RSS

Tag Archives: family

“Geeking it out” at Universal Studios Hollywood

“Geeking it out” at Universal Studios Hollywood
IMG_3753

The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter w the family

IMG_3756

My nieces Jamie and Keri and her mom Kathleen

If it looks like the Smyth’s, the VanWinckel’s and Louie families are practically the only people at Universal Studios, your probably right. When this family vacations at these parks, we don’t mess around. Up early and out the door before the doors open, so our group could be first in line to get in to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. A few of my nieces were over the top excited about The Forbidden Journey and also about getting their wand at Ollivanders. It’s quite the experience, seeing my nieces walk around getting objects to move if they pointed their wand in a certain direction if they stand in the correct spot. Just like magic. The marketing people here are genius getting parents to spend $49.00 on a wooden wand. It’s kind of a big deal though, and I’m not an expert on this experience since I am just now being exposed to Harry Potter. Neither of my son’s were into the books, so I plead innocence here. No judgement, cause we all have our geek out moments, after all.

 

I hadn’t been to this park in about 25 years, so a lot has changed. They still have a Studio Tour in which you get on a tram and drive around and see King Kong, Fast & Furious among others. Get on this tram when your toes are screaming “sit down!”

 

Of course there were Transformers, Shrek Characters, and Sponge Bob Square Pants out and about for the youngsters to appreciate. Good times for all.

 

We all had fun riding the Revenge of the Mummy ride, Transformers The Ride- 3D, and watching Waterworld the number 1 stunt show. We avoided the Jurassic Park Ride because it was too cold to risk getting soaked. My son Curtis’s favorite memory of the park was the Jaws ride. He must have been only 7 or 8 when we brought him on that ride. Poor kid was traumatized for years after seeing jaws fly out of the water. Looking back, we should have protected him from that terrifying experience.

IMG_3778

In any case, there was lots to do and plenty of places to eat like Cletus’ Chicken Shack, Krusty Burger, Trish’s Mini Donuts, Ben & Jerry’s Ice-cream and Popcornopolis which offers caramel, cheese and churro flavored popcorn. Delish!

 

Here’s my version and recipe for Cinnamon Rolls

Overall, the Universal Studio “geek out” vacation experience was a success. We put on several more miles on our sore tootsies, but every step was worth it. Especially since I’m able to laugh and make special memories with my loved ones. If you haven’t been, plan your next adventure in Southern California at Universal Studios. You’ll be glad you did.

IMG_3797

From the left my sister in law Terri Ann, My sister in law Kathleen,brother in law Rodney, and nieces Keri, Jamie, Laura, Michelle, Keri’s boyfriend Sam and me

 

Here’s a glimpse of our Disneyland trip the day before.

 

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

How we [ate and drank]our way through the Food and Wine Festival in Disneyland

How we [ate and drank]our way through the Food and Wine Festival in Disneyland

IMG_3628

Had a wonderful time vacationing with several family members two weeks ago in Disneyland and Universal Studios in Southern California. The Disney trip is an annual trip that my sister in law Kathleen organizes (there’s 4 nieces, two sister in law’s and my brother in law) and we were all lucky enough to eat, drink and play our way through the California Adventure Food and Wine Festival together. My boys and husband never want to go. I think they are crazy to miss out on all the fun.

Of course I took tons of pics of the food, the kiosks and what they offered and I was able to sneak a photo with Daniella Malfitano who was getting ready for a cooking demonstration. We tried just about everything from Fried Artichoke Carbonara to their Popcorn Lemonade Cocktail made with Agave Silver Tequila. The Mac and Cheese dish was a big hit and I thoroughly enjoyed the Roasted Asparagus Caesar with crunchy buttery croutons.

