Monday, March 30, 2009

This Week's Menu....

Here's my menu plan for the week....much of it dug from some old issues of Cooking Light. I love this magazine.

While I'm concerned with health, I don't generally look for "light" recipes per say. What a like about this magazine is that the recipes use a lot of fresh, healthy, ingredients, and tend to be adventuresome, which pushes me out of my cooking comfort zone. I can get stuck in a meal planning rut when I get busy, so I like to have something to flip through Sunday night for fresh ideas.

I believe all of their recipes are online...I'm so visual and tactile though, that I really love to have the magazine in my hand:-)

Roasted chicken, basmati rice and salad

Homemade Pizza....going to make the crust from scratch the night before and this one will feature olives, feta and fresh tomatoes...Greek Style, if you will.

...????drawing a blank here still, it's my long work day and I need something fast!

Flank Steak Sandwiches (from CL) with Salad

Black Eyed Pea Cakes and Collards (from CL)
Did I mention how delicious the collards are sauteed in a bit of bacon grease (we get the nitrate free bacon from Wegmans, yummy!).

Chicken Tapenade Sandwiches (from CL)
I'm an absolute nut about olives, mmmmmm!

Probably leftovers

Last week's Cream of Mushroom Quinoa Soup was a hit, even Helena ate it!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Week Ahead, or Organizing my Scattered Thoughts

It's Sunday night, it' s been a full weekend at home. The work week begins anew tomorrow. My weekends seem to fly by all too quickly, and then the week begins and I'm caught up in the seeming chaos of it all.

In an attempt to harness it somewhat, I sat down today, discussed the menu plan for the week with Patrick & Helena, and jotted down some priorities for the week. I tend to get home from work, or get to my mid week day off (yes, I'm very fortunate to have that!) and lose focus, if I had it to begin with. So today I set some of it down on paper so I would have a sense of what the focus should be for this week.

This was spurred somewhat by the angst I felt after finishing a great book, Craft, Inc by Meg Mateo Ilasco. I have always had a creative side, not always had a lot of confidence in it, but have been painting, sewing, and otherwise crafting since I was small. As a little girl I made dolls clothes, during the Cabbage Patch Kid craze, that I wanted to sell. They were pretty cute, but I never followed through with the marketing of them. There were some other attempts too. And lots of dreams. Not a lot of follow through. I've done a lot of personal growth work, soul searching, etc..., throughout my adult life and I believe I am a fairly self-aware person. But none of this has, to date, really helped me be effective in this area. And quite honestly, I'm sick to death of it.

I got the book because it seemed like having a step by step guide would be helpful, and in a sense it was. There's a lot of great information and stories in there. But it left me feeling pissed off and frustrated with myself. The information was good, some of it invaluable, but I lot of it I already know....enough to start, certainly.

This is a rambling post, I'll get to the planning soon, but at the moment, I continue to vent....

When I visited San Diego last month we got to see our nieces and nephew. I'm happy to say, that after a very tough couple of years, they seem to be doing really well. They lost their mother, my husband's sweet sister Val, suddenly in January of 2007. Clister, a young man in his early twenties, took over care of his two teenage sisters Melanie and Sharon, and is doing an amazing job. I'm sure it isn't always easy, but he handles it with class. While visiting with them, Clister handed us his newly released CD, Clister: Directions 2 Real. I have to say, I was floored, and a little ashamed. With everything going on in his life, he managed to write and record a CD. And here am I, still not doing my thing..........

So anyway, here I sit. Not beating myself up, but just tired of my own excuses. Not really sure where to start, but knowing that it's time to just start, and that something wilts in me everytime I fail to prioritize myself, and now I'm aching for water.....

Here's my week:


Pasta with Chicken, Red Sauce and Vegis (whatever we have) and Salad

Tomato Cabbage Soup with homemade bread
This is a favorite recipe, so here it is

Tomato-Cabbage Soup

1) Finely dice 1 carrot, 1 leek, well-washed and 1/2 bunch celery, including leaves. Saute in a soup pot with 1 Tb oil and 1/2 Tb whole fennel seed. When golden brown, add 8 c. water and 1 Tb pesto, if you have it, otherwise add 1tsp dried basil. Cover and simmer 1 hour.

2) Coarsely shop 5 c. fresh tomatoes. You need not skin them. (Or alternatively, add 1 qt. canned tomatoes, breaking up the tomatoes somewhat in the soup pot). Add to soup pot with 1/4 c. canned tomato paste. Cut up 1/4 small cabbage into 1" squares and add to simmering soup. Cook another 30 min. When cabbage and tomatoes seem done, add 1/3 c. white rice and cook 10 min more. The rice really needs to go in much earlier to be done on time.

