Friday, March 29, 2013

Passover Week: Turkey Meatloaf

Last night I headed out with the girls for a last hurrah before M goes about bringing her second son into the world.

We sat drinking and talking and celebrating, while our husbands and children were stuck at home without us.

The Horse Whisperer and I left our men prepared with dinner. Which was probably easier for her than me.  She left her husband and daughter breakfast for dinner - pancakes and bacon.  My meal had to be Passover friendly.  I opted for one of Thatboy's favorite meals - meatloaf.

Meatloaf is pretty Passover friendly to begin with.  The exception?  The breadcrumbs/oatmeal/whatever you use as a binder.  Luckily matzoh meal works perfectly for this.

The verdict?  A meatloaf that's Passover friendly and pleases even the littlest member of the family.  Rumor has it, my little guy had seconds.

Passover Turkey Meatloaf
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 lb ground turkey
1/4 cup matzoh meal
1 egg white
1/2 cup ketchup, divided
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
  1. Heat oven to 350. Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the onions and garlic with turkey, matzoh meal, egg white, 1/4 cup ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, pepper and salt.  Shape mixture into a loaf and place in a loaf pan.
  3. Spread remaining ketchup over the top and bake for 1 hour.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Passover Week: Chocolate Coconut Chews

One of the reasons I don't have to worry about adapting too many dishes for Passover week is that I actually end up not doing very much cooking.  The first two nights are always spent at other people's seders.

On Monday night we were at Repro and Nissan's in their annual tent-stravaganza.

And on Tuesday night we were at Thatmom's for the Family Festivities.

The seders are long and late, and Thatbaby was a bit of a disruption.  He began signaling that he was "all done" just about as soon as we sat down.

The thing that kept him in his seat?  His very first taste of juice!  The first night we let him have a sip, every time the grownups had a glass of wine.

The second night, I accidently gave him wine instead of juice.  Thatboy discovered my mistake fairly quickly, but not before Thatbaby got his first taste and began asking for "more?".

The matzoh ball soup was his favorite both nights.  In fact, he didn't make it past the soup course.  But he sure enjoyed it.  Unfortunately he has picked up the ugly habit from Thatboy's side of the family that includes picking up the bowl and drinking from it, with big ole slurps.

The first night is catered, so I don't bring food, but I always bring something to Thatmom's seder.  And this year I put myself in charge of dessert.  I actually love Passover desserts.  Because you don't need flour for a killer dessert.  In fact, my secret for Passover desserts is to make things that are already Passover-friendly, meaning they don't require me to change up the recipe or switch any ingredients out.  This is why I typically make my almond horns - delicious year round, but perfect for Passover.   These sweet chocolate treats are similarly great for any time of year, and need no modifications for the Passover table.  With only three "real" ingredients - coconut, condensed milk, and chocolate, there's nothing to not like!

Chocolate Coconut Chews
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups grated coconut
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 300.  Melt the chocolate in the condensed milk in a double boiler. 
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the coconut, vanilla, and salt.  Drop tablespoons of batter onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Passover Week: Chicken with Goat Cheese and Sundried Tomato Sauce

I'm not a fan of sundried tomatoes - too oily.  There are 2 exceptions. 
1) Actual "sun-dried" tomatoes, the kind not packed in oil, just the tomatoes themselves.
2) Anything Elly makes.

Somehow, Elly seems to integrate the tomatoes into dishes without having it be a big oily mess.  I'm not one hundred percent sure how she does it, but I do know that whenever I have some sundried tomatoes to use up, I have one source I turn to.

Just because it's Passover, doesn't mean you have to be stuck with flavorless dishes.  And just because I use this chicken for Passover, doesn't mean that there's anything keeping you from making it year round.  It's a great creamy chicken, and I feel much better about creamy dishes when they use goat cheese.  Like they're almost healthy.  And the tangy goat cheese adds such a great flavor to just about every meal you use it in, you're going to be seeing more of it here this week.

Chicken with Goat Cheese and Sundried Tomato Sauce (From Elly Says Opa)
2 chicken breast halves
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp sundried tomatoes, chopped and drained
2 ounces herbed goat cheese
salt and pepper
  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add oil.  Sprinkle chicken breast with salt and pepper.  Cook chicken breasts until done (5-6 minutes per side).
  2. Remove chicken from pan, and add wine and chicken broth.  Increase heat and reduce liquids by half, scraping up any browned bits from the chicken.
  3.  Add sundried tomatoes and cook until they are heated through.  
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the goat cheese.  Serve sauce over chicken.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Passover Week: Apricot Glazed Chicken

Happy Passover week everyone!  You know what that means, right?  A whole week where I don't post yummy recipes, but where I post yummy Passover recipes.  Recipes that don't contain flour, wheat, corn, any of their derivatives or any leavening agent. 

