Archive for October, 2010

Weekly Menu, October 31-November 6th

Happy Halloween!!

Spooky Bat & Ghost Pizza from Pizza Night last night!

We are preparing for the big day. Yesterday we carved pumpkins, and this morning I have to locate the goody bags, and the witches hats for the mommies.

Sunday is supposed to be our “international night,” though as you can tell, I’ve been playing a little loose with that. Sometimes there’s just too much going on Sunday to get our act together to “travel.”  And sometimes, as it seems whenever we plan a trip to “China” (aka Chinatown), someone gets sick. Today, it’s our poor little Tinker Bell. Hope she feels better by tonight.

Weekly Menu:

Sunday: Halloween necessitates a simple dinner. So it’s Rotisserie Chicken, plus home-made roast potatoes & leeks for dinner.

Monday: New Bon Appetit arrived last week! As per usual, the November issue is chock-a-block full of Thanksgiving recipes, but also a surprising amount of simple everyday dinner ideas. Tonight it’s their Kale & Cannellini Soup.

Tuesday: We have all been in and out of colds, so it’s back to Shrimp & Soba. Confession: I crave this almost every night.

Wednesday: Burritos-a-go-go

Thursday: Forecast says it won’t get above 55 degrees all week. Chili it is, then, that old-time fave from the dog-eared Silver Palate cookbook. The recipe is “chili for a crowd”; I broke it down to chili for 2-4 years ago. It’s a classic (as are the Lemon Bars and Mediterranean Chicken Salad from that cookbook).

Friday: Barefoot Contessa Lemon Chicken & Arugula Salad. She has a number of variations, but I’m thinking this one will be Piccata Style, from the Barefoot at Home cookbook.

Saturday: We’re entertaining a family of five. I think it’s going to be Flank Steak with mom’s marinade (recipe below!), perhaps a Potato & Gruyere gratin, Green Beans, chased by this amazing cake– Salted Caramel & Chocolate- from Sweet Paul. Yummo.

Mom’s Marinade (from the Kitchen of Sarah Gillespie):

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

2 TBSP soy sauce

2 TBSP water

1 TBSP sugar

Marinate overnight or longer! Great on flank steak.

Halloween 2010: Weekend Links for Brooklyn Mamas


Boo! (Flickr photo by Keith.Allison)

You probably already have some vague idea about what you’ll be doing with the kids for Halloween, right? So no need to run down an opinionated list of favorite event options. I’ll keep it simple. And not entirely Halloween-focused.

Honestly, we feel like we’ve almost already done Halloween. We’ve been apple and pumpkin picking, gone on a hayride, made our way out of two corn mazes, set big pumpkins on the stoop and strung spooky spiderwebs all around, dressed up in costume to attend the P.S. 295 Harvest Festival, and visited the home of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow author, Washington Irving.

This weekend we’ll be keeping it pretty chill. Two *possible* contenders for outings include The Central Park Pumpkin Festival and Prospect Park’s Halloween Haunted Walk and Carnival (both on Saturday.) Something about the park setting is appealing — room to run and good kids-in-fall-foliage photo opps.

Otherwise, it’s just Trick-or-Treating in the ‘hood (think we’ll pass on the Park Slope Halloween Parade. Though, who knows — maybe we’ll rally.)

Now, onto some food linkage:

Brooklyn Based did a nice piece this week on Eating and Drinking on Vanderbilt. Psyched to see that Fort Greene fave Pequena now has a Prospect Heights location. Lots of other great recs in the post, too.

And Brooklyn Exposed did a piece on The Hidden Food Scene in Brooklyn — in other words, praise-worthy places beyond Buttermilk Channel. One under-the-radar highlight is a spot right around the corner from us, Lot 2, and I can vouch for its charm and yummyness. Try one of their Sunday Suppers for $25 a person — here’s a recent menu.

Go forth, get a babysitter, and go on date night!

Happy Halloween, mamas.

(photo by Keith.Allison)

Almost-Halloween Links I Love

haunted house bag

Haunted House Trick-or-Treat bag, via Cool Mom Picks.


6 totally cute, easy, last-minute Halloween craft ideas. — Cool Mom Picks

Best UGG boots for kids. — Mom Finds

Review: Freckleface Strawberry: The Musical (mom + kid loved it!) — The Culture Mom

Breakups suck: A single mom fills in the empty spaces and moves on. — Mom Delicious

When did 5-year-olds get so mean? (+ liberal use of the word motherf*cker, which I enjoyed.) — ad hoc MOM

A yummy alternative to candy this weekend: Sweet ‘N’ Salty Chocolate Chip Cookies. — One Hungry Mama

Review: Angelina Ballerina: The Musical (damn, I better get tickets….) — NYCityMama

Weekend prep: Let the Switch Witch make all of that Halloween candy disappear. — A Child Grows in Brooklyn



New York Times: Is Candy Evil or Just Misunderstood?

Halloween candy

I want candy.

