Friday, October 29, 2010

Hot Chocolate Love

My sister treated us to a cup of hot chocolate last night.  Mmmm....  Don't you just love hot cocoa?  That first sip just makes you melt into your couch.  There's nothing like it.

Sipping in my reverie, I got to some productive thinking.  Since Mr. Mig and I are in a state of purging and realizing we just have way too many posessions and the holiday gift-giving season is approaching very quickly, why don't we give gifts this year that are consumable instead of collectable.  Who needs more "things" to take care of?

What would be a gift then?  Hot Cocoa Mix.  Homemade, of course.

It's so simple.  This is all you need:
10 cups (an 8-quart package) nonfat dry milk powder
1 16-oz package (about 4 3/4 cups) sifted powdered sugar
1 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 6-oz jar (1 3/4 cups) powdered nondairy creamer
Marshmallows or whipped cream (optional)

Thoroughly combine nonfat dry milk powder, powdered sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, and nondairy creamer in large mixing bowl.  Store mixture in an airtight container.  Makes about 15 cups or enough for 45 8-oz servings.

For 1 serving, place 1/3 cup cocoa mixture in mug.  Add 3/4 cup boiling water.  Stir to dissolve and top with a dollop of whipped cream or some marshmallows.

Special treat: If you a Mocha Mix, add 1/2 cup instant coffee crystals into the dry ingredients.

It's a gift made with love and given with love.  Oooh, l'amour.

Photo captured with love by Pausestill.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Breakfast with favorite people

A terrific lady and her sweetheart had us over for breakfast.  They made the frittata and we brought the orange juice and champagne.  Can't go wrong with mimosas.

Since my husband loves champagne and I was given the task of purchasing it, I was a little nervous.  So, off to the local Binny's I went.

Luckily, they are always really nice and helpful.  We looked at some cava, checked out some champagne, and decided upon some sparkling wine because it came with a good story.  And who doesn't like stories?

Gruet Winery.  She said they are a transplant from France.  The vine or the vintners, I asked.
It turns out, Le Famille Gruet was en vacances in New Mexico and saw that "the land was inexpensive and the opportunity golden". Et voila!  Their Gruet et Fils champagne brand is still produced in Bethon, France.

We had great company, great conversation, and great food and mimosas.  If you haven't gotten together with dear friends in a while you should.  You will be very welcomed with a bottle of Gruet and some OJ.  Cheers to you.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Go-To Dinner: Shrimp and Pasta

Do you have a go-to dinner?  You know, the dish you make when you're tired and hungry at the end of your day?  I do.  And it was an accident.

It's the easiest thing to make and when you sit down to eat, you don't feel like you compromised.

This dish was created out of desperation.  I cooked what I had on-hand: shrimp, can of diced tomatoes, frozen asparagus, zucchini, capers, onions, olives, mushrooms, and Parmesan cheese.  And always red pepper flakes.  Throw it all in one pan, et voila, you're done.  Toss on the cheese with a flourish and then serve with a smile.  It pairs great with either white or red wine.  So, drink what you have on-hand too.
I don't know about my husband, but I feel a little bit decadent eating this for dinner.  Go ahead, try it for yourself.  You'll be so surprised at how easy it is to make.  We all should have a go-to.  So, please have mine if you need one.  Cheers to you.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Picking

I haven't shopped for a pumpkin in years.  Add a baby into the mix and your habits certainly change.

Recently, we got together with my sisters and their girls to start the pickin' tradition.  And it turns out, that nearly 1000 people already had the same idea.

When we arrived at the pumpkin farm there were police directing traffic.  Oh boy.  There were parking attendants.  OOHH BOY.

To say the least, it was a little nutty.  Throw on top of that: The Petting Zoo.  Now, I don't know much about natural history of the Midwest, but I'm fairly confident that giraffes and camels are not indigenous species.  The crowd of people and kids went crazy for all the exotic animals.  It wasn't what I expected at a pumpkin farm.

