Archive | food

party party

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i told you it was party month over here! today i thought i’d share a few photos from the little spread i put together for a very low key new year’s eve celebration. i’m not especially big on new year’s and i don’t tend to make resolutions. i always have big goals that i want to achieve, and i feel like all the resolution stuff is just more added pressure getting tacked on to the passing of another calendar year. but i do like any excuse to drink champagne and eat fancy uncured meats and stinky cheeses. so i put together a rather decadent spread and invited just a couple of people over to enjoy a very casual celebration. at dinnertime. because we decided to put the kids down to sleep at their usual bedtimes rather than tempt fate and force them to stay awake on the edge of tantrums and meltdowns. i did actually stay up until one minute before midnight when edie woke up crying. so i rang in 2017 nursing my little baby back to sleep.

but back to the important stuff: meat and cheese! i keep seeing these epic platters on pinterest, so i decided to give it a try for myself. this was my second attempt, and i would say that it was a success! and perhaps a new party tradition around here. it’s my birthday tomorrow, and i still haven’t made any plans, so perhaps i’ll have to pull one of these together and pour myself another glass of champagne. i’m gonna need it to drown my sorrows. not because i’ll be a year older, but because tomorrow is inauguration day.

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after school snack: beet, yam, and broccoli tots

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adam is back in school, which means that he’s super hungry when he gets home! and having a quick snack ready is my first line of defense against toddler meltdowns. during the summer break when he was home all of the time, i kinda slipped into the bad habit of feeding him a lot of packaged snacks. they aren’t terrible or anything, but a fresh start to the new year has got me brainstorming ways to feed him quick, easy, and healthful meals and snacks. so when got milk? asked me if i’d be interested in partnering up to share a fun and savory milk pairing for kids, i knew just the recipe to share!

adam is pretty good about eating fresh fruit, but i have to be sneaky when it comes to convincing him to eat his veggies. thankfully, i’ve figured out a way to pack in tons of nutrients into these colorful little tots! the concept is pretty simple: swap out potatoes for any veggie you want. three favorites around this house are beets, yams, and broccoli. and they certainly aren’t just for kids. adam likes them plain, but i like to toss in a few spices for myself and dip them in a chipotle aioli sauce. add a heaping glass of organic whole milk and enjoy!

after school snack: beet, yam, and broccoli tots
 
ingredients
  • 12 oz. veggie of your choice (we used beets, yams, and broccoli)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar
  • ½ cup panko or bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a side of chipotle aioli, mayonnaise, or ketchup
instructions
  1. preheat your oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit
  2. blanch your veggies in boiling water until slightly soft. the cooking times will vary depending on the vegetable you use, but no more than 2-3 minutes each. shock in cold water and drain. use a paper towel to remove excess moisture if necessary.
  3. in a bowl, combine veggies with cheese, panko, and egg. quickly stir them together to incorporate, then drop them in the food processor and pulse a few times until they are chopped finely. you can play around with the texture you prefer.
  4. using a tablespoon to measure the size of the tots, form them into little spheres and line them on a baking sheet. spray with cooking oil.
  5. bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
  6. enjoy with a tall glass of california milk!

i’ve gotten into a habit of preparing three batches at the beginning of the week and then storing them in the refrigerator so they’re ready to bake right as adam is arriving home from school. he’s a bit young, but he does enjoy helping me shape them into tots as well! if i make a handful for him and myself every day, they usually last all week!

after school snack: beet, yam, and broccoli totsafter school snack: beet, yam, and broccoli totsafter school snack: beet, yam, and broccoli totsafter school snack: beet, yam, and broccoli totsafter school snack: beet, yam, and broccoli totsafter school snack: beet, yam, and broccoli tots20160828_calivintage_0203this post is brought to you by got milk? food loves milk.

