laborofwonder

Where Whine Meets Wine

Impressively Simple Leftovers


Last weekend was craazy, followed by what’s been a fairly crazy week. Tuesday our power went out! And it didn’t get fixed until around 3:30pm yesterday! While it was a major annoyance, it wasn’t life stopping that’s for sure. Big E found his “miner’s light” (one of those flashlights that goes around your head) and Miss E has a Princess lantern (I believe both are thanks to an Auntie- thank you!) and they had lots of fun with those. They even put on a shadow puppet show for Littlest E. So sweet. Plus, since it was dark they were convinced it was bedtime almost an hour before their normal bedtime… that was awesome! And it afforded us to do some things that I otherwise would have declared myself too “busy” to do. Like walking to a lovely little cafe we like and sitting in their garden area while enjoying Yogurt Parfaits (which Big E deemed “better than candy,” and Miss E followed it with, “Or treats!” thanks in part to the shaved chocolate on top!). The older couple sitting a table away had a good chuckle over their statements. Followed up with playtime at their favorite playground. Something it’s been either too hot or rainy to do very often this summer. I think they were actually a little disappointed when the power came back on. Not much, but maybe a little. Until they realized their toast could again be toasted.

So food… leftovers, of course! Because I threw out everything that was a)going bad or b) had already gone bad or c)would never get eaten and was not worth taking up precious cooler space. I try (this is a continuous process for me!) to make sure everything continues to get eaten, not just one time and the rest thrown away… and what better reminder than a mandatory fridge cleanout! I found pre-made (and frozen) noodles, already cooked chicken, and a small container of pre-mixed-GF all-purpose flour…. so I made chicken alfredo! Yummy! The noodles are incredibly easy to make, alfredo sauce is super simple to make (and so easy to personalize into whatever your taste buds are craving most! For me it’s usually salt, for hubbyman it’s usually pepper! Bring 1 cup milk, 2 tbs butter, 2 tbs flour, and any of your favorite seasoning- I used garlic, lowry’s, pepper, sea salt, parsley, and oregano. to a boil for 2 minutes and voila- instant Mmmm.)… so that’s what we ate! What is your favorite, easy to throw together, “leftover” meal? Mine is probably salads, because I just love salads and you can throw almost any kind of (leftover) meat on top and make it especially “special.”

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Bring In Da Noise, Kick Out Da Funk


So if you read my post yesterday, you know that I’ve kind of been in a cooking funk. I don’t know if it’s the end of summer blues or just how much company we’ve had over the summer that’s left me a little burn out… as my sister-in-law says, You are the food lady. And what that means is that when you come to my house, you will be fed. I’m like your grandma (or at least my grandma)… food is one of my “love languages.” So if you come to my house, I will cook for you. If you request something, I will make it. (And I really love it when I get special requests!) At a “cousins’ dinner” I hosted last year, one of my cousins said, Who knew you’d be able to cook like this? While we all shared a laugh over it and really, I probably never would have guessed growing up that I would have cared at all about new recipes or that I’d always, always, always, have to make each and every recipe my own. I like to tell my hubbyman that he really lucked out when we got married, because at the time neither of us knew if I could really cook. (Although to a single, Navy man, anything that didn’t come from a box or a can was probably an improvement.)

So blah, blah, blah…I usually enjoy cooking, and I still have been cooking, just kind of thoughtless, easy, throw something together because I have to feed my family, kind of cooking. And while I didn’t make the eggplant chicken alfredo that I’d been planning to make, mainly because hubbyman wasn’t coming home until 7ish and I let the kids choose what they wanted for dinner. Which was phone noodles (what they call elbow noodles) and “the red sauce we like.” And can I just say what a relief it is to be able to give Miss E things with tomatoes in it again?! Whew! That poor girl! Her list of can’t haves is finally dwindling down to just a few! We’re still in the reintroduction phase, so we’re taking it slow and minimal, but so far so good!

