Out With a Bang: A Vodka Ice Sculpture

It’s almost New Years Eve and I have an early bird dinner reservation like a good, tired new mommy. However, I’m sure some of you are getting ready to par-tay.

Here is my last (ok, my only) fabulous idea of 2013….

While all of us mere mortals have been leaving our Grey Goose vodka bottles naked and boring on the bar, my mother-in-law has been dressing them up for years. Luckily, she has shared her how-to with yours truly so all of you can give a new year’s toast in style.

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Vodka Ice Sculptures

1. Cut the top off of a cleaned milk or juice carton.
2. Place bottle of vodka in the carton.
3. Fill the bottom third of the carton with water.
4. Add any colorful accents to the water (flowers, rosemary, fruit, etc)
5. Place in freezer and allow to freeze completely.
6. Once frozen solid, add another layer of water in the middle third of the bottle and repeat step 4 &5.
7. Once completely frozen and ready to serve/display, peel away carton and enjoy your boozy ice sculpture.

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Wishing you a wonderful new year.
Be safe.

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A Modern Thanksgiving Salad

carrotavoSalad

I have so much to be thankful for. My little girl, my hubby, my work, the village of grandparents, siblings, and friends who help us navigate the new world of parenting.

Those are the obvious. We can’t let the little things go unmentioned either this Thanksgiving.

Like infant-sized purple leopard Uggs from Violet’s Great Aunt and Uncle, the patience our loved ones are exhibiting as it takes me far too long to send out thank you notes, Dean’s ability (and willingness) to change a diaper in the dark, the rare moment I had this weekend to try out a new recipe like a delicious carrot and avocado salad, and my very kind neighbors who came to check on me when I set the smoke alarm off while roasting the carrots (note to sleepy new moms everywhere: parchment paper and broil setting don’t mix well).

Smoke-filled kitchen aside, this salad will be a perfect new dish on our Thanksgiving table. Wishing you all a happy holiday, lots of thanks, and a scrumptious feast.

carrot&avocadoSalad

carrot&avocado salad

Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad

Adapted from ABC Kitchen via NY Times

Ingredients

• 3 garlic cloves, peeled
• 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
• 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
• Salt and ground black pepper
• 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
• 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 pound medium-size carrots peeled
• 1 orange, halved
• 1 lemon, halved
• 1 avocado, pitted, peeled and cut in thin wedges
• 1 ½ cups packed pea shoots
•  1/2 cup of crunchy sprouts
• 3 tablespoons roasted hulled pumpkin seeds

Preparation

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a small food processor or a mortar, pulse or pound the garlic with the cumin, thyme, chile flakes, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper to make a paste. Add vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the oil, and mix well.
2. Arrange carrots in a roasting pan and spread spice paste on top. Place orange and lemon halves, cut side down, on carrots. Roast until carrots are tender (but not mushy) and starting to brown, about 45 minutes. (I like a little char on them, so I broil for a short time at the end)
3. Using tongs, arrange carrots on a serving platter. With the tongs or a dishtowel to protect your hands, squeeze juice from the roasted orange and lemon halves into a measuring cup. You should have about 1/2 cup juice. Beat in remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle some of this sauce over the carrots.
4. Arrange avocado over carrots, then scatter sprouts on top. Drizzle with reserved sauce, top with a sprinkling of the seeds. (The restuarant serves it with a dollop of sour cream or yort on top, I thought it was just as good without)

YIELD 4-6 servings (I will double this recipe for Thanksgiving) (Plan on a carrot per person)

 

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This is Your Brain on Baby

 

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dean&vi2

Mama&V

People warned us that it goes by so fast.

