Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas to Us!!


I got a cake today.

A cake to tell Dh that we're finally pregnant.
After all the praying, the poking and prodding, the tests and the meds...we're actually pregnant.

I am over the moon.
I am terrified.
Oh, my god...I am pregnant!! 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Week of Leftovers Day One: Turkey Pozole

Today is Friday- the day after you filled your tummies with everything from game day chips and dips to turkey, gravy and of course PIE! You're full, you're bloated, you're (quite possibly, especially if you had dinner at our place) hungover and you want something easy and relatively light to help you recuperate.

I grew up in a large Mexican family and my all time, go-to, comfort food meal is Pozole. I remember being not even tall enough to reach the stove, pulling up a chair to steal giant spoonfuls of my Grandmothers pozole. I was obsessed with those plump white kernels of hominy, tender pieces of pork and the rich, spicy red broth.

If you've never had pozole, it is a hominy stew which can be made with a  variety of different meats, sauce bases and stewed meat. In our house we always enjoyed the Pozole Roja variety with either pork or chicken and tons of garnishes like onions, cabbage, radishes, cilantro, chile flakes and Mexican oregano. I serve it along side some warm corn tortillas or a crispy tostada (fried corn tortilla) with refried beans and cheese. My Grandmother made everything from scratch, including her red sauce for this stew, and I pray one day she might even share her recipe with me! Until then I use a can of my favorite enchilada sauce and it tastes close enough and saves a ton of time as homemade red sauce can be very labor intensive. This is a post Thanksgiving meal you will want to make while family is still in town because it makes plenty- enough to serve about 6-8! Although rich and hearty, this stew is actually pretty low calorie (a cup of hominy weighs in at under 100 calories!) Using the white meat turkey, and low sodium chicken broth

Turkey Pozole Ingredients:

2 heaping cups of shredded turkey
1 28oz can red enchilada sauce
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 29oz can of white hominy**
2 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 tsp of Mexican oregano
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Optional Garnish:

Shredded cabbage
Chopped onion
Sliced radish
Chile flake
Mexican oregano

In a large pot saute the onion and until translucent, add the garlic and cook until fragrant- do not brown. Add the remaining ingredients, except the turkey meat. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, stir in the turkey and simmer for about 5 minutes longer. Serve with warm corn tortillas, chips or tostada and refried beans.

**I've met them, but I will never understand them: People who hate hominy! If you are one of the misunderstood, feel free to replace the hominy with regular white corn, black beans or chickpeas!

Week Of Leftovers Day Two: Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Dipping Sauce

Today is day 2 of our Week of Leftovers and we are swooning over these Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps. They are the exact thing we are craving after a weekend of rich foods. Here's the recipe:

1 head of butter lettuce
1 cup shredded white meat turkey
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
12 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup each, chopped cilantro & mint

Place 2 lettuce leaves overlapping on your plate, fill with slaw, cilantro and mint. Garnish with lime wedges and serve with peanut dipping sauce.

Peanut Dipping Sauce

3 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
3 tbsp agave nectar
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 inch of fresh ginger (or 1 tsp powdered)
a splash or two of sesame oil

Mix all in a food processor until smooth.

We gobbled up three of these for dinner! They were so addicting and SO light. Our favorite Thai place makes wraps like these with ground turkey and tons of fresh herbs. That's where the inspiration for these came from. You could certainly use other types of large leafed lettuce, but I've found butter lettuce works best and it's so tender! Alternative you chop a ton of lettuce and layer everything salad style, which is what I did for with the leftovers (packed them in the DH's lunch box for the next day!).

They are also phenomenal as a meat free option, you could replace the meat with saute'd tofu or hearty mushrooms.

Friday, November 29, 2013

A Week Of Thanksgiving Leftovers

Whew! Guys...We made it!

Congratulations, you all lived through all the traffic, the food, the football,
You stuffed yourself until you had to be rolled out to the car. You drank and swapped family stories over gigantic moats of turkey gravy and you traversed a dessert table toppling over with delicious, sugar filled, whip cream dolloped treats.

I am so proud of you. In the days after Thanksgiving you are probably in one of two boats, you were either sent home with pounds upon pounds of turkey or you hosted and were left with pounds upon pounds of turkey (and all the sides, desserts!)

So what we are going to do this week is find a way to help you re-use those leftovers in ways that are a little unexpected and even a few that are a little on the healthful side.

First, here's a list of this weeks meals:

Friday: Turkey Pozole  and Chocolate Dipped Dessert Bites
Saturday: Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps
Sunday: Curried Turkey Hand Pies with Winter Vegetable Salad and Cranberry Sauce Dressing
Monday: Loaded Turkey Taquitos & Green Chile Potato Soup
Tuesday: Pesto Turkey Salad on Croissant
Wednesday: Leftover Stuffing Breakfast Bake
Thursday: Potato Pancakes, Ham Studded Wilted Greens and Poached Eggs

Next, here is a list of little "cheats" in helping you deal with the overwhelming amount of leftovers:

1. What to toss. I am a huge proponent of using up as much leftovers as possible. I hate waste. However, if you really know that no one in your family is going to touch day old gravy- toss it. Recognize what leftover ingredients are usable (leftover meats and cheeses from the snack table, turkey bones for stock) and which are not (wilted garnishes from the turkey plate, mayo based dips or sauces that have been sitting out for hours). I keep all unused bread, crackers, chips and pretzels and pulverize them in my food processor. I use these deliciously flavorful breadcrumbs year round!

2. Think long term. Much of what is leftover can actually be frozen (if you can make room) and kept for weeks or even months. My father in law brought an extra green bean casserole to dinner, so I am freezing the one I made so we can thaw and bake it for Christmas dinner. Leftover desserts freeze well, and I always take about half of the leftover turkey meat I am left with and freeze it for later. The turkey taquitos we'll be making on Monday freeze perfectly! Just pop them out of the freezer right into the oven and bake until golden brown!

3. Bring in the freshness. Leftover have the tendency to feel very one note in terms of flavor, bringing in fresh citrus, chiles, herbs and spices is a great way to breathe new life into your meals.

