Category Archives: Motherhood

My Thoughts on Being a Mom

I have Dinner Amnesia+ Some Ideas

Every busy parent has suffered from a case of dinner amnesia. You stand in front of the fridge, exhausted, with a handful of whatever you find to snack on and you can’t for the life of you think of what you want to make for the kids.

The background music is familiar, it doesn’t matter if you have one, two or three kids. You hear the yelling ” Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama”. “I am hungry.” In a perfect world, you already have everything ready to go. Come on, everyone knows you need to plan a week ahead. NOT. Truth be told, I love meal planning and truly believe in it (a post coming soon) but there are days when I really do not have the time or just forget.

I know how to cook a lot of things but when I think of what to make, nothing comes to mind. It is really frustrating. I forget how easy it is to throw some pasta together. I made a short list of quick dinners you can make on those nights when fresh ideas are a thing of a past. Some of these require a little prep (insert into slow cooker here).

1. Quesadillas. Throw some salsa in the slow cooker or the Ninja with some chicken or pour barbecue sauce on some chicken and slow cook it for a few hours. Make the Quesadillas: shred the chicken, add avocado and some cheese into some tortillas, grill them in a pan and your kids will love it.

2. Oatmeal. A huge favorite in our house. We add date syrup and tahini for iron and calcium. My babies love it. Get creative with your favorite add ins such as honey, coconut, berries or dried fruit. In the mornings, we put it in a cup and take it in the stroller for the walk to daycare.
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3. Slow Cooker Lasagna. This is delicious and I am not kidding. Just layer the lasagna in the slow cooker as you would in the oven and cook for a few hours.
photo (4)

4. Hummus with chopped vegetables and a nice warm tomato basil soup.

5. The easiest meatballs ever. Sweet and Sour Meatballs. Make these and freeze them for a rainy day.

6. Tortilla Pizzas. Put all the toppings out on the table and have your kids layer the toppings. Use cheese, corn, tomatoes, mushrooms or anything else you like on your pizza. I actually love canned tuna on pizza (don’t judge). Spread some tomato sauce on the tortilla with the toppings and bake or microwave if you are really in a rush.

7. Fruit Shakes with a twist. I like to freeze bananas and add them to some fruit in the blender. I sneak in a little spinach or kale and my kids drink it by the glass. Serve that with a tortilla rolled up with cream cheese and vegetables or the famous peanut butter and banana that my son will take any day.

What are your favorite dinner ideas?

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Filed under Motherhood, Quick Dinners

All Recipes Cookbooks

One of my favorite recipe websites is AllRecipes.com I like that the recipes are simple and have reviews, and of course, it’s great to have the application on my phone. Did you know that they are based in Seattle?

All Recipes is where I get a lot of really quick dinner ideas. I choose a recipe then send my little chef to the printer (downstairs) to bring it up and we make dinner together..
If you have a baby or a toddler, start saving your money for the Learning Tower, this piece of equipment has been one of the best investments in the kitchen.

AllRecipes.com came out with downloadable cookbooks so I thought that I would share. There are useful hints, nutrition information and serving suggestions as well as lots of photographs. Here is the link for the whole selection.

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10 Tips for Moms Using Twitter for Business

There comes a time in every mom’s life when she feels like she is not keeping up. It’s easy for twitter to lead you to think that there is a big party going on and you are not invited. Instead, embrace it, leave the doors open for opportunities and set boundaries.

Caution: I have been guilty of breaking many of these rules. But I think that I have finally figured out the whole “balance” thing or at least found a happy place. This list is for entreprenerial moms or anyone who just wants a little balance in their life.

1. Don’t miss out on using Twitter. I hear this all the time. I don’t have time. I am too busy. Face it, we all are. Do what you can. Check in once a day if that is all you can do and don’t compare yourself to others who can be on twitter more times a day. Are you really prepared to miss out on a way to connect with people in the comfort of your own home? It’s free advertising.

2. Use lists to follow more people. Find other moms with the same interests, now follow their lists. Complicated? no, Time consuming? yes. If you meet three people that you really enjoy the relationship with, then it was all worth it.

3. Keep the baby poop to a minimum. Yes, we get it. We love everything about our babies. The poop, the ear wax and those creepy faces they make at you when they are learning to smile. But let’s be realistic, we don’t love those things about other people’s kids and for the same reason people who don’t have kids and those with older kids don’t need to hear it. It’s okay to share the occasional cuteness story or the ocassional poo-pee story but let’s make sure people don’t think that is all that moms are about. Don’t ruin it for the rest of us.

