Maple Greek Yogurt and Oats

I’ve been on an eat-what-I-want bender for a few weeks now (OK maybe longer) and it needs to stop. I love to cook, I love to bake, I love to try new things and share them with my family. But, some of us need to watch our eating a little more than others. Being supportive of Lootie, who is working on slimming down, reminds me to be supportive of myself (fancy that) and my own needs, and nowhere do I need to eat with unbridled abandon.

It has also been incredibly hot here. Topping off in the 100s, our air conditioning has been going non-stop almost all month. When the air is on, it makes little sense to start kicking on a hot stove for hours, or simmering soups and heating up the kitchen. Many of our meals have been crockpot , stovetop, or toaster oven.

I go in phases with a lot of foods, but a constant is eggs. They make their way into my breakfast 7 times out of 10. Another favorite is yogurt. I think I got a taste for it from my mother. She put it in her cereals and seemed to be eating that (and toast) constantly in the mornings. The verdict is still out whether buying yogurt straight up or making it myself is the best way to go, but considering I’ve purchased 2 non-homogenized, organic whole milk bottles and ended up letting the boys drink it (not being able to make my loving yogurt out of them), sometimes you just have to break down and buy it, I’m figuring.

So I did. This has been my go-to breakfast (and sometimes dinner) over the past week. I like the consistency– thick, chewy, oaty. It’s almost like an ice cream, but not, and just a touch of sweet. It is perfection to me.

Let’s break it down, shall we? Basically it is a serving of oats and a serving of yogurt with the addition of some maple syrup and cinnamon. Easy as pie, but way less calories. Har.

Maple Greek Yogurt & Oats

4 ounces plain whole milk Greek yogurt
40 grams (1 1/2 cup serving) old-fashioned oats
11 grams (about 1 tsp.) maple syrup
sprinkle of cinnamon (I use a grinder and go about 25 grinds)

Mash together and enjoy.

I’m on my 3rd tub of yogurt this week, addicted once again.

Noodles & Company Wisconsin Mac & Cheese (copycat recipe)

This has become one of my favorite recipes: Noodles & Company Wisconsin Mac & Cheese (copycat recipe)

I have to admit, when I’d take my kids to Noodles and the order this dish, my throat tightens just a little. Isn’t there anything else you want? I mean, I make home made mac & cheese on a regular rotation and they love it. Can’t they try something I don’t make? And then I tried it. I liked it. Especially with a dousing of Sriracha Hot Sauce. I can see why it is a winner, and I’m from Wisconsin.

Pool of cheesy roux + noodles + a topping of shredded cheese?  You get to stir it up and watch the cheese melt right in front of you. What kid (or adult) wouldn’t want that?

Basically you are taking the cheese roux and instead of mixing that with the pasta and baking it, you plate it up all separate. Why wouldn’t it be good? I’ve been known to sneak some roux and noodle before baking and chomp it down. The stuff is good.

Here we go. Source: Food.com

Noodles & Co. Wisconsin Mac and Cheese
8 servings

INGREDIENTS
2 lbs macaroni noodles (cooked al dente)
4 T butter
4 T flour
4 cups whole milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
4 cups monterey jack cheese, shredded
2 cups colby-monterey jack cheese, finely shredded

DIRECTIONS:
Cook the macaroni according to the directions to al dente; do not overcook!
Heat butter in sauce pan over medium heat; melt.
Add the flour; whisk to make a roux.
Continue to whisk until the mixture boils, bubbles and turns slightly brown.
Whisk in salt, pepper, and paprika.
Slowly whisk in the milk and continue to whisk and cook until it starts to thicken up. It will not get pudding thick, and will still be a thin sauce. This is how you want it.
Remove from heat and add the 4c. of monterey jack.

To serve: Pour about 1/2 – 3/4 cup of the cheese sauce into the bottom of a bowl. Add about 1 cup of cooked noodles over the sauce. Top with a small handful of colby-monterey (about 1/4 cup). Stir and enjoy!

NOTE: 1c shredded cheese is approx. 4oz.

I can feed my entire family a very healthy portion of this (and have leftovers) for less than it would cost to feed two people the same meal at Noodles & Co. — score!  You can make the noodles ahead and whip up the roux in less than 15 minutes. Just warm your noodles before plating. It heats up well, too.

