Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pork tenderloin en croute + herbed potatoes = yummmm

I got both of these recipes from one of Emeril Legasse's cookbooks. It is all the best recipes from his restaurants in one book. The recipes are anything but quick and simple, but they are great for that special ocassion. I have found that if you do a little prep work ahead of time the actual cooking time isn't that bad.

The first couple of times I made it I found it to be very time consuming, but once I figured out how to time time things (ie: put the potatoes in the oven first then start the pork) it didn't take much more time than anything else I make.

The secret to perfect, herbed potatoes is this .... do NOT stir them while they cook. Cover them with herbs and oil and let them cook for 45 minutes at 400 and walk away. Being in one place on the pan gets them crispy .... turning them makes them soggy.

I was going to make this for a fancy Xmas Eve dinner, but we got home too late. Then I was going to make it as a fancy Xmas day dinner, but we were too exhausted. So this became the Day-after-Xmas-fancy-meal. It is pork tenderloin covered with a Cajun mustard, mushroom saute, and wrapped in puff pastry. The potatoes are SO good in just olive oil and fresh rosemary, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Absolutely cravable.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

15 months: Devon (December) Xmas and food

What a crazy month it has been! 3 weeks ago Devon would walk until he fell then he would crawl the rest of the way. 2 weeks ago he would walk, fall, slowly stand back up and stagger around like Frankenstein with his arms out. 1 week ago he he would slowly walk without falling (for the most part) and now he is just cruising all over the house. It is the cutest thing to see him so mobile and the look of pride on his face as he "runs" from one room to the other. He tucks his little arms up like wings and he just goes!

I have a baby gate for the upstairs, but I need to get 2 more gates since there is a set of stairs going up and a set going down to the laundry room from the main floor. We are working on his stair climbing and descending abilities, but he's not quite there yet so the hideousness that IS a baby gate is needed. His favorite things to say are: cat, Dada, spoon and the most recent (and my favorite) is,"What is that?" It comes out more like,"Wass sat?", but 2 days ago it came out as 3, separate words,"What is that?" It was hysterical. He loves pizza (thanks Dada), salmon, fig newtons and pears. He is figuring out how to use a fork and spoon (a boom, boom, boom as he calls it)and is becoming so independent. It is so cute to watch him play and use his imagination. He is stil taking a 3 (sometimes 4) hour nap and is getting back to a regular sleeping schedule after weeks of staying up late.

My Monkey Bread was quite the labor of love. It took me from 8am to 5pm to let it raise, fold, raise, mix, raise, raise, raise, raise and though it looked beautiful it wasn't the "sweet sticky bun" I thought it would be. Joe's family seemed to like it and even said that they liked it "not so sweet", but I thought it was a huge let-down considering all the time it took. I don't think I would make it again since it took so much work, but at least now I know I can make it if I needed to.

I wanted to post this picture because I have discovered a great gadget. (the clear hourglass on the far left with the handle) I am not one for gadgets in cooking .... it's cheating in my opinion. I have a toaster, a Vita Mix blender, a mixer, an electric can opener and that's it. I don't have a food processor, though I may cave since one-handed-chopping is damn near impossible with a baby on your arm. I do love this little chopper though. I saw that my Mom had one of these and when I saw it at Bed, Bath and Beyond for $7 I scooped it up. It chops nuts either fine or coarse depending on which way you turn the crank. Plus, the bottom part is a measuring cup so you no longer have to chop then measure it out. Very helpful.

We spend Christmas with my family, but Christmas Eve with Joe's family. They always do a full dinner and then we open gifts. It is so much fun for me to see all the kids opening their gifts and watching them react to what I chose for them.

Devon has hit that age where he hands you stuff until he is out of stuff then he takes the stuff away from you only to give it right back. Everything around Joe was handed to him by Devon. Notice in the first picture what is in Devon' hand. Then the 2nd picture Joe has it.

Devon handed Joe pretty much all the stuff that is laying around him and Joe thought it was just hysterical. I am so happy to have caught Joe's boisterously, wonderful laughter on film.

