How is everyone holding up? School is out so that has to be a little relief right? I was not in love with homeschooling our girls. We have been trying to keep busy with plenty of beach days, cooking and A LOT of games. Here is a glimpse at the past two months.
Last day of Kinder and 3rd grade.
Kaili helped me make Tzatziki, which we mopped up with beef kabobs and pita bread.
On the warm days we got shaved ice and wandered the beaches.
To escape the repetitious days, we headed to OC for a little break.
There were sunburns and kayaks.
Then the wind picked up and we almost lost grandma and Averi to the sea.
Luckily, a full recovery was made.
At night, the girls challenged us to some Uno and displayed their piano skills before we all fell into bed.
As long as the sun is shining or even if it’s hiding, we will be spending our days at the pool and beach this summer.
Everyone was saying how long January seemed, but to me, February came out of nowhere. On January 10th, Averi turned 5 and a half. On the girls half birthday they get to choose what/were they want to eat for dinner. Averi chose Chuck E Cheese, last year it was Islands for mac n cheese, so she is par for course of her dining choices. For someone who can go all day with her shoes on the wrong feet she sure is picky about her food intake.
The girls have also been getting better on skates. We are trying to urge them outside after homework to practice their skating so the next time we go to the rink, they will be more independent.
I took advantage of San Diego restaurant week (SDRW) and although each year I am less and less impressed with the choices, I was pleasantly surprised this time. Brian and I went to WaterBar in Pacific Beach for lunch and the view wasn’t the only thing that was sumptuous.
The fish sandwich I had was truly deliciously messy. Our waiter said that the chef put the sandwich solely on the restaurant week menu but I would purposely go back there just for that sandwich.
Shawna and I also took advantage of the SDRW and had another spectacular meal. You guys, these are so far and few between for me that it’s worth writing about. There was crispy pork belly in a brown sugar maple glaze served with a fuji apple salad. We had crispy octopus with salsa verde and the absolute best dish of the night was the pan seared scallops with coconut black rice in a Thai red curry sauce. This dish was so incredible that I went ahead and tried to make it at home a week later.
Please disregard my awful plating and, imagine how good this was. You guys, so good!
We also made whole roasted fish bathed in garlic, olive oil, jalapeños and lemons.
I fed us for a week with this crustless mushroom and spinach frittata.
The Santa Ana winds stopped for a visit and gave us a couple of 80 degree days. We all took advantage of the warm sunshine.
And last but not least my baby lost her first tooth.
Now it’s February and we marching towards more birthdays! Can’t wait to share the fun that is in store!
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.
The weather has been spectacular, making it very difficult to stay inside.
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.
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.
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.
Ok, let me lay it straight….we spend way too much money on kids birthday parties. That. is. all.
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.
There was a salad, pizza, cupcakes (recipe here) AND cake and plenty of fun to go around.
We laughed and played for a good four hours.
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.
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!
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!
This recipe came together over a day. I ended up having all the ingredients on hand, and it worked out very nicely.
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.
How am I 40 years old? Not sure I am okay with it, definitely don’t want to talk about it.
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.
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.
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.
A guitarist that has been working there for years serenaded us for a few songs, one was Stairway to Heaven because Wags.
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.
I used to be good at pool, really. But now I am not. Shane won every game. Bullshit! 40 is in the bag!
Is it really the middle of February? What the hell? I am turning another year older next week that probably explains why I can’t remember what we have done the past few weeks.
Aside from a couple of kids birthday parties and making hummus, my new weekly hobby, life has been mundane. I did, however make it to a USMNT friendly match. They played lousy but we still had fun time, with great seats on the field.
I have been trying to take the girls to the park on Wednesdays, we have been exploring outside of our neighborhood park. Finding ourselves mostly at parks near the water when the weather is beautiful.
Averi really wanted to hand feed the pigeon a chip, I almost thought she would succeed but the bird chickened out.
The past few recipes I have made have been duds, I need to make something good enough to post. Luckily next Saturday Brian Malarkey will be cooking us dinner as we try out his new restaurant. What else should we do with a free night downtown?