Plan implosion

Ok, so my menu plan didn’t *literally* collapse inward in a very sudden and violent way. But it came close.

Last week I had the blahs. I didn’t make much of the menu I had planned. The biggest bummer of all is that I didn’t make pasties, because they’re awesome comfort food, and I could really use that right now. Sigh.

The problem is, I’m pretty sure I had an awesome week. I think I was just too busy and drained by the number of “out and about” activities to appreciate it. Can I blame it on being an introvert? Maybe? Either way, now I’m going to do my best to recount all the good stuff that happened.

    • Monday- I did in fact prep and assemble the lasagna as planned, and it turned out really well. I alternated layers of the garlic-butter-sauteed-chard mixed with ricotta/mozarella/egg/parmesan, with layers of beefy marinara spiced up with fennel and Italian seasoning. Sauce on top, covered with foil while cooking, and topped with fresh grated parm when it was time to serve. I think I have a new preferred technique here!
    • Tuesday- My boss gave me four tickets to the Twins game! Score! I had both boys overnight, so we left as soon as we ate our lasagna dinner and took the lightrail to the ball game. Their dad joined us after he got off work. We had to leave after the 7th inning stretch because it was a school night, but the boys were happy to find out that the Twins won the next morning.

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    •  Wednesday- I actually got mowing done, and it felt good to have my yard look (temporarily) respectable. I did make the greek style salad with chicken, and it was good but it didn’t turn out exactly as I had hoped.
    • Thursday- I went to my first ever meeting of The Children’s Storytelling Guild. I’ve been excited about telling stories for a while, and got a lot of good feedback from the others there about my telling of The Sausage. It was fun to get the inside scoop from storytelling professionals, and get feedback from someone other than my five year old. We just had leftover lasagna for dinner.
    • Friday- Where did the week go?! I made us some to-go bbq chicken sandwiches with fruit on the side, which we ate in the car as we drove to NE Minneapolis. We went to a friend’s gallery event for Art-A-Whirl, and got to see a lot of cool and unique art. I also had the chance to catch up with former co-workers, who I now miss desperately.
    • Saturday- french toast for breakfast! I picked up my seedlings from Gardening Matters, and made a halfhearted attempt to try on summer shoes before heading to dinner with my friend Erin. We went to Boca Chica Restaurante in St. Paul, ate some good grub and talked, and talked, and talked some more.
    • Sunday- I took Darian’s Grandma with me to church, and after we had lunch I picked up Darian. We ran some errands, going to pick up more iron on patches for his pants, and get bright side walk chalk to replenish our supply. We played, we read together, I braided his hair while he watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 for the five thousandth time. I roasted a chicken for dinner and kind of scraped together the sides, but no one complained about it (other than me in my head).

So here’s the deal. This was all wonderful, really good stuff. Technically, I’m really happy that I did it all. I would have been sad to have to give up any piece of it. At the same time, I’m really not energized by this much activity, and I feel like I’m behind on everything.

This week, I’m vowing to take it easy. And I’m really, really going to try. Here is my best shot at a slacker meal plan.

    • Monday Shredded leftover chicken stir fry- broccoli, carrots, shallots in some kind of thrown together soy/teriyaki sauce. I’m making a big enough batch of rice to have leftovers for many other meals.
    • Tuesday Baked fish and shrimp, baked potatoes, salad.
    • Wednesday Romaine lettuce salad with balsamic dressing, dried cherries, carrots, broccoli, green onion, and probably sunflower seeds. Topped with chunky shreds of chicken, croutons, and mini cubes of cheddar cheese.
    • Thursday Rice with peppers, onions, carrots, celery, rutabaga, and seasoned ground beef. It’s like home made rice-a-roni. Or maybe a less dirty version of dirty rice. Some kind of side vegetable in here. Maybe asparagus?
    • Friday I have absolutely no idea. I’ll marinate on this a bit, look at my fridge inventory, and update a bit later in the week. I may get a few more things because I need to get to the store for milk!
    • Saturday and Sunday TBD. Again, I’ll check the fridge and hit the store.

