Friday, November 30, 2012


Thatbaby is quite the social butterfly.  The weekend before Thanksgiving he had a whole host of playdates.  He met up with a friend for wine tasting, he had a drum circle in the park...

My child gets around.

So of course, this week he's been sick.  Probably from all the social butterflying he's been doing.  It's nothing serious, a runny nose and a cough, but I hate when he doesn't feel well.  Partially because he hates having his nose/face wiped.  Which means my runny-nosed kid is also a snot faced kid.

I let him sneak in an extra nap on Wednesday before daycare, and today I kept him home with me.  "Home" being a relative word, because really we ended up spending half the day running errands.  I'm hoping he feels better after this weekend, even though we've got a bit more running around to do.

I promised you yesterday another recipe to use up leftover mole.  We had a lot leftover.  So much so, that I went to my trusty google reader and searched for mole recipes.  Which is how I stumbled upon Joanne's recipe for butternut squash enchiladas in a mole sauce.  Remembering that Velva had recommended using the leftovers for enchiladas, this seemed fortuitous.  And it doesn't hurt that I love Joanne's recipes.  I'm lucky in that both my husband and son are happy with vegetarian meals, so really, I couldn't go wrong with this one!

Butternut Squash Enchiladas (Adapted from Eats Well With Others)
1 large butternut squash
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups mole sauce, warmed
12 corn tortillas 
 1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco
chopped fresh cilantro

  1. Preheat oven to 400.  Cut butternut squash in half and de-seed.  Place it cut side up on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil.  Put it in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until fork tender.  When done, remove and allow to cool.  When cool to the touch, scoop the flesh into a large bowl.  Mash using a potato masher.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Reduce oven to 350.  Spoon a thin layer of the mole into an 11x4 inch pan. 
  3. Warm the corn tortillas your favorite way (I tend to do this with my gas burners on my stovetop).
  4. Spread approximately 2 tbsp of the butternut squash mash into the center of each tortilla, roll tightly, and put them in the baking dish, seam side down.  Repeat with all of the tortillas.  Cover with another layer of mole sauce.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Sprinkle with queso fresco and cilantro.  Serve with extra mole sauce.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Easiest Mole

I remember the first time I made mole.  Roasting the peppers alone had my kitchen filled with a fragrant smoke that had anyone within a mile radius coughing.

It was an all day affair, and while the end result was delicious, it just didn't seem worth all the time and effort.  Not when I could easily pop into a restaurant and grab a fabulous mole dish without subjecting myself to smoke inhalation.

That was the last time I made mole from scratch.

UNTIL earlier this year when one of my favorite blogs featured a slow-cooker mole.  How come no one thought of this before?  Or how come no one told me about it before?  No smoke filled kitchen, and even if it takes all day, I don't have to hang around doing the cooking!

Just delicious chicken mole.  And plenty of it!  This mole isn't too spicy either, even Thatbaby enjoyed it.  And it makes plenty - stay tuned tomorrow for a way to use up some of the leftovers.

Slow-Cooker Chicken Mole (From Food Everyday as seen on Tomatoes on the Vine)
4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 12)
coarse salt
1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed
1 large chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 cup raisins
3-ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
fresh cilantro leaves, for serving
  1. Season chicken thighs with salt and place in a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker.  
  2. In a blender, puree tomatoes, onion, ancho and chipotle chiles, almonds, raisins, chocolate, garlic, oil, cumin, and cinnamon until smooth. 
  3. Add tomato mixture to slow cooker, cover and cook on high until chicken is tender, 4 hours (or 8hours on low).  Serve chicken and sauce topped with cilantro.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It's all about the timing

Lately it seems like every day is planned to almost the minute.  So much to cram in!  A couple weeks back we found ourselves with a free Sunday.  As I brainstormed to find something fun to do, I stumbled upon The New Children's Museum.  Finding the museum wasn't so much the stumbling - I had already known about it, but I stumbled upon the fact that it happened to be Free Sunday!  And there's no better time to check out a new museum then when it's free.

 Thatbaby loved the museum.  Every inch of it. There was an entire playground made out of cardboard shapes.  He crawled through the cardboard tunnels, and rocked on the cardboard rockers.

He also loved the "reading room" which was filled with books, drums, and a giant plushy pillow.  When he wasn't banging the drums he was throwing himself on the giant pillow.

He played with roly-toys and bubbles, and made art with broken toys.  And when he was feeling especially brave, he ventured, all by himself, into the "Rain room" with giant foam squares on the floor.

