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Friday, April 16, 2021

magical cake

so while we still haven't tried the "cereal killer" cheesecake recipe i mentioned before, i did finally get a chance to make something else i've had saved for awhile.  i'd seen the "magic chocoflan cake" on twitter or instagram or some other social media outlet before, and figured it was meant for me.  i mean, it's some crazy hybrid of delicious chocolate cake and creamy flan - ain't nothing wrong with that.  and i wanted to see if it really would work - the process involves pouring the two batters into the same pan, with the chocolate cake magically floating to the top of the pan so that when flipped upside down, the flan would be on top of the whole thing.

the recipe i was using was created for the instant pot, which was perfect since it only accommodates a small sized bundt pan.  i knew that this treat would only be enjoyed by me and the bean since the hub still isn't doing sugar and the old lady can't stand flan, so we didn't need a full-sized cake in the house.  the first step was to pour some caramel sauce into the bottom of the pan:

then i mixed up the ingredients for the chocolate cake.  pretty basic - butter, flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, egg, you get the gist.


then i made the flan mixture and poured it carefully on top of the chocolate batter.

i covered the pan with foil and lowered it carefully into the instant pot, placing it on top of a trivet that kept it above the water poured into the bottom of the pot.  it only needed 22 minutes of pressure cooking and then ten minutes of natural release before opening the pot to take the cake out and let it cool for about an hour before flipping it over onto a serving plate.

i was so excited to see that it actually worked - chocolate cake topped with a layer of flan and caramel sauce.  so cool!


and i'm happy to report that it was just as good as it looked.  it was a really good combination of textures and flavors, and so much easier to make than it seems.  maybe if we ever get to host a party at the house again, i'll make it to serve.  heh.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

happy birthday, little cocoa

i totally screwed up and forgot to post this yesterday, but our sweet, feisty little cocoa just turned two years old!  she was all of nine weeks old when we brought her home:

she kind of tolerates our shenanigans, but to be perfectly honest she abhors wearing clothing of any kind.  poor little thing, she literally wilts before our very eyes whenever we try to dress her up.



she's truly the old lady of the house, though - grumpy and crochety and moody as all hell.  but she's also the sweetest little cuddler while being a fierce little guard dog who's the first to let us know when someone's at the door.  she loves attention and being petted and hugged and loved, and the house is so lively with her in it.


happy two years, miss cocoa!  we love you so much!

Friday, April 9, 2021

mmm...krispy rice

 the kids and i headed out to the grove last week for some fresh air and some retail therapy.  none of us could even remember the last time we'd been there (although i guess i could probably search for my last blog post about it, huh) and we were kind of excited to see what was new and different.

we grabbed a snack at wetzel's pretzels, something none of us had had in a really long time.  and it was so good...because carbs are our friend.  i didn't even get a picture because we totally hoovered those things up in no time.

the nike store was our first real stop, where the girls picked out some new kicks.  because who doesn't love new shoes?  and then we browsed through a few other stores before we decided that the pretzel had only served as an appetizer, leaving us even hungrier.  when we'd pulled into the parking structure we passed umami burger with a sign outside that said that they were also serving up other deliciousness, like nashville hot chicken sandwiches and something else that had caught our attention - krispy rice sushi.  we all know the bean lives for sushi, and even the old lady was interested in some of the things on their menu and so that's where we headed.

with the new health guidelines, we were actually able to sit inside.  normally we would have still chosen outdoor seating, but it was a little chilly that evening and the dining room was practically empty.  and so we sat at a booth, marveling at how weird it was to be sitting inside an actual restaurant after a year of take-out, delivery and outdoor dining.

look how cute their soy sauce packets are:

and the little characters continued on other items, too.


our sushi was brought to us in to-go boxes.  kind of wasteful, but i guess that's just how things are going these days, dine-in or not.


everything was delicious, by the way.  even my weak ass chowed down on the spicy tuna krispy rice sushi - partly because i really wanted to try it since it's obviously their specialty and also because it really wasn't very spicy.  i also really enjoyed the salmon/yuzu krispy rice sushi, and everyone had seconds of the baked crab hand rolls because they were that good.

after we'd stuffed ourselves silly with sushi, we headed back into the grove where we stumbled across the new store owned by drake - october's very own.  i really don't know much about it, but the old lady and her special friend had wanted to check it out so they were happy to check it off the list.  with sweatpants hovering around $250 and fairly plain tees priced at $50ish, we walked out emptyhanded.



on our way out, i got them to stop for a quick selfie with minimal moaning and groaning.


we stopped here to grab some ice cream that the old lady promised would be worth the drive (spoiler alert:  it was).



and back at home, the bean was stoked to open a gigantic box sent from her grandma that contained a full set of brand-new BTS plushies.