There. I’m mostly planned, and a bit more thankful.

What do you do to perk yourself up when you start the week feeling exhausted?

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When to make a Pasty

So here’s the thing: I love a good pasty.

What is a pasty, you ask? Am I leaving out an ‘r’, and talking about pastry? No.

I am talking about pasties. Delicious hand held pies, filled with meat and root vegetables. Don’t skip the potatoes, don’t skip the carrot, and what ever you do please don’t skip the rutabaga. You probably shouldn’t skip the onion and celery either. Just don’t skip any ingredient.

Pasties on a plate

So here’s the other thing: making pasties is pretty time-consuming when you do it right. You should really make your pie crust from scratch, because the crust add so very much to the pasty eating experience. They keep beautifully, and freeze well after cooked, so when you make a big batch the time investment pays off.

But here’s the other… other thing: there is rarely a good time to make a pasty. It’s a time investment, your home gets heated up by the oven, and after you cook them they need to cool completely before you can wrap and store them.

Is a weeknight ever a good time to make a batch of pasties? Absolutely not. I knew I had a hankering for these, because every time it even occurs to me to make pasties I get the hankering. I thought of them last week, and I’ve held off as long as I could. In theory, I really should have made them over the weekend. Unfortunately I was too busy taking it easy for Mother’s day, and wasn’t motivated to spend the better part of a day preparing a large batch of food. This next weekend would be a good time to do it, but I have to dedicate some serious time to the yard work I’ve been putting off. Sigh.

In theory, a clever person can break up the prep for this recipe. Pie crust one day, most of the chopping the next, and assembly/baking on the third day. My friends, this week I am going to attempt to be clever. So! here is my weekly menu plan, with pasty prep-steps included.

  • Monday Chicken in creamy pesto sauce, served over rice. Like this recipe, but I add the broth first to get the brown bits off the pan, and also add a touch of sour cream. Sautéed green beans on the side.
    • Prep & assemble tomorrow night’s lasagna while making tonight’s dinner. It’s a lot of multi-tasking, but not too bad.
  • Tuesday Bake the pre-assembled lasagna layers of ricotta cheese, chard sautéed in garlic and butter, meaty-marinara, and mozzarella cheese. Sautéed broccoli and garlic bread on the side. Revel in as much kid time as possible.
  • Wednesday Greek Chicken Salad! Yes, this is happening again! It’s really all I can do to not eat this daily. Sautéed chicken thigh with lemon pepper seasoning/garlic, rice with lemon/dill/feta, sliced grape tomatoes, cukes in tzatziki-ish sauce, green onions, and pre-fab greek dressing. Topped with more feta & pita chips for croutons.
    • Day one of pasty prep: prepare the dough. My favorite recipe is not exactly traditional, but I use this cream cheese pie dough from lovely and talented Lucinda Scala Quinn. Here’s her video on making it into a pocket pie, I make mine a bit larger than she does. After making the dough, I’ll roll it into small, individual pocket pie sized balls, and stash it in the fridge til it’s ready to be rolled and baked.
  • Thursday Skillet Sausage and cabbage. Pretty much the same as this recipe, but I made with fire roasted pobalnos instead. I use about half the cabbage than is called for, so I also serve this with green beans and boiled red potatoes.
    • While slicing and dicing for this meal, cut up carrots, celery, and rutabaga. NOT onions or white potatoes, because those really don’t keep well after cutting.
  • Friday Pasty day! Right when we get home, kids and adults get a snack of apple slices with peanut butter to tide us over, because dinner will be later than 6 by a long shot. Bring out the beef, dice up potatoes and onions, toss in the other prepped veggies, roll the dough, fill, and bake for an hour. Once they’re out of the oven, they’ll need to cool for a good 15 minutes,  so cook the side of broccoli after they’re pulled from the oven.
  • Saturday/Sunday I’m going to wing it, and see what happens. I’m sure there will be leftovers, my only real plan is to bake some bread and throw together a soup with whatever I have in available. I’m hoping for potato broccoli cheese at some point, but we always seem to run out of broccoli.

