Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What's Cooking: Week 1

I love our tradition of picking a cookbook to cook a new recipe from each year.
This year was Fresh Food Fast by Martha Stewart. We started out with good intentions, but after much discussion, I have decided to proclaim Fresh Food Fast dead. Not because the cookbook fall short (because it doesn't), but our cooking style has changed.

We are home a lot more. Cooking a lot more.
 And I happen to have 2 major distractions from said cookbook.
1) Pinterest
2) I subscribed to about 6 cooking magazines this year, and each provides pages of inspiration that lure me away from my stack of cookbooks.

And I want to use this blog to showcase what our week looks like and share the major hits (and the major misses). Paint a realistic picture of what life is like with two full-time parental units, and a baby.

So I introduce our weekly blog 'column': What's Cookin'!

Monday night we re-made the Sweet Potato Burgers that I wrote about a few weeks ago. Since it is a favorite of Miss Matilda, it makes for very useful leftovers. We also made a side dish of the Tex Mex Bean Salad. This seemed like a super fun new recipe, but in reality it was a knock-off of Texas Cavier. Still delicious though and made great left-overs.

Tuesday night brought a new recipe that we found off of Pinterest. Caprese Pizza Toasts. They were SUPER EASY. SUPER QUICK. A perfect weeknight meal, paired with a big old salad.

To be honest, I'm not sure why it is called' Pizza Toast" because it doesn't have Pizza flavor at all, but it didn't matter to us because they were very good.

We tend to always have one night a week that ends up being a bust. Not a bust in the sense that dinner is terrible. But a bust in the sense that we get home, look at the chalkboard to see what is in-store for dinner and either realize we forgot to take meat out, or we are just too tired to consider making a big meal. That was Wednesday night. We made Brinner. Our stand-by. Frittata with asparagus, red pepper and feta with hashbrowns. Easy. Quick. Low maintenance.

The real gem of the week was a new recipe we tried from the Food Network Magazine. These will be made again (and again and again). If you are looking for a great new dish to try that breaks you out of the status quo, make this: Indian Chicken Wraps.

1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled
1 serrano chile pepper, halved, seeded and rough chopped
1/2 small onion, rough chopped (we omitted this)
1/2 teaspoon of cround cumin
1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt (we used greek)
2 teaspoons lime juice
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsn vegetable oil
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (skin removed)
2 medium carrots, shredded
Naan Bread or pocket pitas (we found amazing Naan at Costco)
**We also added a good amount of Red Pepper, rough-chopped to add more veg).

1). Combine the ginger, chile, onion, cumin and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a mini food processor and pulse to make a thick paste (or finely chop and mash with the flat side of a knife). Mix the yogurt, lime juice, and cilantro in a bowl, combine with salt. Cover and chill until ready to use.
2) Heat oil in skillet over med-high heat. Add the ginger-chile paste and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is slightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken, carrots, salt, and 1/2 cup of water and continue to cook, stirring until the sauce is thick and the chicken is heated through (about 2 more minutes) Season with salt.
3) Spoon chicken down middle of bread. Drizzle with yogurt sauce and roll up.

Enjoy!! Let me know if you make it. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Total Domination

While most babies are currently working very hard on things like crawling, and walking, our daughter is pouring her efforts into dinner time, or really any time of day that involves her sitting down for a meal.

Unless you have seen it for yourself, you really probably wouldn't believe how much this girl can eat. So we taped one recent dinnertime feast (well, we only taped about a quarter of the feast. there was still MUCH food to be devoured after the tape stopped rolling)....

I am certain she could win her age division at an eating contest (assuming of course the food was either asparagus or zucchini or all-time favorites).

Friday, May 25, 2012

Thoughts on *potentially* Losing My Job

This week my company announced there would be about 850 jobs cut over the course of the next month. It was a surreal day on Tuesday as the news started to unfold, meetings were held, and of course the rumors started flying.

It has been an absolute rollercoaster of emotions. From fear that I would lose job, to an optimistic 'whatever happens will happen for a reason'. I hope that this company, whom I have dedicated 7.5 years of my life to, will recognize and see the value that I feel I add to the organization.

But beyond all of that it was a very good reminder for me that no matter how amazing my employer is, how generous they are, or flexible and accomodating (because it truly is all of those things) is still a corporation first. And I work in Corporate America. And layoffs happen. I am not immune.

