Sunday, January 30, 2011

Potato Gnocchi Recipe

I would like to apologize in advance for the setup of this post.  I put the pictures into Blogger in the wrong order and when I went to move them they got all messed up.  So ... sorry.

Bryson made potato gnocchi for us last night and it was delicious!  The recipe comes from the cookbook he and the kids got me for Mother's Day last year, The Silver Spoon for Children.  Because this is a children's cookbook, some of the steps have you asking for help with hot things.  I'll omit that here since I assume you guys can handle it.

Potato Gnocchi

Serves about 4 people

2 1/4 pounds potatoes
1 extra-large egg
scant 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1.  Using a vegetable peeler, peel the potatoes.

2.  Cut each potato in half.  Then rest the halves cut side down on a board before you cut them in quarters.  Put the potatoes in a colander.

3.  Half-fill a pan with water and put the colander on top.  Cover with a lid, bring up to a boil, and steam the potatoes for 20 minutes.  Cooked like this, the potatoes don't absorb too much water -- you want them to be quite dry to make the gnocchi.

4.  Test to see if they are cooked by poking a fork or skewer into the potato -- the utensil should glide in easily.

5.  Put the potatoes into a bowl and using a potato masher or a ricer, mash until smooth.  Let cool.

6.  Crack the egg into a bowl.  Add the flour and egg to the cooled mashed potato and mix with a wooden spoon.  Then put your hands into the bowl and mix to make a dough.

7.  Sprinkle some flour over your counter, and put the dough onto the flour.  Shape the dough into a big square.  It should be about 1/2 inch thick.  Using a table knife, cut the square in half.  Cut each half of the dough into thin strips -- about 1/2 inch wide.

8.  Roll each strip into a long thin sausage shape with your hands.  Then cut them into small pieces about 1/2 inch long, so you end up with lots of small cylindrical pieces.  It doesn't matter if the pieces of dough are slightly different shapes, but you do want them to be quite even in size so that they take the same amount of time to cook.

9.  In Italy, gnocchi traditionally has a pattern on it.  You can make this pattern by pushing the gnocchi against a grater or the tines of a fork, but you don't have to.  (Bryson didn't.)  Sprinkle some flour over a big plate or baking tray and put the gnocchi on the flour.

10.  Heat a serving dish in a low oven so you can keep your gnocchi warm when they are cooked.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add about 8 pieces of gnocchi, and wait for the gnocchi to rise to the surface of the water.  They are cooked when they come to the top --- this will only take about 1 minute.

11.  Using a slotted spoon lift the gnocchi out of the pan and put into your warm serving dish.  Cook the rest of the gnocchi.  Ladle your sauce on top, and it's ready to eat!

Here's my husband, hard at work.

And the finished product, with sauce!  

It was absolutely delicious!  I have never had gnocchi before, but I sooooo want to have it again very soon!  It was pillowy, potatoey goodness, I tell you!

I will also tell you that though it was quite labor-intensive, made a huge mess, and made way too much for our little family, it was totally worth it!  Also, though it was labor-intensive, the steps themselves were very easy; this was not a difficult recipe to follow.  It just took a little time.

And, though dinner was a little later than usual, we all had a good time.  Even my cook husband who was exceedingly critical of his efforts.

Mollie definitely wanted to try some of the pasta, but I don't think she was quite ready for it.

Baylor, on the other hand, initially balked at the new food but ended up LOVING it!

Mollie's got sass when drinking from her cup, doesn't she?

These pictures were supposed to be up by the recipe, but Blogger is being difficult and I'm a little too tired to fiddle with it.  Needless to say, we enjoyed the gnocchi.  I hope you do, too!

Cheesy Adventure with Mollie

The little lady got her first taste of big people food yesterday!  She decided not to nap and was fussy like she was hungry, so I decided it was time for her to have a proper snack.  At first she was a little skeptical.

But then she kinda got into it and picked up the cheese by herself.