I imagine that when you head to your neighborhood pumpkin patch (ours was an hour drive and 1/2 dozen towns later), you have your sights on finding the perfect orange pumpkin.  Noble.  I, however, have my sights on something else: Apple Cider Doughnuts.
Have you had them?  What do you think makes them so yummy? The cinnamon and sugar crunch when you bite in? The special taste when you eat them with hot apple cider? Are they so wonderful because they are only available for a few weeks a year?  Yes, yes, and yes.

The crowd at the pumpkin farm was nutty, but I will certainly fight my way through to secure myself a baker's dozen of those doughnuts.  Without a doubt.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mr. Dependable. A Wine Review: Rioja

Do you have a go-to wine?  I've had a long relationship with my grape.  It started in college (doesn't everything?).  I received a bottle of Rioja from my undergraduate advisor (That, my dear, is story for another time.)  The Marques de Caceres was my first kiss of red wine.  C'etait l'amour.
I've only ever drank the Marques de Caceres Rioja and I've loved it every time.  It's always been so reasonably priced and it pairs well with pasta, burgers, even salads.  This, darling, I will drink with just a wine glass.

Go ahead, get yourself a bottle and meet my Mr. Dependable.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Bite of Heaven

It felt like time had stood still.  I couldn't help but close my eyes.  I think I heard angels singing in the background. I was holding heaven in my hands.  For brief seconds it was there and then...gone.

This happened at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Normally, I'm more disciplined (at least a little) and have something sensible for breakfast.  But, its pull was too much for me to fight without sufficient sleep.

Let me show you.  I know you'll understand.  Can I introduce you to the Peanut Butter and Nutella Ice Cream Sandwich?
 It started as a delectable Nutella Peanut Butter cookie dreamed up by Amanda.
Then, to make Mr. Mig weak in the knees, we hugged a scoop of Baskin-Robbins Peanut Butter 'n Chocolate ice cream with two of the chewy cookies.

After taking his first bite, he confessed his love for me. But I think I heard him say Amanda softly.  It's ok.  I think I love her too.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Comfort Food: Mac & Cheese

I don't know about you, but when the mornings are crisp and the evening are cool, I find myself wanting to bake.  So, over the last couple of weeks, I've been a bakin'.

While greasing the skids, if you will, I warmed up with a classic comfort food: Mac & Cheese.

I'll show you what I originally did, but I think next time I'm going to make some changes and grow-up this classic.

This is what you'll need:
1# pasta (I used Elbows)
4T butter
4T flour
2c milk
1/2t salt
some pepper
2c shredded cheese (I used combo of cheddar and Monterrey jack)
1/2c bread crumbs

Next time I'm adding:
1c chopped onion and butter to saute
pinch pepper flakes
1/2 c white wine

In large saucepan, saute onions in some butter with pepper flakes.  Deglaze pan with wine when onions are browned a bit.  When wine has reduced, add the 4T butter.  When that's melted, add flour, salt and pepper and stir with whisk until well blended.  Pour in milk gradually; stirring constantly.  Bring to a boil point and boil for 2 min while stirring constantly. Reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes while continually stirring.  Gradually add shredded cheese and simmer an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts.  Remove from heat and stir in cooked pasta.  Transfer to a greased baking dish when pasta is well coated with the cheese.  Sprinkle with bread crumbs and pop into a 400 degree oven and cook for about 20 minutes until the top is golden.

It's oooy and goooy and just perfect when you want to curl up on the couch with your sweetheart after a busy day and relax - warm bowl in hand.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Little Magic Tricks

My wee one just turned 6 months old.  It's like the little plum grew up overnight.  (Please, no eye rolling.)  It's both thrilling and a little heart breaking.  I want her to stay little forever.  It's a bit early, I know, but she's already decided not listen to me.

So, to pull me out of my reverie, she showed me her latest magic trick.

