Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou...

A long while ago, my husband mentioned that he was in the mood for some sort of Cajun pasta.  It was around Lent, so I thought - why not make it a Cajun shrimp pasta and kill two birds with one stone?  The problem was finding the perfect recipe.  I wanted one that didn't use heavy cream and also one that wasn't too spicy or complicated.

Basically, I wanted something that didn't exist.

My sister-in-law shared her recipe with me (which was a huge help), but sort of like all recipes that are awesome - it didn't involve a whole lot of perfect measurements or instructions.  Those are absolutely my favorite recipes - the ones that you know are finished by a feeling rather than by a window of time or oven setting.

Those recipes are also very difficult to replicate.

SO, using her suggestions as a guideline and another recipe as framework, I set out to make my own Cajun shrimp pasta.  I'm happy to say, it was a wild success.  I'm also happy to say, that I actually wrote down what I did so I can share it with you here.

Who's hungry?

{Cajun Shrimp Pasta}

- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb. of shrimp (I use frozen, forgive me.)
- 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
- Cajun seasoning (probably about a tablespoon, but you're just going to eyeball it)
- juice from 1-2 lemons
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- Garlic powder (you'll use less than the Cajun, but ditto about the eyeballing)
- Sliced mushrooms (one small can or 4-5 fresh; dealer's choice)
- 1 red bell pepper (sliced)
- 3/4 cup of milk
- 2 tablespoons of cream cheese
- 1/2 box of whole wheat linguine (cooked)
- fresh shredded parmesan
- ground pepper
- kosher salt

Look at the size of this pepper! Insanity.


- Start by thawing (if necessary) and marinading your pound of shrimp.  I like mine being cleaned and deveined, but if you're so inclined do all that yourself - go for it.  Toss shrimp in olive oil, minced garlic, juice of half a lemon, and Cajun seasoning.  Let it sit in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

- After your shrimp has had time to marinade, melt two tablespoons of butter in a large skillet and sauté the shrimp in it.  At this point you can add another good sprinkle of the Cajun seasoning as well as some garlic powder.

- Let this simmer until the shrimp is mostly cooked and then add the mushrooms and the sliced bell pepper.  Meanwhile, you can start boiling your linguine.

- Stir everything around so it gets nice and covered in the butter and squirt in some more fresh lemon juice.

- Add milk and cream cheese to the pan.  [Side note: You can use any sort of cream cheese you want. We almost always have Chive & Onion in our house, so that's usually what I use.  The cream cheese just aids in the sauce-thickening process.]

- Let all of that cook down until it becomes a nice, creamy sauce.  I usually like to let the sauce thicken up to the point where it starts to coat the spoon when I stir it.

- Toss in the linguine, add the parmesan, and season with the kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  PREPARE TO BE AMAZED.

Monday, August 11, 2014

In the real world...

In addition to providing some reviews of all of the recipes we tried as part of our July meal plan, this month I am also providing you all with an idea of what happens in the NMOTB household after the meal plan is created (as promised.)

When people visit us and see our monthly meal plan hanging on the fridge, the follow-up question is usually, "So, do you actually stick to it?"  My answer as always been, "Well, yes.  Within reason."

But, this month I decided to actually keep track of the subtle changes we made to have a better answer for people.  Sometimes the changes we make will be to the actual meal (i.e., We have a salad instead of asparagus because I didn't see any good asparagus when I went to the grocery store) and sometimes it will be a change to the calendar because of unforeseen social engagements, travel plans that change, or simply that I just don't feel like cooking dinner.  It seemed like the changes in July were more related to the latter because it ended up being an exceptionally busy month.  In looking back, it still appears that the correct response to that FAQ is, "Well, yes.  Within reason."

July 7
Meal Plan - Beef Lo Mein using this recipe.
Reality - Beef Lo Mein using THIS recipe.  
The first recipe used beef boullion which I didn't feel like buying just for one recipe, so I did a little more Pinteresting and voila!

July 8
Meal Plan - Buffalo Pork Chops; One Pan Fettuccine Alfredo; Green Beans
Reality - Dinner with my husband's boss
We had planned to order pizza later on during this same week, so instead I just pushed back all of the meal plans by one day and we enjoyed socializing with my husband's boss at a local eatery we'd been hoping to try.

