Thursday, July 28, 2011

Holy Green Beans!

I took Will out in the backyard tonightt to get some of the fresh green beans that appeared while we were on vacation.  Also, big THANKS! to my brother for coming by every day to water our garden.  Without him, our veggies would have been victims of the heat wave that swept thru in our absence.

 Show me the green beans, Mom.  I don't see them! really is cool to grow our own veggies!

 We grew them to eat them, Mom?  Oh're hilarious.  Or barking mad.

 Taking his watering duties very seriously.

This is the first bunch of green beans, I grabbed just enough for dinner.  And there's still a plethora of 'em out there.  What should we do with this first bunch??

Food, Glorious Food!

Brian and I treated ourselves to a cruise vacation last week.  We decided on a four-day package, embarking in New York City with one port call to Saint John, New Brunswick Canada.  Being our first cruise, we boarded with no expectations.  And we were blown away!!

For four days (kid-free, as the children were happily playing with their grandparents down in PA and getting spoiled) all we had to do was eat and play.  And boy, do I mean EAT.  If you are hungry on a cruise, then you have no one to blame but yourself.  For there is food EVERYWHERE.  And ALL of it is fabulous.  The cruise director said in the beginning that the average passenger gains about a pound and a half a day.  He was not kidding. 

The day starts with a breakfast buffet.  There's fresh fruit, oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, and the hot foods bar.  The hot foods usually included scrambled eggs, pancakes or french toast, always bacon, and there was always something interesting at the end, like breaded whole eggs or a mini quiche or burrito.  Also, an omelet station.  The ship's coffee was terrible, so for a nominal fee we would hit the coffee bar on Deck Five for an iced mochachino.  Then we'd lounge by the pool or walk on the top deck, enjoying the breezy sunshine.  Lunchtime would bring us back to the buffet, where there were many cold salads to choose from, plus a meat dish and accompanying sides.  If you didn't like what was for lunch or dinner, there was also a deli AND a burrito bar.  (I never ate at either, I liked lunch every day.)  There was a fish joint on Deck Nine that had mostly fried fish.  There was a grill station, which we went to once for the most delicious cheeseburgers. For dinner, there was the ship's three restaurants, or the more casual buffet on the lido deck.  And if that just wasn't enough.....there was gourmet pizza and soft-serve ice cream available 24 hours per day.  I love, love, LOVE soft-serve and it's something I don't get to have very often.  So my personal record for cones in one day?  Four.

On our last full night on the ship, we got all gussied up and dined at the ship's fancy restaurant:

Dinner:  the food was excellent!!!  We each had tuna tartare for an appetizer, then filet mignon.  The best part though?

The chocolate sampler that we shared.  This thing was to DIE FOR.

So my recommendation is to try a cruise if you never have before.  We certainly will be going back!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Healthy Foods Week

This week is Healthy Foods Week at Will's school.  When we got there yesterday morning, they were naming fruits and vegetables.  Will rushed over the join the group, just as the teacher was asking the kids to name some vegetables.  Will was really excited and shouted out "Broccoli!"  Proud of him for thinking of it, now if he would just EAT IT.  :)

Parents were asked to bring some fruits or veggies to share with the class this week.  So last night I got three tubs of blueberries at the grocery store for Will to share with his classmates.  I haven't seen him that excited to be at school in a while, though it *may* have had more to do with it being Sprinkler Day.  At least he'll certainly eat some of the blueberries, as both of the boys are blueberry-obsessed monsters! 

Improvement with Age

The list of foods that are good served right away but improve as leftovers:  meatballs, lasagna, chili.

Add chicken and snow pea stir-fry.  It's an old Weight Watchers recipe that was whipped up quickly on Sunday night, with intentions of leftovers as we packed last night for vacation.  I'm on my third serving in so many days for lunch today, and it's even better.  And brown rice makes it taste really "earthy."  Not sure exactly what that means, but in my head it's delicious.  This one deserves to be made again!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Garden Update

 Everything's coming along nicely.  No edibles yet, but there are a few small green tomatoes and the zucchini plants have squash blossoms on them.  Something is eating my basil plant!  It's got little bites in the leaves, and the bottom leaves look kind of scraggly.  I weeded and watered tonight after the heat dropped a little.  Man...those weeds!  If I ever find myself really angry, I'm going to go out and weed something.  Those stubborn suckers...they really take it out of you!  I hosed down with the garden hose afterwards, just my legs. cold as I recall from my childhood!