4. Cook small. The last thing you want to do is end up with a bunch of leftover leftovers! I have to be careful when making things like soups and turkey salad, because it's just the two of us here. So don't cook like me, and make sure you're only preparing what you will reasonably consume in the days following TG.

5. M.Y.O take out. My Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps were inspired by my favorite Thai place in town. They stuff this tender little lettuce cups with ground turkey, fresh mint and green onion with a creamy, sweet peanut dipping sauce. Yum! So think about throwing some of that turkey onto a white sauce pizza, or into pineapple fried rice, and stuffed into gooey quesadillas. Throwing ethnic flavors at turkey meat works because turkey doesn't have a strong taste at all, it's the perfect canvas for all of your favorite take-out preferences.

As much as I love Thanksgiving I love love love playing with the leftovers. Every year I like to challenge myself to try new things with every part of the leftover Thanksgiving meal, not just the turkey. Is there something that your family loves to do with all of your leftovers? Comment below, I would love to hear from you!

I truly hope you all have had a wonderful Thanksgiving, surrounded by friends and family and I hope you're all as stuffed and happy as I am.

Happy Holidays Ya'll!!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Goat Cheese and Leek Ravioli With Basil Cream Sauce

Oh, Summer! WHY are you so darn hot? I mean I know this is Paso Robles and all but my goodness. We're broaching 115 around here and I am just not built for this.Do you know how much cooking I want to do right about now? None. None cooking. I want to sit with the freezer open and gobble up all the ice cream before it thaws. Nothing can be done in this heat. Nothing!

So instead of describing to you how delicious all the take out pizza and Chinese food has been, how about I share a recipe from a few months ago with you? Deal?

You might of read that we have a new photographer here at HNE who is incredibly talented (all of these gorgeous shots are thanks to her!). Well, Jessica came over a few months ago for our first photo shoot and I made her a new ravioli recipe I was working on. I have a fancy catering gig at the end of the month and this will be the first course for that event. Since it was only my first try I was really stoked with how it came out. So was my taste tester!

I worked at a French restaurant for some time and the chef taught me how to make THE most deliciously rich reduced cream sauces. The technique basically always the same but the possibilities are endless once you've nail it. This incredibly versatile sauce is what the ravioli will be swimming in. The ravioli itself was inspired by my recent trip to France with Mikey. On my birthday he took me to a really nice restaurant near our apartment. We got a full course dinner and our first course was this tiny, yet mind blowing deep dish "lasagna" made with layers of goat cheese, leeks and a creamy lemon sauce. We dunked giant chunks of crusty herbed bread into the terra cotta dish after we scarfed down all the pasta. It was pouring rain outside and this warm, cheesy dish totally hit the mark, especially paired with a glass of strong orange fortified wine. It was a  magnificent meal. I am bringing you a taste of France here, people! Do you get this? Are you feeling the refinement?

So, let's talk about the pasta. If you've never fresh pasta before, fret not. Not only is this recipe stupid easy, but you probably have all the ingredients (eggs & flour) already in your kitchen. If you have a food processor you're really ahead of the game. You can make the filling ahead of time and it keeps in the fridge for about 3 days. A note about the goat cheese: I know some people just do NOT do goat cheese, you can substitute cream cheese if you want to. For the rest of you, don't feel like you need to go out and spend a ton on this cheese, whatever's in your local grocery stores cheese counter will do. I used a small tube of chevre
from Tj's (please tell me you know what Trader Joe's is) and it worked perfectly.

Let's get to it!


For the pasta:
2 Eggs
2 Cups All Purpose Flour

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
Combine the eggs and flour in your food processor until roughly combined. When it looks "sandy" turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and fully incorporated. Don't fuss with it too much, or it'll be tough. Let the dough rest for a while. I don't know how long I let it rest for today, but I would say roughly 10-15 minutes wrapped up on the counter or until everything else is ready.

For the filling:
1 Egg, room temp
1 4oz Tube of Goat Cheese, room temp
4 oz Cream Cheese, room temp
2 Leeks, Sliced thinly and sauteed (with so much butter...)
1 Lemon, Zested
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix ingredients in a large bowl and transfer to a large plastic ziploc bag.

For the sauce:
2  Lemons, Juiced
1/4 Cup Dry White Wine
1 Cup Heavy Cream
2 Tbsp Cold Unslated Butter
2-3 Basil Leaves, Chopped Fine
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a small sauce pan reduce wine and lemon juice by half, over medium heat, this should only take a few minutes. If you've never cooked with wine before just be careful of flare ups. No need to "flambe" the wine,  by the time we're done most of it will cook out. Add the heavy cream and continue to reduce, stirring occasionally to prevent scalding, when your cream lightly coats the back of a spoon and the sauce loses that astringent boozy taste, you're ready for the next step. Take the sauce off of the heat, this is very important! Then add one tbsp of the butter and quickly stir with a spoon or whisk until it is fully melted into the sauce, then you can add the rest of it. Stir in the chopped basil and season with salt and pepper. Once you've mixed everything together you cannot reheat this sauce. It will break and separate, which looks very unappealing!

To Finish the pasta:

Unwrap and divide your dough into 4 balls. Roll out dough, one ball at a time. Think length! You're rolling each ball out into long, wide strips. I could give you measurements, but...who would actually use them?
Keep some damp paper towels nearby, place them over your strips of pasta to keep them from drying out while you work on the others. Once all four are rolled out, grab a little cup of cool water, your filling and either a pasta cutter or a dry drinking glass to help press out the ravioli (a 2-3 inch circle would work well for this, I use a knife or pizza cutter to make imperfect squares).

On one strip of pasta squeeze out a nice sized dollop (about 1 1/2 tbsp) of filling every 2 inches or so. I think I made 4-6 ravioli for one strip of pasta. Yes, they will be large ravioli! Once your filling is piped out, dip your fingers (or a pastry brush) into the cup of water and "paint" water all over the pasta sheet around your filling. Quickly take a second strip of pasta and place it over starting at one end, taking great care to gently push down all around your filling and moving on to the right. You really want to make sure there are no air pockets around the filling and that those two sheets of pasta are nice and fused together now as one. You may now cut out the pasta. I use a pizza cutter and just make a bunch of imperfect squares, feel free to use an actual ravioli cutter. Drop the ravioli a few at a time into your gently boiling water. A rolling boil will destroy them. Once they float up to the top, wait one minute and yank 'em out.