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night cereal: butternut squash rolled oats

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it’s a funny time of year right now. we’re still in the middle of an epic heatwave, but the seasonal shift is undeniable. the shadows are getting longer, cute little pumpkins are lining the windows at our local fruit stand, and adam is getting ready to start the new school year. those lazy days of summer are coming to an end, and we’ve been kicking into high gear with adam’s school schedule, edie’s sleep schedule, and a very busy mom and dad. but that doesn’t mean we don’t find time to prepare dinner, especially when it’s something quick and easy that only takes a few minutes on the stovetop.

which is why we are so excited to have partnered with our friends at got milk to share a quick and easy, kid-friendly night cereal recipe! this variation on classic oatmeal is a simple, hearty meal that has quickly become a family favorite around here. it’s packed with tons of nutrients important for a growing body, and it’s simple enough that adam can be involved in the food prep from beginning to end. which means more time to enjoy each other’s company at the end of a long and busy day.

and the best part? the variations are pretty much endless. simply cook a hot cereal of your choice and add a savory puree like butternut squash, yams, or even zucchini. add fruit and nuts, then top it all off with wholesome california milk. here’s our favorite:

night cereal: butternut squash rolled oats
 
ingredients
  • 1 cup hot cereal (we used bob's red mill 5 grain rolled hot cereal with whole grain plus flaxseed)
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 oz cooked and pureed butternut squash
  • brown sugar to taste
  • nuts, dried fruit, or fresh fruit toppings as desired
  • ½ cup whole milk
instructions
  1. boil together water and cereal in a small saucepan.
  2. reduce heat and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until desired consistency.
  3. add butternut squash and brown sugar to taste
  4. serve in a bowl with your favorite toppings (we used mixed nuts, craisins, and fresh figs)
  5. then top it off with wholesome california milk and enjoy!

 

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3

taco time

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this post was sponsored by ALDI as part of influencer activation for influence central.

you may remember a couple of weeks ago, i shared my ALDI grocery haul. so today i thought i’d follow-up and show you what i made! i went shopping ahead of memorial day weekend, but i wasn’t in the mood to celebrate with the typical bbq fare. instead, i opted for something a bit lighter: organic ground beef tacos with chips and guacamole, and a white wine sangria filled with fresh fruit. as i mentioned in my previous post, ALDI has just opened 26 new locations across southern california, and this was my first visit to one of their locations. i had a vague idea that they sold products at an affordable price, so i wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. but as i started to browse through the aisles, i was really surprised to see that they had lots of fresh produce, and a really great selection of organic products. one of the ways that they’re able to offer such affordable prices is with their own ALDI-exclusive brands like SimplyNature®, which includes usda certified organic and non-gmo verified items, liveGfree® gluten-free products, and NeverAny! products that are free from added antibiotics, hormones and animal by-products.

i was able to cook this entire spread in about 15 minutes and the cost was probably 50% less than what i normally spend at the grocery store. what’s even better, is that i didn’t have to compromise on the quality of any of the ingredients and was able to cook a fresh, healthy meal.

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traditional tacos.

16 oz. SimplyNature® Organic 100% Grass Fed Ground Beef
1/2 cup diced Curry & Company Yellow Onion
Stonemill Essentials Salt and Cumin to taste
Pueblo Lindo Corn Tortillas
1/2 cup chopped Queen Victoria Cilantro
limes

start by cooking 1/4 cup of the onion in oil for 1 minute or until translucent. add the ground beef with salt and cumin to taste until it is cooked through. warm the tortillas, top them with beef, and garnish with cilantro and the remaining diced onion. serve with lime slices.

 

guacamole.

4 Mission Avocados
1 TopLine Farms Tomato, diced
1/2 a Curry & Company Red Onion, diced
1 Pueblo Lindo Jalapeno, diced
1/4 cup Queen Victoria Cilantro, diced
Stonemill Essentials Salt and Cumin to taste

mix together all of the diced ingredients, then scoop the avocado into the mix and mash to desired consistency. add salt and cilantro to taste. serve with SimplyNature® Seedy Rolled Tortilla Chips.

 

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white wine sangria.

Earth’s Harvest Chardonnay made with organic grapes
2 Paramount Citrus Oranges
4 limes
1 Rainier Fruit Company Apple
3 Ripe N Ready Nectarines
16 oz. club soda or Summit Ginger Ale

pour the wine into a large jar or pitcher, slice the fruit to bite size and squeeze the citrus juices into the wine before adding the sliced fruit to the mixture. before serving, pour in the club soda. if you prefer something a bit more sweet, add ginger ale instead.

