Archive for March, 2011

Salmon dinner = three bandaged fingers

I intend to make fish more often.  Truth is, we don’t eat seafood at home as much as I’d like.  This dinner was conceived because of all the cabbage and potatoes you see in stores and restaurants around St. Patrick’s Day.  I’m not Irish (or at least not enough to claim that I am), but the Welsh/English in me must have some influence on my desire to prepare Irish-inspired meals.  Paging through my cookbooks, I came across a recipe for salmon with cabbage and bacon.  I added the roasted red potatoes as a side.

All my boys loved the salmon.  Son #3 asked for more at least twice.  The cabbage was another story.  Not even the bacon could save it.  My bacon theory has been proven wrong yet again (see my previous post “Bacon makes everything taste good”).  The potatoes were hit and miss.  One son ate them, the other two weren’t as excited.  In the end, I’m just happy they are all fish lovers.

Salmon, cabbage with bacon, and roasted red potatoes. I've spared you a photo of my injury.

The leftovers of this meal led me to the real story of my bandaged fingers.  I was so excited to use the leftover cabbage and potatoes for a hash served with eggs the next evening as a quick meal because we had a busy night.  I got set to work on the meal.  Son #3 was standing at his normal perch on the stool in the kitchen.  I usually give him a snack or things to wipe up, dump in, etc. while I cook.  At 20 months old, he’s becoming a pretty great helper.  As I scraped the potatoes into the hot pan with my brand-new, super sharp knife, I somehow missed the transfer from one hand to the other and the knife landed straight into the tip of my finger.  I knew right away it wasn’t going to be pretty.  I screamed, grabbed a bunch of paper towels, and immediately called my husband.

Fast forward one hour, I end up in urgent care with the craziest doctor I’ve ever encountered.  He decided to glue my cut instead of stitching it.  In the process, he glued his glove to my hand.  I’m not sure if he’d ever tried to glue a cut and found myself wondering if stitches would have been the smarter decision.  The jury is still out on that one – as I type with my bandaged finger, I don’t know how well it is going to heal.  The two other bandages were caused because I was trying to avoid my injured finder, which made me pretty inept.  I think I can chalk up my injuries to pregnancy clumsiness and trying to do too much at once.  Sadly, it took the third injury to make me slow down.


Leave a comment »

Build your own…

Adding to our build your own dinner theme, I decided on an Asian version.  The recipe came from a cookbook called Time for Dinner, which is a fun cookbook for ways to feed children, use pantry staples, and finding meal ideas with items you already have.  Although I’ve paged through the book several times, this is the first time I’ve made something from it.

The recipe called for ground pork, but I substituted ground turkey.  The dipping sauce (not pictured in the photo) was terrific.  It was perfect as a potsticker sauce.  I had intentions of making homeade potstickers, but a stop to Trader Joe’s changed that plan.  My boys are huge potsticker fans, and it is often our bribe for heading to a sushi restaurant.  Son #1 loves them so much that he requested a Japanese restaurant for his birthday meal when he was 5 years old.  Of the frozen options, I’ve found the Trader Joe’s version to be easy to cook properly and taste the best.  The homemade potstickers will have to wait for another night with more time.

The lettuce we chose wasn’t quite sturdy enough to handle the ingredients, but they were still delicious.  The boys could build their own “taco” with cucumbers, carrots, meat and peanuts.  Son #3 ate the ingredients separately without the lettuce.  The best part of this meal is that I convinced the two older boys to try some Sriracha, which I’m addicted to for some reason right now.  Could be the pregnancy.  When I was pregnant with Son #1, it was buffalo sauce.  They made a big fuss about how spicy it was, and washed it down with some milk.  The potstickers were the favored part of the meal, but I think we’ll give it another go in the future.

Sweet pork (this version is turkey) hand rolls and potstickers.

Recipe from Time for Dinner:

1 1/2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound ground pork (or turkey)

1 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder

2 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons soy sauce

sturdy Bibb or Romaine lettuce leaves

1 carrot, shredded

1 cucumber, peeled and julienned

chopped peanuts

2 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons lime juice


1. In a skillet over medium low-heat, cook 1 clove of the garlic in the oil until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

2. Add the pork, 5-spice powder, brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce. Raise the heat to high and cook until the pork is browned, 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Scoop the pork mixture into the lettuce leaves. Garnish with carrot, cucumber and peanuts. *

4. Combine the sugar and lime juice with the remaining garlic and soy sauce to make the dipping sauce.

*I put the toppings in bowls and everyone made their own.  The adults also used Sriracha.