If you start to notice your filling coming out or the dough isn't holding up, stop and make sure your dough is really pressed together. If it is, try refrigerating your ravioli for an hour and trying again.

Now you can place the cooked ravioli into that wonderful delicious sauce we've been working on and very very gently warm it. But you have to be SO careful. I always make the sauce last and spoon it over the ravioli. I serve these as appetizers for the catering company, and we serve one per person then. Just between you and me, I can polish off 3 or 4 of these babies in one sitting. They are a lot of work but my goodness is it worth it! That wonderful tang of goats milk cheese, with the luscious creaminess of the reduction. Did I say 3 or 4? I meant 6-12. At least...

Friday, August 2, 2013

Oh, Goodness

I know it's been a month few weeks and I am being so very naughty by not updating.

On the foodie front I can tell you that Jessica and I have some amazing recipes/photos coming your way, so try and be patient. It'll be worth it, I promise.

On the TTC front I am afraid there is no change. We were checking for ovulation every month but took last month off thinking that if there were less pressure it might yield the desired outcome, but it did not.

It is August- Making that a year since we started this long voyage into trying to become parents. This also marks the point where supposedly we are considered "infertile".

What this basically means is...more tests. I will be calling the lab on the first day of my cycle and they will schedule an appointment for me to come in so they can take a blood sample. They will be testing my progesterone levels, FSH, testosterone and all sorts of other fun acronyms. My Dh's tests all came back normal, which was a relief, but also pretty much made me feel like sh*t.

I hate that it sounds that way...but...Yeah.

If it's not HIM..then it's definitely ME. I know that's a totally unhealthy way to think of it and "shame on me" for not being happy for "us" and all that, but there was a part of me (a small small part) that kind of, sort of, "hoped" it would be him.

Oh, goodness that is awful. And I am so glad you're not a judgy group, because I know how awful that is. But, it's how I feel. There are just so many feelings involved in all of this. Some are easy to make out and some are more complex. I am happy the Dh is a healthy, typical, normal man. With healthy, typical, normal sperm.

I am just bummed that this means more poking and prodding for me. I fucking hate doctors. And I hate needles. So I am NOT thrilled about having to do all this.

OH! Oh! Then, there is the ink test. Have you heard about this? The ink test the Obgyn uses to tell if you have a blockage of the Fallopian tubes? I would rather rip my eye lids off than take this test.

But if the blood work comes back normal that will be the next step. Not looking forward to that at all.

Anyway, yeah....

Let's move on...

I have to tell you guys that I am still looking forward to mailing out some delicious Brown Butter Cookie Company cookies to the 7 most recent "followers" of the blog who post a comment on their favorite Her Name is Ed post.

So please, remember the contest rules. Not only do you need to ADD us and FOLLOW us, you MUST comment on your favorite post to receive your prize!

So GO! Or I will eat all yo cookies!!

Talk soon guys,

as always, thanks for all your support!


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Giant Cheat Day Cookie: Double Peanut Butter Chip Cookie (And Then Some!)

You may not know this yet, but my husband Mike is a big fan of peanut butter. He eat's it right out of the container, in his lunches with celery sticks, on top of puddings and yogurt and of course in peanut butter cup form, he is a fiend! So when I was experimenting with Giant Cheat Day Cookie flavors it seemed obvious that I would make this Double Peanut Butter Chip Cookie just for him.

I like to share recipes with you that are versatile and easy to play with. This is certainly one of them, you can change it up as much as you like. For this particular cookie, you can throw in dark chocolate chips or chopped candies, I love to dip my peanut butter cookies in chocolate and let the choclate harden. Oh. My.  Adapted from this post at Sally's Baking Addiction, Jessica and I came up with a few different flavors and dubbed them the ultimate Giant Cheat Day Cookie. The Double Peanut Butter Chip Cookie get's a double dose of peanut buttery goodness in the form of two heaping tbsp's of crunchy peanut butter and a generous 1/4 cup of peanut butter morsels. 

This is the recipe you reach for (after your yoga pants) when you come home at the end of a long work week and want a break from all the low-fat, sugar free desserts you've been sticking to. If you're like me and currently trying to shed some pounds, you're not going to be making these every day. It's a treat, cuddle up with one of these huge sweet, salty cookies with a hot cup of coffee or an equally giant glass of milk, because...seriously, how are you gonna dunk it? It's as big as a plate! 

We played with different flavors from classic chocolate chip, to cinnamon chip oatmeal raisin, but the peanut butter cookie was my favorite. That is saying a lot because typically I don't even recognize a cookie as a cookie unless it has chocolate in it! Do you blame me? I encourage you to try some of the other flavors as well, and also to try your own variations- limit your mix in's to about a 1/4 cup. I added a little too much to my cinnamon chip oatmeal cookies and they turned into an expansive gooey mess. Delicious...but a mess.
For a softer cookie take a minute or so off of the baking time and let the cookie cool a little before
attempting to move. Enjoy!

Giant Cheat Day Cookie: Double Peanut Butter Chip

2 tbsp crunchy all natural, salt free peanut butter
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp egg  (scramble an egg in a cup really well take your 2tbsp of egg from here, reserve the remainder for another cookie or for egg wash on another baking project)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup peanut butter morsels
A pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl or a mug mix the sugar, peanut butter and egg until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and scoop onto an ungreased cookie sheet or silicone baking mat. I flattened out the dough, just a little was all it needed. I also dotted the top of the dough before baking so there was a morsel in every bite. In my oven it took about 10-12 minutes. Bake a little longer for a crisp cookie (what I prefer) and around 10 mins for a softer cookie (what basically the rest of the world perfers)

All the makings for one giant double chocolate chip cookie! 


Giant Cheat Day Chocolate Chip Cookie

Replace the peanut butter with 2 tbsp room temp butter and the 1/4 cup peanut butter morsels with semi sweet morsels. Mix ingredients and bake the same way.

Giant Cheat Day Cinnamon Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Replace the peanut butter with 2 tbsp room temp butter and the 1/4 cup peanut butter morsels with equal parts cinnamon chips and raisins and add 2 tbsp uncooked oats. Mix and bake for 12-14 minutes. This cookie spreads out a bit more, and is SUPER soft!

