Thursday, September 15, 2016

Baked Italian Meatballs

First day of 3rd grade, kindergarten, and preschool
Girls U6 - Purple Pandas

Girls U10 - Tangerine Surfers

We're only two weeks into school, and I haven't started teaching yet, but I'm feeling the pressure of two girls with homework, two AYSO teams, and my involvement on two USTA (tennis) teams.  I'm going to be teaching a night class this term and we've decided that with soccer that evening, we'll pick up food.  But, other than that, I'm committed to still cooking at home the other evenings.  I tried this new recipe which was delicious and popular with the kids.  I made a double batch in the afternoon and put half in the refrigerator to bake after soccer practice and the other half in the freezer so we have a meal for another night.  

You can use all ground beef (I did the 93% lean), all turkey, or a combination of both.  I imagine that regular Italian sausage would be yummy as well.  You can make your own sauce or buy it (like I did) and adjust the other seasonings to your family's liking.  I left the cheese off of some of them because one of my kids has been struggling with dairy.

Italian Meatballs (makes about 3 dozen / 8 servings)

1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground turkey sausage
1/2 cup panko  bread crumbs
2.5 cups marinara (divided)
1 T chopped garlic
1-2 T Italian seasoning
3/4 c. grated or shredded parmesan cheese (divided)
1/2 T dried onion flakes (or 1/4 cup diced onion)
1/2 - 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, combine the ground beef, ground turkey, bread crumbs, 1/2 cup marinara, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, garlic, italian seasoning, and onion.  Stir until well combined.  Using your hands, roll into small meatballs and place on a foil lined cookie sheet.  I ended up with 3 dozen small meatballs.

Place cookie sheets in the oven and after 10 minutes, use tongs to turn the meatballs.  Cook for a total of 15-20 minutes or until the meatballs are just cooked through.  You don't want them crisped or browned, just so that the meat isn't pink anymore.  You can make them more on the rare side if you use all ground beef.

Remove from the oven and let cool.  At this point, you can refrigerate or freeze the meatballs if you're not ready to eat right away.  I froze half and put half in the refrigerator to finish at dinner time.

When you're ready to eat them, put 2 cups of marinara in an oven safe pan or skillet.  Add the meatballs in a single layer.  Top with mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until the marinara is bubbly and the cheese is melted.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Part II: Kauai

The paradox of Kauai is that on one hand, it's almost impossible to take a bad photo and on the other hand, you can't capture the beauty in a photo.  Here are my best attempts at capturing some of my favorite moments.

The first day we arrived on the island, we walked out to the beach to see this

A big highlight of Kauai was the surf - Big had a blast

And middle learned to surf

Also, the tide pools - we spent a lot of time out there looking at sea life 

And picking up treasures

Look who came to visit!

We love Kauai!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

It's that time again . . .

 Instead of a recipe or food-related post, here are some family vacation photos!  I'm the type of person who loves to look at other people's trip photos but I know not everyone shares my enthusiasm.  If that's  you - sorry!

We took an amazing trip to Hawaii this summer and visited two islands.  This first post is Part 1:  Big Island.  We love the Kohala coast on the big island and are already talking about "next time."  I took many, many photos and this is just a few of my favorite pictures.  Some of my best memories were just experienced, not photographed but I think this captures some of what I loved:

The rope swing at Beach 69.  Pictures can't do this beach justice - perfection!

The two buddies . . . probably playing family or lost girls

The mermaid tail got quite the reactions at the beach

The Kiluea Caldera at Volcano National Park

Celebrating 15 years of marriage with some dear friends at Lava lava Beach Club

Little beach buddies!

End of the road on the north side of the Big Island


We had such a great time with Hannah and the girls cried when she left!

Sunset - amazing to see the canvas of the sky painted with the dying light every night

A kayak towing a boogie board

Cacao Pods - Chocolate Tour

My brave kids swimming at night with manta rays

Little Girls + Sunset

Catamaran Boat ride with the big girls - one of the most fun days.

Luau at the Royal Kona

Monday, August 8, 2016

Six years old!

Middle had her sixth birthday last week while we were on vacation and she's headed to Kindergarten this fall.  She seems so big and still so little in so many ways . . . I've found that parenting is full of contradictions like this.  Over the past year, Middle has been working on this list of things that have happened since her 5th birthday so I think her 6th is the perfect time to share it:

Things I have been able to do since I'm 5
- Pour milk into cereal by myself
- Go on an elevator and escalator by myself
- Snorkel by myself
- Stand up paddle board
- See a sea cucumber
- Scooter to the park by myself
- Learn how to play frisbee
- Read some words
- Catch a frog

Middle is a noticer and a nurturer.  She loves all of God's creatures, great and small, and wants to work with animals.  She finds things and has a great eye for detail, fashion, and the things that the rest of us sometimes pass right by.  We are so glad to have her in our family!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Salad of the summer

We have a salad with dinner almost every night.  In the summer, it's not uncommon for the salad to be the dinner.  Last night, I mixed up some sliced peaches, rotisserie chicken, spinach, and bleu cheese and drizzled it with a balsamic vinaigrette and called it dinner.  It was good, but every year, there seems to be some salad that I fall in love with and make a billion times.  The recipe below is the salad in the photo above - it's a crunchy salad because of the seeds and nuts and the kale and romaine mix with this dressing will convince even your most reluctant kale eaters!

Here are some of the summer salads of the past:

This is a very rough recipe - I'll try to actually measure next time so I can edit and update!  But for now, this works - you can't really mess it up, just don't add all the dressing at once.  Use your judgment since there's not an exact amount of greens.

Crunchy Kale Salad:

Chop some kale into bite sized pieces.  Mix with about an equal amount chopped romaine and a cup of broccoli slaw (or chopped raw broccoli).  Toss in a bowl with this dressing:  Whisk together 4 T brown sugar, 1 tsp. salt, 6 T rice wine vinegar, some tabasco, 1/2 cup canola oil.  Let it set for about 10-15 minutes.  Then, mix in  toasted sliced almonds, toasted sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries before serving.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Atlanta Trip 2016

Our first trip of the summer was a long weekend trip to the Atlanta area to celebrate my husband's grandma's 93rd birthday.  Fifteen years ago we got married on grandma's birthday and we've made it a point to remember that date :)

Here are some photos of this special trip to the south:
In the Super Shuttle - all ready for a day of travel

We made it!  In Atlanta with Aunt Sharon

Really fun visit to the Center for Puppetry Arts

Enjoying water activities with NO CAST!

Hanging out with Great Grammy

Celebrating Gram's 93rd birthday

Arguably the best part of the trip for Middle - hanging out with Barkley

Enjoying the southern tradition of sitting on the porch

A fantastic New Orleans style farewell dinner at Henry's in Acworth

We also had so much great food.  From another visit to Henry's, to an amazing french toast casserole (that we even drizzled bourbon over and had for dessert the next day) to a fabulous birthday party menu - I had to work out extra after the trip!  This was one of my favorite things that our aunt made - a fresh, summery side dish that I'll be making soon.

Corn, Tomato & Avocado Salad (4 side dish servings)

1 pint grape tomatoes
1 ripe avocado
2 ears fresh sweet corn
2 T fresh cilantro, chopped
one lime, juiced
3 T vegetable oil
1 T honey
1 clove garlic, minced
dash of cayenne pepper

Grill corn until it has some brown spots.  Cut off the cobb and set aside to cool.  Slice tomatoes in half and dice avocado.  Combine with the corn and cilantro.

For the dressing, whisk together the remaining ingredients.  Mix gently with the vegetables.  Let it sit for 15 minutes before serving.