Menu plan- Week of January 27, 2013

In case anyone is curious, here’s what we are eating this week…



Yes, Chicken Enchiladas again.  They didn’t get made last week because we unexpectedly went out to eat, so we’ll try this time.


Related recipes:

I have been making Alton Brown’s Granola almost every week.  I substitute whatever nuts I have on hand- yesterday it was pecans.  It’s SOOO good.

Alton Brown’s Delicious Granola

This is the chicken enchilada recipe that I follow VERY roughly.

Tyler Florence Chicken Enchiladas

I haven’t tried this one yet, but I think the kids will like, and it looks fast.

Beef and Broccoli Lo Mein


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So I used to have this blog…

Will one social media platform pull me back into another??  (I was honestly scared that I wouldn’t remember how to get into my blog.)

Ever so pleased with myself this morning, I posted on Facebook that I had updated my template for menu planning.  It’s not brilliant or anything, but I use it religiously to plan our meals for the week, and thought I could spare others the time involved in creating one for themselves.

So I offered it to anyone who wanted it.

I got more requests than my sitter whose roommate pranked her by putting her name and number on Craigslist selling Bieber tickets the day of.

Here’s the blank one.

Menu plan

However, it seems like what everyone really wanted was for me to tell them what to eat.  Or at least to know what I was fixing.

So here is my honest-to-God, holes-in-it-from-being-posted-on-the-bulletin-board, eraser-marked menu plan for this week.



Alright, stop! Collaborate and listen!

We broke out the ice cream maker for the first time this season.  If you don’t have an electric ice cream maker, you should run to Williams Sonoma right now and get one.  Ice cream made at home is infinitely better than most grocery store brands, and while I wouldn’t call it health food, at least you know what goes in.

This is one I have, which I love. 

Be forewarned that in most cases, you can not pull together a batch of ice cream in an afternoon.  There are usually a few steps, so you have to think ahead.  During the summer, I keep my insert in the freezer so it’s always ready, otherwise it takes a day or two to freeze thoroughly.

Another piece of advice: BY FAR the cheapest place to find heavy cream is Sam’s.  It’s $3.10 for a quart.  That’s about half of the price at my local grocery.  And it’s a national, not store or generic, brand.  Pick up several.  The expiration dates are usually pretty far off.

And while you’re there, you might also want to grab the super-pack of eggs because you’ll need a bunch of those, too.

Since everyone I know is in Italy this summer (really just two friends, but still, not me), I was in the mood for my favorite flavor of gelato- Stracciatella.

The Mississippi ain’t the Arno, but you work with what ya’ got.

Stracciatella Ice Cream (adapted from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop)

1 cup whole milk

¾ cup sugar

2 cups heavy cream

Pinch of salt

1 vanilla bean

6 large egg yolks

¾ tsp vanilla extract

4 oz Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate bar

  1. Warm the milk, sugar, one cup of the cream and salt in a saucepan.  Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the warm milk, then add the bean as well.  Cover, remove from heat and let steep at least 30 minutes.
  2. Pour the remaining cup of cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture, less the vanilla bean, into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then pour back into the saucepan.  (Do not freak out if some of the eggs curdle.  Obviously, you don’t want scrambled eggs, but a little bit is fine and will be strained out.)
  4. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom as your stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spatula.
  5. Pour the custard through the strainer into the reserved cream.  Add the vanilla extract and refrigerate or cool over an ice bath.  This needs to be really cold before going into the machine or it won’t harden all the way.
  6. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream machine until it starts to pull away from the sides.
  7. This is where it gets fun…Melt the chocolate bar in the microwave in small increments, stirring between, until just smooth.  Pull the insert out of the machine and using a rubber spatula, drizzle the chocolate over the ice cream by waving it back and forth.  Remember splatter-painting T-shirts in the 80s?  Same thing.  Except thinner is better.  Like this.. The chocolate will harden when it hits the ice cream.  Use your spatula to fold in the chocolate ribbons, which will break into delicious threads as you do.  Repeat until you’ve used the chocolate.
  8. Transfer the ice cream to a plastic container.  Seal and freeze until hard.

