January 28, 2008

If he only knew....

The halfling was so flabbergasted by the actions of a student in his class when he came home today. It's a little girl name Cindy. He exclaimed with great disdain that she was weird.

I asked him what made her weird, as anytime he talks about a girl I want to know more.

The halfling quickly responded..."Well, she gets mad, then happy, then she gets real bossy! She is WEIRD and cuckoo in the head!"

Oh, my sweet child if you only knew that ALL women are like this. And yes, we are all weird. And cuckoo in the head. At least he hasn't figured that out about me yet. I can do no wrong in his eyes. Sweet, sweet oedipus complex.

January 23, 2008

I have a new obsession.

And it comes in a tiny little box. In my anal retentive fashion I have found my new hobby. A Bento Box. What is a Bento Box you ask? Let me tell all about Bento! This is from Wikipedia.

Bentō (弁当 or べんとう?) is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento consists of rice, fish or meat, and one or more pickled or cooked vegetables as a side dish. Containers range from disposable mass produced to hand crafted lacquerware. Although bento are easily available in many places throughout Japan, including convenience stores, bento shops (弁当屋 bentō-ya?), train stations, and department stores, it is still common for Japanese homemakers to spend considerable time and energy producing an appealing boxed lunch.

Bento can be very elaborate, aesthetically pleasing cuisine arrangements. Often the food is arranged in such a way as to resemble other objects: dolls, flowers, leaves, and so forth.

Basically, it a Japanese lunch box. I first read about bento boxes online at a community I am active in called Two Peas in a Bucket. It is a scrapbooking website and I frequent the NSBR (not scrapbook related) forums. Ironically enough, I rarely have time to scrapbook anymore! But I love visiting the NSBR most everyday to participate in various discussions. I have found more information from the ladies there!
So after researching bento boxes online and asking a few questions of the NSBR bento box experts I settled on purchasing The Laptop Lunch Box. Here is a sample of the Laptop Lunch box system:
Doesn't it look so neat and tidy? I hate to clean, but I am a completely OCD about it. I hate it because I can't just "pick up" like normal people do. When I clean, I clean. When I organize, I organize. I like things in a certain way. The perfectionism can become quite annoying sometimes. For example, when I unload the dishwasher all my plates, bowls and other things have to be put away a certain way. The bowls have to be lined up perfectly. When the hubby cleans the kitchen I will inevitably go behind him and get my things just so.
That is why the bento box appeals to my OCDishness. Plus, we are on a complete food makeover in this house. We are all healthy, all the time. We are weaning ourselves off processed food, trans fat and HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). We are slowing transitioning into the organic/green lifestyle. We've got a loooooong way to go, but it's all about baby steps. A bento box reduces the waste that a child creates when taking his lunch to school. Plastic bags, food wrappers, napkins, plastic utensils, paper bags, juice boxes, etc. Over the course of 1 year a child can create over 65 pounds of waste per year. That is over 18,000 pounds per year for the average elementary school. Think of it, I will never have to buy another Ziploc bag again!
So, here are a few pictures of The Halfling's bento box lunch for tomorrow:
This is the outside of The Laptop Lunchbox
and I apologize for the crappy lighting. My camera was acting all wonky tonight.

And the view of when you open it.
You can put an ice pack in the mesh pocket.

This is the actual bento box and a water bottle when taken out of the
lunch bag it comes with.

The view when you open it up. Notice my reflection. Hello, gorgeous!

A close up of the individual containers. There are 5 containers.
1 Large with cover
1 Large uncovered
2 Mediums uncovered
1 Small covered
(It also comes with a spoon and fork)
When you close the box, it seals the entire box so it doesn't leak or drain.

For lunch tomorrow The Halfling is having leftover pizza I made for dinner. It is incredibly yummy and very good for you. It is made from organic whole wheat pita pockets, spread with spinach puree, then tomato sauce and topped with mozzarella cheese. Quick, easy, delicious and healthy! I cut the leftover pieces up small enough to fit in the closed container.
That is what is in the bottom left box. Next to that is cut up string cheese. The top left is cut up celery (after I took the picture I added some carrots), and the top right is a small container of peanut butter (all natural) with yogurt covered raisins. The Halfling loves to eat celery with peanut butter and raisins. We call them ants on a log.

I plan on posting some cute lunch ideas and pictures soon so stay tuned!
Here is a link to bento box infomation:
Lunch in a Box

Good for a laugh.

