time for hummus!

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with a new season upon us, we’ve been enjoying cooking more hearty, slow cooked and warm meals at the apartment and trying new recipes as we go along.  our long time blog partner, sweetgreen, just revamped their entire menu with more seasonal ingredients, and they’re using hummus as a new ingredient this fall (and in their mediterranean inspired salad, the hummus tahina salad). we were really excited to hear they are adding hummus to the menu, because our family can’t get enough of that stuff!  we don’t usually do much with our hummus at home besides using it to dip our vegetables or pita bread into, so we were inspired by sweetgreen’s new menu to try our hand at making some at home this week and incorporating it into other dishes.

we share a hummus recipe below if you’d like to try it out!

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classic hummus

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons water (best to use the leftover chickpea water)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt to taste
  • paprika to sprinkle on top, to taste

let the chickpeas sit overnight, covered in about two inches of water and the baking soda. rinse well the following morning.  boil the chickpeas in a pot, covered slightly with water. once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer under you can crush the chickpeas between your thumb and finger easily.  peel the chickpeas (just pop them out of their loose skins.) puree everything in a food processor or blender adding a bit of the saved chickpea water occasionally to smooth over the paste. (you can continue to add more water if you’d like it thinner, and the hummus will thicken a little over time.)  after you dish the hummus, drizzle olive oil over it and sprinkle paprika on top. enjoy!

serves about 6-8. orginially adapted from this recipe.

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^^^it’s incredibly helpful if you can find a little one to be in charge of making sure the top of your blender does not go anywhere. i’m not sure i’ve ever seen samson take a job so seriously. :) ^^^

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^^^also, get yourself some button pushers. i guess it’s perfect timing since eleanor and samson just sort of figured out how to really push each others buttons and have learned how to get under their siblings skin throughout the day.  only seemed fitting that they both would want to push all the blender’s buttons, too!^^^

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^^^and there you have it! what i think to be some of the smoothest, most delicious homemade hummus around! enjoy!^^^

ps. if you can’t make it into sweetgreen to try their new seasonal menu, you can see a full menu of salads they create HERE if you’d like to try your hand at making them on your own, at home.  this post is in partnership with sweetgreen, a long time partner to this blog and our favorite place to get in our greens.

taza’s new york city guide: all about transportation

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hello! i’ve been having so much fun compiling some of our family’s favorite things to do in different neighborhoods around the city, but i wanted to do a quick post on transportation before continuing on with the city guides. navigating nyc transportation seems to be a big question i get a lot these days, especially for those of you visiting the city with little ones.

new york city, although technically a pretty small island, can be difficult to get around if you aren’t very familiar with the subway system, traffic, or…you have a stroller. :) it’s funny because i feel like it’s one of the most family friendly places to raise little ones and yet it’s not in many ways, when you really think about it. haha!

THE SUBWAY:  the easiest and most efficient way to get around new york city is by the subway.  you can pretty much get incredibly close to your final destination by taking a train, even if you have to transfer to a different line once or twice. but 9 out of 10 times, you’ll always beat city traffic by taking the train.  most subway lines run every few minutes, too. although there are often longer stretches between trains as well as delays on the weekends. (you can check the MTA train schedule HERE)

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TRAVELING WITH KIDS:  for those of you traveling in new york city with little ones in tow, navigating the subway system with a stroller is a whole other story.  i know strollers on the subway can be annoying for a few other travelers who don’t have kids, and i often feel awkward or out of place as i try to not be in the way with my big double stroller as we commute on the train. but it’s really the only way i’m able to get around the city with my kids. i don’t know, but i’m just really thankful for the subway train and that all are able to use it…and for the subway elevators, although they are few and far between and often really smelly. they make life a bit easier on this mama and her toddlers.

because most of the subways here aren’t very stroller friendly (think lots and lots of stairs!), the kiddos and i have gotten pretty good at knowing which subway stations DO have elevators, and also which of those elevators are working.  we plan our outings accordingly. there might be longer avenues and blocks we have to walk to get to our final destination since there aren’t elevators at each station, but there isn’t a better city for walking, so we don’t seem to mind.

