Happy Halloween!

I like Halloween.  I like it a lot.  I don’t like handing out candy, though.  I always feel like I have to compliment the little trick or treaters and nine times out of ten, they don’t respond to any questions, comments or compliments.  It ends up being an awkward silence after my forced enthusiastic “Oh my!  Look at you!  Aren’t you a pretty princess!  Where is your prince?”  Silence, accompanied by little outstretched arms holding a plastic pumpkin waiting for that fun sized Snickers to be dropped in.  After a few seconds of awkwardness while the other kids try to edge their way to the front in the hopes of avoiding talking to the weird lady handing out candy, I close the door and declare to Ryan “You’re getting the next one.”  And inevitably, “someone’s” bladder turns into the size of a dust speck and is conveniently unavailable for the next group of kids.   

Now that we have our own kids, there is no more handing out candy.  I put a bowl of candy out, but I make sure we are gone until all the trick or treaters are back in the comfort of their own homes swapping candy with their siblings and reluctantly handing over “just one” of the good candy bars to their parents to make sure there are no razor blades in it.

Tonight the whole family is dressing up (pictures to come later) and we will tour the neighborhood, collecting delicious morsels of chocolate, sugar, nugget and the like until someone has a meltdown or until one of the kids gets the crap scared out of them by an overzealous homeowner who isn’t good at recognizing the age of his audience.  I’ll put my money on Rory for both instances.  I may keep a tally of how many times I hear “Mommy, that scares me!” from my little boy.

Here is a collection of our costumes over the years.

Super Girl and Mummy

Ron Burgundy and Tits McGee  (This wasn’t Halloween, but too good not to include)

Cowgirl and her pony.
Baby Elephant
The Statue of Liberty

A little bigger baby elephant.
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You Sound Like An Idiot

I was just perusing the internet and came across a comment that someone left on Facebook.  The comment said “That picture is adorbs.”  Seriously?  Adorbs?  I don’t understand why shortening words, typically adjectives, is now in vogue.  Below are the recent word shortenings that have got me all worked up:
Adorbs – this definitely tops the list.  If anyone says this to me I may lose it. 
Totes – a VERY close second
Obvs
Lates
Brutes

The only acceptable one for me right now is ridic.  For two reasons – 1) It doesn’t end in an “s” (more on that in a minute) and 2) this has been kind of an ongoing joke with Ryan and his friend Zach at my brother-in-law’s expense…all in good fun of course.

So back to this “s” thing.  It’s not cute.  I hate when people use incorrect English.  Yesterday, when we were walking through the mall, a woman walking next to me, Rory and Kamryn said she liked Rory’s shoes and that she just “seen” them on the East Coast.  Grrrr.  You didn’t seen anything!  You SAW them!  We also wasn’t going anywhere…we WEREN’T going anywhere. 

Please, friends, I implore you, do not try to start a new vernacular.  Let’s just stick with what we have.  I seem to be able to effectively get my point across without shortening my adjectives and making them plural – I suggest you attempt to do the same.

A Finished Project

I have been starting a lot of projects lately, but have yet to finish one in quite some time.  The last one I successfully completed was the little flower paint chip pictures that I put in Kamryn’s room. 
One thing I have wanted to do for awhile is the yarn covered letters.  I finally bought an “R” and a “K” for about $.50 each last week.  I have a couple of little skeins of yarn that I really couldn’t do anything with so this seemed like a good project to use them.  I also just found my glue gun and it has been all hot and bothered and ready to get it’s glue on.  

Today was the day!  I thought for sure once I plugged in my $4.99 glue gun that I bought about 10 years ago, it wouldn’t work, but that little sucker heated up in record time.  I didn’t take a picture of the before, so here is the after.
I liked the finished product – I even added a little bead bling to the corner.  
It is kind of covering a little inconsistency in the yarn, but I felt like the “K” just needed a lil sumpin’ sumpin’. (I googled that phrase to see how you spell sumpin’.  That was not only the most popular spelling, it’s also a beer that I think I might like.)

So here I was, admiring my yarn letter and while I think it’s OK for my first attempt, it still seemed kind of small and lonely.  It’s only about 8 inches (that’s what she said) so it would look weird hanging on the wall unless I put a bunch of other K’s around it, which is an idea I like, but something I’m not going to do right now.

I had found this “K” on Let Birds Fly and when I scrolled down to the bottom of the post, I saw this.
My Inspiration Photo
This was one of those moments that I swear you probably could have seen the light bulb pop up above my head.  I don’t mean to build this up because I’m sure it’s going to be pretty anticlimactic, but here is the finished product.
“K”, string butterfly with beads and pom-pom.
I thought of putting a picture of Kamryn in there, but I was getting a little lazy and didn’t want to find a suitable picture that would fit.  Plus, I was having way too much fun with my glue gun to just stick a picture on there.  

