Friday, November 13, 2015

Potato Leek Soup

When Scott and I were first married five years ago, watching Top Chef was a highlight of our week. He enjoyed the competition factor, and I desperately needed the cooking tips!  Since then, we've taken the Top Chef University online cooking course together, which is where I learned that Panera isn't the only way I'm going to get a good soup! 

Potato Leek Soup
(Adapted from Top Chef University)

4-7 slices bacon
2 TBSP butter
2 shallots, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 leeks, sliced
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leafs
1 pint vegetable stock
1 pint heavy cream
2 green onions for garnish
salt and pepper

I've found that with soups especially, it's good to have your ingredients prepped before beginning since things go pretty quickly and require your attention once you start.  I begin by putting the bacon in the microwave for a few minutes while I peel and chop two large russet potatoes.  The potatoes should be bite size!

Then finely slice two leeks and two shallots.  If you haven't cooked with leeks before, this is a great time to start!  I like to think of them as larger, milder green onions.

Be sure you save the bacon grease and add it to your soup pot.
TIP:  Use scissors to cut up the bacon!  But do save a few strips of bacon whole to use as garnish on top of the finished soup if you'd like.

Heat bacon grease in large soup pot.  Add sliced leeks and bacon.  Cook for about 3 minutes, then add sliced shallots and butter.  I season generously with salt and pepper at this step.

Now it’s time to add the herbs. Add thyme by stripping leaves off the sprigs, bay leaves, and garlic. Stir for a minute, then add cream and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Seasoning between steps is what "builds" and "layers" the flavors.

It's time to add a half cup of veggie broth. (I have used chicken broth too since that's what I had on hand, and it tastes great as well!) While the potatoes cook through, the cream will cook down. Continue adding stock until you're at a consistency that looks good to you. I like my cream/broth on the more watery side.

Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Also, go ahead and remove the bay leaves so they don't make it into someone's bowl! Top with a strip of bacon and a few slices of green onion.  Enjoy!

7 Things For My Hospital Nightstand

1.  First and foremost:  Some cheery flowers.  These tulips made me feel so happy and brought color and life into my space!  Thanks Joanna!

2.  A water bottle with a pop top lid / A water bottle you love!  

3.  A burp cloth.  Or Five.  Babies this new don't really need much, but I liked having several burp cloths around for her. And for me.

4.  Chapstick.  Burts Bees.  Life Saver. It's pretty much only useful at the hospital though, because once arriving home, your toddler will surely kife it away and insist on twisting it up and down 100x before losing it... 

5.  Deodorant.  There are lots of scents going on, so keeping deodorant handy is a good idea.

6.  Lotion. Not a necessity, but nice.

7.  Lanolin nipple cream.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Top 5 Tips For International Flights with an Infant

*Wrote this post about 2 years ago, and just found it in my drafts!  Here it is!
1.  First rule:  Don't bring too much stuff on board with you.  Your space is small and you won't have room to juggle too many things.  I do like to pack 1-2 extra outfits (depending on your child...) lots of different snacks (The Walmart stacker is my fav!) to give variety, enough milk (you CAN bring liquids on board as long as they are for your child... I bring at least 2 bottles of milk!) a bottle of baby Tylenol for heaven's sake, and a comfort object, in our case, "Lambie."

2. To prepare for security, wear slip on shoes (and pack a pair of socks in your bag for warmth) so they'll be easy to slip on and off for TSA.  I usually travel with a sweater, but keep it stowed in my diaper bag until after security so I'm not fussing with it.  Pack all your liquids in one area so you are just grabbing the one bag out instead of fishing around for each squeezee or tylenol bottle.

3.  Read up on infant policies.  When we flew to Costa Rica, one of the main reasons we chose JetBlue was because they will always give you an extra seat for your infant if they have it available.  This is a game changer for us.  We have brought T's car seat on every JetBlue flight this year (totaling 9 this year) and being able to bring her carseat on board enables her to sleep!!  If your child falls asleep in your arms, then maybe this isn't as crucial for you, but our high strung baby needs her own dark space with no distractions!

4.  Don't forget to get your child's passport long before your trip.  They sometimes take several weeks to be processed and the rush fee is pretty pricey!  We photographed Tatum at home, outside on the deck in natural light, then took the image to photoshop where I erased the entire background.  Since then, I've learned to lay a white sheet over their car seat, then prop them up in it.  Once it arrives, sign their passport with their name, then sign your initials.

5.  Once on board, realize that you have lots of distractions right with you.  The window is a thrill (for my 1 yr old) and a plastic cup from the flight attendant will please even a 6 month old. Following ice chips on the tray table is exciting.  Our family has an unlimited ipad policy on flights-- apps, movies, whatever keeps the child (and me!) happy!  Remember that babies are babies.  You should feel great as long as you're doing all you can.  If your baby is still screaming or bothering other passengers, just shrug it off because if they're rude enough to show their annoyance, then they obviously have no idea what it feels like to be you.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Halloween 2015

Tatum went trick or treating with her almost 5 year old, and almost 3 year old friends.  She followed "Ariel's" lead going to every door and saying trick or treat and thank you to each person.  I would say only about 40% of people know Annie, but the people who do know that show LOVED her costume and often flattered her asking for her picture.  

It has been so sweet watching her with her Halloween candy.  She finally has something to offer us, so it's really sweet to see her excited to share something we actually want at tell us "YOU'RE WELCOME" with so much pride!

The week of Halloween, Tatum told the grocery store checker woman "nice lips" complimenting her red lipstick.  She replied, "Well thank you, thats nice of you to say!"  And then Tatum says, "That's because I have a big heart."

Two days later we are checking out again, and the woman asks Tate what she is going to be for Halloween.  Having pulled out her ponytail and looking a little rough, she says, "I'm just going to be a little orphan..."  I had to intervene and tell her that Tatum is dressing as Annie!!!

Chloe is getting her own look and becoming more of her own person everyday.  She crawls down the hall to the back bathroom, or through the kitchen to the garage door in about 12 seconds if I look away.  She is loving food these days and keeps surprising me with how much she eats.

My car got broken into at Target today.  Nothing was stolen (miracle!!) but my drivers door was left open, and everything from the center console and glove box was strewn about the car, including a GPS and an old iphone we keep shows on for Tatum.  I wonder if someone was coming and scared the intruder away, or if they really just didn't find anything they wanted... I was parked just 4 stalls in from the Target entrance in a big, good shopping center. So random and scary!  Feeling really thankful nothing was taken!

Scott is working for VMware, its a business to business cloud and virtualization software company in Palo Alto. From my understanding, he is redesigning their global on boarding training program, which is in line with his education and interests.  We are so grateful for this job and excited for Scott to be getting into his career!

The weather stays right around 75 degrees during the day, cooling off at night and in the mornings.  We've been working in the front and backyard like dogs, digging up the clay-like ground and giving it a little design and livability.  It's been a lot of work, and we regret not renting a rototiller, but we are glad with how it is turning out and look forward to the grass getting full and healthy so we can take down the stakes and start walking and playing on it!  I'll have to do another post just on the yard drama.

We are looking forward to spending the holidays with family, we will see how that works out with the work schedule and flights and such.  All is well in the Hathaway house.