And so this whole process serves as a reminder to me to enjoy life outside these corporate walls. The time you spend with your family. The memories you make with your family. And a reminder to truly be present  when you are doing those things. Because if you spend all of your energy and time on work, and work ceases to exist you aren't left with much.

For now I wait and see what my fate will be. But among all that waiting you can bet there will be lots of baby snuggles, laughs with friends, cooking dinner with my hubby and  time to stop and appreciate all that I have right now.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Translation Tuesday: Cool Dudes

Remember "hat practice?"

Well, now that we have hats mastered we have moved on to the crucial summer essential: sunglass practice.
Except we don't call them sunglasses.

We call them Cool Dudes.

And every time we put the on Matilda we do a little jingle about it and put them on her face.
And we just had a breakthrough we she actually keeps them on for more than a minute.

Did I mention this cool dude practice takes place in the bathtub every night?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

11 Months

I am in denial that Matilda continues to get older so I won't even mention that she is only 1 month away from the 1 year milestone. Where does the time go? I just don't understand. Anyway, that is a different post for a different day (and that day is only one. month. away....but I digress).

The past month has been a wild one for us. We were fortunate enough to get to go on our first family vacation as a threesome to Florida. Work got crazy for both Nate and I, and we both were desperate to get home to soak up every ounce of Matilda and her new found social butterfly skills.

The 11th month brought waving hi and bye....At times spot on, at other time at about a :15 delay. Either way...adorable.

....blowing kisses. Or should I saw locking in her own kisses. She get her hand up to her mouth but doesn't then actually blow the kiss.

....the beginnings of her snuggling toys/dolls. There were times the past few weeks where Matilda would be rooting through a box/bag/bucket of toys and pull out some stuffed toy of some sort, make all sort of cooing noises and snuggle it. My heart literally melts every time I see her do it.

...Independence. From the strong desire to feed herself to wanting to turn the pages of her books, this little one is starting to show us she has preferences..

....So Big. But in our house...we don't quite do So Big the typical way. We do "so cute", where we say how cute are you, and TIllie shrugs her shoulder and puts her head to one side. I know, I know. All the mothers of daughters out there are probably shaming and judging me that I should have taught her so smart over so cute. But guess what. It is so cute. And there will be plenty of time for me to tell her how smart she is. But with thighs like can you not mention the cute word every now and then?

....the first glimpse into my life in 10 years from now, as she got angry when I took a toy away from her the first time. She gave me a face that literally sent chills to my spine, and then started crying. Awesome.

....and no. The 11th month did not bring crawling. Nate and I could not be more happy. Daycare could not be more perplexed. Because she is moving. Getting places. But no one can really quite put their fingers on how she is doing it. Lots of small, stealth movements I guess. But I am pretty confident she will be crawling soon. Any day really. Which means we need to baby proof and step up our game. Stat.

..Finally, the girl could still be called Munchie....not sure how long the finger sucking will last but for now it is here to stay.

It's hard to believe this one is past her first double-digit anniversary, and is moving toward toddler-hood, which I have heard has its own set of joys and burdens. But for now I am basking in the remaining days of babydom.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Pinterest Eats

Pinterest. A girls best friend, and a girl's worst enemy. At least for me.
I love to pin, pin, pin. But then the guilt starts to set in that I haven't done anything fantastic off of Pinterest. And am I really just wasting a bunch of time pinning if I never put this stuff into action.

So, what better way to rip off the band-aid of the chalk-board kitchen wall, than to plan a week-filled with Pinterest Recipes.

We kicked the week off with one of my very favorite recipes of 2012, originally found on Pinterest.
Avocado and Chickpea Salad

It is a HUGE winner. Nate and I make this almost every week. Great for lunches, or as a side.
Start by making 2 cups of Quinoa.
Quarter a bunch of cherry tomatoes.
Open up a can of garbanzo beans.
Juice 2 lemons. 

*Fun tip: microwave your lemons 15-20 seconds and you get more juice. Thanks Mom!**
Then process 2 full heaping cups of spinach and an entire bunch of cilantro with 2 cloves of garlic in the food processor.

Cut up 2 avocado's, add some salt, pepper, and a heaping teaspoon of cumin.