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for any mamas out there traveling in or to new york city, we’ve put together a fun little printable subway map (at the top of this post) highlighting all of the working elevators in manhattan for you! (with a few notes as to which are under maintenance or not working at the time of this post.) thanks to elizabeth natoli for helping me create this!  just print it and take it with you! i hope it helps!

also, i want to note that the people of new york are incredibly friendly and *usually* very willing to help. so, if you do by chance end up at a subway station where there is no working elevator and a million stairs and feel a bit stranded because it’s just you and your heavy stroller, don’t fret. because someone will always be willing to help you carry it up or down the steps.  it’s one of the things i love most about this city, all of the people. well, the kind ones, at least. ;)

BIKES:  in addition to the subway,  i think the next best way to see the city is on a bike! we love biking around the city with our kids and there are several bike paths and bike lanes now, making it even more manageable and safe. we use our own bikes, but citibike has been around for a while now, and is a great bike sharing system available in the city.  they have thousands of bikes parked all over the island and available 24/7.  there are also a ton of bike rental shops all over the city (a big list HERE), which might be a better bet if you want a particular kind of bike, want it for a longer period of time, or need a child/infant seat, etc.

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TAXI CABS AND UBER:  since most people don’t have cars in new york city, yellow taxi cabs are always abundant in the city (unless of course you are running late! i swear!) maybe it’s just me, but i don’t think you can really visit new york properly without hailing down a cab at least once.  (right?!)  it’s a fun experience. samson is still obsessed with it and makes it his job to put his arm out and yell “TAXI! TAXI!” trying to flag down a cab whenever we might be needing one.  uber is also a helpful resource for getting around the city and perhaps a bit more reliable since you can plan ahead of time as well as get a fare quote in advance.

i know many use and prefer buses, but i haven’t taken one for years so i’m not as familiar with the system.  we’ve also heard really great things about the double decker tour buses often offered that showcase the city from a higher view, but i have never done one, so i can’t recommend.  hopefully this can come in handy to a few of you on your next trip to the city! once you have a grasp on the subway system, new york city feels far more accessible and fun. at least i think so!

the best gifts for a new mama.

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NEWMAMAsince i’ve had two babies now and i’m about to have another this winter, i feel like i’m finally *just* entering that phase of life where i can maybe pass a bit of wisdom or advice along to a new expecting mother and feel like it’s legit.  don’t get me wrong, just because i’ve done this mommy thing for a few years now doesn’t mean i know what i’m doing in the slightest, although it’s fun from time to time to pretend i do. ha!

here are a few things i feel like i’ve finally figured out when it comes to giving a gift to a new mama, thanks to first hand experience twice now and through the examples of other capable and inspiring mothers around me.  for instance, i now know that buying a super cute newborn sized baby outfit for an expecting friend, however crazy cute it may be, isn’t really what she or her baby needs, and how dropping a meal off or grabbing her grocery list and hitting the store for her, are really the kind of valuable gifts any mama is grateful to receive.

here’s my list of 12 best gifts for a new mama:

  • take her dinner. and if you can, make a second batch of something that’s freezable for another night
  • come over and just hold the baby for a bit while she sleeps or showers or just rests in another room
  • if she already has little ones at home, schedule a few playdates outside her home for her little ones, or come take them off her hands for a few hours one afternoon so she can focus just on baby
  • get a hold of her grocery list and do her grocery shopping for the week. add a few fun treats to the list too. i’ve never known anyone who has complained when they’ve found chocolate covered strawberries by accident in their kitchen! or  take her to the grocery store and be on baby watch while she shops. (a girlfriend of mine in DC did this with me a few weeks after eleanor was born. josh was back to work and going out all on my own with eleanor still felt a bit daunting, but i was dying to get out besides just a walk around the neighborhood. it felt so nice to shop in a store on my own and still feel like i had backup by having a friend close by.)
  • give her a sincere compliment and hug. hearing the words “you are a really great mama” from someone you love is huge, especially when you might not be feeling that way. and i’m telling you, i’m not the hug-y type, but hugs are even better when you’re a bottle of emotional hormones
  • take the baby and give her a night out with her other girlfriends or with her husband. if it’s her first, this of course might not really happen for several months, ha! but offer (and keep offering!) to take the baby even just for a few hours while she gets out and does something with friends! she’ll eventually cave and do it, and she’ll be eternally thankful afterwards

and here are a few meaningful gifts to give if you live far away and can’t give your time…