We did Christmas morning at our house in the morning around 8:00am. Devon sort of just had a birthday and he's only 1 so I didn't feel inclined to get him lots of gifts. I did, however, get him some wooden alphabet blocks, some wooden puzzles and a pop up toy. One of those "thingys" with 5 animals in a row then you hit a button and they pop up. He had a great time playing them before passing out for his afternoon nap. I got Joe some accessories for gadgets that he has gotten over the year (ie: Kindle, ipod, etc). He got me an iphone and the "Big Top" cup cake and 3D cookie cutters where you make the pieces and assemble them so the cookies can stand on their own (sort of like paper dolls in a way). The Big Top cup cake is basically a cake mold in the shape of a cupcake that is a little smaller than a basketball.
I made this big fuss about it when I saw it on TV so he got that for me. I would never have thought to get myself an iphone, but I have to say that I love it. It is so great. I love the "apps" that I've gotten so far and it really has allowed me to be more organized which I am all about. I got apps for grocery shopping, Epicurious (gourmet cooking recipe site), to do lists, baby games, and an app that helps me keep track of how much water I drink. That last one may seem funny to you, but I could literally go all day and only drink one cup of tea. Not so great for my kidneys among other things. This helps me make sure I am getting what I need.

Christmas at my Mom's was amazing this year. Maybe I was in a good mood, maybe I had enough sleep, maybe I just enjoyed watching Devon truly enjoy his first real Christmas (he was only 3 months last year), but I had a great time. There were lots of people there and it was loud and chaotic and great.

I call this one "Makin' out with Aunt Jane."

I got this funny little vest at Savers and thought it would be fancy for Christmas. My Dad square dances so all of the kids got him bolo ties to wear when he dances. My little sister got him a "Sherriff" star, but it was little kid size .... hysterical.

My Dad put it on Devon and it totally completed his outfit.
These are the bolo ties I got him.

All in all it was a great day and it was full of all the magic that Christmas can have .... if you're lucky.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Beyond Bread

Let's just go ahead and say it .... I am not a good baker. I can cook perfect pork tenderloin en croute and herbed potatoes as one of my regular, rotating recipes without batting an eye, but baking has always been tough for me. WHY is this? I learned to bake a pie when I was probably 7 years old so why do I still have a hard time with it?

It's probably one of those I-suck-at-this-so-I-will-focus-on-what-I'm-good-at type of things. I don't want to be one of "those Moms" who can't bake anything. The horror! Is it so much to ask for it to taste good AND look good?

My Mom has been baking since I can remember. My whole life she baked. Let me put it this way .... she baked all the desserts for my wedding. She bakes bread for her church every Saturday and has often given me an extra loaf which we literally inhale in about 2 days. I was telling a friend of mine about this and I said,"My Mom bakes bread every week. It must be easy." To which she said,"I know your Mom .... she just makes it LOOK easy." True statement.

I thought that I would just "give up" and get a bread maker to do the whole thing for me. I even priced out the one I wanted. A fancy $150 machine that could make French rolls among other things. The thought of spending that much money on a machine that could "cheat" me into home made bread bugged me. I realized that I could TOTALLY make bread on my own and gave up the machine idea all together. I have a college degree for crying out loud! I can SO do this.

I got out my fancy bread making book .... The Bread Bible. This book is incredible. If you follow every instruction you will make perfect bread probably every time. That's what I hoped anyway. The recipes are precise (IE: 2 cups and 6 and a half tablespoons of flour), a little fancy, a little fussy, and time consuming. Fine by me. As long as I could make what I wanted to make and have it turn out I am just fine with time consuming.

I wanted to start with basic white bread. This recipe describes the bread as,"What Wonder Bread, in it's soul, really always wanted to be." Sounds good to me. I like the idea of bread having a soul. About 7 hours after I made my "starter sponge", lots of mixing, waiting, rising, mixing, and more rising I ended up with these ....

They turned out pretty good if I do say so myself. They have this gloriously delicate "crunch" around the whole thing that gives it great texture and seems to hold in the moisture. This is the kind of bread that you can eat totally plain. Just good, home made, good to eat, good to look at bread.

