@TheDoctors – Healthy Food Options to Cook Together

Our segment on @TheDoctorsTV airs this Wednesday on FOXLA at 3pm – Check local listings – https://www.thedoctorstv.com/when-its-on

A few months ago the producers from the day time talk show “The Doctors” reached out and asked if Kaia and I would be interested in doing a segment with them. We obliged ; )

The segment focuses on healthy food alternatives. The goal is to spotlight the still growing issue of diabetes amongst children in the United States where 1 in 5 kids is pre-diabetic.

They asked us to come up with some recipes that would be a healthy alternatives that are easy to make, and can be fun to cook for parents and kids together.

– Dinner 1 – Turkey Meatballs, homemade marinara on noodles. 
Ingredients – 

  • 2 lbs 93/7 Ground Turkey
  • 1 cup Spinach chopped
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Salt 
  • 1 tbsp Garlic
  • 1 cup Bread Crumbs 
  • 1 tbsp Pepper freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Cheese grated
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Italian Parsley chopped fine
  • Basic Tomato Sauce or we can make our own.  – Roma Tomatoes, Fresh Oregano, Yellow Onion, Garlic, Black Pepper, Green Onions, Salt, Vegetable Stock
  • 8oz. Spaghetti Noodles

Preparation – Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. – Meatballs – In a large mixing bowl combine the ground turkey, 1 cup of breadcrumbs, 1 cup of chopped Spinach, 1 tsp of cumin, 1 tbsp of minced garlic, 1 tbsp of Salt, 1 tbsp fresh cracked black pepper, 2 tbsps of softened butter. Mix the ingredients together well. Roll and Ball the mixture into a about 16 2 oz. meatballs. In a cast iron pan or saute’ pan, heat a tbsp of Olive Oil and place the meatballs in the pan browning them. Use the remaining oil for the 2nd round of meatballs. After browning the meatballs. Place the pan with all the meatballs into the oven and cook for 10 minutes – Noodles – In a larger pot, boil salted water, add noodles and cook al dente – Sauce – in a separate pan, heat the sauce and add the meatballs to finish cooking. Add the al dente noodles and continue cooking on low heat for about 3 more minutes. Use a fork or tongs to twirl noodles on. Plate meatballs and pasta. Shave the Pecorino cheese on top of the plated pasta and add some chopped parsley. 

After submitting this particular recipe, we received an almost immediate response from producers asking if there was a way to get rid of certain ingredients? Like the butter, cheese and breadcrumbs which we knew were not so healthy additions to our meatballs… We knew there was a way! After a few different try’s we sent this…

“Hi everyone, we’ve tried some new variations of the our Turkey Meatballs and landed on this iteration… in lieu of the breadcrumbs and butter we used roasted cauliflower and a couple eggs. Instead of the softened butter we used eggs plural. But, we think we could have gotten away with only one egg, and if you are making this recipe try it with one egg only! Oh, and no cheese at all, and use zucchini noodles instead of the spaghetti noodles”.

In retrospect, my email response could have been a little better put together and not so scattered, but you have to understand we were meat-balled out by then. After they got our notes, they asked if I could send the new recipe… I forgot to send the recipe, HA!

Anyhow, after laughing off my previous blunder(s), they got the recipe.

The new recipe is… 

  • 2 lbs 93/7 Lean Ground Turkey
  • 1 cup Chopped Organic Spinach
  • 1 cup Riced and Roasted Cauliflower – preheat oven to 400 degrees, chop or use a food processor to dice the cauliflower (stock removed) fold in a tbsp of olive oil and a tsp of salt, cover a sheet tray or pan with foil and lay the cauliflower flat, roast for about 25 mins, remove from oven and let cool.
  • 1 large Egg
  • 1 tbsp of Kosher Salt
  • 2 tsp Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Minced Garlic 
  • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil – This is only to coat the pan. 

It’s the same preparation as the last, but instead of the breadcrumbs and butter you will add the riced and roasted cauliflower. After mixing the ingredients well they go into the oven at 375 for 15 mins. The lower temp and longer time allow for the cauliflower and egg to firm.

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The best around!

Ultimately we were still asked on the show. With the initial challenge of making our meatballs healthier by eliminating and replacing certain ingredients, we learned a great deal and were able to flex our creative muscles to make them work. The roasted cauliflower and egg was a genius idea that proved to successfully bind the ingredients as well if not better than the breadcrumbs and butter.

Hopefully the ingredients, prep and cooking descriptions are workable for you. If there are any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out! We love hearing from you!

We had a lovely time working with the team @TheDoctors. Hopefully we can bring some more of our creations to them and you!

We are looking forward to a continued great 2020! We will be launching a line of breakfast bars, jams, jellies and preserves in the next month. They will be available online! Stay Tuned!

Homemade Tortillas: Making the Best of Our Tortilla Fail

We began our Cinco prep on Thursday, Quatro de Mayo (May 4th) as a way to teach Kaia about the meaning of Cinco de Mayo… and also make some amazing homemade tortillas for Carnitas Tacos, because Kaia is usually a really good tortilla chef. Cinco, in general, has become another good time holiday, but we wanted to honor Mexican traditions.

We have made flour tortillas before, and they were AMAZING! This time we wanted to explore corn tortillas. The main ingredient, Masa Harina, can be purchased in the your local supermarket. The package specifically instructs that you use tortilla press. The tortilla press flattens the dough into a very thin layer of corn tortilla delicious-ness. Sometimes, when the instructions specify a tool, we follow our Daddy Daughter Cooking mantra of working with what we’ve got, and sometimes you should just follow the actual instructions.

