Monthly Archive: December 2012

Christmas Day 2012

Posted by Nicole

Christmas seems to come and go each year, but I’m going to go back in time and pretend that it just happened yesterday, okay?

I have said it a few times and I’ll say it again – I love having two Christmases each year! For this year’s Christmas Day celebrations, Lauren and I went over to our Dad and Lauretta’s house for a day filled with games, presents, delicious food, and lots of family time. We had quite a crowd this year- Lauren and me, our Dad and Lauretta, stepsis Katie, stepbro Steve and his wife Amy, and Amy’s father and his wife… visiting all the way from Scotland!


The breakfast spread featured all the favorites: cinnamon rolls, fruit, blueberry coffee cake, and the cheese/jam pastry round. There were also some new foods on the table though, notably cantaloupe and pineapple with bits of mint leaves in the mix. The mint-filled fruit dish and a few dishes later in the day were Scotland-inspired, and so SO delicious!


We started the day by opening stockings.

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To fuel ourselves for the annual game of Christmas Jeopardy, we filled our mugs with spiked “apple pies” and got to gaming. The game included Christmas-themed questions about movies, world traditions, song lyrics, etc. Our family sure can get competitive, and both teams ended up tied after the final jeopardy question.

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We filled our plates with more food and then moved into the living room for some photos. It was nice to have a big live tree for the day, compared to our miniature one at my mom’s house the night before.

christmas tree

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Then it was time to open presents! I loved all the gifts that I received, but I think that seeing people open the gifts that we got them was much better!


Of course I had to get my dad a USC related gift.


And Steve got a Slap Chop — one of the more important items on his Christmas list.


After opening presents, final touches were made in the kitchen.


Us kids decided to leave the kitchen work to the adults and headed out for a short walk to Starbucks. Ben (one of David’s sons) was working as a barista and it was fun to visit him and give him another tip Christmas gift, especially because he had to work on the holiday!


Back at the house, it was time to eat dinner!

Turkey stuffed with oranges


White Bean Salad – made by Amy’s dad – It was delicious and hopefully we will get the recipe to share!


Tabouleh Salad – also made by Amy’s dad – This dish was to.die.for.!!!!! I just finished all my leftovers and am looking forward to hopefully making some more for myself! I need the recipe stat.


Egg and Wine Walnut Breads from Le Boulanger


Cantaloupe, Banana Bread, Sour Cream (I think), Beets, Bacon


Cheesy Garlic Mashed Potatoes


I also brought over a big container of leftover roasted vegetables from Christmas Eve dinner. This was my first plate:


You know that dinner and dessert are so good when you keep on eating despite stomach pains from being painfully full! Lauren and I definitely indulged, but how could we not? It was a tasty, tasty Christmas day.

We ended the night with Cards of Humanity. We are slightly obsessed with this game :)


Alright, time to publish the post and eat dinner! I just got to our cabin in Groveland/Yosemite with my mom, David, and two of his sons. We are snowshoeing and hiking tomorrow… should be an adventure!

– Nicole

Christmas Eve 2012

Posted by Nicole

Christmas Eve was an extremely long, busy, and fun-filled day. My mom, Lauren, and I woke up early, got coffee, checked out of the hotel, and hopped on the southbound train out of San Francisco.

san francisco bart

On the way back home, we made our annual stop at Sun Fat Fish Market to pick up supplies for Cioppino. This year, we got crab, mussels, clams, prawns, squid, and snapper — All fresh from the San Francisco Bay! Literally, the live crab were wheeled in while we were in the store.

sun fat san francisco sun fat san francisco sun fat san francisco

After a few errand stops (wedding ring for David!, lunch, and bridesmaids shoes), we were back home and ready to get started on the night’s feast.

I made two loaves of whole wheat banana bread while my mom prepared the cioppino base. She always uses the prepared Cioppino sauce from Trader Joe’s and adds onions, spices, and other magical stuff to make it extra delicious.

whole wheat banana bread


Next, I chopped two eggplants, a lot of carrots and parsnips, a butternut squash, some brussels sprouts, and some broccoli (from our garden!) and tossed them with olive oil, minced onion, garlic powder, a summer savory spice blend, and red pepper flakes. The veggies roasted for about 40 minutes on 420* and turned out great!

