Monday, May 25, 2015

Roasted Green Beans with Sriracha Rémoulade

So simple but it seems so fancy. This was a hit with our kids, too! Leftover Sriracha Rémoulade is awesome on burgers or sandwiches.

Roasted Green Beans
1 lb fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Put green beans in a bowl with enough olive oil to lightly coat. Add 1/4 tsp salt & pepper. Toss.
  3. Spread green beans in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, turning/moving them in the pan every 10 minutes. The green beans will be done when they begin to look caramelized (brown-ish color).  You want them to be a bit crispy.
  5. Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 tsp salt.

Sriracha Rémoulade
1/2 cup mayonnaise (Hellmann's is my go-to)
1 tsp Sriracha hot sauce*
1 tsp fresh lime juice
  1.  Mix ingredients. You can let the flavors meld in the fridge for a bit if you are feeling smug and/or are waiting on your green beans.

*For a low FODMAP alternative, try Tabasco sauce - I love the green jalapeno pepper sauce. However, since Sriracha has garlic but no onions, I find it doesn't bother my system too much.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Kids' Meals

Congrats to Jodi for winning the Tractor Book & Toy Giveaway!

I have fallen off the wagon a bit from photographing and sharing hese meals given how busy things have been at home, but I plan to continue this series in some format. I also want to show pictures of what our adults meals look like. But for now, here is a quick round-up of meals from a couple weeks ago. All these meals were on solo parenting days while my husband was traveling or working crazy long hours so I certainly kept it simple and easy.

Grilled cheese & Roasted Tomato & Pepper Soup
Hot tip: Costco sells pre-sliced organic cheese and boxes of organic tomato & pepper soup - they are staples for us so I can do these quick meals.

Snacky in an ice cube tray!
Notes: My kids will reject the cheese stick in stick-form but think it's the best if I cut it up and call it "cheese sample" a la grocery store cheese samples. I get these organic cheese sticks from Costco. I get the Applegate smoked turkey from either Super Target, Whole Foods or Lund's/Byerly's. The packaged stuff at Trader Joe's works in a pinch but the texture icks me out. I much prefer getting it sliced super thin at the deli. To elevate the delight of snacky dinner in an ice cube tray even further - eat it on a blanket. WILD AND CRAZY TIMEZ.

Italian Ravioli (store-bought) with Homemade Tomato Sauce, Veggies with Homemade Ranch
I get cravings for D'Amico & Sons but that place is $$$ so I tried out this fancy-seeming ravioli from the refrigerator section hoping it would fill in that void. Meh. The kids and I weren't fans but Max loved it (then again, he was wolfing down food at 9 pm after a long day so perhaps anything would have been the best).  To make a quick ranch dressing, simply whisk some mayo with a bit of lemon juice and water or milk to thin it to desired consistency. Add salt, pepper & herbs such as dill.

Pizza Night!

Breakfast For Dinner

Iowa Girl Eats Crock Pot BBQ Chicken with baked beans, corn, cukes.
Notes: The kids did not like this chicken which took me by surprise. Max and I liked it quite a bit and it was super handy to have for lunch for the next few days. I want to play around with creating my own low FODMAP BBQ sauce recipe this summer. Also: I don't do the crock pot chicken quite the same as IGE. I simply put the thawed chicken breasts in the crockpot and cook it on low for 4+ hours. If I do 3-4 lbs of chicken breasts at once then I find 7 hours is good, less chicken = less time. I never  bother to do the step of shredding the chicken in the last hour and then giving it extra cooking time.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hodge Podge: Whine O'Clock Version

It's whine o'clock.

So my eye has been twitching for the past few weeks thanks to Lily's sleep habits. She did sleep through the night one night (!) but I, of course, had a bad night of sleep that night and since then it has been more of her usual multiple wake-ups. She was so much easier as a newborn before all this teething business began. I thought Oliver was a tough teether. Turns out Lily wins that prize for the kids. But maybe I am just misremembering. I do recall seeing allll the sunrises the summer Ollie turned one and also holding his diaper-clad self nearly all hours of the day. Thankfully Lily still has lots of cute and sweet and fun moments, but I would love to watch those cute moments through a non-twitchy eye :)

In the midst of this, Husband has been working around the clock. Back to back business trips the past two weeks (one of them last minute), having to go in on the weekends, heading into work before 6 AM, working from home from 7 PM to past midnight at night, etc etc. Every May is rough like this but this May has been exceptionally bad. He was able to be home on Mother's Day so I got some time off but he also had to work several hours that day from home - mostly in the evening after the kids were asleep.

It is hard and sad to not have family to turn to during these times. If I were having a true emergency I am sure family would step in and I could and would certainly turn to local friends if things were really bad but this isn't an emergency. This is just run-of-the-mill twitchy eye tiredness. But oh, I could really use an extra hand with the kids and some coddling of my own. Our babysitter is above and beyond the best ever, but she has had finals plus graduation so she wasn't in the position to give us many extra hours this month (though I am thinking of texting her today now that graduation is over just to see if I might get out of a bedtime this week).

