Category Archives: Kids & Family – Musings

A visual tour of our latest meals

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Okay – so sitting down to type up a post just has not happened.  I have been sick lately – not just with a cold, but beyond normal.  I thought I had mono (nope) and am just ready to be able to take a full breath again.  I’m so tired, but life just does not stop when Mom is tired….or grades are due…or … well, you already know.

So rather than a recipe, here’s a visual tour of all the things I *thought* I was going to be able to write up, but just haven’t had a moment to catch my breath (or the physical ability to catch my breath – LOL) lately.

Which one interests you?  What are you making now that Fall is here?

Some curly pasta caught my eye. Stir-fried with garlic, chicken, and veggie? Done. And quick too.

Blanced giant collard green paddles, stuffed with ground turkey, rice and veggies and topped with enchilada sauce before baking a bit more. A veggie packed dinner punch for sure!

Last minute garlic bread. Seriously. From idea to the table in 35 minutes or so. Hot dog! It’s definitely modified, but this working woman is keeping this idea in the mix!

This Pinterest-inspired dish is great. I mixed a ton of veggies into the dish and will absolutely eat this again and again. YUM.

Breakfast burritos are so much faster now – Thank you, Rudy’s! I can make a huge batch, wrap and freeze. Then reheat in the microwave on my way out the door in the morning.

I’ve been working on a new GF bread recipe – and converting some of my favorites for the bread maker. Honestly, I’ve realized I just don’t eat that much sandwich bread any more. But I LOVE having the breadcrumbs on hand for fish, chicken, etc. :D

Making fancy potatoes for the girls “Princess dinner” – easier with a great pair of squared-off chopsticks as cutting guides. Don’t slice all the way through, just down until about 1/3-1/2 inch. Then slightly separate the potatoes when placing in the baking dish and drizzle with butter, season to your desired levels and top with some great chopped parsley.

Currently, I have a fresh, whole pumpkin sitting on our counter.  It came with our CSA pick up.  I have delicata squash, carrots, beets, rainbow chard, purple cabbage, celeriac, etc.  Missing is the time to explore/experiment.  Most of what we eat is stir-fry as it is so easy to chop up the veggies we have on hand and munch.

But last night I made some yummy tortilla soup – another family favorite way to use a ton of veggies.

Winter is really just starting around here now.  The dark, cold mornings are upon me.  Seems like just last week the sun was shining on my way in to work and on my way home.  I think I need to learn how to make some tasty gumbo this winter.  Anyone have a recipe they recommend?  :D

Happy GF Eating All –

Kate

Gluten free weeknight meals & budgeting

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So this blog post should really be a post of the numerous ways the month of September has come and is exiting before my head has been able to wrap itself around it all.  Surely I am not the only mom who finds herself witnessing myself both coming and going in the middle of the dark of night, right?

My new purse is even sporting some tag-along buddies.  I don’t think I go anywhere any more without things packed into my purse that aren’t really mine.  And despite the extra poundage, I wouldn’t really change the rest of it.

Now THIS is a MOM purse

Well, maybe I’d change my sleep schedule:  to bed late (or early) and it takes me forever to fall asleep and up no later than 5AM or we are ALL off late for the day already.  A change with these hours would be helpful, but I honestly don’t see that happening anytime soon.  Teaching doesn’t end with the kids leave… or even when my kids finally crash and go to bed.  (PS…they have been in bed for 45 minutes now… and the Chicklet just asked via the monitor “Hey Mom, what’s my cake going to look like?”  “Your cake?”  “Yes, for my birthday.”  “Babe….your birthday is in May.  It’s September. We have a while to think about it, okay?” = this is the kind of thing that never ends around here….LOL)  Evidence:  apple slices + goofy face photos…despite a few attempts we don’t have ONE photo for BOTH smiling nor BOTH making a goofy face at the same time.  Egad.

Apple slices + goofy faces

So I decided to share my working mom “Sanity Saver” meals.  I’ve been asking and posting here when I thought my world was careening off track, but seldom have I posted when I have done it right (finally) for a month.  I challenged myself this month to get the meals down and stick to them.

Next month, I am challenging myself to:

  • only go to the grocery store every 10 days to 2 weeks
  • STICK to my grocery budget – and SAVE every penny that I don’t spend in an account for a family trip
  • stick to my meal plan (come high water or sleep exhaustion)
  • stick to a reduced (extremely) budget for “eating out”

Seriously.  I’m starting at ZERO here people.  There is only room to grow, right?

Some of you are experts at all of the above (budgeting, time-management, meal-planning, saving (!), etc) but these are things I tend to stick to for a short time and then meander down some random thought-path-etc and I blow it.  We have had TWO four-day vacations/trips in the last EIGHT YEARS of our lives.  (My Love does NOT get time off from work.)  But we’ve had SO much fun on these rapid-paced trips to see family (my parents/his parents) that we want to do it more often.  And now the girls have seen an ad for Disney Land and CarsLand.

