Saturday, July 30, 2011

The aftermath of Mama's Saturday morning sleep in

Really. No words needed.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Mexican Restaurant Date Night

A few years ago, my MOPS group had a "favorite things" gathering, where we all stood up and declared our favorite (relatively cheap) splurge. Mine was the beloved Mexican Coke. I still have a friend that teases me about it, but I just have to think that she has never tried my lovely. They are soo good! These are imported from Mexico, where they still use cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. totally worth seeking out. Delicious!

We enjoyed our cokes (let's face it; they were the most important part of the meal!) with another restaurant favorite, shrimp and octopus coktel.

And we ended our restaurant meal with a great dessert--berries and cream. This is whipped coconut cream (the thick part of coconut milk). It makes a pretty decent substitute for whipped cream, and it's as close as I seem to get during these dairy free days.

This was fun, recreating a restaurant special. It allows us to have some special foods, both cheaper and easier. Because, let's face it. Sometimes, not taking little kids to a restaurant--it doesn't cause me to be sad cause I have to cook. It causes me to be thrilled that I don't have to deal with the challenge! Making my favorites at home=win/win. And sharing it with my favorite guy...that is even better!

I encourage you to find something new to cook this week. It'll breathe a bit of new life into your kitchen. And better yet, find a time to connect with the one you love. Even better than new life in your kitchen!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Camping Trip

This camping trip was earlier in the summer. We had a great time in south Georgia, at the flattest (and hottest, with the biggest mosquitoes) campgrounds we've ever seen. My grandparents and Mike's grandparents are from the same 30 mile area, although my one remaining grandfather doesn't live there anymore. So, we don't really have reason to go down there, but the area is familiar.

Mike's sister was down for a wedding, so we decided to combine a camping trip that we'd been talking about with seeing her.

We also checked out a pretty neat zoo. I think that was the highlight for my boys. The zoo was actually really good. Although this alligator pond was huge and totally squicked me out.

It was a great trip! I'm a wimp, and I've refused to go camping this summer until it gets cooler. But, we already have a trip planned for when the weather cooperates in September (oh, please cooperate!). I can't wait.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Premium Leftovers

In our house, if you declare something "premium leftovers", then it's understood that they should be shared. Not scarfed down in the middle of the night (!) or first thing while you let your very tired wife sleep in on Saturday mornings. Not that that has ever happened. But just in case.

This dish is one of my favorites and very worthy of the premium leftover designation. It will last for a couple of days, but it never makes it that long in our house. If there is any left over, it is eaten by lunch time the next day. I've been known to eat it for breakfast. So good!

Pea/Corn Salad
3 T red wine vinegar
4 T oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
3 cups cooked peas (these were pink eye, but anything will work; even frozen)
1 cup corn, cut from the cob (about 2 ears)
1/2 cup chopped basil (to taste)
1/2 onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced (seeded if desired)

Mix vinaigrette in a medium bowl, whisking until combined (vinegar through sugar). Add peas, corn, onion, jalapeno, and basil. Mix to coat with the dressing. Allow to sit for 30 minutes at room temperature for flavors to mingle. Taste and correct for seasonings if needed. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Very Hungry Caterpillar

We celebrated Marshall's birthday in style. With a Very Hungry Caterpillar party! It's a beloved book around here, and I love the illustrations. Our big boy bedroom even has Very Hungry Caterpillar curtains. So, with a baby that eats anything that doesn't eat him first....well, we knew that we had the perfect theme.

This sign helped set the mood. It's hard to see in the picture, but each of the circles that make up the caterpillar spell out "Happy birthday to you". I had lots and lots of help in coloring the sign, as everyone got ready for Marshall's birthday.

Will and Mac helped me early in the week by making these cool butterfly table decorations.

Our fabulous birthday boy. So happy to turn one!

For the food, I kept it simple, but still stuff that I knew Marshall liked. Starting with watermelon.

Special drinks. We kept it simple with tea, lemonade, and seltzer.

What does a one year old love most? Why, hot dogs of course! (they were such a hit that they were requested for the 3 year old's birthday, too....and I'm betting that they will show up on the 5 year old's birthday in September)
This was our first occasion that the big boys got to have a separate kids' table, which they loved.
A Very Hungry Caterpillar cupcake cake, of course!

