Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Curtail the complaining

Tuesday: Salad Nicoise

Reflections from the Backcounter

I live a privileged life. I live in the greatest country in the world. I have a job, I have my health, my children are healthy and still I find the opportunity to complain and wail about injustice and the unfairness of things that happen in my life. I have food, I have a home I have a car and still I complain about my fatigue, my workload and my stress. I need to wake up. I need to reflect and I need to be thankful. Friday night woke me up and realigned my priorities.

I was at the horseshow, preparing for my daughters event when I became aware of a commotion. Initially, I did not register that my name was being called but within a few seconds, one of the barn hands came barreling into the barn bellowing my name and telling me to run to the washrack. I ran over to the wash rack and saw one of the barn hands lying on his back in the muck, seizing. If you have never witnessed a grand mal seizure it is quite unnerving and as expected this poor guy had created quite a stir and there was a large crowd gathered around watching him convulse.

Although a seizure is a very dramatic event to watch , there is very little to do for a person who is seizing in the field. Most seizures are self limited and will stop on their own. The most important thing is to keep well meaning good samaritans away from the patient and ensure that there is an adequate airway. Beyond that there is not much to do until the seizure runs its course. In this case the poor man had seized, keeled over backwards and struck his head on the cement slab of the washrack. My job was to stabilize his neck and protect his airway until the medics arrived. We got him on a backboard and just waited for the ambulance. While I was kneeling in the horse poop, mud and soapy water that defined the wash rack, I noticed that this poor victim had a large scar on his head. Obviously, he had had some type of brain surgery. Although he worked for one of the horse farms participating in the show, no one knew his full name, no one knew his history and no one was there to look out for his interests. He did not speak English and his fellow stable hands only knew his first name and that he had suffered a head injury in a car accident in Mexico two to three months before. Help arrived and he was loaded into to ambulance for transport to the nearest hospital.

The episode left me shaken, not for the obvious reason...the medicine was straight forward and the care delivered in an appropriate and timely manner. It was the moral and ethical questions that caused the discomfiture. I realized that the show horses in the barn were most likely receiving better medical care than this young man who had suffered a traumatic brain injury. His accident of birth made him a citizen of a country that does not provide for its citizens the quality of care that we as Americans expect and feel is our right. It saddened me. I hope he has enough money to pay for his seizure meds, I hope he is alright, I hope that there is a better solution to the inequity of resource allocation. I hope but I also realize that sometimes all you can do is get down on your knees in the muck and do what is needed at the moment.

He was back on the job the next morning. Earning a living and doing his job. I have no right to complain about anything.

I need to wake up, I need to reflect and I need to be thankful.



Saturday, April 26, 2008

Weekly menu and Life's lessons

  • Saturday


    10 oz. pkg. shells

    1 bunch chopped fresh broccoli or 2 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen

    4 tbsp. butter

    2 tbsp. crushed garlic or 1 tbsp. garlic powder

    1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce

    4 c. chopped mushrooms

    1/2 tsp. salt

    1/2 tsp. pepper

    2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

    1 pt. half & half

    Boil noodles, drain. Cook broccoli in small amount of water until barely tender. Mix butter, garlic, sauce, salt and pepper and half and half. Bring to boil. Lower heat and add mushrooms. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in grated cheese. Pour into large serving bowl. Stir. Serves about 6 people.

    Rib Eye Steaks on the grill

    1/4 c Worcestershire Sauce
    1/4 c olive oil
    1/4 c soy sauce
    1 clove garlic crushed
    parsley chopped

    Green Beans
    Asiago Potatoes
    16 small Red Bliss potatoes (about 2 inches in diameter)
    12 garlic cloves
    1/2 cup olive oil
    10 large basil leaves
    1/2 lb Asiago cheese, grated
    1 cup mayonnaise
    Garnish: paprika
    Generously cover potatoes and 1 tablespoon salt with cold water in a medium pot, then simmer until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain potatoes and rinse with cold water. Cool to room temperature in refrigerator, about 40 minutes.
    Meanwhile, cook garlic in oil at a bare simmer in a small heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, about 12 minutes.
    Drain garlic, reserving oil for another use, then mash to a paste.
    Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
    Mince basil, then stir together with garlic paste, cheese, mayonnaise, and salt and pepper to taste.
    Using a small melon-ball cutter or a teaspoon, scoop out a hole in each cooled potato, leaving a 1/4-inch shell.
    Stuff potatoes with cheese mixture and bake in a pan until cheese is melted and bubbling, about 20 minutes.


