What We Ate Wednesday

Another great corn recipe, and there are a few more to follow before we head into autumn. This is absolutely delicious. I've actually made it twice in the last few weeks since I forgot to take a photo the first time (bummer, we had to have it again;). It's rich and creamy (yes, there's cream and cheese in it, get over it), but so fresh with the corn and basil. The bacon balances out the sweetness from the corn and tomatoes perfectly. It's slightly annoying that you have to use a food processor (or blender), but so worth it. I love that it's otherwise pretty simple, not many ingredients at all.

Corn, Bacon & Basil Spaghetti
Adapted from Serious Eats’ Pasta with Bacon & Corn Pesto

1 lb. whole wheat spaghetti
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into strips (I used Wellshire Farms Black Forest Bacon)

4 ears corn, kernels removed

1 pint cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup whipping cream

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped basil leaves

Set a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat and cook the bacon until the fat renders and begins to turn golden. Remove with a slotted spatula to paper towels and set aside.
Add the corn kernels to the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes, or until they are just tender. Remove from heat and place half of the corn in a food processor or blender. Add the cream, cheese and salt and pulse until smooth. Return the creamed corn to the pan and mix with whole kernels and tomatoes.
While you’re preparing the corn, set a large pot of water to boil and cook your pasta until almost al dente. Transfer the pasta directly from the pot into the skillet, allowing some pasta water to transfer with the noodles. Add the bacon and pepper and toss the spaghetti with the corn until evenly coated.
Serve and sprinkle with the basil leaves and more Parmesan.

What We Ate Wednesday

My mom was taking the Smitten Kitchen cookbook to my aunt in Chicago a few weeks ago and I've made a few recipes from that blog before so I was excited to take a look through the cookbook before she took it. I found a lot of great recipes, but noted a few down.  Here's the first one I made.

Chicken Mustard Milanese with Arugula Salad
adapted from Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
1/2 cup flour
1 large egg white
3 tbsp smooth dijon mustard
2 tbsp coarse dijon mustard
1 tsp oregano
1 lemon, 1/2 tsp zest and whole lemon juiced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 cups panko
5 cups arugula
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for frying

crushed red pepper, optional

Recipe (serves 2 people):
Set out three plates, adding flour to the first, panko to the third and mixing 2 tbsp dijon mustard, the egg white, oregano, lemon zest and garlic in a bowl, then adding that to the second plate. Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides.  Dredge the chicken breast into flour and cover completely. Then dip it into the egg mixture and cover completely and then into the panko and cover completely.  Let rest on a clean plate.  Do the same with the second chicken breast.  Place the chicken breasts in the refrigerator for at least one hour and up to a day -- this is the first time I've tried this and the coating stuck so much better than normal.  To cook the chicken add about 1/2" of oil in a saute pan.  Once the oil is hot add the chicken breasts to the pan.  Cook for about 4 minutes on the first side. Cook until golden brown, but make sure the chicken is cooked through. I would pound mine even thinner next time as it took a lot longer and got a bit too brown in trying to cook all th way through. Once they are golden brown flip and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes until golden brown. Remove from oil and place on paper towels to drain the oil.  Sprinkle each side of the chicken with salt and pepper.  

While the chicken is cooking, make the salad.  Whisk together 1 tbsp smooth mustard, 2 tbsp coarse mustard, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. I added a dash of crushed red pepper for a bit of kick and I didn't have fennel so I just left out completely.  Add most of dressing to the salad right before serving.  When you are ready to serve plate the chicken and add some of the dressing directly on the chicken then top the chicken with the salad. 

This turned out great! Even though I'd make them thinner next time, Dave and I both agreed this would be a great dish to serve at a dinner party (not sure the next time I'll have one of those!). It would be fairly easy to prep everything in advance and maybe just warm the cooked chicken breasts in the oven before serving. The dish looks elegant, has tons of flavor but is also super easy. I'll definitely be making this one again.

Week 17

What a great week! William was finally a bit fussy when eating last night, but all in all, he ate well the whole week, and generally, was in a pretty good mood. What a difference! I've also starting keeping track of exactly how much he's eating during the course of the day and this has put me at ease a bit as he's consistently getting around 30oz a day. Even if he eats only an ounce at one feeding, he seems to make up for it during the rest of the day, and especially at night, which isn't necessarily a good thing, but we'll take what we can get.

We kept up with our normal activities last week and on Wednesday, my dad came over with Tenzing and Crusoe and we all headed to the park. Even though W&G aren't exactly playing in the sand yet, it is more fun now that I can put them out on a blanket so they can move around. I did get a few funny looks and my dad finally told someone, 'they're not all hers!' 4 kids 3 and under would definitely be a bit crazy!

