For Oven's Sake!

Let's get cookin' …with kids!

Guacamole Sammie

Guacamole Sammie!

A very filling vegetarian lunch!

You’re gonna need a fork.

Well, if you put an entire avocado’s worth of guacamole on one sammie anyway.  Let me explain…

All the stars aligned one day when I was returning from yoga class.  I had a jalapeno picked from the garden sitting on my counter next to a perfectly ripe avocado.  Cause you know…

Avocad-NOOO!  Too far gone! :(

Avocad-NOOO! Too far gone! 😦

I also had left over burger toppings in the fridge which happened to be a few slices of tomato and one perfect slice of onion.

Lastly, I had cilantro growing on the deck.

Nothin' like fresh cilantro!

Nothin’ like fresh cilantro!

On a side note, here are some fun facts about cilantro:

  • People who don’t like cilantro register it as a soapy taste. (I read that somewhere.)
  • Cilantro goes to seed really fast. (I learned that when I grew some last summer.)
  • If you trim it closer to the bottom before it gets too “feathery” you can keep it from going to seed a while longer. (The green thumb at our local farm store told me that.)
Trim and toss the

Trim and toss the “feathery” ones (they smell a little soapy to me), eat the others!

Oh!  Can’t forget the whole wheat bread, coarse salt, olive oil, and garlic that I almost always have in the kitchen!

Like I said, the stars aligned!

Like I said, the stars aligned!

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 jalapeno
  • a few sprigs of fresh cilantro
  • 2 slices of tomato
  • a ring of onion
  • 1 large (or 2 small) cloves of garlic
  • coarse salt
  • olive oil
  • optional: an extra slice of tomato and lettuce

Instructions:

1. Toast the bread.

2. Cut the avocado.

Cut the avocado. (Carefully, don't slice your hand on the other side!)

Careful! Don’t slice your hand on the other side!

3. Scoop it out with a big spoon and mash it with a fork.

4. Chop the cilantro and add it to the avocado.

5. Chop the jalapeno and remove as much or as little of the seeds and membrane as you want.  The more you leave in, the hotter it will be!

With this much of the insides left, it was just a tad spicy.

With this much of the insides left, it was just a tad spicy.

6. Chop the tomato and onion.

Chop the tomato and onion.

Add all three to the mashed avocado.

7. Now for the garlic…

Lay it on the cutting board.

Lay a big ol’ clove on the cutting board.

Rest a chef's knife on top of it.

Rest a chef’s knife on top of it, which works really well OR you could use something else if you’re afraid of cutting yourself.

Pound the knife.  Seriously, hit it hard on top of the garlic.

Pound the knife. Seriously, hit the flat side pretty hard on top of the garlic.

It will smash it and the skin just falls off of it!

It will smash it and the skin will practically fall off!

Mince it up.

Mince it up.

Sprinkle some coarse salt on it.

Sprinkle some coarse salt on it.

Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top.

Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top.

And then scrape your knife across it at this angle until a sort of paste forms.

And then scrape your knife across it at this angle until a sort of paste forms.

8. Stir all the ingredients together.

Stir all the ingredients together.

Yum!

9. Layer the guacamole on top of the toast.  If you want, add an extra slice of tomato and some lettuce!

Ooooh, fancy lettuce for a fancy sammie!

Ooooh, fancy lettuce for a fancy sammie!

10. Eat it.

Like I said, you're gonna need a fork.

Like I said, you’re gonna need a fork.

And quite possibly a sink to wash your hands.

And quite possibly a sink to wash your hands.

P.S. My kid cooks weren’t home this time, but if they were, I would’ve had them help…

Ideas to get your kid cook involved:

  • Pick, wash, and separate the cilantro.
  • Mash the avocado.
  • Mix the ingredients.
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Busy Week Meal Plan

IT’S BACK TO SCHOOL TIME!

We have a busy week ahead and I was looking for easy meals cause I know I’ll want to spend more time lovin’ on my boys than cooking at the end of the day!

So as I often do, I checked out my own blog for ideas while making the grocery list. (I started this thing as a creative outlet of sorts and it’s really become a useful tool for me!  I love when other people find something they like, but the truth is, I’d do this even if no one looked at it.  But since I know my mom will look at it – because she always does – here is what you should expect for lunches when you’re here with Danny this week, GranMart! Xoxo!)

By the way, this makes me laugh every time…

need-recipe-for-i-dont-know

Next time your family comes at ‘cha with that, check out the What’s Cookin’ Page.  I do… or I bring it up on my phone and hand it over to the hubs… “Pick a few.”

