A track meet lasts for hours. HOURS. I suppose I understand. If FavoriteSon doesn’t rest between races, he tends to ralph. But what to feed a runner between races? Too much and again, ralph. Too little and they don’t perform as well. Then there’s getting him to eat something at all.
Here’s the scene: He runs a race (and wins, of course). I walk to the field with Gatorade or water. He waives me off and turns away. (Because it is NOT cool to talk to your mom at a middle school track meet.) His coach says, “Take the Gatorade, your mother knows what she’s doing.” (That’s RIGHT!)
After a few weeks of that nonsense, I explained to FavoriteSon: “When I walk out on that field and hand you a bottle of Gatorade, I’m invisible. Your friends don’t even see me. You know when they see me? When you waive me away and your coach calls you out in front of everyone.”
I continue, “Here’s what I’ll do – after a run, I’ll bring a small snack and drink to you on the field, hand it to you and walk away. No one will even notice me. Okay?
It worked out perfectly. After the first race, I walked out to the field, handed him half of a peeled navel orange and walked away. No eye contact necessary. Didn’t even interrupt his conversation. After his second race, I walked out with a banana and some Gatorade and he actually talked to me. I waited and took away the rest of the banana and the Gatorade bottle. I will not take that as a sign that it is now acceptable for me to interrupt him when he’s engaged in post-race conversation with his friends.
Last week, I packed us a dinner and brought an ice chest in an effort to stave off concession stand food. The big hit was the chicken salad. It takes about 5 minutes to make! The first version was canned chicken breast, drained, shredded and mixed with light mayo and white grapes, sliced in half. BIG hit! This week, I ran out of mayo and had to substitute spinach dip. LOVED it!
I don’t assemble the sandwiches before the meet because they tend to get soggy. I just bring the salad in a container (square, of course), some bread and a fork. I can assemble the sandwiches right there in the stands. Here’s my sandwich from today, using the leftover Chicken Grape Salad:
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Sometimes, I need to feed FavoriteSon fast. Considering what the boy can pack away and how much it can cost, I need to stock some quick, easy, cheap meals.
Meatball subs are a hit with him:
PinkGirl doesn’t like the sauce, so she dips her plain meatballs in low sugar ketchup. Frozen french fries bake up quick and again, PinkGirl goes for the ketchup while FavoriteSon opts for cheese dip.
I’ve got a few meals like this that I can pull together in 5 to 10 minutes. I’ve also made meatloaf sandwiches, turkey & gravy sandwiches and beef tip sandwiches using Hormel Refrigerated Entrees. Served with a bowl of soup or baked fries, these meals are fast, filling, inexpensive and healthier than a double quarter pounder with cheese and a large fry.
Way back in August of last year, I recommended Kitchen Bouquet. It’s made from “caramel, vegetable base (water, carrots, onions, celery, parsnips, turnips, salt, parsley, spices) sodium benzoate, (less than 0.1 of 1% to preserve freshness).” It has 10mg sodium per teaspoon.
This weekend, I found myself making our standard roast with carrots and potatoes, so I grabbed the camera.
First, brown the roast. Most often I use a chuck roast, but this pot roast was on sale. Then cover the roast with peeled, cut up potatoes and baby carrots. We use frozen baby carrots, but we give the carrots a little head start by cutting open the bags and nuking them for a few minutes.
Cover with water.
Then pour in a little Kitchen Bouquet – just enough to turn the water dark brown.
Turn the crock pot on high and leave for 6 to 8 hours or until the potatoes and carrots are tender. We’ve also made this meal on the stove top and it seems to cook much faster. We’ve put it on before church and served it for lunch. We are freakish and separate the potatoes and carrots – each one getting their own serving bowl. Then we remove the meat and make gravy with the broth.
Pinkgirl devours these carrots. I’m surprised she doesn’t turn orange. And FavoriteSon, my little carnivore, LOVES the meat!
I think it may be cold every where in the U.S. right now, and I don’t pretend to be whining. I actually like it. But of course, I have heat and snow doesn’t blanket Florida. I grouse about hurricanes and humidity, not cold weather.
The freeze warning last night? You know, take in your plants, blah, blah, blah. No need.
Basketballs don’t die.
We had a fire in the fireplace last night and the first chili of the season. I wanted to have white chicken chili, but as I was doing my impression of a short person trying to see on the top shelf at the grocery store, the manager stepped up behind me and asked if he could help me find something.
“White chicken chili mix?”
He copied my impression of a short person, made a “sorry” face and apologized.
“I guess I wasn’t the only one who thought of chili tonight.”
Another (taller) manager was with him and, after sliding her hand across and back the top shelf (show-off) she said:
“Well we should have thought of it too – it’s only freezing outside. Of course people would want to make chili.”
So I made the standard “Chilio” chili instead. (They were out of those packets too, I just had some at home.)
I’m hoping to score some white chicken chili packets today at another grocery store. This is how easy it is:
It needs to simmer a little, but the prep is only 5 minutes if you use the canned chicken (from Sam’s Club) and the canned beans. I’m hoping to make a double batch. A little corn bread, some s’mores and smears over the fire for dessert . . . that, combined with no athletic practices and some family night American Idol watching.
