Monday, December 5, 2011


About 3 years ago, my brother-in-law Serge was dating this girl he was madly in love with. She was on the scene for almost a year when the entire fam was in Toronto. We were all so excited to finally meet Andrea. Honestly, to this day I can’t tell you with 100% certainty if it’s ANNE-dree-ah, AHN-dree-ah, ahn-DRAY-ah...and honestly I barely care. She was entitled. She was rude. She had a habit of interrupting conversations that everyone was participating in, to recant these [what she thought to be] interesting stories. In fact they were ridiculous, sometimes borderline inappropriate, and certainly had NOTHING to do with what we were talking about in the first place. Look, I can get along with anybody. Well, no actually that’s a huge lie. But I truly WANTED to get along with her. Serge thought she shit gold and I love Serge like my own brother and I wanted to give her respect and a real chance. And I feel like I did try. (Quick side note: She’s actually-on paper-quite intelligent, and is doing good for poor kids in other countries. Or something. Whatever. Beside the point.) So yeah, we’re all in Toronto and my in-laws are meeting Ahhhndrea for the first time. They had dinner at Serge’s house, and we all met up later at one of our favorite pubs. Obviously, a few bottles of wine had been killed during dinner. When we showed up, this was glaringly apparent by Serge’s rosy cheeks, my Mother-in-law Gail’s knowing look (she never drinks), my Father-in-law Craig’s (aka Pop's) perma-grin and Ahhhndrea’ She was buddied up to Craig like he was the captain of the football team giggling about what bottle to order next. At a pub. Ew. Girlfriend, you're like 25. Just order wings and a beer and shut up already. We asked how dinner was, and then rang out the sentence that has since become an inside joke and a metaphor for SO many things: Pop says, “Ahhhndrea made a delicious quinoa salad!” Ahhhndrea beams with pride, her eyes half closed like she just won the Nobel Prize or a Daytime Emmy. Jeremy and I raise our eyebrows as high as they can go to keep our balls from rolling out of our heads. I look down the table at my now sister-in-law, Melody. (She’s married to Jeremy’s other brother Bryce. At the time they had been together since 8th grade. About 16 years, but not yet married.) She gives me a little smile, although I’m not positive she heard what was going down at our end of the table. QUINOA SALAD?! Who makes a fucking quinoa salad the first time you meet your boyfriend’s parents? I have nothing against quinoa, but...WHAT? It’s autumn in Toronto. I don’t know...something about it seemed so pretensious and so crunchy granola and weird...I just...UGH! And WHY to this day does this bother me so much??? Melody has, in all essence, been a part of the family for 16 years. And I...I was the WIFE. The first legal daughter-in-law. I was the one that gave Craig what he wanted. I gave him the daughter he never had. She gave him...quinoa. No WAY this ‘ho is gonna swoop in and snag what I’ve rightfully earned! And then I figured it out. It’s not about some gluten-free grain. It’s, once again, about approval.’s a tricky business. Next to finances and the Karadshians, it’s probably the number one hot button issue causing strife in marriages. They say, when you marry a man you marry his parents. I always thought this was bullshit. Then I got married for the first time. And I married 3 of the craziest motherf%&#@rs on the planet. So, this time around I wanted to be smarter. And I hit the in-law jackpot! For real. And I’m not just saying that cause I know they read my blog! They are truly the chillest, most supportive, most generous second parents I could ever hope for. They love me for me. And I love them for them. And as grandparents, they are simply a dream. Really. Now, I KNOW some of you are not as lucky as I am in the in-law department. Some of you are in situations that are VERY specific and VERY fucked up and I’m not trying to fix that for you. I’m not a doctor. Buuuut... holidays are upon us. And you’re gonna have to face them one way or another whether you like it or not, and here’s the deal: they want to be your FAMILY. Forget about who’s being passive aggressive and who’s being nit-picky or petty and just step up and be the matriarch. WWCMD? (What would Caroline Manzo do, right?) Don’t forget you’re also setting an example for your kids. And they hear and see EVERYTHING. This became quite evident to me recently, when 3 times last week Nora tried to french kiss me at bedtime and added “Carrie” into her goodnights. Carrie...Bradshaw??? Really? Oy vey. I guess I officially can no longer sneak "Sex and the City" reruns while she appears to be just coloring. Back to the in-laws: Stop treating them like your boyfriend’s parents and start treating them like your family. Stop tip-toeing around and making it awkward and uncomfortable and kick off your shoes and let your mom-in-law see you in a ponytail and no make-up. Stop trying to prove that you can do it all, and be honest about being up to your ears in gift wrapping and pee-wee football practice and holiday cookie party madness and she will step up. She will. I promise. Don’t forget: she has (or once had) a mother-in-law, too! We’re all JUST PEOPLE. And you happen to be a person who loves her son. And that’s all she’s ever wanted in the whole wide world. For her kid to be happy. Isn’t that what YOU want? For your kids (or future kids) to be happy? I do. And personally I don’t care if Nora or Pats came home with a man, a woman, a conservative wall street tycoon, or a quinoa-eating hippie. I want them to be happy. And stress-free. I want them to feel accepted and I want the person they’ve dedicated their life to to feel the same. 

