September 21, 2013
I have a lot to say about snackies.
First, this is one of probably a few too many "baby words" that I say to Lola. Snackies instead of snacks, tubby instead of bath, night-night instead of bed. They say you shouldn't do this. But I do it. I'm working on stopping.
Second, I'm a little obsessed with snacks for Lola. I find myself much more interested in brainstorming the snacks I feed her than the meals I feed her sometimes. I'm not sure why exactly this is but I have a feeling it's because I had some solid snacks growing up. My mom almost always had a special snack waiting for us when we got home from school. This time of the year, it was often ginger snaps with hot cocoa. I would sit at the counter with my snack and tell her all about my day.
A few weeks ago I was joking to her via text about how my brother always seemed to be available to come over if there was a free meal on the table. She texted me back and said "Food is the great seducer. Remember this when Lola comes home from school and you want to hear about her day." She's wise, my mom. Snacks can be very important.
Third, we have hit some sort of major growth spurt around here because Lola can not get enough to eat. She signs that she is hungry all of the time and polishes off big snacks multiple times a day. I can't seem to keep the house stocked with enough snacks for this child.
So, this week when my mom was here, we brainstormed some new snack ideas for Lola (thank god).
One of the ideas I got most excited about was these ham and cheese crepes. As most of you know, my mom is French. And a purist. So, she had a little bit of heartburn over putting ham and cheese in them, but knowing the appetite L is sporting lately, she turned a blind eye.
These puppies were a joint effort. Mimi lovingly made the crepes. I lovingly stuffed them and prepped them for the freezer. I can't wait to dig into them this week.
Here is the list of other ideas we came up with for anyone else that is in need of some new ones. (Caveat: we aren't doing nuts yet with Lola, so you'll see nut butters are not included...lord knows there are a thousand more ideas involving nut butters.)
Ham & cheese crepes (obvi)
Dips (nectarine butter, eggplant yogurt dip, hummus, veggie ricotta)
Crackers (this is our favorite homemade cracker recipe right now...our favorite store-bought are Bunnies)
Muffins (so many, many options)
Mini quiches, mini frittatas
Pancakes (whole wheat, cornmeal blueberry, pumpkin, apple cinnamon oat, veggie, corn)
Smoothies (with fruit, a veggie, yogurt, milk, and wheat germ)
Graham crackers with honey sweetened cream cheese
Cheese & crackers
Salsas (apple cinnamon, cucumber, pineapple)
Pizzas (on English muffins, pitas, crackers), calzones
Toasts with spreads
Deli meat & cheese with brown rice cakes
Spinach ricotta bites (from Weelicious)
Zucchini coconut chocolate chip cookies
Cheddar & apple tartine
Apple oat scones
Loaded baked potatoes
Chicken salad & crackers
Soft pretzels with dipping sauces
Pears baked in cream
Posted by Sarah at 5:47 PM
September 5, 2013
I never realized how much I love summer vegetables until this year. Maybe it's because I'm cooking at home more. Maybe it's because I know where my summer veggies are coming from. Maybe I've just hit the jackpot in picking recipes to use them in. But, I'm smitten. And sad that they are quickly coming to a close.
My favorites? The tomatoes. The eggplant. The corn.
My mom has an orchard a few miles away from her in Lancaster where she has been going almost daily to stock up on peaches and corn. I have been making fun of her because it's seriously ridiculous, the amount of peaches and corn they have been eating.
But I get it. And that's why I've been quick to accept offers from my farmer friends and my friends with farmer friends. The second I get a text asking if I could use x, y, or z, I quickly say "Yes! I actually have been wishing I had more of x, y, and z." I've become a summer vegetable hoarder.
These are a few of the recipes that have made me a vegetable hoarder. I thought I'd share. We probably have a couple more weeks? Make these recipes. Repeatedly. That's what we're doing.