I am writing this post now because I am waiting for my starter sponge to ferment for an hour at room temperature so I can refrigerate it over night for "full flavor potential." Tomorrows project .... Monkey Bread.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

14 months: Devon (November)

WHY oh WHY do people still insist on giving me their children's' age in months after they turn 1? Sorry lady, but just say your kid is one-and-a-half .... none if this 17months stuff. Just round up to 1 and a half, it's fine. Or just say he's 1. I actually had a mom count on her fingers when I asked how old little Parker was. Turns out he was 19 AND A HALF months (like I care about the half). Why do people do this? I get it that there are milestones involved here, but no one outside your family circle and already existing close friends really care if your kid is 12 or 13 months. BUT ... since this is the way that people do things I am going to list him in months until he's 2, but THAT'S IT!! ;)

Anyway, Devon is one now and I didn't think it was possible, but he is getting cuter by the second. He gets up around 7:30 am, but is content to stay in his crib for 30 extra minutes looking at books. Joe went to get him out of bed the other day and he was flipping through "One baby laughs" like it was the Wall Street Journal. He is over teething for the moment and happily goes with me to the gym 3 times a week. The girls at the daycare just love doting on him.

We just finished the "semester" of Movers & Shakers. It was twice a week and story time is still once a week. It sounds like we do a lot of stuff (and I guess we do), but it is nice to have a schedule of things to do that get us out of the house for a little bit every day. On Fridays I either set up a playdate with Jane or another friend, go to the park or we just hang out at home. I have been trying to do the grocery shopping on the weekends so Joe can watch him and I am not dragging him on boring errands. And let's face it .... it's faster if I go by myself.

At the end of the Movers and Shakers class we put all the babies on this parachute, hold the edge and walk in a circle while we sing,"Ring around the rosie." This was the last class (of 12 weeks twice a week) and it was the ONLY time he got through this ordeal without crying. My sensitive little man.

Devon loves to click his tongue, play with bubbles, look at books, feed the ducks, make music and do anything with his Daddy. His newest "party trick" is he will "show you his muscles" which means he makes tight fists, clenches his teeth and literally shakes with muscular flexing furry sometimes even emitting a "grrrr" sound. It's hysterical.

I don't "let him" watch TV, but I have turned on "Tom and Jerry" and he was mesmerized for all of 5 minutes. He will play peek-a-boo for hours on end and is warming up to the idea of walking, but still gets around faster when he crawls which is just fine by me. He has started doing the sign for "finished" when he is done eating and with his bath. He also blows on his food .... weather it is hot or cold and it is the cutest freaking thing you've ever seen. He loves to eat strawberries, cantaloupe, peas, beef, green beans, laughing cow cheese, eggs and pasta.

I sing to him a lot and all that singing has paid off because he will open and close his little hands when we do "twinkle, twinkle" and point to the sky on the "up above the world so high" part. This literally makes me squeal with delight which makes him giggle and the song falls apart, but we always start again. It is also a super bonus when we will be driving in the car and he will be crying or carrying on and I will sing to him and he becomes instantly quiet in order to listen.

He says Mama, Dada, kitty, cat, yeah, bubble, Bob, cute and cool quite clearly, but not on demand. He is getting better at playing by himself for about 10 minutes at a time which really helps when I am trying to get dinner ready or just need 10 minutes to sit and veg. He is such a great guy and everyday I think,"He is so much fun it can't get better than it is right now." and then another day passes, he does something new and the fun continues to grow.

The Ends.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Zombie Prom 2009: a night to dismember "The Recap"

When everything is said and done a party is just a party .... even if it has a theme. When the initial shock of seeing everyone in their cool, lame, freaky and non-zombie-zombie-costumes it is just a fun party full of friends. OK I totally take that back it was ALL about the costumes, but we did have a great time.

