Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wednesday Recipe: My Big Fat Greek Tacos

I made these on maternity leave and was astounded by how delicious they are!  They take a little time to make, but much can be made ahead, and the leftovers are just as good if not better, so...it's totally worth it:-)

Big, Fat Greek Tacos

Cucumber and Tomato Relish:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 firm large tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 English cucumber, seeded and diced
1/2 cup diced red onion
Salt and black pepper to taste

Feta Mint Tzatziki:
1 English cucumber
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
Salt and black pepper to taste

Lamb or Turkey:
2 pounds ground lamb or turkey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup minced red onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup broth (chicken, vegetable or beef)
For the pitas:
6-8 non-pocket pita or soft wrap breads (I made our favorite naan recipe--quick tip, for our stove we need to just cook on medium)


At least one hour or as early as one day before you are serving, prepare the salsa and tzatziki. For the cucumber salsa, toss the olive oil, vinegar, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions in a bowl and season with salt and black pepper as needed. Cover and refrigerate for one hour or up to 24 hours to marry the flavors.

For the tzatziki, peel the cucumber and shred on the large holes of a box grater. Place the shredded cucumber in a clean kitchen towel and wring out the excess water until the cucumber is very dry. In a medium bowl, stir together the strained cucumber, yogurt, feta, garlic and mint. Again, season with salt and pepper to taste. The tzatziki can be refrigerated up to 24 hours. Give it a good stir before serving.
For the meat, heat a large, 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook the ground lamb or turkey with the salt, pepper, onion and garlic, breaking up the meat into small pieces and cooking until the meat is cooked through, 8-10 minutes.

Drain any excess grease. Stir in the oregano and tomato paste and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the broth and let the mixture simmer for 5-10 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Warm the pita breads in a cast iron skillet or in the microwave until soft and heated through. Serve the tacos by spooning meat into the center of a pita bread and topping with cucumber salsa and tzatziki.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Pregnancy reminiscing...

Today was my first day back in the office since E's "surprise" labor & delivery.

Because he came early my office was pretty much in shambles, with all kinds of half done projects and notes on it.

I've been back to the office a few times for meetings with my boss with E, and have been working from home for the past 6 weeks, but today was my first day back in the saddle.

It felt weird being at work and not being pregnant...also, it reminded me that I never wrote down anything really about my pregnancy and I don't want to forget.  So, here goes some memories:

  • I was sick, really sick, really really sick...throwing up on the sidewalk, and in the subway, and in office trash cans sick...and nauseas 24/7 from 5 weeks until the placenta was delivered.
  • When something appealed to me, I ate it, b/c most things did not appeal to me
  • My cravings were bitter, sour, citrus, and meat...especially peaches (oh peaches, fresh and frozen, these got me through the summer of unending nausea and heat), lemons, korean food, cappuccinos, SOUP, Chipotle guacamole and chicken, dark chocolate, and cheeseburgers (one of the ways I found out I was pregnant was demanding that Ababa take me to get a cheeseburger at a specific restaurant at the whole other end of Manhattan...the next day I found out I was pregnant:-)
  • I LOVED soup, especially homemade tomato soup and Hale & Hearty curried soups
  • I hated sugar most of my pregnancy as sweet things (even bananas!) made me feel more sick
  • I was tired, so very tired for the whole pregnancy, especially the first 20 weeks
  • There were days when I just stared at my computer trying not to vomit for the whole work day
  • My boss and colleagues were very supportive and understanding and I worked my tail off when the nausea wasn't totally overwhelming to stay on top of all my work
  • I spent a lot of time "faking it" acting like I was fine, healthy, not feeling sick, etc.
  • I wore make-up most days just to hide how tired I looked
  • My maternity work wardrobe was very limited, so I wore 1 of about 4 outfits everyday from about 24 weeks on
  • I had Braxton hicks contracts often from about 24 weeks onward
  • When you were active you were really active and I could see my stomach jumping around and feel flutters and kicks fairly early (I think about 15 weeks)
  • When you were still you were very still which resulted in a scary and painful 20 week anatomy scan (you wouldn't move at all for about an hour and the ultrasound technician pressed very painfully the whole time trying to get you to roll over, all you would do is one big startle reflex like "the worm" and when I was about 23 weeks I made Ababa drive me to the Dr first thing in the morning b/c I hadn't felt you move for about 12 hours...I was crying and scared, but you were rocking and rolling in there, I just couldn't feel it b/c of where you were positioned
  • Ababa did EVERYTHING for us when I was pregnant dishes, cooking, laundry, playing with Samuel, b/c I was so sick and so tired
  • Most days all I could do was get Samuel dressed in the morning, sit with him during dinner, read him a few stories when I got home from work, and tuck him in...other than I was throwing up, trying not to throw up, or sleeping
  • I ate antacids like candy, especially Rennys peppermint and Walgreens tropical fruit
  • I chewed orbit sweet mint gum all the time, until the third trimester when even that made me throw up:-(

Monday, April 7, 2014

Wednesday Recipe: Smoked Turkey Cobb Wraps

So...this isn't as labor intensive as most of our Wednesday recipes, but there is some slicing involved, and the leftovers make GREAT work lunches.

From Mel's Kitchen Cafe (love her recipes!)

