Holiday Break

Christmas came a few days late, it had to wait for all of us to get back home. Once we were all back together, it was off to the races.

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Santa brought way to much this year, waayyy too much. I’d like to say it’s all put away by now, but I’d be lying.

Wearing her new Sombrero, Averi helped me make cinnamon rolls. I made a semi-home version using pre-made bread dough and then just whipped up some cream cheese frosting. They were amazing and the pan was empty by the end of the day.

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The week felt like 10 years, I swear you guys. We went to plenty of parks, we cooked, and we made this weird candy that Santa brought. There was sushi, donuts and waffles;  I am actually shocked the girls ate it, strange stuff.

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AND we also sang Karaoke, yes we have apologized to the neighbors.

My family came over for a nice family belated Christmas. We had a taco bar, the annual Sherry cake and played games. Sadly everyone chickened out on their time to be a singing star. Averi however has found her niche.

Averi also got what she asked for from Grandma and Grandpa, a horse. It’s getting a lot of use.

 

 

 

Chrissy’s Chicken Satay

I made this recipe on a whim. It was a what can I make that doesn’t require the grocery store recipe. Turns out I did have to run to the store for the pepper sauce ingredients, sigh…but this dish was totally worth dragging three children to the store. I definitely suggest you make all three recipes because all together it’s phenomenal. It has the makings of a really good salad. We have to talk about the peanut sauce real quick. I have made hundreds of different versions from using coconut milk, to heating all the ingredients. This one is the best I have ever made, and it’s so easy.

This paired well with a rosé and a soccer match. Kids optional

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Ingredients for Chicken Marinade

1 pound chicken boneless and skinless chicken thighs cut into good size pieces

8 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons brown sugar

4 teaspoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

14 oz. canned coconut milk

Ingredients for the Peanut Sauce

½ cup creamy peanut butter

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

3 tablespoons Soy sauce

1½ tablespoons Sriracha

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

 

Ingredient for the Sweet Hot Pepper Sauce

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon distilled vinegar

1 Shallot finely chopped

1 Fresh Thai Chile, minced

Kosher Salt to taste

Directions:

Marinade the chicken: In a bowl, combine the coconut milk, garlic, cilantro, brown sugar, salt, turmeric, and ginger in a bowl. Add the chicken and cover, and marinate for at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours in the refrigerator. *Soak wood skewers for at least 30 minutes before grilling.

Make the peanut sauce: In a bowl (or I used my bullet blender so I didn’t have to mince garlic) combine the peanut butter, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, Sriracha, vinegar, and 1⁄4 cup water, thinning with additional water if you prefer a thinner sauce.

Make the sweet hot pepper sauce: In a bowl, combine the sugar, 1⁄2 cup water, the vinegar, cucumber, shallot, and chile. Season to taste with salt.

Heat grill to medium high heat.

Thread chicken onto the skewers and grill until cooked through. About 5-6 minutes for side.

Serve with the peanut sauce and hot pepper sauce. Make sure you eat all three together and then  be prepared swoon. SO GOOD!

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Pavlova with Passion Fruit Whip and Mango

A little tidbit about me and this blog, the titles are the hardest part. So I apologize if you are underwhelmed with them, some days are better than others.

I have so many fond memories of my grandma. She loved me, she loved my grandpa, she loved to please and I am not sure if she loved to cook but that is one thing she was always doing, at least that’s one thing I remember. I remember fresh orange juice, scrambles eggs, homemade buttermilk ranch dressing, red hot cinnamon applesauce and strawberry shortcake.

Here is where it gets fuzzy. You see my grandma died before I was mature enough to really appreciate all that she was and did. But one of the many things I remember vibrantly is a dessert she made. Meringues with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.  I remember the dessert as “strawberry shortcake” but I may have made that up. However I have talked to my parents and they were no help, sigh. (LOVE YOU PARENTS)

This is where I am going with the story if you are nodding off; dad cough cough. As I grew older my friends, not naming names (Jess) told me about how they loved strawberry shortcake, I thought; OMG, (well I didn’t say that because I was only 10) I also love strawberry shortcake.  Turned out, their version of (can we condense it to SSC?) SSC was not the same as my memory of the dessert. Years and years went on and another SSC I did not order.

As time went on, cooking classes were taken and the words “Eton Mess and Pavlova” crept in. I wish so hard that my grandma was alive to answer all of my questions I need to ask her about one damn dessert. But since she isn’t with us anymore I must give you my own findings. The dessert was her own creation, half Pavlova (meringue dessert with a crisp crust and soft, light inside, usually topped with fruit and whipped cream) AND half Eton Mess. (dessert consisting of a mixture of strawberries, meringue, and whipped cream). I think the thing I am asking myself is this….how has it taken me so long to make this dessert? Such a strong fond memory but yet, so distant.

