Friday, July 31, 2015

A Homemade Life: Italian Grotto Eggs

To keep up with our fruit picking week, Thatkid and I headed out for more.  This time we went green.  Watermelons!

When I went looking for strawberry fields I found Kenny's Strawberry Farms.  Which sounded very promising.  The only problem was that Kenny's strawberry season ended July 4, which is when their watermelon season began!  Watermelon?  I've never heard of watermelon picking, but at the rate we consume watermelon it sure sounded like a good idea!

Like the strawberry fields, watermelon picking involves rows which you wander down to pick your fruit.  It reminded me a lot of going to a pumpkin patch.  And so I invoked the same rule.  We can only bring home what you can carry. 

Thatkid picked watermelon after watermelon.  "Woah there, how many watermelons are we taking home?"  I asked him.  
"As many as I want" was his response.
I drew the line at 2, one for each of us.

Thatkid and I have been enjoying his part time preschooling this summer, with all sorts of activities like this.  However, it is so difficult to get him ready in the mornings.  We have a rule that in order to do anything he'd like to do (like watch television or play with his toys) he has to have breakfast, brush his teeth, and get dressed first.  Which means once he's up I need to be up and ready to get him ready.  His choice of breakfast is interesting.  On the weekends, when Thatboy is in charge, he always wants cold cereal.  On the weekdays, with me, it's usually something more elaborate - like oatmeal, or peanut butter toast, or "white eggs." 

We're weird about eggs in this house.  Thatkid only likes egg whites.  I like my eggs dry and brown.  You really can't take us anywhere.  These eggs didn't go over well for either of us.  Of course, I made the mistake of putting pepper on Thatkid's eggs, which means even if he was willing to taste them, I had already ruined them.  As for me, they were a little too soft and runny - it's a consistency thing.  But I know that most other people would love them, since Thatkid and I are, like I said weird about eggs.  Soft, fluffy, and creamy, these eggs are exactly how most people seem to prefer them.  And I do love cheese with my eggs.

Italian Grotto Eggs (From A Homemade Life)
1 Tbsp butter
5 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp heavy cream
3 Tbsp goat cheese

  1. Melt the butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Crack the eggs into a small bowl, and beat them lightly with a fork.
  2. Add the salt and cream and beat to blend.
  3. Pour the eggs into the hot pan and swirl.  Reduce the heat to low and stir gently until they are loosely set in large, pillowy curds.  
  4. Remove from heat and scatter cheese over the eggs. Give them one more gentle stir to melt and distribute the cheese.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Homemade Life: Jimmy's Pink Cookies

I've been lucky in that I get to spend a ton of time with my friends this summer.  Because of summer birthdays, and holidays, I feel like I see someone every week.  And since M is a stay at home mom, Mrs. Pirate and L&O are off for the summer, and HorseWhisper had some time between graduation and starting work, we've been commiserating about being home with the kids and keeping them entertained.

So we've been trying to meet up to let the kids burn off their energies together.  Mrs.Pirate and I took the boys strawberry picking.  In reality, this was more an excursion for me than Thatkid, who is a little meh about strawberries.  They are his least favorite of the berries, falling behind blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries.  But I love fruit picking, I love strawberries, and Carlsbad has some of the best.  Besides, getting him outside is a must for days when we're home.  He cannot be kept cooped up inside all day.

We got a bucket for each boy, told them what to look for in terms of strawberries (red, not mushy) and turned them loose in the fields.

Little Pirate loves strawberries.  He's a strawberry fiend.  And it didn't take too long before Monkey See wanted to be Monkey Do.

The two of them stopped picking and just ate.  Mrs. Pirate and I took up the picking, and the boys were eating them almost as fast as we could get them in the bucket.  Nevertheless, we managed to walk away with a respectable haul.

Mrs. Pirate texted me to let me know they used their strawberries to make popsicles.  We didn't have any left for "making" things, since Thatkid started requesting strawberries at every meal, and snack.  "I only want strawberries for lunch."  Then of course Thatboy got a hold of the bucket, popping them in his mouth like candy.  Sweet summer candy.

So instead of sharing a great strawberry recipe with you (that is more complicated than "take off the green part and put in mouth) we'll just go with something pink.  Pink cookies.  Jimmy's pink cookies.

These cookies definitely live up to their reputation.  They were fantastic.  And we shared them with friends who enjoyed them as much as we did (the recipe makes a ton).  Thatboy and I share a love for cream cheese frosting, especially the sugary kind found at Sprinkle's Cupcakes.  This isn't quite as sweet - which is probably a good thing in terms of mass appeal.  The color and flavor comes from food coloring and kirsch, but I would put money on the fact that using strawberries instead would give a similar pink tinge and a delicious flavor.

