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.

 

 

Back to School Date

The girls are back in school. Can you believe baby A is in Kindergarten? I sure as hell can’t. I’m not sure why but it seemed like the craziness was elevated this year. Maybe it’s because I have so many things going on, or maybe it’s because our Target decided to remodel this summer. Trying to get school supplies there was like fighting my way through a zombie herd.

Back to school shopping is at the moment a one on one activity. It’s physically impossible for me to take both girls shopping for clothes and get anything accomplished. They are completely different little humans. Averi, the fashionista wants to look and try on all the pretty things, where as Kaili only wants a certain type of shorts, she’s very picky, or as some would say, she just knows what she wants. She’s so small that we struggle to find anything that fit’s her right. It’s definitely a thing I have to do with each of them separately.

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The girls have eased in well to their new classes. Averi has had the teacher boasting about how great she is. I even had a dad approach me and express his gratitude to Averi for helping his son with an activity that he was struggling with. –> insert exploding heart.

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Shawna and I decided to take a “back to school” date and headed out for a wine pairing dinner.

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A three course prix-fixed meal with wine pairings awaited us. She ordered the better starter, a roasted summer squash salad with fresh ricotta, it was amazing. I got the roasted prawns and sea bass in a spicy curry. It was good but heavy handed with curry paste, almost a palate ruiner (is that a word?) We both got the pan seared sea bass with tarragon jam and it was pretty good. I hate to nitpick, I really like this place.

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For dessert, she ordered the pavlova. My grandma always made us these served with whipped cream and strawberries, they are really delicious. I ordered the obvious chocolate dessert, a take on a trifle.

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The wine pairings were fine, nothing to write home about but we left overly satisfied. We night capped at a bar that has turned into a favorite local spot that leaves us wondering what or whom we will encounter each time we step foot inside. Can’t wait to tell you some stories.

 

 

The Girls and a Recipe

I feel like I should rename the blog “Disappearing Act.” It’s not that I want to neglect it, its just “gestures at everything”. Life is busy and when time slows down we find ourselves with a new Netflix show or out at a new dive bar. Priorities people.

Since we’ve last talked Kaili turned a year older…8 YEARS OLD! Can you believe it?

She had a choice between having a birthday party or going to Great Wolf Lodge, she chose the latter. We drove up early on a Monday morning to stop at Crystal Cove for brunch and a game of tag with the waves.

 

With full bellies we headed to check in at the hotel. Great Wolf is an indoor water resort that the girls just love.

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We stayed two nights and despite a few health hiccups, they had a good time. They were  asking when we were going back before we even left.

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On Kaili’s actual birthday I made her a rainbow Unicorn cake per her request.

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We had a fun filled Memorial day weekend. Spending a day at SeaWorld and a couple of days in OC. The girls did it all and we were wiped OUT come Monday night.

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While the kids were away Shawna and I took an adult weekend out to where the weather was warm because this May grey-June gloom bullshit is really getting to us.

We returned sun kissed and ended up at the San Diego Margarita Festival. It was a really good but crowded time. I could put this on the calendar for next year. Join us!

 

The one thing that always remains the same is my love for cooking. A lot of good food has come out of my new(ish) kitchen.

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Lemon Meringue Pie
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Fresh Fettuccini
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Roasted Gaspacho
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Whole Roasted Snapper
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Panzanella Salad

One of the best recipes I have come across is this one, Pan Seared Scallops with Lemon Caper Sauce. The only difference that was made was we didn’t add the noodles to the sauce, instead it was poured over the top, and the tomatoes were left out. It was absolutely delicious and I’m pretty sure I could eat it every week, why are scallops so good?

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Chicago

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I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Chicago, my first time! The day of travel would have been just fine if the plane actually took off and arrived at the gate when it was supposed to, however we had a lot of down time on the tarmac. Dinner reservations were at 8:45 that night so we went straight to the room and back out into the city in search of the restaurant.

Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard was a must do. Unfortunately her flagship restaurant The Girl and the Goat was booked out until November so we decided to try her Asian restaurant Duck Duck Goat. “Reasonably authentic Chinese Food” is what the waiters say when they greet you at the table. The place was buzzing for a late Thursday evening. The space was tight and the volume loud. Sitting almost too close for comfort next to other diners, we ordered off of the “chef recommended” menu. I only have a couple pictures since the lighting wasn’t doing me any favors.

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We started off with the wood fired duck hearts.  The were tender, smoky and served on a creamy bed of garlic aioli. Delicious.

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Along with those we ordered the duck spring rolls, braised pork belly and ended with the   char siu bao. The bao dough was probably the best I have ever had, so light and fluffy. It was all really good. Happy with our decision we moseyed on closer to the hotel to meet a friend for a drink.

