Thursday, August 30, 2007

the way i roll

did i mention how wonderfully my queso fresco turned out last friday? when i started, i was worried it wouldn't work, but figured my back up would work fine. then it came together rather suddenly (one moment i was stirring hot milk, the next it had separated into curds and whey). it was a big hit with everyone and all of it was eaten.

the sabayon turned out beautifully as well. i was very happy with the finished product - creamy, light and airy, with a balanced and slightly complex flavor. it is a very rich dessert, and the warm pineapple helped to counter that heaviness. there was some left over, so on saturday morning i picked up some homemade bread from the amish bakers at the new berlin farmer's market and made french toast with cognac sabayon sunday morning. it was delicious and rather rich on fried bread. not that that stopped us. :)

last night for dinner i threw together some chile rellenos. i had gotten some poblanos at the west allis farmer's market the previous week with the intention of stuffing them with something. i roasted the peppers over an open flame, and browned some ground beef with onions, garlic, cumin, corriander, ancho chile powder, tomato powder, and beef stock. i had some muenster on hand to add as well (my backup cheese from friday night). i was worried about the peppers' structural integrity, however, since they were small, and broke while i was cleaning them. but, i managed to roll the meat and cheese into them fairly well. i coated them in a light dusting of flour, then rolled them in egg batter (egg whites beaten stiff, then beaten with a pinch of salt and egg yolks). they went into hot oil, and the batter managed to help hold everything in (even the ooey gooey melting cheese). i served that with fresh white corn that i had gotten at the market. it was delish. not bad for throwing dinner together with what we had on hand.

we're meeting tonight with a child care provider. she watches a very small group of children out of her home. we've been communicating via email, and she sounds very good; her policy furthers this confidence. so we're excited to meet with her and see the space. child care is so expensive it is crazy, so we're exploring all our options to see where we can get the most bang for our buck. obviously, we're willing to spend a reasonable amount to ensure his proper care and development, but would really like it not not take a giant bite out of our budget. :) we had been looking at places like kindercare, but having a nanny-type would really be nice. a smaller group, more individualized attention, a better personal relationship - there are lots of pros. she is an elementary teacher with 2 small children of her own, and is located a few miles from our house. we had been discussing having him close to my work place, so i could drop in at lunch and such, but decided closer to home would work better. this will allow bryan to drop off/pick up in case i have to work late, or am out of town on business. we're pretty excited so i am hoping this interview goes well. it would be one less thing to worry about!

i can't believe it's about september already! shannon leaves for school this weekend. :( we are puppysitting belle while mom and dad drive her and her mountain of stuff to her new apartment in minneapolis. i even promised to check in on the cats.

it promises to be a busy weekend; nothing critical but lots of running around as usual. saturday is errand day. farmer's market in the morning, and we're going to go out to the super amigo grocer in waukesha to check out some hispanic produce and meats. they don't charge $12.99/lb for flank steak like the white grocers do. it's more like $3.99/lb. see, if you tell white people it's chic, they'll pay anything. ;) there will be a trip to target somewhere in there, and picture hanging around the house. my uncle frank and aunt linda are having a get together sunday afternoon, and dad and bryan plan on smoking some giant cut of meat monday for labor day. i'm going to push for brisket. we'll see what the super amigo has. there should also be a nap or two, and hopefully maggie and i can meet up for a lunch/dinner/movie date. in short, i plan on shopping and eating a lot. pretty much all the things i like to do!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

30 weeks

30 weeks, 9 more to go. the past 30 weeks have positively flown by. so i have a feeling the next 9 will seem like nothing. although, i would prefer 8. hopefully oliver knows this.

he has been growing like a maniac: witness my belly. he's got strong legs and lets me know it. this morning, he managed to wedge his leg right up into my ribs, preventing me from bending over. bryan had to put on my sock since i couldn't reach my foot. if i tried to bend, i got some serious kicks to the ribs. the boy likes his space.

the nursery is almost complete. just need to hang pictures. we bought recliners this weekend (found a good "2for" deal); mine is currently in our bedroom (where i am attempting to break it in with nighttime reading), and bryan's is in the basement awaiting xbox gaming. just need to get my medela stool.

and then i think we are ready! we'll still have to get items like baby aspirin, diaper creme, etc, but that can wait. :) i'm gearing up for some serious fall cooking, so i can package and freeze meals. that way when we're dead tired and on a newborn's schedule, all we will have to do is pull out a container from the freezer and voila! - homemade tortellini. what can i say, i am a planner.

