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Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Ah, That Hit the Spot!

It was 90 degrees in our area today, and pretty humid. Our house feels reasonably comfortable inside with the central air running, but I had no desire to turn on the oven or stovetop to make dinner. I’ve had a hankerin’ for something in particular the past couple of days, and today was the perfect day for it.

A salad! Made with Allie’s help, of course. (Though I often think she eats as much as she puts in the salad when she helps me cut veggies.)

We loaded it up, with lettuce, purple cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, green pepper, radishes, celery, cucumbers, mushrooms (for some of us), diced chicken, and shredded cheddar cheese. Mmmmm. I really do love a good salad, but it takes sooo long to prepare (usually 45+ minutes of chopping) and so long to eat (the last two times we made salad, I ended up putting mine in the fridge to finish later because one kid or another required my attention) that we only have it every couple of weeks or even in the summer.

Now I just can’t wait to eat the sweet corn I bought today. Not sure when we’ll get a chance, since the big kids and I will be gone most of tomorrow, but at 10/$1 I simply couldn’t resist.

I love summer eatin’!

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Tim and I have been working hard on creating and sticking to a budget lately. With that has come a reduction in our weekly grocery budget. That’s not a big deal, but I have a feeling that it will be easier to handle the smaller budget if I can take the time to do at least some minimal menu planning in advance. One of my online friends recommended using All Recipes in my planning. She said that all of the 4.5-5 star recipes she’s tried have been great.

I’ve been browsing the site this evening, and it IS great! The best part is that you can create your own virtual “recipe box” and save all the recipes that sound interesting to you, so you don’t have to remember what they’re called or print out/write down the recipes for future use.

I can’t wait to try some of the recipes!

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The Pan That Can (Better Homes & Gardens)Need help with easy recipes? Tired of the same old, same old? 9×13: The Pan That Can can help!

This recent cookbook from Better Homes & Gardens shows all kinds of great things to do with that old standby, the 9×13 pan. Almost everyone has one in their kitchen (surprisingly, I didn’t – must have left it at someone’s house), and it’s a very versatile pan indeed. I’ve made a couple of these recipes already and the family loved ’em.

From the official description:

“More than 370 tempting recipes that can be made in a 9×13 pan, with favorites for every meal of the day.

Breakfast and brunch dishes include Ham & Cheese Strata and Oven-Easy French Toast.

Crowd-pleasing main dish recipes include Lemon-Herb Roasted Chicken and Apple-Glazed Pork Loin and warming casseroles such as Italian Sausage and Spinach Casserole and Florentine Lasagna.

Potluck-perfect sides, salads, and breads make it easy to find the perfect contribution for any get-together any time of day.

Decadent desserts and sweets include Three-Layer Brownies, Pear-Gingerbread Upside Down Cake, and Raspberry-White Chocolate Bread Pudding.”

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Food Meme

Shamelessly stolen from jenefur.

01. CHEESE or CHOCOLATE? Oh, do I HAVE to choose?
02. BLUEBERRIES or STRAWBERRIES?
03. COFFEE or TEA? neither! (but I love the smell of coffee!)
04. CORN MUFFIN or ENGLISH MUFFIN?
05. PANCAKES or FRENCH TOAST?
06. YOGURT or CREAM CHEESE? Neither
07. RICE or PASTA?
08. CAKE or PIE?
09. GROUND BEEF or GROUND TURKEY?
10. HOT DOGS or HAMBURGERS?
11. JELLY or MARMALADE?
12. AMERICAN CHEESE or SWISS CHEESE?
13. DIET SODA or NO SODA?
14. LEMONADE or ICED TEA?
15. CHERRIES or GRAPES?
16. CHOCOLATE QUIK or STRAWBERRY QUIK?
17. WAFFLES or PANCAKES?
18. WHITE BREAD or WHOLE-GRAIN/WHEAT BREAD?
19. PEAS or CARROTS?
20. PUDDING or FRUIT-FLAVORED GELATIN?
21. COLD CEREAL or HOT CEREAL?
22. KETCHUP or MUSTARD?
23. MUSTARD or MAYONNAISE? Ick, neither.
24. MAYONNAISE or KETCHUP?
25. BLACK OLIVES or GREEN OLIVES? Neither
26. ONION or GARLIC?
27. PLAIN BARBECUE or BARBECUE WITH SAUCE?
28. SCRAMBLED EGGS or FRIED EGGS?
29. EGGS or EGG REPLACEMENTS?
30. MEAT or VEGETABLES? I love both.
31. CHINESE TAKE-OUT or PIZZA?
32. SUSHI or DELI SANDWICH?
33. WHITE CLAM CHOWDER or RED CLAM CHOWDER? Neither.
34. KEY LIME PIE or LEMON MERANGUE PIE? Neither
35. PIE & ICE CREAM or CAKE & ICE CREAM?
36. WHIPPED CREAM or CAKE FROSTING? I like both.
37. HONEY or MAPLE SYRUP?

