Friday, July 31, 2009

And away we go!

Didn't want anyone to think that potential stardom had gone to my head. If I am rather silent these next several days it's simply because our family is returning to Tyler Place for the third year in a row and I think I am leaving my computer at home. Maybe.

So, while my children are having all sorts of adventures with their camp groups, I will be taking some (well earned) time in an Adirondack chair, reading a book...or maybe I'll be taking a yoga class...learning how to throw a pot...doing a low ropes course perhaps...canoeing on Lake Champlain...or going for a long bike ride with Jeff, before we get ready for cocktails and the parent-only dining room. (Can you say bliss?)

But, you can rest assured that I'll come back from this vacation rested, and invigorated to cook up a storm so I can share more ideas for simple family-friendly meals with all of you!

The first try-out

Wow! I did it. I was so nervous that my tummy ached (or maybe that’s attributable to the amount of coffee I had before the interview). I am pretty sure I spoke too fast (shocking, I know), but we got about three questions in three minutes, that's it! Anyway, I think I did a good job, and paired with that monstrous application, it will give the casting folks a good idea of who I am. They said we’ll know by Tuesday if they’d like us to come back in. My fingers are crossed!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tonight's "Rainbow Plate", and dinner for us too

Children are supposed to have at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, but as we all know getting them down the hatch can be a real challenge for parents. We use a “rainbow plate” game at our home. At each meal, my children count the colors on their plate. This creates excitement and a desire for colorful foods including a variety of fruits and vegetables which are a natural source of color.

Tonight's dinner included: "taco turkey" (ground white meat turkey + our favorite taco seasoning and chopped onions sauteed together), a whole wheat wrap rolled up with melted cheese, a cilantro yogurt dip (store bought this time, from TJ's), green grapes, plus peaches, tomatoes and cucumbers from our CSA. I plan to have pretty much the same thing-- I'll make a salad with the cucumbers and tomatoes + some lettuce from our CSA, chopped avocado drizzled with some lemon, a scoop of the turkey, some shredded cheese and I can thin the yogurt dip by whisking it with a little milk for a creamy dressing. Easy meal that pleases both my kids and us parents! (Black beans would have been a good addition too, but I forgot to put them out!)

My little one just jumped out of the tub, saw the picture and excitedly announced, "I just ate that mama!" My free time comes to a screeching halt....time for bedtime stories!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Monster Mush (aka Spinach Risotto)

Here’s another simple dinner, though this one requires you tend to it while it’s cooking. I recently made this on a night when dinner wasn’t ready (truth be told, I probably hadn’t even figured out what I was going to make) but the kids were hungry, tired and I seized the opportunity to make something easy and get them to bed! If you have kids who like oatmeal, risotto can be an easy sell.

While risotto from scratch is just as easy, I keep a box of Trader Joe’s Wild Mushroom Risotto in the pantry for those nights when I am in a pinch. So, this recipe included:
Trader Joe’s Wild Mushroom Risotto
Chicken Broth
1 bag Organic Frozen Spinach
Parmesan, shredded

I simply toasted the risotto in a bit of olive oil (which coats each grain of rice in a bit of fat) until the grains were translucent. I know this isn’t the way you’re technically supposed to do it, but I never have time to also heat the broth so I add it room temp (straight from the pantry) in small amounts while stirring the rice, almost constantly. In case you’re wondering if it works, yes. This is the way I’ve always done it, and it’s just fine. You’ll see the broth becoming creamy as the rice cooks and takes on some of the starch from the rice. Keep adding a bit more broth until the rice is also a creamy consistency but still a bit al dente. It takes a little practice because you want the liquid mostly absorbed, but the rice not too mushy. Texturally you want individual grains, so watching it as it is cooking is key and you should taste away as it cooks!

Because I was tossing in a bag of frozen—yes folks, straight from the freezer—spinach, I left the burner on low even though the rice was technically done. But normally, once the rice is cooked you’d remove it from the burner and stir in the cheese as a creamy finale. Count on the risotto taking about 20-25 minutes, start to finish (a tad bit longer than normal, since the broth wasn’t heated).

