Monday, March 24, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - Week of March 23rd

Woo!  We've been busy lately!

I did, in fact, attend my first birth as a doula last week!  I really enjoyed working with this family.  I learned a lot, gained experience, and probably even more importantly I gained a lot of much needed confidence in myself.  I was nervous as I headed to the birth, but once there I was encouraged by just how naturally everything came to me.  Definitely feeling great about pursuing doula work and I'm very much looking forward to working with my next family.

Speaking of which, I had a prenatal meeting with my new client on Sunday morning and an interview on Sunday afternoon.  I have another interview and another meeting later this week.  Busy, but loving every minute of it!  I hope things keep rolling.

We have been so busy that I forgot to read the book this month for my book club!  Ridiculous.  I've never not read the book let alone completely forgotten about it.  I think I took two months off when I had Molly and went right on back to meetings because it's something I really enjoy.  This month it just really snuck up on me.  Obviously I'm in complete denial that the month is nearly over.  Where did March go?!  Luckily my friends like me enough that I can still join in for coffee and hopefully they won't make fun of me too much for dropping the ball this month.  Super fail.

Jack is on spring break this week and even though temperatures aren't going to be very springy (temps in the 30s for most of the week.  I'm hoping that late in the week it might warm up enough to do something outdoors.  It's spring break for cryin' out loud!) we're going to try to fit in some fun things while we have the whole week open!

Despite Mark's dismay the cold temps mean that soup is still perfectly acceptable even though it's spring and we're typically moving into grilling mode about now.  I was happy to make a big pot of Sausage and Lentil soup for dinner last night.  The recipe makes a ton and it freezes beautifully!  I like to freeze the leftovers in individual portions and then re-heat for later meals.  Easy and delish!

Here's what we're eating:

Sunday:  Sausage and Lentil Soup with Bread

Monday:  Baked Chicken Chimichangas with (Not) Refried Beans and Mexican Rice

Tuesday:  Ruben Sandwiches with Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Wednesday:  Freezer Meal

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday:  Out

Saturday:  Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Tried & True Recipe: Turkey (or Chicken) Pot Pie

Not as appetizing before it bakes as it is when it's all nice and golden brown, but it's something!

Every year around Thanksgiving I like to roast a turkey just for our little family.  Mark loves turkey (and leftover turkey sandwiches). Molly seems to be following in his footsteps as meat (turkey included) seems to top her lists of favorite foods at the moment.  I like it okay, but what I like most about it is that around Thanksgiving time stores are practically giving them away and for about the same amount of effort that it takes to roast a chicken I get so much meat for my time and money!  One turkey will yield multiple meals and leftovers and plenty of good for you, tasty stock.

One of the meals I love to make with the cooked turkey is Turkey Pot Pie.  This recipe is SO. GOOD.  It's easy to double and it's freezer friendly!  Basically, I love it.  I'll be honest, it does take a bit of work to make the filling, sauce, and crust, but it's well worth the effort (especially if you double it!)!  I'm so thankful I put in the time and effort previously when I pull a pot pie out of the freezer and pop it right into the oven and we can enjoy an awesome home cooked meal with barely any work!

We recently had one of these tasty pot pies from the freezer and it reminded me that I need to share the recipe while we're still in comfort food mode.  I don't know about you, but it's still plenty chilly in my area and pot pie makes a great cold weather meal!

This recipe works just as well with chicken, just use what you have/prefer.

Turkey (or Chicken) Pot Pie
Adapted from Annie's Eats originally from The Pastry Queen

yields 2 family size (9 inch) pies or 6-8 individual size pies

For Filling:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 large Russet potato, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 cups chopped/shredded turkey (or chicken, can also use the meat from a rotisserie chicken)
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste

For Sauce:

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups turkey stock (or chicken stock)
1/2 cup heavy cream
dash of hot sauce
salt and pepper, to taste

For crust*:

16 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces
3 cups all-purpose flour
10 ounces cream cheese, cut into large cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 large egg (for egg wash)

To prepare filling:

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, carrots, and potatoes to pan and saute, stirring occasionally, until veggies start to soften (~10-15 minutes.  Note: as pies will be cooked in the oven be sure not to overcook veggies at this stage you just want them to start softening up.  This is especially important if you're going to be freezing the pies!).  Add garlic and cook until fragrant.  Turn off heat.  Stir in turkey, peas, crushed red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper, to taste.  Set aside.

