This first post of the year comes to you complements of my brand new gold MacBook! Santa was nice to me, I sure am a lucky girl. This year I’m thankful for all of the exciting events coming up in my life, all my travels…and for the invention of the CROCK POT! Yes, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – thank god for the creation of this one stop shop for a gourmet dinner with absolutely no effort whatsoever (besides pushing the “on” button). Season the meat before you go to work in the morning and dinner is ready by the time you get home! Pork is always a great alternative to the typical chicken that I’m used to serving almost every night. Tender, juicy and flavorful, you can top this pork with my paleo barbecue sauce or enjoy it as is!
- 3-4 lb pork shoulder
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- ½ tsp liquid smoke
- Season both sides of the pork shoulder with salt and black pepper.
- In a small bowl, mix together paprika, chili powder, garlic powder and cumin.
- Massage the seasoning into both sides of the pork until fully coated.
- Place pork into crock pot and sprinkle a layer of garlic on top.
- Combine liquid smoke with chicken broth and pour over the pork.
- Cook on low for 5-6 hours and serve!
Having grown up and lived in California my whole life, I’m not exactly sure how it’s possible that I’ve never been to Big Sur. To my parents’ credit, they did plan a family trip there…but alas, it was on their road trip for my college graduation and I was neck deep in finals. We decided that we had to take advantage of living near this breathtaking rugged stretch of California’s central coast – and conveniently combined it with a venue scouting trip!
We left San Diego at the crack of dawn and drove straight into the world-renowned Carmel, a town that has charmed artists and celebrities alike with its picturesque white-sand beach and European-style village packed with restaurants, shops and art galleries. We made it there before the sun came up and stopped first at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands which was absolutely beautiful but a little too small for our needs. I got my first glimpse of the beauty we were about encounter with turquoise capped waves slamming into the cliffs below us. We then started the dramatic journey down Highway 1 along the jagged cliffs pummeled by surf line to Big Sur, providing the most stunning views of any coastline I have ever seen.
The Big Sur Bakery was recommended to us as a “must” but I found it to be overpriced and a bit overrated…the avocado toast was over $20 (which they were out of) and apparently wheat toast is only delivered on certain days! Not that day…I settled for a mediocre $7 muffin. We made our way to the Ventana Inn, across the street from the famous Post Ranch Inn which was also beautiful but too small for our tastes. For a refreshing drink with an insane view, stop at the reknown Nepenthe restaurant…pricey but the atmosphere can’t be beat!
48510 Hwy 1, Big Sur, California 93920
The most iconic photo of Big Sur is that of the 80-foot McWay Waterfall as it cascades onto the sandy shore in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. One of the shortest hiking trails in Big Sur, Mcway Falls should be seen by anyone traveling along Highway 1…trust me, it’s easy. We did it in flip flops! The trail is a mere .64 miles on a flat and wide path that provides both southern and northern Coastal views. After parking, walk directly west back towards Highway 1 and look fo the sign to the Overlook/Waterfall Trail/Pelton Wheel straight ahead. You’ll head down short wooden steps, proceed along a wide path and then through a round tunnel under the highway. Once you emerge facting th ocean, turn right and walk along the path for several yards until you see the falls. Breathtaking!
We continued south to visit one of the most beautiful venues I’ve seen – Point 16. Point 16 is absolutely magical with 180 degree views of the coastline and the “loo with a view” that can’t be beat. If the logistics were not an issue (distance from LA, 1 hour bus ride from closest hotels, etc.), this would be our dream venue!
There are several different Big Sur lodging options from camping at Fernwood to the magnificently opulent Post Ranch Inn if you end up spending more time there. Many choose the “glamping” option to take advantage of the natural beauty of the area without having to rough it TOO much. We decided to continue our trek down the coast but for the adventurous, you have plenty of options to choose from whether it be tent camping to lounging in a luxurious room with a butler!
Fernwood Resort (range of options from camping to motel)
47200 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920
Big Sur Lodge (3.5 stars)
47225 CA-1, Bi Sur, CA 93920
Ventana Inn & Spa (4 stars)
48123 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920
Post Ranch Inn (5 stars)
47900 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920
We continued our drive down the beautiful California coast past the stunning rock formations and sunning elephant seals at Piedras Blancas down to Cambria, a lovely seaside town in San Luis Obispo County. We checked in to our adorable room at the Firestone Inn and went down to catch the gorgeous sunset at Cambria’s famous Moonstone Beach. We worked up an appetite collecting the semi-precious jasper stones of all colors scattered all over the beach (hence the name “Moonstone”) and headed into town to check out Robin’s Restaurant, an eclectic East village restaurant serving made-from-scratch international cuisine that came highly recommended to us. The setting at Robin’s is romantic and unique and the fusion of Asian, Mexican and Indian – absolutely mouthwatering. We started out with crispy calamari with a spicy aioli and tried the enchiladas and chicken curry…we were not disappointed!