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summer groceries

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this post was sponsored by ALDI as part of influencer activation for influence central.

it’s been quite a while since i’ve shared a recipe, or even written about food, but i certainly haven’t stopped cooking! in fact, in more recent months, i’ve been making a very concerted effort to cook most of my meals at home. it’s almost too easy to order takeout, especially with a rambunctious toddler and a newborn to take care of. but those two growing babies are exactly the reason it’s so important to cook healthful meals at home. and while it certainly is a time commitment, we’ve found a lot of value in getting adam involved in the kitchen while we prepare our food, and we all feel really good about what we’re eating. the only catch is that it’s surprisingly expensive to buy fresh, high quality and organic food. so when ALDI got in touch and asked us if we’d like to visit one of their 25 new southern california locations, i jumped at the opportunity.

i have to admit that i wasn’t entirely familiar with ALDI before they got in touch. they’re new to southern california, so this was my first visit to one of their 25 newly opened locations. i had a vague idea that they sold products at an affordable price, so i wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. but as i started to browse through the aisles, i was really surprised to see that they had lots of fresh produce, and a really great selection of organic products. it’s memorial day this weekend, so i focused on some of my summer favorites: ingredients for ground beef tacos, chicken tortas, lots of guacamole, and a big pitcher of white wine sangria filled to the brim with fresh fruit.

one of the ways that they’re able to offer such affordable prices is with their own ALDI-exclusive brands like SimplyNature, which includes usda certified organic and non-gmo verified items, liveGfree gluten-free products, and NeverAny! products that are free from added antibiotics, hormones and animal by-products. and since they forgo the typical flashy marketing of other grocery stores, the savings are passed on to customers. seems like a pretty smart business model to me!

so i thought i’d share a little peek at my ALDI haul. i went in with $100 and despite filling up my cart, i still didn’t manage to spend the whole thing. everything you see in the photographs totaled $60, that includes the extra produce that didn’t fit into the photos, a bottle of organic wine, organic meats and cheeses, tons of produce, and a few name brand items as well. so i guess this means i’ll be heading back for more soon!

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the little baker boy

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it’s christmas, and we’re all feeling comfy and cozy, enjoying this chilly southern california winter. the other day was particularly grey and rainy, so we stuck to indoor activities and decided to bake sugar cookies from scratch. fortunately for us, we just received the most adorable little kid’s apron set by odette williams, which turned out to be the perfect accessory for our activity of the day! like most toddlers, adam is obsessed with doing everything he sees his parents do, especially in the kitchen. brendan washes dishes most mornings before heading off to work, and adam often wakes up requesting to help his daddy! and you know he was ready to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty when i started mixing cookie dough. i set up a little work station for him to experiment with rolling out the dough and using a cookie cutter!

i’ve mentioned it here and there before, but i’m a certified pastry chef. before i became a blogger, i was actually a professional cake decorator. i still don’t know why i don’t show off my baking chops more often on the blog, but perhaps with adam’s help, we’ll share more of our culinary adventures in the new year. baking with a kid can be a test of patience, but it’s so rewarding to give them the opportunity to try something new and to truly feel like they’re contributing and collaborating with you. especially during such a special time of year.

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mexican albondigas soup

if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you may remember this post from last year. but i just couldn’t help but post it again since it’s officially that time of year. in the past couple of weeks, i’ve already made three giant pots of this favorite family recipe. so here it is again!

coming from a mexican family, i grew up eating mexican food, with all of the recipes being handed down from generation to generation on my mother’s side. and as soon as the weather gets chilly, we all start craving a pot of caldo (soup) to warm our bones. albondigas (meatball) soup is one of my ultimate comfort foods. in fact, after adam was born, i asked my mom make a giant pot for me, and it was literally the only thing i ate for at least a week after i got home from the hospital. i just didn’t have the stomach for anything else. she would serve me a warm bowl of soup with a rolled up tortilla, and i would be in heaven.