Giant Cheat Day Double Chocolate Chip Cookie

Replace peanut butter with tbsp room temp butter and the 1/4 cup morsels with semi sweet chocolate chips, add 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder. Mix and bake for 12-14 minutes.

Got Milk? 


TTC Update and Giant Cheat Day Cookie Recipes.

First of all, I just wanted to say THANK YOU, again to everyone who has been cheering for Mike and I this passed year. We are barely 6 months in and it's been one of the hardest years of my life.
I will not drag you through some long depressing, dramatic post to tell you that our first round of ovulation induction did not go as we'd hoped. After 5 negative pregnancy tests and a few calls back and forth to my doctor, I am finally dealing with the reality- I am not pregnant. Again.

I know that we have so much going for us right now. We are both employed, madly in love, have incredible friends and family supporting us. I know I should try and be positive. I keep telling myself this is just a bump in the road. This is temporary. I keep telling myself not to let this rule my life and bring me down...but this f*cking sucks.

Yeah...I know...GASP! A curse word!

I'm sorry. There's no way to sugar coat this. In the same week that I find out my sister in law is pregnant with their 5th (yeah) child, and after putting my body and my husband through hell on Clomid...nothing. Another negative test. And I swear to you, that negative sign has got some attitude. It's brighter and more assertive every time I have to see it. I call Mike in (poor guy) "Look at it, seriously? Is it negative? Does it still look negative to you?" To make matters worse, I got a terrible stomach bug right around day 25. I got so excited! I thought it was the first stages of morning sickness or fatigue. It was not morning sickness, it was not was bad fish. Is that cruel, or what?

The next step is taking more tests, far more invasive tests. Our doctor will be testing for PCOS and a bunch of other acronyms for syndromes I cannot pronounce, I think one of for a tumor in your brain that blocks ovulation? I know one is to see if my tubes are blocked. I am especially not looking forward to that one- Google it, and you'll understand. If all the tests come back normal then we will start our second cycle of Clomid, which will be stronger and even more awful than the first round.

I have allowed myself a couple of cheat days or "pity parties" since all of this started. One on the day I found out about the anovulation and another each time I got a BFN. We've actually been so busy with different social events since the ovulation induction, that there hasn't been time for any pity parties, which is a good thing. My friends have been keeping me distracted and I cannot say enough how nice that has been.

However, I am not one to deny myself a little hall pass on the diet front when I am feeling blue. So I decided that my pity party this month will completely center around the most amazingly addictive, chocolately, dangerous Giant Cheat Day Cookie. I found this recipe on Sally's Baking Addiction and I have seriously had to watch myself. I ALWAYS have just enough ingredients on hand to make one of these gigantic "XXL Death By Chocolate Cookies" (as Sally calls them). Is that a coincidence that I always have the ingredients? Or is this by design? No one knows, but everyone wants these cookies.

Whether you choose to make more than one is your decision. Since I am
trying to shed some weight I plugged the cookie recipe in my Sparks People recipe calculator, I don't know if I should even tell you how many points it's a lot! Much more than you'd think. But it's SO good. And I suppose if you're girlfriends are over helping you get through your crummy day, you can share it with them.
 Because it really does feed four. Mike and I have shared this right out of the oven with a scoop of ice cream and it is HEAVEN. 

Knowing that it is so naughty, I try really hard to only make it a few times a year, month...week. This is my "break in case of emergency" recipe. Comfort food at it's finest. Also, it makes me wanna hit the gym afterwards which is great for my mood. I call that a win win. In high stress situations I think it's important to nurture yourself a little, treat yourself and pamper yourself. These are things I am trying to remember lately. Sally's blog had recipes for Reeses peanut butter cookies, snickerdoodles, soft sugar cookies and the death by chocolate cookie, I haven't tried the others but the DBC is what inspired me to try some other flavors.

Jessica and I made a classic chocolate chip, cinnamon chip oatmeal raisin (not shown because it came out AWFUL- I'll explain), double peanut butter, and death by chocolate. We didn't mess with Sally's recipe on that last one- it is seriously to die for as is. My absolute favorite was the peanut butter cookie. At first I thought we cooked it a little too long, but when I dug in it was perfect. Just chewy enough, crunchy from the nuts and SO peanut buttery. Mmmm!

Check the fridge to make sure you have enough milk on hand to tackle one of these bad boys. They are definitely giant enough to share (think Pizookie) but, it IS a cheat would you??

As always, keep checking back for more TTC updates. I don't anticipate knowing anything knew for a few weeks or a month, when all the test results come back. Until then, please keep us in your prayers. Though this journey has brought us closer together, it still really weighs on us and we struggle day to day wondering what the right choices are. I know we are lucky in so many ways and I appreciate you all not judging me for whining and whining about how long this is taking. It may not be the longest running fertility issue you've heard about, but this is ours and it's all very new and very scary.

Thanks again, from the bottom of my chocolate soaked heart!


Friday, May 31, 2013

Say Hello to Jessica, Our Last Guest Blogger!

I am so excited to introduce to you our last guest blogger of the month, Jessica, from Jessica Silvius Photography. Jessica and I have bonded over the years through our shared love of food and photography. She, being an amazing photographer and I being a fan of her amazing pictures. I am going to admit to you all now (not that you hadn't noticed already) that most of the photos on HNE are from my...cell phone...GASP! I know! I know! It's quite the injustice to the recipes I share with you, because I don't think it gives you a great idea of what the food should look like in the end. I am confident in the things I do well and I know where I tend to struggle, so I feel no shame in admitting that I've often wished that I could provide my readers with better photos of the recipes I leave here for you. That being said, I am pleased to announce that Jessica will not only be joining us today, as a guest blogger, but she is also joining the Her Name is Ed team indefinitely as our new food stylist and photographer! You are all in for a real treat because Jessica is amazing at what she does. I am so excited to see how this new chapter at HNE will go! I am such a big fan of Jessica's work (I actually just had my very own photo shoot with her last week!) and I know she is going to be such a wonderful addition to the team! So without further ado, please join me in welcoming Jessica to HNE! 

