Friday, November 20, 2009

To Do

1. Road test desserts using apples. Maple Apple Pandowdy (what a funny name) was tried last weekend - and delicious. I'm going to try a pear crostata tonight. Or maybe gingerbread with sauteed pears?

2. Go back and get the H1N1 shot - my gp has it - please let it remain there until Monday!

3. Pray that photo proofs come soon so that I can order Christmas cards.

4. DECLUTTER! I am a clutter magnet. It is frightening.

5. Start brainstorming Christmas gifts that can be purchased online - and try to avoid the mall this holiday season.

6. Anyone interested in posting a lot about Christmas cookie recipes? I like sugar cookies and gingerbread men, but I kind of want to try something new.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Happy Friday!

If you are in LA, I highly recommend checking out the silver sale at Geary's - I was able to get a pasta server in my pattern (Towle Chippendale). K loves getting out and about in BH, so we also purchased some "Famous Cupcakes" to sample later. I'll report back if they are good - but the store gets props for being adorable!

Anyway, tonight we're going to eat roast chicken with some potatoes and salad. I don't need to tell you how to roast a chicken (I stuff mine with fresh rosemary, garlic, thyme and a lemon - a la Nigella's recipe from "Feast") because I'm sure there are other delicious ways of doing it - hint - please share with me! The recipe that I wanted to share is Ina Garten's pot roast from her "Back to Basics" cookbook.

I didn't grow up a huge fan of pot roast. My mother didn't make it very often, and I was one of those picky kids who needed all elements of a meal placed separately on the plate. I was so wrong. What was I missing all those years? A delicious and relatively nutritious dinner that is easy to assemble, and cooks quietly all by itself, so you can play with a baby, do laundry, phone calls, or whatever else you want!

This recipe also makes a tremendous amount - it would be a perfect dinner for 6-8 of you. As we are only two adults, it makes dinner for about four nights.

Ina Garten's Pot Roast

1 4-5 lb prime beef chuck roast, tied
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 cups carrots2-4 carrots, chopped to your preferred thickness (I like a smallish cut)
2-4 ribs celery, again, the cut is your preference
2-4 leeks (WASH them very well - I soak in water for about 10 minutes then drain and rinse again)
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 bunch rosemary and thyme (tied or throw them in loose, but remember to fish out the stems at the end)
2 cups red Burgundy (pick a wine that you'd like to drink - you definitely taste it)
2 TBS cognac or brandy
1 28 oz can of whole plum tomatoes in puree
1 cup chicken stock
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 TBS unsalted butter at room temperature
salt, pepper and flour for dredging

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a LARGE dutch oven, heat about 2 TBS of olive oil on medium heat. Pat the roast dry, season all over with salt and pepper, then dredge through flour. Add roast to pan and sear about 4-5 minutes each side. Remove roast from pan and set aside on a large plate.

2. Add more oil to pan (if necessary - Ina tends to use oil with a much heavier hand than I do) and add carrots, onions, celery, leeks, garlic, 1 TBS salt and 1 1/2 tsp pepper. Cook over medium heat 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, but not browned. Then add the wine and cognac and bring to a boil.

3. When the vegetables and wine mixture are boiling, add the tomatoes, chicken stock, bouillon cube, thyme and rosemary. Put the roast back in the pot and bring the whole mixture to a boil and cover. Place the pot in the oven for 2.5 hours, or until the meat is "fork tender" (about 165 degrees internally). Turn heat down to 265 degrees after about 1 hour of cooking to keep the sauce simmering.

4. Remove roast to carving board. Remove and discard herbs. Skim off as much fat as possible. Transfer half the sauce and vegetables to a blender and puree until smooth. For safety, and to make it easier to skim the fat, I recommend waiting maybe 15-20 minutes to allow the sauce to cool down a bit. Pour the puree back into the pot, place on stove over low heat and return to simmer.

5. In small bowl, mix the 2 TBS room temperature butter and 2 TBS flour with a fork until all combined. Stir into sauce and simmer for about 2 minutes or until thickened. Taste for seasoning. Remove the string from the roast and slice meat. Serve warm with sauce spooned over.

This is great made ahead, and any extra sauce makes a really fantastic base for pasta sauce. Happy winter cooking with this one!

Monday, November 2, 2009

A treat for you - the most delicious plum tart!


It's cool here at night now. K has gone to bed (she never got the memo about daylight savings), so I'm enjoying a nice cup of tea and a piece of plum tart. This is hands down the easiest recipe. I can throw it together in about 15 minutes (not counting taking the butter out early to soften). It's pretty enough for company, and homey enough to bake just for you. It also freezes like a dream. We devoured the tart pictured above, so I don't have any pictures of it baked - but it's gorgeous. The plums turn a dark reddish purple, and your house smells like plums and cinnamon.
Have I convinced you?
Here's the recipe for the New York Times Plum Tart:
1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
3/4 c. sugar plus 1TBS set aside for sprinkling
1 t. vanilla (this is my addition - I like vanilla in almost all cakes)
1 c. unbleached flour, sifted
1 t. baking powder
2 eggs
pinch salt
12 Italian prune plums, pitted and split into halves (you can use regular purple plums too)
1. Preheat oven to 350 and place rack in lower third of oven. Grease a 9" spring form pan and set aside.
2. Cream butter and sugar. Mix in egg and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder and salt. (I mix these together in a separate bowl and set aside, but you can just dump them in - this recipe is very forgiving!)
3. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out with a spoon. This is a thick batter, so you may think you messed up - just spread it out as best you can. Then, arrange the plum halves in a decorative pattern around the top. Sprinkle with sugar and a little cinnamon. I bet some nutmeg would be good sprinkled on top too.
4. Bake 40-50 minutes or until tester inserted in the middle of the tart comes out clean. This is great warm or at room temperature. I'd serve with vanilla ice cream, or some of that Haagen Daaz brown sugar ice cream.

The Great Pumpkin


Happy Monday! Halloween was fun - and the great pumpkin had a pretty good time. Unfortunately, the introduction of rice cereal wasn't such a big hit - but we'll keep trying!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Boo!

I'm a terrible blogger. Really bad. But, I have a crawler on my hands and K is going EVERYWHERE. So, because we're looking to sell our place and look for a more baby-friendly one, I'm generally occupied during the day.

Here are my random thoughts of the week:

1. Kate and Jon - please get out of my trashy tabloids. I'm not into you anymore, and when I have time to get my nails done, I want to read good stuff - like spoilers for the new SATC movie!

2. I love Lululemon - I swear I don't wear yoga pants all the time - but if I did, I wouldn't be ashamed because theirs are so cute!

3. Italian prune plums - I just made a really easy tart and will post the recipe soon.

4. It's nice to be in my tall flat boots. I don't really like fall because it means winter, but K doesn't like heat, so I'll take some cooler weather and a baby who naps again.

5. Why am I the most cluttered person in the world? How do I reform?

6. This whole swine flu thing has me a little worried - the Today show should stop scaring me!

7. Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Survivors

We survived our first cross country trip. We also survived our first night away from Baby K to attend a wedding. She's been flirting with sleeping through the night for a few days now - we'll see about that.

Fall has started creeping into Los Angeles - the sun doesn't climb as high in the sky, and the fog has been rolling in overnight a little. I'm back reading books again, and I've fallen in love with the Los Angeles Public Library. Has anyone else read "To Hell With All That" by Caitlin Flanagan? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts - I'm still processing what I think. Next up is "The Feminine Mistake" by Leslie Bennets.