To prepare sauce:

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in flour until smooth.  Cook flour for a minute or two.  Whisk in broth until smooth and cook, stirring frequently, until it reaches the consistency of "cream of" soup (nice and thick!).  Stir in cream, hot sauce, and salt and pepper, to taste.

Combine sauce with filling mixture and spoon into pans.  I like to use disposable 9" pie pans.  You can use real pie plates, individual sized disposable pie plates, ramekins, etc.

To prepare crust:

To bowl of a food processor fitted with metal blade, pulse butter and flour until crumbly.  Add cream cheese, salt, and pepper.  Continue pulsing just until dough begins to form.  Turn dough out onto a floured surface and roll out to 1/4-inch thickness.  Lay dough on top of filled dishes.

In a small dish beat the egg with a little water.  Using a pastry brush, brush egg wash over crusts.

Freeze at this point or bake on a cookie sheet as instructed below.

To bake: 

     From fresh:  40-45 minutes at 375-degrees

     From refrigerator (frozen and then thawed): 50-55 minutes at 350-degrees

     From frozen:  Remove from freezer 30 minutes prior to baking and allow to sit at room temperature.  In the meantime, pre-heat oven to 425-degrees.  Cover pie loosely with foil and bake for 30 mins.  Reduce heat to 350-degrees.  Remove foil and continue baking for an additional 55-60 mins, or until crust is golden brown and pie is bubbly and heated through.  Sometimes I cover loosely with foil again towards the end if the crust is getting too brown.  Just keep an eye on it!

Decrease times slightly  if you're cooking individual sized pies.  Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.

*A note about doubling the crust.  When I double this recipe I use 2x the ingredients for everything except the crust.  I've found I only need to increase the crust by 50% and I have plenty.  If you're making 12-16 individual pies you may end up needing 2x the crust, I'm not sure.  When doubling I also make the crust in two batches so as not to overload my food processor.  


Monday, March 17, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - Week of March 16th

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

And no, I'm not wearing green.  La-hame.

Spring is commmiiiinnnggg!!!!  This week!  Woohoo!

Okay, now that we've got that out of the way.  Ahem.

We had a nice little weekend with lots of free time!  Saturday I had two doula meetings and that's about all she wrote for weekend engagements.  The weather was nice enough on Saturday that we were able to get outside for some play time and fresh air (yay!).  Sunday, it was cold and icky and I decided to protest by holing up in the house wearing a sweatshirt and cooking a big pot of gumbo.  Because it's just not right for the high to drop like 30-degrees within 24 hours.

But spring is coming.  (Can you tell this is my mantra right now?)

Also, I read Labor Day.  I went into it knowing the book had mixed reviews and although I enjoyed it I totally get why it's divisive.

Annnd now it's Monday.  We played with friends this morning and I've already got a couple of things checked off my list so this week is off to a pretty good start if I do say so myself.  Hopefully helping to welcome a baby some time this week!

Here's what we're eating:

Sunday:  Chicken and Sausage Gumbo over Rice

Monday:  Ruben Sandwiches with Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Tuesday:  Mexican Quinoa

Wednesday:  Freezer Meal

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday:  Out

Saturday:  Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - Week of March 9th

We've been enjoying some much-needed lovely weather around here!  Between the time change, some sunshine, and warmer temps I'm feeling like a whole new person.  Spring is coming, y'all!

Fun at the park with cousins!  Because when it's 45-degrees at the end of winter in Ohio it feels glorious!

Friday, we welcomed the sun and warmer temps with a trip to the park with my sister and her kids.  First park play of the year and Molly's first time playing at the park ever!  Last time we were there she was too little to do anything but ride along in a carrier or sit on a blanket.  Not this year!  After lunch we headed back to our house for some lunch and a little more play time with cousins.