July 12
Meal Plan - Pulled Pork; Grilled Corn; Potato Wedges
Reality - Too tired to cook
I would say this happens about once a month. I plan a big meal and then realize it isn't going to work given everything else I have to accomplish on that day.  This day was TIH's fourth birthday party, so by the time we got home I didn't want to do anything.  I'm not sure what we ended up eating, but I didn't cook it!

July 13
Meal Plan - Grilled Shrimp with Mustard Sauce; Baked Potatoes; Sauteed Brussels & Corn
Reality - Pulled Pork; Grilled Corn; Potato Wedges; Cole Slaw
We pushed the meal from July 12 back onto this day and invited friends over to share it with us!  It was absolutely delightful to have everyone over and the meal was enjoyed by everyone!

July 17
Meal Plan - Stuffed Peppers; Bread; Salad
Reality - Homemade Pizza; Salad
This was TIH's birthday and he specifically requested pizza for his birthday.  Since we'd done our fair share of dining out over the course of the month already, we opted to make it ourselves.  Served with a nice slice of birthday cake, of course.

July 18
Meal Plan - Grilled Brats; Cole Slaw; Tator Tots
Reality - Snacks
Here was another example of not really being in the mood for a big meal or wanting to cook it.  Instead, my husband swung by the deli and got a few snacks (wings, cheese & crackers, etc.) and we ate that.

July 19
Meal Plan - No meal plan - having visitors
Reality - Stuffed Peppers; Bread; Salad
My husband's parents were visiting and we weren't sure how long they would be staying in town, so we weren't sure if we would be cooking for a crowd or dining out.  When we found out they were heading home early, I went ahead and moved up the meal plan for July 17 to this day.

July 25
Meal Plan - Steaks; Grilled Vegetables; Baked Potatoes
Reality - Steaks; Grilled Vegetables; Baked Sweet Potatoes
The sweet potatoes just sounded better when I was grocery shopping!

July 26
Meal Plan - Spinach & Mushroom Smothered Chicken; Carrots; Pasta
Reality - Had dinner with friends
You know me, I can't miss out on a social opportunity.  We can have this meal some other time!

July 31
Meal Plan - Breaded Pork Chops; Cous Cous; Sauteed Asparagus
Reality - Going Away Happy Hour
A very good friend and colleague is starting a new job with the next school year, so I spent the evening sharing memories over cocktails and moved this plan to August.  Great way to get a headstart!


As you can see, I wasn't too great with the picture taking this month, but we did try a lot of great new recipes.  Some of which I'm happy to say will for sure be making return appearances on future meal plans.

Grilled Fish - (not pictured) We initially planned to cook this on the grill, but decided to go with the oven at the last minute (took about 20 minutes at 400 degrees; my oven generally cooks slow.)  My husband had tilapia instead of salmon, but this delicious marinade worked very well with both.  We left the fish in the marinade for 30 minutes before cooking it.  I think it would be great grilled, so definitely worth a try!

Beef Lo Mein - SO GREAT.  In addition to being very tasty and enjoyable for the whole family (TIH included!), it was exceptionally easy to put together.  A friend of mine also said she tried it with chicken, so this recipe is adaptable to a variety of tastes (would probably be great with extra veggies or tofu as well, if you are so inclined!)  This recipe will be added to the regular rotation without a doubt!

One Pot Fettuccine Alfredo - I love me some fettuccine alfredo and I even have a great recipe I've honed over the years - but this is PERFECT for an easy weeknight side dish.  Sure, cream sauces aren't the healthiest dish in existence, but this is DEFINITELY better than something I would make from a box (which I've been known to do in a pinch.)  These meals that come together in one pan are obviously my new favorites.  I've already put this on our current meal plan!

Grilled Shrimp with Mustard Sauce - (not pictured) Great method for brining and grilling shrimp.  The mustard sauce was just "eh."  I would have rather had a spicy cocktail sauce or a tarter sauce or really any other kind of sauce.  The sauce itself wasn't bad, it just didn't really do much for the shrimp.  Now we actually have a method for grilling shrimp now - we've done it before, but it was all kind of lackluster.  Glad to have something in my arsenal that works!

