, the boys drove through the night with hopes of arriving to Bridalveil Creek Campground early enough to claim a site before the rest of the crowd. Surprisingly (I definitely had my doubts), the plan worked! It was only after a bit of digging that we came across a warm Australian couple who invited us to share apple slices and swap stories of our travels before starting to set up camp as they tore down.

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Although already exhausted from the long drive and quick setup, we headed to The Valley to embark on our first hike of the trip.

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Our exhaustion quickly transformed into adrenalin, after our first view of all Yosemite had to offer. We started with about a 7 mile hike (roundtrip) to the top of Vernal Fall and then to the top of Nevada Fall.

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Vernal Fall:

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Nevada Fall:
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Waterfalls are something I haven't been able to experience with our San Gabriel hikes, so it was definitely a nice change of pace. Plus, being as hot as it was, it was nice having a way to cool off.

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We decided to take a different route back down which was a good decision. Not only was it less strenuous, but  it also provided equally as beautiful, yet different views.

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Believe it or not, our day was not finished. After some delicious camp food, we headed to Glacier Point to watch the sunset.

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Over the past year, I've been able to hike a ton, and it has become a very spiritual hobby for me. As Dave and I were watching the colors and shadows change, I couldn't help but think of the parallel of God's beauty on display and the beauty He sees when He looks at our lives. The two falls you see in this picture are the very falls I had just hiked. During those hikes I had moments of pain and joy, shortness of breath and never feeling more alive, feelings of defeat and feelings of triumph. All the while, though sometimes I was unsure and didn't know how exactly it would happen, I knew I would get to where I was going. Life is often like my hikes, but when I am given opportunities to see my hikes from afar, I get a glimpse of what God must see when He looks at our lives. He knows there are the long uphill battles, He sees those gritty details, but He also sees where we are going. More importantly, He sees how all of it creates what is displayed in this picture. Beauty for His glory.

I think it's safe to say, the sunset at Glacier Point was the more contemplative part of my trip.

As much as we didn't want to leave, the thought of much needed sleep sounded pretty good, too. Despite being cold and thinking I heard a mouse in the middle of the night, I felt pretty rested the next morning and was excited and ready to conquer Upper Yosemite Falls!

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This was another strenuous 7 mile trek with what seemed to be a hotter sun. However, the views at the top of the fall made it all worth it.

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And how could I resist experiencing the falls for myself?

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Once we reached the bottom again, it was time to say a dreaded goodbye to The Valley and spend a relaxing evening in hammocks around the campfire.

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Our final hike of the trip was in the cool of the next morning to Sentinel Dome. This hike was far easier on the muscles, and a lot less crowded. Only 2 miles round trip and we were still blessed with more amazing scenery.

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We sat at the top for a while, enjoying our last moments at higher elevation before heading back down to pack up. We loaded up the car in record time and ventured to our last site of the trip: The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.

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We found it took 1o of us to wrap around the entire tree. I never thought I could feel THAT small.

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Yosemite was a more beautiful trip than I imagined, and I have every intention of going back before I leave California. There is so much more to climb and explore. I wouldn't mind having my first bear siting either. ;)

Adventure on my friends!

<3 Elise