Saturday, April 24, 2010

How to Eat Fried Worms and Other Non-Foods

What my toddler ate willingly today:
- a glass of chocolate milk
- the marshmallows out of "marshmallow cereal" (a rare treat)
- the top off a piece of garlic bread
- a sample of cinnamon bread and almond milk from Target
- yogurt & raw oats
- sand off a shovel—lots
- a worm (stopped in time)
- mud

What he did not eat that was also offered:
- cheese
- spaghetti/noodles
- meatball
- spinach greens
- banana

Variety is the spice of life, no? I can't say I was willing to try the worm. Maybe that's how he views spaghetti right now. Hard to say. Just keeping the daily multivitamins coming.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Eat This

There's a book and now website that I keep coming across that screams marketing fad, but intrigues me. It's called "Eat This, Not That" with the goal of informing people about food trade-offs.

The first one that I saw was the nutritional difference between a can of Spaghetti-O's and Kraft Mac n' Cheese. The O's are apparently much better for you, assuming you make the Kraft per box instructions, and no add-ins as I often do. I tried this exchange out a few months ago and learned that A) my kids don't eat either one of these products and B) Spaghetti-O's are pretty gross. Still, interesting to learn about your food assumptions, especially when it comes to prepared or fast foods.

Anyway, I took a fast-food quiz tonight based on the new "kid" version of "Eat This, Not That" and was disappointed to get only 25% correct. You were asked to choose between 2 different meals at a fast food restaurant based on which you thought would be healthier. It surprised me as my score shows. If you want to check out the site or take the quiz, go here: Eat This, Not That for Kids

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Loss and the Weekly Meal Plan

Just had an interesting conversation with an old friend of mine who is a relatively new mom. She was talking about how she's using weekly meal planning to lose her baby weight. It'll help keep her from eating out so often, and ensure she has good ingredients on hand. For my part, I started doing it to save time and energy thinking about what to cook for the evening meal. I've also used it to lower food expenses and minimize waste.

In short, it seems like the ultimate purpose for planning is to CUT BACK on something. Might be calories, dollars, time, or trash, but for those of us that do it, it's about "slenderizing" elsewhere.

I recall seeing a weekly menu listed on the fridge calendar where I was babysitting as a 15-year-old. I concluded this woman must be nuts, or at a minimum obsessive-compulsive. I made sure the toys were all put away just so that night. Now I recognize that she was tapping into what busy parents do in their households all the time—organizing a bit so there's more time for other things.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Week 52--Fin

Monpasta putanesca (Viva Italia)
Tuesbrats, beans, & biscuits
Wedsbeef stir-fry
Thurs chicken fingers & squash
Fri beef & noodles
Extras rotisserie chicken; burgers
Some pasta, pork, beef, and chicken fill out this week's menu, along with minimal reliance on recipes. We've been eating nearly every dinner outside since the evenings have been so pleasant. It's such a small thing, but I love avoiding this one round of post-meal floor-cleaning during the day. Let the ants picnic!

As far as a dramatic conclusion to the blog, I'm woefully unprepared. I might even have another entry or two this week just to round things out. Happy cooking.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Rescued Steaks

We tried an ancho steak recipe last week that was not great. One of those that leaves you with a pile of left-overs and no desire to eat them. Not wanting to fully acknowledge precisely how many days those steaks had been sitting in our fridge, I turned a blind eye and decided to make fajitas with them tonight.

Green peppers, onions, some random "Mexican seasoning" I found in my spice rack, plenty of olive oil, and lots of toppings. They were fantastic! Thank goodness. I would have felt bad tossing 5 steaks in the trash. Best of all, no one got sick.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I love new recipe success. So far we've made 3 new recipes this week, and all have been exceptionally good. Tonight was the curried chicken w/peaches. Yum. My favorite so far: enchilada casserole. We had that last night and it made great left-overs for lunch today. The ham and cheese pasta was excellent as well, although "serves 4" must have meant 4 starved lions. So we froze half of that dish which was a nice bonus for a future evening.

On another note, my mom called tonight to say that she thought she should come up this weekend just in case our baby arrived early. Note that it is April 13 and the due date is April 28. Does she sound excited? My mom is easy to have around, and the kids love having Grandma here, but I had to say a firm "no" to that offer! Having someone else in your house inherently involves some changes to routine. These days, I'm all for routine as well as any personal time my husband and I can get.

I think we'll make some cookies tomorrow. We're long overdue.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Candle Lesson

I was sorting through some photos and came across this lesson in candle placement. This was a cake we had for my grandpa's birthday back in February. Looks yummy, huh? If you like wax, that is.