K can roll over, and we're eagerly awaiting the delivery of the exersaucer because she likes to try to stand with help these days. Here's my two cents - it is actually kind of nice to go out and buy baby stuff as she needs it - there is a lot less clutter in the house. Next up to purchase: a convertible car seat - as I think we'll be out of the infant seat in a couple of months.

We are having success with bottle feeding because we found the right kind of bottles - Born Free!

I'm working on a couple of home projects - reupholstering my beautiful new (well, second hand but lovely chippendale mahogany) dining room set, working on a family gallery wall, and just generally decluttering.

So, I think after a nice long summer, I'm ready to be back blogging, and especially posting recipes. Now that I am pretty much back to cooking every night, there's a lot to think about.

We're off to visit some very special great grandparents this weekend - watch out Colorado!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A little of this, a little of that

Our adorable K was a very good girl during her baptism. She got to wear the dress that was made for me (I never wore it as it was over 100 degrees for my baptism).
These are my favorites right now - tomatoes. Seriously, my husband was away for a night, so I could indulge in a completely me-centric meal. Tomatoes and basil over pasta and pretty heirloom tomatoes with basil and olive oil. What do you like to eat when it's just you?


BTW, it looks like I can extend my maternity leave through November, so I've got to get better about blogging. I hope you all are having a lovely summer - the heat came back here with a vengeance this week so we're just trying to stay cool!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Random Things

Ok, look forward to an investigation of the chicken breast later this week, but I'm taking a break from the recipes today.

Here are my questions - some rhetorical, some not :)

1. Who cuts Kate Gosselin's hair? And why is it long in the front and spikey in the back? It's like a reverse mullet?

2. How come people don't often hold the door for you when you are trying to push a stroller into a store? I swear I don't run people over or hit them with my stroller, but I could use a little help getting in the door sometimes.

3. If you have children, what is your strategy for getting dinner on the table? I try to pick out recipes in advance, and then prep/set the table during naptime, anything else?

4. If your baby doesn't like a bottle, how do you persuade them that it isn't so bad?

5. Why is all the lemonade in LA so sweet? I like mine really tart with just a hint of sweet, and everything I've had (most particularly you, Barney Greengrass) is almost gritty with sugar.

6. Recommendations for a lightweight travel stroller?

7. Why do people go to the grocery store in their pjs? I give parents and the elderly a pass, but I am always confused by the college students - they have no responsibilities?

8. Why does the Food Network have so many shows that aren't about cooking? I love my chefs and want more from them!

9. What is your favorite flavor of doughnut? I haven't had one in ages, and I'm starting to have a major craving. I'm a coconut or plain cake doughnut kind of girl.

10. Is it bad that I just don't blow out my hair all that often?

Happy Monday - what are your burning questions?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Nectarine Clafouti - Delicious


I love summer, especially the delicious fruit. There is just something so delicious about eating fruits in season, and not the nasty ones you get in the middle of winter. So, I'm fully enjoying the bounty of our supermarkets - especially nectarines. I love dicing one and sprinkling it over greek yogurt or vanilla ice cream, and now thanks to Barefoot Contessa, I love them baked in a custard!

This is the easiest dessert that I've made in a while. It's adapted from Ina's Barefoot in Paris recipe for a pear clafouti. I had about four nectarines that would spoil before I could eat them, so I wanted to use them. It's basically a custard/pancake batter poured over the fruit and then baked. The sweet/tart nectarines and the creamy custard with a little cinnamon are delicious. (Belle, I saw the plum tart tatin and can't wait to try it - but I was too greedy and ate all the plums on hand first :)

Pear Clafouti (adapted with nectarines)

1 TBS unsalted butter, soft
1/3 cup plus 1 TBS granulated sugar
3 extra large eggs at room temperature
6 TBS all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp grated lemon zest (I omitted this because these nectarines were pretty tart)
1/4 tsp kosher salt (I used regular table salt)
2 TBS pear brandy (Poire William) (I also omitted this since my nectarines are pretty juicy)
(ADDITION - 2 tsp cinnamon)
4 very ripe nectarines (if using pears - 2-3 firm but ripe Bartlett pears)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 10" round baking dish and sprinkle bottom with granulated sugar (I used a 9" square pan with a delicious result - if slightly less pretty :)

2. Beat eggs and 1/3 cup sugar in electric mixer on medium high speed until light and fluffy - 3 minutes (mine never got "fluffy" but I beat for 3 minutes and the recipe worked). On low speed, mix in flour, cream, vanilla, cinnamon (if using), lemon zest (if using), salt and pear brandy (if using). Set aside for 10 minutes.

3. (If using pears, peel quarter and slice them). I kept the peel on the nectarines because I like the color, and simply sliced them in little quadrants (it's very hard to cut wedges of nectarine). Arrange the slices in a single layer (neatly if possible) on the bottom of the baking dish. Pour the batter over the fruit and bake until the top is golden brown and the custard is firm - about 35-40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. It's very good with vanilla ice cream, and I bet it would be delicious the next day as well with a cup of coffee.
4. A note on seasoning. I like cinnamon, so if you aren't a big fan, maybe reduce it to 1 tsp. I bet this recipe would work really well with plums, or the more traditional cherries. You could also try adding some grated fresh ginger, orange zest, nutmeg - whatever.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Plum Upside-Down Cake

Ok, this was fantastic! And completely easy to make. I made it during nap time, and managed not to mess it up despite a pretty serious interruption from Baby K. I posted a photo of it in my post yesterday. The recipe comes from the August issue of Real Simple. I've just started trying their recipes, and I'm really impressed with the balance of speed, nutrition and taste!

Plum Upside-Down Cake

1/2 cup plus 1 TBS unsalted butter
4 firm, ripe plums, each cut into about 7-8 wedges. I think you could substitute nectarines or peaches, but you might want to add a little lemon juice since they aren't as tart as plums?
1/4 cup plus 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
2/3 cup sour cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment. (Normally I skip lining pans, but I think you have to here, otherwise the fruit would stick!)

2. Melt 1 TBS butter in large skillet over medium high heat. Add the plums and 1/4 cup sugar, tossing until sugar dissolves and plums get all nice and syrupy - about 3-4 minutes. Arrange the plums in a pretty pattern in the bottom of the pan (or, if your baby starts screaming, simply dump the plums and juice into the bottom where they make a pretty, abstract pattern of their own).

3. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

4. In a large bowl or mixer, beat together the remaining 1/2 cup butter and 2/3 cup sugar until fluffy. Mix in the egg and sour cream, then add the vanilla. Gradually add the flour until it is just incorporated. (I think this could get tough if you over mix the flour).

5. Pour the batter over the plums and bake until toothpick/tester inserted in the middle comes out clean - about 50-55 minutes. Cool in the pan for 1 hour, then invert onto serving plate and peel off parchment from the bottom. A couple of plums may stick to the parchment, but I was able to place them on top of the cake.

This is a really pretty jewel colored cake, and really easy to make. I served it with vanilla ice cream when the cake was slightly warm. It's also very good the next day. I bet this would work really well with whipped cream or slightly sweetened mascarpone cheese?

P.S. Amy, thanks for your comment. If you are still allowing new blog readers, I'd love an invitation. My email is proseccoandpeaches at gmail dot com Thanks!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Summertime and the blogger is lazy

So, it's been almost a month - but what a month. We've celebrated an anniversary, gone to the beach, and taken a very brief and wonderful trip to La Jolla. I'm back! I need to update lots of recipes that I've been trying, as well as post the birth announcements and the baptismal gown...but here's my start. I hope you are all having a FANTASTIC summer!





Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Best Marinade In The World (I am not joking about this)

I found this recipe in a Glamour magazine (don't laugh). It is hands down one of the easiest and most delicious ways to spice up chicken breasts, and if you marinate a flank steak, I guarantee you'll have a main course fancy enough for company!

Marinade Ingredients

4 cloves minced garlic
1 TBS minced ginger - if I don't have a ginger root - I throw in a little powdered ginger
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. sugar
2 TBS freshly squeezed lime juice (I tend to use a little more - about two whole limes squeezed)
1 TBS roasted sesame oil (I substitute regular olive oil if I'm out)
4 grinds fresh pepper
(Lately I've been adding a pinch of red pepper flakes for a little extra heat too)

1 flank steak (approximately 1 lb to serve four)

Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl and then add steak/chicken. If you're using a steak, I'd opt to marinate overnight for maximum flavor and then grill to your liking (we tend to go medium rare). If you're using chicken, I like to use the breasts with the skin and the ribs for grilling, and you can make this marinade the day you're going to cook.

I've served this so many different times and everyone always loves it. I like it with a big green salad with goat cheese, pecans and cranberries with vinagrette (aka my "pregnancy salad") and with mashed potatoes in the winter or rice in the summer. It's really delicious with a pinot noir or a syrah - but it is also good with rose/pink champagne.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

New Mama Favorites

Hi there! It's finally summer here in LA - and I'm recovering from some sort of weird 24 hour fever. I thought being sick and pregnant was bad, but being sick with a newborn wins hands down. Baby K is in her swing, and I'm posting and on the mend.

I finally made it to see "The Hangover" this weekend and it was hilarious! We were able to sneak out thanks to some kind babysitters for a matinee.

Baby K is getting so big and so alert - she's turning into a real little person now.

I used to love getting facials every few months, but I'm thinking I don't have time to do that anymore :). Here's my solution. Bliss Steep Clean mask is perfect. It is gentle enough so that you aren't red and raw after using, but gets deep enough to really get the glow and make you feel like you've had a pretty serious cleaning. With all the dirt in the air now that it's hot, I think a more thorough cleaning is in order and this fits the bill!

The Joe's socialite jean - my answer to skinny. I don't do skinny jeans (I have really big feet and I think they emphasize my size 10's :). These are pretty much straight - and so comfy and flattering. I'm thrilled that they fit me again! They are also fantastically soft and stretchy!
Japanese Weekend - so soft, so comfy, and so easy to nurse in. This top I have in blue, and it's perfect. I use a nursing apron too (I'm a huge prude), but these tops make it really easy for first time moms to discretely feed babies and then get dressed again.



Ahem - PSA about skin cancer and the sun. My obstetrician recommended going to the dermatologist after Baby K was born, because pregnancy can trigger changes in your skin which may be precancerous. (You should go to the dermatologist every year for a skin cancer evaluation anyway - Icing loves you and doesn't want you to get melanoma:). Here's what I'm wearing on my face and arms this summer. It's fantastic. So light, oil free and doesn't drip in your eyes even on a long walk. Please be sun safe and careful out there!


So now, it's almost time for the 4th of July. I'm thinking that Baby K and I may just need to go up to Malibu during this week for a little adventure at the beach before it gets too crowded. What are you all up to?




Wednesday, June 24, 2009

8 weeks

OMG - Baby K is now 12 pounds and almost out of the newborn size diapers. Where did my itty bitty baby go? She's so cute now, but I miss the brand new baby just a bit :).

Solar Powered - I live in a walking neighborhood, and can do most of my errands on foot, so I have the Bugaboo Chameleon. It is pretty easy to fold up for the car, but I think if I did most stuff driving, I'd want something a little smaller and easier to fold. I also wouldn't need the big sturdy wheels. Since I like taking walks for exercise - this is worth it, but I'm not sure it would be if I didn't walk a lot - we go out for a long walk almost every day!

Happy Wednesday - I'll add a picture to this post later today!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Tame Birth Story

I know some of you reading are expecting (hi there solar powered:) so I wanted to share my very tame and PG birth story. (This really is tame - so if you want to read about wild home births, dramatic surgery or near death experiences, this isn't for you!) I had so many people scare me silly about pretty much everything, and in the end - it was all fine! (Better than fine, because I got Baby K, who is napping downstairs).

Baby K was late. At my 40 week appointment, my doctor recommended an induction at 40 weeks and 6 days - as there is a very slight risk of complications if you wait for 42 weeks to induce w/o medical reasons. (Since Baby K and I were both very healthy, there was no need for a medically indicated induction - which is always a good idea if your doctor advises it).

I was so nervous, because I'd heard all sorts of horror stories about inductions ending in c sections, or very long and painful labors. I was also terrified that my epidural might not work, because I have very mild scoliosis - and that can make it harder to get the medication equally dispersed on both sides. But, I trusted my doctor, and was convinced that it was in the best interest of me and of Baby K to get her out.

So, we checked into the hospital in the wee hours of the morning (2:00 a.m.) and were shown to our lovely suite with a panoramic view of the Hollywood Hills. The hospital thought I was a second time mom, so they didn't think I would be in the room for too long - and wrong they were. I was placed on a pitocin drip about an hour later, and had some contractions - a little uncomfortable, but nothing really painful.

The epidural process went really well. The team came to my room about 15 minutes after the pitocin drip. My husband stayed with me, and the doctor explained everything that was happening. He numbed me with a tiny needle - and I didn't even feel the epidural needle going in. He also reassured me that most people with mild scoliosis have no problems with the epidural, and mine certainly worked.

So, we settled in and took a little nap. When I woke up in the morning at around 7:30, my doctor checked on my progress, and I was already 6 centimeters along. She thought breaking my water would be a good thing to do at that point, and so she did. Again, I didn't feel a thing. They had actually taken me off the pitocin, because I was now in labor on my own. Clearly, Baby K just needed a little coaxing coming out.

At around 10:00 in the morning, my lovely nurse noticed that Baby K didn't like contractions when I was lying on my back or my left side. So, I had to wear the oxygen mask and lie on my right side. Annoying, but not horribly uncomfortable. And that's how we spent most of the day. By about 7:30 at night, I was at 10 centimeters. I had one of the epidurals that allows you to hit a button for more medication, and I was so comfy that I didn't really need to give myself any more!

Pushing was hard work, but again, I was pretty comfy, so I could listen to my doctor's instructions and follow them. I could feel when I had to push, but I could also stop when she told me to. Since Baby K was a little bigger than anticipated (they thought she was about 7-8 pounds), it took about 1.5 hours to push my little 9 pound munchkin out. I did it, and thanks to my marvelous doctor - I had very minimal tearing/other stuff that I'm squeamish about. So, at 10:00 p.m., Baby and I were cleaned up and wheeled to recovery. (I did send her to the nursery for both nights of my hospital stay - she came back for feedings, but I am glad that I did, because I needed the rest). I also sent my husband home the second night because he was so tired! Those little chairs are not comfy at all.

Honestly, I had more pain in my right hip from lying on it the entire day than from delivery. So, I just wanted to share one positive and happy baby story. I was going for walks around the neighborhood a couple of days after I got home from the hospital, and was pretty much back to moderate exercise (walking 3.5 miles at a slow pace) by two weeks out. If you're having a baby, I wish you the best of luck and a very easy delivery!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Progress and Deliciousness (Is that a word?)

Apologies for the lack of posts lately, but we've been pretty busy with visitors and the new baby routine. So, to make it up to those of you who are still reading, this post covers a wide range of topics - including what my MIL and I and my mum have determined is THE BEST BROWNIE RECIPE in the world (the caps are not excessive - this really is it). The brownies are the Maida Heatter Palm Beach brownies, and the recipe is below the photo.

