Bitchin’ in the Kitchen

I continue to cook most of our meals, though I’ve taken to writing them into our wall calendar rather than recording them here.  But ya’ll, we have had some ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS stuff in the past few months – exhausting work schedule notwithstanding – and so this post is for all of you (one?  two?) folks who like to get recipe ideas from me.  Including my Future Meal Planning Self.

  • Brisket  TJ’s tends to have reasonably priced brisket, so when we go there, I get one and make it using this recipe.  That night we generally have brisket sandwiches and some sort of starchy side (potatoes?  mac and cheese?) plus frozen veg.  Then the leftovers get put into enchiladas or burritos later in the week, or sprinkled on top of nachos along with diced tomatoes, sour cream, refried beans, and corn.  We don’t eat beef much, so when we do we make it good, and this is goooo-ooood. 
  • Sunshine lentil bowls.  I’ll admit, I have not mastered cooking lentils yet.  I seem to cook them too long – they turn into a paste, more suitable for soup than a lentil bowl.  But I shall continue, because one of my fave things to do is cook lots of lentils, lots of tiny potatoes, blanch some green beans, roast some brussels sprouts, steam a bunch of carrots, and then take it all to work and assemble a lentil bowl every day of that week til I’ve eaten the lentils all up.  I stopped putting the dressing on it- the goat cheese is enough.  When we have them at home, I definitely put a fried egg on top.  If anyone has lentil cooking tips, hit me up – I have red ones, green ones, brown ones, all kinds of colors, and every time I cook them they come up pasty.
  • Veggie bowls.  Along similar lines, very often if I have forgotten to cook a bunch of lentils, I just bring a can of chickpeas and several giant Costco bags of produce to work, and make a raw veggie bowl for lunch.  I have lots of toppers to put on – dried chipotle chickpeas, garlic hemp hearts, this giant Costco bag of pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries, cans of artichoke hearts, I even splurged on pickled okra.  I just make a big bowl – quartered zucchini, halved cherry tomatoes, snapped green beans, chunks of carrots, sometimes some leftover salmon from last night’s dinner, plus one or two of my special toppings.  I sprinkle a little bit of salt and a ton of pepper on top, and it’s really good.  The key for me is that it’s all crunchy and raw or barely cooked.  I don’t like mushy vegetables.  I find that if I make a huuuuuge bowl (and I do), it’s all I need – I don’t miss carbs or meats or crackers.  I am turning into an Old Person.  I promise not to evangelize about eating plants – I can still murder a steak or a pizza – but I’ve developed a real taste for plain old fresh veg these days, and that’s not a bad thing.
  • Salmon, roasted potatoes, roasted veg.  I have taken to cooking salmon very simply, using this recipe.  I buy a giant slab of salmon from – where else? – Costco, and cook the whole thing at once.  We eat about half, and I take the other half to work and warm it slightly, then flake it over my veggie bowls.  We eat this now at least once a week.  It is not cheap – it’s like $25 for a filet – but it is a giant filet and it feeds the 5 of us plus me probably at least 5 more times, so $2.50 a serving.  Not terrible.  I love to put tiny baby creamer potatoes in the oven first and get them mostly roasted, then put the salmon in (a separate pan) and throw some sliced brussels sprouts or broccoli or green beans in the potato pan at the same time, and it all comes out at once.  Tiny bit of pepper is all you need.  Mmmm.
