Family · Food

Menu Monday 9/18/17

We’ve got a busy week so I’ll make this short and sweet.

Monday:  Grilled chicken leg quarters with pasta salad and black-eyed pea salad.  Today dinner has to be ready when the girls get home from school at 4pm so I’m going with dishes that I can prepare early in the day.  Sorry if I disappoint you but the pasta salad is courtesy of a classic boxed mix with chopped: olives (black and green),  roasted red pepper, sun-dried tomato, and canned artichokes added to it.  For the black-eyed pea salad, simply drain and rinse a can of black-eyed peas and add frozen corn, roasted red pepper, red onion, & pickle relish (I also use some of the “juice” from the relish.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday:  Fish tacos with slaw.  It’s an old standby recipe but someone gave me a head of cabbage and it needs to be eaten. See Wednesday of Menu Monday 6/12/17 or Monday of Menu Monday 7/3/17 for ideas.

Wednesday:  Yellow rice and black beans with grilled chicken breast and pico de gallo.  We’ve done this one before, see Menu Monday 4/10/17 for details.

Thursday:  It’s sandwich Thursday, our busiest day of the week.  I think I’ll grill extra chicken on Wednesday and we can have grilled chicken sandwiches with mayo, lettuce, and tomatoes.  I’d be happy having these on plain white toast (just like my favorite turkey sandwich on the day after Thanksgiving) but I may pick up some nice hoagie rolls instead.

Friday:  Homemade pizzas.  I’ll just pick up some pizza dough from the grocery store (or maybe those pre-made pizza crusts) and we can top them with whatever is in the refrigerator.  I always have Alfredo sauce and tomato sauce on hand as well as pepperoni.  And this week there will also be mushrooms, onion, ham, bacon, mozzarella cheese, and maybe even leftover chicken.  See Friday of Menu Monday 12/26/16 or 1/9/17 for inspiration.

Food · Pancakes · Uncategorized

Weekends are for Pancakes: Oatmeal Pancakes

I got the idea for these pancakes earlier this week when we had a cold snap and I decided to have a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast.  I usually like fresh fruit, a spoonful of jelly or honey, and toasted nuts (usually pecans because we always seem to have plenty of those here in Arkansas) in my oatmeal.  My pear tree was hit by the late frost this Spring and unfortunately I only got a total of 3 pears off it this year (better luck next year).  I decided that a diced pear, pear butter (like apple butter, but made with pears- you gotta use what you’ve got) and toasted pecans would be good in my oatmeal.  I added a dash of cinnamon on top and it was delicious.  So that bowl of oatmeal gave me the inspiration for this weekend’s pancakes.

Bowl of Oatmeal Pancakes 

1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 small pears (or apples), diced
1/2 stick butter, 1/4 cup, melted, plus additional for buttering skillet
Pancake syrup or apple/pear butter for topping

Directions

Mix dry ingredients, including the pecans, in a bowl. In a another bowl, mix the wet ingredients: sour cream, milk, eggs, vanilla. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined, then stir in the melted butter.
Heat a griddle over medium heat and brush with additional melted butter or cooking spray (my griddle doesn’t require this step) .  Pour pancakes, each about 1/3 cup, onto griddle then sprinkle with diced pear/apple.  Cook until bubbles form on the top, then turn. Cakes will cook in about 2 minutes on each side. Serve with syrup over the top or in true oatmeal style, with apple/pear butter.
Thanks to Rachel Ray for the recipe that gave me the basis for this one.

Health · Wellness

Wellness Wednesday: Those pesky New Year’s Resolutions 

January 4, 2017 I posted my resolutions for the year.  Writing them down is supposed to make them stronger somehow.  I revisited my progress in March and now I’m checking back in.  In a nutshell this is the condensed version of them.

Resolution #1

January 4, 2017:   Try to cut back on processed foods and find exercises that I can do even with my feet in the terrible condition they are in. Walking, running, and any type of exercise that puts pressure on my feet are out so some research is going to be necessary. Weight loss would be great but my goal is a stronger, healthier body.

March:  I have lengthened my yoga routine and perform it at least 5 times a week (sometimes more). My body complains whenever I skip it. My feet and ankles are getting stronger and I’ve found some cardio moves that I can do that don’t put too much pressure on my feet. I must confess that I am still eating unhealthy snacks after dinner and am trying desperately to stop. I am so mad at myself afterwards, but can’t seem to keep myself from doing it. Needless to say, no weight loss has occurred.

