Handyman Tim travels for work a lot. Like weeks at a time a lot. Our record is 6 weeks straight including weekends but thankfully the majority of his trips keep to the week days. One of the questions I hear very frequently is, "How do handle it?!" The answer is, I keep busy! I've become very talented at distracting myself while Tim is on the road. This blog features most of my methods: quilting, sewing, photography, online workshops, writing, etc. I'm constantly on the look out for crafts and activities that I can do from home with tiny helpers at my side.
There are days I get super frustrated that we're home alone as much as we are but then I remember the military families and single moms out there doing my job 365 days a year and I'm in awe of them. My lot in life doesn't seem nearly as difficult and not nearly as impressive in comparison to what strength they have to carry on for their families.
But as a mom of little kids who faces many days alone with time to kill (and sometimes survive!), I've developed a few tricks that make life easier. One of the biggest helpers I've discovered is rearranging how we approach meal times.
The nighttime routine around here can be insane when it is done singlehandedly. Trying to find the energy and inspiration to make a healthy dinner for just myself and a toddler is extremely difficult. Add to that feeding the toddler and the infant, cleaning up afterwards, and then jumping right into bath time routine and tuck-ins, it can be just too much at the end of a long day.
So when Handyman Tim is on the road, we've started to do Dinner for Lunch. We've done Breakfast for Dinner to enjoy french toast and such during the middle of the week. Dinner for Lunch means we eat our main meal of the day at noon when I have more energy and time on my hands to do the prep work and clean up. Real "dinner" then consists of easy to serve whatever's in the fridge type foods.
I can't really handle the thought of eating a full-blown casserole for Dinner for Lunch so I look for more involved warm lunches that incorporate fruits and veggies for a nice well-rounded meal. Today's lunch was a perfect example. Whether you ever decide to try the full recipe or not, I'd highly recommend saving the recipe for the dip! It was DELICIOUS and will be made again as an accompaniment to homemade chicken fingers very soon.
Chicks in blankets with crispy orange salad
adapted from "Yum-o! The Family Cookbook" by Rachael Ray
1/2 cup apricot all-fruit spread
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp tamari (dark soy sauce)
1 tbsp cider vinegar
3 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp spicy brown mustard
1 sheet (half a package) of frozen puff pastry, thawed
4 precooked chicken sausages (I used Archer Farm's Sweet Apple Chicken found at Target. They were Perfect.)
2 tbsp poppy seeds
1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, chopped
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
1/4 seedless cucumber, sliced
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the apricot preserves and honey. Pour one third of the apricot mixture into the bottom of a salad bowl. Whisk in the tamari and vinegar. In a slow stream, whisk in the canola oil. Set your salad dressing & bowl aside.
Stir the mustard into the remaining apricot mixture in the first bowl. Set aside.
Cut the pastry into 4 squares. Spread a little of the apricot-mustard on each square, roll up the sausages in the dough and pinch the seems to seal. Place seam side down on a cookie sheet. Brush each top with a bit of the apricot mixture for color. Sprinkle the poppy seeds on top.
Bake according to the package directions or until golden brown all over– about 15-20 minutes.
While the sausages are baking, add the lettuce, oranges, and cucumbers to the salad dressing bowl and toss to coat. I personally found the dressing recipe made far too much for the salad. I stored it in a separate container and just added a bit to the actual salad. I'll save the extra for our leftovers meal tomorrow.
Serve the sausages with the remaining dip you saved from earlier. It has such a wonderful spicy sweet flavor. Even the Peanut loved it. But she did pluck her chicken from the puff pastry. What kind of kid am I raising that doesn't love puff pastry?!? Nutty girl.