Anyway, back to the busy week meal plan…

Before dinner on Sunday, I’m going to make some shredded chicken in the crock pot to be used in a couple of the week’s meals.  Check out how on the Tips & Tricks Page.

I also plan on making Miami Muffins cause I happen to have all the ingredients and they’re tasty! Lastly, I’m going to try a new granola recipe (if it works, I’ll post it in the future, if not, I’ll return to the ol’ standby found here).

So quick breakfasts will be muffins and/or granola atop Greek yogurt. Lunches will be leftovers from the previous dinner, and dinner is as follows…

Meatloaf and mashed potatoes were made ahead.  Green beans were prepped and gravy was quick!

Sunday Dinner with the Grandparents

Meatloaf & Mashed Potatoes – these recipes are for make-ahead, which I’m not doing this time, but you could if you wanted to!

Good enough to eat on its own!

Monday

Caesar Chicken Sammies (using the chicken made on Sunday) with steamed broccoli

Possibly my favorite sandwich - a Georgia Reuben!

Tuesday

Georgia Reubens with Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella (one of the sides I make with Balsamic Lovers Summer Dinner)

Wednesday

Wednesday

BBQ Chicken Pizzas (again, using the chicken made on Sunday) with salad

Thursday - Leftovers (maybe Georgia Reubens minus turkey?)

Thursday – Leftovers

Left overs and/or something out of the freezer (I always plan this for Thursdays because we almost always have leftovers!  Once I started reserving a day to eat leftovers for dinner, we started wasting a lot less food!)  The picture is a leftover from the last time I made Georgia Reubens – the same sammie minus the turkey… equally delicious.

Friday

Take Out!  Probably Pizza Hut – with pepperoni, banana peppers, and onions.

There you have it… the plan for this busy week (to be referenced by myself the next time a busy week is on the horizon.) 🙂

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A Little Planning Goes a Long Way for a Week’s Worth of Dinners.

You know you’re a planner if you set the radio and/or air to your anticipated wants for the next time you plan on driving your car.

Or maybe that doesn’t make you a planner, maybe it makes you nuts. In which case, I’m nuts.

Anyhoo… my nutty behavior saves me some stress every now and again. One example is tonight at the grocery store.

I made a plan to go after bedtime.  I almost always take Ozzy to the grocery store with me, but with Thanksgiving just a few days away, I thought the grocery would be packed from open to close today and having been flicked off in the parking lot by a dad with who I assume was his preteen daughter in the car a few days before Thanksgiving while I was pregnant with Oz, I decided to spare my little guy the drama of pre-holiday shopping this year.

As it turns out, the grocery stores weren’t busy at all tonight. The snow must’ve been keeping people in. And though most of our grocery experiences are like this For Better or Worse comic, I sorta missed his squeal of delight when the little sprinklers turned on and it “rained” in the produce department.

Speaking of produce, I found that chopping it on Sunday for recipes through the week makes dinner a lot easier now that I’m back to work. It takes a little planning (there’s that nutty behavior again), but it has been well worth it so far!

This was my plan:

So this is what I did on Sunday…

First, I made chicken for the Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup and Beth’s Chicken Casserole.  I used the crock pot for this.  To see how, check out my Tips & Tricks page.

First, I made chicken in the crock pot.

I put the chicken for the casserole in a container, but before putting it in the fridge…

I did some chopping for homemade cream of mushroom/onion soup AND for the meatballs for the Stroganoff.

I even had some to freeze for next time.

I even had some to freeze for next time.

I used half of the cream soup for the Creamy Chicken Noodle…

...and mixed the rest with the chicken so it was ready to go for Wednesday!

…and mixed the rest with the chicken so it was ready to go for Wednesday!

Next up, more chopping!  Again, some for Creamy Chicken Noodle, some for Beth’s Chicken Casserole, and a few more (sans onion) for salads.

Celery, carrots, and onions, OH MY!

Celery, carrots, and onions, OH MY!

Next, I continued with the chopping.

I chopped onions and peppers so they were ready to go for Chili.

I chopped onions and peppers so they were ready to go for Chili.

While the Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup was simmering, I went ahead and made the meatballs.  I froze them because the ground beef was close to its overdue date.

First frozen on a cookie sheet, then placed in a sealable bag for easy storage in the freezer.

First frozen on a cookie sheet, then placed in a sealable bag for easy storage in the freezer.

While all this prep was going on, Ozzy made his first block car from start to finish all by himself!

While all this prep was going on, Ozzy made his first block car from start to finish all by himself!

