Archive for June, 2008

Cowboy Pot Roast with Mashed Potatoes

Cowboy Pot Roast

I found this recipe in an old Southern Living cookbook that I had inherited from my paternal grandmother many years ago. I think it came out pretty tasty, and Mark gave his seal of approval too.

2.5 – 3 lbs. beef pot roast, trimmed

1 (14.5 oz) can petite-cut diced tomatoes, drained

1 can Rotel tomatoes, undrained

1 onion, cut into large wedges

2 T. chili powder

2 (16 oz) cans pinto beans, drained

1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained

Salt & pepper to taste

Place roast in Crock Pot; salt generously. Pour tomatoes and onion wedges over the roast; add chili powder. Cover and cook on high temperature for about 5 hours. Remove roast from Crock Pot, cut into large chunks. Add beans in the Crock Pot and place the chunks of roast back into the Crock Pot as well. Lower temperature down to warm until ready to serve. This would be a nice dish for chilly autumn and winter days.

Mashed Potatoes

Everyone has their own unique way of making mashed potatoes, and this is mine.

5-6 large russet potatoes, washed, peeled & cut into cubes

1 stick of butter

1 small container of cream cheese with chives and onions

Milk

Salt & pepper

Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender; drain and return to pot. I use about 3/4 of a stick of butter, a few dashes of milk, generous salt and pepper, and 2-3 large dollops of the cream cheese. Mash well until smooth.

 I served the pot roast on top of the mashed potatoes. The natural gravy from the pot roast and beans was excellent on the taters. We also had a nice mixed greens salad with the roast.

Menu Monday

In my attempt to completely domesticate myself, I am forcing myself to publicly post what I plan to cook for the week. (In a feeble attempt at actually following through with it.)

The situation with me and cooking is that I need a plan. Mark (and my mom) can stand in front of the pantry and just invent a wonderful new dish. He is definitely an improv chef. I’m not. I need a recipe (that I’ve researched), I need a trip to the store to buy everything in that recipe, and I need a clean kitchen (I’m anal like that).

So that’s what I did yesterday. I picked some dishes I’ve wanted to try, I went to the store, and now I am ready to cook for the week. Here is this week’s selection:

  • Cowboy Pot Roast with Mashed Potatoes (today)
  • Chicken Verde (a family recipe) with Creamy Succotash
  • One-Pot Pasta (a ravioli dish) with salad
  • Chili Dogs with Green Beans (for the 4th of July)

We will have one or two days of leftovers at some point, Mark will cook on Sunday, and we might get take-out on one night.

It’s difficult finding things that Mark and I will both like. He does not like casseroles — or as he puts it, “Anything that has cream of something in it” (cream of mushroom, etc). Carson won’t eat potato items (tots, mashed potatoes, potato salads, etc), which I think he rather bizarre and I hope he grows out of it. Kate is the biggest challenge because she simply won’t eat unless you give her exactly what she wants — which is usually fruit, crackers or things that I consider junk food. (She is getting better though.) As for me, I know I need to explore beyond comfort foods and pastas.

Sunday Night Thoughts*

We had yet another nice-but-uneventful weekend.

I’ve decided that I need to change some things in my life. I’m bored. I’m isolated. I need to change that.

I don’t have a job outside of the home. Life has gone on auto-pilot as far as the twins are concerned — meaning, we have a great schedule, they sleep through the night, they play a lot on their own or with each other. I often feel like my main job is to feed them, keep them clean, give them hugs and kisses when they want them (and even when they don’t), and make sure they don’t kill themselves or each other. I know that’s rather simplistic, but life isn’t nearly as challenging as it was when we were dealing with infants (i.e., SLEEP DEPRIVATION). So now I am looking for new things to stimulate them, and always plotting future adventures.

But then there is me. Not the mom Shannon, but the adult Shannon. The 31-year old woman whose only adult interaction is with Mark, my nightly call to my mom, and Miss Jennifer (for 10 minutes twice a week). We never go out. All of our close friends live up in Dallas, and my local family is always busy with their own lives to do anything social with us.

