Sunday, May 31, 2009

Let the Summer Begin!

Summer '09 has begun. The school year is over. The swimsuits have been purchased. The White Trash Pool has been inflated.

We christened the pool this weekend. I bought a larger one than in years past. The increased size seemed to cut down greatly on the fuss-factor. I assure you, the extra cost was worth it.

The Boy and The Girl splashed.

Squealed. Sloshed. Dunked.

They played a game called "Hurricane Ike" which led to "Water Noise". I couldn't really tell the difference. Both games involved the kicking of water at a frenzied pace. When their legs gave out, they magically transformed into Shark Boy and Lava Girl. This led to more squealing and splashing.

Thank goodness I have an iPod.

We ended the day with Popsicles.
Of course.

Have I mentioned that
I really love summer?


Saturday, May 30, 2009

What's For Dinner?

It's my first week of summer vacation.
The end of harried cooking sessions...
at least for a while.

This is what's making my mouth
water this week:

Sunday: grilled flank steak, German potato salad, fresh corn on the cob & green beans

Monday: shrimp with garlic and artichokes, whole wheat pasta, green peas, cherry tomatoes

Tuesday: spinach-chicken quesadillas, black beans, fresh tomato and avocado salad

Wednesday: Girl's Night Out

Thursday: left-overs

Friday: margherita pizza

Saturday: hamburgers, oven fries

I am going to bake a batch of those cookies Angry Chicken has posted right now. Although, I am going to change the name to Stick and Twig Cookies. My not-so-health-nut friends will appreciate the new moniker.

I found a site called Mixing Bowl Kids that has a lot of kid-friendly yet healthy meal ideas. They have suggestions for sack lunches, desserts, after-school snacks, and more. The food isn't the typical chicken nuggets and macaroni & cheese. It was the inspiration behind the spinach-chicken quesadillas.

I hope your summer is off to a tasty start...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Taste of Summer, Part Two

This meal made me think I had died and gone to Summer Food Heaven. It was fresh, simple, quick, and most importantly delicious. It wasn't me. No real culinary skills were required to get this one on the table. The food spoke for itself.

I mixed up a batch of the Whole Wheat Shiner Quick Bread.

While the meat and veggies were cooking on the grill, I threw some spinach, almonds, and dried berries in a large bowl.

I made a very easy warm balsamic dressing
added bacon and garlic for extra flavor.

Mix and top with some goat cheese.

By this time the grilled chicken and vegetables were done.

And fresh-from-the-oven bread was ready
to be sliced and buttered.

Oh...and for dessert. Fresh raspberries.

Could it be more simple?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Daily Ritual...and a Question

I know. Not that original. But it is a daily ritual none the less. I bring in the mail most days. I love our old mail slot.

I can even check it from the inside, if I so desire. How cute is that?

I am an optimist when it comes to checking the post. I hold out hope for an actual piece of mail. Not a bill, or offer for better cell phone service, but a real letter. I would settle for a postcard.

A real piece of mail was delivered to my house about a month ago. A friend from high school, found through the magic of facebook, sent me a hand written card from Wales. Wow. Not only was it real mail, but it was real international mail. Score.

There was no letter from some far away land in the slot today. But there were a couple of goodies sandwiched between the Church's Chicken coupons and Food Town flier.

We have the newest issue of Atomic Ranch. Oh, how I love that magazine. Cover to cover inspiration. I will admit to having a secret fantasy where the editors call and want to feature my home for a photo spread. I think that's why I always have to wipe down the bathroom counters and make the just never know.

And if that were not enough, there was this. The newest JoAnn's sale flier. It's like getting a holiday "wish book" every few weeks.

I consider that a very good haul at the mail slot.

Now, I have a question to pose: How does one go about getting rid of a "temporary" tattoo? The temporary is in quotes for a reason. These things won't go away.

A few weeks ago The Boy practiced his skills on The Girl. A lot of practice.

To be fair, she asked him to do this. She said she wanted to have tattoos like Mommy. I knew my ink would come back to haunt me. Mind you, I don't have near this many. But I won't argue that point with a three year old.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. Preferably no caustic chemicals. Although, I am now wondering exactly what is in this ink to make it last this long. I mean, I do bathe my children. And yet they remain.

It isn't cute anymore. It now looks trashy. And I am tired of getting those looks from other mothers in Target. For the record: I don't knowingly let my children cover themselves in pirate tattoos.

It just sort of happened. Britney Spears moment #147.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Taste of Summer, Part One

I love the tastes of summer: Fresh vegetables. Ripe fruit. Grilled meat. I love how pure everything tastes. I appreciate the simplicity.

If you are anything like me, then you are always searching for those meals that are quick, healthy, won't break the bank, and ones that the whole family will enjoy. Let me introduce you to fish tacos...

This meal is all that. Quick. Easy. Tasty. Healthy. Cheap. Family-friendly. Good for left-overs.

Marinate fish in some lime, salt & pepper, and a little olive oil. I used tilapia...very budget friendly.
Broil or grill until done.

Add some:

Shredded cabbage.



Chipotle cream:
Mix some plain yogurt with a little mayo.
Add a heaping spoon of mashed chipotle pepper in adobo sauce.
I like it spicy.

Layer and wrap in a warm corn tortilla.

Serve with a side of black beans.

Even if you think you don't like fish tacos,

this is worth a try.

Let me know what your taste buds think...

