Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Life, Death and Hermit Crabs

The last few months, it seems like we have had so many adventures and not enough time to talk about them!

Big Sassy started kindergarten, full days. We did our annual apple orchard visit, Halloween nuttiness, visited Santa and oh yes moved 750 miles to a different country. Our new home was "flocked", Sassy went to her first Daddy daughter dance. We have had parties, we have laughed a lot, loved more and even cried quite a bit during it all. But I would do it all over in a heart beat, it was a BLAST!

One of these days I will record big sassy singing Aerosmith Pink, but for now enjoy some pictures and a song!

 The older I get the more I realize that life is not just the achievement of your goals, but rather it is all those little things that happen in between.

The years seem to speed up the older I get, a week hardly seems a long time anymore. I look into my girls eyes and wonder what is going on in those minds, I wish I could just crawl into these moments and keep living them. I wish the book would never end then, when it does, I want to start reading it all over again.

One of the hermit crabs in big sassy's class died today and we had yet another discussion about death and gravy yards. She wanted to know when she was old enough to decide if when she dies she gets to choose where her body goes. I told her whenever she is old enough to want to make that decision. Since she doesn't want to go into the compost heap and turn into dirt like the hermit crab. And she doesn't want to be buried under the ground. She would like to be buried above ground just like her great grampy, in a gravy yard with music, but not with the men who went to war to save the world (veterans) because they are important and should stay together.

 How did I get to this place? When did my little sassy get so big to calmly discuss gravy yards and burying ideas? If this is what 5 brings I cannot even comprehend what 15 will bring. What is my little sassy, full of spunk and energy going to bring? I have no idea and while I can hardly wait to find out I want to stretch out every moment of the time in between.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sicky Sassy Baby Weekly Meal Plan

I have a feeling its going to be a long week since baby sassy is already sick and knowing our luck, big sas will soon follow. Thankfully knowing this I can plan simple meals that can be made while holding baby sassy or while she is sleeping. Or even when big sassy is whining, quick and simple are the keys here. We are also planning for company this weekend so I am trying to figure out some ideas that are a little more fancy then normal. I like spending time with my company though so I will probably find something simple that comes out amazing. 

On a side note all of the Mason Jar Meals (inspiration and original aha moment from Robin at Big Red Kitchen.) were mind blowing. Mr. Sassy loved them, they stayed fresh even on Monday after making them late Thursday night. I would 100% recommend making these on a Sunday night for a work week. There are some fantastic ideas on Robin's blog for a million things NOT salads! Ingenious. I will be trying a ton of these in the coming weeks for big sassy and Mr.Sassy. Chicken cordon blue, Kids Quiche, Peanut Butter Pie, and some Sliders.

Mr. Sassy's song pick for this meal plan, Chickenfoot . Yeah they do rock.
B- Oatmeal with dried fruit (we do old fashioned oats, put the dry fruit in while the water is boiling so its nice and soft by the time the oatmeal is cooked.)
L-Salads with mixed greens, craisins, nuts, oranges, peppers, frozen blueberries and balsamic vinegar
D-Chicken Legs and Thighs in oven with BBQ, Crash Hot sweet potatoes, frozen veggies
B-Scrambled eggs and cheese
D-Shepard's pie with cauliflower "top" instead of mashed potatoes
B-Eggs and Sausage
L-Leftover shepherd's pie
D-Chicken soup
B-Eggs scrambled with ham, veggies and cheese
L-Soup and Salad
D-Ground beef tacos
B-Scrambled eggs with veggies, ham and cheese
L-Taco salad
D-Chili, salad
B-Crispy Potatoes and Eggs (this is so good, we tried it for the first time last week very much a skillet.)
L- Leftovers, salad
D-Steaks on the grill, carrots and broccoli on the grill, grilled potatoes
B-Big breakfast, eggs, bacon, potatoes,
L-Salad, leftovers
D-Mr.Sassy's choice, he wins the cook for the night award.

