Thursday, June 16, 2011

There's still hope for me...a GOOD parenting moment

So lately my little "angel" has been really pushing my buttons.  Correction, she has been slamming, punching, kicking, (you pick the adjective) my buttons.  Either way it hasn't been pretty.  Quite frankly, I haven't been the best at handling it either.  A lot of "don't talk back to me young lady"; "you're not 3 your 6 act like it!"; "stop being mean to your brother" and "if you can't play nicely go play by yourself".  On Tuesday, after a particularly BAD Monday, I had what Oprah refers to as an "Ah-Ha!" moment.  I started thinking "Something more is going on here".  After a few probing questions that were met with "yes Mummy" and "I don't know Mummy",  I came around to school and girls.  "Honey, is everything ok at school? Are the girls being nice to you? How's Amber been lately?" Whammo! I finally ask the right question. "Well..." she said timidly, "Amber and Shir have been a little mean to me lately." Of course my first instinct was to bad mouth those mean little girls but well, I have to be a grown up and they ARE only 6, so instead I said "Really? What's going on? Shir is usually very nice to you." Immediately Alexa perked up and began spilling her guts, "Shir is usually nice to me but sometimes she's better friends with Amber and then they are mean to me and won't play with me and my feelings get hurt."  I got down on my knees, took her by the hands,  looked her in the eye and said "Listen Alexa, no matter WHAT anybody says to you, you are a VERY special little girl inside and out.  You are beautiful inside and out and LOTS and LOTS of people love you and know how very special you are.  God made you special. There is NO other girl in the world like Alexa and that makes you VERY special.  Do you understand? I love you, Daddy loves you, Nick loves you..." and I proceeded to list every member of our family. (that list is too long to recreate here) and told her "Always remember how very very special you are!".  She beamed the biggest happiest smile back it me and I thought "FINALLY! I got it RIGHT!!" She gave me a big big hug and do you know what?  We had a great afternoon and she played beautifully with her little brother.  I felt proud but also a bit sad afterwards.  Sad that at only 6 she is dealing with friend issues that sting and hurt, sad that I let it fester so long, sad that I was SO damn busy I didn't take 5 minutes to tell her she was special! Yesterday morning as I kissed her goodbye I reminded her, "remember, you are special and LOTS of people love you!" She smiled back at me and today I she came home happy.  It feels good to finally get some of this parenting thing RIGHT! Now onto my next mistake.....

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Since you asked...lamb and feta empanadas

Several friends have asked for the recipe for the Lamb and Feta Empanadas I made yesterday.  I'm happy to oblige ;-) Keep in mind I made this one up so the amounts are estimated and you may want to adjust seasonings according to your taste.  Many on line recipes will add additional seasonings so feel free to experiment!  For my allergy friends this recipe is free of Peanut, Tree Nut, egg, soy, and fish.  It does contain Dairy (substitute non dairy cheese) and Wheat (dough).

1 lb Ground Lamb
1/2 Lg Spanish Onion-diced small
1-2 package(s) frozen empanada dough such as Goya (I had left over filling which is why I listed 1-2)
1 package frozen diced potatoes (like the kind used for hash browns.  I boiled and diced my own red skin potatoes which took time-this will make it quicker)
1 garlic clove
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 to 3/4 cup feta cheese crumbles
2 Tbls olive oil
1/2 cup (or more) safflower or similar frying oil

Defrost empanada dough overnight in fridge.  Take them out about 30-40 minutes before using so they are easy to separate.  In a medium size skillet add 1 tbs olive oil and sauté onions until translucent and soft.  add potatoes and cook until just browning and tender (about 5 minutes).  Put onions and potatoes in a bowl and off to the side.  Add lamb to pan and brown until no longer pink. Removed from heat and drain off most of the fat and liquid.  Add cumin, chili powder, salt and black pepper to taste, stir.  Add in  the onions and potatoes.  Mix to evenly distribute.  Toss in Feta (I added enough to mix evenly through without over powering the mix- use your judgement).  Mix gently.  Separate an empanada disc from the pack and add 1 heaping soup spoon of filling to the center of the disc-enough so there is about 1/4 inch of dough left over when you fold it in half.  Fold over and crimp with a fork along the seam.  Turn over and seal the other side.  Continue until all the discs are used or you are out of filling.

In a separate deep sided saute pan, add oil until about 1/4 to 1/2 inch up the side.  Heat oil until just shimmering but do not over heat.  Add empanadas and fry until golden brown on one side, flip and repeat.  If the end of the empanada does not brown properly, just prop it up on it's side until browned (about 30 seconds to 1 minute). Place fried empanadas on paper towel lined plate and allow to cool for several minute before serving.  They go great with a side salad or veggie.

Alternative filling- replace the lamb with beef and the feta with shredded mexican blend cheese.  These were equally delicious and popular with my kids ;-)  Nick at one with JUST cheese.


Filled and ready to fry
Golden brown and delish!