Monday, January 31, 2011

Menu Monday

Since imitation is the best form of flattery, and also since I was too lazy busy last week to post my menu for the week, I'm going to change things up a bit and start posting my previous week's menu. That way if plans change and I don't make half the things on the list, I don't have to go into a boring explanation about it like I did a couple weeks ago. Plus I can just do the hits and misses along with the menu. Whew! Easier for me and you, don't you think?

Now that our 1985 kitchen floor is gone and it matches the rest of the room (pics coming soon, once we finish painting the walls!), I'm digging being in the kitchen even more than I did before. Love it. Want to know what else I love? My new Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast cookbook that my bff Christie has been raving about. Know what else I love? Amazon Prime. I have no idea how I didn't know about this. You sign up for it and you get free two day shipping on pretty much everything (including this cookbook). Why didn't somebody tell me about this sooner? I've wasted way too much money on shipping and waiting for packages to come....

Anyways, on to last week's menu....

Monday: leftover Roasted Beef Tenderloin from our dinner party on Saturday night. Oh. My. Goodness. I can't even begin to explain how unbelievably phenomenal this is. I've made my fair share of Pioneer Recipes, but this one tops them all, for sure. It's from her Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook, and the recipe above was the only one I was able to find online. As she says in her cookbook, beef tenderloin is expensive, so it's not something you'd really make on a regular weeknight, but if you're going to have company over for dinner I highly recommend fixing this. Can't stop thinking about it!!

Tuesday: (from Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast) Asiago-crusted pork chops and broccoli with sour cream sauce. Instead of cooking the pork chops in the skillet I baked them, and I've got to say that they weren't awesome. They were good, but I think they would have been better if I'd done a better job at pounding them a little thinner and cooking them in a skillet. Ben and the kids loved them, though, so I'll make them again and next time follow the directions. The broccoli, however, was awesome---I used fresh broccoli instead of refrigerated (never seen that, anyway--I assume they meant frozen?), and the sauce was delish. Will make that again for sure.

Wednesday: leftover pork chops. Not so good when left over. Soggy. Yuck.

Thursday: (from Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast) Portobello and Black Bean Quesadillas . I have to say, this wasn't love at first bite, but it was love at second bite. And third bite. And fourth bite. And so on. Be sure to dip them in some salsa (it only adds a few more calories, but a lot more flavor) if you make these. I didn't use any cilantro (it was optional, anyways) and I used more green onions than the recipe called for. Will make again!!

Friday: James Island Hamburgers (for the adults) and hot dogs (for the kiddos). We also had some assorted sides that go along with burgers and dogs but nothing exciting enough worth mentioning. We had friends in town for the weekend and invited some other friends over for dinner, so with a total of 8 children ages 9 months to 6 years running around I pulled out my go-to super-EASY and awesome hamburger recipe that I think came from my Grandmama (Mom, if you're reading this, correct me if I'm wrong!). I don't have exact measurements because I just throw everything in a bowl, so I'm going to try to guess what the measurements are as I type this out....forgive me if it's not perfect and your burgers are a little crumbly, but I swear these are the best hamburgers and they're the only ones we ever make....

1 lb ground beef
2 heaping tbsp sour cream
2 (or more) tbsp dried parsley flakes
1-2 tbsp dried onion flakes
a biiiiig squirt of dijon mustard (maybe 1 or 1.5 tbsp?)
several shakes of Worcestershire sauce

Mix it all up with your hands. This part is the hardest because your arms get really cold---I usually give Ben a beer and talk him into doing it. Shape meat into patties, stick into fridge for a little while while you talk to your friends and the grill heats up. Grill for however long you like to grill your burgers. Toast your buns. Put cheese on burgers if you so desire. Put on buns and add mayo (if you're me). Add whatever else you like. Eat. YUM.