This post is so so grumpy and I know I will perk back up when I can get at least a four-hours-in-a-row stretch of sleep and get this annoying eye twitch back under control but in the meantime I am in a parenting pit where I keep losing my foothold as I try to scramble out. L'chaim. L'chaim. Could be so very much worse.

Random Other Happenings:
  • On Saturday I brought the kids outside to run in the sprinkler around 4 pm. A man in running clothes came lurching down the street yelling, "Help!" I went to him and he was disoriented and seemed weak so I guided him into our driveway and called 911. (Please note: this is the SECOND time I have called 911 from my front yard. The first time was when an elderly neighbor across the street collapsed in her yard.) He could tell me his name but couldn't tell me more than that. I kept trying to get him to sit down and he would start to sit in a chair or on the ground but would then pop back up. So then instead I had to try to keep him from falling as he kept lurching around the yard and the driveway where the footing is far from even. Eeeeeeee! Bella was very helpful and ran in the house to get water as I asked and she also carefully crossed the street at my request to see if a neighbor was home (she wasn't). It was probably only about 10 minutes before the police and ambulance arrived but WOW that was a rather stressful and intense and completely unexpected 10 minutes. I asked the man if he had diabetes and he looked surprised and said that he did think that he had diabetes. So I am thinking perhaps that was what was behind everything (i.e. low blood sugar)? Anyway, the cop arrived and he was rather an ass and made me feel like I was an interfering old biddy who had brought this situation upon myself. He walked up to us and as I started to explain what I knew he held up his hand to silence me as he placed a call to the dispatch people. Then he started asking the man questions and the man wasn't able to answer them so I tried to explain once again what I knew (such as the seemingly extremely relevant diabetes information!) and I got the hand. Then the ambulance arrived and that was that for my involvement. They all hung out in the driveway for the next half hour ("Mom? Can we still do the sprinkler?") and then drove away. It was all really weird and jarring and I have no closure about whether this man is okay and - oh yeah - I was wrangling 3 kids the whole time. (At one point the man said: Look out! There is a baby there! Don't step on the baby!" Haha. Yes, I was aware of the baby. And the preschooler. And the kindergartner. And the near-collapsed man on my arm. And the 911 lady on the phone. And the fact that my usually busy neighborhood was suddenly absent of any other neighbors to help me out.] What was possibly the weirdest thing about the whole situation was that at one point the man stopped moving and he turned and looked intensely at me and said, "Oh! It's you!" and just stared at me and I quite honestly looked around and wondered if this was an elaborate punk moment. Ashton? Were you behind this?
And there were other random happenings but Lily is done with me having anything to do with something that isn't her (oh, the whining and crying and fussing....SOS!) so I will only have that one random happening. But I think it's enough, yes?

Likely won't be back here until Friday which is babysitter day and approx 20 years from now but I am so so soooooooooo looking forward to it. Also looking forward to the last Mad Men episode but that will have to wait until I can watch that with Max so in the meantime I am avoiding Twitter and Facebook. Shhhhh - no spoilers!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

"Big Tractors" Book & Tractor Toy Giveaway

Oliver has been a truck and tractor fan from early on so I was excited for the opportunity to review a new children's book called "Big Tractors with Casey & Friends" which is written by Holly Dufek and illustrated by Paul E. Nunn.

When I read that the illustrator previously worked on Pixar's Cars, I was even more excited for Ollie as Cars is his favorite. And the fact that they were sending a miniature Case tractor replica along with the book? Excitement level 10 and Oliver began asking every day if the book and toy had come in the mail.

The big day arrived!

The book and tractor toy were an immediate hit.

Randomly, the card that came with it was an equally big deal to Oliver so I made sure to get that laminated right away. :)

"Big Red" the tractor
The book gives an overview of the large tractors you would find at a farm. You learn about how these big tractors are the "muscles" that help carry other equipment and how their design features such as their large double wheels allow them to do their job effectively (i.e. - they will not sink into the soil because double wheels spread the tractor's weight over a larger area. Hooray for sneaky physics lessons!)

Here is what I like about this book:
  • It manages to appeal to a range of ages (it is targeted towards ages 4-8) by including both the main text in addition to informational sidebars and a glossary. For Oliver I keep it focused on the main text but Bella likes reading the additional information. As an adult, I also enjoy learning new things during reading time and this book proved to be quite educational!
  • I like the mix of real pictures along with the cartoons. Oliver's favorite page shows the inside of a tractor.
  • The personification of the tractors is fun. I pointed out a Case tractor the other day and said it was like his new toy tractor. Oliver responded, "No. Dat tractor not like Big Red. Dat a different tractor." He's paying attention!
  • I like that Casey the farmer is a girl.

Here is what I am not so crazy about:
  • Tillus the worm.
    I have worm issues and a worm mascot seems like a weird choice but that's probably just me :) The kids found nothing amiss with a worm spokesperson. I just found him ever so...wormy. And beige. And long. And I worried if he got cut in half there would be two worms. Worm fear is real.

My own personal worm issues aside, I can give the book an enthusiastic two thumbs up.


