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

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

Scallop Linguine

Parmesan Eggs

Seared Duck Breast with Orange Glaze

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

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

Chili Peanut Rice

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

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

*recipe from Bon Appétit

INGREDIENTS

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

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

1tsp. (or more) kosher salt

½cup ghee or extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1Tbsp. black mustard seeds

10fresh curry leaves

1cup roasted, unsalted peanuts

1medium onion, sliced into thin strips

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

2Tbsp. chopped cilantro leaves with tender stems

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

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

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

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

The one with all the Pictures

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mummies were also on the menu one night.

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

But first, the hair.

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

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

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

2020….How it started

How it’s going

Dorie Greenspan’s Ricotta Spoonable

I was flipping through Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook and this recipe for Spoonable Ricotta caught my eye. It would make the perfect centerpiece for any easy charcuterie plate. Aka, a quick dinner to throw together for a night of playing catch-up on some of our favorite shows. Gouda bookmarked the page for me while I ran to the market.

This is hardly a recipe that needs explaining. Basically you throw some shallots, lemon juice and any herbs that you want into some whole milk ricotta. I used the last lemon from my tree in this and wished I had another one, so it’s all about what YOU like. I highly recommend using tarragon in this. Oh and don’t go cheap on the Olive oil you use, go big!

I served this with crackers and homemade crostini.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups whole-milk ricotta, drained if there’s liquid

1 large lemon, or more to taste

3 tablespoons minced shallots, rinsed and patted dry

1 tablespoon GOOD extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel if you have it, or ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

1 pinch freshly ground pepper ( I used 2)

1/3 cup minced mixed fresh herbs, such as dill, parsley, tarragon, thyme, cilantro and/or basil.

DIRECTIONS

Put the ricotta in a medium bowl. Finely grate the zest of the lemon over it, then halve and squeeze the lemon and blend in the juice. Stir in the shallots, scallions, olive oil, salt and a healthy pinch of pepper. Taste for salt and pepper, then stir in the herbs. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before adjusting for salt, pepper and lemon juice and serving.

Is it still 2020?

News is, is that our city may be heading backwards in terms of Covid cases. Mother nature is doing her 2020 thing and then we have the political part, long story short, it’s looking grim. With that, I thought I would shine some light on the last month or so that we’ve had.

Before stay in place school started back up, we spent some long days at the beach.

The girls (with a little help) whipped up a strawberry shortcake for Shawna’s half birthday…from scratch!

Did I mention Kaili started horseback riding lessons? I will say that I was blown away with her natural ability to ride. I have no doubt she will be a fantastic rider like her grandmother.

Posting with only reins on her third lesson. #offthehorn #champ

There were a lot of pool days.

We had a couple of taco Tuesdays, with the children.

And without.

There were a many nights of singing, actually, I don’t think a day goes by life without music.

#justmixtheminmydrink

Let’s not forget the food that we made.

Lasagna
Tzatziki
Chile oil noodles
Grilled peach with burrata and prosciutto

Finally, the first week of school arrived. All of us were less than thrilled…including the cat.

I hope everyone is doing well and is keeping healthy.

Dos mas Dias

It was my brother’s first full day in PV and we had big big plans…. stay in the pool ALL day. We started with breakfast downstairs. In the old days it would have been a buffet but now it’s more like a virtual menu. Choose what you want and they will serve it to you. Their pastries were much better than the ones we had in Cancún, actually I think all the food was better. I started the days with croissants and mimosa’s, my babe had french toast, a very strange cold muesli/yogurt mess and strawberry mimosas. The guys ate normal breakfast foods, however Casey’s friend ate like there wasn’t going to be anymore food for the rest of the day.

Once at the pool, blowjobs and donkey semen started flowing. You never knew where the shots were coming from, there was alway someone ordering something for everyone. We all took turns playing ping pong, volleyball and black jack.

The food that came out of the pool cafe was some of the best. Carne Asada street tacos with fresh spicy salsa, a Gyro that was really good and their burgers were also solid. I did order the Aguachile one day and it was quite good but I was too full to really enjoy it.

I swear we aren’t horrible at ping pong.

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This was the evening of our fancy wine dinner. We made reservations in the wine room of the French Restaurant. If you purchase a bottle of wine it comes with a special chef’s menu. We had fresh french bread, there is nothing better than warm fresh bread with cold salted butter. Casey pretty much took down two baskets himself. The beef tartare was especially delicious, surf and turf for the main was cooked perfectly and we ended with a chocolate soufflé. It was delicious and worth it if you ever decide to visit.

