Dinner for friends who are not Schmucks.

I made dinner for my friends.

Sometimes I spend too much money on frivolous things like cropped white skinny jeans and Anthropologie cardigans. Those sometimes are more frequent when my husband is out of town. Retail therapy -- ever heard of it? It works wonders on a lonely wife. When it's just me and I realize I spent my weekly cash flow on things to adorn myself with instead of things to stuff my belly with, I am ok with it until I remember how awesome my friends are to me in my lonely state - taking me to dinner, allowing me to be a temporary "squatter" in their home, inviting me to family-only functions even though I'm technically not a member of their family, and supplying a shoulder to cry on when I'm in my most vulnerable and bummed out state - I decide the economical and nice thing to do for them to say 'thank you' is to make them dinner.

And so I did. I made dinner for my friends. These friends are not schmucks.

Avocado, tomato, and scallion spread (not to be confused with guacamole) on toasty fresh country bread, sprinkled with a little kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Leftover Costco jalapeno artichoke dip. (what? that's not gourmet? sure it is!)

Roasted corn with fresh herb butter, served alongside grilled chicken breast with chipotle peach sauce.

Mixed greens with candied walnuts and goat cheese. (a staple in my house)

And the best course? Fresh peach and blueberry crumble with vanilla ice cream. Recipe by none other than the Barefoot Contessa herself.

Be my friend. I'll make you dinner. Or just click on the links and make yourself these fantabulous dishes before summer's end rears its ugly little head.

P.S. For those wondering how and why Sensei let me eat this meal that included both bread AND dessert (and the inevitable 1/3 bottle of wine...) this meal happened before he entered the picture. All dinners will be significantly more boring from here on out. I promise.

Deliciousness Early in the Morning

You already know how Bread & Cie makes the world's most fabulous cappuccino, but have I told you about their granola? It's divine! Honestly. I think whoever invented it was inspired by none other than the Holy Spirit. Now I know you're thinking "Kristin, you are supposed to be on some extremely healthy shed-a few-pounds eating plan - granola isn't exactly health food." I KNOW, I KNOW, but you see, my coach is very kind and allows me to have a special Bread & Cie granola and yogurt breakfast once a week. And let me tell you, I can't wait for this week's!

I am not sure what all they put in here, but I know it includes cranberries, oats, almonds, and a handful of corn pops - what a treat! Get it in the fruit and yogurt parfait, and there's a little protein to start your morning off on the right foot.

If you are feeling more along the 1000 calorie breakfast lines, may I suggest the chocolate croissant with a cappuccino? One sugar in the raw, one Splenda. You'll be in Heaven. For the next few months, my Heaven looks an awful lot like the photograph above. Yum.

extreme times call for extreme measures...

I didn't want to write about this. I actually prefer not talking about it at all. To anyone. Except for my sweet husband who, since Sunday, has asked to be called "Sensei." Yes. "Sensei." Like that episode of The Office where Dwight and Michael get in a karate fight. Why would a husband as awesome and handsome as mine want to be called "Sensei" you ask? Well, it has to do with drastic changes to one of my favorite things in life - food and what I'm eating.

For years now I have "tried" to lose weight. I avoid talking about this because a) it makes me embarrassed because I feel like I should be grown woman enough to not have to be insecure about my body, b) it seems like the only thing women talk about is their weight and I want to think I'm better than that even though I'm not, and c) admitting I am trying to lose weight means I have to tell everyone if I fail. Or, even if I don't tell everyone, it will be painfully obvious when they see me. As I believe I've mentioned before, I fear failure. It's a deep wound. I've been working on it, and it's expensive (side note: an MFT friend of mine told me that all research points to getting more out of therapy the more you pay for it), but I'm grateful for the growth I'm experiencing, as each day brings new freedom and grace. So I avoid talking about it, and really, often avoid actually trying hard because - hello - I am Kristin, I love food.

