New Faves

Sunday night again, womp womp. Except that this is vacation week for us! I’m excited… and overwhelmed with the prospect of packing. This year we’re going to Charlevoix, MI, and I’m pretty thrilled with the idea of highs in the 70′s and lows in the 50′s. Amazing. If anyone has any suggestions for things to do while we’re there, please let me know!!

This weekend was fun. On Friday I took the kids to see Shrek at Studio Movie Grill ($1 movies!), then we made popsicles (random World Market popsicle mold purchase) and met friends for dinner.

On Saturday we took the kids to see Finding Dory. Super cute and they both seemed to like it. Today was pretty low key- we ran errands, then Isla had a birthday party and Jack and I headed over to my parents’ so he could swim.

We found two new (to us) good restaurants this weekend! On Saturday we needed to grab a quick lunch before the movie, and I’d been curious to try this Japanese restaurant on Greenville. My only hesitation was the really stupid name: Fast Furious. Complete with car decals and a racing-themed menu. Really??

I’m glad the cheesy theme didn’t scare us off completely, because their food was really good. I had the Hawaiian bowl, which is basically like a deconstructed sushi roll or poke bowl: lettuce, sushi rice, mango, raw salmon, avocado, bell pepper, cucumbers, spicy mayo and eel sauce.

SO GOOD. Next time I might ask them to leave out the bell peppers, but other than that it was pretty fab and the salmon tasted really fresh.

Brian and I also each tried a jalapeno popper. They are HUGE and stuffed with crab meat (and only $1 each!):

The kids loved it too. Jack got the kids meal- noodles with hibachi chicken and veggies. Isla ate an entire order of edamame and some rice. They both asked if we could go back soon, and Isla asked if we could have lunch there again today. So that’s a win. (I just typed wine instead of win… guess what I’m craving?)

Second fun new restaurant: Spin Pizza on SMU Blvd. This was recommended on our neighborhood PTA facebook page as a great kid-friendly happy hour option. We ended up grabbing dinner there on Saturday night, and I LOVED it. It’s so reasonable, and I’m a big fan of the fact that Brian and I could each get our own pizzas without having to compromise on toppings. I got the pizza-salad combo with the Sonoma salad (red leaf and spinach with grapes, raisins, apples, goat cheese, chopped glazed pecans, blood orange vinaigrette) and the olive & artichoke pizza with caramelized onions and roasted capers.

You know me and my briny foods. Can’t get enough… and Brian won’t touch olives with a ten foot pole. AND my pizza/salad/soft drink combo was only $10!

I also tried one of their summer sangrias: watermelon-mint.

The kids each had cheese pizzas, and all of the kids meals come with a token for a scoop of gelato.

We weren’t there for happy hour, but I did check out the happy hour menu and we will DEFINITELY be back:

Love finding new restaurants! We get in such a rut (Mariano’s, Taco Joint, Great Outdoors, Modmarket, Thai…) that I probably get overly excited when we find something new that everyone actually likes.

Posted in June 2016 | 1 Comment

Summer Soup

Well it’s officially summer in TX! Blazing hot to the point where I really debate errands that don’t involve a parking garage, and we have to wait 10 minutes for the car to cool off before I can buckle the kids when we leave the pool (though I did buy one of those not-at-all-nerdy sun shades for my windshield). Once the heat sets in, I always start to crave summery foods- watermelon, seafood, rosé (actually that’s all the time) and fresh tomatoes. Yesterday I got it in my head that I NEEDED to make gazpacho. It’s so perfect to keep in the fridge for quick lunches- you don’t need to heat it up AND it tastes better the longer it sits. Though my batch is half gone already, so I guess that part doesn’t matter.

I’ve made gazpacho many, many times, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember which recipe I’d used… so I googled around and found this Ina Garten recipe. Because you can’t go wrong with Barefoot Contessa, amiright?

