Torrents of Spring

Torrents of Spring – a comical little story by Hemingway if you like satires and are familiar with the writing style of his generation. It’s also a rather fitting description of our life.

Hello! It has been quite some time since our Chopped Challenge. As you may have noticed, we are on a bit of a hiatus here at Eat, Play, Love; however, before we continue the self-imposed pause on our journey, I wanted to share the winning recipes from our big day, a few updates and a teaser.

You may remember, our appetizer basket required the use of rice flour, macadamia nuts, Parmesan cheese and spinach. Miss A and I made a roasted garlic macadamia nut hummus with spinach and macadamia pesto served with rice flour fry bread. While it was delicious it was no match for Mike and Mr. N’s hand-made rice flour pierogi filled with potato and bison meat and served with a butter macadamia nut sauce. pierogi

Print the recipe here: Pierogis

Then we had a meatless basket which challenged us to combine cauliflower, kale, apricots and chili. Miss A and I opted for a slow cooker recipe since we had to jet out mid-event to the birthday party on that cold, snowy day (doesn’t seem fair that months later we’re still waking up to snow!). The strategy paid off in the end when our chili nachos won the round against Mr. N and Mike’s fried vegetable spring rolls with chili apricot sauce. The funny thing is, that I much preferred the boys’ dish. In fact I prefer their take on spring rolls to those I’ve had in restaurants. But the majority rules, and the chili was a hit with the boys who ate leftovers for the rest of the week! chili nachos

Print the recipe here: Chili Nachos

Last, but definitely not least, was our dessert round. This is often the toughest round and typically where Mike’s teams have lost in the past. Dessert is his weakness. It was much the same this year since Miss A and I brought out the berry semi-freddo using the basket ingredients of puff pastry, oreos, peppermint schnapps and cream cheese. It was the clear victor over Mike and Mr. N’s oreo crusted, mint-infused cheesecake. berry semi-freddo

Print the recipe: Berry Semi-Freddo

Thank you again for participating in and following along with our annual Chopped Challenge. It’s one of our favorite things to do as a family each year. Speaking of family, we’re all doing well. Thank you to those of you that have reached out. We are all alive and well, just busy, busy, busy. The kids’ schedules and a few trips and adventures on the horizon have turned our lives a bit upside down once again. We’ve had to reprioritize some things and sadly blogging had to take a back seat.

Miss A is rolling along in first grade and still loving every minute of gymnastics. She and Mike also found time to hit the daddy-daughter dance again this year (notice all those missing teeth!). IMG_4479

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As for Mr. N, well, he’s found himself in another play in the city! He auditioned last month and rehearsals are now underway. He’s the only child in the play and has about 100 lines! It is an original screenplay about the Oklahoma City bombing, which was now 20 years ago! He’s very excited, as are we.play practice

Well, that’s all for now folks. I have to run get Miss A’s dinner made before gymnastics. We miss you all and want you know we’re still silently lurking in the blog world. We hope to be back sometime over the summer, at which point we might have some news about our next big adventure. Until then, cheers!

Chopped Challenge 2015 – A Live Blogging Event

9:19 a.m. CST
Well, the big day has finally arrived. Blizzard

While most of America recognizes today as Super Bowl Sunday, in our house it’s more commonly known as Chopped Challenge Day. As you can see by the pictures, it’s also our first big winter storm of 2015. Burrrr

Certainly we’re no strangers to this kind of weather and typically when it falls on a weekend, we’ll hunker down and get cozy. Any other Chopped Challenge day and this would be perfect. But this year, we’ve got some extra challenges coming our way. snow snow snow

The match-ups were drawn by number and the girls are once again pitted against the boys. Mike and Mr. N’s team, Team Ninjago is facing the reigning, three-time champion Kristy and her partner for this year, Miss A. The girls’ team, otherwise known as, Team Miyagi is feeling rather confident this year, perhaps too confident? Team Miyagi

Meanwhile, Team Ninjago is down a man. Mr. N had a birthday party sleepover (where we’re guessing there was little sleep involved) last night and won’t return until mid-day. Will ChefDad be able to carry his team to victory? Will Mr. N’s sleepless night spell trouble for the boys? team ninjago

Only time will tell, but Team Miyagi has challenges of its own to face as well. Miss A also has a birthday party to attend today, taking both her and mom out of play for a good 2 to 3 hours! How will the girls manage to overcome that hurdle? Especially when it means shoveling is likely involved. snow day

No matter. The show must go on. This is Chopped Challenge Day after all. Will Kristy maintain her Championship title? Will the boys take advantage of their underdog status and lull Team Miyagi into complacency? We’ll find out as Chopped Challenge 2015 officially begins.

