I've mentioned in my previous posts that I like to menu plan. I have just the thing to make it easy! It is a planning pad that I found at a local stationery store. . .
It is the perfect thing for me to plan out my dinners. I have space to include the main entree and sides. I can put anything that I need on my grocery list as I plan out my meals. It is perforated, both at the top and in the middle, allowing me to post the menu in the kitchen and put the grocery list in my purse. Perfect! You can find out where to get them at http://www.donovandesignsinc.com/ (no, I do not work for them!).
I started posting my menus in the kitchen to avoid some of the "what's for dinner?" questions that inevitably start at around 5pm. This way the children know what's for dinner tonight, can see what's for dinner tomorrow, and hopefully can steel themselves for whatever experiment I have planned. It only partially works in that regard, and sometimes can backfire, when it is something they don't think they will like! I'm still trying though. So that you know what we are having and can comment along with the rest of the peanut gallery . . .
Monday: Rotini with Bacon and Goat Cheese, Spinach Salad
Pasta is usually a big hit around here. Anything with bacon in it is sure to please!
Tuesday: Manhattan Clam Chowder
Leftovers from last week; it made a ton! The children will get a bone thrown to them with some chicken nuggets.
Wednesday: Erin's Baked Ziti
My friend Erin has a great baked ziti recipe that she made for us at her lake house this summer. It travels well and will go with us on our ski trip.
Thursday: Banu's Beef Carnitas
My friend Banu will be making beef carnitas in the crockpot for the skiers that night.
Friday: Pasta with Meat Sauce
Lots of pasta for the skiers this week!
Saturday: Cincinnati Chili
I will make this at home and bring it along. It just gets better with time. More pasta!
Sunday: Out to dinner with some Eversave certificates on the way home
My maternal grandmother, Mar, was a baker extraordinaire. She could bake anything and everything, and did it all from scratch. I wish I could say that I inherited her baking skills, but alas, no. That is probably a good thing in this family of testosterone, where dessert often consists of Cheetos and Slim Jims (by choice). It is not uncommon for me to send in half of a birthday cake with Mark to work to avoid him finding me in a sugar coma when he returns home. They just won't eat it. I don't get it.
Mar's piece de resistance was a baked good referred to as a "Crown". It was labor intensive, requiring dough made from scratch. After rising, she would then form the dough into balls, coated in cinnamon sugar, with nuts and raisins, and placed in a Bundt pan. It would then be left over night to rise again, and baked in the morning. We would have it on special occasions, such as Christmas or Easter morning, or if we begged hard enough. Various family members have attempted to duplicate her efforts, but it has just not ever been the same.
A good fake-out is monkey bread. Surprisingly, several of my boys requested it for Christmas morning, as a "tradition". I had recently received a 2011 calendar from Pillsbury with recipes in it, including one for "Mini Caramel Pull-Apart Rolls". . . individual monkey breads. Ideal!
We had them for breakfast on Christmas morning to rave reviews. Thankfully, the boys had never had Crown before, so they did not know what they were missing. My grandmother would be rolling over in her grave to know that I used refrigerated biscuits. But, maybe she would just be happy that I was baking at all!
Mini Caramel Pull-Apart Rolls (General Mills)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cans (7.5 oz each) refrigerated biscuits
Grease or spray 12 regular-size muffin cups. Mix butter and brown sugar; spoon 1 tablespoon mixture into each muffin cup.
Mix granulated sugar and cinnamon in 1-gallon bag. Separate dough into 20 biscuits; cut each in 6 pieces. Shake pieces in bag to coat. Place 10 pieces in each muffin cup.
Bake at 350 for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 minute; turn upside down. Serve warm.
I took the older three boys skiing today at Mad River Mountain. Mountain is a misnomer in Ohio though, since it is in actuality just a very large hill. But I guess it is all relative!
Patrick and Conor will have you know that they do NOT ski. They board. What-ev-er! Aidan and I are the skiers in the group. We had a great time with good weather and suprisingly smallish crowds for it being winter break. The funny thing was that there was a man totally old-school skiing. He was in jeans and had no hat (despite a bald head). I remember rocking that look back in middle school. A blast from the past! Now the boarders all have matching snow pants, coats, boards, hats, etc. Funny how things have changed!
A Conor sighting!
Where were the other boys, you ask? Liam and Rowan spent the day at a Tae Kwon Do camp as an introduction into the sport. Maybe some day when things calm down. Ha!
Thankfully everyone was very worn out as the tension level rises here at home the closer we get to Santa's journey!
I had the pleasure of hosting an Athenos Greek Yogurt House Party yesterday, combined with a Juicy Juice party thru "The Hosties" on Facebook. We had a great time with some good food made with Greek yogurt and washed down with Juicy Juice.