Ingredients (not shown- tomato juice, olive oil, vinegar and S&P):

It’s as easy as you would expect from a soup made from raw veggies. You just chop each vegetable separately in the food processor, then transfer to a big bowl. I like my soup pretty smooth, but you could always leave the veggies a little chunkier. Stir together with tomato juice, olive oil and vinegar, then season to taste. And you’re done.

Just fair warning: Be ready to either brush your teeth ASAP or have no friends. The combo of raw red onion + raw garlic is potent.

Off to fold laundry and watch Orange Is The New Black. Can you believe I haven’t even started this season yet?? Obviously need to get my priorities straight.

Posted in June 2016 | 1 Comment

Dill Pickle Dressing

If you’ve known me longer than 5 minutes, you know that I LOVE PICKLES. They’re probably my favorite food. It’s a family thing- my mom loves them, my brother loves them, and now both of my kids do too. Brian could take or leave them and thinks my obsession with vinegar is weird. Whatever, more for me (until Jack and Isla steal them).

Anyway, the other day I stumbled across this recipe for dill pickle salad dressing and I knew I had to make it ASAP.

It’s so easy. You just combine 1 1/2 cups of pickle juice and an avocado in the food processor. I used the juice from these pickles (found at Central Market):

Also, don’t try to do this in the mini prep. TRUST ME. My counters were bathed in pickle juice. Use the big food processor.

So once the juice and avocado are completely combined and smooth, use the little hole at the bottom of the food processor plunger to slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup of olive oil. The dressing emulsifies and you get this creamy amazingness:

It makes a LOT:

We had it tonight on salads and even Brian agreed that it was good. The avocado and the olive oil really cut the acidity.

So there’s my most recent exciting discovery. Give it a try if you’re a pickle loving weirdo like me.

Posted in June 2016 | 2 Comments

Weekend Recap

Ugh, y’all. It’s definitely Monday. I had a doctor’s appt this morning (always fun… nope), so I dropped the kids off at my mom’s, headed to the doctor and was sitting in the waiting room reading my book and enjoying a few rare minutes of quiet, when I felt something in my mouth. OH HEY, THAT’S A TOOTH. My tooth literally fell out of my head in the waiting room. It was a crown that was drilled for a root canal last summer, and I’d been putting off going to the dentist to get it permanently filled (the endodontist used a temporary filling). So then it fell out. Awesome. And I looked like a complete hillbilly at the doctor.

Back to more pleasant topics, this weekend was fun!! On Friday we headed to Oak Highlands Brewery for Family Night. We’ve been to a few of these in the past and the kids LOVE them. They get their faces painted, play air hockey, watch movies and eat pizza (food trucks!) with their friends while we get to hang out with the parents. It’s a win-win, really. Love having that in our neighborhood!

Saturday was our anniversary, so my parents watched the kids while we went out to dinner to celebrate. We headed to The Grape, our favorite, and it was fabulous as always. We split the jalapeno grits-stuffed agnolotti with peach relish for an app (amazing), then I had the gulf shrimp “tom kha gai.” I can’t resist anything Thai-inspired.

And blueberry-lime tart for dessert.

After dinner we met up with friends and ended up at our neighborhood dive bar, which just happens to have some pretty amazing karaoke on the weekends. You couldn’t PAY me to sing in front of people, but Brian just hopped right up there and serenaded us with some Merle Haggard (Mama Tried!).

We had a pretty low-key Father’s Day. Slept in since my parents still had the kids (thanks Mom & Dad!!), had an early dinner at Babe’s, then capped off the evening with a family movie night on the couch. Just a great day celebrating our favorite dads!

Ok I’m off to make a dentist appointment… because this is not a good look.

Posted in June 2016, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Shrimp & Avocado Tostadas

Dinner tonight was basically a thrown-together afterthought… but sometimes those end up being the best, right?? The kids had their last swim lessons this afternoon and were a hot mess by dinnertime. THEY got turkey corn dogs for dinner, but I spent 10 minutes putting together these shrimp & avocado tostadas for me (Brian ate the shrimp but skipped the tostadas).

