Sometimes You Just Need a Laugh

Y’all, as someone who loves food, I am a fan of Chef’s Table on Netflix – the documentary series that profiles world renowned chefs. Being familiar with the show, I couldn’t help but chuckle at this parody that was sent to me recently. Take a watch!

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Recipe for Vacationing with a Baby – Bring a lot of Stuff & Let Go

Vacation time!

Vacation time!

We’re in Saint Martin with my husband’s entire family – and our baby. So I have limited time on my hands – and limited brain capacity. I posted a photo of me and Isla enjoying a beautiful view on vacation (the one good photo we took after about 12 outtakes) and Stephanie, a friend of mine from college who I have not talked to in years, mentioned she would like to see a post about traveling with a baby. Stephanie, 1. I was so excited to see you read my blog! That means a lot. 2. Thanks for giving me an idea on what to do for today’s post. Because vacation brain is in high gear, y’all.

I’ll be honest. The key to traveling with a baby is to manage your expectations. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen and accepting that certain things are beyond your control makes it less frustrating when things don’t go according to plan. Like nap time. Look, your baby is going to be out of whack while away. So don’t panic. I’m a firm believer in the fact that Isla can pick up on my stress level. So if I stress that she isn’t getting her regularly scheduled nap program in, I’ve got a tired and cranky baby on my hands who is picking up on my stressful energy. Not good!

Below is the recipe we used for packing up Isla for a week-long vacation at the beach. The house we are staying at has a washer/dryer (CLUTCH!), so keep that in mind as you read the list. We wanted her to have some stuff around that was familiar, since there was so much newness that was going to happen.

Prep time: 4 days
Cook time: 5 hours
Serves: One happy family – kind of

Ingredients:
7 outfits – cute ones for going out and such. Because babies like to look cute on vacation.
5 pajamas – we just did onesies.
4 swimsuits – the girl needs options!
2 rash guards
3 swim diapers – the reusable ones.
24 disposable swim diapers 
84 diapers – Isla goes through about 8 diapers a day and we are gone for 7 days. So, we packed a lot of extra diapers. But y’all, on the plane ride Isla went through 4 diaper changes – always bring extra diapers.
Diaper wipes
Diaper cream
Baby sunscreen – we use Babyganics
Travel sized baby shampoo , body wash and lotion – we use Johnson & Johnson – judge if you must.
Aveeno Calming lotion – for nighttime
4 bottles & formula – or your boobs! We calculated how much she drinks and then made sure we had extra.
21 packs of food pouches – I usually homemake her food, but there was no way I was packing homemade food to take with us – and there was no way in hell I was going to spend time homemaking her food on vacation. 21 packs is a lot for how much she’s actually eating, but again. Extras. Always have extras of EVERYTHING.
Car Seat
Stroller
– We just brought our stroller caddy frame. It’s basically a snap ‘n go that is specific to our stroller. It’s easier to collapse and smaller than our ginormous stroller frame and we aren’t strolling her around much, so this works for us.
Toys
– we brought a few of her favorites that are easy to pack (and by easy, I mean we packed an additional suitcase for all of her items) so she has some familiar stuff while we are away. In all honesty, she’s been pretty happy playing with things such as water bottles, toothbrush covers, my hair and Neil’s chest hair.

Medicine – Just in case we packed our entire medicine cabinet (and here is a helpful dosage chart, but ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR PEDIATRICIAN FIRST!):

  • Infant Tylenol
  • Infant Advil
  • Children’s Benadryl

Directions:

Think about how long you are going to be away.

Panic about how much shit you know you’re going to have to take with you. Think about the fact that you never realized how easy it was to pack before you had a baby, nor did you relish in the simplicity of prepping for a vacation before you had a baby.

Lay all of your baby’s stuff in the middle of the living room. Look at it. Think about how ridiculous it is that you need to take all of this stuff with you. Find a suitcase that will fit all of this stuff. Pack up your own bags. Put everything by the front door so you don’t forget a bag on your way out.

Look at all of your suitcases and laugh. Pull out your phone and take the obligatory look-how-much-stuff-we-need-to-travel-with-now-that-we-have-a-baby photo.

