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Poker Party Pals


Tenny Tatusian, Hannah MacDonald, Brady MacDonald exhibit the pure joy of being at Poker Night while Gracie Monroe peeks in from behind. The December gathering is always at the home of Rob, Krystn, Gracie and Mia Monroe. 

“The cookie crunch was great! It gave it an extra bit of texture”

– Nancy Luna MacDonald aka The OC Register’s Fast Food Maven said of the Cookie Crunch Parfait

As a journalism major I spent most of my time inside the Daily Titan newsroom at Cal State Fullerton. It was an incredible experience and I made some good friends while working long hours putting together the campus newspaper.

Now, some of those friends and their families show up at the monthly Poker Parties. In the photo above is (from left)  in the foreground is Tenny, Hannah and Brady, who was my editor at the Daily Titan .Our desseert chef, Gracie, is in the background.  Poker party regulars include Ryan T. Blystone, Rob & Krystn Monroe, Brady and Nancy MacDonald, Dennis and Marie Kee, Gary and MJ Smet, David and Tricia Montero, Michael Rocha and Mark Gray. And their children too.

We rotate hosting duties and one of the best parts of these get-together is the food. At yesterday’s party at the Monroes, we started with appetizers, beer and wine. Rob grilled tri-trip, BBQ ribs to add the spread which also included Caesar salad, baked mac n cheese and couscous salad.

To top it all off Rob and Kristen’s oldest daughter, Gracie made us individual Cookie Crunch Parfaits for our dessert. Below, Gracie puts the finishing touches on dessert as her little sister, Mia, watches. Click here for the recipe


Pizza in a pinch

This slice of BBQ chicken pizza is delicious and so easy that my 9-year-old niece makes it when she visits. She says this is her favorite. And the way she and her twin brother eat it up when she makes it is the proof! Psst … don\’t tell her that it\’s a healthy and balanced meal.

‘This pizza is really good!’

Shailesh Swaroop, my brother said in surprise during a lunchtime visit

My brother, Shailesh, of Carlsbad, Calif., and his two daughters, Sangeeta, 15, and Maya, 13, decided to pop in for a last-minute visit right during lunchtime. They called from South Coast Plaza and said they’d be over in an hour. I don’t know about the teenagers you know but this pair can be finicky about what they’ll eat. My brother’ll eat anything … so I decided to bake this BBQ chicken pizza for lunch.

My brother, Shailesh, gets ready to chow down on the first BBQ chicken pizza out of the oven. He came down from the San Diego area for a brief visit to Orange County with his daughters, Sangeeta and Maya. It’s always fun to see them!

It’s an easy recipe. It includes a crust from the store (something like Boboli), bbq sauce, chicken breast, cilantro, cheese, tomatoes and onions. I cubed up the raw chicken breast, cooked it in bbq sauce and layered the rest of the ingredients on to the crust and baked until the cheese is bubbly. Delicious and easy! My favorite kind of recipe.

It came out of the oven just as they walked in the door. We had it along with some fruit: watermelon, honeydew or strawberries. We all tore through it and could focus on enjoying each other for their brief three-hour visit.

Would you like to make it yourself? Click here for the recipe.