Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Waiting on a Baby

I can honestly say that waiting for your baby to arrive has to be one of the most thrilling, nerve wracking, bizarre and surreal experiences in life. We are due on Labor Day, less than a week away, but he's already psyched us out a couple of times.

Just last night while I was making dinner, I thought my water broke. Turns out I just peed my pants.

Anyway, anytime I do anything in these last few days - go to the grocery store, make dinner, watch TV, check email, water the yard, go to sleep, wake up, pee my pants - I wonder to myself 'is this the last time I'll ever do this without another human being to take care of?'

Intense doesn't even begin to describe it.

So being the control freak that I am I console myself by doing chores. I've washed all his little clothes, sheets and blankets. Oh my God they're so freaking cute. I can't even handle it.

I make sure my bags are packed with all my essentials (read: flip flops for the hospital shower because the thought alone gives me panic attacks - did I mention I'm also a germ freak?), add to my baby playlist for the delivery room, write to him in his 'first year' diary telling him the dumbest things that come into my head.

But most of all I try to not freak out. If there is an upside to being in the 'advanced maternal' set (aside from being able to afford diapers and formula if my boobs don't work) it's knowing that I've been as selfish as a person can be for 36 years. I've done what I wanted when I wanted. I've lived in some amazing cities and soaked up everything they had to offer, spent countless weekends and late nights working away at my ad job without it negatively affecting anyone but me, even spent countless hours on the couch watching bad TV. And I've loved every second of it.

When I got pregnant I knew I signed up for a barrage of unsolicited advice from strangers, family and friends (though actually this never really bothered me. After all I've never done this before.) What I didn't realize was how many times I'd be asked the question, 'Are you ready?'

Just last night I was asked it for the thousandth time by a neighbor. And all I could do was answer honestly.


I'm a realist. In my opinion nobody could ever really be ready to take on the responsibility of raising another human being. It's terrifying.

But I'm okay with that. It's what I signed up for. And something tells me that by me not thinking I've got it all figured out, I might raise a better human being in the process.

Or not. Frankly I'm just aiming to not raise a serial killer. And ideally someone who opens doors for ladies, says please and thank you and smiles more often than not.

We'll start there and see where we end up.


Woman Wondering if This is Her Last Blog Post Before the Baby Comes

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Key Lime Pie for Cheaters. No Apology Necessary.

For Father's Day this year I had my dad and stepmom over for a nice lunch. I made chicken fried chicken, chipotle and white cheddar garlic mashed potatoes, spinach salad and key lime pie.

My dad has a huge sweet tooth so initially I had higher ambitions than key lime pie using bottled key lime juice. But being pretty pregnant at that point something had to give and as I looked at the cheesecake recipe I'd pulled out the night before I realized it was a little ambitious in addition to making everything else including the salad dressing from scratch.

I found a bottle of Nellie and Joe's Key West Lime Juice in my pantry along with a chocolate graham cracker pie crust and off we went. And here's the thing. It didn't matter. I'd put this pie up against a made from scratch one any day. I jazzed things up a little with a sweetened sour cream topping and fresh lime zest. The sour cream topping was a component of my mom's cheesecake growing up and it added a nice counterpart to the sweet key lime filling (something a little different than whipped cream.)

If I had one thing to do over I'd have made the chocolate graham cracker crust from scratch. It wouldn't have added much time to the recipe and probably would've taken it up a whole other level but in a pinch you can't beat a tasty pie that you can whip together in five minutes flat.

Nellie and Joe's Key Lime Pie
*Slightly Adapted by Alisa Wixom

1 (9 inch) prepared chocolate graham cracker pie shell (regular is fine too)
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup Nellie and Joe's Key West Lime Juice (from a bottle found in grocery store)
1 (16 oz) carton sour cream
heaping 1/4 cup powdered sugar
zest of 1 lime

How To:
Preheat oven to 350. Combine the condensed milk, egg yolks and lime juice together in a medium bowl. Blend until smooth. Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell and bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes on a pie rack. While the pie cools, combine the sour cream and powdered sugar together until well mixed. Spread the mixture evenly over the whole pie (you probably won't need or want all of it but up to you.) Garnish the top with lime zest and a thin slice of lime if desired.

Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled. Will last for 3 days in the fridge.

Chambord Margaritas and a Baby Shower

My sweet friend Lauren brought these to my baby shower that she and my friends Claire and Kelly threw for me a couple of Sundays ago. What a day! It was absolutely perfect. They picked a whale theme because the baby's wallpaper features whales (pic at the bottom of this post) but kept things minimal and clean with yellow flowers all around and cute jelly bean-filled vases and cupcakes with the whales on them from the invitations that Kelly designed.

