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Archive for February, 2010

Practicin’

Sometimes this guy just makes me laugh.

Sometimes he lets me photograph my laughter.

Sometimes all it takes is a bag of flour being strolled around our apartment for “practice.”  And yes, he made sure the bag of flour was securely harnessed and buckled before take-off.

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Welcome to Saturday morning at our house …

Okay, well, maybe once a month.  The other Saturdays I’m still setting my alarm to jump out of bed and get out the door after shoving a bowl of cereal down my throat.  But every once in a while I like to feel like it can really be Saturday.  And a Saturday is NEVER Saturday without a yummy breakfast treat, due to my childhood spoiling of waking up to pancakes, French toast, or cinnamon rolls. 

(My dad was also known to whisper in my ear, “Kelley, wake up.  We’re having cinnamon rolls,” when in fact NO cinnamon rolls were to be found because he’s like that sometimes.  The disappointment in such memories is still palpable.)

But these aren’t cinnamon rolls.  They aren’t at all.  They require a lot less effort and might impress your Saturday socks off even a bit more.  These are based off of the Blackberry Blintzes they serve at my favorite Idaho Sunday brunch place.  I’ve got no recipe for them, but I’m confident you can spin them together just as I did.  So here’s what you need:

Crepes!  Pull out your favorite recipe and go to work.  Maybe one of these days I’ll post my favorite, easy, match conversion crepe recipe that works to feed 1, 3, or 30. 

Blackberry Sauce:

Blackberries
Cornstarch
Sugar
Water
Lemon juice/zest

Toss the berries with about ½ T. of cornstarch.  Then throw everything in a sauce pan together.  Let it burble down until the berries are saucy.  You can let it go longer for more sauce, less chunks or take it off sooner to preserve more berry pieces.  Just take and make sure you have enough sugar and enough lemon zip to make this sauce bright.  I know you can do it!

Filling:

Ricotta or cottage cheese: Choose your weapon of choice.  I prefer the texture of cottage cheese but others prefer ricotta.  Both work.  Both are used in different traditional blintz recipes.  If you have one on hand, go for it.
Sugar
Vanilla
Lemon zest

Okay, so put your cheese of choice into a blender or food processor and whir until it’s more smooth.  Add the other ingredients, going light on the sugar and tasting along the way.  Whir together again.  Taste and whir until you like it.  The filling should not be overly sweet as it will have the blackberry sauce and in my house, maple syrup on top of that!

So I think you can figure out how to put these together.  Run about 1 T. of cheese filling down the center of the crepe, roll up, and spoon the sauce over top.  Serve with maple syrup for those of us who just find it necessary on any type of breakfast item.

*And okay, if someone really wants it, I might get less lazy and give you some better proportion guidelines.

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Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day didn’t feel a whole lot different than most other days this year.  We got back from Lake Geneva just in time to have our friends Jarrett and Catherine over for lunch and mentoring.  Then we headed out the door to our fifth birth class where we learned about some good comfort measures and partner work for labor, as well as all about what happens in a C-section.  After that we had the night to ourselves but had no desire to head back out for something fancy.  So I brought just a little bit of romantic cheer to our night with some fun appetizers to share together so we could have a cozy night in.

Baked Brie with Mixed Berry Preserves in Puff Pastry

St. Louis Toasted Ravioli with Marinara

And chocolate covered strawberries

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Lake Geneva

This weekend we did a very mini-getaway to Lake Geneva with Eric and Em.  We really like going out of town with them, getting to do something different, and having quality time together, but it’s hard to come by with 4 schedules to coordinate and one 3-year-old to find care for.  But we were determined to make it happen one last time before that number turns into one 3-year-old and 2 newborns between the four of us.

It wasn’t a well-planned trip, as I’ve noticed my decision-making skills and motivation to do research have gone out the window sometime during the 8th month of pregnancy, but it was fun nonetheless.  We stopped at a burger joint for lunch and then did the requisite small town shopping including ice cream and fudge sampling.  I spent more time in toy stores than I never have before with Eric and Em and they spent more time in a kitchen gadget store than I imagine they ever have because of me.  We all came away with goodies.  We also stopped at a foodie store with lots of dips, spreads, and wines to sample.  Sometimes I love the little things in life!  We gave the wine guy quite the task in trying to find a wine that all 4 of us approved of and had sampled every selection by the end.  Emily also tried to convince him that a pregnant belly was proof enough that she was over 21 and didn’t need to be carded.  He thought she was signaling that she wouldn’t be trying the wine.  We ended up with a bottle that we’ll save until we can celebrate non-pregnancy and two new babes with an official toast.  We also saw snow sculptures left over from a competition, but more importantly to note is the fact that Em managed to break a shelf in a store when she decided to try to make a seat out of it.  The lady promised that this happened quite regularly and had nothing to do with pregnancy weight.