Part of the problem is the weekend.

For me, I would like the weekend to full of outings, time with Mark, family time with the twins (trips to the zoo, park, swimming, etc), occasional date nights, visiting friends, etc. I am suck in the house all week, and so I want to go out and about on the weekends.

For Mark, the weekends are a time to rest. I completely understand where he is coming from because he works hard all week, has a job with a lot of stress, responsiblity, and hours, and he travels a bit for work too. So I know he wants (and needs) to spend his weekends napping, working around the house, watching TV…just chilling out and re-charging his battery for another busy work week.

 Those are polar opposites. We want different things.

I’ve looked into mom groups, but they are either already full or just not a group I would be interested in.

So, I am thinking that one nice compromise is to have one dinner party a month. Hmm, perhaps dinner party isn’t the right phrase. Nothing formal, but just invite another couple over to the house for dinner, wine, and adult conversation. Mark is a fantastic cook, I’ve worked hard to create a nice home, Mark’s co-workers and partners could see another side to him (which is always good on the career front), and I would get the adult interaction that I so desperately crave.

Of course, when I brought this up to Mark — and showed him my list of potential couples to invite — he chuckled and rolled his eyes. He is probably right. This wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had a grand idea, and then it just doesn’t pan out or the excitement fizzles out and I drop the idea.

Does anyone else out there feel this way? Any suggestions?

#  #  #  #

Anyhoo, the twins had a great weekend, though they both were wild as hell today. They were so happy and in great moods, but they did everything possible to get into trouble (getting into the fireplace, climbing a baker’s rack, trying to eat dog food, pulling on the wood blinds, getting into the trash can, etc). All things that they know are no-nos, but they didn’t seem to care today. They would just smile, continue doing what they aren’t suppose to do, and then try to out run us when we came after them. They were just wild today! 🙂

Kate’s fat lip is pretty much all gone.

Carson is walking more, better, and faster! I would say he is walking about 30-40% (vs. crawling) of the time now. I’ve noticed that at some times of the day, he prefers to crawl instead of walk.

Kate has been practicing standing unsupported (not holding on to anything) all weekend.

#  #  #  # 

Oh how I wish I could put my feet in the ocean. We.need.a.vacation!

 

* Alternative title: Can I Get Some Cheese with That Whine!

Crab Cakes, Shrimp & Grilled Asparagus

Sunday dinners in our house usually involve steaks, a veggie and baked potato. We have both grown tired of that, so we tried something new tonight. This was Mark’s first attempt at crab cakes (which we both love), and they came out pretty good — though we both agreed it needed some heat. Next time he is going to add either red bell pepper or perhaps pimento.

As always, his asparagus and shrimp were heavenly.

Crab Cakes

1 lb. crab meat

Panko crumbs (Japanese crumbs)

2 T. fresh parsley

1/2 t. dry mustard

1/2 c. Ritz Crackers, crushed

2 t. mayo

2 eggs

1 t. Worcestershire

Salt & pepper to taste

Mix the parsley, dry mustard, Worcestershire, eggs and may together. Add the crab meat, crushed crackers, salt and pepper; mix well. Form patties — about 1/3 cup each,  1″ thick. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Coat with panko crumbs lightly. Fry in butter and oil over medium-high heat; 4 minutes per side.

 

Grilled Shrimp Sauce

1 T. oil

1 T. fresh lemon juice

1 sliced green onion

1 T. fresh parsley

1 garlic clove, minced

Dash of basil, dry mustard, thyme, and salt

1 t. Dijon mustard

Whisk all ingredients together, and pour over shrimp right off of the grill.

Mark used his yummy garlic vinaigrette over the asparagus he cooked on the grill.

A Step Towards Civility

Since this has been a bit of a crappy week, I thought I would end it on a happy, positive note.

The twins hit another milestone today…eating with utensils! I think this is probably a bigger moment for me than it is for them. I’d like to think this will cut back (at least a little) on my nightly routine of scrubbing food off of the floor under their high chairs.

