Friday, January 29, 2010

Fighting off the winter ills

Ever since before Christmas I swear I have been right on the verge of getting sick. I haven't gotten sick yet, but I've got all the symptoms, fatigue, sore throat, headaches, and a cough that comes whenever I drink something cold. Thatboy even made me take my temp on Sunday night, but it was normal. I credit my borderline health status on being very hydrated, taking vitamins and loads of vitamin C, and of course, the age old Pennicillin - chicken noodle soup.

Do you know why chicken noodle soup is a tried and tested cure? Me neither, but I'll pretend to tell you why anyway. First, there's the chicken broth and chicken itself, loaded with protein and you know your body needs protein to fight off disease. Second of course is the veggies thrown in because veggies = healthy, and don't you want to be healthy? Finally come the noodles, which as any one can tell you are the ultimate comfort food. Whether in soup, stroganoff, macaroni and cheese, or even just spaghetti and meatballs, noodles make everyone feel good.

This is almost the easiest soup recipe in the world. Amber's chicken tortellini takes the #1 prize there, and I still contend that minestrone is a good throw together soup. But if you've got some stock in the freezer, this is quick and perfect. Even if you don't you can always use (shhhh I won't tell) store bought broth or stock. Try it once, and it will become a regular part of your meal rotation - even when you're not sick.

Chicken Noodle Soup
3 cups chicken stock (or broth)
1 carrot, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
1/2 cup uncooked whole wheat egg noodles
1 breast of chicken, cooked and shredded
salt and pepper

1. Heat stock, carrots, and celery until boiling.
2. Add noodles and chicken. Reduce heat until stock is simmering, and cook for 10 minutes (or until noodles are cooked through).
3. Salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Oh to be young again

Around the time I was booking us tickets to Parade, I noticed another Jason Robert Brown musical was coming to a theater near me, "13" JRB's latest.

Last time Thatboy and I were in NYC, 13 was playing on Broadway, but I dismissed it because really, I've had my fill of "High School Musical." And then, about a week after we came home, I was reading about JRB's new take on the hardest age. CRAP! 13 was a Jason Robert Brown piece? Well I guess my research was worthless. And then it was ushered offstage, like many of 2008's shows. So I was only too excited to see it playing by us. And I grabbed tickets immediately.

Last night, I bet Thatboy after work for dinner and a show. We decided to try O'Brother's because Thatboy has been wanting to hit it up for a while. And really, what's not to love about a totally organic experience?

The burgers and cheese are all local, the beef is even grass fed. And everything from the condiments to the drinks are organic. I was a little worried about Thatboy and the lack of Pepsi/Coke, but he made himself right at home with an organic beer - Fishtail Winter Fish Seasonal Ale.

He very much enjoyed it, but it wasn't my cup of tea. But I didn't want to be left out, so I got my own organic beer - Fish Tale's Amber Ale.

The place was almost empty when we arrived, giving us a great view and fabulous service.

There was only one other couple when we arrived. They were NOT friendly. They seated themselves RIGHT beside the door, and when it didn't automatically swing shut after we entered they honestly yelled at us to close it because they were cold. I'm sorry? You're cold? YOU'RE THE ONLY PEOPLE IN THE RESTAURANT. Maybe you could pick a seat that's NOT next to the door?

Hateful Hateful Hateful

Our burgers came with a side salad, but Thatboy and I decided to go all out and get a really unhealthy side to split/start out with. His pick.

Onion rings with organic ketchup and organic ranch. These weren't my favorite onion rings, but I did love the fact that they broke easily. Do you know what I mean? I can't eat an onion ring whole, so I have to tear it into quarters. A lot of times when you tear them into quarters, you end up with one long onion string and 3 quarters of fried batter with nothing inside. With these, I got 4 quarters of onion filled ring.

Thatboy ordered his favorite type of burger ever - one with bacon, cheese, onion rings, and bbq sauce. I knew he was going to get it the first time I saw the menu. He was very happy.

I felt really boring after I saw his. I just got a plain ole burger with some avocado added. I'm not huge on cheeseburgers, and this just hit the right spot. It was dripping in meat juice, fabulous if you like meat.

