We’re Not In Kansas Anymore…

So…I hinted at some big changes that have been happening. One of them is that Glenn and I are no longer living in Boring! While I miss the sound of the creek and routinely driving by cows and ducks and geese and llamas and alpacas and pigs and sheep and chickens, I am pretty happy to be living a little closer in and remembering the good things about living in Portland. Plus it’s kind of handy to be able to get, you know, anywhere in less than 20 minutes. But posting on “life in Boring” seems pretty shady given that my life is no longer in Boring. Instead I’ve started a new blog: A Tale of Grace. You can find it at www.taleofgrace.wordpress.com. I’m still planning to post menus pretty regularly, blather on about pinterest, review the books I’m reading, and share experiences with my friends and family. I’ll explain more about the big changes there.

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What’s for Dinner? Whatever is in the Freezer

I am officially trying to clean out my freezer and pantry. Fortunately it’s a pretty giant job so we are still eating pretty regular meals (before you know it we’ll be having bread crumbs with green olives and mandarin oranges. And who put all that tuna in there anyway?!?) {How often do you clean out your pantry/freezer anyway?} The advent of fall has me cooking some comfort food too. Here’s what it’s been so far this week:

Monday: Mom’s Spaghetti Sauce

Tuesday: Taco Salad with Chipotle Sloppy Joe meat

Wednesday: Beef Stew

Thursday: either leftovers or pizza…it looks like it will be a long day so I’m planning on something easy. Some friends are doing a major favor for us though so I’m making the infamous dutch oven bread for them. Lemon and rosemary, comin’ atcha.

Friday: I have no idea. I am just OCD enough that I am pretty uncomfortable with that. I’m not really sure how our day will fall out that day, when we’ll eat dinner, who we’ll eat with…so I’m taking a deep breath and trusting that it will be fine. McDonald’s is still serving, right? (That’s a joke. Please tell me you know that’s a joke.)

What are you making for this first week of fall?

Font Snobs, Unite!

I promise that I am still planning a post about the week with Cathy and the scoop on the Roasted Salsa Roja which I’m making today with HOMEGROWN TOMATOES! But for now I just have to say–I believe with all my heart that fonts communicate a great deal. In fact it’s been a concern of mine that the fonts default with the “theme” I’ve chosen in WordPress. I’ve considered paying the extra just so that I can choose my own fonts. Ridiculous right? But seriously, in a print piece or media presentation, the wrong font can sabotage all your hard work! The joke at the church where I worked was that whatever I designed I had to send the font along with the document because I could never use a standard selection.

So when I came across the video today, I HAD to share. I think it’s important to laugh hard every day so here’s your laugh for today…enjoy.

What’s for Dinner {Back in Boring}

We’ve had a fun couple of weeks with company and then traveling. It’s been fantastic but we’re pretty happy to be home again and settle into a more regular routine. I’m always surprised to hear myself say this…but I’m kind of happy to be home and stop eating out. It’s been a couple weeks of fancy dining or deep-fried indulgence (can you say Red Robin french fries?). So we’re anticipating some simpler, made-at-home meals this week. Hope you enjoyed the Des Moines menu last week while we were dining out.

And I promise to post the photos from my week with Cath’…they seem to be centered around those meals anyway…and the couple pics I shot in Florida. More to come…

Meanwhile, here’s the meal plan for this week:

Monday: Chicken with Ginger and steamed rice
This is the recipe from Martha Stewart. We tried it a few weeks ago and loved it. Simple, light, and delicious. This time I’m planning to add a green veggie: spinach, green beans or broccoli, whatever is available at the grocery store.

Tuesday: Taco Stuffed Shells and Roasted Salsa Roja
I’ve never done stuffed shells and it seems kind of silly to start with this taco version but what can I say? It sounds yummy to me. For the salsa, I’m a sucker for roasted tomato flavors so I’m anxious to try this one. And I’m still searching for a recipe that’s yummy without the garlic. I fear that I am doomed to fail but this one looks promising because it has a lot of other flavors and spiciness going on. Fingers crossed, right? Speaking of spiciness though, I’m planning to use jalepenos instead of serrano peppers. Call me a chicken if you want but eight serranos sounds crazy to me!

