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Songs of Summer - Country Playlist

I don't know what it is about Summer, but it makes me long for my country roots and all I want to listen to is some good ol' country music! If you can believe it, there are NO I mean, Zip. Zero. country radio stations in San Francisco!! It's seriously depressing. I was majorly missing out, until a friend filled me in on an amazing secret...

I'm sure you guys know about iTunes Radio by now (basically the same as Pandora) BUT iTunes Radio has a Top 50 Country Songs station, which is the Top 50 Country Songs that have been downloaded on iTunes each week. It's amazing! Now I can keep up to date on all the latest Country Music, all summer long! And if I want to listen to the classic stuff, I just switch over to my iTunes library.

There's nothing like driving with your windows down, sunroof open, and country music blasting on a hot summer day. Granted I have to leave the city to have any sort of summer weather, but I'll take what I can get. I should probably be embarrassed to admit how much joy this little station has brought me over the past few months! It gives me a little taste of summer while I'm hanging out in the fog.

This reminds me, I haven't been to a country concert in years! There is nothing like an outdoor country concert in the summer. I used to go to at least 2 or 3 a year back home, but as you can imagine, country music fans are harder to find in the big city and there aren't many country concert options :(

Anyways, I hope you enjoy this playlist of my current country favorites!


Porks Chops with Spicy Sautéed Summer Peaches and Cauliflower Mash

A few weeks ago, Andrew and I threw together a random dinner that ended up being so delicious, I knew I had to make it again so I could share it with you all!

It was so simple and easy, but the results were anything but! I promise this won't disappoint, and it might even impress a few dinner guests.

Months ago, my Mom made a simple pork chop for Andrew when she was visiting, it was so good we've continued to make it as a staple in our weeknight dinner rotation. But boy, did we kick it up a notch by topping it with spicy sautéed peaches! It's borderline dessert - for dinner!

 Let's get to the recipe, shall we?

Ingredients -
For the Pork:
4 Boneless Pork Chops
salt & pepper 
1/3 cup flour
3 tablespoons olive oil

For the Peaches:
2 large peaches
1 jalapeño, seeded
1 small purple onion, sliced
2 teaspoons olive oil

Directions -
First, slice your onion, jalapeno and peaches. On medium heat sauté the onion and jalapeno in olive oil for about 10 minutes until tender, stirring occasionally. Then add peaches and cook for another 10-15 minutes until the onion caramelizes and the peaches soften and release their juices. 

While the topping caramelizes, season the pork with salt and pepper on both sides. Then dredge in flour to coat. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a nonstick skillet to medium-high heat, add pork chops and sear for 2-3 minutes on each side. Then reduce heat and cook for about 10 minutes or until the center reaches 150* and let rest. 

Top pork chops with sautéed peaches and enjoy!

Be sure to test your jalapeño for spice! We left the seeds because we like things hot, but if you don't spice be sure to remove the seeds or omit the jalapeño all together. 

This is the perfect recipe for those over-ripe, bruised, and juicy peaches! 

Let the onion and jalapeño cook for a few minutes before adding the peaches.

Lucky for you, I have a bonus recipe. A healthy little side dish to serve with your pork chops. The other day I was browsing Instagram, and stumbled upon this picture from Chrissy Teigen (LOVE her) that peaked my interest...cauliflower mash. Now, I've made mashed cauliflower a few times, but I've never been smitten by the texture. Hers however, looked blended, so I knew I had to give it a try. It was amazing! Andrew kept saying, "I swear these are potatoes" and if he didn't watch me make it, he probably wouldn't have believed it was cauliflower. He's determined to make it for someone and trick them into thinking it's mashed potatoes. 

It's super fast & simple, and I know it will be a regular item on the menu at our house. I hope you like it, too!

1/2 head of cauliflower
2 teaspoons butter (REAL butter)
salt & pepper
1 tiny clove of garlic
3 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
chopped green onion or chives 

Steam cauliflower for about 10 minutes. (If you don't have a vegetable steamer, steel the one your parents got as a wedding gift or microwave in a glass bowl tightly covered in plastic wrap for about 6-8 minutes).

Once the cauliflower is cooked, remove from the stove and place in a large glass bowl. Add butter, salt, pepper, and garlic. Use an immersion blender to completely puree the cauliflower. It should be totally smooth. Lastly, stir in parmesan cheese and garnish with green onion/chives.

If you haven't noticed, I'm having auto-focus issues with my camera, any tips?

This was the perfect side for the pork chop and sautéed peaches, but would pretty much taste great with anything! As Andrew says, "You Can't Believe It's Not Potatoes!"

What's your favorite summer fruit? As you might have guessed, I've been on a major peach kick lately! 


