Monday, September 24, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 09/24 to 09/30

Hello, and Happy First Monday of Fall!  Now that fall is here, I am looking forward to all the fun things that come with the autumn weather.  Leaves turning gold and falling, jumping in leaf piles, scarves, pumpkin patch adventures, and everything else that comes along with this time of the year.  I am even looking forward to the cold weather. 

This past week we followed the menu plan for the most part.  Some of the things got flip flopped around but we still had what was planned, just mixed up the days a bit.  The only day we didn't end up using at all was the Mexican Chicken from Sunday, we ended up having pizza delivered (a lack of motivation to cook is my only excuse).

So here's what's cooking at our place this week:

Garlic Bread
(Ashton has been asking for this all weekend )

Pot Roast



Mexican Chicken

Crispy Garlic Roasted Chicken

I'm also sort of hoping to make some pumpkin bread or possibly pumpkin cookies this week if time allows, but we will see.  This week Ashton and Sydney both have Open House at school so the baking may just be put on the back burner.  I'm also planning a Costco trip this weekend, and that usually takes awhile (I love to meander the aisles and look ☺). 
Linking up over at Laura's Menu Plan Monday as usual.
So what's your family having for dinner?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

Happy first day of fall!  Today is the official beginning of one of my favorite seasons (the other being spring). I love the change of seasons, the fall colors, the falling leaves, and the comforting food that gets cooked as the weather starts to turn colder.  In my household, we are celebrating the beginning of fall with cupcakes.  Not just any cupcakes of course though, we are celebrating with Pumpkin Cupcakes with a Salted Caramel Frosting (very fall themed).  So Happy Fall, and enjoy celebrating however you and your family bring in this wonderful season.

Pumpkin Cupcakes and Salted Caramel Frosting
from Made in Melissa's Kitchen

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. coarse sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line the cupcake pan with paper liners and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the brown sugar, white sugar, butter, and eggs.  Beat on medium speed until well combined.  Add in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice.  Mix on low until smooth.  Fold in the pumpkin puree.  

Pour the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 full.  Put them in the oven for about 20 - 25 minutes, or until the tops spring back when touched and a cake tester comes out clean when inserted in the center.  Transfer to a wire rack and let them cool completely.

Makes ~ 18 cupcakes.
Salted Caramel Frosting
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick salted butter
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups powdered sugar
In a saucepan, stir together granulated sugar and water.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Cook without stirring until mixture turns a deep amber color, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla, stirring until very smooth.  Let caramel cool for about 20 minutes, until it is just barely warm and still pourable. Alternatively, you could use just under 1/2 cup of your favorite caramel sauce.  I actually used the one I made the other day.  You can find that recipe here.
In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and salt together until lightened and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar.  Mix until thoroughly combined.
Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the caramel.  Beat on medium high speed until light and airy, and completely mixed (about 2 minutes).  Mixture should be ready to use without refrigeration.  If your caramel was too hot when added, it will cause your icing to be runny.  If this happens refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. 

Source:  Made in Melissa's Kitchen, 2010.

(Linking this up over at "Or So She Says" Link up Party)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Senior Sensibility

Yesterday was the All Senior Picnic in the little town I call home.  While I am not quite a senior yet, I do work for a company that provides transportation services for the elderly and disabled, as well as the general public.  This year, I was asked to represent the company at the picnic in the form of having a booth. 

So a customer service rep and myself had a super snazzy booth all set up.  It was all glitz and glam (actually, it was a table covered with a blue cloth and a sign that said "Seniors ride for free."  We also had some hard candy, because we're high rollers like that)

So there I was, holding down the fort, representing for my company, by handing out pencils and little flashy doodads to all the cute little seniors that walked by.  Most of them were super polite, while practically swiping everything on the table into their little goody bags; but one individual in particular stood out.

An elderly gentleman walked by and was asking about the free passes that we have available.  The passes are good for the fixed route bus services in our town for individuals who are 65 years and older.  He seemed to be hard of hearing, so I had to repeat myself several times while practically speaking directly into his ear canal.  A little uncomfortably close, but acceptable considering the noise level at the time.  The gentleman walked off.

