Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Momma Like: January Suiting Up?

Looking to prep for a beach vacation.  (1) Take me in your luggage, (2) check out some of the adorable suits right now - first stop?  Jcrew's crewcuts where there are some adorable numbahs!  Love the Ruffelicious tank for $39.50 and this Biarritz for $49.50.  

Girls' Biarritz stripe ruffle-trim tank

If your little girl likes to stand out and you have the budget - check out this one from Growing Up with Garnet Hill for $68.  They also have a great hooded terry cover-up for $26.00 that reminds me of the Boden version without the price tag!

Goldfish Bandeau One-Piece Swimsuit - Girls

If you littles ones are more the athletic adventurous type that like to be in the sun all day without Momma spreading sunscreen every hour, check out the Landsend collection which you can order in a couple of sizes and just return what doesn't fit to your local Sears!  A great SPF 50 and budget version of the above Biarritz suit is this skirted cross-back tank for $29.50
Skirted Tank Swimsuit
or matching a surf-shirt with a great bottom for girls: 
Long Sleeve Classic Rash Guard ShirtSwimMini™
or boys: 
Long Sleeve Solid Rash Guard ShirtBoard Shorts
Last but never least, check out Target.  The girl swim stuff did not wow me this year, but lots of options for boys, including this Mossimo surf bottom $9.99 with the White Surf Shirt for $7.99!

Mossimo Red BB Hibiscus Floral Swim Bottom - XSCirco True White TB Rashguard - 3T

Even if your not heading south this year, its fun to dream about it - right?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Momma Like: January 2010: Good morning LLBEAN

Finally.  The moment we have all been waiting for.  LLBean has started to design for our generation and not just our parents.  The results will show themselves fully when the line launches in March, but for the meantime, you can preview a few items - including the above classic leather tote at the LL Bean Signature site.  LL Bean hired Alex Carleton, the founder of the famous dyed Rouges Gallery T-shirts as the new Creative Director and from the looks of the pics - he may have hit this one out of the park.  Want more info, check out Eric Wilson's article in the NY Times from August.  You can sign up for updates as these items are released mostly in the spring.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Buy of the Day: January 2010: Cashmere Sale!

Looking for a few more winter sweaters for the year?  Check out the 40-60% off sale at bambeeno for some great finds.  How about this cute crocheted cashmere washable sweater for $46.00?  Looking for a great shower gift?  Newborn cashmere booties for $22.00 are the perfect find.   

Monday, January 18, 2010

Momma Like: January 2010: Kind of a Big Deal

Kind of a Big Deal Print, Pink, Customizable

8x10 Alphabet Print, 7 colour choicesFinding wall art that is fun, adds colors and doesn't seem overly planned can be a challenge in your nursery.  Looking for something a little sassy?  Check out this personalized wall art that is cute today and that your kids will laugh at when they can read!  A classic etsy find that is chic and affordable (this one unframed is $15!), Penny People is loads of fun as a gift for your pregnant friend who already chose the name, or a one year old with a sense of humor.  Check out her alphabet framers that are adorable.  

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dinner for Eight on a Winter's Night

Having Eight for Dinner...
Last night we had some new friends over to meet more new friends in town. I wanted to keep it simple enough to have fun but be delicious and I had one person who does not eat red meat, and another who does not love fish, so I wanted to come up with a way to have any items that had either be side dishes with alternatives - here is the menu.

Raw Oysters with a Spicy Cocktail Sauce
A Cheese/ Antipasto Platter of Robusto, Fromagier D'Affinois, Ak-Mak, Crostini, Soppressetta, marinated olives, thinly sliced proscuitto and red grapes

Butternut Squash Soup with Saffron
Grilled Meatball Salad with Scallions and Arugula Topped with Shaved Parmesan
Homemade Bread
Homemade Parpadelle Carbonara - (see July 1, 2009 recipe)
Roasted Pears and Red Onions in Oregano

Dark Chocolate Truffles (made with reduced fat milk rather than cream!)
and my neighbor and baking aficionado is bringing: Coconut Cake - adapting a recipe from Epicurious 

My timeline:
Thursday: make the base for the Butternut Squash Soup in the evening, freeze
Friday: Make the truffles with the kids - one of their favorite activities
             make and Pre-poach the meatballs during their nap time and refrigerate.
Saturday AM: cut the pears, onions and oregano, toss with olive oil and refrigerate
              make the homemade pasta and let dry
              Precut the pancetta for the carbonara and put in a side bowl in the fridge
              Make the bread dough, let rise and bake

PM:   Before everyone arrives, prepare the antipasto platter, shuck oysters
          Set the table

