August

Does it seem like time is flying by? Somehow it’s the middle of August and back to school shopping has commenced. I really hope we make it and there isn’t a state wide “oh shit” and we all end up in lockdown again…sigh.

Still plenty of pool days.

A few weeks back we had a blast at Boots in the Park. It was an all day country concert at Waterfront park with five artists/bands. Our seats were amazing, the view was amazing and the reason we went, Old Dominion, were AHmazing! So much fun.

The fountains were on until the sun went down, it provided a cool down when needed.

Ryan Griffin
Dustin Lynch
Scotty McCreery

I made a couple of my favorite recipes to make for guests. One being Chrissy Teigen’s meatloaf from her cookbook Cravings. I am not a meatloaf fan, I mean….meat in a loaf, no thanks. I remember my mom making it when I was young and she put mashed potatoes on top, well I think that’s a memory. Anyhow, I had to douse mine in BBQ sauce to eat it. But this recipe has half ground beef and half spicy Italian sausage along with mushroom and onions. It’s really good, as good as meatloaf can get.

I also made this gazpacho, which is my most favorite of all time recipe for the cold Spanish soup. However, I did tweak a couple of the things from the original recipe to make it my own. It will not disappoint, I promise.

Here is what you need to do.

Grab 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled and wrap them in foil

3 large tomatoes (1 1/2 pounds)

1 medium cucumber ( I use

1 green anaheim pepper

1 red bell pepper

1 medium sweet onion, unpeeled

Throw all of the above ingredients and grill or roast until the skin in charred and they begin to soften. F&W says “about 8 minutes for the tomatoes, cucumber and bell peppers, 10 minutes for the garlic and 15 minutes for the onion.” However I think it takes longer, so allow 30 minutes for this.

Once they are cool enough to handle without you swearing as you burn your fingers, peel and discard any seeds or stems from the veg and then run a knife through them. Then toss them all in your food processor or blender.

Then grab.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1/4 cup chopped Italian Parsley and Basil, plus more for garnish

1 cup cold water

croutons

Salt and freshly ground pepper

While blending add the olive oil, then the vinegar (use sherry vinegar if you can). Taste for salt, i think it always needs more. Add the herbs and taste again. Pour into a big bowl, stir in the cold water and stick it in the fridge until cold and ready to serve.

Serve in individual bowls and drizzle with your best olive oil and garnish with herbs and croutons.

Then watch your guests happily slurp it up. It’s delicious

Please make this and tell me how much you LOVED It!

SummerTime

Are you all enjoying summer as much as me? I mean, all the soccer, warm weather, some fun little trips, dinners with friends and finally once again, the horse races. We have had some good wine, warm pool days, lazy river days, and even dark speakeasy drinks. It feels good to get back out and do things again.

We met my brother in Vegas awhile back for a few days. We found a really good deal at the Mandalay Bay and spent one day downtown and one day at the lazy river. There is a speakeasy in the basement of the Mob Museum. We found the password that we needed when we approached the side door. The little window opened and the bouncer asked “who told you that?” And Shawna replies “We ain’t snitchin’!” He says, “good, we don’t want any snitches in here.”

Once inside the cool air we settled down with a really good adult beverage.

Next up was the The Golden Tiki. We hit our reservation on the spot and luckily got three seats at the bar. Bar = video poker. Which I didn’t do too terrible at. This place is tucked into a strip mall in China Town and it’s SO unassuming. When you enter the small dark bar you leave the heat and cigarette smoke behind and enter into a rated R Disney meets a Margaritaville set in Tahiti. The menu is full of rum drinks, the bathroom wallpaper is naked women and the stall handles are phallic shaped. I mean even the fake parrot has a foul mouth, Jimmy Buffet would be proud.

Mai Tais on fire. If you are looking for something different to do in Vegas, I would swing by for a rum drink.

After a quick bite to eat, we hit Fremont for some music and Roulette. The next day we spent the day floating down the lazy river at Mandalay. It was a fun two-day getaway.

We have had fun and sun pool days.

And all of us girls were able to have playdates with friends that we haven’t seen in ages.

Shawna and I took a drive out to the desert, via the scenic route.

Is this a herd? A gang? I mean, Bison right? They were just following each other…. as a gang would…in Eastern San Diego, picture worthy but not mug shot worthy… luckily.

We hoped to wine taste on our way out there but it was a Wednesday and we weren’t in luck…Until we were.

In the mountains we came across Shadow Mountain Vineyards. Inside the tasting room we were greeted by Pamela, she stood behind an old wooden bar and asked us what we liked. This was the best wine tasting experience I have had in a long time. It turned out that Pamela and her husband were the winemakers and we got to chatting about good wine and pairings. Turns out that they used to own the first wine bar in Dana Point, small world.

