Dinner @ 226 - Onion Soup & Prosciutto Sandwiches

For the past three Valentine's Days, those that we have either been expecting a baby or had a baby (or two), we have stayed in. But, we have made a sweet little tradition of having a very adult, low-key dinner long after the kids have gone to bed. There is always wine and beer and the 10 o'clock dinnertime is a pleasant reminder of our life outside of our children. A reminder that we mustn't always stick to the schedule. We mustn't always eat as a family. It is important (especially in mama's head) to make that the norm but it is also important to break free from the norm... and have some wine and super late dinners.

For the past few years we have ordered in sushi. And I didn't want to screw with that formula. Both of us love it. It is something we aren't yet able to share with the kids.* And, after finding our new favorite Thai restaurant, where they serve up steaming bowls of the best coconut soup, we are never disappointed by dinner. So, we did that and we were both in wasabi heaven. That was Saturday night.

On Friday night, however, I felt compelled to make him something from me. On the little special dates that pepper our calendar, I almost always give Jason something de la cuisine. I almost always pick something he loves but has never had its homemade better half. This time it was Onion Soup, which he loves and orders exclusively at Panera. Sorry Panera, I don't think we'll be back for the onion soup. I've got you beat(by a million). The only noises in our house for at least 30minutes were smacking lips and clinking spoons. This soup is fantastic and eons better than any you've ever had at a restaurant.

It was the perfect night. We were snowed in with Julia Child's Onion Soup, my ham and cheese, plenty of wine and beer, blankets, and the beginning of a Dexter marathon. Why didn't anyone tell me that show was so freaking good? And, why did I wait so long to make onion soup? Don't be a fool. Go make it.

Onion Soup from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Simone Beck, and Louisette Bertholle
Serves 6 to 8, Julia says. Jason and Whitney say it serves 2, max. No, we did have leftovers, but errrr... not much.

While I'm not suggesting kids wouldn't eat this soup, I'm not sure its simplicity would be aptly appreciated. It's perfect for a light (and late) dinner for two, especially with a ham sandwich, like I describe below. The onions take a while to develop the flavor that creates the base for the soup, so you don't want to skimp on the caramelization time. Make sure you can block off about three hours for this soup, but don't fret... only about thirty minutes of it are active cooking time.

1 1/2 lbs. or about 5 cups of thinly sliced yellow onions
3 T butter
1 t salt
1/4 t sugar
3 T flour
2 quarts beef broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the onions with the butter and oil in a covered saucepan (I used a stockpot) for 15 minutes, over medium-low heat. Uncover, raise the heat to medium, and stir in salt and sugar. Cook the onions for 30 to 40 minutes stirring frequently, until the onions have turned an even, deep, golden brown. While the onions are caramelizing, pour the broth into a separate saucepan and bring to a boil. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir for 3 minutes.

Remove the onions from the heat and add the boiling liquid. Add the wine, and season to taste. Simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 minutes more, skimming occasionally. Carefully taste and correct seasoning. I diluted my soup with some (about 3 cups) water to mellow it out a little. I used boxed broth, which already has salt in it. So, be cautious with adding salt if you are using canned or boxed broth.

The master recipe gives you four or five options of how to serve the soup, so many, it gets almost a little confusing. This is how we did it.

2 slices of day old, crusty bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
A few slices of good cheese. We used Gruyere, it would also be good with Swiss or Parmesan

Toss the bread cubes with a little olive oil and salt. Put them in a 400 degree oven for 5-10 minutes, or until lightly golden. Set two (or however many you're serving) soup bowls on a baking sheet. Ladle the Onion Soup into soup bowls. Drop in a few croutons. Cover with slices of cheese and put the baking sheet back into the oven, set to Broil, for 4 or 7 minutes, or until the cheese looks bubbly and slightly charred in spots.

If you're hungry people like us, serve these little sandwiches alongside. If not, the soup is beyond satisfying on its own.

Open faced Prosciutto Sandwiches
Tear off a hunk of baguette, depending on how big you want your sandwich to be. slice it in half horizontally. Layer each side with 1T Dijon mustard, a few slices of Gruyere, and a few slices of prosciutto. Place the sandwiches, face up, on the baking sheet with the soup for the broiling phase.

