Monday, April 7, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - Week of April 6th

Busy, busy weekend!

My book-loving girl snuck off and settled herself with a book while at a play date on Friday.  Love it!

I had Zumba on Saturday morning (where I was greeted by a new instructor, effectively knocking me from my mini-pedestal of hard-won mediocrity), then hit up a consignment sale afterwards where I scored some great clothes for Miss Molly to wear for spring and summer.  I only got 2 shirts for Jack and a book, but seeing how hard he is on his clothes doesn't leave the reason there aren't a lot of used clothing available in his size much of a mystery!  Then it was home to shower, fight with my printer gather needed items, and I was off to a prenatal meeting with a new client!

Sunday, my sister came over and we looked at wedding invites while the kids played and Mark did the grocery shopping.  Then I had a postpartum visit with a client where I got to enjoy teeny baby snuggles, popped into the library to pick up a book so that I don't forget to read this month's book club selection and was back home for the rest of the day.

I am loving the warmer weather and although it's kind of chilly and very rainy today we were able to open the windows to fresh air this weekend and Jack was about to get outside to play for a bit so I'm happy!

Mark does such a great job of caring for the kids while I'm not around.

My being gone all Saturday morning meant that daddy did Molly's hair.  He's working on perfecting a pony tail.  Getting there!

This week is likely to be just as busy as I have a couple of social events, I'm on-call for a birth, and I have doula work in addition to hosting a bridal shower for my sister next weekend.  The shower that I haven't yet done much to prepare for.  Eeep.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday:  Grilled Burgers with Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Monday:  Creamy Lemon Chicken and Asparagus with Bacon with Roasted Potatoes

Tuesday:  Homemade Pizza

Wednesday:  Freezer Meal

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday:  Out

Saturday:  Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Friday, April 4, 2014

Tried & True Recipe: Sweet Potato Nachos

I love sweet potatoes and my favorite ways to eat them always involve spicing them up a bit!  Sweet potatoes are especially tasty combined with Mexican-style spices or other flavors like BBQ or chili for a sweet-savory combo.  A quick meal I love are baked sweet potatoes topped with BBQ meat or chili that I pull from the freezer.  Quick, healthy, and filling!  Another regular favorite of ours are these Baked Sweet Potato Fries that are seasoned up with Mexican-style spices.

When I saw these Sweet Potato Nachos I thought - genius!  I can't believe I've never thought of this before!  These came together with just a few minutes of work, everyone was able to top their portion how they wanted, and it was a hit with the whole family!  This will definitely be a quick go-to meal for us that will surely be making a regular appearance on our menu!

Sweet Potato 'Nachos'
Inspired by Peas & Crayons

3-4 Sweet Potatoes (depending on size and need.  I used 3 1/2 sweet potatoes and that filled a large baking sheet yielding enough for dinner + some leftovers for lunch the next day), peeled and sliced into rounds ~1/4" thick
Taco Seasoning (I just used the taco seasoning I always keep on hand, but you could certainly just sprinkle some chili powder, cumin, garlic and onion powders, salt and pepper, and maybe just a little pinch of cayenne for a kick!)
Oil (I would recommend coconut or extra virgin olive oil), for spraying or drizzling

Preheat oven to 400-degrees.  Drizzle/spray a large baking sheet with oil to prevent sticking.  Arrange potato rounds in single-ish layer (it's okay if they overlap a little, but try to get a single layer as much as possible) and drizzle/spray rounds with oil.  Sprinkle seasoning to taste.  Bake 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Top with warm toppings (I added cheese and beans here) and pop back into the oven for a few minutes to allow toppings to heat and melt.  Remove from oven and serve with your favorite toppings!

Nacho toppings: we topped ours with cheese and black beans, and to my portion I added lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, pickled jalapeno slices, sour cream, and guacamole.  Another great topping would be some taco-seasoned meat, but feel free to add whatever you like to eat with your nachos!  These would also be awesome as chili cheese nachos, or BBQ nachos.

I love nachos!  Keep in mind these are definitely roasted sweet potatoes.  They're not going to be crispy like a tortilla chip, but the seasoned sweet potatoes make such a delicious and nutritious base for all your favorite toppings!

Give it a try!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - Week of March 30th

Yes, I realize the week is half over, but we're going to roll with it.

Our one-year-old computer was in the shop getting fixed and I just got it back.  I'm sure you can imagine just how happy I am about the computer needing fixing, but we're not going to talk about it. I'm just happy to have it back.

Another busy weekend!  I had prenatal meetings Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of this weekend.  We also fit in a Zumba class (for me), fantasy baseball draft (for Mark), and grocery shopping and other miscellaneous household things.

Molly is waving at a flamboyant flamingo who was putting on quite a show for us.  She thought it was great and kept waving hi and talking to it!

Monday, the weather was finally nice enough for a trip to the zoo!  Jack has been begging to go for weeks now and was pretty disappointed that the weather wasn't appropriate for a trip last week when he was on spring break (although, he did get to enjoy some fun times indoors during spring break!) so he was pretty psyched about our visit.

