goodbye for now...

After a few weeks of silence in this space, I figured I owed my few readers a short explanation.  I couldn't just let this URL drown away in the abyss of the forgotten internets.  The truth is, it started as a much needed hiatus over Spring Break with every expectation of returning, when I wanted (and had to) be more focused on my home life.  Once that passed, I sort of waited for a day to be inspired to post and that day didn't really come.

Since then, I've weighed out reasons of why I write here and how it's inching me closer to my end goal.   Though there are some, I didn't find an overwhelming number of reasons to keep going.  Perhaps I'll be inspired to post again, sometime.  But, that time is not now.  I don't want to force something that just isn't there...it'd be like filming a third Sex & The City movie, which even I hope they do not do.

It's time to break for the foreseeable future and concentrate my spare time on projects that will slowly move me closer to realizing some of my dreams (sounds pretty cliche, huh?).  Cookbook?  Novel?  Gardening/cooking classes for kids?  Lunch packing service?  Gourmet/Local grocery store with cooking classes?  Small cafe?  Sheesh...I had better get started.

If you want any advice on food, or need a recipe to make for dinner tonight, I'd be glad to help!  Please feel free to email me:  hellowhitneyk@gmail.com

Thanks for reading.


What We're Reading @ 226

Iggy Peck Architect by Andrea Beaty is a masterpiece of a book.  It's about a boy named Ignacious who is passionate about building things and dreams of being an architect.  But, once he reaches grade school, his creativity and innovative thoughts are squashed by his strict teacher.  But later, the class find themselves in a dangerous situation and Iggy and his architectural prowess come to the rescue.  It's silly (in a laugh out loud way) with an inspiring message of steadfastly holding on to your dreams.  Also, the illustrations are straight badass.

If you don't yet own The Curious Garden by Peter Brown, I suggest you hiy the "Add to Cart" button immediately.  It is a great book to read anytime, but is especially apropos as the weather warms and things start to grow.  Liam is a little boy who discovers a forgotten garden in the middle of a gray, gloomy city.  He makes a commitment to bring the little garden back to life and with the help from lots of friends he succeeds!  The illustrations in this one are vibrant and detailed.  We love it.

More book suggestions here.


Weekending @ 226

What's going on with you guys this weekend?  You already heard me gripe about the weather so I promise I won't subject you to much more of that.  Just know it is in my head.  We have a tradition that is going on two years now called Friday Night Family Party.  Somewhere in that duration it has luckily been shortened to FNFP.  It was the best parenting idea I've ever had.  We usually don't do anything Super Spectacular, but just knowing that all four of us are going to spend some serious quality time together, makes the kids dizzy with excitement and anticipation all week.  Sometimes its themed, if we're approaching a holiday.  Other times we feast on an assortment of appetizers and finger foods.  We've made our own pizzas and subs.  Or, I've let the kids pick whatever they want to eat.  Most of the time they choose Cacio e Pepe, which is fine by me.  Sometimes we build a fort and watch a movie, while we're snuggled into sleeping bags.  Most of the time, it begins with a dance party while we're waiting for Jason to get home.  Other times we venture out to the bowling alley or for a frozen yogurt fix.  We've been ice skating downtown and out to the movie theatre.  Tonight it's sleeping bags, breakfast for dinner, and a movie.  I'm super excited.  Errrr, I mean, they're super excited.  I hope you all have a great weekend.

Tell me she is not the cutest.  I mean, her name is Birdie.  Note to self: take more video!

P.S. Her crown is from here.  I almost got them for my tykes at holiday time, but I changed my mind and decided to gift it to my niece for her second birthday.  Isn't their stuff great?

I'm sorry, did you say coconut bread?  Yes, please.  Lots.

Good basketball watching fare.  Did you fill out a bracket?

My cheeks hurt.

I thought these were an adorable Springtime hostess gift.

TOO good.

I'm seeing polenta all over food blogs.  It's one of Beckett's all-time favorite foods, and mine too.

I almost, almost, almost bought this swimsuit top at Target, yesterday.  I wish I would have.

These animal portraits are so perfect for a nursery.  The lamb is my fave.

This book is definitely on my wish list.  After viewing some of the recipes, I think it's going to be great.

How could these be bad?  All I need is some sunshine!


P.S. Whatever you do, do not take this recipe/method and throw in a handful of Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups.  It's real dangerous.

They're "hunting for leprechauns."  Apparently, he's going in a TJs bag.

My girl lost a tooth.  I nearly fainted, and then cried a little.

My boys.

I've been hungry at breakfast time.

