Thursday, April 10, 2014

Peanut Butter, Fish Tacos, Friends, and Doctors

I think it can safely be said that almost everything goes better with peanut butter and, if you know me, I will add it to almost anything for any meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, dessert, ... ). This week I tried a few new ways thanks to Facebook. I added it to oatmeal (along with bananas and craisins), plus made a quesadilla, also adding bananas (this would be better with dark chocolate peanut butter ... I'll have to do that next time for a dessert).

I also found time to run and have friends over a few times for some spectacular semi-homemade fish tacos. Using some gourmet fish sticks, we added a yogurt salsa dressing, fresh cabbage, pico de gallo, fresh guacamole, and cheese. All I can say ... two of us liked them enough to have them again two days later with another friend.

With a weekend full of friends, food and work, Monday brought more work, my first doctor appointment in about a year (might as well make use of the expensive healthcare I now have to pay for), plus a trip to Trader Joe's and Fleet Feet. Tuesday I was able to work, run and watch the Sacramento Republic FC win their first game, I'm looking forward to their home opener in a few weeks. In trying to catch up on everything on Wednesday, I made it to the optometrist at Costco too (first time to see one of those in almost two years), although not covered under the expensive healthcare, Costco offers a great deal and a friendly optometrist. After getting my new prescription (I'll be shopping for new glasses next week), I headed to Papa Murphy's to support Shriners Hospital by purchasing a pepperoni pizza for $5, and then finished the night at BloodSource ... giving blood and eating junk food, plus Costco's new BBQ sandwhich. With enough junk food eaten for awhile, today was slightly healthier ... peanut butter, bananas, chicken, vegetables, and freshly steamed artichokes from my Trader Joe's trip.
Pictures for those with iPads.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Kid-Sitting Around the World

It was a crazy week of traveling around the world, but all I had to do was head to my brother's house with my mom to kid-sit my two nephews and niece in Redwood City. After I finished up with Good Day Sacramento, my mom and I headed to the Livermore Premium Outlets (shopping and quick break so I could work) and then kept going to Redwood City. My brother and his wife left for a quick trip to Europe Friday morning, and my mom, dad and I took care of the kids, while also giving them a taste of other parts of the world.

Before I get to the tour around the world, I also must say we did lots of other fun things. There were swim lessons, taking kids to school (and picking them up), Opening Day Ceremonies for Little League, complete with mascots from the San Francisco Giants, the San Jose Giants, San Francisco 49ers, and the Oakland A's, fireworks, and a whole lot of kids with their parents. My dad and I also took the nephews to see The Lego Movie, my mom and I went to martial arts class, and there were a few trips to Target, Costco and Safeway (for essentials ... like Boston Cream Pie, Häagen-Dazs gelato and Redbox movies).

As for our "travels" ... we went to Italy a few times with pizza and pasta (complete with kid-made meatballs); France with French Toast and dessert crêpes; tacos from Mexico; Teriyaki chicken from Hawaii; stir-fry from Japan; waffles from Belgium; and, of course, hot dogs with macaroni and cheese from the U.S. With each meal my mom showed everyone where the country was on the map, we made flags and then sampled the cuisine. It was a fun way to get the kids to try new foods, while also making them feel special while their parents were half-way around the world on their own adventure.

Once I was back home, I kept up with the worldwide travels, after a dentist appointment. I had found a dentist in Rocklin that was good, but then was able to get in touch with my life-long dental hygienist (she's been the only dental hygienist I have had since I started going to the dentist) and decided it was best to stick with someone I knew and trusted. Since I didn't have any food at home, and I did have coupons for Chinese food, I stopped by CJF for honey walnut shrimp and sweet and sour pork for dinner (and lots of leftovers). Then on Friday went with a friend to Sam's Club where we decided it was time for Mexican. We bought the ingredients for enchiladas and then prepared them once we got back to my house. Over the course of the weekend I also found out that the new Ben & Jerry's "Core" ice cream flavors were on sale at Raley's ... needless to say, I bought (and shared) five of the flavors, all were amazing. My favorites included ones with chocolate, peanut butter and caramel. Finally there was a trip to Chili's (more Mexican, I had a quesidilla), church at Bayside and Rolling Hills, lunch at La Fiesta Taqueria, and I finished with sushi from Mikuni Kaizen at The Fountains.
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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Celebrating One Year with Food, Friends, Family and Good Day Sacramento

Over the last two weeks I celebrated one year of MrAndrewBradley Communications with friends, family and Good Day Sacramento. On the actual anniversary I had dinner at a friend's house ... pasta, salad and a mouth-watering peanut butter dessert. On Friday I went to where my friend was house-sitting, we took a sunset walk around the neighborhood and saw the sunset over Folsom Lake before meandering back to the house where I cooked turkey burgers and we had dessert while watching a few episodes of 24. On Saturday my parents and I headed to Lodi to see my grandma and try out a new restaurant thanks to Groupon. Our tapas style lunch was a fun mix of flavors, all served in creative ways and paired with wine.

