AGOMYR was kind enough to mention that my pins were looking good lately. Here’s what I’m loving. Spoiler alert: it’s all the same. Pretty prints, pretty houses, yummy food, and words written with good handwriting.
The (Not So) New Girl is great at reminding me that my baby isn’t on the slow train with regards to whatever skill he hasn’t quite yet mastered, he’s just on his own train. He’ll get where he needs to go in due time.
And I guess I will too? But oh, lately does it feel like I’m on the slow train back to Sunday dinners. I used to love throwing a hunk of meat in the oven for all of Sunday afternoons until it was falling apart, and we were so hungry we’d eat enough to put ourselves in a food coma.
(I really want this image to rotate, and I’ve spent too much time not getting it to work.)
Enter Design Mom’s easy meatball stroganoff. The perfect, hearty Sunday dinner, but without all that roasting time. I prepped the sauce during the day, we took Gooplet for a gorgeous winter walk, saw an open house, visited with neighbors, came home to put him to bed, and reheated dinner for ourselves. Dream day, dream dinner.
To make meatballs for 4 or 6 friends, you will need:
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1 large onion, diced
1 pound mushrooms (white button or cremini), sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups beef broth
1-2 sprigs fresh thyme
One (24 ounce) package frozen meatballs**
1 cup sour cream, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
Hot, buttered egg noodles, spaetzle, or rice (we used barley)
Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
1. In a Dutch oven or large 5-6 quart saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter. Add the onion and let cook, stirring often, until it starts to soften, about 3-5 minutes.
2. Add the mushrooms and season with a little salt. Saute, stirring often, allowing the mushrooms and onions to brown nicely. Remove the onions and mushrooms from the pan. Set aside and keep warm.
3. To the pan, add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and melt. When foaming subsides, add the flour and stir well. Cook the flour, stirring constantly, for 30-60 seconds. Add beef broth. Whisk well to remove any lumps.
4. Bring gravy to a simmer. Add the thyme sprigs to the pan along with the reserved onions and mushrooms.
5. Add the frozen meatballs to the pan. Stir to coat with the sauce. Cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until meatballs are heated through. Be sure to stir occasionally to prevent the sauce from burning on the bottom of the pan.
6. Once meatballs have cooked through, stir in 1/2 to 3/4 sour cream, depending on preference. Taste sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Spoon the meatballs and sauce over hot noodles, spaetzle, or rice, with remaining sour cream on the side.
*An alternate story to tell with the serving of this dish, was my husband’s commentary that we are a great match because I understand it’s appropriate to serve bacon with meatballs.
**The key to the meatball-finding is to look for beef meatballs that are not Italian season. The author of the post recommends meatballs from Trader Joes or IKEA. I can vouch that frozen IKEA meatballs are one of life’s great joys.
I want to remember… how much you love when we roll the red kickball back and forth. You flap your arms up and down and squeal until I send it back to you.
I want to remember… that you are always in motion. I can’t take a picture of you that isn’t blurry.
I want to remember… you want to read all the time. You’ll find a pile of books (we keep one in every room), pick up your favorites, and flip the pages endlessly.
I want to remember… that you have been sick for over a week. We are all doing the best we can. Being cooped up in the house is not great for either of us, and we’ve quickly exhaust our favorite toys most days.
I want to remember… the noises you make when your dad goes to get you in the morning. You are so happy to see him and you babble incessantly while he changes you and gets you ready for the day.
I want to remember… the rhythm of our days. Breakfast, coffee (oh, how the Starbucks team loves you and is so, so good to you), nap, whatever the day’s activity is, home for lunch and another nap, and playing till we start texting your dad to beg him to come home.
I want to remember… that you don’t like to be pulled apart from me. Deep down inside, I love this so much. In the minutiae of our daily lives, I don’t always. Deep breaths. You won’t always want to be attached to my right leg. And I’ll probably miss it when you don’t.
I want to remember… that you’re learning to clap, wave and high-five. I swear you’re trying to say “Mommy,” “Yes,” and “Again.”
I want to remember… that you love looking at photos. We have our holiday cards up on the wall, and every time we go up and down the stairs, you have to stop to “talk” to some of our friends.
