Thursday, March 31, 2011

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Mongolian Beef

Mongolian Beef
We are big PF Change's fans. We are also extremely predictable because we also order the same thing when we go. One of the things we order is their Mongolian Beef. We've tried making this dish at home on a few occasions and it's never quite right. This recipe is the closest we've gotten. I have two complaints with this dish, though. One is an issue with the recipe itself and the other is an issue with the person who cut the meat (cough cough Alex).

My problem with the recipe was that it created too much waste. We could have easily halved the recipe for the sauce and there would have been enough sauce for the beef. Instead we did the whole thing as copied below and ended up not using half the sauce. Also, it was too much oil for frying and, maybe I'm sensitive to vegetable oil, but I could actually taste a hint of the oil in the beef.  My sauce didn't thicken up so I added 2 tsp of water mixed with 2 tsp of corn starch to help thicken up the sauce.

Other than that the recipe was great. It wasn't as sweet as you would expect considering the amount of sugar and it wasn't nearly as tangy as we remember the PF Chang's version being. Also, our beef came out more chewy than crispy because someone (cough cough Alex) cut the beef into bigger chunks than he should have.

PF Chang's Mongolian Beef
Serves 2

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
vegetable oil, for frying (about 1 cup)
1 lb flank steak
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 large green onions

Make the sauce by heating 2 tsp of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over med/low heat.
Don't get the oil too hot. Add ginger and garlic to the pan and quickly add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches. Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then raise the heat to about medium and boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove it from the heat.

Slice the flank steak against the grain into 1/4" thick bite-size slices. Tilt the blade of your knife at about a forty five degree angle to the top of the steak so that you get wider cuts. Dip the steak pieces into the cornstarch to apply a very thin dusting to both sides of each piece of beef. Let the beef sit for about 10 minutes so that the cornstarch sticks.

As the beef sits, heat up one cup of oil in a wok (you may also use a skillet for this step as long as the beef will be mostly covered with oil). Heat the oil over medium heat until it's nice and hot, but not smoking. Add the beef to the oil and sauté for just two minutes, or until the beef just begins to darken on the edges. You don't need a thorough cooking here since the beef is going to go back on the heat later.

Stir the meat around a little so that it cooks evenly. After a couple minutes, use a large slotted spoon to take the meat out and onto paper towels, then pour the oil out of the wok or skillet.

Put the pan back over the heat, dump the meat back into it and simmer for one minute. Add the sauce, cook for one minute while stirring, then add all the green onions.Cook for one more minute, then remove the beef and onions with tongs or a slotted spoon to a serving plate.

Leave the excess sauce behind in the pan.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

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Styling C: 03.28.11 to 03.30.11

Monday, 03.28.11
The Look: Cati's Choice
The Outfit: Carter's white top, Gap red and green plaid romper

Tuesday, 03.29.11
The Look: Pretty in Pink
The Outfit: Ralph Lauren pink ruffle dress

Wednesday, 03.30.11
The Look: Gingham Sweet
The Outfit: Crazy8 blue and white gingham top, Cherokee khaki shorts
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TWD: Pecan Powder Puffs

Pecan Powder Puffs
I really wanted to make this week's selection of Pecan Powder Puffs. Time has been a little hard to come by but I managed to squeeze these cookies in while Cati was distracted by her lunch. Because time was limited, I made a few changes to the technique. Instead of using room temperature butter, I used cold butter and instead of letting the dough refrigerate for at least two hours, I put it in the freezer while the oven heated up. These two little changes allowed me to have delicious pecan buttery cookies in 30 minutes from start to finish. I didn't roll them in the powdered sugar out of sheer laziness but that's ok because the cookies were plenty sweet on their own.
Pecan Powder Puffs
Thanks to Tianne of Buttercream Barbie for making this week's awesome selection. Visit her blog for the recipe and don't forget to head over to the TWD site to check out everyone else's opinions on these Pecan Powder Puffs cookies.
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Running Low

Can a person run out of nurture? I think I'm teetering awfully close to being nurtured out. Cati has been unpredictable with her naps and has been frequently skipping out on her morning nap. This has left my hands full with not only more activities to keep her entertained but also with a child that is cranky and extra sensitive because she's tired. She's so tired she needs more comforting thus making her more attached to me and more in tuned with my emotions.  If I say no to anything it's the end of the world and she cries like I broke her heart in the worst way. Then if I don't carry her she will lay on the floor and cry and cry and CRY until I pick her up. Reminiscent of those early days with Cati I find myself walking away when she's crying to give myself a minute to recharge the nurturing batteries. I don't think she even realizes I have walked away because when I come back she's still in the same place crying. I feel guilty doing this because I know that if I pick her up she will stop crying but sometimes picking her up, consoling her, and wiping away the tears requires too much energy. So I walk away, recharge, and then plow on.
Motherhood is patience. Patience needed to care and patience needed to temper frustration. Patience to love unconditionally despite the guilt, disappointment, disillusionment, and feelings of failure. Patience to do the same thing day in and day out.  Patience to know that while today may beat you down tomorrow just might be the day you soar.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

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In Her Shoes

Did you ever see the movie "In Her Shoes"?  No? Well, that's ok. I saw it and didn't really like it. Plus, the only thing that movie has in common with this post is the title. It may not seem like it from the pictures but Cati wears shoes everyday. When we are at home she's barefoot or in socks and I always put on shoes when we go out. When she first started walking all she had were the first Stride Rite shoes but as she's gotten better at walking I've been able to diversify her shoe collection so that her shoes actually match her outfits. I'm actually just a teensy bit jealous of her shoe collection.

