MUST try this. The baby belly is not quite gone and needs to move on. Intervals of 30 seconds each, with 10 seconds rest in between. Go!!
The first trial of motherhood I have encountered is suckling my child. Pregnancy and delivery were cake compared to breastfeeding. One of the challenges is maintaining an appropriate supply — apparently all kinds of subtle cues can throw it out of whack. And while undersupply is an obvious potential problem, I also learned that oversupply can be a frustration all its own.
Somewhere in my history of surfing the interwebs, I had come across lactation cookies. At the time, I thought, “Ummmm, weird.” How foolish and naive of me. Undersupply can be such a source of anxiety for moms, so what better way to address it than a baked concoction that both soothes and treats it?!
Below is a recipe I found at The Progressive Parent and adapted to my own preferences. I cannot attest to whether the cookies do statistically increase milk supply. I can attest only to their nutritionally dense yumminess.
— with oatmeal and whatever goodies you like — my favorite is craisins and white chocolate/dark chocolate chips! For one 9″ x 13″ pan of bar cookies* (because I don’t have time to drop them into individual cookies — if you prefer normal round cookies, see variation below**):
- 2 oz (4 tbsp) water
- 2 tbsp milled flaxseed
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (3 minutes on 20% power works for me, and then I use the wax wrappers to grease the pan)
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1.75 cups flour**
- 4 tbsp brewer’s yeast
- 1 tsp baking soda (or 4 tsp baking powder)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 cups thick rolled oats
- 1.5-2 cups mixed chocolate chips/white chips/craisins, in whatever proportions you like — I do 1 cup craisins, 1/3 cup chocolate chips, and 2/3 cup white chips
- Preheat oven to 350 deg F. In a small bowl, stir together the water and flaxseed. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and beat in the sugar. Then beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flaxseed mixture from step 1 and stir.
- Stir together the flour,** yeast, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir this dry ingredient mixture into the large bowl to form the cookie dough.
- Combine the cookie dough with the oats and craisin/chip mix. This step requires biceps or a stand mixer — the dough will be thick.
- Spread in a greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, but not more than 2 days.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are brown and inserted knife comes out clean. Don’t bake for too long or the cookies will crumble.*
- Wait for the cookie pan to cool, cut it into bars, grab a glass of milk, and enjoy!
*If you double the recipe to make two pans, they will take about 25 minutes to bake. I might or might not know this empirically.
**If you prefer the usual individual round cookies rather than bars, add an extra 0.25 cup of flour (total 2 cups flour). Chill the dough for 2 hours (up to 2 days) as above. You can then drop teaspoonfuls — or, for the perfectionists who aim for pi-worthy circles, roll into balls — and bake 10-12 minutes. This is still too much work to me, so I prefer to spread the dough on a greased sheet of wax paper (cooking spray is quick and sufficient for greasing), roll it into a log about 2″ diameter, wrap with plastic wrap, and freeze for at least 2 hours. Let thaw about 20 minutes at room temp and slice 1/2″ thick. Since they are frozen, they bake for 11-13 minutes.
We went up to Connecticut for the holiday and had a snowy white Christmas. Henry had a good time playing in the cold and getting snacks from Grandma.
An experiment for lab party tomorrow! I tried one of the baby pies and am a fan =)
- 1 lb (about 2) sweet potatoes, peeled, cubed and cooked
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
- 1 package (4-serving size) vanilla pudding mix
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp lemon peel
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 unbaked pie crust to fit your pie pan
Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Prepare pie crust in (9″ to 12″) pie pan. Beat sweet potato until fluffy. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into pie crust. Bake 40 minutes or until golden and center is set.
I have since revised the recipe, so try the new one instead!
Cold weather inspires me to experiment with the slow cooker. What’s more cozy on a cold day than being home with Chris, Henry and a warm meal of comfort food?
The first one I tried this season is from The Crockstar. I am trying to gather recipes that are easy to prepare ahead and/or on a week night, especially since I foresee family meals will become a major responsibility — I can’t eat cereal for dinner like a college student anymore. (Well, I can, but Chris can’t — he needs protein. A lot of it.) The Crockstar’s recipe for Creamy Chicken and Noodles fit my search criteria. I tried it with a few modifications to fit our tastes, and it was a success! By which I mean: Chris approved. We’ve made it twice now.
