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.

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.

 

 

 

The Good Wine Ending

We woke up rested, refreshed and ready to explore Sonoma. I made reservations for tastings at four different wineries. We started strong at Anaba, the weather was absolutely perfect. We sat outside and really enjoyed everything we tried, it was a fantastic start to the day.

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Next up was Buena Vista Winery. This place has history which was interesting to learn about.

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We were charmed by the look of the grounds but our like quickly dissipated. The man pouring our just OK wines took his sweet time coming back for each taste. What should have been an hour tasting, for 5 wines turned out to be 5,000 hours. Allowing too much time for us to worry about the possibility of ticks falling out of the trees and burying themselves into our skin. Our window for lunch came and went and we couldn’t get out of their fast enough. We made it back into town with just enough time to drive thru a place and grab some fries before our next reservation.

Our next tasting was in an old Sears catalog home which was intriguing in itself. I didn’t know one could purchase a house from a catalog, that is how it works right?

We had a private reservation and it was a really fun experience. The lady pouring {I wish I remembered her name} was a close friend of the wine maker and she made it very personable. fullsizeoutput_df4

Here we tasted three chards and four pinot noirs, not exactly a horizontal tasting but the same varietal from three separate vineyards, does that make sense?

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The chardonnays were delicious and I think our favorite haled from Mendocino, that needs to be a wine trip in the future.

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Our last tasting for the day was held in a cute outside patio and was founded by three former football players. Three Fat Guys have a laid back approach with some pretty decent wine.

{I may have finished a bottle of their rose before we left Sonoma.}

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Dinner reservations were made at LaSalette a recommendation that I would most definitely pass on. qiKnqxcpR5+LfWsrWkc3Lw7uO3q64SQ9qANGAWL9gi%A

Sorry for the blurry photo, we had been wine tasting all day.

I ordered the Feijoada which I haven’t had since I was in Brazil and it was delish, not as good as my moms though.

{Hint, hint mom, next time we are up there maybe I can help you make it}

We finished with a dessert wine tasting and then walked back to our hotel room for a good nights sleep.

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The next day we planned on checking out Napa for lunch and hopefully a tasting somewhere. Every winery we wanted to visit had no availability but as luck would have it, we found a place right in town that had an opening for us.
We picked a restaurant that had open outdoor dining. We ordered wine and the most amazing peach and prosciutto salad that may have caused inappropriate food moaning.

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After a wonderful lunch and fantastic people watching, we headed for our tasting.

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Roots Run Deep tasting room was in an old house in downtown Napa. We were seated on a couch on the front patio.

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The one upside to the new winery protocols is that we get special one on one attention and this place ended up being my favorite of them all.

They are the ones behind the wines Educated Guess. You’ve probably seen the bottle at BevMo or even the grocery store, I know I have but never actually tried it. Their chardonnay was phenomenal and so were all the other wines. I liked everything they poured for us and if we lived up there would easily consider becoming wine members. It was such a fantastic ending in wine country.

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Once our last sip was gone we hit the road heading down to San Ramon for the night. We enjoyed a nice evening catching up with old friends. Unfortunately our plans for the next day were halted once the governor shut down certain counties again and we were all so disappointed. We were really looking forward to seeing a friends band play and to catching up with people that I haven’t seen in years. Alas, there is always next time right?

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We enjoyed a nice lunch outside before we chose to drive south for another night on the coast. But before we hit the highway we took a swing by my old house. So many memories held there.

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Our last night of a great Cali road trip we chose to spend one more evening in Morro Bay.

We had a really nice meal, perfect weather with sea lion company and relished in what a fantastic trip we had as the sun sank low.

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Side note- This martini had anchovy stuffed olives which sounded so good but in reality tasted like something the sea lion would like a lot more than I did.

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The rest of our drive was uneventful and we couldn’t wait to get home to our girls, human and furry.

It was such a great break from the mundane and even though everything was held outside {who complains about that?} we had amazing weather, pretty darn good food and wine.

Oh, and the clam chowder award goes to Moonlight Beach Bar and Grill in Cambria

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I will be back for another cup on another day.

 

Car Tripping

Our motel in San Simeon was right off of highway 1 which was most important. Unfortunately we were met with loud upstairs neighbors. I am not sure if it was children, dogs or grown men but they weren’t sleeping when the rest of us were hoping to. When the noise finally calmed down we were able to get some sleep. The next morning we grabbed a to-go bag of breakfast items from the front desk and then we hit the black tar, not that kind, jeez.

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While this guy pondered his next to-go meal, we headed ten miles north to the vista point to see some elephant seals.

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We planned on being in the car for most of the day so we hoped for the best {open restrooms and photo ops} when we did pull off of the highway.

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We crossed the famous Big Little Lies bridge however the photo cred goes to my brother, I just stole it for the blog.

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Once we hit Carmel by the Sea, we parked for some browsing and wine tasting. We lucked out with Manzoni Cellars. Winery tasting rooms were told minutes before we arrived that they were closing all indoor operations again. This place had two tables outside, luckily. The wine was good and we left with a bottle of Syrah.

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Ready for lunch aka clam chowder, we continued north to Monterey.

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The place we really wanted to eat at had a long wait so we stumbled into the nearest place and ate a mediocre lunch. The weather wasn’t quite warm enough to stay and walk around outside so we decided to continue our drive up the coast heading for the Golden Gate Bridge.