Breakfast or Snack @ 226 - Magic Muffins

Things are pretty bleak over here, people.  I have two little people that want to play outside so bad their heads hurt.  They talk about the seasons changing in school.  They talk about how yesterday was the first day of Spring.  They bring home art projects that involve tulips and baby animals.  They beg me to take them to the park, even though they can see their breath.  The walk from the car to our backdoor seems long and we're all holding our breath by the time we turn the knob.  I've thought about starting a fire in the fireplace.

They monitor the plants that grow in our basement, below warm lights, and wonder why the same isn't happening outside.  They look out the window and with their hands to the glass, testing for warmer temperatures, but there are none.  Today, it's snowing.

I think Spring will come.  But truthfully, I'm starting to doubt its inevitability.  I want to believe that its right around the corner and surely it will come with April.  March is supposed to leave like a lamb, right?  But, all I see are grey skies, snowflakes, and restless children.  We have done nearly every Pinterest project.  We've painted and colored until the markers are dry and colorless.  We've run made-up errands just to get out of the house, thank you Target.  We've built every shape and style of fort and had dance parties till our thighs ache.  We've done copious amounts of laundry and reorganized the furniture more times than I'd like to count.

The elbows on my favorite sweater are wearing thin.

There is one thing that Becks and Reed still get excited about.  Any Kitchen Project.  So, we've made a daily activity out of it.  And, even though it's become part of our indoor routine I think a part of them looks forward to it.  In the past week, we've made granola, granola bars, 2 kinds of snack bites, hummus, shamrock cookies, three kinds of muffins, freezable protein snack-cakes, and two loaves of really good bread.  We do a kitchen project almost every morning.  Over breakfast , we comb the internet for ideas and inspiration.  It's a made-up chore because we don't really need any of these things.  But, I don't know what I'd do with my mornings without them.  An added bonus: my kids are going to know their way around a kitchen.

Magic Muffins - In an effort to make every snack we have substantial (my kids are eating a ton these days), I am tending towards flour free recipes.  [Just to avoid the question, I am not, by any means going Paleo.]  However, I refuse to eat a muffin that is as hard as a 2x4.  I don't know how these muffins work, I just know they are puffy and satisfying.  It's hard for me to walk by the freezer without grabbing one.  They're also great to throw in lunches.

1 cup of any nut butter (we have tried peanut and almond)
2-3 bananas with lots of brown spot so they are super sweet*
a handful of pitted medjool dates, only if your bananas aren't brownish
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon honey, optional
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
chocolate chips, optional

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a muffin tin with paper liners.  Put all ingredients into your food processor.  Blend until totally mixed.  Evenly distribute your batter in the lined pan.  Sprinkle chocolate chips on top, if using.  Bake for 13-15 minutes.  They should look puffy and lightly browned on the top. Cool on a rack and store in the freezer for up to one month or in a sealed container for up to one week.

*I have made these twice.  The first time my bananas were not as ripe as they should be so I threw in 6 or 7 pitted dates.  The next time they were super ripe so I skipped the dates and the honey and they were great.  I'm not a fan of super sweet things anyway, so the super ripe bananas were perfectly sweet enough on my second try.


Dinner @ 226 - Madhur Jaffrey's Everyday Moong Dal

I have a solution for your dinner rut.  You know, those times you look into the empty, crusty crevices of your GE and it all looks a little...blah.  You reach for the broccoli, but realized you had broccoli soup the day before yesterday and return it to the crisper that is jam packed with nothingness.   You feel as though if you make another soup, chunky, creamy, or otherwise, that you might croak with a ladle still clenched in your lifeless hand.
That little guy on the right is my asafetida.  I found it at an international market.
 It's March, after all.  We've had all the soups, stews and crock-pot meals that our frigid little bodies can handle.  We crave the freshness of crisp asparagus and little green peas that pop between your molars.  We want dinners to be less...cooked.  But still, the temperatures hold and there isn't a decent looking spear of asparagus in sight.  In fact, snow is on the forecast for tomorrow.  Snow.  Thanks a lot, March.

This dinner is one that has made it into our weekly rotation.  Yes, I said weekly.  Whenever I feel that cloud of Dinner Nothingness descend over my kitchen, this is what I prepare.  Even though it's not Spring Fare, it will carry you through till the asparagus get smaller and the back deck gets power washed.  And from there, if you're anything like us, you'll make it every week or so after.

