My family has a little love affair with the Hawaiian Islands.
Growing up in Southern California, Hawaii was the go-to tropical get-away. Our first visit to Hawaii was way back in 1990, when my high school football team was invited to play the undefeated Hawaiian team. The entire J.V. and Varsity football teams, both sets of cheerleaders (hi!), and all of our parents descended on the island of Oahu as a pack. It was the best trip: not only was my family there, but I was frolicking around on the beach with my very best friends AND my boyfriend. I talked Amanda into jumping off a very high cliff with me into the sea. I had my first real kiss in the breaking surf at sunset in Honolulu. Our football team beat theirs, 40-0. And I received my “hula certification.” (I’m the one in the matching purple two-piece skorts ensemble.)
My family was hooked. We threw the “hang loose” sign around for months afterward. (Nice hair. And belt. And hat. And I wonder where I get my skinny legs?)
Since, either all together or on separate trips, we’ve visited Oahu, Maui, the Big Island, and Kauai. Kauai was by far my favorite; it’s lush and small and bohemian and perfect. And we’ve got a family trip planned for next month!
You just know this landlocked, snowbound girl is simply counting the seconds. I dug up some of my favorite photos from that trip in 2009. Tropical hikes. Seal friends. Secret beaches. Dolphins. Cliff jumping. Waterfalls. The majestic Na Pali Coast. Enchanting!
It’s a magical island and I cannot wait to explore more of it!
I’d love your must-see/must-do/must-eat recommendations for the island of Kauai. Share with me!
I always seem to have lemons on hand this time of year.
It could be my pre-spring craving for color. It could be that brightness a hit of lemon brings to a dish. It’s about time for me to make my favorite homemade lemonade, and we do eat a lot of fish (lemon is the perfect partner). So I was immediately drawn to Shutterbean’s lemon chicken recipe! I love Tracy’s gorgeous food photos; the lemon chicken looked like the perfect combination of flavor and comfort. The recipe calls for chicken thighs, which my dear friend Nancy turned me on to- they are generally more flavorful than chicken breasts, and are a great bargain! Aside from the thighs, I had all of the ingredients on hand.
I started by swirling some olive oil in the bottom of a baking dish and then nestling the chicken thighs into it. I chopped up some garlic and onion.
In a bowl, I combined the onion and garlic with more oil and a handful each of thyme and oregano. I sliced up a shallot I wanted to use up and added it to the bowl, too. And we can’t forget the lemon! I juiced a lemon and a half right into the bowl and gave it all a good stir before pouring it right over the chicken. With a big spoon, I stirred the chicken and onion/garlic mixture in the baking dish.
Before baking the chicken, I added more lemon, tucking slices in between the chicken. A little salt, a little pepper, and into the oven it went!
How gorgeous is this?
With a sprinkling of chopped parsley, we served the lemony chicken over rice and roasted parmesan broccolini. The thighs were tender and juicy- I made sure to scoop some of the delectable onions and juice over the chicken. The lemon flavor is significant but mellows out in the oven. This meal is delicious- and quite simple. Yum!
The next time I make this lemon chicken, I think I’ll use chicken thighs with the skin on- I can imagine the crispy baked bits would be scrumptious. I was a little light on the seasoning- I’ll be more generous with the salt and pepper. A smidge of honey in the onion mixture might also be a fun addition, to tweak the flavor and add a bit of sweetness!
Or I might just do things the exact same way…because we both cleared our plates.
Do you have a favorite lemon recipe? Share with me!
- 1 ½ lbs. chicken thighs
- 1/3 cup olive oil (plus more for the baking dish)
- Juice of 1 ½ large lemons
- 5-6 slices of lemon
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- Teaspoon of dried thyme
- Teaspoon of dried oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Italian parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Swirl olive oil in the bottom of a baking dish. Add the chicken thighs and set aside.
In a bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, onion, garlic, thyme, and oregano. Pour over the chicken and toss to coat. Nestle lemon slices around the chicken and season with salt and pepper.
Bake chicken for 30-40 minutes until chicken is cooked through and juice is bubbling. Cover the pan and let sit for a few minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve over rice- don’t forget to spoon the juices over the top! Yum!
