About Me

I grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia where I also attended college and met the love of my life. I lived in NYC for five years with my husband and Westie, Mack Brown before recently moving all the way across the country to Los Angeles. I'm an amateur chef, total foodie, lover of Westies, sports fanatic and self-proclaimed book worm. You'll find a little bit of all these things I love on this blog. And...most importantly, I'm a new mom to the most precious baby boy, Austn Robert, born this past October.





Austin Robert

Austin Robert

Mack Brown

Mack Brown

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tomato & Chickpea Salad with Fresh Basil

The end of summer usually brings with it an abundance of end-of-the-season tomatoes.  {That is if the sweltering temperatures this summer have spared the plants in your garden!}  Unfortunately, being a city-dweller and all, I don't have a garden, but the tomatoes at the local grocery stores are overflowing from the shelves.  Everything from locally grown heirloom tomatoes to mixed varieties of cherry and grape tomatoes.  MMMMMmmmm.

The recipe below is perfect for any type of end-of-the-season tomatoes.  I used a local, mixed cherry tomato varietal, but any tomato would work.  The chickpeas add a little meatiness, the basil adds extra refreshment, and the honey adds the perfect touch of sweetness.  Make this salad while tomatoes are still at their peak!

Tomato & Chickpea Salad with Fresh Basil

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
6-8 large basil leaves, chiffonade
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 tbsp. honey
dash of salt

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients together.  Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes before serving, allowing all the flavors to meld together.

This salad is definitely a new favorite at our house!

Source: Recipe adapted from Green Lite Bites

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Westie Wednesday

Mack seems to think that every single arm chair in our home belongs to him.  Anyone else have this problem with their dog?  Here he is "testing out" the new nursery rocker. {Btw...isn't the color great?}
I'm pretty sure that's why Mack likes it so much :)

Spicy Shrimp with Green Beans & Lime

This is my all-time favorite shrimp recipe.  It's probably on our menu at least once a month.  That's how much we like it.  It's simple to make, has the perfect spicy kick, and is packed full of yummy veggies.  It goes great with a side of brown rice and some sliced avocado {which provides a cooling effect to your palette}.  Go get yourself some shrimp, and make this tonight!

Spicy Shrimp with Green Beans & Lime

1 lb. shrimp, peeled, deveined, & tails-on
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed and halved
1 red pepper, sliced thinly
2 jalepenos, de-seeded and sliced thinly
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
juice of 1 lime
salt & pepper

Wash and drain the shrimp.  Put the shrimp in a medium-sized bowl, and add the chili powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.  Gently toss the shrimp and the seasonings to combine.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the green beans, red pepper, jalepenos, and garlic.  Salt and pepper according to taste.  Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the peppers have softened slightly.    

Add the shrimp, tossing occasionally to combine.  Cook until the shrimp are opaque, about 3 to 5 minutes.  

Remove the skillet from the heat, and add the lime juice.  Stir everything together and serve with brown rice and sliced avocado.

Recipe adapted from Real Simple

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Glazed Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are by far some of the best chocolate chip cookies EVER.  I think it has something to do with the soft texture created by the cream cheese, and the combination of chocolate and orange {there aren't many things better!}.

I first had these cookies when my good friend {then roommate} Jess made them for some guests when we were living together in college.  I'm pretty sure I ate more cookies than the guests!  Oops!  Since then, this has been my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe.  They are a bit more labor intensive than a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe, but it is SO worth it!

Glazed Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookie Dough:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 oz. cream cheese
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. orange zest
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

2 cups powdered sugar
4 tbsp. butter, melted
5-6 tsp. orange juice
1/4 tsp. orange zest 
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper.  {Don't skip this step!  I've skipped it before, and these cookies ALWAYS turn out better when cooked on parchment paper...I promise!}

Use an electric mixer if you have one to make the dough.  It will make your life SO much easier.  In a large bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese, and sugar.  Add the eggs, one-by-one, followed by the vanilla and orange zest.  Mix well, using a spatula to scrap the sides and bottom from time to time.  

Sift the flour and salt together {sometimes I skip this step....woops!} and gradually stir into the butter mixture.  Turn off the mixer and fold the chocolate chips in by hand.

Drop the cookie dough by teaspoons onto the prepared cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart.  Bake the cookies in a preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.  Remove the cookies onto a drying rack and allow them to cool.

While the cookies are cooling, make the glaze.  In a small bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, melted butter, orange juice, orange zest and salt.  Depending on the consistency you desire, you may need to add more or less orange juice, so have some in reserve.  Mix until smooth.

