What a busy fall!

Let me begin by saying HAPPY BIRTHDAY KATIE!!!! And HAPPY BIRTHDAY LIZA!!! My beautiful niece and beautiful ‘adopted’ daughter share this birthday. It’s the big 21 for Liza….I wish you both love and joy!!

This has been an amazingly busy month and it’s not over yet. Two weeks ago our younger daughter was home for the weekend. Last weekend number one child was here. We had a visit from Liza, and there is more to come. This weekend a childhood friend is coming to visit. Phew!

Of course this means there was a lot of food prep and consumption! For our Moose there was an amazing Harvest Minestrone soup. The recipe is from MindBodyGreen and is amazing.

I made a six quart pot of it….. And then for my carnivorous hubby, I took out two quarts, added 16 oz of beef stock and mini meatballs. Everyone was happy.

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I made kisir with both Moose and Liza. The recipe can be found in my previous post “Food is love…… A totally fun afternoon…..”. Both girls enjoyed it and will hopefully make it themselves.

With Tammy there was a trip to the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival. So much fun! And a leisurely dinner at Aroma Thyme. where we enjoyed great food and lovely company. The festival was a hoot too.

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All of the usual suspects continued in my day to day planning….. Meatloaf, quinoa, chicken…..ooooh!!! So for Sunday dinner with Tammy here, I made a YUMMY pasta dinner….
Pasta
Pesto
Sundried tomatoes
Chicken medallions
OH MY MY HOW DELISH!!! And super simple.

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This morning I prepared the fruit and nuts in sherry for the first fruit cake cookies of the season. Thanks Ina Garten!

What have you been cooking up?

The flavors of fall are the best. Get cooking people! And enjoy!!!!

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Flavors of Fall:: Comforting food for a Blustery Day

The weather has turned colder quickly and the leaves are turned and falling. The telltale crunch of leaves makes me smile. I remember fall with the girls….apple cider and Halloween costumes.

When they were little I always made spaghetti and meatballs on Halloween. It was easy to prepare ahead and eat whenever they were exhausted and had their bags full of goodies….. Sigh. My babies are all grown up.

But I still make spaghetti. Tonight we are having it. Of course, over the years I have changed and improved it (I hope). LOL

Now….planning ahead….. I will be making meatloaf again at the end of the week. I have made it the last two weekends and Barry can’t get enough. I wanted meatballs for tonight’s meal, and more to add to a soup I am making on the weekend with our veggie-tarian, Moose. I am going to make a Harvest minestrone for everyone…. and for Barry I will add meatballs to it. He likes his meat!!

First I put on the sauce. Today I mixed two large cans of crushed tomatoes, one small can of diced tomatoes, and a small can of paste…a can of water too…the small one from the paste. I wanted the sauce rich and creamy. I put a large onion, peeled and only cut in half, three garlic cloves, and a stick of unsalted butter into the pot. Cover, bring to boil, and reduce to simmer. I have already removed the onion, but the garlic I will pick out later. Rich creamy sauce….mmmmm. Now it really doesn’t need anything else, but I wanted it to marry with the flavor of the meatballs I was going to make so I put s&p, basil, and oregano in this time.

At the market this morning I bought 3 pounds of ground beef. I buy 80% so it has good flavor. And it was on sale! Then I looked for ground pork, and since there was none, the butcher went and ground it fresh….yes thank you…. 1.5 pounds and it looked fabulous!

At home I put both meats together and mixed them well. Then, of the 4.5 pounds, I pulled off three and bagged it to freeze for meatloaf. The rest was enhanced with flavor….s&p, basil, oregano, and onion powder. In meatloaf I use fresh onions and peppers, but I am going to make these small, so onion powder gives the flavor without the veggies causing the little guys to fall apart.

Anyway, all mixed…and I use the cook’s best tools – my hands – to do this. I began to roll them into small one inch meatballs. Into a sauté pan to brown the outside, turning them to get a nice crust. You need to babysit and turn them, but small ones take 5 minutes so not a biggie.

I put 18 meatballs in my sauce and gave them a gentle stir. This sauce will simmer all afternoon so the meatballs and the sauce, and all the flavors will cook together and be so yummy!! In fact, the house smells great already.

