Monday, December 27, 2010

30 by 30

I will turn 30 in January of 2014. That gives me nearly 3 years to make a go at this benchmark birthday list. Note to self-no excuses.

1. Learn to sew...something. And then practice it to further the skill.
2. Landscape the backyard.
3. Take an epic trip.
4. Go to the Getty.
5. Find my perfect shade of red lipstick.
6. Do a daring activity. Possibly sky diving.
7. Find an exercise activity beyond walking and do it regularly not sporadically.
8. Visit the south.
9. Go to Napa.
10. Find some coveralls and take a tour of the space under our house. The attic and I are already acquainted.
11. Find my favorite bottle of wine. Not just the cheap stuff.
12. Make a fabulous four course dinner.

13-30 have not been defined, but then again I have the next 3 years to figure them out.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas, from the Haseltons!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Phoenix Karaoke-Thank You-Have a Nice Day

I have no idea why it has taken me so long to go Karaoke Asian style. OMG it is amazing. Private rooms with T-Pain-like acoustics and goofy visuals behind the lyrics. Add in smuggled beer and wine and it is a party.

And since it's private, you don't have to wait for the general public to have their turn and hope you get the opportunity-I sang about 10 songs, and all together we probably sang close to 30. It was EPIC. I even stayed out until 11:30 on a work night. Who's a grandma?!?!

Such a natural. If I don't say so myself.

Not everyone wanted their photo taken.

The lovely Ms. Lappin channeling her inner James Taylor or perhaps a Backstreet Boy.

The Crew. After we got rid of the booze.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Raining Cats and Dogs

Gratuitous shot of my cat since I don't have a kid.

We have had rain four days straight in Southern California. The rain is constant, heavy at times, and thus makes for many Murphy's Law scenarios.

1. The locks on my car have gone bad. Not just the driver side, but now the passenger. Not sure if I'll be able to drive to work today.

2. The kitchen ceiling is leaking. I just KNEW something was going to happen during this storm! It's by no means bad, but I am an expert worrier and thus very concerned since the worst of the storm is this afternoon and tonight. Everything is a first in the new house. We've now been through a heat wave and days of downpours.

It's times like these I'm glad I don't live on a hill.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Adventures in Babysitting

It's been a good 10 years since I babysat anyone willingly until my nephew came along. I watched him for a few hours on Thursday night and it was a complete joy. He sat on my lap, chewed on Sophie the giraffe, clutched his buddy, and giggled up a storm at Oliver. If I didn't have him on my right and Oliver napping at my lap, I would have taken a photo our troupe.

I did get one though:
Oliver did not know what to make of this mini human who wanted to pet him. He strategically positioned himself nestled next to me on the opposite side. Again, no photo. Having a baby renders me immobile with the use of extra limbs.

Real Simple Dinners

The grocery gods must have been reading my blog because my first issue of Real Simple came last Friday and in it-5 days worth of weeknight meals. My shopping list was so easy to make! Being my first issue I'm not sure if they do this each time, but I definitely enjoy if so.

Here's some suggestions for those out there looking for some new ideas during the week.

MONDAY (economical, easy)
Barbecue pork sandwiches

Cut one pork tenderloin crosswise in 4 pieces. Place in saucepan with 1/2 cup barbecue sauce, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, and 1/2 cup water. Simmer, covered until fork tender, 18-20 minutes. Shred the meat and serve on buns with potato chips. They also suggested coleslaw and pickles, but they aren't in my house.
Review: Tasty! Made enough for four sandwiches so we both had a great leftovers the next day. And of course, I added provolone because a meal without cheese is a meal not worth having.

TUESDAY (heart healthy)
Spiced cod with broccoli quinoa pilaf
3 tbs olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
2 cups chopped broccoli
1/4 raisins (I omitted)
1/2 cup chopped almonds (I omitted)
2 scallions, sliced
2 6 oz skinless cod, halibut, or striped bass filet
1/2 tsp paprika

Heat 1 tsp of oil in saucepan over med-high heat. Add onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened and starting to brown, 3-4 mins.

Add the quinoa and 1 1/2 cups water to saucepan and bring to a boil; reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer gently until almost all water has evaporated, 10-12 minutes. Fold the broccoli and raisins into the quinoa, cover and cook until the quinoa and broccoli are tender, 8-10 mins more. Remove from heat and fold in almonds, scallions, salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil in skillet over med-high heat. Season the cod with paprika, salt and pepper and cook until opaque, 3-4 minutes.

Even more meanwhile, I served this with roasted butternut squash for some more color. And Scott likes two sides.
Rating: Fish was ok. I think we enjoy halibut more (only could find cod). Pilaf was great as was the butternut squash.

