Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What a cheese ball

Ok, I know this sounds so 1950s, but I make a great cheese ball. I used to make all sorts of appetizers for parties. It didn't matter how difficult the recipe was; now I have two kids -- two years old and 5 months. I still like to cook, but sometimes I have to think about the time it takes to make something. If I am going to spend a lot of time on the dinner and dessert, I have to cut back on the time it takes to make appetizers. Here is one of my go to appetizers that always gets lots of oohhs and yummms, but it is super easy.

Goat Cheese Ball with Pistachios

1stick of room temperature unsalted butter
1 10 oz stick of room temperature goat cheese
3/4 cup of pistachios (and a bit more reserved for decoration)
2 cloves of garlic (make a paste using some sea salt)
use fresh chopped scallions or chives to decorate the cheese ball the day you serve it

Whip room temperature butter, room  temperature goat cheese, and garlic/sea salt paste together. Then mix in chopped pistachios. Reserve some chopped nuts for decoration. Now for the cheese ball part -- it is really more of a half dome. Use a bowl that is the size of the half dome you want to create. Place plastic wrap in the bowl with enough extra wrap to over the cheese once it is in the bowl. Spray the plastic wrap with Pam Cooking Spray (this will help you invert the cheese dome and uncover it). Place cheese in the plastic wrapped bowl -- press cheese into bowl to insure the cheese takes on the form of the bowl. Cover the cheese with the remaining plastic wrap. Put in the refrigerator to set. This can be done the day before the party.

When getting ready for the party, invert the half dome (bowl) onto your serving platter. Take plastic wrap off. Use the remaining nuts to decorate the cheese ball. Lightly press the nuts into the cheese ball. Also use some chopped scallions or chives to decorate cheese ball and platter. Serve with crackers.

This is the key to the success of this cheese ball -- you MUST take it out 1 hour before you want to serve it. It has to soften or people will not like it as much. Trust me, it is the difference between having very little of the cheese ball leftover and having most of the cheese ball leftover.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What am I going to do when she goes to preschool....to college?

I cried the moment I left my daughter's room last night.  I should start out by saying that when I was pregnant with my first child, I read that your baby should leave his bassinet in his parent's room before three months of age in order to have a smooth transition.  I was a new parent, so I listened.  By ten weeks, I moved Aidan to his crib.  I was a bit sad, but I knew it was the right thing to do.

My daughter is almost five months old, and she still sleeps in the bassinet in our room.  My mom has been asking me for months, "you have moved her into her own room? Haven't you?"  I got sick of  denying it, so I lied -- "yep, I moved her."  I felt badly, but I couldn't take it any longer.  She is probably going to be my last baby.  This time I am not as worried about doing what the BOOK told me to do.  I am doing what feels right to me, my husband, and my daughter.  And the three of us have been doing great the past five months.  So there has been no incentive to change our situation. I am not ready for her to move allllll the way down our short hallway.  I know now that once she moves, she is not coming back.

But recently I started to realize it is getting to that time to move her; she is getting too big for her bassinet .  And last night seemed like the situation was leaning in the direction that it was the right thing to do for my husband and for her. Notice I didn't say it was the right thing to do for me.  My husband expressed his desire to eat dinner later, after our son went to sleep.  My daughter didn't take her typical late afternoon nap, and she was getting hungry because she missed her early evening milk.  It seemed that keeping her up and feeding her after we ate was too late for her.  And making my husband eat early just so I could hold her until she fell asleep was unfair to him.  So I did it. I went upstairs, fed her, and put her down in her crib in her room with her full belly.

When I came downstairs without her, my husband was shocked to hear that I put her in her crib.  He  said," I thought you weren't ready for her to move yet."

