Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Racin': Black Bean Pie

Last year Thatboy and I left Thatbaby at home and headed to the races with friends.  This year we thought he was old enough to enjoy the festivities.  Especially because Superbaby went the weekend before and had a blast.  I'm no dummy, so I took some tips from Superwoman on how to make the day go well.  Like getting seats instead of just aimlessly roaming the way Thatboy and I usually do.

Thatbaby loved every minute of the races.  He loved watching the "ow-sies run-in" and spent much of the time yelling to them to "run dis way!"

When they played the 10 minute trumpet he got out of his seat and danced.  As the horses approached the finish he jumped on his chair as everyone around us stood and cheered.  He yelled "GO GO GO" with the crowd.

And of course, we had to include the sporting event staple - hot dogs!

Thatbaby was a huge fan of the hot dog.  They're not a regular staple in our household which is I think one of the reasons he went gaga for it.  Although he likes our household staples too.  Especially beans.  We do something with black beans probably once a week.  I'm trying to get creative because bean tacos, bean quesadillas, and bean burritos can get a little old.  This is a twist on those.  An open-faced bean quesadilla, or a bean pie.  My one word of caution - typically in the summer we have a lot of lighter beers hanging around - another household staple.  I love light, fruity beers in the summer.  But when I went to make this, I realized we were all out and I used one of Thatboy's hoppy barleywine beers.  And as it reduced it made my beans a little on the bitter side.  Thatbaby didn't seem to mind, but Thatboy and I didn't.  I recommend using a lighter beer for this - like Blue Moon's Agave Blonde, Hanger 24's Orange Wheat, or the more easily accessible Corona.

Black Bean Pie
4 tortillas
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chile powder
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 bottle of beer
1 cup shredded cheddar
  1. Preheat oven to 400.  Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, cumin, and chile powder and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add half the beans and the beer to the skillet.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.  Use the back of a fork to smash the beans.
  4. Add the remaining beans and cook for another 5 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated. 
  5. Place one of the tortillas in a pie pan and place 1/4 of the beans and 1/4 of the cheese on top.  Repeat with the remaining 3 tortillas, beans and cheese.  Bake for 25 minutes.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Hot Little Fish: Sriracha Shrimp

On Saturday morning, Thatboy woke up and went surfing.  While he surfed, I shopped.  We're heading  on vacation next month and I Thatbaby only owns one swim diaper and one bathing suit that fits him.  I like him to have two so that if one is wet, he has a dry backup to wear.

When Thatboy came home I let him know I'd ordered Thatbaby a couple more swim diapers and a new swimsuit.  "Perfect" said Thatboy.  "He probably needs an extra suit for the summer anyway.  Although, summer is almost over.  CRAP!  I wanted to enroll him in swim lessons again this summer."

A quick check on the Y's website revealed that the final summer session started THAT DAY!  It was 10am.  "Well, if you really want him to take swim lessons, then we should get in the car right now.  We can probably make it to the 10:30 lesson. "  So Thatboy slid back into his swim trunks while I wrestled Thatbaby into his.  Once we got there it was all about divided and conquer as Thatboy got Thatbaby changed into his swim diaper and I went to register him for the class.  Just in the nick of time.

Last year at 9 months, Thatbaby was the youngest in his class.  This year I think he's the oldest.

But I don't think he minds much.  He just loves being in the water.

Plus, as the oldest in the class, he's the only one who really follows directions like blowing bubbles in the water.  And he gets to help demonstrate things for the younger 'uns.

It's going to be a fun month for Thatbaby!

In honor of his time in the water, I present you with my favorite summer aquatic animal - the shrimp!  These are NOT kid friendly, but perfect for Thatboy and I.  Grilled shrimp are so summery.  They cook quickly and are nice and juicy.  Thatbaby had his shrimp tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper and then grilled.  Thatboy and I went a step spicier with a sriracha marinade. I can't handle all the heat Thatboy can (sriracha might be his favorite condiment) so I add lots of garlic and some sugar to round out the flavors.  Thatboy liked the sweet taste of the shrimp with the burn to follow.

