Rando Photo Ops

After last night’s engagement photo shoot, I realized to my great dismay that I am not a photographer. I know this may surprise you, what with my killer Snapchat history, but it’s true. Our photographer, Joy, was perfectly lovely, and spoke of cameras and lenses the way Brian speaks of computery programmery things…or the way I speak of cheese. Using a language specific to the passion.

Despite my lack of skills, I thought I’d share some of my finer moments of photography.

What’s on my phone?

We’ll start with my ability to capture moving subjects. Drunk girls can’t sit still, apparently.

Erma Bombeck and awesome writers including Gina Barecca

Sometimes, I take fuzzy selfies with my writer friends posing with Gina Barecca – who’s awesome.

I really enjoy capturing random subjects. Like dinosaur meeples from board games.

dinosaur meeple

Like when I take photos of dinosaurs to send my friend, Smash…and then I never send them.

Other times, I pretend I’m an archictural photographer and snap shots of buildings in the city.

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And then, when I’m in Florida, I think I’m a nature photographer. Look out, National Geographic.  I’m coming for you.

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But, when it comes to the things I love…I think I’ve got this photo thing down.

I’m a foodtographer.

image

And a cheesetographer.

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And a Briantographer.

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And a yogatographer.

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And a selfietographer. Of course.

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I guess we’re all photographers in our own right…but I’ll leave the big stuff to the professionals.

What are some of your favorite photos in your phone?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Champagne and Mom Go Hand in Hand

There are many wonderful things I love in this world. Cheese. Brian. Brunch. My mom. Being a godmother. My own godmother. (Don’t worry dad. I love you, too!) And, I promise this is in no particular, highly calculated order or anything.

I’ve always loved Mother’s Day, despite the having-never-been-a-mother thing I’ve got going for me. It’s one of the Big Five holidays in our family–Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter, Mother’s Day–as we’re largely a matriarchy with loud, confident women (if I told you I was the quiet one, would you believe me?). Which pretty much means feasting, family, fighting, and fun. Now that Brian and I own our own home, we like to host family gatherings. I’m not going to lie, though, I’m using the term “we” loosely.

Last year, I took over Mother’s Day (and Halloween. And Christmas Day). As I’m the lady of the family without kids, I wanted to make the moms in my life feel special. So I invited my parents and brother, my godmother and her husband, and my cousin, the mother of my godson, and her family over for an early afternoon brunch of joy. I have every intention of doing it again this year, because it was ridiculous amounts of fun.

So, without further ado, I’m going to give you everything you need to create a delightfully magical brunch for your fam.

Sometimes, I like to have a bloody Mary bar when I host brunch, but I thought it would be fancy if I planned a glorious mimosa bar.

Everything you need for a mimosa bar

  • Champagnemy preferred drink of choice. Obviously.
  • Sparkling almond champagne – It’s a little bit sweeter for your guests who prefer a fruitier beverage
  • Peach bellini – Trader Joe’s has a really great bottle of this stuff and it rounds out your set nicely
  • Orange juice – Apparently, people add this to champagne. It’s not my bag, but I offered it anyways
  • Pineapple juice – I promise, this is WAY tastier than OJ, but you do you, my friends
  • Sliced peaches, oranges, and pineapples – Go big or go home, guys. If you’re going to all the trouble of creating a mimosa bar, make sure you’ve got the right accouterments
  • Maraschino cherries and strawberries – who needs a proverbial cherry on top when you can have a real one? And come on. Strawberries and champagne? Did you even see Pretty Woman?

For Mother's Day, I like to host a brunch for my mom, my godmother, and the mother of my godson to celebrate the beautiful and wonderful mothers in my life.

Now that we’ve got the drinks covered, let’s talk about food. In my family, we cook to feed an army. So when I make brunch, I make a lot of brunch. But…I’m also conscientious of my time. And so when I think about things like cinnamon rolls, I buy them from a store. Some call it cheating. I call it ingenuity.

