Sunday, February 28, 2016

Orzo Chicken Pasta Salad


Of all the starches available in Italian cuisine, orzo has always been my favorite. Perhaps because it reminds me of what my mom always made me when I was sick growing up (post here of that) or perhaps because it blends so strategically into so many dishes without overpowering the entire entree while simultaneously soaking up flavors like a champ. Whatever it is, I’ve long loved it and adore making to-go lunches that incorporate it. And this Orzo Chicken Pasta Salad is so easy and so legit:
Cast of Characters:

4 Chicken Tenders - cut into smaller squares
5 cups chicken broth
2 cups orzo
1 diced bell pepper
3/4 cup diced green onion
1 can chickpeas
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup diced basil
1/2 cup diced mint leaves
Fresh Parmesan Shreds

Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup wine vinegar (rice, red or white all work with slight variations based on your taste preference. I've made with rice and red numerous times. Always good regardless.)
Juice of 2 Lemons (about 1/4 a cup)
2 tsps. honey
2 tsps. salt
1 cup EVOO

To make vinaigrette: Combine all ingredients in a blender and pulse. 
Heat EVOO over medium-high heat, add cut chicken. Cover. Cook for about 12 minutes, stirring as needed until chicken is golden brown. Set aside. Stir orzo into a sauce pan with heated olive oil. Sauté until light brown. Add chicken stock and bring to boil. Cover. Reduce heat and simmer until Orzo is tender and liquid is absorbed (about 15 minutes). Put Orzo in large bowl and mix in the chicken. Add the bell pepper, green & red onion, chickpeas, grape tomatoes, basil & mint leaves. Mix in dressing and stir until saturated to taste. Top with parmesan and pine nuts.
I made it work lunch friendly by packing the pasta salad over ample amounts of spinach in a tupperware and securing the dressing in a separate container to mix at the office. I also packed yogurts and oats for breakfast + carrots and grapes with blueberries for snacks.
^Drank many of these while assembling lunches - Seltzer, mint, lemon juice and blueberries.

Happy eating!
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Friday, February 26, 2016

SOAR

^Cute Seagull I saw down at the Ferry Building

Whew, boy. TGImfF, amirite? This work week was like a sneaker wave of craziness. Monday was business as usual and I sipped my tea and and plugged away at work at my desk with Spotify ringing in my ears and a content smile plastered across my unknowing face. All was right in my world. But then, Tuesday came. And it was one issue after another. And deadlines. And emails. And racing between floors at work. And meetings. And staying late. And working late into the evening at my home. And just a whole lotta exhausting work. I am (and was) supremely exhausted.

Or am I?

No question that the stride this week has picked-up. And no one could deny that there were numerous fires to put out and I was up from my desk a lot more than usual. But, on retrospect, I realize that I actually feel better this week. With a faster pace, I buckled down and focused with no time to snack or move at a glacial pace when I made my way downstairs for lunch. I was always on the go, only making times for things I had to do and little for much else and had some spectacular work 'wins'. And the fact that I actually feel better this week (mentally, physically) than I do on slower work days made me realize how much we perhaps undersell the notion of being 'busy' at the office. Not saying that I want to be overly stressed all the time in my day-to-day but it's actually kind of awesome to have a chance to showcase your strengths under pressure. 

 After all, the weekend looks a heck of a lot sweeter when it's wholly earned.

Happy Weekending All!
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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Tennies & Kicks

They always say that love finds you when you least expect it. And I'm beginning to be a believer. Never one to sport tennies outside of the gym, I don't generally scout for cute ones as I figure they're better snatched by gals who can dress them up better than me. So when my mom gifted me these little kicks last year, I envisioned them working perfectly for taking Chandler out to pee in a jiffy. But flat, small, light and tidy- they've become a staple for so many more situations than that. I love them on my Sundays, I sport them as I scale the many San Francisco hills and I often have them tucked-away in the depths of my purse to replace my heels with the millisecond I leave a fancier event.

