South Beach in the Arctic

Ok, I’ve taken some time off. It all started with hosting 3 events on a beautiful July weekend, shattering a crystal bowl while washing dishes, and a nasty finger cut that required 6 stitches and a big white gauze wrap. The good news is that my neighbors swooped in, finished the dishes, and I made it back from Urgent Care to host the baby shower with 30 minutes to spare. The bad news – it’s pretty hard to type with a bandaged finger, so I fell out of my writing routine. I’ve kept cooking, but the writing has been on the back burner. (Terrible pun, I know)

It’s time for that to change.

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Arctic White Bean and Chicken Chili

We’re driving back from Wisconsin after a family day and I started thinking about what to make for dinner. Option 1 – leave the kids with Jeff while I go to the store. Option 2 – create something with that was in the cupboard. Jeff suggested Option 3 – Chipotle. Since rice isn’t in the cards for me and the temperature outside (-12) made salad seem insufficient, I decided to roll the dice and create out of the cupboard. Thanks to Epicurious and a few substitutions, this turned out to be a great winter chili. I think I’ll make it again – this time by choice.

Arctic White Bean and Chicken Chili
When it’s bone-chilling cold outside, you need something warm to stick with you. This chili did it for me and came together in a fairly quick 35 minutes. I received a small jar of fennel pollen a few months ago and haven’t been sure how to use it – so I put it in as I didn’t have aniseed. It was a good decision. The chili is slightly warming but not spicy. Add a can of green chilis (I didn’t have any) if you want to up the heat. Adapted from this Epicurious recipe.

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San Choy Bau

Don’t be intimidated by the longer list of ingredients – you may have a lot of this in your pantry already. This was a last minute make for me, so I had to make some alterations. Not perfect for the flavor profile, but more reflective of what’s actually in my fridge. But if you happen to have bamboo shoots and water chestnuts handy, sub them out for the carrots and celery. This was an awesome and fairly fast lunch for us on a summer day.


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Ready, Steady, Spaghetti

I’m home with the kids this month, so I thought it would be a good idea to continue with kid friendly books. I picked up Ready, Steady, Spaghetti at a Tuesday Morning about 2 years ago when I probably fantasized about how awesome it would be to share the kitchen with my children. Giggling over cookies. Laughing over pasta. 4 years old and devouring a beautiful porterhouse, medium rare, with a side of roasted seasonal vegetables, a crisp green salad, and a glass of “special occasion” wine we keep stashed in the basement cellar. No, the wine is just for me. Delusional, I know. I must have had either too much or too little coffee that morning, because the reality is that I have a son who only likes cold food, a daughter who claimed that Cool Whip was the best thing I’ve ever made, and their fearless leader (me) goes into orbit anytime they touch anything in my new kitchen. Ah, reality. So this pink puppy has been sitting on the shelf for a while without any action. That is about to change.

I let Harper pick the recipes again. Thank goodness we ran out of Post-Its in the first half of the book, because otherwise, we may as well be opening a pasta shop/bakery. But you can read about that in the “ugly” section of the review.

The Recipes
Blueberry Pancakes (substituted blackberries)
Scrambled Eggs
Sticky Chicken Drumsticks
Fresh Spring Rolls
Mango Whiz (no picture, forgot!)
San Choy Bau (pork lettuce wrap)
Pork and Chive Dumplings  Continue reading

The Oprah Magazine Cookbook

For the record, I didn’t buy this cookbook. It was a gift. People know how much I love cookbooks, so it’s generally a guarantee for a successful gift. And while I appreciate the book, I generally don’t buy magazine cookbooks. Some may think it’s more efficient this way – Better Homes and Gardens has this mastered with the impressive 20 book collection of recipes my mom has – but if I want a magazine recipe, I’ll read the magazine. I like the story behind it – tell me about the chef, what is the perfect event for the dish, what beautiful person with amazing photoshopping has prepared/created/eaten this – and the magazine cookbook doesn’t always provide the depth of background I’m interested in. So how did this become the book of the week, you ask? The boys. I sent Jeff in with C to pick out the cookbook, and C picked this one because it was red. We have a color theme happening in our house. Since C picked the book, I thought I’d like H pick the recipes. See if we learned something from last week. We did. She picked all desserts, save one – bolognese sauce with pasta. She will pick pasta with meat sauce…every. single. time. It’s her favorite. So I agreed to make the pasta, vetoed the rest of her choices, and made the selections myself. How did I do this week?

The Recipes
Proscuitto di Parma-Black Pepper Quesadillas with Rosemary Oil
Mint & Pea Hummus with Pita Bread
Sweet Corn Salad with Black Beans, Scallions, & Tomatoes
Ham, Pepper-Cheese, & Apple Tea Sandwiches
Sauteed Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes
Bolognese Sauce with Pasta
Banana-Papaya Salsa (I substituted mango.) Continue reading

Help Me Help You – Kids Clothing Extravaganza

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Children appear to provide scale.

In the almost 6 years that we’ve had H, I haven’t given a single thing away. We weren’t sure if our family was going to have two kids or three, and since I’ve easily passed my “no kids after 40” rule, I decided it was time to clean out the basement. My strategy has been fairly simple – when the kids outgrow stuff, I throw it in a bin, put the lid on, and it goes downstairs. Jeff set up a brilliant rack storage system in our basement, so it was easy. Just put it on the shelf. Two years ago I noticed that the hallway between two racks was shorter than normal – the bins were stacked up at the end of it. Last year I noticed that you couldn’t really see the ceiling anymore – it was all blocked by bins. I have an “out of sight, out of mind” denial technique that is awe-inspiring. But this is the summer of letting go, so it was time to take on the bins.  Continue reading

July Stitch Fix

I’ve been with Stitch Fix for a year now – and I love it. I’ve never been much of a shopper, I hate searching racks, and I constantly fight buyers remorse. I can’t tell you how many times something looked great in the dressing room but once I got home, I wondered if I had been drinking when I bought it. That was BEFORE kids. Children add a completely different dimension to shopping. I adopted a power shopping model – I’d run out over my lunch hour or before I picked them up from daycare, grab stuff off the racks, try on fast, buy even faster – and then pray that I made good choices. The reality was that while I knew I could return things, it meant ANOTHER trip to the store – something I probably wouldn’t follow through with. And truth be told, my style sense has never been that great anyway. So Stitch Fix provided me a great solution. If you’re not familiar, it’s pretty simple – you log into the site, complete the style survey, provide basic sizes, set your price ranges, and schedule the fix. That simple. It’s like Netflix for clothes – only better, because in addition to the algorithm that knows what you like, a human stylist actually picks the 5 items that show up in the box. They send a card with styling options, add a little note about what they picked (that’s my favorite part!) and then you have 3 days to try the clothes on, match it with your closet, and decide what to keep and what to send back. Sending back is a breeze – a pre-addressed/stamped bag is in the box, so just seal and send.

Generally I spend my time reviewing cookbooks, but it’s fun to review my Stitch Fix box – shake my blog up a bit. I’ve had the same stylist for about 8 boxes and I have to say I look forward to it every month! So – what did this month bring me? I had asked for an easy summer bag, distressed boyfriend jeans, and some easy summer tops. What’s the verdict?
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