4.20.11: What’s for Dinner Wednesday?

My three year old used to be such a good eater. From the time that she could feed herself, she was eating steamed broccoli and cold plain tofu (her choice, I tried to cook it). Now the only thing she asks for is mac n’ cheese! I was flipping through my recipes and came along this delish zucchini & carrot bread recipe that calls for two zucchini’s & 2 carrots…. We will get veggies in this girl yet!

I made two loaves and brought one into the office pictured here. Guess it isn’t just for kids… I went to take a picture to show you all and it was already half gone! Word on the street is that it is delicious!

Here is the recipe – enjoy!

Preheat oven to 375. You will need (1) 8” X 10” pan or (2) 8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2 ½, greased and floured.

Beat smooth
3 eggs
1 cup sugar (raw, if you have it)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup oil
3 tsp. vanilla

Stir in:
2 medium to large shredded ** zucchinis
2 medium to large shredded **carrots
¼ cup wheat germ (click here for the health benefits if you are not familiar with wheat germ)
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

**Use a food processor to make it pulpy and less recognizable for the super finicky kids.

Sift together:
2 ½ cups flour (you can use half wheat flour)
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. nutmeg

Stir in the sifted ingredients with your wet mixture. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 8” X 10” pan or you can use two 8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2 ½, just separate the batter evenly. Cook for 30-35 minutes for the two loaves or 40-45 minutes for the 8 X 10 pan. Check doneness with a toothpick in the middle. Cool and enjoy!

Mama Monday – One less thing!

This is how my Monday morning started:

This is everything that needed to be packed and brought to school/work this morning. Notice it doesn’t even include the baby (in an infant car seat) and the three year old! What is all that you ask? Let’s see, a school bag for each girl, my laptop bag, breast pump, lunch, grocery bags from last night and my purse!

When I saw that ridiculous pile this morning I realized that I might be taking things a bit too far and need to figure out how to consolidate. If anything, to make things easier for myself. Realistically, all I could have removed from that pile are the grocery bags but where can I simplify my life in other parts?

The first thing I can do (and my husband reminds me to do this all the time), is to simply do one thing at a time. I know it sounds crazy, right? But it’s true —  I get super stressed out and it’s because I am trying to do three or more things at once and not very well. For example, last night instead of holding the baby, cleaning up after dinner, and making zucchini & carrot bread (check back on Wednesday for the recipe… It’s delish!), I probably could have just held the baby and done the other things after bedtime. I tested this new approach out this morning after seeing that pile and mentally drafting this post…. The three year old was asking for milk, oatmeal, a specific song from the CD we were listening to, and I was trying to get all three of those things done plus make oatmeal for the baby and pack her lunch. I took a deep breath (key for most things) and told the three year old mommy can only do one thing at a time. I finished the oatmeal (for both girls), got the milk, changed the song, and sat down to breakfast. All without freaking out – yay me!

So, I did schlep all those bags out to the car but I didn’t try to do it all in one load like I typically do. I did it in two while the girls were finishing their breakfast and then I only had to carry the baby! That felt like a refreshing change. My “Zen” morning lasted about 10 minutes but I will take it. Let’s see how “Zen” after work can be…. Fingers crossed!

What’s for dinner Wednesday?

Summertime is just around the corner for us here in California! Something my husband and I love in the summertime? Artichokes – big, green, delicious! Our three year old is just getting into the fun of eating them, pulling the leaves off, dipping in a sauce, dragging the meat off with her teeth and tossing in the bowl. Not the mention how we all love to share our artichoke “hearts” with each other.
Trying an artichoke for the first time? Here is a basic how-to on cooking and eating artichokes:

Prep time: 15 minutes (including dipping sauce)
Cook time: 45 minutes

Prepping the ‘choke:
Some artichokes have little thorns on the end of the leaves to remove. Take kitchen scissors and cut off the tips on all the leaves.

Slice about 3/4 inch to an inch off the tip of the artichoke.

 

 

 

 

Rinse the artichokes in running cold water. I like to “open” the artichokes a bit. I do this by holding the base of the artichoke with the leaves facing toward the counter and giving it a couple of smacks until the leaves open some.

Cooking the artichoke:
In a large pot, place a steamer at the bottom. Fill water until it reaches the bottom of the steamer.  Place the artichokes all around the pot with the base on the bottom and the leaves facing up. Cover. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 25 to 45 minutes or until the outer leaves can easily be pulled off.

Dipping Sauce

Some artichokes really don’t need any sauce at all. However, I included a link to several at the bottom. This one is my gold standard.
For two large artichokes
3 TBS Mayonnaise (we use sunflower oil mayonnaise)
1 ½  TBS Mustard (any kind of Dijon)
couple splash of lemon juice

Now the fun part!

How do I eat one?

Pull off outer petals, one at a time.

Dip white fleshy end in sauce. Tightly grip the other end of the petal. Place in mouth, dip side down, and pull through teeth to remove soft, pulpy, delicious portion of the petal. Discard remaining petal.

Continue until all of the petals are removed.

With a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fuzzy “hair” covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the heart. Cut into pieces and dip into sauce to eat.

Want to explore more ways to enjoy artichokes? The delicious vegetable has its very own web page:

http://www.artichokes.org/recipes.html

Let us know what your favorites are!

**Photos courtesy of Elise @ Simply Recipes**

Mama Monday – Getting back to it!

Losing baby weight….Ugh! In some ways I have had an easier time this go ‘round than with the first baby. To start with I only gained 38 pounds. With the first one I gained, 60! I have almost lost it all except for about 5 more to go but geez, everything is so squishy! Since it takes 9 months to go up, I figure I will be kind to myself and allow 9 months to come down…. So where did the last six months go?

With the thought of “bathing suit weather” and a couple of summer trips,  I am newly inspired to transform squishy to svelte or at least acceptable to frolic in the pool with the girls! Prior to their birth, if I wasn’t feeling my “hottest” I could fake it with wraps, sarongs, and cute cover-ups. I could lay perfectly positioned on the chaise lounge sipping a Mai Tai.. However, now I actually have to get into the pool and play with my girls.

Realistically, I only have three months and am still breastfeeding so no diet yet since personally, I don’t think it’s fair to the babes. So here is my plan:

Step 1: Find a partner in crime – an exercise buddy is essential for making me accountable. (Check!)
Step 2: Find low impact exercises to get things started. I have some residual issues from pregnancy/labor that haven’t allowed me to get back into my regular exercise plans.
Step 3: Do them! (I took a 90 minute yoga class yesterday so check!)
Step 4: Am scheduled to take a Zumba class tomorrow, Tuesday night, with said partner in crime!
Step 5: Continue to eat sensible meals and drink LOTS of H20!

Wish me luck!