Sunday, December 30, 2012

Week 152 Menu

Sunday:  Out for a light supper; there will be a movie night tonight....if they play their cards right, I'll make them some homemade, chocolate-covered popcorn!!
Monday: Snacky food - Individual pizzas (the 4yo can't get enough!!), steamed edamame, Sourdough pretzels, summer sausage/cheese & crackers, apple crisps?
Tuesday: New Year Good Luck food - Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Preserves, Blackeyed pea hummus, sauteed greens
Wednesday: Enchiladas with leftover pork, greens and hummus
Thursday: Pasta with cauliflower pesto (got The Smitten Kitchen cookbook for Christmas...couldn't wait to make something from it!)
Friday: Crockpot baked potatoes with taco toppings
Saturday: Out?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Week 151 Menu

The festivities have already begun for Christmas this year! One set of grandparents and two uncles are already in town! The excitement is growing to a fever pitch!

Sunday: Steak, mashed potato/celery root, green salad, pumpkin pie
Wednesday - Saturday: Family in town; but I suspect we'll eat leftovers (if there are any!!), go out several times and whip up some quick, yummy meals

Christmas Dinner 2012

This year, we're sticking with some old favorites (Snack-y Christmas Eve feast, rib roast, and yummy roasted Brussel sprouts) and adding some new components - namely in the veggie side dishes. I've heard/seen yule logs mentioned in magazines, blogs and podcasts this year and I'm extremely intrigued. I'm lobbying for this to become a new family tradition. I can't even count the different flavor variations we can try for years to come!

I'm looking forward to all of it. I had a great time coming up with the menus!

We'll throw some pictures onto the post after we've created our masterpieces (but before we tear into them!).

Christmas Eve
Individual pizzas
Summer sausage, cheese and crackers
Nut bread topped with cream cheese and olives (or not...depending on your taste )
Creamed Swiss chard
Christmas cookies! Nom, nom!!

Christmas Dinner
Standing Rib Roast
Sweet Potatoes with Maple and Bourbon
Cornbread Stuffing
Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries
Yule log!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Week 150 Menu

150 weeks of menus! Woot, woot! Some call it anal retentive, I call it planning ahead. :) The last full week before the holidays. We'll be eating out of the freezer this week so we don't have to introduce too many more ingredients to the fridge!

Baby Pete has turned up his nose to baby food and is fully integrated to table food. The little beast eats almost as much as his sister! He can really tuck it away, and he's not picky. I say the only food he doesn't like is the food that's too slow coming to his mouth! What's even better is that he's started to grab the food off the high chair tray. So, it gives Mom and Dad a chance to eat their own dinners!

Sunday: Make-your-own pizzas with friends; we also made our own gingerbread houses!! Very fun.
Monday: European Street
Tuesday: Chicken pot pie over quinoa
Wednesday: Italian beef with Publix hoagie rolls.....heaven!!!
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Big spinach salads
Saturday: Out?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Week 149 Menu

Sunday: Steak and sweet potato fries
Monday: Chicken legs in the slow cooker and cornbread
Tuesday: Steak enchiladas
Wednesday: Chicken pot pie over quinoa
Thursday: Leftovers
Saturday: Date night!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

2012 Lawrence Year in Review

Merry Christmas, friends and family! 2012 was an amazing year for the Lawrence family!

Our most exciting news was welcoming our son Peter to the world! He was born March 20th - which is also Scott's birthday! Pete has a set of blue, ladykiller eyes and the nickname "Chunky Monkey." Pete has just learned to crawl. So, we have the challenge of baby-proofing a house full of Shelby's tiny toys and ponytail holders! And, this boy loves to eat! Bananas, carrots, pot roast and even salmon are among his favorites! He is such a low-key, loving, baby. If you say at least two words to him, he's got a huge smile for you!

Shelby turned four this fall. For her birthday, we took a family vacation to Disney World with the Lawrences - Nancy, Dave and Uncle Mike. She had a great time! Shelby waited patiently to take pictures with The Princesses and her favorite characters, rode the new, little roller coaster in Fantasyland, and loved riding Small World with her little brother. She danced in her first recital this summer. She tapped to "Puttin' on the Ritz" in sequins, feathers and tulle. Not many people can say their first stage appearance was to a sell-out crowd in a 450-person theatre! She loves dance and is continuing lessons this year. She also seems to have a natural talent for gymnastics.

Scott has been busy with work this year. He's picked up some extra responsibilities in the northeast region. And, he's traveled to New York several times. Scott dove into the Volkswagen lease program and started driving a Passat this fall. The program allows him to switch out vehicles on fairly often. So, ask him what he's driving on a regular basis! When he has spare time (haha!), Scott continues to take portraits of friends. And, recently, he has started to ride his road bike again with a friend from church.

Bonnie is still loving her job at Volkswagen - and no she's not driving a VW or Audi yet! She took two months off work to stay home with Pete. Bonnie is still cooking up a storm. She's perfected some signature dishes: sourdough pretzels, homemade pizza, and faux Cadbury Creme Eggs. Besides having a baby, Bonnie's biggest accomplishment this year was running a half marathon! She ran in the Thanksgiving Day half marathon through the Mandarin neighborhood. She ran 2:17 - which was better than her goal. Now Bonnie's looking forward to the Donna Deegan half marathon in February!

Week 148 menu

Wow. I didn't post a menu last week! I've put together some pretty questionable menus in the past, but this is a first.

We've had grandparents coming and going, Scott traveled for work last week. And this week is my turn. Luckily, mine is only an overnight trip!

