RECAP // October 2014 on Dig This Jive

| October 31, 2014

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Trippin’. I was straight trippin’ this month, but in a completely literal sense.

Between South Pasadena, Santa Barbara, and Joshua Tree, my husband, me and my growing bump logged in some awesome miles around the southern half of our beloved Golden State. We brunched in a hidden city in LA County and admired classic cars painted in saturated colors of the spectrum. We took in views of the ocean from a part of the coast I hadn’t visited before and picnicked in a park with a fine view of a historic mission. We relived the quiet and calm of sitting for hours in the shade of towering monzogranite boulders. And we did it all just as thermostats began to fall under the 80-degree mark.

October is great time to hit the road. Does that mean November is ideal for nesting? I guess we’ll see.

TOC-Features

10 THINGS: CRAVINGS | What a preggo wants to eat, a preggo gets, even if she regrets it later.

TEN-MINUTE TRIVIA: HAVE A HORRORIFIC HALLOWEEN | Sharpen your horror film knowledge with this 10-question quiz.

TOC-Food-and-Drink

PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP BARS | When pumpkin meets chocolate, it’s a very good thing.

TOC-Travel

MY GO-TO SPOT FOR PAN DE SAL IN SAN DIEGO | The Ranchos Peñasquitos bakery I hit up for Filipino baked goods.

4 SAN DIEGO SPOTS FOR PUMPKIN TREATS | What Bread & Cie, Big Joy Family, Bake Sale Bakery, and Bear Buns Bakery have in store to satisfy your taste for pumpkin.

SOUTH PASADENA | Taking in coffee, brunch and a classic car show on Mission Street in South Pas.

SANTA BARBARA | Places to eat and relax like a Santa Barbara local.

JOSHUA TREE 2014 | Camping and climbing in Joshua Tree National Park, California.

TOC-Philanthropy-Charity

BIKE MS BAY TO BAY TOUR 2014 | My husband goes the distance–150 miles–to help raise awareness about multiple sclerosis.

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Bike MS Bay to Bay Tour 2014

| October 29, 2014

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A couple of weekends ago, my husband rode in the Bike MS Bay to Bay Tour. It was his third year participating, and the second time he committed to the 150-mile route. The Saturday leg of the ride was 100 miles (aka a century); it started in Irvine and traveled south to Solana Beach, then east through Rancho Santa Fe to Lake Hodges, north to San Marcos and the 78 highway, and then west to the Sheraton Carlsbad. The Sunday leg was 50 miles and ended in Mission Bay.

I’m damn proud of him.

His training began some time in June and consisted of riding to work while the summer days were still long, riding on Saturday mornings with a local Trek Group, and riding on his own on Sunday mornings. The rides would take between one to a few hours, depending on the length of the course and whether or not there were hills. And, yup: He trained through the crazy summer heat waves, when the temperature at 7:00 a.m. was a muggy 75 degrees and went nowhere but up and up (and up) as the mornings turned into afternoons.

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When the Bike MS weekend finally arrived, my husband prepped that Friday night to reduce the amount of thinking needed Saturday morning. You see, he and other SD riders who didn’t book a hotel in Irvine had to catch a charter bus at 4:30 a.m. that Saturday to get themselves, their gear, and their bikes to the starting line. And, when you aren’t used to being somewhat level-headed at that hour, you devise a plan the night before that’s, hopefully, foolproof.

He cleaned his bike, oiled its gears, and placed it in his car. He set up his water bottles on the kitchen counter to remind himself to fill and pack them in the morning. He packed three bags, one of which included his breakfast and went up with him while the other two went up with me when I drove up to Carlsbad later Saturday morning. After checking, double-checking, and running it all by me in case I could think of anything he’d forgotten, we went to bed at 10:30 p.m.

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On Saturday morning, my phone alarm went off at 3:30 a.m., followed by his clock radio five minutes later. He dressed, then prepped the water and sports drink he’d later pack onto his bike. After graciously posing for a few photos, he left for Mission Bay to catch the charter bus, and I went back to bed to sleep until a reasonable Saturday morning hour.

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I made it to Carlsbad around 11:00 a.m. and was joined by my parents and in-laws at the Day 1 finish line to cheer on the riders and keep a look out for my husband.

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After starting the ride around 8:00 a.m., my husband flew past us and up to the finish about six hours later!

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He and I stayed in Carlsbad overnight so that he could sleep in a little longer on Sunday morning, i.e., until 7:00 a.m. After a quick continental breakfast at our hotel, I dropped him off at the starting line at 7:30 a.m. and then took a leisurely drive down the PCH, eventually heading to Hospitality Point in Mission Bay to wait for him to cross the final finish line.

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I admire the man I married. When he makes up his mind to attack a goal, especially one meant to take its toll physically, he’s all in. He doesn’t flake on his commitment no matter how hard it becomes to reach the finish line. He has an amazing ability to push through self-doubt in order to visualize the end, not because he feels entitled to win, but because he trusts himself to work hard to get where he wants to go.

