Critter is 1!

What a year it has been. 


Happy birthday to the nicest boy. Our favorite only son. My best creation. 

Also, have you ever eaten a piece of cake that was so good you just had to roar about it?

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Friday Food Round-Up! (301st Edition!!!)

Approximately four weeks ago, I noticed in the link for the week’s Friday Food Round-Up we were on post 297.  I did some math which lead me to believe that if it was in fact the 297th post, that this series was just under six years old and that means that it would have started at some point in 2011.

I hopped into my blog archives and started digging and behold.  We did in fact start this little series in 2011.  I was also Super Curious to see what, exactly we cooked in those early days.

If you want to go back to the very first Friday Food Round-Up, click here.  Apparently we made coq au vin and channa masala.

I ended up looking through our round-ups through mid-March of 2011 and it’s funny to see what we were cooking because there are a few recipes that we either made Never Again or only a very few times, and a lot of recipes that we still make today like enchiladas and white chicken chili and pizza and roasted broccoli.

I will never ever stop saying that learning how to cook as a very young adult has been such an important part of my life.  It allows us to eat food that is delicious.  It allows us to eat food that is healthier for us than pre-packaged things.  It allows us to host friends for dinner without anxiety.  It allows us to save money.  It allows me the chance to do something that is sort of creative each day and has a tangible outcome.  There are so many reasons that cooking has been a positive thing in my life and Marcus’ as well.

If you are someone who thinks to themselves that you can’t cook, or that you don’t know how to do a lot, or you don’t even know where to start in the kitchen, do not despair.  When I started, it was only with very few recipes that I could cook and repeated until we got tired of them and had to expand the repertoire.

This week I made Chrissy Teigen’s cheesy guacamole for a Steeler playoff party and neglected to snap it, but y’all, it looked like…guacamole.  It was tasty but I don’t know that I would make it on the regular.  Normal guacamole suits me just fine.

What we used from the pantry: Hominy.

Friday – New Mexico Style Pot Roast, Party Salad


Lindsey and Noam joined us for dinner.  I made this roast once a long time ago and remembered that we liked it so I thought I would try actioning it again.  It was delightful.

Monday – Spicy Chicken and Chips from Farmhouse Rules


Real talk: I think this would be as good omitting the chicken but keeping the beans, and using straight corn tortillas instead of tortilla chips (which seemed kind of pointless).  I assembled it on Sunday night since we didn’t need to cook dinner, and then tossed it in the fridge, to be pulled out and popped into the oven.

Tuesday – Sweet Peas and Shells Alfredo from Smitten Kitchen, Roasted Cauliflower


After the cauliflower pesto debacle, I wasn’t sure that I could stand another Smitten Kitchen disaster.  This dinner ended up being So Good.  We pretty much doubled it and threw some chicken sausage in there.  This will be added to the dinner rotation for sure.  Critter is still 10/10 suspicious of it for reasons unbeknownst to me (it’s basically macaroni!) but I’m sure he’ll come around.

Thursday – Sesame-Spiced Meatballs and Smashed Chickpea Salad from Smitten Kitchen, Garlicky Wilted Spinach


YOU GUYS WE HAVE NOT MADE THIS RECIPE IN OVER A YEAR AND THAT IS TRAGIC TBH.  Glad we finally wheeled it out again.

51 Weeks


You guys!  In one week, we will have a one year old baby.  It is amazing!  I am telling you!  Also, I have all of these new hidden talents now.  Like stacking things on my head!

  • Our ECFE class agreed that we’ll all sign up together for the same class with our littles next fall.  I am pretty jazzed about this because even though our class is small (4!) and Katie and I already knew one another, it has been so much fun to grow new friendships with Also Katie and Ingrid.  I’m glad that we all like one another enough to continue on the adventure next year!
  • In that vein, while Critter is still a shy guy, he has finally seemed to overcome his shyness in ECFE!  He is now comfortable playing with the other tots/without me/is happy to crawl back to check on me and then crawl away again.  I am pleased with this development and proud of him for trying to be brave.
  • We are working to transition Critter from formula to whole milk and once again he is not super-thrilled about this.  Hoping he decides to get on board soon.
  • Critter got his first haircut, which was just super necessary.  I was trimming his bangs here and there to keep them out of his eyes which meant that the back just kept growing longer and he was getting a Baby Mullet.  He lasted through getting his hair sprayed down and the first three snips and then he just got super ticked.  As a result, the hair cut/style looks different around each ear (lol) but now my little baby really does look like a big boy!
  • First birthday party planning.  Um, not really any of that going on TBH.  My mom ordered a Costco cake and is making a pan of macaroni and cheese.  My MIL is getting balloons because I think Critter will get a kick out of them.  I’m not ordering a smash cake, Critter will just get his own slice of cake, the same way we all did back in The Old Times.  The attendees are everyone who came to the hospital and then Baby G because Critter is turning one year old so he can invite one friend.  It will be a merry, low-key time.
  • Related/unrelated: I really need to order his birthday gifts.  And some socks that fit him.  And some shoes.  Because the closest thing he has that qualifies are some shark slippers.

