Monthly Archives: December 2016

Friday Food Round-Up!

Happy last Friday Food Round-Up! of 2016.

As the year progressed, Marcus and I agreed it would be interesting to see how many new dishes we cooked this year.  So I scrolled through the entire set of recaps to see.  Basically I counted anything if it was an entirely new recipe and not if it was like “BBQ Chicken Tacos” instead of Normal Tacos or anything that we have ever cooked before in the history of the blog.  Our grand total?  59 RECIPES.  This simultaneously feels like a lot of new food and not very much considering the amount of time we now spend eating at home.  I am super proud of myself for accomplishing this feat and appreciative of Marcus giving me the time to cook dinner (or lunch or whatever).  It has allowed us to enjoy something from our pre-Critter life (dinner at the table) and it has absolutely allowed us to save money because we aren’t ordering takeout.  Has it been healthier?  Yes in the sense that we haven’t been eating super-processed food but it does look different in the sense that we eat a lot more carbs now.  Critter loves pasta and my relationship with salads is still fraught.

This week I made some artichoke dip for Christmas Eve festivities that never got photographed and we ate the following from the freezer: Chicken Wild Rice Soup, Enchiladas, Stacked Enchiladas, Goat Cheese and Asparagus Pasta. If you’re not freezing extra meals when you can (this really never mattered to us until we were parents) I cannot recommend it enough. 

Friday – Ahi Tuna Dip

This tuna was actually supposed to be more tuna bowls but then it wasn’t because we ended up having an impromptu family dinner at Smack Shack. So it became a late night munchie (that we paired with glasses of cheap champagne) after a few beers.  It’s actually modeled after a tuna-guacamole situation we discovered at Stella’s Fish Cafe probably eight or so years ago and it is 11/10 delicious.

Sunday – Bread Pudding

Basically, Jeanne mentioned a few weeks ago that she made this again and for some reason the Holy Spirit moved me to make it for Christmas Day.  I thought it would be a super great dessert for the annual fondue dinner, but Mom convinced me it would in fact be living its best life as a breakfast item and that it would be an excellent substitute for the annual Pillsbury orange cinnamon rolls.


It also gave me the chance to use a lot of bread that was hiding in our freezer and the 3 oz of dark rum that was in the basement from our engagement party like six and a half years ago. HEY.

Monday – Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping, Garlicky Wilted Spinach

Basically I still had one more bell pepper in the fridge to use and we needed to eat something healthy-ish after the Christmas festivities.

Thursday – Chicken Tacos with Black Beans, Cilantro-Lime Rice, and Guacamole

Now more than ever our house is not set-up for entertaining but we had some friends in-town and we felt like we had exhausted our sitter options for the week (we went out with my brother on Wednesday night) so dinner at our place!  Thankfully we had a ton of pre-marinated chicken and tortillas in the fridge so this was not a huge stretch.

Basically my theory on hosting others for dinner is this: make what you were going to make anyway. If you love it, they’ll love it too. And we had such a nice night with our friends. 

Reverb 16 | Prompt 27 | Gifts

Sarah and Kim have been sharing Reverb prompts and  Meredith and I are back in the saddle.  Because writing can be fun.  And we all have a lot to say.  Join us.

Gifts.  Sometimes we get gifts that we don’t want or need.  Are you honest with the person who gave it to you?  Or do your gift givers follow a tried-and-true wish list?  If you’re returning a gift this season, what is it and why?

Here’s the thing.

I do not come from a family of wild gift givers.  My Grandma Juaine was probably the most esoteric, yet passionate gift giver.  Her greatest hits including giving middle school-aged me an opera tape, my brother Billy a Power Ranger and my cousin Pete a ladies’ windbreaker.  These gifts were always accompanied by envelopes containing checks.  It was interesting, to be sure.  My cousins and I still laugh so hard we cry when we recall these Christmas scenes because every year it was something new and unpredictable.

I don’t know about you, but as an anxious gift-giver, whenever someone is opening something that I have given them, I am watching them Like A Hawk, waiting on pins and needles, hoping that they love it and if they don’t love it that they at least like it.

Anyone else here?

So I like to think that when I open gifts, hardened by years of training opening Grandma Juaine’s presents, I am able to apply the same level of enthusiasm that I hope to see in others.  That is to say, that I am an Expert Level Present-Facer.