He attempted to climb the rock wall and played with the turtle-shell buckets.

We were there for 90 minutes and didn't get to see all of the museum, but it was way past his naptime and he was showing no signs of slowing down, so we thought we should make an exit and try to get him to sleep.  Which didn't actually happen, so we ended up grabbing lunch and taking a walk.  But he had so much fun, we can't wait to go back!

The other area I stumbled across was when I was looking for another tostada recipe, to use up the ones I had in my pantry.  Low and behold. Nicole posted these chipotle shrimp and poblano tostadas, which were absolutely perfect!  We hadn't had shrimp in a while, and I love throwing it on the menu.  Not to mention, I always seem to need to use up cojita cheese, which is fabulous on just about everything from salads to guacamole.

Chipotle Shrimp and Poblano Tostadas (from Prevention RD)
3 tostadas
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, and roughly chopped into 1/2-inch bites
1/2 poblano pepper, diced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder
pinch of cayenne
2 cups lettuce, shredded
1 tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup salsa
3 Tbsp nonfat plain Greek yogurt
3 Tbsp Cojita cheese, crumbled

  1. In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the shrimp, poblano pepper, and spices. Cook shrimp, stirring occasionally, until pink and no longer opaque, about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Divide the shrimp and peppers onto each of tostadas. Top each with lettuce, tomato, avocado, salsa, yogurt, and cheese. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A very long weekend

Last week was so mellow.  I had the office to myself, which meant Monday I got to head to the beach for a run and Wednesday I got some holiday shopping out of the way and left work early to get in another run before the holiday weekend.

I even had a whole blogging schedule planned.  Which involved me setting up posts to automatically post while we were away - Thursday would be all about Thanksgiving, Friday was dedicated to Thatboy's birthday.

But, life got in the way of preparation.  Thatbaby is going through an awful separation anxiety phase right now that involves lots of screaming and crying and very little is getting done at home.  The place is a mess, and Wednesday instead of setting up my posts Thatboy and I were busy juggling "baby duty" (which often involves Thatboy trying to wrangle away Thatbaby from me and Thatbaby escaping and hysterically coming to find me so he can cling to my leg and beg to be picked up) with packing up our stuff for our upcoming trip.  So instead I will combine our Thanksgiving and Thatboy's birthday into one combo-post.  More for your money!  2 for one!  It's Cyber Tuesday!

The holiday weekend started out so well.  We decided to travel at night, after Thatbaby was all ready for bed.  Which meant he slept almost the whole way up, and stayed asleep once we arrived.  It also meant we didn't hit any holiday traffic, since most people had already hit the road.

Thanksgiving itself went as well as could be expected.  It was much easier last year when Thatbaby wasn't doing much but sleeping.  This year I wasn't nearly as helpful, because of constant screaming and hysteria.  Have I mentioned he won't sleep past 6am anymore?  Last year he could be passed from family member to family member, but the separation anxiety this year meant I didn't get to do nearly as much mingling as I would have liked.  The food was delicious though, and we had nearly a record number of attendees this year, requiring 3 tables! 

Friday was Thatboy's birthday! The original plan was to go to breakfast at The Original Pancake House, which is his favorite place ever.  But he selflessly decided to give that up when Toxicesq and China decided they didn't want to get up early to have breakfast and wanted to eat closer to their hotel.  This should have served to foreshadow the disappointment that was this weekend, but we unknowingly pushed on.

The one thing Thatboy really wanted to do was see a movie in the theaters on his birthday.  It's a real luxury for us - the last time we saw a movie in theaters was for my birthday, in June.  So Thatmom and Toxicesq volunteered to watch Thatbaby while we saw Life of Pi, and after we were going to all go out to dinner to celebrate Thatboy's birthday.  Notice I said "were."  Thatboy's birthday dinner never happened. 

While we were at the movie, Thatmom gave TMD and Thatdog a new treat - beef lungs.  Well apparently beef lungs are the best tasting thing in the entire world, because the dogs started fighting over them.  And in the process of separating them, Thatmom put her hand between the dogs' mouths and got bit.  Badly bit.  ER visit with stitches bit.  And that, my friends is what happened to the rest of our weekend. 

