Thursday, January 17, 2013

Two Easy, Healthy Meals...and MY KIDS ATE THEM!!!

Why is it that as a mom, I feel such success when my kids eat the meals I prepare?  One of the most nagging and annoying questions I face each day is, "What's for dinner?"  I try so hard to prepare meals that are healthy and yummy, and sometimes, every once in a while, there's a victory.  Two victories in a row warrants sharing.

So, after pancakes on Sunday night and hot dogs on Monday, I decided we needed to have some well rounded meals.  I got out my three ring binder, where I keep all the recipes I have collected over the years, from magazines, friends, the internet.  And I planned.  I had also recently done a freezer clean- out and inventory, so there were a few items I felt we needed to eat anyway.  On the menu: Lemon-Steamed Fish Fillets (Tuesday night), Taco Soup (Wednesday night), and Cheesy Baked Shells and Broccoli (Thursday night).

The fish recipe came from Desperation Dinners, by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross.  My mother-in-law gave me this cookbook as a wedding gift and we have made most of the meals in it!  I have never made one thing in that book that I did not like.  The fish was a hit!  In fact, I didn't realize until I started pulling out the ingredients for the fish, that I only had two fish fillets.  So, I cooked the rest of a box of fish sticks for the boys.  That kind of threw a wrench in my "healthy" plan for them, but to my delight, they asked for the steamed fish when we sat down at the table, and Jonah ended up eating half of my fish and half of Justin's, and we split his fish sticks.  As sides, we had asparagus, carrot sticks, and corn on the cob.  We have had this recipe in the past, but it is one of those meals I kind of forgot about.  We will be putting it back into the rotation for week-night meals.  It will also go on a list in progress on the side of the fridge called, "After Bruce Comes."  I know my sleep deprived brain may need assistance planning and shopping for meals after the baby arrives.  (One note about the fish recipe--don't use water in place of white wine.  The wine really enhances the flavor.  I buy the small bottles of wine that come in a four pack for cooking).

Wednesday night, I made the Taco Soup.  I was so happy to hear the boys talking about how good dinner smelled as I was cooking.  Did I mention how successful I feel as a mom when my boys like the food I cook?  I think it is the hour spent in the kitchen preparing a meal, and the time spent thoughtfully planning what I want to put in their little bodies, that makes me feel like a superstar when they actually want to eat it!  I picked the Taco Soup because Carson seems to really like soup, and Jonah LOVES tacos.  We just needed a variation on the same ol' tacos we enjoy each week.  And this one was a keeper!  I have to admit, they both kind of stuck up their noses when they saw the tomatoes mixed in with the meat and beans, but one bite, and they were sold!   Carson ate even more than his brother!  Jonah said he couldn't even taste the flavor of the tomatoes when they were mixed in with the other ingredients of the soup.  I should throw tomatoes into our meals more often!  The even better news about this meal: leftovers!!!  Enough for at least one more meal.  We had sliced apples and tortilla chips as sides, which helped the meal appeal to the boys even more.

So, I am going for a third night of good eating.  The Cheesy Baked Shells and Broccoli may not be the healthiest one on the list, but it sounded like a good cold weather meal.  We'll see how it goes.  In the meantime, I will be adding Lemon-Steamed Fish and Taco Soup to our list.

One more thing.  How do you pick week-night meals?  I definitely go for healthy*, although I do resort to hot dogs on occasion, when I am tired or perhaps 39 weeks pregnant.  But another draw for me is a short ingredient list.  My mom always said my grandma will only make meals with five ingredients or less.  I am kind of like my grandma.  That is another perk to the two recipes I am sharing.  Many of the items I already had on hand as well--another seller for a recipe.

*I googled Lemon-Steamed Fillets and found nutrition facts.  I am not sure who came up with these, so don't hold me accountable to their accuracy.  I was pleased to see that if they are accurate, this is a very heart-healthy meal.

*I can't believe how easy it is to come up with nutrition facts!  Here are the details for the Taco Soup.  I used ground turkey when the recipe called for ground beef, so I imagine my version has less fat.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Friends' guesses at Carson's shower.  Jenny was right on!

I have taken a very l...o...n...g break from blogging, and I have missed it!  I was so surprised to see my last post was the beginning of November.  Need to get back in the swing of things.  So here goes.
Friends' guesses at Jonah's shower.  No one was right! :)

Jonah's intro to the world.

I LOVE scrapbooking.  Just this morning, the boys and I took out their baby books and looked at the pages where my friends had guessed the day they'd be born, their weight and how long they’d be.  It was so fun to look back, eight years ago, to who was there at my shower to help us celebrate.  As I looked at their books, I felt so happy that I had those memories, carefully preserved, in their Creative Memories scrapbooks.

Baby Carson
As the boys have gotten older, it has become more and more difficult to find the time to sit down and glue those memories down on paper.  I am sad when I think that I have scrapbooks for Jonah’s first two years, but only one scrapbook for Carson’s first year.  I worry Bruce will have even less to show for his baby years.

When Justin and I bought a video camera recently (the day after the doctor confirmed this pregnancy ☺), we received a free offer from Shutterfly, for a photobook.  I am glad to say I have at least started “Bruce’s” baby book, and have pictures of my growing belly and major events throughout my pregnancy preserved there.  But there is something so personal about looking at an actual photo, that I cut by hand, chose paper to coordinate the page, and wrote a caption in my handwriting to tell about.  I am torn.  Did I do the right thing by making “Bruce’s” book online?
I feel the need to list the pros and cons.  I am a list maker.  A journaler.  A “get my ideas down on paper” kind of thinker.  So I made a list.

Pros of hand-made scrapbooking:
1. Layout can be my way, not restricted to the offerings of the photo book company.
2. Handwriting is mine, not a font I choose.
3. Pictures and captions can be added at a later date.

Pros of digital scrapbooking:
1. Layouts take less time because of limited options given to me by the company.
2. Work is done on the computer, so I don’t need a large table and materials at the ready.
3. Book is less cumbersome, and easier for little people to view.

When I look at this list, I realize the hand-made type of scrapbook was great for me when I was in the phase of life of having one little person to chase around.  Now, I have baseball and basketball games to attend, meals to prepare for four hungry mouths, and soon will have laundry to do for FIVE people!!!  Not to mention, a budget to watch, and the small amount of research I have done on cost for both types of books leads me to believe that digital scrapbooking does prove to be a less expensive option in the long run.

I think the most important thing I can glean from my ramblings this morning is that I like to reflect on times past, and to have a way to preserve memories, and so do my kids.  And the best way to reflect is through pictures, moments in time forever caught in our minds, and held there to cherish.

Almost everyday since the start of 2013, my boys have asked when I was going to finish our “2012 Memories” poster.  In 2010, we started a tradition by creating a poster called “Top Ten in 2010.”  In 2011 it was “2011 Memories,” because I couldn’t stop at just 10.  This year it is “Top 12 in ’12.” The poster hangs by our kitchen table, and the boys love to look at it, and remember all the goodness of the past year.  This year it is filled with the memories of a family ski trip, Emily’s family moving to NC, Disney World, a baby on the way, and Carson’s sports endeavors.  We decided to hang the past year’s posters in the playroom, so we can remember those years’ memories as well.

How do you hold on to memories?