Hungry for more? Check out the collection of recipes on the FOOD BLISS link.
One year ago: I introduced my Travel Bliss page!
It’s BLISS BITS Wednesday!
I simply can’t say a bad thing about today. I slept well. The sky is blue and I hear birds serenading me outside my window. Welcome specks of green are poking through the soil. Our home will be full of family tomorrow night and I look forward to sprucing up the house for their arrival. We’ve been feeling a lot of love lately- from many angles, from near and far. Days like today make it easy to point out the bits of good in life. Here are a few of them.
Fog and peaks.
Eerie morning light.
I can’t stop eating satsumas!
Cholula was frantically excited for new bumblebees.
I went vintage shopping and they gave me a donut. Smart tactic: I bought things.
What a view from Sugarhouse Park in SLC!
The drive home after the lovely park time in the valley.
Poor Lambie didn’t stand a chance.
Snow days and double chocolate cookies are a good match.
Orange on brown.
I made a lemony Greek-ish pasta salad! Stay tuned.
My favorite hiking trail these days.
Sometimes I turn around and find this.
My favorite hues.
We went on a brunch date this weekend.
Breakfast needs dessert, too! Delish pecan praline.
Banksy in Park City.
A quiet morning.
I’ll tell you all about this spicy veggie Asian noodle dish!
Yesterday was an amazing day.
Chef Hubby made me an eggplant parmesan sammie!
One year ago, the sky looked like this.
Two years ago, John and I took my folks to Sundance!
Three years ago, I was in Mexico with Sarah.
Four years ago, I was…in Mexico with Sarah.
And this morning, someone reclaimed her warm-weather neighborhood watch spot.
You know. Just the usual bliss.
One year ago: The lovely Kate featured me in her Project 30 Series.
It’s no secret that I love color. Our house looks like we hired Rainbow Brite as the decorator. My closet is an explosion of pattern and brightness.
I think part of why these last months of winter are challenging for me is the lack of color; while beautiful, the often-monochromatic landscape wears on me. So I simply fell in love with a concept I spied on 3191 Miles Apart over the weekend: seeking bits of the color wheel in life. I found it to be a lovely exercise in recognizing and celebrating the vibrancy in every day.
What a glorious rainbow!
One year ago: The best camping surprise ever: The Adventure Tent.
Winter lasts a long time here.
When I was growing up in Southern California, new bathing suits were already purchased by the end of February in preparation for spring break beach days. This weekend, my best friend is ecstatic about rain in the LA forecast so she can bundle up and be cozy. Even with the mild winter we’ve had this year, I’m growing tired of bundling up and had a dream about wearing flip flops last night.
My spring fever arrives like clockwork every year, sometime toward the end of February when a handful of warm-ish days get my inner sun-worshipper stirring. Come August, I know that I will be looking forward to the cozy, wet days on the way. The monsoon season will be welcome relief to the summer heat- an excuse to dig out my slippers and daydream about comfort food and the hibernation season that I’m in right now. I’m trying to keep it all in perspective with another 6 weeks of solid winter weather ahead!
A couple of weeks ago, we had a big snow dump. One of the good things about a snow day is that even if you aren’t recreating, you can still get plenty of exercise. I pulled out the shovel and went to town, working up a sweat… and my appetite.
I wouldn’t normally think of making chicken salad in wintertime, unless I’m trying to use up leftovers. But I’d spied a new twist on the classic recipe going around Pinterest, and had some Greek yogurt and apples to use up- a perfect fit! I started by seasoning and grilling two chicken breasts on the indoor grill, pretending I was grilling outside on the BBQ wearing flip flops.
While the chicken cooked, I chopped up an apple and half of an onion. I also sliced sliced a pile of grapes in half and gave a rough chop to some almonds.
It all went into a bowl, along with a handful of dried cranberries. The sauce was made up of Greek yogurt, fresh lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper. How easy is this?
While John cut up the grilled chicken into bite-sized chunks, I added our beloved hot sauce to the bowl. We like heat! The chicken joined the party, and it was time to assemble sandwiches for dinner.