Comments (2) »

Blue cake, anyone?

For our fourth (and final) pregnancy, we decided that we would find out the gender of the baby before delivery.  We kept the first three boys as a surprise.  Each time, I loved the announcement at birth.  I’ll never forget each time I heard the “It’s a boy!”  They are beautiful memories.  Finding out during the ultrasound seemed like it would be anticlimactic, so we decided to have a cake made for our family, dyed either pink or blue, depending on what the ultrasound photo told the baker.  We decided it would be a great way to include the older boys in the fun.  Son #2 and dad got to cut into the cake for the big reveal.  As predicted, the cake was blue, officially sealing our “all boy” family.

Am I sad that I’ll never raise a girl?  Yes and no.  Yes, I’ll never have some of the girl experiences I sometimes dreamed of, and will probably never convince one of my boys that Parent Trap or Sound of Music are great movies.  But on the other hand, I’ve come to think of myself as a boy mom.  It was hard to picture myself as anything else.  I love referring to my family as “the boys”.  Plus, I reserve the right to set aside all shopping money for myself.

My older boys are thrilled!  They have been requesting a brother from the beginning.  They are the best big brothers and love each other so much.  I can’t wait for them to welcome this brother into the family with as much love as they did with Son #3.  They are learning to care for others and it is a wonderful sight to see them teaching each other new skills.  Son #3 now says “excused” when he is done with his meal, not because we as parents taught him, but because he has learned it from his brothers.  Of course, Son #3 also learns some not so great habits from them as well.  Those, I try my best to prevent, but I’m realizing that “potty humor” is just part of being a boy, whether you are 3 or 43.

Here are my boys last summer in Brooklyn. Now awaiting the arrival of the next addition, due this summer.

For now, we wait to meet this little guy.  18 weeks to go and praying that all goes as smoothly as the first three.  Anyone have a boy name suggestion?

Comments (7) »

My love of falafel

After a night of prenatal yoga, I headed to the local co-op to complete a relaxing way to spend a Friday night.  When you are a parent, it’s funny what you find relaxing.  Target happens to be one of my personal favorite getaways.  I’m sure I’m not the only mom who wanders through every single aisle of Target, not because you need something, but because you are alone.  I savor those moments of browsing without little voices asking if we can go look at toys and can we get that neon-colored yogurt which can not possibly be natural.  What food comes in those colors, anyway?

As I browsed the co-op, with no meal plan in hand, I came across hummus and tabouli, which happened to be right next to the olive bar.  It inspired me to gather ingredients for a Middle Eastern meal.  It brought me to falafel.  I have an insane love of falafel – just ask anyone who has seen me in a buffet line with falafel.  I bought ingredients for tzatziki as well, another one of my favorites.  Although the meal wasn’t as homemade as I usually prepare, I figured the exception would be worth it.  I purchased a falafel mix, olives, prepared tabouli, and some hummus.  The only thing I really made was the tzatziki.

All my boys like pita bread with hummus.  Son #2 eats it often for lunch at school, as his substitute for peanut butter since his school has a nut-free policy.  After three years, he still complains about not being able to eat peanut butter sandwiches.  He often eats them for breakfast instead.  What surprises me is how much the older boys like tabouli.  Halfway through the meal, after showing the boys how to assemble their Middle Eastern version of a taco, Son #1 declares “I LOVE this stuff! It is SO good”.  I couldn’t agree more.  This was definitely a hit for everyone and will be a repeat meal.

Falafel, hummus, olives, tabouli, pita and homeade tzatziki. A practically perfect meal, in my opinion.


Leave a comment »

Bacon makes everything taste good

I love bacon. I tell my husband that bacon makes anything taste good.  For that matter, cheese does too.  He disagrees, however.  Especially the one time a year I serve brussel sprouts.  Each year, our CSA sends us this beautiful bag of brussel sprouts. I look forward to it each fall, and eagerly wait for the email in which David from Hog’s Back Farm tells us the brussel sprouts are coming.  I roast them with bacon, apples and shallots and serve them to my family with excitement.  I still haven’t convinced them that they are as delicious as I promise.  But I refuse to give up.  Someday, I WILL have a brussel sprout lover like me.

