I’m the Problem, it’s Me.

The irony of my blogs name….Finding time to blog has become an art to say the least. It’s been 55 days since I last posted here, not that I’m counting. I will feel my guilt tug at me and consider sitting down to tell y’all about what we ate or how we are all getting older…. but then I start to feel more guilty and just don’t…I am sure there is a therapist reading this with BIG thoughts.

In reality, I am back in the classroom and just wrapped up DRDP (Desired Results Developmental Profile) to prepare for conferences.

And now that is done, and I am ready to catch you up. Even though it’s been some days since we last chatted, I do remember saying that I was going to make a few of Jet Tila’s recipes out of his cookbook….and I did.

Obviously it was delicious as we knew it would be.

Shawna turned the big 49 and we took ourselves to Vegas to celebrate. Casey and Aileen gifted us a stay at the Golden Nugget so that is just what we did. We LOVE Downtown Vegas. Sure the big hotels with the fancy shit and $25 buy-ins might look nice, but dammit it’s not worth it. (insert Ted Lasso’s voice) They are great for certain shows and concerts but I promise you, the fun and the food is just as good downtown. The end.

Fun story happened minutes after this picture was taken. We were sitting at a great table outside ready to watch a country (cover) band that we quite enjoy. A man approached our table and said “I’ll give you $300 for your table.” Shawna replied with a “fuck you.” I mean it’s Vegas you guys….Then he pulled out $300 and she said, “babe, grab your shit, we are moving!” And that is how I saw my first ever bubbly vending machine.

We took that money and ran….to a pool table and sipped some bubbly with someone who could have been Lil’ John, and didn’t do half bad on the Roulette table.

Oh, I almost forgot Dancing Chucky, you’re welcome.

We also saw the Padre’s play, they lost but the food and weather were winners.

The girls like to make TikTok videos…. but just for us (no they don’t have SM or post this shit..over my dead body.) Anyhow, they liked this one.

We spent Easter Sunday at SeaWorld, we have SoCal passes and can go back and back and back until Averi conquers a roller coaster, little scaredy cat…Definitely not my DNA.

The only plus is that she holds all our stuff while we ride the fun ones.

It’s a phase right?

I think that brings us up to April. I hope to see you guys sooner than 55 days…Cheers!

Snow Day

Winter is not my jam. Snow, cold, rain, wet, all of the above, I don’t love….you know? However, the girls are fond of the rain and especially the snow. So to get it out of their systems, we had a snow day.

We drove far enough East until we hit snow and we let them run free.

After some snow angels, little snowmen and a lot of exploring….

A couple of hours later, they had had enough.

Perfect little snowy escape.

I much prefer to sit in the sun with a book…cat sometimes included.

Oh and off topic, if you are looking for a new cookbook that you’ll want to cook your entire way through, this is it.

Another one that I am obsessed with right now is this.

The girls are on a Korean BBQ/Bulgogi/dumpling kick so this book has done the work for our weekly dinner plans.

I am making a few of Jet’s recipes this week, I will report back.

Mushroom Pot Pie

You guys this recipe is ridiculously good. That’s all I have to say about it really, it’s just so good. The filling is almost like a thick soup and you could eat it with a loaf of good bread if you wanted. Pie crust was my favorite, puff pastry was good but didn’t hold up like the pie crust did. However, it really doesn’t matter because the mushroom gravy, if you will, is amazing alone.

I made this in individual ramekins but you could make this in a pie plate for a holiday dinner, it will get eaten up, I promise.

INGREDIENTS

4 ounces butter, divided

12 ounces mushrooms (I used cremini)

2 cups yellow onion, finely chopped

3/4 cup celery, finely chopped

1 cup carrots (about 1 small/medium), finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons brandy 

2 1/2 cups vegetable stock

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

leaves from 3 springs of thyme

1/4 cup packed Italian parsley, finely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 package frozen pie crust

1 egg, whisked

DIRECTIONS

Heat a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottom saucepan over low heat, then add 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the mushrooms along with a pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes, stirring every so often to release their natural juices and soften. Remove the mushrooms from the pan, set aside, and turn the heat down to medium-low.

