Monday, June 15, 2009

The Plan for Food

This week I am tired. It's only Monday and I think there is a good chance I will be dragging all week. On the bright side, my husband is home after being gone for 2 weeks and if I have a food plan (AKA menu) he will help me out. God has blessed me with the most amazing man. He can cook, knows how to run the dishwasher and the washing machine and can tell my kids what to clean as well as I can-but best of all-when I am not feeling my best, he is willing to do those things. Thank you, Lord, for my loving mate.

My menu this week is nothing to brag about except that I actually sat down and made it out and there is a veggie of some kind scheduled for every night. These are all my comfort meals that are easy to prepare and generally make me happy to eat!

Monday-Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken & Broccoli, Garlic Bread
Tuesday-Grilled Steak and Chicken, Baked Potatoes, Basil Carrots
Wednesday-Romano Crusted Chicken Nuggets, Potato Casserole, Corn
Thursday-Roast, Mashed Potatoes & gravy, Green Beans, Whole Wheat Bread
Friday-Tacos (chicken and beef), Refried Beans, Corn
Saturday-Salmon, Rice Pilaf, Almond Green Beans, Cheddar Garlic Biscuits

At this moment, everything sounds delicious to me. There is a good chance I'll stick to the plan if I get out of the house today and do some grocery shopping!

This is my favorite bread recipe. I got it from a friend in Washington and have made it numerous times. It is super simple and all the kneading is done in my mixer, it always turns out awesome!

Whole Wheat Bread

2 ½ cups Warm water
1 ½ TBSP saf-instant yeast
6-7 cups whole wheat flour (divided)
1/3 cup honey
¼ cup oil
1 ½ TBSP dough enhancer
2 ½ tsp. salt

Combine water, yeast, and two cups of flour in a mixing bowl. Stir to mix. Allow to sponge (sit) for 15 minutes. While you are waiting, measure out remaining ingredients so they can be added quickly.
After 15 minutes, add honey, oil, dough enhancer, and salt. Using a dough hook attachment begin mixing. With mixer running, begin adding the remaining flour (4-5 cups) one cup at a time until the dough begins to clean the sides of the bowl. Do not let it get too stiff. It should be smooth and elastic. (I usually add right at the total of 7 cups of flour)
Knead dough 7 – 10 minutes. (I start timing after I add the last of the flour and go for about 5 minutes). Dough will be smooth and elastic.
Turn out on to a floured surface. Form two loaves and place in lightly-greased loaf pans.
Let rise 30-60 minutes or until about double in size.
***To rise, pre-heat oven to 170 degrees and turn off. Place pans in oven. (It usually takes about 45 minutes to double). When finished rising, remove bread from oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Return loaves to oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.
Cool bread completely before placing in bread bags to prevent sweating and soggy crust.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Welcome, to Spa Kennedy

(This was written on Saturday the 13th, but not posted until Monday the 15th.)

It's the day after. My back hurts, my feet are swollen and I am still smiling over the memory. My third daughter turned 10 yesterday. We don't give our kids big parties every year, we try to keep it just to the "big" birthdays. I consider turning 10 one of the big ones. It's the first year in double digits; not quite a teen but, too big for birthday hats and pin the tail on the donkey.

This year, with the help of a friend I planned a Spa Birthday.

I told Kennedy that she could invite five girls over to be pampered for the day.

Inside the invitation read: In celebration of 10 fabulous years, a reservation has been made in your name at Spa Kennedy Friday June 12 from 11:30 until 3:30. Confirm your registration by calling Dori.

The back of the invite gave our address. I also made VIP cards to include in the invitation that said: Your appointment will include Summer Facial, Mini Pedicure, Hand Massage and Young Ladies Lunch at Spa Kennedy's The Table Restaurant. VIP Pass Valid only June 12, 2009.

Each station we planned had a name; Spa Kennedy for the facials, massages and pedicures, Spa Designs Studio for creating their barrettes and hand bags, Spa Cafe where they got their spa snacks and The Table Restaurant where lunch was served. I hung some sheer drapes that I had between rooms where possible.

When the girls arrived, they went to Spa Cafe and ordered their snacks and got bottles of water that my sweet friend had decorated for me with the Spa Kennedy logo.

Then I told them what their appointments were. My sister-in-law and her two daughters came to lend a hand with pedicures and massages. Some girls started with Pedicures while one girl had her hands massaged and other the two girls who were waiting for their massage chatted in Spa Cafe. I found little pedicure sets at the dollar store and they were the colors I had chosen for the party so, I bought one for each girl. They were able to take them home after they used them for their pedicure.

