Sunday, February 23, 2014

Changing Seasons

As I write, it is almost 60 degrees outside. The sun is shining and everything is wet but not covered in snow, which is a bit of a relief.

And yet here I am inside, because one of my boys has strep. Well played, winter, well played. Also, did I mention everything is wet? And windy?

So, some more Olympics (I have never been on the "OMG this coverage is terrible" bandwagon before but I am now; my kids asked why only 8 countries are in the Olympics), some more recipe efforts.

From Pinterest, I tried the cilantro lime yogurt dressing and loved it. Very much like detox soup without the things that actually make detox soup healthy. It would be amazing on tacos, or just avocados, or a salad, or shrimp. I am not good at free styling with food, which is why I mention all of this. But if you find yourself in the great position of a ton of cilantro--this is a great way to go.

I also made the cucumber-avocado-feta-lime salad. That was it. I didn't want to go with the mint but it would have helped.

Monday: Yay! We grilled! Yogurt marinated chicken, rice, broccoli

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: Spaghetti

Thursday: sausage-apple-potato bake

Friday: Does it matter? I am going out with a friend, tra la la.

Have a good week!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Paging Spring...

My friends in other parts of the country just aren't getting it, but we are in a total winter rut here. But I am hoping we are crawling out. Here's this week's version of winter.

So, when I had published last week we hadn't had the chicken noodle soup yet. To my immense shock, both boys ate the soup. Both. Boys. Ate. The. Soup. Ok, in a DALS deconstructed style but--folks--this is huge. Mr. Picky didn't like it but he ate it with the promise of not-in-soup noodles later. He picked out the onions and the carrots and there was practically no broth. But he ate the chicken and the noodles. Older boy is warming to soup a little so while he ate his with a fork, he ate all of it and without complaining. It was nothing short of a culinary miracle.

We got hammered, again, with the two-part snowstorm this week, right before the district's 4 day weekend. For those of you not keeping track at home, that's two five-day weekends this year. Fear not, I'm keeping track for you.

This time, I was hoping we'd get to the mountains for the weekend (and cheered on those who drove to school to pick up the kids on Wednesday with the skis on the rack, ready to blast up the turnpike to the ski resorts before the snow hit--well played, all) so I spent the day getting food ready to go to the mountains. I tried these five ingredient nutella cookies. As one might expect from cookies that are mostly nutella--they are awesome. I liked them equally well with and without the salt. They made one small container's worth. I also made the cookie bars, yes again, it was a new audience, mac and cheese, and chili. And off we went to the land of zero degrees and too-many-mph toboggan runs!

Monday: Takeout. Holiday weekend, coming back from the mountains or depressed we aren't.

Tuesday: superquick tacos before basketball.

Wednesday: spaghetti. The Trader Joe's Italian sausages are a hit with the hubby so we are making those a good bit.

Thursday: Leftovers and Pacific Rim Pork. Needs to be fast b/c there are so many crazy things happening--kids' art show, book group, parish council meeting...can't really focus on everything or my brain will shut down.

Friday: down one kid so probably will take the other one out for Indian or hamburgers. If the snow is gone. Because when I wasn't looking someone moved my state to Minnesota. (Did you ever read The Scrambled States of America? I feel like we're living it right now.)

Wishing you a good week!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

When Life Gives You Snowstorms, Make Soup

How's your weather? I don't need to tell you how it is around here. You've seen our county on the national news as This Week's Disaster Area. We were blessedly relatively unaffected, but even one town over, they were out of school for the week.

We were off too, just not for the week, but we were absolutely living on the ice/thaw line, and just barely on the right side of it.

So, snuggled/stuck in the house with my boys, it was time to get cooking.

Monday, I had a cook off. This snow was heavy and wet and not as much fun for play. (We are getting positively Inuit in our connoisseur-ship of snow.) So it was a good day to stay inside and make things to eat.

Boiled Water soup: check. While the garlic was boiling, the boys were asking, "What is cooking? That smells great!" Weren't they surprised. (Like Jennifer, this required almost nothing I didn't have, though I will cop to buying sage leaves. $1.69 seemed like not much to invest in an experiment.) To my immense shock, I loved it. Based on the "we serve this to recovering people" comments, I thought of it as a vegan sick day soup (without the cheese obviously) so I just poured a bit for myself in a bowl. It looks like egg whites in a clear dish, so I popped it in a mug instead and just savored it as I did the rest of my cooking and prep.

Cookie bars that I'm obsessed with: check.

Cocoa for the boys who built the snowmen that looked like PigPen: check.

Crazy Jane's chicken in bulk: check.

Clover Lane's crockpot chicken noodle soup: check. I made my own gluten free mini shells to add. Worst part for me, as ever: the chopping of the raw chicken breast. Ew ew ew.

Greek style shrimp scampi (also known as shrimp with feta from DALS): check. Needed to finish the feta somehow, right?

I'm also having a total truffle moment. My sister in law was lovely enough to give us some truffle oil for Christmas, so I gussied up some of my bland potato soup with it; perfect. Also, part of my wheat overload last week was definitely from the Evol truffled mac and cheese that was on sale at Target. And the truffled mushroom flatbread started the whole thing here. So I am figuring out what we can truffle up around here.

