an open letter to fritz | vol. 6

dear fritz,

my darling boy, you are a study in contrast these days. one moment you are all exuberance and joy, and the very next, stubborn grumpiness. i think they call it “toddlerhood,” but i’m not sure.

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last night you said “love  you” for the first time. after an exhaustive wrestling and tickling match, we were laying on the floor in your room—on our tummies with our hands tucked up under us—and i said “love you baby”. you looked me right in the eye and said “love you”. it was the single best moment of my life to date.

you’ve been growing so fast lately. every day it seems like something new is happening with you. just this week you beat me to “three” when i was counting with you. you said “k” and “o” when we were talking about your letters in the bath tub. you are learning (a little too slowly for me) that if you don’t throw your cup on the floor you get a round of applause from mama and dada. i now trust you to walk around the main floor of the house without seriously injuring yourself, all because your balance and judgement have improved vastly. you are currently obsessed with soccer balls and kicking/throwing balls in general. we can’t leave the house without one and you obsessively scream “ball!” wherever we go until we give it to you. you are obsessed with my hair, specifically my pre/post workout ponytail. you plant both of your chubby hands on my cheeks and violently turn my head so that you can get at it and then you bury your face in it and giggle. sometimes you “hug” it. you just started spinning, which is really funny to watch. unfortunately you chose to do this on the one square foot of marble flooring that we have and i live in fear that you will shatter your skull (though you seem completely unconcerned and appear to enjoy being dizzy).

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last night i made our “go to” easy and healthy dinner (sweet chili glazed salmon, brown rice, and broccoli) and when you saw it coming toward the table you said “oooooo” and then started licking your lips. you’ve turned into quite the little eater my friend. you destroy your bento boxes each day, often requiring more before you get home, and you’ll eat just about everything i put in front of you. i can not put into words how much i love this about you.

you recently had all four of your first molars come in, and are now getting two of your second molars. the rivers of drool have been epic. men will write tales of your sodden tee shirts and wild mood swings. we should take out stock in infant ibuprofen.

sadly, you also recently had another bout of yeast diaper rash, but this time it was coupled with the dreaded thrush. lucky us! you got over it pretty quickly, but have been in disposable diapers for weeks now. we need to strip and disinfect your beautiful cloth diapers and get you back on the cloth train asap. however, you have this residual rash. i have no idea what it is, and neither does your doctor. she recommended putting neosporin and hydrocortisone on it…so that’s what we are doing. i swear a million little bugs are biting you in your sleep. if i catch them, i’ll kill them. promise.

this weekend we are turning your carseat around, and you will officially be a big boy at 18 months. one and a half years. how did it happen so fast?

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until next time…

love you baby,

mamafritz

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spring salad for a spring day

the east coast has been experiencing some beautiful weather for the last several months. for some reason, we’ve been missed by every major system that has hit every other part of the country. i’m thrilled. today, for instance, it is almost 90 degrees. in april. fritz went to the doctor this morning in shorts and a tee shirt. i (stubbornly) packed a jacket for him because i refused to believe he wouldn’t “catch a chill” in april. needless to say he was all gross and sweaty in the car seat by the time we completed the 25 minute drive.

his 18 month checkup went great, he is 34″ tall (!?) and 27 pounds, 8 ounces. he’s 75th percentile across the board. he had his shots and had all his bits checked, and we are now clear until the two year mark. yay!

this salad is perfect for a spring day. it’s light and fresh and i served it alongside some shrimp i’d quickly sauteed in padma lakshmi’s delicious chili honey butter (mix cayenne, honey, and butter. proceed to schmear on everything). my salad used some leftover roasted potatoes (i’ll tell ya how) but you could sub with steamed or boiled if you’d prefer something easier.

simple spring salad

fresh spring salad

  • one bag “steam in the bag” green beans (not in sauce)
  • 1/2 pound baby white potatoes (cooked)
  • one bag pre-washed butter lettuce
  • 2 ounces romano cheese, grated
  • the juice of two lemons
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • one garlic clove, crushed and chopped very fine
  • one teaspoon dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper

to make the dressing add the mustard, garlic, lemon juice, and some salt and pepper to taste to a bowl and whisk together. slowly add the olive oil while whisking, to incorporate and emulsify. once it’s fully blended, set it aside. you can compulsively stir it while you do everything else (like i do) or just leave it be.

i’m sure you sensed a theme in the ingredient list and that is simplicity. i used bagged butter lettuce (cause i’m lazy) and frozen green beans (also, pure laziness). you could certainly buy a head of lettuce and fresh beans and lovingly rinse, dry, chop, steam them…but i’m not gonna. and you can’t make me.