Melt the remaining butter and add the onions, garlic, celery and carrots and sauté for about for 6 minutes or until soft, stirring periodically.

Stir in the flour and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the brandy, stock, cayenne, and your cooked mushrooms.

Bring to a simmer and stirring often, allow the sauce to thicken, about 5 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and remove from the heat. Add in thyme, parsley, salt and pepper. Taste for salt.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Divide the filling into four 8-ounce ramekins and place on a baking sheet.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the pie crust thin and cut 4 rounds approximately 1/2 – 1 inch larger than the width of the ramekins. Spray the rim of each ramekin with cooking or spray (or you can use your egg wash) and 1/2 inch down the sides. Top each ramekin with the pie crust rounds, folding the excess over and gently pressing it against the ramekins using a fork to help seal it to the dish. Brush the top of the dough with egg wash and use a small knife to poke 3 small holes in the top of each pot pie.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Allow them to cool for a few minutes before serving.

*Recipe adapted from Savory Simple

Race You

Last week I found myself at home instead of teaching a cooking class. That lead me to cook in my free time, obviously. Although I don’t have much photo proof to show you, I did indeed make some delicious food.
Pavlovas with lemon curd, scallops with an herb chili oil, esquites (Mexican street corn salad) and crab cakes with a remoulade.

The crab cake recipe that I use (Andrew Zimmern) is the only one I need, ever. Super simple ingredients, not loaded with filler, it lets the crab shine. It’s delish!

Shawna and I hit the Del Mar races. I had some luck on my side… finally.

Winner!

It was a fun day. The weather perfect, the views even better.

Our weather has been a consistent 77-80 degrees with humidity. Leaving us craving water in all forms.

We went to Mission Bay and the Plunge at Mission beach and then back to the bay. Seeking refuge in bodies of water.

I think it’s almost time for an adult poolside day. One where I’m not lugging snacks, chairs, boogie boards, water bottles and everything else that comes along with children. More like a good book and an adult beverage!

Cowboy Pasta Salad

This pasta salad is truly addicting. When I read the ingredients for the dressing, I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was. Creamy, tangy, sweet and as spicy as you’d like depending on if you’re feeding adults or children…or adult children.

The girls and I made this again at home. I went a bit heavier on the heat by also adding some cayenne pepper. I thought about adding some bacon, but honestly it’s good as vegetarian side dish.

We had it for dinner, it’s just as good as the first time.

The next day, I tore some arugula and added it to the pasta salad. I suggest trying this too!

Cowboy Pasta Salad

Ingredients

1 lb. bowtie pasta

Olive Oil

1/2 cup mayo

1/4 cup your favorite bbq sauce

1 tbs spicy brown mustard

1 tbs Worcestershire sauce

1-2 tsp of your favorite hot sauce

2 ears of fresh corn

2 cups cherry tomatoes

8 oz. cheddar cheese, grated

8 scallions, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Arugula, if you want.

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta per box instructions, drain in colander.

Put cooked pasta in a large bowl and drizzle with evoo, so the pasta doesn’t stick together, set aside.

Husk the corn and cut kernels off the cobs. Add corn to pasta.

Halve the tomatoes, add to pasta.

To make the sauce, whisk the mayo, bbq sauce, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce in a medium bowl until combined. Add the sauce to the pasta, tomatoes and corn, toss to combine.

Finely chop the green onions, add to pasta. Top with the grated cheddar cheese.

Taste for salt and pepper.

Enjoy!

Baking with Kids

The second session of my cooking class was International baking. I had 4 girls, all 8 years old (it can’t get much better than that).

We started off the first week making Venezuelan Alfajores sandwich cookies, Albanian cornbread with feta and green onion. Indian Nankhatai cookies and South African Karringmelkbesuits.

Since they were only 8, they were more about the creating, than the outcome. So I would invite them to use their creativity, after we completed the recipe.

This is one of the girls hand made cookie.

Each of the girls reminded me of our Aves, she would have loved being in this class.

I decided to start each day with a different approach, than I did with my cooking class.

I would find a book on video that had a story about a country that we were going to “visit” or a food that resembled one we would be making. They loved it.

And if you don’t know about StoryLine Online, and you have kids, you have to check it out!

The next week we made Egyptian butter cookies and Lithuanian sour cream pockets.

The sour cream pocket recipe did not work, something was off…

But who cares.

Next, we made mango cupcakes, and stuffed Georgian cheese breads.

I was really excited about this next recipe.

Mongolian sesame flat-bread crackers with a cream cheese spread.

But somewhere along the way, the soy sauce was heavy handed in the spread and it was too salty…inedible

But I will make that again.

We also made a really good cheese pizza.

And a not so good Romanian Easter bread.

The last day of class, I asked them to make something from the ingredients that we had left. Chopped style. They put so much heart into it. But…

You guys, this raised my blood pressure.

I just can’t with chaos.

But, they did so great.

They all used cocoa powder and chocolate chips.

Most of it wasn’t edible.

But that wasn’t the point. The point was to give them the freedom to create, with no boundaries.

I was very lucky to have that group of girls, It was such a great experience .

Dead and Company, Food Company

We get to see Dave Matthews in less than 45 days, I think…. Math is not my strong suit.

With the Dead and Company being on tour and Dave has finally gone out to tour this summer, I can’t help but remember THAT DAY.

May 20, 1995

I went to Vegas to see the Grateful Dead. It was hot, I wasn’t old enough to gamble and I remember being so afraid of being dosed with acid. You laugh, but we heard that squirt bottles had been dosed with acid, sigh. I walked into the outdoor stadium, it was sweltering, people were selling cold fruit, and squirting people with “water”, I put myself into panic mode, ha! But, then….this band came on stage and that was that. I fell in love right there. Soooo, I can NOT wait to see him live again with my favorite person.

Last Saturday I asked the girls what they wanted for breakfast. Being that we didn’t have pancake mix (no I am not making it from scratch, eye roll). They branched out. One asked for avo toast and another, toad in a hole (egg in toast). Extra, or kids who still need to dip everything they eat in a condiment, now insert eye roll.

I made a very good scallop recipe.

You had me at spicy herb oil.

Reality check. We can combine all of the herbs, add in some salt and some spice and we could pair it with anything. Steak, chicken, fish, pasta….seriously you guys, it’s so flavorful, and fresh and perfect for summer.

To give this dish a more Asian influence, add 1 tsp of sesame oil to the herb oil mixture.

This recipe comes from Chef Tory Miller

Pan-Seared Scallops with Heirloom Tomatoes & Spicy Herb Oil

INGREDIENTS

8 Jumbo Scallops

Salt, to taste

fresh ground pepper, to taste

2 Tbs Butter

Herb oil

1 Tbs fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 Tbs chopped fresh chives

1 Tbs chopped fresh mint

1 Tbs chopped fresh Basil

1 Tbs minced garlic

1 Tbs minced shallot

1 Tbs soy sauce

1 Tbs fish sauce

1/4 cup evoo

1 fresh Thai chili, thinly sliced

2 cups fresh, ripe cherry tomatoes

1 lime, halved

Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scallops and cook without turning or moving until they start to turn brown around the edges. Add the butter to pan. When melted, use the butter to baste the scallops to complete the cooking. Do not turn the scallops. This whole cooking process should take around 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and set the scallops on a paper towel lined plate.

To make the herb oil, mix all the ingredients in a bowl and stir well.

Arrange the tomatoes on a plate. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked scallops and drizzle with the herb oil. Squeeze the lime juice over the entire dish.

Enjoy!