If the gift isn’t perfect?  I hope you will never ever know.

In my linen closet, I have a gift basket that is (primarily) composed of candles and then an odd assortment of Things I Have Received That Were Nice But Not Quite Right For Me.  When Occasions pop up, more often than not I go through that gift basket first to see if some or all of the applicable gift exists in there and if it doesn’t (or it’s not quite enough!) I head out to complete it.

And if it’s just absolutely the wrong thing in every way?  I donate it without batting an eye.  There is surely someone else who needs it more.  I surely do not need more clutter in my house.

Reverb 16 | Prompt 26 | Boxing Day

Sarah and Kim have been sharing Reverb prompts and  Meredith and I are back in the saddle.  Because writing can be fun.  And we all have a lot to say.  Join us.

Boxing Day.  What does this holiday even mean?  I think Harry Potter does it.  But how do we unwind after the holiday?

Hey, happy Boxing Day.  How’s it going?

Once upon a time I would have told you that we spent the day watching movies, possibly making some time-intensive meal and fiddling with the presents that we received.  Maybe even some internet shopping just for the hell of it.  I hope that you enjoyed yours.  I really hope you did.

For us, that’s never happening ever again.

Last week, Marcus’ car decided that it was actually done with its time on this Earth.  We knew it would happen at some point but apparently mid-December was a bridge too far and so with the transmission repair worth more than the 10 year old sedan it was time to get a new (used) one.  Today he and Billy went off to observe their very first-ever Happy Honda Days and sourced the vehicle that they tentatively identified as The One last week.

We are of course so thankful to be able to get a car when we need it but that doesn’t make it any less of a fantastic hemorrhage of cash.

Meanwhile, on the home front we had to switch Critter to formula because mastitis completely killed my supply and there was no more milk in the freezer.  Seems pretty logical IMO.

After his first taste of formula, the little lad determined it was actually poison water and now he is terrified of his bottle, no matter what blend of formula or breast milk-formula or whole milk is contained therein.  So for the last 48 or so hours he has been on a quasi-hunger strike.  In an impressive feat he did manage to down 3/4 of an adult-sized bowl of chicken wild rice soup and an entire greek yogurt in one sitting but we are still BEGGING him to take literally any bottle. This is obviously very energizing because his patience level for anything is at zero and his righteous indignation about this life change is at 100%.

So this is me.  Unwinding.  We’ll give it another shot next year.

Reverb 16 | Prompt 19 | Little Ones

Sarah and Kim have been sharing Reverb prompts and  Meredith and I are back in the saddle.  Because writing can be fun.  And we all have a lot to say.  Join us.

Little Ones.  Whether you have kids of your own or not, there is likely a small person about who would like your attention.  Tell us about what the kids in your life are asking for this season.  Do you have any rules about how much to gift?

This is our first Hanukkah and Christmas with a little one.  Critter is too small to ask for anything.

I don’t know in what Pinteresting-place I saw the whole Something You Want, Something You Need, Something To Wear, Something To Read-thing but we pretty much tried doing that x2 this year to cover the eight days of Hanukkah.

What does that look like practically speaking?  Critter is getting a new set of swimming gear in the next size up, a fire truck, a xylophone, a drum, bath toys, and two Sandra Boynton books.

The whole extravaganza cost less than $100 and I paid for it using a stack of gift cards we had floating around.  We’re probably not the flashiest friends on your Facebook or Instagram feed this year and for a multitude of reasons that is okay.

There are no rules right now.  Probably, there will never be rules.  99.9% of the stories I hear about people trying to set gifting rules end in family strife and it just isn’t worth the energy to me.  In fact, I distinctly remember telling Critter’s Great-Grandfather that since he is in fact, the Great-Grandfather he can purchase Critter literally anything he wants to for Hanukkah.  I’ll let you know what puppy Critter receives next week (just kidding! but seriously…I have no idea what Gary has up his sleeve).

Since neither Christmas nor Hanukkah are actually about gifts, my only hope is that as Critter gets older he is able to love everything about these holidays that makes them special for us.  The family time.  The food.  The coziness.  The joy.

Whatever gifts you’re giving this year, and whatever gifts you’re hoping to receive, I hope that your holidays are filled with the people you love and the warmth that comes from choosing to celebrate during the darkest days of the year.

Friday Food Round-Up!

