Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Roasted Haricots Verts

Do you ever just get really, really, really sick of veggies? I’ll be honest: I do. Consequently, I’m always trying to prepare them in new and different ways. One of my favorite tricks to reinvent a tired old standard is roasting. Sunday night I whipped up these French green beans to serve alongside pasta. I was floored at how scrumptious they were. S actually described them as “desserty”! G and Q? Wouldn’t touch them. C’est la vie.

Roasted Haricots Verts

1 lb haricots verts

1 tablespoon sunflower oil

½ teaspoon onion powder

Salt and pepper to taste

½ tablespoon butter

2 teaspoons nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon ground flax seeds

1. 1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. 2. Clean haricots verts, removing ends. Dry thoroughly and place in a roasting pan.

3. 3. Drizzle beans with the sunflower oil, then sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and onion powder. Toss to coat.

4. 4. Roast for approximately 15 minutes or until slightly golden (and a little wrinkled!) and fork tender.

5. 5. Remove the beans from the oven and toss with the butter, nutritional yeast and flax seeds.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rockie Road Brownies

While I claim to be a super-healthy eater, the fact is I've got a serious sweet tooth. I eat something desserty every day. But these brownies? They are not an everyday dessert. They are so rich, so ridiculously decadent, that they are a once-every-couple-of-years dessert. Or, as was the case this past Saturday, a "I'm hormonal and hated today" dessert.

Rockie Road Brownies
Serves 12

1/2 c. butter
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 c. flour
3/4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 t. vanilla

1/2 c. chopped peanuts
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2/ c. mini marshmallows

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9" square pan.
2. In a sauce pan, melt butter and chocolate over low heat. Set aside to cool.
3. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.
4. Beat eggs until light; add sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until mixture is thick. Add vanilla.
5. Gradually add chocolate mixture to eggs, then stir in dry ingredients.
6. Spread mixture evenly in the buttered pan, and bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until the edges pull away from the side of the pan.
7. Remove the brownies from the oven and sprinkle peanuts, chocolate chips, and marshmallows over the top. Bake 8 - 10 minutes more until marshmallows are lightly browned (if you like your marshmallows on the darker side, try turning on the broiler for the last minute or so).


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

CSA Supper: Zucchini & Tomato Pie

For the last month our kitchen has been overrun with tomatoes and zucchini. I've frozen I don't know how many loaves of zucchini bread, and we've canned at least three dozen jars of tomatoes, pasta sauce, etc. But those darned zucchinis and tomatoes just keep coming via our weekly farm share and our own garden. In the spirit of 'waste not, want not', I'm trying my best to use them up...but my enthusiasm and creativity are waning.

This zucchini and tomato pie is always my end-of-summer savior. It's dead easy (as Jamie O. would say) and super-fast to throw together. Plus, it always yields leftovers. I even baked this one over the weekend, then just reheated it (which was extra nice since I've been waist-deep in baby food and laundry for the last three days...CANNOT get caught up on either). Throw in a simple salad and frosty beer, and my day just got a whole lot better.

Zucchini and Tomato Pie
Serves 6

2 cups zucchini, diced
1 cup tomato, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 organic baking mix (or Bisquick)
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup Parmesan
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees; grease a 10" pie plate.
  2. Spread diced zucchini, tomato, and onion in the bottom of the pie plate.
  3. Beat remaining ingredients until smooth, then pour into pie plate.
  4. Bake until knife comes out clean (about 30 minutes), then remove from oven and top pie with the two cheeses.
  5. Turn on the broiler; place pie under the broiler until cheese is melted and golden brown.
  6. Cool 5 minutes before serving.
(Recipe adapted from an ancient Bisquick recipe book that my mom probably pulled out of the Good Housekeeping back in the '80s. If you can get your hands on one, it's a treasure trove of deliciousness!)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Reading List

I haven't really read at all for the last six weeks. Now that I'm "working" (ha!ha!) again, the little bit of free time I previously had to read is now spent on Stella & Dot stuff. But when I'm not reading I get cranky. I feel like it's so important to continue to make time for the things that are really, really important to me--that really define who I am (cooking, reading)--despite how crazy it gets around here so that I don't lose myself. So my goal is to finish this stack of books by then end of October:

  • On my Kindle...I must finish Misguided Angel, the fifth installment of the Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz, because the sixth, and final book, comes out TOMORROW! If you haven't read this series, but dig the vampire/YA genre like I do, I highly recommend it. It's really the smartest, most well-written of the bunch (more on that to come).
  • Hardy Boys #1...I'm in the mood for a serial mystery, and I've read all my Nancy Drews. Now that I'm collecting HB for G/Q, I figure I may as check them out.
  • The Poe Shadow, by Matthew Pearl...set around the suspicious demise of Edgar Allen Poe, this book seems like a perfect Halloween-y read.
  • Birth Matters, by Ina May Gaskin...no, I'm not pregnant again--just chronically interested in the subject. My neighbor lent me this book last week after a convo about her upcoming book of poetry segued into me telling her about my birth experience (it made sense at the time, trust me). I know this book will only fuel the murderous fire of rage I already feel about the maternity system in this country, but c'est la vie.
What's on your nightstand?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pumpkins Pretties

The lads and I went to pick out some pumpkins yesterday, so I thought
I'd share a few snaps of the gorgeous options we had to chose from...

I took me about an hour to decide which ones to bring home.

The funkier they looked, the more I like them!

This might be the fall I get brave enough to make a real pumpkin pie.

I loved these giant white pumpkins, but they were $50 each.

Zits on your face = awful. Zits on pumpkins = awesome.

Pumpkin preciousness!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Operation Retro Rec Room: Storage

We’re planning to roughly finish off part of our basement this fall to make a playroom for G/Q. Of course—me being me—I’m having visions of midcentury rec room awesomeness. Here’s my inspiration room:

Sorry for the crappy screenshot, but the owner of this Flicker set has turned off the download feature (booooo!). You can see the room better here. Brick red + olive + touches of yellow? Swoon.

We want to keep lots of open space for romping, but also make it functional with lots of storage and room for us to hang out, too. As usual, our budget is pretty minimal for this project (S—do we even have a budget?). I’ve been dreaming of having it tricked out with some Ikea Expedit storage units, but I know by the time we order them/drive to Philly or NJ to pick one up (sadly, we have no Ikea in Upstate NY), it wouldn’t financially make sense.

Then, lo and behold, on a random trip to see what was left at our Kmart (it’s closing), I find this fixture on sale for $80!

I like the light woodgrain finish on the outside, but will probably paint the inside with a pop of color, then finish it off with some baskets/bins for toy storage.

Have you bought store fixtures before? We had great luck buying some shelving/slat wall for our garage when our Steve and Barry’s closed a few years back.

Stay tuned for more updates on Operation Retro Rec Room!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Whiskey and Sage Cream Sauce

Usually this time of year we head to our favorite restaurant, Hazelnut Kitchen, for their sublime butternut squash ravioli…but, you know, the kiddos make it a wee bit harder to just pop out to dinner. My taste buds, however, don’t understand that. They sense fall in the air, and they want creamy/buttery/squashy/sagey. And they want it RIGHT NOW. So that leaves me with one choice: Make the ravioli at home.

But here’s the problem…dough terrifies me. I’ve failed miserably at all previous dough-making attempts. I know every fall magazine/cooking show for the last several years has had a piece on how e-a-s-y it is to make your own squash ravioli, but the thought strikes mortal fear into my heart. And using wonton wrappers? Something about that just seems not right.

So what’s a squash-craving, dough-fearing girl like me to do? Buy frozen butternut squash ravioli and dress it up with an amazing sauce, that’s what. Thank you, Rosetti ravioli for saving me from another dough-FAIL-induced meltdown.

Whiskey and Sage Cream Sauce

2 tablespoons of butter

1 medium onion, finely diced

½ teaspoon dried sage (I wanted to use fresh, but I forgot it and no way was I running back to Wegmans on a Sunday afternoon!)