    El Pato Pork
    Corn tortillas
    Refried Beans

    El Pato Pork

    Pork shoulder roast or boneless pork ribs
    1 can el pato sauce
    2 cloves garlic
    1 can green chiles
    1 onion sliced

    Combine all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours. Shred and serve on warm corn tortillas . Garnish with cilantro, sour cream or yogurt, tomatoes, shredded cheese.

    Make extra chicken to use in the chicken tetrazzini on Thursday
    Salad Nicoise http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/230164
    French Bread


    Spaghetti with marinara sauce and Italian sausage
    Green salad


    Chicken Tetrazzini http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/108730


    Sloppy Joe's
    Carrot and Celery Sticks

    Reflections from the Backcounter

    Coming to the end of the horseshow and as always there are so many life's lessons learned.

    For every thrill of victory there is the agony of defeat.
    Win with grace and lose with dignity
    Be prepared
    Stay focused
    Listen to your trainer
    Take criticism with humility and learn from your mistakes
    Study, study, study
    Enjoy your victory lap....those moments in life are priceless.



Thursday, April 24, 2008

First Communion Buffet

Thursday: Salmon on the Grill



Reflections from the Backcounter

The first Communion is an important milestone in a Catholic child's life. This is a day that your child will remember forever and is a time of happiness and celebration for families. Traditionally, there is a party after the mass and it is usually hosted by the parents. Family and friends are invited to come to the party and usually it occurs on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Menus are best kept simple as last minute prep and cooking are not always possible.

A buffet is a perfect solution and also allows for contributions from family members who wish to bring their favorite recipe.

Decorating is easy...bring out all of the Catholic iconography from around the house and use it to decorate the buffet table. White linens, lengths of white tulle, ribbon and white flowers are simple ways to turn an everyday serving table into an elegant and beautiful buffet. Try elevating some of the dishes on boxes covered with a drape of fabric and decorate around them with flowers, ribbons and tulle.Food does not have to be fancy and certainly if the party is occurring right after church, there will be little time for last minute prep. Here are some menu ideas:

Most grocery store bakeries will make a beautiful first communion cake with a cross and a rosary on it.

Take lots of pictures and enjoy. This is a great day for celebration. Did I mention the dress?

http://www.catholicsupply.com/ This is a great site for finding gifts, dresses and ideas for the big day.



Punch in a punch bowl (kids love this and it is very festive)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wednesday: The crest of the mountain

Wednesday: Crock pot Fajitas

Unfortunately, my crock pot is not available so I have to shift our menu tonight. The chicken and shrimp jambalya was a hit with the barn crew and I had to leave the crock pot there for the dinner stragglers to finish. Flavors were wonderful but it overcooked. I think my crockpot has two speeds, hot and hottest. Anyway, this is a recipe that is worth making again and it traveled well. I am sure that cleaning the crockpot after its overnight stay in the barn will be similar to removing barnacles from the hull of a ship.

Reflections from the Backcounter

By Wednesday, I am always tired. Half way through the week and there is still a significant portion of the mountain to climb before the weekend respite arrives. By now, the dog hair is again gathering strength and tenacity along the baseboards and the dust is visibly clinging to every horizontal surface in the house. I am tired of the early morning rush out the door and did I mention the piles of laundry multiplying like bacteria in a petri dish?
By Wednesday, I am always tired.

