Monday, May 12, 2014

Dinner: May 12-18

Happy Monday!

Before I share the menu for this week, I want to tell you how we liked the meals from last week.

Monday: Chipotle chili

I have made this chili several times but I've always substituted chicken broth for the beer. This time, however, I decided to stick to the recipe and try the beer. I have to say, I didn't like it as much. I used a quality dark beer (Oregon no less!), but I thought the taste was too prevalent. I'd much rather taste the chipotle and spiciness, but that's just me.

Tuesday: Thai basil fried rice (sans radishes - I hate 'em)

I need to stop trying to recreate Thai dishes. Why? In a word: fish sauce. I know it's all in my head because Forrest couldn't taste it at all, but the fish taste was so strong for me that I had a bowl of cereal instead.

Wednesday: Baked potatoes with leftover chili

Good. Nothing too amazing but definitely filling and comforting.

Thursday: Crispy paprika-parmesan fish with green beans

Again, I should just stay away from the fish. My tastebuds are super sensitive and even the smoked paprika and parmesan couldn't mask the fishy taste. Forrest liked it though.

Friday: Taco pizza (Friday night is always pizza night)

Instead of cooking we went out to eat! Forrest finished his first year of grad school last week so we went out to celebrate. It was lovely. Especially the no dishes thing.

Saturday: Rotini pasta with ground turkey and broccoli

We had  Taco pizza instead. It was okay. I think I would have preferred refried beans as a base instead of black beans, but, honestly, I think I'm a little burned out on homemade pizza so this poor pizza didn't really have a chance.

Sunday: Grilled chicken, grilled corn on the cob, homemade sweet potato fries (Forrest is making all of this since it's Mother's Day)

We had a big lunch out for Mother's Day which was really special because we almost never eat out twice in one week. I definitely felt spoiled. So for dinner we just had leftovers.


Now for this weeks menu! Hopefully there will be a few winners since, for me, there were so many duds last week.

Monday: Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup

Image retrieved from The Kitchn
PS: I can already tell you that this is wonderful! I love a good Chicken Tortilla Soup and that is what this soup reminded me of. It makes a ton so we're all set for lunches this week.

Tuesday: Easy Sausage, Pepper and Onion Frittata

Image retrieved from Feed Me Phoebe

Breakfast for dinner? Yes please.

Wednesday:  Turkey Bolognese

Image retrieved from Dinner A Love Story

Pasta with tomato/meat sauce is one of the few meals that I know Juniper will eat. However, I've been trying to cut back on the amount of sodium we eat and pasta sauce is loaded with it. Even when I tried to look for a low sodium or "no salt added" option for tomato puree (needed for this recipe), I was out of luck. I ended up buying diced tomatoes (no salt added) that I'll just puree myself.

Thursday: Stir-fried Minced Beef with Chiles and Basil

Image retrieved from Orangette

This recipe is an old favorite that I love to tweak. For instance, it tastes amazing with sauteed red and yellow peppers. This week I'll be substituting ground turkey for the beef, and, needless to say, I won't be adding the fish sauce. I couldn't find Thai chiles so we're going to be boring and use a jalapeno.

Friday: Tacos

Because who doesn't love a good taco night? Also, I've been craving a double-decker taco from Taco Bell but I just can't bring myself to actually go and order one. 

Saturday: Grilled chicken and homemade sweet potato fries

Rerun from last week because we didn't make it. Also, the weather is supposed to be 82 so I know we'll want to be outside.

Sunday: On the road!

We are headed to Arizona to see my parents and I just can't wait!


There you have it, friends. What's on your menu for the week? I'd love to hear.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Dinner: May 5-11

For my birthday this year my parents got me the cookbook, Dinner A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach.

