Category Archives: Food
I love Saturday mornings. I woke up early and had my bible time and my shower before everyone woke up. Then Hannah and I went to our Bountiful Baskets pickup site and picked up our fresh produce. This week included a lot of radishes, which I’ll have to experiment with because no one in this house has any love for the spicy red veggies. 😛 Hannah was excited that there were more nectarines in this weeks’ basket because she loves them! And I love that she loves them!
After dropping the produce off at home, we headed to Fry’s. I was up planning this trip until 11:30 last night and I was hoping my late night calculations were accurate! After grabbing our warm pumpkinny goodness at Starbucks (a must!) we started shopping. Hannah did great until the last 15 minutes when she was “starving,” “tired,” and “board.”. Silly child.
Upon checkout, we were able to save 51% using our coupons. My math was off a tad, but we were still under our budget! Woot for saving money!
So now, our pantry and fridge are filled with healthy, delicious food (OK, and a few frozen pizzas that were on sale for $1 each, and 3 cans of Pringles that were totally free) and we’ve (hopefully!) got enough to get us through the next 2 weeks!
The last few days have been PERFECT writing days… gloomy skies, wind whipping around the windows, rain pattering down in sporadic spurts… my kids are currently obsessed with LOTR (a habit I have fostered, nurtured, and whole-heartedly endorsed) so there has been lots of movie watching and role-playing. Which has obviously gone straight to my uterus, because we discovered we’re having a baby girl today, and have decided her middle name will be Éowyn (YAY!!!).
So naturally, I was NOT writing. I was reading. =) In my defense, it was an amazing soon-to-be-published novel. And I will gloat more that *I* got to read it before you did when it’s all official like (because I’m just competitive like that). Anyways, all the reading, LOTR, and rainy weather have made me eager for low-maintenance, low-cost dinners. And while on the phone to a dear cousin who struggles (as I do) with meal planning for a hubby who NEEDS to know what’s for dinner (“Um…. peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?”), I decided to post the easiest dinner to make in the whole world. It includes a tool (Crock-Pot) and skill (cooking beans) that you MUST have to be an adult, in my opinion.
You’ll need to start in the morning and gather:
- at least 2 pounds of dry beans (we prefer black or pinto beans)
- a big onion
- several cloves of garlic
- salt & pepper
- (Opt.) cooked meat (bacon, ham hocks, etc.)
Rinse the dry beans in a colander, removing funky looking beans (sometimes you’ll even find rocks… you DON’T want to bite on those!), any bean skins that stick to the sides, etc. Basically, clean them really well.
Dump your clean beans into your Crock-Pot and cover them with water. Because you can use any amount of beans, the amount of water varies. A good measure is your finger (this is genius: my husband taught me this trick): if you gently put your index finger on the top-most bean, the water level should be even with the second knuckle on your finger (brilliant, right?).
Now, skin an onion (chop off the top and bottom and take off all the dry skin) and add it to the pot. I leave the onion whole, because my kids don’t care for onion (they think), so when the beans are done, I just take the whole thing out. But you can totally dice it and mix it in with the beans. It’s up to you. Also, if you DON’T have an onion, onion powder or onion salt work just fine. Just sprinkle enough to cover the surface of the water.
Throw in some garlic cloves, either peeled, chopped, or pressed (we don’t believe there is any such thing as “too much garlic,” and it’s kept our house vampire and zombie free for years). Again, if you don’t have garlic, you can use garlic powder instead.
Add a bunch of salt and a few dashes of pepper (don’t you love my measurements?). This last batch I made I used up all our salt and it still didn’t taste salty enough for me. I recommend a taste-test about half-way thorough the cook time to make sure the flavor is right for you.
I’ve seen a lot of people add bacon or ham hocks to their meat. Leftover bacon never happens in our house, so we’ve never actually done this. And if we have ham hocks, I make split-pea soup. So anyways, I’ve never done this before, other people do and I bet it tastes yummy!
You can also add any other spice you want (and your kids tolerate): this last batch I sprinkled in cumin powder and a dash of chili powder. It went over fine with them.
Now fire up the Crock-pot for about 6 hours. Check it every few hours to make sure the water still covers the beans. If you have to add water, boil it first so it doesn’t slow down the cooking time. Although, I usually don’t check it… I’m generally busy… you know, reading. =)
This way, when my husband wants to know “what’s for dinner?” I have an answer. “Beans!” And when he comes home, the house smells amazing. =)
You can serve them in bowls with cheese and sour cream, or heat up tortillas and make burritos. Mmmmm.
