Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Baby's First Birthday

Munch got invited to a 1st birthday party this past weekend. I had forgotten what a bittersweet event a first birthday can be. Her little friend was just so squeezably adorable, but now I know how quickly this baby phase passes. I figured that Munch would love the jumpy house, but the real highlight of the day was hunting lizards in the yard!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Food "Accessories"

Just had to share these adorable food picks that I found a while back. After making my first muffin tin meal I was momentarily inspired to search out cute accessories to make Munch's mealtimes a little more fun. It didn't last long- but I did decide to just not make mealtimes such an issue (and we cut out all snacks for a couple of weeks to make sure she got nice and hungry!) Overall, sitting down together for dinner is so much more pleasant now- and Munch's eating better now that she knows not eating isn't going to get a huge reaction out of us.

Monday, March 23, 2009


There. I've said it. I'm a slacker. At least computer-wise, lately. Not sure what it is, but I've been slow to follow up on emails, spent minimal time on Facebook, and have been completely uninspired to post anything new. Maybe it's the lure of these bright, brisk spring days. Maybe it's the guilt from not having pruned the roses yet or my little Wii Fit friend who cheerfully reminds me it's been several days since my last workout. Maybe it's the urge to hunt down new, yummy places to eat (cause I sure haven't been home much!) Who knows? But I appreciate everyone that's hanging in there with me...

My brother was in town from LA this weekend, so we got the family together for breakfast at a place called Crepevine. The menu is heavy on breakfast-y items- sweet and savory crepes, french toast, pancakes, benedicts, omelets. As much as I wanted to sample a crepe, I couldn't pass up the New Orleans Benedict- English muffins topped with crab cakes, poached eggs, and a Cajun-spiced hollandaise. Yum! We'll definitely be going back. Munch loved her silver dollar pancakes and hot chocolate. I just don't understand places that do these huge kid servings, and "silver dollar" pancakes that are the size of my regular, home-made pancakes. Even though most kids' meals are inexpensive, it's the waste of food that kills me. I wish places made a "toddler-sized" meal!

Munch, Grandma Corie, and Uncle Brian

Thank goodness we took a couple of hours to digest our late breakfast because we headed to my dad's next to celebrate Munch's other grandma's birthday.
Munch with her Lola (Grandma) Bess and Lolo (Grandpa) Bart
It was so crowded that I quickly lost sight of Munch while we were settling in. When I found her out on the patio, this is what I saw-

All the grandparents (my numerous aunts and uncles) made sure she got plenty to eat! What particularly pleased me was the opportunity for her to taste many traditional Filipino dishes, and the fact that she gobbled them up. I think the early exposure to the different flavors and textures of other cultures' foods helps broaden her palate. She's not a picky eater and I love her adventurousness when I take her out in search of something new and delicious. One of Munch's favorite dishes that my aunt and uncle would make for her when she was an infant was a sour soup. And AudioDad and I were amazed when we had to tell her, "Stop eating your peas and have some noodles" at the dinner table the other night!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Best Friends

Munch's Auntie Gina was in town recently. She's been my best friend since high school. After we graduated, we both did our own thing. After my childhood of frequent moves (dad was in the Air Force), I've been pretty content to stay put and never really went farther then 50 miles or so from home. Gina is now a Navy wife and has lived everywhere (usually much too far for me!) and loves the adventure. But I especially miss her now that we both have kids. Her boys are just adorable and the oldest is just a few months older than Munch. When the kids were younger, it was difficult for them to keep each other in mind since they only saw each other twice a year at the most. Now that Munch is older, it's easier for her to remember and she'll talk about them often. Hopefully they'll be close too as they grow up- Maybe they'll even get married someday...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Family Get-Togethers

I cannot believe it's been 2 weeks since I last posted (sorry!) As I mentioned in a previous post it's report card time, which coincided with my joining the Mom Bloggers Club. I've loved discovering other great mom blogs through this site, but it's sure taking me a while to get around to all the members of the Follow Me group I joined and get through all the posts waiting for me in my reader! It IS fun having some new Followers though- if you're not a Follower yet (and want to be), check out the link to the right!

While we're in catch up mode, I've gotta thank Deb for the Kreativ Blogger award- what a wonderful surprise! (I'm especially relieved to have readers and that I'm not boring anyone to death...) Thank you, thank you Deb! Check out her sweet and funny blog over at Life With Birk. It's one of my new, fave finds!

So the rules of receiving this award are:
List 7 things that you love and then pass the award on to 7 bloggers you love.
Be sure to tag them and let them know they have won! Copy and paste the award on your site.

7 Things I Love-
1. Of course, my sweet husband and my adorable Munch
2. Lattes- sugar free, soy, but full-caff!
3. Schedules/plans- a structured day is a reassuring day
4. Blogging!
5. A good book- my books-to-read shelf is getting full!
6. Searching for good food
7. My best friend, Gina!

7 Blogs I Love/Can't Miss-
1. Dishing With Debbie (she's a hoot!)
2. Foodie at Fifteen (now 16)(I can totally appreciate the way this kid loves food!)
3. C. Beth Blog (I love reading about her cute kids!)
4. Conversations With a Cupcake (This blog just makes me happy...)
5. Sasha Says (as if I wasn't already a die-hard internet shopper- watch for those GDA's-"good deal alerts")
6.Of Mice and raMen (Veronica finds the most interesting photos!)
7. The Trekking Chelini's (Love ya Liz! How could I not include you on this list?)