To stick to the spirit of Halloweens past, we will have spaghetti pasta. I often use penne or something fun like cavatappi, but today it is tradition all the way. Yum!!!

Now I know that it is not traditionally Italian to serve meatballs with pasta. And especially not acceptable to cook the meatballs in the sauce….but I’m sorry…..it’s good. So forgive my deviation from tradition.

Oh, so the meat I kept for meatballs actually made 18 for my sauce for dinner tonight. And it made another 28! They are cooked and cooling. I will store them to add to Barry’s soup. In fact, I believe that there will be enough for another meal.

So let’s recap…..sauce made, check! Meats mixed and divided, check!! Meatloaf mix in freezer for the weekend, check!! Meatballs made, cooked, and divided, check!! Meatballs in sauce, check!! Meatballs cooled and frozen for later this week, check!!

Planning meals ahead doesn’t take tons of work, just some thought. Spaghetti and meatballs will be enjoyed tonight and tomorrow. And soup will be made Friday. Meatloaf will be made Saturday. Wednesday and Thursday I have to plan, but easy enough. For the working folks who check me put now and then….planning is the key and Sunday should be your prep day.

What are you planning this week?? Whatever you have, enjoy!!

Finding Balance ~ Portions and how we learn them…

My Moose was home for a visit last week. We made many scrumptious items…her Moose Quinoa Fiesta Salad, quesadillas, white pizza, and others. We also enjoyed a trip to the Bluestone Grill. Mmmm…

Me and MooMomma & Moose

When she and I were shopping one day, we were doing the comparison thing. Barry asked me to pick up Oreos. I had bought a package for the Valentine’s dinner dessert and he enjoyed munching on the rest of the package, so he asked me to pick up more. Moose grabbed for a generic called something like “twists and dips” or some silliness like that. Anyway, I said, NOPE. Some things you do not buy generics. And I told her a story…

When I was a little girl, my mother bought generic everything. Money was tight and there were many mouths to feed. Four kids on a tight budget was a chore at times, I am sure. When it came to creme sandwich cookies, we never got the Oreos. I told Moose about Hydrox cookies… Now no slight to the brand, but they are a poor man’s Oreo, for my taste. And mom counted out four cookies each. I mean every time… four cookies. At some point, I suppose mom counted the number that came in the package and did the math on how long they had to last and divided it by four kids… and got four. Moose thought this was funny enough…

In 1981, I graduated college, got my first teaching job, and moved into my first apartment. I remember one of the silly things I did was go to the store and bought Oreos… not a generic creme sandwich cookie…. Oreos. Then I went home and ate FIVE. Not FOUR, I ate FIVE. Another night I ate SEVEN. It felt rebellious! I had Moose laughing. Then I asked her about cookies when she was little…

There was a package of cookies and they ate one. Or none. Then if they wanted a second, they could have it. She had no recollection of me counting cookies. And most times she would choose an apple instead. I told her that the sad lesson learned was not just that I should limit myself to four cookies, but that I ate all of them, whether I wanted them or not. The portions were strict and there was no extra if you got hungry later.

Now, there are two lessons here…
One: Some things are not worth eating if they are not the ones you really like. So there are some things I will not buy generic. Balancing that, they are things I buy as a treat, not often.
Two: There are lessons learned in how we ate as children. Note that in my story I ate 5 or 7 once I controlled my own intake. I never said I ate only 2. And I never did.

I grew up in a household where tight control was put on food. It was a concern when you had your plate and that was it. If you were hungrier, there was no extra. If you weren’t hungry for it, you cleaned your plate anyway. There were no choices. How did I handle this as a mom? I did the opposite. There were always choices on the table. And we always ate family style. The plates were out and the girls were taught to take what they wanted but eat what they took. They always started small, knowing they could always go back for more. One rule was that they had to have a balanced plate. So a little protein, a little starch, and something from the veggie/fruit category. Did I say fruit? Yes. I often put out fruit as a choice. for the meal. And there were always two veggies because I spent way too much time at the dinner table as a child, waiting out my parents and stubbornly going to bed rather than eat peas.

