what i made for dinner :: quick sausage + mushroom lasagna

mushroom + sausage lasagna

lasagna is such a great dish to fall back on when you need something relatively quick, easy, and hearty. the newest issue of bon appetit had a delicious-sounding recipe for quick sausage + mushroom lasagna so i had to try it out the next time i was in need of a dinner recipe that yields lots of servings (for leftovers, of course).

it's actually not so quick if you have to slice all of the mushrooms yourself; that slowed me down a bit. but the recipe itself is simple and the assembly is quick. and, boy, was it yummy. ian, of course, picked out most of the mushrooms but maya enthusiastically ate it all.


what i made for dinner :: chicken + sweet potato pot pie

sweet potato chicken pot pie

it's the second week of october. you'd think the weather would start to cool down and the sweaters would get pulled out of the closet. nope, we're still enjoying the last vestiges of summer. so, in this heat it would be silly to start with the hearty, oven-baked dishes, but my body craves the food of autumn.

enter the chicken and sweet potato pot pie by ming tsai. i watch his show on pbs every once in awhile, which led me to his website recently. i found this recipe for an old favorite, but jazzed up with some ginger and chinese five spice. i also liked that it can be easily adapted for vegetarians (just take out the chicken -- duh!) without sacrificing on the flavor; the sweet potatoes really add something to the dish. the first time i made it i used yams, which made it turn out quite orange in color and too sweet in flavor. it's best to follow the recipe and use the lighter colored sweet potatoes. the sweetness is more subtle.

maybe i'm just slow, but chopping all the veggies took me some time; when i doubled the recipe for a party it took me half an hour just to chop the vegetables. and i had to cook down the mixture (after adding the heavy cream) for far longer than 25 minutes to reduce the amount of liquid.


a week in the life :: day 7 | sunday

see pictures from the week here.

  • it's wonderful that a) ian keeps himself occupied when he wakes up, and b) maya sleeps in some days, like today (she didn't nap yesterday). i keep on snoozing until 8:30; rupert wakes up earlier and is reading for school on the couch while it's still relatively quiet in the house.
  • spend the morning just hanging out on the couch, reading, and surfing the net. i was going to watch the snl biden/palin debate skit but realize i need to shower before ian's baseball game.
  • rupert makes us a yummy lunch of leftover zankou chicken tortilla wraps. we hussle out of the house at 11:45 to make it to the field across town. this is ian's first game for the fall baseball league, which is not our local league. we were told to arrive an hour early, which we do, but we have no idea who to talk to or where to go. luckily, our local little league's president shows up and his son and ian are on the same team.
  • the game goes alright, except that our kids are not used to the pitching machine or stealing bases. i think we lose (i miss the end of the game because i took maya to the playground) and i think ian is a bit bummed that he doesn't make a hit. but he had a great catch at first base for an out. his favorite position to play is pitcher, even if he actually doesn't pitch (he stands next to the pitching machine and catches the ball from the catcher). the game is long so we don't get home until close to 3.
  • ian takes a shower, we eat some snacks, and then it's nap time for mama + maya. i read a bit more of my book and then fall fast asleep. when i wake up around 6pm ian is sorting laundry in the living room and rupert has gone to TJ's to find dinner. i hop online and take care of some pta business. commend ian for successfully sorting a huge pile of laundry and folding his own clothes. now that i know he can do this it will become parts of his chores.
  • rupert makes dinner (korean bbq) so that we can eat our leftover kimchi. maya wakes up slightly cranky but seems pleased to eat salad. she perks up after that and is in a disturbingly good mood. we inhale a ton of meat and we manage to polish off a pack of korean nori. then it's time for fox's animation domination :: the simpsons, king of the hill, family guy, and american dad (which we normally don't watch but it's on in the background while we tap away at our laptops). the kids went to bed during family guy so it's just me + rupert hanging out on opposite couches. around 11 i im for an hour with my step-sis D through gmail. but by midnight we're all tired so we head to bed.


