Friday Food Round-Up!

Howdy from Texas, y’all.

This week, I actioned all manner of food for new families and packed it of to their respective houses.  Truly we will be repaying the kindness of our friends for years and I am so happy to do it, knowing how much it meant for us.

What we cooked from the pantry list: Shredded Coconut, Israeli Couscous

Final note before we get into it: I wrote out a recipe for Coconut Tres Leches Cake.  I hope you love it as much as we did.  We’ll definitely be making it again.

Friday – Grilled Beef Bool Kogi from Trader Joe’s, Roasted Broccoli, Sweet and Salty Coconut Rice from Cravings, Chicken Cilantro Mini-Wontons from Trader Joe’s

Mike and Jillian kindly joined us for dinner at our house since you know, it’s get a babysitter or stay in.  Since it was a Friday night and I had been away at work all day, I wanted something easy.  Trader Joe’s marinated meats to the rescue.  Also, Trader Joe’s Chicken Cilantro Mini-Wontons (an all-time fave that I forgot to take a picture of!) to the rescue!

The leftovers from the beef and rice ended up going into some tacos for lunch on Sunday.

Sunday – Simple, Perfect Chili from The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Cheesy Jalapeno Bacon Cornbread from Cravings

I don’t think we’ve eaten chili for dinner together since maternity leave, when people brought us lots of chili.  This is always such a fantastic recipe (the chili but also the cornbread!) and it is just the best dinner.

Fregola with Artichokes, Feta, Toasted Almonds, and Herbs, Soft Fried Eggs, Leftover Roasted Broccoli

Frequently, when I tell Marcus what I’m going to make, he looks at me and says “I’m sure I liked it.”  Even if I’ve made a dish, say, dozens of times.  It has gotten to the point where when I tell him what I’m going to make, I beat him to the punch and I tell him that he liked it before.  When I wheeled out this meal (made with Israeli Couscous instead of Fregola), Marcus looked at it and exclaimed I remember this one, I like it!  The angels sang, y’all.  The angels sang.

Wednesday – Mom’s Green Chili Enchiladas with Cilantro-Lime RiceBlack Beans, and Guacamole

I put this on our meal plan because when Marcus went out of town, I distinctly remember that this created leftovers for days.  And it does.  A dinner for each of us, one lunch for me, two for him and still a pair of enchiladas left to pop into the freezer!  Magic, all of it.


I am thankful for…

…my new hair dryer.  A few weeks ago, I realized my ten year old hair dryer was drying my hair and that also it was taking FOREVER.  Even though it wasn’t outright broken, I just felt in my heart that probably hair dryer technology had progressed and there were probably some new (and more efficient) options.  My new hair dryer is lighter, shinier, and 100% faster at drying my hair.  Magic.

…my new haircut.  Apparently my hair is all that matters these days!  In all seriousness, I am not a stylist monogamist, but the latest stylist I saw at The Hair District in Plymouth was just 11/10.  She listened to what I had to say about my hair (it is best at laying flat and can be styled with a hair dryer in 5-10 minutes) and then gave me a haircut where the ends didn’t look as though they had just been cut.  This is key.  I hate the “fresh” haircut look (even though I love the fresh haircut feel!) and usually love my cut about two weeks after the fact rather than right away.  No more.

…being able to volunteer.  No, that’s not supposed to be a humblebrag.  I’ve been very fortunate to do a lot of volunteer work remotely over the last year based on the needs of the organization that I am working with.  However, they had a specific need that I wanted to and was able to participate in last weekend and being able to be onsite and working directly with clients was a really special to me.

I am dying for…

…sleep. I know that I sound like a broken record, but at this point I think we are pretty much like thirsty people wandering the desert, looking for water.

…some sort of appetite for vegetables.  My appetite for green things was touch and go during my pregnancy and when Critter arrived, well, it really never came back with any sort of vigor.  I know that I need the calories that are in carbs in order to keep my milk supply going (because of the calorie burn that milk production is) but it would be nice to have any sort of interest in eating like an adult human.

…the return of Vanderpump Rules!!!  Never ever would have guessed five seasons ago that I would be watching this still.  The SUR gang never disappoints, and always remember that when it’s the off season we have the Straight Up With Stassi podcast to tide us over.  It’s phenomenal.

