Friday, April 17, 2015

30

My twenties have come to an end! Honestly, I feel like I turned 30 like 3 years ago when we got married, bought our house and got sweet Benji. But now today is the day. I'm not one to sit around and reflect all the time, but I realize I have lots to be thankful for and so many great, positive experiences from the past decade. And this blog was such a big part of it for almost 7 YEARS now! Whoa!

While you may remember my 26th birthday and the Julia Child dinner party (all sass, right?!), my 30th birthday celebrations have been fun and relaxed - just what a new mom needs! We enjoyed kayaking on Town Lake with friends, then we hit up some food trucks and bars on Rainey Street. It was our first time hiring a babysitter which made me a little (ok a lot) nervous, but once we were out there we were stress-free, and everything went well! Of course, Emmett decided to wake up 3 times that night (NOT usual) just to make sure we didn't forget we were parents ;)



And last night Luke and I had a lovely dinner at Arro. I've only ever been for HH, but dinner was divine! The lobster bisque, filet au poivre and chocolate pot de creme (not to mention some pink bubbles on the house and red wine) all hit the spot :)
 
 
I'm excited to celebrate my 30th with my family this weekend. It's so exciting because I rarely get to see my family on my ACTUAL birthday. Yay! But before we kick off family time, I started the day with a few things I hope to set the tone for my 30th year. A green smoothie then a nice long walk with Emmett to the doughnut shop for a little treat :) 




Recent snacks - I try to get at least 2 of 4 things in (whole grain, veggies, fruit and protein):
  • Avocado toast with diced mango
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Oat Balls
  • Banana with Justin's Maple Almond Butter
  • Green smoothies
  • Cheese and fruit
  • Deviled eggs (after Easter - yum!)


Our little Easter bunny!




Mango avocado toast - yum!


Other recent adventures? We went with some of our baby swim class friends to the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center for some fun in the sun and flowers with the babies. We all brought some picnic goodies and we spent several blissful hours there.

Thanks Faith Sams and her fantastic photo skills for capturing this!



And lots of dog walks! We love walking with one of Benji's besties, Charlie. Emmett has been digging outward-facing baby wearing.



Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Life (and food) with baby: part V

We've had a busy beginning of spring! Despite being sick a couple weeks ago and still feeling the lingering affects last week, we've been out and about and still cooking plenty. Don't worry, if you stick with the post I've got a recipe to share at the bottom!

While I was sick, Luke was a champ and mastered front-facing baby wearing walks so he could also walk Benji while I mouthbreathed on the couch. 

Freelance recipe testing is going really well too! I went there last week and brought some bruschetta and also some mayonnaise recipes I tested. Yum :)

Swim class is going strong! Luke took a long lunch this week so he could join us. 

This week, Emmett and I hit up the Whole Foods Market Domain location to meet the Easter bunny. He wasn't super smiley, but he also didn't cry! I'll chalk that up to a win :)
I've been dying to try St. Phillip, and I also hadn't seen my friend Lundy in ages. Last Friday I knocked out two birds with one stone. Delicious pizza (and pastries for the weekend!) and great conversation :) I did a pregnancy and postnatal bootcamp at the Lululemon at the Domain on Saturday morning, so I had just enough time to shove some of those tasty pastries in my mouth before a TOUGH workout. I'm still feeling it!

 
I'm finally pulling up the last of our winter garden - oh, how I've enjoyed those fresh greens for impromptu salads! And our carrots are always late to mature, but they've come in handy the last couple of weeks! I roasted some up along with some parsnips we grew to toss with some paprika, cumin, chipotle, balsamic vinegar and avocado oil to roast up for a salad. Don't forget the crumbled feta!
 

 I busted out the breadmaker that Luke's mom used when he was a kid the other week. There's nothing like the smell of fresh-baked bread...