Cooking with Kids

A few months before our trip to Greece I landed a gig to teach a summer cooking class to kids. The days, times and location worked out brilliantly with our schedules. I was given all of the recipes for the cooking session, then I went shopping for the ingredients on the Sunday before class or that Monday morning. There is a Pavilion’s right near the school, that was so handy! The company dropped off bins full of the cooking utensils and tools I should need beforehand, so all I had to do was unpack the groceries and prep for the class.The plan was to teach two separate sessions, three weeks each. The first session was a cooking class the second was a baking class.

My cooking group consisted of 3 boys and 3 girls, ages 6-11 and they were awesome!

Each day we made two dishes/recipes. I would get to the site early and prep all of the ingredients (mis en place), the cooking equipment we would be using, and presented it on a table for easy accessibility. I wrote on each recipe card who was going to do what. Little Billy (names have been changed) will cut onions, Rose will grate cheese and so on and so forth. That way I knew that everyone was participating throughout the entire class. After a quick demo of what we were going to make and asking them about some of the ingredients, we dove in. I didn’t do any of the cooking, they did it all. I guided them, I handled the hot oven, any boiling water and the washing of knives, but other than that, they did it all. And man, they kicked ass!

The first week we made.

Gumbo, flapjacks, carrot casserole, porridge bites, egg casserole, spinach mac n cheese, Spaghetti with meatballs, and omelettes.

They were pretty good eaters. I will say that by the second week, one girl was begging to stop using onions, HAHAHA! I feel like every recipe called for onions.

When we were done with both dishes of the day, we sat down and ate together. I would bring in juice mix and they would take turns making a pitcher of lemonade or fruit punch, yes, of course it was sugar free, not my first rodeo lunatics. Then, if we had any free time before the class ended, we would play heads up or trivia or maybe just draw Whatever they wanted to do as long as it wasn’t swinging from the rafters or playing chase, boys, I am looking at you.

The second week we made;

Mash and gravy, meatball stroganoff, brussels sprout and parmesan salad, hot dogs with a veggie chili, Naan personal pizzas, macaroni and cheese and a fruit salad.

This pasta recipe, you guys, was soooooo good. I know it doesn’t look great and honestly when I read the recipe I wasn’t sold. But it’s good, guilty pleasure BBQ side dish good.

I will share the recipe.

The final week we made said pasta salad, pizza pockets, veggie sushi rolls and eggs with pico de gallo.

It was a great first round of cooking.

Mostly July

We had a low key 4th of July. The clubhouse had a BBQ and games which were fun for the kids.

Averi won a few things, Limbo and the belly flop…I think, which is so ironic.

We did some local wine tasting.

I took the girls to inflatable world which had water bouncy slides. Kaili was sure we wasn’t going to get wet.

The girls made tomato sauce for pizzas.

We went to the beach.

That about wraps up July. Aside from my summer cooking class, I will tell you all about it next.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

When it comes to Tortilla soup, there isn’t a right way or a wrong way to make it. You like what you like and as the master of your own kitchen, you get to decide how you want it. Tomatoeyy, creamyy, brothyy, chunkyy. I personally like a silky broth with bits of chicken and then topped with avocado, tortilla strips and cilantro. So that is what is what we have here.

I took a can of diced tomatoes, 3 garlic cloves diced, one small onion diced, and a diced serrano chili, and heated them in a pan with some olive oil. Once they were glistening like you are bathing in the Mexican sun, I tossed them into a blender, added 2 corn tortillas and 2 cups of chicken broth and pureed until smooth. I poured the blender mixture into my dutch oven over medium high heat. Next, I added 2 tablespoon of taco seasoning, and one more cup of chicken broth. I let that hang out for a few minutes and then threw in about 1 1/2 cup of shredded rotisserie chicken and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. The key is to keep tasting the soup as it cooks. Does it need salt, spice, acid? You are the only one who can answer that.

I added a tablespoon of sour cream and a 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro. Then I tasted it again for seasoning.

If you like what you have, ladle into bowls and garnish with avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, cilantro, a squeeze of lime and jalapeños if you like it spicy!

It’s good, multiple meals worthy of good. For someone who doesn’t love leftovers (raises hand), this one is solid.