Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Menu Monday #28

Whew. I'm still trying to catch up today. We didn't get in from Ohio until late last night and after a listening to Cars 2 about a zillion times, mixed in with shrieks of discontent for half the trip, I was wiped. So, it's really Menu Tuesday, but that just doesn't sound nearly as good!

Last week I prepared Thanksgiving dinner for our little family of four. Turkey stuffed with homemade stuffing, gravy from the juices, mashed potatoes, and corn soufflé.

Yes, even after feasting on it for 2 days, there are still leftovers in the freezer!
And let's not forget dessert. Pumpkin crunch pie. Awesome. I used a combination of the pumpkin crunch and pumpkin pie recipes I had to create this. Quite a delicious addition to the table!

Pie and cake. The best of both worlds! :)
Ethan enjoyed eating on the "fancy plates," aka our china.

When did he get so big?!?
Noah was just happy to use a spoon to feed himself. ;)

As we have come to do every year now, we set up the Christmas tree after enjoying our Thanksgiving dinner. Ethan was really excited about it this year, which made it even more fun. Noah still doesn't really know what's going on, but he does love dancing to some Christmas music! :)

Melting my heart!
We headed to Josh's parents' house on Wednesday, after joining Ethan for a Thanksgiving lunch at his preschool on Tuesday. I was happy to be able to help get the meal ready, even if it included boiled veggies, instant mashed potatoes and what looked more like deli turkey than a real one. :/ It was more about the experience and he enjoyed having us there with him to eat that day. :)

Kristy Lou, Laura Kates and Annie Sue with our little ones!
We spent a couple days in southern Ohio before heading north to my parents' new house on Friday! My wonderful mother had prepared my favorite for dinner - manicotti. The boys gobbled it up, too. I need to make that again soon. I had a wonderful evening catching up with a couple of my best friends from high school. It was so great to see them and have our kiddos play together!

On Saturday, my mom's family gathered for a meal at a local restaurant, Der Dutchman. With so many of us now, cooking a big meal can be a chore, so it was nice for everyone to just relax, eat and visit. We were missing a few people, but I am happy to report that my aunt's open heart surgery yesterday (to remove the tumor that caused her stroke) went well. Hopefully she will soon be on her way to a full recovery! Thank you to everyone who has prayed for her and her family.

On Sunday morning, since my sister's family was there too, my parents fixed our traditional holiday big breakfast of homemade coffee cake and sausage and Canadian bacon egg muffin sandwiches. It was delicious, as always! I really need to get back on track this week with some healthier food. No more desserts! Sigh.

Sunday: Take-out pizza
We got together with some of my Dad's family, and instead of yet another turkey dinner, we decided to enjoy some pizza instead! I wanted to check out some of the local fare from my hometown, so we ordered from Pizza Dock. Their Cheezy Meatball pizza was quite tasty! I would love to check out more of their speciality pies next time I am in town.

Monday: On the road
We had a long day on the road, so fast food had to suffice. I tried the Southwest Grilled Chicken salad from McDonald's. Definitely not the best quality, but the flavors weren't bad.

Tuesday: Cajun Chicken Pasta
I haven't made this meal in a long time, and it sounded like a great light meal after so many big feasts for the holiday! It is packed with lots of yummy fresh veggies, yet it still feels like a comfort meal with the addition of whole wheat pasta.

Wednesday: Grilled pork chops, roasted butternut squash, and toasted pine nut couscous with dried cranberries
I'm hoping it isn't too chilly to fire up the grill for the pork. This meal has quickly become one of our favorites, so I'm looking forward to it. The combo of the crunchy pine nuts with the nutty couscous and the sweet cranberries is perfect. Paired with the earthy flavors of the squash, this meal is incredible.

Thursday: Salsa chicken in whole wheat tortillas, sweet corn
This is a nice, easy healthy meal. I would still like to find an alternative to using cream of chicken soup, so I need to hunt for one to try. Any suggestions?

Friday: TBD
We'll probably eat out somewhere, but I haven't planned this far in advance yet.

Saturday: TBD
I'd like to cook something, but I made this quick menu on the fly this morning while I was out, so I'll go back to the store later if needed.

Happy meal planning to you this week. Time for some turkey detox for us!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Menu Monday #27

We had a good weekend at home, especially given that Josh worked from home on Friday and has taken the entire week off this week! We look forward to the time together. On Friday night, we went out for Indian food, to our favorite local place, Sahib. It was delicious as usual, and I enjoyed my favorite - chicken tikka masala. Josh had the lamb tikka masala and the boys had paneer tikka masala. Hmm, can you tell what we like? ;) We came back home and got back to work on our basement. Fun, fun. When we moved into the house in July, all of our boxes from storage were put there and we hadn't really given them a second thought until this weekend. We want to get the basement ready to re-carpet now, which means we first need to get everything organized and unpacked! We put a pretty good dent in the pile Friday evening before heading to bed.

