Tuesday, March 30, 2010

a little taste of my own medicine...

I love to cook and create yummy foods. It's fairly easy for me to combine a few recipe ideas, delete some ingredients, add a tad of this, and a pinch of that and wind up with a unique dish. Recipes are generally considered ideas in my book. Now, I do sometimes follow recipes if it is something I've never made before and always if it's something baking related. However, the rest is just fair game. Some meals have been wonderful and some have been "eh" at best. The thing that drives Mike crazy is that I often don't make the exact same thing twice. If he really loves something he wants to have it again. However, it might not come out the exact same way! I have gotten better and when I find a winner I do try to make note of what I did....you know, before I forget. (which some days can be frighteningly quick! Anyone else out there finding their memory getting shorter??)

Another problem is sharing recipes with friends. Some are much easier to share than others. However, it tends to be the "little bit of this, a little bit of that" recipes that get requested the most. UGH! It's frustrating on my part to want to share with them and having to exercise my brain as I figure out how to explain what I did. Of course, I never really considered the frustration on their part. That is until this......


The other day I was planning to make roasted potatoes as part of our dinner. I had been using a seasoning blend that K had put together from an Emeril cookbook that she borrowed from the library. The cookbook had been returned and I realized that I had never copied the recipe. Well, now the mix was gone and I was going to just have to wing it.

K said she would take care of it. Next thing I know spices are flying...and she is creating her very own "a little bit of this and a little bit of that" recipe. I know some of the stars in the mix were celery seed, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, thyme, dill weed, chili powder, Hungarian paprika, salt, and pepper.

The potatoes turned out "oh so delicious". However, I can't ask K for the recipe.

That frustrates me!
(and oddly pleases me at the same time)

Yes, my very own daughter is giving me a little taste of my own medicine.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Menu Plan Monday


Thinking ahead and planning meals is a real timesaver for me. Unfortunately, I don’t always follow through every week. On the weeks that I don’t have a plan, I find myself totally uninspired by Wednesday. I also notice that I wind up wasting fresh produce because I never get around to using it all before it spoils and that frustrates me. So, I do always try to at least get a basic menu plan together.

This is what we'll be having this week. A few are new recipes and I included the links for you. Some recipes are really non-recipes and just involve me using what ever I have on hand, like our fried rice dinner. Some meal ideas are solely for me to use up something before it spoils, like our Monday dinner.

Monday:
Spaghetti with ramped up sauce
Big tossed salad (I have sprouts and lots of fresh veggies that need to be eaten!)

Tuesday:
Fried Cabbage and Noodles (a dish I learned from my Hungarian mother in law)
Fresh Fruit

Wednesday:
Broiled Sockeye Salmon with Citrus Glaze
Brown Rice
Roasted Broccoli (a family favorite)

Thursday:
Baked Chicken
Red Potato and Tomato Salad
Green Beans

Friday:
Fried Rice with veggies and leftover chicken
Fresh Pineapple
Potstickers

Saturday:
Eating out

Sunday:
Big Family Easter Dinner (final menu still in the works)

If you’d like to check out other menu plans and find some new recipes to try, check out the list over at I’m an Organizing Junkie. You’ll find hundreds of links to check out from fellow bloggers just from this week alone. Some menu plans are even gluten free or vegetarian. I like checking them out, especially if I feel I am in a cooking rut and need a little push. Have fun!

SMACK...

It seems that no matter how much you prepare yourself and no matter how rational you consider yourself, there comes a time when the fact that your children are growing up still sneaks up and smacks you along side the head. Now, this happens more than once in a lifetime...I can assure you of that fact. Yet, you never really get used to it or find yourself ready for the sting. It's funny that it doesn't even take much to trigger the smack. There is no need for a monumental life event, although those always tend to leave a little impression for you to rub later as you pout and accept the fact that yes, indeed they are growing up. You do not have to give permission or even accept the fact, but time marches on and you are powerless.

Fortunately, I tend to have what I consider a fairly healthy outlook on both life and my children growing up. I gave birth to them and invested time, love, direction and energy...lots and lots of energy....with one thing in mind, to raise them up to be adults. That was and is a large part of my purpose in their lives. We try to provide all the essentials and a firm foundation for them to build their lives on and we proudly step back as they flap their little wings and attempt to fly on their own.

