Friday, February 5, 2016

Food for Thought

It was one of those weeks where there was enough on the calendar to keep us busy.  A few evening meetings, stuff during the day, plus the usual list of chores and projects to keep rolling.

It's never a bad thing to have a planned meal menu, but it's always a plus on weeks that keep you moving.  I planned from Pinterest this week, and if it seems heavy on pasta and cheese, well, it was.  It was cold here - we even had a Snow Day on Tuesday - so it was planned that way with a purpose.  Lots of carbs for the shoveling of snow and ice.  

There was a bit of a shuffle, so I have three meals that I will move.  I chose to clear out the 'fridge on Wednesday.  It was Catholic Schools Week and yesterday was Student Appreciation Day, which meant a fundraiser at a local restaurant, so we did that.  The Girlie's birthday is this weekend, and she's coming home with a craving for Gyros.  I don't have a good, traditional recipe for them, so we'll likely head out tonight for those.  

Two of the kids want to have friends over for the Super Bowl, so I might move the pulled pork to Sunday and the other two meals will roll to next week.  My grocery budget will be happy.

If you're in need of meals. . .

I actually made this Cheddar and Gruyere Mac and Cheese with Kielbasa a couple weeks ago, but forgot to include it in past Friday posts.  It was really good.  We like Mac and Cheese, but sometimes it can be bland, which I have realized is more a function of cheese choice, as opposed to seasonings.  The Gruyere in this one gives it a nice tang and adds creaminess.  It's a keeper and the discovery of Gruyere makes the search for the combo of cheeses shorter.

I am an oatmeal convert, but it has to be baked.  I still can't get my mouth around traditional oatmeal textures.  But baked.  Baked I can do all day.  The cold and snow this week, along with an unintentional opening of crushed pineapple prompted this Morning Glory Baked Oatmeal, which I've had on my list for a while.  I didn't have enough applesauce on hand, so I used what was left and apple butter made up the difference, about a cup.  Because of the apple butter, I left out the sugar (apple butter is sweetened) and the cinnamon (apple butter comes spiced.)  I had made chicken broth earlier and used all but one of my carrots, which shredded to half a cup, and I, think for us, it was plenty.  I think the can of pineapple I had was larger than the called for 15 oz., but I'm not sure there was much difference in the final product; maybe a little more moist.  It was good, filling and a different flavor combo - in a good way.

Enter the first of several cheesy pastas for the week.  White Pizza Lasagna.  This was no more time consuming than a regular lasagna, but it was really good.  I loved the roasted tomatoes, however at $3.50 a pint, I couldn't justify four, so I bought three and it was fine.  I did wonder if I could use frozen ones, which I have from last summer; may have to try that.  Some of the cheeses were a little tricky to find, but a well stocked grocery should carry them.  The recipe calls for whole milk, but we drink 2% so my sauce didn't quite thicken as much as I wanted, though it didn't really affect the outcome.  Next time I'll either double the roux, use half and half (which I almost always have on hand) or a combo of milk and heavy cream (another staple.)  It was really good and worth the work.

As I was scrolling through my pins, I found these Christmas Cherries, which I made for the cookie bake back during Christmas.  I'm not sure what sort of mad-scientist thing these candied cherries go through to make them clear and remove most of the flavor, but they work in these cookies.  The base is buttery and light and somehow those don't-call-me-a-cherry-cherries work.  They'll make a return this year.

I didn't get fish on my menu this week, probably because I didn't see one coated in cheese, but we did have two meatless nights.  One was the lasagna and the other was Quinoa Black Bean Tacos which I've made before and even the kids like them.

I've got birthday prep to do and a Parent Appreciation Rally to go to.

Happy Friday,

Friday, January 29, 2016

Food for Thought

It was a lovely, productive week for me and, as a result, I feel really good.  Today alone, I started dealing with 25+ years of crap in our store room.  I'm pretty happy with what I got done, but I'm also pretty sure nobody will notice a thing.  I mean, it's 25 years of marriage and babies and hobbies and collections and stuff, but I notice the holes and spaces where stuff no longer lives and I'm good with that.  I may go back and do some more, but I told myself I was going to play with paper and baby pictures before I decided that.

Our weekend starts with an early sports date, which hasn't happened in years and years.  We hit the ice at 7:45 am for week three of camp.  Then we're off to First Reconciliation for the 7 y.o.  Hubby's brother is coming into town for some skiing, but we'll enjoy his company for a day before he heads up into the hills.  Sunday, the long awaiting Pinewood Derby.

It's a weekend that needs easy meals, especially if I want to get back to my photos.  If you've got a busy weekend, or you're looking to plan for the upcoming week, check out the recipes below.

I've made Pioneer Woman's Sherried Tomato Soup before.  It is my go-to for tomato soup, though I've yet to add sherry to it; I sub in chicken broth.  This time I opted to use dried basil, about a tablespoon, and fresh parsley.  The flavor was great, as always, and I love the chunky feel of the tomatoes in the soup.  If you like it smooth, use the blender (cover the lid to prevent getting hot soup all over you) or use an immersion blender.

