We get to see Dave Matthews in less than 45 days, I think…. Math is not my strong suit.
With the Dead and Company being on tour and Dave has finally gone out to tour this summer, I can’t help but remember THAT DAY.
May 20, 1995
I went to Vegas to see the Grateful Dead. It was hot, I wasn’t old enough to gamble and I remember being so afraid of being dosed with acid. You laugh, but we heard that squirt bottles had been dosed with acid, sigh. I walked into the outdoor stadium, it was sweltering, people were selling cold fruit, and squirting people with “water”, I put myself into panic mode, ha! But, then….this band came on stage and that was that. I fell in love right there. Soooo, I can NOT wait to see him live again with my favorite person.
Last Saturday I asked the girls what they wanted for breakfast. Being that we didn’t have pancake mix (no I am not making it from scratch, eye roll). They branched out. One asked for avo toast and another, toad in a hole (egg in toast). Extra, or kids who still need to dip everything they eat in a condiment, now insert eye roll.
I made a very good scallop recipe.
You had me at spicy herb oil.
Reality check. We can combine all of the herbs, add in some salt and some spice and we could pair it with anything. Steak, chicken, fish, pasta….seriously you guys, it’s so flavorful, and fresh and perfect for summer.
To give this dish a more Asian influence, add 1 tsp of sesame oil to the herb oil mixture.
This recipe comes from Chef Tory Miller
Pan-Seared Scallops with Heirloom Tomatoes & Spicy Herb Oil
8 Jumbo Scallops
Salt, to taste
fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 Tbs Butter
1 Tbs fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbs chopped fresh chives
1 Tbs chopped fresh mint
1 Tbs chopped fresh Basil
1 Tbs minced garlic
1 Tbs minced shallot
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs fish sauce
1/4 cup evoo
1 fresh Thai chili, thinly sliced
2 cups fresh, ripe cherry tomatoes
1 lime, halved
Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scallops and cook without turning or moving until they start to turn brown around the edges. Add the butter to pan. When melted, use the butter to baste the scallops to complete the cooking. Do not turn the scallops. This whole cooking process should take around 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and set the scallops on a paper towel lined plate.
To make the herb oil, mix all the ingredients in a bowl and stir well.
Arrange the tomatoes on a plate. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked scallops and drizzle with the herb oil. Squeeze the lime juice over the entire dish.
A few months before our trip to Greece I landed a gig to teach a summer cooking class to kids. The days, times and location worked out brilliantly with our schedules. I was given all of the recipes for the cooking session, then I went shopping for the ingredients on the Sunday before class or that Monday morning. There is a Pavilion’s right near the school, that was so handy! The company dropped off bins full of the cooking utensils and tools I should need beforehand, so all I had to do was unpack the groceries and prep for the class.The plan was to teach two separate sessions, three weeks each. The first session was a cooking class the second was a baking class.
My cooking group consisted of 3 boys and 3 girls, ages 6-11 and they were awesome!
Each day we made two dishes/recipes. I would get to the site early and prep all of the ingredients (mis en place), the cooking equipment we would be using, and presented it on a table for easy accessibility. I wrote on each recipe card who was going to do what. Little Billy (names have been changed) will cut onions, Rose will grate cheese and so on and so forth. That way I knew that everyone was participating throughout the entire class. After a quick demo of what we were going to make and asking them about some of the ingredients, we dove in. I didn’t do any of the cooking, they did it all. I guided them, I handled the hot oven, any boiling water and the washing of knives, but other than that, they did it all. And man, they kicked ass!
The first week we made.
Gumbo, flapjacks, carrot casserole, porridge bites, egg casserole, spinach mac n cheese, Spaghetti with meatballs, and omelettes.
They were pretty good eaters. I will say that by the second week, one girl was begging to stop using onions, HAHAHA! I feel like every recipe called for onions.
When we were done with both dishes of the day, we sat down and ate together. I would bring in juice mix and they would take turns making a pitcher of lemonade or fruit punch, yes, of course it was sugar free, not my first rodeo lunatics. Then, if we had any free time before the class ended, we would play heads up or trivia or maybe just draw Whatever they wanted to do as long as it wasn’t swinging from the rafters or playing chase, boys, I am looking at you.
The second week we made;
Mash and gravy, meatball stroganoff, brussels sprout and parmesan salad, hot dogs with a veggie chili, Naan personal pizzas, macaroni and cheese and a fruit salad.
This pasta recipe, you guys, was soooooo good. I know it doesn’t look great and honestly when I read the recipe I wasn’t sold. But it’s good, guilty pleasure BBQ side dish good.
I will share the recipe.
The final week we made said pasta salad, pizza pockets, veggie sushi rolls and eggs with pico de gallo.
Yes, we did make it to Great Wolf Lodge in case you were wondering. It happened sooner than we originally planned for, aka turned into a spur of the moment situation. We decided to keep it a surprise from the girls. We told them that we were going to Grandma and Grandpa’s and that we were meeting them at the their pool. So the girls packed the night before and let me say, Kaili wanted to pack every damn thing, she wanted to give this and that to Grandma and I felt guilty as hell for lying. Come morning, we packed up the car and headed out. Passing our normal Laguna Niguel exit, luckily they didn’t notice with their heads in IPads. But when we got closer to GWL they meaning Shayne, realized something was off.
“Why did you say we were going to Grandma and Grandpa’s? Mom guilt.
We grabbed our luggage and off we went.
Our room was ready when we checked in, so we went and dropped off our stuff so we could get to sliding.
Averi’s birthday, her choice of bed. She chose the twin, no bunk this time.
We found a table to drop our shit, thankfully, that can be the biggest hurdle. If you can’t get there early, everything is taken.
We played all day.
The girls’ Paw Passes came with it all, ice cream, golf, arcade, yada yada yada. So around 6pm we went back to the room and changed and then went for ice cream.
Then they chose their stuffies, played games and then mini golf and then and then and then. For dinner, Averi wanted McDonald’s, sigh. We had it delivered (brilliance) which saved probably $125 for not eating at the resort.
The next morning we were up and down at the waterpark when it opened, easily grabbed a table and did it all again. Once the outdoor pool area opened, Shawna and I went out and had some adult beverages in the quiet sun.
Averi decided to brave the wave pool and boogie board before we went home, we were so proud.
Even though we missed the 5th graders promotion, we were lucky enough to have pictures and videos taken for us.
We took the girls to the fair as a graduation gift, an expensive one. Rides, rides and more rides, throw in some corn dogs and farm animals, we had a great time.
I got Kaili to go on my favorite drop ride with me. I also talked her into Gravitron, remember that one? That was our favorite when I was young, loud music and spinning so fast that you can climb the walls. The girls also loved it! All of us but Averi went on a ride that Shawna and I had been eyeing, we were surprised that K and S braved it with us. It was pretty intense and I think both of the girls considered tears, but once we were back on the ground they said it was fun!
Averi however wasn’t a fan of most of the rides, she screamed for the man to “STOP THE RIDE” when we went on the one that has the cars that travel in a circle and navigate a set of hills in the process at a high speed. We started backwards and she was NOT having it. She passed on most of the rides after that, braving a fun house here and there. Oh and she did the giant slide,
We spent the next few days at the pool flaunting their obnoxious pool floaties.
Shayne got an Avocado floaty but she was not in the mood for a photo shoot.
Now we are days away from July and we have two more family birthdays coming up, AND a Great Wolf Lodge stay. The fun continues.
Our Averi is a super fan of lemon. Lemonade, lemons with sugar, lemon soda. I told her it was because when I was pregnant with her, the only thing that soothed my nausea was lemonade. I mean, I am not wrong but she probably likes those things because…sugar. Anyhow, I was telling her that Europe has Fanta Limón, well I should say that I knew Spain had it, and I was really hoping that Greece and Italy did too. I told her I would bring some home for her to try if we ran into any. I didn’t see any in Athens, Santorini or Rome. That was, until we were inside the Leonardo da Vinci International Airport.
Our alarm went off early because our Uber was to be in front of our hotel at 8:30 for our 11:30 flight. I woke up to messages saying that our flight had been delayed two hours. So we rebooked our ride for later and went and had breakfast that’s when it hit us, we wouldn’t be making our connecting flight in Toronto. Fast forward an hour and a half, we were finally checked in and we were told that our luggage would meet us in San Diego. Sweet. We found a spot to grab a sandwich for the plane and that is where I found it, Fanta Limón. I grabbed two bottles, stuck them in our carry on and we were off to Toronto. Since we missed our connecting flight to Chicago, they automatically put us on another flight, but now we were headed to Vancouver. As we sat there we kept watching the screen push back our flight time..DELAYED. DELAYED, MOTHER FUCKING DELAYED. They blamed it on the galley and clean up crew, we would soon find out that all of the airlines were lacking all crew, including pilots and flight attendants. About an hour later we were finally making our way onto the aircraft and would be arriving in Vancouver at midnight. I searched high and low for a hotel to stay at but since we didn’t get our Covid tests the only option was The Fairmont in the international terminal and it was completely booked. So with that, we found ourselves a vending machine, bought some waters and cookies, found a row of open airport chairs and hunkered down for the night.
