Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What's Cookin': Chicken Souvlaki Salad

This a recipe loosely based on one from Cooking Light. Very loosely based. Maybe "inspired by" would be more appropriate. It's a good one to make when Jeff is working late because it's good cold, so I don't have to reheat anything when he gets home, and the leftovers are good too.

The original recipe is here.

  • 2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cubed
  • 1/2 cup vertically sliced red onion
  • 1-2 cubed peeled cucumbers
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 pound)
  • 1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dill
  • 1 package whole wheat pita


  • Combine first 7 ingredients (garlic through chicken breast) in a large zip-top plastic bag. Seal the bag and shake to coat. Allow to marinate for a few hours.
  • Remove chicken from the bag, saute in a pan on medium-high heat until opaque.
  • Add onion to the pan and cook until chicken is done.
  • Combine chicken and onions, cubed cucumber, feta and tomatoes in a large bowl.
  • Combine yogurt and remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over chicken mixture; toss well.
  • Cut pitas in half and fill with salad.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dear Mia: Part 4

You are 8 months old today, and oh Mia, what can I say? You are... Well, you are you. You are having an explosion of personality and letting us know exactly what we are in for. I have a feeling I can look back on this post in 5, 10, 20 years and think, yup, that's Mia.

You? Are a firecracker. You are volatile and loud. You are opinionated and goofy. You are stubborn and tenacious. To be honest, I feel strange putting you in frilly, girly outfits. As much as I want to, it just totally doesn't fit your personality. You aren't "boyish," but you are spunky and tough. You are no princess. You never, ever stop moving. From the moment your eyes open in the morning to when they close at night you are going. You don't even slow down for nursing or diaper changes. I am surprised you have not mastered crawling yet, with your constant on-to-go-ness, but you find other ways to get from here to there. You want to touch everything and taste everything. You go from 0 to 60 and 60 to 0. One moment you are whining, the next you are shrieking with laughter and the very next you are asleep.

Speaking of sleep...

That's all I've got.

I'm too tired to finish that thought. Someday when your daughter is laying in your arms at 2am looking up at you with tired eyes and you have rocked and shushed and lullabied for what feels like an eternity and yet she still won't just close her eyes and go to sleep. Do not call me. Instead, imagine me sleeping on a cloud of fairy's wings in a soundless vacuum under the influence of many Ambien. Imagine me sleeping the delicious sleep of the childless. And be jealous.

Here is, I believe the crux of who you are at the very core: if you do not want to do something you will not do it. If you do not want to sleep you will just not sleep for as long as you deem appropriate to illustrate your willpower. You do what you want when you want, and if you are unable or not allowed you protest loudly until your desires are met. Right now - and I'm sure for years to come - this trait is so very frustrating for me, but please don't ever change.

I said last time that you don't like strangers. It would be more accurate to say you actively abhor any one but your dad and me. Sometimes Grandma and Auntie Sarah are okay, but everyone else is met with suspicious stares and then wails of discontent. Someday? Maybe? You will like other people. Otherwise you will have to take your dad to prom, and that might be awkward.

You are becoming a little parrot. When I cough you do a little fake cough with your tiny tongue sticking out. If I make a kissy noise, you smack your lips together. If I say "Ho Ho Ho," you parrot back "Huh Huh Huh." For the first time I feel like we are communicating with each other, and it thrills me to no end. The other day as you rode in your carseat I asked you, "Mia, can you say 'Hi?'" and you waved to me. I about died. It was as close to a conversation as we've come, and I can't wait for more.

Your love for cats runs hard and deep. You stop everything you are doing the moment a cat enters the room, and then you set out to get to them. They are so good with you too, but it just encourages you to grab onto their tails with all your might. When we look at your pictures books, you always pause and giggle at the pictures of the cats. It is so awesome to see how your little mind works.

People always say you look like your dad, then they inevitably pause and say, "But she's got mommy's eyes." It's true, you have your dad's smile and chin, but my eyes (the jury's still out on who's nose you have). It is surreal and strangely familiar to look into those eyes every day. Those eyes that are mine, but filled with promise I'll never know.

Mia, I am so excited for Christmas this year. Obviously, I know you don't understand it yet, but I just love the Christmas season so much, this year is only the beginning of the excitement to come. Two Christmases ago I sat at Aunt Amy's house and thought, "next Christmas I want to be pregnant." that was really the moment I knew I was ready for a baby. I was so sure in that moment that even when I later questioned whether I was really ready to get pregnant I could remind myself of that feeling and be reassured. Then last Christmas we all imagined what this year would be like with you here. And I can't believe my dreams have come true. Here you are, and it's better than I could have imagined.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Love List

In honor of Thanksgiving, it's good to put energy into thinking about what makes me happy and thankful.

I love baked goods and hot showers and eating out. I love reading a good book and watching bad reality TV equally. I love weekends.

I love new shoes. I love a good deal. I love shopping with my mom. I love white wine and gin & tonics. I love having a clean house and sleeping on clean sheets. I love a perfectly ripe cantaloupe. I love movie theater popcorn drenched in butter. I love long walks and road trips. I love book stores and libraries.

I love fall leaves crunching under my shoes. I love the smell of spring rain. I love listening to the cicadas on a hot summer night, and as much as I hate to admit it, I love the first snowfall of the year.

I love the ocean. I love crashing into oncoming waves and letting them swallow me up. I love the sun sizzling on saltwater soaked skin and the exhaustion that follows a day at the beach.

I love the Christmas season. I love the bustle of the mall and the warmth of watching holiday movies wrapped in a blanket on my couch. I love baking Christmas cookies, white lights and crowding in with family on Christmas day.

I love Mia's pizza dough belly, her soft, dimply hands and her high-pitched giggle. I also love the first moments after she goes to bed at night when I feel myself unclench and relax for the first time all day.

I love the way good music washes over me and through me. I love cats. I love MY cats. I love taking pictures and the thrill of uploading them to my computer to see what I've captured.

I love my family. Dear God, I love my family.

I love weddings and babies. I love picking out and giving the perfect gift. I love to check out my husband when he's not paying attention. I love filling out forms and writing lists and doing puzzles. I love appetizers. I love a good coffee buzz. I love Diet Coke. I love board games.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

What's Cookin'

Jeff and I have been trying out some vegetarian dinners lately. I've always liked vegetarian food. I think it's more flavorful, it's cheaper and it's obviously healthier. Not that I don't enjoy a burger now and then, but I've never loved the flavor of meat. I've also been looking for good quinoa recipes. I wish I had tried quinoa years ago when a friend educated me on it, but I thought it sounded too healthy to be good. Now I'm hooked. So, when I saw this on pinterest I had to try it.

Quinoa Stuffed Red Bell Peppers
. So, so good. The only modifications I made were omitting the celery - I just don't really like the texture of celery hidden in things - and I used chicken broth I had leftover from another recipe instead of water (I know, I know, this was no longer a vegetarian recipe).

This recipe will definitely go into the rotation in our house, and next time I'll try it with vegetable broth instead of chicken to make it a true vegetarian meal.

I've also been baking some.

First, I tried this Pumpkin Coffee Cake to bring to a party. It was so good I kind of didn't want to bring it to the party. I wanted to be alone with it and savor every crumb.

Then I read somewhere about making pumpkin muffins using just a can of puréed pumpkin and a spice cake mix. Meh. Maybe if I had added walnuts or chocolate chips or something they would have been better, but they were kind of spongy and definitely not very pretty. I don't think I'd make these again.