Monday, June 28, 2010

MPM--Just Kidding

Hi--you know that fun plan for last week? I was kidding. We went to the beach. But I don't love advertising that on the internet.

Now I really did think I'd be making those things, but HAH! I was kidding myself. I don't cook on vacation--not much, anyway. Gotta get a better plan in place for the trip to the mountains later this summer because that's not how my husband's family rolls.

The good news is, I'm just following last week this week and poof! Planning done.

Have a great week!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

MPM--Summer Starts!

Sometimes you don't know when your last time is your last time, do you? I actually found myself a little nostalgic when I realized I was packing a snack that wouldn't be eaten. My son's last two days of kindergarten involved a party with lots of food on the penultimate day, and the last "day" was all of 86 minutes. So suddenly, those last granola bars were the first snacks of summer instead. Which was fine, but I wasn't ready, and I know I'll be nostalgic when I have to pack an actual lunch next year.

So, here we are, ready for the camp, the pool, the endless days of summer fun. Oh, wait, no camp yet, and the pool closes for what?

Well, get in the kitchen, for one thing. Somehow, despite loathing jello when they were younger, my kids have decided that blue jello is awesome. (Be still, my foodie heart.) So we've made jello, which has been fun, and gotten them back in the kitchen. We made beet salad--not a hit with them, except for the food processor part. We did Father's Day crafts. We made a long list of all the things we want to do this summer, from play tag to visiting the Crayola Factory. And now, getting on board with that, we plan to have a few day trips here and there, so for this week...

Monday: Omaha Steaks stuffed sole; edamame and tomato salad from Simple Fresh Southern via Dinner: A Love Story; potato croquettes, also from Omaha. My children will eat fruit, is my guess, but that's their choice.

Tuesday: Chicken Breasts with Mushrooms and Snap Peas from No Take Out; quinoa instead of orzo b/c that's what I have; salad

Wednesday: grilled something from Omaha (beef probably, but maybe pork; trying to use up marinade); CSA veggies

Thursday:out with friends. Not sure what I'll bring yet.

Friday: pizza, of course; the kids are pining for it, though they have enjoyed the Friday soccer routine too.

And...remember last week when I was kidding about roasting lettuce? Some people don't kid about hot lettuce! Check the Bitten Word's enthusiastic review of a salad with grilled butter lettuce. Wow.

I did eventually make the Captain's Chicken too. I put the thighs and breasts in frozen, as suggested--loved that that worked. My husband loved it, which is not typical for him with slow cooker meals. The texture was still more fally-aparty than I would have liked, but I could at least fish them out in basically one piece. And the rice! I cannot ever seem to get rice correct in the slow cooker; after almost an hour, mine was still a little crunchy in the middle. But it made a lot and it was a hit with the grownups, so I can't complain about that.

I made two salads for our incredibly hot Father's Day cookout--it was a shame, only the cooks could actually be outside, it was so humid and sunny. One of my salads was an Italian layered salad--iceberg, broccoli slaw, chick peas, red onions, topped with mayo and creamy Italian (which, btw, is very, very hard to find anymore--who knew?) and Asiago cheese. Fine, but nothing to write home about, so I'm not linking (besides, there's the recipe, right there, basically). I also made the favorite chick pea salad, to use up my apples and walnuts and it had been a while. My mother-in-law made an awesome cauliflower and zucchini salad; if I get the recipe, I will post it, it was terrific. And I never thought I would like a salad with raw zucchini--not a favorite for me--but this was great!

Finally, many thanks to Food52 for introducing me to the idea of raw radishes dipped in butter and salt. Ok, this shouldn't surprise me--butter and salt are two of the magic ingredients (third is cheese, and sugar if you are eating it). But I thought it sounded gross when I read it. However, I couldn't resist trying it, and wow. Love the way the butter cuts the bitter of the radish. Yum. Now I can't wait to try the tartine too.

Here's hoping your summer is off to a swinging start! Share what you're serving at I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

WFMW--Dollar Store Balloons

I know, this is so obvious as to make you wonder how I get along in the world. But last week, we had six amazing babysitters graduate from our local high school, and while we wanted to honor them, I needed it to be cheap. Also, I hated to get them a tchotche that would either collect dust or get donated before they even left for college. So I decided on balloons from the dollar store. For six regular balloons in the school colors and one mylar graduation balloon, I paid about $4.50. It made a nice little bunch.

My mistake one mistake was trying to carry too many bunches at once; one girl got a dozen balloons because I couldn't untangle them! My other mistake was tying them outside; a seventh bunch for our niece was gone before she ever saw them. But the others were mostly very excited to come outside and see them announcing the happy news. I also used some old gift cards (my mother had made personalized ones for me years ago) and I just wrote "Happy Graduation Day from our family!" with our names, punched a hole in the corner, and tied it to the bunch with ribbon. They looked really cute and made the girls happy. And-added and totally unexpected bonus!-resulted in on-the-spot invitations to three more graduation parties! I had to laugh--that was not our intent at all but it was kind of their families to include us (and it made sense--I know they didn't want to invite us and have it look like a "gift grab" but were happy to include us in the family joy).

Celebratory gifts with big impact for less than $5 works for me! What's working for you this week? Go share here!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

MPM--Last Week of School Edition

Hello, my menu planning friends. How kind of you to stop by, after my uninspired June menus!

I'm still struggling to hit my summer food stride. I'm finding we're out of the house more, and I either want things to bring to the pool (and my kids don't eat sandwiches other than PBJ, which is usually lunch) or things I don't need to cook or don't involve too much time at the stove. This week will reflect that, I'm afraid.

Monday: I'm going to try that Korean beef, honest. And our CSA box comes again so that will impact the sides.

Tuesday: I'm trying the Captain's Chicken from the Crockpot 365 site. Crockpot recipes are helping in this heat. (see below for a good one from my cousin!)

Wednesday: Leftovers (ahhh)

Thursday: Last day of kindergarten for my son! So excited for him and pleased at all he accomplished this year. His end-of-year presentation was awesome. Tacos in his honor.

Friday: We will probably be going to see Thomas the Tank Engine today, for one of the last times, I would imagine, which makes me sad. But I will defrost one of the Dinner A'Fare meals or plan to have Trader Joe's pizza when we get back. (On a different note, my kids tried an inside-out pizza the other day and loved it. It's not hard to love but my older one gets funny about cheese so it was a relief!)

My poor family. I am in a real roasting rut right now. When in doubt (which is often), my answer appears to be: toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast it for a while. What have we done this with? Carrots. Brussels sprouts. Asparagus. Even kale. Sweet potatoes can be roasted at the same time in the oven but even easier: no salt or olive oil necessary, just some stabs with a knife. Same with the beets. Even the Smitten Kitchen potatoes and turnips were roasted. They are lucky I'm not roasting celery and lettuce (, no, probably not).

The good news is, all those roasting recipes were awesome. I had no idea what to do with all those cute little turnips from the CSA, so I threw them in the SK mustard roasted potatoes recipe. Yum. Yum. Yum. The potatoes were better, but the turnips were actually a nice little addition in there. The roasted carrot and avocado salad was a hit again as well, and I have taken now to just broiling off big bags of carrots and calling it a day and using them at lunch or otherwise for me. I like them cold or hot, with the lemon or without. I also tried the carrot salad, although without the harissa it almost seems not fair to say I tried it. But even without that admitted crucial component, it was really good and we enjoyed it quite a bit. OK, me especially but I am a sucker for feta.

On my last post, don't miss commenter Brandy's awesome tweaking of the cannoli dip recipe. Thanks Brandy!

And in my effort to get back on track with summer meals, I pulled out my crockpot, which seemed counterintuitive but makes sense. I don't have to wait over anything hot, and I can start it any old time in the morning and have dinner ready at collapsing time for the kids. This recipe went well though it made a ton--I froze some and did Aid for Friends meals and still we ate it three times this week. Thanks to Jan for providing it!

Jan's Italian Beef
Rump or sirloin tip roast 4 to 5 lbs.
1 8oz. can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cup water
1 pkg. dry Good Seasons Italian salad dressing mix
1 tsp. each of basil, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper

Bring sauce to boil with water and seasonings. Pour over meat in crock pot. Cook all day on low, breaking apart meat. ( I usually shred the meat all day as soon as it is tender enough to come apart)
Its so easy!!!

What are you having this week? List your meals with I'm an Organizing Junkie and inspire us!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

MPM--Not So Much

Wow, wasn't that a great menu plan last week? Wouldn't that have been just awesome?

That wasn't at all the way it worked out in real life.

I can't tell you what we actually ate. We had some leftover pulled pork from the weekend, and another night, my son ate some pretty spicy buffalo chicken meatballs from Trader Joe's while the other rocked a kaiser roll. We swam every day, and the temps were over 90, so we just found ourselves staying at the pool, snarfing berries and watermelon and calling it a meal. Sounds good, and worked fine, but a little dicey in practice.

So with that, my new, more realistic June plan:

Monday: Italian beef in the slow cooker, roasted potatoes and turnips (hello, CSA season, how I have missed you); salad

Tuesday: Wednesday Spaghetti. Woohoo! I'll bring the ever popular Something. We'll have to see how hot it is.

Wednesday: leftover beef in sandwiches or with rice, depending on what's in the house; some green veggie, probably asparagus

Thursday: something from the freezer that doesn't involve much cooking. Last week's fail was that it was over 90 and I didn't want to stand over the stove in that weather.

Friday: Graduation/soccer/swim team...I have no idea where dinner will be ingested but I will travel with snacks all afternoon!

There was one new recipe I tried last week and it worked out great: my sister in law mentioned that she went to a party and the hostess served cannoli dip with Nilla Wafers and strawberries for dipping. "It was so good," my sister in law said, "I didn't ask for the recipe. I knew I couldn't have it in the house for any amount of time." As I was hosting a Silpada party as a fundraiser, that sounded about right to me. So I googled and found this recipe and, um, yeah. Not as amazing as a real South Philly cannoli but very easy and awfully good. I subbed mini chips (why chop chips, really?) but otherwise, stuck with it. And mmmmmmmm, it was a big hit.

Go see I'm an Organizing Junkie! for great menu plans!