Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Hanukkah Dreidel Decorating

The winter holiday season is one of my most favorite times of the year. I love how each year we create and celebrate all sorts of family traditions. We celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas in our home so there is a lot of celebrating! One of the kids' most favorite ways to celebrate Hanukkah is by decorating new dreidels each year. And they love to go through our collection and remember what we've done in the past. This year we decided to keep it simple and sparkly. Head over to Honest to Nod to see what we're spinning this season! 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A FUN Kids Table for Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is one of my most favorite holidays! I love getting up early, having my coffee while reviewing my cooking schedule for the day, and having friends and family hang the whole day before dinner. We always have our kiddos eat with the adults, but this year I also wanted to add a kids table that focused on fun and creative activities that are also in the spirit of the holiday. Head over to Honest to Nod to see how we plan to do just that!

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Friday Five!!

Fall is finally here in D.C.! I've got the fireplace tuned up, my slippers out, and cozy sweaters ready to go. We've been cooking up comfort food, crafting, and holiday prepping. And you know just everyday life too, including ...

Making -- Cam got a chance to test out one of OOLY's new gift sets this week and they are fab! The So Much Color Art Gift Set is chock full of rainbow goodness for sketching and writing and I am ALL for gifting art supplies instead of more toys. So add these to your holiday list!

Playing -- we break out the puzzles when the weather turns cold and Kane is still going strong on presidents.

Cooking -- when Cooking Light called this Magic Green Sauce, they meant it. I could put it on everything, but it is absolutely delish on these Pork Medallions with Scallions.

Wanting -- I'm obsessed with skin masks lately and have been wanting to try a charcoal mask and this one is called a pudding, so ....

Reading -- One of Kane's buddies gave him Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth for his birthday and we are lovinghte quirky characters. And I just started Little Fires Everywhere and have such high hopes!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

All American Chili + 30 Days of Dinner!

There is a lot not to like about America right now, but if this chili is All American, then at least we've got that. Because it's DELICIOUS. Something about the combo of proteins that just makes it absolutely fantastic. And it just gets better after sitting for a bit too, so leftovers are still crazy good. I've taken to making a double batch and freezing one because it's become the kids fave nacho topping for an after-school snack (hence the nacho photo above). But it's just as tasty on it's own, so make sure to add this to your fall menu!

This fall has continued with a lot more dining out and take out than I'd like, but that's just how its going. I've kept up with the Plated a few times a week and that's helped a lot too. Nevertheless, there are some new goodies mixed in.

All American Chili 
(from Cooking Light

- 6 ingredients hot turkey Italian sausage
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lb ground sirloin
- 1 jalapeño pepper
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 1/4 cups Merlot or other fruity red wine
- 2, 28-ounce cans no-salt-added whole tomatoes, undrained and coarsely chopped
- 2, 15-ounce cans no-salt-added kidney beans, drained
- 1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese

1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Remove casings from sausage. Add sausage, onion, and the next 4 ingredients (onion through jalapeño) to pan; cook 8 minutes or until sausage and beef are browned, stirring to crumble.

2. Add chili powder and the next 7 ingredients (chili powder through bay leaves), and cook for 1 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in wine, tomatoes, and kidney beans; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

3. Uncover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard the bay leaves. Sprinkle each serving with cheddar cheese ... or save and serve over nachos!

*               *               *

Day 1 (F) -- Slow Cooker Ramen 
Day 2 (Sat) -- dinner out 

Day 5 (T) -- Spinach and Feta sausage sandwiches 
Day 6 (W) -- Giordano's pizza for Kane's birthday! 
Day 7 (Th) -- Crispy Flounder with Spinach Orzo and Tomato-Olive Tapenade (Plated) 
Day 8 (F) -- leftovers 
Day 9 (Sat) -- Shawarma Turkey Burgers with Roasted Tomatoes, Tahini, and Chickpea Salad (Plated) 
Day 10 (Sun) -- dinner out 