I am looking forward to…

…my Sleeptacocation!  Today I am headed to TEXAS.  As I told Billy a week or two ago, having this amount of free time is absolutely unfathomable.  More importantly, this amount of sleep is completely unfathomable.

…some upcoming girls’ nights.  I try to plan friend dates every week, but these are a little bit more out-of-the-ordinary adventures (and on the weekend too!  so glamorous!).  It will be excellent.

…being reunited with Critter.  I know I’m not even IN Texas yet, but leaving him this morning, even though I knew I was on the path to having some High Quality Me-Time, it was hard you guys!  Tears were shed and I didn’t even do that when I went back to work. We haven’t been apart for more than eight or nine hours for the last 18 months.  So even though all of this self-care stuff seems important it is also A Big Deal.

Friday Food Round-Up!

This week we used the following items from our pantry list: Turkey Burgers, Grillin’ Beans, Barley, Lentils, Shredded Coconut, Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix, macaroni.  Honestly I was shocked because even having cooked with these things, we still have barley, lentils, and macaroni (apparently it was a 32 oz box!).  I guess you’ll see them again!

Saturday – Turkey Burgers, Grillin’ Beans, Roasted Broccoli

We were out of the house all afternoon so I wanted to action something that was not going to be terrifically difficult to prepare.

Sunday – Roasted Chicken Thighs with 4-3-2-1 Spice RubRoasted Cauliflower with Brown Butter from Ruhlman’s Twenty, and Herby Barley Salad with Butter-Basted Mushrooms

Apparently we made This Exact Meal and ate it on These Same Plates with This Same Silverware on New Year’s Day 2016.  I knew I was having some deja vu here.

Monday – Lentil Soup

Let’s be honest y’all.  Lentils usually taste like dirt.  Of all of the lentils I have ever made, they have been mediocre at best and profoundly underwhelming at their worst.  Since I had 3/4 of a bag of them sitting in my pantry, I decided to resource a recipe from because even though it is not a glamorous site, it is Of The People and I knew that they would recommend something appropriately tasty.

I linked to the recipe because it was enjoyable, BUT (but!) you must make the following modifications based on the comments: four carrots instead of two, double the basil and oregano, chicken broth instead of water, top with parmesan, and I skipped the spinach because it sounded ill-fated.

It was good.  I’d eat it again.  Which is good because it made leftovers and a container for our freezer meal stash.

Wednesday – Coconut Tres Leches Cake

I feel like lately, I am posting all of these things I’ve made and there is no actual recipe to guide them.  This was my contribution to breaking the fast and I was pleasantly surprised that other family members also like coconut!  I also shared pieces with my parents (who were at our house “watching” Critter while he slept) and we collectively agree that it would be worth making again.

Thursday – One Dish Chicken Macaroni Casserole from Farmhouse Rules, Garlicky Wilted Spinach

This is deconstructed Coq au Vin. Tasty but too intense for a weeknight. Pro: Got another freezer meal out of the deal!

Miscellaneous – Earth Cookies


Someday, I won’t need to make these anymore.  Except then I’ll probably be making them as “cookies” for my child.  So there’s no escape, really.

Baby Updates

Where to even begin.

