Thursday, October 21, 2010

Potty-Training Update

Master Charles has been doing an AMAZING job with the potty-training and has not worn a diaper during the day for about three weeks now. He hasn't really had many pee accidents (He had one on the way to the camp, but it was really our fault not his - We forgot to have him go before we left and we drove up at bedtime. He fell asleep and peed (in Chris' truck - hahahaha). Ooops.) He's had one or two poo accidents but it was mostly because he was distracted (playing in the sandbox at camp).

My biggest worry had been leaving the house, but my girlfriend Jen gave me the wonderful idea of bringing the potty seat with us anytime we leave the house. (Thanks, Jen!) This had been a life-saver. Charlie goes potty before we leave, we pop the potty seat into a Market Basket bag and it goes right into my purse (luckily, I am currently using a large LL Bean bag as my "purse"). It's not the easiest thing to tote around and Chris was pretty embarrassed to carry it into Dunkin' Donuts the other day, but it's WORKING! Woohoo!

We brought the seat with us when we attended the Keene Pumpkin Festival this past weekend and used it in the porta-potties. We also used it (several times!) at Friendly's. Charlie kept telling us, "I have to poop. Really fast." So, we'd run to the bathroom only to have him pee. He did eventually go and announced to the restaurant when he and Chris returned to the table, "Mimi, I POOPED!" We got quite a few giggles and the woman sitting behind us gave Charlie a high-five. LOL

We learned this past Sunday while hiking Pack Monadnock that if Charlie is forced to pee outside, it's easiest if he kneels on the ground. This saves his pants from getting soaked and it saves us from having to make three to four trips to a tree for him to attempt to go. Stage fright? Cold?

I am also getting very familiar with bathrooms in all of our local stores. I've discovered that Charlie may not really have to pee when we get somewhere, but he likes to check out the bathrooms, so we often end up making a stop before we start shopping. I was happy to see that our local grocery store has redone their bathroom - I was dreading having to use it because it used to be DISGUSTING and I avoided it like the plague. Charlie also likes to tell me he has to go if we are anywhere near Grammy's house so that we have to stop and he is able to play. Clever boy!

We haven't started going diaper-less at night yet, but we have stopped allowing Charlie to bring water to bed with him. Baby steps! He's doing a great job!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cranberry-Bulgur Stuffed Peppers

I try to do at least one meatless meal per week. Not only does it save us money not having to buy meat, but it typically forces us to eat more veggies. One of our favorite meatless meals is Cranberry-Bulgur Stuffed Peppers.

Cranberry-Bulgur Stuffed Peppers
from Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book

14 oz vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 cup shredded carrot (1 medium)
1/4 cup chopped onion (1 small)
3/4 cup bulgur
1/3 cup dried cranberries, cherries or raisins
2 large or 4 small sweet peppers
3/4 cup shredded Muenster, brick or mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp sliced almonds or chopped pecans, toasted

In a large skillet, stir together the broth, carrot and onion. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in bulgur and cranberries. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Drain off excess liquid.

Meanwhile, remove the tops from the sweet peppers and remove the seeds and membranes. (I had some cutting issues last time I made these (see pictures below). The stems on two peppers ended up falling out, but it actually worked out pretty well because they were easier to eat!)

Stir shredded cheese into bulgur mixture; spoon into sweet pepper bottoms, dividing evenly. Place sweet peppers (and their tops) in skillet. Add the 1/3 cup water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes or until peppers are crisp-tender and bulgur mixture is heated through. Sprinkle with nuts.


Linked up at The King's Court IV: What's Cooking Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Peanut Butter Dip

I always tear out interesting-looking recipes from magazines (I have quite a magazine addiction and my recipe book is FULL of magazine pages) and this fall's back-to-school issues have been full of snack recipes. Charlie and I tried one out yesterday afternoon and I think we're both in love. We had Chris taste it when he got home from work and even my hubby who despises yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese, you name it... liked it. And it has yogurt in it!!!

I was shocked that Charlie was so eager to try the recipe, but super-excited. Now I can't wait to try out a few more recipes from a little 50 After-School Snacks booklet from Food Network Magazine.

Peanut Butter Dip
from Family Circle Magazine September 2010

3/4 cup vanilla yogurt (1 6-oz container)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 tsp cinnamon

In a small serving bowl, stir together yogurt, peanut butter, raisins and cinnamon. Serve with apples, celery and pretzels.

We had apples and pretzels, but skipped the celery (I've never liked celery - I have a horrible memory that goes back to Kindergarten of someone (I still remember who!) bringing Ants on a Log in for a snack... I couldn't bring myself to eat the celery but just licked out the peanut butter and raisins). I actually had to cut up a second apple for Master Charles because he liked this dip so much. It's so quick and easy to make and so yummy! It may become my new go-to appetizer recipe!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Meal Plan 10/25-10/31

We've got a bunch of new meals planned again this week and a few that have been rescheduled from last week. Chris ended up going to the camp with my stepdad this past weekend to take the boat out of the water and there wasn't much sense in cooking what I had planned for just myself, so I rescheduled them for this week instead.

L: Leftover Stuffed Peppers
D: Pineapple Pork Tacos (new recipe)

L: Leftover Rice
D: Out for Anniversary

L: Leftover Tacos
D: Oriental-Glazed Chicken (new recipe)

Thursday - My Brother's 18th Birthday and Our 4th Anniversary
L: Leftover Oriental-Glazed Chicken
D: Teriyaki Chicken Stew (new recipe - crock pot meal)

L: Leftover Teriyaki Chicken Stew
D: Pork Dumplings, Broccoli & Cashew Stir-Fry (new recipes)

L: Triple Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup (new recipe)
D: Homemade Pizza

Sunday - Halloween!
L: Corn Chowder (family favorite crock pot meal)
D: Out at Halloween Party

For other meal planning ideas, hop on over and visit I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Meal Plan 10/18-10/24

So far (I don't want to jinx myself), this week seems to be back on track. I did my meal planning last night and planned for two weeks of meals rather than just the one. We'll see how this change works for us.

Last week, I didn't do a meal plan because the boys and I spent an extra day at the camp on Monday rather than returning on Sunday. I cooked meals I had in the freezer for the majority of the week.

For this week, we've got a lot of new meals!

L: Leftover Fettuccine Alfredo (from Sunday dinner with Grammy D & Grampy K - yum!)
D: Cheesy Ham & Pasta Bake, Broccoli

L: English Muffin Pizzas
D: Pot Roast with Fall Veggies (2nd time I've rescheduled this meal... I'm starting to wonder if it's just not meant to be!)

L: Leftover Cheesy Ham & Pasta Bake
D: Cranberry Bulgur Stuffed Peppers (family favorite)

L: Leftover Pot Roast
D: Chicken Sauteed with Apples (new recipe), Brown Rice, Honey-Glazed Carrots

L: Nachos
D: Thai Pineapple Shrimp Fried Rice (new recipe)

L: Leftovers
D: Pineapple Pork Tacos (new recipe)

L: Leftovers
D: Pork Dumplings, Broccoli & Cashew Stir-Fry (new recipes)

For other meal planning ideas, hop on over and visit I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Homemade Pizza

We love ourselves some pizza around here (it's one of the few (only?) meals we all enjoy) and we almost always have the ingredients on hand to be able to whip some up. Instead of purchasing pre-made crusts, we prefer to make own our crust in the bread machine. It tastes better and is cheaper. The dough also freezes well, so if I'm thinking ahead, I double the batch and freeze whatever dough we won't be using that night. When we want to use it, I transfer it from the freezer to fridge in the morning so the thawing process can begin; a few hours before we're ready to cook, we transfer it to pizza pans so it can warm up more and start to rise.

