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.