Can't wait to feast on green beans, zucchini and tomatoes.  :)

I Scream for Ice Cream

Happy National Ice Cream Day!    Had I realized this sooner, I might have tried to do ice cream for lunch.

My favorite flavors:  coffee ice cream is the front runner.  Especially with a little Hershey's Syrup.  Others that I really like:  raspberry cheesecake, rocky road, cookies n cream and chocolate.  For me ice cream is the ultimate treat, I've always got room for it.  In the summer, it's so much fun to go out for ice cream after dinner, though we don't do it often.  And I'm a sugar cone kind of girl.  And Dairy Queen, Friendly's or one of the more local joints around...I love them all.  

How are YOU gonna celebrate?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Notebook Week

Every Saturday, one of us writes the menu for the week.  I usually like to concentrate on one cookbook or other source for that week's meals.  Or, depending on how many nights one of us is going to be out that week, we stick to a short list of (kind of boring) quick and easy foods.  

I guess I can name this the "Best of" week, since Brian focused on our notebook as a cookbook.  If you don't remember or are new here, any recipe that's SO fabulous that we must make it again, it goes in a notebook.  This week's favorites:

Mexican Chicken and Rice

Lemon Pepper Swordfish Packets

Parmesan Breaded Pork Chops with Pasta

Marinated Steak Tips

Bon Voyage Chicken Pasta.

It's already been a very good week, with the Mexican Chicken and Rice last night.  And tonight's the swordfish.  Oh yeah!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Dessert...on a Grill??

The grill was probably invented just as much to keep the house cooler in the summer as it was to have delicious grilled meats and veggies.  At least, that's the way it works in our house.  However, I've never given much thought to having dessert on a grill.  Sure, I've seen Alton Brown make fruit kabobs and serve them with a homemade caramel sauce over ice cream.  And a couple of years ago my mom followed a recipe that was slices of grilled pineapple, served with ice cream and sauce.  (delicious btw)  But actual baked items?  No, not in my train of thought.

Fortunately, it was in Hubby's realm of possibilities.  When down at my parent's cottage, we try to cook outside as much as humanly possible.  It's a small cottage and though there is an oven, once you turn it on it's really hard to get that heat out of the house.  After a little research online, some shopping at the new Target grocery store and some prepwork at home, Brian made a successful Granny Smith Crisp.  He used the grill as an oven and a cast iron skillet to hold the crisp, carefully monitoring the progress.  And it was spectacular, the special delicious, patriotic dessert and perfect for Fourth of July Weekend.  Just goes to show, I never know what this guy is going to come up with next!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Steak Stretch-Out

Recently the grocery store had a special on Sirloin Steaks, buy one, get one free.  So Friday night's dinner was steak on the grill, foil-wrapped potato packets and fresh corn on the cob.  (Nothing like just-bought corn on the cob.....summer!)

All four of us had the steak (neither kid would touch the potatoes, and only Sean ate a little corn) and there was some for leftovers.  Last night my mother was over and we were doing Boboli pizzas on the grill.  At first they were just going to be cheese pizzas, until we found the steak.  Oh, and mini peppers in the fridge.  Chopped up peppers and onions, sauteed in butter.  (Not too many things smell as good as that.)  I chopped the entire container, because they were already showing signs of age.    Tomato sauce on the crust, followed by shredded mozzarella, the pepper/onion mix, thin slices of steak, finished with a touch of Colby Jack cheese and some fresh basil from the garden.  Best pizza at home ever!!

This morning, we're doing a quick breakfast so we can spend the rest of the weekend at the cottage.  I had saved some pepper/onion mix for eggs today, and Brian surprised me with yet more steak.  So steak-and-cheese omelettes.  Accomplishment:  awesome food prepared at home, and ingredients used up.  Mission complete!  :)