When Eva asked me to guest blog I was super excited, and then panic struck... how do I attempt to explain this humungous topic while still managing to make sense and not write a novel?! So, I decided to approach the basics. Let me give you tools and food for thought to think of when approaching your own food photography - little tips and tricks that help to create effective images. 

A quick blurb on gear: The camera is not going to create the image - you are. That said, don’t go and blow all of your hard earned cash on the latest and greatest professional grade DSLR just for a few food pictures. Learn whatever camera you’ve got. iPhone? That’s fine! I will address the iPhone camera and its uses in 
  • Food photography needs to look appetizing! Food is the product and your image needs to sell it. The goal is to evoke the viewer to action - whether it be going to your restaurant, making your recipe, ordering your edible treats, or simply “pinning” them for future reference - you want your viewer to crave what you are sharing with 
  • Let’s keep it simple. Collections of multiple subjects are hard for anyone to compose well, so it’s best to keep your images clean and simple. Focus on your intended 
  • Lighting. Lighting is your best friend and your worst enemy. Beautiful lighting will make a beautiful image, where bad lighting with harsh shadows or blown-out highlights can ruin an image. Lighting is found both naturally and created 
First Let’s set up. Keeping it simple, I have my kitchen table next to the window letting in the sun. My plate is white with a simple detail around the edge. I am featuring cherry cheesecake with an awesome, thick graham cracker crust. I shot from the kitchen chair pictured. Half the time I was standing on it. Always feel free to move around your subject, it creates more interesting images.

For this first shot [ standing on the chair ] I composed my image looking straight down at the cheesecake. Perfectly centered images are generally uninteresting, so photographers rely on the Rule of Thirds. This “rule” requires you to imagine a tic-tac-toe grid in your frame of view and then you place your subject’s focus on one of the points.

Now to add some more creative techniques. Shooting with shallow depth of field essentially focuses on the image closest to you and then blurs out the background. A lower f-stop designates this technique on your camera. If you are able to set your f-stop, set it down to 5.6 or lower. If you your camera doesn’t have adjustable settings, no problem. At the end I’ll show you how to achieve a shallow depth of field with your iPhone. 

This image combined shooting at a shallow depth of field and adding artificial lighting to my natural window light. I flipped on my overhead kitchen light and placed an external flash unit in my kitchen to the left. [ No flash unit? Try a lamp or a flashlight ] This filled the image with more light and allows us to see the bite of cheesecake perfectly. Also, creatively by adding the fork and displaying a bite, we are still able to see our subject, but in the way it is intended to be used. We are showing the viewer how wonderful it is to eat. =)

Now let’s get a little more creative. Don’t forget that photography is truly an art form, use it to express the mood and feel you want your subject to evoke. In this case I was thinking about late morning breakfast, you know the time when you figure dessert is perfectly acceptable for breakfast because it has fruit in it? 

To create that feel and mood I placed my flash unit behind the cheesecake and stayed next to the window with the overhead light on. The flash created a fill light reminiscent of the bright sunlight coming through windows in the morning. Every image has a story, use creative techniques to create yours.

Finally some iPhone pictures. Instagram has revolutionized the “food pic”. I encourage you to not have just “another” Instagram food shot though! Yes, I use filters, I crop and I edit, but if you compose a well thought out image right off the bat, your food pictures will have much more impact. 

For this first iPhone photo, I tried using just the window light, but it was a bit dark for the iPhone, so I just flipped back on the kitchen light. Composed off center, overhead perception, no edits needed.

For this second iPhone photo I wanted to show you the great depth of field capability iPhone has. The last photo had a wide depth of field - everything was in focus. That is how most iPhone photos start out. So for this one I simply grabbed a bite and touched the iPhone screen where I wanted the focus, on the bite on the fork. This blurred out the rest of the image and puts the viewers focus on the tasty bite. I cropped this to fit the Instagram square, but you can avoid cropping images to squares by using apps like Squaready and Afterlight. 

I hope this has proven to be helpful, and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to post in the comments below!

About me: I met Eva a few years ago though my significant other, Evan. They had been friends for years and years. Eva and her husband Mike, have proven to be amazing friends to Evan and I. We’ve had lots of fun together over the years including some pretty memorable dinner parties. I have a minor in photography from Northern Arizona University and a BSBA in marketing. I love it. I love to combine my business side with my creative side and sprinkle my love of food, wine, people and the outdoors in between. I moved back to the Central Coast of California this week from Arizona! I am so excited to be back and enjoy summer in SLO county. ☼♡

You can visit my website here: which includes links to my blogPinterest boards, Instagram and Facebookpage. In addition to food photography, I have fallen head over hills for portrait photography. If you would like to schedule a shoot, do not hesitate to shoot me a message! 
xo, Jessica

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Welcoming Sumi, our 3rd guest blogger & A delicious goat cheese salad recipe!

When I was searching for guest bloggers, I initially assumed I would only solicit people I knew who were also bloggers. But then I thought...why?

Certainly there are people out there with hidden writing talents and knowledge to share. Then I thought of Sumi and how she has been keeping me on track for the last month. Urging me to work and out and sharing all her exercise tips with me, and I thought she would be the perfect person to write about keeping a healthy routine when you're always on the go. Some weeks Sumi has to work 4 12hr shifts in a row- and every 3 months those shifts are graves, so if she can find the time to work out and prepare healthy meals, so can we! Unfortunately, Sumi doesn't have a blog/site for you to visit YET, but who knows...we might encourage her to give it a try!

Here's Sumi!

Hi All, my name is Sumi. I’m 27 and from Southern California born and raised. I met Eva through my boyfriend, Steve, who happens to be very good friends with Eva’s husband. Eva and I, though we haven’t had much time to hang out with each other yet, hit it off almost instantly and have chatted each other up tons of times by now. I have absolutely loved the fact that she’s a chef. I have enjoyed seeing the meals she has come up with or prepared because I am not even remotely creative or skilled when it comes to cooking. I’m also very flattered that she is letting me be a guest blogger! So here are some real life diet and exercise tips I've used for staying healthy.

Sumi's Diet and Exercise Tips:

*Make realistic weight loss/health goals and stick to them!