For Each Wrap

1 oz cream cheese, light or regular (you can also mix in some blue cheese crumbles!)
1 12-inch tortilla or wrap
2 leaves green or romaine lettuce
4-5 slices thinly sliced smoked turkey (in my experience, Fairway's is much better than Fresh Direct)
4 thin slices tomato
1 large egg, hard-boiled and sliced (B and I skip this)
4 thin slices red onion
1/2 avocado, seeded and thinly sliced
3 strips cooked bacon

I am awful at assembling, so here are Ababa's tips:

Place tortilla on large dinner plate.  Only put filling on the part that is on the inside of the pate (not the part that is on the rim).

Spread the cream cheese evenly over the tortilla. Place the lettuce down the center of the tortilla. Arrange the turkey over the lettuce. Layer the tomato, egg, onion and avocado over the turkey and top with the bacon. Roll up tightly and slice in half diagonally. Serve immediately.

Ginger Pork Lettuce Cups and "Wednesday Recipes"

When I go back to work in the office after Easter, I'll be working from home on Wednesdays.  Most nights dinner will be crock pot or something quick, but on Wednesdays I am planning to make tasty dinners that may involve more chopping and a little more time.  Bonus points if they will make great lunches for Thursday and Friday.

These delicious Ginger Pork Lettuce wraps that I made last night definitely fit the bill!

I served them with blistered garlic green beans and steamed white rice...oh yeah, and this (well a modified version using stuff I had on hand).

Ginger Pork Lettuce Wraps
adapted from Food and Wine

3/4-1 lb ground or minced meat (I used 3 boneless pork chops)
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
8 oz mushrooms, finely diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoon minced or microplaned peeled ginger
2 tablespoon Thai sweet chile sauce
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
1 tablespoon Asian toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
Sriracha to taste (I used about 1 tsp)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon neutral oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced

4 radishes, finely diced
1 english cucumber, finely diced
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tsp light brown sugar
garlic and ginger microplaned to taste
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

24 Boston lettuce leaves

Topping Instructions:
Mix all topping ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

Filling Cooking Instructions:
Mix meat with ingredients listed ginger through soy sauce.

In large saute pan, heat oil on high, toss in garlic and stir.  As soon as garlic loses its raw taste toss in the rest of the vegetables and the meat mixture.  Cook on high 8-10 minutes or until meat is cooked and sauce isn't super runny.

To serve, scoop meat into washed lettuce leaves and spoon topping over meat at table.  Roll up the leaves as you eat.

*I think the water chestnuts called for in the original recipe would be delish, but Ababa HATES water chestnuts.
**Next time I think I would use 2 stalks of celery and the whole bell pepper and a little more Sriracha

Friday, April 4, 2014


Our car is in the shop...

I had to do school pick-up yesterday and today.

Yesterday I took E in the stroller, but quickly realized that carrying a 22lb stroller with a nearly 14 lb baby and about 10 lbs of diaper bags, backpacks, and coats up multiple flights of stairs in multiple subway stations, while chaperoning two 5 year olds was not the best idea 8 weeks post-partum.

Today I wore E in the Boba with the bottom cinched in some since he's still a little small for it.  He's not as comfortable in it as in the ring sling, but I wasn't so sure about wearing the ring sling for such a long time, including walking across Central Park, since my back and pelvic girdle hurt from yesterday.

1. I should have worn the ring sling, I think we both would have been more comfortable

2. I hate the M4 bus.  Every time I take it I say this, and everytime I am leaving B's school I wait for it b/c the stop is right there...but a 30 minute wait for the bus and then an hour and a half bus ride home in Friday traffic in a rush hour bus...even though it was cold and drizzly I should have walked back across Central Park and taken the B/C to the A like I did going there.  Never again M4, never again.

3. The M4 does offer some priceless moments though.  Today's was a very vocal 8ish year old boy, let's call him Nosy Ned.  E was fussy and after about 30 minutes on the bus had a total meltdown and really needed to nurse.  I had to take off the Boba vest, unhook the Boba, get him situated, pull up my fleece and shirt, unhook my nursing bra, and try to use the vest to cover up while in a rush hour bus that was packed like sardines and moving as slow as molasses.

Nosy Ned sidles up to me with  constant stream of chatter.  B announces to the bus that I am covering E.  Nosy Ned stage whispers to B that it's for "privacy".  Nosy Ned starts commenting on how long E has been nursing (approx. 5 minutes, but to Nosy Ned that was an eternity).  Nosy Ned goes on and on with the culminating topic being teeth.

(the whole conversation, I am trying to stay reasonably covered up with the vest and making sure that E is breathing and latched and doesn't slide off my lap with all the stops and starts of the bus).
NN:Is he teething yet?
Me: No
NN: Does he have any teeth yet?
Me: No
NN: Well, that's good b/c when he's teething he'll have teeth and then he'll bite you when he nurses.
Me: *speechless*
NN: That's what me and my sister did. Well, I don't know about my sister, but I know I did that. So, watch out because he'll bite you hard and it will hurt.
Me: Um...I am looking forward to that...I mean, not looking forward to that...I mean...(mouth just drops open)

NN's mom and friend are standing behind him. B is busy trying to figure out if it's a brother or a friend (love that, b/c NN was blond haired and blue eyed and friend was Southeast Asian and B totally thought that they were brothers at first).  NN's mom was cracking up but didn't intervene at all.

Only in NYC...