Monthly Archives: December 2011

Dec 28

Irish Nachos

I want you to take the bull by the horns, jump into the deep end and maybe even get in a little over your head!

What in the world am I talking about? I’m talking about that project you’ve been meaning to start, you know that thing you’ve been putting on the back burner. This is totally your year to get it done, to make it happen, to take the first step!

That first step can seem overwhelming at first and I know how easy it is to talk yourself out of a really good idea you’ve had but trust me that idea was given to you for a reason. Take these Irish nachos for example, for starers the term “Irish nachos” dosen’t even make sense! Do they serve nachos in Ireland? What do you wash them down with? A Guinness or a Corona? But come on, who really cares about logistics when it comes to crispy potatoes smothered in melted cheese. Did I mention that there is bacon involved in this one? Regardless of how ridiculous these sound, whoever came up with them deserves a big pat on the back!

So get the ball rolling!

Make that phone call!

Write that email!

I promise things will magically start to come together. Who knows you might even uncover a new ending to your journey. How unexpected, a little scary and super cool would that be?

The best thing about traveling with our boys is that no matter where we go together everywhere feels a little bit like home. Are there inevitable hard parts when traveling in a party of six? Sure, but those parts rarely outweigh the good parts.

As I have mentioned before Ryan and I booked this trip knowing it might not be as easy as past family trips but almost as soon as we hoped off the plane we were incredibly surprised by just how accommodating New York city could be. When we reached our apartment in Harlem I was delighted with it’s spaciousness and the family friendly vibe of the neighborhood. Being walking distance to some of the most incredible soul food restaurants in the United States was pretty awesome too! I was impressed with how comfortable my northern California country boys were on the subway and how they even thought the quiet rumble of it rushing underneath our apartment was a soothing sound at night. Our experience with New Yorkers themselves was also wonderful! Not once were we given frustrated looks as we fumbled our way in and out of the subway or when we accidentally took over a busy sidewalk with a stroller and three other slower moving kids. People were helpful, kind and even complimentary to our sometimes overwhelming family. I also noticed the huge sense of community New Yorkers have with one another. This city has been through a lot in the last ten years and the pride and resilience of it’s residents could be seen/felt everywhere we looked.

We did a lot with our five days in the city! We took the boys to their first Broadway musical (The Adam’s family) and even though the show started later in the evening they were wide awake and on the edge of their seats for the entire show! We were mesmerized by Times Square at night and were respectful of the lives lost on 9/11 as we walked though the memorial. We couldn’t wait to have dessert in Dylans Candy shop and the boys couldn’t believe that there was an entire 3 story store dedicated all to Nintendo!

Ryan and I are always excited to show our boys different parts of the country and expose them to different ways of life. I hope it helps them to understand that their lives can take any shape they want them to take and that the world is a much bigger place than just what they see everyday. At the end of a vacation I am always happy to come home, California is where I belong. However there were a few tears from one of my boys when he realized our last night in the city had come and it made me wonder if on this trip a heart of a New Yorker was born.

A few years ago a few of my girlfriends read a book called “The 5 love languages”. I never got around to reading it but from what they told me it sounds like a pretty cool book. The author (Gary Chapman) explains to the reader that everyone has a specific love language (quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch) and that it’s a good idea to know which one belongs to your loved one. When I first heard about these languages I immediately claimed gifts to be mine. As I’m getting older I am realizing that it’s not gifts that speak to me but instead it’s quality time with the people I love. Don’t get me wrong, I still totally love gifts! Especially when they come in little blue boxes wrapped with a white ribbon.

In lieu of a bunch of presents under the tree for Christmas this year we’ve decided to take a family trip to New York city! I’ll be honest with you, navigating a city that size with four young kids does sound a bit intimidating. We usually stick to very family friendly locations (Disneyland, Hawaii) when traveling with the boys but I’m thinking (hoping!) that New York will turn out to be more kid friendly than I’m anticipating. I’m looking forward to being a complete family unit for an entire week and enjoying the city together while it’s draped in holiday lights. I am beyond grateful that we are able to give them this amazing experience and I wonder what each of them will take from it. This is the second year in a row we as a family have chosen time together vs. gifts and I’m hoping the boys also agree that time spent with people you call family is more valuable than any present found under a tree, even the ones that come in little blue boxes.

A little more truth, not buying my kids presents at Christmas is super hard for me. They will wake up to stockings filled with treats and silly trinkets but as far as big gifts go they will have to wait for their birthdays. Shopping for my husband is a different story. I would love to spoil him with something grand but he’s the kind of guy that already has one of everything! Seeing that he is a big fan of my cooking I asked him last year what could I make him for Christmas breakfast as a gift. Without hesitation he requested biscuits and gravy and I thought that was a pretty good one since I have never made that for him before. We all loved it so much I’ve decided to make it a family tradition but I’m tweaking it this year and making brown sugar biscuits instead of the caned ones I used last year. They were worth the extra effort and I promise they are super easy to make!

I hope you are enjoying the holidays so far. They go so quick and it’s easy to go overboard and forget that this time of year is not about how many presents you need to buy but instead it’s about about the people you are buying them for. See you in a week!

A few weeks ago I received an email from The Grange restaurant in downtown Sacramento asking me to participate in a soup contest. Of course I was super excited and responded immediately with a “Yes!” The second I sent my email off a mean little voice started talking me out of it. “What if they think your soup is lame?” “What if they think you’re lame?” “What if they think you can’t actually cook and discover that you’re just some silly lady taking pictures of her dinner?” What if….

When I had just about enough of this terrible little voice, I took a breath and turned my thoughts to soup. The contest rules were simple, make an original soup using the fresh abundant local ingredient Sacramento is known for. The prize? The winner’s soup on The Grange’s menu for an entire week! Chef Oliver Ridgeway is a huge advocate for seasonal cooking, meaning if you can’t find it at the farmers market you definitely won’t be seeing it on the menu!  I myself am a big fan of this way of cooking/eating so I began this contest by asking myself which late fall vegetables am I in love with this year?  What would I want to see on a menu? And most importantly what would my family want to eat? I thought about it, prayed about it, asked Ryan about a million times what his thoughts were about it, and then it hit me! A roasted creamy cauliflower soup topped with some crispy kale chips (my new favorite thing) and of course I had to throw some bacon in there. It’s creamy, full of warm flavors, and it has bacon in it! I felt like this soup was the perfect balance between what the chef wanted to see and what I am as a home cook.

So do I think I’m going to win the contest this weekend? I don’t know and honestly that wasn’t the only reason for me to enter it. This contest brought out the best in me and I am crazy proud of this soup! A little healthy competition is good for us every so often and it’s always important to show that mean little voice what you’re truly capable of.