Once the cookies are cooled, frost them with the orange glaze.  Some people like to apply the glaze while the cookies are still hot, but I prefer to apply the glaze once they are cooled.  Either way works just fine, although it will alter the look of the cookie a bit {but definitely not the taste!}.  

These cookies can and should be devoured immediately.  If you somehow have will power enough to freeze them {good luck with that}, they can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Source: Recipe adapted from my good friend, Jess Good

Monday, August 27, 2012

Menu Mondays

Happy Monday everyone!  Here's what B & I {along with a special guest...my mom!!} are eating this week:

Spiced Shrimp with Green Beans & Lime

Pork Chops with Chard & White Beans

Sesame-Lime Chicken Salad

Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup with Pork & Squash

Grilled Chicken & Orange Skewers
with Zucchini Rice

Check back tomorrow for the best ever chocolate chip cookies recipe!

Sunday, August 26, 2012


The recipe for the perfect birthday:

*A peaceful, early morning drive to Laguna Beach with my love

*A prenatal massage and seaweed wrap at The Montage to help rejuvenate my body and soul for a special year ahead

*Relaxing poolside with an ocean view

*Lunch at Sundried Tomato in Laguna followed by a walk through some of the town

*Afternoon drinks at the Otheroom in Venice 

*Capping the day off with a phenomenal dinner at Gjelina

*The BEST blueberry pie ever

*So many warm birthday wishes from family and friends wrapping me all day in love

*Feeling my baby move inside me and knowing I'll get to hold him in my arms very soon

So. Blessed.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Maui Part 3: Our Favorite (and least favorite) Food Spots

One of my favorite parts of any trip is researching great restaurants in the area, and planning where we are going to eat while we are there.  Our Maui trip was no different.  Being the organizational nerd that I am, I even created a GoogleDocs spreadsheet detailing when and where we were eating each day.  I built in some flexibility, especially around lunchtime, but on this trip there were so many great breakfast and dinner spots that we really stuck to our plan. We found some truly spectacular places, and some that we probably wouldn't revisit.  

And, since I always love seeking out the recommendations of friends when deciding where to eat on vacation, I thought I would share with you some of our favorites and least favorites {just in case you find yourself in Maui anytime soon looking for some great places to eat!}.

Our Favorite Breakfast Spot:
The Plantation House

Why eat here?  Amazing panoramic view of both the ocean and the mountains, open-air, early morning dining, and great service. 

Our favorite items on the menu? The pineapple with cinnamon sour cream sauce, the banana bread {which, I think, was a special that day}, the Molakai french toast, and the crab cake benedict.

Our Favorite Breakfast Spot {Runner-up}:

Why eat here?  The restaurant is literally a gazebo located right on the ocean.  Need I say more?  And, even the locals fight the crowds to eat here, which is saying a lot.

Our favorite item on the menu?  Definitely, the white chocolate chip macadamia nut pancakes.  They really are as good as everyone claims.

*Fair warning: The restaurant is small and doesn't take reservations.  So get there right when it opens if you are hoping to beat the crowds.  Otherwise, you'll have a bit of a wait.  But, the wait is so worth it.

Our Favorite Lunch Spot:
Hula Barefoot Bar & Grill

Why eat here?  If you are staying at any of the resorts in Ka'anapali, it is within walking distance,  it offers live music, outdoor dining right on the ocean, and you can literally eat barefoot with the sand between your toes.

Our favorite item on the menu?  Kapulu Joe barbecue sandwich with mac-nut slaw

Our Favorite Seafood Spot:
The Lahaina Grill

Why eat here? Exceptional service, great ambiance, and top-notch food.

Our favorite items on the menu?  Everything.  The bread and herb butter, the bufala tomato salad, the sweet kula corn soup, the Maui onion & sesame crusted seared ahi tuna, and THE TRIPLE BERRY PIE.

*Fair warning: This place is pricey, but worth every penny.

Our Favorite Dinner Spot Overall:

Why eat here?  Asian-fusion dining better even than Momofuku {which is saying a lot!}, small plates so sharing is encouraged, great ambiance, and fresh noodles made daily.

Our favorite items on the menu? Again everything.  Steamed pork buns, Vietnamese crepes, garlic noodles, pad Thai, and the malasadas for dessert {basically just sugar-crusted donuts with chocolate and caramel dipping sauces}.

