Dinner’s Served :: Meals For New Parents

While a lot of events from those early days as new parents are now just blurry memories, Mr. Thrasher and I still remember almost every dish our friends brought us during that time. Paul goes as far as claiming that the meal delivery was the best thing about having a new baby. (We won’t tell our daughter.)

Image source: annies-eats.com

As mommy and daddy will worry about feeding baby, good friends and family often offer to feed mommy and daddy. Especially a new mom will need regular, healthy, nutritious food to boost her energy to keep up with the demands of a new baby.

Inspired by never-ending news of pregnancies in our circle of friends and thus many more meals to take to their homes, I thought I’d share some tips on how to ensure that your meal delivery is indeed a blessing.

  • There’s an app for that. You’ll still have to make and deliver your meal but there are a lot of websites available that make scheduling the meal deliveries easy as pie (pun intended). Personally, I’m a fan of Meal Train. It allows you to enter details like preferred drop off time, dietary restrictions and you can save your delivery date into your Google calendar.
  • Use disposable containers. Being a fan of jute bags and hater of paper plates and plastic silverware, I cringe a bit putting this tip on my blog. But I think this is a valid exception as you really don’t want your friends to worry about keeping track of who brought what serverware.

    Don’t forget to include heating/cooking instructions with your dish.

  • Is your meal appropriate? When choosing a recipe or dish to bring consider specific dietary needs, allergies or if your mommy friend is nursing. You may want to avoid any foods that can cause gas for mommy and baby, for example: beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, onions. Look for long-lasting dishes like soups, stews, and curries instead of a mixed salad that will be soggy after a short while. Casseroles may be old-fashioned but they are easy to prepare, heat up and last for several meals. If your friends are from another country or even another state, they might be thrilled to receive a traditional meal that reminds them of home.
  • Make lots of food. We loved it when friends brought enough food for us to enjoy for lunch the following day. So grateful for that extra blessing!

Salad, bread, sides, dessert, beverages, napkins and a snack for later make a complete meal delivery.

  • Make it complete. Add a side (those pre-packaged salad mixes are easy to fix) or a loaf of bread, an after-dinner treat and beverages. If you’re time-strapped and can’t afford to spend hours in the kitchen, think about picking up a pint of ice cream or pre-made fruit salad. And for the beverage, Daddy may enjoy a chilled beer. I know Mr. Thrasher did. Think about treats like cupcakes or cookies that Mommy can enjoy single-handedly while nursing the baby.
  • Make it pretty. Add a special touch by writing a cute card or label the food containers with hand-written stickers and include pretty napkins.
  • When to drop off your meal. Plan on delivering your meal at a time that’s most convenient for the new parents. Call ahead to confirm your ETA. Think about preparing your dish the night before or sign up for a weekend day to bring a meal if your family or work schedule don’t give you much time to cook an extra meal.
  • Don’t linger. Even if your friends don’t say anything or seem to be having a great time, now is not a good time to ask all your questions about their birth story. Keep your visit short. New parents need rest and privacy. And they probably can’t wait to enjoy your meal!
  • Leave the kids at home. This is probably easier said than done. Every new mother/father is different but I remember very well how stressed and overwhelmed I was with the simple task of opening the door for my friends. You don’t want to burden your friends by having your own child running around or possibly spreading germs. Ask your spouse to watch the kids while you make your delivery.
  • Speaking of kids…If you’re cooking meals for adults and kids, make something age-appropriate and check with the parents about food allergies.
Now, off you go and bless your friends, you wonderful person! I can promise you they will be grateful for years and probably tell their offspring beautiful stories about you.

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100 Things To Do Before I Die :: My Bucket List :: Part Two

Make sure to check Part One of my bucket list and come back for Part Three.

Travel (34)

