Culinary Adventures

Daniel is becoming very interested in what we do in the kitchen.  He is afraid of the oven (yay?), but he likes to imitate cooking with his pots and pans and play food.   We made fajitas tonight and for the first time allowed him to watch the prepping and cooking.  I admit to having ulterior motives because I’m hoping the more he plays with and sees us working with and eating foods he usually won’t touch, the more he’ll be inclined to give them a try.  That’s the theory anyway.

Meal Prep:  Veggie Chopping

Here he is watching J, the official sous chef, chopping peppers.

Giving Daniel a piece of red pepper

Daniel eventually ate that piece of pepper about 15 minutes later.

So all you do is de-seed and chop? Totally easy, Daddy

Watching Daddy chop the green pepper

Wait...what are you doing to the pepper?

Checking out Daddy's knife skills


As with everything culinary, presentation is key, so we spent a lot of time creating an intricate plate for a wee palate.

Yummy! Mini fajitas!

Time to Eat!

Finally the fajitas were ready and assembled.  J helped Daniel eat his since the fajita was a tad over-filled and would burst open, something Daniel’s two-year-old hands weren’t used to handling.

Doesn't this look yummy?

Daniel takes a bite!


The Verdict

The good news is that Daniel ate a few pieces of pepper and had several bites of a fajita as well as rice.  The bad news was that he declared “No more” after only a few minutes.  Oh well.  Though he didn’t eat as much as we would have liked, at least he tried it, and I have to credit including him in the prep and cooking process for those small victories.

How do you incorporate your child into cooking family meals?

Week in My Life: Wednesday

For day 3 of my participation in Adventuroo’s project, I am focusing on what happens after work.  Truthfully, this week is probably not the best week for that because J and I have been sick, and our normal routines are off.  Consider yourself warned and try not to judge too harshly 😉

After work, Daniel and I stopped by the grocery store.  Instead of normal dinners, we are sort of scrounging this week because neither J nor I are very hungry.  I didn’t have anything scroungeable at home, so that meant I needed to wander aimlessly the aisles of the store, looking for inspiration.  Normally Daniel is well-behaved at the store, but he has discovered screaming and he really likes screaming in places where it can echo and screamed his way through the store.  Fortunately the other shoppers took it in stride though I wondered if the screaming foreshadowed the approaching time of grocery store meltdowns and glares.

Daniel loves the baby pumpkins though he calls them "apples"

J was home already because he left work a little early.  He started working on our laptops to get them ready for Apple’s software upgrade.  Daniel started playing with his trains and the magnetic letters on his easel.  Honestly, I just stood in the kitchen for a few minutes, trying to figure out what to do next. Thanks to my cold, I really start to fade after 5 this week.  Ah, dinner!  That’s what I need to do.

Yeah, the kitchen is a disgusting mess this week. I should be embarrassed but I'm not.

J working on my laptop in the dining room.

Trains, trains and more trains live in our house

He loves the alphabet

Me:  Daniel, what do you want to eat?

Daniel: Mint Oreo!

2 seconds later

Daniel: Pi-ha! pi-ha! piiiiii-haaaaaaaa (pizza)

At 7 Daniel’s dinner is ready (not pizza), but he is completely uninterested.  I sit at the table, hoping that will get him to come back over.  He eats a few pieces of the turkey dog, eyes the hummus and says “No more.”  I sigh and watch Jeopardy while he plays and then prep the coffee maker and my lunch for tomorrow. We think part of the problem is that he associates the kitchen with play time because he has a lot of toys in there.  We have a great living room, but it’s on the other side of the kitchen, and we can’t see him when he’s in there, so we spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

Look! I'm a yummy, nutritious dinner that the 2-year-old will reject!

Who needs dinner? I want to play!

At 7:30, we give Daniel yogurt because I want him to eat something and MIL said he hadn’t eaten well that day.  He’s in to making noise lately, and he uses the spoon as a drum on the table.  I’m sure it’s a bonus that in addition to the noise, the yogurt on the spoon makes a nice splat on the table.  For dessert he has  raspberries and apples, which he LOVES.

Messy yogurt

At least he eats fruit

After “dinner,” Daniel and I play with his pots and pans and cook potatoes, carrots, and peas, all foods he won’t eat in reality!  J is having difficulties with our laptops and iPads, so he’s back and forth from the office to the kitchen.


At 8, it’s time for Daniel’s treat, which is his beloved Mint Oreo.   Right now he likes to bite it into the shape of the moon.  After the oreo, he brushes his teeth, which is always an interesting experience.  I’m starting to understand the reason for baby teeth: it’s like they are training wheels.  J preps our room and Daniel’s room for bedtime while I’m supervising tooth brushing.

Mint Oreo!