Everyday Moong Dal - This recipe comes from one of my favorite books.  I've had a long-existing obsession with Indian food that started at a buffet near the mall in High School.  I will eat it absolutely anytime; usually frightening amounts of it.  Please don't be dissuaded by the Indian origin, you really only need to venture out to find one or two ingredients that you don't already have/or have had before.  I've changed the recipe a bit to be more convenient, according to what I usually have on hand.  If you'd like to make it the way it was written, the original is in parenthesis.  Serves 4-6 as a side dish, I always double it if it's all we're having.  And, it usually is.

1 cup moong dal, washed and drained
1/2 bunch kale, ribs removed and cut into 1 inch strips, optional*
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 tablespoon olive oil or grapeseed oil (or ghee)
1/8 teaspoon ground asafetida
1 teaspoon ground cumin (1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (1-2 hot red chilies)
1 large shallot, peeled and cut into fine slivers

Put the dal in a medium pot and add 3 1/2 cups water.  Bring to a boil.  Skim off the white froth and add the turmeric.  Stir to mix.  Cover partially, turn heat to a gentle simmer, and cook 40 minutes.  At this point, add the kale to the dal, cover and let the kale wilt for 5 minutes. Add the salt and stir to mix.  Turn off the heat.

Pour the oil in a small frying pan and set over medium high heat.  When hot, put in asafetida, cumin, and cayenne.  As soon as the spice mixture is fragrant (30 seconds) add the shallots.  Stir and cook until the shallots darken.  Pour the shallot mixture over the cooked dal and stir.

Serve with brown rice (or whatever rice you prefer), whole wheat naan, plain yogurt for topping, sliced red onion, lemon wedges, and fresh cilantro.

*If you're looking to make this a complete meal, throw in a bunch of kale as noted.  That's my way of getting out of making a salad.

For other rad dinner ideas, go here.


Weekending @ 226

Hi friends.  I took the weekend off work partly because Jason has been out of town and we weren't totally sure when he would return, but mostly because it has been forever since we have had a free weekend (I usually work on the weekend) with nothing scheduled.  A weekend where there is plenty of time for excursions that take us farther from our home than usual.  Rain is forecasted,  but we've still got some great plans for a family adventure.  And some pretty fun St. Patty's day doings on Sunday, that do not involve drinking with the lovely UD student "neighbors."  So, I guess my weekend involves a whole lot of Family Time.  And I'm totes down with that.  What are you guys up to?

Umm, yes.  Probably happening.

I know it's tempting, but please don't go over the top with the food coloring this St. Patricks day.  Stick with food that is naturally GREEN!  Or stick with the classics.

I'm sorry.  This video is just too cute.  It makes me want to take more video footage.  And be two.

I want this.  It looks like it belongs in a dentist's office, in such a good way.

For you, I have a huge hilarious Time Suck/Waste.  But seriously, everyone should be allowed to watch some brainless nonsense every once in a while, and I don't have cable so The Bachelor is out.  This girl's series is hysterical.

Did you own any of these.  Unfortunately/fortunately I did.  Own quite a few.

These are my favorite sandals for Reed and me.  I can't wait to order our new summer pair.

This would be fun to make with the kids for an impromptu treat.

Oh, I made my own lotion bars.  Super easy and totally effective.  They'd be great for a dry babe.

As for a drink?  I couldn't decide between one of my favorites and a deliciously festive classic.  Make 'em both!  It's St. Patty's Day, after all.


"Mama, I'd like to eat my snack in the little strips of sun."

Incredibly simple lotion making.


Dinner without Daddy.

Breakfast @ 226 - Bird Seed Bran Muffins

I've always loved bran muffins.  I realize that's a strange claim.  Sort of like saying, I've always loved Shakespeare or folding laundry, both of which are true.  Most people eat wheat bran out of obligation to healthfulness, not out of genuine cravability.  When I'm at the airport 100 hours early for my flight  and they have those shrink-wrapped-baked-100-years-ago-muffins, next to the perfect looking bananas that I'm not sure are even on sale (seriously, I tried to order one once and it was like the first time they had ever heard this request), I always snag the bran variety.  Always, always, always.

There are so many typical breakfast muffin combinations that fly off those magazine or coffee store shelves.  Even at my local coffee shop, harried customers always leave with a napkin wrapped blueberry muffin stuffed in their suit pocket or the coffee cake with streusel topping gently held by their teeth while they juggle two ventis and the exit door..  But, no one ever gives the bran muffin the attention it deserves.  Although, even as a fan of bran (hehe), I can admit these prototypes are not the best representation of bran muffins.  They're often so dense, you need a liter of water just to wash it down and the sugar content is usually astronomical to accommodate for the fact that most Americans don't like healthy tasting food.

