Thursday, February 27, 2014

Last week's eats

Last week we had a holiday on Monday and a couple of the meals I made had copious leftovers, so it was a pretty easy week as far as cooking was concerned.

Here's the run-down.

Meatballs subs

Meatball subs don't really require a recipe and they are the ultimate comfort food.  I buy the frozen italian meatballs at Trader Joes, the French rolls at TJ's, sliced provolone and then I either buy make my own marinara sauce.  This last time I made my own, but my favorite easy-fix is Newman's Own Sockerooni - that stuff is amazing.

Indian Red Lentils over basamati rice

Talk about quick and delicious ways to eat healthy.  This was fast, cheap, and filling (sounds like I'm describing a high-quality hooker...but I digress).

My only caution would be to cut the recipe in half unless you're feeding a family of ten.  We were eating left-overs for days.

Asian Turkey Burgers
Steamed broccoli

I've been making this recipe for years, but it's adapted from this one.  I basically use whatever I have on hand - usually onions, water chestnuts, soy sauce and spicy red pepper paste.

The problem with turkey burgers is that they often turn out quite dry.  That's what makes this recipe so great.  They come out moist and flavorful every time.  I usually top with provolone and spicy deli mustard on a wheat bun.  Yum!

Amish cinnamon bread

I always get the baking bug on Sunday afternoons, but I'm also usually wiped out on Sunday afternoons.  Enter the easiest baking projects known to man.  This one took approximately five minutes of prep time and made the house smell wonderful while it cooked.  I liked it so much that I made another loaf for a friend earlier this week.

Disclaimer: this is more like cake and less like bread...but if it helps you feel better about eating an extra slice, let's just continue to call it bread.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ode to Meg

An ode to Meg on this, the illustrious day of her birth.

(Note: Because it's been ages since I studied poetry, I can pretty much guarantee that this resembles nothing even close to an ode.  Be forewarned.)

Way back in the awkward days of my youth
I wandered, lonely, the halls of an ugly brick school

There were populars, druggies, goodie-goodies and tools
Then there was the orchestra where the best kids hung, that's the truth

And on those first few days of nervous banter
I met a girl with blond hair and infinite skill

Both witty and musical - oh such a thrill
So I shyly struck up a conversation and figured "can't hurt"

In an instant I knew that this girl was the best
She had style, pizzazz, and put up with my quirks

She ran distance, played violin, and aced all of her tests
With a friend like her we kept ourselves from the jerks

At 16 she was given a great surprise
An old Camry, named Gary, and from her parents several instructions

To never turn left off of a main road - or die
But with right turns we managed to drive all over without any obstruction

Through high school and college we survived on diet coke and runs to 7-11
And named stop signs after the times we had accentually run through

Miss Meg's been a life-saver since my ninth grade youth
So, Happy Birthday dear Meg, hope you get a little slice of Heaven!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Il faut qu'elle fasse pee pee

I dearly wish this story were mine, but I've got to give credit where credit is due: it's Blake's story.  But it was too funny not to share.

Blake's been fighting a sinus infection off and on for the past couple weeks, so I've been picking him up at the metro in the evenings when it's particularly cold.  The other day he got in the car with mixture of glee and disgust on his face and a fabulous story to tell.

The metro was packed and he was holding onto the center pole.  A woman who looked down-on-her luck (or, mostly just drunk) and two of her friends squeezed themselves into the car and held onto the same middle pole.

After a few minutes the lady poked Blake in the side and asked "Can I pee here?"

Blake didn't want to engage...or even ask what she he started sidling over to the other side of the car.

As he was backing away, but still watching the woman, she dropped trou and started peeing.


She piddled a huge puddle.  Folks sitting around her were taking pictures and videos to report it.  And Blake could hear the puddle piddling from across the car.

Then.  Get this.  The woman and her friends stayed on for THREE MORE STOPS before getting off. That is 10 minutes standing in a puddle of pee.  On the metro.  In the middle of a crowd.

That's what I call city living at its finest, folks.

Friday, February 21, 2014

A smile for your Friday

I like to think that Bear is physically and mentally incapable of being unhappy.  Every morning (regardless of the day) he greets us at 6:45 am with a whine and pops his furry face up on the side of the bed to make sure we're awake and ready to play.  There are only two options in life, you know: sleep or play.

When we get out of bed he promptly rolls over for some tummy rubs.  Then he waits to be carried downstairs (the diva is still afraid of the stairs because they are quite steep and slippery) to answer the call of nature.  

He comes inside for breakfast and runs around tossing his favorite toy to himself, stopping only to bark at the blender (his #2 nemesis after the vacuum).  Then there's the walk to the metro, followed by a jog or a long walk and playtime at the park with his friends.  And all of this before 8:30!

It's no wonder he's always smiling.  Life is pretty good when you're Bear.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


All this snow has been a huge pain to deal with.  We dig our car out, then the plows come by and we have to dig out again from an even bigger pile.  We shovel the walks, then it snows and ices over the next day.  We go out and shake off the tree branches again and again and again.  We dry Bear off every time he comes in the house from his adventures.

But there are two good things about all this snow.  1.  Snow days (I wish we got more of them), and 2. The way our house looks in the snow.  I can't get enough of the bright red with the stark white.

