Archive for March, 2009

No chicken, just babies

March 25, 2009

Hope that wasn’t too tasteless for you all, to have the naked babies anchoring a page on how to cook chicken breasts. By way of apology I give you more twin boys and fewer chicken breasts.

P.S. Cannot WAIT to see what my Google search terms reveal today!

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Aren’t these onesies great? My co-photographer-in-crime for the weekend brought them as a gift for the wee ones, and we wasted no time making them into a photo prop.

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And yes, Leo is larger than his brother Matt. They were just trying to make a point about NOT being identical twins!

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They will have fun with these dollies one day. In the meantime, we had fun with them. A photograph with these colorful friends each month would be a great measure of how much they’ve grown!

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Kinda makes you feel sorry for singleton babies, doesn’t it?

Thanks for having me, boys! Can’t wait til our next snuggle!

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Food Friday: Balsamic Chicken

March 20, 2009

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Twin boys, age 2 1/2 weeks, still one week from their due date. Taken March 16, 2009.

Wondering what these gorgeous little loves have to do with Food Friday and chicken? Not much, except I made this when visiting these fellows last weekend, and I am convinced it is so easy even the sleep-deprived, frazzled parents of newborns might be able to make it. Might. Also, I couldn’t wait to post a preview of the photos we took, so here you go. This was my first time photographing twins, and lucky me, it won’t be my last—my sister and brother-in-law are expecting twins this summer, whee!

Matt and Leo are the lovely sons of our dear friends Jess and Dan, and another friend and I got the chance to spend the weekend with this new family of four. If you think cuddling a newborn is heavenly? Try two. While it certainly isn’t easy caring for needy wee ones around the clock and day after day, this mom and dad are already an amazingly synchronized team of completely equal caregiving, and I know they are all going to be just fine. Especially since they live around the corner from one of the world’s most amazing gelato experiences ever—84 flavors, I think.

Balsamic Chicken

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves, minced or 1/2 teaspoon dried (and if you live near me, I practically have a rosemary hedge, so come take some off my hands)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4-6 Tablespoons white wine (optional)

1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar

Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Combine the rosemary, garlic, pepper and salt in a small bowl and mix well. Place the chicken in a large bowl, drizzle with oil and rub with spice mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight. (We have never done this, and nor would parents of newborn twins–just pour it all together and cook–the flavors are so pungent that advance marination doesn’t seem necessary!)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, spray a heavy roasting pan or iron skillet with cooking spray and place the chicken in the pan. Bake for ten minutes and turn the chicken over. If the drippings begin to stick to the pan, stir in a few tablespoons of water or wine (if using).

Bake about 10 more minutes on other side or until a thermometer in the thickest portion regiters 160 and the juices run clear. If the pan is dry, stir in another tablespoon of water to loosen the drippings. Drizzle the vinegar over the chicken in the pan. (Again, did not do this, mixed it all together and cooked. Nothing was dry.)

Transfer chicken to platter or cutting board.

You can do anything with this chicken–serve it with rice or potato or over pasta with broccoli. I like to make it into a salad, so I slice the chicken into long strips and then add what I have on hand—red pepper, grape tomatoes, cucumber, Parmesan cheese, olives—and sprinkle it all over red leaf lettuce, washed and spun dry. I either make a dressing with oil and vinegar or use Annie’s Goddess Dressing on top. YUM. (And, for those of you in the South Beach Diet way of thinking, all perfectly legal, you can even have blue cheese dressing!)

A great tip for busy families is to make this at the beginning of the week (double it, even!) and use the sliced meat  in sandwiches, salads, soups and quesadillas.

Hope you can find a moment to make this, Jess and Dan! Your boys are amazing and so are you, will send all the photos after the weekend.  xo

Catching leprechauns

March 17, 2009

What requires an upside-down basket, some string, two baby blankets, three full cups of water, approximately thirty two-inch dinosaurs set up in a VERY SPECIFIC arrangement around the room and a rocking chair? (Actually, make that four full cups of water.)

Traps for leprechauns, of course, according to Will. Didn’t you set any up at your house?