Butternut Squash Soup with Saffron
2 butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup apple cider
2 vidalia onions, chopped
1 cup Chicken Broth or water for soup
2 cups chicken broth or water for roasting squash
1 cup Heavy Cream
Saffron - 2 large pinches
Crostinis and Sour Cream for topping

Cut in half and seed the two squash.  Put it in a pan skin side up with an inch of water - or even better - chicken broth- (about 2 cups in my pan) and place in the oven, turning on to convection or just bake at 400 for about 40 minutes or just until the squash is soft and easily pierced with a fork.
While the squash is cooking, melt the butter and heat with oil in a saucepan.  When the oil is hot, put in your onions chopped and cook on medium low for about 20 minutes stirring frequently.  Turn off and let the onions cool.
When the squash is done, let cool in the pan and peel.  In a blender ( I  find it works to a finer level than the cuisinart on this one) blend the cool squash and 1/2 cup of the remaining water in the pan until it is completely smooth.  Then blend the onions and oil from the pan in the blender.  Combine all that is blended.  If you are cooking in advance, this is a great place to stop and when all are cool, freeze in a ziploc freezer bag for up to five days in advance.  If not...

Put the mixture - now at room temp - in a soup pot and reheat to a simmer.  Add 1 cup of apple cider and 1 cup of chicken broth and let come to a simmer again, adding saffron and lightly salting.  Reduce heat to low and add cream until heat through.  Serve with a piece of crostini on top that is topped with a dollop of sour cream.  

Grilled Meatball Salad
This is my adaptation from a Lachian Mackinnon-Patterson recipe served by the owners of Frasca in Boulder Colorado at a dinner party photographed for Food and Wine magazine in 2008.  I do a few things differently in terms of the ratio of the meats, the substitution of pancetta for bacon and the addition of more greens (the scallions alone never seem enough at dinner parties).  Check out the original at Food and Wine's website.  I use 50% veal and 50% lamb, pancetta diced finely instead of bacon, and 2 cups of arugula as the base to the salad, drizzled with olive oil and the juice of 1/2 lemon.  Finally - a trick from my grandmother, I always add diced sultanas or yellow raisins to my meatballs as they soak up the juice of the meat as it loosens, rather than loosing them and having dry meatballs.  My husband is a great winter griller (must be Vermont blood in there) and its a great way for him to help out on one of the dishes!  One of my guests - and new friends- last night said, "meatball salad - I think that is going to be my favorite kind of salad," and I think I agree and now I am certain we will become old friends.  

photo copyrighted by Maura McEvoy -  from Food and Wine magazine

Homemade Pasta for 8 as dinner or 12 as appetizer

3 cups flour
5 jumbo eggs

Need: pasta roller, either manual with crank or the attachment to your Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer (this is the sort of thing you should by from Williams-Sonoma.  I had one crap out on me after owning it for two months, and Williams-Sonoma exchanged it in a heart beat.  Also check out their video on this page if you want a pasta making demonstration).

This is a family tradition dating back since Who knows when in my family - so though it may seem insane to some to make pasta, for my family, it almost seems insane not to.  The best part of homemade pasta, is that the kids LOVE to make it with you - as I did with my grandfather - so its a great way to keep them busy as you are preparing for a dinner party - its like PlayDoh that you can eat in the end!  

Measure out the flour and put on your counter, having your kids prepare a "pool" opening in the center.  Crack your eggs into the pool and lightly salt with ground sea salt or kosher.  

Whisk the eggs totally beating and then begin to bring in flour from the sides a little at a time.  When the mixture gets thick enough, put down the whisk and using your palms, fold flour into the eggs a little at a time around the circle until you have a dough.  Knead for a minute only until combined.  Breaking the dough into four parts, feed into the pasta roller on the biggest setting, folding each time and rotating the dough each time for about 15 times or so until you feel the gluten making the dough more elastic.  Then begin to putting the settings higher and higher (tightening the roller space to make the dough thinner and longer each time - like a 4 inch snake that's been flattened on the road - great image right?) When you have flattened on the highest setting twice, place the pasta on a cutting board and cut into 1 inch by 4 inch strips roughly.  I lay out on long sheets of parchment separating each layer with a sheet of parchment and folding in half to let dry for the day.  If you are serving another day, it tastes much better to dry the pasta on a rack than to refrigerate.  Repeat the process until all four parts of the dough are made into pasta.  

Place in a pot of boiling salted water and let cook about 2 minutes after boil starts up again - or until the pasta floats to the surface.  

See July blog for Carbonara recipe.  