Maida Heatter's Palm Beach Brownies (with some minor edits)

8 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
8 oz (two sticks) unsalted butter
5 eggs (large or extra large)
1 TBS vanilla
1 tsp almond extract (I just add in more vanilla)
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 TBS dry instant espresso or other powdered (NOT GRANULATED) instant coffee
3 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour (sift if you please, but I am generally too lazy)
8 oz walnut halves or the nuts of your preference (I prefer my brownies nut free :)

1. Adjust oven rack so that it is in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees. Grease a 9x13x2 inch pan (and she lines it with foil that is greased, but I don't think it's necessary).

2. Melt the chocolate and butter together - either in a double boiler or the microwave. I think the microwave is MUCH easier, I just heat in 30 second intervals and make sure to stir well between heatings so that the butter keeps the chocolate from scorching. When melted, set aside and allow to cool a little

3. In the large bowl of your mixer, beat the eggs with the vanilla, sugar, salt and coffee powder for 10 minutes on high speed. Turn the speed down to low and add the chocolate mixture, beating only until mixed. Likewise, add the flour on low speed, mixing only until all combined.

4. Pour into greased pan and bake for 35 minutes. Now, you will note that the edges get a little dry. This doesn't bother me, whereas Mrs. Heatter recommends trimming and discarding the edges. I think that's wasting chocolate! I do agree that you must make these a day in advance, as they are simply too rich and fudgy to cut the first day. So, cut yourself a nice piece the first day, and serve the rest to some really nice people the second day. These also freeze like a dream, so you can microwave them for delicious brownies anytime.

Below is my favorite little sous chef surveying the kitchen and for ONCE, being chill in her car seat. Seriously, she only likes the seat when she's in the car, or it's snapped into her stroller. Any suggestions? Everyone else's baby seems to like to hang out in the seat, but not Miss K!


This past weekend was my birthday, so I celebrated by picking up some adorable Lilly for Mommy and me fun. Miss K was so comfy in the Lilly boutique that she required a prompt diaper change. Fortunately the owner was so nice and helpful - it still makes me a little uncomfortable asking if there's a restroom or other place to change her - but I can't let her sit in a dirty diaper!



Miss K and I have embarked on an exploration of the many "Mommy and Me" classes here in LA. We went to Mommy and Me yoga twice last week - but as it is during Ms. K's preferred napping hours, I'm not sure we'll be going back, as she was VERY MEAN and not very calm. This Wednesday I'm going to try to check out Mommy Bootcamp, and I'm signing up for a Mommy discussion group for later this summer. In the meantime, I've discovered that Miss K really likes Motown/Soul, so this post is brought to you courtesy of the Motown/Soul music station on Direct TV. Happy Monday, and I'll be trying some new recipes this week, so keep your eyes peeled!



Friday, June 5, 2009

Yummy

Here's what was cooking last night - easy and delicious. It's based on a recipe from Giada, but I tried to make it a little healthier, and it still tasted delicious:

Penne with Sausage, Peas and Ricotta

1 lb penne - I used whole wheat
turkey sausage - uncooked (like the little breakfast sausages - I used about three)
1 clove minced garlic
1-2 cups frozen peas - you could use another veggie too - like broccoli?
1/2 cup ricotta cheese - I used part skim - I think all skim would be wierd and rubbery
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes

1. Boil pasta water. In skillet, brown turkey sausage and garlic over medium heat. Add tomatoes and their juice. Let simmer.
2. About two minutes before pasta will be done, add frozen peas to pasta. When al dente, drain. Add hot pasta and peas to turkey sausage and tomatoes. Toss. Add ricotta and toss some more until everything is melded. Serve with a little grated Parmesan on top.


It's really nice to have a drink again. I enjoyed this glass of wine and the pasta above thanks to the miraculous baby swing.

How cute are the feet of this little outfit? I'm a big fan of suits that snap, rather than zip, for ease of access for changing.
Happy Weekend!


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thankful Thursday

(apologies for the title - I know it's been done before)

I've been thinking lately about all the things I should be grateful for, and it's time to start listing them. Some of these are small and silly, others are quite large indeed. With all the horrible things in the news and going on in the world, it certainly doesn't hurt to count the blessings, does it?

1. A healthy baby. She has a plugged tear duct, but according to our doctor, it's a minor problem. Phew. I wasted an entire day yesterday envisioning horrific scenarios and harassing her by taking her temperature.

2. Same for the rest of my family and me. I read an article in the NYT talking about how dangerous birth is for mothers and babies in Africa, and it really made me reflect on how lucky I am to live in America. We take so many things for granted here. My biggest worry was if I had a C-Section how much it would hurt - dying was a remote possibility at best.

3. Living in a walking neighborhood. Baby K has only been in the car a few times - her stroller is my "wheels" and we go for a nice walk every day.

4. Summer. I spent the last part of the previous summer being very nauseous and looking for discrete places to throw up thanks to an impressive case of morning sickness. (I never did throw up, I just felt terrible and wanted to throw up for weeks 5-12). This summer I'm excited to take Baby to the beach and to enjoy silly summer beverages.

5. Friends. Having a baby is a scary transformation - and I really appreciate all the kind people who cooked for us, called, and just checked in to see that we're ok. It makes everything seem better.

6. Sleep. Baby K is down to one middle of the night feeding, and I'm praying that she stays on this path.

7. The swing. Baby K will generally conk out for 30 minutes in it during the day...hence time to write here and read all your fabulous blogs.

8. This week my part time babysitter started. Even when I'm in the house, it's so nice to be able to deal with issues uninterrupted by a shrieking baby. (like last week when I had to register her on my insurance. I think the insurers may have reported me to child services, because she was SCREAMING!)

9. Being able to help others. I'm one of those people who get the warm fuzzies from volunteering. Especially with children. I am doing the same JLLA placement this year - working with kids and reading for a few Saturdays. It is so much fun!

10. My lovely and caring husband. Who recognizes the child care can be exhausting and scary. Who doesn't judge that there aren't a whole lot of delicious baked goods or other sorts of treats coming out of the kitchen these days. And, he just loves Baby K to bits. Seeing them together gives me the warm fuzzies.

11. (This is vain and silly) - Pregnancy didn't change my shoe size. So all the lovelies still fit!

What are you thankful for these days?

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Mish Mosh Post

Baby K is one month old as of last week. We're starting to get into a routine, and I'm starting to figure out how to dress postpartum. Some of my old clothing fits, but sadly not everything. I'm really trying to make a point to dress presentably (i.e. clean, showered and a little makeup).

Gap is making some cute and really practical tops for nursing - and this one is on sale now. I may order it in more colors, but for right now, this purple is one of my favorites.

Here's the cake of Orangette's - please search for it on her blog and try it - it is like chocolate mousse only slightly more solid! It is called the "winning hearts and minds" cake and was so incredibly easy to make. I served it with coffee ice cream. So, dinner last Friday went very well. The steak and salad were delicious, and our friends brought the most delicious baked orzo. The cake was very good too - and I enjoyed eating the leftovers this weekend:).

Here are my new jeans, which are on super sale at Bluefly. The brand is Earnest Sewn, and these are very soft denim, with a great, slouchy trouser leg. I need to get them hemmed, but they rock and they aren't "Mom" jeans. Does anyone wear "Mom" jeans anymore anyway?
BTW, how incredibly awkward is this season of Jon and Kate Plus 8? It's like a wreck on the freeway - you don't want to look, but you do anyway!



