Wednesday, August 30, 2017

We Are

We are well into our second full week of school.  Schedules are settling.  Stress has hit its peak and is coming down.  School-schedule life is now the norm.

  • If you've read here for any length of time, my struggle with exercise of any kind is well documented.  I've tried lots of things - gym workouts, Pilates, walking and hate it all!  Hate.  It.  I've contemplated trying yoga for a long time and finally, after watching Ali Edwards' fitness journey on Instagram, decided to look into local studios.  I did a bit of research, picked a nearby studio and bought a five class pass.  So far, I've enjoyed it, as much as one can enjoy burning thighs, shaking arms, and folding oneself into a myriad of shapes in the name of healthy lifestyle.  But it's a no-judgement zone and modifications are made to accommodate your flexibility, or lack there of, so there's that.
  • #nationaldogday
  • When Level 4 Spanish class takes a day a week to watch Spanish TV - there must be snacks
  • Wishing your Bestie Happy Birthday with a Questionable Fashion Flashback
  • Fishing adventures await
  • Drive It, 4-Wheel It, Hike It, Fish It. . .
  • . . . Pop it
  • If you're fishing you better have a story, and they did, along with a lesson in changing tires
  • Harvest time starts now
  • When you're ready to make jam, but your fruit pectin is a tad out-of-date
  • Your A/C is broken.  Peaches can't wait any longer.  The temp is in the low 90's - outside.  #cookinginthefiresofhellskitchen
  • The 18 y.o. went to help move his girlfriend into college, but enjoyed some great views while doing so.
Happy Wednesday,


Friday, August 25, 2017

Food for Thought

Ready for the weekend?  

It'll be quiet. . .or quieter around here.  Always is when you take one child out of the mix.  The 18 y.o. is with his girlfriend as she moves into school down at University of Northern Arizona.  It'll be a long ride back for him.

Hubby is thinking of going fishing and (hopefully) taking one or more of the remaining boys with him.

As for my daughter, I'm not sure.  She had shifted her schedule to weekends to accommodate going back to school, but I'm not sure the powers-that-be have provided her the requested hours.

If your weekend plans include prepping for the coming week and getting your menu down, then I can help with the following.

I'm still playing catch-up with all the un-posted meals.  That includes this Pink Lemonade Sheet Cake, which was awesome.  The moist vanilla base and the just-right lemon sweet/tartness of the icing. I think I'm becoming obsessed with sheet-pan anythings. . .there have been quite a few of them popping up here lately.

Hello!  It says "Snickers."  So the Snickers Slab Pie was a must do.  I was a touch worried it might be too sweet and/or heavy, but it was all just right.  A whipped peanut butter filling, topped with all things caramel and chocolate.  It was actually a really light dessert.  I used Snickers Bites (found in the baking aisle at my grocer), which I also chopped, rather than full-sized candy bars.

If you're gonna open with two desserts, it better get healthy quick.  And it does.  With another sheet pan recipe - Crispy Sheet Pan Lemon Parmesan Garlic Chicken and Veggies.  Now, a couple things, I doubled this recipe (it was Parents-for-Dinner night) and I barely had room on my sheet pans for the chicken, let along the veggies.  I'm not sure this can be a one-pan meal, and not just because of the amount of food required on a pan (doubled recipe or not) - read on.  In the end this was really good.  However, in reading through the recipe I wondered how the chicken would brown and crisp in a half-cup of butter.  And yeah, it didn't - the breading got soggy.  I ended up pouring off some of the juices and broiling the pans for a couple minutes before serving just to get crispier tops.  The veggies were great, crisp-tender and seasoned well.  I think in the future, even if I'm cooking for just the six of us, I'll do two pans, one for the chicken and the other for the veggies.  I will use a small amount of butter mix in the chicken pan (lined with parchment - things get crispier for me that way), but I think two pans is gonna have to be the way to go.  I suppose I could reduce the amount of butter, but there's just so much on one pan that I think the steam created only adds to the soggy breading issue.

I know it was hot when I planned this Poppy Seed Chicken and Grape Pasta Salad.  On hot days, even boiling pasta will ignite the inferno that is my kitchen in the summer, but this one was worth it. It was simple and easy to pull together.  The dressing was light and I love grapes in a chicken salad - those bright pops of summer.  It was a "feed yourself when you're ready" night and I had one child go out of his way to say how much he liked it.  Score!

If I'm lucky enough to be home alone this weekend, I'll need to find something crafty to do.  My soul is in need.

Happy Friday,


Thursday, August 24, 2017

We Are

I thought it was a quiet road up to the start of school, until I started gathering photos.  We - or the kids at least - were busy sucking up the last of their breaks.

  • The 18 y.o. capped his summer with two more Fourteeners - Mt. Lincoln and Mt. Cameron.  One frosty climb early in the morning - and a glimpse that this freakin' heat will come to an end . . .
  • . . . the other much more comfortable, later on the same day.
  • The Girlie and her Kroo make a return to the state after a trip to Kansas #allthesameshirts
  • The 16 y.o.'s first day of school - bring on Junior Year.
  • The perk of being dragged with your parents to the Peach Festival is that one car sighting that will sustain you through the rest of the hot drag down the festival lanes.  #mustangobsessed
  • It was hot, but we collected our peaches, and peaches for several family members
  • I'm not sure the weather will cooperate and be cool during the long weekend of processing peaches - putting up some halves and making jam.  That's the plan anyway.
  • I need a five-day weekend
  • When your family decides to clean the carpets and leaves you no place to go
  • First Day of School for these two.  Still need a shot of the 16 y.o.
  • Eclipse Ready
  • Shots of our eclipse experiences.  We were all in different places, but it was exciting nonetheless.  We reached about 93% totality here in the Denver-metro area.  It was an odd filtered light, with no heat.  Weird, in a good way.
  • The media called it the Great American Eclipse.  So, there's a drink to go with that.  It wasn't bad. . .lots of tequila.
  • When the house is quiet, it's a love hate thing.  Nobody bothers you in your sun spot.  But nobody bothers you.
  • Sunrises (photo courtesy of the 16 y.o.)
Happy Thursday,


Friday, August 18, 2017

Food for Thought

I said I had a lot of recipes that needed posting.  The recipes below will give you some idea how long I've been holding on to these.  At least they're 2017's!

