Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Crave Wednesday: Classic Fudge Walnut Brownies

One of the benefits of having passes to Legoland is that on a random Sunday with no plans we can head over for a couple hours  at the water park.

It was our first time at Legoland's water park.  And of course we arrived right at naptime.  I had been counting on Thatbaby falling asleep in the car and bypassing this, but he didn't. So Thatboy and Thatkid headed into the waterpark while I walked Thatbaby around the park until he fell asleep.

When he woke up, he was ready to go play.  Because it's still early in the season, a lot of the waterpark was closed.  Three areas were open.  There were the big slides, which were great for Thatkid, but had too high a height requirement for Thatbaby, which was fine by him, because he was not interested in big slides anyway.

Another area for smaller kids - a wading pool with small slides was where he wanted to spend most of his time.  And even most of these slides were too fast/big for him.  Thatkid spend some time with us, but really, it was a little young for him.  So we ended up dividing the kids so each could enjoy the part of the park made for them.

The third area, between the two, was perfect for both boys - the Goldilocks part of the water park.  This is part of the new "Surfer's Cove" the rest of which is set to open this summer.  This was just a splash pad, but there's no such thing as "just" anything with kids.  They loved running back and forth through the fountains.

The center area also has a lazy river.  Thatbaby went back and forth on wanting to go on it, but eventually decided he'd rather spend his time at the wading pool area instead.  So Thatkid and I went for a couple of rounds.

The boys had a great time and I have no doubt we'll be back over the summer a lot.  And the nice thing about passes is that we could go for a bit and still be home in time for dinner.  And dessert.  Buoyed by my success with the brownie turtle sundae, I thought maybe I'd give brownies a shot.   These would be really really good...if they were made by someone else.  I really haven't figured out the balance, but I'm sure you'll have better luck than I - most people do.  And a classic brownie with walnuts is a pretty good recipe to keep in your back pocket, so I'll keep trying!

Classic Fudge Walnut Brownies (From Cooking Light)
3/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks, divided
1/3 cup fat free milk
6 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Combine 1/2 cup chocolate chunks and milk in a microwave safe bowl and microwave at HIGH for 1 minute, stirring after 30 seconds. 
  3. Stir in butter, vanilla, and eggs.
  4. Add milk mixture, 1/2 cup chocolate chunks, and 1/4 cup nuts to flour mixture. Stir to combine.
  5. Pour batter into a 9 inch square metal baking pan coated with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with 1/4 cup nuts.  Bake for 19 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs clinging.  Cool in pan on a wire rack.  Cut into 20 pieces.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sunday Runday: Sharon's Ride, Run, Walk

Most of the races I do year after year are those I do with my family. One of my favorites of these kind of races is Sharon's Ride. It's just so incredibly kid friendly. 

Shortly after we arrived, the boys made their way to the bounce house and giant inflatable slide. And we also managed to squeeze in some face painting before the race started.

This year, instead of listening to Thatkid whine about how tired his legs were, I suggested he bring his bike. Which meant of course Thatbaby needed to ride a scooter.

We split up once the race started. Thatboy stayed behind with Thatbaby.

While I ran up ahead, alongside Thatkid.  The bike worked perfectly. He got a little frustrated I'm the beginning of the run when it was too crowded to bike, but he made the entire 3 miles without complaint.

After, while we waited for the other two, we scoped out the free shaved ice truck.  And got some! When Thatboy and Thatbaby finished, they joined us in enjoying some cool treats.

There was more sliding and bounce houses and cotton candy. Eventually I convinced them to sit down and have some actual food - catered barbecue.

And after that, Thatkid was ready to call it a day. Before noon!

I think that sounds like a pretty successful 5k if you ask me !

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Crave Wednesday: Chocolate Turtle Brownie Sundaes

Yesterday I woke up to cold weather and I was so confused. Not just because it's April, although that should be reason enough, but because last week was unseasonably warm. 96° warm.  How on Earth do  we go from 96° to 47°? In April?

We took advantage of that warm weather though, and now that winter has returned I'm especially glad  we did.

We had an unexpectedly quiet weekend, with no plans except for a baseball game. We spent Saturday around the house, catching up on the cleaning and housework that piled up while we were traveling.

Sunday however, I took advantage of our lack of plans...and made plans!

Last year we skipped our annual trip to the Flower Fields, opting instead to drive to the desert and see the desert blooms. This year we have no super bloom and so we returned to our regularly scheduled flowers.

