Sunday, June 29, 2014

Settling in to Summer

What does summer mean to you? I am excited; this week alone we have hit a bunch of my favorite things. Beach trip with family, checking items off the summer "to do" list, and lots of strawberries and fruit.

There's been some sadness too; they are closing the church where I grew up (incredibly unjustly, might I add) so I went to our last Mass there. We belonged to a different parish, partly because I had always assumed if we wanted to switch back to what should have been our parish, we could, but that wasn't meant to be. I loved the times we went--we usually walked there on holidays to avoid the driving and parking, and spent a lot of summer Saturday night Masses there too. It was good going back, seeing lots of friends of my parents, and saying goodbye to their names on the burial lists.

So a new week begins as an era ends. Dinners:

Monday: Pasta dinner for the swim team. I am bringing buttered noodles, of course.

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday but also a swim meet and the Lego build. Not sure how this will shake out except to say: Taco Thursday looking likely.

Wednesday: With Monday spaghetti, I don't think we'll repeat but if I am feeling lazy--maybe we will! There is another swim meet this night so who knows what we will do.

Thursday: Taco Thursday, or Turkey Thursday. If not taco--turkey breast, potato salad, cucumbers and strawberries.

Friday: Happy July 4 to all! We will have a barbecue on our street but my cousins are also hosting an open house so I am not sure where we will end up going. I have all kinds of pinterest ideas for food (strawberry and yogurt pretzel and blueberry flag tray; red-white-and-blue spinach salad) so someone will eat well, wherever we decide to be.

I tried the frozen blueberry yogurt bites on Pinterest but I don't know why (except to be able to say truthfully, "Yes, I used the super cute small muffin molds in the past year")--I knew they would freeze too hard for me. But it was a fine use of on-the-edge blueberries and the end of the yogurt. Frozen, they are too hard and cold for my teeth. Melted, they are just blueberry yogurt. So no waste but not a "do it again" recipe either.

Wishing you a good week full of whatever summer activities bring you joy.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Solstice. Perfect summer weather--hot, no humidity (well, comparatively for around here). Pool is open, school is closed, and camp starts tomorrow. Welcome to early summer!

Last week worked out well--due to a random set of circumstances, we didn't get to grill when we intended to so a lot of meat met its due date at once, so my husband grilled a Joann's pork tenderloin, four burgers, and a pile of chicken tenders marinated in lemon-yogurt. We ate off that platter all week. It was awesome.

This week:

Monday: I'm out. It's on Dad. He'll figure something out I am sure. (I have a conference.)

Tuesday: Back to taco Tuesday. Due to the surfeit of meat, I had to make the taco meat and freeze it. Bonus: now ready to go.

Wednesday: Small boy is still pouting that he did not get last week's Wednesday spaghetti, so it will make its triumphant return.

Thursday: I had a request! Pacific rim pork, rice, maybe a broccoli side.

Friday: town picnic! Last year it was cancelled by weather; I hope the picnic happens this year. We bring a salad or side; not sure what we'll bring right now though.

Last week, we did a potluck lunch on the second-to-last day of school. I made poppyseed chicken, broccoli slaw from Dinner: A Love Story, margarita punch, and the chickpea/apple salad. (I was the instigator, but a very generous friend volunteered her house for the actual event, so I overcompensated by bringing way too much food.) I also made dinner for my mother in law this week and did the Smitten Kitchen almonds & zucchini. Yum yum yum.

Also, I made summer goals along with the kids: lemon water is helping me reach one of mine. I am trying to stay better hydrated. It's amazing how two slices of lemon changes how I feel about that glass of water. I have pinned lots of fruit/veggie water combos on Pinterest so I will be experimenting with them through the summer.

My kids have discovered the Singing Monsters app so I am going to bowm bowm bowm on outta here. Happy week!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Three More Wakeups

And then my kids will be out of bed every day at 6am! Joy!

Kidding. Summer is sliding in right on time here and as soon as we get the screen thing fixed around here (as in, no, you cannot spend all day every day on them) we will be in summer mode.

Not much last week in the new food department though there were lots of old favorites.

I did try the ginger baked pears, and I liked them but they were not a family hit. Still: it's always good to try new things.

This week is tricky because there is baseball every night if the one boy's team keeps winning. As much as I hate the season for its unpredictability, length, and inconvenience, I love this team and this coaching staff and I want this for them. Here's hoping, but I know winning five in a row is a hard feat to pull off.

Monday: Joanne's pork tenderloin (didn't get to them last week), rice, zucchini

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: spaghetti

Thursday: first day of vacation so I am hoping to grill chicken, with grilled asparagus and lemony smashed potatoes.

Friday: ok, so Monday is complicated...we are invited to a World Cup game watch at a pizza place, but I suspect our own baseball schedule will make that not happen. If we don't have pizza Monday, we will have it tonight. If we have pizza on Monday, pork will be tonight.

Happy mid-June to all!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Crazy and Hazy, Check, Now Seeking Lazy

Anyone else remember that song, about the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer? I think we can check off the "crazy" for sure, and some of the "hazy" too. Last week involved a blitz trip to Connecticut to watch our niece graduate from high school there, which we were thrilled to be a part of. Then we jammed back down the turnpike in time for the baseball playoff games and sleepovers that awaited my boys. I went to a ballet while my husband went to a soccer game. I think it is the first time except for school where all four of us have been apart. It was a little strange.

