Thursday, April 29, 2010


Maybe one of my kind readers can help me figure out a workout routine I saw at the gym tonight. There were two girls....we'll call them....Thing 1 and Thing 2. They were doing some kind of interval training. I almost recognized it. Now I've done interval training before - when I'm running this is when I alternate between running as hard as I can, and a more comfortable pace. When I'm weight training, I alternate between some heavy duty cardio and weights. But what I saw tonight was new to me.

First, they began with the world's slowest walk on the elliptical. I wasn't even sure it was possible to walk on the elliptical. But I bet it would have been hard to run, barefoot as they were. Then came the part where they sat on the floor touching their toes, talking to each other. This was followed by Thing 1 returning to the treadmill for more walking while Thing 2 left the gym to talk on her cellphone. It was repeated about 3 times.

As for me, my favorite kind of intervals are those involving layers of super fattening sauces and super healthy meats. It's another way of getting your heart rate up and then down, and then up, and then down. And it's the tastiest way if you ask me.

Like this southwestern chicken and pasta bake. Layers of pasta, chicken, cheese....that's an interval I can get behind. Plus it was a great way to use the gigantic penne I picked up in Atlanta. I love bringing things home with me, and this was a great buy. Bigger than penne, but just a little smaller than manicotti tubes. They hold the chicken and cheese and sauce inside of them, so each bite is perfect.

Southwestern Chicken and Pasta Bake
12 oz your favorite pasta
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
2 cups shredded Mexican style cheese
2 cups cooked chicken, diced
1 can Mexican style corn with bell peppers
1 jalapeno, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 375. Cook and drain pasta. Combine sour cream, milk, and half of cheese in a large bowl.
2. Stir in pasta, chicken, corn, and jalapeno. Spoon into a baking dish sprayed with baking spray.
3. Sprinkle remaining half of cheese on top. Bake for 25 minutes.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pump up the Jams

I mentioned that last weekend San Diego was a-buzzin' with activity. On Sunday we headed to the Adam's Avenue Roots Festival - a two day music festival featuring a variety of musical styles. One of the performers I really wanted to see played on Saturday, but we still got to see some really great artists. And Thatboy fell in love.

Adams Avenue spans three areas - Kensington, Normal Heights, and University Heights. While your average tourist doesn't usually get over to this area, it could truly be called the "heart" of San Diego city. If you live in a city like New York, Chicago, or San Francisco, you can go for years without having to drive. Everything you need is right in "the neighborhood." Most of San Diego isn't like that, except for this area, which is home to stores, markets, fabulous local bars and some of the best restaurants in the county. And it also houses some pretty great street festivals.

The Roots Festival is no exception. Adams Avenue itself is closed off for several streets with several stages to showcase the performers.

There are food and crafts all along the street, and in addition to the stages, there were "street buskers" who played on the corners.

I used the opportunity as an excuse to play with the video camera part of my camera. I've had this camera for about 18 months and I've NEVER played with video function. I warn you - it's pretty shaky and might give you motion sickness. So when you click on the video, maybe do something else and just listen. After all, it's the music that matters.

First up we got to see Sarah Watkins.

Halfway through her set, Thatboy turned to me and said "I have a crush on Sarah Watkins." He spent the rest of the performance giving her meaningful glances and trying to get her to look his way. I have a bitty crush on her too - that girl plays a mean fiddle.

Next we heard Orquesta Primo, but the inlaws didn't want to venture to watch them perform. It's amazing how small minded people can be. TFIL put up with the fiddling, but there was no way he was going to stand and watch salsa/folklorico. But the music sounded very high energy and fun.

Also vetoed were The Devastators and Robin Henkel who were also deemed "not music" by the inlaws.

We settled on Joanie Mendenhall who played her music at what was determined to be an acceptable volume.

She describes her style as "acoustic pop/alternative" but to me, she sounded like a throwback to older times. We just watched An Education a couple weeks ago (jeepers I love Nick Hornby) and it reminded me of the music of that era. Especially with the French influence the music in the movie had.

After Joanie, we stuck around for Gregory Page.

He was a huge hit with the inlaws, beginning his set with "I'm going to sit right down and write myself a letter" which had TFIL (who was complaining that his legs were cramping from all the walking we'd been doing) grabbing TMIL and bringing her out to dance.