We recently got rid of our butcher-block table, which was large enough to roll out our doughs (pasta and others) when we cook together. In this case it would be have been a great replacement for the tortilla press. Instead we used a small butcher-block cutting board placed on the counter and one of our Calphalon soup pots. The soup pot is about 6 inches wide, and with some applied pressure becomes a great press… or so we thought.

Kaia was standing on her stool so she was able to apply more downward pressure. Physics in the kitchen, who knew?! This action was necessary to flatten the mix to a very thin layer. This is the same thing that a tortilla press would do. Only in our case, the tortilla mix stuck to both the pot and the cutting-board.

I became very frustrated, we must have tried 15 of them. After failing 15 times, we started oiling the bottom of the pan and wrapped the cutting board with parchment paper. We thought this would do the trick, but I was still pulling my hair out, and Kaia thinks its funny!

The use of the paper and oiled pan only worked about every other time. Still frustrated, we used every other tortilla.

At this point, I’m reaching my maximum frustration level. I’m standing in the kitchen wondering if anyone in the world has ever been through something as ridiculously silly as this…  I mean, I am literally about to scream and my loving daughter is just giggling.

So what do you do in this situation? You go into the bedroom, and curse the shit out of a big fluffy pillow. Friendly reminder, while jumping around in this fit of joy, make sure the bedroom door is closed. I don’t need my kiddo to see me lose my cool – it would really affect how awesome she thinks I am. Especially not over something as ridiculous as not being able to get tortillas right!

As a single Dad, I do not retreat into the bedroom as often as I should to hide my frustrations. In that moment, I also realized that today’s issues were not just about the tortillas. Life deals us some tough stuff to handle, and today was just “one of those days.” I find cooking with my daughter is one of my greatest getaways, my own personal in-home therapy, if you will.

I returned from my adult temper tantrum, flushed and slightly embarrassed. Kaia stood in the kitchen, in all of her innocence, lightly oiling one of our sauté pans and somewhat smugly said “Dad, these are very delicate, be careful!” I think in total we had about 5 tortillas that actually held together long enough to feel like we had made tortillas, but all-in-all they were pretty much unusable. I wanted to throw in the towel, clean up the kitchen and head to bed early. Instead, we brainstormed how we could use our delicious unfoldable tortillas and the carnitas that we prepped for Cinco the next day.

On the morning of Cinco de Mayo, Kaia and I successfully made some of the best chilaquiles we’ve ever had. When your tortillas don’t fold, you make chilaquiles! ; )

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A couple days later, Kaia actually referenced us making lemonade out of lemons. I have to believe that this came from making the best of our tortilla fail.

Daddy Daughter Cooking is not always successful in our endeavors. The point is that we can try. And in trying, we learned. In this case, we learned what not to do, and how not to do it… Despite my frustrations, we had fun and learned together.

Later in the day Daddy did make some tacos with some street corn and grilled jalapeno. And thanks to my pillow therapy, I managed to make 2 of the tortillas fold enough for said tacos…  Lemonade from lemons!

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Thanks again for following us, we really enjoy sharing our journey with you. Have any of your tried to make tortillas from scratch? Did you fail or succeed? We would love any tips and tricks as we will definitely try tortillas again.

Cinco de Mayo: Tacos y Tortillas

Cinco de Mayo is a fun day to be living in LA. A lot of people go out to celebrate, making the bar and restaurant scene really crazy. I sometimes think that Cinco in LA is similar to being in Boston for St. Patrick’s Day. Unfortunately, this Mexican holiday has also turned into a just another day to go out drinking, and few people know what the holiday actually means.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone refer to Cinco de Mayo as a celebration of Mexican Independence, which is just silly! When Kaia and I set out to make dinner celebrating Cinco, I wanted to make sure she knew why we would celebrate. The day is a celebration of the Mexico winning the Franco/Mexican Battle at Puebla. The biggest celebrations occur in Puebla Mexico (where the battle took place). It is NOT to celebrate Mexican Independence – Mexico had already won their independence from Spain.

Kaia and I have plans to travel – we want to further explore the relationships between family and food in other parts of the world. I want to share other food experiences with Kaia and let begin to understand how other cultures pair family and food. Unless someone out there wants to start sending us on new journeys, we will have to do it from afar and stick to our local  adventures.

Okay, let’s get down to cooking. I don’t want to brag (I’m going to anyhow), but Kaia is an amazing tortilla maker! Sure, we could buy tortillas already made at the store, but I thought it would be really fun if we could make them together and talk about what Cinco really means.

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We don’t have a tortilla press, but that’s okay! One of our mantras is to use what we have and see if we can make it work, and work it did! To replace the tortillas press, Kaia used the bottom of one of our Calphalon pans.

Because the battle happened in Puebla and now the biggest celebrations in Mexico happen in Puebla, we wanted to make something that was relative to the food you might eat in Puebla.

Puebla-style food traditionally uses a lot of mole sauces. Mole, when made correctly, is really labor intensive and the process has a lot of steps. I love enchiladas with mole, but Kaia and I didn’t have the time to make a traditional mole. Plus Kaia has recently developed this weird complex about enchiladas. This is the only time I have ever questioned whether or not she is my child. And what’s more, there’s absolutely no reason she doesn’t like them… She just doesn’t. And so enchiladas were out.

Mexico, with its rich history, may very well be the first place that street food was offered. The pre-Colombian era in Mexico saw food vendors outside of the pyramids serving up some tacos. I love street food, from anywhere in the world, but there is something really special and absolutely delicious about street tacos. And Kaia doesn’t currently have a weird complex about street tacos so we decided to make homemade tortillas and carnitas tacos!

