Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lily's Sea Otter Impression

Originally uploaded by hsunuks
Lily has been going to swim lessons since she was 3 months old and has really loved the water. Lily can swim under water from the swim teacher to me about 2-3 feet, just kicking away. I have been wanting to get pictures of our pool time, and lucky for us, Jason's parents were able to catch this video of us in the pool.

Unfortunately the part where she was swimming under water got cut off, but you can get an idea of what we do. Here she is learning to be comfortable on her back and is showing good form with her chest up high! I actually only have one hand under her head, but the other hand is under her body just in case she sinks down. Enjoy our little fish!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Teeth siting!

Yes it's true!  Lily's 2 bottom teeth have risen to the surface and are sharp as can be.  We tried a teething biscuit from Whole Foods today, and she gummed/toothed it up.  It was a nice, gummy mass by the time she dropped it on the floor!  No pictures at this time, since they are hard to see.  We will keep you posted!

Lily is also now an international traveler.  At 8 months of age, Lily crossed the border, and came out with a fiesta dress.  Just wait 'til the 1 year old birthday pictures to see her in all her cuteness!  She continues to make friends wherever we go, such as at the Ensenada fish taco stand when she got a fist-full of the long locks of the girl next to us while I was side-tracked scarfing down the most amazing taco.  Oops! 

Monday, February 15, 2010

Beautiful Day for a Picnic

While friends and family around the country are carving walkways through several feet of snow and wearing their warmest wool jackets, we are enjoying our Santa Barbara weather in the 70's.  That is why we pay the prices we pay to live here.  But, hey, we save on clothing costs!  Actually, we do own a snow shovel, so one day when the snow reaches the foothills of Santa Barbara, we will be ready.  For now, I guess Jason can use it to shovel rocks and debris.  Why we didn't leave it in Kansas City, I do not know!

In celebration of this gorgeous day, we decided to head to the Santa Barbara Mission to picnic on its expansive lawn.  While Jason and I nibbled on some cheese, crackers and fruit, Lily travelled around on her belly: rotating, scooching, rolling uphill, and pushing.  We thought you might enjoy some pictures of our little wiggle worm.

All smiles with her Daddy...

Just plain cute!

Doing her airplane pose :)

While it looks like our little photogenic one was holding this pose all afternoon, it only took about 7 shots of her twisting and turning out of the frame of the picture to get this one!  That's the Mission behind us:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Dinner with friends

I had the privilege of creating a menu and cooking for a Valentine's Dinner with some good friends here in Santa Barbara.  I immediately went reaching for Lydia Bastianich's cookbook and decided to make her lasagna with spinach pasta noodles, bolognese, and bechamel sauce.  Even for you non-bechamel people out there (ahem, Kelley!), I do believe that Lydia might win you over.  With delicate layers of fresh pasta, long-cooked bolognese sauce and creamy bechamel, the combination of flavors just melted in the mouth.  And, all the flavors were in perfect balance/harmony with one another.  

Let's break it down just a touch.  First off, the pasta...who knew it would be so easy in a food processor?  Just simply blend the spinach and flour to make a gorgeous green flour, and then add the eggs, oil and water.

The finished dough looks like this:

After rolling the dough through the pasta maker, the strips are quickly boiled, cooled off in an ice bath and are then ready to assemble.  Here the lasagna is ready for another layer of bechamel, bolognese and cheese: 

While we did not get a picture of the bubbling goodness coming out of the oven, here is one of a small lasagna ready to head off to the oven!

We served the lasagna with some garlic cheese rolls - the recipe came from my mom's baking and pastry school...yum yum!  And, to start, I served a caesar salad with polenta croutons, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, and shaved parmesan.  The dressing was garlicky and didn't require the use of raw egg - bonus!  Check out the recipe here, from Giada De Laurentiis.

Last, but not least, if there is still room in the belly, we served up the classic Valentine's aphrodisiac of a chocolate dessert.  Continuing in the Italian theme, I made a chocolate panna cotta cake, a recipe I had been saving from a Bon Appetit magazine.  This simple, but elegant cake had layers of chocolate cake and chocolate panna cotta, an almost pudding-like Italian dessert.  In effort to tie it all together, the cake is wrapped with a chocolate band that is fluted at the top.  If you are interested in trying this one, check out this website for the recipe.

Mmm...baby food!

I never knew how much fun it could be to make baby food until little Lily came along.  Pureeing simple beautiful vegetables strips down food to its most basic form.  The colors are amazing and the flavors are pure.  For example, this week our sweet girl is eating broccoli.  Who would have known that broccoli could be so gorgeous?  The light green stalks are pureed with the dark green florets making a polka dotted design.  See for yourself:

Here it is ready to go into the freezer:

Did I get some on my face, mommy?

Mmm...finger lickin' good!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Back home...let's get cookin'!

This week I have a plan mapped out to prepare dinner for several of our friends in Santa Barbara to celebrate Valentine's Day together.  Fortunately for us, today was 4-hour cooking bolognese sauce day, so we were able to enjoy a little sample for dinner tonight over pasta.  Oh, and since we watched the movie Food, Inc., we have been inspired to take a closer look at what we are eating.  So, we are proud to say that all the meat for the sauce was free-range and humanely raised!  If you are interested in knowing more about humanely raised animals and what grocery stores and restaurants carry certified humane products, check out this website.