Ok, back to me… so I found that website yesterday (from the post you read yesterday, right?) and I made them! Well, I made my version! (*grin*)

I turned the rolls into bread…and it was fabulous!

I made the frosting pink for Miss E since lots of times she gets left when it comes to deserts.

They were both phenominal! I was so impressed! Plus, I had everything I needed on hand… I guess I did a couple substitutes, but I didn’t have to run to the store for anything and they turned out great! If you want to try them, go here for the full recipe!

Notes on how mine were different: I made one batch of dough and filled one bread pan and then had enough dough left for 6 of the cream cheese rolls.

Favorite Rolls: Not only did I turn it into bread, but I didn’t have potato flakes, so I googled and found I could substitute potato flour or starch (1/2 cup flakes = 3 cups flour). I also didn’t have buttermilk, so I made my own (1 tbs lemon juice, add milk until it equals a cup. Let sit for 5 minutes. Viola!). Also since it was bread, it needed about 30 minutes. This was SO good and really very simple!

Cream Cheese Rolls: Oh this filling is so good! I made the whole batch and put the rest in the fridge- I’m thinking stuffed french toast this weekend! Or pancakes! Oh yum! So good! Anyways, you do want to make sure to push the top layer (of dough) down onto the filling, or yours will turn out like mine- with a little bubble in the middle that’s not completely filled with filling. Still good, just not quite right. And the topping, I didn’t have almond, so I just used vanilla. And I, of course, made it pink. Because my little girl hardly ever gets to partake in “deserts” and it was a way of making them special for her! She was so pleased!

GF and craving cinnamon rolls? If you’re not making the rolls/bread too, and only the cream cheese rolls, then I’d highly recommend throwing some cinnamon into the roll’s dough and if it were me, I’d throw in some almond or vanilla too. I know there’s not a lot of sugar in the dough, but I don’t think it needs more, the filling is so sweet, that it’s good without more. Definitely making these again! Yum!

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The GF Life


Today I was thinking about making some bread, because my children are sandwich fiends! And store-bought GF (GF= Gluten Free) breads are just not as yummy as homemade (then again, what bread is?) and they’re expensive. Today I came across a feed on my facebook that had a picture of some yummy rolls. I clicked on it thinking, I’ll just see if it’s GF transformable, all while inwardly feeling sorry for myself and wondering why I’d even both following something with food we can’t actually eat (I follow lots of GF cooking blogs, this was not one of them). I seriously was so excited to see the following words when opening the link: {Gluten Free} Dinner Rolls and Cream Cheese Rolls. Seriously, almost cried. Maybe I’m just feeling a little emotional this morning or something, but for some reason I was feeling overwhelmed and a little fenced in by our dietary needs. And this was like a welcomed desert oasis!

I think I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed lately, we have lots of projects going on in the house, we have a house full of little people, we have every weekend consistently booked up (last weekend we had 3 birthday parties on one day. I wasn’t feeling well so we just stayed home- our first weekend of not doing things, all summer!), my mom is going through weeks of many, many kinds of testing to figure out just what is going on with her body, and it’s looking like Littlest E is Celiac as well. Obviously, this is not an end of the world situation, and while it’s not really a life changing situation either (since we’re already a GF household), but when the majority of our children need a GF diet, it takes more thought. If it’s just one, it’s easy to just throw a couple things in my bag and we’re good to go, but when there’s two… it means I’ll have to be more thoughtful and careful over meal times. And creative. I may have to come up with some new things to make that are easy and cart-able for when we’re on the go and may not have other GF options available. Good thing I like a challenge.