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The evening ended in the lobby as usual with good company and music.

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We woke to our last day in PV, we planned on spending the first half of the day in town. After a quick breakfast we called an Uber to pick us up.

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Once in town we did a little window shopping and then chose a place for lunch. We picked a place that had outside seating with a view. The weather however was ridiculous. It was so humid that my sundress felt like a wool blanket. We were the only ones in the entire restaurant which was nice but we were melting. Finally we moved inside and our waiter/chef turned on a huge fan and we could finally relax.

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I had fish tacos and they were incredible. When I asked the guy for some hot sauce he brought me out a tray of different bottles. I chose the habanero one and it was so good that I bought it. As you can see, I haven’t used it at all since we have been home.

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Since we were so hot and sticky all we wanted to do was go back to the resort and jump in the pool. One more round of drinks and pool games to end our stay. We gathered our new friends and planned on a group dinner together as a farewell meal.

Casey was staying in the preferred club part of the resort. I think the perks with the preferred club were that you got a quick and solo check-in, they also had their own hot tub and a private lounge/bar that only preferred guests (plus invites) could access. We planned to meet him in his lounge for a drink before dinner. Let me preface this next part of the evening with this; Before we hit the pool that day we had to meet someone at the concierge to arrange our ride to the airport. As we were walking away I noticed two men that I hadn’t seen before. I commented to Shawna and Casey on the taller mans legs. They were long, lean and nicer than most of the people there. Strange thing to point out but seriously they stood out to me. Fast forward to Casey’s preferred lounge. As we were waiting for our adult beverages, those same, very flamboyant men walked in. The one we will call “legs” walked right up to Shawna and professed things to her that shouldn’t be said in front of other people in a public place in the daylight. He said that he was watching her at the pool and although he was clearly not into women that she made him question his sexuality, barf. It was annoying the way he went about it but they seemed like nice guys. We said adios and carried our drinks up to Casey’s room to check out his digs. His room was nicer than ours in a few ways, his tub was on the patio and his room seemed to get a bit more sunlight. We put on some music and attempted to salsa on the patio.

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Six of us had a nice dinner at the Seafood restaurant, the sun was just starting to set making for a perfect backdrop. Since it was our last evening everyone we had become friends with planned to meet in the lobby for farewell drinks and music.

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I should probably give you some more background on the people we hung out with so the following stories flow better. We met the couple from New Jersey on our first day, they were our faves, just two really nice people. They were meant to be married in Hawaii in September but since that was canceled or postponed for the time being, they took a trip to Puerto Vallarta. {We can forget about the Idahoans}. Then there was a threesome, two girls both married to men in open relationships and a gay guy, we will call him Ken. The three of them traveled together and if I remember correctly they all worked together. Next we have Weldon, he was there solo, sober and also gay. (Not that any of that matters aside from the sober part. I don’t know why anyone would choose to go to an all inclusive if you aren’t getting free booze. That’s the most expensive part, am I right?)  Lastly we have Chris and Kory, happily married and fun. Then there was Legs and his husband Johan.

Earlier in the week when we all had dinner at the Mexican (I think that’s in the last post) we were with the threesome, Weldon and the New Jersey couple. That night was when I decided I didn’t really like Ken. He came off very narcissistic, I don’t know, I just didn’t like the guy. There is a reason I am telling you all of this. 

Back to our final evening. Since everything basically shuts down at 11:00 we had planned ahead. We pre-ordered drinks and had a couple of bottles of wine for everyone to share. We also brought down a bluetooth speaker so we could keep our own entertainment going. Ken sat down next to me on the couch and I just kept telling myself, be nice. Then he said, “so I have a funny story.” I was intrigued. Apparently after our dinner the other night at the Mexican restaurant, Weldon invited Ken back to his room for a casual connection. I don’t know what or how it came about but Weldon ended up kicking Ken out of his bed and his room after Ken divulged that he was a Trump supporter. I am pretty sure I spit out my wine, that was the best thing I had heard all week. #FUCKTRUMP

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The evening was so fun, everyone was playing music and we were all swapping stories (not Covid) and then….Legs walks in, without his man, apparently Johan was napping the day off. You guys, I don’t even know how to explain him but I will try. He struts up to our group as we are all sitting and chatting, addressing everyone he dramatically points to Shawna and isn’t shy about letting us all know his sexual feeling towards her. He gets graphic and this is where I start to get a little fucking upset, bring it down dude, not appropriate. We all look at each other like, “who is this guy”? He then goes outside and I follow him, this is when he apologized, saying that he’s sorry, he didn’t mean to come off offensive and then I got a sob story about his childhood and yada yada yada. Still chatting, Johan, his husband, wakes from his slumber and comes down to join us. Legs then goes inside to greet him. I am caught in conversation outside when I missed it. I feel like I always miss the good stuff. {side note, almost every time Shawna and I go out, if it’s near or far, shit like this happens. I know she is amazing and has a magnetic personality but seriously, every.time}. When Legs walked back inside he didn’t sit next to his husband he sat next to Shawna all while dropping his drink all over his pink pants and the couch.

