Raise that Money

You guys, we have fifth graders…. 5th graders, that is absolute bullshit. I had lunch today with my uncle and he brought up a memory that I had completely forgotten about. In 2011 San Diego had an unprecedented and unplanned power outage. I vaguely remember trying to put a five month old

baby to bed, in the dark with no power. We live on sound machines, so I am not sure how I survived that, probably with wine.

Anyhow, now she is finishing her last year of elementary school and that makes me feel all sorts of ways.

To raise money for their fifth grade promotion, the girls volunteered at their school craft fair selling food. They loved it, they would have worked until sun down. Even Averi got in on the action, amazing, ask them to help around the house, and I am a mean mom, but at school, it’s a holiday.

They were able to raise over $1,000, so the hard work paid off. They were rewarded with free room and board.

That was the tail end of the busy week I was talking about. It was nice to see other parents that we’ve missed, we talked to the girls old, that doesn’t sound right….the teacher they had for Kindergarten? You know what I mean right? Well we chatted with her for probably an hour, and I was lucky enough to meet Averi’s teacher, in person, and see her classroom. Funny how we aren’t allowed on campus during the week but on Saturday…. Speaking of that, all the girls have gotten their first dose of the vaccine, they should be fully vaccinated by Christmas. Jesus is clapping, be like Jesus.

I celebrated getting through the week with this.

A Thai Tornado with Tiramisu foam from Ding Tea. I can’t begin to try and explain to you how GOOOOOOD this is, it’s just, so good! And rich, I put half of it in the fridge for the next morning and then when I was prepping dinner, it fell to the ground and SPLAT, I cried. So, we now have a date with Ding Tea on Friday.

Actual People?

You guys soccer fans? No? Cool, cool, well anyways, here is a little update anyhow, our U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) beat Mexico, Dos a Cero (that means 2-0) in the World Cup Qualifiers. If you aren’t sure about the history of the U.S. and Mexico rivalry referred to as Dos a Cero, then I won’t bore you with the details.

Anyways, it was fun night, good food, good people, great game.

Then it was straight into a busy week.

I was in the middle of a Peloton ride when the instructor said, “I am going to stop talking so you can be present with yourself.” My brain went straight to how much people-ing I did the past week. I don’t really have too much interaction with actual people (family doesn’t count) since Covid. Most of it is via text or email, but last week it seemed that I had somewhere to go or a meeting with someone each day. It’s quite overwhelming and I understand the anxiety some people are probably experiencing. Anyhow, I just wanted to say that if life is sometimes hard, I get it.

To help ease the busy constant that is keeping children alive, I put the kids to work.

Averi helped me make chicken piccata, which in the end, she wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. Seriously infuriating.

We also made Polvorones aka Mexican wedding cakes. When I was going through my binder of saved recipes to find the enchilada casserole recipe, I found this recipe.

You guys, this recipe is straight out of a college Mexican cooking course.

All of the girls helped. All of the girls tried the batter except….ya Averi. She was eating the pecans out of the bag but refused the batter.

But, they all thought the cookies were delicious, so that’s a win. Although, it shouldn’t be a win because they’re effin cookies, right?

Remind me Again

I’ve had a week long hiatus from classes, so now I am doing my best to catch up on life’s moments. However, I have been struggling with MO-MEN-TIA {MO’men(t)SH(ē)A}. “A persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by one or more children marked by memory disorders, personality changes and impaired reasoning.” In other words, losing my memory, madness due to said loss of memory and slight insanity. The worst part, I can’t blame it all on the the kids, I am doing it all on my own. Age I suppose? Too many balls in the air, I am not the best at compartmentalizing. I’m not even sure what I was going to write today, I had an idea, sat down at my computer, and then I was asked what 9 x 30 was. So obviously, I had to stop and ask Siri. The next thing I knew, I was up and preparing tomorrow’s lunches, then I put the girls stuff in the wrong backpacks. Luckily they caught me before they were stuck in class with the wrong lunch. I find myself having to go upstairs multiple times because I forgot what I went up there for in the first place. And, last weekend, I even forgot to feed the girls breakfast. I just went ahead with my morning workout and then Kaili comes in and asks me when she could have breakfast, uh crap, breakfast… So just in case I forget, I have ribs in the oven and cookies to bake.

Before our cruise, we all {sans kids}went out to dinner to celebrate my mom and uncle Brian’s birthday.

I’d like to tell you what we had but I’m not sure anymore, I know there was dessert.

I also took two of the girls out for a lunch date in Bay Park. Kaili ordered fish and chips, which were so good, Averi ordered….wait for it….mac and cheese, which she didn’t like because she is an animal and doesn’t like anything. I had poke, always the poke.

I found this picture on my phone later that day.

I think my original plan was to tell you guys about a recipe. This is an old Cooking Light recipe that I couldn’t even find on their site anymore. I have the recipe printed out, old school style.

I’ll tell you what, I had this dish prepped and in the oven in about 20 minutes. The fact that it can feed a handful of people and/or make for leftovers, it’s a perfect weeknight meal.

Obviously over the years my culinary talent has improved and I have become one with the kitchen. Since this is an old recipe, I made changes to suit our palates. Originally the recipe called for reduced fat cheese…um no thanks. Instead I used half shredded pepper jack and half Mexican blend. I changed the type of beans, the cheese, the oil and even the tortillas. You do you! Let this recipe be a starting point and then go for it. It’s a casserole, it will be so good in the end, no matter what cheese or sour cream you prefer.

The chicken is the most time consuming part of this recipe. If you can grab a rotisserie, you’ll save yourself an hour.

Cooking Light’s Chicken Enchilada Casserole

1 tablespoon canola oil (or olive oil)

1 cup chopped fresh onion

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

Pepper to taste

1 (15 ounce) can white Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (black beans are just as good)

2 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken

1 cup thinly sliced green onions, divided

1/2 cup sliced ripe olives, divided

18 (6-inch) tortillas, divided (corn or flour)

Cooking spray

2 cups (8 ounces) preshredded reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided

1 cup 1% low-fat milk

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 (16-ounce) jar salsa verde ( I used a medium spice level)

10 tablespoon sour cream, you can use light sour cream.

Cilantro sprigs, for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°

Grab your 13 x 9 inch baking dish and spray with cooking spray.

Heat your oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion; cook 3 minutes or until tender. Stir in cumin, chili powder, garlic salt, and pepper; cook a couple more minutes. Stir in the strained beans; cook 2 minutes. Add chicken, green onions and half of the olives, stir well, and then remove from heat.

Layer 6 tortillas on bottom Spread 2 cups chicken mixture over tortillas; sprinkle with 3/4 cup cheese. Repeat layers once. Top with remaining 6 tortillas.

*Note, these measurements are completely at your discretion.

Combine the milk, chopped cilantro, and salsa in a blender, and process until smooth. Pour over top of tortillas. Cover and bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with remaining cheese, remaining cup green onions, and the remaining olives.

Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and you can’t wait any longer.

Serve with sour cream. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and your favorite hot sauce.

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!