wan-na find something?

Monday, August 31, 2020

family dinners are the best

we've been really enjoying family dinners in the last few weeks.  the hub comes up with some really fun ideas for what we can have, and then we all work together to make it happen.  like last tuesday, when he suggested ribeye and shrimp tacos.  it was the most epic taco tuesday yet, especially since the hub was able to find some keto-friendly tortillas at the grocery store that he said were pretty tasty.

another idea he had was make-your-own-pizza night.  and then he got a bug up his butt to find a pizza oven for the back yard (which actually is a great idea since pizza is one of my most favorite things on earth).  except that the one he really wanted apparently is sold out everywhere, with every single retailer in southern california completely sold out and backordered on the manufacturer's website.  of course.  and so we just settled for making pizzas in our oven, which luckily gets pretty darn hot on its own.

i'd found a recipe for a keto-friendly cauliflower crust, which the old lady decided she wanted to try as well.  and so after a quick trip to trader joe's, she got started on the dough while i scurried around making the marinara sauce.  after she mixed up the first batch, it looked like this:

then we shaped it into a circle on a piece of parchment paper for baking:

and about 12 minutes later we had keto pizza crust.  we realized later that we should have left it in for a few more minutes to get it a little more crisp, but flavor-wise it was pretty darn good.

the hub was pretty pleased with his finished pizza.

and the rest of us used premade dough that we'd picked up during that trader joe's run.  i'd always heard good things about it, and now it's confirmed.  super easy to use and bakes up really nicely.

another night we decided to do a roasted chicken taste test, which was really intended for me to test out the rotisserie function in my air fryer.  except that when it was time to start cooking i couldn't find the stupid attachment anywhere.  i was so annoyed, especially since i'd looked at every single chicken at the grocery store in search of one that would fit in the air fryer (the rotisserie can only accommodate up to 4 pounds).  and so i ended up just putting it in there and flipping it halfway through the cooking time.  i had a second, much larger chicken roasting in the regular oven so we could compare the two and see if there was a difference in taste with the two cooking methods.  the air fryer chicken came out beautifully:

as did the one in the oven.

there was garlic parmesan broccoli and crunchy asparagus fries on the side, along with some garlic parmesan pasta that the old lady made for us.  it was a pretty fantastic dinner, with a tie declared between the two chickens.  both came out juicy and flavorful, and no one could pick a favorite.

oh, by the way, this is teddy.

teddy spent some time in his much-hated crate, strategically placed in the kitchen because we discovered that he had decided to treat the island as his personal giant chew toy.  OY VEY.

and then we put him in the pen instead because it'd been a long time since he'd been in the crate and while he had plenty of room to lay down in it (which he did without yelping and crying because he KNEW he'd screwed up big time) and i hadn't realized he'd totally outgrown the damn thing.

sigh.  this is why we can't have nice things.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

hey, remember going to disneyland?

one of the things we miss most during this time of covid is - well, i'm sure you can guess - disneyland.  our last visit was in february, just as they'd kicked off the food & wine festival, and then of course the bean and i had our very brief disney world trip in early march.  just as we returned home from that trip, everything shut down and life as we currently know it began.

disneyland was slated to reopen july 17th, just in time to celebrate the 65th anniversary.  but of course, with the virus still running rampant and no end in sight, that was postponed - rightly so.  as much as we miss going, i don't think we'd have felt comfortable going back just yet.

with the parks and hotels still shut down, downtown disney reopened for shopping and outdoor dining on july 9th.  via twitter we could see that it was quite the hotbed of activity, despite the grumbling about wearing masks and temperature checks and limited availability of shops and restaurants.  the parking lot was often reported as full to capacity, and we stayed far away.

we waited for about six weeks before we even entertained the idea of making a visit to get a dose of disney magic.  i asked the old lady how she felt about heading down even just for an hour or two, on a weekday when we knew it would be much less crowded, and without hesitation she was in.  we decided to keep it a surprise from the bean, and on thursday afternoon we hopped in the car and drove the familiar route down to anaheim.

the bean let out an excited "yes!  i was hoping this is where we were going!" as we pulled into the resort area.  the simba parking lot behind paradise pier hotel is the only parking currently available, and right now it's free for downtown disney guests.  judging from the number of cars in the lot, a weekday visit was definitely the right choice.

as we made our way through the lot and towards the fun stuff, we took note of all the new signage that had been placed since covid began.

when we got to the security tent, we were asked to keep the whole party together while they did a contactless temperature check before walking through the metal detector.  we'd left our purses in the car, so bag checks weren't necessary for us.

just a few steps away was this hand sanitizer station.  i stopped to get some, but it was empty.  hmm.

and then we got our first look at downtown disney since february.  sigh.

we hadn't had lunch yet, and so we decided to head to black tap for some grub.  we've never, ever seen it this empty before - although duh, there's no indoor seating so everyone was sitting at tables outside after placing their orders.

