Saturday, October 22, 2016


Playdates with new Kindergarten friends

New clips and pedals for a 9 year old!

The one rainy day we've had in months

Haunted House decorating

Hanging out on the goal posts while big sis plays soccer

It's hard to believe it's fall with the 90 degree weather we've been having again in Southern California.  But, we've picked out our pumpkins (can't carve them until right before Halloween or they'll rot) and our Halloween costumes, made pumpkin muffins, and made a cute gingerbread haunted house (my super nice neighbor brought a kit over for the girls).  Since it's still so warm, not to mention we're running from soccer practice, piano lessons, and tennis most evenings, we've still been eating salads, as opposed to soup, for dinner a lot of evenings.  This new recipe from Trader Joe's was delish and will be making a reappearance!

Portabello & Arugula Salad (4 side dish servings)
Trader Joe's recipe

7 oz arugula
6 oz portabella mushrooms
1 T minced shallots
1 T olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
3 T pine nuts, lightly toasted
1/2 c. crumbled goat cheese.

Saute shallots in olive oil until translucent.  Toss in mushrooms and cook until tender.  Transfer to a bowl.  Toss with arugula.  Add balsamic and pine nuts.  Add salt to taste.  Top with goat cheese

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Football season!

It's football season and that time of year where I usually bust out my crockpot to make my life easier. One of my easy Monday night or Sunday afternoon meals is to make sliders with shredded chicken.  I know a lot of people do this by making pulled pork, but if you use boneless chicken thighs, it's not dry, it's a little healthier, and just as easy.

I usually start by putting a combination of chicken breasts and thighs (boneless, skinless) in the crockpot, and I pour either half of a can of beer or about a cup of chicken broth over the top.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and if you want, add a thinly sliced onion and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

After that, take two forks and shred the chicken.  Drain off almost all of the liquid.  At this point, to accommodate my kids, I divide the meat into two batches and make BBQ chicken with one half (add a bottled bbq sauce and stir).  Then, I usually do something spicier with the other half.

Buffalo Chicken Sliders:  I use Frank's Red Hot sauce and stir it with the shredded chicken until it's well-coated. Then, I toast the slider buns under the broiler and melt crumbled bleu cheese onto half of the bun.  Top with the buffalo chicken and serve!  These little slider buns are from Trader Joe's but my kids also like the Hawaiian Rolls or flour tortillas with the BBQ chicken and melted cheddar or jack cheese.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Grown Up Gatherings

In the last year, I've been lucky enough to find two great groups of ladies to hang out with - my monthly book club and my Shot Girls tennis team.  It's not as easy to make new friends as a grown up as it is when you're younger, but when you do, it's a lot of fun.  I recently went to a potluck with my tennis friends to kick off the fall season, and I was thinking about the fact that I got to cook something that didn't have to be "kid-friendly."  For me, this means something spicy that my kids wouldn't eat, so I ended up making jalapeno mac & cheese.

This dish doesn't need much of an explanation or much hype.  Jalapeno mac & cheese.  It was amazing!  Only recipe note:  use whatever cheese you like.  I used a sharp cheddar and a little bit of jack cheese to round it off.  You can omit the breadcrumbs if you want to.

Jalapeno Mac & Cheese (8 side dish servings)

1 lb macaroni (or other noodle of choice)
4 T butter
3 T flour
1 c. milk
4.5 c. shredded cheese 
pepper, paprika, cayenne to taste
1 small can (about 4 T) diced jalapenos
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 350. Cook macaroni (or noodle of choice) until al dente. Drain and set aside. Melt butter in a medium sized sauce pan and whisk in flour until smooth. Add milk and shredded cheese (for best results, add cheese a little at a time and whisk constantly). 

If it seems too thick, add between a few tablespoons and another half cup of milk. Season with pepper, paprika, and cayenne (to taste). Add  diced canned jalapenos. In a buttered pan, combine the macaroni noodles and the cheese sauce. Sprinkle the top with  the breadcrumbs and bake for 20 minutes.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Baked Italian Meatballs

First day of 3rd grade, kindergarten, and preschool
Girls U6 - Purple Pandas

Girls U10 - Tangerine Surfers

We're only two weeks into school, and I haven't started teaching yet, but I'm feeling the pressure of two girls with homework, two AYSO teams, and my involvement on two USTA (tennis) teams.  I'm going to be teaching a night class this term and we've decided that with soccer that evening, we'll pick up food.  But, other than that, I'm committed to still cooking at home the other evenings.  I tried this new recipe which was delicious and popular with the kids.  I made a double batch in the afternoon and put half in the refrigerator to bake after soccer practice and the other half in the freezer so we have a meal for another night.  