Ta daaaaaa!
I asked her how she did it.  She's not revealing her secrets.  I wonder what trick she's planning next.  I should probably keep track of the dogs.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Surprise Visit

While drinking tea on the balcony, some unexpected visitors stopped by for a quick visit on their trip down south to winter.  They didn't stay long as they have a lot of travels ahead.
I would love to have gone with them.  January, February, and March are some difficult times in Chicagoland.  But, they will probably say hello when popping by in the spring.  Bon voyage.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Kitchen Helpers

Don't you feel like your days are in segments?  Or blocks of time?  Do a little work then get interrupted.  Pick something up and then put it down again to start something else?  Ah, c'est la vie, n'est pas?

But, at some point I always find myself in the kitchen.  One of my favorite places to be.  I don't know about you but I really enjoy cooking with company.  Stirring a bubbly pot, glass of red wine in hand, and catching up with my husband is the perfect ending to any day. Some days, however, it doesn't work out like that. But, I always have help in the kitchen.  Enter Dudley and Cricket.

Dudley has been a part of our pack for a little over a year now. He's going to be 12 years old in December.  He comes with some baggage.  A lot.  But, we are charmed by his cataract-y eyes and his little pink tongue that holds court on the right side of his nose.

We think he's seen some street time since he eats everything: animal, vegetable, mineral, and unidentifiable. Apparently, dust bunnies are tasty. 

It doesn't matter who's house he's in, if you enter the kitchen, Dudley will rise out of a deep slumber and trot in right behind you. He's always a willing taste-tester.
May I present to you, Cricket.  She's more of a lady.  Or as my husband calls her: HRP (her royal princess)

She's a bit more of a picky eater.  But, don't let the name fool you.  She may not eat everything, but she's willing to roll her cute self in some surprising substances.  She's been the pack leader for 8.5 years and will be turning 10 in November.

As far as kitchen help, she likes to be impressed.  She only makes an appearance in the cantina if called or if cheddar cheese is being sliced.

Whether it's sharing a glass of wine with my husband or cheese with my pups, it's always nice to have company in the kitchen when relaxing next to a simmering pot after a long, busy day.  Cheers to you and your helpers.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Acorn Squash

Nana's family has a garden.  You can do that when you're living in the country.

Watermelons and tomatoes just taste better when they sunbathe until they are ripe. It's practically decadent.

This weekend, Nana gifted us with five home-grown acorn squashes. She prefers hers baked with slices of bacon. Grandpa adds brown sugar. Simplicity is key for me: pinch of salt and pepper and a pat of butter.

No matter which way you lean, savory or sweet, acorn squashes are in season.  Mmmm...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Apple Picking

I bet you haven't done this in years.  Apple picking.  While we spent the weekend at Nana's and Grandpa's house, my sisters took their girls to the apple orchard.  Pony rides, pumpkins, apple cider, and those wonderful apple cider doughnuts.  Oh, and apples.

What does one do with a bushel of sweet pommes? Well, if you're lucky, they'll make you some apple crisp.

Now, my mom is by no means a good cook.  Actually, she's terrible.  But apple crisp?  The Best.  We used to jump off the school bus and run inside and she would have hot apple crisp waiting for us to snack on.  That's love.

My youngest sister put her baking skills to the test this weekend.  She let me have a mini loaf.
Was it just like Mom's?  Well, a little bit more practice is in order.  I'll be the happy taste-tester.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Warming up with Soup

And so it begins. Autumn. That time of year were everything seems to hunker down in preparation for a long winter that's right around the corner. The air is crisp when you greet the morning. And in the evening...soup.

It simmers on the stove all day and the spices are the first to welcome you home from work.  "It's so nice to see you.  We missed you."

Each warm sip drains away the work day and relaxes your muscles. A nice night in and the perfect way to wrap up a Monday.  Good night, my love.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dinner - Spaghetti Carbonara

What do you get when you combine butter, cream, cheese, bacon and eggs with some pasta?  A small heart attack?  Well, not technically.  It's actually call spaghetti alla Carbonara.