the bean was super excited for her nutella shake:

and because of a weird mixup from placing our orders the old lady and i ended up sharing her chicken caesar salad.  somehow the salad i'd ordered for myself didn't actually make it on the ticket, and i didn't really want to get up and reorder it and wait again.  oh well.  the salad was a fairly generously sized portion, so it was plenty for us to share.  and we agreed that it was really good - better than we'd expected and definitely better than it looks in this picture.  heh.

after we finished lunch, we headed over to world of disney to join the virtual queue for entrance.  there were cast members standing in the tram loading area who took our phone number and number in our party, and let us know that we'd receive a text when it was our turn to enter the store.  the wait at that time was about an hour, and so we decided to head over to the main entrance esplanade.

we stopped at this hand washing station, because it's always a good idea to wash your hands whenever you get the chance.

the esplanade was rather sad to see, with the music playing like normal but no excited parkgoers in sight. there were a couple of cast members stationed near the gates and a few visitors like us, taking pictures and gazing wistfully inside the gates at the empty parks.  it was so bittersweet to be there.

as we wandered back through downtown disney, the old lady received the text that told us to head on into the line to enter the world of disney store.

on our way there, the old lady noticed a couple of girls who were walking along holding their masks in their hands - and a cast member scurried right over and asked them to put them on.  good.

there were a few groups in line ahead of us, but as is the disney way the line moved pretty quickly.

by the way, if you're looking to usher in halloween extra early, disney's got you covered.

once we left the world of disney, we called it a day.  i waved goodbye to the disneyland hotel as we headed back to the parking lot.

and as we made our way out of the lot, we got one more glimpse of the sadness that is the empty california adventure park.

big sigh.  i don't know if that made missing disneyland better or worse.  i wouldn't be surprised if they stay closed until 2021, and even if they did open i don't know how we'd feel about going just yet.  it's a total first world problem, i know.  but still...it bites.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

sweets for the sweet

so yeah, making meals at home has been lots of fun.  but you know what else is even better?  DESSERT.

a trip to the asian grocery store yielded a case of mangoes and a bag of sweet rice.  add some coconut milk, sugar and a little salt and you get the most delicious treat ever - mango sticky rice.

and because i'd opened a can of evaporated milk for something - maybe the mochi bubble waffles? - along with some leftover sweetened condensed milk that went in something else that i can't remember, i figured it was the perfect time to try my hand at a tres leches cake.  a quick google search later i was mixing it up and then a little while later i pulled this out of the oven:

so basically it's like a poke cake.  you let the cake cool for a bit before using a fork to poke a bunch of holes in the top and then you mix up the "syrup" and pour it on, saturating the cake completely.

refrigerate it for awhile and then mix up the topping.  most of the recipes i found actually called for whipped cream, but i wanted it to be like the cake we get at porto's so i went the meringue route.  i stuck it under the broiler for just a minute or two so the meringue got a little toasty and then we dug in.

holy moly...so good.  just looking at that makes me want to make it again and eat it all.

i did learn my lesson about making sure there's some space between the heating element for the broiler and the baking rack, though.  i learned that shit the hard way.  i'd mixed up a batch of salty & sweet s'mores bars and topped it with giant marshmallows:

and then i popped that pan into the oven with the broiler on, but didn't realize how close the pan was to the top.  when i opened the door a couple of minutes later, i was met with a pan of fire.  and i panicked.  thank goodness the old lady and her special friend were there, because i was literally frozen and couldn't remember any of the things we've been taught about fires in the kitchen.  the bean actually took video of my panic, the little shit.  and no, i'm not sharing it.  but here's what we ended up pulling out of the oven:

all we had to do was scrape the burnt layer off the top (although lots of people like their marshmallows all burnt like that) and the rest of it was fine.  but i think i was traumatized by the whole experience and couldn't bring myself to eat more than a bite or two.  oy vey.  such a failure.

speaking of failures, i also managed to screw up another s'mores-themed dessert.  i'd seen a few people post about making s'mores eggrolls using their air fryer, which sounded delicious.  so i decided to give it a shot.

i assembled three of those bad boys and put them into the air fryer, where the marshmallows decided they didn't want to stay inside the wrappers and exploded right out onto the rack.  yarg.

by the time i turned it off and pulled them out of there, it was a sticky mess and the marshmallows were pretty much eviscerated.

on a brighter note, i did bust out a pretty good chocolate bundt cake.

AND i even dipped a toe back into the cookie making waters with this super fun request from a friend who'd finalized her divorce after six long years.

this copycat starbucks lemon loaf went to a friend who helped us out when we were in a bind:

a super random craving had me going back to smitten kitchen's almond-vanilla rice pudding recipe, something i hadn't made in probably a decade.  it was so good, i made a second batch two days later.

and lest you think the poor hub was being left out of all the dessert-y goodness, here's a keto-friendly cheesecake i made for him:

plus a lemon bundt cake that he really seemed to enjoy.

i've got a recipe for some japanese bakery-style milk bread that i've been dying to try, and there's a rum cake that's calling my name.  OH!  and we finally put all of our fitness equipment in the old lady's old room, so now there's no excuses.

bring on the sweets!

squeezing in all the sightseeing

this was our NYC home for a whole week: it was one of only a few hotels that i could find that offered two beds in a room rather than, say, ...