Monday, March 2, 2015

Food and Other Wonderful Things

I haven't posted a menu in a while, but I am still cooking every night while I lovingly pet my counter tops and gaze across the peninsula at the whole world spread out before me. Or really just the living room and sun room, but still, I see far. So I'm totally still in the newlywed phase with my kitchen and want to make out with it all the time.

So I'm cooking a lot of things, though lately things like soccer and swim practice are getting in the way of some of my preferred meals that involve 45 minutes of vegetable chopping prep time. A few fave recipes we've tried lately:

Lasagna soup. Go make this. It is so insanely good, especially with the cheesy goodness you put in the bottom of the bowl and then ladle the hot soup over and oh my goodness, it feels so fancy and cozy and tastes so wonderful. I've made it twice- once with chicken Italian sausage, and another with both chicken sausage and ground beef and while we usually prefer our recipes to be lighter on the meat, that heavier chunkier version was my favorite. It really tasted like lasagna in a bowl.

Quinoa Fiesta Enchilada Bake. A family favorite. Not as good as the amazing Black Bean Spinach Enchiladas, but very yummy and satisfying. We like things that involve serving with sliced avocados. Or three sliced avocados (Cora eats one herself). Recipes are always subject to your own interpretation.

Meatball stroganoff. Landon's favorite meal and one I always have the ingredients on hand for, so it's often a pinch hitter at the end of the week, served with frozen steamed green beans and those delicious frozen Marie Callenders wheat rolls.

Chicken Barley Chili. Saturday night's dinner. So satisfying, yet surprisingly healthy.

And then here's the menu for the week ahead:

Sunday: giant chef salads with all the organic veggies I could buy at Trader Joe's, hard boiled eggs, diced grilled chicken, and anything else I find in the fridge/pantry; cheesy bread. My kids may be weird, but they love a giant salad full of all the things.

Monday: pesto grilled cheese and this tomato soup. I'd originally planned something different, but the weather was cold and grey and I left work early after a doctor appointment and had time to stop at the store on the way home to indulge my fancy. The soup was excellent and those pesto grilled cheeses are the best grilled cheeses ever.

Tuesday tacos! I'm not a huge fan of the traditional ground beef taco, but JP loves them and it makes him extra happy when we eat them on Tuesday. He asks for so little. Mexican rice and refried black beans will also be involed.

Wednesday: penne pasta with sauteed zucchini and onion and this new Roasted Red Pepper and Spinach Chicken Sausage we got at Costco. And then I'll probably add a bunch of marinara sauce at the end because JP likes food saucey. I'm kind of winging it with this one because the delicious sample forced me to buy the sausage and I'm not sure what to do with it.

Thursday: chicken, pineapple, and red pepper diced and tossed in TJ's Soyaki sauce, then broiled in the oven and served over rice. A meal I made up one night we planned to have shish kebabs, and then realized I didn't have any skewers. This meal is surprisingly delicious and cooks in about 10 minutes.

Friday: Costco frozen mahi filets, other half of package of TJ's organic zucchini cooked in some way, rice.

So only one new recipe this week, which is unusual, but I spent all my internet time on reading skincare reviews. I'm also trying to plan ahead for all the practices with meals that are easy and quick to make because last time I just pretended all those practices weren't happening and was woefully unprepared when we all got home at 7:15 and no kitchen elf had appeared to get dinner going while we were gone. There was a lot of scrambled eggs and cereal.

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New topic: I discovered Ebates over the weekend. I'm not sure how I missed it before, but now I'm almost upset to how much money I could have made for the family through my online shopping orders of days past. So many dollars left behind. I'll make it up for us somehow.

I spent my birthday money at Sephora buying technical makeup items like "brushes" and "foundation," but if I had extra birthday dollars I would buy this purse for spring:

I keep agonizing between the red/chili and brown/cream color like it matters.

But I like my unrequited handbag love interests to be specific.

There's also a pair of leggings at Lululemon with mesh and black strips of fabric criss crossing down the front that look very bondage-y, but I adore them and my relationship with barre does have certain masochistic overtones. They aren't available online and I've banned myself from the store for the last month because I'm afraid I won't be able to not buy them.

I might need a food processor. If you have on, do you use it? I hate cleaning kitchen tools and I look at all the parts of a food processor and think, I would pull it out, think about the clean-up, and put it back away, but then there are recipes I cannot make because I don't have one. And you know how much I like putting vegetables in everything, now I could add even more! I've googled "do I need a food processor" multiple times and no one has given me a good answer.

(Side note: before we had Cora I often googled "should I have a third baby?" and the answer was usually no. In case any one else is googling that right now, the answer is YES.)

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In non-consumer-goods wonderful things, JP lost his wallet on Saturday. We were walking in to Trader Joe's when he felt his pocket and realized his wallet wasn't in there. He was certain he had it when he left the house, and he'd gotten out twice to scrape ice off his windshield along the way and thought it might have fallen out onto the street. He headed back out on the dicey roads to try to find it, or at least get back to the house to grab my wallet so we could pay for our purchases, while the kids and I shopped for everything in the store (we were out of everything by Saturday).

He got back to TJ's with my wallet and lots of sadness about the loss of his just as the kids and I were pushing our two carts to the checkout. We paid and slowly drove back home looking down at the road for black leather with increasing hopelessness only to arrive home and find his wallet tucked into our front glass door handle!! Someone had found it, seen the address on his license, and left it for us entirely in tact. It's nice when my "I'm sure someone will find it and bring it back to you" optimistic first thoughts are validated. And extra nice to not have to cancel a bunch of credit cards. I wish I knew who'd brought it back- I'd bring them cookies and wine.

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And finally, we have taught Cora to locate her tummy on demand.

Cora, where's your tummy?!!, we all exclaim constantly.

THERE IT IS!, we yell in unison.

Poor baby probably feels sorry for us being so easily entertained and keeps humoring us with a tummy locating pat on the head. She's the best.


  1. I live in a sketchy neighborhood. Like one block away are really skeezy apartments filled with sex offenders. Across the street is a duplex full of renters that smoke weed all day (and use their outdoor grill every single meal- even breakfast). One day I didn't even know I had lost my wallet (probably fell out of my car onto the sidewalk) and someone picked it up and put it on our door mat. I was awestruck and super, super thankful!

    I use my food processor ALL the time. But I don't have a fancy Kitchenaid mixer or blender so maybe that's why? I use it to make any dough that requires you to cut in butter. I also use it to make all kinds of sauces and purees for tacos and casseroles. It's so easy to clean (I don't have a dishwasher so I should know!). It also comes with a bunch of attachments like a shredder blade. I've never used those but I probably should get on that. If you do a lot of veggies, you need at least a ten cup processor.

  2. Yes, you need a food processor even if it is a tiny one. We got one as a wedding gift 7 years ago and I didn't use it for the first 6 years of ownership, but now I use it all the time. I got a Ninja blender as well which is awesome for big things like making your own pureed pumpkin(which I highly recommend), but many of the things I need to pulverize fit better in my little food processor. I have made some amazing pestos, homemade goldfish crackers, and raspberry cream cheese deliciousness with it. I hate doing dishes, but my food processor is super easy to clean. It only has 3 parts that get dirty: the bowl, the blade, and the lid.

  3. Definitely on the food processor. Pie crusts, chopping nuts, shredding vegetables, pasta dough - some of the things I made with mine. Easy enough to clean - I don't have a dishwasher so I do it by hand.

  4. I'm sorry, I have to dissent on the food processor. I have one (10 cup with multiple attachments) and never, ever use it. Mostly because I hate washing all the parts (minimum of four parts to wash plus the base to wipe down). I prefer my hands to the processor for dough but obviously I'm the minority on that, so maybe it's user error. However! I have an immersion blender with a mini food processor attachment, and use it almost daily. I highly recommend it it if your food processing interests lie in blending/pureeing or coarsely chopping small quantities (onions/peppers, bread crumbs, etc.). Easy to wash (just one piece! or three small ones if you use the food processor attachment). It's a Cuisinart SmartStick and was about $30 at Costco a couple of years ago.