This is also the first cookie I've made that used powdered sugar in the cookie itself.  I think this helps lead to the flakey softness of the cookie, but I'll have to try using it in a couple other recipes - just to be sure.  Oh the hardships I put myself through.

Jimmy's Pink Cookies (From A Homemade Life)
3 sticks + 6 Tbsp butter,room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar, divided
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
8oz cream cheese, at room temp
1 1/4 tsp kirsch
red food coloring

  1. Combine 3 sticks of butter and 1 cup powdered sugar in a stand mixture and beat at low speed, increasing to medium speed until light and fluffy.
  2. Combine flour and salt in a medium in a separate bowl.
  3. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to butter mixture, beating until the flour is absorbed. 
  4. Add the vanilla and beat well.  Turn the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and pre into a thick disc, wrapping well. Refrigerate 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 375.  Line 2 baking skeets with silicone liners.  Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick on a floured surface.  Using a cookie cutter, cut the dough into whatever shapes you'd like.
  6. Place cookies on prepared baking sheet, baking one sheet at a time for 16 to 20 minutes.  Transfer pan to cooling rack and let cool completely. 
  7. Combine the remaining butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth.
  8. Add the remaining powdered sugar and beat on low speed to fully incorporate, then increase speed to medium and beat until their are no lumps. 
  9. Add the kirsch and a couple drops of red food coloring and beat well. 
  10. Spread onto fully cooled cookies.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Crave Wednesday: The BBQ Yardbird

There's almost nothing easier than barbecue chicken pizza.  And it's even easier when you make it with prepared...everything.  It's a total cheater pizza.  Which is perfect for our Monday nights.  Monday nights are more of my scramble nights because I've got both boys to entertain while I make dinner.  Friday nights I also have both boys, but if dinner is a little bit late, well it is Friday night.

So on Monday nights, having something like this in my back pocket is a boon.  Pizza, which everyone likes, topped with ready-made chicken, cheese, and bottle of barbecue sauce.  Thatkid even eats the red onion ("purple onion mom")!

The BBQ Yardbird (From Cooking Light)
1 lb refrigerated pizza dough
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1/2 cup sliced roasted chicken breast
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sliced red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

    1. Preheat oven to 425. Roll dough into 14 inch circle.  Spread BBQ sauce evenly over dough, leaving 1/2 inch crust.
    2. Top with chicken, cheese, and red onion.  Bake for 15 minutes.
    3. Sprinkle with cilantro, cut into 8 wedges and serve.

    Monday, July 27, 2015

    Mommy Mondays: 6 Weeks

    Getting Bigger
    I can't help but compare the boys.  I know this is going to get me in trouble, but it amazes me how different they were/are as babies.  And a lot of this is related to size.  At 6 weeks, Thatkid was still going to the doctor's for a growth check.  Thatbaby got the ok at his 3 week appointment, so I actually have no idea how much he weighs now.  Thatbaby was almost a full pound (14oz) heavier that Thatkid, and 1.5 inches longer at birth.  So it's no surprise that Thatbaby outgrew his newborn clothes before Thatkid did.  For the most part.  I make stringbean babies, so the problem is that due to his length, he's too long for newborn clothes (but really a little too skinny for 0-3 months).  He's been in size 1 diapers as soon as we ran out of his first package of newborn sized. 

    Speaking of diapers, I made the rookie mom mistake of not checking my bag to make sure there were diapers and wipes when I went to pick Thatkid up from preschool.  So of course there was a poop on the way there.  Using my quick thinking skills I figured one of the backup pullups in Thatkid's cubby would do to keep the carseat dry until we could get home to diapers.

    Meet the Family
    Because his Bris occurred on a Tuesday afternoon, Thatbaby still hadn't met most of the family until this past weekend.  Thanks to Baby B's first birthday he got to meet most of his cousins!  At this point he's met almost all our friends and family, with the exception of the families of Thatkid's preschool friends.  Thatboy and I were discussing getting them together sometime soon for a little "Meet the Baby." 

    With the exception of Saturday night, when Thatbaby went back to his every 3 hour routine, he's been doing amazing with sleep.  He usually goes to bed around 7pm and wakes up around 1 or 2am.  Then again around 4:30/5am.  He tends to be up for the day around 7am.

    While Thatkid couldn't be put down drowsy but awake, Thatbaby is fantastic at it.  After I feed him at night, I can put him right in his crib and he'll fall asleep.  