*Stop making excuses, you're health should be a top priority.
*Plan a "splurge" day during the week.
*Vary the intensity of your work outs, if you know today is your splurge day, plan a longer/harder workout.
*Last month Eva told you about accountability partners, get one! Nothing keeps you on track better than knowing you'll have to check in with a peer at the end of the week. Also, the encouragement is sometimes all the positive reinforcement you need till that you start shedding pounds.
*You don't need to be a gourmet Chef to make healthy meals. Your meals should look something like this: 50% veggies, 25% lean protein and 25% complex carbohydrates. I am not very good at following recipes so I sometimes get inspiration from recipes I stumble upon on Pintrest!

First off, let’s define healthy. Healthy, for any person, is not based upon a strict set of parameters. This means, just because your best friend is 5’1’’ and 110 pounds, it doesn’t mean you, at 5’6’’, should weigh at 110 pounds as well. You need to figure out what is healthy for your height and body type. According to a Weight Watcher’s support website that calculates the ideal weight for women, a 5’6’’ woman with even a small frame should not weigh less than 120 pounds. 

Click here to find you "ideal" weight. Remember that this is only a tool to aid you in over-all health. You should always consult a physician when it comes to your individual weight loss goals. 

You also need to consider things like cholesterol, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and overall what you need to make you feel great from the inside out. The healthier you are on the inside, the healthier you will be on the outside. So let’s discuss how to feed yourself foods that make you feel great on the inside and out!

So, I love food. A lot. I also don’t believe in starving or punishing yourself for the sake of health, beauty, fitness, etc. However, being more aware of what you’re putting into yourself really puts things into perspective. So first off, I will sometimes calorie count. Just so I know how many calories I’m putting into my body. Doing this for a week or two really puts things into perspective and causes you to start thinking about how you can change your diet. For example, are you craving chocolate? How about you grab some strawberries instead? One piece of dark chocolate is around 27 calories as opposed to one small strawberry, which is 2 calories.

All of this info I got from which has a lot of nifty calorie counting tools for you. So at 2 calories a piece, you can a ton more strawberries than you can chocolate while satisfying your urge for something sweet. So supplementing one potential unhealthy food choice for a healthy one can do wonders for you. Plus, simply cutting down on portion size a bit can greatly improve your health, inside and out. If you’re feeling too sluggish and heavy from eating too much, you’re not very likely to be active. So eat well, eat just a tiny bit less (no starving yourself), and try to be more active!

Now onto an easy salad that I eat frequently. As a general rule, I try to eat something green every day. Most days, a salad works, but a simple green salad can get very boring. A little lettuce and some dressing does not cut it for me. I also like things to be on a light sweet side. So I figured out how to make a light summer salad that is super easy. I get all of my ingredients from Fresh and Easy, which really is super fresh and easy. Anyway, I always go for the herb salad mix because I like the way the herbs taste. It makes the salad interesting and fresh. I also like to add in some walnuts (instead of croutons) and goat cheese because I’m obsessed with cheese and goat cheese has less fat and more protein that cow's milk cheeses. Plus, goat cheese is plain delicious! Nice and creamy, and won’t overpower the rest of the flavors in your salad. Anyway, I also mentioned I like something sweet. So I add dried cranberries and top it off with a tasty, yet zesty raspberry vinaigrette dressing. This is a super simple salad that is not only tasty, but filling and healthy. 

Add grilled lean steak or chicken for added protein, you can eat this as a main meal.

Add fresh fruit like apples, grapes, raspberries, orange segments or strawberries.
Replace the goat cheese for low fat blue cheese, careful with your serving sizes! 
Try herbed goat cheese.
Replace the walnuts with slivered almonds.

I usually throw together salads based upon on what I feel tastes better rather than following a recipe, that being said, here's a super easy raspberry vinaigrette recipe that anyone can make. This recipe yeilds around 2 1/2 cups and keeps in the fridge...well I couldn't really say. We mow through this stuff pretty fast!

Here's the recipe for the raspberry vinaigrette, Enjoy!

1 cup fresh or thawed frozen raspberries
1/2 cup apple cider or red wine vinegar
3/4 cup mild flavored olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard (optional, but it makes a nice smooth emulsion)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in your blender until smooth. The contents should reach a nice pale pink color. Taste and correct seasonings, strain to remove seeds and serve with salad greens or use as a marinade for chicken, pork and steak.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

993 all time blog views! And a free cookie give-away!

I literally BLINKED and we were on the brink of crossing the 1000 views mark. Holy Moly you guys (and gals).

I cannot tell you enough how humbled I am, this is amazing! To show my gratitude I will be offering a FREE box of my all time favorite cookies from The Brown Butter Cookie Company in Cayucos,CA to the next 7 people who start following Her Name Is Ed. Let's get those blog views over 1000!

All you need to do to win, is hit "Join This Site", it's that little blue button just to the right of this post, then you'll need to leave a comment on your favorite post so far! The first 7 people to do this will receive a box of amazingly delicious cookies from The Brown Butter Cookie Company. I will post up the winners next Thursday when I post the newest blog from guest blogger Sumi Kato.

Hmm, giving away free cookies on the same day our guest blogger will talk to us about diet and fitness? Oh dear..well, everything in moderation, right?

Mike and I fell in love with these salted brown butter morsels a few years ago, right around the time we moved to the Central Coast. Back then they only had their original flavor, mocha, chocolate chip, peanut butter and lemon sugar cookie. Since then they have added  espresso, bourbon, chocolate mint, key lime coconut (which were in Mikes stocking last Christmas!) citrus brown butter,  and many many more. Be careful though, if you do win, because these things are capital "A" Addictive! Now, I have tried and tried and tried to make these at home and in time I will likely share some of those recipes with you, but they have never come out like BBCC. I don't know what I am doing wrong and no matter how much I beg ask they will not tell me their secrets. They are delightfully crisp, a subtle crunch really, and they are the perfect balance of sweet and savory. That little sprinkling of sea salt over the top takes them, well...over the top. There is that warm nuttiness from the brown butter that is unlike any other flavor and I think that is the real secret, how they brown the butter. (Did I mention they SHIP?)

