Wednesday, October 22, 2014

This and That

For the first time in the seven months since he's been working from home, my husband and I had an actual lunch date at a restaurant! We both had work appointments in the same neighborhood and a miraculous break in the middle. We went to Honeygrow, and it was good. I didn't love love love it but I liked it a lot and would definitely go back to try more. I had a lemon-tahini stir fry but the salads looked amazing too.

I tried this recipe for pork chops with apples and onions and it was good. I used boneless of course, and it does take forever, but we enjoyed it anyway. "We" is of course the grownups in the house.

I am in a little bit of a panic--Two Fat Als, one of my go-to websites when the boys were small, suddenly popped up with a spammish ad. I freaked out, worrying that I wouldn't be able to find my favorite recipes of theirs. They are still available but I am still more than a little concerned about how something from the spam site ( moved in to my Blogger feed if they didn't disconnect it.

This is the recipe for the amazing cookies:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 - 10 oz. bag toffee candy bits
1 cup oatmeal
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 1/3 cups sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the first mixture. Mix the almonds, coconut, toffee bits and oatmeal together in a large bowl, then mix them by hand into the dough. Drop dough balls (about 2 tbsp per ball, about 2 inches apart) onto a greased cookie sheet (or one lined with parchment paper). Bake for about 10 minutes, let cool, and serve.

Note to E: We found your favorite heath bits at the Fresh Grocer at 40th and Walnut!

And this is for the cranberry blondies:

My mom sent me this recipe yesterday, and it reminded me so much of Starbucks' cranberry bliss bars that they required immediate baking. The Starbucks bars were my favorite cranberry dessert bars until 20 minutes ago, when they were eclipsed by cranberry and white chocolate blondies. Lara describes the bars as festive, rich and scrumptious. Good adjectives. They tasted ridiculously good.

So here's how the baking went: we made one batch, thought it looked like not enough batter, and decided to double it. Except we only increased the size of the pan by a little, and had to bake it for a lot longer. So we can't say if the baking time is correct, but if you double it, add about 20 minutes to the original time. Bakes easy, goes down easier. Easiest with milk.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup fresh cranberries, coarsely topped

Line a 7x11 or 9x9 baking pan with tin foil, and spray with non-stick oil. Preheat to 350. Beat the butter and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla and continue mixing. Mix in baking powder, baking soda, salt and flour. Beat in dried cranberries and white chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the pan. Sprinkle with the fresh cranberries, and press down with a spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until knife comes out clean.

Please know: I am not at all trying to plagiarize, I am happy to give credit where credit is due, and all credit goes to Two Fat Als. But these two desserts in particular are huge family favorites and I will cry if I lose them. So here there are to be preserved from whatever spammity thing is happening over there.

Still on Hiatus, but This

How Cooking for Others Can Be Selfish. From the indispensable Tipsy Baker.
I'm not quite there--my kids are too little, I can't be--but in Taco Tuesday and Wednesday Spaghetti, I can hear myself whispering Yes. My job is to fill those bellies with the most nutritious food we can both stand. Yes, I am grateful not to be my mother, coming up with a different impressive meat-starch-veggie meal every night and avoiding what my father had for lunch that day (a good trick, when they both worked in different places, though to his point, usually she was fine if she avoided ham and cheese hoagies for dinner). And Yes--I'm done. I want this to be at least a little interesting and am failing even at that. So barring interesting--allowing them to thrive despite themselves.
Back to making more pumpkin muffins.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


No, the blog isn't going anywhere, and neither am I. But I wanted to put a placeholder post here since I am doing more and more of my meal planning on the back of an envelope and less and less online.

This blog will stay here for the links on the side and my recipe notes, and if I get back in to the spirit of the thing, for posts when I think of it. To my eleven readers: it's been fun cooking with you, and I hope I stay in your feedly or whatever for the times I return.

Meanwhile, I wish you happy meals with your families and thank you for your inspirations for mine.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Summer Recap into Fall

We are off and running in to our final year with two in the same school. I will miss these days! But I am thrilled I won't have to miss them yet. And a fun new twist this year: they are old enough to bike to school! (School's rules, not ours.) They have really enjoyed doing that and we love that they get the exercise and fun time with friends. We still go with them because of traffic; sadly we trust our kids more than the grownups on the route. But I think later in the year, once we get them across the one major dangerous intersection, they will be able to take it themselves the rest of the way.

Because of the home renovations earlier this year, we did not get to go anywhere or do anything extravagant this summer but it was a great one nonetheless. The kids' camp moved to the school building a block from our house and the kids loved walking and biking to camp for all five weeks. Then after a week off, it was two weeks in the mountains--a little long for my homebody but how lucky we were to have the time with Grandmother and cousins! Then the last two weeks had lots of pool time and day worked out well. Summer 2014 in a list:

Summer 2014 

Make milkshakes at home
Explore college woods
Oreo soak in half and half lay on wax paper freeze 1hour for mini ice cream sandwich 
Franklin Institute
$1 movies
1000 lap tshirts
Write to C
Write to E
Camden Aquarium pref with friends
Beach beach beach
Try Joe's pizza

Not on list but did it anyway

Bobby's Burger Palace
Ice bucket challenge
Lots of books (for 3 of us at least)
scientific study subjects (earned $40 each!)

Did not do:

go see Philadelphia Freedoms play
Hardy boys
Make a video game
Dog elevator

Added in August: did not do but move to next year/days off:


This week: we met our new academic advisee; he is 13!!! I cannot imagine being brave enough to send my child away at age 13 though of course I know it has been done for years. Snuggling up my boys a little tighter and welcoming this one even more warmly.

Today: picnic for the new students. I am bringing the Giada orzo and Greek dip.

Monday: pulled pork sandwiches, mashed potatoes, green beans

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: Spaghetti

Thursday: pulled pork (might make it bbq), sweet potatoes, cucumber salad

Friday: We will see but I am leaning to the sausage bake.

This was the week the freezer finally left. I miss it but only a little. I am working hard on clearing out the decently sized freezer we have in the kitchen to make it more...realistic. Some of the things in there--pie crusts, mixes for drinks no one in our house consumes--are a waste for us. We can do better. But right now, it's time to enjoy the gorgeous day. Wishing you a great week!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Every New Beginning

Happy September! And happy 9th birthday to my little guy! I am so happy for him that he has this one last day of summer on his birthday, but so begins the rocket ride of a school year.

Monday: Olive Garden (birthday choice)

Tuesday: Lego build after the first day of school--woo! So we will eat in the mall.

Wednesday: spaghetti, of course

Thursday: tacos

Friday: leftovers, I hope, for the picnic at the kids' school to celebrate the new playground equipment

This is the last year (for a bit) that I get to talk about the kids' school! They are starting 3rd and 5th grades, so starting next year, they are apart again. I dread this more than they do, though maybe it will be a good thing? Once they get through this year, they will be apart four of the next five school years. Then I get a last two years of high school. Yikes.

Have a great start to September!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Coming in to the Finish Line

Ah, August. Can you ever end too soon? Or too quickly?

We were in the mountains for two weeks, but I pretty much stuck to the meal plan, only with a ton more peaches. I have had the overnight oatmeal with a variety of dried and fresh fruits (fresh: mostly peaches. And blueberries! But really peaches). And we are now just fitting in the last of the realistic summer goals, treading water until my paychecks begin again (thank you Lord, and not a moment too soon).

The other recipes I tried lately were Smitten Kitchen irresistables: her easy dill pickles, and the farro tomato one-pot meal. Both were, predictably, delicious. The pickles were crazy easy and good--I think I chopped five of the Trader Joe's Persian cucumbers and ate two right off the bat. Prep time was minimal and since I used the ziplock bag trick, even though I wasn't around to shake them, they all settled in and brined nicely. Nom nom nom nom.  The other was totally worth buying the farro for. Trader Joe's sells it in neat little bags, though there is way more than a cup in there. Also I over salted but for me--that is not a problem. It was fabulous and a great way to use up some CSA tomatoes of a variety that I'd have a hard time using otherwise.

We lucked into a friend's CSA this week, which you will see a little bit of reflected this week...

This week:

Sunday: Armagnac chicken (with Old Grand Dad--why I even have OGD in the house, I do not know) augmented with Crazy Jane's, scalloped tomatoes (heaven in a dish), and green beans.

Monday: out with friends--I think to an actual restaurant, otherwise I will bring Greek dip and ... something.

Tuesday: tacos, or ALS fundraiser at Chik-Fil-A

Wednesday: spaghetti (I have been making sausage sauce with Trader Joe's chicken sausages for my husband, who is very happy about that)

Thursday: tacos probably, but there is also an open house that will probably have food. Either way--I will be taco ready.

Friday: believe it or not, I have book group this night. I can't wait. No idea what the boys will eat. Hopefully leftover chicken.

And there it is--the Labor Day weekend approaches. We are just about ready for the school year to begin, though I am sad to see this summer go. There were lots of sleepovers, home and away, lots of goals met (I will go over the list next week), and lots of books read. So--here's to the last week! Wishign you a good one.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Time is...fleeting....

Sing it with me: madness....takes its toll.

No time warp here but I just cannot believe that we are in the final throes of August. In some ways: I am totally 100% grateful because entertaining the boys without just throwing the Kindles at them is wiping me out. On the other hand--I love love love being with them. And I am soaking in these days for the ones when we are scattered to school and jobs and I am grateful I have this time.

So another week of uninspired but super-easy meals on tap:

Monday: Joanne's pork tenderloin, veggies

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: spaghetti

Thursday: grilling. Probably a London Broil (found one in the freezer) and maybe I'll make potatoes to go with it.

Friday: leftovers. I will be sure to grill enough to have some!

Keeping it short because there's not much to tell. It's summer, is all. Reading, swimming, trying to keep the dog cool...Enjoy your week!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Augusta Wind

You know that old joke, If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? One version is (of course) Pilgrims, but my friend had her own schtick: May flowers bring June bugs! And June bugs bring Julilacs. And Julilacs bring Augusta wind. Which is to say--happy August!

I know it is time for the month to change because my boys are starting to have school anxiety again, worrying about who will be in their classes and other school related issues. Summer projects are perking along--one of my favorite moments of the summer (year!) was when my older son got his 1000 lap t-shirt. What an accomplishment! He is the first in the family to do it and I couldn't be prouder.

On a far more mundane note, I have been trying to crunch my way through some recipes. I have been looking to recreate the sour cream cucumber salad my mother used to make, and this recipe came pretty close. Naturally my mother's recipe would have had a ton more of the dressing (and none of the low-fat stuff), so I adjusted a bit but overall I did like it very much. The kids would not touch it, which takes away part of the joy of the cucumber (the one veggie Mr. Picky will eat, though under duress). But I liked making it and my dill in the hanging basket is going crazy (my husband's great idea to save the herbs from slugs; verdict--awesome for dill, less so [mysteriously] for basil) so it was good to trim that back a bit.

Anyway. This week:

Monday: Crazy Jane's chicken, summer veggies (whatever looks good!)

Tuesday: taco Tuesday (we do not interrupt this for summer veggies)

Wednesday: spaghetti (Young Mr. Picky still eats with butter and cheese but my husband has been whipping up awesome fresh tomato sauces for the grownups...yum)

Thursday: leftovers (chicken, etc.) I want to make a quiche for the mister and me but I know it will not be popular with the under-five-foot crowd.

Friday: maybe out, maybe a freezer meal--I just found some pulled pork, yum!

Tap dancing (not really, but hey! there's an idea) as fast as I can to keep the boys entertained. Last week was library camp and Apple camp...this week...all activities appear to cease. This is giving me agita so keep us in your happy thoughts. Happy week!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Summer Transitions

Oh, the melancholy end of camp. The kids had a great year, and especially in the traditional (non-sports) camp, they really let out all the stops for the last week (Carnival Day! Pony rides! Tattoos! Science show with explosions!). Alas, it just makes life at home look Even More Boring by comparison. But I'm working on it.

And this weekend was not boring--it was feverish. Instead of competing in the A-champs, my little guy was battling a fever that peaked at 104.1. I hate those. Fortunately he seems to be just about over it but it was loathsome while it stayed.

So, this week:

Sunday: grillin'. And corn because summer.

Monday: farmer's chicken (didn't get to it last week)

Tuesday: taco Tuesday

Wednesday: Wednesday spaghetti

Thursday: leftovers, I hope, freezer meal if not

Friday: out!

Have a great week!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Just When You Think You Have No Readers

Of course I invited people to come check out my blog. And the tone of my last title was all wrong, though the sentiment was one I meant in a straight-up way. And yet people find themselves here via the Hansel-and-Gretl breadcrumbs of the internet: links from friends' blogs, or my thanks on Smitten Kitchen from 2008. Strange, how you know the internet lives forever and yet it startles me that something I wrote 6 years ago resonates enough with someone today to click over and see how I'm doing.

The answer is: I am still learning. I am still not an intuitive cook. My sense of kitchen adventure is dragged down by fussy eating kids (well, one fussy eater and another who, if Fussy likes it, will declare immediately that he doesn't, and we have always been at war with Oceana, thereby preventing one-meal-fits-all meals in the house) and a part-time job.

I am still weak at figuring out the timing of having all meal elements ready at once. I am still baffled how my cabinets and refrigerator end up with the random assortment that ends up there, and unlike my husband, who can suddenly whip random ingredients into something delicious, I buy more random ingredients to make it work.

But I have had some successes. There are things I enjoy making and my kids haven't starved. Even if more weeks than not have a lot of repeated favorites, I am ok with that. The good ones (for the most part) make it to the sidebar; the less-successful are kept here so I can go back to remind myself what did and didn't work.

So, thanks for visiting. You are welcome anytime, and questions are always welcomed as well. I am glad you are here, whoever you are, as long as you come in peace and bring no malware.

Monday: Leftover Chinese, salmon, and shrimp (not all together but we all ate well)

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday

Wednesday: Wednesday Spaghetti

Thursday: farmer's chicken, maybe corn on the cob

Friday: just me & Mr. Picky, so I have no idea what we'll do. If I am lazy I will make him more pasta and he will be over the moon with joy. If not, I will try to figure something else out. (In some ways, he is very easy; he adores the Crazy Jane's chicken and will cheerfully eat it night after night, complimenting me on how delicious it is. Nothing too wrong with that.)

Wishing you a good week. This is our last week of camp and the second half of summer is staring me down and making me a bit crazy but I am lucky to have these as my worries and I know it!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Having No Readers Is Freeing

Ah, the end of the age of amateur blogs. It was fun to be here while the form morphed and I enjoyed it. I'm not stopping what I'm doing--it absolutely serves the purpose I meant it to serve. But it is strange watching my Feedly depopulate.

For anyone stopping by, we had a really calm week here last week, at least by summer standards. A swim meet here and there, lots of pool time otherwise, fun camp days for the boys, and a shockingly closely followed meal plan. One note: I will not be making those banana-oat bars again; they attracted fruit flies like crazy and they drive me...well, bananas.

Meanwhile, I, for one, welcome back the polar vortex with open arms. We are not in the worst of it but it has already depressed the humidity so even the 90 degree heat didn't feel so bad. Winning.

This week:

Monday: Armagnac chicken (because I have all the veggies for it)

Tuesday: taco Tuesday (now with *soft* tacos! oooh. I am pleased b/c they are cheaper and more versatile, though just as nutritionally bankrupt)

Wednesday: Wednesday spaghetti, of course (another swim meet too so it will be early)

Thursday: leftovers, with any luck

Friday: the Independence Eve race in our town was weather-delayed to this night, so we will have a cookout at home and cheer on the runners as they come down our street.

Wishing you a great week, and a fun time watching swim meets, the World Cup, the Tour de France, World Championship Lacrosse, or whatever else strikes your fancy this week!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

New New Favorites

So this week, just a bit too late for my blueberries, I came across the recipe for blueberry almond refrigerator oatmeal. I made it with the almond milk I had for the other new favorite summer breakfast (pb & banana smoothie) and I loved it. So did my husband. It was perfect after a sticky dog walk in the morning. I kept making it all week. I added strawberries (ok), bananas (yum), coconut (which I think improves all it touches), and eventually--more blueberries. It was great.

This July 4, I had crazy grand food plans and in the end, it was such a strange day, most of it didn't happen. On July 3, some freak little storm cell hit the north end of town, taking down at least 5 huge, old, gorgeous trees, while on the other side of town, it barely drizzled. Because of that and a prediction of showers all day, the town cancelled the July 4 festivities. By noon, though, there was no rain falling, and so people paraded anyway, with no judges or trophies, and the fire company gave rides from the cabs of the fire trucks instead of on top. It was very low key and super fun. Since our usual water fight wasn't happening, we went to the horseshoes tournament and the one boy joined in with his friend and the other went exploring the creek with a bunch of other kids. Then one biked to a friend's house, but got waylaid playing ball tag with another group of buddies; then they biked to the pool to rendezvous with my husband and other son to play the games there. It was awesome, start to finish, and the strange weather--breezy and 74 degrees! it felt like Maine--just added to the small town magic of the day.

But...that meant I wasn't hiding in my house cooking. I heated the strawberry rhubarb crumble...and forgot to take it to the party. In the end, the only two things from my list of (whoops) 12 were the Greek dip from Clover Lane, which was spectacular and I will make again and again, and the flag snacks--white dish, box of blueberries in the corner for the blue field, then stripes of strawberries and yogurt pretzels. That was a giant hit, the kids oohed and ahed like I'd cooked all day, and in the end, there were maybe four strawberries and a light layer of blueberries left. So all those other cool ideas? Forget it.

Oh, and I made oatmeal squares from the following recipe; they were good, for what they were--that sounds like damning with faint praise but that isn't what I mean to do. The recipe:

3 bananas, smushed
1/3 C applesauce
2 C oats
1/2 C almond milk
1/2 C raisins
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix, pour in to square baking dish and smooth out top; bake at 350 for 20 minutes, let cool and cut.

Not as good as the refrigerator oatmeal, but for a no-gluten, no-dairy, no-sugar cookie? they were good.

Then the block party was amazing; we had some "extra" invited families with kids who visit here all the time, and there was just a herd of boys romping through the yards, dropping by every once in a while for a hot dog or cupcake. There were fireworks from BJ's and then someone rigged a projector to show a movie on the garage door of one of the houses. The kids all pulled up chairs and settled in, giving the parents the chance to do the same. So we sat around a fire pit in the middle of the street until almost midnight, enjoying the evening and each other.

But for at least 10 years, we've had crazy hot July 4ths. Our first one in this house was 104 degrees and humid; not many after were much better weather-wise. But this year, when the kids were putting on their bathing suits and topping them with fleece, when the wind blew so hard the mosquitoes were chased away; when the kids decorated their bikes and rode them for no judges, just the pleasure of garland and streamers on their was really magic. It was a great day and I will remember this one forever.

This week:

Monday: yogurt chicken, green beans with pickled onions and toasted almonds, maybe rice if I feel like it.

Tuesday: taco Tuesday, yay!

Wednesday: Wednesday Spaghetti, yay!

Thursday: there has been a request for Pacific Rim Pork again, which I am happy to do. Rice and probably leftover string beans on the side.

Friday: Leftovers, is my guess. Otherwise, something from the freezer.

I am so grateful to live here. I am so glad to have such good neighbors. I am so happy that my boys are old enough to go traipsing around town on their bikes, and that today was such a good day to do it. Wishing you a week full of things that make your heart content.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Settling in to Summer

What does summer mean to you? I am excited; this week alone we have hit a bunch of my favorite things. Beach trip with family, checking items off the summer "to do" list, and lots of strawberries and fruit.

There's been some sadness too; they are closing the church where I grew up (incredibly unjustly, might I add) so I went to our last Mass there. We belonged to a different parish, partly because I had always assumed if we wanted to switch back to what should have been our parish, we could, but that wasn't meant to be. I loved the times we went--we usually walked there on holidays to avoid the driving and parking, and spent a lot of summer Saturday night Masses there too. It was good going back, seeing lots of friends of my parents, and saying goodbye to their names on the burial lists.

So a new week begins as an era ends. Dinners:

Monday: Pasta dinner for the swim team. I am bringing buttered noodles, of course.

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday but also a swim meet and the Lego build. Not sure how this will shake out except to say: Taco Thursday looking likely.

Wednesday: With Monday spaghetti, I don't think we'll repeat but if I am feeling lazy--maybe we will! There is another swim meet this night so who knows what we will do.

Thursday: Taco Thursday, or Turkey Thursday. If not taco--turkey breast, potato salad, cucumbers and strawberries.

Friday: Happy July 4 to all! We will have a barbecue on our street but my cousins are also hosting an open house so I am not sure where we will end up going. I have all kinds of pinterest ideas for food (strawberry and yogurt pretzel and blueberry flag tray; red-white-and-blue spinach salad) so someone will eat well, wherever we decide to be.

I tried the frozen blueberry yogurt bites on Pinterest but I don't know why (except to be able to say truthfully, "Yes, I used the super cute small muffin molds in the past year")--I knew they would freeze too hard for me. But it was a fine use of on-the-edge blueberries and the end of the yogurt. Frozen, they are too hard and cold for my teeth. Melted, they are just blueberry yogurt. So no waste but not a "do it again" recipe either.

Wishing you a good week full of whatever summer activities bring you joy.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Solstice. Perfect summer weather--hot, no humidity (well, comparatively for around here). Pool is open, school is closed, and camp starts tomorrow. Welcome to early summer!

Last week worked out well--due to a random set of circumstances, we didn't get to grill when we intended to so a lot of meat met its due date at once, so my husband grilled a Joann's pork tenderloin, four burgers, and a pile of chicken tenders marinated in lemon-yogurt. We ate off that platter all week. It was awesome.

This week:

Monday: I'm out. It's on Dad. He'll figure something out I am sure. (I have a conference.)

Tuesday: Back to taco Tuesday. Due to the surfeit of meat, I had to make the taco meat and freeze it. Bonus: now ready to go.

Wednesday: Small boy is still pouting that he did not get last week's Wednesday spaghetti, so it will make its triumphant return.

Thursday: I had a request! Pacific rim pork, rice, maybe a broccoli side.

Friday: town picnic! Last year it was cancelled by weather; I hope the picnic happens this year. We bring a salad or side; not sure what we'll bring right now though.

Last week, we did a potluck lunch on the second-to-last day of school. I made poppyseed chicken, broccoli slaw from Dinner: A Love Story, margarita punch, and the chickpea/apple salad. (I was the instigator, but a very generous friend volunteered her house for the actual event, so I overcompensated by bringing way too much food.) I also made dinner for my mother in law this week and did the Smitten Kitchen almonds & zucchini. Yum yum yum.

Also, I made summer goals along with the kids: lemon water is helping me reach one of mine. I am trying to stay better hydrated. It's amazing how two slices of lemon changes how I feel about that glass of water. I have pinned lots of fruit/veggie water combos on Pinterest so I will be experimenting with them through the summer.

My kids have discovered the Singing Monsters app so I am going to bowm bowm bowm on outta here. Happy week!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Three More Wakeups

And then my kids will be out of bed every day at 6am! Joy!

Kidding. Summer is sliding in right on time here and as soon as we get the screen thing fixed around here (as in, no, you cannot spend all day every day on them) we will be in summer mode.

Not much last week in the new food department though there were lots of old favorites.

I did try the ginger baked pears, and I liked them but they were not a family hit. Still: it's always good to try new things.

This week is tricky because there is baseball every night if the one boy's team keeps winning. As much as I hate the season for its unpredictability, length, and inconvenience, I love this team and this coaching staff and I want this for them. Here's hoping, but I know winning five in a row is a hard feat to pull off.

Monday: Joanne's pork tenderloin (didn't get to them last week), rice, zucchini

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: spaghetti

Thursday: first day of vacation so I am hoping to grill chicken, with grilled asparagus and lemony smashed potatoes.

Friday: ok, so Monday is complicated...we are invited to a World Cup game watch at a pizza place, but I suspect our own baseball schedule will make that not happen. If we don't have pizza Monday, we will have it tonight. If we have pizza on Monday, pork will be tonight.

Happy mid-June to all!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Crazy and Hazy, Check, Now Seeking Lazy

Anyone else remember that song, about the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer? I think we can check off the "crazy" for sure, and some of the "hazy" too. Last week involved a blitz trip to Connecticut to watch our niece graduate from high school there, which we were thrilled to be a part of. Then we jammed back down the turnpike in time for the baseball playoff games and sleepovers that awaited my boys. I went to a ballet while my husband went to a soccer game. I think it is the first time except for school where all four of us have been apart. It was a little strange.