Sriracha Shrimp
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined, but with tails still on.
1 Tbsp sriracha
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
  1. Combine all ingredients in a ziplock bag and marinate for 30 minutes.
  2. Grill shrimp 2 minutes per side, or until opaque.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Mommy Mondays: Going Places

You'll notice that we're pretty active on the weekends.  Exhaustingly active if you ask me.  But really, once you have a toddler, there's no real "hanging around the house" because that's no where near exciting enough for the little ones.

So I thought I'd compile a list of ideas - things to do with your little ones to get them out of the house.

*Festivals - I love taking advantage of these, and every town has them in some sense of the word.  There are usually street performers, music, and some have specially geared activities for little ones.  In our area I swear there's something every weekend.

*Summer activities - check and see if your area does anything special for the summers.  San Diego has free summer concerts and movies throughout the county in the summer.   And of course, there are always the fairs.

* Parks/Playgrounds - I know my tour of the San Diego parks makes blog news on a fairly regular basis. Parks themselves, even the kind without playgrounds are usually a great place to run around and blow off energy.  There are trails to hike, balls to kick, kites to fly, trains to ride.

* Botanical Gardens - Similar to parks, but with a little more structure.  Some have birds, most have flowers and cool looking plants.  I've been to two different ones that have model railroads, but many more that don't.

* Amusement Parks - This is a touchy one.  Because a lot of amusement parks are expensive.  But if it's in your budget, these are great places for kids.  I won't spend money to take Thatbaby to Disney, but discount coupons to Legoland or Sea World make them more easily accessible.  Try to find ones that are geared for younger kids.  Thatbaby loves Legoland, even though there are only 2 rides he can ride.  Sea World and Knotts Berry Farm both have sections for littler kids.

* Museums - We haven't taken Thatbaby to a Fine Art museum since he was 10 months old and non-mobile, but other museums where touching is encouraged are big hits here.  There are so many kid friendly museums.  History museums, science museums, art museums, music museums, and of course, the quintessential "Childrens Museums."

* Aquariums - Thatbaby loves aquariums.  I think it's due to the fact you can get really close to the fish.  Closer than at a zoo where most of the time the animals are fairly far removed from where you stand.

* Zoos - We took Thatbaby to the zoo for the first time when he was 2 weeks old.  And we've returned many times since.  And visited zoos in different cities.  He does love his animals.  And no matter what their age, zoos are oh so kid friendly.

* Pools/Splash Parks/Beach - This could just be that Thatbaby is a water-baby, but I don't think he's the only one.  Kids love water.  If you have a beach near you, beaches are fantastic because unlike a pool running is encouraged.  If you don't have a beach, a pool is fun for splashing in the sun.  If you don't have a pool, then sprinklers in the backyard serve much the same function.  And splash parks are really just public sprinklers.

* Classes - When we finished swim classes last year, Thatboy was anxious to enroll Thatbaby in something else because he had such a good time doing something as a family.  Some people like music classes, some do gymnastics classes, some enroll their kids in sports. It's never too early!  Thatboy and I had a long discussion earlier this year about soccer lessons for our little Pele, but decided to hold off another year.

* Playspaces - These are the perfect playground alternatives for rainy days or cold weather.  Or just another alternative of things to do.  Whether they're the fake play towns, or just indoor climbing gyms, they keep kids occupied.  Some of the ones near us also offer parent perks like attached coffee shops.  And they often have kiddie concerts.

*Sporting Events - We're holding off on baseball games for Thatbaby because I want Thatbrother to take him to his first game.  But from what I've heard, kids love these things.  We took Thatbaby to the races this weekend though, and he loved that.  Sitting in his seat, getting excited by the cheering throngs.  I would imagine any other sporting event would be similar.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Totally Trader Joes: Red Curry Noodles

Like many others, I am a huge fan of Trader Joes.  Open my freezer, my fridge, or my pantry and you're bound to find a plethora of products from my local store.  The prices are great and their selection of items is usually right on the mark.  I am always falling in love with one item or another, only to have it discontinued.  Like the chocolate tea they used to carry which disappeared from shelves years ago.