Sunday: out for Mexican
Monday: Christening a new slow cooker with a pot roast!
Tuesday: Grandparents, Dad and kids are on their own!
Wednesday: Pumpkin pancakes
Thursday: Tacos with leftover, shredded pot roast
Friday: Homemade calzones
Saturday: At a friend's house learning about Hanukkah with the kids! Latkes!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Week 147 Menu

Sunday: Pumpkin pancakes
Monday: Baked chicken nuggets
Tuesday: Individual fritatas with miscellaneous veggies (AKA egg cups, as the 4yo calls them!)
Wednesday: Chicken on the grill
Thursday: Cornish game hens with pomegrante molasses, cornbread, orange-glazed carrots, pumpkin pie
Friday - Saturday: At The Villages for the weekend; full turkey dinner on Saturday!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

One Week Left!

One week left to race day! I've run over 100 miles in preparation. I've shaved almost 2 minutes/mile off my 5k! I only have 3 more runs until race day. Last Sunday I ran 10 miles! My longest run......EVER.

I've had a killer cold/sinus infection the past two weeks and haven't been able to run as often as I'd like. I'm getting a little nervous, but I'm still pretty excited. I keep telling myself adrenaline will get me there. After my last two long runs, my hip flexors have been sore and I've been pretty wiped. As a result, we are suspending Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday in favor of a non-traditional pizza dinner or something on the grill.

The race course is in Mandarin and goes along the river for a while. I just hope it doesn't rain! I have a couple friends who are also running their first half marathon. So, this is what peer pressure looks like in your thirties!?

According to the Paul Ryan Marathon Calculator, I should finish in 1hour, 40 minutes! That's only 35 minutes off the women's world record!

Freezer Cooking - November 2012

I've got a couple days off and the freezer is getting bare. Time to do some freezer cooking!

Pizza dough (x4)
Chicken pot pie filling
Chicken, spinach & white bean enchiladas
Spinach pesto
Pretzel dogs with my favorite sourdough pretzel recipe
Chicken stock
Sweet potato, red pepper soup

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Week 146 Menu

Sunday: Asian salmon, kale and purple rice
Monday: Slow cooker ribs and spinach salad
Tuesday: Noodles and spinach pesto
Wednesday: Baked chicken nuggets
Thursday: Spaghetti squash with marinara
Friday: Homemade pizza night!
Saturday: Out.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Week 145 Menu

Sunday: Steaks on the grill and rice
Monday: Yorkshire Pudding with cranberry sauce
Tuesday: Steak & spinach enchiladas
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Baked chicken nuggets
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Out.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Week 144 Menu

I must admit: this is the first menu in weeks I've thoughtfully planned out. Lately, it's been "Ahhh!!! It's Sunday night! What are we going to eat this week!"

Sunday: Roasted chicken and crescent rolls
Monday: Veggie egg cups
Tuesday: Spinach, chicken, & white bean crescent roll-ups
Wednesday: Baked potato in slow cooker
Thursday: Chicken with vegetable kabobs over rice
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Out.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Week 143 Menu

Sunday: M Shack (awesome chefs in town opened a gourmet burger joint at the beach...yum!)
Monday - Wednesday: I'm out of town for work, but I know a trip to Cantina Laredo and Grandma's beef/vegetable soup will be enjoyed!
Thursday: Toad in the hole with new cookie cutters for the hole!!
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Out?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Week 142 Menu

Sunday:  Shrimp on the grill with fried rice
Monday: Taco lettuce cups
Tuesday: Stuffed chicken breast
Wednesday: Baked chicken nuggets
Thursday: Enchiladas
Friday: Take-ou? Getting ready for the party!
Saturday: 4th birthday party! It's a Halloween theme, so we're going to have a lot of spooky, fun food!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Week 141 Menu

Sunday: Fend For Yourself night.....lounging around after getting home from vacation
Monday: Meatballs and marinara
Tuesday: Individual fritatas with CSA veggies
Wednesday: Baked pasta with veggies
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Homemade calzones (it's been on the menu for a couple weeks...we'll get to it yet, I swear!)
Saturday: Out.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Week 140 Menu

Sunday: Red grouper fish sticks and roasted, CSA cabbage
Monday: Asian lettuce cups
Tuesday: Homemade, baked chicken nuggets
Wednesday: leftovers
Thursday-Sunday: Trip to Disneyworld with grandparents to celebrate an (early) 4th birthday!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Week 139 Menu

Sunday: Roasted chicken and orange-glazed carrots
Monday: Individual frittatas with various veggies
Tuesday: Chicken enchiladas
Wednesday: Burgers on the grill with homemade buns
Thursday: Big salads with chicken breast, craisins and balsamic
Friday: Homemade calzones using my favorite pizza dough
Saturday: Out

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Food adventures

Ways to use up over-ripe bananas:
1. Banana bread
2. Smoothies
3. Feed them to Peter Lawrence!

We've just started Pete on solid food with some moderate success!

We started out with carrots and he was "not impressed" (quote from Pete's teacher).

On a whim I gave him a spoonful of my favorite Roasted Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato soup and he gobbled it up! We sent it to school the next two days and he couldn't get enough!

And, today, I mashed up an over-ripe banana and he ate the whole, blessed thing! I lifted the spoon of the bowl, and Pete would excitedly kick his legs and grab for the spoon to "bring it home!"Quite impressive.

Next on the docket will be CSA peas that arrive on Monday night.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Training Day

Ok. This is it! I officially begin to train for my Thanksgiving Day Subaru Distance Classic half marathon on Monday! I am blogging and telling my friends about my intentions (and will post updates on the Twitter) to keep myself accountable. Thank you in advance, friends and family! :)

One of my New Year's resolutions was to get into a regular exercise routine after Pete was born (running a half marathon was one of my 2011 half marathons, but then I got pregnant with Pete!). This should fit the bill for regular exercise! Since I'ver never been the running type, actually finishing a half marathon will be a HUGE accomplishment for me. The race starts at 7am on Thanksgiving Day and my loving family has even agreed to meet me at the finish line!

