Ponderosa...At Home

Labor Day Eats!

August 29, 2014

Flank Steak with Balsamic BBQ Sauce 

Your Labor Day event is sure to be a hit with this delicious and mouth-watering recipe that your guests will love! Enjoy!

For the sauce and steak:
1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 small chipotle chili in adobo sauce, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons molasses
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pounds flank steak

For the cheesy bread:
1 French baguette, halved lengthwise and cut into 4-inch pieces
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup grated Monterey jack cheese
Sliced scallions, for serving

Make the sauce: Bring the balsamic vinegar to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until reduced by about half, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Add the onion and cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the ketchup and 3 tablespoons water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Add the reduced balsamic vinegar, the chili powder, paprika, mustard, red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, chipotle chili, brown sugar, honey and molasses. Simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender or transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce into a bowl and let cool to room temperature. (The sauce will keep for 1 week refrigerated in a sealed container. If it gets too thick, stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons water.)

Grilling the steak: Let the steak sit 30 minutes at room temperature before grilling. Meanwhile, preheat a grill to high. Brush the steak with the remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Grill over direct heat until browned on one side, about 3 minutes, then turn over and grill until the other side is browned, about 3 more minutes. Move to a cooler part of the grill, away from direct heat. Baste with the sauce and continue grilling, turning several more times, until medium rare, about 5 more minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and loosely tent with foil. Let rest 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the cheesy bread: Brush the cut side of each piece of bread with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill on both sides. Remove from the grill and top each piece with a mound of grated Monterey jack cheese. Put the bread on a piece of aluminum foil and return to the grill to melt the cheese. Transfer to a serving platter.

Thinly slice the steak against the grain. Arrange the steak slices on the bread and garnish with sliced scallions.

Total time:
1 hour and 30 minutes
Prep: 40 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
Serves 4.

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Have a great Saturday and Sunday in the Bay Area doing what you love with your family! Enjoy!

Get ready for one of the most popular comic operas this weekend in Livermore! Pirates of Penzance, presented by Lamplighters Theatre, is coming to the Bankhead Theater on Saturday at 2PM. For tickets, click here. 

Come watch a fun family flick this weekend in San Jose! The Lego Movie is hitting the big screen at Almaden Lake Park as part of the Outdoor Movies Series on Saturday at 8:30PM. Get more info here. 

Pick up the season’s freshest fruits and vegetables this weekend in Pleasanton! The Pleasanton Farmers’ Market offers the best in California-grown produce on Saturday from 9AM to 1PM – rain or shine. For more info, click here. 

Experience an abundance of culture this weekend in San Jose! The San Jose Italian Family Festa is coming to Guadalupe River Park and Gardens this Sunday at 10AM and features authentic Italian eats, entertainment, arts and crafts and even a grape-stomping and Tarantella contest. To learn more, go here.

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Get ready for a weekend of comedy, wine and more this Saturday and Sunday in the Bay Area!

Enjoy a night of comedy and wine this weekend in Livermore! Comedy Uncorked 2014 brings three Bay Area comedy geniuses to Retzlaff Vineyards for an evening of laughs. Benefiting the Open Heart Kitchen, an organization that feeds the hungry of the Tri-Valley, this event will take place on Saturday starting at 7:30PM. To purchase tickets, click here. 

Take in an afternoon of Shakespeare this weekend in San Jose! The laughter and romance of A Midnight Summer’s Dream will be presented by San Jose Youth Shakespeare at the Historic Hoover Theater on Sunday at 2PM. For tickets, click here. 

Come out for an afternoon of the tunes from folk singer-songwriter Carl Tilchen this weekend in Livermore. Join other music enthusiasts for jazz, blues and original songs on Sunday at 2PM at the Livermore Public Library. For more info, click here. 

Join lululemon athletica for a workout session this weekend! The Summer Free Yoga Series is taking place at Santana Row in San Jose on Saturday starting at 8:30AM. For more info, go here. 

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As a future homeowner, are you aware of the new lender regulations that went into effect in 2014? These new regulations or the “ability-to-repay-rule” alter the qualification requirements and the types of mortgages that are given to prospective homebuyers.

