Saturday, September 24, 2011

Recipe for Family Night

I love it when beautiful events evolve organically, without planning and determination. I find they often do as long as your eyes are open enough to recognize when things are happening and are willing to jump on and ride that train when they do!

Usually when we have Family Night, we have a vision: a new recipe or old favorite for dinner, a special dessert I tackle as a special treat for the kiddos, and some kind of activity (board game, movie, etc) for us to all do together.

Weeknights are usually pretty streamlined: homework or playing outside, simple dinner or leftovers after everyone is finished with homework, bath and some TV or bedtime stories, then bedtime. Last Thursday, however, was different from all the rest. Marc was inspired at some point during the day to replace our chiminea (which has a crack in it that sucks air in at a rate that creates an inferno and needs to be hauled off) with a fire pit and install decorative stones to offset it from the patio. He arrived home after work with a truck full of supplies to find a host of littles eager to help him.

While I got dinner ready and helped Carter with his homework, the crew got to work in the backyard.

Like I said, nothing exciting by any means for dinner. Boxed red beans and rice, dressed up with smoked sausage, leftover roasted chicken, and sauteed veggies.

And you can't go wrong with toasty garlic bread to accompany it!

Red beans and rice were a bit of a stretch for the littles, but they picked through and found bites they approved of, and were brave enough to eat unfamiliar ones. The bigs were perfectly happy and gobbled everything down. Marc admitted later he ate way too much. I have to say I feel quite proud as a Mama when everyone eats the food I make for them happily, and even pays me compliments!

Then back to work. The bigs headed out to the trampoline, and Aidan was intent on helping, "I want to help Mr. Marc!" He went right to the only spot cleared for a little booty on the porch and plopped right down where he could observe and offer his opinions (which, if you know Aidan, are plentiful) on the process. He's a great helper *grin*.

Stone spot for the fire pit done, and the kids kept jumping.

Corrinne yelled, "Missy, come jump with us!" I don't pass up invitations like that, even though a horribly disastrous kitchen awaited me, and a blog post I'd been trying to get up for a couple of days. Camera down. Shoes off. Jump.

Then Aidan remembered the fort he's been wanting to make. Bless his heart, he's waited patiently for the bigs to be here because he didn't want them to miss out on the project!

He spots the empty box from the new fire pit and knows exactly what to do with it. "A little hand here!" So I helped him in with the box and he announces to the rest of the kiddos the plans for the evening.

I don't think they quite got his vision. He tries to explain to them how we need to open the bottoms of the boxes and attach them together to build a tunnel. Unfortunately, they'd already set up residence in them and turned on the Disney Channel. Poor kid.

Meanwhile, Marc was thoroughly enjoying the work of his hands! Yay!

I pulled out ingredients to whip up some chocolate chunk cookies, since I found out Corrinne had dubbed me the "Cookie Maker," but the kiddos spotted the remaining brownies before I could get things going (remember I was juggling clean up, uploading pictures and typing for a blog post, and frantically trying to not miss precious picture moments happening all around me)! Little Miss remembered we had some blue frosting in the cabinet, and Aidan requested sprinkles. 

Before we knew it, these clever little chefs had come up with their own imaginative treat that had nothing to do with me!

And once we got the munchkins to bed, Marc and I bundled up, poured some wine, and sat under the stars to enjoy the fire. 

It's the moments that can so quickly pass us by that we must notice and cherish!

Recipes for this Family Night

Missy's Red Beans and Rice
(the half homemade version - I do have a from scratch version I make when I have time)

2 Boxes Zatarain's Red Beans and Rice, cooked according to directions
1.5 packages skinless Eckridge Smoked Sausage, chopped
1c leftover roasted chicken (lemon rotisserie from Wal-Mart), chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
2T oil (olive or vegetable)
2T minced garlic

Get red beans and rice going in a stock pot, while you saute onions, celery and carrots in oil in a pan over med/high heat. Once you've sweat the onions and the other veggies are slightly soft, add sausage, chicken and garlic and brown lightly. Add to the pot with the red beans and rice, and put the lid back on for the remainder of the cooking time indicated on box. Serve with buttered garlic bread, and top with shredded cheddar cheese, if desired.

Corrinne and Aidan's "Magic" Brownies

Left over brownies (we had a pan of Betty Crocker's Ultimate Fudge Brownies from last week)
Betty Crocker Decorating Cupcake Icing (in sky blue)
Sprinkles of your choice!

Love and Honey,

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