Thursday, January 28, 2010

CEIMB Wrap-up!

This week's Craving Ellie in my Belly recipe was the Emerald Stir-Fry with Beef, hosted by Alyssa's Two Bites. Check her super-cute blog for her version of the recipe.

I liked this recipe a lot, the sauce was easy and tasy. We used a meat alternative replacement for the beef, which was good, and I bet it would be good with tofu too. I did not take a picture because I totally overcooked the veggies, and it all took on the grayish green color instead of looking vibrant and bright green. It tasted good, but wasn't pretty. So, no photo. But thanks Alyssa, for picking a great recipe!

A few weeks ago we were having friends over for dinner on a Sunday, so I used it as an opportunity to whip out a bunch of upcoming CEIMB recipes, but then we went on vacation and I never got a chance to blog about them.

I made the Five Layer Mexican Dip and LOVED it! So delicious. This ended up being leftovers lunch for me for a couple days. I'd just scoop a bunch, slop it into a bowl and take it to work to eat with chips for lunch. Yum.

The Arugula, Carmelized Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza was fantastic too. I sliced it up and set it out as appetizers along with the layered dip, and oh my goodness, it was so good. I wish I'd used more goat cheese, I was just eyeballing it and I think I used less than the recipe called for, and it could have used a bit more. I also used whole wheat pits insteaf of tortillas, so the crust was a bit more substantial. Will have to try this one again, as it was so absurdly simple to throw together, and it was so delicious.

And for months I'd been wanting to make Macaroni and Four Cheeses. I love that it replaces a ton of the cheese with pureed squash and had high hopes for it. But honestly, I just did not love it. I think I would try it again using more cheese and less squash, because I do like the idea of sneaking some veggies in there, but I want my mac and cheese to be really cheesy. Or maybe I'll just use a more traditional recipe and add some squash to it. Suggestions??

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Disney stole my heart

I had the best vacation last week. The girls and I tagged along on Josh's annual trip to Orlando for work and got to take a little Disney vaca. I freaking love that place! They make it so easy to manage it all with wee ones in tow... Granted, it is NOT cheap -- we managed it because Josh was working, so his airfare and the hotel and some meals were all expensed, and he had even been comped some park tickets somehow, so that was a major score. So Disney rocked, and I'm dying to go back, but that wasn't what made my week the best in years.

Vacations since Delma was born 3.5 years ago have not been fun. They've pretty much all been major busts in one way or another, and though our family vacation last summer really was great, it was our first time away with Mimi added to the mix and it was tough for us. Mostly the problem has been our unrealistic expectations -- the fact of the matter is, vacationing with young children is not relaxing, and gone (for now) are the days of sipping fuity umbrella drinks and reading books by the pool. But it can still be great, it's just taken Josh and me a long time to adjust to our new reality and find a way to stop just seeing all the things we can't do right now, and embrace the things we can.

This trip was like a honeymoon with my girls. They're little, and they had their moments, but overall both of them did great with the flying, and all the schlepping, and the long days, and the sleeping in new strange places. They traveled like champs. And for me, this was my first time with the two of them when I had NOTHING else to think about. It was the three of us alone just about every day while Josh was working and I had absolutely nothing on my mind but being with them. No lingering thoughts of work, no nagging thoughts of laundry or dishes, nothing at all. It was fantastic, and we all really needed it. It gave me the opportunity to just be their mom and nothing else, and they loved it as much as I did.

Mimi is a challenging kid, and this was the first extended period of time when I didn't feel like I was just managing or handling her, but truly enjoying her. And I swear she started talking more just in the past week of us being together. She is a mommy's girl and she finally got the undivided time with me that she's been craving.

And even better yet, all that joy has stayed with us since we've come home. Our harried mornings and evenings are a little lighter, at least for me, and I feel like I've found a way to be more present when I'm with them. Life with kids has not been easy for me, it's been a long and rough transition. But I'm getting there. Disney really is magic. :)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

CEIMB: Sweet & Spicy Peanut Soup

I'm embarrassed by how long it's been since I've done a Craving Ellie in my Belly recipe cook-along post. I've made some of the recipes in my absence, but have neglected to muster up the energy to blog about them. But this week is hosted by my girl Mary of Popsicles and Sandy Feet, so I had to join in the fun.

Mary picked Sweet & Spicy Peanut Soup, which you can read more about on her blog. It was very easy to make. Only hitch is that there's lots of chopping, as this soup calls for lots of veggies (carrot, onion, sweet potato, red bell) that you cook up with stock and spices and and canned diced tomatos, all of which you then puree, then stir in some peanut butter and honey, and Voila! The actual cook time is quick, so I fell into my usual trap of thinking I'd whip this up for a quick dinner, and then realized I had gobs of chopping to do which slowed me down. I really need to learn to prep in advance for weeknight dinners. But the soup was tasty, and a nice change from the usual creamy pureed veggie soups.

This recipe called for scallion as garnish. I am not much of a garnish kind of gal, I generally can't be bothered and just pass on it. But this time, the first night we had it for dinner, I tossed in the scallion and was so glad I did. It really added some nice bite. We did skip it for the subsequent leftovers lunches and dinners, though. I probably should have chopped up some extra to toss into the leftovers too. Oh well, next time.

Also, there's cayenne pepper in it which made our noses run a lot. So, there's that.

It's nice to be back in the CEIMB groove. I missed you guys.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Back in the saddle? Maybe?

Goodness, it's been a long time. I haven't been blogging, I haven't even been reading blogs. It's been three months since my last legit post. ?! I haven't done any sewing either. Oy vay.

I guess I just needed to go underground for a while to regroup, but truthfully I don't feel even remotely regrouped. Just underground. Most days I feel very cloudy and flustered. And it is finally really truly winter here in CT, which makes schlepping the girls around a total pain, forcing us to spend lots of time in the house driving each other crazy. But I need to start forcing myself into little bits of happy-time every day, no matter how brief. Writing, sewing projects, bread baking (just got this cool cookbook!), whatever, anything.

Stay tuned...