Wednesday, September 29, 2010

the one about football

This fall, Quayd decided to play tackle football. We started practice a couple weeks before school started and it has been a little more than any of us bargained for! We practice for two hours Monday-Thursday and games one night a week and every Saturday. Quayd is on the Broncos (woo hoo!) and they are doing AWESOME. They are the number 2 team in the league and we are so proud! It has been a little hard to watch my baby boy play such a tough sport, but I have enjoyed it and I have actually learned the game!!! (Something Brett has been trying to teach me for YEARS now!) Not only have I learned the game, but I am starting to LOVE the game! Who knew?

Yesterday morning, Quayd had a dentist appointment. When he was finished he earned a token to use in the little prize machine. I was paying at the desk while he chose his prize. We got to the car and he was so excited to show me what he got... A FAKE MUSTACHE! It is so funny, and SO Quayd. He put it on right then and wore it all day. He even insisted he wear it to his game. He said that nobody on the other team would want to tackle a tough kid with a big old mustache!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

the one about my dinner group

I recently joined a dinner swap group. I must say, it has been one of the best things in the world for my family. It is a pretty simple concept.... I cook dinner one night a week for 3 other families. I get food delivered to my house 3 other nights. It is amazing! This is actually the second time I have been involved in a dinner group and I have loved it both times.

I love to cook and I feel like I am a pretty good at it. My problem is that I have a busy family and simply don't have time to fix an elaborate sit-down dinner each night. With my dinner group, I don't have all of the hassle of cooking and cleaning up every night, but I get the benefits of a delicious meal.

The first time I was involved in a group, we all pitched in and got nice dishes to pass around. For 4 families, we bought 6 sets of dishes. (One set of dishes included 1- 13x9 casserole dish, 1- 8x8 dish, and 2- glad ware rectangular containers) When we started, the Monday night cook had 3 sets of dishes. Tuesday night cook started with 2 sets and the Wednesday night cook started with one. Thursday night cook had zero to start. On Monday, the cook delivered 1 full set to each family (even if all dishes were not used) and used her own dishes to cook for her family. On Tuesday, with the set of dishes delivered the night before, the cook has 3 sets of dishes to deliver her food. At this point, the Wednesday cook has received another set, and so has the Thursday cook. By the time it is your turn to cook, you should have 3 complete sets of dishes to pass around. Does that make sense?

My current group does the dishes thing a little differently. We just use the disposable dishes from the dollar store. Whenever you cook, you buy whatever dishes you need. Personally, I like having the real dishes better than the cheap throw away dishes.It cost a little more up front, but was worth it in the end.

I found this GREAT website that will answer all of your questions about starting a dinner swap group. They explain things FAR better than I do!!

I have to say, my favorite thing about being involved in a dinner swap group is the time it saves during the week for me to be with my family. We sit down together and eat dinner as a family at the table nearly every night! I usually set the table, which I didn't always do before. I am not as stressed about "slaving" in the kitchen all night every night, so we actually ENJOY our time together in the evenings. I also love the fact that I work extra hard to prepare a nice meal on my night because I know I am feeding more people. Sometimes we get too comfortable and forget to take care of the ones that mean the most to us, so this type of cooking reminds me to do that. Plus, I know that every other night, the cook is doing the same thing for her family.

I am not even kidding... this has been a WONDERFUL thing for my family!!!

This is a sample menu and recipes from each one of us in my group. "A week in the life of Mandy, Cara, RayDean and Aubrey." :)

Turkey Pot Pie (On Monday, from Me)
1 (15-ounce) package pie crusts
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
3 cups cooked, cubed JENNIE-O TURKEY STORE® Turkey Roast
2 cups mixed vegetables

Heat oven to 425°F. Place pie crust in 9-inch pie pan. In medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in broth and milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in turkey and vegetables; remove from heat. Spoon turkey filling over crust. Place second crust over filling; flute edge. Cut slits in several places. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Chicken Zucchini Bake (on Tuesday night, from Cara)
2 (8 ounce) cans refrigerated crescent rolls
2 tablespoons honey Dijon mustard
4 cups sliced zucchini
1 large onion, sliced
1/4 cup butter
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast meat
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (8 ounce) package shredded mozzarella cheese

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.Open the cans of crescent rolls, unroll the dough, and place the dough into the bottom of an 11x15-inch baking pan. Do not separate the rolls. Press the edges of the dough up the sides of the pan to make a shallow crust. Spread the honey mustard over the dough.
3.Place the zucchini and a few tablespoons of water into a saucepan over medium heat, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook the zucchini until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and set the zucchini aside. Place the onion in a large skillet with butter over medium heat, and cook and stir until the onion is translucent, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir the cooked zucchini and chicken into the onion, and mix well. Let the mixture heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spread the zucchini mixture in an even layer over the crust.
4.In a bowl, beat the eggs with salt, black pepper, basil, oregano, and garlic powder; pour the egg mixture over the zucchini. Sprinkle the cheese over the top.
5.Bake in the preheated oven until the egg mixture is set and the cheese is browned and bubbling, about 20 minutes.

Lasagna (on Wednesday, from RayDean)
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
12 lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1.In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
2.Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
3.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
4.To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
5.Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Stuffed Pork Chops (On Thursday, from Aubrey)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 thick cut pork chops
3 cups day-old bread cubes
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/3 cup water

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.In a skillet, heat the oil and brown the pork chops. Place the pork chops in a baking dish.
3.In a bowl, toss the bread cubes, melted butter, chicken broth, celery, onion, and poultry seasoning together. Put heaping mounds of the bread crumb mixture onto the pork chops.
4.Combine the cream of mushroom soup with the water, and pour this mixture over the stuffing and pork chops.
5.Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
6.Uncover and continue baking for 10 minutes longer or until juices run clear. The meat thermometer should read 160 to 170 degrees.