Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Breakfast Bars Recipe

This is one of my favorite recipes to bake during the holidays. The bars are buttery and flakey. The raspberry jam and streusel topping are so delicious with a hot cup of coffee - I know this recipe will become one of your holiday favorites, too. 

Raspberry & Apricot bars are ready to bake!


2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1 extra-large egg, beaten

4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
½ cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 cups raspberry jam (or your favorite jam)

To prepare the topping: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder, and pulse, or mix on low, to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off or mix on low until it’s the consistency of a coarse meal.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add the egg, tossing with your hands to incorporate. It should be crumbly and uneven. Chill until ready to use.

To prepare the dough: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugars, cornstarch, and salt. Add the butter and pulse on and off, or mix on low, until the dough barely comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead to gather into a ball. Flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic to chill until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 10 x 16 inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick, flouring the surface as needed. (I like to roll it on Parchment paper then just move it to the cookie sheet.) Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, about 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool.

Spread the jam over the surface of the crust and crumble a heavy layer of topping over the jam.

Bake for about 40 minutes, until the topping is nicely browned.

When cool, cut into squares.

Source: Nancy Silverton’s Pastries from the La Brea Bakery

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Pappardelle Il Forno Recipe

Recipe adapted from Via Sforza Trattoria Restaurant in Norwalk, CT

When we lived in Connecticut we had a favorite restaurant we would visit every week. The ambiance was homey, the food was delicious, and the owners and staff treated us like family. They would let our little toddler sit at their small bar while we were waiting for a table, treating her like royalty. We literally ate there every week and one of us ordered this pasta dish almost every time. It's one of those delicious dishes that you crave and regret when you didn't order it. 

Before we left Connecticut for our big move to California, I helped organize a fundraising cookbook for the Family & Children's Agency China program. The owners at the restaurant graciously donated the recipe to be part of our cookbook. It is still a family favorite. And now I hope it will be one of yours, too.

Pappardelle Il Forno
Serves 4
Cook time: 15 minutes

10 oz bag of Pappardelle pasta, wide noodles, or egg noodles
1/2 lb bulk Italian sausage, or link sausage with casings removed, divided into 1" bites (pork or turkey. We like spicy pork!)
10 oz small baby Bella mushrooms, cut in fourths
1 large shallot diced
2, 8oz cans of plum tomato sauce
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup cream
2 oz brandy, or splash of red wine
2 T unsalted butter
salt to taste
pepper to taste
fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

In a large saute pan heat 2 T olive oil until hot. Brown sausage, then add shallots and cook for a minute. Add brandy (or wine) to deglaze the pan. Cook for a minute. Add fresh mushrooms, peas, salt and pepper. Saute for a minute. Add plum tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low.

Boil pasta noodles in salted water while sauce is simmering. Drain pasta. Add to sauce. Add butter, and Parmesan cheese. Toss together. Garnish with parsley.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Banana Sugar Cookie Recipe

by Kris Mulkey

I love when I try a twist on a recipe and it comes out great! For these cookies I used banana in a recipe that called for pumpkin and the results are oh-so-tasty. These banana sugar cookies taste like banana bread with a sweet crispy edge. I debated calling them banana bread cookies. Don thought they should be called banana snickerdoodles. But I settled on banana sugar cookies because they are light and fluffy just like a sugar cookie.

Banana Sugar Cookies

Makes 3 1/2 dozen

1 1/2 cups sugar (plus 1/2 c. more for rolling dough)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon (plus 1/2 t. for rolling dough)
1/4 t. Penzey's apple pie spice (or pumpkin pie spice)
14 T. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 t. vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
2 ripe bananas, mashed

Cinnamon Sugar: 1/2 c. sugar and 1 heaping t. cinnamon

1. In large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, 1/2 t. cinnamon and apple pie spice.
2. With your mixer on medium, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, and banana until well combined.
4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until well combined. Chill 20 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
6. Line your baking sheets with parchment or a Silpat liner.
7. Roll the dough into one inch sized balls. Roll in cinnamon sugar. Place on baking sheet 2 inches apart. Press down lightly with the bottom of a glass (lightly buttered.)
8. Bake for 15 minutes.
9. Cool on a wire rack.