Anyway, I use bacon more to flavor other foods and I keep it on hand at all times, because it makes a great basis for a meal that hasn’t been planned.  This week, when I was out of planned meals, I remembered the canned sweet corn that was given to us this fall and decided to make a corn chowder.  I combined a couple of recipes I found from my Epicurious app.  I highly recommend the Epicurious app.  The search capability is the best I’ve found and you can choose several ways to find a recipe, including specific ingredients.  My chowder consisted of two jars of corn, potatoes, onion, a few slices of cut up bacon, celery, chicken broth, milk, thyme, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Yum!

The boys ate it, but Son #1 is the only real soup lover so far.  I think you are either a soup lover or  you are not.  I happen to love soup, and could eat soup several times a week.  Son #2 likes tomato soup and miso soup, but lots of chunks seem to turn him off.  He likes the broth best.  Son #3 is given mostly the chopped ingredients from soups right now.  Once he masters the art of using a spoon, we will give him his own bowl.  It’s a work in progress at this point.


Corn chowder and BLT night.




Comments (2) »

Ahh, the smell of curry

I had my husband choose a meal during the week, and he chose a turkey curry with potatoes.  I wasn’t sure how it would be received, but it was worth a shot.  When the boys came up for dinner, they asked “what is that smell?”  I told them it was a spice called curry and they should try it.

I served the curry with a garden salad and pineapple.  When I introduce something “iffy”, I use salad and fruit as a back-up so I know they get some nutrition in there one way or another.  All three boys love cucumbers and carrots, and the older two boys eat up the sugar snap peas before I even sit down.  Son #1 likes ranch dressing, son #2 likes his salad sans dressing, and I always make a quick vinaigrette for my husband and me. I started making my own dressing about 5 years ago, and can hardly eat bottled dressing anymore.  Making my own means I know exactly what is in there and how fresh it is.  Plus it’s fun to experiment.  Sometimes I throw in honey, sometimes I use red wine vinegar, sometimes lemon.  I almost always use Dijon mustard because I’m a mustard freak. In the summer I eat two brats just for the excuse to eat more of my favorite mustard.

Back to the curry.  The boys weren’t huge fans.  Son #1 said he didn’t feel well (right after he literally inhaled a nice-sized salad), Son #2 complained as usual, but did eat a few bites of the curry.  Son #3 mostly ate rice.  The adults enjoyed the entire meal.  I’ll probably give curry another shot in the future.  I found the biggest downside was the lingering smell for two days.  I didn’t appreciate the reminder of our meal each time I arrived home.  Maybe have to save it for a warmer day when we can open the windows.

Our curry experiment. Tasted better than it looks. My new set of dishes is featured, which could improve the look of any food, in my opinion.

Leave a comment »

And in another continent

We came closer to home, making food from North America for our Sunday lunch.  I whipped up chicken tostadas with black beans, thanks to some planned leftovers and our pantry staples.  I always have tortillas and cheese on hand, and usually a can or two of black beans in the pantry.  The chicken was leftover from our Asian soup.  I poached extra chicken breasts in the broth and set them aside for future use.  Perfect for chicken tostadas.  We were also lucky that I had made some pico de gallo earlier in the week.  It was an easy lunch and really delicious.

The term delicious is relative in a family of five.  As all mothers struggle to make their family happy at mealtimes, I find it difficult for everyone to be happy during the same meal.  For instance, Son #2 does not like noodles.  Seriously, what kid doesn’t like pasta?  He groans every time we have pasta.  He eats it, and once in a while actually enjoys it, but it is a battle each time I mention the word noodle. Son #1 is a very adventurous eater (see previous posts noting his love for tofu and sauerkraut) and it is a joy to feed him for most meals.  Son #3 eats just about anything except for oranges, but being 19-months old, I know he is going to hit a phase soon where he suddenly has food opinions.  As long as I don’t serve shrimp or tunafish from a can, my husband will eat (and enjoy) anything I serve.  As for me, as long as there is variety and it doesn’t come processed, I’m pretty happy.

Tostadas, tacos, quesadillas and the like are perfect for a family because you can omit and add certain ingredients and toppings to their liking.  I think that is why most children love tacos.  They get to build their own meal, choose their ingredients they like, and add as much or little as they want of each ingredient.  Sometimes this means their taco shell is too full or too cheesy, but at least it was their decision.

At any rate, Mexican food hits our table at least once a week in different forms.  Once summer comes, I’ll be making homemade salsa and pico more often as my garden matures.  I can’t wait to get my hands in the dirt.  This winter has been a nasty one and I’m dreaming of spring and summer days.

I'm no food stylist, but here is a photo of our tostadas.

Leave a comment »