The origins of the dish is quite a grey area with many legends.  Carbonara is derived from the Italian word for coal.  So, was it a meal first made for Italian charcoal workers?  Was it originally made over charcoal grills?  Perhaps first made with squid's ink and given that coal color?  Some say it was all the black pepper sprinkled on it that gave the speckled charcoal look?  Hmmm....  Well, one thing for certain, though delicious, this dish isn't for the faint hearted. Literally.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Anatomy of a Kiss

There are so many. There is the classic kiss, the au revoir peck, the bisou on each cheek, the kiss on the hand (so Continental!), the French kiss, and the delightful smooch. There's even one named after Eskimos. You probably have a favorite.

Stealing some sugar is sometimes surprising.

 But, is it better to get those sweet kisses?

 Or is it better to give a little smooch?

How many kisses do you give in one whole day?  How many do you get?  A handful? A few dozen? My quota has risen considerably with the addition of our wee one.  And I can't think of anything better than being kissed to death.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Santa, please!

Dear Santa,
I hope this letter finds you well.  I'm not sure about the reliability of this week's Financial Times Weekend Edition delivery so far north.  However, if you had a chance to look at the How To Spend It magazine insert, this Saturday's copy was a bit special: A Passion for Fashion.

I do recognize that you keep a rather simple closet with a bias towards fur-lined red suits (with matching hat, of course).  But, if you could see to it to take a peek at the Fall 2010 Ready-to-Wear collection by Stella McCartney, you would find a simply fantastic Lewis top with wool trousers that I've got my eye on.  I've even wished upon a falling star that I'll see it wrapped up under the Christmas tree this winter.
Image complements of

Since you do get rather busy, I wanted to get this note off to you quickly in advance of the holiday rush. I trust that you know and remember my size.  I've been pretty good this year and I'll make doubly sure that I'm extra good for the remainder of 2010.
My fingers are crossed.

I haven't decided on which cookies to leave beside the fireplace.  Peanut butter or would you prefer something with chocolate? Brownies, perhaps?


Friday, September 24, 2010

A Day in the Life of the Wee One

Today's Agenda:
1.) Wake up at 9a.  (Waking at 2a, 430a, and 6a don't count)
2.) Play with toes.  (Found toes for the first time yesterday.) Great fun.
3.) Smile at mom after getting tidy diaper.
4.) Tummy time.  Roll over for 4th time and make sure mom misses it again. (Mom has efficiency issues and tries to multitask.)
5.) Eat breakfast.
6.) Swing in chair and greet morning.
7.) Nap.
8.) Wake and repeat.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Comfort Food: Grilled Cheese

I don't know about you but, when the weather gets a little bit cooler and you're pulling the sweaters out of the back of the closet, comfort foods always come to mind.  Sipping tea in the morning listening to the neighborhood waking, wrapping your hands around a warm mug of hot chocolate in the afternoon, curling up on couch with a fuzzy blanket and a glass of red to finish off the day.  Makes you smile just thinking about it.

But what about dinner?  Something simple.  Filling.  Grilled cheese sandwiches.  That'll hit the spot.  Like a warm hug on a plate.
Now, those toasted wedges weren't filled with any plain ol' cheddar, no sir.  Each bit oozed with horseradish white cheddar cheese!   Don't worry.  There's just enough horseradish to keep it interesting but not too much that you need to keep a box of Kleenex as the centerpiece.  The heat of the sandwich played nice with the sweet 'tater fries and a little bit of healthy was provided by a red cabbage salad.

Make that a warm hug from Mom on a plate.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wine Review - Middle Sister

Making dinner the other night I found that I was missing an needed ingredient: wine!  Don't you think a meal is more complete when it is coupled with a glass of wine?

Dreamy Husband to the rescue!  Soon a bottle of pinot noir is being uncorked in the kitchen.
I don't know about you, but I'm a sucker for pretty pictures.  You're not supposed to judge a book by the cover, or wine bottles in this case, because, well just because.  But falling for good marketing is so easy! 

Not only is this wine in an adorable package, but it is a great fruity, peppery wine!  On top of that, it looks like a great winery.  Just take a look at their website.  It's delightful!  