What is dinner without a little sweet ending?  One thing you all should know about Jason
 is that he is a apple crisp/apple dessert fanatic.  So, in honor of my wonderful husband, I made a Cardamom Apple Crisp with Toasted Hazelnut Streusel.  This is not your average apple crisp.  Instead of cinnamon, there's cardamom and cloves.  Rather than lemon juice, there's vanilla extract and orange zest.  And, in lieu of oats, you'll find crunchy toasted hazelnuts.  Here's a picture, for your enjoyment of the crisp alongside some creamy Trader Joe's vanilla ice cream:

Streusel Topping

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup packed dark brown sugar

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

½ cup butter, very cold, cut into ½-inch pieces

½ cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned, and roughly chopped or ½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon water, cold

Fruit Filling

1¾ pounds Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled, sliced (about 1 pound or 4 cups prepared)

1 cup brown sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon finely minced orange zest

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt


best quality vanilla ice cream 

  1. To prepare Streusel Topping, in a mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, sugar, and salt.
  2. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until mixture is evenly crumbly.
  3. Add the hazelnuts or walnuts and combine well.
  4. Combine the vinegar and water and sprinkle over the topping. Mix lightly with a fork, using a lifting motion rather than a stirring motion. The idea is to gently distribute the moisture throughout the topping.
  5. To prepare Fruit Filling,
    in a mixing bowl, gently combine the apples, brown sugar, vanilla, orange zest, cornstarch, and salt.
  6. To assemble and bake, butter six, individual, 1½ cup gratin or soufflĂ© dishes.
  7. Divide the fruit filling between the six dishes.
  8. Top each dish with an equal portion of the streusel topping, and then top with an equal portion of the almonds.
  9. Arrange the gratin dishes on an edged baking sheet and lay a piece of foil loosely on top.
  10. Bake at 350Âș for ½ hour, remove the foil, and bake an additional 20-30 minutes, until the fruit filling is bubbling and the topping is nicely browned. If necessary, broil for a minute or so or use a kitchen torch to brown the tops.
  11. Remove from the oven, let cool somewhat, and then serve while still warm, preferably with homemade vanilla ice cream.

Serves 6.

Happy 40th Birthday Nicole!

We headed up North this past weekend to see some friends and make a surprise visit to my sister, Nicole.  Lily is a traveling trooper, and seems to do well at making friends wherever we go!  Our friends Jim and Liz recently moved into a new home in the Bay Area and welcomed a new little girl all in the month of January.  I guess you could say they've been busy!  Their youngest son, Ben, was pretty sweet with Lily.  

He showed her how to play the piano...

Gave her hugs...

We then made the short trek over to Granite Bay for a Saturday evening surprise party for Nicole.  She and Craig walked into their friends' home, where Nicole expected to have cocktails before a dinner theater double date, and instead found a house full of friends and family.  My dad, Lynn, Jennifer, Jason, Lily, and I all traveled to be a part of the surprise.  How fun!  

Here is my dad with his three daughters:

Besides 50 rolls of absolutely delicious sushi from Nicole's favorite sushi restaurant, Craig ordered this gorgeous cake in honor of his wife:

Lily had a blast with her cousins, Lauren (holding Lily) and Gracie, too!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lily's first brave attempt to crawl...

O.k., so no pictures, but let me paint the picture here...We are sitting in Chipotle when Jason notices a nice orange stain on his shirt after holding Lily (she's been eating pureed carrots this week, which go through her system quickly!).  We promptly lifted up her fleece jacket to find a large orange stain on the back of her shirt.  This was definitely not a diaper change for the middle of a restaurant with customers eating dinner all around us.  So, we finished dinner the best we could with Lily grabbing everything in sight and moving around without ceasing, while trying to keep ourselves from incurring further damage on our clothing.  

Fortunately, we made it back to our Volvo station wagon with multiple towels in the back, so we could get to work at cleaning up our little girl.  I'll spare you the details of the cleaning up, other than to say that graduating into solid foods also translates into a similar consistency poop.  While Jason was peeling off Lily's soiled clothing and I was getting out the diapers and wipes, Lily was rolling all over the place.  At one point (with her diaper still full), for the very first time, she got completely up on all fours, started rocking, and then instead of bringing one knee forward, she launched herself like a rocket off the inside wall of the car.  Note: Everyone is safe and unharmed.  Despite her multiple attempts of a jail break, she is now safely sleeping in her crib listening to classical music!

I hope you were able to get a picture of what an absolutely hysterical moment we just had tonight!  Jason and I just shake our heads sometimes and often get some of our best laughs with our lovable Lily!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Lily's exercise regimen, blowing raspberries, and more!

Lily is becoming more and more active, and is definitely at the stage where she is wanting to do more than she can actually do!  While she is not yet crawling, she is working all her muscles in preparation for this next milestone!  I thought you might enjoy seeing her workout regimen:

On your mark, get set...

...push up and look cute!

Oh, and don't forget yoga for core strength.  Doing the plank:

Despite how it appears, it's not all serious hard work going on here.  We leave room for discovering silly noises and exercising our lips, such as this funny new one that Lily can do for 5 minutes straight (don't worry the video is not that long!):

Lily also likes to spend time with friends.  Here is a picture from the park today, when we took our friends' little boy, Dodge.  

While Lily is busy socializing and moving around, I am happy cooking away in the kitchen.  Jason and I love a good burger, and we just so happened to crave it on the same night this week.  The following is a picture of a roasted garlic burger with sharp cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and mushrooms on a toasted wheat bun with a side of baked sweet potato fries.

I hope you enjoyed the plethora of pictures and comments.  It just seems like all the fun happens at once, and I just couldn't leave anything out!  Coming soon are some pictures of Lily at swim lessons!