Wednesday: Balsamic and Onion Pot Roast and Smashed Potatoes with Blackberry Custard for dessert
Our weather forecast has a cool day coming on Wednesday–they’re saying we won’t even break 70 degrees so it seems like a good day to try a new Pot Roast recipe. Plus mom and dad will be joining us for dinner so even better. It’s always fun to make those bigger recipes when there are four of us otherwise Glenn and I end up eating the same meal for days on end. This recipe combines a couple of our very favorite flavors, balsamic and onion, so seems like we can’t go wrong. Since there aren’t potatoes in the pot roast I’m planning to try these simple and yummy looking smashed potatoes. Yes, smashed. Literally. And I promise I didn’t mean to do another ATK recipe but look how easy this one is!

Blackberry season is coming to a close so I’m planning to try¬† individual Blackberry Custards before they’re gone. This is mostly for my dad…these are two of his favorite tastes together. (Glenn will just have to find some chocolate ice cream or something.)

Thursday: Pasta with Spicy Tomato and Olive Sauce (from Panera)
As usual I’ll be making this without the garlic but once again it looks to me like there are enough other strong flavors that we won’t miss it too much. If I’m feeling really ambitious I may try some homemade bread (since there are about 587 recipes on my taste (bread) pinterest board. We’ll see how my week goes but I love the idea of that delicious scent of baking bread in our home…hence the 587 recipes. A girl can dream, right?

Friday: Sweet Apricot Chicken
Simple and yummy and another crock pot recipe–yeah! Perfect since Glenn has guests coming in and dinner time will have to be a bit flexible. Haven’t decided yet if this will be with rice or bread or some other starch. And the veggie depends on what I can find at the Farmer’s Market on Thursday.

Happy Cooking and Bon Appetit!

What’s for Dinner…in Des Moines

The Tall One and I are headed to the opposite side of the country where I will be busy laying by the pool and dining out so no Boring menu this week. Instead I have my first “guest-blogger,” my sister! I suppose in order to be a regular guest blogger she should have her own blog {ahem} but I’m still thrilled that she took the time to jot down her plans for you here! It’s a big week in their Iowa home–back to school. Can’t wait for you to read all about it…

P.S. She didn’t send me the recipe for the Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake (Anyone else flashing on My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Let’s all say it together now, “the bundt cake.”) But I bet she’ll share if you clamor for it in the comments!

Okay, here’s what I think we’ll try for dinner this week:

Monday: Mexican Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa and Black Beans, sauteed vegetables
This is one I’ve tried before and added to our favorite healthy recipes. If you don’t like peppers (which I don’t), this mixture is easily rolled up in a corn tortilla instead. I feel very, very organic saying that I make my enchiladas with quinoa. And even my kids love these! Oh, and I add ground chicken, so maybe I’m not as vegelicious as I may seem.

Tuesday: Out with Friends
Our tradition on the last day of summer is dinner on the patio with our treasured adopted-grandparents, Denny and Becky.

Wednesday: Mom’s Meaty Spaghetti, garlic bread, garden salad and First-Day-of-School Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake
This is another traditional meal. If, when school was out on the first day, we didn’t return to a home smelling like heaven, my girls would be beyond disappointed. They are expecting and will receive one of the best recipes my mom ever handed down to me. People are impressed that I make my own sauce…please don’t mention how unbelievably easy it is.

Mom’s Meaty Spaghetti Sauce

1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground beef
2 cloves minced garlic
2 #1-cans (4 cups) diced tomatoes
{Can you tell this is an old recipe? When was the last time you referred to #1-cans?}
2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf

In a large skillet, cook onion in hot oil until almost render. Add meat and garlic; brown lightly. Add remaining ingredients.

Simmer uncovered two to two and a half hours until sauce is nice and thick. Stir occasionally. Remove bay leaf. Serve over spaghetti noodles.

Note #1: That’s the whole recipe. It’s fantastic but super thick and meaty.
Since we want the sauce to mix in with the noodles a bit more, I usually add a jar of
ready-made sauce (gasp!) at the end, with just enough time to get it hot.

Note #2: It’s totally double-able. In fact, I almost always double it
so there are plenty of leftovers.

Note #3: We’ve been known to skip the noodles entirely and just eat a bowl
of the leftover sauce for lunch the next day. It’s that good.

Thursday: Jalapeno Popper Chicken, rice and roasted carrots
Time to try something from my pinterest board. We are huge fans of poppers, so I’m looking forward to this one!

Friday: Backyard Dinner Party
This usually means grilled meats and potluck sides. If I’m asked to bring salad or a dessert, I’m considering these: