Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Crave Wednesday: Margarita Ice-Cream Sandwiches

If you follow me on any social media, then you'll know we just got back from a trip.  And I can't wait to fill y'all in on that next week.  But first, it reminded me that in the hustle and bustle of wrapping up last year (seriously it's nonstop holiday time beginning the second day of October!) I haven't even filled you in on our last family trip.

I don't think I've spoken much about how Thatboy and I first started dating, but the short story of it is that we met at college- UCLA.  And it's been a loooooooooong time since we've been back.  And our kids have never been there.    So we decided to take advantage of a long weekend (for Thatkid and Thatboy) and head up for an LA weekend.

Through some amazing Priceline shopping, I managed to score us a great rate at the Langham Huntington in Pasadena.  So our first day had us checking in to our luxury hotel, that was once the Ritz Carlton  Huntington Hotel.

The main building was originally constructed in 1907, as the Hotel Wentworth.  Further stories and that central tower were added when it was purchased by Henry Huntington in 1911.  In 1989, the building was demolished and reconstructed to make it more Earthquake safe.

Our first day there was still a workday for me.  So Thatboy took the boys to the nearby children's museum, while I stayed behind and worked.

The next day we explored Pasadena.  I have an office in the area, but I rarely get far beyond the restaurants that are a few streets away from our building.  I feel like we walked miles and miles, which seems funny, since Pasadena is not a huge area!

We had big plans for the evening, so we stopped and grabbed sandwiches at a store that just happened to specialize in ice cream floats.

After "lunch" it was back to the hotel for naps and pool time.  Which is when we found out the Langham Huntington does a S'mores Happy Hour for the kids.

And a Happy Hour Happy Hour for the adults, where they handed us free cocktails to drink - probably as penance for sugaring our children up.

And then it was back to the room to get ready for our big evening plans - the UCLA football game!

The boys were super excited, and Thatboy had gotten us great seats, close to the field which definitely helped keep our kids focused.

Look at that face of concentration.  Actually, he's probably looking at the television screens waiting for the bear to come out and roar. 

We left shortly after half-time, and before we had even left the stadium parking lot....

The next day, with the children all hopped up on a UCLA win, we took them to the campus itself.

We gave them a little tour as we met with our family photographer for some family pictures, then took them into Westwood to show them where mom and dad used to hang out.

Of course, you can't go to Westwood without a stop at Diddy Riese.  It's even a draw for that other school who make the trek across the city for some of those cookies.   Thatbaby and I stuck with the regular cookies, but Thatboy and Thatkid went big - ice cream cookie sandwiches.

The whole weekend definitely sold Thatkid.  He's ready to apply tomorrow and follow in the footsteps of his parents.  Football and ice cream?  College sounds like heaven.

The secret behind Diddy Riese isn't really a secret - it's just a really good cookie.  And the ice cream sandwiches are good because....they're on really good cookies.  It seems too simple to be true, but it is.  You can make any ice cream sandwich exceptional by using exceptional cookies as your base.  These margarita cookies fit that description perfectly.  A classic sugar cookie, with added lime and salt.  And whether you like your margaritas on the rocks, frozen, with our without salt, you've got to admit those flavors are just meant for each other.  You can use any ice cream you'd like in the center after that - but might as well keep that citrus rolling with sherbet - orange, lemon, lime, they all work really well. 

Margarita Ice-Cream Sandwiches (From Cooking Light)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
5 tsp grated lime rind
Juice of 1 lime
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp turbinado sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cups vanilla ice cream, softened
2 cups sherbet, softened

  1. Place butter and sugar in an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
  2. Add an egg, 1 Tbsp rind, and lime juice.  Beat 2 minutes or until well combined.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until just combined.
  5. Divide dough into 2 equal portions, shape each into  6-inch log and wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill 3 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 350.  Cut each log into 16 slices and place 1 inch apart on silpat lined baking sheets.
  7. Sprinkle with 2 tsp rind, turbinado sugar, and sea salt.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Cool 2 minutes on pan and then cool completely on wire rack.
  8. Place ice cream and sherbet in a bowl and fold together.
  9. Scoop 1/4 cup ice cream mixture onto bottom of 1 cookie, top with 1 cookie.  
  10. Wrap each sandwich in plastic wrap and freeze for 4 hours.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Mommy Mondays: Game Night

Evenings round here are usually a mess.  A rush from school and work, to dinner, bath and bed.

The kids are usually tired, and cranky,  and wound up,  and trying to kill each other.  It's not my favorite time of day.

I'm trying to change that though. I'm sure time will play a big part, because I do teenager nice family dinners from my childhood, albeit not when I was 5 or 2.

One night a week we do movie night,  having dinner in front of the television where no one is forced to touch or talk to anyone. .. for at least 20 minutes before Thatbaby starts losing  interest.

One other night? 2018 is the year of Game Night.

Dinner around the coffee table where we play Candyland, Fishing,  dinosaur bingo,  Sorry, and lots of other games.

There's no fighting, no crying, and we actually enjoy each other's company.