Yeap.  My budget better get in gear.  NOW.

Want to follow along on my endeavor?  Care to add your two cents/tips?  I’d love to hear them!

Okay… enough meandering.  Some of you are just here for the list of my weeknight go-to meals.  Take note:  the meals on this list HAD to be able to be prepared and ready to go in under an hour (or toddler + mom meltdown ensures).  Well, here it is:

  1. fajitas (chicken or flank steak)
  2. enchiladas
  3. taco salad
  4. one-pot rice dish (random meat/tofu, rice, veggies – a la jambalaya)
  5. tarragon chicken tenders
  6. Bo-jay-fan (Chinese one-pot chicken/rice/sausage/mushroom)
  7. pork chops and apples
  8. steamed fish + tofu
  9. split pea soup (thank you crock pot)
  10. jambalaya
  11. quinoa salad (a la fried rice/couscous – NOTE couscous is NOT gluten free!)
  12. pasta salad (schars or jovial)
  13. parfait (yogurt + granola)
  14. pancakes (corn ones here) or waffles (to save time, i’ve made “waffles” in a panini pan with pancake batter )
  15. chicken chili
  16. mongolian beef (marinate night before or immediately upon returning home for 45 min at least)
  17. spaghetti (schars, jovial or homemade on the weekend)
  18. lasagna (no boil/lazy method – make ahead, pop in oven)
  19. pot pie (make ahead OR make muffin-sized (lunch/dinner) OR make with crescent roll dough  for last minute)
  20. roasts (pork loin is our favorite as faster than whole chicken, etc)
  21. meatballs and mashed/roasted potatoes
  22. kebabs
  23. tortilla española (potatoes, eggs, onions, seasoning) – leftovers are great lunches too
  24. shrimp and grits
  25. chicken marsala
  26. risotto
  27. lettuce wraps
  28. migas
  29. corned beef (crock pot or reheat after cooking on Sunday), roasted cabbage
  30. curried chicken
  31. beef and broccoli
  32. spicy green beans and tofu
  33. arroz con pollo
  34. baharat chicken or lamb
  35. chowder (Chinese corn, OR salmon/fish, etc – whatever you got and put it in a pot!)
  36. arepa sandwiches
  37. jibaro sandwiches (plantains, flank steak, etc)
  38. burgers (bean or beef) (speedy buns – done in the oven while I grill/cook burger or pao-d-quejo buns – quick too!)
  39. beef stroganoff but served over rice, mashed potatoes, steamed cauliflower/broccoli in lieu of noodles
  40. teriyaki chicken (or whatever is on hand)
  41. quiche
  42. fried rice
  43. ….leftovers!  (the great list ender…I try to use up leftovers for lunch, but often there is a bit more)

I hope this list helps someone else pull a menu plan together.  My trusty purple spiral bound notebook and I roam the aisles of the grocer trying to make sure I have it all together.  Maybe that will be what I share next?  Ay!  Who knows!

Hopefully now that I am getting my feet under me at school the next blog post won’t be delayed as long as this one has been.  I’m sorry – and THANK YOU for sticking with me.

Happy GF Eating 
~Kate

Strawberry ice cream, snowmen and power-outages = the week + that was

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UPDATE:  1-25-2012

I started writing this post a few days ago – Like the first day we got power back (Monday night)… and then we lost power again and the post never got finished.  And then it came back…. but as I was writing, the power went out again.  This morning, I’m at home with two girls who could not go to daycare (no heat/no electricity/no water there) and our power has been on most of the day.  A few outages – for an hour here and there (EEK) which come when least anticipated and right when I’m lulled back in to living life normally again (as in:  doing laundry, trying to bake bread (in the electric-heated oven), etc.).  It’s amazing how dependent our lives are on electricity.  To be honest, I truly missed the heat… that was primary.  And then the thoughts of the refrigerator came next as the power outage looked to have no end.  Now?  Now we have both:  heat and the refrigerator.  Well, *right now* we do.  So I’m hitting POST on this update….. please forgive the typos if you find them.  (There are always some.).  But more than anything, thank you for the kind emails, loving thoughts and prayers for everyone in the PNW hit by this wild week.  Last night some wicked winds blew through town and knocked out more power lines… but this morning when I awoke, I discovered that the winds must have been warm because magically the 9 inches of snow that were on my rooftop are nowhere to be seen…. AND you can drive on actual ROAD today on our street.  Not yesterday!  All things have their golden lining – and while it’s NOT fun being cold, it is what it is.  For now, I’m just happy to be warm and toasty.  Hope you are as well.      ~Kate

Original Post Entry – begun 1-23-2012

PLUGGED IN!

HEAT!

LIGHTS!

But no action – well, not the normal action anyway.  We’re wiped out.  The girls are tucked in their toasty little beds and we are catching up online with news, friends, email, etc.

Man, what a week!