 And other various eats lately. It's been a yummy couple of weeks!
Morning PB&J oatmeal
Eating outside!
Pizza night!
Vegetarian Quiche using goodies already in the fridge - grilled veggies, feta and pesto. Made the crust with half white flour, half whole wheat pastry flour!


Vegetarian Pesto Quiche
This is a great make-ahead dish - perfect for nap time! Just pop it back in the oven to warm it slightly before you serve.

1 cup and 1 tablespoon flour (I used half white and half whole wheat pastry flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold
3 tablespoons cold water
1 1/2 cups grilled veggies (I used asparagus, zucchini and red bell peppers)
1/2 cup cheese (I used crumbled feta)
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cup milk (I used 2%, whole would be better!)
1/4 cup pesto
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375.

Mix flour, salt and sugar in a mixer. Cut butter and add to flour mixture and stir until there are pea-sized clumps. Add 3 tablespoons cold water, more if needed, until the dough starts to get a little sticky (but not too sticky). You want to be able to form a loose ball with your hands. Lay out dough on a floured surface and roll with a rolling pin. Transfer it to a pie pan.

Add the veggies to the crust and top with cheese. Whisk eggs, milk, pesto and salt and pepper in a bowl then pour over veggies. Bake 50-60 minutes until the quiche is set (not jiggly if you shake it a bit). Let cool before you bake.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Life (and food) with baby: part IV

In case you missed it, I've caught y'all up on how cooking and eating has changed (and hasn't changed) in our house since Emmett was born. I also shared the latest and greatest of breakfasts and dinners. But now for what has become party time for us - lunch!

Lunch is almost always fun for us for one of two reasons: Daddy comes home or we go on an adventure! We're fortunate to live just two miles from Luke's work, so he's able to sneak away most days to enjoy lunch with his two favorites :) And on days when Luke doesn't come home, it's usually because we've got sassy plans out. 

Since spring is now here in full force (at least that's what my allergies tell me - wah!), I invited Rachel and Amity on a picnic at Mayfield Park last week. It was beautiful there, and the peacocks were strutting around per usual which was lots of fun. It had been years since I'd been there, and unfortunately our strollers weren't cutting it on the stone path, so we ditched them and rocked our Baby Bjorns for a little hike. I got the cutest little sun hat for Emmett, but didn't get any good pics of it (this time, at least!). Besides the fine weather, I was inspired by the desire to make chicken salad. I've officially entered the world of professional recipe testing (WOOHOO!) and have been testing out mayo recipes for a client, so I had lots of mayo in the fridge, so I thought chicken salad was the best use for some of it :)




Emmett and I have had a blast going to baby swim class at Emler Swim School here in Austin with a couple other baby (and mom) friends. He already loved tubby time, so it came as no big surprise that he loves swim class. And, he looks SO cute in his little swim trunks :) E is usually super tired after swim class, so I'm able to run to the grocery store, feed myself and get stuff done around the house all while he sleeps (after the first class, he took a FOUR HOUR NAP!). 
My mom came to visit one week, so she came along to swim class and took lots of great pics. THANKS MOM!
  
What a determined little swimmer :)


I've also enjoyed meeting friends out to lunch (both working peeps and fellow moms). Some recent delicious spots have included Kome, Lucky's Puccias new brick and mortar, Z Tejas, 24 Diner, Food Heads and Roaring Fork (note, this was the first time E was actually awake for all of lunch - when he was 2-3 months, he kept sleeping through all my lunch dates!).

Pizza at Lucky's - DELICIOUS!

