Friday, April 29, 2011

I'm Back!

I am back and I am tired! Holy smokes this was a fast paced crazy trip but well worth it. I had a blast and the Telemundo Networks people were fantastic. The Latin Billboards were amazing. I have a zillion and one pictures to edit and add captions so it will be a few days before I update the blog with my trip info. Yes, yes I know I am also a slacker a lot of the time but oh well.

In the meantime, I come back to Western North Carolina and Spring is in full bloom. It is green and lush and beautiful. As much as I love Miami, I realized that I can no longer heat and humidity as well as I used to. Also, I come back here and realize I love where I live.

Oh and the garden is in. I have to come clean and say that I did NOTHING in the garden this ear, it is all Tom. He rocks for doing it for me!

So keep an eye out in the next few days for some great stories and pictures!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Room with a View

Okay my Flip was dying so I made two quickie videos of my room at Mondrian. Two because the camera pooped out on the first one.

Had a great day and was able to catch up with everyone at the Telemundo offices where we had lunch with some the the Telemundo stars. I have some photos and I will try and post some this weekend.

I was back at my alma mater today as well because the awards are being held at the new venue they have there. It is pretty awesome. We went in and saw the backstage and heard MANA rehearse. Later we went on to dinner at SoHo House on the beach - NICE! Then we headed to the RPM Miami party at the most awesome venue. I will have pictures of that as well.

Overall a great but long day. I was so impressed how thought out Telemundo is about the social media strategy of the company. It was pretty awesome. Okay peeps, tomorrow (Thursday) we tour the studios, cool! And then we head over to the Latin Billboard awards. I hope I can get some awesome pictures.

I would die if I see Marc Anthony who I just love and I know he will be singing so I can't wait for that. Okay, bed is calling me.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Travel Gods have it in for me

It has become very apparent to me that the travel gods suck big hairy balls. Of course, it is probably posts like this that get me in trouble but oh well.

Yesterday started out promising. I went to work and worked all day. Then I had to drive over an hour+ from my job to the Asheville airport.

Now I suspect that the Asheville airport has it in for me or is cursed in some way. The last two trips I have taken have gone pear shaped in one way or another. My last trip to Costa Rica went haywire when the plane was there but something had broken. Fun. That caused a very sick me to have to run a mile to get to my gate on time and make it to Costa Rica.

I was very very lucky that I made that plane with literally a minute to spare. I was not so lucky this time. Due to bad weather, I think out of Texas, my flight was delayed and I would totally miss my connecting flight in Charlotte. Maybe it's Charlotte that is cursed for me as well. Not sure but we barely have problems in Atlanta although that is an airport from hell.

Anyhow, they tell me they can get me on a 9:00 plane from Charlotte to Fort Lauderdale. I pondered and then thought if the plane arrived at 11pm, I would be cool to drive or catch a cab to Miami Beach and be in by midnight. We had to be ready at 8am the next day so I figured, I would get some sleep and even though I would look like a horrible troll, I could do that.

I get on the plane and arrive at Charlotte, only to discover that the plane was delayed until midnight meaning I would arrive in Ft.Lauderdale at 2am, then have to find my way to Miami Beach probably arriving at 3am of later. That was enough for me.

I am still not 100% health wise and I cannot survive on 3 hours sleep to spend a whole day with Telemundo executives and talent. Plus, there was no guarantee the plane was actually leaving on time again since it was not there when I decided to take my chances, get a hotel room and fly out to Miami this morning.

The funny thing that while I was at the airport this couple from Venezuela was there and they were having the same issues. Now I have lived in Miami and know that it can take anywhere from 25 minutes or 2 hours to get from Lauderdale to Miami. At 2 in the morning it would be probably be closer to 25 minutes but, again no guarantee, that was correct.

So in my crazy Spanish, we started talking. They finally decided to spend the night here so we all went to the desk and I translated for them. I did my good deed for the day in hope the universe would take mercy on me and cut me some slack on the rest of my trip.

The issue was our bags. Now we were told that they would not go onto Lauderdale but would be held at the airport and sent on to Miami with us in the morning. I expect to never ever see that bag again. I have a history with bags being left at the airport. I hate to be a Debbie Downer but most likely our bags will be gone into oblivion.

