Tuesday, June 23, 2009

1 day, 2 lost teeth

We were so excited when Ella came to us after church and said "I have good news! I lost a tooth!" Yeah-Yipee-Hooray!

Again, at dinner, I saw Ella's front tooth hanging by a thread, I reached in and gave a good tug. Out it came.

And that is the story of how Ella lost 2 teeth in a single day... Naturally.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Today, with a packed freezer and fridge, I couldn't find anything for lunch - literally.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Grill Menu #3: Skewered Chicken and Red Onion

Skewered Chicken and Red Onion

1/2 c. Red Wine Vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1T + 1 tsp. honey
2T olive oil
fresh pepper
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 3 pieces each
1 lg. red onion cut in 8 wedges, root left intact

Stir together first 6 ingredients. Add chicken and onion to marinade. Stand at room temperature tossing occasionally for 15 minutes (or I sometimes do all day or overnight in fridge).
Transfer chicken and onion onto 8 skewers.

For oven: Preheat oven to 375. Transfer skewers of chicken & onion to a nonreactive dish. Drizzle with marinade. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes. (I finish under broiler to brown.)
For grill: Grill over medium heat, turning 1/2 way through. About 16 - 18 minutes total.

**Angie's notes: I bought several packages of boneless skinless chicken thighs to make at least 3 batches of these over the next 6 weeks. Unlike most meats, I do not marinade these before putting them in the freezer, largely because I purchased the thighs that are already portioned and vacuumed sealed. And it only takes 15 minutes to marinade. I usually grill these, and its a nice, simple meal. We love grilled veggies or a green salad with this and I purchased some oven baked sweet potato fries at BJ's that are frozen and can be baked.

Hands off dinner #2: Tex-Mex Fiesta Casserole

Tex-Mex Fiesta Casserole

6 servings

40 min 20 min prep


ounces lean ground turkey or beef


teaspoon instant minced garlic


cup onions, diced


cup green bell peppers, diced


cup chunky salsa


teaspoons chili seasoning mix

1 3/4

cups tomato sauce (15 ounce can)


cup reduced sodium ketchup


cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed


cups cooked rice, hot


cup low-fat cheddar cheese, shredded (3 oz.)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  2. Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

  3. In a large skillet sprayed with cooking spray, brown meat, garlic, onion and green pepper.

  4. Add salsa, chili seasoning, tomato sauce and ketchup.

  5. Mix well to combine.

  6. Stir in corn, rice and cheddar cheese.

  7. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.

  8. Bake for 20 minutes.

  9. Place baking dish on a wire rack and let set for 5 minutes.

  10. Divide into 6 servings.

  11. HINT: 1 1/3 cups uncooked rice usually cooks to about 2 cups.

**Angie's notes: This is a family standard. It's taco like in nature, but not so much table-work! I'll be making 3 batches of these in one sitting. We'll eat the first one right away because once Ben sees that I'm cooking it - he'd be heartbroken to hear he has to wait. (What can I say - the boy LOVES it!?) The other two additional 8x8 pans will be frozen. Once I've done that - I'll have 2 more instant meals to feed our family! You can either thaw first (and add 10 minutes to the baking time to account for the chill) or cook from frozen (double the cooking time at least!). Whatever you do - don't stir. There is no need to, and it will become porridge-like in consistency. We like to add lettuce, sour cream and salsa and eat it with tortilla chips.

Hands off dinner #1: Crock Pot Pulled-Pork (or chicken!) Fajitas

Crock Pot Pulled-Pork Fajitas


  • 2 1/2 lbs boneless pork loin roast

  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced

  • 2 cups barbecue sauce

  • 3/4 cup salsa

  • 3 tablespoons chili powder

  • 1 tablespoon Mexican seasoning

  • 9 flour tortillas


    Trim off excess fat from pork.

    Place pork in slow cooker and place onions on top of roast.

    Mix remaining ingredients together except tortillas; pour over pork.

    cover and cook on low heat setting 8 to 10 hours or until pork is very tender.

    Remove pork; place on large platter or cutting board and pull pork apart.

    Place pork in serving bowl and pour sauce on top.

    Spoon filling into tortillas and roll up.