September:  It is now September and I can honestly say that I feel like I have fulfilled this resolution. Although not to the extent that I would have liked. Our garden has provided a bounty of fresh vegetables this season and I’m proud to say that we eat one meatless meal almost every week. I don’t think it’s helped us cut back on junk food consumption as much I would have liked, but there’s always next year’s resolutions. I’m sure we eat a lot less processed foods than other families, but I haven’t been able to reduce my portions enough to lose even a pound of weight. My late night snacking is still a problem as well. I keep trying though. My yoga routine went out the window as soon as school was out for the summer. Unless I got up at 6am and performed my routine in the cramped quarters of my bedroom, someone always walked in and disturbed me. I tried to get my girls to practice yoga with me and they pretty much put an end to my yoga routine as well as resolution number 2 (no yelling). All they wanted to do was talk, giggle, or complain that it was too hard. Near the end of June however I realized that while I wasn’t really strong enough to swim enough laps in our pool for it to make much difference, I could tread water. I have been doing this almost daily and can now easily tread for over 30 minutes without getting out of breath. This is great exercise for me since it puts no pressure on those painful feet of mine. I even manage to swim a few laps during my time in the water. While I haven’t lost any weight I have toned up my legs considerably. Alas all good things must come to an end, the weather is getting colder and our schedules are getting busier and I’m already having trouble finding time (or high enough temperatures) for my swim. Maybe I can get back to yoga with the kids in school? Or maybe I’m strong enough to try bicycling.

Resolution #2

January:  This one is for the entire family. We need to yell less and listen more. Our new mantra is going to be: STOP, LISTEN, BREATHE, THINK, and then ACT. No yelling, I’ve learned it doesn’t do any good anyway. 

March:  I must say that I was doing great until the end of January (3 whole weeks) when I exploded over my eldest daughter’s lack of concern about practicing for her speech and song for the impending Jr. Beta Convention. I was so frustrated with her indifferent attitude that I didn’t even realize I was yelling until it was over.  Time to start over again.

September:  Somehow I don’t think my family will ever fulfill this resolution.  We’re loud and emotional and unfortunately that leads to yelling especially when we’re frustrated by other family members actions (or lack their of).  Back to January’s mantra, “STOP, LISTEN, BREATHE, THINK, and then ACT.”  Maybe I can have it tattooed on everyone’s foreheads so we’ll see it before we speak.  I’m afraid it’s going to take something that drastic to force a change in this behavior.

Resolution #3:

January:  I resolve to create a “Happiness Journal” to record the things I’m thankful for that make me happy every day, and I will try to live in the moment and appreciate every minute whether difficult or joyous.”

March:  I started off great (not exactly). I purchased a journal and titled it. Then one month later (February 4th, to be exact) I made my first entry in it. It was two pages long and consisted of me venting my frustrations about my entire family. In the end I finally managed to find two tiny things to be grateful for. One week later I managed a list of three things that I was happy about. I haven’t touched it since. It’s time for a re-boot on Resolution 3 as well.
September:  In preparation for this post, I spent 30 minutes searching for my “Happiness Journal,” that should tell you how well I’m doing with this resolution.  After March’s post I dutifully tried (for 2 days) to list things that made me happy, but I found that what I really wanted to do was vent about all the things that had made me mad that day.  I wasn’t sure how healthy that would be (now I’m thinking maybe it would be a good idea, at least I wouldn’t keep things bottled up inside me until I explode thereby breaking Resolution #2).  Needless to say nothing else was written until I dug out the journal for this post.  The first day of the “re-boot” I managed to list 2 things I was happy about.  Imagine that, after 6 months you’d think the list would be longer than that.  The next night when I couldn’t sleep I used the journal to vent about all the changes I want to make in my life so maybe then I’d have something to write in a “Happiness Journal.”  Maybe I should just rename this journal “Things I Think Would Make me Happy” or “Journal for Venting my Frustrations so I don’t Break Resolution #2.”  

I’m writing all this to give you a little hope, not to discourage you from making resolutions.  We may not stick to the letter of our January resolutions, but some part of our proposed positive changes usually stick.  And any positive change in our lives is a win in my book, no matter how small.  What I have learned is that your resolutions should be small (think baby steps) and realistic.  

