So this week's theme is: failure. It was a spectacular week for failure here! A festival of failure, if you will. (I completely understand if you won't.)

Approximately one second after my last post, the repeated typing of the word "sugar" broke my brain and I ate every carbohydrate within three zip codes. They were delicious and I regret nothing. But I still had this low-sugar menu planned out, so here are some Southwest turkey sliders:

They were probably good, but I was pretty full from eating every single carbohydrate in North Austin.
And then I lost my softball game. I mean, I personally lost my softball game. I went to bat with one out and hit the saddest girl-grounder in history and then a double play happened (it's Passive Voice Day, you guys) and that was that. Ugh. I need a minute. Look at my cute baby.


It's okay, though. I'm definitely on the road to recovery. Dan cheered me up this morning by making a wonderful, bacony breakfast.

I already kind of forgot what we were talking about.
And Ivy cheered me up by practicing her sarcasm faces.

I feel okay with being a constant source of disappointment if this is the face I'm met with.


She really wants one for each hand, and at some point I'm just going to cave

Hey! I My partner with the good sense of direction won got second place in a race scavenger hunt this weekend! My immediate post-race recovery was beer and onion rings (standard), but I felt like I could use a little more weighing down, so I whipped up some goulash with potatoes. This was originally intended to be part of Culinary Heritage Week, but my parents argued that midwestern goulash (what I grew up with) is too far removed from Hungarian goulash (what I actually made) to even count as a tribute.

Not a tribute.
Did I tell you guys that I joined a softball team? It's not hardcore or anything--the email I got from the league included specific instructions regarding acceptable containers for your beer during games--but it still requires that I wear shorts. Outside. Where sunshine and people are. So I started casting about for some appropriately trendy weight-loss strategy and noticed that the sugar detox is all the rage. This obviously appeals to me, since sugar is, as we have discussed several times, DEATH. Or at the very least, THIGHFAT. Anyway, long story short (too late), I had asparagus for breakfast.

Not sure why Dan didn't ask for any.
I see that the standard period of time for this sort of thing is 21 days, which means I can probably manage it for about 21 hours. This blackened salmon with tomato gravy was good, at least.

According to my research, less sugar equals way, way more bacon.
Aaaaand I just saw someone on television eat some candy, so we should be done with this pretty shortly.

The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed a certain piece of headwear on all recent pictures of Anna. I assume her refusal to remove it is due to her love of America, and also pastimes. Anyway, the fact that she was just randomly wearing a baseball cap everywhere was starting to look a little bit silly, so I decided to take action.

Much better.
Also, sleep training is still going well, thanks for asking!


I actually think eye-rolling is more advanced than rolling over

Okay, Culinary Heritage Week continues with green chile casserole, which is in very good company as a delicious thing that photographs horribly. This version is close to my family's, although we use tortilla chips instead of plain tortillas, because things are generally better fried. My personal take on it was less "casserole" and more "oven-baked nachos," which I consider an improvement. I also replaced the cream of chicken soup with an outrageously over-peppered b├ęchamel sauce and it was GREAT.

Tortilla chips + cheese + some stuff in the middle I guess = yum.
Next up: Chinese BBQ pork with fried rice. I couldn't find the original Sunset Magazine Cookbook recipe for the pork online, and I am too lazy to type it out. Look up Chinese BBQ pork! I'm sure you can find something good! Just marinate pork tenderloin with some honey and ginger and garlic and cinnamon and soy sauce THERE LOOK I basically typed it out after all.

Anyway, my childhood version didn't include asparagus, so I was a luckier child than Anna and Ivy.
Last and best: grilled cheese and tomato soup. I actually grilled pimento cheese, due to an insane surplus from the Chihuahuas, and I definitely recommend this strategy if you find yourself in a similar position.

It's all orange and warm and gooooooood.
Anna immediately announced that she "so love(s) tomato soup."

This realization seemed to confuse her somewhat.
Though now that I think about it, her uncertainty might have more to do with her recent crisis of personal style.

There is much effort, but little joy.

Ivy is, for the moment, biting her tongue.


I think he also made up something about horseshoes and hand grenades

Hey, I haven't done a theme week in a long time, right? I'm asking because I don't have the motivation to actually do any research on the subject. Let's all just agree that is has been some long yet unspecified amount of time since we had a theme week around here and proceed. Good!

This week's theme is: Erica's Culinary Heritage, or Dinners I Remember From Childhood. (I feel like that 18th Century Novels class I took in college is really paying off in the form of my being awesome at naming things.) First up was very obvious to me, as it is a dish I have only ever eaten or heard mention of at my parents' house, and that is Chihuahuas (or We Know It Sounds Disgusting But It's Good, Try It).

In the dark days before the Internet was around to correct me on such matters, I assumed that Chihuahuas were something my father had invented, along with at least one Groucho Marx joke, a dance known as The Freddie, and the lyrics to Johnny Horton's "Battle of New Orleans." Turns out I was giving him far too much blame credit! The Chihuahua Sandwich was in fact created at the Sky-Vue Drive In at Lamesa, TX, just as he has specifically claimed for a long time! (I had until now assumed that Lamesa, TX was also a figment of his imagination.) We do a slight variation, serving it open faced and using browned ground beef mixed with Rotel instead of chili, and in this instance I busted out some homemade pimento cheese. I went with the highest cheese (good) to mayonnaise (evil) ratio I could find. And here they are!