Don't slurp too loud peeps, it's not ladylike.

*When can you give a kid sushi or am I just being paranoid about 2 year olds and raw fish and being up all night with a salmonella-stricken toddler and puke-stained pajamas and 3am hospital trips and, and, and...

For your completely unrelated viewing pleasure, our resident Smooth Criminal.


my view.

Someday, I'll miss this. Someday he won't want to be held or kept close. Someday he won't be intrigued by the falling snow. Someday his wispy hair won't tickle my lips. Someday the top of his head won't smell like vanilla extract.

But, for right now, this is my view and I love it.


happy valentine's day (3 days late)

Our day started out with heart-shaped pancakes and rasberry syrup. I'm now wondering, can a day go poorly after that? I've been on the search for the perfect pancake and this one came very, very close. I made them with a mix of cake flour and whole wheat flour because that is what I had in the cabinet. I never dreamed I would like the nuttiness of whole wheat flour in a pancake but they were outstanding. I think I'll keep trying recipes, though. Why? Because I am a very, very strange lady. If you have any secret family pancake recipes, please share. I'm a girl on a mission!

Buddha delivered our gifts and was, himself mama's Valentine's Day gift... to myself. Gah, he makes me endlessly happy.

He brought peanut M&Ms.

He also brought balloons...

and recorders, and microphones. He's a good man.

Our resident clown didn't disappoint in the entertainment category.

Although we all thought his consistency could use a little tune-up.

So, Beckett took over and received a standing ovation for his efforts. He is assertive, this one.

A steamy music video was filmed by two up and coming screen sirens. The raw emotion is palpable, agreed?

There was a whole lot of Buddha love. Beckett gave him three thousand kisses, none of which I was quick enough to capture on camera. Shucks.

I guess there was a whole lot of love, in general. Hooray. Hope you had a love-filled Valentine's Day.

P.S. Check out Jason's kicks. Those were his V-Day gift from me. Pretty studly, right? Even better if I told you I got them (Lacoste) from Marshall's for $30. Another "hooray" is in order. I also got him a badass OXO watering can. I think you're officially old and washed-up when you refer to a watering can as "badass." I just did. This post is SO over.

P.S.S. As long as we're on the subject of hearts, I am really wanting to purchase this pillow. Or, this one. But the first one gives me butterflies.

Dinner @ 226 - Cod with Leeks and Cherry Tomatoes

As I've touched on before, I don't believe in dietary restrictions. I hated the way I felt when I sat down for dinner while on a diet, filled with anxiety. "I can have two spoon fulls of that pasta and only one-third of that parmesean crusted steak." The dieter's mind is always calculating, constantly negotiating, and never full. Now, I only believe in eating seasonal, eating organic, eating local, and eating balanced. The first three we stick to as much as we can (afford) but the last one we live by. I refuse to say, "no carbs," "no fat," "no calories," "no sugar." I want my children to always have a positive attitude towards food. I want it to be a celebration. I want them to appreciate good nutrition and full bellies.

The way I tend to manage our nutrition? Balance. If we have a heavy pasta dish, it will be the only one in a seven day span. If I just have to try a new pork tenderloin recipe, we won't see another piece of heavy meat for days. We try to eat fish at least two nights a week because it lightens up a meal (without removing the protein completely) and I want to encourage my kids to like seafood (yes, I have very strange parenting priorities.) Along with these meat-centric dinners we also have vegetarian meals twice a week.

I don't do diets. To me, diets are like rules, so restricting and uncomfortable. I have tried them before, many times, and it has never looked good on me. I grew up in a LOW-FAT household. All of our dairy products were low-fat or fat-free, even cheese. Our snacks were always of the diet variety and there was never a stick of real butter to be found. Those days are gone. If you eat in balance, I believe you can have everything you want and you certainly don't need to torture yourself with the dry, waxy unnatural-ness that is NONFAT CHEDDAR, bleh. If you are trying to live a more healthful life (be it a New Year's resolution, or a post-Valentine's Day slim-down), I implore you - eat in balance. Here's a lovely light meal that my family enjoys on a regular basis, when we're (I'm) feeling a little... heavier.

