Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Swim-boree






You may or may not have heard, but they're making a Finding Nemo 2 movie.  Right away Thatbaby knew he wanted to be a part of this.  Even though he wasn't around when the first one came out.  And he hasn't seen the first one.  My boy won't let little things get in his way.

He wants to audition for the lead.  Even though he doesn't know how to swim.  And he isn't animated.  Or a fish.  My boy won't let big things get in his way either.

Like any supportive parent, I'm here to help him achieve his dreams.  So Thatboy and I enrolled him in swim lessons.




When we mentioned we were doing swim lessons, Thatbaby's friend Jurisbaby wanted in too.  Which was great, because the two of them are fabulous at sharing.  If sharing means "give me the toy you have while you grab at the toy I have."  And this worked out well since toy ducks played a large roll in their first swim class.






The instructor had them play a bunch of games to get their arms moving and legs moving in the water.  They practiced getting out and "jumping" back in.  They started blowing bubbles in the water.






 Thatbaby loved every minute of it.

 
 He adored being in the water, splashing with his friends.  The instructor was impressed with his "excited kick."  We already knew how much he loves the pool since this wasn't his first time, but it was fun to see him actually partake in some swimming skills like kicking, reaching, and slapping at the water.  He's fearless in there.



And it tuckered him out completely, giving us a nice long nap when he finished!  We can't wait till next week!

And because I don't let things stand in my way either, I've become adept at crockpot meals during the week.  I've got it down to a science.  In the morning, I gather the ingredients together, chopping and browning.  Then it cooks all day so that when I get home from work, all I need to do is shred tender meat with a couple of forks and serve with some sides that I've already got ready.  I've found pork is the perfect meat for the crockpot, and we eat a lot of it.  Especially since it's Thatbaby's favorite meat.  This one takes an extra step - rubbing the meat with spices at night before bed and letting those spices sink in overnight.  But it's a quick step, easy to do, and it definitely makes for some flavorful meat.


Slowcooker Cuban Pork (From Elly Says Opa)
1 (2-3) lb. pork roast
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne
1.5 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. ancho chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 large onion, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. honey
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
zest of 1 orange
2 limes, juiced
1/4 cup chicken broth
Warmed corn or flour tacos, for serving


  1. Rub the pork roast all over with the Dijon and oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper. 
  2. Combine the cayenne, allspice, chili powder, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, and oregano in a small bowl. Then, rub the mixture all over the pork. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium high heat and add a small amount of oil. Place the roast in the skillet and brown on all sides. Remove to slowcooker.
  4. Place the onions and garlic on top of the pork. 
  5. Combine the honey, orange juice and zest, lime juice, and chicken broth, and then pour into the slowcooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Shred with a fork and serve on tacos.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Mommy Mondays: A Room with a View

I realize I posted a nursery tour on my pregnancy blog, but not on this one.  So here's a little tour of Thatbaby's home.


 
It started with this:

 
A painting I had picked up about 2 years ago at an Art Festival.  I love this picture, from a series entitled "Little Buddies."  It used to hang in our living room, but it just seems so perfect for a baby's room.  Especially a first baby's room since it has a mommy bird, daddy bird, and baby bird.  Once we knew we were expecting, we went back to the artist and purchased a couple more prints from the series to hang on the wall.  
 
 
From there, the plan was to use the colors in the painting for the rest of the room.  Red/Blue/Orange and Green sheets and accessories.  But then I found this bedding:


And it seemed so perfect.  It used a lot of the colors from the painting - subbing in yellow for the red, but still keeping neutral.  I removed the bumper and quilt once Thatbaby became a resident, leaving a sheet covered in orange, green, yellow and blue leaves.  Finding the sheet set led us to our next nursery inspiration:
 
 

A tree wall decal!  We had to compromise a bit on this.  Thatboy wanted something really realistic, and I wanted something rounder/more cartoony.  This fell a little in the middle and we got to pick all the colors.  So we used the three main colors in the sheets - blue, orange, and green, and used them to match green leaves and blue and orange birds.  (There are some blue and orange squirrels at the base of the tree too that didn't get captured in this photo)
 
By this point, we had officially embraced the "bird" theme.  And my similarly themed shower had different birdhouses as centerpieces.  I was urged to take them home with me and we decided to add them to the room as decor.