Experts always say you need to heat it right away, but in our house you’ve often got the kids eating early with me, and my husband eating much later. Maybe I’m not a purist, but I think my risotto heats up just fine with a little additional chicken broth to prevent it from becoming too dry.

If your children are bummed by the addition of veggies, try giving one of them the opportunity to name the meal something funny. We called this risotto with spinach, “Monster Mush” and they laughed at their wittiness as they ate it all up.

Chance to give a CSA a try!

Summer travel is about to ramp up, which means that I'll miss picking up our weekly CSA (Community Support Agriculture) offerings a couple times in the coming weeks. I know a bunch of friends have been wondering what a CSA is like? I will happily let a couple of local Full Plate reader families each have a week try! If you like it, maybe you'd sign up next year too and support one of our local farms. Pick-up is on Saturday mornings at the New Canaan Farmer's Market. Please email me if you are interested and I will offer up the available dates (free of charge, of course). A chance to enjoy the wonderful taste of summer from Gazy Brother Farm!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Soy-Citrus Marinade for Salmon (made in minutes!)

I zipped around town with my little one this morning running errands. I had hoped to do some cooking while the kids napped so one stop was the fish market. But, as we all know, some days just don’t go quite as planned. My older one decided to make kites instead of nap, and my little one fell asleep minutes before we were all three due to leave for a swim lesson. Sweet. So, I popped the diaper off, the Elmo undies on, transferred him to his car seat and hoped for the best. The little one and I spent the swim lesson in the Y bathroom stall while my older one splashed about learning new tricks I wish I could have seen. Seeing as how neither kid seemed to have recovered from their ear infections of last week, we then tacked on a trip to the pediatrician (always fun at dinnertime) and a detour to Walgreen’s which experienced a run on antibiotics today and was out of stock. Fear that my little one would wet in his car seat if I trekked two towns over for the meds, we went home and made quick PB&J’s, showered, got them in their PJ’s and off we went, again. By the time I came home I was spent…and I still had to make dinner for my husband and me.

For a meal made, literally, in minutes it was pretty darn good. I made the marinade in the couple minutes the kids picked out their books for the night and let the salmon marinate for about a half hour while I put them to bed; I preheated the oven to 400 while checking my email; and in the 15 minutes it took to roast the salmon, I steamed some broccoli, toasted sesame seeds, reduced the marinade and heated up a rice side dish packet.

Salmon Marinade: whisk soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, a bit of honey, a splash of orange juice, a splash of sesame oil (olive oil would work well too as the base, if that's what you have on hand...or if you do not care for sesame!) and some chopped onion; let the salmon marinate for about a half hour. Before popping it in the oven, I also drizzled it with a bit of honey. I removed the salmon from the marinade but took some of the onions and popped them on top of the fish, then roasted the salmon on a rimmed cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. While the salmon was cooking, I reduced (boiled down to half its volume) the marinade which I then drizzled on the steamed broccoli and the salmon.

Short on time, I steamed the broccoli in the microwave (by adding a couple T of water to the broccoli in a ceramic bowl, covering with a plate and microwaving it for 2 ½ minutes).

The fish market had black and regular sesame seeds which I picked up on a whim, at $2 each. Texturally and flavor-wise they were a nice addition sprinkled on the salmon and broccoli.

And, as I have mentioned before, I am not at all opposed to using prepared foods as long as I recognize (and would cook with) all of the ingredients. The one I used tonight was Trader Joe’s Lentil Rice Biryani. They come in pantry stable pouches and I always keep a couple on hand. Seeds of Change also makes some good ones. This TJ's one is made with: basmati rice, water, potatoes, onion, chickpeas, tomatoes, sunflower oil, French green beans, green lentils, mint leaves, cumin, chili powder, coriander, turmeric, cardamom, clove and cinnamon. Delicious!

I cannot make this stuff up...

I’ve been staying up really late to complete the application for The Next Food Network Star in anticipation of Friday’s cattle call. Like every mom I know, I do not have a plethora of downtime during my day, so something like this is tackled after everyone’s fed and the kids are asleep. Well, today I used up my couple minutes of afternoon “me” time (when the “Rockin’ Real Wheels - Firetruck” DVD was playing) to jot down edits friends had passed along. I left the application sitting on the kitchen table and went to put our little one down for a nap. As folks on the Full Plate Facebook Page know, my older son spent his quiet time making a "kite" from scraps of paper. What paper you ask? Actually, my NFNS application. Yep, colored upon, cut into small pieces then taped together along with straws & ribbon. And this, my friends, is why the Full Plate name is so perfect.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Little trip to Rowayton

I’ve been meaning to post this and it totally skipped my mind. Seeing as how summer is flying by, I wanted to make sure I mentioned this to my local friends... While I gave up all regularly scheduled babysitting in ’09 (part of my financial prudence program), this summer I splurged (since my sanity was at stake) and found two wonderful drop-offs for my little one. One is Green Moon in Rowayton. Run by “Miss Veronica” and “Miss Lorena”, I knew it was a great find when my little one basically runs down the stairs to smooch the big photograph of these two wonderful gals before actually getting to hug them in person. Any place where my child is happy makes me happy.

The game plan was for me to go for a long walk while he was doing art, taking a walk to look at the boats and singing songs with other little people. But since the sprained ankle put a damper on that, I’ve rediscovered Rowayton Market. The food is just ok, but the setting is fabulous. (Actually, I take the ok comment back: Dough Girl’s cupcakes are fabulous…so yummy they’ve become our weekly happy habit.) The Friday before the Fourth of July, my husband took our older son out kayaking from there, and I have known at least one couple who did this as a late afternoon activity before an early date night at Rowayton Seafood. How civilized. And if you go down there on a Friday, don't miss the Farmer's Market. The setting can't be beat, and they've got some great vendors you might not find anywhere else. (My personal favorite is the pickle guy.) For being so close, Rowayton feels like a world away.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Our (Little) Summer Bounty

We've been dutifully tending to our itty bitty garden (all you avid gardeners don't laugh, it's all I could manage this summer)...

and look what we have! Our very first tomatoes of the season. Apparently my two-year-old didn't pluck off all of the green tomatoes to make cannon balls for his shovel catapult earlier this week. So, we each took one little red tomatoe. It was delicious.

Fixing Curry

I mentioned that I was making dinner from what I had on hand, right? Well, I should have just gone plain and simple. But no, I decided to get a little fancy, and had to fix the curry to make it edible.

Here’s what I started with (and should have ended with): Chopped new potatoes and onions, sautéed in olive oil.
Then I threw in a carton of cherry tomatoes. Next some chopped kale. (The remainder of my CSA and farmer’s market bounty from last week.) The idea was to have the tomatoes stew and become part of the sauce.

Next a jar of Trader Joe’s Punjab Spinach Sauce (which I keep in my pantry for times like these). I guess now is as good a time as any to mention that I am not at all opposed to using these meal helpers as long as I recognize all of the ingredients within. If it’s all stuff I’d cook with anyhow, why not use a little help here and there? We’ve all got a lot going on in our lives, and it would be ludicrous to assume we’re going to cook from scratch each night! Trader Joe’s has a bounty of these prepared sauces, frozen items, and envelopes of goodies I keep on hand.

OK, so back to the curry. Next I tossed in a handful of raisins (for texture and some sweetness)...
and a bag of frozen organic spinach and a bag of organic frozen peas. I should have just let the potatoes cook, the flavors blend, and enjoyed the meal as is over brown rice.
But I added some sherry vinegar. Sherry vinegar?! It was there, it smelled yummy. I like zing. So, I poured it in. Too much in. It didn’t make it zingy. Between the bitter kale and the vinegar the curry was downright sour. I needed to add a base and something sweet to make this meal edible. Back to the pantry. I had a can of Light Coconut Milk. Added that. Still needs something more. Checked the fridge…orange marmalade….no sugar added apricot jam…voila!: a jar of Mango-Ginger Chutney. Added a little. Added the whole jar.

