Sunday, December 14, 2014



  • 1 double shot of espresso
  • 1-2 ounces of half and half
  • 2-3 ounces of vanilla or whipped cream flavored vodka
  • a drizzle of caramel sauce (optional)

  1. Brew one double shot of espresso.
  2. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  3. Add vodka, half and half, and espresso.
  4. Shake well.
  5. Strain into a martini glass and drizzle caramel sauce on the top for a garnish.

Artichoke Dip


  • 2 cans quartered artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
  • 2 C shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 C mayonnaise
  • 1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 T garlic powder
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Spray a glass baking dish with cooking spray and add mix.
  4. Serve with homemade pita chips or crostini.
TIPS:  You can fine chop the artichokes, but I find a whole quartered artichoke creates the perfect texture. Also, in the rare event you have any left over (I think this happened twice in the ten years I've been making it), you can use the dip as a delicious stuffing for a chicken breast or a pork chop.

Ham and Asparagus Rolls

When I first tried these rolls, I was hesitant not only because of the concept, but the presentation as well. I put my own spin on the recipe, and it has become one of my all time favorites. I love to watch people pause when they see the rolls and then their eyes light up as they take their first bite! Experiment and see: its a riot.

  • 1/2 bar of softened Neufchatel or Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 C mayonnaise
  • 1 T horseradish (do not confuse with horseradish sauce)
  • 10 asparagus spears steamed and shocked (exactly 4 minutes in a double boiler, immediately placed in ice water.  Be sure to find the "snapping point" by bending the asparagus with your pointer fingers and thumbs.  It will snap at the spot where the woody part ends and the edible part begins)
  • 10 slices of medium sliced deli ham (Virginia Baked Ham is perfect for this)
  1. In a small bowl, combine Neufchatel cheese,mayonnaise, and horseradish.
  2. Spread a thin layer of the horseradish sauce in the center of one piece of ham.
  3. Top with 2-3 asparagus spears, salt and pepper and roll.
  4. Serve atop a bed of field greens for presentation.

TIP: you can adjust the 'heat' on this dish by adding to or subtracting from the horseradish. After many attempts, I found 1 T is the perfect amount, lending to the mild side of a medium heat index.

"Mrs. Cook At Home Dad's" Award Winning Chili


  • 2 1/3 lb ground beef (85/15 for best results as it stays moist)
  • 6-8 whole garlic cloves
  • 3-4 T olive oil
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 1 12 oz bottle of dark beer or stout
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 3 T fresh cilantro, fine chopped
  • 1 T brown sugar I would have increased the brown sugar by 1 t 
  • 1 T cumin I would have increased the cumin by 1 t 
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1 t onion powder
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 t red pepper flake
  • 1 t salt (or to taste)
  • 1 t black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 package maple bacon (frozen for easier cutting, then chopped into thin strips vertically) I would have used regular bacon instead
  • 1/2 C hot sauce
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes and juice
  • 1 10 oz can tomato/chili
  • 3 T ketchup I would have used tomato paste instead 
  1. In a large sauce pan, brown garlic cloves in olive oil over a medium high heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
  2. Add a pinch of red pepper flake and remove garlic once it is a solid golden brown.
  3. Liberally salt and pepper ground beef and add to pan.
  4. Using tongs or a rubber spatula, separate meat to create small pieces whilst browning.
  5. Fine chop browned garlic and return to pan.
  6. Add tomatoes, chili/tomatoes, and beer. 
  7. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low.
  8. Add remaining ingredients (except the onions and canola oil) and stir well to combine.
  9. Cover.
  10. Add canola oil to a medium saute pan over medium high heat.  Add onions to caramelize, stirring occasionally for about 8-10 minutes. (Note: do not add any salt, as this will cause the onions to sweat and steam instead of bringing out the natural sugars to properly caramelize)
  11. Add onions to chili and transfer the entire mix to a crock pot set to high.
  12. Cook on high for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.
  13. Set to low for an additional hour. 
  14. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese and chives, scallions, and/or cilantro to garnish.
My wife was allowed to have help in developing her flavor profile, but I could not taste or touch the chili itself.  It was truly off the hook as written!  Job well done, Mrs. CAHD xoxo!!! 

Buffalo Egg Rolls



  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 3/4 C wing sauce
  • 1 skinless boneless chicken breast, shredded (or roasted and cubed)
  • 1 t celery flake
  • 1 pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 pinch of red pepper flake
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 block of softened Neufchatel or Cream cheese
  • 1 package of wonton wraps (found in the produce section of any grocery store)
  • 1 whisked egg white
  1. In a medium skillet, melt butter and add hot sauce.
  2. Add shredded chicken breast, celery flake, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and red pepper flake.
  3. Simmer on low for 10 minutes until slightly reduced.
  4. Combine with Cream cheese.
  5. Place wonton wrap diagonally on your work surface.
  6. Add 1-2 T of chicken to center, allowing excess sauce to drain off.
  7. Brush egg whites along the surface and fold like an envelope.
  8. Fill a small sauce pan just under 1/2 way with canola oil.
  9. Heat over medium high heat until the oil reaches 375 degrees.
  10. Carefully add the egg rolls and cook 1-2 at a time (adding more will decrease the oil temperature and prevent the proper crisping). 
  11. Cook until the egg rolls turn a golden brown (about 4-5 minutes)
  12. Remove and drain on a paper towel or coffee filter
Click Vlog for tip:


  • 1/2 C sour cream
  • 1/2 C mayonnaise
  • 3/4 C bleu cheese crumbles
  • 3 T half and half
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1 t onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl
  2. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.
  3. Mix well before serving.
TIP: You can also add actual diced celery and/or julienned carrots to the mix to give the full- on "buffalo wing" experience.  For a great presentation, serve the dressing in a martini glass, fan the eggrolls around it on a bed of greens.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Why it is not 'shittacular' to be a Stay At Home Parent--A Post-Thanksgiving Toast

I have to be candid about something that may paint me in not the best light with my fellow parent-bloggers.  I was reading a blog post last week, and thought to myself: “this comes across as kind of whiny- (pardon my language) ‘shit.’”  When I thought about it, a lot of the parent blogs I read also discuss the different levels and examples of shit that we, as parents, must tolerate, and can sometimes lean whiny. As a stay at home dad, it is more about the shit we put up with when people learn what we do.  Yes, that gives me the right to complain about shit. But to reach whiny?  Hmmm...

