Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Foodie: Not-really-refried beans

Since I met Billy, I have been on the bean bandwagon. Make all the jokes you want but beans are easy to cook, taste great, can be eaten any time of day and, bonus, are very healthy! In El Salvador, like much of Latin America, beans are a staple food. Beans and rice together form a complete protein which is a great substitute for lots of people who cannot afford meat. So, down there, its normal for everyone to eat beans every day, sometimes at more than one meal. When I'm there, I have beans at every breakfast and sometimes at dinner, too. When in Rome...

Anyway, today's post is specifically about refried beans. This is one of the two ways they typically eat beans in ES, the other being a pan fried bean and rice combo called casamiento. I had never had refried beans before going to ES so I didn't know how to cook them myself. We tried to get the recipe when we were down there but things got lost in translation and I was not able to really understand the steps. Google to the rescue. I found this recipe on my favorite recipe site, Allrecipes, and its so easy even a caveman can do it. You should probably go get your crock pot out now. This will only take a second.

Not Really Refried Beans


3 cups dried back or small red beans
1 onion, peeled and cut into quarters
4-6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 small jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped
5 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
9 cups liquid - any combination of water, chicken stock or vegetable stock will do.

Put everything in the crock pot. Set to high for 8 hours but check periodically to make sure that you haven't run out of liquid. Add more if necessary. When 8 hours is up, pour away any remaining liquid on top and reserve. Mash beans with a potato masher or put in food processor for a smoother consistency. Use reserved liquid to achieve desired texture.

Here are some great uses for refried beans:

Grilled beans and cheese
Beans and eggs
Breakfast burritos
Rice, beans and veggie bowl
Mexican Pizza
Pupusas (see recipe next Friday!)
Bean and avocado quesadilla

Buen provecho!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Craftiness: Silhouette Portraits

Every so often, my crafty side makes its way to the surface. Lately, it came around to help with Christmas. It knows I need it.

Specifically, I needed help getting a cute gift for the grandparents that wasn't a typical picture of the kids is some picture frame that says "LOVE" or "FAMILY" on top. Luckily, a week or so ago, I saw on the Zimmer Zoo a post about silhouette portraits. There is a very talented local artists who does them free-hand (ya, amazing, I know). She was in town but I didn't have my act together to make an appointment. Shocking, right? But I still loved the idea as something a little different but just as nice to give to as a gift. So, I was on a quest to do it myself.

My Google search for how to do it resulted in a lot of professionals, which would require time and money, two things I don't have lots of. But, I found another blog (I would link but for the life of me, I can't find it now...) that showed how to do it yourself. She used Photoshop. I don't have Photoshop so I had to improvise. If you, like me, are short on time, money and Photoshop, here is how you can still do your very own silhouette portraits:

Step 1

Take a picture of your child in profile. Catch them while they are watching TV or something else interesting. You may already have a photo that works - check your albums.

Step 2

Using whatever software you have (I use Picasa), crop your picture so that you can zoom in just on the head. Then, to save on color ink, switch it to black and white or grayscale.

Step 3

Using MS Powerpoint (or MS Word, but I prefer PP), insert your photo onto the page and adjust it (keeping the ratio intact) to your desired size. The first ones I did were as big as possible and now will barely fit into an 8X10 frame. Learn from my mistakes and do them a bit smaller. You could also fit two on one Powerpoint slide and that will give you portraits appropriate for a 5X7 frame.

Step 4

Print out the slide. With a pen or pencil, trace along the outline of the head and face. Then cut out very careful along your line. Be especially careful around the nose and mouth as those areas will really tell you whose portrait it is.

Step 5

Take your cut out and trace it onto very nice black paper. I found this paper at a craft store. Its much heavier than regular card stock but regular card stock would work just fine. Just don't use construction paper - it's not a very dark black and won't look as nice in the end. Cut out along your lines, again very carefully, especially on the face.

Step 6

Now you can mount your portrait. I sued the same kind of paper for my mount (not shown in the picture below) in an off-white color to give it an antique-y look.

Step 7

Place in your frame of choice, wrap and give to Grandma.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Matteo at 4 months

Matteo hit the 4 month mark on Saturday. This is the age I swore I would do CIO with him if wasn't already sleeping through the night. But, now that it's here, I'm not quite ready. he just seems so young. I did CIO with the twins closer to 6 months so perhaps that's why. Either way, I will probably wait until after our vacation to El Salvador for New Year's to bother with it. Feeding him at 2am is not ideal but it's not so bad either. With the twins, I had to feed them both which took longer, even if I did it at the same time, and I had to pump afterward. With Matteo, I just feed him for 5 minutes and then stumble back to bed.

Other than nighttime sleep, here is what's going on for Matteo these days:

He is napping better, although his morning nap is still shorter than his afternoon nap which surprises me. Usually 1 -1.5 hours in the morning vs. 1.5 - 2 (sometimes more!) in the early afternoon. Most days he usually needs a third nap but if he naps for a very long time in the afternoon, he can make until bedtime without it.

He still nurses almost every two hours during the day. A lot of this has to do with the fact that I nurse him before naps. On the bright side, he only needs to nurse for about 5 minutes so I don't really mind how often it is.

He smiles and laughs so much. He loves to watch his brother and sister play. And the dog, too. He loves when I talk right to him and tickle his belly.

He does not really love his exersaucer yet but tolerates it. He much prefers to playmat with the light-up star. ANd his bumbo so he can get in on the action at meal times. He tolerates tummy time but doesn't enjoy it for more than a few minutes.

My boy is still growing fast. He is in size 3 diapers but I still have so many size 2 diapers left that I am using those during the day and 3s at night. He is in 9 month clothes for the most part but can still squeeze into some of his 6 month stuff.

He is a hand-sucker. I may have my first thumb-sucker with this one once we ditch the swaddle. And he won't take a paci - an endeavor a gave up on a while ago, actually. I don't want him turning out like his big brother, addicted to that thing like baby crack.

And here is, all 4 months of him!