Monday, November 25, 2013


I love this week. I think I love the anticipation of Thanksgiving more than Christmas. I am pretty sure it has something to do with expectations and the lack-there-of for this upcoming holiday. You basically just have to show up and eat.

I can handle that.

As I think about this week, I am especially thankful for this guy:

He gets to come home this year. Noodles, Grandparents' Day, raking leaves, setting up a Christmas tree, pecan pie and his own bed are in his future. I cannot wait.

I am giving a big thanks for this kid, who although shot me in the forehead with a Nerf gun yesterday, is still young enough to cuddle and old enough to realize he has a very important place in our family.

I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that these two lovebirds are finally going on their long-awaited honeymoon. They deserve it, even if they do gross me out with their public displays of affection. It's out of control.

And of course there is Ferris Bueller my older brother, who is still thankful for all those who helped make his debut album dreams come true.

I am thankful for that too because now I won't have to sell a kidney for that to happen.

I am grateful beyond words for all those who have given me love and money for butter with Gourmet Girl to Go. I have had a blast with you in the kitchen!


I am thankful for more, like a car that is currently running and hot water in my shower. But for now, I'll just leave it at these. It is more than enough for this girl.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Sleep Lab

Last night was my night at the sleep lab. It is a strange place where people watch you sleep and count how many times you turn and check to make sure you are breathing.

I guess that last one is a good thing.

Thankfully, my sleep technician was a great guy named Eric who hails from Peru where he was trained and practiced as a medical doctor. However, since it would take a lot of work and money to get certified in the US, he now helps people sleep better. And for that I am very thankful.

(He has also climbed Machu Pichu five times, which, although fascinating, is not critical for this story.)

Also, he told me that if I ever needed anything in the night that all I had to do is turn on my light and clap three times and he would come running. In my mind, all I could think about was the crazy old woman who used The Clapper before she went to bed. Do you remember this?

(That is an extremely awkward video. God bless 1989.)

Now, I am not going to lie to you: it was not the best sleep of my life. Nope. I had ten electrodes taped to my head, two on my chest, two on my legs and a pulse/ox thing on my finger. And then, at 2:00 a.m., Eric came in to tell me that I needed to strap the breathing mask to my face because apparently I forget to breathe sometimes.

Here I am pre-breathing mask:


(Obviously an Instagram filter was needed.)

(The guys are already lining up outside of my door.)

The second half of my night's sleep was noticeably different from the first half. For one, I had a constant flow of air forcing itself into my lungs. While that may seem uncomfortable, it was actually rather peaceful, like someone or something was taking over for a while and all I needed to do was rest.

(I am pretty sure there is a Biblical principle in that somewhere.)

Secondly, whenever I took a deep breath, my toes and fingers would tingle. Granted, that may mean I have an unexplained health condition, but to me, it signified the fact that my extremities were finally getting the oxygen they needed.

At 6:20, Eric came in to wake me up and told me I slept like a soldier, hardly moving at all. I think subconsciously I was afraid I would strangle myself with the wires. It was a legitimate concern. By 6:45, I was de-wired and had unofficially (from a technician) yet officially (from a Peruvian doctor) been told that I am going to need a machine to help me sleep at night...for the rest of my days.


However, I am choosing to see the positive in this: people pay big money to go to oxygen bars so they look refreshed and rejuvenated. I will have that for 8 hours a night, every night. It's how I roll now.

Plus, my heart will be healthier, I will have more energy, my metabolism will rev up (can I get a gigantic HALLELUJAH for this one?) and I will have my Halloween costume ready to go: Darth Vader's mother.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Recipe Round-Up: Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Brownies

These are ridiculous.