I get it. The holidays are sooooooo stressful. But...why? I’m friggin’ over it. They shouldn’t be. Tis the season to be CELEBRATING. To be giving thanks for all the amazing blessings in our lives. To be rejoicing in the reality of MIRACLES. So if there’s two more people who want to spoil your kids, let them! If your father-in-law wants to talk about dry wall, or the Eagles, or Occupy Wall street...pour yourself another glass of pinot and let him. If your mother-in-law gives you shit about your gingerbread, suggest she make it this year. Or make it together. Swap recipes. Who knows? Maybe you can come up with an AMAZING pretencious peruvian tree bark dish together. Let’s band together as women and wives and mothers and vow to not get crazy this year. As Obama/Bob the Builder says YES WE CAN! (I mean, but really Obama? Sorry...but Bob said it first. And anyone with a pre-schooler knows you just straight up stole it. Boom. Busted.) And...maybe you just can’t. Or maybe you can but you just need a little help. So if you are at the end of your rope and your kids are safely in bed or there’s at least one sober adult eye on them, start rummaging through your bathroom. You MUST have at least one post c-section percocet hiding in there somewhere.  

PS: Ahhhndrea is long gone, but I still cringe at even the THOUGHT of quinoa. Bitch. Fa la la la la la la la la
My sexy and SINGLE  brother-in-law Serge.
My awesome in-laws, Gail and Craig
Baba and Gigi with Nora and Pats
Toronto,  August 2011
So, what to cook for your in-laws when they come over on a random night??? Whether you’ve been married for 30 days or 30 years, I think this stresses most gals out. I’ve thought a lot about this. Again, I’m not trying to brag, but this isn’t a huge issue for me. My in-laws (Baba and Gigi to the girls, and now to you) LOVE to eat. They aren’t picky and are always willing to try new things. Here’s my advice: cook what your COMFORTABLE with. Something you’ve made before or have confidence you can master your first time up to bat. The fewer ingredients and pots and pans needed, the better. It’s really about the gesture. Now, should you go SO far with the gesture to try and cook something from They’re not judging you to be the Next Iron Chef. Again, stop stressing. And if you really just can’t take it and want to order Chinese, then order Chinese. But if you do at least make dessert. Show them you’ve gone through a little effort just for them. It’s nice. This is kind of a fool proof recipe and maybe the easiest thing ever. You can adjust the spice level depending on everyone’s tastes and its easy clean up and even better as leftovers. 
A little over a lb of chicken. Maybe 1 1/2 lbs. depending on the amount of people. Now theres several ways to deal with the chicken. You can use chicken breasts or chicken thighs. On the bone or not. With skin or without. OR you can go the grocery store and buy a rotisserie chicken for like $7.99 or whatever and take all the meat off. If you’re stressed about cooking, just do this. Nobody cares. 
10-12 medium tortillas or wraps not the HUGE burrito ones or the teeney tiny taco ones. There should be one in the middle. I usually go for the whole grain ones. There’s so much flavor in these guys that you might as well sneak in a little extra fiber. But if you like regular flour ones, go for it. I just wouldn’t use corn. 
2 cups shredded cheese, this would be one bag of the pre shredded or about a regular sized block from the dairy case. Monterrey jack, pepper jack, white cheddar, queso blanco, whatever. I use pepper jack when I make them. Use what you want, but I do think it should be a white cheese for this.
1 jar (16 oz) Salsa Verde or tomatillo salsa whatever you prefer, but it should be green. Salsa verde is sometimes not with all the regular salsas, but with the taco sauce near the Taco Dinner kits in the International aisle. I found an amazing tomatillo salsa at the farmer's market where we're staying here in La Jolla, CA. Santa Fe Seasons. Delicious.
2 cups chicken stock or water
Wondra, superfine flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
OK, if you’re using the store bought chicken:
Shred all the meat off the bones into a large bowl. Heat your chicken stock on the stove in a medium saucepan till it starts to simmer. Shake in the Wondra while whisking till you get a thin gravy. Taste it and add salt and pepper if need be. Toss chicken with gravy. You might just wanna eat this with a spoon. 
Boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts:
Cover chicken with stock in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.   (breasts: 15-20 minutes).Take out chicken pieces and set aside. Thicken sauce and continue as above.
Place about 2 tbsp or so into the center of each tortilla. Fold the top over a bit. Then the bottom up. Now roll 1 1/2 times and place in sprayed baking dish seam side down. This is hard to explain, sorry. (We shot a video of all this and I was so excited! But...surprise, surprise...we couldn't get our shit together this week to finish editing. But videos will be coming soon! Pinky swear.) Once all your little yummy bundles are in your baking dish, cover with salsa. You may not need the ENTIRE jar after all. I like some of the tortilla still exposed, cause I like the crispy edges. Then sprinkle with cheese. Pop ‘em in the oven for about 15 minutes. We’re just really heating through and melting cheese. Chicken’s fully cooked. These are SO GOOD! 
1)These freeze amazingly well. If you KNOW you’re going to freeze them ahead of time for YOUR family, I’d suggest stopping before topping them with the salsa and cheese. Then after the enchiladas are defrosted, top and bake. If you have leftovers, or you’re bringing them to a new mom or sick friend, don’t worry- they’ll still come out delish. Salsa might be a LITTLE watery, but nothing catastrophic. 
  1. This is actually a pretty healthy meal. Especially if you do opt for the multi-grain tortillas. If you sub low fat cheese and chicken breasts, SUPER low in fat, and high in protein. So if you’re carefully watching what you eat, there ya go! And OBVI...these would be beYOND perfection with a Skinnygirl Margie. 
Ok, so you can’t get your shiz together and Bamboo Dragon it is. At least take a few minutes and make dessert. Here we go:
This zesty citrus cake is a no brainer and a winner every time. My older sister, Judy, taught me a trick to make regular box cake into “wedding cake.” Sub milk for water and double the eggs. I started experimenting with this formula and here’s one of the gems!