There you have it, a voyeuristic sneak peak into what the Sassy Family is eating this week. Remember a meal plan does not have to be complicated. Plan one day, or maybe plan one meal a day, it doesn't have to be crazy. The key to a good meal plan is to be honest and to make food you love and your sassy kids love. If that means you plan Kraft mac and cheese and hamburger helper then so be it. If that's what you eat, be honest with yourself and write it down, the ingredients you need and plan it. Some times I mix it up, I make Mondays meals on Thursday cause I don't want what I planned. But its OK, since I already did the shopping and have the ingredients I can do that, if I don't make a meal one day I can make it next week.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Back up plan, meals for when you really don't have a minute

I have these days some days where I try as hard as I can and nothing can just go properly. Big sassy is late for school, little sassy cries all day, the house is filthy, dinner isn't planned ahead and big sassy comes home crying and starving. These are the days that I need some kind of back up plan. I need to be able to throw SOMETHING edible together that is filling, tasty and the sassy girls will eat.

Here are my top 10 back up plans. most of these are fairly primal. They are not fancy, but they will help you avoid the drive thru or delivery man. I do not have any salads listed on here but that is an awesome idea as well, the sassies do not view salad as an acceptable main dish item and we tend to serve it as a side item. Fish is also a very easy quick cook, especially when you already have it in your freezer but big sassy thinks that fish and seafood is poison and will not knowingly eat it.
  1. Don't cook the veggies. Worry about your meat, chicken legs, meatballs whatever. Just throw some carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes and apple slices on a plate. Dip away in whatever is in the fridge, balsamic vinegar and oil, Italian dressing, sour cream mixed with any type of season salt/seasoning, almond butter....seriously don't limit yourself.
  2. Speaking of that, just do a tray. For some crazy reason the sassies love this more then words can say. Roll up lunch meat, chunk pieces of ham or salami, slices of cheese or string cheese, olives, raw veggies, pickles, any single item in your pantry, cupboard, fridge that is edible and throw it on the platter. Pour some types of dip out honey mustard, Italian dressing whatever else you love. Set out forks/spoons and dig in!
  3. Frozen ground beef. Chuck it into a pot, put about 1/8-1/4 cup water in (depending on pan size, just enough to cover the bottom.) put a lid on it and randomly check on it scraping off the cooked parts. Not very fancy but it gets the job done. I can trick my kids into eating "veggie noodles" by peeling the green off of zucchinis and then peeling them into long noodles (stop before you get to the seeds, then peel the other sides.) boil until just before fork tender. Throw the ground beef on top of these, heat a jar of pasta sauce and pour on top. Always keep this on hand ALWAYS, even if you are crazy like me and make your sauce from scratch each time, buy the best jar you can find/afford and save it for this moment.
  4. Frozen ground beef, cook as above but this time season with taco seasoning and serve on either homemade primal taco shells or as a taco salad. I keep some tortilla chips (bad, bad primal mommy) on hand for an emergency such as this.
  5. Fajitas either in lettuce wraps or just as a "cooked salad", cut up 2 peppers, 1 onion, 1 zucchini, throw some oil in a large frying pan, start cooking at medium high heat sprinkle with a pepper blend of mixed seasoning. stir frequently. Then take a London broil (or sub chicken), sprinkle with same seasoning as vegetables, heat a large frying pan or better a grill, and throw the meat in/on. (keep stirring your veg) let cook at a medium high heat until it begins to brown (no burning allowed.) Flip and cook the other side. test temp. 155 is prime to remove and let rest for 10 min, then slice and serve with the cooked veggies, sour cream and shredded cheese.
  6. Steaks, always the most awesome fast meal. Preferred on the grill but doable in a pan. Season with whatever you have, salt, pepper, rosemary, garlic etc. Grill or pan fry until done. Cut an acorn squash in half, spoon out seeds, put a spoon of butter and sprinkle of cinnamon inside the cavity. Put the squash in microwave safe dish and cover with plastic wrap, microwave for 10 min. Test by poking a fork into the thickest part of the squash (inside!) if it goes in really easily its done, if its really hard still give it another 5 minutes and retest, if its almost there give it another 2 minutes. Once done scoop out the flesh and place in a bowl, add salt, butter and cinnamon to taste.
  7. Thai red curry leave out the cornstarch its unnecessary, add in 1/4 teaspoon of fish sauce and 1/4 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil. Not necessary but those are the "secret" Thai ingredients. Also fry in coconut oil not olive! Grate (yes grate) cauliflower or you can cut it into chunks and food process until it looks like grains. Stir fry in coconut oil to give you some faux rice to put this on.
  8. Burgers, any which way. Ground beef, worcester sauce, BBQ sauce, fave seasoning salt, smell to make sure it smells "seasoned" if not add more seasoning until it does, if it doesn't smell seasoned it will not taste it. Form into patties pan fry or grill. Steam veggies or quick fry some veggies as a nice side.
  9. Stir fry, something i'm not so great at but wish I was. Amazing stir fry breakdown HERE.
  10. Primal sausage stuffed squash amazing idea, and so good. Nice creamy squash and the flavor of the sausage is awesome too. I use less greens other wise big sassy insists i'm trying to feed her "grass" and won't eat it.
So there you go, some quick ideas to get you through that slump. These are also fantastic things to add to your weekly meal plan so that you have a really fast meal on those days you are home late or have after school/evening activities.

