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SUGO ITALIANO, no 1

IMG_0825-2Tomato sauce variations are many, as it’s one of the most essential concoctions in piecing together disparate ingredients that result in a cohesive masterpiece. While I have many versions of a simple marinara sauce, I made this one over the weekend. We ate it over fresh taggliattini (with lots of parmesan cheese), but I’ve also used it in a vegetarian lasagna, to dip fried eggplants (Trader Joe’s has an awesome one), for adding to battered mozzarella and to flavor a chicken cacciatore. While the base is comprised of onions, sautéed on low for an hour, once you add the tomatoes, their acidity undercuts the sweet richness of the caramelized onions. It results in an affirmative, yet super simple (2 main ingredients, 1 herb) sauce that begs for an encore. X, Carolina

ps. I sliced the onions on a handheld mandolin

 

SUCCO ITALIANO, no 1

extra virgin olive oil

1.5 onions, very thinly sliced

1 T sugar

1 can whole, Italian tomatoes (San Marzanos, if you can)

1- 2 teaspoons salt, to taste

coarse black pepper to taste

1/2 cup white wine

fresh basil, handful or more, thinly sliced

 

Over medium-high heat, sauté onions in olive oil in a deep, sauté pan. Cover, add sugar, and lower heat as low as it will go. Stir occasionally, slowly adding about 2/3 of the wine. After about an hour, uncover, add about a tablespoon or so of olive oil and raise the heat. Stir in wine, salt, and pepper to taste. Continue to stir until all the liquid is evaporated (couple of minutes), then lower heat again and add tomatoes. With a handheld potato masher (or big spoon), chop up the tomatoes. Cook for about 8 minutes. Adjust seasoning to your particular taste and stir in the fresh basil. The heat of the sauce will cook the basil just enough so that it retains it’s aroma.

Serve over pasta with lots of parm or Romano cheese. Or serve over chicken, beans, veggies–just about anything. X, Carolina

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GOT MILK? Yeah, it’s in the Bottle. (Linked Up, part II)

Because there has been so much commentary on pro-choice breastfeeding lately, including that brilliant and brave Wash Post article I mentioned last week, I wanted to link up to this commentary as well. http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/1053781/one-surprising-reason-french-women-dont-breastfeed

French have always espoused liberty. Where were these women when I was bumbling my way through blazing boobs, two at a time. It was such a disaster, never making it to the major leagues, no matter how hard I tried, squeezed, pumped and inhaled fenugreek! And to make matters worse, by night time I had to ALWAYS supplement since supplies ran low. It was the equivalent of high end restaurant torture in which miniature sized plates de resistance leave you BROKE and STILL HUNGRY.

Glad those bovine days are over. For those of you still in the trenches, “Let them drink milk!” And don’t worry if it’s from the breast or the bottle.

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LINKED UP: BREAST FEED OR NOT … JUST DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY

Gosh, I could not agree more with this writer. I did a combination of both, but the breasts were hung out to dry early–and I didn’t care. And yes, I got a bunch of judgmental stares. But YOU try breast feeding and pumping (and diapering and bathing) TWO at the same time. Check this out below, x, Carolina

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/why-i-dont-breastfeed-if-you-must-know/2014/10/13/74c5fd3e-459a-11e4-9a15-137aa0153527_story.html

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NO BLUE LIGHT SPECIALS HERE

Numerous studies have linked ‘blue lights’ (you know the kind that emanate from electronics like computers, tvs and phones) to disruptive sleep in kids and adults. I was just at the home of a friend and could not believe how many apparatuses were plugged into her kids’ room. Really?

Blue light at night can interfere with melatonin production, which basically means that are kids are not getting quality sleep. And if they don’t get a good night’s rest, it will percolate into their day (poor testing, distracted, ADHD, etc.) … Here’s the bottom line:

1- if your kid has a computer in the room, make sure it’s in sleep mode when your kid is in the same mode.

2- Limit electronics in a room. Have them do their homework somewhere else (I like the kitchen table, so you can keep a watchful eye).

3- Ditch the modern alarm clock. Go old school and get one of those battery operated or wind up  clocks.