The nice weather continued into Tuesday and I was able to line-dry diapers for the first time this year and snuck in 20 minutes of reading time in the sun while Jack was at school and Molly was napping.  Jack was very excited as he got to play outside on the playground at school and again when we went to the gym afterwards.  Plenty of fresh air and sunshine for all!

And now it's rainy, but it's not freezing cold, nor is it supposed to be for the foreseeable future so I'll take it!

We're already on freezer meal night and I'm once again so very pleased to have a delicious dinner ready to go with no more effort than popping a previously made meal into the oven!  Freezer cooking, you've gotta give it a try!

Sunday:  Late dinner - apps

Monday:  Chipotle Bean Burritos

Tuesday:  Grilled Burgers with Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Wednesday:  Freezer Meal

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday:  Out

Saturday:  Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Monday, March 24, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - Week of March 23rd

Woo!  We've been busy lately!

I did, in fact, attend my first birth as a doula last week!  I really enjoyed working with this family.  I learned a lot, gained experience, and probably even more importantly I gained a lot of much needed confidence in myself.  I was nervous as I headed to the birth, but once there I was encouraged by just how naturally everything came to me.  Definitely feeling great about pursuing doula work and I'm very much looking forward to working with my next family.

Speaking of which, I had a prenatal meeting with my new client on Sunday morning and an interview on Sunday afternoon.  I have another interview and another meeting later this week.  Busy, but loving every minute of it!  I hope things keep rolling.

We have been so busy that I forgot to read the book this month for my book club!  Ridiculous.  I've never not read the book let alone completely forgotten about it.  I think I took two months off when I had Molly and went right on back to meetings because it's something I really enjoy.  This month it just really snuck up on me.  Obviously I'm in complete denial that the month is nearly over.  Where did March go?!  Luckily my friends like me enough that I can still join in for coffee and hopefully they won't make fun of me too much for dropping the ball this month.  Super fail.

Jack is on spring break this week and even though temperatures aren't going to be very springy (temps in the 30s for most of the week.  I'm hoping that late in the week it might warm up enough to do something outdoors.  It's spring break for cryin' out loud!) we're going to try to fit in some fun things while we have the whole week open!

Despite Mark's dismay the cold temps mean that soup is still perfectly acceptable even though it's spring and we're typically moving into grilling mode about now.  I was happy to make a big pot of Sausage and Lentil soup for dinner last night.  The recipe makes a ton and it freezes beautifully!  I like to freeze the leftovers in individual portions and then re-heat for later meals.  Easy and delish!

Here's what we're eating:

Sunday:  Sausage and Lentil Soup with Bread

Monday:  Baked Chicken Chimichangas with (Not) Refried Beans and Mexican Rice

Tuesday:  Ruben Sandwiches with Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Wednesday:  Freezer Meal

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday:  Out

Saturday:  Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Tried & True Recipe: Turkey (or Chicken) Pot Pie

Not as appetizing before it bakes as it is when it's all nice and golden brown, but it's something!

Every year around Thanksgiving I like to roast a turkey just for our little family.  Mark loves turkey (and leftover turkey sandwiches). Molly seems to be following in his footsteps as meat (turkey included) seems to top her lists of favorite foods at the moment.  I like it okay, but what I like most about it is that around Thanksgiving time stores are practically giving them away and for about the same amount of effort that it takes to roast a chicken I get so much meat for my time and money!  One turkey will yield multiple meals and leftovers and plenty of good for you, tasty stock.

One of the meals I love to make with the cooked turkey is Turkey Pot Pie.  This recipe is SO. GOOD.  It's easy to double and it's freezer friendly!  Basically, I love it.  I'll be honest, it does take a bit of work to make the filling, sauce, and crust, but it's well worth the effort (especially if you double it!)!  I'm so thankful I put in the time and effort previously when I pull a pot pie out of the freezer and pop it right into the oven and we can enjoy an awesome home cooked meal with barely any work!

We recently had one of these tasty pot pies from the freezer and it reminded me that I need to share the recipe while we're still in comfort food mode.  I don't know about you, but it's still plenty chilly in my area and pot pie makes a great cold weather meal!

This recipe works just as well with chicken, just use what you have/prefer.

Turkey (or Chicken) Pot Pie
Adapted from Annie's Eats originally from The Pastry Queen

yields 2 family size (9 inch) pies or 6-8 individual size pies

For Filling:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 large Russet potato, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 cups chopped/shredded turkey (or chicken, can also use the meat from a rotisserie chicken)
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste

For Sauce:

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups turkey stock (or chicken stock)
1/2 cup heavy cream
dash of hot sauce
salt and pepper, to taste

For crust*:

16 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces
3 cups all-purpose flour
10 ounces cream cheese, cut into large cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 large egg (for egg wash)

To prepare filling:

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, carrots, and potatoes to pan and saute, stirring occasionally, until veggies start to soften (~10-15 minutes.  Note: as pies will be cooked in the oven be sure not to overcook veggies at this stage you just want them to start softening up.  This is especially important if you're going to be freezing the pies!).  Add garlic and cook until fragrant.  Turn off heat.  Stir in turkey, peas, crushed red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper, to taste.  Set aside.

