Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Love to Cook, Hate to Plan: A Weekly Dinner Menu

I've come to the conclusion that I love to cook but hate to plan. If I was gainfully employed, I'd be all over food subscription services, like Blue Apron, Plated, or Hello Fresh, but since I'm not and food prep falls under my list of responsibilities, it's high time to start making this chore less chore-like. By doing a little work up front and making a menu on Sundays for the week ahead, I figured it would make the rest of the week go a little smoother. Anyone else with me? 

There's no question that what makes this hard is finding recipes that everyone will like and we're a tough crowd to please. The kids prefer foods that aren't mixed together (which makes casseroles, soups, and crockpot meals iffy), I don't eat red meat or pork, but will eat some chicken, and we have nightly activities, so dinners need to be quick and/or kept warm so that it's ready to go when we return home late. Crockpot meals would be ideal but it's tough to find ones that are appealing. I've learned to use the "delay start time" feature on my oven but it makes me a bit nervous. I feel I should add that I still make things that I know aren't the kid's favorites, but I offer other foods they do like to offset them. For example, when I make Tortilla Soup, I'll make quesadillas to go with so they can dip them into the soup and at least try a few bites. It's my plan to wear them down and finally get them to eat soup! 

It should also be said that of course hiccups always happen and some plans might need to be changed last minute for something else. Always good to be flexible!

I know I'm a couple days behind, but here's the menu for this week. 

Monday's soup can be found HERE. I'm not a huge fan of cooking with "cream of ...."  soups but it was surprisingly good and really easy. (I used stock instead of water and used more of it and also threw in a can of Rotel because it's been in the pantry way too long and needed to be used.) Two of my avocados were bad, so no guacamole. I sliced up the remaining one and divided it amongst the four of us. 

Tuesday's salads start off with romaine lettuce and everyone adds what they want to theirs. Toppings included tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, sunflower seeds, feta cheese, hard boiled eggs, grilled chicken, and white beans. Dressings are by choice as well. (Here's a really good Dijon vinaigrette The store I was at on Tuesday was out of spaghetti squash, so I nixed it and might try it again next week. All the toppings are prepped beforehand and are ready to go for dinnertime.  I bake the bread right before we have to leave the house to get to gymnastics, wrap it up, and put it back in the (turned off) oven, and slice it when we get back and are ready to eat. 

Wednesday's are our craziest nights of the week. Everyone eats on their own schedule and it's a hunt and gather sort of night. 

Thursday's sandwiches are great on mini ciabatta rolls. Drizzle olive oil on both sides of the cut bread, smear with goat cheese, layer the turkey, spinach or lettuce, roasted red peppers, and salt and pepper. Smoosh together and cut on the diagonal. I'll pass out some Kettle Cooked Salt and Vinegar chips along with the sliced apples and veggies. (I never used to like those chips but Justin has made the entire family fans over time!) These sandwiches can be packed up and are good for eating on the go!

Friday will be busy too, so I'll make the pasta, then add it to a crock pot, and turn it to it's lowest setting right before leaving the house so that it's warm when we get back to the house and are ready to eat.

Saturday is all about take-out pizza!

Sunday's salmon glaze can be found HERE. I brush it on the fish when it's halfway done on the grill and then drizzle a bit more before serving. The green beans are actually haricot verts and I sauté them.

Check back on Sunday for next week's menu.
Let me know if you have any fast family favorites! 

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tea Cup Bird Feeder

My daughter came to me on Saturday morning with a picture of a bird feeder that she wanted to make, but unfortunately I didn't have all the specific materials, so this is what we came up with instead. I'm happy to finally have put these tea cups to good use since I've had them since last spring! The finished product is adorable and took less than 5 minutes to make, so two thumbs up!  Here we go!

You'll need these plastic tea cups from Target, which are sold in the party aisle. 

Get your hot glue gun warmed up and align the cup and saucer. 

Use a quarter-sized blob of glue and hold them together until they set. 

When the glue is completely cool, tie a ribbon to the handle, hang on the tree, and fill with bird seed. 

That's it! They look so cute hanging in the tree and are a great way to welcome spring!

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday 5: Vacation Edition

We had a great week at the beach and got home just in time to celebrate the weekend. Perfect timing! Here's to 5 (plus a couple more) happenings from the week worth celebrating. Hope you all had a great week too!

Here's to my mom because this picture was her idea. 
(She had taken the same one of my niece and nephew the week before and wanted one with Vance and Vaughn too. It may look like an easy shot, but a lot of repositioning and laughing took place. Well worth it though!)

Here's to S'mores on the beach.
(The kids stuffed themselves silly and to top it off, the bartender kept slipping Vaughn skewered strawberries and mini-Snickers. At least some sort of fruit was involved!) 