And for the remainder of the tour......
There's my "nursing corner."




There was a period of time I lived in this chair.  With all the frequent nursing sessions in the beginning it was important for me to find something that was comfortable.  And this chair is comfortable enough to sleep in.  I know, because I have...often.  It's a glider and the ottoman also glides.  I can't imagine my life without it. We come in here for Thatbaby's naps, and it's where both Thatboy and I get him ready for bed.  Thatboy does storytime and bottles here, I do nursing and bedtime songs.
 
 
And the "changing station."


The top drawer of the dresser holds diapers, wipes, extra burp cloths, diaper cream, an extra changing pad cover and refills for the diaper genie.  The middle drawer has bibs, socks, caps, pants and some gorgeous sweaters made for this baby.  The bottom drawer holds sheets and sleep sacks - bedtime stuff.
 
I also decided that it's been a while since I've done a giveaway, and since these posts are my way of being helpful, I'll thought I'd start including some giveaways on Mommy Mondays.  I can't promise one every Monday, but we'll see how it goes.  For my first giveaway, I'm doing the Baby Led Weaning Book.  So if you're interested in learning more about it, since I think it's a great resource, just leave a comment here.  The giveaway ends next Saturday night at midnight and I'll contact the winner by next Monday.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Yo Yo Yogurt



Yogurt has always been a staple for me.  While most of my classmates brought sandwiches for lunch in elementary school, my bag always held a yogurt.  (Except for my Harriet the Spy phase where I ate tomato sandwiches)

When Thatbrother and I were in charge of making dinner, we often used yogurt to coat our baked chicken.

Now yogurt makes it's appearance as breakfast, snacks, even desserts mixed with berries.  And while I don't eat much ice cream, I will never turn down a tart frozen yogurt.  Especially in the summer, I love it's cool tang.

So a mixture of some summer favorites - yogurt and shrimp, provides a cool, refreshing dinner.  For me, yogurt sauce is decidedly Greek, so I served this in a pita with cucumber, tomato, and feta.  Cucumber, which is also a cool summer treat, and tomato - because really, tomato doesn't get any better than right now,


 Shrimp with Yogurt Sauce
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons Greek seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 large tomato, chopped 
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced 
  1. Whisk together the yogurt, garlic, oregano,mint, lemon juice, and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Combine greek seasoning and olive oil in a ziplock bag with shrimp. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
  3. Heat grill or grill pan over medium heat.  Grill shrimp 5 minutes per side or until pink.
  4.  Serve shrimp on pita with cheese, tomato, cucumber, and yogurt sauce.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Take a Hike


It's been almost a year since Thatboy and I have been hiking.  And since we had a nice day with nothing planned we figured we should take advantage of it.

We headed over to Elfin Recreational Reserve.  Only 1.4 miles from the parking lot to the dam.  Sounds easy enough right?



They even lull you into a false sense of security by having the trail start at a beautiful creek.  This is also where the trail ends.  And I'll share with you a little secret.  Thatdog like bridges.  He DOES NOT like crossing creeks by jumping rocks or wading through them.  I think the last part of the hike was most traumatic for him as we tried to coax him across.




 The trail itself though was not an easy hike.  It was all uphill, steep, unpaved, and windy.  As someone who gets carsick, I was thankful we were on our feet.  My feet were not quite as thankful.  And Thatdog was rethinking his constant desire to head out with us.  Thatbaby slept through the whole thing.

But it was all worth it at the end.  We reached the oasis - a refuge with drinking water, restrooms, benches, and a view that explained why were doing this in the first place.


 We stayed here a while and rested - we deserved it.  Thatbaby woke up and tried to eat rocks and dirt - which are apparently some sort of gourmet delicacy given by the tantrum he throws when you try to stop him.




The way back down was much easier and more pleasant.  Downhill is funny that way.  When we got to the bottom we were sore before even making it to the car. Thatboy complained all day the following day.  We were hot, sweaty, and dirty.  

We needed a filling dinner, but nothing hot and heavy.  Shrimp with yogurt sauce made the menu and I'll share that recipe with you tomorrow.  As a side dish, I took some of the bounty of summer and threw it together for an easy summer salad.  There's nothing especially summery about black beans, but for some reason, black bean salads are one of my summer staples.  With crisp cucumbers, sweet tomatoes, and creamy avocado, it's the perfect refreshing side dish.