I know it sounds disgusting, but it's good, try it.
Hey, do you guys remember when I was going to try to lose some weight? Haha. For the record, any proclamations along those lines have an implied "for the next 8 hours" tacked on to the end.

So Anna and I went to next-door-neighbor Parker's 4th birthday party this weekend. Happy birthday, guy! It was at a cool little-kid-oriented carnival sort of place. Look, they have a proper carousel!

And PONIES! What 2-year-old can resist PONIES?

Oh, right.

Anna did find plenty of activities she enjoyed, though, like changing positions on her bench:

Sitting on a different bench:

Not stepping in mud:

And perennial favorite, playing with rocks:

She did manage to get into the party spirit by the end.

Why so serious, y'all?


I hope "has mastered bemusement" is on the 6-month questionnaire

There must be something in the air, because I have been cooking up a storm this week for some reason. A storm, I tell you! And as you know, every good food storm kicks off with a casserole. One comprised mostly of cheese and spaghetti is ideal.

A big cheesy casserole is the distant, approaching thunder of food storms.
That wasn't quiiiiiiiite enough cheese to really get the week going right though, so the next night we had bowls of sour cream and cheddar.

I put a little bit of quinoa chili under there, just for color.
Finally satisfied that my dairy quota had been filled, I went a little lighter with this grilled chicken bruschetta.

What cubes of mozzarella? I don't even see what you're pointing at.
But it was only when I found myself standing at the stove at 6:30 am, stirring a pan full of kale, that I knew the storm had veered into dangerous territory. Time to board up your windows! And here's the really disturbing thing--these kale and goat cheese frittata cups? Are pretty good.

I ate kale for breakfast and I LIKED IT. It has broken me, truly. Or we have just reached an understanding wherein I smother it with cheese.
Anna is ready for baseball season, no joke.

Fortunately, I was able to focus some of that batting energy into chicken-smashing.

I knew she would be helpful in the kitchen if I could find a dangerous enough task.
Hey, everyone look at the camera!

Okay, fine, let's try just Ivy. Can you give me..."Hollywood ingenue?" Pre-dream-crushing.

Good, now switch it up, I want to see "elder statesman."

Very nice. "Wise-cracking sidekick," go!

Good session.


Plague house 4: Weekend escape

I recommend that everyone make these smoked salmon Eggs Benedict for the following reasons: someone else smokes the salmon, the sauce is basically just melted butter, spinach means it's healthy, it sounds fancy but takes about five minutes to put together.

Also, it is eggs.
I tried to get Anna to pose next to the rose bush in her Easter dress, but she felt like this litter box that we put out on the porch to clean about three months ago and then left there made a better prop. She was also uninterested in setting down the dog toy she stole from my in-laws at Christmas.

She has a modern, cutting-edge sense of scene.
Ivy handled the indignity of being ridiculously be-hatted with a quiet grace.

You can only barely see the consternation.

But it seems that the effort to keep her composure did awaken The Hunger.

Speaking of hunger, I learned this weekend that Anna likes quiche as long as you call it "egg pie."

That actually makes me like it more, too.
And we finally had our Game of Thrones premiere party! Sort of! We had to postpone due to plague, but last night the Loontjers brought over some spiced wine and their two small children and we had completely authentic** honeyed ham, white beans and bacon, and buttered carrots.

**It's possible that the medieval version of honeyed ham didn't have ketchup in the glaze.
We also had blackberries with sweet cream, which was fantastic, but could almost certainly be more easily achieved by just melting some vanilla ice cream.

It is also possible that medieval diners would not have eaten this out of martini glasses.
Anyway, attempting to watch the show while keeping two toddlers and two infants distracted was definitely a risk, but it was so good! Nothing happened after the opening credits, right?


Plague house, part the third

Seems like the best thing to follow an epically fat-laden hamburger is something nice and light. Enchiladas it is! Okay, so these chicken and white bean enchiladas are purportedly "skinny" as written, but I added some cheese and used chicken thighs and real sour cream, so that issue was pretty easily resolved.

I'm always either healthifying or dehealthifying things. My style is "regular amounts of health."
Speaking of health, Anna hasn't quite kicked her bug (though she was nice enough to implant some of it in my throat and left ear), so we've had to take our recovery efforts up a notch. Obviously, focusing on good nutrition is top priority.

I think I read somewhere that food dye kills germs? That sounds right.

And while I was optimistic about our queso therapy, I found it necessary to bump up to the next step and apply a chocolate donut balm.

Worth it, as always, to see the joy in her face.
Unbeknownst to me, Anna had already decided to take matters into her own hands, opting for a controversial alternative-medicine treatment involving dumping an entire bag of corn meal on herself.

Not the direction I would have gone, but I respect her open-mindedness.