 

Family · Food

Menu Monday 9/11/17

Since today is 9/11 I hope you all take a moment to remember the tragedy and heroism of that day as well as the everlasting changes it made in our lives.  Thank you to all our First Responders, firefighters, paramedics, police, and of course our military for all that you do to keep our country safe!

Now on to less important matters.  What are we going to eat this week?  We’re definitely eating eggplant because my garden won’t stop producing them.

Monday:  Eggplant rollatini, Caesar salad, and garlic toast.  We’re going to slice our Japanese eggplants (2-3, depending on how many rollatinis you want to make) into ¼” planks, season with olive oil, salt, and pepper then grill or sauté until softened (not cooked through).  Next spread ricotta mixture from our Eggplant Lasagna recipe on each plank and roll up into a pinwheel.  Repeat with remaining eggplant, placing pinwheels side by side in a greased baking dish (I use an 8 x 8″ casserole dish).  Cover pinwheels with marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella.  Bake at 375 degrees about 30 minutes, until veggies are cooked through and cheese is melted and bubbly on top.  When serving make sure you scoop out individual pinwheels (don’t cut through them) for a more elegant presentation.  Everyone will think you slaved for hours over them.

Tuesday:  Chalupas, tostaguacs, or bean tostadas.  Whatever you want to call them.  To me a Chalupa is a crispy corn tortilla topped with refried beans, queso fresco, guacamole, lettuce, and tomatoes.  They can also include ground beef, or shredded chicken, pork or beef.  Homemade guacamole is a must.  Here is my favorite recipe:

Guacamole
(t = teaspoon and T = tablespoon)

2 medium or 1 large avocado 
2T minced onion
2T chopped fresh cilantro or celery leaves
1T lime juice
1 jalapeño, seeded & minced

1/2t salt
1/4t pepper 

Cut avocados in half, remove each seed. Scoop flesh from peel with spoon into bowl. Add next 6 ingredients. Coarsely mash with potato masher. 

Wednesday:  Grilled ribeye steaks, baked potatoes with butter and sour cream, and spinach sautéed in butter and garlic.  It’s going to be a real “steakhouse” dinner.  I can’t wait!

Thursday:  Roast beef sandwiches with horseradish sauce and carrots, pickles, and olives on the side (those count as vegetables, don’t they?)  As I mentioned last week, Thursdays are now “Sandwich Thursdays” due to the girls crazy Thursday after school schedules.  They have to eat in the car on the way from school to choir since they have soccer practice immediately following choir.  I’ll also pack a small cooler of healthy snacks and water for the soccer field.  And chocolate milk once they get home to help their muscles recover quicker.  Remember my blog post on chocolate milk? Refresh your memory with the last paragraph.

Friday:  Yogurt marinated venison with pita bread and Greek salad.  Yogurt really seems to take away the gamey taste of venison.  Season your meat (we’re using the back strap) with olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano or Greek seasoning then smother it all in plain Greek yogurt (massage it into the meat).  This marinade is also great on chicken or lamb.  Let it marinate  in refrigerator at least 2 hours (doing this part the morning you’re having it for dinner is even better).  For dinner, grill your meat, warm the pitas, and serve with a big Greek salad consisting of cucumbers, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, red onion, and lettuce.  Follow our Favorite Vinaigrette recipe but substitute lemon juice for the vinegar and add some dried oregano.

Family · Food · Pancakes

Weekends are for Emoji Pancakes 

This weekend we took our basic blender pancake recipe and used it to make emoji pancakes.


We added 8-10 drops of yellow food coloring to our pancake batter after mixing all the ingredients together.  We would add a few drops and then blend again until we got the right color.  In trying to get the correct color we almost over-mixed the batter and got a few lumpy pancakes.

I suggest adding 8-10 drops of yellow food coloring to the milk before adding it to the batter.   Also don’t get your griddle too hot or your pancakes will brown too much and you’ll lose your yellow color.  You can see the result of a too hot griddle in the following picture.


The girls really got into making the pancakes and drawing the emoji faces on them with black and red decorator frosting.

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Maybe you can make your next pancake breakfast (or dinner) an emoji one.  Please share your results with us!

I’d love it if you’d share your favorite pancake recipes with me either in the Comments section of this blog, on my “Yes, there will be pancakes” Facebook page, or for those of you closer to me, send me a text, email, or Facebook message.