The same man then returned to our little booth about an hour later.  He smiled as he walked up in a friendly old man sort of way.  He then said to me, "So I can ride you for free?"

I smiled back and replied, "I don't drive the buses, but you can ride the with the fixed route services for free."  I assumed he said "So I can ride with you for free" so I of course indicated that he would be riding with the drivers, not office staff.

He smiled again and said, "That's not what I meant."

I laughed, because I didn't really know what to say and the old pervert walked away.

This is not the first time something like this has happened.  I used to work as a waitress at a retirement community where it was common knowledge to keep yourself at least arms length from several residents if you wanted to keep your tush to yourself.

But seriously?  What has happened to the seniors of today though that they think it's okay to proposition young women at vendor booths? It is truly disappointing to see how far the sensibilities of seniors has fallen.  Why is it that society has drawn a line saying that while it would be completely off base for a young man to say something like this to anyone, but if it's a senior citizen, its okay, they're just a harmless old person?  That this behavior should just be chalked up to dementia of some sort as society just brushes it off to the dusty corners of it's room full of issues.

Don't get me wrong.  Most senior citizens don't behave this way.  But the ones that do.... they really are pretty skeevie.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Salted Caramel Sauce

The first day of fall is only a few days away... and I am pretty excited about it!  In order to celebrate, I am making a really great fall themed recipe.  But before I can make this tasty fall themed recipe, salted caramel sauce is in order.  So here is the recipe for some tasty, almost drinkable (it is that good), salted caramel sauce.  Enjoy.

Salted Caramel Sauce
from Heather's French Press Blog

1 cup of sugar
6 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup of cream
1/2 tablespoon of fleur de sel (any coarse sea salt will be fine)

In a saucepan over medium-high, heat the sugar.  It will clump together at first, but then will begin to bubble and melt.  It actually looks pretty chunky and icky at first... but it gets better.

Stir often.  When it is melted and golden in color (do not burn), add the butter all at once.  This will hiss a little at you and possible splatter a little so be careful.

When the butter is completely melted, add the cream and stir the mixture well.  Finally, take the mixture off of the heat and add the salt.  Make sure it is mixed in completely, otherwise there will be a lone clump of salt, which really isn't very tasty by itself.

Let the caramel sauce cool some, and then pour into a jar with a tight fitting lid.  Store in the refrigerator.

Source:  Heather's French Press Blog, 2012

(This is being linked up over at Mandatory Mooch's Tasty Thursday)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Funeral Potatoes

Yesterday evening, I had the pleasure of being cooked for.  While that really doesn't sound like something that is super amazing, for me, it is.  I am the main cook in my house so when someone else cooks for me, it is AMAZING!

My friend April cooked Funeral Potatoes for the kids and me.  I was a little skeptical at first, I mean they are called Funeral Potatoes... But oh Mylanta!  They are so good.

Not only did I have a second helping, but the kids both had more and Ashton advised that it was a dish we could have again! So, to my dear friend April:  "Thank you for dinner!  It was delicious!"

So, here's the recipe for these fabulous Funeral Potatoes, just in case someone is cooking dinner for you... or you want to make them yourself, trust me, you will not be disappointed!

**This is not the actual Funeral Potatoes we ate (although it looks similar).  We dug into it too fast to actually take a picture**

Funeral Potatoes
from April at Defining Bliss

1 bag of Hash browns
1 brick of cream cheese
1 family size can of cream of chicken soup
8 oz. sour cream
1 bag of cheddar cheese
Crushed cornflakes
1 stick melted butter

Mix together all the ingredients excluding the toppings.  Dump into a 9 x 13 pan.  Top with cornflakes and butter.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until it's hot all the way through.

Then devour.

Now I know these instructions aren't super specific on amounts and what not, but you really don't have to be too specific when whipping this up.  Also, April added bacon to it when she cooked it for us, which was super tasty. (Bacon seriously makes everything better),  She said it also would be really good with chicken.