My niece Jamie was excited to see her College town Chico written up as where the first American Pale Ale was created in 1980. Both of my sisters and another niece Marie also graduated from Chico state so I’m a huge fan. I didn’t know that Sonoma California had the first microbrewery in 1977 made from old dairy tanks. And as of 2018, there are over 900 craft breweries operating in my home town state of California.That’s a lot of BEER. In case you want to see a previous post on the local brewery Calicraft Check out a previous blog.

 

Plenty of Mimosa Flights were enjoyed by my niece’s Laura and Michelle and they especially loved the Pineapple Juice and Chandon Brut Sparkling Wine.We indulged in the cheese from the Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company , Vella Cheese Company located in Sonoma, and the FisCALini Cheese Company located in Modesto because who doesn’t love cheese.  In fact, I hope to serve a cheese platter on Easter which is this weekend! Maybe I can pick up a few varieties and serve them with my Blenheim apricot jam, candied walnuts, dried fruit and some garlic and olive oil baked sourdough toast. 

This Festival presented by CA Grown had Beverage Seminars, family friendly demonstrations and programs with Jr Chef competitions daily. There’s truly something for everyone at the Disney California Food and Wine Festival.

We were so excited to learn about the upcoming Pixar Pier featuring an high speed Incredicoaster and a Paint the NIght Parade with characters Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack. I can’t wait. Coming to theaters in June is the latest Incredibles 2. I will definitely be making plans to see that movie.

Well these are just a few of the highlights from my trip. I promise to focus my next blog on our adventures at Universal Studios. I hope you enjoy the fun and entertaining food blog and that I’ve inspired you to bake and cook for your family and friends.

Also- In case you like to garden there is a huge Tomato plant sale coming up in April. Details below.

tomato plant sale

And here are the many varieties of tomatoes being offered. Get there early because this is a popular event that you won’t want to miss!

http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/files/279701.pdf

I get my vegetable plants there every year. And here is a previous blog on composting.  Maybe I will see you there!

 

Teri

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

What You Need to Know about dining and shopping in Walnut Creek (Italian Recipes too!)

What You Need to Know about dining and shopping in Walnut Creek (Italian Recipes too!)

IMG_3439

Was fortunate enough to spend the day with my dear friend Denise last week to celebrate her birthday. Denise and I met over 15 years ago in a meditation class at St Isidore’s. She is a woman of many talents, yet I love her for her intimacy with God and the Church. Denise is a go getter always involved with the latest philanthropy project. What I love about her is that she is somewhat of a spiritual advisor, helping me get through tough times. I have my faith, but it is nice to have a friend to lend an ear and offer guidance when I need it. I adore her and her husband Don and son Brian and thoroughly enjoy our lunches together.

Neiman Marcus Restaurant is where we decided to meet to celebrate her special day. It’s fun to walk around the store and oogle over their displays. It’s almost Easter so there are exhibits of Godiva’s chocolate eggs and stuffed bunnies everywhere which totally gets you in the mood to shop. The children’s section looks perfectly adorable showing little stuffed zebras and miniature pianos something for every child.

Denise and I arrived at about the same time and greeted each other before having a seat in the cafe’. She was smart to have the ($10 per car) valet park her car so she didn’t have to walk far. I like to get a walk in any chance I can and was able to find the only free 3 hour parking garage with a parking place available. Score!

Neiman’s offers a hot cup of consume when you are seated which was a nice touch. We also were treated to hot popovers with strawberry butter. They weren’t served hot and the butter wouldn’t melt, so our gracious waitress brought us new ones straight from the oven. I was hoping to order their crab salad, but was disappointed to learn they didn’t offer that dish anymore. Instead I had the sauteed salmon filet served w a ginger scallion brown rice w edamame, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, broccolini in a shoyu-chile vinaigrette. It was cooked perfectly, hearty, colorful and delicious. Denise went for their cabbage soup since she wasn’t very hungry and we were able to take a photo of it after they so consciously wiped the bowl for us. I had mentioned my friend was celebrating a birthday, so expected them to bring out something. Instead they proceeded to make us feel like we needed to order a dessert (which we did). Denise was excited to try their warm chocolate chip cookies. After all that, our waitress also brought out a complimentary banana cake with whipped cream. But we were charged $5.50 for the cookies! It was a little sneaky of them to go about a birthday dessert this way if you ask me, but we were dining at Neiman Marcus and they are known for their high prices. We each had a glass of wine because of the occasion and loved having a quiet lunch together. Over all, we had very nice service, the food and wine was good but a little pricey, the total meal was $70.91 not including tip. The important part about the day was that Denise enjoyed herself and I believe we achieved that. It truly is a one of a kind dining experience and I will go back for special occasions.

