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.

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!

Golden Beets Soup and Grilled Cheese Sammies: Recipe

Hopefully you’ve made it to the store with the shopping list. Now it’s the fun part: time to get cooking! It’s Tuesday night, and Kaia and I are ready to grill up some sammies and create this delicious beet soup!

Follow along with us in our video here.

We have our bunch (or bundle) of golden beets. There were 3 in the bunch, and they probably weighed 1 lb. each. That’s a pretty good amount of beets. They also came with their tops attached, those are the greens on top of the beets. The beet greens (tops) are great for a blanching… that’s cook talk for tossing the greens into boiling water for a quick bath, usually 2-3 minutes. We’ll talk about this later when we start making the sammies.

We cut the tops (greens) off of the beets, leaving about 3 inches of greens stocks attached to the beet itself (that will become part of the soup, we are adding some carrots later too). We set aside the greens for blanching.

I used a paring knife to clean up the beet tops. Then we set these aside while we prepared the soup base.

We wanted to create a delicious base for our soup. We started with a large pot on the stove over low heat. Before putting the beets in we added smashed Garlic (garlic from the already pre-shelled bags – parents should lay the garlic on a cutting board and use their knifes’ side to smash the bulbs), olive oil (1/4 cup to coat the pot), Shallots (should be a small dice in size) and a couple peppercorns to sweat in the pot.

After a couple minutes of letting those oils and flavors mingle over low heat, we added the chicken broth and Kaia turned up the heat to medium (with my supervision).

Kaia and I took this time to talk about her Girl Scout cookie sales. We still need to drop off a few last orders this week to my friends who ordered. She sold WAY more cookies this year than in years past, and we have been running around at least one night a week trying to get them all delivered.

Back to the soup! It’s time to get the beets and carrots ready. Wash them really well. Beets are an earthy flavored veggie, but you don’t want actual earth in your mouth or on the rest of your food. Once washed, Kaia started to peel the beets. She used a potato peeler to take the outer layer of skin off the beets. The beets need to be peeled like an apple. Baby carrots don’t need to be peeled, just washed.

Once peeled and cleaned, Kaia and I cut up the beets into similarly sized pieces, about 1.5 inch cubes. They will be different in shape. Don’t worry, this is normal and does not have to be exact. We halved the baby carrots so they cooked at the same speed as the beet cubes. Once the beets and carrots were cut Kaia added them to the now boiling soup base, also called soup stock.

We wanted the beets to be completely submerged so we added about 2 cups of water. Once the soup came to a boil, we lowered the heat to a simmer for about 25 minutes.  

While the soup simmered we got the grilled cheese fixings ready. We bought the cheese in a block (because it tastes better to us) so we needed to grate it for the sammies. Kaia takes care of the shredding in our kitchen – she thinks it’s fun! If shredding is not an option, parents can slice the cheese as thinly as possible so it melts easily.

A flat iron is preferred due to its size and gives the space to make more than one sandwich at a time. If you don’t have a flat iron (which is most people, including us) you will want to use a cast iron skillet or a large sauté pan. The skillet or sauté pan should be large enough to have 2 slices of bread lay flat with a little space between them.

We cooked our sammies on thick sliced bread (usually close to an inch thick). Kids put the cast iron skillet or sauté pan on the stove. Mom or dad (or adult) should turn the stove up to medium heat and let the pan get nice and hot. Make sure that you are communicating. There is nothing worse than a trip to the hospital on an empty stomach.  

While the grilled cheese pan is getting hot, we went back to check that the soup is simmering. Ours wasn’t, so we adjusted the heat accordingly.

We assume you knew going into this dinner that aside from the beets soup, this meal is not “light”. Butter, cheeses and bread are what make up the next component. These are three of my favorites, and I am pretty sure my daughter loves them too. Remember we are sticklers for moderation. Too much of anything can’t be good. The portion sizes given are bordering on gluttony. However, it’s okay to indulge once in awhile.

We added about 2 tablespoons of butter to the heated pan, one on each side of the pan for each slice of bread. The trick here is to wait for the butter to melt before putting the bread in the pan.

We flipped the bread a little under 2 minutes then added cheese evenly to both slices. This creates a nice crust so that the bread doesn’t deflate and get too oily. Have you used this trick before? By heating the bread on both sides before adding the cheese, it creates a nice warm place for the cheese to melt.

Once we added the cheese, we covered the soon-to-be delicious cheesy bread so it melts evenly.

While the cheese was getting melty, we put the beets and stock (the soup) into our blender. If you don’t have a blender, you can improvise a way to mash everything using a fork or spoon, spatula, hand blender, etc. You’ll probably need to cook the soup a bit longer than the suggested 25 minutes so that the beets are softer, since the goal is to create a smooth and even texture, like a puree (if it seems to thick for your soup preferences, just add a cup of water and mix again). Once pureed, set the soup aside.