Place the tomatoes, enchilada sauce, chiles, vegetable broth, corn kernels, black beans, salt, and pepper in a pot, and stir to mix everything well. Turn on the stove, and let the mixture come to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook at least 30 minutes. Really, cook as long as you want, but keep checking on it every now and again, stirring it and making sure the liquid hasn’t all cooked out. Be prepared to add more broth if need be.
About 15 minutes before you’re ready to serve add the orzo, and let the mixture continue simmering, uncovered now, for about 10 more minutes.
Remove from heat, and stir in the cream cheese until melted.
Serve, and top with cilantro.
The Mothers, by Brit Bennett – This was on so many people’s favorites for the year and I felt very meh about it. If you asked, I’d tell you it was good, and to read it if you thought you might be interested already. But I didn’t think the characters had much depth, and while I loved the idea of the church mothers as a chorus in the book, I didn’t think they were played up quite enough either.
Juniper, by Thomas and Kelley French – Oh my goodness gracious, this book. I loved it. I was nervous about reading it, having had Gooplet not too, too long ago, and indeed, I found myself SOBBING through parts of it. But in the good, cathartic sobbing kind of way. The story is gripping, and I was surprised that I found the father’s side of it far more endearing. Highly recommend for anyone, but especially for anyone with a child.
Saving Red, by Sonya Sones – I’ve been reading her since her first book came out. This one was neither her worst nor her best, but it was a quick, mostly enjoyable YA read.
Two Naomis, by Olugbemisola Rhuday Perkovich, and Audrey Vernick – It had been so long since I read middle grade fiction, and this one popped up on the Nerdy Book Club’s best of 2016* list. On my next trip to the library, it was front and center on the new arrivals shelf. I have impossibly high standards for middle grade fiction (seriously, impossible), and this one is good. I also love how it shows diverse characters without needing to be A BOOK ABOUT DIVERSE CHARACTERS.
Far From the Tree, by Andrew Solomon – I’ve seen this book mentioned in almost all of my favorite parenting and teaching reads (side note, those two genres of books almost always overlap), so I’ve always wanted to read it. But here’s the thing. It’s 706 pages! So, with any luck, you’ll see it in my “Just Read” post by the end of the year.
Want to Read
Wolf Hollow, by Lauren Wolk, because it got a ton of buzz this year, because it just picked up a Newbery Honor, and because it was originally intended as an adult book, and somehow ended up on middle grade shelves. All in.
*It should be noted that 2016, the year when it wasn’t my job to read middle grade fiction anymore, looks like the best year for middle grade fiction in a long, long time. I’m eager to read almost every book linked there.
In 2015 and 2016, I took the PopSugar Reading Challenge. But really, I just read what I was going to read anyway, and looked at how the books fit, or didn’t, into the categories. In 2017, I’m wondering whether a little bit of planning will take me a longer way.
Swallows and Amazons, by Arthur Ransome (Someone very special to me told me this was one of her favorite books TEN YEARS AGO. It’s time.)
An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green (Haven’t loved anything except The Fault in our Stars, but this one sounds like my kind of thing.)
Quiet, by Susan Cain (Perhaps it will shed some light in what happens in the heads of my favorite introverts–my husband, SCL,and Cari Faye.)
Dear readers, it’s reading week. Which will likely last well beyond a Monday-Friday’s worth of blog posts. Books are the best. Cheers.
You know the deal. PopSugar posts a reading challenge each year, and I count myself in. I check in with you all halfway through the year to let you know how I’m doing, and then again at the end of the year. More on my 2017 reading goals tomorrow. Here’s how I finished up 2016. How I didn’t read a single dystopian novel is beyond me.