There was no birthday dinner for Thatboy on Friday.  Saturday, instead of meeting my friend for coffee or having a makeup breakfast for Thatboy, I was undressing and redressing Thatmom's hand and getting her ready for Thanksgiving with her boyfriend's family.  Saturday night, for Thatboy's birthday, I had planned a nice grownup evening where we could eat dinner without worrying about our 30 inch time-bomb going off, then we were going to head to a hotel where we could have some time away from a screaming-all-the-time-baby.  Where we could sleep until we woke up naturally, not because it was 5:57 and our 30-inch alarm clock was blaring from his bed.  Instead, we had leftovers and took turns trying to get Thatbaby to sleep as he woke every 20 minutes, while Thatmom and her boyfriend headed out for our nice dinner and hotel night. 

Sunday morning we were going to have a nice breakfast, just the two of us, before heading back into the reality that is our life right now.  Instead, I tried to make Thatboy his favorite kind of pancake, which ended up getting burned because I was preoccupied with screaming Thatbaby, while Thatmom called to let me know her and her boyfriend were going to have a nice breakfast before heading to the doctor to check on her hand.

To say I'm bitter about how the weekend turned out is an understatement.  Disappointed only begins to cover it.  Thatboy's birthday will go down as possibly his worst ever, but even more so we both realized that there is no break for us from what is our life right now.  There are no "escape for just one night"s.  We're both feeling fairly isolated, tired, and stressed out, and on top of it all, all three of us are now battling the cold from hell, which doesn't make things any easier.

The only good thing that came out of this weekend, was this cake, which I miraculously managed to put together Friday morning after breakfast while Thatbaby napped.  Thatboy wanted a chocolate cake for his birthday. A chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  A chocolate cake with chocolate frosting that was so rich he could only take a bite or two before being overwhelmed with the chocolateyness of it all.  I found a copy-cat recipe for The Cheesecake Factory's Blackout Cake that certainly fit the bill.  Thatboy made sure we took the cake back home with us when we left on Sunday.

1 1/2 sticks butter, softened (plus 2 Tbsp)
3 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 tsp vanilla extract, divided
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
3 cups flour
3 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/3 cup boiling water
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray 2 9-inch cake pans with baking spray. 
  2. Cream 1 1/2 sticks of butter in an electric mixer.  
  3. Add sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs, 1 at a time, waiting until each is mixed in before adding the next.
  5. Add in 2 tsps of vanilla and beat until well blended.
  6. Add in melted chocolate and beat 1-2 minutes.
  7. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. 
  8. Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk.  Beat until well blended.
  9. With the mixture on low speed, slowly add the boiling water and beat until smooth.  
  10. Pour into prepared pans and bake 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool in pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks and let cool completely.
  11.  In a microwaveable- safe glass bowl, combine chocolate chips and heavy cream.  Heat in microwave for 3 minutes on high.
  12. Stir in remaining 2 Tbsp butter and remaining 1 tsp vanilla. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour, or until ganache holds its shape and is thick enough to spread on cake.
  13. Cover a cake layer with a little more than 1/3 of chocolate ganache. Set second layer on top. Frost top and sides of cake with remaining ganache.  Refrigerate cake 3-4 hours, or until ganache is firm, before serving.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mommy Mondays: Cruisin'

Thatboy and I spent a looooooong time picking out a stroller.  We went to several stores and gave most of them test-runs.

On the one hand, I'm glad we did.  I LOVE our stroller.

On the other hand, it probably wasn't necessary to do quite so early, since we barely used the stroller for the first few months. 

As I recounted earlier, Thatbaby HATED his car seat.  Which meant he didn't take too kindly to having his car seat strapped to the stroller, so we wore him most of the time.

At first, during baby-blob stage, however, the stroller allowed me to get out and stretch my legs before being given the all-clear to resume normal activity.

Of course, during this time, he usually slept.  It was once he stopped sleeping all the time we retired the stroller for a bit.

Okay, so this is our stroller - The Baby Jogger City Elite.

And why I love it so much:

* Adjustable handlebars: This is fabulous for if your husband is a foot taller than you are.  We need the handlebars at different heights, and this allows us to do so.  It makes it really comfortable for both us us to push.
* Air-tires: Okay, this one I didn't really care about, but it was important to Thatboy.  He felt this stroller handled better than any other stroller we tried.  Including the one he was pushing for before trying it out.  I won't name names or anything, but it was a really popular brand that's 3 letters long.
* Reclines flat: Which makes it really great for naptime.

* Front wheel lock: Which means I can lock the front wheel for rough terrain, and unlock it for easy turning.
* Giant sun canopy: Which makes it perfect for pool/beach time.

