Thursday, September 9, 2010


Wednesday was Porter's official first day of school. It was not a momentous occasion for him, but exciting for me. He'll be in kindergarten next year, so this will be our last year of part-time school, and we are going to enjoy it.

Pluots. Why had I never had these before? I ate four this morning.

You know what Porter's teachers told me when I went to pick him up from his first day? That he spent most of the time organizing the Legos. They were really happy about it, but I kind of wish he'd do something different.

I'm looking for a toy kitchen for Molly's birthday. Anyone have one they like? That didn't fall apart immediately?

I will admit that when I see another mom having a hard time with their screaming kids in a public place, it makes me feel relieved.

I'm Cooking: I honestly have not been on a good cooking kick lately. It's been all about the quick and easy and as few dishes as possible. I have two classic American dishes in my rotation that fall into this category, that my kids will eat, that are cooked in one pan, that contain minimal processed ingredients and are cheap and easy. They both adapted from a cookbook I have from the editor's of Cook's Illustrated, The Best 30 Minute Recipe. Anyway, I thought I'd share.

Salmon (or Tuna) Noodle Casserole

I use my own canned salmon here, but it's just as good with tuna. My kids pick out the mushrooms, but I like them in there.

2 tablespoons butter
10 oz (or however much you have) sliced white mushrooms
1/2 onion, minced
3 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces egg noodles (or any other smallish pasta)
1 cup frozen peas
1 15 ounce can canned salmon (or an equivalent amount of canned tuna)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1 cup of seasoned dry breadcrumbs tossed with 1 tablespoon melted butter

Preheat oven to 475.

Melt butter in a 12 inch oven safe skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onion, and a little salt and cook until mushrooms are lightly browned, 5-7 minutes.

Stir in broth, cream, and noodles. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring often, until noodles have softened and sauce has thickened, about 8 minutes.

Stir in peas, salmon and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the top. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until lightly browned.

Skillet Chili Mac

If you like spice, you could add some jalapenos in with the green chiles. You can also use canned diced green chiles and add them with the corn. Sometimes I also add some finely diced or frozen carrots.

1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 onion, minced
1 or 2 fresh green chiles, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
2 cups water
8 ounces elbow macaroni
1 cup frozen corn
8 ounces shredded Mexican cheese blend (or 2 cups shredded cheddar)

Cook the beef, onion, green chiles, chili powder, cumin and a little salt in a 12 inch non-stick skillet until beef is no longer pink.

Stir in garlic and brown sugar and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato sauce, water, and macaroni. Cook, stirring often, and adjusting heat to maintain a vigorous simmer, until macaroni is tender, about 10 minutes. When macaroni is almost done, stir in frozen corn.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in half of shredded cheese, and sprinkle remaining cheese over the top. Cover and let sit off heat until cheese melts.


  1. Lily got the PlayWonder kitchen from Target when she was 2, and I love it. It still looks really nice and has held up really well. It is wooden, not plastic. They have tons of cute sets to go with them too. Just a heads up though - it took Grandma a couple hours to put it together.

  2. Ooh.. Skillet chili Mac! I'll have to try this out next week! (Serve with corn muffins?)

  3. Yummers. I need some serious inspiration for the kitchen lately. I have been so not loving cooking, but who does when it is THIS nice outside? We have the wooden kitchen from Imagination Station. I have no idea what the brand is. It's pretty high quality and L loves it. Bryce should make her one with all his free time! I have seen some super cool homemade ones online. Just an idea...

  4. I know Jenn, I've googled that before too. I just sort of want him to recaulk to tub and finish the trim, and don't want to start another project! LOL.

    I definitely want a wood one, so I'll have to check out Target and Imagination Station. Hmmm. Those Pottery Barn ones are so pretty, but yikes, pricey.