Thursday, May 28, 2009

PSA


For you all out there who are pregnant - Isabella Oliver is doing a sale on dresses with the code "Dresses" at http://www.isabellaoliver.com/womens-clothes so check them out. That's the black wrap dress I wore from month 6 through 9 and posted about earlier.


Plus, I got an email from their online marketing people about a new and gorgeous line of lingerie they are doing for pregnancy. It's too late for me...but I posted some of the pictures above. They do pretty nursing bras as well - which seems worth looking into. There's nothing that cheers me up more than pretty undies!
Baby K and I were incredibly lazy. It's cool and foggy - hello June gloom - so we had a lovely lunchtime visit from my friend J who left the most delicious chicken and rice casserole. We ate Chinese takeout and sparkling wine, and then she surprised me with the most delicious chocolate and cheesecake tarts from Amandine. How perfect.
In other random reality T.V. news - I'm addicted to "Say Yes to the Dress" on TLC - are there any other good ones? I need them for the late night viewing in the nursery!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Le Diner

So, we're having some friends over for dinner on Friday night, and that means dinner. Since these people have already visited us and provided us with a delicious dinner, I wanted to at least make something simple and tasty, rather than having them bring us food again.

Here's the plan (and it's a plan in the loosest sense of the word)

Marinated flank steak - grilled outside.
Salad (my favorite one with the goat cheese, pecans and cranberries).
Some sort of side - I'll ask them to bring it
Orangette's winning hearts and minds chocolate cake - if you haven't tried it - do so immediately, because it will change your life. With some vanilla and coffee ice cream.

Maybe some olives and grapes and cheese for starters?

1. Today during the long nap time - go through the recipes and make shopping list. (possibly make dessert too - if I have the ingredients?)
2. When N comes home, head to the grocery store to pick up ingredients.
3. During the Thursday long nap time - prepare steak marinade and dessert.
4. Thursday evening - declutter and vacuum.
5. Friday morning - after the doctor - during long nap walk to Whole Foods to get some cheese, olives and crackers for starters. And flowers.
6. Friday after N comes home, prepare salad and set table.

Can I do it? Am I insane? I'll post the recipes and how it goes. Wish me luck! (Fortunately, these are good friends, so if we end up with takeout Chinese and dessert from 711, we'll still have a lovely time.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Things The Newly Non-Pregnant Like

Baby K has the lung capacity and volume of a full-grown hyena. (We also have hardwood floors through the house, which may explain why she's so resonant). However, even when she's shrieking like a banshee and flailing her tiny and adorable limbs, the swaddleme blanket keeps her wrapped down and cozy, so she can eventually fall asleep. Yes, it does look like a tiny strait jacket (Nana Icing kept calling it a strait jacket), but it works. I will be buying this as a practical baby present along with fun stuff for friends from here on out. (In fact, this post was brought to you courtesy of the swaddleme!)
Eclat du Jour is another favorite magical product. My makeup routine these days is sunscreen, tinted moisturizer and concealer with a little lipgloss and blush thrown in on the side. Some days though, that's a bit too much. So, that's where Eclat du Jour comes in. You pat a little dollop of this peachy cream on your face, and you are magically glowing and rosy, not haggard and shrew like. Plus, it has that nice "European" floral but not sweet smell (I can't describe it, but I LOVE it). I bought a bunch the last time I was in the duty free shop in the Paris airport, but I think it's wonderful enough to justify retail in the US too. BTW, it also works as a primer under foundation if you're more together than I am these days. :)

(Since I'm not pregnant anymore, I figured I needed to update the title of my likes and dislikes posts - it isn't quite as catchy as the previous version, but it is more accurate.)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What We've Been Up To

Baby K is taking a tiny nap on her blankie, so I wanted to get back into the world of blogging - at least for a few minutes!

Mama Icing was dropped off at the airport last night, after three wonderful weeks of full on Nana attention. I miss her already. She was a master at soothing the fussies, and allowing me to get as caught up on my sleep as possible for a new parent! Hopefully she'll come back again this summer.

One of the best things my mum did was to make sure that Baby K and I got out for a walk every day. The weather has been beautiful here, and it certainly made me feel better to get out and get some fresh air. So, Baby K and I went out on our own this morning and it was wonderful. We're waiting for N to come back with lunch, then I'm planning to sneak out to get my nails done. My pedicure has done pretty well for the last four weeks, but I need a new one!

Sadly, I don't have any new recipes to post, for the simple reason that we have been living off of the things I froze pre-arrival. I doubt second time parents have time to do a lot of freezing and cooking, but if anyone is reading who is a first timer - it's such a life saver to have lots of meals stored up and frozen. Now that Mama is gone though, I think I'm going to have to do some replenishing, plus, we did think we found the definitive best brownie recipe - so watch this space.

In any event, I'm excited to catch up on all the blogs and start edging Baby K toward a rough schedule over the next couple of months. Happy Memorial Day and start of summer!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Belated Mother's Day!

Mine was lovely. I got a pair of beautiful diamond studs from N and K (they are K's birthstone) and lots of flowers/cards and kind wishes from all our friends and family! It is such a special day, and I'm so glad that my mum was here to share it with us! We had a lovely cookout at a friend's mother's house, and Baby K was on her best behavior.

Today was a good day too - we had a nice active period between 4-6 in the morning, but thanks to Nana Icing, I was able to sleep in a little. We took a nice stroll, and I went to the grocery store in the afternoon - by myself. It was the first time that I've been able to easily load my car since the big part of my pregnancy! And, guess who is wearing non-maternity jeans? That would be me! Granted, they are a little snug in the top and they are J Brand (ridiculous amounts of stretch).

I'm still looking for the best time to blog, but I promise that I'll be back soon with my top picks for the postpartum life.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Things I Am Learning

I'm still here, and in the trenches of figuring out Baby K. We've had a few bad nights, but thanks to Nana Icing, I'm able to nap during the day, which is wonderful. Here is a top ten list of the last few days:

1. Cloth diapers are great to use as burp cloths and to line the changing table pad, the car seat, and pretty much anything else that Baby K may mess up - thus limiting washing to easy little cloths, not taking apart the car seat.

2. Setting up a changing station upstairs (our bedrooms are downstairs) has saved me so much time during the day. I keep a little canvas basket with diapers, wipes, Desitin and cloth diapers by an old towel laid out on a window seat. It is a life saver.

3. The Boppy. I had no idea I could love a pillow this much - but I do. I'm buying another one to leave downstairs. It really helps with nursing!

4. Leftovers/Food Gifts. We are blessed to have friends who make delicious food for us! This week I have not cooked at all, other than to reheat in the microwave! It is fantastic. We are able to eat nutritiously without a major expenditure of time! Today we got a most delightful surprise; a messenger arrived with a dozen Sprinkles cupcakes for us from a dear friend. How fun is that? I'll try not to eat them all!

5. Nursing clothing - great idea. I highly recommend Japanese Weekend - their tops are really cute and comfy! The nursing pjs are going to be one of my top picks for gifts to new mums!

6. Getting confirmation from Pottery Barn Kids that our glider has shipped! FINALLY! I'm really sick of nursing on a little stool in the nursery!

7. TIVO/DVR. Wonderful for those late night feedings, or when I'm trying to rock Baby K to sleep. I'm now caught up on all my episodes of Barefoot Countessa and Everyday Italian. CSI too!

8. My stroller. The Chameleon has been perfect for our daily walks around the neighborhood - and the bassinet has plenty of room for Baby K and some groceries/errands/letters. Plus, it is bright pink, so all the maniacal Westside drivers will hopefully see it before running us down!

9. Nana Icing - she lets me sleep in and take naps. She has been there done that for every possible childhood crisis, and keeps a cool head. And, she has magical powers over fussy babies.