Hey, I guess it's true what they say: Tennis shoes, although slow and dangerous behind the wheel, can still serve a purpose

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

San Francisco BIKE TOUR

I didn’t get anything for Valentine’s Day. I didn’t get a piece of jewelry. I didn’t get flowers. I didn’t wake up to chocolates. There was no spiffy teddy bear holding a balloon waiting for me. Nada. Zip. And it was my very favorite Valentine’s celebration yet. That’s because this year, with a desire to continue getting stuff OUT of the house rather than IN, we decided to not get each other gifts and rather, give each other the present of an all day bike excursion. Something I had seriously hoped to do for years now and the magical day finally landed on a morning where I threw open the shades and exclaimed [Stop. Don’t do Chandler Bing speak, Caitlin. Don’t you do it…] Could this day BE any more beautiful??[whhooooopsie]. Because seriously, it was blue skies, birds chirping (really!) and a golden sun set against a cloudless backdrop.

As we sipped coffee and the news buzzed in the background (that depressing drivel played in horrible contrast to the opera of the winged ones outside), we hastily threw snacks, waters and extra clothes into backpacks as we grabbed an Uber to Fisherman's Wharf to rent bikes from Blazing Saddles. Within twenty minutes of our arrival, we were suited and booted and ready to rock and roll on our own Pee-wee's Big Adventure.
^Here was the plan: Fisherman's Wharf >>>The Golden Gate Bridge>>>Sausalito>>>Old Mill Park>>>Tiburon>>>Ferry back to the city

Of course we took our sweet time as we coasted along the beginning of the route by stopping for pictures every five minutes to soak-up/capture that view while we still looked halfway decent. Well, that was my reasoning anyway. Not that I needed to explain it as he will always be happy to sit in peace by a picturesque scene.
^Karl the Fog rolling on in in spectacular fashion.

Followed by biking over this hot little redhead of a Golden Gate Bridge and feeling pretty happy and joyous to have the ability to do so.



While the bridge was spectacularly riveting, I was really excited to make it to quaint, cultured, picturesque Sausalito, our next stop on the map and one that included a pitstop of vino and snacks. We had last been here for our anniversary [post here] and it's been on my mind ever since. I tell you, if we stay down here long enough to the point where we'd move to the burbs. I'm gonna fight tooth and nail to make said move be to Sausalito vs. East Bay. 
^In Sausalito with San Francisco city line on the left (and Karl gliding over the bay)
^Basically the same as eating your Wheaties, right?
^We sat at Angelino again, mainly for their outdoor space in this heat and the gorgeous view.

From there, it was up and away from the city amenities and into Old Mill Park to check out some famed Redwood trees and rest our tushies under the canopy of branches.
^You can see I'm beginning to melt a little bit. Everything is just shifting south.
^Jay trying to get a sig' on his pager.

And then it was a long, gliding, hilly trek to Tiburon, our final destination. 
^Almost there but wanted to stop and "take a picture" [See also: Catch my breath without admitting to Jay that I was tired].
^See SF way back there? 

At the end of a lot of huffing, puffing and pedaling - we made it all the way to Tiburon. Proud. Oh so proud. And low-key hyperventilating. But only "low-key" so we were chill.
^In Tiburon with SF photobombing over my left shoulder.
^Collapsed against the grass to sweat it off. I also like how I took the time to put my blog title on this picture as if anyone in the history of time is going to try and steal this POS.
^Celebratory dinner at Sam's Anchor Cafe. I got the Moroccan Chicken w/ couscous and Jay ate the Tuna Salad Sandwich with a cup of chowda'. The best part about it was that I was able to order a European Spritz!

With full bellies, happy hearts, tired legs and ravished hair, we boarded the Ferry from Tiburon back to SF proper. And it was a very enjoyable way to commute.
^You can't see his mouth. However, it is so obvious that that boy is smiling.
^Is this real life?
As I finished-up taking some snaps on the ferry, I quickly put my camera away and went to take in that view above while in Jay's embrace. We murmured back and forth about the move down here and how good it has been. How beautiful this place was. And how lucky we were to be sharing it. And that moment after that day of endorphin-filled adventure, was all the gifts I would need for Valentine's Day. 

