Seven quick wedding-related takes
Fruits and kitties

Feeding your family, at least, the ones who are willing to eat

Jack is being weird. I mean, he's always been a Sensitive Little Thing, but his prima donna tendencies are increasing big time. We thought this had to do with taking away his full time maid/playmate/defender of annoying behavior aka Las Vegas Trip Grandma, but that was over two weeks ago. He hasn't had a meltdown of the sort we suffered en route to Lucy's birthday party the day after we got home (did I even TELL you about that? OMG) but he's been twice as ornery, picky and all around irritable as he was before. He's also stopped eating, which prompted me to chalk it up to teeth. But then, eating has never been Jack's bag anyway. He is uninterested in anything that is not a Simple Carbohydrate (the more sugar the better!) and I three-times-daily opt for What He Will Eat over What Is Nutritious. I know, I know, but I CANNOT DEAL.

We even had to have him CRY IT OUT the other night. The boy is TWO AND ALMOST A HALF. He has been sleeping through the night like a good boy for quite a while now, so this Instant Freak Out we're receiving when we deign to put him in his bed at night is unacceptable. And because Molly is sharing his room, we're sort of at his mercy. He stands up in bed and starts "Eh! Eh! Eh!" and if we don't do anything about it he just gets louder and more upset until we have two kids who shouldn't be awake. He wants to be held, or for me/Phillip to sit in the chair while he peacefully drifts off in his crib. Well, no. That is not okay. And the first night he did this I was on my own, I'd had a long crappy day and I finally had to throw him into my bedroom and shut the door on his howls so I could dial back the The Rage. (And oh, that is a post for another day, a nice sunny fictional day when I am not scared of The Comments.)

The next night we put Molly in the pack and play downstairs (poor Molly) and decided he would cry. Fine. And we left him there and the crying moved into that realm of "Do you think he's going to throw up?" and then we heard a big THUMP. We ran into his room and found him on the floor - the first time he has EVER found his way out of the crib, and, we think, so he could retrieve the blanket he threw out in one of his Fits of Sleep Is For Sissies. He sobbed and shrieked and Phillip asked him if he wanted a drink of water and, poof! A sweet little voice said, "Yes pweez." So we KNEW the crying wasn't REAL crying it was MANIPULATIVE and PISSED OFF crying and ooooh we were furious. We ordered him back to his cell after the drink of water and he was quiet, but we think only because the fall out of his crib stunned him as much as it stunned us.

It could still be teeth. He has big empty spots way back in his gums. I know those aren't supposed to be empty forever. I imagine it's not a fun time, having hard pointy things erupting through a tender spot. It could also be Two. It's probably a combination thereof. Either way it's not going well, and I'm starting to feel guilty for being so over the moon with my almost-one-year-old and so consistently frustrated with my almost two-and-a-half-year-old.

But I did not sit down to tell you all that. Look how distracted I get. Actually I really just wanted to know what you are eating for dinner tonight. 

I'm always embarrassed to tell people what we eat, because most of my friends are actually decent cooks who like to eat vegetables and buy quality stuff. Most of what we eat in my house comes out of giant bags in the Costco freezer section. I top whatever that is with cheese and call it good. (Well, actually, we usually just buy giant bags of chicken and fish at Costco and then sit uncertainly in front of allrecipes.com trying to figure out what to do with the chicken and fish.)

But this Weight Watchers thing has really broadened the scope of what I can make for dinner. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to try it out - I didn't want my family to be on the low carb diet forever. I also wanted to test it as a way to maintain the weight I've lost (although I started losing again, provided I don't eat anywhere outside of my own house, and this is yet ANOTHER post in and of itself, I am so CONFLICTED) but anyway. I still don't know what is acceptable to eat for lunch, but dinner time is so much easier. That Cooking Light subscription is finally doing me some good.

However! I'm still stuck in a Dinner Rut, mostly because a lot of these new recipes are intimidating. Or I am picky. Or I don't have a slow cooker. Or I don't want to spend an hour in the kitchen. It was funny that I was just sitting down to brainstorm our weekly menu (see: last week's menu, and the week before that, and the week before that) when Liz got online asking me what dinners *I* was going to make. Apparently I am not the only one in a rut. Maybe you are too?

So here's something I make almost once a week, because it's quick, easy, everyone likes it (EVEN JACK) and makes enough for Phillip to take to work the next day:

Cook up some low-carb penne pasta. (I like the Dreamfields brand. In a black box.)