Even armed with the knowledge that a bran muffin could get better, I never ventured out to find wheat bran.  In fact, until yesterday, I had no idea what wheat bran even looked like.  Just FYI, it's white and light brown light-as-a-feather flakes.

At Trader Joe's, you can find some delicious bran muffins.  Though they are on the pricier side (as with all pre-prepared food), these prepackaged wonders only list a few ingredients, a good sign that a home cook can probably recreate them.  The other game changer came with this book.  My sister gifted it to me and I even got to pick up lunch (curry tuna salad with grapes on a housemade croissant) at the renowned bakery when I was visiting her in Boston.  It was every bit as adorable and delicious as the book leads you to believe.  And, I'm happy to report that these muffins (adapted from that book) that finally got me off my tush and to the health food store bulk bins are absolutely worth it.  I'll never go shrink-wrapped again.

Bird Seed Bran Muffins - adapted from this book.  For convenience, I let these cool and then wrapped them individually in plastic wrap and put them in a freezer bag in the freezer.  If you're not going to eat them on the day they're baked, I recommend you do the same.  That way, when your inevitable bran muffin craving strikes, you just pluck one of these out of the freezer, jam it into your bag and eat it on the go an hour or so later.  I do not recommend thawing/warming them in the oven straight from the freezer.  It dries out the outside, while leaving the inside cold.  They're great cut in half, smeared with almond butter or salted butter, or both. Make 16 muffins.

2 1/2 cups wheat bran
1 1/4 cups milk (I used almond milk)
1 3/4 cup Greek yogurt (not low or non fat)
2 eggs
1 cup golden raisins
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I used part pastry flour and part spelt flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsulfered molasses (dark or light both work)
a spoonful of millet
a spoonful of flaxseeds
a spoonful of sunflower seeds

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and line 16 spots in two muffin tins with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, stir together the first four ingredients and set aside to let the wheat bran absorb the moisture for about 30 minutes.

Using a small bowl, cover the raisins in nearly boiling water to plump them up.*

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

After 30 minutes, add the brown sugar and molasses to the bran mixture.  Stir to incorporate.  Drain the raisins and add them to the mixture as well.

Scrape the bran mixture into the dry ingredients and gently fold them together.  The batter is thick, but gloopy.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling them nearly to the top.  In a small bowl mix up the millet, flaxseeds and sunflower seeds.  Sprinkle over the top of the unbaked muffins and gently press the "bird seed" into the batter with the back of a spoon.

Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, switching rack position halfway through.  Let cool in the pan, on a wire rack for 20 minutes.  Then, eat them, yo!

*This step gives the raisins an almost berry like texture.  If you prefer your raisins dense and chewy (like Beckett does), skip this step.

Want more breakfast ideas?  Check here.


Lunch @ 226 - Genius Roll Ups

*****This post was scheduled for 3/11 but was delayed due to an internet outage.  Thanks for waiting!****

Stop what you're doing.  Read the rest of this post.  No, skip reading and scroll down to the instructions for making the most successful lunches I've packed for my kids in as long as I can remember.  Well, at least since these.   In fact, I'll skip the post and just give you the goods.  Nobody wants to read on a Thursday.  I just made that up, but it seems logical and like there is probably some scientific research to support it.  I'll look into it.

Go pack lunch.  Right nowish would be greaaaaat.

Banana Nut Butter Roll Ups - I'm going to skip measurements because I think you all are super smart.

1 whole wheat tortilla
any kind of nut butter, crunchy or smooth
1 banana

Spread a few spoonfuls of nut butter on half of the tortilla.  Drizzle the nut butter with a little honey and a few shakes of cinnamon.  Place the banana towards the UNpeanut buttered side of the tortilla and roll it up, gently and tightly.  The peanut butter will help to keep it rolled.  

Now, slice off the uneven ends and put aside for a snack.  Slice the rest of the roll in one inch segments (serrated knife works best).  Admire your adorable handiwork and put in your child's lunch container.  Expect that it will be empty when they return.

Cucumber Cream Cheese Roll Ups

1 whole wheat tortilla
cream cheese*
1 1/2 Persian cucumbers
a small handful of alfalfa sprouts
salt and pepper, to taste

Spread a few spoonfuls of cream cheese on 3/4 of the tortilla.  Place the cucumber and 1/2 (I should have added 1/2 to mine.  I had a lot of empty tortilla leftover.  I don't want that for you) at the UNcream cheesed end and add the alfalfa sprouts right up next to it.  Sprinkle the whole thing with a little salt and pepper.

