Friday, March 30, 2012

A Pampers Takedown

I am fairly certain that Bubba would prefer to be a nudist.  Lately getting him dressed has become a wrestling match.  I was feeling rather creative today so I drew some pictures to illustrate our typical nightly duel.  [I guess that Intro to Drawing class they forced me to take for my associate's degree was useful after all. ; ) ]

First Bubba is bribed with distraction toys: rattles, teething rings, books, blocks.  

He does not want any of these and quickly tosses them onto the floor.  I give him his pajama bottoms and he triumphantly waves them in the air. His own clothes are a better distraction than toys at this point. Somehow they have the air of something forbidden--therefore they are coveted.

The pants distract him for about two seconds.  Bubba is freakishly strong and very flexible. He squiggles around 'til he manages to flip over, and then tries to crawl off the changing table.  I have tried using the seat belt on the changing table, but he just tries to choke himself with it.

Next we will zoom in for the victory pin! 

I form a 'V' with my left arm across his belly and then with other hand finish putting on his diaper and finally the PJs.  This maneuver so far has not backfired yet, but you will notice that my face is very close to the "splash zone".  I haven't gotten peed on as of yet, but I have a feeling it is only a matter of time...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Uncle Tim's Banana Bread

My brother once said "I'm a damn fine cook!" 

At the time, he really was not, most of his "kitchen experiments" were not something you wanted to eat. 

But now he has turned into a really good cook. His specialty is grilling and smoking meat, but he also makes a killer banana bread. I tweaked his recipe a little because I only had two bananas and his recipe calls for three so I added some apple sauce and omitted the cinnamon sugar topping that is sprinkled on top of the batter before baking because I didn't want it to have too much sugar for Bubba.

Tim’s Banana bread 
½ cup butter
1 cup sugar ( ½ brown sugar, ½ white)
2 eggs
2 crushed bananas
½ cup apple sauce
2 cups flour
 ¼ tsp. baking soda (+ slight extra)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger

           First cream the butter and sugar. 

 Add eggs apple sauce, and bananas. Mix dry ingredients and beat well with sugar mixture.

Add to muffin tins.

 Bake at 350, 30 minutes. 9x5 loaf pan or 16 muffins.  (I made muffins for Bubba)

Are you even a little surprised that Bubba loved these too? I swear he is like Mikey, he'll eat anything!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My Raspberry Mistake

One summer I went to stay at my grandmother "Ducky's" house for the week. My aunt didn't live too far away so she and my cousin had come over to hang out for the day. Ducky's house was out in the woods in Connecticut. She had a huge beautiful garden with raspberry patch. One afternoon my cousin and I picked a bunch of raspberries and Ducky suggested we make ice cream with her homemade ice cream maker. The instructions said that the cooling cylinder had to be in the freezer for a couple of hours before using the ice cream machine, but I told her my parents kept it in the freezer overnight.  She decided we should try it anyway....

After turning and turning (it was a hand crank ice cream maker) for what seemed like forever nothing had happened.  So Ducky decided to make raspberry whipped cream in her kitchen-aid mixer.  This did not go as planed either.

Raspberry seeds started shooting out of the mixer, flying around the kitchen. My cousin and I were rolling on the floor laughing. My aunt soon joined us.

In the end we had raspberry cream soup, and the kitchen was covered with raspberry seeds.  They were even  stuck in the speaker holes of Ducky's kitchen stereo. We called it "raspberry mistake" and anytime we had a kitchen mishap it was compared to raspberry mistake.

This is one of my favorite memories of Ducky. It taught me a great cooking lesson. Sometimes in the kitchen nothing goes as planned. You have to be prepared to improvise.

My intention was to make Sweet Potato, Apple, and Carrot Latkes. This was a "brilliant" idea I came up with while putting Bubba to bed one night. I began cooking at nap time at 11 am and ended up finishing during nap time at 3 pm, but don't worry--this recipe won't take you four hours to complete.

I started with:
3/8 cup flour
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 large sweet potato
2 apples
1 carrot
1 teaspoon cinnamon

First I chopped the sweet potato, apple, and carrots

Then I added the flour, milk, and eggs

I tried to pan fry them and the tester broke apart. So I added 1 additional egg and 1/3 cup of flour. 
Still no success. It just kept breaking apart.

So I called my mom. "I have a raspberry mistake!" I told her. She suggested baking them instead.
I scooped it into a mini muffin tin and baked at 350.

