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.

 

 

Call it a Comeback

I apologize for my absence, it really hits you how boring life is when you have two kids in school. OR how AWESOME it is. I kid, I kid, sort of….

Averi finally picked up the whole potty situation, with a few here and there oopsies. She is in school four days a week and loves it. We had her first field trip to the Children’s museum and she had a blast.

IMG_0076

The amazing thing about Averi is she is very independent. She made her way through the museum doing her thing and didn’t worry about anyone but herself.

IMG_0103

I want to be like her when i grow up. Free and not giving a shit!

IMG_0161

Kaili has been doing great in first grade and she loves going to school each and every day.

IMG_0094

Her interest in cooking is emerging and I love it.

IMG_0055

These two keep me on my toes every single day. They are smart, funny and just plain awful sometimes….It’s not funny if it’s not real, right.

IMG_1800

 

 

 

 

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

Tomato Galette with Honey, Goat Cheese and Caramelized Shallots

I have made a few versions of a tomato tart but I have to say that as much as I love puff pastry, it’s hard to beat a good pastry crust. Now….don’t freak out and go buy a refrigerated pie dough. It takes less than 10 minutes and you have everything you need in your kitchen. If you don’t have flour, butter and salt on hand, then maybe you shouldn’t be making a recipe with the word “galette” in it, you catch my drift?

Galette is a French word describing a free form pie or pastry, basically saving you time and effort of fitting the dough perfectly into a pie tin. Also allowing you to pull off a fancy yet rustic and mouthwatering dish without much effort.

These ingredients all together make the perfect meal to kick off summer. Don’t forget your glass of wine.

IMG_2390

Ingredients

PASTRY DOUGH

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 to 5 tablespoons ice water

FILLING

4 Shallots, diced (about 1 cup)

2 tsps Extra Virgin Olive Oil + more for drizzling

8 oz Goat Cheese

2 – 3 Tbs Honey

3 – 4 Heirloom Tomatoes, sliced

1/2 tsp Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

2 Tbs Fresh Thyme

1 Large Egg, beaten

Directions

Blend together flour, butter, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender  just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps.

Drizzle 3 tablespoons ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork until incorporated.

When the dough begins to hold together (If it doesn’t hold together, add more ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring  until incorporated, then check again)  turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface.

Gather the dough and gather into a ball and then shape into a flattened disc. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least one hour.

While the dough chills, in a skillet combine shallots and 2 tsp of olive oil. Saute over medium-high heat until shallots are lightly caramelized (about 10 minutes), then remove from heat to cool.

Preheat oven to 375F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper, sprinkling the top with a touch of flour.

Using  a floured rolling-pin, roll out the chilled dough into a 1/8″ thick sheet, then transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet. Crumble goat cheese in all over the rolled-out dough but leaving a rough 2 inch border along the edges. Drizzle a good serving of honey over goat cheese, then evenly top with caramelized shallots. Layer the sliced tomatoes over the goat cheese and honey and then liberally season them with salt and pepper. Give a good drizzle of additional olive oil over the tomatoes, and then sprinkle with the thyme.

Fold up the edges of the pastry dough around the tomatoes, then brush the crust with the beaten egg. Bake galette for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the crust is golden and the tomatoes have begun to char, then cool for 10 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

 

The Wedge

Part of me was embarrassed to admit that I have never made a wedge salad before. But another part of me was like, ‘girl, you’ve been making a deconstructed wedge salad for years’…so I am good with this realization. Shane is a consistent orderer of the wedge salad, me, not so much. When I decided to make it, I really didn’t know what it truly consisted of, aside from Iceberg lettuce, blue cheese and bacon…really what else do you need?

After some minimally intense research, I found that I didn’t know the extent you could take the wedge salad to. Breadcrumbs, onions, tomatoes and it doesn’t end there. In reality you can add pretty much anything you want, eggs, avocados, chorizo, dried fruit, we could take this to a whole new level. However staying true to the wedge salad lovers, this is what I did and would do again and again.

*Salting the tomatoes drains excess water, saving your salad to have runny tomato juices throughout.

*Quick pickling the onions helps cut down the sharpness and allowing a more fresher flavor.

*I didn’t make my own blue cheese dressing, I always have some decent store bought in my fridge. Add a little milk to the pre-made dressing to lighten it up just a tad, this helps it spoon over the lettuce perfectly.

fullsizeoutput_136

Ingredients

2 small tomatoes, diced

Kosher salt

1 small red onion, minced

White wine vinegar, for soaking onion

4 ounces chopped bacon

2 ounces fresh bread crumbs (about 1/2 cup)

4 Tablespoons crumbled blue cheese

1 head iceberg lettuce, outer leaves discarded and quartered through core so that each quarter holds together

Directions

Set a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and add diced tomatoes. Sprinkle liberally with salt, and toss to combine. In a small bowl, add onion and pour enough vinegar on top to cover. Let tomatoes and onions stand while you prep the other ingredients.

In a small skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisped, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. You should have about 2 tablespoons rendered fat in the skillet. Add bread crumbs and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and season liberally with salt and pepper.

Arrange lettuce wedges on plates and spoon dressing on each. Drain quick-pickled onions and sprinkle all over salads, along with drained tomatoes, bacon, toasted bread crumbs and blue cheese.

Serve and enjoy.

*Recipe adapted from Serious Eats

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.

fullsizeoutput_11a

fullsizeoutput_11c

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.

fullsizeoutput_114fullsizeoutput_124

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

IMG_2293

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.

fullsizeoutput_127fullsizeoutput_12b

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

IMG_2301IMG_2300

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.

IMG_2339

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.

IMG_1349

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.

fullsizeoutput_12c

fullsizeoutput_111

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.

IMG_2312

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.

IMG_1365IMG_1369IMG_1372fullsizeoutput_12d

The pirate ship was the clear favorite.

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

fullsizeoutput_12ffullsizeoutput_133

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.

IMG_2334

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.

IMG_2344IMG_2347

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

IMG_2353

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.

IMG_2354

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.