So follow the recipe on the back of the box, making those adjustments. Here’s how mine went down after a little glitzing up:
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup milk I used skim ‘cause that’s what I happened to have in the house. I’m not sure it matters what the fat content of the milk is. 
1/3 cup veg oil (canola, corn, veggie, whatever. Just prob not olive oil for this one. You want a flavorless oil for baking. Although...I have in the past used olive oil for dark chocolate brownies and they were off the chain delicious.)
6 eggs
1 small lemon
1 lime
1-2 tsp each lemon, lime, and orange zest Those little clementines or satsumas you have laying around for the holidays would work fine too. A little harder to zest, but not a nightmare.
1 cup powdered sugar I know it sounds like a lot. Trust me. It’s how ya make glaze.
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp orange juice
1 tsp lime juice
Preheat oven according to package directions. Probably 350 degrees.
Mix cake ingredients in large mixing bowl for 2 minutes with electric hand mixer or whisk. Pour evenly into two small loaf pans. When I made this yesterday I used the throwaway foil ones that you would put banana bread in for your neighbor. Bake for 1 hour. You have one cake for your guests and 1 cake to freeze for a later date or stuff into your face later that night if someone’s mean to you. This glaze recipe is for 1 cake.
Prepare glaze by mixing sugar and juice in a small bowl with a fork or baby whisk. When cake is totally cooled, poke the top several times with a fork. Pour glaze over the cake. It will drip down the sides and soak into the cake. The drips look cool. The glaze will harden a little. Slice and serve. Yummmeee. And you’re getting your Vitamin C!

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Penelope (aka Pats), my 8 month old, has been busting through motor milestones since she first rolled over at 5 weeks. Sitting up, crawling, pulling to stand, cruising, climbing stairs...but about 3 weeks ago or so, she hit my favorite one: clapping. So, between her and Nora, I know have 2 people to applaud me. On command. Basically a dream come true. Yes, I’m into my kids doing parlor tricks. No, I’m not into baby beauty pageants. I mean, I’m into watching the train wreck on TV, just not into entering my children in them. Lie. I’m totally into them and would force them on my girls as often as possible, but my husband would surely leave me and take my babies from me. Humf. Doesn’t he realize how gorgeous AND brilliant AND hilarious AND entertaining our offspring are? Doesn’t he realize that for every $1,000 we spend on baby prostitute costumes and drive-thru McDonald’s we could potentially win up to $250 in cash and prizes. Man, that guy’s thick sometimes. I mean, I’m doing it for the children. Jeez. Anyhoo, where was I? Oh yeah: APPLAUSE. Well, more specifically, APPRECIATION. Why is it that the most difficult jobs seem to get the least appreciation? We put reality stars on pedestals, drowning them in money and accolades. (Side bar: this is in no way a dis on reality stars. It is my dream to be one of them. Soon.) But when’s the last time you drove by a guy working on a telephone wire, or hanging from a high rise washing windows and rolled down your window and shouted “Hey! Keep up the good work!”? I slap on some lashes and sing a few Patsy Cline songs: instant standing ovation. I spend 10 hours at home alone with 2 babies, up to my elbows in shit, keeping everyone fed, clean, napped and happy. All while, trying to prepare supper for my husband who will be starving when he arrives home and keeping the house clean to the standard that will make child services at bay and what do I get? A big fat nuthin’. OK, maybe a heartfelt thank you and a tongue kiss. But from the princesses I’ve been catering to all day? Technically nothing. Their shining faces smiling up at me? Yeah. More like a fist full of applesauce in my hair and a tantrum about some Elmo bowl that’s missing that I’m PRETTY sure we never owned in the first place. Oy vey.
Man, I’m such a pussy. SO many women do this day in and day out for the better part of 20 years! Stay at home with their kids, I mean. THESE WOMEN ARE MY HEROES. Or they’re bat shit crazy. I can’t decide which.I’ve been on the job for about 3 weeks on and off. Maybe I just suck at it. Maybe... I’m doing it wrong? I don’t get it. For real. Meaning, I don’t UNDERSTAND the requirements of my job. It’s truly insane. Maybe it’s the ages of my kids. Nora, 2, is pretty self-sufficient but still would strangle herself with a stray USB cable thinking it’s a princess necklace. And Pats-whew!-pulling herself up and starting to cruise...she literally needs an eye on her at all times. I recall one particular day a couple weeks ago where I didn’t pee for like 6 hours. I finally got a chance, looked to my right to find no toilet paper. Awesome. And, I can easily see how the stay at home mom could weigh 85 lbs or 385 lbs. I think all I ate over the course of the day one day was a spoonful of cold mac and cheese, and maybe the scraps off a stray lunch plate. That is until Nora FINALLY went down for her nap and I started shoving Halloween candy down my throat in the corner of the kitchen like an 8 yr old Jehovah’s Witness. And moms who say they only let there kids watch 30 minutes of TV a day?!?! Does that count DVDs and youtube? What do you do for the rest of the day? Seriously. I’m curious. Tell me. Play with blocks and do flashcards? ALL day? I’m not being a smart ass. I really need to know. Comment, please. Help! Oh my GOD. I just thought of women in the 50‘s...No PBS Kids or Nick Jr OnDemand? Fuuuck. Well...I guess they weren’t privy to the side effects at the time, and could smoke cigarettes all day and not feel bad about it. Ok. So they had that. 