It's my time to be a little creative.

Or not.  In truth, aside from the intense cravings I only seem to get during Passover for things like doughnuts, I don't have to do a lot of playing around with our mealplan.

I tend to be terrible with sides anyway, so I tend to center on delicious main courses.  Beef, chicken - and the ever present potato, a Passover staple.

This is one of those "can't be easier" chicken dishes.   I didn't originally make it for Passover (we're at a seder tonight) but it works really well for the holiday.  The fewer the ingredients, the easier it makes it!  And this has just 4 ingredients.

Apricot Glazed Chicken
2 chicken breasts
1 cup apricot preserves
  1. Preheat oven to 325.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Bake for 25 minutes or until cooked through.
  2. While chicken is baking, place apricot preserves in a small saucepan.  Cook over low heat until the preserves are melted.
  3. Brush preserves over cooked chicken and serve.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mommy Mondays: New favorites

What do you really need for a baby?

Seems like a simple question, but the answer is always - how old is the baby?  Things change so much from month to month, and the things that are necessary for a 3 month old have been completely retired by 8 or 9 months.

So here are the things that have made life easier over the past few months (I'll do a WHOLE separate posts for toys a little later):


For the first 15ish months of Thatbaby's life we were a Halo Sleepsack Family.  Loved Halo Sleepsacks.  And in truth, I still love them, but right now we love Grobags even more.  The weight and the length are just perfect.  The regular weight is heavier than the cotton Halos, but not as heavy as the fleece.  And even though Thatboy is quickly outgrowing his 18 month clothing, the 18 month Grobag is still plenty long.  It zips from the bottom, which was important to me, but also the top - which might be preferable to others.

Munchkin bowls

A lot of our current favorites revolve around food, since that plays a much bigger part in Thatbaby's daily life than it did last year at this time.  I use these bowls for just about everything.  In the morning they hold yogurt for breakfast.  And if he gets a morning snack at daycare, they hold a pancake, a muffin, a sausage patty.  They're great for soup and applesauce, being leak proof and microwaveable.  And his dinner is almost always served in these, because it's so much easier to eat from a bowl than a plate.

Munchkin spoons

Thatbaby is pretty fantastic with a spoon.  He's even gotten to the point where he scrapes his face with it to get those stray yogurt splotches that inevitably end up all around his mouth.  He can (and does) use a regular spoon, but these are easy to throw in my bag or his daycare bag.  The thick handle makes them easy to hold, and the small bowl means I can make sure he doesn't stick too much in his mouth at once.

Gerber Forks

Thatbaby has stabbed himself in the face with a regular fork, so for now we stick with these.  Thatbaby loves eating with a fork.  He loves stabbing thing and eating just like mom and dad.  These forks seem to make it a bit safer for everyone.

Disposable placemats

We eat out a fair amount with Thatbaby.  He's generally pretty good at restaurants, as long as we don't tarry too long over our food.  Because when he's "all done" he wants to go.  When we eat at restaurants, we don't worry about bringing bowls or plates, we just throw down one of these placemats and he eats right off the table.  They stick to the table, so he can't pull it up and/or throw it.  I like it because it keeps the tables cleaner where we dine, and at the end of the meal, I can just peel it up and it contains whatever he didn't like, easy peasy - clean floor for all (or as clean as you can expect with a 1 year old)

Hanna Anderson

I love Hanna Anderson clothing.  I discovered the brand on a trip up to see Thatmom late last summer and picked up a pair of pajamas and a shirt.  The quality is fabulous - they've both held up so well.  And the company does a lifetime guarantee.  I haven't had to use it, but knowing that I could if things started unraveling gives me some added security in my purchases.  And of course, most importantly, the stuff is freaking cute as all get-out.

And things we still love:


Video Monitor

Space Saver High Chair 


Friday, March 22, 2013

A Wee Bit of Irish: Champagne Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Filling

St. Patrick's Day once again fell on Thatmom's birthday.  Like it does every year.  But this year, it happened to fall on a weekend, which is nice because it meant the whole family can spend the whole day together!