After dinner, we headed downstairs to the show. It was at the Lyceum and was our first experience with that theater.

The theater is actually really interesting. It has 2 stages and the "lobby" area is filled with art from a local artist, some of which was for sale. Local artist was actually there showing his friend some stuff. It was .....interesting. But if you like breasts, it was the place for you. Kind of a weird place to have such adult art given that the average age of the audience for our show was about 11. In fact, Thatboy and I decided we may have been the only people in the audience not related to our friends with the cast. I looked over the program and turned to Thatboy. "It makes me feel so jaded. I look at each bio where they plan on growing up and being an actor. They're so young and optomistic. You can tell they haven't been through their first year at UCLA yet."

As for the show itself.....during the opening number I thought "high energy is DEFINITELY the word for this show." A bunch of teenagers dancing and spazzing out on the stage. One girl kept tugging up her too big skirt, and another kept pushing her hair out of her face, and all of them were a little spastic. The main character, Evan was a little runt of a kid, and at first I didn't "feel" him for the part, but by the end I was completely won over. He did a great job and I actually felt his runtiness worked for the character perfectly. He did have braces or a retainer or something which gave him a very distinctive way of pronouncing his Ws.....something that reminded Thatboy and I of another young character in another show.

The show follows a 12 year, Evan, as he moves from NYC to Appleton, Indiana after his parent's divorce. He struggles to befriend the popular kids so that they'll come to his Bar Mitzvah - the pivotal part of every young Jewish child's life. It resonated with me since I grew up in a town very much like Appleton, Indiana where I was the only Bat Mitzvah in town. It has all the best parts of teenage life - love, betrayal, dating, and of course "the tongue."

Really though, the cast was fantastic. With a few VERY notable exceptions, they had great voices and high energy and were fun to watch. (Only one song had the two of us praying for relief and cheering when it was over because we had survived.) I do have to say I adore watching young kids sing, especially when they tuck their little chins into their little chests to sing the low notes. And the show was funny, and most of the time, the cast really understood the timing of the jokes (which can be awful with young kids.)

The songs were fun, but only two really stood out for me, which could be because the young actresses who sang them were really great. Thatboy felt that maybe we should give the whole album a shot, because the Broadway cast might be better. I'll leave you with one of our favorite songs done by the Broadway cast. It showcases how fabulous Jason Robert Brown is at writing songs, how great a young voice can be, and how EVIL teenage girls are.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The holidays are over

You know how I can tell? Because right about now I am ready for turkey again. Usually by the time the new year rolls around I'm pretty sick of turkey - between all the winter holidays, I get my fill. And yet, right about now, turkey dripping in gravy sounds oh so good.

And there's the rub people. Turkey dripping in gravy is a little time consuming and freezer filling for this early in the year. Especially when we've actually been using the weekends to catch up with friends. It's not like I'm going to roast a turkey for a weeknight dinner because that would mean leaving a bird roasting in our oven while I'm at work, and I love Thatdog too much to worry about him jumping through hoops of fire.

Which means when I want turkey, I'm reduced to making a breast, or tenderloins, or the stuff from my friendly neighborhood deli man (because he can slice it for me SO much thinner than I could ever hope to do myself). And making a breast, or tenderloins, or the stuff from the deli man means there aren't glorious turkey drippings for gravy. Can you hear me crying out there in blogland?

So I had to suck it up (a phrase I learned from my colorguard coach in high school - nice, right?) and make do with non-turkey gravy. BUT it's always helpful to know how to make gravy for topping beef, turkey, chicken, or even an openfaced sandwich on cheddar jalapeno bread*. So I thought I'd share with you this easy solution for gravy without the bird/beast. You can keep it in your freezer for the next time you get your turkey craving. Or just whip it up, like I did whenever the mood strikes you.

Instant Gravy (from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
2 Tbsp minced onion
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup dry red wine or vermouth (I use the red wine for beef and the vermouth for poultry)
1 1/2 cups beef or chicken broth (I use the beef broth for beef and.....forget it, you'll figure it out)

1) Saute onions in butter until translucent.
2) Stir in flour, cooking and stirring until light brown.
3) Remove from heat and add 1/4 cup wine/vermouth and 1/4 cup broth. Stir until smooth.
4) Return to heat and add remaining broth, stirring constantly.
5) Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring.
6) Add salt and pepper to taste.

