Category Archives: recipes

Won’t you be mine?

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of our loved ones!DSC_0955

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Hutch and I made a cake for Papa for Valentine’s Day. It was a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. It turns out that if you accidentally use orange food coloring instead of red, you can’t really fix the color, no matter how much red you add or how much coconut you cover it with. So, we had a “Happy Hallo”veen heart cake instead of a pink heart cake. :) And, just as I went to take a picture of the “before” part (I didn’t let Hutch near it until the end, when I thought we could just have fun throwing coconut on it), he stuck his finger into the picture…and the cake. :) I guess we know whose child this is.

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It’s not even really a guilty look on his face!

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He had fun throwing coconut at the cake! And then we covered it with hearts and butterfly sprinkles.

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Here’s the final version, with all of the holes covered up. The post-script to the story is that the cake was AWFUL. I ended up using this recipe from one of my mommy newsletters and it was cardboard. Next time, I’ll go with another one and I won’t use whole wheat pastry flour. Oh well, at least it looked cute and it helped fill up an afternoon after school with tons of fun (and sugar) for Hutch!

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The Typical “New Year, New Me” Spiel

So, the new year goals kicked off a little later than normal due to the belated feeling of New Year’s Day and the Rose DSC_0271Parade/Rose Bowl being held on the 2nd and me not going back to work until the 4th. But, I started on the 3rd, with trying to be a better me.

 

There’s a 21-Day Vegan Kickstart going on that started on the 2nd, but I saved it for the 3rd since I wanted to finish off vacation with whatever decadence I felt like. This mostly included eating the loads of cookies that I’d made over the weekend in order to use up the pounds of butter that I had bought for Christmas cookies that were never made. In one afternoon naptime, I made three delicious batches of cookies (peanut butter kisses, chocolate chip cranberry oatmeal cookies and snickerdoodles). Therefore, these cookies all just had to be consumed in about 24 hours in order to start my goal of “clean eating” on the 3rd. :)

Anyway, I’ve always attempted this Vegan Kickstart before, but I always fall off the wagon and then declare it over in my head. Like, “you failed, just go back to your old ways”. This year, I’ve decided to just attempt and keep on attempting, with the knowledge that I’m GOING to fail IMG_5428but that’s ok. I’m working on being less black-and-white and more in shades of grey. I’m just going to work on weeding out animal-products as much as possible and incorporate more greens, fruits and veggies into our diets. We started on the 3rd by getting back into the green smoothie at breakfast habit and it was a HIT. Hutch just kept shouting “schmoo-ee, schmoo-ee” and ended up drinking about half of mine. He’s had some every day for breakfast and as soon as I flip on the blender, he shouts “SCHMOO-EEEEEEEE”. It’s a great way to get him to see that green things aren’t scary and can taste good!

 

On Wednesday night, I also took a foray back into the crockpot world and used a recipe that I found on Pinterest. (Pinterest, by the way, is my new favorite time suck. I never REALIZED how many creative minds are out there sharing and this site is SO fun to get inspired by!). Anyway, the recipe I found was a Quinoa Corn Chowder, but I modified it and used the yummy roasted corn and roasted peppers from Trader Joe’s. And one of these days, I’m going to actually have to buy some of the herbs and spices that normal people have in their kitchen like bay leaves and coriander. I don’t have these things, so I just threw in some Red Robin seasoning and some Spike seasoning and called it good. It turned out ok. I’m still not sure if I’m one for quinoa. Everyone talks about the delicious “nutty” flavor, but I think it just makes things taste a little like hay. Or weeds. I’m not really sure, but it just tastes too “natural” for my senses. I’m going to have to keep on working on it. To make the dinner a little more delicious, I stole an idea that we had at Coho Café a few weeks ago and made some savory corn/green chile waffles to go with the chowder. Those were pretty delicious and made the whole dinner more palatable. I’ll definitely be making those in the future! Anyway, it was a fun way to kick off the idea of eating clean and vegan more often at home and I want to keep up with exploring new recipes and finding new dishes that we all like.

