Friday, April 18, 2014

Passover Crabcakes

We have been so busy this past week, that the Passover sting hasn't really affected me.  No crazy cravings for doughnuts or pretzels.  Meals in general have been a bit of a rush about, going from one seder to another, or throwing together some easy weeknight options.

Thatbaby is off from preschool this week for Spring Break.  Which wrecks havoc on Thatboy and my schedule.  He took the first part of the week, I took the second, and Thatmom is on toddler-duty until he's back to school next Wednesday.

The first half of the week, I do admit lunches were pretty boring - I packed myself grilled chicken and broccoli.  But when I was home, I had the use of a stove and microwave, so things were pretty good.  As for dinners, being home with Thatbaby gave me time to be pretty inventive.  Alright, so not so inventive.  Really just Passover reinventions of normal, typical food.  Like crabcakes and hush puppies.
Both are easy enough substitutions to Passover.  The best crabcakes are light on breadcrumbs anyway, and matzoah meal is a pretty good substitute.  Hushpuppies are a little more difficult, since the main ingredient is cornmeal.  I used a sweet potato base instead, mixed with matzoh meal, green onions, and eggs.  I think these have a little way to go.  I used my food processor to shred the sweet potato, but I think it needs to be a bit finer consistency, like pureed or grated.  We definitely liked the taste of the hush puppies, just not the consistency.

Passover Crabcakes
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup crab
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup matzoh meal
  • canola oil
  1. Combine mayo, eggs, green onions, Old Bay, and Worcestershire sauce.
  2. Stir in the crab, green onions, and matzoh meal.  Form into patties (This made 8 for me)
  3. Heat 1 inch of canola oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Cook each patty 1-2 minutes per side, until browned.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pollo Asada Fries

"You should blog about this" Thatboy told me as we tucked into dinner last night.  "Anytime anyone complains about Passover cooking, you just point them right to this meal."  

To say last night's dinner was a hit would be an understatement.   Originally, I was going to just make "cheesy taco chicken" - chicken breasts cooked with taco seasoning and cheese baked on top.  I wasn't sure exactly what to do about sides, trying to choose between green (salad) and starch (mashed potatoes).  Neither seemed to fit.  Then I was struck with a brilliant idea - french fries!

For those of you not from Southern California region, the idea of tacos and french fries might seem to be a strange combination.  But "papas" make a frequent appearance in San Diego Mexican cuisine.  Breakfast burritos contain french fries, as do "California Burritos" which feature them alongside carne asada and guacamole.  And of course there are the "if you're in San Diego, you must try" carne asada fries - which are basically nachoes with french fries instead of chips, topped with hot carne asada, cheese, guacamole, and salsa.

This is my take on those - since chips aren't Passover friendly, and a chicken breast by itself is oh so sad and lonely.

Pollo Asada Fries

1 chicken breast
1 can rotel
1 package chicken taco seasonings
1/3 cup water
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
french fries
2 cups monterey jack cheese, shredded

  1. Place chicken breast, rotel, seasonings, water, and oil in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.
  2. Shred chicken and return to saucepan and cook for another 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350.  Spread french fries in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Cover with shredded chicken and tomato mixture.
  4. Top with shredded cheese and bake about 10 minutes, until cheese melts.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Skirts and Stuff

A couple weeks ago, a bunch of us in my running group got together to make our very own running skirts.  I'm not an experienced seamstress by any means, but I know the basic concepts, and I know my way around a sewing machine.  Just please don't ask me to change the stitch type, and apparently you're supposed to backstich (who knew?).

I made 2 different types of skirts at the get-together.  A tutu - which I knew how to make from The Color Run a couple years back (although Jurisslave made our tutus for that one), and an actual fabric running skirt.

Making the running skirt was relatively easy, but time consuming!  One of the ladies brought her skirt, and I used that for a template, spreading it out over my fabric, and then pinning and cutting one big circle. 

Step 2 was folding it into fourths and cutting a hole in the top.  Then cutting up the side so I could open it up into one strip of fabric and recut that top hole to fit around my waist.