I closed the page I was on at the time, and, yes, it was actually my own blog, and thought to myself:  “why would I still be a stay-at-home dad a decade plus later if all I focus on is the shit-end of the stick parents (especially stay-at-home parents) endure?” 

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I spent the holiday pondering all I have to be thankful for this year.  My family and I faced a great obstacle (my wife--the sole provisioner as of late, lost her job and we had to determine what was the best move for our family), and we ended up leaving behind everything we knew and all of our friends and family and relocated to Jacksonville, Florida from just outside of Hartford, CT.  My mother, who had been living in our in-law apartment in CT and who had become an incredibly important resource and fixture for our family, moved with us, to her own apartment about ten minutes away.  There was some resentment for mom making this move from both  my brother and sister in law who have no kids, and my sister and brother in law who have children who are adults/near adulthood.  It was a very difficult decision on her part (that almost did not happen), but she is here, and my siblings understand.  Mom has to be where the "babies are," and my family accepts it.  

I realized that I also have  a lot to be grateful for because I have the greatest job in the world.  I thought about my brief stint in the corporate world, and of my wife and my friends whose successes and stories “out there” in the world I often glance at longingly, from outside the “in.”  Every single person I know complains about shit they put up with at work.  I have seen friends who have lost their careers as they approached 40, simply because the system is shitty and that is what it does to some people.  I have watched others grow to great heights, but who discuss the day-to-day shit on how shitastic their jobs can be, how shitty dealing with co workers can be, and what shitastic people their bosses are.  It made me realize…My job is better than theirs…and I realized I MUST do a blogpost about why it is not shitacular to be a Stay At Home Dad!

  1. My boss is cuter than yours, and I’ll bet one million dollars on that fact, right here—right now.    I like to believe that I am my own boss, and determine the overall way the household and the day-to-day activities are run.  I realize I would be lying if I said I was 'the boss'.  I am not and I know it.  My three young children rule the roost here, and that is OK.  Three little spirits are at the center of our family's structure and that does make them 'the boss', even though my wife and I are "in charge." The best thing about my "boss" is that when they get really demanding on a specific project, it takes little more than logical discussion (or maybe a time out) for them to see my point and the correct perspective on things.  Can the same be said for Mr. or Mrs.“Where is the QED report?”  Here, I will grant that when actual shit lands on your hands, in your mouth, on your eye, on the floor, behind the changing table, it is shittastic!  
  2. I set my own hours.   Now, every mom and dad blogger out there is going to call bullshit on this one, and say we are all “slaves” to when our dear children need us.  Yes, that fact is true.  But when there is not that immediate need, I am in control of what I do with my time.  If something becomes especially daunting or overwhelming, I can find time to prioritize what needs to get done--whether it be to throw a hot towel over my eyes, or down a bloody Mary if I must, I can  (kidding, but you get my drift).  I hear horror stories about my peers dealing with a boss who slams employees for not being productive enough and making them go through 15 different files to get to the email that shows the boss, in fact,  dropped the ball.  Can you then say:  “I am taking a time out…go paint rainbows with your sisters, and we’ll reconvene shortly?” #winning
  3. I am paid significantly more than anyone I ever met, including some pop artists.   I have actually met and hung out with a pop artist, or two, and they are paid stupidly well.  I have enjoyed rides in cars that I can’t pronounce, eaten foods I don’t even know what to make of, and seen endless wads of cash flow freely.  It was fun.  I have also seen the flip side to their personal lives and experienced a “loneliness” that was markedly educational. You may call it “shit.”  I do, and it is food for thought.   I have seen markets crash, investments fail, and empires fall.  In my world, I am paid in hugs, “daddy I love you” pictures, and with the accomplishments these amazing human beings my children are becoming…each their own universe with endless possibilities and wealth opportunities in their own right. It is I WHO AM overseeing their upbringing, predominantly, on a day to day basis as they venture towards their tomorrows.  I even get bonuses that are priceless: found on my computer screen written by one of my six year old daughters:  I love you so much more then the sky you are the best daddy in the world you tAKE CARE OF ME AND DADDY i LOVE YOU AND NEVER LEAV ANY WERE WITH OUT ME COME EVERY WARE WITH ME PLEASE AND REMEMBER i LOVE SO MUCH
  4. My “water cooler” talk is more meaningful than yours.  Granted, those I’m with all day will not catch me up on “How To Get Away With Murder,” or the latest episode of “Once Upon A Time;” however, they will talk about ‘once upon a time’ and ask me if dinosaurs had feelings.  And we will spend a chunk of our afternoon not only drawing dinosaurs, sculpting them with clay, and googling everything we can on them, but exploring the concept: "do objects feel?”  I will be a better man at the end of the day because I gave thought to something I probably had not in 30 or so years, and it makes me remember that way of thinking so I can apply it my 40 year old life.
  5. When I “retire,” I will look back on what I created, nurtured, and guided.  I truly believe I will not look back with regret for what I did not do, but for what I experienced at the soul level, and for the seeds planted for the tomorrows that will come after me.   I do not think people look back and wish they did more “at work,” as I have seen plastered all over facebook recently.  I do wish I did more, at my work, in the "hazy years" with newborn twins and a four year old,  and had understood how incredibly lucky not only I AM, but that my children are, that we have this time together.  I would never criticize a working parent for choosing the path to put their babies in daycare and to be raised by others, but for my Self and for my family, I am asserting:  “I put my children first and foremost in my definition of ‘wealth,’ and in my life.  I will be damned before I would miss a single moment of this short snapshot that is their childhood for simple things, or easier financial paths, or any type of career down the road.  I know the way the world works, and understand what my career choices are when my children are grown…and with everything I get in return, I would do it again one thousand fold.  Life is not a dress rehearsal, and I am glad I chose the right path for me. So, yes, I will return to shit that leans whiny in my work, I'm sure.  I just needed to acknowledge that greater than that shit is a wealth and a brilliance I never dreamed I would acquire.      