*If you are going to use your gravy on an openfaced sandwich I highly recommend heating it up and warming your turkey/chicken/beef in the hot gravy before putting it on your cheddar jalapeno bread and pouring the gravy over top. It's better that way. Trust me.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Make New Friends, But Keep the Old

On Saturday morning I went for a run around Thatmom's house. Around .5 miles I almost stopped dead in my tracks. There's this grassy area by her house. It's not a park...just this weird grassy area with a couple of Adirondack chairs. Well the grassy area served as a frame for these gorgeous snow covered mountains that seemed to rise out of nowhere and touch the sky. I almost quit my run right then and there to get Thatboy and share the moment with him. But I didn't want to give up my run, so after I finished I called him and asked him to come meet me - and bring a camera. I wish you could have seen him running down the street in his pajamas, wondering what I was up to. He thought I must have seen an accident, requiring a camera. I wouldn't tell him what I wanted to show him until he came upon it himself. The pictures we took just didn't capture the magic, depth, height of the mountains, but let me just say - we do not get snow covered mountains in Southern California.

From the mountains, we headed to a feature we do see on a regular basis - the ocean. We were meeting The Actress and Armani in Laguna Beach. But on the way, we had to stop so Thatboy could watch the waves. Yup. That's how we role.

The Actress had requested meeting up at The Montage for lunch and sightseeing. I can't say I was surprised. The Actress is the one who introduced me to the phrase "chi chi la la" to describe many places in LA we used to frequent. Due to the events of last year, we haven't seen The Actress or Armani since their wedding - which is WAY too long. So we spent a lot of time catching up. In a very chi chi la la atmosphere. The Montage was gorgeous and even though our mouths dropped open at $15 chicken tenders, we very much enjoyed our lunch. Then we walked along the grounds. Alright everyone - FINALLY, all this text, you get a picture!

The waves were insane. They crashed right up on our little viewing platform, so we had to be on our game so we didn't get wet. But gorgeous, right? The Actress and Armani don't live as close to the water as Thatboy and I, and The Actress was entranced. It's definitely incentive for them to come back and visit us more.

On Sunday we took a little trip to meet some new friends. Earlier this month I got word that the internationally famous Psychgrad was going to be in my neck of the woods. Well, not quite my neck of the woods, but Palm Springs is a heck of a lot closer than Ottawa. So we hit the road to meet Psychgrad and her husband R.

When we were deciding on a good meeting place it was -15 degrees Celcius where Pyschgrad was. So she jumped at the idea of meeting someplace where we could eat outside. (Well I actually don't know if she jumped....we were communicating via email, but in my mind I picture her bouncing in her seat). She choose Matchbox Pizza.

Except we didn't realize that Matchbox wasn't open for lunch. Luckily, since it was a weekend, they were having a brunch - but strangely, there was no pizza on the menu. We made do.

Thatboy knew what he wanted in an instant. None of us were nearly as quick. But the idea of a short rib eggs benedict was irresistable to him. The only problem with the dish was that the egg was a little overcooked. It was pretty much hardboiled - which would have been perfect for me, but Thatboy actually likes his eggs runny.

Psychgrad had a Belgian waffle with fresh berries and cream. That's a lot of cream, huh?

I went back to my Southern upbringing. I seriously can't resist grits on a menu. Especially white cheddar grits. Throw biscuits and gravy in the mix and whooo doggies, we're in trouble. And those bacon strips - went right over to Thatboy's plate.

R was the lone voice of reason in our group. See, by the time we ate it was probably close to 12:30, and thinking we were going to eat lunch, we all ate breakfast. So everyone but R got a second breakfast. R, on the other hand, ordered a burger covered with a red wine gorgonzola butter, bacon, and cremini mushrooms.

It was fantastic eating with another blogger as we both whipped out our cameras when the food came - without thinking the other person was crazy. (I'm seriously not sure how Prez puts up with me) And getting to know Psychgrad and R was such a great experience - like meeting people you've known for a long time. And in a way, we kind of have known each other for a while, which makes this meeting a long time coming.

