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Guest Post: Primo’s Red Beans & Fries

Time for another guest post from my cousin Primo, straight from his pad in NOLA!  Seemed perfect to post on a Monday!

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It’s Monday and that means it’s red beans & rice day down here in New Orleans. In the 19th century, Monday was laundry day in the city. Without washing machines, the women of the house had to wash all of the household’s laundry painstakingly by hand, leaving little time for cooking.  So dinner had to be something that could cook without being fussed over.

Enter the red kidney bean, brought to New Orleans by those fleeing Haiti’s slave rebellion. The beans needed to soak overnight before cooking. After soaking and draining them, housewives simply set the beans on the stove with fresh water to boil until tender, and then added a delicious helping of sautéed “trinity”– the Cajun/Creole cooking base of diced onions, celery and bell peppers.  This would typically also be combined with leftover ham from Sunday’s big family dinner.

While I love red beans and rice, I wanted to mix things up a bit and put a small twist on a local staple. While Monday is ‘red beans and rice day’ down here, it’s Monday Night Football for  the rest of the country. Football and finger foods go together like, well, red beans and rice. Thus, red beans and FRIES were born.

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(FeauxNote: if you’ve made up a big batch of red beans & have some leftovers, this is a great way to use them up.)

INGREDIENTS:

Frozen waffle fries (or if you have a mandoline, you can make your own)

1 can Blue Runner red beans

1 lb smoked sausage (traditionally andouille or tasso, but use what you like best)

1/2 – 1 cup of trinity (diced bell pepper, celery & onion)

Green onions for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 400F and when at temp, throw in your French fries (waffle fries hold up best for our purposes; Alexia makes some seasoned waffle fries, and Great Value sells a generic for about $2.00).

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While I have the luxury of a modern washing machine, I decided to cheat and use a can of Blue Runner creamed red beans for experimentation purposes (and because I felt lazy). (FeauxNote: I can get Blue Runner at Wal-Mart in Missouri, but if you can’t find them, you can try this Crockpot recipe.)

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While the beans heat up on the stovetop, dice a link or two of your favorite sausage—andouille in my case (FeauxNote: Johnsonville makes a New Orleans style smoked sausage if you can’t find real andouille near you) and drop the sausage in a medium skillet or saucepan to begin heating up and releasing that delicious fat. Enter your “trinity”. Again, I cheated and bought a container of pre-chopped veggies.

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Add as much or as little to taste. Sauté those fine ingredients together until your onions become translucent. At this point, your peppers and celery will retain their crunch for a good texture contrast. Remove from heat.P1010246.JPG

Place a good base layer of your fries on a plate (platter if serving family style). Add a layer of the trinity/sausage. Heap your creamed red beans on top (FeauxNote: I added the Blue Runner beans to the pot and mixed it all together, rather than keeping them separate & layering—still tastes awesome). Lastly, garnish with some freshly diced green onions from your window garden…

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…add a dash (or 5) of hot sauce, and serve.

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Oh, and watch out for aliens posing as butternut squash. (Compliments of Feaux’s Hubs.)

Since the serving size on this varies (especially if you’re sharing with a group), I won’t attempt a NutriFacts sheet, but just use your brain—stop when you’re full.

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Hey….I didn’t say it would EASY.  But just TRY to have some restraint.

Have a great week, folks!

Hey there—remember back in the day when I made St. Patty’s Day Egg Rolls?  Well, that little venture got a lot of gears turning, so that I just started making baked egg rolls with just about anything.  There’s the Southwest Egg Rolls, and at some point I’ll finish my post about the Sushi Egg Rolls (I forgot to take a photo of the finished product before we ate them all, which means I need to make them again!).

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Really, my egg roll recipes are typically born out of necessity.  Because when you buy egg roll wrappers, there’s 20 in a pack.  And as much as I love them, we really can’t eat more than 8 between the two of us in a sitting.  Which means you still have 12 wrappers laying around, mocking you—“okay Captain Kitchen Improv, now what are you going to do with US????”  And oddly enough, I’ve never just said, “well, I have some pork & cabbage…guess I’ll just make normal egg rolls with you.”  Because that’s not how I roll. And I prefer to make baked rolls, because they’re just WAY better for you, and as long as you give a nice light spritz of olive oil on the wrapper, they still get a really satisfying crunch.