I don’t have a lot to say this week, friends.  I am just still super-exhausted from last weekend’s bout of sickness and what I suspect are weaning symptoms.  When I did my meal planning, I had no appetite but that didn’t slow me down!  The show must go on!

What we ate from the pantry this week: barley, cornbread mix.

Saturday – Pizza 

Honestly, how I managed to cook this meal is beyond me but probably it had something to do with us needing to eat dinner.  And we haven’t cooked pizza in a long time.  It was delightful.

Sunday – Green Chile Potato Soup

Easy.  Cozy.

Monday – Roasted Chicken Thighs with 4-3-2-1 Spice Rub, Tater Tots, Warm Cauliflower and Herbed Barley Salad

Whitney joined us for dinner and after confirming food preferences with her, I decided it would be appropriate to wheel this one out.  The tots were an audible.

Wednesday – Chicken Tamale Casserole

The last time we made this I was not terribly impressed.  This time?  I loved it!  Why?  Who knows!  But we’ll make it again!

Thursday – Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping, Garlicky Wilted Spinach

We made one of these for us, and then we made one for some friends.  Batch cook when you can, people.  This is definitely a recipe where you may as well double it if you can. 


I am thankful for…

…HEALTH.  I had my second bout of mastitis set in last Wednesday night.  The first set of antibiotics I was prescribed on Thursday didn’t work so I got a NEW set on Friday and when all is said and done I was rocking and rolling with a solid fever until Saturday morning.  My fever and chills were of the variety that I was totally bedridden which brings me to my next point.

…Marcus.  Husband of the Year for sure.  While I was basically incapacitated for 48 hours (holding or playing with Critter for 5-15 minutes exhausted me) he stepped up and solo parented without complaint.

…Moms. My mother took Critter for an unplanned day so Marcus could work and I could recuperate. My mother-in-law fed us dinner. Twice. It takes a village. 

…My Patagonia Better Sweater 1/4 Zip.  

It was a Hanukkah gift from my in-laws and I love it sick.  A Better Sweater jacket was my post-partum gift to myself and when this winter rolled around, I thought about how nice it would be to have all of that warmth without a full-zipper.  It is true.  It’s like wearing a blanket. I might wear it all winter.  If you see me don’t judge.  

I am looking forward to…

…Chrismakkuh.  Hanukkah starts on Christmas Eve and Christmas is also on…Christmas Eve.  Statement of the year right there.  We had our immediate family Hanukkah celebration last weekend, so that was sort of the kickoff but I am ready to keep the holiday season moving!

…Giving Critter his Hanukkah gifts.  From a totally selfish parent-perspective I want to toss the new toys into the rotation!

…Next week’s dinner adventure. While Billy is in town we’re headed out to check out a “cool” new restaurant.  It will be fun to have brother time. 

I am dying for…

…A date night.  I am trying to remember the last time we had one that wasn’t tied to a wedding and honestly y’all I just cannot.  It’s not that I don’t love to celebrate the love of others, it’s just that it isn’t exactly time for just the two of us.

…More moisture in the air. Apparently the winter eczema was not just a pregnancy thing last year and my hands are just a mess. Even with rigorous application of coconut oil and sudocrem the situation is tenuous. 

Friday Food Round-Up!


There was of course, more recipe testing for Megan’s cookbook (due out Spring 2016), Cast Iron Cooking.  Such tasty, yet important work!

What we ate from the pantry this week: macaroni (even though after we finished the box we bought MORE because we apparently eat macaroni now), brown rice

Sunday – Vegetable Tortilla Stew from Cravings

Truth: Last week I decided we needed to re-stock our freezer with some ready-to-go food.  And then Mom let me know about a close family friend who had recently undergone surgery and maybe also needed a meal.  Presto, double batch done!  Food for our friend, food for our freezer, and food for a nice Sunday lunch as well.

Sunday – Macaroni and Cheese – Five Fancy Ways from Cast Iron Cooking, Garlicky Wilted Spinach

Monday – Chicken in Yellow Curry from Cast Iron Cooking, Brown Rice, Garlic Green Beans

Tuesday – Sundried Tomato and Spinach Pasta, Roasted Broccoli

Wednesday – Enchilada Stacked Casserole from Cast Iron Cooking, Cilantro-Lime Rice, Black Beans

Miscellaneous – Chocolate Chip Fudge Stuffed Skilled Cookie from Cast Iron Cooking