***I used Ellie Krieger's recipe as inspiration ***

Monday, May 25, 2009

Long Weekends Are Nice...

sky blue sky

bare feet in grass

putting off laundry

getting lost in facebook

playing in puddles

taking a nap

smelling dinner on the grill next door

watching the game

remembering those braver than me

Here's to long weekends...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What's For Dinner?

This will be a crazy week in the Senske house. The last week of school is always a hectic time for teachers. I am relying on some old favorites for supper this week...

Sunday: fish tacos w/ chipotle cream, black beans

Monday: grilled chicken with rosemary, asparagus, spinach salad with warm bacon dressing & goat cheese, whole wheat quick bread

Tuesday: flank steak marinated in beer and lime, guacamole, fresh tomatoes, black beans

Wednesday: The Mexican Skillet Dish, zucchini, whole wheat tortillas

Thursday: left-overs

Friday: tuna salad sandwiches, salad

Saturday: hamburgers, oven fries

You can find information about the items highlighted in orange here, here, and here.

I still haven't made that cherry cobbler...and it won't happen this week. We will make do with Popsicles and Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches for sweet treats this week.

Happy Noshing!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Tunic

I don't know what made me start a project the night before The Boy's birthday party. But that's just what I did.

Maybe it was the allure of the "One Hour Pattern" description printed on the envelope. Maybe it was the fact that I had all materials on hand. I had been wanting to make something for me to wear for a while. And tunics are a personal favorite. The perfect blend of retro and bohemian.

I used this pattern: Butterick 5211. View C. The green material is broadcloth. It was fairly thin and had some drape. The sleeves are made with some cotton fabric found in the remnant bin.

This is actually the first pattern that I modified. Granted, the modifications are pretty simple. I shortened it from the dress length shown to a more appropriate tunic length. I also added a band of material at the bottom to match the sleeves. It was that missing piece of the puzzle.

The back closes with a piece of hair elastic (another mod) and a button to match. I think it ties the contrasting fabric to the green really well. And it was zippers!

I am sure there are those of you out there that could complete this in an hour. I am not one of them. But I can see it going much faster next time.

And there just might be a next time.

View A might be cool to have as well...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Daily Ritual

Curious Bird has started a new flickr group here entitled "Daily Ritual". It is a collection of the little things that we do each day. Acts that appear insignificant, but if they were not completed our day just wouldn't be right.

This is the first daily ritual that came to my mind. My Dr. Pepper. This has been my morning coffee of sorts for as long as I was old enough to consume soda first thing in the morning.

Really, it's not a good habit to get into. But I am in neck deep and not willing to change. I am totally and hopelessly dedicated.

What daily ritual are you most dedicated to?

Monday, May 18, 2009

So Good, I Have To Share

OK. It's official. This is my favorite soup. Period. So I am sharing. It isn't my recipe. It is from the Ellie Krieger cookbook where so many tasty meals are found.

Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

4 tsp. olive oil
8 oz. chicken breasts, cut into small chunks
salt to taste
1 med. onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 tsp. thyme
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup orzo, whole wheat if possible
2 large eggs
3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
pepper to taste

Heat oil in a soup pot.
Add chicken and season with salt.
Cook through, transfer to a dish, and set aside.

Add remaining oil to pot. Add onion, celery, carrot, and thyme. Cook until vegetables are tender. Add 5 cups of the broth and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to simmer.

Warm the remaining cup of broth until it is hot but not boiling. In a medium bowl beat the eggs. Gradually add the lemon juice while whisking. Add the hot broth to the egg mix and continue to whisk. Add the egg-broth mixture to the soup, stirring well until the soup has thickened. Do not let the soup come to a boil or the egg will cook. Add chicken to pot. Season with salt and pepper.

I love her description of this soup: "It's kind of like the girl-next-door chicken noodle soup that's traveled abroad and returned with an intriguing flair." So true.

I was going to make some bread to go with the soup from THE bread book, but forgot to mix the dough. So I found a recipe for a whole wheat quick bread. I wish I could give credit where credit is due...but I don't know how I stumbled upon it. It was somewhere in the link-maze that we often travel. So I will give credit by saying it's not mine. This is so easy it should be a sin...

Whole Wheat Shiner Quick Bread

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. baking powder
12 oz. bottle of Shiner beer (or your fave)
2 oz. water

Preheat the oven to 375*. Grease a loaf pan. Mix the dry ingredients. Gradually add the beer and water. Mix together. Pour batter into pan. Bake 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Then cool on a wire rack.


***I wasn't sure about posting a recipe from a cookbook that I hadn't altered in a significant way. I decided to go ahead and share after finding Ellie's recipe published online via cooking magazines and websites.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Party On, Dude

Yesterday we celebrated The Boy's birthday. This year we opted to party at the slot car track.

Some background: My boys are obsessed with slot cars. They race them with other boys, both old and young, every Friday night. I have a slot car track in my garage. If there is ever a flood I can float away on a barge.

We don't do the kind of parties where you invite the whole class. The Boy invites a few of his best buddies. A lot less stress for Mom and more fun for the ones partying.

So there was racing. Boys and cars...always a good match.

The Girl even participated in the racing action.

Of course there was cake. I make the kids' cakes. That way I know what's in it. This is a non-hydrogenated birthday treat free of high fructose corn syrup, shortening, and red dye #whatever. It isn't the prettiest cake on the block. Ace of Cakes I'm not. Hopefully it won't be seen on Cake Wrecks.

The Birthday Song was sung. Candles were lit. Wishes made. Candles blown-out. Cake cut. Cake eaten.

The birthday boy approved. And just when all involved were sufficiently hopped-up on sugar, it was time to call it a day.

Until next year...