Though we had all imagined a nice, sit down dinner at a trendy restaurant, this was not to be found.  Everything with any sort of atmosphere was booked until 9pm … which wasn’t going to work with our current appetites.  So we settled for a generic pizza joint and laughed and talked nonetheless.  Our consolation prize was a trip to the grocery store to pick up mini ice cream candy bars and frankly, they were a great consolation prize as we devoured through them.  To cap the night off Em was gracious enough to fulfill my one request of the weekend: to get into the pool and swim.  I imagine one pregnant woman in a bikini would get a number of stares, but two was almost too much for people to handle.  It’s also strange when the 50-year-old woman in the hot tub next to you is giving you body envy at the moment.  There was definitely some giggling and embarrassment accompanying this portion of the evening.  (There will NOT be pictures of this.)  But let me tell you, the water felt great and when I came out my body felt better than it has in a month!

The next morning we woke up and had a yummy, satisfying breakfast at a little cafe, including fresh-squeezed strawberry orange juice, swedish pancakes with lingonberries, and Nate’s favorite: biscuits and gravy.  Then we got into the car to head back to the city, during which I felt more nauseous than I have this entire pregnancy and we had a near emergency on the road when I started to lose my breakfast and almost made Em, who was sitting beside me, do the same.  The car ride ended with possibly my favorite quote I have ever heard out of Eric, though he has many great ones: “Sometimes you get the snake with poison.”

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Potato Mash

Nothing like a big bowl ’o’mash … with a generous sprinkling of bleu cheese and toasted walnuts throughout.

No recipe needed.  Just a husband who doesn’t mind peeling and chopping and working the new pressure cooker.  Lumpy or creamy, the mashed potato preference is up to you.  Just make sure you add the cheese and walnuts just before serving.

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Relaxin

* a rant encouraged by Nate.

Nope.  I’m not talking about relaxing.  I’m talking about “relaxin,” this chemical that starts working its magic the minute you get pregnant and just continues to infuse your whole body the further along you get.  So I get that this chemical is what makes it possible for all of my hip and pelvic joints to loosen up in a way that they never have before.  Relaxin is part of the miracle of getting my body ready to loosen in a way it NEVER has before.

Well, tonight I HATE relaxin.  I just broke my second glass in 3 days.  What I wanted was nothing more than a warm bath and a book in bed.  Instead I’m cleaning up glass shards again.  I know I’ve broken at least 3 total since Christmas alone.  And it’s all thanks to relaxin, that wonderful, joint-loosening chemical that causes not only my pelvic muscles to become loose, but also my hand muscles, finger muscles and everything else.  I was never that coordinated of a person.  I’ve been known to round many a corner to sharp and end up in the doorway instead of on the other side.  But I’ve never been this bad!

Glasses aren’t the only thing I drop, they’re just possibly the most annoying … especially when they are full of water and you end up trying to clean shards and wipe water at the same time.   People hand me papers that I think I’ve got a grasp on and they fall straight through my hands.  Then I bend (and groan) to pick them up and out my fingers they slip yet again when I’m halfway back up.  It happens over and over.  I drop a lot of things off my bed at night, including my alarm and my water bottle.  Unfortunately, these make a bit more noise than paper and often wake my “neighbor.”

So tonight while I’m hating relaxin I’m just going to say 1. I will be really glad to have my previous level of clumsiness back post-pregnancy and 2. Nate’s secretly glad that I keep dropping glasses because he never liked them much to begin with and 3.  Don’t plan on me serving dinner for 12 anytime soon because even between the short and tall glasses in the set, I don’t think we could rummage up 12 any longer.

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Sandwich Friday has managed to go the way of the wind, since our life has turned to total scheduling mayhem. Every week looks different, every week seems booked solid, every week we are too rushed to run out the door on time to have a well-planned meal. Fortunately this week Sandwich Monday (which doesn’t really exist) was in effect. And this was a sandwich worth a Monday night in.

I managed to finally cook this chicken perfectly; still juicy and tender on the inside with a nice layer of slight caramelization on the crust. This is something that has eluded me lately as I’ve rushed through the dinner-making process. Having it done right this time reminded me that it’s worth the extra attention for the end flavor result. Badly cooked chicken is just bad.

I know there is a whole contingency of people out there who are against “pungent” cheese, but I pretend they don’t exist. Blue or gorgonzola cheese can never go wrong on a sandwich, in my opinion. What makes this sandwich unique is the contrast that the sweetened fig jam provides against the salty cheese. (I actually had some leftover balsamic fig preserves which worked deliciously). And then the bite of the arugula that has been dipped in lemon juice for arugula is a warranted finishing touch.

Chicken Panini with Fig Jam, Arugula, and Blue Cheese
Taken from loveandoliveoil.com.  Recipe from Cooking Light.
Makes 4 servings.

1/4 cup fig jam
1 (8-ounce) ciabatta, cut lengthwise
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese or gorgonzola cheese
2 tablespoons butter, softened
8 ounces sliced or shredded cooked chicken breast
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups arugula leaves
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Spread jam over cut side of top half of bread. Combine cheese and butter in a bowl, stirring until smooth (if using goat cheese, skip this step). Spread cheese mixture over cut side of bottom half of bread. Arrange chicken evenly over cheese mixture; sprinkle with pepper. Place top half of bread, jam side down, over chicken.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add sandwich to pan. Place a heavy cast-iron skillet on sandwich; cook 5 minutes or until both sides are browned, turning once.

Place arugula in a bowl. Drizzle juice over arugula; toss gently. Remove top bread half from sandwich. Arrange arugula mixture over chicken. Replace top bread half. Cut sandwich into 4 equal portions.

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