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We left the cooler weather behind and drove into Sonoma. I called a local pizza place at the square and we picked up our dinner before hitting the hotel. It was a long day in the car so we were ready for a good nights sleep, we had wine tasting to do the next day.

Road Trippin {nor cal style}

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Next stop was Pear Valley Winery.

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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.

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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.

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Finally back on the road, we drove through Cambria and stopped at Moonstone Beach for dinner.IMG_4613

We had a really good meal and their clam chowder was so delicious.

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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.

 

 

No Need for a Title

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.

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Kaili helped me make Tzatziki, which we mopped up with beef kabobs and pita bread.

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On the warm days we got shaved ice and wandered the beaches.

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To escape the repetitious days, we headed to OC for a little break.

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There were sunburns and kayaks.

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Then the wind picked up and we almost lost grandma and Averi to the sea.

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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.

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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.

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I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy.

Scallion Pancakes

I was being spammed all over my Istagram and Feedly with these Scallion Pancakes. I don’t know why all of the sudden this recipe was haunting me, but you know what? Once I made them, it stopped. We are definitely being watched.

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*Recipe HERE from Bon Appétit

These turned out to be really delicious but I’ll be honest, it was more work than I was expecting it to be.

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My America’s Test Kitchen cookbook had step by step pictures that helped as an assistant.

I froze the leftovers we couldn’t finish, I imagine they will defrost just fine.

I made two different dipping sauces, one that came with the BA recipe and another I made with dark soy sauce, ginger, hoisin sauce and mirin. I think we liked that one a tad better.

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I am glad I finally made these but I don’t think I would do it again on purpose.

 

 

 

 

Puff Pastry Sausage Rolls

Ever since I had my first meat pasty in London, my radar for a British meat pie is always on. This is an easy recipe that sort of has a pasty vibe, perfect for a party or pot luck, when those days are allowed again.

*recipe is from Epicurious

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INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 pounds good pork sausage

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 (17-ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed

2 eggs beaten

DIRECTIONS

 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl mix together the sausage, basil, oregano, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste until all the seasonings are well distributed throughout.

Roll out all the puff pastry into one large rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Put the wide side of the rectangle to your left. Form the sausage meat into a log about 1 inch thick and long enough to fit the width of the pastry. Lay this log along the whole edge. Roll the pastry around the sausage, brush with beaten eggs at the join, and cut so that the pastry has just enough room to slightly overlap. Repeat the process with the remaining sausage meat and pastry. Line up all the sausage rolls making sure the seam on each is at the bottom and not showing. Brush the tops with the eggs and cut the sausage rolls into either 1 1/2-or 3-inch logs.

*serve with your favorite mustard or an aioli or nothing, they are good on their own.

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Goat Cheese and Arugula Pizza with Spicy Honey

This recipe is what everyone needs during this self isolation era. I can promise you that however you are getting your groceries, the goat cheese and arugula are not what’s flying off of the shelves. However, the flour and yeast is so hopefully you already have that stocked in your pantry or you can find pre-made pizza dough; luckily I did.

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Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup marinara sauce

4 ounces goat cheese

1 1/2 cups freshly grated cheese (mozzarella or a blend)

4 cups baby arugula greens

 

Spicy Honey

 

1/2 cup honey

1 jalapeño pepper thinly sliced 

 

Directions

Prep the dough and let it rise.
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Drizzle a couple of tablespoons olive oil into a 9×13 cake pan or dish.
Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it a few times until silky, using a sprinkle of extra flour if needed. Place the dough in the pan and press it out towards the edges. Once it’s in the pan and as close to the edges as it will get, cover it and let it rise again for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 550 degrees F.
To assemble the pizza, press the dough down in the pan with your fingertips and remove any large air bubbles. Spread the sauce on the dough, leaving a small border around the edges. Add on about 1/2 of the goat cheese and top with the grated cheeses.
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Bake the pizza for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and bubbly and the crust around the edges is golden. Toss the arugula with the tablespoon of olive oil. Remove the pizza and drizzle it with a few tablespoons of the spicy honey.
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Top it with the arugula. Add the remaining crumbled goat cheese, don’t forget the jalapeno slices!
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Sit back and enjoy!

Sequestered Lemon Curd and Cream Cheese Pastry

How is everyone holding up in our new reality? I won’t lie, I have cabin fever and it’s only been a week. But to keep my spirits up, I will hang out in the kitchen more and experiment with new recipes.

Our lemon tree is finally having its moment.

I see lemon martinis, in the near future.

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Since all of the time is on my side, I decided to turn a a few of them into a non-alcoholic curd.

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I used this recipe from Epicurious and you guys, it’s so good. Perfect balance of sweet and sour with the butter coating the palate at the end. So good.

Now what? I had newly made curd and puff pastry in the freezer, after a few searches I came across this;  a cream cheese and lemon puff pastry braid.

This was a pretty easy recipe and now that I have a slight grip on how to braid pastry, (it’s a lot harder than hair) I think Kaili will be able to take the lead next time.

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The curd was starting to spill out and I wasn’t happy with my pastry talents but…..it all turned out just fine in the end.

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Not sure how many servings this is supposed to be; but turns out it’s two….two totally worth the macros servings.