Monday, September 4, 2017

A teenagers perspective. Can we blame all the downfalls of a generation on technology?

Guest post by Elli Mulkey, age 15, High School Junior
Getty Image
Technology Takeover
As time goes on, everything around us is aging: ourselves, trees in the backyard, the dog sleeping next to you, the technology in your hands. The article Post-Millennials! Please Go Drink And Smoke And Have Sex In The Woods by Mark Morford is blaming all technology on how kids are these days. The author wrote that “we might be one of the most narcissistic generations, ever.” Smart devices aren’t the only thing wrong in this generation, they have given us great advantages. Can we really blame all the downfalls of a generation on an object?
First I want to state that I can agree with what Morford is writing. There are people out there who can’t go one minute without talking about himself/herself or can’t go one minute without their phone glued to their hand. I believe that the generation with complete tech takeover is starting at the class of 2021. Those kids have been exposed to smart technology since they were born. Most of them that I know all had any model iPhone as their first phone. It opened them up to a world that they weren’t ready for. For my first phone I had a Pantech Pursuit, same goes for my friends. Those chunky little flip phones came with texting, calling, and no data. I wasn’t even sure what data was at the time. Now in restaurants I see babies already with an iPad stuck to their lap. It’s insane to me that a parent would rather give their child a show to watch instead of trying to have a nice family night out. Whatever happened to crayons and paper?
Morford writes how our generation is arrogant and narcissistic. A reason for that could be the media. It makes people post/show the better part of themselves (appearance.) You could say it’s fishing for compliments to feel better about themselves or they know it already and wanna show it off. Which is why that’s a good example of the selfishness in the generation.
This article has brought up so many opinions from different people in our classroom and I believe all of them to be valid. They brought up statistics, like the rate of depression increasing and the decline of dating/going out. Now that we have this smart phone with media and all that jazz, we don’t need to go out anymore right? Well how did we get that smart phone? How did the cyber bullying start on your profile? We have to remember that behind every screen starts with a human being. When I saw that baby in the restaurant the parent was the one who had given him/her the iPad. It’s not like a baby can go to the store and buy one itself. If human beings are the ones controlling technology we should be able to use it in an appropriate way.
Personally, I don’t like to go on my phone very much. I try to stay off it as much as possible when I’m with my friends, it allows me to talk more with them or have “thinking time” when there is the occasional stop in the conversation. People believe that going on social media and scrolling through their feed is a stress reliever or just a way to relax, and it is.  But there is a difference between those people, and those who don’t have self control. They go to a point where they are on their phone and find themselves in the same place an hour or two later.
Like I said in the beginning of my piece, technology is advancing. So I don’t expect to see every little kid with a chunky flip phone. I expect to see this privilege with more restriction when it comes to the accessibility of data and media. To me it’s an easy choice. I would rather be out there in the world exploring everything as much as possible. I don't want to just look at pictures of beautiful places, I want to see them and then go after it myself. You only get to experience this universe once so why would you live it in a phone?

Morford, Mark. “Post-Millennials! Please Go Drink and Smoke and Have Sex in the Woods.” SFGate, 4 Aug. 2017,

Twenge, Jean M. “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 4 Aug. 2017,

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Parmesan Smashed Cauliflower recipe

If you love mashed potatoes, but don't want all the calories, then you should try this mashed cauliflower recipe. They are creamy, cheesy and pretty darn awesome. 

The version I make is about half the calories of mashed potatoes and just as tasty. Serve them alongside a nice grilled steak and you have a delicious dinner which will rival any steakhouse.

Parmesan Smashed Cauliflower
serves 4-6

1 large head of cauliflower
1/4 cup + 2 T Parmesan cheese
1 oz cream cheese
1/4 t. chicken base (Better Than Bouillon)
1 garlic clove minced
salt and pepper to taste

Set a pot of water to boil over high heat with a steamer basket in the pot. 

