Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Hope everyone is having/had a fab new year! We played our favorite food game, entitled "how much would we have to spend for this at a restaurant" and therefore saved about $60. Go us!

Also, my husband makes the best lamb chops on the planet. Ask him for the recipe sometime-I don't dare try and fuck it up myself.

We're now drinking champagne, watching a documentary (Marley), and listening to the neighborhood cats yowl at each other across the street.

It's a good night. Happy 2013 y'all.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Not much smells better than almond extract.

I did that whole baking thing again tonight. E even helped, if you count helping as him being the best bebe on the planet, patiently waiting to be fed a bite of sweet potato in between each ingredient I added to the bowl.

He's awesome, if I haven't mentioned that before.

This really is the same recipe as one I've posted before, but this time I decided to test the orange extract I bought for a to-remain-unmentioned-because-it-failed-miserably recipe, and and use the sliced almonds I had in the fridge rather than spend the time chopping walnuts. Like I said, I had a hungry baby directly affecting my multi-tasking abilities. And if he's borderline happy, I'm not about to push it.

As usual, I waited for the hubby's review. Because let's face it—if I spend the time making it, most of the time I'm going to happily eat it. Whether it's blog-worthy or not, however, requires a more critical tongue.

"Is it good?" he asked, as I handed him a healthy slice. "It's good," I assured him. Five minutes later he was cutting a second (even healthier) slice. "Uh, yeah," he said. "It's good. Too good."

And so here you go.

Banana Almond Bread
2 very ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1.5 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp orange extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup sliced almond

Heat oven to 350.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl until just mixed. Pour into greased bread pan and cook for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle. If it gets brown too quickly (check after 30 minutes), throw a piece of aluminum foil lightly over it.

Let cool before removing from pan and slicing.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Secret Ingredient: Tarragon

So I pulled a repeat out of the arsenal the other day (I say this like I make something new every day. It's cute.) I did, however, make a new side. So it counts.

I love doing 'secret ingredient' meals, especially when you are using random herbs that you only use a little bit of (you always have to buy a whole damn package)...might as well use at least a little more and not throw the whole rotted thing away a week later. And after I bought a pack of tarragon for Tarragon Chicken, I knew for damn sure I wasn't going to use it for anything else, so I got creative.

We know you can do browned butter and sage sauces (right? If not—learn, and do.) And I had asparagus, which I looove with browned butter, so I roasted them, experimented, did some tossing, served, and waited for the review.

Given as he was cleaning up the kitchen, btw. Not exaggerating when I say waited. 

"Hey, babe, that asparagus....make that again. That was some good stuff."

Wellllll ok.

 Asparagus with Browned Butter and Tarragon
One bunch asparagus
Canola or olive oil spray
sea salt
2 tbsp butter
good pinch fresh tarragon, torn into small pieces
pinch sea salt

Heat oven to 400.
Trim asparagus by snapping the bases where they break easily. Discard broken ends.
Coat baking sheet with spray oil. Place asparagus on sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook for 12 minutes.

Heat butter, tarragon and salt over medium heat, swirling the pan every minute or so until all is melted and begins to turn brown, around 5-10 minutes. Once brown, remove from heat and carefully add cooked asparagus pieces (it may splash a bit). Toss gently.

Serve hot.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Nine months in, nine months out.

Hey, so remember how I planned to write about my experience as a new mom at least once a month?

Hang on, I'm laughing. It's hard to type....almost...oh, man. Tears.

It's just that between working what's basically become a full-time job again as a designer from home, having a husband busting his ass at work to help with bills (and therefore not at home in the evenings to help as much as either of us would like), and trying to stay a literal step ahead of an ever-mobile baby, I have so much free time it's amazing. I just don't want to rub it in or anything.

I go through a lot of wine diet coke coffee.

Luckily not that much really changed around here in the 7th and 8th month. I mean, the crawling got faster (a lot faster), and teeth kept popping out of his skull left and right (there are 7 as of today), but it's been the last couple of weeks where things have really been picking up speed. Cause no big deal, but my 8.5 month old started walking.

WALKING. I cannot overstress the ridiculousness of this situation. He is putting one foot in front of the other and going. places. alone. (Granted, eight feet at a time. Still). And it is the cutest thing on the planet, let me tell you. He is so proud. And this is a kid who is easily impressed with himself. A giant burp gets a wicked grin from ear to ear. Finds the remote I hid for the 18th time that day? A huge giggle. Don't get me started on the radiance that takes over his face when he hones in on my cellphone from across the room and knows he can get to it before I can.

Am I being proud mama? Of course. But I know you guys expect more than just the pretty stuff. So here we go.

Teething. Teething is the devil. The bottom two were so easy and those damn top teeth would not come in. For weeks, I could SEE the left one. It was right. there. But would not break through. And it meant that he didn't want to nap. Or sleep. Or lay down in any way. We tried Tylenol. Teething tablets. Frozen stuff—washcloths, rings, applesauce...I even attempted orajel, but he was far more into the box than the tube. Poor kid. Poor us.

Dad brought home rubber hockey pucks.

And with teething comes slobber. Everywhere, all the time. And everything is in his mouth. Everything, all the time. I'm having to vacuum twice a day, because if he can see it, he has to eat it. Hairballs, cat litter, half an old's disgusting. Babies are gross, y'all.

