Chopped Salad with Chicken.

So this salad doesn’t usually call for chicken, but I like to add it for the hubby to make him feel like it’s a meal when I make it for dinner.  I adapted it a bit from Jaime Oliver’s everyday chopped salad.  His way is good, but doesn’t suit my family.  The English mustard is a bit too bitter for our taste and if I chop everything the way he does it gets too mushy for me. I also added the tomatoes cause we love ’em and it adds a nice punch of flavor to the green salad.

I  like to get a loaf of par-baked bread to heat up while I am making the salad, and serve it warm on the side.

What Goes Into it?

Salad Ingredients

Everyday Green Chopped Salad
  • 4 scallions
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 2 small avocados , just ripe
  • 1 head butter lettuce
  • 1/2 container grape tomatoes
  • Large handfuls sprouted cress or alfalfa
  • 2 Handfuls watercress
  • 1 cooked Chicken breast, or the breast meat from a rotisserie chicken if you don’t have time.
  • 2 ounces Cheddar cheese , optional
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tabelspoon English mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons prepared Dijon mustard
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Lots of Freshly ground black pepper

How Do I Make It?

  1. In a small container, whisk 6 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar together adding 1 1/2 tablespoons prepared dijon mustard and salt and pepper to taste. Put in the fridge while you are chopping.
  2. Chop all remaining ingredients and combine in bowl, toss with 75% of the dressing, plate and top with warm chicken breast and a good helping of fresh black pepper, drizzle a bit of remaining dressing over top leaving some on side for those who like a bit extra otherwise if you use it all on the salad it’s drenched.

Taking the Scenic – Pebble Beach to Vacaville (part 2)

If you’ve never been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, I strongly suggest you go.  Out of the 6 aquariums I’ve been to, this is still my favorite.  One thing though, NEVER SLIP YOUR HUSBAND A XANAX BEFORE YOU GO IN! Ruben is a Type A personality to the tee and I think that the stress of all 4 kids in my grandparents perfectly-kept house got to him. He was wound up tighter than an 8 day clock, I asked him if he wanted a Xanax and he said no. So I slipped one in his Starbucks, big mistake!  Not long after it was like I was hanging with Tommy Chong, I am usually the one to stop and take way to long looking at a flower, the landscape or, in this case, the jellyfish. But Ruben put me to shame. Oooohhh, look at the jellies…preeeeetty!

That night we left the Grandparents with tears in our eyes.  I know it’s a strong word but, I hate that they moved that far away. That they moved to a place where they lose power 2-3 times in the winter for a week at a time, that has no street lights, that is damp and cold all the time. I hate that I can’t just pop in on them and see them. I hate that I am so far away when something really, really bad does happen. Like a triple bypass, a fall resulting in a broken hip, a heart attack, but mostly, I worry how much longer we will have Grandpa.

We wiped the tears away and set out with the expectation of making it to Sacramento but by the time we hit Vacaville it was already 11 and we were done, actually we were done before we even left that night. Thinking that it was already late and that the kids would just crash, we got a room with only 2 queen beds.  BIG MISTAKE…again!  Usually, I just stick Ruby in her playpen, shut the door and she goes right to bed. This room arrangement meant there was no door to shut and she was not pleased.  She let us (and everyone within screaming distance) know about it, for quite some time. Finally, she fell asleep on my chest and I slept upright for a couple of hours until I could slip her into the playpen. Ruben chose to crash horizontally across the bottom of the bed…only to wake everyone up at 4:30 am because he is the leader of the bulls in the china shop. Where’s the Xanax when you need it most?

Very Blessed!

I guess I shouldn’t complain about my laundry too much because it means that my kids are well dressed.

That’s not all my doing, these days. Right before we left on our trip, Tommy’s friend gave us 3 bags of clothes and over 1/2 of them still had tags on them.  I was floored. The timing could not have been more perfect, I was just thinking how shabby Tommy’s winter clothes were and how few jeans he had. There must have been hundreds of dollars worth of clothes in there. Then, the very next day my Godsons Mother Martha, generously brought us a huge bag of clothes for Eli!  So very cool, because by the time the clothes go through Tommy and Lucas there’s not many that can be passed to Eli, leaving him with a lot of junky clothes.

I feel so very blessed by thes kind acts.  You all didn’t have to save your clothes and think of our family, but THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts!

Taking the Scenic – Pebble Beach to Vacaville

<Night of Day 3>

After a long day on the road and a little bit of a stressful evening at Grandmothers (only because her house is so perfect, full of beautiful things and I have 4 kids that are like bulls in a china shop) I was able to secure us a cottage at Asilomar.  I had  long conversation with the manager to give us a break and try to convince them that a  little cash is better then the place going vacant for the night (a skill the Hubby has taught me well).  I was able to secure us a 2 bedroom cottage at over 1/2 off. I was soooo very thrilled because in all my visits to Pebble Beach I had never gone there.  I’d always heard about how amazing it was and now we’d get a chance to experience it first hand.

