Ten years ago Kaili made me a mom and she did it in true Kaili fashion. Ten years later we are navigating through life, trying to tread the unpredictable waters that succumb her. She is strong, resilient, beautiful inside and out, empathetic but also anxious and worrisome. It’s almost like every fear that ran through me during the many months of bed rest were passed into her and still reside deep. Never a dull moment but all that I can wish for is that my baby is happy and healthy every day of her life!
Kaili loves music but she is a creature of habit. Fixates on one thing and that thing only until we can convince her to try something else (knowing that she will love it) until before you know it, that will be the her new favorite thing. It’s a repetitive cycle. She was a Teen Beach fan for a good handful of months and luckily that didn’t wear off before her party. I think she is already onto something else, phew.
We had a small gathering of family and a neighbor friend join us for her party. Mexican food, a Teen Beach cake and with ice cream. Followed by a scavenger hunt for her last gift. It was a success!
The cake had a lot of components that all came together well, if I don’t say so myself. Her reaction was priceless and it made my heart happy that I could give her what she wanted.
In my opinion, Chicken Tikka Masala is the perfect dish. Chicken bathed in a creamy curry sauce with the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. This recipe is from Bon Appétit from years ago and it’s a foolproof and the most delicious recipe. Totally forgiving if you can’t find all of the exact ingredients or you need to make a few substitutes, it will be so good either way. Some say Chicken Tikka is a British take on curry and some believe it originated in India and I just found out that some think it’s originally from Glasgow, which seems a bit strange, but who knows? If you do, please fill me in, it might be a Jeopardy question one day.
The chicken marinates in yogurt for a handful of hours to overnight, this is a step you don’t want to skip. You also want to make sure you have some naan bread so you can sop up the leftover sauce. Trader Joes Garlic Naan is a sure hit.
I have made this recipe quite a lot and I will be honest, in a pinch you can use greek yogurt. I have and it was still amazing. I have also served it with Jasmine rice, gasp AND I cut the cumin in half because to me, cumin is a very overpowering spice. Also, the longer it sits, the better it gets so don’t be afraid of the leftovers.
2 dried chiles de árbol or ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne.
128-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
2cups heavy cream
¾ cup chopped cilantro, plus sprigs for garnishSteamed basmati rice (for serving)
Combine garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, and cumin in a small bowl. Whisk yogurt, salt, and half of spice mixture in a medium bowl; add chicken and turn to coat. Cover and chill 4-6 hours. Cover and chill remaining spice mixture.
Heat ghee in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion, tomato paste, cardamom, and chiles and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste has darkened and onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add remaining half of spice mixture and cook, stirring often, until bottom of pot begins to brown, about 4 minutes.
Add tomatoes with juices, crushing them with your hands as you add them. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, until sauce thickens, 8-10 minutes.
Add cream and chopped cilantro. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 30-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack inside sheet. Arrange chicken on rack in a single layer. Broil until chicken starts to blacken in spots (it will not be cooked through), about 10 minutes.
Cut chicken into bite-size pieces, add to sauce, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Serve with rice and cilantro sprigs and naan.
A few weeks back we decided to try a new wine bar. When we were checking in Shawna says to me “the man we met in Puerto Vallarta is sitting outside.” We had met him in the pool and spent the day chatting, he works in travel and we still have his card on our calendar. She went outside and asked if he remembered us. After refreshing his memory he said he did, I don’t don’t think he did. He and his friend invited us to sit with them and we had a nice time, the wine was also good. For dinner we went had French.
We took the girls out to lunch in Old town with the promise of churros as a treat.
We also made the mistake of taking them to mini golf. Kaili was complaining before we even got out of the car. ” I don’t want to golf.” Then they saw the go carts and asked to do that. They complained about the weather, about being thirsty and about who went first and so on. Fun suckers, that is what they were that day.
I will say that out of the three of them, Averi showed the most promise for a future in golf.
Every holiday we all paint. We brainstorm what we are going to paint ahead of time and then we put music on and go for it. It’s a family favorite, there isn’t any fighting, little complaining and the girls look forward to it every time.
During dinner time we always ask the girls “what did you learn? And, what is something kind that you did for someone else?”
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?
One Monday morning we packed up the car and headed north. We zoomed through LA aiming for lunch in Pismo Beach but apparently we weren’t the only ones with that idea. Downtown Pismo was insane, especially for a Monday during a pandemic but I guess everyone was ready for a break. Not wanting to wait, we kept driving making our first stop in Morro Bay.
We checked into a little motel and went looking for a decent meal. I made a deal with myself to get a cup of clam chowder at each coastal town we stopped in so I could be the sole judge of what town gave me the best one. A little known fact about me, chances are if I order clam chowder, there will be a glass of Chardonnay along with it. Like give a Pig a Pancake but with soup and wine. Anyhow, after hemming and hawing over menus we ended up at the Dutchman’s Seafood House. It was fine, the clam chowder was the best thing we ordered.
After our sole meal of the day we wandered around and weirdly enough stumbled into a tasting room. Chateau Margene is parked on the main strip of Morro Bay, you can’t miss it and they had really delicious wines, pricey but good. The guy pouring was family of the winemaker, knowledgable and made the experience nice. They also had ports which had us swooning after each sip. The sleepy town slowed down with the sun so we padded back to the room to divulge in our dessert wine and chocolate.
On the drive up we found out the new tasting procedure for wineries, and it really takes the fun spontaneity out the of wine tasting experience but alas, we are all alive to talk about it so….I made reservations for tasting at three different Paso Robles wineries.
We started at Eberle. We had a table on the patio with views of sprawling vineyards, the wine was good but we didn’t leave with anything. The highlight was the standard poodle we met as we were leaving, I may have suggested smuggling it into the car.
Next stop was Pear Valley Winery.
This was a nice time and the wine was pretty good. They had some sweet muscats that we just can’t find much of near us.
After a really rushed lunch and a pretty bad sandwich, we barely made our reservation at Brochelle. This was a quaint tasting room with some decent wines and a good Syrah. The girl pouring was very personable and it was fun chatting with her. Satisfied and happy we decided to head back to the coast for another round of clam chowder when we found ourselves at one more winery. Luckily a quick call from the car, Windward winery has a spot to seat us for one last tasting.
Windward specialized in Pinot Noir’s and I am no fan of Pinot Noir’s, however either my palate is changing or we just had some really good ones. We did a vertical tasting of PN’s and they were all good, surprisingly.
Finally back on the road, we drove through Cambria and stopped at Moonstone Beach for dinner.
We had a really good meal and their clam chowder was so delicious.
We decided to end the evening in San Simeon. By the time we checked in it was time to crawl into bed and veg to the murder channel, sweet dreams.
Our next day would be a long car day taking us all the way to Sonoma.
How is everyone holding up? School is out so that has to be a little relief right? I was not in love with homeschooling our girls. We have been trying to keep busy with plenty of beach days, cooking and A LOT of games. Here is a glimpse at the past two months.
Last day of Kinder and 3rd grade.
Kaili helped me make Tzatziki, which we mopped up with beef kabobs and pita bread.
On the warm days we got shaved ice and wandered the beaches.
To escape the repetitious days, we headed to OC for a little break.
There were sunburns and kayaks.
Then the wind picked up and we almost lost grandma and Averi to the sea.
Luckily, a full recovery was made.
At night, the girls challenged us to some Uno and displayed their piano skills before we all fell into bed.
As long as the sun is shining or even if it’s hiding, we will be spending our days at the pool and beach this summer.