Here's to ringing the bell on a great day with a drink in our hand and our toes in the sand at our favorite place.

Here's to this sea snail and the fun that he provided until he was placed back into the ocean.
(By the look of his little stalky-eyes it's hard to tell who was more creeped out - us or him!)

Here's to sandy mermaids...

and to sandcastle builders.

Here's to Happy Hours on the lanai.
(Complete with cards, Yahtzee, and magazines.)

Here's to a week in paradise and to all the many memories we made!

Happy Spring Equinox and to tonight's Supermoon! So many things to celebrate!
Have a great weekend! 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Friday 5: Celebrating Simplicity

5 simple happenings from the week worth celebrating.

Here's to this honey that's been satisfying my sweet tooth this week.
(I've been eating in on apples, in tea, and am finding it a bit addictive!  Good thing it's healthy! Yet another great Philosophie product, click HERE for it.)

Here's to Vaughn for earning another gymnastics pin. 
(I'm impressed with her balance on the beam, her flexibility, and love to watch her on the bars!)

Here's to Vance who has mastered scrambled eggs all by himself. 
(He surprised me with breakfast the other morning and was quite proud of himself! Notice the Sriracha?! Ha!)

Here's to fairy gardens and beautiful weather.
(The weather here has been great this week and Vaughn has slowly been setting up her fairy village.) 

Here's to drastic haircuts that end well.
(I was really nervous about him cutting his hair but look how cute this guy is! Plus, it's so much easier in the mornings!)

Happy Spring Break and Cheers!!!
What will you be celebrating tonight?

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Everything's Better with Sriracha

I'm not a fan of spicy foods, so it's comes as a total surprise that I can't get enough Sriracha lately. It's not just hot sauce, the flavor is so good. I put it on eggs, pasta, avocados, sandwiches, in soups  - it really is good on everything. In case you can't get enough either, I made a Pinterest board for recipes.

I was already a fan before I knew anything about the company, but once I saw the owner of the company on a Bizarre Foods episode, I instantly loved it more. To read more about this US company, the owner, and how they don't even need to advertise, click HERE

How about you guys? Any Sriracha lovers in the house?

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Friday, March 06, 2015

Friday 5: Celebrating Simplicity

5 simple happenings worth celebrating from the week. 

Here's to silly Seuss hats.
(And to fun kids who aren't scared to show their Who side!)

Here's to the feeling of a clean closet. Aaaahhhh... 
(Anyone else see a face in those bags?)

Here's to daffodils and warmer temps for the weekend!
(Spring, is that you?)

Here's to Vaughn and her new found love for Junie B. Jones books.
(She loves that she can read chapter books now!)

Here's to cute lucky shamrocks that can be found HERE. It's so fun making these little guys!
(I like to hide them in pockets, desk drawers, backpacks...anywhere they can be found. A fun way to bring a smile to someone's face.)

What are you celebrating tonight?

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Thursday, March 05, 2015

Cinnamon Rolls vs. My Kids

Several weeks ago, on a lazy morning, the kids asked me to make them cinnamon rolls and it occurred to me that they've never made them on their own. That's right, my almost 10 and 7 year olds have never made pre-made cinnamon rolls, something I'm sure I could've done with my eyes closed when I was their age.

I was in the middle of something so I suggested they try making them by themselves. What unfolded before my eyes was sad and pitiful. They struggled with every step and the oldest one gave up when they couldn't get the rolls out of the can. "I'm just gonna make toast!" I heard him say so I stepped in to tell him, "Oh no, you're not!" and have a quick chat about not giving up when something gets difficult. It was at that point where the younger one took the lead and without her the cinnamon rolls would never have gotten done.

Later that day I was folding the kids laundry and came across an impressive amount of clothes that I knew had not been dirty in the first place. Already balled socks that have never been worn and shirts that were tried on and easier to put in the dirty clothes, rather than hanging them back up. Also, I had done their laundry 3 days ago, so how on earth could there be 5 pairs of dirty pajama pants?

I blew. I had had enough. While I love to be their Mom, take care of them, and do things for them, it's high time they start spreading their wings a bit and learning some responsibility.

Since that point, Vance does his own laundry (and I can't seem to keep him out of the kitchen, but that's a story for another day). I still have to remind him to check his dirty clothes to see if he needs to run a load, but he carries them down and starts the washer himself. If he's around, he puts them into the dryer, but if not, I'll do that for him. Same goes for folding. Vaughn likes to do hers too, but I help her a bit more. Her specialty is taking out the trash which she does when she sees a full can.

Baby steps, but it's a start.

What do your kids do around the house to help out?

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