loving the lake...

We are just home from a wonderful, recharging weekend at the lake with my family.  Every time I am fortunate enough to take a trip upstate to my aunt and uncle's lake house, I'm transported back to happy childhood moments, full of laughter, imagination and nature.  It is a blessing to share that with Mr. Boom and George.

My favorite shot of G:
Sharing an apple with Baba in the pop-up toddler tent:
On this trip, we were able to meet the newest member of the family - Baby L (with his mama, my cousin Jules).  So, adorable!  It is amazing how short memory is at times.  Though over 14 pounds and closing in on 3 months, he looked impossibly tiny to me and I kept thinking, "How was G ever that small?"
(as always, click on any photo for a larger, better quality image)


the destruction of a fruit pop...

Introducing homemade frozen fruit pops to G's snack selection this summer was simultaneously a very good and very bad idea.

Good idea:
- helps beat the heat
- healthy
- actually gets him to sit for more than 5 minutes
- he loves them

Bad idea:
- he wants a "pop" all. the. time.
- right after his morning milk, he takes my hand, pulls me over to the freezer and asks, "Pop?" To which I answer, "Not right now George." Insert crying toddler.
- minutes after finishing breakfast, he takes my hand, pulls me over to the freezer and asks, "Pop?" To which I answer, "Not right now George." Insert crying toddler.
- upon waking from a nap, he takes my hand, pulls me over to the freezer and asks, "Pop?" To which I answer, "Not right now George." Insert crying toddler.

You get the point, right?  I think he would eat a dozen pops a day if allowed.  Luckily, every day, he does get one (and sometimes a second) pop and I get to be the "Yes!" mom.  For that, I am handsomely rewarded with seeing this:

And, yes, I have moved on to less stain-er-iffic fruit combinations after the first very colorful batch.  It's a journey and an adventure...


recipe: ground turkey with potatoes and spring peas

On Monday's post, I mentioned incorporating some of our family favorites into our weekly meal plan.  Although it has been great to try new things (especially since the recipes have all been quick and easy), inserting an old favorite or a new must-try is also good. Yes, it means tweaking the grocery list, thus complicating the point of using a generated meal plan a bit but, to me those few extra minutes are worth the effort.

I have hundreds quite a few recipes tagged in my Google Reader, just waiting to try out.  In the interest of the heat of summer (no oven, please!) and busy evenings (make it quick!), not many have been attempted recently.  But, glancing through my tags last week this one called to me yet again.  So, I added it to our meal plan and grocery list and gave it a whirl. 

I'm SO glad I did!  It was a fresh change, used only one pan, was a bit different on the taste scale (I rarely use cilantro) and super easy.  Here is my (slightly) modified version:

Ground Turkey with Potatoes and Spring Peas

1 can diced fire roasted tomatoes, well drained
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
20 oz lean ground turkey
1/4 sweet onion, finely chopped
1 cup frozen baby peas, defrosted
3 red potatoes, washed and diced into 1 inch cubes
8 oz can tomato sauce
3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp cumin, or to taste
salt, to taste
1 bay leaf

1. In a food processor (or you can chop by hand) finely chop tomato, garlic and cilantro.
2. In a large skillet, brown turkey and season with salt and cumin to taste. When meat is browned and cooked through add onion, chopped tomato mixture, peas, potato, tomato sauce, water, cumin, salt and bay leaf.
3. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until potatoes are cooked through, about 25 minutes stirring occasionally. Add more water if needed. Remove bay leaf and serve hot with dinner rolls or crusty bread.
- The original recipe called for using a chopped, fresh tomato.  We never have fresh tomatoes in the house (oh, skeeve!) so, I subbed in the can of diced tomatoes, drained.  Perfect substitute using an ingredient I always have on hand. 
- The original also suggested serving the dish over rice.  Considering the potatoes in the recipe, I thought this would be far too much starch for one meal.  I served it in large bowls with bread on the side. Yes, bread is a starch and so my first argument makes no sense. Silly me!
- I rarely use scallions and did not wish to buy an entire bunch for just a few so, used the finely diced onion instead.
- It was late July when I prepared this recipe so, spring peas?  Not available.  Hence the frozen.  Works for me!
- Mr. Boom and I both loved this recipe and I'll be making it again.  George, however, tried it and spit it out.  I'm certain it was the cilantro since he happily eats the rest of the ingredients in other meals. 