Family · Food

Menu Monday 9/4/17

Happy Labor Day!  I hope everyone is celebrating our awesome American workforce by not laboring and perhaps by grilling something wonderful to eat today.  This week marks the beginning of soccer season for us and the practice schedule is going to make dinners a little bit challenging.  The girls have music/voice lessons and Presley has soccer practice on Mondays.  Peyton has soccer practice on Tuesdays.  The girls both have choir and soccer practices on Thursdays. I can prepare dinner early on Mondays and late on Tuesdays but after this week I am going to have to declare Thursdays as “Sandwich Thursdays” because the only time the girls will have to eat is in the car on the way from school to choir practice.  Soccer starts right after choir and isn’t over til around 7pm.  So I hope you’re ready for a lot of great sandwich recipes in your near future.

Monday:  Bratwurst braised in beer, onions, and sour kraut, smashed potato salad, and slaw.  Slice an onion, open a beer and a jar of sour kraut and dump them into a disposable aluminum pan on top of your bratwurst.  Grill over indirect heat for 30-60 minutes. Then remove brats from pan, drain liquid and brown onions and kraut.  Grill brats quickly over high heat just to get nice grill marks.  Serve bratwurst on buns with caramelized onions/kraut and mustard.  Kiki’s Smashed potato salad and oil and vinegar slaw will make great sides.

Tuesday:  Cheese pizza and a garden salad.  Today is National Cheese Pizza Day, so let’s celebrate (and make for easy dinner prep) with a take-out (we like Domino’s Brooklyn style) or frozen (Tombstone is our favorite here) cheese pizza.  You can make yourself feel a little better by preparing a large salad to serve alongside.

Wednesday:  Spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread.  I hide all the extra veggies in the spaghetti sauce so there is no need for me to serve a salad with this meal, but if you get your sauce from a jar (and there’s no shame in that) you might want to add a salad to this meal.  My homemade spaghetti sauce today will have onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and eggplant in addition to the tomato sauce.  I just sauté whatever vegetables I have until softened and then purée them with the tomato sauce.  Season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning and you have a great veggie-packed sauce.  I do cheat by using frozen meatballs.  It just doesn’t seem to be worth the effort to make them from scratch (maybe I’m just not that good at it).

Thursday:  Roasted Acorn squash and grilled skirt steak.  Today is National Acorn Squash Day and therefore the perfect day to add it to the menu.  The easy way to prepare this squash is:  Cut squash in half through the stem and scoop out the seeds and strings.  Slice into ½” half-moon slices. Brush both sides with a mixture of 3T olive oil and 1T melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (or until tender), turning once halfway through cooking time.  Dave’s sister gave him a savory lemon, herb, and cheese seasoning blend for his birthday that is supposed to be great on acorn squash so we may try it.  (Parmesan Mediterranean Veggie Roaster Seasoning Blend from UrbanAccents.com)

Friday:  Frittata and a kale salad with lemon vinaigrette.  I think we’ll go with our old standby, a ham, corn, and potato frittata although the girls want me to add spinach (Imagine that, kids asking for spinach).  I first posted this meal 12-5-16, see “National Pi Day” for instructions.

Family · Food · Pancakes

Weekends are for Pancakes!

This weekend I’m starting a new weekly post:  Yes, there will be pancakes on the weekends!  I’m so excited to be adding a weekly pancake post to my “pancake” blog.  I’d love it if you’d share your favorite pancake recipes with me either in the Comments section of this blog, on my “Yes, there will be pancakes” Facebook page, or for those of you closer to me, send me a text, email, or Facebook message.

I know that for most of you making pancakes means buying a box of Bisquick or pancake mix, adding water, and pouring it on the griddle, but I’m going to share a recipe that is so simple that you can make completely homemade pancakes in the same amount of time.  My mother has been making this recipe since I was a little girl.  It is simple, foolproof, and delicious!

Blender Pancakes    (c = cup, t = teaspoon, T = tablespoon)
1c milk
1 egg
2T canola oil
1c flour
2T baking powder
1/2t salt
1T sugar
Place all ingredients in blender and blend until well mixed.  DO NOT OVER-BLEND!  (It will result in lumpy pancakes)  Let batter rest a couple of minutes then pour pancake batter onto a non-stick pan or griddle.  These pancakes do not require butter or cooking spray to keep them from sticking to the pan.  We like to pour our batter into a plastic squeeze bottle so Dave can make shapes for the girls.  (Pumpkins for Halloween, hearts, stars, smiley faces, etc).  Let cook until the tops are nice and bubbly then flip and cook a few minutes more.
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