Thursday, December 23, 2010

Food/Health Notes from Nov Mtg

Thanks Heather, Courtney and Spud!!

Spud generously donated healthy snacks to group: fruits/veggies, chips and dips!

Darcy shared about Spud's organic home delivery service, which she loves. She gets all her produce and dairy products and more delivered every Tuesday by ordering online. Get a $25 discount after four deliveries (no charge on orders over $33). Coupon: CRODAR

Read more on Darcy's blog: Sustainable Family Finances

Notes from Heather's part of the discussion:
  • Fruit and veggies at every meal
  • Don't worry about getting enough protein, worry about fruits/veggies
  • Create a supportive community to share and encourage
  • Meal swapping with neighbors and friends is a great way to reduce cooking duties (just prepare twice as much!)
  • Heather cooks a big batch of oatmeal every week, quinoa for adults
  • Kids love smoothies and often will eat berries that they won't touch otherwise
  • Respect preferences but continue to put brusell sprouts on their plates
  • Always serve two different veggies at dinner
  • Roast everything together - kids love roasted cauliflower
  • Mix half or 2/3 cauliflower with potatoes for "mashed potatoes"
  • Darcy asked about what to do with leftover acorn squash that the rest of the family won't touch - Mindy suggested making milkshakes with nutmeg, yum!
  • Puree squash to include in grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Transition kids to plain yogurt - use honey or homemade jam - TJs has fruit preserves with less sugar to add flavor without so much sugar
  • Use a cheesecloth to make your own Greek yogurt - way less expensive!
  • Talked about how short lunches are - kids need to be able to open their own lunches - have them practice. Don't waste time on carrots (serve as after school snack).
  • Keep it simple - hearty sandwich with granola bar.
  • Feed Our Families

Courtney's Weight Loss Resources

Weight Watchers (website, meetings, facebook, tweets, magazine, cookbooks)

Clean Eating (magazine, cook books)

Feed Our Families (blog and FB)

Couch to 5K – training program (podcasts, website)

Bally’s Total Fitness (multiple locations – many with kids clubs, FB, tweets) Running (emails with information and ideas)

NikePlus (tracks pace, distance, etc)

Map My Run (maps your route, tracks pace, distance, etc)

Map My Walk (tracks pace, distance, etc)

Run Like A Mother: The Book (book, blog, FB)

Runners World (magazine, FB, Tweets, website)

Women’s Running (magazine, FB, Tweets, website)

urbanMama Runners (FB and local running group)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

This time of year I love baking cookies; it's the only time of year I bake cookies. We have a couple basic ones we love at our house and they are great to make with your kids. For each, you can use store-bought cookie dough or your favorite cookie dough recipe.

Rudolph Peanut Butter Cookies
1 batch peanut butter cookie doughred M&M's - it's fun for kids to separate the red from the other colors (and sneak a few in the process)mini chocolate chipspretzel sticks

Form cookies - Roll a ball of dough in your hand and press flat onto a cookie sheet. Each cookie should be about 2" in diameter. You kids can add eyes (mini chocolate chips), noses (red M&M's) and antlers (pretzels). Bake based on the recipe for the dough.

Spicy Kisses
1 batch spiced cookie dough - you can use regular sugar cookie dough and add 1 t cinnamon, 1/2 t nutmeg, 1/2 t ground ginger and/or 1/4 t cloves
white chocolate Heresy's kisses - kids can unwrap the kisses

Form cookies - Roll a ball of dough in your hand and place on a cook sheets. Flatten a little with your hand, then use an unwrapped kiss to flatten it further. Bake based on the recipe for the dough, but move the oven rack one down from the middle to prevent the kisses from burning on the tops.

Candy Canes - requires chilling
1 batch sugar cookie dough, separated
red food coloring
peppermint extract

Add 3-4 drops of red food coloring and 1 t peppermint extract to 1/2 the cookie dough and mix thoroughly. Wrap each ball of dough, white and red, in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 min or so. To form candy canes, use a-bit-more-than-1-T of dough from the white and a-bit-more-than-1-T of the red. Roll between your hands or on a cutting board, until it's about 8 inches long. Twist the two together, lay on the cookie sheet and shape into a candy cane. Bake according to the recipe for the dough.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week - Thanksgiving Special

Next week is turkey day! I absolutely love this holiday and all the great food. Because we only do it for Thanksgiving and Christmas, we make everything (I mean everything) from scratch. It takes a lot of time, which is why I started this weekend with cranberry sauce and baking the pumpkins for the pie. You can see both those recipes at my blog - Here is another staple of the Thanksgiving feast:

Basic Green Bean Casserole
Makes 8 servings
Time = 1 hr (30 min active)

2 T butter (not margarine)
1 small onion, diced
1/4 c flour
1 1/2 c milk
1/2 c buttermilk
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 1/2 lb green beans, trimmed

Melt butter in pan and saute onions until soft. Whisk in flour and then slowly whisk in the milk. Stir over medium heat until just thickening. Remove from heat and add buttermilk and the remaining ingredients to beans.

Steam the beans until just fork tender, then plunge into very cold water to stop the cooking. Mix the beans with the sauce and pour into a large greased casserole dish. Cover and bake at 350 f for 25-30 min or until bubbly.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

This cold, rainy weather makes me want comfort food and one of my all-time favorite comfort foods is meatloaf. Here is a great meatloaf recipe from Jamie Oliver. I tweaked it by not including chiles in the sauce (Jordan doesn't like spicy food) and I served it with green beans. Yum, yum!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Corn Chowder Soup
Servings = 6
Time = 40 min

1/4 lb thick cut bacon
1 T olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 c potato, cubed
2 cans creamed corn
1 large can stewed tomatoes
2 c water
1 T sugar
1 1/2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
1 c milk

Fry bacon until crispy and set on a paper towel to cool. Meanwhile, in a large pot saute onion in olive oil until soft. Add onion, potato, corn, tomato, water, sugar, salt and pepper to pot. Slowly bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until potatoes are fork tender. Remove from heat. Stir in milk. Break bacon into bite size pieces and add to soup.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

These better-for-you rice crispy treats are delicious and much more healthy than the tranditional version. My daughter and I made a batch for Halloween that had orange and black sprinkles on top. Enjoy

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Usually we post dinner recipes, but today I'm going to post a breakfast idea - banana pancakes. Make your family's favorite pancakes - Red Mill has a good mix. We make sourdough pancakes. When the cakes are in the skillet, slice banana in before you flip. It may sound strange, but it is very, very yummy!

If you are interested in sourdough, there is post on my blog all about it ...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Hi - Instead of posting a new recipe this week, I'm going to respond to some of the comments raised at the last meeting after Darcy discussed her difficulty making healthy meals after work and then feeling guilty that she didn't have time.

