Monday, December 15, 2014

Cookies for Kids (Not My Kids, They're Tooo Young)

The twins eat solids now so I made them cookies. Mama of the Year, I tell ya! Kidding, kidding.

I made cookies for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.

Fourth year and still going strong. (Years 1, 2 & 3 for your reference!) Just so you know I procrastinated because the twins decided to go on a nap hiatus for 6 days straight, but I showed them and made these babies after the human babies went to bed. I drank wine too. Mom wins. Or the cookies win, not sure yet.
Wine + Bottle Warmer + KitchenAid Mixer = PRODUCTIVITY

The best part about the swap? Well there's a couple best parts. 1. You get 3 kinds of cookies from other bloggers. It's like Christmas before Christmas. 2. We all pay a couple of dollars to participate and all our dollars go to Cookies for Kids' Cancer. Probably my favorite part. 3. There's cookies people, cookies!

Want to know what I got?
*Minty Chocolate Chip cookies from Crazy for Crust

*Dark Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies from The Daily Dabble

*Tie Dye Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies from The Seaside Baker

My husband is still asking when the next package is going to arrive. Can someone tell him it's over, we need to make our own cookies.

So the cookies I made? Well I wanted something chocolate cause I'm a chocolate girl. And I have twins - enough said. So I got on the nutella cookie train and then kinda switched it up and the twins ate 3 dozen. JUST KIDDING, everyone calm down.

Chocolate Cookie Dough Cookies
adapted from Averie Cooks recipe 

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)

heaping 1/2 cup Trade Joe’s Cookie + Cocoa Swirl Spread
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon baking soda

pinch salt
1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup dark chocolate chunks

*Beat the butter, TJ’s spread, sugars, egg and vanilla on medium-high speed until creamed, about 4 minutes.
*Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute.
*Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the white and dark chocolate chips, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.
*Using a cookie scoop or Tablespoon measure out the batter and roll into balls, and flatten slightly.
*Place cookies on a large plate or tray, cover with plasticwrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 5 days.

*Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet and place cookies at least 2 inches apart and bake for about 8-9 minutes. Cookies will seem slightly undercooked but they firm as they cool (don't overbake!). 
*Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes before devouring

Monday, December 1, 2014

It's Very "Purpley"

Okay name that movie, who created the word "purpley?"

ELF!!! Remember when he says "oh that dress is very purpley." Only the bestest movie ever.

Okay who got us all off track? It was you guys it wasn't me. I'm always on track. I mean ask my husband. This girl? Always. On. Track.

Right, the track. Okay so my new cooking method is to make lots of food, with little effort and freeze it so I always have something on hand. I can't have the same thing for 4 days. That's too much. Too much.

So I made lentils. They were brown lentils but then they turned purple. It wasn't my fault. It was the carrots. But purple is a nice color right? We had organic purple carrots and I threw them in the pot. And the lentils turned purple. Purple lentils are delicious though. Delicious.

NOTE: If you read to the end I say the word "poop" and I show you the boys. Just saying.

Purpley Lentils
1 onion or 2 leeks chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
3-5 carrots, chopped
3-5 celery stalks, chopped
1 1/2 cups lentils
2 Tbsp tomato paste
4-6 cups of stock
handfuls of baby spinach (really who measures out baby spinach - just add what you want!)
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
GOOD olive oil
salt + pepper

*Saute onions/leeks, carrots, celery in olive oil for 5 minutes over medium heat in a heavy bottom pot (keep those non-stick pans far away friends, far away)
*Add in garlic and sauté until translucent and yummy smelling
*Add in lentils and "toast" for about a minute
*Add tomato paste and stir throughout your pot
*Add salt and pepper to taste
*Add stock and bring to a boil, turn heat to low and cook until lentils are soft - about 40 minutes
This is why I love this recipe, you can leave it on low and tend to baby poops.  Yes there's baby poop written in the middle of my recipe
*At the end add the spinach, red wine vinegar and any additional salt & pepper
*All done, feel free to eat a bowl and freeze the rest

Lentil Faces

Monday, November 10, 2014

Month 1: Day-to-Day

I showered, got dressed (in real clothes) and wore make-up every single day of my maternity leave. I'm actually really proud of this so feel free to leave any congrats below.