If you would like to try to win your own "Big Tractors with Casey & Friends" book and tractor toy for a little one in your life, please leave a comment. Anonymous comments are fine as long as you leave a nickname or name and a way to contact you! US residents only. Contest will close on Wednesday, May 20 at 11:59 PM CST.

This post and giveaway is sponsored by Octane Press and they provided me with one book (Big Tractors with Casey & Friends) and one tractor toy in exchange for this review.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Last Week's Kids' Meals & Meal Planning

I am having apostrophe issues:

Last Week's Kids Meals 


Last Week's Kid's Meals


Last Week's Kids' Meals

Help, wise ones!

Now onto last week. I did five out of seven dinners on my own as Max was out of town so I took it pretty easy on myself and just did what I needed to do.

Monday: Veggies with Ranch Dressing & Pizza
Notes: There was a pizza thing at school and I was all over that for dinner that night since it meant no messy floor to clean or dishes to wash and it would make the time pass faster. Plus, I like pizza :) I served them veggies as their afternoon snack that day since I knew they wouldn't get any later on.

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday
Notes: The taco meat + rice + peppers were heated up from the freezer. I also keep my tortillas in the freezer and just heat one or two as needed for the kids meals.

Wednesday: Chicken Enchiladas with salad w/salsa dressing, avocados, sour cream
Notes: This is my standby chicken enchilada recipe that I have used for years (it's Max's favorite!) but I should post my tweaked version (basically I skip the water, use enchilada sauce on top vs. taco sauce, and use a full bell pepper).  I always split the recipe right off the bat and put it into 2-3 smaller glass pans and then freeze 1-2 portions for future dinners. I used shredded chicken that I had prepped in the crock pot on Tuesday.

Thursday: Quick Chicken Tikka Masala with spicy sauteed spinach and cucumbers with lime juice & salt
Notes: I don't normally do shredded chicken dishes two days in a row but whatever works! This quick chicken tikka masala recipe is eventually coming to the blog but basically it is as follows: cook up 1-2 chopped cloves of garlic and 1/2-1 finely diced jalapeno (no seeds) in 1 T butter in a saucepan over medium heat for one minute, taking care not to burn the garlic. Add in 2 tsp paprika and 2 tsp cumin and 1/4 tsp salt, mix briefly. Add in 8 oz tomato sauce and an equal amount of half-n-half or whole milk (i.e. 1 cup). Simmer on low heat for 10-20 minutes until sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally. Add in one lb of shredded chicken (2-3 breasts). Full chicken tikka masala recipe is here and it's a FAVE for all of us.

Friday: Breakfast for dinner: Banana-berry smoothies, eggs, mini blueberry muffins
This smoothie was 2 bananas, 1 cup frozen strawberries, 1 cup whole milk yogurt, some milk to thin it out (would have preferred OJ but I don't keep that around very often), and a squeeze of honey. Smoothie leftovers become "breakfast popsicles".
This type of smoothie is the kind you can easily add spinach to - throw in some blueberries to mask the green color!

Saturday: Chipotle
Notes - I got them one taco kit and split it between the two older kids and figured I could give them more of my burrito bowl if they were still hungry.  And it wasn't our intention to get take-out this night but I ended up not having my keys to the van (Max drove us all to the park and he and the older two got out and I kept driving without realizing I didn't have my own set of keys) and it turned into a debacle so the grocery store didn't happen while I spent 1.5 hours walking with Lily...anyway, god bless Chipotle.

Sunday: Indian Take-Out (no pic!)  - This was my mother's day choice :) I was not going to cook or do any dishes on this day. Unfortunately this also means I didn't get around to any meal prep this weekend. Womp, womp. Luckily there are a few meals ready to go in the freezer so it shouldn't be too challenging.

Meal Planning

More easy meals as once again I will have the bulk of dinners (and the bedtimes...sigh...) this week. Definitely a few too many take-out meals in a row which I will have to watch. Oh well, life happens!

Meal Planning:
Monday - Jimmy Johns (sub restaurant)
Tuesday - Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup
Wednesday - Breakfast for Dinner or maybe Pasta & Sauce
Thursday - Taco Salads
Friday - Shrimp Pad Thai
Saturday - Fish Tacos or maybe BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad
Sunday - Chicken Enchiladas with Salad

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Party Pooper

On a day that can be complex and heavy - a fact of life that I only realized with age and maturity (relative maturity, obviously) -  I am going to keep it light. But for the record, I am having a delicious day that includes so much lounging in bed and dipping in and out of family life which is a dream come true at this stage of my life. Thank you, Max! Wishing everyone a good day and sending positive and peaceful thoughts to those who might be more than ready for Monday.

*                             *                             *                             *

Bella checked out a book from the library last week. She beamed as she read the title aloud and explained to me why she was inspired to check it out.

I felt so proud because I realized it means she has been really taking in our educational YouTube watching. I love the way the internet and old-school books come together to further knowledge in the next generation.

#soproud #soblessed #jennifer #PoopAtTheParty #PeoplesKnow #DisSerious #MakeObservation