Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Summer Bucket List

While I should be grading my remaining TWELVE essays (collected 60 so I'm doing pretty good!), I instead worked on my bucket list for the summer.  I just read it to Big and she got super excited . . . I guess that means we have to do these things now!  #1 is on the agenda for this Friday and we just made the final flight reservations for our trip to Hawaii (#2).  I'm hoping that some of our family will want to join us for #8 and #23.  The most unrealistic one on this list would have to be #24 but it's a wish list, right?  If you have an easy, small tent, I'd love to borrow it sometime for #12.

What are your summer plans??

1.  Go to Catalina Island (done 6/1)
2.  Snorkel in Hawaii (done 6/22)
3.  Eat veggies from our garden (done 7/23)
4.  Have a water fight (done 6/9)
5.  Invite friends over for a swim day (done 7/12)
6.  Make homemade ice cream (done 7/11)
7.  Go see fireworks somewhere (done 7/4)
8.  Take Big to the Hollywood Bowl
9.  Visit the girls' great-grandma in Atlanta (done 8/1)
10.  "Camp" in our backyard
11.  Visit the Discovery Science Center in Orange
12.  Have a sleepover with Sasha
13.  Go to Seattle to visit Amber (done in September)
14.  Run a 5K and a 10K
15.  Take tennis lessons
16.  Go to the beach (done 7/10)
17.  Summer reading program at the library (enrolled 7/5)
18.  Throw Little a birthday party (done 8/11)
19.  Go away overnight without our kids (planned for 8/23)
20.  Work on How to Teach Your Child with Big (started 7/16)
21.  Take Little to My Gym (both girls - done 8/9)
22.  Go to the water park at the Santa Fe Dam
23.  See World of Color at Disneyland
24.  Sleep in past 8:00 some day (done 7/5 and 7/6)
25.  Take a day trip on the train from the Claremont Depot
26.  Visit the Griffith Observatory and Planetarium (done 6/10/12)

Seriously, I promise to start cooking and posting recipes again soon.

Inspired by the Happy Family Movement

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Conversations with big sister

Car Insurance

Big:  Mom, what is car insurance?

Mom:  When people pay money so that if they get in a car accident, someone else takes care of things or pays to get your car fixed.

Big:  But what does that have to do with geckos?


Big:  So mom, what did you teach your students today?

Mom:  In one class, they're learning to debate.

Big:  What's debate?

Mom:  When people have different ideas so they each give their reasons.  Like if you think we should go to the zoo tomorrow but I think we should go to the park, we could debate our ideas to decide who wins.

Big:  Well, I already do that all the time!

Mom:  I know you do.  And, you're probably better at it than some of my students.

Debates, part II  (as told to me by the babysitter)

Big doesn't listen and obey so the babysitter needs to give her a consequence

Babysitter:  I'm sorry but you can't have your chocolate chip cookie for dessert since you made the choice to do the wrong thing.

Big:  Well, the cookies weren't a reward.  They came with the pizza and are part of my dinner.  So, you have to let me eat one since it's my dinner.

Babysitter (impressed but not convinced by the argument):  No, dessert is a reward and you weren't listening so no cookie tonight.

Big (having lost the debate, still tries to get in a last word):  My mom will probably let me have one when she gets home.

Babysitter:  I know your mom pretty well and she'll probably agree with my consequence.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What we've been eating . . .

It's usually not much of a struggle to come up with ideas and recipes for posts because let's face it, we all cook and eat an awful lot.  This morning as I was wondering why it's been taking me so long between posts on this blog, I decided it's because the last few weeks have been super busy for our family and the end of the spring quarter is taking a toll on me.  I collected all the essays from my writing students this morning and now can look forward to a week of grading.  While it's tough to fit quiet hours to read student writing in my schedule, I'm not one of those people who absolutely hates grading papers.  I wouldn't have become an English major or a writing instructor if that was the case.  So, wish me some peace and quiet over the next 10 days.

And, don't worry that I'm not eating or feeding my family.  I'm cutting back on refined sugar, white flour, and calories in general for the next few weeks so I'm less inspired to bake these days, but we've been eating some favorite healthful recipes that I've already posted:

The Green Soup - I feel like I make this really often but my husband still asks for it over and over

Baked Spicy Salmon - family favorite and very easy

Pita Salad things - I've been eating these for lunch or after spin class a few times a week

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pesto Potato & Green Bean Salad

I'm really excited that it's almost summer!  I keep myself from thinking about the 90+ essays I'll be collecting in the next week or so, I've been making a summer "fun" list of things I want to do . . . maybe I'll share it on here sometime soon.

This potato salad is a great summer side and addition to a barbecue or potluck.  Without any mayonnaise or anything like that, it can sit at room temperature for a long time and is good warm or cold.  You can serve it to your GF friends, and your vegatarian friends.  The other potato side dish I like to make is this Deconstructed Potato Salad but this pesto version with the green beans is definitely going to make its appearance at summer dinners this year!

I thought the leftovers were amazing and even though I didn't have pine nuts, I'd definitely add them the next time.  My husband thought the potatoes should be cut smaller than quarters so I'll probably make that change next time too.

I found the recipe on Smitten Kitchen and Deb makes her own pesto for the salad.  I used store bought (Trader Joe's) but if you want the ingredients & instructions to make your own (it's not hard!) click on the link under the recipe title.