I scooped Kaia from school yesterday and we headed over to Ralphs Grocery Store. Here is what we picked up:

  • 5lbs. Bone-in Pork shoulder – This was on sale at 50% off – $11.08
  • 2 Jalapeno’s – 1 of these was quartered and added to the meat for a little zip, the other is for some added zip to the salsa – $0.32
  • 3lb. bag of Maza Harina – This was also on sale for $2.99
  • 6 Tomatillo Chiles – To be used for a traditional green salsa – $1.67
  • 1 White onion – For the salsa – $2.15

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I haven’t made homemade tortillas in a long time so it’s was kind of a crapshoot how they would turn out. I’m trying to teach Kaia that the more we try new things, the better we will get (if not the first time we try something, we can only stand to improve on that experience, right?). I realize that’s a DUH sort of statement, but it couldn’t be more true. Spending this time teaching, working and learning with my daughter is the best thing I think I can do with my time.

We strive to share these moments with you. Our hope is that you take and share similar experiences with your loved ones.

When we got home, we each had some work to do. Kaia had her actual homework and I got to work on breaking down the protein. I also had her do some additional homework to learn more about Cinco de Mayo. It’s really important to me that she continue to be hungry for information and continues to educated herself.

I’m trying to show her that fact checking is important. Not everything you are told or read is wrong, but being sure that it’s right is always a good idea. You don’t want to be the person that has to backtrack on something you said. Just ask anyone that knows me, I’ve never been wrong. ; )

I know this blog is going to post on Cinco, but today is actually the 4th (Cuatro) de Mayo and we are prepping our food for tomorrow. You will be reading this on the 5th…Oh boy, now I’m confused! Let’s just go with it. You try to keep up and so will I.

While Kaia studied, I removed the bone from the pork shoulder (if you ever hear it called pork butt, it is the same thing. “Pork Butt” from the proper name “Boston Butt” is cut from the shoulder). I was technically butchering, but this word usually scares people off. It’s not scary at all, it only took about 30 seconds to get the bone out. Then I cut the meat into roughly 2-inch cubes.

  1. Get your tools setup: you’ll need a pan with a rack. (to make clean-up easier, line the pan with aluminum foil).
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  3. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper
  4. Cut a quarter of the white onion into long strips
  5. Quarter one of the jalapenos. If you want spicier, keep the seeds. Less spicy, cut the seeds out.
  6. Place the pork onto the rack and top with onion and jalapeno
  7. Add about a cup of water to the pan below the rack (if you have some liquid smoke I would add some as well. It is not necessary, but it adds a nice element to the meat.)
  8. Cover the whole pan with aluminum foil and place into the oven for 2 hours
  9. Remove the foil cover and take the rack out of the pan, leaving the meat by itself in its own juices with the onion and jalapeno
  10. Raise the temperature in the oven to 400 and place the pan back in there for an hour
  11. Once finished, pull the pork apart (it should just come apart) and put into a bowl to refrigerate until tomorrow… you can do this and eat the same day.

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Kaia packed her homemade tortillas and carnitas to take for lunch today. I plan to make mine for lunch right after I send out this blog post.

We hope you enjoy your Cinco celebration as much as we’ll be enjoying our carnitas tacos and homemade tortillas today!

Spring Means Sandwiches: French Dip Philly Cheesesteak

As the temperature gets warmer and the sun is shining longer, Kaia and I have been getting excited by this incredible spring (in Southern California it feels more like summer with temps in the high 70’s/low 80’s). With the warmer weather we have been on a sandwich kick, so last night we decided to explore a modified Philly Cheesesteak.

Our Philly Cheesesteak took a French dip turn for the best and we are so excited to share it with you!

Trust us when we say that this sandwich, or more aptly titled huge-wich, is not for the faint of heart. We typically try to eat healthy, but in this case we were just craving a gigantic, gut buster of a sandwich. In my professional life, I invested in a small chain of New York style deli’s, mostly because I LOVE DELI SANDWICHES… A lot of everything all wrapped up in one cored-out bread exterior.

I hadn’t had a sandwich like this in quite some time. Kaia said “I am just excited about the meat and cheese!” There was a devilish giggle that followed. In parenthood, we often have those “fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree” moments, and this was one of them. She is her father’s daughter, through and through. The bread didn’t matter to her, but it gave me an idea: we’d use the juices from the meat to create a type of Au Jus for the thick French loaf to soak up.

French Dip Philly Cheesesteak for 2 – This sandwich epitomizes GLUTTONY!

– 1 lb. thinly sliced chuck roast
- Buy the roast raw and we’ll tell you how to cook it below (it’s super easy!). Parents, use your sharpest kitchen knife to slice the raw chuck roast thin. This is generally a tougher meat, and you’ll want to handle this part. Have the kids put the meat into a bowl or on a plate to be seasoned – season with salt and pepper, set aside.

– 1 green bell pepper – Quarter the pepper, and then remove the white stuff holding the seeds and the seeds. Here’s a cautionary tale: I once sliced the tip of my middle finger off cutting bell peppers. Slicing bell peppers on the skin side is a bad idea. Once quartered, lay the pieces flat on your cutting board and slice them skin side down.

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– 1 white onion – Remove the outer layers and slice off the top and bottom. Cut the onion in half, then in half again. Do this from top to bottom. The goal is to get strips of onion, not rings. Use the quartered pieces and slice away. Once you are done slicing add them to pile of peppers.

– 1 loaf french bread
 – Cut down the center of the loaf to create a big mouth for the yummy ingredients, but keeping one side intact (like a hot dog bun). Have the kiddo’s pull out some of the bread from inside to help make a shell for those yummy ingredients.

