Author Archives: bakerLove

{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, 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.
 photo photo26_zps6e3f400b.jpg  photo IMG_6533_zps33301fb0.jpg
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).
 photo IMG_6563_zps9f2399eb.jpg  photo IMG_6562_zpscb7a77b0.jpg
Awesome modern/California cool furnishings throughout the house
 photo IMG_6564_zpsc66fe431.jpg
Art nook (which we used as surfboard storage), and epic nap spot in the master bedroom
 photo IMG_6565_zps8585cf7b.jpg  photo IMG_6117_zpsfaa08d46.jpg photo IMG_6388_zps63119fa8.jpg
The backyard was lovely and perfect for soaking up some sun during the few but precious moments where all the kids were napping.
 photo IMG_6208_zpsb4f7c4bf.jpg  photo IMG_6206_zpsc7ed3b4c.jpg photo IMG_6552_zps66442105.jpg  photo IMG_6133_zpsbb2c2465.jpg

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.
 photo IMG_6048_zps10013904.jpg  photo IMG_6534_zps0bed3c82.jpg

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:
 photo IMG_6085_zps8162552b.jpg  photo IMG_6084_zps0bbd31b8.jpg
Fun times with the Black family!
 photo IMG_6092_zpsa10b3880.jpg  photo IMG_6116_zps00b9a855.jpg
 photo IMG_6125_zps6b1559ed.jpg  photo IMG_6541_zps14d2e33e.jpg photo IMG_6389_zps61c91173.jpg
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.
 photo IMG_6539_zps893330ea.jpg
 photo IMG_6114_zps1978f137.jpg  photo IMG_6149_zps1ae3b559.jpg
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).
 photo IMG_6229_zps5e042f31.jpg  photo IMG_6557_zps7d5dfc00.jpg
 photo IMG_6317_zps0c091c21.jpg  photo IMG_6556_zps808c001a.jpg
My little boy…too precious
 photo IMG_6387_zpsbb459ae5.jpg  photo IMG_6316_zpsfa7c1782.jpg
 photo IMG_6319_zpsb041ad2b.jpg  photo IMG_6379_zpsfe351df5.jpg
 photo IMG_6378_zpsa5f2be93.jpg  photo IMG_6383_zps45b45bc4.jpg
Love these girls
 photo IMG_6561_zpsbbb1af15.jpg  photo IMG_6381_zps3e40deab.jpg

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.
 photo IMG_6542_zpsdc9fe5e3.jpg  photo IMG_6548_zps7b2fa726.jpg
 photo IMG_6543_zps5e893f88.jpg
 photo IMG_6544_zps20345370.jpg  photo IMG_6546_zpsb918e708.jpg (blood orange & pomegranate mimosas // flannel hash with a fried poached egg) photo IMG_6545_zpsf7655565.jpg  photo IMG_6547_zps487e35b6.jpg (goat cheese pain perdu with roasted peaches and almonds) photo IMG_6549_zps851333bf.jpg  photo IMG_6174_zps44b15bce.jpg  photo IMG_6175_zpsa8d25ea4.jpg photo IMG_6551_zps7552499e.jpg

Our last night on the beach. The perfect end to a fun, relaxing, and simple vacation with great people. When can I go back?
 photo IMG_6553_zps50ae23e9.jpg  photo IMG_6554_zps5d0ee76b.jpg
 photo IMG_6560_zps60f56cd6.jpg  photo IMG_6559_zps4e66c759.jpg  photo IMG_6558_zps3440ecde.jpg

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)

green beans
peas (fresh or frozen)
chard or kale

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!
 photo IMG_6525_zps02c4dfdf.jpg

{Love It} Lately

This week I am loving…

 photo IMG_5529_zpsfe42926d.jpg
My sweet pea soaking up the sun. I’ve taught her well!

 photo IMG_5525_zpsdf00c970.jpg
Slowly reintroducing dairy, but mostly continuing to eat clean. (Full Whole30 wrap up post coming soon!)

 photo IMG_5531_zps09f80700.jpg
Brother and sister having fun together….

 photo 54927fa9-0155-46be-b1c5-13795bc4e0ba_zps4e4657ec.jpg
….which gave me some time to sit in the sun and read this book. Challenging, inspiring, takes my breath away.

 photo IMG_5528_zps6f938f05.jpg
Sweet sleeping boy.

 photo IMG_5526_zps091002e1.jpg
New necklace, from here. The shop owner told me the dots mean “I Love You” in braille. Hope it’s true?!

 photo IMG_5530_zps4b2d316d.jpg
Precious new niece, Hadley Lynne, born today! Cannot wait to meet and hold this little sweetie.

Have a great weekend!

