4.27.2017

What we ate: dinner series.

It's Thursday so we're back for another installment of dinner recipes! This week was all about fries and wings with some steak, pasta (always pasta!) and salad. 

The first meal we have for you was inspired by my love for the Outback. It seems like all the locations near us are closing up shop and I'm sad about it! I love their aussie cheesefries and side salad so Sean tried to recreate it for me. It was a success!

- - - - -


Bacon cheese fries -- 

Ingredients:
4 medium russet potatoes (sliced)
oil for deep frying (vegetable/canola/peanut)
1 cup monterey jack/colby cheese
2 slices bacon (cooked)

Seasoning:
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¾ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
½ teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon ground thyme

ranch dressing

Preheat oil to 375 degrees in a deep fryer. Submerge all of the sliced potatoes in a large bowl filled with cold water for 30 minutes. Combine all of the seasoning ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Remove potato slices from the water and place onto a clean towel. Blot dry. Fry potato slices for 8 to 12 minutes in hot oil until light brown. Drain fries on a rack or paper towels and sprinkle with some of the seasoning.

Arrange the seasoned fries on an oven-safe plate. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle the cheese over the fries. Crumble the bacon and sprinkle it over the cheese. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes, until cheese is melted. Serve with ranch dressing on the side && and the salad below (you know, to balance out all the calories. ha.)


Classic Salad --

Ingredients:
package of spinach and arugula Salad
1 roma tomato (cubed)
1 red onion (sliced)
1 cucumber (cubed)
croutons
monterey jack/colby cheese

Assemble salad and top with toppings.

- - - - -


Shrimp Scampi --

Ingredients:
6 oz small raw shrimp
1 ½ stick of salted butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic (minced)
1 shallot (minced)
¼ cup fresh parsley (chopped small)
parmesan cheese
pasta
kosher Salt
pepper

In a large pan (Le Creuset Dutch Oven) put 2 tablespoons of olive oil. On medium high heat, sauté and sweat out garlic and shallots until translucent. Chop 1 stick of butter into 6 equal slices. Turn down heat to low-medium and add in 1 piece of butter at a time. Mix everything together to make sure the garlic and shallots do not burn. Every time the butter is almost completely melted, add in another piece until all are gone. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and continue stirring frequently.

In another sauté pan on low medium heat add a ½ stick of butter. Once melted, add in shrimp. Salt and pepper to your preference and mix frequently. Once the shrimp turns pink with red tails and the flesh is slightly opaque and a little white in color, it's done. Set it aside.

In a large pot, boil water and cook pasta according to instructions. If fresh, it should only take 2-3 minutes. Make sure to take the pasta out a little al dente because it will finish cooking in the large pan.

Once pasta is done, toss in the garlic, shallots, oil, and butter. Mix in ¼ cup of parsley. Serve on a plate and top with some fresh pieces of parsley, parmesan, and the shrimp. Enjoy! It's especially good with garlic bread!

- - - - -


Garlic Parmesan Deep Fried Chicken Wings --

Ingredients:
4.5-5lbs Chicken Wings (break down into drumette/wingette and toss tip)
Parmesan Garlic Wing Sauce
Oil for Deep Frying (Vegetable/Canola/Peanut)

Dry Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon adobo
1 tablespoon garlic powder
Half a packet of goya sazon cultantro y achiote
A couple spins of fresh black pepper

Set the deep fryer to 325F. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. Toss the wings until they are all evenly coated. Set aside and let sit for 10-15 minutes.

Toss the wings in the deep fryer for about 10 minutes until they are a light golden color. Take out and set aside. Set the deep fryer to 350F. Once ready, toss the wings back in until they are crispy and golden brown.

Take wings out and toss in a bowl with the parmesan garlic wing sauce. Don’t put too much or you will get rid of the crispiness! We had this with our favorite fries (recipe in this post)!

- - - - -


Beef tenderloin filets with habanero butter --

Ingredients:

For the filets:
2, 2 lb center-cut beef tenderloin cut into 2 inch steaks
kosher salt & cracked black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the butter:
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 habanero, seeded, minced
zest and juice of a lime
2 tablespoons minced shallot
2 tablespoons minced roasted garlic
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 or 5 turns of fresh ground black pepper

Saute garlic and shallots together and sweat out until translucent. Add all the ingredients together for the butter. Wrap in Saran wrap and make the shape of a stick of butter. Put in the fridge and let set. Heat the oven to 425F. Heat a cast iron skillet to high heat. Once hot, pour olive oil in pan and sear steak on one side for 1-3 minutes. Make sure it doesn't burn. Flip it over and put a half stick of butter in pan. Baste the steak in the butter for 1-3 minutes. Stick in oven on a broil pan for 5-7 minutes until medium rare. Take out of oven and cover with tin foil. Let rest for 5-7 minutes. Put habanero butter on top of steaks and serve. We had these steaks with mashed potatoes -- so delicious!