Other Spots We Ate & Would Recommend:

Cane & Taro in Ka'anapali {breakfast}
Honolua Store in Kapalua {great mixed plate lunches}
Bistro Casanova in Kahului {dinner}

and since I would never lead you astray....

Our Least Favorite Meals:

The Pineapple Grill 
{We went here for dinner because it had been voted the best restaurant in Maui the previous year, and got great reviews.  We were VERY disappointed.}

Lahaina Coolers
{We ate here for breakfast.  The service was slow and the food was mediocre.} 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Slow Cooker White Bean Soup with Andouille & Collards

Trust me when I tell you this is a recipe you are going to want to try.  I'm in the process of trying out slow cooker meals for this fall in preparation for Baby H's arrival, and my first trial could not have been more of a success.  Not only did it taste fantastic {with very little effort}, it made our entire apartment smell fantastic all. day. long.  

I love that you start with dried beans, which saves you that messy step of having to drain canned beans before using.  It's the little things that make me happy!  The only slightly labor intensive part {and, it's very slight} is the de-stemming of the collard greens.  You won't toss in the greens until 20 minutes before serving the soup, but I would suggest preparing them while you are chopping up the rest of the vegetables at the beginning of the cooking process and storing them in an air-tight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to add them to the soup and eat dinner.

Slow Cooker White Bean Soup with Andouille and Collards
Serves 4 easily

1 lb. dried white beans {I used cannellini}
4 pre-cooked smoked andouille sausage links, halved lengthwise and cut into half moons
{I used a 12 oz. package}
1 large onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
dried thyme or 4 fresh thyme sprigs
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bunch collard greens, stems cut off and cut into bite-size pieces
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Add the beans, sausage, onion, celery and chicken broth to your slow cooker.  If you are using fresh thyme, toss the sprigs on top.  You'll need to pull out the stems before later adding the collard greens.  I just used dried thyme {because that's what I had} and sprinkled a little bit on top of the soup before cooking.  As always I didn't use an exact measurement {sorry!}.  Stir everything together.  Put the lid on the slow cooker, and cook on low heat for 7 hours.

About 20 minutes before you are ready to eat dinner, add the collard greens, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Stir everything together, and put the lid back on the slow cooker.  Allow the soup to cook for another 20 minutes, or until the collard greens are yummy and wilted.

Ladle into soup bowls, drizzle with olive oil, and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Real Simple

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How good is this song?

I can't stop listening to it on repeat.

"Key Lime" Pie

I'm not much of a baker, but occasionally I do bake, and occasionally I end up with something both good-looking and delicious.  So, allow me to introduce you to my new favorite summertime dessert....."Key Lime" Pie. {key lime is quotation marks because I just use regular limes, not key limes.  gasp!}

I know summer is drawing to and end, but hopefully the end of summer will bring with it lots of "end of summer" or "back to school" barbecues where you can make and take this pie.  It is so simple and easy, and I promise it will make you the talk of the party.  People will be begging you for the recipe.  Or they might even just start begging you to make one just for them....seems like I might know someone like that :)  So, consider yourself warned!

"Key Lime" Pie

1 package of graham crackers
1/3 cup sugar
6 tbsp. butter, melted

1 {14 oz.} can sweetened, condensed milk
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 heaping tbsp. lime zest 
{reserve some extra lime zest to add to the top of the pie at the end}

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Start by making the crust first.  Put the graham crackers in a gallon-size, resealable Ziploc bag.  Use a rolling pin to crush the graham crackers to a very fine consistency.  Pour the crushed crackers into a small mixing bowl.  Add the melted butter {I just melt mine the microwave} and the sugar.  Stir everything together, and pour the crust into a pie dish.  Spread the mixture out evenly, and then use a spoon to press the crumbs up and around the sides of the dish.  Bake the crust in the oven for 10 minutes.  

While the crust bakes, make the filling.  In a large bowl, add the sweetened, condensed milk, egg yolks, lime juice and lime zest.  Whisk everything together, and pour the mixture into the pie dish on top of the graham cracker crust.

Bake the pie in the oven for another 15 minutes.  When you pull the pie out of the oven, sprinkle the reserved lime zest evenly over top.  Allow the pie to cool down at room temperature for a while before wrapping it in Saran wrap and refrigerating it for at least an hour before eating.

