Friday, May 13, 2011

Thanks for the Memories

This post is for you Lori, because every minute I spend with you becomes a glorious memory for me.

I'm just back from a whirlwind week celebrating Mother's Day with Lori and exploring a part of California I've always wanted to see- Palm Springs.

The adventure began in Santa Monica at Lori's new digs just 2 blocks from the beach. Yes! Two blocks from the Pacific Ocean.

After a morning at the beach and a fabulous outdoor lunch at The Library, a restaurant in Santa Monica, we loaded up the car, hit the 111 and dealt with the Friday afternoon traffic. And then we came across the wind farms. I've heard of these humongous towers of energy, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect to see so many whirling alien-like silhouettes performing their energy dance for miles and miles along the highway. These pictures do not do these towering work-horses justice.

Shortly after the wind farms, the beauty of the desert became evident. Purple mountains and palm trees were everywhere. An east coast girl's dream.

We finally arrived at the Indian Wells Hotel, a few miles east of Palm Springs. This hotel has a lot of history (as does the whole Palm Springs area). The hotel was conceived by 2 of my favorites- Lucy and Desi, who built this desert retreat so their friends could get together, play golf and escape the Hollywood madness. Here are some of the folks we saw hanging out:

Robert Wagner and Natalie

Lucielle Ball

Lucy and Desi

Bob Hope (anyone know who the other handsome gentleman is?)

When we arrived at Indian Wells it was 106 degrees outside. No problem. Huge pool. Great scenery.

And happy hour at the bar was in progress. The free food was mostly chips, dips and veggies, so we opted for a 1/2 price Margarita Pita Pizza. Very light and just what we needed with our 1/2 price glasses of wine.

Our days were spent lounging by the pool, swimming and basking in the sun. But we had to explore some of the local eateries. At the Yard House I had some yummy crab cakes with a boringly mild mango salsa. But the cakes were fab.

For our Mother's Day brunch at Normas at Parker, I had a scrambled egg, guacamole and cheese quesadilla that was rich and decadent. The tortilla was fried in sweet butter. Oh, sweet butter, not your typical quesadilla. I couldn't eat it all but brought it back to the hotel to munch on at happy hour.

Lori ordered a fluffy egg white omelet with baby roasted potatoes. Unfortunately this dish never got photographed because I kept stealing the delightful little potatoes off her plate and ruined any chance of an appetizing picture. Check out this restaurant and their menu. There's also a Normas in New York.

The trip is coming to an end and we're tanned, relaxed, sated and ready for the ride back to Santa Monica. Instead of eating another meal in a restaurant, we picked up some ingredients at a local grocery store and decided to treat ourselves to a home-cooked dinner of Chicken Parmesan with Assorted Baby Greens, Avocado Slices and Grape Tomatoes. Simple to make. Great to eat. Here's the recipe:

To make the salad:
1 avocado, halved and sliced into 1/4 inch strips
1/2 package of grape tomatoes
3/4 bag baby greens

To make the dressing:
Juice of one lemon
2 cloves of finely minced garlic
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 T white balsamic vinegar
1/3 to 1/2 cup extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard (we didn't have any so I omitted it and it was still delicious)

Whisk all ingredients together and gently pour on salad. Toss and serve cold.

To make the chicken:

4 chicken breasts, boned and skinned

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese combined with 1/2 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs

2 eggs lightly beaten

salt and pepper

Olive or canola oil

1 jar Paul Newman's Tomato Basil spaghetti sauce

1/2 bag Sorento 4 cheese Italian blend

Wash chicken, pat dry and pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Dip breasts in egg and dredge in bread/cheese mixture that has been seasoned with salt and pepper. Set aside. On stove top, heat a large skillet on medium heat and add oil to pan. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the chicken breasts and sear for about 2 minutes per side. You're not cooking the chicken, just toasting the crumb/cheese mixture. Remove to plate and prepare baking sheet. Pour about 1/2 cup of tomato sauce in the bottom of baking dish, add breasts and top with additional sauce.

Add cheese to the top of the breasts and cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Uncover and cook another 15 minutes. Your dinner is ready.

I didn't have the opportunity to hang around for any leftovers but I was told they're delicious microwaved or even cold out of the fridge.
I'm back home now reflecting on a fabulous trip and a very special gal who made my Mother's Day a week to remember. Thanks Lor.

And if you're as corny as I am, you might want to check out Bob Hope and Shirley Ross singing Bob Hope's theme song, "Thanks for the Memory".

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