It’s 8:15 and we’re ready to change Daniel into his pajamas and have story time when we remember we haven’t given our cat Bit his medicine.  J gets the pill popper ready while I locate Bit, which is easy since it is only 45 minutes before Bit’s next meal, so that means Bit is right outside the kitchen meowing whenever we come near (told you he was OCD).

Daniel loves the cats, so after we give Bit his pill, we let Daniel pet him.  Bit is a little anxious but cooperates.

Nice kitty

After Daniel is in his pajamas, we settle on the bed to read stories.  We usually read about 5 each night though depending on his mood and our energy levels, we might read more.

Reading his favorite book about fall

At 8:30, it’s time for bed!  I pick up Daniel (unfortunately he is in a Mommy only phase right now), and J and I take him to his room.  We tuck him in, sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” with Daniel supplying the end of each line, give him kisses and tiptoe out.

J and I clean up the toys in the kitchen (though not the kitchen itself). J eats leftover frozen pizza, and I make a thoroughly uninspiring dinner of kielbasa and green beans (told you we are living it up this week) and go to the bedroom to watch an episode of The Office.  We got hooked on it while we were at the beach in August and bought all the DVDs.  We’re on season 6 right now.

After one episode, I’m out.  J’s a night owl, so he stays up a little longer.

And that’s what happens after work!

Pot Roast: A Fall Favorite

This week’s multi-day meal is pot roast, which is perfect since this week is the first full week of Fall.  Pot roast, with its rich broth and hearty vegetables, is an ideal meal for cooler evenings or for those craving a touch of Autumn.  What I really like about this recipe is how versatile it is.  You can change up the sauce, add your favorite vegetables or more or less of the vegetables in the recipe.   I also like that this pot roast is done in the oven.  I don’t know why, but I don’t like roasts cooked on the stove top. It just seems wrong to me.  This recipe takes about 30 minutes to prep (mostly chopping the vegetables) and 2 hours to roast.


  • 5-6 pounds  beef roast (chuck roast, round roast, rump roast, etc.)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut into wedges
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 7 Yukon gold potatoes, quartered
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 can of tomato juice
  • 1 package beefy onion soup mix
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 3 TBS Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 TBS basil
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • Heat oil in a large pan
  • Brown the roast(s) on all sides in the pan and then place in roasting pan
  • Combine tomato juice, soup packet, water, Worcestershire sauce, basil, garlic pepper and salt and pepper
  • Pour sauce over meat

Roast covered with sauce and ready for its first sojourn in the oven

  • Cover pan with foil and roast for 1  hour
  • After an hour, add vegetables to the pan
  • Recover pan with foil and roast for another 45-60 minutes (depending on the amount of vegetables you have.  I find that a full 60 minutes works well for my oven)
  • Slice and serve!

That’s it!


What are your favorite pot roast recipes?

Burgundy Chicken Pie

J and I like to cook but after working all day, we find it almost impossible to cook every night. Our solution to this issue is to try to make a multi-day meal each week that will feed us for at least 2 nights, preferably three. It can be a challenge to vary the meals since J is a bit picky and I try to avoid as many carbs as possible, but we have assembled several recipes that work.

Last night I made Burgundy Chicken Pie. Being a native North Carolinian, I love chicken pie. J, however, has an aversion to thick, creamy sauces. This recipe is a good compromise because it has a savory broth that is thickened with flour. And it contains wine! What’s not to love? It’s like Paris meets the South.

Warning: this recipe has several steps and isn’t the quickest meal to put together, but it’s worth it for a multi-day meal. The original recipe had fewer steps, but I never could make it work as written without either burning the puff pastry or drying out the chicken, so I modified it and it works well.


  • 4 cooked, shredded chicken breasts (you could use less, but we like lots of chicken. I also bake the chicken the night before)
  • Half of an onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 5 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 1/4 cup of white wine (I used chardonnay)
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 tbs flour
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube dissolved in 3/4 cup of hot water
  • 1 package of puff pastry


  • Cook potatoes and carrots until tender (about 30 minutes) and drain. Set aside
  • Saute onions in 2 Tbls of oil over medium heat until softened
  • Add flour and thyme, stirring until flour is absorbed
  • Add wine and bouillon
  • Allow liquid to come to a simmer.  Simmer for 20 minutes

Sauce simmering

  • Arrange chicken, potatoes and carrots into a deep-dish pan
  • Pour sauce over the chicken, potatoes and carrots

Chicken pie before puff pastry. I add salt, pepper and more thyme

  • Arrange puff pastry over the pan
  • Bake at 350 until puff pastry is golden – around 25 minutes


The finished product. One day I'll take more time w/ the puff pastry.

So now you know what we ate last night and will be eating tonight and tomorrow night. What’s on your plate tonight?