dinner: the playbook (part 4, or “i can’t stop trying these recipes out!”)

i’ve now made three more recipes from dinner: the playbook.  first up–buttermilk herb baked chicken fingers.  one thing i was surprised by was the color of the chicken fingers when they were done baking–white as skeleton fingers!  i popped them under a broiler for a few minutes and got a bit of brown, but despite the pale color, they were nicely crunchy (at least on the top… the bottom sides were a bit soft). IMG_3417 i thought they were delicious, but mr. happy stuff was lukewarm on them and i had to coax the happy little dude to eat one (his eating habits are soooo unpredictable these days!).IMG_3419

the good part about their response was that there were two chicken fingers leftover.  which i then toasted a few days later and used to top this salad which was super fantastico delicious!  i almost want to make more chicken fingers so that i can eat this salad again…. but i don’t really use a lot of boneless, skinless chicken breast since (when you’re eating locally sourced, small farm chicken) it’s such a pricey cut. IMG_3443 i also happened to have some rice leftover from some rare chinese takeout that made its way into our house last week, so i tried out the crispy rice omelet.  this isn’t the prettiest photo (i barely remembered to snap a shot before it was eaten), but it was yummy.IMG_3459 the most recent recipe to get tried out was the chicken parm meatballs and i have to say they are by far the biggest winner of all the recipes we’ve tried from the book so far.  the happy little dude asked for seconds and at them with gusto.IMG_3471after much wheedling, i was able to convince him to save three for a lunch later this week.  doesn’t it look handsome? i’m a bit jealous that he’ll be the lucky recipient of this lunch.  i’m adding a note to this recipe:  make a double (or possibly triple) batch.  (apparently, it freezes well too!)IMG_3472

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movie monday: chatty baby

someone’s getting talkative!

chatty baby from carissaabc on Vimeo.

flashback to another chatty baby

another flashback

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dinner: the playbook (part 3)

seriously, i did bookmark some recipes that weren’t purely familiar comfort food, but when my boy asked for pizza and it was just the two of us for supper that night (another frisbee night), i couldn’t resist trying out the pan-fried whole wheat pizzas.  once again, a familiar recipe with a new technique. IMG_3364this one? this one was an unqualified hit.  it really was easy and way more delicious than the pita pizzas we’ve been using as our emergency last-minute pizza option.  definitely going to do this again.  but next time, i’ll make sure i have more of my favorite toppings so i’m not left with “just cheese.”  also, i recommend not doing this when the baby is starvingly hungry and you’re the only parent in the house so you’re forced to choose between burning your pizza or letting the baby scream while you put her down for just a minute to go and check on it.

IMG_3365 IMG_3363

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dinner: the playbook (part 2)

IMG_3360the second recipe that i knew i could pull off on a working weeknight was the spinach and feta omelet.  the technique she describes is a bit different than the one i usually use, so i followed it as closely as i could, although it’s hard to know exactly how hot the skillet should be, so i may have overcooked it in an effort to avoid raw egg, but the parts that weren’t overcooked were a wonderful texture and flavor (reminiscent of my old family favorite spinach souffle recipe).

IMG_3357the happy little dude has recently decided that he “hates eggs” so i just made him one with simple sharp cheddar and convinced him to eat half of it.  mr. happy stuff was playing ultimate frisbee that evening, so i still have no idea if he would have liked it or not.  again, not a new recipe, but a new (to me) technique that bears a repeat attempt.

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dinner: the playbook, challenge (part 1)

photo 3as soon as i read about jenny rosentrach’s most recent challenge, i signed up.  i was thrilled to be one of those selected to participate (a free advance copy of her upcoming cookbook?  $50 gift card to target?  yes!!!).  my book and gift card arrived in the mail last week and i eagerly opened it and began combing through the recipes.  we are still in that lucky, blissful stage of new-baby-hood where friends are bringing us meals to help us with my transition back to work. on the days when we don’t have dinner delivered to our front door, i’m still figuring out how to juggle everything and we’ve been getting by with the “standby quickies” that have always been family favorites (chili, taco salad, pita pizzas, quesadillas, mac & cheese from a box, i’m sure you all know the drill).  i wasn’t sure how i was going to squeeze in three new recipes this week, buuuuuut… it turns out that jenny has thoughtfully included some “standby quickies”of her own in this book.  i’ve made three things from the book already this week and as soon as i can get my hands on some fresh dill, i’ll be cranking out a fourth recipe.

