What The End of a Day Should Bring.

    Anyone with a 1 year old (or any young kid) knows, days can be hard.  Every move, every decision, and 90% of the time you have each day belongs to maintaining whatever routine you have developed to keep your kid healthy and as happy as possible.

    Joanna Goddard posted a blog a last week that I really loved.  Something I’ve thought about every day since Amelia was born is her future.  Not really long term (although that’s obviously important as well,) but more short term things; rights of passage stuff.  In the article she writes about kids going off to school, finally being on their own around other kids who may or may not play nicely.  Thinking about how your kid may have moments where they feel sad or alone.  Watching Amelia smile with genuine excitement when its time to brush her teeth, or seeing how excited she gets when I chase her into her tee pee-the thought of her being sad about anything that isn’t related to a temper tantrum is indeed heartbreaking.  Basically the point of her post was that in the end, you want to make home the one place that is guaranteed to be safe and warm, or in her own words – “a haven.”

   Having read this, it made me think.  Not only was this true, but it should be that way for the whole family.  I work at home, so I’m here all day.  My wife however is not.  Like most folks, she endures the morning commute, the traffic, the weather, and every other outside element in her life that is stacked upon her shoulders.  All while toting a baby to and from my parent’s house.

   I try to make sure that dinner is ready when they get home everyday because the baby usually only has a short amount of time left awake before its time to go to bed.  It’s usually the same routine.  I get a text when they are leaving my parent’s house which in turn, allows me to properly time dinner.  Usually a dinner that is quick and easy, lacks any effort, and that can be whipped up mindlessly.  That’s fine most of the time.  We don’t have much time to go out for nice dinners, usually once every 1 or 2 months if we can get my parents to watch Amelia.  In an attempt to create a nice surprise for them, tonight I will be making a delicious dinner from a recipe I found online.  I will also create an intimate, candle-lit table setting for my ladies. A glass of wine for my wife, and a sippy cup full of the finest water provided by our fridge for the beautiful Amelia Rose.

    As a man, it’s easy to fall into a trap of taking thing for granted or to fall into a routine.  Some routines are unavoidable, especially during the week.  A simple tweak and a little thought can easily bring a smile to the faces you love, especially after a long day.

    Tonight I will be making 3 Vegetable Penne Pasta, which uses wheat pasta but I am being assured by the great Rachael Ray that there is a reason having to do with the combination of flavors and not just calorie cutting.

    Another thing, clean up a bit.  Not just in the house.  Yourself.  Take a look in the mirror.  Yeah, its sometimes more comfortable wearing old jeans, a t-shirt, and ball cap, but change it up.  Put on something nice.  Not over the top.  Just nice.

    In the end you have 2 people coming home who have been gone all day, tired, strung out, and itching to get into something comfortable to relax.  Part of the fun in having a little kid, is surprising them.  Sure, she doesn’t know what a candle light dinner is…but she knows it wasn’t like normal dinner, and we certainly don’t light fancy candles!  She seemed to love it and had two whole plates of pasta with nothing but grins.  I love my family.

Thursday Dinner Recipe: Lemon-Garlic Sardine Fettuccine

    After the Chili we had made last week, this Fettuccine dish sounded great.  After all, I like sardines and Nicole was going to have to try them for the first time.  We made a deal as part of our pact to try things that we had never eaten before.  I had to try prunes in a dish we made last week.  The dish was so good that I never blogged about it mainly because I was missing so many pictures from being distracted.  I was dreading the prunes.  They gross me out.  A food related to making people drop a “number 2”, looking the way that it does, I could never understand anyone wanting to eat them!  Anyways… now onto the Lemon-Garlic Sardine Fettuccine.
   This recipe was easy to put together:

Lemon-Garlic Sardine Fettuccine

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/lemon_sardine_pasta.html

From EatingWell:  November/December 2010
Even sardine skeptics will enjoy this lemony pasta with crispy breadcrumbs. Substitute two 5- to 6-ounce cans chunk light tuna for the sardines if you prefer. If you are using tuna or can’t find sardines packed in tomato sauce, add 2 tablespoons tomato paste in Step 4 with the lemon juice. Serve with a salad of bitter greens tossed with a lemon vinaigrette and a glass of Pinot Grigio.