  • Slice sausages and peppers.  Whatever Costco has on sale, I slice them lengthwise, slice three colors of peppers up thin plus thin slices of onion, saute them all together and serve with grainy mustard.  We used to put on rolls but now we just eat it as is.
  • Taco spaghetti.  The boys liked this a lot – I made it with ground turkey.
  • Zoodles with pesto.  I got a cheap spiralizer and love it! The boys are less impressed with zoodles but I’m going to work on them.  I like that it takes three seconds to cook it.  I don’t like that it’s so fragile.
  • Pork chops with a spicy rub and curly sweet potato fries.
  • Eggplant parmesan for one.  I made this while the boys were out of town, and it turned out that it fed me that night, and also fed all five of us after they returned.  Very tasty!  I normally fuss a lot over eggplant – I’ve read that you should sprinkle slices with salt and leave out to sort of leach out the gross bitterness . . .  This time, I just sliced it and cooked it, and it was just fine.  So I shall no longer fear the eggplant.
  • Lamb ragu – OMG, this was so good.  SOOOOOO GOOOOOD.  Ragu is basically stew – I served it over rigatoni, as the recipe calls for, and it was a delight.  
  • Orzo and squash with pesto.  As he notes in the recipe, dicing the squash small is key with this one – it should be only a bit bigger than the orzo itself.
  • Chicken and charred succotash.  I must admit – I bought the stuff to make this but haven’t made it yet.  But it looks good and I want it in this list for future reference!
  • Chickpea curry.  I make this by buying canned chickpeas and dumping them in TJ’s madras curry, cooking til hot, serve over rice.  Easy, delicious.
  • Spinach and artichoke pasta.  OMG this was like appetizer spin dip, but for dinner.  Most recipes include cream cheese – this one did not, which made it much lighter and really, really good.
  • Single serve chickpeas and eggs.
  • Southwest chicken tortillas.  Always looking for new Mexi recipes.
  • Chicken and kale burgers, mac and cheese, green beans.  The link is to the brand, not a recipe. Got these burgers at Costco and they really are good.
  • Chicken pot pie.  I do a fancy version sometimes, but for this one I kept it simple and quick – picked a rotisserie chicken, added frozen mixed veg and quartered potatoes (recommend pre-boiling them for a few minutes before putting them in or they will take forever to cook) into a casserole dish.  Pour jarred chicken gravy over top and stir, then put a frozen Pillsbury pie crust on top.  Cook for an hour, or til the gravy is bubbling and the crust is done.
  • Ground turkey tacos.  Cook a pound of ground turkey, sprinkle some cumin, oregano, chili powder, and cayenne on top, put in a little water or chicken stock to keep it from sticking and then simmer most of the water off, then serve with taco shells, sour cream, shredded lettuce, cheese.  Also excellent as leftovers on top of lettuce, along with corn and sliced cherry tomatoes – a great taco salad.
  • Greek tortellini salad.  We had this a couple of days ago and people – the dressing is worth the work.   I almost just put some old green goddess bottled dressing on top, but I’m glad I didn’t.
  • Moroccan lentil and vegetable stew.  The spices in this thing made our house smell like some exotic South Asian or African locale.  Really, really tasty.  Although I used broccoli instead of cauliflower and that was a mistake – it tasted find but the heads crumbled and there were tons of little broccoli bits everywhere, which made the texture not as good.  Next time, I’ll stick with cauliflower or carrots or something less crumbly.
  • Oven ‘fried’ catfish, roasted potatoes and brussels sprouts.  In addition to salmon I’ve taken to buying catfish – relatively cheap at either Costco or Rouse’s, always hearty and tasty and quick.

