Wednesday, November 28, 2018

November Wrap Up: Instant Pot Turkey a la King


This may have been the fastest November known to man.   I swear it was Halloween yesterday, and this weekend it's already Chanukah!

It's funny, compared to October, November was a lot more low-key.  October we've got an event every weekend day.  December is going to be the same.  But November?  November had weekends with nothing planned at all. 

We started and ended the month with Thanksgiving celebrations.   And between the two, there were birthday parties and school breaks.  Lots of school breaks this month.

Which is fine, because it meant Thatkid and I got to go on a great adventure.  

You see, one of my friends was due with her second child mid-October.  When she first told me she was pregnant I told her I'd be there right after the baby was born.  The issue?  She lives in New York.  And when Thatkid found out I was going to New York, he begged me to take him along.  Our original plan was to go over his break in October, but that was the week she was due, and we didn't want to show up mere days after she gave birth.

So, November it was.  We took the red-eye on a Friday night and found ourselves in New York at 4:30am on a Saturday morning.   We waited around for our luggage, changed clothes in the bathroom, then caught a car out to our hotel.  It was too early to check in, but we dropped off our luggage at the hotel and grabbed a train out to Brooklyn to visit my friend and her kids.

It was Thatkid's first subway ride and he was beyond excited.


Until he fell asleep.  He slept almost the whole way to Brooklyn, and I was glad - it had been an early morning for us!  We visited with my friend who had breakfast all ready for us, and Thatkid got his first taste of New York bagels - still warm from the oven.

Then it was back on the train and into the city.  And another little nap for Thatkid.  We had thought about trying to check into the hotel, but it was getting toward lunchtime, so instead we went and grabbed a slice.  Thatkid was VERY impressed with New York pizza.


One of the things Thatkid really wanted to do while we were in New York was to see the Statue of Liberty.  I was a little worried about tying us down to a timed ferry ride, since I wasn't exactly sure what we were going to be doing, but I knew we could get a really awesome view from the Staten Island Ferry, which left every 30 minutes.  So after lunch, we headed downtown.



The views from the ferry do not disappoint.









Right next to the Staten Island Ferry is Battery Park, which houses a "new to me" attraction.  The Seaglass Carousel.


The Seaglass Carousel is, as it sounds, a carousel comprising of glass sea creatures.


This is my new favorite ride ever.  And my new "Must Do" in NYC.  The music is fantastic, the glass lights up and is beautiful, and even the movement of the ride is unlike anything I've ever experienced.


Another thing Thatkid wanted to do in New York was see some Hamilton sights.  Hamilton's homestead, The Grange, was farther north than  I was planning on taking him, but I knew that Hamilton's grave was just a hop skip and a jump from Battery Park.  So we walked up to take a look.  

We found Alexander, Philip, and Eliza Hamilton, Hercules Mulligan, and Angelica Schuyler.  We also found a tour group.  Thatkid hasn't quite figured out all social niceties, so he joined right in, listening to the stories, until I gently guided him away.


Our next stop was dinner - a surprise for Thatkid.  I'd heard word about a special theme restaurant, called Ninja, that was a big hit with kids.  And so I made us reservations without telling him.   We got in and were ushered into a dark elevator.   At the bottom, a ninja jumped out at us and pointed us down a dark hallway.  At the end, another ninja showed us to our table.  This was pretty much the tone of the restaurant.  Ninjas, ninjas, everywhere.

Thatkid was sold.  From the light up drinks,


To the tableside magicians,


To the smoking entrees.  It was a good choice for a young boy.


Even the bathrooms were over the top - covered in cherry blossoms.


Our final stop for the evening was the thing that had driven Thatkid to want to come on this trip to begin with - Broadway shows.  I told him we could see two, and let him pick from everything out there.  And his first choice was King Kong.


I have SO many thoughts on this show, and I could write an entire essay about it, but the condensed version is that it was wonderful.  So much more than I was expecting.  Christiani Pitts, who played Ann Darrow, was a phenom, and she brought so much life to the character that I honestly feel the show was about Ann, not the giant ape.   And that giant ape?  A wonder of puppetry.  The show was everything that's amazing about Broadway shows, and Thatkid couldn't have agreed more.  Despite having been up since 1:30am California time, he sat spellbound and entranced the entire show.  It currently ties for first place for his favorite musical.  


Of course, being up so early Saturday meant our Sunday got a much later start as Thatkid slept until 10am for the first time in his life.  And I happily let him.  The original plan was to ice skate in the morning, but by the time we were showered and dressed, morning was almost over.  So instead, we headed out to get burgers and milkshakes.




