Sunday, October 25, 2009

meal plan monday

October 26 – November 1

Breakfast: pumpkin spiced oatmeal
Lunch: soup and sandwiches
Dinner: homemade pizza, salad

Breakfast: eggs in a nest, smoothies
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: $20 hot dogs at the Rose Garden

Breakfast: cereal, fruit
Lunch: sandwiches, salad
Dinner: out

Breakfast: eggs, toast
Lunch: out
Dinner: tacos, Mexican chopped salad

Breakfast: eggs, toast, bacon
Lunch: soup, sandwiches
Dinner: beer and cheese fondue with bread and veggies for dipping

Breakfast: spiced pumpkin waffles, bacon, fruit
Lunch: out
Dinner: baked macaroni and cheese, broccoli, salad

Breakfast: coffee cake, fruit
Lunch: tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches
Dinner: lentil and brown rice soup, salad

Whole wheat bread, granola bars, cookies

Monday, October 19, 2009

two little pumpkins

We had a fun day at the pumpkin patch at Lee Farms last weekend. The weather was gorgeous, the pumpkin selection was great, and there was a lot to do and see besides pumpkin picking. The girls had fun petting some baby chicks (and even Joel thought they were cute! Maybe this means I'll get my chickens after all?!) and ooing and ahing over two newborn calves. Seriously, there is nothing cuter than fluffy chicks and baby cows who can't even open their eyes yet. Too bad I was too busy oohing and ahing myself to take pictures of them! I did get a few shots of Ava and Emily and their search for the perfect pumpkin:

meal plan monday

October 19 – October 25

Breakfast: cereal, fruit
Lunch: sandwiches, salad
Dinner: white bean chicken chili, cornbread

Breakfast: pumpkin oatmeal
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: out

Breakfast: eggs in a nest, smoothies
Lunch: soup, salad
Dinner: lamb and green bean casserole, homemade bread

Breakfast: pumpkin muffins, smoothies
Lunch: English muffin pizzas, fruit and veggies
Dinner: ultimate beef nachos, salad

Breakfast: oatmeal, fruit
Lunch: soup, sandwiches
Dinner: Indonesian chicken, brown rice, Chinese broccoli

Breakfast: pumpkin pancakes, sausages,
Lunch: leftovers or out
Dinner: cheeseburger pasta, veggies, fruit

Breakfast: French toast, pumpkin apple butter
Lunch: loaded baked potatoes, salad
Dinner: cheddar baked chicken, roasted cauliflower

Whole wheat bread, brown rice pudding

Sunday, October 18, 2009

adventures in homeschooling

No, we haven't disappeared off the face of the earth. It's been a crazy week! 3 birthday parties, hosting our homeschool co-op, play dates, ballet, soccer, movement class, and just general hanging out. Here are some pictures from the learning activities we did this week:

We worked on fine motor skills by building with mini marshmallows and toothpicks. I was surprised at how few marshmallows the girls ate:

For math, we did a lot of graphing games. Here, we graphed the color of the leaves that we collected in our front yard. We used our bears for counters, but you could use anything small - beads, cheerios, buttons...:

We worked on a lapbook on the months of the year. This is one of the mini books, which had a matching activity:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

light a candle

Tomorrow (October 15) is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day.

1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, fetal demise (second trimester), or still birth (third trimester). Chances are, you know at least one person who has experienced at least one loss (well, hey, if you're reading this blog, you certainly do know someone).

It's difficult for someone who has never experienced a loss to understand the overwhelming grief that we go through. It's difficult for me to even put it into words. With Maxwell's due date only days away, surrounded by almost all of my friends who are in some stage of pregnancy, our lost children are calling to me even more.

So, tomorrow I'll light candles for them, and think of so many other women who share their heartache with me.

Monday, October 12, 2009

meal plan monday

October 12 – October 18

Breakfast: eggs, toast, fruit
Lunch: minestrone, homemade bread
Dinner: homemade pizza, salad, veggies for dipping

Breakfast: apple granola crisp, yogurt
Lunch: asian noodle soup
Dinner: Italian sausages and lentils, garlic roasted potatoes and broccoli

Breakfast: oatmeal, applesauce
Lunch: soup, grilled apple, turkey, and cheddar sandwiches
Dinner: penne with pumpkin and sausage, spinach salad

Breakfast: eggs in tomato, toast
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: baked chicken teriyaki, brown rice, steamed snow peas

Breakfast: oatmeal, fruit
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: creamy chicken enchiladas, Mexican chopped salad

Breakfast: biscuits and gravy, eggs
Lunch: soup, sandwiches, salad
Dinner: curried udon stir fry

Breakfast: pumpkin oatmeal
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: spiced pumpkin waffles, apple cider syrup, sausages

pumpkin shaped bread bowls, whole wheat bread, buffalo chicken dip for game day

Thursday, October 8, 2009

thursday randomness: the pumpkin edition

It's been a crazy week. I admit, I haven't even broken the camera out once (bad Mama!). Monday was a playdate, clothes shopping for Ava, groceries and other errands, and also Ava's ballet class. Tuesday was a babysitting co-op meeting, babysitting a girlfriend's two kids for the day, and dinner with the inlaws. Wednesday was Ava's homeschool co-op, then a meeting with the other moms afterward to discuss next month's curriculum, then an afternoon of bread baking followed by a potluck dinner with our MOMS Club. Oh, and add a trip to the gym every day. Needless to say, I've been in bed by 9 every night.