A little walk around Walnut Creek was what came next as we proceeded to The Red Box a local women’s and men’s clothing store. Denise has been working with Mojde Esfandiari the owner for their upcoming spring fashion show and luncheon. This event is raising money for the Danville Women’s Club to help kids who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford college get scholarships. It promises to be a wonderful event and I am planning on going. Modje’s clothes are one of a kind, unique collection of apparel, shoes and handbags many of them European. I wanted one of everything and will definitely go back to try on a few things. It’s nice to know that people like Modje with her clothing line and Denise with her time, are giving back to the community in these charming ways.

 

 

One more highlight of the week was entertaining our great nieces Terra 51/2 and Tamra 3 yrs old. Their mommy Tammy and husband Tim are due to have the baby any day, so my husband and I were happy to lend a helping hand for the afternoon. The girls loved being read to, enjoyed running around at the park and snacking on our picnic on a ideal day like last Sunday. Luckily, the weather was warm and we were able to walk to a nearby park. Of course our home is full of love when we get to care for our nieces and nephews kids. How fortunate Ken and I are to have large extended families living nearby.

 

I will leave you with a nice meal you can make for your own family. Our great aunt Nita and uncle Ted in Point Arena taught me how to prepare polenta many years ago and it has become a staple weeknight meal. They are unfortunately not with us anymore, but their recipe lives on.Here’s a blog from our time spent with them a few years back.

Italian Meatballs, Marinara and Cheesy Polenta

IMG_3509

 

Meatball ingredients:

 

1 ½ lbs 90/10% fat Ground Beef

6 large cremini mushrooms sliced

1 red or yellow bell pepper chopped

½ white onion chopped

3 cloves minced roasted garlic or fresh

½ C Marsala

1 t herb de Provence

½ t ground bay leaf

1 t Kosher salt

1 t ground pepper

1 t ground parsley

½ C parmesan cheese

¾ C dry toasted bread crumbs (I used toasted leftover biscuits)

½ C Milk

½ C Ketchup

½ C BBQ sauce (I used Korean)

1 egg whisked

Directions:

Saute’ onions, pepper, garlic until soft about 7 minutes. Add Marsala wine and reduce until evaporated. Cool.

In a large bowl, fold  raw ground beef, cooled veggies and remaining ingredients until mixed well. Scoop onto a sheet pan lined with foil. Bake in a preheated 400 degree convection oven uncovered for about 25 minutes until browned.

IMG_3507

Marinara Sauce

 

Ingredients:

 

1 large 28 oz Can Whole Tomatoes (Puree in blender)

1 14 oz can tomato sauce

3 T tomato paste

2 T Olive oil

1 small onion chopped

½ C chopped fresh basil/ or 1 t dried

3/4  C red wine

1 T sugar

3 garlic cloves sauteed in oil for 2 minutes

1 t salt

½ t pepper

¼ t crushed red pepper

 

Directions:

Saute onions, garlic in med size frying pan in oil. Place remaining ingredients including onions and garlic (except for wine) in a blender and puree until mixed. Pour contents into a  large pot and cook for 10 minutes. Add wine and reduce for another 10-15 minutes. You will be adding meat balls to this pot, so make sure there is plenty of room.

