Monday, August 31, 2009

School? Whaat?? Where did summer go?

I am so sad to be the one to inform all of you that our summer has gone and school is quickly approaching. What? Wait, you already knew and you all are celebrating and you didn't call me!!! Okay, so seriously I already knew too. I've had the countdown ticker on my igoogle page going since school got out.

I'm having a hard time dealing with all of the school supply lists. I've been collecting some items as they have come on sale or had coupons for, but seriously, it's as if we have to supply the entire class! Four packages of four glue sticks!? How many collages can one fifth grader make? They even request a particular brand of pencil in which we must supply four packages of ten pencils -I do have to say that they are a superior brand, but with that comes a hefty price tag for a frickin' pencil. Here's a kicker, we must get a particular pen...not stick pens, not ball point, not marker -sharpies are already requested and this particular pen is not even carried at any office supply, walmart, art store in my town nor the neighboring city!!! We didn't even get the list until last week, because that's when you can officially access the information. WHAT THE EFFFFFFFin' me-oh-my?! Okay, enough of a rant, moving on.

This last week was a success with the meal planning and semi-quasi budgeting, with the exception of going through twice as much milk as I thought we would. Here is this week's menu:

Sunday: Roasted Chicken, potatoes, & peas.. eh hem, rice, leftover steak, & carrots.
Monday: Chicken kabobs on green salad w/ corn on the cob
Tuesday: sloppy joes & green salad
Wednesday: Spaghetti, french bread, salad
Thursday: Chicken enchiladas
Friday: Pancakes & pears
Saturday: leftovers/new recipe... BLT PIE!!!!

Sunday was a flop because I decided that I needed to drive to pick up the kids, to get out of the house. Good thing was that we had everything here in the house and it was ready when I returned. We made snack cake last night for dessert over the next couple of days.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

stroganoff ala chicken pox...ew.

Z was diagnosed with chicken pox on monday, which means saturday, when he was feeling rather ho-hum, that was the start of things. We had family out, cousins, and after spending a few days of seclusion at the family cabin, we took them to the Olympic Game Farm, which is near our house. Lots of fun and we parted ways. Imagine my freaking out on Monday morning when Z came to me with numerous itchy pimply spots, then followed the confirmation by our pediatrician. Good times! So, he has spent a few days in isolation. With the knowledge of our ped the girls will now have their day with chicken pox -JOY! While it can in no way compare to my TWO bouts of the pox and the last when I was 13, can we say pox on the eyelids, down my throat, and on the bottoms of my feet... it ought to be interesting.

I have had many requests for a "pox party", but then have also received the emails of how disturbing the thought of a pox party is. I had to ponder this, and when I responded I sort of let loose because they were targeting me... I didn't advertise that I was having a party, I just happened to have the infected child. As if I purposed exposed my child to the disease, when in fact he was vaccinated. Now, I am purposely infecting my younger two to the pox, but they were probably already infected long before I knew it was even in our house. In our home we selectively vaccinate. There are some that we do and some that we don't.

Z would not have received the varicella vaccine had I known that it was being given at that time. It was new, and apparently, they (the nurses) thought that everyone would want it. It wasn't brought to my attention until AFTER they had given it to him, he was only 15 months. At 2, Z developed serious food and outside allergies. Thankfully, he has outgrown most, but still the damage was already done and we have to live with the effects of that.

So, before you decide to attack or alienate people because of how they decide to raise their children, think about what their reasons may be. It may be their religious beliefs or maybe we feel the need to just get down and dirty let our immune systems and bodies develop a bit before we start injecting active diseases into it. It's nothing personal against you, but it's none of your damn business. I realize that you may think that we are out there, unvaccinated and possibly spreading our "diseases" to you, but we aren't the ones living with the viruses already in our systems. We are just building up our natural defenses.
My husband and I decided long ago, that a little dirt wouldn't hurt. We weren't going to be those parents who expected everyone to slather up on the anti-bacterial gel before they could touch our babies. We weren't going to run and hide every time someone coughed or sneezed. When we were little we were given the chance to develop a natural defense system, we turned out just fine, in fact rather healthy. So, why couldn't our children? We are rather lucky to have pediatricians, nurses, family, and friends who support our decisions. We just ask that we not be attacked or condemned when we share this info with you. If you don't want to come to our "pox party" then don't come. We didn't want you there anyway.