Next up on the soups: the Smooth Vegetable Soup, also from Tipsy Baker. First I need to find leeks, which are inexplicably sold out around here.

One other indoor activity: inspired by the 71 Toes "Good Heart Attack," I cut out a ton of hearts and had the boys write things they love about their dad on them. I did the same for him and for them, and I have been taping them up one per day until Valentine's Day. It looks adorable, the kids loved doing it, and it has made us all smile every day. In a fit of pique, one child started ripping his down from the doorway, but later we found every single one of them right at the head of his bed where they can be the first and last things he sees every day. These might have become a permanent part of the decor. And I'm ok with that.

Another part of the indoor activity: sure, I thought, I'll do the 30 day planking challenge, though my core muscles are hidden better than the gold in Fort Knox. First day: 20 seconds. Hard, but I did it. Second day: by 6 seconds, my core is screaming, "HEY! We were good sports about this yesterday and all but that was a ONE-TIME DEAL. That will NOT be happening again." To say nothing of my elbows. My 30 day challenge looks more like a 60 day challenge but I do like how it makes my core feel, so we're on the wagon with this, just at a less aggressive pace.

This week: More snow! Oh, I wish I were kidding. I am not.

Sunday: leftovers

Monday: takeout pizza deal. I have a minor medical procedure (routine maintenance) but I know I'll be tired.

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: spaghetti

Thursday: leftovers/freezer food (I found a few more gems as I was rooting around)

Friday: Something romantic. Hah! Something the kids will eat is more like it. Leftovers, most likely.

That week couldn't be less inspirational if I tried.'s been quite a week, really. We are finally, finally flipping the office and the older boy's room, so the house is in total chaos. It looks like Hoarders up in here but this is the "darkest before the dawn" portion of our house re-do. The new counters are being templated this week which means every spot of the counters has to be cleared. So prepping food is not going to be a real possibility for much of the week. These are awesome, excellent first world problems, so I have no complaints, but that is my feeble excuse for the feeble menu. It may not improve for a while.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Is It Spring Yet? (no)

So, how's your winter going? I am writing this on Saturday and do not care what the groundhog has to say. In fact, I will be stunned if they can find him with all the snow we've had.  And there's more coming.

Monday: Oh, really? Snow again? Really?

Yeah, really.

Crazy Jane's chicken, rice, something green. Probably broccoli, it's been a while.

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: spaghetti

Thursday: Joanne's pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes, probably more broccoli

Friday: Bingo night! Not cooking. Phew.

Girding ourselves for the next set of snowstorms, I got in lots of good soup time last week. I did the crock pot coconut chicken soup and it was fabulous--except so stinkin' (spicy) hot I couldn't eat it! I only put in 1 TBS of the curry, remembering how it's surprised me before. Next time I do this, I will make it vegan with veggie broth, and add carrots and mushrooms, and a half teaspoon of curry and call it a day after 4 hours on low (which is what worked for the chicken strips). But still--a real success. My husband loved it and proclaimed it better than what we get at the local Thai place.

I also made Cooking on Clover Lane's potato soup. I love potato soup. Love. And I had never cooked with evaporated milk so I was curious. I thought a dozen potatoes was a little much so I did a bag of 6 Russets from Trader Joe's and that was about right. I followed the recipe and it was a little odd looking, so I caved and got out my immersion blender and just made it creamy. It was good, but a little bland (it really did take a ton of salt), so I will be serving it with things to spice it up (cheese, bacon bits, chopped scallions). It was really easy and a great "blank canvas" kind of potato soup.

Finally, because it was the Superbowl, I tried the Catherine Newman chicken wings. I do not eat dark meat so I had never made wings before. These were roasted instead of fried, which I liked. I had about 2.5 lbs, so I used 2.5 TBS salt. Next time I would use 2. (Which might be a function of my el-cheapo kosher salt.) We also should have kicked it up to 400 earlier. My wing-loving son declared them "not as good as a restaurant." I declared them "way cheaper than a restaurant and not fried," so this will stay in the rotation, with less salt.

For the Big Game, as they call it, we also had tons of cut-up fruit as finger food, and I got a pound of roast beef and OMG squishy rolls that I haven't let in the house for forever and we had French dip sandwiches, pretzels, and wings. It was great. So easy, and felt festive.

It was a bit of a last hurrah--I am having all kinds of issues when I eat lots of wheat so I am back to gluten free this week. (Yep, gluten free pasta on Wednesday for me. Ick, but beats the tummy rumbles.) I didn't--don't--want to believe that gluten is an issue for me but I don't think there's a way around it at this point. The same thing happened with me and peppers. Growing up, I loved them. Pepper and egg sandwiches, pepper steak at Chinese I feel sick for a day if I eat them, or something they are in (problematic with many Italian foods, from spaghetti sauce to antipasti plates). Somewhere in my 20s--it flipped and became a huge GI issue if I ate them, so I reluctantly cut them out. Now I fear the same with gluten. I've been cutting it out little by little--Udi bread here, Mary's Gone Crackers there...but I find the pizza and the noodles hard to resist. But this past weekend I felt gross enough that it's time to get serious. Ugh.

Wishing you luck with your weather and whatever else you face this week!