Grilled Eggplant, Corn, and Bread Salad with Tomato-Basil Vinaigrette from Williams-Sonoma
Tomato Crostata with Honey-Thyme Glaze from The New York Times
Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion from Food52
Eggplant Dip with Yogurt from Food52
Posted by Sarah at 11:31 AM
September 2, 2013
We did something pretty cool last weekend. We drove out to Long Lake (just the two of us!) and ate pizzas on a farm with some of our friends (and my brother and his gf).
The pizza farm in Stockholm has been on my radar for a while, but it's only on Tuesdays, and we just can't seem to get it together enough to go.
So I got excited when this one in Long Lake popped up--Two Pony Gardens.
Let me warn you: you have to sort of be on your a-game to have a good pizza farm experience. First, you have to make a reservation. No biggie.
Then, you have to plan what you're going to bring. Wine? Beer? Watermelon palomas? What about dessert? (Not to mention, plates, bug spray, cups, napkins, a bottle opener...)
Third, if you want to eat in a timely manner (and score a cookie from the totally tempting piles displayed), you have to get there early. There seemed to be a jump from a 20 minute pizza wait to a 90 minute pizza wait within a five minute time span. If you're rolling w/o kids, I guess who cares, but still.
Let's see...you have to watch out for poison ivy, too. Despite multiple emails beforehand warning us of the stuff, our group ended up sitting right on top of a nice thick patch of it. But, luckily for us, the woman who runs the pizza farm came to warn us right away and give us extra blankets. Have no fear, I think most of us escaped unscathed.
So, if you can handle all of that, you'll be set for a solid pizza farm night out.
Two Pony Gardens offer two pizzas each night: one margarita-style and one more adventurous pie with seasonal ingredients (last weekend, it included beets, walnuts, and roquefort). They were both good, maybe mostly because they had just been handmade, had come from a wood-burning oven, and were eaten in the middle of a beautiful farm.
I was particularly smitten with the stunning flower garden. There were horse drawn rides for kids we learned as we were trying to leave, squeezing past one in the narrow driveway. Next time, we must explore more.
The next morning, I quickly reserved 8 spots for the first weekend in October. I think October could be particularly pizza-farm-perfect. The weather will be cooler, it'll get darker and cozier earlier, we can make the switch from rose to red, and maybe the poison ivy will be dead? I'll let you know.
P.S. Thanks to my bro for most of the pics. Somehow I got too beside myself to take any photos.
August 10, 2013
Thursdays have become one of my favorite days of the week. For starters, it's this close to being the weekend (which I surprisingly still look forward to even though I'm not working anymore). And Thursday afternoons, Lola and I trek over to St. Louis Park to pick up our weekly crop share delivery. And then Thursday nights I happily sit down with a pile of cookbooks and magazines and do our meal planning for the next week.
I love meal planning. Although it sometimes takes on a life of its own. As I've told you a zillion times before, I get completely overwhelmed with all of the recipes floating around out there. The cookbooks. Pinterest. Random tweets I try to remember. Things I've heard people talk about. Things my mom has been making. There are a lot of possibilities.
I get on major tangents. Like this week, I grabbed a piece of paper and started jotting down Fall recipes that I came across and didn't want to forget. I have multiple pieces of paper like this that honestly I lose track of: random foods particularly good for Lola, toddler snack ideas, Summer-esque recipes, things that I think would be particularly blog-worthy, things to make for certain friends. I really must come up with a better system. The former 9-to-5-er in me tells me I should create a spreadsheet but...that doesn't feel inspiring. So for now I'll pretend that I'll actually keep track of my random pieces of paper and use them.
But this week, the menu was really crafted around the veggies that came in our share: zucchini, eggplant, summer squash, basil, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, potatoes, dill, cilantro, watermelon, and a couple of tomatoes.
It's like a game, menu planning. Strategizing how you'll use what you have or what's in season. Working with a budget, so being smart about making things that utilize at least some similar ingredients. Figuring out what we want to eat and making sure most of it is Lola-friendly (particularly that she can chew it with her two little bottom chompers and two barely-there-incoming uppers). Making sure that the week looks balanced for Lola nutritionally.
Meal planning is working for us big time. There are no questions about what to make early in the am when she's demanding her first square. We have what we need in the house to make lunch (a big challenge I learned since being home all day). We have enough snacks in the house. We all each much better because of it.
