Holiday-themed Weekend

My approach to weekends has changed a bit since having Gabriel. I used to be v.e.r.y hesitant to make plans, preferring to hole up and homebody (and often cook :)). I still would probably prefer that, but it’s no longer possible with an infant, who needs to be looked after and somewhat entertained all day. It’s nice to spend time together, but it’s also sometimes exhausting (especially if he’s fussy) or boring (if we read the same book five times or just sit on the floor and bang toys around). So having activities to do to get out of the house is often a welcome distraction for us both. It keeps us entertained. So I find myself saying yes to more things than I used to. This weekend I did four events in two days, which would have been totally unheard of pre-baby. And enjoyably, most were holiday-themed!

On Saturday, I attended the annual Baltimore Delta Gamma alumnae ornament exchange. I brought Gabriel, of course. Dan works overnight on Fridays so sleeps til 1 or 2pm on Saturdays. I love this event. The hostess has a lovely home and makes a delicious brunch, and we exchange ornaments white elephant style. I came home with two anchor ornaments that look nice on our tree. Gabriel did great. Around his nap time, I put him in the Ergo to see if he’d sleep on me, which we hadn’t tried in months. It took a bit (~20 minutes?) but he eventually fell asleep. It was nice, because we don’t cuddle like that anymore (goal: independent sleep habits, achieved). And then I think he slept on the car ride home.

That evening (okay, late afternoon really), we went to a friends’ house to have latkes and light Hanukkah candles. She has a two year old and a three month old and was very impressive wrangling them both (Dan and I weren’t much help unfortunately – they mostly wanted their mom’s attention) until her husband came home. It was really nice to visit. Gabriel had a 30-minute late bedtime, but was okay.

On Sunday, we had three couples over, two of which have two kids each, ages 3-6. Four of the six adults went to high school with Dan, and we all try to get together roughly annually. Before Dan and I lived in the area, we would see them when we came to Dan’s parents for the holidays. Now that we live nearby, we don’t see them any more frequently unfortunately, but it’s nice when we do. I made this chili from The Real Food RDs (added kidney beans near the end), and it was a big hit. One couple brought cornbread and beer, another cookies, and the other cookies. We had a great visit, got to enjoy entertaining in our new house, and proved that multiple young children can survive in and enjoy the space.

Finally, yesterday evening we went to another friend’s house in Hampden to celebrate their daughter’s third birthday and walk to 34th St to see the wild Christmas lights that the entire block participates in. They do it every year, it’s a Baltimore thing, but I’d never gone. There was a Santa on a Harley Davidson and other Baltimore things. We didn’t stay for long – it was again past Gabriel’s bedtime and he was letting us know it, but it was still fun to walk around with him and see the lights.

I think we (well, me) paid for the schedule disruption this morning when Gabriel woke up crying an hour early. Dan always says something like, well, maybe he’ll sleep well tonight, or maybe he’ll sleep in, when he gets less sleep due to missed naps or late bedtime. But no – it throws everything out of whack and usually results in less sleep for me. But I’m starting to be well-rested enough to think that sometimes it’s worth it, because I had a lot of fun this weekend!

Oh hey there, 2017

It’s a new year! The kitchen looks pretty much the same. Here’s a little bit of what’s been going on:

I made posole on New Years Eve! I basically followed the recipe in my previous post except… I bought a 3.7 lb Boston butt from the farmers market that morning that was frozen and on the bone. I was mostly able to thaw it before cooking, but not enough to cut it up into chunks, so I just threw the whole thing in there and started trying to shred after about two hours. I cooked it for 3-3.5 hours total. Dan and I both thought it was okay while eating it. Then we remembered to season it with salt and add some lime and cilantro. Then it was really good. I forgot to take a lot of pictures, so I’ll share a couple pictures from when I made it 5.5 years ago, and a couple from Saturday. Sorry, my photography was just as bad then as it is now.

June 2011:

Look how clean my Lodge Dutch oven was! I think it was newish then.

NYE 2016:

Yep, that’s all I got. The red sauce was definitely darker this time. I didn’t use Anaheim chiles. I used… I forget. I’m sorry! They were just some dried chiles that I found at Harris Teeter a couple weeks ago. And, I think in future, I would prefer the pork chunks I’ve used before over the shredded pork I used this time. It made the stew fattier and heavier this time.