Airplane pillows, face masks, eye masks and a few melatonin later, we actually slept a few hours at a time. The security gates opened at 6:00 am so we made our way to our future 9:30 gate for our flight to San Diego. This is when when we lost the Fanta, sigh. We completely forgot it was in our carry on bag. The TSA agent felt bad and said that we could drink them really quick, and we told him they were for our kids. With a heavy heart, I took a picture for proof and we parted ways.
Everything was looking up after that and then….our flight to San Diego, the ONLY flight to San Diego was….Yep, cancelled.
The sole purpose of us leaving Rome to be home by the 14th was our girls 5th grade graduation. We promised them that we would be picking them up at school and all getting ready together to celebrate and we had surprise dinner reservations. That was when we realized that we wouldn’t be making it home in time to pick them up or even in time to make the graduation, if we even made it home at all. There were tears, lots of tears in the airport. Once we made our phone calls to our girls, we sat outside our future gate for a flight to San Diego and then decided, f#ck it , let’s drink. Nothing says eff it like morning booze. We made our way to the bar and had a couple of morning adult beverages.
Once we landed in San Fran, we had to walk miles from terminal to terminal to find our gate. At this point we didn’t’ get our hopes up, if the plane and crew showed up, great, if not, great. So we found our gate and grubbed some clam chowder.
After insane amount of boarding passes, we landed in San Diego at 8:30 p.m.
Can you guess what happened next? No seriously, take a wild guess.
Yep, no luggage. I mean that would be asking for too much. On top of everything, they didn’t even know where our luggage was. We had to laugh because all we thought was, thank god this wasn’t happening a day before our wedding (Sorry C and A). We finally made it home after 9:00 pm, took hot showers and were so thankful to be sleeping in our bed instead of an airport.
Why do I feel like this title has a sexual undertone?
Two nuns were riding their bicycles through the back streets and alleys of Rome.
One turns to the other and says, “I’ve never come this way before”.
the other nun says, “It’s the cobblestones”.
It’s a Roman ending.
The alarm went off on our last day in Rome. We still had things to see, places to eat at and hands to shake. We strolled to the hotel breakfast which was quite good. Plenty of options and good coffee.
Originally we planned on packing some rapid Covid tests but totally forgot. We had a connecting flight in Canada which is still quite strict on their policies. We thought better safe than sorry, so after breakfast we took an Uber to a testing site. And, it was closed…so we hopped back in the Uber and went ahead with our day, silently hoping we wouldn’t need the tests.
We arrived at Vatican city pretty early, but there were already loads of people lined up to go inside, hard pass.
We continued our self tour and walked towards the Tiber river, heading towards Piazza Navona.
This is when we were sure that the only people who order Aperol Spritz’ are Americans, because it’s not a good drink and the Italian’s know this.
I had a place in mind for lunch near the Pantheon but it wasn’t opening for awhile and the crowds were already crazy. So we chose another restaurant and that is the one thing I hate about myself. I need to stick to my instinct, sigh. We weren’t disappointed with where we ended up, but I know the wait would have been worth it.
We wandered the streets heading back to our hotel.
Taking a little siesta before heading back out.
Italy was playing in England and I thought what fun it would to be watch an Italian match in Italy. So we found a pub that was televising all of the matches and hung around that area until kick off. We had a snack and did a little window shopping.
A recommended wine bar wasn’t too far away, so we popped in for a glass. Their wine list was obnoxious, The Cheesecake Factory should be jealous.
Finally we ended up at the pub with some drinks and a very uneventful fútbol match, we finished our drinks and left at half time.
Stopping off for one more sweet before bed. We had a ride scheduled to take us to the airport in the morning. We have a 5th grade promotion to catch, or so we thought….
No alarm Friday. Our hotel had breakfast available but we decided to sleep in and then go. Making our way through the streets of Rome heading to the Colosseum. It took us about an hour to tootle the 1.7 miles.
We were hungry and for whatever reason, all I wanted was pizza. We stopped and did just that.
Cheese pull number two wasn’t as grand, but the pizza’s were really good.
We strolled by the Victor Emmanuel monument.
Our end game was Campo de Fiori and it did not disappoint.
We chose a place to sit for cold cocktails and some people watching all while mentally making a shopping list.
We grabbed some fun pasta for the girls, meloncello, and the BEST apricots I have ever had.
Then we strolled through the Piazza Navona and the Pantheon to plan Saturday’s lunch.
Before we new it, it was time to head back to our room and get ready for dinner.
Our room. We stayed at the Hotel Mozart but our room wasn’t in the hotel, it was around the corner, in another building. I filmed the experience, you are welcome.
It was perfect.
Dinner….. we planned this dinner weeks before our trip.
Hotel Eden’s rooftop restaurant is where Michelin-star Chef Fabio Ciervo works his magic. I’ll be transparent and admit that the dinner started off with some anxiety. I left my phone in the Uber that dropped us off and even though the driver said he would bring it back in an hour, I had a hard time relaxing because, what the f*ck? I don’t even know why I had my phone in my hand or why it didn’t exit the car with me. I blame my cold for brain fog because that’s all I have for an excuse.
The menu featured a handful of tasting menu choices. We decided on three courses and dessert.
Which ended up being a very good decision because the chef added some amazing bites to our meal.
I have to say that I have never experienced this type of service before, it’s something that I could easily become accustomed to.
We started off with a goat cheese mousse cannoli with tomato dust. A tomato anchovy tartlet. Grape riesling foie gras and a wheat grass spritz.
Truly incredible and we haven’t even started.
Bread with three flavors of compound butter. My memory fails me but I know there was parsley butter, anchovy butter and one other flavor. The one thing I noticed this time in Europe was that the butter has been unsalted. That never was the case before. I may need to consult a chef about this.
Next up, White asparagus, Amalfi lemon and Mazara red shrimp.
Buffalo mozzarella, scallops and dried tomatoes. The first picture is with the tomato lattice on and then with it off.
Gran Riserva risotto with Franciacorta wine, oyster and rocket.
Let me pause here and talk about this dish.
Veal broth ravioli and horseradish my way.
Never have I ever experienced anything like this before. I can’t even begin to describe it but it was incredible. The ravioli was perfectly simple and the broth, the broth was so complex and in that one bite it was magic. One of the best things I have ever eaten.
Eel with mixed herbs and Pigeon breast with raspberry and foie gras. I did not love the pigeon, probably wont do that again. The eel was good.
Palate cleanser of mango and coconut dried ice cream.
Deconstructed Tiramisu and a view.
We thought this was the end but it wasn’t.
A box of chocolates and these amazing sweets.
We were absolutely blown away by this experience.
Thank you Rome.
Completely stuffed we walked it off, pausing at the top of the Spanish steps. We thought about a wine bar but we were done, so we went back to the room.
We had the entire previous morning to reschedule our breakfast for later on our last day in Greece. More like move it to the PM (if we were smart), but it didn’t even cross our minds. So after only a few hours of sleep, we were woken by a knock the door along with a chipper “good morrrrning!” Then we stumbled outside to another amazing breakfast on the patio. It’s hard to describe this hotel because it’s unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. But it’s very quiet and you rarely see anyone other than the porters carrying luggage up and down loads of stairs. So when Shawna was all “come here, hiiiiiii” in her cute voice, I was like what is happening? But then, she arrived.
I nicknamed her Evil Eyes only because that is what she had, but she was super sweet, a nursing mama in search for food. She liked, eggs and bacon, disliked, Greek yogurt.
Our transfer to the airport didn’t arrive until 1:15 so we wandered back into the village grabbing souvenirs and a last lunch.
We had no problems getting to the airport, getting on the airplane, getting to Rome and then getting to our hotel. We booked a stay at the Hotel Mozart. It checked the boxes of walking distance to certain landmarks, had a lift, breakfast included and a cafe next door.
We were right around the corner from the Spanish Steps. Once we checked in, that is where we headed.
We ate dinner not far from Piazza de Spagna.
Wine, pizza and pasta.
Cheese pull number one! Dinner was delicious.
We decided to head over to the Trevi fountain because, why not? And it’s more majestic at night, well I think so.
We headed back towards our hotel when we ran into Giolitto. I mean by the amount of people in line, we couldn’t pass it up.
I ordered way more than I could handle. Dark chocolate, coffee and pistachio…in a cone, sigh….
She ordered almost the same but in a cup.
Verdict; the dark chocolate was too much (who am I?) the pistachio was amazing, the coffee was good.
Why the line of people? No idea, but I also don’t understand ordering an Aperol Spritz on purpose, so maybe I am getting old and it’s lost on me.
Full and tired, we headed back to our room.
Oh, I can’t wait to show you the walk to our room!! Andpictures of the Colosseum and our spectacular dinner at a multi Michelin star restaurant, swooon!!