It was a great week for me as I had a lot of fun stuff going on at night. Morgan came for a visit on Monday and it was great to catch up, Tuesday I had a Junior League meeting and it was fun to get things started for the year, Thursday Dave and I had our weekly date night and a good dinner at new restaurant Mason Pacific with a stop for ice cream at Swensen's after, Friday I got to get out with the girls for a few hours and Alisa was in town! Saturday, I got my haircut and Dave took the boys for a walk and playtime on the grass -- he got the best photos.



That afternoon, Dave and I headed to Santa Cruz for Megan's sister's wedding. It was beautiful! Perfect weather, she looked stunning, it was a really fun night.

Sunday was a fairly relaxing day with the family. We went out to brunch right near our house but William was being a bit demanding.

The boys are doing so much more now, I can't wait to do their 4-month post after we go to the doctor for their check-up at the end of next week. I think my favorite thing is that George slept until 6am on Friday night! We're still putting them down at 7:30pm, waking them up at 10/10:30 for another feed and then we wait until they wake up. William (who can definitely make it until 4/4:30 without eating), has been waking up at 12:30, 2:30, 3am, etc so we need to get him on track. But if George isn't woken up by William's cries, he can go a lot longer. This week Priscilla is holding them off until 5am. No problem for George, but William won't be happy, especially since he doesn't get the paci anymore when he wakes up. George is still not thrilled with naps, but William can't seem to get enough sleep during the day. Last week it seemed that after every feeding he would just want to go back to sleep, I'd make him play a little bit, but he'd be get cranky so I'd just put him down again. If we could just get him to sleep this way at night... Maybe they're growing as it's currently 10:15am and George woke up at 7, played a little bit, ate and has been sleeping since 8:15. William woke up at 8:15, was still grumpy, ate a couple ounces and I basically put him right back to bed by 9 and he's still sleeping. I'll take it :)

What We Ate Wednesday

I've really enjoyed getting back into cooking and would say that we're having 3-4 homemade dinners per week. Fridays I never cook, usually picking up something fast, and on the weekends we generally have a big lunch and I'll just make a salad or something light for dinner. Having the help in the afternoons has made a difference in giving me time to both shop and cook, but really, I've found that making dinner during their afternoon nap is best as that way when I do have someone else here with them, I can get out of the house and run errands, work out, etc.

It's been nice to get away from the basic meals I was focusing on when I first attempted making dinner again, things like pasta, fajitas, etc. Now, I aim to make at least 2 new, or more interesting dinners a week and I figure documenting them every Wednesday on the blog will help me keep up. I realize it's Thursday, but hopefully I'll get on track for next week.

With corn in season now, we've had some great summer-inspired dishes so today I'll feature two of them: a quick salad with just a few ingredients, and a more complicated (and unfortunately multi-pot) dinner.

Summer Salad

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 package of shelled edamame
2 ears of corn, shucked
1 log (from Trader Joe's) fresh mozzarella, diced
olive oil
arugula, or other small greens, optional

Grill the ears of corn either on a BBQ or I just used a panini grill pan, until grill marks appear. Let cool slightly, then slice the kernels off each ear into a bowl. Dump the edamame and tomatoes into the same bowl along with the mozzarella. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Enjoy as is or serve over baby greens. You could also substitute the olive oil for a bit of pesto.

This made a big batch that Dave and I had over a salad for dinner one night, then I had it for lunch just by itself several days after during the week.

Corn Farrotto
(adapted from Bon Appetit)

Corn Puree
1 and 1/2 cups of fresh corn kernels (2 ears of corn)
1/2 cup of minced onion
1 tablespoon of olive oil
salt to taste
2 cups of vegetable or chicken broth

Farrotto Ingredients
2 cups (or more) of vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup of regular semi-pearled farro (I used quick cook from Trader Joe's and it worked fine)
fine sea salt to taste
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 cup of minced red onion
1 cup of fresh corn kernels (1 ear of corn)
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup diced red or yellow bell pepper
4 slices of bacon
1/2 cup of chopped cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil
crushed red pepper, if desired

To make the corn puree, combine the corn, onion, oil and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and translucent (7 minutes); don't brown the onions.

Add 2 cups of  broth and increase the heat to high. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently, uncovered, until the corn is softened and cooked through and liquid is reduced by half (about 20 minutes). Allow the mixture to cool slightly.