    **Angie's notes: We LOVE this dish. I've made it with both pork and boneless, skinless chicken breasts. You can use the meat with tortillas, buns or on a salad - it's very versitile. We'll be eating the chicken version with tortillas, sour cream, a little extra salsa and lettuce. I usually make a "salad" out of mine and cut out the tortilla carbs. I will be making a double batch (just over double, actually) and will freeze the leftovers into 2 containers for future meals. Please consider that the meat will cook down a lot, and that each Crock Pot varies in cooking time. It will fall apart when it is ready.

Grill Menu #2: Molasses Coffee Marinated Pork Chops

Molasses Coffee Marinated Pork Chops (Alton Brown, 2009, foodtv.com)
  • 1cup cool strong coffee
  • 6 ounces molasses, by weight
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 to 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 (6 to 8-ounce) bone-in, 1-inch thick pork chops


Place all of the ingredients into a 1-gallon zip top bag, seal, and shake to combine. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

Preheat grill to medium-high.

Remove the pork chops from the marinade. Transfer the marinade to a small saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-high, and boil gently, stirring often, until reduced to about 1/2 cup liquid, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the thyme stems after the glaze has reduced. Meanwhile, grill pork chops 3 to 4 minutes per side or until they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Allow the pork chops to rest 4 to 5 minutes before serving with the glaze.

**Angie's Notes: If you purchase these items, but don't intend to consume them right away, mix up the marinade in a freezer ziploc bag, add the meat and toss it into the freezer. Remove it from the freezer and put it in the fridge at least 24 hours prior to cooking. As it thaws, the marinade with do it's job and you'll come home to ready-to-grill meat! We'll be adding rice to this dish to soak up that yummy glaze and a salad to round out the meal. Wishing I had enough for a double batch...mmm....

Grill Menu #1: Smoked Sausage Spicy Kebobs

Smoked Sausage Spicy Kebobs

1 lb. Smoked Sausage, sliced 1" thick
1 8 - oz. bottle of Italian salad dressing

Fresh vegetables such as:
1 bell pepper, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
2 ears of corn, broken into thirds
6 cherry tomatoes
3 new potatoes, halved
2 zucchinis, sliced 1" thick
6 large mushrooms

Build skewers alternating sausage and vegetables
Dip the kebobs into salad dressing.
Grill or broil for 4 minutes each side, basting frequently with remaining salad dressing.
If using corn or potatoes, tenderize in boiling water for 3 - 5 minutes before building skewers.

**Angie's notes: Our kebobs have sausage, bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini and musrooms. Instead of doing the corn and potatoes, I opted to purchase frozen potatoes from BJ's and bake them off while the kebobs cook.

Insanity challenge, Part 1

The sole purpose of this post is to convince you that I am totally and utterly crazy. I'm just putting that up front. Please continue...

As the summer approaches, I'm a little daunted by the task of taking my own three kids, plus any that I'm babysitting to the grocery store. When I contemplate this, I see lots of chaos management, impulse buying and stressful "I'm never doing that again" in my future . So - I had a much more manageable idea...why not shop for the ENTIRE summer? Right? Or at least cut it down to 2 major market runs for the whole summer -once before it began and once in the middle? At first I was joking, but it eventually evolved into a challenge... Could I purchase at least the basics for June and July, thereby allowing me to make it into August before having to do a major grocery run? And so, it began.

Follow me through the next few blog posts and you can see how (or if!) I accomplish this task. For those of you who want to give it a try - I'm including the nitty-gritty details. I'm breaking the tasks into 3 or 4 step intervals (it's confusing - even to me!) and following with blogs containing the recipes mentioned. BEWARE: if you are not a meat lover, these posts may not be for you. I'm not certain I know how to make meals without some kind of meat since I come from a die-hard "meat & potatoes" kind of family. Consider yourselves forewarned, though I think the same principles will apply.

1) First, you need to make a list of everything in your freezer that you want to use. Anything that is "main dish" appropriate is fair game. Do not include breads, bagels, or other non-staple foods in this list. For me, this included 9 b/s chicken breasts, 6 b/s chicken thighs, 4 pork chops, 1 package of hot smoked sausage, 3 lbs. ground beef, and a container of taco meat (prepared already).