If the week is a mountain, then without doubt Wednesday is the crest. Tomorrow is when the easier slide down the other side begins and the weekend respite becomes tangible. Until then, toe crampons and ice axes may be needed to reach the summit of the peak. This week is a high altitude climb because of the additional work of the horseshow.

"How you climb up the mountain is just as important as how you get down the mountain. And so it is with life which for many of us becomes one big gigantic test followed by one big gigantic lesson. In the end, it all comes down to one word; GRACE. It's how you accept winning and losing, good luck and bad luck, the darkness and the light."



Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Portable meals

Tuesday: Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya in the Slow Cooker
See recipe below on Sunday's menu

Reflections from the Backcounter

I have found that it is much more challenging to manage my family now that each child has their own calendar. I remember fondly the days when they were all nested safely in the house and the only thing I had to do was blend them into my calendar. Adding to the hilarity is the need to keep everyone fed and the challenge is to avoid fast food. Tonight is a perfect example. Horse show! I need a portable meal. The crockpot is my salvation. We are trying out the Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya and I plan to haul the slow cooker to the show grounds. There will be no eating until the classes are completed and once the ribbons are pinned, I know that my crew will be ravenous. Of course, I am working today and will be scrambling at the last minute just to leave the clinic in time to pick up everyone and race to the barn. I have found terrific recipes in a cookbook called: Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook. ( Beth Hensberger). This has been a great resource for me as the recipes are varied and contain fresh ingredients.
I did the prep last night and assembled the ingredients in the crockpot this morning . It only took a few minutes and I am optimistic that this will make a delicious dinner. The only additional item is french bread and butter.
The roasted vegetable and penne casserole from yesterday was a hit. The kids had two to three helpings each. I didn't even have time to take a photo as they dove in and devoured it. Not to mention the fact that we did not eat until 8:30! Yikes.



Monday, April 21, 2008

Frugal shopping

Monday: Baked penne and roasted vegetables

Reflections from the Backcounter

Reading the news is rarely an uplifting endeavor. Today I am struck by the concerns for the economy and the rising food prices. Clearly, the cost of groceries is on the rise. I am most acutely aware of the cost of milk as we go through so much of it during an average week. I usually choose where I will shop based on the milk cost that week as prices can vary by as much as a dollar a gallon. I carefully watch what I spend on food because the grocery bill is a modifiable variable in my budget over which I actually have a modicum of control. Let's face it, the mortgage, insurance, and gasoline costs are not that easily modified.

A few suggestions from our family budget

Always shop the grocery ads and stock up on items that are normally consumed in your household if the price is at a bargain. This requires familiarity with prices. I have read where some moms actually keep price books on frequently purchase items. Honestly, I do not have time or the inclincation to take it this far. I generally know what I should be paying for the most frequently purchased items and gauge my decision based on what is best priced in the grocery ads.

We always try to have a pasta dish or a meatless meal at least once a week and I do not buy a lot of processed foods for snacks. This is also a great way to keep trans fat out of the kids diets. More on that later.

I always buy my meat on sale and save it in the freezer for later.

Planning is very helpful to me as it keeps me from running to the store and impulse buying to put together a fast dinner. Thus the genesis of my blog.

Good luck shopping and let me know if you have better ideas

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunday prep for the week


Rib eye steaks on the grill


Champagne risotto



Baked penne with roasted vegetables. http://www.giadadelaurentiis.com/recipes.html


Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya in the Crock Pot

1 lg onion

1 cup thinly sliced celery

1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with their juice

1 14.5 oz can chicken broth

3 oz tomato paste (half of a 6 oz can

1 1/2 T Worcestershire sauce

11/2 t Cajun seasoning

1 lb boneless chicken breasts or thighs cut into 3/4 inch pieces

1 1/2 cups converted rice

8 oz raw large shrimp (16-20 of 21 to 30 count ) peeled and deveined

1/4 c chopped green bell pepper

Combine the onion, celery, tomatoes with theri juice, broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire, and Cajun seasoning in the slow cooker. Stir in the chicken and rice. Cover and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, the chicken is cooked through, and the rice is tender, on LOW for 5-6 hours, or on HIGH for 2 1/2 hours.