And then we hit up the Christmas Markets at Bryant Park, which is one of my favorite things to do in the winter in New York.  


Thatkid loves ice skating, so I thought it would be fun for him to go ice skating while we were there.  We checked out the rinks at Rockefeller and Bryant Park, and I showed him pictures of the rink in Central Park.  He decided that Bryant Park was where he wanted to skate, which made me happy, because it's my favorite rink in the city.



After we did over 20 laps in the rink (he counted), we headed uptown to the American Museum of Natural History.  The plan was to check out the gem and mineral exhibit and see the giant T-Rex skeleton.  Of course, after we got there, we found that both those exhibits were closed.  

So we settled on checking out the other giant skeletons in the museum.




In December of 2005, Thatmom, Thatdad, Thatbrother and I spent Christmas in New York City.  I still have such great memories from that trip.  It was the last trip we took just the four of us; I got married the following August.  On Christmas Eve, we ate dinner at a restaurant my dad had found - Jekyll and Hyde's.  It was a theme restaurant, with animatronic wall decorations that spoke to you, and characters who wandered around performing.  The overall atmosphere was a little spooky, a lot silly.  

In December of 2008 I took Thatboy to New York for the first time.  And I thought he would get a kick out of the restaurant, so I took him there too.

So obviously, bringing Thatkid with me to New York for his first time, we had to eat at Jekyll and Hyde's.  While he didn't know about Ninja, he was really looking forward to this meal.  We got to sit right at the foot of Frankenstein's slab.  Which was really fun during the portion of the evening when Frankenstein comes to life. 



We kept up the gothic theme of the evening with Thatkid's second show choice - Phantom of the Opera.  Actually, this was technically his first show choice.  He's been asking to see it since last spring.  Long before we had even discussed New York.


Our last day in New York was a lazy one.  Thatkid slept in again, and then we went to grab bagels to bring home.


Our last stop before grabbing a train to the airport was Grand Central Station.  He was not excited at the prospect of another train station, but once we were inside, he was pretty impressed.


It was a pretty fast and packed long weekend.  We got in Monday night and he was off to school on Tuesday morning.  Luckily he only had to suffer through 4 days of school before his Thanksgiving break started.  And just like that we're here.  See what I mean about November passing quickly?

November passes so quickly, that Thanksgiving seems like just a little blip.  I've started a tradition the past two years of making my own turkey at home, so that I can stretch it out a bit.  Because turkey is delicious and shouldn't only be enjoyed on one day!  Plus this way I have leftover turkey to make sandwiches!  If you didn't get your fill of turkey, and don't want to make a whole bird for your family, I've also found this is a great time of year for stocking up on turkey breasts, or turkey cutlets.  I use them in much the same way I use chicken, but the turkey flavor just can't be beat!


Instant Pot Turkey a la King
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 Tbsp flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 lb turkey breast or cutlet, cut in bite sized pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup frozen peas & carrots, thawed

  1. Press "Saute" on the Instant Pot and add butter.
  2. When butter is melted, add the turkey and mushrooms, cooking until mushrooms are tender, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add flour and stir until smooth.
  4. Slowly whisk in chicken broth.  Press "Off" on the Instant Pot and place the lid on.  Make sure the valve is turned to "Sealing."  Press "Manual" and adjust the time to 8 minutes at High pressure.  
  5. When the Instant Pot beeps after pressuring cooking for 8 minutes, allow it to naturally release pressure for 13 minutes.  Press "Off" on the instant pot.
  6. Add heavy cream, peas and carrots, and press "Saute" on the Instant Pot.  Cook until warmed through.
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve over pasta, rice, potatoes, or even leftover stuffing!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A Haunting We Will Go: Apple Cider Sangria




Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, so I'm coming right in the nick of time with this Halloween post!  Next week I'll regale you with stories of turkeys, but today, let's take a hop back to the last day of October.


Thatbaby's preschool doesn't do much for Halloween - historically kids have come in costume and ruined them before the actual Trick or Treating event, so as long as my boys have been there, there's no costumes allowed.  Just a special lunch and a bag of candy to go home.

So I started the day off with my own festive touch - vampire muffins.  Good thing my kids have a ridiculous vampire teeth collection.


I also whipped together a little something for Thatkid to bring to lunch.


Thatkid does get to celebrate Halloween at school.  So he came in costume and pretty quickly found one of his friends.  Despite me not having a clue who kids were in their masks, Thatkid knew exactly who was hiding under those false faces.