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We also went to a really yummy café for a date lunch on Tuesday called the Flying Apron. It’s vegan and gluten-free. We split a dish of Mac and “Chez” and an Italian flatbread  with spinach, zucchini, red peppers and other awesomeness on it. SUCH a yummy meal and I was happy that Buck liked it, too. It just inspires me to keep trying to incorporate veggies into our food and to be more creative with cooking.2012-01-03_12-37-16_167

 

With all of that being said my biggest goal of the 21-day Kickstart is not actually vegan-related, it’s to give up alcohol. Our little spirited one is the definition of someone who “drives you to drink” (or at least drives the Irish/Scottish gal in me to drink!). And I’ve let those feelings get the better of me and given in to the temptations of having a glass of wine (or three) after putting him to bed for the last year or so. I know that it’s just a habitual thing and that I use it to relax, but I’m working on finding other ways to substitute it, like having my favorite Decaf Candy Cane Lane Green Tea or using our new Sodastream that Santa brought for Buck to make some tasty raspberry essence carbonated water. So far (and it’s now January 6th), it’s been working. And I find that not drinking in the evening curbs the snacking habit as well. It also helps me sleep almost all the way through the night, which is something I’ve been having problems doing. I hadn’t really realized it was related to drinking until I cut it out. Pretty cool. So, anyway, all of that eating clean/drinking clean is my Goal One.

 

CaptureGoal Two is to work on my fitness and track my eating. Yah, I know, it’s so cliché. Like I mentioned in the last post, I’ve been going to spinning and that’s been doing wonders for my mood. Not so much for my body yet, but I think it’s because I’d yet to make any dietary changes when I started going about two months ago. So, I started posting my daily food intake and daily workouts (which aren’t really daily, more like two or three time/week) on a website called Sparkpeople.com. It’s a fantastic free site and is like Facebook for fitness.

 

You can fill out your daily nutrition tracker and fitness tracker and by doing so, you get “Spark Points”. I have no idea what that even means, but it’s kind of cool to get little badges and it motivates me. I used to spend money on other sites like WeightWatchers.com and Livestrong.com, but this site is totally free and I love that you can update your status (like on Facebook) and you can write whole blog posts and be motivated by other people’s blog posts. I am often tempted to write things on Facebook about working out or eating, but I see other people do that and I often think, “Why are you telling EVERYONE about every single trainer appointment you have?” I totally get it, because I *want* to do that, too. It’s a feeling of pride and a feeling of accountability when you share it with people. However, a few of my Facebook acquaintances (none of whom read this blog) go WAY overboard with their oversharing of their fitness and I always worry about being one of those people. So, what’s nice about Sparkpeople is that I’m anonymous on there, and I can write/post things that I don’t necessarily want to share with the world of people that I actually know. If you use Sparkpeople and would like to be my friend, however, let me know and I’ll tell you my username. Anyway, I feel like having a site that gives me little “awards” and is waiting to be filled up with my activity (food and fitness) helps keep me excited to focus on self-improvement.

 

Goal Three is related to memory-keeping. One of the things that is ALWAYS on my mental bucket list (or “fridge list”, as myAE_PL2011_intro-500x333 mom has) is to keep up with this blog, keep up with pictures, keep up with journaling, etc… I found this AMAZING site by Ali Edwards that has something that she calls “365: Project Life”. She doesn’t have this “one-photo-per-day” approach, she just tries to take pictures as much as possible and then incorporate everything into a week. She uses NORMAL binder pages with pockets on them and that allows her to put things like tickets and receipts and manuals and other things into the book. I am so in love with this concept and she said she keeps the album out on the counter all week long and I think that it would be SO great to be able to see what’s gone on in your life over the past year. Especially for Hutch. We have pictures of the Crawfords and the Ishiis (whom we never see in person) up on the magnetic boards) but I would love for him to be able to “interact” with them a little more and I think a scrapbook like this is very kid-friendly and not as intimidating when you don’t have to fire up the computer and do crazy digital layouts. (She does, but you don’t have to!) Anyway, I’m going to give it a shot and perhaps just end up printing out the blog posts and cutting them up into pieces and putting them in a binder. Who knows? I just think it’ll be nice to have a hard copy of my memories and the things we are doing throughout the year. Her post on 2011 Reflections and Ideas really boils it down to what worked and what didn’t for her. It’s just SO inspiring to read her stuff and get creative. I love love love looking at the way she does what she does.

