Idyllwild, California

A Idyllwild California

Probably the most charming town we’ve experienced in California to date, Idyllwild is a quaint, inviting and down to earth place to visit.

Idyllwild California

A pie in the sky, the mini city rests about a mile high in altitude.

Idyllwild California

 Temperatures in Idyllwild are much cooler than the surrounding Southern California desert.

Salton Sea Idyllwild California

Woven in nature and adorned in the arts, the mountain destination is an idyllic getaway for city dwellers in LA and San Diego, both just two hours away.

Idyllwild California

Gorgeous wooden carvings, intricate paintings and other creative touches are prominently displayed around town.

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Idyllwild California

Cute cafes and shops line the town square offering everything from haircuts and hats to ice cream and souvenirs.

A Idyllwild California

The majestic Tahquitz Peak and Suicide Rock rise above the village attracting rock climbers, hikers, nature enthusiasts and art lovers alike.

Salton Sea Idyllwild California

Musicians regularly perform at the local businesses and gather together in spontaneous song on the street.

Idyllwild CaliforniaOne afternoon a super friendly shop keeper excitedly pulled us outside to be serenated by a guitar teacher and his student.

Idyllwild California

We all sang along to Wagon Wheel, which reminded us of home on the East Coast.

This lovely little place is the stuff fairytales are made of!

Idyllwild California

Idyllwild’s whimsy is even present in the local politics. The town mayor is a dog!

Idyllwild California

The whole town appeared to be very dog friendly. Since Molly was recovering from surgery, we didn’t get to experience that aspect this go-round.

Idyllwild California

Our family was lucky enough to score a one week home exchange in Idyllwild this past spring.

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We had a wonderful week soaking up the fabulous scenery, strolling around the cozy town and enjoying all the area had to offer together.

Salton Sea Idyllwild California

One day we went horseback riding in the valley.

Idyllwild California

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horse Idyllwild California

Another day we took a mini road trip to the beautiful Salton Sea. (More on that soon!) Idyllwild California

The San Bernardino area has so much to offer!

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Idyllwild, California was a wonderful stop along our 4000 mile West Coast exploration.  A Idyllwild California

We hope to return to this precious place again one day!

 

French Toast for Two (or more)

 From the very first time I made this recipe for the two of us, hubs has consistently claimed this French Toast to be the best he’s ever had. Oh yesss!A French Toast For 2

2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
4 slices bread
1 drizzle oil
1.) Heat oil in a skillet over medium-low.
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2.) Beat eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a flat-bottom bowl.
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3.) Soak bread in the milk mixture until super soggy, yet still intact.
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4.) Toast bread in an oiled skillet until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side.
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5.) Enjoy immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve.
A French Toast For 2
French, Italian, white or wheat, French Toast doesn’t discriminate against bread diversity.
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One of our favorites is whole wheat cinnamon raisin bread.
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Even leftover burger buns can be transformed into delicious French Toast! I first tested this theory on a camping breakfast at the Grand Canyon (pictured below).
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Requiring just a few ingredients, French Toast is a quick and easy breakfast go-to.
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 Whether cooking for two, four or more, French Toast always hits the spot!
A French Toast For 2

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

 Our sweet summer is long gone, along with its fresh blueberries, boohoo. What’s a pancake to do? It’s time for a fabulous fall makeover!

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes
(makes about 8 pancakes)

1 1/4 cups milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar
1 tablespoon chia or flax (or 1 egg less 1/4 cup milk)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup flax (or more flour)
1 tablespoon grade A maple syrup, coconut sugar or honey
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 pinch cloves
1 cup cored and fine diced apples

1.) Combine milk, vinegar/juice and chia/flax in a bowl. Allow mixture to setup for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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2.) Mix all remaining ingredients but the apples until just combined. I once heard that the key to great pancakes it to avoid over stirring the batter.DSC08408

3.) Fold in apples.

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4.) Scoop 1/4 cup pancake mix onto a greased skillet preheated over medium low.