Friday Food Round-Up!

When I was writing out this week’s meal plan, I deliberately planned a takeout night for us tomorrow night because we’re cooking again tonight and as you can see, that’s…a lot of cooking in the last week.

What we ate from the pantry this week: sushi rice, barley, grillin’ beans, cauliflower rice, chile-lime chicken burgers. Big week!

Friday – Sushi Bowls


At home date night because we are fancy people like that!
Sunday – Borscht


You know what?  When I was meal planning this week, I made a conscious decision not to cook on Sunday because we had a few other things going on and I didn’t want to deal with it.  So I selected borscht from the freezer for our dinner and then pulled out some portions of shepherd’s pie from the freezer for our lunches the next day.  I don’t know that I’ll do this every week but if I can keep batch cooking here and there, then we could have some nights where we don’t have to cook but don’t have to order takeout either and that could be really nice.

Monday – Help With Hamburger from Farmhouse Rules and Garlicky Wilted Spinach


We were actually set to have Tuesday’s dinner on Monday, but I realized that Critter would want to eat macaroni noodles for lunch and that sharing one sandwich just wasn’t going to cut it.  So I swapped days.  Rebel!

I’d also like to point out that the tiny pile of spinach is like 1/4 of a bag.

Tuesday – Trader Joe’s Chile-Lime Chicken Burgers, Grillin’ Beans, Tater Tots, Roasted Cauliflower


I fancied-up the burgers by topping them with refrigerator pickles and chipotle aioli.  The only other thing we actually “made” in this meal was the cauliflower, but it was all still quite delicious.

Wednesday – Green Chile Potato Soup, Cheesy Jalapeno Bacon Cornbread from Cravings


Whitney came over for dinner.  I made a cornbread.  It was all quite nice.

Thursday – Roasted Chicken Thighs with 4-3-2-1 Spice Rub, Steamed Broccoli, Herby Barley Salad with Butter-Basted Mushrooms


I only had 1/2 cup of barley left (as I discovered On Thursday), so I made an audible (did an audible?) and dumped in the bag of cauliflower rice that has been living in our freezer all year.  We really didn’t notice the cauliflower rice (which does not even remotely resemble rice) but it did a good job of bulking up the salad.

 

What I’ve Been Reading 

Good news, guys!  I am reading again.  I think the biggest issue between Thanksgiving and year-end is that I just did not have any time for it, really.  Anyway, now I do.I did a final count and in 2016, I read 44 books which is really not too bad, considering I had a baby and all that.  I will confess, I probably don’t remember some of the books that I read during maternity leave (or using the Kindle app on my iPhone) as well as I should, but it all counts.

I don’t have any reading goals for 2017.  I am hoping that as Critter continues to wake just a bit later and I am able to wake just a bit earlier, it will mean a bit more time for books.

The Girls by Emma Cline

the-girls

Buffetology by Mary Buffet and David Clark

buffetology

The Wangs Vs The World by Jade Chang

the-wangs-vs-the-world

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

bel-canto

Friday Food Round-Up!

I was on some sort of insane leftovers kick this week.  If they were in our fridge, I found a way to make them disappear.  Spoiler alert: we ate them all.

I also hosted a playdate on Tuesday and whipped up some Spicy Crockpot Chex Mix and a pan of brownies because mamas have to snack, right?  No photos, sorry y’all.  We were all busy tot-wrangling.  Maybe next week because even though I made a double batch of the chex mix (and sent a bag of it off to my Dad), I still have enough fixin’s for one more round.

What we ate from our pantry: Minestrone Soup.

Friday – Tomato-Glazed Meatloaves with Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes from The Smitten Kitchen, Steamed Broccoli


This might be one of my favorite dinners that we make.  It’s also a sort of time-intensive meal (the meatloaves, moreso than the mashed potatoes).  My sister-in-law joined us for dinner which was (1) fun and (2) a lifesaver because it meant an extra set of hands for Critter while we got things prepped and mixed and going in the oven.