beating the heat: photo edition

 Water misters...
 kiddie pools...
 lots and lots and LOTS of water...
 and our wonderful, local splash park!
It's not all bad :-)


meal planning + monday + slow cooker = good things

1. Grocery shopping on a (non-holiday) Monday morning is a lovely experience, even with toddler in tow. The stockers are out en force, the produce is all prettily arranged and there are deals to be had. Add to that, the store is generally close to empty of other customers. Joy! Bliss!

2. Menu planning.  It saves time, saves sanity on weeknights and saves money. Having all of the ingredients for a weeks worth of dinners on hand, after just one shopping trip, saves money in time, gas, and eliminates the let's-just-get-take-out last ditch dinner. I shared earlier this month that I had subscribed to E-Mealz to help with this task.  It is working out great!  I usually spend about $100/week on groceries.  In the two weeks I have been using E-Mealz, my total at the checkout has been down to $64-68/week.  Huge savings, guesswork taken out of meals and the headache of sitting down to plan and write a complete list is nearly eliminated. Loving it! I am subscribed to the Any Store Regular Family Meal plan. If you are interested in checking out the plans to see if this could be a solution for your family, click here:
Emealz - Easy Meals for Busy People!
3. Look for little known deals. At our grocery store, $ off coupons get added to packages of meats on Mondays mornings. The cuts are still fresh but, marked down after the weekend rush to make room for new shipments. I saved $4.00 (in addition to sale prices) last Monday just with these extra deals on meats I was already planning on purchasing from my shopping list.

4. Pay attention to sales + coupon doubling. My store doubles all manufacturer coupons up to 99 cents. I bring all of my coupons along while shopping so that if I run into an in-store special that isn't on my list but, have a coupon, it can make for a great deal. Last week, I had two 75 cent coupons for Minute Maid Enhanced Juice Blends. The item was on sale 2/$6. Using both doubled coupons, I came home with two bottles for $3.00.

5. Keep the catalinas! Catalinas are the coupons that print out at checkout. I buy organic milk for George, which is a significant cost factored into our weekly grocery budget. Almost every time I shop, I get a catalina back for my next organic milk purchase. Today, my store had Stonyfield Farm organic milk on special for $3.19 per half gallon. I used a Catalina for $1.50 off of two half gallons. So, a gallon of milk totalled $4.88. Less than the price of regular milk and great savings on a product that we buy normally.

6. Using a slow cooker in the summer yields great meals, without heating up the house!  I am always on the look out for new and tasty slow cooker meals.  Last weekend, I came across one on Pinterest that looked too simple and yummy not to try. I worked it into our meal plan for the week and made it on Monday.  Delicious and a new favorite discovered.  You can follow the above link to the original recipe and, here is my tweaked version, reflecting chicken I had in our freezer and sneaking in more veggies:
Crockpot Hawaiian BBQ Chicken
Recipe and photo credit to: Six Sister's Stuff

8-10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 16 oz. bottle honey bbq sauce (or Hawaiian version, if you can find one)
1 20 oz. can pineapple chunks, drained
1 sweet onion, roughly chopped
2 bell peppers, any color (I used green and orange) roughly chopped
hot cooked rice

Add chicken to bottom of crockpot.  Pour bottle of bbq sauce over chicken.  Add pineapple and veggies on top.  Cook on HIGH 3 hours or LOW 4-6 hours. When finished cooking, shred chicken with two forks and mix ingredients together.  Serve over hot rice.

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with E-Mealz and have received no compensation for this post. Simply a satisfied subscriber passing along information.
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