Lemon Shrimp with Parmesan Rice - (not pictured) I think I did something wrong with this recipe.  For starters, it could have been that I used a boil in a bag rice brown rice instead of the rice recommended for the recipe.  The shrimp itself was great, but paired with the rice it was sort of a gummy mess.  My husband didn't seem to hate it as much as I did, but we both agreed it just wasn't our favorite recipe.  Worth giving it a shot if you can learn from my mistakes, but I'm not sure we'll be trying it again.

Spinach & Mushroom Smothered Chicken - (not pictured; not attempted) This is the second or third month in a row that we haven't gotten to this dish.  I swear it sounds delightful to me, but we keep scheduling it on days that it gets cancelled.  We'll get to it someday.

Cheesy Chicken Orzo - (not pictured) This was touted as "Grown Up Mac & Cheese," but really I think I would have liked mac & cheese from the box better.  We tried to doctor it up a bit by adding some spices and hot sauce, but it just wasn't really anything special.  It's a shame because I was really looking forward to it!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Whoa, whoa, I gotta go back to school again...

Well, here we are at the end of summer.  Also, when did the end of summer start to coincide with the first week in August?  That's nuts!  While I'm a little late in the month to get this monthly meal planning post up, I have a good excuse.  My family and I spent a few days exploring a beach town in Michigan, and I can say with some certainty - I have found one of my new favorite places in the world.

Despite being on vacation, I did still do a little bit of meal planning.  We had rental house with a fully equipped kitchen, so one of our first stops was to the grocery store so we could get some ingredients for what ended up being some truly delicious summer meals.  My husband has a new-found love for charcoal grilling and I have a new-found love for not eating in a restaurant every night on a vacation.

Given that I still have a week and a half before I have to report back to work for our next school year, I'm hoping to share some great recipe reviews soon and perhaps a NMOTB post that has nothing to do with food.  (But, no promises, I always fail when I make grand plans like this.)

But, let's get on with what you're really here for - a MENU!  (New recipes that I'll be trying for the month are denoted with a "*."  I'll try to come back here on the blog to review them, but you can also look for short commentary on my Tried It! board on Pinterest.  (I'm currently rebuilding this board after the loss of my beloved I Made This board was lost in an interweb black hole, but there's some good stuff on there already.)

Love the question marks.  Somedays that's all you got.

{August 2014}

Friday, August 1 - {No meal plan - we had dinner with friends instead of eating in!}

Saturday, August 2 - {No meal plan - first night in Michigan and went out for some YUMMY Italian!}

Sunday, August 3 - Grilled Burgers; Tator Tots; Salad

Monday, August 4 - Grilled Chicken (Garlic Herb Marinade); Grilled Corn; Pasta Salad; Green Salad

Tuesday, August 5 - {No meal plan - spent our last night in Michigan enjoying some delightful Mexican food and sangria}

Wednesday, August 6 - {No meal plan - I got home to discover our cupboards mostly bare.  We ordered in.}

Thursday, August 7 - Breaded Pork Chops; Sauteed Asparagus; Cous Cous

Friday, August 8 - Seared Chicken with Avocado*; Quinoa with Corn & Scallions

Saturday, August 9 - {No meal plan.}

Sunday, August 10 - {No meal plan.}

Monday, August 11 - {No meal plan.}

Tuesday, August 12 - {No meal plan.}

Wednesday, August 13 - {No meal plan.}

Thursday, August 14 - {No meal plan. August is so easy!}

Friday, August 15 - Grilled Italian Sausage with Marinara; One-Pan Fettuccine; Salad

Saturday, August 16 - "Ribs a la My Husband" (Don't ask me what he does, but whatever it is, it tastes like MAGIC); Potato Salad (I'm going to try to steal my mom's recipe from her); Grilled Corn (Gotta have as much as we can before the farmer's market is out!)

Sunday, August 17 - One Pot Zucchini Mushroom Pasta* (Love these easy peasy wonderpot meals!); Salad

Monday, August 18 - Cilantro Lime Chicken Pasta

Tuesday, August 19 - Slow Cooker Minestrone*; Parmesan and Sour Cream Bread*

Wednesday, August 20 - PF Chang's Copy Cat Lettuce Wraps*; Chow Mein*

Thursday, August 21 - Lemon Caper Chicken with Cous Cous; Steamed Asparagus; Salad

Friday, August 22 - Grilled Pizza* (My husband and I have been talking about doing this forever so we're finally going to try it!  Fingers crossed that it doesn't become a disaster!)