for the potatoes i used some that i had leftover from a dinner earlier in the week. for those i just quartered them and then tossed them with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and thinly sliced garlic then popped them onto a baking sheet for about 30 minutes at 375. easy peasy. when i used them for the salad they were cold, but warm would be ok too.

toss the lettuce, potatoes, and green beans into a bowl. drizzle on the dressing and toss well (don’t use all the dressing at first, you may not even need it all and it will keep in the fridge for a few days). once it’s all combined shave on some romano cheese and then serve. mine was a side dish, but this could be a main dish if you put some sliced chicken (or fish or tofu) on top. enjoy!

also, here is what we’ve been up to lately (according to instagram):

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until next time…

sugar high

obviously this isn’t the first easter that fritz has celebrated, but he was so young for his first (he couldn’t even sit up and we had to prop him to take photos…it was pretty cute actually) that it may as well be.

the lucky little boy ended up with four baskets: one from us, one from nana fritz, one from mom mom fritz, and one from his cousin stella.  in all of those baskets he only ended up with one rice krispies egg, one chocolate bunny, and fruit snacks. so, that was a success! i put pretzels into his eggs because he loves them so much. with the exception of the fruit snacks and a few bites of carrot cake, he actually didn’t have any sweets at all on easter day. yay us!

here are some photos of the day…

4.9 finding an egg

4.9 transfixed

4.9 the blur

easter was very happy this year. we got the chance to spend a lot of time with family and fritz enjoyed every moment of it. at just shy of 18 months he’s growing by leaps and bounds right now…

i hope everyone else had a wonderful holiday!

banana zucchini muffins

about two months ago fritz stopped eating bananas. up to that point they comprised 25% of his entire diet, and maybe that was the issue…he was just over them. i’ve asked why, but he’s being very tight-lipped about his reasoning, so i’d given up trying to include them in his lunches or snack times.

the problem with that is that they are the perfect toddler food. easy to throw in a bag for a snack, cheap, sweet, nutritious…it left me in a bit of a lurch. so, when i found myself with a pile of bananas that were quickly going bad i decided to try and smash together two of the best sweet bread recipes in the world: banana bread and zucchini bread. i prayed he would eat these despite the addition of bananas (he did, and loved them) and that he wouldn’t notice the addition of vegetables (he didn’t). also, i am not renowned for my baking abilities (read: i kinda suck at it) and totally spaced on the addition of an egg…however, they came out great without it, so that’s how i’ve written the recipe. if you’d prefer to add one, i will tell you where below. recipe adapted from this claire robinson recipe.

banana zucchini muffins

(pictured in fritz’s bento box)

3.26.12 bento lunch

  • 5 ripe bananas (the riper the better)
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

preheat the oven to 375.

grate the zucchini on the small side of a box grater. you can leave the skin on for this as it’s so soft. if your kids notice and fleck of green and go running, feel free to peel it.

peel the bananas and place in a large bowl. add sugar to the bananas and mash together until they become a sweet-smelling liquid mess. set aside. heat a pot over medium heat and add the butter. melt and then continue cooking (stirring or swirling often) until it begins to brown and take on a nutty smell. add the banana/sugar mixture and cook for a few minutes until the kitchen smells so good that you want to stick your face in the pot and eat the bananas right then and there. return the banana mixture to the bowl (this is where you’d add the egg—tempering it— if you were so inclined). mix the zucchini and vanilla into the banana mixture.

mix the dry ingredients together and then slowly fold them into the banana mixture. line a muffin tin with paper cups and pour the mixture in until it reaches the top of the cups. bake for 30 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and spring back when poked at with your finger. eat immediately and burn the roof of your mouth. enjoy!

notes: like i said, the egg isn’t necessary here. i totally freaked when i realized i’d forgotten it (while they were in the oven) but they don’t need it at all. they are dense and sweet and delicious. also, you can play with the amount of sugar, but i found that the 1/3 cup agave that the original recipe called for yielded a slightly dry and not very sweet muffin (apologies, claire).

creamy corn pasta with bacon

this dish has been rolling around in my head for a while now. i really wanted to use canned creamed corn in a recipe (don’t ask me why, i can’t even begin to tell you) and once our dear friend jonny gave us some homemade bacon, i knew i had the perfect combination of flavors to pull it off. the prep time for this is minimal, but the “sauce” does have to simmer on the stove for a little while to thicken. plan accordingly.

creamy corn pasta with bacon

creamy corn pasta with bacon

  • 1/2 pound slab or thick cut bacon
  • one bunch (about 6-7) scallions, white and light green portion only
  • 2 cans creamed corn
  • salt
  • one pound rigatoni or other large pasta shape

cut the bacon into chunks or cubes. add this to a large pan over a medium flame. cook this slowly while stirring often, rendering the fat, until it’s crispy. remove the bacon using a slotted spoon and set it aside. remove all but 2 tablespoons of the rendered bacon fat and discard or save for future use (coughfriedeggscough).

