Wednesday, October 22, 2014

This and That

For the first time in the seven months since he's been working from home, my husband and I had an actual lunch date at a restaurant! We both had work appointments in the same neighborhood and a miraculous break in the middle. We went to Honeygrow, and it was good. I didn't love love love it but I liked it a lot and would definitely go back to try more. I had a lemon-tahini stir fry but the salads looked amazing too.

I tried this recipe for pork chops with apples and onions and it was good. I used boneless of course, and it does take forever, but we enjoyed it anyway. "We" is of course the grownups in the house.

I am in a little bit of a panic--Two Fat Als, one of my go-to websites when the boys were small, suddenly popped up with a spammish ad. I freaked out, worrying that I wouldn't be able to find my favorite recipes of theirs. They are still available but I am still more than a little concerned about how something from the spam site ( moved in to my Blogger feed if they didn't disconnect it.

This is the recipe for the amazing cookies:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 - 10 oz. bag toffee candy bits
1 cup oatmeal
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 1/3 cups sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the first mixture. Mix the almonds, coconut, toffee bits and oatmeal together in a large bowl, then mix them by hand into the dough. Drop dough balls (about 2 tbsp per ball, about 2 inches apart) onto a greased cookie sheet (or one lined with parchment paper). Bake for about 10 minutes, let cool, and serve.

Note to E: We found your favorite heath bits at the Fresh Grocer at 40th and Walnut!

And this is for the cranberry blondies:

My mom sent me this recipe yesterday, and it reminded me so much of Starbucks' cranberry bliss bars that they required immediate baking. The Starbucks bars were my favorite cranberry dessert bars until 20 minutes ago, when they were eclipsed by cranberry and white chocolate blondies. Lara describes the bars as festive, rich and scrumptious. Good adjectives. They tasted ridiculously good.

So here's how the baking went: we made one batch, thought it looked like not enough batter, and decided to double it. Except we only increased the size of the pan by a little, and had to bake it for a lot longer. So we can't say if the baking time is correct, but if you double it, add about 20 minutes to the original time. Bakes easy, goes down easier. Easiest with milk.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup fresh cranberries, coarsely topped

Line a 7x11 or 9x9 baking pan with tin foil, and spray with non-stick oil. Preheat to 350. Beat the butter and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla and continue mixing. Mix in baking powder, baking soda, salt and flour. Beat in dried cranberries and white chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the pan. Sprinkle with the fresh cranberries, and press down with a spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until knife comes out clean.

Please know: I am not at all trying to plagiarize, I am happy to give credit where credit is due, and all credit goes to Two Fat Als. But these two desserts in particular are huge family favorites and I will cry if I lose them. So here there are to be preserved from whatever spammity thing is happening over there.

Still on Hiatus, but This

How Cooking for Others Can Be Selfish. From the indispensable Tipsy Baker.
I'm not quite there--my kids are too little, I can't be--but in Taco Tuesday and Wednesday Spaghetti, I can hear myself whispering Yes. My job is to fill those bellies with the most nutritious food we can both stand. Yes, I am grateful not to be my mother, coming up with a different impressive meat-starch-veggie meal every night and avoiding what my father had for lunch that day (a good trick, when they both worked in different places, though to his point, usually she was fine if she avoided ham and cheese hoagies for dinner). And Yes--I'm done. I want this to be at least a little interesting and am failing even at that. So barring interesting--allowing them to thrive despite themselves.
Back to making more pumpkin muffins.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


No, the blog isn't going anywhere, and neither am I. But I wanted to put a placeholder post here since I am doing more and more of my meal planning on the back of an envelope and less and less online.

This blog will stay here for the links on the side and my recipe notes, and if I get back in to the spirit of the thing, for posts when I think of it. To my eleven readers: it's been fun cooking with you, and I hope I stay in your feedly or whatever for the times I return.

Meanwhile, I wish you happy meals with your families and thank you for your inspirations for mine.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Summer Recap into Fall

We are off and running in to our final year with two in the same school. I will miss these days! But I am thrilled I won't have to miss them yet. And a fun new twist this year: they are old enough to bike to school! (School's rules, not ours.) They have really enjoyed doing that and we love that they get the exercise and fun time with friends. We still go with them because of traffic; sadly we trust our kids more than the grownups on the route. But I think later in the year, once we get them across the one major dangerous intersection, they will be able to take it themselves the rest of the way.

Because of the home renovations earlier this year, we did not get to go anywhere or do anything extravagant this summer but it was a great one nonetheless. The kids' camp moved to the school building a block from our house and the kids loved walking and biking to camp for all five weeks. Then after a week off, it was two weeks in the mountains--a little long for my homebody but how lucky we were to have the time with Grandmother and cousins! Then the last two weeks had lots of pool time and day worked out well. Summer 2014 in a list:

Summer 2014 

Make milkshakes at home
Explore college woods
Oreo soak in half and half lay on wax paper freeze 1hour for mini ice cream sandwich 
Franklin Institute
$1 movies
1000 lap tshirts
Write to C
Write to E
Camden Aquarium pref with friends
Beach beach beach
Try Joe's pizza

Not on list but did it anyway

Bobby's Burger Palace
Ice bucket challenge
Lots of books (for 3 of us at least)
scientific study subjects (earned $40 each!)

Did not do:

go see Philadelphia Freedoms play
Hardy boys
Make a video game
Dog elevator

Added in August: did not do but move to next year/days off:


This week: we met our new academic advisee; he is 13!!! I cannot imagine being brave enough to send my child away at age 13 though of course I know it has been done for years. Snuggling up my boys a little tighter and welcoming this one even more warmly.

Today: picnic for the new students. I am bringing the Giada orzo and Greek dip.

Monday: pulled pork sandwiches, mashed potatoes, green beans

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: Spaghetti

Thursday: pulled pork (might make it bbq), sweet potatoes, cucumber salad

Friday: We will see but I am leaning to the sausage bake.

This was the week the freezer finally left. I miss it but only a little. I am working hard on clearing out the decently sized freezer we have in the kitchen to make it more...realistic. Some of the things in there--pie crusts, mixes for drinks no one in our house consumes--are a waste for us. We can do better. But right now, it's time to enjoy the gorgeous day. Wishing you a great week!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Every New Beginning

Happy September! And happy 9th birthday to my little guy! I am so happy for him that he has this one last day of summer on his birthday, but so begins the rocket ride of a school year.

Monday: Olive Garden (birthday choice)

Tuesday: Lego build after the first day of school--woo! So we will eat in the mall.

Wednesday: spaghetti, of course

Thursday: tacos

Friday: leftovers, I hope, for the picnic at the kids' school to celebrate the new playground equipment

This is the last year (for a bit) that I get to talk about the kids' school! They are starting 3rd and 5th grades, so starting next year, they are apart again. I dread this more than they do, though maybe it will be a good thing? Once they get through this year, they will be apart four of the next five school years. Then I get a last two years of high school. Yikes.

Have a great start to September!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Coming in to the Finish Line

Ah, August. Can you ever end too soon? Or too quickly?

We were in the mountains for two weeks, but I pretty much stuck to the meal plan, only with a ton more peaches. I have had the overnight oatmeal with a variety of dried and fresh fruits (fresh: mostly peaches. And blueberries! But really peaches). And we are now just fitting in the last of the realistic summer goals, treading water until my paychecks begin again (thank you Lord, and not a moment too soon).

The other recipes I tried lately were Smitten Kitchen irresistables: her easy dill pickles, and the farro tomato one-pot meal. Both were, predictably, delicious. The pickles were crazy easy and good--I think I chopped five of the Trader Joe's Persian cucumbers and ate two right off the bat. Prep time was minimal and since I used the ziplock bag trick, even though I wasn't around to shake them, they all settled in and brined nicely. Nom nom nom nom.  The other was totally worth buying the farro for. Trader Joe's sells it in neat little bags, though there is way more than a cup in there. Also I over salted but for me--that is not a problem. It was fabulous and a great way to use up some CSA tomatoes of a variety that I'd have a hard time using otherwise.

We lucked into a friend's CSA this week, which you will see a little bit of reflected this week...

This week:

Sunday: Armagnac chicken (with Old Grand Dad--why I even have OGD in the house, I do not know) augmented with Crazy Jane's, scalloped tomatoes (heaven in a dish), and green beans.

Monday: out with friends--I think to an actual restaurant, otherwise I will bring Greek dip and ... something.

Tuesday: tacos, or ALS fundraiser at Chik-Fil-A

Wednesday: spaghetti (I have been making sausage sauce with Trader Joe's chicken sausages for my husband, who is very happy about that)

Thursday: tacos probably, but there is also an open house that will probably have food. Either way--I will be taco ready.

Friday: believe it or not, I have book group this night. I can't wait. No idea what the boys will eat. Hopefully leftover chicken.

And there it is--the Labor Day weekend approaches. We are just about ready for the school year to begin, though I am sad to see this summer go. There were lots of sleepovers, home and away, lots of goals met (I will go over the list next week), and lots of books read. So--here's to the last week! Wishign you a good one.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Time is...fleeting....

Sing it with me: madness....takes its toll.

No time warp here but I just cannot believe that we are in the final throes of August. In some ways: I am totally 100% grateful because entertaining the boys without just throwing the Kindles at them is wiping me out. On the other hand--I love love love being with them. And I am soaking in these days for the ones when we are scattered to school and jobs and I am grateful I have this time.

So another week of uninspired but super-easy meals on tap:

Monday: Joanne's pork tenderloin, veggies

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: spaghetti

Thursday: grilling. Probably a London Broil (found one in the freezer) and maybe I'll make potatoes to go with it.

Friday: leftovers. I will be sure to grill enough to have some!

Keeping it short because there's not much to tell. It's summer, is all. Reading, swimming, trying to keep the dog cool...Enjoy your week!