Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pizza Braids

Pizza braids are one of my go-to recipes for when I bring a meal to a family. Generally they are well received because they involve warm bread and pizza flavors. I like them because they are a bit different than the standard casserole or pasta dish and pretty easy to assemble. The hardest part is planning well enough in advance to let your bread dough rise.

Here are your ingredients: a loaf of frozen bread dough, your choice of spaghetti or pizza sauce, Mozzarella & Parmesan cheese and whatever pizza toppings you fancy. When I'm making them for a family who I don't know their toppings preference, I usually go pretty standard like pepperoni.

The first thing to do is to follow the standard instructions for thawing and letting the frozen bread dough rise. You'll need to grab a loaf pan, spray it with cooking spray, set the bread dough in the pan, cover the pan with cling wrap that has also been sprayed and place it in a warm place to rise for a few hours. Once the dough has doubled in size, it's time for action!

Sprinkle flour on your counter, rolling pin, and dough ball. Roll out the dough into a rectangle. This will take a little elbow grease, but you'll be fine (less of a workout than playing airplane with my 20 lb baby!).

Spread your sauce down the middle, not going all the way the ends. You will want to leave 2.5 inch space all the way around so you can cut strips. Follow with your pizza toppings, then the cheese. Sometimes I'll sprinkle on a little pizza seasoning too. Don't get crazy with toppings otherwise they'll leak out the sides.

Next is the cutting of the braid strips. Easy! Cut approximately 10-12 strips total on each side, around 1 inch apart. Cut pretty close to the toppings, but not too close otherwise you'll have leakage. You can leave wider strips on the ends.

Your finished product should look something like this.

Now for the braiding. Don't be afraid, it's really easy! All you have to do is start on one end, folding your end piece in. Now taking a strip from the left side, stretch it across the toppings to reach the other side. Repeat on the other side until you almost reach the base. Leave 2 or 3 strips on both sides because you need to fold the end piece up and then braid/cover with the remaining strips.

When you are done it will look like an papoose all wrapped up. Get a friend to help transfer to a baking sheet. It can be a little tricky ...

Easy peasy, lemon breezy. Bake at 375 degrees for ~20 minutes. Add an additional 10-15 minutes if baking frozen.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

House of Fifty Winter/Spring Issue

Check out the new issue of the House of Fifty here. I love this online design mag, it's got lots of inspiration for what I'd like my house to look like. Which also means a quick reality check of what my house really looks like. Meaning toys, papers and s0cks strewn everywhere because Lance's feet inexplicably get hot in the most inconvenient places.

Monday, January 23, 2012

2012 Resolutions: Korean Food

I think I've figured out why my Korean food resolution keeps reappearing year after year. After a quick google search of Korean food recipes, they all sound gross to me. Things like "Fish Cake Stew," "Squid Pancakes,"and "Uncurdled Tofu Stew" sound awful. I like to think that I keep a pretty open mind about things, but these sound a bit beyond what I can handle and I know that I don't have a chance of convincing Lance to try them. I don't cook seafood (Lance hates it and it can be expensive), I'm not overly fond of seaweed (okay, I don't like it AT ALL), and I really don't like having huge bottles of Asian ingredients that sit in my pantry for years. Case in point: I recently discovered that I own three bottles of sesame oil and two bottles of rice vinegar, as well as a bottle of mirin, hoisin, fish sauce, thai curry paste, and umpteen bottles of soy sauce. I really don't feel inclined to buy kelp, bean curd, or seaweed. It also creeps me out by the number of sunnyside eggs I see in pictures of Korean food. I think it's weird. Going to Asian markets can be tiresome too. Don't get me wrong, the foodie in me enjoys wandering and looking at all sorts of ingredients and things I'm not familiar with, but I do not enjoy the inevitable heritage conversation I will have to have at some point. Why Asian women are so nosy (myself not included in this racist umbrella statement) is completely beyond me. I cannot go and get a pedicure without having to have to explain why I don't know any Korean and why I can speak English without any trace of an accent. Of course I had to go through this same litany last Friday when I went to pick up a couple of ingredients I couldn't find at Fareway. It just really irritates me. I know my friend Shannon has had similar experiences too and it takes every ounce of grace I have for me to not make some snappy comment that Jesus would not be at all impressed with.