Ladies and gentleman the games begin now. The votes are in and despite the creativity of all the baskets, the winners were clear. With a runaway victory, the Appetizer Basket for this year is….Appetizer Basket

Rice flour, Macadamia Nuts, Parmesan Cheese and Spinach! What will our teams come up with this year? Stay tuned. We’ll be back and adding to this post, live throughout the day.

11:30 a.m. CST
We’re about an hour and a half into the event now. Let’s see where things stand. crunch time

Uh oh boys. Looks like the girls are all business now. Can’t you just see that drive in their eyes! Not to worry, ChefDad appears to have things under control – maybe not the kitchen counters, but certainly the food. Those look like some nice round cuts of dough. Rice flour and spinach perhaps? dough making

After the first set of dishes was washed, the girls entered the cooking arena. But wait, is that berry residue in the food processor? mixing it up

What is Team Miyagi up to? They look like they’re having too much fun, and don’t they know this is the appetizer round? Let’s hope their complacency hasn’t gotten the best of them. kitchen fun

While the girls laugh it up, ChefDad is all business. Potatoes and some kind of ground meat….any guesses what he’s going for yet? Interesting. meat and potatoes

Phew! Looks like the girls aren’t only working on the sweet stuff. They’ve got some garlic and oil going in the oven. Hmmm. Things are getting heated up around here! garlic roasting

We’ll check back in with our contestants again soon. Hopefully Mr. N will have returned to the mix by then!

12:32 p.m. CST

Last we checked, Team Miyagi was putting some garlic into the oven. However, there’s no garlic in sight now. Instead the girls have whipped up some cream. Is this part of their strategy? Dessert first? whipped cream

Strategy or not, Team Ninjago is working at full capacity now that Mr. N has returned. Mr. N returns

Good thing as it appears ChefDad experienced a setback with his dough while away. dough redo

We can’t be certain, but we thought we may have heard some sniggering from the other corner of the kitchen. Fortunately, Mr. N seems to have ChefDad back under control. team ninjago

And while the boys are still working away on the appetizer round. It looks like Team Miyagi has kicked off our main course basket. If we’re not mistaken, they haven’t even started their appetizer basket. This team appears to have just run amok!

So what was the winning main course basket for 2015? Again, another runaway winner…Chili, Kale, Apricots and Cauliflower! Main Course Basket

Looks like the girls are well underway with this one. chili fixins

Could they be taking the chili suggestion literally? Well, one thing is for certain. The Bewitching Kitchen seems to have given the girls a leg up with their cauliflower. It seems like they’ve turned it into cauli-rice. Cauli-rice

But wait, where’s Miss A? Miss A there is no sabotaging the other team. Get back to your corner! sabotage

Now the girls have some veggies in the mix. Carrots, kale, onion and celery. Could this be going where we think it’s going? veggies

While the girls prepare to head out for a few hours, the boys are still hard at work on the appetizer round. Hopefully they can use this uninterrupted kitchen time to their advantage. boys team

Oh wait! It looks like the girls are too. Is that a slow cooker set to low? slow cookin'

Now that’s clever. They’ll still be cookin’ while they’re out playing! Good strategy ladies. Now let’s see what the boys can do with the kitchen. Surely it won’t look this clean when the girls return. clean kitchen

UPDATE: 2:24 PM.

Well, Team Miyagi is off working on their crane technique or something. Impressive that they ventured off into this blizzard, but it appears that there’s more danger at the birthday party than on the roads.
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Nice timing on the picture. Hope she made it into the foam pit.
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Yup. She’s OK!
Meanwhile, Team Ninjago is changing things up a bit too. They’re done with our appetizer (well, all but the finishing touches), and Team Miyagi hasn’t even started, but somehow the girls are pretty much done with dessert and the main course. They’re hard to explain. Superb Owl Sunday is all about making adjustments, though, and Team Ninjago audibled into their dessert preparation too. Sly move.
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What could Team Ninjago possibly be doing now?
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In the meantime, stay safe, Team Miyagi! This picture says it all: “We love you, but you’re going down.”
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5:00 p.m. CST