Anyone with children knows that they flap those bitty little wings a lot and sometimes with such abandon that it's hard not to giggle. Along the way, they reach milestones and they show independence in ways that just take us by surprise. We look at them and wonder just how in the world they got to this point without us really noticing that it was coming. However, we embrace the fact that they are taking steps to adulthood, even if some of those steps may drive us insane. Laughter, tears and hair pulling (your own hair, not theirs!) are all considered normal on this journey.

Those little smacks upside the head could be triggered when your little one first sleeps through the night or when they head into a classroom without tears or perhaps when they make their own lunch. Even their growth can trigger one...like when you realize your little boy is now taller than you, or you are looking your daughter straight in her eyes without having to look down and she hasn't hit 11, yet. (yes, I speak from experience there!) Still, I find even the little innocent triggers still leave that temporary sting and shock, until you remember that it is OK and that life is marching on as it should.


So, what triggered my smack upside the head today? Oh, really it was nothing big. K came up to me with some wonderful smelling bath salts that she had just put together herself. I didn't even know she had pulled her spa kit out or was even thinking of making anything. However, she did it on her own and decided, of course, that a nice hot bath was in order. Then she told me that she thought candlelight would add some peacefulness and relaxation to her bath time.

SMACK

When did she grow up?

Fortunately for me, today the sting was lessened when she brought me the candle and the match. Apparently, I am still needed for some things and I am good with that.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ok, just maybe.....

I've always loved this time of the year. Finally, after months of blustery, cold, short days we get breezy, warm, longer days. What's not to like? It makes me so happy that I wind up getting this weird decluttering urge. It's time to throw open the windows, clear the cobwebs and make some space in your house!! I generally don't hold onto too many things and my mantra is "You can't organize CHAOS." I'll admit that wasn't always in my vocabulary, but years ago I discovered Flylady and she changed my way of thinking. It's incredibly freeing once you get her easy baby steps down pat.


Somehow, while it took me years to discover and embrace Flylady's concepts, I gave birth to a baby "Flygirl". Before she even knew how to read, she would grab something, hold it up to my face and say, "Do you NEED this, USE this, REALLY LOVE this?" If the answer was no, then the next action was simple....toss it or donate it. My little girl is tough.

K started getting on my case a few months ago about something she considers a
"problem" of mine.

I mean REALLY? A ten year old is going to uncover and counsel me through a
"PROBLEM" area?

Just who does she think she is?

Geesh...

I just have a little lotion for dry patches.

Everyone has a bottle....

...or two.


Hmm, well maybe I have a few more...

I know most of you have at least this amount. There is a need for different types of lotion ....right?

So, then you all understand that......

....this is NOT a problem. We have stuff for faces, body and even our feet.
All is well, right? There is no need for K to shake her head anymore. You all agree with me.
I can feel it.

Oh...you think that perhaps I'm holding out a little on you.

Would I do that?


Sigh....


Ok, just maybe I have a little bitty problem in this area.
(this doesn't count the purse size bottles I just remembered...)

You would think my skin would be SOFTER than a baby's bottom by now, but that would mean actually following through and USING the lotion. I never, ever finish a bottle!! (except for my Mary Kay stuff...I love my Mary Kay stuff!)

So, this does go against my mantra and the sweet K is right. I need to get a grip and use it or lose it. My plan is to start using it up and actually empty a bottle or two or six. No new bottles, not even the good smelling stuff, until I discard a few of these. I think two for one is a good goal. If I get a new one, two have to go. Since I'm also a frugal nut, that means I have to actually USE the stuff up first!! During this process if I uncover a miracle lotion, I'll report back. Promise!
I know that not everyone is blessed with their very own "flygirl", but take this week to really look around and see if you might have an area or two that needs to get under control. It's the perfect time of the year to take charge!!

If you do, don't forget to share your story. I'd love to hear about it.
(makes me feel better....)




Friday, March 19, 2010

Well, Hello Spring!


Yippee!!


Yes, it's that time of the year. I just love spring and for once our weather is cooperating. This weekend is supposed to be absolutely gorgeous. Which is perfect for a weekend of spring cleaning and free Rita's Italian Ice!! While I do feel bad for some that I hear are expecting....snow...tomorrow, I'll be doing a happy dance in the morning as we throw open the windows and shake out the cobwebs. (Don't hate me!!) Just look at my daffodils and repeat after me,


"Spring HAS sprung!!"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sharing my latest addiction with the world.....

Those that know me well or are connected to me on Facebook, probably already know that I fell in love with Thai Spring Rolls. Oh, yes I did! I fell head over heels in love....