Hiking in the American River Canyon

Way back in May, we spent a weekend up in the foothills with my family (same trip as yesterday's post). My parents had been on a cross-country road trip for five weeks, and we were anxious to see them again! 

On Saturday, when my parents were settling in after being gone for so long; my sister, Phillip, Andrew and I decided to go for a hike. We met in Auburn to hike in the American River canyon. We're lucky to have so many great trails right in our back yard! We chose a trail that goes to the Auburn dam site, which thankfully was never built. It would be so sad to have lost this beautiful canyon filled with mountain biking and hiking trails. 

It was a relatively flat, out and back trip. But, even though we left in the morning, it was HOT by the time we finished. Poor Louis really struggled, so we learned we can't take him on hikes that long anymore :( at least not when it's so hot. Since Louis was having a hard time with the heat, and it was getting close to Phillip's nap time, we turned around before we made it to the river, but we still got a solid 6 miles in. 

It was a great way to start our day. I really miss being able to spend a lot of time with my sister and Phillip, and enjoyed catching up and visiting while we walked. Little Phillip is a trooper in the backpack too, it was good practice for our Yosemite trip! 

Auburn Dam Site
Remnants from the Gold Mining days...

Poor Louis was hot and tired, 6 miles is too long for this pup

Fun Fact: The Foresthill Bridge is the tallest bridge in CA and Vin Diesel drove across it for the movie Triple X (xXx).
"Sisters, Sisters..."


Marin Headlands - Golden Gate Bridge

Sometimes I forget how lucky we are to live in such an amazing place. A few weeks back, Andrew and I were leaving the city one evening to spend the weekend with my family. It was one of those perfect San Francisco nights. The light on the bridge was beautiful so we decided to make an impromptu stop at Marin Headlands to take some pictures and admire the view.

It was really windy, so we didn't stay too long. But we got some great pictures and took advantage of the beautiful scenery that's basically out our back door.

There are a lot of great hikes in this area we hope to do soon, but they don't allow dogs so we've yet to make it. Hopefully this Fall I'll have more pictures to share from hiking Marin Headlands and Hawk Hill.


Tahoe & Mt. Rose

Mt. Rose
10,776 Feet Elevation
Somehow, we're already half way through July and I still haven't shared our pictures from Memorial Day Weekend! Let's just say, life has been busy lately. Our weekends have been filled to the brim with adventures, friends, & family. You won't hear me complaining, life is good!

So back to Memorial Day...

Andrew and I decided to spend our weekend in the Mountains, and drove up to Tahoe. Lucky for us, my cousins have a cabin there, and since they weren't using it they offered it to us. We drove up Friday after work, and somehow didn't hit too much traffic leaving the city. 

We didn't have set plans for the weekend other than paddle boarding and doing one longer hike. We decided to spend our Saturday relaxing and enjoying North Shore, and save our hike for Sunday. We were up early to go rent paddle boards for a couple hours on Saturday. I wish I had a waterproof case, but I wasn't brave enough to bring my camera or phone. It was so beautiful. Definitely a highlight of our weekend. The water was glass, which is pretty rare for Tahoe. We paddled for about an hour and a half along the shore; admiring the houses and beautiful Tahoe vistas. I was a little nervous since it was my first time paddle boarding, but I loved it! It was easier than I thought to balance, and I managed to stay dry. 
Enjoying the beach by our Cabin after paddle boarding!
After paddle boarding, we decided to drive down to Tahoe City to walk around and get lunch. I didn't realize that Andrew hadn't spent time in North Lake Tahoe before, so I was excited to show him around a bit. We had Louis with us, and found a restaurant with an outdoor patio that allowed dogs. We sat in the sunshine and enjoyed our beers and lunch, then walked around and peaked into the various shops. 

I wanted to show Andrew Fanny Bridge at the Truckee River Dam. We happened to get there right at the perfect time and saw a dog that was trained to run along the bridge railing and jump off into the water and fetch a stick! 

We had invited my Mom to drive up and join us that night for dinner and hike with us on Sunday. So we met back at the cabin and then drove to Garwoods for dinner on the deck. We lucked out with perfect weather and had a great dinner sitting outside enjoying the view! 
View from the deck at Garwoods!
Sunday we woke up early to start our hike. We decided to do Mt. Rose, which is about 11 miles and 2,000 foot elevation gain. It was a beautiful day, and we were so lucky with the view from the summit! The hike was relatively easy in the beginning, but we did encounter quite a bit of snow which we didn't expect. We managed to do just fine, but there were some tricky parts! 

The views at the top were spectacular, we could see all the way to White Mountain in one direction, and Mt. Shasta in the other! I'll let the pictures speak for themselves...

Reno in the distance
Donner Lake in the distance
Rewarded with a beer and beef jerky back at the car!

psst...if you missed my June Instagram Round-Up yesterday, you can find it here
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