Crust recipe adapted from Make and Takes, and Filling recipe adapted from the Pioneer Woman

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A HUGE Thank You

Last night our friends and Brad's co-workers in LA threw us a surprise baby shower.  Well, actually Brad found out about the surprise prior to the shower in order to help trick me, so I guess I was the only one truly surprised.  And, I really was...I honestly had no idea.  I just thought I was meeting Brad at his office to go to dinner with some friends!

What I walked into, though, was amazing.  I wish I had pictures to share with everyone, but I totally forgot to take any.  So I have none.  Not one single picture :(  The shower took place at Brad's office in the middle courtyard.  There was an amazing spread of food {including a taco cart...yummm}, adorable boy-themed decorations, fun games, and cute "button" favors filled with orange and white M&M's.

So many of our friends came out to help us celebrate, and they truly "showered" us with love.  Baby H is already so spoiled, and all ready has so many amazing, special people in his life who can't wait to meet him.

So, I want to say thank you.  Thank you to everyone who help plan the shower.  Thank you to everyone who helped execute the shower.  And, a huge thank you to everyone who came out on a Monday evening to celebrate our little man along with us.  Brad and I both feel so blessed to have you all in our lives!

Maui Part 2: Being Active!

While the whole point of our vacation to Maui was relaxation, B and I also love to explore whenever we are visiting somewhere new for the first time.  So, while we spent a good amount of time enjoying all that our hotel had to offer, we also did a great job exploring the western side of Maui through different activities.

We went snorkeling and did a little sunbathing one morning at Kapalua Beach.  We didn't see any sea turtles this time, but we did see some pretty amazing coral reefs and tropical fish.

My then-little bump :)

We attended the Old Lahaina Luau in Old Town Lahaina.  The luau was right on the water boasting a pretty amazing view of the island of Lanai on one side and the vast, cavernous mountains of Maui on the other.  The food was delicious {nothing beats the kalua pig that they roast all day underground...yum!!} and the show was great {although we were a little disappointed that there weren't any fire throwers at this luau!}.

There's some delicious pig under there!

We got pampered one morning with a beachside, couple's massage.

And, we even managed to fit in a day trip to the neighboring island of Lanai.  This was Brad's favorite part of the trip.  If you are ever in Maui and looking for a day trip, I would highly recommend the company we used.  We went on the Trilogy Catamaran Discover Lanai Tour and had such an amazing experience.  The boat trip either way is around 2 hours, but in the morning we had homemade cinnamon buns, coffee, juice and fresh fruit greeting us when we got on board, and we also received small snack wraps before arriving at the island.  We even found a school of spinner dolphins that we followed for a while on our way over to Lanai.  So cool.

Leaving Maui

Approaching Lanai

Once on the island, we took a bus tour {which was optional...you could have just relaxed on the beach the whole time if you wanted}, through the one and only city on Lanai, Lanai City.  I have rarely seen such a quaint and simple town as this one.  I truly felt like I was stepping back in time.  Lanai was originally known as the pineapple island and used to farm and produce some of the best pineapples in the world, but eventually Dole found cheaper places to grow pineapples, so, sadly, all the pineapple fields were shut down.  It was devastating driving up to Lanai City from the beach and looking around at all the abandoned fields.  Today, the one and only source of true income for the island is the tourism business, which everyone works in in some way or another.  There are a couple of resorts now on the island that keep the people afloat.  A sad story in many ways, but the people on the island were so welcoming and so happy, truly embodying the "aloha spirit" you become used to when visiting any of the Hawaiian islands.

The town Visitor's Center

The one-and-only gas station.
After our trip into Lanai City, I relaxed on the beach for a bit, while Brad went snorkeling (yes, again!).  We ended our day on the island with a delicious barbecue lunch cooked by the catamaran crew, and then boarded the boat again bound for Maui.  To cap off the trip, they served us ice cream sundaes on the way home.  Yes, please!

That's the Four Seasons Resort in the background.

Brad snorkeling
Again, I can't say enough great things about our experience with Trilogy.  The crew was so friendly and knowledgeable, we were stuffed full of delicious food, and we got to see some truly amazing sites and people on the island.  Both Trilogy and the island of Lanai are worth checking out next time you're in Maui!

But, wait.

There's more to come as no trip anywhere with a Haugen would be complete with some delicious food!  In my last Maui post I'll fill you in on all the great places we ate while away.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Menu Mondays

Here's what we're eating this week...