We will surely drink this pinot noir again and probably uncork a few of Middle Sister's other grapes!  Uncork your own bottle and share your opinion!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fit as a Fiddle

Ok, so it's been a little hard for me to come to grips with some simple arithmetic: my age + post-baby bod + no exercise = really unfit.  Denying the current situation has been pretty easy.  My old clothes actually still fit.  Fit well?  Well, no.  What happened to the muscle tone?  Was it accidentally packed away with the old college t-shirts?

So, as of this morning, I've started a new regime!  I'm aiming for an upgrade: Ms. Mig 2.0!

Now, one knows that one must be gentle upon embarking on the 1.0 to 2.0 upgrade.  So, I'm going to be kind and start off with stretching and floor work complements of the New York City Ballet.  Since I am neither a New York resident nor a dancer, my figure and I will be DVDing it.  I'm kind of excited!
I won't be found wearing leotards or spandex currently nor when I've mastered this program.  But I hope to feel good and strong.  And when I take a quick peek in the mirror at my backside I hope to have a little smile.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I {heart} Cupcakes

It doesn't matter who you are, if your old or young.  Cupcakes are delightful!  There is a bakery close to my dreamy husband's work.  They make unforgettable cupcakes!  Seriously.  I'm a little picky when it comes to frosting.  I don't like a grainy, mealy frosting.  My palate likes a smooth and creamy cap.  Not too sweet, but just like Goldilocks said: just right!

We ordered a bunch for the wee one's party.  They were a hit!  You gotta love the baby booties, rattles and diaper pins on top!

You know what else is great about each one of these wonderful little cakes?  The center is filled with icing!  They are also the only cupcakes that I've had that stay nice and fresh for days! I know!

And every once in a while, much to my delight, my dreamy husband will surprise me with a few cupcakes, just because he loves me!
They even taste wonderful right out of the fridge when the icing is firm.  I really hope he surprises me with a few tomorrow.  I'll definitely give him a kiss and maybe, just maybe, I'll share one with him.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Moment Captured

I remember the first time I visited Paris and met her, La Tour Eiffel. With her asymtotic lines, I still find her captivating.

I found this photo online and it absolutely makes me sigh.  The photographer caught... something... a moment in time, a dream, love, romance, hope with the simple push of a button.

Trying to find the photographer of this original has been the proverbial needle and haystack senario.  The Cherry Blossom Girl?  Her photography is delightful.

Do you have any ideas as to the one who captured Madame La Tour in her gossamer beauty?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Guaranteed Smiles

Have you ever been in one of those moods that you can't shake? Everything irritates you...people are driving nutty on your way to work...your coffee order is messed up...the phone keeps ringing...your to-do list keeps getting longer...heck, you lost your to-do list!

Well, try this on for size!

A lucky girl named Claire went to an exhibit in the UK of fabulous and whimsical photographer Tim Walker.  If his work doesn't make you catch your breathe, daydream, and smile, well, you better just turn your car around, go home, close the door and take a nap!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mimosas with Margaux

What is one of the best things in the world?  Babies? Yes! Friends & Family? Yes! Mimosas? YES! When they are all together in one place, they are the best-est!

When our little bundle of smiles made her early debut she made it on one of her scheduled baby showers.  When we made it home from the hospital, it was on the date of her second baby shower!

So, we decided to throw a party ourselves!  What could be better than mimosas with Margaux?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Everything I Love

April is a great time of year. The snow is melting, people are defrosting and starting to smile again after the long winter.  I especially liked April this year. I went to the doctor's office for a routine prenatal checkup on a bright and sunny day and lo and behold my wee one decided to make an early debut. You can tell that she charmed her daddy in a nanosecond!