Clean and cut cauliflower into small pieces. Cook in boiling water for about 15 minutes, or until well done. Drain well. Leave cauliflower in hot pan and with the heat off stir it around in the pan. You want the cauliflower to be as dry as possible.

Use your immersion blender, or in a food processor, puree the hot cauliflower until almost smooth. Stir in the cream cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan, minced garlic, chicken base, salt and pepper. 

Pour mixture into an oven proof dish. Top with 2 T shredded Parmesan cheese and broil until golden brown.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Casa Chicken Recipe

From the Mulkey family recipe archives....

Do you love chicken and curry? Then you are going to love Casa Chicken. This recipe is super easy to make and is ready in less than 30 minutes.

Every family has their favorite recipes - those craveable flavors you can taste and smell in your mind. This recipe for Casa Chicken is a Mulkey family recipe that Don's mom used to make all the time. It has a great curry flavor, super moist chicken and tons of sauce to smother over rice. And the best part is all the ingredients for the sauce are pantry staples. So on those nights when you don't know what to make you know you can always whip together Casa Chicken in less than 30 minutes.

Casa Chicken
Serves 4-6

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, each cut into 3 or 4 pieces
3/4 t. onion salt
3/4 t. black pepper
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 T prepared mustard
1/2 t. curry powder
2 1/4 cups water
2 bay leaves
2 T cornstarch
2 T water
3 T olive oil

Rinse and dry chicken. Sprinkle with onion salt and pepper. Brown in a large skillet with olive oil.
Sauce: Blend together ketchup, soy sauce, mustard, curry, 2 1/4 cups water and bay leaves. Pour over chicken. Cover and simmer until chicken is tender. Blend cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water. Stirring constantly, add mixture gradually to sauce and cook until thickened into gravy consistency. Serve with rice and steamed broccoli (or your favorite vegetable.)


Do you have a favorite family recipe? I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Getting Back in Shape

TRX at In-Shape Health Clubs
If I could give just one piece of advice to people in their 30's and 40's it would be to stay active, work out weekly and keep building muscle. Because as you get older it's really important to have muscle mass and getting back in shape is really hard. It hurts. A lot. My muscles hurt for days sometimes because the muscles are nonexistent. Had I been working out all this time this wouldn't be happening. But I didn't. So here I am.

I have also learned that all that hiking and walking I was doing is great. But it did nothing to build my core strength and upper body. It would have been much easier to have been doing some sort of strength training all along.

The good news is it's not too late to start. You can get back in shape at any age and it doesn't take that long with a little bit of focus.

Here are the things I'm doing to get back in shape.

Working out at the gym/club
Lucky for me I work for a chain of health clubs called In-Shape Health Clubs. I love the club because I like having a variety of things to do (strength, cardio, pool, tennis) and I like working out with people. I now work out in the club 2-3 times a week doing different things.

Working out with friends (aka, find your people)
I definitely prefer working out with friends. Because let's face it. Working out is hard. I need my friends to keep me from quitting. Because I really do want to quit. No one wants to do another round of planks. When you're with your friends you realize you can do it. Plus all the laughing adds another element of workout for your core.

Trying new things
I have found that I love strength training classes. I was always a cardio/dance kind of workout person. Now I really love a class called Les Mills BODYPUMP. And I love working out on TRX. This is what I'm doing in the picture below.

I know if my friends read this they will say "You don't love TRX, you hate TRX." because I'm always complaining. TRX is hard. It hurts. But it works. And I need results so I love it.

I am here (in the pink shirt) with Sara on the TRX.
Tobias (blue shirt) showing us the exercise.
Working out with a trainer once a week
A trainer will help you reach your goals and will show you how to use all the equipment in the gym. We have an amazing trainer at our Antioch club named Tobias Young. He works us hard. Puts up with all our chatter. And has the patience of a saint. Plus, he's the real deal. You can check out his website here. I may have to do a whole separate blog just about Tobias. He's kind of amazing.

You can work out with a trainer one-on-one or as a group. Our marketing team works with Tobias every Thursday as a group. We are all levels of fitness. Me being the oldest and weakest and most annoying because I complain all the time. The rest of the team is quite a bit younger and in much better shape. The great thing is we can all work out together because everyone uses different weights based on their strength. So we all get a great workout.