My mom brought tall skinny candles, and I brought some traditional sized candles. We decided to put them all on for dramatic effect.

Within moments after lighting them we learned this important lesson: tall skinny candles should never mix with short candles. The heat from the short candles started to melt the middles of the tall candles almost instantly. Then, as about 6 people worked frantically to blow them out, they faced the challenge of having to "catch" the long candles in motion as they bent and flopped like flaming noodles.

Dramatic, but leaves an unpleasant waxy finish on your frosting. Candle segregation is highly recommended.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Week 51—Online Assemblage

MonCurried Chicken w/Peaches (Taste of Home)
TuesHam & Cheese Pasta (Taste of Home)
WedsBaked Sloppy Joes (Taste of Home)
Thurs Enchilada Casserole (Taste of Home)
Fri Orange roughy w/cornbread and mashed sweet potatoes
Extras breakfast; Cuban rice
I got a few emails from the Taste of Home website this week that led me to this menu plan. Each day this week I grabbed one or two recipes that sounded interesting. With all the improvements to the magazine in recent years, I still can't quite believe they published Thursday's recipe as a "casser-olé." That's part of the mag's charm, though, and I suspect I'm supposed to laugh at the wit of it all.

For the fish, I plan to use the following:
Combine onion salt, pepper, dill and paprika; sprinkle over fillets. In a large skillet, cook fillets in oil over medium heat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily.

I've been putting together my shopping list below as I've added recipes this week. I'm leaving it here for now be/c it doesn't exist anywhere else that's portable for the store.

Groceries: sweet pots, cilantro, buns, fish (roughy/snapper), fryer chicken, Mex cheese blend or other to go w/cheddar, bowties/wagon wheels, black beans, salsa (grande), peaches (slice-canned)

Happy cooking.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hot Cross Buns

I started making hot cross buns each year for Easter when we were living in NYC. You'd see these buns in bakeries all around the city and it finally occurred to me that these must be traditional in some households at this time of year. I always knew of them in nursery rhyme form only.

I took some photos this year as I made the buns, although I somehow managed to NOT take a picture of the final product. Too bad, since they're pretty.

The first picture is blending the dry ingredients along with lemon zest. The smell is one of the first that I associate with this recipe and I love it! Fresh, springy, and tart.

The next image hopefully makes you smell the zest of the orange. Note that this process was made more challenging this year as my daughter decided to eat the only orange in the house for breakfast. She had it peeled before I knew what was happening. I didn't feel like hiking to the store for another orange, so I worked with the bits and pieces. It was a little tedious, but I got what I needed.

The final picture is kneading. This dough requires 10-15 min of it. I was in the mood to knead by hand (vs. mixer) this year to feel the dough changing—and get an upper-arm workout in the process.

You can see Craisins and currants in there. Normally I use golden raisins, but couldn't find any in my cupboard. I actually preferred the Craisins in the final product because the tartness emphasized the zests so well.

If you want to try hot cross buns next year, here's the recipe I use. It's about 3 hours start-to-finish. That said, the rising time is extremely forgiving for these, and if you happen to leave them proofing for, say, 5 hours at some point as I did this year, it won't suffer for it. Also, I use a half-recipe of my own pie crust since it's simpler for me for the crosses. Don't trim them to the bottom, but leave ends long enough to tuck under the buns a little when they bake. It'll help keep them from flaking off if you have to transport or store them. These buns are extremely dense, and usually one per person suffices unless they really love bread. Those that love bread will make a meal of these with butter, right out of the oven. Mmm.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Stunning Realization

I'm sitting here working on an updated website design for my graphics business. I'm keeping it simple (as it always has been) since a) I am not a programmer and b) I have only about 15 hours to spend on this effort. Meanwhile, my husband is downstairs cooking dinner for tonight. Bliss.

Then it hits me. As of today, we have a new baby due in 3 weeks. No longer speaking in terms of trimesters or months, it's down to weeks. At this point, it's anyone's guess. Time to start stocking up, making extras when planning the weekly menu, and buying tons of frozen pizzas.

I also better get back to that website design before the last update (2007) turns into seriously ancient history.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Week 50—Left-Overs

WedsSpaghetti & Meatball Soup (Parent's Magazine)
Thurs Steaks w/Ancho Chili Sauce & Potatoes (Bon Appetit)
Fri pizza
Extras chip plate; Cuban rice
The Steak & New Potato Toss from last week (Week 49) was fantastic. If you're looking for a healthy meal option that's a bit different, I highly recommend it. We're surviving on Easter left-overs this week—the fridge is full of good options. There are also 2 menus from last week that we never made. We'll see how far we make it! Happy cooking.