Roll up, gently and tightly, letting the cream cheese "glue" the roll shut.  Slice off the uneven ends and set aside for a snack.  Slice the rest of the roll into one inch pieces (serrated knife works best).  Pack 'em up in lunch containers.

*you can use Tofutti if you're looking for a dairy free option.  And, I'm thinking hummus would also work, but I haven't tried it yet.  If you do, report back!

Weekending @ 226

*****This post was supposed to be published on 3/8 but was delayed due to an internet outage******

Hello all!  What is everyone doing this weekend?  I feel like we are just holding our breath until the weather turns a bit warmer.  I approach winter with this Can-Do, Make the Best of It attitude but that enthusiasm starts to wain in the middle of February.  My attitude of "Let's get outside everyday" turns into "Dang it, I'm staying in bed all day.  What's on Netflix?"  And in the beginning of March, I spend a few minutes everyday checking the 10 day forecast and seeing if we have anything to look forward to.  Mid 50s doesn't sound like much, but paired with the sun it could make for a pretty fabulous weekend.  We're going roller skating tonight, followed by frozen yogurt.  So, if I don't blog at all next week, it means I'm laid up with a broken arm.  These events are very likely.

Thank you Whitney Houston for ruining my name for all of eternity.

I know this is old news.  But, this show is hilarious.  I dated a guy like Chris (Rob Lowe) so his slightly obnoxious but well-meaning character really cracks me up.

How rad are these paperclip hooks.  I may have to invest in the yellow one.

Holy hell.  Have you guys seen this project?  It's a few great photographers taking candids of their children.  The results are just plain badass.  It inspires me to practice my photography (When my camera is fixed in 6-8 weeks.  So sad.)

I've heard overalls are making a return this Spring.  Are you into that?

I love having breakfast for dinner.  And now, there's a book about it!  I so want.

This looks like something I would very much like to eat.  I mean, are you kidding me?

If Spring does indeed arrive, we're planting these radishes.  Aren't they the coolest?

A new book from one of my all-time favorite children's authors.  Consider it purchased!

Please don't miss my boyfriend hosting SNL tonight.  He really appreciates your support.

And lastly, because I always include a drink...how about this one for this (hopefully) warmer weekend?

Have a happy one!


Lunch @ 226 - Stuffed Mini Peppers

You might think this lunch is fussy.  But, I assure you it is anything but.  Sure there are fresh herbs that need chopping, and peppers that need to be trimmed.  But, I made these little beauties in the time it took  my slowest eaters ever, why do children eat so slowly? children to eat a bowl of cereal.

They came home a few weekends ago from spending a day or two with Jason's mom.  After they told me about all the fun they had, they couldn't stop talking about these elusive mini peppers.  I buy bell peppers all the time, regular bell peppers. You know, the ones that compliment fajitas or create the first-to-disappear element of a crudite platter.  The ones that jack up your grocery bill, especially if you buy them organic.  The kind my son loves, and staunchly believes that I add them to dishes specifically for his pleasure.  "Oh Mama, you added vvvvvell peppers* just for me.  My favorite."  So, naturally, I am beholden to add them to everything I possibly can.

But, what?  Miniature super sweet peppers?  Tinier and more adorable than the ones mama buys?  And oh so much sweeter?  My pepper love was in danger of being trumped by a smaller, sweeter version?  Okay, fools, I will up my grocery game.  I will search high and low for these crack-laced mini peppers so that you all can once again, be in vvvvvell pepper* ecstasy.  I would hate for you to go through withdrawals.  The search will begin pronto.

As it turns out, they sell them at the very grocery store in which I work, in the very department in which I most frequently work.  I do not know how this sort of thing happens.

Stuffed Mini Bell Peppers - These are great for lunch boxes because they can be tousled around and remain intact.  Plus, they are very intentionally not a sandwich.  I try to mix things up when it comes to packed lunches.  Who wants a sandwich every day?  Both kids' lunch boxes came back completely empty after school.  And, both kids asked for me to make them again the next day.  Success!  They would also be great for a quick appetizer and I promise you they don't take too much longer than a PB&J.  Makes 8, serves 2 with some fruit alongside.

4 mini bell peppers (shocker, these can be found at Trader Joe's, next to the regular peppers)
1/4 cup goat cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1/4 cup chopped chives
salt and pepper, to taste

Slice your mini peppers in half, from stem to bottom.  Clean out any seeds and white ribs with a paring knife or your fingers.  With a fork, stir together the goat cheese, yogurt, chives, and salt and pepper, until smooth.  Using the fork, smear enough of the cheese filling into the pepper halves to almost fill them.  The filling is rather rich, so don't overfill them.  Also, they don't have to be perfect...see above picture.