After all of that eating and a few burritos from Chipolte and Freebirds, I enjoyed a run, corned beef for St. Patrick's Day and then showed off the cooking skills of Chef Krisztian Karkus from The Meritage Resort and Spa on Good Day Sacramento. He took a traditional slider for March Madness and made "Wiener Schnitzel Slider with Cucumber Salad and Lingonberry Jam" ... not only did the anchors love it, but the Jr. High students loved it as well ... so much so that we ended up making them all sliders before leaving.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Renovated Room and Women of the Vine

I headed back to The Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa this week to meet with a few reporters and to attend the Women of the Vine event hosted by MORE Uncorked® (More magazine). On Thursday I checked in to my newly renovated room with a balcony and vineyard/pool view before meeting up with a visiting reporter from Southern California. We shared drinks and an appetizer at Crush Ultra Lounge before I headed to dinner at The Commons: A Wine Bar. The schnitzel sliders were fantastic and the desserts (Green Tea Crème Brûlée and Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake) were also great and I was glad I was able to share them.

On Friday, after a day of working I met up with my colleague who does social media for The Meritage for a Friday night wine tasting with the MORE Uncorked® group and guests of The Meritage (every Friday night all guests are invited to a complimentary wine tasting). After the tasting, we headed to the Trinitas Cellars Library for more wine tasting (and found out they have wine glasses that can fit an entire bottle of wine ... new meaning to the phrase "I'm just going to have a glass of wine tonight"). After our "glass of wine" we headed back to The Meritage and Siena for dinner ... roasted beet salad, crispy squid, poached lobster with gnocchi, chocolate decadence cake and angel food cake with lemon verbena with berries. Since that obviously wasn't enough food, I went to Crush again for a glass of wine and beignets with a raspberry sauce.

Saturday was a little more leisurely. I started with a trip to the fitness studio and walk around the hillside vineyards up to the Grape Crusher Statue before picking up a bagged lunch from the chef and heading to Napa Smith Brewery. I had wanted to go to the taproom of the brewery since I met their team at Oktoberfest, but this was the first time I had the opportunity. I walked in with no real idea of what to expect and decided to order the 10 beer flight for $10. All were great beers and I headed out with a four pack of beers to drink once I got home. With a few extra minutes to spare, I decided to take my lunch to Kennedy Park and eat along the Napa River where I had kayaked a few years ago.

When I got back to The Meritage I met up with a reporter and headed back to the Trinitas Library for my favorite wine and chocolate pairing, then back to Crush Ultra Lounge with a reporter for a Crab Louis Salad. Next up we headed to the Grand Tasting Event with 30 of the Napa Valley women winemakers and proprietors. After the tasting event, talking with reporters and Amelia Ceja, I was a little too late to make it into the Estate Cave for dinner, but again ended up at Siena for dinner alongside a few reporters. The duck confit flat-bread was mouthwatering and the lamb osso bucco fell off the bone and into my mouth.

Sunday I slept in (thanks in part to daylight savings time), went to Crush Ultra Lounge for a chicken Panini and salad, then headed back to Roseville for a long run and some rest.
Photos for those with iPads.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Celebrating Peanut Butter and Pancake Days, Skiing and Friends

It was a week of varied experiences. I used my Chick-Fil-A Calendar Card for an order of free fries (and also ordered a wrap and ice cream sundae) while out to dinner with a friend, then joined my parents for the weekend at the Bradley Lodge. My dad and I got a beautiful day of skiing in at Bear Valley ... beautiful since so much snow had fallen. My mom and grandma went all out on dinner and we celebrated Peanut Butter Day with a dessert of Reese's Chips Ahoy Cookies and Reese's Peanut Butter Pie (funny part ... we had no idea it was going to be Peanut Butter Day in advance, we just already had those items and it made for a good excuse to eat them). On Sunday I met with with friends at Rolling Hills Christian Church for a night of worship and baptism and then we headed to dinner at Casa Ramos ... my plate of food was giant (I actually brought leftovers home). On Tuesday I found out it was Pancake Day and figured I should celebrate. I made a few pancakes for my roommates and me to enjoy ... I topped mine with berries and peanut butter.
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Scandal, Running, Moving a Friend and National Margarita Day

Some weeks start off with no plans and then end up incredibly busy. This was one of those weeks. On Monday night I got a text from a friend that invited me to hear Judy Smith as part of the Sacramento Speaker Series. On Tuesday we met at Pronto to have dinner, headed over to Devine Gelateria & Cafe for dessert and then walked to the Convention Center Theater to hear Judy Smith speak about her experience working in the White House, handling crisis PR for a variety of high profile clients and even learning more about the ABC television show, Scandal. Although there wasn't much I learned from her PR wise (hours are crazy, do what's right, manage a crisis, ...), her stories were interesting and I'll have to start watching Scandal on Netflix soon (after I catch up on House of Cards).