 I cried...and cried ... soft quiet tears.  He had the table set for dinner.  He had heated up our leftovers.  He had poured the wine.  I sat in the family room.  And I cried ... and cried.  I was not ready for my little one to grow up and move out of our room and into her own room.  What am I going to do when she goes to preschool....to college?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mummy Hug -- the reason I stay at home

My son and I were eating breakfast and watching a cartoon where a little mummy boy was sad because he lost his "Mummy." Of course at the end of the cartoon, the little mummy found his Mummy.  As soon as they found each other, they hugged.  At that point, my two year wrapped his arms around me and said,"my Mummy."  My heart ... I could actually feel it getting warm inside my chest.  I could feel blood rushing to my heart -- and expanding my heart muscle.  I know it sounds a bit dramatic, but it is true.  Remember the scene in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas where the Grinch's heart grew when he saw the people of Whoville celebrating Christmas even without their decorations -- well, I am not comparing myself to the Grinch, but I did experience my heart growing inside my chest.  I felt his pure love for me.

I glanced at the clock on the wall; it was 7:35 am.  And in that moment the thought that ran across my mind was if I were still teaching school, class would have started five minutes ago.  Wow, am I glad I am staying at home.  This is the reason I stated home.  We have a tighter budget because of that choice, but in that moment my choice was validated and ohhh so worth it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It all started with getting up early with the farmer

It all started with getting up early with the farmer.  So my darling husband usually gets out of bed with my farmer son at 5 am.  I say farmer son because somewhere in our vast farmlands in the USA there is a farmer who has a son who won't get up and out of bed early.  And my son, born into a life in the suburbs of Chicago, wants to wake up at 4 am.  We keep him in bed until 5 am with the help of the Goodnite Lite, which is an alarm that is attached to a circle which changed from a moon to a sun depending on the time you set.  We have him in his crib waiting and playing by himself for an hour.  Not that we are sleeping during that 4 to 5 o'clock hour, but at least we are resting in our bed.

So as I was saying, my darling husband usually gets out of bed with my son at 5 am.  I rest for a bit longer, then get up, put my makeup on, and get ready for the day.  Because once that kid-horse-race starts a-movin' there is not much that slows it down.  Today my husband was really sleepy, so when the farmer woke up at 4 am, I rested until 4:30 and then got up, put my makeup on, and got ready for the day.  You read me right -- I put makeup on at 4:30 am in order to get a head start on my son.  The things that we do to maintain some form of what we used to look like before kids.  I used to be quite put together, so in order to not look like a complete disaster -- I get up early to get ready for the day. Once the horse race starts, I never look in a mirror again.   Anyway, I got up with my farmer at 5 am.

We had a fine morning playing with trains and what not.  At 6:20 am my husband came downstairs with my four month old in arm - lucky me she usually sleeps until about 8:30 am -- wow I am glad she woke up nice and early today.  So, I make my husband a breakfast to go sandwich, and he is out the door 5 minutes later. And mommy is at the starting blocks....... she is off and running.  I breastfeed my daughter, put her down to play, and make my farmer his breakfast -- all while returning a friend's phone call -- I have a phone operator's head set that allows me to multitask at peak performance. 

Once I clean up after my farmer's breakfast, the horse race started to move a bit faster.  My daughter was screaming, so I went to her and she had pooped though her cute outfit.  I cleaned her up and gave her a bath -- and yes, after that she needed a bath.  I put her on a towel on the ground only to notice that my farmer's diaper (my husband was the last one to change him -- the only reason this is important is I didn't want to take the blame for this poorly fasten diaper -- I was way too tired and the day was way too young for me to start blaming myself) was hanging somewhere around his knees.  I tacked that pony to the ground and found out that he was soaking wet with pee -- shirt, pants, and socks.  Yeah!!! Another twist in the track.  I took his clothing off and put a new diaper on him. I then looked around the house for a wet pee spot on the carpet, so I could take care of my home. Luckily, I found nothing -- he only peed on himself.  So, I had a naked daughter rolling off her towel on my family room floor and a naked but diapered farmer son sitting in his Little Tike Cozy Coupe in front of the TV.  I put the dirty clothing in the wash and glanced at the clock -- it was 7:40 am -- wow that is a lot of action -- I guess this makes up for watching a little Oprah in the afternoon IF they both take a nap at the same time today.  And this all started with getting up early with the farmer.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Yummy French Toast

I have made French Toast for years.  And I am sure you have too, but I have finally landed on my perfect mixture of flavors that makes for the best french toast ever. My husband and my son love it; I hope you will too.  However my picky son doesn't like the leftovers warmed up the next day.  So it is a good thing that it is easy to make this fresh on demand.  I am posting pictures of my french toast and maple sausage links from this morning.  Here is the recipe I have come up with.