4095 Burton Drive, Cambria CA 93428
Firestone Inn at Moonstone Beach (3-star)
6700 Moonstone Beach Dr, Cambria CA 93428
If you have the time, arrange for a tour of Hearst Castle, William Randolph Hearst’s famous estate, only 6 miles from Cambria! We didn’t have time since we had to continue down the coast on a serious scouting mission but I hear this sprawling state historical monument is definitely worth the visit!
750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon CA 93452
We are huge carnivores and my fiancé used to always make ooey gooey fall off the bone BBQ ribs that are oh so delicious but oh so packed with sugar (OH NO)! He has been eating paleo for quite some time now and we were craving ribs one day but still trying to stay on track with eating clean and eating smart when he found Taylor from Food Faith Fitness to save us and worked his magic! He prepped and executed the most perfect tender, sticky and sweet ribs I have ever tasted! I could not get enough of the freshly minced ginger in the savory honey glaze…and still cannot believe that these ribs are actually paleo. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my lip smacking sugar laden barbeque sauce but these amazing ribs with a slightly Asian twist are just too good (and too healthy) to resist! Visit Taylor’s site and recipe here and happy ribbing!
- 1 rack of baby back ribs
- 4 tsp Chinese 5 spice
- Salt and black pepper
- ½ cup honey
- ¼ cup + 2 tbsp chicken broth
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 1 tbsp + 2 tsp coconut aminos
- ½ tsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp ginger, minced
- 1 tbsp garlic, minced
- Cilantro, for garnish
- Diced green onion, for garnish
- Place the rack of ribs on a large piece of tinfoil and rub with the Chinese 5 spice (about 2 tsps for each side of the ribs) and with salt and pepper. Wrap tightly in the foil and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, heat oven to 250 degrees and line a roasting pan with tinfoil. Place a large cooling rack in the center.
- Place the ribs, bone-side up, into the roasting pan and cover the pan tightly with tinfoil. Roast until the ribs are tender and fall off the bone, about 2.5 to 3.5 hours.
- While the ribs cook, combine all of the sauce ingredients except for the cilantro and green onion in a large saucepan and bring to a boil on high heat. Boil the sauce, stirring constantly until it just begins to reduce (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat, cover and let it come to room temperature.
- Once the ribs are cooked, remove them from the oven and preheat the broiler for 5 minutes. (Alternatively, you can finish these ribs off on the BBQ!)
- Once the broiler is heated, flip the rib over so that the meaty side is up and brush generously with half of the cooled glaze.
- Place the ribs under the broiler and cook until a nice crust forms, about 5-6 minutes.
- Remove the ribs from the oven and brush with remaining glaze.
- Cover the pan with tinfoil and let the ribs rest for 10 minutes.
The weather is finally changing in California (kind of) and what better way to welcome fall than with a warm, cinnamon toasted apple crumble…a la paleo style! The perfect after dinner dessert or a daytime snack, this healthy holiday treat will satisfy your cravings and keep the doctor away. Try it served warm with a dollop of my paleo whipped cream (see recipe here) for extreme guiltless indulgence. Just a warning, you may find yourself fighting the urge to consume the entire crumbly top in one sitting…this is normal!
- 5 medium apples peeled, cored and thinly sliced (Granny Smith are recommended due to firmness)
- 3 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ cup coconut flour
- ½ cup almond flour
- 4 tbsp finely chopped pecans and almonds
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp salt
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 tbsp honey
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, mix together the coconut oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Toss apples into mixture and pour into a greased 8x8 baking dish.
- Pulse together the pecans and almonds in a food processor until finely chopped.
- Pulse in the coconut flour, almond flour, coconut sugar, cinnamon and salt until combined.
- Pulse in the coconut oil and honey until a crumbly dough is formed.
- Crumble over apple mixture.
- Bake for 30 to 45 minutes.
- Slightly cool and enjoy!