Buffalo Chicken Tacos

I have to share this recipe because it was super delicious and wonderfully easy. This recipe is a definite keeper!

I’d like to interject that I really hate how Google now handles picture uploading and sharing. They’ve turned it all over to Google+ instead of Picasaweb; I am disappointed, inconvenienced. How dare they change up their free services on me?

Back to the recipe: Buffalo Chicken Tacos.

I’ve admitted before that me and measurements just don’t go well together. So I’ll tell you how my ratios rounded out. This recipe was so painfully easy, yet rendered mighty tasty results. Shred, dump, heat, enjoy. Voila. I’m sure you could get more detailed using avocados, lettuce, onions, cilantro – whatever your heart desires. But the bare-bones of this type of recipe are good just by themselves. It is appetizer-like in quality and taste, but can easily work as a stand alone dinner.

This ended up serving 7 of us (about 2-3 tacos each).

Ingrediants:
1 rotisserie chicken (meat removed and shredded)
1 12-oz. bottle Frank’s Red Hot sauce (dump over chicken)
1 bunch of celery (about 8 stalks – chopped)
1 20-count package of flour tortillas (warmed)
about 1 cup of shredded cheese (I used some leftover colby/jack and shredded it by hand on top)
blue cheese dressing (or ranch, as some of my boys preferred)

I pulled the chicken off the bone (saving bone and skin to make broth), put it in my small crockpot. Dumped the jar of sauce in; set the crockpot on “warm” until the kids got home from the pool. In the meantime I washed and chopped up the celery. (When I was ready) I warmed tortillas for about 15 seconds each in on each side and remove; add toppings (chicken, celery, cheese, dressing). It was so easy. Did I say that already? I didn’t bother with the sea salt or oiling the griddle like the original recipe called for. I was down for simplicity and the Red Hot and blue cheese are pretty salty on their own. I don’t usually oil my griddle when I heat tacos. I started to and then stopped. I used my iron skillet on med-high for a few seconds on each side, stack on a plate, cover and keep warm until I use them. It’s habit.

While waiting for the boys to get home, I threw a couple tortillas on to warm, cracked a beer and had my dinner in a quiet house while I watched the end of the Brewer’s game.

They are rich, hearty, little buggers. You don’t need a lot of any of the toppings for it to make a statement. Dante’s girlfriend said it was too spicy. The rest of the boys ate their two quickly (some adding additional heat to their taco) and then swarmed like vultures, hoping to get another one. I was able to sock two away for Frank when he gets home from is overtime.

Homemade Mocha Fudge Pops Recipe

I’ve taken a million pictures and have a ton of recipes to share, but little time to whip these posts up. As I’ve gone through the past few weeks of events and trying new things around the house, I’ll snap a picture or scratch a note down for things I want to blog about; the pile is high. As I surf around and look at blog after blog of picture plump tutorials, recipes, daily activities… I can’t help but wonder how everyone finds the time. Not only the time but – does the food go to waste sometimes during these blogazine post tutorials (’cause every “blog post” is now a “tutorial” yanno – yes, please show me how you scoop sugar from a container, would you, I need to know)?  I’m probably over-thinking it, but whatever.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE the internet and its vast amount of free knowledge and entertainment. But, the more I surf, the more I notice assimilation. In the striving to be different than, there is a lot more of becoming the same as. Words, photos, catch phrases… it is interesting. I’m not saying I’m immune, either. It seeps in your veins like an acquired accent (give me 10 minutes in a room with a Southerner and I come out with a drawl). It’s kind of like a hairstyle. People see, people like, people get the same haircut. I guess with a million restaurants, you can still eat your cheeseburger wherever you want, depending where you like on how they make it.

I know I’m bit of an old soul (or old crow), but–and maybe I’ve said this before–things ’round the internet ain’t the same, friend!

Back to those popsicles. One thing about this whole “everyone’s alike” thing is that I don’t have to feel so badly about not taking gorgeous magazine-ready photos while I’m running around like a headless chicken in my kitchen. I get to present with this:

(taken from Franny’s cellphone: L-Chocolate Mocha, R-Avocado Coconut)

Want sexy popsicle? Google images will do ya. My contribution is half-eaten pop and a shaky hand.