A local running store has some training schedules for 5k, 15k, and half marathons.

1Rest3 Miles3 Miles3 MilesRest3 Miles4 Miles
2Rest3 Miles3 Miles3 MilesRest3 Miles5 Miles
3Rest3 Miles4 Miles3 MilesRest3 Miles5 Miles
4Rest3 Miles4 Miles3 MilesRest3 Miles6 Miles
5Rest3 Miles4 Miles3 MilesRest3 Miles7 Miles
6Rest3 Miles4 Miles3 MilesRest3 Miles8 Miles
7Rest3 Miles5 Miles3 MilesRest3 Miles9 Miles
8Rest3 Miles5 Miles3 MilesRest3 Miles10 Miles
9Rest3 Miles5 Miles3 MilesRest3 Miles6 Miles
10Rest3 MilesRestRace DayRest3 Miles
3 Miles

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Week 138 Menu

Sunday: Steaks on the grill with with roasted okra and a chili mayonnaise dipping sauce
Monday: Veggie pot pie over quinoa
Tuesday: Noodles with or without marinara (depending on personal taste!)
Wednesday: Chicken and vegetable kabobs with quinoa
Thursday: Homemade chicken nuggets
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Out!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Week 137 Menu

Sunday: Asian salmon and roasted potatoes
Monday: Stuffed Peppers cooked on the grill
Tuesday: Yorkshire pudding with cranberry sauce and Quinoa, Kale, and Avocado Salad
Wednesday: Herbed chicken in the slow cooker and mashed sweet potatoes
Thursday: Roasted butternut squash soup and crusty bread
Friday - Saturday: Grandparents in town! Meal plans are anyone's guess!a

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Week 136 Menu

I just love it when a 3-day weekend sneaks up on you! It's like Christmas for grown-ups!

Sunday: Grilled chicken, roasted veggie quinoa salad, lettuce salad, and oatmeal bars/vanilla ice cream with friends
Monday: Asian lettuce cups (new family favorite!), rice and soft pretzels with more friends
Tuesday: Giant salads with grilled, cajun shrimp
Wednesday: Stuffed peppers (stuffing = leftover meat from lettuce cups, quinoa and various CSA veggies) in the slow cooker
Thursday: Dinner at school's Open House
Friday: Homemade pizza and movie night (I am instating this tradition!)
Saturday: Out.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Week 135 Menu

I've been out of town for work this week. But, Scott and Nancy have been holding down the fort...and eating pretty well! Here's been on the menu:

- Pizza from Mellow Mushroom
- Build-your-own tacos (Shelby loves to help make her own dinner!) and fresh fruit
- Leftover pizza
- Grilled chicken, rice and fruit
- Italian Beef in the slow cooker
- Leftover sandwiches?
- Out

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Week 134 Menu

Sunday: Asian salmon and roasted asparagus
Monday: Chicken enchiladas and red sauce
Tuesday: Pumpkin pancakes with peach/mango smoothies
Wednesday: Spinach salad with chicken
Thursday: Noodles with spinach pesto
Friday: Individual, homemade pizzas
Saturday: Out with Grandma!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Week 133 Menu

Sunday: Slow cooker ribs
Monday: Taco lettuce cups with all the fixins' (requested by the 3-year old!)
Tuesday: Chicken pot pie over quinoa
Wednesday: Pancakes and smoothies
Thursday: Veggie egg cups...encore from last week
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Out.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Week 132 Menu

Sunday: Roasted chicken and roasted asparagus
Monday: Veggie egg cups and smoothies!
Tuesday: Black bean burgers on homemade buns and mashed potatoes
Wednesday: Chicken, strawberry and red onion salad
Thursday: Spinach pesto pasta with roasted onions
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Out with friends.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Week 131 Menu

Sunday: Stuffed peppers (quinoa, assorted veggies)
Monday: Beef stroganoff from freezer with red chard
Tuesday:  Asian Lettuce Cups
Wednesday: Balsamic chicken salads
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Individual pizzas
Saturday: Out

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Soft Sourdough Pretzels

I've been excited to use my new sourdough starter. You have to "feed" the starter every week and discard a cup's worth of the stuff to keep the starter going. So sad to throw it away! When I saw this recipe on the King Arthur Flour website calling for a cup of that discarded starter, I was excited! Boy, do I love soft pretzels. They are my favorite treat at a ballgame - with some neon orange plastic cheese to dip them in, of course.

According to the other bakers, the recipe as published on the website makes more of a pretzel bread/roll, rather than the traditional twisted soft pretzel. I took their advice to boil the pretzel before cooking it in a super-hot oven. That step gave the pretzel a crisp outside while keeping the inside soft and tender. Heaven! I didn't have any pretzel salt, but still was blown away by the results! These pretzels will be baked frequently in my house. So, I may try to find some of those giant granules of salt to keep on hand!