  1. Visit South America (completed)
  2. Visit Asia (Thailand :: completed)
  3. Visit Africa (completed)
  4. Visit Australia (completed)
  5. Visit New England
  6. Visit Florida
  7. Go to a luau in Hawaii
  8. Visit Canada
  9. Drive cross-country
  10. Take the ferry to Sausalito
  11. Stay at a B&B/hotel with ocean view (Thailand :: completed)
  12. Go camping with Griffin and Emma
  13. Visit Neuschwanstein (Germany)
  14. Fly First Class (completed)
  15. Ride a train in California
  16. Eat a croissant in Paris
  17. Sail (half)around the world (High Seas High School project :: completed)
  18. Go on a cruise (completed 2007)
  19. Cross the Equator in a ship and get equator-baptized (completed)
  20. Sleep in a rain forest (Equador :: completed)
  21. Snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef
  22. Attend Loy Krathong, the sky lantern festival in Thailand (completed)
  23. Visit the Oracle Of Delphi, Greece (completed)
  24. Gamble in Las Vegas
  25. Attend a wedding in a foreign country (America doesn’t count, it’s my home)
  26. Have a romantic getaway at an exotic location
  27. See the Statue of Liberty (completed)
  28. Go to the top of the Empire State Building
  29. See a performance at the Sydney Opera House (completed)
  30. See the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace
  31. Hear Big Ben ring (in real life)
  32. See the Grand Canyon
  33. Visit New Orleans
  34. Go on a girls-only getaway

Sports (7)

  1. Learn to snowboard (completed)
  2. Learn to surf
  3. Sail the bay (completed)
  4. Go white water rafting (completed)
  5. Play beach volleyball with professional players (completed)
  6. Shoot a gun at a shooting range
  7. Go horse riding on a beach

What fun things are on your bucket list?

Delicious Bacteria :: Review + Giveaway

Yo, yo, yogurt. (I just had to do it.) Check out my latest review and giveaway of the new Activia Selects Greek and French yogurt on SIMPLE. My tastiest review by far.

Our fridge pretty much overflows with Activia yogurt products: From Activia Light (Vanilla is my favorite flavor) to Activia Selects Parfait to the new Greek and French yogurts. The Activia Select Parfaits were first introduced when I was pregnant last year. Oh, how thrilled I was to get my favorite yogurt mixed with a bit of crunchy granola. Those little cups were the perfect snack: Tasty, healthy, convenient and way cheaper than grabbing a parfait-to-go at Starbucks. Read more on SIMPLE

The Crock Pot :: My Husband’s Favorite Kitchen Gadget :: BBQ Ribs

It’s time to make my husband happy. Tonight he’s gettin’ some…Not what you think, you naughty little thing! I’m making BBQ ribs for him. In the crock pot. Cooking with my crock pot (or slow cooker) makes me feel so housewife-y. And as you know, I really enjoy that.

What's for dinner, darling?

A while ago, I found this new brand at Safeway – ‘Open Nature‘ – and have been buying those meat products whenever I couldn’t find organic meat. Guess who was pretty pleased when finding Open Nature spare ribs on sale?

We all know the “natural” label is ambiguous, overused and even abused, but Safeway strives to be transparent, specifying four criteria: Raised without antibiotics, No added hormones, Fed an all-vegetarian diet and No artificial preservatives. ~ Source: refresh.com

Now, be a good wife, bookmark this recipe and make your man happy. He’ll be grateful. I promise.

Ingredients

  • Rack of spare ribs
  • Large bottle of BBQ sauce (I’m a busy SAHM, I have no time to make everything from scratch. Don’t judge!)
  • Apple sauce (unsweetened)
  • White mushrooms, sliced

Directions

  • Wash potatoes, quarter the potatoes (I never peel potatoes) and throw in crock pot. They should cover the bottom of the pot.
  • Clean ribs from fat, cut to fit pot and put on top of potatoes.
  • Pour a bit of apple sauce over everything.
  • Pour lots of BBQ sauce over everything.
  • Set timer for 8 hours on ‘low heat’.
  • The BBQ and apple sauce turn into a soup-like consistency. So an hour or so before the time runs out, I discard of the watery BBQ sauce and refill the pot with more BBQ sauce.
  • Add mushrooms to crock pot.
  • The meat is probably totally done and ready to enjoy by now. Depending on when your hubby gets home, you can serve the deliciousness.
  • Try artisan bread or corn on the cob with Basil Garlic Butter as a side.

Emma’s Dedication :: The Reception

(I’d like to dedicate (ha, get it) this post to our dear friends and family who joined us in celebrating Emma’s day. Especially, Paul’s family who hailed all the way from SoCal. I just wished my family could have been there.)

As promised, here’s more about Emma’s dedication. This is the reception post (or ‘after party’ like Paul called it), you can read all about the church ceremony here.

Now that I’m a mother, I can finally use my child as an excuse to host parties and craft all this cute decor stuff that I used to design for my business, Wishcraft Design.