3) Season soup with 2 Tb brown sugar, 2 tsp salt and 1 Tb lemon juice. Taste and correct seasonings if necessary. Garnish each serving with sour cream.

serves 6

Roasted chicken, baked potatoes and Wilted Collard Greens

We're out for dinner

Cream of Quinoa Mushroom Soup with more bread
I made this about 5 years ago and remember loving it. I happen to have quinoa, so I'm making it

Pork chops, rice, salad

Left overs

Priorities for the Week

Get in to the art room and start working on something again!
Clean out cabinets for Helena's room
Work on baby gifts
Weed and prep garden for planting this weekend (root vegis)
Plant onion starts

I still need to make a shopping list based on the menu, and other random items we're low on, but that's a good start, I think.... time to get to bed.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Theme Thursday.....Vegetable

My Hopeful Garden

Happy Theme Thursday!

March is a fickle month here in Upstate. It can be 60 and gorgeous one day, and 30 and snowing the next. Myself, and most everyone I know around here are absolutely itching for spring. I find myself impatient with the cold weather, though spring has not yet technically begun.

This year we plan to have a large garden, enough to fill our fresh food needs for the spring, summer, and autumn, and hopefully enough to can and freeze some for winter.

We planted our first seedlings weeks ago, and most have yet to sprout despite our grow light (since we lack good windows with southern exposure). But, less than a week after planting, these little Kale plants came popping optimistically through the soil, and are growing rapidly. This photo is about a week old, some are already two inches tall.

My bulbs have yet to push through the winter soil, though it seems that most everyone else's have....I know this is just my impatience, but I'm really READY for spring.

But my Kale is growing and thriving...I check them multiple times a day! So I can hang on until the warmer weather is here to stay....

Text Color

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Theme Thursday.....Animal

My parent's made this, ahem, "bird feeder," with Helena last summer. Mom asked me for photos for a scrap book they're making of the day the spend together each week. I'm not sure this was quite what they had in mind....

This bird feeder hangs with no easy access...however, the squirrels (which are rampant in our village), manage to dive at this feeder, missing many times, but persisting none the less until the land and can manage to hang on until it stops swinging.

Happy Theme Thursday

Friday, March 6, 2009

A moment of gratitude...

I've been up's now almost 12:30am and I like to be in bed by around 10. But taxes are due shortly, and I had bills to pay.....sigh....

This kind of paperwork often leaves me feeling edgy and crabby. Lately I feel like I'm trying to spread too little much to far. Taxes scare me. Since I was behind on our paperwork all year, I only vaguely knew where we were at, and I tried to throw some money at estimated payments (since we're both self-employed) when I could, which wasn't a lot.

I think we'll be okay there...if we owe, it shouldn't be too bad, if not, so much the better.

The bills, for the moment, are all paid, and there's a bit left till next week. Winter's winding down, our heating bills will be too. It feels like a bit of a treadmill right now, but at least I'm able to stay on. That one phrase...the bills are all paid, is for me, at this moment in time, with the state of the country and world, something to be deeply grateful for. And I am.

Sweet dreams!

P.S. When I just glanced at my page to check for errors, I noted that the current temp is 39 degrees...AT NIGHT! And, then I had to log onto and it's now going to be in the 50s for the next few days, instead of 40s, so I'm dancing in my seat grateful for that!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Menu Planning...part of the balancing act

It's Sunday night. Helena's asleep. Patrick is showering. We've had a fairly mellow weekend (dug into one project, which I'll describe at another time). I'm tired, but planning for the week to come.

I find, these days, that planning ahead helps a lot in most things. I like spontaneity....I could watch it all day! But as the mother of a 4 year old, somedays I find it challanging to accomplish anything let alone everything on ever growing list.

One the things that helps me tremendously is planning our dinner menu for the week. Patrick asked me last week, were were really going to stick with this one. Of course I said no! So really, it's more of a menu guildline. I depart from it for various reasons...too tired sometimes to cook and just do something simple, too many leftovers we need to eat, forgot we had plans to be out, etc... But having a notion in advance of what to cook these days keeps me from scrambling around at 5pm trying fast thaw something and ending up with a cranky hungry family by the time dinner is ready.

So without further ado, here's my menu plan for this week ( I mean guildline!):

Monday: Buffalo Chicken Pizza (for some reason I bought buffalo style sausage, this seemed a good way to use it. I made the crust tonight and am slow rising it in the fridge, ALA Alton Brown.

Tuesday: we'll be out

Wednesday: Enchilada Casserole (lots of torillas in the freezer, and not the good kind you get fresh in CA, kind of hard, best used this way)

Thursday: Dinner out (Karls house)

Friday: Pork Chops, Collards Greens, Rice or Potatoes (I have both)

Saturday: Turkey Meatloaf, Broccoli, Rice or Potatoes (I have both)

Sunday: Eat up leftovers

Once I have a plan, I make my shopping list and check recipes so I know I have what I need on hand. Sometimes I'll also bump an item to the next day if we start getting overrun with leftovers. I also like to plan in easy nights like burgers or hotsdogs with salad one a day when I know we'll be busy and not get home early enought to cook.

Happy March!