My coughing has been making my nights really sucky.
So when we woke up to our breakfast being delivered, I made it outside with barely open eyes.
But if there is anywhere to just sit and soak it up, this is the place.
We had no agenda for the day except making our way to my brothers hotel for his wedding. So we ate, napped and read until it was time to get ready. A very nice lazy start to a fantastic day.
All of us that were in Santorini for the wedding arrived on Monday, Casey and Aileen were also supposed to arrive on Monday however their travel plans came to a halt in Munich. Their flight was delayed and then canceled, forcing them to stay the night in Germany. After a lot of shuffling and money, they were able to catch a morning flight on Tuesday getting them into Santorini by the afternoon. They made it, however their luggage did not. Can you imagine? A day before your wedding and you have nothing.There was no ETA on when they would get their luggage either, but luckily they were able to go shopping and expense what they bought. Santorini isn’t a terrible place to shop, they had a lot of options. A day later Casey had new wedding attire and they had bought beachwear, luckily Aileen’s dress was brought there by a friend who’s luggage did make it.
We walked with our wedding shit, in the sun, up hill to their hotel but not after getting lost…of course. We really have become accustomed to getting a ride when we want it, and I will not take it for granted again. Sweaty and sunburned we climbed up and down more stairs until we were in their hotel room and laying on the air conditioner.
Then we popped some Champagne and toasted to the soon to be husband.
When summoned, we made our way to the ceremony.
Have you seen a more dramatic back drop for a wedding? I haven’t.
Casey looked mighty fine for shopping that morning for an outfit, his friends did good. And Aileen was a stunning bride. It was a beautiful wedding.
While the bride and groom went off for photos we made our way down to the bar for some adult bevarages.
Then they did the cake cutting before the sun set.
Followed by the most incredible wedding dinner. I can see how the rich and famous get used to this type of lifestyle, it’s not too bad.
We were served a seven course meal over 3 maybe 3.5 hours. Every bite of food was phenomenal. I terribly regret not taking pictures but I wanted to be in the moment.
Once we finished the dessert course we all got in a transfer back to the Oia village to the Hassapiko bar.
I know what you are thinking, I thought the same thing… it’s for a vacation, that’s exciting right? Well, we all had a bad cold leading up to this, and sleeping wasn’t what I was getting much of at the time, so ya, 3 in the morning hurt. But, we got to the airport, on the first flight without any hiccups or coughing fits, thankfully. I literally had to have a cough drop in my mouth at all times.
We left San Diego early and got to NYC on time as the picture suggests. The layover in NYC was simple and then we were on our second leg to Athens. This leg was a good 9 hours and I started out by playing a game.
But after this rude comment, I switched to my book. (which is Book Lovers and as good as I imagined it would be.)
Finally we made it to Athens.
(If you don’t see this video because I am in a different country and my computer doesn’t comprehend.)
Once we reached Athens, we hit the ground running, until we weren’t. The Santorini airport was unlike anything else I have experienced. We should have had over 2 hours to play around at the airport, however that didn’t happen. Long story short, an hour was spent getting our luggage checked, and then we had to wait for a bus, yes a shuttle bus to take us out to our plane. The bus was a few hour late meanwhile we were only in the air for 26 minutes. However, we made it and was pleasantly surprised that our luggage made it as well.
The four of us took a transfer from the airport to Oia, pronounced Eeee-Uh. Our hotel was located at the beginning of the Oia(n)? village. This is the area you see in all of the movies. White buildings that look like sugar cubes perched on the rugged cliffs over looking the Aegean sea. There are blue domed churches dotted along the way, the landscape is breathtakingly beautiful.
There are cats and dogs happily sun bathing all over the village.
Once we got settled into our amazing room at Thirea Suites and Studios, and took a much needed shower, we met up with my parents for dinner.
Amazing right? Everything about this hotel is wonderful, except these.
Doesn’t look too terrible but I assure you this isn’t all of them. We counted and there are 139 steps. Let me tell you, after a week of coughing and the Mediterranean sun, 139 steps is no small feat. But it’s worth it when you reach the top.
We planned on walking through the village and down the 300 steps to Ammoudi bay however I didn’t have it in me. Not enough sleep and still fighting my cold, I wasn’t confident I would make it back up. So we stopped into a little restaurant that served traditional Greek dishes and had a nice dinner.
I ordered the Mussels Saganaki and a dry white wine (I can’t remember the varietal) and it was all really good. After dinner we popped into a little market by our hotel for some wine, water and snacks because no one wants to be left without options on vacation.
We poured a glass of wine and soaked in our jacuzzi, winding down from a couple of long travel days.
The one thing we didn’t prepare for was how difficult it is to find rides on the island. So if you come here, come prepared. There are very few taxis and even less Uber’s and transfers need to be reserved ahead of time or you’re left waiting.
I had made reservations at a winery a few weeks before we arrived. We forget to arrange our ride the day we got in so after climbing all of the stairs and coughing for a good 10 minutes in the sun, we finally managed to get a ride, although we ended up being an hour late to our reservations, but we made it.
We had four wines paired with two courses. The food was really good, the wine was just ok.
From the winery which was located in the middle of the island, we wanted to catch a ride on the bus down to Perrisa beach which is on the bottom of the island. We had to hike a ways back up the road to get to the bus stop. The bus is really convenient and a cheaper option to get around but it takes time to get from one side of the island to the other. We hopped off the bus in the town of Perrisa and walked seaside until we picked a beach bar to pop a squat. I don’t know why all the countries have amazing beach bars and we live in California and we have nothing like this.
The beaches were lined with shops and bars and they all offered chairs and umbrellas, all of them.
We changed into our suits, ordered a drink and soaked up the Mediterranean sun, literally, for hours.
The beaches are all black sand (rock beaches) thanks to the volcanic lava and ash. Hot as hell is what is was, like it literally did just came out of a volcano.
The water was chilly but it felt good. It was crystal clear and so refreshing to float in. I wish I could walk right into it right now.
We called our transfer for a pricey ride back to our hotel because we didn’t want an hour long bus ride.
The rest of the crew were all going to do a wine tour/dinner that evening, we were the only two losers that didn’t go. We had already done the wine thing and wanted to have a nice quiet dinner, but I did feel slightly guilty for not going. But they all had a good time, the didn’t miss us, I’m sure.
We tootled through the village, stopping for a couple of adult beverages and people/sight watching.
First up, two espresso martinis with a sea view.
We found a pharmacy and got some more cold meds because my cold is hanging on for dear life. Then we ran into this cute place with an amazing drink menu.
We found a bench and just soaked up the fact that we were in Greece.
Back to dinner, you guys, this meal was incredible.
We started off with grilled octopus with fava bean puree.
Then we both ordered risotto.
Me, pistachio risotto with sea bass. Her, wild mushroom with smoked bacon risotto with truffle oil.
Again, so so good.
For dessert, creme brûlée.
Completely satisfied, we walked back up more f*cking stairs.
And made our way back to our room, where we once again soaked in the jacuzzi until sleep beckoned us.
Tomorrow I hear there is a wedding. Although, it didn’t start of very pleasant for the happy couple. More on that next time.
It’s been a hot minute. Busy with school, life and colds going around, it’s been something.
Finally we are all on the mend, so let’s chat.
The girls had their school’s multicultural fair on campus and it was so nice to be back on site.
Averi and her bestie ran around getting their passports stamped all while chasing the boys.
Kaili and Shayne were doing their own thing, in Shayne’s words, “living her best life”. Which meant hobnobbing with her teacher whom she adores.
It was nice to talk to the teachers we haven’t seen face to face in forever, and get to know the new ones better, even though schools about to end.
I can’t believe the older two are saying farewell to their school. It’s bittersweet.
Here they are in Kindergarten, so cute and innocent.
On another note, one thing that I have been cooking lately is baby bok choy. I have neglected this vegetable. It’s super quick and simple to cook up and is so tasty. I just halve the bok choy, sauté in some sesame oil with garlic. Add soy sauce and chili crisp then cook until tender, around 10-12 minutes.
One night we paired it with a chicken curry and another time with steak. Don’t walk by it the next time you’re at the market.
Now it’s time get back to finalizing a little jaunt that’s in our future. I can’t wait to share all of the sights, food, fun, food, wine and food with y’all.
Simple ingredients come together super quick in this recipe. The flavors of the peppery arugula, the buttery salmon and the acidic dressing, play very well together. Definitely a weeknight dinner to put on repeat.
I used Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar in lieu of Parmesan, just because I wanted to. The addition of mustard to a vinaigrette acts as an emulsifier, and keeps the oil and vinegar together with a creamy consistency. Don’t forget to season your vinaigrette before dressing your greens.