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Green Bean Casserole "Revisited": Why I'll Never Buy Canned Fried Onions Ever Again


  • 1 1/2 lb haricot vert (fancy long, thin green beans, found in the produce section, usually shrink wrapped on a foam tray---all I could find was long "snipped" grean beans)
  • 3/4 lb bacon (YES BACON!!!)  (I freeze this for a bit to make it easier to cut it into thin strips) save the bacon fat!!! 
  • 1 8 oz package sliced white mushrooms 
  • 3 T flour
  • 1 C chicken stock
  • 1 C heavy cream (it is is a holiday) 
  • the juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 medium vidalia onions, cut into small rings
  • 4 eggs, whisked together with 1 T heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 Cups flour well combined with 1 T each of onion powder, garlic powder, and chili powder
  • Oil for frying the onions (canola is best) (2-3 C)

  1. Steam the haricot vert until they develop a rich, dark green color (typically 5-7 minutes, but my daughter was not a fan and so I did an additional 3)
  2. Transfer the cooked beans into an ice bath immediately to shock them and stop cooking.
  3. Line them up on an oven safe platter, and squeeze lemon juice and add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Fry the bacon pieces over medium heat in a frying pan. Remove bacon pieces once they become crisp and allow to drain on a paper towel or coffee filter-lined paper plate. (easy clean up)
  5. Carefully drain out all but 2-3 T of the bacon fat.
  6. Saute mushrooms in the bacon fat and add a liberal amount of salt and pepper.  
  7. Remove mushrooms from the pan once they are softened.
  8. Return pan to the stovetop and add another 3T of bacon fat, along with 3T flour and whisk until well combined. 
  9. Slowly add in the chicken stock, whisking continuously. 
  10. Reduce heat and slowly add cream while continuing to whisk. 
  11. Allow sauce to reduce until it is a thick consistency (much like cream of mushroom soup).
  12. Add back the mushrooms, and add salt and pepper as needed.
  13. Heat canola oil in a small, deep pan over medium high heat.
  14. Dip raw onions in egg mixture and then in flour mixture, and make sure to shake off excess flour.
  15. Fry onions until they are golden brown and drain on a paper towel or coffee filter-lined paper plate.
  16. Spoon mushroom sauce over the haricot vert and top with bacon.  Sprinkle the onions around the plate as a garnish.  Place in the oven on "warm" until ready to serve.  Enjoy! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Dodging The Crimson Bullet: How A 'False Alarm' Helped Me Realize I Am (Mostly) Ready For My Little Girl To Start Growing Up

I dodged a bit of a bullet today. 

I have been a stay at home dad for over 10 years, and somehow managed to miss every single milestone for all three of my children. I have always been more of a night person, and my three girls seem to be following suit.  When I was off working my part-time evening job, they would each experience their "firsts": first laugh, first step, first word, and so on. I always thought it was poetic justice that my wife got to experience all of those things first even though I was with the girls full time and she was not.

Cut to this afternoon when I was cleaning the girls' bathroom. I opened the toilet to flush that inevitable flush that my fourth, invisible child, "Notme" always fails to take care of (doing so with perpetual hope that I'll find a clean bowl). There in the toilet was a bloody wad of toilet paper and un-flushed urine. My heart began to pound and I called all three girls in to ask who was the last to use the toilet. True to form, they each swore that "Notme" did it again. I explained to them the seriousness of the situation and about how important it was that I know who was the last one in there. I promised no one would get in any trouble, but still, they insisted:  "Notme" did it again.

I began panicking, as my girls are currently on antibiotics to finally get rid of the strep throat they've been passing back and forth for a month (we finally found a doctor who agreed to treat all three who each presented with symptoms, even though they didn't all test positive). One of my 6 year-old twins had been complaining of back pain a few days ago, and all I kept thinking was:  "OMG What if this is her kidneys?"  Or, "Did I miss something in the Halloween candy and they are poisoned?" My eyes darted from kid to kid trying to remain calm, when I made eye contact with my ten year old.


My panic level was off the charts on the inside, but I did my best to hide it with my outward actions and tone. I calmly said: "I need you to go in the master bathroom and take a flushable wipe to see if it is you who is bleeding." 

Her eyes popped out of her head, realizing what I was talking about. I hugged her and told her how exciting this was, and that she would be OK. And then I kept saying to myself: "It is going to be OK, it is going to be OK!!" I was dying on the could my little 10 year old little having her first period when my wife is not home???

I sent her in our bathroom, as I knew that we had a new supply of pads, tampons, pantie liners-- the works.

 I started to well up with tears at the thought of what this meant. My little girl is not a little girl anymore! What if she has questions I don't have answers for? What if she forgets what my wife taught her about using a pad? What if she comes out of the bathroom and doesn't look like "my little girl" anymore? Wait--I miss the first laugh and the first step, and I get THIS milestone???

She advised me that she was not bleeding, but thought she saw some blood on her underwear. I swapped a clean pair of underwear via stretched arm through the door and advised her to use a pad as her mom had taught her. With all the confidence I could muster, I asked her if she was feeling all right and if she had any questions. Thankfully, she said: "no, daddy, I am fine and I know what to do."

I looked at the underwear and there was no stain anywhere to be found. I went back to the girls' bathroom and further looked at the bloody mess in the bowl. I flushed it, and let out a deep sigh. My daughter came out of the master bath, and did not look different to me, as I had feared in my panicked mode. I gave her a big hug and told her I was proud of her and the young lady she was becoming.