– 1/4 lb. Provolone cheese
 – surprisingly getting the cheese sliced at the deli ends up being more bang for your buck. Comparatively speaking, the cheese that is pre-packaged tends to be more expensive and a lesser amount than getting it in the deli section. The deli section cheese is also fresher, and we think it tastes better. Wherever you get the provolone, it should be sliced.

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As promised, the cooking process is really simple and easy. Kaia and I started by turning on the oven to 425 degrees. Make sure there is a rack in the center of the oven. Have the kiddo grab a saucepan or a cast iron pan. The cast iron pan is one of our fav’s and the pan helps keep the most flavor in the meat and veggies. Other than some tongs you really don’t need any other tools to complete this gluttonous meal for 2 to 4 people.

Heat the pan to a medium temp. Add about 1 tbsp of olive oil or unsalted butter. Add the veggies (peppers and onions) and sprinkle them with a tiny bit of salt and pepper. Sautee these gems until the onions become a little translucent.

Add the thinly sliced meat to the same pan. Mix everything together and cover. You can play it by ear, but Kaia likes to turn the heat down slightly “so it doesn’t overcook, Daddy.” Sometimes she directs me in the kitchen and I oblige. We don’t always have the proper lid so we just use aluminum foil as a cover. Cook the meat, onion, and peppers between 6 and 8 minutes, mixing occasionally.

During that period of cook time lay the cheese on both sides of the bread loaf. Be sure to keep 2 or 3 slices set aside for topping on the meat for each sandwich. Put the cheese-covered loaf in the oven. Be sure to keep an eye on it, you only want to melt the cheese.

Kaia grabbed the tongs and cutting board. She used the tongs to grab the bread from the oven and slide it on the cutting board.

I pulled the lid off the meat and veggies and mixed one last time. I used the tongs to load up the bread loaf with the tasty delights from the pan. Kaia put the leftover cheese evenly over the meat and we slid it back in the oven for about 3 minutes. To create our Au Jus we strained the juices from the pan into ramekins (aka small cups) for your dipping pleasure.

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BOOM! Another gluttonous sandwich at our fingertips.

Enjoy! We sure did!

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The Cu-Banh-Mi: A Mash Up of Cuban and Vietnamese Food Culture

Kaia and I are slowly making our way into more culturally based cooking themes. In this case we chose to do a mash-up of 2 wildly different cultures: Cuban and Vietnamese.

Cuban food has influences from Spain, parts of Africa and the French. The French may be the only real food connection between Cuba and Vietnam. Vietnamese food is the second part of our mash-up. There are some French influences in Vietnamese food, but I’ve always found it interesting that Vietnamese food includes five types of nutrients: powder, water or liquid, mineral elements, protein, and fat. We love the history and cultural influences on both Cuban and Vietnamese cuisine… and also, who doesn’t love a great sammie?

So this week we created a mash-up of two famous sandwiches from each cuisine: the Cubano and the Pork Belly Banh Mi to create our Cu-Banh-Mi. (pronounced Cue-Bon-Mee)

The Cubano sandwich is traditionally made on Cuban bread with cooked ham (sliced), roasted pork (sliced), Swiss cheese (sliced), dill pickle planks, mustard and/or mayo. Sounds delicious, right?

The Banh-Mi is a sandwich made with a meat protein of your choice, pickled veggies, cilantro, pepper and sliced cucumbers on a French baguette. Banh means bread and Mi means wheat in Vietnamese. So the translation is Wheat Bread.

We are big on sandwiches (as you might remember from our beets and grilled post), and not just any sandwiches, but we’re BIG on BIG ol’ sandwiches. So we combined two of our favorites into one big monster sammich!

We shopped at our local Whole Foods this week on the way home from Kaia’s school.

Our shopping list included:

  • 2 lbs of Pork Belly – $5.99 an lb
  • 2 organic cucumbers – $1.49 each
  • 1 Jar of pickle planks – $3.99
  • 1 Diakon – $1.29 an lb
  • 1 Jalapeno – $0.21
  • 1 bag of baby carrots – $1.99
  • 1 Baguette – $2.49

We already had white wine vinegar, sugar, cilantro and seasonings at home for pickling. If you plan on pickling your veggies I would suggest grabbing these ingredients as well. This happens to be one of Kaia’s favorite pastimes… she loves her science and the first time we pickled something it was like a big kitchen science experiment to her. I love that she enjoys the kitchen as much as I do – I’m one lucky Papa! You might be surprised when your kids love this too. We are all about creating a bonding experience and hope that the tools to do so are in our writing.

With our ingredients ready, we are now ready to cook:

Kaia turned on the oven to a temp of 450 degrees to preheat. Then she got out the aluminum foil and lined one of our baking sheets (cookie sheet). I opened up the pork belly and rubbed it with some brown sugar, salt and pepper. The brown sugar sweetens and adds color to the belly in the oven. We had 2 pieces that we placed on the sheet, fat side up. We’ll cook it at 450 degrees for 25 minutes.

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Using this “high heat” (450 degrees for the first 25 minutes) approach will render the fat from the top portion of the pork, creating a crispy top layer to the belly. After the first 25 minutes, lower the temp of the oven to 375. Cook for another 35 to 40 minutes. If this is your first time with a pork belly, and you have any questions about whether or not it’s done the internal temp should read 165 degrees on your thermometer. Once done in the oven, remove the pork belly from the baking sheet and wrap in aluminum foil. Place in the fridge for an hour. Keep the oven on, you’ll use it again soon!

