Monthly Archives: March 2012

Garlic Kale Mashed Potatoes

It’s official: I have jumped on the kale bandwagon. After hearing everyone and their mother rave about “this delicious kale salad they had” and” those yummy kale chips they made,” I had to try it out for myself. Luckily, our produce box for the week contained one large, fresh bunch of kale. Because kale is so chock-full of vitamins and nutrients, I wanted to make something with it that I thought my daughter would actually eat. Enter garlic kale mashed potatoes. I figured she would eat it right up if it was mixed in with mashed potatoes, and I was right! Kale experiment #1 was a resounding success!

Garlic Kale Mashed Potatoes

2 lbs red potatoes

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 cups finely chopped kale

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup sour cream

3 tbsp Parmesan cheese

3 tbsp butter

salt and pepper (to taste)

 

Wash and quarter the potatoes, but leave the skin on. Boil until tender (about 15-20 minutes) and then drain, holding aside a cup of the potato water in case you need it later to thin out the mashed potatoes. Mash the potatoes and set to the side. Meanwhile, wash, de-stem, and chop the kale. Heat oil over medium heat and add minced garlic. Sauté garlic for a few minutes and then add the kale. Cook until the kale is completely wilted and then remove from heat. Add the milk, sour cream, butter, cheese, salt, and pepper to the mashed potatoes and stir well. Slowly incorporate the kale until everything is well mixed. If you like creamier potatoes, you can thin them out with more milk, a touch of heavy cream, or the potato water you set aside previously, whichever you prefer.

 


Easter Baskets for Babies and Toddlers

My friend and coworker, Lois, e-mailed me yesterday for some ideas for her son’s Easter basket. It made me feel better to know that another mom was struggling to come up with ideas too!

I’ve started to put together my daughter’s Easter basket for this year, which has proven to be more of a challenge than I originally thought. Last year, we didn’t do an Easter basket for her (I know, we’re horrible parents!), so this is my first attempt. I tried to think back to what I used to get in my Easter baskets growing up, but tons of candy and hair bows won’t work for my little one—too much sugar and too little hair. So, what to get … what to get?

I hit up the Dollar Spot in Target and found a ton of great Sesame Street, Dora, Sponge Bob, and Easter-themed board books, activity books, flash cards and bath books. They’re really cute, and you can’t beat the price! I also found plastic eggs and a wind-up bunny that I thought Olivia would love chasing around the kitchen. I did pick up some candy to put in the plastic eggs, but truthfully, we’ll probably end up eating most of that (she’ll just get a couple pieces). I am also planning to pick up some sidewalk chalk, Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies and Bunny Grahams, a mini Magna Doodle®, and some new socks to add to the basket.

So far, I’ve spent less than $25 for the basket itself, paper “grass,” and contents, which I don’t think is too shabby!

What are you planning to include in your little one’s Easter basket? I would love to hear some other ideas!


Supermarket Shortcuts and Speedy Desserts from Cooking Light

I’ve been getting Cooking Light magazine for years, and I always find great recipes, healthy eating tips and inspiration in its pages. The April 2012 issue, however, seemed almost as if it were written just for me. The focus this month was on fast and easy meals, shortcuts and quick desserts. I always fold down the corner of the page when I find a recipe I want to try, but this time nearly all of the corners were tabbed!

The article “Supermarket Shortcut Solutions” recommended using fresh or canned pizza dough, fresh pasta, hummus, precooked brown rice, and rotisserie chicken to get dinner on the table in a flash, and there are 20 different recipes using these ingredients. With the exception of the fresh pasta (I usually just use the wheat pasta in the box), I am an old pro at using these shortcuts. I also love using jarred roasted red peppers, frozen veggies, Tyson® Grilled & Ready Chicken Strips, fish sticks for fish tacos (don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it), frozen shrimp, and whole grain couscous (throw in some rotisserie chicken and steam-in-the-bag veggies and you have a full meal in less than 10 minutes)!

Photo: Nigel Cox; Styling: Tiziana Agnello

But what caught my eye more than any other recipe was the one for the Limoncello Freeze. My husband and I were introduced to limoncello during a trip to Italy several years ago, and I’ve loved it ever since. My mom has even perfected a limoncello cheesecake (which, come to think of it, I’ll have to share here later). This Limoncello Freeze sounds so quick and easy, I will definitely be giving it a try as soon as I am over this stinking sinus infection and can taste food properly again!