When meatballs are cooked, add them to marinara sauce and cook for another 15 minutes on the stove on medium heat.

IMG_3508

Prepare Polenta:

Ingredients:

4 C chicken or vegetable broth

1 C water

1 ½ C Cornmeal

½ C parmesan cheese shredded

½ C fontina cheese shredded

1 t kosher salt

½ t black pepper

2 T butter

1 T Olive Oil

¼ C heavy cream or milk

 

In a large pot heat chicken broth, water, salt and pepper over med high heat until it comes to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and slowly add cornmeal to the boiling liquid while stirring constantly. Cook for about 10 minutes then add cream, oil, butter and shredded cheeses.

 

To serve, scoop out a hefty portion of polenta into a large round pasta bowl. Ladle over a good portion of marinara sauce and 4 to 5 meatballs per serving depending on how hungry you are. Sprinkle with parsley or additional cheese.

IMG_3509

Enjoy! If you liked this recipe please leave a comment below and follow my blog for more interesting stories and family recipes. You’ll be glad you did. I hope I’ve inspired some of you to try these recipes and spoil the ones you love.  

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The Power of Family, Long Lasting Friendships and Cheesecake

The Power of Family, Long Lasting Friendships and Cheesecake

I am touched beyond belief at what my cousin’s best friend did for her wedding in Kona Hawaii this week. Sandy made 35 individually wrapped gorgeous cheesecakes to give out as thank you gifts for the guests attending the wedding. The thoughtfulness does not go unnoticed by someone like me who appreciates what goes into baking a decadent dessert like this. They also served Sandy’s prize worthy cheesecakes instead of a traditional wedding cake and they were divine!

She prepared three flavors: an orange ginger, a liliko’i (passion fruit) and coconut, and a rich dark chocolate Valrohna https://www.valrhona-chocolate.com/ variety as well. Sandy has perfected these recipes over several years and has wanted to start her own cheesecake business. And she should. These are incredibly rich, yet light and they each have their own special flavored graham cracker crust.

The wedding took place near bungalows right next to the ocean. You felt like you were on a movie star’s back yard lawn that had the perfect view of the ocean. One of my cousins walked down the black lava rock to get a closer look of the sea turtles who had found a cozy spot in the reef below us. During the ceremony you could see two turtles floating around like they were listening to us up above. It was the most romantic and beautiful evening that I have ever experienced.

The yard was adorned with hanging lights which kept us aware of our surroundings as well as the gorgeous table decorations that included white lily’s and jade flowers and candles. The open bar was serving beer, wine, Mai Tai’s and mouth watering margarita’s.

The food was a surf and turf: Pan seared kampachi a local fish,  Maui onion mashed potatoes, mac nut crusted local catch, a braised beef tenderloin and chimichurri and ginger miso sauce. The food was delicious and exciting.

Yet, I am still in disbelief at the care and compassion that went into these cheesecakes. It was the perfect wedding dessert. Linda and Sandy have known each other for 34 years, meeting when they were 24 years old. This long time friendship is easy to relate to as I have friends that I have known for the same amount of time. The most adorable thing to observe from a distance.

My husband was unable to be here with me this trip because of his work schedule and I am grateful that he convinced me to come without him. The wedding was extra special also because the brides father, my uncle Joe was here with us as we almost lost him a year and a half ago when he had a hernia surgery. Also, my mother was able to be here in the fragile condition that she is in surviving a multiple myeloma diagnosis 3 years ago.

My heart is full of gratitude for my family and the love we share, long lasting friendships and the ever so thoughtful gift of cheesecakes.

Aloha and Mahalo

 

Check out this previous post that includes a blueberry cheesecake bar recipe

http://letsmakemudpies.blogspot.com/2014/08/need-vacation-avoid-als-icebucket.html?m=1

 

Also please leave comments below about your favorite wedding experience and if you have been to Kona Hawaii. Would love to hear from you!