Last night, on a whim, I decided to let them try eating off of some plastic plates (seen above) instead of dumping everything on the tray. The twins once again amazed me with how different they are from each other. Carson went from compartment to compartment; eating everything in the compartment before moving on to the next one (all of the chicken first, then cheese, then green beans, then fruit). Kate, on the other hand, essentially played with her food and the plate for a good 30 minutes before finally eating (in random order). Carson finished every bite and left a perfectly clean high chair tray underneath this plate; not so for Miss Kate.

Since they did so well with the concept of the plate, I thought I would let them try to eat with sporks. They immediately picked them up and started eating with them! As if they had done it a hundred times before! (Of course, they’ve been using sporks as their primary teething item for some time now, so they understood that it goes in the mouth.)

This was another fine example of me underestimating them, and them showing me up. 🙂

 

Ahh, Carson is using his spork as something other than a weapon!

 

Attempting proper spork usage.

Fat Lip

This has turned into a rather crappy week — especially for Miss Kate.

When I picked the twins up from Miss Jennifer’s today I was told about an accident involving Kate. She told me that one of the other twins (3 1/2 year olds) tried to pick up Kate and accidentally dropped her on her face…on wood floors!

The older twins at Miss Jennifer’s have become somewhat obsessed with my twins lately. They seem to view them as real-life baby dolls that they try to pick up and carry. Obviously, they aren’t strong enough or coordinated enough to do that. It has Miss Jennifer stressed out, and this has become the last straw for the older twins. The older twins are suppose to start pre-school in the fall, but they are just too rough on the younger kiddos that Miss Jennifer is going to talk to the parents about a much earlier exit for them.

I think that is a good idea. Plus, I think it would benefit the older twins to get out of a home environment and be around kids their own age.

Anyway, so this is Kate’s fat lip. I was told that it was much more swollen than this after it first happened. Kate doesn’t act like it bothers her in anyway, and was in a great mood this evening.

The twins went to Miss Jennifer’s house three days this week instead of two. She gave me a free day as a thank you. I did not like having 3 days in a row without them. The first two days were okay — I did laundry, I went to the grocery store, I took a nap, I cleaned the house. But by this afternoon I was missing them terribly. I am looking forward to having a nice, normal day at home on Friday. 

IgA

On the one year anniversary of the worst day of our lives, it seems painfully ironic that we would receive this news on this particular day.

Kate has a genetic disease (or disorder…depending on the source) called immunoglobulin A deficiency (IgA).

Last Friday Kate had blood work taken to determine if she had food allergies, our pedi also ran an IgA test because Kate seems to have a lot of stomach bugs and other minor ailments. She tested positive.

I am still reseraching this disease/disorder, but what I have found so far is this…

  • About 1 in 333 people have this, so it’s considered relatively common.
  • She was born with it, there is no cure, and she will have it the rest of her life.
  • Her body has an inability to produce IgA which is part of the body’s defenses against infection at the body’s surface (primarily respiratory & digestive). Therefore, bacteria in these locations are more able to cause disease and sickness.
  • Kate will have increased risks to things such as chest colds, urinary tract infections, sinus infections, pneumonia, and possibly developing an autoimmune disease as an adult.
  • Basically, she is likely to get sick more often, it will take her longer to kick infections, and we have to keep a close eye on her to avoid something potentially fatal like pneumonia.

After I freaked out on the phone with the doctor, he assured me that she will be able to live a healthy, active life, and it’s a good thing that we know this about her body. I need to teach her to wash her hands often, keep her hands away from her mouth and nose, never dismiss anything as just a ‘common cold,’ make sure she get plenty of exercise, vitamin C and veggies. He joked that she might be the only kid in her elementary school with a bottle of Purell in her lunchbox.

The good news is that Kate doesn’t have any food allergies and her iron levels look great. Apparently she is over her egg allergy (odd, very odd). So, the twins had their first taste of peanut butter (on crackers), and they absolutely loved it. So now I can add peanut butter to the snack roster. 🙂