Back to School

Annnnnnd coming in a few weeks late……..the first day of school pictures.

Ah, the first day of school, actual real, inside a classroom with a teacher, school. No more yelling at Averi to stop drawing on her legs, no more repeating “pay attention to your Zoom” every 10 minutes. No more dueling, screeching recorders on Thursday mornings and no more having to hear about how everyone is starving every.second.of.the.day!

Finally, F*CK! They are back in school for the entire day….now please knock on wood for me and get vaccinated.

They were just as excited as we were. And apparently Averi was all about the pictures that morning.

I hope everyone has a happy and healthy start to the new school year.

Black Rice Risotto with Garlic and Parmesan

I was sitting here, trying to write a lesson plan when my mind kept reliving an incredible dish we had months ago, making it very difficult to focus on learning standards. So, instead I switched gears and decided to try and dissect what we ate from memory and remake it, hoping for the same outcome.

Risotto is not in my wheelhouse. I make it often enough but I use only one recipe, the one that allows me to leave the stove because let’s be real, no one has time to stand, stir and repeat. I took this recipe but used black rice with the addition of some cream, fresh parmesan and garlic at the end.

I’m not going to lie, it was pretty good. Rich and garlicky, probably best alongside a light main dish or a salad.

*recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa Easy Risotto

Ingredients

5 cups simmering chicken stock, divided.

1½ cups black rice

1/4 cup white wine

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cups heavy cream

Minced fresh garlic, as much as you want.

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the black rice and 4 cups of the chicken stock in a Dutch oven, or a heavy bottomed stock pan. Cover and bake for 45 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente aka still a bit chewy.

Remove from the oven, add the remaining cup of chicken stock, the parm, wine, cream and your garlic and stir vigorously for 3 minutes. Taste for salt, add pepper for kicks.

Top with more parm and garlic (if you want to).

Beach House

Way back when I when I was in high school, my brother was in elementary and we lived in Nor Cal, my family spent a week at a beach house in south OC. We loved it. Then we moved there and we still loved it, but nothing is the same as living on the actual beach. The waves crash and you can feel the spray on your legs while you’re sitting on the porch.

My brother decided to recreate that beach house moment from our childhood and rented a house on the same beach, but this house was much fancier.

We couldn’t stay too long because the kids where in camp and school was starting, but it was a great way to end the summer. We played, bathed, swam, sunned, met a curious sea lion and in the end, no one wanted to leave.

The morning that we left the girls went down to the COLD water in their pjs, same thing I would do if I lived on the beach.

Tempura Green Beans with Pepper Jelly Cream Cheese

It’s been awhile since we have eaten something that induces inappropriate public food moaning. You know the food that you keep thinking about days after the fact? It took approximately three of those days until I decided to make it myself. The genius behind paring tempura green beans with pepper jelly cream cheese has gone and stolen our hearts.

Ingredients for Pepper Jelly Cream Cheese

4-6 oz. cream cheese

2-4 Tbs. your favorite pepper Jelly

Ingredients for Tempura Batter

2 cups rice flour

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups cold Pabst Blue Ribbon beer

2 cups cold soda water

Ingredients for Greans Beans

10 oz cleaned green beans

4 quarts vegetable oil or enough to submerge the beans

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine the cream cheese and the jelly and set aside.

Combine the flours, then the liquids, and whisk until smooth.

Toss the green beans in the tempura batter, then working in batches fry the green beans in a 350-degree large pot of veg oil for approximately three minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with the pepper jelly cream cheese on the side.

Prepare to be wowed!

Bad Blogger

I have been a terrible blogger and I can’t even blame it on the kids. I rarely take my phone out to snap pictures of much anymore, not for amazing food (which I have had and will try to recreate) or even, gasp, winery dogs. I do take a lot of pictures of the girls because they are so very photogenic and pretty darn cute.

I picked the girls up early from camp one day and took them to my brothers on Coronado. They have a food truck “experience” I guess we can call it, every month or so. We went swimming for a bit and then we walked a dreadfully long ways, according to the girls, next door past the Marriott, sigh.

We ate delicious pizza, a crazy good poké, enjoyed music and wine then finished it with ice cream.

I made a really good recipe from once again, drumroll please, Bon Appetít. I didn’t follow this recipe exactly but it sure was good.

We have also become quite fond of a little Taiwanese tea spot down the road. They have everything from fruit slushies, to smoothies to different milk teas and on and on. They also have waffles that you can top with all things sugar and we knew the girls would dig it. We made it an after camp stop one day and those waffles were delicious, however my Thai iced tea, is by far the best…according to me.

The highlight of the past few weeks was a belated father’s day gift from my brother. He got a box suite at the LA Galaxy stadium for my dad and we all reaped the benefits, it was so great. Great food, great company and we even brushed by Colby Jones, it was like 1996 all over again.