What do you think is the result? I was a terrible eater. I became a carb addict, and until recently I was a BIG girl… 😦   No more, I am on a good journey now… LOL 😀

My girls? They are slender and lovely… and smart eaters. They actually stop eating if they aren’t hungry (imagine that!) ~ a practice I had to train myself to do.

Pretty girls
Photo courtesy Moose: (L to R) Moose, Kenz, Tammy, and Jamie (cousin extraordinaire!) at Lyon Hall, Clarendon, VA

Consider your memories about food and how they affect your eating habits now. With thoughtfulness, and good planning, your habits can be tweaked and your eating become healthier!  I subscribe to a mantra learned from my doctor’s team… “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels!” So I plan my meals carefully, I make sure they are DELICIOUS, and then I ENJOY!! ❤

 

Thoughts of a Foodie ~ A new memory and plans for the week …

Oh My My! Friday’s meal at Bluestone Grill was no disappointment. Our friend Mark, who was there for the first time, let me order all of my favorites and we shared! It was a perfectly lovely meal. We were ready to go back on Saturday! LOL

B and MeI should have turned the camera on Mark, DARN! Next time…
The rest of the weekend was quiet and pleasant, I hope yours was too! 

Today I have chicken in the Dutch oven. I am making quinoa… red today! It is cooking now. And that pizza that kept getting postponed will be dinner tonight for Barry. It will be a classic with buttery marinara I made yesterday, LOTS of pepperoni, and cheese of course. I am thinking that the chicken in the oven may become chicken soup. The day is ugly and cold, and the week doesn’t really promise to become any better.

Barry has also been saying for a week now that his colleagues at work wonder if I am still baking, after sampling many a treat at the holidays. **Wink** So I am headed to the kitchen to make some yummy treats for Barry and his friends… 😉

My plan for the week is simple: Pizza will be dinner and leftovers. There will also be chicken noodle soup. I will have quinoa with some of the chicken, a few veggies and cheese.

It threatens to be a dismal weather week so I figure I won’t be out much until Friday. Warm, fresh, homemade food is just the ticket.

What’s your plan? Enjoy!!

Thoughts of a Foodie ~ Memories and Snowy Days…

It is snowy here and it brings me back to days gone by when the girls were little. Snow days are not the same now that they are grown up and on their own. As a two educator family, there was nothing better than a snow day when we all were home. First, we would bundle up and walk to a small local diner and get breakfast. The diner is a family place and the girls would get up on their knees on stools and watch Grandma make their food on the grill behind the counter. Tammy often told Grandma that she should teach me how to make a grilled cheese sandwich. Thanks Tammy. Twenty years later I can actually make them and they aren’t soggy! LOL

Coming back the girls would bundle up in snow clothes and go sledding in the yard. Sometimes just the two of them, sometimes the neighbors, and sometimes the other neighbor’s grandsons. Whoever showed up, they always had fun. And when they came in from the cold, there was soup and hot chocolate. Nowadays I make my soup from scratch now, but the soup of the day in a snowstorm was “ABCD Soup.”  HUH!? You heard me, ABCD Soup.

In my cupboard when the girls were little, there was always a supply of Lipton Ring-O-Noodle Soup and alphabet pasta. I would make a large pot – using both packets in the box – and add lots of extra ABC noodles. Moose was the one who dubbed it “ABCD Soup.”

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The girls still enjoy it now and then. And when they come for a visit, I always have it on hand, just in case. I bet Saving Green http://mommacat06.wordpress.com/ could find me awesome coupons and deals on it!

Tammy, in particular, still eats this as ‘comfort food’ when she gets sick. She currently has a cold, poor girl, and this weekend when it struck, Boyfriend went out and bought her three things: tissues, Double Stuf Oreos, and ABCD Soup! Such a good Boyfriend, she only asked for the tissues, but he knew…

Tammy's needs

On Monday, Tammy was home. We did a video chat and I watched her make and eat that soup. As she picked up the bowl and drank the last sips, I couldn’t help but smile. Memories are sweet… and sometimes they are even tasty.

What memories have you made? What memories are you making now?

I hope when you remember, you enjoy… 😉