There are lots of creative ways to make dinner time easier on a working family (food swap). Here is how I deal with it. First, boring doesn't mean it's not a good, healthy dinner. Ask yourself what's important - fancy new dishes or something your family will eat that is actually good for them? I'm guessing the later. I make a weekly dinner menu of meals my family likes. Here's an example for the fall season:

Sunday - Spaghetti and salad
Monday - Leftover spaghetti and salad
Tuesday - Baked chicken, potatoes and green beans
Wednesday - Leftover baked chicken tacos (lettuce, tomatoes, black beans and cheese)
Thursday - Pork chops, couscous and corn
Friday - Pizza Night! (Give yourself a break)
Saturday - Experiement with something new

The first big hint is to make double batches of food so you have at least two nights covered. The second hint is that not everything has to be from scratch. Use a jar of spaghetti sauce and dress it up with pre-cut mushrooms. Use pre-cut, pre-washed salad mix. Keep frozen green beans and corn kernels on the ready. Have boxes of pre-spiced couscous in the pantry. Third hint, make use of the microwave - potatoes take an hour in the oven but only 10 minutes in the microwave.

If your family gets bored - Use alfredo sauce and penne pasta instead of marinara sauce and spaghetti noodles. Substitute sweet potatoes intead of russet. Use broccoli in stead of green beans. Make risotto instead of couscous (there are good, quick boxed risotto mixes available). Do salmon instead of pork. Personally, I change up the menu each season but I always keep it simple - mac-n-cheese, chili, grilled hamburgers, soup.

I also suggest that you plan your menu out each week on Sunday and get all your shopping done. If you have time on Sunday, you an pre-chop veggies too. Good luck!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Putting the Garden to Bed

For those who garden, October means time to put the garden to bed for the winter. I recently took a class, offered by the Clark County Master Composters, about lasagna gardening. This is a technique for creating a no-till, no-dig garden. And you start it in the fall. This is also a really good option for anyone planning on starting a garden, or a new bed, in the spring. Here are the steps starting from the ground up:

1. If you are starting a new garden or bed, you need a weed barrier. News paper, about one day's worth thick, works well. Cardboard is also a good option. Cotton, linen, burlap or any other all natural fiber will work too. Lay the material out, overlapping slightly, over the entire area where your garden will be. Note - If you already have a garden, then skip this step.

2. Add a woody layer. This layer helps with drainage. Use twigs, corn stalks, pine cones - anything with a lot of structure that won't decompose quickly.

3. Layer "greens" and "browns", alternating, until it is 18-24 inches high. "Greens" are food scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells, grass clippings, manure, etc. Don't use any meats or fats in your "green" layer because the smell will attract rats. "Browns" are dry leaves, straw, shredded newspaper,shredded office paper (no color ink), etc. If you are starting a new bed, make it 24 inches high. It will shrink down as it composts.

4. Cover it. If you are doing this in the fall, end with a "brown" layer of dried leaves. If you are doing this in the spring and need to use it soon, cover it with black plastic. The black plastic will keep the heat in and cook the compost. It will be ready to use in 6 weeks. If you are going to cook it, add more layers of "browns" than "greens".

In the spring, plant right into your compost. No tilling or turning needed. The following fall, start at #2 above but only build the compost up 12-18 inches.

The best question asked in the class was "What if I don't have enough food scraps and shredded news paper to build my bed all at once?" The answer was to do it a little at a time. Put down the weed barrier and the woody layer over the whole area you intend to have as the garden. Over the fall and winter add "greens" and "browns" as you have them available. In the spring it won't be completely composted but you can actually plant right into the still-composting material - the plants will do just fine.

Happy gardening!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Root Veggies Mac-n-Cheese
Servings: 8
Time: 30 min

1/2 lb carrotes, sliced 1" thick
1/2 lb parsnip, sliced 1" thick
1 lb elbow pasta
4 T butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, diced
3 T flour
2 c 2% milk
1 T Old Bay Seasoning
2 1/2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese (9 oz)
1 c shredded Parmesan cheese

Bring pot of salted water to boil; add carrots and parsnip. Cook 10 minutes or until tender. Drain and transfer to a food processor or blender - puree. Bring second pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta until al dente (5 min). Drain.

Meanwhile, in a lare pan, melt butter. Saute onion and garlic for a few minutes. Add flour and stir until just moistened. Whisk in milk and simmer until just thickened. Remove from heat. Add Old Bay Seasoning. Add 2 cups of the cheddar cheese and melt while stirring slowly with a wooden spoon. Taste and season with salt/pepper.

Preheat broiler. Stir pureed veggies and cheese sauce into pasta. Transfer to a casserole dish and sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese. Broil for 5 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Note: The trick to not having grainy sauce is to remove the sauce from heat and letting it cool for a couple minutes before adding the cheese. It will take longer to melt the cheese, but the cheese won't separate and the sauce will come out smooth.

From: Rachael Ray Magazine (Oct 2010)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

October 14 Meeting: Life Coach Savannah Mayfield

CityMamas ~

We are really excited about our guest speaker on Thursday, October 14th:

Savannah Mayfield, LMT, CEC

Savannah is a certified life coach who loves supporting women as they embrace the wisdom of their creative, feminine essence. She is inspired by women creating intentional, purpose-filled lives. She runs holds Women’s Circles regularly in Portland at Zenana Spa and Wellness Center.

Her topic for us will be:
Transforming limiting thoughts about motherhood
(Particularly related to guilt)

Whether you are just returning to work after having a baby or you are a mama professional needing some extra support, this session is for you!

Join us and feel more centered!

Thursday, October 14
12 - 1:30 pm
Portland Building, 3rd Floor,
Blazed Alder Room

Please let us know if you will attend so that we can give her a head count.

Your CityMamas co-chairs

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

This week I thought I'd provide a link to recipes for green tomatoes. Thankfully, the past week of sun and heat has ripened some of my tomatoes, but most are still green and will likely remain that way.

The link has two recipes for pickling and two recipes for cooking with green tomatoes.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Pumpkin Apple Bread
Makes 2 loaves or 24 muffins

3 c sugar
1 c oil
3 c pumpkin puree
1 t cinnamon
1 t salt
4 t baking soda
2 c apples, peeled and chopped
1 c rasins or chopped dates (optional)
5 1/2 c flour (5 c if you are using canned pumpkin)

In a large bowl, mix sugar, oil and pumpkin. Add spices, salt and baking soda. Mix well. Add apples and rasins. Stir in flour. Pour into two greased (or lined with wax paper) loaf pans. Bake at 350 F for 1 hr 15 min. Cool 15 min before cutting.

To make as muffins, spoon batter into lined tins. Bake 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean

Friday, September 10, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Pasta with Zucchini
Servings = 4
Time = 20 min

2 c cherry tomatoes, halved
2 T minced shallots
1 tsp minced fresh thyme
2 tsp lemon juice
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp sugar
5 tsp olive oil, divided
9-oz refrigerated linguine
2 minced garlic cloves
3 c chopped zucchini (1 lb)
3/4 c chicken broth (or veggie broth)
1/3 c Romano cheese, grated
3 T sliced almonds

Combine first 7 ingredients, through sugar, in a medium bowl. Add 2 tsp oil and toss to coat. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting oil. Drain. In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, add 1 T oil and garlic. Saute 30 seconds. Add zucchini; saute 30 seconds. Add broth; bring to simmer. Stir in pasta. Remove from heat. Add zucchini to tomato mixture - stir. Sprinkle with cheese and almonds - serve with more cheese.

Notes - You can use diced onion instead of shallot.