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That is how our last night ended. A lot of OMG, WTF’s and so much laughter and dancing. We called it a night, exchanged numbers and headed to bed.

We had one last breakfast before heading to the airport.

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We really enjoyed our time down there. If or when we go back, there are a lot more things that I want to explore but I tell you what, it’s hard to get out of the pool.

Now it’s back to all things hard, but “we can do hard things (Glennon Doyle).”

Welcome to the Jungle

Back when I was researching places in Puerto Vallarta to stay, I also was looking into horseback rides in the Sierra Madre mountains. My mom and I took a ride there while in port on a cruise years ago, it was a great time. I was in contact with Pam from rancho el charro for months, sporadically checking in on how things were going down there. She moved down there from Ventura 50 years ago and never left. She has a ranch with a couple of handlers at the very end of civilization at the bottom of the mountains. I booked a five hour ride up to a waterfall on the Wednesday of our trip.

My brother had planned to meet us down in PV, arriving Wednesday afternoon. My hope was that we would all arrive back at the hotel around the same time. Shawna and I had coffee sent up to the room and then called an Uber at 9 in the morning,  we were ready for our day. Pam was meeting us at a library in town, not far from the hotel zone to take us to the ranch. It took a good 25 minutes or so to get to the ranch, it’s literally out there. Pretty sure a lot of the little huts and stores didn’t have electricity or running water, very rural. We joked about why she has to pick her customers up, no one would ever find the place, there was also no cell service.

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Pam’s horses were healthy and happy. After we signed our life away, we hopped on (much harder as I age, sigh) and we were off. Tomás, our wonderful wrangler led us out of town and up to the top of the mountain to a waterfall. He had his machete out making way for us to trail blaze, he would often get off of his horse to pick up fresh mangos and he also had a little snack for us to enjoy at the waterfall. My horse Lobo was sweet. His canter was a little uncomfortable and he wasn’t as sure footed on the way down. I thought for sure one time we were both going down when he slipped. Shawna’s horse, Frijolito was a pig and wanted to eat everything in his sight, but he was also hell bent on making sure he was the leader. So I took up the caboose taking in all the sights and OMG all of the big flying insects.

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The ride was long and very serene. It was just us, the horses and the jungle. fun fact, this is wear they filmed Predator.

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My ass (not that one up there) was so sore, probably would have paid off to have taken a few short rides before jumping into a half day excursion. We were hot and sweaty and ready to get back to the hotel to jump into the pool. Pam was kind enough to take us all the way back there.

My brother and his friend were already there, sitting in the lobby bar watching a soccer match. We said our hellos, went to change and met at the pool. There we had meet and greets, played some pool games and all sorts of shots were being ordered from our favorite bartender Jaime. We had Blowjobs, Donkey Semen, Sex with the Bartender and a few others that I have never heard of in my life. People would come closer and whisper “what was that you just had? It looked so good”. It was fun to yell the name and watch them either cringe or laugh.

We closed out the day with nine of us having dinner at the Mexican restaurant. I don’t want to talk down on the food but living in San Diego, it’s hard to beat what we have here. We ate, drank and talked for a couple of hours before dancing to music in the lobby.

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If you are ever in Puerto Vallarta and looking for a horseback ride tour, I would recommend you check out Rancho el Charro. You really can’t ask for anything more if you want a real ride in the jungle. I will most definitely go back.

 

 

 

Our Calm Before the Storm

I want to preface this post so I don’t get pushback. With months of Covid in action we now know that there isn’t one activity that is safe or risky, it’s all a calculated risk. We do know that wearing masks, social distancing, washing our hands and being outdoors as much as possible are things that we can do to help keep us all safe.

Since SDUSD hasn’t yet opened the doors to on-campus learning, we decided to take a tropical getaway before shit gets real. With that said, I put a lot of time in researching a place to go that was warm but most importantly a place that had all of the above precautions in place. I joined social media groups to ask questions and followed people who were already at the destination or had just came back. I also didn’t want to be in an airport any longer than necessary, so a direct flight was a priority. 