* Moon roofs: I'm not really sure what they're called, but there are clear panels I can cover or uncover and keep an eye on the little guy. There's also ventilation areas that can be covered/uncovered depending on the weather.
* One step quick fold: This is my all time favorite thing about the stroller.  To fold the stroller, all I have to do is pull up on a strap on the seat.  So I can hold the baby with one hand, fold the stroller and put it in the trunk of my car with the other.  ONE HANDED STROLLER PUTTING AWAY IS AMAZING.

Even though I run, I decided to wait on getting a jogging stroller since they can't be used before 6 months anyway.  By the time Thatbaby hit 6 months, I decided that I valued my running time, sans-baby, so I decided not to get a jogging stroller.  I love not having to worry about the baby while I'm running, it's the only time I can really focus on just me!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Everyone's Italian

She's baaaaaaack!  Actually, my friend Faye has been back in the country for a while now.  Since spring, if we want to be specific.  And yet, due to house renovations, hosting company, and schedules that just don't mesh, we finally were able to get together for the first time a couple of weeks ago.

Faye has spent the past 4 years out of the country.  First, living along the Amalfi Coast in Italy, and then across the world in Bahrain.  When she asked where we should meet for lunch, I asked if there was any place in San Diego she hadn't gotten a chance to revisit yet.  Her pick was Little Italy, as she had never been there. 

I always love an excuse to venture to Little Italy, pick up some fresh cheeses, fresh pasta, and window-deli shop, so I was only too happy to accommodate this request.   We grabbed some pizza and salad while we caught up on the past few years.  Then we walked and had coffee which was a far cry from the Italian version to which Faye has become accustomed too.  San Diego is really not known for our coffee scene.  Beer?  Of course.  But not coffee.

I returned home from our date wanting to continue the Italian theme of the day, especially since I had fresh cheeses at the ready!  I had seen this recipe in my Food Network Magazine a couple of nights earlier and liked the twist on our typical tacos.  We eat a lot of tacos, given how much Thatbaby loves them.  This ranked right up there with his favorites.  He devoured the sausage and the cheese>  Thatboy was equally impressed.  Although skeptical at first, he began eyeing Thatbaby's portion after a few bites, hoping he might scavenge whatever was leftover.  Mangia Bene!

 Pizza Tacos (From Food Network Magazine)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces white mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces sweet Italian sausage (preferably without fennel seeds), casings removed
  • 2 ounces sliced pepperoni, halved (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup pizza sauce
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, undisturbed, until browned on one side, then stir and continue cooking until browned on the other side, about 3 minutes. Remove to a plate. 
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned, 3 to 5 minutes. 
  3. Add the pepperoni and oregano and cook until the pepperoni is crisp around the edges, about 1 minute. 
  4. Stir in the pizza sauce and reserved mushrooms. Bring to a simmer and cook 5 more minutes.
  5. Warm the tortillas. Divide the sausage mixture among the tortillas. 
  6. Top with the mozzarella, ricotta and basil.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mommy Mondays: Buckle Up For Safety

There are very few things that you really need for a baby.  And most of those things are free.  That's not to say that there aren't a host of things we want to buy, but realistically babies need a place to sleep, something to cover their bottoms/bodies, and something to eat.  If there were no other options, you could probably make due with your own bed, a blanket, and a boob.

There is one exception to this - the carseat.  (Unless you were planning on living at the hospital - and I can't think of anyone who wants to do that.)  Because despite what our parents and grandparents might have done, nowadays laying the baby on the floor of the backseat isn't considered safe.

The great thing about carseats is, that if it's on the market, it's safe - because they go through a ton of testing.

Which means, the best carseat for your child is the one that
1) Fits in your car best.
2) Has a color scheme you like.  (Notice this is secondary to the first requirement) 

We began with an infant carseat, which I'd read were safer for the little guys.  One of the pluses of going with an infant seat is that it has a handle, so theoretically you can remove the seat from the car without waking a sleeping baby.  I say theoretically, because in our case that never worked. First, because Thatbaby refused to sleep in the car - it would have gotten in the way of his screaming, I'm sure.  Second, because if, by some miracle, he did fall asleep in the car, the second the car stopped, he would wake up.  So we ended up never taking the car seat out with him in it.  We didn't bring the carseat to restaurants, we rarely used the stroller with it, we never brought him into our home in it.

For Thatbaby, we ended up with a Chicco Keyfit 30.  I narrowed down carseats to the kinds that would work best with our stroller, and let Thatboy choose from there.  He picked this one because he liked the bright orange color.  Thatboy installed the seat and brought it to the fire station to have it inspected to make sure we did it right.