4. Engage. Do you know the best places to take your toddler and let them run wild? Have you mastered the art of cooking with two screaming kids and “Yo Gabba Gabba” in the background? Be on the look out for people asking questions and engage. Tell your story. Remember, you have been there and done that so now share.

5. Be professional. If you are all about making friends on twitter and you don’t care about work, then forget these tips and do whatever you want. But if there is a business behind it, remember that you are representing your business. Don’t tweet about your messy house or the mold in your fridge. You are closing doors to potential jobs and opportunities. Would you hire someone that can’t get their life together? Me neither.

6. Keep it positive. I am not asking you to fake it and run around with a smiley face humming to the “Sound of Music” or to pretend that you live in a perfect world. Admit it, bad moods are addictive on twitter. If you complain and rant every time something goes wrong, you are spreading negativity. Yes, it’s okay once in a while to look for support but when twitter becomes your punching bag, it’s time to log out.

7. Don’t try to keep up! All moms are guilty at one point of trying to keep up with everyone else. Yes, you would love to go to five events that week. I am sure dinner out every night sounds tempting and falling asleep with a book in hand after a glass of wine sounds super sexy but reality is, you are probably re-tucking your child in for the fifth time or reciting ” Good Night Moon” in your sleep. Your situation is different. Remember that. Learn to love what you have and appreciate it. You would be devastated if that was gone.

8. Let your true colors shine through. Face it, this world is interesting because we are different. By asking you to be positive, or to refrain from tweeting about feces, I am not asking you to be someone else. Let the positive parts of you, shine through. What do people like about you? When do people come to your for advice? This is what you want to share.

9. Be useful. You can’t be useful a 100 percent of the time. But you can try to be at least 70 percent of the time. Share useful information. Tweet about things that are interesting. Retweet events and articles that are helpful and people will come back to you.

10. UNPLUG. Yes, you need boundaries here. We all need them. Teach your family that they are important to you. Set your own rules. No tweeting at the park, no tweeting after 7pm or even when the kids are up. Be present in the moment and you will enjoy twitter more. And when you need a couple days off. Take them.
Don’t want to tweet on the weekend? Then don’t. You are not missing anything. Life goes on and twitter will be there tomorrow.

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Gourmet Game Night and a Giveaway

Some days it’s all about the finger food.  Cynthia Nims’ new book, Gourmet Game Night is all about bite-sized, mess free eating for board-game parties and other social situations, where you need easy to please food with lots of flavor and not too many utensils.  She has tips on shortcuts, menu planning and menus suited for different crowds such as game night for two, game night for a crowd and game night for up to 8.  When I received a copy to review of Cynthia’s new book, I breathed a sigh of relief. Why?

Since my venture into motherhood, my cooking time is limited to when baby E naps, I carefully put him down to sleep and scurry  into the kitchen. I hesitate to try new cookbooks for the fear that my 1 hour of cooking will result in a flap and I will have to let baby E tear up the kitchen so I can make something else.

With Cynthia’s book, I had no doubt in my mind that whatever I made would be a success. The reason is simple. Cynthia is the mastermind behind some of the most amazing cookbooks in town. She has authored or co-authored twelve cookbooks including Memorable Recipes, Rover’s and the Northwest Homegrown Cookbook Series.

I decided to try some recipes for a Sunday night. I would make a few things and when the babe goes to bed, husband and I will sneak into the living room, for some snacks and some cuddling.   Essentially, I almost always make recipes that require only foods that I have on hand.  I made the oven-baked potato chips with onion dip. Not the powdered onion dip that our moms used to make, this dip had so much flavor that my husband asked if there were mushrooms in it. Nope, onions and garlic though. I washed some iceberg lettuce so I could keep dipping into the onion without eating too many potatoes. (Note: I used low -fat mayo and low- fat sour cream and it was perfect.)

I also made the polenta squares with spicy sausage.  The polenta squares are topped with baby spinach, spicy sausage and a ricotta cheese. The filling squeezes into a little indentation in the square which makes for a neat and classy  appetizer.

The flavors popped and husband and I had a great time, racing for the last bite. I strongly recommend this book for anyone looking for appetizers for a party or just some interesting bites for a game night. I wish I could say that we played a board game with the snacks but the truth is we fell right asleep on the couch.

To order the book, click here

For Cynthia’s website, click here

Wait! Before I give you the recipe, how about a giveaway?

I am giving away a copy of Gourmet Game Night.  The winner will be chosen at random on Monday the 15th. Leave a comment with your favorite board game below and your name will be entered into the drawing.


