Thursday, October 29, 2009

Brick or Treat Party at Legoland

We took the little ones to Legoland for their Brick or Treat party. The kids loved it! Kay had never been there before, so it was cute to see her react to all the different things there. Unfortunately, she was a little too small to ride most of the rides there. She has about an inch to go until she can ride most of the rides, but it was still a fun day.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Daddy's Birthday & 3 Day Cupcakes

We all enjoyed Daddy's 36th bday! Wooo the big 3-6. Getting up there my love!! The kids and I tried to make Daddy's bday special by making little handmade or hand written items from the kids. We made the card and I made the decorations. the decorations.

Kay even managed to learn how to sing "Happy Birthday to You"


This week I did an event for my friend Amber's 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk Fundraiser. I made about seven dozen cupcakes for her fundraiser bake sale. It was fun to make kinds all at once. It got me thinking, I could do this every day ;) Mark was my inspiration for one of the flavors I titled Chocolate Banana Malt Shop, since we used to share chocolate banana malts at Ruby's on Oceanside Pier.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Long Beach Aquarium

Had a great time at the Long Beach Aquarium this weekend!

Saw many interesting plants and sea creatures.

Ethan made friends with a seal. He kept swimming up for air and coming back to play with him.

The boys got to see that even seals play and wrestle just like they do!

Javi touched a ray.

Ethan touched a shark.

Kay was more interested in coloring the fish than touching them. Although she did want to play in the water :)

It was a fun day with Grandma and the kids!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits in California

I have been on a quest for some time to find the perfect biscuit recipe using local, not southern flour. I have read many, many recipies for buttermilk biscuits and tried making nearly all if them. The result, chewy, cracker-like or dry biscuits that were nearly inedible. Having read about the different amounts of protein in flour in my pastry arts book the blog article I found here: made perfect sense. For a more in depth description of different types of flour's protein content, please refer to article.

After watching a program on Food Network: Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, there was a restaurant in Portland, OR with three southern men as the proprietors, I believe the restaurant was called Pine State Biscuits. Knowing that this restaurant probably did not have southern flour flown in to Portland, I thought we may have stumbled on to something :)

Using the tips found in my America's Test Kitchen, Kitchen Tips book & also used at Pine State Biscuits, I began to work on my recipe for the perfect southern buttermilk biscuit.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits in CA

1 1/2 c cake flour
3/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp frozen butter
1 egg, room temp
1/4 c plain yogurt
1/2 c well shaken buttermilk

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Add first five ingredients to a bowl and mix with a fork or pastry blender. Grate frozen butter on a cheese grater directly in the flour and mix with a fork or partry blender until it resembles coarse meal.

In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, yogurt & buttermilk until combined.

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix dough with a pastry blender or fork just until all the flour appears to have been incorporated with the wet ingredients. Do not over work dough. You must work quickly so the butter will not melt into the flour.

Turn dough on to a well floured surface and push dough together into a ball with your hands. Roll out dough into 1/2 in thick rectangle, fold in half, repeat 2 more times, the last time, roll out to 3/4 in thick (this builds flakey layers). Cut with a floured pastry blade or floured biscuit cutter and place on an ungreased cookie sheet tightly grouped.

Brush melted butter on tops of biscuits & bake for 8-10 minutes in the oven.

Enjoy with butter, jelly, or gravy :)

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Imagine the posibilities

Today I was in the waiting room at Kay's therapy place talking to a mom that also has a son on the spectrum and second child with speech delays. We had spoken a couple times before about different things. Today's subject happened to be alternative therapies for kids with Autism.

I could tell from the start that we shared similar opinions on many things and had read and researched similar things, but we were very different on our lines of treatment. We were also at very different stages of development with our kids, her son, 3 and my son, 9. I began telling her the therapies we had tried and she told me some therapies that they had tried, some we hadn't even heard about. When the subject of whether or not we had had our son tested for this allergy or that allergy or metal level or oxidative stress levels, I said no. I told her we didn't have a DAN doctor either. She looked at me in horror. I told her we couldn't afford one. I said we could certainly afford the consultation, but when it comes to paying for all the alternative therapies, tests and what have you, we had to be realistic. I also tried to impart that we have three children that all have special needs. We could maybe afford to pay for therapy for one, but we certainly could not afford to do experimental treatments and tests for all of them. She shook her head in agreement and even teared up a bit as she listened to my story. I told her that I would love to send my kids to the best therapy money could buy (who wouldn't?), but that just isn't reality. I told her I just do the best I can with what I have to work with and that I try not to blame myself or worry about what I could have done, should have done, or couldn't afford. I told her I haven't given up on the hope that my son will, at some point lead an independent life, but I have to also have the hope mixed in with the reality. There is a good possibility that my son will never live completely independent, but that's ok, none of us truly live independent from one another (just trying to spin the positives, hehe). She said she admired my positive attitude as I admired her tenacity for trying to do everything possible for her son.