Stride Rita "Marissa" brown multi-colored sneakers

Me Too "Lil Lottie" silver ballet flats

Converse "Pink Lady" sneakers

Gap Jelly shoes

Stride Rite "Lucia" hot pink sandals

Oompa Loompa's Molly black patent leather Mary Janes

Toke sandalia balila silver sandals

Totes pink flats

This may seem like a lot of shoes but all the shoes are bigger sizes so they will be able to last for quite some time. Also, I didn't pay more than $22 per pair and one of the pairs was actually $10 (hint: wasn't the Payless Totes).

Monday, March 28, 2011

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Styling C: 03.24.11 to 03.27.11

Thursday, 03.24.11
The Look: Pink & Plaid
The Outfit: Carter's pink plaid romper

Friday, 03.25.11
The Look: Preppy Chic
The Outfit: First Impressions white onesie and gold dress, Gap skinny jeans

Saturday, 03.26.11
The Look: Vintage Chic
The Outfit: Target white bow, Gap cream and navy quilted dress, 
Oompa Loompa's black patent leather shoes

Sunday, 03.27.11
The Look: Safari Fever
The Outfit: Target white bow, Wonderkids brown giraffe top, 
Gap light blue jeans, Stride Rite brown shoes
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Examiner Catch Up

I'm a little scattered and am trying to figure out a way to keep myself organized. One of the things I need to be better about is updating you on my Examiner articles. It's been quite some time since my last update and this is what I've written since:

Phew! That was a lot! I think I need to start doing a This Week in Examiner like I do in This Week in Mommyhood.
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This Week in Mommyhood

You mothers out there, do you ever have days where all you want to do is shut out the world and have it be just you and your kids? That's how I felt this past week. While caring for Cati is difficult, it's simple. There's no double meaning in anything she says. No judgment. No criticism. No unrealistic expectations. No being extra nice so she can stay up late. She's so straightforward. Agua means water and not milk or some hot button issue. I know what she needs on a day-to-day, hour-to-hour basis and there's no way I can fill her with those horrid feelings of disappointment. Basically, my relationship with her is easy and low maintenance when compared to the energy it takes to maintain most adult relationships in working order. So I just wanted to get away with her and have things be easy. Of course, that will never happen and on easy days that's just wishful thinking.
This was a big week in our family. Abuela, Alex's grandmother, had her 90th birthday party on Saturday. She said all she wanted on her birthday from us was Cati and since that's not going to happen we did the best we could: we got her a gold charm of a little girl to wear with the two silhouette charms she has for Alex and his brother. Abuela did get a lot of Cati time though and she was well celebrated. It amazes me that there are 89 years between these two amazing little ladies.
Before the party I thought it would be a fun game to count how many times someone said the baby looked like her grandmother. Then I realized that would be depressing because I would quickly lose count. Sure enough, everyone said she looked just like her grandmother so I made it a point to carry Cati as much as I could just so that people would know I, in fact, was the mother. One person even told me we needed to have a son so that he could look like me (this person might have been trying to make me feel better after being the 30th person to say Cati looks like her grandmother). Speaking of which, quite a few people said we needed to get started on a sibling. Even if I planned it, it wouldn't have worked as perfectly as people spontanouesly asking about #2.
For the first time in Cati's life she had a meal that was not prepared by me! I took her a day's worth of food on Saturday but there were so many people and so much activity in the kitchen that I skipped out on heating up her dinner. Instead, she ate off of my plate and ate arroz con gandules (rice and pigeon peas) and carne puerco (roasted pork). This comes after a very exciting week of Cati really exploring her Colombian (empanadas, bunuelos, arepa de choclo, pan de bono) and Cuban (croquetas de jamon and pollo) roots and becoming very interested in what I'm eating. One day she even ate some of my chicken pesto pasta after reaching and grabbing for it.
Other than that, Cati is such a sponge and hilarious and imaginative. One day I said "Se acabo" (it's finished) and the coordinating hand motion and ever since Cati does the hand motion whenever she finishes anything (like her lunch) or whenever things run out (like the water at the end of bath time). Then she does hilarious things whenever she hears a loud sound. If she is holding something, she will drop it and then run as if she just realized she was holding a grenade and needs to get as far away from it as possible. Lastly, she's imaginative and has taken putting the phone to her ear and saying "allo" one step further. Now she actually puts hand to ear and says allo and, at one point, she put my compact mirror to her ear and did the same. She's amazing!
Can you believe we are almost three months through the year? I'm so ready for April!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

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Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp
It's all about the little things in life. Those little wet baby kisses to fill you with joy. Those tender touches from your loved one to fill you with love. That small "thank you" at the end of the day to make you feel like it was all worth it. This Apple Crisp to make you feel all warm and cozy inside. You really can never go wrong with a dessert like this. I made it last week and this was one of the best crumbs recipe I've had in a while. My aunt even said we could eat just the crumbs with ice cream.