My mom made frozen treats all the time. Blendings of kool-aid, yogurts, and sometimes she’d just straight up freeze a banana on a stick and call it a day. I can’t say that I ever really liked any of the frozen popsicles she made (sorry mom). Part of that might have been that they were all sugar-free, or that they were always just a frozen version of a liquid, never tailored to the process. Over the years I’ve gone on popsicle-making binges, the molds always collecting dust and going to the trash bin after  a while. A few weeks ago I was shopping at Marshalls and came across some fun looking molds and it sparked a desire to make them again.

Original yummy recipe from wonderfuljoyahead.com. I very much like this recipe. I collected a few others, but wanted to make this particular one. I also had one for Mocha pops, which Franny preferred to try, but it called for heavy cream and some other high-calorie additions that I didn’t want to dive into. So I compromised with this:

MOCHA FUDGE POP RECIPE

This made 3 pops plus 2 3-oz. mini cups for me. I like having the mini cups (Solo or Dixie) and some sticks for the extra batter. They are the perfect size if you’re just wanting a taste.

INGREDIENTS
2 1/2 T (approx 25 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 C. sugar
1 T. cornstarch
1 1/2 T. unsweetend cocoa powder
1 1/4 C. whole milk
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 T. instant coffee (I did not measure this, but am guessing)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 T. unsalted butter

Add coffee to milk and stir to mix. Don’t worry if it doesn’t completely mix in. Over very low heat, melt the chocolate chips in a medium saucepan, stirring constantly. Stir in the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. Add milk in 1/2 cup increments, stirring constantly. Turn heat up to medium once all the milk is added. Cook about 5-10 minutes, until the mixture coats the spoon well and turns to a thin pudding consistency.

Remove the pan from the heat, add the vanilla, and butter. Stir to combine. Let cool for a bit, and then pour into your molds. Wait until it’s fully frozen, at least 3 hours.

These were yummy. You could taste the fudge and the coffee.

Onto the AVOCADO COCONUT POPS. These are my favorite. I may have screwed the recipe up a bit or stumbled upon brilliance (I think I forgot to boil the sugar/water – at least on the first batch). I honestly do not know how I can jumble up a popsicle recipe? Maybe this is two recipes in one. Regardless, these bad boys are t-t-tasty. Original recipe here. Please don’t compare it with what I’ve done because clearly I went wildly amiss.

AVOCADO COCONUT POP RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup sugar (the 2nd batch I made with 1/2 cup sugar… see note below)
  • 1 avocado (pitted and peeled)
  • Pinch of salt
  • the juice of 1 lime (or about 2T. lime juice)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Mix all ingrediants using a blender (I used an immersion blender). Be sure to mix well. Pour into molds. Freeze and enjoy (5 hours later). I took the suggestion of the fudge pop recipe and replaced the vanilla with mint in this avocado recipe in the second batch. YUM.
Notes: You can use small cups, easily. Just pour in, top with a piece of foil or plastic wrap and put the stick through that (the foil or wrap holds the stick in place). I found that poking a small hole prior to putting the wrap on made the stick insertion easier. Keep in mind if you use foil and are making more than one flavor, you’ll want to mark the flavor on the stick (the part that is sticking out) so you know what you’re getting into before you unwrap it. A lot of recipes will tell you to freeze the pops for x amount of hours, then insert the stick, but I just don’t have the attention span to babysit my popsicles. So I wrap and insert.
I didn’t notice a huge difference with lowering the sugar in the avocado pops. That’s kind of a flavor choice thing. Sal wanted (literally) avocado popsicles. “These are sweet!” He said, disgusted. This is the kid who now freezes straight up milk for his popsicles.
Yeah. Freezing liquids (gatorade, 7-up and cherry juice) has now become an obsession around the house. I can think of worse.

Chorizo Egg Bake

I’m not always good with recipes and pictures. I make, we eat, I think, Oh I should write that recipe down, and then I try to do just that before my mind moves on to other things. I stand in awe of some of the people online who have food that sits around long enough for pictures. I try. I do. But it doesn’t always work out that way.

I can feel my thoughts derailing. I promise I will stay on topic.

Today’s special ingrediant: chorizo. The kind that comes in tubes, usually two to a pack. The kind I don’t want to think on too long or I’ll end up not eating it. I do check to make sure “lymph nodes” is not on the package as an ingredient, though. Sorry, have seen it on some. I can eat some tubed sausages, but if they say those two words, I’m out. No thank you.

