Passover + Bernie's First Month

Despite getting aggressively sick of matzo and showering millions of matzo crumbs all over Bernie every day (sorry, Bernie!), we had the best Passover ever. My mom flew in like a true Passover Mary Poppins and prepared the most delicious brisket, sweet potato kugel, matzo balls, and charoset while I fumbled around just trying to melt some dang chocolate for a flourless chocolate cake while Bernie snoozed but sometimes wailed in her ring sling. (Check out the finished cake! Whatever the cake decorating equivalent is to the Ravel Piano Concerto for the Left Hand, I’m practicing for it.) We set the table with my favorite flowery tablecloth and a makeshift seder plate, complete with Bernie’s toy beet because we couldn’t find a bone and it turns out that a beet is commonly used on vegetarian seder tables, and had the Eggs over for a short and sweet Seder. Bernie slept the entire time and even let me put her down in her bouncy chair so that I could safely eat some soup. She kind of woke up to telepathically guide Eggboy to where she thought the Afikoman was hiding and won, of course. Her prize was a Mo Willems book from Auntie Elaine.

The rest of the week consisted of leftover brisket matzo pizza, cheesy matzo brei, matzo lasagna, pb and j on matzo, kewpie and swiss on matzo… If I was an octopus I would have fixed big beautiful ramp-filled spring salads while also cuddling Bernie, but I’m not an octopus so I chose the next best route which still involved cuddling Bernie but required having to just one-hand scarf the most readily available calories on top of matzo. (And I only cheated once when I determined that one hour of solid Bernie screaming earned me one unit of chametz, which I redeemed in the form of a Jimmy John’s Turkey Tom.)

Other than Passover, we have had such a wonderful month, the first month of Bernie! It has included lots of firsts and lots of learning: 

-Bernie took a pacifier for the first time yesterday and I melted almost as quickly as I did the first time I held her. What is it about baby faces with pacifiers sticking out of them that are sooo outrageously adorable??

-We baked challah for the first time! Bernie was nestled in her Solly wrap while I braided. We made three loaves: everything bagel, cinnamon raisin, and sea salt. I hope she enjoyed the smell of it baking. Imagine smelling freshly baked challah for the first time!

-I learned how to not get projectile pooped on. (Of course, it took getting projectile pooped on to learn that…but it was my own fault for standing in the line of fire.)

-I learned how to plan a Sunday to avoid the witching hour so that Bernie would be calm throughout Game of Thrones.

-This morning I took Bernie up a flight of stairs for the first time. She was in her sling and fast asleep but in my mind it was a *moment*.

-Bernie had her first bath and I think she likes bath time!!

-I learned that the acoustics in the grocery store are not actually that bad when combined with Bernie screams. The acoustics in the gym kind of are though. Conveniently, it’s easier to drop everything and leave the gym than it is to drop everything and leave the grocery store. 

-And lastly, I learned how to have reasonable limits. Do one thing every dayjust one, advised Eggsister, and it’s been the best goal. One outing (like going to the grocery store or on a walk at the gym, but not both) or one project (like writing this blog post or baking something or working on Bernie’s baby book) plus all of the necessary baby stuff (feeding, changing, tummy time, bath time, cuddling) and adult stuff (brushing my teeth, eating a granola bar, staring at Bernie, and occasionally showering) makes a successful day these days. I’ve been slow moving but doing my best to savor every bit of it. 

Ok now if you’ll excuse me I’ve wanted a piece of challah for the past three hours so I’m going to prepare to make the journey with Bernie from living room to kitchen for that piece of challah. See you in a month!

-yeh!

Turkey Spinach Meatballs with Tahini and Chimichurri

I’ve been preparing for this year’s Passover for months now. Ever since I realized that Passover would be Bernie’s first major holiday, I’ve had so many things going through my mind. This is our first holiday as a little family! It’s going to be the best thing ever! I’m going to cry so much!!!!!! Literally I can’t even imagine explaining the bitter herbs to Bernie without tearing up. And carrying her around while searching for the afikoman?? I’m weeping. The food, I realized, would have to be delicious and memorable but mostly prep-aheadable. In my freezer I have balls of Passover chocolate chip cookie dough and a white matzo lasagna (recipes coming soon for both of these), as well as chicken stock that will hopefully see some matzo balls. My mom is planning to be here for Passover so I’m hoping that between the two of us and Eggboy, we’ll be able to both snuggle Bernie all day long and roll a matzo ball. And braise a brisket. Even though braises do really well in the freezer, I didn’t get around to braising one before she arrived. (Oh, this is what Mom guilt is!)

I did however make a bunch of these meatballs that I love for multiple reasons: 

-The flavor is incredible, they taste sausage-y, thanks to a sprinkling of fennel seeds and a heavy hand with the herbs.

-There’s spinach hiding in them! Even though they’re warm and comforting, they’re on the more nutritious end of the spectrum when it comes to freezer foods.

-They’re great as a Passover dish or a non-Passover dish. They’re not like those foods that only really taste good on the sixth day of Passover when you have Passover goggles on.

-Eggboy is obsessed with meatballs. He is meatball boy.

-They freeze and reheat really easily. I store them in a ziploc bag, so they can smoosh in anywhere in the freezer, and then you can reheat them just by tossing them into red sauce or sticking them in the oven. 

