I love this piece, but why does it take finally being a mother for young women (and some older women) to understand that working mothers pull their weight – and then some — at work? The mom shaming has to end. If you hear someone at work disparaging a working mother, speak up. Most likely, if she’s not there at 7:00 PM, she’s there at 8:00 AM — and most likely working after she puts her kids to bed, too. Don’t wait until it’s your turn to demand respect for working women and moms — demand it now.
Grouchy much? I am — and I’m not alone. I had (rare) brunch plans with friends yesterday and the chief topic of discussion was how crotchety we’ve been lately — it turns out a lot of us are snapping at spouses and kids with abandon this winter. Saturday was one of those days. We went out to run errands under a clear, blue sky and then — bam — within an hour a mini blizzard had us heading for home. That left me with the task of coming up with dinner and a way to entertain a restless child until bedtime. Diet be damned — this strain of cabin fever was calling out for a little comfort. The solution? Pasta (the answer’s always pasta, usually with cheese). I left some of the serious calorie- and fat-slashing efforts for another day and blog post. The kiddo helped me add the ingredients to the food processor, roll the meatballs, and then count them (over and over — because counting’s huge when you’re four). We ended up with juicy meatballs that were bursting with flavor and a sauce that was like buttah, because, well, there was butter in it.
Melt-In-Your Mouth Meatballs
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion (or 1/2 large), diced
1 pound lean ground chuck
3 Tbsp panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup of milk (whatever you have — skim, 2%, whole)
1/4 Tsp salt
A few turns of fresh cracked pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and drag out the food processor (insert clanging noise here as everything explodes from the cabinet). Chop the onion in half and peel the garlic, throw it in the processor and pulse until they’re broken down. Add the breadcrumbs, milk, and basil leaves and pulse for about a minute until incorporated. Then, add the meat, pulsing again until everything is evenly distributed. Shape the mixture in small golf ball-size meatballs and place them on a baking sheet.
Bake uncovered 15 to 20 minutes or until no longer pink in center. While the meatballs bake, whip up this quick sauce:
Like-Butter Tomato Sauce
I love Marcella Hazan‘s tomato sauce — it’s incredibly simple, yet incredibly delicious. I adapted it slightly based on what I had in the house (a little less butter and a few grape tomatoes thrown into the mix). It’s SO good.
3 Tbsp butter
1 small onion (or 1/2 large), diced
1 28-oz can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes
1 cup grape tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened and lightly brown. Throw some grape tomatoes in, piercing them with a knife (so that the juice and seeds mix with the onion and keep it from burning) until they’re soft. Add can of San Marzano tomatoes, plus salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer. When the meatballs are done cooking the oven, add them to the sauce and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Will these spaghetti and meatballs blow up your Instagram feed? Maybe not. But they might just save your sanity.
The Lunch Lady
Another day, another bulb of celery root.
When your CSA gives you a monstrous-looking bulb of celeriac, you make celery root soup. Or, at least that’s what I did. If you’re reading this and thinking, “C’mon, what kind of kid eats celery root soup?!?” Well, mine. She’ll eat most anything in soup form — so soup’s on the menu a lot around around here. You can make this vegan by using olive oil instead of butter — I used butter, well, because I’m naughty.
Celery Root Soup
2 small onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 bulb of celery root or celeriac, cubed
2 Tbsp of butter or olive oil
2 32 ounce boxes of vegetable stock (I use the low sodium variety, but you could also use water)
2 sprigs of tarragon
1 Tsp salt
Fresh cracked pepper
Heat the butter or olive in a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot and…
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Now that it’s finally cold here in NYC, Operation Home Body is in full effect. And that means I’ll keep my tail home with my Pinterest boards and cookbooks at the ready, and maybe even get around to updating this blog a little more often. While I was away over Christmas, I wowed my nieces and nephews by making cocoa with nary a packet or powder, which made me realize, once again, that we’ve over complicated one of the simplest things on earth. On winter weekends, the kiddo and I fire up the frother and make an amazing cup of hot chocolate faster than you can boil water, rip open an envelope, and stir.