I discovered them at a local restaurant over a year ago. They are refreshing and grease free because they are rolled in rice wrappers and served cold. The only thing cooked in them is the shrimp. They are served with peanut sauce for dipping. The best thing is when I discovered I can't have gluten or dairy, these things still made the cut!!

Well, they are $5 for two...so I don't get them as often as I want....esp. since someone else here likes them, so it always costs me $10 and then the other shorter someone says "Oh, I need the orange chicken because I don't like the rolls and you guys are going to eat in front of me and I just LOVE the orange chicken and I think I'll die without it and besides there is NOTHING at all here to eat...." <---she can say that in one breath!! Yea, good thing we only do this when the tallest someone is at work or I'd NEVER be able to afford them!!

About a month ago, I decided they are simple enough that I should just make them at home. Since I am eating gluten and dairy free, I've been craving these bad boys! So, we bought another round of them....um....for research purposes. Yep, they still looked as simple as they did the last time I got them. Off to the store, I went. I couldn't find the rice wrappers and our local oriental market shut down. However, son #2 works with the guys that make sushi at the seafood dept in Giant and they hooked me up. :)

I am in no way an expert on making these and still need to figure out exactly how to get them rolled a little tighter, but they do the job of holding my peanut sauce. Oh...and that brings me to another sticky point. I can't give you a recipe for a great peanut sauce, because I am still searching. I made one that inadvertently included wheat and gave me a roaring headache. Reminder...read ALL labels if you have a food intolerance. sigh.... I made another that was good...but not quite "it". I bought two different kinds...one was OK and the other was yucky(and I discovered ALSO had wheat). Why didn't I listen to my own reminder??? The past week I've made it twice and have been pleased with it. I can't tell you amounts, yet. I can tell you the ingredients, though. Oh...and I'm not being "stuck up" and not sharing the amounts with you until I get it "perfect!". Nope, I can't tell you the amounts because I have no clue. It's one of those "pour a little of this, sprinkle some of this, shake a little of that, and spoon a couple of these" deals. Sorry...


Some have asked me to share more on how to make these spring rolls....and I will do that. And I will tell you, this is just to be an "idea" kind of recipe. No need to follow exactly and it will be probably much better if you don't!



These are the rice noodles I picked up last time. You don't have to get these kind. Feel free to experiment, I know I will. They come dried and need to be soaked in some hot water. Then drain, rinse with cold water and I squeeze them dry. (not like a sponge...but just squeeze a bit of the water out or you'll have a big dripping mess)

Here are some cucumbers cut into little strips, some shrimp that I halved because they were kind of fat, the rice noodles and baby spinach. Usually I use Romaine leaves, but I was out and had a craving. I figure baby spinach is good for you and would fill in nicely. (it did!) You can also cut carrots into little matchsticks and use them. I have....but I was too hungry today. Some recipes call for adding some leaves of sweet basil, mint and cilantro.
I keep it simple.

Here is the rice paper I got.


The sheets are flexible, but still hold their shape until....


....you put them in warm water. You have to swish it around in the water and go by feel. You want to do one at a time and finish making your roll before you put another one in water. They soften up pretty quickly.

Lay your wrapper out and put some shrimp and cucumbers on it.


Add your greens and some rice noodles. (basically add whatever you are going to put in the roll)
Pull the wrapper (closest to the bottom of the picture) up and over the stuffing. Give it one roll and then tuck the ends in like when you make a burrito. Finish rolling and you should have something that looks like this...


Don't worry if you don't. I've eaten a few mistakes myself. Just plop them in a bowl and add some peanut sauce. It will be fine and no one has to know!!

The wrappers do break and get holes....they are thin skinned. Notice the little baby spinach stem that poked right through!


Here is the peanut sauce I just made. I poured it into my empty peanut butter jar for storing in the fridge. Pretty clever, huh?



As far as the sauce goes, I told you I would tell you what is in it. So, here you go....coconut milk, brown sugar, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, hot pepper flakes, ginger and peanut butter. There are recipes that call for other ingredients...but that is where I get in trouble with the wheat. So, I'm sticking with ingredients that I know I can have.



So, while it is not an exact recipe or "how to" post, it does give you an idea of a yummy lunch to make. Don't be afraid to play around with it and come up with your own combinations. You don't like shrimp? Skip it! You love lime? Drizzle a little on your shrimp or veggies.




Have fun and eat up!