With kids and adults, creative palates and traditional tastes, I like to offer a wide range of options for everyone. Here is my list of top food stuffs to include on my brunch menu.

Brunch ideas for the whole family

  • Eggs – if you’re going for gold, you can make eggs to order (I don’t) or eggs benedict in a chafing pan. Me? I make cheesy eggs and throw them in a crock pot half cooked. By the time everyone is ready to eat, they’re fully cooked. I also like to offer options, so sometimes, I’ll also make an egg casserole or strata or something.
Breakfast Casserole

This delicious beast is eggs, broccoli, cheddar, and ham atop a glorious crescent roll crust.

  • Potatoes – Nothing says brunch like a big ole pan of cheesy potatoes. I like to throw in shredded potatoes, whatever random cheeses I have in the cheese drawer, some onions, and whatever cream condensed soup is hanging out in the cabinet. The last time I made it, I used Campbell’s Creamy Gouda Bisque, and it was amazing.
Cheesy potatoes

Bake until there’s a golden bubble, and then add more cheese. Of course.

  • Meat – You’ve gotta have something meaty and delicious, but since my family is all over the place, I tend to have 2-3 different types of meat. We might have smoked salmon (cold or hot smoked – both are delicious), bacon/sausage and turkey bacon/sausage, because that tends to make everyone happy. One year I made bacon-wrapped dates and turkey bacon-wrapped dates and LOOK OUT world, because Chrissy forgot to take the pits out of the dates. Everyone ate them anyway (and had to get rid of the pits, obvi).
  • Yogurt bar – This is always a hit. Just get some vanilla yogurt (don’t get Greek yogurt. As much as I love it, everyone will think the regular vanilla is FABULOUS), fresh fruit, local honey, and granola. It’s easy, and you don’t have to cook anything!
  • Baked goods – Fruit breads, muffins, cinnamon rolls, slices of bread for toast, English muffins, bagels, etc. There’s no need to bake these yourself when Panera or Peapod will do it for you. Serve with jams, butter and cream cheese.

Cinnamon rolls

Invite guests with style

Now, you’ve got a plan; it’s time to send out invites. While paper invitations are great for, like, weddings and stuff (and only because my mom is making me do it), I’m a fan of the digitation. For your Mother’s Day brunch, you can use Evite to create personalized invitations with easy-to-track guest lists. Boom.

Evite Sample

What are you doing for Mother’s Day? Do you host or go out to eat? 

This post was sponsored by Evite. Some links used in the content may be affiliate links, which will garner me a small commission should you make a purchase. This helps offset the costs of running this little ole blog. As always, all opinions, ideas, etc are my own. 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Last week, I offered you some wise dating advice. I left The Grown Up hanging while I meandered off to a late breakfast. I just KNOW he was waiting with baited breath for my imminent return. And as any good obsessive dater does, I couldn’t wait to get back and chat with him some more. Our conversation was…well, okay, fine. It wasn’t quite riveting. I was imagining him to be this amazing, wonderful, adorable, brilliant creature of a man who would one day love me, marry me and make babies with me. I pictured our life together, and I believed in my heart that he would lead me down a magical path to happily ever after. Don’t you do that with every guy you talk to? No? Just me?

Timeline

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can start from the beginning with the story of the boys that invited me to Ireland and work your way back here.

Sheepishly continues the story

I returned from my breakfast date several hours later and professed my adorably undying love for breakfast. The Grown Up responded soon after with this gem:

TGU: There’s no way you just had breakfast at 2:30pm…unless…gasp…you had a double breakfast! One standard breakfast and then breakfast for lunch. That’s madness!!!
Me: Man, I wish.
But I was at breakfast for like 3 hours.
Although now that I think about it…breakfast for lunch would rock

Yeah, Chrissy. Like you’d never had breakfast for lunch before. FAKER.

