Holiday Holiday

Somehow it’s already mid December, I have so much to catch you up on. Currently our Elf, Peppermint Sugarcookie is playing Twister with a few scantily clad and very limber Barbies.

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Every morning the girls give a full report on what trouble he got into the night before.

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Our neighborhood puts on a Holiday party each year. It’s the perfect time to meet the neighbors we never see and probably won’t see again until the next party. It’s also a great time for the girls to see Santa. Averi loves to get fancy for all occasions, she also loves to have her photo taken.

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Our Elementary school put on a Frozen movie night and of course the girls had.to.go. We saw Frozen 2 the day after it came out and that is all Averi can talk about. Frozen Fever. But the movie theater is different than the school auditorium. Drinks were spilled, bathroom needs were constant and the Avester decided she was “too tired” and stayed put even after the lights came on. Yep that’s my kid.

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The next day we spent swimming at uncle Casey’s new place. They decided to slum it for a bit and move to Coronado Island, sigh. The view is awful. And yes it looks cold, but the pool water was just fine….for the kids…and Casey.

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Since all three girls weren’t able to attend the holiday party, we went back to the mall for another visit with Santa and some quick shopping.

As luck would have it, when we went to walk the neighborhood Christmas lights, we ran into Santa again. What a tiring job he has. Luckily he will have cookies waiting for him as a reward, or treat? So many kids and cats, I can’t keep it straight.

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Averi’s teacher held a rehearsal for the Kinder Christmas show early so I could record it. The girls are heading up to WA with their dad this holiday and she’s missing the show. It was both super cute and painful at the same time. The first picture is when they just sat down in the auditorium, the video is 30 minutes later. Wrangling cats, that is another word for teaching Kindergarten.

 

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Chrissy’s Chicken Satay

I made this recipe on a whim. It was a what can I make that doesn’t require the grocery store recipe. Turns out I did have to run to the store for the pepper sauce ingredients, sigh…but this dish was totally worth dragging three children to the store. I definitely suggest you make all three recipes because all together it’s phenomenal. It has the makings of a really good salad. We have to talk about the peanut sauce real quick. I have made hundreds of different versions from using coconut milk, to heating all the ingredients. This one is the best I have ever made, and it’s so easy.

This paired well with a rosé and a soccer match. Kids optional

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Ingredients for Chicken Marinade

1 pound chicken boneless and skinless chicken thighs cut into good size pieces

8 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons brown sugar

4 teaspoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

14 oz. canned coconut milk

Ingredients for the Peanut Sauce

½ cup creamy peanut butter

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

3 tablespoons Soy sauce

1½ tablespoons Sriracha

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

 

Ingredient for the Sweet Hot Pepper Sauce

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon distilled vinegar

1 Shallot finely chopped

1 Fresh Thai Chile, minced

Kosher Salt to taste

Directions:

Marinade the chicken: In a bowl, combine the coconut milk, garlic, cilantro, brown sugar, salt, turmeric, and ginger in a bowl. Add the chicken and cover, and marinate for at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours in the refrigerator. *Soak wood skewers for at least 30 minutes before grilling.

Make the peanut sauce: In a bowl (or I used my bullet blender so I didn’t have to mince garlic) combine the peanut butter, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, Sriracha, vinegar, and 1⁄4 cup water, thinning with additional water if you prefer a thinner sauce.

Make the sweet hot pepper sauce: In a bowl, combine the sugar, 1⁄2 cup water, the vinegar, cucumber, shallot, and chile. Season to taste with salt.

Heat grill to medium high heat.

Thread chicken onto the skewers and grill until cooked through. About 5-6 minutes for side.

Serve with the peanut sauce and hot pepper sauce. Make sure you eat all three together and then  be prepared swoon. SO GOOD!

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Pavlova with Passion Fruit Whip and Mango

A little tidbit about me and this blog, the titles are the hardest part. So I apologize if you are underwhelmed with them, some days are better than others.