The Galaxy lost, but that’s besides the point right?

August

Does it seem like time is flying by? Somehow it’s the middle of August and back to school shopping has commenced. I really hope we make it and there isn’t a state wide “oh shit” and we all end up in lockdown again…sigh.

Still plenty of pool days.

A few weeks back we had a blast at Boots in the Park. It was an all day country concert at Waterfront park with five artists/bands. Our seats were amazing, the view was amazing and the reason we went, Old Dominion, were AHmazing! So much fun.

The fountains were on until the sun went down, it provided a cool down when needed.

Ryan Griffin
Dustin Lynch
Scotty McCreery

I made a couple of my favorite recipes to make for guests. One being Chrissy Teigen’s meatloaf from her cookbook Cravings. I am not a meatloaf fan, I mean….meat in a loaf, no thanks. I remember my mom making it when I was young and she put mashed potatoes on top, well I think that’s a memory. Anyhow, I had to douse mine in BBQ sauce to eat it. But this recipe has half ground beef and half spicy Italian sausage along with mushroom and onions. It’s really good, as good as meatloaf can get.

I also made this gazpacho, which is my most favorite of all time recipe for the cold Spanish soup. However, I did tweak a couple of the things from the original recipe to make it my own. It will not disappoint, I promise.

Here is what you need to do.

Grab 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled and wrap them in foil

3 large tomatoes (1 1/2 pounds)

1 medium cucumber ( I use

1 green anaheim pepper

1 red bell pepper

1 medium sweet onion, unpeeled

Throw all of the above ingredients and grill or roast until the skin in charred and they begin to soften. F&W says “about 8 minutes for the tomatoes, cucumber and bell peppers, 10 minutes for the garlic and 15 minutes for the onion.” However I think it takes longer, so allow 30 minutes for this.

Once they are cool enough to handle without you swearing as you burn your fingers, peel and discard any seeds or stems from the veg and then run a knife through them. Then toss them all in your food processor or blender.

Then grab.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1/4 cup chopped Italian Parsley and Basil, plus more for garnish

1 cup cold water

croutons

Salt and freshly ground pepper

While blending add the olive oil, then the vinegar (use sherry vinegar if you can). Taste for salt, i think it always needs more. Add the herbs and taste again. Pour into a big bowl, stir in the cold water and stick it in the fridge until cold and ready to serve.

Serve in individual bowls and drizzle with your best olive oil and garnish with herbs and croutons.

Then watch your guests happily slurp it up. It’s delicious

Please make this and tell me how much you LOVED It!

SummerTime

Are you all enjoying summer as much as me? I mean, all the soccer, warm weather, some fun little trips, dinners with friends and finally once again, the horse races. We have had some good wine, warm pool days, lazy river days, and even dark speakeasy drinks. It feels good to get back out and do things again.

We met my brother in Vegas awhile back for a few days. We found a really good deal at the Mandalay Bay and spent one day downtown and one day at the lazy river. There is a speakeasy in the basement of the Mob Museum. We found the password that we needed when we approached the side door. The little window opened and the bouncer asked “who told you that?” And Shawna replies “We ain’t snitchin’!” He says, “good, we don’t want any snitches in here.”

Once inside the cool air we settled down with a really good adult beverage.

Next up was the The Golden Tiki. We hit our reservation on the spot and luckily got three seats at the bar. Bar = video poker. Which I didn’t do too terrible at. This place is tucked into a strip mall in China Town and it’s SO unassuming. When you enter the small dark bar you leave the heat and cigarette smoke behind and enter into a rated R Disney meets a Margaritaville set in Tahiti. The menu is full of rum drinks, the bathroom wallpaper is naked women and the stall handles are phallic shaped. I mean even the fake parrot has a foul mouth, Jimmy Buffet would be proud.

Mai Tais on fire. If you are looking for something different to do in Vegas, I would swing by for a rum drink.

After a quick bite to eat, we hit Fremont for some music and Roulette. The next day we spent the day floating down the lazy river at Mandalay. It was a fun two-day getaway.

We have had fun and sun pool days.

And all of us girls were able to have playdates with friends that we haven’t seen in ages.

Shawna and I took a drive out to the desert, via the scenic route.

Is this a herd? A gang? I mean, Bison right? They were just following each other…. as a gang would…in Eastern San Diego, picture worthy but not mug shot worthy… luckily.

We hoped to wine taste on our way out there but it was a Wednesday and we weren’t in luck…Until we were.

In the mountains we came across Shadow Mountain Vineyards. Inside the tasting room we were greeted by Pamela, she stood behind an old wooden bar and asked us what we liked. This was the best wine tasting experience I have had in a long time. It turned out that Pamela and her husband were the winemakers and we got to chatting about good wine and pairings. Turns out that they used to own the first wine bar in Dana Point, small world.