On Saturday morning, I fixed our favorite, whole wheat pumpkin pancakes with cream cheese icing. We went back to work downstairs while the boys played with all their "new" toys. I guess stuff they haven't seen in nearly a year would seem new when you're that young! ;) We took breaks for lunch and dinner, when I made the Margherita pizza I had planned to make on Friday.

Our progress so far!
On Sunday morning, we decided to head out for brunch, and enjoyed a nice big meal at Cracker Barrel. We don't do that very often anymore, but it was a tasty change of pace. I love their French Toast topped with peaches and the boys gobbled up their pancakes (that happen to be as big as their heads!!) and eggs! After some shopping, naps, and fun time outside (the weather has been gorgeous here!), we had dinner and went back to work downstairs. Once the weekend was over, we are left with 7 big boxes of stuff we are throwing out, 5 boxes of stuff to donate and just a few more boxes to sort through now!! Yay!! The picture doesn't really do justice to all the work we did. This room was entirely filled with boxes that needed unpacked and sorted through, so it wasn't quick work. Hopefully we will get everything finished up soon so we can get to work on knocking out part of a wall, then getting new carpet installed! Half of the basement will be the future home of our media room/man cave and play room for the boys. This half will remain as storage and Josh's garage, and will possibly serve as a guest room in the future, if we build a wall to separate it from the garage portion.

Sunday: Take-out pizza
To give us more time to work, it was easier to order in for the evening.

I have a 10-pounder roasting in the oven now, stuffed with some stuffing (using the recipe my Dad has always used)! On the side, I'll make mashed potatoes, corn soufflé, extra stuffing that didn't fit in the turkey, and some gravy made from the turkey juices. Yum! For dessert, instead of the usual pumpkin pie, I am going to make it extra delicious by making pumpkin pie crunch! I'll make the pie the way I normally do (homemade crust is a must for me!), but add the toppings I use when I make pumpkin crunch. Best of both worlds. :) The link above gives some of the details from last year's feast.

Tuesday: Leftovers
With just 4 of us and 10 pounds of turkey, we will have plenty left to eat tomorrow night!

Wednesday: On the road
We'll be headed to Ohio for the holiday, so we'll be eating somewhere up there.

Thursday: Thanksgiving feast - take 2!
We'll enjoy a Thanksgiving meal again, with Josh's family.

Friday: TBD
We'll be headed to my parents' new house (they just moved in this weekend!! Yay!) on Friday, but I'm not sure what we'll do for dinner yet.

Saturday: Thanksgiving feast - take 3!
We'll be having a Thanksgiving meal with my mom's side of the family. I may never want to see turkey again after this week, but I know I will enjoy the time spent with family.

Happy meal planning to you this week if you will be spending time in your kitchen. I hope that you have a wonderful time with your families and/or loved ones.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Menu Monday #26

An unexpected death in the family had us traveling to Ohio this weekend. Josh's Mamaw, his mother's mother, went to a better place on Tuesday. So, we made our way to his parents' house on Thursday to be with his family. The calling hours were on Friday and the funeral was on Saturday. Everything was very beautiful. Though it wasn't how one hopes to bring everyone together, it was nice to see everyone. It was the first time in a couple years we had everyone together from hubby's immediate family, so we had to get a picture!

All of the Seeley's!
Almost all of hubby's mom's extended family
On Friday night, we went to one of Josh's favorites from when he was young, Fred's Pizza. We enjoyed some cheesy bread with spicy sauce and a pepperoni pan pizza. Yum! I haven't had a pan pizza like that since I was a kid. Nice soft, thick crust, with a crusty exterior. Great flavor too! We gobbled it up. The boys were super cute at dinner, too! :)

On Saturday, we were fed by the wonderful ladies at the church. We gathered for a meal and fellowship after the funeral service.

On Sunday afternoon, we had a Thanksgiving meal at my in-laws' house, since not everyone will be together to celebrate in a couple of weeks. We gathered around the table and stuffed our faces with turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, beans, corn and biscuits. Yum!

Sunday: Fred's pizza
Ethan really liked dinner Friday night. So much so, that he wanted to go back to Fred's. Haha! It was great pizza, so we didn't mind, and everyone joined us this time. :)

Monday: Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup
Since we were on the road, I wanted something fairly easy to make when we arrived home. I threw my ingredients in the bread machine and let it go to work to get some fresh French bread ready. I used provolone cheese and Amy's organic tomato soup. A nice comfort food meal for a cold, rainy day. 