For up to 20 minutes, when Thatbaby loses interest.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Sunday Runday: Cardiff Kook 10k

I keep meaning to write about the Cardiff Kook 10k, and then I keep forgetting. It's just been one of those months.

So let me take you back to the beginning of the month.  I signed up for the Cardiff Kook 10k, because I'm trying to run more 10ks, and I already know I really like this one.  I didn't have any goals in mind,  especially since I haven't run a race for time in months,  and a 10k in even longer.  I figured this would give me a good benchmark for what I needed to do to get my sub - hour goal.  I'd run it nice and easy, and just see how I felt.

I'm currently training for a half marathon,  and the weekend of the race fell on my 8 mile run.  I'm really trying to train smarter for this half,  so I didn't want to blow off my schedule this early on. I parked a mile from the start line and ran a nice, easy mile into Encinitas.

I hung out for a little bit, waiting for the race to start,  before self-seeding myself toward the rear of the pack.  And then we were off.

There's so much I love about this race,  and the first half is so nice, scenic,  and downhill.  At the first mile,  my Nike app informed me I was well under a 10 minute mile.  I thought about pulling back a bit,  but I wasn't pushing it,  so I just let it ride.

I got a similar notification at mile 2. At this point I figured I might as well take advantage of all this downhill,  because I'd definitely be slowing down as I headed back,  uphill.

It was a gorgeous day,  the perfect weather for running.  And as I passed the Cardiff Kook,  I spotted a friend and her kids.  I knew this meant her husband was running the course, and I spent the next mile looking for him to pass me on his way back. Which he did shortly before mile 3.

At mile 3 and 4 I was still consistently under a 10 minute mile,  and ready to head into the hills of mile 5.

Mile 5 found me unexpectedly at 50 minutes,  and I thought, "could I possibly run the next 1.2 miles in less than 10 minutes? Might as well try!" And I kicked it into high gear.

The good news is I ran the next mile in under 10 minutes.  I hit 6 miles at 59:53. At that point I knew I wasn't going to get the last .2 in 7 seconds. 

I hit the finish at 1:01:52. Which is 39 seconds faster than last year!  Making it my new PR, and not too shabby for a benchmark run. 

I grabbed a ton of water, then ran back to my car,  taking time to appreciate the costumes of the 5k runners. 

There was a group of women walking together with pinwheels and bubbles and I hope my friends and I do the same at their age.

I really do like this race.  It's such a great course, and not as long as the Encinitas half, which runs the same route.  The course is challenging without being hard.  And of course,  you can't beat those views.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Crave Wednesday: Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

I can't believe it's been a week since Valentine's Day.  I swear it was yesterday. And I know if I blink, it's going to be right around the corner again.

We ended up having a really nice and relaxing day.  I prepped breakfast the day before, so in the morning I just needed to make some cocoa and plate!

Typically, the boys each get a Valentine's Day book.  This year I picked up a couple other little things for them too.

 Thatkid has been very into making Valentines this year. Thatboy helped both kids make cards for me.

 Apparently, every year Thatboy brings me Irises on Valentine's Day.  And because I'm a terrible wife,  I didn't even realize.  I only found out because he apologized for just bringing a "regular" bouquet home for me.

 He also apologized for failing to find a Valentine's Day card.  But they did have birthday cards at the store he was at,  so he brought one of those instead.

For dinner, we headed out.  Which is always a gamble on Valentine's Day.  But there's a restaurant near us that provides babysitting while you dine, and being able to have adult conversation during dinner is the most romantic thing I can think of.  You can see into the playroom behind us in this picture.

 They take care of your kids, give them things to play with,  art to create, and they even feed them dinner.

 We brought the boys to the table to share dessert with us, because it's not Valentine's Day without a sweet treat.

Which is what I'm sharing with you today.  Chocolate cookies,  filled with ice cream. I mean,  you don't HAVE to fill them with ice cream.  They're chocolate cookies, they're fantastic on their own.  But if you've got chocolate cookies and ice cream,  why wouldn't you combine them?

Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches (from Cooking Light) 
1 cup flour 
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup dark brown sugar 
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 egg whites 
2 1/4 cups cookies and cream light ice cream

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. 
  2. Place brown sugar and butter in an electric mixer.  Beat at medium until creamy. 
  3. Gradually add sugar, beating well. 
  4. Add cocoa and egg whites, beating well. 
  5. Gradually add flour, beating well. Drop by funded teaspoonsful 1 1/2 inches apart on bashing sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on pan 2 minute,  remove from pan and cool on wire rack. 
  6. Spread 2 Tbsp of ice cream on flat side of 18 cookies,  top each with another cookie and freeze for 2 hours. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Crave Wednesday: Red Velvet Cupcakes

 Happy Valentine's Day friends! I hope you are surrounded by people you love, and who love you in return.

We had a series of several changed and canceled plans this past weekend, which left us with an unexpected free Sunday.
We decided to take the boys to the Air and Space Museum because they'd never been, and they love the airplane museum in Palm Springs.

There's a special exhibit right now on "Speed" and Thatboy just couldn't pass it up.