So there you have it. If all goes according to plan, I will have my coveted pasties. What are some of your favorite, most craved meals?

The Coconut Chicken Curry

First- my menu plan for the week. Second- Recipe! Kind of! With pictures! Bad pictures!

Here we go, part one. This week’s menu:

  • Monday: I’m having dinner at my Mom’s house. No idea what she’s making, but I’m thankful it’s not me cooking and cleaning up after! I usually love that stuff, but I’m still a bit tuckered out after being sick this weekend.
  • Tuesday: Belated Cinco de Mayo dinner! Chips, guac, salad, and grilled stuffed burritos, with various combinations of: shredded chicken, fajita veggies, black beans, cheese, cilatro/lime rice. We build our own at the table, then “grill” them on the griddle right at the table. One of the joys of having a gigantic dinner table with room to spare!
  • Wednesday: Smoked sausage with peppers and onions, side order of baked potatoes topped with broccoli and cheese.
  • Thursday: Shredded BBQ chicken sandwiches, fresh cucumber/tomato salad, potato chips if I’m feeling feisty.
  • Friday: Burgers! Corn on the cob! Pasta salad! Fresh fruit!
  • Saturday and Sunday: I have a TON of yard work to get caught up on, so I’ll be keeping it pretty simple this weekend. I’ll make a big batch of some kinda soup, fresh bread, and cut up a bunch of veggies. I’m pretty sure there will still be leftover BBQ chicken, and pasta salad. If I have more motivation, I’ll use my extra ground beef to make pasties. They are so, so, so good.

Now, on to part two.

Last Wednesday, I made The Coconut Chicken Curry.  Just like I promised my dear Nerbly. I measured nothing, and took horrible pictures with my cell phone. I vowed to “re-do” the whole operation over the weekend. Then came the sickness. At first I though I had poisoned myself with hardboiled eggs, that were a tad beyond old when I boiled them. I threw away the offenders. And then continued to be sick through most of Sunday. I probably threw out perfectly good hard boiled eggs. And I didn’t re-create and re-picture The Coconut Chicken Curry. Alas!

So here, without further ado, is my poor attempt at documenting my throw together “recipe”. Please enjoy. Or at least endure, and then lie to me. Pretty please?

First, cook some rice. I like Kokuho Rose short grain white rice, and I cook it in my rice cooker with chicken broth for this. I make about three scoops worth, which takes three cups of broth, and then stir in 2 Tbs salted butter when it’s done cooking. Yum. Yum. Yum.

So! Gather yourself, and your ingredients. The fresh goods:

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1 medium sized head of broccoli florets. 1 largish carrot. 1 large stalk celery, which creepily shows up neon green in pictures. A handful of sugar snap peas. Two smallish shallots, or one good sized one, or about a quarter cup of diced yellow onion and a garlic clove.

Season 3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs with Seasoned Salt and pepper, on the smooth side, not that I’m certain this makes a difference…. Heat your biggest saute pan over medium high heat, and add a big swig of olive oil. Swirl it around to coat then plop the chicken in, seasoned side down. Whatever you do! Don’t clean off your stovetop in advance. The splatters will only increase from here….

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Cook and cook them on side A, til when you peek underneath they are deeply golden. Then season side B, and flip em over to reveal this glorious view:

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While those are cookin’ away, chop up your veggies. Like this:

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Small dice on the shallots and celery. These will go in first. Carrots are about a quarter inch thick. Broccoli florets and stems are there too, and the snap peas have had their strings pulled. After side B of the chicken matches side A, remove it to a plate and let it cool down.

Now the pan is filled with lovely brown bits and pieces. Add another splash of olive oil, and then add the shallots and celery:

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Make sure some of your pictures are out of focus. It adds character. Right? Right. Now, add some water to the pan to steam/cook the veg and get the goodness up off the bottom before it starts to get too dark.

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Stir, and stir, and stir, getting up all the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add in the carrots, and a little more water.

