black smelt

Now that we’re living in California I started to buy the local catch of the week.

Some moths ago I had to manage to cook somethingvery rare for me and new: Black Smelt. They look like this:

First, I wash them with tap cold water and dried them with paper towels. Then, I cut the heads off  but you can use the whole fish as well (actually now I always use the whole fish!).

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Then, put them in a ziploc bag with flour and garlic salt or just regular salt and pepper (for 1LB of fish you’ll need 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt).

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Shake the bag until you can see that they are all covered with flour.

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Fry them on a regular pan with sunflower or canola oil until they are golden brown.

I also fried some plantains (I loved them very dark brown). You can complete the meal with some white rice and a cucumber salad.

This recipe was very easy and it turned out great that even my toddler ate it! You can also use little buckets for the presentation, I think it would look nice!

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The day after, I used some of the leftovers and made a yummy sandwich with some spinach and mayo on whole grain bread. It was a delicious lunch!

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marco’s 2nd birthday party

My son turned 2 in June and we had a small birthday party at home with just a few friends and some family.

Today I’m sharing a little bit of the party. This was the main¬†table:

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Most of the food was homemade. We had some organic meat empanadas, “chipas” (a gluten-free cheese bread made with tapioca flour), “sopa paraguaya” (corn flour pie with cheese, onions and eggs), organic¬†celery, organic baby carrots, organic grapes, pita chips, cheeses, hummus and some yogurt cilantro dip.

 

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I got the train letter from Ebay. The Festive Pennant Garland was from Martha Stewart Crafts.

I got the white 3-Tier Treat Stand from Wilton for the cakes and I used it separately (2 tier for 1 cake and 1 for other).

 

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I used some of Marco’s¬†lunch boxes as a food container also¬†giving the idea of “baggage”.

 

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Since it was also my mom’s birthday, I¬†made her a special cake, creating¬†a zebra-animal print pattern (she’s crazy about animal print patterns). I even got those zebra candles at Lucky’s supermarket, they looked¬†great in¬†this cake.

 

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For Marco’s cake I used Wilton’s fondant and a piece of train ribbon (non-eatable) that I got at Michael’s. Both cakes where chocolate cakes filled with cream and cherries and another part filled with dulce de leche, they were DELICIOUS!

 

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We put the train set on the coffee table so the children could play with it.

 

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I sewed the party favors bags some days before and I filled them with some train/car/planes stickers, a small car and a wood train whistle that I bought at a crafts store in Brooklyn through Amazon.

The trains whistles were a little big for the kiddos but the sound was just like a train and they loved it!

 

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Marco opening his party favor and taking out the wood train whistle.

 

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Marco was dressed as a Train’s Engineer. I bought the overall from Osh Kosh¬†and¬†a random white shirt. I got¬†bandana and¬†the hat at¬†Amazon.

 

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He loved his party and I am so glad that he enjoyed it as much as I did preparing all of it!

birthday party invitations

Today I’m sharing some of the creations that I¬†did for Marco’s 2nd Birthday.

Since he loves trains, we used it as the theme for his birthday party.

These were the invitations:
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I used Paper53 to draw and my husband used his designer magic to transform it to a cute invitation.

And these were the Thank You notes just using Paper53.
unknownCome back tomorrow for more pics from Marco’s 2nd Birthday Party!

my favorite challah recipe

After experimenting with¬†a lot of challah recipes, this is my favorite.¬†You’ll need:

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  • 4¬†cups unbleached all purpose flour*
  • 1 ¬†1/4 cup of warm water
  • 1 package dry active yeast
  • 1/2 tbsp¬†salt
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
  • optional: 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds¬†
  • optional: quickly beaten egg for brushing

In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle yeast over barely warm water. Add honey, oil, 1 egg, and salt. Add the flour one cup at a time, using the kitchen aid at medium speed.

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Knead until¬†it become a smooth and elastic dough but no longer sticky. It will take around 15′ using the Kitchen Aid Mixer.

 

Cover the bowl with a cloth. Let the dough rest at room temperature for 1.30 hours.

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Separate the dough in 3 pieces, flatten a little bit and make a braid. Cover the dough with a clean¬†cloth and let it rest for 45′¬†more minutes.

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After the resting time, you can either use a slightly beaten egg to brush it or just sprinkle the sesame seeds.

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Bake it at 350F for 30′ minutes or until the bread is¬†golden brown. Remove it from the¬†oven and let it cool.¬†The result is impressive and delicious!

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Enjoy it!

things to do in Brooklyn with a baby/toddler

These are some of the things we used to do with Marco during the time we lived in Downtown Brooklyn, NY.