2 Salmon filets, preferably wild
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups baby arugula
1 tablespoons fresh juice from 1 lemon, plus wedges for serving
1 tsp Dijon mustard
crumbled parmesan cheese (or any sharp cheese that you prefer)
1/2 ripe Hass avocado, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 tomato, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pat the salmon filets dry with a paper towel. Season on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add salmon filets skin side-down. Immediately reduce heat to medium, medium low depending on your stove. Cook, pressing gently on back of filets to ensure good contact with skin, until skin is rendered and crisp, about 6 minutes. If skin shows resistance when attempting to lift with a spatula, allow it to continue to cook until it lifts easily.
While the first side of the salmon cooks, whisk lemon juice, remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and the mustard in small bowl until combined. Season with salt and pepper.
Flip salmon and cook on second side for another minute or two, or to your desired doneness. I like my salmon close to medium rare/medium at 125 to 130 degrees.
Plate the arugula and top with avocado and tomatoes, dress with the vinaigrette. Crumble on your chosen cheese, place salmon on bed of salad and serve with lemon wedge.
We have a trip coming up and we are counting down the days. We spent a morning running errands and then had a really good lunch at Puesto, although their prices have skyrocketed and I am not really eager to go back.
However, their mango, passionfruit and shrimp ceviche was phenom. It also had avocado, tamarind and chili crunch. So good.
We picked up some reading material for our travel time, I am so eager to start Book Lovers, so I hid the books in my suitcase. Maybe I will forget about it until I board the plane.
We didn’t even know that FoodieLand was a thing until it came across our Instagram feed. Obviously we had to check it out. It was held at the Del Mar fairgrounds on a beautiful weekend. We got there when it opened, thankfully, because people poured in and in and in. There were over 150 vendors of food and drink, there were sporadicly placed underwhelming bars and two live stages. The entrance dropped us off in the paddock where benches were set up on the grass facing a stage. However, since it was quite warm, everyone had already grabbed the very few surrounding tables in the shade, smart.
We stopped and ordered a beverage and took a lap around scouring our options. I am going to come right out and say it, totally underwhelming. I mean, they had everything you could think of, well except a lobster roll. Wings, noodles, musubi, grilled lobster, dim sum, Ube desserts, oysters, cotton candy, grilled cheese, Indonesian satay, which I really wanted, but not bad enough to wait in a 30 minute line. Anyhow, you catch my drift. Even with all of these options, nothing really jumped out at us. We ended up getting the fried potato twister and some dumplings. They were both good but the potatoes were heavily salted.
Between the terrible band on stage and the beating down sun, we decided to walk back to the paddock. We sat in the 17 hands bar for another drink, and listened to a less awful, Michael Bublé.
Then we headed back out for another lap around the place.
And we landed here.
We chose the Chocolate Chip Martini, the Lemon Drop Martini and the Southern Gentlemen, which was my favorite. But they were all good. Smart little business idea.
As time went on, the crowd grew excessively so we swung by the churro stand and also stopped for some pollo chicharrones, then we headed home.
We had just enough time to recover from our food coma before we headed back out to watch the Galaxy match.
We met my brother and a few of his friends at a brewery to watch the game. The beer was good, the game, not so much.
We spent Mother’s day on Saturday to avoid the chaos that Sunday would have brought. Brunch was in Old Town and in typical fashion, everyone ate too many chips, but the margaritas were delish.
After brunch we took the girls swimming, you know, to tire them out. We finished the night watching A Christmas Story with pizza.
I was spoilt.
This egg cooker is AMAZING. Hard boiled eggs in less than 10 minutes, soft boiled in even less. AND no “watched pot never boils” situation.
It came with a mini griddle. I used it Sunday morning to make pancakes. I was blown away. Easy, perfect little pancakes, no mess and the kids ate them up.
But then, while getting sugar out of the pantry we realized that ants had invaded THE ENTIRE PANTRY. There was no solution aside from taking everything out and spraying, so happy Mother’s day to me, I now had some real fun ahead of me.
So much work….. but it looks so much better.
Once I was done I took the girls to the pool. They were begging to go all day and guess what, they lasted less than an hour. I mean… of course they did.
Does the original scampi recipe call for wine? I want to say no, and that we (cooks) added that later on in life, but I have no idea. I didn’t use wine in this recipe, just butter, garlic and some lemon. This dish comes together quickly and with only a handful of ingredients, most of it being fat, dairy and garlic, you’re welcome.
While I steamed my chopped cauliflower, I let the shrimp hang out in a bowl with olive oil, minced garlic, crushed red paper flakes, a teaspoon of lemon zest, salt and a tad of honey. I also started my browned butter. All I did for that was place the butter and garlic in a small fry pan over medium heat. After a few minutes, the butter starts to foam. Then it will begin to turn brown and begin to smell nutty, just keep an eye on it to not burn the garlic, take it off of the heat when you like what you see.
Once the cauliflower is fork tender, drain and toss into your food processor. Add some salt, to taste, about 1/4 cup of cream or half n half, two tablespoons of melted butter and about 1 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese and puree. Taste and taste and taste again, I find that cauliflower, like potatoes always need more salt than we think. You can let that hang out in the processor until you are ready to serve, so it stays warm.
Meanwhile, heat a large-ish skillet over medium high heat and add a little olive oil. Toss in your shrimp and let cook for about 1 minute and when they start to get a little brown, flip and cook the other side for another 20-30 seconds or until cooked through.
Spread your cauliflower puree on a plate, top with shrimp and drizzle with that heavenly browned garlic butter. I garnished with micro parsley.
Dinner is served in under 30 minutes but now you have to find someone else to do the dishes because quick doesn’t always mean easy.
Our lemon tree is in full produce mode. I’ve always wanted a lemon tree for those moments when you randomly need a lemon but don’t have one. You know, maybe you decided to make a piccata dish or you wanted to make pesto. All you need is one lemon and clearly you don’t want to go to the store for one damn lemon, right? I used to visualize the neighborhood and picture which homes had lemon trees and then I may have helped myself to a lemon or two in a time of need (the tree would be in the front yard, I wasn’t hopping any fences you guys). Now that I have said lemon tree, I never have to buy lemons, but I’ve realized that I don’t use them very often.
The lemon tree was staring back at me probably wondering why I was neglecting it, I felt bad.
There is only so much you can do with an abundance of lemons. Lemonade, lemon bars, lemon cakes, lemon meringue pie, the list goes on. We still had cream cheese frosting in the fridge from Kaili’s birthday cake and I had puff pastry in the freezer, I didn’t see the harm in making lemon curd and then turn those three things into a lemon cream cheese danish.
This is the recipe I used to make the lemon curd.
4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2–3 lemons)
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons butter, softened
If you have a double boiler then pull that out. If not, like me, simply place a small heatproof glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water you will cook the curd in the top pot/bowl. Place on high heat. Once the water begins to boil, reduce to low heat to keep the water at a simmer.
Place egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt into the top pot of your double boiler. Using a whisk, whisk until completely blended, then continue to whisk as the curd cooks. Constant whisking prevents the egg yolks from curdling. Whisk and cook until the mixture becomes thick, resembling the texture of hollandaise sauce, about 10 minutes. If curd isn’t thickening, turn up the heat and constantly whisk.
Remove pan from heat. Cut the butter into 6 separate pieces, then whisk into the curd. The butter will melt from the heat of the curd. Pour curd into a jar or bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top so it is touching the top of the curd. The curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Once cool, the plastic wrap can be removed.
About four months into the midst of Covid we were itching to isolate somewhere warm and with a pool. Obviously hotels weren’t allowing guests and even AirBnB’s were scarce. I found a place in Desert Hot Springs called The Getaway, it was a seven unit apartment complex turned vacation rental. The owner was kind enough to let us stay for a few nights so we could have a change of scenery. Luckily, out of all the units, only a few were occupied because uh, isolation right?
The place was mid-century, had everything we needed, a pool and a hot tub, and it was just what the doctor ordered. However, driving into the town of Desert Hot Springs was not what we imagined.
This is the property.
Nice and quaint with lots of available sun.
This you guys, is what it looks like on the outside of that building.
Desert Hot Springs is like Palm Springs’ seedy cousin. Neglected, poor and you probably shouldn’t leave your cash lying around. But, we had a great time and became fast friends with a lady that was also staying long term there while her man, an essential worker, was working in Santa Monica.
Fast forward two years, we wanted another sun soaked few days but Coachella and Stagecoach had all of the desert hotels bumped up to ridiculous prices. So we decided to try another place in Desert Hot Springs but this time chose an actual hotel that had some security and indoor room entrances. Miracle Springs Resort and Spa’s website said they had the above, but also had seven natural hot mineral pools, an outdoor pool and a restaurant. That checked all of our boxes so off we went.
We drove through a sand storm on the way in. Not smog or haze just sand.
When the map told us we had “arrived at our destination” this is what we pulled up to.
Uh nope, nope, not staying here.
We knew or I should say we really really hoped that this wasn’t the place, so we drove around the lot and into another parking lot and then things looked a bit better. Not great but better.
