Weekend at the Lake

We decided to spend Memorial weekend up at Lake Arrowhead. It has been over a year since we were last up there and now that Averi is a bit older and a tad easier, we thought….why not?

We rented the same VRBO that suited our needs perfectly last time. Plenty of rooms, a fire place and a nice deck with a hot tub.

Once we hit our first destination on the mountain, Lou Eddies Pizza, Kaili hopped out of the truck and threw up. We high fived her for making it to the top and saving us a huge mess to clean up.

After a few sips of 7-up, she was ready for pizza.

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Full on delicious pizza, we checked into our rental, unloaded ALL of our stuff (crazy the amount of stuff we need for just a few days) and hit the store.

Then it was time to play.

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We wandered around the Village and stopped at a new Tap Room for a couple of coconut margs and snacks for the girls.

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It was absolutely beautiful up there.

Dinner was enjoyed on our patio. Grilled rib-eyes and wine, while the girls splashed in the hot tub.

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After bath and pajamas, we indulged in S’mores while the sun went down.

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The next morning we woke up and headed out for a hike to “Heart Rock”.  We had zero phone service by the time we got to where we thought the beginning of the trail was but it turned out we were in the wrong spot. Luckily other people were in the same predicament and working together, finally managed to find where we needed to be. Unfortunately, Averi decided she was done with nature and her mood went to shit.

There were loads of Ladybugs all over the place, to the point where it was actually making my skin crawl.

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About a 1/4 mile up the trail Averi had given up and I had to carry her. I wanted to throw in the towel and just let Shane and Kaili finish it,  but Shane talked me into continuing. We took turns carrying the little terrorist to the end. We didn’t really get to explore the waterfall or the heart shape rock since the girls were well, you know.

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Kaili did a great job and had a lot of fun, that is until I told her I wanted to take her picture. Tell me how you really feel Kaili.

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Shane carried Averi all the way back to the paved road where she managed to use her two feet to make it to the truck.

We were all famished and ready for lunch so we stopped at a highly recommended Mexican spot that sits cliffside the mountain. The food was really good as were the views.

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After lunch, Averi’s mood lifted so we headed down to the village for some play time.

The girls finally got to go on a few the rides, something we have been hearing about nonstop since we arrived.

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The pirate ship was the clear favorite.

Then it was our turn, we sat outside and had margaritas while the girls had ice cream.

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We wandered up to the grocery store for some goodies to build a charcuterie board for dinner.

Once the girls were down for the night, we sat outside enjoying our meal when a visitor let himself into our yard.

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We tried calling the number on his tag but no one answered. Shane said he remembered seeing this dog the last time we were here so while he walked down to that house, Zuess and I enjoyed some cured meats. Then he was happily reunited with his owners.

Sunday morning after some espresso’s made with my new Staresso, which I LOVE, we went back down to the lake for lunch.

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We shared some appetizers and a few cocktails, which were all really good.

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A neighbor of the house we were staying at invited us to a block party later that afternoon. It was an interesting group of people and after an hour or so of chatting, we had had enough and decided to head back to the house to try and eat up some leftovers.

Before heading home Monday morning, we took once last glimpse of the lake. We left beautiful weather and headed back into town welcomed by a grey sky and cooler weather.

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It’s always a good time up there and I am ooking forward to enjoying a Christmas in Lake Arrowhead some time in the future.

Mother’s Day

I hope all you wonderful moms had a great Mother’s day. We earned this holiday! I grew two  human beings inside of me and went through hell to get them to exit my body in a safe and timely manner. Then there is the aftermath of the birth, the NICU, the bleeding, the pain!  Being a mom is hard and it definitely takes a village. But we do it, everyday. We, you and me, we are badass!

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Kaili made me the sweetest Mother’s day gift at school. She knows me pretty well.

Saturday I was taken out to brunch at my favorite of the Brian Malarkey restaurants, Herringbone, where “fish meats field.”

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The atmosphere in the place is just amazing.

We decided to graze through a bunch of dishes that we normally wouldn’t order for brunch. Settling in with the endless Rosé, we started with oysters.

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I am a huge seafood cheerleader. I have had oysters before and eh, they are fine. I don’t get all the hype, especially when someone says they love them. Wait, do you like the taste of a fresh plain oyster or do you like to dump all the fixings on it? Because I feel like you’re not really tasting the oyster when its dripping with horseradish and lemon juice. Anyways….Here is Shane’s first time trying a raw oyster.