And to be honest sometimes we do drive thru dinner, yep we do. My kids know the inside of happy meal box, some days that's just our reality. Check out Paleo Fast Food for some ideas to keep in mind for those times you do get stuck in a drive thru line.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mr. Sassy's Brownies

Poor Mr. Sassy, he had to work a double shift yesterday 8am-12pm, and the poor man wasn't able to bring any food. Yeah big whoops, that's totally points off my wife of the year title. See Monday is shopping day and I hadn't really PLANNED what to do with Mr.Sassy working....totally my bad.
So I nicely brought him a salad bar lunch, and brought him his MAN CHILI for dinner. I thought since the poor guys he works with had all been sitting around staring at each other all day maybe I should make them something nice. Since I really wanted to bake and cannot eat anything I bake since I'm trying really hard to do a Primal 30 day challenge. Us Sassy girls whipped this up.
Definitely something you should have been eating All Your Life.

Yeah, it really is all that.
Ultimate Chocolate Chip n' Oreo Brownie.
Say it 5 times fast, I switched the basic cookie recipe around but besides that this is straight from Kevin & Amanda and they have 110 variations for all seasons. They really are lovely people and she puts so much care into all she posts and does. Go make a batch of these then while eating them browse her blog.

Ulitmate Chocolate Chip n' Oreo Brownie

For bottom cookie layer
2 cups flour
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup butter softened (2 sticks or 1/2 lb)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1-2 cups chocolate chips

Oreo Cookies any type
Brownie mix any type. You can replace the oil with butter for a better flavor.

(preheat oven to 350 f)
1. Cream all the sugar and butter together
2. Once fluffy looking (should take 1-2 min) add eggs on at a time, mix thoroughly
3.add vanilla and continue mixing
4. slowly add in flour, baking soda and salt
5. mix in chocolate chips, stir until combined
6. Line a 9x13 rectangular cake pan with parchment paper
7. Mix thoroughly then spread into a 9x13 pan
8. Place Oreo cookies on top of the cookie dough
9. Make brownie mix according to package
10. Pour on top of the Oreo/cookie mixture spreading carefully.
11. Cover with foil (do this I forgot.)
12. Bake for 30 min
13.  Remove foil bake for 15-25 min
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Brownies will be gooey when moist but will be very easy to cut once they cool down.

Man Chili

Conversation over breakfast this morning
Big sassy "Mom, how old is our house?"
"umm its 134 years old honey"
big sas " so that's really old right?"
"when is it going to die then?"(said in super sad pathetic voice)
wth? "umm well houses don't die honey, they you know, fall into disrepair, burn down and other things."
"oh so our house will live to be 1,000 then." and then happily went back to eating her eggs.
Strange sassy.

