Monday, January 28, 2013

Not Every Night's a Winner

Fail.  Fail on SO many levels.

Dinner was a complete disaster tonight.

We eat at home, with a dinner I prepare, at LEAST 95% of the time. We don't go out, we don't get take out.  That's a very rare treat.  The girls are still in the stage where dining out with them is more stressful than relaxing, and they're messy enough where we feel the need to give an extra big tip to cover the amount of cleaning the floor will require.

Anyway, that means I am planning and cooking about 350 meals a year, and I try to keep things fresh, rather than getting stuck in a rut.  When I plan the meals for the week, I make sure we have a chicken, pork, beef, fish, pasta and veggie based dinner (and one "wild card"...that's right, I'm that crazy).  Sounds silly, but keeps us from eating chicken every night.

This week I decided to do a lot of crock pot meals.  I'm making some old favorites, and a few new recipes as well.

Today's meal was veggie crockpot lasagna.  It was a new recipe for me.

This looks much better than mine did.

A little background: Adam loves his mom's lasagna and no lasagna will ever come close in his opinion, so I stopped making traditional lasagna.  He loves my stuffed shells and my manicotti, which amuses me greatly because it's the same ingredients with different pasta shapes.

This meal was a disaster from the get go.

First, I realized I was missing two ingredients.  I guess I thought I had them in the house, so they weren't on my shopping list.  That meant I couldn't assemble the meal in the crockpot before we left for dance class.  But no big deal.  It only needed 5 hours of cooking, which gave me plenty of time to stop at the grocery store on our way home and before the snow picked up.

That worked out, and I finished assembling the dish, which barely fit in the crockpot, around lunchtime.  Perfect.

Except, yet again, I forgot to plug the crockpot in.  I recently got a new crockpot, and while I love it, it has absolutely no indicator lights to show that it's on.  And for some reason, I have pulled it out several times, filled it, and turned it on without plugging it in.  This can be a big problem if I don't realize it soon enough.

Anyway, this time, I managed to catch it after only an hour, so I wasn't too worried.  Crockpot on.  Crisis averted.

Then all was good until dinnertime.

Adam is usually off the phone by 5:30, which is our dinnertime.  We're lucky that he works from home, and unless he's on a call, even on a busy day he can spend 5:00-7:00 with the girls for dinner and bedtime, and finish up his work afterward.  Tonight he was on the phone until about 5:45, so I held the girls off.  That was not easy to do.  They start getting cranky around 5:00, and Reagan goes upstairs at 6:00, so 5:30 really is the perfect time.  But they did ok...probably because I put a show on to keep them occupied until Adam could sit with us.

I always serve the girls first.  I put Reagan's meal directly on her place mat  - which I love.  Reagan recently started refusing to sit in her highchair and only wants table food, but she can't handle a plate yet and I feel weird just dumping her food on the table.  So she's in our travel booster for now and we have an awesome placemat that is attached to the table AND has a food catcher.

One of my FAVORITE products right now!

I gave Madison her plate, then started serving myself and Adam (who was sitting with the girls).  I set our plates on the table.  It was immediately apparent that this new meal was not a hit.  I hadn't tried it myself yet, but Madison was picking without eating, Reagan was taking pieces out of her mouth, and even Adam was wrinkling his nose.  So I decided I needed a glass a wine with mine.  I got up and went to the refrigerator.

And heard what sounded like an explosion of glass.

Turns out I hadn't moved my plate far enough out of Reagan's reach.  She moved so quickly that Adam couldn't stop her.  She grabbed my full plate and flung it on the floor where it shattered.

No, shattered doesn't do it justice.  It smashed into smithereens.  The biggest piece I found was the size of my fingernail, and it felt like the floor was covered in dish dust.  Corelle made a nice dish, but it did not stand up to being flung on a tile floor.

Ok, to be fair, they were purchased at Wal-Mart for my very first apartment.  So I suppose I can let them go.

The first thing Madison wanted to do was jump down from her booster and "help out", so Adam and I both immediately yelled "stay in your seat!" which of course made her think she'd done something wrong and she started to cry.  Then I went under the table to begin the clean up, and Reagan apparently thought I'd disappeared forever, and she started to cry.

Therefore I told Adam to stay at the table and eat with the girls while I finished the clean up. I swept, I hand picked up the biggest shards, and I tried my best to clean up the pasta, sauce and veggies.  Finally, when all the sauce was up, I put the sponge in the sink to rinse out the dish dust and started vacuuming...

Which was too much for Reagan to bear.  She's fine with the vacuum when she's on the floor, but something about being trapped in the booster seat while the vacuum roared around her was the straw that broke her.  She started to wail.

Clean up was finished, so I sat down, sans wine, and attempted to calm her while simultaneously taking a bite of my now lukewarm meal.

Yeah, the critics were right.  It was not a keeper.  Somehow it was both undercooked and overcooked, a weird blend of flavors and entirely unappetizing.  Reagan still hadn't calmed down, so I left my meal on the table, got her a bottle and brought up upstairs for bath and bed.  Adam got Madison some cheese and grapes, turned on a show, and started a second pass of the floor to ensure that all the pieces were gone.

By the time I got downstairs Madison was ready for her bath and bedtime.  I had Adam take her up to get started while I cleaned up the kitchen (read: threw the disgusting dinner in the trash. I know, I know, horribly wasteful.  But I could either throw it away tonight, or let it sit in the fridge for a week and then throw it away).

We got Madison happily tucked into bed, and went downstairs where we had a lovely dinner of grilled cheese.

And we were out of my wine.

Recipe fail (or cooking fail I suppose. But I'm blaming the recipe). Smashed dish fail (guess I need to replace those pasta dishes..time for an upgrade). Wine fail.

Fail. Fail. Fail. 

Tomorrow can only be better.

Today I let my Facebook page fans know that my goal was 100 likes by my birthday, which is Super Bowl Sunday this year! I don't know how you did it, but I'm up to 94!  Thank you, thank you!  If you haven't liked the page yet, I'd love it if you'd check it out.

Circle of Moms is my new favorite place...I was notified today that they'll be posting another article I submitted to them sometime in the next week or two!

Finally, I took some advice from some veteran bloggers and tried to make commenting on the blog itself easier.  I had to dive into html code for this one, but I think it worked out!  I'd love to hear from you!
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