 

 

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Impressively Simple


This week has been caarraaayyyzzzzyyyy! Sunday we had Miss E’s 3rd birthday party! Filled with little girls, family, and friends, and one totally overwhelmed-with-being-surrounded-by-girls Big E. I’d call the day a success. Monday I was just relaxing and letting the kids enjoy just some peace and quiet after the week of preparing for the party, along with the party itself, when I received a call from my grandmother about my mother. So, my sweet and supportive hubbyman came home and stayed with ALL of our children (and even did some cleaning!) while I picked up one of my brothers, picked up my dad from the airport, and then spent the rest of the day at the hospital with my siblings and parents while my mom underwent an angiogram (we thought an angioplasty was likely, but happy surprise- it wasn’t necessary!). By the time I woke up on Tuesday (after a late night decompressing all my feelings about the day and my feelings over my mom’s mortality) feeling: blah. More than blah, I’d been battling my allergies for over a week, and was feeling run down, headachey (I’ve had several migraines this past week), and like crawling in bed for the next few days. We also had company coming and by the time I felt really miserable, we had only an hour before their arrival. So I took some Ibuprofen and that relieved my headache and the achy-ness enough that I was able to enjoy our evening. (Hurray for another couple with kids! And they have a boy Big E’s age and a girl Miss E’s age!! And Miss E actually climbed out of my lap and played with the kids- the whole time! This is a HUGE development in the land of Miss E, as she is usually painfully shy.) After another late night, though, I was totally spent and felt completely miserable on Wednesday. (Boo!) And we ran out of kleenex before my first cup of coffee. In fact, I felt so crappy that I didn’t even care if I got to the cup of coffee!! (*collective gasp*  know, right?!) I did throw the kids in the stroller for a trip to the grocery store for the makings of my “feel better meal” and kleenex. It was painful. And I got home, only to realize that I had forgotten to get kleenex. I almost cried. Anyhow,  I spent the next couple hours cuddled up on the couch while the kids played around me.

If you’re wondering why this doesn’t feel like a recipe post… well, you’re right. Kind of. Where I’m going with this was that afterwards, I made the meal that I tend to make if I’m not feeling the greatest (or if I’m just in need of a little comfort). Most people think chicken noodle when they’re under the weather. And if I’m really sick, I would probably agree. But if you’re just under the weather enough that you’re not up to your normal self, without being worthy of a dr visit… this is my go to meal. This says comfort to me. I made tomato basil soup. I love to top it off (once it’s in my dish) with a little shredded cheese and some “croutons” (or gluten free protons as the bag calls them- I got a bunch from my in laws, nacho chili cheese, and they went perfectly!). Along with, of course, grilled cheese. If I’m just feeling a little down, I may add chicken, or some spinach, or do a specialty cheese (or even better- a spicy cheese!). But because I’m not feeling up to snuff, just generic, plain, old grilled cheese. My kids thought this was the best meal ever, and hubby didn’t seem to complain either! Win-win! So today’s impressively simple recipe is just that, it’s impressive in the fact that it never fails to make me feel better, if even momentarily.

Maybe you’re not sick, but you’ve had a long, stressful day… so go ahead and make whatever feels best to you! And I would love to know what your “pick me up” meal of choice is!

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Survival Of The Vacation


As I’ve mentioned before, the kids and I spent part of last week at Camp Arrowhead (a place dearly beloved by both mine and my husband’s families… especially because that’s where we met). It’s really a lovely experience. You stay in a cabin, or in a building, with lots of rooms that are filled with bunk beds. You have a lovely lake to swim, boat, lay out in the sun. And the dining hall…where someone else does all the cooking! As head chef of this household, I really appreciate someone else doing the work. And as much as I just wanted to go and revel in the glory of not having to plan out meals… I have a child with food allergies, and so I don’t really have that luxury. (For the full version of why we eat the way we eat, go here.) So I packed some pre-packaged meals  since I wouldn’t really have access to a kitchen to actually cook a whole meal, and lots of snacks. It turned out to be unnecessary. One of the benefits of a camp you’ve attended your whole life, is you know everyone and they know you. Plus the cook, and the cook’s family, is like family to me…so there’s that. So she had sweetly thought ahead of my family’s needs! GF Chicken nuggets and GF biscuits (for the all important PB&Js …of all the meals I make, that is the one thing they will ALWAYS eat). Plus, my kids are big vegetable and fruit eaters, so there is lots of things in that realm that they can eat.

