My Tiny Squares
- Thai Red Curry
- Keto Fried Cauliflower Rice
- Amazing Keto Kung Pao Chicken
- Slow Cooker Paleo Pork Carnitas
- Paleo Slow Cooker Chocolate Chicken Mole
- Rhode Island – In The Rearview Mirror
- Rhode Island – Slowing Down A Blur
- Rhode Island – Beach, Boats, And Monty!
- Rhode Island – Foxwoods And Mystic Seaport
- Rhode Island!
Category Archives: Food
I’m sitting here at a coffee shop, kid-free and soaking up every minute. I ordered a coffee with almond milk, extra hot, in a to-go cup please because I don’t want it to cool down too fast. I want hot hot hot coffee while I sit and do whatever the heck I want for two hours.
If I let my mind wander it goes to all the undone chores, the loose ends, the fact that Christmas is in 21 days, (I just googled that) and all the things that have to be done by me, only me, and asap. But they can wait. I’m going to take some time for me. I hear the low murmuring around me, people leaning over their laptops and coffees, everyone quietly sipping and being Monday-morning-productive.
So this Thai food… I want to get it on my blog so I never lose it, but also I just want to feel my fingers fly across the keyboard. I miss writing!! I miss the creative part of it, the slow filling of an empty page with thoughts and words. This time of year is just so so busy. I need to slow down and hear this ‘click click click’ more.
Last weekend we had some dear friends over for dinner. Well, they came over for dinner but we didn’t end up eating because we had to rush to urgent care (sob!) The best thing about friends who are also parents is that they understand the crAziness that comes with having kids. Flexibility is key. Anything can change in a second and everyone just has to adapt and hope for the best.
But back to dinner: Our friends are vegetarians so I wanted to make something that they would like, and us too! I decided on a red curry. It’s such a versatile dish because you can throw in tofu, shrimp, chicken, veggies, whateves!
Brielle helped me chop the peppers with a little steak knife. I watched her closely and she was so careful.
Then she helped get the moisture out of the tofu. I’ve never cooked tofu before, but I assume the dryer the better before it’s cooked?
Then she helped tear the basil. Fresh delicious fragrant basil!
Brenden took the kids on a walk to get shrimp. Whole Foods is about two miles away by car but they hiked through the woods and had so much fun! Brenden sent me pics of their journey along the way. I was very impressed that M only asked to be held a few times. My babies are getting so big!
They came back tired and happy.
Time to make the meal:
2 cans coconut milk (15 oz cans)
3 tablespoons red curry past
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup bamboo shoots (I used from a can)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
4 teaspoons fish sauce
2/3 cup chicken stock
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
My plan was to have the curry sauce, rice and the proteins all in serving dishes. People could choose what protein they wanted and then add the sauce to the top, over the rice.
Cut the veggies, put in a bowl and set aside.
Put the coconut milk and red curry paste in a heavy pot or dutch oven. Simmer for five minutes.
Add the basil, bamboo, sugar and fish sauce, simmer for 10-15 minutes. I brought it to a boil and then lowered the heat and let it simmer.
While it’s simmering saute the veggies in some olive oil just until tender-crisp.
Then saute chicken breast, or shrimp, or tofu, or nothing! Just veggie red curry is amazing too.
That’s literally it. It’s the easiest meal ever, and the payoff is amazing.
Anyway, dinner was almost ready and smelled delish, our friends had just arrived, and we were sitting in the living room talking about how great it was to have playdates at this age, now that the kids can run off and play outside and we can actually finish a conversation and enjoy ourselves… and then from outside we hear “Wahhhhhh!!!!” and little messengers ran in to tell us that Brielle had fallen.
Play date ended. 🙁 The rest of our evening looked like this:
With lots of M trying to make Brielle laugh:
He is such a good little brother.
And Brielle was so so brave.
The boys went back to the house before us because, my, those emergency room experiences take a while, and it was getting late. When we arrived home M had the biggest hug for his sister. It touched his little heart that she was wearing a cast.
