Friday, May 25, 2018

Meatball and Rice Skillet

 This is one of those comfort meals that is  easy to prepare in advance, then re-heat.  I portion it into bowls and cover with plastic wrap, and the boys can heat it up when they are ready to eat.  Seems like nowadays, we are all doing our own thing at dinnertime, but I still want us to have something good.
 This is more or less a "method" rather than a recipe...
 But we all enjoy it very much!
Meatball and Rice Skillet
2T olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c. rice (I use Jasmin rice)
1 1/2 c. chicken broth*
16ish cooked meatballs (we love the HEB brand Homestyle frozen ones)
3/4 c. frozen peas (no need to thaw)
1/4 c. chopped Italian parseley (optional)
Warm the oil in the skillet.  Add minced garlic and rice and cook a couple of minutes on low to medium heat, stirring often. (pre-cooking the rice this way will ensure it turns out fluffy, not sticky and clumpy)
Add the peas and diced onion, top with meatballs(not pictured) and pour the broth over all of it.  Cover and cook on low until the rice is done.  Then toss in the chopped parseley if you like, and serve.
No leftovers at all...
*I've been making my own chicken broth and it is 100 times better than using a store-bought version.  I cook a whole chicken in the crockpot, debone it, throw the bones back into the crockpot with seasonings, the broth it already made plus a little extra water, and whatever veggie scraps I may have, and let it go overnight on low.  In the morning, I strain it, cool it, and store in the freezer in mason jars.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Weekend re-cap - Brunch-ing, fajita-ing, relax-ing

On Friday, one of my errands was to go purchase a cooler for the summer.  Hubby and I have been saving our pennies and found a fantastic coupon at REI (20% OFF!) so we purchased this one:
And we put it to the test over the weekend by packing it with ice and food and heading to Burnet.  First up was Brunch in the Vines at TNL.
 It started out overcast and super windy, but cool.  We enjoyed a sparkling chenin blanc with breakfast casserole tacos, tiny quiche, donut and brownie kebabs, and pigs in blankets.
Plus, we made four new friends who shared our table - I didn't get their pics, but I count that as living in the moment, not living in my phone!  (:
What a beautiful setting and the owners provided such a great breakfast and made us feel so welcome!
We left around 11:30, picked up our wine from the tasting room and headed over to...
Perisso's for a fajita lunch and wine pick-up.  By then the wind had died down and the weather was cool and beautiful.
 By far our favorite pick-up at this winery!  All of the wines were delightful and we were excited to know that two of our favorites were included in the allocation - Italian Stallion and Aglianico.  We bought the Racker's Blend to enjoy with our fajitas and it was fantastic.
The owners are so gracious to grill us fajitas themselves, and they walked through the crowds of people stopping to chat with wine club members.  Wineries are very friendly places!  We sat outside of the tank room and listened to live music for a bit, then headed to Highlands to relax in lawn chairs...ahhhh....
Saturday night we grilled salmon and veggies for dinner and sat outside of the barn watching far-off lightening.  You couldn't hear the thunder but you knew it had to be a huge storm judging from us being able to see it from so far away.
The next day the rain came (dark clouds in the distance)  We ate breakfast and putseyed around, but the thunderstorms were intense enough to keep us under shelter. Around noon it let up enough for us to enjoy our cheese and cracker snack outside, and watch a wild turkey amble through, looking for bugs, I guess.
It was pretty much a day of getting nothing done, and days like that are a great way to start the week.  We left around 5, enjoyed a quick snack at Sonic (which is becoming a ritual of sorts), then headed home to make dinner.  Bring on the rest of the week - I am on call next weekend, so it will be a while before I get back.  {And p.s. - as of Tuesday morning, the cooler was still full of ice!}

Monday, May 21, 2018

Mealplan Monday #194

Monday - Crockpot Ranch Pork Chops, mashed potatoes, green beans
Tuesday - Turkey and Havarti on whole wheat, coleslaw
Wednesday - Pizza, salad
Thursday - Meatball and rice skillet with peas*, garlic toast
Friday - Easy Parmesan Garlic Chicken, mac and cheese, carrots
Saturday - YOYO
Sunday - Burritos with chili, corn, salad

*will post recipe soon!

