Saturday, January 30, 2010

Just curious, but how has it taken me until I was thirty years-old to really appreciate the mild, creamy splendor that is goat cheese?! I started to like it about a decade ago when J made a fantastic tart that had a layer of goat cheese on the bottom and was topped with roasted vegetables. Alas, he only made it once or twice, and I was positive I'd never like goat cheese as a stand-alone.

When we lived in Hillsboro, Bugatti's had a fantastic pizza called The Goatherder (which I see they've replaced with a Thai Chicken pizza...sad), but again, I thought I would only ever like goat cheese in combination with other flavors.

Recently, I'd had it in a few more appetizers where the flavor of the cheese itself was the standout, and I had an a-ha moment. Now, I've gone a little goat cheese crazy. I'm not saying I eat it every day, but I am saying that I've been eating it as opposed to other cheeses I may have had in its place; Mixed greens with strawberries and crumbles of goat cheese drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette for lunch one day, a Rustic Goat Cheese and Roasted Vegetable tart with side salad for dinner another night, then last night, when craving a snack, I pulled out my log o' cheese, and portioned off 1 ounce (only 80 calories!) and a few Stacy's bare naked pita chips. The goat cheese paired with my Malbec very nicely if I do say so myself (and probably did a whole lot less damage than a bowl of ice cream).

So, if you're looking for a melt in your mouth cheese with a little tang that compliments a plethora of flavors, look no further than your grocer's cheese case and snatch up a log of your own; you won't be sorry.

The following recipe can be adapted to whatever vegetables you have on-hand that you think would taste good after roasting. Also, where I used low-fat ricotta, the recipe used cream cheese but, again, it was what I had on-hand.

If you use the pre-made crust, it took less than 15 minutes of hands-on time, so you could make this even when you're trying to multi-task at dinner time.

Rustic Roasted Vegetable and Goat Cheese Tart:

1 zucchini
1 summer squash
1/4-1/2 red onion
1 red bell pepper
2 T EVOO
1-2 tsp italian seasonings, or whatever herbs you desire for roasting
1 ready-made pie crust (the kind that come rolled-up) or make your own favorite crust.
4 oz. goat cheese
1/3. low-fat ricotta cheese
1 egg.
2T shredded parmesan cheese
Salt* and Pepper to taste (while roasting)

Slice thinly the zucchini and summer squash, red onion and red pepper, toss with olive oil and whatever herbs you want and roast at 400 for about 15-20 minutes.

In the meantime
Unroll a storebought pie crust into pie plate. Mix goat cheese
and ricotta cheeses and then add the egg. Spread as a single layer on the crust, then sprinkle the parmesan cheese.

Top cheese mixture with roasted veggies and fold in edges of crust (hence the 'rustic'), brush exposed crust with lightly beaten egg white and bake for 20 minutes, still at 400.

Bon apetit!

*I don't really like salt, and since I felt like the cheeses were salty enough and my veggies were not 'wet' ones, I omitted the salt, and thought it was perfect.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Someone Let the Cork Out...

And yooooou stink!

J has been gone for just over two weeks, and I must say it's gone a lot more smoothly than I had anticipated. Part of it is that I'm already used to the solo-parenting gig over the last 2+ years of residency, and part of it is because we've stayed super busy.

I've had time to try out some new recipes, promising myself I wouldn't fall into the trap of ordering take-out; only one night of pizza ordered in for the kids! I've even gotten pretty creative with my time-management...when H was at pre-school this morning, I took the time while Charlie was playing from room to room to dust the TV area and wash all the windows...who knew a 4 year-old fingerprints could get to the very top panes?! I also scheduled EnviroClean to come shampoo the carpets on Friday when I get my roots taken care of, which is a good thing because they are probably longer than Alex Haley's at this point.

However, the thing that's been the biggest pain (aside from the lack of 'intimate time') has been the dreaded chore of taking out the garbage. Besides loathing the task, the logistics of it are just annoying. Either I lug the bags with me while I've got Charlie in my arms, and I'm shooing H along toward whatever task we're doing for the day, or I chance H's promise to stay put while I run to the dumpster during Charlie's nap. Yes, the dumpster is in sight-line with my apartment window, but I will definitely appreciate having a house where the garbage is mere steps away. Luckily we no longer have to separate our recycling, so the trip takes less than 3 minutes all together, but today as I was walking, the bag bumped my leg with each step, and as it was looped over my arm to free up the giant box of recycling, I ended up with a tourniquet o'trash by the time I got there and had a brief panic that I wouldn't be able to get it untwisted. With a clang of the door to the compactor, hand-sanitizer applied, I sauntered back to the apartment feeling ten pounds lighter.