To prepare sauce:

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in flour until smooth.  Cook flour for a minute or two.  Whisk in broth until smooth and cook, stirring frequently, until it reaches the consistency of "cream of" soup (nice and thick!).  Stir in cream, hot sauce, and salt and pepper, to taste.

Combine sauce with filling mixture and spoon into pans.  I like to use disposable 9" pie pans.  You can use real pie plates, individual sized disposable pie plates, ramekins, etc.

To prepare crust:

To bowl of a food processor fitted with metal blade, pulse butter and flour until crumbly.  Add cream cheese, salt, and pepper.  Continue pulsing just until dough begins to form.  Turn dough out onto a floured surface and roll out to 1/4-inch thickness.  Lay dough on top of filled dishes.

In a small dish beat the egg with a little water.  Using a pastry brush, brush egg wash over crusts.

Freeze at this point or bake on a cookie sheet as instructed below.

To bake: 

     From fresh:  40-45 minutes at 375-degrees

     From refrigerator (frozen and then thawed): 50-55 minutes at 350-degrees

     From frozen:  Remove from freezer 30 minutes prior to baking and allow to sit at room temperature.  In the meantime, pre-heat oven to 425-degrees.  Cover pie loosely with foil and bake for 30 mins.  Reduce heat to 350-degrees.  Remove foil and continue baking for an additional 55-60 mins, or until crust is golden brown and pie is bubbly and heated through.  Sometimes I cover loosely with foil again towards the end if the crust is getting too brown.  Just keep an eye on it!

Decrease times slightly  if you're cooking individual sized pies.  Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.

*A note about doubling the crust.  When I double this recipe I use 2x the ingredients for everything except the crust.  I've found I only need to increase the crust by 50% and I have plenty.  If you're making 12-16 individual pies you may end up needing 2x the crust, I'm not sure.  When doubling I also make the crust in two batches so as not to overload my food processor.  


Monday, March 17, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - Week of March 16th

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

And no, I'm not wearing green.  La-hame.

Spring is commmiiiinnnggg!!!!  This week!  Woohoo!

Okay, now that we've got that out of the way.  Ahem.

We had a nice little weekend with lots of free time!  Saturday I had two doula meetings and that's about all she wrote for weekend engagements.  The weather was nice enough on Saturday that we were able to get outside for some play time and fresh air (yay!).  Sunday, it was cold and icky and I decided to protest by holing up in the house wearing a sweatshirt and cooking a big pot of gumbo.  Because it's just not right for the high to drop like 30-degrees within 24 hours.

But spring is coming.  (Can you tell this is my mantra right now?)

Also, I read Labor Day.  I went into it knowing the book had mixed reviews and although I enjoyed it I totally get why it's divisive.

Annnd now it's Monday.  We played with friends this morning and I've already got a couple of things checked off my list so this week is off to a pretty good start if I do say so myself.  Hopefully helping to welcome a baby some time this week!

Here's what we're eating:

Sunday:  Chicken and Sausage Gumbo over Rice

Monday:  Ruben Sandwiches with Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Tuesday:  Mexican Quinoa

Wednesday:  Freezer Meal

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday:  Out

Saturday:  Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - Week of March 9th

We've been enjoying some much-needed lovely weather around here!  Between the time change, some sunshine, and warmer temps I'm feeling like a whole new person.  Spring is coming, y'all!

Fun at the park with cousins!  Because when it's 45-degrees at the end of winter in Ohio it feels glorious!

Friday, we welcomed the sun and warmer temps with a trip to the park with my sister and her kids.  First park play of the year and Molly's first time playing at the park ever!  Last time we were there she was too little to do anything but ride along in a carrier or sit on a blanket.  Not this year!  After lunch we headed back to our house for some lunch and a little more play time with cousins.

Saturday I hit an early morning Zumba class.  Urgh... The 'urgh' is for the early morning nonsense.  It actually went a little better than last time and although I'm still ridiculous it wasn't quite as embarrassing as the first time.  Progress!

While Jack is away Molly revels in playing unimpeded with his toys.

Later that day Mark and Jack headed to the park for some more play time.  While Molly napped I stuffed some diapers and snuck in a little quiet reading time before the boys came home.

Sunday we were up at Mark's brother's house for our nieces' birthday party.  Fun was had by all.

Sad baby peeking out of a very convincing double-hammock while I folded laundry.

Molly missed her nap and while she was fine for the party she was a mess later that evening.  It's always an issue after the fact :/  Luckily she slept okay that night so it wasn't too bad.

Monday it was so nice out that we had the windows open to welcome some fresh air and we grilled out for the first time this year.  Woohoo!

More nice weather forcasted for today, but then it's back to snow and cold temps.  Boo!  BUT I hear birds, my daffodils are coming up, I've gotten some sun, and it's light out later so I have hope!

Sunday:  Late dinner - nachos

Monday:  61-degrees and sunny!  Hooray!  Burgers on Homemade Buns with Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Tuesday:  Mom's night out with friends for me; Homemade Pizza for the fam

Wednesday:  Freezer Meal with Salad

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday:  Out

Saturday:  Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by