Sassy gumbo at the Farmer's Market - #putaneggonit

Kome sushi - yes please!
 Lunches at home really aren't all that different from before Emmett was here. Since I love to cook, I make a fun new dinner every night. I always make enough for leftovers, however, so lunchtime planning is a breeze (but usually not any more than that, I hate eating the same thing over and over again all week!). On the rare day when I don't have leftovers handy, I always have the essentials for a kitchen sink salad - grains to cook up fast, greens in the garden, whatever veggies in the drawer, canned beans, and a homemade dressing I can easily whisk up in the bowl and then just add the other ingredients to it and toss together (my go-to is equal parts Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil with S+P). Oh, and don't forget a sprinkle of feta or freshly chopped cheddar :)

Lunchtime fun - using the "R" brand we got from Luke's parents to brand our favorite tortillas

Tacos made new with fresh cooked tortillas for lunch! Why I love Margarita's
 That's all for now!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Life (and food) with baby: part III

Hello again! As I mentioned, I'm still cooking up a storm around here, though I do things a little differently now that baby Emmett is around. I caught you up on breakfasts (though I forgot to mention breakfast tacos, which are still a house favorite, but usually only on the weekends).

My kitchen organizational skills kick into high gear in order to make dinner a tasty, timely and non-stressful affair. I take into account our schedule for the day when I'm making meal plans, so that if I'll be out and about, I keep the prep time minimal. Or, if I anticipate Emmett being pretty fussy and hands-on during dinner prep, I'll make sure it's not a super temperamental dinner that requires exact timing or it tastes bad (like a sauce that needs constant stirring, or a high-heat cooking situation that might burn if I have to step away for a moment (or 20).

But before I share a few recent wins, hello from Emmett!
Happy St. Patrick's Day, y'all!
I thought I've be making a lot more pasta these days, but surprisingly I haven't. That said, this Bacon and Shrimp Pasta Toss from Cooking Light came together in seconds (I used greens from the garden, and I added in some sundried tomatoes from the fridge - what is this, 1994??). 
 I want to put this tahini sauce on EVERYTHING. I did a riff on this Cauliflower and Chickpea Quinoa with Tahini Drizzle from Cooking Light adding chicken and subbing in broccoli (it was on sale, otherwise I totally would've used cauliflower, my looooove). I love recipes like this because you can prepare each component separately ahead of time, if needed (i.e. cook the chicken, prepare the quinoa, roast the veggies and whisk the sauce) and then either rewarm and toss together, or even enjoy at room temp.

 We like keeping tamales in the freezer to then build an easy meal around them. One of my go-to's is roasted sweet potato with tamales. This one I also topped with diced avocado and queso fresco. I also love topping baked sweet potatoes with black beans and sauteed greens, or with chili.

This Balsamic Chicken with Walnuts and Olives was a weeknight win for sure. I wisked together the sauce, toasted and chopped the walnuts, and chopped the shallots ahead of time. Then, I went ahead and did a tahini lemon dressing and tossed the kale salad (because bonus! kale tastes better if you like it hang out in dressing for a while!). When I got the call from Luke that he was headed home, I fired up the pan for the chicken and dinner was finishing up when he got home 10 minutes later. BAM.

Another freezer go-to? Delicious ravioli! I never kept it in the freezer before, but I love having it around to toss with whatever veggies I have on hand that I roast. No sauce needed - just a little olive oil, parm and salt and pepper.

That's it for now - more weeknight dinner successes soon! 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

An evening at Counter 3. five. vii

Life with baby has been a blast, but Luke and I are always looking for fun ways to enjoy time with just the two of us. When we got invited to the media dinner to try out Counter 3. five. vii I JUMPED at the chance because a) we'd heard a lot about it b) it's fancy pants and new and c) DATE NIGHT! Thanks to the lovely Meg (the reason for my vacation in Portland back in 2013) and her husband Matt babysitting Emmett, we enjoyed a few baby-free hours filled with adult conversation, and some adult beverages.


Jason Huerta, their sommelier, is AWESOME. We were big fans of his and loved that he came over to our seats with every pairing in the seven course tasting menu to describe the selections he chose. And yes, there was a sherry and a beer on the list. I'm embarrassed to say I think that's the first time I'd tried sherry - I always thought it was what older ladies drank? It was fun trying pairings that were way beyond the expected.

