Archives for November 2005


  • Check out Chief Family Officer's Valentine's Day Pinterest board for fun crafts, party ideas, recipes, and more!
  • Recently read and enjoyed: The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin
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  • Turkey Nachos (Dinner Plus Your Next Day’s Lunch)

    I’m a big believer in saving money by cooking at home and brown bagging your lunch, so I’m using this recipe as a chance to explain how I prepare meals like this for our next day’s lunch. You’ll need access to a refrigerator and a microwave oven at work, and some plastic containers and zip-top plastic bags (the sandwich size works fine). First, the recipe:

    Turkey Nachos
    Serves 4

    1 pound ground turkey breast
    2 jalapeños, thinly sliced
    1 package taco seasoning
    3/4 cup water
    1 package tortilla chips
    1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican blend or cheddar cheese
    1 head of romaine lettuce, shredded
    1 avocado, diced
    3 roma tomatoes, diced or 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
    1/2 cup sour cream, optional

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a nonstick pan, cook the turkey, crumbling it with a spoon as it cooks. When the turkey is no longer pink, drain the liquid from the pan and return the pan to the stove over medium low heat. (I put a paper plate over the meat to hold it in place while I turn the pan on its side.) Add the jalapeño, taco seasoning and water, and stir to combine. Cook until the water has evaporated and the jalapeño has softened.
    2. Coat the inside of a 13×9 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Pour the chips into the dish, top with the turkey mixture and cheese, and bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until cheese has melted.
    3. Remove the baking dish from the oven and top with lettuce, avocado and tomato. Serve immediately with sour cream if desired.

    To eat half for dinner and half for lunch:

    • Use a 9×9 baking dish and only half of the chips, half of the turkey mixture, and half of the cheese. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, then add only half of the vegetables.
    • I am assuming that you need two lunches. Put half the remaining turkey mixture into each of two microwavable plastic containers. Divide the cheese into two zip-top plastic bags. Divide the lettuce in two more bags. Put half of the avocado and tomatoes into two bags (they can share a bag). Put half of the chips in zip-top bag and use a rubber band or paper clip to seal the remaining chips in their bag. If you want sour cream, divide it into two small plastic containers.
    • The next morning, pack the turkey, cheese, vegetables, chips and sour cream. At lunchtime, heat the turkey in a microwave oven, then top with the cheese, vegetables and sour cream if desired. Use the chips to scoop up the nacho mixture.

    It may seem like a lot of stuff to take to work, but one (or two) plastic containers plus the plastic bags won’t take up that much space, and won’t require much clean up when you get home. Consider keeping paper plates at work so you can bring the turkey mixture in as small a container as possible, then pour it onto a plate before you top with the cheese and vegetables. Lunches like this will make you the envy of your lunch group!

    Product Review – EZ Carry Floppy Seat Shopping Cart Seat Cover

    One of my relatives was kind enough to buy this EZ Carry Floppy Shopping Cart Seat Cover off our registry in blue, and we began using it once Alex was capable of sitting up without support (at about 6 months). I’m actually quite sure it’s completely unnecessary, and just a hassle I put myself and Marc through, but I like the peace of mind that comes from knowing Alex can’t mouth the cart while we’re shopping.

    The Floppy is plush, with quite a bit of padding. When unfolded, it does take up a decent amount of space. But it’s very easy to shove it back into its built-in pocket, which reduces it to the size of a medium handbag. It has handles so you can carry it on the same side that you’re holding your baby. It’s machine washable, and dries quickly in the dryer.

    There are places to attach toys on the inside, which is nice. Alex usually likes the hustle and bustle of a store and likes to grab things off shelves, so he doesn’t need many toys – a chain of plastic links that he can chew on is usually enough. There’s also a pocket on the inside where you can stash a small toy or two.

    As I said before, the EZ Carry Floppy Shopping Cart Seat Cover is definitely not a must, but if you want the peace of mind of a protective cover, I highly recommend it.

    Xbox 360: A Lesson In Consumerism

    The second incarnation of Microsoft’s video game console, the Xbox 360, will be released on November 22. There are two versions of the console being released: the Xbox 360 Core System, priced at $299.99, and the Xbox 360, priced at $399.99. The main difference between the systems is that the “standard” Xbox 360 comes with a hard drive, wireless controller and, for a limited time, a media remote.

    The “Core System” seems to be aimed at parents who balk at spending $400 on a console, leaving their children to pony up $40 for a memory unit or $100 for a hard drive. It appears that if you want to play games from the original Xbox, you’ll need the hard drive. A wireless controller is $50, and the media remote is another $30.

