Monthly Archives: June 2013

{Travel} San Clemente, California (through the lens of the iPhone)

We recently got home from an epic beach vacation with some of our great friends, the Black family and also our friend Grace.  Zane and Rachel have a ten month old baby girl, Elle Jay (LJ), and so when we first started planning a trip together, we knew we wanted something close and easy. Also, Zane really wanted to be somewhere he could surf….which led us to look in the Orange Country area of California. After spending weeks pouring over housing options on vrbo.com, we settled on the San Clemente area, and found our house! We knew we wanted to rent a house together because 1) cheaper than getting separate hotel rooms, 2) wanted the full kitchen so that we could cook most of our meals 3) plenty of room for the kids to play and move around.

We found the perfect house:

I was so in LOVE with the kitchen. Huge gas range with cast iron griddle (which we used a ton). Stocked with cast iron and Le Creuset pans. Who puts Le Creuset in a vacation rental house?!? So amazing. The apron sink was huge and beautiful.
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I also was in love with the butcher block island, and the Sub Zero fridge and freezer (that is the freezer on the left – complete with two freezer drawers below the large door).
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Awesome modern/California cool furnishings throughout the house
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Art nook (which we used as surfboard storage), and epic nap spot in the master bedroom
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The backyard was lovely and perfect for soaking up some sun during the few but precious moments where all the kids were napping.
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We got there a day before the Blacks, and after stocking up at Costco and unloading at the house, we headed straight for the beach.
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The San Clemente Pier was about four blocks from our house, which was pretty amazing to just walk down the hill to all this:                             photo IMG_6535_zps067cf9c1.jpg  photo IMG_6536_zpsef1613f9.jpg We were starving and decided that the restaurant on the Pier was as good a place as any for dinner! It was great (fresh halibut!), but even better was the view, and sitting on the patio while the sun beat down on us. Ahhhhh sunshine….        photo IMG_6077_zps6fa29ce0.jpg  photo 6812eace-3fd0-44c2-a4ec-97f071ad0bb7_zpsc4f4eccd.jpg photo IMG_6538_zpsbe402f37.jpg  photo IMG_6078_zpsd177dc0e.jpg

Sunday morning we walked two blocks to the main street (Avenida Del Mar) to grab some breakfast at Cafe Mimosa, before heading to the airport to pick up the Blacks. A traditional French Bistro, this restaurant is what breakfast dreams are made of. Here’s a shot of the (gourmet) steel cut oats I ordered for the kids:
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Fun times with the Black family!
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We also got to spend some time with my dear friend Lisa, who LIVES in San Clemente. I made sure to let her know over and over how lucky she is to live there :). We met at Baby Beach one afternoon, which was, of course, a great little beach for kids. No waves because it’s within the Dana Point Harbor.
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Grace arrived Thursday night, to join us for our last three nights of the trip. We love having Auntie Gracie with us! (Hollis considers Grace one of her BFFs).
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My little boy…too precious
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Love these girls
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Friday morning we got to meet up with Lisa one last time, and she shared a gem of a place with us for brunch. The Ramos House – my standard for breakfast out has forever been raised. Everything about the place was enchanting – herbs growing out front for use in the kitchen. Every table was unique and charming. Mason jars for glasses.  And the food, the food.
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Our last night on the beach. The perfect end to a fun, relaxing, and simple vacation with great people. When can I go back?
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Up next: the rest of the trip in (real) pictures (non-iPhone).

{Recipe} Veggie Sausage Skillet

I discovered this “recipe” (method, really) last summer when I was trying to come up with creative ways to use up all the veggies in my weekly CSA box, before the next box arrived. Since then, I have consistently made it at least twice a month. In the last ten days I’ve made it three times :). It’s my go-to “what do I make for dinner???” meal, because it is quick, full of veggies and protein, and very flexible with the ingredients. Not to mention my husband and kids eat it up and ask for more.

The main idea = brown some pork sausage in a skillet, then remove it and saute the veggies. Add the sausage back on top when the veggies are cooked through. Done. But there are also ways to mix it up or fancy it up a bit. I think the reason it’s so tasty is because pork sausage has so much flavor, and pairs so well with a variety of veggies. Love the combo!

Veggie Sausage Skillet

1.5 pounds of organic, pasture raised, pork sausage (I’ve also used sliced chicken sausage links)
2-3 potatoes (I’ve done white potatoes, sweet potatoes, or a combo of both. Obviously using only sweet potatoes will make it Whole30 compliant!)
1/2 an onion (I’ve done yellow, red….whatever you have on hand will work)

Any combo of the following veggies:
(Seriously, you can’t mess this up! Just pick what you like or have)

zucchini
peppers
mushrooms
broccoli
cauliflower
green beans
asparagus
peas (fresh or frozen)
carrots
chard or kale
beets
parsnips

optional:
heavy cream
raw cheddar cheese

If you will be including the cheese and cream, go ahead and preheat your oven to 400.

Brown your sausage in a skillet. I prefer to use a cast iron skillet – 1) because they’re awesome. 2) because if you follow the *fancy* option at the end, your cast iron skillet can go straight into the oven. (Of course, this particular time, as you can see in the photo, I didn’t use my cast iron. It was in our trailer and I hadn’t unloaded it yet from camping).

Remove the sausage from the skillet, and begin sautéing up your veggies in the wonderful grease that was left behind. Add more ghee or butter or fat of choice if needed. I start with the hardier veggies first: potatoes and onions and carrots. I like to give them a head start since they take a bit longer to cook. I keep the burner on medium+ heat, and just give them a stir every few minutes. I don’t stir constantly for two reasons: 1) I like them to get a bit brown and crispy, 2) Don’t have time! This way you can wash dishes and clean up in between stirs.

After about 10 minutes I add in the next most hardy veggies: broccoli, peppers, cauliflower, etc. I save the greens and other delicate veggies for last. The point is that you’re trying to add veggies in order of which ones need the most/least cook time, so that hopefully at the end they are all equally done! No soggy ones.

Dairy Free Option:
If you are skipping the dairy, then simply add the sausage back to the skillet, give everything a stir, and you’re done! Spoon onto your plates and enjoy. The kiddos like to have a little ketchup for dipping.

Delicious Dairy option:
This is my preferred way to make the dish, but now that my husband has discovered he is lactose-intolerant, we don’t make it this way any more. *tear*. BUT, it like I said before, it’s still great without the cheese! (just a little richer with it 🙂

Once your sausage and veggies are cooked through, you are going to simply drizzle some heavy cream over the skillet, maybe a few tablespoons, or up to 1/4 cup. And then top it with some shredded cheese. Stick the skillet in your 400 degree oven for 10-15 min. You are just giving it time for the cheese to melt and the juices to bubble. I don’t know what it is, something about the starches from the potatoes, and the other juices within the skillet….but they combine with that little bit of cream and it all turns into a thicker “sauce” that bubbles up and creates some major deliciousness.

*Also to note: if you are doing the dairy option, you will want to leave your veggies slightly under cooked during the sauté stage…since they will be going into a 400 degree oven for 10+ min, they will continue to cook and soften there.

In this (terrible) iPhone photo, I just piled the sausage on one side so that you could see all the veggies underneath. Quick, cheap, easy, delicious, and in this case, Whole 30 approved!
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