What started as an innocent little snowstorm (and I LOVE SNOW), turned in to a nightmare.  I think we would have toughed it out differently had we not had the munchkins in tow.

I had planned to cook/bake and build a freezer – but instead, I figured out the gluten free emergency route.  I’m glad I had many years of practice under my belt – because it would NOT have been fun without being able to figure stuff out on the fly.  I think I will have to gather my thoughts better to really write about what building a GF Emergency pack might look like.  In my case, I was feeling SUPER fortunate that we could cook at home (gas cooktop) and I had things on hand that merely required hot water.  But more on that later.

The girls made their first snowman.  (If you can call a 30 inch high, squashed-little thing a “snowman”).

And through them, I remembered the sheer delight of snow-suits….and how tipping over often meant the need for help from someone who could actually USE their arms and legs with normal rotation.  Boy was it funny to watch them tumble over like turtles on their backs.  They cracked me up with their squeals of delight…and then wobbles with attempts to get up before succumbing to my offers of help.

Amd with this much snow?  How can you not squeal with delight if you are a kid!

And while tonight I’ve read about how “wimpy’ WA state is about the weather, may I just say this:  if you had the HUMUNGOUS Douglas Fir trees that I have in your backyard, you wouldn’t want them coated with 18 inches of snow and a half-inch of ice on top of that either.  The sound of cracking trees branches followed shortly by the giant THUD (or crash….like when it hits your house as it did ours (no damage, don’t worry), you would understand the freak out.

Oh yes, and they don’t plow here.  I have not yet figure that out yet – but here is a photo of our street from Sunday.  The last day it snowed?  LAST Wednesday.  The shoveled trench along the street was intended to help the water drain down the hill into the drains and avoid the impending floods that are bound to hit.  And see those giant snow-laden tree limbs?  Yea.  Those are the things that were hitting people’s houses.  Oh.  And POWER LINES.  (Our power went out last Thursday morning and was restored today (Monday) sometime around 8AM.)  Do you love the piles of snow in the street?  I measured today – a mere 12 inches of snow still mounded up on the street.  YUCK.

Here’s a shot of the ice that covered the trees.  These are the branches – normally high up, but they were so laden with ice and snow that they hung heavily down to the ground.  The apple trees draped itself over our garage and driveway… the maple tree drop its long limbs with a giant thud in the middle of the night next to the house and the giant fir trees in back (about 100+ feet at least) hand their limbs crashing down on us and smashing into the roof several times over the weekend.

If you’ve ever been in a car accident and *remember clearly* the sounds, then you know the horror of listening to giant trees as their limbs crack and rip off their trunks…and then crash and thud someplace nearby.  Like your roof … just feet above your head.  It’s scary.

Very.

So we jumped shipped and brought the Chicklet and the Peanut on their first hotel adventure.  They LOVED it.    Zoe loved finding the room numbers in the hallway and I’m certain that Rory now thinks ice makers are KING.  (Ours broke a couple of months back…ah well.)

I think beyond getting hotel rooms, the BEST thing we did was make David Lebovitz’s Strawberry-Sour ice cream.  It’s from his book The Perfect Scoop which I’m very happy to have.  I’m quite the ice cream purist – I think I prefer to alter my flavors with toppings, but I love a good strawberry ice cream.  And with the storm in sight, I’m glad I used up the last of our strawberries with the girls like this.

We altered the recipe – there was no way I was going out to the store (we couldn’t drive down the street until Friday…three days after it all began).  Instead of the Kirsch or vodka, I used a bit of Gran Marnier.  And I used 2% milk in place of the heavy cream.

It was SO easy to make!  Since his recipe is posted other places online (including the link above), I don’t feel badly reposting it.  He has an amazing blog of HILARIOUS adventures combined with fabulous food.  I find his directions easy to follow and easy to modify.

Here’s our “riff” (we changed oh-so-little!) on his Strawberry-Sour Ice Cream.  Maybe it will help you survive an adventurous week as well?

Strawberry-Sour Ice Cream

Original recipe by David Lebovitz

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup milk (recipe calls for heavy cream)
  • 1 pound of fresh strawberries, washed and hulled and sliced
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon vodka, Kirsch, gran marnier (OPTIONAL)

Directions:

  1. Mix together sliced strawberries, sugar and alcohol (if using).  Set aside – at room temperature – for an hour.  Stir occasionally.  Go out and build that snowman. :D
  2. Place the strawberry mixture into your food processor (or blender).  Add sour cream, milk and lemon juice.  Blend together until smooth (or leave a few strawberry pieces out and add them for some fruity pieces in your finished product).  Place into your fridge to cool – 30+ minutes.
  3. Add to your ice cream maker and proceed as directed.  (We use this one - which we bought on eBay ages ago for nowhere near the price listed on Amazon – so shop around, people.  And yes, you have to crank ours to make the ice cream.  I just store the insert in the freezer – ’cause ya never know when you will want to make ice cream and that piece has to be frozen for the thing to work.)