This is shaping up to be quite the showdown ladies and gents, and it’s looking like a long night for our teams. The three hour delay for Team Miyagi has really thrown off the timing of the event. The boys kept busy while the girls were away – chopping veggies, chefdad

taking selfies…selfie

They’re feeling rather confident, and perhaps they should with this dessert prep already underway:twists

crumpled oreos

But Team Miyagi didn’t waste any time upon their return. With Miss A a bit jumpy and Kristy’s knuckles a bit whiter after braving the mean, unpaved streets, the girls got right to work. hummus making

Looks like they’re putting that roasted garlic to work with a bit of chickpeas and macadamia nuts. In other words, their appetizer is finally underway! (As is this snow storm!) snowstorm

Within a few minutes of being home, it looks like Team Miyagi already has an appetizer ready to go. Hummus? macadamia hummus

But wait, where’s the girls’ spinach, parmesan and rice flour? Oh…here’s the spinach and parmesan. Looks like a fancy hummus with pesto. hummus and pesto

Now that’s a clever appetizer; although we don’t yet know what it’s pitted against. Team Ninjago has kept their appetizer hidden since earlier today while they’re hard at work on the main course. veggies and shrimp

spring rolls

Meanwhile, the girls are finally putting the rice flour to use. It looks like some kind of dough. rice flour dough

It is and it’s heading to the fry pan! Fry bread maybe? fry bread

Whatever it is, it sure looks tasty! What’s up next for our marathoners? Looks like Kristy and ChefDad have busted out the wine. They’re in for a long night for sure! wine time

At least no one has to venture back out in this mess. snow day

We’ll be back soon, but with the fading light the pictures may be less than ideal. On a positive note, we had light past 5 p.m. today! Spring is on the way. Right?!

5:37 p.m. CST

This just in – We have the Appetizer Round results!

The dishes put forth were:

A roasted garlic macadamia nut hummus with spinach and macadamia pesto served with rice flour fry bread.hummus and fry bread

And a hand-made rice flour pierogi filled with potato and bison meat and served with a butter macadamia nut sauce.pierogi

And the winner is….

Team Ninjago with their pierogi!

The spoon breakdown was as follows: Team Ninjago (Pierogi) – ChefDad (3), Mr. N (3), Kristy (3) and Miss A (4)

Team Miyagi (Hummus) – ChefDad (3), Mr. N (2), Kristy (3) and Miss A (3)

It was a close one, but it looks like the boys have won the first round. Kristy and Miss A certainly can’t be feeling complacent now. We’ll just have to see how their chili stacks up to the boys Asian rolls.

6:47 p.m. CST

Main course preparations are underway. Looks like the girls are using their chili to plate some nachos. What a great dish for game day! It smells fantastic too. nachos

queso fresco

And what is Team Ninjago up to? Looks like they went for some fried veggie spring rolls. veggie spring rolls

Wait! What’s this? The results are already in? So what did the Main Course Basket turn up this year?

Well, Team Ninjago brought Fried Vegetable Spring Rolls with Chili Apricot Sauce to the table. Main Course Spring Roll

And Team Miyagi whipped up some Chili Nachos. Chili Nachos

The winner is….

Chili Nachos! Things are certainly interesting now. It’s all up to the dessert round, but first how did the dishes rank with the spoons?

Team Ninjago (Spring Rolls) – ChefDad (2), Mr. N (2), Kristy (3-1/2), and Miss A (1)

Team Miyagi (Chili Nachos) – ChefDad (4), Mr. N (3), Kristy (2), and Miss A (2)

It’s heating up in here for sure. Who’s going to take home the title? It’s anyone’s game. We’ll have to see what dessert has in store for our chefs. The winning Dessert Basket this year (by a long shot) – Oreos, Peppermint Schnapps, Puff Pastry and Cream Cheese.

Stay tuned…we’ll be back with the 2015 Chopped Challenge Champion!!!!

8:29 p.m. CST

Just over 11 hours later and Chopped Challenge 2015 is winding to an end. The girls’ team busted out the puff pastry and the pie weights to create some little puff cups. Puff pastry

puff cups

Then Miss A whipped up some fresh whipped cream. What could they be making? And what happened to all those desserts from earlier in the day? whipping cream

Well folks, we knew this would be a stiff competition, but we had no idea that both Team Ninjago and Team Miyagi would each bring two desserts to the table. Looks like both of these teams want the win.

