Cooking Tips

As I find them, I’ll share them.  My two favorite cooking tips that I use all the time are:

1. Wine.  Even if you don’t drink it, I suggest having a bottle of wine around to use while cooking.  My favorite is an inexpensive bottle of port.  (But I’ve used boxed wines and white wines) I add it mostly to anything sautéed and to meat while it is cooking.  It brings a very gourmet flavor to the dish. (And if you add it in the beginning, all the alcohol gets cooked out).

2. Sugar (or honey or agave). I always add sugar to anything with tomatoes (or similarly acidic).  It cuts that distinct tangy sensation and brings out the flavors.

Happy cooking!!

Posole Recipe

This is a favorite meal for dinner parties–I can prepare it ahead of time and it’s something unusual.  Oh and it’s super delicious!  I usually double this recipe and adjust the seasonings according to taste–I always adjust flavors in recipes.

Pork Posole

1 Onion chopped

1 Clove Garlic

2 lb Chopped Pork

2 TB Vegetable oil

Saute all together until meat is slightly browned.  Add to soup:

32 oz Chicken broth

1 tsp Chili

1 1/2 tsp Oregano

1 1/2 tsp Cumin

1 tsp Cardamom

1/2 Cup fresh cilantro

1 Bay leaf

1 32 oz can hominy

Bring all to boil.  Add meat. Simmer for 1 hour.  Garnish with fresh cilantro, shredded cheese (parmesan or cheddar) and serve with a hearty bread.

Weekly Menu 2/25-3/3

This week I was mostly inspired by Pinterest boards for my menu so I’ll include links to the recipes.

Monday–Frozen meal

Tuesday–Posole and bread

Wednesday–Beef Barely Soup

Thursday–Dinner with friends. Bringing this dessert.

Friday–Beef Stroganoff 

Saturday–Philly Cheese Steak Stuffed Peppers 

Sunday–Eat Out

Menu Planning

I began weekly menu planning lately and it’s working fabulously!  I used to think I had to make a fully homemade complex meal every night (and before having three children, I could).

But let’s be real here.  I don’t have the time or the energy by the end of the day to make everything from scratch so I meal plan accordingly.  Each week, I think about my limits and I am honest with myself and my husband.  I enjoy cooking so I don’t want to get burned out cooking a three course meal every night.

My weekly meal requirements go something like this: four to five meals made from scratch, one frozen dinner and one night eating out or ordering in.  Sometimes it works out for a night of leftovers or sandwiches but it depends on the week.  I figure if there are days when we are home all day I can make the meals that are better for my family on those nights–I won’t be stressed trying to get the kids somewhere for a class or shopping trip and I can get into my cooking zen early and have dinner prepared by a proper hour.  The kids also enjoy helping on those days.  But there are a few nights a week when dinner needs to be on the table quickly–that’s when we order out or I pop in a frozen dinner.

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To make a menu board, get a nice picture frame and put wrapping paper inside. Use dry erase markers on the outside of the frame.

Each Sunday evening I sit down and come up with recipes that seem interesting for the week.  I make my shopping list, I write our weekly menu on our board and I get all the supplies needed for the week the next morning. The menu board has been essential–everyone knows what to expect for the evening meal and I am reminded of when I need to start preparation.

I’ll be sharing my weekly menus here on the blog–perhaps you can find some inspiration from it. I get a lot of my meal ideas from places like pinterest, blogs, cook books and websites.  Cheers!

Fashion: Maxi Skirts

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When I was young and dancing all the time, I could say I was fashionable.  I made sure I stayed feminine and classy.  But as I grew older and had to put my “teeny bopper” style behind me, I found it really difficult to develop a style for myself.  (It’s a work in progress.)

But recently I discovered maxi skirts.  I’ve been wanting one for a while and just never jumped on the bandwagon until now. Do you have one? Do you love it? I am completely hooked.  The motherhood image of wearing sweatpants all day can be erased from history thanks to maxi skirts!  They are incredibly comfortable, warm and stylish.  I’m in love.

For really cute skirts, I recommend these sites (the first two are earth friendly and mainly organic):

Hip Mountain Mama

Soul Flower

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Keeping It Real With Older Kids

My oldest kid is eight now… going on 9… going on 20… It’s a bit of a debacle as we figure out how to raise his sassy little big self.  I think the tween years start now.

In the past week I’ve completely embarrassed him (this is new), had the door shut in my face for telling him to be happy while skipping around with a silly grin on my face, and watched him pack his bags while saying he was going to run away from home.  Other than a recent move, not much has changed around here… except his personality which is growing at a rapid rate.  He bosses his little sister around talking like an adult.  Thinks he knows quite a lot about things.  And I’m sure he would be perfectly happy to not have a mom and dad on certain days (or two annoying sisters).

While I have been able to laugh inwardly at his awkward growth and understand that he is nearing a new and very long phase of adolescents, I’ve been trying to come up with effective (and nondestructive) strategies to discipline and to simply get  him to listen to me at all.  Something I’m finding that has been working well, thus far, is finding something to relate to him when in either conversation or augment.

For example, this afternoon we were finishing up schooling and it was time to clean.  He had been banished to his room for waking up the baby by pounding ice with a hammer outside of her room (these are desperate times–baby nap time is precious!) so he was already grumpy with me.  When he came out, I told him it was time to straighten up the house for the evening and he grumbled under his breath that he would rather be in time out.  Now, I have an advantage here because his Karate class is tonight.  So I told him the class was at stake.  That seemed to make him more interested in following instructions but not pleasantly.  So I put it in other terms.  “You say you don’t want to clean, and well, I don’t want to take you to karate.  So how about you don’t clean and I won’t take you to karate and we will both be happy!” I said with a calm smile.  “But I want to go to karate!!” He whimpered, looking a little more worried now.  And a little more understanding.  I explained that we don’t always get to do what we want to do when we want to do it and sometimes we have to do something we don’t want to do in order to do what we do want to do. (Whew! I’ve never said “do” so many times!) It clicked.  He cleaned what I asked him to clean with a pleasant attitude and the day moved forward.

It’s all a learning curve.  Parenting is anything but stagnate and I have to learn how to keep up with these changing times.  I am finding it easier to relate to my children as they get older.  I’m looking forward to having deeper conversations and helping them into adulthood as best as I can.

Waldorf Nature Table Meets Orthodox Icon Table

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As I have said before, I adore “Waldorfian ideologies” but I do like to incorporate our Orthodox Christian faith into the mix as well.  The concept of the Waldorf nature table is absolutely precious–what a sweet way to settle your children into the idea of seasons and celebrations.  (Here is a good explanation of the nature table concept.)

Something that I love about Children’s Garden of the Theotokos is that they use the idea of the nature table as a basis for the family icon table.  Instead of having the table scarf be of a seasonal color, it is of a liturgical color coinciding with the church calendar.  We have placed winter branches on the table as well as some candles and the icons of Christ and the Theotokos.  (Candles are a great way to instill a feeling of reverence for children making an event rhythmical and special–they can be used during prayers or on the dining table during meals etc signifying a time when they are to act with respect and good behavior.)

And so our family icon table meets nature table to create a special place signifying a season or celebration where the family can gather together throughout the day.