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While those are softening up, dice up some green onions and cilantro. These don’t go in til the very end, but you have some time for this to cook, so you may as well get it out of the way.

Turn this:

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Into this:

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Now the carrots are partially cooked, but still not pierce-able with a fork. It’s time for the spice!

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What spices you say? Well, it’s “the Indian Curry that has the gold label and the deer on it”, “cumin from the co-op’s bulk section in an old sesame seed jar”, and “some brand of regular strength coconut milk from my neighborhood Asian food store”. Really specific stuff!

I throw in a bunch of the curry powder:

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Then,  I stir it around in the oil/water in the pan:

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Next, dump in the coconut milk:

ChickenCurry_13Mmmmm, chunky! It looks gross, but just keep stirring until the lumps are gone.

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See? Much better. Now taste a bit of the coconut milk, and find out that there is basically no flavor. Dump in a bunch much more curry powder.

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Stir, stir, stir, then dump in cumin.

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Stir that stuff in too, then go cut up the now cooled chicken. I use a pair of kitchen sheers for this, they’re handy, sharp, and come completely apart for easy cleaning. Cut the chicken against the grain, this helps make it super easy to chew and/or break into smaller pieces with your fork:

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The coconut curry should be gently simmering away. See this? The heat is too high here, so I had to turn it down a bit.

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This needs to simmer a bit slowly, to cook down the spices enough. If it reduces too fast, it will feel kind of chalky in your mouth. Yuck. Here is the place you taste for your curry seasoning and spiciness! You don’t want to add more later, because it won’t have time to cook down. It should taste a bit stronger than you’d like, since you’ll be adding in lots of other stuff, and will only get a thin layer of sauce over it all.

Now that you’re done with that part… Dump in the broccoli!

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Smoosh it around, until all the stem ends are down in the liquid.

ChickenCurry_20Plop a lid on it, stir it around a few times, and get that broccoli cookin.

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You can’t really tell here, but I promise you, they’re more cooked. Still pretty crisp, but softened up. Time to dump the chicken back in! And all the juices on the plate!

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Stir it around, then grind in some black pepper, and dump in some Seasoned salt:

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Add the pea pods, and stir it around:

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Let it cook, and stir it, and let it cook, and stir it. The veggies will give off extra water and it will get extra soupy:

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That’s right after I scraped the bottom with the spatula. Just simmer it, and let it reduce slowly:

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Then, when it gets to this stage, taste again for salt:

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It’s thicker and bubbly. I pushed all the veggies to the side so you could see this part:

ChickenCurry_27Bam! Perfect thickness! When you scrape the spatula along the bottom, it goes clean and oozes back in. Kill the heat, taste for salt and add more if necessary. Now! Dump in the cilantro and green onions:

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Stir in the herbs, and let it sit in the pan to cool and thicken,  for about 5 minutes. Keep stirring occasionally to keep the veggies & chicken coated. Now, serve it up in a big giant bowl, or on a plate. Put down a layer of rice, and ladel on a slightly greater amount of the chicken curry. Like so.

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This is one of the “large” Fiestaware bowls, and it holds 40 oz. Yep, that’s dinner!

What do you do differently when you make your version of this kinda thing?

 

 

Hiking and Yard Camping

So! This past weekend was filled with wonderfulness. That’s a real word, just so you know. It’s also a real thing, that happens when you cram a whole bunch of good stuff into a weekend.

I already shared my Saturday plan with you, and it mostly happened. There were a few changes though:

  1. We didn’t go to Adventure Peak.
  2. We didn’t start with SeaLife.
  3. We went hiking someplace new! The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge to be exact, which I’ll just call The Refuge from now on.
  4. We went to SeaLife after that.
  5. It rained! Water got in the tent because flaps were open! Then we cleaned up the water! And camped in the yard anyway!
  6. I’m not sure the tent is ever coming down, but we’ll definitely have to move it once it finally stops raining, or the grass will surely die.

The Refuge was fun to visit. The visitor center is massive, with high ceilings, taxidermied animals, books and a bird feeder with very high traffic. We even saw a Pileated Woodpecker at the bird feeder! It was huge!