Unfortunately, not everyone will have a cook like that, or people who are so understanding. There was a man working in the kitchen (not a camp employee, just someone volunteering to help) that was not so understanding. In fact, a comment was made to the effect of: People with allergies like that should probably just stay/eat out of the general public. And then something about how it’s not really a healthy diet anyways.  Are you kidding me?! Do they know how much of the public this would eliminate? And how unfair! I’d like him to look into my daughter’s sweet little face and tell her she has to go and eat by herself. I’d also like to see his face, when seeing my daughter’s little face, and telling him that if he feeds her the “normal” wheat laden, food-colored foods she will break out in big hives all over her body (especially her face), spend the night vomiting, and lots of time in the bathroom. Or she could have really bad symptoms. Tell me that’s fair. We don’t do this “diet” for vanity’s sake, we do this for survival. After a month of being gluten-free (GF), my MissE was free of hives that her sweet little face had for a year while the Drs (and her parents) tried to figure out what was bothering her. Thankfully, “my other mother” (who moonlights as a camp cook) said to him the things I wasn’t there to say. (I love her.)

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated event. I think people have a lot of misconceptions of allergies in general. It’s easy to think, “I’m allergic to cut grass, but it only bugs me while I’m cutting the grass.” Food allergies are not like that. You can have symptoms days after you’ve eaten something that bugs you, and they can be miserable, and they can even be life threatening. And when it’s your child, you’re going to be as cautious as you can be. So you have to be aware of the fact that people are not going to understand it and therefore not prepare for it (if you’re going to a friend’s or family’s home). I bring easy to pack, easy to put together, meals for the kids, because I know it’s likely they weren’t thinking about it (I’m not judging them- they don’t have to worry about it for themselves, so it’s easy to forget! And I’m the one responsible for her well-being.). Unfortunately, you do have to be watchful because there’s always at least one person who thinks it’ll be no big deal if they slip them something. And sometimes you’ll run across people who think they’re giving your child a “treat” that you just won’t allow them to have. Seriously, even at two, I could tell Miss E she couldn’t have the cookie that was offered to her, because it will really make your tummy hurt. And she knows that it’s true, so she doesn’t fight it! Seriously. It makes her feel that bad, that a 2 year old knows it is not worth eating that cookie.  That said, I try to keep a few GF snacks in my purse and/or diaper bag. Because while she may understand that certain foods will make her not feel good, it’s not easy to watch the kids around you (or your brother) have an Oreo while you have a carrot stick.

Thankfully, there are ways around this…for the most part. While you cannot help what other people do or cook, you can still choose to feed your children similarly to how you would at home. I brought some of their favorite snacks to camp: real fruit, fruit snacks; puff corn, beef jerky, pretzels, and cereal (all GF, of course). I also brough GF noodles, and boxed (organic, GF) macaroni and cheese, for quick, easy meals. (Which are pretty key for vacation time!) Thankfully, I didn’t have to worry about the meals (and I can’t say enough how thankful I am for that!), but the snacks were good in times of wheat-filled munchie times. The key for my kids is to have the alternative there with you. Because when offered with a cookie now, they’re not going to be satisfied with a “We’ll get something yummy later.”

For those that we’ve gotten together with that do go the extra mile and prepare something GF for my children (or anyone else they know), thank you, thank you, thank you! For those that forget- no hard feelings. My word of advice to fellow GF-ers: prepare for your host to be unprepared. My word of advice for non-GFers: Don’t feed other people’s children without consulting their parents first. For some kids, it’s a matter of life and death, and that’s not a choice for you to be making, don’t you think?