While waiting for the water to boil for the kids’ mac & cheese, I gave them a bowl of cut cantaloupe and popped some popcorn for them to nosh on (since they were STARVING). After a few minutes, I asked “How are you enjoying your amuse bouche?” to which Hannah replied, “Mom! It’s called CAN’T-A-LOPE!”
I chuckled and reminded them of the interesting French phrase we had learned while watching “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” earlier this morning.
Which, if you haven’t seen it, you are really missing out. Check it:
Anyways, once the mac & cheese was on the table and I was working through my nachos (I say “no” to fake cheese and “heck yes!” to melted Mexican cheese), Jonathan asked “Mom, how are you enjoying your AM-HUGE POOP?”
I’m still cracking up!
The last few weeks have been rather mad in our home. My “part-time” job is only a title, especially if there is a deadline. Apparently, part-time is anywhere from 15 to 39 hours per week. With the higher end being preferred. So I wake up and fire up my computer first thing in the morning, working furiously to get as much done as possible before the munchkins wake up. And since Josh still can’t seem to stay asleep if not smashed against my body, that usually isn’t very long (not that I’m complaining; just the facts)! The day is a mishmash of 30 minute spurts wherein I work and the kids watch shows on Netflix (which is totally and completely worth the $7.99/mo we pay, and a much better deal than Dish or cable), 15 minute breaks outside to run, and then back indoors for more working/TV watching.
Terrible, I know, but when I send them off to “go play quietly,” it generally means they’re giving Josh a bath in the toilet, throwing things off the balcony at the gardeners, or drawing on the walls. They’re normal kids that need some acreage to play with rocks and sticks in. Given we live in Stepford-suburbia with more apartments than grass, TV at least keeps them all in visual range.
All this has made me feel like The World’s Worst Mommy. So today, I fixed all that with the only way I know how:
I realize this is also a less-than-healthy solution, but we all feel better about it, so there. =)
We donned our aprons and worked together to get breakfast on the table (even Josh had a tea towel around his waist, Dobby-style!). Our menu was fairly basic, with scrambled eggs topped with cheese as the protein, but the main dish was a selection of toppings for the crepes I made (I cheated on the crepes, just using equal parts Krusteaz and water, but I DO know how to make them from scratch).
And seriously? We’re going to be doing this a LOT more! Crunchy peanut butter, Nutella, sliced bananas and apples reduced with butter and a touch of rum, with tall, cold glasses of milk.
Drooling yet? I think the best was Nutella with bananas, but I pretty much would eat Nutella with anything!
It was quite perfect, but consumed so quickly, I have no photos. And the kids are now in a food coma on the couch, which means I need to get to work!
Have a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend, and tell me about your ideal breakfast menu in the comments! =)
Guys, I’ve gotta come clean. I struggle with depression. That sounds completely melodramatic, but it’s the truth. Sadly, more often than not, depression wins, and I end up doing stupid things like eating an entire row of freshly baked brownies, ignoring my children, and crying. The tough thing is, I’m super conscious of WHAT I’m doing and WHY it’s wrong and stupid. I mean, heck, I’m a Christian. I should have the joy of the Lord as my strength, right? It’s a mind game that I go through over and over. And guess what? I’m sick of it. This is part of the reason why I haven’t
blogged much lately posted any of the entries I’ve written over the last few months. My WordPress dashboard is full of almost daily entries, but when I read them through, they’re just whiney, angst-ridden rants from a person that I honestly don’t want to be.
The last few days, I’ve really gotten pissed off at the whole thing. I’m done struggling with depression. I’m gonna freakin’ rip its head off and pound it into the ground.
So. Inspiration for this post comes from the fabulous Kelle Hampton, an amazing, brave and hilarious woman who writes a beautiful blog that I’ve been following for about a year. She’s a woman who embraces life with a passion that I so deeply admire. I’m pretty sure her life isn’t perfect, but she takes the little things (the title of her blog) and celebrates each like it’s the most precious thing in the world. I want to be like that. I don’t want my writing to be a list of my complaints, because that’s almost too easy. I want to chronicle the joy of my life, even if only to remind myself that life is wonderful. I might just have to work a little harder than most to see it that way.
And you know what? I do have a pretty amazing life! Here are the highlights of my week.