Summer Salad
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 avocados, peeled and  diced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 red onion, minced
2 tbsp cilantro
juice of 2 limes
salt and pepper (to taste)
  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Littlest Candy Striper


When I was a senior in high school, I was walking to my car one morning, my hands loaded with books, when my ankle rolled.  Unable to catch myself, I fell and gave myself a nasty sprain.  This was not my first sprained ankle, nor would it be my last.  In fact, I ended up spraining my other ankle a couple of weeks later.  I know - I'm just lucky.

Thatmom  pulled an eerily similar stunt this week.  While walking to her car she fell.  Except she wasn't content to just sprain an ankle - she had to outdo me and break her foot.  Poor Thatmom!

In the middle of the week she got moved from a cast to a boot, but she was still fairly immobile.  So I brought the cheeriest nurse I could find for a visit.
 
He doesn't have a license or anything, but he's great at handing out prescriptions of TLC
 On the way back home we got stuck in awful traffic.  And that smiley mouth you see above?  Became not so smiley.  It was open alright, but screaming and crying the whole time. It was a looooong drive home.

Long days call for easy dinners.  We're addicted to Bobby Flay's Chipotle Honey Glazed chicken.  It makes such a nice easy marinade.  And I decided it would make an excellent salad dressing too.  Mixed with ranch it has the sweet, spicy, tangy kick that pretty much goes with anything. 

 Chipotle Ranch Chicken Salad
1/4 cup ranch dressing
10 oz baby spinach leaves
4 oz feta
1/2 red onion, sliced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cucumber, chopped
2 carrots, julienned
2 chicken breasts, grilled
  1. Combine the chipotle honey glaze with ranch dressing and set aside.
  2. Combine spinach, feta, onion, cranberries, carrots, almonds, and cucumber in a large bowl.  
  3. Divide vegetables between 2 bowls.  Slice chicken and place one breast over each bowl.
  4. Drizzle the salad with the chipotle ranch dressing.
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Monday, July 23, 2012

Mommy Mondays: Rock-A-Bye Baby

Tune in, because I'm about to give you all the secrets on infant sleep.  All of them.  Are you ready?


Here it is: There is no magic sleep solution.  Sorry!  One of the constant refrains in mommy-hood is that every child is different.  What works for one, may not work for another.  And each child hits developmental milestones in their own time.

So my thoughts?  Embrace that.  In the figurative sense, of course.  Because there are times that you want to pull your hair out.  Times when you're exhausted.  Times where you swear if that child cries one more time you'll sell him to the next highest bidder.  It happens to the best of us.

What gets you through those times?  For me, it's reminding myself that he's a baby.  And despite what you may have heard, babies don't sleep through the night.  There's no question that you know someone whose baby slept through the night from the first minute they were born, but that's not the norm  And I've learned a couple of things about the elusive "sleeping through the night" -
1) Just because your baby sleeps through the night early on, doesn't mean they will consistently sleep through the night.
2) Everyone has a different definition of sleeping through the night.  Technically it means 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  But I never considered that really sleeping through the night because 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep still has a baby up in the middle of the night.  Some people consider a baby "sleeping through the night" if they only wake up once or twice to eat.  Which I also don't consider sleeping through the night.  And of course, there are some people who will brag about their baby sleeping through the night, and the baby is sleeping from 11:30pm to 6am.  Dude - 11pm is past my bedtime!

So if your baby doesn't sleep from 7pm to 7am, just know - there is nothing wrong with you, and there is nothing wrong with your baby.

Here are some things that we found helpful on the sleep front.



In the Beginning:
 Something to remember about those early days - it's all about survival.  Mostly yours.  If that means the baby only sleeps in the swing, then the swing is your new best friend.  I don't have any recommendations short of  - sleep in whichever way works best for you.  For us, that meant Thatbaby slept in his crib in his own room from the very first night home. 

