Friday, October 31

The everlasting quest...What's for dinner?

I had a chat with my mom today about life, and work, and ug...feeding my family. 

That makes me sound terrible doens't it? 

My mom shared with me a trick she used to/still uses when she's in a pinch. 

She cuts up and onion and ...

I blogged about it and you can follow the link to give yourself a secret weapon when you need a few more minutes. 

Monday, August 18

Ariel the Birth Doula



I have made a 180 in my career path.  From working with schools to supply books and planning fun author events, to now helping women be confident when birthing babies into the world. 

I am a birth doula. 

I am located on Chicago's South Side, serving Hyde Park and surrounding areas within a 45 minute travel time, and I love encouraging women to bring about the birth they want. 

That might mean educating a woman about her body so she understands what takes place in birth.  It might mean supplying information and resources so a woman can prepare herself to make the decisions needed in birth and after.  It may mean talking about fears and expectations so they don't rob her and her partner of the joy that birth can bring. 

Sometimes I am massaging, soothing, and encouraging for hours at a time.  Sometimes I am holding limbs, hair, or fans.  Sometimes I'm showing a partner where to rub, how to touch, or when to just be still and calm. 

Birth is raw.  If you are trying to birth naturally, or have a scheduled cesarean, or are attempting a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), having a doula will greatly improve the likelihood that you will have the experience you desire.  And, should the need arise, having a doula will help you prepare for making the decisions you hoped you wouldn't have to make. 

If you would like to learn more about me and my services, feel free to visit A Swift Doula

Other posts you may find interesting:


You're A What?
Leaving The House With a Toddler

There Is Room For Us All

Sunday, January 20

30th Birthday

 I'm 30!  My birthday was very low key and an enjoyable time spend with my little family.  Yesterday, we celebrated again, with friends here at the house.  I decorated a bit with yellow, as tribute to my younger self, who was color coded such to keep my things separate from my brothers and sister (who were green, red, and blue).


 When thinking of what to make, my sister recommended an egg bake, or quiche, or something of the sort.  My mom has given us a terrific crust recipe that go along with her tarts, but it worked great as a whole pie too.

 They were simple to make, and delicious.  I'll put the recipe at the bottom if you're interested.





My egg bake helper.

We had some close friends over who we've come to depend a great deal on, in one way or another.  Harper was excited to have other kids to play with, as was evident by the running and gleeful screaming that punctuated many of the conversations.  (At one point - and this is why I love my friends - there was a needed discussion that running in the house isn't ok.  I paraphrase here:  "Do you see all these beer bottles?  We don't want any of these to be knocked over, ok.  You need to slow down."  Just telling it like it is :)







There was cooking decorating!  There was a choice of A, !, or ninja cookies to frosting.  Jessica was a great help in getting some naked cookies dressed up.

Dan, Greg, and Nikki

Meryl, Crissy, Trish, Kristy, and Mike


Ryan, Greg, Audrey, Jonathan, and Meryl

These little munchkins were so much fun.  Oscar, Farrah, and Harper are all piled up on the chair in Harper's room for this shot (courtesy of Meryl!)


Mike and the kids - notice Farrah in action mode

I had to change my plans for the photos I collected from my dad's house.  Since we didn't do helium balloons, I make a "30" poster out of them instead.  People had fun looking at them and commenting on the various glimpses of life.

Crissy and Trish came up from Springfield!  Woot!



There were some others that came a bit later so they aren't pictured, but we all had a great time!  Thanks everyone from coming to celebrate the beginning of my next 30 years!  

Other food items that were served:

Pasta salad
white chocolate dipped pretzels
popcorn with chocolate chips
cheese and crackers
my dad's dried apples
my dad's deer jerky
strawberries

The egg bake recipe: 

Crust (makes two 9 inch pie pans)
  • 6 oz cream cheese
  • 1 stick unsalted butter - softened
  • 4 Tbl spoons of vegetable shorting (or a second stick of butter)
  • 2 cups flour 
Combine with pastry cutter or fork.  Kneed gently into a ball -  your body temp will melt the butter, helping it come together.  Divide in half, one for each pan.  Roll out dough between two sheets of wax paper (which is way easier than trying to keep it from sticking to your rolling pin) then put in baking pans.  Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking.  While chilling, combine filling.