I use the pizza crust recipe from the recipe book that came with my first bread machine (which died on me this summer) and I recently discovered that the same book has a whole wheat pizza crust recipe! I was so excited to try it! I'm always looking for ways to "healthify" our diet and we prefer whole wheat, so I decided to give it a go. It got a seal of approval from the entire family - we loved it. It's got great flavor but it's not so overwhelming that those who don't enjoy whole wheat will be turned off by it.

I am normally the main cook in our house, but when it comes to grilling and pizza, Chris takes over the kitchen (and I'm happy to step back for a bit). I help with toppings, but he handles the baking (or grilling - grilled pizza is AMAZING and so easy if you haven't tried it). He loves to use the pizza stone and pizza paddle you see in the photos.

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust Dough (makes 2 thin crusts)
from Breadman The Corner Bakery Bread & Dessert Maker Cookbook

1 cup water
2 tbsp oil (we use olive oil)
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups bread flour
2 1/4 tsp yeast

Add ingredients to bread machine pan in the order listed. Run bread machine on dough cycle. When cycle is complete, remove the dough from the machine and place on a lightly floured surface. Divide in half and press dough into pizza pans. Top as desired (the picture at the top is topped with chicken nuggets, a Master Charles favorite; one of my favorites is spinach and ricotta) and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until cheese is brown and bubbly.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Asian Beef & Noodles

I love skillet meals and casseroles because they tend to be somewhat easy to make and the clean-up is pretty quick! Asian Beef & Noodles is a recipe I found in Family Circle magazine (December 2008) and it quickly became a family favorite. I tend to go light on the ginger, as Chris isn't a huge fan, but I would not leave it out. He made the meal without the ginger once when I was working late one night, and I kept telling him throughout dinner that it tasted great, but something was missing. He finally fessed up that he skipped out on the ginger!

Asian Beef & Noodles

1 pound ground beef
1 small pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp sugar
3 tbsp stir-fry sauce
3 tbsp lime juice
8 oz whole wheat thin spaghetti

Cook pasta following package directions.

In a large skillet, cook beef until no longer pink.

Add pepper, scallions, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes & sugar to skillet; cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and stir in stir-fry sauce and lime juice.

Drain pasta and add to skillet with beef mixture. Toss to combine.


Meal Plan 10/4-10/8

Apart from skipping the pot roast I had planned for last week, the rest of the menu went as planned. Hopefully this week's will, too!

We have decided to make Sunday night dinners a "special" event from now on. The majority of the time, it will just be our family enjoying a more elaborate meal than normal. Occasionally, we would like to invite friends or family members to join us. This Sunday, we had an herb-roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, honey-glazed carrots, corn muffins and apple crisp. This was my first time roasting a chicken, and even though I didn't read the recipe's directions very carefully (ooops), it was AMAZING. There will be more roasted chickens in my future. :) And there are so many things I can do with the leftovers!

Now, for this week...

L: Leftovers
D: Chicken Pot Pie (made with leftovers from last night's Herb-Roasted Chicken) - recipe below

L: Leftover Penne (from last week)
D: Cheeseburger Zucchini Boats (still have zucchini to use up!!!)

L: Leftover Pot Pie
D: Feta Shrimp Skillet (new recipe from Healthy Cooking Magazine)

L: Leftovers (if we still have some) or PB&J, chips, grapes
D: ABC Beef & Veggie Soup (freezer meal)

Plans are up in the air - Chris will be going out for his best friend's birthday, but we're not sure what night yet. We will be heading up to the camp (and hopefully attending both an Apple Fest and a Garlic Fest on Saturday) for the weekend.

Wicked Easy Chicken Pot Pie

2 pie crusts (homemade or refrigerated)
Frozen/canned veggies (whatever kind you like)
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 can of cream of potato soup (if you can find it - I used 2 cream of chicken)
1/2 cup milk
Leftover chicken

Press 1 pie crust into an ungreased pie plate. Mix veggies, soups, milk and chicken in a medium bowl. Pour into pie crust. Top with 2nd pie crust, slicing holes for steam. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.

For other meal planning ideas, hop on over and visit I'm an Organizing Junkie.