The irony of it all? When my husband had the curry he commented that it was a little too sweet for his tastes.

The moral of the story: Trader Joe’s Punjab Spinach Sauce is yummy as is. And you can feel good about whipping up a “homemade” meal using it. No need to try to get fancy. It’s made with: tomato puree, spinach, light cream, tomatoes, onions, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, sea salt, canola oil, coriander, cumin, turmeric, paprika, red pepper, cinnamon, and cloves. All things you recognize.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Can I make a meal with what we've got around here?

Today I am under "house arrest"—again—with two sick little boys, one of whom is potty training. In addition to blowing any chance I had of a “break” this week, I haven’t found it very appealing to venture into a supermarket with these two. So, we’ve been making do with what we’ve got in the fruit bowl, the pantry and fridge. Meals have been a sort of creative game. Last night my Wednesday Supper Exchange saved the day, since it was switched to Tuesday this week and my friend Liz made a delicious meal. The whole family enjoyed a grilled chicken with honeydew salsa that was yummy. Today, it’s looking a little bleaker. Thankfully, I think I have enough ingredients on hand to whip up a vegetable curry that'll get us through one more day? (Photo of last night's dinner courtesy of, since we ate it before snapping a pic.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Star Light, Star Bright...

Today I am not cooking, I am foraging. In what is easily one of the more exhausting rites of parenthood, I am potty training our little one. This leaves me very little time to cook, as I cannot take my eyes off him for more than mere minutes, for fear that he will forget to go. All of this together time has me thinking that maybe I would like to go back to work. Kidding, sort of. But I have listened to those of you who prodded me to try out for The Next Food Network Star....I am seriously considering it. It could be fun. It would be wild. We'll see?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Carrot Cake Cupcake air wafting through our kitchen this morning...ready to be smothered in Cream Cheese Frosting...

These babies need to, while I am not a fan of Crumbs Cupcakes, I do like their handy dandy container. Next time you're by a store, pop in and have one of your cute kids ask if you may please have one of their plastic carrying cases. This one has easily been used a dozen times for my homemade treats...

And voila, you'll arrive to your potluck, playdate, outdoor concert, baby shower, mom's night out-- whatever the event may be-- with some of the most scrumptious cupcakes ever!

Quinoa Salad for a Potluck

Tonight my Wednesday Supper Exchange will be dining together. It’s been an amazing treat to cook once for the group and then receive meals the next three Wednesdays (click on the link above if you want to set up your own supper exchange, which I highly recommend for a healthy alternative to take-out when you need a break from cooking). Since this is the first night we're actually dining together instead of cooking/picking-up meals at each other's homes, we’ve divvied up the menu. Shocking, I know, that I offered to make one of my quinoa salads. As mentioned in earlier postings, I like quinoa because it’s healthy, it's quick to cook, and very versatile-- really you can add whatever you have on hand to come up with a delicious end product. Plus, it’s an easy sell if your children already eat cous cous…similar consistency.

Potluck Quinoa Salad

1 box of quinoa (prepared with vegetable stock which adds more flavor that cooking it in water)
Zucchini and Squash, drizzled with olive oil and grilled, then chopped
Trader Joe’s Roasted Red Peppers, drained and chopped
Cherry tomatoes, chopped
Feta cheese
Lemon Zest (a microplane zester comes in handy for zesting)
Vinaigrette (in a blender I combined lemon juice, olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic and a dash of Kosher salt)

Combine all ingredients and let sit for a couple of hours so flavors blend. Will last several days in the fridge, so makes an excellent lunch the next day...and the day after that...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

