Palm Springs

My husband and I try to make it out to Palm Springs once a year and have a weekend of R&R. I wouldn’t go in the dead of summer, but weather starts to cool off this time of the year to high 80s during the day and high 60s at night. Perfect weather by any standards!

I love the street lined with palm trees, pressed against the high desert mountains. It’s gorgeous and the people are incredibly easy-going and relaxed. There’s definitely a slower pace to this city. Nothing beats long afternoons laying by the pool, sipping on a cold beer under a cloudless, blue sky. Ahhh, unwinding feels so good…

We like to try new places every time we go. This time, we went to Koffi for lunch and Trilussa for dinner on our getaway. Both places were delicious and I highly recommend you try them if you make it out there.

I’m in the full swing of the nursing program so I really appreciate any and all efforts to take a breath and have a moment.

Chipotle marinade

You know I love Chrissy Teigen, especially her recipes. This one in particular is my favorite since it’s a marinade that can go practically with any protein – chicken, shrimp, fish, pork chops! I tried it for the first time a few weeks ago and have been hooked ever since. So incredible easy to make. Chances are you have all these ingredients in your fridge and pantry already too. Bust out the food processor and try it for dinner this week – you’ll be so happy you did!

Chipotle marinade

Ingredients

  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo
  • 3 tablespoons tequila or vodka
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce, from chipotle can
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions

  1. Throw everything in a food processor (or blender) and puree

You can measure the ingredients out or don’t. The great thing about this recipe is that measurements doesn’t matter. I didn’t bother with my measuring cups at all, especially when it came to the tequila.

I pour this marinade over chicken thighs and drumsticks in a baking dish. Threw the whole thing in the oven at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve with rice, steam vegetables, salad, mango salsa, etc. The options are endless.

Next up, I’m going to make chipotle shrimp tacos with this. Can’t wait!

Overnight oats

On Pinterest someone somewhere is pinning an overnight oats recipe. I’ve put it off for awhile now, writing it off under “yuck!”. I know, I know – don’t knock it before you try it – but I’ve never liked oatmeal. The consistency is mushy and reminded me too much of a bad childhood breakfast. That’s because of course I’ve always had the instant flavored oatmeal kind prior to this.

One day about a month ago, one of my coworkers brought this in for her mid-day snack. She was chatting at my cube and whatever she was eating smelled amazing! She told me it’s overnight oats, super easy to make, and totally customizable to your palate. I was sold!

I don’t have a different photo for every recipe I’m posting here. After awhile to eating this, it all looks the same really. But keep in mind, I like to make things simple, and some of the recipes out there, while awesome as they are, have too many ingredients for my liking. This is breakfast, not rocket science.

I use the Ball 8 oz canning jars wide mouth as my airtight containers. They’re perfectly sized for breakfast in our family and easy to clean. These recipes are 1:1 ratio of rolled oats to liquid. Also, I add a teaspoon of chai seeds to all my recipe as well. I make mine at night time, usually after dinner. Stick in in the fridge and by morning, it’s ready to go!

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Chocolate overnight oats

  • 1 part chocolate soy milk
  • 1 part rolled oats
  • 1 tsp chai seeds

Peanut butter overnight oats

  • 1 part skim milk
  • 1 part rolled oats
  • 1 tb peanut butter
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp chai seeds

Strawberry overnight oats

  • 1 part skim milk
  • 1 part rolled oats
  • 2 tsp of strawberry jam
  • 1 tsp chai seeds

Brown sugar cinnamon overnight oats

  • 1 part skim milk
  • 1 part rolled oats
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp chai seeds

Julie and Julia’s Bruschetta

Meryl Streep is the best actress! I seriously love every single movie she’s done. Even if the rest of the movie isn’t all that great, her acting makes the ~2 hours go by so fast! She’s mesmerizing.

Julie and Julia was one of those movies I was sure to like. It had Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, blogging, and food – a hard to beat combo. In the beginning of the movie, there’s this scene when Julie is making dinner and discussing with her husband to start a blog. If you have seen the movie, then you won’t forget this scene: she’s making bruschetta! Their first bite into it at the dinner table…drool.

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Here is the scene, for those of you that would like to be hungry this very moment:

Tomato Bruschetta

recipe provided by Susan Spungen

Ingredients
  • Tomatoes
  • Rustic bread
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Basil
  • Garlic
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Cut tomatoes into chunks and julienne lots of basil leaves. In a bowl, toss tomatoes and basil with a good quality olive oil. Marinate for 1 hour at room temperature.
  2. Cut bread into slices about 3/4 inch thick
  3. Pan fry the bread in olive oil to get it toasted on the outside while retaining some softness in the center. After pan frying, rub the bread with whole garlic clove.
  4. Season tomato mixture with salt and pepper to taste before serving.
  5. Top bread with tomato mixture.

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Zion National Park

About once a year, my husband and I take an outdoor excursion trip with another couple to get out of the city. Living in SoCal is wonderful, but it can feel like I’m living in a bubble sometimes. It’s nice to get out to mother nature and see a small part of what she has to offer from time to time. We’ve planned our Zion trip for the past few months and this past weekend, it finally came!

Roughly 6.5 hours drive from where we live, Zion is majestic in every sense of the word. There are countless trails and hikes, but none more famous than Angel’s Landing and The Narrows. On the first day, we took on Angel’s Landing. With a climb of 1500ft in elevation, this hike was strenuous and challenging. It defined vertigo for me! On the second day, we woke up early and went on The Narrows river hike. Taking 6 hours, this hike had us in cold water almost the entire time. The riverbed was lined with sand and large rocks along with the river current made this a challenging hike as well. I’m just happy that I didn’t fall on the rocks!

The days spent here were truly magical. Zion, stay beautiful!

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Pickling

I’m a big fan of pickles. We have a Costco-size jar of whole pickles in our fridge at all times. But my love for salt and sour doesn’t just stop at pickled cucumbers, I love everything pickled. Other than the fact that it’s darn good, it’s quintessential in Vietnamese food and cooking so I grew up with it in my cuisine. There is a unique balance of flavors and textures in Vietnamese food and that’s why I love it so much. In a common bowl of pho, you have the noodle soup with raw onions, the aromatic scent of basil, crispy bean sprouts, and a squeeze of lime for tartness. And it doesn’t stop there, I can take this concept of utilizing the different flavors and textures to nearly every dish.

Pickling plays an important part to make Vietnamese food what it is. The saltiness is balanced perfectly with the sour and sweetness of the pickles, and the soft meats are made better with the crunch of the pickled vegetables. I found a recipe on White on Rice Couple‘s blog and it’s super simple and the outcome is 100% foolproof! On their blog, they use sliced carrots and daikon but I had a huge bag of jalapenos on my hand so I used that instead. That’s to say, this recipe can extend to anything you want to pickle, from cucumbers to okra.

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Pickled Jalapenos and Garlic

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of jalapenos
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 4 cups water, slightly warm enough to dissolve the salt and sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 6 tablespoons distilled or rice vinegar

Directions:

  1. In large pitcher or large bowl, mix water, vinegar, sugar and salt till everything is dissolved and combined well.
  2. Place sliced jalapenos and garlic in a clean, sterile jar and fill vinegar till jar is full.
  3. Cover jars and set in the refrigerator to pickle for about 3 days. Pickles can last for about 3 weeks in the fridge.