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Chicken Stir-Fry

I don’t cook that much ethnic food at home, but after a weekend of less-than-healthy fare, we needed some growing food.  On a night that we didn’t have a lot of time, when I knew were going to be outside late enjoying the company of our neighbors, I acquired random ingredients to saute over rice.  I made this up as I went (remarkably measuring and noting, just in case it turned out great) and it was delicious. 

Like the-neighbor-kid-who-eats-nothing-but-macaroni-ate-two-bowls good.

And thus I share:


Chicken and Veggie Stir-Fry

1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts, sliced into 1/4 inch thick strips

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 T honey

1 t five spice powder

1 t powdered ginger

1/3 c orange juice (or orange-pineapple juice, which is what I had on hand)

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, cored, and sliced

1 red bell pepper, seeded, cored, and sliced

5 oz sliced shitake mushrooms

1 large head fresh broccoli, florets trimmed into bite-sized pieces

Vegetable oil

4 T soy sauce

1 T brown sugar

2 t cornstarch

Sesame oil

Cooked white rice

  1. Place chicken strips, garlic, honey, five spice powder, ginger, and orange juice in a ziploc bag.  Mix to thoroughly cover the chicken with the marinade and refrigerate for at least an hour.  Or as long as it takes to have a glass of wine and catch up with the neighbors.  I didn’t really keep track.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a wok until really hot, but not smoking.  In batches, cook the chicken until slightly browned, turning as needed, about 6 minutes.  As batches are done, move to a plate and keep warm.
  3. Meanwhile, mix the soy sauce, brown sugar and cornstarch in a bowl.
  4. When all chicken is cooked, add the peppers, mushrooms and broccoli.  Cook until hot, but not limp.  Pour in the soy sauce mixture and cook until slightly thickened.
  5. Add chicken and toss to incorporate. Drizzle with sesame oil and serve over rice.


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Follow the Yellow Brick Road to NOMA!

Where Y’art?!: Movies in the Garden

The Wizard of Oz

Friday, June 8 at 5pm

Join the New Orleans Museum of Art and the The New Orleans Film Society as we present music, art making, and an outdoor screening of the classic film, The Wizard of Oz, on Friday, June 8th in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at NOMA. See below for the night’s scheduled events.

Because of the overwhelming success of NOMA’s past films (thank you!), we suggest you buy your tickets early. Online ticket sales end at 4pm on 6/8. Tickets will be available for purchase at the gate.

Admission: $6 for adults : Children (17 & under), free : $3 for NOMA & NOFS Members (Members are allotted 4 tickets at the discounted rate.)

Due to the sculptures and the architecture, no outside food or beverages will be permitted. Multiple food vendors will be available for refreshments.

Please bring a blanket (recommended) or folding chair for seating.

The Wizard of Oz will be subtitled for the hearing impaired.

Schedule for the Night:

  • 5pm to 8pm: Food by Crêpes à la Cart, La Cocinita, & Green To Go NOLA [Fresh salads – quantities limited] (additional purchase required)
  • 6pm to 8pm: Music by Cindy Scott
  • 5pm to 7pm: Art Making Activity with 3 Ring Circus
  • 8:15 – 8:30pm/sundown: Film: The Wizard of Oz
  • Come dressed as your favorite character from The Wizard of Oz and receive a free NOMA poster!
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Slippery Summer To-Do List

The kids were told to list any ideas, feasible or not. I doubt we will make it China this summer.

There was a time not long ago when I hated summer. HATED it.  My kids are less than sixteen months apart, so for those early years with a newborn/infant, infant/toddler, toddler/potty-training toddler, potty-training toddler/preschooler the summer was miserable.  It was exhausting to haul babies around in 110 degree heat indices.  Vacations required the equipment equivalent of a major rock band tour.  I would tick the calendar all the way to Labor Day.