Saturday, August 23 - Orzo with Cherry Tomatoes & Artichokes*; Salad (This recipe was on the back of the orzo box I bought for another recipe last month - looks so good, I thought we'd try it!)

Sunday, August 24 - Kielbasa & Potato Hash*; Sauteed Zucchini

Monday, August 25 - Beef Stew; Bread; Salad (This will be our first day with school back in session. Growing up, my mom ALWAYS made beef stew on our first day of school.  So, though it may be a little warm to be enjoying a hearty meal like beef stew, I always really enjoyed that tradition.)

Tuesday, August 26 - Chipotle Bowls

Wednesday, August 27 - Chicken Parmigiana; Pesto Pasta; Salad

Thursday, August 28 - Roasted Chicken and Vegetables; Egg Noodles; Salad (My mother-in-law made this dish for us when we visited once and it was very tasty!  I asked her for her secret and it turns out it just came from the back of the box.  That's two recipes this month.  The back of the box is a great place to look for inspiration!!)

Friday, August 29 - A new grocery store just opened near us and they have a great deli counter where you can get some GORGEOUS meals.  We used to have a grocery store like this near us in St. Louis and we would have at least a meal a month which we just picked up on the way home.  So glad we're able to do this again with this new awesome store!

Saturday, August 30 - Salsa Chicken; Cilantro Lime Rice; Corn

Sunday, August 31 - Chicken Piccata*; Angel Hair Pasta; Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I know this much is true...

Photo credit: Rosser Photography
As a first-time (and hopefully to someday be, second-time) mom, I'm frequently weighed down by the overwhelming amount of lessons I am responsible to teach to my son.  So, I recently started writing down the ones that were really important to me.  I imagine this list will continue to grow.  And perhaps, the things that I find to be super important right now, won't be the things I emphasize when TIH is much older...but for now...these are the things I really want my child to know.

Wear sunscreen.  Wear a helmet.  Wear your seatbelt.  Look both ways before crossing the street.  Don't run on the pool deck.

Among the rudest things you can tell a person is that they look "tired."

Don't yuck anyone else's yum.  This is a lesson that starts in our house with food and goes all the way up to someone's religion.

That being said, it really is okay to disagree with someone. And if someone makes you feel bad about your disagreement, it's probably more about them than you.

I truly think you can say almost anything you need to say if you can be kind with your words.

You should always, always, always try to be kind with your words.

In practically every situation, you should respect the word "no" and the people who use it.  Expect the same from the people you surround yourself with.

Validation does not mean agreement.  You don't have to agree with anyone, but you should validate their reality at every step.

You will learn more if you are friends with people who are different from you.

Be yourself.  It is better to be hated for something you are than loved for something you're not.

Food nourishes the body, mind, and soul.  Eat well.

You are no better than any other person on this planet.

If it's "elite," you probably don't want to be a part of it.

The uncomfortable conversation you avoid having by not expressing anger directly is far less painful than letting that anger eat you alive.

Class is about making people feel comfortable around you. Class is an attribute that should never be assigned to material things.

Be nice to your server.  To the clerk at the grocery store.  To the barista at Starbucks.  To everyone you meet.  Treat others not just how you want to be treated - treat them even better than that.

Some of the most important words to have in your vocabulary:  Please.  Thank you.  Excuse me.  You're right, I'm wrong. I'm sorry.

Do something that scares you every once in awhile.  Don't enjoy life from the sidelines.  But, if something feels wrong or scary or like a bad idea in your gut - listen to that little voice.

We hope to be lucky enough to get you gifts for every Christmas, for birthdays, and sometimes gifts "just because."  We really hope you enjoy them, but I truly hope you remember and cherish more about those special days than the gifts.  Those occasions are not about the presents.

Believe in something.  I sure hope it's God, but even if it isn't, I hope you believe in whatever it is with all of your heart.