Now for food, we had this last night and it turned out soooo good! Sorry no pictures, we ate it all so fast that by the time I thought about a picture there was nothing left. It was that yummy.

Ground beef stroganoff

1 bag of egg noodles cooked per package instructions-rice and potatoes are also good
1 lb ground turkey/beef/whatever you like! -we combined turkey & beef
1 pkt of onion soup mix (beef onion would be really good!)
salt/pepper to taste
a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce or more
1 cup milk
1 cup sour cream

brown ground meat, drain off fat.
add onion soup mix, salt & pepper to taste and stir it all up
add milk and sour cream and heat thoroughly
lastly add the Worcestershire sauce to taste, start with a teaspoon or so and shake a more if needed, stir up and WA LA!

Oh, then serve over noodles, rice, potatoes, whatever your pretty little heart desires!

Notice this recipe does not have the usual staple of stroganoff recipes... MUSHROOMS. I hate, no, loathe mushrooms. I vomit in my sleep over mushrooms. My whole body heaves and convulses at the sight of those nasty little buggers. However, if you absolutely must tarnish this recipe with satan's fungus-go right ahead. Some people like those kind of things.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

cupcakes & menus

Well, a big giant THANK YOU to Sara over at Our Best Bites for this wonderful cupcake recipe. Of course as usual I had to juggle stuff for what we had on hand, but this is a huge hit...well, at least the making and oogling over them part. We are saving them until we meet up with my husband's family tomorrow.

I will post the recipe with our changes added, at the bottom of this post.

We are heading down to the cabin at Lake Quinault tomorrow morning. We'll be meeting up with J's family-mom, dad, The weirds: sister, brother-in-law, and their three children-they live in Maryland and are visiting for the week. We are so excited! We haven't seen them in what seems like forever-the spring. I had no idea what to bring so, we will be bearing gifts of CUPCAKES!

Quickly, I will post my menu for next week(23rd-29th), since I am unsure when I'll be able to get back on to do it. If they work out and are a hit, I will post recipes.

Sunday: Baked mac & cheese, w/ green beans
Monday: Caesar salads w/ french bread or baguettes-Whatever I try to make that day!
Tuesday: Chili & cornbread -we'll be making a double batch!
Wednesday: Ground beef stroganoff w/ corn
Thursday: Taco skillet w/ lettuce salad
Friday: Extreme Nachos -big kids are gone, so it may end up being just chips/chz
Saturday: Leftovers or new recipe!

That's it!
Our Best Bites cupcakes
Okay, while I do have to say that ours did not turn out as beautiful as Sara's - they are in our eyes. Our colors may not be as bright, they may appear lumpy, and we are missing orange, we couldn't have had more fun making cupcakes. Ultimately we decided to make ours huge - we doubled the amount in each muffin cup, by mistake and I believe it worked out to our advantage. We only had half of the colors in the gels, so we just used extra drops of the regular food coloring. We also didn't have the paper muffin cups, but hey, we are trying to cut down on the waste. The below recipe and directions are from here I will note where I have changed it.

COLORBURST CUPCAKES or as N calls them "Rainbow muffin cupcakes"

1 white cake mix
2 eggs
1 C sour cream
1/2 C milk
1/3 C vegetable oil (*we used olive oil)

Combine all ingredients until incorporated (about 30 seconds). Scrape sides of bowl and then beat on med-high speed for 3 minutes.