We had purchased tickets to a Giants spring training game in anticipation of some family coming out to watch it with us. But life happened, family couldn’t come, Anthony had to work, and there was no way I was going to take three kids to a spring training game all by myself (no matter if I kinda have a thing for beards
We couldn’t sell the tickets back and we were out a significant amount of money. So on Monday, I did a brave thing (for me). After dropping Jonathan and Hannah off with my cousin, Josh and I went to the stadium to scalp the tickets. Have we met? I’m the baby-wearing, stick-close-to-my-husband type… not exactly the scalping-tickets-on-my-own type! But there I was, shamelessly having Josh wave tickets around while asking people if they wanted tickets at a discount (a whole fifty-cents off the box-office price). Guess what? We rocked. Josh and I made $50.
Feeling rather proud of my awesome scalping skills, I felt it was time to take on a sewing project I’ve wanted to do for awhile, but haven’t because… well, honestly? Because my mom wasn’t around to walk me through it. I know, pathetic, right? I’m 28 and I want my mommy (I love you mom!). But I really have never done any sort of sewing without my mom close by to help me! So I took my hard earned $50 and the kids and went to the fabric store. Jonathan and Hannah each got to pick out three fabric quarters for their very own tote bags. I spent the rest on supplies, thread and various other accoutrement required for sewing. You know what? My kids have really good taste!
I used this website for general direction and inspiration. She said (and I quote) “A beginning sew-er, ages 10 and up, can sew this up in an afternoon.” *Snort* I started Hannah’s bag at 10 am. It was finished at 5. Granted, I haven’t done much sewing since I was about 16 and I was learning a brand-new sewing machine (my Christmas present from my loving aunt Suzy and cousin Tanya), but still. Yikes. I’m slow. However, the results were awesome.
I don’t care that I spent all afternoon working on this. The kids had fun watching the bag come together and I was so happy that I started and finished a project in one day! I then launched whole-heartedly into making Jonathan’s after dinner. Anthony was graciously quiet about the fact that the Cheerios from breakfast had cemented to the bowls in the sink, and that there was a mountain of clean clothes on his side of the bed when he returned home. The kids loved having picnic breakfast, lunch and dinner in the living room (because sewing took over the entire kitchen table) and watching a parade of Pixar movies. There was thread and fabric scraps everywhere when I was done, but I had MADE something! Jonathan’s was finished long after the kids were in bed, but his turned out amazingly, too!
Creativity rocks. And I can be creative, and stick to something, and finish it. That’s a big deal. And the kids LOVE their tote bags. Yesterday we were out-and-about most of the morning, and Jonathan and Hannah stuffed their bags full of books and toys and took them everywhere, showing their new bags to anyone who came near. I made that happen. That’s awesome.
After all of yesterday’s running around, though, we made a pit stop at home to start dinner in the crock-pot and get the kids into their karate gis. The day had just been too much for one little ninja, though, who passed out 10 minutes before we had to get in the car.
Purple Blanket is a requirement for Hannah sleeping. In fact, we just discovered that it was left in the car that Daddy took to work, and she’s grumpily making do with a powder blue blanket.
My final highlight is from this morning, where, amongst the disaster that is the kitchen (which has been terribly abused and left dirty the last few days), Anthony and I whipped up a little morning gustatory delight, the recipe for which I must share with you.
1. Pour a generous amount of heavy whipping cream into a mixer. Add a few spoonfuls of sugar and a few capfuls of vanilla. Set the mixer on high and whip until it’s whipped cream (numerous finger-dipped samples required to ensure quality).
2. Add several scoops of ice cream to a blender
3. Pour 4 ounces of freshly brewed espresso over the ice cream and blend until smooth
4. Add a few squirts of chocolate syrup until desired chocolateyness is attained (again, finger-dipped samples are needed for this step)
5. Pour into tall glasses
6. Top with whipped cream and chocolate syrup
So boo-ya, depression. I own you. Scalping, sewing, kids, husband, coffee & chocolate. You ain’t got nothin’ on ’em.
P.S. Readers (my dear friends): can you help me remember to just be thankful? When you hear me start to whine, would you remind me that the latté is half-full? ‘Cuz I need that. Even though I’m miles away from most of you, I still really need your encouragement. This desert isn’t as bad as it was last summer, but it’s still tough. Thanks!
Now go grab your kids, turn up your speakers, click play and shake some booty. That’s what we’re about to do!