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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

This is Six

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

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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.

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

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We laughed and played for a good four hours.

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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!

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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!

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This Weather

We have had a good run with the weather lately and yes I am bragging. My winter tan is coming along nicely, thanks for asking.

We have been spending time outdoors with friends, playing, eating and just enjoying life.

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A friend and I took our girls to Seaport Village for a Sunday Funday. We ate ice cream, rode the carousel and enjoyed the day.

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Kaili’s class had a field trip ton probably the best day of weather ever. I volunteered to help, my friend and I had a small group of girls to chaperone for a day at the San Diego zoo.

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I think we made a lot of ground, saw a lot of animals in the day. But it was hot and the girls   ended up just wanting to be done walking and to see the petting zoo.

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So we hiked our way through the treetops to get them all safely to the petting zoo, which is really just some goats…..but they were happy.

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We spent the last 30 minutes of the day playing on the playground and eating churros and then the kids were whisked away via bus and us adults went on our way. It was exhausting but so fun!

Averi and I have our new shopping routine. We head to Hillcrest where we can hit Trader Joes and Ralphs in a one-stop shop.

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She loves the ride up!

Then we spent the entire weekend in the sun, in the warmtub and just loving these sunny days.

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Averi wasn’t her normal self Monday and she ended coming down with some stomach bug. But on the tail end of it we landed at the park for a couple of hours,  I almost lost my daughter to the sandman.

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I hear it’s supposed to rain next week. Good thing I have a head start on my sunning!

 

Pan Seared Halibut with a Yogurt, Blood Orange + Saffron Sauce

This recipe came together over a day.  I ended up having all the ingredients on hand, and it worked out very nicely.

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Ingredients

1/2  cup plain yogurt
Salt and pepper
Hefty pinch of Cayenne pepper
1/2 shallot, peeled and minced
1/2- 1 tsp. saffron threads
Juice of 1/2 blood orange, or to taste

2  halibut fillets
1 Tbs butter + 1 Tbs olive oil

In a small bowl,  with a fork whisk yogurt together with salt, Cayenne and shallot. Rub saffron between your fingers to crush it, then stir it into the yogurt mixture. Let sit for about 20 minutes . Before cooking the fish, add the blood orange juice, taste, and adjust seasoning.

Season halibut with salt and more Cayenne, (if you don’t like spicy, replace with white pepper or cracked ground pepper). Place butter and olive oil in large nonstick skillet and turn heat to medium high. When the butter melts, add fish, sear for about 4 minutes then turn. Continue to cook for another 4-5 minutes until done.

Serve fish warm or room temperature, with the yogurt sauce on top. Add extra Saffron or Cayenne , if you wish.

I served this over wild rice and riced cauliflower along some farm fresh roasted carrots.

Birthday

How am I 40 years old? Not sure I am okay with it, definitely  don’t want to talk about it.

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We were lucky enough to escape for a full 24 hours! We being me and Shane, no kids allowed. All that was set in stone was dinner and brunch reservations, the rest was…whatever the hell we wanted.  We checked into our hotel room downtown about 4:00 and then to Little Italy where Brian Malarkey’s latest restaurant aka our dinner reservation was. We started at a wine bar that was packed, luckily we got ourselves a table and a nice long chat with the owner.

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The weather was crap, not the day to just stroll from place to place so we needed a game plan. We booked it around the corner to Juniper and Ivy. An amazing restaurant by the brilliant Richard Blais. We cozied up with some wine and just perfect bites of food.

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Pork belly at it’s finest!

The worst part or maybe the best part is that I didn’t take more than two pictures. We just enjoyed the night. Looking back I wish I had, and I knew I should but the moment took over that thought, do you feel me?

After a cracking experience at Juniper we headed around the corner to Herb & Wood. The menu is so great that I struggled to choose. I ended up ordering something I would never order, lamb bolognese with fresh pasta. Not going to dive into food reviews, it was good, not great and having been to all of his restaurants I still, hands down think Herringbone is the front runner.

After dinner we Ubured ( is that even a word? ) to a “supposedly” speak easy wine bar with an Alice in Wonderland theme. The idea was fun,  taking the stairs down to a grass wall that was actually a door. We sat at the bar and quickly realized it wasn’t an actual wine bar, more just a bar that had wine. The best part was the TV above us that was recording everyone coming down the outside stairs to the “hidden” doors. People are hilarious.

We moved on, now pretty good and buzzed we wandered into a bar with a live band. It was a good time but we both were ready for bed. I think we were in bed by 11:00 pm. Not bad for 40!

Our Brunch reservations were for 10:30…. I think. Wags picked us up at the hotel and we headed to Old Town to a restaurant we have never been to. The Tequila Factory,  a restaurant in a hotel in the heart of Old Town. We parked underground and it really was a mess trying to find the restaurant.  Once we reached the hostess she said we were 30 minutes late so we had to wait… unless we were okay with a few stairs. Shane looked to Wags’ and then back to the hostess, we told her we would be at the bar.

Finally we were seated out on the patio, the sun decided to show up. We had a good time, the food…eh,  everyone else seemed to be really enjoying it.

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A guitarist that has been working there for years  serenaded us for a few songs, one was Stairway to Heaven because Wags.

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Our bellies full we strolled through town wondering what we should do next when Old Town Saloon came into focus. An actual  21+ bar and I had never been there. We put money into the jukebox, quarters into the pool table and had a BLAST.

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I used to be good at pool, really. But now I am not. Shane won every game. Bullshit! 40 is in the bag!