Appreciative and Relaxed

The week before mother’s day was teacher appreciation week, and boy did I feel the love. Between catered lunches, candy, flowers, wine and gift cards, I was spoiled.

For the holiday weekend; Shawna and I ran off to the desert for some sunning, soaking and reading, three of my favorite things well four!

We spent the entire day in the sun and then had a mediocre dinner. We woke up on Mother’s day, went back out to the pool for a couple of hours and then headed to Temecula for some food and wine.

We went to a new winery in town, it only opened a couple of months ago, however this was our second go around.

I am not mad at the wine. I really enjoy their Chardonnay, I think it’s one of my favorites from that area.

Also, we must acknowledge that pizza in the picture. The pizza maker is Carmine (an Italian > New Yorker > Californian) and he has a traveling wood-fired pizza truck. Handmade sourdough crust, homemade fresh mozzarella… you guys, this pizza was so delicious. The one few that we ordered had a name, but I am terrible at recalling names…They had a base of San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, slightly caramelized onions with fennel sausage, fresh basil and were finished with a drizzle of olive oil. (and maybe some hot honey at home)

A perfect weekend to recharge our mommy panels.

Snow Day

Winter is not my jam. Snow, cold, rain, wet, all of the above, I don’t love….you know? However, the girls are fond of the rain and especially the snow. So to get it out of their systems, we had a snow day.

We drove far enough East until we hit snow and we let them run free.

After some snow angels, little snowmen and a lot of exploring….

A couple of hours later, they had had enough.

Perfect little snowy escape.

I much prefer to sit in the sun with a book…cat sometimes included.

Oh and off topic, if you are looking for a new cookbook that you’ll want to cook your entire way through, this is it.

Another one that I am obsessed with right now is this.

The girls are on a Korean BBQ/Bulgogi/dumpling kick so this book has done the work for our weekly dinner plans.

I am making a few of Jet’s recipes this week, I will report back.

Onto the Next

We woke up Tuesday morning to a Royal Caribbean ship docking right next to us in Puerto Vallarta.

Our plan for the day was to get to Los Muertos beach, eat lunch and lay in the sun.

We walked around until we found a place that had some open chairs on the sand and that place ended up being Burros Bar.

We ordered margaritas, I had a Cadillac and my babe got the mango, and apparently it was two for one.

For food we ordered the shrimp aguachile to share, a shrimp quesadilla and a shrimp burrito. Her burrito was the best and I really wish had ordered the snapper, food regrets are the worst.

After lunch we walked down to the beach and laid out for awhile.

After a couple of hours we found ourselves ready to head back to the ship where we could lay by the pool and the drinks were already paid for.

We stopped for some ice cream at one of the ports shops, dropped our stuff in our cabin and situated ourselves by the pool.

Before heading back to our room we watched the Royal Caribbean ship depart port.

After dinner we decided to watch a show called “Rock you Tonight” It was bad, if we were watching a high school performance then it would have been pretty good, but for cruise ship entertainment it was really not good. The entertainment in general was poor. I ended the night not feeling very hot so we went back to the room and said goodnight to Tuesday.

Wednesday was Mazatlan and sadly we were only there from 7:00 to 2:00. We got off the ship around 9:00, took a cab to a beach somewhere, and then we just walked until we found a man who offered us a couple of lounge chairs for a small fee.

As we were lounging in the sun wishing for a drink, a man with a menu appeared. He claimed that him and his mom were from Cabo and that they are making drinks in the alley. Shawna and I glanced at each other questionably and then said “ok, why not?”. My babe was braver than me and she ordered a very large mango margarita…..I ordered a TecatĂ©, playing it like a wuss. Her drink was really good and once again I had a drink regret because the nice man never came back, sigh.

We had an alarm set to make sure we allowed time for lunch.

We walked back down the beach until we hit Joe’s Oyster bar and popped in there.

Once again we ordered ceviche and shrimp tacos.

The shrimp in the tacos were fried, and they were SO DELICIOUS!