If you’re flying with your baby, basically just subscribe to the fact that it’s a game of chance. Hope for friendly neighbors that will understand you’re at the mercy of your baby. If your baby does freak out on the plane, it’s nice to do whatever you can to try to make her stop crying – even if you know nothing is going to stop her. Basically you want people to look at you and see that you’re doing what you can so you don’t receive the “why aren’t these people doing anything to help their baby” eyes. We did a lot of standing up and walking around with Isla. She did take a 20-minute nap on my lap, which was adorable. She then sat in between me and Neil for about 25 minutes while we sipped our bloody mary’s – this baby clearly understands her parents priorities.

She did lose it a few times, and I gave my seat-mates the “I’m so sorry, please don’t hate me eyes.” You might want to practice those in the mirror for a few days before you leave.

As for schedules while you’re away – Isla usually takes two 2-hour naps. One at 9:30am and one at 2pm. The day we flew she slept for a total of 45 minutes before bedtime. We did what we could to get her to sleep, but she wasn’t having any of it. Yea, she eventually lost it and cried like she was a ravenous newborn who had no clue that someone was actually going to feed her, but you know what, we put her to bed that night and she slept just fine. Like I said, just have the mentality that things might not go according the plan and it makes things a whole lot easier. We are doing what we can to keep her on a schedule, but we aren’t being as strict. Because hey, we’re on vacation y’all.

Hanging out in her designated play area.

Isla hanging out in her designated play area.

Having fun with daddy!

Having fun with daddy!

Sleepy baby on vacation.

Sleepy baby on vacation.

Adult & Baby Frittata – Plus Some Bonus Baby Prep

I realized this weekend that no matter how prepared I think I am to get myself and my baby out of the house, now that I have a baby everything takes me one hour and 30 minutes. Yes, ladies and gents. I’ve become that person. But, let’s face it. I’ve become THAT person on so many fronts. I can’t help it. I HAVE A BABY, NOW. But a little piece of me HATES this part of me. Because I swore I wouldn’t be this person.

An aside: I reference becoming the person you swore you would never be in this post – because before you become a parent you actually have no fucking clue who you are going to end up being as a parent. You heard it here first. Also, the post gives you a glimpse into why everything takes you 90 minutes – even when it shouldn’t. Though I bet, if I read a post like this before I was a parent I would most likely swear that I would figure out how to not be the person the writer of the post became.

Sometimes when I get sad that I have partially become the person I swore I would never be, I take a good look at this mug my husband got me for Mother's Day and remind myself that despite the fact that I might be what I said I would never be, I'm the world's OKAYEST mom. And that's pretty damn good.

Sometimes when I get sad that I have partially become the person I swore I would never be, I take a good look at this mug my husband got me for Mother’s Day and remind myself that despite the fact that I might be what I said I would never be, I’m the world’s OKAYEST mom. And that’s pretty damn good.

On Saturday Neil and I were supposed to be at our friend’s apartment at 8:15am. Jeff and Jaime are doing the NYC Triathlon with Neil in a month and they have a daughter who is about 15-months. I’m on baby-duty while the athletes train. We woke up at 7am. We were prepped for the morning. But something happened – I guess I blacked out – and we weren’t ready to walk out the door until 8:30. And lord help me, I needed to stop and get an ice coffee on the way.

This is me with Isla and Em after arriving 30-minutes late to Jeff and Jaime's. But I made it! And they got to do their athlete training stuff. So, it's a win win!

This is me with Isla and Em after arriving 30-minutes late to Jeff and Jaime’s. But I made it! And they got to do their athlete training stuff. So, it’s a win win!

I’m telling y’all this bit of information because: 1) If you’re a parent, you’ll understand what I’m saying and 2) If you’re not a parent and plan on being one, but swear you won’t be like me, maybe one day you’ll remember this post when you do have kids and say – well at least I’m not the only one – and she warned me. And then you’ll thank me.