I forgot how much I love the Flower Fields. They're so bright and colorful, but being surrounded by acres of flowers also gives me such a feeling of peace.

The boys also loved running around the flowers.  Thatkid kept asking me to take his picture, or a picture with him and his brother, getting annoyed when Thatbaby goofed around and didn't take the pictures seriously.

The Flower Fields have a special passport for the kids to get stamps from the different areas so we went to ask the areas - the poinsettas, orchids, we wandered through the sweet pea maze for a long time, and ended up at Santa's playground where the boys spent quite a long time. Because, playground. Playground, flowers, maze, there's really something for everyone.  And even though it's always crowded, it feels like my little secret.

I'll let you in on another secret, I'm pretty good in the kitchen, but  I can't figure out brownies. Or rather, how long to cook them. They're either too dry, or not quite done. The solution?  Top them with ice cream. Ice cream adds moisture to dry brownies, and those slightly underdone ones? Super fudgey always works with ice cream.

Chocolate Turtle Brownie Sundaes (From Cooking Light)
Fudge Sauce (see below)
3 Tbsp butter
1 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 egg
1 egg white
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp fat free milk
10 small soft caramel candies
2 Tbsp coarsely chopped pecans
4 cups vanilla low fat frozen yogurt

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Coat bottom of an 8-inch square metal holding pan with cooking spray.  Combine butter and chocolate in a large microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 1 minute.  Stir until melted.
  2. Add egg and egg white, stirring with a whisk.
  3. Stir in 2 Tbsp water and vanilla.
  4. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, and baking powder.  
  5. Stir flour mixture into chocolate mixture.  Spread half of batter in bottom of prepared pan.
  6. Combine milk and candies in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 1.5 minutes.  Stir until melted.
  7. Drizzle caramel over batter in pan.
  8. Sprinkle with pecans.
  9. Drop remaining batter by tablespoonfuls over pecans.  Bake for 35 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.  Cut into `16 squares.
  10. Top each brownie with 1/4 cup frozen yogurt and 2 Tbsp fudge sauce.

Fudge Sauce
2 Tbsp butter
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
6 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup fat free milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Combine butter and chocolate in a saucepan; cook over low heat until chocolate melts, stirring occasionally.
  2. Combine sugar and cocoa in a bowl.
  3. Add corn syrup and milk, stirring with a whisk until blended.
  4. Add cocoa mixture to saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.
  5. Stir in vanilla.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Crave Wednesday: Mocha Banana Split

When we returned home from Arizona we had just enough time to take in a show and head to our annual Seder on the first night of Passover.

And then we were back on a plane again.  This time up to the inlaws for Easter.

Easter festivities in our area are really limited to Easter weekend, which we are never around for.  And the inlaws don't really partake in any Easter festivities, so my children haven't ever actually met the Easter Bunny.  I can't even begin to tell you the excitement that ushered forth from the boys when we deplaned and found him sitting RIGHT IN THE TERMINAL!

From the airport we headed over to TMIL's house where we died some eggs.  Dying eggs with toddlers means you get a LOT of cracked eggs.  Which is how we found out TMIL didn't actually hard boil these eggs.  Just kinda warmed them up a bit in the water.

It's always difficult to entertain the boys while we're at the inlaws house and so the day seemed to drag by until dinner was served.  Once again the idea of Passover seemed to be completely missed by the inlaws, as it is every year, but at least there was meat for the kids to eat.

We brought them back to the hotel for bed and it was only slightly less difficult than at Christmas.  But eventually they slept.  And while they slept, the Easter Bunny visited.

The boys woke up delighted by their candy and treats.  Eventually we were able to convince them to put on their Easter finery.

Back to the inlaws.  Easter day is probably the hardest for the kids, because only one meal is served - a kind of mid day "feast" of lasagna.  No breakfast, no dinner.  And lasagna isn't exactly Passover friendly. Which means in years past, my children have had nothing to eat.  This year we played it safe by getting them eggs and bacon for breakfast at the hotel, so they'd have one guaranteed meal for the day.  Thatboy asked his brother to make sure there was something the kids could eat, which completely threw his brother for a loop - gosh we were so difficult!  He got TSIL's sister to bring some chicken....around 2pm in the afternoon.  Luckily I had thought ahead enough to have the kids bring some Easter candy with them, so while everyone else ate lasagna, my boys ate Peeps.  They were so excited when the chicken finally arrived - they devoured it.

