In the Blink of an Eye

The passage of time is never felt more keenly than on days like today, the first day of school. And today's experience was even more bittersweet because our youngest child, my "baby", went off to Kindergarten.

Here's a look back at our family's "first days" in public school since 2006:

Thalia: Kindergarten 2006

Thalia: 1st Grade 2007

Thalia: 2nd Grade 2008

Thalia: 3rd Grade 2009

Little Miss Cupcake: Our new Kindergartener, Carys! 2009
Our "school-age" kiddos this morning, August 2009

The first 5 years really and truly go by like the blink of an eye. And the years after seem to pass even quicker! Today my "tween" age daughter sported size 6 ladies running shoes, a size 10-12 outfit and new glasses to school--what happened to my little girl?! At least Carys is still "little" (perhaps the only kindergartener still wearing a size 3!) . . .

Both girls are excited about school and their new teachers. We are off to a great start! And Thalia's cast comes off this afternoon! We are all so blessed.

Happy New School Year, everyone!


Using It All Up, Part 2

Yesterday's culinary challenge, as part of our ongoing effort to eat up everything in the fridge, involved some of the same stuff we had the day before, just more of it.

So to start off with, we still had these perishables:
  • ground turkey (which technically would have survived our vacation in the deep freeze)
  • 1/2 bag of sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • onions
  • 1/2 a brick of cream cheese (leftover from a previous recipe)
  • 6 corn-on-the-cobs (down from 8 earlier in the day)
  • 3 heads of lettuce (down from 4 the day before)
  • bunch of cilantro
  • fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • celery
  • 1 1/2 tomatoes on the vine
  • bunch of green onions
  • 1 squished slice of potato bread
  • 1/2 of a cantaloupe
From these varied ingredients, I turned out a pretty darn good dinner that featured my new creation, which I will call:

Melissa's Dinner Dish
I am calling it thus because the finished product, on the outside at least, looked very much like something Nigella Lawson makes called "Granny Lawson's Lunch Dish." But basically, it starts with a version of stroganoff with turkey instead of beef because that's what I had. I based the stroganoff filling recipe on one from the Land o' Lakes Treasury of Country Recipes cookbook.

Brown the ground turkey with some chopped onions and sliced mushrooms. I wish I had thrown in some sliced green onions as well for flavor and color, and I will next time. Add softened cream cheese, parsley, some thyme (I love thyme!), fresh ground pepper and garlic salt. Add some fresh bread crumbs made with the leftover slice of bread (using a food processor). The bread crumbs kind of hold the whole thing together.

Now for my magic ingredient! I threw in a non-perishable item that is quite possibly my new favorite time-saving ingredient-- Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations. Yes, it's a really weird name for one of their many tubes of dough, but I don't care what they call it, it's great! I generally don't buy tubes of biscuits or rolls very often, but I happened to buy some pie crust for another recipe a few weeks ago and discovered the Crescent Recipe Creations. It's basically a sheet of crescent roll dough that hasn't been cut into triangle shapes as usual, so you can use it as a pizza dough and such.

I unrolled the crescent dough and was able to fit half of the turkey mixture on one side of the dough. I folded the dough over and crimped with a fork. So it looked like an enormous hot pocket pie kind of thing. Since I still had a second tube of Crescent Recipe Creations (that is a totally strange name for this product!), I went ahead and made a second "dinner dish" to eat the next day, before we leave for the airport.

I baked both for about 15-17 minutes at 350 degrees in the oven, and while it was baking Thalia said "What are you cooking, Mommy? That smells really good!" Always a promising sign.

This is what it looked like out of the oven:

And here is a slice of it:

This is what it reminded me of, Nigella's Granny's "Lunch Dish," although her crimping is much prettier:

The girls were very interested in my "Dinner Dish." And here are the "reviews":

"Mommy, this tastes awesome. Really good." ~ Carys, age 5 and the pickiest eater in our family

"This tastes kind of like crab rangoon. I love crab rangoon." ~ Thalia, age 8 and adores cream cheese in just about anything

"It's good!" ~ Dylan, who will eat anything I make anyway

It tasted pretty good and the crescent roll dough is very light. No leftovers! We also ate up a head of lettuce, a half of a tomato, some corn and some melon. Almost an empty fridge!


Using It All Up

We are leaving very soon for our Pacific Northwest vacation, which will include some beach time! Therefore, I've been trying very hard to cook up and eat all of the perishables in our fridge before we go. Yesterday, we had ground turkey, mushrooms, onions, half of a very large zucchini from a friend's garden and 1 bell pepper to use up. So this is what I dreamed up in my head, and it turned out really great! I love when that happens. If you happen to have these in your fridge too, here's a yummy way to cook it all up:

Stuffed Pepper & Zucchini

  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1/2 bag of baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 large can of tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked white rice
  • large, long bell pepper, top trimmed and insides removed, cut in half lengthwise
  • zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and seeds scooped out
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • Italian seasoning
  • basil
  • oregano
  • garlic salt
  • black pepper
I sauteed the veggies and turkey until no longer pink and then added
half of the tomato sauce and seasonings. I didn't measure any of them, just added "to taste." Simmered for a while.

Meanwhile, I micro-steamed the bell pepper and zucchini for about 3-4 minutes.

Then added the cooked white rice to the turkey mixture. I put the 4 veggie pieces (2 bell pepper halves and 2 zucchini halves) into a lightly greased pyrex dish. I scooped 1/4 of the mixture into each half of the pepper and zucchini and poured rest of the tomato sauce over the whole thing. Sprinkled grated parmesan cheese on top of each mound. Baked for about 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

I had intended to just use bell peppers, but as I only found 1 in the fridge, the zucchini substitution was a last-minute inspiration.