Divide batter according to how many colors you are using. I used 5 colors and it worked out to a little over 1 cup for each color. *we used 4 colors and used 1 cup of batter for each color*

Use food coloring to color batter to desired intensity. I used a 1/4 t and they were very bright! *we started with 1/4t each, then added a couple of extra squeezes of the regular food coloring to get a brighter color.* You could easily make pastel rainbows using a little less. *Layer each color of batter, it said to use about 2 teaspoons of each color in each muffin... my child interpreted that as 2 TABLESPOONS... I thought it looked a bit much so I did about 1 tablespoon, and soon figured out that we were not going to get more than a dozen cupcakes out of this. In turn they ended up huge. We played it off as it was all planned. It was also suggested on the site to use a bit of water on your fingers to spread each layer of color. It definitely helped.

Bake them according to the package directions(*20 minutes was perfect for our cupcakes), until a toothpick comes out dry. Wahlah!********
BTW, I have no idea what I did to these pictures, I think I may have kicked your dog.

Monday, August 17, 2009

back to menu planning

this is not the jam I made today, but strawberry jam I made last winter!

We are back to planning our dinner menus. Not because we are incredibly busy or because of budgeting, per se, but because it helps me keep my sanity! There is no second guessing what's for dinner or running to the store at the last minute. I know exactly what we're having and I have plenty of time to get to the store if we discover we're low or out of an ingredient.

Today, I stumbled upon a blog that I automatically fell in love with. She offers everything that I look for in a good read. I found myself going over many of her posts thoroughly and wanting to highlight, write down, save, print, and reread again! Lindsay's Passionate Homemaking helped me make the decision to make freezer jam with my raspberries today. She gave me the extra bump that I needed to get back into menu planning. There is so much more on her site, and I can't wait to sit down and dig in further. I'm looking forward to trying out some of her many recipes that she has too! Thank you Lindsay!

I have decided to keep my menus on Google Calendar. If you haven't tried this feature it is worth checking out. While I used to use Microsoft Outlook for most of email, scheduling, and sharing information with my husband. We no longer use MS Windows applications and have really enjoyed the change over to the Google products. I figured since we share our calendars already, why not add our dinner menus to it as well. I'm sure I can play with it more, my menu looks pretty crude compared to others that I've seen online, but it's MINE! We will see how it works starting next week- that's when we start our new planned menus. I'm expecting a lot less of the "what's for dinner babe?".

I will post next week's menu, tomorrow night. The kids loved the idea of theme nights for dinners, (thanks again Lindsay!)so I need to adapt our menus to coordinate with the themes.

If you're interested in the recipe for freezer jam. I altered it a bit for what I had on hand. Instead of juice from lemons, I used limes and I used honey for the sweetner. I can't wait to have some tomorrow on my toast!

Friday, August 14, 2009

wow. ramblin'... yah, I'm that bored

I really don't have much to report this time. J's mom came out on Wednesday and she started work on the big kids' room. I had primed it earlier in the week for her and she painted 2.5 walls pale turquoise and the closet a shimmery violet. We'll finish the other wall before they get home on Sunday. She also picked up some fun bedding for their beds. Bright colors to contrast the walls -yeah, it means we're starting to settle in!

We are battling bees, wasps, the devils bug, whatever you want to call them -we've already had our bug guys out and sprayed the ones on and directly around the house, in fact they come once a month to bomb them buggers. But we discovered a lovely hole in the yard a couple of weeks back and the effers won't die! We've tried everything from wasp spray to stuffing a rag down the hole, drowning it in bleach, then adding ammonia to it to try and suffocate them with noxious fumes -per my farming uncle, he claims that would knock 'em dead. Then J wild hair up his ass and decided on a blustery evening to get out the Wd-40 and blast them w/ some flames! The result wasn't so much as dead bees, but the yard on FiRE!!! We ran around and got it out with a broom and hose, but they were still alive so since we already had the hose out, we shoved it down the hole(s), yes multiple holes. By this time they had decided their main route wasn't working anymore so they made more... The flooding seemed to work - we also did the humane thing and added soap, because it seems so much more nicer with bubbles. We've done that a couple of nights in a row and I think their gone! Either that or their moving in with the neighbors. Sorry Frances. You can have 'em Olga, you 'ol bag.