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Simply Impressive


Yesterday, my hair dresser/brother-in-law came over to #1) Give hubbyman a haircut! (He’s in a wedding this weekend, and we’d like a little less shaggydoo for it) and #2) To have me make him a wonderful vegan meal! So I am made stuffed peppers! I found hundreds of recipes, so I did my usual (look hundreds of recipes over, decide I only like one ingredient from each recipe) and combined them all…

So, here is today’s version of stuffed peppers, which in my opinion ALWAYS look impressive- no matter what you’ve put into them. And the more you put into them, the more impressive they sound!

Take 3 large, red, sweet peppers (you can use any kind, I love the flavor of red and orange, personally), cut the top off and take seeds out.

You can cook this in a 5qt slow cooker (mine is too big!), so I just did them in a 2 1/2 qt dish. Basically you want it big enough that everything fits and you can still get a lid on, but small enough that they don’t move or slide around. So whatever size that may be for you (which will of course depend on how many peppers you make as well. I’d of made more, but we’re leaving for out of town tomorrow and worried they’d go bad… and then I found out they’re great to freeze, so now I wish I would have made a couple more!!). Anyways, put peppers in dish, and set aside.

1 cup cooked rice (or quinoa)

1/2 onion

1/2 yellow zucchini, sliced

1 1/2 cups spinach

1 cup mushrooms

3 cloves garlic

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

3/4 cup spaghetti sauce (meatless)

1/2 cup of water

*While I had the rice cooking, I threw the spinach, onion, garlic, and mushrooms in some olive oil and sauteed. This next step you probably don’t have to do, but for consistency’s sake I threw it all in my food processor (just so it was more uniform, not to puree it).

Next mix rice, sauteed veggies, salt, pepper, and any other herbs you’d like to throw in (I threw in a pinch of oregano and basil) in a large bowl. This is what the kids had for dinner- it was so, so, so very yummy. I added in a pinch of cheese thinking it would need it, (don’t get me wrong, it was fantastic with it) but it was really good even without the cheese. Seriously, like it would be a terrific side in any meal, not just stuffed in peppers. So good. (Can you tell that I liked it, and was very impressed with my creation?)

Stuff rice mixture in the peppers. You don’t have to pack it in, but fill it. Next mix the water and spaghetti sauce, pouring half into the bottom of the dish and the rest over/in the peppers.I topped with quarters of the squash and threw some into the sauce in the bottom as well. For color and taste! I cooked covered at 375 for 30 minutes and then uncovered at 350 for 10 minutes.

So good! Hubbyman declared it the best began meal he’d ever had! If not making it vegan, I probably would have thrown cheese into the rice mixture. This would be a great option for a Meatless Monday meal! Have to have meat in it? I think it would go really well with a shredded chicken.

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Impressively Simple Thursday


So…I’ve done an “Impressively Simple” post before, and love to make and create meals that look and/or sound difficult, but are really easy. So, I’ve decided (and hoping to stick to!) doing an “Impressively Simple” recipe every Thursday. We’ll see how it works out. But seriously, who doesn’t want to have a repertoire of recipes that they can throw together for the surprise guests or unplanned get together that is sure to impress!?

This week is Chicken Cordon Bleu. I saw a recipe in a magazine and thought, that looks so good, but it sounds like a lot of work… which to me sounded just like a challenge! So I made it about 4 times, 4 different ways. Trying to find the best, the easiest, and the impressivest! (Yes, I am aware that’s not an actual word, but let’s just go with it ok, just this once!)

My first attempt was traditional. My second attempt was spicy. My 3rd attempt was easy. And my 4th attempt was impressive. They were all delicious.

Ok so… here’s the best that I came up with:

Usually it’s one whole chicken breast (plus everything inside) for each person, which is a whole lot of chicken…. so I butterflied it (as best I could), cut it into three strips, and made it so that it had the look of an appitizer, but the taste (and stomach filling powers) of a huge meal.