And for us?  Those early days meant sleep, glorious sleep!  There was none of that "new parent exhaustion" for the first 5 months.  During pregnancy I had the worst insomnia.  During the entire pregnancy.  Once Thatbaby was born, it went away and I was able to get good, restful, sleep everytime my head hit the pillow.  And we got 8 hours of sleep a night.  Not uninterrupted sleep, but because we had nothing to do but take care of the baby and house, we could devote 12 hours to our bed and even with frequent wakings we were still getting lots of sleep.



0-3 months:
During the first 3 months Thatbaby went from waking up every 3 hours to waking up once around 4am, eating, and going right back to sleep.  I was getting 6-7 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  For naps though, Thatbaby needed to be held.  No falling asleep in the swing or carseat for my child!  Being held meant that I spent a lot of time those first few months wearing him, so I wasn't stuck on the couch and could still do things that needed to be done.



Things that helped with sleep the first three months:
After the first month we introduced a bedtime routine.  Thatboy gives Thatbaby a bath, diapers and dresses him, reads him a story, and gives him a bottle. Then he'd cuddle and rock with Thatbaby until the baby fell asleep. 

The only "parenting" book I purchased was Dr. Karp's Happiest Baby on the Block, which utilizes the 5 S's.  The concept was introduced in our baby care class taught by the hospital and was really effective for us.  One of the S's is "swaddle."  Swaddling worked really well for us.  Partly because Thatbaby had a really strong startle reflex and would wake himself up if he wasn't swaddled.  We quickly found out that the Halo Sleep Sacks were the best for the job.  We tried receiving blankets and many of the other swaddle-type sacks (Swaddleme, Miracle Blanket), but the Halo were the best for mid-night diaper changes.  The zipping up from the bottom meant you could do a quick diaper change without having to reswaddle, and sometimes without even having to wake the baby.



Another one of Dr. Karp's S's is "shhhhhh."  That shushing sound that sounds like the womb.  We replicated the white noise with the Sleep Sheep.  Thatboy liked the ocean sound, so that's what we use.  The white noise helps the baby sink into a deeper stage of sleep, and helps with the transition between sleep stages.

As I said, I wore LBB a lot around the house during those early days, so I love my Moby. As soon as he'd start fussing from fatigued, I'd strap him on and he'd be out like a light.  While I could still fold laundry, put things away, or even go to the bathroom.



3-6 months:
 At 3 months I began transitioning Thatbaby from napping on me to napping in his crib. It was a 5 week process.  First I transitioned him to sleeping on his boppy beside me, then into the crib.  And it was just in time for the 4 month wakeful to start.  I had 2 glorious weeks of perfect napping free time before his naps shortened from 1-2 hours to 20-30 minutes.  Don't worry.  They got longer again. 



At 5 months, my great night sleeper decided he was having none of that, so he started waking more frequently.  Sometimes twice a night, sometimes every 2 hours. But like everything else, I viewed this as just another developmental stage.  And this got better too. 

Things that helped in the second 3 months:

In transitioning Thatbaby to napping in his crib we introduced the swaddle for naptime.  (All because of that crazy startle reflex.)  Our naptime routine became me swaddling him, putting him in crib with the Fisher Price Soothe and Glow Seahorse and turning on the Sleep Sheep.  That Seahorse is magical.  For a while I carried it with us whereever we went.  All I had to do was turn it on and he would calm down instantly.  It plays for 7 minutes.  At naptime, by the time the seahorse turned off, my kid was asleep.



6-9 months:

At 6 months, we ditched the swaddle. At night, it didn't seem to make any difference.  He fell asleep and stayed asleep without it.  But naps were not as easy.  If I put him in his crib for a nap, he thinks it's crazy playtime free-for-all!  There is no sleeping going on.  But the second I pick him up, he tucks his head into my chest and knocks out.  So we're back to rocking to sleep for naps.  Which takes 3-5 minutes and then he sleeps for at least an hour.

His nighttime sleep has gone back to the once a night wakeup, eat, and go back to sleep.  Unless of course there's something going on, like he's sick, or about to start crawling.



I think this is the age that everyone starts sleep training. We didn't. As I said, I view night wakings as something developmental. Something's going on causing him to wake up, and he doesn't have any way of telling me what it is. All he can do is cry. And I want him to know that when he cries, someone will be there. And I know that 10 years from now, when he's making me drop him off a block away from school so no one sees him with me, I won't mind having gotten some extra snuggles with him early on.