I said to my friend Jen, in passing, “If you stay at home and raise your children all alone, when they reach their 18th birthday the government should give you, like $50,000 per kid or something.” Then I started really thinking about that and I did a little math. I knew I’d use it one day. So, based on the minimum wage of NYC x 365 days x 18 years... we’re talking $476,325! That’s nothing! Seriously. If a mother, after 18 years, provides society with an upstanding citizen with no criminal record and a high school diploma, she needs something. A kickback. Some cash. A Target gift card for crying out loud. And if she can prove she has no income outside of the home, shouldn’t she at least be provided with healthcare? (But that’s a horse of a different color. Let’s not go there. Just yet.) No. She needs SOMETHING. Right? God love them but she needs something more than a macaroni necklace and hug. Doesn’t she? Don’t you? Don’t I? Does that make me/you/her a terrible mother for needing more? I don’t know... I guess I’m just in the thick of it right now. Eventually Nora and Pats will go off to activities and school all day and play dates and (gasp) real dates. Eventually they will both be able to comprehend that I need to leave the room for 2 minutes to take a poop. Alone. I’m sure then feelings of loneliness and “now what?” will set it and I’ll be bitching to you about how my kids don’t need me anymore...sigh...
I know I’ve touched on “moments” before, but of all the motherhood cliches, I think I can now most wrap my head around the fact that you truly NEVER GET THIS TIME BACK. Work will always be there. 50 is the new 30. Hello? Demi Moore much? CATHY RIGBY much? That bitch is still flying playing “Peter Pan” and she’s, like, 112 years old. It’s never too late to start Pilates and there’s no age limit on afternoon pedicures. But your babies simply won’t be babies for long. Pats is fat and standing and it feels like a week ago she was legally blind with baggy knees. UNreal. So instead of feeling bitter that I’m “forced to be home,” I’m gonna start feeling overwhelmingly blessed to have this time with my girls that a lot of people don’t have the luxury of getting. I’m going to read “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” till my eyes blur. I’m going to let Nora change into 5 party dresses a day and dance in the living room with her as much as possible. I’m going to cuddle Pats on the couch till she falls asleep every night till she doesn’t want to anymore. Cause eventually...she won’t want to anymore. Sooner than later I’m sure my dancing will be “stupid,” and everything I do will be “so lame.” And someday I’m sure I’ll be on the other side of a slammed bedroom door, being emotionally crushed hearing, “I HATE YOU! I WISH I WAS NEVER BORN!” (shudder) Yikes. Way worse than watching the same episode of Fireman Sam 50 times. So, for now, I will breathe in every second of these little girls just being...little. I will wear my macaroni necklaces and greasy hair and chipped toenails with pride. And, yes, I will take that applause anyway I can get it.
Pats the Clapper, my biggest fan

So, this was our first Thanksgiving as a completed fam of 4. Also, the first where I hosted and cooked the entire meal. We just had a few of Jeremy’s work friends over. Very chill. Our guest were Canadian, and already celebrated Thanksgiving in October. That, added to the fact that I’m not super crazy about turkey, led me to a inspired-by but not necessarily a traditional menu. This works out good for you, cause you can take advantage of these recipes for the rest of the season! Here’s what I whipped up:
BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP w/ chicken-apple sausage
STEEL-CUT STUFFING w/ cranberries
MASHED PARSNIPS w/ candied rosemary bacon
HOMEMADE CINNAMON APPLESAUCE (I forgot this in the fridge, and it never actually made it to the table...but it was delish!)
I greeted our guests with a “Patsy.” An awesome cocktail with the flavors of pear and ginger. Yes, please! I put out some cheese and crackers and grapes to munch on. Our guest brought a pie, some cookies, and some bread for the table. It was PERFECT.  I sent each of them home with small doggie bags, so we don’t have a disgusting amount of food leftover. Wasted food makes me CRAZY. It actually revolts me.
Most of these recipes you can find from previous entries. You can click on the highlighted ones and it’ll take you back. Here’s the rest. SO EASY.
While I was pregnant with Pats, my number one craving was chewy candy. Specifically Juicy Pear Jelly Belly jelly beans. I dropped a small fortune on them regularly at Dylan’s Candy Bar in NYC. The smell of pears just makes me so happy now. It was a crazy but amazing pregnancy chock full of great memories. This drink pays homage to that time in my life and the gorgeous creature that came out of it. Also, it celebrates a holiday season when I don’t have a newborn or a fetus and I can finally drink again! This cocktail is sure to loosen up any gathering! I suggest having one and switching to wine or beer...
Drizzle of agave nectar maybe 1/2 tsp?
Fresh lemon juice
Splash of ginger beer In a pinch, regular ginger ale would work fine. But the spiciness of real old fashioned ginger beer makes all the diff.
Fill a small rocks glass with crushed ice. Drizzle in a little agave and a couple tablespoons of lemon juice. Pour in vodka and top with a splash of ginger beer. Give it a little stir and enjoy! Responsibly.
1 package, fully cooked chicken-apple sausage. You can usually find this near the hot dogs in the grocery store. There’s a few different brands. Just make sure it says fully cooked. You could also use turkey kielbasa, or regular kielbasa, or any other fully cooked smoked sausage. 
3 boxes, frozen squash. In  the frozen veg aisle. Sometimes it says butternut squash, sometimes just squash or winter squash. they come in boxes just like frozen chopped spinach does. 
1 box (4 cups), chicken stock 
red pepper flakes 
All the spices to taste. I add just a tiny pinch of the pepper flakes, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. If you like it spicier, add more. 