TGU: only on Sundays. It’s ILLEGAL to even attempt that on any other day
Me: WHAT!?!
Now that’s just crazy talk
TGU: ILLEGAL! In most municipalities and jurisdictions…if they catch you…I…I don’t even know what they might do.
Just be careful.
There are various underground restaurants that flout this law.
I’ve heard that some of those restaurants are actually narcs…and just put those items on the menu to entrap potential law-breakers.
(BTW, a 3 hour breakfast? seriously?)
Me: well…we were talking!
I was meeting with someone in my organization
so partially business stuff…
but he’s also a friend, and going through some shit.

We chatted for a while about some pretty deep shit, relating to marriage and relationships (Is it weird to talk about marriage with a potential partner?). He continued to throw in his snarky commentary, regardless of the gravity of the topic. He was able to find humor in almost anything. And he made me laugh.

The conversation took a turn for the worst when The Grown Up had a problem with his iPhone…it stopped working, and he cursed the little i for breaking on him, swearing that he wasn’t really an Apple guy anyways, and this was one of the reasons why. I couldn’t have agreed more, but apparently he was so distraught and irritated that he had to abruptly end our chat. Again.

As he disappeared from my chat list, I should have been thinking about how he kept flaking as soon as the conversation got interesting. But I lived in my little la la land, and imagined my future relationship with The Grown Up. I found his words intoxicating, I was consistently entertained by his sense of humor, and excited at the prospect of dating someone who wasn’t a scrub. I went in with a plan. The next time I talked to him, I was GOING to ask him out. I just was.

I often gave advice to my friends, telling them that they should ask a guy out, for a specific day, thus actually asking him on a real date. Of course, I was painfully shy as soon as I actually liked someone, and at that point I wished I had someone on the inside to make it happen for me. Basically, I was a chicken shit. He still had not given me his phone number, and I hadn’t either. It was weird to only communicate with someone via chat that I had actually met in real life and not through an online dating site. But I was crushing hard, and not thinking logically. I still couldn’t stalk him to find anything about him on Facebook or MySpace or Google.

So I would have to wait. Again.

But next week? The story gets really good.

If you could go back in time and knock some fucking sense into the me of the past, what would you tell her? I’m driving myself crazy remembering how nutso and immature I was back then. I almost feel sorry for The Grown Up – do you? Any lingering courtships that took forever to get away from the gate?

Click the pic below to find out what happens next!

The story continues. This is it. Make or break time. photo credit: L1010203_v1 via photopin (license)

The story continues. This is it. Make or break time. photo credit: L1010203_v1 via photopin (license)

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Holiday Leftover Breakfast Pizza – It Sounds Gross, But Even Brian Liked It

Okay, so after Thanksgiving, my girlfriend Brookie Banosnapper Snapchatted me with her fancy “Turkey and hollandaise with poached eggs on flatbread” and “I’m making all the soup from Thanksgiving leftovers” I’m-cooler-than-you-videos.

In typical lady fashion, I had to one-up her.

I also had to use some of the Thanksgiving leftovers that I had in order to make room in my fridge for Second Thanksgiving food prep and such. It was a Saturday morning. I was bored. I was hungry. And I thought…what the hell? Let’s get experimental and crazy up in here.

So I did this. And OMG even Brian was down with it.

Holiday leftovers breakfast pizza

If you have Snapchat, why aren’t we friends yet?

The beauty of this breakfast treat is that it’s totally relevant after whatever holiday feast you’ve got going for you. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Easter. Random fancy-pants Sunday dinner if you do that sort of thing.