He's taught himself to self-soothe and go back to sleep without any help from me.  We watch him on the monitor wake up, and put himself back to sleep.  I've watched his sleep patterns change from good to bad, from bad to good, and everything in between.  And although there's no magic trick for getting a baby to sleep, I'm pretty confident that we will all make it through this stage.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Remember this?



Do you remember back when I had time to read?  When every year I cooked through some work of non-fiction like Garlic and Sapphires and Animal Vegetable Miracle?

I had every intention of continuing the trend last year.  I started reading Trail of Crumbs in July.  The story of a Korean child, adopted by Louisiana parents, who eventually makes her way to France.  The recipes, like the author, are a mix of this disparate regions.

As I said, I started this book last July.  And knowing that my reading days would soon be numbered, I tried to savor it, like a great meal.  I forced myself to only read a chapter at a time, so I didn't finish it too quickly.  Besides, there was so much else to read last summer - instruction manuals for cribs, swings, childbirth.  But my well-laid out plan backfired on me.  Here it is, a year later, and I still haven't finished the book!  Our poor heroine is stuck in rural France (although she may be on vacation in the Mediterranean, I can't remember) unsure of where she's heading in life.

So I'm sure you're wondering why I'm bringing this up now.  It's really an easy explanation - crawfish!  The other day when I was in the supermarket picking up something or other I happened to walk by the seafood department and saw them.  A mound of bright red crawfish!  Crawfish, crayfish, crawdaddies, mudbugs - whatever your preferred appellation, there they were, a rarity in Southern California. 

Growing up we caught them in creeks that ran behind our homes, behind the schools, in the shady woods.  Summers in the south meant I could indulge in etoufee.  I adore crawfish.  I bought every last one the store had to offer.

But then I was struck with the thought of  - "what am I going to do with these precious precious shellfish?"  Which is when I remembered the book on my nightstand.  As I mentioned, the author, Kim Sunee, was adopted by Louisiana parents and her childhood was spent growing up in New Orleans.  She learned to cook at the elbow of her grandfather who was known for his crawfish bisque.  Which sounded like a perfect use for my crawfish.

It was.  The soup is a great tomato - so flavorful I used the leftovers to make arroz con pollo.  And the crawfish stuffing balls are mild enough that they would make a great introduction if you're among the uninitiated.

Thatbaby was quickly initiated as I sat on the floor beside him shelling these suckers.  I spent most of the time trying to keep them out of his mouth - shells and all.  It was a battle of wills.  I had to keep explain to him that they were going to taste much better.  He didn't believe me until he got one of those stuffing balls in his mouth.


Crawfish Bisque (From Trail of Crumbs)
1 tsp canola oil
1/2 small onion, diced
1 celery rib with leaves, diced
2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
2 cans tomato sauce
5-6 cups water
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme or oregano
salt and fresh ground black pepper
ground caynne pepper
1 tsp Creole seasonings
pinch of sugar
1 1/2 cups crawfish stuffing (recipe to follow)
  1. Heat oil over medium high heat in a large pot.  Add onion and celery and cook about 5 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and cook about 1 minute.  
  3. Stir in tomato sauce and stock.
  4. Add bay leaves and next 5 ingredients.  
  5. Add pinch of sugar, depending on quality of tomatoes.  Bring to a low boil; reduce heat and let simmer about 30 minutes.
  6. Place stuffing balls in sauce.  Simmer on low about 30 minutes until heated through.
Crawfish Stuffing (From Trail of Crumbs)
2 loaves french bread
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp butter
1 yellow, finely diced
2 celery ribs with leaves, finely diced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
3 to 4 Tbsp fresh finely chopped parley
3 to 4 cloves fresh garlic, smashed and minced
1 1/2 Tbsp dried Italian seasoning
3/4 to 1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
3/4 to 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
2 lbs cooked and peeled crawfish tails
  1.  Cube bread into small pieces and dampen with enough water just to cover.  
  2. Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.  
  3. Add onion, celery, and green onions and cook, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes or until soft.  
  4. Squeeze out excess liquid from bread, add to skillet, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add parsley and next 5 ingredients.  Cook, scraping bottom of skillet as stuffing browns.
  6. Add water if stuffing gets too dry.
  7. Chop the crawfish tails and stir in.
  8. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  
  9. Let stuffing cool and form into 2 inch round balls.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Girls Night In


Tuesday night we gathered around a coffee table, laden with goat cheese, quinoa salad, brownies and ice cream. We fervently leaned in during the discussion, voices rising as we talked over each other, laughing and trading quips.