I put a tropical twist on it using passion fruit, mango and some dragon fruit. It was incredible.

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Meringues

6 egg whites, room temperature
1.5 cups white sugar
2 tsp corn starch
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice or distilled vinegar
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract

Combine cream, sugar and vanilla and nectar in a chilled mixing bowl and beat until soft peaks form. 
Smother your Meringues with passion fruit whipped cream and top with anything you want. I used mangos and dragon fruit but it will be good with anything or nothing at all. I promise.

 

 

 

 

 

Cheese & Cherry Tomato Puff Pastry Tart

Puff pastry, who doesn’t like puff pastry? It’s so versatile and can be used for anything. I usually have some tucked in my freezer just in case the urge to make this Tommy Tart recipe appears. I didn’t veer far from that recipe, but instead of using Boursin cheese, this time I used mozz, gruyere and parm.

Listen, this is recipe you need in your back pocket. When your neighbors, you know the ones you kind of like but don’t ever hang out with. They suggest you “stop on over” for some wine. And well, duh, if there is wine, then you are there! But you can’t show up empty handed. SO, you are welcome.

Here is what you are going to do, pull out the puff pastry you have in your freezer (see what I did there). Set it on the counter to defrost while you either, break up the siblings fight in the other room or struggle with the common core math that the 7 year old brought home. Now you really need that wine AND your puff pastry is now ready; set GO!

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Ingredients

1 sheet of frozen Puff Pastry

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped herbs, basil, oregano

1/3 cup  shredded mozzarella cheese

1/3 cup  grated Gruyere cheese

1/3 cup  grated Parmesan  cheese

olive oil + salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

The puff pastry needs to be defrosted, leave out on the counter for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the cherry tomatoes in half and place them in a colander over a bowl or in the sink. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and let drain as you prepare the following.

Place a sheet of parchment on a cookie sheet. Place the thawed puff pastry on a lightly floured counter.  Unfold the flaps.  Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the pastry and, with a rolling pin, just slightly roll the dough so the seams are not so prominent.  Transfer the dough to the baking sheet.

With a sharp knife, score the puff pastry all along the sides about 1/2 inch, to  make a small border.  Sprinkle the cheeses with the herbs and  top with the tomatoes. Drizzle with (good) olive oil.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden. Cut it up and now you have a dish to bring to (said) neighbor. Maybe they will invite you back or maybe they wont. Either way, it wont be this recipe that disappoints, just saying.

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October

Don’t blink, October is almost over. What the hell happened? I actually had to look back at the calendar to see what we did and it turns out, actually a lot. Maybe that’s why it flew by. We had family birthdays, kids half birthdays, pumpkin patches and an AWFUL bout of lice, not in that order.

We met the family in Old Town to celebrate my mom and uncle Brian’s birthday and my parents 49th <—- (rockstars) anniversary.

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We tried out two different pumpkin patches this year. The first one was near Julian. It had hay rides, cider pressing and a petting zoo.

The second one in Ramona was a pumpkin patch AND a winery. Everyone else is doing it wrong, this is definitely the only way to do pumpkin patches, or any kid activity honestly.

As always, October was a warm month so there was plenty of sunshine and pool days. We had fun weekends at the horse races and finding new hole in the wall bars. A lot of good food came out of the kitchen and the girls had school spirit week. October didn’t lack activities.

 

As we turn the corner we are smacked in the face with the Holiday season and I am not sure I am prepared, how is it almost 2020?

I leave you with this….

Pesto Zoodles with Burrata and Tomatoes

I almost forgot that my spiralizer existed. While cleaning my pantry I spotted it sitting lonely up on the top shelf. I promised myself to use it the next week. If you meal plan or prep ahead of time, this dish can come together in five minutes. Otherwise it might take a good twenty minutes or so; Choose wisely. With no cooking at all,  this dish is good way to feel like you are having a big bowl of pasta without the guilt.

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Ingredients (for 2-3 people)

3 zucchini, spiralized

1 to 1 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1 ball of burrata

Pesto

2 cups of fresh basil

1-2 cloves of  garlic (or more, don’t let me stop you)

1/3 cup of toasted nuts (you can use pine nuts, pistachios, almonds or walnuts. Do YOU)

1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese (grated)

1/2 cup of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Chopped pistachios to garnish

Directions

Put your spiralized zucchini in a big bowl.

Throw all the pesto ingredients into a food processor and blend until it’s to your liking.

Spoon as much pesto onto your zoodles for your taste and toss. Your hands are the best tool for this job.