    During the day he's been napping on me, either on the couch, or in the carrier, but trying to take advantage of his ability to fall asleep on his own, I've been trying to put him in the crib this week.  I am very successful for his first morning nap.  Except it only lasts for 45 minutes.  The rest of the day I can't seem to put him down without him waking up, smiling, and ready to go.  But I'll keep working on it.

    My Checkup
    I had my checkup this week and almost passed completely.  I still have a weak bladder, so I've got 2 more weeks of strengthening that before I can do jumping jacks or the like.  Which means that this week I've been really focusing on squats and core strengthening.  I'd love to start back running again, but I need to figure out a time to do so.  With Thatkid, I could head to the gym after Thatboy got home from work, but now I have to take care of Thatkid during that time.  And weekend mornings aren't as easy for me to leave the house, since I can't guarantee when Thatbaby is going to wake and need to eat.  I'm hoping things get more regular soon. 

    Our Nighttime RoutineThatboy h been back at work for weeks now.  And the first week back, it was hard.  I kept asking to implement a routine and he really wanted to put that off.  But now we're back in the swing of things.  When Thatboy gets home from work, he takes Thatbaby, gives him a bath and bottle, and puts him to bed.  Meanwhile I'm starting dinner with Thatkid.  Thatboy comes out and joins us for dinner.  I give Thatkid a bath, and we all do storytime together.  That gives Thatboy and I an hour to relax (and me to pump to make up for that bottle Thatboy used) before I head off to bed at 9pm.

    Thatbaby went on his first train ride this week!  He also got to visit his new friend, Little Little LO.  And take a trip up to his Aunt and Uncle's house for his cousin's first birthday.  Thatbaby still HATES the car, however he fell asleep in the car several times this week, which is a HUGE deal for me!  Although once he wakes, he's completely an inconsolable mess.

    Weight (me): +11
    Weight (Muppet): +1lb (at 3 weeks)
    *REAL smiles!
    *Naps in crib! (kind of)

    Friday, July 24, 2015

    A Homemade Life: Roasted Eggplant Ratatouille

    Back when I was pregnant forever, and having contractions that went nowhere, I tried the various stereotypical "ways to induce yourself" in the hopes of getting the contractions to continue and getting Thatbaby to make his way into the world.  This is despite the fact that none of these induction techniques worked when I was pregnant with Thatkid.

    I walked, I ran, I ate pineapple, I ate spicy food.  I bounced on a ball for weeks.  Knowing the eggplant is often touted as being the "last meal" before people went into labor, I even made Wizenburg's Roasted Eggplant Ratatouille.  And dumped crushed red pepper on my serving.  The ratatouille did not send me into labor, but it definitely impressed.  This was my favorite ratatouille I've ever had.  In part, it was the ease of the recipe.  This was the easiest recipe I've encountered for ratatouille, with just adding various veggies.  And the eggplant wasn't overpowering, as it often can be with ratatouille.

    The other labor trick I tried was a pedicure.  I had a 2:30 hearing, and since we all thought I'd be done with work weeks earlier than I was, there was little to do in the office and my boss told me I should just head home after the hearing.  At that time, Thatkid would have still been napping at preschool, so I killed some time by getting a pedicure.  When I picked him up from school he was so upset I had gone without him.  I promised I would take him on a special pedicure date after the baby came. 

    While I have often painted his nails at home, this was the first time he had them professionally done.  He loved every aspect of the experience.  It took him a while to pick out his colors, but he finally settled on glittery orange and glittery purple.

    He's so little, he could only dip his toes in the water, but he was so entertained by the fact that the lights kept changing colors.

    He was pretty good about sitting still, only splashing a little when his foot got tickled by the pumice stone, which he loved.

    And then he sat ever so nicely waiting for his nails to dry.  I love the juxtaposition between his glitter nail polish and his super hero flip flops.  That's pretty much my son to a T.

    Roasted Eggplant Ratatouille (From A Homemade Life)
    1 lb eggplant, sliced crosswise into 1-inch-thick rounds
    olive oil
    1 lb zucchini, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and sliced into 1/2 inch thick half-moons
    1 onion, thinly sliced
    1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
    4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
    5 roma tomatoes, seede and chopped
    3/4 tsp salt
    3 sprigs fresh thymes
    1 bay leaf
    1/4 cup finely chopped basil

    1. Preheat oven to 400.  Arrange the eggplant rounds in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
    2. Pour 2 Tbsp olive oil in a small bowl and brush onto eggplant.Flip the slices and brush the second side as well.  Bake for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. Remove from the oven and cool. Chop into rough 1 inch pieces. 
    3. Warm 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium high heat in a Dutch oven.  Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally 10-12 minutes.  REmove it from the pan, taking care to leave behind any excess oil, and set it aside.
    4. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes.
    5. Add the bell pepper and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally about 6 minutes.
    6. Add the tomatoes, salt, thyme, and bay leaf and stir to combine.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
    7. Add the eggplant and zucchini, stir to incorporate, and cook until everything is very tender, 15-20 minutes more.
    8. Discard the bay leaf and stir in the basil.