So in one weekend we had old friends, new friends, snow covered moutains, raging oceans, and even a desert. Pretty impressive, no?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hot Date Night

Prez and I have had a standing dinner date during restaurant week every year. It's been going on since the very first restaurant week. We take turns picking restaurants, but obviously run it by other person - because that's what partners do. And Prez is definitely my partner in crime when it comes to restaurant week.

For some reason, our restaurant picks always bring us to very romantic places, waterfront views, steak and seafood....We joke about our romantic dates since neither of us brings our significant others to these places.

This time it was Prez's turn to pick a restaurant so she sent me a preliminary list for me to narrow down before she made the final selection. We ended up at Peohe's.

Dark lighting, waterfalls - it just puts you in the mood, no?

And though you can't see it here because it was dark and pouring, the restaurant looks out over the bay and directly across to the city lights of San Diego. As we drove home over the bridge we remarked at how the rain really makes San Diego glow.

And really, what Peohe has to offer is the ambiance. Neither of us were expecting too much in terms of the food, but what you're really paying for is the view.

Once again, like any partnership, Prez and I picked the two appetizers we'd both want so we could go halvsies.

The artichoke with lemon basil aioli and clarified butter. Although Prez and I noticed that the butter also had a nice lemony taste.

Coconut Crunchy Shrimp. We both thought the shrimp looked so good that we wanted to try it, and it was good, but a little oily, so it was nice to split it.

We threw the partnership under the bus for the main course since both of us wanted the prime rib. It's fairly typical that our dinners out involve a nice cut of steak. Probably one of the reasons why Prez is one of my favorite dates ever.

For dessert, Prez ordered the No Ka Oi - similar to the famous Hula Pie, but with a different name. It consists of an oreo cookie shell topped with macademia nut ice cream and chocolate sauce.

I went with the key lime pie, which came on a mango-strawberry sauce. Making it delicious, but oh so sweet! Just like my hot date.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dark and Stormy

Things are crazy here in San Diego right now. Winds, rains, flooding. The water is coming down so hard, it's like living under a waterfall! Except it only seems to happen in brief buckets - as I learned when I left the house for my morning run with Thatdog. The first 1.5 miles were like running through fog - wet, but not raining. Then the skies opened up and the two of got a morning shower neither of us was thrilled with. And then, just about a block away from home, the skies cleared again. Weird. Thatboy tried to tell me last night that he drove through a river on his way home. "The splash was 15 feet high!" I'm thinking of sticking a life preserver in his trunk.

When the weather gets like this, it sometimes makes me feel like I'm not in Southern California anymore. The torrential downpour so heavy you can't see the car in front of you on the road reminds me of the hurricanes we had in Florida. Huddling the house with the windows taped up, crowded around the radio with only candles to light the room. The dark and cloudy skies bring me back to Pennsylvania winters and shivering after diving practice which was a winter sport there. And I had a winter sport nickname. We all had nicknames on the diving team, and mine was Snow White. During the summer when I was out in the sun all day, my hair would lighten to a reddish brown, but in those dark days of winter it was a rich dark brown - almost black when it was wet from diving. Pair that with my super fair skin and blue eyes, and it's not hard to figure out where the nickname came from.

Since moving to California I don't have the same drastic hair change. My hair is fairly constant year round because the sun is fairly constant year round. Which means every winter I get "winter roots" - where the dark brown growing in doesn't match the sunbleached ends. So every winter, when the skies are dark and cloudy, I rectify the situation in my very own hairsalon/bathroom, dying my ends the rich brown of my roots. Except something went wrong this weekend - somehow the dark brown didn't come out so dark brown. It would appear I have dyed my roots the red brown of my ends! Not noticeable to anyone else, but it feels very strange for me to have "summer hair" in January. Especially when it is very wintery and dark outside.