The hiking was new- the trails were wide and groomed to accommodate vehicles when necessary. The highlight of the hike was probably a water control structure, where one side had rushing water and the other side was barely moving at all. Science! The second best thing about the hike were two dead fish. They had swum far out of their native river, probably when the water was higher.

We’ll explore a different route next time, which may be a while since the terrain wasn’t as interesting for the boys as our usual spot. I barely took any pictures, but will rectify that the next time we end up the in tent (probably tonight) or on those trails (probably in a month).

Here is where I would normally post my meal plan, but I haven’t gone grocery shopping yet! Sunday we went to church with Darian’s Grandma Janice, and she was nice enough to treat us to lunch afterwards. We went right home after that, and between reading books, braiding hair, and making dinner, I just plain didn’t get to the store. After a certain amount of activities in a weekend, I usually end up pretty spent. It’s one of those great things about being an introvert.

Since the grocery shopping is not done, but I have looked at all the stores “weekly ads” and here is my best guess about what we’ll do:

  • Monday Baked Chicken Drums with spicy BBQ dipping sauce, leftover mashed potatoes “loaded” with broccoli, cheese, and then topped with green onions & sour cream.
  • Tuesday Sloppy Joes, corn on the cob, green salad. Simple menu so I can spend more time playing with the boys!
  • Wednesday Coconut Chicken Curry with a variety of veggies, served over white rice. Taking pics to document for a far off friend! Next week you will know my secret “throw together and taste” strategy!
  • Thursday Pasta Primavera with sauteed chicken and ready-made garlic bread.
  • Friday Chicken pot pie casserole, topped with buttered breadcrumbs. Served over white rice cooked in bone broth, with a side of green beans.
  • Saturday
    • Breakfast: German Oven Pancake with fixins and fresh fruit.
    • Lunch: Mini pasta shells with beefed up marinara. Appetizer of veggies and dip. Carb loading for our afternoon hike at Minnehaha Falls.
    • Dinner: I ended up doing something non-lettuce wrap-y for dinner last Friday, and I couldn’t for the life of me tell you what it was. Something with leftover rice I think? So! I’ll be re-creating the Cheesecake Factory’s lettuce wraps and making enough for it to be a meal.
  • Sunday
    • Breakfast: Egg sandwiches on English Muffins, grapefruit supremes.
    • Lunch: Chicken salad (with apples, grapes & shredded cheddar cheese) sandwiches, green salad on the side.
    • Dinner: Chicken breast topped with sweet peppers, cheese and toasted breadcrumbs. Served with rice pilaf, homemade buns, and Brussels Sprouts.

There you have it. I absolutely won’t be making it to the store before Wednesday, so Monday and Tuesday are planned to use what I already have in stock. If you don’t buy meat in bulk when it’s on sale, then portion and freeze it, you should start now. I butterfly and salt the chicken breasts before freezing them, which keeps them juicy and majorly cuts down on thawing time.

The new Saturday plan

Newsflash! Update!

I haven’t figured out how I want to update previous posts yet, so let’s do a whole new post. Cool? Cool. I’m glad we had this talk.

Yesterday, I unintentionally undermined date night. The Man and I were supposed to have an evening together, but I forgot and agreed to have the boys over Saturday night. I mean, how could you possibly keep your normal plans when you could have more of this in your life?

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They’re nerds. And I love it. Now, I’m planning our extended time together! I told The Man, and he was surprisingly not mad at all. He suggested yard camping with our boys. Usually they get picked up around 3:30PM, so having the whole day gives us a lot more freedom.

So! Here is our tentative Saturday agenda:

    • Breakfast: Pancakes, and savory sausage french toast, and fruit, oh my!
    • Tent set up- because we’re camping in our back yard Saturday night. Shenanigans are highly likely.
    • Lunch: Cheeseburgers on homemade buns, with fruit & veggies of some sort.
    • Afternoon Extravaganza! First we head to Sea Life at the Mall of America, where we have a year long pass. Then, if we can get away without going to LegoLand, we’ll have indoor play time at Adventure Peak.
    • Dinner: I’m not sure yet. Maybe brats? Maybe roasting marshmallows for dessert? I’ll report back next week.
    • Evening: Yard camping! Yee haw! So far it looks like the weather will cooperate. I don’t plan on telling the boys, on the off chance that we get rained out. We’re not especially hard core about yard camping through the rain.