My favorite part though (aside from the margs) was Claire reading the 'guess the baby's birth date and weight cards' that also had a little piece of advice for me from all the lovely ladies - all of whom are moms aside from my niece, Brooke.

This absolutely melted my heart into a giant puddle on the floor. I kid you not - I'm going to keep them on hand for those nights when I feel overwhelmed and confused to keep me going. Such a good idea!

Anyway I realize some of you may be like 'baby schmaybe - I thought this was a food blog' so I'll get to the recipe asap. Lauren made these in individual mason jars and brought them over partially frozen with the lids on so that as people came and went they'd still be nice and cool waiting for them on the counter.

The presentation could NOT have been cuter. I felt like I was living in a Pinterest board. But the flavor - holy guacamole. Not too sweet but not too tart, limey with a little fruity Chambord kick. I got to sip on one with my hubby who stuck around to take pictures for us.

The great thing is you can make them ahead and keep them in the freezer. I imagine they would even stay good for a few days this way. So if you're already thinking about Halloween parties - look no further for your party drink. Toss some frozen lychees stuffed with raspberries in as ice cubes and you're in business!

Chambord Margaritas 
Courtesy of Lauren Bayne, cofounder of awesome mom site Meet the MILK
Big Batch - makes enough to fill 24 (8 oz) Mason Jars

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Flank Steak Stir Fry, My New BFF

I'm crazily gathering recipes that are fast and easy and can be thrown together even when you have the coordination and where with all of a zombie which I understand is about to be the new norm for me with a newborn.

This one is modified from The Pioneer Woman and really aside from from a few tweaks the main difference is that I dump everything into a giant ziploc first (a step that can even be done several hours ahead) and then from the bag straight into a heated wok. Then while it's cooking all you have to do is cook the rice and dinner is DONE.

I realize I'm probably butchering wok cooking here by dumping everything in at once but I promise you it's still delicious and as long as you let everything rest a couple of minutes with the heat off after cooking the steak will be tender and delicious.

The secret is to reserve some of the chopped green onions and cilantro for garnish (though I doubt I'll remember to do this once sleep deprivation kicks in.)

Flank Steak Stir Fry

1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce (I've used regular and it was fine just don't add additional salt)
2 tablespoons white wine
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger, optional
2 whole peeled garlic cloves
good pinch red pepper flakes
1 to 1 1/2 pounds flank steak, trimmed of excess fat and sliced against the grain into thin slices (I like to then take the slices and cut them into 2 inch pieces but it's up to you)
5 green onions cut into 1/2 inch pieces plus 2 green onions, chopped and reserved for garnish
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, divided
Optional (or use all!) veg: 8 oz snow peas, 1 red bell pepper cut into slivers, 2 carrots sliced into thin rounds, 16 oz frozen broccoli, 1/2 small sweet onion cut into thin strips
2-3 tablespoons canola oil or peanut or olive oil
Rice, cooked according to package, to serve alongside (my recipe is 1 cup rice to 1 3/4 cups low sodium chicken stock, brought to a boil then reduced to low with lid on for 12 min but follow whatever yours says for the amount you want)
Wok or a large dutch oven or cast iron pan for frying

How To:
Add the soy sauce through the sesame oil to a large ziploc. Gently smush around while holding the top (you can seal and shake it if it helps) to mix everything together and help dissolve the cornstarch and brown sugar. You can also mix this up in a small bowl first but this saves a step and washing it up by doing it right in the bag. Win-win.

Add the ginger (if using) and the garlic, red pepper flakes, steak, 1/2 inch pieces of green onions, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and the veggies of your choice. Smush everything around, seal and refrigerate if not making right away or simply seal and set aside while you prepare your wok.

Add the oil to the wok and turn it around carefully so that the sides get coated. Put over medium high heat and let get nice and hot for a couple of minutes. Carefully add the stir fry - the contents of the entire bag - to the wok using a wooden spoon to spread everything out as much as possible so it cooks evenly.

(FYI now is also the time to start your rice in another pot.)

Lower the heat slightly and cook, stirring every so often to keep everything from sticking as well as cooking evenly, for 4-5 minutes until the steak is cooked through and veggies have softened. This might take a little longer if you've opted for all the veggies as well as the full 1 1/2 pounds of steak as opposed to a pound.

Turn the heat off and let the stir fry rest for a couple of minutes. Serve over rice with chopped green onion and cilantro.