  • We have now introduced dairy (greek yogurt and cheese), scrambled eggs, peanut butter and raspberries and no allergic reactions after three days of each so thank God.  We don’t have allergies in our family but I feel like they’re so much more prevalent these days that you just never know.
  • It seems like we are finally coming out of two months straight of teething/growth spurts/sleep regressions/leaping and it feels really good.  He still isn’t sleeping through the night (and by that I mean he wakes once or twice, depending on when his first waking is) but we’re getting back to a place where we are getting REM cycles and he isn’t screaming and GOD that is so important.  But, he might be starting to cut more teeth and he is the type of tot where it is impossible to be REALLY sure until it starts to break through the gum so, party time!
  • On that note, I just want to take a note to acknowledge that I have gotten exactly two full nights of sleep since January 28 when I went into labor.  I only say this because Marcus was astonished at the size of our coffee pot and exclaimed that it was a half gallon and I said that yes, over the course of the day, I was drinking nearly a pot of coffee (half in the morning!  half in the afternoon!).  I know this is just a season and most of the time I think we’re doing pretty darned well for ourselves but it’s good to remember that there is tired and then there is this place that we are in and that literally any functional thing that we do is a tally in the victory column of The Human Spirit.
  • Pacis. We have many. I have purchased even more as we switch from Soothies (for babies without fangs) to the Nuk. As I provision our house as well as our parents’ we are dropping all the $$$.
  • Only four months left of nursing.  As I look at the two trips I have coming up (DFW, NYC), I have to take stock of what my frozen milk stash looks like so I can see if I can make it through the first trip without having to introduce formula.  Since the first trip is longer than the second (and I will be pumping and bringing milk home), I’m thinking that there should be more than enough milk for while we’re in NYC.  Who knew this would be something that I had to care about?
  • This situation also compelled me to purchase a hand pump because I’d prefer to check my electric pump instead of having to carry that onto the plane.  I’m really hoping I can avoid pumping on the plane/in airports, but I need…a backup plan.
  • ECFE has just been a blast.  It is so fun to have a place to on Thursdays.  Critter gets to play with new friends.  And new toys.  And sing songs.  All things that he loves.  I get to talk to adults, which I love.  Only con, unless he takes a great morning nap (this is not a frequent occurrence), he is either going to fall asleep at some point during the class or I am going to have to fight to keep him awake for our drive home so he can take a real nap in his crib at home.
  • Marcus and I both got our flu vaccines last week.  Critter will get his at the beginning of November at his next appointment.
  • We have finally said farewell to Playmat and Monkey Seat because Critter has outgrown them.  I ordered an activity table that arrived on Monday.  Real talk: I ordered the cheapest one because when Critter sits at it, he is able to reach over it and when he is standing up, it is already at waist-height.  This is what is so tricky about being a tall baby.  Also thrilling: removing Playmat and Monkey Seat frees up some floor space which makes my heart a little bit lighter.
  • Night diapers: I don’t know if I ever provided an update on this.  A few months ago (who knows when, really), I ordered Thirsties inserts, that we add to Critter’s regular prefold diaper at night.  They’re hemp and they  really do a great job of wicking away and absorbing moisture (AKA the pee).  Glad we bought them, if you’re a cloth-diaperer, would support you in purchasing these as well.

Grow Where You Are Planted (Or Not At All…It’s Okay. Really.)

I had some plans about what I was going to share from our High Holidays this year.  What I wore.  What we made for dinner.  Fluff and stuff.

The reality is that these high holidays have, like so many other aspects of the first year of parenting, been grueling.  I have worn pants to services so that I could more easily get down on the ground with my child.  I have schlepped across the sanctuary with a North Face backpack-turned-diaper bag on my back, more closely resembling a back country hiker than a worshipper more times than I would like to count. I have more been attending services so that Critter could be passed around to doting family members than to actually pray.  This is such a precious and fleeting time – Critter chewing on programs, batting at faces, looking wide-eyed in awe at the vaulted ceiling. But it was Not Necessarily What I Had Envisioned So Many Months Ago. Not that I actually had something in mind. 

Watching Critter hear the shofar for the first time was a special thing.  As I thought about him participating in this mitzvah with eyebrows raised (where is the sound coming from? why so scary?) I thought about my own Judaism.  I have been attending high holidays seevices for 10 years, but as a Jew, this is only my seventh.

In the Torah, it is written that the seventh year is the sabbatical year.  A year of rest for the land.  A forgiveness of debts.  A chance to find  new ways to embrace our faith in God.  I have found some personal peace in acknowledging that for me too, this can be a sabbatical year.  I don’t have to be doing to be growing.

Even in all of this stillness, there has been newness.

We started our own Nachas List, inspired by this post.  I bought a notebook for us to capture our list ongoing in.  We wrote our proud moments for Critter together, and then we each took a moment to write out our proud moments for one another.  Marcus was initially suspicious of this project, but after we read what the other had to say and the warm, glow-y feelings that followed, this is a tradition that will last.  I have tucked the book away in the cedar chest with our wedding photo album and our book of love notes, to be retrieved at Passover in 2017.

