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.