The following Saturday, we purchased our very own bikes. 
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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Stinking Rose | SF, CA

Well, 3 Million Dollars later and I have my Macbook back. Which means that I'm up and running and finally have access to my pictures again from the Super Bowl. Hurrah to that and I can't wait to post this week because it was so d*mn fun. But i'd like to separate one experience of that week from the herd to highlight our meal at "The Stinking Rose" in North Beach. Just because it comes with a little bit of its own story.
Many moons ago when I was probably around 11, my Dad came back to Portland from San Francisco on a business trip. He had had a delay of flights getting home after an eventful work week and he was just plain exhausted and pretty grumpy. I generally would have left him alone save for the fact that I was young and my dad just plain stunk. He reeked. From head to toe, his skin was oozing with the smell of stinking garlic. And my equally immature sister and I couldn't stop making fun of him all evening for it. Through gritted teeth as he likely prayed for some peace and quiet instead of these bounding little girls hurling insults, he did explain that the stench was because he had taken a client to "The Stinking Rose". This is a restaurant in San Francisco's Italian hood (North Beach) that infuses heavy garlic into everything on the menu. Everything. Every.Single.Thing. Pesto? Yup! Ravioli? You betcha. Ice Cream? But of course. So if you enjoy having some food with your garlic, it's definitely the place for you.

We were so annoying to him and he was so exhausted that evening that it's been kind of a famed memory for the three of us. And when Jay and I moved down to San Francisco last summer, I told my Dad that I would wait to break [garlic] bread at this restaurant until he came to visit me. So on their first night in SF, we did precisely just that.
^I took this picture of my dad and the restaurant and sent it to my sister right away for laughs. Look at that pretty city back there!
^They aren't kidding.
^One of my super pet-peeves is that people (non-Italians) always correct me when I say the word "gnocchi" even though I say it the way my Italian Nana taught me when we made it together... aka the proper way. So because we're talking about Italian food here and because another patron kept telling me I was saying it incorrectly and didn't believe me until the owner confirmed my version AND I'm watching "Teen Mom" as I type and Amber just said it incorrectly- I would like to take this moment to educate any naysayers about the proper pronunciation- HERE. Phew. Feels good to get that off my chest.
^I am Italian on my mom's side so we do most of the Italianesque stuff with her. It was fun to be in that environment with my Dad this time.
^Hey, good looking.
^Are you a bulbs or butt man?
^I got the Chicken and Asparagus Pasta: Fettuccine, Roasted Tomatoes, Pine Nuts, Asparagus and Chicken.
^Happy Jay.
^Everyone ate their food so fast, it was next to impossible to get a picture of it! Boo.
^We do not know these people but one of the guys wanted to get a group shot of all the Broncos fans who happened to be eating at The Stinking Rose. It made my family pretty excited to be around so many kindred spirits and it was a fun environment to get caught-up in on their first night in the city with the game days away.

So could you handle The Stinking Rose? Depends. If you don't like garlic at all, I would steer clear as it is completely unavoidable here and has a really strong presence. It's not pesto with a hint of garlic, it's pesto FULL of garlic. But if you can stomach that, I'd say it's definitely up your alley as the entire experience is very different from most restaurants. The spot stays true to its roots and the cuisine is pretty unrivaled in taste and creativity. I just wouldn't recommend it for a weekend trip with a relatively new boyfriend or girlfriend. The place is best visited with people who can stomach your garlic breath.

Or with your daughter who still laughs years later when she thinks of that night when you smelled so, so, so badly and were such a big grouch.

The Stinking Rose
Located in San Francisco's Little Italy in North Beach
325 Columbus Ave. | San Francisco | CA | 94133
Website Here

Mangiamo!
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