Avocado Dip and Getting Back to the Basics

So much has happened. I went to Coachella and it was ahhhh-mazing!

You are probably thinking, Coachella, wow, aren’t you a little old for that? And the answer is no, well I hope not. You are never too old to go to a music festival and dance your heart out in a desert sand storm for 3 straight days. Right Grandpa?

Granted I came home looking tired and a few years older, it’s what’s inside that counts, and I came home feeling young!

Young and rebellious. Like I didn’t have to live according to societies rules anymore. I mean we make our own realities, right? Why couldn’t we just home school our kids in an RV while traveling from festival to festival? YOLO! (Mom- yolo stands for- you only live once:)

It took about a week for the Coachella aftershocks to wear off. And as the fog began to lift, it became perfectly clear that if I dragged my kids around to festivals they would grow up to be worse than Lindsey Lohan.

For the same reasons I explain to my children, if it was your birthday everyday it wouldn’t be special. Besides there is a certain beauty and security in the everyday life. I know there is, sometimes it’s just hard to feel.

So now it’s back to the basics. Going to the gym, parent-teacher conferences, packing lunch boxes, paying bills, sitting in a sweltering hot, swimming pool size petri-dish counting the minutes till gymnastics is over while a toddler repeatedly rams a toy truck into my leg. You know.

Thinking about getting back to the basics made me think a lot about Maui Flour Child. To be honest, it’s not all White Sauce Pizzettas and Red Wine Poached Pears around here. You can’t eat fancy food everyday nor can you go to Coachella every weekend. Boo.

So I thought I’d start a unit on my basic recipes. I mean, you know a lot about me, but you don’t even know my shredded chicken taco recipe yet. We have a lot to cover. Let’s begin with this fabulously simple Creamy Avocado Dip.

I love me a good chunky guacamole but this avocado dip is so versatile and flavorful that it has become a staple whenever I make Mexican food.  Don’t you think it would be yummy in a squeeze bottle and drizzled over this Tortilla Chip Crusted Shrimp? Or what if you made it a little thinner and tossed it with a edamame cucumber salad? I’m just thinking out loud here.  And getting very hungry.

Here’s what we will need:

2 ripe avocados

1 jalapeño (with the seeds, live a little)

1 clove garlic

a handful of cilantro

a generous pinch of kosher salt

some pepper

a dash of cumin

1 cup milk

Here’s what we are going to do:

Put music on loud. Put everything except the milk into the cusinart.

Turn it on and slowly add the milk until you get a nice creamy consistency. Not too thick, not too thin. Taste. Make sure there’s enough salt or else it will be bland, and that’s no way to live. Unless your doctor says… Since all avocados are not created equal, you be the judge of how much milk to add.

Get you bag of chips.

Creamy + Cool + Spicy= Ahhhh-mazing


353 Days till Coachella 2014,


Last Days of Summer Salad with White Balsamic Fig Vinaigrette

Grilled Shrimp and Nectarine Salad

Summer, please don’t end!

I know it wasn’t long ago that I was counting down the days till school started. I just didn’t have my summer groove on yet. Now that I finally found it, you’re telling me it’s over? Noooooooooooo!

I want to sleep in with my kids and stay in our pj’s till 9, and go to the beach, and jump off piers, and go on road trips that take us hundreds of miles out of cell phone range. For the last few weeks I’ve felt like the crying little kid who doesn’t want to leave the birthday party. Admitting that the party’s over has never really been one of my strengths.

Like it or not, summer vacation is coming to an end. I have that nagging Sunday feeling inside that makes it hard to fully relax. Monday morning is right around the corner and you’d better be ready. [Read more…]

Jessica’s Montana Kale Salad

Montana Kale SaladOne of my favorite things about going to the mainland is ROAD TRIPS! Yes, we torture our children with long drives, loud music, scenic routes, and stops at strange stores in strange towns. We have no interest in making good time and whenever asked, “Are we there yet?” we preach that the journey is equally important to the destination. I like to think they will look back on these adventures with fond memories, but time will tell.

We went on a spontaneous road trip from Idaho to Montana to visit our favorite family friends. All kinds of exciting things happened.

For one, my Mom was able to handle 3 non-stop hours of our music cranked up to road trip volume, and I even think she genuinely enjoyed some of it. Well done Mom, Montana playlist coming your way soon!

We saw 6 moose, a bald eagle nest and a yard sale that would put every episode of hoarders to shame.

We got to go wake surfing which is good fun if you haven’t tried it yet. Flathead lake was warm and glassy and Jacks boat makes an amazing, never-ending wave. The best part is when you fall in the middle of the lake and you are waiting for the boat to come back around and pick you up, you don’t even have to think about sharks.