Pesto Potato & Green Bean Salad  Serves 10

4 pounds small Yukon gold or red-skinned potatoes, quartered
1 pound green beans, cut into one-inch segments
1 cup of prepared pesto
6 Tablespoons (or more to taste) of a mild vinegar (white wine, champagne, or white balsamic)
1/4 cup chopped green onions (scallions)
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
Parmesan cheese to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 10 minutes. Add beans; cook four minutes longer. Drain well and let cool, then transfer potatoes and 
beans to a large bowl.

Toss the beans and potatoes with pesto. Stir in vinegar, green onions, pine nuts and season with salt, pepper and/or additional vinegar to taste. Finally, shave some wide flecks of parmesan over the salad with a vegetable peeler.

Serve immediately, or make this up to two hours in advance. It can be stored at room temperature.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother Moo

 I realized that my post title may imply that I'm going to write about the Time magazine cover this week, but I'm not touching that one with a ten foot pole. 

Instead, I'm going to write about something we all love very much in my house - ice cream (or, as little calls it, I-Keem).  After swim lessons in Sierra Madre last week, we stopped at Mother Moo, a new little artisan ice cream shop in Kersting Court.  Check out the menu board . . . I didn't try the avocado or celery and later wished I had!

I loved the open ice cream kitchen in the shop, the "real" tasting spoons and drinking cups (not plastic or styrofoam), the fact that they use organic ingredients and the Salty Chocolate ice cream.  There are signs in the store about classes on making preserves which was interesting.

My girls gave it two thumbs up.  Next time, we're going to check out Carmela.

If you're in the area, give it a try!
17 Kersting Court, Sierra Madre, CA

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mom's Pork Tenderloin

Every Thursday night my mom makes dinner for us, my brother and his family, and my grandmother.  Sometimes other family (cousins, my sisters when they're here) joins us and sometimes some of us can't make it, but it's an ongoing thing.  We all look forward to family dinner and it's a highlight in our week. My girls are so excited to play with their two cousins and see Grammy, Papa, and Great-Grammy.  It's great for me after a day of work to know I don't have to make dinner or do dishes and to just sit and enjoy a fantastic home-cooked meal.

My mom's meals have all sorts of side dishes.  Last week we were eating our pork tenderloin, some green beans with browned butter, and an awesome salad.  All of sudden, my mom jumped up and pulled two huge pans of sweet potatoes and potatoes out of the oven that she had forgotten about.  Then, there were coffee and brownies.  At my house, I serve some sort of vegetable OR salad but if you get 2 side dishes, you're lucky.  I'm telling you, it's amazing.

This pork tenderloin recipe is terrific.  My husband doesn't prefer pork and I pretty much never make it at home but we all (even the littles) really enjoy it when mom makes this.  She serves the honey mustard sauce in little individual sauce dishes (like you'd use for soy sauce if you were having sushi) by each plate.  The recipe is easy to half if you're not serving a crowd.

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Honey Mustard Sauce (serves 8)
originally from Cooking Light

3 T mustard seeds
1 T fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. crushed red peper
Two 14oz pork tenderloins
salt and pepper
1/2 c. grainy Dijon mustard
1/4 c. traditional Dijon mustard
1/4 c. honey

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a mortar, lightly crush the mustard and fennel seeds with the crushed pepper.  Season the pork tenderloins with salt and pepper and then roll them in the crushed spices to coat the tenderloins.

Roast the pork tenderloins for about 20 minutes, until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of each tenderloins registers 145 degrees.  Transfer to a cutting board and let them rest for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix the mustards with the honey and season with salt and pepper.  Slice the pork 1/2 inch thick and serve with the honey mustard.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

New Snack and Family News

Oh, man.  So, the other day I signed up for Pinterest and let me tell you, that is a major time suck.  I've managed to avoid starting a Facebook account but I already spend time reading blogs.  Now Pinterest . . . it's fun and I liked taking some bookmarked ideas and having a visual representation of them.

My most recent new recipe came via a friend via Pinterest (thanks, Lisa!).  These are little no-bake treats with no refined sugar or flour.  I've made them with almond butter and with peanut butter and cut down on the honey a little bit.  Big sister and I loved them.  I think Little wanted them to be more like actual cookies (they're pretty chewy) and wasn't as jazzed.  With GF oats, they're a good little GF treat.

Click here for the recipe

In other news, I have actually been doing some stuff other than wasting time on Pinterest.  I've been driving to swim lessons every day and twice on Mondays and Wednesdays. Big is learning the backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle.  She passed from Level 2 to Level 4 after being able to swim from one end of the pool to the other doing her stroke.  Don't you love how you can see her dimples while she does the elementary back stroke??  If anyone in the area needs a great swim instructor, I'll put you in touch with Coach Matt!

Little is taking her second year of ISR . . . videos to come in a few weeks!  You'll be amazed to see her swim.

Big also got chosen to do the Jedi Training Academy at Disneyland the other week.  She was so nervous to fight Darth Vader and was fighting back tears as she waited for her turn, but was then very proud of herself for conquering her fear.  It's also really cute . . . she thinks she's an actual Padawan and takes it very seriously.

Little loved Disneyland.  She got a little scared on some of the rides (Snow White and Peter Pan in particular) but it was a super fun day.  Little also recently learned the ABC song and Twinkle Twinkle. I didn't teach either to her but I think her Dad has been singing while her Mom has been teaching.  And, when I asked her "who sings Twinkle Twinkle with you?" she said "Haaayyyydeeee" (her Grandma).

And, George got to come to Big's preschool for show and tell.  He was a huge hit . . . actually did some stuff like eating food and walking around and peeing.  The kids especially liked the part where he peed (4 year olds + an animal peeing = levels of excitement I didn't anticipate*).

*Wow . . . I never thought I'd write that last sentence on a food blog.  Sorry.