And viola---amazing side dish that is super healthy and goes with anything. Mmmm. Mmmm.
No joke, if you only  make one new recipe this year, make it this.

We also made a Rhubarb Crisp, which was extra exciting because it was the FIRST use of a Hanson homegrown veggie/fruit as our rhubarbis up and plentiful. Tomorrow we are making Rhubarb Banana muffins--also off of pinterest.

Our entire menu for the week was based off of recipes from Pinterest, and on the whole we have yet to be disappointed with the recipes I have found.

The Southwestern Stuffed Red Peppers were delish, as was this amazing Carrot/Garbanzo Bean side salad

We also tried  Sweet Potato Vegetarian Burger. I am sure my Dad is gagging a little just considering this but they were GOOD.

And the ultimate bonus--Matilda LOVED these burgers, even with the cayenne pepper. I held my breath as she took the first bite, anticipating a hilariously cute reaction to a little spice. Nope. Didn't even phase her for one second. She just kept shoveling more of it into her mouth. Nate and I are so excited to be entering teh phase of her being able to eat what we eat!

If you have favorite recipes you have found on Pinterest, let me know, and we will give them a whirl!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Three's Company

There is nothing better than seeing these three together.
Finn is so doting on Tillie and she loves to watch him. He does a very good job of cracking her up.
Now that both her and Leo are a little older, they are able to all sit still in one place long enough for a picture or two. 

Frankie seemed to enjoy the Viroqua air and grass too.

 It was a great Mother's Day.....

....Right up until the part where we left to go back to MN and someone decided that it would be a good idea to gun it left out of the Wal-Mart (go figure) parking lot and nail our car.

It would be cliche to say it happened in a split second. But it did.
At the same time it felt like time stopped when I saw it happening, knowing we were going to get hit, spinning around and avoiding the sign-pole, and missing getting hit by another car.

The impact was on Matilda's car door and back tire.
Tillie didn't cry right away, which was more scary. We didn't know how bad it was. Once Nate pulled the car over and stopped it she started screaming, so it was almost a relief.

I have to say that my first instinct once Tillie was in my arms was to swear at the girl that hit us. It went something like this: "What the Hell" (girl shrugs shoulders like she has no idea how that happened) to which I say "I have a fucking BABY"....

Nate called my Dad, who beat the police to the scene and pretty much got it all taken care of. It was a huge relief to have him there. Nick came and rescued Matilda so she could get out of the sun and take a nap. After the adrenaline wore off, and my knees got less-wobbly I was able to reflect and really appreciate how lucky we are. It could have been a lot worse.

In the meantime, we are cruising around in some silver Chevy that smells like an ashtray, so if you smell smoke on any of us, know that we haven't taken up smoking. Oh, and Dad is helping his insured sort through their accident---Yup..that's right. He is the agent for the person that HIT US. Nice, huh?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy Mother's Day Greta

It's that time again, where I (Nate) have to hijack the blog to tell everyone how ahhhmazing my wife and mother of my child is!

This weekend was obviously Mother's Day, and for various reasons that I am sure Greta will fill you in about it was all together awesome and horrible.  On the horrible side was me leaving the laptop in Minneapolis so that I couldn't share my love earlier in the day.  But on the awesome side it was so great to get to spend time with everyone this weekend.  Ok ok, on to how great Greta is.

As I thought about Mother's Day gifts for Greta, I kept thinking back to how inspirational she truly is.  She has been sacrificing her body, sleep, time, and love for 20 months (including the pregnancy).  It truly amazes me when I see her from across the room how much love she pours into our daughter; it makes me want to be a better dad and a better husband. Greta, you are an amazing mother who keeps are our daughter happy, healthy, and not hungry (ever).  I wish I could give you an ounce of inspiration to help you manage through the days.  To help give you that extra little inspiration, I went back in time (circa late 1990's and early 2000's) to create some posters for your office to help get you through the day when you can't see your beautiful daughter. 24x36 inches posters should be arriving this week :)

Happy Mother's Days Honey!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Let The Garden Grow!!

The garden is planted.

And now we wait.
For green beans.
banana peppers.

Matilda wasn't so much into the gardening as she was her bucket of toys, a fun new game that keeps her entertained for a good chunk of time.

Well, at least enough time to get the plants planted!