Stir in the shrimp and green pepper, cover, and cook on HIGH for 10-15 minutes, until the shrimp is cooked through. Serve immediately in shallow bowls with fresh French bread and butter.


Crocked beef fajitas

3/4 cup prepared chunky salsa such as a fire roasted one

1 T tomato paste

1T olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

3 T lime juice (fresh)

1 t freshly ground black pepper

1/2 t salt

1 1 1/2 pound flank steak, trimmed of excess fat and silver skin

1 large white oninon, cut in half and thinly sliced into half-moons

3 red bell peppers, seeded and cut in to 1/4 inch stips

To serve:

Warm flour tortillas

1 cup guacamole

1 cup chopped plum tomatoes

1/2 bunch gresh cilantro, chopped

In a small bowl, combine salsa, tomato pastek, olive oil, garlic, lime juice, pepper, and salt. Lay the flank steak in the slow cooker and pour the mixture over it, making sure to coat all exposed surfaces well. Lay the onion and bell peppers on top. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours, until the meat is tender.

Remove the steak and vegies from the juice and transfer to a serving platter. Cover with aluminum foil and let stand 10 minutes. Cut the meat acrosss the grain into 1/2 inch slices. Serve it heaped over warm tortillas, with the peppers and onions on top,. Garniksh with guacamole, the chopped tomatoes and cilantro.


Salmon on the grill




Homemade calzoneshttp://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/100967
I use frozen bread dough to streamline prep.

Reflections from the Backcounter

A true friend is someone who is willing to live in your house, ignore the arguments, vacuum up the cat hair, organize the kids closet and take over the kitchen to prepare the most delicious champagne risotto I have ever eaten. Friends like this are one in a million and are more precious than gold. I have been blessed to have such a friend. This of course is a friendship grounded in more than 25 years of common ground and tribulation. I am resting tonight with delicious aromas emanating from my kitchen and surrounding me with the comfort of my friend's nurturing,care and cooking. A much needed break. The crockpot meal on Tuesday is destined for a horse show. We are showing on Tuesday night and there will be no time for cooking. I plan to pack up the crockpot and take it to the barn. We have there a table and an outlet. Nothing else is needed. Once the nerves are settled and the class completed, there will be ravenous teen appetites to satisfy.



Saturday, April 19, 2008

work and life collide

I have had to take a break from my blog for the last three days as I have been running a Continuting Medical Education course for physicians. It went well and was well attended but everything on the home front went on hold. I deserve a medal for presenting a talk under duress. I had almost finished my second thirty minute presentation on Bioidentical hormones when I became suddenly distracted by noise from the conference room next door. In fact, I was not the only one distracted, all of the members of the audience were cracking up watching me trying to maintain my composure and focus while a group of Native American Medicine men were chanting prayerfully, albeit loudly next door. I hope they were including me in the prayer because I surely needed the help at that point.
Just another notch in belt of my humorous public speaking episodes. At least I did not fall off the podium or trip on the way up to the stage. I have done that in the past.

Homemade pizza on the grill tonight.



Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Work at home moms

Wednesday: Chicken Caesar salad

Refelections from the Backcounter

Many mothers in the United States have chosen to stay home and raise thier children but have had to find ways to earn money to keep the family budget on track. Opportunities to work at home have multiplied with the advent of the web and the sophistication of home computer technology. Although there are many challenges faced by women who are trying to balance the work and childrearing all under the same roof, the benefits are numerous and many women opt to do it. I admire the choice and offer a suggestion for anyone who has a small to medium sized home based business that needs a website. I know of a group of very talented women who have developed a web design company that targets small to medium sized businesses and understand the issues faced by women who choose to work at home. They are very bright and offer great service at a reasonable price. Check out their site. http://www.webatwrk.com/


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Humility or humiliation

Life has a way of keeping you humble. Just when you think you are ready to take on the week with matching shoes and all the laundry done, you find yourself on your hands and knees in the middle of the street picking up the dog p_ _ p that has exploded from the trash can that you just hit with your new (used) car. High heels and all that's just where I found myself yesterday morning. I have had to take a day to ruminate on the lessons and can only come up with one pearl from the experience.
BAG the P _ _ P!!!!!!