Today is a bit more relaxed...watching a friend's kids this morning, then school with Ava, then the gym. Tomorrow is another MOMS Club activity and more school with Ava. And probably more gym time. Why do I do this to myself? Simple - I would go absolutely insane if we stayed home all day, as would the girls. I could probably drop out of my babysitting co-op, but how would I get my me time during the week??

This morning, I made some pumpkin spice lattes in my little crock pot, using this recipe. Have I mentioned my love for the Crockpot Lady?? We've liked all of the recipes that I've tried from her site, and since they're crockpot recipes...they're super duper simple. I really need to start making one of her soups once a week so we can eat yummy soup all week for lunches.

Finally, I brought this yummy lasagna to my inlaws' on Tuesday night. It was pretty easy, and since it used the no-boil noodles, it came together in about 20 minutes. YUM!

Pumpkin Gorgonzola Lasagna

1 15 oz. can pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tsp minced fresh sage
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3 cups milk
3 tbsp all purpose flour
3 tbsp butter
1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lbs sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
salt and pepper, to taste
1 box oven ready lasagna noodles
freshly grated parmagiano reggiano cheese
1/8 - 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
1) Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat with 2 tbsp oil. Add the sausage and cook until golden brown, breaking up the meat as it cooks with a wooden spoon. Push the meat to one side and add the onion and garlic. Cook until onions are tender, being careful not to burn the garlic. Season everything in the pan with salt and pepper ( to taste). Set aside.

2) Meanwhile, in a medium-sized sauce pan, melt 3 tbsp of butter. Whisk in flour and cook for about a minute or so, whisking continuously until smooth. Whisk the milk in next, break up any clumps that might form. Bring the mixture to a slow bubble, and simmer for 2 -3 minutes until slightly thickened. Season with salt, pepper, sage, and nutmeg. Add Gorgonzola and stir until cheese is completely melted, 1 - 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

3) In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin and ricotta cheese.

To assemble lasagna, begin with 1 cup of sauce spread on the bottom of a 13 x 9 casserole dish. Layer three noodles over the sauce, top them with 1/3 the pumpkin mixture, 1 cup of the meat, and another cup of sauce. Repeat these layers two more times, topping the casserole with a layer of lasagna noodles. Spoon any remaining sauce over the top and (optional) you could sprinkle chopped walnuts and some freshly grated parmagiano reggiano cheese.

Cover with foil and bake until the sauce is bubbling and pasta is cooked through, about 45 minutes. If you choose to add the walnuts and/or the parmagiano reggiano cheese, after the first 45 minutes of baking, remove foil and brown the top (about 10 minutes).

Joel pointed out that this lasagna reminded him of this recipe, so I thought I'd post it's definitely going on the menu for next week. The only thing it's lacking is the Gorgonzola, but of course, it would be easy to add in.

Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage
Rachael Ray

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
4 cloves garlic, cracked and chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
4 to 6 sprigs sage leaves, cut into chiffonade, about 2 tablespoons
1 cup dry white wine (I suppose you could use more stock, but it would alter the taste significantly)
1 cup chicken stock, canned or paper container
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup (3 turns around the pan) heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, ground or freshly grated
Coarse salt and black pepper
1 pound penne rigate, cooked to al dente
Romano or Parmigiano, for grating

Heat a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and brown the sausage in it. Transfer sausage to paper towel lined plate. Drain fat from skillet and return pan to the stove. Add the remaining tablespoon oil, and then the garlic and onion. Saute 3 to 5 minutes until the onions are tender.
Add bay leaf, sage, and wine to the pan. Reduce wine by half, about 2 minutes. Add stock and pumpkin and stir to combine, stirring sauce until it comes to a bubble. Return sausage to pan, reduce heat, and stir in cream. Season the sauce with the cinnamon and nutmeg, and salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer mixture 5 to 10 minutes to thicken sauce.
Return drained pasta to the pot you cooked it in. Remove the bay leaf from sauce and pour the sausage pumpkin sauce over pasta. Combine sauce and pasta and toss over low heat for 1 minute. Garnish the pasta with lots of shaved cheese and sage leaves.

I'm not usually a fan of Rachael Ray's recipes, but this one is great (and fast too!).