All kidding aside, my maternity leave was different. It's okay I'm a bit different. But I wanted to break down our day-to-day. Not for anything other than education. Maybe you have a friend or family member dealing with a "not so normal" maternity leave. I'll tell you what they need most. Voicemails. Text Messages. And Food. I didn't write a single thank-you card, but we couldn't have done it alone - Thank You.

After getting released from the hospital without your babes at your side, things change. You start to live in a life you never even knew existed. One that includes phone calls to nurses at all hours of the night, pumping non-stop (sorry guys), discussions on milliliters and saturation rates, kangaroo time and more tubes and wires than you've ever seen. Oh and the beeping. You will always remember the beeping.

There's something comforting and scary about the NICU at the same time. There's comfort in knowing that your child has the best care possible and there's comfort in knowing that the other families you spend hours with "get it." It's equally as scary because what you see day-to-day makes you appreciative of one thing, life.

So day in and day out you acclimate to a new norm. You spend hours in the NICU and it never seems like enough. Each time you walk out the door you restrain yourself from running back in. You need a break but you also never want to leave. That's why NICUs employ the most amazing nurses. You need them not only for the babies but for the parents who brought these darlings into the world. Again, thank you.

To make it a bit more confusing we had 2 babes in 2 different NICUs in 2 different hospitals. They were connected, but about a 15 minute walk from each other. Our days were spent logistically planning how we could spend as much time as possible with each baby. To break it down, there was never enough time.

But there was support. Through our nurses, through our NICU neighbors, through our family and friends. And that is how we survived month 1. The 1 1/2 hour drive each way each day. The saying good-bye each night. The hoping for good news the next morning.

There are a lot of details you don't share with the world. How some days you need a break but taking that break is almost worse. How your baby doesn't seem small even when preemie diapers are too big. How you really don't know if and when your baby can come home.

You also gain a lot of knowledge by being a NICU family. How to care for and love some of the tiniest little darlings. How you don't let wires get in the way. How to laugh about poop explosions in an isolate. How to dress a baby who's clothes don't even fit. It all feels normal in there at that moment. And normal is something we don't take for granted anymore.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

1 Cake, No Frosting

I ate a mini cannoli for lunch. Best decision ever. It was a NY cannoli so I kinda had to.

Anyway let's talk about the day I walked in the door and asked our nanny to stay 20 minutes longer to bake a cake. The look on her face was priceless. I told her not to worry there was no frosting involved.

Twenty minutes - tops. Then you can play with the twins and just pull it out of the oven when the timer beeps. It's a twin-approved cake. It's also approved to eat for breakfast or during long car rides.

So I was at a work photo shoot with the lovely Emily of mStarr Event Design - fancy, right - when I found myself volunteering to bake this cake for the next day. I'm kinda really glad I make impulsive decisions like this. Cause then there was cake. Really easy, really delicious, really delicate olive oil cake.

Also, it's not advised to bake right after the kitchen has been cleaned, but that's a topic for another day.

Olive oil cakes are Italian favorites that use REALLY GOOD olive oil and citrus to create this amazing treat. Don't skimp on buying the good olive oil or the fresh citrus. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Olive Oil Cake
adapted from a recipe a friend gave to a friend who probably got it from another friend

1 cup cake flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
3 farm fresh eggs
2 1/2 cups sugar
Zest of two lemons
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin cold pressed olive oil 
3/4 cup toasted sweetened coconut

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease & flour a 9x13 pan - I used a 9-inch round cake pan because I can't follow the rules
*Combine both flours, baking soda and powder, and salt 
*In a separate bowl whisk eggs & sugar together well
*Stir in zest, milk & oil until well combined
*Fold in dry ingredients and coconut
*Pour into pan and bak for 45 minutes - when using the 9-inch round pan, cooking time was approx. 35-40 minutes

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Gooooo Team

Infants are tough. Yup I said it, cause it's true. Twin infants are times 4 tough. And twin infants, one with a heart defect, are fun and tough-er-est.

It's not the logistical, no-sleep tough that gets to you though. It's months in the NICU, infant heart surgery, a whole team of medical professionals that many times I can't keep straight that becomes the toughest. I don't want it any other way, I don't wish for "different" kids. I just wish for more time as a family, more time with the twins and more time to do our own thing.