The best part of the whole party was all of the advice that came from having these great moms together. I found out about the new gel nails and saw first hand (hee hee!) how wonderful they looked a week out. We talked about where Diet Coke was on sale, and how Uncrustables were great for lunches on those days/nights when a kid's lunch literally needed to be thrown together. (And where the best prices were for those Uncrustables, too.) Of course, we also discussed Greek yogurt, how good that was for you, and the myriad of uses for it. Amazing the things you learn when you get a group of moms together! It really goes to show how valid viral marketing is.
The kids had a great time doing some crafts, playing with each other, and having lunch as well. It was a nice break in the holiday rush!
Wondering what a House Party is? Check out their website: http://www.houseparty.com/ or leave a comment. It's a lot of fun having a sponsored party!
Being the Type A personality that I am, organization is what rocks my boat. It also keeps me sane. I have tried grocery shopping by the seat of my pants, but it just doesn't work for me. I forget stuff. A lot of stuff. And when I have seven mouths to feed, it gets difficult. So I have resorted to menu planning for our dinners, and it works! I love knowing what I am feeding everyone ahead of time. I love knowing that I have all the groceries in the house. I love knowing that I don't need to set foot into the grocery store for another week. I am able to thaw my meat out ahead of time. I can do prep work throughout the day while the kids are in school. I can breathe. Have I convinced you yet?
That is not to say that my dinner plans are set in stone. I get thrown curve balls that upset even the best laid plans. Big curve balls! But that just means that dinner is set for tomorrow. I also have time to cajole even the biggest naysayer that eggplant is good for them (maybe). Ready to try it? More on this later.
On to this week:
Monday: Quesadilla Casserole
A McCormick spice package that has the recipe and spices pre-measured. My children love all Mexican! This is an easy recipe and is much loved.
Tuesday: Spiced Chicken with Maple Butter Glaze and roasted asparagus
More recipes from my favorite cookbook The Six O'Clock Scramble. Yum!
Wednesday: Manhattan Clam Chowder with soup crackers
My children love clams. Conor thinks that he likes clam chowder. The rest are not big soup fans, though. I hope to convert them.
Thursday: Bacon and Cheese Stuffed Potatoes and Roast Chicken
I will get the roast chicken already cooked from the store. You can't beat that! You had me at bacon and cheese for the potatoes.
Friday: Christmas Pasta
This is a Rachael Ray recipe from her 365: No Repeats cookbook. It has become a tradition of ours to have it on Christmas Eve. Loved by all!
Saturday: Boneless Rib-eye Roast with asparagus and cheesy potatoes
I had to take out a second mortgage on the house for the meat, but it is so worth it. Everyone loves the potatoes. I will have a Red Velvet Cake for our special Christmas dessert.
Sunday: Cleaning out the fridge of all the wonderful left-overs!
Liam had an eventful night tonight. He is now sporting a mouth most hockey players would envy, courtesy of Conor. Nothing like some brotherly love!
In reality, Liam's two front teeth have been dangling in the wind for quite some time now. I've been threatening to pull them for the last month. So, Liam has been keeping a wide berth around me. It is amazing to me that he has been able to eat at all. Especially since all I've been giving him are apples!
But, tonight Liam's mouth met up with Conor's elbow and the first tooth was knocked out. I then managed to convince Liam that pulling the second one would stop the steady stream of blood flow. He bought it!
Hence, the endless track of Christmas songs continue in my head.
Hopefully the tooth fairy remembers to visit tonight.
And I actually thought that I would have trouble with finding enough fodder for my blog posts!
Spongebob sings a song that warbles "...it's the best day ever!" It's not uncommon for me to get that little phrase stuck in my mind. (It could be the continuous track of Spongebob playing in the background at our house, but call me crazy.) Aidan, who not uncommonly runs either hot or cold, had one of his best days ever the other day. A picture to prove it:
We went to the annual "Breakfast with Santa" sponsored by the local Girl Scouts troop and held in the undercroft of our church this past weekend. When I say we, I mean myself, Rowan and Liam; otherwise known as "the believers". Aidan and Mark were at Aidan's first basketball game of the season. The teenagers, Patrick and Conor, still had hours of sleep in them and did NOT want to be seen at the aforementioned breakfast.
Several crafts, face painting, breakfast and petting zoo (which consisted of free kittens - kill me now) escapades later, we were able to accomplish our real reason for being there: visiting Santa.
Aidan arrived after all of the festivities to let us know that not only had his team won the game, but that he had scored 6 points. Wow! He then proceeded to seal the deal minutes later on "the best day ever" when he won the Giant Stocking Raffle!! Just what every nine year old needs days before Christmas. Honestly, the stocking ought to be given to the parents to be bequeathed to the winning child on Christmas morning.