When I entered the lobby I quickly realized that I was really gonna dig this place.  It was built in the Arts and Crafts style (one of my favorites) by no other than Julia Morgan and has a really cool history. I felt like such a hero. An entire cottage super cheap ON the beach, and then, we entered the room.  The kids run in to inspect the place, call out dibs on the beds and start bouncing on them, except for Tommy.  He quickly spotted and let me know that “MOM! THERE ARE NO TV’s”, then from the other room I hear Ruben “Anj, there’s no wireless and I only have one bar on my cell, is there a wired connection out there?  I’ve got work to do!”. Then more shouting “MOM, it’s COLD in here, the heat’s not working”

“OK, OK, everyone chill out!  I’ll call the front desk.”

Then that went something like this:

Me: Hi, it seems that there’s no wireless in the rooms, does there happen to be a wired connection I’m missing?

Her: No, I’m sorry.

Me: The heat doesn’t seem to be working very well, did I do something wrong?

Her: Well, you are staying in the Engineers Cottage, right? That building is over 100 years old and it’s just takes some time to heat up.

Me: How long would you say? 30 minuets or so?

Her: Well, if after 2 hours it’s not working and warm enough for you, give us a call back but, please feel free to light a fire in your fireplace!  We’ve prepared a kindling bundle for you and there are matches on the hearth.

Me: Oh, Hm, well there also seems to be a few TV’s missing

Her: I’m sorry ma’am, there are no TV’s or internet anywhere on campus except in the Social Hall.

Me: Oh, Ok guess I should have checked that out when I called.  Thank You

(Boy did I feel like a stupid ass that didn’t GET it!)

Me: Uh guys, the thing is, there’s no TV or internet here.  (loud shrieks of disapproval)  I’ll go out to the car and get all of our books and activities and we can have fun doing those together. (That’s me always making lemonade! You should have seen the looks on their faces.) This is a place where people come to get away from all the hustle and bustle of life.  A place to unwind, be close to nature and relax.

So,  I went and gathered all of our books, got the kids in their jammies made up the pull out sofa for Tommy, poured myself a glass of wine and unwound.  Ruben attended to his business as best he could with only 1 bar on his cell, I think he had to stand in the shower or something to get reception. Tommy read a couple of books to the younger kids and then after they went to bed I plopped down next to him on the pull out and listened to him read to me.  That was a cool feeling.

It rained all night long. It was the first and last of any weather we had all trip.  Boy was it loud in that 100 year old cottage. We had to get up throughout the night because the heat worked so well when it was on that we’d roast, but if it was off we’d freeze so we just turned it down and snuggled up on our king (I mean two twins pushed together) bed and listened to the rain.

By morning we were pretty tired, I don’t think Ruben or I got much rest.  I wanted to walk around the grounds and get great pictures but it was raining and unsuitable for walking very far with a camera and forget about getting down to the beach! We decided to pack it in and drive to the dining hall for breakfast where we watched it pour some more.  The really neat thing about this type of architecture is that it’s very connected with nature.  The Dining Hall had floor to ceiling windows which provided to a great show, that is when I wasn’t frustrated by Ruby and her antics.  We were able to walk back to the cottage after the downpour and I got to peak into a few of the buildings I had wanted to see, along with a quick stop in the Pirate Den. A neat-o room with a big fireplace, piano and plenty of sitting room.

We were able to get back to our cottage with just a few sprinkles (well, after the downpour when we were  checking out the Pirates Den). Have you ever hunted for acorns? It’s kinda fun.  See, being a girly-girl I was never really into that sort of stuff. We had some time before loading the car and Ruby went down for a nap, the rain had stopped so we went outside the cottage for a little adventure.  That is when the boys are most happy.  We spent about half an hour  just looking for the acorns and I think that they could easily have spent over another hour at it, but it was time to head to back to Grandmothers.

We actually enjoyed each others company at Asliomar quite a bit without all the distractions.  Ruben wants to implement a blackout day every week here.  I think I agree.

Chicken Posole.

Ok, so I know I promised you more from “Taking The Scenic Route” tonight.  Sorry, I just could not get to it today.  We’ve got the sick. Lucas has Strep Throat, Ruby has an Ear Infection and Sinus infection, Tommy and Elias have nasty coughs and my eyeballs are burning as I type this.

I decided to make chicken soup, not traditional chicken soup but a Posole with chicken. I had to make it fast and easy, since I had whiny kids hanging all over me.

You’ll notice most of my recipes are quick and easy ones with not too many ingredients as I usually cook one handed with a baby on one hip. It’s all I’ve got for now.  I really dream of the days I can make complex meals that take hours to prepare, but at this stage in our lives it’s the quick, easy meals that reign.

I think you’ll enjoy this one, although my Brother In-Law laughed at my approach. He is Mexican, and to make this proper it takes at least 1-2 hours.  This way suits my lifestyle much better!

What Goes Into it?

Posole Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 32-ounce container low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 dried ancho chili, thinly sliced, or 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken meat (i use the breast)
  • 1 15-ounce can hominy, rinsed and drained
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • 2-3 radishes
  • 1/2 head of shredded cabbage

How Do I Make It?

Heat Oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, salt & pepper and cook, stirring, until soft and brown.  About 10-12 min.

Add the tomatoes, broth chili and bring to a boil. Add bay leaf and oregano. Simmer for 10-15 minuets, add hominy and chicken and simmer for another 10 minuets.

Serve in large bowl with shredded cabbage, radish and lime over top and warm corn tortillas or tostada shells on the side. I didn’t have cabbage or lime radish tonight so we did without.

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