Tuesday, February 28, 2012

meyer lemon bars

This was originally posted on my other blog in November 2010 and because things have been insanely busy around here lately I'm doing the lazy thing and reposting this here.  At the time I posted this we were still living in Koreatown, I wasn't working yet and so I did a lot of cooking and baking to keep myself occupied.  Leif ate really, really well for about six months.  Now he mostly eats Weight Watchers food (which isn't all that bad).

So with no further rambling on my part...

Everyone knows the old adage, "When life hands you a bowl of lemons, make lemonade."  Well, it just so happened that last week my sister gave me a large bowl of Meyer lemons from her tree* and so I decided to make lemon bars.  And because apparently a little lemon goes a long way, also lemon risotto, preserved lemons, and the proverbial lemonade.

I've never made lemon bars before.  As it turns out they are really easy to make as well as really, really tasty.  I'm talking about the type of tasty that effectively lobotomizes your frontal lobe, leaving you with the inability to understand the future consequences of eating too many of said lemon bars or at least the inability for caring about those consequences.  But, I can claim no responsibility for the way these turned out.  The kudos goes to the -essentially- idiot-proof recipe I followed. 

 I highly suggest that if you happen to find yourself the unexpected recipient of a booty of lemons you should try to make these bars.  You won't be sorry.  Well, after the fifth bar in a row you may be sorry but before that you will temporarily forget your troubles.  That ability, even if only temporary, is a welcome friend. And since I can't do anything -accept for, ahem, certain things- without taking photos, I present to you,  "When life hands you a bowl full of lemons, make lemon bars and then eat them until you aren't sad anymore," in photos.

Making the crust with a lot of butter.  Delicious, delicious, butter.

Raining powdered sugar.

My lemon bars had bald spots.  

Being enjoyed by my husband.  

*There are really only two things you can count on living in southern California.  One is that at nearly any time of the day you will be subjected to an excruciatingly slow drive in freeway traffic.  The other is that someone you know has a citrus fruit tree of some sort whose fruit is going unused and rotting on the tree.  This is the case with my next door neighbor (but not my sister) and her beautiful lemon tree.  I would ask her for lemons but I don't speak a word of Korean (aside from Hello) and she doesn't speak a word of English.  Oh well.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

six months

Last week marked six months since Clio was born and a very unproductive week it turned out to be in our house.  We have all been battling a particularly nasty virus.  Clio seemed to kick it the fastest but Leif and I have been really struggling for over seven days now.  Leif is slowly crawling out of the hole too but I managed to get a bacterial infection and am now taking antibiotics for my sinuses.

Anyway, that explains the lack of posting for the last week.  On to the cuteness...

I can hardly believe how quickly the time has flown by.  This morning I looked at Clio and could swear she actually looked older than the she did the night before.  That probably had something to do with the fact that all of a sudden she decided she no longer wanted to be swaddled and given a paci in order to fall asleep.  Bam.  All grown up.

She's thiiiiisssss close to blowing our minds by crawling.  Ok, not really, that is still a ways away (thank god) but man can she wiggle all around.  And she is fast!  So fast that we can no longer take our eyes off of her for even a second!  

She's also made the decision that sleeping through the entire night is for chumps.  Why sleep for eight hours at a time when mom will bring you back into a warm bed and feed you and snuggle you?  That is way better than dreaming the night away in a crib alone.

Oh and the teeth!  The teeth just keep coming, ready for some chow.  Bananas are good and so are sweet potatoes but avocado is not happening.  

Getting big too.  Now 16 pounds and nearly 26 inches long.   

She's also looking more and more like her dad.  Of course, I seem to be the only one who thinks that.  Maybe it is because I think she has more of Leif's personality than mine.  Which means she is bright and friendly and smily and sweet as pie.  

What a girl!  We just love her to pieces.

Monday, February 13, 2012

sunchoke and leek soup

Leif and I used to be regulars at our local Farmer's Market every Sunday.  
We went every single weekend, including the week before Clio was born and the weekend after we came home with her.  
We were there as soon as they opened, along with all the actual chefs pulling along their carts full of fresh produce, because by nine it was always a madhouse.  
But we quickly realized that having an infant in the house made it near impossible to get out the door before ten so until last week we were on a Farmer's Market hiatus.

I like to cook but I am not one of those people who can throw something together without a recipe.  Unless it is Kraft Mac N' Cheese.  I know that by heart.  (Pasta in boiling water for 7 minutes.  Drain.  1/4 c butter.  1/4 c milk.  Powdered fluorescent cheese stuffs.  Done.  The most delicious processiest processed food you ever did eat.)  
Which means rarely do I ever stray from my list of ingredients when we go shopping for our weekly menu.