We checked out the Miramar Air Show this weekend…my first one to date! Hosted in San Diego at Miramar, home to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, including MAG-11’s fixed-wing F/A-18 and KC-130 Hercules squadrons and MAG-16’s MV-22 Osprey tiltrotors and CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters, this year’s air show paid tribute to veterans and their families. We saw F-18s, Blackhawls…even sat in a MIG!
It was amazing to be able to sit in the cockpit of a giant Boeing C-17 and try to imagine transporting tanks and troops in the body of the plane…how do they get these things off the ground?! Did you know the U.S. sent a C-17 to a Chinese Air Show despite concerns inside the Pentagon in 2014? The purpose was to strengthen relations but at costs such as putting technology secrets in jeopardy…including a monetary cost of at least $350,000! Fascinating.
We were able to catch the incredible acrobatics of the Oracle Challenger and Breitling L-39 Jet Team demo. The highlight of the day and show undoubtedly was the majestic performance by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels – jaw dropping and awe inspiring!
What a great day and what great people watching! Thank you to all who serve!
As you know I’m constantly on the lookout for alternatives to basic boring chicken breast recipes. Chicken thighs are always tender and therefore automatically delicious (not to mention easy and inexpensive – always a bonus)! This recipe combines tangy Dijon with sweet and zesty balsamic vinegar and spices for a chicken dish that’s healthy and jam packed with flavor! Pop it in the oven and dinner is ready!
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp paprika
- Salt and black pepper
- Place chicken thighs in a container and cut slits in each thigh.
- Rub garlic powder, paprika, salt and black pepper on chicken.
- In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, thyme and garlic cloves.
- Pour the marinade over the chicken and marinate for 30 minutes (or longer if possible).
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Transfer the chicken to a slightly greased 9 x 13 baking dish and bake for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
When I was told we were planning a trip out to Coeur d’Alene for Labor Day, I had no idea what a weekend it would be! I had always heard about the beauty of the lake and was excited to experience the magic. Located approximately 30 miles east of Spokane, Coeur d’Alene is named after a tribe of Native Americans who live along the rivers and lakes of the region. There are actually more than 55 lakes in the region, with Lake Coeur d’Alene being the most magnificent!
We flew into Spokane and met our friends Doug and Shadi to make the scenic drive to the lake, stopping at the delicious local Toby’s BBQ stand on the way of course. An easy hour drive later, we were at the beautiful home of the Whites and Matalon at Black Rock. Eager to check out our surroundings, we settled in to our amazing room, complete with deck and Keurig machine then headed down to the lake. I did find it slightly odd that no one else wanted to join…and that we brought one of the $100 bottles of Williams Selyem pinot that we brought the hosts along with us…but was more excited to be heading to the water.
There were all sorts of paddleboards and kayaks down by the water and we decided to take the canoe out for a spin. It was an absolutely beautiful day and the lake was gorgeous and perfectly still for our ride. By then we had discovered that if either of us moved two inches, the canoe would most likely completely capsize. After a few paddles around the lovely lake, I discovered that I could pass my empty wine glass over on an oar and be returned a full glass of pinot with no spillage! I was still reveling in my ingenuity that I hardly noticed a black box being pulled out of the pocket of a Patagonia rain jacket. At this point I think I slightly blacked out a little bit and was presented with the sweetest proposal (and most breathtaking ring) in history. It was so perfect just being in the sun, on the water…and with my fiancé!
As we paddled back towards the dock, we heard cheering and the popping of champagne. Unbeknownst to me, our friends had been watching us from the Black Rock clubhouse. We celebrated with some amazing champagne and of course more Williams Selyem – and a celebratory dip in the freezing cold lake. On our way back to the house to get ready for our special dinner, we even saw a couple of deer only a few feet away from us. They were definitely celebrating with us!
If you ever find yourself in Coeur d’Alene, you must stop and dine at Satay Bistro (ask for Kelleen as your waitress). They have an amazing private wine room to dine in and their homemade bread drizzled in olive oil and garlic is to die for. Their pasta is made completely from scratch and all soups, marinades and sauces are made fresh daily by the culinary team…truly “farm to menu”!
2501 N 4th St
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83814
We took a day to head to Schweitzer Mountain and take the chairlift to the top of the mountain to do some hiking! The largest resort in Idaho and Washington with 2,900 acres of amazing terrain in the rugged Selkirk Mountains, Schweitzer overlooks the beautiful Lake Pend Oreille. The hike was a long way down but the views were worth it. We even caught a rainbow! It just so happened to be Fall Fest on the mountain with 60+ microbrews and live music, including a killer all-girl ACDC cover band. If you have the time, stop in the charming and eclectic town of Sandpoint on your way out…a perfect to reward your hiking efforts with a drink + view of the lake!
