Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Breakthrough Moment

It's small, I know. But when my kids dove into the rigatoni-butter-parmesan noodles I prepared like it was the best thing to happen to lunch in weeks, I was thrilled.

Last week I'd made another box of weekly mac and cheese (various brands and noodle styles tried), only to have none of it touched. They must have just gotten burned out on the stuff, even though we don't have it THAT often...do we?

Small victories with small stomachs is always a satisfying thing. When it's a homemade meal that took possibly less work than tearing open a box of mac and cheese, it's even better.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Week 23 -- Cupboard-Cleaning

Monchicken mole with chipotles (Bon Appetit "International Cooking" from last week)
Tuesfalafels (Bon Appetit "International Cooking")
Wedsburgers and homemade oven-fries
Thurs stir-fry with beef
Fri some sort of soup...
Alt pizza; chip plate w/refrieds and garden toms
Looking at the cupboards, there are a lot of good candidates for meals this week. I just have to pick up some stir-fry ingredients and a few basics that we're lacking. I love ending the month on a cheap, fast grocery trip. Oddly satisfying.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Week 22 - International Mood

MonDone...but we had a goulash made of garden toms and random left-over noodles from the cupboards
Tuesgrilled salmon and asparagus
Wedsburgers and homemade oven-fries
Thurs chicken mole with chipotles (Bon Appetit "International Delights")
Fri Chinese cashew chicken (Crock Pot Book left-over alternate recipe from 2 weeks ago)
Alt BLTs; pizza
Finally made it to the grocery store this morning. The kids were oddly excited to go (the lure of a "rocket-ship cart" carries enormous weight), so I seized the moment. I quickly put together a menu and shopping list then took advantage of grocery-store specials to round out specifics (e.g. "fish" was on the list--I picked up salmon based on prices; ice cream was NOT on the list, but was such a good deal that it had to be purchased).

There was a desperate scene as I finished bagging groceries. We were all pretty hungry, so I tore open the deli turkey and they ate slices while I finished bagging. Then I got out apples and we snacked on those as we rolled out to the car. Sort of a refugee-lunch, but I think they ate more that way than they usually do sitting at the table at home. Happy cooking.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Chef or Cleaning Crew?

Back from a blissful week of no cooking or cleaning, where my most challenging daily dilemma was choosing a restaurant for dinner, I am confronted this Sunday night with a familiar question:

If given the choice between having a chef at home every meal, every day, or a cleaning person (lady, man, whatever sex gets the job done), which would I choose?

Right now, I'd have to say the chef. This is assuming they're making the menu, buying the groceries, and doing at least a somewhat considerate job of not trashing the kitchen (to ease clean-up since in this scenario I am the cleaning lady).

Sure, cooking is the more creative pursuit, but if I think about how much time I spend each day cleaning vs. cooking and prepping meals, cooking is the hands-down more time consuming task. Ask the dust bunnies in my house. They will answer. And they will agree. They're hardly disturbed in the average day around here!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Week 21 – Food-tainment

Spaghetti and meatballs w/crusty bread
We're home one meal this week, so the bulk of my menu-planning focused around foods that would be entertaining and at least moderately nourishing to my kids on an airplane. I'm flying alone with them, leaving at 5:20 at night, arriving about 4 hours later. I can't imagine a much worse time to travel alone with 2 young kids, so I did what any mom in a similar position would do. I went to Target.

You can see the results of my trip in the picture. The apples, matchbox car and monkey stickers do not appear, but are key ingredients as well.

I picked foods that were different than what they'd usually get (e.g. instead of Archer Farms fruit strips, I grabbed some slightly overpriced Cliff fruit twists that look fun). I'm going to break this stuff up into little packets so there's not quite the sugar-overload that appears here. I'm packing a mini veggie-dipper mix as well to make sure something that actually grew in soil reaches their palettes.

I spent way too much time staring at ingredients lists on those nifty single-serve drink mix flavors. I don't care for the taste of aspartame or sucralose, so ended up with Koolaid. I'll fill a couple travel mugs with water once we're past security and shake in a bit for a tasty surprise.

For those of you doing so this week, happy cooking.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Week 20 – Family Choice

MonPasta Puttanesca w/crusty bread (Viva Italia)
TuesMeatballs Avgolemono (Opaah!)
WedsSteak and mashed w/corn on cob
Thurs Chicken fingers (Epicurious)
Fri Tilapia fillets w/asparagus
Alt Chinese cashew chicken (Crock Pot Book)
I put the menu out to the family this week. As in, "What do you want to eat this week?" I picked the fish and cashew chicken, and the other selections are from my husband and kids.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Menu Planning Circa 2019

I've been talking with siblings and friends who have teenagers, and am trying to picture how my own family's evening meals will look 10 years from now. For now, I can hardly comprehend what they're talking about. Some examples:

"My son isn't usually home until around 7:30. By the time he's done with school, then football practice, it's late. He has money to get a pre-practice snack or something if he needs it."


"My husband and I aren't usually home until 7 or 7:30 from our jobs. The kids usually take care of heating up their own meals."

What??? In this time of teaching them to not put their food in the milk, sit at the table when we eat, and obsessively figuring out if they've gotten their servings of veggies for the day, these kinds of comments are almost incomprehensible. I suspect that all too soon the evening meal will be marked by how many boxes of frozen pizza or cans of spaghettios we find in the trash, consumed at some unknown hour when we were lost in a book, pruning in the tub.

Shh. I think I hear someone raiding the fridge.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lizard Cakes II

I tried a from-scratch white cake recipe I found on epicurious for the dino cake. It was a bit dry to me. The cupcakes were made from my favorite go-to cake recipe, found in Deceptively Delicious. They have pumpkin and yogurt in them and always have good moisture and flavor. Now we're enjoying the leftovers!

(2 posts be/c this silly format won't let me post more than 1 image!)

Lizard Cakes I

Here's how the birthday cakes came out. The t-rex cake rated high on drama, as it was tearing into the cake before we even had the candles in. The crocodile cake was based on images I found online. My son said, "That's pretty cool!" when he first saw it. I had to agree, even though I couldn't take credit for the idea.