Saturday: we ordered pizza. Boring! I don't like pizza so I ordered a sub. All five kiddos were in bed by 7, asleep by 7:15. Magic pizza? :)

Sunday: leftovers from the weekend

Monday, January 17, 2011

Menu Monday

I'm taking the week off from my menus this week because our kitchen floor is currently under construction and I won't be doing any cooking until it's finished, and I'm not exactly sure when that will be. We're having a dinner party with 18 people over here on Saturday and I've been promised by the tile guy that it will be finished by then, so cross your fingers that he's right! I'll post the menu for Saturday night's party (mostly Pioneer Woman recipes) later this week, along with a new recipe that I made last night.

As for last week's hits and misses, I pretty much had a crazy week and strayed from most of what I had planned for the week. I did make the French Dip sandwiches, and they were amazing. I wouldn't change a thing. The Baked Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries tasted really good, but I think I put too many on the cookie sheets. I made three potatoes instead of one like the recipe called for, and I used two cookie sheets and they ended up sticking together and got all soggy and fell apart when I tried to flip them, so they were really ugly but that didn't stop us from gobbling them up.

I never got to make the chicken on Tuesday because I went to Charleston to see a friend and her new baby (precious little Ila Gray---isn't that the sweetest name?? She's even more beautiful than her name!) so I'll make it later this week if the kitchen gets finished in time. The soup was good, but I was distracted because it was EC's first day of dance so I forgot to put in the mushrooms so it wasn't the best. Went out for pizza on Friday and we were out of town on Saturday and last night (although I did make a really good Paula Deen recipe--I'll post it tomorrow when I'm not about to fall asleep), so pretty much my planning went out the window last week. Some weeks end up being like that!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tiny dancer

This car-truck-train-dinosaur-dirt-worm-bug-lizard-frog-loving little girl started taking dance lessons yesterday. And guess what? She LOVED it! She actually cried this morning when I told her she has to wait until next week to go back to "pink lessons", as she called it (not really sure where that came from).

It took three and a half years, but I do believe she may actually like being a girl! :) Don't get me wrong, she ran around the house pretending she was Batman all last evening, but then this morning she brought her monogrammed pocketbook into the car with her and told me that she needed "real makeup" to put in it. When I peeked inside, I found a pink comb, a pink wallet, a pink hair bow, a pink cell phone, and a necklace. The last time she carried a pocketbook it was filled with Lightning McQueen and friends. I'm starting to think that the princess movies she got for Christmas may have actually turned her into a girly girl---and I'm wondering if I should have introduced her to princess movies before now?

Either way, I'm loving it! Also loving how her underwear hangs out of her leotard... :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Menu Monday

Monday: French Dip Sandwiches with Baked Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries served with Skinny Ranch Dip. The roast is in the crock pot right now and it smells great. It's a cold, rainy day and we are looking forward to this yummy comfort food tonight!

Wednesday: Chicken and Rice Soup. It's my mom's recipe that I've tweaked to my liking and is one of our favorites, especially in the wintertime. It makes a ton so when I make it I either invite another family over for dinner or find somebody to take dinner to that night, otherwise we eat it for the next five nights. Here's the recipe:

1 whole chicken
1 or 2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cups chopped carrots
1 package white or baby bella mushrooms (depends on what I'm in the mood for that week--I think white mushrooms have a little more flavor)
8 oz Velveeta with 2% milk (this makes it seem a little healthier, even though this part totally ruins it calorie-wise, but gives it all the flavor)
1 cup long grain white rice

Boil 6 cups of water, add a little salt. Add chicken and cook for 1 hour. Take chicken out and set aside to cool. After chicken is cooled, take off bone and chop or shred into smaller pieces. Strain broth and add a few more cups of water (it depends on how much has evaporated during cooking---I usually just put the pot under the faucet and fill it back up so it's more than half full of broth/water. Add celery and carrots and boil 10-15 min. Add mushrooms, rice, and chicken, and cook on med to med high, stirring occasionally (otherwise it will burn to the bottom) until rice is done. Chop Velveeta into chunks and put into soup and stir until completely melted. Be sure not to cook too long or your rice will turn into mush. :) Invite friends over or divide into lots of containers and take to your friends' houses---they will love you, you will have plenty to eat at your own house for a couple of days, and everybody will be happy.