It's all good.
This week, I'm most excited for the chicken salad I'm making for our lunches with yogurt and tons of fresh herbs, the fish tacos with homemade tortillas and salsa, and Thursday's tomato toasts (thick grilled slices of Rustica bread rubbed with garlic, ripe tomato, and topped with serrano ham and manchego). Oh, and the brown rice pudding that I'm going to make for snack time. And the cheese crackers.
This week is going to be a good week.
Posted by Sarah at 12:36 PM
August 8, 2013
One of the things that I'm loving about our crop share this summer is that I get to make vegetables that Zach doesn't like without feeling guilty about it.
Take beets, for example. Zach hates beets. He thinks they taste like the earth (um, yes, they do, but in a great way). So, I never made them much before even though I loved them. I just felt like a jerk serving them for dinner when I knew he hated them.
But because we get beets fresh from the farm and I have no control over getting them, I'm loving it.
So I made sure I got the most out of the latest bunch of beets. I went through my cookbooks, my Pinterest boards, my mental list of beet recipes and landed on this Martha Stewart one: Roasted Beets with Mint Yogurt Sauce. It's a perfect summer veggie recipe. The vegetables are roasted and adorned with a light, healthy, super flavorful sauce. It feels kind of special, but it's so easy. And so healthy.
I never had much luck roasting beets before. I mean, they turned out fine, but they were never stellar. They always seemed to get dry and chewy on the edges. The method MS outlines worked perfectly. The beets got roasted in a baking dish in the oven with foil covering them. And then after they cooled a bit, I easily wiped the skins off with a paper towel and cut them in big chunks, leaving tender, beautiful jewel-like pieces.
And then the yogurt sauce: yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, and mint. Four of my favorite ingredients.
For a while, I was actually hopeful that Zach would actually like them. But no.
And Lola? Another no. But hers got rinsed off and blended into her smoothie the next day. So, ha.
And hey, there were more for me. So there was that.
Posted by Sarah at 7:47 AM
July 28, 2013
If you follow me on Twitter, you saw me gushing Friday night over our dinner at Parka.
I've been wanting to go to Parka for a while just because of its credentials (V44 + Rustica + Dogwood). But we kept picking other places to go to because, frankly, Parka's menu never spoke to me.
We should have gone earlier.
Similar to V44, it's a little out of the way for us, especially on a Friday night during rush hour. And Friday night, as I listened to Lola whine in her carseat for 30 minutes, I was regretting the decision and wishing we had stayed closer to home.
But then we walked in and my mood instantly turned around.
Parka has a cool vibe. It's casual and cute. And at exactly 5pm it was empty (yes!). We were greeted by a super friendly server who seated us right under the kids shelves with hip (and clean!) toys. He gave us a children's menu right away and told us he could put in an order for Lola as soon as we wanted. He brought her milk in a straw cup. He asked us if we wanted him to grab us the last ginger cookie that came with her kids meal. (And after we told him we'd pass b/c our girl doesn't like sweets, he got it for us anyway and wrapped it up for us to take home.)
In went Lola's order for the english muffin pizza with tomato pineapple soffrito.
I sipped my glass of malbec, started decompressing, and we watched Lola love the Rubix cube and wooden figurines from the kids' shelves.
We had a slight setback when the complimentary curry popcorn arrived to tide us over and a certain someone not yet old enough for popcorn decided she needed to have it. But alas, we distracted her and took turns hiding the popcorn on the chairs next to us, sneaking bites when she wasn't looking. (It was good.)
So, the menu is heavy on comfort foods. That's what's deterred me in the past. But oh, stupid me. I narrowed my choices down to the meatloaf sandwich, the crayfish "tuna casserole," and the fried chicken, and ultimately decided on the meatloaf sandwich because I had a hankering for French fries. It was so good. I need to seriously consider where I'd put this on my list of favorite sandwiches in town because it would be up there for sure. The meatloaf was fall apart tender and delicious; it was topped with good cheddar, homemade tomato relish, and onions. And maybe a smear of mayo on the bottom bun? I didn't have it on my plate long enough to really look as I had two other people helping me eat it.