Sunday – Grampy Jim’s Ham Turkey Sandwiches from Farmhouse Rules, Minnestrone Soup via Bear Creek Soup Mix


Honestly, a few weeks ago, I bought one of those deli turkey packets from the refrigerated case and we needed to use it before it expired.  Grilled sandwiches = always to the rescue.

Monday – Sausage Pasta Casserole from Farmhouse Rules, Garlicky Wilted Spinach


We love it.  Two meals worth went in the freezer. 

Wednesday – Stuffed Cabbage Without The Roll from Farmhouse Rules


We’ve only made this recipe one other time (I think) but this time we enjoyed it even more.  This will for sure be in our regular rotation from now on.  It’s not terribly difficult to make, it’s filled with lots of healthy things, and in the winter it’s cozy.

Thursday – Frijoles a la Charra from The Homesick Texan, Texas Sweet Onion Casserole with Rice, Chipotle, and Gruyere, Soft-Fried Eggs


Honestly, I don’t know why we don’t make this specific meal in its entirety more often. So it is resolved that we’ll be trying to do that. 

Today…

I am thankful for…

…DATE NIGHT.  We went from no date nights to having two in the span of a week (one c/o a husband who wanted to surprise me, and another c/o my in-laws) and we got to try two, new-to-us restaurants: St. Genevieve and George and the Dragon.  Both were excellent (and ironically next door to one another).  It was so good for us to be able to leave the house together, without Critter.

…Our spiffy house.  We had Bruce come over to take care of a few projects for us pre-listing and it just makes our space nicer to live in.  I’m glad we’ll get to enjoy the tiny improvements for a little while before we don’t live there anymore!

…Being able to workout.  I don’t know what, exactly, happened but from December 14 until probably January 2 or so, our schedule was just completely out of whack.  It was so nice to have Marcus home, but for whatever reason I just did not spend as much time on the treadmill as usual (though I did do a lot of yoga).  It has been nice to get back to that.

…Early Mornings. There are a few mornings where Critter has slept in and a few mornings where I have woken up well before Critter and it has been so nice to be able to drink my coffee in a leisurely fashion, do some blogging, and do some reading. All before he wakes!  I am not quite ready to set an alarm for this because my poor body is still catching up on sleep but I can see how that day is coming soon. 

…My health. Again. I had a six month dermatology follow-up appointment where I didn’t need to have any moles removed and they told me to come back in a year. AND they prescribed me a steroid cream for my hands because they are infinitely better than they were a few weeks ago but it’s only January. 

…My Mama Tribe. Critter and I are part of a playgroup we met through Blooma and they are just the nicest girls. We finaly got to host this week (even though it has been puking snow in Minneapolis), and it was so good to have some time with these ladies to catch up and let the littles burn off some energy. 

I am looking forward to…

…Figuring out how to eat like an adult again.  Since Critter is weaned, it’s safe to say the 21 or so months of eating for two have come to an end.  Honestly, I am sort of excited to eat like a normal adult again (and am hoping maybe I could regain an interest in salads?).  On the other hand, I have absolutely zero idea of how much to be eating because my life is different now. I’m not running.  I do carry around a 25 pound weight for most of the day when I am home.  I power walk three times a week, I go to hot yoga once.  Pretty much I have just been inhaling food when I am hungry which is less chic and in-touch with my body than it sounds, but eventually I’ll figure it out.  Right?  Right.

…SPRING.  Is it too soon to say that?  I remember that when Critter was born, I thought to myself that when the leaves were on the trees, we would probably have this whole parenting thing down.  Well, um, it’s not even his birthday yet so we still have….at least three months until anything resembling the beginnings of spring is upon us.

I am dying for…

…A massage.  I got a gift card from my in-laws for Mother’s Day and you guys I am just ashamed to say that I haven’t taken the time to schedule it!  Someday soon.

…Some new lampshades for the lamps in our living room. (1) We finally have both of them in one place – one of them was living in my parents’ basement for a time and then was being re-wired (2) the current shades are very obviously wrong.  They should be white or cream drum shades, so I am hoping that I can get them sorted out in the next month.

…This latest round of teething to be over. Critter has been working to cut one of his lower teeth for nearly a week now and yesterday we hit peak misery. I just want the little guy to feel better. And the tooth to be here.