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup organic half-and-half

1 teaspoon whiskey (I used Maker’s Mark)

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons toasted, chopped pecans

  1. Melt butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add diced onions, a pinch of s&p, then cover to let onions sweat about 3 minutes. Uncover, reduce heat to medium-low and sautee until onions are lightly caramelized (about 10 minutes).
  2. While onions are caramelizing, add pecans to a skillet over low heat. Toast the nuts until they are browned and fragrant (about 5 minutes…watch them because they will go from perfect to burned very quickly).
  3. Add sage and garlic powder to caramelized onions. Let cook about 2 minutes until spices are incorporated into onion mixture.
  4. Stir in the whisky and half-and-half. Add another pinch of s&p. Bring to a slow simmer, then let cook about 10 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened and coats the back of a spoon.
  5. Add the cooked ravioli to the sauce and toss.
  6. Sprinkle ravioli with toasted pecans (and some parmesan shavings if you’re so inclined…we didn’t think it was needed) to serve.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Finger Foods

For the last month or so, the lads are wanting to feed themselves more and more, which is so sweet, but it makes it harder to ensure they are getting balanced, full meals. I liked the consistency of seeing an empty bowl at the end of every mealtime versus a semi-empty tray that gives no indication whether the food went into their tummies or Zelda's.

I've been trying to think out of the box about fingers foods, so I thought I'd share some of our current favorites (FYI...we're still having super porridge for breakfast and a yogurt-based lunch, so these items are used as add-ons, snacks, or sometimes even dinner):
  • Pieces of Applegate Farms yogurt cheese slices or Wegman's/Applegate Farms organic chicken and turkey
  • Roasted broccoli (1 bag frozen organic broccoli florets, tossed with 1 T. sunflower oil and pinch of sea salt and pepper, roasted at 425 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until really fork-tender)
  • Ricotta spelt pancakes and pumpkin spelt waffles
  • Dollops of Dr. Weil's white bean spread (I halve the amount of salt and use dried basil instead of pesto)
  • Raisins or diced dried apricots
  • Toasted Ezekiel bread with a light schmear of almond butter
  • Carrot cream cheese sandwiches (Shred 3 medium carrots, then blend with one 8 oz package of organic cream cheese, 1/2 cup chopped golden raisins, and 2 T. sprouted sunflower seeds)
  • Diced tomato, peaches, plum, kiwi, sweet potato, or sliced grapes or berries
  • Hard-boiled egg (chopped)
  • GoRaw Live Pumpkin bar (finely chopped)
  • Wild Wood SpouTofu veggie burger
  • And, of course, lots and lots Happy Baby puffs, munchies and MumMums (when in doubt, they are always a hit, right?)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Super Porridge

Starting solids was one part of parenting that I was the most excited/nervous about. Food is such a central part of our lives that I wanted give the boys an introduction that would make them love mealtimes as much as S and I do. Plus I had all this guilt about my low milk supply/milk drying up at 5 months/blah, blah, blah that I wanted to start G and Q off with as diverse a diet as possible to help make up for the nutrition (I felt) they weren't getting from me.

Enter Super Baby Food. My bff M recommended I check it out, and since her word is always gospel for me, I immediately ran out to buy it. The concept behind the book is feeding your baby whole, natural, homemade foods from the start to help maximize their nutritional intake and use food to build a robust immune system. The basis of the diet is a whole grain cereal, dubbed 'super porridge'. (By the way, I love the phrase 'super porridge'. It takes something so mundane--hot cereal--and elevates it. It's not just 'oatmeal' or 'Cream of Wheat' any longer; it's SUPER PORRIDGE. Who doesn't want to eat something that sounds like the breakfast of a superhero?)

But I'll admit it: I was a bit apprehensive about embarking on milling and mixing my own grains. I kept putting it off, opting instead to feed the boys a mix of Earth's Best rice and Happy Baby oatmeal cereals until they were 7 months old. And then one day I intrepidly entered the bulk foods at Wegmans and starting scooping organic grains and seeds into bags.

I brought them home convinced that my pathetic little blender would never be able to grind them up; but to my amazement, it whizzed them up with aplomb. "Take that!" the blender seemed to growl as it dug into the steel cut oats.

Less then 10 minutes later, I had a 1/2 gallon jar full of gorgeous, nutritious baby cereal. But the question remained: would G and Q actually eat it...?

The next morning I nervously cooked up my first batch, mixing in some nutritional yeast and a little pureed sweet potato as the book suggested. I apprehensively sat before G (he always eats first...no reason why) and very warily approached his lips with the porridge. He opened his sweet little mouth, closed his lips around the spoon, and his eyes widened. "MMMMMmmmmmmm! MMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmm!!!" He liked it! He really liked it! And Q liked it, too!

