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Thursday, March 30, 2023

recipe roundup!

so after a good long stretch of taking the lazy route for dinners via door dash and uber eats, i decided to start dipping into my large stash of recipes that i've been saving.  between my *two* instant pots plus the new air fryer, i've been having a lot of fun...and probably saving a good amount of money to boot.

the ikea meatballs are an oldie but goodie.  next time, i'm going to cook them in the air fryer and it'll be easier and faster.

i'd bought a bag of lemons and decided that i wanted to finally tackle a recipe i'd been holding on to for lemon curd using the instant pot.  and i can't believe i waited so long, because it was beyond easy - and super delicious.

the next morning, i did a quick google search for an easy scone recipe and i found a great one.  these came out perfectly tender and just slightly sweet, and since i had the lemon curd (and a jar of english-style cream) to serve them with i skipped the glaze.  this recipe is a keeper.

i used more lemons to make a batch of lemon bars using a different recipe, one that used a shortbread-y crust instead of the traditional flaky type.  it wasn't love, so i'll be on the hunt for another one.

with all of the rain we've been getting, it's been soup weather.  i found this recipe for lemon chicken meatball soup and while it looked and smelled good...i wasn't a fan.  i don't really know why, but i don't think we'll redo this one.  if you decide to try it, let me know how you like it.

this is one of my most favorite instant pot meals to make - kalua pork, served with cabbage, plain white rice and hawaiian macaroni salad.

the bean and i love poutine, and even better with chunks of braised short rib.  and so i looked for a good recipe using my instant pot and came up with another keeper:

for more air fryer fun, i tried this recipe for chicken nuggets and served it up with some homemade ranch and stouffer's macaroni & cheese.  the bean doesn't like pickles, but both of those recipes incorporate some pickle juice and they loved this meal.  and yes, i 'fessed up and told them because i didn't like feeling like i was hiding something.  heh.

i love the mini vanilla scones from starbucks, but you know i'm on a starbucks hiatus.  so i pulled out this recipe and used some of my homemade vanilla paste and YUM.

the old lady requested spaghetti for dinner one night, so i used a recipe for meatballs to be cooked in the air fryer along with my trusty marinara sauce.  so good.

the bean was hit with a craving for korean fried chicken one day, so the air fryer came to the rescue again.

i used to make quickie red velvet pancakes for the bean all the time with store-bought pancake mix.  one morning, they had late start at school and asked for some and while i was out of pancake mix, i found an easy recipe and threw it together.  the cream cheese glaze is not to be missed...the icing on the cake, if you will.

another incredibly easy dinner came in the form of furikake salmon cooked in the air fryer.  i tell you, this thing is a godsend.  

i got to try my hand at char siu pork, trying out a recipe for the instant pot.  this marinade was incredibly fragrant, and what i learned for next time was to put it all together much earlier so that the meat could soak up as much of that flavor as possible.  i followed the recipe to the letter, but cooked it after the minimum two hours' marinade time and it could have used that extra time for sure.  still, it was good and i'll probably make it again one of these days - maybe i'll try my hand at homemade bao next time.

the bean recently discovered a love for pesto pasta, and when they requested that i make some for dinner i found an easy recipe to try.  i didn't have the heart to tell them that i really don't like pesto, but i'm always happy to take on a new challenge - plus, i figured that the old lady would probably like some since she loves pasta of all kinds.  i found a recipe to put it all together and topped it with some leftover air-fried chicken and fresh grated parmesan, and it was a huge hit.

and i've saved the best for last - scrolling through my instagram feed one day resulted in me pulling out the ingredients for these fluffernutter cookies almost as soon as i finished reading through the recipe.  these cookies are AMAZING.  and everyone in the house loves them...because peanut butter and marshmallow are two of the best things on the planet.  if you share in that love, you must try these cookies immediately. 

you're welcome.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

dumpity dump dump

it's time for a random photo dump!  i take pictures all the time of stuff we do and then find that a lot of them don't really deserve a whole post...so here you go.  heh.

for one of their friends' birthdays, the bean got a bug up their butt to craft a handmade gift.  i don't really know what the significance of the wombat is, but that's what they created - she has a scoop of ice cream on top of her head and she's sitting in a skillet with a deep dish chocolate chip cookie.  i'm sure it's filled with all kinds of inside jokes, but i was just marveling over the bean's creativity because this was created with no pattern, not following a youtube video or online tutorial or anything like that.  the bean just knew what they wanted it to look like and it turned out exactly as they'd envisioned:

one weekend while the hub was off doing stuff with his friends, the bean and i headed down to little tokyo for some shopping and a fun lunch at our favorite udon spot.  they love a little shop out there called mokuyobi, which is a super cute shop filled with clothes and accessories in really bright colors and all made locally.  