As we move through this post, you’re going to notice something---between the prep photos & the final product photos, it looks as though my jambalaya stuffing has magically changed color.  It hasn’t.  But the first time I made these, I was using my Crock Pot Jambalaya recipe, and then the second time I made them with my Chef Folse recipe.  You can choose either, depending upon your preference, time allotted, etc.  Or you can even cheat & buy some Zatarain’s jambalaya mix.  You can also mix it up & use seafood instead of chicken or sausage (or even venison).  Totes up to you.

PS—this is an awesome way to use up leftovers, if you’ve made a pot of jambalaya the night before.  And these are perfect for any upcoming SuperBowl parties you might have!

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INGREDIENTS: (makes 8 egg rolls)

8 egg roll wrappers (you should find these in the produce section, usually near the tofu.  My Wal-Mart stocks them near the shredded cabbage/bagged lettuce & veggies)

about 3-4 cups of jambalaya (it can be cold or hot)

water

Olive Oil mister

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 425F.

Lay a wrapper on a clean, dry surface with a corner toward you.  Spoon about 1/3 – 1/2 cup of jambalaya onto the wrapper, not quite in the middle.

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Roll the point that’s closest to you over the filling, gently squishing a bit so the filling is uniform in thickness. 

Now fold in the sides, and then roll over once toward the far point.  Now wet the far point with the water, and then finish rolling it up.

Spray a cookie sheet with olive oil, add the rolls, and then lightly spray each of the rolls with olive oil (you can use a brush to get good coverage).  This will help them to brown all over.

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Bake for 10 minutes on each side (20 minutes total) so you get a good crust/seal on them. Then booyah—you’re done!

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Now: dipping sauces.  They REALLY don’t need one.  But it’s an egg roll—so you sorta feel inclined to dip it.  I tried Cajun mustard, but it was a no-go: just WAY overpowered the flavor of the jambalaya.  However, you could try a remoulade with it…or ranch goes with about anything.  If you get creative & find a great sauce to go with these, please leave me a note! Enjoy!

Zucchini Pasta

I grew up in the era when pasta was good for you.  “YAYYY CARBS!!!” we would scream in Health Class. (This is a lie. I’m pretty sure I didn’t actually know what a carb was until I was halfway through college.)  But anyway, pasta was totally acceptable and not at all the evil monster it’s portrayed as today.  My dad would drive us 45 minutes to the nearest “big city” (Missourites: I’m talking about Jeff City.  Feel free to snicker now.) once a year for Olive Garden’s Never Ending Pasta Bowl Feast.  Hamburger Helper was a staple in our house.  Spaghetti was one of the first things I ever learned to cook from scratch (though my earliest memories of helping my mom “cook” always involved Jiffy cake & cornbread boxes). 

When you grow up with that sort of mindset, it’s REALLY hard to break away and start thinking of pasta as something that should be moderated…heaven forbid be left out of one’s diet altogether.  But alas, I am an adult, and I am old enough to understand that MAYBEEE we should be dining on dishes that are a bit more veggie-and-protein-dense than my beloved trough of fettuccini alfredo from the O.G.

So when a friend who had recently decided to do the low-carb thing told me about the Veggie Spiralizer, I figured it was worth $15 to try it out.  Especially since we were growing zucchini in our container garden this year, and I am typically very boring with zucchini—either sautéing it with garlic & parm, or baking it into bread.

We threw this recipe together after a long day, and I’m a LITTLE proud that so many of the ingredients came from our garden—the zucchini, the tomatoes, the basil, rosemary…

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This recipe can be Paleo (if you use the right sauce) and even Whole-30 approved (if you use a pasta sauce with no sugar and nitrate/sugar free bacon, and leave off the cheese).

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 INGREDIENTS: (makes 2 servings)

1 zucchini, spiral sliced into noodles

olive oil

1 sprig rosemary

1 tsp garlic, minced

1/2 jar of your favorite pasta sauce (we used Bertolli’s Organic Olive Oil, Basil & Garlic sauce)

small handful of fresh basil

2-3 slices bacon, cooked & chopped

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

1 green onion

1/4 cup shredded parmesan (I get Priano from Aldis—great quality & CHEAP)

 

DIRECTIONS:

Spiral-slice your zucchini.