After the first round of pedicures we went to Spa Designs Studio where the girls decorated purses and made darling flower barrettes.

From there, they were taken to their seats at The Table Restaurant where they ordered Italian Sodas and their choice of Soup or Salad. The lunch menu was Mini Quiches, Shoestring Veggies and Fruit Salad with Celebration Cake and Ice Cream for dessert.

After lunch, the girls ate cake and ice cream and Kennedy opened her presents. Meghan made the cake and it turned out fabulous!

Now it was time for the girls to get their chocolate facials. This was such a blast. The girls had a great time and afterward kept talking about how smooth their face felt. I may even try this on myself someday.

We finished up the day with the second round of pedicures and hand massages then everyone settled down to watch Kit Kitteridge until their parents arrived. All in all it was a fun day. The girls had a blast and I am sure this is a birthday that Kennedy and her friends will remember for a long time.

This is the first time I have tried doing a party this elaborate, but it was absolutely worth all the work. Now it's time to start thinking about Meghan's Sweet 16 this December.

Thanks for visiting Spa Kennedy. We hope we see you again.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Myth Buster

All my life I have heard that "Bad things happen in threes". I have had the privilege of debunking that myth in the last few weeks. Here is the list of damages since my husband left to do a job out of town 11 days ago.

First, the refrigerator and microwave stopped working. We plugged the fridge into an extension cord and it works again so, it must be the outlet. Then a few days later, the door handle to our main bathroom broke. It could be used from the outside, but if you were inside, tough luck for you-have fun spinning the handle. So Meghan took the handle off completely and now the kids stuff toilet paper in the peep hole and use part of the handle to open the door. One of them often forgets to bring the little metal "key" into the bathroom with her and so finds herself screaming out the peep hole for someone to help her. Then the lid to my toilet broke. Now, it's not completely off, just one hinge snapped in two so, it's all wobbly and sits sort of catty-whompus. After the lid broke I laughed and said, "Well, you know, bad things happen in threes. At least that's over."

Today is the big day. It's the day of baking and decorating for my 10 year old's big spa birthday. (I will post pictures of the decor and the party on Saturday) There is a ton of stuff to be done. My youngest daughter decided to wake up at 6:45 this morning and has since been a horrible, grumpy, whiney, cry-baby. I thought about taking a video to post for all of you out there who think she is just so adorable and never cries. Let's see if you still think that when the snot is running into her mouth because she won't quite screaming at her brother every time he looks at her.

So while I am trying to get her cleaned up after dumping most of her oatmeal down her clothing and she is still screaming in my ear, my middle daughter calls out from the main bathroom, "Something's leaking".

My second daughter says' "Oh, yeah, I saw that yesterday."

I am hoping that it's a bottle of shampoo or cleaning product that hasn't been closed all the way, but no. The pipe under the sink is drip, drip, dripping away. I have them clean out under the sink and put a bucket under the pipe.

Now if you count the screaming daughter (which I consider a VERY bad thing-the screaming, not the daughter) that's 5.

Myth Busted.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Last night, around 9:30, my oldest daughter came in to tell me goodnight and instead ended up curling into bed with me while we overindulged in the Food Network. At 11:00, after munching on crackers and learning about the molds in cheese, we decided that neither of us could stay awake any longer so I walked with her toward her room to make sure all the lights were off.

There is a long skinny window right next to my front door and as I walked past my entry way, something caught my eye. At first, I thought that my 6 year old son had taped a picture to the window, then I realized it was taped to the outside and that I had gone in and out of my front door since all the younger children had gone to bed. So Meg and I sneaked to the front door to peer out.

Earlier, while Meghan and I were still snuggled safe in my bed, giggling blissfully unaware, some person, completely unknown to me, had done their own sneaking about and strategically placed 14, very pink flamingos in my front yard.

They appeared to be aimlessly wandering around and generally having a grand old time of it. One, in fact seemed stood at a somewhat drunken angle.

The paper taped to my window read: “You Have Been “Flamingoed”!!!

Now, the flamingos themselves are not what disturb me, Meg and I were cracking up and plotting as we went to bed. It was later, when I realized that someone (and if I’m truthful, probably more than one someone) had pranced about in my yard, whispering and smothering giggles, and even fiddled around my front door, all without being detected. I cannot even claim that it was my being asleep that caused me to miss all the outdoor action. I was wide awake being grossed out by street vendor’s hot dog water and how mold is used in cheese making (it was a very educational evening and for your information, I will never eat a hot dog-also known as a dirty dog- from a street vendor, but will happily continue to eat cheese). Perhaps, when Jeff gets home from California he will be the proud new owner of a Pit Bull or Doberman Pincer.

