Thursday, October 18, 2012

Happy Birthday, Eli!

My baby is three today.  As with all milestones these days, I have such mixed emotions.  I am so very happy that he is three.  I am so tired and am pretty happy to say good-bye to the baby stage.  I am also sad that the baby stage ended on cancer's terms instead of my own - not because I was going to have more babies, I certainly wasn't, but because the end of this stage ended with so much stress.  I love babies.  I really, really loved my own babies.  And I'm sad I didn't get to gobble Eli up every second of every day because I was in a hospital.

Dear Eli,

You are the happiest child on the planet.  I really, really mean this.  You smile from the time you wake up in the morning until you go to bed at night.  You have a loud screeching sound that you make.  People wonder if it's happy or sad.  It's all happy.  (You cry occasionally too, but it's very rare compared to the smiles.)  I am trying to learn all I can from your happy care-free demeanor.  Daddy and I often remark on your happiness.  It's pretty remarkable.  Really.

You love basketball.  You go out to the little hoop and shoot over and over and over again.  You can spend hours just playing basketball in the driveway.  Daddy draws you a free throw line and you make shot after shot.  It's hilarious.  Until you throw the ball in the street.  Then we're all done.

You love Elmo (hence the Elmo cake).  You love trains.  You love talking on the phone to Daddy.  You love your brothers.  You have one amazing iPad talent for a three year old.  You love helping me bake cookies and always run to get your little green apron when I start the mixer.  You love when other kiddos your age come over to play.  You love snacks.

It's a new experience for me to have a little boy with a limited vocabulary.  You are good at signing, pointing and using the words you do have to get your point across.  If I have one worry or hope for you this year it is that you will increase your vocabulary.

I love having these days with you while your brothers are in school.  You are at the age where you see everything in the world with these huge, open eyes and it's all new and wondrous.  A trip to Target with you is very exciting!  You love the big posters and walking beside the cart and seeing everything.  I think if you like Target so much you're really, really going to love our trip to Orlando next week!

I love you, Eli.

Happy Birthday!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Quick Takes

  1. I'm not really that into politics this year.  Sure, I still care.  But I'm completely annoyed with people on both sides who think it's their way or the highway.  I'll vote.  You vote.  The world isn't black or white, people.  It's a million shades of gray.  If you think that people who believe differently have nothing to offer you or your town or country or this big world we live in, I wish you would broaden your circles.  Enough said.
  2. We are getting excited!!!!!  We leave in eight days.  I have packed nothing. 
  3. I am 3/3 on Pinterest recipes that I tried this week.  Impressive, Pinterest, impressive.
  4. And a big shout-out to the Facebook friend who wrote "Three cheers for the freakin' weekend" this morning.  This song has been in my head all day.  Thanks so much.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken

Seriously?!  Isaac ate five servings of this.  Granted, that probably equals one true serving, but still, I was amazed.  This nearly tastes like you're eating out.  Now Isaac knows what to order the next time we go to PF Changs.

Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken
Source:  The Comfort of Cooking via you know what (Pinterest)

6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 4 chicken breasts (about 2 pounds) 
Salt and pepper 
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup honey 
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce 
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil 
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1/3 cup water 
1/2 tablespoon (or more) sesame seeds
3 scallions, chopped

Place chicken in Crock Pot and lightly season both sides with salt and pepper.

In a medium bowl, combine onion, garlic, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, oil and red pepper flakes. Pour over chicken. Cook on low for 3-4 hours, or high for 2 hours.

Remove chicken to a cutting board, leaving sauce. Shred chicken into bite-sized pieces; set aside.

In a small bowl, dissolve 4 teaspoons cornstarch in 1/3 cup water; add to crock pot. Stir to combine with sauce. Cover and cook sauce on high for ten more minutes, or until slightly thickened.  Stir in the chicken.  Sprinkle evenly with sesame seeds and chopped scallions.

Serve over your choice of rice or, as Rob suggested, rolled inside an iceberg lettuce leaf for a tasty lettuce wrap.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Red Lentil Coconut Soup

I need a class on how to take photos of food.  But I have no time for that these days, so you get what you get.  This photo isn't appetizing but this soup really is.  Perfect for Meatless Monday, served with homemade bread and sliced cheese.  It wasn't the boys "favorite" but they ate it.  And Rob and I really liked it.

I omitted the jalapeno since only one out of five of us like spicy foods.

Red Lentil Coconut Soup
Source: Scaling Back Blog (via Pinterest)

2cups red split lentils
1onion, finely chopped
1red bell pepper cut into ½ inch dice
1fresh jalapeno or serrano chili, finely chopped, including seeds
1tablespoon fresh peeled and minced ginger
2garlic cloves, finely chopped
1tablespoon curry powder
½teaspoon cinnamon
2teaspoons salt
⅓cup tomato paste
7cups water
1can unsweetened light coconut milk
115-ounce can of chickpeas
1tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
fresh cilantro and lime wedges for serving

Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a dutch oven or large soup pan and add the onions, bell pepper and jalapeno and cook for 5-7 minutes until the vegetables have softened and start to take on some color.  Add the garlic, ginger, spices and tomato paste and continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes until the mixture is toasty and fragrant.  Add the water, coconut milk, lentils and chickpeas and cook uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes adding the lime juice at the end of cooking.  Taste and adjust with more salt or more lime juice if desired.  Serve the soup topped with a sprinkling of fresh cilantro and some extra limes on the side.