Today I used Aldi’s chorizo. A few posts back we talked Aldi’s food, and which ones were standards. Chorizo might not have been on my list, but it is something I definitely buy there. I bought some today.

Chorizo, the kind that comes in tubes, is delicious. It is also fatty and rich so I usually cut it with a pound of pork – especially if it is a stand-alone meat, used for tacos. I’m trying to reign in our food consumption and make our grocery bill a little bit more palatable, which means stretching foods a bit more. This evening was an exercise of that.

Frank’s working overtime, it’s just me and the boys at home. Since the twins were at baseball, Lootie was off riding his bike, and Dante was at a CPR training for work (not to mention I had off and had a very relaxed day), I aimed my sights at a meager meal.

Here’s what I did:

Chorizo Egg Bake {feeds 8}
Oven 375

Ingredients
1 package of chorizo sausage [I used Aldi brand]
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 150z. can of black beans, rinsed and drained
8 eggs
1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend [or cheddar]
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
In large skillet or medium sauce pan, start cooking chorizo on medium-high. Add chopped onion and green pepper. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until meat is cooked and vegetables are softened. Remove from heat and mix in beans. Pour into a medium casserole dish, 8×8 is good. Crack eggs over top, evenly spaced. Don’t break the yolks if you can help it. Here’s where I ground on some salt and pepper. Bake, uncovered, for about 20-30 minutes [you’re looking for the eggs to set]. Take out and sprinkle cheese over top. Turn oven to BROIL and return casserole to oven. Leave in 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted, browned and bubbly. Serve warm.

We ate this with sour cream, homemade guacamole, and homemade buttermilk bread from yesterday, topped with jelly. Yum. It is rich, comforting, and filling. The eggs came out almost like hard boiled. I was worried the peppers and beans wouldn’t stretch the meat enough, and wished I had some potatoes to chop up in there. But really, it was enough. We are hearty eaters, yet it fed my four boys, myself, and Dante’s girlfriend… I think she ate. I’m not sure. But it fed us all just fine, with some of us having seconds.

Simple Shortbread Recipe (Super Easy)

Memorial Day weekend flew by. Well, not really. I shouldn’t say that. We were out of town with the boys, and it was time nicely spent. Both Dante and Franny had state soccer tournaments for three days straight, one game a day, Saturday through Monday. Dante hasn’t played soccer all season, but stepped in with his old team to help with this tournament. Franny’s been playing with the same team ever since coming back after his leg break. Dante’s age group is all graduating, heading to college; Franny’s is splitting up. Dante most likely won’t have another game with this group, Franny has only a couple left. It was bittersweet. Though both boys would be separating from their respective teams,  instead of yukking it up with their teammates, we ended up spending most of our time together as a family.


Franny, waiting for his game.

Things are shifting, changing. Dante will be going to college next year and his brothers will miss him dearly (as will we). They know this. Darn, I’m going to get teary in a post I’m actually writing about shortbread? What the heck? But, well, it is there. It is touching that the boys, knowing they are rounding off their seasons, chose to spend time with each other over the weekend, together rather than apart. We watched their games together during the day, and caught the Brewer’s baseball series on TV during the evenings at the hotel. Not bad. Relaxing together slowed things down a bit, the weekend not being entirely rushed from field to field and event after event.

I took some pictures, but not a lot. Seems like I’m feast or famine with pictures. I’ve got thousands or I’ve got only a few. As the kids get older, and continue through these life stages, it is nice to have a camera on hand. But it is also nice to sit and savor the moment, too, without the distraction of trying to catch it on film. You can soak up the warmth of the sun on your skin, how good it felt, but you can’t adequately capture it to disk.

—–

Yesterday I spent the majority of my day baking bread and doing laundry (hanging it out to line-dry). Sunny, windy days just scream for me to hang laundry on the line. It was a rhythmic day. Load in, load out, load up, knead and stretch, knead and stretch, rising, shaping, baking, hanging, taking down… cooling off, working up to a sweat, cooling off, working up to a sweat.

I loved it.

Not wanting to figure out a meal, I took out some meatballs from the freezer (they tasted a bit better in the sauce – I’m the critic, though, everyone else liked them), threw them in the crockpot with a couple jars of sauce and called it dinner. We ate almost as soon as the boys got home. After dinner was served, they all headed off to soccer practice. I knew they would be hungry when they got home. For some reason strawberry shortcake kept coming to mind. After taking a load of towels off the lines, I ran to the store to score some heavy cream and strawberries. Instead, I made out with tilapia filets, heavy cream and a loaf of bread (I know I baked bread – don’t ask). Strawberry crates were ridiculously small, moldy and overpriced. I knew I had some frozen blueberries at home and they would do just fine.

I found a shortcake recipe online and based my recipe off of that. I say “based” because there were a few things I just had to tweak, like the entire cup full of butter the recipe calls for. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. But, skeptical at first, this recipe made a believer out of me. It was pretty easy, and everyone loved it. There is no need for Bisquick when you have an easy recipe like this.

Simple One-Bowl Shortcake
[makes 12]

Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 stick butter [1/2 cup – cold]
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 egg, beaten

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, and baking powder. Cut butter into small cubes; add to bowl.
Cut butter into the flour with a pastry blender or two knives. I just went in there with my hands, pinching and squeezing the butter into the flour. Stir in cream and egg. Continue to knead, right there in the bowl. The dough will come together, forming a nice ball [think cookie dough]. Take large egg-sized handfuls, flatten them in your hand and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving 2 inches in between. No need to be pretty – I made mine quite craggy and sloppy– they’re better that way! You should have 12. If some are bigger, snag a bit of a bigger one and slap it on a smaller one. Again – you don’t need to be pretty about it.
Bake in preheated oven 20 minutes, or until golden.
Enjoy!

Sorry, no pictures. We ate these warm in a bowl with berries and fresh whipped cream on top. They were yummy.

Need help with the berries?
While shortcakes are baking, take about 3 cups of frozen blueberries [or other berries – I used frozen blueberries, and mixed berries]; add to saucepan. Sprinkle with 1T sugar [or more if you’re a sweet freak]. Heat on medium-low, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Turn to low to keep warm, giving them a stir with a spoon every now and then. Note: If you like a thicker sauce, you can sprinkle the berries with 1/2 T. flour in the beginning when you add the sugar.

Must Try This Recipe

I have to make this. Must.

Maple Bacon Biscuits

{via Pintrest, photo and recipe from Our Family Food Adventures}

My family is pretty good about trying new things and eating whatever it is I make and I am fortunate to be able to experiment with new recipes, since it is something I truly find joy in. I think they enjoy my experiments, too, which makes it all the better. I do, however, have an over abundance of recipes – something that I’m trying to sift through. I have two binders full, plus a box, plus oodles of books. Nobody needs that many recipes. As I sort through what I’ve collected, I’ve found some old standards, some that I’d like to try, and some that I can toss. It is a substantial task, though, and one that won’t be finished anytime soon (especially since it is a work in progress, ever growing).

The more I surf the internet, though, the more I find versions of something I’ve already clipped. I guess there’s only so many ways to make macaroni and cheese (a recipe that I have at least a dozen versions of). It is inspiring to see new twists on old, updates on standards. My favorite recipes are ones that someone has graciously shared that has been passed down from another generation, or from a friend. Those are true treasures.

Cooking With Grandma

Recently my grandmother passed away. She was a vibrant, loving woman, one I remember fondly for her round shape, but also for her presence in the kitchen. I was always eager to eat dinner at Grandma Wolfe’s because it was always something spectacular. Not necessarily in content, but, even as a kid, I could discern a meal that had been prepared  by someone who loved their kitchen and loved to cook for people. Grandma did. My regret was to have never cooked alongside her as an adult. As a child I would stand in the kitchen and watch her move through her small kitchen, making recipes from far off places with spices I was not yet familiar with. I tasted jicama for the first time at my grandparent’s house. Cut into square fingers with a fresh hit of lime and sprinkling of chile powder – I was hooked. I’m sure I ate more than my fair share, as my grandfather sat cross-legged, chatting with grandma and asking me what I thought of the crunchy root.

My answer was evident in my noshing.

