Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Pumpkins, Sisters, Sparkle, and Meatloaf

A trip to a pumpkin patch in October in Texas is sort of comical. I mean, it was 92 degrees. But I got some darn cute pictures yesterday with Noah's kindergarten class...so we can just pretend it was all Autumnal with the scent of apple cider in the air, right? And can you believe I got a little claustrophobic in the kids' corn field maze? haha...I'm a dork.

I have 3 sisters and we are all very close. When we get together sometimes it gets a little silly. Sunday evening we were all at my sister Allison's house and were in the kitchen. While Allison was distracted with her newborn, Jack, the other sisters noticed her shopping list on the refrigerator. We took it upon ourselves to add a few extra *items* to her list for her - Tucks medicated pads, KY jelly, Oxy 10, extra-long overnight maxi pads, Immodium AD. I mean, how juvenile is THAT? I am 36 and my other sisters are 35, 28 and 28. (twins) But when we are together it's like we're in high school again. Too funny :) Anyone else have sisters or friends like this?

Just a few random tips that I've been wanting to share for no reason other than I've had them on my mind:

1. Noah loves to eat pasta for lunch. I buy the big bags of frozen cheese ravioli or tortellini. For sauce, I buy a couple of jars of spaghetti sauce and pour them into ice cube trays. When the cubes are frozen they go into a freezer bag, next to the frozen pasta. They are easy to defrost in the microwave while the pasta is cooking. Lunch in 5 minutes!

2. I love to try new recipes. I keep a binder in my kitchen of recipes I want to try. I just print them out on my computer, file them by category and pull one out when I want to try a new recipe. If we like it, it goes in my permanent recipe file. If we don't like it, I just throw it away. There are SO many good recipe sites with printable recipes. My favorites are Food Network, All Recipes, and Bed and Breakfast Inns Online.

3. I keep a small tote bag in the car with new maze books, hidden picture books, a blank spiral notebook, and washable markers (crayons melt) for Noah. When we have to go into a store or waiting room for an extended period of time, I always have something for him to do. You could also add a nonperishable snack like granola bites and a small bottle of water or juice box.

Oooh, look....I organized all of my scrapbooking bling :) Ahh, so pretty.

Last night I tried a new recipe. I've never been crazy about meatloaf. I like it, just don't always put it on the menu, you know? Last week I watched Barefoot Contessa and she made meatloaf. It looked SO good so I made it last night. This is my new meatloaf recipe. It was the BEST I've ever had. You can reduce the onions, especially if you have kids who see them and say "YUCK, onions!" But if you cook them a long time, they are very soft and add so much moisture to the meatloaf. The trick of mixing with a fork and not mashing the meat mixture really did make a huge difference. I overcooked the meatloaf so each one of them would be just a little dark and crunchy on the outside. I like them that way. This makes a lot, but you can freeze the extras. Here's the recipe!

Barefoot Contessa's Individual Meat Loaves

1 tablespoon good olive oil
3 cups chopped yellow onions (3 onions) *I used one large onion
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup canned chicken stock or broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 1/2 pounds ground chuck (81 percent lean)
1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs (recommended: Progresso)
2 extra-large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup ketchup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan. Add the onions, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent but not brown. Off the heat, add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste. Allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine the ground chuck, onion mixture, bread crumbs, and eggs, and mix lightly with a fork. Don't mash or the meatloaf will be dense. Divide the mixture into 6 (10 to 11-ounce) portions and shape each portion into a small loaf on a sheet pan. Spread about a tablespoon of ketchup on the top of each portion. Bake for at least 40 to 45 minutes, until the internal temperature is 155 to 160 degrees F and the meat loaves are cooked through. Serve hot.
Well, enough rambling for now. Have a blessed day!

"Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them-- every day begin the task anew." - Francis de Sales


RN4JCHRIST said...

What a cute pic of Noah!!! I am desperately looking for a pumpkin patch here in Houston!!

I know what you mean about you and your sisters! I only have one, she is 25 (I'm 31) but its a blast when we get together! I told her she is GOING with me to CKU next yr!!!

I use those sites for recipes as well! I will dfinitely check out the B&B one!

I do exactly the same thing for Jayden!! There is always something to keep him busy left in the cars!

I'm organizing my scrap-room/space today!! It was sooo chaotic from when we evacuated from Rita!!

Have a great day!!

Becky said...

What a cute pic! We haven't gone to the pumpkin patch yet....I need to put that on our list of things to do!

Loving the scrap "bling", too!

Amber Lee said...

I wanna go to pumpkin patch! That kinda makes me wish I was five. sigh. Anyways fyi your link to your layouts on two peas didn't work (at least for me), but I tracked you down and your stuff rocks man! Also I love Martha Stewert. Or at least her minions, that's what I always say. Tom Welling is Clark Kent before he becomes superman in Smallville. I guess it's geared towards teenagers, but I freely admit to being totally addicted.

stephanie said...

Hey, I see someone's looking for a pumpkin patch in Houston. You can email her to email me and I'll give her a few good ones to try.

You and your sisters are soooo bad. And funny.

We have used Barefoot Contessa recipes before and they are always yummy. She had a turkey meatloaf recipe that was sooo good. You'll have to try her ultimate brownie recipe too. I'll forward it to you if you can't get it off of food network's site. They *expire* recipes after airing. Very wierd.


Jennifer said...

MMmm.. we love meatloaf and that sounds yummy. I like to use the mini loaf pan that has six mini loaf trays in it to bake mine. That way they are exactly uniform in shape and size, and look great on a tray.. plus they bake a lot more evenly.

I love reading your blog and getting the recipes you post. I can't wait to try more of them out! (cute pumpkin patch pic!)

Sophia said...

Great tips! I feel like I've just watched Martha! I love that you have such a fun relationship with your sisters! How fun! Thanks for brightening my day, Jen!


Hanni said...

oh jennifer...why is it that I always feel inspired to cook when I read your blog? hee hee...I have a binder of recipes "to try" also. Loving your pile of scrapping bling. so fun!

Anonymous said...

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say I think the Pottery Barn catalog is evil... just because it is so tempting and so EXPENSIVE! The advent calendar is *very* cool though! :-)