Friday, August 24, 2007

little toes

had a new experience with oliver last night. as i was laying on the couch, and he was kicking the bejesus out of me as normal, i was actually able to feel his little hand/arm/leg/foot with my hand! he kept kicking along the same spot, and pushing whichever extremity it was against my belly, and i could actually feel his little limbs, and rub his leg (or whatever it was). it was pretty neat and totally crazy. it didn't seem to bother him, as he kept coming back for more. :)

he also kept kicking last night when it was bedtime, and kept me up for a bit. he would stop if i rubbed my belly but start right back up again if i stopped. he eventually settled down and let me get to sleep, though he did wake me up for a bit awhile later. just prepping me, i guess...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

visions of sugarplums

starting my list of prep for tomorrow's dinner. mom, dad, shannon, gram, and gramps are coming over for a farewell dinner party before shannon leaves for school next weekend.

planning a menu with shannon in mind is tougher than one may think. she doesn't eat anything with sugar or carbs. she also won't eat anything with fat, visible or not (not to mention imagined or not). so that leaves out most steaks, the good kinds of pork, anything fried, anything with bacon, anything with cream... just about anything we would normally eat.

so i've planned to make leonora's chicken tostadas. shh we won't tell her that the tostadas are fried corn tortillas. if she doesn't see me fry em, she won't even know. these tostadas are replicas of ones we had in mexico from leonora's loncheria on isla mujeres. it's a fresh fried corn tortilla slathered with sour cream, and layered with avocado, tomato, lettuce, chicken, queso fresco, and the coup d'état (in my heart) - pickled red onions. it's what makes the dish. we'll serve the tostadas with some pinto beans on the side.

i plan on making my own rennet free queso freso. i've been having a hard time finding it in a store nearby, and i refuse to have to drive far for something so simple as queso fresco. so i'll try to whip up a batch of my own, and the grocery store can suck it. we'll see how it goes. i plan on having a back up of some kind on hand, however, just in case!

for dessert, i picked up a fresh pineapple, since shannon will pretty much only eat fruit for dessert. not satisfied to serve that plain, i started thinking about carmelizing the pineapple. which is good with chocolate. then i found a recipe for a cognac sabayon. oh yes, you heard me, cognac sabayon. so i'm going to whip that up tonight, and serve it on the carmelized pineapple tomorrow, possibly with a chocolate shaving or two. shannon will get plain pineapple. she's crazy. more sabayon for me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


we've been pretty boring lately, which has been nice. some errands on the weekend, and housework (i think we're actually caught up on our painting), but it's not the constant go-go-go it has been. i even got to nap on sunday, and finish my book.

oliver's been growing like a maniac, and kicking like one too. hard to believe he'll be here in a little over 2 months! we are, in theory, ready.

shannon leaves for school at the end of the month. she's pretty excited about moving into an apartment. mom and dad are less excited about having to move a bunch of crap 5 1/2 hours away. it'll be different without her around! we're having them, and gram and gramps, over for dinner friday to send shannon off. leonora's chicken tostadas will be making an appearance, which is always a pretty exciting event. more details on that later.

had a fantastic thunderstorm here last night. incredibly heavy rain, house shaking thunder, and magnetar strength lightning. woke me up, the thunder and rain were so loud. overall the weather has been kind of crappy lately. either cool and rainy, or hot and rainy. it's not a hurricane though, so i won't complain too much.

honestly, i think that's about it. getting through the work day by thinking about tonight's chicken fried steak.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

veg & 2 veg

bryan and i hit the west allis farmer's market with a vengence this past saturday. august is a great time; lots of beautiful late summer harvests. we picked up a lot of vegetables, as well as some beautiful bread (and a mini pie!) from the amish bakers (probably the only group of people that i don't know and trust blindly to bake for me), and a half dozen pork tamales from a local tamale guy (yes, there is a little mexican woman in the back making tamales; it's his mom). we had an early dinner of fantastic warm tamales that we'll soon be sampling again. who can turn down 6 giant tamales for $5??? give me a piña jarritos and i'm practically in mexico.

