Monday, April 29, 2013

Smoky Red Lentil Soup

Let me start this post by saying that, although this is a pureed soup, it is not meant to be sipped with a straw.  I'm not automatically saying no to the whole thing, just pointing out that I believe it's best with just a spoon.
The first time I cooked up this recipe from Sprouted Kitchen, I was on the phone with my dad just before busting out my immersion blender to smooth it out.  His response when I told him what I was doing was, "So, do you use a straw?"  Actually, this is a totally valid question coming from him, as he had to drink meals through a straw when he had jaw surgery many years ago.  If you're having oral surgery that involves your jaw being wired shut, this soup might just hit the spot.
During the in-between season of spring and winter (when will actual spring pop up?), I like soups that aren't crazy heavy (cream-based) and chunky (chilis).  This comes together relatively quickly, with the exception of a roasted sweet potato that takes about 45 minutes to cook.  It's a complete meal, full of lentils, onions, a bit of Greek yogurt for protein, and the above-mentioned starch.  As per my pregnancy cravings, we usually serve this with these biscuits; it can't be beat.

Smoky Red Lentil Soup, from The Sprouted Kitchen, 2012
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Spanish onion, coarsely diced
Smoked sea salt and ground pepper
3 celery stalks, diced
2 c. dried red lentils, rinsed
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 Tbsp. cumin
4 c. low-sodium veggie or chicken broth (I've used both, and actually prefer the veggie)
1 small sweet potato
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro
Juice from 1 lemon or lime
Greek yogurt, for garnish

1. Wrap sweet potato and roast it at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork.  Set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, add onion and salt, and cook until onion is translucent, 5-8 minutes.  Add celery, stir, and cook until just softened, 5ish more minutes.
3. Add lentils, paprika, cumin, and broth.  Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to a simmer.  Cover and let cook for about 15 minutes, until lentils are soft but not falling apart.  Remove from heat.
4. Peel sweet potato and add flesh to the lentils.  Using an immersion blender (or doing batches in a blender), puree the soup until it's just blended but has some texture.  Season to taste.
5. Serve into bowls and top with a dollop of yogurt (and chives, if you have a few on hand).  Enjoy!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Abbi's Out of Office Message

Hey y'all,
I'm currently in Illinois, getting ready for a 5K tonight and 10K tomorrow morning with some of my lovely family.  Can't wait to fill you in on how it all went!  I'll let you know if I hobble or stride confidently back into Roswell next Wednesday.
Enjoy your weekend,
Abbi xo

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

One Last Thing Before I Go

Admittedly, I have a soft spot for Jonathan Tropper; his fifth novel, This is Where I Leave You, was the first book I reviewed on TLP.  I stand by my original statement of Tropper being cut from the same cloth as the decidedly male-centric Nick Hornby; this is another novel about the plight of the middle-aged, middle-class suburban male in today's world.  
Drew Silver is having a tough week: his ex-wife is getting remarried to a cardiac surgeon, his 18-year old daughter just told him that she's pregnant, and he has been told (by his ex's fiancee) that he needs a stent put into his heart or else he will die within a matter of months.  After years of having nothing to live for and secluding himself from everyone who loves him, Silver decides to not have the surgery, using his remaining weeks to rebuild some of those bridges long ago burned.  
The novel moves along at a swift pace, and the characters are moderately likable, if not incredibly flawed.  Tropper is at his best when exploring the inner workings of the male mind, as with Silver's realization that his father (a rabbi) has never raised his voice until recently or that his daughter has told him about her pregnancy because he's the one person who she doesn't mind disappointing.  I can't help reading his books as though they're already being scripted for films, as they feel a bit Hollywood.  There's a big revelation, love triangles, scripted ending.  I'd visit Tropper's books for summer reading, as there's not too much here to really scratch your head over.  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How to Watch TV Like Haley

This is by far and away my favorite show.  It's about Shawn, a hyper-observant slacker man-child, and his best friend, Gus, a straight-laced pharmaceutical salesman.  Shawn accidentally gives the Santa Barbara Police Department the idea that he is psychic, and they start employing him as a psychic detective on cases.  Shawn and Gus have been friends since grade school, and the show is laced with early 80s references, silly nicknames, and crazy cases.  Matt and I love love love this show!