The boys loved racing their cars down various ramps set up.

They rode motorcycles the only way I'm comfortable with them doing so.

They learned to change a tire, just like a pit crew.
 Of course, this was the Air and Space Museum, so we did eventually move on to the airplanes and space shuttles.

 We watched a 4D movie on the Apollo moon landing, which Thatbaby did not appreciate.  So while Thatboy and Thatkid stayed for some more 4D fun,  the little guy and I went to the kids' playroom where he flew planes, controlled a wind tunnel,  played with legos, and did some photo ops.

After the museum, we headed over to the grass for a picnic.

 And then it was time to fly our own planes.

I love spending time with my family, and that's going to continue today.  Gone are the Valentine's days with just Thatboy and I. Now we celebrate as a family.  And I have lots of family fun in store for my boys today.  Including special Valentine's Day treats.

I know red velvet on Valentine's Day is cliche.  But I'll be honest with you,  I love red velvet any day of the year.  So the excuse of Valentine's Day?  Red! Rich! Velvety!  I'll take it.  Trite doesn't have to mean bad.   Besides, aren't you looking for an excuse to eat cream cheese frosting?

Red Velvet Cupcakes (from Cooking Light) 
2 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened + 3 Tbsp 
2 egg yolks
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract 
1 cup buttermilk
1 oz red food coloring
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
8oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, 1/2 tsp salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cocoa. 
  2. Place 1 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup butter in large bowl and beat at high speed until blended. 
  3. Add egg yolks, one at a time,  beating well after each addition. 
  4. Stir in 1 tsp of vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low. 
  5. Add flour mixture and buttermilk amending between the two, beginning and ending with flour. Beat until just combined. 
  6. Stir in food coloring. 
  7. Using clean, dry, beaters, beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed until stiff peaks form. 
  8.  Fold 1/3 of egg whites into batter,  then gently fold in  remaining egg whites.
  9. Place 24 paper muffin cup liners in muffin cups. Coat with baking spray. Spoon batter into cups and bake for 23 minutes.  Cool in 1n pan for 10 minutes then remove to wire racks to cool completely. 
  10. Place remaining 3 Tbsp butter and cream cheese in a large bowl and beat at medium high speed until smooth. 
  11. Add powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp vanilla, and a pinch of salt.  Beat until smooth. 
  12. Place frosting in a ziplock bag.  Snip the corner off and pipe frosting on top of cupcakes. 

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Crave Wednesday: Cherry Almond Crisp

Having grown up in Pennsylvania,  Groundhog's  Day holds a special place in my heart.  In fact,  during many of my formative years I was only a stone's throw away from Punxsutawney,  which wasn't great during KKK meetings,  but was fun whenever Punxsutawney Phil was the reason for gathering.

Growing up in California, my children do not have the same appreciation for the day.  They know not the seemingly endless days of winter, when you become a prisoner of your own home.  They do not hold out hope for the arrival of spring and return of outside activities.  They don't even realize that swimming is not a year round activity most places.

So I do what I can to bring the magic to them.  Most years we watch Phil's prognostication on YouTube.  But this is my year of planning in advance.  So I recorded the entire event coverage on the weather channel.  All 5 hours.

A little bit of fast forwarding,  and my children were right there in Punxsutawney, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Phil.

Of course, a special day calls for a special breakfast.  Groundhog pancakes for all! 

And to really get in the spirit, I let them have hot chocolate.  But you'd never know to look at them.

 And now that Groundhog's Day is over,  I can officially start prepping for Valentine's Day.  I told you, I am on the ball this year.

And of course, prep work is even easier when you go to the supermarket and find bags of cherries everywhere.  And they are so good!  Sometimes I forget how early cherry season starts, but I'm not missing out on any.  A bag barely lasts a day in this house,  shorter when you're using them in baked goods.

But cherry,  paired with almond,  gives you this deep,  rich,  red dessert that's perfect for an upcoming holiday. Serve it warm,  because I hear we've got 6 more weeks of winter left to go.

Cherry Almond Crisp (from Cooking Light) 
1 cup dried tart cherries 
2 lbs cherries, pitted 
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup + 3 Tbsp flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats 
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbsp butter, melted
1/4 tsp almond extract
  1.  Place dried cherries in a bowl with 1 cup of boiling water.  Cover and let stand for 30 minutes. 
  2. Preheat oven to 375. Combine dried cherries,  soaking liquid,  pitted cherries,  sugar,  3 Tbsp flour,  vanilla,  and and cinnamon in a large bowl and mix well.  Let sit for 15 minutes. 
  3. Coat a 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray.  Pour in cherry mixture and bake for 40 minutes. 
  4. While it's baking,  combine 3/4 cup flour with oats, brown sugar, almonds,  and salt in a bowl.
  5. In a separate bowl,  combine melted butter and almond extract. 
  6. Drizzle butter mixture over flour mixture,  stirring until clumps form.
  7. Remove cherry mixture from the oven and sprinkle with the topping. Bake an additional 20 minutes.