Then lots and lots of pinning the bottom hem and the top elastic.  And sewing round and round.  Then all I had to do was sew the ends of the fabric together where they opened and form a seam.  I wore the skirt for The Neon Run this past weekend, and it was perfect!

It was easy enough that I'll probably make a couple more skirts for some other races I've got coming up this year.

As for the tutu, that just involved tying strips of tulle around a piece of elastic.   And I've already worn it twice!  Once for the tutu run my running group did, and once for the Adventure Run I also did this week.  Cripes, all that hard work last month really paid off this week!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Happy Passover Everyone!

On Friday I attended the Passover Concert for Thatbaby's school.  Despite being so excited about the concert, practicing his songs all week, and doing phenomenal (from what I heard) at the dress rehearsal the week before, when push came to shove, someone got a case of the stage frights.  He refused to sing or even stand with his class, only wanting to cry in my lap.

Next Year in Jerusalem!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mommy Mondays: Bedtimes

Are there things your parents made you do that you hated?  Yeah.  Parents are the worst.

But you know what is even worse?  When you grow up and realize that their rational for making you doing those hated things actually made sense.

For me, the rule I hated and couldn't understand was the 7:30 bedtime my parents imposed. So early!  I think it went up to 8pm when I was 13, and stayed there until the summer after my senior year of high school.  The early bedtime wasn't really for me and my brother's immediate benefit, it was more of a long term benefit - the early bedtime was so my parents could have some adult time.  Time without children and their infinite needs.  Which, they argued, made them better parents, and us a happier family.

Although it was something I hated as a child and young adult, I can respect the idea.  And it was something Thatboy and I knew we were going to institute with our own children.  And we have.  I know plenty of people who put their children to bed at the same time they go to sleep, but for us, Thatbaby goes to bed as early as we can get him to bed so Thatboy and I can have some time to reconnect after the day. 

When I first got pregnant, Thatboy and I discussed how we weren't going to let having a baby drive a wedge between our relationship.  And it's something we have to work on.  Because a child requires a lot of your attention.  And a child means there are much fewer date nights, or impromptu weekends away.  There's just less time for you as a couple, unless you make time.  It's important for us to eat dinner as a family, so the evenings after Thatbaby goes to bed are the times we make for each other.

So the goal is to get Thatbaby in bed around 7:30, although it's usually closer to 8pm.  And why I totally advocate getting your kid to bed as early as you can  (which is obviously going to be different for each child).

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Runday: Seaworld Pole to Pole 5k

2 weeks ago I happened to discover that there was a race through SeaWorld set for April 6.  It was a 5k that round through the park, before the park was even open.  For years I had been doing a similar race through the San Diego Zoo and it was my favorite race in San Diego.  Something about being in the park before opening hours was exciting and made for memorable experiences as most of the animals were more alert and awake in those early morning hours.  And there were animal encounters where they brought some of the animals out of their enclosures.  So I thought the "Pole to Pole 5k" would be a fun experience Thatbaby would really enjoy.  

The only problem was, I already had a playdate scheduled for the same day with Little Parrot and BA.  I shot out a quick email to the other moms to see if they wanted to change "playdate" into a "race at SeaWorld date."  They were both in.   When I told Thatbaby he was going to do a race with Little Parrot and BA, he was quick to add in "And Lexus."  Every.Time.  So another email to another mom and Lexus was ready to join the boys for a race. 

Seriously - look how happy my kid was to see his buddy.  Who he had seen 2 days earlier at school.

We managed to arrive in 2 groups, which was purely coincidence, but made it very easy to gather our little ragamuffin group together.  From the start, the kids were fascinated with the fish.

We got them all bundled up in their strollers, even the reluctant, non-stroller loving ones (peer pressure for the win!) and started the race.

We made our way through a very quiet park, stopping to check out some friendly characters, and many of the exibits.  We saw the whales, dolphins, rays, and flamingos.

The kids vacillated between contently riding in their strollers, and wanting to run run run.

And of course, all that running makes you thirsty, so they loved stopping for water breaks.  Thatbaby continued to ask for WATER BREAK or MILK BREAK for a couple days after the race.

I'm actually really proud of our little crew.  They ran much more than I was expecting them too, and didn't start getting antsy until around 2.5 miles.  When Thatbaby and BA kept planning escape routes and running off course, which resulted in them both getting imprisoned in the stroller.