My husband described the 150-mile ride as a challenge that was often times what-the-hell-was-I-thinking painful, but overall exhilarating. So, of course, he plans to relive that bittersweet feeling next year. Come the end of May 2015, he’ll participate in AIDS Life Cycle, a 7-day journey that starts in San Francisco and ends in Los Angeles. Joining him on that trek will be his older sister, Anne, and our friend Dre.

And cheering with me at the AIDS Life Cycle finish line will be our baby boy! My husband and I can’t wait.

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Ten-Minute Trivia: Have a Horrorific Halloween

| October 27, 2014

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Halloween is this Friday! To celebrate, see if you can score 10 out of 10 of this quiz put together by my friend, TK. The theme is horror films.

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  1. The casting of Jamie Lee Curtis in “Halloween” was seen as a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock, who had cast Jamie’s mom in one of his iconic films. In which film did Hitchcock cast Jamie’s mom? | CLICK FOR ANSWER
  2. In John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” what needs to be tested to make sure someone isn’t the creature? | CLICK FOR ANSWER
  3. One of the killers in the original “Scream” was named Billy Loomis. “Loomis” was actually an homage to a classic film. Which film was Loomis an homage to: (A) “Nightmare on Elm Street,” (B) “Friday the 13th,” (C) “Halloween,” or (D) “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”? | CLICK FOR ANSWER
  4. Zack Snyder’s directorial debut was a remake of which George A. Romero zombie film? | CLICK FOR ANSWER
  5. Name all three of Jack Skellington’s assistants in “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” | CLICK FOR ANSWER
  6. One of NBC’s “Friends” started their film career with a credited role in “Leprechaun.” Which “Friend” was it: (A) Courtney Cox, (B) Jennifer Aniston, (C) Lisa Kudrow, or (D) Matt LeBlanc? | CLICK FOR ANSWER
  7. What is the name of the main villain in the film “Hellraiser”? | CLICK FOR ANSWER
  8. In the first “Final Destination” film, the kids almost died in a plane. Where did the kids almost die in “Final Destination 3″: (A) a roller coaster, (B) a mall, (C) a bridge, or (D) a racetrack? | CLICK FOR ANSWER
  9. How many actors have portrayed adult-aged Jason Voorhees in the “Friday the 13th” series: (A) 5, (B) 7, (C) 9, or (D) 12? | CLICK FOR ANSWER
  10. In the film “Insidious,” the song “Tip Toe Through the Tulips” plays as the red-faced demon sharpens its claws. Who is the artist singing this version of “Tip Toe Through the Tulips”? | CLICK FOR ANSWER

(Image from fanpop.com)

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RECIPE // Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

| October 24, 2014

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“Are you ready for me to eat four of these in a row?” asked my husband. He was standing at our dining table, holding up the whiteboard backdrop in the above photo since I couldn’t keep it propped up no matter what I’d tried.

I smiled to myself at the thought. I knew he fell for these pumpkin bars, a Martha Stewart recipe, after trying one from my test batch. Both he and I dig the combination of the earthy pumpkin spices with the semisweet chocolate chips and the bars’ dense yet cakey texture.

Still, eating four in a row? At the time, he was training for the 150-mile Bike MS Bay to Bay Tour and eating healthy was his go-to. So, I naturally assumed he was joking. Later, when I checked on the container in which I’d stored the rest of my latest batch, I noticed that four bars were indeed missing.

“I warned you,” he said.

To make these squares, I stocked up on all purpose flour, baking soda, salt, 2 sticks of unsalted butter that I’d left out to come to room temperature (an important detail!), granulated sugar, large eggs, vanilla extract, a 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree, a 12 ounce-package of semisweet chocolate chips, and pumpkin pie spice (a seasonal ingredient I was able to find at Trader Joe’s).

If you aren’t able to find pumpkin pie spice, Martha Stewart says you can make your own by combining 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoons of ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon each of ground allspice and ground cloves.

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As for baking tools, the big-ticket items I gathered were a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, a medium mixing bowl, a large mixing bowl, measuring cups for dry ingredients, and my stand-up electric mixer (though a hand-held electric mixer will do).

Want to give it a go?

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees and preparing the baking pan. While Martha recommends lining the pan with foil, I prefer greasing it with butter then dusting it with flour. This way, the bottom, edges, and corners of the resulting cake are smooth instead of occasionally indented from hairline creases in the pressed-out foil.

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Whisk 2 cups of all purpose flour (each of which has been spooned into a measuring cup and leveled), 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice in a medium mixing bowl until well combined. Set aside.

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Next, in a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to combine 1 1/4 cups sugar and both sticks of the room temperature unsalted butter until smooth (if you’re using a stand-up mixer and the paddle attachment, you’ll see it go through stages a-d below). Remember, you won’t get the necessary smooth texture unless the unsalted butter is at room temperature.

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Beat 1 large egg and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract into the creamed butter and sugar until well combined.

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Then beat 1 cup of pumpkin puree into the wet ingredients, and don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled. It isn’t; it just appears that way.