So that’s it! The entire update! Sunday morning will be cold cereal, then church. I’m excited for the weekend now, so that should make the week fly by. What kind of weekend plans do you get excited about?

The Weekend Hike

This past Saturday,  the Kelly boys and I ventured out for a hike at Minnehaha Falls Park for the first time this calendar year. Last year we went nearly once a month, but the cold and snow have been brutal enough here in Minnesota that we had not attempted our trek in some time.

We do the same route when we hike. We start at the top of the falls.

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Darian (my little one, black hat), usually has a stick to use for a weapon/walking stick/thing to point out interesting things and this time was no different. Kimathi (Darian’s older brother literally from another mother, rocking the Charlie Brown hat) will occasionally grab a stick, but he never keeps the same one for all that long.

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Check it out! It was in the 50s or 60s, and there were still giant chunks of ice in the falls. Then, we go down the looong stair case to the bridge below the falls, where everyone else is taking pictures, but we rarely do.

Then we start hiking down the path, towards the Mississippi river. Not pictured is the stop for peanut butter sandwiches and strawberries as the boys sat on a fallen tree.

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We hike, and we hike, and we hike until we get to this long path that kind of floats above the more marsh-y parts of the creek. The boys run ahead of me, until we get to the more fun, less path-like path.

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The tree roots are kind of like steps in some places, there are large rock-steps in others, and some of the path is downright precarious.

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The boys are pros at navigating the trickier parts of the trail. They run ahead at all the right times, then wait dutifully at the parts of the path they know I want to cross as a group.

KellyBoys_MF6_20140419Shortly after we make it through the more Mountain-Goaty part of the trail, we can see the might Mississippi river! There is is just past the bridge. Up and to the left of Kimathi’s Charlie Brown hat if you’re having a hard time locating it. Most all the benches at this part of the trail are more sculptural than functional. Beware of rusty screws.

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Oh, and there are the sandstone cliffs.

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There is tons of “graffiti” scratched into these cliffs. The boys always add their own bit, and do a pretty good job ignoring the more adventurous additions put there by some young adult. They couldn’t ignore the large naked lady though, it was about my size and must have taken ages for the artist to carve. If it’s still there next time I’ll take a picture!

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Darian always finishes with the sandstone before Kimathi. Here he is making a break for the Mississippi. The water was quite high this year- usually there is a large sandy stretch to the right of that bridge.

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But The Tree is still exposed! It’s one of my favorite features of the Mississippi river front after our hike. The roots are all exposed and climb-able.

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See how much use that stick is getting? It’s been about ten different things at this point in the hike. I love these boys.

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Now we’re at The Other Tree, which I always force them to go climb into for a picture. There are five different trees all growing together. Thanks for putting up with all these photo ops, kids!

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I keep taking pictures, even though they have no time to pose for me. Which makes me incredibly happy, by the way.

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There! They’re peeking out for a smile. I like that they’re so into what they are doing, that posing isn’t a priority. Sometimes the second a phone comes out they yell Cheeese! and stop what they’re doing. There is not of that nonsense on these hikes.

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Later on the walk back from the Mississippi river, we found a rock to rest against. This is the part of the hike where they inevitably regret going as far as we did. Fun fact- I was told by their father that those are gang symbols on that rock. I’m glad that even hoodlums get out and enjoy nature.

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Here’s the last picture of our hike before my phone died. You won’t get to see the wading area, where in years past they frolicked in the dry creek bed. Or the massive, steep stairs that can only be climbed if it’s turned into a competition about who can get to the top first. Or the odd “Easter Event” that the park was hosting that day.