So that’s my list of dishes lately.  We are trying these two this week – if they’re terrible, I’ll come back and erase them from this list so as not to read any johnny-come-lately readers astray.  Korean beef zoodles; Vietnamese noodle bowls.  I’ve also taken to eating pepper Boursin, fig jam, and wafer thin crackers as a snack on weekends.  DELICIOUS.

Meanwhile, in other, non-food related content, I’ll note that I turned forty a few days ago.  I have thought about it all year – about what it means to be In My Forties – and so I guess I fully processed the thought of it before it even happened and it was a lovely birthday but not too emotionally strenuous.  We have a big weeklong trip planned in October – camping in a place with neither cell service nor running water!  I can’t wait.  Not everybody’s cup of tea but just what the doctor ordered for me.  Nobody can reach me.  I literally am not able to work.  **evil laugh**  It’s what it takes these days, to have even a few hours off duty.  You have to escape the wifi – or at least tell everybody that you have!  Not easy to do, but I’m doing it.  I want, at 40, to be dwarfed by landscapes larger than I, to be challenged physically, to be outside for a whole week.  My parents will be watching the kids.  My husband shall be with me.  It shall be, as the kids used to say, The Bomb.

Now it’s time to put the kiddos to bed, and do some more WERK.  I know I write less, but it’s borne of circumstance and not lack of desire.  Blogging is passe these days, but nevertheless – I ain’t going anywhere!

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Nashville Shenanigans, Part Two

When we left off last time, we were getting trounced in Quizzler by my sister.  The following day, we went to the Nashville Adventure Science Center.  I was getting pinged with emails and calls the whole time, so I probably shouldn’t have gone, but man sometimes my kids need to see me at stuff.  So I went.  And I’m glad I did!

We had a good time.  We headed home for dinner, and then turned around and headed out to the drive-in to watch Hotel Transylvania, III – one of the worst movies we’ve ever seen/slept through.  But it was still fun – a pile of kids in the back!

The next day (I’m not sure what day we’re on at this point – I think Friday?), my sister brought over a project she together for the kids.  She did this once before – it was definitely more successful this time, as the kids were better at breaking it apart.

That afternoon, we made a movie!  The shortness of the movie is not a good representation of just how loooooooong it took to make.  But it was tons of fun – the neighbor kids joined in, Jack wrote it with the help of his aunt, Jack also directed, I produced, and everyone in the family acted.  

Nana did a puzzle with the littlest two while we filmed the scenes they weren’t in.

The next day, everybody but us left for home.  The Prof and the two littlest boys also took off for Indiana to visit his family for a week, leaving just Jack and me.  I slept for hours that day, exhausted by overwork, and then went out to cute Franklin, TN for dinner.  A magician (who is a lawyer by day!) came by and did some tricks, blowing Jack’s mind.

Then on Sunday, I flew home alone, leaving Jack to spend some alone time with my parents, to get some focused attention on math practice.  

Then I was home alone for a week.  Which is good, because I was at work til 11pm almost every night.  Yikes!

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I Don’t Have Time for Titles

Ooof, boy, things are very overwhelmingly busy at work right now.  I have had one single full day off since July 8, and during that day off I slept about five hours.  (AND I STILL GOT YELLED AT FOR NOT DOING A WORK THING THAT DAY, A SATURDAY, BY THE WAY.)  I work in Big Law, yes, but even for Big Law we’ve all been busy.  A couple of us were literally crying on the phone to each other the other day.  And while yes, this is a bit pathetic and sad, it was also sort of sweet that my main team on all my main cases right now is almost entirely women, and we understand the value of a good frustrated cry.  Also, this is unusually busy, and eventually it will slow down.  So it’s not forever.  But dude, several 65-hours-billed-weeks-in-a-row really takes it out of a gal.

Does this Vader make me look tired?

Last time I checked in, I was doing a delayed report of our trip to my husband’s hometown for a week.  Three weeks later, we took another week-long trip to my parents’ and I have the pics to prove it.  Unfortunately I worked EVERY SINGLE DAY of that trip (except the aforementioned Giant Nap Day, which was really required for my sanity), but I still squeezed in as much niece-and-nephew time as possible

Love these two nuggets

I am generating this post from distant memory, so like the South Carolina update, this’ll be heavy on pix and thin on commentary.  Hooray, says you!

On Monday, I had a filing to get out, so we had to hang out close to home.  I spent most of the day in the back bedroom updating edits in the brief, and it was no fun, but so it goes.  That evening we all went to see my sister’s new house, which we would be assisting in painting the following day.

She and her husband have been living in the teeniest apartment you’ve ever seen for a long while, and this year when the lease was up, they went out and found themselves a really great house that just needed a few updates.  They put in new flooring downstairs, bought a really gorgeous new dining set, and all that was really left was to paint a couple of bathrooms and the guest room.  The sibs, eager to help, all agreed to spend Tuesday painting and getting her set up.

We worked very hard through the morning and early afternoon, trying to target our completion time for a post-nap trip to the splash pad with the kids.  We got things wrapped up and ready to go just in time to meet the babies at the splash pad.  

After dinner and pjs, we had a lovely chat by my parents’ backyard firepit.

The next day I had to manage getting a huge doc production out, and so I headed out to the local library to use their great wifi.  I was there about eight hours and really damn hungry by the end of the day, but I got the thing out.  Meanwhile, the rest of the fam went to the zoo.