4- If there are a lot of lights outside your kids’ bedroom window, invest in shutters or shades. Keep the room dark.TeddyBear_Text copy

5- Finally, for the love of BLANK, ditch the night light. If your kid is out of diapers, they can turn on a bathroom light. It’s one thing to have small lights were there are stairs, etc., but not in the bedroom.

Happy Zzzzzs. x, Carolina

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ENERGY ON THE GO … QUICK SNACKS FOR MOM

If you’re like me, it’s hard to get three square meals in. On busy mornings my breakfast can be a musical plates rendition of eating my four kids’ leftovers. We all know that skipping any meal–especially breakfast–is not a good thing. Especially bad when it’s time for bed and I’m suddenly starving. That’s when Haagen Dazs yells at me from his stainless steel prison. “Let me out!” Or more like “Let me in!”

That’s why I’ve just started keeping some easy, homemade ‘snack packs’ in my mini-van and in my purse. And while I’m waiting for Chick 1 and Chick 2 to get out of school in the abominable pick-up line, I have something to munch on (of course, the kids are not allowed to eat in the car, but Mom is a constant rule breaker. Plus, I don’t leave crumbs!).

Some of my favorite energy boosters:

getty_rf_photo_of_tween_holding_healthy_trail_mix_snack

-CRISP CEREAL (like Special-K or Product 19) MIXED IN WITH RAISINS, DRIED CHERRIES AND DRIED PINEAPPLE … cereal is a great way to get filled up and obtain vitamins and minerals we may be lacking in (for me it’s iron), the dried fruit rounds it out and gives some natural sweetness

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– TRADER JOE’S THAI CHILI ROASTED ALMONDS (if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s just flavor roasted almonds with chili powder, salt, pepper, and lemongrass leaves)

 

roasted-and-salted-macadamias-SALTED MACADAMIA NUTS MIXED IN WITH COCOA NIBS .. chocolate, especially in this form, is chockfull-of goodness and antioxidants. This is a perfect pairing of semi-sweet and savory. Get a protein and mild caffeine boost.

 

sleep-banana- BANANA … how easy is that. Bananas are like a heaven-sent power bar. And you can buy them for 19 cents. Potassium, B6, manganese, vitamin C, biotin, fiber … and I could go on.

 

OLOVES-Hot-Chilli-Mama-906x906-OLOVES … a relatively new product. They are basically vacuum-packed olives with none of the juice, but all the flavors. Of course, I love the chili flavored ones. The packets are small, and not exactly cheap (walmart sells 10 for $15), but it adds to the variety. Of course, not everyone loves olives. I could eat a Costco-sized jar, but that’s just me!

ENJOY!  x, Carolina

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Tripping, Treading Water and Tree Climbing

treeChatting with a group of moms during preschool pickup, Chick 5 became bored with the conversation and asked permission (thank you Cat in the Hat!) to climb a nearby tree.

The higher she climbed, the more horrified one mother looked. She gave me an obscenely steely stare and then gaped in the direction of my daughter. I tried to ignore her judgmental eye popping. But she could not contain herself.

“She’s going to fall,” she blurted out. “She’s gonna fall!” Even louder. All of the moms remained speechless. Total buzz kill.

“Well, falling is a part of growing up,” I calmly responded. “Learning how to pick yourself up is the valuable lesson.”

(Though for the record, this was no towering tree and I was keeping a tight eye on her.)

“Really? She can break an arm!” she countered, looking at me like I was some kind of Mommy Dearest. This woman was relentless.

I was trying to control the urge to snap back at her when Chick 5 jumped down from the tree, waddled a little and fell on her rear end. Holding my breath to see if there would be tears or laughter, Chick 5 dusted herself off and with a huge smile powered by new-found confidence asked, “Hey Mom, can I do that again?”

All of the mom’s chuckled — some genuinely, others nervously. I responded, “Absolutely!”

Kids need to explore boundaries. Climbing trees, treading water, and scraping knees are all a part of the process. In life, we’ll figuratively and literally trip over many obstacles. I say, teach them early to dust themselves up and keep walking.

xx, Melissa