cut the scallions into small discs and then add them to the remaining bacon fat. saute for about two minutes until they begin to soften and then add the contents of both cans of corn. bump the heat up slightly and stir occasionally, allowing the mixture to thicken and reduce—about 20-25 minutes. meanwhile, cook the pasta per the package instructions.

grab one cup of pasta cooking water and set aside. add the cooked pasta to the reduced sauce and toss gently adding about 1 cup of pasta water* to loosen the sauce and bring it together with the pasta. add the bacon back in, toss gently, and serve immediately.

notes: fritz really liked this pasta, and was licking the spoon (and his lips) while i was cooking the sauce.  the bacon imparts a really nice saltiness to this dish, and i found that it didn’t need the other flavor i was going to add: goat cheese.

*you are probably wondering why i had you reduce and thicken the sauce just to thin it again. a couple of reasons actually:

  1. reducing the sauce intensifies the flavors of the sweet corn and slightly caramelizes the sugars
  2. using the pasta water helps the sauce stick to the pasta because of the starches in the water

life lately…

…via instagram.

clearly not impressed with whatever was on tv.

clearly not impressed.

concentrating (on pooping).

concentration.

someone found my jewelry box.

someone found my jewelry box.

first skinned knee! (buzz lightyear bandage to the rescue!)

first skinned knee.

hugs for tucker.

hugs for tucker.

diner breakfast for daddy’s birthday!

diner breakfast!

playing peek-a-boo.

playing peek-a-boo

a rare pause during bath time.

a pause during bath time.

 

butternut and apple soup

one day the family fritz visited ikea and found themselves in line waiting for delicious swedish meatballs. then, papa fritz said “i think i’m going to get some soup…”. well, this soup turned out to be a huge hit with both papa and sweet baby fritz. it was a blend of butternut and apple and was creamy and delicious with a sweet pop of flavor. mama fritz decided to recreate it at home, and here is the result…

butternut and apple soup

  • 1 butternut, peeled, halved, and seeded
  • 2 gala apples and one granny smith apple, peeled and cored
  • 1 leek
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • 8 cups water (or vegetable stock)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • salt and pepper

feed the peeled apple and butternut pieces into the shredder of your food processor. alternately you could shred these by hand, but only if you want to look like popeye when you are done. trim and cut the leek in half lengthwise, then run the cut side under water to remove any sand that has accumulated between the leaves. cut into little half moons (you only want the white and light green portions).

heat the butter and oil in a large pot over medium high heat and add the leeks (be sure to dry them or they will pop at you). add some salt to help the leeks release their juices and continue cooking until they soften and become glassy. add the shredded apples and squash  and then add enough water/stock to just cover the vegetables. reduce heat the medium and simmer until everything is very soft and beginning to fall apart.

use the immersion blender to puree the mixture until it is very smooth and add cream, salt, and pepper to taste. taste and adjust seasoning accordingly. enjoy!

notes: vegetable stock is nice in this, but it can be expensive, so i did a mixture of 1/2 stock and 1/2 water. serve this with crusty bread loaded up with butter. yum.

an open letter to fritz | vol. 5

dear fritz,

you are so very busy these days. you never sit still and mama and papa have learned the art of practicing constant vigilance while completing household chores. you find ways to elude us though, and we will catch you in the act of throwing a handful of cat food on the floor, or dipping your mittens into the dogs water bowl 30 seconds before a walk in 32 degree weather. you run almost everywhere now, and hardly ever sit still. the only thing that gets you to pause is the gentle glow if nick jr. namely, the fresh beat band and yo gabba gabba (which you call “gabba”).

the gentle glow of nick jr.

you’ve fully transitioned into toddler food/adult food now, no more purees for you! initially i was thrilled because this meant that i no longer had to make you baby food. then i realized i had to start making you toddler food and the excitement quickly wore off. for the most part you eat like a champ. you will try almost anything, and often shock us with your favorites. (mac and cheese is still on the “no” list, however, “crunchies” – raw broccoli slaw drizzled with rice wine vinegar – is on the “yes” list.) you’ve started using forks and spoons on your own, which is…messy! you love this new found freedom and don’t seem to notice the puddles of yogurt/applesauce/pasta that accumulate on your tray and shirt/head/pants/arms.

mommy let me use the spoon!

i’ve started making you a bento box for breakfast and lunch every day. it’s been a fun and interesting way to introduce new foods to you, and also lets me keep track of how many vegetables you eat every day (an essential part of motherhood). the bento boxes get a lot of comments, and i love how cute and little everything is. your favorite part are the teeny tiny picks/forks that are shaped like animals. you are quite partial to the hot pink giraffe.