Set goals 
My goal over the next 6 months is to build more muscle and lose 10 pounds.

So there you have it. I would love to know what you're doing to stay in shape. Leave a comment below telling me your favorite exercise or tip to stay motivated!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Making wishes (on hay)

From the archives. This was originally posted in 2011.

Have you ever heard of making a wish on moving hay?

When I was a kid, anytime we saw a truck full of hay we would make a wish. You had to follow a few rules in order for your wish to come true.

1) lick the end of your thumb, hold it up, and let it dry as you made your wish
2) make the wish and don't look back until you're sure the truck is out of sight

I grew up with this crazy myth. I thought everyone did it. My mom was so enthusiastic about it I just assumed it was a natural method of making wishes. Kind of like carrying a rabbit's foot in your pocket. Or throwing a penny in a fountain.

But apparently that is not the case.

On Monday we saw two huge semi's full of hay rolling down the road in Napa. This was too good to resist so I made a wish. I can tell you what I wished because it already came true.

I wished that someone would call me about a job.

One hour later I got a call from a headhunter, then a Human Resources manager a few hours later. The next day I got two more calls. Then one more call yesterday.

So I tweeted about it. Cuz that's what I do when I get excited about something. I tell everyone. I can never keep my mouth shut.

One of my followers who grew up surrounded by farmland was bummed that she didn't know about this when she was little.

And then nine people un-followed me.

Holy cow. Really? Just because I wish on hay (and tweet about it.) Ouch.

I haven't had this much action in my job search since I started 3 months ago. So it was pretty exciting.

My brother says I got the calls because there's a full moon and yada yada. My husband just rolls his eyes. Elli believes in the magic of hay. I do too. She is also worried I'm going to jinx myself writing this story. Great.

It's just a myth. I sent my resume to all these people. It's just a coincidence they all decided to call me after I made my wish.

Oh, and just so you know, I Googled "make a wish on moving hay" and "wish on hay."  And I found nuthin. Not one thing. So guess what you'll find now if you Google it. That's right. Me. Ha.

So, I have to ask "Mom, where did you come up with this outrageous gag? It's time to spill the beans.

*Thank you Mike Lowrie Trucking and their Big Rig Video for the hay image.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Teens traveling

Elli left for her trip to Costa Rica this morning.


Don and I didn't say much on the car ride back to Mill Valley. It will take a day or so to get used to her not being here.

It's not like she's ever home that much any way. But she's in our town. Or close by.

Not 3,919 miles away.


I am really proud of her for wanting to go on this adventure with Cross-Cultural Solutions. She worked hard for months to raise the money needed for the trip with her GoFundMe campaign. Now she's on her way with one of her best friends.

They will be with a group of teens from all over the United States. Their purpose is to lend a hand to under-resourced organizations. It will be an eye opening experience being in a country where 1 in 5 people live in extreme poverty. Their home base is in Cartago, an historic, bustling city located within a more rural region of the country.

The volunteer assignments will be in Orosi, one of the oldest communities in Costa Rica. Orosi is situated on the Reventazón River in the Orosi Valley a deep valley and humid climate, surrounded by hills and lush vegetation. (I hope Elli doesn't get eaten alive by bugs! They do love to bite her.) Their work assignments will focus on Education/Literacy and Global Health.

The itinerary for the two weeks sounds amazing.

Week 1: Volunteer at the Loaiza Elementary School every day. Every afternoon they will be going on adventures in Cartago, taking cooking classes, latin dance lessons, going to the Irazu Volcano National Park, the National Museum, visiting the arts and crafts market and going on a canopy tour in La Carpintera Mountain.

Week 2: Volunteer work at the Manos de Jesús Nursing home every day. Then lots of fun adventures including visiting the La Paz Waterfall Garden, an excursion to Charrarra Pura Vida Park, Ujarras Look Out Point, and a trip to Fia in San José.

So that's it! It's going to be a long two weeks waiting to hear about everything. I'm not loving being an empty nester. Don and I better figure this out because in 2 years we really will be empty nesters.