The next day we walked out on the river and hopped in a water taxi toward Willis tower.

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Not wanting to wait in line for the sky view we kept on walking to Union Station where I had my first Chicago dog.

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I’ll come clean, I don’t really like hot dogs. I felt that I had to try it and see what all the fuss was about. Eh, it tasted like a hot dog that had too much stuff on it. I won’t need another one.

The rain started to arrive as we were along the riverwalk so we tucked into a winery for a couple glasses of wine. I really dig the vibe of the river front, I can see spending warm afternoons out there listening to music and people watching.

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Cold and ready for a hot shower we went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner numero dos.

Reservations weren’t until later that evening so we started at a speakeasy bar called Brando’s. Remembering I am too old for crowds, we weren’t sure if we would be able to stand the elbow to elbow nowhere to sit room. However the happy hour prices and delicious dirty martinis swayed us to fight the sporadic nudges of the flannel wearing strangers. Then a barstool opened up and we made ourselves comfortable until dinner.

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Rick Bayless, he’s my favorite . He was who graced the screens of my early culinary classes and whom I grew to admire years after. Eating at his restaurant Frontera Grill was the first thing that came to my mind when I decided to finally see Chicago. I wish I had a better experience to share but it was just very underwhelming.

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We started with pork tamales and tamarind margaritas. Both were just OK. I’ve had much better in San Diego and our waiter was less than gracious.

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The entrees were molé enchiladas and a fish dish. The fish was better than the enchiladas. If you want really really good Molé Enchiladas head to El Comal or JV’s tacos in San Diego. Can’t be beat.

The best thing we had were probably the plantains, they could have stood to cook a little longer but dipped in crema and molé they were pretty darn good.

 

Unsatisfied we decided to call it a night and head back to the hotel.

I had the next day solo, so after lounging in bed with multiple cups of coffee I ventured out. I walked down to Navy Pier and had a mango smoothie along the water. I had some company stop by.

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I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the afternoon so I just started walking along the lake.

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So unreal, just breathtaking! Are we sure this is a lake?

I found myself not far from Lincoln park, I decided that would be my destination and a place to stop for lunch.

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I found a little restaurant outside the Lincoln Park zoo that suited my needs. A glass of rosé and a sandwich. The wind picked up and my toes were going numb, yes I wore flip flops, duh!

I also found that cabs were much easier than ride shares out there, do you guys agree?

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Back at the hotel I poured a big glass of Syrah and submerged myself in a piping hot bath. We were invited to an event at the House of Blues later that night, so with time to kill we went to the hotel bar for a bite to eat and a drink.

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The short trip ended with an open bar, live music, late night pizza and amazing company!

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It was a perfect little getaway. I love being in a new place, it’s one of my most favorite things. Like any place, I could have used a couple more days. If I ever get back there, I have a list ready!

 

 

 

Tomato Galette

This is a perfect dish to make when you have beautiful tomatoes begging to be used. Store bought pie crust makes it an easy weeknight meal and the addition of some golden caramelized onions can turn it into a weekend hit. Although you may not want to share, it’s that good!

INGREDIENTS

1 unbaked Pie Crust

1 (5oz) package of Boursin Garlic and Herbs Cheese

1 small yellow onion, sliced and caramelized

2 Large or 3 Medium Tomatoes

1 Tablespoon Honey

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Handful of torn or chiffonade basil

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 large egg with a drizzle of water, beaten

Preheat your oven 375 degrees.

On a parchment lined baking sheet, unroll the pie crust. Spread the Boursin cheese on the dough leaving about a 1 1/2 inch border. Sprinkle the onion over the cheese and then layer on your toms. Sprinkle with a healthy shower of salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with olive oil and honey and then the basil.

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Gently fold the edges of the dough up over the tomatoes, repeating every two inches around the free formed pie. Brush the crust with the beaten egg wash.

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Pop into your heated oven and bake for *1 hour or until crust is golden.

* Don’t go too far, check at the 30 minute mark to make sure the crust isn’t burning,

Let cool for 5 minutes.

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Devour with a nice glass of wine.

On Pause

Hi guys! I am sorry I haven’t been around lately. Our lives are facing some new changes. I am going to push pause on Simply Four for a bit. But I will still stopping by Facebook and Instagram for posts on the girls, but as for the blog, maybe someday soon I will come back with something new and improved.

I just want to thank you all for sticking around, reading about the ups and downs and watching the girls grow up. A lot of you have been around since the beginning and I appreciate you all.

XO

Kim