Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Recipe repeat: tomato gratin

I have already shared this recipe with you, but I thought I should share it again. If you have an abundance of tomatoes from your garden (like we do!) than you're probably looking for recipes like this one:

2-3 large tomatoes
2 T fresh chopped basil
1 c bread crumbs
1 grated garlic clove
1/3 c grated parmesan cheese
2 T olive oil

Preheat oven to 450. Slice tomatoes 1/2" thick and arrange in a lightly oiled baking dish (any 8" or 9" dish works). Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Add chopped basil.

If you have bread you are trying to get rid of, you can make bread crumbs, and it's worth the extra effort (I use this bread crumb recipe all the time) but store-bought panko bread crumbs work just fine too.

Pulse bread in food processor. Heat olive oil in pan, add garlic clove, cooking for one minute. Add bread crumbs (fresh or store-bought). Cook for 3-4 minutes (less for store-bought) and remove from heat. Stir in parmesan cheese.

Top tomatoes with the bread crumb mixture. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes until cooked through. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Also, this recipe works well with zucchini too!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Home buying nightmare

I usually don't use this blog for this purpose, but I feel so strongly about this issue that I have to say something here. I heard about this story months ago and read the article in the newspaper yesterday.

It wasn't the article that bothered me, it was the comments. Many of the comments were negative and directed toward the family that purchased the home. Maybe it's difficult to feel empathy for a successful and well-off family, but I am still shocked at the underlying jealousy in the comments.

I agree that this story is an extreme and we all know that news loves sensationalism. But the readers seem to be so focused on the circumstances of this extreme (the price of the home, the owner's job description, the home inspection) and the lessons are lost on those readers who can't see past their envy.

I learned during the purchase of our latest home, that all realtors (even your own) represent the seller unless you have a signed document stating otherwise. This allows realtors a certain protection. Even though we were aware of this, we were still the victims of some misrepresented information.

Also, those who have purchased a home and had a home inspection know that a home inspection has no guarantees and the inspector can not be held liable. Our first home inspector caught many problems and saved us money, but our second inspector failed to notice the most obvious items.

I am surprised that readers were critical of the family for being too trusting of the sellers. It saddens me to think that we can be criticized for not being a cynic and instead seeing the good in people (and our neighbors).

When I was in high school, I may have been able to relate to the critical comments. There were times I was envious (and sometimes critical) of those who lived more privileged lives. But as an adult and mother, I don't like seeing bad things happen to anyone, no matter their income level.

There is a lesson about home buying in this article for those who wish to see it. But there's also a lesson on compassion and life for those who don't.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Happy Friday

I saw this adorable interview the other day of two daughters explaining themselves after one gave the other a horrible haircut. Did you ever give your sibling a haircut? I have to apologize to my brother because I did (more than once) give him a bad haircut. But okay, don't you think it's harder to cut boys hair than girls?! I don't think I ever cut my sister's hair, but I'm sure I burned her with a curling iron once or twice.

Here's a picture of Emmerson getting her first haircut recently. And of course that little monkey let the hair stylist comb her hair, cut it and put clips in it.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

French toast breakfast for two

This morning we made the most delicious french toast for breakfast. My mom has been buying Emmerson a honey bear at the farmer's market - she loves the bear and we all love the fresh honey. The honey was a great addition to our french toast recipe.

We used one egg, one egg white, a tablespoon of honey, 1/2 cup of vanilla soymilk (you could use any milk and add a teaspoon of vanilla), 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon. Whisk ingredients together and pour into a pie dish. Soak four slices of bread for 10-20 seconds on each side.

In a pan or griddle on medium heat, add a tablespoon of butter. Cook french toast approximately 3-5 minutes per side.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Low-fat snickerdoodles

I hope you had a relaxing weekend!

I had a cookie craving all weekend, but didn't want something full of fat and calories. I found a cookie recipe on Cooking Light, but made a couple substitutes of my own. This cookie is just sweet enough to satisfy a sweet tooth.

1 1/2 c white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t cream of tartar
1 c sugar
1/4 c room temperature butter
1 T agave nectar
1 t vanilla extract
1 room temperature egg
2 T sugar
2 t cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Just a little trick: spray the corner of the baking sheet with cooking spray before using parchment paper. It will prevent the paper from moving while you're taking the pan in and out of the oven.

Combine flour, baking soda and cream of tartar in a small bowl.

Mix 1 c sugar and 1/4 c butter until blended. Add agave, vanilla and egg. Gradually add the flour mixture until combined. With wet hands, shape dough into one inch balls.

Combine 2 T sugar and 2 t cinnamon in a bowl. Roll each ball in cinnamon sugar mixture.

Bake for 3 minutes and flatten each cookie slightly with a spatula or fork. Bake for an additional 3-5 minutes until lightly browned. Makes approximately 20 cookies. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Three day potty training

I was skeptical of this idea, but I'm happy to report it has worked for us! I remember reading somewhere in college that it takes 14 times to create a habit. I suppose three day potty training is based on a similar theory in that we need to stay home for three days until she goes 10-12(ish) times in a row.

I read about the details online and since I knew we had a couple days at home (my car was being fixed) I thought I'd give it a try. We had tried potty training one time earlier, but I quickly realized that I was the one that needed to be ready (I have to remind her to go, stop what I'm doing and take her to the bathroom every 10-15 minutes).

On day three we went out for a celebratory dinner. The thought of being away from her little potty made me nervous. It was hard for her to use a public bathroom at first and there may be something to say for those who believe you shouldn't use a children's potty and just teach them to go on the regular toilet. But after a couple of outings, she has mastered the public bathroom too.

