Sunday, January 30, 2022

Food. All of Life is Planning for, Shopping for, and Making Food

Once again it comes down to food. Because no matter what else is going on in our lives, there are 5 people in this house and we all have to eat.
And there are days where family dinners are the only time we are all sitting face to face and interacting with one another. In the mornings we're all generally around, but it's more of a train station with people gathering various items to go to various places. In the afternoons, Cora gets some time with me since she visits my home office after she gets out of school at 3, but the big kids get out at 4:30 and basically go straight to swimming or soccer or theater rehearsal or whatever their interests demand that day.
But at 7:32, exactly 2 minutes after Coach James and whichever kids are swimming that day walk in the door from practice, we all sit down to a family dinner for the next 30 minutes. No distractions, no devices, no TV (never ever; I feel passionately about this)- just food and conversation, and our continued attempts to teach our children table manners ("Landon, it's 'bring the food to you, not bring your face to the food!!' [zomg/sigh]").
It is sacred and meal planning makes it easy- I make the recipe and shopping list on Saturday, James does the shopping on Sunday, and I cook the things during the week. If I know what's coming, I don't have to think about it and I'm not tempted to call James and say "let's just go out."
And so, even though a million other things are happening, here is the only thing I've managed to blog: our menu from last week, this week, and the one for the week after that.

Mon, Jan. 24: French Dip Sandwiches (crockpot; AMAZING), oven baked fries, Brussels & Kale Caesar Salad (this salad blew me away last week- the dressing is incredible and the croutons cannot be described with words; I want to make it every day forever).
Tues, Jan. 25: Crockpot Chicken Taco Soup (this was GREAT and so easy, it was immediately requested again).
Wed, Jan. 26: Pasties! I made a double batch last time just to give me a break one random midweek night.
Thurs, Jan. 27: Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup (forever favorite; James would eat this every day)
Fri, Jan. 28: Italian Style Turkey Penne Toss (we didn't get to have this last week and James has a meet on Saturday, so pasta is always welcome).
Sat, Jan. 29: James will be at his meet and Landon will be at a friend's, so the girls and I are having takeout Thai on the couch with a dance movie of some sort.
Sun, Jan. 30: Millionaire Gnocchi (I've been wanting to make this since Lindsey posted it), probably more Kale Caesar Salad with the magical dressing.

Mon, Jan. 31: Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuits (something cozy to close out January and kick off the week ahead).
Tues, Feb. 1: Greek Pasta Salad, Naan, Tzatziki.
Wed, Feb. 2: Doritos Taco Salad.
Thurs, Feb. 3: Baked Spaghetti, garlic bread, salad.
Fri, Feb. 4: Pizza - homemade or ordered will depend on the week.
Sat, Feb. 5: Out for a fancy dinner after HAMILTON! The kids' Christmas present from us this year, we have amazing seats and know every word to every song and we are SO EXCITED.
Sun, Feb. 6: Thai Crunch Salad with Peanut Dressing

Mon, Feb. 7: Tuscan Chicken in Parmesan Cream Sauce, mashed potatoes, side salad.
Tues, Feb. 8: Tuna Melts, chips, fruit.
Wed, Feb. 9: Roasted Tomato Puttanesca, salad.
Thurs, Feb. 10: Ground Beef Tacos, mexican rice, black beans, toppings.
Fri, Feb. 11: Claire has her final Cotillion dance, which means a night of general social whirlwinding and eating whatever whenever it makes sense (which probably involves pizza).
Sat, Feb. 12: Hashbrown Potato Cheese Soup
Sun, Feb. 13: Salmon, roasted potatoes, roasted carrots.

Beyond the constant cycle of planning meals, shopping for meals, cooking the meals, and cleaning the meals (this life phase of kids doing the dishes, emptying the dishwasher, and wiping the table is my favorite life phase), life is quite wonderful.
I did a boudior photo shoot and it's the best most empowering thing I've ever done in my whole life and I cannot recommend it more. My friend Emily King did my session and if you're in DFW I HIGHLY recommend her. It was the most fun I've had in a long time. (Another friend did my makeup; ensemble obviously not pictured.)
Maggie celebrated her 3rd adoptiversary with a puppacino and extra long naps.
I continue to use the outfits Bonnie made for me anytime I have to leave the house and I'm flummoxed by an ensemble that doesn't involve pj pants.
We're redecorating our TV room to become my study because I've bene working in a corner of our bedroom for nearly 2 years and can no longer pretend this is a temporary arrangement. It's a work in progress, but after I spent a day emptying out all our old bookcases, James and I went out for a fancy dinner and it was delicious and wonderful.
And finally, a few weeks ago was the one year anniversary of my Grandma Jo's death. I wore the ring I inherited from her every day that week, even when I was just at home typing in my bedroom, and thought of her so often.
And while I was sad, everytime the sparkles of her birthstone caught my eye, it made me smile and remember to buy the good stuff and wear it often, use the good china, speak your mind, and never question the need for another accessory. May we all leave such a legacy behind.

Happy almost-February to you all.

Monday, January 10, 2022

January 3-23 Dinner Plan (and Lunches!)

2022 is here and I have been cooking all the things! I treated myself to a new cookbook for the month and it has provided much inspiration. Below is our menu from last week and the weeks ahead. Some of the recipes I can't link to because they're in book, but I wrote one out below because it was AMAZING. Bon app├ętit!

