Happy Cinco de Mayo! (A tad early)

Last night we celebrated dos de mayo—a precursor to the Mexican holiday that in this country is marked by the copious consumption of margaritas, beer and tequila. Ya-ya, M., Baby A and I were joined by Cy and cousin J to gobble up Ancho Chile Chicken Soft Tacos and Green Rice (recipes courtesy of Rachael Ray). Besides the good food and drink (yes, we had the before-mentioned libations), it was really wonderful to have a house full of people.

When we lived in Phoenix, Sunday night dinners with another J was standard. Together we would watch either baseball or football and eat. I always cooked. It was the highlight of my week and since moving to LA the tradition hasn’t continued. But it should and it may. We have plans to get together on Friday. I have a sangria recipe I want to try.

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Happy Cinco de Mayo! (A tad early)

5 Fabulous Foods I Can’t Live Without

For some reason, I haven’t been the gung ho grocery shopper that I am normally. It could be that I’m not cooking as much. But I have been living on the following foods:

1. FAGE Greek Yogurt. (I’ve mentioned this recently) This thick creamy Greek yogurt is my favorite—happens to be Baby A’s too. I finally got M. to ditch the overly sugared crap for it and now, with a bit of honey, it’s his favorite too.

2. Zen Muffins, preferrably the raspberry/blueberry oat variety. These are high fiber, naturally sweet, and vegan. I started eating these for breakfast when I commuted 40 miles on the 405 freeway to work. They’re the perfect car breakfast.

3. Yogurt cheese. M. discovered this cheese at Trader Joe’s. It’s dairy without the lactose-induced issues. Best part is that it melts well.

4. Almond Butter. I could eat freshly ground nut butter by the spoonful. This is childhood on a spoon for me. The Scottsdale Whole Foods offers to grind almonds with chocolate. Yum! Especially when served on a toasted whole wheat bagel (that’s still warm) topped with raspberry whole fruit spread or bananas.

5. Ice Cream. I think this post says it best.

5 Fabulous Foods I Can’t Live Without

When in Doubt, Buy Staples

I like going to the grocery store, but I hate planning my meals prior to shopping. So when I’m not inspired by the aisles of pretty packaging I know that I can feed my family with these three staples:

Fage Yogurt. This thick creamy Greek yogurt is my favorite. Turns out it’s Baby A’s too. And, finally I convinced M to ditch the sweet crap for it. Now, the problem is I can’t seem to buy enough of it.

Egg whites. I can create any kind of omelet with whatever is in the refrigerator with a carton of egg whites. It creates the perfect dish—protein and vegetable in one.

Frozen vegetables. I especially keep chopped onions on hand because you never know when you may need them and it saves so much time. But otherwise, frozen vegetables can be cooked with pasta for an easy and quick pasta primavera or sauteed and served over rice.

Time to share! What are some of your food staples?

When in Doubt, Buy Staples

In the Market for a Farmer?

This week Baby A and I went to the farmer’s market in Santa Monica. It was his second, but the first time that he was in the Baby Bjorn carrier. This give him a front row seat to all the action: the farmers, the fruit, the flowers and the vegetables. He loved it, sampling nectarines, berries, basil and oranges. He even picked out his own tomato, which he carried and chewed on as we shopped.

I have always enjoyed the market. I love the way it smells. I love talking to the farmers about how they grow their food and why they do so. I love the food when I get home. It tastes better than anything I ever buy at the grocery store and, as a result, I eat more fruits and vegetables. It has always been a time investment in my health. Now, that Baby A is enjoying it too; it feeds my body and my soul.

Note: The title of this post may seem a bit weird. It comes from M. who asks each time I return from the farmer’s market if I bought a farmer.

In the Market for a Farmer?

A Purposeful Dinner

There’s something about cooking dinner that I really enjoy. I’m not sure what it is—planning the menu, looking through the cupboards, figuring out what I can make, chopping vegetables, or using all of my senses. Whatever it may be, one of the reasons is it signifies the day is ending.

When I was working full-time, cooking dinner was the way I marked that it was time to stop. This can be a difficult thing when your place of work is your home, but for some reason preparing a meal helped create that boundary. Now, it has lots of holes in it. (In fact, I’m writing this from my laptop in the kitchen.) I’ve taken multi-tasking to a new level—cooking, writing and care taking.

There also was a time that I carefully planned dinner because I saw it as a pre-workout meal for early morning workout sessions. Now, I make what sounds good (thank you Food Network) and eat according to my hunger. I still workout early, but I don’t depend on dinner to fuel it.

Ultimately, if I really had to say why dinner is my favorite meal, it would be because it’s the one I share with family and friends the most—whether it’s Sunday night dinner or meeting friends at The Border Grill or sitting down each evening to enjoy it with my husband. The latter is a ritual I hope to continue as Baby A gets older. When I was a kid, I ate dinner in my room in front of the television. (LOTS of Brussel sprouts got flushed down the toilet.) It was a bit lonely. Instead, I want him to experience dinner as it is intended—a fun, social and tasty close of a day.

A Purposeful Dinner

He Was My ‘Top Chef’

I’m a bit of a cooking show junkie; it’s a habit I inherited from my father. Before the Food Network was even conceived, he would sit with his cookbooks in front of the television following along and taking notes from Julia Childs and Graham Kerr. He was an eager student—gaining knowledge to fuel his passion. It wasn’t just that he loved to cook; he loved perfecting dishes.  Once in his quest for the ultimate linguine and white clam sauce recipe, he gained 40 pounds.

So in this age of 24/7 food shows  and cooking-themed reality television, I can’t help but think that my dad may have made an appearance on any one of the competitions—The Next Food Network Star, Rachel Ray’s So You Think You Can Cook, Ultimate Recipe Showdown, etc. He would have been a good contestant, too.

It wouldn’t have hurt that my dad was a bit of a ham. Which is probably why he loved entertaining. He instilled in me the importance of being a good host, and the role of good food and good conversation for a successful event. He helped form my appreciation of the art and the soul of a meal. This is the gift I treasure the most from him. And each time, I watch Alton Brown, Guy Fieri, or Bobby Flay, I think of my dad. Hopefully I have become half the student in the kitchen as he was.

He Was My ‘Top Chef’