I have to say I am pretty stoked to get to actually get to partake in the garden feast this year and not worry about the food causing reflux for Matilda, for making Matilda gassy, or figuring out how to cook with it without using dairy or soy!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Make This.

You won't be sorry.
Nate and I have been cooking new recipes like it is our job recently (more on that later), but I just could not do you all the injustice of keeping this recipe from you.

It was a big hit in this house. But we learned today, it does NOT make good leftovers. So make it up, and invite company over to help you enjoy it.

We pulled this recipe from a Rachel Ray Magazine.

Here is the recipe:
1 pound Spinach fettuccine
3/4 cup pistachios
1 pound thin asparagus, coursely choped
1 cup loosely packed mixed fresh parsley, mint, and tarragon or basil
1/4 cpu fresh grated parmigiano
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1) Toast Pistachios in a small skillet (or you can just buy toasted Pistachios at Costco like we did)
2) Using a food processor, puree the asparagus, herbs, cheese, nuts and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. With the machine still running, drizzle in the olive oil, and process until smooth.
*Note, we only used basil and parsley and it was delicious**
3) Cook pasta--making sure to keep 1 cup of pasta water when you drain off water.
4) Combine pasta water, pasta and pesto into bowl and toss to coat the noodles.
Cook the pasta. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.

Super duper easy. Super duper good. Which means it is a win win.

Next time, I would consider adding some chicken, but otherwise this is a dish that will be revisiting this household many nights to come.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Ready to Run

We decided that the Run of the Mills was the perfect opportunity for us to take our Group Baby out for her first race. 

Daycare has it in their head that Matilda now has to wear shoes (not sure why since she not crawling, but whatever). So we broke out the adorable kicks that Aunt Brenda and Uncle Mike sent when Tillie was born.

She looks like such a big girl with real jeans and shoes on.

As we pinned our race bibs on, I decided that TIllie also needed one so I quick whipped one up and managed to pin it on her without sticking her, and without her eating the paper.

Working out our pre-race jitters.

We nominated Nate to be the all-time stroller pusher. He accepted.

At the end of the race, we enjoyed a massive post-race spread. No joke--we had more and better food than the post-race debacle of the Las Vegas Rock N Roll Half.

Tillie did more snoozing than napping, but I'm pretty sure she is going to be right in there next year racing with the rest of the kidlets in the Cheerios Chase. :)

Friday, May 4, 2012


I'm pretty sure we are at the beginning stages of making Matilda  a weirdo.
Most people play peek-a-boo by covering up their eyes.
We play it by creating a phantom severed head.

I can't even blame Nate. This little trick started way back in January and I would do it when Tillie was taking breaks while nursing. And I would drop my head way back and come up and say: PEEK! And Tillie would giggle.

Good times were had by all.

But NOW, Matilda thinks it is hilarious to do this herself to incite us to play a game with her.
And she likes to do it at the dinner table.
With food in her mouth.

Can anyone say choking hazard?

So it starts like this. Happy girl going about her business, eating her dinner.

Then the head drops back and she waits. And waits and waits.....
 until someone says "Where's Tillie?"

And then once you do, up comes the head...

And we yell: PEEK!

And she claps, and smiles, and puts more food in her mouth.
Safe, no.
Fun, yes.

And sometimes, having fun is what it is all about.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Translation Tuesday: Big Sleep

There are two kinds of sleeps in our house:
Naps and The Big Sleep.

While I realize the 'big sleep' could get confused with the equivalent to a 'dirt nap', they are not the same in this house.

Every night, right before I put Tillie in her crib, I hold her and tell her:
"This is the Big Sleep. The one where you sleep a long time and the Mama and Daddy come and get you when the sun is high up in the sky"

I think she gets it, because unlike her naps, she usually puts in a solid 12 hours.

Although this weekend, she put in some monster naps both days. So much so that I even went into her room while. she. was. sleeping. to check on her.

I realize this doesn't seem all that novel to most of you out there, but we simply do not go in there for fear of waking the sleeping baby. So we just make up images of how cute she probably looks while sleeping.

Well, no images in my head could have matched the true cuteness.

We had always assumed she sucked her two little fingers to get to sleep, but never realized that she actually just sucks her fingers all nap. No wonder they are little prunes when she gets up.

Pretty sure she doesn't suck them for the entire big sleep though...which is good or her fingers would probably mold right off of her hand.