Friday, March 29, 2013

Spring break and we're all under one roof

Scenario: Andrew is home for spring break and Ian blew in Tuesday night for a surprise three day visit. Mom and Dad are in hog heaven, it's beyond wonderful to have both our sons home at the same time.

Ian came bearing gifts - he never forgets his mom's once a year craving
Peeps! It wouldn't be Easter without them. 

While we're all having a great time being together - talking, laughing, guys watching basketball, eating and let's not forget basket upon basket of dirty laundry - yesterday was an exercise in ... something. I can't come up with a good word for it so I will just tell the story. I actually wrote this last night so if the "time frame" seems a bit off that's why. 

Since Ian has to go back to Tennessee tomorrow I was determined to fix him a “good” home cooked meal. He cooked for us the night before so I figured it was only right for me to return the favor. There was an issue though - what should I fix? Most of our usual standby favorites had already been eaten earlier in the week and the only thing left was Italian. Spaghetti was out since Andrew and Dale aren't real fans of it and I didn't want pizza. What was left? How about lasagna? Hmm, well why not, especially since I make a pretty good lasagna (oops, excuse the boasting).

I must tell you, I have a hard time calling it lasagna because my grandmother, God rest her soul, always referred to it as BASAGNA!

So, basagna it is! I didn't have any of the ingredients on hand and would have to stop at Kroger on the way home from picking up Eddie. I usually avoid taking him grocery shopping with me because ... well he totally distracts me (and for the record it's not just him that I don't like taking grocery shopping, husband and sons drive me crazy at the grocery store too,) and he comments on every single item that I buy. Shopping with Eddie makes me feel like I'm being scrutinized and judged for my food choices. I'm not sure why I let an eleven year old make me feel guilty for buying Cheetos and wine, I guess I might have issues. Annnyway, sometimes I just have to grit my teeth and do what needs to be done. This was one of those times.

I'll go ahead and admit that I had a goal in mind for this meal. A) it had to wow my guys and convince them  that mommy really can cook and B) I needed to at least match, if not surpass, my own son's gourmet cooking skills. (He cooked for us the night before and it was delicious. I'll admit he didn't get his cooking skills from me, it's from watching all those cooking shows over the years. Is it sad that I was making it into a competition with my own kid? Wow, maybe I really do have ISSUES!)  Anyway, regular old lasagna wasn't going to win it for me, I needed to ramp it up a notch to get the desired results. So, I picked up several little extras to give my meal a little oomph. Extras such as adding Italian sausage to the ground beef, saute'd mushrooms as a topping, a whole loaf of hot, buttery garlic bread instead of our usual Texas toast, and the icing on the cake … err, that would be pie. Yes! I was serving dessert. Key lime pie. Yum!

Lasagna is not a meal that can be prepared in twenty minutes, it takes a lot of time so we rushed home from Kroger so could I began fixing dinner right away. It's not like there's only a small window of time that we're allowed to eat in but Andrew is used to eating in the cafeteria at school around 5pm. It's always hard for him to come home and have to wait for mom and dad's 6:30 to 7 dinner hour, so when he and his brother are home I try to have dinner ready earlier than usual. So far this week I've failed miserable at this but I figured tonight, if I could stay focused and stick to my plan, I'd actually might be able to pull it off.

Well, you know what they say about what we want and what actually happens. Midway through the meal prep things started going south ...

First the phone rings and it's my mother. I almost didn't take the call because she rarely calls me unless she's having troubles with her computer. I'm the go to guy for computer and tv problems which really aren't earth shattering problems and I figured the call could wait til after dinner. But something told me I better answer anyway. Good call. It was worse than a computer problem, she's lost her purse. She was trying not to panic but I could hear it in her voice, she was close to the edge.