Thursday: leftover soup from Wednesday

Friday: Goat Cheese and Arugula over Penne-- I'm not a pasta fan but I do try to make it a few times a month for Ben because he loves it. I like goat cheese and arugula though, so this recipe looks like it'll be good. We shall see...

Saturday: going out...will have a fun post about this day next week! :)

Sunday: Pork Tenderloin with Pomegranate Sauce--trying this out for a going away party we're having for some friends next weekend. If it's a success, it will be served then. If not, I'll be experimenting with some more recipes next week!


Hits and misses from last week's menu:

Since I posted in the middle of the week, I already reviewed a few of the recipes....but I'd have to say the hits were the Chicken and White Bean Enchiladas with Creamy Salsa Verde and the Grilled Chicken Thighs with White Barbecue Sauce. It was my first time making the enchiladas, and they were AMAZING---they really didn't taste low cal at all. The only thing I changed was that I only used one 4.5 oz can of green chiles and I split it between the filling and the sauce instead of using a 4.5 oz can in the filling and a 7 oz can in the sauce and I used a tiny bit less jalapenos than it called for (I'm not a big fan of spicy foods) . SO, SO, SO good and I'll most definitely make again. The chicken thighs were really good, but they're a repeat favorite so I knew they'd make the hit list for the week.

The Pork Chops with Mushrooms and Shallots weren't really a miss, but they do need some tweaking. I'd definitely add a dry white wine to give it more flavor, and maybe some garlic salt too.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Let it SNOW!!!!!!

After we finished opening presents on Christmas morning, we rested for about 10 minutes and then (with the help of my awesome family who was here celebrating) hopped up, un-decorated the tree, got it out of the house, vacuumed up all of the needles, packed up the car, and headed to Ben's parents' house for almost a week. It started snowing that night and we woke up to over three inches the next morning. Grayson and Emma Claire saw snow for the first time last February, but it was less than an inch so they were amazed at this. We were prepared with coats and hats and my mother-in-law supplied the mittens and scarves, which I think were Ben's and his sister's when they were little. :) Of course, we didn't have the appropriate footwear at all, so we improvised by putting Ziploc bags and rubber bands around their shoes. Whatever works! :)

Whitt and Gee Gee watched from inside, where it was nice and warm.

Grayson's "snow boots"

This is funny--I called it the redneck sled. Ben's dad tied the barrel part of a wheelbarrow to the back of his Kubota and drove everybody around. It was kind of a cross between sledding and tubing, and tons of fun except for the snow that sprayed in your face the whole time. The kids loved it and are still asking to go back again and "go for a ride with Pop Pop".

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Just a few

I really didn't take many pictures this Christmas....I'd like to say I was too busy enjoying it with my family, but in reality I was too busy running around like a crazy person. We were busy busy busy, but it really was fun. On Christmas Eve we went to the 5:00 service at church and immediately came home and had friends over for a birthday party for Jesus.

EC and her bff Isaac---don't they make a cute couple? :)

a few of the kiddos at Jesus' birthday party

getting ready for bed---Whitt and his cousin Taylor

Christmas morning--I have to give the story behind this toy. This is the third year in a row that my parents have given the children this fun roller thing to Grayson and EC. I despise it---somebody always gets hurt when they play in it but they love it and my parents love that they love it. Usually about halfway through the year it pops and I'm happy to throw it away, but then we always get a new one at Christmas. I was hoping they'd forget about it this year (ours from last Christmas popped in August--shortly after one of the kids tried to roll down the stairs in it...geesh!!) but we weren't surprised when one showed up on Christmas morning. Of course, Grayson and Emma Claire (and this year, Whitt) were thrilled. I do love the awesome hairdo it gives everybody who plays in it, though. :)

I have to work on getting better pictures of more than two children at once. This was the best cousin picture I could get. :)

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Christmas catch-up

A few days before Christmas, we took the kiddos to a party at the island where my parents have a second home and they got to meet Santa Claus. He even brought each of them a present--they were thrilled!