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For safety purposes I deal with the knife cuts. In this case it’s to cut the daikon, carrots and jalapeno (deseeded) into what we, cooks, refer to as julienned (2 inches long and 1/8 inch around). Julienned veggies should be similar in size to thick toothpicks. If you can’t get the cut that thin without slicing your fingertips off, do your best – the cutting skills only come with A LOT of practice over time (and I’ve had a lot of practice in the kitchen and a few slices to the index finger).

Have the kiddo’s make the pickling liquid, combine and mix: ½ cup of water, ¼ cup of sugar, 1 cup of white wine vinegar. Add the veggies and coat them in the pickling fluid. Place in the fridge next to the belly.

The kids can also have fun with the mayo/mustard mix. It’s as simple as it sounds – ½ cup of mayo and ¼ cup of mustard with about 1 tsp of red chile flake. Mix it well and put it in the fridge.

Slice your baguette length-wise from tip to tip. Spread the bread open and add some melted butter or olive oil. Place the bread in the oven face up and toast it. After removing the bread from the oven set it aside.

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Have the kiddo’s grab all the other ingredients from the fridge. Open up the pork belly and slice ¼ inch to ½ inch pieces (In lieu of using the traditional cubano cooked ham and roasted pork we are going with larger slices of the pork belly). Get a sauté pan and get it to medium heat with some oil or butter. There is really no difference between the oil or butter, this is simply to keep the unrendered fat on the belly from sticking to the pan. Lay flat the pork belly and heat in pan.

While I did this, Kaia was smearing the bread with our mayo/mustard mixture and placing the pickle planks on the bottom part of the bread.

You can then start placing the heated pork belly on top of the pickle planks. Followed by the pickled veggies, sliced cucumber and cilantro. Make sure your kidlets have put the mayo/mustard spread on the top of the bread as well. Silly kids sometimes need further coaching (wink wink).

Watch the video here.

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Once complete, we cut our monster Cu-Banh-Mi sandwiches, plated ‘em up, and enjoyed these tasty delights!

Squid Salad

Let us begin by saying that WE love, love, love, squid and octopus, oysters, mussels and clams alike. That’s right folks, Kaia loves her seafood too…

We knew we were in for a treat when we added some squid and romanesco broccoli to a salad. From the lack of response on our last shopping list post I’m guessing that SQUID is not a fav amongst many of you. We are sorry you feel that way.

Each week you should expect something different from Daddy Daughter Cooking. We are going to continue challenging ourselves, while purchasing on a budget. We will continue to put our own twist on already existing recipes. Fact is, we are going to get to the same place; it’s now about how we get there.

This week, this is how we got there:

We started by slicing our squid into halves. I handled the slicing, and then Kaia rinsed and dried the squid. In our video (watch it here) you may notice I get a little upset with the way Kaia was initially drying the squid.

I wanted to blame my irritability on my ankle/foot injury. And I could blame it on my injury, but making excuses for losing my cool with Kaia does not make it any less confusing for my lil munchkin. I am not a perfect dad or person for that matter, but I do my best to teach her, coach her and will ALWAYS let her know that I love her unconditionally.

In reality, what I should have done was explain what I expected of her. Then had her express what and how she intended on handling her tasks. I am constantly learning to be a better dad and person, because of my child.

Showing the importance of communication between parent(s) and child(ren) is one of the reasons we started Daddy Daughter Cooking and we want to continue to encourage learning from one another through communication. In this situation, I should have taken a moment, and maybe rested a bit before getting into our cooking.  

On a happy note we did accomplish making quite a delicious salad.

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Tools/Utensils:

  • 1 large pot – the pot is going to be filled with about a half inch of water
  • 1 large strainer – the strainer has double-duty; first to be used to rinse and dry the squid, secondly to be placed in the pot with the squid still in it.  This will be what we steam the squid in
  • Whisk – to whisk the salad dressing
  • 1 large plastic or metal bowl – to chill all the ingredients for about an hour before serving
  • Kitchen knife
  • Cutting Board

We tend to get creative with both our food and what tools we need to make what we want to eat. More often than not, we don’t have all the necessary tools in our kitchen. So we put on our MacGyver hats and figure out a way to make things happen.

In this instance, we had to create a steamer for the squid. We used a pot large enough to accommodate our strainer.  

Kaia filled the pot with about a ½ inch of water and cranked the heat up so we can get to a boil as quickly as possible. I placed the strainer into the pot. When I refer to a strainer, I’m talking the biggest one you can find.

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The pot should create enough steam to soften the squid. Steam for 2 to 4 minutes, but no longer. Squid can quickly overcook. They can turn into something similar to those bouncy balls you buy from 25 cent machines (like old-school gumball machines at the grocery store). Side note: I can’t remember the last time I saw one of those machines out here in LA LA Land.

Back to the squid… Once steamed, run cold water over the squid to stop the cooking and set aside.

Next I cut the smallest dice of tomato possible. I am usually the one that handles it because tomatoes are slippery and it’s still a little dangerous for Kaia to cut them. I would prefer to be the one that ends up with an unintentional slice into my index finger; it’s also great practice for the parents if you don’t often make small knife cuts.

You will want to do the same with red onion (Fun Fact: red onion helps with circulation). Small little squares. The idea is to keep the size of veggies as close to one another as possible.

Capers are these delightful little salty, tasty green morsels. They can be found at almost any grocer. You can purchase them in the canned goods section of the grocery or in the preserved pickle aisle in the store (pickles are generally in 2 places: 1) near the hot dogs or 2) near the mustard and ketchup). They are awesome with fish, fried or raw. For this dish we drained the water from the jar, and added them to the mix dried and raw. You want to avoid adding any of the juice, so that you do not over salt the entire dish. The capers were not on our shopping list, but we had some at home and thought they would be a nice touch.