if you follow me on instagram or twitter, you’ve already seen sneak peeks of these, but i’m only just now able to sit down and blog them (i’ve got about a 20 minute window left, so maybe i’ll just do the first one for now).

on monday, for lunch (we were having dinner delivered by a friend, but i don’t work mondays, so i had a bit of time to make lunch), i decided to make her “easy homemade macaroni and cheese.” photo 2i almost felt like i was cheating (weren’t we supposed be trying to break out of our ruts?), but…. it wasn’t from a box, and i’ve been meaning to try mac and cheese from scratch for awhile to see if it would be as wildly popular with my boy as the boxed stuff is.   i was surprised at how quickly and easily the cheese sauce came together (and it wasn’t all lumpy like i’d expected it to be!  may have been because i only had whole milk in the house and so i used that??).  my boy doesn’t like anything “crunchy” (unless it’s a fresh veggie or fruit) and the bread crumb topping wasn’t going to fly with him, so i made my first alteration (true to jenny’s style) by topping only half of the dish with bread crumbs and serving him only the crumbless side.  i also shredded cheese over the top of his portion once it was on his plate (in a nod to the genius of noodles & co.) and threw some trusty baby carrots on the side and put it on the table next to the ambulance.

photo 4my own plate had a serving from the crumb side and some leftover carrot salad i’d made last weekend.  (and also some traffic cones because, y’know, safety first!

photo 5the verdict?  he finished his portion, but didn’t ask for seconds and when i packed it in his lunchbox the next day, he said he didn’t eat much of it  and the second day of “seconds” came back untouched.  i thought it was tasty, but a bit dry and i wondered why homemade mac and cheese almost always calls for the dish to be baked when you never bake the boxed stuff.  i haven’t given up on a homemade mac and cheese recipe and i liked the roots of this one.  the next time i make it, i’ll try skipping the breadcrumbs and the baking and just serving it fresh out of the pot.  it’ll be faster and creamier anyway.  i might even take it a step further and throw in a chunk of cream cheese (like noodles & co.) if i’m feeling especially decadent.   i wrote notes in my copy of the book.  that’s a good sign.

photo 1

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movie monday: sibling fun

my baby sister from carissaabc on Vimeo.

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tutorial: refreshing the elastic in best bottom diapers

IMGP8068-002it’s been awhile since i’ve done a tutorial and this one is fairly specific, but i didn’t find any other tutorials quite like this online, so i thought i’d share my solution to saggy elastic on cloth diaper covers.  although we use best bottom diapers, this tutorial would work on any similar diaper covers.  so… if your diapers look like the brown one below:

IMGP8067-001then your diapers could use some fresh elastic.

you’ll need these supplies:

IMGP8072the ball point bodkin is optional–you could use safety pins–but it’s a really handy tool that makes this job soooooo much easier.

step one:

IMGP8075make a tiny perpendicular incision in each end of the bindings on the legs and the back center of the diaper cover.

step two:

IMGP8077thread a 3-4″ piece of elastic through the end of the bodkin, then insert the ball-end into one of the incisions and pull it through.

IMGP8079IMGP8082IMGP8086step three:

when you get the elastic to the end, sew it with a compact zig-zag stitch both perpendicularly across and then parallel to the elastic.

IMGP8087 IMGP8090step four:

pull the bodkin all the way out and adjust the elastic to the tightness you desire, then zig-zag both directions again and trim any remaining elastic away.

IMGP8089IMGP8097that’s a little perkier!  just to be clear, in the brown diaper cover above, the inner gussets had 4″ elastics and the outer gussets had 5″ lengths.  when i compared the finished diaper to the brand new diaper (the green one above), i decided to change the lengths to 3″ and 4″ for subsequent diaper repairs.

that’s it!  i’d love to hear if this tutorial is helpful to you.  i’ve also replaced the velcro on these covers in the past, so if you’d like instructions on how to do that, let me know and i can try to put together a tutorial.


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movie mmmmwednesday: gabriel writes

i really tried to post this on monday, but there were technical difficulties. i considered waiting until next monday, but this is a timely topic, so here it is today. fair warning…. you may get bored or impatient in the middle if you’re not as fascinated with the development of kids’ writing skills as i (the librarian and early literacy nut) am. i humbly suggest that you at least skip to about the 4 minute mark for some of the cutest little soulful eyes you’ve ever seen.

Gabriel writes from carissaabc on Vimeo.

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movie monday: one more from our trip to texas

Gabriel’s First Driving Lesson from carissaabc on Vimeo.

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