From: Cooking Light, June 2009

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

back to school resources

hi mamas ~

Here are some resources for back to school. See you September 9th!

kindergarten readiness

how to communicate wit teachers and get involved

Monday, August 30, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Warm Caprese Pasta Salad with Chicken (or without)
Servings = 6
Time = 30 min

1 lb ziti or penne pasta
2 chicken breasts
1 Tbls olive oil
Approx. 30 cherry tomatoes - mixed colors
8 oz fresh Mozzarella
sea salt
cracked black pepper
1-2 Tbls olive oil
1-2 Tbls balsamic vinegar
Handful fresh basil
Shredded Parmesan cheese (for sprinkling)

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting the oil. Meanwhile, use kitchen shears to cut chicken into 1-inch pieces. Place chicken in a skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook, stirring occassionally, until done through - about 8 minutes.

While chicken is cooking, slice each cherry tomato in half. Cut Mozzarella into small, bite-sized pieces. In a large bowl, combine chicken, tomatoes and Mozzarella. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar - mix.

Drain pasta and add to bowl with tomatoes. Snip basil into 1/4-inch pieces and mix into the pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Notes - Make sure to wait until the very end to snip the basil because it starts to darken immediately. Adjust the amount of olive oil and balsamic vinegar for your tastes; I like it lite on both. Try different kinds of salt for a slightly different flavor and color.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back to School Lunches

Hi City Mamas!

The kids are starting back to school in just a few days and we moms get to start packing lunches again. My daughter's typical sack lunch consists of vanilla yogurt, apple slices, granola bar and juice. I know it's not very exciting - which is why I'm looking for more ideas. Please add your child's favorite lunch as a comment to this post. Prize for the most creative that is still quick and easy to make and your kid actually likes -- 1 dozen homemade muffins, you choose zucchini, apple, strawberry or banana.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

September meeting: Back to School

CityMamas –
We are looking forward to our annual “Back to School” September meeting scheduled for:

Thursday September 9th, noon to 1:30
Blazed Alder Room 
Portland Building, 3rd Floor

This year, we’re happy to host two panelists from Portland Public Schools that will be focusing on the “home to school” connection, particularly for early year students, pre-K to second grade.  All are welcome! 

We’re also looking for someone with experience (either current or former) as a PTA member or on the School Site Council.  Let me know as soon as possible if that description fits you (or someone you know) that would be willing to join the panel for our meeting.  We would love to have that perspective at the table!

Our preliminary questions to the panel include:
  1. What are best ways to be engaged with my child’s school, especially as a working parent?  Are there differences that you find in level of engagement between working and non-working parent(s)?
  2. What are good ways to communicate to teachers? Other parents? Before/after school care? My child about school?
  3. How can I help my child deal with the stress of getting in and out the door and other routines for school to make them more positive?
  4. How can I help my child with the transition from daycare or from one school to another?
  5. How can I foster a learning environment at home that supports the environment at school?

Please send me any other questions you’d like for the panel to discuss.  Of course, there will be room for more discussion at the meeting, but we’d like to get a list of questions to the panelists next week so that they have some time to gather their thoughts. 

Thanks in advance!  Hope you are all enjoying your summer.  See you at the meeting!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Beef Kabobs
Servings = 4
Time = 30 min

1 c uncooked white rice
1/2 c hoisin sauce
3 T water
2 T olive oil
1 T soy sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 T red pepper flakes (optional)
3 c large fresh broccoli florets
2 medium yellow summer squash, cut into 3/4 inch thick rounds
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 lb beef tenderloin, cut into 1 inch cubes

Cook rice according to directions. Keep warm

In a small bowl, combine hoisin sauce, water, oil, soy sauce and pepper flakes. Thread broccoli, squash, red bell pepper and beef, alternating, onto four metal (or soaked wooden) skewers. Brush each with glaze. Grill over medium heat for 6-7 min on each side or until meat reaches desired doneness. Add more glaze when you flip the kabob. Serve with rice.

Notes - You could also use mushrooms, zucchini, green/yellow bell peppers - anything that holds up well to grilling.

From - summer grilling

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Tuna Salad
Servings = 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side
Time = 20 min

6 oz uncooked rotini pasta
1/2 lb fresh green beans, snipped
2 cans tuna in water, drained
1/4 c mayo
1 t mustard
sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper
1 large head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 jar roasted red bell peppers, sliced thin
1 bunch fresh chives, snipped
2 T olive oil
2 T dry sherry (or balsamic vinegar)
Parmesan cheese, grated

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting the oil. At the same time, steam the green beans until just fork tender. Rinse pasta and green beans in cold water until room temperature.

In a small bowl, mix tuna, mayo, mustard, salt and pepper until well blended. In a large bowl mix tuna with pasta and green beans (see notes). Add lettuce, red bell peppers, chives, olive oil and dry sherry. Mix thoroughly. Top with Parmesan and sprinkle with additional sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.

Note - My daughter is not a big fan of the lettuce part, so I reserve a little of the pasta, tuna and green beans on the side for her to eat separately. You could substitute halved cherry tomatoes for the bell peppers. You could also substitute white beans for the tuna - omit mayo and mustard; add 1 more T each olive oil and dry sherry.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Pasta Primavera
Servings = 6
Time = 30 min

1 lb rotini pasta
1/2 onion, diced
2 T olive oil
2 heaping T flour
1 c chicken or vegetable broth
2 c milk
1/2 t dried basil
2 T olive oil
2 carrots, sliced
1 small head of broccoli, cut
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 small yellow squash, sliced
8 button mushrooms, halved
Parmesan cheese, shredded

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting the oil. In a small sauce pan, saute the onions in olive oil until opaque. Stir in flour until it is moist. Slowly add the chicken broth while stirring until the flour is thoroughly mixed in. Add the milk. Add salt, pepper and basil. Slowly bring to simmer, stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat to allow further thickening.

Meanwhile in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add carrots and saute to just tender. Add broccoli and saute until just tender. Add zucchini, yellow squash and mushrooms. Continue sauteing to desired consistency. Pour sauce over veggies.

In a large bowl, mix pasta and veggies in sauce. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve with additional cheese.

Notes - You can use any summer veggies and herbs (fresh or dried) in this dish. Or you could add chicken.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Moroccan Lamb Patties
Servings = 4
Time = 20 min

1/2 teaspoon salt
1½ cups couscous
Freshly ground pepper
1 pound lean ground lamb (or beef)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground allspice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Roma tomato, diced
Tzatziki (0r plain yogurt)
4 pitas

1. In a small saucepan, bring 1½ cups water and salt to a boil. Stir in the couscous, cover and remove from the heat. After 5 minutes, fluff the couscous with a fork; season with pepper. Cover to keep warm.
2. In a bowl, combine the beef, garlic, onion, paprika, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons parsley and 1 teaspoon salt. Form into 8 patties.
3. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef patties and cook for about 3 minutes on each side for medium-rare or until done.
4. Fluff the couscous again with a fork and add remaining parsley and tomatoes.
5. Serve two patties with couscous and tzatziki in a pita.