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 lb shrimp (I used Trader Joe’s frozen cooked shrimp and just thawed them under running water)
  • 1 large or 2 small avocados, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced small
  • large handful of chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • juice of 2 limes
  • garlic powder, salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Chop shrimp into bite-sized pieces.

2. In a large bowl, stir together shrimp, avocado, red onion and cilantro.

3. In a jar (or whisk together in a bowl), shake up the olive oil, vinegar, lime juice and spices. Taste and adjust as needed.

4. Pour the dressing over the shrimp mixture and toss to coat.

I refrigerated the salad for about an hour and then served over corn tostadas.

SO GOOD. Perfect summer meal!

Woohoo tomorrow’s Friday! And Saturday is our anniversary (11 years!!!!) and Sunday is Father’s Day! So looks like it’ll be another busy one. Have a great weekend!

Posted in June 2016 | Leave a comment

Dream Cafe

It’s finally starting to feel like summer around here! And by that, I mean when we left the pool today I had to start the car and let it run for 10 minutes with the AC on full blast before the kids could even think about sitting in their carseats. Yea summer.

We had a pretty lazy morning followed by a really crazy afternoon. Took the kids to swim lessons, then we headed straight to the pool for lunch/more swimming. I love how each year the pool gets easier to manage. I basically explained to the kids at the beginning of the summer that the only way I would be able to take them to the pool on my own was if they stuck together and didn’t argue with me- as in, we’re either all doing the slides, all in the big pool, etc. And they’ve been GREAT. It’s a huge relief, because it’s really too hot to do anything else- and if I have to watch another episode of Pokemon or some other weird Netflix show (how do they find these??), I’m going to lose it.

Anyway, post pool I had to run a few work errands, then we grabbed groceries at Trader Joe’s and headed home. By that time it was almost 6, so we ended up meeting Brian for dinner at the new Dream Cafe in Lakewood.

Speaking of dream(y)…

Is that not the sweetest face?? I’m basically covered head to toe in freckles and always hated them growing up, but now that Jack has that cute little sprinkle on his nose, I have a new appreciation. Isla’s getting them too. Love love.

So Dream Cafe was good, though I thought the menu seemed really small. They had more options online, but maybe they’re just slowly rolling stuff out since it’s a new location?? My noodle stir-fry was really good. I LOVED the tofu- it soaked up that spicy coconut sauce like a sponge. The julienned veggies were a nice touch, too.

Jack seemed to like his burger. Isla barely touched her pizza (shocking) but Brian tried it and said it was really good.

(Ha, can you tell they played hard today??)

Catch y’all tomorrow!

Posted in June 2016 | Leave a comment

Quick Mocha Smoothie

I’m about to go watch the Real Housewives of Dallas finale (no judging) but thought I would pop in real quick with a snack recipe. This afternoon I was in desperate need of coffee but it was so hot & humid here that regular hot coffee sounded gross. SO. Instead I whipped up a quick smoothie/fake Frappuccino creation that was not too shabby and a much needed midday pick me up.

Ingredients:

  • Vega chocolate protein powder
  • Cold brew coffee (I used Trader Joe’s, but Chameleon mocha cold brew is my fave)
  • Almond milk (I love Califia Toasted Coconut Almond Milk)
  • Not pictured: frozen banana

I kind of guessed at the ratios, but it ended up being 1 scoop of protein powder, 1/3 cup of cold brew (it’s actually a concentrate, so if it had been straight up coffee I would have used a full cup), 2/3 cup of almond milk, 1/2 a frozen banana, and a handful of ice cubes. Threw that all in the blender and voila.

Pretty good! And definitely better than the sleeve of Ritz crackers I’d been eyeing (Isla’s latest snack of choice).

Off to catch up on my trash TV!

Posted in June 2016 | Leave a comment

Isla Is Four!