If you're packing lunches, obviously pack them cheese side up.  I hope you would know that.

*Both kids have always mispronounced the word bell peppers.  Since they uttered the word, it has been "vell pepper."  I gave up correcting them years ago because I think it's super funny to act like it's normal.  Sorry, not sorry.

For more lunch inspiration go here.


Lunch and dinner during our week without kids.

Veggie sandwich on sprouted bread with a simple green salad.
Baguette with fruit and cheese, for two.  Eaten while watching this strange movie.

Homemade whole wheat pizza with spinach, mushrooms and feta.

Romaine salad with sprouts, cherries, almonds and feta.

Baked sweet potato with feta, olive and tahini "salad."

Beans and toast with fried egg.

Cowboy beans.

Sometimes I skipped lunch and read instead.

Whole grain toast with fried egg and avocado.

Green salad with red onions, avocado and a leftover veggie burger crumbled on top.

The sweet potato was my favorite of the bunch.  It was inspired by this recipe.  Oddly enough I didn't take a picture of my other favorite.  But, basically I took a bowl of warm brown rice, threw in a cup of cooked green peas and some chick peas, a handful of green onions and some golden raisins and slivered almonds.  I mixed up a dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt and equal parts cumin and cinnamon.  Then, I poured the dressing over the rice salad and ate the whole darn bowl.  I don't have measurements because I made it up, but you should try it.  Even with these loose directions, I'm sure you'll end up with something delicious.

Cooking and eating without kids was fun.  I wasn't worried about spice or even, nutritional value.  I skipped meals and just snacked or ate dinner late into the night.  It was pretty terrific.  Because I didn't have to make a complete dinner for four, I just took thises and thats from the fridge and cobbled something together for one, or two.  There was no forethought or planning at all.  I liked it.

Towards the end of their week in Florida, the kitchen began to feel lonely.  The two kids always pick whether they are the stirrer or the pourer, both very important jobs.  They help and taste and snack while they sit on the counter and talk and mostly get in my way.  But, its fun and its frustrating but mostly its fun and its our routine.

I'm grateful to have them back in the kitchen.


{Rule Number 5}

5.  Always taste the batter.

Find the rest of rules series here.

Weekending @ 226

What are you all up to this weekend?  There's not much going on here at 226 this weekend and that's just fine by me.  The weather is miserable (think 35 degrees with a mix of rain and snow and grey skies for days) and its just better to stay inside, watch movies under blankets and hopefully do a little baking.  I've been in the mood to go thrifting lately, in hopes of finding a desk for my computer which currently lives on my dresser; not the ideal set-up. So, I'm hoping I can convince the family to come with me on that adventure.    I'm also thinking of joining a co-op.  Do you guys belong to one or know anyone who does?  I think you can get some steals on ingredients I use all the time, like old fashioned oatmeal and such.  Well, I hope you have a terrific weekend.

Jason and I saw this movie on thursday night and I may just name my next born "Hushpuppy," it was so darn good.

The kids are currently obsessed with this video.  And watching them try to duplicate his moves is hilarity at its finest.

We also finished this series in about three days while the kids were out of town.  If you have Netflix, I recommend you watch it.

I've had an odd obsession with researching apartments in Paris, lately.  This one is at the top of my list.  In my dreams, we will be spending spring break 2014 there.

Peppers were on sale at the grocery store this week and I really like the idea of these.

I might have to buy this shirt.

Currently reading this and loving it.  This is next on my ever changing list.  What are you guys reading?

Also, a fellow mom recently asked me how to get her daughter to stop sucking her fingers all the time.  My kids are 4 and 5 and still use their fingers to soothe themselves to sleep.  I'm oddly okay with it.  Who knows if its just comfort or habit at this point? Is there a limit?  Does anyone have experience breaking this habit?  How old is too old for pacifiers and fingers?

Breakfast @ 226 - Yogurt Toast

During the week, we usually have very basic breakfasts.  They rotate between toast with almond butter and sliced banana, raisin bran with almond milk and on mornings when we have a few extra minutes, a fried egg with toast.  Nothing special or unusual or particularly inspiring happens in our house before 9 a.m.  There's just a lot of routine.  Brush your teeth and sometimes your hair.  Get dressed.  Pick your breakfast.  Eat your breakfast.  Feed the dog.  Feed the cat. Get your backpack and shoes.  Get in the car and go to school.  It sounds almost dismal, doesn't it?