Humus, olives and cucumber are good additions to this meal. My daughter doesn't like the couscous with parsley and tomato, so I reserve a little plain couscous for her.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Work Mom's Recipe of the Week

Huge Cookie with Fruit
Servings = 10
Time = 1 hr

2 sticks butter, room temp
1 c shortening, room temp
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla or almond extract
5 c all purpose flour
1/2 t salt
1 t baking powder
1 pint strawberries
1/2 pint blue berries
1/2 pint raspberries
1 package cream cheese
1/4 c confectioners sugar

Preheat overn to 400 F. In a large bowl, beat butter, shortening and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. In another bowl, mix flour, salt and baking powder. Add flour mix to butter mix; combine with fingers until it forms dough. On a large round stone, press the dough into a 1/4 inch thick round cookie (should be 12 inches in diameter - if you have too much dough, make a couple small cookies to eat). Bake for 15-20 minutes or until just golden on edges. Remove and cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, wash the berries. Trim the strawberries and halve. In a small bowl, combine cream cheese with sugar - first with a spoon, then with the electric mixer - until smooth. When the cookie is cool, spread the cream cheese over and decorate with the berries. Cut like a pie to serve.

Notes - The finished product is lovely and great for BBQs. It's a perfect desert to make with kids. They can measure and mix the ingredients and decorate with fruit. You can add a drop of food coloring to the cream cheese to make it light yellow or pink. You can substitute any fresh fruit for the topping - blackberries, sliced plums, kiwi are good options.

By: Mindy Brooks

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

cityMama Weekend Meet Up

Meet up with other cityMamas, their families and friends. Saturday, June 17 @ 10:00 @ Jamison Square in the Pearl. Hope to see some mamas and kids.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Quesadillas with Rice
Servings = 4
Time = 30 min

1 1/2 c water
1 c white rice
1 T taco seasoning
1 T butter
4 large flour tortillas
2 c Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
1 c cheddar cheese, shredded
1 c pre-cooked chicken, chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 c cilantro
olive oil
sour cream

Bring water to boil. Add rice, taco seasoning and butter. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until all water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and keep covered.

Meanwhile, spread 1 cup Monterrey jack and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese evenly on one tortilla. Spread 1/2 c chopped chicken, half the tomatoes, half the green onions and half the cilantro over the cheese. Place a second tortilla on top. Repeat with the other tortilla. Heat a large skillet over medium heat; add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Carefully lift one quesadilla into the pan. Cook 2 minutes. Carefully flip and cook the other side for 2 minutes. Remove to a plate and cover to keep warm. Add more oil to the pan if necessary. Cook the second quesodilla on both sides. After the quesadillas have cooled slightly, cut each into fourths. Serve 2 triangles, with a dollop of sour cream and a large scoop of rice.

Notes: My daughter doesn't like cilantro or tomatoes (yet) so on her half I only put cheese, chicken and green onions. Other yummy additions to the quesadillas are corn and/or black beans. If you're vegetarian, omit the chicken. Finally, I posted a recipe for homemade taco seasoning that works great in this recipe. You can add more or less of the seasoning depending on how spicy you like your rice.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

BBQ Sauce

½ cup molasses
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. lime juice
¼ cup orange juice
2 Tbsp. honey
1 t liquid smoke
1 t Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. lightly packed brown sugar
1 t ground ginger
1/2 c thinly sliced green onions
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Use right away or store in a bottle in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Notes: I have been trying to develop a homemade BBQ sauce that fits my tastes - tangy and sweet. After many tried and tossed recipes, I finally came up with the perfect combination. This is great on chicken and pork. If you like a bit of kick in your BBQ sauce add some red pepper flakes.

Healthy Eatting

Here is a great list of ways to help your child become a healthy eater. My favorite tip: They won't eat the way you want all the time. Have an occasional treat, and allow your child to experiment with all foods. Most important of all, don't take the pleasure out of food. Create healthy eating memories, and at the same time, don't surrender or become a short-order cook. If they don't eat what you've offered for one meal, hunger will eventually kick in.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Food Preservation presentation

Hi cityMamas,

In case you missed the June mtg, here is the presentation:

I made my first-ever batch of strawberry-rhubarb jam this past weekend and hope my garden starts growing soon for a fall harvest...

Happy Jamming!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Moo Shu Pork
Serves 4
Time = 40 min

1 c white rice
3 T hoisin sauce, plus more for dipping
3 T rice vinegar
2 T pineapple juice
2 cloves garlic, diced
salt and pepper
1 3/4 lb pork tenderloin, cut in thin strips
2 T olive oil
8 oz shitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1 14-bag coleslaw mix
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

In a large bowl, whisk hoisin sauce, vinegar, juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Add pork and marinate for 10 minutes. Prepare rice according to directions and keep warm.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in skillet over high heat. Add pork (reserve marinade) and stir-fry until browned. Transfer to a plate. Add 1/4 c water to the skillet to deglaze; pour over pork with the remaining marinade. Add remaining oil to skillet. Add mushrooms and stir-fry until lightly golden. Add coleslaw and cook until wilted. Add pork and scallions; heat through. Season with salt. Serve over rice.

Adapted from Food Network Magazine

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Events

Sunday, June 27 – North Sunday Parkways. (
Family friendly meet up at Arbor Lodge Park as part of the North Sunday Parkways. Meet @ 10:00 at the Circus Cascadia (near the tennis courts).

Monday, July 12 – Lunch at the Pioneer Square Farmers Market. (
Meet at the Umbrella Man @ 12:00 to have lunch and check out the new market.
No meeting July 8

Saturday, July 17 - Playdate at Jamison Square. ( 10:00 am – 12:00; Meet on the grass near the hot dog stand.
No meeting July 8

Saturday, August 28 - Playdate at Jamison Square.
10:00 – 12:00. 10:00 am – 12:00; Meet on the grass near the hot dog stand.
No meeting August 12

Hope to see you at an event soon.

Courtney, Darcy, and Lora

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Mother PAC

Some urbanMama friends have started a PAC. Check her email and invite out.

Introducing The Mother PAC
Just this Spring I co-created an Oregon Political Action Committee (yes, a PAC) with 9 other Oregon mothers with one goal: to elect legislators in Oregon who will champion the public policies families need. Some examples: paid family leave, affordable child care, excellent public schools, and an environment that isn't toxic for our kids. You know, the basic stuff every family needs to thrive (but doesn't currently have).

Why a PAC? We don't have the votes right now to pass the policies we need. The beauty of a PAC is that we pool our resources to send a message from mothers about mothers. When candidates get money from The Mother PAC, they'll know our vision, and will work to turn it into a reality.

Join me to learn about - and support! - The Mother PAC
I hope you'll join me for a house party in July to raise funds for The Mother PAC's inaugural election cycle. Yes, it's a fundraiser! I am inviting my mama friends whom I think really get these issues (that's you!) to be part of this amazing, mother-driven effort to fight for what we know families need. And you can even use your "free" Oregon political tax credit to break even when you donate (total win-win).***

We'll also.....have fun in the backyard, meet great people, and learn more about The Mother PAC's efforts, our goals, and the candidates we plan to support. Kids, partners and other friends (especially mamas!) are most welcome!

Summer house party details:

WHERE: The home of (PAC co-founder) Tara West @ 6435 E Burnside, on the corner of NE 65th Ave.
WHEN: Thursday, July 29th 5:30 to 7:30 PM
FOOD: Light snacks, drinks and dinner for kids.