Slice up sausage into about 1/4 inch rounds. If you like bigger chunks, cut ‘em bigger. In the bottom of a nice sized pot drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil and brown up the sausage for just a minute or two over med heat. Add in frozen squash, stock, spices. Cover. Bring to a boil, everything will melt together. Bring down for a simmer for as little as 10 minutes, just for the flavors to marry. Boom. Done. You can make this the day before, or early that morning. It just gets better and better as it sits and thickens up a bit. I had it for breakfast the next morning (actually so did Nora!) and it was AMAZING!
I think this may be the best “main” protein dish I’ve ever made! Just sayin! You can make this ahead of time and pop it in the oven for supper. 
In case you're not familiar with pork tenderloin, here she is. Naked.
2 loins of pork A lot of stores sell them in a 2-pack. If not, just get 2. Unless it’s just for a date night. Then, split recipe in half. But for 4 or more people trust me, get 2. There may be leftovers, but it will NOT go to waste. WAY easier to slice up a pork loin for sandwiches, than dragging the whole turkey carcass out of the fridge. 
1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 grated parmesan cheese
1 cup panko (japanese-style) bread crumbs
Fresh rosemary, sage, thyme use whatever quantities of each you like, just so you end up with about a 1/2 c combined. I went heavy on the sage cause it was Thanksgiving. You can also use other herbs (parsley, tarragon, etc) if you like them better. but this was a SUPER delicious combination.
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Mix shallot, garlic, herbs, breadcrumbs and cheese into softened butter in a medium bowl. Place pork side by side in a foil lined baking dish and pat dry with a paper towel.  Salt and pepper both sides of meat. Split butter mixture down the middle and spread half on each loin. “Smooshing” it down with your hands works best. Done. It goes in a preheated 350 degree oven, uncovered for 1 hour. Then cover loosely with foil and continue to cook for 15-20 more minutes until your meat thermometer reads 160 degrees. Let meat rest 20 minutes before slicing and serving. If you don’t, all the juices will run out and the meat will be dry. Please make this. Its so f-ing good.
For Thanksgivin’, to the original recipe I added 1 stalk of celery when I sauteed the apple and onion, swapped chicken stock for beef stock, and stirred in 1/2 cup of dried cranberries at the end. I omitted the greens, but feel free to keep ‘em in.
Ok. Parsnips. This year I became obsessed with making parsnips. Never made them before. Never even tasted them before. They talk about them on an episode of Curious George that Nora watches over and over, so they were on the brain. Anyhoo, they’re super yummy. Basically like a combo between a carrot and a potato. Really just like a big, fat, white carrot. An interesting switch up from the same old mashed potato. 
2-3 lbs of parsnips
Pre-peeled, pre-diced parsnips
2 tbsp butter
Half and half, milk, cream, whatever
Make the bacon and set aside. In a previous post I call it WORLD FAMOUS BACON. Peel parsnips and chop into a large dice. Place in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil for about 7 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain. Pour back into hot pot. Add butter. Add a little milk and start mashing. Add more milk if you like them looser. Just watch as you go. I like mine with a little chunky texture. Salt and pepper to taste. Chop up bacon and scatter on top. I suppose you could mix it in if you like, but I like it just on the top. Totally different. Totally good. GREAT holiday side dish!
1 lb button mushrooms
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
Drizzle of olive oil
2 tbsp butter
Beyond easy. The mushrooms I bought even came pre-washed. If yours don’t, simply  brush off any dirt with a damp towel. Don’t run them under water. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and butter. Add shallots and sautee for a few minutes till softened. Add mushrooms and cook for another 10 minutes or so till shrooms are brown and delicious looking. THEN add salt and pepper. If you add salt to the mushrooms right when you put them in the pan, they’ll come out tough. Another simple sidedish: done and delicious.
This is barely a recipe. Clean and break the little end nubbers of the beans. Drop in boiling water for about 7 minutes. Drain. Butter. Salt. Eat. Don’t wanna eat butter? Olive oil. Salt. Eat. Personally, I wanna taste the vegetable. Not the cream of mushroom soup. Whoa. Yeah, I said it.
I make all of Penelope’s baby food from scratch. Nora ate everything from a jar. I wanted to make a real effort to stick to it this time around and I have to tell you, it’s been SO EASY and SO worth it. I actually bought that Baby Bullet! As seen on TV! It’s been the BEST. I highly recommend it to anyone who has a new baby or is about to. We ordered our online for about $60. I’ve gotten my money’s worth over and over again. Anyhoo, Pat’s LOVES cinnamon. She wolfs down anything with cinnamon in it. This applesauce is truly the best I’ve ever tasted. No added sugar. No added anything. Just apples. And cinnamon. 
3 large apples, on Thursday I chose Pink Ladys. They are so sweet and good, but use what you like.
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Peel and dice apples. Place into a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and let cook for about 5 minutes, till apples are fork tender. Pour apples (reserve cooking water) into Baby Bullet, blender, or food processor. Pulse to desired consistency. Add a bit of the cooking liquid if need be to loosen it up a bit. So amazing with the pork. It would also be off the hook with homemade latkes for Chanukah. Oooh! I just thought of that and I’m totally doing it. Or, just as a healthy side dish or snack anytime.
My partially devoured plate: (clockwise from left) parsnips, string beans, steel-cut stuff in', shrooms, roll, pork
I hope you try some of these dishes over the holidays and let me know how they turn out!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


To anyone who has a Facebook status bitching about kids on planes, has banged on internal walls of an apartment building in response to the 2 am wails of an infant, knocked on a door to "see if that baby is ok..." (yes this has REALLY HAPPENED) this is for you. From the completely overwhelmed, embarrassed, and exhausted parents who you ignorantly assume aren't "doing our jobs." Feel free to respond. If you dare. 
