ever since this recipe first showed up in food & wine over a year ago, it's been on heavy rotation in our house. the first couple times we enjoyed it as is - sweet & sour pork lettuce cups, the mixture rolled in butter lettuce - and we quickly learned that although delicious, it simply wasn't enough food to sustain all of us. so i started making variations - first lettuce cups topped with rice and then this, our favorite - sweet & sour pork with rice on top of baby spinach.
the top layer sliding ever so slightly, this is a total mom cake. i'm pretty sure the first time i celebrated my birthday with a store bought cake was when i turned 19. it was the first year i spent my birthday away from my mother and her homemade cakes. my mom recently reminded me how much my sister and i begged for a store bought cake as kids - which while i don't remember this specifically, i'm not all that surprised that it happened - and then thanked her as adults for always making our cakes. to this day, my mom's layer cakes never look the best - always a little lopsided, one layer sliding off another - but no bakery cake can compare to the flavor of a homemade cake.
last summer, virtually every friday, i would pack up dinner for the then three of us and winn, roo, and i would visit a local playground for the afternoon. jason would meet us after he got out of work around 5:30. we'd play for a bit more and when we finally decided we're hungry, spread out our picnic dinner. we spent the summer visiting a dozen or so playgrounds, getting to know our favorites and a few we won't be visiting again, and finding dinners suitable for adults and toddlers that are also easily packable, delicious, and not repetitive. it was a challenge. so this summer, i'm going to track those dinners, along with their toddler and preschool friendly versions, since i know from experience the challenge it can be to find a picnic meal to satisfy young ones and adults.
Labels: dinner in 30 or less