Baking for the Holidays

We are doing zero entertaining this holiday season. Which is both a huge relief and a bit sad. I love playing hostess. But I love the thought of our home staying a safe haven from the holiday madness more. Our own little family of three (and the dog) retreat.

But that will not stop me from baking up a storm (assuming I can find the time) and bringing something to the table other then the wine.

Christmas Eve’s tradition is fresh crab from Humboldt along with local raviolis and malfattis (yes… these are coming from a liquor store! So good!) What a perfect menu for some fresh made, butter loaded rolls. These Cloverleaf Rolls sound easy enough and make a ton!

Christmas morning will be spent traveling from one family to the next. But I may not be able to help myself from making some Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls. Yum. My grandmother froze me some apples in all the sugary goodness which I defrosted Friday morning. I am hoping they are still good for some evening baking…?? If not I guess that will mean an (unfortunate) trip to the store!

Christmas dinner is more family with the traditional holiday menu: bird and sides. But I am always a fan of mixing it up and bringing unique and unexpected items to the table. Over the past years when we have hosted I have made a fabulous roasted beet salad, Bacon and Pomegranate Brussels Sprouts, and Cheesecake in a Jar. This year I am torn between more Brussels Sprouts with Sweet Potato Hash or an Apple Crisp Ice Cream. Decisions.

Any additions to the table that may spark my interest?

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Not sure if I will get around to some last minute Christmas posts so… From my family to yours I hope everyone has a happy holiday season!

 

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Thanksgiving Eat

We are giving up our usual Thanksgiving travel plans to stay home this year. Which bums me out to my core.  But in an effort to balance our time between families we decided that it would be okay to spend the time at home. So my core is slowly warming up to the idea.

There is something you should know about me. I LOVE to entertain. I am 110% sure I got this gene from my lovely grandmother. But with a toddler toddling around doing what they do best (making messes, getting into shit) we are not hosting Thanksgiving.

I did demand ask politely, however, that dessert is all me. I love to bake and this gives me a really great opportunity to try out some new recopies.

Chocolate Chip Cookies and Cream Pumpkin Marshmallow Ice Cream: We did a trial run and knocked it out of the park. Sounds like it has a lot going on- but let me tell you. YUM

Angel Food Cake Churro Bites: Enough. Said. (Angel food cake is healthy, right?)

Clementine Upside Down Cake: I have always been slightly obsessed with the perfect non pineapple upside down cake!

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Cookie Bars: Love cheesecake, love apples, love caramel. Done deal.

Magic Cake: I have always been so curious about this. May have to attempt for the holidays.

Also, why am I just NOW hearing about the amazingness that is Anthropologie aprons?!

Anthropology

Anthropologie Aprons

Recap San Francisco Anniversary

Anniversary San Francisco style was a success. Fueled by too much alcohol and a very early (accidental) bedtime. I have checked off a few more places from my San Francisco To Do List, and added a few new ones for a future trip. (More on that to come!)

This also marked the first time we left the babe behind and went off the two of us. Some may think that is insane seeing as she is 14 months old. Others will probably be shocked that we left her so young. To each their own about this one. Our philosophy has always been wanting to create a life for our family of three that was full of adventure, fun and love. It is our favorite thing to take her to the places we love as well as explore new ones together. But everyone needs time to enjoy being adults without a diaper bag. I am glad we had it and was just as happy to get home.

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We stared our evening off right with some amazing ice cream. Dessert before dinner. Because we can. If you haven’t been to Bi-Rite Creamery it is worth the hype. So many flavors I could have easily filled up on samples. I choose Salted Caramel and Vanilla Honey Gram. So good.

After sitting in the car eating or ice cream, wondering why it took us so long to go there- it was too the hotel- and to the bar for a couple drinks before getting dolled up and deciding where to go to dinner.

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I am not usually one for selfies. But, I did take a quick snap of my outfit in the bathroom mirror. I opted for my new amazing vegan leather leggings and a slinky black top (from ASOS, linked HERE). If you don’t have a pair of leather (vegan) leggings, get some. Now. You will feel fierce! (And even more importantly comfortable!)

