Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thoughts for Thursday

REAL-TALK TIME.  Between viruses, colds, croup, and "snow" days, I very much want to sell everyone who needs something from me to the circus.  Or perhaps the better solution is for me to hop a circus train for a loop-dee-loop or two. The monkeys likely smell, but I bet the carnies let you eat your yogurt peanut noodles frosting from a can popcorn without clamoring for bites. 

Now before y'all are all BOSTON HAS 100 INCHES OF SNOW AND I CAN STILL SEE YOUR DAMN GRASS, let me say I fully embrace the fact we are big ol' pansies in regards to winter down here. But just remember, we're big ol' pansies without salt trucks or snow sweepers {is that even correct terminology? snow sweepers? plows?} or tire chains or proper outdoor attire or icy driving experience. Forecast calls for early morning precip + temps at or below freezing? Shit be shutting down. All of it.  No school, no story time, no indoor rec center {or, uh, yaknow, airports or city government buildings} {but again: NO REC CENTER} {priorities, people}.  I tried to take the mini meatloaves to Starbucks for sanity caffeine and behavior bribery cakepops on Monday afternoon, but I couldn't even get down our driveway.  B is into everything and screams if I attempt to cordon him off from any calamity. L is an exceptional independent / imaginative player but screams if her brother even looks at whatever elaborate tableau she has going on. No one naps at the same time, if they nap at all.  Thus, for work, no much-put-off and much-needed CLE, no writing, no eating frosting from the can... 

Basically... WOE IS ME; I have the Very First-y-est of the First World Problems.  Check out my poor child who can't even make a snow angel, because: ICE, NOT SNOW.

On another note, if you're a fellow Winter Pansy, might I recommend Old Navy Frost-Free Outerwear? {I would link but apparently it's no longer online so just file this tidbit away for next year, if you're so inclined.} It's toasty-warm and somewhat looks like a $400 knee-length puffer Patagonia but it costs way less than $400 because why the heckarooni do you need a $400 down jacket when you live in Dallas, Crazy Moms at Preschool Dropoff??!!

We did make it to Target on Tuesday for big girl bed "bumper-rails" {pool noodles} and sheets {to coordinate with this quilt, selected by my very particular child after much quibbling and consideration}. With only one brush with humanity in 48 hours, I figured a covert Cadbury Egg was in order. L spied my selection and wanted to {loudly} ensure we were playing fair... "YOU GET THAT FOR POOPING, MOMMY?  YOU NEED TO POOP AT TARGET?"  We really, really need to work on her stage whisper. 

I started letting L sit up on the barstool next to B for meals, and it is the one situation where I can pretty much guarantee she'll actually be super sweet with him. 

This new setup also seems to encourage more toddler veggie eating -- never one to be outdone by a mere baby {nevermind that baby eats like a sumo wrestler}, Sister chows down on previously shunned foods if they also appear on B's tray.  Win-win! 

Midweek shoutout to both quinoa cups and ThinkBaby dinnerware. I hadn't made quinoa cups in forever, and they were a megahit with both rugrats {I did spicy Italian chicken sausage with broccoli and smoked cheddar}.  And we are obsessed with these mugs and food storage containers -- I've slowly done away with all kitchen plastic related to kid food {pour one out for all those cute melamine licensed character plates}, and these sets were the final piece in the overly-anxious-smug-hippie puzzle. 

Ho hum, I think that'll do it for tonight {last night, as you're reading this}. Off to cuddle up with Brain on Fire which is so, so good -- highly recommend.  May your Thursday be cabin-fever-free! 

Thoughts for Thursday

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Recipe Two-fer

HAHA JUST KIDDING, Last-Sentence-of-Last-Post.  B HAS CROUP. 

Cold & Flu Season / Winter can die in a fire.  I mean that with every fiber in my being, and - full disclosure - it's a balmy 52 degrees outside my window.  I cannot even imagine how my buds up yonder are able to exist. Y'all are positively nuts on a {frozen} stick. 

As a sacrifice on the Alters of Respiratory Illness and Relative/Not-So-Relative Frigid Temps, I bring you one 10-minute manic meal {THERE'S NEVER ANY TIME} and one dish to warm you toe-to-scalp {THE AIR HURTS MY FACE}. 

As always, advance apologies for atrocious food photography / leftovers staging. 

Linguine with Spinach & Walnut Sauce
adapted from Martha Stewart 

- 2 cups walnut halves 
- 1 lb linguine 
- 1 T. EVOO
- 5 oz fresh baby spinach
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 T. red pepper flakes
- salt & pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread walnuts on a cookie sheet; toast until fragrant -- 7 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook linguine al dente according to package instructions in a pot of heavily salted water. Drain and return to pot. Toss baby spinach with hot pasta and EVOO until leaves wilt a bit -- 2 to 3 minutes. 

While nuts toast and pasta cooks, process 1 cup of walnuts, cream, garlic, and red pepper flakes until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper. Toss with pasta, spinach, remaining walnuts, and Parmesan. Serve immediately. 