I purchased a package of the Earth's Best diapers a couple weeks ago and had been using disposables here and there just to give myself a little break from the poo-washing. I have to say, it's been a reinforcement to me that I appreciate the convenience of disposables, but the stench that goes along with them being in the garbage (I even use little scented bags!) is just nasty. With cloth diapers, you wash it and forget it.

But, at least it's been the motivation for me to take out the garbage pronto instead of procrastinating. Now, about that toilet that needs scrubbing...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Let's Confer

Today, I passed another parenting milestone; my first parent-teacher conference. Yes, H is only in pre-school, but you'd be surprised how nerve-wracking it was! I walked in armed with a list of H's positive attributes just in case they weren't able to discern from their bi-weekly interactions with him that he's perfect! Yes, yes, I know that I've intimated he may be less than, but that's my prerogative as his mother.

I've been told by the pediatrician, the social worker at the pediatrician's office who gave me a 'courtesy call' after I broke down in tears over my apparent inadequacies and then today by H's preschool teacher that I'm 'really hard' on myself. Um, yeah. Isn't everybody? Maybe I'm just less afraid of letting my freak flag fly.

So, after I dabbed my leaking eye sockets with a tissue, H's teacher realized that a lot of the statements in his evaluation were phrased kind of negatively. She took some time to talk about his positive attributes which, really, is what every parent wants. A list of things to work on is great, but everyone needs to know that at the end of the day, their child has more positives than negatives, and that you're doing a great job. Or, at least, the very best you can in this given time and place.
(Recognize that little cherub? Yep, it's Junior from Problem Child.)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Put Your Back Into It!

Tonight as I was scrubbing juice stains out of the carpet from H spitting it out, I had to just keep the mantra running through my head; 167 days until we live in a house with no carpet. 167 days until we live in a house with no carpet.

Not, mind you, that this would make a four and a half year old spitting out juice because it made their friends laugh acceptable. But it would make the clean-up a lot easier.

Last night, I came back from hanging up the batch of next size up clothes in Charlie's closet to find that not only Charlie, but H as well, had thrown their forks on the floor to signify the end of the meal. With ketchup on them. It's a good thing Julio's Liquors is so conveniently located, because it's amazing how much calm the promise a glass of wine at the end of the night can bring.

Needless to say, my kids were in bed by 5:37pm.

I can't tell you how much I loathe carpet in an eating area. While it's a 'cosmetic fix', it's been an automatic rule-out for any house we looked at. Because the last thing I want to do is have flooring installed with my five and two year-old boys in the mix.

In fact, the lack of houses available that didn't have some sort of shag, indoor/outdoor or other fuzzy surface in either a dining or bathroom was a little shocking. Carpet in a bathroom...I don't know who ever thought that would be a great idea. Did they forget what toilets are for? And that the items that go in them don't always stay there? Or get there safely in the first place?

So, just 167 days until we step out and lock our deadbolt for the last time. Until then, I'll be humming that little ditty each night as I pick up, swipe, blot and vacuum food that my little cherubs have dropped and/or thrown. Seriously, anyone who's ever claimed we don't have a common ancestor with chimpanzees has never seen my children at mealtime. They may as well be chucking feces at me, because getting ketchup out of cream apartment-grade nylon carpet...not so pretty.

Come on, put your back into it!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Diaper Doody

I joined the ranks of cloth diapering mamas about a year ago, and while that sometimes makes me feel a swell of pride over the amount of money I'm saving, I've also found that you could easily spend a ton on the super cute diapers they have now, if you didn't have downers like rent to pay, and groceries to buy.

I'd been using bumGenius exclusively until a trip to Mothers and Company to return the three unused Pocket Trainers I'd purchased for H, and the candystore-esque display of neatly stacked, brightly colored cloth diapers resulted in the acquisition of two Fuzzi Bunz one size with snaps* and one Wahmies one size diaper (cutest little monkey print you've ever seen) with hooks that just serve to annoy J every time he has to do a diaper change when that one's in rotation. But, whatev', it's really cute and I figure if J can't get it undone, neither can Charlie. Hmm...It's such a shame that the cute little prints are just covered up with clothes. One would almost think it's a waste to buy the prints. Almost.

So, cutesy bits aside, there is one aspect of cloth diapering that is just gross, it's necessary, but gross nonetheless. A diaper sprayer has made the task of de-poo'ing diapers oh-so-much more palatable, but still. The upside? You're flushing it down the toilet instead of letting it sit in a diaper genie...no matter what I did, I could never make that thing not reek.

*I love the snaps! They have a learning curve in deciding which setting to use for how big your kiddo is, but they seem to be more trim than the bG as an added bonus. Oh, and you don't have to rip apart a daisy chain o' diapers each time you do laundry (even though you folded in the laundry tabs).