Now that we have that all cleared up. Sunday was Neil’s first Father’s Day and it was pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. It involved family time AND A TWO HOUR NAP FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY. So, any way you slice it – it was good. I LOVE FAMILY NAP TIME. Mainly because I miss naps like you wouldn’t believe. Y’all, if you don’t have kids, or if you’re kids are grown up enough to take care of themselves for a few hours, PLEASE TAKE LOTS OF NAPS.

Sunday also involved cooking for the adults and the babe. I didn’t have enough time to make the baby food and freeze it, so instead I prepped the baby food so tonight I can easily purée/mash and it’s ready to go.

For brunch I made a potato, kale and red pepper frittata that is baby friendly, and prepped additional red bell peppers for baby food. I also sliced up some corn to be made into baby food while the frittata cooked.

Here’s the recipe and break down of how I managed my time:

Potato, Kale and Red Pepper Frittata

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4 adults (or 2 if you’re me and Neil) and makes 1 cup baby food; Plus additional red pepper and prepped veggies for your baby food

Ingredients:
2 red peppers – one diced for the frittata and one sliced for baby food
30 frozen tater tots
1 1/2 cups frozen kale
2 garlic cloves finely diced
1 shallot finely diced
1/2 a Vidalia onion (or any onion) roughly chopped
4 eggs
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, or any cheese you like
Veggies that you would like to prep for baby food, since there is some down time while the frittata cooks (might as well make use of the time since you’ll already be in the kitchen)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400.

Bring a large, oven safe pan with a flat bottom to medium/high heat. Put a small amount of water in the bottom of the pan (about 3 tablespoons) – it should simmer when it hits the pan. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until translucent. Add the onions and a little more water if the pan is starting to look dry. Bring the heat down to medium. Cook until shallots and garlic are golden and onion is translucent. Add the diced red pepper. Bring the heat down to low, add a little more water and cover the pan for about 4 minutes.

Downtime! Take 4 minutes to start prepping veggies you want to make for your baby. I had some leftover fresh corn on the cob, so I sliced the corn off the cob and then packed up the baby veggies in tupperware and put in the fridge to be dealt with later. I also bagged up the additional sliced red pepper.


Back to the frittata – after the 4 minutes, all the veggies in the pan should be soft. Bring the heat back up to medium, add a little more water (two tablespoons or so) and add the tater tots. Let those cook for about a minute, cover and bring the heat back down to low. Cook for about 5 minutes.

Downtime! In this downtime you can prep some more veggies for your baby. I was done with what I wanted to prep, so I sipped on a Rosé-Mimosa. What’s that you ask? That’s a bit of Prosecco topped with Rosé. It was good.

Back to the meal – once the potatoes are soft, mash and break them up so they mix in nicely with the other veggies in the pan. Then add the frozen kale. You might need to add a bit of water, a tablespoon or so. Cover the pan again for about 3 minutes, allowing the kale to cook down. Uncover, mix together and remove a cup of the mixture to be stored in fridge and mashed later for baby food.

Adult and baby food, side by side.

Adult and baby food, side by side. Baby food ready for fridge for mashing and freezing. Adult food ready to be crisped, cheesed and egged.

Now you can get to seasoning the adult portion of this meal. I used some smoked salt that I had along with some pepper. Season as you like. Then mash the adult portion down to make a flat pancake along the bottom of the pan (see above photo for reference) and turn the heat up to medium/high. Let that cook for 2 minutes, flip and cook for another 2 minutes. This creates a nice crust.

Sprinkle the top of the hash with shredded cheese and put the pan in the oven for about a minute, allowing the cheese to melt. Remove the pan from the oven and crack 4 eggs over the top of the hash. Put back in the oven and cook for 3-4 minutes for a runny yolk. If you want the yolk cooked more, cook it longer.

Remove from pan and serve.

Peas and Thank You

Y’all, I have to be honest. This week’s recipe post is kind of a cop-out. But that’s because I’m out of town. However, I promised myself I would post every Monday and Friday. So, I give you this week’s recipe that’s good for you and your babes – pureed peas for baby and peas with truffle butter for you. And it all takes about 10 minutes. You’re welcome.

Here I am in Israel with my mom. That's why I'm copping out on this post. But I'm with my mom - so that makes it OK, right?

