Friday, September 29, 2017

Food for Thought

This week has been rainy and cool - almost cold.  I almost put flannel sheets on the bed this morning, but I saw we would be back in the 80's next week.  So, not quite yet.  The heater is flipped to the "on" position and runs every now and then.  I've had to pull on a sweater in the evenings.  Fall is creeping in.
It is making its way into my menu planning as well, though this week isn't a good example - I made mostly sandwiches for dinner.  I also have been cooking from Taste Of Home recipes, rather than Pinterest.  Because of that, this is the last of my back-logged recipes - some are totally cool-weather-worthy.  And some are mental-note worthy.

I've really gotten in to the "Bowl" thing for meals.  Besides recipes like this Chicken Veggie and Brown Rice Bowls with Peanut Sauce, it's also a great way clear out the 'fridge.  This Chicken one, though, was really good.  The whole peanut sauce, chicken thing is a family favorite anyway.  I didn't use white rice, I used farro - another new favorite.  Loved the crunch of the red peppers and peanuts; bowls are always filling.

For some reason sandwiches have been on the menu a lot, too.  They are easy on nights when the older kids are all over the place.  I can make them up and the kids can grab and go, or grab one when they get home.  These Hot Italian Sandwiches were tasty, from the zip of the dressing, to the tang of the giardiniera (which I would chop up a bit next time.)

I needed a side to the Vegetable Enchilada Casserole and remembered this Taco Rice.  I was still out of rice, so I used Quinoa, but followed the same general recipe.  While the quinoa was okay, and a decent substitution nutrition-wise, I think the longer grains of the rice would have been better - white or brown.  Next time.

The non-meat recipe for the week, this Vegetable Enchilada Casserole was good; lots of flavor and hearty bites.  It took a bit longer to get it all together than the noted 15 minutes.  15 minutes I guess if you have the sauce made, which doesn't take that long, but adds to the time nonetheless.  It has zucchini, which the 19 y.o. can spot and will pick out, but he'll just deal - though it would be good with roasted squash or sweet potatoes if zucchini isn't your thing.  I also added extra of all the ingredients because I was feeding nine.  However, once it was all assembled, I could have probably just left it as is, which was for six (I'm guessing pretty large portions), based on what was left over.

I liked this Kielbasa and Cabbage Skillet, plus it was fast.  I added apples to it - I did Honey Crisp, but Granny Smiths would be better.  Next time I think I'll either shop the cabbage thinner, or I'll buy pre-shredded.  I didn't mind the larger pieces, but cabbage being what it is, by the time the ticker chunks got soft, the thinner leaves were really done.  The pre-shredded stuff is a more consistent size to avoid that.

Baking at altitude can be tricky, though I seldom make any adjustments.  I will if I'm using a box and the box says to, but if I'm baking from scratch I don't.  I've used other make-your-own mixes with success, so when the 9 y.o. wanted a chocolate cake for his birthday I went with this Chocolate Cake Mix.  I know chocolate cakes are a drier crumb.  I know that chocolate cakes, cookies and brownies generally benefit from a bit of under-baking.  I know if I can smell chocolate, it's done.  All that being said, it was dry.  Now the dry could be because it was a bit over-cooked.  The center wasn't setting up, so I think I went a couple minutes too far.  Given the texture though, I think it would have still been rather dry, even if I'd caught it earlier.  It didn't rise much and it was rather dense, too.  If I were an altitude adjuster I might know how to fix it for a future shot, but I'm not, so I'm moving on to another Pin for chocolate cake.  I'm just bummed because it was a birthday cake.

Hubby cooked up a pork loin, which left me with the sides.  He had purchased some brussel sprouts "just because" and so I used them to make this Balsmic-roasted Brussel Sprouts.  They were good.  I liked the purchased balsamic reduction, instead of reducing it myself, for simplicity's sake, but in terms of ingredients, there were things in it that I'm trying to avoid (maybe Trader Joe's is a better option, we just don't have one.)  Next time I'd just make my own reduction, and mentally note the addition of parmesan and pistachios.