Apple Crisp
Source: Rhonda on

1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cups rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
6 Tbsp butter

4 medium to large apples, cored and slice
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a large bowl, combine the flour, oatmeal, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar. Cut butter into mixture until crumbly.

Take half of the mixture and pat it into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.

Cover crumb mixture with apple slices, then sprinkle apple slices with remaining crumb mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 to 50 minutes or until apples are tender.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

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Guest Post: The Other "M" Word

"Miscarriage" had seemed like such a trivial word to me. I never heard of anyone that I knew having a miscarriage, and I always figured that I was healthy enough that it could never happen to me. Well, after going through it, I could never wish that experience on any expecting mother, or any family for that matter.

The emotional roller coaster one goes through is unbelievable. In the time between that positive pregnancy test and the miscarriage, we had practically planned out everything. There were belly photos taken. We had names picked out for whatever the sex the baby would eventually be. I was already walking around talking to my belly. I would go to sleep at night holding my belly. There were already discussions about breast feeding vs. formula feeding, living arrangements, baby furniture, etc. My husband was in awe of how fertile we apparently were -- pregnant on the first try. After such a rough month behind us, this was the light at the end of the tunnel. Nothing could be wrong in the world.

Throughout the entire miscarriage process, all those wonderful thoughts vanished . They were replaced with so much negativity...How could this happen? Can I not carry a child? The word miscarriage has such a negative conotation. Just breaking it down mis - carriage implies that I did something wrong. The guilt that rushed over me was unbearable and I felt like less of a woman. I cried until my eyes were red and puffy, and then I cried some more. I could barely sleep at night since my mind was racing or I was crying or my eyes were just too sore from crying all day. I spent the week out sick from work and hung out at home browsing miscarriage boards online which were comforting. I really need to give a big thanks to my husband for being so supportive throughout the whole process. I know he was not in the best emotional state, first losing his father and now his unborn child.

Funny thing is, I realized that miscarriage really is a touchy issue with women. I had no idea so many women from my everyday life had either experienced a miscarriage (sometimes several miscarriages) or knew someone close to them that had. Women who have had a miscarriage(s) are part of this underground club, and they carry around this deep dark secret, only revealing it when they meet a new member to the club. Why is it such a big secret? I don't know if it's that women are too ashamed to share their experience. At least in my experience I think the major reason I didn't go announcing it to the world was more that I just didn't want to talk about it. Talking about it meant I had to relive the experience again, and then hear the sympathies from others not able to relate what I was going through. I know their hearts are in the right place, but all I could think of was how much I wanted to be isolated and left alone. My husband made most of the calls to his family and my dad explaining what happened. I just did not want to be around anyone.

I am happy to say that I'm on the rebound now and back on the horse. It took about a week after the miscarriage happened, around the time I finally stopped my week of bleeding. I guess having the bleeding finally stop helped me feel more normal and a bit more able to look past this tragic event. I obviously still think about what happened but I believe that the miscarriage was probably a result of all the stress my body and heart went through with the passing of my father-in-law. All that chronic emotional stress could not have been a good environment for a baby to develop in. Or at least I've convinced myself of this so I move on. I've continued eating healthy and taking my prenatal vitamins religiously in hopes that I am in the best possible health to conceive. Let's see how things pan out over the next couple of months.

This guest post was written by Alex of South Florida Momma. She has since gotten pregnant and given birth and is now the mother to an 8-month old son.
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The Adorable-Unadorable Scale

As I was looking through all of Cati's pictures a theme came up. A lot of what she was doing in the pictures was adorable and/or funny because she was baby. If she were an adult it would not be adorable or funny and in one case it would be offensive. Here are some examples:

Eating paper (toilet paper to be exact)

Crying with a big flower on her head

Climbing on furniture


Being gluttonous

Having lots of rolls

Having a double chin

Sleeping with a bib on

Three Months

Sucking on daddy's finger

Sucking on her feet

Spitting out her food
1st Peas

Rocking the Pebbles look

Showing lots of leg

Having a little gut hang out

Chewing with her mouth open

Having wild hair

Having food all over her face and hair

Not styling her bed head

Giving attitude

 Giving someone a nasty face

Punching someone

On the most inappropriate, offensive? Giving the middle finger

You see? Adorable because she's a baby. Not adorable if she were an adult. The life of a baby is truly a free one.