I love this picture for so many reasons. When Kimathi (now 8) was Darian’s age (5), I often called him “Captain Caution” and had to encourage that he take even the smallest risks. Now, he walks across fallen trees. Then jogs across them. And my heart bursts with love and pride. Darian had to be severely encouraged to make it across the log, and he crawled on his hands and knees the entire way. He was so proud when he made it across that I could almost talk him into trying it again. But not quite. Next time!

Now, as per usual, here’s my stab at this week’s menu.

  • Monday Burrito bowls: Ground beef seasoned with salsa & cumin, pre-fab rice, black beans, lettuce, tomato, guacamole, sour cream, shredded cheese, and salsa. Not necessarily in that order. Garnished with a few tortilla chips. Carrot sticks on the side for the picky kid who doesn’t like fresh tomatoes.
  • Tuesday Sticky orange/teriyaki chicken drumsticks (baked then coated in the thick sauce just before serving), fried rice, potstickers, green beans.
  • Wednesday Junk food night because it won’t affect the kids! Darian is over at Kimathi’s house for dinner, so we’re having frozen pizza, nachos, and salad. And probably Easter candy for dessert.
  • Thursday Baked fish & shrimp, home made tartar sauce, creamed spinach, garlic bread made with leftover rolls from Easter feasting
  • Friday Sweet chili chicken, terikayi/peanut butter rice noodles with mixed veggies, sauteed broccoli, quick pickled cukes, carrots, and onions on the side, cilantro for garnish. Inspired by my beloved lettuce wraps from The Cheesecake Factory, but made at home to avoid the expense.
  • Saturday Date night! My sweetie is taking me out somewhere, he just doesn’t know it yet. If that fails, I’ll probably make coconut chicken curry again. I could easily eat this twice a week, and there won’t be any kids to complain when I make it as spicy as it should be!
  • Sunday Fancy Italian-American style dinner:
    • Cheese tortellini with pesto
    • Baked chicken “parmesan”: chicken thighs sauteed, then topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and a mix of panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, italian breadcrumbs, and melted butter. Broiled on low til breadcrumbs are golden
    • Fresh baked bread, served with garlic/herb infused olive oil for dipping
    • Sauteed Brussels sprouts with garlic

I’m sure by Saturday I’ll be itching for another adventure with the boys. What’s your favorite way to get out and do something in the Spring?

Focus vs distraction

What you focus on expands. What you focus on grows. – Author unknown.

That’s probably paraphrased, because Google was no help. I’ve seen this on vision boards and Pinterest, and it has stuck with me.

So how do you keep yourself from feeling perpetually distracted? Feeling pulled in many directions? How do you pick what to give your focus, and after you decide, how do you stick to it? I hope some of you have some answers to share. My solution for the time being is to start running outside again vs the dreaded treadmill, try to be present and thankful, and keep up this whole meal plan routine.

  • Monday Faux Chicken Parmesan-sautéed chicken, pasta, and red sauce combined & topped with toasted breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Served with asparagus.
  • Tuesday Personal sized meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans.
  • Wednesday Coconut milk curry chicken & veg (onions, garlic, celery, carrots, snow peas) over rice, garnished with fresh cilantro.
  • Thursday Brats. I’m going to try my hand at homemade brat buns, but I’m a bit skeptical about getting it to be the right size. Sides of buttered corn on the cob, and broccoli slaw with shredded cheddar cheese, apples cut into match sticks, balsamic dressing.
  • Friday Smoked beef sausage (sliced & seared) with peppers/onions/garlic (pan deglazed with beef stock, add butter and stir/reduce to make a sauce), toss in penne pasta & season with salt & pepper. Sauteed broccoli on the side.
  • Saturday Greek Chicken Salad! This is finally happening again, and I am so very excited. Sauteed chicken thigh with lemon pepper seasoning/garlic, rice with lemon/dill/feta, roma tomatoes, cukes, quick picked thin sliced red onion, and pre-fab greek dressing. Topped with more feta & pita chips for croutons. Prep for Easter dinner.
  • Sunday Easter feasting. Brunch with all the fixns. Dinner with extended family.