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Dear Starbucks, Are We Still Friends?

15 Mar

Starbucks has unveiled its latest petite sugar bomb: The Cake Pop. Be still my beating heart.


Dear Starbucks,

A little birdie told me something: You are offering a new epicurean delight to your customers. It’s called a cake pop, but you already knew that, didn’t you?

I made a special trip to your fancy, recently remodeled location on Orange Avenue for a taste of this delicious goodness, and what did I find? Nothing. There was not a cake pop in sight.

Did you really think you could get away with this? Did you think I wouldn’t notice the considerable lack of cake pops in your shiny display case? Do you not know me at all?

I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and forgive the oversight. Maybe there was some sort of disaster in your cake pop factory, which resulted in a cake pop shortage. It’s also possible that the cake pop truck overturned on the highway during its scheduled cake pop delivery. Or maybe, just maybe, a band of cake pop thieves intercepted the cake pop drop-off and they are being sold on the black market. Anything is possible when it comes to cake pops.

I don’t want this little incident to come between us, but just so you know: I’ll be back. You better not let this happen again. Or else.

Lots of Love,

Morgan

This post can also be seen at my weekly lifestyle column, “Following the Yellow Brick Road” at Coronado Patch.

My Toddler Ate Something Green, and She Liked It!

4 Jan


This is a departure from my usual posts. I am going to give you all something very special. It’s a recipe. Not just any old recipe though. This is something I created all by myself. Not only that, but it is really easy to make and it seriously tastes amazing. Plus, you can freeze and re-heat it in a pinch. That is something surely everyone can appreciate.

But you want to know why this recipe is really, really special? My three year old ate it. And it contains a green vegetable. The baby even ate it too! That means the entire family ate the same green vegetable dish. I mean, I can’t even believe I’m giving my secret away for free.

I wish I had a picture for you guys. I went to take a shot of the leftovers I have in the fridge, but it had already been eaten. See? That’s how good it is! I won’t keep you waiting any longer.

Cheesy Broccoli Casserole ( aka: Green Food My Toddler Will Eat)

You will need:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk, heated (I use 2 percent)
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 large bunches of broccoli cut into very small florets
  • 6 large russet potatoes (I’ve used red potatoes too and they were delicious- just use the equivalent weight) cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesean
  • A rectangular pan

Wash and prep all vegetables and cheese. Put the pan in an easy to reach place. You will need to move fast once the sauce is ready.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Step 1: Make the bechamel sauce.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until a paste forms. Cook the paste until it bubbles a bit. This takes about 2 minutes. Don’t let the paste get brown though!

Add hot milk and continue to stir as the sauce thickens. Turn the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil.

Lower the heat and cook. Keep stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the salt and pepper to taste while you are stirring.

Remove the pan from the heat.

The sauce is ready. Now move fast!

Step 2: Assemble the casserole.

Place a layer of potatoes in the bottom of your baking dish.

Next, add a layer of broccoli. It’s ok if the potato layer is peeking through. It all ends up in the same place eventually.

Ladle the bechamel sauce on top of the broccoli. It does not need to completely cover the broccoli. It shouldn’t even mostly cover it. The sauce will melt and cover everything during the baking process.

Repeat another layer starting with the potatoes.

After your second layer has been assembled, sprinkle the shredded cheddar over the partially assembled casserole.

Continue layering until you run out of ingredients or you reach the top of the pan. This usually happens around the fourth layer.

Top with the parmesan cheese.

Helpful tip: If the bechamel sauce gets thick on you, whisk in a little water. This will thin it out.

Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes. You should be able to easily stick a knife through the casserole. Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes before serving.

The directions I gave you are for a double batch, which serves about 8 people. We eat half and freeze the rest. I reheat it at 350 until it is bubbling. Then I let it sit for 15 minutes before serving.

I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as mine does!

Now back to the regularly scheduled posting….

Going Bananas for Bananas (I’m Giving Away Free Stuff)

16 Dec

I got an email a couple weeks ago from Chiquita Banana asking me if I wanted to be a “Chiquita Mom” and if so, did I want a free “Chiquita Mom” kit? Well, I like Chiquita bananas and I like free stuff, so I said ok.

Look what showed up yesterday:

Nice, isn’t it?

Here is what is in the “Chiquita Mom” kit:

  • Three bibs
  • Three freezer bags
  • Recipe cards
  • An information booklet
  • A coupon for some free Chiquita bananas.
  • A sippy cup
  • Some utensils
  • A portable bowl with a lid
  • A super cute (and large) reusable bag

The best part? They told me I could give five of them away to my readers! I’m not big on giveaways, but I thought you guys might like this stuff too. I’m sure we are all reeling from the cost of the holidays and if there is one thing I know: Moms like free stuff. Plus, it’s really fun to win things and we all need a little more fun in our lives.

