Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Yo quiero Cafe Rio!

I realized something odd when I moved to PA-- there is an obvious lack of Mexican food restaurants. Seriously, Taco Bell is about as authentic as it gets out here. When I mentioned this to Sean, he said he thinks it is because the Latino people he meets out here are not from Mexico, rather places like Spain. Sorta makes sense. Needless to say, we’ve been missing Mexican food! And as with every other summer, we’ve been missing Café Rio—not that it is really Mexican food, but whatever.

Taryn and my sister-in-law have both given me Café Rio knock-off recipes for the sweet pork salad and this week I finally decided to give it a shot. Their recipes were different, so I went through and combined the things I liked from the two and made my own.

I figured if I was going to go through all of the effort to try and re-create the salad (seriously, when you look at the recipe you will see it is no light-weight commitment!) I should try to make it as close to the original as possible. This means I was a total nerd and even bought the little tin pans to serve the salad in. Oh, and since the grocery store’s only option for the tortilla strips was Fritos, I actually bought corn tortillas and fried my own. Again, I already admitted to being a nerd and just remember I have A LOT of free time people.

Final product:

Surprisingly, it was pretty darn good. It tasted a lot more like the real thing than I thought it would. I think the salad dressing is what made it taste most like the original. The pork was totally sweet and it truly did make me feel like I was eating a salad from the restaurant. I swear those tin pans made a difference! I will probably never go through the effort to make this at home again since I am going home soon and Café Rio really is amazing and a bargain (and a lot less work). It is a good option for those who miss it and aren’t in Utah though.

Here is the recipe I used in case you are interested in giving it a whirl yourself.
Note: I am not responsible for any writer’s cramp you experience as a result from writing this down.

1 1/3 c. sour cream
¾ c. mayo
1 bunch cilantro
1 pkg. dry Ranch dressing mix
3 small tomatillos
2 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lime
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes

Blend all ingredients together in blender.

2 Tbs. butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
3 c. uncooked rice
4 c. water
4 tsp. chicken bullion
½ c. chopped cilantro
¾ tsp. salt
1 tsp. lime zest
2 Tbs. lime juice
2 Tbs. sugar

Saute onion and garlic in butter til soft. Add rest of ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover with lid and simmer for 20 minutes.

Pork roast (mine was 2 lbs. and it was plenty for 4 or 5 big salads)
1 cup mild salsa
1 can Coke or Pepsi
2 c. brown sugar

Put pork roast in slow cooker. Mix rest of ingredients together and pour over pork. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours.

Assembly instructions:
Melt a small amount of shredded cheese onto a flour tortilla. Layer the following on top of the tortilla: rice, beans (black or pinto) that have been warmed, pork, shredded Romaine lettuce, pico de gallo (I made my own with chopped Roma tomatoes, onions and cilantro), a scoop of guacamole, a lime wedge, tortilla strips, and finally a shake of parmesan cheese.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Wicked Weekend

I finally got a chance to see Wicked last weekend in NYC. It's something I've been begging Sean to do for a long time, and I was not disappointed! The cast was amazing... especially Elphaba (the witch), and I couldn't believe how elaborate the set was. I've been listening to the soundtrack for a few years now, so it was really fun to see it live.

I also dragged Sean to three different H&Ms. I think even he was impressed with the NY stores' awesomeness. It is a good thing I tried to keep in mind that I'm going to be getting muy gordo because otherwise I think I could have done some major spending damage. I did pick up a couple of maternity shirts, which was an interesting experience in itself. How am I supposed to know how fat I'm going to get? On our way to this last store, we decided to ride in one of those bike carriage things (I'm sure there is an official name for them, but I obviously don't know what it is). Our "driver" was a young guy from Russia and was quite the little daredevil. We criss-crossed through NY traffic like it was nobody's business and I kid you not, on our final turn, the back wheels of our carriage skidded around the corner. At that point we couldn't even contain our laughter. I hope the nice Russian man was not offended by we unsophisticated Yanks.

Since Wicked and H&M were basically my choices in entertainment, Sean decided we ought to go to the top of the Empire State Building. Luckily our wait wasn't too horrible (a little more than an hour). It was a pretty hazy day, but the view was still worth it. We were laughing because the elevators to get to the top go about 50 floors in the same amount of time the elevator in our apartment building goes 3. Here's a few pictures from the top:

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Time for a new addition!