We'll be back next week with more meals in under an hour!




4.24.2017

Why does time move so quickly?


The photo on the left popped up on my "on this day" feature on Facebook -- it was April 24, 2016. The photo on the right was taken last Thursday -- he turned 19 months. You guys. Why is he such an adult? I mean, his sneakers and his little popped collar jacket and his backpack. You guys... his backpack?! I really can't believe it. 

I say it all the time and I truly mean it -- I never understood why people always talked about time moving quickly especially once you have kids but it's so true. I blink and Javi has some new skill, some new characteristic or some new behavior. I look away for a second and he has another tooth, has grown another inch or no longer needs me to do something for him. Every time I look at him, he's different. He's so interested in learning life skills -- emptying the dishwasher is a favorite but he's totally invested in putting on his own shoes and socks, his clothing, his diaper, opening his own snacks, walking up and down the stairs by himself, WALKING everywhere, climbing up the scary structures on the playground... the list goes on. 

He's a dare devil and a love bug all rolled into one. He's no longer the squishy, cuddly guy in the left picture but now he gives me hugs and calls me mama and kisses me and makes the "mwah" sound. He brushes my hair after he brushes his and he says "ahhhhh" when I brush his teeth and then always insists it's his turn to try. He says cat and dog and walk and up and down and water and milk and car -- and tries to copy everything we say though the sounds are a bit jumbled still. 

He's sneaky and silly and has so much energy. He takes down the gates, sneaks past them and then puts them back up as if it never happened. He helps himself to the snack cabinet and will eat an entire sleeve of ritz crackers. He loves Curious George and Mickey. He loves listening to music and dances but especially loves when I pick him up and we dance together. He loves reading the same books over and over again and doesn't get bored of them. He loves petting the cats and is generally pretty gentle. At the end of a busy day he curls up on the couch with me and puts a blanket over him to snuggle with me. He puts his little hand on mine and he makes my heart melt.

Don't get me wrong, there are days I look back and think "wow, that was terrible" or think that I should have handled a situation differently, said different words, stayed cool and collected or didn't yell or get frustrated. There are days I'm tired especially after working all day with kids and then I come home to Javi and there's no down time at all. I'll always say I never questioned myself as much as I did after becoming a mother. It's hard. Every age is a different type of hard and every day he requires something different from me. But ultimately, my goal is to be the kind of mom that Javi needs me to be. Right now, that means dancing in the living room and giving him hugs on the couch. It means drawing with sidewalk chalk and running around in the yard blowing bubbles even after a 12 hour work day. It means giving him the time to put on his shoes or pick out his hat and explaining what's going to happen next. It means planning fun family weekend outings, even if it's to the grocery store. It means slowing down, not rushing to the car and letting him have a few minutes on the front steps of the house just watching the cars drive by. :) There's always a reason to slow down and take it all in, right?!

4.23.2017

Boston Science March.


On Saturday we joined thousands of others on the Boston Common for the Science March. The organizers planned it for Earth Day and there were so many people who came out to celebrate science and to support funding sciences, and to fight new (and existing) policies that make it impossible for scientists to research and share their findings. There were speakers and events for children and despite the rain -- we had a fun time! Javi always enjoys being in a crowd and I'm very glad that he's participated in 2 rallies in his little life. I'm sure there will be many more in the future. 
Funny story about Javi's jacket: I was so sure he'd be in 24 month clothes this winter because of the rate he had been growing. So I ordered this (similar) jacket and matching snow pants. But it's so big on him and he could never wear it. Since it's the end of the season, but Saturday was so cold,  I decided he WAS GOING to wear it at least once even though the sleeves were super long and he was so stiff and couldn't move! I know that it'll be too small for him next season. 

We didn't bring a sign. With a toddler already to carry it just seemed like one more thing to keep track of (and a waste of paper no less) so it seemed unnecessary. Here's a good list of some of the best signs from all the marches around the country but one of my favorites (which I didn't get a good picture of) said something like "Don't believe in science? Stop taking your antibiotics next time you get strep. See what happens." ha. :)

After the rally, we had drinks and appetizers with Sean's brother, Jamie and his girlfriend Frida here

It was a really good day and the amount of people who showed up to support science was an impressive relief. 