You will need about 1/3 cups of olive oil to be whisked with 2 tbsp’s of freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Break down the Romanesco Broccoli into smaller pieces. Just like you would a cauliflower or broccoli head. They are pretty tough so Kaia and I went to town on tearing the head apart.

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Once you have everything whisked and mixed together, chill it in for about an hour. You should cover it, but it’s not absolutely necessary. Especially if you are like us and can’t find all the lids to all of our bowls. Our lids seem to run to same place as that one sock per laundry load goes… who the heck knows where, but I hope they’re having a nice time together!

Near the end of the salad’s hour of chilling in the fridge, we pulled out our fresh, spicy arugula. Kaia pulled our plates from the cabinet and we began to do just that, “Plate.” Plating is a term used in kitchens. It’s the act of placing the food, very pretty-like, onto the plate. 😉 Anyhow, once the arugula is on the plate, awaiting all the other delicious salad fixins, give one last whisk to the mix in the bowl. Use a large spoon to add the mix on top of the arugula.

Finally we crushed up some cashews to add more texture to our plate. A little crunch goes a long way. All in all, Squid Salad was a major success. As gross as squid looks when you buy it at the store, it is delicious!

Please continue to follow us on our journey. Thanks and we’ll see you all again next week!

Healthy Campfire Cooking with Kaia

Hello everybody! It’s Kaia for the first time.

To me it is very difficult to eat healthy while camping, because lots of healthy foods need cooling. You can’t really bring ice in a cooler or it will melt and you also can’t really bring a mini fridge camping can you?! Another reason why it is hard to eat healthy while camping is because it is hard to find healthy snacks. Cooking and eating while camping are very hard. For instance, cooking big healthy meals can take a long time and you might not have all of the ingredients. You usually eat what you have and you might not have anything healthy to eat and the store is far away.

The reality of trying to eat healthy while camping is hard and probably won’t happen. When my dad and I went on a vegetarian diet for a week, it didn’t happen. We ate meat. What we eat while camping can be very bad for you because eating too much of anything is bad!

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My dad and I make a lot of food and come up with a lot of recipes. While camping I made a dessert recipe. I put a Twinkie inside of marshmallows and chocolate with crumbled graham crackers. Then I wrapped up all of it in a sweet dough and grilled it! This is not healthy, but it was delicious.

I know that many people can use more effort to eat healthy while camping. I’m sure in the future we can pack a lot of healthier things like potatoes, apples, and corn, instead of potato chips we can have kale chips.  

Kid Tip:

If you live with someone that does not eat that healthy and they like potato chips, you can open the bag of potato chips take the potato chips out. Next, put the kale chips in and reseal it (to make kale chips pop some kale in the oven and add salt).

Seafood Salad: A Hobbled Story!

Squid might not be the first item on your shopping list, I can promise that if you give it a shot you won’t be disappointed!

On a weekly basis Kaia and I attempt creating new things based on already existing dishes, while putting our own twist on things.

The idea for our seafood salad came from, get ready for it: a squid salad recipe.

We wanted something light, still carrying some protein. We thought fish or seafood would be a great protein to incorporate. I felt our diet had been lacking greens, so we went in the direction of a seafood salad.

Kaia and I headed out to our relatively local Whole Foods. As you know we’ve shopped on a budget, but if you’re smart in your purchases Whole Foods can be budget friendly. Recently I injured my foot and ankle, and it was throbbing inside my walking cast on the way to the store.

Kaia suggested some oysters to add to our seafood shopping list. She wanted to practice her shucking skills, and boy does she have talent as an oyster shucker! In culinary school my Chef Instructor suggested singing some Barry White while shucking (think South Park, and you’ll get in a good laugh). Trying to explain Barry White to a 10-year-old is just not going to happen for 2 reasons: 1. Barry is bedroom music, and 2. Kaia is fricken’ 10!

My foot was in trouble (because it’s injured, and also) due to my unwillingness to accept that I am aging. Plus, we are livin’ la vida loca! Sometimes you’ve just gotta roll with the punches, or in my case torn ligaments. Either way, I was in pain as we walked (no dancing today) through the Whole Foods. As a parent, it’s not always easy to “keep your cool,” but I try my best when it comes to Kaia.

Whole Foods, as you might have experienced, tends to be a little on the higher cost side of grocery shopping. We have learned that if we price compare, it ends up costing about as much as Ralphs and is usually the best quality.

On this excursion, rather than buying a $35/pound Chilean Sea Bass, we sauntered down the seafood aisle (rather, I hobbled). We happened upon octopus and squid. We had cooked octopus before (more than a couple times), and as far as we were concerned Daddy Daughter Cooking had already been there and done that. We decided to move on further down that aisle.

When we saw it, we knew we had to have it. That is to say, we were grabbed by the tentacles… squid tentacles! Kaia walked up to the counter, and said, “just the tentacles please!” I can only imagine what she must look and sound like to the person behind the counter. She can’t even see over the counter. In fact she needs to take a few steps back just so they can see her. She’s so cute… She loves talking to all the fun people that help us in the store. These shopping adventures are made fun by the kiddo’s interaction with others, especially those folks in the know. 

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One of the greatest things Daddy Daughter Cooking wants to highlight and encourage is learning by tracking down these different ingredients. Kaia and I spend a lot of time talking to people that work and sell specialty (and normal) food products in the grocery store, farmers market, and anywhere else we can find food. This is how we learn about how to buy food items. Truth be told, I have even learned a few new tricks for cooking things differently (that I didn’t learn in culinary school). This practice of asking questions and learning has become an integral part of what we do. We genuinely hope you follow suit. There is empowerment in understanding.