Luckily, I am in Miami so I can go out and buy whole new outfits if needed. Let's hope it is not needed. I am praying to the bag gods to make sure I get mine in a few hours. We will see. If not, I will go all crazy on USAirways until I am compensated or they find the damn bags. Yes, I have no faith in the system.

Of course, it could have been worse, I have heard a few horror stories from peeps stuck with us at Homewood Suites. One guy spent 2 days traveling from D.C. to get to L.A. Other stories were missed flights, rude customer service and overall hatred toward flying. Something I am starting to see in myself as well.

So I sit here in the Charlotte airport, with my new Venezuelan friends awaiting my trip to my beautiful Miami. I am crossing my fingers my bag arrives and I can catch up on the fun set out for us by the Telemundo Networks. It sucks I will miss meeting the president and having lunch with some of the talent. God knows I am a celebrity ho so I hate to miss that.

But last night Tom said go with the flow and enjoy what you can. Wise man, that Tom. So I am so not stressed right now, it's not even funny. I am just chilling and seeing where my journey takes me. Bummer part is that I have given up coffee until my health issues get resolved and that does suck big hairy troll balls because I am seeing a Starbucks right around the corner where I am sitting. *Sigh* Sometimes you just can't win.

Wordless Wednesday ~ It's Garden Time

TOm went nuts this weekend and worked his butt off. He weeded the garden and added the heirloom tomato plants I ordered. We hope it's not too early but we had to get them in the ground. He also added peppers, squash and cucumbers. Oh I cannot wait for the harvest! Fresh omegrown veggies rock the house!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I will be MIA in MIAmi!

Yes, folks I will be MIA a few days. I got invited by Telemundo to attend the Billboard Latin Music Awards in Miami on April 27 and 28.

You all know I love Miami, my adopted hometown. I moved there and attended the University of Miami. I met Tom there as well so I have tons of really good memories. Plus, I know lots and lots of people who live there. I won't have time to see them this trip but it's always good to go home.

I am excited about the trip as well. Attending the Latin Billboard awards will be the bomb. I love my Latino music. Plus we also get to attend the after party and tour the Telemundo studio. It will be a unique and, hopefully, fun experience.

I will try and get my usual "look at my room" vlog. I will also try and make some vlogs at the award show and tons of photos. If I meet any famous peeps, I will be a celebrity geek and get pics with them as well. LOL

I want to thank Telemundo Network for inviting me to this Event! WOO!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Here at the Salzman-Gonzalez house we don't celebrate Easter. But, I used to love Easter when I was little. My mom always made us new dresses. We always matched because she loved dressing us as twins although we are not.

The night before we would decorate eggs. We would get all dressed up and go to Church and then we would get home and people would come over for Easter supper. We also had the Easter egg hunts and we always got an Easter basket. Sometimes I wish I would still find an Easter Basket on Sunday morning. I mean who doesn't love biting off the heads off chocolate bunnies? Hello!

I found some old photos of us at Easter and decided to post them. I look adorable as usual but I realized I also look like a grumpy Gus. I bet I wanted to eat candy and was not allowed so I was pouting. I still pout when I am not allowed to do stuff. In the last photo I am saluting or something. I was a weird child.

Enjoy your Easter if you celebrate it and, if you don't, you can still bite heads off of Easter Bunnies.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Carolyn's Faux Cracker Barrel Hashbrown Casserole

I grew up in Los Angeles so I never knew a thing about Cracker Barrel. It wasn't until I moved to Florida and we started driving up the East Coast on vacation or to visit Tom's family in Cleveland that I ate at a Cracker Barrel. I know you are all thinking: why the hell is she talking about Cracker Barrel.

One simple reason, I love the food there. Well, not all their food but most of it is pretty darn good after being stuck in a car for hours. It is also like a wonderland when you walk into the store and there is all types of candy and funky crafty stuff. But my favorite thing about Cracker Barrel is the hash brown casserole. I love it.

For years I pined for that stupid casserole but would never have it unless we took a driving trip. Then one day, I decided that I could try and recreate the recipe with a little creativity. I racked my brain trying to figure out how they make it and why it tastes so good. Then one day: Eureka! I hit upon the magic formula.