 

Teri:)

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Celebrating my Mom and a Risotto Recipe to die for

Celebrating my Mom and a Risotto Recipe to die for

We are getting close to Valentines day, and  I can’t help but share a story about helping my mom find love. Yes. I had tried for years to set her up with patients at my dental office with no luck. I thought about matching her up with a guy from my meditation group, but that didn’t pan out either. For many years my mom was single. My dad and her divorced when I was 14 and neither of them remarried. That is until a few years ago when my mom found love.

This is a pic of my Mom, Tom, Virginia and Keith my mom’s long time friends
Tom was my neighbor. He and I went for walks with our dogs. He would casually stop by with his wife when taking her out for short walks. Tom’s wife suffered from cancer and he would talk to me about food, and how he was caring for Penny. “12 almonds a day” he would tell me. I thought he was a special man since he cared so deeply for his wife.

After she passed away, I would stop by to see how he was doing sometimes offering some oranges from my garden or delivering a book on grieving. Tom was always on the go, choosing vacations to go on back East and entertaining friends and family. It wasn’t until Tom walked by one day while I was gardening that I got the idea to introduce him to my mom. He complained that he missed talking to someone and bouncing ideas off of them like he had with his wife for over 49 years. I gently suggested when he was ready, I would like to introduce him to my mom who was also lonely. She and Tom both loved the same hobbies like gardening and cooking. I thought they would make a great couple.


A few weeks later, it happened. I invited my mom and Tom over for some tea and cookies. They met at the driveway and instantly made a connection. They arrived at my door together and have been together ever since. They married about 2 years later and have been through a lot together since my mom was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma a rare blood disease, but treatable a few weeks after their honeymoon.

My Mom, Tom, sister in law Alyson and the cutest niece ever Josie
Tom is a wonderful man and my family is so grateful for the love he as given to all of us and especially my mother. She has never been happier. Not only do I have a new dad, but my kids have a new grandfather who they look up to for love and guidance. Tom’s family has been a God sent too giving my mom 6 more grand kids to love and care for.

A pic of my mom and dad in their earlier days of marital bliss 1967

above that a pic of Mom and Tom, Andrew and his friend Mary after a St Mary’s Choir concert

This is what Valentines Day is all about. I love bringing happiness to others through networking and my food.  I am also the luckiest girl around since I’ve been married to Ken the love of my life for 28 years. Happy Valentines Day Mom and Dad. May your lives be richer because of the love you share.


A friend asked me to share my risotto recipe. Hope you try this and make it for your own valentine this Tuesday.

 

Mushroom Fennel and Leek Risotto

Ingredients:

2 T Extra Virgin Olive oil

2 T Unsalted Butter

2 C Arborio Rice

6 C Veggie or Chicken broth

1 C White Wine(Chardonnay or your fav) Can use champagne also.

1 C Cremini Mushrooms chopped finely

½ C Fennel chopped finely

½ C Leeks chopped finely

2 cloves chopped garlic

¾ C freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

2 T Heavy Cream
Instructions:

Put Oil and Butter into heavy bottom soup pot. I use Le Creuset pan. Place chicken broth or veggie broth on med high heat in an alternate pot. (I make my own from using chicken bones from baked chicken, garlic, onion, celery, carrots, water, ginger, fennel and boil for 1-2 hours. Cool in fridge overnight)

Place Mushrooms, leeks, and fennel into hot oil on med to med high heat until softened.

Add garlic and rice and stir to moisten rice. Cook for 3 minutes. Add white wine, cook and stir until it evaporates. Add chicken broth ½ C at a time and stir rice. Continue to add broth until rice is cooked about 15-20 min. When the rice is no longer toothsome or chewy and is plump and moist add cream and Parmesan cheese. Top with a splash of truffle oil and chopped herbs like parsley from the garden. Serve immediately. Serves 4

IMG_0701

Here’s a variation of this recipe using roasted pumpkin from my organic vegetable garden and carmelized brussel sprouts in bacon fat. Made this recipe this week and enjoyed this gorgeous and ripe cinderella pumpkin that I trained to grow on a trellis.