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Now, mix in the dry ingredients from the medium mixing bowl into the wet ingredients until just combined. If you choose to use your electric mixer to bring the ingredients together, dribble the dry ingredients slowly and carefully. As for me, I do this part by hand to reduce the poofing of dry ingredients into the air as I add it to the wet ingredients. Lebron James, I am not.

Just keep in mind: If you also opt to do this part without the use of the electric mixer, drizzle a half cup of the dry mixture onto the wet mixture at a time until it’s all been incorporated. Be careful not to overmix!

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Finally, fold in the chocolate chips.

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To make sure the batter is spread evenly throughout the prepared pan, I spoon lumps of the thick batter across the pan, then spread it from the center out to the edges and corners.

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Then, bake the beautiful beast on a rack set in the center of the preheated oven until the cake’s edges just begin to pull away from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center of the pan comes out with few moist crumbs attached, about 35-40 minutes.

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Let the cake cool completely in the pan. Once cooled, getting the cake out of the pan depends on how you’d prepared the pan:

  • If you buttered-and-floured the pan like I did, cover the top of the pan with a cutting board that’s wide enough to cover the pan top, carefully turn the pan and cutting board over so that the pan is sitting upside-down on the cutting board, and watch the cake slowly slide itself onto the board.
  • If you lined the pan with foil, carefully lift the cake out of the pan by the foil overhang, set a cutting board on top of the cake, flip both over so that the cake top is resting on the cutting board and the foil side is facing up, and peel the foil off of the cake.

Then, use a serrated knife to cut the cake into 32 squares and prepare to defend the dessert from any pumpkin-pastry lovers in your household until you’re ready to serve them.

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***
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars
Recipe from Martha Stewart
Makes 32 squares // 30 minutes prep, 35-40 minutes to bake


2 cups all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice (such as found at Trader Joe’s during the fall)
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 12 ounce-package semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, either by greasing the bottom, sides, and corners with butter and then dusting it all with flour, or following Martha Stewart’s method of lining the entire baking pan with enough foil to leave an overhang on all sides.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt until you no longer see dark clumps of pie spice. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the room temperature butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat the mixture until just combined (you should no longer see bubbling from the egg or dark streaks of vanilla). Beat in the pumpkin puree until the mixture appears curdled.
  4. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients from the medium bowl into the wet ingredients in the large bowl until just combined, being careful not to overmix (you shouldn’t see any streaks of dry ingredients). Fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared pan and spread it out evenly. Bake on a rack set in the middle of the 350-degree oven until the cake’s edges just begin to pull away from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 35-40 minutes. Cool completely in the pan.
  6. If you buttered-and-floured the pan, cover the top of the pan with a wide-enough cutting board and carefully turn the pan over to release the cake onto the cutting board. If you lined the pan with foil, gently lift the cake out of the pan by the overhang, set a cutting board on the cake top, flip the cake and board so that the foil is facing up, and peel off the foil. Use a serrated knife to cut the cake into 32 bars.
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4 San Diego Spots for Pumpkin Treats

| October 23, 2014

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Do you have a hankering for something sweet made with October’s quintessential varietal of squash? Then consider making a stop at any one of these four San Diego outposts, each of which are capitalizing on our taste for pumpkin… everything.

And if you know of other local San Diego spots shelling out food and drinks using the seasonal orange fruit (according to the Mayo Clinic), please leave a comment!

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This moist slab of sweet-and-savory bread packs a spicy lowlight with every bite thanks to the chipotle baked into it. Each serving is individually wrapped and available to grab-and-go from a basket near the register; just look for it as you turn the corner from the cookie display. This Hillcrest mainstay is also serving pumpkin cheesecakes, pumpkin tartlets the size of a round appetizer plate, and roasted pumpkin bisque. 350 University Avenue, breadandcie.com

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Despite the intense orange color of the meringues, these delicate french pastries harbor an equally delicate pumpkin flavor. Currently at $2 a pop, they add a little bit of fall and Halloween to an afternoon coffee or evening hot chocolate. Get them at their freshest on Thursdays. 4176 Convoy Street, bigjoyfamily.com

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Served up at the youngest sibling of the Cafe 222 and Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant family, this dense pumpkin cake gets a tasty boost from the piped-on caramel cream cheese frosting and the sprinkling of toasted pumpkin seeds and sea salt. The East Village gem is also offering up slices of spongy pumpkin rolled cake with cream cheese filling as well as a made-with-real-pumpkin pumpkin latte which can be served hot or iced, and as caffeinated or non-caffeinated as you like. Should you scrap the caff all together, make sure you also ask to dial back the pumps of simple syrup, too. 815 F Street, bakesalesd.com

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“Pumpkin Palooza is Back” notes the blackboard behind the register of this Serra Mesa coffee and baked goods den. Though the dessert is called a cookie, its consistency tastes more like a cupcake and that’s not a bad thing. To make good on its palooza claim, the punny locale popular for its cinnamon buns is also dishing out pumpkin spice muffins, pumpkin spice cake, and your choice of hot, iced, or frozen pumpkin lattes. 3251 Greyling Drive, mybearbuns.com

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