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Monday Musings: 04.16.2012 Edition April 16, 2012

Posted by Toy Lady in knitting, meal plan monday, Musings, Shopping With Peeps.
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I am first going to mention this:  Last week’s pressure cooker pork carnitas?  To Die For.

We had about a 6-pound pork shoulder, boned and trimmed, and we used one-and-a-half times the spice rub.

Tacos made with this meat?

Fantastic.

Tacos again a few days later?

Still fantastic.

Pizza with a smear of the sauce from braising the meat, the meat itself, and shredded Monterey Jack cheese?

Oh my goodness.  This recipe is definitely a keeper.

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I’m hoping I didn’t speak a little hastily last week.  I mean, yeah, I’m pretty sure the worst is over, when it comes to my workload – there are timing things at play, and, of course, the interest rates can’t stay this low forever (can they?).

However, I may have underestimated just how much of my “regular” work has been shoved aside these past few months. . .

On the bright side, though, I did get the last of the bills for 2011 drafted this weekend!

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Shortly after I bought this house, I needed to replace the bathroom faucet – the handle actually broke off.

At that time, I really wasn’t in much of a position to have a plumber come to the house right that minute, so I lived with the old vice-grips faucet for a while, until my father was able to “show me how” to replace it.

Do you know how to replace a bathroom faucet?

In involves crawling UNDER the bathroom sink (inside the vanity) where there is barely room for one person (and no light).

So my lesson in  how change the bathroom faucet involved me handing tools to my  father, who was under the sink, grunting and trying to describe what he was doing  for me.

And then his coming out and asking me “Did you get that?  Wasn’t that easy?”

Well, that $30 faucet started leaking at the handles a while back, and my parents were in town this weekend, and, well, although my father isn’t as young as he used to be (and really, who among us is?), he was willing to “show me again” how to change the faucet.

This time, though, there was a point where I crawled under the sink and told me what I should do.  While I didn’t do the whole job, by any means, I feel confident enough about it that I could probably change  the kitchen faucet myself.

Assuming that nothing goes wrong with it.  Assuming that, of course.

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Oh, by the way.

One thing I have gotten done around here – I finished Peeps’s socks!

That would be his, um, Christmas socks.

I got a little ambitious at Christmastime (and really, who doesn’t?) and thought I could finish a pair of socks for both my husband and the Boy.

Have I mentioned that they both have BIG FEET?

I just couldn’t get either pair done on time – the Boy‘s were done shortly after the holidays, and poor Peeps – he got a skein of yarn and a promise under the tree.

Well, they’re finally done, and he seems awfully happy with them.

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Oooh, ooh, hey, Shopping with Peeps!

I couldn’t help noticing this display for (ahem) Recipe Insirations.

Recipe Insurrections?

Recipe Inspections?

I’ve seen the product before – it’s basically a blister pack of a half teaspoon or so of maybe half a dozen  spices, along with a recipe to use those spices.

I would think, at $2 a package, they’d be able to spring for the “p” on the sign, wouldn’t you?

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.   As I said, I may have been anticipating  a little bit – I’ve got bond pricings all week, which means I’ll be home . . . not early.  However, Peeps has things well under control and I’ll pitch in when I can, of course.

Monday – We’re falling behind on our food magazines (I can tell by the pile of them on the unused dining room chair), so when we were planning our menu, I pulled out a copy of the February-March Cook’s Illustrated.  Right there was their recipe for Sichuan Stir-Fried Pork in Garlic Sauce.  I’m going to have to try to sneak out of work a little less late than usual, I think.   The only possible problem I can see is the 6 ounces of mushrooms – neither of us is a fan of mushrooms – at all! – so I’m thinking of substituting something.  Any thoughts?

Tuesday – From the Archives – many years ago, I must have cut out a recipe from the paper for “Cajun Burgers” – no idea where it’s from originally, and I can’t seem to find anything that looks even similar on the internet, but it looks like a delightfully meatless meal – the burgers have red beans as the base.  We’re hoping for the best here!

Wednesday – No soup night this week – but Peeps pulled a quart of Cincinnati chili out of the freezer – since the sauce is all made, it’s a quick, simple mid-week dinner.  And he’s GOING to tell you all about it, one of these days. . .

Thursday – Peeps has been itching to make Moravian Chicken Pie again – so, since he’s doing the bulk of the cooking lately, I’m happy to take one for the team and suffer through this rich, delicious pot pie.  I might even suffer through it for lunch the next day, too!