Pam let us taste everything and I liked a lot of it, especially the rosé. We did not leave empty handed. The best part, it was still San Diego County. #drinklocal

We also learned that the cactus flower only blooms once a day and then it dies. Well, I think that is what Pam said but we did just finish a few tastings. Ha, you can google it and let me know if I am right.

Anyhow, here is the beautiful, once a day flower that Pam picked early that morning.

And it’s source.

AND FINALLY, where the turf meets the surf. I love the horse races and (knock on wood) I had a pretty good day.

Fun times, with more to come.

Watermelon Feta Salad

Watermelon feta…high, watermelon feta high. Did Harry Styles just get stuck in your head? You’re welcome.

This salad, you guys, is the epitome of a summer dish. Currently it is 79 and sunny in San Diego and this is all you need for lunch and or dinner, well a body of water and a glass of rosé wouldn’t hurt. It’s a perfect combination of flavors and the fact that you don’t have to turn on the oven, even better.

Just make it and then tell me how right I am.

Just look at all that deliciousness. You can assemble this salad however you like. Its good all chopped up in a bowl, but I was going more for presentation this time.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine

INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon Tabasco

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

One small seedless watermelon, scooped into balls or cut into 1 inch chunks1 cup Feta, cut into 1 inch chunks or crumbled

1/2 red onion diced

1 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves

salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, tabasco and half of your diced onion, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the watermelon and feta into a bowl or arranged on a plate, sprinkled with more red onion, drizzle in the dressing and sprinkle with chopped mint.

Even the girls jumped on the watermelon + feta bandwagon, it’s just too good.

Creamy Eggplant Dip

Sometimes I just need some Middle Eastern slash Mediterranean food. Whether it’s a Gyro, hummus, Tzatziki, falafel or shawarma, or even fruit with cheese and olive oil, the need just hits hard sometimes. My mind went to making Baba ghanoush but I thought if I made it creamy, I could talk the girls into eating it. After a lot of recipe hunting I decided on a creamy eggplant dip using the essential Mediterranean ingredients. Roasted eggplant and garlic blended with Greek yogurt, Feta and some other goodies.

*Recipe adapted from here

INGREDIENTS

3 medium sized eggplants

olive oil

5 cloves of garlic

2 lemons juiced

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

2 Tbs tahini

1/3 cup feta cheese (I used sheep’s milk feta)

1/3 cup  milk

1 tsp paprika 

1/2 tsp cayenne (use 1/4 tsp if you don’t like spicy)

1/4 tsp red chili flakes 

2 tsp Kosher salt or more to taste

1 tsp Black pepper 

Sumac for garnish

Fresh parsley for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut eggplant long ways down the middle. Brush with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. I stuck the garlic cloves into the eggplant to roast. You can add the garlic raw, totally up to you.

Bake for 30 minutes and leave out to cool for another 30 min.

Once cool enough to handle, scoop out the roasted eggplant into a strainer to drain the excess liquid.

Add the eggplant into a blender with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, yogurt, tahini, feta, milk and spices. Blend on high until smooth. Add more of whatever seasonings to taste.

Drizzle with your best olive oil, sprinkle some sumac and fresh Italian parsley to garnish. Service with fresh pita, roasted chicken and veggies.

You don’t even have to tell the kids that this is an eggplant dip, they will be none the wiser!

Mushroom Stroganoff

What do you call a mushroom in a fable?

The morel of the story. Ha ha ha…ha.

I didn’t know mushroom stroganoff was a thing. I thought I invented it in my head one morning but when I started Googling, it saddened me to find that once again, I was not the only one with that idea.

Back when we were store hopping for the Indian Chaat ingredients, we picked up a bag of egg Cavatappi at the International market. It worked perfectly for this dish.

Meanwhile as I was making dinner, one of the girls came in and asked to have a snack.

And then when the youngest beast is fed…..

Apparently she’s been raised in said prison….sigh.

Back to dinner. Creamy mushrooms over pasta, how good does that sound?

INGREDIENTS

*Recipe adapted from https://damndelicious.net/2019/02/06/creamy-mushroom-stroganoff/

8 ounces egg noodles of your choice

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 pounds cremini mushrooms, sliced

2 large shallots, diced

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups beef stock

1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (less is more)

3/4 cup sour cream

2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Crushed red chili flakes, to taste

DIRECTIONS

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and shallots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender and browned, about 5-7 minutes or looks like this.

Season with salt and pepper, you can even add your crushed pepper now, if you like heat.

Stir in garlic and thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute

Gradually whisk in beef stock and Dijon. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced and slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes.

Stir in pasta and sour cream until heated through, about 1-2 minutes. 

Stir in Parmesan until melted, about 1 minute.

Serve immediately but not to the children who will whine about mushrooms. Leave them with their Nutella while you enjoy this delicious meal with a cold glass of Chardonnay!