Here I’ve plated them up with some creamy tahini sauce (garlicky yogurt sauce is also nice) and a super bright and springy chimichurri. It’s a fun way to eat them for a pasta-less week or if you’re just looking for a filling side for an otherwise vegetable-centric meal. When it’s not Passover I’m definitely piling these high on top of pappardelle. 


Turkey and Spinach Meatballs with Tahini and Chimichurri

Makes 22-24 meatballs

Ingredients

Meatballs

2 tb olive oil, plus more for cooking meatballs

1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

Kosher salt

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds

8 oz fresh spinach, chopped

1 large egg

1/2 c (30g) matzo meal (or panko breadcrumbs)

Black pepper

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp cayenne

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp sweet paprika

1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 lb ground turkey (93% lean)

Tahini Sauce

1/4 c tahini

Juice of 1/2 lemon

3 tb water

Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Chimichurri

1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

1/2 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped

1 clove garlic

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 c (100g) olive oil

Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Clues

Preheat the oven to 425ºf.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat in a large oven-safe skillet. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook until soft, 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and fennel and cook for another minute and then add the spinach in batches, stirring, until wilted. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the egg, breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon salt, a few turns of black pepper, the onion powder, cayenne, thyme, oregano, paprika, parsley, turkey, and the slightly cooled spinach mixture and use your hands to mix to combine.

Wipe out the skillet that was used to heat the spinach and then heat a thin layer of olive oil over medium high heat. Form the turkey mixture into golfball-sized balls and brown them on all sides, in 2 or 3 batches, being careful not to crowd the pan. Transfer the browned meatballs to a plate. Once all of the meatballs are browned, return them to the skillet and stick the skillet in the oven for 7-10 minutes, until they’re cooked through and have an internal temperature of 160ºf. To make the tahini sauce, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, and water until smooth and pourable. If it’s too thick, add a bit more water, if it’s runny, add more tahini. Season with salt and pepper.

To make the chimichurri, combine all ingredients in a food processor, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste, and blend until smooth. If you don’t want to use a food processor, you can also chop the herbs and garlic finely by hand and mix with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl.

To serve, spread a large dollop of tahini sauce on a plate or shallow bowl, top with meatballs and drizzle on the chimichurri to taste. Enjoy!

To freeze: cooked meatballs can be cooled and stored in a ziploc bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, place on a sheet pan and cover with foil. Bake at 350º for about 15-20 minutes, or until heated through. Prepared chimichurri can be frozen as well. Defrost at room temp or heat briefly in the microwave. I wouldn’t recommend freezing tahini sauce, but it’s super easy to whip up!


Meet Bernie!

Hello from my new absolute favorite place in the world: snuggling on the recliner with a warm squishy Bernie sleeping on my chest. Holy smokes, this has been the greatest week ever. Sure, my boobs are about to fall off and I have stitches in a non-disclosable place but just like you have all told me over the past few months, every single challenge and every ounce of sleep deprivation is 1000000000% worth the love I get to have for this perfect little dumpling baby girl.

Today is Bernie’s first Friday! Ever! A week ago Eggboy and I arrived at the hospital after my water broke at around 1am. It was perfect timing because I had just finished up my last planned day of work testing recipes for Girl Meets Farm, and had cupcakes on hand that we packed up for the nurses (who by the way deserve like endless cupcakes forever and ever?! They were so amazing). I spent the day laboring and hanging out with my mom and Eggmom and Eggboy! We watched the Duke basketball game, listened to Unorthodox, talked about books, and I watched them eat Jimmy John’s… dreaming of the Italian Night Club that I’d soon be able to demolish. Since my water broke so early in the day, I assumed that Bernie would be born in time for pizza Friday, but she took her time and came out shortly after the clock struck midnight on her due date, March 30! A Caturday! She was so calm and huggable, I was immediately wildly crazily in love. I didn’t even care that by that time all of the pizza places in town were closed and my only food option was a hospital turkey sandwich haha.

Bernie has my nose, my hair, Eggboy’s mouth (a future good trombone embouchure, he says), his non-stubby toes, and both of our favorite emoji, 😛. Her full name, Bernadette, is in honor of Eggboy’s great great grandpa, Bernt, who came over from Norway and started the Hagen farm in 1876, and my great grandpa Bernard, who emigrated from Hungary. Bernie’s first middle name, Rosemary, is after my mom’s mom! (It’s no coincidence that Rosemary is also one of my favorite herbs, and that it was all over my wedding bouquets.)

Bringing Bernie home for the first time and introducing her to the farm and her room and all of her new toys and clothes was such a magical feeling that I never want to forget. In the week since her arrival, we’ve spent most of our hours cuddling, nursing, catching up on my bagels and lox intake, watching concerts on the Berlin Phil’s Digital Concert Hall, and eating delicious dinners brought over by friends and family. Bernie has perfected her cute little sounds, yips and hiccups and soft perfect sighs, and occasionally she puckers her lips and I melt right down like butter on toast. Oh! And I had my first “is this chocolate? or poop?” moment. It was chocolate! Yay.

Ok I’m due to give some hugs and forehead smooches, so I gotta go!!! Now that I’m officially on maternity leave, I’ll be posting a bunch of (mostly freezer friendly) recipes that I developed over the past few months. I’ll check in every so often with Bernie updates!

And also thank you all so much for your sweet words and messages about Bernie!!! We’ve felt the love through social media and are so so grateful! <3

-Yeh!