I know it's kind of cliche, but my world slipped off its axis that afternoon only 5 months ago and now very happily orbits around a tiny girl.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Second Sunday Suppers

You know those favorite people in your life?  J&K are definitely those people: funny, charming, smart, welcoming, and humble.  They are wonderful individuals and a fantastic couple.  We love them so much that we actually called them up and invited ourselves over to their beautiful home for dinner.  I know, not exactly the Emily Post thing to do!  But we did secure an invitation:

In the time-honored tradition of our Grandmas, Moms, and numerous Aunts who could always seem to “feed the masses” on a moment’s notice; as a rekindling of many fond childhood neighborhood picnic memories; as motivation to keep experiencing the abundant joys of cooking; and as a perpetual monthly celebration of very special family and friends...
We present you with our
Second Sunday Suppers
11 am to 5pm. Food, music, conversation, and perhaps cards or dominoes too. Bring the kids – there’s a large City park directly across the street. Meals will be more traditional: family-style or picnic-style – and all food will be provided.
(Though homegrown produce or home-made preserves will rarely be refused) If you wish to drink something other than Iced Tea, Lemonade or Water, please BYO.
One of the host's pups napping with our wee one
Whether a large group or a small one, we’ll be grilling and baking regardless, but it’s always more fun doing it for those you care about. And a timely notification of your anticipated attendance is still requested. If less are able make it in any particular month, then that just leaves more for us to package and freeze for easy weekday lunches and dinners, or to ship off to Hospice.
If you are greater than the 20th guest to RSVP, or if you give less than 24 hours notice that you are coming, then there’s a remote chance that you might be asked to show up with a loaf of French bread, an extra head of lettuce, or something from the grocery deli – our choice!
Other than that, just mark your calendars and keep the dates in mind – especially if your weekend travels bring you within the vicinity of our home. The first three dates are:
July 11th --- August 8th --- September 12th
We plan to do everything possible to set every second Sunday aside – for Food, Fun, Family and Friends. In the event of a future date cancellation, notice will be given as early as possible. (For instance October 10th will not occur, due to an out-of-town wedding that weekend.)

So, Save the Dates, and We Hope to See You Soon!
J & K

Now can you understand why we couldn't resist going to their home??  They are delightful and everything is always delish!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lambrusco wine

I really enjoy drinking wine.  Who doesn't? My favorites are Cabs.  Full, fruity and delicious.  However, when summer comes around I always feel disappointed.  I just couldn't get behind any white wines except the occasional pinot grigio.  But then, a few years back at an Italian restaurant in Chicago, we were introduced to Lambrusco.

Wow!  It just sings SUMMER!  It's light, a little sparkly (say p├ętillant to impress your neighbors), and fruity.  And it tastes great with meaty Italian dishes and just about anything that comes off the grill.  It even comes with a champagne-style cork!  Just opening it heralds merriment.

Lambrusco isn't that easy to find. When you do discover a bottle, take it for a spin.  See what you think. We've discovered that Lambrusco is like gumbo.  Each bottle tastes a little different.  Some are better than others but all are enjoyable.

So, keep an eye out when you're out-and-about and fill your glass with a little bit of summer before it's Cab opening season.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Grocery Shopping Therapy

I consider myself a late bloomer when it comes to cooking.  My sister Inga did all the cooking growing up.  I never considered it until I was well into college and very tired of eating spaghetti and Ragu (with mushrooms) or toast with cinnamon and sugar.

I decided to cut my teeth by cooking one meal a week for my 3 male roommates.  They were all for it.

It started out slowly.  The preparation and cooking would take me hours.  And for a poor college student, it would cost a pretty penny (especially since my roommates would eat everything and save nothing for me.  Thanks guys).  With each meal I cooked my anxiety would decrease a bit and confidence would grow.

I completely enjoy spending time in the kitchen now.  And my husband is very (very!) supportive of my culinary time.  Even grocery shopping is a pleasure.  When I've had a particularly bad day, my dreamy husband will ask me if I want to go to Michael's Fresh Market or Trader Joe's.  I can spend hours there and I always come out happy.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sweet dreams

I feel like a Visine commercial today. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed my wee one awoke at 330a to talk this morning. Everyone was up: 2 dogs, 1 mom, 1 dad, and 1 who-should-have-been-sleeping-like-a-baby baby.

I absolutely adore my child and find nothing more interesting than watching her grow everyday.  But as far as being a conversationalist, she doesn't listen too well or talk in complete sentences or any sentences for that matter.

