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Tres Leches Bread Pudding

Awwwww yes… Easter. The day of chocolate shaped bunnies, deviled eggs, the official launch of the little summer dress, the only day I’ll ever wear white gloves, and the end of lent. Oh the end of lent. Ok, so I’ve rarely observed lent, but I’m slowly hearing the excited groans of those around me that are longing for their neglected shots of espresso, french fries, chocolate bars, and donuts – they’re getting louder and more insistent as the end of lent draws near. So I realize this post will not help those dessert hunger pangs over the next week, but…

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The Gift of Both

Jeff’s sweet aunt sent us a truly meaningful Christmas gifts this past holiday season. She sent Jeff two prints – one of his grandmother and one of his grandfather. They are displayed in our living room, enclosed in the cardboard frames that the photo studio provided all those decades ago, which I think is absolutely perfect. I wouldn’t want them framed any other way. Jeff burst into tears the moment he opened the gift. His grandfather helped to raise him when he was a small child in Minneapolis while his mom was a flight attendant and his dad worked his…

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Dreams of Sheep
Reves de Moutons and Dreaming BIG

“If the life you dream of living is one you know you can accomplish, then you need to dream bigger.” I don’t know where I got this quote or who said it, but I wrote it on the whiteboard in our studio last week after coming home from a trip to Paso Robles. This past November, our friends, Evan and Kristy, sold or stored everything they owned and moved from San Diego to a teeny apartment in Paso Robles. Soon after, they purchased a ten acre farm, moved into their new home, painted and furnished every single room, bought a…

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Herbed Potato Gratin with Roasted Garlic and Manchego

I grew up in a town surrounded by potato fields, and my dad was a brilliant engineer that did research and development on irrigation systems so our lives were planted in the middle of farm country. Between our farmer neighbors, my dad’s test fields, and the local farmer’s markets, we had a perpetually bottomless sack of potatoes sitting in our garage all winter long. And since these were local potatoes – not the pretty ones that show up in grocery stores – these babies were HUGE. We’re talking football sized russets with giant knobs jutting out the sides, so we…

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The Dinner Table is Set

For years, I felt like I couldn’t just pull up a chair to the dinner table of life. Every time the gourmet meal would be set out to enjoy, and the invitation sent for all to come, sit, and join in on the feast, everyone else strolled up with confidence. Everyone else pulled up a chair and sat with anticipation. Everyone else dug into the meal. I, however, would run to the bathroom at the sounding of the dinner bell so that I could touch up my mascara, run some fingers through my hair, and adjust my outfit. Was it the…

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Bacon Wrapped Dates with Goat Cheese

When my Recipe Sunday assistant and kitchen-wonder-woman, Jenny, served these simply mouthwatering goat cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon at her house one afternoon, I knew I had found my foodie soulmate. These sinfully delicious bites of creamy goodness mix together so much of what I love – crispy salty bacon, tart fruit, crunchy almonds, and loooooooaaaaads of goat cheese. OH.DEAR.HEAVEN. I’ve never been one to go crazy about St. Paddy’s Day, but any excuse to throw a party is fine by me, and these appetizers will cause any party guest to melt at your feet in honor of the…

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Nutmeg Shortbread

Why do you cook? To remind you of home? To experiment with a new ingredient? To release your creativity? To relax? I’ve been posting Recipe Sundays for a few years now as a casual thing I do for our bloggy-blog, and even though I’ve always known that I am probably the last person on earth to be talking about cooking (I don’t have a minute of formal training or an ounce of technical skill), I’ve always enjoyed it. When Jeff and I got married, I couldn’t even make scrambled eggs. I had Hamburger Helper lining the pantry shelves with boxes…

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Thank You Will Never Be Enough

On Friday – on Valentine’s Day – Jeff and I received an email from one of our past brides, Jennifer. She has always been a sweetheart along with her now husband, Michael, but this note made my weekend. Maybe my year. The subject read, “Thank You Will Never Be Enough.” With Jennifer and Michael’s permission, her note is posted below along with the image that she attached to her email regarding Michael’s sweet Grandmother, Armida Flores. “Dear Erin and Jeff, I have been trying to write this letter to you for the last few weeks in my head and I think…