We met for a late breakfast at Pannikin - Thatmom's favorite.  Thatbaby loves sharing breakfast with Thatmom.  They like the same things - muffins and eggs.

And Thatmom wasn't the only one who got presents.  Thatmom brought Thatbaby a St. Patrick's day hat and Thatbrother and UDubb brought along St. Patrick's day sunglasses (or as Thatbaby calls them, "Oh Was")

After breakfast we went for a hike up in Torrey Pines.  It was a beautiful day and lots of people were out enjoying it.  I like when Thatbaby is able to spend time with Thatbrother and UDubb.  In general, he gets to spend time with Thatmom and Thatboy's side of the family, but only sees my brother and sister-in-law during meals.  And he's still a little shy around Thatbrother, who I'm sure will be his favorite uncle when he's just a bit older.

I can't remember the last time we were able to have corned beef and cabbage ON St. Patrick's Day, since we're usually out with Thatmom for dinner.  But since we celebrated earlier during the day, we were on our own for dinner and Thatboy could have his traditional St. Patrick's Day Feast.  We have officially converted from "corned beef and cabbage" to a "corned beef and colcannon" family.  It still has all the same elements - corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes, but in a much tastier form!

For Thatmom's birthday, we had cake.  Because it's not a birthday without cake.  I sent Thatmom a menu from our favorite bakery and had her pick one out.  She went with the "Strawberry cake" - white cake with strawberry filling and a buttercream frosting.  Which is funny, because I had made something similar for my coworkers earlier that week - Champagne cupcakes with strawberry cream filling and whipped cream frosting.  Both cake and cupcakes were beyond delicious.  I love our cake bakery, and everyone else was completely won over.  And my coworkers claimed these to be the best cupcakes they've ever had.

Champagne Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Filling
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt + 1/8 tsp
7 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 1/4 cups sugar + 2 Tbsp
5 Tbsp vegetable oil
2  tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup champagne
1 egg white
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup mashed strawberries
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 325.  Line two muffin  pans with cupcake liners.  Combine the flour, baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt in a small bowl.
  2. Beat the egg yolks and 1 1/4 cup sugar in an electric mixer until thick and light in color.  
  3. Add in canola oil and 1 tsp vanilla extract.  Mix until well-combined.
  4. Add in the dry ingredients, alternating with the champagne (beginning and ending with the dry ingredients)
  5. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until foamy.
  6. Add 2 Tbsp sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. 
  7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter until combined, then fold in the rest of the egg whites.
  8. Fill the muffin pans 2/3 full with the batter and bake for 15 minutes, or until cooked through.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes, before turning out to cool completely.
  9. While cupcakes are cooling, beat the remaining egg whites until foamy.
  10. Add the salt and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
  11. Beat 1 cup of the heavy cream until it forms soft peaks.
  12. Add 1/3 cup powdered sugar and 1 tsp vanilla and beat until combined. Fold the egg white mixture and cream mixture together.
  13. Stir in strawberries.
  14. When cupcakes are cooled, cut a cone out of the top of each.  Use a pastry bag to fill each cupcake with the strawberry cream and then place the cone back on top.
  15. Make the frosting: Beat the remaining heavy cream until soft peaks form.
  16. Melt the white chocolate chips and beat into the heavy cream, continuing to beat until stiff peaks form.
  17. Beat in the remaining powdered sugar, using as much as necessary to achieve the desired consistency.  Frost your cupcakes!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Beer and Babies: Layered Chicken Parmesean

Happy Belated St. Patrick's Day!  We celebrated all weekend thanks to friends and family.  We started on Saturday with a trip up to see The Ks. 

Their country club holds an annual craft beer dinner on St. Patrick's Day weekend, and this year they invited us to join them.  The mere mention of "beer" and "dinner" had Thatboy instantly agreeing.

And I was excited to get the little ones together.  At first, Thatbaby wasn't too impressed with Little K.  Especially because Little K was VERY interested in Thatbaby.  Thatbaby thought it was a little weird the kid beside him kept trying to touch him, and even more nervous that perhaps Little K had ulterior motives that involved stealing Thatbaby's nectarine.

But by the end they were fast friends.  So much so that Thatbaby offered Little K some chocolate brownie.  Sharing food?  Is this my son?

The grownups enjoyed beers by Cismontane paired with course after course of delicious food.   We started with "The Mesa" which was the favorite amid our group.  It's a It is a blend of riesling and pilsner and was served alongside some appetizer snacks - cheese, fruit, and sausages which were cooked in the beer.