If you're looking for meal ideas, then these could make your planning go a little faster.

You know, I know I made these the weekend of the 4th, but for the life of me can't recall if it was a big thing, or just Parent Dinner Friday (we have been hosting my parents, along with the in-laws, since my mother had shoulder surgery back in April(?)  So these 4th of July Cookie Bars were really soft and vanilla-y, but I'm sorry, I couldn't make myself add the blue food coloring.  I showed my patriotic with sprinkles.

These Quick Southern-Style Backed Beans are a Pioneer Woman recipe and they were as good as any of her recipes.  They were thick and rich and savory.  Great for a cook-out.

We love tacos, burritos, anything southwest/mexican-ish.  So Southwestern Baked Burritos were a must try.  I really liked the filling - it was hearty and well spiced.  As with most things that are baked instead of fried, you don't really get that satisfying crunch, but it wasn't too bad.  I do bake on parchment, instead of foil or just the pan, and I did spray them, but I flipped them more than once to get a good browning and a semi-crunchy outside.  Still, they were good.

Salads, while a great no-heat meal, I don't do often, but am trying to do more.  I can get a lot in a salad some people in my house may pick over if served any other way.  So I liked this Chopped Asian Salad for those reasons, but I like it more once it was served.  Lots of great Asian flavors in a light dressing, crunching, filling and best of all, super easy.  I did not use chow mein noodles, but I might chop peanuts for next time instead.  It held up well for a couple days worth of lunches.

Hubby has been using his smoker a lot.  It's been awesome.  The only downside is that smoked meats can feel heavy - or at least they feel that way to me.  Not so much in the stomach heavy, but on the palate heavy.  When I saw this Grilled Cajun Chicken with Avocado Corn Salsa, it sounded fresh and light and it was.  The freshness of the salsa and the zing of the seasoning on the chicken was just right.  It made me think, maybe, every now and then, we need something fresh to top the smoked meats - a salsa or chimichurri; something bright and fresh.

I've made several sheet pan meals and I love them.  The set up, the clean up. It's all good.  I've been using various leftover meats (remember hubby's been smoking a lot) to make several variations on sheet pan nachos, just like this Sheet Pan Taco Nachos.  They are simple.  They are easy.  Everyone eats and, yes, the oven's on, but for 5 minutes.  I can deal.  Usually, I make up two sheet pans if everyone's home, set 'em on the table and we dig in.  Because the nachos are loaded, I don't generally serve anything further.  Works for us, and people leave full.

I've tried to stop buying dressings.  Most of the time I can make up dressings at home with what I have on hand.  When I needed a Balsamic Vinaigrette, I just looked it up.  This is a good, tangy, well balanced version.  It's going on a recipe card.

Before we got into the monsoon season, we had the odd cool day and this Greek Turkey Rice Skillet sounded good.  It was - the salty bite of olives and feta, and the lemon freshened everything up.  Because we're at altitude I need to adjust the cook time and liquid called for, or I get slightly undercooked rice.

We now have two high school grads.  One in college and one taking a semester off.  We also have one in private school.  So we're cutting back on our Saturday night eat out tradition.  In that vein I needed something to come home to after church if we were going to stick to the cutting back.  These Crock Pot Sweet Honey BBQ Hotdogs seemed easy enough.  The short cook time meant I could dump it all in on my way out the door and it would be ready when we got home.  Worked like a charm.  There was quite a bit of sauce, so either more hot dogs, or better yet, larger sausages.  

Happy Friday,


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

We Are

Is it wrong to want to be dancing the back-to-school dance?  All day long?

I've picked up most school supplies - need a tub/tote thing for the fourth grader.  The high schooler has his basic supplies and a new backpack.  It remains to be seen if his teachers will require anything specific.  

I've ordered a couple new pieces of the fourth grader's uniform.  I'll order more items when the weather turns cooler.  The high schooler has several new pairs of shorts.  Like his younger brother, cool weather shopping will wait a few months.  The college girl takes care of her own supplies and books, and clothes for that matter.  And the 18 y.o. is working for now.

  • We do seem to spend a lot of time in the meat sections of grocery stores.
  • Breakfast of champions for a girlie and her friend.
  • She waited a long time to finally be rid of the dinosaur
  • When your Uncle, who also loves a good climb, comes out to visit. . .
  • . . .you plan another fourteener - this time Mt. Bierstadt
  • A throw-back arcade.  Legit from the 80's.  The only difference, you play a flat fee and play all you want.  Same cramped hand.
  • A little back-to-school party for the 8 y.o. 
  • What's a gathering of kids, in the summer, without water balloons?
  • Up at 5 am (which isn't a big deal to these guys, all their jobs require early rising) to head to Kansas City and a Cold Play concert
  • Keep the humidity, but I'll take the greenery
  • When one of your Kroo can't go and it's not the same, so you bring him along anyway
  • Concert time
  • Cold Play - Kansas City, KS
Happy Wednesday,