we spotted this ad for a sample sale the following weekend:

and then we stopped here for a quick treat before heading back home.

the sample sale was in south pasadena, which was a slightly easier drive than little tokyo.  we got there about a half hour after they opened, and the line to check out went all the way back to the front door.  i walked around the shop a bit with the bean and then left them to keep browsing while i got in that long line.

another day, we headed out and met up with the old lady at disneyland for a few hours of fun.

somewhere in between the bazillion rainstorms we've had here in soCA over the last few months, we also got some snow, which was really cool:

we tried to put beanies on teddy and cocoa, but they would have none of it.

i crocheted some fun little surprises for my friend weezermonkey's kids:

and also worked on my submission for the home arts competition for this year's l.a. county fair.  it turns out that the rules for the culinary competition state that those who sell their work aren't eligible to compete (oops), so i decided to try something different this time around.  i scrambled to finish my two pieces by the turn-in date, and then headed out to the fairgrounds to drop my entries off for judging.  there were a lot of other folks there with handmade quilts and dolls and things in hand, and i was flattered when a good handful of them stopped to compliment me on my projects.  the fair opens in may, and i'm excited to see if their sentiments are echoed by the judges.

i follow a bunch of people on instagram who post their process for recreating drinks from starbucks and dutch bros., which probably sounds super dorky (but i don't care).  this, of course, led to me deciding that i wanted to save up for an upgrade to my entry-level espresso machine.  i did a little internet research to narrow down my options and see what i could get with the budget i'd set for myself and settled on a nice mid-level breville machine.  

the coffee gods must've been watching, because as soon as i'd made that decision i got an email from williams-sonoma announcing a 20% off sale on - you guessed it - their selection of breville espresso machines.  SCHWING!  this then presented me with quite the dilemma...go with the machine i'd settled on and save a few bucks, or use up the original amount i'd budgeted and upgrade to the next step up?

bitch, please.  as if that were a real question.  and then i did a little googling and found that amazon had also decided to put all of their breville machines on sale.  and so the next day, i welcomed this new addition to the household:

much to my family's amusement (and slight horror), i moved stuff around and now i have my very own coffee bar:

they may make fun of me for it, but don't think they haven't all enjoyed some delicious caffeinated beverages as a result.  hmph.

there's another new toy in my kitchen too, and i think it's getting almost as much use as the coffee bar - an air fryer!

so i've actually had an airfryer for a few years now, but the damn thing is so big and sucked up so much power that every time i fired it up it would trip a circuit.  like, every single time.  it was so annoying and so i never used it.  it just took up space in one of my cupboards, and after looking at it again one day i finally decided that i wanted to get rid of it and buy a smaller, more usable version.  i listed in my local mom's yard sale facebook page and sold it within ten minutes.  woohoo!  and now i'm having fun trying out all kinds of fun recipes and cooking everything i can in that thing.  it's amazing and i can't believe i waited so long.

oh, and for st. patrick's day i totally pigged out on green krispy kreme donuts and a shamrock shake from mcdonald's.  YOLO.

Monday, March 13, 2023

an afternoon of disney adulting

the hub and i were recently invited to join his friends-slash-clients at disneyland one afternoon to have lunch and hang out at club 33.  you know that we've been lucky enough to go a few times in the past, but this visit would be a little different because there's a members-only bar area called le salon nouveau that i've never been able to check out aside from peeking down the hall like a creeper.  so obviously, i was super duper extra stoked.

when we arrived, we lucked out and got to park on the pixar side of the mickey & friends parking structure AND even scored one of the charging spots.  i always try to snag one of those spots down on the ground level, but if you get there any later than, say, 9am, they're typically all gone and then we just have to park where they tell us to.  it's such a crapshoot because you could find yourself in the far dark corners of the structure where you have to walk a country mile to get to the escalators, which sucks balls at the end of the day.

since i have a magic key (disneyland's special name for their annual passes), i didn't need a ticket to enter the parks - but since the hub doesn't hit the 'land as often as we do, he hasn't had a pass in years.  but club 33 members get a nice little yearly allotment of day passes, and so we met up with our friends at the membership desk at the grand californian.

there's also a members-only bar called the 1901 lounge at california adventure, but i learned that there are different levels of club 33 membership...and our friends didn't have access to it.  they've been members for a really long time, and the 1901 lounge is a fairly recent addition.  i guess it was just a way for disney to figure out how to add another layer of exclusivity (read: $$$$) to the whole club 33 experience.  

we did go into california adventure for a little while, though.  we didn't do much - we walked around a little, jumped into the single rider line at radiator springs racers, caught the tail end of mulan's lunar new year procession.