I can say I had better success with dinner than my hair. This came out exactly as I was expecting. I knew I wanted to make stuffed peppers with rice, but forgot to check and make sure we had rice. We didn't. We did however have a couple boxes of Uncle Ben's long grain and wild rice - which is Thatboy's hands down favorite side ever. So I figured I'd just use that. It worked! Although, to be honest, I think Thatboy prefers his long grain and wild rice unadulterated by peppers and marinara. When he starts making the rice instead of requesting it, I'll probably take his preferences more seriously.

Wild Rice Stuffed Peppers

1 bell pepper, cut in half lengthwise
1/2 cup Uncle Ben's wild rice
1/2 lb ground turkey
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 cup pasta/marinara sauce
1/4 cup shredded parmesean

1) Preheat oven to 350. Remove seeds from peppers and place in a baking dish.
2) Combine wild rice and box seasonings, turkey, egg, and bread crumbs in a bowl. Stuff this mixture into the peppers.
3) Pour pasta sauce over peppers and sprinkle cheese on top. Cover and bake 45 minutes.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Girl and a Grill

It's Restaurant Week here in San Diego again. Which makes this one happy Thatgirl. It means I get to try a new restaurant or two. Usually the restaurants we try during Restaurant Week are highly anticipated and either exceed expectations, or fall a little short.

I've been dying to try Kensington Grill for a while now. It's in an area of San Diego that is really coming into itself and becoming a great place for restaurants, neighborhood markets, and that kind of vibe you get from bigger cities where you can actually walk to everything you need.

Kensington Grill is run by the same people who run Cucina Urbana - our pick for last restaurant week! But Kensington Grill has a very different vibe. It actually reminds me more of the now defunct Laurel...which was owned by the same people. Dark, with clean lines and linens, wood, and organic shapes.

Unfortunately it was a night of hits and misses.

Hit: Thatboy loves absinthe. I think it has something to do with the fact that it used to be taboo. So he loves when restaurants serve it. We had an entire absinthe night last time we were in New York with all different concoctions. This one was just straight up.

Miss: The Bliss. Cocoa infused Rosebud Vodka, mixed with strawberry and champagne. Sounds great right? Actually, it was pretty good with the exception that there was no cocoa flavor at all. Pretty good for a strawberry champagne vodka, no so good for soemthing chocolate flavored.

Miss: Lamb spring roll. Okay, this might just be a miss for me because I thought it was duck for some reason and it really tasted weird for duck. I'm also not used to lamb having Asian flavors. It was an interesting mix of sweet and ....ummm....spiced? Not spicy, just a lot of spice.

Hit: Foraged Mushroom Gnocchi! Thatboy took one look at it and said "those gnocchi look storebought." Then he took one bite and said "those gnocchi are definitely not storebought." Pretty good. Not as good as the gnocchi at Cucina Urbana, but not bad. And I LOVED the red chard. Is that weird? Probably.

Miss: Pork Oso Bucco. This was actually too rich for me. Not what I'd usually say about pork. The sides were fantastic though - brussels sprouts roasted with pancetta and mashed potatoes with apple confit. Both played with a mix of flavors, bitter and smokey, sweet and savory....

Hit: According to Thatboy at least. He loved this wild game meatloaf, made with veal, wild boar, and venison. But he's a meatloaf person. I'm not. He thought the gorgonzola mashed potatoes were a little too cheesy. I don't think such a thing exists.

Hit: Banana Bread Pudding. Thatboy thought it was going to be banana bread, made into bread pudding. It was actually bread pudding with bananas, but nevertheless it was heavenly.

Hit AND Miss: Depending on who you ask. A trio of sorbets - blackberry, peach champagne, and orange. Thatboy loved the blackberry, it was his favorite. I think the blackberry sorbet I made this summer is better. He didn't like the orange or the peach champagne. I actually really liked the lightness of the orange and the peach champagne. So really, everyone won.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Un autre l'un pour le français

When I worked as a waitress (and everyone should work as a waitress) there was a sandwich we served that was insanely popular - it was a roast beef french dip. I have to admit, there was nothing special about this sandwich. It wasn't even that good. But people loved it. And when it was removed from the menu, there was rioting. Okay, maybe not rioting, but I got to hear my fill of bellyaching from the regulars who somehow believed I was personally responsible for it's removal.

