Monday, January 30, 2017

Tater Tot Poutine: Because WE CAN.

Poutine.  POOOOOOO-TEEEEEN.  It's just a really fun word.

And a delicious dish.  I mean, our friends up north have really nailed the comfort food arena.  Tim Horton's, beaver tails, Nanaimo bars, and POUTINE.  No wonder everyone is trying to move up there...I mean, that's the REAL reason, right folks?  Nothing to do with who El Presidente is.  Put on your best holier-than-thou act all you want---you REALLY just want to have unlimited access to Timbits and a double double from T-Ho's.  AND POUTINE.  Which, if you're not hip to it, is french fries, covered in fresh cheese curds, and then doused in rich brown gravy.  Go on, tell me you're not salivating.


I was perusing the cheese case at my local wine purveyor's the other day and found a package of jalapeno cheese curds from Edgewood Creamery in Purdy, Missouri.  They were marked down for quick sale, and I was happy to oblige.
What shall I do with these cheese curds? The only honest, respectable thing one can do with cheese curds-- serve them over potatoes with brown gravy.  It's every cheese curd's dream to go out like that.  
BUT...I didn't have fries at home. And I didn't want to MAKE fries.  But what I did have?


So, like a good Midwestern non-Canadian gal, I baked up some crispy, delicious tots...
...and got to work.

INGREDIENTS: (Makes 2-3 servings)
Approximately 2 handfuls of tater tots (or more. I won't judge.)
4 ounces cheese curds
1 cup prepared brown gravy (I use Tony Chacheres)
1/4 cup thinly sliced onions (you could easily add or do mushrooms instead--I had some sliced onions I needed to use up and they went really well in this dish.)

Bake the tater tots according to package directions until brown and crisp on the outside (generally about 20 minutes).

While that's going, prepare your gravy.  Add the cool water, gravy mix, and onions to a small pan, and heat to boiling, while whisking.  Let boil for at least a minute, then decrease the temperature and simmer until it reaches your desired consistency (I like the gravy to be slightly thick, and to cling to the back of a spoon.)

Once the tots are done, transfer them into small bowls, then add the cheese curds, and top with onion gravy.  
Pairs well with Dark Star black kolsch from Bur Oak Brewing in CoMo.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Adventures in Parenting: 15 Months In, and 2017 Mom Resolutions

Time for another update! 
Weight: ~27 lbs (meaning he weighs roughly the same as his 3.5 year old cousin)
Teeth: still loading, at approximately 80%

The Kid:
He's been walking for over a month now, and is getting better at it, though he still trips a lot.  He's also getting better at handing his sippy cup back to us or setting it down on his high chair, rather than throwing it.  I mean...he does still throw it, but less frequently.  He's also starting to pick up a few more baby signs at day care and use them...but in his mind, the sign for "milk" is essentially the same as "want" for ANYTHING.  So we see the sign for "milk" accompanied by pointing a LOT.  Still not a lot of words, but plenty of babbling, and he also sometimes "sings" along with songs (not words, just the tune), and likes to bop along with music. He's still generally a smiley, happy kid (until he's not, and then it's time for a nap or bed).
I'm not sure this kid will ever sleep under a blanket. He's too busy flopping back and forth, apparently trying to figure out which corner of the crib his head fits best in.

He's also starting to understand how things work. If given a phone (or anything remotely phone a remote), he'll hold it up to his ear.  The other day he held our infrared thermometer up to his forehead to "check his own temp".  Aaaaand there's the trash can.  Things go into the trash can A LOT.  ...on the plus side, it forces us to wash his toys more often?

He's been moved up to the toddler room at day care, which means napping on a cot and trying [again] to get him weaned off the bottle.  Hopefully this round will be more successful.  They tell me he's an excellent eater--he's the only kid in his class who will sit at the table & keep eating until he's finished all his food.  I'm hoping he doesn't start picking up bad habits from the other kids. :)  His use of utensils is improving, but if he's having trouble scooping or stabbing his food to get it into his mouth, he'll generally just chuck the fork/spoon and start using his hands.

Rather than using push-along toys, he wants to sit/ride on toys, or go for rides in his new wagon. 
Riding the Gator with his cousin while Gma supervises.

Unfortunately, it's a bit cold most of the time for wagon-riding outside, so we've been doing a lot of indoor wagon-ing.  But that's fine. I give him a bag of old Mardi Gras beads and suddenly it's a one-float parade!  (...where the rider puts on all the beads and doesn't throw them to anyone. Still gotta work on that.)
Waiting patiently for a ride, in his Abita onesie.

He also got his first haircut.  We waited until Christmas so his aunt (who is a hairdresser) could do it for him.  Buh-bye, baby mullet!