Day 11 (M) -- Baked Thai Pineapple Salmon in Foil 
Day 12 (T) -- Slow Cooker Cholula Shredded Beef Tacos
Day 13 (W) -- Sausage Ragù over Polenta (big hit with the kids)
Day 14 (Th) -- dinner out
Day 15 (F) -- leftovers
Day 16 (Sat) -- brinner
Day 17 (Sun) -- Crockpot Beef Chili (I use jalapeños for the peppers because I find it too mild without)

Day 18 (M) -- Spinach and Feta sausage sandwiches (obviously my new go-to quick meal)
Day 19 (T) -- dinner out
Day 20 (W) -- Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
Day 21 (Th) -- leftovers/brinner
Day 22 (F) -- dinner out in NJ
Day 23 (Sat) -- dinner out in NJ
Day 24 (Sun) -- dinner out

Day 25 (M) -- dinner out
Day 26 (T) -- dinner out
Day 27 (W) -- Spicy Crunchy Shrimp Bowls with Sushi Rice and Pickled Radish (Plated)
Day 28 (Th) -- All American Chili
Day 29 (F) -- dinner out
Day 30 (Sat) -- dinner out

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Friday Five!!

It's such a gorgeous fall day outside that I don't even care that I didn't get to any other posts this week! I'd promise I would next week, but between the kids and dog, freelance work, planning several celebrations, and just trying to keep up with all the world's WTF moments, it's probably unlikely. I'll try though! We actually had a pretty fabulous week, all things considered. Check out what made our little world go 'round this week ....

Reading -- we just started Chelsea Clinton's "It's Your World: Get Informed, Inspired, & Get Going" and the kids are hooked. Some of the chapters look real meaty for reading aloud, but we're going to give it a try. In an effort to keep it real while also keeping up with Kane's historical reading, I also just started "The Barbarous Years." Not my normal reading choice, but I'm trying to expand my literary horizons too.

Making -- Cam and I got to check out Kid Made Modern's new Sparkle Stash this week and made some super fab clip-on earrings.

Playing -- Kane's kindle access has dwindled down to nothing recently, so we had to resort to old fashioned video game turned board games this week.

Cooking -- this Sausage Ragù over Polenta is defintely a new fall favorite -- it's super easy, everyone loved it, I bet the sauce would be good over pasta too.

Wanting -- our kitchen was built with space for a teeny tiny refrigerator. When the original one broke, there was only one that would fit in the same spot and I hate it. Plus an adult who lives in our home who is not me broke the crisper drawer and I haven't been able to find a replacement. So my veggies are equally unhappy. A major clean out and organization is needed and I think these will help! 

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Friday Five!!

I would say that I'm happy it's Friday, but I feel like each day this month the world is bringing a fresh dose of WTF. At the risk of posting even less than I have been, I just might have to get rid of all technology for a while to reset. But if we ignore all the crazy being slung this week, this is what else we had going on ....

p.s. damn you, Nats. This town just really needed a win in something this year.

Cooking -- in my ongoing quest to try new chili recipes, we checked out this cross-mac-and-cheese version this week. The kids loved it, but I'm still on the fence about whether I like the chili / pasta combo. 

Making -- we haven't have much time to do a lot of making this school year, but I did promise the kids that we could go alllll out for Halloween this year. So we spent last weekend decorating the outside of our house and it's looking pretty spooky! I actually read the directions on the spider webs this time -- who knew!? 

Playing -- one of my favorite 2nd grade math games from Kane last year was Yektti. There are lots of different variations on the basic sorting and guessing game and I'm so happy that it's Cam's turn this year. We've been playing a bunch! 

Reading -- Kane has really gotten into history of the world wars. I'm pretty much history in one ear, out the next. So my mom got him some really fabulous kids history books on WWI, WWII, and the Vietnam War for his birthday. He's obsessed. He asked to stay up to read to himself the other night for the first time ever. On that same note, he really likes to get into obscure historical trivia so we just started listening to the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast

Wanting -- I left my old leather slip on shoes in San Fran because they were totally cooked after all that walking. I need a new pair for fall and you can't go wrong with rose gold

Monday, October 9, 2017

Stifatho + 30 Days of Dinner!!

