Archive for category food

Pizza Play: delicious, fun and did I say delicious?

When I’m not blogging or busy running after Jack all day, I’ve been brainstorming ideas for articles to write and pitch.  One topic that’s of interest is, kids and healthier eating habits.  Food has always been a focal point in regards to my interests in parenting, particularly because I have the worst eating habits.  THE worst.

This year (like every other new year) Jeff and I have vowed to eat healthier.  And hey, if we lose weight in the process, score!  But ideally, we’re hoping to refine our eating habits so that they’ll influence Jack to make healthier choices on his own.

Now that Jack’s old enough to “pretend,” he’s been loving to play-cook.  Clearly, we don’t have the room for a play kitchen, but I had the grand idea to let him help me make pizza, or as he calls it, “Patzi.”  I know pizza isn’t the healthiest food, but a smaller portion with healthy sides is decent compromise.

And since we’ve been cooped up for the most part because of the cold and rain, “playing pizza” was a fun activity and fun way to prepare lunch.

Jack loved putting on an apron, though I should totally make him one in his own size.  One day…
IMG_4653

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Restaurants are no place for your outside voice

It’s Friday already?  Where has the week gone?  All in all, my birthday week, just like the day itself, was quiet (far from peaceful) and super-productive.  Even though it’s mainly the boys and me everyday, I am so glad I was wrong about friends and family “forgetting” me.

My entire family called me on Tuesday.  My brothers, most certainly coerced by my parents, BOTH called me before noon.  Not text, not FB message, but physically called me—like on the phone!

That, my friends, was huge.

Even though I’m sure they were reminded by my parents and by Facebook, I have to say, I was quite touched by that.  My phone’s caller id rarely sees their numbers as “incoming.”  So, a big thank you to the family for helping me divert the whole woe-is-me-everyone-forgot-me drama a la Molly Ringwald.

Birthdays, though not as spectacular anymore, are wonderful reminders of how much you’re truly loved, no matter how busy you’ve been or how far you live.

Thank you for loving me so much, family and friends.

**

The boys and I had dinner at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants—the kind where you bring your own booze and they happily swirl and swish your cheapish wine to make Sangria.  It was just as divine as the guacamole they made at the table.  (My guac is never as good as theirs! I need to get one of their 10-lb. mortar and pestles just to recreate that deliciousness!)

Jack was well behaved, which was a treat in of itself.  He chowed on tortillas and close to a pound of sour cream—no lie.  And that right there, is proof that our child, as of late, is on a strict condiment and fruit binge. Only. Not necessarily together, though he’s known to experiment with apples in ranch.  (barf)

As for us, our dinners were nice, but we were completely annoyed by the very loud outside talker who sat next to us.  Mind you, the local restaurants are quaint and tables literally have 1.5 inches in between them to maximize space.  So basically, we sit ON TOP of each other, like butt-to-butt with the next table.  Well, almost.  So, when this 6-top of babyfaced 20-somethings sat next to us, from my peripheral vision, I could see the horror from Jeff’s face, complete with his signature subtle headshake.

And the girl, (who graduated from Penn and who was apparently in advertising, but was interviewing for a new job and her aunt works at Wegman’s and who hung out at this bar downtown last Friday…) did NOT stop talking.  AT ALL.  She laced her one-sided conversation to the 5 other kids with a lot of Ohmigawds and F-bombs, just loud enough so our sponge of a toddler could pad his vocabulary with obscenities, in between shoveling the sour cream of course.

I looked at Jeff and asked, “Were we ever that annoying?”

He reinforced the unfortunate truth:  “Oh, completely.  Probably even more obnoxious and annoying.”

But, all I could think was, “God, these kids suck for being so damn loud.”

If I had one, I’m sure I’d be screaming for them to get off my lawn, too.

And that is the day I became a grumpy old lady.  And to think, the Sangria took the edge off!?

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Precursor to summer and sweet treats

City festivals, long neighborhood strolls and carefree days are just a few of the many highlights of the weekend and hopefully a precursor of what’s to come this summer.