But that only means there's something new to take it's place.  Right now my current favorites that are filling my shelves are:

* Frozen fruit for the endless smoothies we make.
* Frozen pizza for quick meals for the guys on nights I have to work late.  I especially like the vegetarian pizza which has mushrooms, peppers, and olives
* Hold the Cone mini ice cream cones.  They are the perfect size for me!  Like mini drumsticks.
* lemon curd - Thatboy puts it on his pancakes, I like it with fresh berries.
* premade sandwiches and salads - I like the sandwiches for lunches every now and again- especiLly when Thatboy is out of town, or I need to eat in the car.  The premade salads I serve as a quick side dish lately. I love salads in the summer, don't you?
*hummus and mini pitas- my snack of choice right now. Thatbaby is another fan. Especially the jalapeƱo cilantro hummus.
*tea- My chocolate tea was discontinued, but I'm still a fan. I've been drinking the chamomile every night this week.  It's good for winding down before bed.

This dinner is almost a complete Trader Joes meal, utilizing some of our kitchen staples. Which also makes it really easy to put together. Frozen veggies, fresh rice noodles, and the infamous red curry sauce.
Red Curry Noodles
1 pkg fresh rice noodles
1 bag Trader Joes veggie stir fry
1 chicken breast, cooked and diced
1 Bottle Trader Joes red curry sauce

1. Cook noodles according to package directions.
2. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add frozen veggies to pan.  Cook for 5-10 minutes or until veggies are warmed through.
3. Add chicken, noodles, and red curry sauce to skillet and continue cooking until the sauce is warmed through.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Big Fishies: Chile Relleno

The Actress called me last month to express her condolences about TFIL's passing.  At that time we talked about getting together.  The Actress is 7 months pregnant, and I haven't seen her during her entire pregnancy!   She offered to make the trip down to us, but I know that at 7 months pregnant, a long time in the car wouldn't be all the comfortable for her.  We've wanted to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific for a long time, so I suggested that as a nice half-way meeting point.

Plus it was a great experience for The Actress and Armani to get a glimpse at what their future holds in store for them by spending a whole day with a toddler.

Thatbaby was ever so excited to see the fishies.  As soon as we got in, he ran and pressed his face up against the nearest tank to watch.  The Aquarium is a fantastic experience for children of all ages because it is "hand friendly."  Thatbaby got a kick out of being able to touch the exhibits - and so did The Actress and I!

It was especially exciting to be able to touch jellyfish!

And there was a plethora of giant crabs throughout the Aquarium.

When we found the seal tank, he didn't want to leave.  He asked for a snack and sat and just watched them play.  He similarly enjoyed the sea otters.  Guess he's a fan of sea mammals.

In addition to the water animals, the Aquarium has a lorikeet exhibit and Thatbaby was very impressed with the colorful birds who came close, flying right over our heads and landing on people beside us.

Thatbaby wasn't terribly fascinated with the other birds - the penguins.

Although he developed a mild obsession with their statute counterparts.  He gave the big one a hug.  (Did you know that Emperor Penguins can grow to 4 feet tall?  That's bigger than my little boy!)

The medium sized penguin got a head pet.

And the smallest penguin was his new best friend forever.  We couldn't get him to leave.  The little guy got pets, kisses, Thatbaby sat with him -

And then Thatbaby sat ON him.  (Y'all remember how much he loves to sit on animal figures, right?)

We headed over to the shark exhibit to give some sharks and rays a pet. 

Then we went to the BIG tanks to check out the non-pettable sharks and sea turtles.

By the end of the day, Thatbaby had really warmed up to Armani.  They became best buds at lunch, holding hands walking back to the Aquarium. And Thatbaby cuddled up close to him to watch the scuba diver.

The Actress was certainly worn out from the day - which makes sense because she was doing everything we were doing, WHILE growing a human being.  But she smiled through it all and didn't complain about chasing Thatbaby around.  I am so excited for her and Armani.  They are going to be amazing parents.