Finally it was time for food. We were famished at 9PM at night!
It did not disappoint. I can’t wait to make this again for our friends, raincheck!
Okay, my coffee is gone and I feel so grateful for this moment to myself. Time to pack up and look for an Advent wreath, four days into December. I already got a weird look from the staff at Michael’s this morning, like “where have you been lady?? They are all gone.”
Have a beautiful week everyone!
*I found this recipe on geniuskitchen.com. I removed the mushrooms, yellow onions, green peppers, but if they sound good to you, add them!
Every now and then I find a recipe that makes me think: “How am I just now discovering this??” That’s what happened with this rice… And now I make it all the time. Veggies disguised as carb-loaded starchy bliss! Yum.
Don’t let the prep time scare you. It’s well worth it, and you can make it in bulk and store it for the week.
1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets
3 slices bacon, diced
2 large eggs
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic (I never mince my own.)
1 teaspoon ginger, minced (I use ground if I don’t have fresh on hand.)
First, put the cauliflower into a food processor. In my case that’s a little Ninja. One day I’ll grow up and get a real food processor.
Move all the processed cauliflower to a cookie sheet and press with a paper towel. The goal is to remove ALL extra moisture, And I had no idea cauliflower was so full of it!
Once it’s dry to your satisfaction (and resembles little grainy pieces of rice/grits) you can set it aside.
Now cut and fry up the bacon and set aside.
Next add the cauliflower to the bacon fat in the pan – Cook for a moment and then add the soy sauce and fish sauce. Mix well.
Push the cauliflower off to the side of the pan and add the sesame oil, scallions, garlic, and ginger. Cook for a few minutes – yum.
Now mix everything together and cook for a few more minutes. This is where I add copious amounts of pepper. It adds so much flavor!
Delicious. Seriously. I could eat this every day for the rest of my life.
(Thank you ruled.me for the best keto stuff ever!)
I wanted to make this again and it wasn’t on my blog. For shame!! I really have enjoyed having all our favorite meals in one place. With little naked pictures of my sous chef and his super cute dirty face. Seriously, can life get any better?? And then throw in a napping cat out the kitchen window and I’m just in heaven… What is it about a napping cat?
So this dish: Let me just say, if you like Chinese take-out but you also like to stay on track heath/diet-wise, make this asap. It’s the best of both worlds. Healthy AND delish.
2 medium chicken thighs, bone in skin on
1 tsp. ground ginger
salt and pepper
1/4 cup peanuts
1/2 medium green pepper
2 large spring onions
4 red Bird’s Eye Chilis, de-seeded (I used 2 Serrano peppers instead)
1 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp. chili garlic paste
1 tbsp. ketchup
2 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. maple extract (I used a couple tablespoons of maple syrup instead, yum!)
10 drops liquid stevia (I didn’t use this because of the above)
First I began the painstaking task of cutting up the meat. Granted, you could probably use boneless/skinless meat as well, but I think the skin adds extra flavor and fat to the dish.
I’ve experimented with different ways of cutting chicken, and point down/handless cutting with shears wins for me. The less I have to touch raw poultry the better. And it ensures I don’t cut myself too!
De-bone and cut into tiny bite sized peices. I removed any huge pieces of skin but a little skin attached to the meat is good! It will fry into little crispy golden pieces of heaven in the fry pan.
M added the salt and pepper and ground ginger after it was all cut up.
Mix up the sauce and cut up veggies (green pepper/onions/chilis) and set aside.
Next heat a pan over medium/high heat and add some oil. Once the pan is super hot add the chicken. Let chicken cook until browned (about 10 minutes). You will start to recognize little Kung-Pao-like pieces. In your very own kitchen. Yay!
