Friday, June 24, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday to Claire!

Happy birthday to my baby! My little one turned one yesterday...ushering her into official toddler-hood, much to my (and Chris') dismay. Wherever did the last year go? Perhaps it's a bit ironic that the first few months of her life, I was wondering how we'd make it to her first birthday...after all, infants require a LOT of energy...yet, now I'm wishing the last year wasn't over.

But enough of the tears and on to more exciting things. This little one certainly enjoyed her first cupcake -- vanilla cake with vanilla icing and purple sprinkles on top -- from our neighbor, Bakeshop ( Yum!

Claire, being a true Oliver, first touched the icing on the cupcake and quickly pulled her hand away because she hasn't really gotten to touch gooey things and didn't seem to enjoy that sensation. But she recovered and eventually dove right in, battering the cupcake back and forth and smashing cake and icing all over her tray. She couldn't eat it until I broke off some pieces for her and, as I expected, she definitely liked it as she demonstrated with big one-tooth grins and shouts of joy. She also eventually realized that when she sucked on her cake-and-icing-coated fingers, they tasted really good! What a great surprise that was!

It's been a great first year having a child -- I cannot wait to see what the next year brings! I'm sure I'll need even more energy than this past year. And I have a feeling that I'll be right back at this computer next year wondering where her second year of life went. See you then.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Fabulous Food Friday: Georgetown Cupcake

I was late on getting into the cupcake craze. I just didn't see what the big deal was. I loved cupcakes and all, but why not just bake a cake? It lasts longer.

So when the now-famous Georgetown Cupcake opened up shop a few years ago, complete with lines around the block, I shook my head. Was a cupcake really worth standing in line for long periods of time? Could those cupcakes really be worth it? Surely this was just a fad spurred on by all the Georgetown college students. (In case you're wondering, Georgetown Cupcake is featured on TLC's DC Cupcakes show.)

I didn't find out what I was missing until a client sent me a dozen cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake as a thank you. Well, getting a thank you like that was something I wasn't about to resist. (Plus, can you imagine my surprise when a box of cupcakes was delivered to my office? I just about fell over in disbelief.)

Ok, so now you're wondering, were they good? Well, no, they weren't good. They were little pieces of heaven. The cakes were moist and flavorful and the icing was swirled on perfectly - they had the right ratio of cake to icing - just enough to put me into a sugar coma. I can't believe I had missed these all those years. What was I thinking?

But I've made up for lost time. When I went out for a walk with a friend, both of us pushing our daughters in strollers, we walked a few miles from Clarendon to Georgetown and ended up at Georgetown Cupcake. I brought home a dozen. Why not, right? Then Chris had his birthday. And Valentine's Day came around. Then our anniversary. My birthday will be here soon enough.

It's hard to pick a few favorite flavors because every cupcake I've tried from there so far has been delightful, but I definitely recommend the ones that have filling in the middle, such as the Lava Fudge. They are especially divine.

I can see why these cupcakes were worth standing in line for (though I've only done that once). But just a note, the shop does make deliveries inside the Beltway, or you can order a day ahead and pick them up in person, bypassing the line. (They also ship if you're out of state.) Now that the weather is  nicer, I have a feeling I'll be strolling towards Georgetown Cupcake again real soon.

Georgetown Cupcake

Two locations: 
3301 M Street NW (corner of 33rd & M)
Washington, DC 20007

4834 Bethesda Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20814

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Move over meat, vegetables are the new star!

I grew up on meat and potatoes so to speak, so the term "vegetarian" was like describing a member of a foreign country. Vegetables were normally just side dishes, not main dishes, in our family.

Well, fast forward just a couple of years (okay, maybe a few more than that), to present day. I wouldn't call myself a vegetarian (I still love meat too much) but I do love vegetables even though they're usually relegated to the side of a meal as an afterthought. After all, I have a husband who when he's hungry, wants to be filled up. Vegetables usually don't fill that void. Claire, on the other hand, is the one member of our family who consumes more than her fair share of them right now.

However, I found a dish that's pleasing to my hungry husband and to me, and that is (gasp!) vegetarian! This "Bombay Vegetable Stew" is quite delicious, nutritious, and plenty filling. The recipe is from a book titled "Feeding Baby Green" by Alan Greene, M.D., which, being a new mom and all, I've been reading since it has a lot of good meal ideas for kids. This is a meal I will eventually make for Claire when she gets a little more used to chunky textures but for now, I'm definitely going to be making this a lot for the adults in this household.

Bombay Vegetable Stew
Courtesy of Alan Greene, M.D., "Feeding Baby Green"

1/2 cup lentils, dried (or 1 cup canned lentils)
1 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. fresh ginger, minced
3 large carrots, diced
1 cup cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 (14.5 oz.) can of diced tomatoes
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
1 cup green peas
1 1/2 cups water (if using canned lentils, include the liquid from the can with the water to equal 2 cups total)
Kosher salt, to taste

In large saucepan, cook the dried lentils according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the onions and garlic until the onions are tender. Add the ginger and stir.

Add the carrots and cauliflower to the onion mixture and continue to cook until the carrots are warm all the way through, but still crisp. Add the tomatoes and curry powder and cook a few minutes more.

Add the lentils, chickpeas, green peas, and water. Simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Turn off heat if you are not serving immediately to prevent the vegetables from becoming mushy. The flavors will intensify and blend beautifully. Reheat briefly before serving.