Monday – Crockpot Carnitas Rice Bowls. We’ve gotten a carnitas roast from Aldi a few times before and it is SO good and so easy. You just toss it all in the crockpot and cook like a normal roast. I’ll make rice and a side of black beans when I get home from school and we’ll top with fresh salsa, guacamole, cilantro, drizzle sour cream thinned with lime, and a few dashes of sriracha and a dash of tajin on top if we’re feeling snazzy.
Tuesday – Carnitas Tacos. Kind of like yesterday, but on soft tacos that have been warmed in the oven and with pickled onions and a heap of taco slaw on top. Oof, yum.
Wednesday – Creamy Chicken Ramen Soup. Like a hug in a bowl.
Thursday – Leftovers always!
Friday – Pizza night! Plus family movie after, obviously
Saturday – Charcuterie Board. My favorite kind of dinner. I’ll pick up whatever looks good, but I do have a pinterest board for inspiration! It only has six pins, so I really need to go add some more. I think I’d like to master the fine art of charcuterie board building.
Sunday – Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup. Grilled Cheese on my sourdough, tomato soup from a can because call me crazy – that’s my favorite tomato soup. I think it just takes me back to my childhood! I’d be happy to hear suggestions for your favorite tomato soup – but don’t be offended if I don’t try it.
Bake –Apple Crisp with homemade vanilla ice cream. Nothing says mid-september best.
Treat – Molasses Cookies. I think I’ve put this on a couple past plans and haven’t gotten to them. I’m committed to them this time!
Cocktail – September Heatwave. I also had this on last week’s, but we switched to our pumpkin beer date night instead. Having this alongside a big fall puzzle on the coffee table for our weekend date & cocktail pairing.
Make anything good lately? Please share, so I can drool!
I remember when we were expecting our first son, Charlie, we took a class called the Bradley Method to prepare for natural birth. It’s this amazing, kind of intense birth class. You meet for 12 weeks with a local Bradley couple and other couples signed up for the same session. I loved our meetings so much. We met with Rob and Clare, a chef and a banking executive who lived in a historic Spanish style house on a quiet street. Their three kids were in high school and we would barely catch a glimpse of them during our classes, but going to these meetings, while also truly being the only reason I was able to have three natural births, just really helped me visualize and prepare for becoming a parent. Our classes each focused on a different topic from how the body gives birth, coping techniques, the best way to nourish your body during pregnancy, and we had weekly assignments and exercises in a Bradley Method workbook. Well, one week we were supposed to (as a couple) come up with a list of what we were most looking forward to when becoming a family. On our list were things like holidays, family movie night, seeing our baby with our families, and high on both my husband and I’s list was family dinner.
I grew up in a big catholic family in small town Indiana, four brothers, one sister, and our family dinners make up such an important part of my childhood memories. I remember hiding food I didn’t want to eat underneath the table in a small alcove where the extra leaves of the table would have fit if we didn’t need all of them for our big family. I remember going around the table and saying the best and worst thing of our day. I remember our rotating jobs of cleaning up the kitchen while my parents went to the family room to read the paper. I just really remember that feeling of family during dinners. It was a formative part of my childhood. We, of course, had assigned seats, and I had the seat next to my mom (a seat I still prefer when we go home to my parents’ house) and she would give me the “love connection” if my brothers were teasing me too much (a squeeze of the hand, and declaration that Em needed “The Love Connection.”) Just lots of memories. Of course there were rules – no bare feet, you at least had to have socks on, no elbows on the table, you had to finish your milk, etc.
We’ve made good on our list from the Bradley Method and have been making our own new memories as a family at our kitchen table since Charlie could sit up in a high chair. I will always remember nursing Ben and then a year later Luke at the table while eating my dinner, dropping crumbs on their tiny baby heads. We always wait for that moment when my husband walks in through the door from work for hello’s, tight hugs and then we go to the table as a family to eat. I just have this feeling that my kids are going to remember family dinner the same way I do. It’s our daily way to connect and get really good focused time together every single day. Just a good, special family tradition to have.
