Sunday, December 30, 2012

MPM--Last Post of 2012!

I am just a horror of a person about the "last times!" and "first times!" and "last time this year!"s. I drive my kids crazy with that. But for time-challenged me, I think it helps.

We are ending 2012 with an uninvited guest: I almost stepped on a mouse on my way down the steps to the laundry. The dog was psyched but since the mouse was not moving (but alive) I didn't want her anywhere near it. So we're doing still more dry-good removal this week.

Monday: What are you doing New Year's Eve? We have a kids' party to go to and then I think we will come home and enjoy the Wii that Santa brought. (Oh, that Santa.) Growing up, our family's tradition was lobster tails on New Year's Eve. I don't see it happening for us. I made some leek potato soup and we will augment that with...something.

Tuesday: Happy new year! We are hosting the birthday party for my father-in-law, a New Year's Day baby. Pulled pork (from my standby crockpot recipe on sidebar), potato salad (from Colonial Village), more pizza dip (last time! this finishes all the extra ingredients around the house for the year). I might also make meatballs (see below...) and there will be creamed onions, his favorite, and some other good things, I hope.

Wednesday: Back to school, but my husband and I have off so a little pressure off as well. Dare I say it? We are thinking of doing a Wednesday spaghetti for our neighbors and check that off the list for 2013 in a hurry. Here's hoping by putting it down I actually do it!

Thursday: Taco Thursday (maybe a new thing for 2013?)

Friday: Now, finally, the last of the freezer cleanout. We are getting rolling on our home renovations and I need to clear the shelves, both frozen and traditional. So it should be an interesting meal...probably some chicken fingers, some soup, and not sure what else!

Holiday Wrap-Up: For Christmas hors d'ouvres fest, we brought a cheese plate (my picky boy son fell in love with Seven Sisters cheese, I enjoyed the Tallegio, and so we vamped and got some).

The cranberry-pecan dip I made was really more of a garlic-rosemary dip, but in my world, that's a fine thing. It wasn't a hit with the family, but I liked it. And hot pizza dip (see sidebar) never goes wrong and mac and cheese (ditto). I also did the rosemary bean spread, and that worked too.

Our seven fishes this year: tinned smoked oysters; Trader Joe's bacon-wrapped scallops; Co-Op sushi and lobster mac & cheese (uh, yum); shrimp cocktail; salmon; and crabcakes. Next year I need to remember sauces for things (tartar, cocktail, etc.), but otherwise, it was very good. Boys had pizza, of course.

Looking for more new year planning ideas? Try I'm an Organizing Junkie, and best wishes for 2013!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

MPM--The Crowning of the Year

I have Percy Faith's "Happy Holidays" ringing through my head, and I am trying to get in the spirit of the season, but it is hard. Hard from last week, hard because my best friend's father died (on her birthday no less), but still: it is Christmas. We've made our house fair as we are able (and I thank my internet blogfriends for that); we made pretzel hugs, salted pecans, and the mac and cheese is next; other stuff is in the freezer, just awaiting defrosting and we'll be set.

And to be fair, we had an amazing, magical season. Both boys are still believers, which helps SO much. This is a good sweet spot of parenting, and I love being here.

This week:

Monday: Christmas Eve--our version of seven fishes, down to the traditional pizza for the boys. This year: smoked oysters (from a tin), scallops wrapped in bacon (from Trader Joe's), California rolls (from the Co-op), and from my seafood place: shrimp cocktail, lobster bisque, crabcakes, and salmon. Broccoli on the side; cannoli from the Reading Terminal Market for dessert. And of course--cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer!

Tuesday: Christmas dinner. My sisters-in-law insist that "everyone" likes appetizers and desserts better than a full sit down meal. I agree that the "sit down" part is a challenge with all of us (40ish?) together and I do love the snacks for dinner. We are bringing frozen cream puffs from BJs, hot pizza dip (see sidebar) and a new cranberry dip recipe that looked irresistible to me at least. I am also hoping to make the cannelini bean dip (heat some oil with rosemary; remove rosemary; add oil to beans and whir in food processor to creamy).

Wednesday: Boxing Day. Usually we have a very casual "from a box" Boxing Day brunch. This year, we have four grownups who have to work that day so it moved to dinner, and my mother in law is thrilled and making roast beef and ham and a proper Christmas dinner. I'm all for it. We'll bring mac and cheese and if I can get my full sized food processor going, carrot mousse.

Thursday: Collapse in a heap day. You don't think a week goes by without tacos, do you?

Friday: Oh, Friday. This is the night of the viewing. I will eat out; boys will be on their own. Fortunately they are having pizza for lunch so with any luck we will just order big and have extra.

Wishing you a week full of light and love and whatever makes this season one of comfort and joy for you. Thank you for reading. You inspire me to stay organized and to take good care of my family in a way that doesn't come naturally to me (planning ahead, for one, and cooking, for another). See you on New Year's Eve! And if you need other ideas for your next few days, try the astounding list at I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

MPM--Round Numbers

Last week's misbegotten efforts from the phone? Post number 500. 

Hearts broken last Friday? Infinite. 

I have so many teachers in my family...and so many who were so influential in my life and in the lives of my kids. If I can work my way up to it, I will do a post in their honor. But for now...all I can do is plan to get through the week and hope to keep things holiday appropriate for my kids.

If you have a moment, spare a thought for one of my blogging and real-life friends, whose close friend lost a child in Sandy Hook last week. This child had visited her home as recently as the summer. My heart breaks with hers, and she represents thousands upon thousands of us as she goes to grieve with and support the family. I ache for them all.

This week:

Monday: Kids' Night Out with the elementary school. I'll buy dinner. I'm still feeling generous. (Last Friday was, I think, the kids' favorite night ever. Cookies for snack? Sure! Popcorn for dinner? Sounds good! Snuggling on the sofa for Christmas specials marathon? You got it.) 

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday

Wednesday: probably Crazy Jane's chicken, broccoli, some starch. Potato? Unclear.

Thursday: Another freezer meal--I am truly embarrassed at how many months that took. Not like I was eating every day from the freezer, but every week there was something.

Friday: Not sure--could be spaghetti and meatballs, could be more freezer food. 

Using lots of nuts for the holidays has helped with the freezer. So has the butter.

Wishing you a week with good meals with your family and other loved ones. Go to I'm an Organizing Junkie for more ideas for your family's meals. And do thank a teacher today.

Monday, December 10, 2012

MPM--Not as Thoroughly Modern Maybe

Well. I've never posted from my phone before and I am not eager to do it again, but I'm in a pinch. 
So I'll keep it short. Last week I got to the autumn salad and the adults enjoyed. The pork was a moderate hit. And the freezer is down to staples and stuff for Christmas and one meal. Woohoo!

Monday: Chinese fundraiser, yeah!

Tuesday: pizza fundraiser--I could get used to this. 

Wednesday: leftovers--takeout and weekend pork, pesto quinoa

Thursday: taco Thursday

Friday: that last freezer meal

Really will have to do this later but needed to think it through. Happy week all! Go see I'm an Organizing Junkie for more normal entries!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

MPM--Well, December Just Sneaked Right On Up On Me

Yeah, it's time. I'm going there.

Merry Advent! We had a good week last week. I decided to clean out the fridge in addition to the freezer and spent a cold Sunday doing roast-a-rama--beets I forgot I had, carrots, brussels sprouts; and then I made a leek-potato-carrot soup out of the Bittman How to Cook Everything. That made a ton of soup, and it was bland but a great base for whatever we felt like sprinkling on it. That set us up for a good week. Oh, and I cooked down the onions and fennel into the caramelized wonder (see sidebar). Delicious. It looked awful but I ate it all so it didn't matter! Alliums FTW.

This week: hoping for another good week!

Monday: Happy birthday to me! I'm not cooking. We're trying a new-to-us pizza place that supposedly invented the stromboli. New restaurant? Check. Easy on a school night? Check. Cheap in the schema of restaurants? Check. Yay!

Tuesday: And twice in a row, we're out, woohoo! Lego build calls.

Wednesday: Unclear. We might sneak out for a midweek date and if we do, it'll include dinner and kids will have defrosted buffalo chicken meatballs from Trader Joe's. If not, I didn't make the pork tenderloin last week, so it's time this week.

Thursday: Taco Tuesday makes me happy too. Of course this is a day that I am having some dental work done, so I'm not sure what I'll be eating, but tacos will work for everyone else.

Friday: Unclear. The pork tenderloins are high on the list if they don't happen Wednesday.

So, last week was a good week, overall. We went out for my husband's birthday, so we had leftovers, which is how the pork is getting bumped to this week. The teriyaki beef was ok, certainly couldn't have been any easier, but was only a hit with the grownups and only a moderate hit at that. I froze most to give to Aid for Friends. I also used Soy Vey Teriyaki sauce and another sauce might work better in this case. I also have half a bottle left so if anyone has a great Soy Vey recipe to recommend, I'm all ears for next week.

Wishing you a great Advent, if you celebrate, and a Happy Hannukah, if you celebrate. Have a great week, and check I'm an Organizing Junkie! for better menus!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

MPM--Still Thankful

(I'm going to buck the trend around here and use the fall motif for one last week.)

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a great long weekend.

We were very thankful for many things but had a bit of a bad pet week--our fish died (it was a carnival fish, and it was 5+ years later), and our dog got out and tore her other ACL (known as a CCL in a dog), so she's on lockdown and bedrest (note: good luck with that) for four weeks, but it could have been so much worse. On the other hand, after Thanksgiving itself, we had almost nothing to do and so the house is in great shape. We crushed through tons of paper and other things and moved it right along.

Which is good, because this is a bit of a disjointed week; we're hoping it's the first actual whole week of school for November but all bets are off. Nights are a little loopy too, so this is all Subject to Change...

First, sides: I am making this salad, roasted brussels sprouts, and the fennel and celery salad on the sidebar at various points this week. (Or I might do the caramelized fennel and onions, depending on how coordinated I feel.)

Monday: trying something new, thanks to OrgJunkie herself--slow cooker teriyaki beef with pineapple. Three ingredients and beef, which I feel like I have better luck with in the slow cooker. Rice, broccoli.

Tuesday: taco Tuesday, of course.

Wednesday: In the final freezer countdown, I found pork tenderloins, so I will probably use the Joanne's Pork Tenderloin recipe (it can simultaneously defrost and marinate, right?). I also have a 6pm meeting this night so I'm hoping for a good slow cooker find!

Thursday: Not sure how we'll finesse this night, my husband and I are both working late, so I'll probably make chicken nuggets for the kids and something else from the freezer for us whenever we get home.

Friday: If there are leftovers, that will work. If not, we'll finish the freezer cleanout. (wahoo! it will be defrosted during advent; this is progress)

Wishing you a great week and relaxed holiday prep! Go see I'm an Organizing Junkie for more meal planning ideas.

Monday, November 19, 2012

MPM-Thanksgiving, Already? Really?

Yah, really. We are very excited here but it is a bit strange. It seems really early this year, but it could also be my almost complete lack of obsessing about the holidays. I'm having trouble getting myself psyched up for it but I'm hoping that changes soon. It had better!

This week:

Monday: Almost done eating down the freezer! Of course I keep filling it back up again but mostly with stuff that will be leaving shortly, like bread (I buy my favorite one in bulk at BJs and freeze until ready to use), or Aid for Friends meals. But I digress. Last Dinner A'Fare meal (some beef on skewers variant), roasted brussels sprouts, rice.

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday, naturally.

Wednesday: Pre-holiday fast! Kidding. Leftovers & freezer meal--I have some buffalo chicken meatballs from Trader Joe's for the kids, and whatever my husband and I can scrounge up.

Thursday: Merry Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope you find lots to be thankful for. I'm thankful to be bringing carrot mousse, beer, and pies someone else will have made. Though I will probably also make the cranberry blondies and bring the little cream puffs to get them out of the freezer too.

Friday: The one drawback to not hosting: no leftovers. It's ok. I'll move on. My husband is actually off this day this year, which is an awesome change. We'll figure out something, probably the Trader Joe's stuff in the freezer.

Or...did I mention it's my husband's birthday? One of these days, we'll be going out. I am psyched for date night but also steeling myself for the expense. I thought one of our bills was on automatic pay but surprise, it wasn't--which means it has gone unpaid for two months and is now a whopper.

Last week, I did finally make the crockpot chicken--it smelled so good while it cooked but it still had the dry-yet-tender thing that crockpot chicken tends to get. It was fine, people ate it, but it wasn't a huge winner.

One other roundabout kitchen note: our fish died. I don't think I've written about him much here, if at all; he was a carnival prize won several years ago by one of the cousins, and he and another fish came home with us from the mountains. The other one died shortly after arriving at home but this fish just kept on going. He was with us for more than five years and grew to about ten times his original size. I noticed a tumor on his lip a few weeks ago but googled the wrong keywords until it was too late to treat him. I was sadder than I thought he would be, though (back to my kitchen)--it is nice to regain so much counter space. I just wish it happened some other way.

Wishing you all good things this Thanksgiving and many blessings to count. For more inspiring meals, check I'm an Organizing Junkie! and see what's going on there. See you on the other side of the Christmas shopping season!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

MPM-The Lost Month Continues

Hello from Soccerville! While the kids' (and husband's!) season is over, the playoffs are rocking around here. Hurricane Sandy moved the Big East soccer championships to our local venue, so we spent a fun day cheering on Notre Dame to victory there. And in D-3 action, another local team is romping through their playoffs as well, so we've been very soccer social lately.

This week, school conferences start. I always enjoy the extra time with the boys but wow, on the heels of the three days off for the hurricane, plus election day, it's a bit of a lost month. And now to add to the lost school time: Younger Son had a mishap with a nerf gun and has a huge chip to his front tooth. Off to the dentist we go...

Monday: crockpot beef stroganoff, egg noodles, broccoli

Tuesday: taco Tuesday--back in the swing.

Wednesday: trying the whole chicken in the crockpot recipe. I hope. Roasted potatoes, salad, peas.

Thursday: half days begin! Hoping for leftovers. If not, there are just a few things still in the freezer we can make.

Friday: Unclear. We'll see how the week goes. I would love to go out but we've had other splurges this week so I should probably just get my act together and be here.

One new recipe: I made lamb chops (unusual for us) from this recipe and it was great. Older son did not enjoy but younger one did, and Dad most certainly did.

The freezer is almost clear, just in time to fill it for the holidays. My husband didn't totally believe me when I said that Thanksgiving was next week, but it's true! And the truncated school weeks continue...

Here's wishing you a great week of dinners and dental health. Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie! for more great menu plans!

Monday, November 5, 2012

MPM--Oh Sandy Baby

Sandy, Sandy, Sandy. Why'd'ja gotta be so harrrrd on my friends and places I love? We have so many friends in NY and the Jersey shore, it was very difficult to see what happened to places that brought us so much joy.

But, unlike Irene, who left us without electricity for several days last year, Sandy was pretty kind to us and gave us a one-hour outage. Big shout-out to Com Ed from Chicago, who worked their butts off out here to get us all back online quickly. (I tried to leave them a message on the website, but no go. So I'll say it here: those guys rocked. I hope they all got home safe and sound with lots of good overtime to their families because they kept our families safe and cared for and I am totally grateful to them for it.)

But I loved having two--no, wait, three--days off with the boys. (While we were at the party--see below--the phones started buzzing that there was one more day off--Halloween. These Halloweens are getting very memorable...) We finally caught up to The Lorax movie, I heard from old friends who were anxious (rightfully) looking at the weather maps, we got the basement together for our new heater (and just in time)...overall, I am crazy-grateful, and doing and donating what I can to make it better for those who were affected so much more than we were.

This, hopefully natural disaster free, week:

Monday: crock pot pork roast sandwiches, salad, roasted cauliflower

Tuesday: out! Lego Build, baby.

Wednesday: potato chip chicken from the freezer (almost done the cleanout, woo!), broccoli, salad

Thursday: taco Thursday. I'm almost liking this better than Taco Tuesday.

Friday: Unclear. Home football games are over, which is a good thing, so maybe back to pizza. If not, I do have one fish dish left from Dinner A'fare, and maybe we'll do that.

So for Sandy, I did Jan's Italian Beef sandwiches (see sidebar) though with a much smaller roast--I liked it better that way, actually, and will try to remember that.

The other thing that came out of Sandy: an impromptu surprise party for a friend, to celebrate her and also to get our crazed kids out of the house the night before Halloween. They needed cakes, so I made cakes: my favorite chocolate chip bundt, and a new one for us, Catherine Newman's Buttermilk Cake. The buttermilk cake made me feel like a bad mother because my kids kept getting in the way of my fantasy good-mom-baking-with-her-kids routine, by wandering in and out or otherwise complicating things. I will say, I didn't lose my sh*t until it was the third time I had to re-do something, and the boys got it and moved out of my way. (The egg separating? Let's just say it was a good thing that eggs were 18 for $1.88. We had about 6 left by the end of the afternoon. Then I didn't read and used self-rising flour for some of the flour mixture...but that should have been a sign to me because my usually-very-reliable reader swore up and down that it was 1/2 tsp of baking powder and baking soda...when it was 1 and 1/2. Stuff like that.) So in the end, the cake went in the oven with 2 sticks of butter, instead of one and a half, and 1/3 of the baking powder and soda that was supposed to be there. But it came out delicious anyway, almost like caramel, and then I went for broke in the Catherine Newman department and put her best-ever cream cheese frosting on top. I might add a little less cream next time, because I had trouble getting it to set in any way, shape, or form. But it was tasty and made me feel like a good friend--I baked a cake! From scratch! Alas, the whole "asking the kids to leave the kitchen" is not very Catherine Newman of me, so the victory was hollow. But I tried, and I didn't yell, and we did spend a lot of time together, and they learned a lot about careful reading of recipes and how to separate and egg and what it means to cream butter. So it's a partial win. And the cake was really, really good.

If you are reading this, that means you have electricity and hopefully heat and all good things. Our little corner of the world is doing ok Sandy-wise but we have had some other bleak happenings (bleakest: our district lost a first grader this weekend) so I'm going to be Yet Another Person in the parade of people saying: look out for each other. Be kind with each other. And most of all, be kind with yourself. I'm not proud I started losing it over eggs and flour. I am proud that I didn't yell...that's progress. So I'm hanging on to that and moving along. Hug your kids tight, if you have 'em. Donate to a relief agency. Enjoy those leaves as they turn. And have a great week. Check out I'm An Organizing Junkie! to see other ideas for your dinners this week.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

MPM--Rock Me Like a Hurricane

Well, so here we are with an unexpected four day weekend. The crock pot is going and I'm about to brown the taco meat, figuring even with minimal refrigeration we can use those. They just cancelled school for the kids until Wednesday (Halloween! wooo!) so this is a bit of a wasted week educationally. Here's hoping we keep our electricity for a while though!

Meanwhile, I'm feeling very clever for having started eating down the freezer. With some more flatbreads out and some smoothies tonight, we are really close to empty, which is awesome if we lose power.

Monday: Jan's Italian Beef sandwiches, vegetables (though this recipe looks awesome for the next one)

Tuesday: if God is good, Taco Tuesday.

Wednesday: Depends on whether we have electricity and gas. Barbeque chip chicken from the freezer, hopefully, plus veggies. (My word, is my CSA done? I think it is. I'll have to shop again!)

Thursday: Wow, it's hard to plan without knowing whether we're camping or not. (By camping, of course, I mean "living well in our own home but without power." We'll vamp.

Friday: Oh, this I'm excited about. We're mentoring a student in our local high school and he asked us to accompany him on the field for Senior Recognition Night at the last football game. So we'll have dinner over at the middle school and kvell a bit about his senior season.

Have a good week, all. Stay safe. Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for other, less distracted ideas!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

MPM--That Fast Forward Season Begins

I have been dragging my feet putting up the Halloween decorations. We always wait until after the Columbus Day birthday of the one boy, but we're well beyond that now and we took this gorgeous Sunday to deck out the house. But I felt very petulant about taking down the kindergarten apple tree projects to make way for pumpkins, but as I went through the attic, I realized why: This is it. For all my Christmas countdowns, this is the week where the holiday frenetic time begins.

That's not totally fair to fall; it is just really getting started here, as I only see red leaves out one window and all green and gold elsewhere. But sweeping the steps is a daily occurrence now, and pulling out those pumpkins that share space with the turkeys who are the harbingers of Christmas...that just made me take a deep breath and get serious. It's fun, the orange and black; and I love the crunch of the leaves and the long sleeved shirts and the snuggling under the blankets. But things are definitely moving right along, and I have to start moving with them.

On a fun fall note, the younger boy's football season ended this week and on the great note of him scoring a touchdown. We were thrilled for him--what a way to end the season. Now we're down to "just" soccer for the next few weeks before the brief holiday respite from soccer.

So, this week, back to eating down the freezer. And back to 70 degree temps, woohoo! It's the best, but not inspirational for some of the meals I'd like to be making. Too bad. We'll move on.

Monday: chicken with leeks from my freezer, mixed grains from TJ's.

Tuesday: Totally forgot the chimichangas last week, so tacos and chimichangas.

Wednesday: Hoping to make the whole crockpot chicken. Will let you know how that works out. Plus CSA veggies and we're good to go.

Thursday: I'm working this night so probably pesto quinoa for the boys and pesto noodles and leftovers for the dad

Friday: Football. Woo!

So last week's two hits were the pork with cider cream gravy (of course--that stuff is amazing, even with the crummy cider my store switched to) and the mixed grains with vegetables from Trader Joe's. My older son loved it and ate about half the bag. We made it the same way the store did, with coconut oil. It really is good, and since young Mr. Picky won't eat any of it, we could make do.

Have a great week, all, with happy meals and good fall nights to you! Try I'm an Organizing Junkie! for more meal plans!

PS--I lost a subscriber this week. I can't figure out who it was because I do this for fun more than profit (ha ha, profit), and having just purged my blog list myself, I totally get it and don't take it personally, but for those of you still here: Thanks. It's fun writing for you all.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

MPM--So Perhaps I Should Learn from my Own Blog

So one of the reasons I keep this blog is so I can refer to the past and learn things. I had a big at-home roasting day on Monday (beets! potatoes!) and wanted to take care of the delicata squash I had hanging around while the stove was hot. So I googled it on my own blog to see what recipes I liked. And as it turned out, last year in the first week in October--my freezer frosted itself open and I had an angsty moment on the blog about whether we should ditch the freezer or not. This year--the answer should be Yeah.

All that, but I did not find a delicata squash recipe. So I made this one. It was ok, but not great. And the boys, of course, would not touch it. I liked it ok dipped in Trader Joe's sweet chili sauce that I usually keep around for sweet potato fries but I think I will pass the delicata squash to my CSA partner in the future (or get her recipe). I liked it braised (can you braise a vegetable? is that a dumb question? am I allowed to keep a food blog and not know the answer to that question?) or steamed, I guess, but my usual roast-it-you'll-love-it standby prep did not work. Sigh. I think I over-roasted and under-salted (for me). Hopefully it was nutritionally good for me at least. See below for more of the fall cookfest.

The other nice thing was that it reminded me of other recipes we loved, so this week, in addition to working down the freezer (hopefully for the last time for this freezer):

Sunday: eat down the freezer, fire up the grill: finishing the "should be grilled" meals from Dinner A'Fare, plus beets and squash from last week.

Monday: Pork roast with cider-cream gravy, potatoes, caramelized onion and fennel

Tuesday: the blessing that is Taco Tuesday returns. This week, we'll be joined by Beef Chimichangas from the awesome freezer meal exchange my Mothers & More group did.

Wednesday: from the freezer: potato chip chicken (Dinner A'Fare), sweet potato fries (from Trader Joe's), something from the CSA box.

Thursday: Last football practice! I'm a little sad, but that's a good thing--it beats the "OH THANK GOODNESS" reaction. For dinner: from the freezer, tilapia from Dinner A'Fare, mixed grains and veggies from Trader Joe's, and CSA stuff.

Friday: Spaghetti night for the boys, with stuffed shells from the freezer meal trade for the grownups. (And hey, the kids are welcome to join but I don't see it happening.)

So last Monday was Columbus Day (or Thanksgiving, for my Canadian readers) and my office gives us a choice of Columbus Day or Veterans' Day off. I was going for Veterans' Day because I had so much work to do. But then my voicemail shut down and my email locked me out so I had a day with some paperwork but without the cyber connections? It was closer to a vacation day. So I cooked. I had a fridge full of veggies, a freezer ready to burst...pumpkin muffins? Check. Roasted 20+ beets and delicata squash? Check. Premade taco Tuesday meat? Check. I had Pandora on the Today's Hits station (I was still on a dance high from my cousin's awesome wedding we went to over the weekend) and danced around my kitchen and made all kinds of stuff. I also made the pork chops with kale. It was easy but it wasn't quick--I think I just need to accept that my idea of quick and someone-who-is-actually-accomplished-in-the-kitchen's idea of quick are two different things. This really grew on me. I think I have a serious mental block against kale, despite (because of?) my Irish heritage) and I found myself scoffing at the description of the "silky" kale. But while I was ready to write this off and go back to kale chips after the first night, I found myself thinking about this the next day and couldn't wait to have the kale and tomato-y sauce again. The pork was unremarkable, but I did enjoy it with the kale and sauce.

That cooking day also afforded me the chance to finally make the zero point soup, but really, that was silly since it makes a ton and (wait for it) it has to go in the freezer. Sigh. Aid for Friends did all right by me this week. In addition to the completely unhealthy franks-and-beans, they got lots of organic squash and beets. Welcome to Schizo Kitchen.

In the continuing effort to eat the freezer empty, I used the final pork chops for this recipe with the apples and onions hanging around the house. It was fantastic. I was fretting because my onions weren't as caramelized as the ones in the picture, but they were still delicious, at least for the grownups.  The kids liked the pork but not necessarily the onions and apples. Whatever. I'll take it. We all enjoyed. And I liked getting some new things in the rotation.

So the freezer emptying is moving along just fine. We are smoothie-ing up a storm to use the frozen veggies, or at least get them to a point where they will fit in the upstairs (smaller) freezer. Also? Lots of nuts. The ice cream is gone now, and the popsicles are surprisingly popular given the winter-is-on-its-way weather. I'm working on staying in the habit of checking the freezer first so hopefully that will be done by Christmas season. Last week I took one son to see Finding Nemo in 3D and now I keep quoting Dory to myself: just keep swimming. That's all I can do.

Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie! for more festive fall recipes!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

MPM--Just a Little Weather

Living in the moment. We have a little routine going, the kids are happy and settled, my job is demanding but terrific, and things are going smoothly.

That's not to say that there aren't flies in the ointment (eww, I don't know why I let that terminology anywhere near a meal plan), but when the biggest problem I have is that the freezer is opening itself due to needing defrosting--I'm leading a really nice life.

That said...I think we're going to empty the freezer(s) and eliminate the extra. It's upright and not frost free and I think we're done with the experiment. Now that we don't need as much space for bulky baby-toddler gear in the garage, I think we're going to get a chest freezer at some point when the budget supports.

But as you might imagine-that freezer clearing impacts the plan for the week. And it's all in a good way, when I only have to get perishables for the weekly shopping. Bonus!

Sunday extra: in an effort to use all the veggies rattling around the fridge, we're trying the Dinner: A Love Story pork chops with kale. Wish me luck. With it, roasted beets and Smitten Kitchen's napa cabbage with buttermilk dressing salad. (I love the CSA on rainy Sundays when I have time to cook.)

Monday: whole crockpot chicken, roasted potatoes, beets (same recipe as last week--due to the freezer melt I didn't make it then, since some chicken breasts defrosted and I had to use them right away. I did the crockpot chicken-in-salsa, which honestly is the single best recipe I have in bang-for-the-buck--put meat in pot, pour jarred salsa over it, set on low 8 hours, walk away.)

Tuesday: Yay Taco Tuesday.

Wednesday: Hawaiian party at the library! I want to try this recipe for Hawaiian chicken (if the sauce has no red dye in it); otherwise, I'll try this one. Rice will work, and something from the CSA on the side. Aloha!

Thursday: with the pork chops from the freezer: Dinner: A Love Story's pork chops tonight (also because I forgot I bought apples and bought apples, and got them in the CSA).

Friday: How is it possible to have a 9 year old? (Those of you with teens, feel free to laugh.) He wants to celebrate with friends at the football game that night. Sounds fun to me.

We'll be celebrating in other ways in the upcoming weeks and look forward to that too. Wishing you a great week and yummy dinners with your family! Check I'm an Organizing Junkie! for the best recipe collection on the web.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

MPM--Yes, Less than 100

Welcome back! Yes, dear reliable commenter, it's less than 100 days to Christmas. Now it is less than 90. I would say "I'm behind," but that's silly. I'm just not as ahead as I meant to be.

We had a great filet of fall weekend, with my niece and her husband visiting from DC, soccer, football, a memorial walk, lots of family, lots of crisp air and jeans and outside time. And glory be, baseball is almost over. I'm giddy. (I love baseball but with a Phils obsessed husband, it goes on TOO LONG.)

This week is a busy one but it's really just on-schedule. I am pleased to have a normal, settled week. The cello is fixed and ready to go; the sports seasons are underway and doing fine, the language classes started and things are humming. So dinners:

Monday: it must be fall, I'm obsessed with my crockpot. I'm trying two new crockpot chicken recipes in 2 weeks here. I will try this one this week, for a whole chicken. On the side: this awesome and easy zucchini recipe from Smitten Kitchen. How did I go all summer without this? I ate it weekly last summer.

Tuesday: Oh, I'm so happy it's the Lego Build. That takes care of one extra night of cooking (or not cooking).

Wednesday: Leftover spaghetti and meatballs from the weekend. For kicks I might make zucchini tots to go with it. I have SO much zucchini to use this week. (Or freeze. I keep forgetting that's an option too.)

Thursday: Taco Tuesday on Thursday. Happy about that.

Friday: Fall Fest, and the start of The Weekend That Never Ends (TM) (so named by my husband, since we have an amazingly great weekend but boy howdy is it jam packed). At least they will serve pizza for dinner at Fall Fest so that's settled at least.

I tried to get out of our rut and tried a new recipe--crock pot buffalo chicken wraps. They were a qualified success. Mr. Picky actually ate some lettuce, which was a small miracle. He didn't like it, but he ate it, and I wanted to weep with joy. The real problem: I only had generic hot sauce, because I don't use that much of it. But the comments suggest, and I believe, that it is better with a brand name (in particular, Frank's), so I'll try that next time. I was also out of blue cheese dressing, so I took advantage of the opportunity to try the accompanying recipe. This was also a qualified success; I don't think I let the flavors mix long enough, I only had regular mayo, and I forgot the garlic powder. I haven't run the numbers against some of my usual favorite bleu cheese dressings to see if there is enough of a calorie difference to get past it. And honestly--I've had worse from a bottle, though I have also had better. Lastly, if you make it--don't chop the onion that small. I will do onion chunks next time--it was too hard to chase the onion away from the chicken (and it wasn't tasty).

But now I'm obsessed with pulled chicken. What can I do with it beyond tacos and BBQ?

Yay me: this marks my one-year anniversary of my job. I don't know if that means I can still call it a "new" job anymore but while on the one hand, the re-entry is bumpy, I love love love the work and the people and I am so so grateful for it. It does make things like finding kitchen mojo time difficult but really? A small price to pay. Now if I could just find my Blackberry, I'd be in business.

Hoping your fall is full of things you love. Go check out I'm an Organizing Junkie! for some amazing menu plans!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

MPM--I Keep On Falling

Happy Autumn everyone! I hope the new season treats us all gently.

The first fall of fall here was a hugeonic branch right on my car. I was sooooo lucky--no one was in it, and no real damage was done to the car, just lots of scratches and when I got in the car, everything that snaps up (the sunglasses holder, the sunshields, etc.) was down. So I'm very grateful no one was in the car when it happened. Here's hoping that was the last gasp of a semi-unlucky summer.

So here we are, weather getting in gear for fall and sports seasons in swing and swim stuff all put away. I'm in the midst of back-to-work craziness and trying to keep it simple, but trying to introduce some new things too...wish me luck!

Monday: New recipe time. I'm trying these buffalo chicken wraps and hoping they are as big a hit as the buffalo chicken meatballs from Trader Joe's. Not sure what I'll do for a side with carrots and celery in the dish but I'll think of something. (This looks good, and I have the beets and feta. The real question is the time.)

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday, yay

Wednesday: apple sausage bake and whatever is in the box.

Thursday: Leftovers, yay, or freezer meal.

Friday: Football game, probably, but I am trying hard to eat before the games this year because wow, while I am happy to support the team by getting something at the concession stand, the dinners add up in a big stinking hurry.

And that's the week that will be! Our niece and her husband are coming to visit for the weekend so we'll see how it goes...we usually try some Smitten Kitchen recipes but we'll be doing a lot in the weekend anyway (a memorial walk for my sister in law, kids' football and soccer games) so this might not be the visit for that.

Wishing you and yours a great week, and I will point you to I'm an Organizing Junkie! for the most diverse set of menus planned on the web!

PS--who else noticed that we're in to the "less than 100 days to Christmas" time? One of my favorite blogs, name (what else?) 100 Days to Christmas, just started back up again. It's a little less angst-inducing than the Holiday Grand Plan but keeps me on track. Take a look!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

MPM--Aw, Man Edition

Wow--through some lucky fluke of timing, I ended up #2 on last weeks list and it was about the most lame MPM I've put up in forever. Had I known, I would have been more welcoming and kicked it up a notch, as they say. Ah well. (And so much for Org Junkie's oft-stated assertion that "where you are in the list doesn't matter for traffic." Oh, it does.)

This week should be fun. It starts with a day off from school and goes on from there. Football, high school back to school night, a birthday party in's a good one. I do miss summer but I am enjoying this time back in school. It's the best of both worlds--still Jersey corn and tomatoes for the table, peaches for after, and schedule and routine to keep us on track. It's a beautiful thing.

Monday: pulled pork sandwiches from my crock pot recipe, salad, roasted beets, kale chips

Tuesday: taco Tuesday, praise be. (By the way--I made up a new batch of the taco mix and thought, oh, why not do tablespoons instead of teaspoons? The ratios will stay the same. That's true, but wow, is it ever a huge container! I am not very good at estimating volume.)

Wednesday: leftover chicken breasts from Sunday, whatever is in our CSA box

Thursday: leftover pork from Monday, probably with BBQ sauce this time to jazz it up, roasted potatoes,

Friday: football game, woo! The lines are too long and annoying so we'll eat before, probably pizza or noodles, whatever I feel like.

Only one new recipe for me last week; I tried the BooMama diptacular Swiss cheese and almond dip. I liked it (a lot) but didn't love it, exactly, but it is worthy to try to figure out what is missing because it was an excellent base for sure.

Here's hoping you have an awesome week and are getting in to whatever routine makes you and your family happy and functional. Go check out I'm an Organizing Junkie! for more weeklong menus, and thanks so much for stopping by!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

MPM--Here We Go Again

As first weeks go--this one was good. Boys are settled in to their classrooms, homework is ramping up just enough, and we are working on new routines for us all. This week:

Monday: leftover Italian from the weekend, supplemented with veggies from last week (beets, green beans, salad) to clear out the fridge for this week's CSA stuff.

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday, of course.

Wednesday: Football and meeting for mom, so easy. Quinoa pesto for boys, Mac and Cheese for dad, yogurt and quinoa salad (quinoa, chick peas, cherry tomatoes, green beans, vinaigrette) for mom.

Thursday: Back to school night. Freezer meal of some kind and CSA veggies.

Friday: Football game! Though alas, "our" player dislocated his shoulder in his wrestling meet this weekend. Sigh.

The sports and school and work whirl is upon us but I will try to keep posting (if for no other reason so that I have somewhere to look for diner ideas!). Wishing you a great week and happy dinners! For more links and ideas--try I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Monday, September 3, 2012

MPM--Summer's End

Well. That summer ended with a bang. Labor Day was full of unexpectedness so this will be short as I am now pulling together school bags for tomorrow.

Monday: On the road.

Tuesday: Lego Build! Boys will be psyched after first day of school, I hope.

Wednesday: Did I mention this was a week of unexpectedness? Alas, we will be having a funeral dinner. My aunt passed away this weekend. She was 90 so it's hard to call it a surprise but she was fine last week and the end came quickly.

Thursday: Taco Thursday

Friday: Darn, I thought it was a football game but it's away so I'll have to cook twice this week. So it goes. Something from Dinner A'Fare and the CSA veggies.

In the plus category of the weekend: Younger Brother (Mr. Picky) is now 7! He had a great birthday, which included playing in his first football game, which went well. We had a great trip to the mountains, complete with minor league baseball and fireworks. Lots of family time, lots of tucking in things from the summer list--it was a great week. But I'm ready. It's time.

Wishing you a great week with no curve balls! Check I'm an Organizing Junkie for better meal plans!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

MPM--Last Gasps of Summer

I wasn't thinking this way when I chose the title for the week, but it has been that kind of summer. I was diagnosed with asthma this summer and while I am really bummed out to now be a person who will not be able to answer "none" when a doctor asks for any medicines I take, I am relieved that my breathing issues have a name, and more importantly, a solution. I like (liked) being a person who surprised new doctors by not being on any meds, but I like breathing more. But it's been that kind of summer, dubbed Healthcare Tour 2012 by our beloved former babysitter. Emergency room visits, surgeries, not just us but many of our friends...I have loved summer but I am so hoping to be changing luck as we are getting in to fall.

Last Friday was National Waffle Day, and since the scrimmage didn't serve food, we had toasted freezer waffles for dinner, continuing the eating down the freezer theme for me. I am getting so spoiled by the scrimmages. There is easy parking and the kids can go play anywhere and I can find them easily. Love that. And I'm also getting spoiled by the Eating What's In the House. I love that my freezer and cabinets are empty enough that I can see what I have. There is a lesson in there for me.

So, last days of summer meal plan:

Monday: I haven't made my corn-zucchini-tomato thing all summer so tonight is the night. I might augment with a Dinner A'Fare meal (I thought I'd overdone it on those but you know what? It's been just right. Note to self: start stocking for summer next March or April and you will thank yourself in the lean weeks of August.)

Tuesday: Don't mess with success: Taco Tuesday. (Last week, the taco-off was amazing with two high school football players and my oldest boy--three pounds of ground beef, 36 taco shells, and almost nothing left over but lettuce. I'm glad I didn't make a fourth pound of meat.)

Wednesday: Freezer meal and CSA veggies.

Thursday: First grade orientation! Probably quinoa pesto for the boys and leftovers for the grownups.

Friday: The night before the first grader's first football game--it has to be a pasta dinner, right?

Last week, we still had the high school football player here so it was a little off. My husband got an extra set of chicken and in a total whiff, I forgot I could actually freeze it and instead made chicken with leeks (which PickyBoy decided he no longer eats, sigh) and I tried a chicken curry with apples from Time for Dinner, which was easy and another oh-wow-I-have-all-these-ingredients-booyah things. Three of four of us ate it, so we'll call it a success. I wish I had time to make rice, but you can't have everything. The curry recipe was so basic (brown some chicken; remove from pan and sautee onions in that pan; add apples and curry powder to the onions and sautee a few more minutes; pour in coconut milk and add back chicken. Done. Put cashews on top if you feel like it. We also added green beans and I was thinking I might do this without chicken and with chick peas instead.

I also tried to make my favorite roasted tomato sauce with some Roma tomatoes but alas it didn't work. They didn't shed their skins, and it wasn't the success they usually are. I'm trying to reconcile myself to the end of the season but I'm in denial. I bought a flat of peaches to freeze and we ate them all instead.

Oh--we went out to dinner last week to celebrate a friend's birthday (here, locals) and it was unreal--so good, and the final dessert course included grilled fruits but a crazy good tomato and peach tart with basil ice cream. It sounds gross but the acids and sugars played so well together, it was an ideal end to an August meal.

Wishing you whatever looks like an ideal end to your August. As far as meals go--I'm an Organizing Junkie! has some great ideas. And as the song says--see you in September.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

MPM--Summer Winds

Oh, end of August, I welcome you with open arms. While I am thrilled with how the summer has gone, I am excited for paychecks to start arriving again. Next year we will budget better. This year, I could weep with joy for my prescience in going to Dinner A'Fare way back when I had cash so I could eat this month.

Oh, that's overly dramatic when we're really doing fine. I know better for next year what to do, and for this year, we really are ok. Having a high school football player stay with us during two a days threw me off this week but otherwise, life is good. We spent last week at home, playing with (cleaning out) toys and working on not failing at being grownups (working on finances).

Monday: we did a big grilling day on Sunday so probably pork kebabs from the grill, plus roasted carrots and potatoes (also from yesterday), or a quinoa salad (I made lots of extra this weekend).

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday. And let the record show, last week, there was a taco-off between my taco lover and the high schooler. Both ate 10 (TEN!) tacos and only stopped because we were out of shells and meat. I am flattered but not sure I want to be that good a cook. Stopping after 2 or 3 seems totally fine to me. Lesson learned: one box of shells (and no teenager) this week.

Wednesday: chicken from the grilling day, veggies from the CSA

Thursday: if we get corn in the CSA box, my shrimp and corn stir fry. If not--I'll vamp. I have freezer things I can make instead.

Friday: Football scrimmage! Woo! Must be fall.

We are almost a three team house at this point--our visiting high schooler, one on a community flag team, and one on a CYO team. So I'm getting ready to start packing a lot of dinners to watch during practice.

We're kissing summer goodbye with a head shaved into a starfish, a cancelled trip to the beach and an added trip to a museum, new bureaus in two rooms, and excitement for the last two weeks of unstructured time (interrupted with some tantrums, but we're trying to keep those to a minimum). Hope your summer is ending how you want it to; meanwhile, check out I'm an Organizing Junkie! for some amazing ideas.

Monday, August 13, 2012

MPM--On Vacation Time

No, we're not on vacation this week. That was last week. It was bliss. We had a great week on the mountain top, with just enough balance between time with lots of the family and time with just our family and the grandparents. It was a great opportunity for my husband to recover from his surgery, and for us to all hang out.

This week, we have a teenager visiting with us, which is awesome but changing the food landscape. There are two football camps (one for the teenage, which is why he's here), last days at the pool to get in, and all kinds of other craziness. Here's hoping you are pulling out the last days of summer in to whatever makes you happy. We're certainly working on it here!

Monday: Out to dinner and back to school shopping.

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday, with double the usual meat.

Wednesday: chicken roll ups, lots of veggies from the CSA (we are solo-ing on the box this week so it will be a bumper crop!)

Thursday:  Crockpot pork tenderloin. First time recipe so I'll link after I try it.

Friday: Hmm, I'm a little put out. I was going to make my shrimp-corn-tomato thing but of all the things in the box--no corn. So I'll have to figure something else out. Hopefully by Friday I'll have some new ideas.

Wishing you an August that goes fast or slow, whichever you wish! Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie! for more recipes and meal plans.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

MPM--Sometimes the Math is Not Your Friend

Oh, August, you are such a tease.

My younger son was so excited for it to be August--he has several friends with August birthdays (ok, three are triplets, but still), and there was an August 1 playdate he was looking forward to. Then he asked, "When does school start?" and when I answered "September 4," his face crumpled in horror. "That's only...35 days away!" So much for the joy of August. And welcome to the joy of August! It all depends on your age.

Last week, we had a breakthrough with Mr. Picky on Taco Tuesday; I forgot to chop the onions for the tacos, and I had not a lot of extra stuff in the fridge, so when young Picky asked resignedly whether he was having cheese or chicken, the answer was "neither." And miracle of miracles, his father made him a taco with cheese and seasoned beef in a shell and he ate it. No sauce, no veggies, no matter. He ate cheese and beef in a shell. We all had the same dinner. I'll take it.

We also had a night when Mr. Picky was out with Dad, and my older one asked, "Can we try fish nuggets?" He loved them. I'm so happy. I love fish and if this is a gateway for him to white fish--I'm all in.

This week:

Monday: baseball! So I'm off the hook for the night.

Tuesday: Not messing with a good thing: Taco Tuesday.

Wednesday: grilling night. I can't believe it's been weeks since we've made the yogurt chicken so that has to come back out. Probably corn and tomatoes in the box too so we'll see how that works out.

Thursday: grill once, cook twice. I will also hope to be making the bourbon-marinated pork tenderloin (maybe with some grilled peaches?) while the grill is up and going, and whatever's in the box. TBD...last week it was more eggplant and red okra. Oh, and potatoes. Those have been going well for me. (The purple ones especially are awesome.) And my neighbors, who have been crazy-helpful this summer, love okra so they have been the recipients. (I don't mind okra, but they love it, and they have been so great to us this summer I am sorry I don't have a garden of it to give them.)

Friday: Pizza Friday probably, though it feels decadent with the Monday baseball game.

So we'll see how things go this week. Our younger son threw us a curve ball and announced he's interested in football, so we're scrambling to make that work. Those 6-8pm practices are brutal on timing...they come home starving and tired and dirty, and it's a crunch to get dinner ready by 5. And otherwise, we're working on some playdates, some things from our annual summer ideas poster...we'll keep you posted next week as we let these last 35 days play out!

Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie! for some excellent menu planning ideas!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

MPM--The Unstructured Month

Is anyone else having trouble finding the memo about it being August this week? Because, dang.

Camp ended. The surgery went well (thanks for the prayers).  My health is better. (Now I sound like an old person. Oy.) The kids are ok. Now we are just trying to settle in to these unstructured weeks before school. I'm excited for them, and nervous too. Wish me luck.

Monday: Taking advantage of my husband coming home early to rest from surgery: he'll be grilling. Along with what we grill (which will include zucchini), beets, tomato salad (ok, tomatoes and feta tossed with vinaigrette...I call it salad) and some dessert. Maybe. I think there are chicken breasts in the freezer, in which case--yogurt chicken. I know you are shocked.

Tuesday: still love taco Tuesday. Rock on.

Wednesday: Ack, last day of summer work for me. So, stuff from the box. And something to go with I have a pesto chicken dish (from Dinner A'Fare) that will work for this night.

Thursday: Man, leftovers would be great about now. Barring that, probably Dinner A'Fare, and the buttermilk edamame-cherry tomato salad, and something.

Friday: Kids are back in to pizza Fridays. Who am I to judge?

So I finally made the salmon salad from Dinner: A Love Story. It was a hit with the grownups (and I wasn't even bothering for the kids, though the older boy piped up, "I'll have the salad without the salmon," so I guess I need to remember this expanding palate lives with me now). It was awesome. Even the day after surgery, my husband loved it, and it felt like a big bowl of summer. It did, of course, take me days to make it, doing it piecemeal, but eventually I had enough momentum that it worked. And it was delicious.

And? Extra tip, especially for local folks but I bet it would work at a lot of places: I went to my favorite grocery store (which has a great meat/fish selection) and noted they had a bunch of smallish pieces of salmon left over. When I told the man at the counter I needed salmon but it was just for a salad so I would be happy to take small pieces, his face lit up and he said, "If you want the tails, you can have them for a song." And next thing I knew, he cut the price by a little over half. It was awesome. I knew it was going in a salad so I didn't need a pretty piece, and it still tasted phenomenal.

Here's wishing you a lazy summer week full of happy surprises and old favorites (still eating tomato sandwiches every day for lunch, yum). Go check out I'm an Organizing Junkie! for more inspired summer menus!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

MPM--I Should Know Better Than to Declare a Hiatus

Because then something amazing happens.

Ok, I use "amazing" loosely here. But foodwise, it was pretty epic.

This weekend, my husband was away and I was on meds that made me unable to drive. So it was like a summer snow day, full of house projects. I decided since we couldn't go anywhere for food, I should convert the stuff in the fridge into edible things. I sliced and diced celery, carrots, and cukes for the week. I made strawberry-rhubarb crumble, and scalloped tomatoes. Potatoes were roasted with rosemary from the garden and I tipped and tailed and parboiled all the green beans. I got by on some takeout samosas (from before the meds) and noodles for the kids. And the older "I don't like noodles" boy? Now likes noodles. Glory be. Though so far, he thinks it might be just medium shells, but he also identified: he does NOT like pesto on pasta. Just quinoa. Allrighty.

But then I was in despair trying to use cabbage and made the cabbage and white bean skillet dish from Heidi Swanson. And I chopped half a red onion, and older boy came along and freakin' ATE THE OTHER HALF. RAW. Piece by piece, just peeled it along. And asked what I'd made with the other half...and asked if he could have some too. And he did. He asked for soy sauce-fine by me. He had two whole bowls of it. I could have wept. I have no idea why this weekend they are all adventuresome with food. Maybe because I was gone last week, and Dad is gone now, and all the rules are shot to heck. Maybe because we are very very very very very low on convenience foods and so everything looks good. (Note to self: remember this. They do eventually eat when hungry. Well, one does, anyway.)

Meanwhile, Little Guy gets it in his head he wants to make lemon squares. I don't even know how he knows what lemon squares are. But, lemon squares it is. So he learned to cut a lemon in half and how to juice it with the reamer and strainer. He learned how to look it up in the cookbook! And the How to Cook Everything cookbook index intimidates me! So I am totally impressed.

So now I'm baking cookies for all the friends and neighbors who were so helpful in my emergency the other day, the kids are playing with other neighbors, and life is pretty sweet.

This week:

Monday: well heck. We might as well have the cabbage and white bean skillet, side of green beans. Probably a salad of cherry tomatoes and feta as well with the Catherine Newman vinaigrette on it. My mouth waters just typing the words.

Tuesday: I have been so out of it, I can't even tell you the last time we had a taco Tuesday, so it's time.

Wednesday: very unclear. My husband is having surgery (minor, but it's surgery) so I will try to have something easy. Heck, now that noodles are back on the "OK" list, that might work, though he should probably have something more fibrous.

Thursday: depends, but probably CSA vegetables and Dinner A'Fare meal or my favorite boxed chicken nuggets for the kids.

Friday: we'll see.

One more thing to make this week: I have these adorable little eggplants and since they are too small to grill, I'm making some sauce to put up for winter from my old reliable Glamour magazine recipe from 1990...? ish. And pray that nothing goes wrong with our freezer.

Lastly, we finally tried the Clover Lane feta dip and it was a huge hit. Our Greek seasoning is round the bend (how does that even happen? embarrassing how dusty it tasted) but with just oregano and salt and pepper, it was still great and a huge hit with the grandparents when they came. We skipped the bread and ate it as a salad. Delicious. (But hence the feta hanging around waiting to be made into salad. I was at BJ's.)

Deep breaths. Last week of camp. Last paycheck well and truly cashed and reserves dwindling. This weekend was good practice for the ultimate cupboard challenge that is August. And that's not fair; I know I have resources to tap (this is why I had the money in savings...this is why I had the money in savings...repeat as necessary...when the paychecks start again so will the savings...when the paychecks start again so will the savings...); and my parents lived like this, with one ten-month and one 12-month salary, so while I always had the 12 month, for a first time, this wasn't too bad in the 10-month category.

So here we go! Here's hoping for a healthier, happier August for all. Go get inspired by other meal plans at I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Saturday, July 21, 2012


I know, all 20 of you were just watching your reader, hoping for an update from me. Sorry to disappoint. There was a business trip (!), and, alas, continued sickness. Nothing contagious (so I'm out and about) but it's been pernicious. Oh, the 40s, the changes you bring my body are not exactly surprising but not exactly welcome either. I won't go in to it except to say that the sickness is morphing in to cousin-to-asthma reactive airway, and that leads to meds...sigh. I like going to a doctor or dentist and saying "none" to the "What medicines are you on?" question and would like to get back to that if I can.
Between the pesky no-summer-paychecks, the no idea what's in the CSA box, and the hoarding of frozen meals, I have nothing too inspirational here anyway, so I'm going on a summer break. But I didn't want to leave anyone hanging and wondering what was happening. The answer is: not much. And that's a great thing. I'll collect any good summer recipes I try and pop back when there's more to report. Happy summer!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

MPM--Back from the Brink

Well. That was unpleasant. That whole feverish-to-the-point-of-delusional thing? Really hideous. Don't try this at home.

My husband was a champ and came home every night and swung in to action so I could crawl in to bed, whimpering and listening to NPR. Seriously. That was my week. But I'm back. And while I am desperately afraid one boy has picked it up, I'm praying I'm wrong. This week:

Monday: the in-laws are over. Happily, my husband hit the "store closing" sale at a local supermarket and grilled an amazing rib eye. We'll have that and the salmon salad, I think, and the feta dip for a side/appetizer. Oh, and probably either zucchini rice gratin (sidebar) or just Smitten Kitchen's favorite zucchini on the side. Oh--or zucchini pizza. I have pizza dough from last week to use. (And, clearly, a large zucchini from the neighbors.)

Tuesday: Back to taco Tuesdays. Last week was interrupted in a big way.

Wednesday: Dinner A'Fare meal, plus lots of veggies from the box.

Thursday: Dinner A'Fare meal, plus lots of veggies from the box.

Friday: No clue. Can't think that far ahead. Here's hoping there are leftovers.

Seriously? I'm so glad to be back in the land of the living. Here's hoping you and your loved ones are well and happy and enjoying good summer meals together. Go see I'm an Organizing Junkie! for more great meal ideas.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

MPM--In Which I Confess I Have No Vision

So I actually did what I wanted to do last week (woohoo!) and made the new pork recipe last week. I wanted to try it because I had the leeks and carrots and also had something to do with the second pork tenderloin. That part of my plan worked; I had the stuff for the bourbon-mustard marinated pork tenderloin in the house from the bulk cooking experiment, so I bought the two-pack, froze one, and made the new recipe with the other. And hence the title: Of course it tasted like pork in a cheesy sauce. It was heavier than it seemed it would be in my head, and was a little "off" for summer in that it used such a heavy sauce on such delicate veggies. I did like the "cook in strips" part (me & my raw meat issues) but overall: not a winner here. Not to say it might not be for you. But for me? Not a favorite. (To be fair: I was missing the parsley, which I think would be a key ingredient. But--still, a very heavy sauce for some very delicate veggies.)

I am sick as a dog this week so boy howdy I'm going for easy.

Monday: whatever is the easiest Dinner AFare thing in the freezer

Tuesday: taco Tuesday

Wednesday: Happy 4th! Cookout on the street. Will probably make quinoa salad to share and grill burgers and dogs with the neighborhood.

Thursday: I'll feel better by then, right? Right? Please tell me I will feel better. Still something Dinner AFare-y.

Friday: something. probably a frantic effort to use the csa veggies.

Also? MorningStar Farms "Facon" (as my kids call it) has changed our summer. The older boy eats BLTs (or now, FLTs) every day. I can live with that. I love real bacon but it's nice to not be totally creeped out wondering whether you are poisoning your family with whatever pathogens are swirling in that package every lunchtime.

That's all I have in me this week, go see Org Junkie for more inspired summer ideas than "get well pronto."

Sunday, June 24, 2012

MPM--And Just Like That...'s really summer. We're at the pool almost daily, unless we're at the beach (woohoo!) and it was way too hot to cook last week. Things have gotten a little better so hopefully there will be more actual food happening. But there were a bunch of nights of throwing cold or room-temperature fruit at the kids and calling it dinner.

And just like that...we've been married 17 years. Our marriage outlasted the traditional/modern gift list, and while we're not really an extravagant-present couple, my husband really outdid himself this year with a small-but-packed bouquet of flowers from a florist I love, to writing a haiku (17 syllables, get it?), to updating his facebook page with all photos from our wedding that he scanned in for the occasion. I lucked out 17 years ago and don't have to try to remember that every day.

Alas, my meals don't always reflect that. But now that the kids are starting camp again, I'm going to make more of an effort.

Monday: Dinner A'Fare chicken, CSA cleanout

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday for boys, pizza with my moms' group for me. Ahhhh....

Wednesday: This recipe, that I saw in the Inquirer, for Pork Strips with Carrot and Leeks in Chevre Sauce. I happen to have all but the pork in the fridge and it sounds yummy.

Thursday: Town Picnic! Wooooo! Last year, I brought my favorite corn-zucchini-tomato pie, but I'm not feeling it this year (we'll see what's in the CSA box, that might change my mind)...I'll figure something out.

Friday: We'll see how the week goes. We haven't had a soccer night in a while (too hot, too thunderstormy) so I might try something like the chili again.

Have a great week! Check out I'm An Organizing Junkie! for more meal plans.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

MPM--Slow Slide to Summer

And so here we are, school is over, summer starting. Right now, as I write on Sunday, it still feels like a weekend, but by the time I post this--it'll definitely be vacation time. And since my husband has lunch plans for tomorrow, I know it will feel like vacation when I wake up and don't need to pack a single lunch. Bliss!

We have a high school aged friend staying with us for a wrestling camp, and had a family birthday/Father's Day party yesterday, so we are kicking things off in high spirits. But one of the first things we did was figure out how many days of summer vacation there are (hint: 104, a la Phineas and Ferb, is a gross exaggeration), and it just doesn't sound like all that many. So we're starting our summer poster (the huge list of all we hope to do), getting pediatrician and other appointments out of the way this week, and oh, yeah, I'm heading to work one afternoon. But otherwise--we'll see how it goes as the kickoff to summer is here.

Monday: Dinner A'Fare pork chops, sweet potato fries (from TJ's) with chili dipping sauce (also from TJ's), and crudites

Tuesday: the Hot Dog Meet was rescheduled, so hot dogs at the pool, woohoo!

Wednesday: this is one of my random summer work days, so something easy and ahead of time sounds good. I might do Pacific Rim Pork (from sidebar) now that my son will eat things in lettuce leaves, plus something from the CSA box. Or if it's too hot for that (likely), I'm very eager to try the Dinner: A Love Story salmon salad, and I might really cop out and use Trader Joe's pre-cooked potatoes (what a little gift for summer!) and frozen corn.

Thursday: Taco Thursday, of course

Friday: unclear. We did not do the soccer last week; instead, about 6 families just ordered in at the pool and chomped in the shade, dripping popsicle juice on our swimsuits. It was bliss. I'm hoping (hard) for a repeat.