Next came Thai Shrimp Skewers and Thai Chicken Wings.  These were paired with the Holy Jim Falls, which was the least favorite of our group.  The extra pale ale was too hoppy for me, and Thatboy didn't like the flavor of the hops.

Dinner was short ribs which fell apart at a touch, coconut rice, a soba noodle dish, mashed potatoes and spinach.  This was paired with Coulter I.P.A.  Although I don't normally like IPAs, especially hoppy ones, I preferred this to the Holy Jim Falls.

For dessert we had a fudge brownie with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.  Even this dessert was paired with a beer!  The Oso - a porter which is aged in whiskey barrels.  The whiskey taste really comes through and we all loved it.

The dinner was a success, and Thatbaby was sound asleep almost before we pulled out of the parking lot.  We've done wine pairings with dinner before, but this was our first experience with beer pairing and it was a super fun one.  Well, I'm sure the fabulous company of the Ks didn't hurt at all.  We love spending time with them.  And Little K is beyond adorable, and so much more "kid" than the last time we saw him.  It's amazing how quickly they grow.

I wanted to post a recipe using beer as an ingredient, but I actually haven't made anything with beer lately - I guess we've been too busy drinking it!  Instead, this is just another easy weeknight meal.  Or weekend meal to share with friends!

Layered Chicken Parmsean
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
2 cups marinara
2 Tbsp of ricotta
2 Tbsp of Parmesean
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Slice chicken breasts in half and pound flat.
  2. Combine breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper in shallow bowl.  Dip chicken breast halves in egg and breadcrumbs.
  3. Bake for 25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
  4. Place enough tomato sauce to cover the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish. Place 2 of the chicken breast halves in the pan.
  5. Top each chicken breast half with a tablespoon of ricotta, and then some more sauce.
  6. Top with the remaining chicken breast halves, some more sauce, and the Parmesean.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is browned.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Mommy Mondays: Workin' Out

For me, it's really important to work physical activity into my daily life.  For a bunch of reasons.  There's the underlying health/weight issue and the more important stress relief aspect.  Being active makes me a more relaxed person.

And having a kid makes it even more necessary that I get in a run or a trip the gym.  And it also makes it much harder to do!

For some, the difficulty starts during pregnancy.  Fatigue, nausea, body aches are all typical hallmarks of pregnancy.  Luckily for me, I didn't have any of those.  Which meant that keeping moving during my pregnancy was really easy. For a while I thought that keeping up with my running was what kept me from feeling fatigue and nausea, but Mrs. Pirate ran during her pregnancy and she still had they typical symptoms.

I do think that keeping up with exercise made labor a bit easier, and my recovery a snap, since most of my running friends had similar short push-times and were back on their feet pretty soon after.

So how do you make it work?  It's going to be different for everyone, but for me, this was my schedule:

During Pregnancy:  
During first trimester I ran a half marathon and started training for a second.  I was running 5 miles, 3 times a week and 7-8 miles during the weekend.  When the half marathon sold out before I could sign up, I decided to give my body a bit of a break by shortening my runs, and just doing them more often.  I cut down to 3 miles, 5 days a week and a 4-5 miler on the weekend.  But I was getting slower and it was taking me longer and longer to run those 3 miles.   By third trimester I was running 2 miles a day during the week and 3-4 miles on the weekend. In the evenings/afternoons I'd hit the gym and/or do a 10-minute pilates video.  At the very beginning of the third trimester I ran a 5k.  Looking back, I miss having free time to do long runs!

 The first 6 months: 
I took 4 days off after having Thatbaby, and then Thatboy and I started our 3 mile daily afternoon walks. I felt fine, and wasn't pushing it, but I needed out of the house!  So did Thatboy.  After 3 weeks, I started running again, slowly, keeping it to the 2 miles I was doing before I gave birth.  And it felt wonderful.  I hated running such short distances, right as I'd get into my groove, I'd be done.

At 6 weeks, I got the okay from my doctor to return to my normal routine.  I started training for another half marathon.  I had to move my morning runs to the evening, and from outside to the treadmill, because there was just no telling how often Thatbaby would be up at night and it was too dark when Thatboy got home from work to run outside.  I still got to do my long runs outside on the weekend though.    Even after the half marathon, I was able to keep up with my gym time after Thatbaby went to bed.  And during Thatbaby's naps I would do workout videos, so I got some strength training in too.