A couple nights before NYE, I made Greek turkey burgers and an arugula salad with tahini sauce from RealPlans (the burgers actually called for ground chicken, not turkey, but turkey’s what I had).


The night before the last night of Hanukkah, we made latkes. My first time ever! We paired them with roasted vegetables and some leftover chicken thighs in mole sauce that Dan had made before.

On NYE morning, I sorta made a Benedict out of leftover latkes. Except without hollandaise sauce. And a fried egg instead of poached. Is that still sort of a Benedict? Okay, it was just latke piled with smoked salmon, sautéed spinach, sliced tomato, fried egg, and yogurt. It was delicious.

Yesterday morning (post NYE celebrating), I made the NYTimes shakshuka for breakfast for my friend who’d spent the night and me. No pictures. I had leftovers this morning (and a leftover latke – oof, a big full breakfast before CrossFit. Normally I don’t eat before my 5:30am class, but the gym only had a 9:30am class today due to the holiday, and I woke up starving, so had to eat). Ohhhh, and last night, Dan and I finally ate the remaining bone marrow that I bought from The Pigheaded Butcher many months ago. I also bought a ton of bones for broth when I bought the pork shoulder at the farmer’s market on Saturday, so I started a batch of bone broth last night. It’s been making the house smell real good all night and morning. I’ll strain and jar it in a couple hours. Bone broth for the new year!

And that’s it!

I’m going to clean out the fridge today. That’ll feel good. While watching Gilmore Girls. I’m on season 6. I do this every fall/winter. This is the season where Rory and Lorelei are not talking for the first half season. Not my favorite, but I’m  marching on :-).

And I’m going to have leftover posole for lunch. New Year’s off to a good start!



Chicken Pumpkin Stew

Last Sunday, Dan and I put up our holiday decorations. It was two days after Thanksgiving, which had been nice and filling, but not incredibly painful and indulgent. Nevertheless, I was in the mood for something filling but not super-heavy to round out the weekend and to enjoy after we set up our house for the holidays.

I wanted to use the small butternut squash from our Hungry Harvest box the week before as well as some of the pumpkin purée I’d made in October and have frozen in the freezer. I decided to make a pumpkin stew. I looked up a couple recipes for ideas but didn’t follow any particular one. On the stovetop in my Lodge enameled cast iron Dutch oven, I progressively added each of the following (all amounts ‘ish’):

  • 1 tbsp bacon fat
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small butternut squash, after peeling, removing seeds, and cutting into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes. Ish.
  • About 1.3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • About 1.3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 4? Cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper powder
  • 1 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 4 cups homemade pumpkin purée
  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth

I let it come to a boil, then put the lid mostly on and put it on low to simmer for 90 minutes. I then added a bit more chili powder and salt. I definitely should have added more spices at the beginning. It was tasty, but not spicy (or spiced-tasting).

We garnished with lime juice, cilantro, green onion, and Dan added some shredded cheese. We froze the leftovers and have been continuing to eat them. It’s thick and hearty without feeling too heavy.

And our house is decorated! We put on holiday music and got it done. Dan spent most of the time getting the lights on the outside railing while I put ornaments on the tree. Penelope had a blast hanging out in the box with the newspaper that had been used to wrap the ornaments.

Embracing the Holidays, and Bacon and Brussels Sprouts Salad

It’s the new year! Happy new year. I have a few different posts to get through over the weekend. We’ll see what I actually accomplish. I have big plans for this weekend that include lots of reflecting, intention-setting, shopping, eating, planning, cooking, and relaxing. And one or two other blog posts I’ve been meaning to get to. For now, I’m enjoying sitting in my new chair from West Elm, listening to a Spotify playlist of 30th and Weldon’s top albums from 2015, and getting this one out.

I had a draft post started from several weeks ago about Embracing the Holidays, but I never got around to writing it. As I think I mentioned, I really tried to embrace and experience Fall this year, which often manifested in consuming all things pumpkin: puree (and things made with puree), lattes (two or three, before deciding again that they’re just too sweet), beer (which was new for me this year – I’ve never cared much for pumpkin beer, but I found several I liked this year), etc. I had similar intentions for the Christmas season… and I have enjoyed the past few weeks, but now that they’re over, it seems they kind of passed me by. Still, it was overall relaxing and enjoyable and filled with loved ones and (now that I’m going back through photos and remembering) fun events – like decorating the tree, the Baltimore Washington Monument lighting, Dan’s annual work holiday party at Rusty Scupper, the White House holiday tour, and Christmas dinner at Dan’s parents’ house.