Thought I would share a few ways to get your kids on board with Family Dinner, even if they’re tiny.
- Get them involved in dinner preparations, so they’re interested in eating it.
- If you have picky eaters, pick one thing that they could have as an alternative. For example, if our kids don’t want to eat whatever I’ve made for dinner, they can always either have a sandwich or yogurt. I refuse to make a separate meal for anyone, so they can either eat what I’ve made, or choose to eat a sandwich or yogurt instead.
- Always offer sauces – ketchup, italian dressing, and ranch are popular ones in our house. They will put them on everything and will eat it!
- They get dessert if they finish their meal. Always. It can be a cookie, cake, a piece of chocolate or ice cream. This always motivates my kids to finish their plates. I’m not one for “all food is the same”. I know that was big a few years ago, not to treat dessert differently, but we do in our house!
- Play talking table games. If your kids are small too, we play lots of table games to get them to stay at the table longer. We play math games (2 + 2 is what?), guessing games (I’m thinking of an animal, and you have to figure out what it is), I spy with my little eye, and what words begin with (what words can you think of that start with an A – Apple, Animal, Ark, etc.). Our kids are 4, 3 and almost 2, so Charlie, our oldest, really runs these games, but Benny is old enough to play most of them too.
- Ask questions. My husband is SO good at this. He will ask the boys five million questions about their days and just pulls all of this information out of them that I’m usually too busy when we get home to even think to find out about.
- Don’t give them a choice. They simply have to come to the table. If they don’t want to come sit at the table, then they have to sit in either time out or in their room.
- Light candles. Every night! A family dinner candle in the middle of the table just makes it all feel special and magical and your kids will feel it too.
- Let them sit on your lap. This one is very low on my list, but it will often get Ben, my three year old, who does sometimes resist coming to the table, especially if he’s very involved in play, to willingly sit at the table for a long time. He rarely needs to these days, but it got us through some difficult patches where it would have been easier to just let him not sit at the table for dinner.
- Start young. As soon as they are old enough to sit in a highchair – you start family dinner.
- Give an afternoon snack if they have a hard time waiting to eat until dinner. My husband doesn’t get home, typically, until around 6 at which point some of my family can start to get a little hangry. I usually give an after school snack around 4 to tide them over so they don’t get beyond the point of reason.
- This one is for the adults – no phones at the table! Even my oldest will say “no phones!” if one of us gets ours out.
I don’t even know if those are helpful, but I thought I would share! We’re soon going to start having the boys help with kitchen clean up because they’re about that age. Clearing the table, putting things back into the fridge, recycling, and wiping off the counters are easy chores for the 3-4 age to start with!
What about you? Does your family do family dinner every night? Or have you thought about it?
Is it brown butter or is it browned butter? My research has brought back answers for both. Whichever way you want to say it – I do believe it may be God’s greatest gift to man, much as I love my children. And around this time of year I can’t get enough of it. The brown butter, not my kids. But I’ll allow that they’re pretty great too. I have plans to put brown butter into a pumpkin sheet cake in October, in a pasta sauce with sage to nestle homemade ravioli into later this month, and perhaps most famously into my chocolate chip cookies on another occasion. Whether you’re using it in sweets or dinner, it adds a delicious nuttiness that is so distinct and dare I say, life changing? Now, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you might want to read this article on achieving brown butter rather than burnt butter. You probably think the cake should be the main topic of conversation here and I love it too! It’s a winner! The people will love the cake! But the frosting, oh yes, the frosting, is the part of this recipe that takes it to the next level.
Applesauce Cake with Brown Butter Frosting
For the cake:
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1¼ cups packed light brown sugar
¾ cup canola oil
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or a combination of cinnnamon, ginger and nutmeg)
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
For the frosting:
1 ½ cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, divided. Two sticks should be softened to room temperature. The third stick, you’ll brown.
4 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp whole milk
½ t vanilla
¼ tsp salt
Prepare the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 x 9 inch pan with baking spray and dust with flour – alternatively you could make this in a 9 x 13 pan for a thinner cake or even in muffin form, but be sure to adjust your baking time. In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, oil, pumpkin pie spice, lemon zest, vanilla extract, eggs, and applesauce in a large bowl until combined. Whisk in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until just combined. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40-50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack,
and cool completely in pan, about 1 hour.