I decided that I wanted to go with "big hair" and really tease it up so I put in pin curls early in the day and let them set. (Pin curls just means that you curl your hair with a curling iron, before it cools down you wind the curl into a flat coin shape and bobby pin it flat to your head. The heat from the iron makes your hair extra curly and usually lasts longer than curling alone). Joe picked up make-up from a costume shop and we put on our make up at the same time .... I never thought I'd say that, but there it is. I thought that my make up would look better than Joe's since I put it on everyday, but all those years as a "drama freak" finally paid off because his looked WAY better than mine. You can't see it in any of the pictures, but Joe has blood coming out of his eye, but on the other side it's dripping from his ear. Freaky.

I thought that it would be HIGH-larious to really do it up for prom so I got a corsage and boutonniere. I even dribbled blood on them and they looked great. It is tradition for us to photograph the pinning-on-and-putting-on of prom flowers and this was not to be photographically missed. Our babysitter took these pictures for us and I think they are hysterical.

Then - 1996


Then - 1996

I included our prom pictures from 1996 just for fun so you could see our first prom and sadly .... our last. Or should I say our most recent.

I really thought that I was going to show up to this party and completely misinterpret the whole dressing up like zombies thing and we would be the only ones. I even called Jaime earlier in the day just to make sure. I would have to say we were on the tame side of things and definatley not the most zombied-up. Some people didn't really dress up at all and others used real blood ... no joke. This one guy is a paramedic and somehow got a cut today at work so he wiped the blood on his clothes. Gross. Here are all the "mamas on the loose". I don't know WHY Heather was dressed as a zombie cowboy clown, but it was hilarious. Her husband was dressed as a clown as well.

They had a whole set up with balloons, hanging stars and a black back drop to take official prom pictures complete with a professional photographer. It was adorable. They crowned "best dressed", "prom king and queen" complete with crowns and trophies. She covered the walls with spiderwebs, balloons, black candels and "organs" (read that as cabbage in colored water) in jars on the stove.

It was a great event to get together with friends and celebrate Halloween in a fun and pretty tame way. Going to bed couldn't have come soon enough though.... being the undead is exhausting.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Zombie Prom 2009: A night to dismember

Let me just start out by saying that Joe and I are not a "fun" couple. Don't get me wrong we HAVE fun and we ARE fun (downright HIGH-larious), but we are definitely not the game-night-double-date-square-dancing-make-your-own-smores-adult-costume-party kind of fun couple. We don't want to be either. In fact we mock those types of couples relentlessly. Sorry Mom (and Jane .... don't deny it) we will never go square dancing ;)In the 8 years we have been married we have literally been on 3 double dates and 2 out of the 3 sucked. On one of those double dates the couple told us the whole drawn out story of how they almost got divorced and what a nut job his wife is .... with the wife sitting next to him. Disaster.

So when my sweet friend, Jaime, invited Joe and I to the "Zombie Prom" I didn't even have to ask Joe if he wanted to go I just knew that we wouldn't go. Kids are the best and easiest way of getting you out of things you don't want to do. When all else fails,"Sorry, we couldn't get a babysitter. I really wanted to go to fondue night and play Pictionary." To those of you who think that sounds like a fun night ... shame on you ;) In fact, when I asked Joe if he wanted to go to "a night to dismember filled with shocktails and horror d'oeuvres" he simply said,"We are not that fun." To which I totally agreed and left it at that.

I started thinking about it and I thought that it was kind of sad to not go to a party just because we had to dress up. To be fair we did have to dress up like Zombies in prom dresses, but I digress. Jaime is part of the "Mamas on the loose" group that I meet with every week so she is a good friend of mine. It would probably hurt her feelings if I COULD go to the party, but didn't. Joe and I went out to dinner with the whole group (our first group date) with all the mamas and their husbands' for Jeni's birthday last weekend and had a great time. I decided that I would go to the party and Joe could stay home and watch Devon. I have this FABULOUS dress that I am totally in love with that I have only worn once about 3 years ago. It is pre-baby and I have to be pretty damn tiny to wear it. It's a classic silhouette, but I just happen to love the style so I thought this would be a great excuse to slim down enough to wear it again. The black flower on the left shoulder is actually a belt.

I bought these latex "wound" kits. They look pretty freaky, but I figured if we are going to go to this thing then we should do it up right!