3.8.12 bento: an antipasto and sweet fruit exploration

i was a bit of a wreck earlier this month when you had to have minor surgery. they had to put you under general anesthesia and though they told me it would only take 15 minutes, it took over an hour. you were back on your feet within two hours and would not slow down to rest the whole of the first day. i (predictably) handled the situation with less confidence, but once i saw how well you were doing, i calmed down. (a little.) you are well on your way to being completely healed now, and with the all clear from the surgeon, mama is glad that experience is over!

post-op

you’ve started using new words lately. you say “moo” and “baa” for the cows and sheep we look at in picture books. you say “moon” when you want us to read you goodnight moon (your new favorite book). you try to say spoon, though it sounds more like “boon”. you say “me me” when you want me to pick you up, and “mommy” instead of mama. you ask for your “ninny” when you want your pacifier, and you even say “bubby” for bubba, your stuffed teddy bear. you walk to the refrigerator and say “cold” when you want this elmo cold pack that you are obsessed with. (sadly, you chewed through it the other day and elmo had to take a trip in the trash can…ifyouknowwhatimean.

elmo goes bye bye

you weigh almost 30 pounds and are 33″ tall. you are wearing 2t clothes and size 6.5 shoes. so…you are a big kid! we will have to turn the carseats around soon, and get you out of a high chair! now, if you could just work on not throwing your sippy cups, you’ be a big kid in more ways than one!

until next time…

all my love,

mama

pasta with tuna tomato sauce

i first saw this recipe in a giada de laurentiis cookbook about 7 years ago, and was initially repulsed, which is funny to me now since this has become a mainstay of our diet. i have since found out that this is a common dish in italy. this sauce is so good, the tuna really sings here, and is paired perfectly with the tomato sauce. also, it is fast, easy, and is packed with lean protein. but mainly, it’s a nice change of pace from the standard pasta sauce…

pasta with tuna tomato sauce

  • 2 cans tuna packed in olive oil, lightly drained
  • 1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce (we used trader joe’s garlic lovers)
  • 1 pound pasta (any shape you like, really)

cook the pasta per the package instructions.

heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the slightly drained tuna. stir it around to heat it through, but try not to break up the big chunks of tuna. once it is heated, add the sauce and lower the heat to medium or medium low. you are really just looking to heat these and bring the flavors together. once the pasta is done, add it to the pan with the sauce and stir through. serve immediately. enjoy!

notes: fritz loves this. a lot. he loves all pasta, but the kid is partial to fish, so this is a hit. we eat it alongside a nice big green salad and some garlic bread.

panko crusted fish sticks

every kid loves fish sticks. and—though they may deny it— i don’t know a single adult that doesn’t love them as well. they are crispy and delicious and taste great dipped in ketchup. i grew up eating the fish sticks that came from the freezer section, and while there is nothing wrong with them, i knew i could make them the same (or better) myself. the beauty of doing it yourself is that you can add your own seasonings. however, i kept these minimal since fritz was going to be eating them.

panko crusted fish sticks

panko crusted fish sticks

  • 4 filets of tilapia
  • 1.5 – 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • salt and pepper
  • non-stick spray

preheat the oven to 375.

begin by cutting your tilapia filets into fish stick-sized pieces (about the size/shape of an adult forefinger…i know, gross). anyway, once that’s done you will need to set up your breading station which just consists of three bowls in this order: flour (seasoned with salt and pepper to taste—use more than you think you need and add any other seasonings here if you want to use them), beaten eggs, and panko. i recommend using one hand to work with wet ingredients and one for dry, however, i always forget and dunk my flour hand into the egg, so do as i say and not as i do, etc. line a baking/cookie sheet with parchment and lightly spray it with some non-stick spray. then, commence breading by submerging the fish chunks first in flour (knocking off the excess), then egg, and finally panko. line them up neatly on the baking sheet and repeat until they are all done. pop into the oven for about 12-14 minutes (depends on the thickness of your filets, but don’t over cook them) and then sprinkle with a bit of salt.

notes: fritz loves these. he ate 8 of them in one sitting for dinner and then continued to put them away over the course of the next day. big hit. his favorite way to eat them is to dip them in ketchup, then lick off the ketchup, and then eat them once the breading is soggy. hey…we all have our “things”. you could probably freeze these while raw (on a baking sheet so that they freeze flat, then, once frozen put them into a storage bag) and then pop a few into the toaster oven whenever you need them. i haven’t tried this yet, but as i’m typing this i’m wondering why…maybe i will this weekend.