Back to my "Sensei." As I was saying, for years I have tried to lose weight with no success. I actually have put on 10 pounds since I started the "Kristin, get it together and seriously re-evaluate your life or you'll be busting out of your pants in a matter of months" lifestyle change. Clearly I'm having a hard time making things happen on my own. Glenn has offered to be my Coach several times (most likely because he's so sick of hearing me gripe about it and is also, as most men are, convinced he knows the best way to do everything. the problem is, with Glenn, he's usually right, which has the potential to be even more irritating... I digress.) Every time he offers to coach me, I say no. Not just no, but NO! AbsoLUTELY not! I have had no interest in being hounded by my spouse about what and where I'm eating, or being told that I need to run faster and try harder by the father of my future children.

Last week I hit a low point. Maybe it was never wanting this photograph to become a reality, as flattering as it is. I agreed to let "The Glenn Murdock Experience" try to morph my body into all it was created to be. The following is a timeline of the events of the past week, including a handful of text messages between G and myself. This is for real, people. Every text was sent out of pure desperation. Judge if you must.

Saturday night: Slight meltdown in the car driving home from Arizona with Glenn. He takes advantage of me in my weakened, vulnerable state and somehow manages to convince me to let him be my weight loss coach. He asks me to call him "Sensei." I say no.

Sunday: Day one. I'm feeling hungry, and all I can think about is how delicious a cappuccino and Bread & Cie ANYTHING would taste. All this protein is going to my head. I have dinner plans to meet up with fun out of town friends Sean & Erin and Matt & Kate so Coach lets me have a glass of wine and more carbs than he ever normally would.

Monday: All I want is a muffin or bready treat of some sort. I don't give in. Around 2pm, my work neighbors invite me over for some food they are making. I am starving, even though I've eaten about 4 meals already at this point in the day. Their "food" winds up being apple-peach cobbler with ice cream. I have a small portion. It tastes amazing. I go home and make myself a healthy dinner, then desperation hits so I start to text "Sensei."

K: "I want dessert, what can I have?"
G: "Where are you"
K: "Home."
G:"With who?" (yikes! paranoid much?!)
K: "Caitlin, Kim, and Sheri."
G: "Have an apple. (I can just picture your reaction to that.)"
K: "It was an eye roll."
G: "Are you asking Let You Have Anything You Want Glenn or Coach Glenn?"
K: "Coach, but be nice."

I have one Oreo and a few almonds, as well as the apple.

Tuesday: Massive cravings for all things I'm not supposed to eat. Random sampling of text messages I sent throughout the day.

"Ok first off I just had to turn down Bronx Pizza, and second I am wondering when I will stop wanting to eat good tasting food."

"When I lose weight will we change the food plan so I can eat like a normal person again?" which received a response of YES and I followed up with: "I'm about to lose 25 pounds in a week so I can make that a reality."

"Mariann has chocolates she wants to share with me"

G: "The world is against you!"

And my personal favorite, which made sense in the conversation but looks totally alcoholic out of context: "Umm, ok... so I had a glass of wine but no food."

Wednesday: Feeling like a normal human being, a member of this fine species, a citizen of the world's best country, I resist the Nordstrom Cafe carrot cake and drink a LOT of water. I still can't wait for the day that sugar is part of my diet again, but for now, I think I might be able to do this.

Until the next text-message breakdown, that is.

What We Ate - Hawaiian Style

If you follow me on Twitter, or are friends with me in any capacity (which I'm pretty sure almost everyone who reads this blog is... hello friends!) you know that I recently returned from a trip to Kauai with my three younger sisters.

Was it everything we hoped it would be and more? Yes. Was it a trip we'll talk about for the rest of our lives? Yes. Did we sing along to Lady Gaga and Mariah Carey at the top of our lungs? Obviously. As fun as all of those things are, however, that is not what this blog is about. It's about all the FOOD we consumed while living the island life. And, let me tell you, we consumed a lot of it.

*Side note* I recently decided to learn Photoshop so I can be the best bliggity blogger ever... but those skills have not transferred from brain to hand yet, so we're keeping it real with pictures straight out of the camera...for now!*End of side note*

We start the trip off with a drive to LAX at 4:00am, and a breakfast at Denny's when we got up there. I don't remember the last time I ate at Denny's. I am pretty sure it was sometime in undergrad when my roommate and I decided it would be a good idea to get Moons Over My Hammy and a large order of fries at 1am. It was not. This experience was much better. Did you know they have a $4 breakfast!! Hello awesome!

