Friday, February 22, 2013

Drawing a Blank

I wasn't really sure what to write about this week, not because this week has been uneventful, but because it has been full of highs and lows and I wasn't really sure where to start.

I had a fantastic weekend with my family.  We made homemade pizzas on Friday night (love those Trader Joe's whole wheat crusts!) and treated Sophie to some Bubble Guppies entertainment.  Saturday, we made banana pancakes and headed to our favorite greenway for a family run with Sophie and the dogs.  

Banana Pancake photo courtesy of
There's a great playground about halfway through the route, so we stop and let Sophie run and play before finishing the run.  It's always fun to see the other families stop to pet our sweet dogs.  They love the extra attention! The route is a nice, relatively short distance of about 4.5 miles.  We promise Sophie each time that she can "run" the last stretch of about 1/4 mile.  How can you not smile when you watch this video of my little runner?

On Saturday night, I had a date with my mom.  We had a great dinner at a neighborhood restaurant in Green Hills called Firefly Grille.  I've only been there twice, but the food is fantastic and the menu changes about every 6-8 weeks, so they keep it fresh.  It was nice to spend time alone with her.  It was just the two of us for so long growing up, sometimes I miss that time together. 

On Sunday afternoon, my Grandma, who moved to Nashville in November along with my parents, was taken to the hospital by ambulance from her memory care facility.  She had a fever and an infection in her arm that was causing pain and swelling, and found out later that she also has Influenza A and some other issues.  Not a huge deal for a young and healthy person, but at 90, things like this are difficult to overcome.  She's still in the hospital and has a few days to go before she might be well enough to move back home.  

Grandma hasn't always been an easy person to be around and she was never warm and fuzzy, but I have always known that she loves me and I love her fiercely.  I hate watching her struggle with dementia and the loss of my grandpa, and it's hard to watch her struggle with this latest set of issues.  I know she has had a long and full life, but it doesn't seem fair that she has to suffer at the end of her life.  I hope somehow she knows she's still surrounded by people who care about her.  

I've been thinking a lot this week about my grandma and all the memories we created when I was a little girl, and the nostalgia led me to a few old photos from when I was Sophie's age.  Here's an oldie but a goodie from the 1980s Olan Mills collection!

Me at about 2 years old.  Love the corrective shoes!
 Here's hoping the next few days will bring some improved health for grandma and fun with the family.  Have a great weekend!

P.S. I just signed up for the Glencliff High School Stampede Against Diabetes 5K on Saturday, April 6 at 8:00 a.m. with a route starting and finishing at Glencliff High School.  Please consider registering to support Glencliff's efforts!  Here's the link.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Planning Ahead

I'm trying to do a better job of planning ahead when it comes to cooking.  The last two weeks, I have successfully made at least a couple of meals in advance on the weekend so we could reheat them during the week and spend more time as a family and less time stressing out during that ridiculous 5-7pm time after work and before Sophie's bedtime. 

Last week, I made this Rustic Tomato Rice Kale Stew (courtesy of Happy Healthy Life), modified slightly, on Sunday.  The only change I made was omitting the frozen pea and carrot blend and instead starting with sauteeing a frozen mirepoix blend before following the rest of the recipe.   

I made some quick cheddar biscuits along with the stew, and we had enough leftover for a couple of lunches.  My picky little eater loved the cheddar biscuits and even agreed to try a few bites of the stew.  I call that a victory!

Photo courtesy of Happy Healthy Life
I also made ahead what I intended to be a black bean enchilada dish, but after the tortillas kept breaking apart as I rolled them, I improvised and it turned into a mexican lasagna of sorts.  Sophie and I had dinner with one of my girlfriends Monday night while Jason was in session and we all devoured the dish - Sophie had two helpings.  I need to work on food photography or at least taking pictures before diving in to the finished product! 