Let's back up, mmkay? At 12 weeks preggo (and rarely keeping food down), we were told Twin B had increased thickening of the neck. It was right on the border of being a concern so we decided to run a chromosomal test. Everything came back a-ok. So I ate more cheerios and ginger ale.

Week 20, the day after Christmas, we were going to find out if these crazies were boys, girls or monsters. I was going with monsters. That conversation was side-stepped as they noticed Twin B's heart was on the other side and turned around. Yup definitely monsters.

Less than a week later we were working with Boston Children's Heart Center and discovered that Twin B had more than a silly placed heart. To put it simply, all the pieces of his heart were there but the piping was a little off meaning un-oxygenated blood would be delivered to his body when he was born. It was "fixable."

Writing it makes the process sound simple and clear cut. It was not. There were no guarantees and we knew months out that our norm was not everyone's norm.

So reached out to some of our closest friends and family. From medical professional friends to those who spent time at Children's Hospital to those who just "got it." This is our core team, the people we work with that can't prescribe a single piece of medicine to the boys, but provide our little family with something much more important.

And that is how we keep moving forward.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

It's Fallfutiful

I made up a word. It's fall and beautiful in one perfect little word. We can now add that to the dictionary.
The twins went apple picking with their Aunt Jess

Anywho, back to fall. So last fall I had 2 beans in my belly (weird, but true) so I wanted nothing to do with fall flavors. The thought of pumpkin or apple or butternut squash sent me running to the bathroom. Seriously, no good. This year I'm doing and eating everything fall.

Hence the pumpkin ravioli fiasco of Saturday night.

Ravioli. Cooks quick. Great for busy mamas. EXCEPT not for twin mamas. There should be a disclaimer on the package. Mamas with twins walk away from this fresh, local pumpkin ravioli. 

Luckily I bought 2 packages. Cause the first package was cooking and I turned away to wash a bottle that took me 30 seconds longer than I thought and all the pumpkin filling exploded and boiled off into the water. I shed a tear. The beans let out a shriek. It was because of the ravioli not because of poop, I swear.

So feel free to substitute the ravioli with any sort of pasta because if you overcook regular pasta it's a little less of a fiasco. The idea with this meal is you really don't even need the onion, garlic or much seasoning because all the flavor is coming from the fresh sausage. It's genius. Seriously, genius. Okay maybe not, but it tastes really good and you can make it while two babes watch Spiderman from the living room floor (NO, we would never ever let our 6 month olds do that. Never. Okay, maybe just once. Or twice.)

Cheater Pasta
4 fresh pre-made sausage links with any of your favorite flavoring (I used Whole Foods pepper and onion chicken sausage - so good)
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
3 handfuls of baby spinach
3 Tbsp GOOD olive oil
salt + pepper
1 package of any ravioli or pasta you'd like

*Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan
*Sautee your onions and garlic over low/medium heat
*Meanwhile cook pasta according to directions - DO NOT WASH BABY BOTTLES AT THE SAME TIME
*Remove casings from the sausage and place the sausage in your non-stick pan
*Using a wooden spoon break up the sausage and let it brown on both sides
*Once the sausage is cooked turn the heat to low and add your spinach if you have some on hand
*Drain your pasta
*Place the sausage and veggie mixture over pasta and viola - dinner!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Don't Be Late

Oh and don't forget to update your blog. Anyway back on topic...

I hate being late, like really dislike it. Just thinking about being late stresses me out. I feel anxious if other people are late. I’m sweating right now.
So apparently my babes hate being late too. So much so they came 7 weeks early. I can’t blame them – they didn’t want to miss Easter or Marathon Monday (the 2 best holidays). They showed up early to party. I forgot to wear my party shoes so the nice nurses gave me some socks (side note: when they tell you to pack a hospital bag and leave it in your car I suggest you listen)
Meet Lou 

And Dean

I only now realize how scared we should have been and how peanut-sized they were. We don’t have other babes, we didn’t know. So we trekked along and have some stories to tell.
But first let’s discuss baby jeans. I die. (Hospital gowns, not as cute)

Oh remember when this was just a food blog? Yeah, now I just make food for the week and food for babies. It’s kinda the same thing, but a little quicker and different. And it tastes really good (the baby food especially). It’s okay, one day I’ll open my own coffee shop – you know in my spare time.