As I type this and daydream about 5 hours of continuous sleep, I'm drinking tea in the largest mug I could find and watching my wee one take her first nap of the day.  Sleeping like a baby.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Shrimp Po Boys

Tonight I couldn't figure out what to make for dinner.  But I knew I wanted to make sweet potato french fries.  I love love love sweet potatoes.  In any form. If I had to choose between my dreamy husband and a bag of those sweet spuds....  anyhoo...

So, what goes with fries?  A 'wich.  But our fridge is pretty lean right now.  (I really need to pack up the wee one and head to the store.)  And then inspiration hit me.  I had frozen shrimp.  Taadaaa!  Shrimp Po Boys!

Now, if you have spent any time in Louisiana, and I spent a whole year there, you would realize that inhabitants of that southern state take their food quite seriously.  The recipe that I created isn't even close to authentic.  But it sure was tasty!!!

Mini Frittata Quiches

I really don't like wasting food.  If we have left-over food, I really try to "repackage" it into something equally delicious.  We had a storage container with cooked rice and vegetables.  Et voila!  Mini frittata quiches!  And something new for breakfast.

Mini frittata quiches
All it took was:
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups soy milk
garlic powder
Cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
2 cups cooked rice with vegetables (tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli, onion, green beans, carrots)
2 slices whole wheat bread
grated cheese (I had a Parmesan mixture but anything would work)

Mix everything together in a bowl except for the bread and cheese.  Break up any big clumps of rice.  Use a biscuit cutter and make little rounds of bread to create a "crust" for the quiche.  Grease the muffin tins with butter and place a bread round in each tin.

Ladle into each muffin mold the egg/rice mixture. Top with some cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Breakfast Cereal Alternative

I love breakfast.  It's undoubtedly my favorite meal.  A warm mug of coffee or sometimes a cup of tea with...what?  Since I get the privileged of working from home, I would make myself some pretty nice first meals of the day.  Now that we have added my wee one into the equation, breakfasts have broken down to the bare minimum: Cereal.  And I'm tired of it.

What can I make the night before that can be stored in the fridge that both Mr. Dreamy and I can enjoy in the a.m.? So, I have unleashed my creativeness in the kitchen.  This is what has developed out of the madness:

A Quinoa Muesli:
3T toasted sunflower seeds
3T toasted (old fashioned) oatmeal
1T Craisins
1T raisins
2T frozen fruit (we like blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries)
3T plain yogurt
3T quinoa
1t sugar (I would have used honey if I had some)

I toasted the sunflower seeds together with the oatmeal in one pan.  Careful because they toast quickly and can easily burn.  That's all the cooking.    Then just mix everything together in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  And upon waking breakfast is served!

My next creation I made this evening.  It's a mini frittata quiche.  I'll let you know how it tastes in the morning.  Good night.

London or Bust

I'm sure it drives my dreamy husband crazy.  Every couple of weeks I tell him that I want to move.  This week, I've decided that we are going to move to London.  I've gone so far as to email a friend of mine who lives there and asked her to hire Mr. Dreamy.  Pretty please.  I'm not entirely sure that she took me seriously.  Will press the issue if need be!

Pros: My wee one will call me Mummy.  We'd be a train ride away from my favorite city: Paris.  We get the excitement of making London our own.  New food, new culture.  Tea time!

Cons: The grandparents would kill us.  Dead.  And then take our kid.

Ok, so there are considerably more pros than cons for this idea.  However, the cons are significant.  Hmmm... must think further.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Beauty of a Shredder

Every year I make the same New Year's Resolution:  Keep up with all the mail.  I know, it sounds simple but we are well past the middle of 2010 and I've lost the battle again this year.

There's just so much that arrives.  Catalogs from companies at which I've never made a purchase, fliers and envelopes addressed to "The Residents At", coupons, catalogs and more catalogs, and bills.

I feel that our little home is responsible for the destruction of a couple of National Forests.

Every couple of weeks I'll gather it up and go through it.  It gets organized into piles: Make Payment, File, Garbage, and Shred.

