Thursday, August 27, 2009

Twist and shout

We call her gumby and it's not normal, but it's also not hip dysplasia. YAY!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Taco potatoes

It's starting to look like we eat a lot of mexican-style dishes around here. It's gotten to the point that, when I make taco meat, I make a double-batch to carry over a few meals. Here's one of my 2nd-meal uses.

Bake 4-5 potatoes. (I just use the microwave setting, but make sure you stab the potatoes first.)
Warm up the taco meat.
Split the baked potatoes, spoon taco meat over it, then sprinkle cheddar cheese, tomatoes, olives, sour cream, and whatever other toppings your family enjoys.

Easy, huh? Because some nights, who has time for complicated?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tamale casserole

Sometimes it's fun to just throw things together and see what you come up with. Last night's invention was tamale casserole

5 sweet banana peppers (or hot, if you like things spicy)
1 pound sausage
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can cream-style corn
salt and pepper, to taste
1 box Jiffy mix cornbread (and the stuff to mix it)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  1. Cut tops off of peppers and remove seeds. Cut in half lengthwise and boil in water for 5 minutes. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, brown sausage and onions together, until cooked through. Drain off any grease.
  3. Add cream-style corn, salt, pepper, and stir. Pour into a casserole dish.
  4. Sprinkle with half of the cheese.
  5. Place banana peppers on top of sausage mixture.
  6. Sprinkle remaining cheese.
  7. Prepare cornbread mix according the instructions on the box. Spoon over the peppers.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until cornbread is baked through.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

8 years ago

Eight years ago, I was vomiting.

Pleasant thought, eh? But I know, those last few days leading up to Katie's birth were full of throwing up. I remember telling her in utero, you better be a great baby, because this pregnancy sucks.

Well, she wasn't THAT easy of a baby. Not hard, I think, looking back, but not easy. She was sick from about 4 months on, which led to lots and lots of nebulizer breathing treatments. Then around 9 months, she started throwing tantrums so hard that she'd pop the blood vessels in her face. She didn't crawl until 11 months, didn't walk until 15 months, adding to our worry. And my SIL recalls her screaming and screaming any time she babysat for us.

But, what I remember more, is sitting on the floor with a baby Katie, in front of the bookcase, reading book after book. I remember dancing to whatever video was on CMT every morning while we were getting ready. I remember her big brown eyes looking up at us, melting my heart. I remember Jay doing homework with Katie in the crook of his arm. I remember the "mama" and "dada" and the time she turned "walk" into a bad bad cuss word. I remember her laughing so hard that she'd vomit, and I'd think, "That's fair." :)

Now my little Katie is turning 8. She's just such a GOOD kid. She's one of those kids teachers love. Yes, she still has her sassy moments here, but a quick reminder to show us respect, and we get an apology and an attempt to do better. She helps out her sisters, probably too much. She wants to help everything and everyone. She wears her heart on her sleeve, and gets her feelings hurt often. She's so much like me in so many ways, which is bad in that we argue more but good in that I really do know how she feels. I love her with all my heart and soul, and thank God every day for giving me my Katie-bug.

Happy Birthday, Katherine!

Weekly menu: August 23-29

Sorry about last week -- I needed a week off to handle the rest of my world. First day of school, kindergarten started, DH's is at work day and night now, soccer was whatever we scraped together. And it showed...hotdogs, cheesy tacos, Wendy's, more hotdogs, sandwiches. Ick. Time to get back to real meals.

Sunday, August 23
Stuffed bell peppers

Monday, August 24 – Katie b-Day

Tuesday, August 25
Grilled cheese
@ Lincoln back-to-school BBQ

Wednesday, August 26
Frozen meal
Taco potatoes

Thursday, August 27
Breakfast burrito
No Forks Allowed

Friday, August 28 – Katie Party
Doughnut Day
Homemade Pizzas

Saturday, August 29
Baked corndogs

Monday, August 17, 2009


Oh, so many firsts this week!

Katie's first day of school is today. She's a big 3rd grader, the oldest in the school. I hope this year is everything she hopes it will be.

Maggie's first day of kindergarten is tomorrow. Our fearless leader is scared. She's been asking "what if...?" questions for weeks now. "What if no one likes my haircut?" "What if no one sits by me on the bus?" "What if I don't want to take a nap?" I'm sure she'll do fine, and, to be honest, it's kind of nice to have her need me a little. She's so darn independent that she rarely asks for help for anything. But she asked for help for tomorrow. So, she'll ride the bus from our house to school. Then I'll be at the school waiting for her, to help. Because I'm the mom. :)

Lainie's first day is September 2, but she's in denial about that wait. Every day she wants to wear a backpack around the house. There is no doubt she's ready to go to preschool. She'll be going to preschool Mondays and Wednesdays, and then on Tuesdays and Thursdays to speech at K-State. She's making progress, trying to talk alot, although she's started stuttering a lot.