Well our Isla Grace turned FOUR on Saturday!! I can’t even believe it. I remember four being such a fun age with Jack, and I can already see Isla maturing into this awesome little lady. The tantrums are few and far between these days, and she’s HILARIOUS. She is so girly and loves anything involving makeup, jewelry, clothes or dolls… but she also throws a mean punch, always sports at least 5 scabs and bruises on her legs, and loves to spout off Pokemon trivia with Jack. She’s still SO stubborn and headstrong, but she manages to do it in such a funny way that it’s hard to get mad. Like she tells us that she’s allergic to foods that she doesn’t want to eat, or she’ll insist that we’re wrong and the alphabet DOES, in fact, contain the number seven. Her teacher told me that if they asked her to do something at school that she didn’t want to do, she would tell them very matter of factly, “I only listen to my mommy.” (FALSE!) (We’re working on that, too.) She is so affectionate and tells us how much she loves us all the time. Jack is still her very favorite person in the world, and she’s SO excited that they’ll be at the same school next year.

Squish had her birthday party this weekend at a local gymnastics place, and it’s safe to say she had a blast. Girlfriend loves to party. I took a million pics, so prepare yourself for photo overload.

We’re so proud of our sweet girl and can’t wait to see what this year brings for her!

Posted in June 2016 | Leave a comment

Almost 4

Isla’s birthday is on Saturday (FOUR!! What?!), but we celebrated her bday at my parents’ house tonight since this weekend will be crazy. The kids and I got there a little early so they could jump in the pool and practice their moves from swim lessons. Jack was doing laps all over the pool, but Isla just wanted to chill in the hot tub.

Earlier this week, my mom asked Isla what she wanted for her birthday dinner: Pizza! And Chick Fil A!

What baby wants, baby gets (not pictured: pizza).

(Also not pictured: about 400 more sauce packets.)

My mom also ordered this Barbie cake, which made Isla lose her mind. I thought she was going to literally rip the head off of poor Barbie trying to get the doll out of the cake.

She had a couple of cute candle helpers:

So fun and both kids passed out cold on the way home… which I call a big win.

Have a great weekend!

Posted in June 2016 | 2 Comments

Swim Lessons

We had quite the busy day today. Our 2nd day of swim lessons, which were a tad traumatic. Isla had a little meltdown in the pool, which I totally get because she’s THREE and there were a lot of instructions coming at her at once: “Keep your head down! Keep your arms in a triangle! Kick your feet!” It’s a lot to process and she just got really frustrated. I really wanted to just run over and scoop her out of the pool, but I stayed out of it and by the end of class she was doing a lot better. It’s funny how you start to see yourself in your kids. Isla RARELY cries when she’s sad or mad or even hurt (girlfriend is TOUGH), but when she gets overwhelmed or frustrated that’s when she loses it… and she definitely gets that from me (not the tough thing… she is wayyy more tough than I’ll ever be).

Cutest little swimmers ever.

This afternoon I had the genius idea of taking the kids to our neighborhood library for a story time with Mark Cuban (I know, random). Apparently everyone else had that same idea because it was crazytown. SO MANY PEOPLE. The guy in front of me was there by himself (no kids??) and recorded the entire thing on his cell phone. So I couldn’t see, the kids couldn’t see, and after the first story we bailed and just checked out some books instead.

OH HEY MARK. See my friend there in front of me with his iphone?

To make up for that disaster, we headed to Braum’s for ice cream. Because ice cream solves everything.

For dinner tonight I cooked some bacon-wrapped filets that I picked up at Target last week. I followed these Pioneer Woman instructions for cooking- basically seasoned liberally, browned them in a cast iron skillet with butter and olive oil, then put the whole skillet in the oven for about 7 minutes.

Served with baked potatoes and salad. Baked potatoes are so boring but I love them. Coat them in olive oil, rub kosher salt all over, then bake at 350 for about an hour. It gives them this amazing crust.

Night!

Posted in June 2016 | Leave a comment