Also, linking this up to the Mandatory Mooch Tasty Thursday Link Party.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Constipation and Night Terrors

Every once in awhile, Ashton wakes up at night screaming or crying because of bad dreams.  He is inconsolable usual for several minutes and eventually calms down and falls asleep.  Last night it happened again.  We (my husband and me) have a difference of opinion on how they should be handled.

ME:  Ashton woke up crying again last night

HIM:  Did you tell him to knock it off and go to bed.  Just tell him to stop crying.

ME:  No, he was upset.  I sat with him and told him it was OK.  It's okay for him to cry.

HIM:  He's a boy.  He doesn't need to cry all the time.

ME:  Do you want him to grow up to be emotionally constipated?

HIM:  Emotionally constipated?

ME:  Yes, emotionally constipated.  His emotions will be backed up so much until his emotional colon is so full it explodes.  Then, there will be shit everywhere.

HIM:  (silence)

I think I won this one.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 09/17 to 09/23

Hello, and Happy Monday!  Amazingly enough, this is actually being posted on a Monday (sadly, only because I started working on it on Sunday ☺).  Last week, I skipped out on  the whole menu plan thing, and in fact, for the most part, the whole blogging thing in general.  I didn't really do a whole lot on here.  This week should be a little better.

Things have been a bit hectic here.  While I originally thought that the beginning of the school year would bring some relief to the madness that is my life, it has only made things a little crazier.  I've found that while Sydney enjoys preschool, it definitely has changed her ability to handle issues in the evening, she just is way more tired and unable to handle certain situations like she had before she was going to school.  I'm sure this will pass, but I hope it goes quickly!

Ashton has also been more tired, so he has been a little bit of a crabby patty as well.  This has resulted in more arguments between them and as a result of this, more headaches for me.

So here we go, here is my family's menu plan for the week:

Twice Baked Potatoes
Steamed Broccoli

Leftover Night
(Possibly funeral potatoes* - if there aren't any leftovers to consume)

Cashew Chicken*
Brown Rice
Steamed Green Beans

Lil' Smokies
Macaroni and Cheese

Garlic Bread

Homemade Corndogs
French Fries

Mexican Chicken Breasts

This week, I'm going to be testing out the cashew chicken from the Six Sisters Stuff, so hopefully it turns out yummy.  I seem to feel I've read that it was pretty yummy somewhere (other than on their blog), so hopefully it is.  Also, this week my nieces and nephews are coming over Friday evening, so it will be an interesting adventure cooking for them (altogether there will be 3 adults and 6-7 kids).

So what does your families menu look like this week?  Need more ideas?  Check out Laura's Menu Plan Monday for plenty of dinner planning ideas.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

So You Had a Bad Day

Have you ever had a day where everything sucks, you kids are driving you insane, and you really just want to crawl into a closet and shut the door, possibly while chugging a bottle of wine straight from the bottle?

No, oh, well me neither.... not.

Yesterday was a tough day.

Everything started off like the normal Saturday.  The kids woke me up at the crack of dawn to feed them breakfast (I literally had to drag myself to the kitchen after the repeatedly poked me in the back stating they were starving), I started to do my weekly clean everything in the entire house routine (after several cups of coffee), and then the kids were sent outside to play while things in the house were taken care of.  It's funny how life gives you the sense of normalcy before it lays the smack down on you.

Not even 10 minutes after the kids had been sent outside it started.  In, out, in, out.  The kids just kept going in and out and in and out.

Ashton:  "Mom, Doodles (Sydney's nickname) hit me"

Me:  "Doodles, don't hit or your going to come inside"

Sydney:  "I didn't hit him."

5 minutes later

Ashton:  "Mom, Jaycob is being mean to me"

Me:  "How is he being mean to you"

Ashton:  "He threw the ball at me"

Me:  "Jaycob, did you throw the ball at him?"

Jaycob:  "Well yeah, we're playing football"

On and on this went until an hour or two until I just called it quits and told them to play in their rooms for awhile.  The normal sibling  bickering and fighting of course ensued.