Prepare the Frosting:
Melt 1/2 cup (one stick) butter in a medium saucepan over medium until it begins to bubble, forms little brown bits, and smells nutty. Transfer to a freezer safe container and put in freezer for 10-15 minutes or until room temperature. In a mixer, combine brown butter, 1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter, powdered sugar, milk, salt and vanilla. Mix on medium for about three minutes or until fluffy. Spread frosting generously over cooked cake with an offset spatula, cut and enjoy (preferably with a book and iced coffee on the side).
You will most likely have extra frosting, but the frosting is truly the best part of this cake. Just put it in a jar, and store in the fridge for another cake next week! This cake, after all, will not last long on your counter if your house is anything like mine.
Monday – Flank Steak, roast brussels & crispy potatoes. My husband makes the best flank steak marinade. I dream about it! Doing Labor Day right and wrapping up summer with all the good stuff.
Tuesday – Chicken Enchiladas. We don’t really follow a recipe for this one. Put the chicken in the crock pot in the morning with taco seasoning, and use canned enchilada sauce for ease. All you have to do is shred the chicken and heat up some black beans on the side. To assemble – shred the chicken, spread a bit of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish, into each tortilla shell put chicken and some shredded cheese (we like either Monterey Jack which melts really well, or taco cheese here), roll up and place seam side down into the dish, top with more enchilada sauce and shredded cheese. Bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes. Serve with sour cream, sliced avocado, tajin seasoning, cilantro, and a side of black beans.
Wednesday – Harvest Skillet. But with chicken sausage instead of bacon! But also looking at this recipe that I think I’ve used before, my recipe is actually not all that similar to this one. 😂 I usually do Brussels sprouts, bite size potatoes sliced in half, sweet potatoes diced, chicken sausage all cooked up in the cast iron skillet. Top with fresh parm and serve with a side of sourdough.
Thursday – Leftovers always!
Friday – Pizza night! Plus family movie after.
Saturday – Pulled Pork Tot-Cho’s for husband and I, pulled pork sandwiches for the boys.
Sunday – Whole roast onions, pork chops and mashed potatoes. Excited about this one. I’ve been thinking about those onions since I found them on Pinterest.
Bake – Salted Maple Pie. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Treat – Apple Chips. The boys will love these! They’ll be the perfect after school snack.
Cocktail – September Heatwave. Feels appropriate.
Make anything good lately? Please share with everyone in the comments!
I bet you never thought I would get to this second part of my “Day in the Life” series. I shared a morning in the life way back in January and promised I would get a typical day down for you, and it’s taken me…a while. ha! Well it’s here! I get so very many questions about what it’s like to be a school librarian, so I’m going giving you a typical day. To give you a little background though, I work in a large, urban, dual-language, title I elementary school with about 750 students. 99% of our students are on free and reduced lunch and about 98% speak Spanish in the home. Days can feel a little grueling sometimes and there are definitely some tough issues that you have to deal with, but I love it. It’s definitely not for everyone though! As the school librarian, I am on the Fine Arts wheel which means I have classes all day. Many school libraries are just “open” so students are sent down to check books out, or classes can make appointments for classes with the school librarian. That’s not the case in my school. I have all classes K-5 on a six day rotation. Let’s walk through a day, shall we?
7:20am – I arrive to school. Sign in in the office, and get to the library. I put my things down, unlock doors, check the copiers, log on to the desk computer and get it ready for my 5th grade safety patrols to check books in. If I have time, I’ll check my e-mail and start getting things ready for my first class.
7:30 – My 5th graders arrive. I have 8 students who come to the library first thing. They check in books, tidy up the space, deliver books to teachers and they also are my TV Crew. We put on the morning announcements every day.
