Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Next Phase of Summer

Oh, the week that always sneaks up on me is here: that first week without camp. I really do have little panic attacks about this because my kids (most kids) do so much better with a schedule and I am not an especially good planner. But I have little things, like the Summer Science program at the library, built in to the days to give us structure. Here's hoping that works.

The crockpot cooking was a big hit last week. I bought a teeny pork roast because last time I made it, we threw some away. This time? I barely had enough for leftovers for the week. And I loved barely having to heat the kitchen. (I did boil potatoes for the double mustard potato salad, and the kids loved the smell of the dressing but hated it on the potatoes. Still--liking the smell of a vinegar-mustard mix=progress.) I also have to remember that all day, the older, less fussy one, was carping, "I wish we were having chicken. I like it better than pork." and then went back for seconds on the pork and said how delicious it was. So while it is not an endearing habit, I need to remember that this is all that the complaining is: a habit. Make what I want.

I also got back in the green smoothie routine. I made my favorite detox soup, and then from the green smoothies page, the mango ginger detox. This was my least favorite so far but I didn't dislike it. That sounds like damning with faint praise, and I suppose I am, but I loved that it used ingredients like celery and parsley, that I almost always have, and if I think of it less as a smoothie and more of a chilled soup, it was fine. And again--my body is just loving the influx of nutrition. It is almost embarrassing what a difference it makes, because I don't think of myself as a particularly unhealthy eater. Too much, maybe, but generally good stuff. But this--this is a totally different order of magnitude of nutrition and the difference it makes is humbling. So, I stick with it and keep blending away. Also: a much bigger hit was the peach-coconut dream smoothie. I added the banana in an effort to clean out the freezer (we had a ton of frozen bananas that have ripened too fast this summer) and this was super sweet. I just took my time with the grapes and my blender got them in to small enough pieces that they still worked with the straw. I chickened out on most of the peach skin, though; that seemed to be a bridge to far.

Also, since the cucumbers are coming in faster than I can use them, I tried Catherine Newman's tzatziki recipe. I shredded my seeded cuke instead of cubing because, ugh--knife work. Not my thing. Since I am trying to cut back on wheat (very hard in the heat of tomato sandwich season--Udi bread is awesome but not quite the same) I skipped the pita and just ate it with a spoon and was happy to do so. Yum.

Since I had the mint for the tzatziki recipe (and let's face it--very few things say "I have a black thumb" like "I cannot get mint to grow and therefore have to buy it in a store"), I made my niece's awesome faux mojito recipe. She noodled around with a bunch of different recipes until she came up with this one. I think she's brilliant and I'm sharing it here.

Fresh mint
Club soda
Simple syrup
Rum (optional)
For each glass:
One-to-two shots rum (one weak, two strong) (I did not use the rum at all.)
One-to-two shots simple syrup 
One half lemon, squeezed
One half lime, squeezed
Add in mint
Fill glass up completely with ice
Pour club soda over mix and stir

Finally, for our neighbor's birthday party, I made the margarita punch that I enjoyed a few months ago at my friend's house. Except for having to chop the ice, I loved it again. Wishing you cold drinks to refresh you this summer!

This week:

Monday: crockpot curry chicken (right back on the horse, only five and a half years later), rice

Tuesday: hooray for tacos

Wednesday: some pasta something, though I may cheat and make pesto quinoa for the kids

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: As ever, depends on the weather and whether my husband is playing soccer, so TBA. He might be geeking out at the SABR convention (it sounds like a James Bond villain but it's really about baseball stats or something) so the boys and I might have a night at the movies with popcorn for dinner or something similar. We'll see. Somehow I feel like I can wing a Friday night in a way that the weeknights do not allow.

Have a great week!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Back to the Green Smoothies, and Other Stuff

What a month! I can't believe it's the last week of camp already. I am psyched to have at least one week where I can mostly just be at home--I have so many projects here! For the other camp weeks, I was preparing for one trip or another--after the midwestern swing, we went to the mountains this weekend for my mother-in-law's 80th birthday celebration--which was great, but I am so glad to just be back.

So once we were back from our big trip, I was back on my green smoothie kick. I will be honest, after only 5 days of green smoothies (all in a desperate effort to use my kale before we left), my innards were Very Cranky to have this nutrition infusion yanked away, which surprised me. Of course we were also traveling in central/western PA, home of the everything fritters and 12 kinds of sausage at every venue, so I wasn't shocked. But it was interesting to experience how fast my system adjusted (in a good way) to all those fruits and veggies and micronutrients coming daily.

When I got back, I switched to spinach; I had used the kale, and thought spinach would be easier to smoothify. And I was right. Where the recipes I made with kale made two smoothies with a little left over, the one with spinach made three, and tasted MUCH more like a regular smoothie. Of course, I also tried the Beginner's Luck smoothie, which was a ton of fruit and a little bit of spinach, so maybe that had something to do with it too. But still--it was a worthy experiment with the kale and I will go back to that again. I might get crazy and try mixing my greens--some kale, some spinach, or, yikes--if I go out on a real limb I might try it with beet greens, which I usually loathe but have a ton of since I love the actual beets. Or not. We'll see.

