a belated tuesday and marinara sauce

Thursday, August 25, 2011 0 comments
This post was supposed to be done up on Tuesday, when the pictures were taken, and linked to Tasty Tuesdays, which Alissa hosts over at 33 Shades of Green. I didn't quite make it on Tuesday (or Wednesday) but here I am, on Thursday, linking it up.

My favourite recipe to use for marinara and pasta sauce was adapted from this super-simple and super-tasty Yummy Marinara Sauce over at My Square Foot Garden. I use this for spaghetti, tortellini, lasagna, and other pasta bakes.

Start with the ingredients. Those would be the ones in the foreground. Mushrooms, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes (or whole ones to be chopped, since I was out of diced), onion, garlic, bell pepper, celery, carrots, and herbs and garlic which are not shown. I don't usually add the tomato paste called for in the recipe.

Finely chop the celery and the onion.

In a large stockpot, melt a tablespoon of butter (or use olive oil) and add the celery and onion to begin to soften. Chop the pepper and carrot.

Add the carrots and pepper to the celery and onion in the pot.

Crush the garlic the didn't make it to the group picture.

Open and dump into the pot, the tomatoes. Chop your whole tomatoes if you don't have diced.

Admire your can of mushrooms. It makes me happy to use Canadian products.

Be weirdly amused by the not so photogenic contents.

Add in lemon juice, honey, and herbs and spices including onion powder, basil, oregano, salt, and thyme.

Simmer for 30 minutes or up to several hours. Try not to drool into the spoon as you lift it to taste.

menu plan monday: 08|22 to 08|28

Monday, August 22, 2011 0 comments
It's Monday again and time for Menu Plan Monday.

I'm sneaking this week's menu plan in under the wire so there is no lead up and no wind down for this post. This week's suppers will be like so:

Monday: lasagna (since Saturday's lasagna dinner didn't happen)
Tuesday: cheese tortellini with Yummy Marinara Sauce (adding carrots and celery)
Wednesday: chicken to be determined, Special Cauliflower, brown rice
Thursday: Pork 'n' Potato Skillet, corn on the cob, garden salad
Saturday: Italian Sausage Zucchini Bake, tomato wedges
Sunday: slow cooked pork ribs with this tangy sauce, baked potato, green beans

This post is linked over at I'm An Organizing Junkie, where you will find hundreds of other meal and menu ideas and recipes.

menu plan monday: 15|08 to 21|08

Monday, August 15, 2011 0 comments
The weeks are flying by this summer. Monday is here again and it seems like it was just Monday a couple of days ago.

Today brought about the start of two weeks of daycamp for my 6.5-year-old at our local conservation authority. One week after that ends, school is back in session. Along with menu planning, I plan to start making school lunches the night before, unlike last year when I was scrambling each morning and juggling way too many tasks. I'll be practicing for the next two weeks; daycamp doesn't start until 10 a.m. but it will be nice to pretty much just grab his lunch and go. That's just one step in Operation Organization.

This week, we will be eating the following suppers -

Monday: Baked Slow Cooker Chicken with crispy skin, baby potatoes, carrots, and garden salad
Tuesday: veggie-filled omelet with leftover chicken, toast, fruit salad
Wednesday: Rhubarb Pork Chop Bake, mashed potatoes, broccoli
Thursday: Baked Sweet Potato with Apples and Turkey Sausage, corn (on the cob?)
Friday: Crockpot Chicken Pizza, garlic toast, garden salad
Saturday: Slow Cooker Lasagna, Caesar salad
Sunday: Creamy Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup, Crusty French Bread

Other kitchen-related activities this week include
Visit Laura's blog at I'm an Organizing Junkie for hundreds of meal ideas and menu plans. She hosts every week and there are always wonderful new recipes to be found via the link party.

    play with your kids

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011 0 comments
    A friend on a message board posted a great article. She read it in a random newsletter she received (whether via email or regular mail or another way, I don't know). I'd give credit to the author and newsletter if I knew the source. It's definitely worth sharing though. We struggle every single day with my 6.5-year-old's behaviour and I do know that part of it could be helped by more one-on-one play and more personal attention in general. It's something I'm working on. I feel like I'm just running in place right now though as often he'll just bring down a game to play and then the baby demands attention and by the time I've taken care of her, he's off and into something or out playing with the little girl across the street and we rarely get that time together that he needs, that we both need. We ended tonight with a game of Memory while having a muffin and lemonade picnic on the living room floor. Our bedtime tuck-him-in-and-scratch-his-back routine got cut short by a fussing baby, however.

    The article posted was the following:
    Playing to Prevent Power Struggles

    Kids playing independently! Parents celebrate when kids will finally play on their own or with a sibling. Finally – a few minutes of breathing room for mom and dad to get some things done around the house!

    Independent play is important for your child’s development and should be encouraged, however, playing WITH your kids on a daily basis will do you and your kids a world of good. It will even fend off some of the most frustrating power struggles.

    Playing WITH your kids doesn’t have to be elaborate or take a lot of time. It can be as simple as throwing a ball or role playing with dolls or action figures. “Playing” with a teenager can be a game of backgammon, UNO, or a round of Wii Golf. “Playing” is what ever your CHILD likes to do for fun.

