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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce

Ron and I are slowly adjusting into our new roles as parents. Everyone has always said that having a puppy is like having a baby and I'm starting to understand what they mean. I follow Dinah around constantly. When she is sleeping, I have one eye on her at all times. At night, I sleep with one ear open so I can hear if she whimpers (even though there is no need for this; I could be sleeping with Bose headphones on and still hear her when she gets up). Our schedules are so out of whack that I'm running around the kitchen trying to cook a quick meal and make sure that Dinah and Cali don't head to blows. I have a limited time frame to get things accomplished so resumes and cover letters are worked on after breakfast, when Dinah is napping, so I can spend the afternoon teaching her how to be a civilized puppy. Random strangers are offering unsolicited advice about how to parent. We're learning how to re-adjust our furniture to keep items out of her mouth. My workouts are limited. And, I haven't slept more than 2 hours at a time since we got her. We have gates and crates around the house. And yesterday, Dinah climbed her first stair. Ron and I looked at eachother and started whimpering. Dinah's fear of the stairs was our saving grace. Cali could eat upstairs while Dinah ate downstairs. We could sit in the living room and not chase her when she'd go up the stairs. But watching her climb that stair noted that some of our freedom was removed. Is that what it feels like when you watch your baby crawl for the first time? Or take his first step? You are so excited but at the same time, you know what that means. Baby is on the move. And for us, it means that Dinah is on the move.
But we are learning, adjusting, adapting, and growing. And we love being parents. We've had some frustrating moments (last night we had a potty stand-off with her in the front yard for 40 minutes, sadly she won) but after realizing that Dinah has only been a Reed for 5 days, we recognized that we're doing alright for newbies. Dinah is so dang adorable and she loves being praised. It's such a fulfilling feeling when you say "Come" and she comes. Or "Walk" and she walks. We're trying to raise her in as loving of a home as possible. She curls up next to us and lays on our feet. She gives her sister kisses. She is so excited to meet new people and new puppies. She is just a spitball of energy that loves life and it is so nice to be reminded of that innocence and joy. Yesterday, we got caught in a 4 minute hail storm (while it was cloudless and the sun was shining... Seattle weather is so weird) and it was just incredible to watch her chase after the little hail pellets and yip out of confusion and excitement. And I look forward to romping around in the grass with her, watching her sprint around with her tiny ears flopping back, and with this happy expression on her face. She's a treasure.

Even more exciting? I have a new kitchen buddy. Yep, Dinah knows that yummy things - puppy, kitty, and human things - come from the kitchen. So at breakfast and dinner, Dinah and Cali surround me in the kitchen, sit down, and stare at the counter. The other day I walked in to find them sitting hear one another just staring up at the counter. I have to wonder what Cali is teaching her... It hasn't been terrible cooking with Dinah in the room but it is nice to have Ron home to help out at night. The other day, I was craving pancakes - nothing unusual - so I decided to try out a new recipe that I've always wanted to try. These were delicious. They tasted like a light cheesecake and were so fluffy and filling. The recipe is not as terribly un-nutritious as some of the ricotta pancake recipes I've seen out there so I was pleasantly surprised to see that they tasted just as delicious. The blueberry sauce was so quick and easy to mix up. Next time you want a slightly indulgent pancake breakfast, lunch, or dinner, check these out!
Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce
from Food Babbles
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 cups fresh (or frozen) blueberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups AP flour
  • 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta (do not use fat-free)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil, plus more for brushing griddle or pan
  1. Make blueberry sauce: in small bowl, combine the lemon juice and cornstarch; set aside. In small saucepan, combine blueberries, 1/4 cup sugar, water, and 1/4 tsp salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer. Stir in cornstarch/lemon juice mixture. Simmer and stir until mixture thickens, about 2 minutes. Cover and set aside.
  2. For pancakes: whisk together the flour, 3 Tbsp sugar, baking powder, baking sode, and remaining 1/4 tsp salt. In separate bowl, whisk together the ricotta, egg, egg whites, lemon juice, lemon zest, and canola oil. Fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture to make a thick batter.
  3. Over a griddle or skillet heated on medium-low, brush canola oil. Measure 1/4 cup of batter and drop it on griddle, spreading it slightly. Cook pancakes until browned on the underside and beginning to set, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until browned on the second side and cooked in the center, about 2 minutes longer. Repeat until batter is used. (Keep pancakes in oven preheated at 200 degrees to keep warm in the meantime.) Serve with blueberry sauce and enjoy!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dinah Rose

Everyone, meet Dinah Rose! The new addition to the Reed family.
Ron and I have been talking about getting a dog for many years now. We started discussions shortly after we moved to Minnesota but never opted to introduce a dog in our home because we were always renting and wanted to wait until we owned our own place. But after many discussions and after an "OK" from the landlord, we decided it was time - for many, many reasons.