Monday Menus

Hang on to your hats – I have some new recipes!!  Everything I made this week was really good and nothing took longer than 30 minutes in prep time.  The meatloaf recipe took a long time to cook, but still came in under the 30 minutes in preparation. 

Monday:  We had leftover pizza and braised pork from Saturday and Sunday. 

Tuesday:  Jalapeno Rosemary Alfredo – this sounds strange, but it was goooo-ood.  My only complaint was that it could have been just a tad more spicy.  I think the cream really cuts into any heat so if you aren’t a fan of hot, but like some extra flavor, this is for you.  I may add another jalapeno the next time I make it or use a serrano pepper instead.

Wednesday:  Marinated Grilled Shrimp, Kale Chips & Asian Salad – I was starting to feel about shrimp the same way I feel about chicken breasts.  I would make it and while it wasn’t bad, it definitely wasn’t what I consider good.  With both proteins we would bake, grill, throw into sauces with pasta, etc.  However, with every meal, the chicken and shrimp seemed to lose just a little more flavor.  A couple of years ago I discovered brining and my whole world changed – at least in regards to eating chicken.  Seriously – brine the shit out of your meat.  I always thought it was some huge process, but it isn’t and it makes a HUGE difference in the taste of the meat.  My brining rant has nothing to do with this recipe, but is just a friendly tip.  So back to the shrimp.  It’s marinated, something I had never done before and again – super good!  I was a little too lazy to grill the shrimp, so I just threw the little marinated crustaceans in a pan and cooked them in the marinade on the stove.  The basil is key in this and made it taste very Thai-like.  Here is my recipe for Kale Chips.  If you have never had these, they are delightful, but they do get stuck in your teeth so not ideal for a social event.  I think they taste like roasted broccoli, which I happen to love. 
2 bunches of kale
olive oil
season salt – like Lawry’s
Heat your oven to 425.  Tear your kale up into pieces.  Pull the leaves off of the thick main stem.  The little stems that branch out into the leaf are fine, unless they are really thick, then you may want to pull that stem off too.  Wash and thoroughly dry all the kale in a salad spinner or whatever other green drying mechanism you use.
Place your pieces of kale in a single layer on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.  Drizzle with a little olive oil.  If you get too much, it will be soggy and greasy.  I probably use 1/2 a tsp per baking sheet.  Sprinkle with season salt – again, not too much and then toss it all together and redistribute in a single layer on the pan.  Throw it in the oven for about 8 min or until crisp and enjoy!  Two bunches of kale made 4 different batches.

Kale before baking.
After baking.

The Asian Salad was one of the Dole Salad Kits.

Thursday:  Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf – this was so good.  It didn’t taste like turkey at all.  It was very beefy tasting.  The only thing I did differently with this recipe was to cook the quinoa in chicken stock because I had some left over that I needed to use, I doubled the recipe and doubled the cooking time.  Raw ground meat of any kind makes me gag so I may overcook my burgers, meatloaf or any other ground meat entrée – you may want to take that into consideration with your cooking time.  If you haven’t had quinoa yet, you need to get your hands on this little baby grain!  It’s one of my favorite side dishes and it’s really good for you too. 

That’s over 2 lbs of meatloaf right there!

Friday:  We had leftover meatloaf – it was even better the next day. 

Saturday:  Sliders – no recipe, just little hamburgers with fries.

Sunday:  Leftover sliders. 

Monday Menus X2

I should have never said I was going to post menus every Monday.  I have been living my last 2 years with no deadlines whatsoever and suddenly adding one task, regardless of its simplicity, throws me into a frenzy.  Not really, but I felt like there was something hanging over my head for the last couple of weeks.  So I’m officially saying I may not post a menu every week, but I will give you two weeks worth today.

Monday:  Pizza  This one was a little different.  I double this recipe and usually make 4 pizzas.  This time, I did double it, but used whole wheat flour instead of bread flour and it didn’t turn out well at all.  The dough didn’t rise and it was really dense.  Of course we still ate it, but it wasn’t very good.
Tuesday:  We had a dinner playdate at a friend’s house and I brought dessert.  I made the Magic Cookie Bars without nuts because we have a friend with a severe peanut allergy and because walnuts are gross.
Wednesday:  Chicken Cordon Bleu  This turned out way better than I thought it would.  I even took a picture! 

We never have toothpicks so I had to use Christmas drink skewers.  They have bells on the end.

Thursday:  Tacos – nothing fancy at all.  Store bought shells, turkey with the regular taco seasoning and all the regular taco toppings.
Friday:  Cream of Potato Soup  This was good, but really rich.  I used the cream base recipe in the link and then cut up 4 baked potatoes and a bunch of scallions to add to it.  One thing I changed was using 1/2 skim milk and 1/2 half and half.  I didn’t think the skim milk would thicken the way I wanted it to, but the half and half was almost too rich.  I think 2% milk would be perfect.  We had cheese and bacon for toppings.
Saturday:  We didn’t really eat dinner.  We were watching our beloved Hawkeyes at a local Iowa bar and ate bar food late in the afternoon so it kind of stuck in our guts for the rest of the day.
Sunday:  In-N-Out  It was Kamryn’s birthday so she got to pick the food for the whole day.  No complaints from this corner!