A beautiful end to an amazing weekend…thank you so much to Jason, Jess, Justin, Sarah, Doug and Shadi and especially Kevin for making it one to remember forever! Over the moon!
Trying to eat healthy but the thought of more grilled chicken breasts makes you want to eat dirt? I think we can all grow tired of the same plain (but lean) boring chicken. I spiced it up last night with this spiced rubbed fiesta chicken that really brings the heat with flavor and texture. The zesty avocado salsa adds the perfect dimension of coolness and deliciousness. I’ve also discovered the PERFECT way to bake a tender chicken breast. The trick is to bake it at 375 degrees for 20 minutes covered with foil so the inside cooks perfectly then remove the foil for the last 10 minutes so the top gets golden without drying it out!
- 2 boneless skinless breasts
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp thyme
- ½ tsp olive oil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 avocado, cubed
- 2 roma tomatoes, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 tsp olive oil
- ½ tsp cumin
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Juice of 1 lime wedge
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- In a small bowl, mix together the chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic powder and thyme.
- Coat the chicken breasts with olive oil, seasoning mixture, salt and black pepper.
- Place the chicken breasts in a glass baking pan, cover and seal with a layer of foil then bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove the foil and continue to bake for an additional 10 minutes.
- While the chicken is baking, prepare the fiesta salsa by combining the tomatoes, cilantro, olive oil, cumin, garlic, salt and black pepper in a small bowl. Toss in the avocado and lime juice.
- Once the chicken has slightly cooled, slice and top with fiesta salsa!
This past weekend I got to see one of my all-time favorite artists perform at Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Chula Vista. Dierks Bentley rocked the house with his best show ever (hands down)…and I have seen a lot of shows. I don’t understand how not every person in this world is a country fan. I think it’s because country historically has had a negative honky tonk stigma and people don’t give it a chance. They’re scared they might actually like it…and to their delight they probably will! I’d much rather listen to songs with actual stories, heart and depth instead of incomprehensible lyrics about mischief and b*tches but that’s just me.
The show opened with the classic Dierks Bentley flag, show-stopping pyrotechnics and a strapping Dierks perched on the podium with the beginning tones of “Sideways” playing in the background. Indeed, “worked all week, it’s time to play, gonna get a little bit…sideways” and sideways we were! One of the many highlights was his performance of “I Hold On”, one of my favorite songs about how he holds on to his roots and what all is important in his life: “Baby, looking at you right now, there ain’t never been no doubt, without you I’d be nothing, so if you ever worry about me walking out, let me tell you something. I hold on.” Something people unfortunately no longer do these days! He killed his current single “Say You Do” and brought out his opener Kip Moore for his first encore song “What Was I Thinking”. Classic! Needless to say, he brought down the house with his final hit “Drunk on a Plane”.
We continued basking in the glow of the show with a little dance party fiesta with the bands afterwards. “Hangin’ memories on the high line poles. Free and easy down the road I go!”
In honor of the evolution of the curl afro, here’s a walk down memory lane…starting as early as 2008! Nationwide. Youngins!
Pork is one of the leanest proteins you can have. Cooking it in the pan with a little olive oil gives it a flavorful golden crust while keeping it tender and healthy at the same time. The mango avocado salsa to top these golden pork chops is sweet and slightly spicy, you’ll want a spoonful with every bite! You can make this salsa to enhance virtually any dish – paleo or non-paleo! Mouthwatering deliciousness!
- 2 lbs lean pork chops
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 mango, peeled and cubed
- ½ avocado, peeled and cubed
- ½ cup red onion, chopped
- ½ cup plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- Rinse and pat pork chops dry and place face up on a dry plate.
- Mix together the paprika, garlic powder, thyme, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper in a small bowl.
- Rub and coat both sides of the pork chop with mixture.
- Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium to medium-high heat.
- Cook pork chops (three at a time) for 2 to 3 minutes on the first side.
- Flip and cook the pork chops on the other side for another 1 to 2 minutes until the pork chops are golden brown and no pink juices remain.
- Make the mango salsa by combining the mango, red onion, tomatoes, lime juice, cilantro, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and cumin in a small bowl, gently tossing in the avocado at the end.
- Top the slightly cooled pork chops with the mango avocado salsa and serve!