In fact, S and I even liked it. We're now a family of super porridge devotees. The boys eat it (almost) every morning, while S and I have it a few days a week. It's incredibly versatile, filling, and easy. I love that I can cook a big batch and just reheat individual portions*, which means each family member can customize their cereal with the toppings they like best. Probably the most super thing about it? It's ridiculously cheap. I fill that enormous 1/2 gallon jar for approximately the same cost as one 7 oz. can of Happy Baby cereal (I've included some cost information below based on what I pay for organic bulk grains at Wegmans), and it lasts almost twice as long as store-bought cereal.

G/Q's Favorite Super Porridge**
1/2 lb ground steel cut oats, $1.00
1/2 lb pearled barley, $1.25
1/2 lb mulled millet, $1.21
1/3 lb oat bran, $.66
Total: $4.12

1/2 lb nutritional yeast, $3.03
1/4 lb pumpkin seeds, $1.20
1/4 lb flax seeds, $.57

1. Using a blender, grind each grain separately using the 'Grind' or 'Mill' setting. For babies just beginning cereal, grind grain(s) until they are a soft, powdery texture; for more advanced babies, grind just until grains reach a coarse, sandy texture (as seen in the photo above).
2. After each grain is ground, pour into a mixing bowl. Once all grains have been added, add the oat bran and stir until well mixed. Pour the mixture into an air-tight container (preferably glass) and store in a cool, dark location since bugs love organic grains (I keep mine in the fridge).
3. Bring 1 cup of water to boil in a medium saucepan. Slowly whisk in 1/3 cup of porridge mixture. Reduce heat to medium low, stirring often and cooking porridge for 10 minutes.***
4. For beginning eaters, serve cereal plain or with one food serving and a 1/4 teaspoon of nutritional yeast. For advanced eaters, combine one fruit serving and one vegetable serving along with a 1/2 teaspoon of nutritional yeast and some ground seeds. Every other day, serve super porridge with a hard-boiled egg yolk.

*I reheat the porridge in the microwave for about 45 seconds.
**Once you have the grinding/cooking technique down, it's really easy to vary your porridge. For example, I've also made one with brown rice, lentils and quinoa. For beginning eaters, you'll want to stick with just one grain, most likely brown rice or oatmeal.
***This was the quantity I made when the boys were 7 months old and were eating a tablespoon or two of cereal per morning. This batch lasted 3 or 4 days in the fridge. I now double this amount, since they each eat 1/4 cup per morning and it still lasts 3 or 4 days.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What's Old is New Again

I love the transformative power of accessories. The way a statement-making necklace can take wardrobe staples and dress them up (or down). The way a belt can change the shape of a jacket or dress, giving those items new life (and the illusion that you have the tiniest of waists (not possible anymore post-twins, believe me)). Accessories are, to me, miraculous. And even though I now go days at a time and don't even leave my house, I'm still amazed at how much better--more confident, more happy, more ME--I feel on the days I take the time to throw on a pair of earrings or a stack of bracelets. (That's right, I'm saying I'm a better mother when I accessorize.)

Take this outfit I wore last Friday to a lunch date with a friend. Each of the pieces of clothing are so basic. I've also owned them forever (the shoes are the newest, but were purchased two years ago). But by layering on some of the pieces from the Stella & Dot Fall 2011 collection, and a vintage belt and bag, the clothes felt new again. I felt fresh. And pretty (and that never happens anymore).

The lunch, the dressing up, the feeling of being out-and-about midday sans double stroller was a rare treat, and I reveled in it. I left the house feeling tired and disgruntled and came home ready to tackle dishes, dirty diapers, and five days as a single mom while S headed off on a fishing trip. If that's not some kind of transformation, I don't know what is.

wearing: old navy vest, target tank, vintage silk skirt, dolce vita sandals, S&D soiree studs, S&D soiree trio ring, S&D graceful nomad necklace, vintage bag, vintage belt.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

CSA Supper: Swiss Chard with Garbanzo Beans and Tomatoes

It's around this point every summer where my enthusiasm for the copious amount of greens we get each week in our farm share starts to wane. Those giant bags of kale and chard become less of a blessing and more of a curse. I feel obligated to take them, but the idea of eating them braised, steamed, tossed with a vinaigrette, etc., honestly makes me gag a little. It's too much of a good thing, if you will.

