This is TEN

Ten years ago Kaili made me a mom and she did it in true Kaili fashion. Ten years later we are navigating through life, trying to tread the unpredictable waters that succumb her. She is strong, resilient, beautiful inside and out, empathetic but also anxious and worrisome. It’s almost like every fear that ran through me during the many months of bed rest were passed into her and still reside deep. Never a dull moment but all that I can wish for is that my baby is happy and healthy every day of her life!

Kaili loves music but she is a creature of habit. Fixates on one thing and that thing only until we can convince her to try something else (knowing that she will love it) until before you know it, that will be the her new favorite thing. It’s a repetitive cycle. She was a Teen Beach fan for a good handful of months and luckily that didn’t wear off before her party. I think she is already onto something else, phew.

We had a small gathering of family and a neighbor friend join us for her party. Mexican food, a Teen Beach cake and with ice cream. Followed by a scavenger hunt for her last gift. It was a success!

The cake had a lot of components that all came together well, if I don’t say so myself. Her reaction was priceless and it made my heart happy that I could give her what she wanted.

Happy double digits K bear!

Chicken Tikka Masala

In my opinion, Chicken Tikka Masala is the perfect dish. Chicken bathed in a creamy curry sauce with the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. This recipe is from Bon Appétit from years ago and it’s a foolproof and the most delicious recipe. Totally forgiving if you can’t find all of the exact ingredients or you need to make a few substitutes, it will be so good either way. Some say Chicken Tikka is a British take on curry and some believe it originated in India and I just found out that some think it’s originally from Glasgow, which seems a bit strange, but who knows? If you do, please fill me in, it might be a Jeopardy question one day.

The chicken marinates in yogurt for a handful of hours to overnight, this is a step you don’t want to skip. You also want to make sure you have some naan bread so you can sop up the leftover sauce. Trader Joes Garlic Naan is a sure hit.

I have made this recipe quite a lot and I will be honest, in a pinch you can use greek yogurt. I have and it was still amazing. I have also served it with Jasmine rice, gasp AND I cut the cumin in half because to me, cumin is a very overpowering spice. Also, the longer it sits, the better it gets so don’t be afraid of the leftovers.

*Recipe from Bon Appétit

INGREDIENTS

6 garlic cloves, finely grated

4 tsp. finely grated peeled ginger

4 tsp. ground turmeric

2 tsp. garam masala

2 tsp. ground coriander

2 tsp. ground cumin

1½cups whole-milk yogurt (not Greek)

1 Tbsp. kosher salt

2 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved lengthwise

3Tbsp. Ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil

1small onion, thinly sliced

¼cup tomato paste

6 cardamom pods, crushed

2 dried chiles de árbol or ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne.

128-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes

2cups heavy cream

¾ cup chopped cilantro, plus sprigs for garnishSteamed basmati rice (for serving)

DIRECTIONS

Combine garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, and cumin in a small bowl. Whisk yogurt, salt, and half of spice mixture in a medium bowl; add chicken and turn to coat. Cover and chill 4-6 hours. Cover and chill remaining spice mixture.

Heat ghee in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion, tomato paste, cardamom, and chiles and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste has darkened and onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add remaining half of spice mixture and cook, stirring often, until bottom of pot begins to brown, about 4 minutes.

Add tomatoes with juices, crushing them with your hands as you add them. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, until sauce thickens, 8-10 minutes.

Add cream and chopped cilantro. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack inside sheet. Arrange chicken on rack in a single layer. Broil until chicken starts to blacken in spots (it will not be cooked through), about 10 minutes.

Cut chicken into bite-size pieces, add to sauce, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Serve with rice and cilantro sprigs and naan.

Nerve Endings

It’s been over a year of not going to a park, playground or anywhere inside for that matter. Spending most warm weekends at the beach, the girls have finally realized that when we tell them that the ocean water is cold, they tend to believe us. Our pool finally opened and although we warned them that the water is going to be ice, they wanted to go with the boogie boards instead of the beach. Fast forward an hour, both Kaili and Averi were shivering while Shayne was still swimming and at that moment we wished for a playmate that also didn’t have nerve endings.

April 12th will go down in the books as the best day of 2021 as all of the girls finally went back on to campus for school. Almost 400 days you guys, sigh!

We celebrated back to school night with a mushroom galette and sticky rice with mango.

If you are one of those “I don’t like mushrooms” then I am sorry because this recipe was so DELICIOUS.

For dessert, I made sticky rice with mango. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like this dish, do you?

If you can, I suggest trying New York Times recipe but they are picky with what content they give out without an account…sigh. Otherwise, just grab a recipe and make sure you have ripe mango’s, coconut milk and the right glutinous rice. Then you are set!