i'd say it was a pretty good saturday indeed.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

happy birthday, baby

the hub's birthday was last week and i couldn't help but share this photo on social media with my birthday greeting:

don't you love the matching leather jackets?  so awesome.

we headed out to the derby in arcadia for his birthday dinner, where we were seated in one of several tents set up in the parking lot.  i managed to get this selfie of us:

birthday dessert came in the form of ice cream and fudge sauce while we sang him the birthday song.  he looks excited, yes?

and then back at home we presented him with some fun gifts and cards.  

simple and understated, just the way he likes it.  no chateau marmont this year, heh.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

soccer mom no more

as much as i am a huge disney fan, i'd not really seen a whole lot of marvel movies.  i think until a few months ago i'd only ever watched the first iron man movie, which i remember really enjoying but never really followed up with the sequels.  and the girls and i actually went to the theater to see the last two avengers movies - which, looking back, was really kind of bizarre considering we hadn't seen most of the other movies that led up to them.  

and then when disney+ debuted, offering up almost every marvel movie aside from the hulk and the spiderman movies (due to licensing issues or something i haven't really bothered to look up), i decided that i wanted to watch all of them in order.  i wanted to see all of the origin stories for the characters and finish up my marathon with another viewing of avengers:endgame that would make more sense to me having seen all of the backstories.

i dream big, people.  serious goals here.

did i ever mention that the original reason why we even started talking about remodeling the house stemmed from a discussion about how cool it would be to drive a tesla?  it started there and moved on to how it would be awesome to convert the house to solar so that we could harness the power of the sun to fuel the car.  and of course, that meant that we needed to replace the roof...and while we were at it, might as well rip out the carpet and replace it with hardwood, or tile, or something cool.  but then if we were going to do all that, it seemed like the best time to go ahead and reconfigure the rooms the way we'd always talked about since we moved into the house ten years prior.  and then we stumbled upon a screaming deal on the stove/oven that ended up sitting in the garage for two years before we finally got our shit together and designed a kitchen around it.  craziness, right?

with the house mostly done (which i should probably recap here one of these days too, huh?), a couple of weeks ago we finally started looking at the options for the tesla.  we put down the deposit and placed the order, and then we sat back to wait the 4-11 weeks that was quoted as our timeline for delivery.

but then last week, while i was getting ready for a rare date night with the hub, he texted me with pictures of a used tesla at a dealership that was close to the restaurant we had dinner reservations at.  "let's go test drive it before dinner," he said.  it was a year old with low mileage, and was pretty much exactly what we'd ordered online the week before.  but because it was used, the sticker price was considerably less than the new one we were waiting for.  


we took it for a couple of loops around the block and then took the salesman's card and headed off to dinner.  i knew we were both pretty much sold on the car, but we went home to sleep on it and by the next morning we'd made the decision to head back out and bring it home.  the only bummer was that when we got there, they hadn't had time to charge it up for us and so we had just enough juice in the battery to get it home.  i plugged it in the second i got it into the garage, and that's when i realized that there was a whole lot i needed to learn about this car...with the cable that came with it, it was charging at the glacial pace of 4 miles per hour.  yikes.


the bean was bummed when i told her that we'd still have to take the old car when it was time for her math tutoring session, so i promised her that when i came back to pick her up for cheer practice i'd take the new car.  by that time we'd added a whopping 15 miles to the range.

we got to the gym a little early and had some time to browse through all of the menus on the gigantic screen display, and we were both really amused to find that not only did we have access to netflix, hulu and youtube but a decent selection of video games PLUS "caraoke."



oh!  the marvel movie marathon story did have a point...because when i went to download the tesla app onto my phone i found that i had the option to give the car a name.  with all of those movies (plus the wandavision series on disney+) still fresh in my mind, it seemed only natural to choose "jarvis."  the old lady and the hub both liked it, and the bean just rolled her eyes in typical teenage fashion.

"jarvis" is, of course, unavailable for a personalized plate.  bummer.  but i don't care.  i love my new car, and i'm pretty excited to break free from the soccer mom mobile!  and the best part?  no more gas stations!

WOOHOO!!  

Thursday, March 25, 2021

doing a little recipe surfing

we've been having fun making all sorts of stuff to eat around here lately.  i guess that's not really anything new though, is it?  we have tons of free time and all kinds of recipes that we find on social media - but i still haven't fallen into the trap of homemade sourdough.  and it's not even like i don't have the ingredients for it, i just haven't really been that interested in it.  huh.

you know what i AM always interested in, though?  cake!  one day, we just got hit with a craving for some shitty strawberry cake mix cake and so that's exactly what we made.  i did make some cream cheese frosting from scratch for it though, so that makes it okay right?  and i busted out some tools to play with some basic decorating, which was really fun.  watching instagram reels on cake decorating is always inspiring even though we all know i really suck at it.  see?  whatever.  it tasted pretty dang good.