Team Ninjago brought the Puff Pastry Twists Filled with an Oreo and Cream Cheese Mint Frosting, Dipped in German Chocolate and sprinkled with Sea Salt. And they made an Oreo Crusted Mint Infused Cheesecake! Whew! Dessert twist and cake

And Team Miyagi presented a Raspberry Tart with Mint Cream Filling, raspberry tart

along with a Semifreddo Puff Pastry Sundae. Semifreddo Sundae

Now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The crowning of the 2015 Chopped Challenge! And the winner is….

Team Miyagi

Team Miyagi!!!! Kristy remains reigning champ for another year! Sorry boys…better luck next year. losers

So what tipped the scales in the girls favor? It was Miss A’s Semifreddo. She had ice cream on her brain the moment the winning baskets were announced. Good thing she did too, or the results may have swung the other direction. semifreddo sundae

The breakdown was as follows:

Team Ninjago (Puff Twists): ChefDad (3), Mr. N (3), Kristy (2), Miss A (2)
Team Ninjago (Cheesecake): ChefDad (2), Mr. N (4), Kristy (1), Miss A (2)

Team Miyagi (Tart): ChefDad (2), Mr. N (2), Kristy (1), Miss A (2)
Team Miyagi (Semifreddo): ChefDad (4), Mr. N (4), Kristy (4), Miss A (4)

The Semifreddo even takes the coveted all 4-spoon rating! Now that’s a first for Chopped Challenge!

Congratulations to Team Miyagi. It was a hard fought battle and another marathon event. celebration

But perhaps we shouldn’t celebrate just yet….There’s still the clean-up (or should I say the 10th clean-up of the day!)!
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Thank you all for following along with us today! We had another great year filled with fun, laughter, some good old fashioned trash talking and each other. Thank you for being a part of our memories. Long live Chopped Challenge!

(And looks like the kids get to sleep in tomorrow – snow day! Too bad mom and dad still have to work. Booo!)

It’s Time to Vote….Chopped Challenge 2015

Sure we hardly have time to blog let alone cook these days, but we’re not about to miss our annual Chopped Challenge live blogging event! It seems it has become a sacred family tradition. As Mike and I were trying to figure out how to logistically pull it off this year, the kids became quite adamant that it still happen on Super Bowl Sunday (Sunday, February 1st). It appears the kids take this just as seriously as we do, and why not, it’s always a ton of fun.

Remember this mess from 2012:dirty dishes

Or this delicious winner from 2012 (Chiptole Grilled Lobster over Stir Fried Buckwheat Noodles):chopped main course

We kicked things up a notch in 2013 with homemade pasta versus lentil burgers. The homemade pasta won the prize, but the lentil burgers have been made many times since. Black Beluga Lentil Burgers with Muffaletta Olive Salad

beluga lentil and artichoke pasta

And last year, well the competition got stiff. Chopped Challenge Teams 2014Arghboozing

The kids favorite dish from last year – Toasted Apple and Bacon Tortellini. fried tortellini

So are you ready for this year’s cooking challenge? Below we’ll have three polls – one for appetizers, one for the main course, and one for dessert. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the format, we base this off of the Food Network’s “Chopped” series. The premise is simple, contestants must use the ingredients in the basket (no matter how crazy they seem) to create a dish. There are three rounds (appetizer, main course, and dessert). The winning dish of each round is selected based on taste, presentation and creativity.

Well, below you’ll find three basket options for each round. This year we’re pulling from the baskets that didn’t make the cut in the past three years. Some of the baskets are clearly more kind than others; though we won’t name names. We’re excited about them all and look forward to the challenge. So, please select one basket (hitting “vote” on each poll – total of three) for each of the three rounds. The winners will then be announced in our live cook-off event on Sunday, February 1st, as Mike and I will go head-to-head to see what we can cook-up (will Mike be able to knock me off the winner’s circle this year?). Mr. N and Miss A will again serve as sous chefs, though teams have yet to be picked.

So without further ado…vote early and often! Voting remains open until Friday, January 30th. And make sure to stay tuned for the live blogging event and subsequent recipes. We can’t wait to see what you drop in our baskets this year!

For the Appetizer Basket we selected the non-winning baskets from 2013.

The Main Course options were taken from the non-winning baskets from 2014.

And the Dessert Basket comes to us from our very first year’s non-winning baskets in 2012.

Thanks for voting and we’ll be back, live (all day) on Sunday, February 1st for Chopped Challenge 2015!!!!