I've served the above soup with basic garlic bread or rolls, Olive Cheese Bread (which for my kids' sake I make one side of the bread olive-less), Ham and Cheese Sliders, Grilled Pimento and Cheese Sandwiches - all good, but this time I opted for Homemade Pizza Rolls.  I had planned to use the tube pizza crusts, but the grocery store was wiped out from the Bronco's play-off game the day before, so I made my Quick Bread and it was probably even better.

I had Kielbasa, it's a staple in my freezer, but I opted to use some other brats I had on hand for these Hawaiian Kielbasa Sandwiches.  I like them, and I'm sure the Kielbasa would have been amazing as well.  I used regular hot dog buns, which were crazy-marked-down after the Bronco game.  Super easy, super good.  You could probably serve them bun-less and do up rice instead.

These Apple Pie Dumplings are two ingredients.  Can it get much easier?  They were good, but the recipe didn't make enough.  If I made it again, I'd use and 8x8 or 9x9 inch pan, and it could almost use two cans of apples.  That or add ice cream.  While it was good, I have other recipes to try, plus ones that I've tried and liked better.

Canned pie filling is pricey, so when I saw the link to this Quick Apple Pie Filling in the above Dumpling recipe I thought I'd give it shot.  Super simple.  So simple, I will use it whenever I need canned apple pie filling.  I used a couple different apples - Granny and Macintosh - and the only thing I'd do different is slice the a little thicker; a personal preference.  If using medium apples, it make the equivalent of a 21 oz. can.

I have to say I was skeptical when I pinned this Cheeseburger Soup.  I thought it looked good, and reading the recipe sounded good, but didn't think it would pack a flavor-punch.  Was I wrong.  It was flavorful, creamy, filling.  It was a do-again, for sure.

New year, means new (or a return to forgotten) goals.  One meatless meal a week, plus Lent coming up in a couple weeks, means fish is starting to stock my freezer.  Enter Maple Glazed Salmon.  The glaze was simple, and tasty and we always enjoy salmon.

I made Dill Potato Wedges to go with the salmon.  I chose not to spend the money on the packaged red potatoes, instead I bought fresh red potatoes and boiled them earlier in the day, and then followed the recipe.  If you choose to do the same, cook them just a bit al dente, since you'll cook them again.  You could use another potato, but red potatoes will hold up better to the cooking.

I was scrounging my pantry for dessert on Monday, and found a Cake Mix with a cookie recipe on the side.  These Chunky Chocolate Cookies filled my need for a cookie for lunches for the week, plus they are really good.  Instead of nuts, I used chopped dried cherries.  My boys can't leave them alone.  Since I'm trying to move away from store-bought cake mixes, I will make them again using a homemade cake mix.

Time to decide - scrapbook or continue in the basement.  I tell you, when I'm on a cleaning/purging roll, just get out of my way.  It's hard for me to not keep going.  I'm not the only one like this, am I?

Happy Friday,

Scrap Your Stash - Challenge 11


I love brads.  So many colors.  So many designs.  Plus, brads are probably one of the easiest embellishments to use, so for me, I have few in my stash.  That doesn't mean I have none, but compared to other embellishments, it's a small stash.  However, if that's not the case for you, CONGRATS, today's the day for you.

Today, you're going to roll out some brads and use them.  Try using at least five to seven on your layout or card.

Go. Create.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Scrap Your Stash - Challenge 10


Even if you haven't purchased a big box or package of them for your pocket pages (aka ProjectLife®), chances are pretty good than your stash of journaling cards makes a fair stack.  Sheets or individual cards, journaling cards are more than just for journaling.  Layer them, use them as a base for a grouping, use them as a mat for small photos, or shoot trim them and use the part that works best.  

Today's the day to round up a sheet, or a stack and use them, and maybe not just for journaling.

Go. Create.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

We Are

  • We are FINALLY looking at the blank space where a tree used to be.  Woohoo!
  • We are looking for hair care products to start working on our "flow."  I was asked if, "they dye hair here?"  I can't tell if he's too ahead of himself, or if he's dressing for the part he wants.
  • She is finding ways of eating well with a microwave, a mini 'fridge and no storage.
  • He is his music
  • We are gettin' it done.
  • We are suffering the consequences of ice clearing.  Hard to see it, but there is a large lump in the middle of his palm, and three popped blisters around it.  Problems of houses facing due north.
  • We are celebrating a birthday.  #missingjack
Happy Wednesday,

Scrap Your Stash - Challenge Nine


I have a Mason Jar full of posies.  There are more flowers in there, than grow in my gardens.  I have enough leaves to outfit a small tree.

I have a love-hate relationship with florals and leaves.  I love the abundance of them.  I love their cheeriness.  Well placed ones can make a layout or card.  I hate that I can't always use them effectively; I want them to work, but they just won't.  So, the extras sit in a jar - quite cheery and peppy in my creative space, but they should be in an album.

Today, rake up your leaves, and grab a fistful of blooms.  It's time to use them on your layout, card or home decor piece.

Go.  Create.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Scrap Your Stash - Challenge Eight


Tags.  Tabs.  Charms.  Plates.  Gears.  Flair.  Corners.  All made of metal.  

Making Memories - remember them? - always had great metal items.  My stash of metal embellishments isn't terrible, when compared to say, oh, my paper, but they are items I tend to pass over when creating a layout.

Today, there is no passing over.  Round up your metal goodies and create a layout, card or other paper craft using at least one, but more if you can work it.

Go.  Create.