Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Very Berry July: Triple Berry Handpies

Every summer we make sure to attend one of the concerts at the Children's Museum.  It's close and easy, and the boys love it.  Since becoming members of the museum this year, the concerts are free.  And we're taking advantage by going to every one of them.  They are just really easy nights for us.  I pick the boys up from camp and preschool, Thatboy comes home from work, and we head over.

The museum is open an hour before the concert, only for families attending the concert, which gives the boys time to take part in their favorite activities with less crowds.  There are often crafts for the kids to take part in also.  Recently it's been a wooden boat the kids could put together with some volunteer help.  And then most of the kids found their way over to the water cycle exhibit with their boats to test out the sea-worthiness.

There's wine, beer, and Gelato for sale, and usually some sort of food you can purchase.  And face painting.

And of course, there's the kid friendly music, encouraging the kids to get up and dance.  Hullabaloo, the perennial San Diego favorite, always has a concert.  And this year we've also got to expand their musical palate with reggae and Latin music.

I also love the venue because it's so easy to picnic.  And I do love to picnic.  We bring our basket, and our blanket and make a whole evening of it.

I always bring fruit - which is a crowd favorite in my family.  And I'll either pack sandwiches, or just picnic charcuterie, 

Or, if the food choice would make the whole family happy, we'll just buy dinner there.  The weather has been insanely hot at these concerts lately, so we also always bring lots of liquids.  Homemade ice-tea is one of my favorite things to bring.  I make it with herbal tea, so the boys can enjoy it too, without keeping us up all night.  They love picking out the flavors.  This is a peach ice tea.

Any good picnic also needs some kind of sweet treat.  With the glut of berries we have in our house, berry hand pies are the perfect summer picnic addition.

The filling for the hand pies is amazing, and there's enough left over to use it on just about everything.  And I used it on just about everything.  I don't think there's a piece of bread or muffin in my house that didn't end up with the filling on it.

Triple Berry Handpies
2 cups blueberries
2 cups blackberries
2 cups strawberries, quartered
1 1/2 cups sugar
juice of 2 lemons
2 balls of pie dough, rolled out into circles
1 egg, beaten
  1. Combine berries, sugar, lemon juice and a pinch of salt in a pot over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer and simmer 20 minutes.  Let cool.
  2.  Use a large glass to cut out rounds of pie dough.  
  3. Top each pie dough round with 2 Tbsp of filling.
  4. Brush the edges of the dough round with egg and fold in half to form a semicircle.  Crimp the edges with a fork.
  5. Heat canola oil in a pot until it reaches 365 degrees.  Fry each handpie about 5 minutes, or until golden.  Drain on paper towels.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Very Berry July: Frozen Blackberry Margaritas

Our Fourth of July has been pretty predictable since we moved into our house.  Hang out in the backyard all day, eating chips and drinking margaritas in the blow up pool.  When it got dark, we'd cross the street to watch the fireworks from our neighbor's front yard. 

This year we decided to move our backyard pool party to a new location.  We took advantage of our annual passes to Legoland and spent the afternoon at the waterpark.

The boys had a fantastic time, playing in the splash pad, floating down the lazy river, and riding down the slides.

The water park closed at 7pm, so around 6pm we grabbed dinner before the restaurants closed.  We went semi-traditional with grilled food.  I had a sausage topped with peppers.

And the boys all had hamburgers.

After dinner, we headed over to Mini-Land to see the fireworks.  As a tip for any first time firework-goer, this is NOT the best place to see the fireworks.  The year I went with Thatkid, we stayed in The Beginning, but really the parking lot may be the best place.

We made our home there anyway, because it was nice lawn for the kids to hang out - similar to sitting in a yard!

Plus there was music for the kids to dance and play.

One of the reasons we went to Legoland is because they have such early fireworks.  By 9pm we were heading to the car and heading home.  Both the kids were asleep by the time we got home.

Overall it was a very low key and enjoyable Fourth of July experience.  Thatboy, who really wanted nothing more than to sit in the backyard even admitted it was better than he was expecting.  The only thing missing was the margarita (although Thatboy found me a Michelada replacement).

The nice thing about the Fourth of July is that it happens early enough in the summer that there's plenty of time for margaritas later on.  And the last of those blackberries I picked became the prime subject for my makeup margarita.

Sure you can just blend the ingredients with some ice, but really, is that how you want your margaritas?  All watered down?  For me, there's no comparison - throw the whole thing in an ice cream maker and you don't lose that flavor, in fact, it just might intensify it.  Sure it takes a little longer, but aren't you worth it?

Frozen Blackberry Margaritas
1 3/4 cups blackberries
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp tequila
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp triple sec
1 tsp lime zest
juice of 2 limes

  1. Combine blackberries, 1/3 cup water, tequila, sugar, triple sec, lime zest and lime juice in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.  
  2. Place in an ice cream maker and process until thick and slushy.
  3. Pour into glasses.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Very Berry July: Berry Pecan Crisp

One of the ways Thatboy and I handle having 2 kids is by splitting up and pretending we only have one. 

It's a genius idea really.  We each take a kid for the day and do something with just that child.  The child gets some good one-on-one time with whichever parent they're with, and the parent only has to deal with one whiny child. 

Last month Thatboy took Thatkid to see School of Rock, while I took Thatbaby blackberry picking.

Stehly Farms opens their doors to the public for one day of blackberry picking.  We went last year and got multiple baskets of the sweetest, most perfect blackberries ever.  So of course I wanted to go back.   This year, however, the crops were not as bountiful.

We weren't even able to fill one basket, and most of the berries we did get weren't 100% as ripe as we would have liked them.

The wonderful thing about the farm though is that there is so much else to do other than just pick berries.  Thatbaby couldn't wait to go on the tractor ride tour of the farm.