 

Goal Four (and the final goal) is about organization and cleanliness. I am SO lucky to be in a part-time role, currently. Typically, this allows me to be at home on Tuesdays and Fridays of each week. In the past, I’ve left Hutch in daycare on Tuesdays so I can Capture2go to therapy (and talk about Hutch) and I’ve kept him home with me about 50% of the Fridays so that we can do stuff together. In the off-times, though, when I do have time to myself, I somehow feel like I never get anything done around the house.  My therapist tells me that IT’S OK and I need a break because raising a spirited child is like raising six children and I can’t do everything without taking a break. She has also diagnosed me with perfectionism and feeling like if I’m not doing everything perfectly, I’m failing. I know these things about myself but I also know that I feel more “in order” and at peace when the areas surrounding me are clean and tidy. I’m blessed with a husband who is a better housekeeper than I am and pulls WAY more than his share of the weight in the cleaning/tidying/laundry department. But I want to get better about cleaning out the different “zones”, as FlyLady calls them. There are places in my house that have been on my mental “to-do” list for about 2 years, like the bathroom drawers (which I started to line before Hutch was born and I never finished). Last week, while I was on holiday break from work, I used one of Hutch’s naptimes to clean out the medicine area of our kitchen cabinet so that we wouldn’t be beaten over the head by 12 almost-empty bottles of aspirin/ibuprofen/aller-tabs/sinus meds every time we opened that particular cabinet and they fell out everywhere. Just that simple task made me feel SO GOOD. It’s like cleaning out the cobwebs of my mind. So, today, after I return home from spinning, I plan to go through Flylady’s detailed cleaning plan and start thinking about how I can organize my brain and my zones so that it doesn’t seem like a monstrous and awful task to tackle areas of my house each day/week/month. And, when I talk about “cleanliness”, I’m not just talking about the house. In the past couple of days, I’ve been using Hutch’s bathtime, when I’m trapped in the bathroom and can’t go anywhere or do anything while he’s playing happily in the tub, to wash my face, put on a facemask (which Hutch thought was hilarious) and floss my teeth. I realized that I could have been doing this for months! Using those few minutes to “pamper” myself and feel like I’m working on self-improvement. So, goal four really encompasses all of the little ways I can live a clean and tidy life around here. Again, there’s no black and white. I’m going to have a dirty house, dirty floors, dirty gums, etc…this year. But I am going to try to take baby-steps.

One of the things that I’m most proud of from last year was fixing up the garage and turning it into a playroom for Hutch. It sort of came to me after seeing our friends’ garage that they’d cleaned out for their twins. Within a month or two, Buck and I had sorted through things, donated, cleaned and decorated and now we have daily playnights in there after school. I feel AMAZING about that. And that’s the kind of stuff I want to keep doing in this new year. Anyway, it’s January 6th, so I have 360 days left in the year to see where it’s going to take me. I usually feel sort of down-in-the-dumps around this time of year, but for some reason taking down the tree and the decorations invigorated me. I have a sort-of “carpe diem” attitude right now. Like I mentioned before, I’m coming out of the mama funk, feeling more like “me” again and I am excited to DO things instead of make it through the day. Here’s to a productive, peaceful and proud new year for one CockrellDoodleTwo. :)

Wasting the day…in the best way.

On Tuesday (my day off), I checked Hutch into daycare because I’ve been fighting a cold and it had really knocked me out, so I imagethought having a day to myself and trying to get better would be good for me. So, instead of doing all the billions of things that I “should” have done, I took it easy and I laid low. By noon, though, I was ready to *do* something, so Buck and I went to sushi at Marine Polis and then he encouraged me to go see a movie that I had been wanting to see. It was SO SO SO lovely going to see a movie all by myself in the middle of the day on a Tuesday. And I went to see “Midnight in Paris”, which is this lovely, romantic, witty movie that takes place in Paris. It’s about a guy who’s a tourist in Paris and wildly in love with the city and starts to have these encounters with his idols from the past. I hate to say “time travel”, but I guess that’s the technical term.