Monday (Jan. 3rd): Chicken Enchiladas (I made this up with shredded chicken, monterrey jack cheese, and verde enchilada sauce), Mexican Rice, Black Beans
Tuesday: Summer Chicken Soup (forever a fave, I skip the zucchini and just add a bag of frozen mixed vegetables towards the end).
Wednesday: I went to see Dear Evan Hansen at Bass Performance Hall! The family had pasta with meat sauce.
Thursday: French Onion Beef Stew (from The Comfortable Kitchen cookbook), Salad, Bread
Friday: Mexican Rice (from my grandma; written out below), Toppings
Saturday: Harvest Salad with Miso Dressing (The Comfortable Kitchen; copied below). Quite possibly the best salad I've EVER made. James added grilled chicken because he had a meet the next day, but it didn't need a thing.
Sunday: Pappardelle with Bolognese Sauce, Salad, Garlic Bread

Dear Evan Hansen outfit!
It is still so exciting everytime I leave the house

Monday (Jan. 10th): Chicken Tortilla Soup
Tuesday: Sheet Pan Kielbasa with Mustard Vinaigrette (The Comfortable Kitchen)
Wednesday: Mediterranean Turkey Meatball Bowls, Tzatziki, Pita, Veggies
Thursday: Crockpot BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, Chips, Fruit
Friday: Out! James and I are hosts for Cotillion, so we'll be grabbing food after watching a bunch of 6th graders learn some new square dances.
Saturday: Probably going out after the kids' swim meet outside of Dallas that afternoon.
Sunday: BBQ Sheet Pan Ribs (The Comfortable Kitchen), Potato Salad, Fruit

Monday (Jan. 17th): Italian Beef Sandwiches or Foil Pack French Dip Sandwiches, Brussels & Kale Caesar Salad
Tuesday: Vegetable Noodle Soup
Wednesday: Coq Au Vin with extra carrots, Mashed Potatoes.
Thursday: Italian Style Turkey Penne Toss, Salad
Friday: Oven Jambalaya, Sauteed Green Beans, Cornbread
Saturday: Date night! Part of James's Christmas present to me was some new insane fancy shoes and reservations at a few restaurants we've been wanting to go to but haven't made it yet spread throughout the year. This time we're hitting up Lonesome Dove and I can't wait!
Sunday: Spaghetti with Crispy Zucchini, Salad

(I'm trying to make big batches of fun salad fixings on Monday and then assemble them throughout the week. These are all great.)
Autumn Glow Salad with lemon dressing
Beet and Goat Cheese Salad
Roasted Sweet Potato Salad
One Pan Farro with Tomatoes
Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad

Mexican Rice
(From my Grandma Mary's next door neighbor when they lived on base in Spain)

1 lb. ground beef (or turkey), browned with diced onion and garlic
1 small can tomato paste
1 regular can tomato sauce
1 can water (from tomato sauce can)
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
(1-2 tsp. sugar; I never add it, but it's in the original recipe)
1 cup cooked rice (I use the bags of frozen brown rice from Trader Joe's, microwaved just before adding to pot at the end.)

1. Brown beef with onion and garlic, drain fat.
2. Add rest of ingredients except rice, simmer for 20+ minutes (it's better the longer it goes).
3. Before serving, add the cooked rice, stir to heat through.
4. Top with shredded cheese, lettuce, diced tomato, sliced olives, avocado, etc. Fritos or tortilla chips on top are also a must.

Harvest Salad with Miso Dressing
(From The Comfortable Kitchen cookbook by Alex Snodgrass, p. 43)

Sweet Potatoes
1.5 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled, halved lengthwise, thiny sliced
2 Tbl olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil
1.5 Tbl white miso
2 garlic cloves, grated
2 Tbl apple cider vinegar
2 Tbl freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch of salt and pepper

5 cups curly kale, deribbed, thinly sliced
1 large apple, cored, cut into 1" pieces
2 cups cooked wild rice
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/2 cup lightly salted roasted pistachios

1. Cook the sweet potatoes: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Toss the sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and arrange on sheet pan. Roast until potatoes are tender and golden brown on the edges, about 22-25 minutes.
2. Make the dressing: Whisk all ingredients together until well combined (I put them all in a mason jar and shake vigorously).
3. Assemble the salad: When there are about 10 minutes left on the sweet potato cook time, add the kale to a large bowl with the dressing and toss until well combined. Add the other ingredients, toss well. When the sweet potatoes are still warm, add to salad and toss gently once more.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Rescue Pets: Meeting Notes, Jan. 3, 2021

Moose: Welcome to the first meeting of 2022.

Maggie: What are we all doing here?

Milo: I am so handsome. Someone should pet me.

Moose: Let's start the year with a sharing of grievances. I'll begin: my favorite fluffy blanket is occasionally wrinkled.

Maggie: My tongue feels dry- do you have a moist towelette?

Milo: I am so fluffy. Look how the sun reflects off my fluffy fur

Moose: I am a sleek creature of darkness.

Maggie: Where's mom?

Milo: Are there snacks? I was told there would be snacks.

Moose: My eyes glow like the night sky at world end.

Maggie: Snacks?!

Milo: Everyone tells me I have the prettiest eyes.

Moose: No one else has any complaints? Any at all? The inconsistent use of the fire place? The humans who can't read your invisible signals about wanting v. not wanting to be petted right at that moment? The failure to retrieve spring toys immediately from under the couch? Anything?

Maggie: I love you.

Milo: I love me.

Moose: Sigh. Meeting adjourned.