Toss in your tomatoes.

Get your ball of burrata (SO delicious) tear it up and gently drop it all over.

Drizzle with your favorite olive oil and throw on some chopped pistachios. Taste for seasoning and then and serve. Voila.

 

Enchilada Meatballs

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I am not your number one meatball fan, just not my jam.  But the thing with this dish is all. of. the. flavors. And using a tortilla to soak these up with the addition of avocado’s and sour cream, so good you guys, so good.

Kaili wanted to be chef so the credit really goes to her, I was just her kitchen side-kick.

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This recipe is *adapted from Delish.

Kaili really surprised me with her determination to start and complete this dish. She cut, rolled and even taste tested enchilada sauces to determine the best one to use.

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Kaili’s take away from this dish was “I like the enchilada sauce and the meatballs but not the green stuff on top, and I like lots of sour cream!” See, I told you it was good.

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Ingredients

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup bread crumbs
egg
cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped (plus more for garnish)
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1  small onion, chopped
jalapeño, minced
(19-oz.) can enchilada sauce
1/2 15-oz.) can black beans, drained
Salt and pepper to taste
1 c. shredded cheddar
1 c. Monterey jack
avocado, sliced

 

*for serving:  Tortillas, sour cream, your favorite hot sauce.

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, garlic, cilantro, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Season mixture with salt and pepper, then form into meatballs about 2 inches in diameter.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add meatballs and cook to an internal temperature of 140 degrees , about 2 minutes per side. Remove from skillet and transfer to a plate while you make sauce.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet. Add onion and jalapeño and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in enchilada sauce and black beans and bring mixture to a simmer.

Return meatballs to skillet, tossing them in sauce. Top meatballs with cheeses and bake until beef is cooked through and cheeses are melty, about 15 minutes more.

Garnish with avocado and more cilantro. Serve with warmed tortillas and sour cream.

 

 

Flat Hand-Pulled Noodles with Chili Oil Vinaigrette

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This recipe hails from American Test Kitchen, my most beloved cooking show. Their post for Biang Biang Mian came across my Instagram feed and I’m pretty sure I drooled on my phone. I’ve had hand-pulled noodles and I’ve seen them being made but I have never attempted them myself. And I won’t lie, making fresh pasta isn’t something I do. But recently Shawna has been making it, no tools but her own hands and it’s so delicious. I think there is a time and place for the fresh noodles and this is definitely the time.
The Chili oil has a number of ingredients but I promise the end result is worth it. Something you would order in the Sichuan province of China. Spicy and best paired with a Tsingtao or another light beer. I beg you to try it.

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Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

Ingredients for Dough

2⅓ cups  bread flour

¾ teaspoon salt

1 cup  water

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Ingredients for Chili Vinaigrette

10 to 20 bird chiles, ground fine

½ cup vegetable oil

2 garlic cloves, sliced thin

1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thin

1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns

½ cinnamon stick

1 star anise pod

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons black vinegar

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon sugar

4 quarts water

1 tablespoon salt

12 fresh cilantro sprigs, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

6 scallions, sliced thin on bias

 Directions For the Dough

Whisk flour and salt together in bowl of stand mixer. Add water and oil. Fit stand mixer with dough hook and mix on low speed until all flour is moistened, 1 to 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is smooth and satiny, 10 to 12 minutes. (Alternatively, mix dough in food processor, following instructions above.) Transfer dough to counter, knead for 30 seconds, and shape into 9-inch log. Wrap log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or up to 48 hours.

Directions For the Chili Vinaigrette: Place chiles in large heatproof bowl. Place fine-mesh strainer over bowl and set aside. Combine vegetable oil, garlic, ginger, peppercorns, cinnamon, and star anise pod in small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until sizzling. Reduce heat to low and gently simmer until garlic and ginger are slightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Pour through strainer into bowl with chiles; discard solids in strainer. Stir chili oil to combine and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar until combined; set aside.

Unwrap dough, transfer to lightly oiled counter, and, using bench scraper or knife, divide into 6 equal pieces (each 1½ inches wide). Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, bring water and salt to boil in large pot; reduce heat to low and cover to keep hot. Working with 1 piece at a time, oil both sides of dough and flatten into 7 by 3-inch rectangle, with long side parallel to edge of counter. With both hands, gently grasp short ends of dough. Stretch dough and slap against counter until noodle is 32 to 36 inches long (noodle will be between 1/16 and 1/8-inch-thick). (If dough is hard to stretch to this length or is snapping back significantly, set aside on counter and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, continue stretching remaining portions of dough.) Place noodle on counter. Pinch center of noodle with forefingers and thumbs of both hands and pull apart with even pressure in both directions to rip seam in middle of noodle and create 1 continuous loop. Cut loop to create 2 equal-length noodles. Set noodles aside on lightly oiled counter (do not let noodles touch) and cover with plastic wrap. Repeat stretching and cutting with remaining pieces of dough.