Remember those beet greens we cut off the top of the beets? This is where they come in! We added some water to the same pot we had used for the soup and brought it to a boil. In the interest of time (we were hungry!) we chose not to rinse our soup pot. You can do the same, or leave it as is and simply add water.

Once the water was boiling, we tossed in the beet greens to blanch. This only takes about 2 minutes once the water is boiling. Remove them and add to cold water/ice bath. We used a bowl large enough to accommodate the size of the beet greens without folding them. The ice bath cools them quickly to stop the cooking.  

We pulled the top off of the grilled cheese pan. At this point, you should be seeing an even melt, from the outside of the bread into the center.

Kaia pulled the beet greens from the ice water bath and patted them dry.  

I lowered the heat on the pan before Kaia layered the greens on each piece of cheesy bread. Then with a spatula, I flipped one half onto the other and cooked as a stacked sandwich for about 2 minutes. I flipped and cooked for another 2 minutes. The cheese should be thoroughly melted with the beet greens looking pretty in the middle. We removed the sandwich from the pan and placed on a cutting board.  

We were getting close to the finish line and we were HUNGRY! Kaia grabbed plates and bowls. Kaia poured the soup into the bowls with a little guidance from me. The cheesy grilled sammies can be cut however you want them to be. We usually cut them into triangles, because we think they taste better in a triangle!

We hope you enjoy this very comforting meal, and most importantly the time you have spent together.

Watch our video here!

Recipe: Makes 4 Sammies, 4 bowls of soup

3lbs. – Golden Beets with greens still attached
1 Qt. – Chicken or Vegetable stock/broth
4oz. – Baby Carrots
6 – Garlic Bulbs
10 – Peppercorns
2 Tbsp. – Sea Salt
2 to 4 cups – Water
½ loaf – Thick-sliced bread
4 tbsp. – Unsalted Butter
8oz. – Gruyere Cheese
4oz. – Sharp cheddar
4oz. – Other Cheese (we suggest Swiss or provolone, but you can get wild here)

Utensils:

Large Sautee Pan
5 Quart pot for the soup
Spatula
Blender – without a blender, it will be tough to accomplish the even texture desired for the soup.  However, you can get close by cooking the beets longer and smashing them
Cheese Grater – if you do not have a grater, just slice the cheese as thin as possible
Spoon for tasting
2 cup measuring cup. If you do not have a measuring  cup of any size, use a pint glass is it equivalent to a 2 cups
8 inch kitchen knife
Paring knife, or small blade
Soup ladle
Tongs
Large Bowl

All recipes written to cook with instructions for ADULTS (A), KIDS (K), and BOTH (B).

GOLDEN BEET SOUP

A: Cut the greens from the top of the beets (leaving about 3 inches of stock attached to the beets). Set greens aside for sandwiches

K: Put a pot on for the beets, low heat

A: Add olive oil, smashed garlic, herbs, peppercorns to pot to sweat

A: Clean the tops of the beets with a paring knife

K: Peel the beets

A: Cut the beets and carrots into smaller pieces

K: Add the chicken (or vegetable) broth to the pot with the herbs and spices.

K: Turn up the heat to a medium-high temp (Adults please be sure to supervise).

A: Add the beets and carrots into the pot to boil

B: Make sure to monitor the level of the fluid in the soup and cover with the additional water so that the ingredients are submerged.

A: Bring to a boil

K: Cover and simmer about 25 mins.  If you do not have the blender or mixer be sure to cook for an additional 10 mins to soften the beets further.  This will make them a bit easier to mash and mix.

A: Pull your bowls out of the cupboard

K: Grab the soup ladle or big spoon to serve the soup

A: Remove the pot and help the kids ladle the soup into the bowls

GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES:

B: Put your pan on heat (medium heat is recommended)

A: Portion the butter into 4 individual tbsp pieces

K: Grab the bread and set them on the counter next to the stove

A: Add 1 tbsp of butter to the pan for each slice of bread

K: Grate the cheese

A: If you do not have a cheese grater slice the cheese as thin as possible

K: Put all the cheese onto a plate for easy access

K: Fill you measuring cup with 2 cups of water and pour into your empty soup pot. Bring water to a boil

A: Make sure your kids aren’t burning themselves

K: Fill a bowl with ice and water

A: Place the bread on top of the melting butter in the saute’ pan

K: Lay the large pieces of Beet greens into the boiling pot of water

A: Use tongs to remove the Beet greens after about 2 minutes and place them into the ice bath created by the kiddo’s

A: Flip the bread slices and add the desired amount of cheese to the browned side of the bread

K: Cover the pan with a lid or tinfoil if you do not have a lid that fits the large pan

K: Once you begin to see the cheese melting in the center of the bread slices lay the beet greens on two of the cheesy bread slices.

A: Flip the cheesy green bread onto its mirrored slice and center each of the sammies in the pan

A: Flip them one more time for even cooking and cover

B: They will not need more than a couple minutes to melt thoroughly so be ready with plates

B: Enjoy the heck out of the respectively healthy meal you have created together