Friday, April 29, 2016

Passover Fallbacks: Beet Soup with Chive Cream

Last night Thatkid plaintively whined "Soup again?  Why do we always have soup for dinner?"  To which Thatboy informed him that soup is the perfect Passover meal.

And it's true.  With ingredients that make the most of meats and vegetables, it doesn't rely on any of the foods forbidden during Passover.  Not only that, it's very easy to make.  Which is why we have had soup twice this past week.

In my defense, I do try to change it up a bit.  Which is easy to do with soup.  At the beginning of the week it was a broth, teaming with potatoes, carrots, and beef.  Now it's creamy, beety, soup.  Even the colors couldn't be more different.  From brown and boring to bright and vibrant.    The color of beet soup is really incomparable.  And it's the perfect harbinger to the spring weather I keep hoping will stick around.

Beet Soup with Chive Cream
8 medium beets
2 Tbsp butter
2 medium onions, chopped
5 cups hot vegetable broth
1/2 cup milk
4 oz sour cream
finely chopped bunch of chives

  1. Gently wash the beets being careful not to damage the skin.  Place them in cold water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered until the skins rub off easily.  This could take from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on size of beets.
  2. Remove the beets from the water and remove the top and bottom of each beet.
  3. Heat the butter  in a saucepan and add the onions.  Cover and sweat for 15 minutes.
  4. Chop the beets and add to the onions.   Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Place vegetable broth, beets and onions in a blender and blend until smooth.  
  6. Place soup back in saucepan and reheat.  Add milk.
  7. Swirl sour cream through the soup and sprinkle with chives.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Crave Wednesday: Beefy Caprese

Have you ever noticed that when you can't have something, it seems to be everywhere?  This happens to me every Passover.  Take yesterday for instance.  Yesterday someone brought fresh, hot, Krispy Kreme doughnuts into work.  No one ever brings doughnuts into work.

We've been surviving anyway though.  And as usual, I've managed to keep our matzah intake low by just choosing meals that don't incorporate flour/corn/beans/pasta.  And we're eating a lot of fruit.

Burgers are a Passover ritual for us.  Whether it's the "protein style" burger at In n Out (a burger wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun) or an at home version, a well dressed burger is just as fantastic without the bun.  Maybe better.  Because in most cases, the bun doesn't hold a lot of flavor, so why take away from the ingredients that do?

This is especially true for this Caprese Burger.  Fresh buffalo mozzarella has the perfect salty bite and melts so nicely atop your patty.  The bold flavors of the basil and tomato which already seem like a peas and carrots type of pairing, only add to the delightfulness of each bite.  This is the salad you already know and love, with a meaty twist.

Beefy Caprese (From Cooking Light)
1 lb lean ground sirloin
4 oz fresh buffalo mozzarella
olive oil
8 heirloom tomato slices
basil leaves
4 whole grain hamburger buns
  1. Divide sirloin into 4 patties.  Grill the burgers for 3 minutes on each side, or until desired doneness.
  2.  Place mozzarella on burger during the last minute of cooking.
  3. Place burger on bun and top with tomato, olive oil, and basil leaves.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Mommy Mondays: Current Favorites

Thatbaby has started pointing at everything and saying "gah" (that?  What's that? look?)  So what are the things we're "gah"ing about?

This is a terrible picture, because Thatbaby is obviously sick.  But I love these shirts from Gymboree.  In general I'm not a fan of the "big brother" "little brother" type shirts, but I love the fact that these shirts include both!

Thatkid is loving being my helper in the kitchen.  He's quick to ask to help if he sees me making something, or equally quick to agree to help if I ask.

He is also, quite obiously into baseball.

Thatbaby is still very entranced by his activity table.

But he is now equally interested in his walker.  Even though his favorite thing about it is crawling into it and having his brother push him around.  He will literally go sit in it and then look around for Thatkid.

Thatbaby will forgo all toys for a banana though.  We have to keep them hidden.

He loves to watch his brother play baseball.  Well, he loves to watch baseball.  His brother and the rest of the team.