10. Showers. I've been setting a goal of taking a shower every day. It feels so good to be nice and clean - even if my hair isn't blown out. I should also thank Nana for allowing me to do this!

I'm still trying to read all your lovely blogs, but tend to do it in the middle of the night, so I'm not commenting as much as before. I'll be back full force once we get some sort of schedule underway that is more than just feeding Baby K every 2.5-3 hours :)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hello Baby K

Hi all! Thanks for your kind wishes! We are all adjusting to life at home, and are really looking forward to Nana Icing arriving tomorrow. Here is the big beautiful baby who had a great pediatrician's appointment today, and seemed to enjoy a nice walk around the neighborhood. I was a little tired from walking to and from the appointment (it is MAYBE half a mile), but hopefully we will be taking longer walks in a few weeks. A topic of heated debate around here is her permanent eye color - any thoughts?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

She's Here

Baby Icing arrived on Monday night! She was a surprising 9 pounds and 1 ounce and 20 inches. I'm glad they didn't let her stay in for another week! Thanks to my great doctor and the wonderful nurses, it was a very positive experience...and lots of thanks to the kind resident who brought me lots of ice chips and helped with the delivery. We're home from the hospital and trying to get settled, so I'll try to post some pictures soon. Her first name starts with a K, and so far, the cats seem to think that she is someone best admired from a safe distance. Thanks for your kind thoughts and wishes!

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Last Weekend

So, Baby Icing did really well at our appointment today. She was "not stressed" at all during my non stress test, and has lots of fluid to hang out in. Frankly, I'm a little stressed that she won't come out, and am very much looking forward to the wee hours of Monday, when we get the process rolling and I get to meet her! I'm a little scared of induction, but I trust my doctor and it seems like I just need a little push to coax her out. Please cross your fingers that everything goes well, because I'm a little afraid of surgery!

So, given that this is the last weekend, I went for a pedicure (Peru a Ruby - OPI is awesome if you're pale like I am), stopped by the grocery store and tried another brownie recipe (Maida Heatter's "Palm Beach Brownies"). I'll try to post a review of them and the recipe tomorrow. I think we're going to lay low this weekend. I'm trying to order a cherry pie for N's birthday next Friday and to wrap up his presents. We'll go to some open houses and watch playoff basketball. Any suggestions of other fun things to do in a last weekend before parenting?

My mum is scheduling her trip, and will be with Baby Icing and I for a good 3 weeks (thank goodness, because scarier than having the baby is taking her home and taking good care of her!). So, I hope you have a lovely weekend, and I think I can safely say that early next week, I should be able to introduce my little one! Happy Weekend!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Yummy Butterscotch Pudding

(Image courtesy of YumSugar)

I mentioned last Friday that I had made a very easy butterscotch pudding, and while I was too lazy to photograph it, I did want to share the recipe. Pudding used to be a little scary for me, because egg custards make me nervous. You're always walking a fine line between curdled nastiness and delicious pudding. But, egg custards are delicious. However, sometimes you want pudding without worrying about eggs. This pudding is from Gourmet Magazine's February 2009 edition, and it is easy and delicious. It's a perfect hot weather dinner dessert, because you could make it earlier in the day, chill in individual dishes and then just take out to come to room temperature as you are serving the main course.

Butterscotch Pudding

1/2 cup dark brown sugar (you really need the flavor)
2 TBS plus 2 tsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 TBS unsalted butter, cut into little bits
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

  1. Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and a pinch of salt in a heavy saucepan. Then whisk in the milk and cream over medium heat.
  2. Allow mixture to come to a boil over the medium heat, stirring/whisking constantly. After the mixture comes to a boil, whisking constantly for one minute.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Pour into bowl or bowls, and cover the top of the puddings with buttered wax or parchment paper. Chill until cold, at least 1.5 hours.
  4. You could garnish with whipped cream and shaved dark chocolate, or fresh berries.

As you can tell, Baby Icing is taking her sweet time. So, today was household chores day. I hung some curtains in our loft, and finally polished a mountain of silver...since I am pretty sure I won't be doing that before the next time we have a fancy family dinner. Then I made some more soup to freeze. I'm trying to be patient, and despite being a little uncomfortable, I'm kind of enjoying puttering around the house and taking care of little projects here and there. It also helps that I know she's going to be coaxed out on Monday, if she still refuses to come on her own. I'm getting lots of check in telephone calls from friends and family, so I'm feeling fine. Now, I think I may treat myself to a nap...no point in overdoing it - right?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Time On The Couch

I've been spending a lot of time here recently, and one of my guilty pleasures is reading urbanbaby.com. It's a website/forum for expecting/parent types, and it is wild. It's based in NYC, so I can read about how crazy preschool admissions are there, in addition to reading all sorts of heated debates - like cosleeping, home birth, breastfeeding, natural childbirth, etc.

Living in LA, you don't often get to eavesdrop on other people, so urban baby is my way of finding out what is up in the world of competitive parenting. It alternatively makes me howl with laughter or freak out...but it's a good way to waste a few hours. I think I'm a bit more middle of the road than most of the people posting there, but they sure are fun to read!

This afternoon, my big project is to make some congo bars to freeze and pop out when it's time to go to the hospital...I'm losing energy rapidly, and really want to make sure I have something for those nurses!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Things Pregnant People Love When It's Really Hot!

It is still rather disgustingly hot here. And, though today is the "due day" I think Baby Icing is too overcome with heat to even think of coming out until it cools off. So, we are lying low, watching Food Network and doing a little cleaning. I'm scheduled for an induction next Monday if she doesn't come out on her own...but I sure would like her to show up on the early side of that!

This morning an appraiser came over to evaluate our townhouse so that if/when Baby Icing starts getting into trouble with all our wide open spaces and dangerous stairs, we can be ready to put this on the market. I think I'm a little hormonal, because even thinking about moving makes me weepy.

So as not to completely waste the day, I did drag myself back to Trader Joe's for more sorbets and other cool foods. I have to say, I'm in love with Double Rainbow - their chocolate and raspberry sorbets are to die for! TJ's makes a pretty good mango sorbet too. Plus, that parking lot in Westwood is so nice and easy during the week - how could I not take advantage of it.


And, I want to do a plug for the hardest-working maternity dress on the block - my short sleeve black wrap from Isabella Oliver. I don't have a lot of summery maternity stuff, because it generally doesn't get hot around here till later, and often April and May are quite cool and cloudy. That is obviously not the case this week, and this black dress is flattering and cool. I have a black summer dress from Old Navy that literally looks like a hospital gown or a sack, but I won't wear that if people have to see me, because it looks like I'm carrying at least four toddlers!
So, that's all the news from the home front. The cats are camped out on the tile floors downstairs, and I'm looking forward to the heatwave breaking so that I can go out for a little walk or something soon! If you would send "baby hurry up vibes" I certainly would appreciate it - as you can imagine, I'm getting really curious and can't wait to meet her!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hot Hot Hot

The title is in reference to the weather here - it's going to be in the 90's here on the west side today. :( This is not the temperature of choice for the woman one day before her due date. So, I'm going downstairs to our cool and dark bedroom to spend the rest of the day watching my SATC dvds and drinking ice water. Like a vampire, I won't be venturing out until it's dark. I wonder how dated the first couple seasons are going to look now?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Little Things

I had my 39 week check up today, and Baby Icing is doing quite well, while I'm apparently getting ready for the big arrival, so let's cross our fingers she decides to show up soon!