Tonight I hit up twitter. I went through and adopted some new friends. I am positive that they will adopt me back -Brad and Angie can always use another rugrat, either that or they won't even notice that I'm around. Regardless of who is following me I am a frequent tweeter - not so much when I'm out, but when I am home and on the putah. So please follow me!

I have nothing else to share tonight except this one tidbit I found online tonight. I stumbled upon King Arthur Flour while looking for a baguette recipe... I CAN'T Wait to try this one out! It looks so delicious! If I have time tomorrow we'll see. Oh shit. I'm out of flour. I wish somewhere around here sold King Arthur's in bulk, so I'll just go down to Sunny Farms and get some organic bread flour from the bins. I don't know if I can sleep now I am so giddy with excitement!

Peace my friends - sleep well and have a most enjoyable weekend

Sunday, August 9, 2009

okay... I'm a jerk or just preoccupied

I've been away too long and so much has gone on in the last umpteen months! I feel that I have left you totally neglected and that someone might report me to bloggy protective services or at least just pass me up. SO I'm BACK!!!! Please don't kick my dog... er, if I had one.

My parents came over for the weekend to help us on a couple of wiring projects in the new house and with them they brought us a new dinner recipe. I so wish I would have taken pictures of this beautiful dish. My dad found it online here and mom and I adjusted it to our liking. My husband and dad commented that it tasted like it was of good restaurant quality. Hey, hey! Two thumbs up for us! We are awesome, but we already knew that. I'll put the recipe at the end of this post.

Now, because we are a larger than life family we doubled the recipe. Here are a few of the ways we tossed this puppy up. We had fresh salsa, chopped tomatoes, a mexican variety of cheese (? four cheese and mom bought it-figures, cheater). The meat only marinated for 4hrs - I can't imagine how much more delish the meat would have been if it had been marinating overnight! I also took about a quarter of the meat and cooked it until it was brown throughout, I won't touch it if it's pink and have passed that nasty habit on to the youngest of my offspring. We DID NOT put our tostadas in the oven to melt the cheese -growling, angry mobs will make that decision for you. Our flank steak was cooked on the grill-so we had it on for a couple minutes longer on each side. That was it!

I am so making this again!

I have had many chaotic moments since my last post. I will follow up with that on later postings, no need for drama or to drag everyone down in one fatal swoop. So for now, please enjoy this easy, beautiful, delicious dinner!

Dr. Pepper Marinated Steak Tostados
Meat and marinade:
1 pound skirt or flank steak (we used flank)
1 (16-ounce) bottle Dr. Pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
1/4 cup thinly shredded
green cabbage
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into
thin strips
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 teaspoons malt vinegar
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
11/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
4 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
11/2 cups shredded caciotta or Monterey Jack cheese (mexican blend)
1/2 cup goat cheese crumbles

1. Pour Dr. Pepper over steak. Refrigerate 4 to 12 hours.
2. To prepare slaw, toss cabbage, bell pepper and cilantro together. Whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar and granulated sugar. Pour over cabbage mixture; toss. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry tortillas 8 to 10 seconds on each side. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt; drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
4. Prepare grill. Remove steak from marinade. Combine 1 teaspoon salt, brown sugar and pepper; rub on meat. Grill meat 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
5. To assemble tostadas, preheat oven to 350F. Place tortillas on baking sheets. Sprinkle with cheeses. Slice steak into thin strips. Distribute among tortillas. Bake 5 to 6 minutes, until cheese melts. Remove from oven and top each tostada with 2 tablespoons slaw. Serves 4.

Recipe adapted with permission from Grady Spears and June Naylor's, The Texas Cowboy Kitchen (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2007).

"Home at the Range," July 2009.