    Thursday, July 23, 2015

    A Homemade Life: Dutch Baby Pancakes with Lemon and Sugar


    I've already written about my love for the New Children's Museum, so when I heard there was another children's museum in San Diego I knew we had to check it out.  The Children's Discovery Museum is similar to the New Children's Museum in that it is all about hands on experiences for young kids.  Thatkid was the perfect age to enjoy it.  And boy did he enjoy it.

    The inside is divided into various areas, "Experiment" houses Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math exhibits, like the magnetic ball wall, magnatiles, and a wind tunnel.

    "Imagine" is home to the play stage, puppet theater, costumes, and instruments.

    "Explore" is where you'll find the Global Village, the Pirate Ship, and the Toddler Tide Pool.

    Outside is "Discovery" with a garden, chickens, a water table, bubble station, hula hoops, foam blocks, and a dinosaur excavation site.

    Thatkid really got into the foam blocks, using the round ones to create a track for ball rolling.

    And although Thatkid is a little young to understand the concept of a watershed, he did like playing with legos in the water.

    Inside, Thatkid tried to combine the various areas, playing dress up with the costumes and wearing various costumes throughout the museum. 

    The pirate ship is a big draw to the museum.  You can even go underneath the deck where a table is set up, like on a real ship.

    Thatkid found himself a pirate hat and made himself right at home.  We sailed to Legoland and Disneyland.

    I loved the fact that the deck came complete with brooms, so the kids could actually swab the deck.

    We spent all morning at the museum and Thatkid was really reluctant to leave.  But lunch and nap awaited us, even if I did push them back to give him more time.  I only managed to cajole him out with the promise that we would return, and bring Thatboy, who doesn't get to join us on our week day adventures. 

    We're so busy during the week, that our weekends often find us sitting around the house anyway.  (Which I love).  Lazy mornings at home are generally a thing of the past, but every now and then we manage to all eat breakfast together.  On mornings like that, something special is called for.  Thatboy first introduced me to Dutch Baby Pancakes at The Original Pancake House.  Before he discovered the 49ers, which is his choice now, he always ordered them.  And they were always enough to feed a small army.  I was pretty excited to see a recipe for them in A Homemade Life, and even more excited that the recipe looked incredibly easy.  And it was.  And we all got to sit down with a big "slice" of the pancake, warm and sweet.

    Dutch Baby Pancakes with Lemon and Sugar (From A Homemade Life)
    2 Tbsp butter
    4 eggs
    1/2 cup flour
    1/2 cup half-and-half
    1/4 tsp salt
    1. Preheat the oven to 425.  Put the butter in an 8-inch cast iron skillet and place over low heat. As the butter melts, use a pastry brush to coax it up the sides of the skillet.
    2. Meanwhile, in a blender, mix together the eggs, flour, half and half and salt until well blended.
    3. Pour the egg mixture into the warmed skillet.  Slide into the oven and bake for 18 to 25 minutes, until the center looks set and the edges are nicely risen and golden brown.  Remove from oven.
    4. Drizzle with lemon juice.
    5. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

    Wednesday, July 22, 2015

    Crave Wednesday: The Chicken Pesto Party

    Thatkid, like most children his age, is very wary of anything green.  Which is not to say he dislikes vegetables.  He's a big fan of zucchini and lately has even taken to eating "salad" (which is what he calls lettuce in anything).  However, a sprinkle of basil is enough to turn him off of a slice of cheese pizza.  Kids are weird.

    The very very strange exception to Thatkid's green aversion is pesto. I'm not sure how this originally passed muster, but he recognizes it from the get-go as something he enjoys.  He calls, and recognizes it as "green stuff,"  as in "can I have green stuff on my pasta?"  Although he is just as likely to ask for "green pasta" with the understanding it will come dressed in pesto.

    Pesto is one of my favorite easy recipes, since the food processor does all the heavy lifting.  And it's hard to mess up.  During the summer, when basil seems to be abundant, we can't get enough of it.  During the winter, we run a little basil-dry and resort to store-bought pesto.  Trader Joes makes a nice alternative when you can't make it yourself.

    Pesto on pizza can be overpowering, a little goes a long way.  Even with the chicken and pepper, it is still the star of this show.

