Dr. S and I spent a rare dinner out on New Year's Eve with a couple good friends. It was our second dinner out without our baby bear since she was born 7.5 months ago (the first being Dr. S' birthday a couple months back). Those days when we would spontaneously go out to dinner for a date night seem like a lifetime ago! Luckily, our baby bear's sleep has become decently regular over the past couple months, and we gladly accepted my parents' offer to babysit for a few hours. Although the weather was a bit nippy by Southern California standards, I braved the chill in this hi-low multi-print number I picked up during the recent tag sale at Anthropologie. It's official - I've completely lost my tolerance for cold weather that I developed after being in the Northeast for 11 years. After dinner, we drove back to my parents house and watched the ball drop (albeit 3 hours later with the time difference) in our cozy PJs. With the birth of our daughter and starting fellowship, it's been an amazing and memorable 2014. Here's to an equally amazing 2015!
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
My baby girl started eating solids a little over a month ago. First, she started with a rice cereal slurry, then moved on to smushed up avocado, and then sweet potatoes. For most veggies, I end up steaming them without any seasoning and then puree them smooth in my Magic Bullet. Plain steamed broccoli may be unappetizing to me, but my 7 month old gobbles it up (usually).
I was trying to find ways to re-purpose baby food for grown-up meals and came across this squash toast recipe on one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen. The only major adjustment I made was using pre-cut butternut squash rather than buying it whole, to save on time. While I roasted most of the butternut squash in oil, salt, pepper, and chili flakes for the recipe, I set aside a cup and roasted it plain for my daughter. She loved the squash, and us adults were equally happy with our squash toasts. The vinegary caramelized onions balance out the sweetness of the squash and creaminess of the ricotta. The mint might seem random, but it just works. These are perfect for a New Year's Eve cocktail party, or even a weeknight meal in as the components can be made ahead of time and keep well.
Smashed squash toasts with ricotta and cider vinegar
Adapted from recipe from here
2 pounds of cubed butternut squash (I bought the pre-cut bag from Trader Joe's for $4.99)
1/2 c of olive oil
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
2 tsp of sea salt
1 yellow onion, sliced
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons of maple syrup
1/3 of a round of sourdough bread (I used the Trader Joe's cracked wheat sourdough bread for some extra texture)
1/2 c of ricotta
10 mint leaves
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss the cubed butternut squash with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tsp of salt, and the chili flakes. Roast on a foil lined baking sheet for 15 minutes, and then flip and roast until lightly browned, about 5-10 minutes more.
While the squash is roasting, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and salt, and cook while intermittently stirring until lightly browned. Then add the vinegar and maple syrup, cooking for another 15 minutes until the onions are very soft and broken down. Combine the caramelized onions and the squash, smashing them all together.
Heat a large skillet and 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Cook the bread in a single layer until golden brown on both sides. Spread the ricotta on the toasts. Pile on the squash mixture, sprinkle with coarse salt, and garnish with mint leaves.
Friday, November 21, 2014
I commemorated my baby girl's half birthday with a batch of pumpkin mini cupcakes. I figured that even though she couldn't have any (we have just barely started solids), they went well together in that they are both mini and sweet! The original recipe calls them "muffins," but given that I topped them with a tangy cream cheese frosting, that makes it a cupcake! I'm such a sucker for cream cheese frosting on anything - carrot cake, red velvet cake, etc. I cut down on the sugar from the original recipes in both the frosting and the cake itself, but they were still sweet enough in my opinion. They were super moist, and pretty much guilt-free since they're so small. That is, unless you are me and have five in one sitting!
Pumpkin Mini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from this recipe
1 3/4 c all purpose flower
2/3 c white sugar
1/2 c dark brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg (fresh grated is best!)
1 15 ounce can pure pumpkin puree
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together flour, white and brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and spices in a medium bowl and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir until just incorporated. Be careful not to overmix!
Place cupcake liners into muffin tins and fill each well until the top of the liner. Then bake for 13-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. For regular-sized cupcakes, you can probably bake for 20-22 minutes. Wait until they are cooled completely to frost.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8oz brick of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick or 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3-2 cups of powdered sugar
Whisk together cream cheese and butter, ideally in a stand mixer. Then slowly add powdered sugar in parts and mix, tasting along the way to reach the desired sweetness. I ended up using 1 1/3 cups as I like the tang and don't like my frosting super sweet, but it's up to you! Once whisked together and there are no clumpy bits of powdered sugar, place into a piping bag or plastic ziploc bag (what I did). Snip a little hole, and pipe on top of the cooled cupcakes.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
The little baby bear is now 6 months (!!) old but I'm still either breastfeeding or pumping every 4 hours or so. As I mentioned in my last couple posts, the frequent feeds create some slight fashion hiccups. You can imagine that hoisting up a shift dress is not an ideal way to breastfeed a wriggly baby. Therefore, my wardrobe consists mostly of separates. Nursing camisoles allow for more wardrobe flexibility as you can throw over a shirt/sweater/cardigan. Once it comes time to nurse, you just take off your top layer, and then pull down part of the tank top, leaving your belly still covered. My favorite nursing tank top is from Undercover Mama and can be attached to any nursing bra. It's not as wide at the bottom as the Target or Bravado ones, so it's a bit better for when you are a few months out and want to suck everything in.
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
A few weeks ago, my girlfriends threw me the most thoughtful baby shower to celebrate the impending arrival of my baby girl. The theme? Monkeys of course! We had wonderful weather, delicious food, fun games, and plenty of crafty activities. And the best part? I was surrounded by my best friends who had traveled near and far and we had not just a great afternoon, but a fun-filled girls' weekend.
Thank you to Sarah, Deb, Denise, Mindy, and my sister Wendy for an unforgettable baby shower!
Sunday, October 26, 2014
I am so excited to share with you some highlights from my maternity shoot with the talented Meg. I feel like I spent the majority of this pregnancy waiting for my bump to appear and when it finally showed up, it has been growing so quickly that I can hardly keep up with it! I'm amazed at what my body is doing but I'm still struggling with the added roundness and softness all over, not just to my mid-section. Thus, I was especially nervous about this photo shoot and whether or not I would be comfortable in front of the camera and happy with the results. Meg was simply amazing and helped me feel totally at ease and I am thrilled that I decided to capture this moment in our lives.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Happy Wednesday everyone! I am so excited that the week is halfway over -- with all of my closest girlfriends flying in for my baby shower, I simply can't wait for the weekend!
In the meantime, can we talk about this bucket bag? Its simple design, gorgeous leather, and beautiful bright color -- I just can't get enough!