Once the chicken is browned, set aside and cook the veggies and peanuts in the same pan (with some oil) for a few minutes until a tiny bit tender. After a few minutes lower the heat and add the chicken and the sauce to the veggies and peanuts. Stir and cook a few minutes until the sauce has reduced a bit. The end result will be a little sticky (aka Delishhhh,)
I don’t believe in Chinese food without some steaming hot rice so thank goodness for this keto fried cauliflower rice recipe. I had no idea a non-rice “rice” could be so good!
And of course we never shy away from hot sauce over here.. bring it on! I hope you try this recipe.. it’s so worth it!
To keep this recipe Keto-friendly, follow the stevia/maple extract instructions and leave out the maple syrup. And Thank you Ruled.me for this crazy good recipe!
Did you know “Carnitas” means “little meat” in Spanish? How cute is that? And delicious.
These are the best Carnitas we’ve ever made in our own kitchen. I’m speed typing this and hitting publish so I have it in my “slow cooker” search whenever I’m meal planning for the week.
Start with a 4lb pork shoulder. I found this at Whole Foods: (I haven’t seen any change since the Amazon switch, I wonder if/when that’s coming?)
Mix the seasonings.
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt, or more, to taste
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Rub it all over the meat. I put it back in the paper and let it sit in the fridge for a couple hours but you can use it straight away as well.
Cut two onions in quarters and peel four cloves of garlic.
I usually use jarred minced garlic but I used whole fresh garlic for this recipe because it calls for whole, not diced. And as long as I don’t have to cut it, that’s fine with me. 🙂
Juice two limes and two oranges… Smells so fresh!
Place garlic, onions, orange juice, lime juice and pork into a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. You can also do high for 4-5 hours but I highly recommend low and slow heat. 🙂
Then go about your day!
For us that that looked like dropping M off at preschool and going on a walk to the library to do homeschool:
And I bought myself an extra hour and a half sans Michael by putting him in lunch bunch (which he loves) so I could go to the semi-annual consignment sale down the street. So glad I went. I got some great Fall finds. Michael said “thank you for these shoes mommy! Are they super-fast running shoes?” Of course the answer is always yes.
Next we went to piano lessons for Brielle. This is when M and I get to read all the piano teacher’s great books!
Eventually we got to dinner time (around 8:30 actually, after we got back from church) and what I had planned to be black beans and salsa and tomatoes and lettuce bowl with our Carnitas turned into “Let’s do this! we are starving!”
So the last step: Remove the pork from slow cooker and shred it into pieces (hence, “little meat”) and put it back in the juices in the crockpot. We did this in super-fast motion, with kids under-foot.
Then we put the pieces of meat in a hot frying pan (using a tablespoon or so of the drippings in the slow cooker) and fried it up in small batches until it was crisp on the outside. (The original recipe says to broil for a few minutes in the oven, so that is an option too but this tastes better to me.)
And don’t forget to add salt at the very end. It takes it from “wow this is good” to… “Damn this is good!” Which is actually the name of the site where I got this recipe! Damndelicious.net. 🙂
Serve the ridiculously delicious “little meat” with black beans and rice or on a (heated) tortilla with salsa and etc etc etc.
Tonight we ate it with salsa and nothing else. Well, corn on the cob and some rice made an appearance toward the end of the meal after it was done cooking, but we were too famished to wait for it!
Yum! This will be on our meal planning rotation until we get totally sick of it. 😀
This dish is just as good as it looks! Lucky for me I don’t like dark chocolate plain, so this made it into the recipe and not into my mouth. 😀
2 lbs chicken pieces bone in breast – Skin removed
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
2 tbsp ghee
1 medium onion chopped
4 cloves garlic crushed or minced
two cans of tomatoes, crushed, 15 0z each.
Two tomatoes chopped
2 dried chipotle chilis
1/4 cup creamy Almond Butter
2.5 oz dark chocolate 70% or above
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon power
1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
avocado cilantro and jalapeno, all chopped
Generously salt and pepper the chicken.
Place a pan over medium heat and add the ghee.
Once the ghee has warmed, add the chicken and brown on all sizes. This may need to be done in batches.