I had scoured the internet for the top sushi restaurants all week prior only to have the hubs tell me he would rather something a bit more warm and filling. We walked down the street to a random hotel restaurant Jasper’s Corner Tap simply because it was nearby and had made a top ten list on some random Google search for “Best Fish and Chips”. (Side note: The Codmother is thee best in the city- but not a romantic dining spot!) It turned out to be really good with a great vibe. Get the pulled pork shoulder appetizer. You won’t be sorry!

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Next on our stop (within walking distance) was down the street to a speakeasy I have been waiting to go to since I learned it existed. Bourbon and Branch seems to be the spot for that prohibition vibe! I didn’t reservations (loser!) so we made our way into the library and downed some pretty amazing (and strong!) Cucumber Gimlets. Yum. I didn’t snap any pictures, not sure if that was against the “rules.” Next time we will be making reservations for sure!

At this point my adorable Aldo booties were killing me (keep in mind we literally walked no more then 3 blocks!) so we headed back to the hotel. I laid down for all of two point five seconds and was out like a light. There were dreams of infomercials in my head. Woke up to the sun shining- an absolutely incredible morning in the city. One for the books! Wandered around the Farmer’s Market at the Pier Building and soaked up some sun.

Of course we already have plans to go back before the holidays are over with the babe and explore some more yummy places to eat- and enjoy the Christmas feel of San Francisco.

Help me add to my upcoming San Francisco Bucket List? Where is a must to add to keep us on our toes?

Feeding Time :: Highchair Style

Mealtime has always been a bit of a struggle for me. Is she getting enough? Too much? I thought solid foods sounded like a dream. I was wrong. All new set of stress. Can she eat that? Is that piece too big? Is she full? Why is she throwing that at me?

I am working on my issues with the above. But one thing both my husband and I knew we wanted was a happy, healthy eater. I see kids all the time filling up on snack foods and skipping dinner, refusing vegetables and fruits, etc. We decided early on that we were going to give her the best possible start and be guided from there. If she hates tomatoes in a year, I will not make her eat them. If broccoli isn’t her thing (which would be insane because she cannot get enough now!) then we will replace it with squash or cauliflower. There are so many options out there, it boggles my mind when I hear phrases like “”my kid hates vegetables.” Um, all of them? Are you sure? (Though I am sure there is that kid out there, and I think my brother is one of them!)

We believe in our household in eating healthy and as fresh as possible. This has been dubbed “Clean Eating” but growing up with grass-fed beef, a vegetable garden, an apple orchard, etc. this was just called eating. I try to stay as organic as I can (I have the “Dirty Dozen” list on my phone so I can be prepared in the grocery store). But even more then organic I worry about unnatural, and unnecessary ingredients. Peanut butter for example, I had a hard time finding one that didn’t have added sugar. And that is including the organic brands. (My personal motto: Just because it is organic, doesn’t make it healthy.”) I look for food dyes, preservatives, etc. We try to stay away from too much precooked, prepackaged foods that contain a ton of sodium. Now don’t get me wrong. Come to my house and you will see candy and ice cream and high fructose corn syrup. We eat it, in moderation. But when it comes to our babe (and ourselves!) we try and be as conscience as possible.

Being a working mom I have to be creative. I honestly do not have the time (nor the desire or the freezer space) to make a ton of different beautiful meals in small portions and freeze it all. I turned to the internet to give me some ideas and I was surprised at the lack of ideas I was seeing. They either seemed pretty unhealthy, pretty standard or too complicated to whip up in the evenings. I have been trying to come up with some fun new ideas and let our lil babe explore some new items, textures and combinations and she comes more and more a toddler. Here are some daily menus around here.

Breakfast

Frozen waffle or pancake (both whole grain from Whole Foods) with a thin layer of jam or peanut butter

Plain Greek Yogurt: We tend to mix in our own fruit to avoid added sugar (and she loves the slightly bitter taste)

Scrambled eggs

One of the above (or more) is always served with some sort of fresh fruit, oatmeal or applesauce.

Lunch

Sandwiches (slightly toasted because we are good like that): Peanut Butter and Jelly (classic), Peanut Butter and Banana, or a thin layer or cream cheese and some sort of mashable fruit.

Grilled Cheese with Veggies: This is so easy it’s ridiculous. For an added benefit, I heat a little frozen chopped spinach and add it with the cheese. You could also do finely chopped or pureed broccoli, or really any other veggie of choice. Sometimes we even go crazy and add some mashed up avocado. If your child is a bit older, my personal favorite is bell peppers and tomato slices. (When does this become a panini…?)