{Whole30} Day 29

{Recipe} Baked Chicken Thighs in Marinara with Cabbage Noodles
 photo 1-7_zps242fef87.jpg
I’m just going to talk about my dinner today, because I am pretty darn excited about it. It was one of those, “crap! what do i make for dinner?!” meals, and I threw it all together without much thought. And it actually turned out! It was so simple and tasty, that I thought it was worth sharing. I even took a few (iPhone) pics along the way; I guess I just had a *feeling* that it might turn out!

I threw some boneless skinless chicken thighs in an 8×8 dish (use whatever size dish you need to have it be “full” of chicken. Or use as much chicken as you need to fill your dish?!?)

Moving on!

I had a few fresh herbs, and decided to go with thyme….so I threw a few sprigs of thyme on top, and then some crushed garlic cloves. (I prefer to keep the sprigs whole, rather than taking the “thyme” (!) to pull of each little leaf and chop it up. This way, you still get the flavor imparted into the dish, and just pull the sprigs out when it’s done cooking!)
 photo IMG_5475_zps5941a1fa.jpg
Next, I very carefully opened a jar of organic, (no sugar) marinara sauce. And poured it on top. It was hard work, but someone had to do it.
 photo IMG_5476_zpsde90a286.jpg
Then I covered the dish with foil, and baked at 375 while I took a walk with the kids to get eggs from the neighbor’s house….in other words, 30 minutes or so. When I got home I checked it and decided it could go a bit longer. Plus, I wanted to roast some green beans at a high temp in the over (425), so I just went ahead and cranked it up so that I could cook the green beans in there at the same time. I also noticed that it was way more liquid-y than I was expecting, so at this point I removed the foil covering from the dish.

I only had frozen green beans to use as my veggie side, which I think worked well for the way I prepared them. I opened the plastic bag, and filled it with warm water to defrost the green beans. Drain, and repeat once. Now they’re defrosted! I patted away the moisture with some paper towels, since things tend to roast best when they aren’t sopping wet.

Next, throw your green beans on a pan, drizzle with olive oil, nutritional yeast, and salt. Then place in the oven so they can roast at 425 for around 20 minutes. (Meanwhile, your chicken is still baking away). If you have the chance, pull them out once to flip them around with a spatula.

I also had some cabbage wedges roasting away in my toaster over. Drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper, cooked at 425 for 20 min. Hey, I never said this was a one pot meal!

The chicken turned out nice and saucy and tender.
 photo IMG_5477_zps9f0cc342.jpg
And the green beans were roasted just the way I like em.
 photo IMG_5479_zps4b91e0c5.jpg
To plate it up, I had my wedge of cabbage, with chicken on top, and sauce over it all. And then the green beans on the side.
 photo IMG_5478_zpsa7982c5b.jpg
After I took this photo and started eating, I did end up adding much more sauce to my plate.

This is what I love about Whole30! I never would have came up with this meal without it. I maybe would have thought of the chicken idea. But I would have served it with rice or potatoes or something. Instead, after I thought of the chicken idea, I was thinking to myself…what would be good underneath saucy chicken to soak it up? Noodles? Then I remembered seeing something weird on instagram under the #whole30 hashtag. Someone was talking about boiling a whole cabbage, and as it cooks, the leaves come off. You pull the leaves out as they start floating to the top, and then shred up all the cooked cabbage leaves. She was saying she then just keeps it in the fridge and uses them as “noodles”, and that they’re really versatile. So, that’s kind of what I was trying to replicate with the roasted wedges of cabbage (I didn’t want to take the time or mess with boiling a whole cabbage). And it worked! The outer edges were crispy, but the inner parts were soft and the perfect texture to eat with saucy chicken.

Enjoy! And let me know what you think!

My Boy

This little guy
 photo IMG_6644_zpsb2ba0018.jpg
is so amazing. Oh boy, he makes me laugh. And smile. Many times throughout the day I am overcome with feeling so thankful to have him.
 photo 2_zps756f2f3e.jpg
He is my happy little boy. Easy going. Content. Plays independently….
 photo IMG_6652_zpsc1e5ad6c.jpg
…and then on the flip side he looooves to snuggle. Loves to be interacted with. Loves to communicate.
 photo IMG_6660_zpsb8597053.jpg
He is so silly. He keeps me laughing all day long! He has THE BEST facial expressions. This “cheesy smile” is a favorite right now:
 photo IMG_6659_zps7f4a96fb.jpg
He is 15.5 months right now. Finally started walking, yesterday! He is sooo excited and proud of it, too! It is so fun to watch. Nothing cuter than watching a baby learn take their first steps. He’s already cruising and excited about his new mode of transportation.
 photo 1_zps032ff99e.jpg
He has an infinite amount of nicknames. Some favorites right now: bubs, bubbers, boo boo, brudder bear, bubbies, bubbles….the list grows each day.
 photo IMG_6655_zpscc010ee4.jpg
I love you, my sweet boy!