last night we made roast veggie sandwiches, and they were so delicious and filling. bryan sliced white eggplant, zuchinni, yellow squash, carrots, and onions on the mandoline and roasted them. i thickly sliced some of the amish bread, and spread the slices with olive oil and sprinkled them with pink salt, then toasted them. i slathered a feta and olive oil spread we had made (take a jar, stuff it with feta, pour in olive oil, herbs, and chile flakes, and refrigerate) on one side of the bread, and layered the veggies on top of that. we added a fresh slice of pink tomato.

bryan dug up some red potatoes from our garden and made potato chips to go on the side. i'm not a big potato chip fan, but the homemade ones always get me.

oh oh oh it was soooo good. everything went so well together. the feta spread had a nice spiciness from the chile, and you know how well feta goes with roast veggies (if you don't i feel sorry for you). the bread was perfection. i was so stuffed i didn't have a single snack all night. which, for me (lately), is pretty unheard of. hey, oliver's a hungry little guy.

Monday, August 13, 2007

side note

related to what i said in my post earlier today...

bryan and i have a bet going. he feels that oliver will be a BIG baby. i feel this must stem from some manly desire to produce only big things. i think ollie will be a normal sized baby. this is, after all, my first pregnancy, and i'm not a big girl, and my actual uterine enlargement has been spot on (tmi my ass).

the over/under is 9 lbs. there is no WAY i'll have a 9+ lb baby!

but with my weigh in today, i do admit i am a liiiiiitle worried.

further proof bigger isn't always better

this weekend was busy busy busy with housework, as usual. bryan got the nursery painted, and it looks SUPER cute. we hit up babies r us and bought just about everything we need. our cart was so full bryan had to push it around because i couldn't see over the top. so you can imagine how stuffed full the suv was. bryan spent saturday night putting together furniture and various other baby gear. got so much cute stuff, and can't wait to use it! bryan also worked on painting his office; the blue and lime green are up, and he's going to work on the brown this week. it's looking pretty good - definitely bryan!

sunday was looking like an easy, lazy day, and then shannon called around 9:30 to fill me in on some new information regarding katie's wedding (the reception will be in mom and dad's backyard; apparently the $9000 bartolotta's reception at the gardens is a bit to rich!) and invited me out shopping with her. we hit target, jo ann fabrics, and the mall. i was under strict orders (given to myself) not to spend money and think i actually did pretty good. i did get a few things, but it was stuff on my list (like a deep dish lasagna pan for 50% off) to get so i wasn't that far off the mark. i had to take shannon home at that point, since there was no way i was going to make it to the 2nd mall with her - my feet can't handle marathon shopping at this point. :( i went home and took a lovely nap before dinner (bryan made delicious shrimp eggrolls), then soaked my feet in some epsom salted water while we watched die hard 4.

had my 28 week appointment this morning, and found out i have gained ELEVEN POUNDS since my last appointment (at 24 weeks). 11 freaking pounds! so lately when i've been feeling like my belly has gotten a lot bigger and i've felt a lot heavier, it wasn't all just in my head! overall, i'm at my target weight gain for this point in time, so the doctor assured me that it is fine. i just need to not gain that much again haha! i guess my body was making up for smaller weight gains earlier on. but holy cow, i'm gonna be huge. i need to stop looking at the scale when i go in too, because the number on there is just freaking scary. i also need to start taking the elevator to the 2nd floor at work.

Friday, August 10, 2007

state fair

we went to the state fair last night with the parents and shannon. luckily, the rain had stopped and it wasn't too hot. as soon as we got through the gates, i got a fresh squeezed lemonade, and bryan got a cherry lemonade (they were out of limes for limeade) and the biggest corn dog i have ever seen. on our way to the main drag, we hit herb kohl's milkhouse, which features flavored milks. i was having a hard time deciding between cherry vanilla and chocolate, so we had them blend the two flavors for a cherry chocolate milk. it was good!! we all had one, and bryan also had the root beer flavor, which mom said tasted like a root beer float where all the ice cream melted.

we checked out some cowboy hats. shannon and i made fun of the odd ones (just how many outfits does a bright purple suede cowboy hat go with?) while bryan eyed a $100 stetson. i told him to keep dreaming and stay happy with the $7 one that was on his head.