Side note: I did some research trying to find a more descriptive name for this combination of ingredients and found several similar recipes for “Chicken Stroganoff,” but I disagree with that designation. The principal ingredients for a Stroganoff seem to be a sauteed meat — usually beef, but it can also be chicken — and a sour cream sauce, usually made with sauteed mushrooms and onions. This recipe has no sour cream, mushrooms, or onions.
Crockpot Creamy Chicken and Noodles
- 2-3 lbs boneless skinless chicken (dark or white meat), cut in 1″ cubes or smaller
- 11 oz condensed cream of chicken soup
- 11 oz condensed cream of mushroom soup
- 1 packet (about 1 oz) dry vegetable dip mix (I like Lipton Recipe Secrets Kosher Soup & Dip Mix because it doesn’t contain MSG; you could also try dry ranch, Italian dressing, or onion dip mix)
- 1 tsp onion powder (optional but tasty)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder (optional but tasty)
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus 1 cup water (or substitute 4 cups water if you prefer less salt and more vegetable flavor)
- 2 oz (1/4 package) cream cheese or neufchatel cheese (which tastes like lower-fat cream cheese), cut in small slices/pieces (you could also substitute sour cream)
- 1 bunch celery, sliced 1/4″ thick
- 12 oz (1 package) wide egg noodles
- In the crockpot, combine the two soups with the 2 cups of broth. Add half the dry dip mix and stir all together until smooth.
- Lay the chicken pieces in the pot and season it with the remaining dip mix, onion powder, and garlic powder.
- Set the slow cooker to Low for 8 hours or High for 4 hours.
** The remaining steps can be done an hour or two before the cook time is completed, or they can be done after 8 hours on Low. Leaving the slow cooker for 4 hours on High might burn or dehydrate the sauce around the edges of the pot. **
- Add the cup of water, cream cheese, and celery. Stir well to mix. (If this step is done after the cooker has finished 8 hours on Low and it has switched to Warm, set the temperature to High.)
- Cook the egg noodles al dente, about 7 minutes. Add the noodles to the crockpot and stir well to mix. If the sauce is too thick, add more water in 1/2-cup increments.
- Simmer until the chicken is cooked and the celery is tender.
This year was our first married Thanksgiving. For weeks, Chris had been excited to roast his first turkey, and I was equally excited for stuffing! We made a game plan, did our grocery shopping, and went to bed (relatively) early the night before so we could get started at 7am. Thursday morning came. Game on.
Well, the first hiccup came early — I had trouble sleeping, so we slept in an extra hour. We adjusted and got right back on schedule, though. (Yes, we made a schedule.) As it turns out, we learned a number of things:
- Chopping the vegetables the night before means we don’t have to get started until 8am. Whoo hoo!
- Our 24-pound turkey took about 5.5 hours to cook. By about 3 hours, enough fat had drained off to baste it.
- We do not have a platter big enough to hold a 24-pound turkey. Fortunately, a smaller platter on a baking sheet will suffice.
- Potholders can also be trivets.
- The day is not nearly as busy as I thought. We had breaks to to watch Star Trek, set the table, and so forth. It was easier than cooking for the party we just had! (Then again, we had over 30 people there.)
I also took notes on miscellaneous adjustments to our schedule and recipes. Here is the result of our Thanksgiving Matrix (which obviously is not formally a matrix, but sounds niftier than Thanksgiving Chart):
And here is the resulting feast:
Having slept well with the aid of turkey somnolence, we dismantled the bird this morning. Henry also helped, sort of.
We had a potluck party at our house a few weeks ago. We hadn’t invited people over for a long time, and it was great to see so many friends!
After everyone left, we took a break to watch QI. I said we should start cleaning up, and Chris said we should finish the episode. Five minutes later, I hear snoring:
I let him sleep.
The next night I took these pictures of my two handsome boys, hanging out on the couch.
This might be the easiest baking I’ve ever done. I came across this recipe a week ago and have been craving it since. Tonight I finally gave in and made it. Henry grew increasingly restless as aromas of cinnamon and cake filled the house. With Chris’s approval, I gave the poor puppy a few (big, crumbly) morsels. The crust is my favorite part.
Bonus: I cut the sugar in half with Splenda. Chris hasn’t noticed, and I’m not sure I can tell.
Here’s the recipe, with my slightly altered directions.
Cinnamon Sugar Coffee Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 cup milk
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and 1 cup sugar. Add egg, milk, and oil to flour mixture. Stir until smooth (small lumps are okay).