TimeOut New York Kids Fest
On Saturday, we spent the afternoon in the City at the Time Out New York Kids Fest which took place at Madison Square Park, just a block away from my old office.  It was whole city block of kids upon kids, music, sweet treats and strollers galore– Maclaren actually had a stroller parking lot, there were so many stroller!  It was such a wonderful venue for the family-friendly event, but of course, I’m totally biased in saying that considering that same park served as my refuge for so many lunch hours.

Stroller Parking
Besides the awesome music, Jack loved interacting with all the kids; it was pure heaven.  If he wasn’t stomping on the latest outdoor art installation, Flooded Chamber Maid, or perfecting his escape artist techniques, he was snatching toys out of unsuspecting kids’ hands.

Jack checking out the art installation

Ok, maybe not snatching, but when a boy next to him at the sand box was in the process of setting down a toy truck, Jack took it upon himself to call it his own.  He’s a feisty toddler that knows what he wants and like most toddlers this age, he has no boundaries.  And yes, that feisy-ness often elicits a lot of “I’m so sorry” to other moms.  But this time, before I could mouth “I’m so…” the mother of the other boy preempted my apology and quickly wagged her finger in Jack’s face, said “no-no” and snatched the toy truck back.

Oh no, lady.  Are you for real? haha.

I’m all about correcting my own kid to teach him right from wrong, but if anybody needed to learn a little playground etiquette, it was her.

sandboxlots of construction workers

After I mumbled a few choice words, I was over it and so, we danced some more.
And boy, did we dance.

Appleseeds, the very cool NYC indoor playground facility, provided the music group that Jack loved so much, in addition to the sandboxes, toys, art area, and “construction area.”  I personally oggled over Skip Hop’s booth, which displayed so many new fun things, namely the Wishbone bike and Zoo Packs.  If you’ve been to our home, you’d know I can’t get enough of Skip Hop baby and kid gear–you’d think the products were for me.  (Don’t be surprised if you see a Skip Hop post over on NKT soon!)

Build it, break it, fix it
Skip Hop stroller/luggage tagSkip Hop

Speaking of oggling, we found more goodies under the Treats Truck tent, where they were giving away free treats.  Delicious and free!

We waited a few minutes in line to get our goodies; I chose chocolate chip cookies (yum). And when it was Jeff’s turn to choose, he said, “nope, I’m good.” Uh, no you’re not ;) He ended up getting a Rice Krispies treat.

And when I say he, I mean me.

Ok and Jack too.

EATThe Treats Truck

After our delicious free treats, we had lunch down the block at BRGR, which, by the way, I highly recommend.  All natural burgers from grass-fed beef and sweet potato fries.  It was like the weekend of delicious food.

After a day of kiddie fun and delicious treats, it was time to head back home.  We were all pooped from our day in the city, but it was time well spent.  The real sweet summer treats will always involve no major plans, no real stressors and the freedom to do whatever, whenever.  I love summer, but truly, I live for the weekend when it’s just the three of us.

Sweet treat, indeed.

love that water fountain

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apple vs. ball

Perhaps you might remember this photo I took when we visited the Children’s Museum of Manhattan with my cousin?

Lovely

Yeah, about that…it’s coming into fruition now.  I’m not sure about every two hours, but in the last few days, we’ve noticed Jack’s vocabulary flourish.  From the usual “mama” to the annoying “noooo” to the more important, “cooookie?,” Jack is well on his way to becoming just as loquacious as his dad.

Earlier in the week, everything round was either a ball or an apple.  A bagel?  Yeah, that was a ball.  An orange?  That was clearly an apple.  But after a few days of bribing and quizzing, by gosh, I think we’ve got it!

Oh, and don’t mind me snatching the apple out of his hand and treating him like a show pony.  He ate that apple with pride and of course threw it like a ball when he was done.

Peeps, it’s the small victories that fuel our days.