Transfer mixture to a blender and purée until smooth. Be careful when pureeing hot liquids.

Strain the purée through a sieve into a 2 cup heatproof measuring cup. Set the puree aside. Add more broth to the measuring cup if needed, to measure 1 and 1/3 cups. Set aside.

While your corn purée is cooking, bring 2 cups of broth, rinsed farro, a pinch of salt and 1 cup of water to a simmer in a large saucepan -- I just followed the directions on the package. Cook until the farro is tender (about 30 minutes). Drain the farro and return to pot.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add red onion and cook until just beginning to soften (about 3 minutes). Add the 1 cup of corn and the bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begging to brown (about 5 minutes). Keep warm.

In the pan used to simmer the corn for the puree, heat over medium and add 4 slices of bacon. Cook until browned, then drain.

While bacon is cooking, add the corn purée to the farro and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally and adding more broth (the broth that was strained from the puree) by 1/4 cupfuls if farrotto begins to become dry. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the farrotto is very creamy and risotto-like.

Stir in Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide farrotto among bowls. Top with diced cherry tomatoes, basil, bacon and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper if desired.

I won't lie, this dish is a pain because it creates a lot of dishes, but it's still fairly simple and doesn't take long, you're really just multi-tasking and have multiple things going at once. I love the use of farro and the summer flavors are great. I had to add bacon though... There's an amazing corn and bacon pizza Dave and I get during the summer, that actually should be featured here, so I've been inspired by the combination.

Week 16

William, George

The big event from last week was the feeding clinic which I briefly mentioned and although I was satisfied that William ate poorly there (exactly what they needed to see), we didn't leave with many answers. We met with a feeding therapist and behaviorist and they both agreed that something seems to be making William uncomfortable, but as they're not doctors, they couldn't diagnose beyond that, and referred us to a GI. They warned me that because he's in the 75the percentile for weight, the GI probably wouldn't even want to talk to us, but we went in yesterday and the doctor was great. We spent about 45 minutes talking through his issues, but as expected, because he's gaining so well, they don't want to perform any tests that can be rather invasive. We go back in a month to check in with her, and since weight loss, or not enough weight gained is a sign of a more serious issue, unless there are changes with his weight, they again won't do much. She did recommend that we add probiotics to his bottles. She also suggested I keep a food diary to see if we can correlate his bad feedings with anything in my diet. There was discussion about removing dairy from my diet, but she agreed that that is not likely to be the issue since he has breast milk at night and never has any issues with the feedings or spitting up. So... still not much progress. I haven't gotten the probiotics yet, but we'll see if that does anything.

Other than that, we had a pretty good week, William actually did pretty well with the feedings in general. Dave was away for the first time, he got to go to Big Sur with two of his best friends and had a great time. The boys got to meet Uncle Nick and see Uncle Chip again.

My mom pretty much stayed with me in Dave's absence, helping on Friday and Saturday and then she ended up staying until Sunday morning. The boys were pretty good, but it was nice to have both the help and the company, plus I know my mom loves the time with the babies. I didn't let her help during the night. Since William isn't fussy during night feedings, it didn't make sense to have her wake up to help (though I do still appreciate Dave doing it with me on weekends!). They did pretty well. William woke up both nights around 2am (they really should be sleeping until 4/4:30am). The first night the paci wouldn't help and he screamed for a good 5 minutes before settling in on the boppy next to me. The next night I was up and down about 5 times over a 45-minute period getting the paci back in. Even though it's just one night feeding, it's definitely more exhausting when I have to do it all on my own -- you have to be pretty strategic about getting the two of them changed and set up without having them scream. I nurse George, sometimes before waking up William if he happens to still be sleeping, then get George set up, get all ready for pumping and then wake William, get him ready and do the 2 bottle feedings while pumping. It takes just over an hour including bottle prep and clean up. It's not too bad, though I'm hoping they're going a bit longer by the time Priscilla leaves us.

I really should have said that the big event from last week was going on the swings for the first time and not the boring feeding clinic. It was my mom's idea and they opened a new park across from the Ferry Building, so after going to the farmer's market Saturday morning, we headed to the park to try out the swings. We put George in by himself for the first time, then did back to back with William. George was pretty much how he was when we took him swimming -- indifferent, but William actually liked it! We got big smiles.

I also purchased a mobile for them but decided against putting it in the crib and set it up out in the living room instead. Not thrilled about the placement, but it's a great 6:30pm activity when it's not quite time to eat, but they're tired and grumpy. We missed Dad, but took him to the when he got back on Sunday so he could see the new trick.