Sometimes I'm like a spoiled kid at Christmas - especially with music. I didn't want to leave and I wished we could have been there on Saturday too. It's just never enough with me. Luckily I don't have to wait till next year, because there'll be another street festival in September!

With all the inlaw meals I've been blogging, I forgot to add one fairly unimportant entry - the salad. TFIL likes a salad with every dinner he has, whether eating in or eating out. What has always struck me as interesting, is that he serves the salad course first. Not incredibly unusual, except for the fact that TFIL believes the Europeans are the only people who know how to cook. period. end of story. He refuses to eat barbecue, or Mexican food, or various Asian cuisines other than a certain Chinese restaurant by his house. Well, you'll never guess what culture eats their salads AFTER the meal.....that's right! Europeans. Just a little trivia for y'all because I love you so very much. So here is one of the many nightly salads we consumed with some of my favorite ingredients - fruit and nuts!

Apple Walnut Salad
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup greek yogurt
3 Tbsp vinegar (I have an assortment I alternate through depending on my mood)
2 tsp sugar
4 cups of your favorite greens
2 red apples, cored and chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

1) Whisk together the syrup, yogurt, vinegar, and sugar.
2) Whisk in oil gradually until you have a nice thick dressing. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
3) Toss greens, apples, cranberries, and walnuts in a bowl. Toss with dressing.

Monday, April 26, 2010

For Art's Sake

Let me just begin by noting that when the inlaws told us they wanted to come visit, they specifically asked if they could come down "when there was something happening in San Diego." I shouldn't be too surprised, because the only times they've come to visit us is when we had a major event like a wedding or graduation. And even then, they tried to have us schedule events around trips they wanted to make to the symphony, or other local attractions.

"Have them come the last week of April" I told Thatboy. San Diego is just buzzing with activity that weekend! And now I regret that statement. More than anything. Because I didn't realize that when they said they wanted to go to San Diego activities, they meant - they wanted to go for 15 minutes or less. So they could get back to the hotel and sit and read and nap. Boo. Hiss. So I got to miss one of the most fabulous weekends in San Diego. Blah.

The plan for Saturday was to go to the Little Italy Art Walk. An event that happens once a year. But TMIL also wanted to squeeze in a trip to the Museum of Contemporary Art. Which is open year round. And which they could have gone to on one of their days without Thatboy and I. Because contemporary art on the street isn't NEARLY as good as something in a museum. Because, you know, if it's in a museum it's brilliant. Just like Sunset Magazine.

Once a year, Little Italy is transformed.

4 streets are closed off, along with all the streets that connect them, of course. And rows of artists of all media. It's amazing.

After the first block, TFIL turned to us and asked when we could move on to the next activity. He was done with this. He doesn't like contemporary art. When Thatboy asked him what kind of art he likes, he was unable to answer. He said he likes "art that's done well." Thatboy asked what medium he enjoyed. TFIL replied "any medium that's done well." Thatboy asked if he liked a certain age or genre of art. TFIL doesn't. We decided (between Thatboy and I) that TFIL doesn't like anything that gives people pleasure. He doesn't like television, movies, fiction books, music that has lyrics, and apparently art. Fun times.

In addition to really great art, there was also musicians. Thatboy got sucked in to watching these guys for a while.

And because I'm a shopper at heart, I had to get something. Well, I didn't have to. But I walked right by these little birdie pictures and WANT. So I picked up a print to take home.

How adorable are those chubby little chicks? The artist is Marna Schindler and she specializes in animal prints. I don't usually love animal prints, but I seriously love these birds which she calls "Little Buddies." I want to get them for everyone I know.

After we saw about half the festival, TFIL could take it no longer. He really wanted to move on to the next activity. Thatboy pointed out the next activity would be looking at more art. TFIL said "yes, but it's a different style." To which I pointed out that it was actually the same style as what we were viewing that he hated. But off to La Jolla we went! To sit in traffic because UGH La Jolla on the weekends.

The Museum of Contemporary Art is tiny. TMIL was concerned she wouldn't be able to see it all before it closed. I assured her she'd be able to see it multiple times in the time we had. TFIL was disgusted by almost every exhibit and at one point went and sat in the lobby.

