Hiking the Charlie Turner Trail to Mt. Hollywood – 360 Views of the City of Angels

Griffith Park is a treasure to behold. Smack dab in the middle of Los Angeles and spanning over 4000 acres, it’s one of the largest urban parks in North America. It’s been called the Central Park of Los Angeles, but luckily for those of us who love hiking and the outdoors, it offers 53 miles of trails that are more rugged and untamed than its East Coast Counterpart. A true wilderness oasis where kids and parents can quickly escape the noise and chaos of the busy city to decompress and re-energize!

Mt. Hollywood Trail view of Los Angeles

Getting to the Charlie Turner Trail is really easy. Drive up to the Griffith Park Observatory and as soon as you enter its parking lot take a left and park. The trailhead starts at the north end of the lot. This hike is 100% stroller friendly, well maintained and if you make it all the way, you’ll be rewarded with the most spectacular 360 degree views of Los Angeles.

It’s about 3 miles round trip, so that means a full day’s hike, if you’re with a toddler! Just kidding! I’ve done this hike with a gaggle of kids and it took us about 3 hours to complete, including many water breaks and lunch at the top of Mt. Hollywood.

Kids running up Charlie Turner Trail

I’ve also done this hike with kids where it took us 45 minutes just to make it a quarter mile up the trail, but that’s what hiking with kids is all about; going at their pace, encouraging endurance, engaging them in exploration, exercising listening skills and, most definitely practicing patience. Last time we did this hike, V sat in a newly discovered cave for (what seemed like) half an hour, hunting bears, bats and spiders! Oh My!

Exploring caves with kids

Please keep in mind that this hike offers little to no shade, so make sure to lather on the sunscreen, wear your hat and bring lots of water! Picnic tables at the summit provide a comfortable and spectacular place to relax, eat and soak in the views. If you don’t want to go back down the way you came, there are plenty of interconnecting trails and summits to explore, just make sure to use a map!

I would say the second best thing about this hike is that if you’re still up for more discovery once you’ve done the trail, the Griffith Observatory is right there with an entire universe of (free) exhibits to spark the imagination and inspire!

Griffith Observatory

What a perfect way to spend the day!

[Food Series] Mom’s King Cake – A Treasured New Orleans Tradition

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m from New Orleans and as most Crescent City natives are, I am extremely proud of my hometown! Tradition runs deep in my family and I strive to pass it down to our daughter along with my husband’s family traditions. And so, it is with pleasure that I introduce her (and you) to the King Cake!

Traditional New Orleans King Cake

16 oz of Sour Cream
1/3 cup S
1/4 cup Butter
1 teaspoon Salt
2 envelopes (1/4 oz/each) Active Dry Yeast
1/2 cup warm Water (100° to 110°)
1 tablespoon Sugar
2 large Eggs, lightly beaten
6 to 6 1/2 cups bread flour*
1/3 cup Butter, softened
1/2 cup Sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon

Start by cooking the first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until butter melts. Set that aside, and allow the mixture to cool to between 100° and 110°. Next, stir together the yeast, 1/2 cup warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar in a measuring cup; let it stand 5 minutes. Beat the sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, eggs and 2 cups flour at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until smooth. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add enough remaining flour (4 to 4 1/2 cups) until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until dough is doubled in bulk. Punch down dough, and divide in half. Roll each portion into a 22- x 12-inch rectangle. Spread 1/3 cup softened butter evenly on each rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border. Stir together 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle evenly over butter on each rectangle. Roll up each dough rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, starting at 1 long side. Place one dough roll, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bring ends of roll together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal. Repeat with second dough roll. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 20 to 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Bake at 375° for 14 to 16 minutes or until golden. Slightly cool cakes on pans on wire racks (about 10 minutes). Drizzle Creamy Glaze evenly over warm cakes; sprinkle with colored sugars, alternating colors and forming bands. Let cool completely. 

Optional Cream Cheese-Filled King Cake: Prepare each 22- x 12-inch dough rectangle as directed. Omit 1/3 cup softened butter and 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon. Increase 1/2 cup sugar to 3/4 cup sugar. Beat 3/4 cup sugar; 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened; 1 large egg; and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly on each dough rectangle, leaving 1-inch borders. Proceed with recipe as directed. Enjoy with a little Dixieland Jazz or When the Saints Go Marching In!

[Food Series] Roquefort Stuffed Chicken Provençal

I first made this dish, what seems like a lifetime ago, but I guess it was only about 8 years ago. It was a romantic, candlelit and conversation-filled evening with my husband. Fast-forward to our present dinner table, serving it up for a busy and laughter-filled family meal, where the joy is in watching our daughter scarf down Roquefort and leeks in any fashion. It’s bliss in all of its many forms. Enjoy!

Roquefort Stuffed Chicken Provençal recipe

4 large Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 medium Leek
1/2 cup Roquefort
1 tablespoon Thyme
1 tablespoon Rosemary
1 tablespoon Marjoram
1 tablespoon Oregano
3 cloves Garlic
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Pepper

Start by preparing your stuffing. Thinly slice the leeks and crumble the Roquefort. In a bowl add the leeks, Roquefort and half of the pepper, mix well and set aside. In a smaller mixing bowl, add all of the herbs, minced garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Butterfly the chicken breasts by cutting them in half length-wise, then pound them out to about a quarter inch thickness. Spoon about a tablespoon of the leek and Roquefort mixture into the middle of one chicken breast, then roll it up and place it in a baking dish. Repeat this process until all of your chicken breasts are filled, rolled and nestled in the baking dish. Evenly spread the provençal and olive oil mixture on top of the chicken. Bake for 40 minutes and serve! We ate this with rice and green beans. So delicious!