7:45 – Head back to the TV Studio. Each student has a different job so they go to their places, we run through the script and practice one or two times. It’s such a fun group of kids. I pick them in 4th grade after they’re chosen as safety patrols and I really try to think through how they’re going to work together. So fun. We’re going on a field trip in November to our local news affiliate and they’re so excited about it.
7:55 – The morning announcements go live to classrooms.
8:00 – Round of applause to our Crew. I remind them what their jobs will be the next day and then I send them to class. Now, I get ready in earnest for my day of classes. My first class is at 8:30, so I log into both of my smart boards, make sure my lesson plans are ready, get my class folders out, get any materials we’ll need put out on tables, pull books out for the Kindergarten and First grades to choose from to check out (they won’t start checking books out from the shelves for a few weeks yet. I just have them choose from a table while they’re learning library skills.).
8:30 – My first class! 2nd grade. If I had to teach a grade level, I would choose 2nd. They’re still sweet, but are starting to be so much more with it, and they’ll sit for a longer picture book. They understand school rules, but still want to give you a hug. Love them. I’ll start doing some longer projects/activities at the tables later in the school year, but for now, they’re mostly just on the carpet for story time. I do like to do a lot of crafts, but we’re still easing into the school year with rules and expectations. My classes are for a full half hour, so one class leaves and then the next class comes.
9:00 – 1st grade. I love first grade because I had nearly all of them in Kindergarten. They know what to do when they come in. They are excited and they love it. And I know their names, and who their brothers and sisters are so I can tell them to get it together. haha. K-2 classes sit on the carpet and my formula for K-2 is generally – sing a welcome song, then we have story time (I read a book), we do an interactive activity (last week we sang a welcome song with each student’s name to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, this week we’re playing a little Jumping Jack game), then we do a library lesson, we do book check out and then stickers and then it’s time for them to go.
9:30 – Kinder. Little wiggly worms. They’re still learning how to behave. Most of our students didn’t go to Pre-K so there is a loooooot of learning to go through in Kindergarten. The first week is the hardest, and then most of them get it together. Again, MOST of them.
10:00 – 1st grade again!
10:30 – 1st Grade lunch duty. The bane of my fine arts existence is doing lunch duty. I don’t want to digress, but I could go on at length. Let’s move along. I don’t want to bring this lovely day down.
11:00 – 3rd Grade. I could really use a break at this point, but there isn’t oneeeeee. My 3rd-5th classes sit at tables, and I have another large smart board on that side of the library. The formula for them is generally – sit down, chit chat, library lesson, book check out and then centers. I won’t get into centers, that could probably be a whole post, but I don’t want to bore you with the details.
11:30 – 4th Grade. Same as third, but bigger. The 4th grades are probably our toughest this year.
12:00pm – 3rd Grade again.
12:30 – Lunch finally. This is very late for me to each lunch. I think we ate at 10:30 last year, which was very early haha. They change the schedule every year! I always, always, always take a break for lunch. I have a small couch in my office so I sit there and eat at my lunch while reading my book. It’s time that is sacred to me.
1:00 – 5th Grade. Last class of the day. The big kids. I’ve had them all since Kindergarten and I know most of their quirks by this time. We have a really great bunch this year.
1:30 – Now I have a little break where I kind of “reset” the library for the next day. Tidy up my materials, make sure that the last class left everything fairly picked up. I’ll walk through the library and pick up anything out in the stacks, etc. I will also check my e-mail real quick to make sure we don’t have any end of day updates.
1:50 – Dismissal begins. I’m always on bus duty, so I check off all of the students and walk them out to their bus.