Side Note: It's so crazy how different the boys can be when it comes to some things. Ethan was happy to be spoon-fed until he was over 2 years old. Noah, on the other hand, is quite independent and throws a fit if he can't feed himself!! Tonight, he insisted upon feeding himself his tomato soup. Fortunately, he did a pretty decent job of it. I guess each presents its own challenges - having to feed a child is time-consuming and makes it hard to eat your own meal, but letting a child do it themselves makes for a lengthy clean-up time! Haha! It still amazes me daily to see how big Noah is getting!

Tuesday: Chicken capri over brown rice, oven roasted asparagus
A tasty meal, it will be nice for another cold day. I slice my chicken breasts thin and pan fry them in a little EVOO first, then top them with a ricotta cheese mixture, crushed tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella. This is baked to melt the cheese and served over the rice, to soak up all the juices.

Wednesday: Grilled pork chops, coucous with toasted pine nuts, roasted butternut squash
With our plans changing last week, we didn't get to eat this meal, so I'll defrost the pork chops and we'll have it this week!

Thursday: Chicken quesadillas, spicy cilantro corn
The boys love these. Who doesn't love gooey, melted cheese in a warm, whole-wheat tortilla? I'll use mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, diced red pepper and onion.

Another meal we didn't make, so we'll have it this week.

Saturday: Out to eat
I'm still in the mood for some Indian food! Hopefully we will enjoy some this weekend!

Happy meal planning to you this week! It will hopefully be a decent week of weather for us, after an unseasonably warm weekend in the 70s. I hope things are looking good in your neck of the woods, too!

If you haven't done so yet, please check out my business blog or Facebook page and my friend, Meredith's blog! She is hosting a giveaway this week where two of her readers will win one of my custom Christmas card designs! :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Menu Monday #25

After a very busy week, I was happy for a lazy weekend to recover this weekend. On Friday afternoon, I enjoyed some shopping while the boys napped, then we went out that evening to Carrabba's. It's one of our favorite Italian places. The boys were on their best behavior, always an added bonus, and made lots of friends with fellow patrons. Haha!

Daddy and the boys

On Saturday morning, I made another batch of whole wheat pumpkin pancakes. Once again, they were devoured by everyone. After naps on Saturday, we decided to do some more shopping and enjoyed dinner at Mellow Mushroom. This time we tried their Holy Shitake Pie. It was pretty awesome, as pretty much everything they make is! Daisy was very happy when we returned home with a new pillow for her! :)

Daisy on her new pillow

On Sunday morning, hubby requested some buttermilk biscuits to go with the scrambled eggs, so that is what we had. With the daylight saving time change, we gained an extra hour of awake time since the boys didn't want to let us sleep (why don't they know that's what we're supposed to do??), so we put it to good use cleaning the house. I got the upstairs sparkling, while Josh worked on some organizing and unpacking in the basement. We still have a good deal of work ahead of us down there, but hopefully we'll make quick progress so we can get the basement remodel started soon!

I have been slacking lately on the diet and it's starting to show. :( I'm hoping to get back on track this week with some healthier meals. And I must. stop. baking!!

Sunday: Spaghetti and meatballs, bread
I hadn't made this meal in ages, and it sounded good for a chilly night. I use whole wheat pasta and make my own meatballs using lean ground beef, bread, egg and spices. I didn't have time to make my own bread, so I bought a loaf from the bakery.

Monday: Blackened salmon over brown rice, oven roasted asparagus
I'm hoping it won't be too cool for this meal. Thanks to the time change, poor hubby will be grilling in the dark, too. :( I have missed this meal the past few weeks, so I am looking forward to it!

Tuesday: Slow cooker salsa chicken in whole wheat tortillas, spicy cilantro corn
This will be an easy meal for Election Day! I'm afraid will get stuck at the polls in line, so I wanted something quick to eat when we get home.

Wednesday: Grilled pork chops, coucous with toasted pine nuts, roasted butternut squash
This meal was gobbled up last time I made it, so I wanted to have it again. I love fall for the butternut squash. It is amazing how tasty it is, without needing to add a single thing to it when you roast it!

Thursday: Melt in your mouth baked chicken, whole wheat rotini, pan fried parmesan green beans
This is a great tasty, low-cal meal that the boys both love. All that equals win-win in my book!

I haven't made pizza in several weeks, so I need to get back to doing that. This simple cheese and basil pie is a good one!