You can use all ground beef (I did the 93% lean), all turkey, or a combination of both.  I imagine that regular Italian sausage would be yummy as well.  You can make your own sauce or buy it (like I did) and adjust the other seasonings to your family's liking.  I left the cheese off of some of them because one of my kids has been struggling with dairy.

Italian Meatballs (makes about 3 dozen / 8 servings)

1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground turkey sausage
1/2 cup panko  bread crumbs
2.5 cups marinara (divided)
1 T chopped garlic
1-2 T Italian seasoning
3/4 c. grated or shredded parmesan cheese (divided)
1/2 T dried onion flakes (or 1/4 cup diced onion)
1/2 - 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, combine the ground beef, ground turkey, bread crumbs, 1/2 cup marinara, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, garlic, italian seasoning, and onion.  Stir until well combined.  Using your hands, roll into small meatballs and place on a foil lined cookie sheet.  I ended up with 3 dozen small meatballs.

Place cookie sheets in the oven and after 10 minutes, use tongs to turn the meatballs.  Cook for a total of 15-20 minutes or until the meatballs are just cooked through.  You don't want them crisped or browned, just so that the meat isn't pink anymore.  You can make them more on the rare side if you use all ground beef.

Remove from the oven and let cool.  At this point, you can refrigerate or freeze the meatballs if you're not ready to eat right away.  I froze half and put half in the refrigerator to finish at dinner time.

When you're ready to eat them, put 2 cups of marinara in an oven safe pan or skillet.  Add the meatballs in a single layer.  Top with mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until the marinara is bubbly and the cheese is melted.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Part II: Kauai

The paradox of Kauai is that on one hand, it's almost impossible to take a bad photo and on the other hand, you can't capture the beauty in a photo.  Here are my best attempts at capturing some of my favorite moments.

The first day we arrived on the island, we walked out to the beach to see this

A big highlight of Kauai was the surf - Big had a blast

And middle learned to surf

Also, the tide pools - we spent a lot of time out there looking at sea life 

And picking up treasures

Look who came to visit!

We love Kauai!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

It's that time again . . .

 Instead of a recipe or food-related post, here are some family vacation photos!  I'm the type of person who loves to look at other people's trip photos but I know not everyone shares my enthusiasm.  If that's  you - sorry!

We took an amazing trip to Hawaii this summer and visited two islands.  This first post is Part 1:  Big Island.  We love the Kohala coast on the big island and are already talking about "next time."  I took many, many photos and this is just a few of my favorite pictures.  Some of my best memories were just experienced, not photographed but I think this captures some of what I loved:

The rope swing at Beach 69.  Pictures can't do this beach justice - perfection!

The two buddies . . . probably playing family or lost girls

The mermaid tail got quite the reactions at the beach

The Kiluea Caldera at Volcano National Park

Celebrating 15 years of marriage with some dear friends at Lava lava Beach Club

Little beach buddies!

End of the road on the north side of the Big Island


We had such a great time with Hannah and the girls cried when she left!

Sunset - amazing to see the canvas of the sky painted with the dying light every night

A kayak towing a boogie board

Cacao Pods - Chocolate Tour

My brave kids swimming at night with manta rays

Little Girls + Sunset

Catamaran Boat ride with the big girls - one of the most fun days.

Luau at the Royal Kona

Monday, August 8, 2016

Six years old!

Middle had her sixth birthday last week while we were on vacation and she's headed to Kindergarten this fall.  She seems so big and still so little in so many ways . . . I've found that parenting is full of contradictions like this.  Over the past year, Middle has been working on this list of things that have happened since her 5th birthday so I think her 6th is the perfect time to share it:

Things I have been able to do since I'm 5
- Pour milk into cereal by myself
- Go on an elevator and escalator by myself
- Snorkel by myself
- Stand up paddle board
- See a sea cucumber
- Scooter to the park by myself
- Learn how to play frisbee
- Read some words
- Catch a frog

Middle is a noticer and a nurturer.  She loves all of God's creatures, great and small, and wants to work with animals.  She finds things and has a great eye for detail, fashion, and the things that the rest of us sometimes pass right by.  We are so glad to have her in our family!