Move the chicken to slow cooker.
Add onion to the same pan and saute until translucent.
Add garlic and saute for 1 to 2 minutes.
Transfer onion and garlic to the slow cooker.
Add the tomatoes, chili peppers, almond butter, dark chocolate, salt and spices to the slow cooker.
Cook on low to 4 to 6 hours or until the chicken is tender and pulls apart easily.
Top mole with the avocado, cilantro and jalapeno and serve!
The curiosity of chocolate chicken kept them in the kitchen. 🙂
I couldn’t wait until dinner to taste it. Wow, it was even better than I expected!
I served it over roasted cauliflower.
Delicious! I can’t wait to make this again.
I just love Pad Thai, and this low carb version hit the spot. It took a little more time than my normal 10 minute meal prep-time but it was totally worth it.
I’m not a clean-as-I-go type person can you tell? And cooking with a three-year-old doesn’t help either. (Hands over face.)
Don’t let this long(ish) list of ingredients scare you! The end result is worth the extra effort:
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds free-range chicken tenders
2 tablespoons peanut oil
3 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten
⅓ cup organic chicken broth
3 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons tamarin or soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
½ cup chopped scallion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 zucchini, spiralized
½ cup bean sprouts
½ cup crushed peanuts, for garnish
1 lime, cut into wedges, for garnish
In a medium bowl, mix the ginger, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Toss the chicken tenders in the spice mixture until they are coated.
Now add the peanut oil to a skillet and get it hot. Add the chicken and cook, turning once until cooked through. It took me about four minutes.
Don’t over-cook it! I usually err on the side of under-cooked to avoid tough chicken. Especially in this recipe, because it will go back in the sauce later.
Once the chicken is done cut it in 1/4 inch pieces and set aside.
This is where I chopped the scallions.
Use the same skillet to scramble the eggs. I added a little more oil and cracked them right into the pan. Then set the eggs aside.
All I see is protein! I want chickens so bad.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the chicken broth, peanut butter, tamarin or soy sauce, vinegar, scallion, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Stir well and cook for 3 minutes.
This Pad Thai sauce smelled and tasted so so good.
The recipe said to add the spiralized zucchini to the sauce and didn’t mention cooking it.. at first and I thought that can’t be right!! But I’m glad I followed the instructions and added it RAW because it was perfectly cooked after just one minute of simmering in the sauce. It was tender-crisp and delicious.
Serve with peanuts and a lime wedge. (Michael and I put peanuts in a bag and hammered them with a meat tenderizer. Perfect little boy job.)
I almost didn’t want to add this picture because it doesn’t do justice to how yummy and gorgeous this was. But here it is. Ah, yay for the convenience of iPhone pics and the craziness of dinner-time!
Brielle just came up and said “Can I write my name??” So here it is:
Michael obviously had to join in too. I’m leaving it here for future enjoyment, because you know, my kids will want to read alllllll my blog posts when they are older. 😀
Have a beautiful week friends!
*Thanks to The Easier Life for this awesome recipe!
Thai food is one of my favvvvvorite foods in the world. I ate my way across Thailand when I was 19. Okay, maybe not “across,” but I ate my fair share in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Pattaya City and gained a few kilos.
It was better than heaven and I loved how we ate “family style” with big bowls in the middle of the table and hands reaching every-which way.
I loved the idea of being able to recreate these flavors in my own kitchen… But I never thought it was possible until I bit the bullet and decided to actually *try* it.
I’m so glad I did! The best part of this entire meal for me was the peanut sauce. There was a ton left over and I used it on anything and everything for the next week. It was creamy and spicy-sweet, and exactly what I order in Thai restaurants that always makes my mouth water.
And it was so easy to make:
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/3 cup coconut milk full fat from a can
1-2 teaspoons chile garlic sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon Thai Red Curry Paste (I added a little extra at the very end to up the kick.)
(I soaked my skewers in water for a day before using.)