TSIL is always in charge of the egghunt.  Except this year she couldn't find her plastic eggs.  So she planned on us searching for mangoes instead.  Thank goodness for her sister, who brought eggs for the kids to find!

And the eggs were filled with stickers, tattoos, and stamps - a HUGE upgrade from previous years.  I hope she permanently takes this job over.

We left a little early and went back to the hotel.  Thatbaby was supposed to be in bed early, but instead he ended up staying up late to watch Jesus Christ Superstar Live with the rest of the family.  He fell asleep before the end of the first act.  Thatkid fell asleep with the rest of the apostles. 

We spent the next morning with TMIL before heading back home.  It's always a trying weekend, and I am always glad to be home.  And deserving of a treat.  What I REALLY wanted was a cupcake.  But Passover and all that meant my treat had to be less....full of flour.  So ice cream it is.  I told you there's a lot of ice cream during Passover.  And this banana split is totally decadent.  Totally a way of rewarding yourself for surviving a rough, busy week.  The coffee ice cream, espresso whipped cream, and chocolate covered espresso beans probably aren't the best idea for right before bed - so make this a breakfast treat.  It'll help you get through the rest of the week!

Mocha Banana Split (From Cooking Light)
1 Tbsp whipping cream
1/2 tsp instant espresso
1 banana peeled and cut in half cross-wise
1/2 cup low fat coffee ice cream
1/2 cup low fat chocolate ice cream
4 tsp chocolate syrup
4 tsp chopped walnuts, toasted
4 tsp chocolate covered espresso beans, chopped
2 cherries
  1. Place whipping cream and espresso granules in an electric mixer fitted with a whisk.  Whisk until soft peaks form.
  2.  Cut each banana in half lengthwise.  Place 2 banana quarters in each of 2 bowls.
  3. Top each serving with 1/4 cup coffee ice cream and 1/4 cup chocolate ice cream.
  4. Drizzle each serving with 2 tsp chocolate syrup and half of whipped cream mixture.
  5. Sprinkle each serving with 2 tsp walnuts and 2 tsp espresso beans.
  6. Top each with a cherry.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Mommy Mondays: Spring Bucket List

It's hard to tell when it's spring here in San Diego. It's not like we have snow that magically disappears. And the winter rains continue into the spring.

So the real way you can determine it's spring? The berries! Berries are spring fruit here. Don't ask me to explain it, I can't. They were always summer fruit where I grew up, but then again, we also picked apples in the fall then, so everything is upside down in San Diego.

Nevertheless, as soon as the strawberry fields open I know it is really and truly spring. And I start planning our weekend activities accordingly.

So without further ado, the things we want to do this spring!

* Strawberry picking
* BlackBerry picking
* Blueberry picking
* Visit the Flower Fields
* Go on a picnic
* Go to a baseball game
* Take a spring break trip
* Dye eggs
* Go on an egg hunt
* Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Old Town
* Attend an outdoor concert
* Plant something!

What are you doing this spring?

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Sunday Runday: St. Patrick's Day 10k/Run to the Deep 10k

Two race reports in one!  A special bonus edition Sunday Runday!

Kind of.

See, in my quest to run a sub-hour 10k, I've been signing up for some of my favorite local 10ks.  So the St. Patrick's Day 10k was a must-do for me.  And then I got an email from The British Science Association about a new  virtual race they were organizing, Run to the Deep 10k.  You may (or may not) remember The British Science Association from the last time I ran their "Run the Solar System" virtual 10k.  I had such a good time doing that one, that as soon as I saw this one,  I signed up.  Even better that it was free!

Timing-wise, the Run to the Deep race came out on March 8, to be run by March 18.  With my long training runs, and the half marathon itself, it seemed I wouldn't get to it that first weekends, but I was already signed up for a 10k the last weekend.  I decided I would play the race app while I ran the St. Patrick's Day 10k.

I should have known better.  If you recall, when I ran the Run the Solar System virtual race, it was dark outside and I really felt like I was in space.  Well this time, I was running "under water" so it should be no surprise to you that once again the real world decided to collaborate with the virtual world and I woke up to rain.

It rained the whole way down to Mission Bay, where the race was taking place.  It stopped once I got there, and I thought we might get a break in the weather.  Until we lined up for the race start and the rain started up again.

The only positive thing about the rain is that it led to a beautiful rainbow while we waited for the race to start.