Pam let us taste everything and I liked a lot of it, especially the rosé. We did not leave empty handed. The best part, it was still San Diego County. #drinklocal

We also learned that the cactus flower only blooms once a day and then it dies. Well, I think that is what Pam said but we did just finish a few tastings. Ha, you can google it and let me know if I am right.

Anyhow, here is the beautiful, once a day flower that Pam picked early that morning.

And it’s source.

AND FINALLY, where the turf meets the surf. I love the horse races and (knock on wood) I had a pretty good day.

Fun times, with more to come.

Watermelon Feta Salad

Watermelon feta…high, watermelon feta high. Did Harry Styles just get stuck in your head? You’re welcome.

This salad, you guys, is the epitome of a summer dish. Currently it is 79 and sunny in San Diego and this is all you need for lunch and or dinner, well a body of water and a glass of rosé wouldn’t hurt. It’s a perfect combination of flavors and the fact that you don’t have to turn on the oven, even better.

Just make it and then tell me how right I am.

Just look at all that deliciousness. You can assemble this salad however you like. Its good all chopped up in a bowl, but I was going more for presentation this time.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine

INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon Tabasco

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

One small seedless watermelon, scooped into balls or cut into 1 inch chunks1 cup Feta, cut into 1 inch chunks or crumbled

1/2 red onion diced

1 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves

salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, tabasco and half of your diced onion, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the watermelon and feta into a bowl or arranged on a plate, sprinkled with more red onion, drizzle in the dressing and sprinkle with chopped mint.

Even the girls jumped on the watermelon + feta bandwagon, it’s just too good.

Turning 7! Part 1

Between attempting to get the family together mixed with the fourth of July and summer camp turned Averi’s 7th birthday into a two part series.

Part 1-The Lion King.

Averi’s latest obsession is all things Lion King. After hours on Pinterest, I finally had a vision for the cake.

We got all of this from Party city and Amazon. Shawna’s talented fondant work made this cake. I am digging the ombre frosting look, I thought it worked great for the African sunset and the sky. I think It turned out pretty good.

How cute is this dress?

We have a tradition where the girls are NOT allowed into the kitchen and especially the fridge when we are making their birthday cakes. So it’s always a fun surprise.

Once the sugar went down we set up the slip n’ slide for the kids. Then we moved on to footy golf, which Casey dominated and Kaili didn’t do half bad.

A full day of too much sugar and over stimulation. I found Averi hiding out in the pantry.

Kaili ended up with a sour stomach and this is what I walked into when I checked on her that night.

Part II consists of more cake, more presents and the best part…. Great Wolf Lodge!

TO BE CONTINUED

A Way of Life-Chaat

You guys, our libraries are OPEN. I must say the book pick-up process has been pretty user friendly for the past year but I was so excited when I pulled up and saw the “we are open!” sign.

There was quite the wait list for Maneet Chauhan’s lastest cookbook Chaat, so when I finally got it, I couldn’t wait to dig in. After choosing a few recipes to try, then came the hunt for the ingredients. Not wanting to go to all of the stores looking for a few key ingredients, I improvised.

But first. Gouda turned 3 years old on July 4th. Part sweetheart part asshole, she didn’t even say thank meow.

Back to Chaat. I didn’t even know what chaat was, I just knew that there were different varieties out there, such as Paneer chaat and Aloo chaat. I found that the word describes a way of Indian life, more than just street food snacks. After more reading I learned that there are many regional variations of chaat but all of them have one thing in common. Each recipe of chaat has a combo of five essential components; the base, the sauce, the crunch, the vegetables and the umami. After that, the creative mashup is up to you.

We chose to make the Tabakh Maaz (twice-cooked caramelized ribs) and the Gajar ka Halwa (carrot pudding with pistachios and saffron). And obviously I would also make the cilantro-mint chutney because that is always a must at every Indian meal.

Back to the ingredient hunting. You guys, we have international markets on every corner but I could not find Paneer and I could not find lamb ribs. Turns out that paneer is easy enough to make and pork ribs would be a quick pinch substitute that would end in an abundance of food moaning.

I took an entire afternoon to make this meal, dipping into the sun every so often.

First up, make the cheese. Paneer, a farmer’s cheese made with milk, lemon and salt. That’s it, that’s the recipe.

Next was the carrot pudding, although the final product tasted amazing, the end result did not turn out how the cookbook promised. And no, it was not user error. Somehow grated carrot boiled in saffron, cardamom and milk was supposed to turn into a velvety pudding consistency. This did not happen and I even let it simmer for a lot longer than suggested. This picture is what I had after the recommended 30 minutes.

Nothing like pudding. I even used the emersion blender at the end but still no avail. This recipe just didn’t work, although it sure did taste good.