That’s what Will did for the last half hour before bed last night. After arguing with Henry about whether leprechauns are real. Henry (age 2 3/4) says no, Will (age 4 3/4) says YES.

Did the traps work? Well, we didn’t find any little green fellows this morning, but the boys did wake up with leprechaun kisses on their hands (uh, green shamrock stamps and GO US for finding the green stamp pad at 9:30 p.m.).

Maybe we needed more cups of water.

Waiting for baby

March 16, 2009

You’ve seen lots of newborns here at H&W, but this is the first time I’ve posted a maternity shoot—and I don’t know why I don’t do more of these! It’s such a happy time to be with a couple, plus it comes WITHOUT the sleep deprivation that parents of newborns bring to the table.

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I spent a whole morning with Marissa and Joe, who are expecting their first baby next month, and I highly recommend spending time at their place. They have the most amazing cappuccino/latte machine I’ve ever seen, and Joe kept the custom orders coming all morning while Marissa and I, along with the lovely Sarah True of True Event and True & Wesson admired their gorgeous nursery and considered both wardrobe changes and ice cream flavors.

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Marissa is one of the most gorgeous pregnant women I’ve ever seen, and was completely up for anything. And if you could see the way she looks at her husband—SO sweet.

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Thanks guys, you were fantastic, and I can’t wait to hear the news of your new arrival.

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Celebrity baby

March 10, 2009

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Meet lovely Zoe, seven days old. This isn’t just any gorgeous newborn baby, but a true celebrity baby! Here’s why:

Zoe’s mom delivered Zoe with her husband by her side, except he was coaching her, supporting her and loving her via Skype—all the way from Afghanistan, where he has been stationed since last summer. And when they had to make decisions about the birth, he was there participating in the process.

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Zoe was the first baby born at this hospital with a father participating from overseas, but she sure won’t be the last—Zoe and her mom were on the news, and the hospital has been getting all kinds of calls from families in a similar situation.

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Given the special circumstances in her family, it was especially meaningful to shoot these photos of Zoe and her mom, knowing that dad would see them before he ever got to meet her. While I was shooting, I deliberately looked for those teeny tiny details and things like odd newborn eyerolls and funny expressions that, while not the stuff of beauty shots, captures a fleeting moment in her life that dad might not otherwise get to see.

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Isn’t she beautiful? Congratulations, Kelly and Joe!

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Zoe’s cousin Sydney takes a closer look.

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Cuzins

March 7, 2009

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I’ve been weeding through photographs, and keep making perfectly delightful discoveries along the way—like these, for example!

This is my cousin, Alanna, and her son, Justin, at our house at Christmas. I can always count on my cousin Alanna for any number of things—her excellent writing, her brilliant wit (any of her Facebook friends would agree) her ability to cram more things into a week than most people do in a year (she’s a single mom, a triathalete, a student and she works full-time) and our shared appreciation for food—but she is also my go-to for figuring out exactly how I am related to my cousin’s child and how my children are related to him. First cousin, twice removed? No idea.

But Alanna will know.

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Food Friday: Chocolate-Filled Monkey Bread

March 6, 2009

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Photo by Bake or Break

Dear Maria,

A few weeks ago I visited The Baker’s Store at King Arthur’s Flour, and you asked me to “think of a recipe you like, then get me what I need to make it.” A tall order, for sure. I roamed the aisles thinking, “Bread baking? Cookies? Pie? Brioche? Pizza? Crackers? Scones?” I considered almond flour, I pondered pizza crust flavoring and I examined the Great Wall of Chocolate while sipping an excellent cup of their Dancing Goat coffee.

And then I thought of the perfect Maria recipe: sweet, delicious, chocolatey and great for brunch, our mutual favorite meal—Chocolate-Filled Monkey Bread. In this recipe, individual chocolate-filled balls of sweet yeast dough are layered, rising into one magnificent loaf, a perfect centerpiece for any brunch. (Like the one we are both invited to later this month, hint, hint.) I tried this recipe at Christmas, made by my in laws, and it was delicious. They also gave me the cookbook, and Henry, Will and I enjoyed making it almost as much as eating it. You are going to love it.