As much as we would have loved to have more friends join us for the ‘after party’ at our house, we had to keep this celebration small for budget reasons. Speaking of which, I’m proud to announce that I managed to only go $30 over budget. (Which is a HUGE success for me. Not too long ago, I didn’t even set myself a budget for occasions like these. Yet alone ask Mr. Thrasher for his opinion on the budget.)

I’ll let the pictures do the talking first. And then I’ll share the menu and sources with you. Oh, and if you like what you see, feel free to share, post, tweet or comment.

A bright and cheery color palette and tasty food made for a fun dessert table.

Supporting local small businesses is always fun and I’ll try to do that whenever possible. These mini cupcakes came from Mission Minis. I scored a Plum District coupon and saved it for almost a year just so I could redeem it for Emma’s special day.

Mini cupcakes are just too cute (and tasty) to not be part of a dessert table.

One of my favorite recent ‘party equipment’ purchases: 20 white coffee mugs ‘Fargrik‘ and silverware ‘Dragon‘ from IKEA. At only $.99 a pop for the coffee mugs, I am pretty excited about this eco-friendly and posh alternative to plastic silverware, paper cups (I only got a few for the cold drinks) or even worse styrofoam (is anyone really still buying these?). I mean, it wasn’t smart if I was only using these for one event but I know there will be plenty of occasions where I’ll be able to put them to use. And before I know it they will be amortized and I’ll never have to buy paper cups or plastic silverware again.

The coffee bar with my brand spanking new coffee mugs.

Food & Beverages:

Strawberry Cake (Safeway)
Yellow Cake with Marzipan (homemade)
Carrot Cake (Trader Joe’s)
Mini Cupcakes (Mission Minis, San Francisco)
Cake Pops (homemade – recipe to follow)
Almond Ring Danish (Trader Joe’s)
Macaroons (Whole Foods)
Mini Chocolate Bars (Trader Joe’s)
M&Ms
Coffee (w/Half & Half, Milk)
Organic Pink Lemonade (Trader Joe’s)
Izze Orange Soda (next time, I’ll get glass bottles, promise)
San Pellegrino

Serverware, Party Decor & Craft Materials:

Pink paper plates, paper cups and napkins (Party City)
Vellum paper, scrapbook paper, round craft punch (Paper Source, Michaels)
Orange paper straws (Amazon.com)
Coffee mugs (IKEA)
Silverware (IKEA)
Glass milk bottles (Bed, Bath & Beyond – no longer available)
Vintage coffee thermos pot (gift from MIL who never used it)
Beverage tub and stand (Target – no longer available)
Various cake stands and platters (Ross, T.J. Maxx, Costco) 

Now, off to gathering ideas and inspiration for Emma’s first birthday party. I’m thinking Red and Aqua and Penguins.

 

Hot Crab Dip

Photo: Kraft

 

 

 

 

 

And here’s what’s for dinner tonight: Hot Crab Dip based on this recipe by the lovely Paula “Ya’ll-need-to-add-at-least-three-sticks-of-butter-to make-it-taste-reeeaaal-good” Deen.

Ingredients

  • Crabmeat from Trader Joe’s (You could get it somewhere else but I think you should buy it at TJ’s.)
  • Lots of mayonnaise
  • Couple of dollops of sour cream
  • A bit of cream cheese
  • Heaps of grated Parmesan
  • Some minced onions – green, white or red
  • Half a red bell pepper
  • Some garlic based on how smelly you want to be later
  • A tad bit of Worcestershire sauce
  • A bit more lemon or lime juice
  • A bit less hot sauce
  • A dash of dry mustard
  • Salt and pepper to your liking (I have to defer to Trader Joe’s again: they have this new delicious Lemon Pepper. Perfect.)
  • Some grated Asagio cheese
Directions
  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Finely chop garlic, onions and bell pepper and saute in frying pan with a bit of olive oil.
  • Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir until thoroughly mixed. Scoop the mix in a casserole dish and sprinkle with grated Asagio cheese.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes.
  • Serve hot with fresh toasted artisan bread.
Delicious!

Basil Garlic Butter

Inspired by one of my new favorite food blogs Love and Olive Oil, I thought I’d join Lindsay for “Basil Week”. Also, my organic basil plant has been growing like weed and wanted to be used.

Photo: Organic Spark

This is not a fancy culinary adventure. This is a simple, easy, quick recipe for a delicious (bread) spread. Since I use recipes for inspiration only and never follow the measurements, you won’t find exact measurements in this recipe below either.