So even though I've been lax on posting, I sure haven't missed many good meals! Last weekend we had AudioDad's family over for dinner because his niece, Kristen, was in town. Aunt Lynn sent another fabulous gift (note to self: write thank you letter...)- the biggest hit was a box of neon colored bendy straws-water was never so exciting!

Dinner was a big tray of lasagna along with a batch of beer batter bread, roasted broccoli, and a salad of baby greens, beets, oranges, and goat cheese. AudioDad was thrilled to have his sister Lara's adorable mini cinnamon rolls (makes it easier to justify eating many, many more than one...)

And the next night, since the house was clean and I'd had the fabulous idea of making two trays of lasagna, we had my family over to celebrate my mom's birthday. A dinner re-run, I suppose. For dessert, a strawberry and cream topped cake made with white wine. It's delicious and easy-

Wine Cake
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c. vegetable or canola oil
1/2 c. white wine (whatever is open- I usually use something like a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc)
1 1/4 c. sifted flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/8 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 pkg. frozen sliced strawberries in syrup, thawed
1 pint heavy cream, beaten to soft peaks with 2-3 tbsp. sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch cake pan. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar and eggs and mix well. Add the oil, wine, flour, salt, baking powder, and vanilla. Beat for about a minute then pour into the prepared pan. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean.
Serve slices topped with a generous spoonful of strawberries in syrup and a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Feed Your Family, Feed Your Soul

For me, nothing is as satisfying as preparing a nice meal for my family. Simple, homey meals are best. And even though I had intended to do some major housework today, spending the afternoon in the kitchen was just too irresistible. So, I started a fire in our wood-burning stove and got cooking!
First up was a loaf of beer batter quick bread-

We hardly drink and always end up with numerous bottles of beer after parties. A neighbor down the street also brewed his own and I used to find AudioDad returning from a run, six-pack in hand. I finally stopped buying it and after it sat for a year or more, didn't dare serve it, but I wasn't one to waste it. Coming across this recipe was the perfect solution. It's delicious and so fast to make, with a buttery crust that I adore (and I'm finally making a dent in the stock of beer in the garage!)

Beer Batter Bread
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a loaf pan. In a bowl, stir together 3 cups of flour, 3 tbs. brown sugar, 1 tbs. baking powder, and 1 tsp. salt. Pour in 1 bottle of beer and stir the batter until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and drizzle 2 tbs. melted butter over the top. Bake the bread for 40 minutes, test it by inserting a toothpick into the center of the loaf- if it's comes out clean, it's done. Remove from the oven and let the bread cool in the pan for a few minutes before turning it onto a cooling rack. Let the bread cool at least 20 minutes more so it's easier to cut, and generously slather on the butter!

To with the bread, I also made a big batch of soup- during dinner, we were playing around with the Munchkin and decided to call it "Banzo Barley Soup"-

2 pkgs. chicken apple sausage, sliced in half lengthwise, then 1-inch thick
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 c. carrots, peeled and sliced 1-inch thick
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 c. chicken broth
2-15 oz. cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 c. pearl barley
1/2 c. roasted red bell peppers, chopped
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. dried oregano

Heat the olive oil in a 6-qt. stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sausages and cook about 10 minutes until sausages are beginning to brown and onion is soft. Add the carrots and garlic and cook a few minutes more before adding the chicken broth, garbanzo beans, barley, roasted peppers, soy sauce, and oregano. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium/medium-high, cooking at a quick simmer for about 30 minutes. Keep it covered with a lid slightly offset while cooking, and check that the barley is tender before removing from heat and serving.

Finish off the meal with a square of this simple and satisfying lemon cake. I had been looking for a recipe to help me use up some buttermilk and a nice, brightly flavored lemon cake seemed like just the thing on a rainy day. The only thing I'd do differently next time is add a tablespoon or two of lemon juice to the cake batter (I really like a strong, tart lemon cake) and for a real treat, add a dollop of barely sweetened, softly whipped cream!


I spent a (badly-needed) lovely day in San Francisco with the family (sans kids) yesterday. For Christmas, my parents bought us tickets to see Wicked. After looking forward to it for weeks, I was even more thrilled to hear we'd be heading to Yank Sing for a dim sum brunch first. I finally got to try their signature Shanghai dumplings, filled with pork and broth- it reminded me of wonton soup all wrapped up in a dumpling. Our favorite dish was a honey glazed sea bass- it was absolutely delicious! Of course, we ate entirely too fast and were stuffed within a half hour of sitting down. It's hard to pace yourself when it's such an infrequent treat!
Since we had a good bit of time before the matinee, we walked down to the Ferry Building. My mom made a beeline for a tiny table she'd seen before at I Preferiti di Borianawhere bomboloni, Italian doughnuts, were being sold. The sugar-dusted, baseball-sized doughnuts were filled with raspberry jam, Nutella, dark chocolate, or custard. I took my Nutella filled one home to Munch later that evening and she proceeded to take enormous bites of the sweet hazelnut filling, leaving me with the doughnut's edges. Then she moved on, with her puppy dog eyes, to AudioDad's doughnut...we'll have to get these again on our next trip!
Words fail me when I try to express how much I loved the show. I enjoyed the book by Gregory Maguire and was so curious to see how it translated to the stage. Wicked was funny, smart, and moving- a lot lighter in tone than the book, but it touched on it's major themes. The costumes were AMAZING. The Munchkin was wanting to go with us to see the show so badly. I think she'll enjoy those experiences when she's older. In the meantime, I'll be getting the CD- something for us to enjoy on our commute!