There's also this kinda cool new development, where he wants to sit in our laps while we're sitting on the floor, and then play with his toys while sitting there.  It doesn't always last long--he'll get up, go play with something else, and then come back.  Since I don't get as much snuggle time as I did when he was a baby, I kinda really love it.  He'll plop down in my lap, and then I pull his Mega Blocks table in front of us, so that we can both play (read: I build something cool, and then he destroys it.)

The Mom:
With 2017 starting, I've had a chance to look back & reflect on 2016.  I think the best word to describe 2016 for me is 'transition'.  I've transitioned from a mom who Googles every time her kid got a runny nose or fever, to a mom who doesn't freak out, but can focus on soothing her kid (usually with lots of snuggles, which is just awesome) and helping him feel better.  
(<3 me some baby snuggles)

Because kids get sick. It happens....a lot. And it's generally not doctor or Google-worthy.  You just give snuggles and hugs and extra sleep and plenty of fluids and a little medicine if needed.  I've also transitioned from a scatterbrained working mom who can barely hold it together to...well, a less scatterbrained working mom who can better focus on work at work, and kid at home.  

I still don't find time to cook as much as I'd like, but it's getting better.  Things are constantly changing....and that's okay.  Things never really get easier, they just change.  You get better at dealing with the challenges in front of you, and then the challenges change, so you adjust, too.

The Holidays:
Christmas was fun.  We got to spend time with family--well, Lil' Man spent a lot of time with family.  My nieces & nephews used to get really excited about seeing me...but now they just get excited about seeing the kid.  I've essentially been replaced by a younger, cuter, more fun version of myself.  

At least the littlest one  (age 3.5) still wants to play with me.  I think she harbors some resentment against Baby J for no longer being the baby that gets all the attention.  At one meal, I heard her say, "Daddy, make him stop looking at me."  

Lil' Man doesn't still get the whole "unwrapping presents" thing.  He'd get distracted and play with the wrapping paper, or just get bored and go play with a toy that was already unwrapped.  
I'm sure next year he'll be more into it. Now that he's mobile, a lot of time was spent just trying to keep an eye on him and making sure he didn't get into anything he wasn't supposed to have.  Easier at my in-laws, because there were 6 adults and 4 kids sharing the responsibility.  Lil' Man loves his family and getting all the attention. And he now has more toys than he needs, so it looks like it's time to cycle some out and pass them along or put them in a consignment sale later this year.
(This is just the living room.  There are plenty more in his room and downstairs.)

We also got to have a Christmas gathering with our old trivia friends.  We haven't gotten to play trivia...well...I think at all in 2016!  That's really sad, now that I think about it.  Everyone's having kids and such & just a lot of life changes.  But this was the first time we all got together with the kids, and it was REALLY fun.  It's nice to see how our group of friends has evolved, and to watch our little "2nd Gen" kiddos run around and play together.  I like the idea of watching them all grow up together.

The Resolutions:
New year, new year's resolutions, of course.  There are so many things I COULD say: drink more water, walk more, lose weight, go to the gym, be a good mom/wife, etc.  But let's keep it simple.

1) I got a 5 year One Line A Day journal for Christmas, so the plan is to write in it each day. I can manage a couple sentences.
2) Eat More Breakfast.  This was inspired by an episode of The Sporkful.  I'm a notorious breakfast skipper. So far, so good. I'm planning to use Instagram to help me track my progress.
3) Actually unsubscribe from the junk mail I get, instead of just deleting it daily.  This one is nice, because in theory, it should only require a concentrated effort at the beginning of the year--when everyone's will is still strong.  That effort will decrease the amount of mail later in the year.  It's really the ideal resolution.
4) Find time for self-care at least once a quarter.  Four times a year.  That's all.  Whether it be an outing with friends, coffee by myself with a book, or a trip to the salon... just something other than a solo trip to the grocery store (which I do still appreciate, but it doesn't quite count as self-care).  I tend to be the type of person who doesn't get another pedicure until all the polish from the LAST pedicure has disappeared from my toes. And haircuts...well...if I get one a year, that counts, right?  And while I love a great massage...if I don't make an appointment for another before I leave the's not going to happen for at least another year. It's not that I don't enjoy pampering--I'm human, after all, I LOVE pampering. I just don't make time for it.  And I need to work on that.
5) Keep the kid alive.  This is probably a given, but still a good goal.

If you'd like to share your resolutions, I'm all ears!  Happy New Year, y'all!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Top Posts of 2016

Hey gang--thanks for hanging in there with me for another year on the interwebz. It's been a weird one, definitely a year of transition, both for me and for this blog.  This is fairly evident from the posts from 2016 that were the most popular.  To those of you who read this, thank you.  Without you, I'm just a girl chucking her thoughts and recipes into the inter-ether. Which, I mean, I'm still going to do, regardless--this is my creative outlet after all.  But getting feedback from you makes it a whole lot more interactive and fun.

So, in no particular order, here's the top posts from 2016!