Onto a lightly browned roll, I scooped plenty of the chunky chicken salad and topped it with fresh peppery arugula. We ate our sammies with home fries on the side. Each bite was a little bit salty and a little bit sweet, with all sorts of textures going on. The sauce was light and fresh, not heavy and overly creamy. The lemon added a happy brightness. Though the table was now completely covered in a mound of fresh snow, I imagined I was dining on the patio in a sundress.
And then I put on my slippers and snuggled into a cozy throw blanket with John and Cholula. No matter what time of year, I’ve really got nothing to complain about.
But after a long winter, flip flops will sure feel good.
Chicken Salad with Greek Yogurt, Apples, and Cranberries (recipe adapted from Damn Delicious)
- Two chicken breasts
- Half of an onion, chopped
- One small apple, chopped
- ½ cup grapes, halved
- ½ cup dried cranberries or blueberries
- ½ cup chopped almonds (or any nut)
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- juice of half of a lemon
- Teaspoon of garlic powder
- Teaspoon of hot sauce (we like Cholula!)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Grill the chicken breasts and chop into bite sized chunks.
In a bowl, combine chicken with all of the ingredients and stir to combine. Serve over arugula leaves, with crackers, or on a freshly toasted bun. Wear flip flops, just for fun. Yum!
Hungry for more? Check out the collection of recipes on the FOOD BLISS link!
One year ago: A few day spa horror stories and one delightful experience.
It’s BLISS BITS Wednesday!
Admittedly, this is a rough time of the year for me. As much as I try to “enjoy the moment,” I find myself browsing summer dresses online. Pinning warm weather destinations like crazy. Scrolling through photos of our garden in its vibrant glory and getting dirt under my nails (if only by re-potting indoor plants). Bothering John to take me to the desert. Or the beach. Today, I hiked in the sunshine without a jacket and have the windows open at home. But I know better than to get comfortable; a snowstorm is rolling in this weekend. So I’ll munch on fresh pineapple and play my mom’s Beach Boys album and smile.
Because spring always comes.
Here are bits of bliss from my week!
I revisited a long-lost enchilada recipe. Delish!
Right after this photo, I got caught in a white-out and slid down the trail on my bum. Oops.
Can you believe this lovely bloom grows in Amanda’s backyard?
Not a cloud in sight.
I have a weakness for Marcona almonds.
I want to see the world through a 9-year old’s eyes!
Messy, greedy birds live here.
John made me this lovely breakfast.
He also sent me this Papa/Puppy selfie.
Our friends sent us satsumas from their farm!
A love letter from a dear friend. I love snail mail!
It’s totally time for tulips.
I watched Sliding Doors for the first time.
I made this power soup and it was delicious.
Sometimes you need to find a new forest. Love this.
Happy re-potted plant.
This morning’s hiking fuel.
I believe this!
One year ago, it snowed… a LOT.
Two years ago, I was celebrating with Durango ladies at Sarah’s baby shower!
Three years ago, it snowed…a LOT.
And right this second, I’m enjoying the sunshine through the open door next to my desk.
You know. Just the usual bliss.
“Simply be who you are, do what you do best, be where you are called by joy, and let life work its magic on your behalf.” – Alan Cohen
Five or six years ago, some friends hosted a fabulous New Year’s Eve fondue party. Decadent cheeses, broths, and flavored oils bubbled away in little pots. There were various dip-ables- raw shrimp, steak, or chicken; a rainbow of fresh veggies; chunks of crusty bread. We skewered and cooked the goods in the oil or broth (sometimes after a swipe in a bowl of tempura batter). For extra goodness, the dripping cheese came last. After a midnight champagne dance party, we dunked poundcake and strawberries in melted chocolate. It was so much fun!
For our Superbowl date in the kitchen, John and I tackled a fondue recipe for our main snack during the game. Giada rarely steers me wrong, but the last time I’d fondued was in 2008! This recipe called for Italian sausage and beer- perfect football snacking. I started by toasting some the crostini (that would later shovel the cheese into our mouths).