He was slightly less enthused about the mounds of fertilizer we passed however.

After the tractor ride, he made a beeline to the animal pens, where he got to pet sheep, goats, and even a pony.

He was so interested in the animals, that he almost missed the fun vehicles there to play in.  But it wasn't long before he glanced over and joined in the fun.

He had such a great time playing on the fire truck, tractor, and playground that we ended up staying for much longer than anticipated.  So it was a successful day, even if it the picking was less than successful.

Last year we didn't get anything made with the blackberries, because they went straight into our mouths.  This year, with the less sweet berries, I decided baking them with lots of sugar would be the best idea. 

Thatmom has always favored the crisp - so I grew up with apple crisps and stonefruit crisps.  Blackberry crisp seemed like a really natural and easy way to make use of these berries. We had quite the bounty with our blueberry picking, so I combined the two into one crisp, bursting with berries.  Thatmom makes her crisps with pecans, so I do too.  But this would be equally good without nuts.  This was very much a family pleaser.  I prefer mine warm with a scoop of ice cream, but Thatkid was happy for this straight from the fridge.  As with all crisps, the flavor only gets better the next day (and the day after that if it lasts that long). 

Berry Pecan Crisp
2/3 cup flour
 2 Tbsp rolled oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
1 cup blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
4 cups blueberries
2 Tbsp honey
  1. Preheat the oven to 375.  Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times until combined.
  2. Add the butter and pulse until mixture begins to stick together.
  3. Stir in the pecans.
  4. In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the blackberries, sugar, and cornstarch.  Bring to a boil and cook until the mixture thickens.
  5. Stir in the blueberries and pour into a baking dish.
  6. Crumble the topping over the berries and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Drizzle the honey over the topping and bake for another 5 minutes.  Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Sunday Runday: Sports Bra Squad Day

When Thatboy first met me, one of the things he was really impressed with was my self-confidence.  But between you and I, it was just an act.  I've never been terribly self-confident.  I mean, I'm aware that there are somethings I do very well, but it's very easy to put those things up against the things I feel I'm lacking in and find that negative column outweighs the positive.

I've never been confident, or happy, with my body.  And I don't say this coming from a place where I eventually reached some sort of inner peace with that.  It's something I struggle with on a daily basis.  And it doesn't help that when Thatboy told his parents we were getting married, his mom told him she thought he would end up with someone thinner.  Or that she has always served me half portions of food when we visit.    But I can't blame her, it just reinforces the inner voice I already hear that tells me I'm not good enough, thin enough, or pretty enough (because all those things are really the same complaint when your self-talk isn't great.)

Last year I joined my girlfriends in the Global Sports Bra Running Day and it re-emphasized a point I already knew - that no matter how beautiful we think another woman is, she often has the same insecurities.  As a sex, we have a very hard time recognizing and appreciating ourselves.  And stripping down to our sports bras, in the company, and with the support of friends, really helps.  It doesn't wave a magic wand and make you feel beautiful, but you feel safe. Safer. 

So when the call went out to do it again this year - I did.  I met up with a group of beautiful women, took off my shirt, took a picture...and promptly put my shirt back on.

But in a step up from last year, I did do part of the run in just a sports bra - not a long part,  but a part nonetheless.  And while it was a far step outside my comfort zone, nothing terrible happened.  It wasn't world changing.  It didn't change my view of myself or the outside world, but it was a step.  A step toward the recognition that although none of us are happy with the way we look, we are all our own worse critics.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Very Berry July: Cherry Berry Crepes

Happy Fourth of July everyone!  I've decided this month to celebrate one of my favorite aspects of summer - the berry.  I'm especially interested in this because we have so many fresh berries in the house right now.  Next week I'll regale you with a different berry, but as you may or may not recall, last month we went blueberry picking and we are now on blueberry overload.

Not that too many blueberries are ever a bad thing.  My kids would eat a pint at a time if they could.  And they are a staple for the picnics we've been having.

Every Fourth of July they also make an appearance in the breakfast I make for the kids.  Because when you're making something red, white, and blue, blueberries are a natural choice for the blue portion. 

The red part of the breakfast is also usually berry-related, but it changes, because there are a lot of red berries.  This year, with some leftover cherry sauce, it made sense to use that for our breakfast treat.

Red cherries, blue blueberries, and a little white whipped cream and we have a very patriotic berry filled, summer breakfast treat!

Cherry Berry Crepes
Coco Whip (or your favorite whipped cream)

  1. Fill each crepe with brandied cherry sauce.
  2. Place coco whip over the cherries.
  3. Sprinkle the blueberries on top and roll up the crepe.
  4. Top with more whipped cream, berries, or just powdered sugar

Monday, July 02, 2018

Mommy Mondays: Summer Bucket List

My bucket lists are always  I blame the weird weather we have here in San Diego that means that "seasonal" things don't always happen in season.  So by the time summer roles around, we've already got a big jump on things that would be quintessentially summer - like the fair, summer concerts, and waterparks.  The same holds true for ice skating in the fall, or apple picking in the summer, so it's not just our spring ends early. 

This year's summer bucket list is a bit of a cheat, since we have our whole summer almost already completely filled out.  There are definitely some blank spaces though, so for some of these things are wishful thinking for what I hope to fill those days with.  Because you know us, we're never idle.

*Movies in the Park
* Make s'mores
* Make lemonade
* Make ice tea
* Make popsicles
* Watch fireworks
* Outdoor concerts
* Outdoor theater
* Swim lessons
* Backyard pool time
* Go on hikes
* Horse races
* Eat meals outside
* Beach day
* Pick watermelons
* Visit a waterpark
* Grow our own vegetables
* Go on picnics
* Camp out in the backyard