After her memorial service, the family went back to grandma and grandpa’s house (not the one that I remember from childhood, but the one they moved into for their last years of their lives) and reminisced over numerous pots of freshly ground coffee. My cousins, younger than I – some the ages of my own children, drank me under the table, adding cream to their cups, and sugar from grandma’s sugar canister. Their mother, my aunt, remarked that when she left for the long drive home, she was taking grandma’s (her mother’s) pizza pan. They had been using the pan while they stayed in the house, and it was going to a new home. She said she’d fight for it. Her desire for the pan sparked a wanting of my own. I figured it must have been one heck of a pan. I realized, though, that I had only been thinking of myself. That day I learned there were plenty of people who held fond memories of grandma’s kitchen. It was a place of wonder. Who wouldn’t want a part of it?

Conversation continued, twisting and turning down numerous roads of topics, but one tidbit I picked up on was that my uncle had scanned the majority of her recipes and made a PDF of them. In my scatterbrained life I do drop the ball and forget to follow-up with quite a few things. But getting a copy of that PDF I did not, and my uncle faithfully delivered.

Grandma’s service was in January of this year, and grandfather’s was last week. He couldn’t, and didn’t, last long without her.

I love this photo of them. Looking at it, you can see why a long-time separation wouldn’t do.

Clearly my thought was to share a recipe of grandma’s, and I will. I’ve only tried one of them, the one that was most pressing, and it was a smashing failure – not giving justice at all to grandma’s version. I have a feeling, though, that her cooking is similar to many of that generation – a written version is a guideline, the real recipe is written in their own mind. Frank’s grandmother, an Italian/German cook, is fabulous in the kitchen, but I’ve never seen a recipe card anywhere.

The recipe below I remember asking for seconds and thirds while I sat with my brother in front of the television, eating off TV trays, while the adults chatted in the background. As usual, my mother was more than likely horrified at my request for more (and more and more). It’s OK, though, because I have a couple kids that pay me back with that same horror of requesting more than their fair share at events revolving around food.

Greek Egg Lemon Soup
1 Qt. water
4 pkg. chicken broth
1/4 C uncooked rice
4 T. lemon juice
3 eggs (or substitute?)

Boil water. Add broth powder and rice; cook until tender. Beat lemon juice and eggs. Whisk half of brother into mixture. Pour into remaining broth and heat (stirring) until thick. Do not boil.

Easy enough, eh? I don’t know where I messed up. I’ll have to try again.

Multiple Tasks Equal Loose Strings

Keeping house, making home. This is something I thoroughly enjoy and feel is one of my strengths, however, it isn’t something I am able to do full-time. Gone are my days of staying at home full-time raising little ones. The physical need for me to be home is lessened. Still, someone needs to put food on the table, clean clothes, balance a checkbook, shop, tidy the house. As far as I’m concerned that IS a full-time job. I’m in awe of mothers that work full-time outside the home and are still able to keep house in order. I’m working part-time outside of the home, and most of the time trying to keep afloat around the house.

I find that I’m able to pour myself into ONE task and do it well. Multiple tasks leave me in the center of a bunch of loose strings, and unordered, unfinished lists. One at a time I can do it like a pro: coupon, budget, clean, meal-plan. Try doing it all and I fall short. I wish I could create better balance because when one of those things is going well, the rest tend to be lacking. For example, I’m on a couponing bender. I find great deals, stock my shelves, am amazed at my abilities… but my house is a mess, my checkbook is scrambled and I can’t seem to put a meal on the table. Or, like this current run – I’m meal-planning, cooking, stocking my freezer… but my coupons are expiring, I need to balance my checkbook, and my house is a mess.

It’s frustrating. Maybe I need to cycle through and focus on one each week (since there’s about four). The problem is, I can’t clean once a month, or coupon once a month. Or balance the checkbook monthly (although that one might be the easiest to do). I need to find some order. Clearly. I’ll work on that.

In the meantime, I’ve been cooking, cooking and cooking, planning my meals and eating out way less (in the past week or so). That’s went well. I’ll focus on that.

Meatballs. Here’s some meatballs I made for this recipe for Meatball Minestrone Soup. The recipe called for some meatballs from Costco, but those ended up having soy protein in them (husband, allergy thing), so I made my own. I used 4lbs. of meat (3 beef, 2 pork), which gave me enough meatballs for 3 meals, including the soup for tonight. Having started this post prior, and now being in the post-eating stage, I can say a couple things about this meatball recipe:

1.) Do NOT sub the water for white wine, even if it sounds like a good idea at the time.