Living with a baby is like living in a tornado. Everything in a drawer must come out and be strewn across the floor. Toys. Books. Pajamas. Peas. And once they're on the floor, they must go in his mouth. Speaking of, he's a big fan of pacifiers. He's also got an arm like Matt Cain, so if we don't come get him the second he wakes up, he's already thrown at least one of the two he goes to bed with somewhere across the room. Luckily he can find them out of thin air, because I'll look around the room for missing pacis for 5 full minutes and by the time I turn around, he's got one in his mouth and another clutched in his hand.

What's with the gender confusion? I mean, it's nice to know I don't have to dress my potential future daughter in dresses and bows (oh, god, I would be the worst at having a baby girl). I apparently just have to dress her in any shade of pale blue or white. Or grey. This is how conversations go (usually with old people, natch). "How old's your baby?" "He's 8 months." "She's so cute."

Sigh. Come on. I'm not offended by the mistake. He's a boy. A pretty boy, but still so obviously a dude. It's just dumb. Pay attention, people.

This kid can eat. I still nurse him 4 or 5 times a day (yeah, I had planned on nursing for six months. But he's still into it, so...), and he's also eating 3 full meals: oatmeal and applesauce for breakfast, veggies and chicken for lunch, and veggies or sweet potato and beef for dinner. (And yes, I make it all myself. My freezer has been taken over by freezer bags of single serving baby meals.) Plus yogurt or cottage cheese if he's still hungry. And a banana—a full banana—as an afternoon snack. (And don't even think about mashing it; he wants to eat it the way we do. It's terrifying the size of bites this kid tries to take.)

We were also having cheerios in the morning while mom checked her email, but then the eczema happened. And so now we're a gluten free baby. Meaning we'll all be back to gluten free living as soon as we're eating more of the same thing every meal. Sigh. I have no one to blame but my grandpa myself for this one.

I hired a part-time nanny and it was the best decision I've made in the past year. She comes twice a week for five hours a day, and it's fantastic. I originally hired her so I could get some work done—which I do—but then I realized I could schedule appointments around her being here. At first it was boring stuff like the doctor, but then I discovered a new Pilates studio in town. And now I do everything in my power to go there once a week (second best decision ever—it's an expensive yet amazingly necessary indulgence). Anyway, I love her. E loves her. I wish she could move in. Alas, she's in college and stuff. Harrumph.

I love this kid so much it's stupid. You always hear the cliched, "you love your kids in ways you never thought possible" and roll your eyes and throw up a little in your mouth (no? just me?) but holy crap, it's true. He makes me laugh all day long. And what's better—I can make him laugh. Big, high pitched, squealing giggles, whether I'm making funny noises at him, wearing one of his stuffed animals as a hat, or I'm chasing him on my hands and knees down the hall (uh, yeah, you do some dumbshit things just to get that giggle, trust me). He wakes me up at ungodly hours, I grumble my way down the hall to his room, and then I pick him up and he cuddles into my arms in a way that tells me he just needed his mama and I'm totally done for.

This is not how I imagined my life with a child, by the way. I miss my friends, I miss sleeping in (actually, I miss sleep in general), I miss jumping in and out of the car without dealing with restraints. But it is what it is. We had a baby. We chose to have a baby. And he is so happy, and so much fun, and yes, ohmygod so much work. But he has changed our lives in a way that...well, the selfish part of me won't let me write 'for the better,' but he's changed our lives in a way that's definitely...more. There's more laughter, there's more frustration, there's more planning, there's more love. More messes, more kisses, more being puked on, more screaming, more patience than I thought possible, more cuddles, more amazement, more noise.

Holy hell, and there's only been nine months of this. And as always, I'm aiming to write again next month. Wish us all luck...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Yawn. (AKA Saturday)

6:30p Shut the sleeping little man's door. Time to work, make dinner, drink wine. In no particular order.

7:35p There is screaming. Hubby finds E sitting with his back to the crib rail, wailing. His mobile is on (I did not turn it on). Totally asleep. Pops a paci in his mouth and E faceplants back down, still asleep.

8:45p I'm in bed with a book I've been attempting to read for 10 months. Ten.

9:15p I get up to check on the kid as silently as possible. He's in a completely straight line, face down. Weirdo.

9:20p Lights out. I'm old, shut up.

12:56a There is wailing. Going to let him work it out and self soothe.

1:13a Apparently not.

1:14a Find him standing in the crib, arms outstretched, doing a pitiful wail. Sigh. Ok. We rock for a few minutes until he's passed out, doing a little baby snore and paci drooping out of his mouth.

1:22a Lay him ever so gently in the crib.

1:22:10a There is screaming.

1:23a Change him, feed him. He falls asleep for real.

1:49a Back to bed. Find Ramona has taken my spot and the hubby is snoring. Move the cat, poke the hubs.

2:02a OMG SERIOUSLY THE SNORING. Remind myself that if he were gone I'd miss the snoring. It's not even loud, it's just...irregular. And I'm trying to fall asleep.

2:09a I would not miss the snoring.

4:00a Attempt successfully to sneak to the bathroom without E hearing and waking up. It's a 50/50 chance.

4:38a A barely audible meowing begins from atop our hamper. Hiss at Ramona to shut it.

4:42a Ramona tries feed-me-attempt #2 by climbing through the blinds to see outside. Hubby grabs her and puts her in the hall.

4:46a Greta chimes in by sitting on my chest and staring at me. 

4:48a Ramona sits on the cat perch directly outside E's door and begins to whine. I'm up, they win. If she wakes up that baby, I will skin her. And she knows it. She is smart and brave, I will give her that.

4:49a Find completely empty cat bowls and realize I forgot to give them the rest of their dinner last night. Oops. They are forgiven for being assholes.

4:50a Back to bed.