My daughter went back to the book she was reading, and I returned to my cleaning. As I emptied the bathroom trash, I found a red ice pop wrapper stuffed in the bathroom garbage can!! I called all three of "Notme's"
 sisters in, one more time. I asked them to stick out their tongues. I directed them to look in the mirror and for the one with the "red tongue" to prepare an apology for once again blaming "Notme," and for putting me in a bit of a panic.  True to form, the responsible child of mine for this current mishap was the only one to look away from the mirror rather than fess up.  #notmediditeverytime!!!

My wife came home and I opened myself a cold, dark beer and stepped outside.

"Did you have a rough day?" she asked, as the screen door was slowly closing.

"Depends!" I quipped, as the door slammed shut.


Milestones are an amazing part of parenthood. I am realizing as the kids grow older, the bigger these milestones will be-- each now tinged with a bitter reminder that we have to let our babies grow up.

I am grateful that I had this little dress rehearsal for something I am clearly prepared to handle; however, I would have no complaints if when this actually happens, my wife is home at the time. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

$70/Week Challenge - Day Six: Slow Cooker Chicken Burritos/Enchiladas

  • 1 lb skinless boneless chicken breast
  • 2 C chicken broth
  • 1 large can tomato/chili blend (MILD!!!! I tried medium once, and the hour of cooking made it impossibly hot)
  • 1 large can Enchilada sauce
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2.5 C cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 C sour cream
  • 6 Flour Tortillas, large/burrito style
  • 1/2 C salsa
  • 1 T garlic powder
  • 1 T cumin
  • 1 T chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place chicken breasts, chicken broth, garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin in slow cooker, set on 'high.'
  2. Cook for at least four hours, or until chicken become fork tender and easily shreds.
  3. Reduce heat to low and add tomato/chili blend (do not drain) and 1/2 Enchilada sauce.
  4. Cook for an additional hour.
  5. Spray a glass baking dish with cooking spray, and cover bottom with 1/2 of the remaining Enchilada sauce.
  6. Lay each tortilla flat, and add in the middle of the tortilla about 3/4 C chicken filling with a slotted spoon to drain off excess liquid (this is a "sloppy dish," even when well drained).
  7. Carefully fold the tortilla over the chicken mix, and pull filling back to "tighten" the wrap.  
  8. Roll the tortilla until it comes to a uniform cylinder, and then place in glass baking dish.
  9. Repeat for the other five tortillas.
  10. Cover with the remaining Enchilada sauce and 2 C of the cheddar cheese.
  11. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese begins to bubble. 
  12. Serve with black beans, topped with cheddar cheese and salsa garnishes, and top the Enchilada with a dollop of sour cream.  (you can also make these as burritos...follow the same steps, but put the extra sauce and cheese inside and roll by folding the top and bottom, folding and pulling the chicken mix and rolling until it is sealed).  
  13. Enjoy!!  For $9.00 (rounded up) for six servings, you AND your wallet will! :)  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

$70/Week Challenge - Day Five: Potato-Ricotta Gnocchi Bolognese

Please Note:  If you do not have a pasta press, these gnocchi, while light and delicious, are not the prettiest of pastas, thus the EXTREME CLOSE UP! :) 


  • 16 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 C potato flakes (instant potatoes)
  • 3/4 C flour (plus extra to roll)
  • 2/3 C Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 t garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
Bolognese Sauce
  • 6 C Tomato sauce Click here for recipe
  • 1 lb ground beef (I use 80/20 for this recipe, be sure to drain off fat)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 t red pepper flake (or to taste)
  • 2 T canola oil
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

  1. In a large skillet over medium high heat, saute onion in canola oil until golden brown (about 6-7 minutes).  
  2. Add garlic and pepper flake and saute for an additional 2-3 minutes until garlic turns golden brown. 
  3. Add ground beef and break up into small pieces and cook until browned.  Drain off fat and add salt and pepper to taste. 
  4. Add tomato sauce and stir to combine.  Cover and reduce heat to low.
  5. Combine all gnocchi ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix with hands until it forms a sturdy dough.
  6. Divide dough into 6 equal pieces.
  7. Dust a clean, cool surface with flour.
  8. Using clean hands, roll out the 6 pieces to 1" strands.
  9. Cut the strands into 1" cubes.
  10. In a large sauce pot, bring 4 quarts of salted water to a rolling boil over medium high heat. 
  11. Add 1/2 the gnocchi and gently stir.  
  12. When the gnocchi is done, they will float to the top.
  13. Remove with a hand held strainer.  
  14. Add the other 1/2 gnocchi and cook until they float to the top.  
  15. Top with sauce and serve with Parmesan cheese and basil garnish.  
  16. Pairs perfectly with a Lindemann's Bin 57 Shiraz, but that would be outside of budget. :D  This meal cost $9.50 for 6 servings!!   Enjoy! 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

$70/Week Challenge - Day Four: One-Pot-$5-Wednesday-Night-No-Hassle Chicken Fried Rice

It simply does not get easier than this recipe.  This may very well be the recipe I take from this challenge and add to my weekly repertoire.  One pot.  Simple prep. Six servings for under five bucks and  dinner on the table in about 20 minutes???  What more can one ask for through the week?  Did I mention the kids licked their plates?   Enjoy! 

  • 1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1 double box of Rice and Macaroni product (available everywhere, even outside of San Francisco)
  • 2 T butter
  • 3 T canola oil
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 4 C water
  • 1 C Chow Mein Noodles
  • 1 8 oz can of mushroom stems and pieces, low sodium, drained
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Liberally salt and pepper chicken, and evenly coat with garlic powder.
  2. Saute chicken in 2 T canola oil over medium high heat until browned.
  3. Add butter, sesame oil and additional canola oil with rice/macaroni product.
  4. Stir frequently until the macaroni starts to brown.
  5. Following package directions, add flavor packet and four cups of water, along with mushrooms.
  6. Bring to a boil. 
  7. Cover and reduce heat to low. 
  8. Cook for 18 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  9. Add whisked egg and stir.
  10. Re-cover and cook for an additional two minutes.
  11. Form rice mixture in a 1 C measuring cup and top with Chow Mein Noodles.  Serve with a nice salad (a sesame-mandarin orange-ginger dressing pairs perfectly).    
  12. Enjoy! 