Limoncello Freeze
From Cooking Light, April 2012
Makes four

1/4 cup lemon curd

2 1/2 tbsp limoncello

2 cups vanilla low-fat ice cream

12 mini vanilla meringue cookies

Combine the curd and limoncello in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk to blend. Add ice cream to curd mixture; stir gently to swirl. Spoon 1/2 cup ice cream mixture into each of 4 bowls; top each with 3 meringue cookies.

Now tell me that doesn’t look like it would hit the spot on a hot summer day?!


Meatless Meal: Grilled Veggie Sandwiches

Our box of produce from Washington’s Green Grocer landed on our doorstep yesterday, and I couldn’t wait to dive into the organic, earthy goodness. Our haul included zucchini, sweet potatoes, kale, tomatoes, butter lettuce, carrots, and tons more, plus a huge baguette of Cuban-style sourdough that I added to our order.

My friend Dori introduced me to WGG last year, and I love getting fruits and veggies from them. They source local produce as much as possible, but they also import produce so we can get our banana fix without having to take a separate trip to the store. {Just try denying my little one her “nana” when she looks at you with her puppy dog eyes. Impossible!} If there’s something in the week’s box that we aren’t particularly fond of, we can swap it out for something else. If we don’t need a new box of veggies one week, we don’t have to get one—and we only pay for the boxes we schedule. Basically, it’s the perfect arrangement for my family!

So between our fresh bread, veggies from the box and stuff I already had on hand, we decided to make grilled veggie sandwiches with goat cheese and vinaigrette and grilled sweet potatoes on the side. We aren’t vegetarians, but we like to have at least a few meatless meals a week to encourage healthy eating and introduce our daughter to plenty of the good stuff. As picky as that child can be, she ate every bite of her veggies for dinner and kept asking for “Mo Mo!” You’d probably want more too if your dinner was this good!

 


Birdrizzle? Foshizzle

Photo via po-selected.com

I know I just wrote that post title, but I’m already embarrassed by it. I can’t help it—it was the first thing that popped into my mind when I came across this adorable little guy at West Elm. The Birdrizzlers by PO: (that colon is part of the company name, not a typo, just to clarify) offer a unique alternative to your everyday oil and vinegar cruets.

In somewhat macabre fashion, the head pops off to reveal the hollow for the oil or vinegar. I didn’t buy one, so I can’t speak to whether or not there’s a tight enough seal to prevent leaks, but they do have silicone rings for a snug fit. I have to admit, these are definitely a fashionable upgrade from my $4 oil cruet from HomeGoods!


How Do You Juggle Your Child’s School Schedule as a Working Mom?

Photo courtesy Shutterstock

I came across this post by Rebecca Eckler on Mommyish the other day. It’s poignant, honest, and the frustration is palpable. It caught my attention because I was just talking to my coworker about this very thing. My daughter is only a year old, so I’m not yet juggling a school schedule, but I see many of my colleagues do it on a daily basis and am in awe. From my observations, this article is not at all overstated—it’s HARD. . .and I can’t say I’m looking forward to it.

I’d love to know what company would be willing to accommodate the kinds of demands that are placed on parents these days by schools and (let’s be honest) by our children themselves. I don’t mean to say that schools necessarily require parents to attend daytime activities and events (though some may), but who wants her kid to be the only one without a parent there for the school concert or the science fair or whatever?  Trust me, working moms feel guilty enough as it is without this added bonus! (And why these events aren’t being held after at least 4:30 p.m. is beyond me and another subject entirely.)

If you have school-aged children, do you find that their school(s) hosts daytime events on a regular basis? If so, and you’re a working mom, how do you manage it?

I’m truly curious—I feel like I should take notes or something to make my life easier when the time comes!


Great Deal in Target Dollar Spot!

I always make a point to swing through the Dollar Spot whenever I go to Target. I don’t usually buy much more than a notepad for the frig or a toy for my daughter, but I do occasionally come across something worth getting (for a great deal, no less). The other day, I found these adorable springtime prints on everything from notepads to gift bags to stationary. I can never have too many gift bags or thank you notes on hand, so I took the opportunity to stock up. They’re so cute, I’m thinking about going back for more! The gift bags come 2 for $1 and the stationary comes in packs of 8. Can’t beat that!