And Danny went on an elephant hunt.  This is for sure his favorite toy so far!

And Danny went on an elephant hunt. This is for sure his favorite toy so far!

On Monday, I browned the meat, added the veggies, added the beans, spices, and tomato sauce and we had some chili! (Sorry, no pic of the process.)

On Tuesday, I chopped the kielbasa, fried it up, added sauerkraut and we ate it up! (Again, no pic!)

On Wednesday, I made the rice, mixed the ingredients, added the topping, and we had some yummy casserole!

Beth's Chicken Casserole Ingredients.

Beth’s Chicken Casserole Ingredients

On Thursday, I put the frozen meatballs in the oven, made some noodles, and sauce, and we had yet another yummy dinner.

Meatball Stroganoff ingredients

Meatball Stroganoff ingredients

On Friday, we had our choice of leftovers.  Another reason to love leftovers – you have a choice and it doesn’t have to be the same thing someone else is eating!

And here’s a recap:

Day 1: Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Day 1: Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Day 2: 20 Minute Chili with cornbread muffins

Day 2: 20 Minute Chili with cornbread muffins

Day 3: Kielbasa & Kraut

Day 3: Kielbasa & Kraut

Day 4: Beth's Chicken Casserole

Day 4: Beth’s Chicken Casserole

Day 5: Meatball Stroganoff

Day 5: Meatball Stroganoff

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Homemade Tomato Puree

Between my grandma’s, my father-in-law’s, and my own tomato plants, we had a lot of tomatoes to use!  I decided to make tomato puree for homemade chili.  Josh is going to perfect his recipe this Fall and hopefully we can share it with you!  Anyway, this is how I made the puree…

Step 1:

Cut out the stem and cut an "X" in the bottom.

Cut out the stems and cut an “X” in the bottom of each.

Step 2:

Boil them in a pot of water for a minute or two until you see the skins start to peel away.

Boil them in a pot of water for a minute or two until you see the skins start to peel away.

Step 3:

Use a slotted spoon to move them from the pot to a bowl of ice water.

Use a slotted spoon to move them from the pot to a bowl of ice water.

Step 4:

After a minute or two, peel the skins off.  They come off really easily!

After a minute or two, peel the skins off. They come off really easily!  Have your kid cook help!

Step 5:

Cut them in half or quarters (depending on size) and use your thumbs to squish out the seeds.

Cut them in half or quarters (depending on size) and use your thumbs to squish out the seeds.  This is a messy job, but definitely one a kid cook would enjoy!

Step 6:

Discard the seeds and place the "meat" of the tomatoes back in the emptied pot.

Discard the seeds and place the “meat” of the tomatoes back in the emptied pot.

Step 7:

Smash the tomatoes with a potato masher (or a fork if you don't have one).

Smash the tomatoes with a potato masher (or a fork if you don’t have one).  A kid cook could definitely help here, too!

Step 8:

Use an immersion blender to blend it into the consistency you want.  If you don't have one, use a food processor, or you can just continue to smash with a potato masher or even a trusty old fork!

Use an immersion blender to blend it into the consistency you want. If you don’t have one, use a food processor, or you can just continue to smash with a potato masher or even a trusty old fork!

Step 9:

Store it in the fridge until ready to use.  PLEASE NOTE: this does not meet canning requirements.  I don't know about all that... maybe some day!

Store it in the fridge until ready to use.
PLEASE NOTE: this does not meet canning requirements. I don’t know about all that… maybe some day!

Step 10:

Use in your favorite tomato recipe, such as chili!

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Introducing Tips & Tricks!

Our contribution to tonight's Sunday Dinner!

Our contribution to tonight’s Sunday Dinner!

Sunday dinners started when my mother in law was diagnosed with breast cancer. We decided to cook for her each week. Sometimes that meant taking mild food like Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup and grilled cheese over to their house. Other weeks they came to ours. She was diagnosed 2 years ago this month and thankfully she has been cancer-free for over a year!

These days not only do my husband’s parents come over, but mine join us as well. Josh says that at least something good came out of his mom having cancer – our sons see their grandparents every week! You should hear Ozzy’s excitement when they pull in the driveway!

For tonight’s dinner, my in laws brought tabbouleh along with some other Lebanese leftovers from a family get together they had earlier in the day. My parents brought chocolate chip cookies and we made BBQ ribs, corn on the cob, and baked potatoes. I didn’t really use a recipe for tonight’s dinner, but I did use a few good tricks… Introducing the “Tips & Tricks” page!

To see tonight’s tricks and a few others, click on “Tips & Tricks” to the right.

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