Monday, January 30, 2012

Big News - Urology Match!

Life has been very busy the past couple of weeks! There’s been lots of excitement, so I won’t delay in getting you caught up!

On the 18th, we celebrated my birthday by going to a nice dinner at an Italian place that’s been on our list to try for a while called Scoozi. The food was delicious and we had a great night! I got some awesome gifts from Bryan as well!! We kept our celebrations low key because we knew that we’d be having a big match day celebration the next week.

And now for the big news… It’s all official now so it can show up on the blog!

Time seemed to creep by while we waited for match day on the 23rd. You see, throughout the fall Bryan interviewed for urology residencies all over the country and we compiled his rank list of these programs and submitted it on January 5th. The 2 ½ week wait took forever and the weekend just before was agonizing! We tried to keep ourselves busy during this time, but we just couldn’t wait to find out where we would be going!

On Monday morning, the 23rd, we found out that he matched at his first choice, Cleveland Clinic! He is so happy that he will have the opportunity to train at one of the best urology programs in the country! Additionally, I will be going back to school for a masters in nutrition this fall. I was accepted at Case Western Reserve University back in December!  We are both extremely excited for this new chapter in our lives!

Bryan has been so on top of things in the past week! He found us a realtor and a mortgage broker and we have an appointment set to go house hunting in Cleveland in 2 weeks! So exciting!!

Thanks everyone for your love and support during this time of our lives! We couldn’t have done it without you!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mixed Greens Salad with Pears, Goat Cheese and Fig Vinaigrette + 1 Week Until Match Day!

On Friday, we had plans to join our great friends Ruthie, Taylor, and their 4 month old son Oliver for dinner at their house. Upon their request, we brought salad and bread. I had a taste for a pear and goat cheese salad, and with a simple online search, this recipe showed up and deemed itself exactly what I was craving. And I was intrigued by the fig vinaigrette! The salad is a cinch to put together once the vinaigrette is made and it was definitely devoured! It was so delicious! Pears and goat cheese are an obvious combination, but the figs, green onions, garlic and balsamic went together perfectly to push this salad over the top! It is definitely going to turn into my go-to salad for a while!

I've been reading the Hunger Games series and have loved them so much they've basically taken over any free time in my life. I started last Friday when I flew to CA and I'm about a fourth of the way through the last book already! If you have not read them, you definitely should before the first book comes out as a movie in March. You can see the trailer here.

Also of note - in just one week we will find out where Bryan is matched for his residency in urology! We are beyond excited and a little nervous waiting for the moment when we find out where we will be for the next 5-6 years! An update shall follow when we know...

Meanwhile, try this salad and it will knock your socks off!

Mixed Greens Salad with Pears, Goat Cheese and Fig Vinaigrette
Adapted from My Recipes

Salad: 6 cups mixed greens
1 thinly sliced pear
1/4 cup (1oz) crumbled goat cheese

Fig Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
5 dried Black Mission figs, stemmed and coarsely chopped
6 tbsp water
1 tbsp lemon juice
3-4 shallots, diced
1 tsp thyme
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

Combine balsamic vinegar and figs in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced to 1/3 cup (about 5 minutes). Combine the fig mixture, water and lemon juice in a food processor (or blender) until smooth.

Place fig mixture in a small bowl. Stir in shallots, thyme and garlic. Add extra virgin olive oil and salt. Stir well with a whisk or fork.

Place greens on individual plates, top with sliced pears and goat cheese. Drizzle fig vinaigrette over each salad and serve immediately.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Newport Beach, California

I spent this weekend in California visiting my sisters for my oldest sister's baby shower! It's been very relaxing and full of activity at the same time. Yesterday, my sister and I went for a run on Newport Beach, followed by an afternoon of lounging around and I spent a good amount of time reading the first book in the Hunger Games series. I'm hooked and into book two already!

The baby shower for my other sister went great today and it was great to see her baby bump and spend some quality time with her! Both Bryan and I will come back to CA in April to meet the new little boy! Nephew #2 is coming in early February!