In a nutshell: FUCK.YOU. You need to know, here and now, that in any public situation where they are misbehaving beyond reason, there is NO ONE on this planet or any other that has a stronger desire for my children to pipe down than I do. Do you think I LIKE listening to kids scream on planes? No. I fucking hate it as much as you or anyone else. When my infant is inconsolably hysterical in the middle of the night because she's cutting a tooth or fighting a fever, do you think I get off on that? No. It sucks beyond belief. Hearing your child scream in pain is the most horrifying, heartbreaking, helpless feeling a parent can have. So if we interrupted you watching Jimmy Kimmel or you're gonna be SUPER sleepy for your Sunday brunch and weekly pedicure, I'm SUPER sorry. Except I'm kinda not that sorry. I mean, WHAT do you want me to do that you think I'm not already doing? Hm?
When your seat is being kicked on a cross country flight, you have no idea the amount of Goldfish crackers and coloring books and Buzz Lightyear and bribes and bottles going on behind you to make it stop. It's humiliating. No, it's beyond that. The stress is enough to dislocate my jaw. And add to that the fact that at any moment my little seat kicker could crap up her back, down to her socks. Then I have to deal with how to figure out how to change not only a poopy diaper but a complete outfit head-to-toe in a space barely big enough to change a tampon. Wanna trade lives? No? Then suck it up and order another double Jack and Diet Coke. At least you CAN. Society and medical research tends to look down upon publicly intoxicated mothers traveling alone with a toddler whilst 6 months pregnant. So that kinda leaves me in a bit of a pickle now, doesn't it? Still mad about your seat being kicked? OK, that's valid. But no way you're half as mad as I am for having paid FULL PRICE for an airline ticket for someone who has not yet mastered the skill of wiping her own ass. K?
Oh, and if you see a mother in the grocery store seemingly doing nothing as her child is in a full backbend over the cart, yelping at the top of his register something that sounds like "Sponge Bob cooooooookies!", it's because if she opened her mouth and said what she was really thinking, said child would promptly be taken away by Social Services. So she puts on a neutral face and presses on with her list. So just go grab your Lean Cuisines and your Oreos and mind ya bizniz. Then go home and turn on your TV and watch WHATEVER YOU WANT. You know what she gets to go home and watch? "Caillou." Do you know who "Caillou" is? If you do not, my jealousy for you is suffocating. Search it on YouTube. I challenge you to sit through 5 minutes before wanting to gauge your eyes out with a washable marker. 
Nora Bella at her uncle's wedding. On her best behavior.
Look: Living in New York City (let alone being a mom in NYC) can make you hate everything. I have about 673,421 pet peeves and probably encounter between 17 and 138 of them on a daily basis. Just trying to get my kids from point A to point B. I hate when people eat yogurt on the subway. I hate when fat people take elevators when the handicapped and people pushing double strollers need them more. I hate when people stop in the middle of the sidewalk to text or say "Goodbye" to a friend. ARRRRG. Move to the SIDE. Sheesh. It was one of those days when I had just a few simple errands to run with my girls. A few simple errands, ha! Trying to navigate the island with 2 under 2 puts the schlep to Mordor to shame. The city was just eating me alive. Defeating me. I had just barely made it before the doors of the uptown A train squeezed what was left of me to death. I just looked around. So over it. So grossed out. By everything. EveryONE.  And then, in the midst of my tsunami of a day, a ripple of peace and understanding washed over me... 
Why don't we all go through our day, EVERY day, unselfishly comprehending that we have no idea where each other have come from, where one another are going, and what we're going to do when we get there? If we give everyone around us the benefit of the doubt and assume and accept that they're doing the best they can in the circumstances they're given from day to day, maybe they'll do the same for us. We're all just trying to survive. Just trying through another 24 hours when the odds (and other's bowels in some cases) seem to be against us. Maybe if we realized this we'd all be a little bit happier. And that joy would no doubt trickle down. So how 'bout you get over my double stroller and my screaming kid and I'll get over the fact that you think it's ok to wear a denim button down and pleat front pants. Come to think of it, maybe that yogurt lady on the subway is on her way to her 3rd job. She has no time to sit for dinner and she's making a conscious choice not to get McDonald's. Maybe that fat guy just had knee surgery because he just started working out after 30 years off sitting on his ass watching Maury Povich and eating fried chicken. He normally takes the stairs, enduring the pain. But today, with the crummy weather, it was just too much so just this once he decided to take the elevator. And JUST maybe, the couple parting ways in the middle of the sidewalk not letting anyone by on a Saturday afternoon on the Upper West Side, are sisters. They haven't spoken in 9 years and they just ran into each other visiting their terminally ill mother in the hospital and decided to go for lunch.. I mean, really...what do I know? Well, I do know one thing: Drakkar Noir smells like shit and I can think of not a single sob story that would make it ok for you to wear it in public over the age of 14. Please stop.

This is a new section called THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX. I recently (in the past few years) have gotten into baking. Never really liked it before. I went through a nesting period while pregnant with Nora. Cleaning...organizing...? Not so much. Baking? Yes. I became obsessed with baking cookies. There was a reprise of this when I was prego with Pats last Christmas. Don't worry- as the holidays grow closer I'll do a whole cookie series! Anyhoo- I always bake my cookies from scratch and stir by hand. It was part of the nesting. Cupcakes and brownies: I almost ALWAYS start with a box. When mixes are on sale 10/$10 I stock up! Then I add and subtract ingredients and make them my own. My Mother-in-Law actually gave me an awesome cookbook on the subject. In this series, the recipes are my own and I will now share them with you. Cause I'm cool like that. 