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Then add your noodles to a large skillet w/olive oil, rosemary & garlic over medium heat, tossing/stirring frequently for about 5 minutes.

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Then add the pasta sauce and tomatoes to the pan, lower heat to medium-low to heat the sauce.

Add the basil (julienned) near the end so it doesn’t get bitter.  Then transfer into two bowls, top with the bacon, cheese, & green onions (and the rosemary sprig for garnish). 

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NUTRIFACTS:

 Calories 269.2

  Total Fat 15.2 g

  Saturated Fat 4.9 g

  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3 g

  Monounsaturated Fat 2.1 g

  Cholesterol 18.6 mg

  Sodium 909.0 mg

  Potassium 627.3 mg

  Total Carbohydrate 20.7 g

  Dietary Fiber 6.1 g

  Sugars 13.6 g

  Protein 11.1 g

Thai Cashew Quinoa Salad

A friend recommended this dish on Pinterest. I’m a big fan of her Chinese noodle salad, so I figured if she liked this, then it had to be good!  It’s so fresh and crunchy—and I LOOOOOOVE all those colors! I tweaked the recipe a bit to add a little more heat to balance out the sweetness of the dressing.

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INGREDIENTS:

¾ cup uncooked quinoa
1 heaping cup shredded purple cabbage
1 red bell pepper, diced
½ red onion, diced
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup edamame, shelled
½ cup cashew halves
½-1 cup chopped cilantro (we like a lot of cilantro)
¼ cup diced green onions

For the dressing:
¼ cup smooth peanut butter
1 tsp ginger
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp sriracha
Water to thin, if necessary

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DIRECTIONS:

Cook the quinoa according to package instructions—it should make about 2 cups when cooked. Set aside in the pot.

Add the peanut butter and honey to a small microwave safe bowl and nuke for about 20 seconds. Add in ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, olive oil and sriracha and whisk until smooth and creamy. If necessary, thin the dressing by adding a little more olive oil or some water.

Drizzle half of the dressing over the cooked quinoa & mix to coat.  Then in a large bowl, combine the red pepper, onion, cabbage, carrots, edamame, cashews, and cilantro. Fold in the quinoa.  Add as much of the remaining dressing as you’d like (to taste). Garnish with green onions. Chill until ready to eat.

We served it with some grilled chicken, and topped the chicken with a little bit of the leftover dressing.

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NUTRIFACTS: (salad only)

Calories 234.3

  Total Fat 9.5 g

  Saturated Fat 1.4 g

  Polyunsaturated Fat 1.4 g

  Monounsaturated Fat 2.7 g

  Cholesterol 0.0 mg

  Sodium 485.6 mg

  Potassium 160.5 mg

  Total Carbohydrate 29.1 g

  Dietary Fiber 3.4 g

  Sugars 6.4 g

  Protein 10.0 g

Thirsty Thursday: Stormy Bayou

During my last trip down South, I picked up a bottle of Bayou Distillery’s Spiced Rum. Bayou started up out in Lacassine (between Lake Charles & Lafayette, my old digs) last year.  And I mean, you know how much I love all things local—even if “local” means “someplace near where I USED to live”.  Rum, made from sugarcane, has always been closely associated with Louisiana; Kansas has their amber waves of grain, Louisiana has emerald tidal surges of sugarcane, which contribute $2 billion annually to the State’s economy. The Jesuits began making rum in Louisiana back in 1751 and it’s been a strong tradition since that time.

I love spiced rum for fall drinks, but on this particular day I was craving something a little lighter, since it hasn’t really cooled off here much.  Our leaves have only just started to change, and it’s 70 degrees right now.

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Our neighborhood market was running a sale on Jamaican style ginger beer, so this of course made me think of one of my favorites: the Dark ‘n Stormy.  Of course, a true Dark & Stormy has to be made with Gosling’s Black Seal rum & ginger beer…but this is our Bayou version…with a bit of a minty twist (because I planted mint this summer, and I have a RIDONKULOUS amount of it to use up.

INGREDIENTS:

2 oz Bayou spiced rum

4 oz ginger beer

juice of 1 lime

4-5 mint leaves

DIRECTIONS:

Muddle mint with the ice at the bottom of a glass.  Add rum & ginger beer.  Garnish with a lime wedge.