RSVP - Email me now or ponder it till I send a real invite in July. I really hope you can make it!
***In Oregon you can get a full tax credit for contributing $50 (individual filer) or $100 (joint filer) to a political campaign or political action committee (PAC). More on that here:

PS - Two recent articles on the issues that provide excellent context:

In Sweden, men can have it all (NY Times)
Why Unpaid Maternity Leave Isn't Enough (Wash Post)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Rosemary Chicken with Beans
Servings = 4
Time = 20 min

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 pound)
1 (14.5-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 (15-ounce) can navy beans, drained
1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Combine rosemary, salt, and pepper; sprinkle over one side of chicken. Place chicken in pan, seasoned side down; cook 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; turn chicken. Add tomatoes and beans; cover and simmer 15 minutes or until chicken is done. Stir in olives.

Submitted by: Naomi ,from Cooking Light magazine

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Broiled Salmon and Tomatoes
Servings = 4
Time = 20 min

4 6-ounce pieces skinless salmon fillet
4 medium tomatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
8 sprigs fresh thyme
4 cloves garlic, sliced

1.Heat broiler. Place the salmon and tomatoes, cut-side up, in a broilerproof roasting pan or on a rimmed baking sheet.
2.Sprinkle the salmon with the paprika. Drizzle the salmon and tomatoes with the oil and season with ¾ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Scatter the thyme and garlic over the top.
3.Broil until the salmon is opaque throughout and the tomatoes are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Submitted by: Naomi Tsurumi, from

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Reminder: CityMamas meeting this Thursday!

June 10 Meeting: Food Preservation 101

Food Preservation 101

June 10 @ 12:00 – 1:30
1900 Bldg., Room 4A  <--------- NOTE LOCATION!

Join cityMamas to learn about freezing, jamming, drying, pickling, smoking and pressure canning. We will highlight equipment, tools, talk generally about steps for each process, and discuss the best foods to use for each technique and where to get them. Recipes and tips to take home.

There will be food! We will bring some samples including pickled cucumbers, pickled green beans, smoked salmon dip and more.

Hope to see you then.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Grill Fishwiches
Servings: 4
Time: 30 min

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
4 tablespoons butter
Boiling water
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon hot sauce (0ptional)
1 cup drained pickled vegetables
1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed olives (optional)
A generous handful of flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Four 6- to 8-ounce fillets grouper, wahoo, mahi-mahi or halibut
2 T melted butter
Old Bay Seasoning
4 kaiser rolls, split
Bibb or butter lettuce leaves

Preheat grill medium-high heat.

In a small bowl, cover the sun-dried tomatoes with boiling water and let stand for 10 minutes. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the garlic; season with the thyme and stir in the hot sauce.

Using a food processor, pulse the sun-dried tomatoes, pickel veggies, olives and parsley into a fine relish. Transfer to a bowl and stir in olive oil.

Brush the fish on both sides with the butter and sprinkle with Old Bay and a little pepper. Place on the grill and cook, basting with more butter, for 3 minutes on each side. Toast the rolls on the grill. Slather the rolls with the relish, a slice of grilled fish and lettuce.

From: Rachael Ray online

Monday, May 31, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Shredded Chicken Sandwich
Servings: 6
Time: 30 min

8 chicken thighs, skins removed
1 T olive oil
1/2 small onion, diced
1/2 c vinegar
1/2 c ketchup
1/3 c packed brown sugar
1 T mustard
6 sandwich buns

Preheat grill to medium-high. Sprinkle chicken with salt and paprika. Place chicken on grill and cook, with lid down, for 18 minutes, turning once (180 F on instant thermometer).

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar and mustard. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove chicken from grill and allow to cool slightly. Remove meat from bone and shred with two forks. Add chicken to sauce and heat through. Divide evenly between the sandwich buns. Serve with coleslaw or salad.

From: Adapted from Family Circle magazine

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mark Your Calendars for some Upcoming Events

Here are some non work/non meeting events coming up this summer and fall.

Volunteering at Sunday Parkways - Sunday, June 27
Lunch at the Farmers Market - Wednesday, July 11
Jamison Square Playdates - July and August, dates TBD
Family Friendly Happy Hour/Dinner - Friday, September 17, location TBD
Global Day of Climate Action event - Sunday, October 10

Hope to see you at one.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

June 10 Meeting: Food Preservation 101

Food Preservation 101

June 10 @ 12:00 – 1:30
1900 Bldg., Room 4A

Join cityMamas to learn about freezing, jamming, drying, pickling, smoking and pressure canning. We will highlight equipment, tools, talk generally about steps for each process, and discuss the best foods to use for each technique and where to get them. Recipes and tips to take home.

There will be food! We will bring some samples including plum jam, pickled green beans, smoked salmon dip and more.

Hope to see you then.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Blog Contest!!!

Calling all cityMamas!!!

We're hosting a friendly blog contest to get more Mamas checking the group's blog and Facebook page. We've got several terrific prizes:
So here's the skinny on how to win:

Sign up to follow the blog: easy peasy, ideally with a smiley mug shot!
OR if you've already signed up, you need to comment on a blog this week!
Double your chances of winning and "Like" us on FB and post a pic of you and/or your kid(dos) to the page!

Do one or all of these easy and fun actions by the end of May, and you'll have a chance at one of the contest prizes!

We hope to connect with you soon!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Mushroom and Sage Risotto
Servings: 4
Prep and cook: 45 min

4 c chicken broth (or veggie broth)
1 ½ c Arborio rice
6 T olive oil, divided
1 lb mushrooms
1 large shallot, sliced
¼ c dry white wine
2 T butter
1 c parmesan cheese
½ lemon – grated peel and juice
½ c fresh sage leaves

In a saucepan, bring broth to boil. Add rice and cook for 10 minutes. Drain rice, reserving the broth– keep warm. In a skillet, heat 2 T olive oil of medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook until browned; transfer to plate.

In the sauce pan, over medium heat, add 1 T olive oil. Add shallots and cook until softened. Add wine and cook until liquid boils off. Add the broth back to the pan along with the rice and cook until rice is tender; about 10 minutes. Add butter and parmesan cheese; stir until melted. Stir in mushrooms, lemon peel and salt to taste. Cover.

In the skillet, over medium heat, add remain 3 T olive oil and 1 T butter. Stir in sage and cook until sage is crisp. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Serve the sage and lemon sauce over the mushroom risotto.

Notes: There are a lot of steps in this recipe, but it's is reall good comfort food.
From: Rachael Ray magazine

April 8th Mtg - Leave policy

Introductions and brief sharing (weaning, biting, cocoon sleep, tantrums, t-ball...)