My contribution to the holiday meal was to help with the roasted vegetables, which, if you haven’t realized already, I make a lot. I don’t have any photos of the food, but I do have a photo of cooking eggs the next morning with leftover roasted vegetables. Yum.


For Christmas, from Dan’s family, we received a new blender/food processor. The La Machine food processor (renamed ‘The Love Machine’ by a grad school friend that borrowed it, because she thought that’s what it said) I inherited from my mother is missing pieces and not really very effective anymore, and the Cuisinart blender I bought right after college and use multiple mornings a week for smoothies just doesn’t blend very effectively. Despite generally being opposed to replacing anything that still works at all (however ineffectively), Dan witnessed the lack of adequate functioning of these things enough times to support a replacement. I am super excited.

The first thing I used it for was a bacon, brussels sprouts, mushroom, apple, and almond mixture that then became the main content of my jar salads for the week. I also used the excess that wouldn’t fit into the jars for dinner by sautéing it and adding a couple fried eggs. Yum.

I generally followed the recipe for the Apple, Almond, Bacon, and Brussels Sprouts salad from Iowa Girl Eats, adding mushrooms. I clearly chopped things up much more than in her pictures, mostly because I didn’t think to add the apple or mushrooms until after I’d already done most of my chopping, so I had to chop chop more. And then the bowl was too full, so I had to remove some stuff and do it in batches. Which I didn’t mind. Using my new toy was quite fun.

The end result was really delicious salads. I also baked some chicken breasts that I added the morning of the day I planned to eat them. I don’t have a photo of the mixture with the fried eggs I ate for dinner, but as I said, yum. Not bad stuff just to have around and add to things. Noted.



Alternative Cranberry Sauce


There is an annual Thanksgiving potluck at my work. Last year, I was completely overwhelmed (with work) and I think I forgot to sign up to bring anything at all, and so the weekend before I picked up some cranberry sauce at Whole Foods. I’m pretty sure few people ate it.

This year, the potluck was the Monday before Thanksgiving. I again forgot to sign up until too late. I wanted to bring sweet potato casserole, but a colleague had signed up for that before me (which, frankly, was probably better, because she used more butter and sugar than I would have, and it was delicious). No one had signed up for cranberry sauce yet, so I chose to bring that again.

The weekend after signing up, I went to my annual Baltimore Delta Gamma alumni Thanksgiving potluck where a fellow DG brought the best homemade cranberry sauce I’d ever tasted. I probably thought so because I’ve never loved cranberry sauce – too sweet – and this stuff was unusual and more savory. I think she was nervous to bring it, because it really is a little untraditional. I felt similarly about my own potluck, but since I didn’t think anyone had eaten the traditional stuff I brought last year, I figured it was low risk either way.

The most striking thing is that it’s made with mustard seeds. A few colleagues did ask me what ‘those things are’, and when I told them, they kind of just went, ‘huh.’ Most of my colleagues told me they thought it was good.  And, unlike last year, most of it got eaten, so I think that says something.

My DG sister has the recipe on her own blog here: Cranberry Quince Mustarda Recipe. I used an apple instead of quince, a tiny bit of dry vermouth and 1/2 cup of white wine vinegar (together) instead of the one cup of dry white wine (I didn’t have any in the house), and I used only about 11 oz. of raisins instead of the 1.5 lbs called for – and I added about 8 oz. of them with the cranberries instead of at the end. Oh and I used dijon mustard instead of the dry mustard. I think the mustard seeds were more prominent in mine than I remember in my friend’s, and I’d probably cut back on them if I made it again. However, I still thought it was tasty, and it’s definitely a recipe I’ll keep for future potlucks and for if/when I ever host Thanksgiving again.

The next morning, when I brought this to work, the mustard seeds had all soaked up the cranberry color and were no longer yellow.

Not all of the sauce was eaten at work, though most of it was. I brought the leftover home and had a bite the next morning, and I will say that it tasted a little vinegary. I’m not sure if it gets more like that with time or if it was always like that…