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:  small corn tortillas, 1/4 onion, shredded light Mexican cheese, 2 cans black beans, 1 can light cream of mushroom soup, 1 8oz container light sour cream, one small can chopped green chiles, cilantro, cumin, lime juice

Saute 1/4 chopped onion of choice until it softens. Add 2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed and 1 can of real crab meat (I used Trader Joe's and this could easily be omitted) drained and rinsed and take the pan off the heat. Have several ounces of light Mexican cheese ready to add to the dish once you begin layering.

Mix 8 ounces of sour cream with a small can of reduced fat cream of mushroom soup and one small can of diced chiles.  Add chopped cilantro, cumin, salt, pepper and lime juice to taste.

Coat a 9x13 pan with nonstick cooking spray or olive oil from a mister and spread a few spoonfuls of the sauce, enough just to coat the pan.  Place small corn tortillas along the bottom of the pan (mine were already torn in half, but you could place them whole), followed by a layer of the black bean and crab mixture, and a light layer of light Mexican cheese.  Repeat 2-3 times, depending on how hearty you want the dish to be.  Spread another layer of the sauce over the top layer and add additional shredded Mexican cheese.  

We'll see if I can keep up the make-ahead meals.  I know not every weekend will allow enough time, but it's so much easier on our family when we're not running around quite as crazed after work and we can enjoy being together.  

Speaking of being together, we celebrated Valentine's Day as a family with a fun dinner out with Sophie's daycare BFF's family followed by the Preds game last night.  It was so fun seeing Sophie and her friend interact and be crazy together.  We couldn't keep them still long enough for a good photo, so this is the best I could do. 

Sophie and her BFF

Watching her with her friend takes me back to my best friend when I was not much older than Sophie is now, Megan.  I'm happy to say she is still one of my best friends and I can only hope that Sophie will be lucky enough to have lifelong friends like her.  Until next week!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Little Bit of Everything

This has been another busy and crazy week, but we've had a lot to celebrate!  

My grandmother turned 90 on Saturday.  She has dementia and lives in a memory care facility in Nashville.  I'm not sure she understood it was her birthday we were celebrating but I know she was happy to see Sophie and she was having a really good day.  And I know she has the biggest sweet tooth ever, next to mine, so she was thrilled to have a delicious birthday cake. 

We were happier than we appeared!
How lucky are we to have another photo of the four generations of Essenpreis/Corum/Powell ladies?  Here's our last four-generation photo a year ago:
Christmas 2011

Just for fun, here's a photo of my great-grandma Dena Willmann, Grandma Ruby Essenpreis, mom Jan Meyer, and me.  

We continued the celebrating on Tuesday for my mom's birthday.  I wish I had a photo to share from her birthday, but we were having too much fun to think about photos!  Happy birthday, mom! 

I haven't written much about my love of cooking on this blog, but it's one of my hobbies and I love trying new recipes and experimenting in the kitchen.  Jason, Sophie and I are all vegetarian, although we occasionally eat fish.  It surprises people to hear that Jason went veggie first, but he did.  I know one day Sophie will ask for a hot dog or a chicken nugget and we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.  For now, though, she's on Team Veg.  

On Saturday and Sunday I made a couple of recipes ahead of time for this week, including parsnip and potato mash, vegetarian sloppy joes, and a veggie lasagna. 

Parsnip and Potato Mash courtesy of
Sloppy Chicks Courtesy of

I followed the Parsnip and Potato Mash recipe pretty much exactly, but I modified the Sloppy Chicks recipe a bit.  I had extra firm tofu on hand that I needed to use sooner than later, so I drained the block and squeezed out the extra moisture before adding it to an olive oil coated pan heated to medium (5 out of 10).  I crumbled the tofu in the pan and cooked more of the moisture out, letting the tofu brown just a bit before removing and following the recipe otherwise.  I added the tofu back in before simmering the mixture.  I served the sloppy chicks with the parsnip and potato mash, and Sophie actually kind of liked it! 

I love browsing through new recipes and am always looking for friends to share their favorites.  It was great to have a couple of meals prepared in advance this week so we could enjoy our limited family time together in the evenings.  

Until next week!