Luckily, the car escaped without damage.



P.S. no mention of our menu tonight...I can't justify food and p _ _ p in the same posting!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Eat more Chikn!

Monday: Leftover Chicken

Refections from the Backcounter

Fried chicken is truly one of those comfort foods from childhood that can evoke memories of hot and humid southern Sunday night dinners. The smell of the chicken cooking in the oil compresses time and transports me to the small kitchen in the white frame house in West Virginia where my grandmother made the best fried chicken in the world.

That's where the dreamy reflection ends. This is reality and making this fried chicken was an all day affair that was not even served until 8 pm. A nightmare. Luckily, I have the option of frying outside as we have a gas burner next to our grill I suppose that a contained fat fryer might work in the house but I would hesitate to recommend cooking this in the kitchen. What a mess. I was committed because I had promised my son a world class Sunday dinner, Fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans and salad. We even threw in a chocolate cake.

The food was fantastic but I am paying today. I am sure that I gained three pounds from this dinner and probably now need orthotics for my shoes as my feet are still killing me. Luckily for me, my mother came over for dinner (she was the big loser here !) and I put her to work frying the chicken. We had quite a few laughs as we attempted to get the chicken brown (not burned) and cooked through the center. A true culinary challenge. I think I broke my meat thermometer in the process as well.

After all that effort...we are going to EAT MORE CHIKN tonight. I can now see why Chik Filet has such a following.
My son just came into the kitchen for breakfast.
I just can't face it. Let him eat cake!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Weekly menu: Keeping pace with a teenage metabolism

Weekly Menu
Sunday: (Make extra to use later in the week)
Double dipped fried chicken
Green beans
Mashed potatoes
Double Dipped Fried Chicken (Paula Dean)

12 Chicken breasts
1/3 cup salt
1 2.5 pound bag of flour
3 t seasoned salt
2 t ground black pepper
6 large eggs
Peanut oil (we use canola)
Additional seasoned salt
Rinse chicken well. Place chicken in a large bowl and add enough water to cover. Add salt. Soak at least 30 minutes.
In a separate bowl, stir together flour, seasoned salt, and pepper. In a small bowl, beat eggs
Drain chicken. Dip each piece in beaten eggs and then in flour mixture. Place chicken on floured baking sheet.
Fill a dutch oven half full of vegetable oil. Heat oil to 325-350 degrees.

Dredge each piece of chicken in eggs and then flour mixture again. Shake off excess flour and carefully place into oil. Fry chicken, in batches, until golden brown turning once or twice to brown evenly. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with seasoned salt and chopped parsley.
Monday: Leftover chicken
We made enough to feed an army!
Tuesday: Pasta with tomatoes, artichokes and feta
Garlic Bread

Wednesday: Caesar Chicken Salad
Make a large Caesar Salad and top with slices of the left over double dipped fried chicken
Thursday: Zucchini Frittata
Orzo with Parmesan Cheese and Parsley
Sliced tomatoes with Balsamic vinegar, oregano and olive oil