This is the exhibit that greets you as you enter. It's animatronic, so the sculpture actually moves, as though it were doing the tagging. Which fooled me at first!

My favorite part of the museum is the sculpture garden. Thatboy and I usually do a quick tour of the current exhibition before heading out here for a while.

Because it's our favorite view in La Jolla.

I mean, sure, you can walk along the cove. And I've done that on many occasions. But from the MCASD garden you get the water framed with palm trees and flowers.

And even some fun sculptures.

Plus Thatboy likes to climb on everything, which is encouraged, even though it's still technically a museum.

And even when you're not looking at the water, it's still a pretty cool view.

With bright colors that just make you smile. After the museum, we dropped the inlaws off for their required nap/reading time. I put up dinner and spent some quality bitching time where I both gave and received. Apparently it does not help the situation when I start acting like a childish brat. Who'd have guessed? And then the inlaws came over for dinner.

Pot Roast
TMIL makes a great pot roast according to Thatboy. But according to Thatboy, I make it better. Even when using her recipe. This is not her recipe. I didn't want to show her up. But this makes an impossibly tender, fall of your fork meat. And I love the flavor V8 gives it. I know a lot of people use tomato sauce, or tomato paste, or even ketchup, but V8 is the way to go.

2 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 lb boneless chuck roast
3 Tbsp shortening
1 onion, sliced
2 tsp thyme
1 cup V8
1/2 tsp Tabasco Sauce

1. In a small bowl, combine flour, salt, and pepper. Rub all over the roast.
2. Melt the shortening in a dutch oven. When hot, add the roast and brown on all sides.
3. Lower the heat and add remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer 3 hours, turning half way through.

Brussels Sprouts
I LOVE brussels sprouts. So does TMIL. Thatboy? Not so much. But I used their visit as an excuse to make a veggie I don't get to make so often. This is a super basic way to make them. Just drop them in boiling water and boil for about 9 minutes. Then toss with melted butter, salt, and pepper. This way they retain some of their crunch - which I love.

Potato Pancakes
Since the hash brown went over so well, I thought I'd try Fannie Farmer's recipe for potato pancakes. They were a hit. TMIL got so excited when I brought these to the table!

3 medium potatoes
1 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp heavy cream
1 egg, beaten
4 Tbsp oil

1. Peel and grate potatoes. Place them on a double thickness of paper towels, fold the towels around them, and twist and squeeze until most of the moisture is extracted.
2. Put the potatoes in a bowl, add the flour, cream, egg, and salt, and toss until well mixed.
3. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Put about 2 Tbsp of the potato mixture in the pan and press and shape with a spatula into a flat pancake. Repeat until the pan is full, but not crowded.
4. Cook each pancake 5 minutes over medium low heat until the bottom is crisp and brown. Turn and cook the other side 5 minutes more.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Take a Hike

So, the original plan for Friday was to go wine tasting, since the inlaws LOVED when Thatboy and I took them wine tasting in Sonoma. And last time they came down, I gave TMIL a gift basket with some local wines and she really loved one that's just about 20 minutes from us.

BUT, as usual, TFIL had to put a damper on our plans. You see, TFIL, who used to drink on a daily basis, was told by his doctor, once again, that the alcohol was NOT good for his diabetes. Although he has been told this before, he decided to take it seriously and no longer drinks. Which is fabulous - I'm honestly really happy he's taking care of himself. The problem is, when TFIL decides to do something he RAILS against everyone who is doing what he likes to do. So now every time he sees someone drinking he goes on and on and on about how terrible alcohol is for you, and how it keeps you from accomplishing anything, and slows down your mental facilities, and makes you unmotivated, and so on and so forth. So we decided taking him to a winery so that TMIL could enjoy her chardonnay (which she drinks a bottle of every night), would be miserable for all of us listening to him rant and rave.

Instead, we asked TMIL and TFIL what they would like to do and TMIL inquired if there was any hiking in the area. There is. A ton. And we decided to take them to one of our favorite easy hiking spots - because TFIL doesn't like exerting himself too much. So off to Cabrillo National Monument we went.

And BONUS! Because it's National Park week, we got in free!!!!!!!!!