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All day buffet and the 18m growth spurt

I was planning a thorough developmental update to coincide with Jack turning 18 months in just a few short days, but considering I’ve had to stop everything I was doing every hour ON the hour, almost every day for the past week, I can’t help but wonder, ‘what the hell is going on!?‘ To be a little more specific, Jack and I get up between 6-7am every day. Before I even sit up out of bed, I can see my child signing “eat,” in synchronicity with Jeff’s alarm. If I’m not up fast enough, the signs quickly morph into a more demanding, “Mama, UP! UP, MAMA, UP!

Coffee isn’t even made before I start the boy’s breakfast. First course: Banana and milk. Before I can even pour water into the coffee maker, he’s swallowed the banana whole and tries to hand the banana peel through the safety gate into the kitchen. And this is how the current all-day eating binge begins.

More, pleaseIt wasn’t always like this. Actually, up until a few weeks ago, his eating patterns were so predictable: 3 meals and 2 snacks that were eaten, not inhaled. His meals are usually whatever I’m eating–nothing too crazy. Fruit and cereal for breakfast, pasta or leftovers for lunch and dinner always varies, from baked chicken to beef tenderloin to fishsticks on Fridays. 9 times out of 10, he eats the entire meal and often asks for seconds when Jeff eats his dinner. Now, it seems like he eats 4 meals and snacks all day. When I say snacks, I push the healthy stuff: fruit, yogurt and cereal, with animal crackers and flavored ricecakes as “treats.”

I’m cautiously optimistic when I think this, but the kid is a good eater…for now. But this good eating routine has gone into overdrive lately. As if the sickness and sleeplessness from a few weeks ago didn’t slow us down enough, once all that is done, we’re onto the all-day eating buffet. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining that he’s a decent eater or that he’s healthy and continues to grow like a weed. I’m just trying to wrap my brain around this current phase and the constant eating and the nonstop signing for ‘more.’ When I say constant, I truly mean that. This phase reminds me of his many infant growth spurts and the cluster feedings, but instead of nursing, I’m constantly dishing crackers, cutting fruit and wiping sticky fingers! If he’s hungry and I’m too slow for his liking, I can see him in my peripheral vision plucking crumbs out of the newly vacuumed carpet or finding crackers that he’s hidden in his toybox. ewwww.

And then it occurred to me, he hasn’t really grown that much in the past few months, so this must be a major growth spurt. After a little digging, it looks like I’m definitely not alone.
I haven’t noticed the physical outcome of this so-called growth spurt yet. But seriously, at 29 lbs how much bigger can he get?

Oh, and don’t be fooled: the all day buffet is just a small source of our exhaustion/my fast track to insanity. More on the defiant, Mr. Independent, Captain Destructor, curious little lovebug later. It’s time to eat AGAIN.

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32 Candles


Happy Birthday!

Originally uploaded by jen_rab

Yesterday, we quietly celebrated Jeff’s birthday. In honor of my beloved’s 32nd birthday, after our power naps, Jack and I went shopping for our feast. I decided to make prime rib with a horseradish and dill sauce (very reminiscent to Outback’s recipe) with some delicious sides. If I say so myself, though late, dinner turned out awesome. As did the cupcakes!

Because he’s not a sweets fan, it’s always hard finding a recipe that appeals to the birthday boy. Finally, after lots of searching, I found an awesome recipe for vanilla cupcakes, which just so happens to be the very funny Amy Sedaris‘ recipe. After even more scouring, I found a recipe for “light” buttercream frosting (as light as a cup of butter and many cups of sugar can be…) that also turned out pretty damn good. After the kid went to bed, the night was capped with the latest episodes of Lost, some Johnny Walker, MIller Lites and a few more cupcakes. We’ll be doing a little more celebrating this weekend, but the simple celebration with just the 3 of us, was just right…

Happy Birthday to a really wonderful husband and father!