I tried to calm her down, asked questions and encouraged her to keep looking, all while I'm finishing up browning meat and mixing the sauce. I'm getting close to the point where I need two hands to start assembling the dish. I'm trying to figure out how to get off the phone without upsetting her more when I look up and see the cat dipping her paw into the can where I just poured the grease from the frying pan. Second later Eddie comes in and wants to heat up his food in the microwave. No! You CANNOT put a metal thermos in the microwave and no, I don't have time to explain why. Yikes! Everybody STOP and let me cook. Please! I finally disconnected from the phone call, got the kid fed and shooed the cat away. Hopefully this will be the last of the distractions. If not, all bets are off that we'll manage to eat before nine o'clock.

Fortunately everything else came together just fine and despite the hectic-ness (that is so not a word but I'm using it anyway) dinner turned out great. We all stuffed ourselves and still had enough left over for another meal. But now, I have a stomach ache. I'm not sure if it's from the rich and spicy food. Or, it might be from overeating, or maybe the stress of trying to pull it all together. It's probably a combination of all of the above. I hate when I put so much unnecessary stress on myself by trying to make things perfect.

These days our family times together are few and far between. I need to learn to relax and make the most of what time we do have. I need to remember what's most important is not so much what we eat or what we do but simply being together.

I'm glad to report that my mother found her missing purse (and for the record it wasn't lost it was just misplaced), the cat did not throw up from eating grease, I've got a four day weekend coming up, AND tomorrow my husband and I celebrate 26 years of marriage. Yay for us!

Darn it all, I didn't take one photo of my perfect meal. Boo! But, here's what Ian served us the night before. Doesn't it look good?

After graduation Andrew can join us with a glass of wine, 35 days and counting.
Actually, after graduating two sons I think Dale and I deserve a bottle of champagne!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home

Time for a confession ... I just ate the most unhealthiest of lunches. And it was soooo good!

My usual lunch fare is a turkey or roast beef sandwich on toasted, swiss-cheese-topped hoagie bread. Sounds yummy, huh? Well, it is. It's also full of calories.

Lately it's been impossible to hide that fact that my mid-section has become quite

... how shall I put it?


Oh, who am I kidding - I'm fat! But, living this life of fluffy-fattness isn't making me very happy so I've decided to make a few changes, starting with my lunch fare. I purposely didn't buy any deli meat at the grocery store this weekend. Also gone is the white hoagie bread buns.

So, what does one turn to for lunch options when the mainstay has been eliminated? Well, how about leftovers from the previous night's dinner? That's great when you're eating leftover veggies and such but dinners at my house aren't always on the right side of healthy. Sometimes I go for easy, yummy, and I-don't-care-how-many-calories-I'm-eating dinners. Last night was one of those nights. We had Brinner (that's breakfast served as dinner for the uninitiated) which consisted of waffles (sugar free syrup for the hubs, of course), scrambled eggs, bacon, and grits.

Fortunately or not, depending on what you think about day-old rubbery eggs and hockey-puck-hard grits, the only leftover was baconPhoto

Whenever I cook bacon I always fix way more than we can eat at one sitting. I then refrigerate it for later use in salads, as a topping on a casserole, seasoning in green beans, etc. Today however, I decided to toss tradition to the wind and reheated the bacon for my lunch. Thirty seconds in the microwave and it was as good as the night before. Apparently the cat agreed because as soon as I pulled it from the microwave she was stuck to my side like glue. (And yes, I shared my bacon with the little princess.)

So, let me tell you ... that bacon was D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S! It was so good that the original four pieces I reheated morphed into seven. Nom, nom, nom, yummy-in-my-tummy good. I'm pretty sure though, that I will pay for my indulgence later in the day. All that grease two days in a row can't be good for me and I'm pretty sure I didn't save any calories by switching out bacon for bread.

To top it all off,  my house now reeks of the smell of the bacon for the second day in a row.

Oh well, it was a good idea at the time and so worth whatever price I may pay later. BUT, I think the next time I have a craving for Brinner I'll suggest we head over to iHop and eliminate the temptation of leftovers.

as a side note, have you noticed lately how BACON is the THE food of choice these days? Everybody's cooking with bacon. My condolences to the piggies of the world.