Pancetta, White Bean, & Swiss Chard Pot Pie*
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

- 1 T EVOO
- 4 oz diced pancetta
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 2 large carrots, finely chopped
- 1 large stalk celery, finely chopped 
- 1 t. red pepper flakes
- salt and fresh ground pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 10 oz Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves sliced thinly 
- 3.5 T butter
- 3.5 T all-purpose flour
- 3.5 cups chicken stock 
- 2 cans white beans, rinsed well 
- 1 package crescent rolls {or consult original recipe for from-scratch topping / bad-assery}

*Deb's original recipe yields four mini pot pies. While adorable, this recipe already pushes my personal limits for weekday supper prep, hence the one-pot conversion {see also: crescent roll topping}. Bonus Points for less dishes to soak. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat EVOO over medium-high heat in a large, oven-safe Dutch oven.  Brown pancetta, turning it frequently with a wooden spoon, until it colors and crisps on all sides -- 10 minutes or so.  Then add onions, carrots, celery, and red pepper flakes, cooking until veggies begin to soften a bit -- about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute, then add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in Swiss chard and allow leaves to wilt -- 3 minutes or so. Transfer mixture to a bowl and set aside. 

Melt butter in the same Dutch oven over medium-low heat.  Whisk in flour until combined and cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Whisk in stock, a half-cup at a time, mixing completely between additions and scrapping up any brown bits left over from cooking the veggies into the sauce. Once all stock is added, simmer sauce until it thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove Dutch oven from heat, stir in veggie mixture and white beans.  

Top filling with overlapping crescent roll dough. Bake for 35 minutes or so, until topping browns and filling is bubbling.  

Monday, February 16, 2015

birthday / heart day / sick days

Woof. Last week was a doozie. After thwarting illness for the entire school year, a plague of snot took down L and over half her classmates. I conveniently threw out my back {a decade-old bar tending injury that resurfaces from time to time just to piss me off} {don't laugh; kegs are heavy}, so what would have been a rough couple of lazy days became 48 hours of me moaning quietly on the floor, lobbing Kleenex and Goldfish in the general vicinity of my children while the perfect, sunny stroller weather mocked us from the window. Glory be to the little-g god of hydrocodone -- I knew I had those c-sections for a reason {other than present kidlet company, of course!}. 


Thankfully, even though she had a hell of a time sleeping any reasonable amount, L was uncharacteristically sweet to B while housebound. {photos indicative of sibling warm fuzzies but taken a few weeks prior, in healthier times} She also spent an impressively long time earnestly crafting Valentines for family and school friends -- art is not sister's favorite pastime so I was pleasantly surprised by this particular, productive time-suck! 

My Bug, though sleep deprived, was well enough to head back to class on Thursday for her Valentine's Day celebration -- she selected her snappy casual ensemble all by herself and was super psyched to procure 89 new pieces of tiny goodie-bag crap to treasure and cherish {re: strew all over the house and subsequently freak out when we say we're not sure exactly where "that little superman tattoo Grace gave me with the cape and the sparkles that I love so much" is}. 

There's L with her darling friend M -- their little heart hats were pretty stinkin' cute. Unfortunately, my girl's attitude for the next 72 hours was anything but adorable.  A week of broken sleep and minimal napping and general icky health just took its toll, and it was meltdown after meltdown after meltdown.  Constant whining, extended tantrums... Not really how I wanted to spend my birthday or our weekend. 

But! My parents were visiting, and the reinforcements were much appreciated!  Friday the 13th {I feel as if I've had a disproportionate number of F13 birthdays, btw} provided some glorious weather, and we took full advantage with lunch at Klyde Warren Park {Savor again; don't mess with a good thing}. 

My parentals treated me to a 2 hour nap while my spawn screamed in their faces, and then E and I escaped to the movies {it was a tough call to complete our Oscar tally card... is early onset Alzheimers or taking out terrorist cells more birthday-festive? we went with the terrorists}.  I drank pinot noir out of a pint glass, and no one yelled at me when I mentioned we were out of yogurt pouches -- it was a solid evening. {insert my standard soapbox bitchfest about the inability to dine out almost anywhere on my birthday without hassling with crappy overpriced prix fixe menus and single stem red rose centerpieces and extra tables jammed in; I am not a VDay Hater, but couldn't it be, like, the 27th or something?}. I also enjoyed a delicious berry chantilly cake and delighted over gifts of new red chucks, a smelly hippie essential oil diffuser, and a Notorious RBG tee.  Many, many thanks to all those who made my birthday special -- I think 32 holds great things, even though my threenager tried her damndest to start me out with a mental breakdown!

Valentine's Day and the rest of the weekend was for picnicing and parking and matching shoes and strolling and taking lots of deep breaths.  There were a few good naps thrown in there, as well as some chocolate covered strawberries and B's first brush with gourmet grilled cheese, so I think everyone's attitudes are on the uptick. Hopefully. I think.  Fingers crossed.