But the nice thing about staying home at Christmas is that we got to take advantage of all the fun things San Diego has to offer around the holidays. And take advantage we did. Every weekend was jammed full with activities which got us in the spirit.
We started the month with not one, but two tree lighting ceremonies! I love the idea of tree-lightings, since it wasn't anything my town did growing up. I associate it most with Rockefeller and the giant tree. Around here though it isn't a tourist attraction, but a community get-togther. Our local tree-lighting is really aimed at the kids, and they go all out!
We skipped the line to meet with the Disney princesses, though Thatkid happily waved as Snow White and Rapunzel walked past us. And he stared hesitantly at the solider and angel on stilts.
They brought in snow, which is always a hit with Southern Californian kids.
There were several tables of crafts. Thatkid made a wreath for his door, reindeer food, a coffee filter snowflake, and of course, decorated a cookie.
And then he went and got his face painted, with one of his favorite Christmas characters - Jack Skellington.
Santa made an appearance, giving all the kids a chance to tell him what they wanted for Christmas. Except for Thatkid, who had already seen Santa and wanted nothing to do with any subsequent Santas we saw.
And Mrs. Clause read stories to the kids.
And where there are Clauses, there are also reindeer!
After a short speech from the mayor, the trees were lit. And Christmas began!
The next night we headed over to the Pirates for what has become a tradition with our friends, heading to their town's tree lighting!
This is a true Southern Californian tree-lighting, right on the beach!
Where the weather outside is far from frightful!
Southern California definitely has their own twist on things. We like to take things and make them our own, with the addition of things that are quintessential to the region. Like chiles. You'll find them in everything here. Which I love. Because who doesn't love a little kick to their eggs? Or sandwiches? Or hamburgers?
This burger uses poblano chiles, which makes it kid friendly. Poblanos are a mild flavored chile, and once roasted, they pack even less heat. Instead you're left with just some great smokey flavor. The heat in this burger comes from the sauce and the onions, so leave them off if you're serving to anyone who is sensitive to spice.
But me? Pile on the onions! I love pickled onions, and I love pickled spicy veggies. So the combination of the two means I was snacking on these nonstop. We almost didn't have any left for the burgers!
Spicy Poblano Burgers with Pickled Red Onions and Chipotle Cream (From Cooking Light)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 jalepeno pepper, halved lengthwise
2 1/2 cups thinly vertically sliced red onion
2 large poblano ciles
1 slice white bread
1 Tbsp 1% low-fat milk
3 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro, divided
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper, divided
1 lb 93% extra lean ground beef
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 Tbsp minced shallots
2 tsp fresh lime juice
1 canned chipotle chile and 2 tsp adobo sauce
4 hamburger buns, toasted
- Place sugar, rice vinegar, water, and jalepeno in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.
- Stir in onion. Cover and remove from heat. Cool to room temperature. Place in an airtight container.
- Preheat broiler. Place poblano chiles on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil 10 minutes or until blackened, turning after 6 minutes. Place in a paper bag; fold to close tightly. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel chiles, discarding seeds and membranes. Finely chop chiles to measure 3/4 cup.
- Trim crusts from bread, and tear into 1/2-inch pieces. Combine bread and milk in a large bowl, mashing with a for until smooth.
- Stir in poblano chile, 1 1/2 Tbsp cilantro, cumin, coriander, paprika, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper.
- Add beef to milk mixture, stirring gently to combine. Divide mixture into 4 equal portions; shape each portion into a 1/2 inch thick patty. Press thumb in center of each patty, leaving a nickel-sized indentation. Cover and chill while grill preheats.
- Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Combine 1 1/2 Tbsp cilantro, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper in a medium bowl.
- Stir in sour cream, shallots, and juice.
- Chop chipotle chile and stir into sour cream mixture with adobo sauce. Set aside.
- Place patties on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until a thermometer registers 160.
- Spread 3 Tbsp chipotle cream on bottom half of each bun.
- Top each with one patty, 1 Tbsp drained pickled red onions, and bun top.