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Cheddar Beer Soup

Nothing makes me appreciate a warming-from-the-inside-out kind of dish like spending a few days in Indianapolis this past week. Even local Indiana-ites were aghast at the jaw-clenching freezing temperatures this past week. A high of zero degrees? Really? Did they realize that a couple of Californians were present? Or was this just a special welcome wagon from the maniacal weather gods? However, the chilly air plus the big game today makes this the perfect timing for a yummy, creamy dish like this Cheddar Beer Soup from Epicurious. It’s thick, hot, and perfectly pairs with a dark IPA, so make a…

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Braised Ancho Chili Beef Short Ribs

If you thought it was about time for The Youngrens to post yet another braising recipe on Recipe Sunday, then I have two things to say: You know us too well. I like you already. Our friends know that Jeff and I can’t get enough braising over here at Casa de Youngren, so when my fellow blogger and Recipe Sunday assistant, Jenny, showed up with this mind-blowing recipe to make and photograph, I knew that we had found a new household favorite. Beef short ribs? Check. Ancho chilis? Check. Insane flavor?? Double check. Whenever you’re braising, don’t skip the seasoning…

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Six Acres, a Plow, and a Pitchfork
My Family’s Idaho Portrait Session

Since Jeff and I were going to be visiting my family in Idaho for Christmas, my sweet sister requested a family photo session. Since she is my sweetest of sisters, I obliged. So between Jeff, myself, and a tripod, we were able to gather my siblings at the house in which I grew up and capture our growing family. Which was a bit strange to be honest. My entire photography career has taken place in San Diego, so it was a mental shift (to say the least) to put on my photographer eyes and look around at the six acres…

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Candy Cane Marshmallows

Was this a seriously fast holiday season for anyone else? Since Thanksgiving was a week later than normal, I’ve been feeling the lack of that fourth holiday week to check everything off my Christmas to-dos. Presents bought? Check. Wrapped? Not so much. Decorations up? Check. House cleaned? Hmmm…. So if you’re anything like me and still have a few folks left on your list and need something quick and easy to give, these peppermint flavored Candy-Cane Marshmallows from Martha Stewart just might keep your boat afloat for another few days until the bells ring in Christmas morning. I’m not the…

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Happy Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving
From the NEW Casa de Youngren

The first thing Jeff said when we saw our new house for the first time and walked into the back yard was that the patio needed a farmhouse table. One that would seat at least 20 people. Nothing less would do. So he built one. One that fits 20 people. He also built a dining table. One that fits 8 people, but we’ve already crammed 14 friends around the sides, pulling in every chair that we own from around the house and the backyard. We could have fit more, but the dining chairs were too wide. Thanksgiving in many ways felt…

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Pumpkin Soup with Chili Cran-Apple Relish

Thanksgiving feels much later in the month this year which means two things: 1) More time to build the epic 20 person farmhouse table for hosting Friendsgiving and 2) more time to overdose on pumpkin. Both of which are oh-so-good. When it comes to an easy first course for the droves of family and friends that will be taking over your humble abode this week (or even just a November date night in with your sweetie) this soup is a no fail crowd-pleaser. It’s no surprise that this soup is easy and delicious, though, because it comes from the queen…

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Cranberry Stuffed Cornish Game Hens

I know I’ve said this before but, Recipe Sunday is baaaaaa-aaaaack!! It’s been a little over a year since I last posted a Recipe Sunday and I have no excuses for my sudden cooking silence. Well, actually, I have plenty of excuses – things got busy, our business expanded into three, we’ve got seven employees and a studio now, we moved across the city, we’ve been flying across the country, bladdy-blah-blah-blah. Nothing but excuses coming from this side of town. But do you want to know the real reason for no Recipe Sundays for over a year? I couldn’t find…

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The Youngrens are on HuffPost Live!