    3 Great Reasons to Play With Your Kids

    1. Deepen Emotional Connection: Kids love to play with us. When you spend time in their world – doing what ever it is they like to do – it creates strong emotional connections. Imagine how your child will respond if you say, “I have 15 minutes before I have to leave for work and I would love to play/hang out with you. Let’s do something YOU love to do for the next 15 minutes.”

    It doesn’t require a long time to create emotional bonds – but being INTENTIONAL about spending PLAY time each day with your child will do wonders for strengthening emotional connections.

    2. Fewer attention-seeking misbehaviors: When parents play WITH their kids, they are PROACTIVELY filling the child’s attention basket in POSITIVE ways. Children have a hard-wired need for attention – it’s non-negotiable. If we provide sufficient POSITIVE attention on a daily basis, kids won't resort to negative behaviors to get it – clinging, helplessness, sibling fighting, etc.

    When parents implement consistent playtime WITH their children – attention-seeking misbehaviors begin to fall off the radar screen!

    3. More cooperative kids and fewer power struggles! As playful parents fill their kids’ attention baskets in POSITIVE ways and emotional connection increases, children consistently become MORE COOPERATIVE at other times during the day! When your child’s hard-wired needs for emotional connection and attention are met, he doesn’t feel the need to “fight back” to get negative attention.

    You’ll be amazed at how much more cooperative your kids will be throughout the day. Try it - it’s a beautiful thing!

    menu plan monday: 08|08 to 14|08

    Monday, August 8, 2011 0 comments
    I'm recycling a photo from a blog post from almost a year ago as my camera is dead and in need of repairs and therefore there have been no pictures of late. Not even of the sweet baby girl who joined our family in May. She's growing like a weed at nearly 11 weeks and the only recent-ish pictures I have of her are on my phone, for which I can't find my cord to connect it to the laptop.

    I've spent three days on the Montreal River with views like this:

    My boyfriend's sister turned 50 in June and this weekend was the only time we could get the family together to celebrate. The weather cooperated beautifully and while it was somewhat humid, there was a great breeze to go along with the gorgeous sun. Lots of food (way too much food!), friends, and family. BabyGirl was lavished with attention and it was good to see everyone, some of whom we don't get to see very often.

    I think the plan may be to spend another day or two there again this week so for a second week in a row, the meal plan will be somewhat short. I'll also be recycling the salmon cakes recipe as it didn't get made last week. The Rice Cooker Macaroni and Cheese turned out well but needs a few modifications before I make it again.

    I'm expecting to only have to make meals for four or five days of the week so our suppers shape up like this:

    Monday: Sweet Potato Salmon Cakes, Cilantro Lime Rice (minus the cilantro), Special Cauliflower
    Tuesday: Lemony Herbed Slow-Cooked Chicken, Quinoa and Rice with Sweet Potatoes
    Wednesday: Sweet and Sour Meatballs, Sugar-Crusted Parsnips, brown rice
    Thursday: Pork Chop and Rice Bake, veggie
    Friday: hopefully not cooking
    Saturday: hopefully not cooking
    Sunday: tortellini with Yummy Marinara Sauce (made earlier in the week)

    We also need to start planning my boyfriend's lunches at work. He works 12-hour shifts in sets of four (two days followed by two nights). We finally set up our budget at the beginning of August, we are trying to send him to work with lunch so he doesn't have to stop at the grocery store or fast food place to pick up eats in the middle of his shift. I'm hoping to have leftovers and also a few things made specifically for lunches. Some possibilities this week include:
    As always, head over to visit Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie for this week's Menu Plan Monday contributions.

      menu plan monday: 01|08 to 07|08

      Monday, August 1, 2011 0 comments
      In my blog travels last week I discovered that Laura at Organizing Junkie has a handy dandy compilation of recipes from the weekly Menu Plan Monday contributors. It's aptly named the Recipe Index Round-Up. I anticipate that I will lose vast amounts of time there in the near future.

      This week, however, I've pulled my recipes from other sources. As I attempt (yet again) to get back into meal-planning, I'm also attempting to get us back on track via budgeting (it's been a looooooong time since I've used my budgeting program, YNAB) and couponing. Here in Canada we aren't quite as fortunate to have the coupon system that our American friends do but we get by. If our neighbour across the street can save $160 in one grocery shopping trip, surely I can save a few dollars too and work my way up as I learn the tips and tricks and find the places for scoring relevant coupons.

      I am cooking mostly from the pantry and freezer this week and trying to use alternatives to the oven whenever possible. On Saturday I picked up a 16-cup rice cooker to replace (or accompany) our 3-cup cooker. I've been seeing a few posts on using a rice cooker to cook chicken and thought it the perfect solution to dinner on the many days of heat and humidity we've had of late.

      On to the recipes for the week. This week is a rather short one as we have family obligations going on and I will only be making dinner three or four nights out of the seven.

      Tuesday: Rice Cooker Macaroni and Cheese with garlic toast
      Wednesday: Caesar Chicken with Orzo (and carrots, corn, and broccoli)
      Thursday: day off
      Friday: day off
      Saturday: day off
      Sunday: Chicken-Stuffed Peppers (using turkey instead) and Sugar-Crusted Parsnips

      Whether you check out this week's link party or the recipe index round-up, you're sure to find hundreds of recipes to add to your usual rotation.