Holiday Leftover Breakfast Pizza Recipe

Holiday leftover breakfast pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 can of crescent rolls
  • 1 cup turkey
  • 1 cup ham
  • 1 cup cranberry sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups cheese (or more) (I used brie on half and Vella Dry Monterey Jack on half)
  • 3 Eggs

Method

  1. Roll out crescent rolls in a circular shape on a round pan (I used my pizza stone, but you can use non-stick pans or whatever you prefer, really)
  2. Bake for 15-20 minutes depending on the type of pan you used (longer for stoneware) and your preferred crustiness
  3. Slice or shred cheese (I sliced the brie and shredded the Jack)
  4. Dice ham and turkey (if you don’t have a cup of each, don’t worry about it…I’m really bad at that whole measuring thing)
  5. Add the meat to a non-stick frying pan (or a regular frying pan with your spray, butter, or oil of choice)
  6. Cook for a minute
  7. Crack the eggs over the meat and scramble in the pan (I prefer this method to pre-scrambling, but you can do it your scrambled way and it’ll work just fine)
  8. Set the scrambled eggs aside
  9. Remove the crescent crust from the oven and spread with cranberry sauce (I knew Brian wouldn’t want the cranberry, so I only used that on half the pizza)
  10. Evenly distribute the scrambled eggs on the cranberry sauce or crust
  11. Top with cheese (I used brie over the cranberry side and the Jack on the non-cran side)
  12. Return the pan to the oven to melt cheese (keep it on bake if you’re using stoneware, broil otherwise)
  13. Remove when cheese is melted
  14. Slice and enjoy

Brian was surprisingly impressed with my Thanksgiving leftovers breakfast pizza concept (and thankful that I didn’t include the cranberry sauce on his half). I had two slices for breakfast and two slices for lunch, while Brian ate 4 slices for brunch – he doesn’t wake up in time to eat breakfast with the laypeople. He also added a little sriracha hot sauce to his slices, and that was pretty damn tasty too.

What weirdo creations have you concocted with leftovers? Tell me your leftover war stories – the good, the bad and the ugly. Any kitchen successes that probably should have been fails or vice versa?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

I May Not Have Won a Bloggie, but I did Win a Dance Off and That’s Good Enough for Me.

So, y’all remember how I’m an elite Yelper, right? The other night, I attended a sweet Elite event at my favorite breakfast restaurant, which happens to conveniently live across the street from me…for 17 more days.

At this delightful event, we were served mimosas, crepes and French toast…in our pajamas. And you know how I feel about breakfast. I love me a pajama jammy jam if there ever was one, and any opportunity to wear my sparkle camo slippers in public is a big win.

There are sequins on them, I swear. Also, don’t judge my Polish cankles.

Anyways, so I found out at about 7 that the Bloggies went and lied, saying they were tweeting the winners on March 31, but really they did it on the 30th. Whatevs. I was over it with three swigs of my mimosa. (I was honored to be nominated for THREE flippin’ categories, and it makes my heart happy that y’all supported me in this endeavor. So thank you!)

But THEN the Yelpy community manager, Candice was all, “Hey there’s a dance off!”

And I was all, “Pants on dance off, right? No public pants off dance offs, right?” Because sometimes you have to confirm that shit.

My pal, V, was chanting like “Do it! Do it! Do it!”

And I’m thinking to myself, Fuck. I’m not wearing a bra…

And then I thought…But I have mad dance skillz. 

OBVIOUSLY, I danced anyway…

And tied for first place. It was a great honor for sure, because my dance moves were rocking (not). I did the running man, the twist, the Chrissy (basically bounce around like a fool until someone tells you to sit down before you hurt yourself) and many more. And I looked like an ass. But people think I’m funny…or they feel sorry for me and I got a gift card to go back and get me some corned beef hash bennies (it’s the best corned beef hash ever. Even better than my own corned beef hash recipe!) *drool*

And here’s a video created by one of my favorite Yelpvendors Andres D., photographer/videographer extraordinaire!

Have you ever participated in or won a dance off? What did you win? Would you do it? What would you dooooo for a Klondike bar (or an ice cream sandwich cake)?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Makin’ Breakfast with my Ozeri Green Earth Frying Pan AKA Corned Beef Hash JOY

I recently had the opportunity to work with Ozeri, who sent me a free 8″ Green Earth Ceramic Non-stick Frying Pan to test out in my kitchen. The product was free, but as usual, no one paid me to say nice things. Those are all me.