6:18a Really have to pee again. Totally afraid to. Sneak down the hall and back and snuggle back into bed.

6:20a Every. Single. Time. The whining begins.

6:28a Ok, he's up for real, so so am I. But seriously...

Yeah, ok.

*Note: In the two days since I wrote this, little man has slept through the night, so I've actually gotten to sleep from about 10p-5a. Minus the two times I have to get up in the middle of the night to check on him and make sure he's actually alive. There's been fussing at 12 and 3 or so that wakes us up, but he's put himself back to sleep. And this is called progress.

Friday, November 16, 2012

And I wanted to order take out.

What is it about the colder weather that makes me so freakin' lazy? I just want to be in a sweatshirt and cuddled up in bed with a book, the couch with my hubs, or in the comfy chair with my bebe. Cooking is so not on the agenda.

So once we got E down last night, I asked the hubs what he wanted to do for dinner, hoping he would say he'd go pick us up some salads...Alas we're broke and he's way more as lazy as I am in the evenings, so he shrugged and said, "Isn't there chicken?"

Siiiiiiiiigh. Yes. There is chicken. And I suppose we can do something with it. Panko "shake and bake," you say? Fine. And I'll make some risotto. No, it's fine, it's really not that hard. Just come help me with the chicken...

And this was the result. Holy crap. It's a little monochromatic, but the chicken was crispy and delicious, the risotto was ridiculously flavorful. And this is why pantry meals win.

Bacon & Thyme Risotto (for two)
olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup vermouth (or sherry or white wine)
2 cups chicken stock (bouillon)
1-2 tsp bacon bits
Sprinkle pepper
Dash dried thyme
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese

heat a bit of olive oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and rice and saute about 2 minutes. Add vermouth and let cook out, a couple of minutes, stirring frequently. Add bacon, pepper, thyme and about a half cup broth and keep stirring frequently until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add another half cup of broth and repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It should take about 20 minutes or so. Maybe more.

Sprinkle with parmesan and serve hot.

Crunchy Herbed Chicken
2 6oz chicken thighs or breasts
About 1/4 cup flour
Salt & pepper
1 egg
About 1/4 cup panko
About 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
dried thyme
dried oregano
dried basil

Arrange three deep plates. In the first, combine flour, and a good pinch each salt and pepper. In the second, whisk an egg with a fork. In the third, combine panko, breadcrumbs, and a good pinch each of pepper, thyme, oregano and basil.

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Dredge in flour mix, then dip in egg, then dredge in panko mix.

Bake 20 min at 350. Turn up to 400 and bake 5 more.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Just throw it in there and cross your fingers.

So you bought a whole head/bag of shredded cabbage for the cup needed for Posole and don't know what to do with the rest, huh?

I figured I better improvise or it would be yet another half used bag of vegetable, rotting in my crisper. So I threw it in a cucumber salad and hoped for the best. And it worked—it got raves from the hubby and I thought it was fantastic. We had it with steak, but it would be good with some sort of Asiany chicken or fish, too. Something fairly simple-this has a lot of flavor.

Cucumber Peanut Salad
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground chile paste like Sambal Oelek (or to taste)
Medium squirt fish sauce (or 1/4 tsp salt)
1 large cucumber
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, finely chopped (I used the food processor)
Decent handful chopped cilantro, including the stems
3 green onions, just the light green/white parts, sliced
About a cup of shredded cabbage
1 green onion (the green part), thinly sliced (to top)

Combine vinegar and sugar (and salt, if you're using it) in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until all is dissolved. Turn off heat, add chile and fish sauce, and set aside to cool.

Peel cucumber and halve longways. Use a spoon to drag down the middle, removing the seeds. Slice into fairly thin slices and place in small bowl. Pour dressing over cucumber, and toss gently to coat. Put cabbage into a medium/big bowl, and top with cucumbers and sauce from the small bowl. Add peanuts, cilantro and green onion, and toss just before serving. Top with remaining green onion.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Slow cooker Posole. Because I am lazy now.

It's finally cold. Ok, it's not cold. 60s during the day, 30s at night. But that's cold enough for little freezing baby hands, and not just the kind I'm used to in the middle of the night. And def cold enough for soup.

E and I were at the store at 8am because that is now my life, and chicken thighs were on I thought I'd take advantage of the cold day ahead of me and try and make some crock pot posole happen.

Having all day meant I could have done it the long way. Or I could just throw everything in a pot and sit on the floor with my home-on-a-weekend-for-an-awesome-change hubby, coaxing the kid to try and walk to us all afternoon. I chose the latter.

Not as good as the slave away in the kitchen method, but damn good for doing next to nothing. And I bought prechopped onion and garlic and pre shredded cabbage, so I really did next to nothing. Don't judge. I'm working two jobs from home, chasing a kid from 6am til 6pm, and attempting to read a book this week. If I can get my act together I may even watch one of the 3 weeks worth of Dexter I have TiVoed.

Ok, that was a complete exaggeration. I'm obviously totally caught up on Dexter. It's called priorities.

Slow Cooker Posole
4 boneless chicken thighs
1 tbsp garlic, minced
One small onion, chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
3/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
One can chopped green chilis (hot)
6 cups chicken stock
1 29oz can hominy, drained
Bay leaf
Salt, to taste
Shredded cabbage
Lemon slices
Chopped cilantro
Chopped green or white onion
*I also threw in a couple slices of cooked bacon, but that was mostly because they were hanging out on my counter after breakfast and I didn't want to toss them. Or keep eating them.