Sourdough Pretzel
from King Arthur Flour

Pretzel Dough
3/4 c lukewarm water
1 c unfed sourdough starter, straight from the refrigerator
3 c flour
3T almond milk
1 T sugar
1 T vegetable oil1
1/2 t salt
2 tsp instant yeast
2/3 c baking soda
1 egg, beaten for egg wash

Pretzel salt
2 T melted butter, optional

1. Mix the dough ingredients into a smooth dough. It will be sticky.
2. Cover the dough and let it rest for 45 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add baking soda.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface, fold it over a few times to gently deflate it, then divide it into 12 pieces (24 pieces for pretzel "knots").
5. Roll each piece of dough into an 18" rope. Shape each rope into a pretzel.
6. In batches, drop pretzels into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Place boiled pretzels on a greased cookie sheet.
7. Brush tops of pretzels with egg wash, and bake for 14 minutes (10-12 in convection oven), until they're a light golden brown.
8. Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush with melted butter, if desired.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Week 130 Menu

Sunday: Low country boil with local shrimp, corn & potatoes!
Monday: Roasted Butternut soup and homemade sourdough bread (with new sourdough starter!!)
Tuesday: Caribbean Jerk chicken in slow cooker
Wednesday: Veggie/parmesan frittata with roasted cauliflower
Thursday: Stuffed peppers (stuffed with quinoa, zucchini and cauliflower) in slow cooker
Friday: Leftovers?
Saturday: Out

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Week 129 Menu

Sunday: Burgers on the grill
Monday: Leftover pizza
Tuesday: BBQ turkey sandwiches
Wednesday: Pancakes
Thursday: Beef stroganoff over noodles and CSA peas
Friday: Leftover turkey
Saturday: Out.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Freezer Cooking - July 2012

It's been ages since I did a big freezer cooking extravaganza. But, thanks to my (at one time) full freezer, I didn't stress out over dinner when Pete was born. But, now it's time to replenish! I have a few days off so I'll tackle as much as I can without

Much of my plan includes long simmers on the stove, hours of dough rising time, or the slow cooker. So, the active, prep time will be minimal for so much food to have at the ready!

Pizza dough x3
Hamburger/hot dog buns x2
Marinara sauce
Chicken stock (a turkey AND a chicken carcass to use!)
Asian lettuce wrap filling x2
Red sauce
Stuffed shells (testing out a dairy-free solution)
Carrot Mac and Cheese
Cook a batch of white beans for hummus and the freezer

Week 128 Menu

It's been so hot lately (not news, I understand). We've been on a smoothie tear with fresh mangoes, bananas and strawberries. I suspect the smoothie will return a couple times this week for a reprise!

Sunday: Eli's Asian salmon and rice (the three-year old's request!)
Monday: Roasted whole chicken with cranberry sauce and roasted zucchini
Tuesday: Homemade BBQ chicken pizza
Wednesday: Dinner at church
Thursday: BBQ Thanksgiving Dinner wraps (I fell in love with the cranberry/BBQ sauce combo!)
Friday: Grandparents in town! Steak and roasted potatoes
Saturday: Out with Babas?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Week 127 Menu

Sunday: Grilled chicken sandwiches on homemade rolls and sweet potato fries (family request!)
Monday: Black bean burgers on homemade rolls
Tuesday: Meatball subs on homemade hoagie rolls (1 batch of rolls, three dinners! Ha!)
Wednesday: Hopefully BBQ with friends!!
Thursday: Chicken, sweet potato and black bean wraps
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Out.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Blueberry Muffins

If you've been following the weather in Florida for the past month, you'll know that we've had a lot of rain - in Biblical proportions. That being said, we've spent a lot of time stuck in the house. And, weekend after weekend, it's hard to keep a very rambunctious three-year old entertained. 

We've taken to cooking together to pass some time. I don't do much baking (much to Scott's dismay), but we did make these muffins....and you should, too! This recipe is a master muffin recipe. You can add any flavors you want. We chose classic blueberry with fresh, juicy blueberries! When you fill up the muffin tin to the top, they bake off to have that perfect coffee house, muffin spill-over.

We made one batch for ourselves and one batch for all the teachers at the kids' school. They were a big hit - at home and at school!! Pete's teacher said, "Those aren't the Martha White muffin mix crap with freeze-dried blueberries that I make. Those are homemade - with real blueberries!"

Blueberry Muffins
from Three Many Cooks

Makes 1 dozen large, 18 medium, and 4 dozen mini muffins as well as 4 mini quick-bread loaves

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups applesauce
1 pint blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (or 450 degrees for mini muffins).
2. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. 
3. Beat in eggs. 
4. Alternating 1/3 at a time, beat in the dry ingredients and applesauce until a smooth, thick batter just forms. 
5. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray. Divide batter evenly among the cups with a 1/2-cup measure (fill it up to the top!). 
6. Bake muffins 25 minutes (18 min for a convection oven) or until golden brown, . 
7. Set pan on a wire rack to cool slightly, remove muffins and continue to cool or serve.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Week 126 Menu

Sunday: Organic rib eye steaks and roasted mushrooms
Monday: Stuffed shells
Tuesday: Meatball subs on homemade hoagie rolls
Wednesday: Dinner at church
Thursday: Stuffed peppers in the slow cooker (stuffing = quinoa, cilantro, sweet potato, carrot)
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Out.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Baked Oatmeal Bars

I was on Pinterest wasting time browsing when I came across these baked oatmeal bars. I'm always up for a quick, on-the-go, healthy, filling breakfast item/treat. The blog I pulled the recipe from said these were less like granola bars than they were like oatmeal cookies. AND, they don't have any dairy?! You have my attention!

They were really good! With only 1/4-cup of sugar, they're pretty low-calorie yet filling. I might try a little less milk next time as they were pretty moist. But, they do hold together pretty well after a day.

Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg, or 1 T ground flax mixed with 3 T boiling water (let sit for 5 minutes until thickened)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup craisins


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8 x 8 baking pan.
2. Combine oats, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
3. Add milk substitute, egg, applesauce, sweetener, and vanilla.  Mix well.
4. Stir in dried fruit.
5. Put batter into pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Allow bars to cool completely, then cut into bars.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Week 125 Menu

Sunday: Father's Day BBQ at a friend's house; I'm bringing crescent rolls and SweeTart Quinoa Salad
Monday: Strawberry Orange Ginger Kale Salad with chicken
Tuesday: BBQ Cranberry Chickpea Wraps
Wednesday: Dinner at church
Thursday: Butternut and Sweet Potato Soup (with CSA veggies!) and homemade rustic bread
Friday: Burgers on the grill with homemade hamburger buns - the family needed a meat entree after a veggie-heavy week! :)
Saturday: Out.

Monday, June 11, 2012


What's the best part of dinner? Usually the dinner rolls. Seriously!...Hear me out! There's always a big bowl of them and you always end up grabbing another one absentmindedly. You too? Or am I alone here? In my attempt to decrease the amount of processed food our family consumes, I have stopped buying pre-made rolls in the refrigerated section. It's not an easy thing because I LOVE to pop open those little tubes of dough!

But, I'll tell you what's an easy thing: these rolls. Like all yeast breads, there's only a little active prep time and a lot of rising time. So, you will definitely need to plan ahead if you want to make them for dinner. But, your reward will be great!

I made the full recipe. But, before the second rise (after the rolls are formed), I popped 16 of them into the freezer to enjoy later. I made my usual substitutes: whole wheat flour in for half the amount of flour called, almond milk in for cow's milk and vegan butter.

from This Week for Dinner

1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
3/4 teaspoon salt
4-4 1/2 cup flour (up to half substituted with wheat flour)

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup hot tap water and let stand for 10 minutes.
3. Mix all the ingredients except the flour. Slowly mix in the flour. 
4. Knead dough for about 5 minutes (either on counter or in mixer). 
5. Let rise to double in size in a bowl covered with a clean towel (about an hour or so).
6. Punch dough down. Divide into two. Roll each piece of dough into a large, thin circle (1/8″ – 1/4″). Cut the dough like pizza into 16 pieces (you will end up with 32 rolls total). 
7. Roll each piece from the large end of the triangle and place on an ungreased cookie sheet or a silpat-lined cookie sheet with the tip tucked down and under the roll. 
8. Let rise again until about double in size.
9. Bake for 12 minutes or until browned on top and bottom (6-8 min in a convection oven).

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Week 124 Menu

Sunday: Eli's Asian Salmon and sautéed kale (with ginger and garlic)
Monday:  Meatballs and pasta
Tuesday: Individual pizzas with tons of pepperoni and black olives for everyone!
Wednesday: Dinner at church.
Thursday: French Onion Soup (Smitten Kitchen)
Friday: Bistro Chicken (TWFD)....gotta see what all the fuss is about! :)
Saturday: Out.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Week 123 Menu

Sunday: Birthday dinner for Grandpa - steaks and corn on the grill, sweet potato fries, homemade birthday cake
Monday - Tuesday: Grandpa and Grandma still here....plans are still up in the air!
Wednesday: Dinner at church
Thursday: Stuffed shells and roasted carrot and zucchini sticks
Friday: Shredded chicken tacos with blackened corn kernels/potato
Saturday: Out for dinner.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Rough Week

It's was a rough start of the week for all the Lawrences.

Scott: Tweaked his back and was walking (shuffling) like an old man.

Pete: Going through a growth spurt and eating non-stop.

Bonnie: Caught Pete's cold and has lost her voice. Also, she's facilitating Pete's growth spurt with increased overnight feedings.

Shelby: Wet her bed (couldn't make it to the potty because there were monsters on the floor) and spilled her cereal.

Good thing it's only a four-day week!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Week 122 Menu

Sunday: Hurricane party at our house! Pork tenderloin roulade with roasted potatoes and corn on the grill; strawberry rhubarb crisp with vanilla ice cream for dessert (we brought this to a friend's house last night, ate it all up, and I decided we needed a reprise!)
Monday: Pork fajitas (with all the fixins) and caramelized brussel sprouts
Tuesday: Herbed chicken legs in the slow cooker with mashed sweet potato
Wednesday: Mellow Mushroom pizza with small group at church (I'll have a little vegan pizza)
Thursday: Kale frittata and roasted mushrooms
Friday - Saturday: Grandparents in town!

I'm going to try these guys out for snacks/breakfasts on the go: Baked Oatmeal Bars

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Week 121 Menu

Back to work for me! So, back to the world of quickly-prepared dinners! Glad I stocked up that freezer! We're currently on our way back home from Disney so I'm doubly glad we had stuff in the freezer to rely on!

Sunday: Back from vacation. FFY.
Monday: Eggplant Parmesan
Tuesday: Stuffed shells from freezer
Wednesday: Dinner at church
Thursday: Italian Beef in slow cooker
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Out

Thursday, May 17, 2012

English Muffins

I was looking at the recipes I've posted over the past couple years and I realized I've tried out quite a few "active yeast" recipes: sandwich bread, pizza dough, hamburger buns. My latest attempt is English Muffins. They are one of my favorite breakfast foods! I found the recipe on Pinterest. I followed the link to a blog focused on how tasty and cheap homemade food can be. She priced out English Muffins to be $0.08 per serving! Whoa!

These muffins take very minimal active preparation time and a lot of time waiting for the dough to rise....perfect for a girl taking care of a 2-month old! I've found the key to a good active yeast bread/dough is don't rush it: 1. letting the yeast bloom in warm water for 10 minutes before adding it to the flour and 2. allowing the dough enough time to rise properly.