1 pound flank steak or skirt steak
2 tablespoons Red Boat Fish Sauce or your favorite
2 tablespoons Tamari Soy Sauce or coconut aminios
2 tablespoons sweetner – I used honey
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Cut the flank steak into 1 1/2 inch strips so that the grain of the meat is going horizontally across the strip.
Stick the skewers into the meat leaving a handle long enough to hold while eating.
Mix the fish sauce, soy sauce, and honey together in a baking dish and coat all surfaces of the beef.
Now sprinkle the meat with the coriander and rub it in. Now let it marinate for about 15-20 minutes.
I used a grill pan to grill the meat, and ended up taking the skewers OUT of the meat before I grilled it because the skewers were too big to fit in the grill pan! Next time I will use smaller skewers so I can retain the “Satay” look.
And I have to add this picture because I just love their little faces. Whenever she sees “never-greens” Brielle says “Look Michael, tickle trees!!!” And they both laugh as the trees “tickle them.” Ahhhhh. Never ever ever grow up!
Happy almost Friday!
Thanks Low Carb Maven for this awesome recipe!
Last Tuesday started with a dead truck battery and ended with a traffic ticket from a very kind police officer. No really, he was so kind.
After one look in the back of my land-cruiser packed with three preschoolers he went from business as usual to sweet and comforting: “Just call DMV and renew your registration and it’s like you never even got a ticket….”
“Call DMV??” I don’t know what planet he’s from, but it’s not earth. Even so, I was thanking him as I drove away.
Kindness! It makes the world such a better place.
After we were merrily on our way I asked my audience in the back; “Can you believe I got a ticket??” To which Brielle’s little friend replied, “A ticket?? To what?”
I mean, adorable.
Days like that remind me how little my happiness and joy depends on my actual circumstances, and how much it depends on my willingness to just be content.
(Telling stories and having our snack in the car before resigning ourselves to an unplanned morning at home.)
Some days motherhood is a whirlwind of places to go and to-do lists and some days it’s rain coming down and hours of nothing but fights and make-ups and Netflix and crafts and meals and clean-ups and books and games and snacks and make-believes and time-outs, and doing it all agains…
And that leads me to the Mexican Meatballs… They were simmering quietly in the background, not needing or requiring me.. just getting “done” on their own. Ahhh.
I used to think slow cookers were for chili and soup in cold weather. Now, as a mom, I know they are for survival. There’s nothing better than turning a pot on and having dinner done eight hours later.
I found this recipe years ago and I’m excited to share it with you and have it eternally on my meal-planning radar.
Slow Cooker Mexican Meatballs:
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
6 garlic cloves (I use minced in a jar, so a couple teaspoons full.)
Shallots, 2 bulbs diced
Ground pork 1 1/2 lbs
Garlic powder 2 tsp
Cumin 1 tsp for meatballs and 1 tsp for sauce
Chipotle pepper in Adobo sauce 1, chopped
Chili Powder 1 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Crushed tomatoes (Can, 14 oz)
Crushed Tomatoes (Can 28 0z)
Avocado, 1 cubed
Lime, sliced into wedges
I always chop my veggies before I deal with the meat, because of the obvious grossness factor.
Then I diced the Shallots:
I added the Cilantro to the pork (The shallots go into the sauce.)
Then I added the spices:
Then I took off my rings and mushed it all together.
Next I made the sauce which is so easy:
I combined the cans of tomatoes in the crockpot with the second half (1 tsp) of cumin and the adobo pepper as well as the shallots and minced garlic.
Stir stir stir.
Then I rolled the meat into balls and dropped them right into the sauce.
Once they were all in there I covered them up with the spoon, being careful not to damage them.
Then I covered the slow cooker and turned it on low for 8 hours (You can also do high for 6 hours.)
As an additional step, (but not necessary for a delicious meal) you can remove the meatballs from the slow cooker when they are done and puree the sauce with an immersion blender before mixing the two together again.