Back to the shopping. Once we had the tentacles and oysters in hand, we stopped by the veggie aisle. We didn’t start in this section today, because we needed to know what our protein would be for the salad before we picked out veggies. We decided romanesco broccoli, tomato, red onion and a lemon would compliment the little danglies.

Here’s the final list:

1 head of Romanesco Broccoli – this product is so cool, its color is that of a sun-faded broccoli combined with some cauliflower. It’s surprisingly versatile. You can sauté, blanch, boil, or bake them – $3.67

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6 Roma Tomatoes – we love these and use them all the time – $1.77
1 Red Onion – these gems are great for circulation and amazing on salads and a staple in Greek cooking – $0.92
1 Lemon – another extraordinarily versatile item.  In this case we intend on using it for our vinaigrette – $0.69
1 lb. Squid (Tentacles Only) – boys love gross looking things and girls have stronger stomachs… Adults hide your fears, and try to remain strong! – $8.99

Check back with us later in the week to see what we came up with…  Thanks!

Chopping on the Cheap, with a Little Help from Friends

Our initial shopping day was Monday last week, and we needed to make dinner…  After returning home from the grocery store, we dove right into cooking. We had worked up quite the appetite after our dance through Ralphs.

As soon as we cascaded through our front door I asked Kaia to turn on the oven. I grabbed the Vitamix – this is an incredible machine. It’s like a bullet blender, but a thousand times better.

We have an electric stove and oven that, for some reason, doesn’t hold the temp or remain consistent throughout cooking. I think it has less to do with the oven, and possibly more to do with Kaia opening the oven door every 30 seconds while something is cooking. I’m guessing your kids have that same heightened anticipation while waiting for the object in the oven to become edible! I almost didn’t sign our lease due to the electric oven/stove conundrum, but alas here we were, and I had asked Kaia to turn the oven to a higher temp than necessary so it would cook properly.

I was thinking chips and salsa, some rice and our tri-tip on the fly! As I mentioned, we were so hungry by the time we started cooking. Kaia and I talked it over and she concurred. This would be the fastest way we could feed our hungry faces.

With the oven heating and the Vitamix out, we grabbed our ingredients…

  • Tri-tip roast: seasoned with our home mixed dry rub and some liquid smoke, we wrapped it in tinfoil and tossed in the oven at 300 degrees for 45 mins
  • 5 roma tomatoes: combined these in the Vitamix with some shallots, garden fresh cilantro, jalapeno, fresh garlic and salt

**The above are things we purchased this week, the below are items we already had at home…  Remember we try to always work with what we’ve got!

  • Corn tortillas: we brought a pan of oil up to about 450 degrees and fried the tortillas
  • Basmati Rice: not really a traditional rice to go with a beef roast, salsa and tortilla chips; but we added some of our fresh cilantro and shallots to rice and allowed them to work their flavors in.

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Fast-forward to Wednesday and three meals were already consumed. Kaia and I made our way across town to her Godfather’s place. His name is Miki (pronounced like Mickey Mouse) and coincidentally he is also my bestie. He’s an amazing guy with an incredible family of his own. He has 2 kids under the age of 2, and a very patient fiancé. His brother, whom is also one of my dear friends, happened to be babysitting a 6 year-old named Max.

So our count was a little higher than usual…. we were up to 4 adults, 1 pre-teen, 1 first grader, 1 toddler, and an infant… by my count that’s a 7.5-er on the food-consumption-o-meter. Our group epitomizes the modern families that we see grace the small screen today. Every one of our stories is different, but those differences are what make us all alike. Miki is a camera operator and photographer. We had set up this date to shoot some food photos.

As our time together sometimes does, our evening turned into a family dinner for everyone. Kaia and I still had a number of our veggies from the initial purchase this week. Those coupled with some other things around our house from weeks prior made for a great shoot (for this blog!). After we talked about what Kaia and I could bring, Kila, Miki’s brother, decided to pick up some protein. A whole chicken and 2 extra chicken breasts were bought and paid for and BOOM! We had a well-rounded dinner planned and ready to be enjoyed by our families.

First shots were of some very pretty veggies:

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Generally with these impromptu family dinners we fly by the seat of our pants; spontaneity sprinkled with love become our main ingredients. Kaia and I took a look at what we had.

Red Potatoes
Green Onions
Red Onions
Shallots
Sweet Peppers
Kale
Roma Tomatoes
Jalapeno

We knew that the kale needed to be eaten, as well as some of the potatoes. Both Kaia and I said HASH! …slow down pot-heads, we are talking potato hash! We used a cast- iron skillet to cook the diced potatoes and small chopped kale. The first thing we did was use olive oil on a paper towel to grease the pan. We added some brunoised shallots to sweat in the pan. Then we added our potatoes, followed later by the kale. The kids kept asking for more. They ate all of it!

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As parents, we know how difficult the “eat your veggies” conversation can sometimes be. If you are looking for something delicious to feed the kiddos, this potato hash is your jam!

Next we utilized the dehydrated spring mushrooms by adding about 2 cup of veggie stock to a small pot with the mushrooms. These would become the base for a mushroom cream sauce. We let these rehydrate while we broke down the whole chicken.

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Finally we got to the chicken in its now broken down state. The smaller pieces make it easier (and quicker) to cook: 8 pieces, plus the 2 additional breasts Kila brought along with the whole chicken. We preheated the oven to 400 degrees (not our oven, so this is the real cooking temp). The potato hash was removed from the cast-iron. This not only gave us a pan to cook on, but one that already had some great flavor already on it. That’s what we call a win-win!