Good article in the Dining section of The New York Times today on the bad rep candy gets, just in time for Halloween. Nutrition experts and a Brooklyn-based, sweets-obsessed academic with a blog called Candy Professor weigh in and, the good news is, candy just has an image problem. It’s not pure evil.

(Relief! Excuse me while I grab another Fun-Size Snickers….)

OK, so anyway.

Samira Kawash, the blogger behind Candy Professor, studies the relationship Americans have with candy and why we view it as so bad and different from other sweet foods. (Amusing anecdote about a Brooklyn parent who equates it to giving a kid crack cocaine included.) But she says candy is what it is — “a processed food, eaten for pleasure, with no particular nutritional benefit.” And she and others in the piece point out that we eat and feed our kids all sorts of other, sugar-packed foods — like granola bars and fruit juice. They may be perceived as healthier, but many contain comparable amounts of sugar.

A nutrition professor at the University of Vermont notes that “Nutritionally there is littler difference between a gummy bear and a bite of fruit leather.” (I’ll remember that the next time I reach for one to give the kids.)

So, yes, candy is processed, and no, it’s not “good for you” — and then there is the whole corn syrup thing…. But maybe a *little* candy at Halloween isn’t the absolute end of the world.

And of course we can teach our kids about which foods are nutritious. And that not all candies have to be mass-produced or made with crappy ingredients. Witness Jennifer King of Brooklyn’s Liddabit Sweets, a small local candy maker. She uses premium ingredients that are often local, too.

The honey in her honeycomb candy is gathered from hives in New York City. I have eaten it, and I can tell you it is delicious. I can also tell you that they sell it at Bklyn Larder. So maybe make a special trip there this weekend and let your kids taste the difference between goodies that come from a giant plastic bag on sale at the drugstore and those that were made sweet by local bees.

That said, look for us out there this weekend, sporting costumes and on the dole for all of the Twizzlers, Mike & Ike’s, and mini bags of M&Ms we can find. We won’t eat them all, but half the fun is in the hunt.



Fall Day Trip: Washington Irving’s Sunnyside

Washington Irving's Sunnyside

The grounds at Sunnyside.

Much as we love New York, we also love a change of scene. Especially when the scenery looks like this. Last weekend, we headed with friends to the Hudson River Valley home of writer Washington Irving, who penned that famously spooky tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It was a fun fall/Halloween outing with kids.

Here’s the scoop on Washington Irving’s Sunnyside.

Washington Irving's Sunnyside

Irving's getaway, overlooking the Hudson River.

Continue reading ‘Fall Day Trip: Washington Irving’s Sunnyside’

Currently Obsessed with…. Barefoot Contessa’s Baked Fontina

Barefoot Contessa's baked fontina

Hello, cheesy goodness.

Despite the fact that we’ve eked out every possible last bit of summer this year — extra trips to the beach, extended sandal-wearing, and more ice cream cones on bonus warm, sunny days — fall‘s come anyway, and here we are at Halloween. Which means we’re all wanting comfort food. When I asked the kids this morning if we should turn our CSA share butternut squash into soup for tonight, they said, “Yes, Yes! We’ve never seen squash turn into soup before!” (It’s roasting in the oven right now.)

We have a couple of dinner get-togethers coming up, so we’re on the lookout for yummy-sounding-but-simple fall dishes, and have been perusing Ina Garten‘s new (and unfortunately-titled) Barefoot Contessa cookbook, “How Easy Is That?” Lots of tempting recipes. But I’m obsessing over her baked Fontina, which sounds easy and utterly delish. I can see us bringing it to the table in our cast-iron skillet and having everyone (kids included) dig in with hunks of crusty baguette.

Shouldn’t everyone have this in their near future?

Barefoot Contessa’s Baked Fontina

Serves 4 – 6

Ina says “It’s like a fondue in a cast-iron pot — you throw everything in and it’s ready in six minutes.” (Don’t hate me, but, how easy is that?)

1 1/2 pounds Italian Fontina, rind removed and 1-inch-diced

1/4 cup good olive oil

6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 crusty French baguette

Preheat the broiler and position the oven rack 5 inches from the heat.

Distribute the cubes of Fontina evenly in a 12-inch cast-iron pan. Drizzle on the olive oil. Combine the garlic, thyme, and rosemary and sprinkle it over the cheese and olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and place the pan under the broiler for 6 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling and starts to brown.

Serve the baked Fontina family-style — right out of the oven in the pan with bread for everyone to dip.


Weekly Menu, October 24-30

October has been such a ZOO. Every day, every weekend, something going on, and most of it fun fall stuff: apple picking, pumpkin picking, Governor’s Island, corn mazes, and drives out into the country with family.