He also somehow has decided he loves beer. This one is a little confusing, since he's never actually had beer, but somehow he decided that it's something that he MUST have.  And he is always trying to get his hands on it.  Like the little hamburgler of beer.  We've gotten to the point where Thatboy will give him an unopened can of beer to play with while he drinks his own.

Thatbaby also is a huge fan of the outdoors.  As soon as he figured out how to crawl, he made a beeline for the door.  If he hears a door open he pat-a-pat-pats as fast as he can towards it, then erupts in crying when he doesn't get there before we close it.

When he isn't able to get outside, he goes for the next best thing - the dog bowls. 

Thatbaby's favorite place to be?  Why on top of something, of course.

But toys, bananas, and misbehavior aside, it is clear that his favorite thing ever is his big brother.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Padres and Pancakes: Pancakes with Pancetta and Maple SyrupP

Baseball has taken over our lives right now.  Thatkid has a baseball game twice a week, once during the week, and every Saturday.  He loves it.  He loves seeing his friends and he loves the game.  Earlier this week after work he and I were tossing the ball around in the back yard.  He told me we were professional baseball players.  I informed him that until someone started paying us, we couldn't really be considered professional.

Professional baseball is on his mind a lot this week, because he went to his first professional baseball game this past weekend.

Sunday was "Pony League Day" at Petco Park.  Which meant all the little league teams were invited to the field for a parade and a game.    Each team paraded around the field.

After we saw Thatkid, we headed up to the nosebleeds to our seats.

We were pretty high up, but we had an amazing view of the field.

Eventually the rest of the rugrats joined us.  There was a lot more horseplay and eating junk food than game-watching.  But Thatkid said it was the highlight of his weekend.

This weekend has more baseball, but also marks the beginning of Passover, so we've got a couple of seders on top.  Which means I've spent this week trying to load up on my favorite flour-y foods.  Breakfast for the next week is going to be mostly yogurt, so this week is all about waffles and pancakes.

Pancakes with bacon are a pretty well known thing.  But what do you think about pancakes with pancetta?  Brilliant idea right?  Pancetta is like fancy bacon anyway.  These pancakes are dense and thick, which pairs well with the salty meat.  And the salty meat is perfectly complemented by the sweet maple syrup.  While normally I'm not a huge fan of maple syrup on pancakes, I really like the combination of these flavors together.  I'm going to miss it next week!

Pancakes with Pancetta and Maple Syrup
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
3 eggs
1 tsp melted butter
2/3 cup milk
12 slices pancetta

  1. Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl.
  2. Whisk in the eggs, butter, and milk.
  3. Preheat a broiler and broil the pancetta until crisp.
  4. Heat a skillet and when hot, wipe it down with vegetable oil.  Drop dollops of the pancake into the pan so they make 2 1/2 inches in diameter.  
  5. Cook about 2 minutes per side, then flip and cook another minute.
  6. Divided between 4 plates.  Top with pancetta and pour maple syrup over.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Gym Rats: Zesty Pesto & Tomato Burger

We had one heck of a weekend.  April is less busy workwise but our weekends are full.  Birthday season is in full swing. 

Saturday we went to K3's birthday party.  Which was held in one of those kid-gym places.  The boys had a fantastic time.

Thatkid  ran, jumped, and rode whatever that thing is.

And he even got a chance to fly.

I wasn't sure how Thatbaby would do.  It was his first experience with something like this.  I should have known better.  He loved being able to crawl, climb and explore.  We had tried him on a small slide a little bit ago, but he did not love it.  Now that he's older and wiser he loved the slide!

The gym employees set up a couple of these swings for the little siblings of the birthday boy's friends.

He even had his first corn dog.  Which was the perfect food for him.  He could easily hold it and bite off chunks.  Plus, this kid loves hot dogs.