Cod with Leeks & Cherry Tomatoes - Martha Stewart: Every Day Food

I have used tilapia and cod, both were good. The flavor that really stands out in this dinner is the lemon. The zest and juice mingle with the leeks and tomatoes and create a bright and citrusy broth. The vegetables are like a built-in side item, all there in that one baking dish. And, it's a nice fresh and light change in the midst of heavy braises and winter stews. Of course we can't ever be overly healthful so mama broiled a few baguette rounds, rubbed them with garlic and then sprinkled them with fresh grated parmesean and sea salt. They sopped up the broth beautifully.

Need some help prepping leeks?
1) Slice the leeks into 1/2 inch rounds, or whatever is suggested by the recipe.
2) Place rounds in your largest mixing bowl. Shoosh them around with your fingertips for a minute or so, being careful to separate the rounds.

3) Wait a few minutes while the sand and dirt settles to the bottom of the bowl. Using a strainer, or your hands, pull the leeks off the water's surface and place them on a paper towel to drain.

4) If you find there is a lot of grit in the bottom of your bowl, you may want to rinse out the bowl and repeat the process.



I leave.

For one second.

To get the laundry out of the dryer.

When I return, I am greeted by Ms. Hawaiian Tropics, 2010.

As it turns out, no one enjoys mid-February pasty legs, not even a naked two year old. Yes, she took care of the disrobing and the application in a record three minutes time. An afternoon bath ensued.

p.s. There was also some Bath & Body Works lip gloss purchesed circa 1998 in the mix.

flour & child - gift box

This gift box was purchased by a client who is leaving for California and her sweet, sweet parents are watching her two children for FOUR days. I repeat, FOUR days. Well, heck yeah they need to paid in hand baked goodness!! It was a gift of appreciation AND maybe just a tiny bribery tool for the grandparents to use right before they rip out all of their hair! (Her kids are almost exactly the same age as mine...so, I feel like I can make these kinds of speculations.)

Anyway, she knows how to put together a tasty gift box. I wanted to keep it, but alas, I had to give it up. It was for the good of the kids... and the grandparents! She chose:

Coconut Macaroons with Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache

Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Chips

Salted Chocolate Caramels

Homemade Oreos - Oh, her kids are going to be angelic with one of these swinging in front of their cute little faces.

She also got the cinnamon buns for her dad, who apparently loves them. Well, he's going to love these. You pick them up unbaked, put them in the oven on the morning of your choice and delve into some warm, handmade, iced, cinnamon deliciousness. Yep, I should have kept these. Yum.

Have fun in Cali, you two and bring back some sunshine.



"It's snowing." said boy with dog.

"It's only a snowflake." said grandfather with beard.
"It's snowing!" said boy with dog.
But as soon as one snowflake melts, another takes its place.

Snowflakes don't listen to radio. Snowflakes don't watch television.

All snowflakes know is...




The sky is white.

The rooftops are white.

The whole city is white.


Oh, they think it's magical. They think it's INCREDIBLE. It is all so very wonderful before you know the science behind it, why it happens, or where it comes from. Snow - just cold, fluffy, whiteness that wraps the outdoors up, like a blanket. A magical thought, indeed.

*Our favorite snow-related book and where the text in this post came from.


please welcome...

the Chocolate Stout Cake with Irish Cream Frosting to flour & child's menu. Do I hear clapping? Because these little beauties deserve some rowdy noise making and such (the Guiness and Bailey's combination wouldn't have it any other way).

They were inspired by my husband who believes everything tastes better with beer and came up with the combination when I was stumped by a themed cocktail party. "Do a Black & Tan cupcake. No, do a Car Bomb cupcake." I think he misses his party days just a leeeeeeetle bit. The kids haven't quite learned the shot-taking technique yet. It's a bummer. Also inspired by my awesome father who is Irish, or so he wishes!

So, put your hands together!! Pictured are mini cupcakes but we are happy to transform any of our cake flavors into regular cupcakes, double layer cakes, or triple layer cakes for your celebration. A lovely client is inviting these Irish cuties to her cocktail party this Saturday. I just hope they (the cupcakes) don't misbehave or get thrown out. I've heard that Guiness and Bailey's can have that effect.

We hope something is keeping you out of the winter blues and reminding you of warmer days...even if it is Trader Joe's tulips!

xo - f&c