Can You Spot the Queen’s Egg?

The queen bee must lay 1,500-2,000 eggs a day to keep the hive’s population growing. The video below shows the queen walking on the honey comb to find an empty cell to lay an egg into. You can see her sticking her head into the cells, she does this not only to check and see if there is already an egg in it but also to determine what size the cell is. Once she determines the cell is empty, she will then put her head in further to gauge the size of the cell in order to determine whether the cell is made for males or females.

The female (worker bees) cell is smaller than the large male (drone) cells. The ratio of males to females is regulated by the worker bees when building the comb. The mass majority of the cells are made for females with the male cells are found towards the bottom, outer-edges of the comb. Usually males comprise less than 10% of the population, each hive differs and can be as low as 1%.

The queen then sinks her abdomen into the cell and deposits the egg which has a sticky end that keeps the egg upright. In three days the egg will hatch and this will be the larvae stage, in the picture you can see the fresh laid egg in the center of the honey comb cell.

#savethebees

Pozole Rojo 

Pozole means “hominy” and is a traditional soup found in most parts of Mexico. It is frequently served as a celebratory dish during events such as weddings, quinceneras, birthdays and New Year’s celebrations.

Although we didn’t have any special celebration,  Pozole is one of Greg’s go-to’s when we visit a Mexican restaurant so we decided we wanted to make this dish at home and lighten in up compared to the greasier alternative you might find out and about.

We may be biased, but our pozole recipe is a tasty, hearty and healthy soup and could be better than most you can find in the authentic Mexican restaurants. Yes, my hubby is a Chef and we like to experiment with different dishes from around the world!

You can make pozole with pork or chicken. Tonight we had some chicken thighs that we needed to use, so that is what we went with.

To start, cut chicken thighs into 1/2 inch cube pieces. Take chicken, salt, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, vegetable oil and toss in a bowl. Mix all together and let it marinate for at least 30 min up to overnight.

Heat a sauce pot on med-high heat, brown chicken evenly and remove. Leave all residual oil and then add the yellow onions and diced jalapenos.  Sweat for 10 min or until the onions are soft and transparent. While the yellow onions are sweating, take the bunch of green onions and slice from the the top using about 2 inches of the onion from the top, reserve these slices for garnishing. Chop the white part of the green onion (bottom) and reserve for later.


Take the center green part of the onion that is left and add it whole to a food possessor  or blender. Add in the seated yellow onion and diced jalapenos, chipolte chilies, diced tomatoes and cilantro stems. Blend until smooth.

In the same saucepan sweat the white part of the green onions(bottom), garlic and chicken until garlic is fragrant. Then add the food possessor mix and chicken stock and simmer for 15 min or until chicken thighs are tender.

If the hominy you are using is precooked, add with chicken thighs and simmer in broth along with the rest of the ingredients. If the hominy is uncooked, simmer for 4 hours in in a pan covered with water and keep the lid on the pan. Then add to broth and chicken mixture.

  

Once simmered, let the pozole rest until ready to serve. Serve with garnishes and tortillas. Enjoy, and feel free to share your comments or pics!

Ingredients:

6 chicken thighs- we used boneless, skinless
2 tbs chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbs vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
4 cloves of garlic – smashed, minced
1/2 large yellow onion
2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
1 bunch of green onions
3 chipotle peppers (found in a can in the Mexican isle)
1 (12oz) can of diced tomatoes
Chicken stock
1 tbs minced cilantro stems
2 cups of hominy

Garnish:

Sliced green cabbage
Avocado
Green onion
Sliced lime wedges
Sliced radishes
Cilantro
four tortillas

Creating a Happy Home…

One of the best ways to create a happy home is to surround yourself with the things you love. Creating an environment that is not only welcoming to you and your loved ones but also creating a space that provides you with a sense of comfort.

Start by adding elements to your home such as candles, fresh flowers or plants, favorite decor pieces, accent colors, and photo frames that capture the happy memories you have experienced. These items will be the first thing you see when you walk into your home. Whether you are returning home from a stressful day at work or just happy to be home, this is a sure way to lift you spirits and bring calmness.

I LOVE to have fresh plants and flowers in my home. I recently picked up some fresh eucalyptus leaves. They smell wonderful and really provide a fresh, clean accent piece to any decor theme. You can find these fresh cut leaves at almost any florist and if they don’t have them in stock, I’m sure you can inquire if they can place a special order for you.

I purchased these wide-mouthed vases at a local florist shop for only $10. This style is similar to what you would find at Pottery Barn or Pier One and could set you back anywhere between $50 to $100! Yikes.

To make my home more happy, I placed this one on top of my wine-rack so that when I come in through the garage and look down our hallway, this is the first thing I see and smell.

  As you can see, once you unwrap the leaves, they really open up and create a wonderful accent piece.

Other ideas of where you could place this might be on your dining room table, coffee table or kitchen counter.

Have fun making your home happy by filling it with things you love!

Eat Local 

When traveling we always try to make it a priority to shop and indulge in the local produce and cuisine. Fresh local fruit is always a great choice and tastes delicious. Look for local farmers markets while visiting your destination. Farmers markets are very popular and easy to find, plus you get the freshest produce and you’ll support the local economy while doing so. 

One of the worst things to do when traveling, especially overseas or out of the U.S. is to purchase or order items that are not native to the destination you are visiting. Sometimes it might be second nature to order something that you would normally at home but you don’t realize what resources it might actually take to get these items shipped to where you are.   “Fresh” really might not be “fresh” by the time it get’s to you.