We checked in around seven in the evening as their restaurant Capri was closing. We asked the receptionist if there was a place to eat nearby that she would recommend. On her advice we drove a few blocks to a Mexican place called Casa Blanca. What do you know, the parking lot was packed, phew! We had a margarita and some really, really good food. Surprised and satisfied, we headed back to the hotel stopping off at a 7/11 for some pool snacks and a Snickers to stick in the freezer (for late night snacking).
We woke up and headed to Capri for breakfast.
We both ordered the eggs Benedict, and it was exactly as you’d expect from this place. Basic, no frills, egg bennies but totally satisfying. Let’s be honest, this place was not Italian, something tells me that their sauces come from jars.
The waiter/bartender Adam, was super attentive (maybe with the help of a substance or two) and very nice. He was our server both days.
This place claims that their hot pools are mineral hot springs, I mean, maybe they are, however….
They looked like condo hot tubs.
The grounds were nice, loads of greenery, beautiful flowers, and palm trees that were play houses for all types of birds. The pool water was perfect for the 90 degree weather. Enjoying some adult beverages in the sun was all we needed.
We spent the day reading in and out of the sun. With snow capped mountains in the distance.
The deco is straight out of the 90’s and it could use a facelift or two. But if you want a no frills place to lay in the sun with really no rules to abide by, then Miracle Springs resort is just fine.
I wanted to write something funny about Easter but I really couldn’t find anything humorous about the holiday. Unless Jesus was actually just passed out for three days, that would be funny and totally believable, because if you could turn water into wine, wouldn’t every Friday be good?
We did egg and bunny paintings to hang in our front window.
We had a delicious dinner of grilled rib eyes, arugula, burrata with pears and walnuts with an Orin Swift red blend, not too terrible.
Fun fact; I birthed an expert potato peeler, it’s amazing because she is so anal about it, it had to be perfect which is great because I am the exact opposite, and I hate peeling shit, I will avoid recipes for that reason. So, I will deduct her one month of pregnancy bed rest for her knew found skill.
However, you can’t be good at everything, know what I’m saying?
When it comes to Tortilla soup, there isn’t a right way or a wrong way to make it. You like what you like and as the master of your own kitchen, you get to decide how you want it. Tomatoeyy, creamyy, brothyy, chunkyy. I personally like a silky broth with bits of chicken and then topped with avocado, tortilla strips and cilantro. So that is what is what we have here.
I took a can of diced tomatoes, 3 garlic cloves diced, one small onion diced, and a diced serrano chili, and heated them in a pan with some olive oil. Once they were glistening like you are bathing in the Mexican sun, I tossed them into a blender, added 2 corn tortillas and 2 cups of chicken broth and pureed until smooth. I poured the blender mixture into my dutch oven over medium high heat. Next, I added 2 tablespoon of taco seasoning, and one more cup of chicken broth. I let that hang out for a few minutes and then threw in about 1 1/2 cup of shredded rotisserie chicken and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. The key is to keep tasting the soup as it cooks. Does it need salt, spice, acid? You are the only one who can answer that.
I added a tablespoon of sour cream and a 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro. Then I tasted it again for seasoning.
If you like what you have, ladle into bowls and garnish with avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, cilantro, a squeeze of lime and jalapeños if you like it spicy!
It’s good, multiple meals worthy of good. For someone who doesn’t love leftovers (raises hand), this one is solid.
We went through a handful of party themes for Kaili’s 11th party. First it was this, then it was that, and finally we landed on a Cheetah theme. Which was exciting for me because for some sick reason I like to attempt new things in the kitchen when the audience is bigger than the our household. I wanted to see if I could make a cake with the cheetah print inside, reach for the stars you guys. So that put me in crunch time to order a cake topper because even though I like to bite off more than I can chew, I don’t want like to choke; so creating cheetah prints on the frosting was out of my comfort zone. I ordered an edible topper and had it rushed delivery so I wouldn’t be panicking the day before the party. I got the UPS updates all day Wednesday telling me that it was out for delivery and would be here by 5:00, sweet. Well, 5:00 came and went and then I got a message saying that it was delivered to our front door, but it wasn’t, so then panicking ensued. I went to the neighbors like a crazy person and with no avail, decided to wait until morning. Maybe the good samaritan that had my kids birthday cake topper would drop it off. Meanwhile I racked my brain of a back up plan and the thought of having to roll out fondant to decorate the cake was too much for my mind to take. So after the kids were at school, I set out on foot to check everyones front porches for the white envelope I know so well from past birthdays. You guys, I found it, it was on our neighbors porch, hidden behind plants. But….I had already rung their doorbell and no one answered. On top of everything it was a camera doorbell and apparently I am a chicken shit, I went home empty handed. Shawna told me to man up, take the envelope and stop stressing. So I went back, grabbed the envelope and cowardly mouthed to the camera that it was mine and waved like an idiot and went home with my heart pounding like I just went through TSA with cocaine in my panties. I mean, I hadn’t even baked anything yet, sigh.
Kaili wanted her party at the Plunge in Mission Beach. The Plunge is a huge indoor pool with an inflatable obstacle course. We had never been before so it was a blind mission. I was able to order all of the food before hand, they were super easy to work with and would definitely do it again. We had a nice area by the pool that had a table, a couple of benches and loungers.
The girls went straight into the water and didn’t want to come out.
I took you through a vital piece of birthday cake background and you’re probably wondering what the hell? Let’s talk cake.
Super underwhelmed about said cake. I’m not sure I even like cake anymore.
The cake was crumbly and I don’t know why because I didn’t over-bake it.
The design sort of turned out, I was not thrilled with the outcome but my cream cheese frosting is always good period.
Three hours went by in a snap, and our time slot was up. We had to drag the kids out of the pool, they were having so much fun. Next time we will reserve for a longer period of time and maybe just Uber to and fro to avoid the parking fiasco. But, it was a good time and I’m sure we will be back, however Averi has already decided on Great Wolf Lodge for her birthday.
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon), plus 4 teaspoons juice
Preheat oven to 350°F Grease or spray three 8 inch cake pans and line with parchment paper, then spray the parchment paper. Can never be too sure.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
Using a mixer of your choice, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract on high speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients just until combined. With the mixer still running on low, add the milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice and mix just until combined. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be a little thick.
Pour batter evenly into cake pans. Bake for around 19-25 minutes or until the cakes are baked through.
Let the cakes cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the frosting and try not to eat it all .
Using the same mixer, beat cream cheese, butter and sugar until smooth, about 5 minutes. Beat in lemon zest and juice.
*Can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 3 days. Stir until smooth before using.
Using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Feed scraps to children who wont stop asking for cake. Evenly cover the top with about 1 cup of frosting. Top with 2nd cake layer and evenly cover the top with about 1 cup of frosting. Top with the third cake layer. Spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Decorate with candied lemons and refrigerate for a good 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
Our USA mens national team qualified for the world cup. This is exciting, I mean, the fact that it was up in the air is depressing, but they did it. Now it’s only forward to Qatar.
We managed to watch a game at our local soccer bar which is always fun!
I also had a nice lunch with Uncle BK at the Michelin recognized Tuetano Taqueira in Old Town. The counter service restaurant has a large patio and the focus is on Birria. If you’re not familiar, Birria is stewed beef shoulder seasoned with cinnamon, cloves and chili’s, aka adobo, and it usually the plays a main role in a taco, or quesadilla. The restaurant is still trying to get it’s footing, but the food was delicious. A local magazine had an article praising the taqueira and highlighted their bone marrow birria taco, and yes, I ordered it.
The taco was full of deep flavor, rich and very messy. The liquid gold that is bone marrow added a layer of decadence to the taco. The tortillas, freshly made rounded the taco out, and were so good. But the scene stealer is their salsa matcha. More of a chili oil than a salsa, but you guys, it’s everything. I would have taken loads home, but the place is a work in progress, and something as simple as getting more napkins, which is very necessary when eating here, was a challenge. So I left the salsa slash chili oil behind, but I will be back.
We had an impromptu turnaround trip to Vegas. 80’s station, a favorite cover band of ours was finally playing after a long two years. So we made our towards Fremont Street for a Friday night of music.
We had the most delicious monkey bread at a restaurant in the container park. I tried to make it at home and it was a huge fail. This wasn’t a Pillsbury recipe you guys, and I don’t know what their secret is, but I will figure it out, probably going to have to go back a few more times to gather notes.
We ended the night listening to the 80’s station. We don’t need much to have the best time.
I don’t know why twisting bacon before cooking it changes the flavor and the texture, but it does and it’s delicious.
If you sprinkle some brown sugar on the bacon before cooking, you’ll never want bacon any other way again.
I actually made a little mixture of brown sugar, nutmeg, garlic powder and cayenne pepper then slightly dredged each piece of bacon in that seasoning before twisting. We may or may not have had this two nights in a row, paired with burrata and arugula.
We had a family day at the Galaxy game. We’ve been spoiled with amazing seats the last few times we’ve gone. I don’t know how we are going to adjust to going back to regular old seating.