Four Years Ago

Well, this week marks four years of blogging here at Eat, Play, Love. We certainly don’t post like we used to (can’t believe I ever had time for three times a week!), but we’re still here, cooking and posting as we have time. Can you believe how much these kids of grown in the last four years?!

Our first official cooking adventure back in 2011.

Our first official cooking adventure back in 2011.

Not to mention how much their palate has certainly grown too. It’s been an amazing ride! But as we mention every year, the best part of this whole adventure is the people we have met both online and in person over the past few years. You have all enriched our lives so much and for that we are forever grateful.

Now, let’s kick off this fifth year of blogging with a recipe and a little holiday recap. It’s hard to believe December has come and gone already. It was quite a whirlwind of travel – visiting good friends and family. The kids had field trips and class parties. Mike and I had lots of year-end work, shopping, holiday prep…I’m sure many of you can relate. We didn’t cook or bake nearly as much as usual this year with all of our travel, but we did manage a delicious Christmas Eve dinner.

Christmas Eve has been a special tradition for the four of us. We spend it together at home, making a large meal, opening a few presents, eating cookies and doing an annual Christmas light drive. It’s a cherished set of traditions. And speaking of traditions, a new one has taken root on this festive night for the past several years – the cooking of a Bartolini recipe. It all began with Chicago John’s Spaghetti alla Carbonara. We even went all out and made homemade pasta. It was perfection. Then the next year Chicago John posted this beauty and we knew once again a Bartolini meal would grace our holiday table. So, this year, the question wasn’t what to make for dinner, it was what Bartolini dish to make for dinner! The winner for this year (and it was certainly a winner!), roasted duck ravioli. Delizioso! Four spoons all around John – no question.

Unfortunately we don’t have any pictures of the ravioli to share, but here are a few of our holiday. yes!

chipper

hobbs

If you look very closely you can see two cats in the tree!

If you look very closely you can see two cats in the tree!

just what I wanted

We did, however, manage to take a photo of the one cooking adventure we squeaked out during the holidays. Mr. N chose the country of Denmark as our destination. We wanted to make a traditional Danish holiday treat and the Pebernodder was just the thing. It’s a spice cookie which reminded us a lot of one of our family recipes but with one major difference – the addition of white pepper. I’d never heard of pepper in cookies before, so we figured this one would be our new cookie for the year.
Pebernodder

The cookies were soft and chewy with a sweet initial taste that then ended with a zing. The pepper wasn’t over-powering at all, but it did give these little bites a bit of zing. While they didn’t quite surpass our favorite holiday cookies, they did ring in with three spoons all around which I would say is a good solid cookie.

Print the recipe: Pebernodder

As for the rest of our holidays…Well, we left the frigid temps to visit Nana and Papa in Florida, with a quick stop at Universal Studios along the way. The weather was perfect, the kids once again proved themselves fantastic little road warriors (it’s a 24 hour drive) and well, how can you go wrong ringing in the New Year on a beach with fireworks?
Hogwarts Express

Diagon Alley

Gringotts

Dusk

sunsets

starfish

waves

beach fun

You have no idea how much we wish we were still there! It sure beat the wind chills of 25F below we’re having here now. Burrr!!!!! That said, we are happy to be settling back into our routines and feel a bit more rested after the holiday rush. Well, most of us are happy about it…Hobbs was quite sad to lose his tree.
my tree!

Thank you all again for following along on our adventures for the past four years. It’s been a bigger part of our lives and much more of a learning experience than we ever anticipated. We hope this new year finds you all happy, healthy and making delicious memories. Until next time!

Proud Mama

As promised, we have finally returned to an international cooking post. Many of you know we first founded this blog as a way to try new foods and “to open our children up to other cultures around the world.” Well, it appears as though our efforts are paying off. A few weeks into the new school year, Miss A came home very excited that they had another new student in their 1st grade class. eggs and butter

Now anytime a new student arrives there is much excitement, but this particular student had a very unique story. He didn’t just relocate from another area school or even another state. He came all the way from another country! Miss A was beside herself with excitement, “He had to move here on a plane! And he came from really, really far away and he doesn’t know English!” creaming butter

Miss A couldn’t remember where he came from, but she had an idea, “Maybe we could make a recipe from where he lives for the blog!” I was thrilled. Not only did we have our next country from which to cook, but we had a personal reason to learn about another country. Then her eyes got big and you could see the little wheels just spinning top speed and she said, “Maybe we could even make something for my whole class!” Genius. creaming butter two