I also saw this blog post from The Times of Israel about how this Yom Kippur, we can engage in Positive Confession.  This really spoke to me this year.  There are easily a hundred different ways that I failed this year, knowingly and unknowingly.  But I think that in the year that I bore a child and embarked on what will be a lifelong journey of raising him, there is so much more Positive that I frankly, am obligated to focus on.  I have done the best hard work.

This year, in 5777 I will be content in where I am, in who I am.  I may not know what my future holds, but I know The One who holds my future.

Saving $$$: Emptying the Pantry

I’ve always been sort of impressed when people move and they start cooking meals exclusively out of their pantry/freezer so they can minimize the amount of food they have to move.  Or people who put a freeze on their grocery shopping until they’ve eaten what’s at home.

We cook a lot and we have a pretty well-stocked pantry.  This is largely because based on the volume of cooking we do, I want to be able to have nights where we change our plans and we still have all the ingredients we need on-hand.  We’re also at a point where based on what we typically cook, there’s a pretty standard set of things we need in the pantry in order to survive.

With that in mind, I don’t think that a purchasing freeze is quite right for us because my goal is not to empty our shelves.  But our pantry is not perfectly efficient and so last week, I went through all of our cabinets and both of our freezers and inventoried all of the things I felt that we had to eat for the sake of cleaning the place out.

I ended up with a pretty significant list.

I am of the belief that if we commit to eating our way through this list through the end of the year, we will end up slashing our grocery budget simply because these sides and main courses will take the place of other purchases we would have made.  Since I don’t totally know what to expect in terms of savings or what type of real difference this makes for us, I’ll try to share what I learn along the way.  I’ll note the meals that we make using our list of ingredients.  And at the end, once we know what the real budgetary impact was, I’ll share that as well!


The last time I watched a marathon was probably nearly ten years ago.  I was still in college and over that period of time, a few sorority sisters decided they would like to train and run one.  I remember those fall mornings, standing on Minnehaha Parkway, watching them run by.

Today Whitney was registered to run the marathon and even though I am honestly the worst race spectator ever (this probably also has to do with the fact that I don’t like running with other people) I bundled up with my coffee and a bag full of cowbells, snacks and water (for me) and headed down to Lake Bde Maka Ska (FKA Calhoun).

My relationship with running right now is fraught.  I am not doing it.  I haven’t run regularly in nearly a year now.  I still consider myself “a runner” and yet I am not running at all as a combination of choice and circumstance.  The time simply doesn’t exist if I want to enjoy time with my son, spend time with my husband, eat a hot meal at night, or rest.  All of these things are non-negotiables to me but I cannot stop thinking of the people who would sacrifice food and rest in a heartbeat to move their feet.  Sometimes I doubt myself and think If only I was stronger.  More efficient.  More organized with my time.   But in my heart I know that I am.  I am doing the best I can with Right Now.  I have committed to starting again when Critter either starts sleeping through the night regularly (and I can wake before him), or when he starts to take a regular nap of at least an hour at some point during the day.  Then we can begin again.  Just not yet.

As I approached the Basilica driving down the  I-94 exit, I rolled down my windows so I could listen to the bells ringing for the runners.  It was really too cold for that, but this is the only time of year that they ring the bells for Other People and it is the nicest sound.

When I pulled my car over and parked it on the street, I saw dozens of other cars filled with people bundled up, getting ready to go and watch also.  Door after door opened and out hopped a cavalcade of spectators.  Some with signs.  Some with coffees.  Some with phones that they were eyeing intently.  Some ran toward the lake, afraid that they would miss Their Person.  Others enjoyed the walk around one of our prettiest lakes.  There were people on bikes and people in wheelchairs.  Moms.  Dads.  Grandparents.  Friends.  Babies.  Kids.  All traveling in the same direction.

Who are you here to watch? I asked.  Friends.  Fiances.  Brother-in-laws.  All Our People.

The lakes are one of the noisiest places to run and to watch.  From a half mile away I could hear the whooping and the clacking of the cowbells.  And then I was whooping and ringing my cowbell too.  Because I arrived so early, I didn’t see Whitney for nearly 40 minutes.  Even shouting for strangers, I had the best fun.