Return water to boil over high heat. Add half of noodles to water and cook, stirring occasionally, until noodles float and turn chewy-tender, 45 to 60 seconds. Using wire skimmer, transfer noodles to bowl with chili vinaigrette; toss to combine. Return water to boil and repeat with remaining noodles. Divide noodles among individual bowls, top with cilantro and scallions, and serve.

Thai BBQ Ribs

I was watching the news the other morning and the segment was about a local whiskey, a peanut butter whiskey actually. Apparently Dave Grohl gave them a shoutout at a concert this summer and now sales are booming. They were chatting about all the different drinks they make but their chef was also busy whipping up dishes featuring the libation. When the segment ended the camera panned to a plate of ribs and that got me thinking about dinner. My mind went straight to Satay with a peanut sauce, which I love, and how I have never thought to pair that with ribs. Luckily I keep my Asian pantry staples plentiful so that left me with a very short shopping list. I knew what ingredients I wanted but I wasn’t sure how I wanted to execute the cooking. After some recipe searching I landed on this one here, and I was not disappointed.

*note* I did not have a lime juice for this so I substituted lemon juice + Rice vinegar

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Recipe adapted from *Half baked Harvest

Ingredients for Ribs

3-5 pounds baby back ribs

1 1/2 cups sweet Thai chili sauce

3/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons Red Curry Paste

2 teaspoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons fresh ginger grated

2 cloves garlic minced or grated

crushed red pepper to taste

Ingredients for BBQ Peanut Sauce

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup ketchup

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter warmed/melted

1/4 cup sweet Thai chili sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon Mirin

2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste

1 tablespoon Chinese 5 spice

1 lime juice

1/4 cup cilantro chopped

Directions

Place the ribs in a large baking dish or roasting pan.
In a large 4 cup glass measuring cup or bowl combine the sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, red curry paste, fish sauce, ginger, garlic and pepper. Whisk to combine and then pour the marinade over the ribs. Place the ribs in the fridge for at least 4 hours to as long as overnight, turning then once or twice if possible to make sure they get fully covered in the marinade.
Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 3-6 hours (if you go the full six hours bake them at 275 degrees F.) or until very tender. Try to baste the ribs once or twice during cooking.
Meanwhile make the BBQ sauce.
In a large glass measuring cup or bowl whisk together the soy sauce, ketchup, warm peanut butter, sweet chili sauce, rice vinegar, Mirin, red curry paste, Chinese 5 spice, lime juice and cilantro. If the sauce is not mixing place it in the microwave or over the stove and warm until everything is melted together. Add water to thin if needed.
When the ribs are done cooking preheat the grill to medium high heat and grease the grates. Remove the ribs from the baking dish. Slather the ribs in the Peanut BBQ sauce and grill 3-5 minutes per side or until lightly charred. Be careful flipping the ribs as the will be very tender.
Serve with chopped peanuts and cilantro, with extra sauce on the side. Enjoy.

Cookbook Review

I love flipping through cookbooks and marking all of the recipes that I want to make some day. But what about the recipes that don’t automatically appeal to you, they get left out. You may be missing a really delicious meal.

A few of us started a cookbook club. What better way to hear about recipes you might not have ever made? So much better than reading random reviews, you actually know the people who make it and if they say it’s good, it probably is.

We started with Milk Street by Christopher Kimball. He used to host the cooking shows Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen. A great cooking show that tests a recipe a hundred different ways until they come up with the best possible outcome.

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I started off with the Vietnamese Caramel Fish and Herb and Pistachio couscous. Both definite do-overs.

I have never prepared fish this way, it’s poached in a aromatic caramel sauce and topped with jalapeños and cilantro.  The Couscous was really good. It’s a make ahead dish and gets better the longer it sits, perfect for a party. I would suggest not tossing in the pistachios if it’s made far ahead in advance, reserve for the last minute.

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I went on to make the Spanish Pork Bites (pinches Morunos)

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Crispy, tender and flavorful tidbits of pork, it was good, no leftovers good.

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Along with that I made the Brussels Sprouts with anchovies and garlic. I am convinced you can add those two ingredients to anything and it will be good. The anchovies take on another flavor once cooked. The sprouts were charred and crispy and the honey adds a hint of sweetness. I will make these again but next time try roasting them in the oven opposed to on the stove.

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I was happy with this cookbook and have a couple more recipes saved on my “to-make” list.