With approval from her teacher we set about to find a recipe that would feed 24 while still leaving a few on-hand for us. The first task was to learn the new student’s home country. Miss A set about her duty and discovered he flew all the way to our little neck of the woods from Yemen. We then did a little research on the country and consulted the globe. Miss A and Mr. N were very impressed to learn that Yemen is more than 7,500 miles from our home. Talk about a major move! stand mixing

Miss A gathered a few facts to share with her class and wrote them in her journal. We then found the website, Queen of Sheba Yemeni Recipes. I emailed the author and she graciously pointed me to a recipe that would be both easy to make and easy to serve individually wrapped – the Yemeni Ka’ak. Ka’ak is an Arabic word for cake and the Yemeni version of ka’ak is like a cross between a biscuit and a cookie. Some versions feature different flours or the addition of dates, but we went for the basic recipe. yeast bread

Ka’ak is leavened by yeast – one of my worst fears, but fortunately Miss A is much more skilled with yeast than I. We opted to make the recipe using the stand mixer, best not to take chances, I figured. It’s a very basic dough recipe. Easy to follow and relatively quick to make. We made two batches to accommodate the quantity we needed for school. ka'ak dough

All four of us spent the afternoon in the kitchen making these, each having our own role to play in the process. It reminded me of another reason we started this blog, to spend time together in the kitchen learning about new foods, and about each other. We haven’t cooked like this in quite a while, so I’m grateful the day shaped up as it did. The kids are growing too fast! shaping ka'ak

As for the recipe, well, the dough didn’t rise like I expected, but it was not dense either. We were also not quite as skilled at shaping the ka’ak as the Queen, but should you want to try, her video tutorial is an excellent resource: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmxNw-WpnfI. Overall, I was pleased with how these baked up. rolling dough

They weren’t as pretty as I’d hoped, but I imagine with a little practice that’s a solvable problem. As for cooking with yeast, well, it seemed to do just fine for us this go-round. I completely credit Miss A of course. While I was nervous about the dough’s lack of rising, the ka’ak fluffed up quite nicely in the baking process and had a light, fluffy texture with fabulous looking crumb.egg wash and seeds

Best of all, the ka’ak tasted wonderful! My research suggested that the ka’ak are served on special occasions or with afternoon tea, so I decided to enjoy mine with a cup of lemon grass green tea. It was a lovely complement to the tea and truly special straight from the oven. The ka’ak are light to eat but very filling, and a combination of subtle sweet and savory flavors. sesame seeds

Mike and the kids loved their ka’ak as well; although they skipped the tea. But, do you know what this means? 4 spoons all around! Success! And with a yeast leavened recipe nonetheless. We haven’t had an all-around winner in a while, so this was quite exciting. No one wanted to stop with just one, but we restrained ourselves and packaged them up for Miss A’s classroom. ka'ak

We wrapped 23 ka’ak for the students and teacher, and we packaged five for Miss A’s new Yemeni friend. She thought we should send one for his whole family. I can’t tell you how proud she made me with her thoughtfulness and generosity. While I hate to see them grow so quickly, I do love to see how they are developing into caring, thoughtful people. Again, it’s that bittersweet feeling that comes with being a parent. Yemeni ka'ak

That evening, we printed off 24 copies of the recipe and attached them to each bag. Miss A loaded them into a bag and got her journal ready for sharing with the class. Had you been in her class that day, she would have told you that Yemen is next to Saudi Arabia and two seas. It has mountains and its flag is red, white and black. It is in the Middle East which is part of Asia. Asia is a continent. She was very proud of all that she learned. Arabic cake

The students weren’t allowed to try the treats until they got home and their parents could make that decision. The next day half the class said they tried them and everyone seemed to like them. At least according to Miss A. As for the new Yemeni student, well, Miss A delivered his with a special note attached (which she did on her own). yemen recipe

“I made ka’ak for you and your family. I am giving these to you since you had to leave your home behind and your friends. It would be scary to do that. We made these since the recipe is from Yemen. From your friend, Miss A.” yeast biscuits

I asked Miss A if her Yemeni friend liked the ka’ak. She said, “He doesn’t talk English yet, but he knew what they were. He didn’t say much, but he smiled the whole time.”