This weekend, it was all about the school “Harvest Festival.” Yesterday morning, we were roasting multiple chickens (thank you convection oven) to take up to school and dressing up the kids (and ourselves) before running up the street and to enjoy such timeless school-event classics as a bouncy castle, face-painting, and a haunted “tunnel of terror.” The best part (for the adults) was the professional photographer taking family portraits. I hope one of them turns out for the annual Christmas card photo. Stay tuned…

On to food.

This week, I’m obsessed with an online magazine called Sweet Paul. Our fabulously elegant art director at work turned me on to it, and I’ve been flipping the (online) pages ever since. The weekly menu reflects some—though certainly not all—of my favorites. Enjoy!

Weekly Menu:

Sunday: I aspire to the roast chicken on the cover of Sweet Paul; it’s a one-pot meal, perfect for Sunday supper. BUT, the fact of the matter is that we are heading to Washington Irving’s estate for some haunted fun today, and have (possible) guests for late afternoon as well. So, it’s all about the 30-minutes-in-the-oven Rosa Mexicana rotisserie chicken from Fresh Direct, with a side of home-roasted vegetables & potatoes. The real deal will have to wait.

Monday: Still loving Dinner: A Love Story for weeknight inspiration. Yesterday was our last CSA pick up for the season, and it was full of things like butternut squash, radishes, spinach, celery, red cabbage (what to do with that?) and beets (anybody have a good recipe for beets?). So for Monday, which is supposed to rainy, it’s a Roast Butternut Squash Soup with crusty bread and salad.

Tuesday: Also from DALS: Tony’s Steak, with a Corn and Grilled Green Pepper Salad.

Wednesday: Reprising the steak in Burrito night.

Thursday: Pasta with Bacon, Tomatoes and either spinach or kale, both of which came in the CSA share

Friday: Grilled Salmon and Green Beans

Saturday: From Sweet Paul, a Mushroom, Honey & Chevre pizza. Looks and sounds amazing, but I am a little if-y on the honey on a pizza thing.

Halloween, here we come!!!

Mmm, pie. Four & Twenty Blackbirds

Four & Twenty Blackbirds

I’ve written about Four & Twenty Blackbirds pie shop (on Third Avenue at 8th Street in Park Slope) before, but if you haven’t been — go this weekend for a slice of fall yumminess.

Today’s offerings are noted above — we highly recommend the de-double-licious salted caramel apple.

The black bottom oatmeal was billed to me as being like a fudgy oatmeal cookie — we’ll get back to you.

And the plum crumble, as you can see, is all gone.

I took the last piece.


October 23 – 24: Weekend Links for Brooklyn Mamas


Flickr photo by evilmini

It’s Fall Harvest Festival Palooza in Brooklyn this weekend. You could take your pick, really, but I think you should come to our school’s — the P.S. 295 Harvest Festival. Here’s why:

It’s gonna be FUN! Face painting and a bouncy castle, yes — but also awesome Day of the Dead diorama making, music, a pumpkin sale, a Tunnel of Terror, AMAZING family portraits by Stomping Ground Photography, and a chance to learn about the school. It’s the Studio School for Arts and Culture in District 15 and we are happy there, people. If you’re on the lookout for a school, come check it out and chat with us and other parents while your kids party on with Harvest Festival activities. Have the kids come in costume (you, too, if you’re game) and definitely don’t miss the photos — I can tell you they were super-cute last year. There’ll be plenty of grub, too. So come on out and say hi! (Saturday, 1 – 5pm. 330 18th Street, bet 6th and 7th Aves.)

And if you want to FILL your day with fall fun, you can head to the Harvest Festival @ Pier 6 before you come see us. (Saturday, 10:30 – 1.)

For more spooky ideas this weekend, including Sunday’s Big Green Extreme Halloween, a fab fall fundraiser for P.S. 166 on the Upper West Side — haunted house, costume contest, rides, and good food (some by a top chef) — see a full list of weekend events from Mommy Poppins.

Last, I attended an early literacy event this week sponsored by Parenting and Target at the New York Public Library. It was informative, inspiring, and very much about where we are right now since Jasper is learning to read. But part of the focus was encouraging us — parents, educators, community members — to move beyond our own children and homes to help others become literate and get excited about reading.

Volunteer to read at a school in a low-income neighborhood. Donate books to a local school library. Start a mystery book club for kids. Help set up author events — which reminds me…. I know Doreen Cronin, author of Giggle Giggle Quack, Duck for President, Rescue Bunnies, and other completely delightful children’s books, from Magnolia‘s preschool. Think I’ll ask if she’d be willing to come to our school and read to the kids one day. Think I’ll go do it right now.

Have a good weekend!

(evilmini on Flickr)

Enter to Win a 2011 Trip to Tuscany from Ciao Bambino!

Wow, I’m up for a trip to Tuscany. How ’bout you? Enter to win one — and stay at the gorgeous, family-friendly estate pictured below — before midnight tonight.

I hope I win but, hey, if I don’t, then I hope you do!

And, hmmm…. Wonder if someone at Ciao Bambino! would be up for an interview in our new family travel series…. More to come!


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