Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Crave Wednesday:Bourbon Caramel Sauce over Vanilla Ice Cream

So New Year's Eve found us curled up family style on the couch.

New Year's Day found us slightly more active.
I reinstituted our New Year's Brunch!  I am so much happier throwing a brunch than a New Year's Eve party.  After all,  it means you can stay in your pajamas!

And after a night of celebrating,  there's nothing better than a big spread of food.  As usual,  I went completely overboard.  We still have bagels in the freezer!

And even though Christmas was over,  it's never the wrong season for decorated cookies.

Of course this holiday calls for champagne, and we had plenty of it.  A champagne bar with 4 different flavors of champagne awaited our guests.  I even dressed them up with glitter for the occasion.

 My secret to the entire event was outsourcing.  I made coffee cake and fruit salad,  and picked up the rest of the food. No one minded. 

There are times when it just pays to take shortcuts.  And there are occasions when you can spend the time to make it from scratch.

This dessert takes a little more time than typing your ice cream with hot fudge.  But it's worth it.  Homemade caramel can be tricky, but a little bit of attention really pays off.  I personally love pineapple, just cut up on its own,  but broiling it adds a whole new level of sweetness. Warm pineapple,  cold ice cream, and a sweet caramel sauce?  Happy New Year indeed.

Broiled Pineapple with Bourbon Caramel Sauce over Vanilla Ice Cream (from Cooking Light) 
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp plus 2 tsp bourbon
3 Tbsp water
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pineapple, peeled and cored
3 Tbsp brown sugar
2 cups vanilla fat - free ice cream
1/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut,  toasted
  1. Combine sugar, 3 Tbsp bourbon,  3 Tbsp water,  and juice in a medium saucepan over medium high heat.  Cook 2 minutes unty the sugar dissolves, stirring constantly.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium,  and cook without stirring for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  2. Add cream, stirring constantly.  Cool slightly. 
  3. Stir in 2 tsp bourbon and vanilla. 
  4. Preheat broiler. Cut pineapple crosswise into 12 rings, then cut each ring in half. Arrange on foil lined broiler pan coated with cooking spray. 
  5. Sprinkle pineapple with brown sugar and broil for 12 minutes.
  6. Scoop 1/2 cup of ice cream into 6 bowls.  
  7. Arrange 4 pineapple slices in each bowl.  
  8. Top each serving with 2 1/2 Tbsp bourbon caramel sauce. 
  9. Sprinkle each serving with 2 tsp coconut. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Crave Wednesday: Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce

We spent Christmas,  as usual, with the in-laws.  And it was just as.... well, it was just as it always was,  with the added bonus of dealing with a 2 year old too. 

Christmas Eve we traveled into San Francisco to see the sights.  Like the tree in Union Square.

 Or the one in Nieman Marcus.

We stopped into the St. Francis to check out their gingerbread houses.

We came back in time to get dressed and had out to church.

 Dinner was after church, but Thatbaby and I didn't make it because of his epic tantrumming and general 2 year old behavior.  We headed back to the hotel where a bath,  snack, and story sorted things out.

When Thatboy and Thatkid came in for the night, we set out the cookies Thatbaby and I made and brought up with us.  Thatkid decided Santa would like some egg nog instead of milk.

 And sure enough,  when the boys woke up in the morning,  Santa had come!

Thatkid had asked Santa for a stuffed animal and Thatbaby wanted Chase from Paw Patrol.  Both were very happy Christmas morning.

I don't have any other pictures from Christmas day,  but it was a lot of sitting around waiting to open presents and watching people leave to take naps, and eating no food, because why would anyone have food on Christmas day?

We stayed for one more day, during which time the boys played mini - golf for the first time.

 And went bowling for the second time.

 As always,  I was very happy to be home.  While others indulged in Christmas sweets and treats,  I miss out on that every year. I've tried making breakfast for everyone, but it just didn't catch on. Instead, I have to live vicariously through every one else. Pretend I'm indulging in rich,  creamy,  brad pudding,  dripping in salted caramel sauce.  It's exactly the kind of thing you would eat after a holiday meal. Right?  I don't know if it is, but bread pudding seems awful Christmas -y to me.  Wintery  in general really.  A sit by the fireplace kind of dessert.

Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce (from Cooking Light) 
5 cups of cubed French bread
1 cup evaporated fat free milk
3/4 cup 1% low fat milk
1/3 cup sugar
5 Tbsp bourbon
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp butter
6 Tbsp half and half

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Arrange bread on a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes. 
  2. Whisk evaporated milk, milk,  sugar,  2 Tbsp bourbon,  1 Tbsp vanilla,  cinnamon,  salt,  and eggs in a large bowl. 
  3. Add bread cubes and let stand 20 minutes. 
  4. Combine brown sugar, remaining bourbon,  and butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat.  Bring to a boil. Simmer 2 minutes,  or until the sugar dissolves. 
  5. Stir in 5 Tbsp half and half and simmer 10 minutes,  or until reduced to 1 cup.  Remove pan from heat.
  6. Stir in 1 Tbsp half and half,  1 tsp vanilla, and a pinch of salt. 
  7. Spoon half of bread mixture into a 9x5 loaf pan coated with cooking spray.  
  8. Drizzle 3 Tbsp sauce over bread mixture. 
  9. Spoon remaining half of the bread mixture over sauce.  Bake for 45 minutes.  
  10. Serve warm sauce with bread pudding.  Top with whipped cream. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Mommy Mondays: You are what you watch

Let's talk about every parents favorite topic - screen time!

How much is too much?
What are your kids watching?
What do you do with your kids if they're not watching tv/playing on the tablet/ playing video games?

I don't really have the answer to any of these questions.  Although I do have a handle on the second one.

I'm a tv kid.  I grew up on television. I was rocked to sleep at night lulled by the sounds of the Muppets.  I was up early on Saturday mornings to watch Garfield and Friends. At one point in time I knew all the members of The New Mickey Mouse Club. 

I also grew up with every new video game system that came out.  Mario, Link,  shooting at ducks... been there,  done that.  And I think I turned out alright.  I'm not anti-screen time by any means.

With my kids,  I think we regulate screen time more than my parents did, but for different reasons.

1) Time.  For the most part, my kids don't watch television during the week.  Because the only time we're home, they're getting ready for school, eating dinner, or getting ready for bed.  And we've found those things go slower with the television on.

2) Attention.  Both our kids have their own tablets.  Which until recently they have only been given during long road trips and airplane rides.  Why? Because when we're in those situations, my children are not easy.  I'm so grateful for even those few moments of quiet I can get when they're immersed in their screens.  And by limiting them to those situations,  I'm able to keep them interested.  It's "special" when they only get to use it a couple times a year.

We've revamped a little since Thatkid started kindergarten and stopped napping.  On the weekends, or school breaks, he can do some of his school apps on his tablet during Thatbaby's naptime.

3) Access. Although we have a Wii, it hasn't been hooked up since before Thatkid was born. So my kids don't play video games because... they can't.

This makes us sound super strict right? Like we're depriving our kids of fundamentally necessary socially relevant information.  So let me reassure you,  there are weekends.

Weekends are a free-for-all. On weekends we are running to sports, birthday parties,  and play dates,  but when we're home? When we're home,  chances are those kids are plopped in front of the television.  We do movie nights Friday and Saturday nights.

In these instances,  we're more concerned with quality over quantity.  What they're actually watching. Disney Channel and Nickelodeon play big roles in my house.  Scooby Doo is a frequent choice, since Thatboy and I also enjoy it.  During F1 season, weekend mornings are often for racing while I try to grab some sleep or miles.

So while I don't have the answers,  I think it's somewhere along the lines of finding what works for you and yours. Finding a balance you're comfortable with,  and ensuring that it is balanced. For us,  that scale may tip heavily on the weekend,  but I don't feel guilty about it because I know that it all evens out in the end.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sunday Runday: 2018 plans

I have 2 main running goals for this year,  the first is to keep working on my 10k, that goal from last year I dropped the ball on.  Song with that, which should help, is to run more, and more consistently.

I've been doing a lot of shorter runs, and this year I'm trying to get back into 3 miles being the shortest distance I run, and the distance I run at least 4 days a week.  That gives me one day off,  one day I can cut short due to time constraints,  and one day to do a longer run.

As for my runs this year, so far I've only got one half marathon on schedule, the San Diego Half.  And then I'm loading up on 10ks, like the Cardiff Kook, the St. Patrick's Day 10k, The Vista Strawberry Run,  etc.

Of course, the old standbys are still there,  like the Fit Foodie and the Jingle Bell Run.

Here's looking forward to a good running year!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Crave Wednesday: Blueberry Peach Cobbler

 The timing of Chanukah was perfect this year.  It didn't overlap with our trip to the in-laws for Christmas which meant we didn't have to transport presents,  could enjoy the evenings with our family, and spend time celebrating with family and friends!

We lit candles,  and this year both boys got to take turns helping.