Combine chicken through bay leaf in large crock pot and set for 6 hours (or whatever you have time for). When done, use a fork to pull meat apart into pieces, taste and add salt as needed.

Serve with cabbage, lemon, cilantro, onion, and tortillas. And hot sauce, if you add Tapatio to everything (guilty). And and if you don't have a brand of store bought tortillas, you prefer, I really like The Tortilla Factory. They look and taste handmade.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


As promised, a bevy (ahem) of beverages to celebrate my favorite season.

I got a handful of submissions for this, and my trusty co-judge (We'll call her "Teach") and I chose four to try. We got super technical with our judging; more so, obviously, as the night went on. By the time we were inventing shots, our point system was long out the window and we were just thumbs upping and thumbs downing. We had a blast decorating our drinks, by the way. But don't let the pretty black sugar fool you. Some of these were awful.

So I'm just going to share our thoughts. Starting with, hands down, the best drink of the night.

Submitted/created by Jessica & Matt. Nice work, guys!
Shut Up & Drink (AKA Captain Mom) 
2 parts apple vodka
1 part butterscotch schnapps
1 part 1/2 & 1/2
squirt of caramel

Shake with ice and serve in a martini glass. Garnish with whipped cream and caramel.

Teach: Wow...this is like...drinking for apples instead of bobbing for apples. It's just like a caramel apple. It really makes me think of Halloween.
Pammy: I could only order one of these. It's really sweet, but the flavor is great.
Teach: It's like one of those caramel apple suckers!
Pammy: OMG, totally.

(At this point we started debating what the point system should be and if it should contain a category for "seasonality" or "halloweeness." And then we decided both were dumb and moved on to the next drink.) 

Submitted by Laura. Black sugar and a cinnamon stick and we were all fancy pants.
Pumpkin Pie Martini
(courtesy Manhattan's Haru Sushi, with slight substitutions and our garnish)
1.5 oz pear vodka
1 oz pumpkin puree
1/4 oz triple sec
 1/4 oz simple syrup
splash of bitters
dash of nutmeg 
dash of cinnamon

Combine and shake with ice. Serve in a sugar-rimmed martini glass with a cinnamon stick.

Teach: I could smell this all day...or night.
Pammy: It smells like a spa.
Teach: Yes. It's relaxing. (heh, Teach was already drunk)
Pammy: This is more my speed. Not as sweet.
Teach: Isn't it awesome? All the flavors...I want to keep smelling it! (Smells it for awhile) This one is seasonal. And festive.
Pammy: It's really rich. Also good for just one drink.
Teach. Yes. That is pumpkin pie.
 (five minutes later)
Pammy: The end gets kind of...chunky—
Teach: And that's no good.

Note: Do not make the following drinks. In fact, I'm not even going to post their recipes.

Chocolate Orange Martini

Pammy: This looks awe.some. We're ridiculous.  
(Take sips. We just make faces for awhile.)   
Pammy: So, this was supposed to be dark chocolate, not white chocolate.
Teach: I. love. dark chocolate.
Pammy: Me tooo. I really don't like white chocolate.
Teach: Noooo.
Pammy: We should have known better. We made it look the most festive—
Teach: but that does not make up for it being awful.

And down the sink it went. 

Pumpkin Spice Latte Martini
(Note: I tried making this work all weekend, until I literally was going to vomit if I saw the bottle of Kahlua one more time. I'm thinking Bailey's may have been a more obvious choice, but I didn't want to buy another bottle of booze.)

Teach: This looks like cozy in a cup!
Pammy: It looks awesome.
Teach: It's seriously just cute.
(takes sip.)
Pammy: I really wanted this to work. The mix is just...wrong. What is wrong with it?? Does it need actual coffee?
Teach: It's really bitter. Too much Kahlua?
Pammy: Yeah, it's definitely not sweet enough. It's so pretty though.

And down the sink it went. And at this point, we decided we should create our own drinks, so we made a Pumpkin Milk base (1 part pumpkin puree, 2 parts 1/2 and 1/2, 1 part simple syrup, a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg) and went from there. Here's the best.

Holidaze Shot
1 oz Pumpkin Milk
1 oz vodka*
Mix in shot glass.

*We may have tried this with regular, vanilla, pear, and apple vodkas. I like regular. She liked vanilla.

So anyway, cheers everybody. Hope you had great Halloweens. Hubby and I decided to stick a "baby's sleeping-ring the doorbell and perish" sign on the door (not actually what it said, but it should have. I always think of the good stuff too late, damnit) and left a bowl of starbursts on the front porch. Because we thought it was a nice thing to do for the first four kids who came to our door.

Hey, you snooze, you lose.


Halloween Booze post is forthcoming, but in the meantime...
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Monday, October 22, 2012

Halloween Cocktail Challenge

Oh, so many things to say. So many half finished blogs to post. So much going on in my head that this full time mom and part time employee and part time employer and full time stresscase has to just get down on paper. Keys. whatever.

So what gets me to actually log on and post something? Booze. Obvs.

I posted this challenge on Facebook last week, but here it is again:

Got a killer Halloween inspired cocktail you want to share? I want to hear them! Bonus points if you concocted it yourself, but if you got it from somewhere, that's cool, too. Just make sure and credit the source in your entry.

The three my panel of judges decide are the best will be posted for all y'all to sample yourselves.

Which reminds me. I need a panel of judges. Email me for deets if you want in, whether it's at my house or at your own...

My hubby just asked what the winner gets. Um, drunk. Duh.

I've got three strong (heh) contenders already. Whatcha got?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

It should not be this hard.