After 20 minutes or so it seemed that they would not solidify and I would have a baked filling that I couldn't get out of the pan.  I also still had half of the batter left. So I called in the big guns, my aunt. My aunt is a baking guru and owns Blackbird Baked Goods in Connecticut. "I have a raspberry mistake!", I told her. I described what I had done. The filling in the mini muffins could not have anything added--it would have to bake as is--and would probably end up like cobbler, but if I added some baking powder and more flour to the leftover batter maybe it could be salvaged. 

It turns out the leftover batter could not be salvaged.  It ended up very similar to a banana bread debacle I had just experienced the previous weekend.  Leathery outside, gooey middle. Oh well I figured. Lets see how the mini muffins turn out.

I left the filling in for another 25 minutes till it started to get golden brown on the edges. 

It actually worked out! 

Once they cooled the apple juice that formed from the apples baking in the mix made almost a caramelized glaze on the tops. 

They were a little tough to get out of the pan, but Bubba doesn't care about ripped muffin bottoms. They tasted delicious! 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Homemade Falafels

I have now completed the trifecta! Homemade Pita Bread, Hummus, and Falafels.

 Something I miss about not working in the Jewelry District in Chicago, besides the Latkes at Chanukah, is the falafel place. Found in the back of the Jewelers Mall in 21 N Wabash, this was one of my favorite restaurants, and actually the first place I ate at downtown during a diamond grading lab class. I have tried those packaged mixes and they aren't horrible, but they are nowhere near the same thing. I haven't quite got my falafels as good as Oasis Cafe yet, but they are the Falafel Masters!

2 cans chickpeas
2 cloves garlic
1/4 onion
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Recipe adapted from Diner's Journal NY Times

Put the ingredients in food processor and pulse till minced- not pureed

Then form into tight little patties.

The next step is tricky.  Falafels tend to come apart in the oil if it isn't hot enough.  You can deep fry them (at say 350 degrees) or pan fry them in oil, lightly browning the outsides.  Alternatively, you can bake them like I did and save yourself the headache of messing with oil.  I did it at 400 degrees for about 20 mins, flipping half way through.  They come out a little crumbly this way, but who cares?  They're going in a pita anyways.  I was thinking that next time I tried this, I would brush the outsides with oil before baking--that might add a little bit of crispiness to the outside.

Slice open a pita, spread a little hummus on it add a little lettuce and your falafel fresh out of the oven and enjoy!
Trifecta assembled!


Friday, March 23, 2012

Pancake Battered Apple Rings

Apples are a little tough for Bubba to eat. They break off into pieces that are a little rough, but when they are cooked, they are perfect for him. A while back on Pinterest I saw a suggestion to batter apples with pancake batter and fry them but there was no official recipe with it. I usually would use Bisquick for pancake batter, but the sodium is really high for Bubba so I did some googleing and found a homemade pancake batter mix at, it seemed a little bland so I tweaked it a little.

1 1/2 cups flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons melted butter

2 apples (I used golden delicious)

First skin and core the apples then cut into rings about 1/4 inch thick.

Mix up the batter.

Dip the apple slices in and pan fry. Flip when golden brown dry on a paper towel.


I like mine with ginger syrup.

And as usual, Bubba really liked them!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Bubba loves musicals. And he loves Glee. Every Tuesday when Glee is on we let him watch the beginning of the show, but he has to wait till the next day to see the end because bedtime is at 8 pm, and he still has to take a bath before bed. He completely ignores the talking parts of the show, but once a song comes on he drops everything, and watches the whole song before resuming whatever he was doing before the song started.

Watching Glee

Since he loves music so much we put DVDs of musicals on TV for him, or play the sound tracks. The problem is a lot of the musicals we love have adult themes, and are a bit inappropriate for babies.

Here are some of our favorite inappropriate musicals:

Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog-
This is one of  the greatest musicals ever. Created during the writer's strike by Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly; and director of the upcoming Avengers movie) it stars Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and, Felicia Day.  This musical originally aired on the web in three parts, but has a hilarious musical commentary and extras that are totally worth buying the DVD for.  Anyway, I don't have too much of a problem with the content of the songs, but there are a couple of lines that I never want Bubba to utter at preschool, like Captain Hammer's classic line at the end of this scene.

One of my favorites, but still many inappropriate lyrics and adult content.  He's still a little too young to be learning about drug abuse and aids.