Due to that--there wasn't much cooking last week, though I was delighted with one success: I made a turkey breast, based mostly on How to Cook Everything's recipe. My version: preheat oven to 450. Put turkey breast in pan with small amount of olive oil in the bottom. Rub soft butter on turkey breast. Top with kosher or sea salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning, then drizzle with a little more olive oil. Ideally, pour some chicken broth/stock in the pan to keep the turkey moist. Baste while it cooks if you think of it. Check after 30-40 minutes to see if the convenient little "pops up when it's done" thing has popped up.  Serve to your picky child and watch him ask for thirds. It was bliss.

The only other "new" thing: I needed to use cans for the softball toss at the end-of-year parties, so I made the lemony walnut chickpea salad from Pinterest. I loved it as is, and loved it more with avocado. Yum. I made it again, even after I had plenty of cans ready for the carnival game.

This week: I have lots of rosemary. See if you can spot the theme.

Monday: Joanne's pork tenderloin, rice, zucchini

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: spaghetti (trying the Laughing Cow faux Alfredo here for me); it is also the end of year celebration for our school language program so I am making a ton of dumplings for the Chinese food requirement and probably margarita punch for the Mexican. (No, no tequila, tempting though it may be)

Thursday: chicken roll ups, roasted fingerling potatoes, something green

Friday: my last day of work for the summer! I am excited and terrified. We have been hammered with unexpected bills this year (starting with taxes, made worse by the much higher charge from the firm that did our taxes, then my car frying all its fuses, then a mostly-covered-but-so-expensive-we-still-paid-a-ton medical procedure plus much higher copays from the new health insurance...) and I am very worried about how the summer is going to go cash-wise.'s summer! The kids are loving swimming, and I am finding myself very distracted at work and impatient to finish books and just have a different set of things on my mind. I am hoping to kick it off with a local "moms at loose ends for approximately 27 more minutes" get together, especially for the moms around here whose kids are all in school for the extra days from snow. But that would involve planning and that is not my gift right now!

Wishing you a good week full of things that make you happy.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Rest of the Story

So, what I didn't mention last week: I had no right to be melancholy. My husband took the kids to the mountains for the weekend over Memorial Day because I had to work. Not much--only an hour on Sunday afternoon--but it was really in the middle of everything, so I stayed home for the first time (? I think) in 20 years. It was so quiet. I loved it but it was instructive--even with 2 of the 3 leading mess-makers out of the house (I am definitely in the top 2), it took ages to get the house looking the way other people seem to keep theirs.

I cooked a ton--mac and cheese for a family party in two weeks, the soup from last week, and some recipes I was interested in but no one else would be. Case in point: the Provencal Tuna Salad from How to Cook Supper. I had the dill, I had the will, and I was ready to go. And I loved it. Not a single other soul in the house would have eaten it but I was delighted to have it to myself anyway. Also, meet my new summer breakfast, the peanut butter and banana smoothie. So good, so easy. I used regular milk since that's what I had but now that I know I will make this again (and again and again) I will get some almond milk and less sugar-based peanut butter. I was also inspired to try the brain power smoothie since that was so good. This was more of a traditional fruit smoothie and I loved it too (even though I didn't have 2 C blueberries, and I did skip the chia--I can't get through that texture). Only downside to this is that I don't usually have pomegranate juice in the house. But if it's on sale...this is a good one.

While I had my blender out, I made detox soup because I love it so, and also tried this avolantro-lime dressing for the super-cute salads-in-the-jars-I-am-resisting-purchasing. I liked it, but didn't love it; I think part of it is that if it has avocado and cilantro, it should be detox soup. And I never add enough olive oil because I am aghast at what I do add, so it's not very dressing-y. But it was good on tacos and with beans and salsa for the cute salad-in-a-cheap-tupperware-from-the-market.

For an impromptu Memorial Day gathering (well, impromptu for me, my friends had been planning for a while I am sure), I made a mashup of the Giada orzo salad (on sidebar) and this minted orzo salad with chickpeas and feta--but with the rather large adjustment that I didn't have mint. So, a few more veggies than Giada's version, and I was afraid the garlic would make the dressing too sharp (at least with the garlic I have right now), so a little of this, a little of that, some basil, and poof--a salad ready to take, and was well received.

I also made another Pinterest find--Barefoot Contessa sautéed tomatoes. I found it took way more than 7 minutes to get them all collapse-y. I think I like them oven roasted better but this way was easier (no cutting, just herb chopping). A worthy experiment but one I probably won't repeat.

For my own dining pleasure, I tried the Persian chicken salad suggested by the Tipsy Baker. I loved it and will make it again when I have the things on hand. I toasted extra spices and kept them aside.

And I had to laugh at the comment about tzatziki as a salad--it usually is a topping rather than a side, but it doesn't always work that way here, so we count it as a side salad if I don't over shred the cukes. That recipe from last week was very good but not amazing so the search continues.

So. That brings me to this week.

Monday: turkey breast (which I didn't make last week), zucchini, stuffing for glutenous people

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday or pizza at the baseball field, depending how many family members are coming to the 6pm game

Wednesday: Wednesday Spaghetti

Thursday: Tacos or turkey, depending on how Tuesday went

Friday: out for a graduation celebration with family

Have a happy week, everyone!