- Stir together the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and cinnamon.
- Lightly grease a 9″ loaf pan with cooking spray. Pour half of the batter into pan.
- Sprinkle with about half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
- Cover with remaining batter.
- Top with the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture. With a fork, swirl the topping into the batter until it is marbleized.
- Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean.
Fifteen minutes away from the beach, we found ourselves a picnic spot under the redwood canopy. We found a barbecue place that turned out to be a favorite among the locals, the Aptos Street BBQ. We had gone to get some ribs the night before, and tonight we came back for more. The ice cream root beer float was the perfect ending.
The morning of their wedding, Ingrid and Sol were relaxed. We asked if we could help with anything, but they had no chores to assign to us. They suggested we go exploring, so we did!
The morning was foggy. We headed north along the bay and saw a cement ship, the Palo Alto.
Then we came across the Seacliff State Beach Visitor Center and poked around a bit there. Among other things, they had a nice tide pool exhibit!
I took a video of a mollusk doing its filter feeding thing:
Then we headed back to our room to get ready for the wedding.
Having accumulated several groupons, we decided this week was a good time to knock off a few. On Tuesday, we went to Makiman Sushi. We frequently order delivery from various sushi places nearby, and I’m pretty sure we’ve ordered from here as well. We ordered the sushi boat for 2, which included miso soup and salad appetizers. The soup was good, but the salad dressing was a bit too concentrated for my taste — too tangy and ginger-y. That’s okay, though, because the sushi was very good.
On the boat: 6 california maki, 2 shrimp nigiri, and 2 nigiri each of 9 different types of fish. I am sure we had salmon, yellowtail, tuna, mackerel, and surf clam. The rest I could not name, but all were tasty. We had a nice table outside, the weather was pleasant, and the service was good. All told, we had a nice dinner and happy full bellies.
We spent another groupon today at Catahoula, a bar in the Queen Village neighborhood. Catahoula is the name of a Louisiana parish, and the bar serves Cajun-Creole food. I visited New Orleans once, when I was 14 years old, and I remember very little of the local cuisine except for crawfish…and I’d love to go back for more of that. For today, though, I ordered the shrimp n’ grits. Chris got a burger, a simple one rather than their signature version, since he prefers his burgers with less fancy fixin’s.
The shrimp n’ grits were awesome. I make that assessment without prior knowledge of what shrimp n’ grits should taste like. The shrimp were tasty and not overcooked (I hate that), and the flavorful grits had a bit of truffle oil. I could have eaten way more of the collard greens and bacon. As it was, I thoroughly cleaned my plate.
I’m guessing shrimp n’ grits might be Catahoula’s signature dish — it’s on their homepage:
Several people have asked me where we got our wedding pomanders. My fabulous friends and Continue reading
We had some perfect weather last Sunday, so we had Leslie and her fiance Peter over to have brunch and see the sights. Anh and I never walked around the “independence area” before, so it was a treat for us, too.
The Morris Arboretum miniature train display opened last weekend, and we went to see it and play with the new camera. This year’s display theme is “Storytime Rail,” with fairy tale-themed structures: Sleeping Beauty Castle, a Hobbit house, Baba Yaga‘s house, the Old Woman’s Shoe house, and more!
Here comes the Lehigh Valley train:
We took some great photos. Here they are, with no color correction or retouching:
The photos from our photographer, Isabel March, are still to come, but meanwhile I had to devote a blog post to our beautiful wedding flowers. Our florist was Amy Young at Leaves of Grass; she’s up and coming in the business and gave us a fantastic deal. I was thoroughly pleased — nay, overjoyed! — with her beautiful arrangements, which suited our wedding perfectly.
According to Amy, our flowers included “purple hydrangea, two shades of purple hyacinth, two shades of purple tulips and some lilac and purple lisianthus.” I know next to nothing about flowers, but I thought there might also have been some peonies, deep purple to fuschia in color (check out the boutonnieres), as wel as a dark purple petunia. I’m in the process of drying my bouquet in the attic, so maybe I’ll be able to determine the mystery flowers’ identities later!
The hyacinth were so fragrant! I kept the bridesmaid hyacinth bouquet in our living room for the next week, and they were still beautiful when I finally tossed them. Incidentally, our flowers also inspired me to plant some hydrangea on our balcony.