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Eggplant Caponata & Sausage Sandwiches

Aaaaand I’m back.  The Scoop is closed—for good, rather than just the season.  We decided it was all just too much—juggling our full time jobs plus trying to make sure our business ran well & didn’t fall into disrepair.  There are so many things I wish we could have done with it—more recipes, more branding, more promotions, more fundraisers… but there was just never enough time.  And given that we’d like to start a family soon, that would be WAYYYYYY too much to juggle. 

Closing up shop for the last time.

It’s a little bittersweet… I mean, yes, it definitely ran us ragged and most people just went all “O_o” when we told them we had full time jobs in addition to running the Scoop, but at the same time…it was our baby.  We have a lot of pride in our ability to have even attempted owning a business while still holding on to our “day jobs”, and the fact that it was also SUCCESSFUL (in a town with 899 other restaurants, and the home of Andy’s frozen custard) feels good too.  And we had some truly awesome employees who we won’t get to see every day anymore, and I’ll miss chatting with our regular customers…not to mention the look on every kids’ face when you hand them a giant ice cream cone, so they can cram their face-hole full of sugar & sprinkles… that little twinkle that says, “no nap for me today!  MUahahahahAHAHAHahahah!!!!”

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This load of cuteness brought to you by my sis-in-law’s womb. Yes…we stuff them full of ice cream, AND buy them 100-piece toys for Christmas.  She’ll get us back one day.

So, now that I theoretically have some “free time” again, it’s time to get caught up on some posts!  Because I haven’t stopped cooking!

First up, this tasty sandwich.  Our local farmers market had these gorgeous white eggplants on sale & I couldn’t resist.

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I’m usually not too versatile with eggplant, typically making baba ganoush or eggplant parm, but I wanted to mix it up a bit.  These sandwiches on Pinterest looked awfully inviting, so I ran with it & was very pleased with the results!

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This also makes a really delicious dip to have with crostini; or you can toss it with a bit of pasta!  It makes a good sized batch, so you can be versatile with it—make a few sandwiches one night, have the dip the next night, etc.

INGREDIENTS: (makes 8-10 sandwiches)

1/3 cup olive oil
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into small cubes, about 4 cups total
4 chicken sausages (I think these were sundried tomato & mozzarella)
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
4 ounces white mushrooms, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
(NOTE: if you have a hubby like mine who doesn’t care for olives, you can alternately just add about 1/4 cup of the brine from the jar to get the saltiness & a hint of the flavor, without it tasting too much like olives for them)
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
French Bread
Provolone, Swiss or mozzarella
Fresh basil leaves

DIRECTIONS:

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat,  then add the eggplant, bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper (lightly—you can always add more later, but it’s going to cook down quite a bit so you don’t want it to get too salty). Cook for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are soft.

Add the olives (or olive brine), tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, and oregano, and stir well so that the tomato paste coats everything. Season again with salt and pepper. Lower heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Stir a few times during cooking, and add a tablespoon or two of water if the mixture is too thick and sticking to the bottom of the pan.

While that’s going, cook your sausages according to their package directions.  Once they’re done, allow to cool for a bit & then slice at an angle to make about 1/2 inch slices.

Allow caponata to cool slightly, but serve warm.  Spoon onto your bread, add the basil, sausage, & cheese.  I didn’t let my cheese get melty enough before taking pics, but if you like, you can place the sandwich open-face beneath the broiler before serving to make sure it’s good & melty.  If you have some fresh mozzarella, that would also go nicely with this sandwich.

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Loose Meat (Maid-Rite) Sandwiches

So, this is DEFINITELY not Cajun cooking.  Loose meat sandwiches, as made famous by the Maid-Rite chain and Roseanne,  are definitely a Midwest thing.  Pretty simple stuff:  seasoned ground beef, mustard, pickles, bun. Boom.  Tasty stuff.  Not a Sloppy Joe, since those have a tomato base sauce.

Earlier in the year we were considering making a loose meat sandwich as a monthly special at The Scoop.  We tested out a few different recipes but could never quite find one that wouldn’t reduce down too much over the course of the day & change the flavor or dry out.  However, we did REALLY like this recipe fresh from the pot.  The steak sauce and the brown sugar make a nice sauce that helps to bind the meat a little bit so it’s not super-loose, and there’s a good balance of spicy, sweet & acid.