And for week #2
Monday:  Meatloaf  I made this in the crockpot.  I actually used beef instead of turkey this time and bought a seasoning packet.  I usually just make up my own, but I wanted to try it.  Those seasoning packets are really salty.  Anyway, I mixed it all together, threw it in the crockpot for 5 hours on low and it turned out pretty well – just a bit too salty so I probably won’t use it again.
Tuesday:  Big Salad  This is exactly what it sounds like.  If you are still unclear what this is, there is a whole Seinfeld episode about it.  It’s not a regular salad, it’s a big salad.
Wednesday:  Beef and Veggie Stirfry  This is one of our go-to meals when we don’t know what to make.  It’s cut up beef and frozen vegetables in a stirfry sauce with rice. 
Thursday:  Marinated Grilled Tuna with mango salsa  I don’t really follow the recipe too closely – more just the idea.  I used yellow fin tuna instead of mahi mahi, but I did follow the marinade recipe.  I passed on the coconut rice since we had stirfry the day before and the mango salsa I just threw together on my own.  I cut up cilantro, mango, tomato, red onion and squeezed some lime juice in it. 
Friday:  Jersey Mikes It was supposed to be the baked potato bar, but it was kind of hot that day so it didn’t sound real appetizing and since I didn’t have a back up, we got subs.
Saturday:  Braised Ribs with White Beans and Fresh Herbs  This is one of my all time favorite recipes.  It is pretty involved, but it is well worth it.  I have made it with fresh herbs and with dried and I think I  prefer the dried herbs.  I also like to double the beans.  It’s really filling and pretty cheap to make. 
Sunday:  Pizza  Same recipe as above, but I’m back to using bread flour. 

I know this is probably not the norm, but my kids eat all of the stuff I make.  Fish is a tough one, but tuna really does taste a lot like chicken.  Kamryn is a much better eater than Rory, but he surprises me every once and awhile and likes something that I don’t think he will.  However, that being said, I refuse to make a separate meal for the kids.  They aren’t required to clear their plates, but they have to at least try what I make.  And I usually have at least one side dish that I know they like.  Afterall, I remember my mom making liver when we were kids and we either ate it, or didn’t eat.  She wasn’t making an extra pot of mac and cheese for me and my brother.

I’m not chastising anyone for making your kids extra meals, I’m just lazy.

Monday Menus

Soooooo, after committing to post a menu for the week on each and every Monday, I’m already slacking.  However, I was thinking about it and while I do still plan on posting my menu, I’m posting last week’s menu.  That way I can give you all my very important and useful reviews of the recipes.

Last week we were out of town for a portion of the week and I didn’t actually cook the entire week.  Here are the meals I did cook.  I planned on cooking 6 nights and spent a total of $89 at the grocery store for the recipes.  Although $89 is probably the least amount I have spent in a long time for a week’s worth of groceries, I was a bit lazy with a couple of items and I could have gotten it under $80 if I would have gone to Target.  I bought Cream of Tarter to make playdough at home which cost me $4.99 and I bought my shampoo at the store too because we literally had zero shampoo left.  I buy cheap shampoo anyway, but it cost me about $4.00 more than I usually spend. (I use Suave.)

Enough of my gibberish about shampoo – let’s get to the menu!  Please try and contain your excitement.
Monday: We ate some delicious Thai food on our way home from the airport.

Tuesday:  Spaghetti – No big secret to this.  Just ground turkey, store bought sauce and whole wheat noodles.  This is really the only pasta dish where I like the whole wheat noodles.

Wednesday:  Connie’s Zucchini Patties – This recipe claimed that these were just like eating crab cakes without the crab.  Uh, I’ll be the judge of that, Connie.  I doubled the recipe which used about 8 zucchini and I shredded them with a really fine shredder.  I don’t know if I can say these were just like eating crab cakes, but they did not suck!  They were really good.  The kids liked them too.

Thursday:  French Dip – This is just delicious.  You don’t even need to make sandwiches, you could just eat the roast, but I enjoy a nice French Dip.  I added a cut up onion and another can of broth to make some extra sauce.  You likka the sauce?  The sauce is good!  I give you more sauce.
 
Friday:  Chili – It’s Ryan’s recipe and it’s undocumented.  One secret is cutting up some chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  DO NOT USE THE WHOLE CAN.  I REPEAT, DO NOT CUT UP THE WHOLE CAN.  It will be a double burner, if you know what I mean.

Saturday:  Open Face Sandwiches – I used the left over roast, made some mashed potatoes and gravy and put it all on good old fashioned white bread.

Sunday:  We made a chicken run to El Pollo Loco.