6 months - present:

We introduced solids at 6 months.  Part of BLW which I think is such an important part, is the social aspect of eating.  Which means we do all meals together.  No feeding the baby and eating after he goes to bed.  In truth, I really think this is partially responsible for his good eating habits - in both what he eats, how much he eats, and how he behaves at the table.  Because he can mirror us and feels like he's part of something.  The downside to this is that he goes to bed later than before he started eating dinner with us.  And I don't have much time after he goes to bed to do much of anything.  Especially when it gets dark relatively early.  So now I really have to work to get in my daily fitness.  I haven't been to the gym in ages - and I hate that.  I have to convince myself that I'm getting lots of strength training carrying around a baby.  Although I'm sure my left arm is stronger than my right!  I keep talking about dropping Thatbaby off at daycare early and heading to the gym, but he doesn't really wake early enough for that and I'm not about to sacrifice his sleep!    My schedule for running is "fit it in where you can."  Which means most of the time I get up at 6 and head out before Thatbaby wakes.  Since daylight savings time, it's been dark in the morning, which I don't love.  So a couple of days a week I make dinner the night before, we eat early, and I get in a little run before I tuck Thatbaby in to bed.  I actually like that better for a couple of reasons.  The first is it's not dark yet.  The second is I can fit in a longer run.  In the morning, in order to get ready and multitask, I run with Thatdog, and he's been slowing me down as of late with his potty breaks and sniffing.  And I still try to get in long runs on the weekend!  Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Fancy for a Weeknight: Weeknight Baked Mushroom Risotto

Risotto is usually a weekend meal here.  It's not especially hard, but it is a little time consuming.   I don't do the constant stirring, but even without that, there's the constant adding liquid and waiting for it to be absorbed.

Which is a shame, because risotto is pretty popular here.  Even with the youngest member of our family.  And I can't really blame him since risotto is so creamy and delicious. 

Kim posted this "weeknight risotto" and I instantly put it on our menu-plan.  I feel like it fits in really well with the "dump things in a bowl and cook it" stage of my life I seem to be going through right now.  I mean, if it works for macaroni and cheese....

The result? When I pulled it out of the oven, it was a little watery, but the risotto was obviously cooked.  I figured I'd have to serve it with a slotted spoon, which I did for Thatbaby's portion which needed to cool a bit.   By the time I had got back from putting his on the table to cool, the rest of the liquid had been absorbed!  So give it a minute or so after taking it out of the oven before serving.

This risotto was missing a little oomph, but it's a great technique and I can see using it with other risottos.  A lot.  Because Thatbaby adored this.  I cut the recipe in half for the three of us.  Thatbaby ate his portion and then asked for more.  Which we didn't have.  So I ended up giving him half of mine.  And he asked for more after that!  Next time, I'll make the full recipe.

Weeknight Baked Mushroom Risotto (From Kimberly Michelle)
3 tsp butter, divided
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
6 oz field mushrooms, sliced
6 oz Swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
6 oz button mushrooms, quartered
1 ½ cup arborio rice
4 ½ cups chicken stock
1 cup finely grated parmesan
sea salt and cracked black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Melt  2 tspbutter and olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.
  2. Add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are golden, about 5 minutes.
  3. Place the rice, chicken stock and mushrooms in a baking dish and stir to combine. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes or until most of the stock is absorbed and the rice is al dente.
  4. Add the parmesan, remaining butter, salt and pepper and stir until the butter is melted.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Playground Tour goes on tour: Kale, Pinto and Mushroom Tacos

I promise, this is the last playground I'll write about, at least for this week!  Maybe I should have just called this "playground week."  Anyway, I think it has been one thousand years since L&O got the kids together.  Sickness and life always gets in the way of a good time.  And L&O had this silly "half marathon" she was training for and then had to run. 

She sent me a message earlier this week asking if we were free this weekend for a little boy time.  And then suggested a new playground that "is so cool i want to play on it." 

It was a little farther afield than we typically travel for a playground, but we would go to the ends of the earth to hang out with L&O and Little LO.

It took Little LO some time to warm up to Thatbaby.  I think they finally bonded over swings and balls.  You know, typical boy things.

Of course, right as they remembered what good friends they were, it was time to pack up and leave.  Naptime is a cruel mistress.

Kale however is a sweet sweet mistress.  We do a lot of kale here, and I'm always looking for recipes to switch it up.  Thatbaby loves bean tacos, so I had marked this recipe when Cate first posted it.  Thatbaby was a big fan, even eating the kale!  Guess we're over the green leafy vegetable boycott.  Thatboy however felt this tasted too "vegetarian."  I think it was the earthiness from the mushrooms.