Book of Mormon-
Very clever. But the most wildly inappropriate lyrics of any musical ever made, ever.  And when I say ever, I mean ever.  Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. What do you expect from the South Park guys?  But...the songs are so catchy, we just cannot help but listen to the sound track.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Red Bell Pepper Chicken Cakes

I was feeling creative the other day, so I did some kitchen experiments. First I made corn fritters (which turned out great!) but then I needed some kind of meat to go with them. I wanted to make some kind of meatball style thing because Bubba is great with most foods but meat is still a little tricky for him to get down, depending on how it is cooked. This is what I came up with. They were really quite good. After making them I think that they would be really good pan fried, too (kinda like crab cakes).  I think I will try them that way next time, because they are a little difficult to get out of the muffin tins (even with liners sprayed with cooking spray).

Here's what you'll need:
3 small chicken breasts (precooked till no longer pink)
1 red bell pepper
12 mushrooms
1/4 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon parsley

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour

Chop all the ingredients and combine. (I of course use my mini chopper)

Mix egg milk and flour to make a batter.

Mix batter and veggie chicken combo together.

Scoop out into muffin tins and bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes.


 Bubba approved! He tore through these things like "Mr. Peepers"!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Corn fritters

My grandfather lived on the Eastern Shore in Maryland. He was a very good cook. His specialty was crab cakes, because his back yard dropped right off into the bay. He actually won a crab cooking contest in his town: The National Hard Crab Derby of Crisfield, Maryland. He was thrilled. He liked to brag that he beat out all those little old biddies in town. A man, and a yankee to boot! His recipe was even published in a cookbook. Blue Ribbon Family Favorites.

Now I didn't mean to get your hopes up about a crab cake recipe, because this is actually my corn fritter recipe. (I promise I'll do the crab cakes sometime. It is hard to get good Maryland Blue Crab in Illinois.)
My Grandfather also made really good corn fritters and for some reason I was thinking of them today. His recipe is based on a recipe from The Joy of Cooking (or as it is known in our family "The Chef's Bible") The last time he made them for me he was on a dill kick because he had a dill plant in his garden. The dill was quite good, but I happen to be on a chive kick lately so I substituted chives for dill.

Corn Fritters
(Adapted from The Joy of Cooking and my Grandpa Mal)

2 cups frozen corn (defrosted)
1 tablespoon milk
2 egg yolks beaten
3/8 cup flour
1 teaspoon chives 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 egg whitens beaten till stiff

Mix together all ingredients except egg whites, then fold them in to the batter at the end.

Drop heaping tablespoon into hot oil.

Flip when golden brown.

Set out to cool on paper towel (to absorb oil).


Bubba sure did!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bubba's Mango Tree

Bubba loves mango! Look at this face, He is in mango heaven!

So when I accidentally split the mango rusk open while cutting it and saw the actual seed I  was tempted to try to grow it. I know realistically I probably will not grow mango fruit in my house, but hey we can dream.

I waited till nap time then googled it. This guy on youtube has a very long video with instructions. He seems to really know what he is talking about and grows a lot of things indoors. He was describing growing a large pumpkin the size of a kid in his upstairs room and letting the vines climb down stairs along his banister. Anyone willing to go that far must really love plants and further more must be really good at growing weird outdoor plants inside. I'll let you watch his video on how to get the mango out of the rusk. If I do it again for the pictures, I'll be tempted to try and grow that seed too, and the next and so on. At the rate that Bubba eats mango the house will be covered with little pots of dirt.

He said to put it in a 6 inch pot filled with soil. And to keep the pit wrapped in a wet paper towel in plastic wrap till you are ready to plant. Check!

Then put the seed in with the pointy part of it (where the root and stem will come out) in the center of the pot.

Cover with 1 inch of soil, water and cover with plastic wrap and rubber band it down.

The you leave it in a warm place. Like a shelf. But not in the sun. You don't even have to water it. The plastic wrap forms a little green house. After about 2 weeks it should start to sprout.

Now we wait....

10 days later something is starting to sprout...

Day 13:  It  actually looks like a little plant now! Little leaves are opening up.

Day 14:  I swear it has grown an inch overnight! This is reminiscent of Little Shop of Horrors!

Day 16:  It is now 7 inches high! If I stop posting in this blog you know why....
Feed me Seymour!

Day 19: The mango tree is now over 12 inches high and the leaves have opened. I think we'll call this experiment a success!

Day 34. The mango tree is now 16 inches high. It seems to have stopped the rapid growth in height and is focused on the leaves now.