New Girl:

You have all probably heard about this show, and maybe you watched it in the first season.  I'm here to tell you, it was a little weird in the first season.  The main character is awkward and annoying, and you just have to stick it out.  It gets so so much more funny and really gets its sea legs in the second season.  Jess is a teacher, whose heart gets broken and she moves into an apartment with three boys who don't know what to do with a female roommate.  Jess is unabashedly girly, loves polka dots and baking, and doing arts and crafts, and the boys are the typical boys that you'd expect.  Somehow, though, they take each other under their wings and become buds.  It's silly, and awesome.  Matt even likes it, which is saying something.

I was too scared to watch this show, because it's honestly a bit creepy until you get to know it.  Nick, a homicide detective in Portland, discovers that he is a Grimm, a type of guardian who protects humans from Wesen, creatures from the Brothers Grimm fairy tales.  In this show, they are all around us, but only Grimms have the unique ability to distinguish them and stop the dangerous ones from harming us poor innocent humans.  His partner eventually is let in on the secret, and he makes friends with a non-dangerous Wesen, who helps him investigate and make sense of this new world he has discovered.  It's a little dark, but surprisingly engaging, and there are all kinds of story lines involving not only fairy tales, but international societies, love, and friendship.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

Quick Broccoli-Red Pepper Frittata

Think of this frittata as a crustless quiche: all the deliciousness of a classy egg dish without the hassle of pre-baking a pie crust!  I've made this recipe from Eating for Pregnancy, by Catherine Jones and Rose Ann Hudson, RD, LD, several times over the last couple of months, and am totally satisfied each time.  You're getting lots of good protein from the eggs, plus it's packed with veggies: onions, bell pepper, broccoli, and tomato.  It's kind of like throwing a salad into an omelet and making it look pretty.
Feel free to substitute another quick-cook veggie for the broccoli; I'm looking forward to making this with summer squash when the weather gets warm enough!
Last week I served this with a green salad and some bread with a bell pepper/eggplant spread.  Heavenly.

Quick Broccoli-Red Pepper Frittata, from Eating for Pregnancy, Catherine Jones and Rose Ann Hudson, RD, LD, 2009
Supposedly serves 4-5, but I've been hungry lately, so let's say 2-3

5 large eggs
1/4 c. whole milk (I used soy)
1/2 tsp. salt
Pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 c. very small broccoli florets
2 Tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
1 small tomato, thinly sliced, with seeds removed
1/3 c. grated cheese (I used Gruyere; the recipe recommends parmesan)

1. Combine eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in a bowl and whisk until well blended.
2. Heat 1 Tbsp. of the oil and all of the butter in a large, oven-proof skillet over medium heat (this is a good time to break out the cast iron).  Add onions and bell pepper, and sautee until light golden, about 4-5 minutes.  Add broccoli, 2 Tbsp. of water, and continue to cook until broccoli is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.  Stir in parsley during last minute of cooking.
3. While broccoli is cooking, preheat broiler to highest setting.
4. Add remaining olive oil to skillet, then pour egg over veggies.  Don't stir at this point!  Cook for 2 minutes, until the eggs are set on the bottom.  During this time, arrange tomato slices on top and sprinkle with cheese.
5. Move skillet to broiler for 4ish minutes, until top has set and cheese is golden.  Serve warm.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Haley's Week in Photos

This week started with an outing to the Square Grouper, where we had some delicious drinks and took some pictures for Local Behavior.  Have you ever had a Bushwacker?  It is a little like an alcoholic chocolate milkshake, and very dangerous on a Sunday afternoon at a tiki bar.

I bought this little sweater for Abbi's wedding, and love the detail on the back!  It's a very light fabric, with a pleated chiffon panel on the back, and it's so sweet and airy.  

Layla is only ever allowed on the beds in our house if its thundering outside, so summertime in South Florida is her favorite thing.  She gets frightened in storms, but we are pretty sure that she secretly looks forward to them so that she can cuddle like this while I'm on the computer.

I LOVE my new Keds!  They come with white laces, too, but why not kick in some color there?  I'm planning on wearing them around Chicago when we visit next weekend, so I've been breaking them in and wearing them all the time.  Layla approves. 

...and speaking of thunderstorms, this was the sky when I left work the other day.  Driving home through this was daunting, and very much like driving through a 10-mile car wash, but I made it home safely!  What doesn't kill us makes us stronger, right?

Up this weekend: one of my best friend's bachelorette party, and craft day with Nesi, Andrea, and Laura--I promise a more exciting wrap-up next Friday!

Adventures in Pregnancy: Week 25

Well, here I am, barefoot and pregnant.  End of post.

Just kidding!  It's been a couple of weeks since I did a dedicated post on growing a person inside my belly, so settle in for some chit-chat about the my last few weeks.