    There will only be an extremely limited number of Xbox 360s available for the holidays, and many retailers are only selling the 360 as part of a rather expensive bundle pack that includes games and an extra controller. The ToysRUs bundle available through Amazon is $999.95 (not a typo). EB Games has a Core bundle for $599.93 and a standard bundle for $699.92. Their website states that orders placed now may not ship until 2006.

    So what does all of this mean for the consumer? For starters, if they bought the Core System, most gamers would end up spending $100 to buy accessories already included in the standard system – so in this case, the more expensive system is probably the better deal.

    What if you want the system the day it comes out? Limited quantities mean it’s a seller’s market, and that you have to pay a bundle just to get a system (pun intended). If you’re a gamer who would have bought everything in the bundle anyway, then you’ll probably save money. But I think that given a choice, there are at least a few things in every bundle pack that most gamers wouldn’t buy (usually games). So most gamers will end up paying a premium for the privilege of getting their hands on the Xbox 360 when it first comes out, rather than waiting until supply meets demand.

    I can understand that sometimes, you just have to have something. But I hope that the people who are buying the bundle packs have made a conscious decision to pay that premium, and that they’ve also decided that they can afford it (i.e., that they’re not paying for it with a credit card they don’t then pay off).

    Product Review: Fisher Price Healthy Care Booster Seat

    In my previous review of The First Years’ Infant-to-Toddler Reclining Feeding Seat, I said that it was light and easy to carry around, but I failed to mention that it’s rather bulky. That’s not a problem when there’s more than one person, but when I took Alex to a restaurant by myself, it was a little awkward. So we gave it to Marc’s parents to use at their house and got this booster seat from Fisher Price to use as a high chair when we go out to restaurants. I like that it folds up compactly, with the tray attached, and that one of the straps used to secure it to a chair doubles as a carrying strap. I also like that much like the regular Healthy Care high chair, the tray for the booster seat can be sterilized in the dishwasher. The tray also has a dishwasher-safe cover for extra protection. Additionally, the seat itself is easy to wipe clean. The tray and back can be removed as Alex gets older so that the seat can be used as a booster seat to get him to the right height for the table.

    Unlike The First Years’ seat, the Fisher Price seat does not recline, so it’s not suitable for a baby who can’t sit up straight, and it’s not likely a baby would be able to fall asleep and be comfortable in this booster seat. I do wish there were a place to clip toys on to so they didn’t fall on the floor.

    Overall, I highly recommend the Fisher Price booster seat for any baby who can sit up straight.

    Sweet Sesame Soy Dressing

    This is a versatile dressing that can be used for almost any Asian-style salad. It will keep for a few days in the refrigerator.

    Sweet Sesame Soy Dressing
    Makes about 1 cup

    1/4 cup rice vinegar
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    1 teaspoon sesame oil

    In a small bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the soy sauce. Slowly whisk in the vegetable oil and sesame oil. Serve immediately or whisk again before serving because dressing will separate.

    You can add 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger and/or 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds for extra flavor.

    Seasonal Produce

    From L.A. Magazine‘s November issue:

    • Apples: August – November
    • Apricots: May – June
    • Artichokes: February – May, September – November
    • Asparagus: February – May
    • Beets: April – November
    • Blackberries: May – September
    • Blood Oranges: January – February
    • Blueberries: June – August
    • Bok Choy: December – January
    • Cabbage: October – May
    • Celery Root: September – May
    • Cherries: May – July
    • Collards: January – April
    • Corn: May – October
    • Cucumbers: June – September
    • Dates: August – May
    • Eggplant: June – October
    • Fava Beans: May – October
    • Fennel: January – July
    • Figs: June – September
    • Garlic: March – November
    • Grapefruit: December – May
    • Grapes: June – September
    • Heirloom Tomatoes: July – September
    • Kiwifruit: November – March
    • Leeks: November – April
    • Melons: May – September
    • Meyer Lemons: October – March
    • Nectarines: June – September
    • Onions: January – September
    • Peaches: May – September
    • Pears: July – January
    • Persimmons: September – November
    • Plums: July – September
    • Pomegranates: September – November
    • Raspberries: February, May – October
    • Rhubarb: January – May
    • Squash: May – January
    • Sunchokes: November – March
    • Yams: September – December

    Obviously, you can find most of these items in your supermarket year-round, but now you’ll know what to expect if you hit your local farmer’s market.