Sneaky

The other night at dinner Kaili had told me she finished all her hot dog. I told her she could grab her Halloween candy and pick something for a treat. Once the candy was ingested I went over to the table where I noticed a rather large amount of hot dogs on Averi’s plate. I knew that I never gave her that much so when I asked Kaili about it, she admitted she put her food onto sisters plate. Little sneaky shit.

We decided to battle the crowds at Balboa Park for December nights last Friday. The International houses were open and serving a few of their countries delicacies. As much fun as it would have been to linger longer and try more food, the amount of people with two little kids is an anxiety attack waiting to happen. I have learned that the older I get, the more I hate crowds and especially lines.

We really didn’t get much out of the experience aside from the girls going on a few overpriced carnival rides, free entry to a couple museums and a visit with Santa.

DSC_0715fullsizeoutput_37eDSC_0724

DSC_0734DSC_0753

We ended up leaving the park for a proper dinner and found ourselves at a very unpretentious old and quaint Italian restaurant for dinner called Volare. I haven’t been really excited about a meal out in a long time. Shane might tell you I order wrong but I just think I have become a tad snooty with my food. However, I did not order wrong here and everything I tried was delicious. We were not disappointed and I can’t wait to return.

 

 

Summer Moments

Kaili is finally getting comfortable in the pool. Between swimming with her friends and swim lessons, I am hoping she becomes a very strong swimmer.

We had a nice visit with friends and it took the sun going down to finally get everyone out of the pool.

IMG_2497IMG_2514IMG_2510fullsizeoutput_13a

The weather has been spectacular, making it very difficult to stay inside.

IMG_2526IMG_2519IMG_1399

I made an Indian feast for family using this recipe as my always go to for Chicken Tikka Masala. I made some Dal and Raita and bought Trader Joe’s frozen Naan and Samosa’s. We were all happily stuffed at the end of the night.

fullsizeoutput_158

I also made Chrissy Teigen’s Pineapple Grilled Shortribs and you guys, they were Ahhhhmazing. I will describe them as candied meat or a very tender and sweet beef jerky.

fullsizeoutput_15e

Kaili has her last swim class, it’s bittersweet. She really loves it and asked me if she could have a playdate with her instructor. Every day she gets a little bit braver.

Farewell Kindergarten

 

Well that was quick wasn’t it? Doesn’t seem very long ago that we walked her to school for the first day of Kindergarten. She loved it, made great friends and had wonderful teachers. We couldn’t have asked for a better way to kick off the elementary years.

IMG_2480

I won’t lie, having her in school from 9:am -3:45 pm everyday was pretty sweet. So now having her home all day is going to be an interesting challenge. I might  will have to call in my trusty helper wine to make the days go by a little easier. In reality it should be a pretty good summer with a nice break from the mundane as we take a trip up to Washington state…..For more wine!

I made the teachers a fun little gift bag that I’ve had saved on my Pinterest board for years. I am finally finding a reason to make some of these cute gift ideas.

IMG_2459

Inside I put a beach towel, sunscreen, chapstick, coconut body wipes, a fruit infuser water bottle, a magazine and a bottle of rosé.

We have enrolled Kaili back in swim lessons and although she’s only been to two of them so far, I am definitely seeing improvements. We’ve got to get this girl to swim or at least not drown, that is a great start.

IMG_2532

And to kick off summer, I took her to the salon for a new haircut.

Taking a few inches off and adding layers, I think it looks great. She is now ready for hot sunshiney days

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!

IMG_2191

IMG_2193

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.”

IMG_2197

IMG_2217

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.

IMG_2200

IMG_2213

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!

IMG_2216

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.

IMG_2209

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.

IMG_2218

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.

IMG_2204

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.

 

This is Six

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

IMG_7578

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.

DSC_7365DSC_7329DSC_7325DSC_7314

IMG_7549

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

DSC_7303DSC_7307

IMG_7562DSC_7371

We laughed and played for a good four hours.

DSC_7382

fullsizeoutput_f9

IMG_7594IMG_7603IMG_7610IMG_7615

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!

IMG_2012

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!

fullsizeoutput_f0

 

 

 

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.

fullsizeoutput_e8

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.

fullsizeoutput_ed

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.

fullsizeoutput_ec

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.

fullsizeoutput_ee

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.

fullsizeoutput_ef

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.