I asked my SIL today if Natalie is supposed to be sitting up yet, because I don't remember what she's supposed to be doing at 6 months. Come to find out, sitting is a 9-month skill, so I can push that concern away. She's rolling all over the place, sitting with support, finding her voice, saying a rare MOMMMM, and flashing those super grins.

Jay's first day is today, too. This year, he's teaching 6th, 7th, 8th grade math, 8th grade science, plus k-5 math "assistant"....I'm not sure what the official term is. I hope he enjoys this year. It's great to see the light in his eyes, when he talks about what he's going to do in his classroom.

So, lots of firsts. I am praying that they all go well, that everyone can stay healthy, that we have a nice, normal, typical year.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Broken spirit

I used to work really hard. I would put in the extra hours, log in at 10 p.m. to make a change to a Web site or send one more email, try to smooth ruffled feathers and find compromises. I gave my all to my job. But no more.

I'm broken. My spirit is broken. I cried on the way to work this week, I am that unhappy. They have broken me, with their thankless demands, giving into temper tantrums, messed up paychecks, unequal pay, "can you just do one more thing" requests. I give up.

But, surprisingly, since I gave up, it's much more bearable. I'll do the minimum. I'll go through the actions. Screw long-term strategy; I'm aiming for 6 months tops. I'm no longer trying to clean up others people's messes. It's not my job. I'm only doing the minimum.

How not to inspire and motivate employees:
-tell them one thing, and change it again and again
-ask them to do something, then don't respond to any requests for instruction
-send them on a trip, and then don't pay for the costs incurred
-screw up the paycheck, and then bill them for the difference
-never say thank you
-never say please
-when you find out a project is succeeding, don't say good job, just say "next we'd like..."
-never return phone calls, acknowledge emails
-say "oh, it's okay, it's wasn't important" when you are late to a farewell reception for an employee that worked here for 25 years

Well, guess what? "They" are right. it's NOT important.

What IS important:
-my beautiful girls, 4, 3, 2, and 1. :)
-my wonderful husband, who just says "what do I need to do" when I tell him I need to change jobs
-my great friends, who say "we understand" and "I'm sorry" and "put visine in the water cooler and steal all the toilet paper"
-my family of families
-everything else

And so I pray, that my next career move is the right one, that I can suck it up and leave with grace at the end of the year, that I can hold it together through the end of the year (because we've met major med and have free healthcare until December 31), and that I don't let this sour me or tarnish my reputation.

Live life so you have no regrets. I'll regret it if I'm here in a year. Ten years don't mean anything to "them" so I need to make it not mean anything to me. It's time to start saying goodbye, pick up what's left of my spirit, and find new inspiration.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sloppy Joes, Crock-Pot style

From a dear friend, Sue...

Roberta's Sloppy Joes

1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2-3/4 cup ketchup
4 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/8 to 1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp yellow dry mustard
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 green pepper, chopped
1 can whole corn*
salt and papper, to taste

In a skillet, brown the meat and drain. Add all other ingredients and pour into a crock pot. Heat on low for 3-4 hours, or until heated through. Serve on hamburger buns for sloppy joes.

*The corn is definitely optional. Sloppy joes must have corn in them, in my mind, but not in everyone's. Think of it as a way to sneak more veggies in your family.

Cream of Tomato-Basil Soup

Soup in August? Absolutely! This soup is even better when you use fresh tomatoes.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • EVOO
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 4 cups finely chopped tomatoes*
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil

  1. In a large stock pot, saute onion over medium heat in oil until soft and translucent.
  2. Add salt, pepper, dried basil, and flour. Cook for a few minutes.
  3. Whisk in chicken broth to flour mixture until mixed thoroughly.
  4. Add tomatoes and stir. Cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. (The kids LOVE watching this part, and it's a great opportunity for an impromptu science lesson.) Stir in baking soda and sugar.
  6. Reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Add half-and-half and fresh basil.
  8. Stir and simmer for at least 5 minutes. Turn heat to low until ready to serve.

My family likes to add Goldfish crackers for the kids, or shredded mozerella for the adults.

*If you don't have access to fresh tomatoes, substitute 14 oz can diced tomatoes and 14 oz canned crushed tomatoes

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Weely Menu, August 9-15

Sunday, August 9

French Toast


Tomato soup

Monday, August 10


PBJ sandwiches

Grilled chops

Tuesday, August 11


Mac-N-Cheese, hot dogs

Pork Stir Fry

Wednesday, August 12



Crock-pot pizza

Thursday, August 13

Scrambled eggs

Lunch out

Veggie pasta

Friday, August 14

Doughnut Day


Smothered steak

Saturday, August 15


Sandwiches, chips


Friday, August 7, 2009

National Sneak Squash Night

August 8 is National Sneak Zucchini on your Neighbor's Porch Day. Truly.

In honor of that, here are my top five zucchini recipes. Try one! You might be surprised by how good it will taste and how versatile the little green veggies really are.

Breakfast: Zucchini Quiche

Lunch: Grilled Zucchini Strips
Cut zucchini lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with Italian seasoning, and grill until tender, turning once.

