Category - Adventure

Family Trip to California

Jason and were thrilled to welcome my family here in California. My parents, brother, and his girlfriend all packed into our one bedroom apartment over two weekends with a full week in between. We had an incredibly busy schedule of places and events and fun things to show them. It was a full of sightseeing and I think everyone enjoyed themselves even though it was a bit of a chilly spell in the Bay Area while they were here. Some of the highlights are below; Point Reyes, Alcatraz, Pier 39, Crissy Field, and Napa Valley. We both miss our families a lot but it was great to share the beautiful state of California with them!

DSC_0536(Point Reyes view of the ocean)

DSC_0610(Point Reyes Lighthouse)

DSC_0781(Point Reyes Elk)

(Point Reyes Elk)

(Escapee cow in Point Reyes)

(Boat ride to Alcatraz)

DSC_0211 2

(Alcatraz art exhibit)

(Alcatraz art exhibit)

(Boat ride from Alcatraz)

(Sunset over San Francisco)

(Crissy Field)

(Crissy Field)

(Crissy Field)

(Crissy Field)

(Napa Valley roses)

Baked Tamale Pie with Homemade Enchilada Sauce and Scallion Pancake Topping

Jason and I were craving chili this weekend. I made a meat one for him (recipe is here) and a gluten free meat-substitute one for me. The inspiration recipe called this a Baked Tamale Pie. I decided to add a homemade enchilada sauce to the recipe and used my scallion cornbread pancake recipe as a topping. It turned out to be a perfect combination and one that I highly recommend.

It’s best to make the enchilada sauce before you start anything else so there’s time to clean up and then move on to the main recipe. I made the sauce first and then took a break to do some pottery. I took a two-part class at a local place called “Play with Clay”. The first session was a tutorial in how to use the pottery wheel, which is something I haven’t done since high school so it was a great re-fresher. The second session, which I did today, is how to glaze the pots you made. It was a ton of fun and I hope to do it again. I can’t wait to see how they look after they’re fired!



Now, back to the food at hand… Baked Tamale Pie with Homemade Enchilada Sauce and Scallion Pancake Topping.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce
(Recipe credit to vitamin-sunshine)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cups vegetable broth
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon coriander
1 tablespoon corn starch + ¼ cup warm water
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice



1. In a large saucepan, add olive oil, and diced onion. Cook for 7 minutes over medium high heat until onion is softened.
2. Add vegetable broth, tomato paste, chili powder, paprika, brown sugar, cumin, oregano, salt, and coriander. Simmer for 5 minutes until it comes to a boil.
3. Remove from heat, let cool slightly and then add to a blender. Process until smooth then return back to the saucepan.
4. Whisk corn starch and warm water in a small cup then slowly pour into the sauce while stirring.
5. Add the lime juice, and turn off heat. (Set aside for further use.)


Baked Tamale Pie
(Recipe Inspiration from serious eats)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup frozen corn
1 medium onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and coarsely crushed with your hand
1 (16-ounce) package of “meat” crumbles
1 1/2 cup of homemade enchilada sauce (follow instructions below)
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves and fine stems, minced


1. Preheat oven to 425°F. In a large saucepan heat oil and then add corn and cook until corn is warm. Add onion, bell peppers, and poblano pepper, season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened but not browned, about 3 minutes.

2. Add garlic, cumin, coriander, oregano, and chili powder and cook until fragrant.
3. Add soy sauce, tomatoes, black beans, kidney beans, meat substitute, and enchilada sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook until it has thickened.


4. Stir in grated cheese, scallions, and cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into a casserole dish or cast iron skillet.

5. Complete first step of the Scallion Cornbread Pancakes recipe (below). Drop dollops of the batter on top of the tamale filling.


6. Bake tamale pie for about 20 minutes, until cornbread has turned golden brown.


Scallion Cornbread Pancakes
1 cup ½ cup gluten free cornbread mix
2 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup canola oil
2 eggs
2 green onions, thinly chopped
½ cup fat-free milk
Canola oil

1. Stir together cornbread mix, sugar, salt, baking powder in a bowl. Add oil, eggs, onions, and milk and whisk until combined.
2. Heat canola oil in a skillet and drop dollops of the batter into the oil to fry. Do not overcrowd.


3. When you can see the edges of each pancake begin to brown, flip over and brown the other side.


4. After both sides are golden brown, remove from oil and place on a plate lined with paper towel to remove excess grease. Continue making pancakes until all batter has been used.


Last Day of Unemployment

I ended up having a relaxing day yesterday. My afternoon was spent driving around Santa Cruz, and it was perfect. The weather was beautiful and there was so much to see. I can’t wait to go back again!




(Note the adorable seal-covered rock in the background.)




Pad Thai After A Long Day

I had a busy day on Tuesday with a few ups and downs, but the grounding moment was taking a breather at one of my favorite overlooks in the area. It’s Crissy Field right next to the Golden Gate Bridge. It was nice to relax for a minute and remember all of the reasons we came to this area. When I got home I was exhausted but craving something homemade. So I whipped up some shrimp pad thai. Then Jason and I watched Bad Grandpa and laughed our buns off.

Shrimp Pad Thai
(Recipe inspiration from
8 oz uncooled flat rice noodles
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup green onion pieces
8 oz peeled and deveined large shrimp
4 garlic cloves, minced
10 oz bag of mixed asian vegetables (bean sprouts, carrots, broccoli, cabbage)
1/4 cup unsalted peanuts

2 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce)
1 1/2 tablespoon chili and garlic sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce

1. Cook noodles as stated on the package as well as combine all seasonings in a small bowl and set each aside.
2. Heat oil in a large wok over medium high heat. Add green onions and mixed vegetables. Par-cook vegetables and add garlic, being careful not to burn. Add shrimp and cook until it’s pink, and almost done cooking. Toss with seasonings and cook for one minute. Add noodles and cook again until heated through. Top with peanuts and serve.

Here we go…

I like taking pictures. Ever since middle school I can remember having a digital camera with me everywhere I went. I enjoy cataloguing my life. It is nice to be transported through pictures back to the moments they were taken. Sometimes my memories blur between events I actually remember and the images I’ve looked at over the years. I constantly find myself going through old pictures and recalling when and where certain things took place. It gives me the ability to piece together a timeline, and refresh my memory.
IMG_4763 Facebook ends up being the home to many of the pictures I take. It’s comforting to offer them to the people I’ve shared experiences with, so we can all reminisce together. Especially now that my husband and I live across the country from our family, they’re able to keep tabs on us. Since 2010, I have posted over 120 albums on Facebook. That’s an average of 24 per year with the number of pictures per album ranging from 20-200. That’s a lot. What can I say? I like taking pictures.
IMG_4770 (1) I also like baking and cooking. For some, they only like baking OR cooking. That’s probably because they’re very distinct disciplines. Baking is a true science. Too much baking powder, salt, or butter will give you a completely different outcome than you had anticipated. Cooking offers more give and take. You can add more garlic here or cayenne there. Different parts of my brain have a great appreciation for both art forms. I find the kitchen cathartic. Not everything comes out perfectly, but I enjoy the process and sometimes, the frustration.
IMG_4771 Those are my “Stills and Spills”. The still images that represent my life’s ups and downs. The spills in the kitchen that have been successes and failures.