 A month ago (at 20 weeks), you couldn't even really tell I was pregnant from the front.  I was thinking to myself, arrogantly, "Purchasing those maternity jeans was such a waste of money!  I'll be able to get away with holding my regular pants together with a hairband throughout this process; how much bigger can I really get?"  Ha!

 At 21 weeks, we found out the churro is a boy, and I also tried to bring back above-the-waist maxi skirts.  Not sure if that's going to work until week 40 (!), but I am positive that this skirt is the absolute workhorse of my closet right now.  It's fabulous!

 Cravings include homemade brownies...

...and lots of waffles.  Also biscuits.  Those don't stay around long enough to photograph.

 How cute is the churro's nursery?  There is obviously a lot of work to be done still, but I absolutely love how it looks so far.  That light was JP's when he was a wee one, and the rocking chair was transported here all the way from Illinois by my mom; Haley and I were both rocked to sleep in it.

There are lots of cute little blankies and teeny onesies in the black baskets by the dresser, and we're going with graphic black and white prints on the wall.  It's good for baby's eye development, blah blah blah.

Now, at 25 weeks, the churro is 13 inches long from head to toe, and weighs close to 2 lbs.  His eyes are also open!
It's not as glamorous as I thought it would be: there are stretch marks on my tummy, my bellybutton is a mostly-outie at this point, I can't sleep more than 3 hours at a time due to the bladder situation at night, and only elastic and drawstring bottoms fit.
These hormones are starting to kick in like crazy: lots of tears at the season 2 premiere of The West Wing, when I locked myself out of our house yesterday for 1.5 hours without having eaten lunch beforehand, and even when the stroller we registered for arrived today from my dad (first registry gift and it's awesome!  Thanks, Dad and Karen!).
Running is getting harder, the churro sits on my sciatic nerve sometimes, and I stupidly find myself holding in my belly when shaving my legs, as if it will help me see my ankles better.  Note to self: you can't suck in a baby.
We went bowling a few weeks ago and, on my first frame, in front of some people I knew and some I had met a 5 minutes before, I released the ball and fell right onto my hands and knees because my center of gravity is just not what it used to be.  (I fouled that frame, but did go on to win.)

HOWEVER, I cannot get over how incredible it is to have a doctor's appointment and hear our son's heartbeat in stereo.  JP and I fall asleep with our hands on my belly so we can feel him kicking us and squirming around.  I look at my husband when he's folding up swaddling blankets and smiling because the churro is giving him internal high-fives, and cannot wait to see him as a father to someone we created together.  I can't get over that this is all happening inside of me.  What a crazy time.  15 weeks to go...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pesto-Tomato Pasta

You guys are lucky that this meal stuck around long enough for me to photograph a "finished" photo!  This was one of those serendipitous meals that you throw together out of the scraps that you have around the kitchen and it turns out like you had followed a recipe from Martha Stewart.  Although, Martha would probably faint over her skillet if she saw me adding both packaged pesto AND canned stewed tomatoes to a recipe, rather than making everything from scratch.  Please don't tell on me to Martha (Grandma in NC, I'm lookin at you.).  

For this recipe, you'll need some type of pasta, preferably with ridges to hold all of this good sauce, one package of powdered creamy pesto, one can of stewed tomatoes, butter, and garlic.  That's it.

Start out by boiling your pasta, of course.  

Melt about 2 tbsp. of butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.

Add a couple cloves of minced garlic, and let that sit nicely in the pan while it softens.  Keep the heat low here, because no one likes burned garlic.

After two or three minutes, add the creamy pesto sauce mix (which is the only kind of pesto I can use, because all other kinds have nuts, which Matt can't eat!)...

...and the can of tomatoes. 

Stir it all up, and raise the heat to medium high.  You can use your spoon to kind of smush up the larger pieces of tomato, or use diced tomatoes.  Let this simmer for a couple of minutes, while the pasta finishes cooking.  Drain the pasta, but try to keep some of the pasta water on the pasta.  What I did was pour the pasta through the colander, then threw the pasta straight back into the pan, without letting it drain at all.  The pasta water still has all of the good starch, which helps the sauce thicken a bit and stick to the pasta better.  Then just pour the sauce over the pasta, and serve!  

Matt and I had this for lunch on the porch last Sunday, garnished with fresh basil from my herb garden,  in phenomenal weather, and a bit of white wine, and it was just the perfect light lunch!