Due to that--there wasn't much cooking last week, though I was delighted with one success: I made a turkey breast, based mostly on How to Cook Everything's recipe. My version: preheat oven to 450. Put turkey breast in pan with small amount of olive oil in the bottom. Rub soft butter on turkey breast. Top with kosher or sea salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning, then drizzle with a little more olive oil. Ideally, pour some chicken broth/stock in the pan to keep the turkey moist. Baste while it cooks if you think of it. Check after 30-40 minutes to see if the convenient little "pops up when it's done" thing has popped up.  Serve to your picky child and watch him ask for thirds. It was bliss.

The only other "new" thing: I needed to use cans for the softball toss at the end-of-year parties, so I made the lemony walnut chickpea salad from Pinterest. I loved it as is, and loved it more with avocado. Yum. I made it again, even after I had plenty of cans ready for the carnival game.

This week: I have lots of rosemary. See if you can spot the theme.

Monday: Joanne's pork tenderloin, rice, zucchini

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: spaghetti (trying the Laughing Cow faux Alfredo here for me); it is also the end of year celebration for our school language program so I am making a ton of dumplings for the Chinese food requirement and probably margarita punch for the Mexican. (No, no tequila, tempting though it may be)

Thursday: chicken roll ups, roasted fingerling potatoes, something green

Friday: my last day of work for the summer! I am excited and terrified. We have been hammered with unexpected bills this year (starting with taxes, made worse by the much higher charge from the firm that did our taxes, then my car frying all its fuses, then a mostly-covered-but-so-expensive-we-still-paid-a-ton medical procedure plus much higher copays from the new health insurance...) and I am very worried about how the summer is going to go cash-wise.'s summer! The kids are loving swimming, and I am finding myself very distracted at work and impatient to finish books and just have a different set of things on my mind. I am hoping to kick it off with a local "moms at loose ends for approximately 27 more minutes" get together, especially for the moms around here whose kids are all in school for the extra days from snow. But that would involve planning and that is not my gift right now!

Wishing you a good week full of things that make you happy.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Rest of the Story

So, what I didn't mention last week: I had no right to be melancholy. My husband took the kids to the mountains for the weekend over Memorial Day because I had to work. Not much--only an hour on Sunday afternoon--but it was really in the middle of everything, so I stayed home for the first time (? I think) in 20 years. It was so quiet. I loved it but it was instructive--even with 2 of the 3 leading mess-makers out of the house (I am definitely in the top 2), it took ages to get the house looking the way other people seem to keep theirs.

I cooked a ton--mac and cheese for a family party in two weeks, the soup from last week, and some recipes I was interested in but no one else would be. Case in point: the Provencal Tuna Salad from How to Cook Supper. I had the dill, I had the will, and I was ready to go. And I loved it. Not a single other soul in the house would have eaten it but I was delighted to have it to myself anyway. Also, meet my new summer breakfast, the peanut butter and banana smoothie. So good, so easy. I used regular milk since that's what I had but now that I know I will make this again (and again and again) I will get some almond milk and less sugar-based peanut butter. I was also inspired to try the brain power smoothie since that was so good. This was more of a traditional fruit smoothie and I loved it too (even though I didn't have 2 C blueberries, and I did skip the chia--I can't get through that texture). Only downside to this is that I don't usually have pomegranate juice in the house. But if it's on sale...this is a good one.

While I had my blender out, I made detox soup because I love it so, and also tried this avolantro-lime dressing for the super-cute salads-in-the-jars-I-am-resisting-purchasing. I liked it, but didn't love it; I think part of it is that if it has avocado and cilantro, it should be detox soup. And I never add enough olive oil because I am aghast at what I do add, so it's not very dressing-y. But it was good on tacos and with beans and salsa for the cute salad-in-a-cheap-tupperware-from-the-market.

For an impromptu Memorial Day gathering (well, impromptu for me, my friends had been planning for a while I am sure), I made a mashup of the Giada orzo salad (on sidebar) and this minted orzo salad with chickpeas and feta--but with the rather large adjustment that I didn't have mint. So, a few more veggies than Giada's version, and I was afraid the garlic would make the dressing too sharp (at least with the garlic I have right now), so a little of this, a little of that, some basil, and poof--a salad ready to take, and was well received.

I also made another Pinterest find--Barefoot Contessa sautéed tomatoes. I found it took way more than 7 minutes to get them all collapse-y. I think I like them oven roasted better but this way was easier (no cutting, just herb chopping). A worthy experiment but one I probably won't repeat.

For my own dining pleasure, I tried the Persian chicken salad suggested by the Tipsy Baker. I loved it and will make it again when I have the things on hand. I toasted extra spices and kept them aside.

And I had to laugh at the comment about tzatziki as a salad--it usually is a topping rather than a side, but it doesn't always work that way here, so we count it as a side salad if I don't over shred the cukes. That recipe from last week was very good but not amazing so the search continues.

So. That brings me to this week.

Monday: turkey breast (which I didn't make last week), zucchini, stuffing for glutenous people

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday or pizza at the baseball field, depending how many family members are coming to the 6pm game

Wednesday: Wednesday Spaghetti

Thursday: Tacos or turkey, depending on how Tuesday went

Friday: out for a graduation celebration with family

Have a happy week, everyone!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Short Week, sorta

It's never a short week in food prep, right?

So, here we are at the unofficial start of summer...ahh! The pool is open, the swim team season is underway, the boys are sleeping well at night (coincidence? I don't think so).

Monday: Roasted turkey breast, tzatziki or cucumber salad (or both!), stuffing, asparagus

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: Spaghetti

Thursday: chicken, rice, leftover asparagus

Friday: Maybe pizza?

We'll see how the end of the week goes.

Last week I made one of my pinterest pins (finally) for shrimp corn chowder. It was bland but that just made it easier to jazz up. Since I am the only soup eater in the house I won't put it on the sidebar here but it was a yummy basic recipe and very easy to boot.

This is the tzatziki recipe I am trying this week:


Serves 4
This side-dish works best in the summer and can be served with bread, lamb, vegetables and potatoes. It is a mainstay in middle Eastern cuisine, although we are bringing it here as a Greek dish. Give it a try, close your eyes and picture yourself on a beautiful beach in Antiparos.
Ingredients:1 cup natural yoghurt (greek-style is best, particularly sheep-milk yoghurt)
1 firm cucumber
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
Sea salt
Instructions:Take a bowl and fill it with the yoghurt.
Peel the cucumber, grate it and put it into a separate bowl adding some salt. Let it draw some water and then drain it well by pressing it into a sieve using a large spoon. Add it to the yoghurt. (You can reserve the juice and drink it – it’s delicious and healthy.)
Peel and finely mince the garlic cloves and mix it into the yoghurt mass along with the vinegar, olive oil, mustard and a little salt to taste.
A few finely chopped mint leaves are optional, and taste lovely in the mix.
And of course now that it is almost 80 degrees I am immediately thinking about my detox soup as well. Mmmmmm.

Last week was a bit of a bummer--I made the Joy of Cooking ribs, which we thought were great, but my rib-loving oldest wouldn't eat them. He orders them from restaurants all the time so I am a little bummed out about this. What we are eating is dwindling, dramatically, and it makes me sad. Some of it is me. I am worn down by making lunches and grateful to just put the same thing in the one lunch, and frustrated to the point of wanting to give up on the uneaten lunches on the other side. Right now I try to console myself that I am at leaf getting the highest nutritional punch possible out of what I serve and hope it works out in the end.

I don't mean to end on a melancholy note but that's kind of where I am in the kitchen right now. Wishing you a happy Memorial Day--may it be filled with good memories, new and old.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

For the Record

So, I meant to post what we had for the first communion for future reference.

The only request from the first communicant was buttered noodles (nugget shaped from Wegman's). We made two pounds, put them in a crockpot on "keep warm," and it was plenty.
He didn't care about the rest, so we went with a very Delco Celebration.
-Because he really did care, a medium sized party tray of nuggets from Chik Fil A
-Roy Tweedy's meatball sandwich special
-Wayside Market mini sandwich tray and mini croissant tray (20 each, huge hit, delicious), garden salad (yummy but no one ate it, though it was perfect as a leftover party food item in my fridge for the week)
-Colonial Village dried beef dip and potato salad
-cheese plate (because Mr. Picky loves his cheese) with Ritz and Triscuits
-320 Pico and Chips and fruit salad
-Margarita punch
-Maria's cake
-ah-maaaaaaz-ing cookies from a friend
-chips, pretzels, bugles, Chex Mix
-3 dips--onion, curry, lemon-dill

We were so lucky the weather cooperated, and it all went beautifully.

This week:

Monday: turkey breast, stuffing, broccoli

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: spaghetti

Thursday: Pacific Rim Pork with rice

Friday: leftovers, or pesto quinoa for the boys

We came in to a lot of hot dogs (and I mean a LOT--they were for a tailgate that ended up all but rained out) so I was looking for the St. John's Hospice recipes and it encouraged me to clean out my paper recipes and get them coordinated online. I tossed a bunch of stuff (if it called for an ingredient I don't know, it's out--I'm not at a point in my life to be experimenting quite like that) and need to get the rest connected to the blog. I was fascinated, though, to discover just how many of the recipes I'd clipped were from Jenny Rosenstrach, she of my blog obsession, Dinner: A Love Story. I had stuff from Cookie and Real Simple all over the clippings boxes. Happily, many of them are now online, so the clippings are recycled, but I am so glad she has embraced the new media and the interwebs.

Wishing you a good week!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

My Favorite Food Category

So, how was your week? Mine was full of leftover party food. It was bliss. (Many of you know--"leftover party food" is my favorite food category!)

Alas, not so for this week. Mother's Day brunch tomorrow and then actual cooking this week. But the communion, the party, and the leftovers--all wonderful. Now back to reality...

Sunday--I don't care as long as I don't cook it. I made quiches for brunch (classic Betty Crocker quiche Lorraine, thanks to the interwebs, and this spinach quiche (with crust) and this spinach and mushroom quiche (without). The one without, I used the rest of my fat-free yogurt and regular fat sour cream (it's what I had). I couldn't believe all that fit in my pie dish but it did!

Monday--baseball at 6 with a 5:15 call, so Crazy Jane's Chicken, rice, and spinach.



Thursday--Pacific Rim Pork, rice, maybe broccoli on the side

Friday--hooray for the school's end-of-year party!

Have a great week and Happy Mother's Day to any who celebrate!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Big Weeks We Have Known

So, my younger son's first communion is this week. I have been counting down to this for so long it seems impossible it is actually here, but here it is!

Monday: chicken nuggets from freezer for boys, chicken on green salad for grownups

Tuesday: Tacos, of course

Wednesday: Spaghetti, of course

Thursday: leftovers or freezer meal

Friday: Maybe pizza

Saturday: First Communion! Menu to follow.

Add to that the baseball, the soccer tryouts, the Communion rehearsals and the regular work stuff...quite a week. We will be lucky to eat at all.

Have a good one! I gotta go.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Minor Adjustments

Sorry for the hiatus but there was not much to inspire. I need to get back in the saddle though, so here we are again.

This week:

Monday: Easter leftovers (ham, chicken for the boys, carrot mousse, mac and cheese).

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: Spaghetti

Thursday: Something from the freezer.

Friday: I know the boys will want to go back out for pizza now that we can have pepperoni on Fridays again.

So, my kids had "India Day" at school, and I plated about 250 samosa/chicken tikka masala samples for the first and second graders to try. It was fascinating--some kids loved it, lots of kids found it too spicy, and of course my Mr. Picky generously shared with his friends. After all the plating, there was a ton of tikka masala sauce left over, so I brought it home and made plain chicken breasts and rice, which the kids had, and then my husband and I had tikka masala sauce on ours. Delish. I also tried again to make raita. I used this recipe and this one. I added salt and a little garlic (probably not the right thing, I think maybe something else would have been better) and I grated some Persian cukes from Trader Joe's. I used the fat-free yogurt I usually use for the yogurt marinade, and then added a soup spoon of sour cream. That was good. It wasn't amazing, I am still in search of that, but it did the trick.

Hoping you are having an inspirational spring!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring Fever

All is well here. I just am in a rut of cleaning out the fridge and putting different sauces on chicken and calling it a day. When I make something new, I'll record it here. For now, enjoy your spring!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Rain Has Never Looked So Good

Here we are on a drippy spring day, watching many Facebook friends post snow pictures. These are friends who don't live all that far away from us. It's a reminder: cold rain is nothing exciting, but it doesn't need shoveling or salt. I'll take it.

Last week: With my husband leaving on his second business trip, I used Sunday to "stride ahead" and get a lot of cooking done. I nuked all the broccoli so we'd have sides for the week. While the steaks marinated, I made the taco meat for Tuesday so we'd just have to heat and eat. And I tried the Pinterest roasted garlic-parmesan cauliflower. It was delicious--but I think cardboard might be good with salt, olive oil, garlic, and parmesan cheese puddles! Those are some magic ingredients right there. One thing I do need to remember: when a recipe says it "works great" with the "stuff in the green can," it needs truly teeny parm, not the shredded we usually use. It slid right off and formed crisps on the pan. Really--not a problem at all, because yum. But it didn't adhere to the cauliflower like the picture either. Will I make it again? Probably. My husband might like it if he ever got to try it but it has one dealbreaker ingredient for each kid (cheese for one, cauliflower for the other).

Getting lost in the shuffle: I know we will get used to my husband being away for a night or two but for right now, it's really hard on all of us. Having to just reheat dinner instead of making it from scratch was an enormous boost. I am going to remember that for future trips. I can already tell that this is going to be incorporated into my being so much that when I look back on this, I will be startled that it was ever a revelation.

Last week also marked the halfway point of Lent, which was somehow hard to believe. I am way behind on the 40 bags challenge but then it was time for the consignment sale and I thought I'd caught right back up.  I had 6 bags of clothes and toys ready to leave the house so that was huge. My closet looks so much better and so does the bedroom in general (I had some of the bagged-up stuff hanging out there for way too long).  And then I missed the sale. I feel like an idiot but I just didn't have the mental energy. More successfully, while it didn't yield a bag of anything, I cleaned out all the drawers in the kitchen island--removed old directories to elsewhere (they are still useful for babysitter numbers, etc. that I don't have in my phone yet), re-re-re-organized the junk drawer (still too much stuff in there but at least it's better), and found the first communion prep book whose disappearance was a mystery to me (and in plenty of time to finish--booyah!).

This week:

Monday:  Joanne's pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes, broccoli.

Tuesday: how I love thee, Taco Tuesday. Oh--this is our sad month where we miss the Lego build for the baseball game. Not looking forward to the minute that gets figured out. Hopefully tacos will be an ok consolation dinner.

Wednesday: spaghetti

Thursday: leftovers (including beef stroganoff from Sunday from this recipe)

Friday: These meatless Fridays are annoying. I am fine with them, it's all those other people I have to feed. (One Catholic's shocking confession: Lent is a pain!) I still didn't make the soup so maybe it's time.

Have a happy week everyone!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

One Last Snowstorm

This is the winter that never just goes on and on...but I am eating like spring. I'm done with winter.

I made the 101 Cookbooks Citrus-Ginger spritzer--with lime and grapefruit juice and a ginger simple syrup. I remembered to cut the ginger by half and was still blown away; I forgot to add more sugar for my sweet tooth (more for the ginger than the citrus). I will keep playing with this because I really do enjoy it in a strange, bracing way.

I also need to remember for next year: while my fancy King Arthur flour is probably closer to the original for Irish soda's actually far more tasty with the el-cheapo stripped of all nutrition flour. Noted for next year.

In my "cooking from Pinterest" quest, I made a lunchtime avocado-chickpea salad. It is a salad more like a chicken- or egg-salad (meaning, made for a sandwich rather than a fork, though I used a fork for mine)--I think a pita, as shown, would be ideal. I used red onion (and while I hate changing recipes the first time I try them, I had a red onion and no scallions the day the avocado said, "now or never!" so red onions it was); and I do think scallions would be better. But this was incredibly easy, very good, and a win for me. No one else will touch it but for lunches? I can toss this in my bag and go, and it won't make the communal lunch table smell funny. This will reappear in my repertoire.

I also made the avocado taco sauce, which I loved. Next time I will skip hot sauce and add cilantro. But there will be a next time. So good. (I used my hand blender of course, but even a fork would work.)

This week:

Monday: leftover steak, baked potatoes, cauliflower from last week

Tuesday: tacos or out (there's a fundraiser at Iron Hill and I love those, but there is also baseball practice, sigh)

Wednesday: spaghetti

Thursday: pork chops in mustardy sauce, mashed potatoes,  broccoli

Friday: I forgot to make the soup last week, but all the ingredients are still here, so we'll try again.

Have a great week!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spring Cleaning

So I took some time last week to do some site maintenance. I realized there were recipes I wasn't adding to the sidebar (like the poached salmon and cookie bars) because it was such a pain to do so with the overgrown list. So I bit the bullet and figured out how to break it out in to categories. There are a few "new favorites" on there but for the most part it's all still there, just slightly better organized. Here's hoping it helps!

The other spring cleaning we are doing is the "40 bags in 40 days." I am not doing well with moving them out of the house but they are bagged and ready when I am. That will probably be the holy week portion--the dropping off at everywhere further than Goodwill. (Post office, Mothers' Home, etc. etc.)

This week's theme: cooking from Pinterest.

Monday: Happy St. Patrick's Day! Sauteed onions and cabbage (because it smelled so good at Trader Joe's), honeybaked ham, and mashed potatoes.

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: Spaghetti

Thursday: roasted garlic-parmesan cauliflower (using TJ's precut though), probably sausage-apple-potato bake for the grownups, leftovers for the kids

Friday: corn chowder with shrimp for me, the boys will figure out something :) (Last week it was pesto quinoa and might be again). Besides, I have a Moms' Night Out.

Last week: I used tilapia instead of cod and still loved the Phillies' recipe. The tomatoes, in particular, are amazing. I went back and bought two pints at Trader Joe's and made more. It still wasn't enough so there might be more again.

In the green food theme, I made the Tipsy Baker Smooth Vegetable Soup (well, not hers per se but that's where I found it). I have never met a leek soup I don't like and while this wasn't my favorite, it was a great winter-spring transitional soup and it felt very exotic (despite growing up with escarole soup) to throw lettuce in the pot.

We had a family St. Pat's gathering and I brought poached salmon and asparagus. That went well. I hadn't realized so many of the older cousins would be there or I would have brought pizza dip as well.

They are talking about one last snow...or two? But now that we have 60-degree days interspersing the chilly ones, it's hard to fathom any real snow taking hold. But we'll see! I'm ready. Baseball is beginning, basketball is over, I have my annual seven yellow crocuses on the lawn and mentally--I am on to the next season. Hope you are too--have a great week!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Maybe It's Spring Now

We have our counters back--or I should say, our new counters and backsplash are in! Woo! For various install reasons we were without a sink one day and without a stove another, so there was more heating up than intended but it all worked out in the end. I am getting used to how much louder the countertops are (they are harder and so in some ways I miss the laminate but I love knowing I really can't break these).

This week:

Sunday: dinner with sister in law's family and mother-in-law. In all the other crazy of the week, my mother in law went to the hospital; she is fine but needs some major tweaking to her meds, etc. I am bringing my favorite beef roast, mashed potatoes, green beans, and a cake.

Monday: more beef. There were filets in with the frozen roasts so we have to use those up (oh darn, right?)--also celebrating the first day of my husband's new job! Roasted potatoes, broccoli.

Tuesday: tacos, of course.

Wednesday: spaghetti

Thursday: leftovers if we have them (doubtful); probably Farmer's Chicken if we don't.

Friday: cod with roasted tomatoes, rice

Last week we had the one kind of snowstorm we didn't experience this winter: a fizzle. We were due. Alas, the superintendents around here are now puppies in shock boxes with learned helplessness flags flying and they all caved and cancelled instead of trying a late opening. I didn't mind one more snow day, to be honest. We've had so many years without.

With the impending snowstorm and counter installation, I cooked ahead a good amount while I watched the Oscars Red Carpet show. I made Pacific Rim Pork and once again remembered just how easy this is--really not much more challenging than tacos. There is a slight bit more complication--the wiping out of the skillet, the ingredients that have to be mixed that night instead of in advance--but honestly this is so quick and so easy, it's ready when the rice is. Yum. The husband and older boy wolfed it down--not even a serving left as leftovers. And younger? "Didn't hate it." That, my friends, is success in this house.

I also started the soup-making of the week with the sweet potato-cauliflower soup. I roasted the cauliflower with the olive oil and garam masala and almost didn't have enough left to make the soup--it was great as a side. I will need to remember this. (Cauliflower florets, roasted at 400 with olive oil and garam masala for half an hour: my kind of recipe.) This will be the main takeaway from this one. I love everything in it but it was so earthy-tasting and lumpy, it was a challenge to enjoy. I added more water, I added half-and-half (distinctly de-veganizing but so it goes), I added more salt and pepper and garam masala but still--probably my least-favorite soup of the winter. But the cauliflower prep is a hit at least!

The Belgian Beef Stew was again a qualified success. Older boy thought the carrots were the best part (me too). Younger boy enjoyed the beef once he salted it. Neither ate the potatoes. The husband polished off most of it. It was a great snow day meal but I should have started it at 2pm instead of wasting time on the soup. (Live and learn.)

I tried the flourless peanut butter cookies recipe. Mine made more than 18 (24? Maybe? I didn't count but it was 3 sheets worth). They didn't spread out as much as hers did (but I didn't use natural pb either) and I wasn't thrilled with them. They were almost a little burned on the bottom but fally-aparty in the cookie. But they were easy and they are cookies so not really a "loss." But not something I'll rush to make again either.

This sounds so goofy but I have a tradition with Young Mr. Picky that he helps me make the taco mix. He reads, I measure and pour, and he of the sensitive tongue tries all the spices and declares them delicious. I love making it with him and love that he will always know where to find the recipe here. There is a reason this is such a popular meal with us--I think of happy moments with both boys making them!

So that's the week that is. Things are in all kinds of flux--reorganizing the kitchen and house (I am doing the 40 bags in 40 days challenge and I am up to 10 bags on day 4--this is not a point of pride but one of embarrassment), taking care of family, getting the husband set up in the new job, getting the busy spring schedule set at mine. We had one 57-degree day and it energized me-ready to go over here! Let's declare it spring. Have a good week!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

That Was Quick

Oh, Spring, you tease. Yesterday, it was 50 degrees outside, I was running around without a coat, and bagging up Gunk The Trees Dropped.

Tonight we're getting 12 inches of snow. The end. I'm really just rejecting the whole hypothesis.

Because Tuesday I am supposed to get my new countertops and I really will cry if anything delays that.

So, in this freaky week:

Sunday: beef stew while we await the snow. Last week we grilled on Sunday. I am fighting off the despair.

Monday: chicken breasts, string beans, salad

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: spaghetti (and nothing else--it's Ash Wednesday)

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: unclear; I think we are going in to Penn for an event but my kitchen is torn apart so I can't find the calendar.

The good news is, the painting is done and the stuff is moved. The boy is getting over his strep and I am getting over mine. We are working on making the rooms inhabitable again. The husband is excited about his new job. I am excited about our new kitchen. This overcrowded moment will end and soon. And the kids had an actual full week of school.

The snow? Not so much. Back to get the snow pants out again.

Not much new to report except that Ronzoni gluten-free rotini are the best non-wheat pasta I have tried, hands down, and the restaurant (Pho Street, for locals) was terrific.

Forty bags in forty days starts, um, now. That's one Lenten sacrifice. Add to it the chocolate and soda (I was going to try caffeine but I'm not sure that will work this year) and it might be all for now. We'll see. First bag is already to Goodwill. So...good luck to you and yours with whatever your weather and week bring.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Changing Seasons

As I write, it is almost 60 degrees outside. The sun is shining and everything is wet but not covered in snow, which is a bit of a relief.

And yet here I am inside, because one of my boys has strep. Well played, winter, well played. Also, did I mention everything is wet? And windy?

So, some more Olympics (I have never been on the "OMG this coverage is terrible" bandwagon before but I am now; my kids asked why only 8 countries are in the Olympics), some more recipe efforts.

From Pinterest, I tried the cilantro lime yogurt dressing and loved it. Very much like detox soup without the things that actually make detox soup healthy. It would be amazing on tacos, or just avocados, or a salad, or shrimp. I am not good at free styling with food, which is why I mention all of this. But if you find yourself in the great position of a ton of cilantro--this is a great way to go.

I also made the cucumber-avocado-feta-lime salad. That was it. I didn't want to go with the mint but it would have helped.

Monday: Yay! We grilled! Yogurt marinated chicken, rice, broccoli

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: Spaghetti

Thursday: sausage-apple-potato bake

Friday: Does it matter? I am going out with a friend, tra la la.

Have a good week!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Paging Spring...

My friends in other parts of the country just aren't getting it, but we are in a total winter rut here. But I am hoping we are crawling out. Here's this week's version of winter.

So, when I had published last week we hadn't had the chicken noodle soup yet. To my immense shock, both boys ate the soup. Both. Boys. Ate. The. Soup. Ok, in a DALS deconstructed style but--folks--this is huge. Mr. Picky didn't like it but he ate it with the promise of not-in-soup noodles later. He picked out the onions and the carrots and there was practically no broth. But he ate the chicken and the noodles. Older boy is warming to soup a little so while he ate his with a fork, he ate all of it and without complaining. It was nothing short of a culinary miracle.

We got hammered, again, with the two-part snowstorm this week, right before the district's 4 day weekend. For those of you not keeping track at home, that's two five-day weekends this year. Fear not, I'm keeping track for you.

This time, I was hoping we'd get to the mountains for the weekend (and cheered on those who drove to school to pick up the kids on Wednesday with the skis on the rack, ready to blast up the turnpike to the ski resorts before the snow hit--well played, all) so I spent the day getting food ready to go to the mountains. I tried these five ingredient nutella cookies. As one might expect from cookies that are mostly nutella--they are awesome. I liked them equally well with and without the salt. They made one small container's worth. I also made the cookie bars, yes again, it was a new audience, mac and cheese, and chili. And off we went to the land of zero degrees and too-many-mph toboggan runs!

Monday: Takeout. Holiday weekend, coming back from the mountains or depressed we aren't.

Tuesday: superquick tacos before basketball.

Wednesday: spaghetti. The Trader Joe's Italian sausages are a hit with the hubby so we are making those a good bit.

Thursday: Leftovers and Pacific Rim Pork. Needs to be fast b/c there are so many crazy things happening--kids' art show, book group, parish council meeting...can't really focus on everything or my brain will shut down.

Friday: down one kid so probably will take the other one out for Indian or hamburgers. If the snow is gone. Because when I wasn't looking someone moved my state to Minnesota. (Did you ever read The Scrambled States of America? I feel like we're living it right now.)

Wishing you a good week!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

When Life Gives You Snowstorms, Make Soup

How's your weather? I don't need to tell you how it is around here. You've seen our county on the national news as This Week's Disaster Area. We were blessedly relatively unaffected, but even one town over, they were out of school for the week.

We were off too, just not for the week, but we were absolutely living on the ice/thaw line, and just barely on the right side of it.

So, snuggled/stuck in the house with my boys, it was time to get cooking.

Monday, I had a cook off. This snow was heavy and wet and not as much fun for play. (We are getting positively Inuit in our connoisseur-ship of snow.) So it was a good day to stay inside and make things to eat.

Boiled Water soup: check. While the garlic was boiling, the boys were asking, "What is cooking? That smells great!" Weren't they surprised. (Like Jennifer, this required almost nothing I didn't have, though I will cop to buying sage leaves. $1.69 seemed like not much to invest in an experiment.) To my immense shock, I loved it. Based on the "we serve this to recovering people" comments, I thought of it as a vegan sick day soup (without the cheese obviously) so I just poured a bit for myself in a bowl. It looks like egg whites in a clear dish, so I popped it in a mug instead and just savored it as I did the rest of my cooking and prep.

Cookie bars that I'm obsessed with: check.

Cocoa for the boys who built the snowmen that looked like PigPen: check.

Crazy Jane's chicken in bulk: check.

Clover Lane's crockpot chicken noodle soup: check. I made my own gluten free mini shells to add. Worst part for me, as ever: the chopping of the raw chicken breast. Ew ew ew.

Greek style shrimp scampi (also known as shrimp with feta from DALS): check. Needed to finish the feta somehow, right?

I'm also having a total truffle moment. My sister in law was lovely enough to give us some truffle oil for Christmas, so I gussied up some of my bland potato soup with it; perfect. Also, part of my wheat overload last week was definitely from the Evol truffled mac and cheese that was on sale at Target. And the truffled mushroom flatbread started the whole thing here. So I am figuring out what we can truffle up around here.

Next up on the soups: the Smooth Vegetable Soup, also from Tipsy Baker. First I need to find leeks, which are inexplicably sold out around here.

One other indoor activity: inspired by the 71 Toes "Good Heart Attack," I cut out a ton of hearts and had the boys write things they love about their dad on them. I did the same for him and for them, and I have been taping them up one per day until Valentine's Day. It looks adorable, the kids loved doing it, and it has made us all smile every day. In a fit of pique, one child started ripping his down from the doorway, but later we found every single one of them right at the head of his bed where they can be the first and last things he sees every day. These might have become a permanent part of the decor. And I'm ok with that.

Another part of the indoor activity: sure, I thought, I'll do the 30 day planking challenge, though my core muscles are hidden better than the gold in Fort Knox. First day: 20 seconds. Hard, but I did it. Second day: by 6 seconds, my core is screaming, "HEY! We were good sports about this yesterday and all but that was a ONE-TIME DEAL. That will NOT be happening again." To say nothing of my elbows. My 30 day challenge looks more like a 60 day challenge but I do like how it makes my core feel, so we're on the wagon with this, just at a less aggressive pace.

This week: More snow! Oh, I wish I were kidding. I am not.

Sunday: leftovers

Monday: takeout pizza deal. I have a minor medical procedure (routine maintenance) but I know I'll be tired.

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: spaghetti

Thursday: leftovers/freezer food (I found a few more gems as I was rooting around)

Friday: Something romantic. Hah! Something the kids will eat is more like it. Leftovers, most likely.

That week couldn't be less inspirational if I tried.'s been quite a week, really. We are finally, finally flipping the office and the older boy's room, so the house is in total chaos. It looks like Hoarders up in here but this is the "darkest before the dawn" portion of our house re-do. The new counters are being templated this week which means every spot of the counters has to be cleared. So prepping food is not going to be a real possibility for much of the week. These are awesome, excellent first world problems, so I have no complaints, but that is my feeble excuse for the feeble menu. It may not improve for a while.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Is It Spring Yet? (no)

So, how's your winter going? I am writing this on Saturday and do not care what the groundhog has to say. In fact, I will be stunned if they can find him with all the snow we've had.  And there's more coming.

Monday: Oh, really? Snow again? Really?

Yeah, really.

Crazy Jane's chicken, rice, something green. Probably broccoli, it's been a while.

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: spaghetti

Thursday: Joanne's pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes, probably more broccoli

Friday: Bingo night! Not cooking. Phew.

Girding ourselves for the next set of snowstorms, I got in lots of good soup time last week. I did the crock pot coconut chicken soup and it was fabulous--except so stinkin' (spicy) hot I couldn't eat it! I only put in 1 TBS of the curry, remembering how it's surprised me before. Next time I do this, I will make it vegan with veggie broth, and add carrots and mushrooms, and a half teaspoon of curry and call it a day after 4 hours on low (which is what worked for the chicken strips). But still--a real success. My husband loved it and proclaimed it better than what we get at the local Thai place.

I also made Cooking on Clover Lane's potato soup. I love potato soup. Love. And I had never cooked with evaporated milk so I was curious. I thought a dozen potatoes was a little much so I did a bag of 6 Russets from Trader Joe's and that was about right. I followed the recipe and it was a little odd looking, so I caved and got out my immersion blender and just made it creamy. It was good, but a little bland (it really did take a ton of salt), so I will be serving it with things to spice it up (cheese, bacon bits, chopped scallions). It was really easy and a great "blank canvas" kind of potato soup.

Finally, because it was the Superbowl, I tried the Catherine Newman chicken wings. I do not eat dark meat so I had never made wings before. These were roasted instead of fried, which I liked. I had about 2.5 lbs, so I used 2.5 TBS salt. Next time I would use 2. (Which might be a function of my el-cheapo kosher salt.) We also should have kicked it up to 400 earlier. My wing-loving son declared them "not as good as a restaurant." I declared them "way cheaper than a restaurant and not fried," so this will stay in the rotation, with less salt.

For the Big Game, as they call it, we also had tons of cut-up fruit as finger food, and I got a pound of roast beef and OMG squishy rolls that I haven't let in the house for forever and we had French dip sandwiches, pretzels, and wings. It was great. So easy, and felt festive.

It was a bit of a last hurrah--I am having all kinds of issues when I eat lots of wheat so I am back to gluten free this week. (Yep, gluten free pasta on Wednesday for me. Ick, but beats the tummy rumbles.) I didn't--don't--want to believe that gluten is an issue for me but I don't think there's a way around it at this point. The same thing happened with me and peppers. Growing up, I loved them. Pepper and egg sandwiches, pepper steak at Chinese I feel sick for a day if I eat them, or something they are in (problematic with many Italian foods, from spaghetti sauce to antipasti plates). Somewhere in my 20s--it flipped and became a huge GI issue if I ate them, so I reluctantly cut them out. Now I fear the same with gluten. I've been cutting it out little by little--Udi bread here, Mary's Gone Crackers there...but I find the pizza and the noodles hard to resist. But this past weekend I felt gross enough that it's time to get serious. Ugh.

Wishing you luck with your weather and whatever else you face this week!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

This Is the Snow that Never Ends

It just goes on and on and comes and snows back down again...

Hey from the tundra! Our Flat Stanley went to visit Alaska and it was warmer there than here. That is not ok. (Unless, of course, you are Flat Stanley.)

Still in soup mode here, and still in cabinet clean out mode here, so while no children will eat it, I am making slow cooker Thai chicken soup this week. Also...

Monday: I never got to the slow cooker pork last week so hooray, that's on tap. With rice and green beans.

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: Spaghetti

Thursday: Maple-Dijon Chicken (also known as man pleasing chicken), rice

Friday: Shrimp and Feta (again, to finish the feta), rice,

As to last week...

Snow days threw us off (hence some of the same stuff this week). We had a great five day weekend, though; if I hadn't been trying to get to my conference it would have been nothing but joy. (The conference went well in the end for the parts I could get to.) Huge snow fort: check. Sledding with jump hill: check. Using up random cocoas: check. It was bliss.

I really just need to give up on the apricot chicken. It is not happening.

Soup: also not happening. But I love it, so it stays in the rotation.

Wishing you a happy and warm week! We are donating lots of things to the Goodwill and the SPCA, thinking about others not as lucky as we are, who are cozied up on sofas with blankets and books and each other.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Magic of the Immersion Blender

While it looks vaguely like a euphemism, the immersion blender is such a key item in my kitchen. It really does the job like nothing else. Since I was the only one in our house who would eat the sweet potato and lentil soup, I shared some with friends who couldn't believe it didn't have cream. So it's been my kitchen secret for a while.

My mother in law was having a not-dangerous-but-tiring medical day on Wednesday, and we were up for the dinner shift. I thought the Dinner: A Love Story tomato and white bean soup would be a good, nourishing but not challenging dish to make for her. Longtime readers with a fetish for details will remember that I am not a "soak the beans" person, so I experimented (!!!) with using two cans of cannellini beans instead. It came together beautifully. I didn't have the bacon (well, defrosted) so I went without and did a lighter take. Result? Unreal. I loved it and couldn't stop eating it once I had my taste. My version:

Olive oil-one carrot-one stalk celery-one half onion--chopped and put in the soup pan together with salt, pepper, and a little rosemary, dried from my plant outside. I skipped the bacon, and while my first thought was, Mmm, bacon would've helped this, on second thought, for this batch--I'm not sorry.
When the veggies were soft, I added the whole 14 oz can of tomatoes, then drained and rinsed 2 cans of cannelloni beans. I saved a few and added the rest, plus one can of chicken stock (could easily be veggie). I heated everything through and used the immersion blender. It came up pinkish-orange and I wasn't sure what would happen with the flavor. But as it turned out, the beans gave it a very smooth texture and it was just right. I skipped the rest of the dinner I'd made that night and just had the soup.

One more note: I made the Joanne's Pork Tenderloin last week and the boys were over the moon. They ate almost all of it the first day, scotching the leftovers plan but still making me very happy. If you are pork eaters and have not tried this yet, do not delay.

This week: I am attending a conference on Wednesday and Thursday. No idea how this is going to work. Deep breaths. Wish me luck.

Monday: roasted turkey breast (with Montreal seasoning like my husband made for our ersatz Thanksgiving leftovers), sweet potatoes, salad

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: Spaghetti

Thursday: Slow cooker pork tenderloin I found in the freezer, wahoo! roasted potatoes with rosemary, green beans

Friday: crying uncle and sending for pizza; after all this, I have training at 6pm over the web.

Wishing you a great week!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Soup Season

Wow, do I ever wish my kids ate soup. All that polar vortexing really makes you crave some hot-all-the-way-down soup. Even our warm day was so rainy my husband came home asking for soup and so I am exploring some new recipes.

I am trying this bean soup the short way (i.e., canned), and I am so intrigued by the "boiled water soup" at Tipsy Baker that I bought the sage leaves. As she said--everything else I already had, so really, $1.69 extra at Trader Joe's shouldn't break the bank for the week.

Maybe this will be the year the kids start eating soup. A mom can dream.

This week:

Monday: Joanne's Pork Tenderloin, roasted potatoes, apples or applesauce

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: Spaghetti (with sausage and sauce for my husband)

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: Apricot Chicken, rice, salad

One amazing thing this week; now that we have Kindles I've rediscovered my Kindle books and one is the Dinner: A Love Story book. One of the recipes in it is the shrimp and feta bake, which she admits will lose lots of people with the seafood + cheese action. Ignore that "problem." This was awesome and with pre-peeled shrimp, came together very quickly. I chopped three garlic cloves because that's how we roll here, and I could have put on lots more feta than I did and still been very happy. Alas our children didn't eat it but they had Crazy Jane's chicken and the rice we served the shrimp over and no one went hungry.

Nothing exotic but it's busy right now and I am in maintenance mode. Hoping you are having a good week and staying warm wherever you are!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Whole Christmas Season

Unlike the Grinch, I do not hate the season, and in fact love being Catholic and having the 12 days. When I was little, I received one gift a day through the season, making me quite the envy of my peers. But I got less on Christmas, so it probably evened out. We are trying to take our 12 days kind of easy this year for all kinds of reasons, and just cozying in.

Note for next year: on the 28th, the day after all the celebrations were done, we had Crazy Jane's chicken, apples/applesauce, and a salad. It was so well received by everyone, the kids asked for seconds, and after all the days of rich party food, something simple was incredibly welcome.

I made it with an ulterior motive in mind: since Santa brought Kindles, I've been perusing all my Kindle books, including the Dinner: A Love Story book. One of the early recipes in there is chicken pot pie with sweet potatoes, so it made making that a breeze. I used a Trader Joe's pie crust from the freezer and it was a good cold-rainy-Sunday meal for those of us who would eat it (that would be the grownups).

So, one of the reasons for the healthier food kick is that my husband has shingles on his scalp. It was driving him crazy and the pain is just awful at times, which is horrible to live with in the first or second person. This is the second time this year he's gotten horribly ill just in time for a weeklong vacation. Hmm. So food that seems to whisper "there, there" and soothe is the food of the moment.

Monday: Epiphany! We have no traditional Epiphany food traditions but I will make an ersatz king cake (which is to say, a bundt cake--shaped like a crown, right?--with alas no other meaningful things with it), and tacos (since Tuesday we are busy).

Tuesday: Lego build, woo! Of course, this assumes that the roads are clear. We, like most of the east coast, are in quite a post-snow cold snap as I write. And as much as I love Lego builds, I am not risking the family's safety for one.

Wednesday: spaghetti

Thursday: Dinner: A Love Story shrimp-tomato-feta sounds amazing to me in this cold snap. No idea what the kids will eat but there are always apples in the house. (I'm kidding. Sort of. I feel like you can add an apple to anything and make it a meal.) They will probably have quinoa with pesto.

Friday: probably freezer food.

So far, by the way, we are loving the Kindles (we got the entry level tablet styles) for what we wanted them for--reading the Kindle books I've collected (knowing I'd go this way eventually) and letting the kids play. The Silk browser is kinda lousy for most things (Facebook, blog updates ahem), but the FreeTime mode is exactly what I was looking for for the boys, who are 8 and 10 but fairly media-shielded, and there is no camera, microphone, etc.

Wishing you an easy settling in to the new year!