DSC084145.) Cook until golden brown on each side (about 4 minutes), then serve warm.

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

Pancakes can be kept warm until ready to serve in a low oven (200 degrees or lower). A wire cooling rack will prevent condensation, allowing air to circulate around warming pancakes.

IMG_7692Baked apples or apple butter top Apple Cinnamon Pancakes perfectly!

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 Anticipating a busy autumn calendar while making good use of the bountiful cabin apple harvest, this batch of Apple Cinnamon Pancakes was quadrupled.

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‘Tis the season for stocking up!

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Hershey, PA & Palm Oil

a Hershey Pennsylvania
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Last month hubby and I kicked off our 8th wedding anniversary celebration in Hershey, Pennsylvania at the Southern Ground Music and Food Festival.
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Our trip to Hershey (more on that below!) inspired me to do my little baby part (but a part nonetheless!) in creating awareness on the palm oil crisis.
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 My wonderful sister first educated me on the palm oil crisis after seeing an enlightening exhibit on endangered orangutans at the San Diego Zoo last year.255064200206
Palm Oil is a versatile and inexpensive oil commonly used in an astonishing amount of American products. It’s in everything from food to cosmetics.
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 Unfortunately palm oil has traditionally been harvested by clearing the rainforest to make way for palm plantations, ultimately extinguishing all inhabitants along the way. The practice has pushed natives off their sacred land and some species of orangutans, sun bears, tigers, orchids and more to near extinction.
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 This map provides a visual timeline of the environmental destruction resulting from the palm oil industry in Southeast Asia.
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(Map by TreeHugger.)
Hershey happens to be a ring leader in the fight for sustainable and traceable palm oil. Their website readily claims strict use of sustainable palm oil harvesting methods based on the promise to replant.
Say No To Unsustainable Palm Oil
The conscientious company has also resolved to prevent further deforestation by transferring all palm oil sources to traceable by the end of 2014. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, who’s goal is to educate and convert companies, helped Hershey make the switch to sustainable.
Say No To Unsustainable Palm Oil
 Awareness of Hershey’s recent restrictions on both sustainable and traceable sources reveal that the solution to the situation is a bit more complicated than boycotting palm oil all together. Palm oil is actually a more sustainable oil compared to its counterparts olive, grape seed, etc. Replacing palm oil will only defer the problem to other oil industries that can’t match palm oil’s efficiency.DSC09516 - Copy
 Please join us on the goal green journey by checking the ingredient list on all of your favorite prepackaged goodies for sustainable palm oil usage.
Say No To Unsustainable Untraceable Palm Oil
 Now that we’ve covered that business, onto the fun part! Our experience in Hershey, Pennsylvania at the Southern Ground Music and Food Festival with Alan Jackson, Zac Brown Band, Jimmy Buffet, Blues Traveler and several other awesome opening acts was absolutely AMAZING .
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 We figured a ticket “featuring Alan Jackson” equated to a quick appearance and a couple songs but low and behold his awesomeness played a FULL set of his best hits over the decades.
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I was completely smitten seeing the superstar I grew up with on the river live in concert for the first time.
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There’s over 600 miles between Alan’s Chatahoochee River and my Potomac, but I can completely identify with his passion for water, American pride and down home Southern comfort.
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Even as a city boy with very particular country taste, Brian easily identifies with Alan’s positive vibes and values.
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Molly can especially relate with Alan’s classic Little Bitty.
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 Buffet brought a slightly different message of course, but emitted the same relaxed vibe.DSC08480We love Jimmy Buffet’s addictive beachy keen craze. This marks our second consecutive annual Buffet concert!
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The steel drums of the Coral Reef Band easily sweep you away to Margaretville.
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It was a fabulous, fun, fin-filled night… DSC08471
until we reached the parking lot to leave.
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Due to extremely poor parking staff directing skills, the traffic was horrid exiting Hershey Park. That’s something to be said coming from a DC Metro Area resident. Despite the irritation, we endured and came back for more the next day!
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After arriving a touch too late to indulge in the food part of the festival on the first day, we made sure to arrive early on the second and final day.
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The trucks driven in from various surrounding cities didn’t disappoint! We indulged in gourmet grilled cheese, apple ale and my first funnel cake, an ultimate apple pie variety.
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 Holy delicious!
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Zac and the boys showed us a jolly good time as always with great instrumentals and “you get what you give” persuasions.
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The traffic leaving the stadium was even worse on Saturday night.
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I blame the traffic turmoil for my afro-puff and the consumption of my first fast food cheeseburger in probably 5 years, but I digress.
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 Despite Hershey’s horrid stadium traffic, they’re still an industry leader in supporting sustainable and traceable palm oil practices, thus preventing orangutan, etc. extinction and other deforestation devastation.
Say No To Unsustainable Untraceable Palm Oil
Alas, we can have our chocolate and eat it too!