I think she was a little confused about its tearing properties and why it was sticking to her fingers.

She dropped it from a height and it didn't bounce like a ball ... hmm.

She tried it a lot ...

... but she kept making this face and the cheese would slide out onto her bib in a river of drool.

She was happy enough to explore, though.

Aaaand then she decided to put the rest of the cheese on the floor.

And so her first foray into the wonderful world of cheese ended.  I think she liked it well enough; hopefully next time she can figure out how to keep the cheese in her mouth!

Mollie's First Professional Hair Cut

Yeah, she didn't enjoy it much.  Not at first anyways.  She sobbed so hard at one point that I thought she might throw up.  But eventually she calmed down and watched the little video they had going.

There was a lot of cutting to do since I butchered her hair last year, but in the end she was beaming over her new 'do!

Since we were there, Baylor got his hair cut, too!

Finally, the hair was out of her eyes!  Hallelujah!

And Baylor's hair was a little short for my taste, but ultimately it looked really good ... well, before he put his hat on and got hat-head.

And hey, he got a sucker out of the deal!  Not too shabby!

Thank You Note Etiquette

Alright, dear readers, I have a question for you ...

Recently I was at a friend's house for dinner, and she started talking about how she received a note from me in the mail.  Perplexed at first, she thought I might have been ahead of the game for Mollie's birthday and was already sending out invitations.  When she opened the card, though, she found it to be a thank you note for the Christmas gifts she gave the kids.

We all started talking about thank you note etiquette, and my husband and both our friends said that they hadn't had to write thank you notes until they graduated from high school and received graduation gifts.  I was shocked, to say the least.  In my family, we were expected to write thank you notes for every, single gift we received.  Every birthday gift, every Christmas gift, and obviously graduation gifts, shower gifts, and wedding gifts ... each would require a thank you note.

I went to the Emily Post website to figure out who was more in line with what is conventional etiquette, me or my husband and friends.  I was surprised to find out that my family's habits were further from "standard".

So I was wondering, what is your stance on writing and sending thank you notes?  Do you wait for the big occasions?  Send them for every last little thing?  Or somewhere in between?

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Jacques Playlist

My kiddos, particularly Baylor, are all about music these days.  While we play Raffi on a pretty consistent rotation at our house, I like to throw in a bit of non-kid music now and then to try to round out their musical education.

As previously mentioned, Baylor loves my parents' juke box, so I often try to encourage the songs he has fallen in love with there, however "boozy" they may be.  Case in point, the little man loves "All I Wanna Do" by Sheryl Crow, most of which is about drinking in the morning.  Another favorite is Billy Joel's "Piano Man".  We sang that one at the dinner table last night, and I was instantly reminded of how much that song focuses on alcohol and people down on their luck.  I can just imagine him singing along to that one in kindergarten and having people look at me with concerned glances.  That said, it's an awesome song, classic really, and he'll at least be ahead of the curve when it comes time for college.  Right?

It's not all rock and roll around here, though.  A lot of the songs I know come from Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, so I tend to sing those quite frequently as well.  I learned the words to the beginning of "Surrey with the Fringe on Top" (from the musical Oklahoma) while watching When Harry Met Sally, so I have been singing that to the kids every so often.  The other day we went on YouTube and found the video of it from the original movie, and the kiddos finally got to hear the whole song, twangs and all.

And then there is The Sound of Music ... ah, The Sound of Music.  I love that movie, and I can't wait until the kids are old enough to watch it and appreciate it.  Until then, I have been performing this little number for them.

Typically I try to do it without the subtitles (sorry, it was the best version I could find on YouTube).  And, at Baylor's insistence, I skip over Kurt's part; I guess the little man doesn't like my voice at its highest.

Of course, I have picked up a bunch of other offbeat tunes in my twenty-nine years and occasionally they come up when I'm caring for the kids.  When Baylor was a baby, I started singing part of Abba's "Take a Chance on Me" because I'd heard Andy sing it to Angela on The Office.