While the step-bros played video games, the rest of us finished setting up for the feast. My mom decorated the beautiful table and we took advantage of Lauren’s DIY chalkboard glasses.


DY chalkboard glasses

As for the rest of the food:

christmas feast

Wine Walnut Wheat Bread and Seeded Sourdough from Le Boulanger


Salad with Apples, Cranberries, Pistachios, Green Onions, and Bleu Cheese Dressing


Candied Walnuts and Pineapples for the salad


Roasted Vegetables

roasted vegetables

Cioppino with Lemon Pepper Noodles

christmas cioppino

Unpictured: Polenta rounds spiced up with garlic powder and cayenne

Desserts Galore! Brittle, Pumpkin Roll, Sugar Cookies, Hersheys Kisses, Dark Chocolate Powerberries (from TJ’s, love these) + Pie, Chocolate Covered Figs, M&Ms, Peppermint Bark, etc.


Dinner was delicious! My (first) plate:

christmas eve dinner

christmas 2012 mom family

After dinner, we all hobbled into the family room to open the mountain of presents. We didn’t have a Christmas tree this year, so the presents went in the middle of the room. OK, scratch that, we did have a miniature 12 Days of Christmas tree out!




As we opened gifts, there were smiles all around. Some of our highlight gifts: a new camera lens and an Apple TV for Lauren, snowshoes and a beautiful Canon Rebel T3i for me; and so much more! We were very very blessed this year.

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We ended the night with many rounds of Cards Against Humanity and then called it a night.


Christmas Eve was so fun! I love having two Christmases each year :) Details about the second Christmas with our Dad’s side of the family coming soon.

– Nicole

Instead of blogging…

Posted by Nicole

… I’ve been enjoying life in the beautiful Almaden Valley.

almaden valley

… I’ve been back in the kitchen helping Lauren make cupcakes.

gingerbread cupcakes

… I’ve been hanging with my two best friends, Jessi and Cassie.

jessi cassie

… I’ve been dressing up for holiday parties, and of course throwing up the DG pose when given the chance.


… I’ve been poppin’ champagne to celebrate reunions with high school friends.

popping champagne

… I’ve been cooking some wonderful food! I can’t wait to share details about our delicious Christmas Eve and Christmas Day eats.


… I’ve been shopping in the city and trying to keep warm (I miss the LA sunshine!)

christmas union square tree

… I’ve been taking pictures with my beautiful new Canon Rebel T3i! Best Christmas surprise ever!


… I’ve been loving all of the family time!


… I’ve been putting my mind in the gutter while playing Cards Against Humanity. This “adult Apples to Apples game” is the best. Plus, all of the laughing burns calories from dinner, second dinner, dessert, second dessert, third dessert, etc…..

cards against humanity

Some things that I haven’t been doing: studying, going to class, doing to dance practices, and working out in general. Since the 3 mile run on the 21st, I haven’t even thought about exercise until today. The fitness break was nice, but I kind of feel like I lost all of the muscle in my body! It’s weird how a few days off will have you feeling like that.

Today I finally got a workout in: 4 mile run, 25 mins on the bike, and some random strength exercises. I was relieved that I didn’t lose “all of the muscle in my body.”

It’s not all back to normal clean eating and working out though. I’m not freaking out about going back to my mostly clean diet. I’m currently snacking on rice krispie treats and waiting for my friends to come over. That’s the way the holiday break should be!

Winter break is so wonderful so far — full details about Christmas Eve and Christmas Day coming soon!

– Nicole

Question: What was your favorite Christmas present this year?