After slicing a baguette and arranging the bread on a baking sheet, I combined a little olive oil, chopped garlic, dried oregano, and crushed fennel seed. I brushed the chunky mixture over each slice of baguette and toasted them for about 15 minutes. Yum!
After getting some fresh air before kickoff, we dove into the fondue. John chopped up some onion while I started browning spicy Italian sausage in a little bit of oil (with salt, pepper, and more fennel for added flavor). In went the onions!
I combined beer and Dijon mustard while John shredded cheese. A lot of cheese. It IS fondue, after all! We used cheddar, gruyere, and parmesan.
When the sausage was browned and the onions were tender, I sprinkled a bit of flour into the pan. After a couple of minutes (to cook off the flour flavor), I poured in the beer/mustard mixture and let it simmer. And you know what comes next.
Cheese. A lot of cheese.
I let the cheese melt slowly, stirring and folding it onto itself until it was a bubbly, fabulous mess. Bits of onion and chunks of sausage were everywhere! We scooped some of the fondue into a bowl and started snacking as the coin toss was happening. I’m pretty sure we missed it because our attention was diverted to the fondue. In the end, our delectable cheese/sausage dip was far more captivating than the football game ended up being (ouch).
The cheeses melted beautifully together into a velvety texture. You certainly don’t need to make the crostini to enjoy the fondue, but it added a crunch and an herb-y garlic flavor that really set off the Dijon and beer notes in the fondue. It was positively delicious. We had to stop ourselves from eating too much!
I’ll save this recipe for a big crowd next time- I actually had to switch pans (to our giant wok!) halfway through this recipe because it made so much! It’s certainly not a recipe for two. I also wished that the cheese stayed warm, longer; our kitchen bowl set-up is not fondue-worthy.
But don’t worry. I fixed that problem.
Beer/Cheese Fondue with Italian Sausage (via Giada de Laurentiis)
- 1 cup brown ale or lager (room temperature)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed
- ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups sharp white cheddar, grated
- 2 cups fontina, grated (we substituted gruyere)
- ½ cup Parmesan, grated
Mix together the beer and mustard. Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large nonstick skillet. Add the sausage, onions, fennel, salt, and pepper. Break up the sausage and brown until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Stir in the flour. Add the beer mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer. Add the cheeses, stirring constantly, until the cheeses have melted completely. Keep warm in a fondue pot and serve with herbed crostini (below). Be sure to invite a ton of friends over to help you eat it all. YUM.
- Baguette, sliced
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons oregano
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet. Mix the olive oil, garlic, oregano, and fennel in a small bowl. Brush the chunky mixture over the baguette slices. Salt and pepper. Bake until lightly toasted, about 12 minutes. Dunk in cheesy goodness. YUM.
Hungry for more? There’s a big old list of recipes on the FOOD BLISS link!
A photo-happy person like me always has a camera with them. I’m the first to whip out my iPhone to save a moment. I’ve got a point-and-shoot camera stashed in my purse at all times. I’ve been wanting to explore photography more, and a “big girl” camera was high on my wish list for the holidays. Santa delivered, and I’m the proud owner of a Canon EOS 60D digital SLR.
And it’s been sitting in its case since Christmas.
I don’t like to fail, and I’ve been so intimidated by the complexity of this camera that I’ve avoided it completely. Aperture. Depth of field. F Stop. PPI. I’ve secretly been afraid that I’m in over my head here. Sure, it has an automatic setting, but a point-and-shoot camera works for that- the point was to grow and learn. So recently, I took a friend’s advice and just started taking photos.
My first challenge has been to learn to be comfortable with manual focus. I love how you can really pinpoint which part of the image you want to be sharp (and which parts to blur). I’m still in the auto mode in every other way, but I’m getting the hang of this part- and having a blast with my new toy!
I don’t have a zoom lens yet (I get that when I “graduate” from big girl camera school), and I have yet to play around with the other manual settings- but it’s obvious that this hobby is just beginning.
Camera pros: What are your best tips for a beginner? Share with me!
One year ago: Tandoori-ish chicken and the best leftovers ever.