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Braised Short Ribs (That will cause you to lose your manners)

This was good. This was so good that I wanted to abandon all the manners that I have taught my children and lick the plate! And then, when dinner was over, and we were doing the dishes, I yearned for lunch the next day so that I could have leftovers. This is just one of those meals.

Don’t save this for company. Make this for yourself. It is perfect for a lazy Sunday. Oh, and put your pajamas on before you eat, because when you are done, all you will want to do is lay on the couch and not move your overstuffed belly.

Ingredients

  • 6 boneless short ribs
  • Kosher salt & ground pepper
  • 1 cup of flour
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 ribs celery, cut into chunks
  • 2 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 shallots, peeled & chopped
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1 750mL bottle of Cabernet, or dry red wine
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme & rosemary, tied with kitchen string
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups of beef broth

Directions

Sprinkle each short rib generously with salt & pepper.

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Then coat each rib in flour, shaking off any excess.

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Coat a large dutch oven or stock pot with olive oil and bring to a high heat. Add the short ribs to the pan and brown very well, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Do not overcrowd pan. Cook in batches, if necessary.

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

While the short ribs are browning, chop all the vegetables coarsely in the food processor.

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Don’t forget the shallots & garlic!

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When the short ribs are very brown on all sides, remove them from the pan.

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In the same pan, and remaining oil, saute the vegetables until soft.

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Use a wooden spoon to scrape the schmuge* off the bottom of the pan. Once the vegetables are soft, transfer them to a food processor and puree.

* Schmuge– n. 1. The very browned bits at the bottom of a pan that contain all the good flavor for your dish. 2. n. The gross, grayish gook that collects at the corners of your child’s mouth, usually when your mother-in-law is about to come over, or when you are walking into a fancy function with your children in tow.

Return the pureed vegetables to the pot and add the tomato sauce and add the wine. Heat until it starts to boil.

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Return the short ribs to the pan and add the thyme/rosemary bundle and bay leaves.

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Cover the pan and place in the preheated oven for 3 hours. Check periodically during the cooking process and add beef broth, if needed. Turn the ribs over halfway through the cooking time. Remove the lid during the last 20 minutes of cooking to let things get nice and brown and to let the sauce reduce. The meat should be very tender but not falling apart. Serve over mashed potatoes with the braising sauce.

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Now, this is where the sweat pants come in handy. Just look at how yummy!

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And then…you get this!

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…which is where it all gets awkward, because you will want to lick your plate, in front of your children, and husband. Plus, you may find yourself “stealing” bites from the pan, or your family member’s plates. But it is all good! You can now retire to the couch with a full belly, and a happy heart knowing that you produced something so fantastic!

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Candy for Dinner

Before I was a mom, I was an emotional support teacher. I used my extensive training in behavior modification to shape my philosophy of parenting. I remember going to a conference hosted by Dr. Ross Greene, who is known for his techniques in dealing with the most difficult children. One fact that he shared really stuck with me. He told about the two ways that children have ultimate control over their parents: eating, and going to the bathroom. He then went on to caution the audience about engaging in food battles with your children, because they will ultimately win. My pediatrician also shared this philosophy, so I have tried to follow it as well.

I believe this approach has been successful in my family, so I do not fight about food. Don’t get me wrong, though. There are rules and expectations. I also try to teach my girls about the value of nutrition and what effects certain foods have on their bodies. Having daughters, I feel this is even more important, since our society will bombard them with mixed messages.

As a mom, I have tried to take a balanced approach, but with those efforts, came an unconventional tradition in our home…CANDY FOR DINNER!!! Yes, on November 1st, we do the unthinkable!

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I am not sure when it started, or how it came to be. Maybe a temporary insanity, or a generous spirit, perhaps a moment of personal weakness as I struggled to resist Almond Joys…irregardless, it is now the tradition for the day after Halloween.

For one day, my kids have the coolest mom.

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Now, I am not totally irresponsible. This tradition comes with a catch. They can have a few pieces of candy for dinner, but it is understood that they will eat their veggies for dessert.

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This has been the tradition for about five years now. It was this year, though, that the benefit of this unconventional wisdom became clear. I found that despite the hype and excitement, none of my girls finished their “dinner”, before jumping on dessert. They dove into their broccoli before finishing their chocolate, and that was just fine with me. It was a mother’s dream to hear my oldest scold my youngest for stealing her broccoli, suggesting that she eat her own celery instead. Clearly, these were not my REAL children! But in fact, they were.

