Random mid-week Meal Planning Because I Just Be Crazy

Beab is sick today, so I’m working from home.  I’ve billed a fair number of hours while he sleeps and sleeps and sleeps (conveniently for my work if not my health, he didn’t sleep at all last night due to coughing, so he’s very tired today.  SO AM I but whatever, super-lawyer-mom, amirite?)  I’ve also taken advantage of being home to do the laundry, dishes, and some cooking.  Multitasking and such.  Last weekend I accidentally defrosted an entire bag of chicken breasts, which is enough for 3 meals, and they really needed cooked.  So I did the chicken breasts for the quesadillas I’ll make later this week (with jalapeno sauce, no link to that), plus an easy chicken gyro recipe to have with this broccoli quinoa casserole, and finally diced and cooked some and made up a version of this chicken mozzarella pasta.  All of these had lots of substitutions and kind of crazy things in them, since I’m cleaning up leftover bits and bobs.  But I think it all works, and now that whole bag of breasts is cooked and laundry’s done and maybe this weekend I can have some downtime!

Also, contemplating this cheese grit soufflé with mushroom gravy to go with our rosemary pork tenderloin for Easter dinner.  Mmmmmm.  The gravy has sherry in it, so it must be fancy.

Last night after dinner, I took the boys out for frozen yogurt (the kind where you pile candy and toppings into the bowl).  Craig ate half my vanilla, and the big boys got the grossest concoctions of gummy worms and sour patch kids and twix crumbles and pineapple fro yo, and they loved it.

Tonight the Professor comes home.  Yay!

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Exes

Just after I posted that meal plan post, I hopped on facebook and noted that my very first boyfriend (now a FB friend) had his first baby last night.  Well, his wife did.  Beab is a sweet little girl, thick head of hair, almost 9 pounds, and named after my old boyfriend’s mother who died of cancer a few years ago.

Anyhow, it got me to thinking – every boyfriend I ever had is now a dad, except one.  Kinda cute, I think.  I’m FB friends with almost all of them, too.  I have a lot of affection for these guys’ babies.  The relationships (and in some cases, I’d say “relationships” in quotes) we had are long dead and gone, and we’ve all moved on and married and are getting older and fatter and more set in our ways, as people do.  Before the social media days, they would have remained 15 or 18 or 20 in my mind forever – they would not have aged for me, since I move so much and left them all behind long ago (one lives in Atlanta, one in San Francisco, one in Australia, one in Italy, one in Santa Cruz, one in Louisville – these dudes are all over).  But instead of losing them entirely, today through the filter of facebook I get to see them get older like me – have children like me – move on with life like me.  It’s hard to explain why I like that . . . but I do.

It puts a context on early relationships, and on break-up pain, doesn’t it?  We were once together and now we’re not – the break-up once made us sad and now that sadness is so far in the rearview mirror that I can barely remember what it was like.  We’ve each found long-term love elsewhere.  I sift through all of that history and context, and my hands come up holding onto just the affection – we sort of made each other adults, in a way, learned from each other how to behave around other people and how NOT to behave around other people.  I made them better husbands, I think, and they made me a better wife.  And now we are all parents, and are five years or fifteen years or however many years away from launching our own children off to fumble their way through their own early relationships.  Circle of life, etc. etc.

Anyway, it struck me that even if some/many of these guys were not the best boyfriends to me, they for the most part ended up being good men.  They appear (through the rosy lens of facebook) to be good dads.  They landed on their feet, as did I.  I’m glad for that.  Hooray for babies.  :)

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All’s Quiet

The baby got us up before 6am, and I logged in remotely and did a little work while the Professor fed him a bottle and then he bee bopped around the house.  Now he’s napping, the boys are with their dad at a Cub Scouts event, and I have sorted and started the laundry and finished the dishes and am sitting on the couch for a sec.  I am luxuriating in the silence, sipping my second cup of coffee and planning the week’s meals.  Quiet moments in my house are pretty rare for me, as you can imagine.  Aaaaaaaaaah.

May I highly recommend the Provencale chicken from last week – pretty simple stuff, but I served it over quartered baked new potatoes and it was a great family meal.  We used boneless chicken thighs and cooked it probably 6 hours instead of 8, the last 2 hours on high.  I dig.

The quinoa pizza was not as hard to make, nor as weird, as I expected.  The quinoa crust worked pretty well, actually – with the garlic and herbs in it, it tasted good, and it wasn’t too crumbly.  It made a very small pizza – I might try it again, and this time double the recipe and do individual pizzas, which would be easier to handle.  I prefer quinoa crust to a whole wheat crust on a pizza.  I wasn’t, like, OMG THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER, but I can get behind a second attempt at this one.  I’d definitely say that if you’re going to try it, don’t spread it too thin.  Make it a pretty thick base, and you’ll be able to pick it up and eat it like normal pizza, plus you’ll get filled up with healthy quinoa and the cheese will just be a garnish.

And last, that Southwest salad was the bomb, though as you can imagine it did not keep well.  The avocado dressing was really good on day one, and super gross on day two.  I did not include cilantro in the dressing because my husband is a Communist and won’t eat cilantro.  Why did I ever marry him, anyway?