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Lunch is usually served with a fruit or veggie. And usually a handful of Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies is a must! (For me too!)

Dinner

Raviolis: I buy these from the refrigerated section and throw in the freezer. We really like the organic, all natural one that comes in a few different varieties. Then I can grab a couple, toss em in boiling water and done! We haven’t tried the canned version because this is just pretty darn easy and much less sodium (or preservatives depending on what you are buying).

Fish: Even though it is sofreakingoodforyou, it’s not something my husband and I tend to make for ourselves a lot. Now with the addition of the kid, we have tried to cook some up more often. My dad is quite the fisherman so we always have plenty of home caught fish in the freezer. Again, so easy to throw in a pan, in the oven or on a BBQ.

Easy Casseroles: Our favorite is one from my childhood, vamped a bit. Noodles (cooked) a little cream of something (chicken, broccoli, etc.) soup, milk and broccoli (or any other veggie) mixed together, then sprinkled with bread crumbs and cheese and thrown into the oven for a bit. Add chicken to make it more of a meal. Easy. Done. So many different things you could do with this beyond easy base recipe.

Dinner is also served with a vegetable, usually whatever we are having. This kid LOVES her broccoli and cauliflower! We also love sweet potatoes, different varieties of squash, eggplant, frozen veggie blends (easy to throw into a steamer!).

Snacks/ Meal Additions

Puffs. She loves them. Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies. Fruit leathers (One day I will make these myself!) More fruit, applesauce, etc.

:: A Few Links we Plan to Try ::  (Follow me on Pinterest!)

Apple Butter

Butternut Squash Rolls

Banana Bread

Spinach Nuggets

We hear the advice so many times “she just eats what we eat” but that’s not always realistic. Sometimes you need to those easy, healthy go to recipes! We hope we gave you a bit of inspiration to making meal time a bit more manageable with a toddler.

*I in no way claim to be a nutritionist, nor a chef. The above are simply ideas from my family to yours*

Catch Up, Life Lately

Halloween is ridiculously fast approaching. Not sure I fully believe that we are already a week into October. So far we have zero plans, other then of course a trip to the local pumpkin patch. I am super excited this year as last year was Mission: Photo Opt. We were in and out with few tears from our barely one month old babe. This year however will be Mission: Keep the kid from getting trampled by all the other little kids as she insists on touching just about every single pumpkin. I think we may need to come up with a different mission name.

I am working on getting the details of our First Birthday Party posted. The two different mood boards I made, see Here, have been a hit on Pinterest. Check back this week to see how it all turned out!

This week was also my boudoir shoot. A friend recently told me I have guts for doing it. My response was (and always will be) I am in a point of my life where I am simply embracing this body and all it has been through. The flaws and all. Will I hang these pictures on my bedroom wall? Maybe. Depends on how they turn out I suppose. But I will tuck them away for the moments I am feeling a little hard on myself, or maybe pregnant again one day far far away from now, and remember how awesome this body really is. I had a fabulous time- was totally at ease thanks to an amazing photographer (the most important part!).

Other then that we are plugging along- getting used to a new work routine as well as embracing the change in the weather. Oh wait… you mean the 80 degree weather. Yep, roll your eyes. Us California people like to complain about the weather if it dips slightly too high or even worse slightly too low. But I have a tub of Fall sweaters that are crying to be worn. Maybe we can blast the AC and pretend it is cold outside?! There are so many amazing recipes for this time of year I am dying to try but completely unmotivated. If you are luckily enough to be feeling some crisp cold air- try this Lentil Soup with Sausage recipe and let me know? Or these Spiced Apple Pie cupcakes!

Happy Thursday!

Weekly Distract: Fall Bandwagon

A break from Mommyhood to bring you some recent distractions from around the internet. With a theme!

Happy couple days into Fall. Is this a holiday? It should be. A paid day off kinda holiday. No? Well then…

I love fall. And I love, oh, about a month of Winter? Then I want Spring and maybe two months of Summer. Listen to me complain, living in California where our “seasons” usually consist of seeing the sun on a daily basis.

Anyways, with Fall now officially in the air, I thought I would take a break from playing baby catch up (only a few more posts to go!) and join in on all the festive Fall festivities fun. (Ran out of F’s way too soon!)