Whitt checking everything out...

The only halfway decent shot of the three of them---Whitt looked like such a ragamuffin!

I LOVE this picture! This was taken when Santa was arriving at the party...Emma Claire was jumping up and down, beside herself with excitement. :)

The next three pictures make me laugh because they totally fit each of the children's personalities....
Mr. Serious

Miss Excited still bursting at the seams

and sweet Whitt just wanted to get off this strange man's lap and get back into his daddy's arms.

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Friday, January 7, 2011

Menu Monday (on Friday)...otherwise known as "I'm a copycat"

Inspired by one of my favorite bloggers, Elefantitas Alegres, and her menu Sunday and also copying my BFF Christie who just posted this two days ago, and also inspired by a Facebook friend who had a status saying she was curious what moms do regarding meal planning, I've decided to jump on the Menu Monday bandwagon. I'll be posting my weekly menus and following up at the end of the week with my comments regarding hits and misses, and also any changes I might make in the future. I try to make two new meals every week and try to cook low calorie meals more often than not, and will post the recipes whenever possible. Feel free to share your favorite recipes---I love to cook!

Here is our menu for this week:

Monday: Dirty Rice and butter beans---Christie's husband Brad's recipe and NOT healthy at all, but it was really good and SO easy. Basically you just boil some rice in one pot, brown some thinly sliced kielbasa sausage in another pot, then combine the two and mix it up until the rice soaks up the grease. Yum!

Tuesday: Pork Chops with Mushrooms and Shallots--this was really good but lacked a little flavor, in my opinion. Loved the mushrooms and next time will definitely add more shallots and will add some wine for more flavor. Really low cal, though, and very filling. The kids loved it, which was a definite plus.

Wednesday: Chicken and White Bean Enchiladas with Creamy Salsa Verde---my favorite we've had so far this week. SO good, full of flavor, easy to make, doesn't taste low cal at all, and the kiddos gobbled it up. We had tons left over, too!

Thursday: Ben and the kids had leftovers from Wednesday and I went out to dinner with a friend. In case you're wondering, I had crab bisque, sushi, and wine. Delish! :)

Friday: Another girls' night for me--not the norm, but I'll take it! A big group of us is going out for sushi and to see Country Strong, and Ben is taking the kiddos on a Daddy date. They've been talking all day about Chick-fil-a so I'm guessing they'll talk him into that tonight.

Saturday: Grilled Chicken Thighs with White Barbecue Sauce--this is one of my favorite recipes and I'm so excited to have it tomorrow night. I make it all the time in the summer and we haven't had it in months, but we are having some friends over tomorrow night and I thought it would be a good meal to serve. It's a great choice to make when you have company over because you can make everything ahead of time and then just throw the chicken on the grill. I usually serve it with corn but I'm going to do twice baked potatoes tomorrow instead.

Sunday: Panko Crusted Salmon and French String Bean Salad, both from Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That? cookbook---made this last Sunday and it was easy and gooooooooooood. Can't wait to have it again!

Okay, that's that, and I'll be posting our menu for next week on Monday!

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Thursday, January 6, 2011


You might notice that the blog is undergoing some changes...I'm loving it so far! Katie at The Polka Dot Pig is redesigning it and I can't wait to see the final product. Thanks, Katie!

New posts coming soon, too. We had a busy Christmas with a trip to Ben's parents' house with the kiddos (a white Christmas!!!!!!) and a kid-free trip to the mountains with our friends Christie and Brad. Sorry I've been absent from the blog---the holidays about did me in, but we are home and finally settled back into our routine so I will soon be uploading pictures and writing some new posts. Hope everybody had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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