Are anyone else’s children hooked on Turning Red? Ours are obsessed with one of the songs, they get home from school and go up to their rooms and belt it out. It’s also shower material. One minute it was all about Bruno and now it’s 4 town and birthday party decor.
I can appreciate a movie about PMS and a girls first period. Especially with a house full of females. Sigh, good times ahead.
The older two girls had a school field trip to the Opera. The school busses took them downtown to the Civic Center to see Romeo and Juliet in Italian. There were english subtitles so the kids could follow along. They were dropped off at school around 4:30 and didn’t get home until 10:00. It was a new experience for them and they had a great time. I can’t believe how old they are getting.
We wrapped up the week with an amazing USMNT game, a 5-1 win! The girls broke in the S’mores maker a couple of times, and we watched parts of the Academy Awards.
The girls helped me fill 48 balloons for the birthday girl.
Possibly inhaling helium here and there.
I went back and forth on a banana cream pie recipe. I love watching Bon Appetit’s From the Test Kitchen Series. One of the chefs Chris does a segment called Reverse Engineering. The premise is… a fellow chef picks a recipe, I’ll use Gordon Ramsey’s Beef Wellington for an example. Chris gets to taste and touch the original dish but he’s blindfolded. Once he has an idea of what it is, he sets off to the store to grab the ingredients to make it. Back at the kitchen he attempts the first run, then he grades himself. He gets another stab at it, tasting the original, goes back to the store, yada yada yada. His third attempt is his final result. The chef that challenged him comes and compares the two dishes. Overall he does very well and it’s fun and I enjoy watching this experiment. Why did I explain all of this to you, well I chose his banana cream pie recipe. I figured his magnificent palate wouldn’t steer me wrong. His recipe had a twist on the original graham cracker crust recipe, he threw some salted peanuts to the mix. I decided to go for it, why not, peanut butter and banana goooooood. That was my first mistake. The peanuts completely over powered any graham cracker flavor. Good, yes, what I wanted, no. My second mistake was that the bananas weren’t ripe enough. I knew this while I was making it, the bananas weren’t banana-ee enough. I stood in the kitchen contemplating adding a little banana pudding mix to the vanilla pudding I had just made from scratch, then decided against it, that was my final mistake. Anyway, the end result was fine, did it taste like banana cream pie, no, did I love it? Also no. So, now we have a pie in the fridge that will most likely meet its demise in the trash later.
What lesson did I learn? Always trust your instincts!
Goes to show, just because I like a cooking show, doesn’t mean I will like the shows results.
I leave you with this absolutely amazing video. I die laughing every time I see it.
I wanted to take a minute to try and blog. I am sitting here trying to write and the only thing going through my mind is “we don’t talk about Bruno”. The girls are watching videos of…. I don’t know what, but that song hasn’t stopped. Today is an important day, it’s Shawna’s birthday. We are waiting to celebrate her, I made her a banana cream pie and she gets to eat it before dinner, as she wishes.
We wet out to dinner the other night to celebrate her and her mom’s March birthdays, the girls love going out and I love taking picture of them.
This video is titled “how to embarrass your 7 year old”.
If you are a fan of Top Chef, or Chef Brooke Williamson or just cupcakes….Brooke partnered with Sprinkles cupcakes and put out a dark chocolate cupcake with passionfruit filling. I was on top of that and brought us home a couple. Delicious!
Things have been busy, Averi started Karate. She seems to really enjoy it.
Each time I make these, whether I use avocado or switch it up and add fresh mango instead, I can’t believe how good they are. So deliciously fresh with the bright flavors of the herbs. I tell myself that I am going to put it on menu rotation. Then I don’t, because life… But that really isn’t a reason, so I will do better.
I found that prepping all the ingredients and assembling the rolls earlier in the day is the way to go. Cover with a damp towel, put them in the fridge and then dinner is literally waiting for you.
Chrissy suggests serving these with a Thai sweet chili sauce and a hoisin sauce. BUT, the key to these rolls is Mrs. Teigen’s peanut sauce. You see, this peanut sauce is one of the best I have ever had, and it’s super easy to make. You shouldn’t have these rolls without the peanut sauce, but you can have the peanut sauce without the rolls, you can have the sauce with anything. I find fingers pair well, cold noodles pair well and spoons definitely pair well.
Ingredientsfor Summer Rolls 4 to 6 red leaf lettuce leaves 8 medium shrimp, peeled (fresh or frozen (thawed)) salt 1 ounce Asian vermicelli or rice noodles 8 large or 16 small basil leaves 8 large or 16 small mint leaves 1 medium carrot, cut into 3-inch long julienne strips 1 avocado thinly sliced 8 (8-inch) round rice paper wrappers (you can find in most supermarkets with the Asian food)
Ingredients for Peanut Sauce
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 packed light brown sugar
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon of Sriracha
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
If you are going to have the peanut sauce with the summer rolls, then start there. Add all of the sauce ingredients into your handy dandy blender or I like to use the magic bullet blender. After blending and tasting for seasoning, put it in the fridge until serving time. When that time comes, use warm water to thin the sauce to your liking.
For the Rolls:
Rinse the lettuce leaves and pat dry. Remove and discard the center ribs then slice in half so you end up with 16, about 3 inch long pieces.
Fill a saucepan halfway with water and salt the water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 2 minutes. Turn the heat to low, take the shrimp out of the pot with tongs or a slotted spoon and rinse with cold water, pat dry. Cut off the tails and slice lengthwise.
Place the rice noodles in the pot of still hot water to soften. Cook until soft. Remove and rinse in a colander under cold water.
Create a workspace lined up with lettuce, herbs, carrots, avocado, shrimp and rice noodles. Fill a clean skillet or shallow bowl with warm water to soak the rice papers. Arrange a damp towel on your workspace. One at a time, dunk the rice papers into the warm water to soften. Remove from the water and run under cool water. They easily stick together, so the cool water is a good time to unstick them from themselves. Lay flat on the damp towel.
To assemble: place 2-3 shrimp halves pink side down about 1/3 from the bottom, layer over mint and basil, then avocado, then carrots, rice noodles, then lettuce leaves. Roll up like a burrito by pulling up the bottom, tucking in the sides, then rolling till the end. The rice paper will stick together sealing it shut. Repeat with remaining rice papers.
If you aren’t serving these immediately, place them on a damp towel, and cover with a damp towel. They are fine hanging out in the fridge until you are ready. Serve with peanut sauce and Thai chili sauce.
I made a Thai Branzino recipe the other night and the results were so worth dicing 15 cloves of garlic.
The girls and I ran into our 99 Ranch Market for the fish, shrimp chips, pocky and green tea cookies… oh and a papaya that no one will touch but me. They don’t know what they’re missing.
I also found these rice crackers. I don’t know what they are called but from the picture we can guess.
I bought a variety pack for the girls, Shayne was the only taker and she loved them so we bought more. This flavor (let’s call it chili) is really good. Not too spicy, sort of sweet….like a sweet and soy flavor with a tad of spice. Long story short, I need to buy more, I may have eaten them while the girls slept.
I also jumped on Dave Matthews Band tickets that went on sale Sunday, no hesitation. That is exciting, so very exciting. Kaili said that she wanted to go with us. I told her, the day she actually wants to listen to DMB, I’ll gladly take her to a concert. Then she followed up by asking me to take her to see BTS. The time is coming that we will be taking our tweens to a concert, what happened to these babies?
Speaking of music, I heard this song for the first time since, well before I had those babies, I am sure. I love Jason Mraz, I used to listen to this album every day.
Gouda and I watched the USWNT team win the She Believes Cup, and then the Galaxy won their season home opener.
Exciting soccer season ahead of us, I can’t believe it’s World Cup year. We are definitely wanting to watch a match in Vegas from the new downtown sports casino, who’s in?
Welp it happened, I woke up a year older. That night I had a dream, we had a new dryer delivered and I wasn’t sure if it was working because it was so quiet. That’s how you know you are middle aged, sigh.
The Friday before my birthday we had a fun night out with my brother and soon to be sister-in-law. We had dinner at Tahona Bar in Old Town. A Mexican place that I had been wanting to try. A Mezcal bar with a Oaxacan inspired menu.
I don’t much like Mezcal but I do like mole, so that is where we ended up.
If I remember correctly, I think the drink was called the Mexican Firing Squad, and that just spoke to me. Anyhow, it was smoky. Smoke on top of smoke and then some more smoke. So, if you like smoke, you will love this cocktail.
The food wasn’t bad, it wasn’t amazing either.
Coming from STAKE the night before, our expectations were high.
We started with some delicious guac.
Next, some grilled octopus over lentils and pipian mole, aka pepita mole. I don’t think we liked it much.
I ordered the mole trio.
Three potato rolled tacos in a trio of mole’s. Pipian, Negro and Coloradito. It was good, the reason I wanted to try the place. The sopes were good and everyone else ordered tacos.
