Sunday, December 29, 2013

Don't Let the Door Hit You in the Tush on the Way Out, 2013

I shouldn't be so unkind. 2013 had its moments. The learning to ride a bike moment was a good one. The Nativity pageant was a good one. The Boy Getting Out of the Hospital was a good one. The swim team success was a good one. The trips to Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, New Jersey, the mountains. There were lots of good ones. But my heart just breaks thinking about the losses, so I am trying not to.

Monday: I'm working (I was going to say "boo," but I like my job, and I like that I had off from the Friday before Christmas until Jan. 2 so it's hard to get too wound up), so this will probably be the day we go in town to see the Christmas light shows as a family and then go to dinner. I hope.

Tuesday: My parents always had lobster tail on December 31. I don't think I'll bother. Tacos. Why not?

Wednesday:  Still in flux. This was my father-in-law's birthday and we traditionally hosted a party here. This year, generous cousins (with a bigger house) stepped in and I am grateful. We like hosting but it turns our house upside down to have that many at once. Regardless: crock pot pork roast, and whatever else people bring.

Thursday: Back to work, sort of. My husband is taking off so we can move our son in to the bigger bedroom. Wednesday spaghetti today.

Friday: Leftovers.

So, some of my holiday quests went well. I did a solid job emptying my cabinets. Things are not falling out, and everything is up to date, which is a nice change.

Christmas Eve, I went with my ersatz fishes. I tried this recipe for the salmon, and adored it. I didn't make the sauce (we bought my favorite sauce with the fish) but I will try it next time. This was so easy and delicious.

Christmas morning, we were wiped out. I napped on the couch while the boys played Epic Mickey, and my husband made waffles (with my mom's recipe--so good) and smoothies. It was a joy.

For Christmas, I made:

-pizza dip. Hey, it's red.

-six layer bars (I didn't want to open another bag of white chocolate chips for one half-cup; also I went a little heavy on walnuts and chocolate chips to finish those bags; you know what? still delicious)

-chocolate chip bars. Someone brought these to the 2nd grade party and I was smitten. Run, do not walk, to make these. "Cookie Cake!" my son cried in glee. It was fabulous and much easier than cookies. I'm so happy about this discovery it's embarrassing. They were delicious and almost gone by the end of Christmas night--tragic, almost considering the plethora of Italian cookies made by an aunt. I ate those, though, so in that way, the plan worked brilliantly--distract the kids with the chocolate chip bars and save the thumbprint cookies for me. Yay! (also: in that bar recipe? just butter the pan and the cookies come out. I am the queen of foil because I am very lazy but these don't need it.) Next year I will try to adapt for the cranberry-white chocolate cookies too.

-mini apple-cranberry pies. I used filo dough cups from the freezer section and Trader Joe's pie filling. (I did mention the cleaning off the shelves part, right?) These did not get the love they deserved. I thought they were great.

-Smitten Kitchen gingerbread cake. The 23rd of December was warm but pouring rain. We stayed in pajamas and in the house instead of any of the other ideas we had and I baked. Clearly. It was awesome. Alas, this culminated in a massive flip fail but you know what? That just means you slice it before you go. I am unperturbed. This also did not get the love it deserved. Leftovers work for me.

For the Nth Day of Christmas, I made beef tenderloin with pink peppercorns. It's enough. Oh--and more pizza dip, since all the ingredients come with enough for two (except the cream cheese, but that was on mega-sale).

Finishing off the bake fest (and effort at cabinet emptying), I made the add-in cookies. Difference this time: I refrigerated the dough like I did with the last cookies that went well (before the bars). Big oops: I thought, it's only an hour, and didn't cover it. "An hour" turned in to "four days" so the dough was pretty desiccated and crumbly after four days in the fridge. I baked it off anyway.

So here we are, ending the year and beginning another. The kids got tablets for Christmas, so currently Dad and one boy are watching The Incredibles, another is playing Stack the States, and I am finishing these notes. So here we are, staring in to our individual screens. Tonight, it's cozy, but I am a little uneasy about what it foretells. Here's hoping I'm at least somewhat wrong.

Wishing you a 2014 with all you dream of. Thank you for reading. It's fun to have you visit. See you in the new year!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Ring Noel and Sing

It's time! 

Monday: Jane's crazy chicken, creamed spinach, rice

Tuesday: Christmas Eve > taco Tuesday. Our version of seven fishes: California rolls; oysters on crackers; Trader Joe's bacon-wrapped scallops; lobster bisque; shrimp cocktail; crab cakes; poached salmon. And of course pizza for the boys. 

Wednesday: Christmas. I am taking to potluck dinner: pizza dip (of course), Smitten Kitchen's gingerbread cake; 

Thursday: Taco Thursday. Can't skip it entirely.

Friday: We've delayed our traditional Boxing Day to 12/27 due to work schedules. I am splurging on beef tenderloin with pink peppercorn and something else, maybe.

I'm dreaming of a "sandy claws" last weekend of the year and hoping to sneak down the shore overnight but we'll see--there is plenty to do around here. 

Wishing you a peaceful and happy week, whether you celebrate this set of holidays or not. See you next week with a New Year's plan!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Oh What Fun

Here we are, the last week of school--whee! Are you ready? We are trying to RELAX this week....or at least I am trying to relax in the kitchen. So, my boring week and my crazy week before:

Monday: school spirit night, so easy: nuggets and apples for boys, leftovers for parents.

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: spaghetti

Thursday: total craziness! Two class parties, pageant practice, birthday party (school night parties are ok by me if they are before that throwaway last day before break)...leftovers or freezer food for those of us eating at home.

Friday: let the merriment begin! With a doctor's appointment. Oh well.

Last week turned in to a grand cooking adventure. Wander through with me if you dare...

So, I linked last week to the 7-layer bars, which I went for since that's what I had ingredients for. (And since I don't use butterscotch chips for anything else, I was eager to get a move-on with them.) The recipe was terrific with one exception-there is no way 5 oz of graham cracker crumbs covers a 9x13 pan. So I went with the stick of butter to 1.5 cups ratio and that worked much better. (Edited to add: whoops, no I didn't link. Sorry. It's here.) Other tips: doubling up on aluminum foil to keep the pan clean was awesome. The old-school, non-pull-off lids on the condensed milk work much better; open about 80% of the lid and that allows for a nice, thick ribbon of milk to pour and covers the top more effectively. And the tip to wait as long as possible before cutting was huge. I baked off two (easy, since the tin foil let me lift out batch 1 and just put it aside while I relined and reloaded for batch 2 without a ton of cleanup. I do overlapping parallel sheets instead of the crisscross pattern that leaves the corners exposed and ergo sticky) and let them sit, still in the foil, until the morning, when I cut them pretty easily in to bars of random sizes. The less-well-coated ones were prettier, the others held their shape better.

In a happy coincidence, the day before the cookie swap, there was a snow day! And just one more reason to love my office: they had one too, so I didn't have to try to cram in a work day around the kiddos. Then they went wandering off to play with neighbors, so I got down to business in the kitchen in a big way.

I was still on a bake-off mode, trying very hard to work down the shelves, so back to TBBE's Add-In cookies. I had plenty of white chocolate and cranberries, so we went for that version.

Speaking of TBBE, I also made (sort of) her roasted carrots and quinoa recipe. (Hers via Food + Wine, obviously.)  I had made the taco mix the day before, and finished the paprika (which the younger one remembered, because I didn't think we'd have 5 TBS, and he eyeballed it and said, Sure we will, and sure enough, we did). I figured with 7 other spices, it would still be pretty good. Meanwhile, I rearranged my spice drawer and discovered I am ready for the Great Cumin Shortage of Any Year This Decade. The salad was good, even paprika-free, though I might eliminate or downplay one of the spices (cumin? cayenne?) if I make it again; also, if I make it again, I will stick to my instincts and make the carrots bite sized. Who wants to fight a long carrot in a salad? I also used the Trader Joe's tricolor quinoa I had in the house so I don't know if that makes much of a difference. The only downside: this is a long process. Not hard, but long, and a good one while the kids were out of the house and I had the counter space and head space to myself.

In the spirit of cleaning out the cabinets, I also made chocolate chip pumpkin muffins and coconut chia seed pudding. I was originally inspired by this recipe from Come and Cook with Us!, the blog of friends of a friend. Then I couldn't find it (don't ask) and combined it a bit with this recipe. I used the 2 cups milk to 1/3 cup chia ratio, then used honey and vanilla to finish it off. I put it in two containers with screw-top lids so I could shake to keep them delumped.

Monday, December 9, 2013

So Many Surprises

So, how was your weekend? Ours was a whirlwind. It started with the older one at a sleepover party on Friday, and then a swim meet Saturday morning. We won't do that again. He was so slow, he literally looked like he wasn't moving in the water at all. Not that we care about his times, but you could tell people were worried he was drowning. It was pretty comical for those of us who were confident he wasn't. Then there was his first basketball game, where they were lucky to escape with an 18-18 tie after being up 14-4 at the half.

I have no idea how that happened because we had the 3 and 5 year old cousins at our house for the night, and younger son and I were taking them on a tour of the school. We had a great Cousinfest, with a trip to our downtown with all kinds of holiday fun--scavenger hunts and a ukelele band singing Christmas carols at the coffee shop (no, I am not kidding; it was like stepping in to a lifestyle magazine shoot).

The little ones were supposed to go home at 1pm on Sunday, after Mass and chocolate chip pancakes, while we dropped off our older one at Party #2 of the weekend. That did not happen. The "light dusting of snow starting around 3pm" turned in to "a ton of snow starting at 11 that will make driving treacherous." By 12:15, the birthday boy was calling to say that he couldn't get to his own party due to the car accidents on both sides of the street out of his development. Another friend reported on Facebook that it took her 2.5 hours to go from the cousins' town to ours--usually a 30 minute trip. So--Cousinfest continued! We blew up the mattresses again, called friends frantically for small sized snowsuits and boots, and changed plans. The kids sledded down the hill in front of our house; we got extra Nutcracker tickets from families that suddenly couldn't get to the theater, and took all the kids (minus the oldest) to go see their two cousins dance in the Nutcracker. Even the 3 year old enjoyed it, which was awesome. The dancing cousins were so excited to have their fans--it was very sweet.

Meanwhile...I need a nap and I think blowing up my house is the easy way out of the calamity here. Beach towels are all over the floors, the entire playroom is once again host to wooden train tracks galore, the dog is exhausted, and I am so, so, so grateful for family and cousins and a new heater and a husband who is energized by the snow. Now they are calling for more snow tomorrow. Whatever. Milk and bread are in the house, chili is defrosting for the cold snap this week, the trampled-once-buried-in-the-snow lights are repaired, and we are ready. I hope.

Monday: 7pm appointment means fast dinner. I am making the Armagnac chicken since I am home today from the late opening of school.

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: spaghetti after the younger boy's art show.

Thursday: chili or chicken nuggets after the art show for the older boy.

Friday: family talent show OR NCAA soccer semifinals (Notre Dame is playing, and it's very close to our house--so I suspect that the family talent show will have to wait for next year).

Last week, I finally made the pork roast with cider cream gravy. It was still heavenly but it really is better with the amazing pork roast from the Co-op as opposed to the merely good one from the other butcher. The one from the butcher is absolutely the best for pulled pork recipes, but can be weirdly fatty for a slicing roast. (By which I mean, in a piece of meat that looks fine, there is suddenly gristle--yuck.)

My cookie swap is this week, all of a sudden, so I am in high magic-seven-layer bar production mode. My early start fizzled out when I ran out of aluminum foil. I am too old to scrape the 9x13 pan the amount needed after these without lining it.

Otherwise, merrily we roll along. One son was asked to be in our town's ecumenical every-other-year Christmas pageant--a big deal in these parts. I am excited for him; I remember going to see my friends in it when I was growing up. A baby cousin is Jesus in another church's nativity. I caved and got the Lego Star Wars and K'Nex Angry Birds advent calendars, so there is much rejoicing. (And we also have advent wreaths the boys made at church, plus other religious prep.) I haven't decorated much inside but the outside looks Griswoldian and the live tree sale is this weekend, along with the local Nutcracker performance. And of course, the elves are here. So, ready or not, Christmas and its surprises are all over the place! Wishing you easy, delicious dinners together with ones you love this week.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December Days

This is a strange week coming up; I am out almost every night, mostly for work, which is pretty unusual for me, so lots of cooking ahead and leaving for others to heat and eat.

Monday: cider cream pork roast, rosemary mashed potatoes (can't compete with the "should be a pie filling but we call it a side dish even with the marshmallows on top" dish on Thanksgiving, so I saved it to this week), brussels sprouts

Tuesday: Lego build, and my birthday, so no fast food--we're doing California Pizza Kitchen, whether the kids like it or not.

Wednesday: Spaghetti

Thursday: tacos

Friday: leftovers

This year for Thanksgiving, we brought mashed potatoes (10 lbs--too much), chocolate chip cake, pizza dip, chipped beef dip, bugles, fritos, and of course the carrots. It was a good contribution to a sad celebration. We also made at home a side of Pepperidge Farm stuffing from the blue bag like my mother used to make, and my husband made an amazing turkey breast, just using olive oil, butter, salt, pepper, Montreal seasoning, and an iron skillet instead of a roasting pan. It was awesome. We all loved it, including young Mr. Picky.

As food penance the next day, I made Catherine Newman's lentil soup. I am teasing about that; I love lentil soup and it was part of Operation Cabinet Clean. It was good; not amazing but good. And I, who loves vinaigrette on anything, thought it was ok here but not amazing. The soup, though, was a great, easy recipe and I will keep that in mind for next time I crave lentil soup. We also were hoping  cousins would come over to make the Cranberry Bliss Cookies that they found on Pinterest, but when they got busy, we did them ourselves. (Translation: I did them myself.) I love the cranberry blondies from Two Fat Als (listed on sidebar), but was willing to give these a try. The downside: they were an all-day project. They didn't have to be, but there was the mixing, the chilling, the baking... The good news: I had all day, the new oven had three-at-a-time baking capacity which made it go much faster, the chilling the dough made it much easier to scoop them in to a pretty size, and they were yummy.  The seal-the-deal moment was when I saw they could be frozen with minimal damage. I was on it. The cookie exchange is soon, but not that soon. Then I saw seven layer bars that could be frozen too...bonus! So those will happen as soon as I get more aluminum foil. Final result: I would make these cookies again, but the add-in cookies are just as good, with less work, as are the blondies. Now, the blondies with the frosting from these cookies...that might be spectacular. Hmmm....

Now that Thanksgiving is over and it is less than one month to Christmas, it really is time to start getting ready. We only got out two turkeys this year, so taking down Thanksgiving won't be hard. Rounding up the Christmas spirit, on the other hand, is proving a little more elusive. We'll get there; we have to. We have kids and they need a holiday. So, rally we will. The number of magic holidays is finite and I don't want to miss any.

On that maudlin little note--happy Advent to all, and keep posting your favorites to inspire me, please!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Stop All the Clocks

I had a nice little post started with the title "Can You Feel the Pages Spin?" but then my father in law had a stroke and died unexpectedly last week. It is very hard to focus on food right now but we have to get back to it shortly, the budget can't sustain too much takeout in these pre-Christmas days. Herewith, the pre-written post.

Here we are in "that" time of year have half-days, then the holiday...I am almost ready to go. We traded pumpkins for turkeys in the living room and kicked the first set of leaves to the curb. Deep we go!

Monday: (I know now, it will be funeral leftovers.)

Tuesday: tacos (even this week!)

Wednesday: spaghetti (even this week!) Well...we'll see. It's actually my husband's birthday so I am not sure what happens here.

Thursday: Gobble gobble! Not at our house this year--not sure what we are bringing yet.

Friday: Faux leftovers. We go to my husband's family's for Thanksgiving so I always buy a turkey breast and my favorite kind of stuffing for our house for the next day so there are "leftovers" for us. Of course now that I think about it, that's going to be not very gluten free so I am not sure how that will go this year.

Last week, we (ha, ha! "We." So cute. I. I) made the cider pork in the crockpot. There was too much cinnamon but that was me, not the recipe (I had a pouring mishap). Otherwise, this was great. It was a little off our usual since it was too sweet for cheese, but I made an ersatz cole slaw (part of a bag of shredded cabbage mixed with cider vinegar and mayo sauce) and that went really well with it. This will stay in the rotation. It's not as good as the other one, but it was easier and still delicious.

I also made sausage and tomato sauce in the crockpot, and I am so pathetic, I used a recipe, here, minus the peppers.  I was very afraid of underdone sausage but it was actually overdone. I will try for "just right" next time.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Ordinary Days

It is amazing, to borrow a theme from 4everMom, how sweet the ordinary days are, especially when they've been lost for a bit. What a nice week, with just the usual rhythms, plus some little excitements--a sleepover, a first swim meet, a star for a great trombone lesson. I am so grateful.

Monday: trying again on the slow cooker cider pork for the crockpot. Potatoes roasted with onions and fennel (see fish and veggie recipe below).

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: spaghetti (and the little one's first reconciliation! very exciting); at my husband's request, sausage in the crock pot in sauce to go with. Mmm.

Thursday: leftover pork

Friday: freezer meal or out; though I might revisit this rosemary chicken since I have so much rosemary still

So, earlier this month, we were recipients of so much generosity, I made it my business to make dinners for some friends in need this week. I used this chicken taco soup recipe (sigh, at least other people's family's eat this way). I will save the recipe for the day my kids eat soups. It was a truly less-than-10-minute prep soup, and was all yummy and nourishing-feeling when it was done. It was also very bland (I didn't salt it), so next time I will use our actual taco seasoning, but as long as you season more and use the fixings--this was lovely.

Also, we drank all our cider, so I tried this fish and veggie recipe instead since we had all the veggies involved. I should have doubled the veggies--they were so good and we just picked at them while the rest of the stuff finished. They were great. The tilapia was good too--mine still fell apart but it wasn't stinky and went well with the veggies. The kids of course had chicken nuggets but the older boy tasted one of the potatoes and said, "Hey--this tastes like a French fry!" and went on, "But a REAL French fry--you know, not like McDonald's." (Whose fries I happen to enjoy more than almost anything else there, but I did know what he meant and appreciated both how and that he said it.)

Finally, in the effort to cook down the stuff on my counters, I made this sweet potato bisque from an old O magazine, using up ingredients from I don't know when. This was all part of the kitchen-cleanup-cabinet clean out (from the Organized Christmas aspirational series). In that respect, the soup was a great success (and I still adore my handheld blender--it feels like magic to me still). There was a bit of curry hint to it (probably due to, you know, the hint of curry in it), and the consistency and color were great. If I make it again I will use veggie stock to make it vegan. I think my lentils (ok, I know my red lentils) were past their prime so I can't totally recommend it, but it was easy, fast, and nutritious.

I am reading the Christmas prep blogs like they are about a foreign culture this year. It is hard to get in to the spirit when all I want is normalcy. Last night I woke up in a panic hearing a beeping sound that I thought was the carbon monoxide detector in the basement. I stumbled to the steps to listen and realized it wasn't quite mechanical enough. I went to the bathroom and opened a window just in case only to discover we have a cricket whose song mimics the detector alarm almost perfectly. Not cool, cricket. But another reminder: sometimes the chirps that wake you are just crickets, celebrating one last warm night.

Wishing you a week filled with things that bring you joy!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lost weeks and other randomness

So a bunch of stuff happened. My son was in the hospital for a week and is ok now but I really don't want to talk about it. We had friends step in and feed us grandly with the following, all well received, and documented here for when I need ideas:

-French toast casserole
-sausage-cabbage-potato dish
-quiche and muffins
-pumpkin squares
-pulled barbecue chicken with rolls, cider and cookies
-chicken cutlets, sweet and regular potatoes roasted with rosemary, and cucumber salad

My gratitude is immense.

Since my son missed Halloween, my street was amazing and held Trick or Treat: Take 2, and all the kids dressed up, some trick-or-treated again, others greeted at the door, and then all came to our house for cider and cookies and apples with caramel dip. I used this cider recipe for the crockpot and will use again. I am also going to try making my own cider from this recipe and will let you know how it goes. I have so many apples right now, we are looking for ways to use them.

Speaking of the crockpot...Oh, I was sad about the mongolian beef the other week. It was a dream come true to just grab the bag from the freezer, dump it in the crockpot in the morning, and have the house smell great when I got home from work. ended there. The meat was that weird crockpot texture and it was not as good as I hoped. My husband and I ate it, our older son gamely tried some, and we won't be making that again. Sigh.

Monday: out to dinner. Fundraiser. Woohoo!

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: spaghetti (young master picky was annoyed last week because "lasagna doesn't count")

Thursday: we are up to our ears in cider as well, so trying this cider pork roast in the crockpot. There are still potatoes all over my counter so I will use those with this as well.

Friday: leftovers, I hope.

Another thing for this weekend: my sons were skeeved when they figured out that petroleum jelly was made of--yep, petroleum. So I am hoping to try this homemade non-petroleum jelly with them with an old saucepan since I am afraid the beeswax will ruin it. Since I don't keep super-cute little glass jars around, I'm not sure what I'll use but I'm sure I will find something.

I hope you are having a less disjointed fall wherever you are. I am finding myself glancing to the holiday season and thinking "yeah whatever." I need to pull it together since I have young kids but I'm just a little withdrawn after a tough October.

On a brighter note: I actually won a drawing from my favorite recipe site ever, Dinner: A Love Story! I cannot quite believe it since over 600 people entered but fate smiled and the Thanksgiving book is coming my way. I am very thankful for it and hoping it kick-starts our holiday season.

Wishing you a good week with happy surprises!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Not Paying Attention

Last week was a bit of a lost week for me. I had an impromptu trip to Pittsburgh for the funeral of the father of my freshman roommate. He was a great guy and I was pleased to be able to make the trip for him but especially for his daughter, of course. Then we had a long-planned trip to Connecticut to see my niece and our mentee, so that was fun but also exhausting. So I am ready to have a quiet week at home.

Monday: pork roast with cider cream gravy (on sidebar) -- I cannot WAIT for dinner tomorrow. Mashed potatoes, roasted cauliflower.

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: WedSpag for the family, Smitten Kitchen's Napa cabbage salad with buttermilk for me (ah, CSA, I won't miss you when you're gone) (which is not a reflection on this salad, which I love, but rather the relentless march of veggies my family doesn't consume)

Thursday: pulled pork (already made!) with the in-laws before trick or treating

Friday: Our niece and nephew, ages 3 and 5, will be here so no idea what happens next but it should be fun no matter what!

Have a great week!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

That Was Not A Fast Decade, And Other Thoughts

My oldest turned ten this weekend. TEN! Double digits! I'm so proud and melancholy and satisfied and happy and full of love for him. Someone said to me, "Ten years! That went fast!" and I thought, REALLY? I mean, maybe it did but a lot of those days dragged like the Dickens and so it kinda did feel like a whole decade to me. We got out the book of his baby photos and it really has been a long time since he could take a bath in the sink, and I would wonder at those little hands (well, no, I did that last night while he slept), or he was in a onesie, or his huge smile made my heart sing (well, no, that was today). I used to watch my mother, who was one of the great baby whisperers of all time, and say, "I bet you wish I never grew up." And she would smile a funny smile and say to me, "Oh, no. I do love babies but you get more and more interesting every day and I just find new ways to love you all over again." And I hope my kids understand that this is how I feel about them. I loved them like crazy when they were little, and I know they still are, for as impossibly competent and gangly as they are. But every day, even the ones where I am exhausted or distracted or snappish, every day, I love being their mom and watching them grow.

So with that nostalgia out of the way...I am caked out from the weekend. So this is a clean living kind of week.

Monday: freezer cleanout, and in the parade of life's milestones, the First Communion meeting, so a quickie is necessary. Making the crockpot beef dish I froze ages ago, plus some rice, and hoping it works out.

Tuesday: ah, Taco Tuesday, how I love thee.

Wednesday: Wednesday Spaghetti, but on our own.

Thursday: We didn't finish the turkey shepherd's pie last week, so grownups will have this and kids will probably have chicken nuggets (from Bell and Evans, so it's actual chicken, unlike what they found in that gross study this week) or leftovers of the beef if they like it.

Friday: Fundraiser night so my husband and I are going out...the kids will eat something from the freezer. (I am making the final push to get rid of the behemoth...I keep slipping back in to the habit of popping stuff in there!)

Wishing you a great week!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Oh Fall Where Art Thou?

So after an unusual week (Lego build, Fall Fest, battery dying at a site 22 miles from home), we are settling in to our new normal this week. I know the boys are going to be bummed because it is really going to cut in to playing at home time, but I console myself that the early dark is doing that soon anyway, and this is just preparation for it. But it does make it crucial to have things ready to go for lunches and dinners, so I just spent most of today baking away for the week, so I know for a fact: this is what we're having, for realz. It's in my fridge.

Monday: Rachael Ray turkey shepherd's pie. This was a favorite for a long time but now it's been ages since they had it so the boys might go hungry.

Tuesday: Tacos are in the fridge, ready to go.

Wednesday: Spaghetti.

Thursday: leftovers--shepherd's pie, and also I made Armagnac chicken for Sunday dinner so there are leftovers of that. I finally got smart and something like quintupled the carrots. I love the vegetables in that as much as the chicken, maybe even more.

Friday: Unclear, but probably pizza. It will be after swim practice (which started last week but due to the crazy, we never made it--fortunately the coach was ok with it since the first meet is still far in the future) and it will be the kickoff to my older son's tenth (TENTH!) birthday weekend, so I suspect it will be an all-favorites weekend.

In my kitchen fest (ha ha) today, I also baked off two of the largest sweet potatoes I had ever seen (from the CSA--seriously, the one was about the size of a one-liter bottle of soda) and I will make my favorite miso-sweet potato mash for myself with those. I also have a wilting cabbage from the CSA (and STILL, potatoes aplenty) so I am making the cabbage-white bean dish from 101 Cookbooks; and finally, used the awesome suggestion of the potato gratin, and um, YUM. Also used some of the extra cranberries hanging around with the pears from the CSA to make this pear-cranberry crisp. I am making it for the Mothers & More meeting on Wednesday, though, so I don't know yet how it is. And--finally--I made my sister-in-law's frozen mashed potatoes so those are ready for the holidays.

We are so far relatively unaffected by the government shutdown but not so for our friends. A neighbor works in a federal prosecutorial office (unclear on the details, but we have all cheered as her office has put away several high-profile bad guys), and she's home. Another friend is a labor negotiator, and it strikes me that instead of furloughing him, perhaps they should take him down to DC to work with Congress. Another friend is in foreign service and since is in a language training rotation, is considered non-essential, but that post won't wait. Several friends in DC (of course) are out of work, though the one is a father of a bride-in-a-month, and despite his agitation at not being at work, has delighted his wife by being at home and able to help with the prep. Hoping and praying that sanity and compromise prevail, and soon.

I am completely obsessed with Lorde's Royals. I love her voice, the stripped down sound, the whole thing. Not as thrilled with the video per se but the song itself...I am humming it everywhere.

Busy season here for application prep too so enough blogging for now. Have a great week!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

My Favorite Category of Food

Well, we are in a crazy place--by October everything is up and running, activity-wise, and now what seemed reasonable is looking a little like craziness! The swimming is what is sending me over the edge but we will see how it goes. And really--this week is just sending me over the edge, with lots of odd one-time activities.

Thank goodness--this weekend we were in New York for a bar mitzvah and we were sent home with TONS of leftovers! We'll be eating risotto and mashed potatoes all week. (There was so much more awesomeness to the bar mitzvah than that, but this is my dinner blog!) Hence the title: my favorite food is always leftover party food!

Monday: apple-sausage-potato bake. With mashed potatoes. It's a little potato heavy but mmmm.

Tuesday: Lego build! We will deviate from our usual plan but I can live with that.

Wednesday: spaghetti. Just us, at home, but still--yum.

Thursday: Taco Thursday

Friday: School Fall Fest! This is always a good night. We'll be selling pumpkins all night long but it should be fun.

We will have to see if we can freeze risotto...should be an interesting experiment!

Have a great week!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Back to Reality

So, I'm back. I ended up flying cross-country to be with my family for the funeral and I am glad I did though it was hard hard hard. My uncle was such a vital presence, we all kept expecting him to step back in at any second, but of course that never happened.

So this week, I'm being kind to myself again...

Monday: Leftovers from the one-pot chicken recipe with the potatoes and tomatoes. Verdict: looked better than it was. It was a great use of potatoes (though I used too many) and tomatoes (though I didn't use enough); and the chicken parts with bones tasted much better than the ones without. A worthy experiment but we won't be repeating it.

Tuesday: Need you even ask?

Wednesday: This has been a good innovation of 2013. (Spaghetti night, woo!)

Thursday: I am working so this might be crock pot freezer meal night. Will let you know how that goes.

Friday: We are meeting friends for dinner and I am so excited to be off to a happy occasion!

I will also be making a kale salad; I am linking to this video because I have liked it a lot and I am a slow learner and need to watch her almost every time. And heaven knows I have all these ingredients except for the avocado. Except for the hating-to-touch-my-food issues, this is my favorite way to make kale.

Watching that video makes me think it's time to get back on the green smoothie horse too. I need some detox this week. If I try something new, you know I'll share it here.

Wishing everyone a good last week of September! 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

In the Swim

So, one full week of school and work down, for almost everyone--my older son immediately picked up the cold that was flying around the school so he was out for a day and probably should have been for longer. But all the activities are underway and we are ready to be in a routine.

Alas, that will need to wait as I got the sad news today that my uncle passed away, unexpectedly, in his sleep. He was in his late 70s and so this is really what we all pray for but it is hard to be one of the ones left behind.

This week:

Monday: I never did make the one pot chicken dish, but with still a world class collection of potatoes and tomatoes, we're going for it tonight with a salad and kale chips if I get my act together.

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Wednesday: Wednesday Spaghetti is a close second in my beloved nights.

Thursday: Leftovers or freezer food or pesto quinoa. I am not really in shape to go hunting stuff down to do right now.

Friday: Pizza night. Because I am not knocking myself out this week.

Last week, I finally made the pineapple pork chops. They were a complete no-go for my sons but that just left more for me and my husband, and that made us happy. They were great. I left them in a little longer because my chops were pretty thick, but if you have people in your house who would eat this combo, by all means, try it. Apparently it started life as a chicken recipe, so if you think it sounds intriguing except for that pesky pork part--this could still work for you.

In a pig-filled week, I made this crockpot pork tenderloin. I doubled the recipe and froze half. Again--no-go for the boys but my husband enjoyed it. Thanks to my cousin for posting it on facebook!

Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin

2 pound Pork Tenderloin
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 TBS Yellow Mustard
2-3 TBS maple syrup
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS Diced dried onions
1 1/2 TSP Garlic Salt or Powder
Mix ingredients above. Pour over Tenderloin in the crock pot and cook on low for 6 hours.

And to continue the crockpot theme: I tried the crockpot chicken marbella. Again--my husband loved it but no one else did. (Sensing a theme?) Part of this, I think, is my own inability to really warm up to dark meat chicken. It did not do the boneless breasts justice, but the drumsticks I threw in were gobbled quickly by my husband.

That's about all I can do right now. Wishing you a week ahead with all good news.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Sweet Smells of September

First, thanks for the suggestions on the stink. My title is a bit of a joke as our house is getting better but still has distinct Eau de Dog. We keep thinking we have it on the run, and it returns. The dog goes to the vet tomorrow so we'll see if they have any great ideas. I am afraid it is just Old Dog Stank and the new normal around here. But I am psyched to try the charcoal to see if that helps. This week...

Monday--I'm out, but home for most of the day. I am planning to make the pineapple pork chops that I never got to a few weeks ago. I'll serve with rice and applesauce and peas. (My oldest, and pea-adorer, is sick today with a sore throat and if he's not eating them, making his favorite seems mean.)



Thursday--trying this one-pot chicken dish in hopes of using all the awesome CSA tomatoes coming our way.

Friday--unclear. I have the crock pot mongolian beef in the freezer so I might try that. If we aren't "porked out" from Monday, there is a slow cooker pork tenderloin floating around Facebook that I might try. If it goes well I will post the recipe. On a different note: it is very strange not going to football games every Friday, but it's kind of pleasant, too. We have no local cousins left in high school, and our advisee graduated, and we aren't getting another until next year, so it's kind of a year off.

A few other random notes: lots of salty language here but this post railing against back to school pinteresting made me laugh out loud.

We are overloaded with CSA potatoes. I thought ordering our own instead of taking what we got would work better, but so far--it is not working out quite as well as I hoped. Partially it's the selection. There was exactly one week of cucumbers. There was also only one week of zucchini! There was no corn. And I could continue but I think our CSA time might be over for a while. The tomatoes are good but we are overrun with them, and I like Jerseys better anyway (yes, totally mental but there it is). But anyway: the potatoes. The good thing is, they have them every week, they are delicious, and now I have more than enough to make the make-ahead mashed potatoes for the holiday season. (I can't believe I haven't posted my sister-in-law's freezer mashed potatoes recipe! I will have to get on that for next week.)

Also, I happen to think that Ghiardelli brownies are a pinnacle of the art form, but suddenly it seems like there are brownie links everywhere. So when the weather turns colder, I'm having a brownie-off, with Tipsy Baker's old favorite, new favorite, and the somewhat wincingly-named (but probably accurate) man-catcher brownies from the Washington Post. (The intention here is to add chocolate chips and bake for 55 minutes.) If I'm missing your favorite brownie, please let me know.

Wishing you a good week!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Those Were the Days, My Friend...

...I thought they'd never end. In both good and bad ways. This summer was well-planned--ten years in to this parenting gig, I am getting better. I hit a good balance of structured and un-, and overall was pleased with the time. And here we are at the start of another school year, with a 2nd grader and a 4th grader, celebrating my baby's 8th (EIGHTH!) birthday, and getting the load of school supplies coordinated.

Monday: Labor Day. I am hoping for a cookout at the pool if weather cooperates. Hamburgers, chips, and little picky guy starves but surely he'll find something, even if it's cheeseburger cheese on a hamburger bun. If I am feeling very inspired, I might make a gratin with the parade of potatoes on my countertops, h/t to City Mouse/Country Mouse for the inspiration. I will add, in case anyone else is like me, that a gratin dish is oh so cute but not necessary. I needed to look that up. I am truly pathetic in the kitchen.

Tuesday: first day of school AND work AND Lego build! So glad to have a reprieve tonight.

Wednesday: noodles

Thursday: tacos (we are so flexible around here). Also CSA day, also kids off school day, so an easy one is called for.

Friday: slow cooker chicken marbella (new recipe for me but old favorite; using a can of olives in my efforts at cabinet cleanout)

Then soccer starts and the year is officially underway.

Last week, I never made the mongolian beef. I sneaked off to the beach instead. I have no regrets.

I did make this avocado-mozzarella-tomato salad. I was looking for something more "magic" with some "aha!" ingredient and did not find it. But you know what? I made it with good white wine vinegar and it was excellent.

On another note: this year, while we were away, we left our poor dog home. It was great for her; she got to rest her legs, took long walks with our dog loving neighbor, and generally she was as refreshed as we were. BUT. With one week of Only the Dog in the house--the doggy stank is huge. We have shampooed rugs, washed everything that had dog hair on it (sorry, should edit to read "everything" since "with dog hair" is redundant), groomed the dog, lit candles, you name it. Dog stank still pronounced. Any great tips for eliminating it? I fear the large bowls of vinegar are going to get knocked over, starting a new stank problem, though so far, they are doing the best job. We have also shampooed the carpets, shampooed the dog, bought the "Good Air" thingees from Yankee Candle, Febreezed, and Arm & Hammer Carpet Deodorized. It has gotten better but I don't want to just add layers of scent; I want to remove stank.

Have a great Labor Day holiday and see you next week!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Shifting Seasons Again

How's the weather where you are? The most common crack around here has been "August: The New October." I am loving it, though fearing that it will turn hot again in time for school to start next week. Meanwhile, we are crushing in all the summer fun we can this week. Outdoor playspaces, aquarium visits, a beach trip, a phenomenal visit with the awesome person formerly known as The Best Babysitter Ever (still an impossible bar to clear, but she is so, so much more than a babysitter to us that it no longer fits as a title), our annual visit to the Herr's Factory (and all the snacks that come with it), and efforts to swim heroic numbers of laps. Add in an entire afternoon from my husband shampooing three carpets, a trip to Marshall's for sneakers and backpacks, teacher letters with shopping lists, and we are about ready to go. But September? You're going to have to wait. We have a week of summer left to do.

On the food front, a friend posted a link to this page on her Facebook page--it's the one with four hours of cooking to create forty freezer/crockpot meals for her family. Wow, is that ever speaking my love language. Some of the recipes look like ones that might actually work for our family so expect to see some links in the next few weeks, and if you have experience with any of them, please let me know, good or bad!

Monday: crockpot Mongolian beef, rice, something from the CSA box

Tuesday: tacos, naturally

Wednesday: noodles of some sort

Thursday: this pork recipe with pork I found in the great freezer switch. Have I mentioned my love and gratitude for my new fridge? I can hardly contain myself. Seriously. I am clearly a housewife now that I am enthusing over a fridge but there it is. And scalloped tomatoes from Smitten Kitchen. How did I not make that yet this year?!

Friday: birthday party for a friend's 5 year old. They made it a block party and shut down the street and 80 people are coming. I cannot wait for this.

Have a great Labor Day weekend, all!

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Sweet Spot

So this was another of those bait and switch blog times; two weeks ago, we went to the mountains as a family and had a great week with my in-laws in their mountain home. This year, for the first time in ages, my kids wanted to stay longer, so the three of us did, and then one of my sisters-in-law came up with her two kids, ages 5 and 3, and we all stayed with the grandparents in their cottage in the mountains. I am so, so, so blessed to have married in to this (as they say in this town). It's one of those places where tennis lessons are free, motor boats are banned on the lake, and there is a sweet little two mile hike around the lake for the too-cold-to-swim, too-sunny-to-be-inside days. We are so lucky and I just loved how the kids played together (most of the time) and the ability to send them outside to play. (I have that ability at home too but the older neighbor boys are into some unsavory and decidedly inappropriate for 2nd grader video games so that is not the safe choice it once was.) Up there, there is no TV (in our house, there are those who have it) and no cell reception, so it is really a different way of life. Amazingly, while my kids do miss it (I had to put a passcode on my cellphone to prevent abuse), they have just accepted it and without whining, find other things to do. I will always treasure the times we sat, my kids, their grandparents, and me, and just each read books in the quiet time when my boys were psyched to stay up "late" while the cousins were put to bed. I loved hearing my boys read bedtime stories to their cousins. And I loved watching them try new things (tennis, games at the lake they hadn't tried before).

But enough reminiscing; technically I am not back to work until the day after Labor Day but really--it starts now. This is a busy week and I intend to squish back all the summer I can into it.

Monday: New refrigerator day! Please please please God, let it fit in the space. We will have old cheese, condiments, and frozen fruit for dinner to empty out what is in the freezer and fridge. Ok, semi kidding. We found pesto sausages in the freezer and my husband made pesto with the basil bush while we were gone so we'll do double pesto tonight.

Tuesday: taco Tuesday, right on schedule.

Wednesday: I never got to the shrimp-and-corn thing and I will try to get there tonight, before the first Fall Ball practice (sigh).

Thursday: pork chops I found in the freezer, corn, tomatoes, peaches. Happy August.

Friday: Back to pizza. My kids really are picky about their pizza so we will finally get back to the one they like best.

Wishing you a great wind-down to summer. These last two weeks are crazy but I cannot wait to enjoy every last minute. I am sure you have seen the "sweet spot" post that was all the rage this summer and while I hate to say it out loud--I'm right there with her. And I am trying to soak in the moments.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Summer is the Best of Life

Today's title is courtesy of Son 1, lounging on the sofa after a particularly long morning of video games while his parents slept. But it's hard to argue with him. We have been having an amazing time of it, doing absolutely nothing. Sometimes my type-A-ness comes out as I start looking at the calendar, thinking, Oh, no, we won't have time to do _________! But then I look at whatever we are doing--swimming, hanging with friends, reading Unbored and saying "I just lost the game!"--this, this is what summer is all about. And if I'm two days late with a blog post? No biggie. Summer really is the best of life.

Monday: classic summer. Burgers, corn on the cob, salad.

Tuesday: Duh.

Wednesday: chicken kebobs, corn on the cob, green bean and tomato salad. (I know--not spaghetti?! sacrelige! But Son 2 does not eat burgers so he had his noodles on Monday.)

Thursday: barbecued pork (slow cooker recipe, so a cheat), (say it with me) corn on the cob, watermelon and feta salad.

Friday: Leftovers, augmented by bake-at-home pizza.

To those still in it, enjoy these last weeks of summer. To those who are back to work and school: I'm right behind you so please don't begrudge me these last few days!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Summer Winds

Ah, August. The back to school supplies are already picked over at Target, the pool is starting to close earlier, and a few yellow leaves drifted to the ground from my "sentinel tree," the one I could see from my window of my 10-year summer job at the local swim club. By about year 8 (I am a slow learner) I saw that there was one tree that turned a lovely yellow a little earlier than the others and was the harbinger of the changing of the seasons. Before it starts to show itself as a shock of yellow among the green, it sends down drifts of leaves that would catch my eye back in 1984, and they still do today.

But there is still plenty of summer time left and we are looking to enjoy it. This week will capitalize on some favorite flavors...

Monday: yogurt marinated chicken, tomato and edamame salad with buttermilk dressing, corn-zucchini pie

Tuesday: taco Tuesday

Wednesday: Wednesday Spaghetti

Thursday: Joanne's pork tenderloin (on the grill with any luck), roasted beets, corn on the cob

Friday: An oldie but goodie: shrimp and corn "stir fry" from Glamour magazine, circa 1993. (I am feeling nostalgic at this time of year--I'll let the therapist figure out why.)

Last week, I hit a smoothie snag in my smoothie jag; I tried the Strawberry-Peach Refresher, which sounded great. Maybe my peaches were underripe; maybe bok choy is not my thing; but this was the worst color and least tasty. It was kind of a muddy brown--very unappetizing unless you are making chocolate milk. And I threw in a banana to salvage the sweetness, and even so--this was my least favorite so far by a long shot. I made the cilantro-mango detox one again, which I liked (given how much I love the detox soup--my enjoyment of the savory smoothies should be no surprise). And I enjoyed the coconut water. I don't think I'd buy it if it weren't an ingredient but I am happy to work more of it in my routines. So I went a bit overboard and bought more freezer containers and went nuts making a bunch so I can put the blender away from our already overcrowded counters.

I tried the cantaloupe-grape smoothie, which I loved (but I have always loved melon soups, etc.); I should have let it run a little more to take care of all those grape skins but it was probably my favorite so far. The pina colada one was yummy; I used coconut water instead of just water to boost the coconut flavor but it still has some nerve calling itself a pina colada. But--how bad can pineapple-coconut be? Not very, if you ask me. The coco-ginger zinger was another one that looked disgusting (the cinnamon does it no favors in the looks department) but the zing was there for sure and was a nice summer smoothie. Something about the pear doesn't quite "smoothify" too, so texturewise it was a little odd but I liked it. The "spa skin cleanse" smoothie was fine (and excellent for using up ingredients I had--coconut water--from the other smoothies--and avocado and pineapple and spinach) but I don't think I'll make it again--if I'm blending an avocado, I'm making detox soup. I laughed at the description of the strawberry-banana-blueberry smoothie as "purple"--ours was straight-up brown, no two ways about it. But it was also so similar to the regular smoothie we make on most Sundays, it was an easy drink.

Of course I had the bok choy that inspired the ill-fated smoothie for the crock pot curry chicken, which was a hit, albeit too hot a hit, in 2007 the last time I made it (ahem, this is why I need a better sidebar system). I will stick to bok choy as a side dish rather than a smoothie ingredient, I think. It was still too spicy for me but again, my husband loved it.

I also made the veggie curryfrom the sidebar; it smelled funny while it was cooking and was definitely too watery, but then we had a happy accident and the lid was ajar for an hour and cooked off the liquid. It tasted fine but I made a lot of church meals out of it.

Wishing you a great August, whatever that means in your neck of the woods!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Next Phase of Summer

Oh, the week that always sneaks up on me is here: that first week without camp. I really do have little panic attacks about this because my kids (most kids) do so much better with a schedule and I am not an especially good planner. But I have little things, like the Summer Science program at the library, built in to the days to give us structure. Here's hoping that works.

The crockpot cooking was a big hit last week. I bought a teeny pork roast because last time I made it, we threw some away. This time? I barely had enough for leftovers for the week. And I loved barely having to heat the kitchen. (I did boil potatoes for the double mustard potato salad, and the kids loved the smell of the dressing but hated it on the potatoes. Still--liking the smell of a vinegar-mustard mix=progress.) I also have to remember that all day, the older, less fussy one, was carping, "I wish we were having chicken. I like it better than pork." and then went back for seconds on the pork and said how delicious it was. So while it is not an endearing habit, I need to remember that this is all that the complaining is: a habit. Make what I want.

I also got back in the green smoothie routine. I made my favorite detox soup, and then from the green smoothies page, the mango ginger detox. This was my least favorite so far but I didn't dislike it. That sounds like damning with faint praise, and I suppose I am, but I loved that it used ingredients like celery and parsley, that I almost always have, and if I think of it less as a smoothie and more of a chilled soup, it was fine. And again--my body is just loving the influx of nutrition. It is almost embarrassing what a difference it makes, because I don't think of myself as a particularly unhealthy eater. Too much, maybe, but generally good stuff. But this--this is a totally different order of magnitude of nutrition and the difference it makes is humbling. So, I stick with it and keep blending away. Also: a much bigger hit was the peach-coconut dream smoothie. I added the banana in an effort to clean out the freezer (we had a ton of frozen bananas that have ripened too fast this summer) and this was super sweet. I just took my time with the grapes and my blender got them in to small enough pieces that they still worked with the straw. I chickened out on most of the peach skin, though; that seemed to be a bridge to far.

Also, since the cucumbers are coming in faster than I can use them, I tried Catherine Newman's tzatziki recipe. I shredded my seeded cuke instead of cubing because, ugh--knife work. Not my thing. Since I am trying to cut back on wheat (very hard in the heat of tomato sandwich season--Udi bread is awesome but not quite the same) I skipped the pita and just ate it with a spoon and was happy to do so. Yum.

Since I had the mint for the tzatziki recipe (and let's face it--very few things say "I have a black thumb" like "I cannot get mint to grow and therefore have to buy it in a store"), I made my niece's awesome faux mojito recipe. She noodled around with a bunch of different recipes until she came up with this one. I think she's brilliant and I'm sharing it here.

Fresh mint
Club soda
Simple syrup
Rum (optional)
For each glass:
One-to-two shots rum (one weak, two strong) (I did not use the rum at all.)
One-to-two shots simple syrup 
One half lemon, squeezed
One half lime, squeezed
Add in mint
Fill glass up completely with ice
Pour club soda over mix and stir

Finally, for our neighbor's birthday party, I made the margarita punch that I enjoyed a few months ago at my friend's house. Except for having to chop the ice, I loved it again. Wishing you cold drinks to refresh you this summer!

This week:

Monday: crockpot curry chicken (right back on the horse, only five and a half years later), rice

Tuesday: hooray for tacos

Wednesday: some pasta something, though I may cheat and make pesto quinoa for the kids

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: As ever, depends on the weather and whether my husband is playing soccer, so TBA. He might be geeking out at the SABR convention (it sounds like a James Bond villain but it's really about baseball stats or something) so the boys and I might have a night at the movies with popcorn for dinner or something similar. We'll see. Somehow I feel like I can wing a Friday night in a way that the weeknights do not allow.

Have a great week!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Back to the Green Smoothies, and Other Stuff

What a month! I can't believe it's the last week of camp already. I am psyched to have at least one week where I can mostly just be at home--I have so many projects here! For the other camp weeks, I was preparing for one trip or another--after the midwestern swing, we went to the mountains this weekend for my mother-in-law's 80th birthday celebration--which was great, but I am so glad to just be back.

So once we were back from our big trip, I was back on my green smoothie kick. I will be honest, after only 5 days of green smoothies (all in a desperate effort to use my kale before we left), my innards were Very Cranky to have this nutrition infusion yanked away, which surprised me. Of course we were also traveling in central/western PA, home of the everything fritters and 12 kinds of sausage at every venue, so I wasn't shocked. But it was interesting to experience how fast my system adjusted (in a good way) to all those fruits and veggies and micronutrients coming daily.

When I got back, I switched to spinach; I had used the kale, and thought spinach would be easier to smoothify. And I was right. Where the recipes I made with kale made two smoothies with a little left over, the one with spinach made three, and tasted MUCH more like a regular smoothie. Of course, I also tried the Beginner's Luck smoothie, which was a ton of fruit and a little bit of spinach, so maybe that had something to do with it too. But still--it was a worthy experiment with the kale and I will go back to that again. I might get crazy and try mixing my greens--some kale, some spinach, or, yikes--if I go out on a real limb I might try it with beet greens, which I usually loathe but have a ton of since I love the actual beets. Or not. We'll see.

This week, in addition to green smoothies: I have a ton of beets and a bunch (literally) of carrots to use. The weather is better but still crazy hot. So...

Monday: slow cooker pork roast (pulled pork sandwiches), probably potatoes, and tomato-mozzarella salad

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: spaghetti (really? so hot I can barely process it) and maybe garlic bread with the awesome leftover party rolls

Thursday: leftover pork, possibly roasted carrots and roasted beets, depending on weather

Friday: unclear. Maybe out, but we've been out so much I am tempted to stay in. We will see how the week goes. The extra freezer isn't totally empty yet and I would like to make that happen.

Have a great week! Stay cool and if you have any no-cook ideas--pass 'em along!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Resuming Our Regularly Scheduled Summer

So, last week, I fibbed a bit; we were on a roadtrip to Indiana and Illinois. I had to go for work and decided to make it a family affair. We had a blast, despite my major trepidation before the trip--we have no DVD player, no tablets, no iPods or iPads for the kids. We went old school with books on CD from the library and it was great. We stopped in Carlisle, PA, for dinner with one of my husband's college friends; Pittsburgh for breakfast with my college roommate and a ride on the incline; Cleveland for a baseball game and a stay in Maumee, OH, the surprise hit of the trip; South Bend, IN for work; Chicago, for an amazing three days with friends from college and childhood and my husband's baseball blog (at a Cubs game, naturally); then back through South Bend, Maumee, and Pittsburgh again until we got back home. Three baseball games (Cleveland-Detroit, Cubs-Angels, and Pirates-Mets), two great Chicago museums (Science and Industry and the Children's Museum), an amazing speedboat ride on the lake, two movies (Monsters University and Despicable Me 2)...the only downer at all was the two sprained ankles (mine and my husband's, in the exact same spot, on an unpainted curb--I saw him on the ground, ran to him, hit the same spot, and did the same thing--it was bizarre). But fortunately it was neither of our driving ankles and the kids were enthusiastic travelers so we are excited to do it again sometime.

So this week is a lot like last week; my apologies for the deception.

Monday: catered by Trader Joe's (veggie stir fry for parents, buffalo meatballs for boys)

Tuesday: welcome back to Taco Tuesday!

Wednesday: definitely too hot for spaghetti proper so pasta salad. And the Jersey tomatoes came in while we were away! Wahoo! So we will have basil-tomato-mozzarella salad.

Thursday: gyro chicken, and yummy stuff from the CSA box--yay!

Friday: Pizza at the pool, if things go well!

Wishing you a great week!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Getting in to the Groove

So, here we are in July, chugging along. A bunch of my (much healthier than I am) friends on Facebook were doing the 30-Day Green Smoothie Challenge, so I joined in--what better use for all the stuff from the CSA? (If you don't feel like clicking, it's easy enough: change nothing but add a green smoothie every day.) First up: the kale I never got around to making chips out of. I started with this pineapple-kale-coconut oil smoothie since I had all the ingredients--or thought I did. My husband had used a lot of the frozen pineapple and so I replaced it with mango--that was a bit of a bummer because pineapple is sweeter and for my tastes, I could have used it. The directions were helpful--I have had issues with green smoothies before because the pieces of leaves were still so big. And I felt very virtuous drinking it. But while it says "serves 2"--one would have lasted me all week, though I know they don't taste very good after more than 24 hours so I had a lot on day one and saved the rest for day 2. Next I tried the cilantro-lime-ginger one, which I actually liked a little better. Also? I was using up my kale, which I think has a much stronger flavor than the suggested spinach, so I am sure that had something to do with it too. It did do a lot for my digestion though so I might keep it up for a bit longer and see how it goes.

Last week was veggiepalooza around here. Crack broccoli, orzo broccoli pesto (we had it for July 4--didn't fit with the color scheme but oh well), kale chips, corn on the cob, detox soup...we are clearly in the throes of summer and I at least am loving it. The kids--less so. But someday I hope their palates come around.

Swim team is awesome--the kids are exhausted and starving all the time. This sounds mean but with kids I struggle to feed or get to sleep--it's been a joy. If only they'd drink some green smoothie we'd be in good shape.

This week:

Monday: Catered by Trader Joe's. Buffalo chicken meatballs, mac and cheese, falafel for mom.

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: Spaghetti of some kind (I know I am getting boring; I think I will make bow ties and do butter for the boy but a cold Caprese style pasta salad for grownups with ciglini, cherry tomatoes, and basil.

Thursday: Kids have martial arts so probably out with friends for pizza after.

Friday: Soccer game! Dad will eat there; mom and kids will do something else entertaining, probably involving the swim club, if the daily thunder and lightning does not throw us off.

Wishing you a fabulous week full of summer fun!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sliding in to July

Last week was a lot of first-world ill-fatedness--literally. I caught the stomach bug that the one child had, and while he was up and at'em and ready to go in 36 hours, six days later, I'm still working on equilibrium. Fortunately there was camp, and friends who helped, but I am ready to kiss that goodbye.

And that's really unfair; we had some great successes too. In our town, the entire third grade spends the month of May doing an African dance study. It's awesome. I know, it sounds like one of those, "Oh, Ok, I'll keep an open mind" kind of things but wow--it was amazing. It is still giving me a zillion pangs, reminding me what a kinesthetic learner my older one is, wondering if there is a school in the world where they teach math so he can incorporate it with motion while that young body is still growing and loving the movement. But the cool thing was, they offered a summer family class in African dance at an arts center near us, so we went. All of us. The youngest was very skeptical. The oldest was bummed he was the only boy but still couldn't wait to get started. So we are all learning kakilambe this summer as a family. I am so happy. And so are they. We also went to a diggery doo concert so we felt very multicontinental last week.

Other success: the kids finally got some swim practice in and both enjoyed it enough to want to move up to the actual swim team. This is excellent for several reasons. Daily practice = exhausted kids. Swimming = something they are both good at and that I can support fully.  Both hate competition and the season is half over--they may never get in a meet and we are all totally ok with that! And for this week, when I felt crummy--it kept them busy and safe while I was jogging to the nearest restroom on a regular schedule. I can't wait to see how this goes when everyone is well.

So, on to food. For the ill-fated town picnic (victim of the late afternoon thunderstorms that arrived without fail every afternoon last week), I tried something new with the old favorite corn tomato pie (sidebar) and made Catherine Newman's lemony chive dip, as I think she calls it. We had snap peas and asparagus and so it was an easy use for both. I used lowfat mayo, trying to get rid of it, and next time will try with full-fat because this tasted extra-salty to me (and I went light on salt). But it was quick and easy and light and yummy and a good easy dip, so hurrah.

Since I was backlogged with dill, I used a lot of it to make the corn-zucchini-tomato pie, and still more to make the salmon sauce I love. Note to self: when you make this sauce, just freaking triple it. Triple. I could drink the stuff. That doesn't say much for me, my restraint, or my palate, but there it is.

And since I had the creme fraiche, I made the broccoli pesto while it was in the fridge. I was unable to cook anything last week so I have a lot of room to make up this week.

Monday: salmon (trying again), rice, zucchini-corn-tomato pie leftover if there is any

Tuesday: Lego build! Out to dinner.

Wednesday: African dance taco night. Or broccoli pesto night.

Thursday: Happy 4th! Our block party is SO low key this year. No flyers, just random neighbors saying, Are we doing something? I think someone ordered the street barricades. Or not. Who can tell? I will have to have a burger for burger boy, and I have a lot of plain yogurt so probably the yogurt marinated chicken for the rest of us. We'll see how it goes.

Friday: Whatever we didn't do on Wednesday.

Wishing you a great week full of patriotism and things that make you happy!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Is the start of camp a national holiday?

This week, lots of families we know are packing their kids off to sleep-away camp. My kids have no interest and I am grateful. But I do love the little half-day mini camp so I can shop and go to the dentist and other things they kids hate to do with me. So I am welcoming camp cheerfully and with an empty refrigerator.

Alas, the younger boy has a summer flu, particularly painful because right at this very moment, I should be heading to New York to see Alan Cumming's one man show of Macbeth. And I am not. My husband is. Happy anniversary honey. I am seriously bummed out but I know he'll get more out of it than I would, and I loathe going to New York so he wins. Sigh.

So, here we are.

Sunday: leftovers, noodles for sick boy

Monday: salmon with dill creme fraiche (probably with sour cream but I have all this awesome dill), rice, asparagus (it's our 18th anniversary, and since I am missing our celebration I might as well at least make a celebratory dinner, right?)

Tuesday: taco Tuesday

Wednesday: it's spaghetti Wednesday but it will be pretty hot, so I'm thinking about the Giada orzo salad on the sidebar, or possibly the broccoli pesto orzo.

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: town picnic! I will probably make the corn-tomato pie again as it is usually a hit (and why not?!) and I have all this yummy dill.

And that's the week to come. Hope your week looks however it is you like your summer to be. Have a great week!

Monday, June 17, 2013


Oh, welcome Summer! The boys are off, I am off, and life is taking on a new routine. This week is the calm between the school and the camp, so we're a little bit wandery.

The new CSA is awesome. Not just cut herbs, but plantable herbs! Not just what they grow, but what I want! So this is a nice change though I miss my old site, a lot.

Monday: On the road. We will be coming back from DC. Husband is on his own as this is a mom trip.

Tuesday: Wow, I hope we are at the beach. Weather makes that look unlikely though so taco Tuesday to the rescue.

Wednesday: Lego Build! So out, again. This is shaping up to be a great week.

Thursday: Veggie day. We'll see what we get, and I'll make that and then also chicken nuggets for the kids.

Friday: Neighbor kid's birthday party! The video game truck is coming (did you ever hear of such a brilliant idea?) and all families are invited to join for a grilled dinner. Yes please.

I love this week. Not worth posting really, but when I start to panic that there is nothing in the fridge I will calm myself by reading this to remind myself why. Happy week!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Last Week of School Already?!

One hundred seventy five days down, five to go. My younger son would like to add a smiley face to the title. He can do that on his blog. :)

Last week was the big one--lots of parties, lots of end of year events. This one is a slow crawl to the finish, with our last four regular days of this school year. It was a good one, with a not-too-crazy schedule, some real growth all around for the family, and a good time to end.

Monday: Oh, did I mention the baseball team is still in the playoffs? They are, so this has to be a quick one. Steak, spinach, potatoes.

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday rides again.

Wednesday: Pizza night replaces spaghetti night. Someone who used to be a ref for my husband's soccer league is running for mayor of his new city (and it's one you've heard of). He's having an event in our town, where he grew up, and we're going.

Thursday: Veggie pickup day--woohoo! We are in a new CSA and while I very much miss my former site hostess, this is a better match for our family's eating patterns. So, salad, and either Monday leftovers or freezer cleanout.

Friday: Since the young one is here, he is suggesting spaghetti night replacing pizza night and so he's going to win this one. Spaghetti, meatballs from the freezer, and a big celebration of the end of the year.

Have a good week! See you on the other side of summer.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Better Late Than Never, Right?

Must be the rocket ride to the end of the year here. It's a crazy week--next week actually looks better but this is the End of Everything week. Ok, that sounds a little apocalyptic but really--just a ton of stuff finishing up here.

Monday--swim team tryouts (he made it! but elected the "jv" squad to work on his strokes more--I thought it was a great decision and was very proud that he made the team, tried the practice, and then resisted the temptation to stay in a level that was a little too advanced for him--really an exhilarating mom night, so I can only imagine how he felt). Tacos after practice, and after throwing a ton of fruit at them after school.

Tuesday--"graduation" night for the kids in the language program so a special French-Spanish-Chinese buffet at school. We're bringing lemonade and pico de gallo and chips. It's all I have in me because tomorrow is the third grade carnival and I am having a nervous breakdown about that.

Wednesday--Apres-carnival pasta, and collapsing in a heap.

Thursday--birthday party for the 3 year old cousin

Friday--graduation! Wahoo! I will pick up a pizza and we will eat it at the stadium. So, so excited and so sad at the same time.

That brings us to another fun filled weekend...see you then!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Welcome Sprummer

My kids are a little literal and are not happy that Memorial Day is the kickoff to summer if they still have school and it is still spring. So, they decided to call this "sprummer" and bridge the gap. We had a great weekend away, even though it meant being in our fleeces against the this week we are looking at temps in the 90s--what a see-saw! This week:

Monday--at the ballpark. Went to a new-to-us one, this time in Harrisburg. It was a nice park and a good way to end the weekend.

Tuesday--Taco Tuesday, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Wednesday--88 degrees does not say "pasta" to me but I may not win this one. Still, I'm thinking of making it early in the morning (or on Tuesday) and making a pasta salad for the husband & me and regular (butter and cheese) for the kids--or I should say, "the kid who eats noodles."

Thursday--90 degrees, ball game, and swim team placements. Oy. Early dinner, so something easy but I am not sure what. I have the stuff for the potato-apple-sausage bake but that seems really heavy for a hot day so I may vamp.

Friday--Prom night! Photos of the seniors, then pizza.

Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

More Good Ones

I cannot believe I was a terrible blog-friend last week. I knew I had something to share but couldn't remember what; it was a HUGE thanks to 4everMom for the link to the Dijon-Maple Chicken recipe. I made it with boneless skinless breasts (of course), some ancient Dijon mustard cluttering up my fridge, and the rice wine vinegar I'm working down and it was terrific. I highly, highly recommend it as well, and thank you for the tip! Clearly I'm the last one on the internet to find this recipe but I'm glad she pointed the way. It was not a favorite of the kids but my husband and I loved it and it really hit my happy point of sweet and savory. It's exactly the kind of recipe I need more of: marinade of things I have around the house that only need to be poured on at the last minute and baked. Love that kind of recipe.

Also, I went to a party for my moms' group and the awesome hostess had made Margarita Punch. It was insanely delicious and tequila free. (She had a pitcher with tequila next to it for those who wanted it.) If you like mojitos or margaritas--do not hesitate to make this. Now I need to figure out how to do this one or two glasses at a time.

This week has turned topsy turvy as has a lot of May...I wasn't thinking clearly at the butcher's so we're a little cow heavy this week....

Monday: steak, roasted potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday

Wednesday: spaghetti and meatballs/meatball sandwiches

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: Pizza night.

My apologies to the bovines in the general vicinity.

Hope you are entering the Memorial Day weekend in whatever way makes you happy!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Still Here!

Thanks for all the comments last week! It was great to hear from everyone.

Our cabbage is still growing but I do not foresee a giant like in the photos. Still, a "Kept-Alive" cabbage will do me just fine.

This is the busy week (she said, before the next busy week overtook her)--ok, this is the busy week with the two nights out. So:

Monday: Joanne's Pork Tenderloin (recipe on sidebar), rice, roasted Brussels sprouts

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday

Wednesday: Wednesday Spaghetti

Thursday: sausage-onion-apple bake, and probably pesto quinoa for kids

Friday: school event, woohoo!

Last week we held things together and pretty much followed the plan. It's been nice to have the grill out again and we are trying to use the yard before the mosquitoes are too much to take. I planted basil and rosemary this weekend, and we'll see if I have the heart to get more tomatoes. Now that there's so much sun in our back yard, I might try again.