So…here’s what I feel is the easiest, easily impressive way to make chicken cordon bleu:

4 chicken breasts, cut in half length wise (so it’s like you butterflied it- kitchen scissors will do the trick) and hammer flat and even- I used a rolling pin to do this). Cut into 2 or 3 long (1 1/2  inch width) strips (depending on size of the breast)

Place one slice of cheese (I used the spicy cheddar I’d used previously, I used swiss, and I also used just plain cheddar, because it’s what I had… all of them were good. I vote you pick out your favorite cheese and use that -I’m always going to vote for using what you already have!)

Lay a slice of ham (I also used prosciutto -because I love it- and that was really wonderful!) over the cheese and roll tightly.

You could secure it with a toothpick, but I found that it wasn’t necessary if you rolled them tightly.

*This part is optional* dip rolled chicken in egg. It just helps the next step to stick the chicken.

I dipped them in 1 1/2-2 cups of almond flour that I seasoned with seasoning salt and pepper. (If you are not a GF household, you can also use breadcrumbs, as it traditionally calls for)

Place in greased pan (with the seam on the bottom)  and top each with some shredded cheese (I used a shredded asiago/parm blend)

bake @ 350 degrees for 35 minutes. And viola mini chicken cordon bleu! In healthier portion sizes! Use as appetizers or as the entree! I made it a combination of both! Once as the main entree (in whole chicken breast form… so stuffing, which is why I thought about making the portions smaller…) and then when I made the smaller rolls, I served 2 rolls over broccoli and rice. Very good!

Variation: This adds time, but it was really good, so I’m going to throw this out there, just in case you want to go above and beyond: Before placing the cheese and ham on your chicken, drizzle each chicken slice with some hollandaise sauce. (here’s the recipe for that I used) I had all the ingredients to just make it (And I wanted to start out my chicken cordon bleu process by starting with the fanciest version I could and work my way from there), but they sell packets for easy hollandaise sauce at your local grocer and that will work too. Just before baking drizzle remaining sauce over the rolled chicken. I would highly recommend trying it with the sauce. So yummy. I’m not sure if that’s traditional or not, but I read a lovely blog where he tried it, and figured I’d give it a go- well worth it!

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Spicy Mama


You would think my husband would know my cooking by now, right? You would think that after all these years he’d know to take a “taste test bite” before he starts shoveling it in like someone who’s never tasted the wonders of food before. Well, apparently, when hungry, that goes out the window. I had gotten this amazing cheese at the grocery store and was excited to try it out! I made “macaroni” (or my homemade version of) for the kids and so I was able to pull this amazing dish out of the leftovers that are currently taking over my fridge. Which brings me back to my original point- the food shoveling. You see, the cheese I used was cheddar. Habanero cheddar. And since both hubbyman and I are spice enthusiasts, I thought this would be a great way to spice up plain ‘ol macaroni. (pun not intended, but what a happy coincidence! *wink*) I was so excited to see his expression! Unfortunately, he though it was just plain and shoveled it in, only to have his mouth catch on fire, and exclaim, “What did you put in this?!” I’m not sure if he thought it was another prank or not (see here, here, and here), but I just about cried because I’d been so excited about my new twist on a classic that I did not see this coming at all! I probably should have gone with it being a prank.

Spicy MamaRoni

noodles (I used rice)

Parmigiano Reggiano (or whatever kind of parmesan you have on hand)

Habanero Cheddar (for a little kick but less overall spice, you could use pepper jack)

milk

butter

flour (I used coconut flour)

oregano

cracked pepper

garlic

seasoning salt

It’s really, really, really simple. Boil your water, cook your noodles, and while noodles are cooking in a sauce pan over med. heat cook 1 cup of milk, 2 tbs butter, and 2 tbs flour. Bring to a boil, about 2 min. Add in cheese. O used about 1/2 cup of the habanero cheddar and 1/2 parm. Add in seasoning (I just used pinches of mine because the cheese already had so much flavor). I also added in about a cup-cup and a half of cubed chicken, because I had it on hand. I think it would be really great with spinach and maybe even broccoli. That’s how I’ll try it next time. I garnished with some diced red onions that needed to be used up and it added a nice crunch!  This was seriously, so, so, so good! And once he knew it was spicy, hubbyman also agreed it was good. And he had some for lunch the next day and declared it really good. As in something he’d like to eat again…when he’s been properly informed of the spice factor.