We decided on heading down to Puerto Vallarta, the weather and ocean temps were great, the resort was on top of all their safety protocols and the flight was quick and easy. The flight left San Diego early one morning and it was the emptiest flight I have ever been on, I think there were about 15 of us on the entire plane. The airport in PV was also empty and it was a breeze to get through. Our luggage was sanitized before we got in our private vehicle to take us to our hotel.

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When we arrived at the resort we were greeted with hand sanitizer and a glass of sparkling wine. Once checked in, we headed straight to the room, dropped the suitcases, put our bathing suits on and went straight to the water.

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This is where we stayed 90% of the trip.

If you are already judging me, thinking that I am irresponsible or some other adjectives that I can’t think of right now, then you should probably stop reading these posts. There were some OMG moments on the trip,  things that are crazier (in retrospect) than being on an airplane. I won’t go into explicit details because 1. I don’t know the age of all the readers and 2. my parents read my blog.

The first couple of days that we were at the resort it was pretty much empty. We stayed in the pool, drinking, chatting and meeting new people. There were beach vendors down on the sand but they were very respectful and kept to themselves if you didn’t want to purchase anything. We did however almost die (sort of kidding) with our first dip in the ocean, apparently there was a red flag waving (cringe face) but that was news to us until later. The water was warm like a bath so we swam out. Long story short, the ocean was more aggressive than it lead on. I was able to get under the waves and get to shore but Shawna got caught in it and lost her brand new sunnies, that was the most devastating part. But she will claim to this day that mother nature was playing dirty. So we made our way back to the pool where we stayed all week; The red flag suddenly appeared out of nowhere and stayed put the entire week.

Doesn’t look so threatening does it?

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Our room was your typical room but we had an amazing view. We were never in it aside from sleeping and showering. We fell asleep with the doors open but since their hours of operation have changed due to Covid, certain younger folks would take the party outside. The door then had to be closed to block out the sound of their drunk chatter and music. Yes, this trip made us realize that we are now “those” old people.

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The Resort had two sides, adults only and family. All together there are about 7 restaurants but they rotated the nights that they were open. Two of those restaurants required fancy attire and since it was hot and very humid we decided early on that we would only dress up one night. Shorts and flips were where it was at. The first night we ate at the Japanese place on the family side of the resort. Food was fine, service was great, that was that.

Every night there was some sort of live entertainment in the lobby. The lobby or lobbies were all open air.

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Day two we woke up, ordered breakfast and coffee and ate on our balcony. The only plans we had were to pool. Lay by the pool, play in the pool and drink in the pool. We ended up meeting a really nice couple from New Jersey and a couple from Idaho. We had a fun time visiting with them and decided to all have dinner together at the Seafood restaurant. Everything was going fine until the Idaho husband started getting flirtatious with me. {Let me mention that he was a police officer in Idaho who spent a lot of the afternoon talking about respect.} While we were sitting down after dinner he put his hand on my leg while asking “is this okay?”. “No, it’s not” I said and I moved away. Looking back, earlier in the day at the pool, his wife was making some adulterous comments which meant nothing to any of us at the time. Now we think it was all a plan in action to swing.  Different strokes for different folks, not our jam.  I also want to say that reading this you may think, so what if he put his hand on your leg, that’s not a big deal. But it is, it made me feel uncomfortable. Especially since we spent the day with each other as couples and had to listen about how A. he was a police officer and B. how he doesn’t deal with disrespectful people. He is the problem.

Moving on, we spent the rest of the evening with our new New Jersey friends listening to people butcher songs at Karaoke in the Lobby bar, and we could not wait for it to happen again later in the week.

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Next up we test our luck in the jungle.

Watermelon Salad with Mint and Feta

The combination of these ingredients is possibly the best thing to happen to summer dinners. It’s one of those dishes that I could eat everyday until it makes me sick and then I never want it again. So far so good.

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Ingredients 

1/3 cup extra virgin Olive oil

3 Tbs fresh lemon juice

2 tsp Kosher salt

1 tsp Tabasco

Pepper to taste

Seedless watermelon cut into 1 inch cubes, chilled (10 cups)

Feta cheese, crumbled (2 cups)

1 small sweet onion, diced

1 cup fresh mint, chopped

 

Directions

Whisk the first five ingredients in a big bowl until combined. Add the watermelon, feta, onion and toss gently. Sprinkle with chopped mint and dive in.