 

Anyway, I highly recommend the movie. We’ve never been to Paris, although we have two paintings by an artist that depict Paris during sunset and at night and we long to go experience the magic.

 

Then today, I was planning to keep Hutch out of daycare, but I ended up having to take a call for work in the morning, so I took him in. Then, when I got home from dropping him off, I felt too guilty about laying around doing whatever I wanted, so I went nutso cleaning and tidying. Buck and I got to have another date lunch, this time at Red Robin. And then I came home and cleaned some more and decided to cross one more thing off of our bucket list. Here’s a copy of what it looks like:

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Anyway, one of the things on the list is to make a mocha cream pie. This pie came to our attention through an episode of Slate’s Political Gabfest called The Chocolate Pie Conundrum Gabfest. There was a part of the conversation where one of the contributors talked about a mocha buttercrunch pie that his grandmother used to make. Well, we got the ingredients to make it a few days ago, but hadn’t gotten our acts together, so I decided to make it since baking is very therapeutic for me and I figured I should spend my few free hours doing at least ONE thing that I love. And right before I started, I found out that there was a live Coldplay concert happening on iTunes!!! So, I got to spend an hour in the kitchen watching/listening to Coldplay and making a TASTY mocha cream pie.

 

One of the things that I’ve realized about having a kid is that it has made me feel like I can never go to any live shows. Not that Coldplay has come to our area, because if they had or were planning to, we would be there. But I feel like when I get emails telling me about who’s playing in our area, I just delete them automatically because I have it in my head that we are trapped at home every evening. Having had a couple of date nights out recently, I know that that’s not the case, but when I was watching Chris Martin dance around the stage, it gave me just a teeny feeling of what it’s like to be at a live show and I loved it.

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Here’s what the pie looks like! And the recipe is below.

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Mocha Buttercrunch Pie, aka Chocolate Crunch Pie

(From a recipe given to me by the proprietor of the late, lamented Bootsie, Winkie, and Miss Maud restaurant on P Street in Washington, D.C., but identical to one in The Frog Commissary Cookbook.)

This can be made in stages. The crust needs to be baked and cooled. Then make the filling, fill the crust, and cool in the fridge. (At this stage, it can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen until the day of the party.) Just before serving—or several hours before if you have fridge space—whip up the topping and cover the (thawed) pie.

CRUST

1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup cold butter
3 tablespoons finely chopped chocolate (semisweet)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons (maybe more) water

FILLING

1/2 lb. soft unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
4 teaspoons instant coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
4 eggs

TOPPING

2 cups cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon instant coffee
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla

OPTIONAL: Grated chocolate or chocolate curls

For Crust

Preheat over to 450F. Combine flour, salt, and brown sugar. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender. Stir in the nuts and chocolate. Mix in the vanilla and water. Work the mixture to combine (use your hands). Push mixture into pie plate and cover the bottom and rim. Bake for about 20 minutes. Cool.

For Filling

Cream butter until fluffy and smooth. Add sugar, coffee, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the melted chocolate. Again beat smooth. Add the eggs one by one, beating for several minutes after each addition. Spread the mixture in the pie shell. Chill for several hours. (At this point the pie can be wrapped and frozen. Defrost in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours.)

For Topping

Just before serving, whip together the cream, coffee, powdered sugar, cocoa, and vanilla until stiff enough to hold a shape. I just heap this on top of the pie. Those skilled with a pastry bag can pipe rosettes all over the top. Garnish, if desired, with grated chocolate or chocolate curls. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Green Smoothie Day 2 and 3

I DID complete the green smoothie three day challenge! I kind of thought I wouldn’t, but I made one each day. The picture below is from Day 2 and I was too rushed to get out of the house on Day 3 to snap one. The problem is that they got progressively less tasty as the days went by because I ran out of bananas on day 2. The banana is the key. I *did* try a new trick of using lite coconut milk on the third day and that made it taste a little more tropical, so I might keep that up over the summer.

We’re off to the coast for a few days and, I know this sounds crazy, I brought the vitamix and a bunch of spinach and I’m going to try to keep it up!

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