Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Great Way to End the Year!

I've had many good trips and fun times in 2012.

Some of them I blogged about, some of them I never got around to blogging about.

About two weeks before Christmas my sister and I took a drive to Santa Clarita to get some Christmas shopping done. Santa Clarita is about two hours south of Bakersfield. When we got there we happened to notice on the way out of town that there was a huge Goodwill Store right there on Lyons Avenue and we both said, "Look, Goodwill! We need to bring mom!"

My mom loves thrift stores and I've learned to love them as well through her. My sister Lisa...not so much. So today, we had nothing to do other than the normal grocery shopping, vacuuming, mopping, dusting, laundry, you know...all the normal stuff that we do on the weekends to get ready for the next we took mom to Santa Clarita instead.

That in itself is not such a big deal, the big deal was driving the Grapevine. The Grapevine is notorious for having bad weather during the winter months and earlier in the week the California Highway Patrol had to escort traffic through the mountainous area.

When we left it was a bit overcast here in Bakersfield, but we convinced my mom that the weather wouldn't be bad and that once we got over the mountain the sun would be shining. I guess maybe we should have checked The Weather Channel before we left.

We hit snow! Not bad snow, but snow none the less! I was driving and I have never driven in snow. Well I've driven in snow after it's on the ground, but not during a snow storm. Well this wasn't really a snow storm, mostly a lightly falling snow. But you can see the snow from earlier on the side of the road.

You know a weird thing that I never knew about snow? That when it falls it doesn't stick to and wet your car's windshield like rain does. I didn't even need my wipers. Now it may be that when it falls heavier that it does, but this one didn't.

Picture taken by my sister from the rear window of the car.

Needless to mom was not a happy camper! She doesn't like to go outside during the winter and doesn't even like to look outside. So to be in the backseat of a car at 5000 elevation with snow falling around her was sheer torture! We tried to tell her it wasn't that bad and this is a great adventure and something we will remember forever, but she wasn't buying it!

A couple of times I contemplated turning around and going back home because many times people get to the other side of the Grapevine and then it snows so much that the CHP closes the pass and you can't get back. You can go around but that adds hours to your trip. But I'm nothing if not stubborn. I figured the driving wasn't so bad. Everyone was going at a decent speed and I wasn't scared, so why not continue on and if we had to get a hotel room and spend the night in Santa Clarita, well then we would. This was an adventure after all!

I'm happy to say that we made it over the Grapevine. And it was sunny, a bit cold but sunny. We had a yummy lunch at Coco's and then took my mom to Goodwill. The Goodwill in Santa Clarita was a tad more expensive than our local Goodwills, but my mom still had a good time. I found an awesome cookbook, 1,000 Classic Recipes from Around the World! The sticker price on the front said $17.89 but I got it for $5.00. This book is like four inches thick and filled with pictures and super heavy! I can't wait to look at it and try some of the recipes!

I've also been collecting Jodi Picoult books, trying to get them all and I found another one today that I didn't have in my collection. Haven't read this one yet, have no idea what it's about, but I love Jodi Picoult books and can't wait to read it! And the sticker on the front says $8.43 but I got it for $1.99!

And my favorite thing I found was a silverware caddy. I had been looking for one for quite a few months now and hadn't found anything I really liked. My cousin Stella has a perfect one that I believe she got a Ikea or Pier 1 Imports, but I haven't been able to find one exactly like hers. This one is great because it has touches of green, my favorite color and the color of my kitchen curtains and it has butterflies, which I love and have several of all over my house.

I already got it all washed up and placed the silverware in it. Not sure this is going to work for me because the utensils tend to slip out of the bottom. I put some cupcake pan liners in there for now but I'm hoping to find some acrylic containers that might fit in there. See the butterflies and the ivy leaves? So cute!

So my sister, mom and I had a great day! I wish I had thought to take a photo, but let me share one of the three of us making Biscochos for Christmas this year.

From L to sister Lisa, my mom Tomasa and me!

Yep...a great way to end the year!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Meatball Sunday!

I finally broke my crock pot out of the box it came in when I bought it over three months ago and made those meatballs I told you about earlier this week. You remember, the meatballs I bought and then had to wait in traffic for hours before I could get them home to the freezer?

Well they made it home still frozen and today I tossed them into the crock pot along with a whole bottle of BBQ sauce and a jar of grape jelly (grape jelly is the secret ingredient that I didn't tell anyone about because I didn't think they would try them if they new grape jelly was in there).

I found the recipe at The County Cook and I followed it to the letter but they didn't look as pretty as hers, mine were a little bit darker. Maybe the BBQ sauce I used? Not sure.

I didn't take a photo of the ones I made and the results were mixed. Mom said they were ok, but she's not a big fan of ground beef. The son loved them! The daughter said she liked the flavor but not the texture of the meatballs. I'm kinda with the daughter, I liked the flavor but not the texture. Maybe next time I'll make my own meatballs.

I'm trying to make something new each Sunday. My kids keep asking for the same old tried and true recipes but I'm determined to benefit from the many hours each I day I spend pinning recipes from Pinterest!

Anyway, Friday was my company's holiday luncheon in Fresno which is about 2 hours north of Bakersfield. It was fun and I always love seeing my co-workers from our Fresno and San Jose offices, since we only see each other once a year but talk to each other almost every day. It was tough trying to gather everyone together for a photo. As you can see, I was camera ready but everyone else was too busy socializing!

And then when they are all ready, I decide to move my head so I'm a little out of focus...or maybe it was the wine?