What a random (and wonderful) afternoon! A few hours ago HuffPost Live asked if we would be a part of their online segment, “Spouses Who Work Together” after discovering my article on being married to your business partner. Ummmm, yes. Yes, yes, yes. Aaaaaand yes – we definitely would like to be featured on live internet TV. Another check off the bucket list! We were a part of a panel with two other couples and the interview went swimmingly. It was delightfully humorous and insightful – everything good TV should be. My only regret is that Gracie the cat didn’t a…

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A Brand New Happy Place + Photos at Versailles

Remember our trip to Paris? The poetry? The red awning? The Ray Charles cassette tapes? I do. I deeply do. It was one of those ‘life moments’ – one that rises to the top of the memories pile. Like when the doctor asks you to go to your happy place to keep you calm while he sticks a needle in your arm. Between riding bikes through Lucca in Italy, waking up in a mountain range in New Zealand, and reading poetry in Paris, I have a few happy places to pull from whenever necessary. “No sweat doc,” I say as I figuratively…

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A Bubbly Giveaway
And the Winner Is…

I LOVE having giveaways on the blog because your comments make me SO HAPPY. I mean, I would even trade in a pack of Mega Stuf Oreos just to sit down and read your stories. And by the way, Molly S is now my official bath time hero for introducing me to the limited edition Mega Stuf. These oversized cookies have 50% more creme than Double Stuf Oreos! Whaaaaa? These things are so massive that there’s ten less cookies in the package than the Double Stuf variety. I mean, I can now tell myself that I’m eating ten less cookies without sacrificing…

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The Great American Dream
Plus a Bubbly Giveaway!

If I’m being honest with myself, I actually don’t take baths very often. Sometimes, I’m so tired at the end of the day that the process of drawing and prepping a decent bath feels like so much time and effort that I give up before I even start and end up on the couch watching TV with my cat and a package of Oreos.  But the idea of a bath I can get on board with. The idea of pulling out my basket of bath goodies and allowing the aromas of bath salts and candles to fill my lungs makes…

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It’s Not Just a Bowl of Tomatoes

Jeff and I have been traveling a ton these past three years and we’re excited that it’s time to close the door on that season of life and begin a new one. One that involves us being home. A lot. So we’ve cut back on the flights and said no to almost all of our travel plans in 2013 and it feels so gooooooood. When our friends want to hang out for coffee down the street, we can actually say yes because we’re not on the 6:30 eastbound to Atlanta. When our family wants to stop by, we can say…

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The Wonderful and Magical
Harper Cross

It never loses it’s magic… The emotions of meeting a newborn baby still catch us off guard. The quiet, precious moments unexpectedly squeeze our chests at the worst moments rendering both of us awkwardly speechless. Breathless. Even though we’ve been here before and know what to expect, the wonderful emotions are still very much the same. They’re familiar now, though not any less vivid or strong. Like taking a shot of whiskey, we know what to expect but it doesn’t make the drink any weaker. In fact, it just makes the whole thing that much more exciting. And I say that…

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Poetry, Ray Charles, and the Bastille
The Youngrens in Paris

I plopped down on the couch in the living room while our friend David sat on the floor next to the fireplace and his buddy Alex gazed out the window overlooking the Place de la Bastille and slowly sipped his red wine, one hand in his pocket. Jeff and David’s wife Nancy sat on the futon. Our half full wine glasses were either in our hands or sitting on a coffeetable near us. All of them reflected the warm rosy light that spilled from the table lamp in the corner that was covered in a red lampshade. It washed the…

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Helipad Engagement plus the City of Lights
Sneak Peeks

Today just couldn’t get here fast enough because there’s so much goodness coming up on the bloggy-blog over the next few weeks. Over the weekend, I couldn’t help but think, “You know, this Superbowl is pretty rad, but I just can’t wait for Monday to get here!” The joys of running your own business – Monday is the best day of the week. In fact, when the alarm went off this morning (yes, even though I work from home, the alarm is still VERY necessary) I threw myself sideways out of bed, scrubbed my teeth, threw on my favorite jeggings (jeans…