As always the measurements are flexible-- cooking is an art not a science.

Yummy French Toast
(These measurements are approximate for 6 pieces of thick bread)

Start with preparing the honey so it will cool off by the time you put it in your mixture

1 Tablespoon honey(microwave it for 20 -30 seconds in a glass bowl this will make the honey thinner and easier to mix with your other ingredients -- remember you don't want to put plastic in the micro -- let it cool off before adding it to the other ingredients)

 4 large eggs
a splash of milk
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cap full (about 1teaspoon) vanilla
a pinch of salt to balance the flavors

thick Italian bread
powder sugar for decoration


Mix ingredients adding honey when not so hot.  Place bread in a shallow dish and pour mixture over the bread.  Flip bread to get bread fully saturated with yummy mixture. Let sit for as long as need.  Warm up your pan on medium heat and melt some butter (real butter is key at this point -- if you use real butter in the pan, you will not have to put butter on the french toast once it is finished) to coat the pan for use. Place bread in pan and turn after about 2 - 3 minutes depending on thickness of bread.  Place cooked pieces in a 200 degree oven to keep warm.  Once finished with all your toast, sprinkle with powered sugar and serve. It will be yummy and soft.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

How big is my lap?

It is hard for a mom to carve out time for herself.  As I am typing right now, I have my daughter breastfeeding and my son sitting on the second half of my thighs and knees. My son is using my daughter's back to rest his back on.  I have two screens up on the desktop of my computer -- this screen (for me to write) and youtube (for my son to watch G scale trains).  I love being a stay at home -- these are the moments that I will not be able to recapture in the future. These moments pass too fast.  It is hard to get things done -- things that I want to do.  Anyway, I didn't think this moment should pass without me documenting it. How big is your lap?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Big A** Meatballs

Big A** Meatballs - so, that is what my husband used to call my meatball dinner BEFORE we had kids.  This is one of my husband's favorite dinners that I make -- you know a stand-by dish. They are flavorful meatballs that have been cooked in tomato sauce, which makes the meatballs soft and tender.  I serve the meatballs and sauce over rice with a side of fresh green beans.  But what do we call this dish now that we have a two year old?  We certainly cannot call it Big A** Meatballs anymore.  Can you hear my two year old at preschool saying it -- I can.  So, I told my husband we have to rename this dinner.  We decided the easiest thing to call it is Big Meatballs -- I know this seems obvious and easy, but it was as hard as changing your child's name.  So what does my husband call it -- Big (long dramatic pause) Meatballs.  It sounds so ridiculous.  And the sad part is I call it this too.  At some our kids are going to repeat this with the dramatic  pause.  And no, they will not be cursing.  But they are going to sound odd -- I love mommy's Big (wait for it) Meatballs.

Here is the recipe -- Mommy Tip call it whatever you want, but remember you will be stuck with whatever you select. 

Big Ass Meatballs

(a bit more or less of these ingredients will not matter - cooking is an art not a science)

1 package of ground sirloin
1 onion chopped
1- 2 cloves of garlic minced
1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup graded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup more or less breadcrumbs
1 egg
2 Tablespoons olive oil (additional for browning meatballs)

1 15 oz can of tomato sauce

green vegetable (green beans go great with this meal)

Place all of the ingredients: ground sirlion, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, ground cinnamon, graded Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, egg, olive oil
into a bowl.  Wet your hand (this is key -- meat doesn't stick to wet hands, so you have a few minutes to mix ) and mix the ingredients with your hands.  Don't over mix so to keep meatballs soft -- just mix until ingredients are incorporated.

