Sunday, December 27, 2015

144.4...Creme Brûlée

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! We sure did…it’s been quite busy over here! Before I recap what’s been going on, I’d like to share with you the dessert I made for Christmas dinner. Creme Brûlée! I made it the day before and torched the sugar on top right before serving.

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Creme Brûlée  (Serves 4)


2 cups heavy cream

1 vanilla bean

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

Brown sugar for topping


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Pour the cream into a saucepan. Split open the vanilla bean, scrape the seeds into the cream, and add the bean. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat.

3. Meanwhile, whisk together the yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl.

4. Remove the vanilla bean and gradually pour the warm cream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.

5. Strain into individual 4-ounce ovenproof ramekins. Place the ramekins into a roasting pan and fill with water halfway up the sides. Bake until set, approximately 1 hour. Let cool and refrigerate.

6. To finish, preheat the broiler. Sprinkle brown sugar through a sieve over the tops of the custards. Place on a baking sheet and place under the broiler until the sugar melts and forms a golden brown crust. Serve immediately or chill.

Note: Alternatively, you can use a blowtorch, bought at any hardware store, to individually brown the sugar on top of each creme brûlée. 

Printable Recipe

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I had a bit of help with Tuesday night’s dinner:

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Super easy and it made some great chicken enchiladas! 

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Along with some Easy Mexican Rice, dinner was done.

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Wednesday’s breakfast:

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My husband and I went to a special tailgate for the Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium. They had a buffet for lunch. I had some chicken, mac & cheese and carrots.

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Boise St. beat Northern Illinois 55-7. What a blowout!

Dinner that night was at Cafe Luna. I ordered the Linguine Umbriaco (pancetta, onion, vodka, sautéed with rose cream sauce):

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So delicious!!! Loved this dish!

Thursday’s breakfast:

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I spent most of the day preparing and cooking our Christmas dinner. Lunch was a chicken salad sandwich, red peppers and ranch dressing. 

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The cooking continued including some homemade eggnog which I hope turns out!

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For Christmas Eve dinner I defrosted some of my sister in law, Stephanie’s famous “gravy”. I served it on my daughter’s favorite long curly noodles.

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Caesar salad:

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Christmas breakfast (aka the usual):

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My mom arrived and we took her to lunch at Milton’s. I had pea soup and half a salami sandwich with cole slaw.

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Then it was time for Christmas dinner. It started with French Onion Soup (recipe coming):

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The main event was Dijon-Tarragon Cream Chicken, Mustard Seed Mashed Potatoes and String Beans with Shallots (recipe coming):

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Creme Brûlée:

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We had such a nice, relaxing, quiet Christmas! 

Yesterday’s breakfast:

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The day was pretty chill, just cleaned up from Christmas and got everything put away. We had lunch at our club. I had a BLT and fries. 

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Last night, the official kick-off of the Holiday Bowl celebrations began with the arrival of the USC Trojan football team to San Diego. We stood right up front on the red carpet to great them!

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After the team arrived, complete with music from a live mariachi band, they checked into their rooms. We hung out at the hotel until it was time for the team dinner. We decided some snacks were in order.

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Eventually it was time to join the team at the dinner in the ballroom. Coach Clay Helton could not have been nicer. He took my son and my nephew around the room, introducing him to the players. I don’t know who was more excited….my son or myself!?! 

After the introductions, we sat down to a buffet dinner. 

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Last night was beyond incredible. It will be a night that our family will remember forever. I have a feeling that there will be many more amazing memories had this upcoming week!

This morning we took our family (who is in town for the game from Atlanta) to brunch at our club. I had an omelet, bagel with lox and their ridiculously amazing hash brown casserole.

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I also had to have some of their cinnamon rolls! 

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Today we are off to the San Diego Zoo with the USC football team! Can’t wait!

What did you have for Christmas dinner?

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

143.4...The Best Pumpkin Pie Ever

I’m sure you’re sick of pumpkin pie by now, but just in case…here is the recipe I use for pumpkin pie every Thanksgiving. It’s the best!

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The Best Pumpkin Pie Ever! (Serves 6 to 8)

Recipe slightly adapted from Phillis Carey



1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

6 Tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 Tbsp chilled Crisco, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

3 Tbsp (or more) ice water


2/3 cup golden brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 Tbsp flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg

1 1/2 cups canned solid pack pumpkin

2 Tbsp real maple syrup

3 large eggs

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Sweetened whipped cream


1. To make the crust, mix flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add butter and Crisco and pulse to process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Drizzle 3 Tbsp ice water over mixture. Process just until moist clumps form, adding more water by tsp. if dough is dry. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. (Can do day before or freeze!)