Then I went to the paradise that is the Westwood Trader Joe's at 10:00 in the morning. It has great parking, wide aisles, and a really great selection. I would think it is horrible on the weekends, but this morning was lovely. Why does TJ's always choose locations in LA with bad parking? The one in Woodland Hills was the only truly large parking lot that I've ever seen!

I had my last eyebrows and related waxing appointment today - my aesthetician had to help me up! At least my eyebrows are ready for some post baby photos. And, tomorrow is my belated cut and color - my hairdresser is making a house call for me! We've been together for 7 years now, and I adore her. My friend M also uses her, and she'll be coming too - which will be super fun. So, I most likely won't have roots in the post-baby photos!

I made N butterscotch pudding (I'll post the recipe and pictures later) that was just so delicious! Now I'm resting on the couch and enjoying the beautiful spring weather through the open windows. Happy Weekend!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Is there any more room in the freezer?

Ok. I'm going to be totally honest and admit that I didn't actually get showered and dressed until around noon today. But, despite that, I was productive. I hung the smaller pictures in Baby Icing's room - the big poster should probably be done by someone whose tummy doesn't force them to stand almost two feet away from the wall! And, I did some research on the video camera and think I have our selection made. Plus, I made two delicious things from Orangette's blog - the chocolate cake last night...shown below. I'm thrilled, because N's birthday is in early May, and this cake is supposed to freeze really well. This, plus a nice cherry tart from the good French bakery should be two good choices for an easy birthday dinner.


Then, I made Orangette's nutmeg muffins. The idea of nutmeg as the leading flavor may sound odd, but I want to tell you that these are some of the most delicious little treats ever. Essentially, they are like little cake doughnuts that are baked - not fried. They freeze like a dream, and are delicious with coffee and tea. Mama Icing is a particular fan, so I wanted to have some ready for her arrival. In case you can't tell, I'm a total baker and need to work hard on my "cooking." Baking is just so easy because you follow the rules - with some small modifications :)
I've been treating myself to fresh flowers every week for the last few months, and am particularly enjoying the "Lipstick" roses as shown below. Ten bucks buys a dozen roses that last for about a week and they are just so pretty.

Tomorrow I have an early morning doctor's appointment to check on the baby, and then I'm doing some serious errands. Specifically, getting some sort of screen to make the sleeping loft a little more private, getting myself some little snacks to eat at the hospital (apparently if your baby is born in the middle of the night, you stay hungry until the hospital serves you breakfast the next morning!), and more groceries.
I have also decided not to go private. Instead, I'm keeping this as my place to vent where my family/friends don't really know about it, and I'll just be a little more circumspect about the details - plus, I really like posting all the recipes - which would probably not interest people looking for baby photos. However, for those of you who leave comments fairly frequently and would like, I'm happy to friend you on Facebook, where Baby Icing will be very prominently documented. So, feel free to email me, and if we've previously emailed or corresponded, I'll friend you. I may do a separate baby blog too, but let's face it - I have one of the least tech savvy blogs ever, so I probably won't push my luck :).
Happy almost weekend. Please check out Orangette's blog to get the recipes posted above - the stories that go with them are so sweet that you shouldn't miss them!


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Adventures in Santa Monica

I went to the neatest little store today. It's a shop in Santa Monica that sells all imported Italian products. I was able to snag a freshly baked ciabatta, some Italian Nutella (a little more chocolatey than the American variety), a very nicely aged Parmesan for N, some pancetta for both of us (and the cats :), and some pretty pottery. All in all, a fun little adventure.

Baby Icing had a busy day of wiggling around, which I think means that she isn't interested in coming outside because she feels like she has plenty of room in there! I suppose I can't blame her too much. One good back pain trick that has been helping me and that I thought I'd share is bouncing on that silly exercise ball. I try to sit on it for a while during watching TV, and it does make my back feel a little better. All in all, I can't complain much. She'll come out when she is ready...or we'll evict her the week after next!

I tried the "Hearts and Minds" cake from Orangette's book, and I'll post a picture tomorrow. It's the sweetest story that she writes about it. I'm in love with her book! Tomorrow I'm going to try some stuffed shells (I may share a picture of my freezer - it seriously looks like I'm preparing for nuclear winter) and some sort of cookie/brownies to test for the l & d nurses. I also need to finish hanging the photos for Baby's room - one of the cats must have hidden the hammer!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easy Peasy Breezy

That was today - I made some really tasty black beans from Cook's Illustrated. My hat is off to that publication, because clearly only the most rigorously tested recipes are used. I love their online subscription, because you can store recipes and menus in a little online recipe box. So far, everything that I've made has been a great success.

A trip to the drugstore for more essentials prior to Baby Icing arriving, and a quick stop by my doctor's office to confirm that no, my water had not broken (I figured it hadn't, but wanted to make sure) and since I have that strep B, they make you come in. Everyone in the doctor's office is so nice, and they got me in and out in about 30 minutes! The good news is that I'm progressing along, and Baby Icing is apparently happy as a clam in there! Hopefully we can persuade her to come out at some time soon!

Now I'm taking it easy on the couch and gearing up to do some prenatal yoga to stretch out my back - any back pain suggestions would be most appreciated! Also, what do you think the L & D nurses would like as a snack? I was thinking a pan of brownies or congo bars - those are pretty easy, but are there any better options I'm not considering?

Monday, April 13, 2009

The End of Week 38

I had a wee bit of heartburn last night, and ended up sleeping in until 10:00 today to make up for some middle of the night wakefulness. So, I'm sort of feeling like the cats today. However, despite that minor setback, I did manage to accomplish the following:

  1. Buy a futon for our loft/guest sleeping space that appears to be comfy and is queen-sized.
  2. Buy an exercise ball and some small free weights for after Baby Icing arrives and I need to start thinking about bathing suits :(
  3. Went to the most awesome kitchen/cook's supply store ever. It's called Surfa's and is in Culver City. I think they also have a website. I needed some new cake pans and a jelly roll type pan, and walked out with those, in addition to hazelnut syrup for my coffee, and some delicious chocolate/hazelnut gelato. They have some really interesting kitchen implements - lots of stuff for restaurants, but also lots of stuff for the home cook, and really interesting specialty foods.
  4. Generic tidying. I need to drag myself outside for a little walk, but other than that, I'm done.

All in all, fairly productive, and here's hoping I get a good night of sleep tonight!

The Most Delicious Quiche

Remember a few days ago, when I had really delicious quiche for lunch? (I'm sorry, my life is really boring these days, so I actually do remember with quite a lot of specificity)! I've been thinking about quiche, and wondering about it, because it has a lot going for it - namely you prepare it in advance and reheat it - and it's perfect for lunch with a small salad! This is the quiche that I made for Easter brunch, and it was so easy and so delicious. The recipe comes from the big yellow Gourmet Magazine Cookbook. (If you don't own this book, you may want to consider it, as it is a great resource!)

