Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Crave Wednesday: Brandied Cherry Sauce

On Mother's Day we were very much doing things that I enjoy doing, what with going to see camels and all.  Typically on Father's Day we go to the waterpark, but that's not exactly what Thatboy wants to do.  It just became convenient when Thatbaby was a week old and I couldn't see us spending a whole day at the beach with a newborn.  And a tradition was born.

But this year, he said he wanted to do something "nature-y" "like a hike or something."  So, in the midst of figuring out what I wanted to do for our birthdays, and planning a birthday party, I also started doing some research on local trails.  We've done quite a few which Thatboy has not been impressed with.  And some of the ones I thought he would like would NOT be enjoyable with our children.

But then I came across some reviews for the Santa Margarita River Trail, which stated that it was a nice easy trail, with scenic views as you walked along a river.  It sounded great, and so I forwarded it to Thatboy and asked what he thought.  He gave it a thumbs up.

Father's Day started with our usual trip to the Original Pancake House for breakfast, which is Thatboy's favorite breakfast locale.  And then we picked up some sandwiches and headed off to the trail.

True to the description, it was a lovely trail, under the canopy of trees, which is rare here in San Diego.  Most trails offer little to no shade, but this was shady and cool.  The river provided some nice background noise and some pretty views.

The trail was fairly easy, with only a couple of places where we had to weave through some rock scrambles.    The biggest hazard on the trail was the poison oak which was everywhere.  I had to remind the kids a number of times to stay in the middle of the trail.

The entire trail is about 2.5 miles long.  So we had to take a couple of sitting breaks on the way out, and the way back.

At a certain point, we reached an outcropping of rocks, and the river.  There was no way I was going to try to cross or ford the river to get to the other side, we decided to call this the end of the trail and sit and eat lunch.

Thatboy and Thatkid spent some time playing on the rocks, while I sat with the more cautious and less coordinated Thatbaby eating blueberries.

Heading back wasn't as successful as heading out.  There were some more breaks, and begging of Thatboy to drag them home. 

Thatbaby promptly fell asleep on the car ride home, and I gallantly sat in the car with him while Thatboy and Thatkid went into the house.  Around 4:15, Thatboy came out and asked if we could head to dinner, which woke up Thatbaby.  But then we head to dinner.   We tried a new place not too far from us, and it was fantastic.  We ate and drank, and had far too many desserts. Of course, I forgot to take any pictures.  But I'm sure we'll be back.

But since we're in dessert mode...we've been doing ice cream a lot lately.  I shouldn't say "we" since I'm not a huge ice cream person, but the boys have.  Thatboy has requested having it in the house, and so it's there.  I have been having fun playing with toppings.  We've got leftover chocolate and caramel sauce from Thatbaby's birthday party.  And a bag of cherries in the freezer were just begging to be put on top.  Boiled down with sugar and cherry liquor and it adds a very elegant topping to what could be a rather commonplace dessert.

Brandied Cherry Sauce (From Cooking Light)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1/3 cup unsweetened grape juice
3 Tbsp kirsch
2 1/2 cup frozen dark sweet cherries, thawed
1/2 cup dried tart cherries

  1. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan, stirring with a whisk.
  2. Add juice and brandy, stirring with a whisk until blended.  
  3. Stir in cherries. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly.  Cool to room temperature.  

Monday, June 18, 2018

Mommy Mondays: Number 2 Turns 3.

As he does every year, last week Thatbaby went and got a year older.  He's officially a threenager.  Haven't heard that term before?  Well then you've just admitted you've never had a 3 year old child.

Thatbaby couldn't wait to start his birthday, so much so that he was up at 5:30am.  Nevermind that it's also my birthday and I didn't want to be up at 5:30am.  See?  Three.  The worst.

He made his way out to the living room where he found a mountain of presents awaiting him.  (Which didn't stop him from trying to also open my presents...)

He got some really great presents, but his favorite was from his brother - his very own Hatchimal!

Sharing a birthday means that Thatbaby got to pick what he wanted for breakfast - chocolate chip pancakes...

but I got to pick where we went - somewhere with mimosas and breakfast burritos!

After breakfast, we headed over to Thatbaby's "Preschool Popstars" class.  I don't think I've written about it before, but we enrolled Thatbaby in his first extracurricular activity.  He's spent the past 2 months movin' and groovin' to what was supposed to be pop music, but it turned out their big number (showcase next weekend!) is to "We Go Together" from Grease.  Which is still pretty cute.

I picked the next activity since he didn't have any concrete desires on what he wanted to do for his birthday other than eat ice cream.  So we headed blueberry picking!

After we picked berries he fed chickens and pet goats, so he was a pretty happy camper.  After that we headed to my favorite brewery.  Where they have pizza - one of Thatbaby's favorite foods.  See how well we share?