Big sassy begged to watch you tube Sophia grace this morning. This kid cracks me up I forgot how funny she is to have around all day.

Last night was man chili for dinner, and since I completely had nothing in the house to pack Mr.Sassy for his lunch. I hand delivered a serving of man chili and a pan of the most decedent brownies ever. He claims he shared, I'm not so sure.

Man Chili is basically bean less chili (therefore making it primal) with as much meat as you like/want thrown in for flavor. Since yesterday was shopping day and it literally took the whole frigging day, I had to throw this all together in the midst of insanity. The meat went in frozen to begin with so just note that if you carefully cooked it up/browned it first then it would be a thousand times better.

Man Chili
(easily doubles)
adaption for crockpot included

2 Carrots
1 smallish onion
1 zucchini
1lb ground sausage
2lbs steak cut into chunks or stew beef
(plus any try any other type of meat, chorizo, hot sausage, Italian sausage, lamb, bison)
2 large cans of tomatoes (use already chopped if doing a quick less then 4 hour cook or whole if cooking for a long time)
1/2 small can of pumpkin
2cups of stock, beef, chicken or vegetable, pick your favorite (we use beef bone broth)
1/4 cup  BBQ sauce (we use DINOSAUR BBQ)
Chili Powder
2 Bay Leaves
1 tablespoon Worcester sauce
2-3 cloves Fresh Garlic
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
salt and pepper to taste
optional can of beans (drained and rinsed)
optional can of green chilies (for spicy sassiness!)
 Leave out the zucchini, carrot and pumpkin if you are lowering all carbs. You will need to add an extra small can of tomatoes or an extra cup of stock.

Brown sausage(and any other ground meat) in the pot you want to cook the chili in (unless you want to use the crock pot, then just use a large frying pan) remove, then brown steak/beef plus any other type of meat you will be using in this same pan. You want the ground meats to be cooked through and the other types of meat to be be at minimum browned. This will be cooking for hours so it will all cook through have no fear.

You can cook it all together, you will not get the same flavor as with following the directions but sometimes a girls got to do what a girls got to do!

While Browning the meat, peel the carrots and cut the ends off the zucchini and carrots. Grate them all.

Chop the onions and press or chop the garlic as well.

Add the onions, zucchini and carrots to the pan along with all the meat, cook until the onions begin to turn translucent. At this point if you want you can add this all to a crock pot. Add the tomatoes, pumpkin, stock, BBQ sauce and if you are using them, the can of beans. Stir well, then begin adding spices. I purposefully did not give an amount of chili powder, please add roughly 1 teaspoons. About 30 min before serving, taste, if a stronger "chili" taste is desired add more. Also please smell all your spices/herbs before cooking with them. Its neat to smell something and realize later on how that taste and smell plays into your food.

If your counters/stove/pots all look as messy as mine, it is a success so far. Bring the chili to a boil,and stir, lower the temperature until you have mild bubbles (simmer). This means you have frequent small bubbles that seem to just happily be there. If they are large, popping strongly or seem at all angry, turn the temperature down. You WILL burn your chili to the bottom if its too hot. If you put into a crock pot don't worry. Stick it on high for 5 hours or low for 7-9.
This can be cooked at a higher temperature on your stove top if you watch it carefully, this will take about 3 hours. On a nice mild bubbling temperature it can go 6 hours. Or longer

Chili is done when the steak/beef shreds easily and the chili has good flavor. *(this means shove a spoon in your food and taste it. Just do it.) You may add in more BBQ sauce, chili powder, garlic or anything that else looks good.

The Sassies love this chili and thankfully they have no clue that its full of pumpkin, zucchini and carrots. These can easily be left out without affecting the chili at all, this will lower the carb content. We eat primal  but don't worry about the carbs in vegetables especially for the sassies. If you remove those vegetables you will need to add an extra small can of tomatoes to replace the liquid you lose.

I top with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream. The girls have to have Frito's corn chips or the refuse to eat it! You can easily do it without any of the above, or add on top onions, peppers, whatever floats your boat or gets your sassy kids to eat it!