I've made the English Muffins a few times now. This time they really turned out great! I learned a few things:
    - Even after letting the dough rise the correct amount of time, I still didn't have big "nooks and crannies" inside the muffins. I guess it's a trade secret that requires special machinery and engineering to make! So, I'm not too disappointed!
    - I also made sure both sides of the muffin were generously coated with non-stick spray. That way the muffins had a nice, crisp surfaces.
    - And, this time I used a large biscuit cutter. When I formed them by hand, the English Muffins ended up looking like a hamburger bun.
    - I substituted in almond milk and vegan butter and it turned out just difference in taste.

English Muffins
from Budget Bytes

1 t active dry yeast
1 T sugar
1/2 c milk
2 T butter
3 c flour, divided
3/4 t
1/4 c cornmeal
Non-stick spray

1. In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and 1/2 cup of warm water. Stir to dissolve the sugar and yeast. Let sit about 5 minutes or until foamy on top.

2. Combine 1.5 cups of the flour and salt in a stand mixer. 

3. Combine the milk and butter in a small bowl. Microwave the milk/butter for 30 seconds, stir and microwave again for 30 seconds until butter is melted. 

4. Pour the yeast and milk mixtures into the flour. Mix until it has combined into a pasty mix. Adding 1/4 cup at a time, stir in more flour until the dough forms a soft, slightly sticky ball that pulls away from the bowl. Knead for an additional 5 minutes.

5. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a bowl that has been coated in non-stick spray. Lightly spray the top of the dough and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until double in size (about 45 min - 1 hr).

6. Punch the dough down, shape it into another ball, cover the bowl/dough and let rise a second time until doubled in size (another 45 min - 1 hr).

7. Punch down the dough again and turn it out onto a well floured countertop. Using a rolling pin, lightly roll the dough until it is about 3/4 inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter, cut the dough into circles. When you can't cut out any more circles, gently ball the remaining dough, roll again and cut more.

8. Place the cut dough circles onto a sheet pan that has been liberally covered in cornmeal. Sprinkle more cornmeal on top of the muffins. Cover loosely with a damp towel and let rise, once more, until double in size (another 45 minutes).

9. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Spray the pan with non-stick spray. Carefully transfer the fluffy, risen muffins to the hot skillet with a spatula (be careful not to deflate the muffins too much). 

10. Cook the muffins, in batches, in the skillet until they are golden brown and crispy on each side (~7 min per side). Let the muffins cool on a wire rack before attempting to slice open.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Corn Report

As you know, I grew up in Northern Illinois. For people not familiar with Illinois, I say my hometown is "outside Chicago." Close enough for most. For those who know Illinois geography, I'm more specific: Rockford. To the amusement of my brother, Rockford's motto is "A Different Kind of Greatness*." Makes you feel like you're living in a top-notch town, eh? But, I digress....

You didn't have to drive too far out of town to be surrounded by soybean and corn fields. I'm not sure how it started, but after Jamie and I moved away, my parents would give us the "corn report" throughout the summer. It included language to describe the corn analogous to a wine tasting. It became somewhat of a family joke to wait for that corn report!

This weekend, we cooked up our first Florida corn of the season. Shelby hasn't eaten corn on the cob yet, but I had a feeling she would love eating right off the cob. So, I bought an ear just for her. We asked if she wanted some corn and she sneered at it. We insisted she try some of Daddy's. After one bite, her eyes got wide, she declared it good and wanted her own ear. Just as we thought!

Scott has gotten really good at grilling corn on the cob on his grill. The first few attempts yielded mealy corn. Scott researched the issue and found the secret: soak the corn beforehand. And, man oh man, that made all the difference!

Corn on the Cob

1 ears of corn per person - still in the husk
Kitchen twine

1. Peel husks back from ear of corn, but keep them attached!
2. Soak ears of corn in large pot of water for 30 - 60 minutes.
3. Dry off corn, spread butter on ears and season with salt.
4. Wrap corn back up in the husk. Secure with twine.
5. Cook on grill over indirect heat until husks are charred - about 12 minutes.

* I have the same amusement with Winn Dixie's motto: "Getting Better all the time." In my head I hear: "We know we suck, but we're working on it, ok?" And, then there's Publix's motto: "We will never knowingly disappoint you." To me it's "We just aren't smart enough to tell if we've offended you in any way." Mottos shouldn't be self-deprecating. I'm just saying.......

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Week 120 Menu

Sunday: Pork loin roulade (stuffed with greens, quinoa, and craisins), corn on the grill and salad
Monday: Garlic parmesan chicken from freezer with roasted broccoli
Tuesday: Eggplant Parmesan (cheese-less for me) and peas
Wednesday: Dinner at church
Thursday: Beef stroganoff (from freezer) and leftover eggplant parmesan with veggies
Friday - Sunday: Disneyworld!

On my last week of maternity leave, I'll be making up some "goodies" to have on hand:
  - Packets of dried beans cooked up and ready for hummus/enchiladas/etc!
  - English muffins
  - Enchilada sauce
  - Hamburger/hot dog buns

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ditch the Cow

Peter is seven weeks old and I haven't even talked about him here since he was born! It's hard to write a blog post one-handed! He is a GREAT baby. He's much lower-key than his sister - I love you Shelby, but, man oh man, you were a demanding baby! My only complaint is that his little digestive system can't handle cow's milk. And, that means Mama can't have any dairy. Say WHAT????

No milk, cheese, yogurt, chocolate, or ice cream??? OMG. WTF. Dairy is everywhere. Read some of your labels and you'd be surprised where you'll find it: our go-to pancake mix, granola bars (even non-chocolate ones), meatballs (parmesan, remember?). My boss put it the best, "That must be really hard for a foodie like you." You would think so. No doubt it's a huge change. But, with the vegan movement becoming so popular, cutting dairy out is probably a lot easier now than Mamas had it in the past.