Okay. Enough on my tirade. I digress.

After amending my search to include American Korean food, I came across a blog that may have a more realistic approach to finally getting this resolution crossed off my list:

Gungjung Tteokbokki (Stir-fried Rice Cake with Beef and Vegetables)

Hoddeok (Sugar Pancake)

Korean Stewed Short Ribs

The recipes all come from a blog titled Korean American Mommy. Her kids are cute. Granted, I have a certain affinity towards Asian babies :) But her blog might be the reason I get to cross this ongoing resolution off my list.

Friday, January 20, 2012

2012 Resolutions

I haven't posted 2012 Resolutions. I reviewed 2011 Resolutions and it appears that I didn't do so hot.

1. I haven't learned how to make any Korean dishes yet. Opps. That's 2 years running that I haven't managed to achieve this resolution. I guess there's always 2012.

2. Walking twice a day, 15 minutes a day. I did do this pre-baby, but haven't really since. I do think the walking helped with the labor and delivery process, along with the regular practice of yoga.

3. Grow a more expansive and varied garden. We did try, but were hindered by the rabbit who, unbenost to us, took up residence in the garden and proceeded to eat all of my edamame and green peppers. I have never hated one adorable, small, furry creature more.

I have 4 resolutions for 2012. Based on prior resolutions, 4 is probably ambitious.

1. Learn how to make a Korean food dish.

2. Incorporate more vegetables into our diets.

3. Pay down 1/3 of my student debt.

4. Be content, but be fearless.

I'll being doing separate posts expanding my reasons for each resolution, but I wanted to end with this clip from the comic strip Calvin & Hobbs. I loved Calvin and Hobbs growing up, I think it had something to do with Calvin being an only child with a big imagination. I can relate as an only child with an imaginary friend named Bobby who lived in my bedroom closet. But I think Calvin is a hoot :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

View from Daycare

We started at a new daycare this week. One of the biggest hurdles being a working mom is finding the right caregiver for your child. In talking with other moms who have faced this challenge, I know that I am not alone. Daycare is EXPENSIVE, but it's an investment in your child. I think it is all parents' goal to find a caregiver who will love and care for your child the same way as you. Is that realistic or fair? Probably not. Whenever anyone would ask us how we liked our daycare person, we would both respond with "eh. She's fine."

Upon reflection, Lance and I both think that we were never a great match with our first daycare provider. Don't get me wrong, for many parents she's probably fine. But Lance and I wanted to know what Lucan was doing during the day and hear about his moods, etc (yes, we both acknowledge that we are sort of heliocopter parents). But we were never going to get that type of care with the first one. She was there to make sure Lucan was kept out of harms way and report about his poops. Communication was also an issue.

With our new provider, she does all sorts of developmental programs and all sorts of fun things with the kids. She has just 2 kids that she watches and she's a germ nazi. I like that. And the best part - she only allows 30 minutes of TV a day! That was Lance's sticking point. The first day I knew things were automatically off to a better start when I got a mid-morning email with these pictures:

"I took a couple of quick pictures this morning. He isn't smiling, but still is adorable. I have the crib next to the window and he likes to look out at the trees and ducks in the pond. Have a great rest of the day and see you later. "

Isn't that precious?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lucan: 7 Months & Counting

The title means that Lucan is 7 months old and we continue to observe his progress as he gets older. Not that Lucan is 7 months old and is COUNTING. I love my child and basically thinks he poops candy bars (Glee reference anyone?), but he's not so advanced that he's counting.

  • Lucan weighs 20 lbs. I'm glad that we have a Chicco KeyFit 30 carseat, otherwise with some of the other ones we'd already be buying a new one. With his BundleMe insert on the carseat, it is a snugfit.

  • Still in size 3 diapers. They go up to 28 lbs, so Lucan better be in them for awhile now.