Let me ease your mind by telling you it's not all done in militant type order, with little enthusiasm.  Not exactly, there are laughs and kisses and sometimes crying about arbitrary and completely avoidable subjects like who gets the melamine rainbow plate.  Sometimes we even play a quick card game or Beckett tells one of his ghost stories (which can take hours).  But for the most part, we save our indulgent, involved breakfasts for the weekend, sitting at the table drizzling maple syrup for over an hour.  During the week, it's more about short prep time and little fuss.  

If your weekdays are similar, here's a toast to throw into the mix.  It's not any more complicated than any of the aforementioned breakfasts, but it certainly is a bit more exciting.  It sounds unfamiliar and a little against the grain to put yogurt on toast.  But, just try it and you'll change your mind.  

Yogurt Toast with Pistachios and Honey - If you use Greek yogurt (which I would suggest that you do) this breakfast has the added benefit of a protein jolt, hopefully getting your kids through till lunch without hunger pangs.  Serve with some sliced oranges or strawberries and it's a nice, quick little weekday breakfast.

Serves 2

2 slices of sprouted bread (or your favorite whole grain bread), toasted
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
a scant 1/4 cup lightly salted pistachios, roughly chopped if you have the time
a scant 1/4 cup dried cherries, or other dried fruit (optional)
drizzle of honey

Spread the yogurt onto the two pieces of toast.  Divide the pistachios (and cherries if you're using) evenly on the two pieces of toast and lightly drizzle with honey.

Don't make this too far in advance, the toast does get soggy after about 1/2 an hour.


Dinner @ 226 - Braised Purple Cabbage

I was recently stuck on an idea for a German themed dinner club get together.  All the meat and potatoes dishes had been taken, which was fine with me, because I'm not really a meat and potatoes sort of gal.  But, after a quick Google search for German vegetable side dishes that yielded very few, if any, authentic German dishes, I was at a loss.

I started to think I should just cheat.  I'll make Borscht.  It's Russian, but no one would care, right?  Plus, I have a dangerously good Amish recipe for Borscht that turns even the most Persnickety Beet Averse to Marveling Beet Enthusiasts.  Plus, you know, it's pinky-purple.  And who doesn't like to eat pinky-purple food?

After some hemming and hawing, it turns out, I'm a Themed-Party-Purist and I couldn't cheat.  Not even a little.  Somehow copying three quarters of my Junior Year Honors English Final Essay from an essay that a college aged babysitter gave me was totally fine.  Making a Russian dish for a German dinner party?  Not so fine.  Perhaps my moral fiber has grown stronger over the years.  Let's hope so.   As good as my Borscht would be (and it would have been) I would know its geographical origin.  And good food never comes from Russia lies.

I needed reinforcements.  Or, more specifically, I needed my sister.  Any question that I ever have regarding food, cooking or literature are texted or emailed exclusively to her.  She is my one stop resource for those topics.  There are times that we have 17 minute long text sessions about the right way to approach the Salade Nicoise or if you should peel or break off the tough stems of asparagus.

It's pinky-purple.  All is right in the world.
"Why text?" you ask.  Well, with my two crazies and her adorable little crazy, it makes actual conversations rather challenging.  Inevitably, one of us has to leave the conversation unexpectedly to change a ripe diaper or to yell at gently ask a certain four year old boy to stop eating the pieces of pasta he finds in the couch cushion.

"If you liked it, then you better put an egg on it."  My breakfast philosophy.
Her articulate response to my asking for ideas for a German vegetable side dish?  "Fuuuuuuuck!  Veg is def not the Germans' strong suit."  After a little marination, she did come up with a fantastic idea that we've both made and loved for years.  Why was it slipping my mind?  I don't know.  That's why I have a sister.

Braised Purple Cabbage - This dish is all great things.  It takes very little active prep time.  And the result is so divine.  The day after dinner club, I ate it for breakfast lunch and dinner.  Reed declared that we must plant purple cabbage so that we could make this all summer long.  It would be tremendous with a side of pork or sausages or as a tangy accent to any and all rich egg dishes, like this quiche.  Please don't wait around for German themed festivities.  I recommend you double this recipe if you have a pot big enough.  It keeps in the fridge for at least a week.  Adapted barely from this recipe.

2 tablespoons oil (most anything works, I used grapeseed)
1/2 small red onion, trimmed and finely chopped
1 large head of purple cabbage, cored and thinly sliced (use the largest knife you have to make this job easier)
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and shredded on the large holes of a grater
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 generous tablespoon of honey
1 teaspoon salt
a scant 1/4 teaspoon of caraway seeds

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large heavy pot or dutch oven.  Add the red onion and sauté until translucent and fragrant, (do not brown) about five minutes.  Add the cabbage, apple, vinegar, honey, salt and caraway seeds.  Turn the heat down to medium low and cover.  Stir every 15 minutes, for an hour or so.