a week in the life :: day 6 | saturday

  • another slow start to the day. i think it's getting to be that time of the year where it's so warm and cozy in bed i don't want to leave.
  • got bit by a mosquito behind my knee yesterday at the sand dune and it itches like crazy. and it's swollen up.
  • ian has a soccer game at 1 but i am completely knocked out with a tension/sinus headache. it starts to drizzle a bit so maya comes home and hangs out in the living room by herself while i continue to nap. ian comes back exhausted from the game ... and he made a goal. yay!
  • we're supposed to head to the hometown fair but the weather's iffy and ian doesn't want to go and something that should be simple somehow ends up slightly complicated. in the end rupert + i drop off maya and my mother-in-law at the fair. ian stays with my father-in-law at their house by the beach. rupert + i are now free for the rest of the evening :: date night!
  • dinner at daikokuya in little tokyo. our decision to eat there is influenced by the recent issue of la weekly. it's still fairly early but there's a wait; i tell rupert i'm going to pig out on noodles + gyoza. soooooo nice to slurp noodles uninterrupted, but i wonder why the noodles here are slightly chijiri and the same stuff i get at the market? i finish the noodles and savor the gyoza but find myself fuller than i used to be after polishing off a bowl of noodles. i fear my stomach is shrinking; rupert said that was a good thing. really?
  • wander back to the car through japanese village plaza, browsing some shops along the way. since it's still pretty early (6:30ish) and we can't think of a single hipster thing to do in little tokyo/downtown, we head to borders near our house. order a coffee and walk around. i can pick up books and actually flip through them without having to worry about what maya is doing. consider buying something for my sister's birthday but i realize i forgot my weekly coupon. no shopping tonight.
  • my question of the day :: could early man have pyromania if fire hadn't been discovered yet?and what's a cave man with ocd like?
  • make it back to my in-laws' house to pick up the kids. maya had a great time riding the pony at the fair. ian had a mini pizza for dinner. it takes us awhile to leave because maya wants to take a walk with lucy, my in-laws' dog, which is their ritual. and then she insisted on having ice cream for dessert. i kill the time doing a sudoku, which i don't finish.
  • after getting home, rupert puts the kids to bed. he wants to watch "forgetting sarah marshall" but i am engrossed with the internet. he turns it on anyway and i get engrossed with the movie. really cute and peter totally cracks me up (especially his dracula puppet musical). watch the special features too. and then off to bed.


35 months.

miss piggy
maya @ 35 months :: october 4, 2008

  • at the beginning of the month, her diaper was not fitting right for some reason (i.e., her pee leaked frequently). at first we thought it was because we got some huggies (we usually use pampers), then we thought it was because her pampers were too small, but now that we've switched to bigger pampers and it's still happening, we're stumped. --> duh, she's just peeing more!
  • likes to make herself dizzy by twirling around, running in circles, or spinning on her butt
  • favorite movie :: harry potter (usually "harry potter and the sorcerer's stone")
  • favorite game :: wii fit ski jump
  • favorite animal :: elephants
  • we made her cry when we told her not to eat her boogers because it's gross
  • she can wash her hands by herself. she even drags the stool over to the light switch to turn the light on and off.
  • back to playing with her friend julia, but now i have to swing by ian's old school (after dropping him off at his current grades 3-5 school) so she can have her mini-playdate each morning.
  • i cannot seem to get rid of the fruit flies in our kitchen, and when maya sees them she says, "bug :: squish it!" as she claps her hands together.
  • collecting rose petals in her basket purse, ziploc bags, and spongebob tin.
  • hiding her hands behind her back when she's taken something or has something that she shouldn't have.
  • after some playdates with more potty-trained friends she's been going to the bathroom more consistently :: "i NEED to go peepee!!"
  • climbing into her crib (swings her legs over the front if it's lowered).
  • likes to use colored pencils :: the other day she was "drawing" colorful lines on a piece of paper and when rupert asked her what she was drawing she replied they were all "mad people."
  • got a hand-me-down (3-wheeled) scooter from our next door neighbors. she's really cute in her doggy helmet, kicking along the sidewalk ... until she runs into something.
  • the dreaded "why?"s have begun.
  • she's beginning to express fear more frequently :: "i scared" and she hugs herself. she's been sleeping fine in her room without a nightlight but now she occasionally complains about the dark. (ian having just recently stopped using a nightlight we are trying very hard not to get her to use one.)
  • a clear sign that we need to cut down on the tv-watching :: "i like this commercial!"
  • breaking bones and choking ... and she thinks it's funny.
  • when she's got attitude we hear a lot of, "i know!" but when she's being cute she'll say stuff like, "oh, i got ya!"
  • calls the iphone "debbie phone," since my step-sis has one.
  • taking fewer and fewer naps ... boo!knows a few more letters (w, c, r, q); rupert has been working with her using flashcards.
  • learned from somewhere that after you say, "trick or treat!" you get candy.
  • i've caught her using my scissors, snipping pieces of papers into tiny pieces.
  • she likes to assign "mama," "dada," "baby," and "niinii" roles to everything living (usually by size).


