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Valentine’s Day has always been a somewhat strange holiday for Tom and I. He used to sell roses years ago so the whole holiday has a different taste for us. The holiday is quite a manufactured money maker and we have tried to instill in our boys that fact. There are 364 other days of the year to show the one you love how much you care and how special they are to you.

For years, we used to go out as a group and probably one of our best Valentine’s Day stories has nothing to do with us, per se. We had made reservations with a few other couples to go down to the Ironbound section of Newark for Portuguese food. Turns out that one of the couples had to cancel. While we were standing in the lobby of an extremely crowded restaurant waiting (we only had to wait 1/2 hour since we had reservations – weren’t we lucky?) a young couple came in and the guy walked up to the maitre d  and politely asked for a table for 2. At least they were kind enough not to laugh in his face when he said he didn’t have a reservation, instead they told him that he could be seated at 11:30 (yes, that’s p.m.) mind you, this was around 7 ish. Turns out, we happened to have an extra two seats, so we went up to them and asked if they’d like, they could sit at the end of our table (and we promised to leave them by themselves as much as possible considering we were all sitting at the same table). Turns out, they agreed. We bought them each a Valentine’s Day drink, wound up laughing and talking together for a good part of the evening. It was a very nice Valentine’s Day.

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Valentine’s Day has morphed through our relationship from the initial over-advertised guilt ridden day created by a card company with the expensive flowers and traditional dinner in a restaurant that was over crowded and overbooked through those days of group Valentine dinners with friends, to the occasional missed Valentine’s Day altogether when it managed to coincide with Tom’s snowmobile treks, to the take out Chinese dinner eaten in front of the fire on the floor. Tonight, the plan was that our youngest son and his girlfriend were cooking us dinner. They were going to then watch a movie and we were going to watch a show by the fire. Plans however, still change. A couple hours ago, I got a call from my oldest that he and a group of friends were driving down from school to go snowboarding and obviously to have dinner at home. While Tim and his girlfriend are still cooking us dinner, I am cooking sushi for the boys that are descending upon us any time now. It will be a different kind of Valentine’s Day once again — but a good one anytime you are surrounded by the ones that you love and who love you back.

One thing that has not changed through the years, the constant tradition, is the chocolate covered strawberries. Every year for as long as I can remember, I have made chocolate covered strawberries for all my men.

However you choose to celebrate or if you even celebrate at all…..Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

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Tonight, we were supposed to be going out for dinner. However, the wood stove was too warm and comfortable and the company was good. We were cozy and Mother Nature wasn’t making leaving the nest too desirable even for an anticipated night out. Not having planned on making dinner tonight, this was a throw-together. Sometimes, honestly, I think the “open the pantry and empty the fridge” meals somehow turn out to be the best meals of all.

The ingredients on hand:

  • leftover boiled chicken breast
  • fresh basil
  • garlic
  • broccoli crowns
  • red bell pepper
  • chili garlic sauce
  • olive oil
  • potato gnocchi

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I sauteed the vegetables together, added the shredded chicken and a very little olive oil (the special one that Tim brought back from Spain) seasoned it with a little kosher salt and a teaspoon of chili-garlic sauce. Added the gnocchi when it was cooked (which didn’t take long at all) and topped it with a couple grinds of shredded asiago cheese. Served it with some warm homemade bread. We enjoyed it by the fire with some great music playing in the background. Very delicious, indeed.

 

 

 

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_DSC0106I thought I’d share some photos of tonight’s dinner – a fish dinner since Tim is not home and making fish when he can’t eat it (and can really die from eating it) is just downright mean. So, tonight’s meal was haddock with a miso-mayo seasoned glaze and oriental style green beans with chili garlic sauce, soy sauce and garlic._DSC0102

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Tonight we had some fancy potatoes for dinner. These are pretty easy to make but look like they are pretty darn fancy. Sliced them almost all the way through, seasoned with kosher salt and pepper, garlic and melted butter with a little bit of rosemary. Not too shabby.

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Dear friends and family,

When you come to visit and you think that I cook a lot while you are here, please realize that it is not really that unusual. I cook a lot more often than not.ImageImage My boys routinely invite their friends over and that usually involves cooking…especially around their birthdays. I believe that for TJ’s and Tyler’s birthdays I made platters of sushi and boneless buffalo wings. There have been 12 layer birthday cakes and 12 pounds of ravioli which enabled me to use the bowl specifically reserved for our friend Lou’s cooking when he visits. 

Tonight, we hosted the physics class for baked ziti, meatballs, homemade bread and chocolate croissants. Before you get too excited and have some type of breakdown (as I did when I was first asked to host the entire physics class for a pre-exam study session), the class is small, only about 8 kids, so it is by far not as monumental as it sounds. 

