Pork Baby Back Ribs

Baby back ribs are nice to make for dinner parties because they are delicious, smell and look amazing, and require a lot less work than you’d imagine! The main thing is to pop them in the oven early enough because they do take 2-2.5 hours to bake, but you can get other things done after you get them in the oven! As long as you have time, they’re a great party pleaser entree!

After searching for many recipes, I settled on this one because it seemed simple and I had most of the ingredients in my kitchen pantry already! The only thing that I had to go search for was the “hickory smoked salt.” I managed to find “mesquite smoked salt” at Whole Foods, but I think it’s probably still not quite the right ingredient for the best smoky flavor. The ribs still came out delicious though! But for more smoky flavor, I’d probably making my own smoked salt with liquid smoke next time. A little cheat bottle was pretty cheap at Whole Foods too, but just keep in mind if you want to make your own smoked salt, you do need some time to let the salt dry after using the liquid smoke. I would recommend making it the morning of or the night before.

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Nutella Banana Bread Pudding

The first time I had bread pudding of any sorts was at the Treasure Island buffet in Las Vegas when I was 14. I fell in love with the eggy, creamy, surprisingly fluffy dessert speckled with hints of cinnamon and raisins. It’s not the prettiest dessert to serve, but it’s so warm and comforting to the dessert soul. Little did I know how easy it was to make!

There was a period in my college days where I would read recipes for hours on end just for fun, dreaming of the day I had enough time, money, and space to bake anything I wanted in my own kitchen. This is definitely not an expensive recipe, though you can spice it up more for sure. I knew from my recipe browsing days that bread pudding recipes required at least day-old bread—some good hearty challah, brioche, or French Bread were usually involved. Well, I never usually bought these kinds of breads.

It just so happened that my fiancé had bought a loaf of French bread from the grocery store the other day and used half of it to make some homemade garlic bread to go with our pasta dinner. But you can only have so much garlic bread…or more like, you should only have so much. ;) The light bulb pinged, and I decided to try bread pudding!

The other thing we had lying around was a bunch of very ripe bananas, because I couldn’t resist the deal of $1.49 for a 5-lb bag of bananas from the market. Oops. I had already made banana bread that week, so I decided to throw some bananas into my bread pudding too. Ripe bananas are the best for baking because they are already so sweet you don’t need to add as much sugar. And then another light bulb went off. What about Nutella?! Bananas and Nutella are like Oreos and milk; they work perfectly in harmony! And we happened to have a jar at home that I had been slathering my banana muffins in. (It’s a great frosting for lazy people :P)

So I quickly Googled some recipes and mix and matched and altered for the following recipe based on what I had. I think my fiancé was pleasantly surprised by how good it turned out (he was very offput by the near all-black bananas). And my coworkers seemed to enjoy it, so I hope you like it too!

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Chasing Swings and City Views in San Francisco


Billy Goat Hill

When I went to college, everyone assumed that I knew San Francisco inside out when I told them I was from the Bay Area. Truth be told, I know LA better than I know the Bay Area or San Francisco because I lived there for 7 years on my own. The Bay Area is actually a lot bigger than I imagined when I was younger. And when you’re growing up, you don’t really take the time to learn your surroundings that much. That certainly changes as adulthood forces you to. But it’s not a bad thing!

After I moved back to the Bay, a big part of me wanted to do my residency in San Francisco (the actual city) so I could try more new food places and explore the city I never got to learn. But 1) the Match decided to place me in Santa Clara [no regrets here at ALL], 2) residency was a time drainer and I’m pretty sure I had less time during residency than in school, and 3) uhm, it costs a mini fortune to live in San Francisco! Forget just living there; your meals in SF can have extra health surcharges tacked on in addition to tax and tip. But, there are undeniably great food and great views in the city where people leave their hearts.

I’ve had a few touristy and a few not as well known spots on my list to visit for awhile. Two weekends ago, my wonderful fiance took me to see a few of them and we even spontaneously added in a few extra stops. It was a beautiful day in San Francisco with oddly no fog, which made it easier to see across the Bay and take in the cityscape. I highly recommend checking out these spots!