I did think a bit about bears though later on by the campfire…

My daughters got to see hail for the first time! We were making s’mores and watching a storm get closer and closer. Everyone kept commenting on how loud the rain sounded. Surprise, hail! All 10 of us had to run for cover and wait out the storm crowded together in a small boat house. This was obviously very exciting for us Maui people, we even kept some hail and put it in the freezer.

And of course we had an amazing Montana dinner. Grilled spice rubbed pork tenderloin, homemade baked beans, and a kale salad we have been recreating every night since. Jess, I hope I do it justice!


3 C chopped Kale

2 C chopped Spinach

1 C chopped Red Cabbage

1 large diced Tomato or 12 small tomatoes

1/2 Avocado

1 cup sliced Hearts of Palm

3 slices Crumbled Bacon

2 T Blue Cheese

Balsamic Dresing

1 t Dijon mustard

3 T balsamic vinegar

1/2 C olive oil

Salt and Pepper

Trim the kale off the stems and cut it up with the spinach and cabbage. The trick here is to cut your greens small! Like your making a slaw. Put it all in your handy salad spinner and wash and spin. Cut up the rest of your salad ingredients and artfully arrange. I like to make my salad dressing in a mason jar and shake it up. Toss the salad with the salad dressing about 30 minutes before eating. The vinegar helps to tenderize the kale.




Strawberry Papaya and Grilled Chicken Salad

Strawberry Papaya and Grilled Chicken Salad

Well here we are! Oahu has welcomed us with sunny days, a fully stocked Target and light freeway traffic. We have even been blessed with visits from friends! I have to say, it is greatly appreciated to see a familiar face in an unfamiliar place.

We are in our new home, although it feels more like camping than a home. The first few days of sleeping on an air mattress and drinking wine out of plastic cups came with a hint of romance. Now it seems my limited kitchen and stiff back are starting to cramp my style. FYI when a moving company tells you it will take about a week for your container to arrive, they really mean 10 days. Plan accordingly.

I miss Maui. Yesterday my daughter took a sip of my perrier and said, “Ewww, it tastes like lipstick!” My mind was immediately flooded with a thousand memories of my own childhood. Sips off my mom’s diet coke, bites off her fork, all accompanied with the subtle taste of Estee Lauder.

I miss my mom.

Definitely time to take a break from peanut butter sandwiches and adult lego projects (thank you Office Max for selling us everything in 1000 pieces!) and cook something that reminds me of home.

This is my moms recipe, she adapted it from an old school Mama’s Fish House recipe. All you need to make this salad is a BBQ, a cutting board, a paring knife and a blender. Check.

One of my favorite things about this salad is almost all the ingredients are local so it’s ultra fresh tasting! Papayas, Oranges, Avocados, Macadamia Nuts, you could practically grow this salad if you’re that type of person.

This is also a great salad to make for a party because you can arrange all the ingredients on a platter, keep it in the fridge, then add the dressing and macadamia nuts just before serving. If you’d like to “beef” it up a bit, lay your ingredients out over a bed of spinach or arugula. Easy peasy.

Did I mention it’s also healthy?

Strawberry Papaya and Grilled Chicken Salad

2 Ripe Strawberry Papayas

2 Ripe Big Island Avocados

4 Local Oranges (I used blood oranges cause that’s what I had)

4 chicken breasts

Salt and Pepper

A handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped

1/2 Cups Chopped Macadamia Nuts

Papaya Seed Dressing (see below)

Season your chicken with salt, pepper and chopped flat leaf parsley. Grill and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing. Cut your papayas in half and scoop out the seeds saving at least 2 TB for your dressing. With a paring knife, peel off the skin. Slice up your papaya into generous strips and set aside on a plate. Cut your avocados in half and remove the seed. Use a spoon to scoop out the entire avocado and then slice into strips about the same size as your papaya. Cut the skin off your oranges, making sure to get all the bitter white part off, then slice into wheels and add to your plate. If you want to be super fancy you can segment your oranges. Ohlala.

When you’re ready, layer all your ingredients either on a large platter or on individual plates alternating chicken, papaya, avocado… Arrange your orange wheels around and finish with the salad dressing and macadamia nuts.


Papaya Seed Dressing

Papaya Seed Dressing

This salad dressing is amazing. You will never buy papaya seed dressing again. Warning: if you do, you will be sorely disappointed.

Tip: If you wipe a little oil around your measuring cup before pouring in the honey it will slide right out, no sticky mess. (Thank you Michael Chiarello, genius!)

1/2 Cup White Vinegar

2 t Dry Mustard

2 t salt

1/4 Cup Honey

1/4 Maui Onion Chopped

1/2 Cup Olive Oil

2 TB Papaya Seeds

Add the first 5 ingredients to a blender or food processor. Slowly stream in olive oil. Then add papaya seeds and blend until it looks like cracked black pepper.