Be prepared, the space is beautiful. The design is sleek and clean - kind of like a sushi bar/open chef's kitchen, except it's fine cuisine. It's posh while at the same time so welcoming - a great combination for a restaurant in my opinion. The only thing I was left wanting was a hook for my purse haha :)

We enjoyed the seven course tasting menu, with pairings, which was a compilation of offerings from their different tasting menus (the name says it all - they have tastings for three, five or seven courses). It was fun starting with an amuse bouche that featured a delightfully sweet and salty financier cake.

Some of the highlights for us included the pork jowl and the beef tongue (I didn't think I liked tongue, until I tried this one). Each plate was a piece of art and had such exciting, complex flavors. And, it was fun having the chefs and different servers talk about the different dishes, not to mention watching all the action in the kitchen! 


Lawrence Kocurek really knocked this one out of the park! I can't wait to try it again for another date night. Luke says this is the best dinner he had in well over a year :)


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Life (and food) with baby: part II

Hello again from babyland! Yesterday I was excited to announce that I'm embarking on a new chapter - that of stay-at-home mom. I'm so happy to get to continue to spend lots of time with sweet little Emmett, and hopefully get more time to keep on cooking, recipe testing and blogging. In that vein, I promised to update y'all on what we've been eating, so I thought I'd share the skinny on breakfasts.

We're lucky to have a baby who already sleeps through the night -- sometimes. Some days he wakes up when Luke does, so they breakfast together while I catch a few more winks. Other days, we're all up together at the same time. Either way, Emmett loves his "party chair" that vibrates and has a little musical disco ball, so I'm able to cook with both hands while he's happy too. Then, when it's time to eat, E moves to his activity mat so he can bat around at his toys while I eat and read the paper - and make silly faces at him of course!

The "party chair" - E is a fan!
Breastfeeding is no joke. I'm ALWAYS hungry, but especially in the morning after 12 hours of not eating! Not surprisingly, pancakes are still one of my favorites. Smothered with some Justin's Maple Almond Butter (I buy these by the armful whenever they're on sale!), these pancakes have some staying power.


I keep a container of my homemade whole wheat oatmeal pancake mix in the cupboard, so whenever I spot a super ripe banana in my produce basket, I know it's pancake day! Then I just mash it up, add an egg, milk and vanilla and scoop in my mix. It takes less than 5 minutes and only dirties one bowl. Bonus points if I have berries to add in. Negative points when a piece of bacon sneaks in on the side. :) And did I mention coffee? ;)

Toast and eggs are another favorite, whether it's avocado toast with a hard boiled or fried egg on top, or scrambled eggs next to a piece of jammy toast. Always with fresh fruit on the side!


 Other breakfast favorites are:
  • Microwave oatmeal with a scoop of nut butter, a scoop of jam or some homemade apple butter. Add fresh berries, banana slices or apples sauteed with a little butter and cinnamon and brown sugar. Don't forget a sprinkle of coconut flakes, pepitas or nuts!
  • Overnight oats when it warms up a bit. Equal parts oats, Greek yogurt and milk stirred together and refrigerated overnight, these are so easy the next morning if you don't have time to cook!
  • Breakfast tacos! These are still usually just a weekend affair unless I have already cooked potatoes around.
Being the breakfast lovers that we are, I have so much fun making it at home that we rarely go out for breakfast. But when Luke was still out on paternity leave, I couldn't pass up the chance to try Dai Due's new brick-and-mortar spot for breakfast. Y-U-M, whatever you do, get a place that has bacon on it! They cook it over an open fire so it's both perfectly crisp while melting in your mouth. Luke and I both loved it, and we rarely see eye-to-eye on the doneness of bacon :) We bought some from the retail portion of the shop to enjoy at home the next day - not quite the same, but still amazing.

Emmett did a great job as our breakfast date!

If you follow me on Instagram (apronadventures), I tag fun food photos with #newmomfood. You'll also get your almost daily #babyemmett photo fixes, if you're into that sort of thing ;)