I cannot wait to see where you all leave your comments, I am curious to see which post has been your favorite! Alright ladies and gent's let the games begin!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Welcome Jenn, From Life Behind The Uniform

**Jenn and I have been partner in crime for about 5 years, in that time she has been a dear friend, sister & former roommate to both Mike and I. Her nickname around here is Sunshine, because she always seems to be in a wonderful cheerful mood and it's seriously contagious. She moved away about a year ago and bought her first home with her husband Gabriel in Colorado. Read about her journey as a military spouse on her blog Life Behind The Uniform.
While we miss her immensely, I love reading her blog and I love hearing where she's eaten lately. As a military wife she has been able to travel all around the US enjoying some of the best foods in the Country. One thing I've figured out about Jenn over the years is that whenever she says something like "Oh my gosh I just ate at the most amazing place," she is not kidding! So, Take out a pen and paper or bookmark this page for reference! You WILL want to check some of these places out after tonight, I promise!**

Hello friends!
I am so excited to be a guest blogger for one of my very best friends, Eva! Initially, I thought I would just blog about food in the different places I've traveled to, and I will, but first, I wanted to give a little background and insight into living a military life.

A tearful goodbye, one of many we will share throughout the years. Funny how the "goodbye" photos
 look so much like the "hello" ones. 
Here's a little bit about me: I am a military wife currently stationed in Colorado Springs, Colorado. My husband and I are originally from the Central Coast of California, and have been together since our years in high school. We got married two years ago with the beautiful Pacific Ocean as our backdrop... holy moly, I miss the ocean! Over three years ago now, my husband decided to serve his country and join the Army. It's been quite an incredible experience thus far, and I know Uncle Sam has many more wonderful things in store for us. Don't get me wrong, the military is great, but can be completely frustrating. My husband is married to the military, and I am his wife, but we are so blessed with the opportunities we've been able to experience together. We meet friends that we would never have known, we see places that we never would have gotten to see, and we have a head-start in life that many people our age will not get. But most of all, we are starting off our life together with complete love and appreciation for our time with one another.

Ever since hubbs joined the Army, I travel a lot. Admittedly, because my husband has been on down time, meaning his required amount of time back in the states before he can redeploy, most of our traveling is going back home to visit family; however, prior to my husband deploying, I was quite the frequent flyer who depended entirely on Skype and countdowns. I counted down the days until I would get to fly out to South Carolina to watch him graduate BCT (basic combat training) at Fort Jackson. From there, I counted down the days until he graduated AIT (advanced individual training) in San Antonio, Texas for his job as a combat medic. Countdowns kept me sane and helped me to realize that "see ya laters" were just that. Every time we had to say goodbye to one another, we would be sad, of course, but he would leave and we could count down to our next hello.

Then come the deployments. This life isn't for everyone; not everyone is expected to wish an entire year of their life would just speed by. It's crazy to think that. Right? Sometimes, in those moments, I wished my life had a fast-forward button; just skip the boring junk and get to the juicy part! No such luck though. Those are the true moments when I realized HOW FREAKING SLOW A YEAR GOES BY. Then come the reunions, and each first glance I see him after weeks or months of no communication... nothing compares. It sounds silly saying "each first glance," but every military spouse knows exactly what I mean. It's like seeing them for the first time and falling in love all over again. And when it's finally your moment, and you can finally hug them, kiss them, hold them, and touch them. That's what we wait for. To know that they're real, they're standing there, and they're safe. With you. That's why I wait, and there is truly no greater feeling.

Thanks to hubbs being sent various places, I've had the opportunity to go places I never could have pictured, and the food has been a main drawing point in wanting to go back and visit again (aside from nostalgia, of course)! When I went back to South Carolina, I tried my first Waffle House.

Now, laugh all you want, but the experience has stuck with me. The mannerisms and true "southern charm" of the kitchen and waitstaff have been completely unmatched. I haven't experienced anything like it since! Most of our time was spent on post, so we ate at the PX (Post Exchange) where mostly fast food like Subway, Burger King, Pizza Hut, etc. is served. I wish we could have gone out and experienced more of the culture and cuisine of Columbia, but we had less than 48 hours to fit it all in! We will definitely go back someday to see Myrtle Beach and eat at Luigi's Trattoria.

In Texas, we spent most of the time at the River Walk in San Antonio. Because hubb's training post, Fort Sam Houston, was about a ten minute drive from downtown, we found that exploring downtown was the most fun. The River Walk, for those who may not have ever heard of it, is a beautiful stretch of the city where the river runs parallel to many stores, restaurants, and hotels. It's a wonderful spot to explore and the food we had at Barriba Cantina was a definite favorite.

Being from California, I love Mexican food, and this place didn't disappoint. After we were done with our food, we walked up a few flights of stairs, crossed the street, and got to see the historic part of town.

We got to see the Alamo, HemisFair Park, the Emily Morgan Hotel, and so many other historical landmarks. We spent some time briefly in Austin where I had my first experience with Cheesecake Factory. Is it terrible that I just started drooling? I'll just admit right now that their Red Velvet Cheesecake is probably the greatest dessert I've ever had. Granted, I do love cheesecake and I'm addicted to all things red velvet, so I may have been a bit biased. Because we were being tourists in San Antonio, we didn't get time to fully experience the local favorites, so we already have an upcoming trip planned to experience another aspect of the city. That's the great thing about having a ton of friends in the military, when they PCS (permanent change of station), meaning when they are relocated to another post, we have more places to travel to and friends to greet us when we get there!

From Texas, hubbs was stationed at Fort Carson. I would make trips out as often as possible since he was allowed to have freedoms he couldn't have while in BCT and AIT. My first time out here was for Thanksgiving 2010. Hubbs picked me up from Denver International Airport around 21:00 and had to find a place that was open for a Thanksgiving feast. The only place we could find? A Denny's near my hotel, but we made the best of it and had some pumpkin pie with our pancakes. Since we've bought a house here, we decided to take in the full experience of the city of Colorado Springs. My favorite places so far are:
Arharn Thai, a delicious and authentic Thai restaurant. The cuisine here is so yummy, and you can't beat the price! Their Thai Tea and Pad See Yew are completely addicting.