This is Juan Cabrillo. I think he founded San Diego...or something like that. It tells the story on the base of that statute, but I don't remember what it says. I was distracted by the view. And wouldn't you be?

I love San Diego.

And the views from Cabrillo National Monument are some of the best in the county.

And the hike around it gives you these views the entire time.

Except Thatdad missed most of these views. Because at the very start of the trail, he decided he didn't want to go on the hike. So he sat on a bench while we did the 1 mile, scenic hike, we had picked out especially because it would be easy for him.

Even this little guy gave him the side eye.

I called these plants the Seuss flowers. Because, they look like something from the Lorax.

Thatboy calls these the "Lost" islands. He thinks the survivors of Oceanic 815 probably live there.

This is the new lighthouse. The working one. So pretty and scenic! I love the lighthouse and palm trees surrounding it. But because it's working, we spent our time at the old lighthouse.

This one hasn't been in use since the early 1900s...I think. There was another one of those plaque thingies I didn't really read or remember. But ooooohhhh light house!

We got to go inside and climb up to the top!

I always forget how much we love Cabrillo, and TMIL agreed. She kept saying things like "I didn't even know this place existed" which was funny, because she's not from San Diego so I don't know how she'd know about it. But she thought it was beautiful and really enjoyed our time there.

As for TFIL....for the past 3 days he kept asking if we could go to Nordstroms Rack....seriously? Oookkkeeee - so after lunch we headed to Nordstroms Rack. Since we were there, I picked up some new kicks for me. Snazzy, no?

And by then it was 3pm. Which is naptime for TFIL. To be fair, he'd been asking when we were heading back since about 5 minutes after we got to Cabrillo. Because no one can go for 5 hours without a nap! That's insanity!

While he napped and TMIL read, Thatboy and I hit up the gym and made dinner. Something simple and comforting. Stew and bread!

Irish Stew

A great way to use up leftover lamb - and we had leftover lamb in the freezer, perfect! And oh so easy.

1 lb of lamb, cut into bite sized pieces
2 Tbsp shortening
1 cup carrot, sliced
1 cup turnip, cubed
1 potato, peeled and cubed
1 onion, sliced

  1. Melt shortening in dutch oven. Add lamb and brown on all sides.
  2. Pour 2 cups of boiling water over lamb, cover and simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Add carrots, turnips, potatoes, onion, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer 30 minutes.

Garlic Bread
I have to admit, having the extra time in the afternoon to make dinner meant I got to make homemade bread. Which I LOVE doing. I took my favorite French Bread Recipe, and when it came out of the oven, I cut slices into it and spread some homemade garlic butter down the slices. Then I wrapped it in foil and heated it at 400 until it got all good and garlicy. Yum.

Chocolate Bread Pudding
Because every good dinner needs an equally homey comforting dessert!

1 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 cups super hot milk
1 cup bread cubes
1/6 cup sugar
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 325. Spray a 1 qt baking dish with cooking spray. Break chocolate into bit and melt in the milk, stirring until smooth.
  2. Add the bread crumbs and set aside to cool.
  3. Once cool, add remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into the baking dish and bake for 50 minutes.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

All Good in Carlsbad

Thatboy and I took the day off work to entertain TFIL and TMIL. TMIL is an AVID reader of Sunset magazine. Not like "oh, I enjoy the articles" kind of reader, but a "some people read the bible, I read Sunset magazine" kind of reader. She literally uses it to plan every every day trip they go on, and every restaurant they eat at. And recently they did an article about Carlsbad. So TMIL requested we go there. You know, because SUNSET MAGAZINE SAID TO.

Which wasn't a big deal for Thatboy and I. We had already planned on taking them to the Flower Fields after our last successful trip. TMIL loves flowers and gardens. She had a fabulous time. And last time we were there, the roses weren't quite in bloom yet, this time they were big, beautiful, and fragrant. So I played some more with my Super Macro.

And we also found this little guy who looks SO freaking cool. And SO freaking scary. Check out those green/blue fangs! And all them eyes! Anyone have a clue what kind of spider this is? I'm thinking "poisonous" but I'm sure someone will fill me in with a more technical name.