The cabbage should be silky and soft, but still maintain it's individual shape.  We're not making baby food.

Serve warm.  And let the salivating commence.


{Rule Number Four}

4.  In addition to whatever type of newfangled reading apparatuses exist, support your local library and read real books.  

Find the first three Rules here.

Dinner @ 226 - Enchilada Sauce (Part 2)

What is a burrito if not swathed in Enchilada Style, tomato based, spicy sauce?  If you ask me, nada!  I know it's not normal burrito assembly procedure to pour a healthy cup of reddish brown sauce over your tray of rolled up tortillas.  Or, to drag the whole wheat tortillas through a puddle of the sauce before wrapping them around their cozy filling.  None of it's normal.  None of it's traditional.  Let's get crazy and break some burrito standards.  

If I tell you the savory result is so much better than when you follow the rules, as is true with most things...will you do it?  Come on, let's smoke cigarettes in the locker room, steal your dad's Pontiac and make out behind the bleachers.  And put enchilada sauce on our burritos.  We'll be so much better for it.

Beckett approves of the sacrilegious burrito wannabe meal.  You can tell by the chipmunk cheeks and the focus.

Part One of this Several Part Recipe

Enchilada Sauce - This recipe is so good poured over a tray of burritos or enchiladas.  But, you can use it as a dipping sauce for quesadillas or on top of some rice and beans.  Add a little zesty indulgence wherever you see fit.

3 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons flour
1 heaping teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cups water
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

In the bottom of a small saucepan (off the heat) mix all the dry spices.  Whisk in enough water to create a thinnish paste.  Set pan over medium heat and add the rest of the water.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens.  When the sauce coats the back of your spoon (25 minutes) stir in the tomato sauce.  Simmer a few minutes more.

Enchilada sauce can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.


Don't Be Jealous

but, my wonderful parents (who live part of the year in Key West, FL) just left with both of my children for a weeklong, tropical adventure.  To be even more specific, my dad (solo) is currently on a plane from Atlanta to Key West, the second leg of a six hour trip, with a four and five year old.  Is he a hero, or what?  I wouldn't even sign up for that.  He is more than capable and he does have this magical-Pops-aura that elicits good behavior where there is usually less than.

The kids left me with these gems:

I guess we have a thing for neon shoes.

If I could spend the entire week with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other, I probably would.  I would maybe take some breaks to catch up on Downton Abbey, bake bread, write in my journal and nap.  And, I plan on doing a lot of all that.  But, unfortunately, my husband runs a rather tight ship (the opposite of me: he finds it nearly impossible to relax) and insists that we clean the basement before their return.  I guess I need to get something done, right?  And the basement needs some (ahem) attention, so who am I to baulk?

What would you guys do if you had a week to yourself?

To be a little sappy, I will admit that I will miss my Valentines tomorrow...just a little.  Valentine's Day was always sort of blah until they came on to the scene.  Now, we get to play in glitter and make tacky cards and bake all kinds of chocolate and sprinkled deliciousness.  I will miss that, but I know they're in good hands and there are rumors of pink cupcakes at Meems' house!

p.s. Here are their finished Valentines!  Cute, huh?  Thank you's go out to my sister and double-sided tape.

They're erasers, get it?

I wish Reed didn't like washi tape as much as I do.  She calls it fancy tape and wants to put it on everything (as do I)!


Psssst...I bought myself a Valentine's Day present and I am beyond excited to receive it and put it to use.  Do you guys do Valentine's Day gifts for each other?  For yourselves?  For your kids or family?

What We're Reading @ 226

Harlem's Little Blackbird is one of our current favorites, but I have a suspicion that it will linger in our favorites list for years and years.  It's the empowering and inspiring story of Florence Mills, the legendary entertainer and mesmerizing songstress, whose career began at the age of six but flourished at the beginning of the Harlem Renaissance.  The lessons of racial injustice and perseverance through unfavorable odds are captivating (and important!) for little audiences.  The illustrations are colorful and lovely as well.

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble is a joyful read about a donkey who finds a magic pebble that can turn him into anything.  In an unfortunate incident, he accidentally turns himself into a rock and his mother and father worry that they've lost him forever.  In the end, after a joyful reunion with his parents, he decides that the Magic Pebble is nice, but maybe his life with his family is the nicest.  This a classic (1970), but the message remains poignant.