WEDNESDAY (one pot)
Chicken with white beans and tomatoes

1 15 oz can cannellini beans, rinsed (I used garbanzo)
1 pint grape tomatoes
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh oregano (I forgot this, used dried)
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (I used boneless, skinless)

Heat oven to 425. In a 9 x 13 baking dish, toss the beans, tomatoes with the thyme and oregano, garlic, red pepper, olive oil, salt and pepper .

Pat chicken dry and place on top of the bean mixture (skin side up, if you are using skinned). Rub with oil, season with salt and pepper.

Roast until chicken is golden and cooked through, 35-45 mins. Sprinkle with oregano leaves (if you remembered to buy them.)
Review: Tasty. Big points for a one pot meal. Good leftovers the next day too.

THURSDAY (slow cooker)
Coffee-braised brisket with potatoes and carrots

1 med onion, quartered
6 small potatoes, halved
1/2 lb carrots, cut into 2" pieces
Beef brisket (I think mine was about 1.5 pounds)
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1/2 cup brewed black coffee
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 tbs packed brown sugar
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley
Country bread (optional)

In the bottom of a slow cooker, combine the onion, potatoes, and carrots. Season the beef with salt and pepper and place on top the vegetables.

In a small bowl, whisk together the tomato paste, coffee, Worcestshire sauce, and brown sugar; pour over the beef and veggies. Cover and cook on low until tender, about 8 hours.

Slice the beef across the grain and serve with veggies and sauce, sprinkled with parsley. Serve with bread if desired.
Review: Love the convenience of a crock pot and the smell upon entering the house. My brisket was still a bit tough, even with the extended "keep warm" setting. Ok overall.

Flaky Mushroom and Gruyere Tarts (vegetarian)
1 sheet puff pastry (half a 17.3-ounce package), thawed
4 tablespoons olive oil
10 ounces assorted mushrooms (such as button, cremini, shiitake, and oyster), sliced
1 shallot, sliced
kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 ounces Gruyère or sharp white Cheddar, grated (1 cup)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
4 ounces mixed greens (6 cups)
2 radishes, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Heat oven to 400° F. Unfold the pastry and cut it into 4 squares. Place the squares on a parchment-lined baking sheet and, using a fork, prick the dough all over.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and shallot and season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the mushrooms are browned and tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook until nearly evaporated, about 1 minute more.

Dividing evenly, sprinkle the pastry squares with half the cheese, leaving a ½-inch border on each. Top with the mushroom mixture and remaining cheese. Bake until the pastry is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add the greens and radishes and toss to coat. Serve the tarts with the salad and sprinkle with the chives.
Hands down my favorite of the week. Simple, delicious, and I definitely had more than my share.

All photos and recipes courtesy of Real Simple Magazine.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Smog Check Fairy

A few weeks ago, I went to AAA to pay our car registrations (it's the most wonderful time of the year with those due now too!) and it was the first time I actually opened the entire form. Oh look, we both need smog checks. And I'm already here. Curses to one and all. So, I pay, for validating the trip, and get the list for AAA-approved smog check locations.

Fast forward a week and I make my appointment for Wednesday at 12:30, to go during my lunch hour. It should also be noted I'm driving Scott's truck today because we're picking up couches and because the smog check will get done. I arrive, tell them I'm Erin with the 12:30 appointment and am met with,

"Oh yeah, you're the 12:30."

"Yep, that's me."

"The mechanic went to lunch. I guess he forgot you were coming. Well, here let's fill out some forms. I'm not really sure how much it is." WTF? There is a giant sign behind him with posted pricing. Truck smog check reads $65. And why did the mechanic go to lunch?

"Well the sign behind you says $65 and when is he due back?"

"Yes, but we like to quote $100, just in case. And he should be back soon." WTF part II. And famous last words. He's back just as soon as your forgotten about entree is entered into the system at the Macaroni Grill.

"Umm, I'm not okay with that. It's posted as $65, why are you quoting me a $100?"

"It's just what we do."

I should note again I have a tendency in these situations to sometimes lose my grip on the fact that this is wrong, BUT I have certain people I channel, kind like a What Would Scott/Kerri/Krissy/Do. They are my benchmarks for not standing for idiots and idiotic behavior.

So, the little front desk man (I really hope it was his first day) went to the back to find someone and appease me from the back. Said man appears, apologizes for the mechanic's absence and tells me to go see Chuck down the street. Awesome, let's hope I can find Chuck with the directions you just gave me.

By now, I think there is a camera crew following me.

I find Chuck, walk in, he greets me with a smile and I tell him the story above, and he laughs.

"I don't take a lunch." I also notice he's pretty much always open except for the sign posting not so on The Lord's Day.

"Give me ten minutes."

I sit down, expecting him to come back when he's ready to start and when he does, he tell me I pass.

"You're done?!?!"

"Oh yes, all done."

"They told me it would take an hour!"

He smiled at me like Mr. Miyagi and went on to tell me how healthy I was because I smiled so much (well no kidding, he just took 10 minutes, quoted me $10 less than first people, AND gave me a $10 discount. It was the stuff dreams were made of.)