Reduced Fat Dark Chocolate Truffles

This is my version of a Martha Stewart recipe that calls for whole cream.  Given the high antioxidant powers of dark chocolate, and the fact that its nutritional value is diminished by cream and sugar, I was anxious to find a way to make these healthy.  I think I achieved it but it is definitely somewhat harder to form into balls with the rediced fat, so be patient.  

1 lb. Callebut dark chocolate or other high quality like Valhrona - I used 62% cocoa
1/2 cup 2% milk
2 tablespoons pear brandy or Grand Marnier
Unsweetened Cocoa powder - high quality - I like Droste of Holland

Cut up/ Dice the Chocolate into small chunks and place in a stainless or heat proof clay bowl. Bring milk to a simmer, add brandy and pour over the top of chocolate with a pinch of salt.  Cover with aluminum foil and let stand for five minutes and then stir to smooth out the chocolate.  If for some reason you have difficulty, just put the stainless bowl over a pot of water that is near the bowling point and stir with a whisk until fully melted. Pour into an 8 by 12 baking dish and let cool in fridge until the chocolate is cold and thick but still able to be formed into balls.  Using a spoon, mini-ice cream scoop or melon baller, take out pieces and roll on a cold counter or parchment paper into a ball.  when it is fully round and smooth, roll into a bowl of cocoa powder.  Refrigerate and serve.   

Finally, the coconut cake .... my neighbor Pia brought over a cake that we all raved about.  (see photo above).  She started her recipe with an epicurious find, and made some changes to swap out a cream cheese frosting for a buttercream coconut.. I will see if I can get her to comment on those here!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Momma Like: January 2010: Book for a Gloomy Day

The Pout-Pout Fish
photo courtesy of
Are your kids having the winter doldrums or lagging getting back into the school routine?  Mine are and the best cure is the Blub Blub Blubs.  Check out Deborah Diesen's "Pout Pout Fish," a family favorite in my house for the dreary weary days when you need some cheering up.  Follow this little fish through his grumpiness until he finds just the right friend to turn his frown upside down.  Not only do my kids love it, but its a favorite to bring to birthday parties as a gift.  Ages 2-5.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Design: January 2009: A bedroom of grey and white

Birch Tree With Yellow Bird - Eco Felt Cushion Cover

Are you sick of grey yet?  I'm not.  A friend just painted her bedroom grey and did a headboard of grey and yellow in the bedroom and I thought it divine.  Some new inspirations, this pillow from etsy shop Sarah Smile Creations (photo courtesy of the Etsy site) creates a vision with a white duvet, a heather grey wool blanket and a black wooden bed frame.... white built-ins decorated in Martha Stewart's whiteware collection ...

Whiteware Collection

and filled with the over-blogged about clothbound Penguin classics that you can get right now for a steal at Amazon.   

Clothbound Penguin Classics

Pleasant Dreams.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Buy of the Day: January 2010: MORE sales!!!

Pink Chicken Sophia Dress Chambray

Some more great sales are on today!  Check out 30% off items at Tadpoles with amazing stuff right now including great clothes, shoes and toys for the kids with some items as much as 50% off!  My favorites?  This Pink Chicken Sofia Dress in Chambray for $50.40 and an Isabel Garreton Tweed A-Line Dress - great for next years Holiday parties at $58.80.  Want bigger savings?  Check out the 123 sale at GapKids and Old Navy - use code SAVE123 at Checkout for 15% off a sale over $75, 20% off with $100 and 25% off a sale of $150.  My pick at Old Navy - this Hello Kitty T for girls 5+ for $10.50 before the sale!

Food: January 2010: Healthy Eating: The O2 Diet


photo courtesy of InStyle Magazine

Looking for new ways to inspire your cooking, makes your kids healthier, and fight cancer and aging, check out the new O2 Diet.  Nutritionist to Hollywood, Keri Glassman's diet is based on the concept that if you eat high antioxidant foods that you will look and feel better and consequently be motivated to eat more of them - and as a bonus, will begin to lose weight.  Antioxidants give your body the power to fight the free radicals that cause cancer, aging and heart disease.  The great thing about high antioxidant foods is that they are the most delicious and super easy to increase in your children's menus.  My daughter, a huge sweet tooth, is a huge fan of POM in her water, a bowl of blueberries with a dollop of yogurt on top, cut up apples and a handful of cranberries for snack, avocado with her dinner, and acai juice as an addition to her mid-morning smoothie.  (She'll even use decafinated green tea for tea parties!)

Here are two of the recipes that I came up with this week, inspired by this book.  ENJOY!!  They are still works in progress, so try them out and comment at will.  