A book based on a fairy tale
A National Book Award winner – Raymie Nightingale, by Kate DiCamillo (well, it’s a finalist)
A YA Bestseller – With Malice, by Eileen Cook
A book you haven’t read since high school
A book set in your home state
A book translated to English – My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
A romance set in the future – Happily Ever After, by Kiera Cass
A book set in Europe – Echo, by Pam Muñoz Ryan
A book that’s under 150 pages
A New York Times bestseller – The Gift of Failure, by Jessica Lahey
A book that’s becoming a movie this year
A book recommended by someone you just met
A self-improvement book –Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes
A book you can finish in a day – Tales from the Back Row, by Amy Odell
A book written by a celebrity – I Feel Bad About my Neck, by Nora Ephron
A political memoir – Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance (well, it’s sort of, unintentionally political right now)
A book at least 100 years older than you
A book that’s more than 600 pages
A book from Oprah’s Book Club – Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton
A science-fiction novel
A book recommended by a family member – Accidental Saints, by Nadia Bolz Weber (recommended by my Pops)
A graphic novel – Dare to Disappoint, by Ozge Samanci
A book that is published in 2016 – When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalinithi
A book with a protagonist who has your occupation – American Housewife, by Helen Ellis
A book that takes place during summer – Summerlost, by Allie Condie
A book and its prequel
A murder mystery – Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty
A book written by a comedian – You’ll Grow Out of It, by Jessi Klein
A dystopian novel
A book with a blue cover – After I Do, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
A book of poetry – Booked, by Kwame Alexander
The first book you see in a bookstore – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
A classic from the 20th century – Winnie the Pooh, by A. A. Milne
A book from the library – My Year of Running Dangerously, by Tom Foreman
An autobiography – Life in Motion, by Misty Copeland
A book about a road trip – Love that Boy, by Ron Fournier
A book about a culture you’re unfamiliar with – A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park
A satirical book – A Window Opens, by Susan Egan (not true satire, but it pokes some fun at suburban life in all the right places)
A book that takes place on an island – The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin
A book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy – Spark Joy, by Marie Kondo
And the stuff I’ve read that doesn’t fit these categories:
Eight Hundred Grapes, by Laura Dave; Peace, Locomotion, by Jacqueline Woodson; Stella by Starlight, by Sharon Draper; Swimming Studies, by Leanne Shapton; Small Victories, by Anne Lamott; George, by Alex Gino; I Remember Nothing, by Nora Ephron; Sparkly Green Earrings, by Melanie Shankle; Little Victories, by Jason Gay; Maybe in Another Life, by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult; The Secrets of Happy Families, by Bruce Feiler; Grace, not Perfection, by Emily Ley; My Name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Stroud; The Light of the World, by Elizabeth Alexander; This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, by Ann Patchett; The History of Great Things, by Elizabeth Crane; Present Over Perfect, by Shauna Niequist; The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion; Delicious, by Ruth Reichl; Reconstructing Amelia, by Kimberly McCreight; Creativity, Inc., by Ed Catmull; Keep Me Posted, by Lisa Beazley; A Snicker of Magic, by Natalie Lloyd
Love Anne’s tips on planning when you’re not naturally a planner. And I am naturally a planner.
This Italian wedding soup looks amazing and like it should be on the January dinner docket, for sure.
Now that December is behind us, I don’t know that you’ll need to gift any picture books anytime soon, but I loved Janssen’s little blurb before her list, about writing dates in books. I’m in.
Perhaps the reason I was in a reading rut is because I was on a roll in the TV department. The Affair is back (LOVE, but it took a couple episodes to get rolling), Jane the Virgin is killing it as always, American Housewife is cracking me up, and I started Masters of Sex from season one. Here’s are two other lists of shows I should be watching. Should I give Crazy Ex Girlfriend another try?
Joy the Baker made baked brown butter champagne donuts. I’m not normally a donut kinda girl, but please read the aforementioned sentence.
Habit. I need some new ones in 2017. And this is how I can get some good ones going. Maybe? Reminder , routine, reward; reminder, routine, reward…
When we go to the beach, we take turns cooking. Most of us make our staples. Wooden Nickels is always good for mac and cheese, brussels sprouts, and spinach pizza. My husband grills brats, and there’s always a burger night in there. But Pops does his own thing every time. He spends the morning culling AllRecipes* for something that’s just right. His tastes tend toward the exotic, so we know when he’s cooking we’re not going to end up with another boring casserole.**
When Pops visited for a weekend, I combed my Pinterest boards to see if there was something worthy of serving him for dinner. I came across this Persian chicken dish on one of the best food sites around, Simply Recipes, and I knew I was on to something good. I love making something completely new and different, and while I don’t know whether or not this ended up tasting like a traditional Persian chicken with walnut stew, I do know that it was a great meal, and fun to make. Because we’re always passing the Gooplet, we shared the responsibilities involved with preparing it, and all sat down to enjoy once he’d gone to bed.