Monday, October 6, 2014

$70/Week Challenge - Day Three: Homemade Spinach Ham Pizza

  • 3 C bread flour
  • 1 C  warm water
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 oz package of active dry yeast
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 C tomato sauce click here for recipe
  • 2 C mozzarella cheese
  • 2 T Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/4 C fresh baby spinach
  • 2 slices of Parmesan Pesto Ham, cubed
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, water, olive oil, yeast, sugar and salt.  
  2. Using your very clean hands, stir the ingredients until they form a solid ball (this will take a few minutes, and you will have to scrape down your hands several times).  You can use a dough hook on a food processor, but I don't think it comes out the same.
  3. Place the dough on a clean smooth surface.  Gently kneed the dough for 8-10 minutes making sure to rotate the dough with each punch (the dough should be smooth and shiny, and have elasticity).  
  4. Return the dough to mixing bowl and cover with a warm, damp dish towel.  
  5. Allow the dough to rise for at least 1 hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  7. "Punch" the dough down and remove from bowl.  Kneed the dough for an additional minute, on a well floured surface (also dust your hands with flour as well).  
  8. This is the part, if you are fancy, where you toss and spin the dough.  If you can do this, form it into an 18" circle.  If  you are not fancy (I am not), take a floured rolling pin and roll it to form. 
  9. Top with sauce, spinach, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, and ham pieces. 
  10. Drizzle top with olive oil and sprinkle with dried basil. 
  11. Place on a pizza stone, or pizza pan and bake for 20-25 minutes until crust is brown and cheese is bubbling. 

The Cook At Home Dad's Go-To Tomato Sauce

I don't think I've ever made the same tomato sauce twice...until I came up with this go-to recipe!  I believe in pairing every fresh herb and spice with its dried counterpart to provide a wonderful depth of flavor.  I keep it simple by sticking to tomato basil, and then alter the flavor of the sauce depending on the dish I'm making (if it is a traditional spaghetti and meatballs, I flavor the meatballs with onion and oregano, and  cook it in the slow cooker---the sauce infuses the meatballs which in turn infuse the sauce!  YUM!).  Whether you are looking for a quick-pizza sauce (omit the wine), or a robust all day simmered depth, give this one a whirl!  

  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Head of garlic, peeled
  • 1 C fresh basil leaves
  • 2 T garlic powder
  • 2 T dried basil
  • 1/2 t red pepper flake
  • 2 T capers or green olives (adds a subtle layer of tang to the sauce, without overpowering the flavor)
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes in puree
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 1/4 C red wine (Shiraz works best--only add this if you are planning to simmer this for a long while)
  1. Brown garlic cloves (whole) in olive oil in a large sauce pot over medium high heat, stirring frequently (this will take several minutes, but the flavor of the garlic becomes deep, rich, and sweet in a way it would not if you were to mince or chop it).
  2. Add pepper flakes.  
  3. Carefully add in 2 cans of diced tomatoes and reduce heat to low.
  4. Add capers/olives, red wine, and basil leaves.
  5. Using a mixing wand, carefully blend the sauce until smooth (make sure there are no random whole capers).  If you do not have a mixing wand, you can transfer the sauce in batches into a blender.  Be extremely careful,  as a hot mixture will cause the lid of the blender to blow and splatter if you don't pulse it first
  6. Return heat to medium high and add crushed tomatoes. 
  7. Bring to a boil. 
  8. Reduce heat to low, and gently incorporate tomato paste.
  9. Stir until well combined.
  10. Add remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste. 
  11. Simmer on low for HOURS.  Literally cook the living daylights out of it.  The longer it cooks, the better it tastes! 
  12. Mangia!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

$70/Week Challenge - Day Two: Parmesan Pesto Ham and Roast Beef Gouda Grinder (Sub, Hero, Sandwich)

  • 1/4 lb Parmesan Pesto Ham (check your local deli)
  • 1/4 lb Roast Beef
  • 1/4 lb Gouda Cheese
  • 1 large seeded Italian or French Loaf of Bread
  • 4 T mayonnaise 
  • 1 T horseradish sauce (or to taste--I kept this mild for the kids)
  • 1  roasted red pepper (jarred)
  • 1/2 C mixed field greens
  1. Slice bread lengthwise.
  2. Mix horseradish and mayo and spread mixture on both sides of bread.
  3. Add all ingredients and top with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve with kettle potato chips, pickles, and pepperoncini.
  5. Enjoy! 

Total Cost:  $8.75, 6 servings

Monday, September 22, 2014

$70/Week Challenge - Day One: Mushroom Gouda Salisbury Steaks with "Potatoes Au Gratin" and Sauteed Spinach

Well, $10 for a dinner for five is a much bigger challenge than I anticipated.  I did go over budget, but am way under budget for tomorrow, so I am hoping that I will still keep to $70 for the week.  These "steaks" were a huge hit at my house, but the processed potatoes?  Never again.  I can come up with something not processed for $1.  Look for that recipe later this week.  This would pair perfectly with a 2009 Betz Family Clos de Betz Columbia Valley Red.  But since we are on a budget, it paired great with water and lemon.  Enjoy!


