Friday, July 25, 2014

From a Box, At Home: Homemade Hamburger Helper

As I child, I didn't grow up with "convenience meals."  Almost every meal we ate was something crafted from scratch.  No bisquik, no boxed cake mixes, no kraft mac and cheese, and no hamburger helper.  And honestly, because my parents never made a big deal about cooking, it didn't seem like these "harder" methods of preparing food were all that hard.

Thatboy on the other hand, grew up on all these foods.  Even though his father prided himself on his amazing cooking abilities, I never saw the man prepare potatoes that didn't come poured out of a box as powder.  And his mother consistently reverted to frozen lasagnas, because making lasagna yourself "is an all day affair." 

I feel as though I am constantly having to prove to Thatboy that making things from scratch isn't so difficult and tastes just as good as the boxed things he grew up with.  I have completely converted him when it comes to mashed potatoes.  Even he now recognizes it's a pretty quick side to throw together.  And this homemade version of hamburger helper also won him over.  It's the cream cheese.  It gives it that really creamy consistency that makes it taste like something decadent.  Add in the cheddar, because all pasta should have cheese, and you have a meal that can win over even the biggest doubter.

Now, if only I could convince him that you can make pancakes without bisquik...

 Homemade Hamburger Helper
1 1/4 lbs ground turkey
1/2 lb pasta
1 can diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp oregano
salt and pepper
3 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
  1.  Cook pasta according to directions.  Drain, reserving one cup of pasta water.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Cook ground turkey until browned.
  3. Add the cumin, chili powder, oregano and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add cooked pasta, the reserved water, cream cheese, and sour cream.  Stir until cheese melts.
  6. Cook for an additional 3 minutes.  Take off heat and stir in cheddar cheese.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Beer, Beer, and Parenting

My favorite summer time drink is without a doubt, the margarita.  The ice, the salt, the sweet lime flavor.  But also in the summer I tend to stray away from the wine in favor of a nice, cool beer.  Yeah, I drink a lot of beer in the summer.

And lately, we've been finding ways to incorporate Thatbaby while exploring new and different brews.  Like when we ventured to Plan 9 Alehouse, which has 26 beers on tap, 37 in bottles, and a play area for kids.

And thanks to SD Mom I also discovered that Stone Brewery has a farm! Which is so perfect for family outings. 

There's a tasting room, naturally, and picnic tables to sit and drink and eat.  We brought our own lunches, but there's also a pizza oven if you get there early.

And while the parents sit and drink, there's so much to keep the little ones entertained. 

The HorseWhispers met us there this weekend, and Thatbaby was happy to show Little HW the ropes.

After the two of them swung their hearts out on the playground, he took her to see the peacocks and the goats.

Dear parents, if you really want to keep your kid entertained while you drink, there's nothing better than letting them bring a friend along.  Especially if their friend has super cool parents you're friends with.

Because there's nothing better than being able to indulge in your favorite pasttime with some of your favorite people.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Spicy Breakfast: Southwestern Breakfast Burrito

Breakfast gets the short shaft around here. Dinners are lovingly crafted by tired hands and served and eaten as a family.  But breakfasts are done on the run.  Thatboy eats from time to time, a bowl of cereal.  Thatbaby is usually set up with a cereal bar or cereal or oatmeal.  Something that can be made quickly.  As for me, I tend to stick with oatmeal or egg whites.  Boring and blah.  But when we're running about so much it's hard to get creative.  And the last thing I want to do while trying to get ready and get Thatbaby ready is slave over an intensive meal.

Which is why I love these breakfast burritos.  I can make them on the weekend and throw them in the freezer for easy defrosting during the week.  I mean, sure, I could buy frozen burritos, but for some reason the tortillas never taste right in those.  Unlike these soft and pliable fresh ones which retain that pliability even when reheated.  I also like that I can adjust the filling so that Thatboy and I can have spicy ones, while Thatbaby's remains mild.

Southwestern Breakfast Burritos (From What's Cookin, Chicago)
1 lbs pork sausage
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1 medium onion, diced
3 eggs
salt & pepper to taste
6 burrito sized flour tortillas
1 cup shredded taco cheese

  1. Heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Cook the sausage until browned.
  2. Add onions and bell peppers; cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Pour the eggs in the skillet and scramble.
  4. Add the eggs to the sausage and peppers, tossing to combine.  Let cool.
  5. Heat tortillas
  6. Place a line of cheese on bottom third of tortilla.  Top with a tablespoon or two of eggs.  Fold into a burrito by folding up the bottom third, then each of the sides, the continuing to roll the remaining two thirds.
  7. Wrap in foil and freeze.  When you're ready eat just wrap the burrito in a damp paper towel (after taking it out of the foil) and microwave for 2-3 minutes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Choo-choo-choosing friends

Now that Thatbaby is at a new preschool, we don't get to see some of his old friends as often.  Which is sad, because I adored his old friends and their parents.  Luckily they've been really great about trying to plan times to get our kids together.  Mrs. Parrot contacted me to see if we'd be up for another outing to the train park with Little Parrot and BA.  Well of course we would!

Thatbaby was a little shy with Little Parrot.  Which makes sense, since it's been longer since he's hung out with him.  When he spotted BA however, he was overjoyed.  So excited.  And that excitement wrapped up Little Parrot in it as Thatbaby wanted to make sure both his friends were with him at all times.

The boys loved riding the train together, looking out the window and choo-chooing along.  It was a great ice breaker to remind them of how much fun they have together.  As soon as we got them off the train, they took off - running in circles and chasing each other through the park.

Eventually we got them to sit down and have a little snack, and then it was back to the racing around.