I love the shred pile.  Taking that pile to the shredder, feeding it all in, and hearing its total destruction from  an identifiable piece of paper to completely anonymous pulp is quite satisfying.

We've got a heavy duty Aurora shredder that has 10 years on it and it's still going strong.  When its square little body decides it's too tired and it takes its last bite, we'll bury it under the tree in the courtyard and have a moment of silence.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Coat That Got Away

THE COAT and her creator, Christopher Bailey of Burberry
I don't have many shopping regrets.  The one's I do have are big ones.  In order to avoid mishaps, I have a 2-day rule.  If I think about an item for at least 2 days, I will go ahead a buy it.  My advice is sound.  How come I don't follow it?

The second I tried her on, I knew I should take her home.  It was fate.  She needed a home and we had one.  Even my Dear Dreamboat Husband said so.  I have so many, probably too many, winter coats.  I don't NEED to buy a new one.  I hesitated and put her back.  You see, logic had taken over.  

What does logic have to do with beauty anyway?

You see, the weather is cool today and autumn is right around the corner.  Followed soon by winter.  Her memory made an appearance.

I hope she found a good home and is receiving the love and care that is deserved.

My Sunrise

Have you ever watched a baby wake up and greet the morning?  It's magical.  They stir a little and wiggle a bit.  They may make a few little noises, chirps, and gurgles.  And then it happens.  Their eyes pop open and a smile spreads across their little face and if you're lucky, a dimple or two will make an appearance.  

That's when I tell her.

I love you more than sunshine in the morning and twice as much as the moon.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Weekend Treat

a happy Cricket
I really enjoy sleeping-in. I'm especially fond of naps. My relationship with my dreamboat husband was well solidified before I completely comprehended his disdain for sleeping late and napping. How could this be?

It took almost a year of negotiation before we reached a settlement. On weekends, I can sleep in and Mr. Dreamboat can leisurely read his newspapers at a local coffee shop without either of us complaining. When we lived downtown, the puppies and I would, upon waking, take our first walk of the day down to the cafe and collect him. He always greeted us with a smile and a fresh cafe au lait for me. I know, dreamy!

On our walk home, Mr. D would recap all the goings-on and people-watching adventures.

Now that our little family unit is one wee person bigger, we outgrew our little rental downtown and moved on to new adventures out west of the City. The coffee shops aren't in walking distance anymore but the sleep-ins are still taking place. However, the coffee comes to me upon his return. Dunkin'Donuts. Hazelnut. With cream and sugar.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Surprise Visit

Some memories and experiences you try so hard to forget. Others will be your favorite. This is the latter.

My sister had a plan and movie-perfect timing.

Between her teaching, coaching and summer jobs, it's not often that Inga gets to travel back home from the east coast. She is the lone sister in D.C. while the rest of us are in the midwest. So, my heart was a little blue, as we caught up on the phone, when she said she wasn't going to make it back here this summer. I told her that I understood (even though I really didn't). And she still chatted away as I told her that I had to dash to make an appointment that was over an hours drive away. Being on time with my four month old wee one is a trying task! But she was in a talkative mood and our conversation was fun so I indulged myself with her stories. Then, she let me go and I dashed to wrap up and go. Dress - check! Heals - check! Makeup - check! Hair - check! Baby fed, clean, happy - check check!

As I open the door with baby in tow, around the corner walks Inga with a big smile on her face.

As I worried about making my appointment, Inga strategically chatted me up while driving 85 mph through Chicago.

It was a delightful weekend. She didn't tell a soul she was coming. Inga spent five days sleeping on our loveseat (apparently our company was worth her sacrifice). We kept her secret. On day 5 she surprised the rest of the family.

It was one of my most favorite memories. xoxoxo

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

'Slow' by Carl Honore

It's true that some manifestations of the slow philosophy do not fit every budget. But most do. Spending more time with friends and family cost nothing. Nor does cooking, walking, meditating, making love, reading or eating dinner at the table instead of in front of the television. Simply resisting the urge to hurry is free.

'In Praise of Slow' by Carl Honore

Now that is ma vie quotidienne, lente et douce.