Happy Friday,


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

We Are

We, well me really, are falling desperately behind. . .in many things.  After looking at what went on the last couple weeks, I wonder, is it any wonder?  Brace yourselves, it's a long post - well picture-wise anyway.


  • Football and homework. . .okay
  • A night out with her boys
  • And why shouldn't it, she's my girl!
  • When you have to stop within just a few pages of being finished and it takes you more than a week to get back to it
  • Karma. . .she's not nice
  • He wanted a Mustang logo (of course) on his cake.  I baked it, but his sister made it genius and free-handed that horse.  He was beyond thrilled.
  • A Mustang birthday means huge smiles
  • My (now) 17 y.o. and I have shared birthday celebrations since he was born six days after my own birthday.  When the (now) 9 y.o. was born the day before my birthday, it became a threesome celebration
  • It's not her birthday, but someone brought her a gift and she hasn't let it out of her sight for more than 48 hours. . .yes, she slept with it
  • The 9 y.o. watches Chris Fix videos (a DIY car guy.)  We've had a couple car issues and the 9 y.o. swears he can fix them thanks to Chris Fix.  He throws around car words like break pads, catalytic converter, differential. . .so when we bought a car to add to our growing drivers pool, it needed to have its headlight covers replaced (aged, yellowed and just yuck.)  Naturally, Chris Fix had a DIY solution, and the 9 y.o. had seen the video...several times.  We put him to work and he was in H.E.A.V.E.N.
  • Some day I'll learn who, or who NOT, to hand off my camera to for party photos
  • Yes. . .I turned 51.  Bleh.  But I'm not Lary, nor do I spell my name (if that's an "O") with a "Y"  Oh, well, the cake was good.
  • When you're in High School and your friends bring you gifts on your birthday (courtesy the 17 y.o.)
  • His two older siblings took him out for lunch on his birthday.  It's times like that, that I think, "Well, maybe I got some of this raising kids thing right."  Of course, then I get a call from the school and well. . . 
  • We don't do traditional birthday cakes (except me because I love a good cake.)  The 17 y.o. has had donuts as his dessert choice since he was four.  We've piled, stacked, grouped.  It's time to up your game when you turn 17. . .Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes Trifle
  • We didn't doubt he had enough hot air to get all 17
  • When you're ready to go, but your family takes issue with your pants choice.
  • More crafting
  • She's always good at the sleeping
  • Hit up a local performance of A Chorus Line with the girls Sunday afternoon
  • It's been raining for three or four days, plus we've had fog roll in on two evenings.  It's been AWESOME!
  • Impromptu night out to a concert with his sister
Happy Wednesday,


Friday, September 15, 2017

Food for Thought

I'm pretty close to catching up on menu posts - I think this is the last back-logged one.  And even back-logged they are recipes I did recently.

Is it good, or sad, that no matter how long ago I cooked something, I can remember what we thought about it?  Sometimes I have to scan the recipe, but I still know.

It was hot.  Sandwiches sounded good.  Slow Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches it is.  It's hit or miss for me when I make shredded beef anything in the slow cooker - usually it doesn't so much shred and is tough.  I now know it's more than likely because it hasn't cooked long enough to melt all the fat.  My other issue is sometimes the seasonings just evaporate in the long cook times.  I can say both of those issues were NOT present in this meal.  I went longer on the cook time and got a roast that shredded with barely a touch and seasonings that seemed over-the-top at the beginning, were just right when it was all said and done.  Add gooey cheese and, well, there you go.

This Sausage, Pepper and Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowls recipe is showcased as a make-ahead grab-and-go.  I opted to serve it up in ramekins for dinner, but it would be great to have for those everyone is going somewhere nights.  It starts as a sheet-pan meal and it only gets better from there.  I have really grown into using sweet potatoes all year and they are great paired with your choice of sausage (the recipe calls for turkey, but I had smoked Kielbasa.)  Seasoning comes from oven roasting and the flavor of your sausage, and a bit of salt and pepper.  It's hearty as is, or with warmed bread.