I promised to post some semblance of a recipe for this potato salad from last weekend, even though it doesn’t fall into the family-friendly category over here. (For some reason, one of the odd food aversions my kids have is to potatoes?!) If you decide to whip it up, feel free to add any ingredients you may have on hand (or delete anything you do not care for). The key to a good potato salad is the vinaigrette, I think. You can make it as tangy or smooth as you desire, and add a variety of veggies for color.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

New potatoes, roasted in olive oil until tender with a crispy edge
Dandelion and mustard greens, sautéed in olive oil until tender
Cherry tomatoes, quartered
Scallions, white parts chopped
Dill, chopped or torn
Kielbasa, grilled then chopped (optional)
Vinaigrette: olive oil, lemon juice, cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, lemon zest, garlic, salt, pepper

Make the vinaigrette in a blender, trying it as you add more acid (lemon juice, white wine vinegar, and cider vinegar in this case) or base (olive oil) until you reach your desired taste. Combine all ingredients, then pour an ample amount of vinaigrette over the salad and let flavors blend for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days, in the fridge.

Shrimp Soft Tacos

This summer I have found my afternoons action-packed. I don’t want to be slaving over the stove when we could be playing outside. I prepped this meal while the kids were having “quiet time”…and I still had plenty of downtime so I could read the paper that day.

Shrimp Soft Tacos

Lemon juice
Olive oil
1 lb bag of frozen (uncooked) shrimp

In a blender make the marinade by combining lemon juice, olive oil, a couple cloves of garlic, a dash of cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Marinate the shrimp for ½ hour, then either grill the shrimp or sauté them until pink. I served them room temp with the following accompaniments (all purchased at Trader Joe’s):

Whole Wheat Tortillas (Low Carb or Regular)
Shredded Cabbage
Shredded Carrots
Mango, cut into slivers
Fire Roasted Corn (found in the freezer section)
Cilantro Chive Yogurt Dip (which I mixed with a small tub of Fage 0% Greek Yogurt)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


What fun to come home from dinner with an old friend and see that Full Plate has had 500 visitors. This gives me a pat on the back. When I started this blog (originally "The Mom-a-licious Blog" which had over 5,800 hits), the goal was to have a place where I could post my favorites easy recipes (often ones friends requested), as well as things that I thought fellow mom-friends might be interested in…be it birthday party ideas, Stroller Strides or other mom-child outings, etc. I would never call myself an expert in the arena of being “mom-a-licious”, or a chef extraordinaire. But, I do congratulate myself for being the mom of two little boys who are nice (usually), who have varied interests, decent palates, and who seem genuinely happy. Really, what more could a mom hope for? So, as I continue to nourish these two little people, I will continue to post. And if there are specific meal ideas you'd like, just holler.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cherry Oat Rounds

Each day of Farm Camp, the kids did a "farm chore" or worked in the fields of The Stone Barns Center, tended to the farm's livestock or collected eggs, went for a hike, explored the garden, and cooked something with their bounty. I was excited that the parents all got copies of the week's recipes since they're a good source of healthy, simple recipes you can do with your kids. Here is one that was my son's favorite.

Cherry Oat Rounds
(Recipe courtesy of Stone Barns Farm Camp)

2 cups oats
2/3 cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup raisins

1 ½ cups low-fat vanilla yogurt
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup pitted and chopped cherries

Preheat oven to 375. In a small bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins. Mix ingredients to completely combine. In a larger bowl, whisk together the yogurt and oil. Once combined, mix in the cherries. Finally, add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix to combine in a batter. Spray mini muffin cups with cooking spray and spoon about 1 Tablespoon of batter into each muffin cup. These will not rise too much, so it is fine if the batter comes to the top of the pan. Once they are all filled, put in oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and the rounds look set. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 more minutes. Flip out onto tray or rack and enjoy warm or cool.

On The Road Again with a 2-year-old, Day 5 (Little Bo Peep Has Found The Sheep)

The three of us rode home from the last day of Farm Camp both exhausted and invigorated. What a week-- for all of us. The camp was phenomenal...and (achem) I gave myself a pat on the back for staying sane while occupying my 2-year-old from 9:00am-3:30pm in an area I didn’t know for five days in a row. As Dan Zanes rocked us on through traffic, my car smelled of lavender, garlic, and dirty little boys.