The race started and we were off.  Like the other virtual 10k by the British Science Association, this one would pop on every 500-1000 meters to tell me part of the story as I "ran" deeper and deeper under the water.  Each "stop" talked about different marine life, or features at that level - like the ruins of the Titanic.

And it felt fitting that I was super wet as I ran, right?  I mean, I was 500 meters below the ocean's surface!  Luckily the rain stopped during that first mile and the rest of the race was "dry" (from the sky - still wet on the ground.)

The actual 10k I was running had timers stationed every other mile to let us know how we were doing, which was very motivational!  Especially since I was using the race app for the virtual 10k and didn't think to start my Nike+ App which usually tells me how I'm doing speed wise.  I hit 5k at 28 minutes and thought I could definitely keep up that speed for the rest of the race.

It's a nice, flat course, and while it isn't terribly interesting, there aren't many truly flat courses in San Diego.  And I had that goal to reach....

After the race, as usual, Domino's Pizza had set up a tent handing out free pizza.  I seriously love this race.

I grabbed my slice and headed over to the beer garden.  Pizza and beer for breakfast.  A St. Patrick's Day tradition.

The St. Patrick's Day 10k is one of the only races I know with an unlimited beer garden.  I've never really taken advantage of that fact, because there are always places to be and people to see after the race, and really I'm not one for sitting and drinking by myself.   But the selection is varied.  There were beers from 4 local breweries - Karl Strauss, Ballast Point, Stone, and Coronado Brewing Company.

Breakfast of champions!

Now here's the fun part about running two races - my finish time!  According to the St. Patrick's Day 10k, I finished in 1 hour and 36 seconds.  Just 37 seconds too slow!  BUT according to the Racelink app for the Run to the Deep 10k, I finished in 59 minutes 18 seconds!!!!!!!  So which is my "official time"?  Did I meet my goal?  Both are personal records for me, but only one means I have officially run a sub hour 10k.  What do you think?

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Crave Wednesday: Chocolate Orange Sauce Sundae

Whew y'all.  It has been a busy week.  Busy enough that I'm going to split it into two separate posts. 

You see, now that Thatkid is in school, we need to plan our travel around his school breaks.  Which means our annual trip to see Toxicesq had to happen during Spring Break...which coincidentally fell on the same week as our annual Easter trip to see Thatboy's family.  Sheesh you guys. 

So the first half of the week found us in Arizona!

We checked into the Saguaro Hotel, which had a cool mid-century vibe that I'm sure my children didn't appreciate.

As usual Toxicesq planned a lot of fun things for us to take part in.  Like the OdySea Aquarium.

When the ticket-taker found out it was our first time at the aquarium, she urged us to check out the restrooms.  We thought that was a little weird, but it was well worth it for the great view into the shark tank.

Thatbaby wanted to touch all the fish.  Which he couldn't.  But he could pet the sting rays to his heart's content.

Thatkid was super excited to see his favorite marine-life - Piranha.  Yeah, I didn't know about this affinity before either.

I did know about Thatbaby's love for penguins though.  He even brought his own stuffed penguin with him.  Which he showed to the aquarium penguins and they were very very interested.

We also did a repeat of last year's hit - the train park!  The boys made an immediate bee-line to the carousel.

This year they wanted to sit in the covered train car - no adults allowed.  Which Thatbaby yelled at me when I tried to take their picture.  I was worried he'd be scared in the dark, especially the tunnels, but according to him he laughed the whole time.

Afterward there was lots of playground time.

And of course, daily swimming in Toxicesq's pool.

Knowing the way to my children's heart is ice cream, Toxicesq also suggested a trip to the Sugar Bowl.  Which, was obviously as big a hit as your would imagine.

Ice cream is huge in my house with my boys. I'm less of a fan, but during Passover it makes for a nice, easy dessert.  Chocolate and ice cream are both Passover friendly!  And homemade chocolate sauce is so easy.  If you're not an orange fan, you could sub in raspberry or cherry liqueur and leave out the orange rind.

Chocolate Orange Sauce Sundae (From Cooking Light)
1 1/2 cups 2% milk
1/4 cup half and half
1 Tbsp butter
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tsp grated orange rind
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tsp Grand Marnier
12 cups fat-free frozen yogurt
  1. Heat milk and half-and-half in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat to 180 or until tiny bubble form around edge.  Remove from heat.
  2. Add butter and chocolate, stirring until smooth.
  3. Stir in rind, juice, and liqueur. 
  4. Serve sauce over frozen yogurt, garnished with orange rind strips.