I have a handful of foods that I just can't master handle even begin to not utterly fuck up. And they're basic, too. Bacon, for example. Either completely burned or completely uncooked. I can't flip fried eggs to save my life. (Actually, breakfast foods in general tend to get the best of me).

Lasagna is another. It should be simple—sauce, pasta, filling, cheese, sauce, repeat, repeat, repeat. But for whatever reason, I can't deal with it. It's either too wet and falls apart, or I don't put enough sauce and it's dry and blech. I just...I can't do it, I don't know.

Anyway, that was just a tangent. What I intended to start with was that my little food processor has had quite the workout today.

I'm making all of E's food, so I figured I'd try and get a head start on the next with the help of the processor and some new ice cube trays, I'm now stocked up on peas, carrots, green beans, and sweet potatoes. (We're also very slowly moving through banana and avocado. Peas we love, sweet potatoes we love. Feet kicking, baby-bird mouth wide open, spoon grabbing L-O-V-E...avocado, on the other hand, gets a clamped lip. Will. Not. Eat. Cracks me up.)

But I also came across a recipe on Pinterest for a Veggie Pesto Lasagna that looked delish, so the first step was making some pesto. A little birdie (the internet) told me that the best pesto is a bit coarser than the store bought mush you generally find (and I usually make), but instead of chopping by hand (please), I just added a bit lot less olive oil and pulsed a bunch of times until it was nice and coarse.

It's not real scientific here:
A handful of pinenuts
A whole bunch of basil (maybe 2 cups? more?)
4 cloves of garlic, roughly sliced
About 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Sea Salt (a good pinch)
Olive oil (2 tbsp or so)

Combine all in food processor. Use accordingly.

Accordingly, in this case, is about 1/3 of a cup, so I have a ton left. I'll figure something out. But holy hell, my lasagna finally turned out. Even though I had to use cottage cheese instead of ricotta (don't ask why I was doing my cheese shopping at Target) totally worked.

Veggie Pesto Lasagna
12 no-cook lasagna noodles
1 jar marinara (I used a tomato basil)
2 cups cottage cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/3 cup pesto
Thyme (about a tsp)
Oregano (about a tsp)
Sea salt
Fresh mozzarella, torn into small pieces
Olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup shredded zucchini
Chili flakes to taste (I used a 1/2 tsp or so)
1 package baby spinach

Preheat oven to 375.

Saute garlic, onion and zucchini until soft. Add chili flakes, and gradually add spinach until wilted. Remove from heat.

In large bowl, combine cottage (or ricotta) with the parmesan, pesto, thyme, oregano, and salt.

Coat baking dish (I used a 9x13) lightly with cooking spray. Pour enough sauce to very thinly cover the bottom (1/2 cup or so). Arrange 4 noodles to cover (break off the corners if you need them to fit better). Spread half of the cheese mixture across the noodles (make sure and cover them all to make sure they cook well), then half the spinach mixture across the cheese. Arrange half of the mozzarella across. Top with 4 more noodles, and pour half of the remaining sauce. Repeat with remaining cheese, spinach, and mozzarella. Top with remaining 4 noodles and the rest of the sauce.

Bake for about 40 minutes, covered lightly with foil.

6-10 servings, depending on how you cut it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The six(!) month check-in

So Mister Man has been around for six months. Dude, that's half a year. I think this seems like a long time, but as hubby says, "Once he's been out of the womb longer than he was in there...then it's impressive."

So whatever. Some people just aren't impressed by much. I know Angelina Jolie famously called her babies "blobs," which I can understand if not agree with, but it's definitely been a change. E's gone from a creepily itty bitty newborn to a baby...and a baby that wants to be a child, at that. He turned 5 months and was pulling himself to standing. He cut two teeth. And since then, he's learned to sit himself up. OH, and he's CRAWLING.

So, yeah, I'm screwed. Here's what I've learned lately.

Sometimes you just have to invent alone time. I've sat in grocery store parking lots in a roasting hot car eating ice cream sandwiches, just so I don't have to go home. See also: trips through drive thrus for sodas after appointments, shaving legs in the shower when they don't need to be shaved, and pretending not to hear the baby talking to himself in the crib after a nap. If he's happy, I'm happily not entertaining him.

Always, always be sure the baby is done pooping before removing a diaper. That is all.

Sleep training is awful. Let's be honest here: we started letting the poor kid cry. We read a book, we rock and sing two songs, and into the crib he goes. At bedtime, there's also a bath and pjs beforehand. Sometimes he sighs, turns on his side and falls asleep holding his stuffed monkey. Most of the time, he screams for 5 minutes, I go in and pop the pacifier back in, and then he goes to sleep. And then some days there's just screaming. And screaming. And screaming. At this exact moment, it sounds like there's a mountain lion in his crib, tearing him apart limb from limb. He's standing in the crib, clutching the railing, pitifully wanting to do anything other than sleep.

Seriously, child.

The nicest part, other than regular naps and a set bedtime (holy crap, we get to have dinner together again at 7:30!) is that I'm no longer rocking him completely to sleep, singing butchering the same damn two songs over and over and over. Now, I only have to listen to myself four times a day—before it was closer to 12 to 16 times. Each song. Per day. That's the same refrain 36 or more times. each. day.

That said, I used to love Love Song by the Cure/311/Adele. These days, not so much. I'm still not sick of Lullaby by the Dixie Chicks, though. That's some good baby-cuddling stuff.