The discussion that had us all so involved?  Our latest bookclub read - 50 Shades of Grey.

I love my bookclub and the women in it.  They are smart, funny, and most of them are moms or soon-to-be moms.  But the books we read are never ones I would chose for myself.  Most of the time it doesn't matter so much, because we hardly ever discuss the books anyway.  In fact, this is the first time most of us had finished the book to be discussed.  

Our host started us out:  "Did anyone else just not like the book?"  There were three of us.  Three women who pointed out flaw after flaw.  

"Why are they always murmuring?"
"I practiced looking up through my eyelashes, couldn't do it."
"I hate her inner goddess."
and my personal favorite: "NO ONE has sex that often."

To be honest, those of us who weren't enamored by the book have valid points (because really, do you think I'd sit here on my own blog and tell you how wrong I am in any sense?).  The book depicts a relationship you do not want to be in. Let's pretend you have a friend.  She has a new boyfriend.  Here are the details she tells you about:
* He doesn't want her to have contact with any of her friends or family if he's not around.
* He wants to control what she wears, what she eats, and even how she addresses him.
* If she don't behave in a manner he finds appropriate, he beats her.
* He demands sex from her in order to make himself feel better.
* And when she asks questions about him or his past, instead of answering, he has sex with her.

This guy would raise some serious eyebrows, right?  And yet women all over the country are swooning over the book.

The only redeeming factor of the book was that the food sounded pretty damn good.  When they ate.  Because the main character only has about one meal a week.  Somehow subsisting on weak tea  (is this some sort of feminine ideal?)

I can't live only on weak tea myself.  And since Thatboy and I have a relationship based on more than just sex, we can enjoy a delicious breakfast.  No one got spanked when we realized I forgot to buy Log Cabin Light - Thatboy's favorite.  Instead we improvised with some powdered sugar. 





Easy French Toast
3 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 cup milk
6 slices of bread (I used the coffee bread recipe below.  I made the bread first and thought it would be perfect for french toast.  I was right)
  1. Beat together the eggs, salt, sugar, and milk in a pie pan.
  2. Soak the bread in the mixture until soft, turning once.
  3. Heat a frying pan over medium heat.  Melt a tablespoon of butter in the pan, and once the butter is melted, brown the soaked bread on each side.

Coffee Bread (From the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
 1 cup hot milk
1/3 cup sugar + 2 Tbsp
5 Tbsp butter + 2 Tbsp melted
1 tsp salt
1 pkg yeast
2 eggs
4 cups flour
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp cinnamon
  1. Mix the milk, 1/3 cup sugar, 5 Tbsp butter, and salt in a large bowl and let cool to lukewarm.
  2. Stir the yeast into 1/4 cup warm water and let stand for 5 minutes to dissolve.
  3. Add the dissolved yeast, eggs, and flour to the first mixture and beat very well.  Cover and let rise until double in bulk.
  4. Stir down with a spoon and beat thoroughly. Spoon into a buttered loaf pan.
  5. Mix the 2 Tbsp sugar, 2 Tbsp melted butter, breadcrumbs and cinnamon together and sprinkle them on the batter, cover the pan and let rise again until double in bulk.
  6. Preheat oven to 350.  Bake loaf for about 40-50 minutes.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pizza-My-Heart


 It's been ages since I've made it down to the Little Italy farmer's market.  I used to go every week, but we've been so busy lately that it just hasn't happened.  For the first time in ages we had a weekend with nothing planned - perfect for the farmer's market.

Thatboy had a work event, so I invited Thatmom to come and join Thatbaby and I.  


We gave him a slice of orange to work on and he was happy as a clam as Thatmom and I meandered through stalls of produce, picking up fresh fruits and veggies.  And nuts.


 Since Thatmom and I weren't munching on an orange slice, we worked up an appetite.  So we headed to try out a new pizza spot in Little Italy.  (I definitely bribed Thatmom into coming down by promising lunch in Little Italy). 