The information booklet did have some interesting information. I’m going to leave you with a few fun facts:

  • Bananas have more digestible complex carbohydrates than any other fruit.
  • Bananas are actually high in fiber (2 grams in each medium sized fruit).
  • Bananas have the highest levels of antioxidants when they are at their ripest.

I think giveaways with a billion rules are really annoying, so here’s the deal with this one: Leave a comment below and five of you will be picked at random. Ta da!

You can learn more about Chiquita Bananas and how you can become a “Chiquita Mom” here.

PS

If you ever find that bananas tend to back things up for your baby, you can read about my “Magic Prune Poop Elixer.”

***The contest is now closed. A big thank you to everyone who participated!***

 

Mmmmm….Bacon

12 Oct

So, I have to be honest with you. This post is inspired by an event that a local PR company sent me to. Don’t bail out on me just yet. I wouldn’t have written it unless I thought it was totally worth your while.

So, this PR company sent me to an event at Cups La Jolla– an organic cupcakery located in La Jolla (a posh beach town in San Diego). Cups La Jolla is a very cool cupcake cafe, and they also offer amazing cooking classes. Not only do they have classes for adults, but they have classes for kids too. They also beef up their kids classes during holidays for those of you looking to entertain your brood during school vacations.

I had my choice of the classes and I picked the one called, “Market to Table”. The short version is that a chef takes the class to the Sunday La Jolla Farmer’s Market and then creates a menu based off the produce the class selects at the market. The chef takes everyone back to Cups La Jolla, teaches everyone how to cook the recipes he has created, and then everyone gets to eat the food. It was really fun. I could see myself doing this with my husband or a group of girlfriends.

The night before the cooking class, I thought I would check out the website so I would know just what exactly Cups La Jolla was all about. And, much to my delight, look what I saw on their menu:

You have to click on this link to see the photo.

That is no ordinary cupcake. That’s a bacon cupcake. O. M. G. My heart started racing and it’s safe to say I got a little over-excited about the prospect of eating such a culinary delight.

I showed up bright and early that Sunday morning to score myself a bacon cupcake to eat on the way to the Farmer’s Market, but the cafe hadn’t opened yet. I was a little bummed, but then I figured that a bacon cupcake would be just the thing to top off a fresh, organic, homemade meal.

The whole time we were at the market I kept making bacon cupcake references. Like, “Hey- let’s score some of that prickly pear. I bet that would be the perfect accent to a bacon cupcake.” I think everyone was generally wondering who this bacon cupcake-crazed woman was, but I didn’t give a shizzy. If they didn’t get why a bacon cupcake is basically the most genius dessert on earth, that just meant there would be more for me.

Here are some pics of the amazing produce at the La Jolla Farmer’s Market:


We went back to cook the food. I wish I could tell you more about it, but I prepare food about fifty times a day for my own family and I was more interested in eating the food rather than cooking it. Here are some pics of us (everyone else) cooking:

Finally, here are some of the end result. BTW- we only spent $60 for all that macking goodness.

After about three helpings of food (I cannot lie about the quality of food- it was seriously delicious), I stretched my arms out and stated that I thought I might have just a wee bit of room left for a bacon cupcake. The chef turned to me and said, “You know we only serve those on Saturday right?”

Devastation.

To wrap up my experience: The class was awesome. I ate my face off.  If you are going to take a class, and you think you might want a bacon cupcake- go on a Saturday.

A big thank you to Cups La Jolla for putting up with me and my bacon cupcake obsession!

Update: While making links for this post I noticed that the bacon cupcake is now sold on Sundays. Of course.

Babies, Booze, and Bars

7 Sep

It seems like San Diego restauranteurs may finally be catching on to something: Mommies like to drink wine. Ok- maybe not all of you do, but I do. I’m not exactly getting hammered (on purpose) or anything, but it sure is nice to unwind with a glass or two of Pinot Grigio on ice. My grandma and I have very similar beverage preferences. One sweet little discovery my husband and I made is a new hamburger joint up the street from us, The Station Tavern and Burgers.

Let me sum it up for you in a few words: modern and hip, local beer on tap, full bar, sweet potato fries, tater tots (holla!), killer burgers and…. AN OUTSIDE AREA FOR KIDS TO PLAY. This description does not do it justice. They have an outdoor area that is scattered with decomposed granite gravel, picnic tables for families to sit at, chalkboards for kids to draw on, and a small wooden train for kids to play in. Needless to say, everyone in the family likes it here. As much as we enjoy frequenting The Station, it can get a little old after a while.

So, you can imagine my delight when I saw a flyer for this little gem the other day: Baby Stroller Happy Hour at Enotecca Style Panini and Wine Bar. Can I get a what, what? Tuesday evening they are having a happy hour with discounted wine and appetizers AND kids are invited. I get a little tickle in my tummy just thinking about it.

Sure, it’s being hosted by MySanDiegoAgent.com. I totally understand. No one would invite kids to a bar just to be nice. That would be asking for trouble. Even though I couldn’t sell my house right now to save my life, I’m still going. Plus, I might be able to break even on it in like 50 years and I’ll remember this. Oh yes, I will.

I spend a lot of time with my kids. A LOT. It’s the Zoo, Sea World, the park, play dates, dance class, swim class… I’m pretty good on kid-friendly activities. I think it’s time for some adult-friendly ones if you ask me. So, this whole bringing your baby to a bar trend is on my radar. For all you San Diego mamas out there- I’ll be letting you know what I discover.

FYI- I didn’t get paid for any of this. I just like to write about cool stuff.

P.S. If you are going to bring your baby to a bar, keep it classy and stick to a drink or two. Never, ever, ever drive drunk or buzzed.

Mommies: What adult-friendly activities do you enjoy with your kids?

My Magic Prune Poop Elixer

30 Aug

I keep reading that in order to have a successful blog, you need to offer something useful to your readers. What? My wit and charm aren’t enough for you people? It’s ok. Even I can only take so much of myself.

So, here is a little something useful for you. I must prelude with a very short story first. (I can’t help it!)

Here’s the deal: Annie isn’t much of a pooper. She has been going every two or three days for pretty much her whole life. It never bothered her and the pediatrician assured me that it is perfectly normal. I know, for a fact, that it would really bother me if I didn’t poop for three days, but whatevs.

When Annie started eating solids though, she really got backed up. One time, after eating almost an entire banana, she didn’t poop for like five days. The poor thing would grunt and groan all day without anything to show for it. I would even hear her in the middle of night trying to work it out. It was terrible.

There was only one solution: My Magic Prune Poop Elixer. This is a homemade baby food recipe that is sure to get some poo poo in that Pamper. Plus, it tastes good and they love it. The food, that is. Gross.

Save any talk of laxatives or stool softeners because we are au natural around these parts. I try to let nature do as much of the dirty work as possible.

Here is the recipe with lots of pictures for the cooking-impaired. This is really easy and I will be worried for you if I find out that you managed to screw it up. (Erin and Seanan- I’m talking to you.)

You will need:

  • A saucepan. A small or medium size works best.
  • A blender or food processor (I use a Braun hand blender- it’s really convenient)
  • Ice cube trays
  • 10-12 prunes
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • Water

Step 1: Place 10-12 prunes in a saucepan. Fill the saucepan with just enough water to cover the prunes.

Step 2: After you cover the prunes, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Step 3: Bring the mixture to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer. (That is when there are tiny bubbles barely coming to the surface.)

Step 4: Let the prunes simmer until most of the liquid is gone. I don’t really know how long this takes. It doesn’t take that long. Just keep your eye on it okay?

The prunes are going to be swollen and look like this:

Step 5: Put the entire contents of the saucepan into your blender, food processor, or cup (like mine). By entire contents, I mean everything in the pan- the prunes and whatever liquid is left over.

Step 6: Blend away! Add water until you get your desired consistency. Prune puree has a tendency to be a bit sticky, so I keep adding water until the mixture is runny.

Helpful Tip #1: I recommend investing in one of these hand blenders. They are fabulous for making baby food and super easy to clean. I puree everything with it- fruits, veggies, and even meats mixed with breastmilk or water. I find it much easier than using a food processor.

Step 7: Once you achieved your desired consistency, pour the puree into ice cube trays.

Step 8: Cover and freeze the puree. You can thaw out the puree as you need it. I warm mine up in the microwave. I have these nifty ice cube trays that come with a cover, but you can also use plastic wrap to cover the top of the tray. You can also put the frozen puree cubes into plastic baggies. Whatever works best for you.

Helpful Tip #2: After you thaw out the puree, you will probably want to add some water to it. It’s thickens when you re-heat it.

Helpful Tip#3: The cubes are hard to get out. You have to pry them out with a sharp knife or a fork.

Helpful Tip#4: You can serve the puree plain or you can use it to jazz up rice cereal, oatmeal, or plain yogurt.

That’s it! See, wasn’t it easy? I knew you could do it! Now, get off the computer and actually do it. Your baby and their bowels will thank you for it.

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