May 9, 2013

Lettuce Wraps - recipe

Summer is almost here and that means it's time for some easy light recipes! I love wraps, and we're always playing with different combinations of fillings, this one uses pork but we like using ground turkey as well. If you like your lettuce wraps with a spicy kick, add a dash of red pepper flakes. Need more vegetables? Try adding a handful of bean sprouts, shredded carrots, or even cook diced up eggplant along with the mushrooms and onions.  Dinner rolled into a pretty green leaf - yes please!


the Wraps:
leaves of lettuce,  Boston or I like the outer leaves of Iceburg lettuce
1 lbs pork, diced into small pieces  (I buy the pork for fajitas, it's already cut into thin strips) 
1/2 of a yellow onion, diced
1 package mushrooms, washed and diced into small pieces
1 8oz. can of water chestnuts, diced into small pieces
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced 
1 bunch Saifun bean threads 
handful of chopped cilantro 
olive oil

the Sauce:
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbls. lite soy sauce
1 tsp. ginger, minced
1 Tbls rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
toasted sesame seeds for garnish


1. Start by boiling water in a medium sized pot. Once water is boiling add the Saifun, cover and turn heat off.  Leave the noodles in the hot water until they soften and are clear, about 15-20 minutes. I use Dynasty Saifun noodles, they are found in most grocery stores in the Asian food isle. Once the noodles are ready, drain the water and I cut mine into small pieces, about 1/2 inch long. 

2. add a little olive oil to a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and onion. Stir until both are softened. Remove from pan and put into a bowl.

3. using the same frying pan, add a little olive oil and brown the pork, stirring often to break up the pieces until meat is cooked all the way through

4. While the meat is cooking, make the sauce by combining all ingredients. 

5. Let meat cool a bit, then toss with the chestnuts, cooked onions and mushrooms, Saifun noodles, green onions and cilantro. Add the sauce and toss to combine. Wash the lettuce leaves and fill with meat/mushroom mixture, sprinkle on sesame seeds and serve.

xo ~ Tara

May 7, 2013

Balboa and the Beach

 With every new place we visit, it offers a chance to discover something new, something inspiring, something pretty and photo worthy. This trip, and this maybe true for other vacations taken prior to, there are 2 things that seem to draw me in: 

1. Gardens   and   2. Architecture 

I've always loved the history of old buildings, the carving details, the angles and at certain parts of the day - how the light creates intricate shadows over the buildings face. We had hoped we were going to be able to see more while visiting, but that heat over there quickly got the best of us and we found we weren't moving all that fast. So, this trip turned out to be more of a strolling along the beach, evenings walking along the harbor with frozen yogurts in hand and incredible views from our hotel room!.

Here's our hotel! We stayed in the tower on the left, all the way up on the 23rd floor. The kids were amazed with the lights in the evening time - wait until I take them to Vegas! Our room overlooked the hills to the left and the harbor and the Coronado bridge on the right. When we arrived the kids were greeted with a s'more kit and wooden sticks, the hotel has fire pits that light up in the evening especially for roasting marshmallows. Needless to say Alaina and Chase both think this hotel is the best! 

We spent some time at Balboa park, but later ditched our plans to go up to the zoo and instead spent the afternoon at the Science Center (which happens to be air conditioned!!). They have a good dinosaur exhibit and even a few Ansel Adam photographs on display.... and it was air conditioned. It's almost embarrassing to say, living in a town that can reach 120 in summer time, but  combine a little humidity with sun & heat and we were done for. The museum was a great break though from the sun and I was impressed with the hands on exhibits. 

I brought my trusty ole Anscoflex along for the trip. Love-love using that old camera, and I forget how fun it is until I get my little light box set up on it and start shooting through the view finder. Even though I look ridiculous taking the photos, sitting here editing them makes it worth it! I love how 'grainy' they are. I don't think I've used this camera all year and it now has quite the collection of dust to work with. :)

We spent our last night in Oceanside right on the harbor. Funny, it's just a 40 min. trip north of where we were, but it was overcast, cool and breezy, perfect for searching the beach for treasures! 

First trip to San Diego, not too shabby!
xo ~ Tara