Pudding Pops

I’m kind of a food snob. I think it’s because John and I spent so many years in our 30s with good jobs before kids. We went out to eat a lot. When I cooked I had the luxury of quality (expensive) ingredients and time. The things I loved as a kid I no longer like. Things like cool whip and boxed pudding don’t appeal to me at all.

I believe pudding should be homemade. It should involve egg yolks, whole milk, half and half, sugar, and corn starch. It should be a project. I also believe in having the kids help me in the kitchen (well, mostly Audrey because Elliot can be a challenge in the kitchen). Fancy shmancy pudding and kids don’t mix, so for the sake of kitchen help I occasionally reach for things I don’t particularly like. Like boxed pudding.

Do you remember back when Bill Cosby wasn’t a sexual predator? I do. We watched him every week on the Cosby show and we ate pudding pops. They were delicious. They still are, and they are also really easy to make (Step 1: make pudding. Step 2: freeze it).

Audrey helped me pour the milk and stir. She took the job very seriously. At one point she stopped stirring because she forgot to put her apron on.20180713_1618042333065902660222817.jpgElliot taste tested the pudding. He took his job seriously too.20180713_162242826647738028744168.jpg

I poured the pudding into the molds. I think I waited too long, as the pudding had started to set up and it was a very gloppy job.20180713_1625457881662914017156109.jpg

When we were done we ran to the store. Audrey was so excited about cooking she wanted to wear her apron. She was very proud of herself.20180713_170709(0)-12986365372933638748.jpg

I hope that having the kids involved in cooking now will keep them interested in cooking. Elliot really wants to help, but he destroys so many things. I need to find something easier than pudding for him to help with. Do you have any ideas?

Beaverdale Farmers Market

It was very hot here today, over 90. That didn’t stop us from heading to the Beaverdale Farmers Market. I love that a 10 minute walk takes us to our neighborhood market. On Tuesday nights I don’t have to worry about cooking. I know we will find food from a vendor to enjoy.

Tonight we passed our ice cream neighbor on our way to the market. He was headed out to run an errand, but he opened his garage door and pulled over to tell me to just go into the garage and take whatever treat we wanted. He said to leave the door open because he would be back soon enough. I took him up on it – Audrey had a mini drumstick, Elliot had a popsicle, and I had a Schwan’s orange push pop.

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After enjoying our frozen treats we walked around the market. None of the produce called to me, so we just had dinner. The kids split a pizza and I had a papusa. We have Tuesday night picnics down to a science. I keep a picnic blanket in the stroller trunk. We spread it out in the shade of the median of the road the market is held on.

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I have learned to order the kids a margarita pizza without basil. Audrey won’t eat pizza if it has green on it. If we are out in public it isn’t worth that battle. The people at Parlo Pizza are great at making pizza for kids. Their pizza is wood fired and gives it an excellent crunchy crust. Because they knew it was for the kids they didn’t cook it as long so the kids could easily bite through it. They also cut it into more slices so the pieces were kid sized. Elliot really liked that, and served himself several slices.20180710_172312856201908316333743.jpg

Audrey had a good meal and then rested and looked at the clouds. I think she would have happily stayed there all night had I not made her get up so we could get home to air conditioning

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Yes, it was ridiculously hot today, but it was so much better than a frigid day in January. Summer is short, and we’re trying to soak up as much of it as we can. I hope you are too.

Crock Pot Egg Bake

I love to cook, but I hate turning on my oven in the summer. I find myself cooking in the crock pot because it doesn’t heat up the whole house. Last night I decided to try something new in the crock pot – eggs.

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I browned half of a pound of breakfast sausage in a skillet and transferred it to my crockpot (which I sprayed with oil). I then used the same skillet, with a bit of vegetable oil (I wasn’t planning on needing that, but the sausage was very lean), to saute a green pepper, orange pepper, and half of a red onion.

Once that was soft I added it to the crock pot. I cracked a dozen eggs into a bowl and whisked them until they were mostly scrambled. I added salt, pepper, and a cup of shredded cheese. I then poured the eggs over the meat and vegetables and cooked it on low for about 2 hours. Once a knife stuck in the middle came out clean I cut it into 8 wedges and called it dinner.20180625_1956333589874408623931879.jpg

We both like this, so I’ll be making it again. I will be making a few changes. I’ll probably use soy chorizo instead of breakfast sausage. I used pork sausage from our egg lady. She has great eggs, but her sausage is pretty bland. I will probably make this without cheese next time, as it isn’t needed. I think a pinch of good cheese on top would be better than supermarket cheddar mixed in.