And then it happened last summer.  Parenting books may identify major milestones as walking, sleeping through the night, and potty-training, but the most significant finish line is this:

Being able to read a magazine while the kids are in the pool.

Sure, having a swim-capable child is one thing.  But having a kid that can swim well enough that you don’t constantly have to keep eyes on him is another entirely. So last year, when I recognized that I could relax with the kids around water, my perspective on summer completely changed.

Summer is good.

The realization that my kids won’t be little much longer has set in over the last few months.   The other day AG asked to borrow my flip-flops.  Because they fit her.

And that scares the shit out of me.

There is a line in the sand approaching, where impressing the other gender will be more important than perfecting an underwater handstand, and where going for a drink won’t mean getting sno-balls.

I don’t know when that line is going to show up here, but it’s coming.

So on this, our first official day of summer, the work of creating memories begins.   We will break out our Summer To-Do List and see how many things we can cross off.  We do not fear the sun- that’s why they make hats and sunscreen and showers.  We will concoct our own adventures, and sometimes, we will just be.

And we will hold on to each slippery day as long as we can, knowing that in just a few moments this summer will have passed, too.

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Capt. Mike’s Chocolate Cookies

I love to fish.  I can cast with the best of them, control my line, set the hook and land a big one.

I just don’t like to touch them.

As evidenced by this picture:

To my right, is one of my favorite people, Capt. Mike, charter fisherman.  The dude is serious about fishing.  He knows his stuff.  And he treats us (three pretty intense ladies) like legitimate fisherchicks. 

Unlike another well-known, award-winning redfish charter captain who deliberately took us out to a rig for reds that were too big to eat and then called us names when we asked to go back to the marsh.

Love Capt. Mike.

So I named these cookies for him.  If you look closely, you can see fish-shaped pretzels mixed in.  Cute, huh?


Capt. Mike’s Chocolate Cookies

¾ cup brown sugar

¾ cup granulated sugar

½ cup butter, softened

½ cup shortening

1 ½ t vanilla

2 eggs

2 cups flour

¼ cup cocoa powder

1 t baking soda

½ t salt

1 cup white chocolate chips

¾ cup fish-shaped pretzels

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat sugars, butter, and shortening until light.  Add eggs and vanilla.
  3. Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into sugar mixture and mix until incorporated.
  4. Drop onto baking sheets lined with Silpats.  I used a #24 cookie scoop, which yields cookies about 3 inches across.
  5. Bake 14 minutes.  Cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.



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It’s Elementary. Chess, That Is.

Dude and I are headed for a big adventure this afternoon:  The National Elementary Chess Championship in Nashville, Tennessee.

He’s 7.

The kid loves chess.  And in this day, who wouldn’t do everything in their power to encourage a seven year-old boy to pursue competitive chess??

Time out.  I just googled “too much screen time” to see what research is out there on this subject.  Holy shit. One Utah study found that children ages 8-18 spend 7 ½ hours a day in front of a screen.  That’s almost as much time as most adults spend at work. 


Anyone out there been to a chess tournament?  It’s pretty frickin’ hilarious at this age.  Most of the kids, like 95%, are boys.  At our city tournaments, the little ones finish their matches way before the older kids, and because all ages compete in the same room, there’s an awful lot of free time for the first-graders.  They usually end up running around outside, wrestling with each other, or whatever Lord of the Flies stuff they do to let out steam before the next round.

It’s basically tackle football interrupted by the occasional chess game.

Wonder how the fancy-pants mega-hotel is going to take to a herd of seven year-olds throwing balls around the lobby, because I’m pretty sure no one on Dude’s team can play chess without at least three fresh brush-burns.

So wish us luck.  Send us good vibes.  The word from our awesome chess coach is that this is the best crew of first-graders he’s seen in a while, so we have a good chance to bring home a big win.

And I’ll try to restrain myself from getting this to commemorate:

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