(end note: I highly recommend going to your local grocer and get the most flavor infused variety of cheese you can find, and then coming up with ways to use it! Put it in a recipe that you already make that maybe could use a little excitement!  Plus, cheese freezes pretty well, so cut it/shred it up and freeze it in “this is how much I’d use before it goes bad” amounts!)

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Sun, Sun, Sunshiney Day


So yesterday was one of those days where I didn’t really feel like doing very much, so it was like a breathe of fresh air to come upstairs to sunshine after such a grey day. I am so thrilled that FINALLY things are starting to look a little more like spring around here. Of course, it was less than 48 hours ago the last time it snowed, so I’m still a little gun shy. And this may sound crazy to you, but to me, salads feel like sunshine. So a salad is what I made! It was both delicious and convenient (because I already had everything on hand!)

Super Sunshine Salad

Romain lettuce

Spinach

1 lb steak

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tomato (thin slices)

1/4 cup red onion (diced or thin slices)

1/3 cup roasted almonds

1/3 cup raisins

1 cup mandarin oranges

herbs: thyme, pepper, sea salt, garlic, and some from my lovely jar of herbs de provence

*This made enough for three adult salads, plus a little meat for hubbyman to take a salad with him today for lunch.

 I had all that steak leftover from the yakiniku, so I cut 1lb (mine was a black Angus round steak) of the steak into strips. Cook over med-high heat with the cider vinegar, add the spices as well. I love thyme and peppered steaks. You can of course add in whatever your favorite seasonings are. Because the rest of the salad’s ingredients are sweet, I wanted the steak’s flavor to contrast.

When steak was done, I threw in the lettuce and spinach, followed by the onions, tomatoes, raisins, and almonds. I topped it off with the oranges. You can of course do it in whatever order you want, with whatever toppings you want. Add in some, take something out… whatever! There is so much flavor in this salad that I did not use a dressing, just a little olive oil drizzled over. Perfect! So yummy! Even the big hungry men said that it was terrific!

Don’t they look delicious? And all that color! To me it just says delicious, sunshine, and happiness. Or those words in any order! I could truly eat a salad every day! Especially when they’re as flavor full as these! Hubbyman says he never knew “rabbit food” could taste good until my salads!

And today it is finally nice enough that the kids can be out on the deck playing (which they love!), and I’m thinking it is looking like a great night for grilling!! I had some things I was going to blab blog about, but I think that instead I will join my children out on the deck! With the sunshine salad I’m having for lunch, of course! What meal “screams” sunshine to you?

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Sake it to me!


So today I actually got my house totally cleaned! organized ok, ok, so it’s picked up, at least to the naked eye, or more accurately, or at least hopefully, to the visiting eye! Things are where they’re supposed to be, beds are made, and toys were put away… and although I didn’t have time to mop the kitchen floor, I did get vacuuming done (upstairs). That counts for something, right?

Although with all the commotion I’m hearing going on downstairs, I’m guessing that it’s being undone as we speak as I type. Ugh. If only it were sunny. I love cleaning on sunny days. Don’t ask me why, but give me a sunny Saturday, a glass of wine (as long as it’s after noon, of course), some music, and someone to keep the kids away…and I am a happy camper! Weird, right?  But days like today, where it’s just blah, grey, and cold… I just want to curl up on the couch and watch a movie. I would really do just that too, if today weren’t Thursday (*my TV night* where my husband is usually sweet enough to keep the kids away while I relax and pretend that my only concern is if Callie and her baby really do make it after all, and will Lexi and Sloan ever make it work?) After all, I was so productive yesterday! But I’ll (hopefully!) stick to my guns, and get some laundry done. So that while I’m relaxing tonight I can feel like it’s not a total waste of time, since I’ll also be folding clothes! Need a good excuse or a way to make yourself feel better about taking time for yourself? Let me know, I’ll totally help you out! My favorite is eating salsa while watching “my shows.” Since Miss E can’t have anything with tomatoes, I’m really doing her a favor by making sure there isn’t any in the house…right? I ♥ my reasoning. (ha! It doesn’t usually actually work, the warding off the mommy-guilt, but I do what I can.)