How do you like your eggs?
Scrambled – nice and fluffy – with cheese, green pepper, and ham.

How do you take your coffee/tea:
I don’t drink either.

Favorite breakfast foods:
I love pancakes, bacon, and hash browns but rarely have any of them.

Peanut butter: smooth or crunchy?
Crunchy.

What kind of dressing on your salad?
None!

Coke or Pepsi?
Pepsi (But Diet Coke over Diet Pepsi)

You’re feeling lazy. What do you make?
Frozen pizza – Tombstone

You’re feeling really lazy. What kind of pizza do you order?
Pepperoni & cheese.

You feel like cooking. What do you make?
Stir fry.

Is there a food you refuse to eat?
Most seafood. Also mayonnaise, mustard, salad dressing. Others too numerous to mention.

Favorite fruit & vegetable:
Grapes/corn on te cob

Favorite junk food:
peanut M&Ms

Favorite between meal snack:
peanut butter M&Ms

Do you have any weird food habits:
My whole family dips their grilled cheese in applesauce. Yum!

You’re on a diet. What food(s) do you fill up on?
Veggies.

How spicy do you order Indian/Thai?
I don’t eat either.

The perfect nightcap?
A book to read. 🙂

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Last year, I listed some of the personal goals I had set for myself in 2007. I didn’t include all of them, but listed some specific things I was working on to reach my larger goals. I thought it would be fun to take a look and see how I did.

Make something new for dinner. The night before, my five-year-old said “We just had this!” when I served dinner. He was right, and I realized that I need to branch out a bit in my cooking. Dinner got rave review last night, and my son even cleaned his plate. Um, still working on this one. If anyone has any easy ways to do this (while still working full-time etc) please let me know.

Write in my blog. I obviously just started this blog this week, actually just so that I can learn to use WordPress in a work-related context. I really like it, and have decided to keep it up. I’d say we all know that I’ve succeeded with this one. 🙂

E-mail my friend Jodi. We’ve been friends for 12 years (met while working at the bookstore together) but we don’t see each other very often, even though she just lives on the other side of town. This time, it’s been nearly a year since we’ve really had any contact. We had a great visit, but I really didn’t hear from her again until I got her Christmas card. Which had a return address of Houston, Texas, where she had moved without mentioning it to me. Guess we won’t be seeing each other anytime soon!

Read bedtime stories to my son. Usually, I put Little Sister to bed while my husband reads to Big Brother and puts him to bed. We used to take turns before Little Sister was born, and I miss it. Last night we read Berenstain Bears and the Missing Dinosaur Bone (his choice), I Wish that I Had Duck Feet (my choice), and something else that I can’t remember. Going great on this one – in fact, I put him to bed more often these days, because LS demands Tim most nights. I read him a bedtime story about a third of the time – the rest of the time, he reads to himself!

And now, for my 2008 non-resolutions. I’m calling them non-resolutions because they really aren’t anything major or even very important. Just some things I’d like to keep in mind as the year progresses.

  • Read more. For some reason, I think I read less in 2007 than any other year since I learned how to read (that would be 1976). I’ve been working on it a bit lately and think it will continue.
  • Spend a little more time on my hobbies, scrapbooking and sewing. It’s easy to say “I just haven’t had time” but the truth is, I haven’t made them any sort of priority. I really enjoy both of these hobbies and would like to get back to them, starting with the (quick) blanket I’m going to make LS tomorrow, since she starts preschool the next day and I’d like her to have a new blanket/pillow for nap time.
  • Spend a little less time farting around on the computer. Don’t worry, I have NO plans whatsoever to stop blogging. Not gonna happen. However, ever since we got the laptop (and hence have two computers) I find myself frittering away the evening on the couch, laptop in hand. Maybe I need to start setting limits for myself – computer until 9:30, then read, or something along those lines.
  • Keep working on the cooking – variety, etc. Not much needs to be said here. Still looking for ways to incorporate a variety of easy, quick (and preferably healthy and cheap) meals into our evenings.
  • Stay active with my Child Passenger Safety Technician stuff. ‘Nuff said.

I guess that’s about it! What about you? Are you making resolutions for 2008? How’d you do with last year’s?

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OK, I’m not the world’s best cook. And I usually just make something quick for weeknight dinners. And weekend lunches. But I do make some things that my family likes to eat. (Tim does, at least – Big Brother and Little Sister are both fickle eaters, and I never know whether they’ll like what I make … regardless of whether they liked it last time!)