That evening, the kids settled in for a movie, and the adults played Quizzler.  My sister is really, really good at word games, and she blew us all out of the water.

That’ll serve for this post.  I’ll do the rest in a bit – right now, the boys and I and the Prof are going for a quick morning swim.  My goal is to not bill a single minute today – let’s hope no emergencies arise!

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South Carolina

This shall be picture-heavy and text-light – but here’s some pix of our week in South Carolina with my in laws.

On the road

It’s about a 10 hour drive including stops, which ain’t no small feat.  We left a little late, and got there too late for swimming, but the boys were up and at ’em first thing in the morning to head to the pool.

Immediately into the pool

Wilting

Wide view

Chilling

I got to chill some, too

Cannonball king

On Monday, I went to visit a local friend who had just had twin boys.  I spent the day with another friend – I see neither of them often enough, and it was a really great day.  The twins are doing great – born early, they’re home already.  While I was visiting the hospital, the boys went on a trip on the bus to get some school clothes.

Boys go on a walk to the bus.

The next day, we took a nice long walk along the levee.  A nice long HOT walk.

Hike with my boys

Shirts off in the heat.

Bluebird day

Mint chocolate chip cools us down.

That evening, we headed to Greenville to watch the Drive play (minor league baseball).  They have a free trolley from a giant parking lot to the stadium, and the boys were first on the trolley and got to take the whole backseat.

On the trolley to the game

Our seats were great.  The kids all sat together, and the moms went up and waited in a very long line to get hot dogs and waters and beer.

Girls at the game.

Greenville Drive

It quickly clouded over, and the kids spent much of the night watching the sky and waiting for rain.

Ominous sky

Big kids cheesin’

Little kids take selfies

An attractive sheen of sweat

. . . . which finally came, in sheets.

The ominous skies opened up, and down came the rain, so we hid under an umbrella

Some stay more dry than others

It cleared up enough that the game could finish, and the fireworks planned for afterwards were able to go off without a hitch.  We all watched, drenched.

Watching the fireworks

The skies cleared enough for fireworks

When we got home, the lights had gone out, so we lit candles and chatted a while, til they eventually came back on.

Candlelit chats

Next morning was Fourth of July – more swimming, walking around to see friends, and just enjoying the lovely day.

My “nephew” Beaux

Happy Fourth!

The Prof’s grandmother came and spent the day with us, which was lovely.  We made ice cream with a hand crank ice cream maker, and enjoyed delicious BBQ and pie.

The next day (I think?  It’s been too long to keep track, I should really do these things contemporaneously), we went on a walk down the street to get Wendy’s for lunch.

Besties

Family walk

Watching the turtles

Boardwalk

Breaktime

Lunch

Wendy’s

Double stroller

Then it was back home, for – you guessed it – more swimming.

More swimming!

Watermelon break

Kids’ table

The following day, the Prof headed out for lunch with his friends, and my SIL and I took her littlest to ballet and then all the kids to lunch at a great Mexican place.  It was SO MUCH CHEAPER than New Orleans.  I mean obviously cost of living is different in different places but I am so used to paying $16 for an enchilada – it was refreshing to pay just $6.

Horsey ride

Taco Tuesday – on Friday!

WE then had to spend the rest of the day at my SIL’s house nearby, while my parents-in-law prepared their home for a celebration of the Prof’s getting tenure this year.  They invited his friends and theirs, and the house was full of a lot of the same people who came to our engagement party in 2006.  At the same house!  It was a very special night.

Party time

My parents came!

My parents drove over from their home, quite a distance, so they could attend.  They stayed the night in a hotel nearby and came back over in the morning to spend a little time with the boys.

The boys have some Nana time

Getting close

My nieces had to head home that day, as they were hosting friends for the weekend, but we stayed the rest of the day so that we could pack and relax.  Then it was off home on Sunday, back to NOLA and work and camps and life!

Group hug good bye

 

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Lilypads

Sparkle

Hello strangers.  I have worked the last two weekends and I’m working this one too (life is terrible), but Things Have Happened and I’ve missed sharing them in this space, so here comes a photo dump and brisk whisk through the last few weeks!