Fast forward to about 2 o'clock.

I was just finally sitting down from cleaning up the house and the doorbell rings.  When I opened the door there was a woman selling a cleaning concentrate that supposedly cleans pretty much anything.  Normally, I am pretty good about just telling solicitors that I am just not interested, whether they are the Mormon witnesses, Door-to-door cleaner salesman, Schwann's, or the Jehovah Witnesses, I just tell them no, and just shut the door; but not today.

This young lady was dressed in skin tight white distressed skinny jeans, a loose purple shirt, with a huge backpack and a cleaning rag and bottle of cleaner in her hand.  She was pretty tough looking, and she talked with an accent.

She of course went on and on about her amazing cleaning product.  I'm not sure exactly what she said it does, but I caught her saying 'Gurl' a few times, she mentioned the streets of Seattle, and also mentioned her partner who apparently drives a white van without windows and is bald.  She even mentioned he looks like one of those guys who picks up little kids with candy.  Then, of course, she asked me if I would use something as amazing as whatever cleaner she was selling.  I said well sure, if it works (translation: If agreeing gets you to leave).

The young woman then said, "Well if you would use it why don't you buy it?"

In my head,  I heard, "Buy it, or I will cut you and have my partner pick up your children."

Needless to say, that $40 bottle of cleaner better work, because otherwise I paid the woman $40 just to get her to leave my front door.

After the cleaner lady incident, it was nice and calm for a good hour or two, sort of like the eye of the hurricane or the calm before the storm.

After Sydney woke up from her afternoon nap, I had to pick up some hamburger buns for dinner.  We were having sloppy joes, so of course I was missing the most important part of a sloppy joe, the buns.

Ashton decided he wanted  to come to the store with me and Sydney to pick up the buns.  On the way there, he mentioned that he was sad that I no longer have a gym membership, and subsequently how he doesn't get to go the the play area at the gym anymore.  He then said. "I guess now you're going to get fat."  He also was dragging his feet in the store and just in general was in a bad mood.  By the time we got to the parking lot to leave, I was pretty fed up with his attitude.

Sydney then proceeded to get in the car first.  Then as Ashton walked towards the car door so he could get in, Sydney pushed the door open more so the door handle hit him in the chest as he was walking towards it.  He then started crying (I'm sure it hurt, there was a pink mark on his chest) for a good 5 minutes before he calmed himself down enough to get into his car seat.  Sydney then started bawling because I told her it was her fault he was crying because she hurt him and she needed to apologize.

By time we got home, it was about 5:00pm and I had already made 2 out of 3 kids cry.  I certainly felt like I was winning parent of the year at this point (not).

While getting dinner started, the kids started to play with their toy guns.  At this point, Jaycob and Sydney were playing together while successfully excluding Ashton from the mix (this normally is Jaycob and Ashton excluding Sydney).  Ashton then asked me to help him write a letter to his brother.  His letter read, "Dear Jaycob, I have decided that Sean (Sean is his cousin) is now my best friend, not you, because you are so mean.  From Ashton"

After getting his letter all written out, he tried repeatedly to give it to Jaycob, but Jaycob kept waving him off.  Finally I told him Jaycob to just take to note and read it since his brother had taken the time to write it for him.

Jaycob proceeded to take the letter from his little brother, look at it like he was going to read it, and say "Blah, blah, blah, blah."

At this point, I had no patience for disrespect or just bullshit in general.  I immediately told Jaycob to go to his room and sit on his bed until I was ready to talk to him.

When I finally got to a point in the whole cooking dinner thing that I could go take a few minutes to speak with Jaycob, went in to his room and sat on his bed.

I asked him what his issue was.  I asked him how he would feel if his dad or I did to him what he had done to his brother, who is 5 years younger than him and looks up to him.  I explained that he has to take in to account that his brother is so much younger than him and so has a different maturity level and different ability to handle some situation than he does and that his actions have an effect on his brother and that he really hurt his brothers feelings.  By the time I was done and left the room, child number 3 was crying.