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Facials, Antarctica, and Sheep, Sheep, Sheep
New Zealand Adventures, Part Two

I have been sitting on pins and needles in excitement to share these images from the second half of our trip to New Zealand because they are not the kinds of images that I expected to come home with from such a beautiful mountainous country. Most of these images today are from the Catlins, the southern-most portion of the south island where the vast majority of the sheep farmers live and work. This area is normally passed up by tourists because it’s a little out of the way from the typical sights (and if you’re not into sheep you definitely…

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Friendship, Oatmeal Packets, & Roadtrips
New Zealand Adventures, Part One

New Zealand was the perfect mix of old and new for me. It was beautiful and mystical and romantical and unbelievable. It was Jeff, myself, and four of our close friends sleeping and living in an RV together for two weeks as we drove around the south island which was the perfect recipe for friendship disaster, but it was also the perfect circumstance to learn that us six friends all fit together seamlessly. There was absolutely no hint of drama, no negative vibes, nothing. Our two weeks of vacationing in our confined mobile space was smoother than The Doobie Brothers….

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One Last Adventure for 2012

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope that 2012 has been a wonderful and blessed year for you and that 2013 is everything you could ever imagine and more. For us, 2012 was the year that we chose to do it all. We chose to teach workshops, travel the globe, grow our business and launch new ones. In fact, I would describe this year as our ‘now or never’ year. This was our opportunity to act on those dreams that had been dancing in our minds but never had the chance to grow. So we did. We acted on them. And it…

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Adventures: El Salvador, New Zealand, and …?

Oh my goodness dear bloggy-blog, our adventures have been a bit unbelievable as of lates. These past five months have been one long stream of flights, hotels, rental cars, on-the-go food and quick stops home to take a breath and dive right back into the next airport. We’ve been traveling hard since August, but since the end of October, we’ve been in Vancouver, Seattle, El Salvador, and New Zealand with a grand total of one week to be home in San Diego in the midst of all of that madness. And you know what has been sooooo great about this most…

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Featured: Style Me Pretty
Ralph and Julie’s Wedding at Casa Real

We’ve gotten a lot of love from the folks over at Style Me Pretty lately and the features just keep coming! First, Ralph and Julie’s lovely in pink Pleasanton wedding at Casa Real attracted a front page feature this week! Booyah! Check out the post and send Ralph and Julie some comment love for putting together such an elegant yet darling wedding! 4 people love this   Next, Style Me Pretty has been THE source of inspiration for new brides with their blog, and one of our Recipe Sunday posts got a fall nod with our Fresh Pear and Cranberry…

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What We’ve Been Up To PLUS a Sneak Peek

Holy moly dear bloggy-blog… it’s been quite the summer! Not only have we been shooting the most epic eye-popping weddings ever, but we’ve been traveling the country at record speeds for shoots, workshops, and speaking tours. Since June, we’ve traveled to Idaho, Salt Lake City, Los Gatos, San Francisco, Atlanta, Minneapolis (twice), Lake Tahoe, Knoxville, Sacramento, Chicago, and Salt Lake City (again). Which is where I am writing this now – in a Starbucks near the Salt Lake City airport. Whew! And we’re not even close to being finished with our jet setting ways. From here we travel to Phoenix,…

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Nut Encrusted Chicken Breasts

Just in case you haven’t fallen in love with Jillian Michaels and her fabulous Ripped in 30 Meal Plan quite yet, I think this recipe just may be the nail that locks her down in your kitchen goddess heart. This is the final recipe that we’re featuring from her meal plan, so if you haven’t checked out the other Jillian Michaels healthy dishes that we’ve been posting all summer long, definitely take a look. They’re all keepers and sooooo easy. This delightful crunchy twist on your everyday chicken breast will for sure be added to your well worn recipe binder under the…

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