I thanked him, told him I'd be back the next day with my own car, so he gave me a $15 discount coupon. It all seemed to good to be true.

He left me with what could have been an ancient Chinese proverb. "A happy heart is a healthy heart."

God bless Chuck for running his business in a manner that makes sense. If you are local and need a smog check, he stocked me well with those coupons.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Today Show

I'm slightly behind in watching this video, though aware of it, and now that I finally got a chance to see it, I love it! Maybe it's because of the song which reminds me of my best friend's wedding, or maybe it's because of cheesy "choreography" with the lyrics.

I'm pretty naive when it comes to tv production and was rather to surprised to see nearly everyone is a producer of some kind. And where was my friend Stacy London?

Enjoy, if you are like me and about 4 weeks behind popular videos.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wish List

In case the man in my life needs inspiration...

For the living room so I finish my coffee in time to get ready for work in the morning.
Available online or in store here.

For all the ravioli and penne we consume:
Also available online or in store here.

Also this cutting board from the woman who makes everything a temptation (sorry, no photo.)

For the morning watering and "cleaning" of the yard:
Available from my mothership, here.

A new vintage kitchen. You know why. If it needs to double as birthday, that's fine too!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

No title.

Death has a way of slipping in opened windows, unattended doors, and unguarded hearts. He hangs his hat silently, his departure more noticed than arrival.

There is no training growing up to prepare you for dealing with death. Or, perhaps I have been lucky enough to have not had to face it. I had all four grandparents for 24 years of my life, and have only attended two funerals. I know I am blessed.

People deal with death in different ways. Some need the company of friends, while others prefer solitude. The struggle I face is with dealing with everyone else's feelings and finding the words for survivors.

Today my community lost one of the classiest, friendliest, and warmest women I've ever met. Though our paths only crossed four years ago, I feel privileged to have known her.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dear Ina

Dear Ina,

You have been featured in my kitchen a dozen times, especially when it comes to chicken, from the roasted variety to herbed goat cheese. I love how you always have some fabulous friend/family member/celebrity over for one of your own delicacies. I appreciate your directions to always use "good" olive oil, "good" vanilla, and "good" salt and pepper, even though mine are likely from Fresh & Easy, Target, and Trader Joe's, respectively. I find them sufficient and quite tasty.

Anyway, you have a fan (well, duh, lots of them) in me for the entertaining you do weekly and I am making this public declaration to visit you in the Hamptons, visit the Barefood Contessa, and taste cheese and wine from one of those quaint fromage and vino establishments you frequent. Of course the table would be set with one of your amazing hydragea arrangements (which I'd like to discuss with you because I do not have a north-facing wall-what do you recommend? Keep buying!?!?!?!?)

Anyway, I think we could get along swell. I look forward to hearing from you. I'll even sell out my beau's famous steak*. I will be bold and say it may rival your restaurant-style steak. It's to die for, even my best girl said so.


Erin Haselton, Orange County, CA

*he will not want the recipe on tv. Yep, it's that good. Don't you want an invite?

What's for dinner?

I have had quite the struggle creating a dinner menu as of late. In the two years we've been married, I plan for the week and shop accordingly. It's been increasingly difficult to be creative in generating new ideas, thus turning into the same old same old. Who likes that? Input is appreciated but it's just as hard sometimes for Scott to devise the menu as I.

I've tried the plan-as-you-go method (which goes against all of my type-a ways) and inevitably I went to the store MORE planning only for that night or two days in a row. No bueno.

So, I feel like I am stumbling on an obvious idea, but I think cataloguing each meal that we really enjoy will make it easier to reference that 10 cookbooks or my excessive list on

This struggle also made me consider how much of our dinner menus are influenced by our parents meals growing up. I can say firmly that chicken divan has NOT graced my lap (no dining table yet.) But we have our fair share of tacos, enchiladas, steak, fish, and sloppy joe's (though a revamped recipe courtesy Pioneer Woman.) This is not special fare by any means, but it made me realize how generic our palates. I think the most exotic addition as of late was quinoa and couscous. The man in my life was not a fan of the latter, at least the way I made (though Kerri made a variety he enjoyed).

I'd be interested to know the sources people turn to for their grocery shopping lists. Mine are primarily food blogs and and recorded FoodNetwork shows, courtesy of Ina and Giada.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ladies Night

Each Thanksgiving, my dear friend Lauren comes home from her fabulous travels around the world to hang out with Mandy and me. Laughing, teasing, catching up, and lots of girl talk always make for a night that could easily turn into a slumber party, and I am convinced we should do it one of these days.

I am very thankful to have had such good friends who don't see each other nearly enough, but always pick up right where we left off.

It's a joy to share in each other's lives, especially since they are continuing to grow and our ladies night is now including little girls too :)