I mean, seriously ridiculous.
I took my favorite Pumpkin Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, added chocolate chunks instead and threw it all in a pan.
And do you know what!? They taste totally different! I know, I can't explain it either. But the texture on these brownies is out of control. They are moist, chocolaty, dense and delicious. It is comfort food in a pan. 
And, as an added bonus, they do not take hours to make these, one cookie sheet at a time. Nope, it's one pan, 40 minutes, done.
I just can't even handle it.
These are easy. Trust me. Add butter, sugars, vanilla, eggs and pumpkin. Mix it up. 
Then add flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
And then, the chocolate chunks. Pour it all into a pan and BEHOLD:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Brownies.
Please and thank you.


 Don't you just want to sink your teeth into those bad boys?
They are phenomenal with a cup of coffee.
Or as lunch.
They are perfect for the Thanksgiving table, a holiday party or as your own secret stash of heaven.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Brownies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla
3 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 bag chocolate chunks

Heat oven to 350 degrees and grease 9x13" pan. Add butter, sugar and brown sugar in a mixing bowl and mix with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix. Add pumpkin and vanilla and mix until well combined. Add flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Mix by hand or with mixer on slow speed. Add chocolate chunks and stir. Spoon into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes. Cut into squares (or dig in with a fork).

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sleeping Baggage

For most of my adult life, I have been tired. And not just the stay-up-too-late-watching-the-Walking Dead-on-Netflix kind of sleepy. I mean, no matter how much I sleep, I am always tired.

Worn out.
And I don't even have children.

I have tried many things to remedy this:
Go to bed earlier
Go to bed later
Avoid eating before bed
Eat before bed
Avoid caffeine after lunch
Exercises regularly
Drink more water

The last one could be my favorite but it also comes with consequences.

Finally, in September, I went to the doctor. I told him about my sleepiness and my sometimes weird heartbeats and my healthy eating and exercise regimen that has resulted in absolutely nothing except a bitterness towards spinach, and then he said the words I didn't want to hear: "Sarah, I think you have sleep apnea."

I just looked at him and said, "I thought only old men got that." (Aren't you glad I am not in the health care profession?)

And then he said it is very common among all age groups and is most likely a genetic condition that causes my airway to be too small when I sleep at night. So he ordered an in-home sleep test and the results came back fairly conclusive that I do indeed have sleep apnea.

It's like the most awesome thing that has ever happened to me except not at all and I am lying.

However, they need more data. So, they have prescribed me a night's stay in a sleep lab where I will tuck myself into a big bed, hook myself up to approximately 1 billion electrodes and try to sleep while a plethora of people watch me.

And it is happening on Tuesday.

If the results come back conclusive, then I will need a CPAP machine for the rest of my life. Being both a girl and single, this admittedly deflates my spirit. I find myself so desperately wanting to sleep better (and for my heart to be healthier, my metabolism to be faster...) but not wanting the literal baggage that comes with it. I already wear a mouthguard, but a ginormous machine that straps to my face and forces me to breathe?

I might as well just get dentures and nightgown and call it a night.

Dear Future Husband, it looks like I'll need to sleep near the closest electrical plug-in.

In the meantime, I will give you a full report of my night away, all hooked up and monitored. Somehow they will make sleeping a spectator sport. I wonder if they will serve popcorn or something. That would totally make it better.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

And the Goal Was Reached

Hey there internet readers: Guess what?! Treehouse Sanctum reached their funding goal for their new album!

That's right, you heard me. They needed $1600 to make it happen and 26 people came through and donated $2,285!

Wow. You guys are ridiculously nice.

They will finish up their album in the next month or two and then Shake the Shadow will be available for your listening pleasure.

Big thanks to all of you who made a gift towards their hard work. I admit, I am super proud of them. And I can't wait to read all the nice things they say about me in their album cover.

I am sure it will delightful.

And probably invisible.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Need Dessert?

IF you live in the Denver area...

And IF you need help with your Thanksgiving meal...

AND IF you are out of time and don't know what the heck you are going to make for dessert (other than the infamous pumpkin pie)...

AND IF YOU just want to outsource one of your many tasks this holiday season...

AND IF YOU JUST WANT ME to show up at your doorstep...