2.) This meatball recipe is WAY too bready for me. I’m going to have to get Frank’s nona’s recipe (again) instead of trying to do things “my” way. Her meatballs are the BEST.

Moving past the meatballs, the soup was a HIT.

It was super low maintenance with a fresh, tasty ending. I would serve this up for company, no doubt – it would be an easy make-ahead. I made this on a night that Frank was working overtime (he worked 4 last week). So glad I did. I grabbed frozen loaf of french bread from Costco (I freeze them and them zap them warm and crusty in the oven after defrosting – saves me many trips to the store for a loaf of crusty bread), served up the soup for the boys, and everyone ate.

So, yeah. Last week was a score as far as meal-planning went. On a busy Saturday spent 2 hours away for a soccer tournament, a lasagne made on one of my cooking sprees (I can’t find the dang recipe, either) came in handy. I took it out the night before, had the kids pop it in the oven as I was leaving the field, and they had a home-cooked meal while I went to book club. It was perfect. We didn’t eat out ONCE this entire week. Not even on pizza night Friday. It was a lot of work, but surely it saved time and money. There’s no way I could keep up with this every week though, which would be why it goes in  spurts for me.

“E” for Effort, though.

Fish Tacos and Yellow Mexi-Rice

I’ve been doing some meal-planning, freezing food and trying to use up some of the items in my pantry. It can be exhausting. Monday my legs were aching after shopping for my menu-plan, then making 4 lasagnes (two veggie, two meat – with homemade marinara), three taco pies and dinner on top of that (I don’t even remember what we had – oh yeah – grilled chicken and garlic mashed potatoes).  The kids came home to the wonderful smells and were disappointed that we weren’t actually eating any of the food that night. After whipping up the meals, I showered, went to the honors ceremony for Dante, and then came home to straighten my hair. By the end of the day I was SO ready to get in bed and read a book, but all I did was play a game on my iPod, zone out to trashy television, and fall to sleep.

Yesterday we were going to have soup, but in the midst of all my planning, I overlooked that the fact that I needed to have started my dinner much earlier than one hour prior. You don’t know how badly I wanted to order out pizzas. So very bad. Instead I grabbed a box of frozen fish and made fish tacos. It wasn’t a huge box, and I happened to also have 4 chicken breasts leftover from my Monday madness cooking festival, so I used that as well. I also had a bag of coleslaw. Perfect! I managed to fit time in for a walk, and then I dug into dinner.

The coleslaw I made to go along with the tacos was very good, I have to add. I made it almost exactly to the “T” but naturally had to adapt with what I had and what sounded good to me. Note: These horrid pictures are brought to you by the letters i-P-o-d.

Fish Taco Slaw (based of this Taco Slaw recipe)

Ingredients
1 14oz. bag of raw cabbage slaw (mine had shredded carrot mixed in – this one)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 red onion, minced
7 baby carrots, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1.5 limes, juiced
2 tsp. sugar
salt and pepper (to taste)

Directions
Place everything in a large bowl except for the lime, sugar, salt and pepper. Mix. Squeeze lime over mixture, add sugar, salt, and pepper. Mix again. Let it sit in your fridge for about 20 minutes before eating.

As a side, I made some Mexi-rice. It’s super easy and tastes yummy. Warm tortilla topped with half a fish filet and some slaw (I had sour cream on one, too) – add the rice, and yum.

Yellow Mexi-Rice
2 cups long grain white rice
4 cups chicken broth (broth and bullion works well here)
1/2 – 1tsp garlic (depending on your like for garlic – I used about 1tsp.)
1/4 tsp. turmeric
about 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Directions
Heat broth to a boil; add garlic, turmeric and cilantro. Add rice and stir. Cover, and cook for 15 min. or until liquid is absorbed (see package for directions). After it is done, turn off the heat and let it sit for 5-10 minutes (I usually remove the lid for 5 seconds to let some steam go first). Remove lid and fluff. Eat!

 

Pair this with a gin and tonic and you’ve got a delicious summertime dinner. Might not want to give the kids a G&T though. We ate our tacos, and watched the Brewers play baseball. Perfecto.