That's why last week I did a little nosing around on the 'nets for some inspiration to get me through the next 12 weeks of farm pick-ups. I came across this recipe on AllRecipes.com and loved the sound of it because I'm trying more and more to make dinners that all four of us can eat. G and Q love chard and chick peas, so with a little alteration, this meal was perfect!

I think this recipe was intended as a side dish, but to make it a complete dinner, I increased the amount of beans and served ours over Wegmans Golden Jewel Blend, a mix of Israeli couscous, mini-garbanzo beans, orzo, and red quinoa. The lads had their's with sprouted white quinoa. We all had grilled asparagus on the side. (Oh yeah...and S and I had a glass of Malbec rose.)

Swiss Chard with Garbanzo Beans and Tomatoes
serves 4 (or 2 adults and 2 babies*, with some leftover for the hubby's lunch the next day!)

2 T. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 16 oz. can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 large bunch of Swiss chard, cleaned and sliced into ribbons
1 large tomato, sliced
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt & pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat.
2. Add onion and cook until translucent, approximately 5 minutes.
3. Pour in the garbanzo beans and season with salt and pepper.
4. Layer the chard ribbons over the bean and onion mixture, top with the tomato slices, and season with more salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover the pan, cooking until the chard has wilted.
5. Once the chard has wilted, juice the lemon over the top. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Baby version:
Once the chard has wilted, remove 1 cup of the chard/bean/onion mixture from the pan and transfer it into a food processor or food mill. Add one tomato slice. Puree to the consistency to which your baby is comfortable. I decided to leave out the lemon juice since this was our first experience with tomato (two new foods at once seemed risky). I was also pretty light on the s&p until I removed the babies' portion.

*We follow the Super Baby Food diet, which says it's safe to eat cooked onion, greens and beans at 9 months and tomato and citrus at 12 months.

Monday, August 15, 2011

1st Birthday Party, G/Q-style (part 1)

We loved these whale invites from Tiny Prints. They perfectly
coordinated with our theme. We're big DIY-entertainers,
but I'm a stickler for nice printed materials.

I was ridiculously excited about making these decorations.
I'm not crafty at all, but give me some crepe paper, paper
lanterns, curling ribbon and a hot glue gun, and somehow
I'll give you a giant octopus and a jellyfish garland!

Ms. Octo is ready for her close-up.

I thought the jellies had the sweetest faces!

My dad thought everyone should have to
"swim" through the tent.

This is the pool I bought to soak in while pregnant last
summer, now with MUCH cuter contents: an inflatable
octopus from Pottery Barn Kids and whale and beach
balls from the dollar store.

Our centerpieces were cheapo bubble bowls from AC Moore,
filled with Rhode Island sand from vacation and our tub toys.

I had the most fun making these octopus party hats out of
paper plates and ribbon. I knew it was doubtful
that the babies
would keep them on, but the idea was
too cute not to attempt!

Party hats and high chairs waiting for the guests of honor.

We used sand buckets scored for $1 each at
Christmas Tree Shops to hold favors.

I gussied them up with a resin sand dollar
and personalized tag.

My mom used these felt banners at my shower last summer,
and I thought it would be a nice tradition to hang them every
year on the boys' birthday.

We spread a beach blanket as a hangout
for all the babies in attendance.

I'm sooooooo ready to get my party on!

Stay tuned for more details from the bash!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Arm Party

Having babies has seriously cramped my accessorizing. I'm not complaining. I'm happier spending every day in grubby shorts and t-shirts than I ever was getting all dolled up to go sit in an office every day. But sometimes a girl just needs a little bling...bling that can't be hauled on by curious baby-hands. Hence my current obsession with the arm party. Since I can no longer wear my beloved dangley earrings or giant necklaces, why not throw on a massive pile of bracelets?

Sunday Morning arm party

Walk like an Egyptian arm party
Stella & Dot Renegade Cluster bracelet
Bermuda and Cape Cod bracelets
Vintage scarab bracelet and enamel cuff

Super Shiny arm party
Stella & Dot Devi bangles in silver
Stella & Dot Corso cuff
Bermuda and Cape Cod bracelets
Vintage Sarah Coventry bracelet

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A letter to myself.