I am currently simmering a Tikka Masala, stay tuned!

Who Does the Shopping for that Bunny?

For Peeps sake, the bunny that walks on two legs and lays Easter eggs overdid it on the girls baskets this year.


But it didn’t did leave any actual Peeps, or Reeses eggs, what gives? Who does the shopping for that bunny?

The girls had an abundance of sugar, new masks plus water balloons which made for a fun evening on a warm day.

I was in a bakey mood so I attempted a shot at a butterfly cake. It wont win any awards but the girls said it was “the best cake EVER” so I won no matter what.

The water balloons were put to good use, there may have been some tears, not mine but they did manage to get me soaked.

An anonymous neighbor leave three wooden bunnies for the girls to paint for Easter.

So we most definitely had our Easter art displayed.

Some Bunny Loves You!

Last but definitely not least, we made another 5 star Bon Appétit recipe.

Ramen Noodle with Spring Onions and Garlic Crisp

There is a bit of prep but it comes together quickly. I found the fresh noodles at the Ranch 99 market. In addition to the ingredients listed, I also added some toasted sesame oil (about 1 tsp.) and a dash of Shaoxing (Chinese cooking wine) to give it a little more Asian flare. We mayyybe went overboard on the serrano, it was spiiicy, but so good!

Don’t I know you?

A few weeks back we decided to try a new wine bar. When we were checking in Shawna says to me “the man we met in Puerto Vallarta is sitting outside.” We had met him in the pool and spent the day chatting, he works in travel and we still have his card on our calendar. She went outside and asked if he remembered us. After refreshing his memory he said he did, I don’t don’t think he did. He and his friend invited us to sit with them and we had a nice time, the wine was also good. For dinner we went had French.

We took the girls out to lunch in Old town with the promise of churros as a treat.

We also made the mistake of taking them to mini golf. Kaili was complaining before we even got out of the car. ” I don’t want to golf.” Then they saw the go carts and asked to do that. They complained about the weather, about being thirsty and about who went first and so on. Fun suckers, that is what they were that day.

I will say that out of the three of them, Averi showed the most promise for a future in golf.

Every holiday we all paint. We brainstorm what we are going to paint ahead of time and then we put music on and go for it. It’s a family favorite, there isn’t any fighting, little complaining and the girls look forward to it every time.

During dinner time we always ask the girls “what did you learn? And, what is something kind that you did for someone else?”

Here is Averi in pig.

Jerk Shrimp with Coconut Rice and Mango Salsa

We had a few days of nice weather where we took advantage of the beach with and without the girls.

The warm weather brought on thoughts of traveling and eating seafood by the water. Instead I made this this delicious dinner and we ate it watching our guilty pleasure reality show.

INGREDIENTS FOR SHRIMP

  • 1 Pound raw shrimp, cleaned and deveined
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil

INGREDIENTS FOR MARINADE

1 Tbsp lime juice

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp ketchup

1 tsp each paprika, chili powder

1/2 tsp each garlic powder, onion powder, all spice, cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp each ground ginger, dried thyme, salt

Pinch cinnamon and nutmeg

DIRECTIONS

Add marinade ingredients to a freezer bag or medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add shrimp and marinate at room temperature for 15-30 minutes or in the refrigerator for up to 60 minutes.

Heat one tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add shrimp and marinade and cook approximately 3 minutes per side, or just until opaque and cooked through.

INGREDIENTS FOR COCONUT RICE

2 cups Jasmine Rice

1 can coconut milk

1 + 1/2 cups water

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

In a medium sized pot, rinse the jasmine rice several times until the water runs clear. Drain any excess water and add the coconut milk, water, salt and sugar.

On high heat, allow the mixture to boil. Once it starts to boil, turn the heat down to low and cook covered for 20 minutes.

Uncover and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Fluff and serve.

INGREDIENTS FOR MANGO SALSA

1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and finely chopped

2 Tbsp finely chopped red onion

1/2 jalapeño chile, minced  (or more depending on how hot the chile is)

 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

3 Tbsp fresh lime juice

Garlic salt to taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and season with garlic salt to taste. The longer it hangs out the better it gets.

You guys….homeschooling was not part of my birth plan.

Aside from working, school, homeschooling, refereeing, cooking, working out and binging Bon Appétit, I took time to open a few of my cookbooks while I rearranged them.

Scallop Linguine

Parmesan Eggs

Seared Duck Breast with Orange Glaze

The first two recipes are from Chrissy Teigen and I love her palate but….Unless you are Keto, the parm eggs are very rich. Very good but you wouldn’t want to eat it with carbs unless you are super hungover, you know what I am saying? Her scallop linguine was so good, but another recipe where I wouldn’t necessarily bread scallops, sometimes less is more.