THEN shoot me a line and I'll help you out! Gourmet Girl to Go is now taking dessert orders for Thanksgiving!!

(Just for clarification, I am Gourmet Girl to Go.)

That's right, just tell me what you want (within reason) and I'll bake/make/create it for you!





Cakes, brownies, Oreo balls?

Why the heck not!

Email me or catch me on Facebook and I'll make all of your Thanksgiving dessert dreams come true.

(Do you have Thanksgiving dreams?)

(Because you should.)

(They are delicious.)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Four Black Suburbans

Last night I dreamt that I was going to jail.

Needless to say, it was stressful.

I tried to run, scream, explain my way out of the situation. At one point, I even put on a disguise and tried to slip out of town.

Nothing worked.

Finally, four black suburbans parked in front of my house. Men in dark suits with sunglasses approached my door. I let them in and then proceeded to bake them cookies.  (I bake in times of crisis. True story.) After they ate a few, they took me away in handcuffs.

And then my alarm went off. I have never been more thankful for my alarm. (Actually, I have never ever been thankful for my alarm.)

I woke up tired, sad and relieved. Isn't it strange how dreams do that to you? I felt like I had just fought a battle and waded through the loss of what my life would/could/should look like.

It seemed so tragic yet strangely familiar.

So, I called my dad.

And do you know what he said? He said, "Sarah, stop watching all of those shows on TV with black suburbans and men in black suits. It's not good for you."

A voice of reason from one on the inside.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Top Five Pinterest Recipe Repeats

Hello world! Here I am. Between cooking classes, catering, my regular 9-5 job and a small bout of feeling like death, I have been a bit absent lately. But I have returned for one of my most favorite times of the year: The Pre-Thanksgiving Cook-a-Thon and Daylight Savings Hibernation.

(I just made up that title. Feel free to use it.)

I love November. I love the calm before the holiday storm. And I have always loved Thanksgiving, it is like Christmas' less-stressful younger brother who welcomes you with stretchy pants and pecan pie.

I have been doing a lot of recipe research lately. Some are for Gourmet Girl to Go classes and others are just to try new twists on old stand-bys. Pinterest is my go-to for recipes and over the course of the last few months, I have found several that are actually fantastic!

Here are my top five Pinterest Recipe Repeats:

Cast Iron Skillet Brownies

Yes, you should make these. Tonight, preferably. I fell in love with the simplicity of this recipe: you only need one dish! It is brilliant! I did not have a cast iron skillet that would work for this so instead I mixed everything in a sauce pan and poured into a baking dish. The results were incredible! These could be my favorite brownies ever.

(And I know my brownies.)

Dijon Maple Chicken

This is known as the "World's Best Chicken" and for good reason: it is amazing! There are only three ingredients to the marinade - Dijon mustard, maple syrup and vinegar (either rice or apple cider). It takes one minute to mix up and pour over chicken. I use whole grain Dijon mustard for an extra kick. I make this at least every other week and the left-overs are to die for!

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

This is the EASIEST recipe in the history of the world! I have taught this at several cooking classes recently and it is a huge hit every time. There are only two ingredients: prosciutto and asparagus. This works best on bigger asparagus and it only take five minutes to prepare and another five minutes to cook. You don't even have to pre-cook the asparagus. And the crispy prosciutto is the perfect combination with the fresh asparagus. It is my new go-to holiday appetizer or side dish!

Quinoa with Corn and Scallions

This recipe comes from Just a Taste, one of my favorite food websites. I love the freshness of this quinoa dish and it is great as a side dish or as a meal if you add grilled chicken. When corn is not in season, you can always use frozen corn as a substitute. It's good stuff, people.

Raspberry Dark Chocolate Banana Bread

Oh man. This bread. It is amazing! I have made it several times and the combination of fresh raspberries and dark chocolate is out of this world. It is perfect for breakfast or a snack (or dinner). I will make this again and again. And again. Amen.

What are some of your favorites?