Our last two months have gone like this: i’m having contractions, get me the epidural now, still feel the contractions, one more push and you’ll meet your daughter, welcome violet andie, love her so much it hurts instantly, she’s perfect, ouch and gross down there, we’re a family, can’t stop staring at her, look at those little toes, your turn to change the 10th dirty diaper of the day, my turn to put that stupid paci back in her mouth, awww look at that face, she smiled right at me, was that a giggle, was that a poop, she smells so yummy, we’re doing it, when will you be home, i need a haircut desperately, what should we order for dinner,  i still need a haircut desperately, morning smiles, post-feed drunk face, she made it 8 hours tonight, she’s been up every twenty minutes since, family snuggle time, we are so blessed.

And just like that – two months have passed.

My brain may be mush, but my heart is full. We are getting into a routine (yes, I know our current routine will completely go to shit any second). I even made dinner a few times which felt like a major accomplishment. This Crispy Kale, Brussels Sprouts and Potato Hash was a winner and an old favorite of Butternut Squash soup with a twist. But, mostly, I am just absorbing every one of the precious moments because she is all that really matters…

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2Months

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Love U Madly’s Next Chapter: It’s All About Violet Andie

Violet

I am thrilled to share that our Violet Andie made her world debut on September 7th at 3:14am!

Labor was laborious, but relatively fast. Amazingly, a few days later the hospital sent us home and told us to go be parents. The first week, we pretty much just stared at her. “I love us,” Dean said as we both got a bit weepy staring at our precious baby girl.

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I instantly loved my little Violet more than I thought possible. I love her little lips, her soft skin, her sweet I-just-made-a-poop-smile. Sure, I’m exhausted. My boobs seem to be the focus of most conversations in and out of our home, invited and uninvited, with closest friends and total strangers. Most days I consider myself lucky if I shower and change out yesterday’s PJs by 10 pm. But, I’m obsessed with every of her 7 pound 12 ounces (and growing!).

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All this, quite honestly, I expected.

What surprised me? How much I love my husband even more madly. He is a rockstar partner who cleans the breast pumps, enthusiastically changes diapers, and manages to seem sincere when he tells me I look incredible with spit up in my hair and milk leaking down my stomach.

We are a family. I love us.

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Turning 30 and Roasted Tomato Salad

RoastedTomatoPanzanella

Today is my thirtieth birthday. I feel so lucky (and maybe just a little overwhelmed) by everything else going on in my life that this birthday could easily pass me by. But, I’ll make sure to take a few minutes to count my blessings. Baby prep, work, new apartment, husband, family, friends – all of it can be a juggling act and I tend to get inundated in all the details and hiccups along the way. Today, I just simply want to say thank you and, jeez, I’m one lucky 30-year-old.

And, here’s a really delicious salad  I think you should make.

Warm, roasted tomatoes. Crunchy bits of bread. Balsamic.  Yum.

roasted tom panzanella

Roasted Tomato Caprese Panzanella
Author: 
 

This recipe was great for a summer BBQ side dish without taking up any room on the grill! You can buy balsamic glaze (a thickened vinegar) that makes the nice drizzle effect. Alternatively, you can reduce balsamic vinegar in a pan before adding or just add regular balsamic vinegar and it will just be thinner.
Ingredients
  • 4 cups grape tomatoes
  • 4 cups cubed multigrain bread
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2½ cups fresh mozzarella balls/pearls (I cut a few balls into fours)
  • 15-20 fresh basil leaves
  • a heavy dose of balsamic glaze

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. On one baking sheet, lay the tomatoes down and drizzle with 1½ tablespoons of olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. On a separate baking sheet, place the cubed bread and toss it with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Place both sheets in the oven. Roast the tomatoes for a full 20 minutes, tossing once during cooking. Toast the bread for 10-12 minutes, until golden, tossing 2-3 times during cooking.
  2. Place mozzarella on a paper towel to remove a bit of the moisture and water. Chop any larger basil leaves, leaving the smaller ones intact if desired.
  3. In a large bowl, add bread, tomatoes, basil, remaining salt and pepper. Gently toss with two large spoons, trying to keep the tomatoes intact for pretty visual purposes. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the salad, and then add on a liberal drizzle of balsamic glaze. Serve immediately.

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