What do you top your chili with?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sunday (getting ready for Monday) Meal Plan

Sunday's are usually my day to hang around being so happy my little sassies wake up at 6am, every day, especially on the weekends. Someday I will figure out how to make that stop, for now I don't have any energy for any kind of planning but meal planning.

I usually plan a weekly menu on Sunday so I can do my shopping with only one little sweet sassy thing Monday while big sas is in school. This week is vacation, so I have the joyful experience of bringing two energy laden Sassy Sisters into the stores. People here love me.

Meal planning is annoying sometimes, but since it helps to keep our weekly budget around $80-$120 I will do it. I usually spend around $90 initally and then spend a little more later on in the week. If we have company the weeks budget usually looks like $140. I am trying to come up with some good ideas, I am sick of the "old faithfuls" and we are re challenging ourselves to eat more primal/paleo. 

So the menu for this week is pretty choppy since we are gone Friday, Saturday and Sunday to go visiting the inlaws. Also Big Sas is home this week so I will be trying to make meals that make good amounts of leftovers so that she will have enough to eat with little sas and me for leftover lunch. School lunches for her are different since she has this thing about hot food and cold food.

Mr.Sassy thinks we need some "Billie Jean" to get us through this so rock out and read on.

B-Baked egg ham cup usually takes 15-20 min depending on how long the oven takes to heat.
L-Salad bar from the grocery store (ending our shopping trip with this is the sassies fav treat)
D-Man Chili and salad will post this recipe when we make it.
B-Eggs scrambled with veggies and ham.
L-Leftover Man Chili, salad.
D-Pulled Pork, Roasted Broccoli, acorn squash and coleslaw (a must for all good pulled pork)
B-Crispy Potatoes and Eggs. Adding in zucchini and pepper and bacon.(always bacon.)
L-Leftover Pulled Pork and veg.
D-Roast Chicken, Baked Sweet Potatoes,
B-Banana Crepes and Sausage
L-Leftovers, Salad
D-Primal Shepard's Pie (hopefully using leftover chicken, otherwise ground beef) use cauliflower instead of potatoes.

I do not plan snacks each day, I generally buy enough to be 1x a day for little sassy. Big sassy takes a Stoneyfield yogurt tube or Cheese string to school for her snack, then she has a snack with little sas after school. This week will be mangoes, grapes, frozen berries, slice of chunky cheese (from a block, yes we call it chunky cheese), pears, and yogurt dip. Plus I'm sure we will see something truly awesome and awe inspiring in the store that the sasters HAVE TO HAVE. Hopefully it will be so phenomenol it bring a stunned silence in its wake.

And then because I am a lovely, amazing Wifey, I will be leaving Mr. Sassy these mason jar meals. He is working otherwise he would be coming with.  Don't tell him though, he gets all excited about this kind of thing and will bug me and bug me and annoy the shit out of me until he knows all the details. And then talks me out of doing it. He will love it though so better to surprise the man. Also I am using alot of items in these that will be leftover from our weekly menu plan! Score 2 for planning. Find HERE.
Two will be the following (layer from bottom to top) Chicken salad
Dressing, chicken, coleslaw (plain), dry cherries, almonds, Mandarin oranges.
one other will be this
Vinaigrette, chicken, hard boil egg, bacon, tomatoes, mixed greens.
one will be
Vinaigrette, roasted green beans, olives, potatoes, egg, tomato, ham.

All of these recipes are from Big Red Kitchen the last two did not have recipe links but if you click HERE it will take you to the directions, straight from Robins mouth.
Each will be put with a cheese string, a yogurt (plain yogurt, spoonful of maple syrup, cinnamon, nuts sprinkled on top) and a layered awesome looking mason jar fruit. (bottom shelf of picture in the link) with whatever fruit looks best and isn't a fortune! Also going to make some homemade Lara bars this week for a nice treat.

Life as we know it

We call our girls our Sassy's, short for Sassafrass, they are our happy accidents, the things we never would have had if chance, luck or serendipity didn't happen.