When we first bought the house we contemplated painting it a more subdued color like grey or wedge wood blue, but we quickly grew to love the fire-engine red color and are so glad we kept it.  Grey?  What were we thinking.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

And one more about Valentine's Day

Just another quick note about Valentine's Day.

We were planning to go out to eat at a fancy French restaurant, but we were snowed in and sniffling like crazy, so we did the ultimate romantic thing and ordered a pizza. It was grand.

And, not to leave it at a simple unhealthy dinner, we added a very unhealthy dessert.  It turned out great, though, so I had to share.

I made dark chocolate caramel fondue from the recipe found here and it was amazing.  The best part?  It only took about 10 minutes (including the time it took to unwrap all those caramels and wash the fruit).  There's no question I'd make it again.  I think it would be wonderful as a fudge sauce for ice cream, too.  Honestly, I'd eat it with a spoon if given the chance.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

You little bounder

On Wednesday night and Thursday during the day we got the biggest snow storm we've had since Snowmageddon back in 2010.

I don't know what it is about snow days, but every day we're snowed in I feel compelled to eat about 20,000 calories per day.  On Thursday I ate a whole family-sized bag of white cheddar popcorn.  By myself.  And on Friday I ate half a bowl of dark chocolate caramel fondue.  Oh.  My aching stomach. My wounded pride.

We woke up Thursday morning to 15 inches of sparkling powder.  Bear was in heaven - even if it took him a few minutes to get the hang of bouncing around in it.  A few more inches and he would have had to tunnel his way around the yard.

Snow days are simultaneously better and worse with a dog.  It's so much fun to run around with him and watch him enjoy it, but when we have to bring him in he's a total disaster.  The snow sticks to him in big clumps all over his chest and legs.  We have to put him directly into a warm bath to thaw him out.  If we don't, he takes about two hours to completely thaw and dry.  It's quite the process to go through every time he wants to go outside to play, but it's hard to say no when he's just so joyful about it.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Will you be my Valentine?

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Bear was insistent that he be able to send out Valentines to his cousins and some of his friends.  (By insistent, I mean doing very photograph-able poses every day this week.)

My graphic design "skills" leave something to be desired, but I wasn't about to spend a lot of time or tear my hair out over a silly dog's valentines.  So, thanks to good old Studio and Word, and a puppy paw stamp, we printed these and sent them out in no time flat.

The little guy follows me from room to room wherever I go, and always picks the most comfortable seating option.  He came in to supervise the production of his cards, but all that hard work posing for pictures was too tiring!  Nap time for the muppet bear.

Monday, February 10, 2014

More meal success stories

More successful new recipe attempts from a couple weeks ago:

Baked black bean taquitos

*Verdict: Blake declared this to rank in his top five favorite meals.  They were delicious, healthy and easy.

Greek tortellini salad

*Verdict:  Great!  I'm going to add this to my summertime rotation.

Chicken risotto

*Verdict:  Very good, but probably not worth the effort (stirring for an hour?! no thanks!).  I think you could achieve the same flavors just by having the veggies and chicken over rice.  But maybe I'm just lazy?

Chicken taco salads
(I used the chicken recipe found here and made enough that we could have leftovers for several days)

*Verdict:  One of my old favorites.  Can't go wrong with fresh veggies, pulled Mexican chicken and cilantro lime rice.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Meal planning

I've had a goal in the past few months to try at least one new recipe every week for dinner.  My ideas were piling up on Pinterest, and I wasn't making any progress, so I decided to jump in headfirst.

To help further this effort and to cut the amount of food we throw away, I've been trying hard to meal plan every Monday for the rest of the week.  I generally plan meals for Monday - Thursday.  We usually eat with family or have a date night Friday or Saturday, and then we graze and eat leftovers on Sundays.

Not all of the recipes I've tried have been a success, but last week I tried three new recipes and loved all of them.  I thought I'd start recording my meal plans here so I can keep track of what I've made that I've liked or disliked.  Also, then I can refer back to it in a pinch when I'm too lazy to meal plan in the future.

I bought a rotisserie chicken at Costco last Monday and made it last for three meals (hence the plethora of chicken-centered meals last week).  By the fourth meal I was - understandably- over chicken and went veggie.

Rotisserie chicken
Steamed broccoli
Oven roasted garlic and bacon mashed potatoes  (I used turkey bacon because we prefer it)

*Verdict:  The roasted potatoes were incredible. I think I could eat them every week.

Chicken enchiladas (no recipe here, just an old standby)
Rice and bean with diced tomatoes and peppers

*Verdict: Nothing too adventurous, but always a crowd pleaser.  I did find that I like the Giant brand enchilada sauce more than any other I've tried.

Chicken Yakisoba

*Verdict: Good, but not my favorite thing I've ever made.  It did have a ton of veggies in it, so that was a plus.

Indian Spiced Chickpea and Fire Roasted Tomato soup  (I didn't like the texture, so I blended this and it was divine)

*Verdict: I think I'm adding this to the "go-to" recipe list.  It was easy, cheap, and delicious.

Sunday (baking)
Swig sugar cookies

*Verdict:  YUM. Just about the easiest sugar cookie you could make because it doesn't need to be rolled out and cut.