Saute 1 diced onion and 1 clove chopped garlic. Add 1 (15oz?) can diced tomatoes, 1T basil, 1/4t oregano, 3/4t sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to boil, boil until pretty much all the liquid from the tomatoes evaporates. Stir in 1/2C cream and 1T butter. Simmer 5 min. Pour over pasta.

We usually eat that with some kind of sausage on the side and a salad. Sometimes I add bacon because bacon makes everything better. (Now the WW people are horrified, but the low carbers will like it!) And now that I'm looking at the recipe, I realize I almost always forget to add the sugar and the butter. And I almost always leave out the onion because I am four. Oh, and this makes enough sauce for about half a box of pasta. I usually boil the whole thing and keep the rest in the fridge for kid dinners/lunches later on in the week.

Okay, I shared my boring but easy weeknight dinner, now share yours. Bonus points for no cheese. OH CHEESE, HOW I MISS YOU.

Comments

janey

Sara ate one bite of dinner then proceeded to start tossing the rest on the floor tonight. So, I ended dinner right there. But, in my parently wisdom, I gave her a popsicle before bed, because I don't feel well either, and that's what I wanted for dinner. It apparently was what she wanted, too. I don't know anything about the WW rules, but here is one of mine and Sara's favorite quick dinners (Luke, however, won't touch it)--black bean and yam burritos. Saute a little onion with bite sized pieces of yam until the yam is cooked through (about 10 min). Add cumin and a dash of cinnamon to taste. Dump in as many black beans as you think looks good and continue cooking until everything is hot. Serve in mediterranean flat bread or tortillas. Sprinkle with feta or goat cheese (or other cheese of choice) if you like.

Carrie

Here's my boring/easy dinner: call husband at work. Tell him we're getting sushi for dinner. Call the sushi restaurant across the street and place order. Husband comes home with $25 of cheap sushi, toddler who rejected peanut butter and soup and chicken will happily eat tamago and california rolls and EEL!! and all is well. Mommy eats salmon and spicy tuna rolls and is happy too.

Dr. Maureen

FIRST of all, go buy a slow cooker IMMEDIATELY. You can make dinner in the morning when you have energy (that's when *I'm* most productive, post-kids), and then at 4:00, just when you start thinking, "Oh, shoot, what am I going to make for dinner?" you then get to realize, "WAIT! I ALREADY MADE IT!" And it's awesome.

Then, after you buy a slow cooker, you can use it to make the lentil soup recipe I'm going to give you. It's from a home-made baby food book.

But I just realized Peep is just about done, so I'm out of computer time for the moment. I promise I will give you the recipe though.

Amy J

In my rotation is:
Turkey Burger tacos
Pasta with chicken sausage, peppers, onion, tomato sauce
French Dip sandwiches
Omelets
Grilled, well everything

Jess

I feel like it has been forever since we've cooked, because in the summer we pretty much grill dinner every night. However, reaching back into my memory of last winter, there is a Weight Watchers recipe for salmon dill risotto that is really easy. You basically throw everything into the pot and wait for it to be done. In fact, I posted the recipe back when I was maintaining a recipes blog: http://duwaxloolurecipes.blogspot.com/2008/12/old-favorite-havarti-dill-smoked-salmon.html

Jen

The best chicken ever: http://jenniferelaineg.blogspot.com/2008/08/best-chicken-ever.html And easy! I make it a lot. The marinade works for other things too, I've done pork, vegetables, and fish in it.

Lisa

There is a tomato allergy in my house, so we almost never eat pasta. We have a freezer full of pork (we bought another whole pig at slaughter), so we usually have something of the pork variety plus veggies. I get all my recipes online.

As for Jack, I'm sorry to say, but this may be the beginning of the end of the crib for you. Here's one place where I can provide expertise even though my kid is six months younger. She's an Amazon and started climbing in and out of her crib at 15 months. She was shocked after that first fall out of the crib, but she quickly got bolder. She, too, was going to sleep on her own in her crib until this. After weeks of trying in vain to get her to fall asleep in her crib and finally resorting to the ROCKER again, we removed the crib and put her in her big bed. She sleeps very well now, but I still have to sit on the edge of her bed until she falls asleep or she'll just get up and follow me out of the room. I figure she'll grow out of it eventually and have just resigned myself to the fact that this is the way things are for now. Sorry I don't have better news.

Liz

Ditto what Doc Maureen said. Once a week it's SO NICE to throw meat/veggies/soup stuff into a crock pot. And I love my subscription to Cooking Light - Every week we'd go through and see what looks easy/quick/fun and add that into that week's rotation. Aaaand, I don't do that anymore... Hm. Should reinstate that practice.