Mr. Sassy and I met halfway between our two worlds, he was from Maine and I was from California, by chance we had both taken jobs in Minnesota the previous year. His parents came out to visit him for the first time , He brought them an hour away for a guided horse back ride through the National Forest. Unfortunately it began pouring rain and they cancelled, until it stopped raining and they decided to drop in unannounced. At the stable, the two wrangler guides flipped a coin to decide which one  had to take the riders out who had ruined their short day. I lost, it was the single most unlucky lucky thing  that had ever happened to me.

To make this insanely crazy and long story short(er)
-3 months from when we met we announced our pregnancy
-3.5 months from when we met we announced our engagement
-9 months from when we met we announced the birth of our first Sassy girl
-17 months from when we met we accepted a job in Ontario (Canada)
-many sleepless nights later (ahem 8...days, not months) a long dance to Aerosmiths "Angel" and we were  officially Mr. and  Mrs.
-23 months after we met we moved to Canada, lived in a hotel for 2 months, bought our first home and took a long deep breath.

Finally about 2 years after meeting, life settled down. We lived peacefully for about 3 years and then Welcomed our Second little Sassy into our family.
Finally after 8 years of living away from Maine, Mr. Sassy  finally was able to get a position much closer to family and move back to his Home state.
December 2011 we bought our 2nd home and brought our Sassy girls (now 5 and 18 months) to where we will hopefully settle down and grow some roots.

So this year I made some new resolutions, I wanted to record more of our lives, I want (try) to sit down daily and write something about our girls. I realize now how quickly these little years go and how easy it is to lose the moments in the insanity of life.

I want to do more for myself dig a huge garden, learn how to sew, cook more, take more pictures, remember to shave both legs in the shower and most importantly to find some way and some how to include all the amazing, beautiful, wonderful people we have in our lives that we live so far from.

So this blog is for everyone, we know and we don't know enjoy a peek into what makes us go, get ideas or inspiration in the things we grow, cook and make. Laugh at the craziness and share in our sadness.
 Welcome to our crazy tragic, almost magic awful beautiful life.

The Sasters

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sassy's Valentines

So big Sas needed to make some Valentine's Day cards, and since im such a MEAN Mama and refused to let her bring candy, we had to brain storm. We found a lovely pinterest pin making heart shaped crayons. (and then we listened to some Green River Ordinance they make all craft projects more fun!)

First we had to peel LOTS of crayons. We tried to just peel the paper off with our fingers, but it took forever and was really freaking  frustrating. So out came the trusty Paring Knife, and I slit the paper down the length of each crayon, much simpler for the girls to just slip the paper off.

Then we chopped  the crayons into smitherins with a HUGE butchers knife. Big sassy arranged the pieces lovingly into each "hole" and we sprinkled the whole thing with glitter. Sassy girls LOVE Glitter.

Since the pan we melted the crayons in was silcone I decided to use an old, gross pan (use an old pan though because some of the shavings got on it and melted and it was disgusting and unable to be cleaned) underneath to give it more stability. We put them in a 200 degree (f) oven until melted. On average they took between 10-18 minutes so keep a close eye on them. We had to wait until they were competely cool to remove them or they cracked. They took about 2 hours to be really cool, but this would depend on how "full" each cup was.

I let big sassy color on cardstock in a "rainbow" of colored scribbles, she cut them into quaters and then I printed "Color the world with Love, Happy Valentines Day" on them. We threw it all into a bag, tied it with a pretty ribbon and called it good.

I would competely do this again, they turned out really well and all the kids loved them. Much more fun then just a valentine out of a box. That being said these would make really cool party favors, or we have done them in circular muffin tins with each hole being a similar shade. I would highly reccomend using a silcone baking pan whenever possible it makes a much prettier design since you don't have to pry the thing out with a knife.  Imagine in dinosaur shapes or footballs for party favors? LOVE. Have any of you done this? Any tips?

For St.Patricks day

In Easter eggs, or baskets


For Halloween instead of candy