We stuck around the farm the last day, visiting all of the animals and enjoying Blue Hill Cafe's treats. The sheep were loud and fun to watch as they alternated between lolling in the shade and moving en masse around the field the campers had moved them into earlier in the afternoon. When asked about his favorite activity for the week, "moving sheep" was my older son's hands down winner.

Also within easy walking distance for little feet, there's a nice loop around Swan Lake in Rockefeller State Park Preserve. Ask for a trail map at Stone Barn's info desk, and enter the Preserve down by the greenhouse. The walk is nice and shady, and for added excitement you'll probably see some turtles and a horse or two along the trails. The loop can easily be completed by a little one in an hour.

The week long journey out there was worth it, for sure. Before he fell asleep, my older son announced that next year he hopes he can "go to Farm Camp for two weeks!"

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Adventures with a 2-year-old, Day 4 (Stone Barns on little feet)

Today was all about cows. While our older son was at Farm Camp meeting the sheep dog, making ice cream from scratch, planting seeds, picking lavender, and going on a scavenger hunt in the doorway garden of Stone Barns, I took our little one on a hike. A small hike, just enough for two-year-old feet to manage on their own. We passed very loud cows...

We heard a tractor in the distance and rounded bends hoping to catch a glimpse of it in action...

We saw cows out lolling in a shady pasture...

And when we came back to the farm, we got a latte (me, thank you cows for that creamy deliciousness), scone (him) and some citrus-infused granola (us, amazing be sure to pick some up if you visit the Cafe) and picked a nice place to sit and relax. I didn't take it personally that our little one wanted to sit solo in the courtyard. This has been a lot of mom/child together time. I relished the New York Times for 10 uniterrupted minutes and he, well he gave me 10 minutes.

Oh, and did I mention that we also enjoyed cows at lunch time? (Oops, did I just say that?! So crass but so true.) We picked up House Made Bologna and Pickled Veggie sandwiches for our afternoon of exploring. (I normally wouldn't relish a bologna sandwich but it came recommended and oh my, it was good. Of course I came home and made the mistake of looking up just what bologna is exactly...yucky. Now I know why I was never ever given a bologna sandwich growing up.) Anyway, somehow I couldn't bring myself to eat the picnic in the company of cows so we ate in the company of sheep.

Directions for the cow loop (easily walked by a 2-year-old): walking, head left out of the "Hardwood" parking lot, around the backside of the stone barn, along the "do not enter" one-way part of the driveway. When you reach the gate by the cow pen (the guard house will be on your right, slightly downhill) you pick up the wide trail. After visiting the cows head straight out and veer left up the hill. You're basically going to stay left each chance you get. When you see a red barn down the hill in front of you on your right hand side, take a left onto the trail that runs in between Stone Barns and this other red cow barn. Then at your next chance, take a left and Stone Barn's gardens will be on your right hand side and the Stone Barn will be off in the distance (as pictured above). You'll wind downhill from there, coming out again right by the cow pen. This will probably take you about 30-40 minutes if you're walking with a little one.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Greens & Cheese Pie for our Wednesday Supper Exchange

How appropriate I am finding this new blog name. This week, I truly have a Full Plate. In addition to our Farm Camp adventures, it was my week to cook for my Wednesday Supper Exchange. I made my "Greens & Cheese Pie" which is always a crowd pleaser, and can be made in advance:

Greens & Cheese Pie
(makes four 8" dishes of this entree)

4 bags of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to get rid of as much liquid as possible)
1 bunch kale, roughly chopped
1 bunch chard, roughly chopped
1 bunch mint, leaves roughly chopped
1 bunch parsley, leaves roughly chopped
2 onions, diced
4 1-lb tubs cottage cheese (whole milk)
4 pints (or equivalent blocks) Feta, crumbled
3 cups shredded Parmesan
8 eggs
1 cup whole wheat (or gluten-free) bread crumbs
1 cup roasted, unsalted pine nuts

2 packages phyllo dough
1-2 stick(s) of butter, melted + 1/2 - 1 Cup olive oil (combined to brush between the sheets of phyllo when assembling)
pastry brush (to brush the olive oil/butter mixture, I like my silicone one)

Combine all of the filling ingredients (spinach - pine nuts) in a very large mixing bowl. I found I had to roll up my sleeves and mash it with my hands to combine everything.