Create 4 to 5 Big Ass Meatballs. (Mommy Tip -5 meatballs means my husband and I have two meals.  My son has his own meatball, which I mix with the rice and sauce and split up into several meals)  Flatten the meatballs some so they are more like puffy hamburgers. Dredge meatballs in flour (this too helps keep meatballs moist and tender).  Place olive oil in a high sided skillet that you have a cover for.  Heat the oil on medium high.  Once oil is hot, place meatballs in pan - don't move them for 2 - 3 minutes to create a nice crust. Then flip them for about 2 minutes. Turn heat down to low.  Then pour tomato sauce over meatballs.  Fill the can half way with water and pour that in the pan. Stir sauce and water around and cover.  Cook for 25- 30 minutes -- flip over once half way through the cooking. Sauce will thicken with time.

In the meantime, make some white rice. And start your green vegs.  Once meat is finished, place some rice on your plate with a meatball half on and half off the bed of rice. Take fork and slightly break meatball open and pour sauce over meatball and rice. Plate green beans Enjoy!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Tears, sweat, and poop

First of all, I have to say I have already failed the the challenge I set up for myself -- I shouldn't use the word failed.  While doing the best I can, I missed the mark.  It is hard to find time everyday.  It seems that within a 24 hour day I should be able to find ten minutes to blog, but if you are staying at home with your kids you know that isn't always possible.  Anyway, challenge redesigned -- find time when I can.

Back to tears, sweat, and poop

My two year old started preschool yesterday.  He ran into the room and didn't look back -- great you say -- great for him--a bit sad for me. I have stopped my career ( a career I loved --- teaching high school) and now I feel like he doesn't even care about being without me for a WHOLE hour.  What a blow to the ego.  I do feel good for him-- I hate seeing him cry.  I love him-- but not even a glance back to make mommy feel good about herself. So the tears started to flow my-baby-is-a-big-boy-tears.

Next the sweat.  The school had a room next to the preschool room set up for the mommies to sit and wait for the hour for their little joys.  They had coffee, water, and treats for the mommies.  Very sweet.  But I was sweating.  I don't know what my problem was - I was nervous for my boy.  I was nervous for myself -- a room filled with strangers.  I felt like I was back in high school or worst yet middle school.  I was feeling like the uncool mommy-- I am not sure how else to describe my insecurity.   Hence the sweat -- I mean SWEAT.

Poop -- oh poop.  I have a three month old daughter.  I had her sitting on my lap during the mommy meeting.  We had to go around the circle, introduce ourselves, and tell a secret.  Are you kidding me?  I started to sweat more thinking about some secret that would be interesting.  Some secret besides -- I cannot stop sweating.  And then it happened -- my daughter pooped a ton.  Not only through her clothing, but all over my lap.  When I looked down at my skirt, I started to sweat more.  I had two changes of clothing for her just in case, but I didn't anticipate having to change my clothing.  The poop arrived to complete the trifecta of my morning.

My son came out of class with a new friend.  As they started to walk away from each other, they completed their morning with a hug.  I started to cry again.  I am a  mess.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wearing my baby

The day I came home from the hospital with baby #2 I realized I had two babies.  They are 21 months apart.  That makes two babies.  It wasn't long before I needed a solution -- I found one -- I'll wear my baby.  The first time I read "wear your baby"  I didn't know what that meant.  But I soon found out it really means wearing your baby.  I put on my clothes and then I put on my baby.  We are both much happier.  She feels safe.  I get both of my hands back to take care of my first baby, and I get to cuddle with her too.  I also have great posture when I wear her.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Finding an outlet

I need an outlet.  I love staying at home with my kids -- it is my choice, but I need an outlet.  Hence my friend Bruce helped me start this blog today.  The Challenge is to carve out a little time for myself everyday.  Try to find something insightful behind my mistakes and share that with others.  And remember to laugh.  By laughing at myself,  maybe others can find humor in their day too.  Aren't we all just doing the best we can?