To print the recipe click here: Yemeni Ka’ak

Needless to say, I’m a proud Mama. Believe me, my kids aren’t angels and we have our fair share of emotions and challenges around here (daily when it comes to Miss A’s clothing), but that’s what makes these moments all the more precious. Parenthood is bittersweet. It’s exhausting, it’s challenging, it’s tedious, it’s joyous, it’s amazing and it’s enriching. It makes my heart sing and my heart ache. But I wouldn’t trade a single second of it for anything in the world. And while I expected parenthood, much like this blog, to be about teaching my children, I am continually amazed at how both teach me. afternoon tea

A Busy Kitchen

While we don’t post nearly as often as we used to, our kitchens by no means have slowed down. We’ve been making new and old recipes pretty regularly now. Sometimes the kids are on-hand to help, but most of the time they have other things keeping them busy. homework

While I’m usually at the sink, stove or counter, the kids are doing their homework, coloring, or just talking with me about their day. When Mike is home, he’ll be in the kitchen with me, helping me chop vegetables or putting dishes away. We have one cat, Chipper, that likes to sit at the stool on the other side of the counter or at the kitchen window so that he can supervise everyone, especially his little brother Hobbs. He much prefers to observe him from above. chipper

As for Hobbs, he’s either running through the kitchen chasing toys, nipping at my toes and whining to be picked up, or curled up in a little ball on the rug in the center of my work area. I’m fairly certain he’s going to cause me to have accident one of these days. However, more often than not, he’s climbing things he’s not supposed to and having to repeatedly be set back on the floor. He is awful cute though. Hobbs

We haven’t made too many international dishes lately; although we do have plans for a new recipe next weekend. I have, however, been teaching Mr. N some kitchen basics. He’s old enough now to learn how to operate the stove, oven and microwave. I’ve even had him make a few meals for he and Miss A all by himself. I just walk him through step-by-step. So far we’ve tackled pasta, shrimp, roasted chickpeas and homemade pizza. We, of course, have had to start with his favorite foods! LEGOS

It’s been fun to teach him and spend this time with him. It gives us a few minutes in his busy day that are just ours. I think he enjoys it too. At first he wasn’t too thrilled to have to learn these things, but once I explained to him that someday he might want to cook a special meal for a special girl, he was much more on board. He’s growing up so much! Fortunately for me, those days are still a ways off (whew!), and the only girl he’s cooking for right now is his little sister. And I have to say, she was very impressed that Mr. N made her dinner. She adores him and loves anything he does for her, unless of course he’s made her mad that day, in which case he’s best just steering clear of her six-year old wrath. sibling rivalry

So, the kitchen, it’s still the center of our ever-changing universe. And until Miss A and I get that next international recipe rolling, I thought I’d share with you a dish that Mike and I ate last week. It’s definitely a warm, comforting fall dish loaded with fresh and inviting flavors. It’s an Acorn Squash stuffed with Lemon & Ginger Risotto. Stuffed Acorn Squash

You can find the recipe here: Lemon Ginger Risotto with Acorn Squash

I roasted the acorn squash while I prepared the risotto. Once both dishes were done, I scooped the risotto into the squash for serving. squash and risotto

The sharp, fresh taste of the lemon and ginger were a great complement for the nutty flavor of the squash. Mike and I both gave the dish 3 spoons. lemon ginger risotto with acorn squash

We topped the risotto with toasted walnuts. We didn’t use any Parmesan or cream as we were trying to keep it healthy, but either would be a nice addition as well. Fortunately we made enough risotto to stuff two more squash later in the week. Lemon & Ginger Risotto

The leftover risotto heated well, but this time we tweaked the recipe a bit and added some sauteed spinach to the risotto as well as some mild Italian sausage. We enjoyed this version as much as the first. The spinach added a little lemony bitterness to the dish that to me just completed it perfectly. acorn squash

The kids, as many of you know, eat many things, and often many exotic or unusual things. Squash, however, is not one of them. Try as I might, they do not like the sweetness or the texture of the vegetable. In all fairness, I didn’t either until I was in my 20’s, so there’s still hope. Until then, there’s more for Mike and I to enjoy. Acorn Squash Stuffed with Lemon & Ginger Risotto

We’ll be back in a bit with Miss A’s international dish. It’s a yeast-based recipe, so goodness knows how we’ll fare. Fortunately, Miss A is better at cooking with yeast than I am, so our odds are better with her in the kitchen. Until then, enjoy your changing seasons and have a great Halloween! More soon. Cheers!