Nosh, an upscale and artistic dining adventure that emphasizes social connections and innovative food options. Located in downtown Colorado Springs, Nosh is the perfect place for a night out on the town.
Melting Pot, an ingenious fondue restaurant that provides all of their customers a fantastic time. The food here is 100% ridiculous, and the total experience is classy, innovative, and fun. Plus, who doesn't love fondue??

The Broadmoor, a classic and ritzy hotel that is famous for its great golf, food, and hotel accommodations. For experience, I can tell you that their restaurant, Summit, is top-notch. Although expensive, the food, drinks, and all around atmosphere are without equal. If I could afford to eat here every day, I just might.

The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs
While my hubbs was in Afghanistan, he tried all the Afghan cuisine one would ever hope to have in their lifetime. He's told me stories and shown me photos of freshly killed goats (a main meat source there) hanging in doorways, covered in bugs, waiting for people to buy it for dinner. To maintain relations, he would eat with the Afghani citizens where a normal meal was a goat skewer. Most of the time, the chunks of goat meat were over-cooked, over-salted, and were separated on the skewer with large chunks of goat fat. To water it down, he was given Chai tea. Just to show how terrible the food was, my hubbs hates Chai, but he would gulp it down if given the chance there.
I'll write about his ventures another time, but to contrast what he ate while on deployment was necessary for my next location....

As a post-deployment reward to ourselves, we saved up money for a spectacular second honeymoon in Maui, Hawaii. My favorite food in the islands is the fresh, juicy, ridiculously delicious pineapple. In fact, I want one right now... Unfortunately, where I am, it's snowing IN MAY and there isn't an ocean in sight. Boo. Anyway, Hubbs absolutely loves seafood, having grown up with an uncle who owns three remarkable seafood restaurants called Dockside, Dockside Too, and the newly opened Dockside 3, in Morro Bay, California, he is always partial to trying seafood in other places. In Lahaina, where we stayed for our ten days on the island, we frequented various local food joints. I wish we lived closer because I crave those places all the time! Our favorite place, by far, was the Hula Grill, a beach-front restaurant where the sandy floor meets the sea. We were able to take off our flip flops, dig our toes in the sand, hear live music, and smell the ocean all while enjoying fresh Mai Tais, local beers, Macadamia Nut slaw, butterfly coconut shrimp, and Mahi Mahi sandwiches.

Are YOU drooling yet?? Another great place was Ohana Tacos. Being a small, hole-in-the-wall spot was an advantage for this place. With a small menu, the owner and his family are able to run this place very efficiently and food comes out quickly. I tried my first Alambres, a dish with carne asada, chorizo, onions, bell pepper, and cheese with the usual sides of rice and beans. Talk about a life changer. While in Maui, we attended the Sheraton Kaanapali Sunset Luau at Black Rock and feasted on the normal Luau favorites: Kalua Pork, Lomi Lomi Salmon, Grilled Steak, Sauteed Mahi Mahi with Macadamia Nuts & Capers, Steamed Sweet Potatoes, and delicious coffee with our desserts. Of course we both tried Poi and hated it. I try it every time I go to a luau hoping that somehow it will get better... it never does. Finally, we went on a dinner cruise aboard the Quicksilver where we enjoyed an open bar, prime rib, macadamia nut crusted Mahi Mahi, endless fresh fruit, and chocolate cake. Ah, the island life.

Since we're still young, I know there are so many other places for us to see and explore. On my list of places I've never been but hope to go are Australia, Italy, Greece, Switzerland, Dominican Republic, Germany, France, New York, Florida, Costa Rica, England, and Egypt. If you would like to contribute to our vacation fund, I'll repay you in photos and great stories (Kidding... mostly)! Until next time, friends!



Sunday, May 12, 2013

TTC Update

Hey All,

Here's a very quick update on the TTC front.

In April, after doing some research and consulting with our doctor, Mike and I decided to try our first round of ovulation induction.

I started a course of clomid on May 1st. The side effects were shorter much milder than I'd anticipated (read too many horror stories online!) and I was able to continue my daily responsibilities while on the medication.

So, if you're not familiar with the sort of "schedule" during ovulation induction there is a lot of charting, testing and scheduling involved. If you do not get a menstrual cycle you start off with a prescription for Provera which should give you your period. Somehow, out of no where and after 6 months of no cycle I got one right before we were to start the Clomid. Fate? I sure hope so! While the side effects were certainly not as bad as I figured they'd be, I was very uncomfortable during the entire treatment. I experienced hot flashes, dry mouth, epic and I mean EPIC mood swings, and a little cramping. For me, the hot flashes were the worst of it, for was the weeping and the whining. Poor guy.

So after a menstrual cycle you start a the Clomid on day 5. You take this until day 10 of your cycle and then check for ovulation during days 12-19. Obviously there is a lot of...ehem...intimate times during days 12-19. The point is to make a baby yes? Yes.

I was instructed to test myself for ovulation and days 12-15 all came back negative for an LH surge. It was discouraging, after all we went through during the week on Clomid, it looked like the meds weren't working.

Victory! In the form of two consecutive positive results for LH Surge. 

It was a VERY happy day on day 16 when our first test came back positive for an LH surge! Finally we get some good news! Sooo, now you can understand why I have had to be MIA this month. We are hoping for some even better news later this month so cross your fingers.

It was a long shot that the Clomid would work and yet here we are! So I am very hopeful and very excited about the future.

Thank You all for the continued support and well wishes!

5/16/2013 UPDATE: 
Had a doctors appointment yesterday to follow up after the first round of Clomid. The Dr. says everything is looking good and she was thrilled that we saw some LH Surges on the OPK. We are in the 2 week wait window now and we are a bundle of  nerves. My Dr. (Dr. P) gave us a bunch of lab paperwork just in case this round didn't work. She thinks we should get a better idea of what could be causing the Anovulation. At this point we don't really know what is going on, but now that we know I can ovulate, we need to check some other things. I am nervous because some of these tests do not, at all, sound like fun. Especially the one that checks for blockages in your Fallopian tubes...No. No thanks. Our test date (for pregnancy) is the 23rd. I appreciate ALL sorts of prayers and well wishes (the ladies on the TTC forums would say "baby dust"). 
I remain hopeful, look for an update soon,
thanks again to you all!!