The school had their Halloween parade, and then all the kids were gathered for their annual Halloween dance.  Each class practices the choreography in gym class in the weeks leading up to Halloween.


After school I picked the kids up and changed Thatbaby into his costume and put on his makeup.  Then we headed over to Stiller's house for dinner and pre-trick or treat festivities.


After dinner we rounded the boys up  and headed out into the night.


Trick or Treat!


Thatbaby is the littlest in the group and kept running after the big boys, falling and/or spilling his candy bucket.  By the end of the night, this was how he looked.


And those falls?  They found us in urgent care a couple days later.  Poor Thatbaby gave himself bursitis in his knee!

Thatkid had a more peaceful evening.  Just lots and lots of candy.


Whenever we go to someone's house for dinner, I feel bad arriving empty handed.  So despite the fact that Mrs. Stiller told me just to show up, I whipped up a batch of sangria to bring with us.  Because it's STILL fall, despite people playing Christmas music and having lights up, I went with the quintessential fall drink - apple cider.

Throw in the best fall fruits - apples, pears, and grapes, and it's the perfect accompaniment to your Thanksgiving dinner, or regular fall evening.

Apple Cider Sangria
2 1/2 cups apple cider
1 bottle of white or rose wine
1/2 cup ginger wine
3 apples, chopped
3 pears, chopped
1 cup grapes, cut in half
club soda


  1.  Combine the apple cider and wines in a large pitcher.
  2. Add the chopped fruit and refrigerate for at least 2 hours - the longer the better!
  3.  Before serving add club soda to taste to the pitcher, or individual glasses.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Sunday Runday: Ghouls on the Run 5k


San Diego has a a ton of races, but very few locations for races.  There are usually the same four or five routes that host all of the races shorter than a half marathon.

Years ago, there was a Valentine's Day race at Kit Carson Park, and while the course was a little challenging, I really liked it.  I liked it enough that for a while I would run the course while Thatboy and Thatkid biked and skateboarded at the park.  But that race ended in 2016 and there hasn't been one in the park since.

Until...

Sometime over the summer I noticed that there was going to be a new race at Kit Carson Park - Ghouls on the Run.  I was immediately interested because of the course, but the fact that it was a Halloween race didn't hurt either.  And they had a discount for kids.  Thatkid was IN.  He couldn't wait to run the race, asking if I would dress up like a zombie with him.


Of course, just a few short weeks before the race was the ankle injury.  So there was no way I was running it.  But I figured that between his run spurts and frequent walk breaks, Thatkid usually ran a 14 minute mile, and I could handle just about that with constant hobble/running.  We also planned to meet up at the bottom of the big hill, and go up together if he did get too far ahead of me.

When we got to the race, he ran into an older friend from school.  They said hi, and as we lined up at the start, we found ourselves beside him and his mom.


I jokingly told Thatkid that if he wanted to run with his friend he could, and I wouldn't slow him down.  That joke turned into reality when his friend's mom jumped right on it and said she'd run with the boys.  When the race started, they took off.  Knowing how Thatkid run/walks, I figured I'd catch up with them somewhere along the way, so I just took the race easy.

This race was actually the reverse of the Sweetheart Course, starting us off in the dusty, hilly part of the trail.  It was a great switch, because I always find my momentum better early on.

The entire course was decorated to fit into the Halloween theme.





The race organizers are trying to get the big hill on the course known as "Gummy Bear Hill" by having gummy bears for all the racers at the top.  Talk about a trick or treat!


And while I was planning on meeting Thatkid at the bottom of the hill, I was unsurprised to see him far enough ahead of me on the course, running with his friend.  The other mom told me it was adorable to tag along and listen to their conversations.  I was surprised to find that Thatkid didn't stop or walk once on the course.  The other mom was surprised too.  Her son usually runs similarly.  I guess having a friend to push you along works pretty well.

After the hill, we headed in to my favorite part of the trail - the tree-lined part!  


Thatkid and his buddy finished enough before me that they came to see me finish.


I didn't take any pictures of the post-race festivities, but there were little cakes, fruits, and bagels as breakfast for everyone.  We didn't stay long because Thatbaby had an art class, and Thatkid had a soccer game, so we snapped a quick medal picture and we were off.



What I didn't realize or expect is that my super speedy son was so super speedy that he placed 3rd in his age division!  So once the results came out, I ran over to the race offices and picked up his award while he was in school.



It was a great course, and a really fun race.  I can't wait to do it next year on 2 good ankles!