After the Flower Fields, TMIL wanted to pick up a gift for the upcoming birthday of Thatniece. So we used a super special "get in free" pass to Legoland to pick up a present. Everyone should visit Legoland for free. I highly recommend it. Because then you get to see dinosaurs made out of legos:

And elephants made out of legos:

And of course, buildings made out of legos! Like the Capitol building in Washington D.C.

And the Lincoln Memorial:

And one of our favorite weekend destinations:

And of course, New York City!!!!

It's fun to see miniaturized versions of places we've been in real life. But not everyone thought it was so much fun. As we were leaving, we saw some parent berating a poor entrance worker. The conversation went something like:

Crazy Angry Mom: You know. I really wish this place didn't have x-boxes.
Poor Entrance Worker: Yes Ma'am.
CAM: I don't even know why you would have video games at an amusement park. Completely unnecessary and it makes things very difficult.
PEW: Yes Ma'am.

Seriously? I mean, I get she was with 3 children, one of whom was crying hysterically....but somehow I don't really see how that's Legoland's fault. Hundreds of children are able to enjoy the park even with a video game in the gift shop...used to sell the many Lego video games that are out there. Because you aren't able to control your ONE child around video games, the entire park should cater to that child? That's not how the world works. I can't wait till the kid goes to a school that uses COMPUTERS or something else mom doesn't want him around.

After Legoland, we headed to the Village of Carlsbad for some lunch and walking around. Except, even though this was exactly what TMIL wanted to do, TFIL complained so much about how tired he was, and how he wanted to go back to the hotel and take a nap, we ended up cutting the trip short and dropping them off for a break while I whipped up dinner.

And what did we have for dinner?

I don't love meatloaf, but Thatboy does, and it cooks quickly. I made this one with ground beef since the inlaws think ground turkey is just for crazy hippies. It's been a while since I've had a ground beef meatloaf, and it was actually pretty good. And covering it with bacon helps ensure the inside stays nice and moist.

1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 onion, chopped
1 egg, beaten
1 lb ground beef
1 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce
3/4 tsp dry mustard
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3/8 cup milk
3 strips bacon

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Pat the mixture into a loaf pan and cover with bacon. Bake 45 minutes.

Steamed Green Beans
I'm a huge fan of steamed veggies. I like the crispness of them. Thatboy never had steamed veggies before me, but definitely prefers them tossed with butter.

1 lb green beans

1. Wash beans and remove ends. Steam in steamer basket about 12 minutes.
2. Drain, toss with butter, salt, and pepper to taste.

Hashed Brown Potatoes
I have a HUGE problem with making hashed browns. Remember? As usual, when I'm terrible at something, I turn to Fannie Farmer for the answers. And as usual, she provides. These are not only THE BEST Hashed Brown Potatoes I have ever made, they are also THE BEST Hashed Brown Potatoes I have ever eaten. SO good. The inlaws were very impressed as they have never had anything like that. They're not potato people...which is ironic given their pride on their Irish heritage. I will never ever ever use another recipe again, these are the answer to everything.

6 Tbsp oil
4 cups potatoes, peeled and finely diced
1 Tbsp onion, finely chopped

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Spread the potatoes evenly over the bottom and sprinkle the onion, salt, and pepper on top.
2. I'm bolding this, because this is THE most important part. I have a problem getting my potatoes cooked through so they can be mashed into the skillet for hash brown making. Fannie Farmer says "Cover the pan and cook over a low heat to cook them through; then turn up the heat for a final browning." PERFECT.
3. While potatoes are cooking, you're going to press down on the potatoes firmly with a spatula several times, and cook until the bottom side is golden brown.
4. With the spatula, cut down the middle of the potatoes and turn each side over.
5. Cook until golden, again pressing down with a spatula several times.

And for dessert: Baked Bananas
The inlaws LOVED this. The sweetness of the banana, the tartness of the lemon. And far healthier for TFIL, the diabetic than ice cream or cake.

4 Tbsp butter
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1 Tbsp lemon juice
4 firm bananas
4 Tbsp dark brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350. Put butter, lemon rind, and lemon juice in a baking dish and put it in the oven for 2-3 minutes, until butter is melted.
2. Stir butter and lemon and place peeled bananas in dish, coating with the butter/lemon.
3. Sprinkle brown sugar over the bananas and bake for 15 minutes.