Our favorite spots for those cold winter days or for the rainy summer ones:

  • Brooklyn Children‚Äôs Museum: Our favorite spot is the area right on the main level with water games -you don‚Äôt need to get wet- and blue sand. It‚Äôs great for ‚Äúsensory‚ÄĚ activities for the little ones. ¬†Where?¬†145 Brooklyn Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11213 ($$)¬†
  • Brooklyn Public Library: ¬†¬†FREE –¬†Big and great children’s area with lots of activities and with an adorable rug with some characters from Eric Carle’s books. Where?¬†10 Grand Army Plaza,¬†Brooklyn, NY 11238
  • Brooklyn Heights Public Library:¬†FREE –¬† It had a decent children‚Äôs area but a big con is that it only has fans and it gets very hot in the summer. Where?¬†280 Cadman Plaza West at Tillary St.,¬†Brooklyn, NY 11201
  • Carroll Gardens Public Library: ¬†FREE –¬†Another great place. The children‚Äôs area even though it‚Äôs small, it has some interesting toys specially for those between 1-2 yrs. Where?¬†396 Clinton St. @ Union St.¬†Brooklyn, NY 11231
  • Beer Garden in Fort Greene: ¬†What does a beer garden has to do with kids? Well, a lot! Because at Der Schwarze Koelner in Fort Greene you also can have fun! They organize a playgroup on weekdays around 2.30pm that for a little fee your little one can play around with the toys they provide while you eat a pretzel and drink a little something around him. Sounds nice, ha? Where? 710 Fulton Street, Brooklyn NY 11217 ($$)
  • Greenlight Bookstore: FREE – They organize sing-a-long and story time, provide a lot of good books and they have some nice toys. The place isn’t huge but it’s almost never crowded. Check their website to see the kids’ events. Where?¬†686 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY.
  • Moxie Spot: For those days that you need to get out of the house for a nice and at a great price activity but you don‚Äôt need to register for the classes months before! On the cons: the food is not very good and the toys are not in very good condition‚Ķ But still, you have a place to be that‚Äôs safe and it‚Äôs not your house! Where? 81 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11201 More info here¬†($)

Playgrounds Review:

  • Carroll Garden Playground: Small but it has a lttle bit of everything, even a water spray area for kids. Tip: Try going¬†during the morning,¬†it gets very crowded on weekdays afternoon and weekends.
  • Fort Greene: There are two playground areas. The one on Dekalb is less crowded and with younger kids. The one on Myrtle Ave. is big and it has a water spray area also but it’s crowded and sometimes not very safe.
  • Mc Laughlin Park: There’s a basketball court that’s always full of people but the playground is ok even though is more for older kids.¬†Just take care that sometimes there are people using non-legal substances, check before entering to the park.
  • North Pacific Playground: A gem! A small playground area but it’s never crowded! Woohoo! Marco loved this playground. ¬†This one is on Pacific St between 3rd Ave. and Nevins St., Brooklyn.
  • Brooklyn Bridge Park: Ok, so many areas to have hours of entertainment for every age. Until we left, these are ones we tried:
  1. Pier 1 playground: Super fun. There’s a lot of space to play around. Bring your picnic blanket and have lunch afterwards in the beautiful park with the amazing view of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge.
  2. Pier 5: It has a beautiful play space for younger kids under a tent so you don’t need to worry too much about been outdoors because there’s a nice shade that covers¬†the play space.
  3. Pier 6 Swing Valley: great for those little ones that love the swings! Marco used to loved this play area. Also it was good to practice his walking around this playground because the padded floor was very comfy and safe.
  4. Pier 6 Water Lab: Super crowded on weekends and afternoons but still an amazing place, specially for more than +2 years. The water is very cold and since it’s so full of kiddos it won’t be much fun for the little ones.
  • And of course, another great park is our beloved Prospect Park, where you can find a¬†carrousel, a zoo, 7 different playgrounds and lots of grass¬†to run around. Endless fun!

Enjoy Brooklyn!

great tip for summer walks

picnic

The summer is close to its end but you can still take advantage of the tip I’m going to share with you: carry a picnic blanket in your¬†diaper bag.

I have to tell you, ever since I bought my new portable and cheap blanket from Ichiban Kan, we have been doing a lot of spontaneous picnics!

Of course this blanket is not as¬†beautiful as our JJ Cole one but this cheap blanket was the perfect size,¬†waterproof,¬†light and small¬†enough to fit into the diaper “backpack”.

By the way, that’s another tip. Backpacks are much more easier to use than traditional diaper bags if you use public transportation frequently in San Francisco ūüėČ

 

things I didn’t know about babies

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A good advice that I can give another fellow mom:

If you have a smartphone, look for the free white noise app. Lots of noises that will help your baby¬†sooth or sleep wherever you are (plane, train, subway, on the go, on holidays, at your BFF’s house… WHEREVER and whenever¬†because it doesn’t need wifi to run!).

No smartphone?¬†Try using some videos from Youtube, just search “white noise” and you’ll find LOTS of videos some even last around 10 hours!

No internet around? Any of the items in the illustration work! Also others as a vacuum cleaner, fan, air conditioning… and of course, the “human white noise”: a quiet but constant “Shhhh” might do the trick ūüėČ