Our time was up so we went back to the ship and to the pool which was already crowded. We spent the afternoon swimming, drinking and meeting new people.

We took that night off, brought dinner down to our room and just watched a couple of movies. Oh, I forgot to mention the food at the buffet. It was set up by different stations, salad, pizza, entrees, desserts etc. But every day one side of the entree station had four or five Indian dishes, plus condiments such as chutney and raita. You guys, it was the best thing on the ship. Every dish, each day was phenomenal. Anyhow, that is what I had dinner that night.

And just like that it was Thursday which was our last day at sea. When we woke up we were rocking and rolling, we peeked out our window and this is what we saw….

Obviously, we wouldn’t be outside so we looked at the daily schedule of events to try and plan an inside day. Norwegian didn’t have as many fun ‘at sea’ activities as Holland America did. I am not sure if it was the actual games, the cruise staff or the guests, maybe all of the above, but it was all just blah.

We wandered around, popping into the bridge.

Played a little basketball in the arcade.

We watched a dance class from the safety of the back of the lounge while sipping Dirty Shirley’s.

Then we saw the sun really making an effort so we bundled up, grabbed our books and went to the pool deck.


But we couldn’t hang. The wind was ICE. So we took that as a sign to just go read in the room until dinner.
We had reservations at Le Bistro that evening.
I opened last years birthday gift to enjoy while getting ready.

It was DELICIOUS!

We both ordered the Escargot Bourguignonne, I got the Coq au Vin and my babe got the Duck de Canard. I guess I only took one photo and it was of the escargot, so voila!

The dinner was pretty good and after we headed to Bliss lounge to watch Karaoke and that was a lot more entertaining than the rock show, that’s for sure. The next day was our final day and we spent it in Ensenada.

Race You

Last week I found myself at home instead of teaching a cooking class. That lead me to cook in my free time, obviously. Although I don’t have much photo proof to show you, I did indeed make some delicious food.
Pavlovas with lemon curd, scallops with an herb chili oil, esquites (Mexican street corn salad) and crab cakes with a remoulade.

The crab cake recipe that I use (Andrew Zimmern) is the only one I need, ever. Super simple ingredients, not loaded with filler, it lets the crab shine. It’s delish!

Shawna and I hit the Del Mar races. I had some luck on my side… finally.

Winner!

It was a fun day. The weather perfect, the views even better.

Our weather has been a consistent 77-80 degrees with humidity. Leaving us craving water in all forms.

We went to Mission Bay and the Plunge at Mission beach and then back to the bay. Seeking refuge in bodies of water.

I think it’s almost time for an adult poolside day. One where I’m not lugging snacks, chairs, boogie boards, water bottles and everything else that comes along with children. More like a good book and an adult beverage!

Cooking with Kids

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.

It was a great first round of cooking.

Food

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.

Galentine’s Day

We don’t talk about Bruno, no, no no!

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.

Happy belated Lovers Days!

Rolling with a side of Pasta

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.

PASTINA RISOTTO

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.

INGREDIENTS

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.

Serve with reserved herbs and parm on top.

Get into the Spirit

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.

And 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.

Elevated Wine, Really?

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.

We had dinner at Bouquet, the restaurant at Ponte. It was good, very intimate. Mushroom soup and scallops, not bad at all.

The next morning we were looking for egg bennies before we drove home. We stopped at a winery whose website said that they had it on their menu. Lies, all lies. Once we were seated we were handed a menu for lunch, which as you know, isn’t breakfast, it was very sad way to say, the end.

The next day the girls and I went to a Christmas party at the clubhouse.

They ran in and headed straight for the soda and donuts, and then waited for Santa.

Giving Santa the lowdown. Unicorns, horses and toys..oh my!

The girls met up with some friends and ran around outside for a good hour. Finally, when I was so bored I couldn’t take it anymore, we headed home.

The next morning we woke up to Cupcake confused on where he was at.

Definitely not summer weather here anymore.