Friday – Again, it’s pizza night – last week’s taco fixings were so very good on my pizza, it makes me wonder if leftover pork in garlic sauce might work.  Or is that too weird?

Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.

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Monday Musings: 02.20.2012 February 20, 2012

Posted by Toy Lady in Big Lug, random stuff, Shopping With Peeps, Stupor Kitty.
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Wow, did we have a rough weekend.

We’ve had to have some work done in the bathroom – specifically, we had the tub surround replaced.  Although the shower has been usable these past couple of weeks since the original was damaged, we certainly didn’t want to push our luck.

So, when the guy showed up bright and early Saturday morning to do the work, it was actually two guys, which is good.

But, as I feared, there was more damage that we’d initially thought – some of it probably pre-dating my owning the house.  So, for 9 solid hours, poor Jarly had to tolerate two strangers, not just in the house, but wandering around up and down the stairs, and in and out of the house.

He was not a happy camper.

So the least I could do, after they left, was give him a nice peanut butter jar to lick out.  (If you look closely, you can see that his tongue reaches almostbut not quite – to the bottom of the jar!)

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This definitely calls for an installment of Shopping With Peeps!

You know, the petals have barely even fallen off the Valentine’s Day roses, and everyone’s already hauling out the Easter decorations.

We were out shopping, and Peeps pointed out the most laugh-out-loud silly thing I’ve seen in a long time.  It’s a plush Darth Vader  – wearing bunny ears!

Is that not one of the funniest things you’ve ever seen?

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We were doing our weekly grocery shopping, and we picked up several little cans of canned dog food on sale.

The chatty checkout lady asked if we fed our dog a whole can of Mighty Dog at once, or if we divided it between two meals.

I looked at Peeps, and he looked at me, and we sort of laughed.

Then we explained that a can of Mighty Dog is, for our dog, a mere snack.  You see, I take a can of Mighty Dog, combine it with a cup or so of Jar’s regular kibble, and use the mixture to stuff his Kongs.  A frozen Kong will give us about 45 minutes of quiet (and not so quiet) slurping for pizza night.

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We have a winner for the Personal Silicone Steamers from last week – we received nine replies, and comment number three was selected by the Random Number Generator.

I’ve been in contact with our regular reader and commenter, Judy, and she’s expecting a package.

Thanks to all who participated – it’s good to know people are reading!

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I know, enough with the dog already, right?

BUT.

Long-time readers are aware of the enmity that exists between the kitty and the dog.

In short, she hates him.

And he exploits that.  It’s fun  for him to charge at her and get her worked up.

Of course, she tries to get him in trouble – she’ll growl at him for no reason until he does, which invariably gets him chased out of the room.

Well, we are working very hard to see the two of them peacefully co-exist.  You see, I’ve realized that the two of them are playing a game – the dog isn’t going to eat the cat, and the cat’s not terrified of the dog.

The two of them are more than happy to co-exist, though, if there are treats involved, aren’t they?

Photobucket PhotobucketAnd once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  It’s finally starting to look and feel like winter out there – snow, cold, frozen sidewalks, and, of course, winter food.

We love winter food.  This week, we’ll be trying some new things and revisiting some old favorites.

Monday –  I found a recipe for halibut with mustard-nut crust that looked intriguing – you may recall the pan-roasted chicken with hazelnuts that we so love – this is the same chef.  I’ll trust him.

Tuesday – We’ve got obedience class Tuesdays for the time being, so Tuesday is soup night.  We found this chickpea stew in the recent Bon Appetit magazine which, while not soup, is close enough.

Wednesday – The Boy has changed his schedule, so he’s home on Wednesdays.  We try to have a dinner he’ll enjoy (he’s not so much into soup or meatless meals), and this week, we’re going to go with our favorite weeknight pot roast – I’ve got potatoes and a bunch of baby carrots that will be perfect.

Thursday – Peeps spent the better part of Sunday making our old favorite  sugo – we’ve got dinner for Thursday and three in the freezer.

Friday – And again, Friday is Kong-and-pizza night.  Peeps’s mom comes over on Fridays, too, and she enjoys pizza and TV.  It’s also a good opportunity to work with The Jar on not scaring people.  He needs all the help he can get with that!

Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.