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Another almost-snowy weekend

It was another cold and blustery weekend with plenty of snow storm warnings and preparation, but alas, no snow storm was found—at least in our neighborhood.  Before the “storm” arrived, the three of us ventured over to Helmers for lunch and had a nice and hearty lunch. With no surprise, Jack’s fondness for spaetzle has grown as big as his appetite!  Just as we were leaving the restaurant, the snow started to fall.  We ended up with an inch and a half of the white stuff, but not nearly enough to satiate our craving for “one good snow storm.”

Even though we didn’t get ALL the snow the weather people predicted, we woke up on Sunday with icy conditions.  The three of us went out for a nice and cold walk, but it was a bit too slippery to really enjoy–everything was iced over.  From the sounds of it, the frozen weather isn’t going anywhere any time soon.  It looks like we’ve got even colder weather ahead of us this week.

Stay warm, all.

snow day

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Pearls of wisdom, the vacation edition

From our recent vacation, we came away not only with a mountain of toys, but also many more pearls of wisdom.  (chuckle)
So instead of another long, drawn-out post about all the happenings, I thought these thoughts deserved bullet points.

1.  When there was only 2 of us, there was never enough time to do/see everything we wanted.  With 3 of us, we don’t even have time to THINK about all those things, never mind actually do them.
2.  You know those little kiddie luggage that say, “visiting Grandma and Grandpa,”  I’m going to get one and cross it out and write: “Going to Lolo and Lola’s.  What Jackson wants, Jackson gets.”
3.  In all seriousness, sleeping in is bliss.  An extra 2 sets of hands is even more bliss.
4.  All that sleeping bliss on vacation translates into interrupted toddler sleeping pattern post-vacation.  Bliss was shortlived–we’re BACK to square one in the sleeping through the night crusade. (sigh)
5.  Once upon a time, when we visited home, we hit many bars in a weekend.  In 2 weeks, we saw 2 bars, for less than 2 hours each.  If New Year’s Eve was really reserved for amateurs, these old partying vets stayed in pjs–by choice.  Funny how times change.
6.  Watching the kid interact with his grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousin induced fuzzy feelings and painted-on grins.
Jack learned a new “trick.”  He would grab any unsuspecting person by a singular finger to drag them to the next room to do something mommy usually outlawed.  More fuzzy feelings.
7.  Speaking of fuzzy feelings, my brother introduced us to Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka.  Mmmm vodka.  mmmm sweet tea.  Sweet Tea Vodka is delicious, just ask my husband.
8.  Even after all these years of living away, like all most of our old haunts, our favorite Mexican restaurant never gets old.  I think we ate there 4 different times while we were home.  Wondering if they deliver to Hoboken, NJ.  (It’s so ironic that we both worked [and reconnected] at a now-defunct Mexican restaurant chain)
9.  Trading in our old car for the new was a lot of work.  God bless Jeff for doing the grunt work and for dad’s help, too!
10.  Contrary to what many believe, our new sedan IS much more spacious than a small SUV and much more fuel efficient–to the tune of 28 mpg vs.19.  Big difference for a family that can easily burn through 100k miles in 4 years.
10.  Needless to say, good times with family and friends rock, but getting back to our regular routine is healthy.
11.  As hard as it is to say good bye, it makes going back home for a visit that much more special.
12.  Unpacking after said long trip is impossible.  (Wondering if I could keep bags packed until next visit.)

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Shrapnel: it’s what’s (not) for dinner

Since I’ve been home, I’ve been trying to hone my domestic savviness, so I’ve been watching a lot of Rachel and Martha.  Now that commuting is no longer a daily marathon, I have the time to actually cook meals that take longer than 30 minutes or better yet, NOT delivered via speed dial.

A few Friday nights ago, in lieu of our usual large “pie,” I set my heart on cooking the perfect chicken–a roasted chicken with thyme recipe that won rave reviews from my 2 critics.  I followed the recipe, set the chicken in the large 13×9 Pyrex dish and popped it into the preheated oven.  I did a few dishes while the chicken cooked and then had an afterthought.  I grabbed the 8 lb. ginormous bag of carrots out of the fridge (we heart Costco) and grabbed a handful to throw in the dish.  Then I had another ingenious idea–or so I thought.