Chicken and rice

Tacos (soft or hard, chicken or beef)

Chili

Stir fry

Potato and ham casserole

Chicken/vegetable/barley soup (totally homemade … though I admit that LS and I are the only ones who like it)

Barbecue chicken

Tuna casserole

Beef stew

Spaghetti

French bread pizzas

Anything on the grill!

Lasagna

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! Leave a comment with a link to your own Thursday Thirteen so others can visit you.

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One of the best things about summer in my neighborhood is The Corn Stand. (Yes, that’s what it’s called, The Corn Stand.) The corn stand is about a quarter mile from my house, and the corn they sell is picked fresh each morning. And the field they pick it from is right across from the end of my street. (We’re the sixth house on the street, so it’s super close.) I’m a huge fan of corn on the cob anyway – I could eat three ears a day when it’s good – and it just thrills me to eat corn from a field that I can see from my yard.

Yesterday, my folks came for the usual weekend lunch visit. Dad asked what where having and when I replied that I’d planned hamburgers on the grill, he went to the corn stand and returned with 15 ears of corn. Mmm-mmm, it was the best corn we’ve had so far this year. Can’t wait to have some more this weekend. (Unfortunately, corn on the cob just takes too darn long to cook on weeknights.)

Oh, and the kids agree. You should see Little sister attack a (half) ear of corn and then ask for more. Big Brother’s a little slower, but that’s because he’s missing his two front teeth. All things considered, though, he does pretty well.

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Well, at least ONE of my children likes my cooking:

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Yes, she’s actually licking her plate clean.

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“More, please!” She had FOUR servings.

Big Brother, on the other hand, basically had to be cajoled and even threatened (with no movie tonight) to get him to eat five lousy noodles.

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BookBingeLogo

 Don’t forget that April is Book Binge Month!

Do you love to bury yourself in a book? Are you always on the lookout for suggestions, <a href=”http://daycaredaze.wordpress.com/2007/03/29/upcoming-event-reminder/&#8221; mce_href=”http://daycaredaze.wordpress.com/2007/03/29/upcoming-event-reminder/”&gt; <img src=”http://farm1.static.flickr.com/185/437987932_48710a408c_m.jpg&#8221; mce_src=”http://farm1.static.flickr.com/185/437987932_48710a408c_m.jpg&#8221; style=”margin: 0 10px 10px 0; float:left” alt=”book binge” border=”0″ /></a>good titles, provocative reads? MaryP’s Book Binge here. Book Binge is a month in which you read, log, and then post everything you read all through April.

On May 1, you’ll each post our lists on our blogs.

Here are the guidelines:

  • Yes, you can include books you re-read, so long as you re-read them in between April 1 and 30.

  • Yes, you may also include books you start but don’t finish, just note the page at which you gave it up. Something like, “Quit, page 47 of 322.″

  • Yes, you may include books that you read for work or school

  • No, you may not include books you read to your children – unless those books are at least 125 pages long.)

So far, we have:

Participants:
MaryP
Jolene
Mimi
btwinny
Allison
blabby
Jen
Angela
Nicole
Dani
Karyn
KM
Heath
LoryKC
Karin
Kat
Bluebunny
Sheri
KTP
LoryKC
Alison
Angela
Kat
Hazela
Kittenpie
Lars
Gutsy

Anyone else who would like to participate should just leave a comment and I’ll add you to the list. Please spread the word on your blog (if you have one).

MaryP’s super-smart finace has also provided us with these nifty buttons that you can post on your own blog. There’s a small and a medium version. All you have to do is copy and paste the the following code into your sidebar or post.

For SMALL (125 pixels wide, suitable for a sidebar),

 
Copy and paste this code:
<a href=”http://daycaredaze.wordpress.com/2007/03/29/upcoming-event-reminder/&#8221; mce_href=”http://daycaredaze.wordpress.com/2007/03/29/upcoming-event-reminder/”&gt; <img src=”http://farm1.static.flickr.com/185/437987938_6611104e47_o.jpg&#8221; mce_src=”http://farm1.static.flickr.com/185/437987938_6611104e47_o.jpg&#8221; alt=”book binge” /></a>

For MEDIUM (240 pixels wide; your text will wrap to the right of the image),

 

Copy and paste this code:

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Mmm-mmm Good!

Well, I’m pleased to report that the second recpie I tried was delicious! It was a take on shepherd’s pie. Well, Big Brother was a pill and didn’t really try it, but hubby loved it despite the tomatoes, and Little Sister didn’t even wait for her plate to be set down before she spooned out a big bite. I loved it too. Will definitely be making this one again.

It was so nice to come home and just pop the pan in the oven for 30 minutes while I played with Little Sister, then set the table and pour drinks after I took the pan out of the oven. I’m seriously on a quest for more meals that I can make over the weekend and then just pop in the oven on weeknights. (Storing them in the fridge, not necessarily freezing them, unless I make double batches.)

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