2) Find recipe online, in cookbooks, or use old standards with the freezer contents. I like using foodtv.com, or you can perform a google search on your particular ingredient. I like using site that allow users to rate the recipe. I usually choose a recipe that sounds good AND has multiple high ratings. Be sure to scan the comments because sometimes they can come up with some good tips on substitutions or omissions. I like to keep all the recipes in one place - which means once you find the recipe, print it out (or copy it) and put it in sheet protectors in a 1" 3 ring binder. As my recipes have stockpiled, I just move the ones I'm using toward the front. I decided to make tacos (easily decided with the prepared taco meat), Pulled Chicken Fajitas with the chicken breasts (FREEZABLE - divided into 3 meals), Grilled chicken and Red Onion skewers, Molasses Coffee Marinated Pork Chops (a new one for us), smoked sausage kabobs*, and tex-mex casserole (a family favorite - tripled and frozen to make 3 meals). Consider this - do all of you dishes require fresh produce that could go bad if not used up quickly? If so, swap them for recipes that are largely pantry/freezer based items and make sure that you put the fresh ingredient meal towards the front of your list (noted in my list by an *). You can then add salad or grilled veggies to your meals, and those minor shopping trips will just include perishables like milk and some produce.

3) Make a shopping list of the ingredients from those recipes that you don't have on hand. I shop at BJ's (wholesale club), Stop and Shop (grocery), and Trader Joe's (specialty store), so I keep 3 lists and add the item to the most appropriate list. Important: If you are uncertain where to add it - add it to all the lists of the stores you want to check. You'll probably remember if you've already purchased it, but you likely won't remember to add it if another store doesn't care that item.

Easy enough - right? The recipes I'm making this summer are a combination of oven ready (casseroles), grilled dishes and kid friendly favorites, like tacos. I didn't, for some reason, include fish in this menu, but we love fish and will be sure to include it in our next batch! Recipes mentioned above follow in separate posts.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

At least it's something


I heard of hubpages a few days ago, and to be honest...I'm still a little confused. But - if something is better than nothing, I'm on track.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Back to my writing roots

When I was in high school, I began to think about "what I wanted to be when I grew up". For many, this process begins much earlier, but I never had any skills rise to the top. (It's the old "Jack of all trades, master of none" coming into play). However, in high school, I began to find my niche in writing. In it, I found a freedom that I hadn't found before...a sense of discovery and learning that I was excited about. As I entered college, I naturally gravitated towards an English major, but quickly realized that I didn't have passions (or skill, frankly) in grammar and Shakespeare and all that an English degree requires. While I loved writing, I drifted back and forth in my studies. After going through several potential career options, moving to the state of Massachusetts, transferring colleges and meeting the love of my life, I finally landed at Framingham State College in the Family and Consumer Science Department(say whaaat?). Though, it's really a fancy name for Home Economics, Wikipedia describes it as this: "Family and consumer sciences deals with the relationship between individuals, families, and communities, and the environment in which they live. The field represents many disciplines including consumer science, nutrition, parenting, family economics and resource management, human development, interior design, textiles, apparel design, as well as other related subjects."

It's funny - but that is exactly what I studied. I got to take courses on cooking, fashion, nutrition, and family financial decision making - A little of this, and a little of that. Quite frankly, I loved every class I took! But the problem is, it didn't really offer me a real career direction. So after I graduated, I just got married and had babies. (Ironically, I'm one of the few SAHMs that uses my degree!) Because I need to earn some kind of income to keep our family afloat, I've resorted to a life of preschool teaching, babysitting, and part time ministry. But I keep finding a way to write, because it is my first love. (And cheaper than therapy!)

After spending 13 years in children's ministry, a genuine love of mine, I'm ready for a new challenge. So, I'm giving over my position to someone who will be embarking on an amazing journey, and I'm ready to re-engage my love for writing. The timing is a bit strange to me, but sometimes you just know when its time to move on. I don't have any real expertise, or any set goals, and...um...I don't know a whole lot, quite honestly. But, I need to open this door because its a nagging feeling in me I just can't shake.

As I've begun the research I can only say one thing: I'm overwhelmed. I'm not sure where to even begin or what questions to ask. And let's face it - I'm still deeply in the "at home with young kids" phase of my life. But, after all my web browsing tonight, I was left with one clear direction: I need to blog. Whatever challenges I have breaking into the world of writing, I just need to do what I know - and that is write.