2:20 – Dismissal wraps up and I head back to the library to do anything that still needs done. I usually do any shelving at this time, laminating, fulfil teacher requests, place book orders, repair books, work on lesson plans for the next week of classes, etc. Meetings always happen right after school too so we may have a meeting or a training every now and then. Teachers are usually milling about at this point so they come to me if they need any books. I also run the safety patrol club with my friend, so we meet now to talk about anything that needs to be done. Andddd I’m starting my fifth grade book club in a few weeks, so I’ve been working on that too. Just enough time to get it all done! Eek! Ok, now you might be wondering how I get everything done in that time. I usually make a list at either the beginning or end of the day with my *MUST DO’s*. I love my new planner from Golden Coil that I got this year. I chose a weekly layout that has three squares for each day, so I make my list there. I do actually have enough time to do everything, and if one thing doesn’t get done – it’s shelving. I can always put that off until the next day. Teacher needs come first, then my own class/library needs, and then shelving. 🙂
3:00 – Teachers are dismissed for the day. I’ve committed to consistent blogging, so what I’ve decided to do is switch off my school brain (as long as there isn’t anything urgent) at 3pm and stay after school to write. I’ve been finding that it takes me about half an hour to 45 minutes to write, edit and post a full blog post, so I’ve been getting done by 3:45 or so. I go get the boys from their school then! I actually like it better than going right at 3 because I don’t interrupt their recess time. They’re all sweaty, bothered, and miss their snack if I get them right after school. Around 4 works a little better for me and for them!
And that’s it! We usually get home around 4:15 or so, and then it’s playtime, dinner prep, dinner eating, waiting for husband to come home, baths and bed. 🙂
It’s a full, busy day that’s full of life! Any follow up questions? Drop them in the comments if you do!!
I know, I know. It’s only mid-August, but once school starts, it’s basically soup season, right? I think part of these feelings must stem from how absolutely frigid they keep my school library. I need a warm little meal packed from home on my lunch break while wrapped in a cozy sweater more than ever. Maybe if I were still out in the wild world, and not tucked away in my windowless, season-less arctic tundra of a library, I’d be munching on tomato sandwiches, lettuce wraps, and peaches with burrata cheese and sprigs of basil as most are wont to do in mid-August. I used to be a Children’s Librarian at an amazing public library down here and one of my co-workers would pack herself soup for lunch no matter the season and I kind of love that. Feels very librarian-y. I’m not so extreme as to cut all other meals out of my life once school starts, but I do like making soup on the weekends. It’s one of those foods that tastes even better the next day, and you know I’ve been thinking about getting my sourdough starter revived too. There’s nothing that goes together so well as soup and a crusty boule of sourdough. I thought I would share some of my favorite soups and a few that I’m thinking of trying this season just in case you are in the mood for soup too.
Lemon-y Lentil Soup. One of my all time favorites. Make SURE you get red lentils, They break down in such a way that makes this soup so thick and delightful. Brown and green lentils keep their form too much for this one.
Classic Chili. We make our first batch of chili a big event. It’s an opening day of football tradition. Don’t skip the fixings. My husband makes the BEST chili and I’ll have to get him to type it up one of these days, but this one looks pretty similar. We always top with cheddar cheese, red onion diced tiny, corn chips, and sometimes sour cream if it’s a spicy batch.
Pasta e Fagioli. Ok you guys, I have a recipe that I’ve always used for this (my husband I took a cooking class in our early days of marriage and the chef taught us how to make this soup!), but early in my instagram days an Italian girl messaged me that what I was making was so far from a true Pasta e Fagioli that it couldn’t even be called that. And then she sent me a link to this very complicated looking recipe, and so I’ve never talked about this soup again on my account. Ha! Maybe I’ll get the courage to share my recipe again, but for now – try the one I’m linking now. It looks simple and yummy.
Country Potato Soup. (Pictured above) Obviously this is the magnolia recipe from Joanna Gaines and it’s soooo good. I dream about it every year when the 70’s hit.
Street Corn Chowder. I just made this over the weekend, and it’s as good as I remember. You can use frozen corn instead of corn on the cob and this makes it a year round option.
Soups I want to make this Fall:
- Pumpkin Soup – Last year I made soup in a pumpkin and you better believe I’m doing it again.
- Taco Soup
- Chicken Noodle
- Beef Stew
- Tortellini Soup
- Tortilla Soup
- Lasagna Soup
- Butternut Squash Soup
- Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese (obviously)
Tell me your favorite soup for soup season in the comments! I’m going to make it a season of soup!! And if you too are making it a soup season – this is our favorite dutch oven. I use it for sourdough and every soup we make! In other cozy news. I want this, this and this.