One of the wonderful benefits of traveling is having the opportunity to experience different cultures and foods all-while breaking out of your “comfort zone”.

Here are some of our favorites while visiting our favorites:

-Costa Rica: papaya, mango, passion fruit, plantains, pineapple

-Hawaii: lychee, pineapple, coconut, mango, strawberry papaya

-Mexico: prickly pear, guayaba, avocados, dragon fruit, cherimoya

-Northern California: pears, grapes, cherries, apples

-Central California: strawberries, artichokes, figs, grapes, berries

-Southern California: avocado, grapefruit, pomegranate, lemons, kumquat

To find a local farmer’s market while traveling, stop by or call the local visitors center, search online or get friendly and ask the locals!

Vegan Ramen? Yes Please! 

I have been on a ramen kick lately…and I mean big time! I seriously could eat it every week! There is just something so comforting about it and of course…love the noodles. It’s been a challenge for me to find the right place that has a decent tasting vegetarian ramen with lots of veggies and goodies. Although, I am not vegan nor vegetarian, but I am pretty particular with meat. I love chicken, fish, pork and beef but when it comes to ramen…I prefer the veggie or vegan option, I know call me weird 🙂Greg and I discovered Tajima, a local japanese restaurant here in San Diego. They have a few locations, but we prefer to go to the convoy location. The wait is never unbearable and the food is consistent. We always start off with the fresh made gyoza. One of the best I have EVER had and I love gyoza. I’ll get a pic next time we go, you won’t have to wait that long 😉
The vegan ramen is packed full of veggies like asparagus, shitake mushrooms, corn, bean sprouts, green onion, cabbage and mixed green salad. I order it with the spicy broth to kick it up a notch! Greg usually gets the standard pork ramen with lots of extras. I’ll snap a pic of that as well!

The service is great and like I said, the food is consistent. They serve a wide variety of craft brews, sake and wine. The atmosphere is casual and very relaxed, they tend to play the “club hits” now and then and that will get you questioning where you are…”wait yes we are at a ramen house not da club” haha but no worries here, it’s a trendy place and we would recommend it to anyone visiting San Diego looking for some good authentic japanese cuisine and ramen. You won’t be disappointed.

Grab your chopsticks and check it out today! Tajima San Diego Website

Sizzling Chicken Fajitas 

Chicken fajitas has to be one of my favorite dishes to make. It’s simple, healthy and you can whip it up pretty fast on a busy weeknight. I usually make chicken fajitas, but you could also make this with beef, pork or shrimp. If you are looking for a vegetarian option, sliced portobello mushrooms make a nice addition and give the fajitas substance paired with the peppers and onions. 
Not only do these chicken fajitas taste amazing, the aroma of the peppers and onions sauteing makes your mouth water. This meal is great served with your favorite Mexican toppings like cheese, avocado, sour cream, salsa, freshly sliced jalapeno, and cilantro. My husband loves fresh flour tortillas on the side. However, when I am looking to lighten up the dish, I prefer enjoying mine as a “fajita bowl” and omit the extra carbs from the tortillas.

There is one secret to knocking your fajitas out of the park…make your own fajita seasoning. I’m telling you, ditch the packaged stuff and take the extra 5 minutes to mix up the tasty blend of seasonings. The packaged mixes are convenient yes, but did you know they contain unnatural ingredients and preservatives like modified corn starch and corn syrup, all things that don’t make your meal taste any better…they are just there for filler.

So I will share my recipe with you and I promise you’ll want to take the extra time, plus you can make a bulk batch and keep it on hand in your spice drawer.

Homemade Fajita Seasoning:

2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp white sugar
2 tsp chicken bouillon powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you like spicy- I always add more)
1 tsp ground cumin

Fajita Ingredients:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 orange or yellow bell pepper
1 medium yellow or white onion

Cut bell peppers in 1/2 inch wide strips and slice the onion. Place the peppers and onions to the side. Slice chicken breast into 1 inch wide pieces. In a medium saute pan, heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil. Add chicken and brown over med-high heat or until the chicken is visibly cooked but not complete done. Remove and set aside.

Crank back up the heat to high and add a little oil if needed. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and peppers. Saute for about 5 minutes or so then turn the heat back down to medium. Add the chicken back into the pan and start adding the homemade fajita seasoning. Once the seasoning is well mixed and the chicken is completely cooked through you’re done!

Serve with tortillas and top with your favorite Mexican accouterments like: sour cream, cheddar cheese, avocado, jalapeno, cilantro, salsa etc. Enjoy!

Bee Eggs Just in Time for Easter

So what’s happening in the hive lately?  The queens have been busy and their eggs are prepped and ready to hatch in just three days! Check out these intimate pics within the honey comb…

With spring well on it’s way, the hives are keeping pretty busy. As you can see below the queen has mated and started to lay her eggs. Notice the faint white markings, those are each an individual bee waiting to hatch. The queen will need to lay 1500-2000 eggs a day to increase the population of the hive, crazy fact: that is equal to her body weight!  Talk about a full-time job!
On the first day the queen’s eggs have been laid, they stand vertical. By the second day, they start to lean over and by the third day this is when the egg is completely horizontal and it will hatch to become new larvae.

The bright yellow and glossy/shiny bundles consist of pollen that the bees have collected on their daily foraging to feed the eggs. Each cell is saved for an individual pollen source. For example, on a daily basis bees will collect pollen or “food” from several sources like kale, broccoli, pine trees, and lavender. When they bring the “food” back to the hive, they will deposit the pollen in the respective cells, never cross-depositing. Isn’t that fascinating? What crazy little creatures. #savethebees