I can see the allure of a french dip. There's something so comforting about a warm sandwich, dipped in a warm dip. It's like the ultimate soup and sandwich. And if you make as much soup as we do, it's also a great way to use up some leftover french onion soup. And this is a very tasty french onion soup.

Unlike where I worked, this french dip is made with ground turkey and not roast beef. Because I never have roast beef in the house. It's not my meat of choice. And this could just as easily be done with sliced turkey. I just thought making a nice turkey burger to dip in french onion soup sounded really good - don't you? Especially ground turkey cooked in that same french onion soup. MMMMMMMMM c'est magnifique!

Turkey French Dip
1/2 lb ground turkey
1/2 cup French Onion Soup (see below)
2 burger buns

1) Divide the ground turkey into two patties.
2) Cook burger in skillet over medium high heat until browned on both sides. Remove from skillet.
3) Pour soup into skillet and heat to a boil. Put burgers back in skillet and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 5 minutes, or until the burgers are cooked through.
4) Remove burgers from soup and place on buns. Pour hot soup from skillet into ramekins for dipping.

French Onion Soup (from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
3 Tbsp butter
4 cups thinly sliced onions
1/2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp flour
fresh ground pepper

1) Melt the butter in a large pot.
2) Add the onions and cook them very slowly over low heat, stirring often.
3) Stir in the sugar and flour and cook for 3 minutes.
4) Add 4 cups of water and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Add the salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Vous êtes parfait

When Thatbrother and I were little we had a very special favorite dessert. I'm not really sure who invented and/or named it, but we called it a "parfait." Now I do know that no one in our family actually invented parfaits. Parfaits are a dessert made of layers of ice cream, gelatin, fruit, granola, etc. etc. etc. (anyone remember Jello 1-2-3s?)

Our parfaits were very different. Thatmom or Thatdad would give us an 8oz plastic cup and let us loose in the pantry. We'd layer crackers, pretzels, dried fruit, nuts, whatever we could find in that little cup. It was great for portion control and made us feel like we had artistic license over our food.

But now I'm a grown up, and have artistic license over all my food. So I don't need to let loose in the pantry. Although I do still love colorful layer of goodie atop colorful layer of goodie. And so I have returned to the parfait, but in its more traditional form. I've been using yogurt, which makes this a breakfast food, right? Even if it is dripping in caramel?

Carmel Apple Parfait
1 cup strawberry banana yogurt
1/2 cup diced apple
1 Tbsp caramel

1. Place 1/2 cup of yogurt in a glass and top with diced apples.
2. Pour remaining half cup of yogurt over apples and spoon caramel on top.

Papaya and Pineapple Parfait
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped pineapple
1/4 cup chopped papaya
2/3 cup maple granola

1. Mix yogurt and cinnamon together. Place 1/2 cup of yogurt in a glass. Top with half of the pineapple and papaya.
2. Top fruit with granola and remaining yogurt.
3. Layer remaining fruit and granola on top of the yogurt.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

She'll be coming round the mountain

When Thatboy and I were staying with his parents for Christmas, TBIL invited us to join him and his family on a trip up to visit TBIL's grandfather. Only problem? Thatmom, Thatbrother, TFIL, and TMIL were not invited. So we declined. It turns out, he only wanted us to come so Thatboy could share in the driving. Nice, right? Anyway, Thatboy was disappointed because there's snow where TBIL's grandfather lives. Because he was sad, I promised him I would take him to the snow when we got home.

I booked us a cabin outside of Arrowhead and we were on our way. We sent out invitations to friends and family, but since the Chargers made the playoffs, we ended up going on our own. (NOW who's sorry they backed out? Although super sad face for the Chargers).

When we arrived, our cabin was still being "cleaned" (although apparently cleaning does not involve making the bed or emptying the food from the fridge), so we headed into the town of Running Springs. With a stop on the way to check out the snow!

There are going to be a lot of pictures of Thatdog in the snow. Because he just looks SO cute in the snow! This was his first experience with snow, and he wasn't the biggest fan. First, it's super slippery. And second, when it's soft, it disappears right below his feet. He doesn't like that AT ALL.