“Safe or qualified mortgages” are mortgages that the lender can make a reasonable determination on and ensure can be paid back by the borrower – with lenders being protected from lawsuits from potential homeowners.

Here are a few changes that have been made by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:

1. A qualified mortgage must have reasonably low fees

2. A loan cannot be interest-only.

3. Borrowers cannot have a total monthly debt (this includes mortgage payments) that exceeds forty three percent of their gross income.

So, why is it a great idea to start talking to a lender and get pre-approved to purchase before a sales release?

This back to basics lending approach insures that loans will not be defaulted on as they were between 2005 and 2008, when fifty percent of borrowers would not have qualified under the “ability to-repay-rules.” Under the new rules, mortgage-servicing companies must send monthly statements that show how payments are credited to the loan and credit payments the day they arrive.

And it’s important to note that being pre-qualified is different than being pre-approved. Pre-qualification is an unofficial estimate of the dollar amount you can afford in your new home purchase. In this case, the loan officer makes an educated guess about your ability to purchase a home that is based on your verbal or written submissions of income, finances and stated credit history.

However, getting pre-approved carries a much larger weight in the mortgage and real estate industry because this approval is based on official documentation of tax returns, bank statements, business licenses and more. The lender then analyzes this documentation as well as your credit report and employment verification to determine your eligibility. They will then produce a letter of pre-approval that certifies that you have the necessary resources to afford a home listed at a specific amount. This letter also will specify the interest rate you are qualified to obtain based on your credit approval. Once you have selected the property you wish to purchase and are under contract to purchase, your interest rate will be locked in. Sellers love pre-approved buyers because they have proof that the buyer has the necessary financial backing and is prepared to pay the listed price. Many sellers won’t consider offers from buyers without pre-approval letters.

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Music, Magic and More

August 8, 2014

This weekend is sure to be a hit in the Bay Area! Check out the great events happening near you on Saturday and Sunday.

Check out a magic show like no other this weekend in Livermore! NewMagic with Alex Ramon adds a new style and flair to incredible marvels and feats this Sunday at the Bankhead Theater at 3PM. Purchase tickets, here. 

Run for a great cause – and get blasted with some color – this weekend in Pleasanton! The Color in Motion 5K is happening this Saturday at the Alameda County Fairgrounds and benefits the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. To register, click here.

Come listen to an original repertoire of tunes this weekend in Livermore! Americana Quintet, Houston Jones is performing songs ranging from bluegrass to gospel at the Livermore Public Library this Sunday at 2PM. Get more info, here.

Learn bike maintenance tips this weekend in Dublin! REI is hosting a workshop to help you get to know the basics this Saturday from 9AM to 10:30AM. Click here to register.

Jazz is calling your name this weekend in San Jose! The San Jose Jazz Summer Fest is taking place this Saturday in the downtown area of the city. Listen to the sweet sounds of local and regional artists starting at 10AM. Find out more, here. 

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Summer Rolls On

August 1, 2014

Summer continues to bring plenty of fun to the Bay Area! Check out what’s happening near you this weekend.

Stroll the streets of Livermore this Saturday from 12PM to 5PM! Taste of Downtown features delicious eats from talented local chefs, along with the chance to sip award-winning wines from Livermore Valley vineyards, enjoy live entertainment and shopping specials. Get more info here.

Travel back in time this weekend at the 4th annual San Jose Renaissance Faire. This cultural eventbrings magic and merriment, entertainment, music, dancing and action-packed shows to you this Saturday at 10AM. Purchase tickets here

It’s books galore this weekend in Livermore! Get ready for a monthly book sale presented by the Friends of the Livermore Library on Sunday, August 3 from 12PM to 4PM. These books are priced well below their retail value. There will even be a table of free books, so don’t miss out! Get the details here

Get ready for the beauty of family and traditions at the San Jose Tamale Festival this weekend! This multicultural event showcases the best in family tamale recipes, music and live performances this Sunday at 10AM at Emma Prusch Park. Buy your tickets here

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