  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey                                      $3.99
  • 1 packet of Mushroom/Onion soup mix                      $0.50
  • 1 egg                                                                                 $0.17
  • 1 14.5 oz can Beef Broth                                                 $0.89
  • 1 package box of processed potatoes au gratin           $1.00
  • 3 T butter                                                                        $0.25
  • 1/2 C milk                                                                       $0.16
  • 2 C water                                                                         freeish
  • 1 package pre washed baby spinach                            $1.50 (bogo)
  • 1 lemon                                                                            $0.50
  • 1 8 oz package sliced mushrooms                                 $1.99
  • 6 slices Gouda Cheese                                                    $1.20
  • 2 garlic cloves                                                                 $0.10
  • 2 T flour                                                                           N/A
  • 2 T olive oil                                                                      N/A                                                                   
  1. Prepare sodium laden, processed potato product per box directions. (seriously, this is the last time I will ever make this, $1 or not!  I can get the ingredients and make it fresh for around $1)
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine beef or turkey, soup mix, and egg.  Mix well.
  4. Shape meat mixture into six, equal sized oval shapes. Tip  half the meat mixture and then divide each half into thirds for a universal size
  5. Place steaks relatively spread out on a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes, or until cooked through, turning over after 5 minutes.
  6. In a small saucepan over medium high heat, melt 2 T butter and whisk in 2 T flour.
  7. Slowly add beef broth and whisk until well combined.  Reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. In a small saute pan, add 1 T olive oil and lightly saute garlic that has been finely minced and add spinach and salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Add the juice of one small lemon to spinach.
  10. Remove spinach.  Add 1 T olive oil to the same pan and saute mushrooms until they have sweat and become soft (about five minutes).  Add salt and pepper (to taste).
  11. Top each "steak" with mushrooms and a slice of Gouda cheese.
  12. Return to oven for 2 minutes.  
  13. Enjoy! :) 
CAHD tip:  line your sheet pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray for easy clean up!  It is the only dish that got done tonight.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Happy Belated Father's Day....Mom!

Last year was my first father's day since my biological father passed away. I spent the day mourning less the loss of the human being whom I had little connection to, but more the loss of hope that I would ever have a dad. I felt semi orphaned. I always hoped things would get better with my father, even when we were estranged and in difficult times. Sadly, that will never be. Today marks the two year anniversary of his death. I have been trying to give meaning to the loss since this past father’s day and I was a bit surprised with what I came to.

I am a very proud and dedicated stay at home dad. I would say the first word I would use to describe my 'self' is "father." It is the most important role in my life. My three children are the most remarkable and amazing universes. I am the domestic-half of the partnership that is their air traffic control guiding them through their journeys towards the beautiful tomorrows that await them. My three girls each amazed me at first sight, and continue to leave me baffled and breathless with each step as they toddle forward (and much too quickly).

I understood relatively soon after becoming a dad that a lot of who I am as a father is because of who my father was not. I am actually grateful for that realization. It gives credit to a man I love without justification. I love my father and always will; however, he does not, and never did, deserve it. I believe he now knows that, freed of the limitations his life provided. This second "fatherless" father's day and second anniversary of his death have left me pondering: what were the 'positives' that led me to become the man/father I am and am becoming?

I grew up in an impoverished matriarchy. There were simply no men in the world I grew up in, aside from television, teachers, preachers, etc. My biological father left my six-months-pregnant mother with a six year old daughter, a one year old son, and no skills, no money and no hope. We were living in the other side of my father's parents' duplex when she was told to leave, pregnant. Her family of origin had moved 500 miles away the year prior. Proud as she was, she turned to public assistance, packed up what she could, and transferred her brood to what she could afford: a roach (and once rat) infested third floor apartment on the "bad" side of town.

It is interesting to define detail here, because that is not how it felt. Somehow, I always felt SAFE. I was that kid that brushed his teeth and, in horror, found wings and legs from a roach both on my brush and in my teeth. I was that kid who woke up to pee in the middle of the night and watched the roaches scurry in the light. I was that kid who had to sift through his cereal to make sure I wasn't consuming any of those diseased demons (I loathe roaches, in case I did not get that across ). Yet, somehow, I felt SAFE. We lived in squalor and walked on streets that were drug laden, crime infested, and dangerous. Home. In the center of so much horror was home.

My mother could not afford a car, so we walked everywhere. Once a week we had the luxury of paying $5.00 for a cab which lugged our young family and four giant, thin green garbage bags that would always tear whilst being carried down three flights of stairs, off to the Laundromat. My mother somehow saved up enough money to buy a luxurious used Pinto!! It may not have smelled fresh and clean, but could take us to more than just a place to wash our clothes...the PARK! The grocery store! Anywhere!!! The possibilities were ENDLESS!! That Pinto was my first limousine!

My younger brother and I were beaten up daily by bullies. Our mother grew tired of black eyes and bloody noses and eventually told us to never throw the first punch, but defend ourselves. She told us to be brave and fight back (if we had the internet back then, she would have said: “MAN UP!” LOL).

I will never forget the day that her advice came into play. We had typically tried every possible route to avoid conflict, but this day was different: It was a sunny warm June day on one of the last days of school. The scent of summer and freedom was in the air, and I still smell a specific scent from time to time that brings me back to that day. I was having a particularly good moment (so good I remember it over 30 years later), and we arrived at our street we typically scurried across, and saw the usual gang. They were playing stick ball in the road, and blocked the path to our front door as usual. I had a choice: Do we walk around the entire block, up the huge hill, across the road with the dogs that are always loose to go the other way, or walk forward? I remember making the choice: we are going to walk directly to our home, ‘I am walking on air,’ ‘life is good,’ ‘I got this!’

The softball that was whipped at my head was not unexpected, nor was the fight that ensued. We were kicked, punched, and my hair was literally torn out of my head-- you know, a typical Friday. There was something different about this day. I heard my mother's voice, and I stood up, scared shitless, yet empowered. I lunged back for the first time. I punched, I body slammed, clearly I “broke.” I “won.”

We were given warning the next day from the bullies’ older brothers that we were "going to be sorry." Two days later, our luxurious Pinto was stolen and we were forced to revert back to our once a week cab rides and endless walks. My mother embraced me and prided me on the fact that I stood up for myself. I was sorry. I felt guilty. If I had not taken the bullies down, we would still have a car!! My mother would have none of that. She made it clear to me that standing up to them, and fighting back was more important than that car that meant so much to our struggling family.