*Carseat tip - We purchased one carseat, which came with a base, and one extra base.  This way we could have a base in each car and then just transfer the seat between.  In retrospect, we probably didn't need 2 bases, because the seats do work really well without a base, which we realized when we traveled with it to Chicago.

The Keyfit 30 works until the child hits 30lbs or 30inches. When Thatbaby got close to the magic 30 inches, we started shopping for a convertible carseat.

As I mentioned before, the primary concern is finding something that fits in the car.  Especially since Thatboy drives a small coupe.

He was thrilled when I reported to him that his BMW forum recommended the Recaro Pro-Ride.  Because Recaro makes racing seats.  And while he liked it for the cool factor, I thought that was a good sign in the safety factor.  Keeping adults safe at very high speeds means they probably know a thing or two about keeping my small person safe at regular speeds. 

We were originally going to just pick up a Recaro for Thatboy's car and get me something different, but we found such an amazing deal ($100 off each seat) that we ended up getting one for each of us.

For Thatmom's car, which is larger that Thatboy's, we looked for something that was a bit cheaper, since it won't be used as often. Thatmom has the Evenflo Triumph 65LX.  I have no pictures of Thatbaby in this carseat because it's only used when we're not around, but I've heard he seems pretty comfortable in it.

One thing which you may notice in the picture of Thatbaby (or maybe not, I don't know if it's terribly obvious) is that Thatbaby is still rear-facing.  And I intend to keep him that way for a very long time.  I know so many people flip their kid around as soon as it is legally possible to do so, so I'll use a couple sentences for a PSA.  It is MUCH MUCH safer to keep your child rear-facing.  I'm not going to post any of the graphic internal decapitation videos which helped solidfy the decision for me, but I will post this handy dandy chart:

Two of the things that really stand out to me are the risk of injuries.  Rear-facing drops the risk of severe injuries 32%!  Also, if you read the statistic about neck loads you can see the drastic difference between what an infant's neck bears in a crash.   Because I care about you and all the little yous, I urge you not to flip your seats just because your kid hits a certain age.  I'd love to see their smiley faces around for a long, long, time.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Cake for the Weekend

Lately it seems like the weeks are flying by.  I attribute it to the fact that my days are busy, I'm home for such short periods of time, and during daylight hours I pretty much don't get to see daylight.

Which means I really look forward to the weekend, but the weekend also comes along so quickly.  (It also goes by too quickly, but that's another one of those first world problems.) 

I like spending time in the kitchen when I can on the weekends.  It gives me a sense of peace.  Especially if my kitchen time coincides with someone's naptime.  Because otherwise "peace" isn't a word I'd use to describe any of my time.  It is ridiculously difficult to pour cake batter into a pan while holding a baby on your hip.

This cake is exactly how I like my weekends - easy, simple, and sweet.  Not too sweet though.  In fact, Thatboy enjoyed a slice for breakfast, finding that it was a great complement to coffee.  And without a mound of sugar in the cake or frosting, I even felt okay giving a bite to Thatbaby.  I kept it extra light by filling the cake with fresh whipped cream and topping it with just a bit of powdered sugar.  If it were summer, I would love to serve it with some fresh berries.

Nut Torte (From the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
5 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
2 cups ground walnuts
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325. Spray a two 8-inch round pans with baking spray.  Beat the egg yolks until pale and thick.
  2. Slowly add the sugar and continue to beat until well blended.
  3. Stir in the walnuts, crumbs, baking powder, and vanilla, and mix well.
  4. Beat the egg whites separately until foamy, add the salt, and continue to beat until stiff but not dry.
  5. Gently stir a third of the whites into the batter, then fold in the remaining whites.
  6. Spread in the pans and bake for about 30 minutes, or until cooked through.
  7. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes before turning out onto racks to cool.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

My First World Problems

I need a new routine.  Ever since we switched the clocks, I haven't been able to get in my daily runs.  I know it sounds silly - it's only been 3 days, but I miss my runs!  It's just too dark when I get home from work.  I think I'm going to start going for a run at lunch, which should work well since we are officially entering the slow stage of work.

As of right now, I have no motions on calendar, and no trials or arbitrations until 2013!  Well, that's not entirely true.  I have a couple of complaints to file, but other than that, the rest of the year is really about staying on top of what's already brewing and giving attention to areas that have had to wait while we took care of putting out fires.

Which means a daily run should fit right in, right?  Cross your fingers, and I'll keep you updated.