a week in the life :: day 5 | friday

  • to make up for the two previous unproductive days, i get up at 5:30am to go to the sand dune. i'm supposed to meet my friends there so i head out to get there by 6. i arrive earlier than the others so i start my workout :: trudging up the sand dune. in the end i get up 11 times, which is the most i've done so far, and i wasn't even dripping sweat! i think i can do more. :)
  • when i get home i print out ian's oral presentation paper and take care of some emails for the pta. rupert is nice enough to pack ian's lunch for me and get maya out of her crib so i can shower.
  • ince maya, rupert + i are going to the zoo with some friends after dropping ian off at school, i pack some snacks and get maya ready. i walk ian to school and we arrive a couple of minutes before 9:20. ian's disappointed that we're going to the zoo without him but i'll think of some place to take him on monday when he doesn't have school.
  • we get to the zoo and meet up with our friends D+P and their daughter D. we spend the next three hours enjoying the animals and the great weather (the temperature is finally dropping). i assign rupert photographer duties and he takes some great shots of the giraffes. my favorite animal of the day is the koala :: there's an especially active and adorable one. rupert's favorites are the orangutans (the baby was pulling and tugging on the male, and the mom had to drag the baby away).
  • by the time we leave it's kind of late and we haven't had lunch yet. i worry that we won't make it back home in time to pick up ian so i text my friend Y and she agrees to get him for us. now we can enjoy our lunch withour hurrying. we head to zankou chicken at rupert's request and enjoy a quick meal of chicken with garlic sauce. we say bye to our friends and actually make it back home by 3:05. as we stop at the intersection in front of our house we see ian standing at the corner with his friend R (Y's son). perfect timing!
  • maya fell asleep in the car so we leave her in there and i spend some time in the garage uploading the pictures from the zoo (i open the garage door so i can see maya in the car). i tag-team with rupert and he works on the computer for awhile. maya wakes up a couple of hours later and we head inside for rock band time! the three of us play for awhile, and then rupert heads to the kitchen to heat up some food for the kids. ian and i play and we really get into it. rupert says we're ridiculous. and you know what ian says in his best rocker voice? "why? are we ridiculous because we want to rock?!"
  • finished watching "sicko." became a fan of tony benn. i always take what michael moore says with a grain of salt, even though i'm a liberal myself and generally agree with what he's trying to convey. still, it is sickening to think what lack of health coverage/care does to people and their families. i know other countries' socialized health care systems aren't perfect, but it made me wonder why so many americans resist the idea of helping others for the benefit of the greater good. i guess i'm more of a socialist than i realized??