our main mission was finding the lion's roast corn, so we moved on in search of that. on the way, we passed the wisconsin products building, where we stopped to pick up a wisconsin baked potato. shannon and bryan had some duck fajitas, which they found really tasty. i managed to not spoil my appetite with a caramel apple, but it was tough.

we finally found the corn roast, and had a tasty, sweet ear of corn. that's probably my favorite part of the fair. there is nothing like fresh roasted corn in august, and i have lots of good childhood memories of eating corn at the fair.

we wandered over towards the dairy building. bryan stopped at a booth to look at some dead animal heads and pelts, which was pretty gross. what exactly do you do with that stuff anyways?? we managed to find the dairy building (stopped at the most well organized bathroom on the way; that bathroom traffic director lady really earned her tips!). we were hoping to find greek bread, our yearly favorite, but it was not in the dairy building. dad picked up some fudge and i got some caramel nut rolls, and we moved on.

the next stop was the expo center. this is a giant building with rows and rows of all sorts of crap you never even knew existed but which the salesmen will insist you can't live without. bryan had a lot of fun running around checking everything out. i managed to talk him out of buying anything. by the end we were pretty tired. we stopped in the culinary and craft building, which it turned out just winners from all the contests. looking over the winning baked goods, it was pretty clear i might just be able to win by a landslide. maybe next year!

we headed back towards the car. dad grabbed some salt water taffy, another must at the fair. by the time we got home i was pretty beat and my feet hurt! i fell into bed and asleep pretty fast.

we didn't go look at any stinky animals, but i do smell the pigs on 84th street on my way home every day, so i'm pretty sure that counts.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


i'm having a hard time with this tired-ness as i continually get less sleep. i'm up every few hours, too hot or too cold, needing to go to the bathroom, needing to re-adjust my pillows... i've got another nearly 3 months of this worsening. and then, the baby, which i am sure will hardly help matters. :) at least then i will be off of work for a little while and can nap when he naps. it's just hard to function at work when i've had such broken sleep not only the night before, but all nights for the past few months. work has been mostly slow, and now i finally have something to chase down but all i want to do is crawl under my desk and sleep. i better start napping on the weekends. they say you can't catch up on lost sleep but i might as well try, right?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

this little piggy

have i made it clear how much i love pig?

last night, we had pork steaks for dinner. not a normal buy for us, but they were on sale and they looked good. i seared them off in a pan, then made a maple mustard seed brown sugar sauce (i used cider vinegar instead of wine to deglaze the pan). i served that with roasted red potatoes, and some spinach i wilted in a pan with bacon fat and crushed garlic (which i then topped with the crumbled bacon since waste not, want not is a rule in our kitchen... and i love bacon). it was so simple and so quick and really very tasty.

we're planning on going to the state fair thursday with the fam, assuming the weather holds up. i can't WAIT to eat some roasted corn from the lion's club, and some greek bread (there is a greek vendor in one of the halls that has the BEST bread ever; it's a giant round loaf with sesame seeds on top; we have no idea what kind of bread it really is). bryan will love the flavored milk stand and cream puffs; i myself am more of a brownie and salt water taffy girl. we'll get to look at some stinky farm animals too, but mostly, i want that ear of corn!

Friday, August 3, 2007

steak sandwich

last night for dinner i made up some steak sandwiches. the grocery store had had some awesome looking chuck steaks on sale, as well as cremini mushrooms. i knew i could do something with that. :)

i marinated the mushrooms in some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, cayenne, and granulated garlic for about 2 hours.

i pounded out the steak some, to somewhere between 1/4 - 1/2 inch. seasoned that with salt and pepper, and seared one side in the cast iron. as soon as i flipped it, i topped it with some sliced provolone and stuck it under the broiler. i tossed the mushrooms in the pan at this point as well. i pulled it out as soon as the cheese started to get golden bubbles. cooked to a perfect medium.

i had some bakery rolls, so i heated those up. i made a balsamic mayo using some of the marinade. spread that on the rolls, then topped with fresh spinach, a slice of the steak, and then the mushrooms, sliced. the warm steak wilted the spinach just enough so it was somewhere between raw and actually wilted.

it was pretty freaking tasty. i think next time i'll add some horseradish to the mayo.

Thursday, August 2, 2007