You may see a link up to my glazed gingerbread scones on this post of Sweet As Sugar Cookies as a part of a post full of sweets! How fun :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

NYE Chicago!

As I mentioned, we had friends come visit us for the New Years weekend, and it was amazing!!! Not only was New Years Eve fun, with food and drinks, but the rest of the weekend was also great! On Sunday, we had a delicious brunch and a relaxing afternoon of coffee drinking and playing games. Late in the afternoon, we made our way to the IMAX theater on Navy Pier to see the new Mission Impossible movie. It was so intense!

After the movie, we came home and prepared dinner together. We had creamy leek and potato soup as well as grilled chicken caesar salads! Both were delicious and the perfect comfort food on a snowy January night!

We spent the rest of the evening chit chatting and playing a few games, including Just Dance on the Wii. It was legendary.

Dimitri watched from his perch above 

Mad Gabs 

First snow of the new year!

Just Dance!!! (Yes this is blurry, but it also shows the intensity of fun we were having!)

Happy New Year!

Glazed Gingerbread Scones

For New Years breakfast, I also made gingerbread scones for everyone to enjoy! I have never made anything gingerbread before, and I have also never attempted to make scones prior to this and I have to admit I was a little intimidated. However, I am proud to say they turned out perfectly and were certainly a hit with the crowd! I am actually going to make another batch today so that I can have yummy breakfasts throughout the week!

Glazed Gingerbread Scones
Adapted from The Village Cook

2 cups flour
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup softened butter
1 egg yolk (reserve white)
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup milk
Cream cheese frosting

In a bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In another bowl, mix the egg yolk, molasses, butter and milk.

Gently combine the two mixtures, being careful not to over mix.

Flatten dough into a 1 inch thick portion and cut into triangles or circles.

Arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet 1 inch apart.

Brush with the reserved egg white and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake in a preheated 400 oven for 8-12 minutes.

Remove while still slightly soft.

Let cool and drizzle with frosting.

Goat Cheese, Artichoke, and Smoked Ham Strata

This year for New Years, we decided to celebrate in Chicago with friends who traveled from Minnesota to visit for the weekend! We started the evening off right with some cocktails, baked brie bites, and tomato basil crostini. We walked to dinner at DeCero, a local favorite and came back to our place for more drinks and dessert of leftover Christmas goodies which included the amazing oreo cheesecake truffles! We rang in the new year with a champagne toast to old friends, a great 2011 filled with weddings and memories, and to all the new things to come in 2012!

I planned a baked egg dish ahead of time for New Years Day breakfast. I prepared it the day before and let it sit in the fridge overnight so that all I had to do in the morning was pop it in the oven! Simple and handy when guests are still sleeping! I had my eye on this strata for a while after we had it at a friends house a while back. It is so delicious and was perfect for the occasion! It is hardy and filling without being too heavy. The cheeses blend the sharp tastes from the spices and artichokes together so that each bite is perfect. Give this dish a try the next time you need to feed a crowd for breakfast and it is sure to be a success!!

Goat Cheese, Artichoke and Smoked Ham Strata
From Epicurious

2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup olive oil
8 cups 1-inch cubes sourdough bread, crusts trimmed
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
12 ounces soft fresh goat cheese (such as Montrachet), crumbled (about 3 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
12 ounces smoked ham, chopped
3 6 1/2-ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained, halved lengthwise (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 cup (packed) grated Fontina cheese
1 1/2 cups (packed) grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Whisk milk and oil in large bowl. Stir in bread. Let stand until liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
Whisk cream and next 5 ingredients in another large bowl to blend. Add goat cheese. Mix herbs in small bowl to blend.
Place half of bread mixture in prepared dish. Top with half of ham, artichoke hearts, herbs, and cheeses. Pour half of cream mixture over. Repeat layering with remaining bread, ham, artichoke hearts, herbs, cheeses, and cream mixture. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)
Bake uncovered until firm in center and brown around edges, about 1 hour.