Let's take a moment, and just admire all of the colors in this photo.  I am just wild over the napkins that Mommi made us, and I love setting the table outside with all of the fun colors and patterns!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The One and Only Ivan

My mom recommended this book to me a few months ago, as it's based on a silverback gorilla who now resides in the Atlanta Zoo!  Katherine Applegate tells the story of the one and only Ivan, who lives in a mall.  He's one of a few zoo animals who does shows a couple of times a day; there's also Stella, an older elephant, and Bob, a stray dog who sleeps on his belly at night.  The mall owner/zoo keeper brings a baby elephant named Ruby into the show one day, and her optimistic outlook on life kicks Ivan's ambition to get out of the mall big-top into high gear.  
It's a juvenile fiction book, so the wording is pretty simple.  I almost wrote 'the narrative is pretty simple,' but had to backtrack; I think this book has a lot of depth that isn't always present in books for younger audiences.  Ivan and Stella have been treated pretty badly by humans, and Ruby is a baby whose spirit is in danger of being squashed by the mall owner.  Readers will definitely develop a great amount of empathy for the animals represented in the book, and it offers several opportunities for discussion with kids.  Also, it won the Newbery Award, so you know it's good!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What's A Dog For?

When I go to the library with time on my hands, I tend to end up in one of two places: 636.7 (Dogs) or 746.1 (knitting).  This particular book caught my eye, because the pup on the front reminded me of a certain niece of mine, with crazy ears and a cute little face.  John Homans' dog, Stella, was the catalyst for this book, when his family adopted her from a rescue.  He wanted to know why she was the way she was.  Why does she like his company so much?  Why the elaborate greeting when he walks through the door?  Why does she look to him to solve her problems (like the fact that the leftover chicken is in the fridge, and she doesn't have thumbs)?

This book raises some really interesting questions, and provides some really thought-provoking answers.  He writes about the Canine Science Forum in Vienna, where scientists present experiments to prove that dogs understand human expressions of emotion, explained "dog guilt", and hypothesize about the ways that dogs differ from wolves and foxes.  He speaks with scientists who discovered that dogs are the only animal (the only animal) that understands the act of pointing at something, people who study how dogs are like human babies (hint: a lot), and whether dogs likes humans only because humans give them food, or if human interaction has been hard-wired in doggy brains after eons of breeding.   Homans presents his findings in a narrative voice, and loops everything back to his own beloved pup, which makes this a really informative but actually interesting read.

I'm pretty sure I have it figured out, though.  What's a dog for?


Monday, April 15, 2013

Everything Bagels (from scratch!)

Lovelies, I have discovered the trick to impressing people: make bagels from scratch.  I've made the recipe below, from A Beautiful Mess, on 4 different occasions now, and their minds are blown every time.  No one needs to know that the whole process takes less than 2 hours, and one hour of that is just dough rising.  And definitely don't confess that the hardest part of the whole thing is just not eating all 8 bagels as soon as they come out of the oven.  I have also discovered that the best way to face crazy compliments from something homemade is just to say, "Thank you so much!  Now if only I could make homemade cream cheese..."
These come out fluffy on the inside, with a firm and well-toasted crust.  They may be a bit smaller than the bagels you'll buy at the store, but that just means you can slather them with more toppings to make up for it!

Everything Bagels, from A Beautiful Mess
makes 8
1 1/4 c. warm water
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. (one package) active dry yeast
3 1/2 c. bread flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds 
2 tsp. poppy seeds
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 teaspoon smoked sea salt (regular is definitely good, too!)
1 egg

1. In a bowl, combine the water and sugar and stir to dissolve. Pour in the yeast and allow this to sit for 6-8 minutes. In a larger bowl, whisk together the flour and 1 1/2 tsp. salt. Once the yeast mixture has had time to activate, pour it in to the flour mixture and stir until a crumbly dough forms. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 6-7 minutes until the dough begins to become elastic-like. You can also do this in a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment.  (It will be infinitely easier using a dough hook, and I actually haven't done this part by hand.) Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into eight equal pieces. Shape into a ball and press your finger through to form the center hole. Once you have shaped all the bagels, allow them to rest for 10 minutes or so. Now place them into a large saucepan of boiling water. They should float. Let them cook for 45 seconds to 1 minute on each side, then remove to your prepared baking sheet.
3. Whisk the egg plus 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl and brush this over each bagel. Sprinkle on the seeds! (The egg wash will help them stick as well as add a pretty brown sheen to your bagels.)  Bake at 425°F for 20 minutes. If you don't eat them all in one day, store in an airtight container for 4-5 days.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Haley's Week in Photos

Last weekend was pretty exciting!  My very very good friend, Cari, whom I met while we were studying in Ireland, came to visit for the day!  We haven't seen each other in 4 years (since we left Ireland!), and it was so refreshing to see her again; we reminisced, I showed her around Jupiter, and we had lunch at Guanabana, even though the weather was pretty wretched.  She has now officially joined the Air Force as a flight nurse, so I was really happy to be able to see her before she starts traveling all over the world, saving lives!