Judy Bishop, the City's HR specialist for parental leave will be a guest presenter. She shared info about leave policy (not all geared to pregnant moms, but also to "sick child" policy)

Here is the handout on how to keep your time during FMLA/OFLA Leave

  • FMLA was passed in 1993 by Clinton to guarantee job and benefits during maternity leave, also includes rights for taking care of sick family members or yourself.
  • Allows 480 hours, total of 12 weeks full time per calendar year. In general, it is 12 workweeks based on the employee’s workweek (full-time, 40 hours per week employee entitled to 40x12=480).
  • Intermittent or reduced scheduled leave is possible with your manager's approval
  • If you decide to work a reduced schedule when you return, using any remaining leave helps you keep full-time status (which matters for raises and retirement.)
  • Everything needs to be approved ahead of time, so it's best to request the full allowance even if you are planning on a shorter leave, just in case
  • You can reserve or bank up to 40 hours of vacation/comp time. Non-reps and most labor contracts allow employees to reserved up to 80 hours of vacation and comp time combined.
  • OFLA allows for another 12 weeks, but you are not allowed benefits - one mom couldn't take the leave because her husband is a student and the family needs their benefit, another paid for the coverage through COBRA.
  • It’s important to clarify that the additional 12 weeks of OFLA is available to a woman when she takes leave related to pregnancy. If her leave is covered under OFLA only, and is not in paid status for enough hours to be benefits eligible, she will receive notice of to continue coverage under COBRA.
  • OFLA and FMLA cover pregnancy disability for absences related to pregnancy, including routine prenatal appointments, severe morning sickness, pregnancy complications and after child birth - complications or illness are not required to be approved for the disability, a perfectly healthy pregnancy is covered.
  • Postpartum depression is also covered, even if it occurs some time after you've returned to work.
  • We talked a bit about how more fathers are using paternity leave and how that can also be used intermittently to have a reduced schedule for the first several months. It can also be used after the Mama returns to work to help lighten the parenting load. Eligible Moms or Dads are entitled to 12 workweeks of continuous parental leave (bonding time). They would have to get pre-approval from their manager/bureau to take parental leave intermittently or as a reduced schedule. They would need to submit the request, including the proposed schedule prior to the start of the leave.
  • We also had a discussion about sick-child leave. Every parent is allowed 40 hours per year for basic kid illnesses (flu, chicken pox). It's really important to use this first, as it can't be counted against you the same way that prolonged personal sick leave may. Employees may use accrued sick leave (up to 40 hours per calendar year from their sick leave bank) to caring for an ill or injured family member, specifically their spouse, domestic partner, parent, child or other person for whom the employee is legal guardian. Dependent care can also be used to the family member to a routine doctor or dentist appointment. Here’s the confusing part...If a family member has a serious health condition the the dependent care is a protected absence under family medical leave. “Sick child leave”, under OFLA, is different. If a parent has a child under 18, who is sick with a NON-serious illness (such as the flu or chicken pox) they can be off work to provide home care and the absence is covered under OFLA “sick child leave”. The employee would use dependent care leave but it would also be coded as OFLA dependent care leave. If they used up their 40 hours of dependent care they would use their vacation leave but it would be vacation leave coded as OFLA protected as well.
  • FMLA also covers chronic health issues on a intermittent level. One mom realized in the meeting that she could/should have been using this leave for her son's surgeries and monthly check-ups. You would be protected, and allowed up to 25 hours in 180 day period.
  • Courtney point out the obvious "If we all had paid family leave for a year, we wouldn't be having this discussion!"
Thanks Judy for being a warm and knowledgeable resource for working Moms!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May Meeting Notes: Three Pillars of Optimal Health

This month, CityMamas joined the Women's Affinity Group Meeting on May 13th.  Dr. Greg Nigh, a Naturopathic Doctor and Licensed Acupuncturist from Nature Cures Clinic presented three strategies that can dramatically reduce stress and increase your health.  Here are some notes I jotted down from his presentation:

In Naturopathic practice, there are a few basic principles:
  • Find and treat causes of symptoms (not symptoms)
  • Symptoms are the clues and not the problems to cover up.
  • Avoid suppression
  • Bodies are good at being healthy, if we stay out of their way.
He presented 3 pillars of optimal health
1.  Eliminate anything that isn't supposed to be there.
    • allergens, infections, heavy metals (such as mercury or lead), hormonal imbalances, and most importantly, FOOD
    • FOOD is the most important clue that pushes people out of balance
    • Dr. Nigh practices elimination of foods and then reintroduction to determine cause
    • a book on the Nature Cures Clinic website takes you through elimination dieting
    • the brain is made up mostly of oil.  Unhealthy oils = unhealthy brain
    • occasional mild short-term stress is good.  chronic heavy stress is very bad.
2.  Provide whatever isn't there in sufficient amounts.
    • vitamins, minerals, oils, sufficient blood (circulation in general), and other nutrients
    • basic vitamins: B complex (6 & 12), A, C, D, E
    • basic minerals: magnesium, potassium, lithium, boron, zinc.
    • for instance, most people don't get enough magnesium.  When magnesium deficient, blood pressure goes up, hypertension.  Epsom salt bath helps!
    • basic herbs: ginkgo, green tea
    • Labs are essential for understanding the underlying cause of symptoms
3.  Remove stress.
    • Stress isn't a thing; it's a way of thinking or a pattern of thinking about our circumstances
    • Stress management is THOUGHT management
    • Stress is one of the single greatest contributors to poor health.
    • Stress is a choice we make about what will occupy our thoughts in this moment NOW.  
    • Thoughts + physical reaction to thoughts = stress.
    • Time and effort spent in meditation that occurs earlier in the day can carry over in stressful situations that occur later.
Dr. Nigh's take-home exercise (to practice any time, all the time).  He uses a pill-timer that vibrates in his pocket every 20 minutes to remind him to do the following:
  • Stop.  Stop thinking what you're thinking.

  • Notice, categorize, and scan your body.  Notice what you're thinking and categorize it to see if there are patterns, e.g. I'm remembering an argument with my child, I'm feeling right about something that happened today, etc.  He says you will start to notice the same types of thoughts occurring.  It helps to be aware of what is causing you stress.  Scan your body to determine what contracted with that thought, and to relax the muscle that contracted. 

  • What are you doing now?  Start to narrate what you're doing now, e.g. I'm reading this blog.  I'm sitting.  I have my legs crossed.  The longer you can keep up the narration, the more you can manage our stress, because it is challenging to hold "present awareness".  
This whole process takes just a few seconds.  It may help you to stop the stressful thoughts, and to think and live in the present.  It may even stop you from thinking the stressful thoughts before they happen. 

There were about 8 CityMamas in attendance.  

Any thoughts on the presentation?   Has anyone tried the exercise?  Anything to add that I've missed?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Goat Cheese Pasta
Servings = 6
Time = 30 min

1 lb linguine pasta
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 shallot, diced
1 garlic head, diced
2 T olive oil
8 oz Cherve (goat cheese), broken up
1 bunch baby spinach, washed and trimmed
1 small bunch basil, washed and trimmed
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare pasta according to package dirrection, omitting the oil. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 T olive oil over medium-high heat. Between two sheets of heavy plastic pound the chicken to 1/2 inch thick. Cook in skillet until brown on each side and done through. While chicken is cooking, in a sauce pan, heat remaining olive oil over medium heat. Saute shallots and garlic for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add Cherve - stir until cheese is melted and keep warm.

When chicken is done, remove from pan and cut into bite sized pieces. Add spinach to the pan and wilt.

Drain pasta. Mix all ingredients, including basil, salt and pepper, in a larbe bowl.