On Wednesday I downloaded the new Outback Steakhouse 365 iPhone app and found out the special was a three-course dinner for $11.99. I don't pass up nearly free meals out, so I met a friend at Outback, enjoyed their French Onion Soup, a steak with side of vegetables and cheesecake for just $11.99.

Although it wasn't Outback, I did make enchiladas for the first time as well, a pre-National Margarita Day celebration and an effort to use up the enchilada sauce and olives that I have had in my pantry for awhile. I'm happy to say that they tasted amazing!

There was also running (including jumping over a creek), shopping at Old Navy for additional workout shirts (and the longest receipts ever). I also found time to clean out my closet and celebrate National Margarita Day with friends at Chevys after helping another set of friends move into their new apartment and even tried out some nachos from Taco Bell.

Now ... time to try out Chromecast.
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Monday, February 17, 2014

Masters and Makers @ Meritage and a Ski Trip to Bear Valley

I arrived at The Meritage Resort and Spa on Thursday before the inaugural Masters and Makers @ Meritage event that started on Friday. In an effort to be healthier on this trip I brought my own breakfast (bananas and peanut butter) and purchased one sandwich at Blend to have for lunch on Thursday and Friday. I think it worked out well and it will be a good plan for future visits when I'm staying for multiple days. Thursday evening for dinner I continued to try out new menus, this time at The Commons: A Wine Bar (formerly the lobby bar). I started with a wine flight and seasonal vegetables before trying two different entrees ... grilled cheese and Filet Mignon sliders. Both were fantastic and great versions of comfort foods that also paired well with the wines I was trying.

The first event on Friday was aptly titled "The Masters and The Makers" ... in essence a wine tasting with a wine maker, winery owner and a few wine buyers. I learned a lot, like oak barrels not only are made of American and French oak, but also Russian oak (a forest near Sochi is used by Trinitas Cellas during the aging process for some of its wines). There was also the astounding, yet not too shocking, statement that most wine in the US is consumed within a few hours/days of purchase. Lots of other notes were taken, but those two facts were among my top memories. After wine tasting I had time for a quick workout before dinner in the Estate Cave featuring wines from Pine Ridge Vineyards. The multi-course dinner, each paired with a different wine was among the best meals I've had in a long time and the reporters (who I assume eat out even more than I do) commented on how good it was.

Saturday there were three options for morning activities: winery tours, a blending experience (making and trying your own wine by blending a few red varietals), and a cooking class featuring Trinitas Cellars wines. I helped with the Winery Tour, which I had been on once before a few months ago. We started at Grgich Hills for a tour of the winery and cheese/wine pairing. Then we went to Pine Ridge Vineyards for wine tasting, a tour of their amazing caves and lunch, and finished at The Meritage and Trinitas Cellars for a wine/chocolate pairing. That night The Meritage hosted the "Gala and Grand Tasting" featuring 80+ wineries from the Napa Valley and Sonoma County, plus multiple food stations staffed by the resort's culinary team. My goal was to try all the food, and although I think I missed a few items, I got to most of them, all spectacular ... next year I'll have to try more of the wines too.

Although I wasn't sure about it when I set my alarm for 3:30 a.m. on Sunday, I knew I wanted to try to go skiing with my family at Bear Valley on Sunday (yes this is the reason why I didn't sample too many wines the night before). My alarm went off and I decided to do it ... I packed and was in my car heading up the mountain a few minutes after 4 a.m. I made it to the Bradley Lodge just before 7 a.m. After a quick breakfast and getting my ski stuff together (luckily I keep it all there), we loaded up the cars and headed up the mountain while getting a light dusting of snow as we got close. Although skiing in the snow is fun, we had my two nephews with us, so we were glad that the sun came out right as we were exiting the Bear Valley lodge and heading onto the slopes. It was a great day of skiing and both of my nephews did great, the oldest one is getting really good (and reminds me of me when I was young ... go straight down the hill, without turning, as quickly as possible). Once back at the Bradley Lodge it was great just to relax a little, eat well, and hang out with my family including one cousin's little baby and another cousin who had flown in from Boston for the weekend.
Pictures for those with iPads.
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