when you're with the club member and planning to hang out at the bar, you can enter the club an hour before your reservation time.  and so we left california adventure, crossed the esplanade and scanned into disneyland.  we looked for the old lady, who was on duty that day, but of course she happened to be on break.  

we walked through the turnstiles and headed straight up to the train station to catch a ride to new orleans square.  the lilly belle train car, which was largely designed by and named for lillian disney, was hooked up that day but rides are incredibly hard to come by.  you used to be able to ride in it when you booked a grand circle guided tour or if you were a club 33 member, but now if you're not VIP status, you ain't getting in.

so for our previous visits, we'd come to the entrance and ring this doorbell to check in for our reservation:

but this time, our friend whipped out her membership card and waved it in front of the light.  in seconds, a cast member swung open the door to welcome us in and greeted her by name.  while she got us checked in, i took a peek at the glass case along one wall to see what kind of fun merchandise they had available this time.

once we were good to go, we found ourselves in the court of angels.  our friends headed to the elevator while the hub and i took the stairs up to the entrance.  

here's that hallway to the the bar that i told you about:

only this time, we were actually allowed to go in.  and now i know what's along that hall - there are some very old and/or very expensive bottles of wine on display along one wall:

and there are several cozy booths that you can sit in and enjoy adult beverages in.  our hostess explained that each booth has a theme, and the frame on the wall is animated and on motion sensors.  unfortunately for us, they were glitching that day and none of the animations worked, but our friends assured us that we'd return another day together and then we'd get to see them in action (woohoo!).

the first time we visited club 33 in 2008 was when it was still in its original form, before the extensive remodel done a few years ago.  back then, in order to get upstairs to the restaurant you'd either climb up the red carpeted stairs or ride in the old-timey elevator.  that old elevator is still there, but now it lives here in the bar as a decorative piece.

this picture is also animated, with the jazz band players disappearing one by one as the music plays on.

we chose to sit inside one of the booths, hoping that the animation would restart (spoiler:  it didn't).  that's okay, though.  it was nice to relax in the comfort of the booth, munching on warm rosemary-spiced cashews and sipping on cocktails. i do love a disney pimm's cup.

when it was time for lunch, we were escorted from our booth across the way into le grand salon, and seated in the back corner table that was apparently lillian's favorite.  

here's the full menu for lunch:

i tried to get pictures of all the different food items that everyone had, although i tried not to be disruptive and snapped a few from a distance.  the hub is used to this and doesn't really care anymore by now, but i didn't want to bother our friends with my incessant photo taking.  heh.  anyway, this was the chilled shrimp tower that was one of the selections for the first course:

i'd ordered the tortellini with mushroom and black truffles because - well, truffles.  YUM.

and the hub, who hadn't loved any of the offerings, opted for a simple cheese plate.  this was actually part of the finale/dessert course, but i guess when you're in da club, you can do what you want.

second course - pink radicchio and arugula salad and french onion soup with braised beef (delish!).

all four of us had ordered the new york steak, served with roasted potatoes, squash and a cabernet sauce.

for my finale, i'd chosen the chocolate hazelnut tart.  it was amazing.

this was the buttermilk cake with blood orange sorbet.

and then the hub had the lemon trifle, served with lemon sorbet and raspberries.

we snuck out to the balcony to take a selfie:

there are a few tables set up outside too, but it's a tight area and you can only seat two per table.  that would make for one really cool date, though.

we decided to go back to the bar and enjoy another cocktail or two together, and this time we headed into the main seating area.  this time when we passed the jazz band frame, all of the performers were accounted for.

the bar was really lovely.  peaceful and calm, and you almost forget that you're smack dab in the middle of one of the most beloved amusement parks in the world.

...until you look out the window and see the hustle and bustle of the crowds down below.

they carry quite an extensive selection of very expensive booze here, which is no surprise.  it was fun to gaze at the bottles and marvel over the prices per ounce:

and i loved this framed shag print of le salon nouveau, which i would love to add to our collection at home of fun disney-inspired art.

by the time we finally left, it was already dark outside.

and on our way out, we finally managed to find the old lady, who'd been seething with jealousy the whole afternoon.  one text had read "are you drinking awesome shooters and soaking up each other's awesomeness?" heh.

but i couldn't blame her one bit.  it had, indeed, been an awesome time with awesome friends at an awesome place.  i know how lucky i am to have had these opportunities for something that is on countless disney adults' bucket lists.  

you know what else would be badass?  getting to experience the disney world version of club 33.  ooh...and the TOKYO version too.  i'm pretty sure those will remain unchecked on my own bucket list, though.  and that's okay.  still, a girl can dream...

the hub 45.0

happy birthday today to this guy: hopefully he won't kill me for any of those pictures.  ah well...happy birthday to the love of my life!