We were "busy" taking our Christmas card picture this weekend (although that does not mean you will get our card before New Years!). I would like to say that we had the boys in matching outfits, had a theme, or even some composition to the picture, but no. Instead, we threw the boys outside with a moments notice to take our annual picture. Thus, the boys are wearing a mish mosh of clothes, Rowan has face painting, and no ones' hair is combed. The boys are squinting from the sun in their eyes. The puppy looks like a blob next to Patrick's black pants. But, it got done.
Thankfully, we have digital now, so that 45 pictures later, we were able to salvage one decent photo and simply delete all of the others. (Remember having to process all that film to throw away 90% of it?)
I make the whole process, despite the lack of planning, sound so smooth though. The boys fought. Liam cried. Rowan wouldn't stand still or even look forward. Liam cried. Conor could barely open his eyes. Liam cried. Patrick yelled. I cried. And Mark comments that "this is the worst fifteen minutes of the whole year!"
Unfortunately, I thought the whole thing went well!
I've been working with Liam's second grade class for the past 2 weeks on a yummy
project to fit in with their unit on friendship. Yes, friendship bread! As most people
know, friendship bread is that wonderful cinnamon bread that will, in actuality,
kill most friendships if you inflict the batter on someone. The bread, though, is quite good.
At any rate, Liam's teacher asked me to come in and do this with the class. So, we made starter, we mashed and we fed, until it was time to actually bake, ten days later.
Imagine the wonder of baking with twelve eight year-olds. Imagine cracked eggs running all over the floor. (I see salmonella poisoning in the future.) Imagine twelve delicious loaves of bread for the class to enjoy and distribute. They all had a great time and Liam just loves to cook!
But, part of the process entails splitting the batter up to share. Thus my apology to all of the second grade families whose children came home with batter filled bags in their backpacks. Please feel free to throw it away.
Years ago, while visiting my parents, we found some of the old Datum IV logs. Datum IV was the sailboat where the seven of us would spend weeks on end, in the summer, sailing on Lake Erie. My mother, as a trusty first mate should, dutifully kept the ship's log. This, in theory, details the vessels' port visits, daily mileage, weather, sea conditions and so forth. In reality it became a chronicle of my mother's meals for each day. Oh my, we had fun rereading those logs and howling over the entries! I guess this is my attempt at the Quinlan family ship log . . . concentrating on the meals, of course.
Monday: Sauteed Tilapia with Baby Spinach and couscous
This recipe is from my favorite cookbook The Six O'Clock Scramble by Aviva Goldfarb. The children have enjoyed tilapia in the past. The spinach not so much. It is a gamble how this meal will go over tonight.
Tuesday: Salmon and Potato Leek Chowder
This is a Rachael Ray recipe. It is actually left-over from last week. The kids get popcorn chicken. Maybe some of the more adventurous will give it a try (Liam).
Wednesday: Mediterranean Sundried Tomato and Garlic Chicken
I received a sample of a seasoning packet from Lawry's in the mail last week and wanted to give it a try. You add all of the fresh items and bake. I thought it sounded good and should be a hit with all.
Thursday: Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs
I have some Market Day meatballs that I received for free for placing such a large order. Unfortunately, one pound of meatballs just doesn't cut it with these guys, so I will have to buy another pound or so. This is a huge family favorite and will make up for the fact that we had fish twice this week!
Friday: Leftovers or Pizza if everything is gone.
Incentive for everyone to eat well!
Saturday and Sunday: We'll see. I'm just getting started!
I'm participating in Menu Plan Monday over at orgjunkie.com!
Last month Patrick was contacted by ABC 6 News about being highlighted for non-invasive treatment of ACL tears in teenagers. He agreed, and was interviewed in the school weight room while working out. He looks too cute smirking while working on his side squats. He said that he had to talk so loudly because the weight room was very noisy. Hopefully this won't be the last of Patrick's forays into the
Rowan had his kindergarten concert on Tuesday. Thankfully it lasted a whole 10 minutes. In that time, though, they managed to belt out 8 songs, complete with bells and dancing. The wonderful part was the utter lack of inhibition in regards to dancing and singing. No concern for the four older brothers and what they thought. No concern for the various friends' opinions. Just happy to have Mom and Dad there and Christmas on the way!
The table of cookies in the back didn't hurt, either.
Who starts a blog two weeks before Christmas?
Someone who is incredibly organized with a lot of time on their hands, of course! Someone who has sent out their Christmas cards (no!), decorated the house (no!), completed their shopping and wrapping (no!, no!) and done a ton of wonderful baking (no!). Not me, of course.
Instead, I sit here and dream of all of the other things I could be doing instead of all of the above. So, let's start a blog!
Besides, I need the sheer panic of the boys starting winter break to realize that it is time to get started.
Oh, I lie. I have done a fair amount of on-line shopping. Now, I am anxiously awaiting the UPS and Fed-Ex men. I look forward to their arrival in the evening just about as much as hubby's arrival home. But I keep waiting!