A rare picture of all three, all looking happy at the same time. Yay!

Enjoying cake

And presents!

Happy birthday, little man! This year has flown by so very fast, and we've enjoyed every minute. The verse for your birth and addition to our family has proven so very true.

From the fullness of his grace, we have all received one blessing after another. John 1:16

You are a fabulous blessing, and we are very thankful for you!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Menu Plan Monday July 25

We had a great weekend celebrating the 3rd birthday of a very special little boy. That's him, walking the dog, "on a leash, on our nature walk," which is exactly what he asked for for his birthday. He got it, was thrilled, and I was happy to please him with something so simple. I love that kid!

Friday--sloppy joes, cucumbers, spinach salad
Saturday--turkey and tomato sandwiches (lunch), take out gyros and baba ghanouj (supper)
Sunday--eggs and toast (breakfast), picnic (lunch), hot dogs, chips, strawberries, pasta salad, cupcakes (supper)
Monday--salisbury steak, rice, lima beans, salad
Tuesday--quesadillas for boys, cooking class for Mama
Wednesday--Thai curry over rice
Thursday--McRibs (made with morningstar riblets), cold vegetable salad of some sort, roasted sweet potatoes

As always, I'm linked to Menu Plan Monday over at orgjunkie. Lots of great ideas over there!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Happy Hour Date Night

This summer, our schedules have been all wonky and off center. Late afternoons at the pool, lots of fresh air, and you get boys that mostly don't nap and have an early bedtime, but occasionally throw you a loop. On this day, everyone had napped, and the baby was still asleep. We knew that early bedtimes were in no way a possibility, so we decided to not even try. We used our friend, the electronic babysitter, to steal an hour alone in the backyard for happy hour. It was indeed a happy hour, and we were better at the end for it.

It started with lovely Arnold Palmers. In the summer, I never, ever, get tired of the fabulous mix of half lemonade, half iced tea. The fact that it has a fancy name is just a bonus.

And some of these great Utz chips. There's a story behind them. When we went on our honeymoon (10 years ago), we bought these chips to eat for lunch everyday with our sandwiches, so that we didn't have to leave the beach. We loved them, and they scream "honeymoon" to us. Alas, they are mostly a northeastern thing, so we've only had them at the beach. I spotted them at Kroger last week, and I think I squealed right in the chip aisle. I texted a picture right to Mike. Such a thrill over chips! I love how a food memory can take you right back to another place. This one made us so happy.

And another date (albeit short) in the books. I love this guy, though, so I'm always happy, even for a stolen hour.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The sort-of Nicoise Salad

I love tuna nicoise. It screams summer to me, and I love the way the flavors go together. Recently, it was on the menu, and when Mike asked what was for dinner, I proudly announced it. To be greated with "the face". You know the face. The one that tells you that he's not so happy about it. That he might rather have Taco Bell (ah, the insult!). So, I did what an exceptionally loving, wonderful person would do. I switched it around.


I thought it was the tuna that he was protesting. Turns out he thinks green beans in salad are weird, and it's not the tuna he has a problem with at all. So, he still had to pick around the green beans. Oh, well. At least he hid the face a little better when supper was served (and in the interest of full disclosure, my children ate this meal in completely separate piles; no way would they eat it all mixed together). But I ate it as served, as it was intended to be eaten. And enjoyed every bite.

Chicken Nicoise Salad
black olives
cooked green beans
potato salad (don't knock it--it's a great substitute for the traditional boiled potatoes, onion slices, and boiled eggs)
poached chicken
Luxembourg dressing

adapted from Marti's at Midday
2 small shallots (I used small fresh onions from the garden--shallot size),chopped
3 tablespoons fresh minced herbs (I used tarragon, lemon basil, and lemon thyme)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon grain mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 cups canola oil
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper


Combine all ingredients for dressing except oils in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth and well combined. Add oils in a slow steady stream on medium blending speed to emulsify. You must add the oil slowly so that the dressing does not separate. This dressing is deeeeee-licious! Definitely try it. It's great on any green salad, as a marinade, as a dip. Very multi-purpose, and really, really good.