Wishing you a happy week with not-too-much on your plate!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Deep Breaths

Ok, things are getting a little better around here. I am outing myself as having completely, totally, absolutely fallen down on a big job I really wanted to do well on, but for whatever reason, I just didn't have it in me. I am mystified by this but what's done is done (and what isn't done, isn't done) and I need to just move on. Fortunately it was for neither work nor family, so what's most important is still intact, but it feels crummy.

Meanwhile, at least it's an ending. Work events continue to come along at a blistering pace, as do school events. And the car needs a new timing belt. (Longtime readers with outstanding memories will remember that the timing belt killed my last car, so car repair shops know they can get lots of moolah out of me by telling me it's time for a timing belt.) So it's a strange one this week, but we'll see how it goes...

On the food front, we had a Sonic open near us. I don't quite get it but it was wildly popular.

The May Weeks of Crazy continue...

Monday: Recuperate from big work event on Sunday. Broiled steak. Side of leftover veggies.

Tuesday: No clue. Could be baseball, could be Lego build. Regardless, I will make tacos and we'll see how it goes.

Wednesday: Unsurprisingly, I did not make the avocado sauce last week (though I had the ingredients I realized my husband wouldn't be home before it browned and after I can eat without feeling sick in the night). This week, I'm not even pretending. There was a sale on Rao's and so back to my favorite.

Thursday: A fun day: the first grade Hootenany is in the morning, so I'm working from home and have some time to cook. That doesn't always inspire me but we'll see. However, I do have three chicken breasts ready to go so that might work too.

Friday: No baseball (but wait 'til next week) so I will probably just pick up a pizza again. There are worse eating patterns.

Next week is the last week of the complete crazy with two work events on Monday and Tuesday, both of which are, of course, nights when we have baseball games. Such a bummer--so many nights with none and then two of the last three games are on these totally unmissable nights. But, that's how life goes, and with a job that lets me chaperone the zoo and make the Hootenany and be at the class parties--two baseball games is not a tragedy by any stretch of the imagination.

Wishing you a good week full of things and people you love that don't stress you out!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Deeply Annoying

So, most of my page views are coming from Russia and Belarus these days. I suspect this is not due to a newly blossoming interest in suburban American cooking but instead has to do with the malware issue and I am not sure how to solve it. So I think my summer list this year will involve migrating my blog somewhere. But I don't have the time right now to focus on what that might look like.

Meanwhile, thanks to 4everMom for letting me know Feedly was taking readers straight to my blog, which is apparently no longer giving the scary malware warning. Still, I'm wary and trying to back up all the info here.

So this new pattern is worked pretty well for me so far: big meal on Monday, taco Tuesday, Spaghetti Wednesday, leftover Thursdays, Fridays freezer food or out for pizza.

Speaking of eating out--Freddy's has become a problem. The kids want to eat there every day. This is not possible or advisable. But we are happy to go for it sometimes--it's really good.

That said, I was re-inspired by Michael Pollan on Dr. Oz. One part is here. I had to laugh at his one-pot chicken, which is so much like the Armagnac chicken I made last week, only more complex. We had it on Monday and when on Wednesday, someone decided he hated pasta, we used the leftover chicken to make taco chicken meat and we all ate well.

This week:

Monday: Argh, baseball game. So. I am really hoping we can grill some chicken on Sunday to eat on Monday. And I'm now addicted to the asparagus-mushroom-onion combo in the veggie section at Trader Joe's.

Tuesday: Tacos (I have been buying less meat for the boys, and using black beans for myself--and anyone else who wants them, but it's really just me. I did at some point do the black beans for the crockpot, and it made a ton. I froze them in two-serving bags and then just defrosted and heated, which was easy and cheap, but I have to be honest; I'm not sure it's much cheaper or easier than draining a can and sauteeing in the same spices I use for the meat. So while I am happy to report the experiment was successful, the jury is still out on whether it's going to be repeated.)

Wednesday: Spaghetti. I did not try the avocado sauce last week because I forgot the basil. This week, I'll try again.

Thursday: The problem with leftovers Monday is none for Thursday. So I will have to get inspired. London broil is on sale, so maybe that with the leftover potatoes from the bag for the Armagnac chicken last week.

Friday: baseball, so freezer meal tonight. Much as I would love to just get a pizza, young Mr. Picky is again getting fussy about what parts of a pizza he will eat and I have no patience for it because he turns around and gorges on pretzels. So probably TJ's mac and cheese for him (at least there is protein) and either the multigrain "stir fry" or mushroom truffle flatbread for his brother.

And that's about all I can take for the week. I am stressed out beyond my max (not to end on a downer) with a major work event on Sunday, and other big events pretty much for two weeks straight. I am going to need to bow out of some of them because I am very much over my personal limit here of what I can do. Wishing you a week of good food and good times with family!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Spring is Springing All Around

I'm so grateful to those of you who are reading past the malware messages. Thank you.

This is a nice, ordinary week, I hope. A little baseball, a little track (both boys ran a mile in practice last week! They are so proud of themselves, and rightly so), maybe book group if I'm lucky. Wishing you and your loved ones the same.

Monday: Armagnac chicken

Tuesday: taco Tuesday

Wednesday: Wednesday Spaghetti. I am trying the avocado spaghetti from pinterest, but I know that would be of no interest to the boys in the house so we'll see how that goes.

Thursday: Dining Out for Life--a fundraiser night where local restaurants give 33% of your tab to AIDS charities. Our favorite pizza place is on the list so we'll do our usual Friday pizza on Thursday.

Friday: Leftovers. I know, unexciting but sometimes that's how it goes.

Hopefully we'll get a little more springlike weather next week and can grill some of the things still hanging out in the freezer this weekend.

Have a great week!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Deceptive Calm

Oh, Spring, you tease.

Last week brought us 86 degrees--awesome in June, a little less so in April. Then the flu moved in--one boy (small) and one husband (no modifier needed). Add to that the closing of one little league field and the shifting of the schedule and we may just have a "catch our breath" week here on our hands.

Fun development of the (otherwise dominated by state testing) school week: our school is participating in the Bonnie Cabbage Giveaway, so my 3rd grader is growing a cabbage. They are special "oversize" cabbages so we'll see how it goes!

Also: new find for us: Freddy's Steakburgers. Opened in an old Arby's, it's a great little hamburger and custard place. Food is good, prices reasonable, and the kids are hooked. And to be honest, so is mom.


Monday: Sick dad=lazy dinner. He gets soup, kids get quinoa pesto, mom gets leftovers.

Tuesday: Happy Taco Tuesday to me....

Wednesday: Wednesday Spaghetti, my next-favorite day of the week.

Thursday: Freezer cleanout. I have some Trader Joe's stuff to use up and some other randomness.

Friday: Night out, and not pizza! It's a celebration at my alma mater, and the kids' school night at the Phillies, so it'll be fun and busy.

Have a great week! Sorry for the complete lack of inspirational eating but I really just needed a plan for my sanity!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Springing All Around

Yay! It's spring! So, what's that low moaning sound? Why, it's me, grumpymom, annoyed at the baseball schedule. I'll live. And I'm spoiled. But I am annoyed that I never remember to just jot a note: Can my child PLEASE be on the same team as at least just ONE OTHER CHILD from our town? Please? Because sometimes I need to carpool and even from the town next door it's 20-30 extra minutes in some other busy family's life if I can't make it to the start of a game. 

And then I feel so guilty because I watch the Sandy Hook parents try to keep the rest of our kids safe and the wave of shame is too much to bear.

Anyway. On that cheery note, we plan our week.

Sunday: Grillin'. Big sale at the Co-op means yummy meat for all. Grilling steaks, and I have brussels sprouts, asparagus, and maybe some potatoes? I'll have to check.

Monday: Soccer tryouts, though in a fit of irony, neither of my kids has the slightest hint of interest. Ok then. I am trying to stay all neutral about it in case they change their minds, but my inner mommy is doing a happy dance of joy to escape that logistical nightmare next fall. (Irony, of course, because their dad runs the intramural/peewee soccer leagues in town. And like the cobbler's kids with no shoes...the boys grew up with a dad too tired from playing soccer with all the other kids in town to go play with them Saturday afternoons so they grew up with no great love and some slight resentment of the game. Ah well.) But, since Dad needs to be at the tryouts, something quick and easy, and in this case, that's pulled pork sandwiches from the crockpot at my husband's request. I'm happy to grant it. Might also do kale chips and roasted cauliflower from my pinterest board. To be positive: I really helped out the compost pile last week. Less positive: that's some expensive dirt I got going there. So I'm trying to be better about using the veggies I have.

Tuesday: I love my taco Tuesdays. Really I do.

Wednesday: Wednesday Spaghetti is really gaining in popularity in my book too. Wednesday is also "Eat Your Vegetables" night at my moms' group with the idea being: how do you sneak veggies in to your kids' diets? I don't do much sneaking but will probably make quinoa pesto for the buffet of sneaky veggies. That or the Trader Joe's "stir fry" (multi-grain with veggies frozen concoction)--both good.

Thursday: Leftovers. I can tell you now, it'll be pork for the parents, taco for older boy, and spaghetti for younger boy. Call me Kreskin (if you're old like me).

Friday: The pizza was a big hit last week so we might repeat. But it's also "fun and fitness" night at school and I'm not sure how slamming down pepperoni pizza fits in to that theme. So we'll see. 

So, that's the week I hope will be. The state testing is this week and my oldest (who is taking it for the first time this year) is freaking out. Here's hoping that calms down after Monday. Wishing you a peaceful, successful, freakout-free week!