Notes: To make vegetarian, omit the chicken and add any other veggies (e.g. mushrooms, carrots)

From: Fast and Fresh magazine

Monday, May 10, 2010

May 13th Mtg - Health and Vitality

For our May meeting, we will be joining the Women’s Affinity Group!


Thursday May 13


Portland Bldg. 3rd floor, Fir Creek

WAG is sponsoring a lunch time event for anyone interested in learning some simple ways to improve your health. If you are constantly tired, stressed out or feeling like you are just hanging on this event is for you. Dr. Greg Nigh will present three strategies that can dramatically reduce stress and increase your health. Learn how your lifestyle and daily habits can enhance your vitality and prevent the onset of a wide range of chronic disease. Dr. Nigh is a Naturopathic Physician and Acupuncturist at Nature Cures Clinic in Portland, Oregon.

For more information, contact: Susan Bailey at 503-823-1956 or

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Sausage and Fennel Pasta
Servings: 6
Prep and cook: 45 min

¾ lb pre-cooked sausage links
½ a fennel bulb
1 small onion
2-3 large carrots, peeled
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper
1 lb gemelli pasta
¼ c fresh flat-leaf parsley
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 F. Slice sausage into ½ inch thick pieces. Slice the fennel bulb and the onion into ½ inch thick ribbons. Slice the carrots at an angle. Toss the sausage, fennel, onion and carrots with olive oil, place on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare gemelli pasta according to directions, omitting the oil. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add sausage-veggie mix and parsley – toss to mix. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Notes: I used chicken broth instead of water for cooking the pasta. It was a big hit with both Jordan and Jeremy.

From Rachael Ray magazine

Monday, May 3, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Baked Ziti
Serves 8 to 10

Time - 1 hr 20 minutes (20 min active)

1 pound whole milk cottage cheese or 1 percent cottage cheese (see note)
2 large eggs , lightly beaten
3 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
Table salt
1 pound ziti or other short, tubular pasta
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 5 teaspoons)
1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
Ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream (see note)
8 ounces low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella cheese , cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups) (see note)


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in medium bowl; set aside. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and pasta; cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain pasta and leave in colander (do not wash Dutch oven).

2. Meanwhile, heat oil and garlic in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until garlic is fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in ½ cup basil and sugar, then season with salt and pepper.

3. Stir cornstarch into heavy cream in small bowl; transfer mixture to now-empty Dutch oven set over medium heat. Bring to simmer and cook until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove pot from heat and add cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup tomato sauce, and ¾ cup mozzarella, then stir to combine. Add pasta and stir to coat thoroughly with sauce.

4. Transfer pasta mixture to 13- by 9-inch baking dish and spread remaining tomato sauce evenly over pasta. Sprinkle remaining ¾ cup mozzarella and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan over top. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

5. Remove foil and continue to cook until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Cool for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve.

From America's Test Kitchen

Notes - This is a perfect meal to make on a Sunday and have leftovers on Monday and Tuesday lunch.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Chicken Noodle Salad
Serving = 6
Time = 30 min

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
6 oz soba noodles (buckwheat noodles)
1/4 c rice vinegar
1 T sugar
1 T clam juice
1 c carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 c fresh basil, snipped
4 T hoisin sauce
1 t ground ginger
meat from 1 rotisserie chicken

Steam asparagus until just tender; drain and rinse with cold water. Cook noodles according to package, drain. Mix noodles and asparagus with the next seven ingredients (through fresh basil). Shred chicken meat with two forks and stir in hoisin sauce and ginger. Toss chicken with noodles and veggies.

Notes - I like to make this with pork roast instead of chicken. You can use any color bell peppers or a mix. You can substitute broccoli for the asparagus.

Submitted - Mindy Brooks, adapted from Rachel Ray magazine

Friday, April 16, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Chicken-Bacon-Ranch Mac and Cheese
Number of Servings: 4
Prep to Serve: 20 min

8 oz elbow macaroni, uncooked
1 slice bacon
1 chicken breast, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 T butter
1 T flour
1 ½ c milk
1/3 c cream-of-mushroom soup
¾ c cheese, shredded
½ t onion powder
½ t garlic powder
½ t salt
½ c Colby jack cheese, shredded

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting oil. Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp; remove and let cool, then crumble up. In the pan with bacon grease, add chicken and sauté over medium heat until done. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; sprinkle in flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Combine milk and soup; whisk into butter/flour. Bring to boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat a let stand for 4 minutes. Add ¾ c cheese, onion and garlic powder and salt; stir until cheese melts. Stir in pasta and chicken.

Preheat broiler. Spoon mac-and-cheese into a greased casserole dish. Sprinkle with bacon and Colby-jack cheese. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts.

Notes: To make vegetarian, omit bacon and chicken; add mushrooms.

Submitted: Mindy Brooks, from Cooking Light magazine

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gardening - Seed and Starts Exchange


An inter-agency effort to exchange extra starts and seeds will be taking place on May 20th, 1900 Bldg, 4th flood, 11-1. There was to be a exchange on April 15th as well, but due to the cold weather most of us gardeners don't have starts to share just yet.

Sponsors include BPS, BDS, BES, Water, Fire, & PBOT in partnership with IRCO (Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization). The charitable event will benefit refugees and immigrants in Portland, via IRCO.

Buying produce and eating healthy can be expensive. The goal is to assist immigrants and refugees in getting started with growing some of their own vegetables.

Everyone in the 1900 Bldg. is encouraged to participate, so please spread the word. Infrastructure Bureau managers - please get the word out to your staff in this building. Chris Scarzello will get the word out to BPS.

Here's how it works:
You are encouraged to start extra vegetable plants from seed in the coming weeks. Now is a good time to start them inside.
On the 3rd Thursday in May (May 20th) bring your extra veggie starts to the 4th floor kitchen.
You can take one plant for free for every plant you donate. It's a good way to get a great variety of veggie starts. For example, I am starting a whole bunch of different kinds of heirloom tomatoes from seed, and will want to trade for some spinach starts.
Alternatively, if you aren't swapping plants, then you can buy the veggie starts your colleagues bring in.

Here's how it benefits refugees and immigrants:
If you have questions, please contact Rebecca Esau or Chris Scarzello.
If you would like to volunteer to plant some vegetable seeds for the event, please let me know.
If you want to volunteer to help with either or both of these events, we could use volunteers to help with set up and clean up, delivery of the plants to IRCO, etc.

We hope you'll participate either by planting seeds now and donating the starts, or coming to buy some veggie starts!

Please mark the dates on your calendar --
The extra plants that aren't swapped or sold will be donated to IRCO for them to distribute to those in need so they can grow some of their own vegetables this spring and summer. The money raised will be used to buy trowels, gardening gloves, and other gardening tools, and distributed to those in need by IRCO.