Breakfast Bake

Every single taste bud that’s met this hearty, healthy Breakfast Bake have all consistently drooled delightful complements. (Thank you ALL for inspiring this recipe!)

a breakfast bake

This make ahead or anytime meal is versatile, easy and always guaranteed to be egg-cellent!
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(8 – 12 servings)
9 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups low fat cottage cheese and/or Greek yogurt
3 – 4 cups cheese (cheddar, gouda, swiss, etc.)
1 – 2 cups chopped ham, black beans, quinoa, spinach and/or kale
3 – 5 cups shredded potatoes (fresh or frozen)
1 onion, fine chopped and sautéed (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper (optional)
1 – 2 cloves garlic (optional)
1.) Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
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2.) Transfer to a prepared dish.
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3.) Refrigerate overnight or bake immediately.
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4.) Bake at 350 degrees about 45 minutes.
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5.) Serve piping hot!
a breakfast bake

The amazing Breakfast Bake came about as part of a kick-start celebration the morning of hubby‘s 30th birthday. That day both of our dreams came true. I surprised hubs with his very own kegerator and we hosted our first Thanksgiving in a new home large enough to accommodate the whole family. Fast forward, in just a couple months hubby will be 35 years young!

Brian's 30th Birthday & 1st ThanksgivingBrian's 30th Birthday & 1st Thanksgiving Brian's 30th Birthday & 1st Thanksgiving Brian's 30th Birthday & 1st Thanksgiving

A Breakfast Bake can easily be split into single servings, makes tasty leftovers (refrigerated or frozen) and is perfect for serving a crowd, especially an overnight crowd. If prepared the night before, simply roll out of bed and pop that baby in the oven for 45 minutes while you have coffee, get dressed and/or make a fruit salad.

Breakfast BakeThe brunch crowds we’ve hosted lately have been a fabulous excuse to make my favorite Baked French Toast with cabin apples and Breakfast Bakes a’plenty!

Breakfast Bake

Last week we had a Breakfast Bake with ham and smoked gouda left from Mom’s party.

Band Reunion

This bake marked a family send off of sorts. They’d flown in from Kansas a few days prior for a high school band reunion.

Band Reunion

Dad, Aunt Linda and Cousin Dennis rocked out with their old bands The Halfways and Turning Image. The whole crew put on an awesome show!

(click to enlarge photos)

Band Reunion Band Reunion  Band Reunion Band Reunion Band Reunion Band Reunion Band Reunion Band Reunion Band Reunion Band Reunion Band Reunion Band ReunionBand Reunion Band Reunion Band Reunion Band Reunion Band Reunion Band Reunion Band Reunion Band Reunion Band Reunion Band Reunion Band Reunion Band Reunion                 Most recently we brunched with a sautéed onion, spinach, ham and cheddar Breakfast Bake in the name of football.

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The boys and I even indulged in some Sunday Funday mimosas! They deemed this particular Breakfast Bake “The Yellow Stuff” but I wasn’t sold on that name.

Breakfast BakeWhatever you call it, this Breakfast Bake is an all around easy pleaser!