Needless to say, bedtimes were early yesterday.

The moral of the story?  If you are going to do something, (such as making your children cry) do it completely?  Or maybe if someone comes to your door trying to sell you something, be careful about telling them no, you never know when their partner may drive a windowless van?

Whatever the moral is, I sure hope a day like this doesn't repeat anytime soon.

School Lunches 09/10 - 09/14

September 10, 2012

Ham and Cheese Pita
Honey Graham Bunnies
Snack Pack

September 11. 2012

Peanut Butter and Jelly Dino Sandwich
Raspberry Buddy Fruits

September 12, 2012

Peanut Butter and Jelly Dolphin Sandwiches
Babybel Cheese

September 13, 2012

Turkey and Cheese Pita
Fruit snacks

**I forgot to take a picture today**

September 14, 2012

Turkey and Cheese Pita
Peaches and Blueberries
Babybel Cheese
Chocolate Bunny Grahams

Sunday, September 9, 2012

School Lunches 09/04 - 09/07

September 4, 2012
1/2 turkey and cheese sandwich
Kiwi and strawberries
Bunny Grahams
Chocolate Pudding
Babybel Cheese
**Ashton ended up leaving the babybel cheese at home.  He said he had too much food, as well as he requested half a sandwich instead of a whole sandwich ☺**
September 5, 2012
1/2 Turkey and Cheese Sandwich
Honey Wheat Crackers
Black Currant Buddy Fruits
September 6, 2012
Peanut Butter and Jelly Dinosaur Sandwich
Cheez-It Crackers
September 7, 2012
1/2 Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich (We didn't have any more turkey)
 Fresh Picked Peach

Preschool Identity Crisis

Monday was the first day of preschool for my four year old daughter Sydney.  While I never truly doubted that there would be a lack of excitement stemming from this very event, it still never ceases to entertain me when I later hear about her schenanigans. 

Dropping Sydney off at school felt so different from dropping Ashton off.  Ashton is my quiet reserved child while Sydney has always been so independent and outgoing.  While she didn't want me to leave at first, she was ready to be there and explore the new surroundings and meet all the new people. 

As soon as Sydney got home from school (her dad picked her up), she called me at work.  She was so excited!  She said that her first day was awesome and that a boy hit her.  She asked her dad to beat him up, but of course my husband said that wouldn't be very nice.  She also said that there was another girl who wouldn't share her crayons.  After that, Sydney started speaking so quickly that it pretty much became unintelligible wookie talk.

My husband then got on the phone and said that Sydney told him that she was disappointed because while they were working on learning everyones names, they refused to call her Princess Ladybug, they insisted on calling her Sydney.

After coming home from work, Sydney told me that her name wasn't Sydney, that her name was Isabella and that she wanted to be like the girl Isabella in her class.  All night, and I mean ALL night, she kept insisting she was Isabella and not Sydney. 

Apparently, I don't even know who my own daughter.  And I thought I'd have to wait until the teenage years for that to happen.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 09/03 - 09/09

Happy Monday and Happy Labor Day!  Whew, I cannot believe it is the month of September already.  This year it feels as though the time has been flying by.  This past week, we've been busy with the munchkins starting school as well as just work and the normal day to day things.  Also, I've been working on a checklist for my fall cleaning as well as I've been canning some peaches and getting the last of the summer fruits canned up.  I'm definitely looking forward to the impending apple adventures I plan on having once they come into season.  Only a few more weeks until applesauce and apple butter!!! (as well as only 19 more days until fall!!!!)

Last week, I do not know what I would have done without a menu plan, things were insane in our house.... Hopefully this week will not be as insane, but here's our plan, just in case things get sticky ☺

(We ended up not having this last night)
French Toast
Hamburger Helper
Chicken and Pasta
Pork chops

So what is your family having for dinner?  Need more ideas?  Check out Menu Planning Monday over at Laura's blog and check out all the great ideas posted there, they are sure to give you some inspiration for some great meals!