Two-year-olds and eating well and going to bed


I have SO forgotten what it's like to live with a two-year-old. As such, this is what I feel like right now.



Two-year-olds are adorable but they are very messy and often loud, despite having relatively few words. They like to drag food around the house with them, discarding like tiny Hansels bits and pieces as they go. Unlike Hansel, no toddler intends to return along his meandering path, not least with a dustbuster. 

I adore my precious nephew, but I have forgotten about tee-tee fountains and the utter delight of made up names for things. I am now hazy on obsessions with things like helicopters and the associated sound effects that go along with frequent reminders of them. Dunh-dunh-dunh-dunh say the chopper blades. 

Memories of the very emphatic ways that two-year-olds can express "No!" burbled up from the recesses of my mind in recent days. I was reminded of the genius of Mo Willems describing a melting down toddler as "going boneless" in Knuffle Bunny. If ever I describe anything so perfectly, I'll feel accomplished to the max.

I have somewhat forgotten about watching young tots learn stuff. How they practice and practice and then one day say "turtle" in the most endearing "tuh-tle" way. And there is nothing like the gut laugh of a little one. I love, love, and will do anything for the moments my boys still guffaw like toddlers do.

Mom left yesterday, and before taking Elia and Leone to the airport this afternoon, we had a little birthday party (Leone likes Baked & Wired cupcakes as much as we do) as he is officially 2 in a few weeks. It seems like a long jump from here:

to here:

Beautiful mama and darling nephew!

Beautiful mama and darling nephew!

Last night, I cooked dinner, and Tom and I raised a glass to Elia. She is doing such a good job in motherhood, and I am so proud of her. We ate well, watched the debate (if by debate one means a large, rude child following a thoughtful candidate around stage and lying), and then tucked in. 

Don't those sunchokes look good?? Yum!!! Pan-roasted and then dressed with rosemary brown butter and aged Balsamic (thank you, Bon Appetit). We also had salmon and brussels sprouts and, duh, this.

Lightly fried pattypan squash with brown butter corn and cotija

Earlier this week, I concocted a marvelous new dish whose star was a gorgeous white pattypan squash I grew in my garden. 

Most pattypans I come across in the DC area are the yellow-skinned variety. During the summertime, they're third in the quantity available line to yellow squash and green zucchini, all of which I usually grill or thinly shave and serve raw in a salad of sorts.

When I saw that those growing in my garden were the white-skinned version, I was reminded of those I've not seen since my childhood. Mom and Nanny cooked a lot of squash. Squash casserole, boiled squash, stuffed squash, lightly fried squash....White-skinned scalloped squash were prevalent in the summers, and Nanny and Mom sliced them into rounds, dipped them in an egg-milk mixture before dredging them in generously salted and peppered flour, and then frying them quickly in hot canola oil.

The batter was so light, barely clinging to the delicate squash. Parmesan grated over the top was the finishing touch. Mom would eat the slices straight from the paper towel-lined plate she'd transferred them to from the oil.

Long story short, this week when I sent Mom a photo of my blue ribbon squash, she reminded me of that old recipe, and I decided to take things just a step further by adding brown butter corn and chives, avocado and tomato slices, and grated Cotija cheese. 

It was an absolute hit, if I say so myself. A lovely way to take advantage of the season! You can find the recipe here

Brown Butter Chicken and Rice + Nutella Graham Sandwiches

Since writing about comfort food yesterday, and since the chilly rain has continued in earnest, I have been eating to stay warm, in body and soul. Last night, I wanted something quick and basic but really tasty; mac and cheese but even easier. Chicken and rice came quickly to mind, and so I began.

Anyone who lives in Louisiana for any amount of time quickly realizes that rice is a staple eaten multiple times each week. Rice was on our dinner table in some form or fashion all the time when I was growing up, rather like pasta is on tables across Italy. Local stores sold enormous bags of Louisiana long grain white rice, and we were lucky too in that one of our neighbors had a rice farm and gave us fresh bags of his every year at Christmastime. 

When T and I got married, we used rice bags printed with of our engagement pictures as the favor bags. A bit of local flair. 

Anyway, rice = comfort in my mind. Jack subsists on it, so I figured a simple, one pot chicken and rice dish would make a fine dinner.

It did. I layered into a skillet, rice, salt, broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, and lightly seasoned chicken breasts. Over all that I poured some brown butter, covered the pan tightly and cooked in the oven for twenty minutes. Easy as pie and flavorful as all get-out. I made a second batch for Tom's and my meal later. The rice is soft and buttery. I ate so much I thought I'd pop. Thank goodness I also thought to roast some parsnips and make a kale salad. 

The chicken and rice recipe will be posted shortly in Lunch & Dinner.

brown butter chicken and rice

brown butter chicken and rice

rosemary and brown sugar roasted parsnips

rosemary and brown sugar roasted parsnips

Last week, Oliver convinced me to buy the large jar of Nutella, and frankly, I've since thought of him as a genius. Do you want a staggeringly delicious, two-ingredient dessert?

Take a graham cracker and break it in half. Slather one side with Nutella and then smash the other half on top. Voilà. You're welcome.

nutella graham sandwiches

nutella graham sandwiches