Dinner A Love Story

Jenny had me at "dinner diary." Every week (for fifteen years!) she wrote down what she wanted to eat for the upcoming week. Brilliant, right? This book, part cookbook and memoir, is the fruit of those 15 years. It is divided into the various stages of Jenny's life (i.e. Just-Married Stage and the New Parent Stage) with stories and recipes that correspond to those days. This book has given me hope for the days to come (you know, when my child might actually eat the food in front of her instead of playing with it. Or, wait - does that ever change?) and perseverance in the nitty-gritty of early parenthood. Basically, it revolutionized the way I do dinner in our house.

Since I love plans and lists I have started planning my own menu at the start of every week. When Sunday rolls around I write down what we're going to have Monday-Sunday of the upcoming week and then on Monday (usually) I head to the store with a complete list of all the ingredients I need to make those meals a reality. Planning out our meals has relieved so much stress! Of course, we don't always follow the plan, but it's such a relief to know that the guesswork has been taken out of "what are we having for dinner tonight?" Plus, when I'm stumped about what to include on the menu it's nice to have a handy reference to look back on - "oh yeah! we had (insert meal here) a few weeks ago and it was awesome! I'll make that!"

So, I've decided to let you in on my weekly menu. Maybe this doesn't interest you in the slightest, or maybe, if you're like me, you love this kind of stuff. I also hope that maybe it gives you fresh ideas for dinner because I know how easy it is to fall into a dinner rut. Finally, I hope you'll share your favorite dinners in the comments below. I always love to hear new ideas!

Without further ado, here is our menu for May 5-11

Monday: Chipotle chili (I decided to make this a vegetarian meal to save money)
Tuesday: Thai basil fried rice (sans radishes - I hate 'em)
Wednesday: Baked potatoes with leftover chili
Thursday: Crispy paprika-parmesan fish with green beans
Friday: Taco pizza (Friday night is always pizza night)
Saturday: Rotini pasta with ground turkey and broccoli
Sunday: Grilled chicken, grilled corn on the cob, homemade sweet potato fries (Forrest is making all of this since it's Mother's Day)

What are you having for dinner?


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Review: Healthy Blueberry Muffins (for the toddler who won't eat anything else)

18 months, my friends, is a tumultuous age. I almost feel like I have a mini teenager in the house with all the emotional highs and lows.

While Juniper can still melt my heart with her toothy grin, she can also throw one impressive temper tantrum - in public no less. So far we have survived a tantrum in the library and a tantrum at the park in front of some new friends. I have to say that the latter was more humiliating and I had to fight back tears while my child screamed and kicked and the other child sat watching in quiet fascination and horror.

I have been told that consistency is the key - to keep on disciplining even if it seems like nothing is getting through. But it's hard. Really, really hard.

These days...these days are long and hard and wonderful. These days when she won't eat anything but bagels and cookies... these days when I catch her drawing on the floor, the walls, the kitchen cabinets... these days of pitching fits and then wanting nothing but to be held and cuddled... these days are all too fleeting.

Because these days can be full of a toddler's highs and lows, I have found it imperative to find a few things that lift the spirit. Added bonus if it also fills the tummy and accommodates the picky tastebuds of an 18-month-old.

These muffins are just the ticket.

Sure, they're still starchy and sweet (like a cookie), but unlike a cookie there are more of the good things and less of the bad things.

Here, she looks unsure about what she just put in her mouth.

Ahh, here we go!

I love a muffin that can put a smile on her sweet face.

If you have a picky toddler or if you just need a pick me up, try out these muffins. They are hearty, filling and somehow encouraging for the soul.


Healthy Blueberry Muffins
From The Wednesday Chef

Makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 c shredded unsweetened coconut
1 large egg
1 c cooked oatmeal
1/2 c whole milk (I used 1% organic and it worked fine)
2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 c fresh or frozen blueberries
Preheat the oven to 400 F and butter a 12 cup muffin tin. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and coconut in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg with the milk and butter. Then, with a fork, add the oatmeal and break up the clumps.