I got to meet up with a friend for drinks Tuesday night and then Dave and I went out with friends. I also did some shopping for the boys -- first time I've bought stuff IN the store. I got so used to online while on bed rest that it was fun to actually look at stuff in person. I feel like I've been seeing them in the same stuff for a while now, so excited for the 3-6 month clothes!

Week 15

Not too much to report from last week. It was a pretty good week, we did our normal activities and everyone was good Monday through Thursday. Luckily my mom was with me Friday as William was awful. Still not sure what his problem was, but basically Friday through the weekend was really tough with him. Every single feeding was a battle, he was fussy pretty much all day and we just couldn't make him happy. My poor mom had to be with him all of Sunday afternoon and evening as Dave and I went to a wedding up in Sonoma, but I guess everyone survived.

William went to the feeding clinic on Monday and we still don't have any answers, but it seems that there's definitely something off with his eating. Next step is going to a GI.

The troublemaker

I got out without the babies several times, dinner with some friends on Tuesday, then dinner out with Dave on Thursday, then the wedding Sunday. We had a lot of fun. I'm also now getting some help during the week, luckily we found some amazing women to help us -- actually they're Priscilla's sister-in-laws. Lolina comes on Mondays and Thursdays, staying late Thursdays so we can go out to dinner, and Alieta comes on Tuesdays. It's just for a few hours in the late afternoon/early evening, but it gives me help during 2 feedings, gives me an hour or 2 to get some stuff done, plus it's help getting them to bed. Both of them are great and it's working out really well so hopefully it continues to. On the days that are tough, it's nice to know that I just need to make it to 4pm and then someone will be there to help me. Definitely is keeping this mom sane! But so are these smiles I'm getting now :)

Happy boys :)

Week 14

We're pretty settled in to our routine now so I won't bore you with the daily update of our various classes but the highlights of Week 14 were a visit from the lactation consultant, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, a visit from Uncle Meyers.

On Monday, I had a lactation consultant come over as a one final opinion on William. I'm not expecting anything to change, but as we've passed the 3-month mark, I feel it's time to either make this happen, or accept that it's not. Katie was really good, was here for 2 hours and watched me feed each and gave me a lot of tips on pumping and increasing milk supply. William, luckily, was on his worst (well, more normal) behavior, so Katie got to see exactly what I was talking about. She even fed him a bottle and saw how fussy he was on that. Unfortunately all that she came up with was that it's just his disposition... great. Not much I can do about that. I think the visit was still worthwhile, and she did give a few suggestions of things to try, but mostly I only attempt around 3:45, either when William is starting to wake up from his nap, or I pull him out of bed and try to get him to nurse before really waking up. This actually has been working pretty well, but no better than our best recent sessions which are no longer than a minute or two. I still haven't officially given up, but it's such a little part of my day now since I'm only attempting once, and there's really no battle involved.

I did talk to the pediatrician again, as he's been so fussy on the bottle. He should be eating 4-5oz a feeding and there are times he's so fussy, I can barely get 2.5oz down. Some days are fine, others are awful, so the doctor is sending us into a feeding clinic on Monday to get evaluated. Unfortunately (or fortunately I guess), William has been eating great this week, both in volume and degree of fussiness. I'm sure he'll be great on Monday and then go back to his old ways on Tuesday. Luckily I've been able to get a few videos so hopefully I can show them that in case he is a good eater on Monday. I'm not really expecting any serious feeding issues, as he eats perfectly fine at night, no fussiness, no spitting up, nothing.

                          George                                                             William

Now on to more exciting things, Uncle Meyers came to visit from Chicago. On Friday, we met Dave and Meyers over in Sausalito for the crab sandwich. Saturday we walked around the Ferry Building, but the highlight was definitely the Giants game on Sunday. The boys were surprisingly good! They fell asleep once we got to the park and the earphone someone had recommended were key -- it's so loud in the park, underneath the speakers, with fans screaming, etc, so with those on, they couldn't hear a thing. We decked them out in Giants gear and tucked them in their carriers. Unfortunately the Giants lost, but we had a really fun time.

In general, the boys are sleeping really well, both in naps and at night. George went from 10 to 4:45 on Friday night so I'm thrilled with that. Saturday night, I let Dave sleep through the feeding and for the first time did the whole night on my own, which was doable, but it's tough to keep William quiet when he's hungry so I can warm his bottle. We're hoping by the end of August we'll have everything squared away with their sleeping and Priscilla can move on to her next family, or come help us occasionally during the day. We'll be so sad to see her go!