Dinner out with Friends

Slow Cooker White Bean Soup with Andouille and Collard Greens

Chicken Stir Fry Wraps

Spiced Shrimp with Green Beans and Lime

Burgers with Grilled Onions and 
Chickpea and Tomato-Basil Salad

Check back tomorrow for Maui Part 2!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

32 Weeks

Some 32 Week Highlights:

* Baby H is now the size of a squash, and growing bigger everyday!

*He is now officially head down {and hopefully will stay that way}! When I went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago, I was having some pretty bad muscles pains on my right side, and sure enough Baby H was transverse (meaning sideways}.  Thanks goodness he's shifted around a bit!

*I'm getting very anxious about finishing the nursery.  We are still waiting on the chair to arrive.  Hopefully, it will be here next week.  And, then we can really get down to work.  I'm hoping to have everything complete by the end of my mom's visit in two weeks.

*I'm still, thankfully, sleeping really well.  It takes me a little while to get comfortable, and I wake up a million times to use the bathroom, but always fall right back to sleep :)

*We've begun interviewing pediatricians.  Two down, one to go.  Still no standout favorite, but I'm holding out hope that the last one we're interviewing will be "the one"!

*My favorite moment of last week was the sushi chef at our favorite neighborhood sushi spot asking when the baby was due, and proceeding to disagree with me when I told him October, insisting, "You look ready now."  Slow down, Toshi! :)

8 weeks to go!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Spinach & Goat Cheese Frittata

Frittatas are one of my favorite dishes to make.  They can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  They are versatile and adaptable.  AND, they are one pot meals.

This frittata was filled with lots of great vegetables including spinach, onions and mushrooms, and I used a garlic and herb goat cheese to add a creamy texture and a little extra flavor.

Spinach & Goat Cheese Frittata

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 cup mushrooms, thickly sliced and then halved
5 oz. baby spinach
10 eggs, beaten
4 oz. goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Spray a large skillet lightly with non-stick cooking spray.  Make sure you spray the sides as well. This will help you remove the frittata from the pan once it's fully cooked.

Heat the skillet to medium-high heat and add the oil.  Once the oil is hot, add the onion and mushrooms.  Salt and pepper to taste.  After 3-4 minutes, add the spinach, and salt lightly again.  Cook until the spinach is completely wilted.  If there is a little bit of liquid in the pan, leave it there.  No need to drain it...it's normal and will help add flavor to the eggs.

Once the veggies are cooked, pour the eggs evenly overtop.  Add the goat cheese on top, broken into small pieces.  Allow the eggs to cook for 4-5 minutes.  Use a spatula to continually separate the eggs from the side.  Once the sides are set, you are ready to put the frittata in the oven.

Cook the frittata in the oven for 10-12 minutes.  

Once the frittata is fully cooked, use a spatula to loosen the cooked eggs from the sides and bottom of the pan.  Move the frittata from the pan to a cutting board.  Cut into slices like a pizza, and serve.  This frittata goes great with a small side salad or just some yummy, crusty bread.

Recipe adapted from Real Simple

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Maui Part 1: Our Hotel

Waaaaay back in May, B and I visited the beautiful island of Maui to celebrate the upcoming birth of our little man and B's 30th birthday.  This was our second time visiting the Hawaiian islands, but our first time on Maui.  We stayed on the western side of the island in Ka'anapali at the Sheraton Maui Resort.  When we visited Kaui a few years back, we stayed in a small condo through a home-away website and had a fabulous experience, but this time we wanted to stay somewhere right on the beach where we could be pampered, and somewhere that offered activities, relaxation, and entertainment without having to go anywhere.  The hotel was located right alongside Ka'anapali Beach and the famous Black Rock {a popular place to cliff dive, if you're up for it}.

The view from our hotel room lanai.

There was some pretty incredible scuba diving at the beach right in front of our hotel.  The first day we were there we saw a humongous sea turtle while scuba diving.  Such an incredible sight, and such an incredible memory.  If only I'd had an underwater camera!

We also spent many sunsets sipping cocktails and enjoying the beauty around us at the beachside bar.  My "cocktail" consisted of a fruit smoothie full of strawberries, raspberries, and most importantly pineapple. Yummmmmm.  There was a nightly "professional" cliff dive that would take place at sunset.  However, the only night that we were actually there when the dive was supposed to take place, the diver forgot to show up!

At the Cliff Dive Bar

That's the Black Rock that is jutting out into the ocean.

We did in fact, explore much of the westside of Maui outside of our hotel {which I'll talk about in my next post}, but we also spent a few glorious days simply relaxing in a cabana on the beach at our hotel.  These were truly some of my favorite days.