But on this trip I happened to notice a big pile of these nubbly little wonders.

They're called sunchokes, or Jerusalem Artichokes.  They taste like artichoke hearts and are the tubers from a type of sunflowers.  I kid you not.  They are so good.

So I grabbed a couple pounds and two leeks that were laying next to them, thinking that I would make a quick soup for the picnic we were going to have later that day.

For the soup:

2 1/2 pounds of sunchoke (you don't need to peel these, just scrub them well)
2 leeks, chopped (just the white parts)
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups fat free chicken broth (or veggie broth for vegetarians)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp fat free sour cream (or marscapone if you aren't afraid of some calories)

Boil chopped sunchokes in water until soft enough to mash.   
While they boil, saute the leeks, onion, and garlic in the olive oil until translucent.  Once the sunchokes are done, drain them, return them to the pot along with the broth and the leeks, onion, and garlic.  Bring to a boil.  Add oregano.  Simmer for five minutes.  
Use an immersion blender (or an alternative) to completely blend the soup.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Lastly, add a tablespoon of sour cream to each bowl before serving (or not, the soup was still tasty without the cream).

Makes 7-8 cups.  Serving size 1 cup.  Weight Watchers points 4 (without the sour cream).

And just because I can't help myself...a photo from our picnic and Clio's first time on a swing.

Friday, February 10, 2012

la la love you

Yesterday Clio had a two hour nap!  Of course, she did this right after I just wrote about her only taking forty minute naps.  
Cheeky monkey.

I had way more free time than I was used to having.  I did the dishes, I made a slow cooker dinner, I washed all Clio's cloth diapers, and I made something for Leif.

Because I love him so much.

He is such an incredible husband and father.

He makes me so happy.

I la la love him.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

nap time craft; painted vases

The older Clio gets the less time she spends napping and the more time she spends exploring the world around her.  There is no better way to spend my time than watching her learn and grow- it is extraordinary.  
But less napping also means less cleaning/laundry/crafting and so I've found that the only time during the week I have to do anything is during her naps.  These days that means I have 40 minutes tops before she wakes up and wants to play.

So I'm starting something new, the Nap Time Craft.  
Little things get accomplished in little amounts of time.

I got these vases years ago from IKEA.  They have since been languishing on our wall unit; bored and boring. 

I decided to give them a make-over.

Enter acrylic paints.

Thirty minutes later...

enter baby, just in time for photos after a quick snack.

Add wax flowers (which have little leaves that smell like lemon verbena, by the way) and voila!

Nap Time Craft complete.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

sweet treat: s'more cupcakes

Did I mention that I've been doing Weight Watchers for the past two and a half weeks?  It works.  Apparently eating ice cream every single night is not a great way to lose baby weight.  Who knew? I'm over halfway to my goal weight since I've started it and my milk supply (because I know all you out there are so interested in my milk supply...ahem) hasn't decreased at all.

These cupcakes are not Weight Watchers approved.  I took their recipe for vanilla cupcakes and then bastardized it to use up leftover marshmallow and graham crackers I had on hand.  Also we had guests over the night I made these and I felt guilty about subjecting people other than Leif to a completely Weight Watchers inspired meal.  

At this point I realized that guests were coming over in less than fifteen minutes and there were still numerous dust and hair bunnies (ewww...gross, I know) scurrying all over the hardwood floors that needed to be rounded up.  So I crushed all the graham crackers and threw them on top of the muffin tin in the hopes that most of it would stick to the marshmallow cream.

Success!  Albeit a very messy success.  I had a bite of Leif's and all in all it was pretty tasty.  
I'd make it again with a few modifications.

For the vanilla cupcake:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup fat-free milk

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla together.  Add eggs and yogurt and mix until well-blended.  Add the dry ingredients and the milk.  Mix until combined.  Spoon batter into lined muffin tin and back at 350 for about 20 minutes.

For the topping:

Melt the chocolate and the marshmallows over a double boiler (I just put a ceramic mixing bowl on top of a pan full of boiling water).  Chocolate goes on top of the cupcake.  Then the marshmallow cream.  Then the crushed graham crackers.

Learn from my mistakes:

The cake turned out a little dry.  Next time I would add some applesauce
to the batter.  
Also, the directions for melting the chocolate said to add some water
to the chocolate once it was all melted and whisk it together.
This was a bad idea.  It immediately solidified the chocolate
making it less of a glaze and more of a stiff frosting.