This is the town of Running Springs. Exciting, no?

We were starving from our short drive, and so we decided to partake in the local food scene.

Neo's IS the local food scene. Serving pizza, Italian, Mexican, and Chinese. All under one roof! It's like Running Spring's very own Epcot.

I was intrigued by the idea of chorizo pizza, especially because chorizo is my current "oh my god I must have it" ingredient of the moment. Thatboy wanted to go with his classic pepperoni and cheese. So we went halvsies. And he still ate a good portion of my half. Must be nice to have hollow legs.

Pizza in hand, we headed back to what was to be our home sweet cabin for the next few nights.

As I mentioned, the master bed wasn't made, but because I am queen of the prepareders, I had brought our own sheets and towels with us so we could ensure we were sleeping on something not disgusting.

Check out our fireplace! Which we put to good use. I'm currently typing this while sitting in front of a roaring blaze. Not too roaring though - we do have fire issues in California, and the cabin is made of wood.

We settled in for a night of lasagna, beer, movies, and highly competitive games of Uno and Ziggity. We were going to play War, but neither of us could remember exactly how it was played.

This morning we awoke and headed up to Big Bear for the day. Although it was definitely much closer to not being morning by the time we arrived.

We did a little shopping, stopping to get Thatdog some treats and TMD some boots. Poor allergic TMD!

After walking around for a bit, Thatboy decided the 5 pancakes he had eaten for breakfast had worn off, and he was hungry. So we stopped for lunch at The Peppercorn Grille. Thatboy and I weren't expecting much, because - as I put it "where's the nearest competion? LA?"

We were pleasantly surprised. Thatboy was very pleased with his chicken satay wrap. But he was very impressed with those potato wedges. "It's like they just cut the potato a couple of minutes ago and then roasted in perfectly. They are so good and fresh!"

I went with the special of the day - a turkey sandwich with avocado, provolone, and a black cherry aioli. Thatboy was a little doubtful about the aioli, but I loved the sweetness compared to the turkey.

Around this time, the weather dropped about 15 degrees to "definitely below freezing" and so we decided it was time to head back. But of course we had to make a stop at Sugar Pine Bakery.

I had read this place was worth the stop - so of course I made us stop. Especially since it was on our way back from Big Bear to the cabin. The plan was to pick up some goodies for tonight and tomorrow morning. Like this cinnamon roll brioche - which is going to go fabulously with our eggs...although I'm beginning to suspect that French Toast might be more in order.

And Thatboy, who doesn't like peanut butter and chocolate together, picked out this peanut butter chocolate brownie for dessert tonight. When I reminded him he didn't like peanut butter and chocolate his response was "I know, but that looks SO good." He devoured the whole thing tonight, and loved every bite.

I wanted a cupcake (naturally) and asked whether their pumpkin or red velvet were better. I was told the pumpkin was phenomenal, so that's what I got. It was supposed to have cream cheese frosting, but in my opinion, the frosting tasted more like marshmallow - which was a nice change. And I am definitely a fan of the gummy bear on top of cupcakes. And the colored sugar. I keep meaning to pick some up because I really think that colored sugar makes a cupcake.

Even though we were only picking up treats for later, Thatboy couldn't resist grabbing a whoopie pie for the road.

Or should I say, the parking lot. We didn't get very far before he devoured it.

After we were all sugared up, we saw a bunch of people pulled over to the side of the road, enjoying the snow and hills Big Bear has to offer.

And since we happened to have a sled in our trunk, we joined in the fun!

Thatdog started feeling a little jealous, and wanted in on the action.

But he refused to get on the sled. Well, that's a half-truth. He got on the sled, but would jump off as soon as it started moving. He was not a fan. So we figured out another way to get him involved.

Side note - how frickin' adorable is Thatdog in his winter wear?

"PLEASE no more pictures. I just want to run and enjoy myself!"

As we headed out of Big Bear, it started to snow. Which I tried to capture on film, but those pesky snowflakes just don't show up on film. Like vampires.

We headed back to the cabin for more movies, lasagna, wine, and some fabulous hot chocolate (which I'm sipping on now - with a fair amount of marshmallows drowning in it)