Looks like our little family is going to be growing by one! Yes, I'm pregnant! Sean and I are both BEYOND excited and can't believe we are going to be parents. It's something we've both wanted for a long time and we can't wait for the new addition. I am currently about 14 weeks along (just starting my second trimester). 

Many of you know we enlisted the help of fertility doctors to aid us in our journey to parenthood. We had a lot of people praying for us and we are so grateful! We tried in vitro for the fourth time at the end of April, and lucky for us, the fourth time was a charm! Both Sean and I were shocked when we found out it actually worked. In fact, I was convinced it hadn't because I had no symptoms. The morning I was supposed to take a pregnancy test, I woke up early and planned to just take the test and go back to bed. I didn't want to make a big deal of it so I didn't bother to wake Sean. Well, my cute husband figured out what I was doing and got up and waited outside the door. When he heard me scream he burst through the door and we both just started screaming. We've been celebrating ever since.

Lucky for me, I haven't been sick at all. I guess I thought I was going to be living life with my head over the toilet. Other than a few food aversions and the need for a nap every now and then, I feel pretty much normal! 

All I can say is modern medicine is an absolute blessing. We are so excited to finally be sharing the good news. We'll be sure to keep you updated as I expand!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Calendar commotion

Have you all heard about this little "Men on a Mission" calendar fiasco? I saw this article in the SL Trib yesterday about how the creator of the calendar was recently excommunicated. Then, today I was watching Inside Edition and they also did a segment about it. Must have been a SLOW entertainment news day...

So I actually first heard about the calendar last fall. I can't remember if it was in the news or someone had sent me an e-mail making fun of it or what. I ended up visiting the site to see what all the hoopla was about. Basically, it's a calendar of a bunch of pansy boy "missionaries" with their shirts off posing in somewhat provocative poses. I call them pansy because while they are muscular, they also shave their pitts, chest (and who knows what else) and I'm guessing they take more of an interest in clothes, hair products and tanning than most girls. I was surprised because in one of the shots I saw what appeared to be some G's peeking out above the guy's shorts. C-L-A-S-S-Y.

The creator of the calendar claims his goal is to break stereotypes. I've never bought this crappy excuse. To me it is insulting that he considers people stupid enough to believe this is not about money. What's better for publicity and sales than a little controversy? I also learned in the article I read yesterday that this guy hasn't actively participated in the church for six years... seems strage that someone who's "mission" it is to break stereotypes about his church doesn't actually take more interest IN the church itself. This is OBVIOUSLY about profit people.

If this guy wants to make a cheesy calendar filled with self-obsessed "faithful returned missionaries" he is more than welcome to... I have the choice not to buy it. What bugs me is his so-called reasoning behind doing so. He should really just tell it like it is and admit that he saw an opportunity to make a profit off of a calendar he knew would be controversial. As for me? I'll stick to Ansel Adams, thanks.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Diving for dollars

Every summer, Sean and Rob do an incentive for the sales guys called "Diving for Dollars." What, you ask, is this cleverly named activity? It is a two-week competition between the sales reps where the more sales they make, the more time they earn in the pool-- which happened to have $2,000 in coins scattered on the bottom. Basically they get to keep anything they can get their hands on. It is always one of my favorite parts of the summer because there just isn't anything like seeing a group of grown men almost drowning themselves and diving to the point of exhaustion. One particular rep. really got into the spirit of it all and showed up in this hot little number:

VERY, very nice Austin. His wife also slicked him up with baby oil to make the occasion even more special.

Here's a shot of some of the guys in the heat of the action!

The office had a BBQ after all was said and done, and I must pay homage to the grill master, a.k.a. our friend Rob:

Not only does he love to cook, he cooks well! He had us over for dinner a few weeks ago and I could not believe he made the entire meal himself-- and it was delicious! I guess the idea of a guy in the kitchen is foreign to me (wink wink Sean). Anyway, Rob, you have mad skills!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A visit to the Amish countryside...