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INGREDIENTS: (Makes 4 servings)

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced (or 1 Tbsp dried onions)
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp steak sauce
  • 1 Tbsp spicy mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • For Serving:  hamburger buns, mustard, dill pickles

DIRECTIONS:

Combine the meat and onion in the bottom of a large pot; cook over medium heat until browned.  Add the remaining ingredients & heat to boiling, then reduce heat to low and simmer until liquid has evaporated.  Typically takes about 30 minutes.

Warm the buns in the oven (or a toaster oven), then spoon on the meat, and add  the mustard & pickles.

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NutriFacts (per sandwich):

Calories 463.9

  Total Fat 26.1 g

  Saturated Fat 9.9 g

  Polyunsaturated Fat 1.0 g

  Monounsaturated Fat 10.3 g

  Cholesterol 85.1 mg

  Sodium 1,040 mg

  Potassium 424.7 mg

  Total Carbohydrate 29.8 g

  Dietary Fiber 0.4 g

  Sugars 7.6 g

  Protein 25.1 g

Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole

Yes, yes, I’m alive.  I know, you were worried.  It’s been a hectic summer around these parts.  The Scoop is crazy-busy:

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… and we’ve been getting to hang out outside a bit…

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Oh, and I discovered geocaching

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I may be a little obsessed (username “feauxcajun”).

But, I HAVE also been cooking. I just haven’t taken the time to blog about it.  As the Scoop season winds down, I have a little more free time again.  So, I’d like to share a recipe I swiped from my cousin Manda Starr.  Well…technically from her hubs, who made it for us for Turkey Day breakfast last year.

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SUPER yummy stuff. 

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The nice thing about this is that you can compose 90% of this dish the night before, and then just add the tater tots in the morning before you bake it. 

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb ground beef or pork sausage

4 slices bacon, cooked & crumbled

1/2 onion, diced

1/2 cup chives

salt & pepper to taste

1-2 tsp turmeric (we’re on a turmeric kick lately…it’s great for you and very mild so you can add it to anything…but it IS responsible for the super-yellow color of the dish.)

2-3 cups shredded cheese (I prefer sharp cheddar, but as you can tell from the pics, we had mozzarella on-hand.)

4 eggs

2 lbs frozen tater tots

DIRECTIONS:

Cook the meat & onions in a large skillet, then drain off the excess fat.  Transfer into the bottom of a 9x13 pan.  Then add the cheese & bacon.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, chives, turmeric, salt & pepper, then pour over the meat & cheese.  (If you prep it the night before, here’s where you refrigerate it.)

When you’re ready to bake, heat the oven to 350F, and add the tater tots.  If you’re a free spirit, you can just toss them on top and spread ‘em around so you have good coverage.  But…if you’re a little more “A type” personality…

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(I know it seems a little anal, but it actually makes portioning really easy later on.)

Press the tots down into the mixture a little bit to get a good “crust”. Then bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until the eggs are completely done.

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Makes about 8 servings.

NutriFacts:

Calories 371

  Total Fat 17.4 g

  Saturated Fat 4.2 g

  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.6 g

  Monounsaturated Fat 2.2 g

  Cholesterol 187.0 mg

  Sodium 642.5 mg

  Potassium 433.6 mg

  Total Carbohydrate 24.2 g

  Dietary Fiber 2.0 g

  Sugars 3.5 g

  Protein 26.6 g

You may be asking, “BK, how in the world do you find time to have a 45-hour a week job, own The Scoop, manage a household, (periodically) update this blog, and still find time to cook?”

The answer?  I don’t.  I’m human…as human as anyone, and I CANNOT do it all.  Thankfully, the Hubs manages most of our household finances and the more “businessy” side of The Scoop so I can focus on marketing & creating specials, and oh, yeah, also periodically feeding our own faces.  It also helps that his “office” is in our home, so if he’s slow at work, he can do laundry, load the dishwasher, etc.  But, during Scoop-season, our schedules stay pretty packed, with very little down time for blogging and getting creative with our own meal options.  I typically use the weekends to make a big batch of something in the Crockpot & then we eat leftovers most of the week.  Not exactly glamorous, but it’s nourishment and it keeps us from having to eat at The Scoop as often, since sadly, Nathan Dogs, while famous, are not all that good for you.