Here’s the ingredient list from our old friend, the Swiss Miss:
Ingredients: sugar, modified whey, cocoa (processed with alkali), hydrogenated coconut oil, nonfat milk, calcium carbonate, less than 2% of: salt, dipotassium phosphate, mono- and diglyderides, artificial flavor, carrageenan. Contains milk.
And here’s my version:
Decent quality dark chocolate and MILK — yup, that’s it.
Healthier Hot Cocoa
1 cup of milk of your choice (cow’s, goat, almond, whatever floats your boat)
2-3 dark chocolate discs (I use Jacques Torres’ baking discs for everything), or about a tablespoon of dark chocolate chips — look for about 60% dark chocolate to add just the right amount of sweetness
A sprinkle of cinnamon
Using frothing attachment on your coffee machine, or in saucepan on your stove top, scald the milk until it’s very hot. Drop 2-3 baking discs into the bottom of mug and pour the milk on top. Stir to “melt” the chocolate at the bottom of the cup. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve!
Love this recipe from Bunny Kitchen:
A new Asian market opened up in my neighborhood a few months ago and I finally ran in to check it out. An hour (and an overflowing cart) later, I came home with frozen mini Chinese buns to add to my lunch arsenal. I ended up dragging them out on a day I needed a quick fix, and threw together a low-rent version of chicken “banh mi.” The kiddo loved it and I used up some leftovers and death-row veggies from the crisper in the process. This might be my version of #winning.
Chicken Banh Mi
2 mini Chinese buns
1 small cucumber
4 baby carrots, shredded or sliced
1/2 shredded chicken
1/2 Tsp. hoisin sauce
Defrost mini buns, slice veggies and chicken, assemble sandwiches, squirt with a little hoisin, and go!
What I’m packing tomorrow…
1 onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 box of chicken stock
4 cups of water
3/4 cup carrots, shredded
1 large bunch of bok choy, kale, or any other green leafy vegetable, chopped into small pieces (I used bok choy)
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup firm tofu, cut into small pieces
1 cup cooked chicken breast, diced
4 packets prepared udon noodles (or one pound dried)
Heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot and sauté garlic, onion, and ginger until translucent. Add the box of chicken stock, carrots, your leafy vegetable, and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. When the vegetables have cooked down a bit, add 4 cups of water, the tofu, chicken, and soy sauce — allow the soup of to cook for about 15 minutes more. Taste the soup and add a bit more soy if it needs more flavor or tastes too watery. Add the udon noodles and cook until they break apart and expand in the soup. Remove from heat and add 1 Tablespoon each chopped mint and cilantro; let them to wilt into the soup. I served the soup tonight with additional fresh chopped herbs, but I’ll omit those in the thermos tomorrow.
I love this soup because I can make it with anything I have in the fridge — miso paste instead of stock, kale, spinach, or salad greens instead of bok choy, fresh or frozen veggies, vegan, vegetarian, or meat-based — you name it. You can also control the time — taking it from this 30-minute soup to a 10-minute quickie with just a few items. The kiddo loves the thick, supremely slurpable udon noodles, along with the tender veggies, chicken, and tofu.
The only thing missing was a perfectly boiled egg on top. Next time…
The Lunch Lady
Okay, I know what you’re thinking: Chocolate-covered apples for lunch? I get it — they’re not exactly brown-bag material. But after an amazing day at the pumpkin and apple farm, it seemed like the right thing to do. I melted dark chocolate baking chips in a make-shift double boiler and started dipping. I let them rest on parchment paper in the fridge until the chocolate was set. The next day, I cut the apples and packed a couple of slices in her lunch bag. They were a hit!
The kid has finally mastered staying upright under the weight of the backpack so I dragged out the PlanetBox this past week. It was depressingly dreary in the mornings so these photos are a bit drab. The lunches, however, have been a hit!
In this lunch box:
- Turkey and cheese sandwich (cut with kitty cat cookie cutter)
- Celery and carrots
- Apples and pears
- Dark chocolate, raisins, and dried cranberries
Here’s to better-looking photos this week!
The Lunch Lady