Using a quesadilla recipe always feels like a "duh" moment, but like sandwich recipes, sometimes you need a reminder of what goes well together (or you have no brain left to think of combos) - which is why I cook other people's recipes and am not a cook who creates her own.  Such as it is with these Roasted Corn Quesadillas.  The snap of fresh corn (because it was in season) and the light heat from green chilies and all the melty cheese.  It was good and would make a great side to soup when the weather finally turns.

These Perfect Summer Basil Burgers are a just seasoned with salt and pepper,.  It's the sauce is the star.  It's bright and summery and fresh.  It's a great pairing with beef.  I thought about, and have seen, english muffins used instead of buns, but went with buns.  Maybe next time.

It was a chocolate cake, WITH cherries.  How could this Black Forest Texas Sheet Cake go wrong?  It didn't.  It was totally worth turning the oven on for.  Moist.  Cherry-filled.  Good stuff.

When all I have to cook in a hot kitchen is bacon, I can handle it.  These Bacon Lettuce Avocado Tomato Chicken Salad Wraps were good.  Well seasoned - I liked the Worcestershire sauce bite - and filled with enough to be hearty.

I think I mentioned before, I've been having more meatless meals without really having to think about it.  Which is good.  Hopefully I can continue that as we hit the cooler months, which seems to beg for meats.  This Mediterranean Farro Salad with Spiced Chickpeas was awesome.  It was fresh and well spiced with great crunch.  It was the first time I'd used Farro (she has instructions for cooking linked in the post), which is now our favorite grain.  I think it would be great as an oatmeal alternative and I need to see if people use it as such.  It's got a great chew and holds up well in salads and bowls.  Bowls and sheet-pan meals.  That pretty much describes our summer.

Happy Friday,


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Creative Time Taken

Between my boys heading out fishing a couple weekends ago, and hubby being gone this weekend, I had time in a (mostly) empty house to do some soul-saving crafty things.

I had a few choices that I talked about here.  This weekend I opted to work on a couple things - now that my ducks, or rather additional supplies, were now in a row.

I picked up a home decor kit from  Paisley and Polka Dots.  I had been decorating the house for the change in seasons and decided to start with this wooden apple, to add to the decor.  All the paper and embellishments were included.  It was an easy project, that took very little time and was satisfying to complete.

The Apple is part of a larger box that includes 11 other seasonally-based pieces.  The apple, along with the other 11 designs, can go in the place of the "O" in the "Home" lettering below, but I opted to put it in with my mantle decor.

The letters for Home" were a bit more challenging, only because of their shapes.  Cutting out the papers and then sanding off the edges took a little longer, but nothing unmanageable.  My A-type personality is trying to be okay with my not aligning the paper on the "M" the same as the other letters (which happened because I wasn't thinking) - the "slats" run horizontal instead of vertical.

I chose to put the letters in a corner shelving unit in my kitchen.  I need to add more fall things to this corner, but I like the letters here.  I'm sure they will move around as various seasonal decor fills or opens up these shelves.  Sometimes they'll be accompanied by the other 11 designs in place of the "O" and sometimes it'll probably just be as it is now.  I really like the letters size and can see different spots in the house where they would work, too.

This weekend is all about birthdays - we have three in my little family that fall within a week - so creative time will be limited, if not nonexistent.

Happy Thursday,


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

We Are

Last week there wasn't a lot going on.  School, work, homework.  That's about it.  Hubby did head out to spend a Dude's Weekend with his brother, which made it even more quiet at home.  Opened up some time as well. 

  • Brothers together again.  Those innocent looks fool no one.
  • They attended a Cigar-fest. . .
  • . . .and appear to have enjoyed the "tasting."
  • Meanwhile, back at home.
  • Last weekend he was shown, by dad, how to make pancakes.  This weekend he assured me, as he stood on the side of my bed, that he knew how.  Darned if he wasn't right.  They were really good blueberry pancakes.  The mess he left behind, however . . .
  • Good to know she's a helpful dog
  • Beauty
Happy Wednesday,