Thatbaby slept the whole way home.  Poor little guy was completely tuckered out by his fishy adventures.  He woke up hungry and cranky.  I had the perfect solution for that.  Thatbaby called this "cheese for dinner" but Thatboy and I called it Chile Relleno.  

Chile Relleno
4 poblano chiles
4 roma tomatoes
olive oil
salt and pepper

1 lb monterey jack
3 eggs
2 Tbsp flour, divided
1 cup canola oil
1/4 cup butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp chk broth

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.  Heat a grill pan over medium heat.  Char chiles and then place in a plastic bag for 10 minutes.  Cut them down the middle and remove the seeds.
  2. While the peppers are cooling, cook the tomatoes.  Cut an x on the top of each tomato and place in a baking dish.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Stuff the peppers with the cheese (using toothpicks to hold them together)
  4. Separate the eggs.  Beat the egg whites with an electric mixture until soft peaks form.  Beat in 1 Tbsp flour and egg yolks.
  5. Heat the canola oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Dip the peppers in the egg batter and fry until golden on both sides.
  6. In a separate pan, melt the butter.  Stir in the remaining flour and cook until bubbly and paste-like.
  7. Stir in the tomatoes, garlic, and chicken broth. Smash the tomatoes to create a sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes and then pour over the chile rellenos.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Beers and Babies: Lentil Curry

At the risk of sounding like an alcoholic, you don't realize how amazing alcohol is until you have a child.  And in a cruel twist of fate, having a child often hampers your ability to enjoy alcohol.

We're lucky to be friends with people who like both children and drinking.  Whether that means moms night out where we sip Sangria and commiserate, or people who don't mind us bringing Thatbaby to breweries.  Saturday night our friends fell into the latter category.

Workwife is always trying to get us to come over and hang out with their other friends.  All are parents with small children, a couple with kids just about Thatbaby's age.  But we've never made it over until this week.  We all met for Mr. Workwife's birthday at Stone Brewery.  The main location is in Escondido, and in the 9 years I've been in San Diego I've never made it to that location.  We've taken Thatbaby and met up with the Horse Whispers at the Oceanside location, which is just an outdoor tasting patio.  On Saturday we headed to the brewery's newest location in Point Loma.  It has a giant outdoor area which is great for both parents and children.  The three eldest children (Thatbaby and 2 others) enjoyed playing in the dirt, chasing each other, and playing with a toy truck, while the younger 2 were still at the mom and dad's lap stage.  We were able to watch our children, have some beer, and celebrate with the birthday boy in a great outdoor and relaxing setting.

Workwife and Mr. Workwife are going through a vegan portion of their life right now.  More for dietary reasons than anything else, it's still a pretty impressive and daunting task.  I've said before that I can handle vegetarianism, but I don't know what I'd do without cheese and dairy!  Which is not to say we don't eat our share of vegan meals.  We do.  There are plenty of meals in this house that include neither meat nor dairy - like this lentil curry.  Workwife and I were discussing the fact that many Asian dishes led themselves quite easily to vegan fare.  A curry filled with lentils and tomatoes is just as filling as a meat filled dish and probably healthier!

Lentil Curry
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 onion, diced
2 Tbsp curry paste
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp minced ginger
1 can tomato puree
2 cups cooked lentils

  1. Heat the canola oil over medium heat.  Add onions and cook until onions are tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Combine the curry paste, curry powder, tumeric, cumin, chili powder, salt, sugar, garlic, and ginger in a small bowl.  Add to the onions and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the tomato puree and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the lentils and cook for another 5 minutes.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Birthday Redo: Bean Burritos

When Thatboy got back from Nicaragua, he presented me with my birthday gift - a collection of Raymond Chandler novels and a request that I take off the first Friday I was done with trial so he could make up the birthday he had planned for me.

On Friday we both took the day off work, dropped Thatbaby off at daycare, and headed out to Temecula.