Saturday: Out to eat
I'm in the mood for some Indian food!

Happy meal planning to you this week! Here's to hoping that we all survive it with the recent time change. I can only assume that it's not just my kids being extra "fun" from a lack of sleep and not yet adjusting to it. Sigh.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Trick or Treat!

What a fun time we had this year for Halloween. We spread out the celebration, and managed to get more use out of the costumes than normal, too. Awesome! We kicked off the holiday this year by hosting a Halloween party at our house for the boys' friends.

Josh and I made a big pot of our Italian Chili and served it Cincinnati-style, over whole wheat spaghetti and topped with shredded cheddar cheese. I made some of my buttermilk cornbread and a pan of pumpkin crunch for dessert. Yum! For snacks, I offered some autumn mix (peanuts, golden raisins, candy corn and Reese's pieces) and corn chips with pumpkin salsa.

The spread on the table
Treat bags for the kids filled with the autumn trail mix
Corn chips and pumpkin salsa, autumn trail mix in front, and bowl of candy for guests

The kids all came in costume and played games organized by my friend, Amanda. She is awesome and came up with four fun games for the kids to play! They enjoyed some ghost bowling, a witch's hat ring toss, a pumpkin toss and skeleton limbo! Super fun!

The boys loved the ghost bowling!
Skeleton limbo was fun!

Ethan celebrated at his preschool on Tuesday. He got to wear his costume, they went Trick or Treating in the building, and they had a pizza party! I provided the drink boxes for the party. The only thing I don't like about his preschool is the fact that you can't make anything homemade to take in for parties, birthdays, etc. I love making special treats for the boys, so it's a real bummer that everything has to be store-bought and individually packaged, especially since I try to normally try to avoid buying these sorts of things! :( But, I made the best of it this time, and created mummy juice boxes! :)

Mummy juice boxes

They were super easy to make! And so adorable!! Ethan loved them and told me I was the best mom ever! Awww! To start on the juice boxes, I removed the straws. Take a piece of white tape (I used a couple rolls of 1 1/2" cloth tape from my athletic training days. I knew it would come in handy someday! Haha!) and punch a hole in it with a hole puncher. Place this tape on the top of the box with the hole lined up to the hole for the straw on the box. Place another piece of tape on the bottom of the box. Then cover the entire box with one layer of tape. Next, using a roll of tape that is split in half (into ~3/4"), add another layer with the strips crossing each other to give it a mummy-look. Once the box is covered entirely, add two adhesive googly eyes to the front. Place one more strip of tape on top, at an angle, over the eyes. Use one more strip of tape to affix the straw to the side of the juice box. Voilà! A wonderful way to make a store-bought item "hand-made"! :) Here is a great video tutorial from Parents magazine.

My idea for costumes this year started with Ethan's request to be Daisy, our 6-year-old boxer. Every time I asked him what he wanted to be this year, that was his response. So, doggy costume it was! I wasn't sure at first how I was going to accomplish a Daisy-look, but I eventually figured it out. For Noah, I thought an animal costume would be cute too, as he loves them so much. His favorite animal is currently a cow, so cow it was! I was stumped for weeks about a costume for Daisy and how to tie them all together (I love themes!), but it finally came to me! Hey Diddle, Diddle! So, with the cow and doggy taken care of, that left Daisy to be the cat! ;)

Hey diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle,

The cow jumped over the moon.

The little dog laughed to see such fun

And the dish ran away with the spoon!

Once the costumes were done, I made the fiddle for Daisy, and moon and dish "pillows" for Noah and Ethan, respectively, along with a wooden spoon for Ethan. Perfect! I'll post more later on how I made their no-sew costumes!

On Halloween, the boys helped me make whole wheat pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, from Tracey's Culinary Adventures, for a snack. They were super tasty, just as I hoped they would be! I doubled the recipe, but it ended up making 30 muffins instead of 24. I used 1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips, instead of 2 cups, but I think 1 cup would have been enough. I also recommend baking for just 18-20 minutes total.

Our neighbors invited us to their church's Trunk or Treat, held inside the church, so we took them up on their offer to participate in our first ever "Trunk or Treat". Unfortunately, we didn't know how popular it was and were not prepared for the 45 minute wait outside to get in! :( It was a bit chilly, but Daddy kept the boys warm. :)

As Ethan would say, "Oh my goodness!" Melted my heart!
They had a great time trick or treating and playing at the church carnival.

When we got home from the church, we got Daisy, bundled the boys up in the wagon and went to a few of the neighbors' houses before bed time. It was a fun night.

I hope you and your little ones had a great Halloween, too!