Luckily, for me it was a friendly someone in my front yard that dark and windy night, out raising funds for a trip to Boise with the Mayor’s Youth Council. My “flamingoed” paper gave me all the details. For $10 I can have the flamingos removed. For $20 I get to choose the next victim and for $30 I can guarantee the flamingos never come back to visit me (for this fundraiser only I am sure). It even gave me the name of the person that sent the flamingos to me. MY MOTHER-IN-LAW.

She had been at my house twice, earlier that day and never even wore a smirk or a I-know-something-you-don’t-know grin. This woman is good. They had been sent to her a few days earlier by her daughter and son-in-law. I thought for sure, that by letting her know that I would never have sent the flamingos to her, that I would be safe from them landing at my house, but apparently no one is safe.

I have to admit, that this is a pretty clever fundraiser, and something I have never seen before. What a fun way to bully someone into giving up their hard earned wages. There is no awkward door-to-door magazine sales, no bland dinners to endure, no buying things at an auction that you will then just re-donate to the next fund raising event, and most off all no standing out in the sun all day while trying to convince other people to by my old junk at a garage sale. Instead it has that “Maffia Insurance” feel to it. Wonderful! I love it and will be keeping it mind for the next time I see a really great handbag that I cannot afford.

Now the only things left to do are; choose my next victims (will it be one of you readers or some person who has no idea what may be awaiting them) and decide on the revenge for my sweet mother-in-law. The first will be done within a few hours. The second? Well, I have heard that “revenge is a dish better served cold”.

Watch out!

Monday, June 1, 2009

What Do We Eat When Jeff is Gone?

When I got done preparing this week's menu, I looked at it and thought-"It's like Homemade Junk Food Week!" Jeff is out of town, so I am cooking all MY favorites. At first, I asked the kids what THEY wanted for dinner and they started coming up with things like Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Fettuccine Alfredo with Grilled Chicken or (ACK!) Grilled Steak! Are you kidding me? My husband is gone, this is almost like a vacation. They are lucky they are not eating cereal and boxed mac and cheese all week. I will be cooking things that go together very easy. Casseroles, One Pot Meals and the like. YUM!! I can't wait.

On the Menu This Week:

Monday - Creamy Chicken Noodle Casserole with Carrots and Cheddar Biscuits

Tuesday - Chicken Pockets and Fruit Salad

Wednesday - Homemade Personal Pizzas

Thursday - Chicken Tacos, Refried Beans and Corn

Friday - One Pan Basil and Tomato Angel Hair Pasta, Salad and Garlic Bread

Saturday - Roast, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Green Beans and Rolls

Can you tell when Jeff is supposed to get home? I'll give you a hint-look for the first green veggie (salad does count as a veggie, right?) and the red meat!

This week I am going to give you my One Pot Basil and Tomato Angel Hair Pasta recipe. This pasta is an all-time favorite with my family. I cook everything in one large skillet-including the angel hair. It is one of my staple quick and easy recipes.

One Pot Basil and Tomato Angel Hair Pasta

1 pound dry angel hair pasta
3 cans diced tomatoes with onion, basil and oregano (not Italian Stewed Tomatoes)
5-10 cloves of garlic, pressed
olive oil
salt and pepper
2 cups of grated Romano cheese, plus extra for topping
32 ounce box of chicken broth
Fresh basil, chopped (dried works fine, too-but use A LOT)

In a large skillet with sides and a lid, saute the garlic in olive oil just until you smell it. Add all three cans of tomatoes (DO NOT DRAIN). Cook these until they start to get bubbly, stir in the Romano cheese. Add about 1/2 the box of chicken broth and bring to a boil, salt and pepper to taste. Add the dry pasta and spoon the tomato sauce over the noodles, add more broth to cover the noodles and keep it at a boil. Add fresh basil, cover the pot and let it cook until the pasta is cooked just enough to stir it into the sauce more. Keep cooking with the lid on, stirring occasionally (separate the pasta so it doesn't stick together) until the pasta is cooked how you like it. It takes about 15 minutes and the pasta will absorb quite a bit of the liquid, I keep adding more broth until the pasta is almost done. The sauce is not soupy like a spaghetti sauce-it's more chunky. Top with more Romano cheese and chopped basil.

This is one of those recipes that I totally eyeball. You can't really mess it up. Just keep tasting it and make sure the pasta gets cooked all the way and you will love it!

*The sauce itself is gluten free (check your tomatoes and broth)-just make sure that you get a pasta that is gluten free also.