We all filled up on corn dogs and weren't very hungry when we got home.   But of course, that meant that I didn't make dinner until late, and then I didn't want to spend a lot of time on it.  This was a fantastic and easy use of the pesto my neighbor had brought over late this summer.  We keep it in the freezer for just such an occasion.  Thatkid loves pesto, or "green sauce" as he calls it.  He also loves feta.  And tomato.  Really this is the perfect burger for him.  Thatbaby loves hamburger and although he seems to really enjoy tomato, the red splotches on his face after eating it has made us hold off for giving him any tomato for the past few months.  One of the nice things about baby led weaning is that it's easy to modify his meals.  It's fairly easy to serve this without the tomato.  In fact, for the next few weeks it might be preferable - but just you wait until the end of the summer!  Fresh pesto and juicy tomatoes will make this the perfect burger for all your cookouts.

Zesty Pesto & Tomato Burger (From Cooking Light)
1 lb lean ground sirloin
4 Tbsp pesto
2 heirloom tomato slices
1 Tbsp crumbled feta
4 whole grain hamburger buns
  1. Divide sirloin into 4 patties.  Grill the burgers for 3 minutes on each side, or until desired doneness.
  2. Place burger on bun and tom with pesto, tomato, and feta.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sunday Monday: Boston

Tomorrow is a huge day for runners.  The Boston Marathon. 

So this seems like a good time to talk about the race.  It's a bucket list race for many runners.  A goal.  Something they strive for.

There are 2 things that prevent my from qualifying for the Boston Marathon, the first is that I'm slow.  I'm okay with my slowness, and speed is certainly relative, but I'm not making any cutoffs.  The second thing that keeps me from running the Boston Marathon is the whole 26.2 miles.  I love running, but I have no desire to run much more than the 13.1 miles in a half marathon.

But you know what?  Unlike a lot of runners, I'm completely okay without the Boston Marathon goal.  It's just not a desire of mine.  I'm so perfectly content to live vicariously through my friends.  And I have amazing friends.

Like Cate, who ran it while 20 weeks pregnant.

Or Audrey, who ran it while 20 minutes pregnant (hmmm, maybe that's the trick?)

This year I have several friends running tomorrow and I'm so excited for each and every one of them.  We've actually done several events to celebrate their awesomeness.  Like last weekend when we did a Boston Run before they all headed out this weekend.

Do you see all those shirts?    Because if you're not fast, you can at least have fast friends.  Good luck to everyone running tomorrow.  Be safe, be fast, have fun!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Pan-fried Wild Mushrooms with Parmesan and Thyme Butter

There are a lot of things I love about mushrooms.  But one of my favorite mushroom stories actually involves Thatbrother. 

I love my brother, but like everyone else in our family he often speaks with authority about things he knows little about.  It's a family trait.  I'm not sure if it's learned or inherited, but there you go.

Like many Thatbrother stories, I don't remember the exact context of this one.  But like many Thatbrother stories what I do remember is the tagline - mushrooms are full of protein.  It's become a running joke in our house when talking about vegetables. 

I can see where he got this idea.  Portobellos are often subbed in for hamburger patties.  But it's not due to their high protein content, it's due to the fact they are so delicious on their own they work as a great meat substitute.

Mushrooms are fantastic like that.  You can make a whole meal out of them!  I mean, I enjoy celery as much as the next person, but when was the last time you made a bowl of celery and just sat and enjoyed?  There is nothing decadent about celery.

But a bowl of mushrooms, sauteed in butter and cream, topped with cheese?  Well that's just about indulgent as a "side dish" can get.

Pan-fried Wild Mushrooms with Parmesan & Thyme Butter
8oz wild mushrooms
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp thyme leaves
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp chives
4 Tbsp Parmesan shavings
  1. Heat the oil in a skillet.  Cut the mushrooms into thin slices and add to skillet.  Saute for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown and tender.
  2. Add the butter and thyme to the skillet. 
  3. Once the butter starts to melt, stir in the cream and chives.  Cook for another 203 minutes until slightly reduced, stirring occasionally. 
  4. Divide the mushroom mixture among warmed wide-rimmed bowls and scatter the Parmesan shavings on top.  Serve immediately with some crusty bread.