When last I left you, we had just returned from a short and thrilling whirl around Texas.  That trip was really great – one for the memory banks for sure – and we’ve done more traveling since then!  After we got back, I had to hop on a plane to Atlanta to take depositions.  I came home, then turned around and almost immediately flew to Virginia- by-way-of-North-Carolina to attend a wedding.  I came back from the wedding, flew back to Atlanta for more depos, came home just in time to throw Liam a birthday party, and then at the very end of the month packed up the kids to head to the in-laws in South Carolina for July Fourth week.  June just about killed me.

The gurrrrrlzzz

My cousin got married in Virginia on Fathers’ Day weekend, and so I flew to my sister’s place a couple hours away in North Carolina, so we could drive up together.  My niece is perfect.  I took many pictures of her.

I bought her barrettes that look like little bugs.  She wore them all at once.

This little drill sergeant makes you go on lots of walks.

She’s also very “helpful” in the kitchen.

This was perhaps Walk No. 3? 4? Her Highness got tired, so the pack mule obliged.

Stopping to smell the flowers on Walk No. 6,372.

I flew in midday Friday, and another sister flew up late evening Friday, and then the four of us (three sisters plus little Hannah) drove up to Virginia for the wedding the following day.  It was Very Much Fun.  Even when Hannah pitched a fit or two – as two year olds are wont to do – and we had to stop at a rest area with a playground to get some wiggles out.

Chiquita can scream real loud when she’s mad

We met our parents and my aunt and uncle and treated everyone to lunch for Fathers’ Day.  My mother’s brother’s son was getting married – randomly, my father’s sister was also in town, so she agreed to watch Hannah during the wedding since she’s on the ‘wrong side’ and therefore would not be invited.  She is a former kindergarten teacher and kids find her magical – they had a great time together at lunch, which boded well for the evening.

Great Aunt Shenanigans!

Waitress photo bomb

Lunch was good, though it took a while, and this wedding was super early.  Nevertheless, we got through our meal and went and got ready at the hotel just in time.

Borrowed my sister’s lip sense, tried not to constantly be licking my lips. Was going for a “neutral” face, but instead ended up with bitchy

Sisters go to a wedding

Family table

Cousins

Gluten free! (Bride has celiac)

Pittsburgh cookie table, imported to Virginia wedding

Cookeeeeez

We danced quite  a bit at this wedding – enough that my back was KILLING the next day.  We also hung out with my cousin Holly much of the night – she was a real blast.  I do love my family.

The wedding was early – started at 3 – and we made the decision to drive home that night.  It was awful, but also really nice to wake up in “our own beds” (in quotes bc it’s not my ACTUAL own bed, it’s my sister’s guest room).  That day was Fathers’ Day.  We took Hannah to a really great museum that’s also sort of zoo-ish.  She calls it zoo-b.

Wearing her “sun-cocos”

Playing

Snack time

Selfie

Exploring (in her swimsuit)

Cheesin’

Riding on the train

Train Take Two – in mom’s lap this time

It was so hot. This frozen lemonade was so good.

Meanwhile the Prof took the kids out to ice cream his own self on Fathers’ Day. Trooper.

My flight home was eeeeearly the next morning, although it ended up being delayed somewhat so I was pretty late to work (as was everyone on this flight – all of us were super grumpy).  I made it into work for a day or two before heading to Atlanta once more, and then got back just in time to throw a Thursday-evening-at-the-trampoline-park birthday party for our newly minted 8 year old.

Trampoline park

Way more kids came than I expected.

Happy birthday, kid!

I staggered through work on Friday, and on Saturday we attended yet another kid birthday party – with Craig’s little bestie from school, Enrique.  They run everywhere holding hands.  IT IS VERY CUTE.

Besties

The next weekend, we packed up and headed to South Carolina, for a fun week-long trip at the Prof’s parents’ house.  And that will be our next update!  Another fun photo dump!  And then I’ll be just three weeks behind . . . 🙂

Posted in Carolina, Everyday Adventures, Holidays and Celebrations, Liam, Parents and Siblings and Cousins, Oh My! | Comments Off on Lilypads