I'm bored with breast feeding.
I mean, the kid's gotta eat, so there's no way around it (and my god, pumping is so much worse), but it's been six months, and it's boring. I don't know why people consider it bonding time. If he was just going to eat, that'd be one thing. When he's wide awake and super hungry, we can typically knock out a meal in 10 minutes. But the rest of the time, I sit there, playing Words with Friends (username: phubs) or Where's My Water? or reading the news and waiting while he either a) eats lazily, b) half eats/half sleeps, or c) half eats/half squirms around, biting my nipple with his sharp little choppers, pulling my hair and kicking me in the shoulder/throat. That one's obviously my favorite.

Oh, and I've discovered the only way to feel more like a cow is to hand express. (This isn't nearly as sexy as it sounds, dudes. I'm sorry to have to burst your fantasy here.) It's awful, but it's faster than pumping.

And there's the eating. Speaking of, love is making (and tasting) mashed sweet potatoes using freshly squeezed breast milk. E has been ready to eat solids for the past two months (according to me) but the doc wanted me to wait until 6 months. Something about him thriving on my milk or something, I don't know. (Also, go me.) The first two days were TBD...but he'd moved up to two servings (two tablespoons, which is more than it sounds) by the 4th day. Little piggy.

He eats everything. I feel like "My kid ate my homework" doesn't fly the way "my dog ate my homework" does. (Does it?? I have no idea. I liked homework. Yes, I was that kid.) But for real. He eats my homework. My bills. My shoes. My computer. Anything that can go in his mouth does.

I love that he's this size. He's big enough to fit nicely in my arms, all curled up and sweet, but big enough to not be at risk of being broken. Not that I'm planning to drop him, but this kid can wiggle. Case in point: Diaper changes.

So, yeah, he's a handful. But he's incredibly sweet and silly and keeps Hubby and me laughing. He makes the weirdest noises we've ever heard, especially when he's tired. We generally know sleep is imminent when he starts telling us a story. It's like he knows he's about to fall asleep and needs to tell us everything he's been thinking about all day before he forgets. It's awesome.

He's also having teething symptoms again (that or he really is trying to eat his own hand), so we may have more chompers to report next month.

'Til then...

Monday, September 3, 2012

Is it still gourmet if it's easy?

When hubby asked what I was making and I told him Prosciutto Spinach Salad, his response was "ooh, gourmet."

Which got me thinking...exactly what makes a meal gourmet? Is there, like, a gourmet qualifier?

Here is how the MacMillan Dictionary defines gourmet:
Gourmet food: of a very high quality.
Gourmet cook: someone who can make very good food. 

Well. Glad we got that straightened out. Thank you, MacMillan dictionary, for that riveting and completely non-subjective definition. Sooooo. I guess the moral here is that this salad is awesome (yet super easy) and you should make it, because people will think you're gourmet and shit.

Prosciutto Spinach Salad
1 3oz pkg prosciutto
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
Spray oil
Fresh pepper
Asparagus, trimmed and cut in half or thirds
Baby spinach, one package
About 1/4 cup basil, thinly sliced
Juice from half a lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tap brown sugar
Parmesan cheese

On a lined cooking sheet, lay out prosciutto slices and sprinkle with tomato halves.

Coat lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle all well with fresh pepper. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. Let cool and break prosciutto into pieces.

Bring some water to a boil and drop in asparagus. Let cook about 5 minutes, drain, and rinse with cool water.

In a medium bowl, combine the dressing ingredients: basil, lemon, oil and sugar and whisk until sugar is dissolved. (or stick it all in a jar with a lid and shake it til dissolved, like I did.)

On large salad plates, spread out baby spinach and top with asparagus. Arrange prosciutto and tomato, and drizzle with dressing. Finish with a dusting (or more!) of parmesan. Voila.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I don't know why I didn't just make them meatballs.

Does anyone actually eat Bulgar Wheat? My phone keeps trying to change it to "vulgar" wheat, which I take as a sign that I do not, in fact, want to try it. Well, I'd try it, of course, but I'm not going to buy it. Anyway, this recipe called for it. But it also called for me to make my own plum sauce from scratch.

Heh. Cooking Light. Heh.

I had whole wheat couscous (which, really, is the same thing), and I had hoisin sauce and sweet chili sauce, so substitutions were readily made. Not the same as plum sauce, obviously, but they worked great-or you could always buy plum sauce. Or make it. That's all you.

Pork Patties with Slaw
2/3 cup boiling water
1/3 cup whole wheat couscous
1 package ground pork, 80% lean
Good squirt Sriracha
4 stalks green onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tbsp sherry
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
Cooking spray

Hoisin Sauce and/or sweet chili sauce, to serve

4 stalks green onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 cups shredded coleslaw mix (cabbage and carrots)
3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
Sriracha (to taste)
pinch ground pepper (white)
handful peanuts, chopped

In saucepan or bowl, combine water and couscous, cover and let stand 5 minutes. When all liquid is absorbed, fluff with a fork. In large bowl, combine couscous, pork, sriracha, green onion, cilantro, sherry, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper. Divide into 10 to 12 small patties. Poke a hole in each one. (I don't know why, but the original recipe said to, and I did, and they were good, so why chance it?)

Heat pan over medium high, spray with cooking spray. Cook 5-6 patties for 5 minutes, then turn and cook an additional 5 minutes. Remove and repeat with remaining patties.

Combine remaining green onion, cilantro and cabbage in a large bowl. Whisk together vinegar, oil, sriracha and pepper, and pour over cabbage mix. Toss well and top with peanuts.

Serve slaw and patties together, and top with hoisin and/or sweet chili sauce.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Maybe it's just an acquired taste.