Shoot. We might even take the Christmas tree down. Yes. Yes, I said it. No judging. Our family rule is “if you’re not willing to help, you’re not allowed to complain.”
For years decades, we’ve made something special for my dad for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s his sister’s recipe for Cranberry Salad. I remember making it as a kid, as do my sisters, but since we grew up and moved out, my mother – who fondly calls this dish “cranberry crap” – took over the job again.
This year, since my mother is in Arkansas, my father asked me if I would make it. Actually, my mother also asked me if I would make it for him and offered to give me the recipe. My father thought it would be nice if I called his sister, my Aunt Margie and ask her for it. I hadn’t spoken or seen my Aunt Margie in over ten years – not because of any problems, just logistics and lack of effort. It was a great impetus for renewing my relationship with my Aunt.
We easily fell into a very nice conversation and as she gave the me ingredients and instructions, I realized. My mother had a different version of this recipe. We had not been making my Aunt Margie’s Cranberry Salad all these years. I’ll explain and show photos as I go through the recipe.
2 bags of cranberries
2 apples (peeled and cored)
1 can of pineapple chunks (drained)
1 cup of sugar
walnuts to garnish
Wash the cranberries and discard stems and rotten berries.
Now here’s the pragmatic twist. My father delivered a hand grinder to me when he asked me to make this recipe. A hand. grinder. Serious flashback. I remember hand grinding the fruit and cranberries. Every. Year. What a mess. Cranberry juice everywhere. Seriously. A MESS. As soon as my sisters got old enough to use the grinder without losing a finger, I gladly passed the job to them. In their young naiveté, they thought it would be fun. By the time they realized it was a sticky and disgusting job, the cranberry crushing baton was completely out of my hands. When my mother took over again, I think she switched from hand grinder to blender. So over the years, the whole thing went from cranberry goo (in the grinder) to cranberry soup (in the blender).
Although resistant, I tested the grinder and my memory on the apples first. Yep. Just like old times. Applesauce anyone?
So I pulled out my handy dandy Oster chopper attachment.
And I tried again. MUCH better.
The red pieces in the applies are from the cranberries.
I chopped the cranberries, the apples and the pineapple using the “pulse” button on my chopper. Filling the container multiple times allowed me to chop in different . . . textures? Sizes? Basically, there are three different textures of cranberries and apples, ranging from finely chopped, medium chopped and barely chopped. I didn’t have to chop the pineapple very much since it started out in small chunks anyway.
That leaves the oranges. I made two changes which were a HUGE difference from how I made this as a kid. First, I zested the orange. We NEVER did that. NEVER. Didn’t even have a zester in the house growing up. I don’t own one now. I had to use a small grater. I got the sweetness and the taste, but not the texture. I’m buying a zester for next year.
The second difference with regard to the oranges? My Aunt Margie strongly emphasized removing the “white stuff” from the orange. It’s called the “pith” and while it is actually good for you, it tastes a little bitter. There are a few ways to remove the pith, but I just rolled the orange on the counter, peeled it and then cut away the white layer that remained. I also removed the inner white stuff – I’ve been calling it the “cartilage” of the orange. It’s hard and crunchy and bitter and it is THE reason I would never eat this cranberry salad. I hate that stuff. yuck.
Here’s the finished product sans the walnut garnish. I wasn’t serving any at the time of the photo and I didn’t want to waste the walnuts. I actually prefer pecans, myself. This can be made ahead and I’ve been told it freezes well too. Panara’s got nothing on my Aunt Margie.
My dad said he could tell the difference before he even tasted it, just from the way it looked. So could I. I tasted it, my younger sister tasted it, our dinner guests tried it – all with positive reactions. None of the kids would touch it. Big chickens. My dad took most of it home. I understand it’s great with vanilla ice cream.
I’m wondering, if I retain some of the fruit juice, heat it up and thicken it with cornstarch and stir it into the fruit mixture – would it make a good pie? I may test it next year in a Pillsbury pastry.
As always, I’m providing a print friendly version – CLICK HERE.
One thing was a constant in every madrigal dinner – wassail. It’s a kind of warm cider drink my choral director would make every year. I’ve made it on Christmas Eve for years. It’s a family favorite and a longstanding tradition. And it only takes about 5 minutes to prepare!!!
1/2 gallon apple juice
2 cups pinapple juice
2 cups orange juice
2 cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons whole cloves
Pour all juices in a pot or crockpot.
Float Cinnamon sticks. Place cloves in a coffee filter and tie with a twist tie.CLICK HERE for an UPDATE to this recipe.
Simmer for AT LEAST 30 minutes or more
(when it the smell starts to waft, you know it’s gonna be GOOD)
I know some would cover an entire orange with cloves and float it in the wassail. My hat is off to you, but I can’t find my thimble. Actually, I haven’t looked. But you go ahead. More power to ya.
The bonus is the way the house smells while it’s simmering.