Will New Study Help or Hurt Breastfeeding in America?

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Lev Dolgachov

News broke this week about a small Scottish study that says that exclusively breastfeeding for six months may not be the best recommendation. The study, conducted by Aberdeen and Stirling universities and published in the British Medical Journal, suggests that by recommending six months of exclusive breastfeeding (as the World Health Organization currently does), we are actually setting new mothers up to fail.

I have very mixed feelings about this study and the press it has received. On the one hand, the study focuses on communication, support, and setting realistic expectations. Having had a very difficult time with breastfeeding in the beginning (as I talked about in this post), I can completely relate to the pressure, feeling guilty for not “getting it right,” and the need to be up front with pregnant women and new mothers that breastfeeding does not always come naturally and is not always sunshine and rainbows.

On the flip side of the coin, I worry that this study is going to provide an excuse not to breastfeed and may lead to more new mothers giving up on breastfeeding too soon. The study itself isn’t the problem here—it actually outlines fairly convincingly how this point of view may help improve the number of breastfeeding mothers and how long women stick with breastfeeding by adjusting the expectations and ratcheting down the pressure on new moms. No, the problem here, in my opinion, is how this study is being presented in the media. In a quick Google search of this story, the top headlines include:

Breastfeed exclusively for first six months? Surveyed moms say no way

Many Women Say No to Breast-Feeding for 6 Months: Survey

Exclusive breast-feeding may just be too hard, study says

Study of the Day: Breastfeeding for 6 Months is an Unrealistic Goal

If a pregnant or (worse) struggling new mama comes across one of these headlines but, for whatever reason, doesn’t dig deeper to see what the study really says, what impression are they going to have of breastfeeding? Will they throw up their hands and quit before even trying?

I don’t think anyone could or would argue against breastfeeding being the best option, but new moms are a fragile bunch (at least I was) and a little sensitivity and responsibility on the part of the media could go a long way toward the public’s perception of this and other breastfeeding studies. I understand that headlines need to be sensational and grab the reader’s attention, but they should also give a glimpse of accuracy.

What do you think—will this study and the way it is being portrayed in the media help or hinder breastfeeding in America?

 


Spring has Sprung with the Latest Trend. . .Floral!

I was looking online the other day for an Easter dress for Little O and noticed that floral seems to be everywhere, from tiny little blooms to large, colorful bouquets. I pinned a particularly cute one for my daughter on Pinterest and within a couple of hours, it had been repinned about 15 times. So apparently, it’s a popular trend!

I’ve curated some of the best floral fashions for your little girly girl, so go ahead—get shopping!

Gap, $24.95

Children's Place, $22.46

Gap, $34.95

Janie and Jack, $21.99

Mini Boden, $36.00

Pumpkin Patch, $39.75

United Colors of Benetton, $24.00

Gymboree, $24.49

Gap, $39.95

Pumpkin Patch,k $22.75

 


Leg Warmers for Babies and Toddlers

Republishing an older post since today is perfect leg warmer weather. It was 55° this morning when we left the house, but it’s supposed to get up to 85°! My daughter’s leg warmers kept her warm and toasty under her skirt this morning and can come off in a jiff as the day heats up!

 

Ahhhh, leg warmers. . . they bring me back to my “Get In Shape Girl” days of getting up at 6 a.m. to do Mousercise on the Disney channel. I’m not kidding—I would get in full workout gear (headband, leotard-with belt, tights,blue legwarmers) and go all “Jane Fonda” in the living room. I am sure that, somewhere, there even exists a very embarrassing video of me doing a rhythmic gymnastic ribbon routine or something equally hilarious. But I digress. . .

Leg warmers are back! Don’t go rush out and get some for your next trip to the gym (they’re not that back). But they have been given a new lease on life in the world of baby and children’s fashion. They are perfect for crawlers and for those days when it’s chilly in the morning and warm in the afternoon. You can also extend your child’s summer clothes by pairing them with a romper, skirt or even on their arms under a t-shirt. I love the super soft ones from BabyLegs! There are tons of patterns, and they aren’t too expensive at around $12 a pair.