We ate a ton of latkes. I ended up making batches for a Chanukah dinner with friends, and another batch for Thatkid to bring to school.

The date meant we got to meet up with  my mom and Thatbrother's family,  who spends Christmas with UDubb's family. We don't always get to vertebrate Chanukah with my family,  so it's always special when we do. 

And of course, there were lots of presents

Here we are, a month later, and there's less fried food, less presents,  less celebration. As often happens in January I go into super fruit mode.  All I want is fruit.  Mostly I go for oranges. But then... then I found ridiculously cheap blueberries.  Now,  I'm all for seasonal eating, especially with fruit,  but I can't pass up cheap blueberries.  Mixed with some frozen peaches and baked,  this warm dish is perfect for winter, reminiscent of summer, and reason for celebration year round.
Blueberry Peach Cobbler (from Cooking Light) 
5lbs peaches,  peeled,  pitted and sliced
Juice of 1 lemon 
1 cup sugar
3/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp flour 
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup butter,  softened 
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups blueberries
2 Tbsp turbinado sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Place peaches in a large bowl and toss with lemon juice. 
  2. Add 3/4 cup granulated sugar,  1/8 tsp salt,  and 2 Tbsp flour to peaches and toss to combine. Arrange in 13x9 dish coated with cooking spray. 
  3. Combine remaining flour, 1/4 tsp salt, and baking powder in a bowl. 
  4. Beat 1/4 cup sugar and butter in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. 
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, beating between additions. 
  6.  Stir in vanilla. 
  7. Alternating between dry and wet,  add in for mixture and buttermilk (start and end with the flour)
  8. Stir in blueberries.  Spread the batter evenly over peach mixture. 
  9. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.  Bake for 1 hour,  until topping is golden and filling is bubbly. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Mommy Mondays: The Project Problem

Thatkid is halfway through kindergarten now and so far he is loving it.

He's really excelling too, with his reading skills growing by leaps and bounds. The nice thing about his class is that the only homework they've had is for us to read to them, 20 minutes a night.

Except..... there have been two occasions when they gave optional extra work.

The first, was the school read-a-thon, where they raised money for the school by reading as much as they could.  This brought out a really competitive side of Thatkid who wanted to read more minutes than the other kids in his class.  This also made bedtime a lot longer for us, as that 20 minutes of reading turned into 40.

And then, over winter break,  Thatkid decided to take part in another school wide commotion - the biography bottle.

It was an optional assignment to keep the kids busy over break, with a winner chosen from each grade.  Thatkid, who had opted out of the Thanksgiving break assignment, wanted to take part in this one.

And this is when I started working on the fine line between "doing" and "helping."  It's a balance that many parents fail at. Not for any nefarious reason,  but because its 1) hard to watch your kids doing something wrong,  2) it's hard to watch your kids doing something incredibly slowly,  3) sometimes the project is fun.

I will admit to steering Thatkid toward his subject.  He's developed an interest in magic over the past year and received a biography of Harry Houdini for Chanukah.  So I suggested we read that book together for his project.  For a little over a week,  Thatboy and I took turns reading chapters to him,  and luckily,  it definitely piqued his interest.

I had some ideas for how to do the project,  but I forced myself to step back.  I had him draw what he wanted the bottle to look like  (and he picked... the cover of the book.) Then I had him decide what mediums he was going to use to get it to look like his drawing.

We did have a little argument when he kept asking me to make the paint for skin color darker and darker and didn't believe me when I explained that people from Eastern Europe had the same skin as he and I, since our family is from Eastern Europe.

I also manned the glue gun and came up with/ implemented a solution when the lock kept falling off.

I also steered him away from using things like "everyone loved him" as a fascinating fact about Houdini.  And we got into another little argument when I wouldn't do the writing for him.

But overall,  I think we both did really well - him in completing his project and me in letting him complete his project! Let's hope this continues over the next 12 years!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sunday Runday: Legoland Kids Marathon Mile

When we first did the Legoland kids race,  we loved it and wanted it to be an annual tradition.  Except then Thatkid asked to run a Star Wars race and we ended up doing a RunDisney Star Wars race the same day.

Now that Run Disney has cancelled all their Disneyland races,  we can run the Legoland read again.   So this is our second,  first annual Kids Marathon Mile.

We got there bright and early to pick up our bibs and shirts.  I don't mind getting there early because they have lots of things for the kids to do.  Like dance contests,  free chick-fil-a, and spin-and-win games with Dave and Busters.

Because the race splits up the kids by age,  Thatboy and I also split up.  I took Thatkid,  who I knew would want to run the whole thing. Thatboy stayed with Thatbaby,  who would be in and out of the stroller.