 We crossed over to a playground to let them have a free space to run where we didn't have to worry about them getting hit by a train or a car.  Then they spent the morning climbing, sliding, running, going through tunnels and just generally enjoying being together.  Thatbaby told me it was his favorite part of the weekend.  And who can blame him?  Everyone needs some good friends.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Pirate Looks At 40

I know, I was just telling you about Mrs. Pirate's surprise birthday party.  I laughed when Mr. Pirate texted me asking for help with the party, because Mrs. Pirate had already clued us all in that she was throwing him a surprise party for his 40th birthday.

On Saturday we all gathered at Mission Bay to celebrate the momentous occasion. 

 After everyone was there, Mr. Pirate showed up, blindfolded.

He told us after that he had no idea where he was going or what was going on.  Mrs. Pirate totally threw him. 

She had hired caterers who stood and grilled tacos for all of us.  And of course, where there are tacos, you can find margaritas!

Mrs. Pirate had advised us to bring some fun inflatables.  And since Thatbaby had such a blast with the blow up whale while in Palm Desert, we got him a blow-up on his very own.

Oh how he loves that dolphin!

About a year ago, Mr. Pirate got very into paddleboarding.  He is always trying to get Thatboy out with him.  He's been pretty unsuccessful with that.  I think Thatboy went out once and decided it wasn't for him.  But Mr. Pirate got a lot of his other friends interested, so there were no shortage of boards on the bay.  So Thatbaby had his first paddle board lesson.  Which pretty much meant Mrs. Pirate gave him a ride, then Thatboy took him for a paddle as the sun set.

When it started getting darker and colder, we lit a fire and roasted marshmallows.

We always love getting together with the Pirates, and celebrating a birthday makes the occasion even more fun.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mommy Mondays: Turn Around Bright Eyes

It's funny how sometimes doing "the right thing" gets you all sorts of judgment coming your way.   We're all supportive of certain parenting choices, to an extent.  Like breastfeeding.  Everyone acknowledges breastfeeding is good for babies, but do it "too long" and all of a sudden you have to defend this choice that was phenomenal a short time earlier.

Lately I've been getting all sorts of side-eyes for the fact Thatbaby is still rear-facing in his car seat.  He's the only one in his preschool still rear-facing (both his old and new preschool).  And almost all of our friends flipped their kids forward facing long ago. 

For some reason, even though no one would question having a 4 month old or 8 month old rear-facing, like breastfeeding, if you do it too long, somehow it loses all its benefits.  Except it doesn't.

So why is Thatbaby still facing the back of the car?  Because it's safer.  It's as easy as that. A child in a forward facing carseat is five times more likely to be seriously injured or killed than in a rear facing one.  Kids skeletons are still ossifying at 2, 3, 4 - and that ossification is what makes it so much more dangerous to be facing forward.  They are at a greater risk for internal decapitation, chest, rib, and internal organ damage.   It doesn't matter how big or small they are, because bones don't calcify faster based on weight or height.  That five times number is kind of crazy.  That means in 100 accidents, 8 kids in rearfacing carseats would be injured, 40 kids in forward facing carseats would be injured.

We're super lucky in that we get to experience all the terrible things you hear about in terms of why people flip their kids around.  Thatbaby is not a great car-kid.  And he never has been.  He has been a screaming maniac in the car.  He has no leg room back there.  He has fought getting into the carseat.  We have a very small car.  But even with all these things, we find other ways to deal with it so we can keep him rear-facing as long as possible. 

We put up with his screaming in the car, planning long trips for naps or bedtime.  We do a lot more night driving than we used to.  Instead of turning his carseat when he started fighting us, we turned it into a "big boy game."  Thatbaby has been crawling in and out of the carseat by himself since he was 18 months old.  And when he still doesn't want to get in?  Well, it's much easier to push up on the back of his knees when he braces against the back seat.

As far as the small car with no leg room, well we found a carseat with a small footprint to take up less space.  And Thatbaby has no problems with the lack of leg room.  He crosses his leg or puts them up on the seat, or to the sides of the carseat. 

And we do lots and lots of talking/singing in the car.  Thatbaby loves to sing the soundtrack to Frozen and have long long long conversations.  He talks nonstop in the car.  But if it keeps him rear-facing for longer, then I am just as happy to keep it that way.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunday Runday: Where I'm From

I thought I should share a little about how I started running.  Because like most people, I didn't just get up one morning and start running.

I don't remember if I shared this before, but when I was in 10th grade, Thatdad suffered a massive heart attack.  As part of his recovery, weight loss was important.  Thatdad was already physically active, in fact, the day of his heart attack, he had been at a karate class.  But after the heart attack, he enrolled the family in a gym and started walking 4 miles every morning.

Thatmom and I joined him.  We were up at dawn every morning.  The problem was, to keep up with Thatdad's walking speed, Thatmom and I had to run.  And that's where my running began.

I found running to be a really great stress relief for me.  I remember the day I didn't get into one of my top college choices, I went to the gym and ran for hours.  After college, when I moved back home, I used it as a way to get out of the house.  When studying for THE BAR, it was my "me" time every day that I could count on.

In 2009 I started racing.  I had run/walked races before, but this was the first race I had really run.  For time.  And I was hooked.  The adrenaline, the camaraderie, the t-shirts!  I started running a lot of races.  I decided to start building, from a 5k, to an 8k, to a 10k, to a 15k, to a half marathon.  In 2010 I ran a race every month.  Along the way I grew to love running more, develop a more healthy attitude about it (a topic for a whole 'nother post), and even get faster.  I was able to keep running all through my pregnancy with Thatbaby, and after.

So really I have Thatdad to thank for my introduction to running.  But my how far I've come!