IMG_0636

Enjoy!

 Teaching Preschool and Making Pumpkin Cake 

Also feel free to post comments for ask questions below. Follow me and share on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on February 7, 2017 in Foodie, Mothers, Risotto, Uncategorized, Valentines Day

 

Tags: , , , ,

This Might Be a Little Goofy

Displaying photo.JPG

 

Disneyland 2015

I had an incredible weekend in Disneyland with my sister in law, her husband, their two daughters and 2 more nieces and a nephew. Traveling along side this family while in Disneyland is fairly familiar to me because I went with them last year as well. The clan keeps growing every year because it’s a ton of fun.

 

Displaying photo 1.JPG

Here is a pic of my sister in law Kathleen and me with The Aladdin Princess Jasmine.

I had an incredible weekend in Disneyland with my sister in law, her husband, their two daughters and 2 more nieces and a nephew. Traveling along side this family while in Disneyland is fairly familiar to me because I went with them last year as well. The clan keeps growing every year because it’s a ton of fun.


These people are Disney experts when it comes to making the most of your time and getting to go on the best rides without waiting in line for hours. It’s remarkable tagging along and observing their strategies in getting to the park early at 6:30AM so we are the first people In the park when the gates open.

Displaying photo 2.JPG

Here’s my niece Keri and her boyfriend Sam mugging it with Snow White.
The fun starts when I try to keep up with my 16 year old niece Jamie, who insists on being in the first car on the cars ride and who runs as fast as she can trying to avoid the “no running!” And “walk!” comments all along the way. I’ve never laughed so hard keeping up with her skinny and fit legs. I pride myself on being in fairly good shape and love a good competition, but this run always leaves me sore and out of breath. Seeing her smile when she sits down in that first car is something I don’t ever want to miss. Of course, we all have to go along with her silly facial expressions during the photo shoot so we all look alike. It’s crazy, exciting and fun and nothing like my everyday life back at home.

Displaying photo 1.JPG

Here are my nieces Jamie, Laura and Michelle pausing for a quick pic
The food was expensive and nothing to rave about, but we did have a few good meals that sustained our energy levels to keep up with the rigorous challenges of 3 days at the park. I couldn’t wait to come home and prepare a nice home cooked meal. One of my favorite side dishes is my twice baked potato recipe. These warm from the oven cheesy treats are perfect served along side a baked ham or prime rib roast and would be the perfect recipe for a weekend dinner party.
This recipe is a family favorite that will feed a crowd. I hope it becomes your go to meal when entertaining your loved ones too, especially when you are back from a long and fun family vacation.

Displaying photo 3.JPG

 

Twice Baked Cheesy Potatoes

Ingredients

10 Russet Potatoes

¼ C. Softened Butter

¾ C. Sour Cream

2 ½ oz Garlic flavored Boursin Cheese

4 oz softened cream cheese

¼ C. Milk

¾ lb. shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

2 Tbs Fresh Chopped Parsley

 

Directions

10 Russet Potatoes (coat w olive oil) bake 400degree oven for 1 hr, cut in half

Scoop out inside of potatoes and put into large bowl

Displaying photo.JPG

Add remaining ingredients and mix w electric hand mixer until combined.

Place potato skins onto a foil covered sheet pan. Use large spoon or ice cream scoop and fill each skin generously with cheesy mixture.

Sprinkle w parsley. Bake again in 400 degree oven for @ 30 minutes.

Displaying photo 1.JPG

And in case you don’t believe me, here is a quick YouTube video of our weekend.

Displaying photo.JPG

Feel free to comment, ask questions, follow me or all of the above.

Teri:)

 

 

 

 

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: ,

 
%d bloggers like this: