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!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

MPM--Merry May

I wonder how many years it will take me to get the feel for the rhythm that April is the last "normal" month? In May, there are graduation and end-of-year parties, final performances, and endings of all kinds of "specials," like gymnastics, and starts of others, like swimming. I enjoy the transitions and the celebrations of a year's worth of accomplishments, but it seems early for me. Nevertheless--the world spins, and we're going with it.

Monday: chicken nuggets from the freezer, leftover veggies from grilling.

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday. (On Saturday, I was casting about for dinner ideas and "Tacos?" was hopefully suggested from the back seat. Good to know it's still working out for some of us.)

Wednesday: Ravioli, plus some other stuff from the freezer for the boys. (I need to clear our the freezer, I have two different freezer-filling events coming up, more below.)

Thursday: probably pesto quinoa for the boys and something easy (leftovery) for the grownups. I need to keep plugging on the freezer/cabinet cleanout.

Friday: Baseball game and end of year party and graduation party. Not sure how we'll get it all in but we're working on it.

Last week went well, in that I really did stick to the program overall. I think we're done with apricot chicken; I keep trying to recreate a dish I loved and not succeeding, and I think I'm finally ok with the fact that it's due to changing tastes. I just wish there were things I really enjoy as much now as I remember liking stuff before I started eliminating processed foods! The pork tenderloin was good, though--not amazing, but yummy and easy and will stay in the rotation.

I'm very excited, for the last week of the month I have two freezer fillers coming, both thanks to my moms' group. We're doing a fundraising night at Dinner A'Fare, where we make meals in advance and a portion of the proceeds is going to the chapter--woohoo! And second, the "working moms" subgroup was bemoaning the dinner hour and we came up with a crazy scheme where we each do bulk freezer cooking of one dish and trade. I don't know that we'll ever do it again, the poor woman who did the spreadsheet must have wanted to cry between the no red meat/vegetarian/omnivore/etc. requirements, I think it was tougher than she thought it would be to pull it all together. But we got it; I'm making several batches of a pork tenderloin dish and then will get chimichangas and more, though I forget what. So I really just need to get through this week and then I'll have some pre-done things ready to go.

Check in at I'm an Organizing Junkie! for more great meal ideas!

Monday, May 7, 2012

MPM--Rocket Ride to June Continues

Is there anything better than leftover party food? I was humming as I put the food away, prepacking them in little containers ready for lunches this week. Which was good because I am exhausted! What a wonderful weekend. My aunt & uncle were here from California which kicked things off in style, and then the First Communion was wonderful. My son did one of the reading parts, and was terrific; and his experience was great. He was appropriately solemn in taking the host, and really had a sense of the grandeur of it all, as well as the huge family support, which was wonderful. The party afterwards went well (hoagies and tacos ftw!) and my work event the next day was good as well. Now it is time to collapse in a heap. Oh wait. There's that job I love and they want me to, you know, show up. Collapsing in heaps is overrated.

Monday: apricot chicken (mix dump and bake? yes please), rice, salad, and some vegetable rattling around my drawer.

Tuesday: leftover steak tacos from the taco bar (LOVED that taco bar, btw--highly recommended).

Wednesday: Pork tenderloin (see below) in honor of the friend who gave me the recipe, kale chips, rice

Thursday: Clean Out Refrigerator Night. Brie for dinner? Works for me.

Friday: Freezer meal night

I was so happy last week to revisit the chicken with leeks (on my sidebar) and where it had a tepid reception last time, this time, it was really enjoyed by all, so that was nice. I didn't do a lot of cooking was a crazy week getting ready for the communion and did I mention the lice? No? Let us never speak of them again. Grossest thing ever. And made me want to cry with all the extra work it entailed in a week with zero extra minutes.

In cleaning out the shelves for the party (nothing like a big family deal to give a fresh eye to the place--my house looks so much better now, but alas, still screams "ready for a purge"), I came across a few other recipes we hadn't used in a while, so I'll be breaking those out. One of them was the pork tenderloin, which had been a huge hit before, and easy, so I'm glad to pull that out again.

Joanne's Orange Pork Tenderloin

1 C fresh orange juice (I use bottled)
1/3 C soy sauce
1/4 C olive oil
2 Tbs fresh chopped rosemary
3 cloves minced garlic
2 (12 oz) pork tenderloins

Mix all ingredients and pour over pork. Marinate covered in fridge anywhere from 1-10 hours. Drain, reserving marinade. Cook pork on hot grill for 20 minutes or until through. Maybe baked at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Cut in to thin slices. Bring reserve marinade to boil in a sauce pan and serve with pork.

The author notes that it became such a signature dish that "Yes, we served pork tenderloin again" became a standing joke in her family. Hey, we'd come.

Wishing you a great week and a lovely May! Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie! for more meal plans.