  • a new journal or memory book for her to record all her new “insomnia” thoughts
  • book a massage for her at a nearby spa (figuring out all the new nursing positions really takes a toll on your back those first few months)
  • send her a box of beautiful thank you notes and also a big package of stamps
  • send her a fun and bright new colored lipstick and nail polish to match so she can feel “put together” even while still in her pj’s at home
  • an engraved ring or necklace with baby’s first initial or name (i wear a stack of rings in place of my wedding band with all of my family’s names on them, and i love looking down at my hand and seeing their little names on my finger throughout the day)
  • if she has a smartphone, get her a gift card for e-books or fun apps…because you’ve gotta be able to do something/anything during all those late night feedings in the dark, and sometimes doing puzzles or reading e-books is just the way to go

did i miss anything you’ve found incredibly helpful or meaningful from a friend or family member during your new time as a mama? i’d love to hear more suggestions or ideas beyond the baby clothes and baby toys gifting route. :)

over the weekend…

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one of my favorite times of the year happened over the weekend. general conference weekend! we bunker down at home eating a lot of good food, tend to all the neglected household projects on our long to-do list, and snuggle up on the sofa together as often as two toddlers allow to watch 8 hours (broken up into four 2-hour sessions of course) of general conference. it’s a time where our church leaders share inspirational messages and wisdom with us broadcast live from salt lake city.  i have a bit of catching up to do with all the talks, since i probably only really processed half of it all with the kids, but from what i did gather, it was a nice reminder of spiritual things and their importance in my life and a motivator to do my best, improve, and keep going during these crazy times.

saturday started off with a rain storm that stayed pretty consistent throughout the day. in-between sessions of conference we worked on a lot of projects. we have moved our furniture around several times the past few days, josh painted a wall in the apartment green (!!!), and i de-cluttered our apartment like it was my job. i suppose it is my job, actually. and i had been slacking.   i don’t think “nesting” ever kicked in as hard with eleanor and samson as it has with this third baby coming.  and i am loving it because we are getting things done! things on our to-do list from two years ago…. you wanna get stuff done on that weighty to-do list, have a baby. lol. just kidding.

on saturday night, it took me approximately 1 hour and 26 minutes to get the kids to bed.  usually josh and i tag team it (we each take one) and it goes much more smoothly and quickly, but josh was out for the evening at the priesthood session of conference and i think my kids decided it was the perfect opportunity to team up together and drive mama crazy.  i kept thinking, i’m the mom. i should have this. but i didn’t have it at all. and then i started envisioning what it’ll be like with three against me, and i just started panicking.  brush teeth? we are pirates, mama. you can’t brush our teeth.  3 books before bed? how about twenty, mama.  lay down? ha! neverrrr, mama.  it’s a little bit scary how quickly kids can go from testing your patience to then wrapping their arms around you and kissing you voluntarily.  how quickly all is forgiven and right once more in the world.  but seriously, my saturday night was one for the books.

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on sunday, we went to the park for a few scooter races between sessions.  everybody wins in our family, no matter who hits the finish line first. it makes for a lot of fun with this sort of set up, at least at this age.  i’m so impressed with how well both kids do on those scooters (you did well too, josh), and the weather was just perfect to stay out and race until our little legs got tired.

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here’s the 30 week baby bump! i feel like i’m carrying a hefty sized bowling ball everywhere i go at this point and then i read that my baby weighs almost 3 pounds at 30 weeks and i’m like, ONLY 3 POUNDS?! this math is not adding up! but i have the best news ever! since baby is due in december and samson came almost two weeks early, we’re kind of not sure what to expect this round timing wise.  so the other day josh is all, “maybe we put the christmas tree up before thanksgiving this year, just so everything is ready for whenever the baby shows up.” you have no idea how hard i tried to play it cool and act all, “oh sure. i guess we could do that…” while on the inside i was like, ‘BEST YEAR EVER!!!!!!!!’ so yeah, this is shaping up to be the best year ever. because christmas is coming early. and i’m really into that idea.

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for the last few weeks, we’ve been on a smoothie kick every morning.  i’m not sure how it started, but the kids request one every morning and josh gets the blender going with them while i get ready for the day.  it’s a nice way to sneak in their vitamins (and spinach) and they feel like they are really making it all by themselves, so we’re running with it.  of course i was enjoying the smoothies as well until i noticed josh wasn’t cutting off any of the strawberry stems and leafs and just throwing them into the blender with all the other stuff. doesn’t sound like a big deal but i get so nauseous so easily these days that it made me want to throw up when i found out and i got really mad.  even as i write this i’m realizing how silly it sounds but seriously, you’re supposed to cut those things off. who eats the leafs and stems on a piece of fruit?

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just when i think we might be done with naps at our home (i wish they’d nap forever, but my kids tend to give them up on the earlier end of toddlerhood, i find samson passed out at 5pm in his nursery. 5pm is the perrrrffffect time for a nap. ;) but no way am i about to wake a sleeping babe. not until they are teenagers.  of course this means our entire schedule gets off for a full day or two afterwards, but it is what it is. unpredictable and all over the place. hi to life with little ones.

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i neglected taking pictures of all the stuff we ate over the weekend, sorry. know how much everyone loves food pictures. just kidding, i know that’s just me. but this salad josh made to accompany dinner on sunday evening was delicious.  we also juiced a lot of produce over the weekend, had friends over for dinner, and i ate an entire container of trader joe mini peanut butter cups.  i don’t even like peanut butter and chocolate together! but i ate all the peanut butter cups.  all of them.

here’s to monday, folks! hope you had a great weekend, too!

ps. my striped shirt was a kind maternity gift from hatch collection. thank you so much, hatch!

toddler eats: cooking with apples!

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after coming home last week with 6 (six!!!) full bags of apples from our apple picking adventure in connecticut, i realized that despite my lack of creativity in the kitchen, i really should be able to do more than just an apple pie or apple crisp this fall for my family.  our friend kelsey nixon, who happens to be one very talented chef here in new york city, kindly showed me 4 fun and simple toddler friendly apple recipes! kelsey covers a breakfast, lunch, and dinner dish below plus the sweetest little dessert! i want her to just move into my kitchen permanently and whip this stuff up all the time, or better yet, maybe all of us can just move into her kitchen (because isn’t that space just gorgeous?) thank you again kelsey, and hope these might be helpful to a few of you as well!

Here is what Kelsey says:

One of the greatest things about early fall is apple picking. It’s become a tradition for many and if you’re like most families, you end up coming home with more apples than you know what to do with! You can only bake so many apple crisps and dip apple slices into peanut butter for so long before you end up staring at your heap of apples trying to not feel guilty that you might not get through them all! We’ve all been there. To make the most of your hand picked delicious apples, I’ve come up with a few recipes that include apples for every meal of the day (including dessert!). The best part is that everyone in the family will love these recipes – especially your toddlers!
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Breakfast – Spiced Apple Pear Butter
As a parent of a toddler, I make a lot of toast! It’s a frequent request from my little guy and we particularly love spreading this rich and delicious apple butter on crispy toast or bagels in the morning. It’s similar to applesauce, but the biggest difference is that apple butter is cooked longer and slower than traditional applesauce which allows the sugar in the apples to caramelize, turning the apple butter a deep brown color. Not only does this produce a wonderful flavor, but the concentration of the sugar gives it a much longer shelf life making it a perfect spread to keep in your fridge to get you through the fall months. The best part is that this long and slow cooking process is done in your slow cooker, making it super easy! See the full recipe here.
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Lunch – Grilled Apple, Bacon, Cheddar Sandwich
What kid or adult doesn’t love a warm grilled cheese sandwich for lunch?! This classic sandwich with a twist is the perfect combination of flavors – apple, cheddar, bacon, and mustard. It may sound a little crazy, but when all of that goodness ends up into between two slices of bread, you’ve got a match made in heaven. In way it’s like a grown up grilled cheese that still excites the kiddos! See the full recipe here or find it in my cookbook Kitchen Confidence
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Dinner – Pork & Apple Meatballs over Buttered Egg Noodles
One of my favorite ways to incorporate apples with savory flavors is using pork – the sweet and rich flavors play really well with one another. My homemade meatballs were begging for a makeover and a grated tart apple seemed like a fun addition to the ground pork base. While these started out as an experiment, we quickly realized that they are terribly addicting in the best kind of way. Watch out or your toddler may just swipe the meatballs from your own plate! These were so easy to put together, a formal recipe isn’t even required. Simply combine 1 lb. ground pork, 1 tart apple (peeled and grated), 1/2 white onion (grated), 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs, 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, and 1 large egg in a mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. Mix to combine but avoid over-mixing. Once combined, portion into golfball sized meatballs on a lined baking sheet. Transfer to an oven on low broil and bake for 8-10 minutes or until they start to turn golden brown on top. Serve over buttered egg noodles tossed with grated parmesan cheese and a little chopped parsley.
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Dessert – Caramel Apple Bites
An entire caramel apple is definitely too much for a toddler to handle, but there’s something about the nostalgia of a caramel apple that’s fun to enjoy as a family. These itty bitty caramel apple bites are not only fun to eat, they’re also really fun to make! Pick out your largest apples and using a melon baller or a metal 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon, scoop out an apple ball from your big apple. A large apple should yield about 8 apple bites. You can use your favorite homemade caramel recipe or simply melt down the wrapped caramels that you find in stores this time of year to create a caramel sauce perfect for dipping. Insert a toothpick (with a dull end on the opposite side preferably) and dip your apple bites into the warm caramel sauce. Transfer the bites to a baking sheet lined with wax paper to cool before enjoying.
What’s your favorite unexpected way to incorporate apples into your cooking this time of year?
All photos by Kylie Whiting.