It’s a busy week of baseball, some more baseball, Easter parties and egg hunts, a little baseball, a choir performance at my oldest’s school, and some more baseball.  This is challenging, but I’m up for the challenge.  Here’s my plan for this week:

  • Saturday – out at event
  • Sunday – Creamy caprese quinoa bake, SO MUCH WIN
  • Monday – Yellow squash and mozzarella quiche and salad (after the game)
  • Tuesday – Leftover penne and chicken meatballs (after practice) – I use jarred sauce and the Aidell’s chicken meatballs, holy cow those are tasty.
  • Wednesday – Leftover Provencale chicken and potatoes
  • Thursday – Chicken quesadillas with a fancy jalapeno sauce sent by the Professor’s aunt – we shall see if we can handle the heat
  • Friday – I think we’ll grab some Moe’s or something after the choir event

The yard has turned bright green almost overnight, and it’s knee-high.  The trees are popping blossoms.  The weather is absolutely perfect – we southerners relish this short period of time before the heat wilts us all.  I’ve had enough computer time to last a lifetime, so off I go to tackle the rest of the day.  Much love, all, and I hope if spring hasn’t sprung on you yet, it will soon!

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Tease

I want to read three books that are not yet published, and are teasing me with their “almost here but not yet and by the time we are you will probably have forgotten we exist!”  Here they are, so if one day in summer I do recall that they exist, I can link people back here to buy them for my birthday.  ;)

#1. Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams.  This is a YA debut novel by a writer I know.  I’ve read some of her other work but I never did read this one, and I have been looking forward to it coming out for over a year.  Carolyn has a knack for evocative descriptive writing, for taking her reader and placing him/her in the sleepy Southern town/creepy back woods/wherever.  She is also skilled in pacing tense and exciting novels.  She has created a strong young female heroine here – she writes from the point of view of strong young men as well, and I love that her heroes kind of explode on the page and stride ever onward, regardless of the huge power structures that threaten to take them down.  I’m a sucker for mystery/horror novels, so this is kind of my jam, and I can’t wait to read this horror novel about a young girl trying to escape from a serial killer out in the woods.  (Book trailer here, a short clip that gives you an idea of what the book is about).

#2. The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander.  This is a memoir by a poet whose husband died suddenly at the age of 50.  First of all, I really love prose written by poets.  They are so good at being spare, at careful word choice.  I like reading poems by poets, too, of course, but there’s something really special about applying the rigor and discipline of poetry to the looser art form of prose.  Secondly, she write about her happy marriage, its sudden and painful end, and her subsequent closer relationship with her two teenaged sons.  I loved reading Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, and Blue Nights – both of which touched on similar themes, of living with loss.  Hurts so good.

#3. Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs.  Among her other works, photographer Sally Mann has taken beautiful, and controversial, pictures of her children at their idyllic woodland home in Virginia (controversial because in some of them the children were nude).  They suffered at the hands of a deranged stalker for years - serving as kind of a analog pre-cursor to the “here’s what could happen if you post pics of your kids online” warnings.  I actually went to law school with one of Sally’s daughters, and never knew she was part of this family until after law school was over.  Once I learned who my classmate was, I googled her mom out of curiosity, and became entranced (as many have before me) with the world that Mrs. Mann captured in her photographs.  My classmate posted on facebook a link to this memoir, which is coming out later this spring.  I can’t wait to read it.

What are you all reading lately?

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Saturday Afternoon Meal Planning

I love having the links here to refer to through the week, so I’m putting our week’s meal plan up again.  I also wanted to note that my Day in the Life was probably quite boring, but I wanted a record of the insanity.  The Prof is helpful when he’s in town – that’s what the weekdays are like when he’s at his job out of state.  Twice a week or so, I don’t open the laptop and work after the kids go to bed, and that helps me catch more sleep.  Weekends are typically just as crazy, but crazy family-time – this is why I work weeknights, so I can protect my weekends.  I try to carve out an hour or two on Saturdays and Sundays during naptime to relax.  Occasionally, I’ll work part of a weekday from home, which also makes me feel more centered, even though it’s still working.

Today in particular was baseball opening day, so we were at the ball field most of the day.  I am pretty dusty and tired, but satisfied.  I get the sense that the elementary school years are going to open up a whole new life for us that I love – much less isolated than the baby years.  After a very pouty, whiny game day, we see that we’re going to have to work on Jack’s sportsmanship and attitude.  But that’s what this baseball lark is for – not because we have any illusions about professional baseball, but because there’s so much for him to learn about being a good citizen and a decent man.

With that said, here’s the week’s meals.  For the rest of March, I am thinking of trying Blue Apron for two days a week.  It’s a touch expensive for groceries, and we are limited in our dollars . . . but I love outsourcing some of the planning and decision-making, while retaining the health and calorie control of a home-cooked meal.  It’s cheaper than going out, and better for us than frozen pizza or PF Chang’s (which is also cheaper than going out, and tends to be my fall-back on a busy day).  Anyway, we may try it and if I love it we may keep it two days a week.  It involves new recipes, new ingredients, no waste, and health.  I’ll trade a few precious grocery dollars for that.

  • Grilled Asian Sesame Chicken wraps.  No recipe – I just had some chicken we needed to use, so I put it in some Asian sesame salad dressing we had, and we’re going to grill it.  We have flatbread, lettuce, and I might grill some bell peppers to go inside.
  • Quinoa crust pizzas – I’m taking the leap.  I shall report back.
  • Southwest salad, sounds yum
  • Provencale chicken supper plus quartered new potatoes
  • PWs corn chowder – made some a couple of weeks ago and froze the extra, we’ll defrost and have with a salad
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