my friend nanette posted about a mochi cake mix she'd found at trader joe's, which caught my attention because we have a nice supply of sweet rice flour in the house.  i turned to my other friend google to find a recipe, and as i read through the first few hits it occurred to me that the ingredients sounded very familiar.  most of the recipes were pretty much the same, and so i just picked one and made it.  it was pretty simple - the sweet rice flour, sugar, eggs, coconut milk, a few other basics.  then bake at 350 for an hour and cool completely before slicing and serving.  and when i took my first bite i realized why it seemed so familiar...this mochi cake is basically the same thing as filipino bibingka.  i was never a huge fan of bibingka growing up, but i can tell you that i love it now.  i don't even have a decent picture of it because we were so busy gobbling it down.  

the bean has been joining a small group of girls in her class for a weekly session led by one of her friends' moms, where they talk about things like friends and confidence and bullying and self care.  it's been a really nice thing for them since they've been apart for a year now, and every time i go to pick her up at the end of the session i get a few minutes to chat with their parents as well.  we decided to make some homemade treats for her to share, which gave me the chance to try out a couple of recipes i'd had bookmarked.  the sugar cookie bars looked and tasted a lot like those frosted cookies you find in the bakery section at the grocery store, and the brownies are a copycat recipe for ones served at disneyland (which i don't actually remember seeing, but whatevs).  both turned out delicious.


a trip to the japanese grocery store yielded the makings for a simple shabu shabu, which we were excited to try.  i dug out our old fondue pot, poured in the soup base and tossed in some fresh asparagus.  a little swish-swish with the chopsticks and we had ourselves a fun little meal on a cold rainy night.

of course, st. patrick's day was all about corned beef and cabbage.


and check out these glamping-themed cookies!  these were really fun to make.


we had a birthday parade to attend, so i'd thrown in a couple of extra cookies to attach to the birthday girl's gift.


next we have a cereal-and-milk pie recipe that we've been dying to try.  there's a local bakery that serves a "cereal killer" pie that sounds delicious...basically a fruit loops-infused cheesecake with a nilla wafer crust, and it's next on our list of treats.  i hope it's as good as it sounds - i'll be sure to report back.  hopefully with pictures.  we'll see.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

now it's time to say goodbye...

it's no secret that we adore all things disney.  disneyland has always been our favorite place, and the old lady still has great memories of her first trip to disney world when she was about four.  and in between visits to the parks, we would head over to the mall to browse through the disney store.  the closest one to us was in montclair, and it was a really big store that even had a little quick-serve restaurant in the back.  she doesn't remember that part because they closed it sometime in the mid-90s, but i used to love heading out there to grab a mickey-shaped PB&J on my lunch break.

the montclair store was one of the few that never got that magical disney remodel, and it was like a fun disney time capsule every time we walked in there.  the news came a couple of weeks ago that a whole bunch of disney stores were on the chopping block - likely due to covid, like everything else - and of course, our beloved retro store was on the list.  before they closed down for good, we decided to head over for one last visit.


it was a friday afternoon, but there was still a pretty considerable line of folks waiting to get in.  but in typical disney style, it moved pretty quickly and before we knew it, we were next to enter.

i have to admit, i hadn't actually looked at all of the decorations and things inside the store in a very long time.  it's usually a quick visit to peruse the merchandise for sale, sometimes in search of something specific, and we're in and out in minutes.  and so this time, i stopped to take in all of my surroundings - starting with the front cashier that was shaped like a box office.

just as i remembered, the characters that adorned the tops of the shelves and racks were super dated.  it was like walking through the disney channel line-up from about 1993.





aside from the fab five, mostly classic disney movie characters were there with nothing newer than "the little mermaid."  i think that came out in, like, 1989.











and the section of the store that held the most memories for any of us was already blocked off - you know, where they would place the mountain of soft plush toys.  both girls adored going back there to hug the stuffed animals of their favorite characters, and the bean remembered actually jumping into the pile a couple of times before we were gently admonished by one of the cast members.  heh.


what was left in the store was all 30% off, and we'd found a few things to take home.  after we paid, we took one last look and then snagged a quick selfie in front.





they're also closing the disney store in the other mall we frequent most often, and so now we have just one option left within a 10-mile radius.  but with the parks at the disneyland resort finally planning to reopen at the end of next month, we'll be able to get our dose of disney magic again.  i'm not sure when we'll get to go, with annual passes now a thing of the past and a reservation system coming that'll allow maybe 25% capacity plus a whole lot of fellow disneyland fans just itching to get back  to the parks.  but we're patient.  we've waited a whole year already...what's a few more months?

magical cake

so while we still haven't tried the "cereal killer" cheesecake recipe i mentioned before, i did finally get a chance to make s...