4 servings, about 1 1/4 cups each | Active Time: 30 minutes | Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

8 ounces whole-wheat fettuccine
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (see Tip), preferably whole-wheat
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 3- to 4-ounce cans boneless, skinless sardines, preferably in tomato sauce, flaked
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
Preparation

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant and sizzling but not brown, about 20 seconds. Transfer the garlic and oil to a large bowl.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the pan over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and cook, stirring, until crispy and golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Whisk lemon juice, pepper and salt into the garlic oil. Add the pasta to the bowl along with sardines, parsley and Parmesan. Gently stir to combine. Serve sprinkled with the breadcrumbs.
Nutrition

Per serving : 475 Calories; 21 g Fat; 4 g Sat; 13 g Mono; 60 mg Cholesterol; 52 g Carbohydrates; 9 g Protein; 9 g Fiber; 716 mg Sodium; 427 mg Potassium

3 Carbohydrate Serving

Exchanges: 3 starch, 1 1/2 medium fat meat, 3 fat

Tips & Notes

Tip: To make fresh breadcrumbs, trim crusts from whole-wheat bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. One slice of bread makes about 1/2 cup fresh crumbs.

Gross.

    This dish was horrendous.  It was insanely gross.  I believe one of the comments I used when I was eating this at the table with Nicole was, “Pasta in cat litter”.  It was clear that whoever designed this recipe did not want you to taste sardines.  They masked them in flavors of lemon and breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs make the entire meal super dry and gross.  Note:  Never eat pasta with breadcrumbs on it. Never.  Two horrible dinners in a row.  Tonight is a meat loaf recipe that actually looks promising.  Fingers crossed. 

Dinner Recipe: Roast Chicken & Sweet Potatoes

   Nicole and I decided that during the week, we will be trying different recipes. We are doing this because dinner can sometimes get boring, and when it gets boring, we tend to eat shitty food thus getting into the habit of eating shitty food.  So we have a method down. Nicole finds 5 recipes a week, and I pick up the ingredients while doing the grocery shopping. I love getting the groceries so its something I do regularly. I find it oddly fun.  
   Tonight we made Roasted Chicken & Sweet Potatoes.

Roast Chicken & Sweet Potatoes

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/chicken_sweet_potatoes.html

From EatingWell:  September/October 2012
Caramelized sweet potatoes and red onion are the bed for chicken thighs that cook up fast in a very hot oven—perfect for a quick healthy chicken dinner. Serve with a fall salad of mixed greens, sliced apples and blue cheese.

4 servings | Active Time: 15 minutes | Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

2 tablespoons whole-grain or Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
1 1/2-2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large red onion, cut into 1-inch wedges
Preparation

Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 450°F. Place a large rimmed baking sheet in the oven to preheat.
Combine mustard, thyme, 1 tablespoon oil and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a small bowl; spread the mixture evenly on chicken.
Toss sweet potatoes and onion in a bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven and spread the vegetables on it. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables.
Return the pan to the oven and roast, stirring the vegetables once halfway through, until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into a chicken thigh registers 165°F, 30 to 35 minutes.
Nutrition

Per serving : 408 Calories; 17 g Fat; 4 g Sat; 9 g Mono; 86 mg Cholesterol; 34 g Carbohydrates; 27 g Protein; 5 g Fiber; 554 mg Sodium; 636 mg Potassium

2 Carbohydrate Serving


        This meal was pretty tasty. Nicole isn’t normally a fan of sweet potatoes but shes trying to like them by having them served in different ways.  She enjoyed the way these turned out.  Cooking it all together really made everything taste great because all of the flavors and seasonings clicked with each other nicely. I’d definitely make this one again. Tomorrow we are making Portobello Mushroom quesadillas.

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