Blood Orange Glazed Salmon - serves two
6 oz. wild Alaskan salmon (cut into two filets), skin on and de-boned
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 Blood Orange
1/3 cup POM juice
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon Low Sodium Soy sauce 
salt and pepper to taste

Put the oil on a skillet (stainless steel is great - harder to get a great crust if you use non-stick) and put heat on high, when oil starts to become translucent, reduce to medium-high and add the salmon, skin side up.  Let brown for 1-2 minutes max and turn with your spatula.  Reduce heat to medium and remove the fish, skin side down to a plate.  Pour out any remaining oil in the pan keeping all the juicy bits in the pan.  Pour in the POM juice and the juice of 1/2 blood orange and honey and deglaze the pan letting the juice come to a boil, add the soy and reduce the hat to medium and put the fish back in the pan.  Cook the salmon all the way through, uncovered, which should take only take about 5 minutes.  The salmon is overdone when it is flaky and underdone when fleshy, so look to cook somewhere in between and remember that when you take it out and let it rest for five minutes, it will continue cooking.  Once the salmon is out of the pan, the juice should need to cook down on high until it becomes a sticky glaze.  Pour over the salmon and serve with 1/3 cup of whole grain rice and perhaps broccoli steamed with chunks of ginger and garlic and a steamed artichoke - another huge antioxidant food.  

Check out this video about the 02 Diet and Cleanse if you are interested in more information.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

photo from Real Simple Magazine, September 2009

Looking for nutritious snacks that your kids love, satisfy you and are nutritious for both?  Check out Real Simple for some great suggestions, make a list and bring it to the store so you are stocked.  Nearly all nutritionist agree that a person should have two healthy snacks a day between meals to keep you energized and stave off the cravings for unhealthy foods - this is true for kids as well.  I notice that if my kids miss a snack, they get low on energy and sometimes even grumpy.  Here is my whole food version of the list I use as a go to - and if you are counting calories - these are nearly all under 200: 

1/2 organic whole wheat english muffin with a tbsp. almond butter

endives with light ricotta cheese

2 celery sticks filled with 1 oz. herbed goat cheese

1 clementine, 8 almonds and a mini-disc of Valhrona dark chocolate

A handful of pistachios and 5 strawberries

Apples cut up and dipped in peanut or soy nut butter

a mini-trail mix cup of sliced almonds, dried cranberries and whole grain cherrios

1/2 cup homemade or greek plain non-fat yogurt with raspberries and a sprinkle flax 

A Hard Boiled Egg with salt and pepper and a Stick of Skim String Cheese

WASA or Ak-Mak spread with light ricotta and drizzled with honey

2 cups popcorn popped with 2 tsp. canola oil and sprinkled (for me with Old Bay and for the kids with Cabot Cheese White Cheddar powder)

Happy Snacking!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Momma Like: January 2010: Miniboden is Back

Vintage Dress
photo: Bodenusa,com

Miniboden's spring line is up and this vintage dress with detachable net petticoat is my pick of the season for $48.  Now here's the question.... do I (1) wait for the 15% off email or (2) buy now so it doesn't disappear?...

Buy of the Day: January 2010: Sales

photos from HannaAndersson,com

deux par deux rose snowsuit
Maybe its the economy or maybe the time of year, but the sales are everywhere (just in time for your post holiday wallet to be too empty to take advantage of them - right?) That said, there are some irresistible deals right now including a 50% deal on posh fall fashion at Frtiz and Gigi and an early bird special for spring fashions at Hanna Andersson.  Fritz and Gigi carries some great lines including Pink Chicken and Catimini - including this great snowsuit for $65- so get there or shop online soon before all the great ones are gone!  Check out Hanna when you have time - there spring line is a little hipper than before and it looks like someone breathed some life back into the classic impeccably made line.
photo from Fritz and Gigi

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Food: January 2010: Healthy Eating

The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook: Eating Well for Better Health
So my blogs have been decidedly absent as we were away for ten days, but I was working away on recipes!  Given the month of new beginnings, I have focused my attention on healthy, whole food eating.  Many of you have contacted me about wanting more menu plans and more healthy inspirations after a holiday season of vice.  Inspired by the diet that everyone is talking about  - the Mayo Clinic Diet, I have been spending my vacation experimenting and coming up with recipes that follow these simple ideas: eat real food, eat 3-4 more servings of vegetables and the same of fruit everyday, eat lean meats, eggs and fishes- but less than the size a deck of cards everyday, no sugar, eat all whole grains, eat breakfast and eat healthy fats.  Generally whole foods of whole grains, vegetables, fruits and lean proteins are the household norm, but the month of december is generally the exclusion with all the "festivus for the rest of us" that goes on.  This month will feature some takes on that approach with ideas for making them kid and adult friendly.  If your kids are better with spices, make them together! If not, check out my kid version. Lets start with a super quick breakfast for the kids with one for the adults as well.  When making the transition to healthy foods, I always recommend using Whole Foods short-cuts (ex. buying salsa fresca in the vegetable section rather than making yourself), you will spend more money that way but its a great way to get started and later you can make your own versions.  All the ingredients below can be found at Whole Foods but also at most grocery stores.