I did officially ask Joe to "go to prom with me", but was promptly shot down. However, a few days later Joe says,"So what do I have to wear to this thing?" and I had my date. I still can't believe that we are going to this party, but it's Halloween so what the hell, right?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Devon's first birthday re-cap

How old are you? One!

Devon's birthday was great! We woke up around 7:30 and we had waffles and bananas. We all hung out, I let him play in flour in his high chair while I baked his cake and played toys until he took a nap. When he woke up I put him into his "My first birthday" onesie and we were off.

Joe and I aren't first birthday party type parents. He has enough toys and he won't remember who gave him what anyway. BUT we figured that we had enough family in town and it was a nice excuse to all get together.

I cleaned the house the day before which saved me from headaches because I ALWAYS leave that til the last second and then I get really stressed. All I had to do today to get ready was get a few things at the grocery store and stop by the party supply store. It's his little birthday ... I didn't want him to spend it running errands.

After nap and lunch we went to story time at the library. It looks like "pill poppin'" time at the library based on the picture, but it is a shaker full of rice. My friend Emily and her son Roman weren't there and it was a pretty pathetic turnout to boot so it wasn't as fun as it usually is when there are more people. None of the mom's were very chatty so we were out of there as soon as it was over. A quick trip to the store and then home.

Grandma and Grandpa Turner

This is Crystal's husband Jordan. Devon LOVES him. He just snuggles up to him and stares.

Crystal and 2 out of 3 of her girls.

I got "baby's first birthday" decorations: balloons, plate for the cake, candles, party hats and streamers. Everyone started showing up around 5 and we had a taco bar, carne asada, burritos, pork-something-or-other, salsa, ceviche .... it was great. My parents and Jane's girls (she is out of town so my parents are watching them) Joe's parents, his sister, Crystal and her family, his other sister, Michelle and her family and the company secretary, Erika, and her daughter. All in all there were about 20 people there. It is a lot of work to get enough food and your home ready for that many people, but it was nice to have them all there. I didn't get to eat until after the party unfortunately. With everything that was going on it was impossible to stop, sit down and eat so I just waited until afterwards.

I had Devon in his high chair for dinner and by the time he was done eating everyone had arrived. I gave him his cake with a candle, we sang to him and then we dug into the food. I made his cake from the "Deceptively Delicious" cookbook. It was a carrot cake mixed with cauliflower and cream cheese frosting. I am not sure I loved it, but it wasn't bad and I think it was a good compromise for a little baby. He LOVED it. I have to admit I got teary eyed when we sang Happy Birthday to him. It was a MOMENT. It sounds cheesy, but as much fun as it is to watch him grow up it is sad to watch him grow up. Right now he just literally follows me around the house. He's my little shadow. He wants to be around Joe and I, he gives us hugs and we play. I'm sure that some day he will decide that he doesn't want me in his room, he swears that he must be adopted, he's too cool to hug his mom in front of his friends, that I suddenly embarrass him and $20 bills will start disappearing from my purse. Life is long, but time is short .... very short. I wasn't really thinking all of this in that moment, but I was just over taken by how quickly time goes by.

I really wish that I had told everyone to not bring gifts. He's a baby .... he doesn't need tons of toys. Plus, he won't remember anyway, but people did bring gifts and they were all so generous. They were really thoughtful and he loved them all. Of course I ended up opening them for him, but you could definitely tell the ones he liked. Joe and I got him an absolute pile of puppets (were talking 12 of these things), a T-shirt, a music kit and a sock monkey. Joe also picked out a toy cell phone and a set of real kitchen wooden spoons ... cute Daddy.

I don't think this picture converys the cuteness of these puppets. They are so bright and colorful, super soft and he just loves them. I always bring one in the car with us and sometimes he even takes naps with them. There are 3 sets of 4 groups. There are dinosaurs, bugs, jungle animals and lizards.

I can tell you that Devon had a great time at his party. There were so many people there I thought he would have freaked out, but I think he liked interacting with everyone and he does have a few, clear favorites ;)He was having the time of his little life. It was really a special day for the 3 of us to be able to share it with our family. It really meant a lot to me to have all of them over and celebrate Devon being a part of our family.