I was super excited when this pan arrived in the mail. I’ve been jonesing for a new pan for quite some time now, and when Ozeri asked me to work with them I was all, “HECK YES!” Plus, I’ve been having some SERIOUS trouble with my cast iron skillet, so this was a nice vacation from that.

The color is a happy shade of green, which just makes me smile, and the textured coating is unique. I was concerned by it at first, but I rapidly discovered that it was not a problem at all. When they said non-stick, they meant it!

I decided that I’d be making breakfast for you, since it’s kind of my thing. And with St. Patrick’s Day, I had a corned beef from the Irish deli just waiting to be used. This recipe is SUPER easy, so get ready for it.

Corned Beef Hash

Ingredients

  • 1 thick slice of corned beef (simmered the night before)
  • 5 canned whole potatoes (cooked in the corned beef pot)Corned Beef and Potatoes
  • a pinch of onion powder
  • a pinch of thyme
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 Tbs Kerry Gold Irish Butter with Garlic and Herbs (you can use regular butter…but why?)

Kerry Gold Irish Butter with Garlic and Herbs

That’s all.

Steps

  1. Dice corned beef into tiny pieces
  2. Dice potatoes into tiny pieces (they should be a little sticky)Homemade Corned Beef Hash
  3. Mix potatoes and beef together
  4. Sprinkle seasonings and salt over mixture
  5. Mix well
  6. Melt butter in Ozeri Green Earth Frying PanKerry Gold Butter in Ozeri Green Earth Frying Pan
  7. Add corned beef mixtureCorned Beef Hash in Green Earth Frying Pan
  8. Fry until golden brown (or preferred crispness)2014-03-20 08.00.18

The pan was AWESOME to work with. I walked about for about 5 minutes while the corned beef hash was frying and sizzling in the pan and nothing stuck to the pan, nothing caused problems. You’ll even see in the video that I created for you how easily everything cooked up in my Ozeri pan.

Of course, it’s important to clean the pan well. It came with all sorts of instructions to make sure that I keep it in top notch condition. Obviously, Brian’s not allowed to play with this one. Yet, anyways. So I made sure that it was cooled down before I cleaned it, as recommended by the product guide. I don’t want to chance it in our shoddy apartment dishwasher, so I have hand washed it every time I’ve used it so far.

Look, guys! I made you a video! You’re welcome.

If you click on the links to Amazon products above, and buy things, you will be supporting my cheese habit. And you’ll be buying a rockin’ awesome pan. So there’s that.

Blog Friends, do you have a favorite pan at home? Or a love of corned beef hash? Or breakfast in general?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

A Love Letter. To Denny’s.

Yes, yes…Denny’s occasionally sends me gift cards to test out their tasty treats, but if I wasn’t a fan, I wouldn’t say yes. So, just because I got to enjoy the following breakfast sandwich at no-cost to me, doesn’t mean I don’t go there on my own. Because I do.

Dear Denny’s,

Thank you so much for creating a most-delicious breakfast sandwich. I feel like you can read my mind. It’s like you KNOW how much I love breakfast. And breakfast sandwiches, in particular. And a good deal on top of that! Even more so, I feel that you’re really trying to be innovative with your breakfast options. You accommodate the foodies with unique ideas and flavorful combinations. You accommodate the breakfast traditionalists. And most importantly for this girl right now, you accommodate the healthy eaters.

Just because I’m starting a healthy-ish eating plan today doesn’t mean I intend to banish dining out from my routine. Nor does it mean that I can’t indulge in a breakfast sandwich every now and then. But if I can enjoy a healthy alternative that doesn’t make me FEEL like I’m giving anything up? Awesome. That’s where you come in, Denny’s. Because your new fit fare breakfast sandwich? To die for.

Denny's Breakfast Sandwich

Look at that healthy plate of joy. It looked just like the picture on the menu! And nooo, that isn’t a side of hashbrowns that I ordered to go with my healthy breakfast (OK, fine. Yes it is. But I didn’t eat them all…OK, fine. Yes I did. Gosh!)