Here I am, out of town…with my mom. That’s why I’m taking the easy road on this post. But I’m with my mom – so that makes it OK, right?

**This post is a cop-out because once upon a time I wrote a post about how I love school cafeteria food. And in the post I included a recipe for peas with truffle butter. Yea, truffle butter. Because. Truffles.

Here we go…

Prep time: Not long 🙂
Cook time: About 10 minutes
Serves: 2-4 adults, depending on your main dish & about 1/2 to 1 cup of baby pureed peas, depending on desired texture

Ingredients:
One 16oz (1lb) bag frozen peas
1/2 tablespoon truffle butter, or regular butter if you don’t have truffle butter
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cool water

Directions:
Pour frozen peas into a medium pot over medium/low heat. Put water over peas to help them defrost and cover the pot for about three minutes. DON’T OVERCOOK THE PEAS. You want them to have a crunch and be slightly warm, but not frozen in the middle. Guys, there is only one thing that is worse than overcooked peas. Keep reading to find out. Once the peas are in a good place, transfer the peas to a strainer. Nothing is worse than watery peas. So now you know what is worse than overcooked peas.

Here is a photo of peas being strained, because I felt like I needed another photo.

Here is a photo of peas being strained, because I felt like I needed another photo. I’m sure more professional bloggers, and my husband, would advise against adding poorly taken photos of peas in a strainer just because I feel like I need another photo. Oh well.

For your baby’s food – take half of the peas and throw them into a food processor. Blend until desired texture, adding water if needed. When your baby is ready for more texture, you can mash peas with a potato masher or fork for a chunkier consistency. Place mashed/pureed peas in ice cube trays and freeze for individual services.

GUESS WHAT – YOUR BABY PEAS ARE DONE! Now, onto the adult portion of your meal.

Poorly lit peas, ready for freezing.

Poorly lit baby-food peas, ready for freezing.

Put the rest of the peas back in the pot once drained, and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Bring pot to low heat.

Mix in 1/2 tablespoon truffle butter, or regular butter. If you don’t have truffle butter, you can use regular butter and add truffle salt. Or truffle oil. Or truffle anything. And if you don’t have truffle anything, you can also finely dice up 1/4 cup mushrooms and throw them in. They don’t pack the same punch as truffle, but it will still taste delicious. And if you don’t have mushrooms, you can just butter the peas. Because butter makes everything better (and you’re still going to add cheese….cheese and butter = never a bad thing).

Once butter is mixed in, add the parmesan cheese so it gets melty.

Butter and cheese...yes, peas! (yea, I did that)

Butter and cheese…yes, peas! (yea, I did that)

Serve with just about anything. This is also really delicious over pasta!

Finished peas and a pork chop.

Finished peas and a pork chop. Ta. Da.

Two-for-One Risotto

Before I jump into this post, I want to address the photography and overall format of this blog. Let’s just say that I understand it’s “meh”. I’m not the best with technology, I don’t have the capacity to take staged photos and doctor them (unless it’s on my iPhone with a filter), and I just don’t have the time right now to make Simply in the Flavor “pretty”. But hey, she’s got a really great personality. She’s super friendly and honest, and she tries hard. So, give her a chance and see where she goes! Maybe she’ll become more attractive as you get to know her! And maybe one day she’ll get a makeover and be real pretty. But for now…this is what it is.

Now, onto business…My friends often ask me how I’m able to “whip up” such “elaborate” meals on weeknights and manage to make my daughter’s food from scratch.

Two things:

1. I love to cook – getting into the kitchen is relaxing for me. Chopping and cutting over a glass of wine or a bourbon on the rocks is something I actually enjoy. “Me” time these days is so limited. Today I found myself looking forward to a long subway ride so I could catch up on a stack of magazines without my baby or my husband talking to me. Because you know, sometimes I don’t want to talk to them. Or anyone for that matter.

2. It’s mostly an illusion because NOTHING that I make is difficult – and I whenever I’m cooking for me and Neil (the husband) I try to incorporate food that our daughter will eat. It’s like a two-for-one deal. Along with buying in bulk and coupons, two-for-one deals are my favorite. Basically I create a base meal that is baby friendly and then doctor up the adult portion. See below.