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Monday Musings: 11.14.2011 Edition November 14, 2011

Posted by Toy Lady in Big Lug, Garden, Musings, Shopping With Peeps, Stupor Kitty.
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PhotobucketI don’t know about you, but I think that once you start getting serious about raking leaves – THAT’s when it’s really, truly fall.  Fortunately, we had a gorgeous weekend to get some yard work done, and we even had “help” from the Big Lug.  Even more fortunately, though, we gave him a bone, so he just worried about that rather than the Big Scary Rake!

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Of course, now that we know just how easy it is, we couldn’t let the snow fly before we got some more garlic planted!  It was a simple matter of hoeing a row in the garden, spacing several fresh cloves of good, homegrown garlic about 6 inches apart, and covering them back up.  Next summer – woo hoo!  More fresh garlic!

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PhotobucketOver the summer, when I bought fresh corn, once we cut the corn off the ears, I stashed the cobs in the freezer.

Go ahead and ask.  Why?

Well, this weekend, we pulled all the cobs out, added some fresh herbage, covered the whole mess with water and simmered for a couple of hours.

Corn stock is absolutely amazing – especially in corn chowder!

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I actually remembered a camera this week, so . . . it’s Shopping With Peeps!

We’ve noticed that there seems to be a shortage of canned corned beef.  I don’t understand, first, why anyone would actually want to buy canned corned beef (I think it smells kind of like Alpo) and second, why there would be a shortage.

However, what I REALLY don’t understand?

What in the WORLD does canned corned beef have to do with Santa?

Anyone?

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PhotobucketThe secret life of kitties.

When The Evil Puppy goes upstairs to go to bed, she doesn’t even wait until he’s all the way up the stairs, and she comes trotting out into the dining room like she owns the place.

And sometimes she gets surprised by someone waiting for her with a laser pointer!

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PhotobucketYou know what may be even better than a Kong toy?

An empty peanut butter jar is an amazing treat for the puppster – there’s just enough peanut butter left in there to keep it interesting for him, and it’s just small enough that he can’t quite shove his whole face all the way in it, though if he really works at it, his big old tongue does a pretty good job pre-cleaning the jar.

See, choosy moms really do choose Jif.

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Don’t forget this week is the Third Thursday of the month!  Please feel free to join us for this month’s Third Thursday event – just “borrow” a recipe (or any other anything) from someone else’s blog (or elsewhere) and tell us about it!   Be creative – challenge yourself!

Complete details are here, and remember, the more the merrier!

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PhotobucketIs this progress or what?  You see that?  It’s the dog, in a down-stay in the kitchen, and the cat, just standing there looking at him in disbelief!

And the two of them are no more than 4 feet apart – with nothing between them but my down-stay.

Who is the best puppy of all?

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  Fall is definitely here, but the weather is just teasing  us a bit – mid-November, and we’ve still got 50- and 60-degree days!  However, I’ve been in upstate New York long enough to know that, while Sunday’s forecast may promise one thing, good weather in November is a fickle friend.

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Monday – A while back, I did a little experimenting (uh oh!) – I took some of Peeps’s breakfast sausage, added a bit of celery, onions and carrot, and, basically slow-cooked it just like I would bolognese – only it’s breakfast-y.  Besides putting together a breakfast lasagna (great quick breakfasts for the Boy), I also had about a quart leftover.  We’re going to try it with some fresh pasta, and maybe a poached egg on top.  Wish us luck. . .

Tuesday – We got this new fish on sale a couple of weeks ago – swai – and we were less than thrilled with it.  We did not much care for the texture – at least not pan-fried.  Since we bought TWO packages of it, we’re going to try to finish it up, this time in  Creamy Baked Fish Fillets, along with baked potatoes and maybe some roasted squash.

Wednesday – Peeps has been dying – DYING – to make this recipe for Meaty Baked Beans we saw in Cook’s Country a while back – well, all the planets finally lined up, and we’ll be enjoying it, along with some of my garden’s collard greens and probably mashed potatoes.

Thursday – It’s been a while since we’ve had the Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew that we so enjoyed a while ago – plus we’ve got extra corn stock  in the fridge that needs to get used anyway.

Friday – Again, it’s pizza night.  The Jar will get his normal Kong toy, and we’ll have our normal pizza (light on the cheese and a little ricotta filling for me, lots of cheese and pepperoni for Peeps, and something in between for The Boy).

Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.