I had spoken with one of the coordinators during packet pick-up about the race and she said that last year the last person crossed at 8:55, 1 hour and 25 minutes after the race started.  I told her that would probably be us.  AND IT WAS!  At 1 hour and 25 minutes our rag tag little band crossed the finish and received our medals.

The post-race festivities were fantastic.  Hot breakfast burritos, muffins, apples, bananas, coffee, vitamin water and regular water.  The kids went crazy for the fruit, and the adults were happy to munch on burritos with our coffee.

The race included free entry into the park for the day, so after breakfast they rounded us out of the backstage area so we could go in through the front gates.  The boys loved the new Explorer's Reef where they could stick their hands in to pet sharks or have little fishies kiss their fingers.

And the Sesame Street Zone was a big hit with kid-sized rides.

We explored some more of the park, but around noon all the kids were starting to wear out.  It had been a very busy morning for them!  We grabbed some lunch and headed out.  Thatbaby was asleep before we hit the freeway.  Overall I think this was a fantastic race.  Very well run and organized, and it was nice to be in an uncrowded park, taking your time, when you have a small child with you.  The kids had a fantastic time, and a free ticket to stay and play after was a nice addition.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Slow Cooker Ratatouille with Goat Cheese Polenta

For Thatboy, Easter means ratatouille.  It's a very weird connection.  Ratatouille is hardly a spring food.  Taking advantage of vegetables like tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant it really is a summer dish.  At the same time, since it's so thick and stew-ey, I could certainly make an argument that it's a great fall dish.  But TMIL makes it every Easter.  Served alongside lamb, it's a rather heavy meal.

This winter Joanne posted a great, wintery ratatouille.  Sure it had tomatoes, but it also has kale, squash, and potatoes.  TMIL serves her ratatouille as a side on its own, but I always like it with polenta.  Joanne must agree with me because she serves hers over polenta too - creamy, cheesy, polenta!  Just in case you also think ratatouille is an Easter dish, here's the scoop:

Source: Eats Well With Others

2 large eggplants, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tbsp coarse salt, plus more to taste
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 lb fingerling potatoes, quartered
1 bunch kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
2 tbsp butter, divided
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium red onions, halved and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup tomato paste
28 oz whole peeled tomatoes
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 cup vegetable broth
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups polenta
4 oz goat cheese
freshly ground black pepper

  1. Put the eggplant in a colander and sprinkle with the salt, tossing to combine. Drain for 45 minutes.  Rinse and dry with paper towels.
  2. Spray the slow cooker with olive oil. Add the butternut squash, fingerling potatoes, and kale to to the slow cooker, tossing to combine.
  3. Melt 1 tbsp butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add in the onions and garlic, along with a pinch of salt. Saute for 5-8 minutes, or until onions are tender. Add to the slow cooker.
  4. In that same pot, melt 1 tbsp butter with 1 tbsp olive oil. Whisk in the flour and tomato paste. Stir constantly until flour combines with the paste. 
  5. Slowly stir in the whole peeled tomatoes. Simmer, mashing the potatoes against the side of the pot, until mixture thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. 
  6. Stir in the Italian seasoning and vegetable broth. Add to the pot.
  7. Add the eggplant to the slow cooker. 
  8. Add in freshly ground black pepper and stir to combine. Cook on low for 8 hours, stirring halfway through.
  9. Before serving, stir in the basil and remove from heat.
  10. For the polenta, bring the vegetable broth and water to a boil. Stir in the salt. 
  11. Slowly whisk the polenta into the boiling water and lower to a simmer. Simmer until polenta reaches desired consistency, stirring frequently, anywhere from 15-30 minutes. 
  12. When polenta is done, stir in the goat cheese and black pepper.
  13. Serve ratatouille atop a big scoop of polenta.

Verdict: Keeper!!

Thatboy loved this.  Which is good, because the recipe made a lot.  So he had it for lunch leftovers too.  Thatbaby liked it more than he thought he would, although he did mostly just eat the potatoes and squash.  And polenta.  Kid likes polenta.