The biggest problem was the service. Anyhow, been there and we don’t need to go back.
After dinner we walked across the street to the Saloon. We hustled for a pool table and then the nice girl just said we could have it next.
We played pool for the duration of the night. Met interesting people as always. The juke box was playing all the 90’s hip hop, surely a doing of the halftime show because these kids, barley 20 years old, had nothing but dope things to say about the music (side eye).
My girls spoiled me on my actual birthday.
We spent my twos-day and national margarita day at our local Mexican place. Good thing I am getting old because getting there at the early bird time saved us a looong wait.
We have never seen this restaurant as crowded as it was that night.
After dinner we went home, put on comfies and had cake and pressies.
Lemon cake with lemon cream cheese frosting for my cake.
And everything else I could want from, for those that I love the most.
We celebrated both mine and my brothers birthday with the family adults last week. STAKE on Coronado is a chophouse that features aged American and Japanese Wagyu along with other prime cuts. That is kind of redundant because I think wagyu means simply, Japanese cow. But don’t hold me to that.
If I am being transparent, the price range is up there. I was worried that it would be hard to enjoy knowing how much everything cost. That was until I had my first bite of Japanese Wagyu, and then it all made sense.
We managed to get to the restaurant early and have a drink at the bar. I was getting cabin fever so It felt so good to get out.
The family trickled in and we were seated. Ordering a bunch of stuff to share, ahi poke, crab cakes, wedge salad, potatoes, duck and the Wagyu.
We each chose our preferred knife. I went with one made in Japan.
We chowed down while sipping local Syrah.
And then, we were introduced to the best bite of steak in the world.
That piece on the right my friends, was the most incredible bite of steak I have ever had. It was like butter. Rich, umami and intense steak flavor, with melt in your mouth marbling. I am now forever ruined because I know that the rib eye in the fridge will never compare to that bite of meat.
With barely any room for dessert, we persevered with some carrot cake and a lemon tort.
Then we toasted to another year around the sun.
Definitely a dinner to remember.
Speaking of things to remember. This book was so good.
I am not a huge Stephen King fan. I think I’ve liked one or two of his books, same with his movies.
This one however, is so good. We started by listening to the audiobook, but I couldn’t wait for the next road trip to finish it. So I picked it up at the library and finished reading it. I fell in love. I hope that they do it justice if they turn it into a series or a movie. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a new book.
A while back, Averi was wanting me to take a picture of her asleep each night. Why? The brain of a then 6 year old is a puzzle. So, of course I did, when I remembered that is, and now I am ready to get the pics off of my phone.
Alas, we have a photo dump of Averi sleeping. Not exciting, but she will get a kick out of seeing this.
When I was looking for these, I found this one. Not asleep but newly awake. Gawsh look at that amazing hair and blue eyes.
I don’t even have the girls today and that song has been stuck on repeat in my head all.damn.day. Have you seen Encanto yet? It’s cute, I enjoyed it and I enjoy it when it’s on. The girls like to watch all the You Tube families recreate that song, which I have to admit, always grabs my attention.
This one is my favorite.
But seriously, where do these people get the time to create these elaborate videos? I was asking Kaili, what do you think all of their neighbors think when they see them all singing and dancing in the middle of the street? Lol.
Sorry if you’re singing it all night.
How was everyone’s Valentines day?
We had a nice day. The girls made their class small valentine bags. Kaili gave them each a mini Kawaii Mochi squishy and candy. Averi gave them each a zipper fidget bracelet and candy.
I forced them to take kissy pictures.
I can NOT believe how big they are getting.
I will forever recreate these pictures, even if I have to fly across the world to surprise them in college just for a kissy face picture.
Babe got me some Adidas soccer slip on sandals, and lava filled dark chocolate Hershey Kisses that are so good. For dinner, we got fancy and ate King crab legs and mushroom risotto on a towel in front of the television while watching Big Brother and Love is Blind 2.
Guilty pleasures all around.
Let me know if you want this mushroom risotto recipe, I took the easy way out and baked it.
It’s a big month you guys, BIG, HUGE! I have a birthday coming up and it happens to fall on an epic day this year. February 22, 2022 is on a Tuesday. A 2’s days. This will be known as Kim’s Two’s day.
I am not a huge birthday girl, I mean, it’s a fun excuse to go out and celebrate and we all love gifts, but it also comes along with getting older, sigh. This year though, I’m a little excited. My Two’s day is also national margarita day AND taco Tuesday. I mean, that’s fun right?
So, I made myself an early birthday treat.
Kaili and I polished them off in no time. Somedays it was dinner because that is allowed when it’s your birthday month.
Originally, these were called Creme de Menthe brownies, maybe they still are. The first time I remember falling in love with them was at a restaurant in the Stoneridge mall back in the 1980’s. I wish I could remember the name of the place. Anyhow, it was a restaurant that had the dessert options on a cart, and the waiter would wheel it up to your table so you could visualize what to drool over. Didn’t Bobbie McGee’s do that too? Someone from high school/Bay area, let me know please! Anyways, that was such a smart way to make sure the kids got dessert, parent’s had no chance.
Well, these were what I always ordered at whatever restaurant that was and they are delicious. I don’t know where we can buy Creme de Menthe or if it even exists anymore, but peppermint extract is a fine substitute.
I used this recipe and this recipe as a baseline for measurements. But I only use Ghirardelli 60% dark chocolate chips, for this and anything that calls for chocolate chips.
To make up for all the chocolate that I shoveled into my mouth…
I completed my 200th ride!! Fittingly with a 90’s pop playlist and my favorite instructor!
AND can we talk about the weather? I mean, it’s been fantastic. Nothing better than a winter tan.
We even broke out the slip n’ slide.
I think that wraps it up, I am off to make my babe a delicious dinner.
Can’t wait to share all of the fun Valentine/birthdays/margarita/ taco Tuesday fun that’s coming our way!
Burrata Di Stagione, is a fancy or Italian (if we are being exact) way to say “what’s in season”. In my last post I mentioned the amazing starter that we had in Santa Monica, but I think I forgot to mention that it centered around burrata. Burrata with arugula, fuji apple, roasted butternut squash, and toasted hazelnut all drizzled with an agrodolce sauce. Another fancy or Italian way to say “sweet and sour”.
I have made this multiple times, it’s ridiculous how good it is. I wish I was having it for dinner tonight, it’s a thing.
Thanks to the convenience of laziness these days, we can buy already cubed butternut squash. That shaves a good half hour off of the prep and I most likely wouldn’t have made this if I had to do it myself. It’s the little things.
I roasted some butternut squash and fuji apple in the oven until caramelized, meanwhile toasted the hazelnuts in a pan.
Then we tossed some arugula with olive oil and S&P. Tore the burrata and placed it on the bed of arugula. Scattered the roasted squash, apple and toasted hazelnuts on top.
Close to serving time, we made the agrodolce, which is so simple. Simmer some vinegar (sour) with some honey (sweet) and some red pepper flakes for heat and let it reduce until syrupy. I would have added raisins but I didn’t have any. Next time, I will.
Drizzle the agrodolce and your best olive oil on top of the entire plate and serve with bread. Or your fingers, or both.
Our fun weekend away sans kids was spent with some horses. We took advantage of the Farriers package at the Santa Anita racetrack.
The package included parking, admission, box seats, a drink, an entree and a pint glass. There is something about Santa Anita that we prefer above Del Mar, aside from the fact that it’s not as pretentious and always less crowded. Only problem is that it’s also much farther. We left home early enough to get there before the first post at 12: 30, and we stayed through the last race.
The downside to a track being empty is that a win doesn’t pay much. But we don’t go for the payout, that’s a plus, we go for the experience. It’s always such a fun day.
Cute boutique hotel across from the pier and around the corner from our dinner reservations. An Italian place where we had an incredible, and I don’t say that lightly, appetizer. Arugula dressed with olive oil, scattered with roasted butternut squash, fuji apple, toasted hazelnuts, herbed breadcrumbs and Calabrian agrodolce. The combination of these ingredients was absolutely incredible.
After dinner we hit a dive bar to watch karaoke. It was such a fun time.
The next morning we headed to the pier for some rides.
View from the top of the ferris wheel.
After a bite to eat in Redondo beach, we were back on the road and headed home.
Horse therapy, it was just what we needed.
I’ve since made that burrata dish three times.. Yes, three times….. in two weeks.
This week started off with the most Monday-ist Monday I’ve had in awhile. Is that because of the Mercury in Retrograde shit people make up believe affect their personal lives?
I decided to task switch and take a break from writing my course paper. My professor chewed up my rough draft, spit it out then told me that, and I quote, “You have two bad habits as a research writer, you use questions in areas where you should be focusing on articulating discussion and you speak about yourself in the first person.” Do I sir? Do I ask too many questions in the first person, sir? I mean, the nerve of this guy.