Easily when my oldest invites “some” friends over, it could be at least twice that many. I love to cook and I love to see people enjoy the food, so it’s all good…..and it’s great to have all their friends come and visit. 

 

This afternoon, thinking that we might have company for dinner, with family arriving later and a potential poker night in the mix with the boys, I put up some sauce, made meatballs and did bracciole. I haven’t made bracciole in a really long time so I was really looking forward to it.

We didn’t get the company yet, they hit traffic and the poker night didn’t materialize either after the day was spent on the mountain.

But, hey, we had bracciole and meatballs for dinner, so it wasn’t all bad.

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Tim promised to cook me dinner for my birthday. Last week, he didn’t have time with school, homework and play practice and I didn’t feel much up to eating, so it all worked out well. Tonight, he made that birthday dinner. He cooked a delicious gluten free Mexican lasagna for dinner. It was delicious! He cleaned the whole kitchen to boot. Nothing to do but put dishes in the dishwasher when we were done.

Thanks Tim — you are awesome!

The men were great. The day began with a trip to New Hampshire with my husband and breakfast.

I got an unexpected call when we were out from the boys to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day, especially since the one that loves his sleep most of all made the call…that was a really nice surprise.

I came home to a house that was clean and a beautiful red, cushy blanket from one of the boys. Lunch out with Tom and two of them. A nice chance to catch up for a while with some friends who are back in town.

Flowers.

And a delicious dinner cooked for me. Complete with clean up.

 

 

If you take away the blackflies that almost ate me alive, it was a pretty good day.

 

Here’s the ingredients for our stir fry dinner tonight.

Chicken breasts chopped into bite size pieces

Baby bok choy and sliced red bell pepper

Green garlic, chopped scallions, fresh basil, fresh cilantro, lime

broccoli rabe

threw in some pea shoots (these are DELICIOUS!)

The finished product – thanks to Wallingford Locker’s chicken and Evening Song Farm’s veggies……..served over jasmine rice. Yum.

A day where no one argues and you’re made to feel like a queen — oh, alright, a princess (since the Queen is rather old anyway). I personally still feel that Mother’s Day belongs to the mothers in my life – my mom, my mother-in-law – not so much for me. Don’t get me wrong, it was always so sweet to the point of tears when the boys would bring home so proudly the cards that they had made or the bead necklace or potted plant. As they get older, though, it gets more complicated. Someone at school didn’t tell them what this year’s Mother’s Day project would be. They are set to figure out, on their own, how to make it a special day. You have to love them for it. But seriously, a houseful of guys barraging me with questions  “What do you want for a gift?” “What do you want to do?” “What do you want to eat?” I dearly love the men in my life, but seriously haven’t they gotten it yet, after all these years? Honestly, whatever they do that day is fine, whatever they cook or come up with or go out and get are all fine. The best gift is the fact that I didn’t have to think of it, plan it or clean up after it. The end result might not be the best or the most delicious (or surprisingly it could be both) but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that they made the effort, that they took the time to think about someone besides themselves, which is difficult at best for teenagers.

Tonight, I am getting a dinner and dessert cooked by the men in my life.

We had a delicious dinner of steak tips, rice and salad that Tim so graciously and deliciously cooked for me, set the table and decorated it with his Mother’s Day card.

TJ and Alex made dessert…….

The men are all cleaning up as I type this….. and then to snuggle up together for a family television show. A good day…..to be a mom.

Snow day. We spent the day home, not that the weather was all that bad, but hey isn’t hanging around what a snow day is all about? Dinner was going to be simple, burger, potatoes and salad. One problem, no buns. I pulled up this recipe from King Arthur Flour and made these hamburger buns. They were easy to make, came out looking delicious and tasted even better. Next time, I’m going to substitute honey for the sugar in the recipe. I didn’t want to try it first time out of the box, since I wouldn’t know whether I goofed the recipe or the substitution didn’t work correctly.

 

Here’s the link to the recipe at King Arthur’s site.

 

This was dinner last night – Chicken Tortilla Soup.

Ingredients

  • 3 chicken breasts – cut up into bite size pieces
  • 12 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 4 cups instant mashed potatoes (thickener)
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, jack or colby)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped green bell peppers or 1 can green chiles
  • 1 14 oz can kernel corn
  • 2 t. cumin
  • 1 t. cajun seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cilantro chopped for topping
  • lime wedges for topping
  • 2 cups crushed corn tortilla chips for topping

Process:

  1. Cut up chicken breasts add to stock pot with broth.
  2. Add remaining ingredients except for cilantro, lime and tortilla chips.
  3. Bring to a boil and simmer until chicken is cooked through about 1/2 hour. Add additional mashed potatoes or sour cream to the desired thickness.
  4. Add cilantro, lime wedge and tortilla chips to individual bowls to top soup.

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