I turned to the vegans for help because they are experts at eating delicious food without dairy! There seems to be a lot of focus on satisfying the new vegan's craving for dairy since that is harder to cut out the diet than meat (in my personal opinion). With the dairy cut out, I'm figuring I'm only one documentary away from becoming a full-fledged vegan (I am very susceptible to their scare tactics!). But, I have a freezer full of chicken and cheese (more on that later). When that stash depletes, we'll see what happens.

Cooking for a "blended family:" Shelby and Scott LOVE their cheese. So, now I prepare a lot of individual portions for dinner: pizzas, casseroles, sauces to accommodate both parties.

Snacking: I love to grab a yogurt or cheese/crackers for an easy, healthy snack. Now, I find myself grabbing carbs for a snack. It's a lot of empty calories for not so filling of a snack. I guess I should listen to Mom and "grab a piece of fruit" for a snack. Funny enough, I find myself pushing fruit on Shelby for a quick snack, too. Maybe Mom was right?

Freezer Stash: I've been known to be a bit organized. And, I've also been known to cook up a storm to put up in my freezer. So, needless to say, my freezer was full when Pete made his arrival. Unfortunately, that freezer was full of dishes that contain dairy: ricotta-stuffed shells, parmesan-laden meatballs, pizza dough to be a vehicle for get the idea.

Good Things (Unexpected or Otherwise)
Taking off the Baby Weight: While not being able to eat dairy is a big change, it's also great for not being able to easily grab a mountain of ice cream at night. And, while an extremely tasty ingredient in many dishes, cheese can add a lot of fat and calories....if used properly, of course. :)

Almond Milk: A lot yummier than I thought it might be. Also, it contains twice the calcium of cow milk. Seriously! Who knew!

Creativity in the Kitchen: Recently, I've been eating a lot of greens (kale/spinach/chard), roasted vegetables and grains (polenta, quinoa). And, I've been eating them in some delicious combinations. Fantastic!

Vegan resources:
    - Ellen DeGeneres & Portia de Rossi became vegans and hired a personal chef - Roberto Martin. He is not a vegan chef by training, but adapted many recipes to eliminate the animal products. The title of his book hooked me: Vegan Cooking for Carnivores. He's got some incredibly tasty and filling food!
    - Vegans are avid bloggers. And, they have some great dairy-free substitutes for popular dishes. Also, my favorite cooking blogs often tag their posts as "Vegan" or "Vegetarian." So, it's easy to find new ideas.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Week 119 Menu

Sunday: Birthday dinner for my dad - pork chops, baked apples, green bean fries, salad, and chocolate cake!
Monday: Yorkshire pudding with cranberry sauce
Tuesday: Dry BBQ rub chicken thighs in slow cooker with oven-baked pearl onion poppers (experiment!)
Wednesday: Dinner at church
Thursday: Chicken thigh with cranberry sauce and roasted broccoli
Friday: leftovers
Saturday: Out

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Green Bean Fries

Ahhh. The spring growing season is in full force here in Florida! I have learned to eat a lot of Florida's locally-grown fare: greens, kale, brussel sprouts,..yum!! We also get giant bags of green beans. The beans are huge and fantastic, but there's only so many boiled green beans a family can eat!

Cue the green bean fry! Truly you can make a "fry" out of any vegetable, but the shape of the green bean lends itself perfectly to a fry! I've made tempura-battered green beans before, but it's messy, oily, and tedious to fry them in small batches (but also quite yummy!). So, instead, let's try oven-baked fries. And, people, I believe we have a winner!!! I made them this weekend and they were so good that they were requested again for later that week! I believe we will be eating a lot of these guys this summer!

Green Bean Fries

1/2 lb green beans, washed and trimmed
1 c breadcrumbs
1/2 c flour
2 eggs
2 T water

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Set up a breading station: flour in one bowl, eggs and water in another, and breadcrumbs in a Ziploc bag.
3. Cover beans in flour (shake off excess). Roll in egg wash, then toss in the breadcrumb bag. Shake up bag to coat beans.
4. Lay out fries on a wire rack over a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until crispy and golden brown.

Serve hot with any choice of dipping sauces.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Week 118 Menu

Sunday: Pasta with  butter and green bean fries
Monday: Lasagna roll-ups from the freezer and roasted potatoes/onions
Tuesday: Roasted acorn squash with cinnamon apples and couscous
Wednesday: Dinner at church
Thursday: Vegetable soup and rustic white bread
Friday: Enchiladas (chicken for them, vegan for me)
Saturday: Out.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Week 117 Menu

Sunday: Chicken/tofu Pad Thai
Monday: Individual homemade pizzas with a variety of toppings and jicama slaw (inspired by the Cantina Laredo side I had on Saturday)
Tuesday: Baked Polenta Pie (Two Peas) with oven fries (featuring Peter Wilcox potatoes from the CSA!)
Wednesday: Dinner at church
Thursday: Husband at work dinner; for the girls - Smashed Chickpea and Avocado salad in a bread bowl (my spin on Two Peas' recipe) and roasted carrots from CSA
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Out

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Week 116 Menu

Sunday: Pasta, meatballs and Braised celery
Monday: Engine 2 vegetable lasagna from freezer
Tuesday: Beef soup from freezer with Rustic white bread (goodLife Eats) and Vegan green bean casserole
Wednesday: Dinner at church
Thursday: Chicken Pot Pie (maybe extras for the freezer??) with stuffed baked potatoes
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Out? Friends over?