And I also have my friend Meghan to thank for convincing me to start using my weekends to make freezer meals. 

For my first round, I decided to go with three “casserole” type dishes and some breakfast burritos, since I am notorious for not eating breakfast in the mornings if I’m in a rush & then stopping to get fast food.  At least if I make the breakfast burrito myself, I can control what’s in it.

Rather than recreating all these recipes here, I’ll just give you the links to the helpful blogs I used:

Breakfast Burritos:

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We filled ours with scrambled eggs, cheddar, crumbled sausage, hash browns, bacon, and jalapenos (well, some with jalapeno—some mornings I’m too wimpy for that).

Ravioli “Lasagna”:

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A girl from work brought in a birthday cake in an aluminum pan, so when it had all disappeared I pilfered the pan, washed & reused it for this dish. (Yay, recycling!)

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole:

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I made two of these, since one of our church friends just had a baby, so that we could take one over to them. (Even though I know they were REALLY hoping I’d send over a pot of jambalaya.)

Cheesy Ham Casserole:

Creamy Ham Noodle Casserole Recipe

(Apparently I forgot to take a photo while prepping this one.)  We decided to make include this one because we had a HUGE ham steak in the freezer—so part of it went into the chicken cordon bleu casserole, part into this, and the rest into sandwiches.

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So that’s our lil’ stockpile.  Most of those are gone now (the burritos disappeared fast), but it’s really helped during this season of The Scoop when we just get a little too busy but don’t want to have to eat take out.

This Thursday marked our 3rd blissful year of marriage. Three years ago, it was crazy hot.  We were crazy nervous.  We were crazy for thinking we could have a midday Sunday wedding and people would dance (aside from the kids—the kids will always dance).  But that’s okay, because we’re a crazy bunch! 

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(…that will never win a synchronized jumping contest.)

Sadly, I spent most of my anniversary day in another town for a training class, but we’re going away for the weekend so that makes up for it.

Things I Learned in Our Third Year of Marriage:

  • If you decide to buy a “side business” with your husband while you both still keep your full time jobs…you might be crazy.  But you might also learn a lot, and get to eat a ton of ice cream.
  • If you decide to take a bus tour of New England, you might end up being the only Americans on the trip.  But this is okay, because a) it forces you to spend a lot of quality time with each other, b) you may learn how to distinguish various Asian communities from each other, and c) your Chinese tour guide will probably take you to the BEST Oriental buffet on the planet.
  • The Daniel Fast is tough—but it’s easier when you’re doing it together.
  • And finally—the secret to a happy marriage?  Is STILL separate bathrooms. :)

This one’s mine. Obvs.

If you missed it, I did a Wedding Week a couple years ago—here’s the links if you’re interested:

For our first anniversary (Paper), I did this heart map collage; and for our second anniversary (Cotton), I made The Hubs a pillow with a collage of ticket stubs.

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The third anniversary is Leather (or Glass for the “modern” interpretation).  Unfortunately, I have no leatherworking skills, so making something myself kinda went out the window (well, to be honest, I thought about making him some “fruit leather”, but didn’t have an opportunity to sneak it in before our anniversary.)

However, I still wanted to stick with our travel theme.  So, I found a gal on Etsy who made personalized leather luggage tags, so I made him one in a bright color (figuring that would help him pick out his bag when we fly, since our luggage is black & gray):

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I also picked up a leather-bound men’s devotional book, and got us a half-price deal to do some ziplining (since you have to wear LEATHER gloves when you go).  Since there’s also that “glass” tradition, I also picked up him a fancy-schmancy tulip glass from Deschutes (a brewery we’ve recently discovered)—which would have been a perfect place to stow the fruit leather…bygones.  He’ll stow beer in it.  Temporarily, anyway. :) 

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For our anniversary, we touristed it up down in Branson:  got a room at the Chateau on the Lake, went to a dinner show (Marco Polo), and of course, checked out all the winery & brewery tours we hadn’t yet been on (Copper Run Distillery, Stone Hill, Bear Creek…also the microbrews at Charlie’s Steak-Ribs & Ale, but we weren’t impressed).

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 Happy anniversary, Love!  Here’s to many, many, many more!

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