Baby & Toddler · News

Catching up from vacation!

Hi everyone! We had an extremely restful week in Myrtle Beach (book-ended by a couple harrowing flying experiences, but that’s a tale for another day). I’m trying to get caught up at work these days, and trying to STAY caught up with my now-toddler, who is crazy! 

She’s definitely in the middle of a growth spurt and I am struggling to keep her from eating us out of house and home. New favorites for her include a hummus sandwich on two bagel thins, kiwi, papaya, jicama, macaroni & cheese, and grits. She also learned how to bite into crackers and take a small piece to chew, which opened up a whole new category of food for us! The hardest part about feeding her these days is the fact that she only wants what WE are having, even if her own favorites are sitting right there in front of her. This has caused me to realize that I eat way more chocolate chip cookies, mini snickers and sour cream & onion chips than I was ready to admit before Georgia took notice.

IMG_4952

I’m also struggling to get over the fact that summer is over, and that I have to rein in my diet after going whole hog with that tasty Southern cuisine. 

I bought up the last couple bottles of lemonade and limeade at Trader Joe’s this weekend so that I can hang on to that taste of summer for as long as possible. I like to combine them with seltzer to cut the sweetness and calories (a few of my top combinations below):

It’s still nice enough out in Boston for me to walk Georgia home from daycare, which will be great once Mark starts rehearsals for his next show on Monday. Being a one-car household as we are, my feet are my vehicle when he’s rehearsing and tech-ing!

I’ll be sharing photos of our trip very soon. In the meantime, check out this awesome video that Daddy and Georgia made right before we went away. It kind of went viral last week when ABC in New York picked it up 🙂

Until next time, read all about the science behind the most delicious cookies, and why the world’s most Michelin-starred chef has decided to reopen his Paris restaurant with a nearly meat-free menu. Plus, have you seen Cookie Monster’s famous sugar cookie recipe (with illustrated directions?) It’s adorable.

Recipes

Roasted Tomato & Zucchini Ricotta Pie

Ricotta is one of my favorite things, edible or otherwise. Light, fluffy and creamy, it never lets me down. Am I a walking stereotype with all the garlic, pasta and cheese on this blog? Probably. Do I care? Not in the slightest. (It’s not my fault Italian food fits naturally into the vegetarian diet).

This serves as an excellent side dish, or a standalone brunch/breakfast option. You can roast the vegetables ahead of time and then assemble & cook later on, or the next day, to save time. If you keep a home garden and are abounding in tomatoes and zucchini in later summer/early fall, then this comes together in a snap with only a few more ingredients: ricotta, 1 egg and fresh-grated parmesan cheese.

This is becoming a theme: Tasha photo bombs me just as I’m about to finally get the shot I need. This one’s actually a double-whammy if you count the whiskers coming in from the top left AND the reflection of her snout in the spoon. Appetizing?

To start, slice the zucchini into quarter-inch thick strips, discarding the ends. Slice the tomatoes into medum-thickness rounds, discarding the stems and ends. I mixed a couple varieties from my garden, including roma and beefsteak.

Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray; pre-heat the oven to 375. Adding zucchini to one tray and the tomatoes to the other, drizzle each with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Put in the zucchini first for 10 minutes, setting a timer; at 10 minutes, turn the zucchini and place the tray of tomatoes in the oven to roast as well. Cook both for 10 more minutes, or until the zucchini are really browning and the tomatoes are starting to sizzle at the edges. Depending on your oven and how thinly you sliced them, you may have to leave the zucchini in a tad longer. I kept my tomatoes in for 15 minutes total and my zucchini in for just over 20 minutes.

Let both cool for 10 minutes. Keep the oven at 375.

Meanwhile, mix together one egg, lightly beaten, with the ricotta and parmesan cheese, and stir by hand to blend. Season with pepper and torn fresh basil (half a dozen leaves).

Once the veggies are cool, spray a 9-inch pie plate with non-stick cooking spray and get ready to assemble the savory pie.

Add the zucchini in one layer on the bottom, then top with half the ricotta mixture and spread evenly.

Add the tomatoes next, layering the rest of the ricotta on top and spreading out so it covers completely. If you have a deep pie plate or you cooked an extra large quantity of zucchini and tomatoes, you can repeat these layers; just make sure you end on a ricotta layer.

Before popping in the oven, add the rest of the parmesan cheese plus one minced garlic clove to the top of the pie. Cook for 20 minutes or until it starts browning.

Let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving, so the pie sets up.

Voila! Creamy-cheesy-veggie goodness. Enjoy, friends.

Roasted Zucchini & Tomato Ricotta Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 zucchini, ends discarded and sliced into quarter-inch wide strips
  • 3-4 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • a couple handfuls of parmesan  cheese (either bagged or fresh grated)
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced in a press
  • about half a dozen torn fresh basil leaves
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Slice the zucchini and tomatoes, discarding any stems and ends. Set aside.

Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Pre-heat the oven to 375.

Adding zucchini to one tray and the tomatoes to the other, drizzle each with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Put in the zucchini first for 10 minutes, setting a timer; at 10 minutes, turn the zucchini and place the tray of tomatoes in the oven to roast as well. Cook both for 10 more minutes, or until the zucchini are really browning and the tomatoes are starting to sizzle at the edges.

Let both cool for 10 minutes. Keep the oven at 375.

Meanwhile, mix together one large egg, lightly beaten, with the ricotta and parmesan cheese, and stir by hand to blend. Season with pepper and torn fresh basil (half a dozen leaves).

Once the veggies are cool, spray a 9-inch pie plate with non-stick cooking spray and get ready to assemble the savory pie.

Add the zucchini in one layer on the bottom, topping with half the ricotta mixture and spreading out evenly.

Add the tomatoes next, layering the rest of the ricotta on top and spreading out so it covers completely. If you have a deep pie plate or you cooked an extra large quantity of zucchini and tomatoes, you can repeat these layers, taking care to end on a ricotta layer.

Before placing in the oven, add the rest of the parmesan cheese plus one minced garlic clove (quickly mix together in a small bowl) to the top of the pie.

Cook for 20 minutes or until it starts browning.

Let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving, so the pie sets up and becomes firm for you to slice.

Between the zucchini, tomatoes and basil, this can really highlight the very last fruits of a summer garden before autumn begins and the frost claims the rest.

This recipe inspired by the Washington Post healthy recipe section.

And speaking of great zucchini recipes, have you ever heard of making hummus with a zucchini base instead of chickpeas? According to Kimberly Snyder, un-sprouted chickpeas can be difficult to digest because they are starchy & protein-laden. So instead of blending chickpeas into hummus, she starts with zucchini and adds tahini plus a few other organic raw ingredients to make a tasty dip. Here’s her raw hummus recipe, which makes 6-8 servings and lasts up to a week in the fridge (and yes, for those of you keeping track, I totally lied about not posting any more zucchini recipes).

Photo Credit: Kimberly Snyder (kimberlysnyder.net)

No-Chickpea Hummus

  • 2 organic zucchini, chopped
  • ¾ cup tahini (raw if you can find it)
  • 2 Tbs. nutritional yeast
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  •  2 medium or 3 small garlic cloves, minced
  • High quality sea salt, to taste.

Process ingredients in blender until smooth. Enjoy as a dip or sandwich spread!

Recipes

Lemony Pasta with Sweet Sausage

Inspired by how easy it was to make pesto using an avocado, I decided to hunt around for more ways to create creamy, guilt-free pasta sauces. This one really ramps up the taste of fresh lemons and can easily be customized for a household with vegetarians and meat eaters, like mine. I just sauteed some chicken sausage in a small skillet to the side and added it to Mark’s portion, and then ate mine plain (which was just delicious!) You could try whatever sausage is your favorite, too.

This dish comes together quickly and can easily be doubled by buying two packages of pasta and using the entire package of sausage links. There’s so much sauce that you could probably stretch it across a doubled portion!

I’ve made avocado pesto many times before, but this recipe and its creative ingredients come to us courtesy of the “Food to Run For” blog, which happens to be written by someone with whom I went to high school (small world!)

To start, set the pasta on to boil. You can make the sauce and saute the sausage while it cooks.

In a blender, combine two avocados, the juice and zest of two organic lemons, a touch of garlic, 3 tablespoons of hummus, a splash of olive oil, torn basil and between 1/3 and 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese.

Meanwhile, slice the sausage into quarter sized pieces and cook over medium heat with no oil until browned.

When the pasta is done, toss it into a big bowl, reserving at least a cup of the pasta water to mix with the sauce in the blender. After blending the sauce and the pasta water, pour into the bowl with the pappardelle and stir to mix.

Top with freshly grated parmesan and hand-torn basil. Add the sausage if you’re using it, or eat it as-is, with a glass of white wine.

Lemony Pasta with Sweet Sausage

Serves 4 Time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 package sausage (I like Trader Joe’s Mango Chicken Sausage; use whole package if doubling recipe)
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s lemon pepper pappardelle (use 2 if doubling recipe)
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 bunch of basil (reserve some for garnish)
  • 3 TBSP edamame hummus (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • juice and zest of 2 organic lemons
  • olive oil
  • grated parmesan cheese (at least half a cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

DIRECTIONS

Blend avocados, basil, hummus, lemon juice & zest, olive oil, garlic and half the parmesan in a blender until smooth.

Cook pasta and drain into a large mixing bowl. While pasta is cooking, saute sausage (sliced into pieces) over medium heat in a non-stick pan and set aside.

Add a dash of the pasta cooking water to the blender and spin one more time; add sauce to hot pasta and mix. Top with sausage or serve it on the side to stay veggie friendly.

Serve garnished with freshly grated parmesan and torn basil leaves.

IMG_2182