It would be five years before we would own another vehicle. My mother walked us to our school to drop us off. She would then walk to work and put in overtime. She walked to work on Saturdays to earn time and a half. She came home and conducted her second shift of raising us…making sure we were empowered and making sure we felt safe. She succeeded beyond her expectations, I think. Where did I learn to become a man and a father? I learned from a warrior who chose to be selfless so that her children could become. I learned from a champion who rose above impossible to make things possible for her children. I learned from a soldier who braved hell and made things safe when they weren't and she did not feel safe so her children would. I learned from a soul with so much love that she loves others truly so much that her self does not matter. I learned from a woman who accepted her plight was to "do it all," and did more. And most.

I am the man and the father I am because of the ‘man’ and the father that my mother chose to be when called upon by my father choosing to be nothing. My mom put herself through school and got off welfare. She moved up, step by step, and has a cute condo and a "brand new" car (when she bought it a few years ago, but it was a MOMENT).

My mother is retired, now, and lives comfortably. She remembers her plight, but doesn't comprehend it or understand the importance of what she has done. She knows not the amazing human being she is or how much she has accomplished. She doesn't know her own strength or resilience or influence.

My mother sleeps at my house once a week to help me with my three young girls and to allow me to work on my art. My mother tells me almost daily how proud she is of me. My father once uttered, right before his death, that he was proud of the father I am. I suppose since that is the most important role for me, I should take that as him being proud of "me." I struggle. My mother is proud of every single word I've said, even in times of the most chaotic chaos. And I know it. She reads every word I write, listens to every song I've written and recorded, and eats every recipe I cook. I mock my mom in my work, but it is a tribute. I am being ironic because she is my hero and does not comprehend why. Sometimes she gets upset by the things I say and the extent to which I publicly share our history. Mostly, she laughs as I mock her, lightheartedly, and supports my every move.

In my experience admining on different pages, I encounter MANY others like my mom: those who do it all, brave the second shift with non-involved partners, those who “lean in.” I am a full time stay at home dad whose tenure is just about up. It has been an arduous, wondrous, amazing, demanding, rewarding experience. I have help and support. I will never comprehend how my mother, or those like her, play both roles and so well.

I am a very proud, brave, strong, wise man and I now understand wholeheartedly that I learned it ALL from my mother and I celebrate her and those in the place she bravely pioneered. Happy Belated Father's Day, Mom. xoxoxoxo

This post originally appeared on the blog  Reposted with permission.  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Chapter 8: The Hissing Hemorrhoid

My wife and I had an intense discussion when we were in the tenth month of pregnancy with our first child, where we shared how we were feeling about becoming parents and what our fears were. I looked at her in a moment of sheer terror on both our parts, dead serious, and asked: "does birth smell?" She looked at me with a cracked grin and asked what I meant. I said: "there's going to be a whole lot, I imagine, that is smelly." She just shook her head, but I went on to point out that although we did Lamaze on DVD, we only watched the breathing part. There was a lot we did not know (it was so bad that my sister-in-law and I were still timing contractions and chanting, minutes before delivery in the hospital, after over a day of labor and our "coaching"). 

"What the what?" my wife asked. She then giggled, clearly not understanding that I was being totally serious. I feared a lot of things, and heard horror stories, and stories on the "beauty" of the birthing process...but no one talks about how it smells! I brought it up a few times as our due date approached and passed. I think it may have become completely unfunny when she was three days past our due date. 
The car ride to the hospital was borderline comedic, and I own that. I was a stereotypical first time father, shaking a mile a minute, forgetting bags, going over every bump possible in the road. "IS IT GOING TO BE SMELLY?" I screamed, in response to her nagging about how I was driving. My racing mind could not grasp anything else. I caught my wife's glaring eyes, illuminated by the headlights of oncoming traffic, and reflected from the mirror by the car riding the bumper of my 20 mph moving car on the fast paced NY freeway (I begged my wife to ride in the backseat with her sister because I thought it was safer). I realized that I was still not going to get an answer, but that I had it together enough to refocus on the road. I chuckled to myself over asking the very question, and it got us to our destination safely.

I experienced a great haze as my wife had a blood pressure drop and an incredibly difficult spinal. I have images that come to mind in those six hours after arrival, but most of the experience is through the zany pictures we took. My next moment of real lucidity was my wife being told to push. She pushed. She kept pushing. My wife pushed an Olympic level session of pushes for what seemed like forever! I held her hand, wiped her brow, cheered her on. 

And happened. Mind you, my first rookie mistake was jumping between my role as cheerleader/partner and as cinematographer, where I snapped pictures, took short video blips, etc. I will never forget the moment I saw it: I came face to face with the blasted hemorrhoid that had plagued my wife for three months, and became a pain in my own ass in my own right. It hissed at me! It was so horrifying an image I swear I could HEAR it, even when I recollect!

I stared this anal beast down, equally fascinated, horrified, mortified....PLOP. My wife's poo made the first of several clanks I would hear on the stainless steel she laid so helplessly and uncomfortably upon (I think there was some type of mattress on top of it). I tried not to take the moment in...How am I going to not laugh? How am I ever going to get over this? How am I ever going to look at her the same again??? 

Return to haze...the bitch obstetrician returned and began SCREAMING at my wife to push (she was not a bitch, per se, but to me she was the enemy that night). "PUSH PUSH!!" Couldn't she see how hard my wife was pushing??? She was pushing so hard that aliens, that will forever change our connection, are coming out of my wife's ass!! I knew I could do nothing to stop the doctor's demands, and I began crying. How could that doctor be so hard on her? I didn't know what else to do, so I began pushing on my wife's stomach, sure I could save the day. "We've got this baby, I'll help you!" I declared. 

Thank God the nurse saw what I was doing and screamed "NOT YOU, HER!!!" I threw my hands up as though a swat team had caught me robbing a convenience store and then panicked. Did I hurt the baby? Did I hurt my wife??? 