37 weeks , August 4, 2010

Dear Me:

I know what you're doing...you're sitting in bed, watching Twilight in a feeble attempt to distract yourself from the dread that's making your heart so heavy you think it might suffocate you and the babies. You're feeling like before your tenure as a mother has even begun, you've already failed. Failed because your c-section was scheduled and instead of being so excited to meet those two little guys you've grown, you're terrified. Failed because despite every attempt, you couldn't get Baby A to turn. Failed because you think having a natural birth was your last chance to have a "normal" pregnancy experience. Failed because after everything you've been through over the last two years--the heartache, the fear, the shots and procedures--you've been so brave. But where is your courage now?

Well, lovey, let me give you a little peak into the future. I can't tell you that the c-section was great, that the hospital met all your birth plan requests, that breastfeeding was a breeze, or that what happens on August 12 won't change you--make you stronger and harder in some ways and more fragile in others. But I can tell you this: one year from now, you will be so proud of yourself.

You will have these two perfect little humans that you will marvel at every day. They will exceed your wildest expectations...like that somehow the embryologist selected the two sperms and two eggs that contained the very best of S's and your DNA. You will look at them every day and be reminded of how blessed you are, of just how much God spared you from...that, as bad as it was, it could have been far, far worse.

You won't suck at being a mother. In fact, for the first time in your life, you'll actually feel like you're good at something. You'll find patience and love like you could never have imagined (Mom was right...you had NO idea the depth of a mother's love).

You'll finally understand that you couldn't move Baby A (that's G, by the way), because once he makes his mind up to do something, he does it no matter what. He's stubborn and tenacious. And you'll love him for those qualities and a million others.

And I know you're worried that things will change between you and S. They will. But not like you think. You'll actually be closer and more of a team than ever before. His stoicism will balance your neurotic mama freak-outs, and your heart will break at how deeply devoted he is to the boys. Seeing them together will remind you over and over of why you went through what you did--to give him this gift...these babies...his sons.

Now go back to watching Edward and Bella. Enjoy these last few lazy moments. Thank God that you're 37 weeks pregnant with two strong, healthy babies. Find peace in your heart knowing that despite what happens next week, it will all be worth it. In a year, G will sing along as you two dance around to the Slackers. Q will give you big, wet kisses and rub his little cheek against yours. A lot will be taken from you in that operating room, but not these moments. They will be made more precious, more sweet and fleeting, because you will never forget that for as bad as it was, it could have been far, far worse.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ricotta Spelt Pancakes

Sunday morning was the last day of our first family vacation (we were technically home at that point), and even though we often make a big breakfast on Sunday mornings (like this one), I decided I wanted to do something extra special. Try something new. Most importantly, I wanted G and Q to be able to eat whatever I made. I looked for some inspiration online and decided to make ricotta pancakes. To make them baby-friendly, I opted to use spelt flour instead of all-purpose.

The result? The lightest, moistest, most flavorful pancakes ever. To gussy them up for S and me, I topped them with a homemade lemon thyme syrup and blackberries from our bushes. The lads just had them plain, but loved them any way. Q scarfed two in two minutes flat (mmmm-mmmming the entire time, as he is wont to do (that kid is a serious foodie already!)) and would have eaten more if we hadn't already polished them off!

Ricotta Spelt Pancakes, aka Babies' 1st Pancakes
serves 4 (or, in our case, 2 piggish adults and 2 babies)

1 cup organic whole milk ricotta
1/2 cup water (you could use milk to make them richer, but I used water since the lads haven't had milk yet)
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp raw sugar
1 tsp sunflower oil

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, water and egg yolks. Add the flour, baking powder, and sugar, stirring to make a thick batter.
2. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are white and foamy, but still loose. Gently fold the beaten whites into the batter. (Note: you could easily skip this step if you aren't yet ready to give your baby egg whites. The result would simply be a denser, less fluffy pancake.)
3. Heat the oil in a skillet or large frying pan over medium heat. Using a tablespoon, drop batter onto the hot pan. Cook pancakes approximately 2 minutes per side, or until they are a golden brown. I ended up getting about 24 half-dollar size pancakes (yep...we ate them all!!!).

Lemon Thyme Syrup

1 cup water
1 cup raw sugar
5 sprigs of thyme
1 lemon, zested

1. Add water, sugar, whole thyme sprigs, and zest of the lemon to a small sauce pan over medium low heat.
2. Bring mixture to a slow boil, just until sugar is melted.
3. Remove from heat and let cool. Remove thyme and strain lemon zest (if you'd like--I left the zest in because I think it looks pretty!).
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