Question: How big of a priority do YOU think blogging is during break?

oola, San Francisco XMAS 2012

Posted by Lauren and Nicole

N: Our Christmas Eve Eve dinner was fantastic! Lauren picked out such a perfect restaurant for the occasion. The restaurant was dimly lit, not too loud, and a convenient location from Union Square.

oola san francisco


860 Folsom Street, San Francisco 94107

L: However, oola wasn’t very good for photos. I apologize for the poor quality, grainy, blurry pictures in this post, but the food was too tasty not to talk about (and visuals are always appreciated, right?).

oola san francisco soma restaurant

L: Unlike the past two years (Wayfare Tavern & Barbacco), this year’s reservation wasn’t just for the three of us! Our aunt Cori, uncle Peter, and cousins Collin and Morgan joined us after watching The Hobbit! Our party of 7 showed up just before the kitchen officially opened (~5:50 PM), but the server sat us immediately. The six remaining booths filled up quickly, but the whole time the small restaurant felt like it was open “just for us.”

N: I started with a Diet coke, but the older folks split a bottle of wine.

oola san francisco wine soma

L: I l-o-v-e-d this wine. Ruby red, a steady sweetness, fresh and round, slightly acidic, raspberry or blackberry or blueberry flavors… can’t be sure which. I’m glad the adults shared this, because otherwise I would have hogged it all to myself!

oola san francisco asparagus butter lettuce salac

N: For my meal, I ordered the asparagus and butter lettuce salad. It was so fresh and delicious. The asparagus were very thick and seemed organic and in season. I love bleu cheese and candied walnuts, so this sure was my dream salad. I also ordered a side of the brown butter brussels sprouts, which were mixed with capers and sage. They were a little too buttery, but that didn’t stop me from clearing the plate!

brussel sprouts oola san francisco

oola san francisco mac cheese

N: I also had a few bites of the baked manchego and cheddar mac and cheese that my mom ordered. It was great; complete with a bread crumb topping, fresh thyme, and plenty of decadent, creamy cheese.

oola san francisco morgan

L: Collin and Morgan (she’s pictured above) agreed to split the lemon and black pepper fried chicken “nuggets” with me. The extremely-better-than-McD-nuggets came with a buttermilk waffle drenched in syrup. I would definitely order this dish again – best chicken and waffles I’ve ever had.

oola san francisco chicken waffles

L: For my main entree, I chose the most popular oola dish since it came with overwhelmingly high praise on Yelp: ginger soy glazed baby back ribs with apple red cabbage cole slaw…. now these were transcendental!

oola san francisco baby back ribs

L: The meat literally FELL off the bone it was so incredibly tender. Like fluffy pillow tender. Please go eat these ribs now or find someone in San Francisco that will eat the ribs on your behalf. Long ago, the ribs were originally made for the restaurant staff. They were so absafreakinlutely amazing that they’ve never left the menu.

oola san francisco christmas soma dinner

N: Cori and Collin also ordered the ribs; Peter picked the roasted chicken grand mere with parisian potatoes, asparagus, and carrots; and our mom chose the roasted beet and watermelon salad with pistachio, humboldt fog goat cheese, watercress, and lemon vinaigrette:

oola san francisco watermelon roasted beet

L: Cori shared a heaping pile of Kennebec truffle oil and parmesean fries with the table. Yum. After my chicken nugget appetizer and baby back ribs entree, a few truffle fries perfectly rounded out my HAPPY MEAL. :)

oola san francisco truffle fries

N: While opening gifts, we demolished a few dessert dishes. The warm chocolate caramel cake was so decadent! The server poured fresh chocolate fudge onto the warm cake, and the heated cake mixed perfectly with the caramel filling and vanilla ice cream.

oola san francisco chocolate dessert

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N: The bread pudding was sweet and kind of lemony. I had high hopes for this dessert because I am a bit of a bread pudding enthusiast, but it didn’t have a chance compared to the butterscotch bread pudding at California Cafe. It was good enough, although the chocolate cake easily stole the show. Yum.

oola san francisco bread pudding dessert

L: I totally agree with Nicole, the frangelico brioche bread pudding was light and creamy, but I wish it soaked up more of the crème anglaise pudding. I preferred spoonfuls of Collin’s warm chocolate caramel cake – just imagine a classier version of Chili’s chocolate molten lava cake and you’ve got the idea.

westin st francis gingerbread castle house christmas san francisco

N: After dinner, we walked back to our hotel and took the classic family photo in front of the giant gingerbread castle. It was such a nice dinner and I would love to go back to try oola‘s changing seasonal menu! We all loved it.

-Lauren and Nicole