a week in the life :: day 4 | thursday

  • what's happening to me? i didn't get out of bed until 8:30! (i did get up at 5:30 ... again ... because maya was scared and i had to convince her to go back to sleep.) jump in the shower to wake myself up. no surprise, i didn't work out. i ask rupert, exasperatedly, to pack ian's lunch. i don't have time for breakfast so i grab half of rupert's bagel and throw some fruit into a bento box for maya.
  • walk to school, noticing it's already pretty warm, even though it's supposed to be cooler today. head over to the other school and end up chatting until 11am with some of the other parents. the shade is nice and there's a bit of a breeze; seems like it actually will be a bit cooler today.
  • get home and plop down on the couch to finish reading "bonk." give maya some snacks and let her watch tv. eventually i fall asleep ... and keep sleeping ... and keep right on sleeping. i don't eat lunch again.
  • decide by 2 that i am in no shape to go tutor. i don't necessarily feel sick but i don't have the energy or the willpower to get going. call my mother-in-law to tell her she doesn't have to watch the kids. call rupert and leave a voicemail asking when he's going to come home.
  • pick ian up at 3 and slowly make my way home. maya fell asleep in her stroller so i carefully put her in her crib. she wakes up, of course, but i tell her to nap and close the door to her room. am so tired but i have to send some emails for the pta meeting i can't attend tonight. i also catch up on reading blogs. ian finishes his homework and then types up his presentation (about the medal he got from the 5k) for tomorrow. must remember to print it out before tomorrow morning. finish "bonk" and start reading "the year of living biblically."
  • turn the tv on and watch the vice presidential debate. maya has been chatting, whining, and finally crying in her crib so i retrieve her. when ian realizes that "the simpsons" isn't on he hightails it to his room where he finishes reading "diary of a wimpy kid." bring up "the reality-based community" blog to read liveblogging during the debate. part-way through the debate rupert comes home. he starts making dinner (ravioli) while listening to the debate. he and the kids eat but i pass (i do nibble on a few bites of maya's leftovers, though).
  • i am no fan of palin's but i can understand her appeal to the republican base she's already captured; she performs much better than her katie couric interview (and i use the word "perform" intentionally). i feel biden answers more of the questions directly, and he's more knowledgeable about what's going on in the world. but we'll see how accurate both of their claims are once the fact-checkers get through with them. to lighten things up we watch last saturday's palin/couric skit from snl. i wonder if they'll do anything about the debate for this week's show.
  • we watch a little bit of the show "hole in the wall" while the kids get ready to go to bed. such an absurd show; no surprise it's inspired by a japanese game show. after the kids are in bed rupert pops in "sicko," which we got from netflix. this is probably not the right movie to watch before rupert gets his surgery ...
  • in 45 minutes i will be watching episode 2 of "spain ... on the road again." it'll keep me up longer than i want because i have to get up early (5:30am) to go to the sand dune. but it'll be worth it.