Kale, Pinto, and Mushroom Tacos with Guajillo Salsa (From Cate's World Kitchen)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, minced
2 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
3 cloves garlic, divided and minced
1 bunch kale, chopped
1/2 lb button mushrooms, sliced
8 guajillo chiles, seeded and stemmed
1 3/4 cup hot water
3 tbsp lime juice
salt to taste
corn tortillas
  1. Heat1 Tbsp  oil in a dutch oven and add the onion. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. 
  2. Add the beans and heat through.  Salt to taste.
  3. Cook the chiles in a dry skillet for 20 seconds each side. Place chiles with hot water in a blender. Let stand for 20 minutes so the chiles can soften. 
  4. Add 1 clove garlic and blend until smooth. 
  5. Add the lime juice and salt and adjust to taste.
  6. Heat remaining oil in the skillet and add the sliced mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Set aside.
  7. In the same pan, cook the remaining garlic until fragrant, 30 seconds. 
  8. Add the chopped kale and cook until soft, 5 minutes.
  9. Combine the beans, kale, and mushrooms in a large bowl.
  10. Assemble tacos with a scoop of beans and vegetables, and top with some of the salsa.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

More playgrounds, More Beach, More Cake: Sponge Cake with Italian Meringue

So I feel like it was just yesterday I was telling you about how I have vast experience with the San Diego playgrounds.  Because it was.

And last week I told you about how we spend every weekend at a playground or two. 

Seriously, welcome to the Tour of San Diego, as seen through the eyes of a toddler.

Saturday we headed out once again to a playground on the beach.

I have to say, I'm a little jealous.  When I grew up, we played on a swamp with alligators across the water.  Thatbaby gets to look at the ocean as he climbs and plays.  (This sounds like a really new-fangled version of "walking to school uphill, both ways.")

Lately, Thatbaby hasn't been too into slides.  But there was plenty of other things to keep him interested.

 Like those swings which he is all about.  Thatbaby has started saying "no" with a purpose this week.  It's not short and choppy, but kind of a long, drawn out whine.  "Nooooooooo"   Thatboy got to hear it every time he suggested they stop swinging and move on to something else.

But eventually Thatbaby was able to move along, when he found a group of kids he really wanted to play with.  First there was chasing them around the sandpit.  Then one of them busted out a bunch of sidewalk chalk.  And my not-so-brilliant child started the movement from the cement, onto the sand, where sidewalk chalk does not work so well.

 After we were done at the playground, we loaded Thatbaby into his stroller and headed for a walk on the beach.  A 5 mile walk along the beach.  Thatbaby didn't stay asleep for all of it.  But he did for the first half.  Which was nice for Thatboy and I.  Although I think we both might have benefited from a nap instead!

For some reason, I like to pair my playground posts with cake posts.  This is very strange, because Thatbaby doesn't even get to participate in the eating of it.  But we do!  I've been making sponge cakes for a while now, and realized I've never posted my recipe here.  I like sponge cakes because they're pretty easy to make - it's really a combination of beaten egg whites and beaten egg yolks.  And there's no butter or oil or anything like that.  The meringue frosting is unbelievably light and fluffy, which is nice with a light cake.  Very springy.

 Sponge Cake with Italian Meringue Frosting
5 eggs, separated
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt, plus a pinch
1 cup cake flour
3 egg whites
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 325.  Line two 8-inch round pans with wax paper.  Beat the egg yolks with the lemon juice until pale and thick.
  2. Slowly add 3/4 cup of sugar and beat thoroughly. 
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. 
  4. Add 1/4 tsp salt and continue beating until soft peaks form.
  5. Slowly add 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
  6. Stir a fourth of the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.
  7. Spoon the remaining whites over the yolk mixture.
  8. Sprinkle the flour on top.  Fold until blended.  Spoon into the pans and bake for 25 minutes. Invert the pans and let cool completely.
  9.  While cake is cooling, make the frosting. Combine the egg whites and a pinch of salt in a bowl and beat until the whites are stiff.
  10. Combine 1 cup sugar with 1/2 cup water in a pan and bring to a boil.  Cover for 3 minutes.  Remove the lid and continue boiling until mixture reaches 230.
  11. Pour the syrup over the beaten whites, beating the entire time.  Continue to beat until the meringue has cooled to room temperature.
  12. Beat in the vanilla.  Frost the cooled cake.