Friday: Salami and cheese panini

Reflections from the Backcounter

Keeping teen age boys fed is such a challenge. Last night we picked up our 16 year old boy and his friends from a party and brought them home for a sleep over. We did not arrive home until after eleven because we took a detour to see the darling Bergamasco puppies I have written about before. (This is a hint...I need more pictures!) As I reflect on it, the care and feeding of these puppies is not unlike the care and feeding of teenage boys. If not fed frequently and consistently, they begin to whine, yelp and tug on their mother. Too bad I can't just get up and leave the whelping box ! In any event, these guys were starving and here I was in my kitchen at nearly midnight with the need to to whip up some sustenance for these monster teenage metabolisms. After a quick sweep of my pantry and fridge I realized that choices were limited but in the end came up with a calorie dense midnight snack. I made Chicken quesadillas with refried beans on the side. They loved it and ate their way through about a 1/2 pound of shredded cheese! My stock pantry items saved me. I love Costco...shredded cheese, tortillas and a case of refried beans always seem to find their way into my cart and last night it paid off. I am tired this morning and realize we will need to be at it again. We are aiming for pancakes (Forget pancake mix.. one box goes nowhere...I am buying flour in bulk! ) and a pile of brown sugar bacon. Off to the stove...



Saturday, April 12, 2008

The blog to the rescue

Reflections from the Backcounter

Teens need a purpose. This week was proof of this concept. It was a particularly trying week in our family: stress, strife, overwork, overscheduled... the usual. Tuesday night there was no dinner in sight and I was not in the mood to deal with it. The blog to the rescue. All of these hours diligently typing in my menus and recipes and voila...a miracle. My 13 and 14 year old daughters knocked on my bedroom door where I had taken refuge from the storm and announced to me that they had prepared dinner. When I asked them what they had made, they looked at me in amazement and said "Well the blog menu of course!" They had made the pasta with peas and mint and a salad. I was thunderstruck. Great kids, great effort, not so great recipe...did anyone else make it? We all thought it was not very good and doused our dishes in yogurt. That helped but then again we like the whole yogurt mint thing.

Looking forward to more meals next week...wonders may never cease.



Thursday, April 10, 2008

Run like the wind and teen appetites

Thursday: Layered Chicken Cobb Salad

Reflections from the Backcounter

Running is freeing. The wind in your hair and the sun on your face lift your spirits to carefree heights. The rhythmic pounding of shoes on pavement can calm a worried mind, organize scattered thoughts and soothe frazzled nerves. The only thing better than running is watching your son run! Spring brings track season to high school and with it tremendous teen appetites. Track meets run late so there is always the temptation to run for fast food. Track nights are great nights to prepare simple make ahead meals using the crock pot. I must confess, we defaulted to take out Chipotle last night. It was delicious and the break from the kitchen prep and clean up a treat.
Boil the eggs for the salad this morning and prep the salad late this afternoon.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Frugal moms

Tuesday: Pasta with cream, peas and mint http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/241610
Reflections from the Backcounter

Frugal thinking is essential in our current economy. Discretionary income is being eroded by the rising costs of food, gas and utilities. This morning the news highlighted unrest in Egypt where people have taken to the streets to protest the high cost of living in that country. Mothers need to think creatively to keep food bills on budget and household costs under control. Tonights menu saves time and money. This is a quick, tasty and inexpensive pasta dish that has a different twist.
Mother to mother networking is also a great way to save money. Special occasion outfits are always expensive. Consider lending or borrowing outfits for weddings, proms, and evenings out. Hand down clothing to other kids who are just a few sizes smaller than yours.

A great site for the horsey set is http://www.showstop.info/. This is a site organized by a group of mothers who were tired of warehousing outgrown horseshow clothes and tack. These moms used their energy to create a site for others to sell items and place wanted ads for needed clothing and tack. This is a great idea! Check it out and post an ad! I have gotten a lot of good things on this site.

Monday, April 7, 2008

No More Overload

Monday: Chicken with Corn Salsa http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/433

Reflections from the Backcounter

Monday morning...again....just spent a weekend at a horseshow with a bunch of other moms and the topic of overload came up. We were all feeling overwhelmed with our lives and the opportunity to relax at the horseshow was the best medicine we could have asked for. I recently read a great book by Richard Swenson, M.D. http://www.richardswenson.org/index.html and would recommend it to all mothers.