The perfect indulgence after a beat down kinda day. Plus, there's booze in them! Follow the recipe on the box, subbing bourbon for the water and coffee for the oil. These were the measurements in the recipe I used today. Your mix might vary a bit. 
1 box of your favorite brownie mix
1 egg
1/4 cup bourbon (I really think it should be bourbon as opposed to whisky or scotch, but the brand of bourbon doesn't matter too much.)
2 tbsp brewed coffee (doesn't make it taste like coffee, just bumps up the chocolate flavor)
4 oz semisweet chocolate chips 
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a small dish, reserve about 3 tbsp of the brownie mix. Combine remaining mix, egg, bourbon and coffee until moistened. Don't overmix. Coat chocolate chips in the reserved mix. This keeps the chips from sinking to the bottom. (This is a great tip. For other recipes you can coat in a bit of flour. It works great for any kind of chips, raisins, craisins, etc.) Fold chips into batter. Pour into a greased or sprayed 8x8 glass or metal pan. Bake for 24-26 minutes. I personally always lean to the underdone side for brownies, then pop them in the freezer. Over cooked brownies are one of my pet peeves. Go figure.   

Saturday, October 22, 2011


I'm currently holed up in a temporary house in Stratford, Ontario. We drove the 10 plus hours from NYC, and the night before our journey, Pats caught her first cold. On the road, Nora decided she was a full time potty user. We literally stopped every hour so she could do her business. Needless to say, Nora and I both caught Patsy's cold and the potty is a thing of the past. Oh, and because she can't breathe through her nose, Patsy's 2 solid meals a day have switched back to zero. In a nutshell, she's breastfeeding twice as much, pooping 3x as much and add it to the toddler poo I'm back to changing, basically I'm up to my elbows in shit just as Jeremy's back to full time work. Awesome. GREAT timing.
The subject of timing becomes a hot button before our kids are even born. In regards to any planned pregnancy, I think we all went through the "is this the right time??" Being financially, and emotionally prepared is a big deal. Then we all come the the realization that NO time is the right time, and ya just do it and you survive. And anything you might have "given up" or "missed" due to the gestation and birth of your baby doesn't matter cause she's here and perfect and your life is complete now, blah, blah, blah. HOWEVER... isn't it just PERFECT timing that the moment after you have MAJOR abdominal surgery/blow your vagina out, there's a brand new little creature on this earth completely dependent on you for survival. You don't even know what day it is, you're hopped up on painkillers, you can't poop, and there's a teeney tiny heartbeat literally left in your hands. Literally stuck to you. Perfect. No pressure.
Oh, and as your little bundle of joy grows, their knack for impeccable timing doesn't stop. No sir. Some of my favorites include:
*Several weeks postpartum, cleared for exercise. Yes, Jillian Michaels, give it to me girl. 30 days to shred my chunky monkey back into my jeans. It's at the precise moment my motivation is at its peak that my infant decides she needs to be rocked to sleep and held through every nap. Why, little girl, why? Why do you want a fat, sad mommy? And by the time the bubehla decides she can nap on her own, I decide I'm over working out. I would rather watch the Kardashians, making me feel better about my big 'ol butt. Oh yeah.
*Papa's putting Nora to sleep. Pat's is snoozing downstairs. I am snuggled on the couch in front of Dancing with the Stars about to bite into a Funfetti cupcake I made on a Monday for absolutely no reason except Funfetti cupcakes sounded good, and ringing off the walls from upstairs is the shrill cry of "Nooooooo! Mama books! Puh-leeeeeeease! Mamaaaaaaa!" Amazing.
*I find myself showered and with clean teeth at 2:00 pm on a Thursday afternoon. Laundry is in the dryer and there are no dishes in the sink. Jeremy is home and also good in the personal hygiene department. Nora shouldn't be up from her nap for at least another hour. Pats is asleep in her crib in the bedroom. Sounds like a recipe for Sext Time. Oh my God. This is actually gonna happen. I'm of course exhausted, but I'm conscious so let's DO this. 5 pumps in and, from the neighboring crib, the sex police siren furiously fires, "waaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!" Are you KIDDING me? How do they KNOW??? Arrrg. 
You really just have to laugh. I mean, if your choices are laugh, cry, or throw things...I feel like laughing burns the most calories. Well, throwing things probably burns a lot too, but that means you'd have ANOTHER mess in your life to clean up and I thanks. I think we run into problems when we over plan. It, for me anyway, always seems to lead to disappointment. The Boy Scouts have it right! BE PREPARED. Be prepared for anything, but don't over plan everything. Our kids, the weather, a faulty traffic light, a closed bakery are all gonna factor into why we can't get done what we're trying to do in the little time we have. And it can be SO FRUSTRATING! But it's life, right? Be prepared. Stay positive. Two good mottos to live by on the daily. Because as wives and mothers and working women of the world, perfect timing just ain't gonna happen, sister! Well, except maybe ONCE in a blue moon... Here's a tid-bit:
I was 9 months pregnant with Pats. Nora and I were alone in NYC, Jeremy was working in Seattle. Snow was up to the front door. I was swollen, exhausted, gassy and cranky. Nora was 18 1/2 months old. Not the best combination. How would I make it through this day let alone the rest of the week until my reinforcements arrived? The thought was terrifying and literally nauseating. I'm changing a poopy diaper, huffing and puffing my way through it. I was thinking about crying or throwing something, when Nora reached up to my face and smiled. She cupped my cheeks (as I cupped hers!) and says, "Good job, Mama. Mama? Good job." Sigh. Thanks, kid. Your timing couldn't be more perfect. 