I had a little help from Rachel Ray and The Melting Pot. From Rachel Ray, I learned to make the perfect cheese sauce. In the end, I ended up taking her recipe and adding a few things I learned from visiting The Melting Pot. Rachel made a cheese sauce on her show and used it for mac & cheese. I realized that this cheese sauce wold also work for scalloped potatoes and if it worked for scalloped potatoes, it would work for hash browns as well. Rachel's cheese sauce was like a fondue so I figured, hey I could add flavors and change it around.

When we would go eat at The Melting Pot, the servers would make the cheese fondue at the table. They often used beer, garlic and other spices and it was tasty. So I decided I would willy-nilly make my cheese sauce doing what they did.

To make my cheese sauce, I start with equal parts flour and butter to make a roux. Now I usually use 3 tablespoons each but you can use 2 or 4 or as many as you want as long as it is equal parts. You melt the butter, add the flour and cook it off so it loses the floury taste. Then I add some ground mustard, salt, pepper, garlic powder and some onion powder. That is the basic recipe but I have also added fresh herbs like thyme or sage when I want a different taste. I have added paprika or green chile powder to shake it up. The beauty of this cheese sauce is that it can be changed up. This time I added some fresh thyme I had lying around. Yum!

Once the you have the roux, you add milk. Since I am all willy-nilly, I can't tell you how much because I eyeball it. But I would say start with a 1/4 cup of milk and then a 1/4 cup of beer. You can use any beer but I have found that a darker hearty beer makes a richer cheese sauce. Then you just add a little more milk or beer as it thickens up. Since I am lazy, I buy already shredded cheese and use the Simply Potatoes hash browns because who the heck has time to grate potatoes?

Once the mixture thickens a little take it off the heat and add the cheese. I usually use one pack of cheese. I prefer a cheddar cheese when making the hash brown casserole but you can change that up and use any type of cheese. I have used Monterrey Jack and Gouda. Trust me, you can get very creative. Mix the cheese in. Now if the sauce gets too thick start adding a tablespoon of milk or beer to loosen it up a little. Taste and spice it up more if needed and it is done.

Chop up an onion. Take some Pam and spray the backing dish. I like using a deep round baking dish for this recipe but you can use any you have. Open the Simply Potatoes and start layering the potatoes, onions and a little bit of cheese sauce. I like salting each layer just a little. Continue doing this until the ingredients are all in there. Add any remaining sauce on top. Now if you want a brown crusty top you can some shredded cheese on top.

Again, I can't tell you how long I cook it for because I have never timed it but if I had to give an answer, I would say cook it at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. But I have left it in longer with no problems.

I have to tell that the first time I tried this recipe, I wasn't sure what to expect. But let me tell you it is better than the Cracker Barrel Hash brown Casserole but that's just me. It is also a dish you can eat as a side dish or entree. You serve this with a salad and you have a veggie dinner in a jiffy! You can serve this with chicken, beef, pork and hubby loves the leftovers for breakfast with some eggs.

There you have. It is quick and easy. You can also make the cheese sauce and make Mac & Cheese or Scalloped Potatoes or just use it as a fondue. Yummo!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Costa Rican Tamales Recipe and Video

Okay this recipe is a little complicated so I actually vlogged about it when I was in Costa Rica. I love tamales especially Costa Rican tamales. I grew up eating them and also helping make them.

I remember as a little girl that I was put on tamale duty by my mom and grandmother. I was always in charge of putting the veggies into the tamales. As I grew older, I was put in charge of spicing up the masa (dough) mixture. I have a talent for masa tasting. If you have blah masa, your tamales will suck.

I have 3 videos that will give you the basics on how to make Costa Rican tamales. Now Video 3 sucks balls. I look like a freaking truck ran over me. I have puffier eyes then Joan Rivers after a facelift. I look like I just woke up although I had been up for a while. I had not slept well that night and it shows. Damn I look rough. I am just warning you because it will scare the crap out of you. But I have to post the video to show the whole process and the end product.