This week’s recipe post is an adaptation from two different recipes. I wanted to make risotto, but good lord – it’s a PAIN IN THE ASS. So I googled “easy risotto recipes” and wouldn’t you know, the Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten had a recipe for Easy Parmesan “Risotto”. I also wanted to stock up my freezer meals for Isla. Every few weeks I make a bunch of food for her (in kitchen products that I already owned – NOT in fancy baby food makers…post on that to come next Monday) and throw it in our freezer. I also like to make a lot of food in general and have leftovers. Because leftovers are easy. And time is of the essence these days. The Baby & Toddler Cookbook has a risotto recipe that looked pretty tasty. I set out to combine the two recipes. I had some frozen butternut squash and spinach on hand (prepackaged frozen vegetables are a godsend…do you know how time consuming it is to peel and cut a butternut squash? VERY)… and off I went.

Two-in-One Vegetable Risotto

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Serves: 4-5 adults servings & 2 cups of baby risotto

Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 cups Arborio Rice
4 cups low-sodium Vegetable broth
1 cup water simmering water, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided
16 oz package frozen butternut squash
16 oz package frozen spinach
1 shallot finely diced
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Bring 4 cups of vegetable broth to a simmer in a Dutch Oven. Add the rice, cover and bake in oven for 45 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente. Look, I’ll be honest. I just left it alone for 45 minutes and the rice got overcooked. And it was still delicious.

Here's my

Here’s my “risotto” baking. And as you can see, I desperately need to clean my oven. But that’s not going to happen.

Meanwhile, place frozen butternut squash and spinach in a colander in sink. Run hot water over vegetables until slightly tender – the middle of squash and some chunks of spinach can still be frozen. Bring a medium skillet to medium-high heat. Drizzle 2 teaspoons olive oil in pan and allow to heat for a moment. Stir in squash and spinach. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover pan for 2-3 minutes. Once vegetables are completely cooked, remove from pan and scoop onto separate plate. Set aside one cup for baby’s risotto – we will get back to this. In the same pan, add remaining olive oil and diced shallots. Cook until translucent and add the remaining butternut squash and risotto. Season with salt and pepper. Guys, I added truffle salt. Because I add truffle salt to everything. Because why not?

Remove rice from oven and slowly add simmering water (OK, OK. I didn’t use simmering water. I just used lukewarm tap water). Rice might be caked to the bottom of the Dutch oven, but slowly stir in water and it will break it right up. My risotto wasn’t that thirsty, so I only added 3/4 cup water. Just keep stirring in water until you like the consistency of what you have. Don’t worry too much! Relax! Remove 1 cup of rice and set aside. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to remaining rice in Dutch oven and stir. Add 1 teaspoon of butter to the 1 cup of rice for baby and stir.

Sister rices. Get it?

Sister rices. Get it?

Add the 1 cup of vegetables that you set aside to the 1 cup of baby’s buttered risotto and stir. Set in refrigerator and forget about it for a while.

Get back to your adult meal. Stir in 3/4 cup parmesan cheese to rice. Mmmmmmm. Add the vegetables from your pan to the pot of rice and stir. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. Done and done! I served this with simple salmon and baked cod.

Over exposed and poorly lit dinner.

Over exposed and poorly lit dinner.

When you’re read, remove baby risotto from fridge and if necessary, puree to texture that is appropriate for your baby and freeze in ice cube trays for easy individual servings. Yes, regular ice cube trays. You don’t need fancy “baby” freezer trays.

Baby risotto - puree if necessary.

Baby risotto – puree if necessary.

Ready for freezing. Another one of my favorite things. Freezing anything and everything.

Ready for freezing. Another one of my favorite things. Freezing anything and everything.

Get The Fat Outta Here

Creamy, delicious, amazingly satisfying...CAULIFLOWER!

Creamy, delicious, amazingly satisfying…CAULIFLOWER!