The more I talked to this woman I could see the walls and her judgement of what she perceived of me when I first began to talk to her were beginning to break down. Just as my initial opinion of her as being a little bit of an extremist (just being honest) began to breakdown. She began to understand and appreciate our situation as different from her situation. We even exchanged a recipe and I gave her the name of a cookbook to check out (typical me). All in all, it ended up on the positive. I learned from her about oxidative stress levels and some enzyme therapy to check out.

I guess my point of this story is have empathy and appreciate others and their unique situation, even amongst people who are in a similar situation. We are all different and lead different, busy lives. We all have our own ideas on things. If we would stop to really listen to each other every once in a while, we would stand to learn so much more. We are all guilty (me included of course) of wanting to tell our story and judge other people when they tell theirs. It's just human nature, but if we could commit ourselves to being more open even half the time, imagine the possibilities...

-- Post From My iPhone

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sunny California Weekend

On Friday, we headed down to La Jolla Shores with our friends and neighbors, the Campbell's. Had a great time! We boogie boarded, had a Bon fire, had a Wieny roast & made s'mores. The kids loved it. I hadn't done that since HS. One of those fun simple things you can enjoy together and spend a beautiful afternoon and evening on the beach.

Javi is really getting in to boogie boarding. Perhaps one day a pro surf champ???? ;)

Here are some pics.

Daddy & I had a date on Saturday night. We went to Cafe Luna, a northern Itallian restaurant not to far from our house. D'lish! My sweetie pie was looking pretty fine, which made the experince that much better. Thanks for watching the kids, Grandma!!

Great weekend! Hope yours was too!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Chicken & Dumplings

With fall on the way, it's nice to have a bowl of steaming love to comfort you on a cold day. I happened to make this recipe today, not because it was cold, lord, it's definitely not cold here!! But, because my little guy Ethan is home sick today.

I made some chicken stock last night since we had bone in chicken parmesan breasts. Since we didn't finish the breast meat, I shredded it and put it in the fridge. Chicken & Dumplings taste heavenly with homemade stock, as well as anything else made with homemade stock! It's much easier to prepare than you think!

The day before you make your chicken & dumplings....

Using your left over chicken & chicken carcass from roasted chicken, fried chicken, or any old bone in chicken you have prepared that yields at least 2 cups of leftover shredded chicken. Shred chicken and refrigerate. I say use left over chicken because I think it tastes better leftover and it really stretches your food $$$ ;)

Chicken Carcass
1-2 carrots, roughly chopped
1-2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1/2 to 1 onion (depending on the size), peeled and quartered
2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
1 sprig of rosemary, (optional to use dried, on average it's usually 1/4 tsp to one sprig)
2 dried bay leaves,
2 sprigs of thyme, (optional to use dried, on average it's usually 1/4 tsp to one sprig)
1 Tbsp Whole Pepper Corns
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Put in your chicken carcass after you have taken all the spare meat off the bones in to a large stock pot. Fill a stock pot with 2.5-5 quarts of cold water. It should cover the carcass, but not over flow the pot when you add your veg. Add each of the ingredients to the pot as they are chopped & measured. Bring water to a boil for approx 15 min, then simmer on low for about 30-60 min. The stock should have a golden to light brown color when finished. Strain stock with a fine wire mesh strainer in to a large bowl and cool. When liquid cools, store in an air tight container and refrigerate for up to 10 days or freeze in a freezer safe container for up to 4 months.

**Rinse & Reserve your veggies and store in the fridge (gets all the woody bits off the veg).

There is no exact science to stock making and don't be afraid to experiment. Don't be afraid to use other spices or veggies. Each will add it's own unique flavor. Of course, aromatics work best, leeks, scallions, pearl onions, shallots, etc. AND savory, oregano, marjoram, sage etc. spices are nice too. Use whatever is on hand.

2 cups shredded chicken
4 cups of stock (you can optionally use store bought broth or stock, but the veggies will have to be sautéed to soften them up before adding them to the stock)
Reserved Veggies

1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup coarsely ground cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 3/4 cups heavy cream

In a stock pot, heat stock & shredded chicken and reserved veggies on medium while you prepare your dumplings.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine first five ingredients, mix with a fork. Slowly add heavy cream and just mix until well combined (using you hand it best). Dough will look a little rough. Using a sm cookie scoop, scoop the dough into the pot, making sure not to overcrowd the dumplings, as they will spread a bit as they cook. Just enough to sparsely fill the pot. Turn heat to simmer (med-low). Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, then cover for 10 minutes. I like to sprinkle some dried thyme on top of each before covering.

Serve piping hot with love to anyone you want to comfort on a cold day :)