I have so many fond memories of my grandma. She loved me, she loved my grandpa, she loved to please and I am not sure if she loved to cook but that is one thing she was always doing, at least that’s one thing I remember. I remember fresh orange juice, scrambles eggs, homemade buttermilk ranch dressing, red hot cinnamon applesauce and strawberry shortcake.

Here is where it gets fuzzy. You see my grandma died before I was mature enough to really appreciate all that she was and did. But one of the many things I remember vibrantly is a dessert she made. Meringues with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.  I remember the dessert as “strawberry shortcake” but I may have made that up. However I have talked to my parents and they were no help, sigh. (LOVE YOU PARENTS)

This is where I am going with the story if you are nodding off; dad cough cough. As I grew older my friends, not naming names (Jess) told me about how they loved strawberry shortcake, I thought; OMG, (well I didn’t say that because I was only 10) I also love strawberry shortcake.  Turned out, their version of (can we condense it to SSC?) SSC was not the same as my memory of the dessert. Years and years went on and another SSC I did not order.

As time went on, cooking classes were taken and the words “Eton Mess and Pavlova” crept in. I wish so hard that my grandma was alive to answer all of my questions I need to ask her about one damn dessert. But since she isn’t with us anymore I must give you my own findings. The dessert was her own creation, half Pavlova (meringue dessert with a crisp crust and soft, light inside, usually topped with fruit and whipped cream) AND half Eton Mess. (dessert consisting of a mixture of strawberries, meringue, and whipped cream). I think the thing I am asking myself is this….how has it taken me so long to make this dessert? Such a strong fond memory but yet, so distant.

I put a tropical twist on it using passion fruit, mango and some dragon fruit. It was incredible.

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Meringues

6 egg whites, room temperature
1.5 cups white sugar
2 tsp corn starch
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice or distilled vinegar
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract

Combine cream, sugar and vanilla and nectar in a chilled mixing bowl and beat until soft peaks form. 
Smother your Meringues with passion fruit whipped cream and top with anything you want. I used mangos and dragon fruit but it will be good with anything or nothing at all. I promise.

 

 

 

 

 

Cheese & Cherry Tomato Puff Pastry Tart

Puff pastry, who doesn’t like puff pastry? It’s so versatile and can be used for anything. I usually have some tucked in my freezer just in case the urge to make this Tommy Tart recipe appears. I didn’t veer far from that recipe, but instead of using Boursin cheese, this time I used mozz, gruyere and parm.

Listen, this is recipe you need in your back pocket. When your neighbors, you know the ones you kind of like but don’t ever hang out with. They suggest you “stop on over” for some wine. And well, duh, if there is wine, then you are there! But you can’t show up empty handed. SO, you are welcome.

Here is what you are going to do, pull out the puff pastry you have in your freezer (see what I did there). Set it on the counter to defrost while you either, break up the siblings fight in the other room or struggle with the common core math that the 7 year old brought home. Now you really need that wine AND your puff pastry is now ready; set GO!

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Ingredients

1 sheet of frozen Puff Pastry

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped herbs, basil, oregano

1/3 cup  shredded mozzarella cheese

1/3 cup  grated Gruyere cheese

1/3 cup  grated Parmesan  cheese

olive oil + salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

The puff pastry needs to be defrosted, leave out on the counter for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the cherry tomatoes in half and place them in a colander over a bowl or in the sink. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and let drain as you prepare the following.

Place a sheet of parchment on a cookie sheet. Place the thawed puff pastry on a lightly floured counter.  Unfold the flaps.  Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the pastry and, with a rolling pin, just slightly roll the dough so the seams are not so prominent.  Transfer the dough to the baking sheet.

With a sharp knife, score the puff pastry all along the sides about 1/2 inch, to  make a small border.  Sprinkle the cheeses with the herbs and  top with the tomatoes. Drizzle with (good) olive oil.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden. Cut it up and now you have a dish to bring to (said) neighbor. Maybe they will invite you back or maybe they wont. Either way, it wont be this recipe that disappoints, just saying.