Pretty underwhelming reaction huh? Thats pretty much how I feel about them too.

Next we tore into a perfectly piping hot basket of beignets. We kept having to swat the kids hands away. Back up ladies, eat your eggs, these are ours!

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For our third course we decided on the whole fish ceviche. Basically a raw crudo of Branzino. It was amazing. So fresh and clean, like eating the ocean with bits of chili and micro cilantro for a proper punch and crunch.

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The girls were being so very good. I think this is a first time in a long time that they were this good at a restaurant. We decided to go with it and try one more dish while they were on this best behavior kick.

The lobster roll. I have yet to have a really good one in my 40 years so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

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But this, this was delicious. The lobster wasn’t hidden under globs of mayo, it was left to shine. The brioche bun was pillowy soft, buttery and melted in your mouth. I was so surprised with how much I liked it.

There was some live music in the front of the restaurant, we took our wine and went to listen for a bit. The girls played around patiently waiting for us while simultaneously asking for ice cream every two minutes.

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This entire meal from the kids, to the food was perfect. By far the best dining experience I have had in a long time. Since we know I am picky when it comes to dining out, you should all stop by Herringbone if you are in La jolla. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

 

Radish Couscous with Pistachios and Mint

I am crushing hard on Israeli couscous right now. It’s the perfect vessel to deliver all the flavors while lending the perfect pearl of chewiness.  The textures in this dish are meant to be and the punch of mint is where the magic happens. I am pretty confident that if you were to throw in some golden raisins, it might be even better.

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The first time I made this, I used the well known red radish that you can find at pretty much any store. fullsizeoutput_104

This time, Farm Fresh To You was featuring watermelon radishes for this weeks delivery, so…..

Watermelon radishes do not taste like the summer melon. They have a mild flavor but visually resemble the fruit with their green exterior and rich pink middle, such a pretty vegetable.

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It doesn’t matter what type of radish you use, actually go ahead and use a bunch of different types, types you have never tried…what do you have to lose?

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Ingredient

cup uncooked Israeli couscous

small shallot, finely chopped

1/4cup olive oil

tsp lime zest

1/4 cup lime juice ( about 2 limes)

kosher salt to taste

pepper to taste

bunch radishes of your choice  (about 12 ounces), chopped (2 1/2 cups)

1/2 English cucumber, chopped (1 cup)

1/2 cup roasted, salted pistachios, coarsely chopped

1/2cup chopped fresh mint

 

Directions

Cook couscous according to package directions. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl whisk together shallot, olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, salt, and black pepper.

Stir in couscous, radishes, cucumber, pistachios, and mint.

Taste for seasoning and then let sit in the refrigerator for an hour.

Taste for seasoning again. Enjoy!

 

This is Six

Ok, let me lay it straight….we spend way too much money on kids birthday parties. That. is. all.

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I mean, really? Have you seen such a bounce house? But let me tell you, it got a lot of use from the kids and some of us adults.

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There was a salad, pizza, cupcakes (recipe here) AND cake and plenty of fun to go around.

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We laughed and played for a good four hours.

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I would say Kaili’s sixth birthday was a success. We had a great handful of friends to help us celebrate, some old and some new. Next year, Kaili needs to share the birthday party love with her sister.

Roasted Whole Fish

I have always loved dining on a whole roasted fish, faces don’t scare me. I mean I sucked the brains out of a chicken head in China! But cooking a whole fish was intimidating because one….how do you know it’s really a fresh fish, aside from the eyeball test…and two….. where do I get a whole fish from? Well, luckily we found a local wholesale fish market that serves all the finest local restaurants here. Catalina Offshore is where all the chefs go to get their seafood, so now when I eat at a restaurant and I order an amazing Branzino or Salmon, I know where they got it. Priceless in my opinion. Not only because you know exactly what you are putting into your body and where it came from but NOW, I know that I can also make that same dish, just as good, for a lot less chaaaa-ching!

We all know I have talked Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook to death, but in all seriousness, I think she and I share palates. I could cook through the book and probably not be disappointed in anything. When I decided on cooking a whole fish for the second time in my life, I wanted to do what she did, clearly can’t go wrong!