Thatkid and I went with the 6 year olds up to the start when it was our turn.

 They counted us down and off we went.

 Thatboy ran the whole way,  he worked hard the entire race.

As we approached the finish line,  we saw some guys we knew,  just starting the race.

 No time to stop and chat,  some of us had a race to finish strong!

We waited at the finish line for the other half of our family,  and when he saw them,  Thatkid ran out to join them in their run to the finish.

Medals for everyone!

 Another successful race! And that feeling I had the first time? It's back.  I can't wait to do it again next year.  Given the staging, I think Thatkid and I will be able to run the race and finish before Thatbaby starts,  so we'll be able to run it with him too.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Crave Wednesday: Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding

2018 marks a new adventure for our family - we got Legoland passes! We love going to Legoland, and on a tip from the Ks, we managed to score some discounted ones.  One of the perks of the passes was that they started in 2017, so we took advantage of that fact!

First, we hit up holidays at Legoland. The park was totally decked out for the season.

 There was even snow!

Thatbaby was insistent on taking advantage of all the character meet 'n greet opportunities.

 Obviously he was extra excited about Santa.  I couldn't get him to stop touching Santa.

Luckily there was a more touchable Santa there. 

The boys got a lot of driving experience while we were there. 

And we got Thatbaby a Batman mask, which provided hours of entertainment for all of us.

The night we were there, they were also having a Christmas market.  So we grabbed mulled wine, hot cocoa, sausages, and pretzels and sat to watch the nightly tree lighting.

The tree lighting was great.  Lights everywhere and fun holiday music,  all working together.

On the way out, we stopped at one last ride - The Coastersaurus. The plan was for Thatbaby and I to wait while the bigger boys rode. Except Thatbaby wanted to ride it too.  We tried to explain to him that it was a rollercoaster and would be too scary for him, but he continued to insist that he liked rollercoasters and wanted to ride it.  So we let him.

He did not like it.

Poor kid.

We used our passes one more time in 2017 - the very last day of 2017, New Year's Eve!

In direct contrast to his brother's reaction to rollercoasters, Thatkid was much happier riding the thrill ride.  (Thatbaby sat, or rather slept,  this one out.)

 His request was the helicopter ride, so when he woke up from his nap, we happily obliged.

 The great thing about Legoland's New Year's Eve is that they do their countdown, and accompanying "brick drop" early,  at 6pm.

They handed out hats and special fireworks viewing glasses during the day.

Everyone got into the act!

As with the tree lighting, we got a good seat early, camped out, and ate dinner while we waited for the countdown.

 And then it was 5:59 and we were all shooting down numbers as the brick descended.

 And then came the fireworks!

 Happy New Year!

One more trip to the Coastersaurus (while Thatbaby and I went on the safari ride) and before you knew it,  we were all home and in our pajamas,  watching old movies.

 We told the boys they could try and stay up to the real midnight. 

Neither off them made it.

Which is fine, because Thatboy and I drank champagne and enjoyed adult time.  Adult time - when you get to indulge in things without your children ruining them.  Like this chocolate pudding.  I mean, sure,  most of us associate pudding with children,  but this pudding? This pudding is for grown ups.  Warm, fresh, well made pudding might be one of Thatboy's favorite desserts. This chocolate pudding, made with bittersweet chocolate,  isn't the super sweet pudding you ate as a kid.  It's darker,  more mellow, more adult.  It's the pudding you easy when the kids are in bed. And the prefect way to round out the year.

Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding (from Cooking Light) 
1 cup Dutch process cocoa
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups skim milk
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 egg yolk, beaten
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped 
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

  1. Combine cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. 
  2. Gradually add 1 cup of milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. 
  3. Cook 2 1/2 cups milk in a large heavy saucepan over medium high heat until it reaches 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil).
  4. Remove from heat. Add sugar,  stirring with a whisk until dissolved. 
  5. Gradually add hot milk to cocoa mixture storing with a whisk until blended.  Return milk mixture to a pan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes until thick.  Remove from heat.
  6. Combine egg yolk and egg in medium bowl, storing with whisk until blended. 
  7. Gradually add milk mixture to egg mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Return milk mixture to pan.  Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat 2 minutes or until thick and bubbly.  Remove from heat. 
  8. Add chocolate and vanilla, stirring until chocolate melts.  Pour into a bowl.  Cover the surface of the pudding with plastic wrap.  Cool slightly to serve warm (Thatboy's favorite)  or refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.