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October

Don’t blink, October is almost over. What the hell happened? I actually had to look back at the calendar to see what we did and it turns out, actually a lot. Maybe that’s why it flew by. We had family birthdays, kids half birthdays, pumpkin patches and an AWFUL bout of lice, not in that order.

We met the family in Old Town to celebrate my mom and uncle Brian’s birthday and my parents 49th <—- (rockstars) anniversary.

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We tried out two different pumpkin patches this year. The first one was near Julian. It had hay rides, cider pressing and a petting zoo.

The second one in Ramona was a pumpkin patch AND a winery. Everyone else is doing it wrong, this is definitely the only way to do pumpkin patches, or any kid activity honestly.

As always, October was a warm month so there was plenty of sunshine and pool days. We had fun weekends at the horse races and finding new hole in the wall bars. A lot of good food came out of the kitchen and the girls had school spirit week. October didn’t lack activities.

 

As we turn the corner we are smacked in the face with the Holiday season and I am not sure I am prepared, how is it almost 2020?

I leave you with this….

Pesto Zoodles with Burrata and Tomatoes

I almost forgot that my spiralizer existed. While cleaning my pantry I spotted it sitting lonely up on the top shelf. I promised myself to use it the next week. If you meal plan or prep ahead of time, this dish can come together in five minutes. Otherwise it might take a good twenty minutes or so; Choose wisely. With no cooking at all,  this dish is good way to feel like you are having a big bowl of pasta without the guilt.

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Ingredients (for 2-3 people)

3 zucchini, spiralized

1 to 1 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1 ball of burrata

Pesto

2 cups of fresh basil

1-2 cloves of  garlic (or more, don’t let me stop you)

1/3 cup of toasted nuts (you can use pine nuts, pistachios, almonds or walnuts. Do YOU)

1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese (grated)

1/2 cup of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Chopped pistachios to garnish

Directions

Put your spiralized zucchini in a big bowl.

Throw all the pesto ingredients into a food processor and blend until it’s to your liking.

Spoon as much pesto onto your zoodles for your taste and toss. Your hands are the best tool for this job.

Toss in your tomatoes.

Get your ball of burrata (SO delicious) tear it up and gently drop it all over.

Drizzle with your favorite olive oil and throw on some chopped pistachios. Taste for seasoning and then and serve. Voila.

 

Enchilada Meatballs

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I am not your number one meatball fan, just not my jam.  But the thing with this dish is all. of. the. flavors. And using a tortilla to soak these up with the addition of avocado’s and sour cream, so good you guys, so good.

Kaili wanted to be chef so the credit really goes to her, I was just her kitchen side-kick.

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This recipe is *adapted from Delish.

Kaili really surprised me with her determination to start and complete this dish. She cut, rolled and even taste tested enchilada sauces to determine the best one to use.

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Kaili’s take away from this dish was “I like the enchilada sauce and the meatballs but not the green stuff on top, and I like lots of sour cream!” See, I told you it was good.

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Ingredients

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup bread crumbs
egg
cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped (plus more for garnish)
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1  small onion, chopped
jalapeño, minced
(19-oz.) can enchilada sauce
1/2 15-oz.) can black beans, drained
Salt and pepper to taste
1 c. shredded cheddar
1 c. Monterey jack
avocado, sliced

 

*for serving:  Tortillas, sour cream, your favorite hot sauce.

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, garlic, cilantro, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Season mixture with salt and pepper, then form into meatballs about 2 inches in diameter.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add meatballs and cook to an internal temperature of 140 degrees , about 2 minutes per side. Remove from skillet and transfer to a plate while you make sauce.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet. Add onion and jalapeño and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in enchilada sauce and black beans and bring mixture to a simmer.

Return meatballs to skillet, tossing them in sauce. Top meatballs with cheeses and bake until beef is cooked through and cheeses are melty, about 15 minutes more.

Garnish with avocado and more cilantro. Serve with warmed tortillas and sour cream.