Don’t forget salt and pepper!
They are tender and delicious and way too easy not to add to my monthly meal rotation.
Happy Tuesday everyone!
Oh how I love family traditions! Especially ones that taste good, (and may or may not raise your blood pressure, but let’s not dwell on that.)
Over the past couple of months THIS has become a weekend family tradition for us.
Every Saturday morning I see Brenden dragging this thing from the utility room (he wishes he had a garage) setting it up, pouring the pellets in, and setting the thermometer to connect to his iPhone.
(Who knew smoking meat could be such a nerdy/techy activity?? Maybe Brenden just finds a way to make everything nerdy/techy? Either way, he loves it.)
Last weekend we ran around doing our normal weekend stuff while this baby (we need to name her) did some pretty awesome smoking for us.
Whenever the smoker is ON I go through the fridge: “Can you smoke this? How about THIS??” And I pull out random stuff and bring it to the fire.
Brenden has smoked tomatoes, hot dogs, chicken wings, bacon, pork roast, ribs, (yummmmm, my favorite) and whole chickens:
He used a method called “Spatchcock” (not kidding) to flatten it out. This way it’s able to cook evenly and smoke to perfection!
And then there’s bacon makin’! I don’t know how to articulate how much this family loves bacon. Maybe just by saying, “one day it will probably kill us.” Because it probably will. We eat bacon every morning, then sometimes pork again of some variety by the end of the day. (Hands over face.)
No one really knows the health ramifications of bacon, but that aside, everything in moderation is a good rule… right? Well moderation is certainly not something we’re practicing over here currently. So… if we are going to eat it, it might as well be delicious.
So at the beginning of Brenden’s bacon making there was some trial and error. We went through a few pork bellies before we cut into it and were like “mmmm yeah, perfect salt to sugar ratio.”
Brenden first started off using brown sugar, and now he uses white sugar. The white sugar actually dissolves and absorbs into the meat as opposed to the brown sugar which seems to fall off right after you rub it on.
So the method he has adopted is this:
Go to whole foods and buy 3 lbs pork belly.
Mix: 1/3 salt, 1/3 cup white sugar, 2 tsp curing salt.
The curing salt is pink. I’m only telling you this because I am a stickler for safety, but this could be LETHAL if ingested in huge amounts. Meaning, if Michael or Brielle decided they for some reason wanted to eat an entire box of this, they would become very very ill. We keep it super high up and out of reach, and I doubt very seriously any human would want to eat that much pink salt anyway, but it’s worth mentioning! Good, off my chest.
Here it is:
The ingredients, if you care: Salt, Sodium Nitrate, and pink food coloring.
Mix mix mix and pat onto the pork belly. Okay, this is a picture from when he used BROWN sugar, picture it white.
He cut the meat into two sections and made one a little spicy with some Sriracha. Yes please.
Just squeeze it on, (no measuring needed) and pat the sugar/salt mixture on after all the sauce is rubbed in.
Then place the meat in a bag and seal it closed. It will stay in the fridge for a week. He flips it once a day (for some reason) and sometimes I flip it too because I think maybe he forgot that day, so when we both flip it, it ends up NOT being flipped at all! Perfect example of too many cooks in the kitchen.
After about a week he pulls it out, and now it’s ready to smoke.
The thermostat talks to his phone so he knows when everything is done without any hassle.
My tan lines are fading fast, time to relive our vacation via a blog post! The first few days home were an adjustment to say the least. Whew! Seriously, peeing alone for four days and not having to mediate one sibling fight… that kind of freedom is hard to recover from. 😀
We stayed at the Casa Marina Waldorf Astoria Resort and I have to say, it was exceptional. I also have to say that we paid for it with our Hilton points! If we had to fork out actual dollars instead of hotel points we would have opted for a different hotel. This is a huge perk to Brenden’s hobby of making sure we have credit cards that give us the most return for our purchases.