Saturday I hit an early morning Zumba class.  Urgh... The 'urgh' is for the early morning nonsense.  It actually went a little better than last time and although I'm still ridiculous it wasn't quite as embarrassing as the first time.  Progress!

While Jack is away Molly revels in playing unimpeded with his toys.

Later that day Mark and Jack headed to the park for some more play time.  While Molly napped I stuffed some diapers and snuck in a little quiet reading time before the boys came home.

Sunday we were up at Mark's brother's house for our nieces' birthday party.  Fun was had by all.

Sad baby peeking out of a very convincing double-hammock while I folded laundry.

Molly missed her nap and while she was fine for the party she was a mess later that evening.  It's always an issue after the fact :/  Luckily she slept okay that night so it wasn't too bad.

Monday it was so nice out that we had the windows open to welcome some fresh air and we grilled out for the first time this year.  Woohoo!

More nice weather forcasted for today, but then it's back to snow and cold temps.  Boo!  BUT I hear birds, my daffodils are coming up, I've gotten some sun, and it's light out later so I have hope!

Sunday:  Late dinner - nachos

Monday:  61-degrees and sunny!  Hooray!  Burgers on Homemade Buns with Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Tuesday:  Mom's night out with friends for me; Homemade Pizza for the fam

Wednesday:  Freezer Meal with Salad

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday:  Out

Saturday:  Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Monday, March 3, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - Week of March 2nd

Friday was Jack's FOURTH birthday!  This kid... he's such a big guy now.  It's incredible.  Mark took the day off work so we could have a family day.  We let Jack choose what he wanted to do for his birthday.  We started off with some donuts for breakfast and then we were off to a bounce place for some play time!  It was pretty dead, but there was a little boy there that was Jack's age that Jack enjoyed playing with.  Once he left I got to be the playmate.  Climbing around/up giant inflatables when you're an adult is much more challenging than it seems!  After bouncing we went to lunch at Panera and then it was time to head home.  While Molly was napping I ran some errands and Jack got a little one-on-one time with Daddy.  Once I got home it was time to bake cupcakes and prep for Saturday's party!

We hosted Jack's birthday party Saturday morning at a play place.  He was SUPER excited for both his birthday and birthday party this year.  Family, friends, food, cupcakes, and monster trucks.  Jack had a blast!  The one good thing about having a morning party is once it's over you have plenty of time left in the day to relax and dig into new birthday toys!  Jack spent the rest of the afternoon/evening enjoying his new stuff.

Sunday we were supposed to get a snow storm, but it ended up being pretty lame.  We had a nice, lazy day.  The kids played, Mark did some work from home, I did several rounds of laundry, got some reading time in (I'm in the middle of Five Days at Memorial - gripping!), and headed to the gym (since we weren't snowed in after all) for my first ever Zumba class.  Because I go to the gym now.  Oy, I don't know why I do these things to myself.  It's not like I was looking for another thing to add to my plate, but I get these ideas that seem good in theory while knowing they're not going to be so great in practice.  You can tell I'm excited about all this, yes?

Anyway, Zumba.  I'm uncoordinated and have no idea how to make my body move like the instructor's.  Not news to me.  It's like my head thinks things are going well, but then I look in the mirror and I seem to be doing something different than everyone else.  ::facepalm::  I'm proud of myself for breaking the seal on group classes though knowing about my uncoordinatedness/lack of rhythm.  So that's something.  Boom!

I'm packing my doula bag for the first time today (I'm already behind, really must do this) because I could be getting The Call for my first birth any time now!  I was also hired by the client I met with last weekend (woot!) and I have another interview lined up for later this week.  I'm feeling good about the way things are going right now!

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday:  Leftovers

Monday:  Savory Sweet Potato Nachos with lots of yummy toppings

Tuesday:  Beer and Brown Sugar Kielbasa (Crock Pot) with Pierogies and Broccoli

Wednesday:  BBQ Chicken Meatballs with Mac & Cheese (from the freezer)

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday:  Out

Saturday:  Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by