Polenta Squares with Spicy Sausage and Spinach

This filling is on the hot side, so start with just 1/4 teaspoon of the hot red pepper flakes if you prefer less heat. Just be sure that your filling is cohesive enough to hold its shape in the shallow indentation of the polenta.

Polenta

3 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup coarse polenta

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 teaspoon minced fresh oregano, or 1/2 teaspoon dried

Filling

1/4 pound bulk pork sausage meat (unseasoned or just lightly seasoned)

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

3 cups packed fresh spinach leaves (about 4 ounces), coarsely chopped

3/4 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese

Salt

To make the polenta, bring the water and salt to a boil in a saucepan. Gradually whisk in the polenta and when all has been added, reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue cooking until the polenta is thickened and tender to the bite, about 20 minutes, whisking occasionally at the beginning, more regularly toward the end. Take the pan from the heat and whisk in the Parmesan cheese and oregano. Transfer the polenta to a lightly oiled 9-inch square pan and smooth the top. Let sit for about 15 minutes.

When the polenta is partially set but still warm, use the tip of a knife to score the polenta into 12 portions: 3 strips in one direction, 4 strips in the other. Find a spice or condiment jar on your shelves, or a shot glass, that has about a 1 1/4-inch base. Clean and lightly oil the bottom of the jar and use it to press an indentation about 1/2 inch deep in the center of each polenta portion. Cover and refrigerate the polenta until fully chilled.

To make the filling, cook the sausage in a skillet over medium heat until no longer pink in the center, 5 to 7 minutes, breaking up the sausage into small pieces as it cooks. Drain off any excess fat, then add the fennel seeds and red pepper flakes, cooking until the spices are aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 1 minute. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Drain away any liquid that may have accumulated, then stir in the ricotta. Season to taste with salt.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly oiled foil.

Cut the polenta where it was scored and transfer the pieces to the baking sheet. Spoon the sausage-spinach filling into the indentation on each piece of polenta, mounding it slightly. Bake until heated through, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a platter and serve; set on a warming tray to keep warm, if you wish.

Makes 12 squares

(up) Double all the ingredients, forming the polenta squares in 2 pans.

(down) Best not to halve.

(advance preparation) Make the polenta squares and filling up to 1 day ahead. Store the polenta, well-wrapped, and the filling, covered, in the refrigerator. Fill and arrange on a baking sheet up to 2 hours ahead and refrigerate; bake shortly before serving, adding about 5 minutes to the baking time if direct from the refrigerator.

*In the recipes in this book, there are up and down arrows which give you an idea of how the recipe can be adapted for different gatherings. Up meaning for more servings and down meaning for less servings.

“Reprinted with permission from Gourmet Game Night: Bite-Sized, Mess-Free Eating for Board-Game Parties, Bridge Clubs, Poker Nights, Book Groups, and More by Cynthia Nims, copyright © 2009. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.”

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Filed under Cookbooks and Books, Motherhood, Recipes, Seattle Tips

Multitasking, Blogs, Twitter and Mom Life

 
When people ask me what I do, I never know what to say. I think that I need to hold a card that lists all the things I do.
_ Founder and organizer of the Foodportunity events (next one coming soon)
- Founder and organizer of the Seattle Food Blogger events
- Co-founder of The Mommy List with Kim Ricketts
- Write a blog in the Seattle PI
- Write a weekly dining To Do list for MyNorthwest.com
- Currently working on the Canvolution, (save the dates, August 29-30, a weekend of canning events that will knock the lid off you)
Public relations and consulting for restaurants
- Avid Breast feeder and mom of a 9 month old baby boy
I have decided to put this down for all of you. Oh and there are a couple more projects that I can’t really talk about yet.
The breastfeeding part sounds trivial but it is the most important job I have. It exhausts me and comforts me at the same time. Being a mom is the most important priority and sometimes I have to remind myself of this. I would quit every other job for my baby in a second. Watching my baby grow, wiggle his fingers to say bye bye and giggle when I kiss his thighs is my reminder that life is short (hey didn’t I just give birth a few months ago).
The food world tears me into many directions, keeping up with twitter is another job I should add to the list. Should I be at every event? Should I be cupcake walking through the streets, should I be at every food related party in the world and making sure to taste every morsel of fruit that comes anywhere near the farmers markets? No! No! No!
I just feel like sometimes I need to take a step back and ask myself : Do I really want to talk about food right now? Yes, I am a food blogger, but I am also a mom, a wife, a yogi ( even if it’s been a while) a friend and many other things.
Don’t get me wrong , I have a love-hate relationship with twitter. Sometimes, I really am sick of reading tweets from people boasting about who they know, sometimes the food obsession is a little too overwhelming and sometimes I realize people are losing life’s most precious moments (I am talking about you who tweets between every bite of a food). I am probably guilty of doing one of the above although I really try not to.
Sometimes twitter sweeps me off my feet, especially when I bought bottled salad dressing for the first time in 3 years, it was a liberating experience. We try to make most things from scratch at home but I decided that as a mom sometimes you have to let go.
I tweeted about it (felt guilty but still liberating) and tweeted ” any chef want to make me salad dressing?” I got one response from Chef Becky of Chef Reinvented and a few days later, picked up a jar of pomegranate molasses vinaigrette that has brought me back to heavenly lettuce land. Now isn’t this what twitter is about? Making friends, strengthening bonds and connecting the food community. Did I mention that twitter has been used to schedule play dates between friends such as Alice from Sweet Savory Life and Nurit of Family Friendly Food?
Want to know who to follow on twitter? Check out this article. I can’t believe that I am on this list.
Anyway, I don’t know what this post is really about but I really wanted to say to some of the people who I want to hang out with but can’t, it’s just timing.
I also wanted to say to all those moms out there, let go! You can’t do everything!
I also wanted to write a post about me, I spend so much time writing about other people’s events that I never get the time to sit down and use the blog as my own form of therapy.
End of post, whew I feel better!