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Monday Musings: 09.12.2011 Edition September 12, 2011

Posted by Toy Lady in Musings, random stuff, Shopping With Peeps.
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This was a market weekend.  I want to say “yay” – and I do, really, I do.  But it just seems so unfair that everything comes into season at once!  I got beets and corn and onions and melons and sweet potatoes and peaches (oh! the peaches!) and kale . . . it’s just crazy.  Crazy, I tell you.  But, you know, in a good way.

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Meanwhile, I’ve gotten smart and started picking up a single pork belly each market trip – which means Peeps had two bacons to smoke this weekend.  Since he had the smoker out anyway, he threw a chuck roast on there – beef barbecue . . . yay!

The poor guy – what with our dog schedule and our helping-his-mother responsibility, he hasn’t smoked nearly as much as he’d like to this summer.  I have very little doubt that he’ll make up for that next summer.

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We brought home a couple of new toys for the children this morning – it seems that we are the parents of TWO toy killers.

You know, it’s hard finding appropriate toys for these two.  Stuffed toys are a non-starter – they’re dispatched in about 2 minutes – if that! – stuffing all over the place.

“Chew toys,” depending on how well-made they are, last anywhere from 10 minutes to a week, tops.  And those good ones are SHARP when you step on them.

Sqeaky toys are merely a  challenge.  How long will it take to kill the squeaker?

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Peeps loves his salsa – I’ve been trying to find a salsa recipe that will satisfy him, and I think I’ve finally found it.

Pace picante, regular price, is $3 for a 12-ounce jar.  I found a recipe for a “knockoff” picante, and we canned 6 pints last weekend – the tomatoes came from my garden, the jalapenos were $1 for a quart basket full, and the rest of the stuff was, basically, pantry staples.

I think my tomato plants just paid for themselves, huh?
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It occurs to us that it may be a little, well, odd that we do the bulk of our “pet shopping” not in the pet store, or even the “pet aisle.”

We went to the sporting goods section for tennis balls – those dogs do love their tennis balls!  And a bag of 12 was less than $8, compared to “dog” tennis balls at a couple of bucks each, if you’re lucky.

And of course, the horse aisle carries MSM – a supplement that Jarly gets for his bad hips.

And I realized that Bag Balm, in the cow aisle (yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like!) would be perfect for his itchy spots on his belly. . .

So I wonder – do people with Yorkies shop the cow and horse aisles?

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Don’t forget this week is the Third Thursday of the month!  Please feel free to join us for this month’s Third Thursday event – just “borrow” a recipe (or any other anything) from someone else’s blog (or elsewhere) and tell us about it!   Be creative – challenge yourself!

Complete details are here, and remember, the more the merrier!

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Who’s ready for dinner?

That will never cease to crack me up.  It’s like a mob scene.

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  In our part of the world, there never seems to be much doubt when Autumn gets here – we go from the “three H’s” – hot, hazy and humid – to “I wonder where I put that sweatshirt last spring?” almost overnight.

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Monday –  Oh, we’re grilling.  We’ve got some ground “game meat” that our neighbors kindly shared with us, which we’ll mix with Peeps’s homemade Italian sausage. That should make some fantastic burgers, along with tossed salad and maybe some grilled potato wedges.

Tuesday – While I’ve still got cherry tomatoes, I want to try Bon Appetit‘s Chicken Breasts with Tomato-Herb Pan Sauce with a few revisions.  After all, if you’ve got fresh produce, you should use it, right?  Maybe some rice and green beans, and it’ll be fan-freaking-tastic.

Wednesday – You know what I said about autumn?  Yeah, we broke the soup seal – we made a clear-out-the-refrigerator soup with some tomatoes (technically on the counter) some leftover cooked Italian sausage, beet greens, and a few other kitchen staples. It should be great with garlic bread.

Thursday –  Peeps is very proud of his breakfast sausage, so we’re going to have sausage gravy and biscuits – not terribly healthy, no, but so, so good as the weather starts to cool down.

Friday – It’s pizza night and I’m still nursing my tomatoes along.  There is nothing quite like a homemade pizza with fresh tomato slices – if you’ve never tried it, you should.  Quickly – before it’s too late!

Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.

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Monday Musings: 08.29.2011 August 29, 2011

Posted by Toy Lady in Musings, random stuff, Shopping With Peeps.
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Oh dear, oh dear!

This was a market week, which is a good thing.  It’s also the last weekend in August, and nearly everything is in season, which is also a good thing.