Supper: Zucchini Lasagne
(see below)

Snack: Zucchini Bread

Dessert: Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies

Zucchini Lasagne

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Pour the EVOO in the bottom of a 13x9 casserole dish.
  3. Place 3-4 strips of zucchini in the dish, forming a layer.
  4. Sprinkle 1/3 of half-and-half over the zucchini.
  5. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese over the zucchini,
  6. Pour 1/3 cup of the bread crumbs over the cheese.
  7. Repeat zucchini, crumbs, cheese, and half-and-half layers twice more.
  8. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  9. Place the casserole dish on the foil, and put in the oven.
  10. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until zucchini is cooked tender and cheese is melted.

Oven Nuggets and Fries

I hate McDonalds.

No, I don't mean in a corporate-you-kill-small-businesses sort of way. I just can't stand their food. And thankfully, neither can my girls.

But, we still love the occasional chicken nuggets and fries meal. This is the easiest and healthiest way I've found to make this kids-favorite. NOTE: If you want the meal to be done at the same time, make the fries first, because they take longer to cook.

Chicken nuggets

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasted, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2-3 tablespoons of seasoning salt
  • 4 Tablespoons of butter

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the butter into tablespoon sized pieces and place in a 13x9 casserole dish. Place the dish in the oven until the butter melts, about 4 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the flour and seasoning salt (or seasonings of your chosing) in a gallon sized ziploc bag.
  3. Put the chicken in the bag.
  4. Seal it.
  5. Check to make sure it's sealed.
  6. Check again.
  7. Hand the chicken bag to your child and let them shake it until the chicken is thoroughly coated. (Or shake it yourself, but then you lose super-mom points.)
  8. Take the dish out of the oven and place the chicken in the butter. Turn the chicken once, so all pieces are coated.
  9. Put the dish back in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through (165 degrees internal temp).

And, while you're heating the house up for chicken nuggets, why not make some ...

French Fries

  • 5-6 potatoes, washed and cut into strips
  • 2-3 Tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 ranch dressing packet, optional

  1. Pour the EVOO into a gallon-sized ziploc bag.
  2. Add the potatoes.
  3. Seal the bag. Make sure. Check a third time.
  4. Shake the bag until the potatoes are evenly coated with the EVOO.
  5. Open the bag, add the ranch dressing mix.
  6. Seal the bag and shake again, until potatoes are coated.
  7. Spread the potatoes on a baking sheet
  8. Bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees, turning halfway through.

Not Hansel-and-Gretal-ish

There was/is a cooking show called Kids-a-Cookin' and I always thought it sounded like a tribute to the Hansel and Gretal story. But, I think it's no less harmless than today's recipe, referred to in our house as "Kid Kabobs". *no children were hurt in the making of this meal.

Kid Kabobs

3 cups (more or less) fully cooked ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 cups (more or less) cheese*, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 cups (more or less) fresh pineapple**, cut into (you guessed it) 1/2 cubes
a box of toothpicks***

When I serve this, I give each child 5-6 toothpicks, and an equal amount of ham, cheese, and pineapple. The girls love "making" their own supper, and we never have a battle about this meal.

*about the cheese: cheddar, monterrey jack, colby, any kind you like
**about the pineapple: you could use the canned slices of pineapple, but fresh is just SO much better, even in the middle of Kansas
***about the toothpicks: you can use bamboo skewers for older kids or forgo the stabbing utensils all together for toddlers

Ham, Sweet Ham

Growing up, I never liked ham. I thought ham just meant the lunchmeat you put on sandwiches and got in plastic, sealed bags.

Then I married into a pork-raising family.

Now, my favorite ham comes from the meat we have processed in Herrington, KS. Something you may not realize: every meat processor has a different recipe for their ham cure, and it does make a difference. The ham from Herrington doesn't need dressed up.

But, because I can, we dress it up anyway.

My husband makes and sells jams and jellies through Farmers Markets. Two of my favorites are his Peach Jalapeno Jelly and Confetti Jelly. To make ham in our house, I place a strip of aluminum foil in a dutch oven. Then, I place a thawed cured ham on the foil. Pour the peach jalapeno or confetti jelly on top of the ham. Tent the aluminum foil.

Bake the ham at 350 degrees for about 18 minutes per pound of meat, or until the internal temperature reads 160 degrees. If you like the ham edges a little crispy, remove the foil the last 20 minutes or so.

Then, let the ham set at least 10 minutes before carving it. That will allow the juices to soak back into the meat and make for a better tasting ham.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Weekly menu for August 2- 8

Sunday, August 2
Toast & Jelly
Super Salad
Ham and fried potatoes

Monday, August 3
Breakfast burritos
PBJ Sandwiches
Kid Kabobs

Tuesday, August 4
Leftover ham, fruit
Frozen pizza, salad

Wednesday, August 5
Toast and fruit
Frozen lunch
Chicken nuggets, fries

Thursday, August 6
Scrambled eggs
Lunch OUT
Tortilla pinwheels

Friday, August 7
Fried chicken salad
Sloppy joes

Saturday, August 8
Tater-tot casserole
Tomato soup, rolls