Combine the wet ingredients with the dry and then add the blueberries. Both times I have made this, the mixture was really, really thick. I find that it helps to use your hands to incorporate those last bits of coconut or flour in to the mix. Drop by spoonfuls into the prepared muffin pan and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serve warm or at room temp. Apparently these are also perfect to freeze (after completely cooling of course) and heating up whenever the need or mood strikes.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Review: Homemade Play-Dough

Let's talk play dough.

Juniper is now at the age where she is mildly interested in the stuff; however, she has been known to, it. Disgusting, I know. I mean, what child does that? 

(insert sarcastic tone here if you didn't already pick up on it)

While the smell of store bought play-doh immediately takes me back to my own childhood, I really don't want Juni eating it. Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's going to hurt her. It's kind of makes me gag and since I'm not 100% sure that it isn't going to make her even the teensy-weensiest bit sick, I thought I should try my hand at some of the homemade stuff.

I tried this recipe about a month ago, and it smelled amazing. Rosemary play dough? Yes please! But it was so sticky. We're talking can't-even-get-it-out-of-the-plastic-bag sticky. After a few play time attempts I threw it out. It was too much hassle, frustrating rather than fun and Juni wasn't interested.

This morning I found this recipe. The only ingredient I was lacking was cream of tartar so Juni and I went to the grocery store to pick some up.

Um...can we talk for a second about how expensive cream of tartar is????? I didn't even look at the price when I picked it up. I mean, come on! It's such a tiny little jar. Yeah, tiny little jar of over $6. What??? So expensive. But a little goes a long way so hopefully I won't be buying this spendy little item for awhile.

Here are the ingredients you'll need for the best homemade play dough I've found:

Oh, you'll also need a really cute assistant who is great at giving the camera all kinds of attitude.

Work the camera, Juni! The camera loves you!

So you put all the ingredients except the food coloring in a 2 quart pot set over low to medium low heat. It looks really lumpy but that's okay. Just stir and stir and stir until it starts to thicken and then you add the food coloring. Then you stir some more until you can't stir anymore because it feels like your arm will fall off.

Then put it on some wax paper to cool.
I'm sad you can't really see the purple color. Next time I won't be so stingy with the color.

Oh, I should also note that this whole stove process took me like 5 minutes, if that. My arm wanted to fall off because the mixture got so thick it was difficult to keep it moving.

Now comes the big test...

Will she like it?
Will it be too sticky?
Will she still love me if her play dough dreams don't come true???

Just kidding on that last one.

Success. She was enamored with it for approximately 7 minutes - a record!

Oh, the attention spans of toddlerhood.

I may have over done it with the play dough pictures.

Oh well.

Here is the totally easy recipe! If you want more detailed instructions, head on over to Musings From a Stay at Home Mom. Her pictures and instructions are fantastic.


1 cup flour
1 cup water
2 tsp cream of tartar
1/3 cup salt
1 Tbs vegetable oil
food coloring

Mix all the ingredients in a 2 quart pot over low to medium low heat. Once it starts to thicken up, add the food coloring. Keep stirring until the mixture is really thick and gathers around the spoon. Remove the dough to waxed paper to cool.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

It's that time again...

Remember that time I took a two and a half month break from blogging?

Yeah, me too.

It's not that I didn't think about it. I had plenty of ideas to write about, but I just lacked I kept feeling like the first post back needed to be monumental in order to make up for all the weeks I'd been away.

Meh, I've given up on that idea and instead am just going to tell you about what's going on right now.

Today is Fat Tuesday which means tomorrow officially starts the Lent season.

To be honest, I love this season. I love the struggle of giving something up, the inevitable quiet that happens in my physical and emotional space. It is a sacred time, a time of remembering.

Last year I gave up makeup, and it was quite the challenge! This year I am giving up all social media. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter will not see me and I'll not see them for the next forty days. I'm nervous, it's true. I look at social media in my down time (and my busy time) as a way to relax and check out. Without it, well...lets just say that I'm hoping to embrace more of the quiet I mentioned earlier. I'll be posting here regularly (I hope!) to let you know how it's going.

Are you participating in Lent this year? I'd love to hear what you're giving up or adding!