Funny Pictures
moar funny pictures

Kick Ass Chicken Recipes v 1.0

On any given day about 30000000000000000000000 people in America eat chicken for dinner. This, of course, is my personal estimation. Everyone has chicken in their freezer. If you don't, then you are on your way to the store to get some or worse....you are a vegetarian...or vegan.
I plan on spicing up le Poulet at my house. My goal is to get you excited about chicken again. Well, not really...but it sounded nice, eh?
This week I made an awesome chicken recipe and I plan on making it in the very near future. It's called Crispy Potato Chicken. Doesn't sound exciting does it? Maybe if we changed it to something fancy smancy like, Dijon and Lemon Garlic Chicken. That is not too exciting either, but you get the idea.
Here's what you need to make it:
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about2 large or 3 small ones)
2 Tbs. Dijon Mustard
1/2 Tsp. Garlic, Chopped
1 Potato, Grated
1/2 Tsp. Oil
1/2 Tsp. Lemon Juice
1 Tsp. Pepper

Now, I am a recipe rebel. I always add extra ingredients that I know we love eat. For example...2 teaspoons of garlic for 4 chicken breasts ain't cuttin' it at my house. I chopped up at least 7 cloves. We love garlic...and in abundance is even better. I also added more dijon mustard because the amount listed was just...sparse. I used shredded frozen potatoes because it was easier and I happen to have them on hand. I also discovered halfway into making this that I was plum out of lemon juice. So, I used lemon pepper instead. And of course I added salt, because...who doesn't?!

Here is how you make them:
Arrange chicken in a 9x9 baking pan of dish that has been lightly sprayed with cooking oil or butter. Set aside. Combine mustard and garlic together. Spread over the chicken breasts. Set aside. Mix potatoes, oil and lemon juice (or in my case lemon pepper and salt)
and spread over chicken. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 425 for 25-35 minutes or until juices run clear.

Here is my masterpiece:And a close up:
I served this with peas. The Fourthling was ecstatic as you can see below:
And the gag reflex kicked in:

The boy hates peas.
But feeding them to him is sooooo entertaining.

January 21, 2008

A Review

Ok, I know ya'll have been waiting on bated breath for my next recipe review from "Deceptively Delcious". We tried the Sweet Potato Pancakes the other night. See the little beauties below:

These were fantastic! Everyone LOVED these. Even the dog! This will be a regular meal at our house. Here's what you need to make them:
1 C. Water
1/2 C. Sweet Potato Puree
1/4 Tsp. Cinnamon or Pumpkin Pie Spice (I used Cinnamon)
1 C. Pancake Mix (I used Maple Grove Farms organic buckwheat blend)
Pure Maple Syrup

I cut and roasted my sweet potatoes in the oven for about an hour on 400. Then I peeled the skin off and cut into small pieces to fit into my food processor. Then I processed until smooth and creamy.
In a large bowl combine the sweet potatoes, water and cinnamon. Add pancake mix and stir. Using about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake, pour onto hot griddle. Serve with Pure Maple Syrup and butter.

These are super easy to make and make a great meal for day or night. The halfling even exclaimed, "These are better than Mumu's!" Which is a total compliment because her pancakes are infamous.

I am thinking of making a huge batch of these and freezing them for quick breakfasts. They are so much better than the store bought kind.

And because this post is rather boring and lacking of witty comments...here is a funny picture.

January 18, 2008

Lying To Your Kids 101

I answered the phone just in time before the answering machine picked up. "Hello?" I said breathlessly. "Hey, turn it on Oprah! You need to see this lady that is cooking today." It was my Mom. It was the 8th time she'd called me that day. I told her I'd call her back and had every intention on turning the T.V. on, but was distracted by one of the brats having a tantrum or getting into something they shouldn't have. Good God, what DO they want now?! When I finally pacified the offspring with my favorite discipline tactic, bribing, I sat down on my couch and turned on the last couple of minutes of Oprah. Who was this chick anyway?
It was Jessica Seinfeld. Who is that I wondered? She is married to Jerry Seinfeld. She was talking about her new cookbook "Deceptively Delicious". My immediate thought was why in the hell is she writing a cookbook, aren't they wealthy enough already and who made her an authority on food? I love food, but I've never heard of her. That's my pessimistic side that likes to unveil itself sometimes. Well, ok...alot. At least 5 times a day, but no more than 10.
She was talking about "sneaking" vegetables into your kids (and husbands) food. She was making brownies with spinach and carrot puree. If you've seen my ass lately, you know that I can't turn down a brownie. No matter what is in it. My interest piqued I began to listen more intently.
Now, my oldest (the halfling) will eat just about anything that I put in front of him with prodding over an hour or so. I threaten too. He doesn't dislike vegetables, but enjoys the power struggle. That's the future lawyer in him. And he's an expert bargainer. But, I've seen picky eaters before and I always SWORE I would never have one. My eldest has lived up to my expectations. He's six years old, mind you, so given the choice he'd eat Marshmallow Creme 5 nights a week. But, that is the beauty of being 6. You don't have to worry about weight gain, cholesterol, and daily antioxidant intake.
The Fourthling, the baby, is a completely different story. He's the child I will battle with to eat anything remotely nutritious. The child I swore I'd never have. The picky eater. Ugh. For fun on Friday nights my husband and I sneak vegetables onto his high chair tray and take bets on how long it will take him to discover and discard of a vegetable. My husband distracts him, and I put the game piece into place. Usually within 10 seconds he spots the disgusting piece of nature's candy and throws it off his tray onto the floor. We laugh now, but I can see this being a real problem later on. It won't be so cute and funny when he's 15 and weighs 300 pounds and eats doughnuts and marshmallow creme all day.
So the idea of hiding vegetables in our daily meals seemed like a great idea to me. Being a Mom, I know that I can puree veggies and sneak them into spaghetti sauce and meatloaf, but I never really practiced it. And those spinach and carrot brownies made me hungry. Being that it is a new year, and how un-American would I be if I didn't throttle into 2008 with the fervor of a virgin bride to do a complete overhaul on our eating habits. Plus, I really need to lose that baby weight, even though the "baby" isn't a "baby" anymore. So off I went to Target to purchase the book.
I rounded up the brats and loaded them into the car for our quadruple weekly trip to Super Target.
Now, I can't possibly walk into Target and only get ONE thing. It's a rule that you have to fill your cart up before you can check out. So, being the rule follower that I am...I triumphantly loaded it up with crap I really didn't need. Christmas stuff that was on clearance, goodies from the $1 Spot, a pair of shoes I really needed. Practical stuff like that.
Now, I can actually cook very well...I just don't get off on it like some people do. My Mom LOVES to cook. It's soothing to her. Me? Notsomuch. But, for some reason this cookbook inspired me to recoup my cooking gene and embrace my foodie inner-being that had been hibernating for 30 years.
Now, before I get back to what recipe I made first I have to clear up some minor gossip stuff. I am a celebrity gossip slut. I love the stuff. I get off on it. I can't go a day without reading my celebrity gossip blogs. I am completely up to speed on everyone in Hollywood. It's my only (well, not ONLY) vice. I do not tell just anyone this. It's too embarrassing, and well...silly. Who gives a flying fuck what is going on in Hollywood. So, consider yourself lucky that I divulged this info to you.
Jessica Seinfeld was married to another guy before she met and married Jerry Seinfeld. She "supposedly" went to the gym that Jerry went to in NYC for one reason only. To find a new husband. She timed her daily workouts so that she would be there when Mr. Seinfeld was also working out... and planned to "run into" him on purpose (while she was still married to the other guy). She evidently left the hubby no. 1 a few months later. Then she married Mr. Seinfeld. I guess he was too good to pass up and she had her eyes on the prize.
And then there is the hullabaloo about the plagiarism. Evidently, Mrs. Seinfeld's book is almost identical to a book called "The Sneaky Chef" that was published months before "Deceptively Delicious". Mrs. Seinfeld's book received more attention because she went on Oprah. The author of "The Sneaky Chef" is currently suing the Seinfeld's for defamation of character (they said some not so nice things on late night T.V. and other public forums) and plagiarism. I've read the excerpts that are in question, and I do admit that they sound almost identical. Weird. And then of course the fact that "The Sneaky Chef" submitted her book to Mrs. Seinfeld's publishing house twice, only to be rejected. She later found another publisher.
But, the book is still good and has tons of great recipes. I plan on buying "The Sneaky Chef" in a few weeks for good measure.
My first recipe to try out were the brownies. Here's my personal photo of the little darlings.

You can't even see the spinach and carrot, eh? You can't taste it either!
The halfling ate these up like they were his last meal. Here's how you make 'em.

You need:
Semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (3 Oz.)
1/2 C. Carrot Puree
1/2 C. Spinach Puree
1/2 C. Firmly packed Light Brown Sugar
1/4 C. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 Tbs. Trans Fat Free Margarine
2 Tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
2 Egg Whites
3/4 C. Oat Flour (or all purpose)
1/2 Tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp. Salt (Kosher)

First you melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Next, you combine the melted chocolate, purees, sugar, cocoa powder, margarine, and vanilla. Mix well until creamy. Whisk in egg whites, stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Pour into an 8x8 pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Cool completely before cutting and eating. Spinach taste doesn't dissipate until the Brownies have cooled.

I thought that these brownies were great. Of course, they are not as good as the unhealthy ones, but decent nonetheless. The next time I make these I plan on using milk chocolate or sweetened cocoa. I felt they needed to be a bit sweeter, but that is my personal choice. I like dark chocolate candy, but in my opinion it has no business being in a brownie. But, I can't pass up a brownie with 3 grams of fiber and that is chocked full of iron, folic acid and lots of antioxidants.
The Fourthling tolerated these brownies, but he thought they needed a topping of Marshmallow Creme. Ah, a child after my own heart.

January 17, 2008

I'm Hope. Nice to meet you.

I am married to a cop and have 2 boys. The Halfling is 6 and the Fourthling is 18 months. We live in the suburbs sans the typical mini-van and tennis lessons. I nurture the spawns during the day and my husband works absurdly long hours at night. I like to think of myself as the anti-utopia of motherhood. I hate to clean, would rather gouge my eyes out than cook, and really get annoyed when my kids make too much noise and interrupt what I am doing. I hope to post some little diddly everyday, but I tend to be flaky so I am not making any promises. For the time being and for your viewing pleasure, here is a video of my half-naked toddler and his obnoxious brother playing with swim diapers (before you go off assuming things...yes, they are clean diapers). Thankfully the little brats are sleeping soundly now and I can blog in peace. Dontcha' want like 20 of 'em?!