We use the AMEX blue on groceries and get cash back on that until it caps out at the max allowed for the year and then we switch to the Hilton card where we get hotel points for every dollar we spend for the remaining of the year. The most bang for our buck comes from the blue card in the form of cash back so once that reaches its max amount allowed it’s pretty nice to have hotel points racking up on our Hilton card for the rest of the year.
It’s funny to see him geek out on all these details, but it turns out it really does make a difference and I’m so glad he spends time optimizing in this area! I can’t remember the last time we actually paid for a hotel room.
I did’t get any full front pics of the resort but it was beautiful.
Roosters and chickens strolled around like guests at the resort, which was so funny. Everywhere we went we heard clucking and crowing, and they seemed to be monogamous (or maybe that’s just me being a romantic?) Whenever I saw a beautiful rooster I would see a significantly less beautiful chicken with him, palling around enjoying their day together. They spent a lot of time scratching in the soil under the shrubs by the pool, digging up bugs for the chicks trailing behind them.
They were all over the city too!
The first night we went to Mallory Square to watch the beautiful sunset and experience the Sunset Celebration. It was beautiful! Then we walked a few feet away to the Hot Tin Roof for dinner.
The Yucka fries are what stands out the most in my memory. They were ammmmazing and served with a pesto dipping sauce which sounds weird but it was just so good. We also had the PEI mussels with grilled ciabatta, pork empanadas, crab cakes (which we found out had dairy in them so I didn’t eat any sadly) and I had the most refreshing delicious New Zealand Sauvignon blanc. The menus lit up!! Back-lit, people. Which made for a very cool ambiance as you looked around the restaurant.
The Hot Tin Roof is famous for its views and it did not disappoint! The post-sunset sky was stunning.
After dinner we went down to the dock to see a Sublime cover band. Apparently they always have a big live entertainment event for the spring break crowd during this time of year. Let me tell you, we felt ollllld in that group. Happy but old!
Thursday morning we took a two hour jet ski tour around Key West. I was the one who wanted to do it! I was giddy and excited! I pictured us puttering around, maybe occasionally accelerating just to get a rush.. but no no no. This was sooo different.
We were FLYING full speed ahead. I reached 50 mph, not because I wanted to but because I had to speed to keep up with the rest of the tour! We were hitting huge wakes and I thought for sure I was going to flip my jet ski or fly off.
It seemed like everyone else was having a blast but I really and truly didn’t like it AT ALL. The only real moment I enjoyed was when we slowed down and got to play in the Gulf of Mexico where it was shallow and calm and I could see the bottom. (That’s where I got this picture of Brenden. When I was stress-free enough to pull my phone out of its waterproof case.) We did fun circles and got to play around instead of flying through the choppy water 50 mph. Seriously, no thank you.
Okay, enough about the darn jet skis.
One of our favorite places was Grand Vin. It’s a sweet place right off Duval street where you can buy a bottle of wine and sit outside, enjoy a glass and they will put your name on it and you can come back and enjoy the rest later! We had a bottle of wine there all week. It was a unique/fun feeling to go back to Grand Vin for “our” bottle of wine. 🙂
Next we had dinner at Nine One Five. I think this was my favorite restaurant of the trip. Click here to see the fans blowing the flowers above the tables. This was the exact view from our table and it was incredible! The ambiance, the beautiful smells, the food, the colors. It was just too wonderful. The address is 915 Duval Street, hence the name.
For a starter we had calamari and bacon wrapped asparagus. Called ‘Addictive Asparagus’ on the menu for a reason!
Brenden had the Seafood Soup which he said was delicious but I couldn’t taste it because it had cream in it. I had Pasta with Shrimp in a wine sauce. The pasta was made in house and it was to.die.for. The noodles literally melted in my mouth and tasted like no pasta I’ve had before.
The next morning was Friday and I remember thinking, we still have three full days!! It was incredible to have that much time with my man in full relaxation mode. No responsibilities and not a care in the world. We never travel without the kids so having this much time together alone was just bliss.