Since then, that has become one of my signature routines.  *sigh*

And once, in lieu of singing The Itsy Bitsy Spider one more time, I sang "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" for the little man and he was instantly in love with it.  So I, in my infinite wisdom, borrowed an oldies CD from my parents and played it for him so he could hear the whole thing.  As it turns out, he got into the whole CD and for a while it was in heavy rotation in our minivan ... until he decided one day to put coins in my CD player.  I haven't figured out if there are any in there (or if they were just stuck in the opening) and if any lodged in there would damage a CD, but I'm not taking any chances with the little man's favorite tunes.  They'll have to wait for now.

Amazingly, I never sang before they were born; I don't think my husband had ever heard my voice until I started singing for Baylor.  And no, my voice isn't gorgeous by any stretch of the imagination.  But the kids seem to like it, and that's all that matters to me.

Oh, the things we do for our kids, you know?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Games Galore!

After watching an episode of Elmo's World about games, Baylor was itching to play some games himself.  Somewhere along the way he learned about checkerboards and all of a sudden that's what he wanted to play.   So Bryson found one in the basement in a briefcase full of board games, and he brought the whole kit and caboodle up.

The guys went to work setting up the board, Bryson setting up the red pieces and Baylor setting up the white.

Then Bryson explained how the game works.

Baylor was so proud of himself for putting the pieces on just right.

Which is probably why he freaked out when we started moving the pieces.  I'm serious ... the poor kiddo started crying and shaking his head, saying, "No!  No!  No!"  Soooo, checkers was a no-go.

After the crying stopped, he asked to play with "the numbers".

We had no idea how to play this game, but Baylor was really enjoying pointing out the numbers so it was all good.

Bryson read the instructions and tried to teach the game to Baylor, but he just wanted to put the dice on numbers one and two.

Time for another game!  This one was like a weak version of Yahtzee (roll the dice and try to match them up to pictures on the board) and Bryson tried to show Little B proper rolling technique.

Then he explained the rules.

And watched as Baylor went after it with gusto.

Mollie, however, was less than impressed.

As it turns out, Baylor doesn't have quite the attention span necessary for board games yet.

So we headed to the living room to play a little longer before bedtime.

Baylor, rockin' the pants-less look since he spilled applesauce on himself at dinner, enjoyed Mollie's rocking zebra.

Which she later tried to climb on herself.  When she couldn't quite make it onto the seat, she just stood there and rocked a little with her zebra.

It was a good night and a fun foray into the wonderful world of board games!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Share and Share Alike?

Now that Mollie is mobile, she has been more free to express her interests.  And, as it turns out, most of her interests are focused around whatever Baylor is doing or playing with.  Seriously, the girl LOVES her big brother and thinks whatever he has or is doing is the cat's meow.

So when he actually got to play with his new toddler computer away from the bar last week, she took it upon herself to join him.

Bold as can be, she sidled up to him and tried to join in the fun.

Which was, apparently, not fun for him as he started sliding himself and his computer across the floor away from her.

But she was persistent.  Oh yes, she was persistent.

Until she saw the Leap Frog Bubble Wash on the fridge ... that thing mesmerizes her sometimes.

Like a polite little lady, though, she offered to share.

I have told Baylor numerous times since Mollie became mobile, that if he didn't want her to play with him and his things, all he had to do was put himself and his toys where she couldn't reach them.

And, the next day, he actually heeded my advice!

Regardless of whether or not she got to play with the computer, though, she was still happy just to be near him.  I know it probably won't always be like this, so I'm soaking it all in now while I can.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ten Months ... Oh, How It's Flown

The little lady of the house is ten months old today.  Can you believe it?  It has flown by so quickly.  We have one of those first year picture frames with a spot in it for each month.  Here are some of the pictures we took trying to get a photo for that frame.  Enjoy!

 Happy ten month birthday, Amalia!  We love you so much, little girl!