To build the salad, place a bed of lettuce on each individual plate. Place all ingredients on top of the lettuce, to "compose" the salad. Drizzle with the salad dressing. Depending on who you are serving, this works well as individual salads or in one big platter. It's all good.

Today, I'm linked to Tasty Tuesday over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam. Check it out!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Menu Plan July 18th


Saturday--hummus, pita, carrots, celery (lunch), steak burritos with tomatillo salsa, collards, and avocado, peach cobbler (supper)

Sunday--migas (lunch), turkey chopped steaks (topped with ham, cheese, mushrooms, and honey mustard sauce), calabacitas, salad (supper)

Monday--at my mom's house--oh, please let it be BLTs!!

Tuesday--chicken with cajun maque choux, salad, cornbread

Wednesday--black bean burgers, cucumbers, fruit

Thursday--blackened chicken pot pie

As always, I'm linked to menu plan Monday at orgjunkie . Lots of great ideas over there!

Friday, July 15, 2011

My birthday!

My birthday was in the middle of VBS this year (and actually on Friday, when everyone was exhausted from having so. much. fun. all week), so it was very low key. Which worked fine for me. meant that I got to extend the celebration! We celebrated that night with a fancy dessert (well, good; not so sure about fancy) that the family ate so fast there is no picture evidence.

And, then, a week later, I got to celebrate AGAIN with my mom. One of my favorite Athens restaurants (love me some Taco Stand. Even at its worst, it's very, very good), and cupcakes from this neat little cupcake store. Look at those cupcakes! They were HUGE and sweet. It took Will three days to eat his. He'd work on it a while, then put it back in the fridge. Too funny.

And we had fun at Honey's house playing dress-up, too. I can't wait to put this one in the senior yearbook!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Quinoa Salad

Don't you love how recipes evolve and change? I think it's fun. This recipe started with one that my friend Tammy enjoyed. She's gluten and dairy free, eating almost no processed foods, and she feels great eating like that. She's been a great encouragement for me in the last year being dairy free. So, she loves this recipe for Quinoa Taco Salad from the glutenfreegoddess. And she goes on and on about it so much that I knew I had to try it. I'm glad I did!

I had some black beans and leftover chicken hanging around, so I also added those. I used scallions in place of the onions. And, because we were eating this for a regular supper, not a light meal, I went for a heavier salad dressing. I borrowed the recipe from our beloved Mexican Chicken Salad. It's a balsamic chipotle vinagrette, and it worked very well with this recipe.

So, there you have it. Inspired by something new, anchored with something familiar, and creating something totally delicious.

Quinoa Salad
4 T balsamic vinegar
a little less than 2/3 cup oil
2 chipotles in adobo, minced finely
salt, about 1/2 teaspoon
Juice from 2 limes
1 cup quinoa, cooked in 2 cups water (just like rice)
1 3/4 cups cooked black beans
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced
1 cup cooked, shredded or cubed chicken
1 cup frozen corn
1 avocado, diced
Lettuce for serving
Cilantro for serving

In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, chipotles, salt, and lime juice. Add the quinoa and fluff with a fork. Add other ingredients, and carefully stir together. Serve over a bed of lettuce mixed with cilantro. This is good right away or, even better, after a couple of hours in the fridge to allow the flavors to meld.

I'm linked to Tasty Tuesday over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam. Check it out!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cow Appreciation Day

This is the first time he got his own kid's meal, and he was so happy about it!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Menu Plan July 11

Friday--take out burritos

Saturday--lunch: out; supper: Mad Men themed meal of utz chips, pigs in a blanket, and fancy sparkling limeade with basil

Sunday--brunch: eggs, toast, sausage, grits; supper: turkey hamburgers, Texas caviar, sliced cucumbers, fried okra (this was a new recipe and a fail)

Monday--stewed eggplant with andouille, white rice, roasted cauliflower

Tuesday--cooking class for Mama; quesadillas for everyone else

Wednesday--pasta with roasted savory vegetables, salad

Thursday--grilled jalapeno chicken, yellow rice, green beans, salad

As always, I'm linked to Menu Planning Monday at orgjunkie.