Saturday, September 1, 2012

Italian Bean and Barley Soup

Italian Bean and Barley Soup

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1 green pepper, diced
3/4 cup pearl barley, rinsed
5 cups vegetable stock
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained (I use tomatoes from the garden)
1 (8-ounce) can tomateo sauce
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 Bay leaf
1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2/3 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion, garlic, celery, carrots and green pepper and cook, stirring frequently until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.  Scrape the mixture into the slow cooker.

Add barley, stock, beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, parsley, Italian seasoning, and bay leaf into the slow cooker, stir well.

Cook soup on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, until vegetables are tender.  Turn cooker to high, stir in spinach and parmesan cheese, cook for another 30 minutes or so.  Season with salt and pepper, and discard bay leaf.

Serves 6.

Menu Planning - The Rough Draft Edition

I usually menu plan - loosely - but I think I may need to start being a little bit more rigid about it.  We've had too many "staring at the fridge at 5:00 with no idea what to make for dinner" nights, and it is causing me to stress out.  The days I have it all worked out, I feel really competent, like I am on top of things, and it actually gives me MORE time to do other things, because I don't have to spend that half and hour or so frantically searching for something to feed my family.  Menu planning will also ensure that I don't have odd stuff in the cupboard that I bought on sale, with no idea what I am actually going to do with it.

So, here is my plan -

Breakfast - cereal and milk (kids are out with Grandma this morning, so it is just the baby and me)
Lunch - Leftovers for kids, Spinach salad (with chicken) for me.
Dinner - Italian Bean and Barley soup, homemade French bread

Breakfast - Eggs, bacon, & toast with fruit of some sort (we eat this every Sunday.)
Lunch - Leftovers and sandwiches for the kids who don't want what is offered.
Dinner - Potato Pizza Pie, Carrots and peas, tomato salad (for me)

Monday: Labor Day
Breakfast - Oatmeal with fruit & yogurt mixed in
Lunch - Curried Cauliflower soup with pita bread & hummus
Dinner - At my sister-in-law's house, I'll bring Cottage Cheese and Vegetable salad.

Breakfast - Pancakes with syrup and fruit
Lunch - Pita Bread sandwiches, veggies and yogurt
Dinner - Red Beans and Rice, Fruit

Breakfast - Breakfast Sandwiches
Lunch - Cheese Quesadillas, veggies, Black Bean soup
Dinner - Greek Pasta salad, Honey Wheat rolls

Breakfast - Blueberry Applesauce muffins with yogurt and fruit
Lunch - Leftovers and sandwiches, fruit & veggies
Dinner - Salmon, Dill Rice, Carrots and green beans

Breakfast - Scrambled eggs and toast
Lunch - Grilled Cheese sandwiches and Tomato soup
Dinner - My book club night.  I'll make sure that there are pizzas in the freezer for the hubby and the kids.  They'll appreciate it!

Aaaaand back to
Breakfast: Waffles with syrup and toast
Lunch: Leftovers, salad and sandwiches
Dinner: Split Pea Soup with Ham, homemade French bread

Curried Cauliflower Soup

Curried Cauliflower Soup
From the Volumetrics cookbook.

Makes 4 (1 1/2 cup servings)

1 T. Extra-virgin oil
1 1/2 c. halved and sliced onions
1 tsp. curry powder
2 c. vegetable broth
4 c. chopped cauliflowerettes
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. shredded zucchini, (about 2 small)

Heat the oil in a 4- to 5-quart saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onions and curry powder; cover and cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the broth, cauliflower, salt and 2 cups water to the pot.  Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Puree the soup in a blender (or use a wand blender), return to pot.  Reserve 2 Tbsp. of the zucchini.  Add the rest of the zucchini to the pot.  Heat the soup.  Ladle the soup into bowls, and garnish with reserved zucchini.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Pantry clean out time

Full disclosure time:  I sometimes buy groceries that I really haven't made a plan for using.  Sometimes these groceries remain untouched in the freezer or cupboard for MONTHS before I get around to figuring out what to do with them. 

This week my plan (if you could call it that) is to NOT BUY GROCERIES*.  That's right - I'm going to clean out that pantry of the "ingredients" and make room for "food."