 We enjoyed our slices of pizza - fresh mozarella and roasted tomato for Thatbaby, margherita for Thatmom, and a potato and sausage for me.

Thatboy totally missed out on our pizza lunch.  Which is sad, because he really loves pizza.  Especially this one. When I saw this recipe on Kelsey's blog I knew Thatboy would love it.  It has one of his favorite ingredients - bacon!  And while he's not normally a ranch fan, this completely won him over.  He thinks it's one of the best pizzas I've ever made.  I'm not usually a cheddar on pizza fan, but I really liked it too.  It's a nice switch from your ordinary tomato sauce, and bacon, chicken, and ranch just naturally go together.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza (From Apple A Day)
pizza dough
cornmeal, if using homemade dough
1/3 c. ranch dressing
3/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 c. cooked chicken, shredded or cubed
3/4 c.  shredded cheddar cheese
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp, crumbled
1 tomato, seeded and diced small
1/4 cup sliced green onions, plus more for garnish, if desired
1.  If using a pizza stone for homemade dough, place stone in lower third of oven.  Heat oven and stone to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes. Shape the pizza crust dough and transfer to a pizza peel or sheet of parchment paper dusted with cornmeal. 

2.  Evenly spread the ranch dressing over the pizza crust, leaving a 1-inch border for the outer crust. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese, then layer on chicken, cheddar, bacon, tomatoes and green onions. 
3.  Slide pizza onto heated stone. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown.  Let cool 2 minutes and garnish with additional green onions, if desired.  Cut and serve.  Serves 2-3.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Duh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh


You may have heard that San Diego underwent a great change over the weekend.  The town was overtaken by superheros, villains, fanboys, and just about every movie and television series you can imagine.

Comic-Con was in town.

Normally we avoid the downtown craziness like the plague.  (fitting since the area was overrun with zombies this year) But when Workwife invited us to join her for dinner and crazy-people watching on Friday we jumped at the chance. 


We met them at Tin Fish - which had been transformed into NBC's Grimm - a show Thatboy and I both enjoy. 
 

A forest filled with mythical (or maybe not so mythical) beings stood right next to the converted restaurant.  And the restaurant itself was forest-ified.



We sat underneath the moss covered umbrellas so we could eat and watch.  They were doing some sort of zombie/monster makeup, but we missed out while waiting for food.  Poor Thatboy.  He said that while he was waiting in line to order he had to physically stop himself from running off to get painted.  "I had to remind myself I was getting food for my family."
 


Surrounding us were a host of famous people.  Obi-Wan Kenobi sat at the table behind us.  You can see Wonder Woman here, and directly in front of us was a real live (or not so live) zombie.   And we watched even more zombies, super heroes, and comic book characters fill the streets.



And after dinner we headed to go enjoy a little piece of Comic-Con ourselves.  An exhibit of all the Batmobiles!  Like the Tumbler from the Dark Knight Batmans.



The "Keaton" batmobile from Batman

The "Kilmer" batmobile from Batman Returns


The "Clooney" Batmobile from Batman and Robin (my personal favorite)

And even the Batmobile from the television series!


I've always had a soft spot for Batman.  I'm sure some of it was due to Thatdad who was a huge Batman fan.  Part of it for me was also that Batman doesn't have any super powers.  The only thing that sets him apart from you or me is that Batman has a LOT of money, and some very cool toys.  And unlike Christian Grey, Batman doesn't use his money, power, or toys to abuse women.  So I guess he sets the bar pretty high.  The only thing Batman can't do is fly - which makes him even more like you and me.  But I have my own pretty cool toy - these feather biscuits are lighter than air.  And a bite or two and you almost feel like your flying.  Which gives you an advantage over my favorite masked man.

Feather Rolls (From the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
1 pkg yeast
4 Tbsp soft butter
1 Tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 egg
3/4 cup warm milk
2 cups white flour
  1. Stir the yeast into 1/4 cup warm water and let it stand for 5 minutes to dissolve.
  2. Mix the butter, sugar, salt, egg, milk, and dissolved yeast in a large bowl and beat until smooth.
  3. Add the flour and beat vigorously until well blended.  Cover and let rise in a warm spot for about 1 hour.
  4. Stir down and fill buttered muffin tins half full.  Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes.  
  5. Preheat oven to 400.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.