Matt and his brother and friends are starting a company, Local Behavior, and they just got their first order of shirts in.  We went down to the river to do a photo shoot, in beautiful weather, and the photos turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself!  So proud of Matt!

Here is part of something that I made, Apple Sharlotka, that I forgot to take finished pictures of, because I was so excited to just EAT it!  You basically fill a springform pan with apple chunks, then pour a batter over it to fill in the cracks and bake it!  It's delicious, and I'll have to make it again, so I can post the recipe. Darn.

No really, I love this thing.  

My breakfast spot this morning--I really can't complain.  

Layla very sweetly supervised me eating breakfast, to be sure that I did not drop some poached egg or toast.  She is so helpful.

How adorable are these napkins that Mommi made Matt and I for part of my birthday present!  Each one is different, and they match our place mats so perfectly!  Thanks, Mommi!!

House Tour 2013

After several weeks of boxes and figuring out where everything should go, our home is (mostly) put together.  There are a few pieces of art that need a home, but what we have is out in a room.  Granted, a lot of those rooms are empty (I didn't even photograph one of the bedrooms upstairs because it's just like, a bed and one framed print), but it feels like we actually live here now.  This is a super picture-heavy post, so get ready!

Here's our home a couple weeks ago, when the flowers were in bloom (they're mostly pink now).  It's so lovely to drive onto our cul de sac and see it right in the middle!  It's my happy place. 

Once you walk into the front door, there's an office to the left.  Right now, the bookshelves are completely overwhelmed, but we're on the lookout for some new shelves to go in the sitting room.  I do like the way this room has come together: academic but not stuffy. 

Our sitting room!  AKA yoga studio 1.  The windows let in a ton of light, and I'm digging the warm grey on the walls.  This room will one day have furniture in it, but it's really low on the priority list right now. 

Right next to sitting room is the dining room, aka yoga studio 2.  We'll get a table and chair one day, along with a buffet to go under JP's 'Ecstasy,' but, again, no rush on this space.  I'm kind of looking forward to it being a tummy time area for the churro!  
These windows look into the backyard; more pictures on that next week after JP and I get our hands in it this weekend. 

From the dining room, this is the view: kitchen straight ahead, family room to the left, and staircase to the right. 

The family room is our homey space, with the big ol' couch and the teeny ol' coffee table (it's just a substitute until we find our forever table).  Mia loves sleeping in the sunlight that comes in; it's the cutest thing. 

The view of the family room from the breakfast nook; how do you like our owl perched on top of the built-ins?  Again, the bookshelves are color-coordinated and packed to the gills.  We're very literate.

All of our eating is currently done in the breakfast nook, which we adore.

We re-hung the gallery wall this time, with the photos hung along an invisible line in the middle of the wall.

Our makeshift garden, which makes me smile at our meals.  It's cute and low-maintenance; what could be better?

 The kitchen houses an embarrassment of riches: large pantry behind the white door, tons of counter space, gas stovetop, even a little desk (where I'm currently writing this post) to the left!  I'm in here a lot, barefoot and pregnant.

Our wonderful laundry room, with lots of storage and a cute little bird sign from Grandma in North Carolina!  Very practical and I totally don't mind being in here a lot throughout the week. 

Upstairs is our bedroom, which is the most awesome oasis.  It's awful to get out of this bed in the morning.  We're going for a clean, minimal look in here, to keep our minds calm. 

The master bathroom is another relaxing space.  It actually gets tons of light, but this photo totally doesn't do it justice. 

I could write odes to my closet.  That's right, this is all mine!  (JP's is to the right of his dresser in the photo of the master bedroom.)  
It should be noted that I can't fit into about 1/3 of this stuff at 24 weeks.  Pregnancy is kind of rough on a wardrobe. 

Our guest room is pretty simple: bed, dresser, nightstand in shades of beige and brown.  It needs some color, but is definitely open for business (wink, wink). 

I'll post more photos as the house comes together more.  Seriously, you're going to love the nursery when it's done.  Here's a little peek of what's going on in there so far...