The cilantro-mint chutney came together in under five minutes, however I didn’t seed all five of the serrano’s because I like to live on the edge of pain.

Then we have the ribs. You guys, these are ridiculous. Once I got over the fact that I wasn’t making lamb, sigh, I went in open minded. These ribs are simmered in water with the addition of milk with a handful of spices; cardamom’s, cinnamon, tumeric, fennel seeds and of course garlic. Once they were “fall off the bone” tender. I let them rest until I admitted to myself that the carrot pudding was not going to in fact be “pudding”.

I heated a cast iron pan, added some ghee, and lightly sprinkled some cane sugar over the ribs (not in the recipe) and fried them until perfectly caramelized.

And then……

So now I have a new way of cooking ribs. I can’t wait to make this for friends and family, it’s that good. Next time I would like to make pork and lamb side by side. And the chutney, just smother it on the ribs or eat it by the spoonful.

This is a cookbook that I could definitely cook my way through, so many good looking recipes, even if the carrot pudding recipe was a lie. Ha!

Just Like That

The moment the children went back to school it seems that time sped up and now the last day of school is in two weeks. If you ask me what we did this past month I would have to really think about it, did we do anything (insert thinking emoji)? Realistically we did a lot, not even including our adult vacation.

We took Shayne to Mission Beach for a bit of rides and a sushi dinner. I was able to get a few pictures before the descent, the coaster is old and so am I. I hobbled getting off and had a headache….sigh.

However, give me a ride that spins and flips me around and upside down, I will take it, no complaints!

On Mother’s day, Shawna made us Chrissy Teigen’s sausage gravy over hash brown’s and runny eggs. Artery clogging deliciousness.

Brian and I FINALLY went to Brazil by the Bay. It was all so good and the pao de queijo was the best I have ever had.

For the first time in my life I made elote, so good, SO messy.

Trader Joes has a few new products that deserve praise. The crispy jalapenos are ridiculous. Every time I buy them the checker likes to tell me how they use them…”I put them on Mac n Cheese!” “They are so good on burgers!” Well, in my opinion, they are perfect just shoved straight into your mouth. Legit! Also, the new Chakri Indian snack mix is probably one of the best things I have gotten from them. It’s just different from anything on the shelves. It’s crunchy, a tad spicy and it has all these different spices that linger…just try it.

Before our trip we had family time. Good food and even better dessert.

I mean, really….this should be dinner!

This is TEN

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.

Happy double digits K bear!

Nerve Endings

It’s been over a year of not going to a park, playground or anywhere inside for that matter. Spending most warm weekends at the beach, the girls have finally realized that when we tell them that the ocean water is cold, they tend to believe us. Our pool finally opened and although we warned them that the water is going to be ice, they wanted to go with the boogie boards instead of the beach. Fast forward an hour, both Kaili and Averi were shivering while Shayne was still swimming and at that moment we wished for a playmate that also didn’t have nerve endings.

April 12th will go down in the books as the best day of 2021 as all of the girls finally went back on to campus for school. Almost 400 days you guys, sigh!

We celebrated back to school night with a mushroom galette and sticky rice with mango.

If you are one of those “I don’t like mushrooms” then I am sorry because this recipe was so DELICIOUS.

For dessert, I made sticky rice with mango. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like this dish, do you?

If you can, I suggest trying New York Times recipe but they are picky with what content they give out without an account…sigh. Otherwise, just grab a recipe and make sure you have ripe mango’s, coconut milk and the right glutinous rice. Then you are set!

I am currently simmering a Tikka Masala, stay tuned!

Who Does the Shopping for that Bunny?

For Peeps sake, the bunny that walks on two legs and lays Easter eggs overdid it on the girls baskets this year.


But it didn’t did leave any actual Peeps, or Reeses eggs, what gives? Who does the shopping for that bunny?

The girls had an abundance of sugar, new masks plus water balloons which made for a fun evening on a warm day.

I was in a bakey mood so I attempted a shot at a butterfly cake. It wont win any awards but the girls said it was “the best cake EVER” so I won no matter what.

The water balloons were put to good use, there may have been some tears, not mine but they did manage to get me soaked.

An anonymous neighbor leave three wooden bunnies for the girls to paint for Easter.

So we most definitely had our Easter art displayed.

Some Bunny Loves You!

Last but definitely not least, we made another 5 star Bon Appétit recipe.

Ramen Noodle with Spring Onions and Garlic Crisp

There is a bit of prep but it comes together quickly. I found the fresh noodles at the Ranch 99 market. In addition to the ingredients listed, I also added some toasted sesame oil (about 1 tsp.) and a dash of Shaoxing (Chinese cooking wine) to give it a little more Asian flare. We mayyybe went overboard on the serrano, it was spiiicy, but so good!

Don’t I know you?

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?”

Here is Averi in pig.