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Team Players

1 (2 lb.) whole fish, white striped bass or branzino

Kosher salt and pepper

15 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 Tbs olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 lemon, sliced

3-4 springs of herbs, thyme, rosemary, sage

1 lbs heirloom tomatoes, slices or cut into wedges

 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup. ( just do this with anything you roast)

Place fish on the foil lined sheet and season like its your job all over with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes and then rub it all over and inside the fish.  Place the lemon rounds inside the cavity along with the herbs.

Arrange the tomatoes underneath and around the fish, then drizzle the whole party with olive oil.

Roast until fish is flaky, 20 minutes should be perfect.

Serve right away.

AND don’t forget the fish cheeks, the best bite of the entire fish!

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Eggscellent

Where do the days go?  One day it’s Easter and now I am rushing around to get everything for the almost six year olds birthday party.

Speaking of Easter, we had a pretty low key day. Early Saturday morning Kaili woke up sick. There is nothing like slipping in vomit with bare feet after you’ve taken half of a sleep tab, seriously the best! (keep that in mind my young friends.) She woke up with a fever and zero energy, unfortunately she missed her best friends birthday party that day. She seemed to pep up towards the end of the day and we were hoping she would be good for Easter.

The girls woke to their baskets delivered to our door step by the bunny, thank you for the one who gave me that idea. Kaili seemed a lot better, they tore through the baskets, ate breakfast and then set out on hot pursuit for hidden goodies in the backyard.

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The girls were invited to an Easter party by a school friend, once we decided Kaili was up for it we headed out.

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From here you’ll just have to take my word for it because I tucked my phone away for the entire party. The family was very nice, they had waaaayyy too much food, but they also had alcohol so…. We helped hide over hundreds of eggs for the hunt, which was over in minutes. All the girls had so much fun and there was a tad of resistance when we told them we had to go.

For dinner I made a fancy shrimp scampi that was a lot more work than I normally do and although the shrimp were plumper being poached, the taste was pretty much the same.  Maybe I will share the recipe some time. I do have a brilliant whole fish recipe for you, courtesy of Chrissy Tiegen! Coming soon.

 

Sicilian for a Day

I took my first Sur La Table cooking class last weekend. The theme was exploring Sicily which is one place in Italy I have not been. There were six of us in the kitchen and it started out with our chef walking us through the footprint of the class.

After a brief introduction and a quick knife skill refresh for some (obviously not me because I am amazing) we started on our first course.

Caponata, the Sicilian sweet and salty version of ratatouille. The longer it sits the better it gets. Served on a toasted baguette with a drizzle of olive oil, it makes a wonderful starter.

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Second course was a Fennel and cara cara orange Insalata, now I am pretty sure those oranges are not Italian but…..I kept my mouth shut.  Raw fennel isn’t my favorite, I much prefer fennel seeds, but this salad shined.

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The main course was grilled hanger steak with castelvetrano olive tapenade. The castelvetrano olives are Sicily’s most used bright green snacking olive. It has a meaty, buttery and mild flavor, absolutely delish.

We marinated the steak in olive oil, lemon, garlic, fresh herbs and red pepper. Showered it with flaky sea salt and then grilled to our liking, rare obviously.

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The tapenade started with poaching some garlic in olive oil and then we sat it aside to cool. The olives, capers, anchovies, lemon and red wine vinegar all got to know each other in the food processor. Just enough to marry the flavors but still have some texture. It paired very nicely with the grilled steak.

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Dessert was Cannoli tartlets and we actually started them early in the class. We made a basic pastry crust with the addition of some marsala wine. It hung out in the fridge for a half of an hour before we rolled out the dough and cut into small circles and then pressed them into a muffin tin. They baked for about 20 minutes until golden brown and firm.

The filling for the tartlets was a delicious mixture of mascarpone cheese, ricotta, vanilla bean paste, zest of an orange and powdered sugar all whisked together until combined.

The filling was spooned into the tartlet shells and then we sprinkled chopped dark chocolate pieces and pistachios on top. It was very tasty.

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It was a really fun class and I am looking forward to taking another one soon. At the end of class our chef asked me if I was a spy for the Food Network, I asked her why she thought that and she said it’s because my knife skills were great. Insert told you so.

I have already remade the hanger steak and it might be one of my favorite cuts right now, absolutely buttery and delicious.