This past month has mostly consisted of me trying to figure out back-to-school madness while trying to stay on top of freelance work and dealing with the dog. We had a fairly lazy summer so it hasn't been the smoothest of transitions. Actually, the kids seem to be handling it totally fine—I'm the one spinning (you might have noticed I've barely posted on the blog!). But I feel like I've got a new meal plan schedule in place that might actually work. I had to buckle down on cooking earlier in the day or slow cooking at the beginning of the week and shift our Plated meals to later in the week. I need to still ratchet down on the dining out, but I also have to let go of the idea that I can actually cook every weeknight (although the kids' sushi habit needs some reining in too).

In any event, it's most definitely fall in D.C. and we've all been craving warm, spiced, slow-cooked meals. This Greek Stew is one of our family's most favorites and I always double it for leftovers. Some of the ingredients sound kind of random (currants?), but don't skip them, they all make the dish.

(slightly modified from Dialed-in Nutrition)

- 3 tbsp olive oil 
- 2 - 3 lb stew beef cut into 1.5" cubes 
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 10 garlic cloves, lightly crushed 
- 1 cup tomato puree 
- 1/2 cup dry red wine 
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar 
- 2 bay leaves 
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 whole cloves 
- salt and pepper to taste 
- 2 tbsp currants 
- 1 cup walnut halves 
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese 

1. In a dutch oven, heat olive oil and sear meat on all sides. Work in batches to get a nice sear on all meat. Place in bowl to catch the drippings. 

2. Add onions and garlic and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add tomato puree, wine, and wine vinegar to deglaze the dutch oven. Return meat. Add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, clove, and salt and pepper to taste. 

3. Cover dutch oven and braise over low heat for about an hour. Add the currants and braise until meat is very tender, about another hour. Add the walnuts and cook 20 minutes more. Sprinkled with feta cheese and serve. 

*                    *                    *

Day 1 (W) -- Baked Beef Meatballs with Sweet Spices
Day 2 (Th) -- dinner out
Day 3 (F) -- dinner in Chicago
Day 4 (Sat) -- dinner in Chicago
Day 5 (Sun) -- dinner in Chicago

Day 6 (M) -- dinner out
Day 7 (T) -- Greek Chicken Sausage Sandwiches; roasted potatoes 
Day 8 (W) -- Cod Basquaise with Yellow Rice (Plated)
Day 9 (Th) -- Seared Pork Chops with Mushroom, Zucchini, and Pea Gratin (Plated)
Day 10 (F) -- brinner
Day 11 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 12 (Sun) -- Grilled Lemon Chicken Salad

Day 13 (M) -- dinner out
Day 14 (T) -- Slow Cooker Jalapeño Popper Chicken Chili
Day 15 (W) -- Crispy Salmon with White Beans and Kale (Plated)
Day 16 (Th) -- Sticky Sesame Cauliflower with Vegetable Fried Rice (Plated) -- everyone loved the fried rice, the all veggie dinner not so much.
Day 17 (F) -- Greek Marinated Flank Steak and veggie tray
Day 18 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 19 (Sun) -- dinner out

Day 20 (M) -- dinner out
Day 21 (T) -- Crockpot Turkey White Bean Pumpkin Chili -- several friends recommended this and while it was good, I thought it needed a lot more seasoning. Will try again and add a little kick!
Day 22 (W) -- Sheetpan Chili Dijon Pork Tenderloin; roasted potatoes; spinach salad
Day 23 (Th) -- Salmon Burgers with Chive Aioli and Mache (Plated)
Day 24 (F) -- dinner out
Day 25 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 26 (Sun) -- burgers and salad in NJ for Joel's family birthday dinner

Day 27 (M) -- Beef and Cheese Empanadas with Salsa Roja and Spinach Salad (Plated)
Day 28 (T) -- Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Soup -- I tried to rush this one and added extra pasta too soon. So it came out more like a bake with soggy pasta. But the flavors were there, so I'll try again.
Day 29 (W) -- Indian Butter Chicken with Sautéed Spinach + Naan (Plated)
Day 30 (Th) -- Soy-Glazed Steak with Carrot, Edamame, and Avocado Salad (Plated)