Corey

We had that night you described for 2.5 years while my daughter went through her sleep issues. It varied from time to time and she actually chipped a tooth on her crib rail (at which point we removed it). Anyway I know that probably doesn't help you. We do now have a happy, healthy, well adjusted 8 year old if that's any light at the end of the tunnel for you!

Christiana

The food that the Fuss will always eat is spaghetti - I make it w/ italian sausage (sometimes turkey, sometimes pork - depends on my mood or what's on sale). But my speciality simple yummy meal is chopped red, green peppers, mushrooms, (sometimes a little onion, but probably not) and chicken chunks. Saute all that together with a bunch of Italian spices, garlic (sometimes I use chili pepper and cajun spices - we like spicy stuff), etc. Then toss in spaghetti sauce (I like the extra chunky mushroom Ragu or the Hunts-in-a-can varieties) and let simmer. You can serve over rice or pasta if you want, or not for a low-carb option. You can top with a small amount of shredded cheese or not. I especially like it with garlic bread.

My other fave is chicken mushroom casserole. 4 chicken breasts, boiled and chopped to bite size or shredded. 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup 8-10 oz of sour cream and 8 oz of fresh mushrooms. Miz it all together with some thyme, garlic powder, italian spices. Put in a casserole dish and crush Ritz crackers on the top. Back at 350 for 20-25 minutes (until the edges boil). Serve plain or over brown rice. Makes excellent leftovers for lunches.

Lori

These are quick and easy and extremely budget friendly.
1. Four boneless skinless chicken breasts. Top with 1 16 oz. can of stewed tomatoes with italian seasoning. Bake for 45 minutes in 350 degree oven. Top with sliced or shredded mozzerella cheese and put back in the oven until the cheese is melted.
2. Combine 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, garlic/onion salt to taste. Take four boneless skinless chicken breasts. Dip each chicken breast in Zesty italian dressing and then in the breadcrumb mixture. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Yum!
3. Brown 1 lb hamburger (with onion if you have it). Add 1 can Tomato Soup and 1 can Green Beans. Put in the bottom of a casserole dish. Top the hamburger mixture with enough mashed potatoes to cover (I make mine from scratch with 4 nice sized potatos). Bake in the oven at 350 for about 25 minutes until it is heated through. You can top the potatoes with a little cheddar cheese if you want.
I hope you find something that Jack likes to eat.

Becky aka StinkyLemsky

The hubs and I recently tried a Cooking Light recipe that was Delicious!! So easy too. We bought tuna steaks from Sam's Club and made Tuna steaks with pineapple salsa. Each night we would take 2 defrosted tuna steaks out of the fridge, throw on some olive oil, salt, and pepper and throw in a skilled for 2 minutes on each side. SO easy and SO tastey. The first night took a little longer because we made the salsa, but then each night after that was super easy and we had freshly grilled tuna steak instead of microwaved (in less time than it takes to order pizza).

If you're interested, here's the recipe (we didn't use the marinade after the first night - the steaks didn't need it).
http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1911390

Tara

My sleep deprived brain is having a difficult time coming up with a cheeseless meal. We are cheesatarians over here. But I think I'll try your pasta sauce! That sounds yummy.

Oooooh climbing out of the crib. That's a fun one. ;-) Hope the molars make an appearance soon.

Kristen

Stumbled upon your blog today and felt like I was reading my own diary! I have no recipes for you as I usually defrost and coat in cheese as well. I have been trying to low carb it lately which doesnt work with a 2.5 year old. Our son is the same age and has been a nightmare. He says his teeth dont hurt but I find myself banging my head off the damn wall many many times a day. I hoping the planets align soon!

Ellen W

I agree with the above posters - get a crock pot. It gives me such a sense of satisfaction to have dinner ready by 10 in the morning. My older son who is 3 1/2, was a very picky eater until a few months ago so hang in there. Dinner can still be a challenge as he will chew and chew, but not swallow his food and eat very slowly. He still has his quirks like not wanting to eat corn (who doesn't like corn?) but eats "palm trees" aka brocoli without any issues.

janey

My dinner tonight made me feel the need to comment a second time. First, get thee to Trader Joes. Purchase gyozas (whatever flavor you like) and teriyaki sauce. Dump these into a pan and cook. Serve with rice, which can be made into coconut rice by simply replacing half the water with coconut milk. Done.

The comments to this entry are closed.