Nora and Pats (aka Cupcake Patrol and Sex Police) caught in a perfectly timed moment.
Here's a few fall recipes. They take a bit of time, but fill you up for a long time. They're warm and yummy, cause mom needs comfort sometimes, too...

I've always kind of shied away from slow cooked meat dishes. Why? So easy, so delicious, crowd pleasing, comforting... I first made this dish for our friends Jenn and Curtis when we stayed with them for the weekend in the Catskills. Fall was just beginning to fall and this seemed like the perfect, cozy dinner. Well, of course that ONE weekend the weather spiked to the high 80's as we had the oven on for 4 hours during the day! There ya go again: perfect timing. 
About 2 short ribs per person (this recipe's for 4 adults)
Superfine flour I LIVE for Wondra. I use it ALL the time to thicken soups, chili, sauces, etc when I don't feel like making a roux.
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
2 onions
2 cloves garlic
Fresh herbs, whatever you have. I used some rosemary, thyme, parsley...bundle up and wrap in cheesecloth and tie up. You CAN just throw it it, but its a little annoying to pick out later.
Olive oil
1 bottle of red wine (something you would drink from a glass. The flavors will concentrate and flavor the meat. It doesn't have to be expensive, but you don't want a shitty wine. Remember "good wine" means what tastes good to YOU. Not some expert or book. No shame in what you like!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a large cast iron pot to medium high heat. pat meat dry with a paper towel, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with flour. Drop in hot pot and brown on each side. Roughly chop veggies. You don't need to peel or even skin the onions and garlic. You're gonna drain all these out anyway. Just to flavor the sauce. Once meat is browned, remove from pot and add veggies. Season with salt and pepper. Just let them get a bit of color, then return meat. Throw in your herbs. Pour in the whole bottle of wine. Well, maybe one glass shy! If you don't wanna use wine for some reason, beef stock would work great. So would chicken stock. If you don't have any of that, water is ok, I guess. Put a lid on the pot and transfer to the preheated oven and let it go for 4 hours! Yup that's it! So, not that much time throwing it together. Just a long cooking time.  So, after 4 hours, pull out the meat and set aside. It should literally be falling off the bone. (DROOL) Strain the veggies, and return liquid to stove top. Turn burner to med-low and  whisk in Wondra slowly until the gravy begins thicken up. Give it a taste and and salt and pepper if needed. Serve gravy on the side. SO. GOOD.
These short ribs are awesome with any kind of potatoes: mashed, scalloped, whatever. But, I thought I'd shake this one up a bit. Now my girlfriend, Jenn- Catskill Jenn- she's my side dish diva! She LOVES her crock pot and every time we do a pot luck, or she has us over for supper she always has these super delish and interesting sides made with barley or quinoa. Goodness. So this "stuffing" is half inspired by Jenn, half making a silver lining around a mistake I made at the grocery store. So, we're in Ontario for a few weeks. We might as well be in a third world country. I'm such a spoiled little JAP/creature of habit. I stare at the shelves in the market like I can't read English. I mean, everything's IN ENGLISH. (in my whiny bitch voice): But its all called different stuff... Anyhoo- I was looking for Old Fashioned Oats. As opposed to Quick Oats. Well, I can't find them. After 5 minutes of just...staring at the oatmeal, I just grab what I thought were Old Fashioned Oats. Not. Got them home and they were steel cut oats. SUPER healthy. But super annoying cause they take like 25 minutes on the stove. No. I can't. Half the time I don't even cook my oatmeal, I just throw it on top of yogurt. These steel cut oats weren't gonna cut it for me. They're actually tasty. However, as I was eating them with my cinnamon and honey I was thinking if I was gonna go through this much trouble I wanted much more out of them. So I came up with this! An awesome savory side dish. Almost like a cross between a Thanksgiving stuffing and a risotto. Yes, please!
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion
1 medium apple
1 box of beef stock (just happened to be what I had on hand. Chicken stock would be great too. If nothing else or to make it vegetarian veg stock or just plain 'ol water.
1 cup steel cut oats
Handful of fresh herbs/greens I had chives, parsley and a handful of baby spinach.
Parmesan cheese, a handful or so
Sauté onions garlic and apple seasoned with salt and pepper in olive oil over medium heat for a few minutes until softened a bit. Add beef stock and bring to a boil. Stir in oats. Reduce heat to simmer. Cook 25 minutes, stirring often. Stir in chopped herbs and cheese. Serve right away or refrigerate and serve later in a casserole dish. Sprinkle top with more parm and bake in a 400 degree oven till top is golden brown. Stir in leftover chicken to make it a meal! Besides the little bit of olive oil, this dish is super low fat, super high fiber and super awesome! You can use this recipe as a jumping point and add ANYTHING! Any kind of veggies (mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini, whatever), shrimp, get CRAZY! Yeah. I need to get out more.
After serving this meal that tastes like you spent ALL day (in reality you spent under an hour) they'll wonder "How DOES she do it? And with TWO little ones?! She must be a superwoman!" Adding more pressure to your already breaking point of a life...sigh...just smile and say "Oh it's nothing." And stock up on wine.