One of my favorite things about eggs for dinner is the leftovers the next day. I had this for breakfast covered in siracha. The kids had it for breakfast and ate it once it was called eggy pie. I microwaved slices for a minute. They reheated well and didn’t seem to dry out.

What do you cook when you don’t want to turn the oven on?

 

 

Lunch Improvements

I haven’t been meal planning lunches for the kids lately. I haven’t needed to. I think it just took three weeks of planning and trying new things to help me come up with creative menu ideas on the fly. We haven’t been eating chicken nuggets or fish sticks lately, which was my goal. The kids still aren’t eating many vegetables, but I’m trying.

Oh, I’m trying.

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Cucumber Spider

I have two meals that the kids will eat consistently. The easiest is English muffin pizzas. Toast an English muffin, top it with sauce and cheese, then broil it until the cheese melts. Add a vegetable and a fruit. Easy peasy.

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The meal that is most often requested is “cocktail party” dinner. Audrey asks for this for almost every meal. It is small bits on a plate, like you would eat at a cocktail party. Karen gave me the idea to put meat and cheese on a pretzel skewer, and it has been a huge hit. I try to do something fun to the plate every time, today it was mustard sunglasses for dipping the turkey.

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I am pleased that the kids are not eating as many chicken nuggets. Now that we’ve discovered cocktail party lunches I’m having fun changing them up. I’m always looking for new things to add to the rotation, so if you have any ideas send them my way.

Tikka Masala Meal Kit

I am super excited because tonight John and I are heading out for a date night. We get to eat sushi and drink wine and there will be no one there asking “Why?” about everything she sees and no one throwing sippy cups of milk and then screaming “DAT’S A GAME.” At least I really hope John doesn’t start doing those things.

Going out to eat is a nice treat. I cook most of our meals. Most nights John and I eat later than the kids, which means I cook four meals a day. I like cooking, but by the fourth meal I just don’t care. I need a break. Which is why, when I stumbled upon meal kids at Aldi for Indian food I snapped one up.20180603_1850222148657.jpg

I love Indian food, but we rarely get it. Our favorite restaurant is out-of-the-way, so we end up choosing easier options. Lately we’ve been eating Trader Joe’s freezer meals if we want an Indian food fix. I have made it from scratch, but that takes a lot of time. My hope was this box would provide at home like Indian food in much less time that was better than freezer food.

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My review: It was fine. It took little effort. It was inexpensive (I think around $3 for the box). It made five servings. I felt the rice was sufficient, but I would have liked more chicken. I always want more chicken though, so that isn’t exactly surprising (that should be on my tombstone – “she wanted more chicken.”). I’ll probably get it again, as it seems like a good thing to have in my cupboard for nights that I don’t know what to cook. I would not recommend getting this if you want delicious Indian food.

Do you have anything you keep in your cupboard for nights you don’t feel like cooking?

 

Summer Help

I had the best morning. It was amazing. I’m riding high from the fun I had.

What did I do? I cleaned my house.

Why was that fun? Because my kids weren’t here.

I hired my niece to watch the kids a few hours a week this summer. It was her first day today. I knew it would be great, but I had no idea how fabulous it would be. After she got her we packed up the stroller and swim gear. They walked to the wading pool. I came inside, loaded up a new playlist and got to work cleaning.

The playlist was created by my best friend from high school. We caught up earlier this year when he was back in our hometown visiting from Australia (where he is a professor at Australia National University). He has always been someone who brings me joy. He is funny and kind and full of great information. He excels at pointing me towards new music. It started with mixed tapes, moved to mixed CDs, and very recently moved to a playlist on Spotify. The playlist is filled with enjoyable songs that made cleaning more enjoyable. It also made me feel hip – my usual cleaning music is Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Kenny Rogers.

I’m not a person who enjoys cleaning, but without kids underfoot it becomes cathartic. I have never been so pleased with a clean kitchen floor.

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I am sad to report that the floor is no longer spotless. Living with two toddlers and a large dog makes it impossible to keep a floor white for long.

I was so energized from two kid free morning hours I was inspired to create a fun lunch. I hadn’t made English muffin pizzas since college, but we had all of the ingredients in the house. I was reaching in the cheese drawer for some Havarti and discovered a ball of fresh mozzarella I forgot that we had. What resulted is the fanciest English muffin pizzas I’ve ever made.

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In addition to getting a lot done and having some kid free time, I’m thrilled that my kids will have lots of time with their cousin.

I’m probably not going to clean every time she watches them. I’m excited to see all that I can get done with that time. What would you do if you were give two hours without responsibilities?