Mini Munchkin Weekend

Mike and I recently spent a weekend in Milwaukee for a family wedding and we were so blessed to have our entire family there including the two grandsons, Jackson (17 mos.) and Andy (13 mos.) Here is what I learned about babies at that special age:

BABIES LOVE TO CLAP. and they like it even more when you clap for them first. Then they can respond by clapping for themselves. At the wedding when we took the family photo, the bridesmaids and groomsmen all clapped so the babies would smile and they did!

BABIES LOVE TO SPLASH. The bathtub is the happy zone, unless they poop in the tub and they still want to play in the water. Get them out fast!

BABIES GET AS EXASPERATED AS ADULTS. When I would pick up little Andy from his crib, he would carefully hand me his blanket first, then raise his arms. I would put the blanket back in his bed so I could pick him up and he would SIGH, lower his arms and pick his blanket up again, while looking at me like I was not quite bright.

Jackson has an Elmo covering on his tub faucet and each day his mom would repeat over and over, “Who’s this? It’s Elmo. Say Elmo.” Finally one day he just opened his mouth and screamed “ELMO” so she would stop. Very funny and again so exasperated. He knew it was Elmo all along of course.

BABIES WAVE TO STRANGERS. When they are strolling or being carried, babies this age wave and point to people and dogs and cats. The really nice people smile and wave back which the grandparents love.

BABIES CAN RECOGNIZE THEIR OWN MOM AT 100 FEET. And I am not kidding. They can whirl those little heads around and follow where their mom is and God help you if she walks out the door or into another room.

BABIES LET FOOD AND MILK DRIBBLE OUT WHEN THEY DON’T LIKE IT. Nothing polite about this one. I was trying to teach Andy to use his new Elmo sippy cup. I thought I had conquered it until he opened his mouth and all the milk I thought he was swallowing began running down his face. That’s when I said, “Let his mom teach him this one.” They also seem fascinated when they tip the cup upside down and watch the milk dribble out onto the carpet.

JACKSON HAS AN ACTUAL VOCABULARY. Which consists of cookie, Elmo, daddy, Bubba and Moe (his dogs) and something that Stephanie says is “Mama” but sounds a lot like “MMMMM.” He also learned a new word in Milwaukee-key. His Dedo (Mike) managed to misplace the home and car keys TWICE going to events and causing a big ruckus each time, with finger pointing, complaining etc. Then Jackson, sitting quietly in his car seat says “KEY” and we all cracked up. He also knows a lot of other words – I just can’t remember what they are.

BABIES LOVE BOOKS. And they love to have you read to them. Often, its 27 books later and they are still interested but it IS one of the only times they will sit quietly and let you hold them.

SOME BABIES LIKE TO CLIMB ON FURNITURE. Like Andy, who catapults himself onto the cocktail table and sofa and also wants to stand on the dishwasher whenever it is open.

MOST OF THE AFTERNOON TOO. This sentence is all in caps because it is the most important. After all, they need to rest so they have the energy to clap and splash and spill milk and talk!!


A Treat of a Tart

Last weekend while thumbing through a local grocery publication I spotted a recipe that looked interesting. They proclaimed “If you only make one appetizer this season this should be it!”

Well, I thought, OK, let’s see if they’re correct and guess what,
THEY WERE! It came out crispy and delicious and looked festive too. Here it is.

Caramelized Onion Tart

1 pkg Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed on counter
10 slices bacon, fried and cut into 1” pieces
½ c. cottage cheese
2 large eggs
1 tbsp. flour
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 c. grated Gruyere cheese (I substituted Swiss as the Gruyere is so pricey but it is better)
6 medium onions, caramelized
1 tsp. chopped thyme or ¼ tsp. dried

To Caramelize Onions

This is very easy to do and caramelized onions can be used in a lot of ways – on bruschetta, on burgers, not to mention they are the basis for French onion soup.

In a medium frying pan melt 2 tbsp. butter and add 3 tbsp. olive oil. Peel and thinly slice about 6 onions and add to pan. On a medium- low heat start to sauté onions. As they become translucent lower heat and let fry until they are brown and rich and not yet crispy. This may take 20 minutes or more. Remove from heat. If you are not using them right away they can be stored in fridge. Add more onions as needed for larger quantities.

The Tart

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

While onions are caramelizing, fry bacon and cut into pieces and set aside, then shred cheese so it is ready. As puff pastry begins to thaw, gently unfold it on your counter and squeeze edges together. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment p
aper and place 5 sections of the pastry on the sheet. Discard the extra one or save it for some other use. Make sure pastry is thawed but still cold.

Mix in a blender or food processor (I used my mini chopper) the cottage cheese, flour, eggs, salt and pepper until smooth. Spread custard evenly on puff pastry. I sort of crimped the edges so it doesn’t run off the cookie sheet. Top with the cheese, onions, bacon and thyme all spread evenly.

Bake 30-35 minutes, let sit 5 minutes when out of oven.

Really, try this one – it is best hot or warm, but I saved a portion of it for the next day and had it cold for lunch and it was great!! It really is the best new appetizer I have found!