We did discover, late I am sure, the produce market to the local chefs. It was there that I decided you can lay my ashes once I pass. They had IT ALL. It was like a Farm Fresh box but literally the entire building. I discovered types of citrus I didn’t know existed and mushrooms I have never seen. They also had pantry items such as high end olive oils, all sorts of curry pastes and they also had meat, duck, waygu beef and lamb. Literally mind blowing. That is where we got the duck breasts, I pan seared it and then made an orange glaze along side and served it with roasted acorn squash. Now I am thinking that I could have found my curry leaves there, shit, I will have to go back and check.

Chili Peanut Rice

After countless hours of watching the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen I finally decided to make one of the recipes that caught my eye. I ordered Priya’s cookbook Indian(-ish), mostly to just browse through since we can find all of the BA recipes off of their website. She has a lot of recipes worth trying but this one is a crowd pleaser. I struggled to find a couple of the ingredients. I dragged the girls through HMart looking for fresh curry leaves and black mustard seed with no luck but I did grab some fresh lime leaves as a back up. Then I dragged them through an international market which is stocked mostly with Mediterranean items but I did find the mustard seeds there. I used the lime leaves in place of the curry leaves and also added some fresh basil to try and mimic the same flavor. Next time I need to locate all of the ingredients without children.

This is a perfect recipe for leftover rice if that happens at your home. Our rice gets eaten up by children so I don’t normally have leftover rice, but if I did. Next time I make this I will use more spice, my serranos were very mild. This is a really good dish and will go so well with BA’s crispy honey garlic chicken thighs, or tandoori chicken, or palak paneer and naan, actually anything or nothing.

*recipe from Bon Appétit

INGREDIENTS

3cups cooked basmati rice (from about 1 cup dry rice)

2Tbsp. (or more) fresh lime juice (from about 1 lime)

1tsp. (or more) kosher salt

½cup ghee or extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1Tbsp. black mustard seeds

10fresh curry leaves

1cup roasted, unsalted peanuts

1medium onion, sliced into thin strips

2small Indian green chiles or serrano chiles, halved lengthwise (no need to stem them)

2Tbsp. chopped cilantro leaves with tender stems

Combine rice, lime juice, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.

Heat ¼ cup ghee in a shallow medium pan over medium. Once ghee melts (or oil begins to shimmer), add mustard seeds. As soon as they begin to pop and dance around in the ghee, which should be within seconds, remove pan from heat. Add curry leaves, making sure they get fully coated in ghee (there may be more popping and splattering, and that’s okay!). The leaves should immediately crisp up in the residual heat.

Return pan to medium-low heat and add peanuts. Cook, stirring, until peanuts turn a medium shade of brown and become fragrant, 5–8 minutes. Pour peanut mixture over reserved rice mixture and toss gently to

Heat remaining ¼ cup ghee in same pan over medium. Once ghee melts (or oil begins to shimmer), add onion and chiles, spreading in an even layer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is lightly browned and starting to caramelize, 5–7 minutes. Stir onion mixture into rice. Taste and add more salt and lime juice, if needed. Garnish with cilantro before serving.

The one with all the Pictures

Homeschooling is really sucking the life out of me and then the teachers went and added musical instruments, shame. Sorry, but those flutes are hidden for the rest of the week.

The girls have made friends with a group of the neighborhood kids and it has been AHmazing. They are eager to get off their zooms and go outside to play. They have been playing outside until the sun goes down and have been introduced to the game Ghosts in the Graveyard We have been at the tail end of our summer weather and we have definitely taken advantage of it.

Now that the weather is cooling down we thought it’s time to decorate for Halloween.

Fall cooking has been sparse, it’s been a lot of easy throw togethers, salads, Amy’s enchiladas and anything that could go on the grill.

I did make this recipe for roasted rack of lamb and with glass of cab and a dollop of mint jelly, it was delish.

I also made a divine chocolate mousse that hales from Waters Catering here in San Diego. So rich and soooo good.

Mummies were also on the menu one night.

The pumpkin patch was a slight let down, we tried a new one and although the girls were happy with it, there wont be a repeat visit. I think they would go back and just sit in the petting zoo the entire time.

But first, the hair.

They all decided they would rather paint theirs instead of carving. SO much easier.

To round out the Halloween fun, the girls had crazy hat day for their after school zoom.

There is no shortage of things to do, it’s just wanting to do them. I really hope 2021 brings more normalcy, ya know what I’m saying?

2020….How it started

How it’s going