I've been having lots of detox soup and the kids have had a lot of cold apples with peanut butter. And nectarines are coming in...this is a great season for sure. I'm dreaming of cold carrot soup and cascadilla and other joys of summer. And I really, really want an ice cream maker. I know--so dumb, when I'm trying to get rid of stuff, to add that in. But I'm taking a course in homemade ice cream at our Co-op and I wil decide from there whether it's worth it.

Anyway. Wishing you whatever it takes to provide you a happy summer! And go read more ideas at I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

MPM--More Crazy than Lazy Edition

First, thanks for the prayers for my husband. In the end, he did not have the surgery in lieu of more testing. He has a condition that was well documented by our former doctors but our current doctors apparently didn't know about. I see those as answered prayers, and thank those of you who held him in your thoughts.

I'm glad he was still functional because wow, what a weekend. Friday was two end-of-year functions at school for the boys, followed by a graduation party for a nephew. Saturday was the last day of track and the last day of t-ball, and a graduation party. Today (Sunday) started as a blank day on the calendar. But I'm not sure I can even count how many friends we saw by the end of it. We welcomed new friends to the neighborhood with pancakes after church, swung by the pool, and ended at the third graduation party of the weekend. It was amazing catching up with so many people in one weekend.

But now after three days of running around, we're home for the week for the last week of school and the last week of work for me. The crazy continues but I am looking forward to it all! And my gratitude for freezer meals knows no bounds.

Monday: citrus chicken from Dinner A'Fare, rice, asparagus and other CSA veggies

Tuesday: Hot Dog Dive Meet (really, the training the parents practice meet).

Wednesday: Taco Wednesday

Thursday: Stuffed shells from meal exchange, salad, CSA veggies

Friday: Finally a co-ed soccer day...I will probably make chili to share. Yum!

Wishing you a great week full of people you love. Go see I'm an Organizing Junkie! for more meal plans!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

MPM--Transit of Venus Edition

Welcome to June! Birds are singing, tiger lilies are blooming (not too early, so we seem to be mostly back on time, unlike some of the other flora), planets are passing in front of the sun, and we're careening to the end of the school year. We have photography posters to do, kindergarten talent show magic to practice, and dive club to teach us to fly through the air. The last of us is almost up on his two wheeler (training wheels came off two weeks ago when he was ready, and it's just a matter of getting out of his own head now), so really, the last thing left to do is for it to really be summer. Oh, and my husband's surgery.

Yeah. Wait what? Hernias. Probably not a big deal. He's youngish, and healthy. And if it weren't for the abnormal EKG, this would be a cakewalk, but as it is--it's been on again, off again and we think it's on for Wednesday. So it's a bit of a goofy week.

Monday: bourbon-mustard pork, quinoa salad of some kind, and whatever veggies I can move out of the drawer.

Tuesday: Lego build. And transit of Venus. And dive practice. And we'll eat somewhere. Boy, I wish my kids ate sandwiches.

Wednesday: Surgery day. Maybe. Probably. We'll see. For now, the plan is that my in-laws will bring us dinner while they cover the home front for the various drop-offs of boys.

Thursday: Up in the air too. Leftovers and freezer meals, probably.

Friday: Graduation party, I hope, for boys and me at least. I said I'd bring a veggie tray. I can throw that together pretty easily, at least.

So I have to put in a plug here: lots of our meals lately have come from the freezer meal swap from my moms' group. One member has the book 30 Day Gourmet's Big Book of Freezer Cooking and she shared some recipes with us. We all chipped in to make and trade; so far we've had the orange chicken, the flank steak, and the mustard-bourbon pork and liked them all. Winning. Top it off with a fundraiser visit to one of the make-and-freeze meal places, and we're in good shape. Now if only the chef and housekeeper would come to make them and clean up after, life would be really good.

Wishing you a great week. Hope the astrogeeks among you get to see the transit of Venus in a safe and supercool way, and we'll take any prayers you have to spare for my husband over here. For better meal  inspirations, try I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Monday, May 28, 2012

MPM--Memorials & Memories

Ah, summer! Even better: summer with three weeks of school left to go. I'm not quite ready to let go of this year yet; it's been a good one, and while I'm getting excited for the changes a-comin', I'm not just ready to move on yet.

But the weather! The weather is ready. It's about a month early here, and while it's good for peaches, it's bad for electric bills. So trying for an easy-ish week...

Monday: Memorial Day cookout. Hot dogs for boys, something from the freezer for me. Easy-peasy night.

Tuesday: Thank you, Lord, for Menu Plan Monday, which taught me about Taco Tuesday.

Wednesday: Also easy night. Friends who moved to AZ are visiting so we are having hoagies to say "welcome back!" Can't wait to see them, and looking forward to a night together.

Thursday: I'm running out to Dinner A'Fare to make more meals for the freezer. The boys will have, ironically, something from the freezer.

Friday: June, really? So soon? Probably crockpot chili with soccer friends, but we'll see. You know how those summer weekends go. :)

The bonus to the early heat: early fruit. Last Friday, the older boy and I snarfed nectarines, sharlyn melons, cherries, and strawberries for dinner. (OK, I had some cold mushroom soup too.) It was awesome--cool and slurpy and great for a sticky summery night.

And remember my freezer meal swap last week? That worked out so well for me. My pork recipe was easy (so I hope it's good); and when I ran out of meals last week (a good thing, we didn't go out and we ate what we had), I defrosted some orange chicken stir fry and three of four of us really enjoyed it. I was so happy to have that in the bag, so to speak. Now I also have some stuffed shells, some chimichangas (have to be honest, I don't even know what a chimichanga is), and a flank steak ready for grilling in there.

Meanwhile, cooking for Memorial Day was a challenge. We went to the mountains, which I enjoy, but there was no air conditioning--the weather is cooler there, but cooking in heat is cooking in heat. And we were making birthday dinner for two 21 year old foodies (niece & her husband). I went with the Smitten Kitchen green bean salad, a frisee (since I had it) salad with the "warm melty crouton" from SK (by request), corn on the cob (by request), and in the end, two kinds of yogurt marinated chicken. It was a very internet dinner and seemed to go over well with the birthday "kids." It can be so stressy getting ready to go to the mountains--do we have everything? (No, we never do, this time it was goggles I forgot, despite my younger son reminding me, kindly, several times.) Did we pack the right clothes? Too many? Too few? Too hot? Too cold?  What are the unspoken expectations of the family, nuclear and extended? But then we get here and the kids are roaming and the grownups are puttering and the dog is barking and I'm always glad we came.

Wishing you a summer of being in places you are glad to be. For more start of summer meal plans, try the indispensable I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

MPM--Chasing Summer

<--I'm just there right now.

Ok, it's not *that* bad. But some days, it feels that way. Like today, for instance. At 3pm, I took out a head of lettuce, thinking, great, we'll have salad tonight. Dinner came (at 7:30) and went ... and the same sad lettuce is still on the counter. There were other things that happened--I got one child to and from a birthday party, we practiced on a two-wheeler (almost there!), four loads of laundry got moved, five pork loins were marinated for the dinner it wasn't a loss...but there was no salad. Or anything that didn't come from the grill. So it wasn't a win either. So, here's to another try this week...

Monday: Oh, I just love a fundraiser. Chinese food after the gymnastics showcase to benefit the fencing program. Yay!

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday, since we missed it last week. (Don't ask.)

Wednesday: Leftovers, if there are any, if not, see Thursday.

Thursday: Grilled chicken (from Sunday), lemony smashed potatoes (see sidebar), something from the CSA that arrives Tuesday. And if this moves to Wednesday, I'll have freezer meals (wahoo!) to use this night.

Friday: Unclear. It's prom night for our last-of-the-older-part-of-the-generation cousins, so we'll be heading out to thoroughly embarrass him, which is always a joy. And otherwise, I'll be getting ready for the Memorial Day weekend, though what that actually means is unclear.

Right now, I'm torn between excitement that it's almost summer and horror that it's almost summer. I have a great routine this year and am loathe to see it disrupted. And while I am excited for my younger guy to go to first grade (and he is MORE than ready), I will miss our extra one-on-one time in the mornings between when his brother's bus leaves and when his does, and in the afternoons, before they get home. I'm really sad to see that chapter of our lives close.

But whether I'm happy about it or not, it's coming, so I might as well enjoy these last weeks. There's four of them left. There's inspiration!

If you need better meal inspiration than I can provide this week, try over at I'm An Organizing Junkie! and enjoy browsing! Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!