2. Roll dough out into a 12 inch round. Transfer dough to a 9 inch pie pan. Trim edges and fold under. Crimp edges decoratively. Refrigerate until very cold.

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line pastry with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake 12 minutes. Remove foil and weights and bake until very light brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Cool crust on a rack.

4. For filling, place brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, salt and spices in a large bowl. Whisk until combined. Whisk in pumpkin, maple syrup and eggs and then cream. Pour mixture into crust. Bake until edges puff and center is just set, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool completely on a rack. Serve with whipped cream.

Printable Recipe

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As you can see, I’m not very good at the “crimp edges decoratively” part. Lol.

Saturday night, I made soft tacos. 

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Well, the tortillas were kind of big, so I guess that made them more like burritos. I did use the recipe for Homemade Taco Seasoning. I defrosted some Easy Mexican Rice and heated up some refried beans and dinner was done. 

 There was just a slice left of my birthday cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes left. I couldn’t let it go to waste.

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Sunday’s breakfast:

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We went to the last Chargers home game of the year (and hopefully not forever!). I had some sushi there and we celebrated a great victory over the Miami Dolphins. Way to end the season with a win!

We went to Firenze for dinner. My husband and I shared the Chopped Caesar Salad:

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I ordered Cannelloni Fiorentina (fresh pasta rolled and filled with veal, chicken, spinach and ricotta, baked and topped with creamy béchamel sauce and bolognese):

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So good. I used to order this a long time and it was nice to enjoy again!

Monday’s breakfast:

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It’s so nice that there’s not school. Let’s see if I’ll still be saying this come the beginning of January….

I ran a bunch of errands, then came home for lunch. Chicken salad sandwich, veggies and ranch dressing:

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My son had basketball practice last night, then Alicia and her family came over for dinner. I made Williams-Sonoma’s 6-Hour Chili

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After the 6 hours in the slow cooker, I tasted it and was SO disappointed. It was so bland and awful. I doctored it and got it tasting better but it wasn’t the best. Ugh. Oh well….after we added all the toppings I put out, it tasted much better.

Today’s breakfast:

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My daughter and I went to get our nails done. I had my nails painted in USC’s colors for the game next week. I am ready! Go Trojans!

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I dropped my son off at a playdate, then stopped at Jersey Mike’s for lunch. 

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Turkey and provolone, Mike’s way with red pepper relish. Best sandwich ever.

Today is the last day before the Holiday Bowl events begin. I’m going to enjoy the calm for the crazy exciting storm ahead!

Are you cooking Christmas dinner or what are your dinner plans that night? I’m cooking! 

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

143.4...The Birthday Finale

My final birthday celebration was Thursday night at The Pony Room at Rancho Valencia.

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We all shared several appetizers. Lobster Nachos (jack & cheddar cheese, avocado, corn salsa, roasted poblano, Guajillo aioli, shredded romaine):

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Jalapeño Hamachi Crudo (house ponzu, spicy togarashi):

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RV Artichoke (lemon caper aioli, drawn butter):

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Brandt Farm Beef Sliders (“the sauce”, crispy onion, béarnaise, bacon):

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Honolulu Ahi Sashimi (avocado, ponzu, sesame seeds, sweet & sour dipping sauce):

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The lobster nachos were outstanding but the sliders are my personal favorite. I really enjoyed the sashimi too! 

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Just like that, my “birthday week” came and went! Another year older!

Breakfast yesterday:

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After I took the kids to school, I went to Zumba class. Lunch was with some friends at Big Bang Sushi

Garlic Chili Edamame:

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 Fried Gyoza:

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Miso soup:

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Tuna sushi:

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Salmon & Yellowtail sushi:

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Hot Night and Marine Boy Rolls:

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Sushi coma. :)

Last night I made pizzas for dinner using Trader Joe’s pizza dough.

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And a salad:

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And of course we gotta have some leftover red velvet cake to round out the meal!

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This may surprise you but my breakfast this morning was different.

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I made a breakfast burrito with a scrambled egg, onions and cheddar cheese. Just felt like something different finally. :) No guarantee it’s permanent. 

We are having a fabulous lazy day at home today. I love it. 

Lunch was a turkey sandwich, veggies and ranch.

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I will leave you with a picture of Arnold. She is ready for the holidays!

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Are you finished with your holiday shopping?

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