a week in the life :: day 3 | wednesday

  • maya wakes up once around 6am but i convince her to go back to sleep. and since ian is early bird on wednesdays i decide not to work out today, which means i sleep in until 7:30 (it probably also has to do with my staying up late reading). force myself to get up since i still have to pack ian's lunch and get ready myself. while pulling out lunch stuff from the fridge i notice that there are fruit flies in the refrigerator. wtf? where are they coming from? i freak out, thinking they're breeding in the fridge, so i start throwing out old stuff and scrubbing some of the grimier parts. check the clock and i only have a few more minutes before we have to leave. maya barely wakes up in time for us to leave for school at 8:20.
  • it is another hot day; i'm sweating just walking to school. by the time we get to maya's "playdate" at the other school i feel disgusting. only stay for a little while since it's hot and maya's little friend has to leave.
  • get home and have a feeling it's going to be an unproductive day. blame it on the heat.
  • maya hasn't eaten so i toast her a bagel (a new purchase by rupert :: TJ's sprouted wheat bagels). she is displeased with my decision to put cream cheese on her half of the bagel. i am forced to eat off the top layer of the bagel with the cream cheese. we watch "sid the science kid" on pbs, which we really like.
  • head to the post office to mail a tagE*blankE order and wedding magazines for my future sister-in-law. i think i got a new postal employee because he tried to charge me over $6 to ship the blankE, which i know should only cost $2 to ship. set him straight.
  • i am already exhausted and it's only 11am. plop myself down on the couch and continue reading "bonk," which i am totally engrossed in. feeling drowsy so i decide to take a nap, especially since maya is actually keeping herself busy.
  • an hour later maya wakes me up because she's hungry. i feel too hot to eat anything but ask maya what she wants to eat. she doesn't want anything but carrots, so that's her lunch. i cut up a nectarine for myself but can't finish it.
  • keep reading (my own book and a pokemon book for maya) until it's time to get ian at 2pm. the sun beats down on us during our brief walk. we get to school a few minutes early so i spot my friend L and chat with her about her new job. should've brought my sunglasses because i'm majorly squinting. i spot riley, our friend's dog, coming and maya is cautiously excited (riley is bigger than maya and he licks her face if given the opportunity).
  • get the boys and head to the park, our wednesday tradition. my friend Y (R's mom) has a spot staked out in the shade under a tree. hang out for awhile until maya gets cranky and insists we go home. ian is enjoying a game of football with some of the other boys and i have to tear him away from the game. maya's crankiness gets worse when the football is thrown at her chest.
  • walk home and get the kids to bathe. sadly, i don't get a turn in the shower. i am stinky. after ian does some homework we head to the local farmers market, our new wednesday afternoon routine, before heading to ian's french class. maya likes to go to the baker and get a free cookie sample. this week they only have banana bread and macaroom samples. the kids like the banana bread enough that we buy a loaf. i head to the two booths i always hit :: the organic stand for four ears of corn and the fruit vendor for apples and nectarines. i was going to complain that the grapes i bought last week had seeds even though i was told they were seedless, but i realize that the vendor might not know a lot of english. (today i ask him if we're getting to the end of nectarine season and he gave me a blank stare so i'm guessing he's not fluent. it would be helpful if i knew more spanish.) the kids are zigzagging around the various vendors eating free samples, which i feel slightly guilty about but not that much since it gets the kids to eat fruit. leave the farmers market without having spent too much money.
  • head to ian's french class 20 minutes away. plead with maya to take a nap, even though it's 5pm already. she does not comply and lets out some ear-splitting screeches instead. after dropping ian off, maya asks to go to the pet store (it's in the same stripmall complex). we spend a few minutes looking at the furry critters but maya's real interest is in reptiles. she is delighted with the lizards (the snakes are sleeping) and i must admit i got a little excited when i saw the baby bearded dragon eat a live cricket. on our way out we run into our former rie teacher (who happens to be the mom of one of my close friends).
  • there's still some time before ian's class ends so we hang out in the waiting room. this is where i realize maya actually knows more letters than i thought :: we're putting together an alphabet puzzle and she identifies some letters. and here i thought she didn't know anything. i guess there's still hope for her.
  • by the time class ends it's 6:45pm so we pick up dinner at a chicken place i've been meaning to try. it's peruvian-influenced so i order lomo saltado for rupert, chicken fried rice and platanos for me, and a chicken sandwich for ian (with grilled onions, which is weird since he normally hates onions). it's tasty but on the salty side.
  • we watch the season premiere of "pushing daisies." it is really a cute, clever, and colorful show. i sort of forgot to keep watching it last season but i can see myself getting into it.
  • and my night ends the way it has for the last two days :: uploading photos and blogging about my day. and a "friends" rerun with a strawberry popsicle.