Did you go to a march this weekend?

4.20.2017

What we ate: dinner series.

Here's to another week of dinner meals! You can find more recipes here and here. This week we ate chicken tacos, coney island hot dogs and philly cheesesteaks! Javi was really only interested in the tacos -- toddlers! -- am I right?! I really thought he would like his first hot dog but he mostly just ate the ketchup (and the chili). 
- - - - -


Chicken --
You need:
- 3 Chicken Breasts
- 6 Chicken Thighs
- 2 12oz cans of Pickled Jalapeno slices
- Salt to Taste

Pico de Gallo -- (for the best flavor, make it the day before! Store it in the fridge)
You need:
- 3 roma tomatoes (cubed small)
- 1/3 cup red onion (finely chopped)
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
- 1 jalapeno (finely chopped)
- 1 lime (juiced)
- Salt to taste

Grab your crockpot and put the chicken and the jalapeno slices inside. Set it for 8 hours! 

Make tortillas. (Previous recipe)

After the 8 hours, take the chicken out of the crockpot and shred it in another bowl. Add some of the juices from the leftover jalapenos mix to your desired level of spiciness. Taste as you go and add salt if needed. Serve (you can add a cheese of your choice, too. We like monterey jack, cotija and queso fresco)!

- - - - -



For Chili -- 
You need:
- 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup diced onion
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper

For hot dogs --
You need:
- 8 all-beef hot dogs
- 8 hot dog buns
- 1/4 cup prepared yellow mustard, or to taste
- 1/4 cup diced onion, or to taste
- Fiesta Blend Cheese

Brown the ground beef in a little bit of olive oil in a pot. Combine ground beef, water, 1/2 cup diced onion, ketchup, butter, garlic, chili powder, salt, black pepper, cumin, celery salt, and cayenne pepper together in a pot. Mix with a potato masher or spatula over medium-high heat until mixture has a finely ground consistency and begins to bubble. It will take about 10 minutes.

Bring beef mixture to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and reduces, about 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook hot dogs in boiling water until heated through, 5 to 7 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Arrange hot dog buns on a baking sheet. Cook buns in the preheated oven until soft and warm, 2 to 3 minutes.

Place a hot dog in the bun and top with meat sauce and top with cheese. Drizzle yellow mustard and diced onion over the meat sauce. Repeat with remaining hot dogs. Serve!

- - - - -


You need:
- Sub rolls
- 1 lb. of Rib-eye (shaved thinly)
- 1 white onion (sliced thinly)
- 1 red, 1 orange, 1 yellow bell peppers (sliced thinly)
- 2 garlic cloves
- American cheese
- Extra virgin olive oil for grilling
- Salt and pepper

Heat a griddle of a large saute pan over medium-high hight. When hot, cover the bottom with olive oil. Add onion and bell peppers and cook, stirring until carmelized (6-8 minutes). Add garlic and salt and pepper and cook for another 30 seconds. Push the mixture off to one side of the griddle and add the meat onto the griddle (or pan). Cook continuously flipping the meat over and slightly chopping the meat into smaller pieces. Mix the meat, onions and bell peppers together. Divide into 2 portions and top both with cheese to melt. Fill sub rolls and serve!


4.19.2017

First ice cream cone.

On Monday we took Javi to get an ice cream cone! It was his first one and as expected it was a total melty, sticky mess. But he loved it (not only his but mine too -- my favorite is mint chocolate chip!). It was such a nice day and just seemed like the perfect time to sit outside and have a treat.
While we were sitting there with ice cream dripping down our arms as Javi was getting brain freezes (and ultimately just started using his fingers as a spoon) -- Sean and I started talking about the different ways we grew up. I asked if going out for ice cream -- like we were -- would have been a special treat, something he did with his family frequently, or something he could have asked for and gotten. Our answers were very different :) -- but I grew up with the ability to ask for something and typically I got it, whether it was a trip to get ice cream or some thing I wanted. Maybe it's because I'm
an only child!

It's interesting that after so many years together these conversations we've never had come up -- because of Javi. It's hard to find the right parenting balance between what we both experienced as kids and being able to mix in our own personal styles as well. I'd like to be the type of family that is always up for ice cream together. Any day of the week. Any time of year. Always.