However, when I go to the public market unattended, with a pile of dollar bills, I tend to spend them all!  Peaches, cucumbers, lettuce, melons, peppers, squash, onions, radishes, garlic, leeks (Yay!  Leeks!) – plus the dozen and a half ears of beautiful corn for the freezer and the half bushel (ish) of supplemental tomatoes for canning. . . someone’s gonna be busy!

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PhotobucketOur new girl, Gretchen, is settling in nicely.  Given my limited knowledge of doggy politics, I think she’s decided that she is going to be the head dog.  (After Peeps and me, of course!)  She does seem to be a little bossy sometimes – she seems to scold the Jar if he gets out of line.  Maybe what he needs is not a little sister so much as a big sister.

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And, to further bear out my “bossy” theory – Gretch has also taken over every dog bed in the house (there are currently three).  And she seems to really like them all, too.

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Of course, the dogs aren’t the only four-legged children we have, are they?  The Kitty is, understandably, less than excited about yet another dog.   From the basement, the two of them sound like a herd of elephants!

We’ve been taking time to cuddle with her in her underground lair, and we picked up some special canned dinners for her as an extra-special treat.  It’s taken about a week, but she’s back to lurking around when the dogs aren’t looking, looking for treats or petting.

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I’m taking a bit of vacation time this week, like I do every year, to do my farm wife thing – I picked up a bunch of extra tomatoes  – some of them were very ripe, so we went ahead and canned them this weekend.

Every year, we think about the Tomato Episode – that incident taught us, as nothing else could, the importance of pacing ourselves!

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That, and there truly is no reason to go overboard – I’ve still got most of a case of tomatoes from last year, so this year, we only added 14 quarts.  But still, 14 quarts – two canners full – is respectable.  And I can cross “tomatoes” off my list for this week!  Too bad that’s not the only thing on my list. . . I could use a nap this week, actually.

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PhotobucketHey, it’s time for Shopping With Peeps!

We came across the (ahem) most interesting thing at the supermarket this week – the Egg Scrambler.  It bills itself as the “the easiest way to beat an egg!”

Um. . . besides a fork, I guess.

But on the plus side, it comes in white and brown.

Kind of like, um, well, maybe that’s not such a plus, is it?

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PhotobucketOh, hey, what with my over-the-top market trip and all, I made a huge (HUGE!) batch of ratatouille, too!

I do love my ratatouille – and, I found a few years back, it freezes quite nicely.  If there’s anything better than a nice bowl of ratatouille for lunch, it’s a nice bowl of ratatouille for lunch in, oh, December!

Only problem?  The Boy tried it, and he liked it, too.  So that means it’s probably not going to last until December.

But hey, my kid likes vegetables, so that’s a good thing, right?

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We had our first two-dog pizza-Kong night, and it was a success, though Gretch didn’t quite get the “keeping the slobbery Kong on the blanket” idea.  Between the two of them, WOW can they make a mess of the carpet!

I was a little concerned – they’ve been successfully eating their meals beside each other all week, but peanut butter and oatmeal, well, that’s a different story!  We were prepared for the worst (which, I’m sure, could get ugly), and fortunately, they were like a couple of big, black, slobbery lambs.

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  Clearly, fall is on the way, but we’ve still got plenty of summer left.  I will take low 80s as long as I can – and I can certainly wear long sleeves when I walk the dogs in the mornings!

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Monday – Since it looks like Monday is going to be the coolest day of the week, and since I’ll be home, and busy, most of the day, we thought something different – tilapia with ginger glaze – would be good, along with some rice (jasmine or basmati) and either green beans or tossed salad.

Tuesday –  Believe it or not, the Boy asked for quiche one night this week – and not just  any quiche, but “either spinach or broccoli.”  So. . . when your kid specifically requests broccoli, you’ve kinda gotta go along with it, you know?  So. . . I’m  thinking broccoli, cheddar cheese, and maybe some ham.  Or bacon.

Wednesday – Before we go making any fresh sausage, we need to use up the last of the Italian sausage links we’ve got stashed in the freezer.  Not sure yet what we’ll have with it, but something.

ThursdayThe Boy mentioned to me the other day that we usually have “good stuff” when he’s working, then something lame on his night off, Thursday.  So this week, we thought we’d try something “good” – I’m going to spatchcock a chicken.  Hopefully it won’t rain!

Friday – I am so loving fresh tomatoes and herbs for pizza night – there’s just not much else to say, except that I will be very sad when tomato season is over, so I’m taking as much advantage as I possibly can, while I can.

Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.

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