Then it was time to swing by the pool party our friends were throwing.  Sure it wasn't a party for us, but Thatbaby loved playing in the pool while I chatted with a bunch of my grown up friends.

We reverted back to Thatbaby for the rest of the evening.  His request for a birthday dinner was nachos, so we went home and I made them.  He also picked "Sword in the Stone" to watch during dinner.  Which was a nice way to unwind after such a busy birthday.  And now there are only 51 weeks of having a 3 year old left!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Mommy Mondays: Kindergarten Wrap Up

It's official, I have a...first grader?  Rising first grader?  A kid who has successfully completed kindergarten.

After 9 months of fretting, worrying, pleading, and more than a few tears (all on my part), Thatkid embarked on the beginning of his journey through education.

I feel like we got very lucky this past year.  His teacher was kind, even-tempered, and brought out the best in the class.  She was a little like Mary Poppins in that regard.

He took part in two school fundraisers, a read-a-thon, and a jog-a-thon.

And he made a bunch of new friends.  And there were a ton of fun "spirit days" where he got to dress up with them.

He even won an award for his Dr. Seuss week costume.

But socialization has never been an issue for Thatkid.  More importantly, this past year, Thatkid found a true love of reading, and improved in his reading and math skills.  He started the school's accelerated reader program, earning points for every book he read and tested on.  Which also earned him a free book in the weekly drawing for kids who scored 100% on those tests.  He's always enjoyed science, but after this year he's decided it's his favorite subject. 

And he got to improve his art skills.  The school even had an art night where the students' work was showcased.

He won an award for being an exemplary student - showcasing the school's emphasis on safety, responsibility, scholarly behavior, and respect.

They ended the year with a concert, and Thatkid was a shining star in the performance, never taking his eyes off us and grinning like a fool the whole time.

And now it's his first "summer break."  The quotes because he doesn't really have a break.  He was off for 3 days last week and today he starts camp for the rest of the summer. 

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Crave Wednesday: Peanut Butter Toffee Chunk Cookies

It's fair time again!  It comes around every June and while it's not quite the same with kids as it was when it was just Thatboy and I, it's still an event we wouldn't miss. 

This year's theme is "How Sweet It Is."  It was a candy colored wonderland!

They advertised a "chocolate river" which was really a brown carpet, but it's hard to be disappointed when there's a giant candy mountain.

A couple of weeks ago, one of Thatkid's classmates brought in the Jelly Belly Beanboozled game.  He's been all about it ever since.  So he was super de dooper excited to see a giant version of the game.  Spin the wheel, get a mystery bean that could be a delicious flavor, or could be something disgusting.

Thatbaby wasn't going to pass up an opportunity for candy either.  Even if it was stinky sock flavor.  (For the record, he claims he got a yummy flavor, but it's hard to tell with 2 year olds.)

There were art installations made entirely of jelly beans.

And of course, a giant candy store.

I'm not sure why there was a Zoltar machine, but the boys got a kick out of it.  And managed to stay in their kid bodies.

Thatkid's one request was to watch the pig races, which we had never seen.

Thatbaby even got picked to be the cheerleader for our section (our pig lost).

We stopped to look and pet the animals.  Thatkid took a quick detour to do a little shopping game...

While Thatbaby tried out some of the heavy machinery.

Then it was time for rides.

We played some games, went and looked at the rocks and minerals, and then grabbed some dinner.  I've always been intrigued by the Australian battered potatoes, so I gave them a try.  They were fine, but way too heavy and greasy for me.  So much so that I had to forgo my typical funnel cake.

Thatboy and Thatkid split the fair's most talked about item - a cotton candy ice cream sandwich.  Thatboy, who makes it a point to try the latest and weirdest fair food thought it was the best fair dessert he'd ever had.

I'm a little bummed about missing out on my funnel cake, but I just can't eat like a kid anymore.  Less oil, less fried.  More...cookies.

Baked goods seem to be a much easier way for me to get that sweet fix.  Not as "fun" as fair desserts, but easier on the stomach.  And these cookies feature one of my favorite childhood treats - chocolate covered toffee.  I used to love Daim chocolate bars. I don't even know if you can get them any more, but chocolate covered toffee isn't that hard to find.  Chopped and put in a cookie, it's like a chocolate chop cookie, but so much better!  A little bit of a weird twist - not quite as weird as ice cream sandwiched between two pieces of cotton candy.

Peanut Butter Toffee Chunk Cookies (From Cooking Light)
1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
 4 chocolate covered toffee candy bar

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, creamy peanut butter, vanilla, and eggs in a large bowl.  Beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth.
  2. Stir in candy.  Shape dough into 54 balls.  Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared pans, flattening slightly with fingers.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Cool cookies on pan for 2 minutes and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.