The only plus side to cutting out my nightly runs is that dinner is on the table much earlier.  And I'm not up late making dinner for the next day.  This rigatoni was the last "prepped meal" I made last week.  Baked pasta dishes are so great for cooking ahead of time, since they taste just as good (if not better) the next day.  This was one of Thatbaby's favorite meals as of late. I had to make extra rigatoni because he was eating so much of it before I could add it to the sauce.

This made enough for the three of us, and served as lunch for Thatbaby this weekend too.

Rigatoni in Pink Sauce
1/2 box of rigatoni
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon basil, dried
1 can of whole tomatoes
6 oz Italian cheese blend
1/4 cup parmesan
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare rigatoni according to package.
  2. Crush the tomatoes in your hands before combining them with cream, basil, and half of the cheese in a large bowl
  3. Toss the pasta with the sauce.
  4. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray and pour the pasta and sauce in.  Top with the remaining cheese and bake for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


 I can't remember if I shared this already or not, but at Thatbaby's parent/teacher conference earlier this year he was deemed to be fairly average in all respects, except for literacy.  My son is advanced in literacy.  And it comes as no surprise since his reading materials have always been a little above his age level.

This week, Thatbaby wanted to share with you his most recent reading pursuit.  He's been waiting a whole year to dig his teeth into the sequel of the book pictured above.

The Evolution of Mara Dyer came out on October 23.  Thatbaby was one of the first in line to get his hands on it, requiring his own copy because he just couldn't wait for Thatboy and I to finish it.  Which makes sense, because Thatboy and I haven't finished our copies yet, while Thatbaby has been waggling his little butt around bragging that he's going to spoil the ending.

In reality, this is just a shameless plug for my friend Michelle's book.  Not that she needs a plug from me.  The book made the NY Times Bestseller list its first week out!  Anyway, it is Thatbaby's strong recommendation that you head out and grab a copy of The Evolution of Mara Dyer as soon as possible.  You don't want Thatbaby bragging about how he's more literate than you are, right?

One thing I know I've shared with you is that I used to work at a  restaurant called "El Torito Grill."  It was/is California Mexican, meaning the food was not quite your typical hard shelled tacos or taco salads in giant tortilla shells.  Our "taco salad" was actually a salad atop a single, flat tostada instead.  With refried black beans instead of pinto, and a nice light raspberry chipotle vinaigrette.  With some leftover tostadas to use up, I thought back to this salad as an alternative to our typical baked tostadas. 

 Tostada Salad
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper
1 tsp cumin
mixed greens
1 carrot, grated
raspberry vinaigrette
1/2 cup of monterey jack, shredded
4 tostadas
  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over low heat.  Add half the garlic and cook just until fragrant.
  2. Stir in the black beans, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for 7-8 minutes, then remove from heat.
  3. Smash the beans with the back of a fork.
  4. Toss the mixed greens with the carrot and the vinaigrette.
  5. Spread the beans on the tostadas and top with guacamole, salad and cheese. 

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Taste the Rainbow

Back in May, Alycia ran the "Color Me Rad 5k" and blogged about it.  A race where they throw color all over you? I was instantly sold.  I googled when the race would be coming to San Diego. The date it shot back had me pouting - August 11, the same day as AL's wedding in Chicago.  "Are we really going to this thing?" I asked Thatboy.  "Because there's this race I want to do...."

Luckily for me, another color race was also scheduled down here - The Color Run.  And this one wasn't until November, so I had time to clear our schedule. And recruit some friends!  


I decided tutus were in order and Jurisslave offered to make them.  L&O came up with the idea of different colored tights with matching sunglasses.  We started off the race stylin'

Thatboy was supposed to come and take pictures of how cute we were, but his teeny little assistant came home from daycare with a fever on Friday night, so they both ended up staying home.  Which left me in charge of taking pictures with my cellphone tucked inside a plastic bag.

 The race was divided into 2 start times, each with 15,000 runners.

 And one "Runicorn"  (who didn't even run, he rode on the bed of  a car.  And I've officially decided that unicorns are a bit on the creepy side.  Just a step below clowns).

 The race was divided into 4 "color" stations (1 each km.)  The first station was pink, and after that, so were our tutus. 

 Once we hit orange we could barely see as we ran through the stations, they were just fogs of color.

 I'm going to go ahead and speak for all of us when I say we had a really good time.  We didn't exactly run very hard, and we still made fairly decent time - although this was the first race I've ever run that wasn't timed.  We joked the whole time about PRing as we stopped to take pictures, walk through the color stations, or grab some water. 