   - Sweet and salty roasted chickpeas
   - Roasted butternut squash, kale, tomatoes (all with mustard vinaigrette) for salads and wraps
   - English muffins...big hit last week!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cadbury Creme Eggs

What says Easter better than a Cadbury Creme Egg? And, seriously, how long will they continue to show the same Cadbury Chicken audition commercial from the '90s? It is pretty funny, though.

You know I love me some Pinterest - mostly just to kill some time. But, every once in a while, you see something you simply must make. And,  homemade Cadbury Creme Eggs fall in that category. Creme Eggs are Scott's favorite Easter candy. So, of course, I had to give them a shot!

I get a little nervous with candy/dessert recipes. I much prefer to cook something more on the savory side. But, this recipe is very easy to get great results just like the real thing! The taste is pretty spot-on.

- I first made a small batch. The source recipe calls to dip the eggs in chocolate twice. But, Scott said it was too much chocolate.....did you hear me? Too much chocolate??!! Can there be such a thing? They were quite tasty, but there was a lot more chocolate than the Cadbury originals (but incredibly yummy!!). My second attempt I only dipped them once, and it tasted a bit more authentic.
- If you are hand-shaping the eggs, the shape won't be completely egg-shaped like the Cadbury originals, but who the heck cares??!! You have a tray of Cadbury Creme Eggs!!!
- I only had dark corn syrup on hand. The "egg whites" were a bit off-white, but the taste was still great.
- After rolling out 8 eggs, the bowls of dough (for lack of a better word) started to get soft. So, every 8 eggs, I popped the tray of formed eggs and dough back into the fridge to firm up.
- The vanilla was a bit overpowering, so I decreased the amount.

Cadbury Creme Eggs
from A Way to His Heart

1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups powdered sugar
4 drops yellow food coloring
2 drops red food coloring
8 oz. milk chocolate chips
1.5 Tbsp shortening

1. Combine the corn syrup, butter, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl. Beat well with an electric mixer. Add sugar, one cup at a time, mixing by hand after each addition. 
2. Remove about 1/3 of the mix and place in a small bowl. Add yellow and red food coloring and stir. Cover both mixes and refrigerate at least 2 hours. 
3. When mixes are firm, roll a small ball from the orange filling and wrap around it a portion of the white filling that is twice that size. Form into the shape of an egg and place onto a cookie sheet that has been brushed with shortening. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Refrigerate 3 to 4 hours. 
4. Combine chocolate chips with shortening in glass bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Then stir and microwave for another minute. 
5. Use a fork to dip each center into the chocolate. Place candy onto wax paper to dry. Refrigerate until chocolate is set.
6. If all the eggs haven't been devoured immediately, store in fridge until ready to eat.
Makes about 26 1.5 inch eggs.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Week 115 Menu

Looks like I'm not doing a lot of cooking this week. I feel kind of bad, but we have great friends and I will take the help while it's offered!

Sunday: Steaks on the grill, homemade rolls, roasted brussel sprouts, pumpkin pie (so not an "Easter dessert," but a family favorite!)
Monday: Friend bringing over Garlic Parmesan Chicken!
Tuesday: Another friend bringing Chicken Artichoke Pasta Bake!
Wednesday: Dinner at church
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Probably more leftovers!
Saturday: Chicken & Dumplings, biscuits and green beans from a friend

Since I'm home for lunch during maternity leave, I'm trying to have some healthy options around the house. So, I'm making (or have already made this weekend):
- Black bean hummus with various crudite
- Rustic white bread
- English muffins
- Roasted butternut squash, roasted cherry tomatoes & sautéed swiss chard for wraps

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Welcome, Peter!

Peter Scott Lawrence was born on Tuesday, March 20th at 5:51pm. He was 7 lbs, 6oz. March 20th is special not only because it's the first day of spring, but it's also Scott's birthday! Who could ask for a better present!

While Pete was born on Tuesday, his birth story really begins the Friday before. I had my 38-week appointment with my doctor on Friday. Peanut was still sideways. He wasn't quite ready, but the doctor thought we might have a baby sometime that next week. I am an engineer by training and nature. So, I am not a superstitious girl. But, I do subscribe wholly to Murphy's Law. I went back to work, went grocery shopping, and prepared a menu for the following week. I also hedged my bet: got my toes painted (since I hand't been able to see them for 8 weeks) and put Baba Randy & Gemma on standby for the next week.

Monday morning: I went to work - same as usual. I prepared my weekly reports - same as usual. But, something wasn't quite right. I've had contractions since 28 weeks. But, those that morning were a bit stronger and a regular 10 minutes apart. I drank a bottle of water (the OB's remedy for everything), walked around, and gave it an hour. The contractions didn't subside. So I went in to the doctor. She said Peanut was in position and I was indeed in labor! Baba Randy and Gemma decided to make the trip to Jacksonville the next day canceling a tee time. :)

Tuesday morning: The doctor said things have definitely progressed! She sent me across the street to be admitted to the hospital. We were having a baby today! Scott and I met at the hospital, called all Babas, gave a heads-up to daycare and tried to quickly mentally prepare for Peanut's arrival. :)

I was a little gun shy about getting an epidural because there was no joy during Shelby's delivery. Things got pretty intense pretty quickly, and I opted to take my chances. This epidural took famously. While still not a pleasant experience, my pain relief expectations were met making it tolerable! Then, at 5:51pm, Peter was born! He was a bit stunned right after birth. After 5 minutes (but what seemed like forever!), he started to perk up.

We are so blessed to have a very healthy, happy little boy and his helpful and reverent big sister.