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.