He remarks on the fact that most adults in the United States live their lives on overload, without margin. He defines margin as the space between our load and our limits. Overload is that point where our limits are exceeded. This is a very stressful and anxiety provoking way to live and leaves us with little energy for joy and exuberance. I hope you read his book as I gained significant insight. Unfortunately, for most of us, the have- to list of the day to day is pretty much non-negotiable. For me, I find that the key to improving my stress load is planning and organization. Without an action plan and a to do list, I fall apart. Thus, my compulsive meal planning. This streamlines my time at the store and my time thinking about and executing dinner preparation. Today's menu is really fresh and tasty. Hope your family enjoys it.



Saturday, April 5, 2008

Menu Week 8

Menu Week 8


Pork Tenderloin with Pomegranate sauce





Make the salsa and the marinade on Sunday so that prep on Monday is easy. Grill a few extra chicken breasts to use later in the week for chicken cobb salad

Chicken on the grill with Corn salsa


Quesadillas on the grill


Watermelon chunks


(20 minute meal)

Pasta with Peas, parsley, cream and mint


Wednesday:Grilled Shrimp and vegetables



Layered Chicken Cobb Salad


Bread Sticks


Take out!!!

Reflections from the Backcounter

This menu has a lot of cook ahead strategies to minimize the prep work on weeknights. Whenever you have a busy week, look ahead and do things on the weekend. The chicken can be grilled ahead of time and the marinades made on the weekend and stored in the refrigerator to be used later in the week.
The weather is changing and spring is upon us. Enjoy the grill and the lighter fare.

Off to the horseshow this morning.


Friday, April 4, 2008

Horse show fare

Friday: Slow Cooker Green chile burros

This is a great end of the week meal because the prep is so easy. Just throw everything in to the slow cooker before you go to work and when you get home your meal is waiting. Shred the meat by using two forks. Serve on warm tortillas sprinkled with cheese and cilantro. Wrap and eat. We add chopped tomatoes and lettuce on the side.

Reflections from the Backcounter

Horse shows. Always a challenge to organize. In any event there are two competitors, one equine and the other human. Both need to be in top shape and form to succeed and the synergy between horse and rider is a prerequisite to win. What is not apparent to the casual observer is the team of frazzled "Barn moms" supporting the exquisitely turned out teen riders. Behind the bejeweled hair, perfect makeup, highly polished boots and Ralph Lauren demeanor is a weary, sweaty, dusty mother toting boot polish, dust rags, hair brushes and water bottles (for horse and rider!) The event begins with the gathering of the gear two to three days in advance and the last minute modifications are made as girls seem to grow a size between each competition.

As I sit here early in the morning, I am inventorying the garment bags, boot and makeup bags and am plotting my catering strategy. Food at horse shows is the epitomy of the greasy spoon carnival fare we have all encountered at the state fairs of our childhood.

We are going fully prepared as this competition is in the hinterland and there is no returning for provisions. Wish us luck



Thursday, April 3, 2008

Believe in yourself

Thursday: Artichoke Pasta

Reflections from the Backcounter

Find your center and stay there. Life can send you a series of challenges that seem overwhelming. Your center is your safety. Often a blow can seem crushing but the truth is that women are a lot like the old clown punching bags that we had as kids. We are hit, knocked over but we always bounce back. A good friend says" Hit me with your best shot" and she always gets back up. Stay centered, have faith and remember to count on your friends. They will always help you back up.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

On overload

Sloppy Joes http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/100544
Carrot and Celery Sticks

Reflections from the Backcounter

I wrote Monday about my humble morning goals of getting to work clean with matching shoes. I suppose, 1 out of 2 isn't all that bad. I honestly wore mismatched shoes to work that day AFTER writing this blog and making a joke about it. Must have been a Freudian slip. I might as well come clean and tell the whole truth. The Mona Lisa is not the only person to have appeared in public with a blue velcro curler still in her hair. Let's leave it at that and try to move on....I need to run to the bathroom and check my hair just to be sure...Yup, my shoes match so it is a good day.