I convinced Sean to take me to Lancaster county on Sunday so we could check out Amish country. It was only about an hour away from our apartments and it turned out to be a great little trip! We did a lot of driving through the countryside and saw hundreds of buggies (although we weren't really sure whether or not it was ok to pass them in our car). Sean was fascinated with how small and narrow they were. At one point he turned to me all serious and said, "Do you think the Amish teenagers take their buggies out at night and race them?" Too funny. I also had to keep reminding him that Amish people are nothing like the FLDS or the people in the movie "The Village."

We ended up visiting the small cities around Lancaster-- Paradise, Intercourse (yes, you read that correctly) and Bird-in-Hand (hmmm someone was being creative with that one). The countryside was beautiful! Miles and miles of green rolling hills and farms. We were actually really surprised because those Amish people live in some NICE houses! We're talking big, nice houses. The only way we could really tell they were Amish was because they would have a garage (more like a barn) with a buggy inside instead of a car.

We loved these covered bridges!

If the scenery isn't enough to entice you to visit, here's one more reason to make the trip:

Yes friends, it is a Pottery Barn outlet. I'd heard they existed! Random to put the store in the middle of Amish country, but hey, whatever. I was worried the store would be like a J.Crew outlet-- still really expensive, just not quite as expensive as the original. I was pleasantly surprised because they had a ton of merchandise and furniture and most of the prices were significantly reduced. I picked up some cute shadow-box frames for only $5 each!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

God Bless America!

Hope everyone had a great Fourth of July! We had an awesome day celebrating the traditional way... lots of food and fireworks. While the sales guys were off hard at work, all of girls got together and had a big bbq at the pool. Everyone brought something to share and we had some amazing food (and plenty of it)! The guys got done selling early so they met us up at the pool when they got home. I was laughing my head off when I saw them doing this:

The goal was to make a "basket" in the green tube, which eventually they did-- I just didn't catch it on camera. We were planning to go watch a big fireworks show, but it started raining and we'd heard a lot of the shows were cancelled. Luckily the rain eased up for awhile and a bunch of people from the office got together and we lit off our own fireworks!

As we were lighting our fireworks, we heard these big booms and we all ran toward the river in front of our apartments. Turns out there was a huge fireworks show just up the road and we could see it all perfectly from where we were! The fireworks looked really cool by the river with the reflection on the water. It was a great surprise and so nice to watch the whole show without having to travel anywhere!

After all of the fireworks we went and discovered our inner rock stars by playing Rock Band with a bunch of friends. Sean and I had never played, but we LOVED it. I thought the drums were so fun and Sean was quite the vocalist! Here's a shot of he and Glade rocking out:

Anyway, it was a great Fourth of July. I think about how lucky we are to live in the United States all the time. After reading John Adams' biography earlier this summer, I have a new respect for our Founding Fathers' efforts and all of the other early colonists who stuck it to the British and created the greatest country in the world.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The sky is falling!

Anyone else feel like throwing the remote at the TV when the news comes on? It seems like the world is hard pressed for good news these days. I usually make it a point to watch some sort of news program each day because I think it is important to know what is going on in the world, but lately I’d rather just leave the TV off. Why? Well, because it seems like every story focuses on how bleak life is and the same few stories keep being recycled day after day. In case you’re not a news fan, here are the little gems you’re missing:

1. Gasp! Oil has hit a new record price per barrel causing gas prices to rise. This story inevitably shows a shot of a gas station’s prices and includes an interview with someone who is angry that it is costing them $80 to fill up.

2. The housing market is in the biggest slump since the year XXXX (the year changes daily) and foreclosures are at an all time high. This story comes complete with a cheesy graph next to the news anchor’s head with a big red arrow pointing up or down (depending on which angle they take).

3. Food prices continue to rise (see #1), making grocery shopping even MORE enjoyable.

4. The polar ice caps are melting at an alarming rate and we are all going to die because of our wicked materialistic ways. My favorite is when they show parts of the world that are going to be submersed under water—peace out Manhattan!

5. Don’t eat tomatoes because you might die. And no, the FDA still has not figured out this whole situation so I am once again reminded that I am stuck eating sub-par sandwiches.

6. Obama attacks McCain on X and McCain attacks Obama on Y. Blah blah blah. The news is not a good place to learn about the candidates—there is always an agenda. Dan Rather anyone?

7. Earthquakes, floods and fires are seemingly wiping out the human race.

I’m sure there are many more sunshine-filled stories I’m neglecting to mention, but you get the idea! I guess I'll go start building my bunker now.