  • Still nursing. After the tumultuous beginning, I'm still amazed every single day.

  • We are eating quite a variety of foods now. Butternut squash, avocados, applesauce, carrots, rice cereal with prune juice, rice cereal with pear juice, and sweet potatoes. Last night we started peas and Lucan chowed down on those too. Basically, Lucan hasn't met a food he doesn't like. According to others, this is not uncommon with babies. It's when they move to finger foods, that likes and dislikes become more prevalent. Super. So excited for that day to come.

  • However with the onslaught of a more varied diet, comes the inevitable. Poop problems. Oh how my child grunts and cries and makes the most sad face when he tries to poop. It will break your heart. I did manage to snap a blurry picture of Lucan making his poop face one day. But Lance says that I'm not allowed to post it as someday Lucan will be mortified by his mother's antics. I had a friend tell me that I should try administering acidophilus to Lucan. Does anyone have any experience with that?

  • We survived the holidays with travel and the Christmas tree. Lucan really liked hanging out and rolling under the Christmas tree. Fire wasn't impressed as Fire has deemed the tree his special place. Lucan also like pulling on the lights and branches of the tree. We have a fake tree, so when we were disassembling the tree it was interesting to observe how all the bottom branches was misshaped.

  • Lucan made out like a bandit with Christmas gifts - lots of toys and TONS of clothes. More clothes than Lance and I received combined. For this very reason, Lance and I didn't get Lucan a single gift. I don't think he cares.

  • We also survived Lucan's first Santa encounter. It actually went pretty well, Lucan only looked like he wanted to cry at the beginning. I'm not sure how we will approach Santa in the coming years, we are leaning more towards telling L that Santa isn't real early on. Because if we lie about Santa, who isn't to say that we are lying about Jesus?

  • After I made an appointment with my hair stylist for Lucan to have his first haircut, Lance threw a mini-fit and said that he wasn't ready. We then proceeded to have countless number of people tell Lucan he needed a haircut. So I had my friend Katie do a mini-trim around Lucan's ears. His hair is much improved, but still needs an allover cut.

  • One of Lucan's biggest developments this last month has been how mobile he's become. While he is not crawling, he is rolling. Nothing is off limits or out of reach. We need to start baby-proofing soon. I've already had to move one plant as I continually would fear that he would knock the 10 lb plant and ceramic pot on his head.

  • It's fun to watch Lucan roll onto his belly and then "dry-swim" meaning he'll lay on his tummy and attempt to move by swimming on the floor.

  • His second biggest development is laughter. Lance is still the one person who can be counted on to make Lucan consistently laugh. Laughter can be elicited by throwing Lucan in the air and by tickling. Lucan seems to have inherited all of our ticklish spots - tummy and neck. Oh it's so fun to make Lucan laugh!

  • Lucan also seems to be taking more of an active interest in Fire. Fire, not so much an interest in Lucan. Lucan thinks that Fire is hilarious. He'll laugh when Fie walks by him and has the best time when Fire is playing with one of his toys. Lucan also wants to pet Fire, but Fire isn't really all that interested in being petted by Lucan :)

  • Third development: a tooth! I see him, wiggling on through, center bottom! So far teething has been fine, but I'm not holding my breath.

  • Fourth development: no more 10 pm feeding. Thank the Lord. It's done. Our routine is solid food at 5:30 pm, nursing somewhere between 7:15 and 7:30, and then down for the count for the night. Yippie! Just a slight problem with Lucan waking up at 4:45 AM every morning and chattering to himself for a half an hour. SO.NOT.COOL.

  • Lance and I fight on the weekends as to who gets to go and get Lucan out of his crib after naptime. Lucan is SO smiley and thankful for someone to be rescuing him from his nap. It's really precious. Unless it's the morning and I have determined that Lucan's nap hasn't been long enough because MY nap hasn't been long enough.

All smiles :)

Favorite Christmas toy - the talking/singing puppy dog.

Lucan trying to maul Christmas puppy by pulling off his face. Lucan often times tries to do this to me too. Super fun.