  • Melt unsalted butter so it’s soft enough to be mixed with the other ingredients.
  • Finely chop a bunch of fresh basil leaves.
  • Press or mince garlic cloves.
  • Mix everything in a bowl.
  • Add a few grains of coarse sea salt and ground pepper.
  • Put in freezer or fridge until firm.
  • Serve with toasted fresh artisan bread or add to pasta, seafood dishes and veggies. Oh, heck, use for everything you can think of.

Orange Capiz & Turquoise Napkin Ring :: Table Decor

I’m still totally obsessed with the color palette for Emma’s nursery and DIY birth announcements. So it’s only natural that I had to share these with you. Aren’t these pretty?

Orange Capiz & Turquoise Napkin Ring available at Pier 1 Imports

Available at Pier 1 Imports on sale for $5.56 each.

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar :: Food Porn

So, um, I found a new addiction. A brand-spanking new item at my favorite grocery store – Trader Joe’s.

Trader Joe's amazing Dark Chocolate Caramel with Black Sea Salt (left side)

Here’s how I made my decision to purchase a bar of Trader Joe’s new Dark Chocolate Caramel with Black Sea Salt bar: I loved the package design. Yeah, that’s how I shop. Then I saw the price – $1.99. Deal, done.

The chocolate itself is wrapped in aluminum foil. After I took my fist bite, I knew why: The caramel filling is soft and liquid-y. None of that crunchy-I-just-broke-a-piece-of-tooth kind of caramel. More like Dulce De Leche. The dark chocolate is pretty thin and therefore not too overwhelming. The caramel has just the right pinch of black sea salt complementing its sweetness.

Needless to say, I devoured the whole bar within seconds. With saliva drooling down my mouth I ran to the next Trader Joe’s to get more. “What do you mean ‘sold out’? Sir, you’re playing with your life!”. I guess the secret new item was no longer a secret. Dang it!

I suppose I’ll have to drive to another store on the hunt for more Dark Chocolate Caramel with Black Sea Salt. With a price of only $1.99 for exquisite candy I’ll make sure to buy a case for our pantry. Just won’t tell my DH…’cause I ain’t gonna share!

My Friend Joe. Trader Joe.

I heart Trader Joe’s. I did not realize how much I loved it until I recently discovered and fell in love (again) with the following food items.

By the way, all of these are new-mom-proof which means, they are affordable, quick’n'easy to prepare, tasty and can even suffice to impress dinner guests or your hardworking husband.

Best prepared in a frying pan for longer than indicated on the bag.

  • Mandarin Orange Chicken: Certainly better than the Chinese take out you can get in my neighborhood. The orange sauce is not sweet, the chicken is tender with a crispy breading, and with its prep/cook time of less than 20 minutes total (if you make rice as a side), it’s one of our all-time favorite family meals. Since my husband loves it too, it can happen that I serve that dish twice in one week.

Probably my favorite frozen dinner entree.

  • BBQ Chicken Teriyaki: I was so surprised about the taste and that dark chicken meat could be so delicious. The prep is even easier. Nuke for 4 minutes. Heat sauce separately in microwave for 30 sec. Mix. Done. Serve with rice. And steamed green beans.
  • Fresh Field Salad w/Grilled Chicken, Israeli Couscous, Currants, Bell Pepper and Asagio Cheese: The dressing is the best! Unfortunately, TJ’s doesn’t sell it separately. Crunchy and filling enough for a healthy lunch.
  • Uncooked Chicken Sausage w/Tomatoes and Asagio Cheese: I usually do not like Italian sausages. The worst is pizza with Italian sausage. But I like these ones. They got some spice to it, too.

Best caramel sauce I've ever had. I may like it even more than Dulce De Leche.

  • Fleur De Sel Caramel Sauce: Best. Caramel. Sauce. Ever. There is no coarse sea salt here, but there is a noticeable amount of salt in the caramel and the contrast of sweet and salty will definitely make your mouth water. That sauce can be used for anything: ice cream sundaes, I added it to my German Apfel Streuselkuchen, as a bagel spread on top of creme cheese, fruit salad, pancakes, and much more, I’m sure.

I could eat this for breakfast.

  • Soy Creamy Cherry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream: Yummy. So good. I love marzipan and somehow the taste of this ice cream reminds me of marzipan. The contrast between the cherries (big chunks) and chocolate chips is divine.

Oh well, all this food porn made me hungry. I better quickly finish last night’s leftovers – chicken sausage and salad as noted above – before Emma wakes up.