But let's be honest. The real reason we came was because their cookie and milk flight has been on my bucket list for a while. So out that came, at about the same time that Lola lost interest in her food, her straw, and the Rubix cube. I'll just show you a picture.
I won't even bother describing it. It was good. You can see that. We took turns scarfing the bars and cookies down while the other walked around with Lola. We asked that the rest (it would be impossible to finish in one sitting) be boxed, and we each made sure we kept our piles separate in the box for fear that the other would snatch our saved goodies.
So, let's see where we're at: the space is great, the food is great, the attention to kids is great. The malbec was maybe my favorite I've ever had. Parka was perfect on Friday night.
We have a lot of places in town that nail the vibe, service, and food. But not as many nail it with kids. Hopefully that continues to change.
Another kid-friendly favorite right now is The Lynn. I love the Hodgepodge on their kids menu--a 6 cup muffin tin that comes filled with cubed cheese, chicken drummies, mini croques, fruit, and veggies. The price? $1 for every year the kiddo is. For parents of a 1 year old, that is a major steal. Something you actually feel somewhat guilty about. But what I loved even more than the price was the quality of the ingredients. The chicken drummies were cooked in a honey sauce and so delicious--and are made just for the Hodgepodge. The cheese was the good stuff, not the usual American / processed cheddar / etc. Instead of a grilled cheese, it was a mini croque monsieur. The peas were freshly shelled peas. I mean, seriously. (They also have really enticing other options on their kids menu, but for now, while Lola doesn't care, we're going the $1 route).
I love the food people we have in this city that are catering to kids as much as their parents. You allow me to have a civilized dinner out and you help me expand my kids' culinary horizons and expose my kid to the great food I love.
July 13, 2013
Not so long ago, I was a brand marketer. I am a sucker for good branding.
Case in point: Truce, the new-ish juice bar in Uptown. From the moment I saw their store front in progress, on the corner of 32nd and Hennepin, I was hooked. It was full of windows. It looked airy, clean, and modern inside.
Then I saw their logo and their website, a few tweets, a few photos of all of the pretty, colorful filled juice bottles lined up in their case, and I was salivating and excited about this new addition in town. The whole thing just looked so fresh, so vibrant, and so delicious. And because it is only a couple of blocks from the lake, I had visions of picking up a juice and strolling around the lake with Lola once a week or so.
And THEN I learned one day that the day-old juice was on sale for $8, which begged the question, "Um, how much for the freshest stuff?"
$9. For a single-serving bottle of juice.
It's a gripe I'm sure they get a lot. They've addressed it on their website, and I think I saw them tweet about it. They explain why it's so expensive to make their high quality stuff. I can believe it.
But it doesn't make me (or I'm guessing many) super willing to pay for it.
I worked on lots of new products in my brand marketing days that had the potential to be great products, but they were just too expensive to make, and tested out to be too expensive for consumers to pay for. And we had to say goodbye, which was at times a total bummer.
$9 is a lot of money for a bottle of juice. I can get behind a lot of things. $4.50 for one slice of pizza. $3 for a pretty small (pretty delicious) doughnut.
But $9 kept me from trying out Truce for a good month or so.
Today, because I was driving around picking up all sorts of other fun food items, I caved.
Yes, my juice was delicious. I chose the Restart (cucumber, watermelon, and mint). And it was light and refreshing and flavorful. I felt healthy just drinking it. And the neon straw made me pretty delighted.
But ugh, come on, Truce. Most of us can not justify $9 for a bottle of juice. For a single serving bottle of juice.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm just not their target consumer. Maybe there really are enough people in town who will be willing to pay $9 for a bottle of juice on a regular basis. I hope so because I'll happily file Truce away in my special occasion foodie purchase file. Heck, I will probably ask for one of their juice cleanses as an upcoming gift.
You kill me, Truce. I want to love you. I do love you. But I can't buy you (often).
Posted by Sarah at 10:22 AM