Omelette for 2 Adults:

Ingredients for adult omelette - 2 servings, each roughly 100 calories
1/2 cup egg whites (I like Organic Valley - the price is great, and they are pasteurized)
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 cup baby organic arugula (Olivia's organics is the best!)
4 tablespoons Whole Foods Salsa Fresca (if you are making your own, use chopped tomatoes, red onions, scallions and cilantro)
1/4 cup part skim grated mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Serve with a mini-whole wheat bagel toasted and topped with 1 tablespoon 365 whipped cream cheese (135 calories) for a total of 235 calorie breakfast.

Ingredients for Children's Omelette - serves 2
2 eggs
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/4 cup whole milk or 2% depending on your child's age
8 baby spinach leaves stacked, rolled and julienne both ways for a fine dice
1/4 cup grated part skim mozzarella

Serve with mini-whole wheat bagel with your child's choice of peanut butter, almond or soy nut butter, or cream cheese.  I tend to have my little ones split a bagel, or it will fill them up leaving no room for the yummy eggs.

Break the kids eggs and whip them with the milk, set aside.  Grate the cheese and measure for each omelette.  Chop the kids spinach ( my turns out so small that when cooked, I can refer to them as green eggs and they are not even seeing the spinach leaf - especially because its on the inside.)  Take two small omelette pans on put them on medium heat, pouring the canola oil into each and spreading it over the bottom of the pan with a cooking brush.  The oil should be hot almost immediately, so pour the kids eggs into one pan and the whites into the other and turn both to med-low heat.  To the kids omelette, add the spinach on one side of the omelette and to the adults, the salsa and arugula, salt and pepper on one side.  Using a rubber spatula, work around the edges of the omelette, lifting the edges slightly to ensure that you will be able to lift and fold.  If at any point it smells or looks like the bottom is browning at this point, turn the stove to low immediately.  If not, keep on medium-low.  When the omelets are getting firm on the bottom and only really runny in the middle of the top, add one half of the cheese to each on the side with the veggies and fold the omelette empty side over the veggie side so that it looks like a half- moon or a crescent.  Turn the pan to low, add the remaining cheese on top of the crescents and cover.  Cook no more than 2 minutes then turn off the heat and keep the cover on and let sit another minutes to fully melt the top cheese on each.  serve!

With all the yummy greens in the house - think about an arugula and spinach salad for lunch a sliced fresh juicy, nectarines on top, reduced-fat feta cheese, sauteed yellow onions, slivered almonds, 1/4 avocado and drizzled with olive oil and lemon or lime juice.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Buy of the Day: January 2010

Cameron Creativity Storage System with Art Cubbies

Living in a relatively small house with two young kiddos - you have to be organized.  Whenever I need storage inspiration, I go to my friend Shelley's house.  She is the ubermom of storage and organization - with a label maker and a polaroid, her three year olds know exactly which basket or bin holds which toys which makes it easier for them to help with clean-up.  In my list of to dos for this year is really organizing life - my stuff and the kids.  My first pick - I am spending this month at Pottery Barn kids where they have a 20% storage event.  You can save on entire wall units or even just a basket or two for the bath toys that you store under the console sink or the toys you keep in the car for long rides.  Last tip - when I reorganize our toys its the perfect time to talk to my almost four year old about giving away the toys we don't use anymore to a local children's shelter in the city - a great time to introduce the concept that everyone has different means and showing that sharing is an act and not just a preschool concept.  On a less important note, but still great, it also helps her to take ownership of keeping her room and playroom organized. What are your favorite organization tips for kids rooms?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Momma Like: January 2010

So - like everyone on New Year's Day, I have resolutions.  My resolution for this month is to bring more fresh into my life and my family's.  Whether that be more fresh eggs from the local organic farm, more fresh air in the snow or sun, more fresh lemon to clean the house and copper pots, more fresh flowers in the house or more fresh ideas and perspectives on life.  Why not start small by bringing something fresh to your look?  Check out Twigs and Honey - an etsy shop that creates accessories which balance beauty and nature.   My favorite is a necklace made of silk, tulle and glass beads that is perfect for a wedding, christening, or sunday brunch with the girls.