First day at the beach - we must celebrate with virgin Pina Coladas!

We hit up Puka Dog - the best hot dog on Kauai. Seriously this place is awesome. We wound up going there twice this trip. They throw a polish sausage or veggie dog in a sweet Hawaiian roll and have about 20 different sauces you can add to your dog, including coconut and starfruit. Yum.

Who needs dinner when you can have dessert? Knowing we couldn't afford a full-fledged meal at the Hyatt (must. stay. there.) we decided to do dessert. It was so good! I barely snapped this picture before Katherine devoured the entire plate.

Starbucks right across from our resort made for some awesome mid-afternoon pick me ups.

We decided to be cheesy tourists and attend the "free mai tai" hour our resort offered. At first we made fun of ourselves and then decided we kind of liked it. They danced the hula! And there were mai tais!

Massive chocolate chip pancakes. MASSIVE.

I think we had Hula Pie 3 times. It's basically mud pie, but with a name like Hula how can you say no?

This has nothing to do with food but is a fun shot of all four of us. L to R: Corrie (2nd born), Me (firstborn - if that wasn't clear from my personality), Katherine (baby), Kimberly (3rd born). The attire and dirty faces can be explained by what we were doing: ATV-ing for Katherine's 18th birthday!

Last day on the island was celebrated with a big outdoor breakfast and cappucino-staches.

We went all out for Katherine's birthday dinner and ate a multi-course meal at the Beach House. Perfect views and awesome food. And a reason to dress up, which we love.

Home at last. Landed at 10:45pm, got to our car around 11:30pm, hit up In-N-Out on the drive home (once we safely made it into the suburbia that is Orange County) around 1:15am. Why is In-N-Out the best thing ever?

I think I love Arizona after all...

May and June included several trips to Arizona to see the hubs. July will include 3 more trips there. And I'm pretty excited. Besides the slow drivers (yes, Arizonans do drive just as slow when in their home state as they do when on the California freeways!), overly short shorts, making me fat, oh, and this weird belly-dancer store at the mall Glenn's store is in... I like what Arizona is all about.

Things are a little slower paced in Arizona. People eat dinner late at night (to beat the heat) in Arizona. I get to lounge by the pool from 8am-9am in Arizona. Glenn has cable in Arizona, which means I get to watch all things Kardashian in Arizona. Most items are a little bit cheaper in Arizona. John McCain is the Senator in Arizona. And, most importantly, they make a mean cappuccino in Arizona.

Introducing #3 to Cucina Urbana

As you well know from this post, my new favorite food hang out is Cucina Urbana, where I hug Gabriel hello (best. server. ever.) and then have fun eating delicious foods or introducing people I love to the delicious foods. When my sisters came to town (because we went on a sisters trip to Hawaii! 3 years in the making! It actually happened! More on that later!) and Kimberly (#3) and I realized we needed to find something to occupy our Saturday evening, I instantly knew we would be going to that sweet spot on 5th and Laurel.

Our courses, in order of appearance:

Perfect summer chardonnay. Medium bodied with just enough crispness to make you go "oh yea, it is summer!" and smile as you see 150 Critical Mass bicyclists (most of them wearing little to no clothing) riding by, despite how disturbing this sight may be.

The nightly Bruschetta platter. Here we have house-cured duck prosciutto with lingonberry preserves and goat cheese, roasted tomato and home-made ricotta with basil and balsamic reduction, and French brie with house-cured coppa (I think... could be mistake on the meat) and arugula.

The burger. She prepares for her first bite.

She digs in.

She realizes it's delicious and makes this "mmm, that's good" face.

She can't stop smiling.

Moral of the story: eat at Cucina Urbana! I do have a friend who happens to also be a fabulous photographer with a big curly blonde afro who didn't love it as much as I do... he says my taste is too sophisticated for him... but I'm telling you it's DE-LISH.