Well, since I was so productive yesterday, and we had more visitors coming for dinner… we (and by we I mean mainly hubby-man) fed the kids (ours and our nephew) the chicken from the day before! (Yay for leftovers! Plus yay for tricky mamas! My nephew has the sweetest brown eyes, but can be a bit of a picky eater. I made dinner into a race -see who could eat the most, not the fastest- and even did a refill on the chicken when he wasn’t looking! That’s right Auntie got him to eat 2nds even! Yay for me!) Anyhow, then we  (same we as before…) made the “adult food” (which basically just means there’s tomatoes in it, or in this case- they needed to be fed immediately),

Back when hubby-man was also a military-man he did a deployment to Japan, where he fell in love with Korean bbq. When he came home he insisted on learning how to replicate it. And it was time well spent! This is another one of those meals that can look -and taste- like you spent a lot of time and money on it, but neither is true. And ooooh is it yummy! Hubby-man loves this recipe for crowd-feeding! I think he secretly loves that he makes it and therefore everyone oohs and aahhs over his culinary abilities.(I love that I’m not doing the cooking!)  Plus, then we get to use all the fun things purchased in Japan! And I’m down for any reason to get out (and use) the Sake set! Something about the miniture scale of it all just makes me feel like a little girl at a tea party! I love it!

Just talking about it has made me realize that it’s lunch time, I’m hungry, and there’s a dish of it set aside specifically for my lunch! I highly suggest you try it! Sooo good!

Meat and Veggies:

4 lb Round Steak (we used black angus)

3 bell peppers (we used 2 red and 1 orange)

2 med. yellow onions

Slice the beef, peppers, and onions in thin strips.

We realized upon cutting it up that it was a ton of food! And our guests ended up dropping off our nephew while they ran some errands. Which worked out perfectly because YAY LEFTOVERS!! So what we did was cook half and froze (the already sliced everything) the other half. So next time we’re thinking that it sounds good, or get unexpected company, no trips to the store will be necessary, we’ll just whip it out of the freezer and voila! You should also know that I LOOOVE peppers and so there’s nothing sparing about the amount of vegetables put in here. You could also add lots of other things, peas, mushrooms, broccoli… (those are things I’d like to try adding in). Plus, if you wanted to make it without meat, it would still be delicious! This is a good recipe to cook with more than one person, or do the slicing in advance. So that either one person slices while the other makes the sauce, or you’ve got it all prepared in advance and can make the sauce and you’re good to go. Either way.

Yakiniku Sauce

1 sm. onion

1 clove garlic

3 tbsp white wine

1 tbsp sea salt

2 tsp honey

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp roast sesame seed (lightly ground)

3 spring onion very finely chopped

I throw the onion, garlic, and spring onions in the food processor, but you can simply just finely chop them. Place in a saucepan with wine (or white wine vinegar) and cook for about 3 minutes while stirring fairly frequently. Add in the sea salt, honey, sesame oil, and lemon juice and cook for another minute. Let it cool and then add the sesame seeds.

Then throw this delicious concoction on top of the meat and veggies (we cook ours on our big griddle because it’s the perfect size, but you can always do it on the stovetop.) Making sure to stir so that everything is evenly coated. Serve over rice (or quinoa)!  Oh, and the sauce can be saved too. I like the extra for pouring over rice- yum! (plus tomato-less and gluten free!)

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