The Real Housewife of Santa Monica

Archive of ‘Kids Like It!’ category

Z Garden

**UPDATE: Z Garden does indeed have high chairs!**

This place opened up a year or so ago across Pico from Virginia Park. When I saw the sign, “Healthy Mediterranean Food” I thought, “Yeah, RIGHT!” b/c that building had housed cheap & UNhealthy Mexican food before that. Some buildings seem to doom whichever restaurants inhabit them.

G took the girls there last July when I was out of town. He claimed it good. I thought, “Yeah RIGHT!” since G doesn’t have taste buds.

Finally I tried it out last week after a Clover Park day with my friend and her kids. SO good! I forgot to take pix so I went back again last weekend.

G ordered extra pita & humus.

Extra humus & pita

I got the falafel pita sandwich.

Hey, that was MY salad!!

G & the girls shared the salmon entree.

Doesn’t that look yummy?

Click HERE for the menu if you’re interested.

There is indoor & outdoor seating. I don’t think they have high chairs but maybe they’d get them if you asked?? The owner is super friendly!

Z Garden
2350 Pico Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90405

http://www.zgarden.net

Noah’s Ark @ The Skirball Center

People who know me know I hate driving. The more you don’t drive, the less you want to drive. Also, I think my eyesight is going and I’m dreading that puff-of-air-on-the-eyeball test at the optometrist. Regardless of my first world (non)issues, I heard about the Noah’s Ark Exhibit at the Skirball Center from loads of people and decided that, since M might be in school full time next year, I’d better get her over there while I still could.

You need to make a reservation ahead of time. This can be done online and is great as it keeps it from being too crowded.

Here’s the link to the ticket info ($5 for kids over 2, $10 for adults).

Thursdays are free but since Thursday didn’t work out for us that week, we went on Friday after M’s Spanish class.

I was worried about braving the 405 only to find a crowded, hot & sweaty indoor playground covered with whatever the kids had for lunch. I also dreaded the parking situation which is a rational fear when you live in LA. All my fears were for naught!

It was a Friday afternoon around 12:45PM. When we pulled up, ours was the only car. There were plenty of parking spots. Parking is FREE!!! Parking is easy. You won’t lose your car here!

We shared a quick sandwich on the patio.

M is wearing her Aunt Charlotte’s vintage dress. How cute is that?

What is Noah’s Ark, you ask? Just what it sounds like – a massive wooden ark in the basement of the Skirball Center. It’s amazing!

Kids can rotate, slide, turn, pull levers, gears, wheels and stuffed animals (though not necessarily in that order!)

There’s a mini ark inside the big ark!

Comfy walrus chairs to rest on.

On the other side of the ark, children can make crafts. Today they were weaving.

Sometimes the animals …ahem…poop.

They have little brooms & dustpans to clean it up.

You can climb the ladder to the second floor.

And head back down on the walkway.

The tickets are for 2 hours. Which is perfect.

Noah’s Ark Exhibit
Skirball Cultural Center
$10 General
$7 Seniors
$5 Children 2-12
Free to all visitors on Thursdays

(Be sure to read the website for more info – for example: tickets much be purchased ahead of time online for Thursdays and other days.)

There’s a cafe and sandwich/salad cart. Parking is free!!

pasta with sautéed broccoli & tomatoes

You know those nights you’re so sick of serving pasta with jar sauce? Yet, you know you’ll still be serving pasta out of some weakness of character? This is the recipe for you!

Our friend, Liana, made this over vacation. It’s the perfect meal for a large crowd – especially a large crowd who just hiked for several hours at altitude carrying toddlers. When we got home she threw this together & everyone loved it!

It’s so easy & satisfying.

You need:

INGREDIENTS:
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb dried pasta (I used whole wheat)
1 head broccoli, cut into small pieces (I use the stems too – peeled & sliced)
1 can diced tomatoes
a couple of handfuls of baby spinach
salt & pepper to taste
fresh parmesan cheese
OPTIONAL: crushed red pepper to taste

Heat water in large pot for pasta. When water has started boiling, add salt & pasta.

Heat your oil in a large skillet. I only have a medium sized skillet. But if I had a large one, that’s what I would’ve used!

Add garlic & cook for about a minute, stirring occasionally.

Add broccoli & stir to coat with oil.

Cover & lower heat to medium-low. Cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Test a piece of broccoli – it should be just tender but still have some crunch.

Remove lid & add tomatoes. This will give it some “juice” too!

Top with a couple of handfuls of spinach, stir to combine & turn heat up to medium.

Meanwhile, cocktail hour Legos.

When spinach has just barely wilted, remove from heat.

When pasta is done, drain & drizzle with olive oil to keep it from sticking.

In a large bowl or pot, combine pasta & veggies. Adjust salt & pepper to taste.

Serve with sprinkled parmesan cheese!

Either my kids loved this or they were starving to death.

All gone!

pasta with sautéed broccoli & tomatoes
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4-6
 

Quick & tasty pasta/veggie dish sure to please a big crowd!
Ingredients
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb dried pasta (I used whole wheat)
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into small pieces (I use the stems too – peeled & sliced)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • a couple of handfuls of baby spinach
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • fresh parmesan cheese
  • OPTIONAL: crushed red pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. Heat water in large pot for pasta. When water has started boiling, add salt & pasta.
  2. Heat your oil in a large skillet. I only have a medium sized skillet. But if I had a large one, that’s what I would’ve used!
  3. Add garlic & cook for about a minute, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add broccoli & stir to coat with oil.
  5. Cover & lower heat to medium-low. Cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Test a piece of broccoli – it should be just tender but still have some crunch.
  6. Remove lid & add tomatoes. This will give it some “juice” too!
  7. Top with a couple of handfuls of spinach, stir to combine & turn heat up to medium.
  8. When spinach has just barely wilted, remove from heat.
  9. When pasta is done, drain & drizzle with olive oil to keep it from sticking.
  10. In a large bowl or pot, combine pasta & veggies. Adjust salt & pepper to taste.
  11. Serve with sprinkled parmesan cheese and/or crushed red pepper if you like it!