last week was grey and rainy, so it was the perfect time for us to practice our family recipe. my sister and i made a big pot of soup under my grandmother’s supervision so that we could share the recipe with you. mind you, this is a recipe that we’ve all committed to memory, we eyeball the measurements for all the ingredients, and each of us tweaks the recipe to our own personal taste. there really are no rules, especially when it comes to making soup! i’m offering you the base for how we make it in our family, but feel free to add or subtract whatever ingredients you prefer.

albondigas soup

for the meatballs

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 egg
1/4 cup brown rice
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped mint
garlic salt, pepper, and cumin to taste

for the soup

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup rice
1 tbsp crushed garlic
cumin to taste
3 cups vegetable stock
3 cups of water
1 small can of tomato sauce
2 cups cubed red or yellow potatoes
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
green beans or any other vegetable you prefer!

garnish (to taste)

cilantro
green onions, chopped
oregano

after prepping all of your veggies and meatballs, coat the bottom of a large pot with a thin layer of olive oil. saute onions until translucent, then add crushed garlic and saute for another minute before adding the cumin. finishe sauteing for another minute, then add the vegetable stock, water, and tomato sauce, and bring to a boil.

once the soup is boiling, carefully drop in the meatballs. let boil for about a minute before adding in the vegetables. reduce heat and allow the soup to simmer until all of the ingredients are tender, about 30 minutes.

serve with cilantro, green onions, and oregano to taste. then warm a tortilla and enjoy!






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halloween candy for grown-ups

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i’ll be the first to admit that i’m not actually a very big fan of halloween. i mean, demons and ghosts are cool and all, but i just don’t get into all of the goofy plastic decorations lining the shelves in every store, or worse, the flood of sexist and/or racist costumes that clog my social media feed every year. but i digress…

if there’s one thing i do like about halloween, it’s the candy. so i decided to round-up some grown-up versions of my favorite halloween confections… not to be confused with those big plastic bags of snickers we’ll be handing out to the neighborhood kids!

above: homemade twix by a sue chef

homemade almond butter cups and dark chocolate almond joy that i made last year!

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diy sour patch kids by autumn makes & does

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homemade tootsie rolls by sprinkle bakes

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homemade mallow cups by how sweet it is

 

 

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the blat: bacon lettuce avocado tomato

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yesterday i had a a sudden craving for a blt with avocado. and while i know it’s just an ordinary meal, i couldn’t resist the temptation to document my sammich in all it’s glory, haha. it’s simple, it’s easy, it really doesn’t need a recipe. it’s just what i like to eat for lunch some days, even though i know i should probably skip the bacon… and i usually do. but sometimes nothing satisfies a craving like the real thing.

if you’re curious, we used dave’s killer bread, which is a favorite around our house these days. and i used earth balance mindful mayo. and one little trick is to sprinkle a tiny dash of salt and pepper on both the tomato and the avocado to really help bring out the flavor. nope, not reinventing the wheel, just making lunch on a wednesday afternoon!

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slowing down

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i’ve been pulling out my camera a lot more these days to capture little snapshots of life as it is. i think it has to do with the fact that i’ve been trying to slow down a little bit more. i’m always busy, running around trying to complete a million tasks at once. i forget to stop and smell the flowers, as they say. but once i do, i suddenly find myself appreciating the little things, like the simple act of preparing a meal. i had just bought beets and figs when i came across this recipe by five and spice on pinterest, so i decided to give it a try. my rendition is pretty much the same, except i swapped out the grilled kale for fresh spinach. the original is obviously much prettier than mine, but it still felt really good to put it together, and i was still really proud of myself for trying something new.

and isn’t it funny how the moment we slow down a little, we actually end up being more productive? when i try to work too hard, i just end up spinning my wheels. and when i try to make everything perfect, i just end up hampering my own creativity and drive. so here’s so taking a few deep breaths before taking on the week ahead.

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the toddler-friendly version of most meals usually involves a little platter with all of the ingredients separated out so adam can pick and choose what he’s interested in tasting. it usually also includes something i know he will like. he’s been eating blackberries by the carton lately!

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