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.