 

Creamy Kermit Smoothie

Here’s a variation on the Kermit smoothie I posted a week or so ago.

I tried a strawberry banana smoothie. Kids did not like it. I tried a creamy pineapple smoothie with coconut milk & honey. FAIL.

So I changed up the Green (Kermit) smoothie a bit and the kids loved it! They want GREEN and I’m happy to oblige…

I don’t really measure ingredients when I make smoothies but here’s a list of the ingredients with the amounts roughly estimated:
1 c frozen pineapple
1 c frozen mango
1-2 c apple juice (I used Santa Cruz Organic which is supposedly made only of apples & water.)
1 large handful spinach
3 heaping spoonfuls of plain yogurt (I used Greek non-fat)

OPTIONAL:
ground flax seed
chia seed

Blend & blend! I use just as much juice as I need to get the thickness that will flow through a wide straw.

YUM!

Serve with a little granola. I made the granola the day prior after a roasted artichokes with lemon thyme butter sauce FAIL. I am going to work on that artichoke recipe & post when it works out because the butter sauce is excellent!! Anyway, the granola is really easy but I did another dunderhead move with that which I’ll share in the next post.

Vegetable Barley Soup

It has been warm here all week. Like in the 80′s. But I didn’t let that stop me from making a vegetable barley soup with homemade rustic bread! In LA it cools down at night anyway so even people from So. Cal. can snuggle inside…

Here’s what you need:

Btw: you can change out the veggies according to what’s in season near you, what you have in the house, what you like etc.

INGREDIENTS:
2 TBS olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
4 carrots, shredded
1 zucchini, chopped
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can garbanzo beans
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3 bay leaves
freshly ground black pepper to taste (or pre-ground!)
1 tsp salt (adjust to taste based on the salt content of your broth & diced tomatoes)
fresh ground pepper to taste

First chop your onion. People, I want to share how I chop onions. I am not a chef or anything so, if you already have a great way, or a way you learned at Le Cordon Bleu etc. just go on by. Otherwise, after years of the most inefficient chopping, I’ve been using this technique.

Here we go:

First, cut off that useless end. By useless, I mean the end that was never connected to anything. AKA the “tunic.” (NOT the roots.)

Now, place that cut side down & cut the onion in half through the root.

You have two halves. Take the skin off both of them. Place one of the halves on its side.

and cut very thin slices. (Unless you need chunky pieces!) I have been conditioned by my family to make onions DISAPPEAR so I cut them pretty thin. Once you’ve made all your slices, rotate the onion (keeping it together) and slice them thinly the other way.

You should have some pretty small pieces.

Prep all the vegetables first. I do it the night before when the kids are asleep… I decided to grate the carrots because they cook a lot faster and are more challenging for the kids to pick out. It’s fun to watch them try!!

Now we can start cooking!

1. Heat a large pot (this makes a lot of soup) using medium heat. Add oil & when it’s heated, add onions, stirring to coat. Cook for about 4-5 minutes or until onions are translucent.

2. Add garlic, stir & cook for another minute. Add celery & stir to coat. Saute another 1 minute.

3. Add zucchini & carrots, stir to coat. Cook another 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I threw the bay leaves at this point, then took them back out. Just wanted to see if you were paying attention…

4. Add spices & sugar and stir to combine evenly.

Try to collect your thoughts while this is going on.

I don’t know why everyone is in the kitchen?

Take away breakable dishes from the 1 year old.

5. Add tomatoes & garbanzos.

Mmmmmmm…

6. Add barley, broth & bay leaves.

7. Bring to a boil. Then turn down & simmer on low for about 45 minutes or until the chick peas & barley are soft.

Add black pepper to taste & serve with the easiest homemade rustic bread in the world. Or with store bought rustic bread!

The stars must’ve aligned because both my kids liked and ate both the soup & the bread. Amazing!

Adapted from AllRecipes “Beaker’s Vegetable Barley Soup.”

Vegetable Barley Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4-6
 

A yummy, healthy, hearty soup that pairs perfectly with a loaf of crusty bread!
Ingredients
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 4 carrots, shredded
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can garbanzo beans
  • 32 oz vegetable broth (start with this amount & then add another 16 oz if desired – it is a thick soup)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste (or pre-ground!)
  • 1 tsp salt (adjust to taste based on the salt content of your broth & diced tomatoes)
  • fresh ground pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. Saute onion in a large sauce/soup pan for 4-5 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add garlic, stir & cook for another minute. Add celery & stir to coat. Cook for another minute.
  2. Add zucchini & carrots, stir and cook for another 4 minutes.
  3. Add sugar & spice(s) & stir to coat evenly.
  4. Add tomatoes, garbanzos, barley, 32 oz of the broth (you can add more later if desired as soup will be quite thick) & bay leaves.
  5. Heat to boil, then simmer on low for 45 minutes or until barley & garbanzos are soft.
  6. Add salt/black pepper and/or additional broth if needed.

Notes
Next time I’ll try it with cauliflower and/or mushrooms. I like crimini mushrooms b/c of the flavor. I might try it without the garbanzos next time too. Adapted from AllRecipes “Beaker’s Vegetable Barley Soup.”

 



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