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Filed under Frantic foodie events, Motherhood, Seattle Food Bloggers

Hungry Monkey


Not too long ago, I attended a food event by Kim Ricketts. What We Talk About When We Talk About Food: An Evening with Seattle Writers”.

Matthew Amster-Burton,read a passage from his book, Hungry Monkey and I was hooked.
I will explain why.

I am obsessed with breastfeeding. I love it. I am drained, exhausted, I feel like an old cloth but I love it. I love the feeling, I love the cuddling. I can’t believe milk comes out of there. I hesitate to talk about breastfeeding because I know some people have a hard time with it. I did too. It took me 3 weeks to teach the little rascal how to do it. I finally got it and I love it.

Then Matthew comes along, reading a passage from his book about how breastfeeding is not what they make it out to be. He explains how colostrum, the first milk is really nasty. He talks about how gross it is. How babies hate it. That was it. I was hooked.
Breastfeeding is known to create a bond between moms and apparently it bonds dads too. Even if you hate it, you are in the same boat, it’s like a parent cult.

I finished Hungry Monkey in 3 days. Another reason to breastfeed, you have no choice but to sit on your butt and relax( and in my case read!)
The book talks about a dads journey into the food world with his little girl. The smart choices, the stupid choices. Who in their right mind feeds their 6 month old a doughnut, Matthew?

The true star of the book is Iris (Matthew’s daughter), the comments she makes, the father daughter activities they do together. The book reminded me to enjoy the simple things in life, it also reminded me of all the ingredients that I forgot existed and how much fun it is to shop at Uwajimaya.
Matthew is funny and sarcastic and all this comes through in his book with a snazzy city boy attitude. The kind of attitude that people trade for suburbia when they have kids. It’s nice to see that you can have kids and live the city life.
(I wish my husband agreed but for now I am winning the battle)

To all my obsessive mommy friends, get the book and lighten up!

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Filed under Cookbooks and Books, Motherhood, Seattle Food Bloggers

Food For Baby

Since becoming a mother, my eating has changed drastically. I have become more of a purist. Just knowing that my babies nutrients pass through my breast milk makes me a lot more conscious.
In a few weeks, I will be giving Baby E his first taste of solids. We have been sitting him at the table with us and showing him the foods we eat. We want him to look at all the different colors; the green lettuce, the vibrant yellow beets and the round red tomatoes. We want him to get excited about food, enjoy it and share the enthusiasm for healthy foods that we do.
Our bodies have already succumbed to the abuse of too many overstuffed meals, countless chicken mcnuggets, and endless color-dyed pieces of sugar. I am sure after he turns two, I won’t have as much say about the food that he eats but the thought that he gets to start his life with a fresh clean slate really excites me.

Nina Planck, the author of REAL FOOD FOR MOTHER AND BABY, will be holding a discussion as part of the Good Life Series, another one of those wonderful events hosted by Kim Ricketts.

Nina Planck sets out to find out what is true about feeding a pregnant mother and new baby in the most healthy and delicious way. Planck addresses fertility, pregnancy and baby’s first foods with surprising answers to a parent’s food questions.

The event will take place at The Palace ballroom, April 22 at 6:30 pm. The cost of the event is $25 per person, which includes a copy of book, appetizers, and a bit of chocolate.

For more info about Kim Ricketts Events, call 206.632.2419 or click here

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