Tarragon is one of those herbs I just don't use much. I've tried dried, I've tried fresh, and it's always just too...sweet? (If you can get them, and they aren't ridiculously expensive, always spring for the fresh stuff. With the exception of something that's going to cook a long time, like chili or crock-pot recipes, fresh herbs almost always win out over dried.) It's really pungent, but I'm not sure how best to describe it. I kept trying, but I just hadn't found a tarragon-centric recipe that I've liked much.

Until now.

This tarragon and lemon chicken is. so. good. I originally was going to try just lemon and tarragon, but it was missing something for me. So I added some garlic and mustard, and then I actually found myself wanting more of the sweetness to come through, so I added some white wine, and bit more tarragon, and boom. Perfect.

Served it over mashed red potatoes (with margarine, salt, pepper and a bit of white wine) and a simple green salad, and we gobbled it right on up.

Tarragon Chicken
2  boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
White pepper
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
Zest of one lemon
Juice from half a lemon
About 2 tsp fresh chopped tarragon
1/4 cup white wine (i.e. Sauvignon blanc)
1 tbsp olive oil
Cooking spray

Sprinkle chicken with a bit of salt and pepper. Coat pan with cooking spray, and cook chicken over medium high heat for about 3 minutes. Pour over half the sauce, then turn chicken. Cook another two minutes, pour over remaining sauce, and cover. Cook another 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (less if it's really thin, more if it's not).

Serve with the cooked juice ladled on top.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


We did Sam's Chicken Adobo last night, and while I have no idea if it's super authentic—Adobo is like the mainstay recipe of the Philippines—it was mighty tasty.

Which brings me to my question of the day...why are people from the Philippines Filipino? The ph-f conversion confuses me. Can someone explain this one to me? People from France aren't Phrench. People from Philadelphia aren't, um, Filadelphians.

I'm not stoned, I swear, though I realize that's kind of a stoner thing to get all caught up on. Anyway, just wondering. Doesn't matter. We'll move on.

I also made Filipino eggrolls, called Lumpia, though I know they're supposed to be smaller than what I made...I used egg roll wrappers instead of wonton wrappers, cause that just seemed like that much less work. When you're cooking in half hour increments (AKA "Naptime") 20 big rolls seems far less daunting than 60 small ones. So they probably weren't as crunchy as they should have been, but whatever. I served with two dipping sauces-one I'll give the recipe for, and the other was just 1/4 cup or so of sweet chili sauce with a tbsp of fish sauce added. And then I mixed the leftover sauces together at the end, and that was actually my favorite of the three. (Actually, I preferred the rolls the next day, too, just reheat about 5 minutes a side at 400.)

And I used ground turkey, but ground pork would probably taste better. Also, when you open the eggroll wrapper package, and there are only 10 wrappers, even though the nutritional information clearly states there are 21 in there, relax. They're stuck together. Don't shrug and start rolling anyway.

Again, not stoned. But really not helping my case here.

Simple Chicken Adobo
2 pounds chicken thighs
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tsp fresh ground white pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar
6 garlic cloves, crushed
4 bay leaves 
Hot rice, to serve

Note: I used boneless/skinless thighs because I think chicken skin is utterly disgusting. It still worked, but was a little drier than it should have been.

In large pot or dutch oven, combine soy, vinegar,  pepper, sugar, garlic and bay leaves over high heat. Add chicken. When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, cover, and cook 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, turn over chicken pieces and leave uncovered to simmer an additional 30 minutes.

Serve over steamed white rice.

Lumpia Eggrolls
1 lb ground lean pork or turkey
1 carrot, (or about 10 baby carrots) grated
1 small white onion, grated
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped fine
1 can bamboo shoots, drained and chopped fine
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 /2 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
3 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 package eggroll wrappers (about 20)
1 egg white, beaten

Combine meat through pepper (probably easiest to mix with your hands). Coat a baking sheet lightly with cooking spray. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling  on a wrapper and roll up. Dip your finger in the egg white and use as glue to close, and place seam side down on cookie sheet. Repeat til you're out of either wrappers or filling. Obviously.

Bake at 425 for about 12 minutes a side (20-25 minutes total).

Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon cornstarch, mixed with the water
1/2 inch piece ginger, grated

Mix. Dip. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Four—oops, FIVE—month check in.

Cross posted at Salt & Nectar

I'm not going to be cliche and gush on and on about how fast time flies, because I don't really feel that way. I mean, a lot has happened, and E's changed so much, but time seems to be passing at a normal clip. I'm not sitting here clinging to the past/present and "Oh, if only he'd stay like this forever"ing...I'm more excited to see what he'll do next.

I get grief from other moms with toddlers about this a lot..."Don't wish him bigger!," "Once he's walking you're screwed!," "You think he's a lot of work NOW..." And I do think he's a lot of work now. And maybe I'm being totally naive about the whole thing (this is definitely possible), but I'm happy he'll eventually be a little easier to self-entertain. Cause right now I'm going a little nuts.

So, to all you fellow quasi-type-A, 'I can work from home with a baby—how hard can it be? They sleep all the time, and I can multi-task like a mo-fo' future moms out there, lemme break it down a minute here.

E is a 30 minute at a time napper, and although he's up to about 4 naps a day, I spend an additional 40-120 minutes of my day trying to get said naps to even happen. So the "babies sleep all the time" line is total bs. Sure, some babies do. But that doesn't mean yours will.