Ultimate Quiche
12 pieces bacon, cut crosswise into 3/4 inch wide pieces
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from the 17 oz package - Pepperidge Farm makes a good one) THAWED!
6 large eggs
2 (10 oz) cartons creme fraiche (delicious French sour cream - Trader Joe's sells it, as does Whole Foods). You can also use full fat sour cream, or a mixture of full fat plain yogurt and sour cream. I really wouldn't try to make this low fat.
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg ( I don't grate my own nutmeg, and I think the little spice jar nutmeg works just fine).
1 cup coarsely grated Gruyere cheese.
  1. Put a baking sheet in the middle oven rack and preheat to 375.
  2. Cook bacon in large sauce pan over moderate heat until crisp (stirring occasionally) about 10 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and place on paper towel lined plate to drain. Roll out puff pastry on lightly floured surface into a square. Fit it into a deep pie dish (9 inches or so) or a special quiche pan, and trim off excess.
  3. Whisk eggs in separate bowl until well-combined, then whisk in creme fraiche, salt and nutmeg just until smooth. (Pour filling through fine mesh sieve into prepared crust - I skipped this and it was delicious too). Sprinkle bacon evenly over filling and top with grated Gruyere.
  4. Bake quiche on baking sheet until center is set (it doesn't jiggle when shaken) for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Transfer to rack to cool, and serve warm or at room temperature. I reheated mine the next day by placing in 200 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter

I hope you all had a lovely Easter weekend. I'll post more pictures (and what we six decided was the best quiche recipe ever) later, but for now, I wanted to leave you with the step by step pictures of my Boston Cream Pie - which was a big hit. I'm going to add in the recipes to this - because if you haven't made it, please give it a try.

Our Easter brunch was delicious! It was so fun to catch up with people, and to enjoy what is most likely our last leisurely meal with just adults. What with getting out the good china, and hand washing it again, I'm a little tired now, so I think I'm going to lie around for the rest of the day. I'll polish the silver and put it away nicely tomorrow.



The yellow cake. It's better than a boxed mix and just as easy - I promise! (All recipes are from the 1960 version of the McCall's Cookbook)

Two Egg Yellow Cake

2 cups all purpose flour

1/1/2 cup sugar

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup shortening (I used unsalted butter)

1 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour two 8" cake pans.
  2. In the bowl of the electric mixer, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. Add melted butter ( I melted mine since it doesn't beat in quite as well at room temperature as shortening), milk and vanilla. Mix at medium speed for 2 minutes, pausing to scrape down the bowl as needed.
  4. Add eggs, beat two minutes longer.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake 30-35 minutes or until surface "springs" back when gently pressed.
  6. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool COMPLETELY before filling/frosting. (I like to bake the day before and then wrap well when cool to fill and frost the next day)

Here's the custard filling. I'm no expert on custard, but I think this is pretty delicious, and it really isn't hard.

Rich Vanilla-Cream Filling (HALF the quantity is perfect for filling this cake, but I think I like a little less custard than most people - so here's the full recipe and just be careful not to use it all on the cake!)

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch (if you are halving the ingredients, 1/8 of a cup is approximately 2TBS)

1/4 tsp salt

2 cups milk (I think whole milk is best)

4 egg yolks, slightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. In medium saucepan, combine sugar with cornstarch and salt.
  2. Gradually add milk, over medium heat. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  3. Add half of hot milk mixture to eggs and mix well (to avoid scrambled eggs). Gradually return to saucepan, stirring.
  4. Over medium heat, bring to boil, stirring constantly. Add vanilla. Cool completely before using to fill cake. (You can tell when your custard is getting close, because it gets much thicker and if you drag a spoon along the bottom of the pot, the drag mark remains for a while.

Here's the chocolate frosting - it is really easy and very delicious.

Quick Fudge Frosting

2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup soft butter (I would NOT substitute margarine for butter in this frosting)
3 cups sifted confectioners' or powdered sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup hot cream or whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Melt chocolate over hot water or in microwave (I always add a little bit of butter or oil to chocolate before melting in microwave). Remove from heat, stir to ensure all melted and let cool a little.
  2. In medium bowl (I used the kitchen machine) combine butter, salt, sugar, and 3 TBS of hot cream. Beat at medium speed until mixture is smooth.
  3. Add chocolate and continue beating until frosting is thick enough to spread. Then mix in the vanilla.
  4. If your frosting seems too thick, add a little more hot cream.
  5. This makes enough to fill and frost two 8" layers. Traditionally, the sides of Boston Cream Pie are unfrosted, so I just pile all the frosting on top and don't quite use it all
Assembly - cake and custard.



Ta Da! The final product. It doesn't make a very large cake, so it's perfect if you are having 8-10 people (for 6 we had about 1/4 left over).

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday is Fun


And so it is. In that spirit (and because I'm feeling sort of lazy), here are my top ten fun plans for this summer:

1. Going to the beach with Baby Icing on a weekday - and bringing a peanut butter sandwich and fruit (my favorite beach lunch of choice) there's just something about sandy peanut butter :)

2. Planning a beautiful baptism and a nice party/lunch afterwards.

3. Taking Baby Icing to mommy and me yoga. I'm pretty sure that if she takes after me, she will be a little bored by the whole thing, and may not really buy into the tranquillity part.
4. Enjoying lots of chilled rose, pink champagne and margaritas (I am a total fraud and prefer margaritas of the strawberry or mango variety).

5. Breaking out the self tanner once I can actually reach my legs again

6. Taking a trip to Boulder to meet the great-grandparents who are so excited to meet her!

7. Going to my FIFTH law school reunion - yikes!
8. Planning a fun and special first Father's Day for N.

9. Taking Baby Icing for walks around the neighborhood.

10. Grilling for dinner and sitting out on my deck.

(Note, these all involve some sort of fantasy parenting of a very easy and happy baby that I'm sure won't actually happen, but a girl can dream right? At this point, a day without Tums is almost too exciting to contemplate!)


Today has been a nice and restful Good Friday. Our cleaning lady came this morning, so the house is all tidy for the holiday weekend. I had another checkup and it looks like things are starting to happen - not too much, but enough to make me feel like Baby Icing is at least starting to think about leaving. I got my toes painted the prettiest coral, and now I'm resting on the couch.
Oh, and I wanted to recommend the book pictured above. Orangette is one of my favorite blogs to read and I ADORE her recipes. Her book is also really good reading! I'm enjoying it so much...and noting which things I need to make!
For those of you celebrating Passover, I hope you are having a lovely holiday (and I'm sorry that my husband has eaten all the macaroons out of our grocery store), and for those of us gearing up for Easter, happy Easter!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Things Pregnant People Like When They Are About To Pop

Hi there friends - I'm still pregnant, and here are some of my new passions as I celebrate a week of resting at home. I have to say, I'm feeling better at 38.5 weeks not working than I did at 36.5 weeks when I was still trekking to the office every day!

1. Annick Goutal L'Eau D'Hadrien - it is the lightest and most citrusy scent - I'm using the soap in the shower, and may need to pick up the eau de parfum for this summer. Delicious and not sweet at all!


2. Grapefruit - I guess there's sort of a citrus thing going on right now for me, but it's one of my favorite snacks these days - so sweet and refreshing!


3. For Easter Brunch, what could be tastier for dessert than Boston Cream Pie? I hope I can make one, or find a good recipe - I love the custard filling!

4. This pretty top from Pea in the Pod (I think it's on sale now). It's perfectly springy, and it still fits me now. I think it will come in useful after Baby Icing arrives as well.



5. My maternity 7s. I bought them at about 15 weeks, and am still wearing them at 38 plus weeks. I strongly urge the potential preggos out there - buy a really nice pair of jeans that are really comfy...because if you work in an office, you probably only need one pair, and it's so worth it to have a pair that are flattering and comfortable!


Today I met a friend at Babies R Us and got a bunch of last minute necessities, and then headed up to the valley to have lunch with another friend and her beautiful baby boy. She looks gorgeous, and so does he! Now I'm lounging on the couch with big kitty and trying to work up the energy to do some pregnancy yoga. It really helps with my back pain, and it seems to really entertain my cats - I'm not the most graceful practitioner at the moment :)
Tomorrow, I have my weekly doctor's appointment, and need to get my nails done. I also need to start preparing for Easter brunch and that involves giving the silver a very good polish. Any suggestions for a good movie to watch while polishing and ironing?