From a recent Martha blogpost, there was a great recommendation on freezing extra chicken broth in muffin pans.  Ding, ding–I could add chicken broth to the bottom of the dish to roast the carrots.  I shoved the chicken back in the oven and defrosted my chicken broth.  Once it was all defrosted and ready to go, I pulled the chicken back out.  I started to pour the chicken broth into the Pyrex pan, and as the first droplet hit the scorching hot pan, Friday night dinner exploded.
Freaking exploded!
While the chicken itself stayed in tact, glass shards sprayed in every direction of our tiny little kitchen.  All I could do was stand there, hand over mouth, thinking “holeeeee shit!”

It took a few minutes for things to register, but once I realized that my Pyrex pan reallly just exploded, I peeked around the corner to make sure Jack was unharmed.  Thank goodness for child safety gates!  Mama was in total shock but the kid was safe gnawing on his shoe on the other side of the room.

I started to sweep up the unrecognizable pieces of the pan that were spread in every direction, as I kept trying to understand what happened.

I’ll admit, I had a lapse in judgement by adding the cooler temp of the broth to the hot pan; however, though things went awry, dinner shouldn’t be a life threatening event.  At least not when I’m in the kitchen!

Fall weekendBroken chicken

After grieving the loss of a delicious dinner, of course I did a little bit of digging.

It turns out, my dinner explosion wasn’t a first.  in fact, according to Consumeraffairs.com,

300 complaints filed by ConsumerAffairs.com readers detail frightening stories of these dishes spontaneously shattering during temperature changes, propelling scalding glass shards and food 15 feet or more, sending some consumers to the hospital with tendon and nerve damage and serious burns and leaving others with property damage and, at the very least, a ruined dinner and a huge mess in their kitchen.

holeeeee shit!

Moral of the story, folks– do not, I repeat, do not make sudden temperature changes when using glass pans.

I have to conclude this tale of jackassery by reinforcing the fact that I like Pyrex products, even if I I do blow things up.  I use many of my Pyrex pans, dishes and measuring cups daily.  Their products, I’m sure, are a staple in many other kitchens as well.  If you haven’t seen them on tv, magazines or online, it turns out World Kitchen, the parent company of Pyrex and Corningware, among other brands, is celebrating their 50th anniversary.  Together with that milestone, the company has some new ads out targeting women like me– young women between the ages of 25 and 34 who are settling down, “nesting up and ready to wine and dine their friends.”

They have great products, but obviously, they work best when you’re being safe.  The company has various disclaimers and instructions on their site for proper usage of their products.  Learn from me, do yourself a favor and use common sense.  Oh, and for what it’s worth, I made that delicious roasted chicken tonight and it was shrapnel-free!

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Table-less and disaster-less, well sort of

It’s day four over at the blog party, which is sponsored by Bottlewise and Glow Mama. Today’s question is,
What is your favorite Holiday recipe, describe your Holiday table, biggest holiday cooking disaster?

Because I’ve always been a guest, rather than the host, I don’t have any major holiday cooking disaster stories, or a Holiday Table…or a table at all for that matter.  We don’t have a dishwasher, washing machine or driveway, either.  We’re city folk (and not the uber rich kind), remember?  So, I have no centerpieces to share or  major disasters for you to laugh at, either.

Oh, wait!  I did have a recent cooking disaster!  I accidentally blew up dinner—oops!  I’ll have to post about that.  But first, let’s talk about some delicious treats.

I love to bake and actually try to bake as much as possible before Christmas.  I love giving baked goods to neighbors and good friends.  The holidays just aren’t the same without a variety of home-baked goods!

So, here is one of my favorite recipes ever.  And you know, because all baked goods should include booze :)
Lookingalotlikechristmas 010

White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies
Yields: 24 servings

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon brandy

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries

1.     Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
2.     In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and brandy. Combine the flour and baking soda; stir into the sugar mixture. Mix in the white chocolate chips and cranberries. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets.
3.     Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. For best results, take them out while they are still doughy. Allow cookies to cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.


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