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What I will hold onto, and carry forward in my mom “bag of tricks” is that every once in a while, it is good to let go of control, and let your kids loose. It is the greatest reward when you get to watch them choose the right path, without your prodding.

Dinner was fun, candy was served, but broccoli and celery were eaten. On this night, I didn’t feel much like a fairy, but more of a witness to something magical!

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Hurricane Survival

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So if you live anywhere on the East coast of the US, you are most likely preparing for a wicked storm and power outages. Here are some quick tips for emergency meals that actually resemble dinner:

1. Remember that you can plug a crock pot into a generator. If you have either one of those, use them to keep soup, chili, or taco filling warm. Then, you can eat when hungry.
2. Pick up a cheap electric fondue pot during your emergency shopping. An electric fondue pot can cook anything from a can (soup, beans, rice, pasta…) ***this tip is also helpful for any college student who hates dining hall food.
3. Don’t forget about your waffle iron. Again, if you have a generator, plug in your handy-dandy waffle iron and use it to make cinnamon bun waffles. Just press the refrigerated uncooked dough spirals between the plates, and voila! You have a yummy waffle.
4. For those of you that do not have a generator… If you have a wood burning fireplace, invest in some campfire sticks and you can roast hotdogs and s’mores inside.
5. Be creative with the crackers, cheese, and lunch meat that you may lose without a refrigerator. Let your kids have fun trying new combinations or shapes. This can also be fun with some cookie cutters and bread.
6. Some of you may manually light the burners of your gas range. Check your owners manual to see if this is a safe option. If so, go with it.
7. If you have near-by neighbors, host a “use it, or lose it party” it is a great way to use up food that would otherwise go to waste. This party is best after the storm when the weather is nice, but power is still out. It is also a good way to mooch some generator power off of a nice neighbor so that you may charge your phone or flat iron your hair (Mrs. Bundra 😉

These are just a few ideas off the top of my head. Be sure to share your own tips in the comments below.

Take precaution, hunker down, and be safe, my fairy friends ❤

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Chicken Stash

Here is a quick tip to make weeknight, or time crunched meals much easier.

** Keep a stash of cooked chicken in the freezer or fridge to be easily added to any meal.

  • Season boneless, skinless chicken breasts with olive oil and garlic, then grill. These cooked breasts can be stored in the fridge for a few days. Dice them for a salad, add them to fresh sautéed vegetables, or toss with pasta and alfredo sauce. This grilled chicken can also be diced and frozen to add to soups or casseroles.
  • Make shredded chicken to freeze. If you reach the point where you have to cook some chicken before it expires, throw it in your crock pot with a few cups of chicken broth. Cook until it is tender and falling apart. Then shred the chicken and cool before freezing.
  • A great way to shred the chicken is to throw it into your stand mixer with the paddle attachment and give it a whirl. You will have perfectly shredded meat every time!
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Easy Enchiladas

These enchiladas are a regular in my weeknight dinner rotation. I love them because they are easy, picky-kid approved, and my family leaves the table happy with full bellies. I also love this recipe because it allows room for creativity. You can add ingredients such as beans, tomatoes, pepper, beef, or chicken to suit your families likes. You could even go crazy and hide some finely chopped zucchini if you are trying to secretly increase your family’s veggie intake. ( I won’t tell!)

Ingredients

4 boneless chicken breasts (or you can use ground beef)

1 packet of taco seasoning

2 cans of Enchilada sauce

1 8oz bag of shredded cheddar cheese

1 package of medium tortilla shells

Procedure

  • Brown 4 boneless chicken breasts in a skillet and chop them in your food processor– (you can use ground chicken or beef too)
  • Put chicken back into the skillet & add 1 packet of taco seasoning and 1 can of enchilada sauce. Add 1/2 a bag of shredded cheddar cheese and allow it to melt.
  • Coat a casserole dish with 1/2 a can of enchilada sauce
  • Spoon a glob of the meat mixture onto a tortilla shell– you can also add some chopped peppers & tomatoes if you like.
  • Roll up the Enchilada and line them up in the dish seam side down.
  • Once they are all rolled up, pour the remaining sauce over the dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  • Bake in a 350 degree oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

***Serve with saffron rice and steamed broccoli