But finally we get all the socialites and rabble-rousers out of the picture and get everyone to focus and pay attention and I think we came out great!
Each year they set up a luncheon for us at  Roger Rocka's Dinner Theater in Fresno. The cast there puts on an abbreviated portion of the show currently playing which this year was Beehive. It was so funny and they are such great singers. They also host a raffle where you can win prizes such as Kindles and Ipods and Ipads and bottles of wine and baskets of chocolate and stuffed animals and gift certificates. All the money goes to charity and sadly no one at my table won! But we still had a wonderful time!

Saturday my sister and I took my dad to breakfast. He had a good time and bought himself a little 1955 Chevy model car that they had for sale, so he was a happy camper to have had breakfast with his girls and a toy to play with later!
Then my sister and I took off for Valencia to do some Christmas shopping and share in a little sister-time. Sadly, I didn't get any pictures except the one of the Guacamole and Sparkling Pomegranate Margaritas we shared, but if I had gotten a picture, we would have been smiling because we had a great day.
So that was my weekend and tomorrow it's back to the salt mines. Have a good week everyone!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Peace - Do You Hear What I Hear

It's been a long day. I admit that I watched the clock big time today at work, and that last hour lasted forever! I could hardly wait until 5pm!

Then the magic hour got here and I shut down my computer, gathered up my purse, cell phone, sweater, travel coffee mug, lunch bag and keys and got into my little putt-putt and remembered I had to stop at Smart and Final and pick up a bag of frozen meatballs for a little recipe I pinned on Pinterest that I want to try.

Photo Courtesy The Country Cook
Don't those meatballs look delicious? I had them many years ago at a Christmas party. The secret is grape jelly....but shhhh, don't tell my family. If I tell them grape jelly is in there they probably won't even try it. Check out the recipe at The Country Cook (plus she has a really great blog with tons of great recipes!)

I stop and pick up my meatballs and hurry to my car because it's freezing (well freezing for Southern California, it was like 68 degrees!) I start heading home when my son texts me to remind me that I have to return some Christmas lights that are in the trunk of my car...darn it!

So I think I'm going to outsmart traffic by taking the road less travelled, unfortunately everyone in Bakersfield took the road less travelled because I could see Highway 99 to my left and it was flowing smoothly while I was stuck in a single lane of traffic all waiting for the light to turn green so they could turn left while I was the only person that wanted to turn right but couldn't because all the lefties were in the way and the only way I could have done it would have been to booney-bounce all over the shoulder and I just got new tires and had them aligned that wasn't happening!

And I'm hungry and cold and I know my meatballs are melting and the traffic keeps going slower and slower and I'm thinking, "why me?" All day I looked forward to just going home and here it's 6pm and I'm stuck in traffic and I forgot and changed purses this morning and left a bag of MandM's in my old purse so I don't even have anything to snack on and I know I'm going to starve to death and tomorrow they would find my cold, dead body and melting meatballs!!!

I'll admit, I'm cursing and debating whether I should just make a U-turn and go home and try to return the lights tomorrow. All of a sudden I hear this golden voice coming out of my radio. Here...take a listen.

Instantly I felt the stress and road rage slip away. I sang along with Bing and marvelled at what an impact this one man had made on the world with his talent and his beautiful voice and I counted myself lucky at being able to enjoy this moment and have his music touch my life.

So go listen to your favorite Christmas music and unwind, let your cares, worries, stress and most importantly road rage just slip away.

What's your favorite Christmas song?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Easy Peasy Huevos Rancheros

One would think that since I am Hispanic I would have eaten Huevos Rancheros a bazillion times in my lifetime right? But actually, I have never had them.

But first a funny story from my childhood. I grew up eating every meal with tortillas. My mom would make eggs sunny side up and I would tear off a little piece of my tortilla and scoop up the yummy yellow yolk. I would continue tearing the tortilla and scooping up the egg until it was all gone. Then I would close my little eyes and pat my little round belly and proclaim that that had been the best breakfast ever!

One time, we were on a road trip to Arizona and we stopped at a pancake house in Yuma. I was probably about 12 or 13 years of age. My mom ordered bacon and eggs for me. They brought my bacon and eggs and everyone started eating and my mom looked over at me and asked me why I wasn't eating yet. I said, "I'm waiting for the tortillas".  Mom told me there were no tortillas coming, that in restaurants they served breakfast with toast. I told her I couldn't eat eggs with toast, I didn't  know how and I wanted tortillas. Sad to say I started crying and telling my mom I didn't know how to eat eggs without tortillas! So I didn't eat my eggs and I loved eggs!

Now granted, I didn't think it was funny at the time, but I get teased about it a lot now. I did eventually learn to eat eggs with toast, which is good because I love restaurant breakfasts and they don't serve tortillas.

With Huevos Rancheros you get your tortillas! I was inspired to try this dish by a pin on Pinterest by Bev at Bev Cooks. I thought, "Wow! This looks delicious!" I read the recipe and it seemed easy as well. So I posted on facebook on Friday morning that I was going to make these tomorrow. Well my sister called my bluff this morning when she came over for coffee and said, "Ok, so where are these Huevos Rancheros you said you were going to make?"

Here's the original photo posted by Bev. Now tell me looking at this photo that you wouldn't be driven to try making them as well?

I did tweak Bev's recipe a bit. I didn't have any canned black beans, but my mom had cooked a fresh pot of Peruvian Beans or frijole peruanos so my sister refried them in a bit of oil. While she worked on making refried beans, I heated about 1/2 cup of oil in a pan and pan fried whole corn tortillas one at a time until they were just deliciously crisp, then I blotted them with paper towels. I then fried the eggs and layered the corn tortilla, spread with some of the refried beans, then a layer of shredded cheddar cheese, then the delicious fried egg. My sister chopped some cilantro and we had some salsa in the fridge...we always have homemade salsa in the fridge (I love having my mother live with me!).

Here's a photo of the Huevos Rancheros that I made.

Trust me these are delicious. If you make them you will be go on, make them! You can thank me and Bev later!