And unless you have a champion napper, you're not going to get anything done. Because when they aren't sleeping, they need attention. They need to be fed. They need to be changed. They need you to make them laugh. They. Need. You. If you're going to attempt to work from home, prepare for a lot of evening, early morning, and weekend work. The only days I truly get anything done are when my mom comes to visit mid-week. (Note: tears from a stressed out new mom plus a retired grandma are a very effective combination.)

And now the fun stuff. Here's what's happening in new-mommy land.

I am shedding everywhere. We have two cats who like to make their presence known—I regularly find cat hair in my car, on dishes, in the bathtub and other once-sanitary cleanish places like that…and now I'm joining the pack. I hadn't lost a hair in 9 months, and then, boom. Three months post-partum on and I'm finding it in drains, on clothes, in diapers, in my lunch… it's like living with sasquatch. Add the fact that E has a grip like a bulldog-and his favorite handle is my hair-and I have a bit of a situation happening here. My sister presented me with some salon-quality hair thickener/growth inducer yesterday that's a favorite amongst her new mommy clients. Fingers crossed. (But so far, so good. I love having a product-rep/stylist sister.)

Not everything can be steam sanitized. Teething rings and the microwave don't mix. Unless melted plastic was your goal.

Speaking of, sticking a refrigerated ring or cold water in your baby's mouth for the first time is quite fun…I can't lie, I love the 'WTF, mom?!' face he's been perfecting lately. I can't wait for food. And I don't think he can either. Right now everything goes in his mouth. Everything.

Cloth diapers are gross. Even with a fantastic diaper service like I had. Because while the service does the super gross part and cleans them, I still have to change them. And they bunch. And twist. And soak through. And as cute as the covers are on the outside, the inside can get downright disgusting. And that part I have to clean. I lasted three months. And then it was time for some Honest Company diapers. They're as close to earth friendly as I can find while still being cute and well reviewed. And cute they are.

His toes are his favorite snack.

I believe whoever came up with the term "cat nap" must have also had a mini-horse sized cat like my Ramona. And that cat thought that the best time to tromps through the nursery—knocking over frames and whatever else happened to be in her path, hopping on and off changing tables, and climbing up and then perching upon the back of the rocking chair—was exactly 4 minutes after the baby drifted off at nap time.

We've learned that hitting thing against surfaces make awesomely fun noises. It's especially fun to hit things against his own forehead with alarming strength. Sophie, water cups, teething rings…And all good parents know that the best thing to do when your child is in self-inflicted potential harm is to point and giggle. We try and tell ourselves he won't actually dent his perfect little forehead, but we're usually laughing so hard we can't stop him anyway.

We're finally sleeping through the night (He won't go to bed before 9pm, but he'll sleep til 7am, so whatever.) And if that's not good enough, in the morning I generally get the world's best smile; it's like the kid is about to break his face. It's generally accompanied with some form of "agadabowiehaha(wookie noises)ba!" Which obviously translates to "Hi my indentured servant Mama! I missed you doting over me and now I'd like to hang out and have you change this soggy diaper and feed me. Now!

Suddenly the cats are very interesting.

The cute dude in the mirror is one of his best buddies.

I'm not sure this is supposed to be happening yet.

So all in all, this kid is a definite handful, but he is the happiest baby ever. Seriously. He smiles at everything, laughs at nothing, and is generally in a good mood most of the time. His mama is extremely grateful for that. Even if she gets nothing done during the day.

I'd like to also note that the post partum has all but passed...I really was struck by the outpouring of support online and in person, so I'd like to thank everyone for the concern and kind words.

Aiming for a six month check in next...

Sunday, July 1, 2012

I should ask the people at In N Out for some pointers.

What is it that I'm doing wrong with burgers? If I've learned anything from the Food Network, it's that pressing down your burgers on the broiler/grill makes them dry. And so I make them all pretty and flat and big, thinking they'll stay that way, and then as soon as they hit the heat, it's like a cotton sweater in the dryer type situation.

Or maybe I just need smaller buns.

Anyway, doing some Sam recipes this week, cause fast and easy prevails. I love that he cooks like I do, with super unspecific measurements, but I know that drives some people crazy, so I try my best to accommodate y'all when I do his recipes. He says to use 1/2 cup of any type of fresh herb combination (thyme, parsley, basil, cilantro etc.) here, so just know that you don't have to use what I used if you like other herbs. And all I had was dried thyme, so, you know. Use whatcha got.

*Is it gross that my photo was post-bite(s)? Sorry. My bun was dwarfing my dainty little patty, so it was the only way I could show layers.

Honey Mustard Burgers
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup total of basil leaves, finely chopped (a good handful of leaves) and mint leaves, finely chopped
About 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Good pinch each of salt (sea) and fresh ground pepper (white)
Romaine or other lettuce leaves
Tomatoes, sliced
Buns (I used Hawaiian sweet sandwich rolls)
Horseradish mayo (optional)

In small bowl, combine honey and mustard. (Voila—Honey Mustard. I know.)

In large bowl, combine meat, herbs, S&P, and 1/4 cup of the honey mustard mixture. Mix well with your (clean) hands. Divide into four clumps and shape into patties. Hopefully you're better at this than I am.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat, and spray with just a bit of cooking spray. When hot, add in patties, and cook 4-5 minutes a side for medium rare. They may get a little burned looking on top, but that's ok.

Toast buns, and spread honey mustard on each. I also spread a little bit of horseradish mayo on one side. Top with lettuce, tomato and patty.

Served with a mix of really unfortunate looking (read:burned) sweet potato fries and steak fries, so I avoided getting those in the pic.