This week, in addition to green smoothies: I have a ton of beets and a bunch (literally) of carrots to use. The weather is better but still crazy hot. So...

Monday: slow cooker pork roast (pulled pork sandwiches), probably potatoes, and tomato-mozzarella salad

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: spaghetti (really? so hot I can barely process it) and maybe garlic bread with the awesome leftover party rolls

Thursday: leftover pork, possibly roasted carrots and roasted beets, depending on weather

Friday: unclear. Maybe out, but we've been out so much I am tempted to stay in. We will see how the week goes. The extra freezer isn't totally empty yet and I would like to make that happen.

Have a great week! Stay cool and if you have any no-cook ideas--pass 'em along!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Resuming Our Regularly Scheduled Summer

So, last week, I fibbed a bit; we were on a roadtrip to Indiana and Illinois. I had to go for work and decided to make it a family affair. We had a blast, despite my major trepidation before the trip--we have no DVD player, no tablets, no iPods or iPads for the kids. We went old school with books on CD from the library and it was great. We stopped in Carlisle, PA, for dinner with one of my husband's college friends; Pittsburgh for breakfast with my college roommate and a ride on the incline; Cleveland for a baseball game and a stay in Maumee, OH, the surprise hit of the trip; South Bend, IN for work; Chicago, for an amazing three days with friends from college and childhood and my husband's baseball blog (at a Cubs game, naturally); then back through South Bend, Maumee, and Pittsburgh again until we got back home. Three baseball games (Cleveland-Detroit, Cubs-Angels, and Pirates-Mets), two great Chicago museums (Science and Industry and the Children's Museum), an amazing speedboat ride on the lake, two movies (Monsters University and Despicable Me 2)...the only downer at all was the two sprained ankles (mine and my husband's, in the exact same spot, on an unpainted curb--I saw him on the ground, ran to him, hit the same spot, and did the same thing--it was bizarre). But fortunately it was neither of our driving ankles and the kids were enthusiastic travelers so we are excited to do it again sometime.

So this week is a lot like last week; my apologies for the deception.

Monday: catered by Trader Joe's (veggie stir fry for parents, buffalo meatballs for boys)

Tuesday: welcome back to Taco Tuesday!

Wednesday: definitely too hot for spaghetti proper so pasta salad. And the Jersey tomatoes came in while we were away! Wahoo! So we will have basil-tomato-mozzarella salad.

Thursday: gyro chicken, and yummy stuff from the CSA box--yay!

Friday: Pizza at the pool, if things go well!

Wishing you a great week!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Getting in to the Groove

So, here we are in July, chugging along. A bunch of my (much healthier than I am) friends on Facebook were doing the 30-Day Green Smoothie Challenge, so I joined in--what better use for all the stuff from the CSA? (If you don't feel like clicking, it's easy enough: change nothing but add a green smoothie every day.) First up: the kale I never got around to making chips out of. I started with this pineapple-kale-coconut oil smoothie since I had all the ingredients--or thought I did. My husband had used a lot of the frozen pineapple and so I replaced it with mango--that was a bit of a bummer because pineapple is sweeter and for my tastes, I could have used it. The directions were helpful--I have had issues with green smoothies before because the pieces of leaves were still so big. And I felt very virtuous drinking it. But while it says "serves 2"--one would have lasted me all week, though I know they don't taste very good after more than 24 hours so I had a lot on day one and saved the rest for day 2. Next I tried the cilantro-lime-ginger one, which I actually liked a little better. Also? I was using up my kale, which I think has a much stronger flavor than the suggested spinach, so I am sure that had something to do with it too. It did do a lot for my digestion though so I might keep it up for a bit longer and see how it goes.

Last week was veggiepalooza around here. Crack broccoli, orzo broccoli pesto (we had it for July 4--didn't fit with the color scheme but oh well), kale chips, corn on the cob, detox soup...we are clearly in the throes of summer and I at least am loving it. The kids--less so. But someday I hope their palates come around.

Swim team is awesome--the kids are exhausted and starving all the time. This sounds mean but with kids I struggle to feed or get to sleep--it's been a joy. If only they'd drink some green smoothie we'd be in good shape.

This week:

Monday: Catered by Trader Joe's. Buffalo chicken meatballs, mac and cheese, falafel for mom.

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: Spaghetti of some kind (I know I am getting boring; I think I will make bow ties and do butter for the boy but a cold Caprese style pasta salad for grownups with ciglini, cherry tomatoes, and basil.

Thursday: Kids have martial arts so probably out with friends for pizza after.

Friday: Soccer game! Dad will eat there; mom and kids will do something else entertaining, probably involving the swim club, if the daily thunder and lightning does not throw us off.

Wishing you a fabulous week full of summer fun!