May 20th

If you have questions, let us know. Thanks!
Rebecca Esau (BDS) and Chris Scarzello (BPS)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

swap your stuff

urbanMamas are having a spring clean and Earth Day swap. Saturday, April 24 @ 2:00 - 4:00 @ Milagros. Here is the urbanMamas post with all the details.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Garden Planner

Not sure how much of each veggie to plant give the space of your planters? This website lets you choose the type of garden (kitchen veggies, herbs, etc.) and put in your dimensions. It's a great way to get the most out of your space.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week (Bonus)

Risotto Cakes with Aioli
Number of Servings: 8
Prep to Serve: 30 min

2 T olive oil
2 T mayonnaise
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
½ garlic clove, minced
1 ½ c panko
3 c prepared risotto
24 mozzarella cubes (fresh, water packed)
2 T olive oil

Mix 2 tablespoons olive oil with the mayonnaise, fresh lemon juice and garlic clove in a shallow bowl and put in refrigerator.

Place panko in shallow bowl. Using generous 1 tablespoon cold risotto for each cake, shape 24 risotto balls. Make indentation in each; push in a cube of mozzarella. Reshape balls, enclosing cheese. Dredge balls in panko; press to flatten. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 12 risotto cakes; cover and cook until golden on bottom, 5 minutes. Turn cakes over. Cook uncovered until crisp on bottom, 3 minutes. Set on a plate and keep warm. Repeat with second 12 cakes. To serve, set 3 cakes on each plate and drizzle with aioli.

Notes: Service with side salad.

Jamie Waltz, from Bon Appetite

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Cauliflower Gratin
Number of Servings: 4
Prep to Serve: 1 hr

3 T butter
6 chopped shallots
2 c Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 c heavy cream
¼ c plus 2 T chives
1 t celery salt
¼ t salt
1 head cauliflower, chopped

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook until lightly browned (about 10 minutes). Transfer to a large bowl and mix with cheese, cream, chives and salts. Add cauliflower and gently toss. Arrange in an even layer in a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Bake at 375 F until browned and very little liquid remains, about 40 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 2 T chives and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Submitted: Mindy Brooks, from Rachael Ray Magazine

Monday, April 5, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Taco Seasoning

12 tsp chili powder
10 tsp paprika
9 tsp ground cumin
6 tsp onion powder
5 tsp garlic powder
1 Tblsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Mix all and store in an airtight container. Makes about 1 cup of seasoning. Add about 1 Tblsp to ground beef or chicken for tacos or fajitas. Or use as a rub on ribs.

Notes: The combination is mild for my tastes. If you like spicy foods, up the cayenne pepper to 1/2 tsp or even 1 tsp

March Notes - Toxic Free Family

Thanks to our two guest speakers, Jen Coleman from the Oregon Environmental Counciland Caran Goodall from Metro. They both specialize in helping families reduce their household toxins and find environmentally friendly solutions.

Jen gave an overview of family related toxin's policy and how we can advocate for our children. She gave an update on the recent legislation to ban BPA in baby bottles that failed. She encouraged us all to throw away old bath toys (or any soft toy that smells). Toys made after 2009 should be safe, but the smell test is important.

Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home

Caran shared about healthy alternatives and provide some household cleaning recipes, and a great reference index from one of her favorite books, Easy Green Living.

Easy Green Living: The Ultimate Guide to Simple, Eco-Friendly Choices for You and Your Home

Both presenters got lots of questions from the Mamas who came, so notes are a bit tricky. There were also lots of hand outs. Please email Darcy if you would like copies or have specific info you're looking for.

We also had a fun activity at the end of the meeting, we made a very quick, easy and safe soft scrub.

Basic Soft Scrub Recipe:
1/2 cup baking soda
Enough liquid soap or detergent to make a frosting-like consistency
5 drops antibacterial essential oil such as lavender,tea tree oil, or rosemary (optional)

Pour the baking soda in a bowl; slowly pour in the liquid soap or detergent, stirring all the while, until the consistency reaches that of frosting. Scoop the creamy mixture onto a sponge, wash the surface, and rinse.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Michelle rocks my world!

If you haven't seen this yet, here's a quick article about the White House's new campaign to make workplaces more flexible:

Friday, March 26, 2010

Working Moms Recipe of the Week

Number of Servings: 6
Prep to Serve: 1 hr 15 min (30 minutes active)

2 chicken breast halves
2 T butter
4 c chicken broth
2 c uncooked Arborio rice (short-grain)
½ small onion, diced
1 t salt
1 (8oz) pkg fresh mozzarella, cut into ½-inch cubes
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ c fresh basil, snipped
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place chicken breast in a greased baking dish and bake in oven for 45 minutes or until done through. Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, add butter, chicken broth, rice, onion and salt. Bring to boil; reduce heat to simmer and cook, uncovered, 45 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Cut chicken into bit-sized pieces. Stir chicken, mozzarella and tomatoes into the rice. Stir in basil. Serve with Parmesan cheese for sprinkling on top.

Notes: To make vegetarian, omit chicken and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

Submitted: Mindy Brooks, from Southern Living Magazine

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Working Moms Recipe of the Week - March 19, 2010

Hawaiian Pork Chops
Number of Servings: 4
Prep to Serve: 25 min

4 boneless pork chops (½ inch thick)
1 T plus 2 t lime juice
Cooking spray
4 round slices of pineapple, coarsely chopped
1 small red onion, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

Combine pork with 1 T lime juice and let sit 10 minutes. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat; coat with cooking spray. Add pineapple and onion; cook 4 minutes or until tender. In a bowl, combine pineapple mixture with remaining lime juice – cover to keep warm. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper; place in skillet. Cook pork 5 minutes, flip and cook 5 minutes or until done. Serve pineapple mixture over chops.

Notes: You can also BBQ the pork.

Submitted: Mindy Brooks, from Cooking Light magazine

Monday, March 15, 2010

More Kids Volunteer opportunities

This is a follow-up from a meeting we had a while ago on volunteering with your family.

Hands on Portland now has a new program, thanks to a mom who identified the need for more opportunities for age 4 and up!

They now have a new Volunteering with Kids page and a Teen Volunteers page. There are also lots of Spring Break opportunties.

We are heading to the beach this weekend for SOLV's beach clean-up (yurting with Lora's family). If you want to join us at Nehalem Bay State Park for the day, get in touch.

Happy Volunteering!



We want to combine your love of growing things, spring fever, and your desire to help those in need. Mark you calendars for April 15th and May 20th.

This is an inter-agency effort here in the 1900 Bldg., including BPS, BDS, BES, Water, Fire, & PBOT in partnership with IRCO (Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization). We are planning two charitable events -- vegetable plant swaps and sales. These will benefit refugees and immigrants in Portland, via IRCO. The goal is to assist immigrants and refugees in getting started with growing some of their own vegetables.

Here's how it works:
1. You are encouraged to start extra vegetable plants from seed in the coming weeks. Now is a good time to start them inside.

2. On the 3rd Thursdays in April and May (April 15th and May 20th), bring your extra veggie starts to the 1900 Bldg, 4th floor kitchen.

3. You can take one plant for free for every plant you donate or you can buy the veggie starts your colleagues bring in.

Here's how it benefits refugees and immigrants -- The extra plants that aren't swapped or sold will be donated to IRCO for them to distribute to those in need so they can grow some of their own vegetables this spring and summer. The money raised will be used to buy trowels, gardening gloves, and other gardening tools, and distributed to those in need by IRCO.

If you have questions, please contact Rebecca Esau or Chris Scarzello.

We hope you'll participate either by planting seeds now and donating the starts, or coming to buy some veggie starts!