The first part of Thatboy's birthday plans was wine tasting.

We brought some fruit, some cheese, and a loaf of fresh French bread and made a morning of it.  We sat and sipped everything from champagne to zinfandel.

Before too long, we packed up the bottles we were bringing home and headed back to San Diego.  The second part of the Thatboy's plan involved us going to a movie at the fancy movie theater.  I chose RIPD because, well, Ryan Reynolds.  The movie didn't do too well this weekend, but really it was a great summer movie.  A light hearted action - it reminded me a lot of Men in Black.  And of course, it doesn't hurt that it stars my imaginary boyfriend.  So we sat in big comfy leather seats, ate popcorn, and enjoyed the movie.

The last part of my belated birthday day was meeting up with my family for dinner.  We did that without Thatboy on my actual birthday, but on this makeup day we had dinner out, the three of us.  We picked Thatbaby up from daycare so he could join us.

On my birthday (and this makeup day) I really wanted to try the new Mexican restaurant that had opened in our neighborhood.   I love Mexican food.  Which is why you see so much of it on my blog.  We eat Mexican in our house at least once a week - if not more.   I like the fact that it's pretty versatile and easy to make vegetarian for our little bean lover.   Like a bean burrito - or "bean taco" as it's called in my house.  Because everything made with a tortilla is a taco.  Burritos, quesadillas, even enchiladas are called tacos.

Bean Burrito
2 tsp canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chile powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup water
2 cans black beans, drained and rinced
1/4 cup salsa
6 tortillas
1 cup cheddar jack cheese
1 tomato, chopped
shredded lettuce
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic, chile powder, and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the beans and water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in salsa and mash.
  4. Divide the beans between the tortillas and top with cheese, tomatoes, and lettuce.  Roll and serve.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mommy Mondays: Favorites 12-18 months

Last year I tried to cram in Thatbaby's favorite things as the holidays were upon us.  This year I thought I'd get a bit of a jump on it.  So without further ado, Thatbaby's favorite toys from the time he was 1 until he was 1 1/2.

Rockabye Rocker.  We got the horsey, but there are loads of different models to meet your child's every whim.  Thatbaby loves this so - even now.  It plays 4 different songs, and although Thatbaby has only now discovered how to push them himself, he always loved us pushing them so he could rock and rock n roll.   He's turned himself over several times rocking so hard and has scared us with his daredevil tactics of standing on the horse's back.

Active toys are Thatbaby's favorite.  He is always climbing, running, and jumping.  I adore this little Trampoline because it folds up flat so it doesn't take up a lot of room.  Thatbaby loves to "bounce bounce" and it grows with him.  When he first got it, he held on to the rail and bent his knees up and down.  Now he's bouncing like mad up and down, feet flying into the air.

As I said, Thatbaby's favorite toys are active toys.  The Fisher Price Rock Roll & Ride Trike is another great one that grows with him.  It starts off as a rocker, but since we already had the rocking horse, there was no need for that and we went straight into trike mode.  With a little footrest and a high back, right now we push Thatbaby around on his "bike bike."  Eventually I'm looking forward to him peddling himself.

We have several sets of blocks and Thatbaby loves them all.  He's a big tower builder - and knocker downer.  I like these Mega Bloks because I can easily bring the bag with us places like vacation or my office.

Thatbaby is still very into Balls!

It should come as no surprise that Thatbaby loves his train set.  He has the Chuggington Interactive Railway Set which I highly recommend.  The trains interact with both the railway stops and each other.  Thatbaby loves to push the buttons and make them talk to each other, or push them past areas to make the train stops talk.  He especially likes it when the Roundhouse sings the Chuggington song, or says "On Your Tracks, Get Set, Go!"  I like the fact that we can give him one of the trains for holidays and special events.

Thatbaby is also still into cars and trucks.  Same cars as I've already posted and any other ones you can get your hands on.  He really likes ones that light up and make noise .  This B.Toys Firetruck gets run into the wall over and over again.  Lots of lights, lots of noise, lots of movement.