Now if I was rolling on a budget, and didn’t want the healthy fruit and yogurt side, I could also have gotten a sandwich and hashbrowns for $4. Um, tastier than fast food with higher quality ingredients and…wait for it…cheaper?!

Sold.

Denny’s you’re getting better every day.

I look forward to more delicious adventures with you in the very near future,

Sincerely,

Me.

Denny's Fit Fare

Of course, for those of you who aren’t trying to eat healthy and don’t want a breakfast sandwich loaded with egg whites, turkey bacon, spinach, tomatoes and pepper jack cheese, you can get a deliciously loaded meaty-cheesy-eggy sandwich instead. Either way, you’ll be pleased. I was.

Blog friends, do you have favorite breakfast combinations? Comfort food for the morning soul? Keep the conversation going on Twitter with @DennysDiner

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Denny’s: From High School Hangout to Tasty Breakfast Spot

Remember when you used to go hang out at Denny’s until curfew? Drinking coffee with your pals, talking about everything, playing card games and other random large group games like Mafia? Or in college, when you’d go for large group late night snacks after your fraternity’s chapter meeting, sipping on strawberry shakes while waiting for your loaded cheese fries with sour cream instead of ranch because you hated ranch with a fiery passion that could only be matched by your love for cheese? Or maybe that was just me.

Denny’s was a staple in my high school and college life. It’s a great place to reminisce. And as I more recently learned, it’s a great place to celebrate change. For the better.

A few weeks ago, as I was watching Breaking Bad’s Season 5.2 premier, I was excited to see that Walter White was enjoying his 52nd birthday at Denny’s. And that he got it for free. (In case you’re wondering, I have a Google spreadsheet with a list of places to get free food on your birthday. And yes, Denny’s is TOTALLY on that list. Maybe one day I’ll share my list with you.)

Breaking Bad 52 Bacon

And maybe if you’re really nice, they’ll shape the bacon for you.

But when I made my way into Denny’s this past weekend, I was all over their BYO Omelette menu. You guys, let me tell you a little about the awesome add-ins that you can use to create the biggest, tastiest omelette for a really great price.

Breaking Bad 52 Bacon

  • 6 different cheeses (YES!)
  • 7 different meats
  • 7 different veggies (including some sauteed options)

I opted for cheddar cheese, chicken sausage, pico de gallo, jalapenos and avocado on an egg-white omelette (in an effort to be somewhat healthy, despite my add on of hash browns. Hey…I was proud that I opted out of the added bacon and cheese on my hashbrowns, okay?)

I was also super stoked to discover that Denny’s has a meal nutritional calculator on their site, which I could even use on my fancy phone. I knew going into the hash browns that they were 6 points plus on my Weight Watchers plan and the omelette that I created was still going to be a whopping 11 points plus. But for a delicious breakfast chock full of protein, I could totally deal. Besides, breakfast IS the most important meal of the day. And quite frankly, I’d rather use my points in the morning than at night. So about that omelette…

I LOVE that they actually put all of the ingredients INSIDE a folded egg. You don’t know how often I get annoyed when the ingredients are cooked into the eggy part. Because then what’s the difference between that and a finely shaped scrambled egg? The best part? The avocado wasn’t slimey or brown. And I could SEE that they didn’t skimp on the ingredients. Happy breakfast = happy Chrissy. Denny's BYO OmeletteOverall, I was thoroughly impressed with my fast and delicious meal. That chicken sausage? WAY tastier than a lot of turkey sausages I’ve tried.

Guys, do you have any positive Denny’s memories or experiences to add to the conversation? Would you go try out this tasty Build-Your-Own-Omelette menu? Do you even like breakfast?

This post was sponsored by the fine people at Denny’s. I was compensated with a gift card to try out their new BYO omelette menu. I was not compensated to say nice things; those were all mine to say. You can keep this conversation going socially by connecting with @DennysDiner and using the #BYOomelette.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!