That means the pork roast that I plonked into the freezer but then never used because it was so large that it takes so much time to defrost that I just shift it aside for the popcicles will get used (finally.)  Probably a whole bunch of rice too.  I have LOTS of rice. 

*Milk and eggs are exceptions.  We cannot live without milk and eggs in the house.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Party, Party, Party...

We've been in full party mode at the Hearts Residence. Deuce, Jack O'Hearts, and Little 4 are having birthday parties all within 3 weeks of each other. Deuce was easy - she wanted just a sleepover with a couple of friends. Movies, cupcake decorating, popcorn, giggling, and waffles for breakfast. 

You tell that there's a LOT of sugar at that table! 

Jack O'Hearts had an adventure themed party. For that I needed a little more planning. I made State Park type signs to mark the different areas of the backyard and the different activities that we were going to do there. We made a pretty neat-o obsticle course, a stuffed animal safari, crafts, and an ice cream sundae bar.  We finished up the party with s'mores made over the fire pit.
Jack O'Hearts - Adventurer!

Running the obsticle course

Now I'm starting to get the yard ready for Little 4's Carnival Birthday party.  I'll breathe later.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Getting Ready for next school year, part Deuce

So with Ace's stuff all decided, I need to work on Deuce's eighth grade plans.

English - Reading and Composition - I have a program that I actually wrote for Ace, that I'm just going to pass along to Deuce - it's heavy on the Verne, but I think she'll like it.  It has lots of creative opportunities.
Math - Continue with Singapore's NEM1 and move into NEM2 if it comes to that.
Science - I'm on the fence with this one.  I am considering the Connect the Thoughts Upper Level Science 1 Basics - but it does involve a lot of writing.  Not much actual experimenting or anything.  Mostly, it focuses on the scientific method, and I think that will be a good thing for her.  I guess, since I've already bought it, I'll try it and see how it goes.
Social Studies - Deuce would like to try another CLEP class, since she's already passed two of them, so I think we'll work on American Government and Politics.  I taught this a few years ago to Ace, and when she took the AP, she passed with a 5.  Deuce isn't thrilled about the essays involved with the AP, but is willing to try the class as a CLEP course.
Music - The violin will continue.  Deuce is becoming more and more accomplished with her playing.  I'd like to get her working on music theory as well as the lessons.
Art - I am going to attempt a fine art appreciation lesson this year for all the kids.  I will be starting out with Botticelli as our first semester artist, and using the artwork suggestions in Ambleside
Japanese Lanugage - I am very pleased that both Ace and Deuce have been so diligent in their learning of the Japanese Language using Rosetta Stone.  Deuce, particularly, has taken to it.  She also has been using a couple of iPad apps to learn Kanji, hiragana and katakana.  Since I purchased 3 years of Japanese, the kids are going to continue this program as well.

I think that this looks like a very well rounded school year for the girl.  She should still have time for her favorite hobby - hanging out in her bed, reading.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

DIY Highschool

Planning, planning for 2012-2013 school year.  Here is the high school line-up for Ace.

Reading - High School Literature discussion group - This will be Ace's 3rd year.  They read some pretty interesting stuff.
Writing - Finishing up the Other Worlds curriculum, Ace does lots of writing anyway, having finished 2 novels, plus maintaining her blogs.  Additionally, this year Ace wants to take the AP in English Composition, and also the English Language AP.  To train for these tests, we will be using the IEW English Composition and English Language programs.
Arithmetic - NEM 3 (she's verry excited about this!!)
Science - High School Chemistry in Your Home (after finishing up biology this summer.)
History - American History 2 at the local community college. (She's taking part 2 before part 1 because she is taking it with a friend.)
Japanese Language - The Rosetta Stone Japanese Language program is going very well here.  Ace will keep on doing this, especially since I bought three years of it!
Driver's Ed. - EEK! (enough said.)
Rel. Ed. - Ace will be continuing her training as a catechist for Catechisis of the Good Shepherd, Level 1.  Plus, she'll start teaching in her own Atrium.

Yup, that will keep us busy.