After a harrowing 2 hour car ride and a nasty experience with Seattle traffic, Dinah Rose was introduced to her new home on Friday afternoon. So far, she's done quite well for a puppy. She is slowly experiencing new things. She is quickly learning how to defy her mom's wishes. But she is a smart, smart puppy who reminds me SO much of Madison. In fact, when we met all eleven puppies a few weeks ago - ten curled up in a ball to nap - and Dinah ran around the pen whimpering for more attention. Then Ron said "I want that one!" and I was quickly brisked back to that memorable day when Madison came home with us over sixteen years ago. As I said "oh no bite" she yipped hew jaws and I said "Mom, I want that one!"
Adorable, but mischevious. But Dinah is doing good. She loves her toys, especially the ones her grandma sent her. She sleeps relatively well (but not yet in her crate) and lets us know when she needs to go potty. It'll take time. And it'll take growth for us as new puppy parents. It's a whole new experience for us and we're taking it one step at a time. She's already the bell of the ball. We brought her up to the farmer's market yesterday and she met no less than 30 people. She even got her little mug on a few camera phones. Some people have even stopped their cars mid-drive so they could hop out and say hello to her! But we had to leave because she got pretty tired and a Seattle windstorm blew through and almost whisked her away.
Dinah has met her sister Cali. She's given her kisses and Cali has sniffed her. Cali has shown Dinah that she runs the house (and Dinah went and sulked in the corner) but Cali remains relatively patient so we're happy to see them nap in the same room. Dinah is learning to back away when Cali isn't interested and it's nice to see Cali calm around another animal again. She actually seems at peace, something I haven't seen since Salem went to go chase butterflies in the sky. Cali loves companionship so I know that in time her and Dinah will be nuzzled up next to one another.  Now, I know you might wonder why we chose the name Dinah Rose. Well, I must admit that it was largely me. Dinah Rose combines the best of my two favorite worlds; Disney and Harry Potter. Alice in Wonderland is my absolute favorite Disney animation movie of all time. Dinah is the name of Alice's small red kitten. (Note: Dinah (the dachshund) is also the name of Pluto's girlfriend.) And Rose? Rose is the name of Ron Weasley's (my favorite wizard) and Hermione Granger's daughter.

So far, we're really enjoying our experience. She has such a loving personality and has already brought so much love into our home and we find ourselves excitedly anxious for the challenge. I'll keep you posted on her progress and continue to post pictures as she grows. But tomorrow, I promise to get back to food!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New England Clam Chowder

Annd... I'm back. Well, wow. The bar exam is over. I am no longer a manic mess. I can sit at the computer without shaking so much that I spill coffee and water all over the place. I can walk around the neighborhood without reciting statements of law. I am falling asleep and staying asleep. It's a nice feeling. Thankfully, I'm also slowly moving away from the horrible, unsettling feeling that I will need to retake the exam. I am no longer telling Ron about the answer I should have picked. I am no longer tormenting myself by looking up my inaccurate statements or incorrect answers. I'll deal with the results when they come. And if there is a next time, I know what I need to do differently.
This past Thursday, I turned 29 years old. I spent most of the day walking around, watching the waves crash, and basking in the sunshine. And I ate a really gigantic piece of cake. This past weekend, Ron and I took a trip up to Vancouver, British Columbia. We spent the time enjoying eachother's company, having lengthy discussions about our future, and realizing that it was our last weekend hurrah before our little girl arrives! Yes, that's right. We're getting a little girl! Surprise! It's time for the Reed's to expand.... our four-legged family. This has been a long time coming, a discussion that has occurred for over two years, and an ongoing decision process since early November with a lot of pro/con debates. In January, the decision became final and I am happy to announce that our little family will again be four. This weekend, we will open our home and heart to a puppy. I am very excited. Ron is very excited. And Cali is very excited. I'll keep the name private until I can show you her beautiful little face on Monday's post.

I wanted to post the best cookie recipe ever but I can't find the pictures. Argh. So, I'm posting this amazing chowder that Ron and I had a few weeks back. Since moving to Seattle, I haven't eaten as much seafood as I thought I would. I often walk past the fish guys at the farmers market, near the fish counter in the grocery store, and view seafood items on the menu. Yet, I rarely get seafood. This is bizarre because I love seafood and I'm in a prime location for it! I've decided this should change. So I started with something easy. Ron and I loved this soup. It was from the "Light Issue" of the January/February Food Network magazine but you would have no idea that this soup was a light version. If you have any seafood fans in your house, definitely check out this recipe. It doesn't stink up your kitchen, it takes an hour to make, and it's absolutely delicious!
New England Clam Chowder
from Food Network magazine
Yield: 6 servings
  • 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil
  • 4 slices Canadian bacon, diced (2 ounces)
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 6 stalks celery, diced (about 2 cups)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 1-pound containers frozen clams packed in their own juice, thawed, juice reserved (I used fresh with extra clam juice, you can also use cans)
  • 1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups low-fat (1%) milk
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream or half-and-half
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • hot sauce, for serving, optional
  1. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the Canadian bacon and cook; stirring frequently, until crisp, 3-4 minutes. Transfer bacon to plate.
  2. Add the remaining 1 Tbsp oil, onion, celery, 3/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper to the pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add 1 1/2 cups water, the reserved clam juice (about 1 1/2 cups), the potatoes and bay leaf and bring to a boil.
  3. Partially cover the pot and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Whisk the milk, cream and flour in a bowl until the flour is dissolved. Slowly add the mixture to the pot, stirring constantly. While stirring, bring the soup to a simmer (do not boil). Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 8 minutes. Add the clams and simmer 2 minutes more. Discard the bay leaf. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Right before serving, stir in the bacon. Serve with hot sauce, if desired.