Friday, May 18, 2018

5 thing Friday - eye woes, stock, breakfast, pie, summer

 Selfies for me are so awkward...I was only trying to document my watery eye.
I am {hopefully} getting over an eye infection - on my left in this photo.  Where it came from I have no clue, but my eye has been watering these thick tears that sometimes slide down my face like I'm crying out of one eye.  Weird!  I have a tiny tube of erythromicin ointment that I am going to keep putting in there until it runs out.  Then back to the doc if it hasn't cleared up.
I have been making a whole chicken in the crockpot, shredding the meat, then throwing the bones and such back into the crockpot for a few hours with some seasonings to make stock.  Recently I took a jar of it to my mother's house and used it for Dr. Martin's mix.  I also made mire poix for the freezer - another nice thing to have on hand.
I'm trying to be sure an eat breakfast every day - once it gets past 10 a.m. it's really more like brunch.  But if I don't eat a decent one, I am DYING before 3 p.m. when I take my break at work and sneaking chocolate every time I pass the candy jar. 
I made a pie fail in that no one would really eat it.  It was diced apples and craisins that I soaked a bit, then spooned into a homemade crust, folded the edges over, sprinkled with sugar.  I loaded it up with butter and cinnamon and thought it was pretty decent.  It got ignored.  And I'm going to clean the oven and not use it much this summer.
Speaking of summer...I have started up my walk routine again and hope to shed some excess weight.  Yes, my clothes still fit, and yes, I feel fine.  But I would love not to cringe when I see photos of myself.  Maybe that has less to do with weight and more to do with making memories.  This beautiful wildflower field was at a favorite winery.  Hubby and I are definitely looking forward to summer!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Weekend re-cap: Brenham, WVW, and Desert Door

Hubby is in transition with his job (again)...this time he is returning to the insurance agency he was at for several years, and both of us believe it s a good move.  But that doesn't mean it isn't stressful...  So we started our weekend out at Whole Foods on the upper deck with a full growler...
The view from here is not spectacular,
but you can get a sense of sunset and the people watching always amuses me.
 The next morning we headed to Brenham to visit my mother and enjoy lunch together.
She wanted a gardenia plant, so I got a very full and fragrant one at Home Depot - $18, not bad.  I also took some homemade stock, rice, a bag of mire poix, and some oranges (just because).  I got to hug her neck a couple of times and wish her a Happy Mother's Day, I made a sausage and rice lunch with garlic toast, and she baked a tomato soup cake which was wonderful!  We did a few odds and ends chores and left around 2 p.m....
 ...and headed for Saddlehorn.
 It's so peaceful out here - birds chirping, no highway noise...
 ...pastureland with big oaks and wildflowers, far as my eyes can see.  We were home by 5 p.m., then waited for The Girl to come home to fix omelettes for dinner.  Teddy will be here for a week while she's away to Florida for training.  I'm hoping she squeezes a little R&R in there, too!
Sunday morning we headed out to a winery pick-up, with breakfast along the way.  The restaurant was super busy, but we enjoyed a Tex Mex feast complete with Ruby Red Margarita and Bloody Mary. 
Then it was off to Wimberley Valley's pick-up. The pairings this time were mostly sweet wines, with a new pinot noir and syrah.  Hubby enjoyed the apple wine, and I liked the raspberry.  They were both paired with a desert bite.  But my all-time favorite is...
This is the motherlode - directly behind me in the tasting room!
 Card playing on the deck followed.
They have such a giant backyard area, full of old oaks and decks.  It looked like everyone had the same idea for Mother's Day - hang out at a winery - but it didn't seem too busy.
 And I enjoyed the wildflowers!
We had passed a distillery we wanted to check out, so we double backed and visited this very cool place.  I  have never tried Sotol and have only heard of it recently, but it certainly is not new to the world.  It's not anything like tequila, though you think it would be.  Very smooth, kinda smokey, maybe a little like scotch?  I don't know, so hard to put my finger on the taste.
I wish I had taken better (and more) photos.  They had a large outside seating area under a pergola, as well as a cool, southwestern vibe interior with leather couches and rustic wood bar.  I enjoyed a strawberry rhubarb margarita and some live music.
Then we headed home for queso, sloppy joe's, guacamole, and time with the fam.  the one thing I wanted I forgot to do: get a new pic of me with my peeps...maybe next Sunday when The Girl returns.  Scout and Dutch gave me a sweet gift tote with a candle, bath bomb, and truffles.  Firstborn and Bubbie gave me a silly card, and The Girl ordered something due to arrive on Friday.  But I couldn't think of thing more that I wanted than just time with them - and it was very fun, and wore me out!
Can you believe we are halfway thru May?

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mealplan Monday #193

Monday - Cobb Salads with grilled chicken and gouda
Tuesday - Taco Night!
Wednesday - Stuffed Shells* (freezer) with broccoli/cauliflower
Thursday - Crockpot of beans with pork ribs, corn muffins*
Friday - Skillet Chicken and Rice with peas
Saturday - YOYO
Sunday - Chloe's Turkey Chili, Fritos and queso
*seems like full-blown summer here already, so oven cooking will take a backseat to the stove and crockpot after this week!
Recently, I bought a large package of boneless ribs, just so I could have extra pork for a pot of beans!
 I cut the ribs in half (I had about 4 of them), seasoned 'em up...
 ...heated some olive oil in my skillet...
...and seared them on both sides. Then I put them into a big ziploc and into the freezer.  I will rinse pinto beans, then add the frozen pork chunks to the beans in the crockpot, cover it all by about 2 inches of water, and cook on low 8 hours!


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