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| ONE | TWO | THREE | FOUR | FIVE | BOOTS |

Here is my list of why I love this time of year and why I can’t wait for spring! Because I am a little bit of a Fall downer (ha!) like that. But, never fear, I added some helpful hints to keep the winter blue’s away!

Fall Clothing:

Sweaters, leggings and pretty much the most comfy clothes you can wear while still looking completely stylish and put together. Until you realize it also makes you look larger then you are, and you just want to wear something that lets your skin breathe and the sun shine on you.

Helpful Hint: Remember that rule: One Tight to every One Loose? This applies to Fall fashion as well. In other words, baggy sweater calls for leggings or skinny jeans.

Fall Boots:

The taller the better. Riding boots, rain boots, booties, super tall heels. Looks great with leggings, skirts, jeans, dresses. Until you are walking through the mall and realize it also makes you so ridiculously hot and all you want is a pair of flip flops.

Helpful Hint: Keep up the pedicures. Even though you may be the only person seeing your toes, doesn’t mean they can’t stay pretty.

Starbucks or espresso in general:

Nothing better then ordering your favorite drink, extra hot, and enjoying it indoors while watching the rain fall. Until you realize you have to go out into the rain to get it, stand in an extra long line, and become completely dependent every day on having one.

Helpful Hint: I have nothing for this one. Buy a coffee maker?! Oh, who I am kidding, it’s not the same. Why do they not deliver during down pours!?

Baking:

There are so many amazing recipes this time of year. Warm banana bread, chocolate chip cookies, butternut squash soup, soup in general. Yum. Until you realize you have gained an additional 5 pounds because you are eating more then just salad and fruit.

Helpful Hint: Your cookies may be packed full of sugar, but you my dear are not. Do not let the bad weather keep you from staying active. And when possible, sneak those healthy veggies into your foods and use substitutes such as greek yogurt and apple sauce when you can.

Holidays and Household Decorating:

Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, My Birthday. Decorating the house, dressing up, presents, the smells lights and sounds of the season. I have nothing negative to say about any of this. Ever. I love it all and wish we could keep a tree up all year.

Helpful Hint: Start early and bask in the joy. Then keep it up way too long (yes, there are still Easter bunnies on my mantel, but they chic ones so it’s all good!)

Happy Fall everyone!

Menu: First Course Pizza

My friend and I have a fabulous trend. We both chase after the kid, while attempting to make homemade pizza and pig out in front of pre-recorded episodes of Project Runway while the hubs is out.

Why pizza? The endless possibilities! I literally walked into the Trader Joe’s and started grabbing at things.

This is what I ended up with in my shopping cart: two Trader Joe’s pizza dough, pizza sauce, arugula, mozzarella cheese, raspberries, pita bead, watermelon, mushrooms, an onion, salad dressing, garbanzo beans, and artichoke hearts. I clearly had no plan.

But that is the beauty of pizza. Throw it all on and see what happens.

What happened was magical.

My go to pizza is caramelized onions with mushrooms and a sprinkle of pancetta. (Note that above I clearly forgot the pancetta. My husband: Where is the meat?!)

And our newest experiment: Artichoke Hummus spread under a salad of arugula with fresh mozzarella, watermelon and heirloom tomatoes with a light coating of Goddess Dressing. Fabulous.

I have deemed the salad pizza (similar to a Piadine: flatbread with salad on top) as the “first course” pizza.20130824-162003.jpg

So easy, so quick, so yummy. And so beautiful. I heart heirloom tomatoes. With a passion.

If you have not experimented with Trader Joe’s pizza dough go now. No really, right now. I like to let mine sit out for a bit and we rarely attempt to roll it into an actual circle.

Okay, officially hungry. Happy eating!

Salad Pizza with Watermelon and Heirloom Tomatoes

(Again, not an exact recipe, so not my style!)

Cook pizza dough per package instructions. Coat with melted garlic butter when removed from the oven.

Spread homemade or store bought hummus. (Mine was homemade: 2 cans garbanzo beans, 1 cup(ish) greek yogurt, drizzle olive oil, 4 artichoke hearts, seasoning to taste.)

Top with salad: Arugula. Cherry sized balls of fresh mozzarella, halved. Watermelon slices, cubed. 1 large heirloom tomato, chunked. Tossed slightly with Trader Joe’s Goddess dressing.

Enjoy!