    The Chicken Pesto Party (From Cooking Light)
    1 lb refrigerated pizza dough
    1/2 cup prepared pesto
    3/4 cup roast chicken breast, shredded
    1/2 cup sliced red bell pepper
    1/3 cup grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano 
    1. Preheat oven to 425. Roll dough into 14 inch circle.  Spread pesto evenly over dough, leaving 1/2 inch crust.
    2. Top with chicken, bell pepper, and cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes.

    Monday, July 20, 2015

    Mommy Mondays: 1 Month Update!

    This is a little late, because we're closer to 6 weeks than 1 month, but I realized I never did this and I'd like to have some record.  Poor, poor second child.  The baby book is still waiting for me to get to it.  I feel like I have so much less free time this maternity leave.  I JUST finished thank you cards last night.  I'm awake for more hours, but with Thatbaby in addition, I just feel like I get less done.  God help us all when I start back at work!

    Thatbaby is growing like a little chunk.  We didn't have a 1 month appointment because he had gained so well at his 3 week appointment.  Which means we won't be back until August!  He's currently in the 46th percentile for growth.  

    Doing this for the second time has made things so much easier.  I feel like I have a better handle on everything.  There's so much less unknown.  Even having Thatboy go back to work earlier didn't phase us too much.  We dropped Thatkid down to part time at preschool, which means 2 days a week I have both boys on my own.  And I survive!  Soon I'll post about how we make it through one of those days.

    I feel like having a summer baby is infinitely harder than a fall baby.  It's so hot!  And like I said before, Thatbaby gets dragged all over the place.  And to avoid the sun, we end up covering him most of the time, which is even hotter I'm sure.

    Like his older brother, Thatbaby is not a huge fan of the stroller.  I'm sure it's carseat related since he hates the carseat.  He'll tolerate the stroller for 10 minutes, but after that it's scream city.

    Thatkid had his first bath fairly early, but it took a lot longer for Thatbaby's umbilical cord to fall off, so he got his first bath shortly before he turned 1 month old.  He does not like the bath as much as his older brother did.  He's fine if he's already calm and quiet at bath time, but if he's the slightest bit upset, he spends it screaming.

    We've got our routine pretty much down during the day.  He chills in the vibrating bouncer while I shower, then I wear him to get things done around the house, or we chill on the couch napping.


    The novelty of a little brother hasn't worn off on Thatkid yet.  He still adores Thatbaby.  He picks out "socks" for him to wear every morning and loves to cover him with blankets.  His primary concern seems to be that Thatbaby might be too cold.  He comes up with nicknames, some sweet like "Little Cutie Pie" and some less sweet like "Poops and Pees and Cries."

    He still always wants to hold, carry or look at Thatbaby.

    He loves to translate Thatbaby's cries.  "He's crying because you're talking and he wants it to be quiet."  or "He's crying because the car is going slow and he wants it to go fast."  Although most of the time the translation is "HE'S HUNGRY!"

    Introduced Bottle 
    Last week we decided to introduce the bottle.  Breastfeeding has been going really well. Thatbaby latched perfectly from the get-go and I never had any nipple pain/soreness/bleeding.  All the same, we didn't want to mess with something that was going so well.  Pumping too early can actually have the opposite effect of what many people think and lead to supply issues - both oversupply and undersupply.  Now that breastfeeding is fairly well established we wanted to make sure Thatbaby will take a bottle so I don't have to be around all the time in case he gets hungry.

    With Thatkid, I left the house and went for a run while Thatboy tried the bottle.  This time around I haven't gotten back to running lately (harder to find the time with two and Thatboy back to work so early!) so Thatboy just introduced the bottle at bedtime.

    It did not go as well as with Thatkid.  I don't think it's because I was home, but Thatbaby was far more reluctant to take the bottle.  It actually might be because he wasn't as hungry.  With Thatkid, I would nurse him around 5/5:30, Thatboy would bathe him and give him another bottle about an hour later.  Thatbaby isn't hungry an hour later, so instead Thatboy has been doing the "first night feeding" which can be anywhere from 7pm to 12:30am.  Thatbaby is much happier taking a bottle then when he's hungry.  We're reusing the Tommee Tippee we used with Thatkid since we have so many.  I just replaced all the nipples.  

    Newborn Photos

    Leah came down again to do our newborn photos.  I love how she's been a part of all our big life events.  Plus I love the moments she captures. 

    Next Appointment: Tuesday, August 11
    Sleep: Usually every 3 hours.  Sometimes he's up every hour.  Saturday night he woke twice, every 5 hours.  I reaaaaaalllly hope he keeps that up.  It was amazing to get so much sleep!