Filling (for two)
  • 9 eggs
  • 1/8 cup half & half
  • 1/2 red pepper, small chop
  • 1/2 green pepper, small chop
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, small chop
  • 1/4 medium red onion, fine to small chop
  • 1 potato, peeled and cubed (*NOTE - I baked my potato the day before to insure it would be tender in the egg bake.  I cooked in my small toaster oven for 1 hr at 350 degrees, covered in aluminum foil.)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 strips bacon, cooked (I only put bacon on one pie, double if you want it on both)
  • 1 tsp thyme (rosemary would be good, too)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Ramano cheese for top
Combine all ingredients, except bacon and cheese.  Pour in to chilled baking pans.  Rough Chop the bacon and put on top of one of the pies.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes.  Place pie pans on cooking sheets to make it easier on yourself to get them in and out of the oven.  To test done-ness, give the pans a little jiggle, if there are any parts that still wobble, keep them in.  Double check with a toothpick.  While they are still warm, use a vegetable peeler to make large shavings of cheese for the top.

Let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.  Can be served at room temperature.

Friday, December 21

Christmas Tarts

Harper thinks garlic should be added to the tarts this year.
 This Saturday is the Swift Cookie Party, so it's time to make my mom's pecan tarts!  There isn't much to these delicious little wonders, but they do take a bit of time to fill the crust dough into the pan.



The filling is eggs, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt.  The dough can be any pie crust dough, but mom's is cream cheese, flour, and butter.

I didn't have enough cream cheese on hand, so I supplemented with shortening. 


 I had some extra so I made a small pie for Dan and I to share for dessert.

Are you sure you don't want to add garlic, Mom?

Heart crock was a gift from Sarah for our wedding!  It is adorable!  It isn't really meant for this purpose, but still worked great.

 They are little, perfect, pecan pies!    Love them!


Wednesday, December 19

Spicy Pecans

 Dan and I would like to give out some small gift at our Cousin Christmas night, but there are now too many people to give individual gifts.  I've been looking into ways to use the Pecans my dad sent me (6 pounds!) besides my usual pie and tarts. 

I found a recipe in County Living Magazine for spicy cocktail Pecans and thought I'd give it a try.  I halved the call for amount, as I didn't want to waste my delicious pecans if I didn't like how they turned out.

The recipe I followed was:

3 Cups Pecan halves
1/2 stick of butter (unsalted ) Melted
2 Teaspoons Tabasco sauce
1 Teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Teaspoon of sea salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder (it should have been just 1/2 teaspoon, but I love garlic)


Oven on 325 degrees.  Combine ingredients, then poor over Pecans.  Toss to mix then put on baking sheet in a flat layer.  Bake for 7-8 minutes, stir, the bake for 7-8 more until nuts are toasted.





Pre-baked nuts.  I store my nuts in the freezer, so when I poured the melted mixture on them, it congealed again. 

After being toasted!  Bonus: the house smells delish.

Close-up.



I'm storing them in a tin lined with wax paper.  

Tasting thoughts:

They taste very similar to the chex mix Dan's mom makes.  They aren't as spicy as I would have imaged them to be (since they were called spicy cocktail pecans).  I don't know if we'll make this for the fam, but we'll certainly eat the 3 cups I made of it.  Perhaps I'll try batch adding some other seasonings (thinking red pepper flake, cumin, more Tabasco as options).

Wednesday, December 5

Caramels

I tried my hand at making caramels (Thanks Martha Stewart for the info!).  It went alright.  I learned some things about what not to do after the caramels were made, but the making and eating all went off without a hitch. 

Ingredients and my Nook with recipe


Starting off.  It takes a while to get it up to the right temperature.  The recipe said about 15 minutes.  I didn't have my heat up for that, as it took about 35 for mine to reach the necessary 248 degrees.


Still cookin.

It was great to watch the bubbles as the consistency changed.


Getting more carmel-y

Almost there! 

As soon as it gets to temp, the recipe says to hall ass though the last steps (ie: add vanilla and salt, then pour into cookie sheet with greased paper)

Yummmm...Caramel.  Well, soon.  You let it sit for 8 HOURS, then you can cut it. 

Inspired by my sister's love of salted caramels, I thought to try it.  It was a win.

And then they got wrapped. 


It doesn't look like 120 caramels, does it?

One of the boxes for a friend



The ingredients list on the inside.

The boxes for Dan's workish party.



The got all dolled up for the holidays! 

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