Between the three boys’ birthdays, holidays, and my general love of entertaining, we host a good number of parties each year. So, it’s no surprise that we make regular trips to our local Party City. The curious thing is that visits to Party City have become high on the boys’ lists of favorite things to do. They ask for trips to Party City as rewards for good behavior.
Musings about trips to Party City have even showed up in the boys’ school work. I’ve collected all varieties of art involving their favorite party supply store. Liam even listed it as his favorite place to visit in his kindergarten "All About Me" book. And on last year’s Mother’s Day card, where every child in Liam’s class listed a reason they love their mother; things like, "She gives the best hugs," and "She kisses all my boo-boos," and "Her smile is brighter than the sun"; Liam’s contribution was, "She takes me to Party City." Clearly, I win the Mother-Of-The-Year Award.
It’s like this mystical, magical land of party supplies and costumes. It’s pure fun, brightly displayed in a warehouse setting, with golden oldies playing in the background. There’s a wall covered in balloons, buckets full of candy and toys, and a whole rack of wacky sunglasses. What kid wouldn’t love Party City? But my boys take their love further than most.
So, I shouldn’t have been surprised about what happened as we were walking past Party City on a recent excursion for boots. We’d exited Famous Footwear, with James in his stroller and the boys in tow. As we neared Party City, the energy become palpable. James’ Elmo-radar activated at the sight of a 9-foot tall cardboard Elmo in the window. He began manically chanting "Elmo, Elmo, Elmo" as the boys bounced ahead of us. Liam and Lucas were buzzing on pure adrenaline by this point. As we began to make our pass, the automatic doors to Party City opened, as if by command of the boys’ enthusiasm. "Keep moving," I instructed. "Keep moving."
But they didn’t keep moving. They just stood there; the two boys, side by side in the open doorways of their beloved Party City, as the cold winter weather rushed into the warm dreamland of party supplies. And then, in eerily perfect unison, they shouted into the bellows of the party warehouse, "WE LOVE YOU, PARTY CITY!! WE LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!"
What I would give to see the security footage of that moment!
Like many others, I’ve been watching what I eat in the new year. As such, I’ve been dining on more salads than sandwiches and more scrambled egg whites than pancakes. But I need bold, satisfying flavors in my salads to keep me interested and keep me on track with my goals. Tender, slow-roasted beets which are infused with the sweet and spicy flavors of honey and chipotle have been providing exactly the sort of intense flavor I desire in a salad. Combine them with a bit of crisp and salty applewood-smoked bacon and a few crumbles of goat cheese, on top of a big pile of mixed greens tossed in a white balsamic vinaigrette and you’ve got a salad I would crave no matter what my fitness goals!
Focus on technique – uses for beet greens
Don’t let those gorgeous beet greens go to waste! They are delicious and good for you too! Use them in the same way you might use spinach, kale, or collard greens. Add them to salads, soups, sandwiches, or smoothies. Sauté them with a bit of olive oil and garlic or bake them up like crispy kale chips.
Sweet and spicy honey chipotle infused beets
5-6 medium-sized beets
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup honey
2 chipotle peppers (from a can of chipotle in adobo), very finely diced or pureed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut the top and bottom off of each beet. Rinse the beets, them securely wrap them in a piece of aluminum foil. Place the foil packet into a baking dish, then bake for about 90 minutes, until the tip of a knife inserts easily.
Allow the beets to cool at room temperature. When cool enough to handle, use your fingers to slip the skins from the beets. (This will work best when they’re still slightly warm.) Alternately, you can use a knife to remove the skin.
Cut the beets into fourths or eighths. Place them in a bowl. In a separate container, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, honey, and chipotle, until well blended. Pour the mixture over the beets, so that they are covered by the marinade. Refrigerate for a few hours.
Serve your roasted, flavor-infused beets as part of a salad.
Toss mixed greens (throw in the beet greens too) in a white balsamic vinaigrette (like the one used here). Top the greens with the beets, crumbled bacon, and a few crumbles of goat cheese. Vegetarians can substitute a small handful of pistachios for the bacon for equally delicious salty flavor and crunch.