  5. I am obsessed with my food processor and use it all the time. It is a beast and takes up a fair chunk of cabinet space, but it's so worth it. Dough, sauces, mass amounts of veggies, pesto, nurs, shredding tons of cheese... It's a huge time saver. I have the Cuisinart with dual bowls. Wash it in the dishwasher!

  6. I think the thing about a food processor is that you'll only really use it if it's on the counter. It's unwieldy enough that if you have to haul it out every time you need it, you'll avoid it. That said, mine is on my counter and I use it all the time, particularly when it comes to grating or chopping vegetables. HUGE timesaver and if you wash it right away you can just do it by hand. I have a Cuisinart one, not the top of the line, and it's amazing.

    Also, I would totally recommend a mini chopper. It doesn't have all the fancy attachments, so you can't grate veggies or cheese, but you can chop and for things like garlic it's a huge help. Cuisinart and Kitchen Aid both make them and they are great.

  7. I concur on the food processor. I have a 7 cup one (it's just me and my husband) and I use it all the time. I do use the shredder attachment to shred cheese (makes pizza night so much easier) and shred cucumber for tzatziki. My husband uses it to make dough for amazing scones, and I use it at the very least to chop up an onion. Obviously if you have more vegetable intensive dishes, you can use it too. You can wash it in the dishwasher, we use ours more frequently than we run the dishwasher (again, cooking for 2) so I don't mind washing the parts. I agree that if the machine is accessible you're more likely to use it than if you have it stored away somewhere. I keep mine in my pan drawer right below the counter so it's not out all the time, but very readily accessible. Seriously, you won't mind washing the parts with the time you save on chopping.

  8. I agree with Sian. I have one very similar to the one in the link. LOVE IT! The full blown one I can take or leave.

    anon - jlv

  9. OMG, baby bellies!

    Re: the purse, red. Always red.

    Re: the food processor, I manage pretty effectively without one. I've had one in the past and it really was a PITA to deal with, and I hate big appliances taking up space in my kitchen. Also, I find it oddly satisfying to chop veggies with a huge knife. I use an immersion blender for anything that needs a finer puree. I picked one up on clearance at Target for less than $20 and it is awesome. Much less hassle than the regular blender, which only gets pulled out about once a year to make frosty beverages.


  10. we have a little food processor i got at an estate sale. i used it for meatball filling and to make hummus in the summer. not for much else.

  11. YES you NEED a food processor. You can dishwash the parts, and it makes vegetable chopping a non chore. I have a giant Cuisinart and leave it out on the counter because I use it almost evreyday. Sometimes I chop veggies for two meals at once so I only use it every OTHER day. Seriously. It will change your cook time and pre time FOREVER.

  12. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, get a food processor. It's amazing for so many things. It's the only way I make pie crusts anymore (literally less than 3 minutes and dough is done), so great for things like homemade hummus (which is way better than store brand), pesto, salsas, falafel, mousse, bread dough, I could go on and on. It is second only to my Kitchenaid mixer, but it's close.

  13. Ebates! Welcome to the club and remember to check in with it always because the rebates really add up. I used it when I bought my washer and dryer for the new house and got a great chunk of change back.

  14. We have a food processor, a blender, a juicer, attachments to the Kitchen Aid mixer and an immersion blender. The immersion blender gets 10x the usage of the others. The only time we use the food processor is if we make pizza dough (super easy). The immersion blender is magic for pureeing veggie soups. It will also make smoothies.

    The food processor is nice to have, but it takes up a LOT of room and all the component parts need to be washed, stored and kept together.

  15. I JUST got rid of my food processor because I realized that between a Vitamix and a mandoline, I have no use for it. The vitamix takes up about as much room as the food processor did, but it is so much more versatile (chop veggies! make hummus/smoothies/ice cream/soup!), and the mandoline folds flat and takes up no space. Plus, both are much easier to clean than the food processor was.