After the race we went to the "after party" where we participated in a color throw.  Where each participant throws a bag of color in the air.  L&O and I ended up with blue teeth.  When I came home, I realized my teeth weren't the only things that were blue.  Even after 3 showers, I still have blue under my arm and between my toes!

Jurisslave and L&O are fantastic running partners, and I'm already planning our next race!  Or at least the next time we can get together to wear our tutus.

Even though this wasn't a real race, I still enjoyed a little post-race carb loading.  Especially since my real workout for the day was dealing with a sick baby when I got home.  I mean, sure he looked fine.  And it wasn't like he was running a fever.  But that didn't change the fact that Mr. I-Want-Mommy was on me like paint from the moment I entered the house.  Some nice spaghetti with sausage and a nice glass of wine was exactly what I needed.

 Spaghetti Puttanesca with Sausage
4 chicken Italian sausages 
1/2 box spaghetti
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2  tsp red pepper flakes
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp agave nectar
salt and pepper
1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
2 Tbsp capers
1/4 cup  feta
1/4 cup Parmesan

  1. Heat oil over medium heat.  Cook sausage and remove from pan.
  2. Add the garlic and the red pepper flakes to the pan and saute for about a minute. 
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes, oregano, basil, cayenne pepper, agave nectar, salt and pepper.  Stir well and cover and let simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes.  
  4.  Cook spaghetti according to package directions.  Drain, reserving cooking liquid.
  5. Slice the sausage and add to the sauce with olives and capers.  Simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the spaghetti to the sauce, and thin the sauce with as much of the reserved liquid as needed to create a consistency to your liking.
  7. Top with feta and Parmesan and serve.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Mommy Mondays: 13 months

 I'm actually not one of those who talks about her kid in months at this point in time, but I think since there are so many milestones going on, I'll keep this going for a bit longer.  We're not doing monthly photos anymore, so I'll just pepper in some recent ones from this month.
 Weight: 23lbs 15oz (+ 16 lbs, 8 oz)
 Height: 31" (+ 11")
Head: 18.5" (+ 5.2")

Sleep: Teething is kicking our butts.  As I've mentioned, Thatbaby has a diaper rash which is aggravated by one of the side-effects of teething (frequent poop). So between the teething pain and the rash, no one is sleeping especially well.  We're back to frequent night wakings (2-3 instead of just one).  He still has 2 naps on days he's home, even though he's fine with 1 nap at daycare.  We tried to get him to take just one nap by pushing back his mid-morning nap and he fell asleep in his lunch.

Eating: I'm officially done with pumping!  But I have enough of a freezer stash that Thatbaby is still getting breastmilk at daycare.  We've given him Whole Cow Milk (WCM) a couple of times at home and he drank it just fine.  But at daycare he isn't so interested in WCM, so we'll see what happens when we're out of breastmilk.  He's still nursing when at home and eating plenty of solids.

Best Moment: I love how happy Thatbaby is when he comes walking around the corner.  He sticks his little arms out and comes at you with a big smile on his face, aiming for a hug.  He loves hugging.  I love that too.  He gives hugs, especially leg hugs where he pats the back of your calf while hugging it.  And he loves to get kisses by inclining his head in for you to kiss.

Monthly Wisdom: This has not been my favorite month.  You would think that with walking would come more independence, but you'd be wrong.  When Thatbaby started crawling, he was so happy to be able to get where he wanted.  When Thatbaby started walking, he didn't have the same relief.  Instead, I probably have to hold him more than I did before.  He wants to be with me all the time.  He cries when I drop him off at daycare.  He gets so frustrated.  So my wisdom for this month is as much for me as you.  I have to keep reminding myself that all of this is just a phase.  And, "this too, shall pass." 

Goals for the Upcoming Month:
- For the love of all things bright and beautiful I hope we get a break in the teething so I can get my sweet happy baby back again.
- Happier daycare drop-offs.

Things Thatbaby is doing:
- Walking!
- Teething (5 and counting!)
- Playing with cars - he likes to race them around and make "mmmmm, mmmmmm" noises.  Or blows raspberries.
- Screaming his head off when I try to leave him at daycare.
- Carrying things in his mouth like a dog.
- Climbing!  Thatbaby mastered "the big climber" at daycare.  And at home, he somehow figured out how to get into the tub by himself.
- Thatbaby is very into costumes right now.  He likes to put on sunglasses, hats, masks, headbands, and look at himself in the mirror.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Halloween Week, Day 4- Like Totally Dude

This isn't actually a Halloween post, but because it involves a costume I figured I could stick it in anyway. 