See the things I do for my blog. Now for the rest of my life, me looking like hell will be in cyberspace. Dios mio.

Anyway, enjoy the videos.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My sister the Artist

About a year ago my sister decided to leave L.A. and go live in Costa Rica. I envy her big time! One of her new hobbies is glass art. She has only been doing this for a couple of months and I think she is pretty darn good. She is super talented. Here are some of her creations.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Costa Rica Trip

Yes I am a total slacker but I am still not 100% healthy. I won't get into what I have or don't have because the doctors haven't figured it all out but as my abuelita would say: bad weeds never die, so I will be around for a long time!

My trip went well although it was touch and go days before. I was still feeling bad when I left. I hadn't eaten for days so I was weak and tired but I packed my stuff and my traveling companion, Flat Stanley, and went anyway. In Asheville our plane was delayed and we left late. I had a connection in Charlotte so it was tight.

In Asheville you have to check your carry-ons because it is a puddle jumper plane to Charlotte. So when we landed the luggage guys take the stuff out and then put it on a rack. Well, I was so rushed that I literally pushed some people out of my way to grab my bag. Then I took off running up the ramp and into the airport. It was like those old O.J. Hertz commercials. I was running, jumping and, again, pushing little kids and old people out of my way.

Halfway there I ran out of the steam because I had no energy but I kept pushing and half running. When I made it to the gate, they had been boarding and there was only a few people left to board. I barely made it. I was sweaty and hyperventilating when I finally got on the plane. Luckily, it was a 4.5 hour flight so I could rest.

When I arrived in Costa Rica, my mom and sister picked me up and then went to my mom's house. I just wanted to rest. After unpacking, I rested a little then we went out to a Japanese dinner. It was the first solid meal I had in about a week.

Since my trip there was more business than pleasure, I really didn't do a lot of stuff. We would breakfast with my mom, go have lunch with my dad and then have dinner with mom. I saw a few cousins and by the end of the week, I was eating but only about a third of what I normally eat. The only good thing is that since I have gotten sick, I have lost about 10 pounds. Not the best way to do it but I could stand to lose a few pounds and I didn't even have to exercise.

I wish I would have had more time to do fun things because Flat Stanley would have enjoyed it but I didn't. I did go visit my favorite church in Cartago. Yes, yes, every time I get near a church I figure I might go all Damien or blow up or something but I didn't. The church is over 375 years old. It is also so beautiful.

People go there to gather water from the fountain because the story goes that the Virgin Mary appeared to some children there. People also go and leave Milagros (miracles) in forms of charms so the Virgin can perform a miracle and heal them. At one time, you would walk in and all over the walls were little gold charms shaped like organs, hands, feet, etc. hanging on the walls. I think they took them all down because maybe people were stealing them.

The other good thing although I wasn't eating much is that my mami made me tamales. I will try and have the videos up on tamale making this week. It explains how they are made. I actually have a video of me eating one for breakfast but when I looked at it, I looked like Holy Hell. OMG what a troll. I have puffy eyes and look demented so I might not be putting that up on You Tube for the world to see. Dios mio!

The tamales were delish. I wish I could have eaten more. The other meal I got that I loved was my Olla de Carne. My mom's friend Lola made it for me. Now some of you know that I make Olla de Carne for myself when Tom is out of town. Well, after getting a lesson from Lola, I realized that I was making my Olla de Carne all wrong. I was, of course, doing it all willy nilly. But Lola gave me some good tips and showed me the ropes. Her Olla de Carne was delicious.

I had Olla de Carne the second day I was in Costa Rica as well when we went out to lunch with my dad. It as delish but Lola's was even better. I have to say I hate going to Costa Rica and not being able to eat because there is a lot of good food to be had there.

Aside from that it was just family time and sister time. I was glad to spend time with my mom and dad and especially my sister. Since she moved there, we talk mainly on emails and not the phone so we had a lot of catching up to do. It was also nice being back in Costa Rica. I always waver if I want to give it all up and live there but then I go there and think probably not. Maybe one day when I am older and more demented then I might move there but who knows.

So that's all I really have to tell. I will be posting some other pictures if I have the energy to edit them and get them up. I am going through not wanting to blog phase. Boo.