See? Pumpkin can be used for many things besides desserts!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

meal plan monday

Weekly Menu
October 5 – October 11

Breakfast: pancakes, eggs
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: slow cooked white beans with tomato and basil, homemade bread, salad

Breakfast: cereal, fruit
Lunch: sandwiches, salad
Dinner: pumpkin gorgonzola lasagna, salad

Breakfast: spiced oatmeal
Lunch: sandwiches, salad
Dinner: potluck with friends

Breakfast: cream of wheat, homemade applesauce
Lunch: soup, grilled cheese sandwiches
Dinner: maple roasted pork loin, mashed sweet potatoes, sautéed broccolini

Breakfast: eggs in a nest, fruit
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Italian sausage soup with tortellini

Breakfast: waffles
Lunch: soup, sandwiches
Dinner: santa fe casserole, salad

Breakfast: pumpkin oatmeal
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Cincinnati chili over spaghetti, veggies for dipping

Broccoli casserole for potluck, honey oatmeal bread, pumpkin cranberry muffins

Friday, October 2, 2009

five things friday

5 things our family is currently in love with:

1) Nature walks. Ava and Emily both love collecting leaves, pine cones, twigs, and pebbles to turn into art. We've got a nature table in our entry way and their found objects go there.

2) Hullabaloo. This is such a great game, especially on rainy days. It's got two settings, simple instructions, and best of all, it's a game where you have to move! Fun for the whole family and great for playgroups and parties.

3) Nutella. You know, the chocolate-hazelnut spread. YUM. We found out that Ava isn't allergic to hazelnuts, so I've been letting the girls have this as a treat to spread on bananas or graham crackers. It also makes a mean Rice Crispy Treat. Nutella is made in a factory that only processes hazelnuts - great for someone with allergies!

4) Apples. We went to Oregon Heritage Farms last week and got a ton of apples for a great price. We canned apple-pumpkin butter, made apple prints, had an apple taste test, made apple-brie sandwiches (grilled, of course!), applesauce, and apple spice oatmeal.

5) Snacktime, by the Barenaked Ladies. I'm a big Barenaked Ladies fan, and I'm also a huge fan of kid music that's not annoying. We all love listening to this CD in the car. There are 24 tracks about all sorts of silly things, from frogs to vegetables to a fabulous version of the ABC song.

best. dinner. ever.

You simply have to make this! Gnocchi are one of those foods that kind of scared me (rather like bread used to scare me). The recipes are always long and seem too complicated. Why not just get the packaged gnocchi at Trader Joe's? Because homemade gnocchi are SO worth it! And they are so easy! True, there was some prep work (cook the sweet potato ahead of time, let it cool, drain the ricotta). But the actual hands on time was pretty minimal. It helped that I had a little helper to roll the gnocchi over the fork, but honestly, you could just skip that part if you wanted too.

I cut this recipe in half and it was perfect for the 4 of us, plus a little extra (which I reheated in a skillet on the stove). The girls gobbled these up.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage

Bon Appétit | December 2005

These dumplings have a light texture, thanks to the addition of fresh ricotta cheese. Drain the ricotta in a sieve for two hours before starting the recipe.

Yield: Makes 10 to 12 servings


2 1-pound red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), rinsed, patted dry, pierced all over with fork

1 12-ounce container fresh ricotta cheese, drained in sieve 2 hours 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 3/4 cups (about) all purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
6 tablespoons chopped fresh sage plus whole leaves for garnish


Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place sweet potatoes on plate; microwave on high until tender, about 5 minutes per side. Cut in half and cool. Scrape sweet potato flesh into medium bowl and mash; transfer 3 cups to large bowl. Add ricotta cheese; blend well. Add Parmesan cheese, brown sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and nutmeg; mash to blend. Mix in flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto floured surface; divide into 6 equal pieces. Rolling between palms and floured work surface, form each piece into 20-inch-long rope (about 1 inch in diameter), sprinkling with flour as needed if sticky. Cut each rope into 20 pieces. Roll each piece over tines of fork to indent. Transfer to baking sheet.

Bring large pot of water to boil; add 2 tablespoons salt and return to boil. Working in batches, boil gnocchi until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer gnocchi to clean rimmed baking sheet. Cool completely. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

Preheat oven to 300°F. Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until butter solids are brown and have toasty aroma, swirling pan occasionally, about 5 minutes.

Add chopped sage (mixture will bubble up). Turn off heat. Season sage butter generously with salt and pepper.

Transfer half of sage butter to large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add half of gnocchi. Sauté until gnocchi are heated through, about 6 minutes. Empty skillet onto rimmed baking sheet; place in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining sage butter and gnocchi.

Divide gnocchi and sauce among shallow bowls. Garnish with sage leaves.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

right now thursday

right now i'm:

eating: yummy lentil soup, bread fresh from the oven
watching: Emily squish each lentil before popping it into her mouth
listening to: Melody Gardot
hoping: that my fantasy football team kicks butt again this week
enjoying: long sleeves, fuzzy socks, and having the heat turned up
remembering: how the girls snuggled in bed with me all night last night
planning: our homeschool curriculum for next week
excited for: Joel to come home from his trip
procrastinating: folding the laundry
cooking: beans on the stove for tomorrow night's chili for our potluck playgroup