Workwife turned 30 this year.  In celebration, her husband threw her a fabulous surprise party.  In fact, that was our impetus to find a babysitter.  So we could attend the party.  But we suck, and we failed in our monthly mission. 

Without a babysitter, only one of us could attend the party.  No surprise that Thatboy won that lottery.  I mean, she is his Workwife.

The theme of the party was 80s, and I made sure Thatboy was totally stylin' when he left.

Very 16 Candles, no?

Thatbaby and I were left on our own for the night.  Which gave me a nice evening to relax on my own after I put the baby to bed.  Because this dish?  Not baby-friendly.  Except in the fact that he would have loved these black-eyed peas.  But the spice level was just a little much.  So he got ground meat and beans not simmered with chiles.

When I went to the store to pick up ground pork for this dish, the butcher was completely out.  And, presumably because I live in a fairly Jewish neighborhood, the butcher said they didn't grind their own pork, only beef or chicken. So I made this with ground beef - but I can definitely see how it would complement pork.

Smoky Pork Chili with Black-Eyed Peas (from Fine Cooking, as seen on Tomatoes on the Vine)

6 plum tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
6 medium cloves garlic, peeled
2 large or 3 medium jalapenos, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 medium onion yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, halved, cored, and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. dried oregano
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 dried ancho chiles
2 dried New Mexico chiles
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
2-1/2lbs. ground pork (I used ground beef)
1 Tbs. ground cumin
 1 tsp. chili powder
2 cups lower-salt chicken broth
three cans of black-eyed peas
Sour cream, for serving
Thinly sliced scallions for serving
  1. Make the sofrito:  Preheat the oven to 500.  Combine the tomatoes, garlic, jalapenos, onion, bell pepper, vinegar, oil, oregano, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a roasting pan.  Cook for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
  2. While the vegetables are cooking, heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Toast the ancho and New Mexico chiles in the pan and toast on both sides until they blister (2-3 minutes)
  3. Place the chiles in a medium bowl and cover with 2 cups of warm water.  Soak 20 minutes, drain but reserve the soaking water.
  4. Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles and chop.  
  5. Place chiles, chipotle chiles, and roasted vegetables in a food processor and puree until smooth.
  6. Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy duty pot over medium-high heat.  Add the ground meat, cumin, chili powder,  and salt and cook until meat is browned.
  7. Add the sofrito, reserved chile water, and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer about 30 minutes.  
  8. Add the black eyed peas and cook for 10 more minutes.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Halloween Week, Day 3 - A Hip Hopping Party

Last year we didn't plan any Halloween costumes, because we didn't think we'd be going anywhere with a 4 week old baby.  But when we decided to go to a party last minute we were scrambling for a costume.  We had a great idea, but couldn't get the costume together on short notice.  We saved it for this year!

One of my favorite movies of all times is Labyrinth.  And having a little blonde baby seemed like fate was just begging for us to use it to our advantage.  So we did.

Thatboy dressed as Jareth, the Goblin King.  And Thatbaby was the perfect Toby.

 And I went as the long-suffering Sarah.

Thatbaby had a tremendous time at the party.  It might have been the best party he's ever been to, in his opinion.  Why?  Because they had a bounce house.

We wouldn't let him inside the bounce house, but he was so excited to bounce on the outside entrance over and over and over and over and over and over (anyone else have a one-track mind baby) and over and over.

And then he found the trampoline.

My kid loves to bounce.

And then we got to go inside and play with skateboards!

 Thatboy is beyond thrilled that his son has inherited his love of skating.  He's already taken him out skateboarding again.  I've convinced him that a skateboard before the age of 2 would be completely unnecessary.

This recipe isn't really a crockpot recipe, more like a continuation of last night's recipe.  Or what to do with chicken leftovers.  The beer basted chicken shreds so easily, it's a shame not to use it for other recipes.

Chicken Tostadas (Adapted from Bella Lately)

1/2 cup chopped peeled avocado
1/2 cup chopped seeded tomato
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
juice of one lime
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
4 tostadas
1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
1/2 cup sour cream
  1. Preheat broiler. Combine avocado, tomatoes, green onions, half of the lime juice, and salt in a small bowl.  
  2. Combine water, the rest of the lime juice, cumin, salt, cayenne pepper and black beans in a blender and puree until smooth.
  3. Spread 1/4 of the black bean mixture on each tostadas.  
  4. Top with 1/4 chicken of the chicken and a couple tablespoons of the cheese.  Broil 2-3 minutes until the cheese melts.