A few weeks ago while I was at the gym I got the most intense craving for something creamy. Mac and cheese? Mashed Potatoes? Vichyssoise? I almost got up and left the gym in the middle of my ab workout. I could barely control myself. However, Neil and I are on somewhat of a healthy pattern (I use the term lightly). So instead of jetting out of the gym and bulldozing anyone who stood in my way, I finished my ab set while trying to think of a way to create something really creamy, delicious, flavorful AND healthy.
Cauliflower. That was my ticket to cheat a world of creamy-overindulgence. I have read a million different recipes that use cauliflower as a substitute to make them healthy. Pizza. Steaks. Mashed Potatoes. I could totally do this!

I exited the gym, carted myself to the grocery store. Leeks were on sale (because to be honest they looked like they had about 15-minutes of life left in them) so I grabbed those along with some cauliflower. I also picked up some nonfat Greek Yogurt (I prefer Fage over other brands because of it’s thick consistency).

I headed home and created this recipe that tasted unbelievable. I actually impressed myself with how simple the recipe was and how devilish it tasted. Next time you’re craving something super unhealthy but don’t feel like blowing a bazillion calories, search the wonderful world wide web for what you’re craving and just add the word “healthy”. You’ll be amazed at what you can find!

Overindulgence Inspired Health

All this took 15-minutes. BOOM.

All this took 15-minutes. BOOM.

After a weekend of binge eating in Bloomington, Indiana, Neil and I were craving a simple and healthy dinner. We had been at Indiana University, my alma mater, with Neil’s brother and our sister-in-law to watch the Little 500 bike race. Neil’s brother Brian also went to IU so we were both very excited to get back to our college town and show our significant others all of our college memories. Most of my memories included food.

I hadn’t been back to Bloomington since I graduated in 2006, so it was a special treat. We ate a giant dinner Friday night at Scholar’s Inn. I demanded that we hit up Scotty’s for waffle fries and ranch dressing for lunch on Saturday before the race. Scotty’s came out with a gluten free menu and a few days before we left for the trip I noticed both the ranch and the fries weren’t on the menu. I figured this would happen, but to be safe I gave them a call while I was still in New York so I could prep myself for depression. Of course, the lovely Scotty’s hostess confirmed that both items were not gluten free. I cried for a minute, but then took solace in the fact that at least I had the memories of how amazing those delicious spiced waffle fries were, especially paired with the most amazing ranch dressing on the planet.

I also had to hit up Jimmy John’s. They serve an unwich, which is just a lettuce wrap, so it’s not all that exciting – but on principle I had do go. And here’s why…Neil (unintentionally) took away my last shot at ever eating a proper Jimmy John’s sandwich. It was October of 2009. Neil and I were in Athens, GA – his college town – to watch the UGA play LSU. The dreaded celiac had not been diagnosed yet and I told Neil that my only request while we were in Athens was to hit up Jimmy John’s. NYC has no Jimmy John’s. I missed it. It was a quick and simple request. Well…we ran late to to the tail gate (and G-d forbid we miss out on 10-minutes of drinking) so Neil promised we would stop at Jimmy John’s on the way out of town. Well…on the way out of town everyone wanted to go to some calzone place (which honestly wasn’t all that good, if you ask the person who was craving a Beach Club sandwich). Needless to say, time ran out and there was no stop-off at JJ’s. I was devastated. Neil told me cheer up – “You can always get Jimmy John’s next time we are in Atlanta. It’s not like you’ll never eat it again!”. I believe in that moment he put a gluten hex on me. Three months later I was diagnosed with celiac.

So after stops at all the Bloomington highlights – including the ever famous my-parents-are-in-town-so-let’s-go-to Malibu Grill – we got home, felt gross and needed to do something healthy. I was craving a fancy meal, but didn’t feel like doing much prep – as per usual. My friend Stephanie makes incredible salmon and always talks about how simple it is. She inspired me to come up with this disgustingly easy baked salmon recipe. I paired it with this simple watercress salad as well as some bagged frozen rice that I doctored up with a little lemon, scallions and salt. Dinner took a total of 15-minutes. And it was so good that I made it again on Friday night for company.