Soft tacos



I’ve made this soft-taco dinner a couple times and it’s gone over pretty well. It can be adapted depending on your tastes — perfect for a family of four who each have distinct and unyielding preferences. There’s no real recipe to it. Here’s what you need:

  • soft flour tortillas
  • Mexican cheese
  • package of ground turkey + cumin, cayenne, salt & pepper (or half a packet of taco seasoning)
  • a can of refried beans (either black or pinto)
  • a few avocados
  • hot sauce (Yabo’s Tacos sells a Serrano Lime hot sauce at their restaurants, so that’s what we’ve been using lately)
  • chopped cilantro
  • sour cream

I think you know what to do from here, no? Sauté the ground turkey and season it with Mexican spices. Heat the refried beans over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Think about tossing some cheese in with the beans. Chop the avocado into slices (or, if you have limes, mash the avocado with lime juice and coarse salt using the back of a fork for a rustic guacamole). Set everything out on the counter and call your family to the kitchen!

Here’s how we roll:

Magnus: a tortilla with cheese, rolled up and microwaved for 12 seconds. Magnus would probably eat some meat in his if I used ground chuck instead of ground turkey. Maybe I’ll try that next time.

Greta: a microwaved tortilla cut into soft floppy triangles

Barrak: several tacos stuffed with everything and drizzled with the hottest sauce we have, hold the sour cream

Me: one big fattie with everything


Beauty buy of the week


It has magic healing powers on boo-boos so it only makes sense that Neosporin would make a great lip treatment. It looks like a tiny tub of creamy white Crisco, and has similar texture. It doesn’t go on as white and sunblocky as I thought it would, and my lips are baby soft in the morning. I keep it on my nightstand and apply it just before turning out the light. Great stuff – and cheap!


About 6 weeks after Columbus thawed from one of the coldest winters ever, the first of many dozens of tight, plum-sized orbs drooping heavily from my three peony plants bloomed into a fluffy pink flower today. Greta called me at work to tell me.


Range of emotions


Today, I felt:

Happy when I woke up. Barrak brought me coffee with cream and four sugars, like he does every morning, and made me laugh with his running color commentary of the Today show.

Satisfied with myself after braiding Greta’s hair in pigtails for her “field day” at school.

Content as I drove out of my neighborhood, the routine of it: the fat pug lounging in his front yard, the woman with the butch haircut who jogs.

Anxious thinking about whether the kids’ field day at school would get rained out.

Amused attending a town hall at work, thinking I really enjoy our business and the interesting people who run it.

Proud when Magnus’s teacher emailed me marveling about how much progress Magnus has made in half a year of preschool, and to confirm I’m bringing the ice cream for tomorrow’s last-day-of-school party.

Grateful for my own blessings when a colleague told me about the four miscarriages he and his wife have suffered.

Inspired when I attended a retirement party at work – a successful 18-year career and now she’s staying home to spend time with her son, a sophomore in high school.

Moved to tears when that woman’s longtime boss, a much feared man due to his temperament, told her, voice cracking, that he couldn’t have achieved half of all he’d done without her help.

Rising panic when I had to say a few words about what our retiring colleague has meant to me over the years.

Fulfilled when I got out of my car and the driveway was filled with kids not my own, and then Magnus rounded the corner of the house and ran straight into me for a hug.

Annoyed when Greta wouldn’t eat the organic chicken tenders I made for her dinner, because they were different.

Embarrassed when our neighbor came over to get his kid and saw how ripped up our patio furniture cushions are.

Inspired when I read Pete Wells’ latest restaurant review in the New York Times. What a beautiful writer.

Joy when the kids were dancing to Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus, and I was periodically pressing pause so they would ‘freeze.’

A lot better now that I’m on my second glass of wine.

Hopeful that we could get the kids to bed by 9 p.m. so we could watch an Anthony Bourdain or Louie on DVR.

Doubtful that we will get the kids to bed by 9 p.m. since I just looked at the clock and it’s 8:56 p.m.

P.S. Barefoot Contessa’s frozen Sesame Chicken & Noodles are pretty damn good!

Raspberry crumble bars




I made a platter of these raspberry crumble bars for my mom for Mother’s Day. I thought these would go really well with hot tea and the British TV mystery DVD I got her, Midsomer Murders, I think it was called.

I found the recipe in a cookbook on loan from my mom: Foolproof by Barefoot Contessa.

The first layer is a thick, buttery shortbread dough pressed flat into a square baking dish.

The second layer is an entire jar of good raspberry jam, spread to the edges with a rubber spatula.

The third layer is a crumble made with some of the shortbread dough you set aside at the beginning, mixed with a handful of granola sans dried fruit.

You top the whole thing with a handful of sliced almonds and bake for 45 minutes.

My kind of dessert. And my mom’s!

Click here for the recipe, courtesy of Barefoot Contessa.

Chocolate peanut butter globs


I make an oatmeal, chocolate chip, pecan and Craisin cookie that has come to be known as “Greta cookies.” Greta likes to help me make them, and she certainly likes to eat them. Barrak even has his own cookie – a chocolate chip and cinnamon number with a powdered sugar icing. For quite a while, we have been on the hunt for a namesake cookie for Magnus.

These chocolate peanut butter globs are definitely a contender.

First, you gotta love the name: globs. That’s sort of what they look as you plop big spoonfuls of brownie-like batter on a baking sheet: gloopy globs of good melted chocolate, whole pecans and walnuts (don’t you dare chop them!), and peanut butter chips. With hardly any flour, they’re not as cakey as a cookie so they lost Barrak’s vote. They’re more like undercooked brownies or fudge, and rich as all get-out. A glass of milk is a must. These were a bedtime snack Saturday night. Magnus rejoiced in his two globs so thoroughly that he had chocolate up near his ears and his PJ tee had to be changed.

Click here for the recipe, courtesy of Barefoot Contessa.

Happy Mother’s Day


These are two of my favorite pictures of my mom.

I took the one on the left in the summer of 1989, or thereabouts. We had rented a houseboat on Lake Cumberland. It was a fun family vacation, even though we didn’t do much except slide off the twin slides on the back of the boat, and waterski and tube off the back of the speedboat we towed all the way to Kentucky. It rained a few days, and on this morning as you can see out the kitchen window of the boat. Those days, we played a lot of gin rummy. I love this picture because my mom looks so relaxed and happy. Her hair is kind of messy and cute – it’s pretty rare to see her with her hair up in a pony.

I took the one on the right in 1991 or so, as part of a college photography class. The assignment was “a day in the life” so I did a Day in the Life of my Mom. It must have been a Monday because I followed her around the grocery story, and she has done her grocery shopping on Mondays ever since I was in 9th grade. Here, I tried to be artsy by getting behind the cookie & bakery case and shooting her through the glass. She looks so pretty.

Happy Mother’s Day, mom!