I had so many naps… I told Brenden I didn’t know I was that tired and he said napping is my super power. I can nap on command, even if I’ve already napped twice that day, and it doesn’t even ruin my sleep that night. Yes, I’m proud of my cat-napping ability. It serves me well. 🙂
We heard we HAD to go to Latitudes Restauraunt. It’s on Sunset Key, a short ferry ride over Key West harbor. They were booked for dinner until May! Which was a good thing, considering I can’t imagine spending the $$$ to eat dinner there. Some locals joked that we should bring three wallets. So yeah, no thank you. We decided to go over for lunch, and it was delicious.
We had stone crabs caught that day.
I ordered a blackened fish sandwich and fries… I wish I had some of those fries right now!
Brenden had a fish and risotto dish. He said it was good but I couldn’t taste it because of the cream.
All in all the food wasn’t anything to write home about. It was just some yummy fresh seafood. But the sights, the ferry over, the panoramic gulf views. The warm wind and scents from the flowers and trees. The atmosphere. All of that combined is why it’s worth raving about.
After lunch we took a walk around the Island. Sunset Key is a private island with adorable little houses and sweet picket fences with colorful flowers draping over every-which-way. We walked the entire island in about twenty minutes and loved the quiet atmosphere. No cars, just the occasional gulf cart. Peace and serenity.
The white sandy beach where we sat for lunch is apparently where those blissful Corona commercials are filmed! Makes total sense:
We took our time heading back and before we knew it, it was dinner-time. We got a recommendation from some locals for dinner:
I was seriously excited for some Cuban food!! Bring on the rice and beans! It was authentic, amazing, and just a taste of Cuba for real.
I got grilled chicken with black beans and rice and it came smothered with sweet plantains. Realllllly good. The portion of chicken could have fed a family of four which kind of turned me off considering I saw these birds in live action clucking around all day with their cute little chicks behind them. It’s okay… I value lean protein for fuel too much to be phased by this for long. So I enjoyed every bite.
Meanwhile Brenden had the slow roasted pork and was right in his element. There was a hot sauce on the table that was almost gone when we left. It was delicious, all of it!
One of my favorite discoveries on this trip was the watermelon juice. I found it at the hotel breakfast buffet and I was determined to recreate it for the kids as soon as I got home.
I would drink two glasses with breakfast and then take some to the pool with me for later. My version of it at home was not quite as good, sadly!
It was surreal spending so much time together with no distractions and no responsibilities. Wow. At home a two hour date night is a treat!! Here we had a date night every night… and all day. I mean, come on. Mom-life culture shock much?
The last night we decided to go to Sunset Pier to just see if they could accommodate us. We didn’t have a reservation and it worked out perfectly. We got a table right on the water and got to see the boats and the insane sunset.
We started dinner with some conch fritters. Mostly because I was curious!
They were okay. Kind of a weird texture… I detected some stringy-ness every now and then.
But my dinner was two-thumbs up. I mean three if I had three. I am a sucker for ribs. Ribs and coleslaw and street corn?? BRING IT ON.
Brenden got steak skewers and raved about his too.
We were so happy. And this was our view.
The next morning was Sunday, time to go home. We woke up in time for the sunrise for once! So glad we did.
Four days was my limit. I loved every single moment of independent bliss but by night four I wanted to SWIM home to see my babies. I missed their little faces and non-stop noises and fighting and their very persons. I MISSED THEM.
That is what makes a vacation without kids so amazing…. there is such a contrast from vacation to mom life!
Sunday morning we went to Banana Cafe before taking the taxi to the airport. The herb and potato omelette hit the spot.
I am so grateful to our incredible moms (and company!) who made the kid’s time so healthy and happy. They felt like they had a vacation too, I could tell when I got home! They were so full of love and joy and security. It was such a gift, to be able to relax with each other knowing our babies were happy and well cared for.
Key West, we are coming back for you!