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Wedding Vendors–Photography

Wedding planning has been underway, with about 11 months to go! After we booked our venue and date, our next step was to book some vendors. Photography might be your next most expensive item after venue/catering–especially in the Bay Area. It was certainly the next most important thing on my list. The good, well-known, popular wedding photographers often book early too, so you want to jump on this as soon as you have a wedding location and date secured. If you’re looking to save some money, consider hours needed, number of photographers needed, and the experience level of your photographer. Below are some of my advice/tips on looking for a photographer and things to think of before interviewing/communicating with a potential wedding photographer!

My fiance playing around with the flash and his new remote shutter at the Palace of Fine Arts this weekend. We're practicing for our engagement session ;)

My fiance playing around with the flash and his new remote shutter at the Palace of Fine Arts this weekend. We’re practicing for our engagement session ;)

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Paradise Ridge Winery


I loved this winery so much that I wanted to share this wedding venue that we visited last weekend in Santa Rosa, which is part of Sonoma County. To be honest, I guess I didn’t really know what Sonoma County geographically consisted of until recently!

Welcome to Paradise indeed! This is a really awesome sign to greet people entering the tasting room.

Welcome to Paradise indeed! This is a really awesome sign to greet people entering the tasting room.

Paradise Ridge Winery was featured on Wedding Spot, and that was how I actually found out about them. With their famous LOVE structure backdrop, it was hard not to take a peak at them. It is truly a romantic and beautiful winery to get married at, and if I had a smaller 100-ish person wedding, I think this would be the perfect spot! However, my guest count will be almost double that, and they advertise they can fit only 150 people for the indoor reception–though I was told in person it could be possible to squeeze more. I like my space though, so this was probably the biggest drawback for me about this place. I wasn’t sure if for the price tag I was also willing to cut down my guest list, as I already had a hard enough time limiting it. I’m hoping by advertising them, though, perhaps one of my friends might consider this place so I can attend a wedding here! ;) But this would still be a wonderful place to go wine tasting and enjoy with friends, even if not for a wedding.

Firepit area and seats to sit on and enjoy a nice summer day!

Firepit area and seats to sit on and enjoy a nice summer day!

The tasting room, which is also the reception room, is set up higher on a hill so that you get a gorgeous view of the vineyards from above. At night, the city lights twinkle afar in the distance. A nice covered veranda patio wraps around the building so that you can admire this view while sipping on wine or even dining on this patio. Casual seats on a wooden deck under a giant oak tree or even by the couches and outdoor fireplace can make for a great summer afternoon or cozy fall evening! And actually, it looks more like a fire pit for making pizzas…uhm, yes please! The winery seemed to get more popular in the afternoon, but around 11:30am when we were visiting, it was relatively peaceful and quiet. There were some couches that were also reserved for a private party and there was another party that had reserved a table to eat at on the veranda.

I loved the oak tree surrounded by a deck, as the hanging lights in the evening and lanterns looked magical in many of their photos of events. White lanterns are also already included in their rental, as are the string lights on the tree. It would definitely be a rustic backdrop for a cocktail hour. The deck leads out from the veranda upstairs and opens up to the sitting area downstairs (fire pit area), so it’s a spacious outdoor area for guests to mingle and enjoy the incredible view!

The entrance where the oak tree surrounded by the deck is.

The entrance where the oak tree surrounded by the deck is.

And, of course, that LOVE structure is a huge attraction. Literally. The winery itself bought the giant letters from Burning Man one year and so it is always on display further down the hill below the vineyards. At night it lights up too so guests can see it from the tasting room/reception room! They also have art exhibits of other statues, sculptures, structures, etc. that rotate seasonally. A lot of it I found to be abstract, but it certainly makes this winery a cool and hip place to check out with more to do than just wine tasting! Check out the Wedding Spot blog post I linked above to see more of their pictures of events, and check out some that we captured over the weekend as well!

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