So I decided a work out would be a good way to reset the day, and the instructor, said “today you are not going to fall apart on the bike.” Maybe he was referencing Mr. Big, but I felt that in my soul.
I have some good recipes to share with you, but I don’t have the time to write them both, so one will have to do for now.
Oh, we also took the girls roller skating, which the adults had more fun doing. But Aves wowed us all by joining in on the game Limbo, and won the damn thing. I mean it’s because she is small, but still, a win is a win.
This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Water’s Fine Foods. The author and chef, Mary Kay Waters is owner of our local Waters catering. I have talked about how good their food is, mac and cheese, roasted veg, her chocolate mousse and lemon bars are close to perfection as you can get. This time I made something different.
It’s not a traditional risotto, the pasta is cooked first and then combined with the other ingredients. Let’s talk about the combination of flavors, though, exceptional! We paired this with steak one night and then had it on it’s own another night. This is sure to be a hit and I will be serving this at the next family dinner.
1/2 pound acini de pepe pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 pound mushrooms, chopped
1/4 head cabbage, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1/3 cup white wine
2/3 chicken stock
1 cup fresh white corn kernels
3/4 cup cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs ( I used sage and parsley) reserve some for garnish
3/4 cup grated parmesan, reserve some for garnish
salt and pepper to taste
Cook the pasta according to the package aka al dente. Drain and set aside.
In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and cook the onion and garlic, stirring occasionally until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cabbage and cook for 3 to 5 minutes longer, until soft.
Add the wine and let it simmer for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil and continue to cook for 2 to 3 more minutes.
Add the cream and corn, bring to a boil, cook for 2 more minutes, remove from heat.
Stir in cooked pasta, herbs, parmesan and salt and pepper.
I would say happy new year, but I don’t think that is allowed after the 7th.
To say time is flying is an understatement, don’t ya think? I mean, it’s still January so I am feeling good that I am getting something written here. I am not quite sure where the first part of the month went. We went out to dinner one night for my father’s birthday, besides that, it’s been very uneventful. Work, school, laundry and repeat.
New Years eve was low key. We made cupcakes, a charcuterie board and chips and dip taken to another level. I took Ruffle potato chips and drizzled them with honey and sprinkled on a Japanese seasoning made with nori and sesame seeds and served them with onion dip. It’s ridiculously good.
The girls celebrated the New Year with New York, and then went up to bed. They didn’t realize it until the next morning, ha, suckers.
The kitchen has been put to use, I have been trying out new things and old favorites.
I was really excited to roll out fresh pasta. I felt all sophisticated and proud of myself. Buuuuut, they tasted like flour and nobody liked them, so fail. Now I need a fool proof fresh pasta dough recipe.
I redeemed myself by making fresh pizza dough. I made two different recipes, one with cold water and one with warm water, and ended up with enough dough for a neighborhood potluck. We made two pizzas for the kids, and one for the moms, everyone was happy.
This pizza recipe, is foolproof. It’s SO GOOD. This time, instead of using marinara sauce, I just crushed some canned San Marzano toms with my hands, Kaili added in some garlic salt, oregano and olive oil and that was the sauce for all three pizzas. The girls approved.
We had a big HALF to celebrate on the 10th. Averi turned 7 1/2. In our house, we celebrate half birthdays. It’s nothing extravagant, but we think it deserves recognition. Turning a half year older is a big deal to kids and we think it calls for a little something special. On their day, they each get to choose whatever they want for dinner, and we’ll usually have a treat.
McDonald’s and chocolate cake for this 7 1/2 year old.
When I was younger, my parents would make Dutch Babies every so often for breakfast. Or they would order it out and share it. I have my moms recipe and have for decades. Finally, I made it, and you guys, I have been wasting time on pancakes because this was so good, and easy.
I made this in a cast iron which I heated in the oven until it was hot. Then I added the butter and then the batter. My oven cooks hot and fast, I took it out after 15 minutes and I think it could have even been done closer to 12 minutes. So bake accordingly.
I sprinkled a little powdered sugar on top, and then we drizzled it with syrup and dove in.
We are going to take advantage of a day off and do something fun this weekend. It’s supposed to be sunny and warm and I have the best idea. Tell you later.
In another life we are best friends with Chrissy Teigen (and fam) and Stu Holden (and fam) and it’s amazing. Days full of laughter, kids, cooking and soccer, that is, as the kids say “my jam”.
But since this isn’t another life, I settle with making Chrissy’s recipes and live vicariously through their IG stories, sigh.
I recently tried two recipes from her newest cookbook and per usual, they are delicious.
Thai Beef Jerky and Pink Pasta. The Unicorn milkshakes in her book were requested so that might have to happen soon.
However, the Thai beef jerky was finger lickin. Sticky, sweet and a tad spicy, we ate it with a salad and called it dinner.
*note that her recipe calls for MSG and you can get that at any Asian market or even Vons probably, but I didn’t have any, so I didn’t use it. Still good.
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more)
3/4 teaspoon MSG
2 lbs. boneless skirt steak
vegetable oil for frying
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and MSG.
Cut the skirt steak, against the grain into 1-inch wide strips.
Toss the steak and marinade and let sit at room temp for 30 minutes. * I marinated the meat for a few hours in the fridge and then pulled it out and left at room temp for 30 minutes before cooking.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Arrange a rack on a rimmed baking sheet and spray with nonstick spray. Lay the beef in a single layer. Discard any leftover marinade.
Bake until the meat has shrunk some, about 1-1/2 hours.
Line a large cutting board with paper towels. Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a large 4 quart pot. Heat the oil until it reached 350 degrees. Working in batches, fry the meat, stirring it as it cooks, until it darkens and crisps, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Drain on the paper towel lined cutting board, and let cook at least 10 minutes before eating.
This week, the week between Christmas and New Years has been like a dead zone. Schools are closed, it’s wet and cold outside, the kids are bored, even with all of their new shit. It’s hard to get motivated to do all the stuff that needs to be done, aka put all their new shit away. It’s just an awkward week, on top of that Kaili caught a cold, so we are limited on things to do, and for some reason they want three meals a day. I’m to the point that I actually don’t care what they eat anymore, as long I don’t have to stand in the kitchen all day. Chocolate? Sure. Chips? I don’t care, Ramen? Go right ahead. Seriously, no nutrition has happened this week. The closest we will get to healthy is the fruit on tonights charcuterie board and strawberries with whip for dessert. The house is a disaster zone and we have so much crap that doesn’t have a home, Baby Yoda lives on the kitchen table, the new electric bike is kicking it in the dining room, the top of the fridge has collected an absurd amount of candy and there are mini brands scattered throughout the house. I am sure we will be finding tiny soy sauce bottles and heath bars for years to come.
But it’s the last day of the year, so I am trying not to stress about it. We are going to bake cupcakes, try learning a BTS dance and then see how long the kids can last. My bet is no later than 9:30, what do you think?
The week before Christmas break the girls had school spirit week.
They had pajama day.
And holiday fashion day.
And dress to impress, which Averi was all about.
One afternoon we decorated gingerbread men.
We had an early Christmas with the family and then spent an afternoon in Coronado.
We ran off for a few days over Christmas and celebrated with the girls a couple of days later. They were tortured by having to wait.
Finally, they were able to open the ridiculous amount of presents that they had.
I need to have a talk with Santa about the Mini Brand Mart he brought all three girls. I think he needs to come back and put these together himself.
Save yourselves. Do not purchase unless you want to spend hours of your life putting together a million little pieces, that are flimsy… AND then watch the kids pull their hair out trying to the items to stay on the shelves.
Anxiety in a box. These should come with wine and a Xanax.
Last year my brother gifted us a night’s stay at Ponte’s Inn and Vineyard in Temecula for our birthday’s.
We finally had a free weekend to enjoy it. Once we checked in and dropped our stuff, we headed out for wine, starting at Altisima. They are a newer winery, making old world and new world wines with Spanish roots. The grounds are beautiful as is the tasting room. Luckily we had a knowledgable pourer who had a fun personality, that can make all the difference (well that can make a difference in the experience, not in the wine). Luckily the wine was superb, everything we tasted we enjoyed, and that rarely happens.
We moved on to a couple more wineries that we haven’t been to, and honestly, didn’t really like. We ended at Bottaia. Bottaia is Ponte’s sister winery, the same winemaker but elevated, I guess. I was eager to try it because I do like Ponte’s wines. When you walk in you are greeted and then asked to pay depending on what type of “experience” you want. Uh, ya, we want the one where we try your wine please. Their description reads “chic”, I say boujie… They say “elegant”, I say expensive. The experiences that they were offering were….we could either sit out on the deck and choose from a flight of wines or we could sit in the cold barrel room, and choose from a flight of more expensive wines. We chose the deck, ordered some hummus and wine.
Nope, not for us. It felt as if the focus of the winery was on the atmosphere, opposed to the wine. We didn’t like any of them and you guys, it’s not cheap. I wouldn’t go back on purpose.
However, the view of the vineyard when the sun started to set, was gorgeous.