I’m back! And I’m ramping up to meet the holiday scheduling “challenges” in our lives. It’s December 3rd!!!! There are currently only two advent calendars taunting me as they count down the days till Christmas in my house – with at least one more to be unpacked as we decorate for Christmas.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that my color coded calendar looked like a rainbow and I’m seriously focused on keeping things “normal” (whatever that means). We traveled to visit family in Georgia last week and I had to work Monday and Tuesday, so this is my first blog moment in nearly a week. I’ll be catching up on my blog visits in spurts. Oh. And while in Georgia, my windshield got whacked by a rock and now needs replaced because the crack is smack dab in front of the driver’s seat. I’m told that it will only take an hour and can be fixed in my own driveway. I REALLY hope that’s true.
But now it’s time for a little stress relieving stream of consciousness. oops. cold coffee. need to nuke (for the second time this morning and it’s only 9:13 a.m.)
Okay. Here goes.
Kitchen Tip Tuesday – LATE
If I’m not careful, we will eat out or grab takeout for the rest of the month. Monday, I had to work (thankfully, on Go To Meeting, and not on client site) and then I rushed to pick up PinkGirl from school at 3:00 p.m. (late) and then waited for FavoriteSon to saunter on over to the van at 3:36 – 6 minutes after 2nd grade bowling began (His punishment for being late was to ride past all his friends in my festive holiday “carstumed” van.)
I fed them snacks in the car to avoid buying food at the bowling alley, dropped PinkGirl off at bowling, took FavoriteSon home as he did homework in the car, changed from shorts and sleeveless because it was getting cold, put on some make up because I looked . . . asleep, took FavoriteSon – still doing homework in the car, back up to the bowling alley to pick up PinkGirl, drove to pick up FirstHusband at a nearby parking lot where he left his truck while we picked up dinner at Wendy’s (dropping my driver’s side Rudolph antler in the drive-thru) on the way to FavoriteSon’s first basketball game – across town – an hour before the game started because they had to hand out uniforms at the last minute. Got in the van to come home at 8:30 or so, drove 45 minutes home stopping for McDonalds for PinkGirl and at Checkers for FavoriteSon because they were “starving,” (again dropping my driver’s side Rudolph antler in the drive through) arrived home with PinkGirl asleep in the back seat . . . it’s December. See what I mean? And we only allow one extra curricular activity per kid at a time. I can’t imagine life with kids involved in multiple activities.
Oh, and it seems I stepped off the bleachers a little too vigorously after the game. I felt my neck “jar” as my foot hit the ground, so, while I’ve not suffered a complete setback, I did take a few steps backward on the road to ruptured disk recovery. I’m going to schedule another massage for Friday afternoon after a few more traction and inversion sessions. We are taking PinkGirl and three friends to Magic Kingdom on Saturday for her birthday and I’ll have to be standing on hard surfaces all day, so I’m going to be a little proactive. I’m also going to be good and NOT ride any roller coasters either. Bummer.
So . . . those are a few of our recent scheduling challenges. I said this was stream of consciousness.
I need some serious meal planning, which is what I’m doing today. Yesterday I went for a tried and true favorite, Cream Cheese Chicken. Today, we have leftovers and for tomorrow, I’ve already pulled out my “easy” cookbook.
I know Cambell’s soups aren’t the healthiest ingredients in a meal, but they’re a whole lot better than Wendy’s. Or McDonalds. Or Checkers. So, here’s the crinkliest page in this book:
4 cups cooked broccoli florets
1 1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup (Regular or 98% Fat Free)
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 tbsp. dry bread crumbs
1 tbsp. butter, melted
Place the broccoli and chicken into a 9-inch pie plate. (I use an oval Corningware casserole dish.)
Stir the soup and milk in a small bowl. Pour the soup mixture over the broccoli and chicken. Sprinkle with the cheese. Stir the bread crumbs and butter in a small bowl. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the cheese.
Bake at 450°F. for 20 minutes or until the chicken mixture is hot and bubbling.
It’s fast, it’s easy, and the kids like it too! In a bind, I can use frozen broccoli florets and a large can of cooked chicken breast. I use lowfat or low sodium soup, skim milk, lowfat cheese, and Smart Balance margarine. So . . . not SO bad for us.
This morning, I forgot to eat breakfast, so three hours later I just made:
5 minute Oatmeal.
One cup water, 1/2 cup old fashioned oats (not quick or 1 minute oats).
Nuke on 50% power for 5 minutes (I put a paper plate underneath because there can be boil over).
Fast and easy.
Okay – I stepped away from the computer for just a minute – and it’s 4:40 p.m. Again. It’s December.
I saw a termite swarm in the back yard and our “termite guy” stopped by to check it out. There’s nothing near the house, thank goodness and while he was telling me how many termite colonies there are per acre in Florida and how the ones who fly are just looking for a girlfriend and not eating anything important, I got a client call and had to work for a while.
In other news, our new shower is almost done. I understand the only thing left to do is buff the floor. Check out our “broken” shower photos HERE. And now, our new shower:
Next, I paint.
But first, I take PinkGirl to children’s Christmas choir practice (we broke the one activity rule for this one), walk for an hour with a friend, attend my own Christmas choir rehearsal and then come home.
At the moment, there’s nothing on my calendar tomorrow. Maybe it’s a catch up day? I love catch up days.