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Our goal was to blacken the chicken with the skin still on. Kaia used a mortar (grinder) to create a powerful rub. After searing the chicken skin down for about 5 minutes we placed the skillets in the already pre-heated oven. Toss some of the green onions on the top of the chicken before putting them in the oven for added plate filler and flavor. 20 minutes in the oven is ample time for the chicken to cook through.

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It sometimes seems that the importance previously placed on family meals and time spent together has almost completely disappeared. At least that’s how it feels these days – insert sad face.

Daddy Daughter Cooking wants to help remind everyone about the importance of family socials. The cooking bonds that were once forged by trips to Grandma’s or by going to Mom and Dad’s for Sunday dinner is seemingly a lost art. We need these interactions. For Kaia and I this time spent together and memories that we continue to make are shaping our future.

Thanks to all for sticking around and following us on our journey. We hope that these recipes strike a chord with you!

Watch our video here!

Chopping on the Cheap, Budgeted Groceries with Creative Intent

New week, new shopping list! Our weeks usually begin in a flurry, spending a lot of time catching up from the week prior or being inundated with new happy-happy, joy-joy stuff. Sometimes it’s a new unexpected bill or a parking ticket (wink wink) because maybe you forgot to move the car for street cleaning… all on account of Sunday Funday becoming unmanageable. This isn’t the type of Sunday Funday I had in my 20s, but the day at the park that turned into a BBQ and then turned into a bowling night with Kaia and her two best friends. If you live in a larger city like we do, the likelihood is pretty strong that at some point you’ll get a parking ticket.

Anyhow this leads us to just one of many Monday things on our list, Chopping (and shopping) on the cheap, budgeted groceries with creative intent!

After picking Kaia up from school we headed directly to our local grocery Ralphs (They are a subsidiary company under the KROGER umbrella). I knew before we walked in that I had a limited budget of about $40. We were looking to maximize our spending.

I have always been upfront with my daughter about what we can afford, and not just in the food department. She has never gone without what she needs, but she understands that we can’t spend money on all the frivolous things we might want. That being said, I think she trusts me to always make it work… and she should.

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On our drive we discussed what we thought we can do on our $40 grocery budget for the week. Lots of roma tomato, fruits, and other veggie ideas came up. Produce is always a great place to start. We think it’s better to start with a veggie option and build the meals around them. The versatility of veggies and what is doable with them is far greater than that of meat.

We have turned our shopping into a dance. Think of the produce section as the introduction to a ballet and as you build to the crescendo we hit the meat and poultry counter. As we sauntered through the store, we notice different things that inspired our budgeted creativity. Our $40 needs to stretch for 4 dinners for 2, as well as some breakfast stuff. We also have some things like cream, spices, herbs and some mixed noodles (we sometimes like to make our own noodles so we wanted to pick up some semolina, the base grain, too).

This weeks shopping purchases:

  • 1 gallon of 2% milk – we like it better than whole milk on our cereal or in our oatmeal, and it’s less fat – $2.79
  • 1 bag of dehydrated organic spring mushrooms – to use for homemade cream of mushroom soup – $3.99
  • 1 large white onion – purchased to be used in a pasta sauce or even a salsa. Who doesn’t like chips and salsa? – $0.85
  • 1 bunch green onion – these can also be used in sauce, pasta, or salsa – $0.99
  • 1 large jalapeño – again this is something that could be used in our salsa or to spice up a sauce and/or soup – $0.21
  • 1.05 lbs broccoli (stalks on) – Kaia requested some broccoli, so we got some. My thoughts were that they could be used to make a broccoli cheddar soup (we have some leftover cheddar from our amazing grilled cheeses with beet greens) – $1.67
  • 2.42 lbs. roma tomatoes (about 12 tomatoes) – these were bought in bulk to be used in a number of different things. Tomato sauce, salsa, possibly a soup or a layer to some sammies – $3.61
  • 1.99 lbs. organic Chiquita bananas – for breakfast smoothies or just as a snack – $1.77
  • 2.05 lbs. of beef roast (tri-tip) – this item was on sale at nearly 50% off so we grabbed it… always have to be on the lookout for solid sale item. We cook this meat in a much shorter time period than BBQ masters. We do however have a way of doing it that emulates that of a 12 hour smoke – $12.76
  • 1 loaf french bread – just because we wanted some carbs to go along with all that we had – $1.59

Our total coupons or savings because that’s what we do, was $9.65. Our total expenses were $30.23. When all was said and done we still had some dollars left for treats we might want later in the week.

For additional savings, check out IBOTTA – it is awesome! Basically you have to scan the items your purchased using the barcode and your receipt. Here’s a referral link from me for the app. Its great for additional savings. For instance, we earned $2.75 from this trip alone. They will send a check or link it to your venmo account and you get paid when you have at least 20 bucks in your IBOTTA account.

Takeaway from this trip to the grocery store: Shopping on a budget is not such a daunting task. We have learned over time that most people in the stores are pretty gruff to begin with; meaning everyone is in a hurry, employees might not be as excited as we are, etc. It’s not a complaint, just an observation. Ultimately, our goal has been to make grocery shopping fun.

We try to put smiles on other people’s faces as we laugh and frolic through the store. We have very little shame in the store: You might occasionally hear me speaking loudly, calling for Kaia who may be 2 aisles over, or Kaia asking me if she has grabbed enough tomatoes, from across the veggie department.

The best suggestion I can give is to give less *insert bad word*. It’s a win/win: you will live longer and so will the kids… plus you may even keep your hair the same color a little longer. And for the Dads out there, you may even keep your hair on your head for a little while longer.

Keep following us, later in the week you will be able to see what awesomeness we came up with with these items plus a few others we already have in the fridge and cabinets at home.

Hope you all are having a great week. See ya soon!