Happy baking (and come visit SOON to collect your ingredients),

Love, Anna

Lora Brody’s Chocolate-Filled Monkey Bread

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

3 Tablespoons dough relaxer, optional (from King Arthur’s)

1 Tablespoon active dry yeast

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 extra-large eggs

1 1/2 sticks butter at room temp

For the sake of brevity, I am going to share the stand-mixing technique, because that is what I use. Let me know if you are desperate for the hand-mixing method, the bread-machine method or the food-processor method.

The Dough

Place the flour, sugar, dough relaxer (if using), yeast, salt, eggs, 2/3 cup (6 ounces) of warm water and the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted witht he dough hook. Kneed on low speed until a ball stars to form, then increase the speed to medium and knead for 5-7 minutes, adding more flour if necessary to form a soft, supple ball of dough. Turn off the mixer, remove the dough hook, leave the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. Gently deflate the dough, re-cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and as long as 24 hours.

To Assemble

Unsalted butter for the pan

25-30 pieces (1/2 ounce or so) of dark chocolate

1 stick unslated butter, melted and cooled slightly

1/2 cup sugar

(Can also use dried fruit with chocolate–cherries and apricots are particularly good)

Coat a 10 x5 x3-inch loaf pan (or a similar 8-cup capacity pan, like an angel food cake pan) with butter. Gently deflate the risen, refrigerated dough without kneading it—this will keep it relaxed and easy to roll. Place it on a slightly-floured work surface, and roll it into a 1/4-inch thick circle. Use a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter or other similar circles to cute 25-30 circles out of the dough, re-rolling and cutting any scraps. Place a piece of chocolate in the center of each circle, paint the edges of the dough with a little water, then gently stretch and mold the dough around the chocolate (or chocolate and dried fruit) to enclose it. (I actually skipped the water and it worked fine.) Pinch the edges together to form a neat package and (It helps to have an assistant here, I recommend your godson Henry for this task) dip each ball into the melted butter, roll it in the sugar and place it seam-side down in the bottom of the pan. Make two rows, then a second layer of two rows  resting on the spaces between the bottom pieces. Place any leftover balls of dough on top to make a third layer. Drizzle any remaining butter over the top, and sprinkle with any remaining sugar. Let the loaf rise, uncovered, at room temp for 30-40 minutes, or until almost doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven until 375F, with the rack in the center position. Bake for 60 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 200 F. It is essential to bake this break long enough for the insides to be cooked thoroughly, so if the top starts getting too dark before it is cooked, tent pan loosely with foil. (I could not have made this bread without an instant-read thermometer, because it will loose done on the outside long before it is done on the inside.)

Remove pan from oven and cool for 10 minutes on a rack before unmolding. Serve warm–best enjoyed the day it is baked, but reheats nicely wrapped in a clean towel in the microwave for just a few seconds. See you at brunch!

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Last week’s I promised two lucky commenters a copy of a fantastic community cookbook, Galley Watch: Twenty Years of Cooking with Williams-Mystic. Not only did I have the pleasure of editing this massive collection of goodness, I was a bona fide  member of the community, so was able to add some of my family favorites to the brew, immortalizing my mom’s pound cake recipe, my sister’s stir fry, my aunt’s penchant for chocolate and my Scottish grandmother’s shortbread recipe. Yum.

Since I had a few rogue commenters in the group who didn’t want to be part of the draw (they already own it), I did the draw without the help of my friend random.org, and instead used my old friend, paper bag. And since this cookbook is so darn good, I decided to pick THREE of you. No thanks necessary, just invite me over for dinner. 🙂

Galley Watch winners are: Applecyder, Katy and Christina. (I’ll send ’em out next week, make sure I have your address!)

How to charm me

March 2, 2009

Ask me where the “rogers” live.  (robbers) And ask me if they want to take your toys.

Will, age 4.5

And speaking of toys …

Throw your naked body over all the toys in your tub when I start to drain the water, crying out, “But the toys will go down the drain!” This applies to all toys, regardless of size. None of them are less than one inch in diameter.

Henry, age 2.5

Sorry folks, this was the best I could do when looking at this many inches of snow on what should be an almost spring day. Later this week—cute newborn and interview questions answered.