a week in the life :: day 2 | tuesday

  • wake up at 6:45, 15 minutes later than i intended to. rupert is already up because maya woke up scared. find them on the couch watching "maya and miguel."
  • eat maya's leftover red bean pastry and drink a glass of water (with my calcium and fish oil supplements) before heading out for a run. come back 22 minutes later (2 miles), very sweaty. maya is watching sesame street, dancing and singing along to ll cool j and elmo singing about an addition expedition :: add 'em up!
  • take a shower even though i know i'm going to have to take another one in a few hours (after i play tennis with friends). get dressed and get ready to face the day :: packing ian's lunch, having a snack (nectarine slices and a danish), looking over ian's homework, checking my email, getting maya ready.
  • same routine as always :: get ian to school by 9:20 and walk over to the other elementary school so maya can see her friend J. but today we head to the park to play tennis (me + maya, J + her mom T, our friends D+Y). it is a scorchingly hot day and we are sweating in no time. we play for 45 minutes until D has to go to work. maya wants to go on the swings so we head towards the playground. J convinces her mom that she needs to go on the swings too. end up staying at the park for another 45 minutes while the girls play. on the walk home notice that there are tons of termites flying around. must be the heat.
  • get home around lunchtime but maya is filthy so i put her in the shower. she wants to hold the showerhead and doesn't get too upset when she squirts herself in the face with water. i give her lunch (turkey, carrots, apples, and cheese), turn on sesame street, and hop in the shower while she eats. i continue to be slightly disappointed that my dr. bronner's bar soap doesn't keep its lather while i wash my body.
  • scarf down lunch of leftover korean noodles and bean sprout namul while i browse the cookbook club catalog. it's now 1 o'clock so maya and i head to the library (a one minute walk across the street). she picks orange flowers from our front yard while we wait for the light. i return "tunnels," pick up the books i have on hold ("bonk" and "the year of living biblically"), and find a few other books ("the wall" and "diary of a wimpy kid" 1 + 2 for ian). maya kicks off her shoes, pulls books from the shelf (which i forget to return to their rightful places on the shelves), and ends up at the pre-k/kinder computer before finding a video about animals.
  • since i have to tutor in the afternoon i try to get maya to take an early nap. i read her a japanese book about pooping before depositing her in her crib. i lie down in bed to read "bonk." before i get too involved in the book i call my mother-in-law to make sure she can watch the kids while i tutor. get back to reading; i'm already loving it and i've only read 22 pages. but i need my daily nap so i close my eyes at 2:04. the phone rings a minute later. it's my bff in san francisco. we didn't get to meet up while she was down in la over the weekend so she calls to check up on us. chat for about 20 minutes. i don't have much time before ian gets out of school so i set the alarm for 2:47 and try to take a quick nap.
  • wake up 15 minutes later. turns out i don't need the alarm. brush my teeth, pack up the car with the afternoon necessities, and wake up maya. she must've just fallen asleep because i can't rouse her. carry her to her stroller and walk to ian's school to pick him + R up. maya finally wakes up when i try to transfer her from the stroller to the car seat. we head over to grandma's house with all the windows rolled down because the car is hot. the wind makes maya's hair blow into her face and paper scraps fly around the backseat.
  • drop the kids off at grandma's house and make a dash out of there (i like to be on the road by 3:30 to make it to my tutoring job). i have a few extra minutes so i make a pit-stop at boba zone and buy two large boba milk teas to take to tutoring. the girl i tutor, Y, has homework in language arts (the different types of nouns :: concrete/abstract, common/proper, and collective), science (the characteristics of all living things), and math (multiplication + division of negative integers). she forgot her social studies worksheet so she'll have to use her free homework pass tomorrow. finish at 6pm.
  • drive to the japanese market on the way home. i was hoping a new comic book would be on sale at the japanese bookstore but no luck. buy two packs of my favorite rice crackers at the market. realize spending over $6 on rice crackers is absurd; must cut back on cracker consumption. in the parking lot try to get in touch with someone on my cell so i know where to go for dinner (it's rosh hashanah and we're supposed to have a family dinner). rupert calls me from home (after he misses my call to his cell) and we decide that i'll go home so we can drive together to his parents' house.
  • on the drive home i anxiously watch my odometer as it nears the 100,000 mile mark. i get my camera ready and take a few test shots while it's at 99,999 miles. it hits 100,000 miles as i cross rosecrans avenue. prop my camera on the steering wheel and take a few shots of the odometer while keeping my hands on the wheel. make it home and it's still at 100,000.
  • hang out with rupert for a few minutes on the couch. check my email on his laptop. as we're getting ready to leave we see that our bathroom and kitchen garbage cans are infested with fruit flies. yucky! we get the garbage out of the house as quickly as possible.
  • dinner is salmon with noodle kugel and broccoli. the kugel doesn't turn out exactly as my mother-in-law hoped (the noodles on top are really crunchy), but it's good nonetheless. we talk about the economic "bailout" legislation with my father-in-law; it doesn't get heated but my fil is clearly unhappy that the legislation didn't pass. rupert + i feel something should be done but it shouldn't be rushed.
  • after dinner rupert helps his mom figure out the bus line to downtown so she can go to jury duty, which she is not happy about. meanwhile, the kids watch tv with grandpa and have dessert. it's getting late (already past 9pm) so we change maya's clothes and get ready to go home. my mother-in-law reminds us to look up flights to chicago so we can attend a family wedding.
  • once at home, i immediately turn on my laptop and start uploading the photos from today while rupert gets the kids ready for bed. blogging about my entire day takes some time and rupert is waiting for me to finish.
  • end up reading in bed for another hour. rupert is conked out next to me. don't want to stop reading but finally relent since my eyelids are so heavy.