I didn't know what else to do, so I returned to my photography duties and saw the next image: this hairy bloody skin like mass bursting its way out of my wife...first a little, then a lot, then a little more, then retracting, then more, then retracting...POP!!! A bloody, hairy, gory, mucous covered head-- sticking out of my wife's vagina. I cried, mostly in horror, at what I was witnessing. WTF is that??? It was so Ridley Scott, so inorganic and horrific and seemingly unnatural. I looked immediately at my wife, who was in pure agony and returned to her side. I kissed her forehead and could hear "Push, push"...but it became more and more clear she was being told "DO NOT push!!"

The cord had been wrapped around our daughter's neck and they were moving at what seemed like slow motion, but apparently lightning speed trying to fix it. True panic set in at the thought of something happening to our baby. I feared and experienced the absolute worst case scenarios....brain damage, disfigurement, death. My knees buckled. Everything became completely surreal as I squeezed my wife's hand and my heart pounded furiously out of my chest. 

I then heard clearly: "OK, ONE MORE PUSH," and my wife grasped my hand like she was owning General Zod. All of a sudden-- this human being emerged. This hairy, bloody, mucous covered HUMAN BEING had emerged. It felt like a nano second and an eternity. The space time continuum stopped there and all was still. I was not able to stand, never mind think, act or do--and I can't believe that I did any of those things. A human being that I co created just ripped out of my wife's vagina. 

I don't think there was really comprehension or experience in the following seconds or minutes. I kept telling myself to breathe and to keep standing up. I did not want to be "that dad," though understand why dads go down after birth. I was handed scissors seemingly out of nowhere, and was told "cut here!" I felt like a right handed kindergartner given left handed scissors being told to cut through a tire: I cut, and nothing seemed to happen except a bloody mess. "Cut more, it is extremely thick!" I heard. I thought about how this was my wife's and my daughter's living connection and proceeded, though terrified I would do it wrong and hurt my wife and/or my baby. 

"CUT, CUT!!" the doctor shouted. Bitch. 

It took four cuts to sever the cord (though I swear it was 400), and blood splattered about the room like a death scene from any classic horror movie. They rushed this 'hairy bloody goop' away and all I could think about was my wife, my trembling hands that held scissors that just cut human flesh, and about the fact I was actually still standing. I gathered enough wits about me to go to my wife's side. I didn't know I was crying again until the tears splattered on her face. I was the perfect trifecta of exhausted, exhilarated, and ecstatic. 

"ARE YOU OK?" I screamed, probably louder than I should have, through my baffled bewilderment. I don't remember what she said, but remember seeing her face and knowing she was OK, so I turned to face the 'hairy, bloody goop.' I looked over at the nurses who scurried about and remember being mad that I could not run to see and confirm what I thought I had witnessed. The banging on the door (of my over enthusiastic mother in law ready to meet her first grandchild) was muffled when I heard "THUMP." I wish there were more words, because 'thump,' nor any other word can adequately define that 'sound.' The afterbirth hit the table, and I truly thought I was going to fall over. I tried to make sense of things, but I next saw the obstetrician using a NEEDLE AND THREAD ON MY WIFE'S VAGINA!!! I saw people continue to scurry about the 'hairy, bloody goop.' My heart was racing, my breathing was thin, my thoughts were thoughtless. I remember wondering, "wait, I am not OK!!!"

I somehow gathered enough stability to run over to where the nurses were gathered. One of the nurses moved away from her position, and there she was: 'Push, Push' (as I still call her)!! PERFECT in every way...I looked her up and down, covered with Mecuricome , still gory and a little bloody...and then: she opened her eyes and our eyes met, only inches apart. Every breath in my body, idea my mind ever thought, sound my ears ever heard, sight I had ever seen, every moment in any time I had ever known was sucked into an abyss-- NONE of that mattered anymore. All that existed, ever existed, or will ever exist was her...MY BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER!!! 

The nurses moved me to the gorified chair, blood strewn from one end to the other...and they placed my daughter in my arms for the first time. Since I have no words for THAT moment, I include this picture.

After an instant and an eternity, I looked over at my wife, the warrior, having a slight sense of what she had just done and I began sobbing. "THANK YOU! I LOVE YOU!! HOW??? HOW DID YOU DO THAT? DO YOU SEE HER??? ARE YOU OK???" I don't remember what she said, or if she even heard me.

The nurse then took our daughter and placed her on my wife's chest and the three of us embraced. PEACE and LOVE and LIGHT like I had NEVER experienced before, or even had the sense to conceptualize, aim for, or want. I had no sense of THIS before I received it. THIS is the most definitive component of my self, my life, my soul and always will be. I had NO idea THIS is what I wanted, needed, sought after. 

It would be a couple of very sleepless and hazy nights before we would discuss that night in any way we could really comprehend or give meaning to the experience. My wife and I were laying in bed as she breastfed our daughter. It was a breezy June night, and a warm wind blew through our bedroom. I remember how our daughter smelled of "baby" and lavender. We burned a sandalwood candle downstairs, and the scent lightly wafted into the room. The slight glow of the street lights, and the whooshing sound of passing cars filled the air through our open windows. It was one of those PERFECT moments. 

I looked at my wife, her eyes clearly visible from the street lights--so beautiful and so young, and I smiled. She gazed into my eyes, and then at our almost sleeping daughter. She smiled back at me and displayed the most content, amazing smile I had ever seen in my life. She reached around my head and grabbed me by the hair behind my ear and pulled me close, wiped my sweaty brow, and pulled me in for a kiss. We touched forehead and nose, and we both sighed. "So," she asked in a very serious tone, "was it smelly?" 

This was our only natural birth. Our twins were born via c section four years and six days later. C sections are a whole different beast. I still can't answer that question! I simply don't remember. I have an image of the poo, and an image of that hissing hemorrhoid. Those things are so completely trumped and muted by my wife's amazing strength and my daughter's amazing self. I guess it is like asking a woman if birth hurts. I think it is obvious what the answer is...but those details become so muted and unimportant. The resounding memory: my wife is a warrior and there was nothing gross or off-putting about it.  

CHAPTER 9:  I'M in charge of WHAT?