Preheat oven to 350.

Lightly coat each (this makes enough for four 8" casserole dishes) pan with olive oil. Then, layer with several (8 or so) sheets of phyllo dough with the edges overhanging the sides of your dish. Fill each phyllo lined dish with 1/4 of the spinach mixture, then fold each sheet of phyllo dough over one another, brushing with the olive oil/butter mixture between each sheet. Make sure you also brush the top sheet of phyllo with butter/olive oil so it bakes up nice a golden brown.

Bake for 1 hour at 350, or until the top is golden brown and the filling it set. This can be frozen, or made several days in advance and then baked the day you plan to enjoy it. (1 hour from thawed, or 1.5 hours from frozen.)

Adventures with a 2-year-old, Day 3 (Hanging Around the Farm)

I was craving one of Stone Barns' Blue Hill Cafe (truly amazing) lattes made with milk fresh from the cows once we made it to Farm Camp. No such luck, as they'd given the cooking staff the day off after working on the Fourth of July. I packed light today, planning on enjoying our lunch from their too. Hmm, slight glitch in our plans of staying around the farm, taking a hike, and visiting the animals. A little detour into the town of Pleasantville, and we found a cute patisserie and gourmet take-out place. Latte and picnic dilemna solved, we headed back to the farm.

You can easily spend a whole day here as a family outing. In addition to Stone Barn's gorgeous grounds, the animals grazing in the fields, the Cafe (when open), a gift shop with thoughtfully chosen toys, books and the like, there are also two access point for Rockefeller State Park. Talk about a well maintained trail system. The carriage paths are wide and easy to navigate with a jogging stroller. A perfect adventure if you have a little one in tow!

I managed to twist the same ankle I'd (finally) painstakenly healed, so our hike was shorter than planned. But, I am feverishly icing and elevating it in the hopes that we can continue to explore the trail system tomorrow...and at last enjoy Blue Hill Cafe's offerings.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Day Tripping with a 2-year-old, Day 2 (West Point & Bear Mountain)

I have to admit that I was a tad bit jealous that my 6-year-old was going to get to spend the day at Farm Camp, and I was responsible for road-tripping with my 2-year-old. "Moving sheep", going on a nature hike, seeding pots and making a bug box sounded like fun.

But I was only there to drop-off, since Stone Barns is open just to the lucky campers on Mondays and Tuesdays. I'd printed off a bunch of different maps, and the weather looked good. How about some cannons?

The major glitch was that I hadn't visited West Point post-9/11. So, while my memory was of popping on the grounds and taking in the breathtaking views...the reality is an $11, hour-long official bus tour. It was interesting (for me) and snack-filled (for my little one)...and we sat at the back of the bus so as to not totally interrupt the rest of the passengers.

Then we zipped over to Bear Mountain for a picnic, a carousel ride, and a walk through their little zoo. Note before you make any promises: the carousel is not open on Mondays or Tuesdays. Then it started pouring. And I don't mean drizzling. I mean torrential downpour. Thankfully the rain was short-lived so we got to visit the pleasant little zoo (highlighting local birds and animals) that meanders through the park, strike up a game of peek-a-boo with a Bald Eagle (really, you cannot make this stuff up)...

and take in the absolutely amazing views.

When we returned to Stone Barns, the children had done their task of moving the sheep, and they were bleating and romping in the fields.

Then we did a little exploring around the green houses that were wide open to let in the beautiful afternoon air,

and lo and behold, look what we found! The garlic the children had picked yesterday!