I'm so proud of this little girl!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Berry crisp with maple-almond topping

I hope you had a good weekend! We painted Emmerson's big girl room (I will share pictures in a couple weeks when we have things cleaned up and set up) and we went to the Arlington Heights horse track with family.

Last week, while Emmerson was potty training and we were looking for things to do in the house, we made this fruit crisp. It was delicious with a scoop of ice cream.

Filling ingredients
6 c berries (I used blackberries, blueberries and a diced pear)
2 T maple syrup
1 t balsamic vinegar
3 T sugar
3 T flour
1/8 t salt
1/8 t cinnamon

Crisp ingredients
1/2 c flour
2/3 c oats
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c toasted almonds (or other nut)
1/4 t salt
3 T canola oil
3 T maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350. Coat baking dish with cooking spray. Wash berries and put in bowl with sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon. Whisk maple syrup and balsamic vinegar together and add to bowl. Stir until combined. Put filling ingredients into baking dish.

Whisk together canola oil and maple syrup in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, oats, brown sugar, toasted almonds and salt. Drizzle oil and syrup mixture over dry ingredients. Use fingers to combine until small clumps form. Pour crisp mixture over filling.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until top is lightly browned.

And pictures of the big winner and Emmerson at the horse races.

Friday, August 10, 2012

...And an easy chickpea salad

Last weekend we brought a simple lunch with us down to the lake. I made this chickpea salad with veggies we had in our garden and refrigerator. 

1 can chickpeas, rinsed
1/2 english cucumber or 1 regular cucumber (seeds removed), chopped
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
1/3 c olive mixture in oil and seasoning, halved
1/4 c feta cheese crumbled

You can buy the olive mixture at the grocery store in the olive bar or deli. Sometimes the mixture has feta cheese. If so, you can buy that rather than buying the feta separately. Just make sure to buy the olives in oil and seasoning.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

More pictures...

I meant to post pictures earlier this week, but we were in the middle of a three-day potty training. I am happy to report that Emmerson is potty trained (when we're home, during the day). We've made so much progress.

We've been enjoying the last couple weekends of summer: hiking down the bluff to swim in Lake Michigan, catching a concert, a pancake breakfast and Discovery World. We're looking forward to spending more time with family this weekend and maybe starting another painting project.

Have a wonderful weekend.



Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Weeknight meal: Eggs and kohlrabi hash

1 large kohlrabi
1 T olive oil
1 garlic clove
2 eggs
2 pieces of bread
2 T herb or plain goat cheese
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425. Peel and chop one large or two-three small kohlrabi bulbs (that is a bulb, right?) and spread on baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 T olive oil and toss to coat. Add a grated/minced garlic clove and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brown.

As the kohlrabi is roasting, cook the egg. I have to admit that I didn't know how to make a fried egg until last week. The trick is to cook it on low heat (if you have a gas stove, the blue flame should barely be visible) and don't touch it.

Melt 1/2 T butter in the fry pan and crack the eggs into the pan, being careful not to damage the yolk, and cover. Toast bread slices. When bread is toasted and still warm, spread with goat cheese. Divide eggs, loosen from pan with spatula and season with salt and pepper. Place cooked egg on goat cheese toast and serve with roasted kohlrabi.

Cute baby wrap

Any moms-to-be out there? We used the Baby Bjorn for Emmerson, but I sure wish I had known about this adorable baby carrier!

The Wrap by Solly Baby from Memorialist Media on Vimeo.

Friday, August 3, 2012

And we made it.

Whew, it's Friday. It was a busy week both because my husband was swamped with work and because we packed in so many activities. We hosted a play date/lunch, did some shopping and had lunch downtown, went to the zoo, played at the park and went to the pool.

We are looking forward to spending time with friends this weekend. And hopefully sleeping in if Emmerson allows it. Have a good weekend!

I'll leave you with a few pictures from our week.
Testing out a big girl bed. Hmm...she says she won't jump on the bed or get out in the middle of the night.

This naughty baby spent the day in time-out. Seemed excessive to me, but who am I to say.

Just dancing around.

Look, an elephant!

See, ice cream. This is as good as it gets for a "posed" picture these days.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mudroom makeover

I thought I'd start decorating in the smallest (easiest) and most functioning area of the house - our side/garage entrance and mudroom. I painted a week ago and needed a couple days to touch-up, hang pictures and get it exactly how I wanted it. It has motivated me to keep going with other rooms in the house - the crown molding and woodwork look amazing against the dark walls.



Source List
Paint: Benjamin Moore James River Gray
Hooks: RH vintage hook in satin nickel
Baskets: CB wire baskets
Chalk tags: Save On Crafts
Clock: Save On Crafts
Pictures: Various framed cards

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Eggplant pizzas

In our house, we're serious about our pizza. There are times it's the only thing we can get our little one to eat, so I'm always trying to reinvent the original pizza.

We bought some fresh eggplant at the farmer's market and the first thing that popped into my head was  mini pizzas.

1 large eggplant
8 oz. can of pizza sauce (or make you're own by blending a can of diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, and a grated garlic clove)
12 slices of pepperoni (optional)
1 c grated mozzerella
1/2 c garlic breadcrumbs (I usually have these breadcrumbs in my freezer, but you can also buy them)
1 T chopped basil (optional)

Preheat oven to 375.

Slice eggplant into 1/2" rounds. Drizzle both sides with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, garlic salt and garlic powder.

Roast for 10 minutes until soft.

Put one slice of pepperoni on each eggplant round. Just a tip about the pepperoni: I always buy it from the deli at our grocery store. It's less expensive than packaged and you can buy what you need. Add a tablespoon of sauce, mozzerella cheese and breadcrumbs to each round. Bake for an additional 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted. Add chopped basil. An easy recipe even kids can enjoy!
© Lake House Effect. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.