Don't litter.  Recycle.  Carpool.  Prevent forest fires.  Leave the planet better than you found it.

Be generous with what you are given and with what you earn.

Never underestimate the power of a sincerely written "thank you" note.  Gratitude is an incredibly important (and often underrated) virtue.

Love is love.

That's all I have for now.  Love, Mom

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Slow down everyone, you're moving too fast...

Dear TIH,
I don't even try to hide the fact that I was not really a baby person before I became a mother.  Whenever I would hold a friend's baby before becoming a mother myself, it was as though the baby could sense I was uncomfortable and he or she would promptly scream their heads off.  Even in the first weeks of your life, every time I held your tiny little body close to mine, I was so scared that I was "doing it wrong," that I would "break" you somehow, that you also could sense I was really not any good at this.

On one such occasion, feeling the anxiety which was all too familiar in those days, I had finally gotten you to go to sleep in the middle of the day.  I looked down at the smallness of you and was dumbfounded how such a tiny little thing could be so overwhelming for me.  I felt a tear roll down my cheek and before I knew it, I was silently crying as I held you.  I felt like SUCH a failure.  And I whispered to you, "I'm sorry about all this.  I can't wait until you get bigger."

And, you did get bigger.
You grew and grew and grew.

You learned.  You walked and talked and did all of the things I was longing for when you were that tiny baby in my arms.

Photo credit: Rosser Photography

It all happened SO fast.
And today - you are four.

I love that you're growing.  Watching you grow is one of the great privileges of my life.  And, I love that we've gotten to grow together.  I got to grow from a sort of selfish woman who didn't really have any idea what it was like to take care of anyone else into someone else entirely.

Your mom.

Photo credit: Rosser Photography

So, thanks buddy.  Thanks for letting me watch you grow.  Thanks for teaching me in your little way to be the woman that I am today.

I know you're excited by how big you're getting and how much you're learning.  You tell us every day about the new "big boy" things you can do.  And truthfully, it breaks my heart a little bit.

Buddy, I have to tell you, it's not so scary for me that you're little anymore.  It's actually much scarier how fast the time is going.  So...if it isn't too much to ask - slow it down just a bit.

Because as it turns out, I can wait for you to be bigger.


From this year's photo shoot with Rosser Photography.
Stephanie, I am forever indebted to you for these priceless and beautiful memories.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I don't quite know how to say how I feel...

Last month I got to see my little sister marry the love of her life.  The minute she asked me to be her matron of honor, I knew exactly what I wanted to say to her in her toast.  I thought I'd share it with you all today.  Enjoy.

I'm an ugly crier.
For those who don’t know, I am Andrea’s sister Amanda.  You know, I’ve been in a lot of weddings (though this is my first time being the matron of honor) and I have to tell you, mostly matrons of honor tell the story the first time they met the groom.  So, I guess that means I’m supposed to tell you that story and tell you that I immediately knew that Ricky was perfect for Andrea and all of that.  Truth be told, I had no idea if he was perfect for Andrea that night or not.  I do know that when my son stuck his entire hand in Ricky’s pumpkin beer, Ricky didn’t even flinch and went immediately and bought himself another one.  No questions asked.  No hard feelings whatsoever.  So whether or not Andrea liked him, as far as my husband and I were concerned, we were going to keep Ricky around for awhile.

Actually, the story I really want to tell tonight is one that happened several years before Andrea and Ricky even knew one another.  Back in January 2006, our family took a trip to Scottsdale, Arizona.  We stayed at a resort on a golf course which had about every available amenity you can think of including, in the center of the resort, a beautiful pool that was gorgeously landscaped, huge, had tons of lounge chairs, fluffy white towels, and a huge water slide that made it look like it had been carved out of a mountain.  As St. Louisans are wont to do at the opportunity to swim in the middle of January, we decided to spend an afternoon poolside and all made our way down there as a group.  Well, everyone except for Andrea, who told us she needed to “get ready” before she met us down there.

I settled myself in on a lounger and opened my book, reading only for a little while before I noticed my sister making her way across the pool deck.  Let me tell you - she was decked. out.  Every inch of her was styled to perfection - from her bathing suit coverup to her flip flops to her sunglasses to her beach bag - everything matched, everything looked great on her, and everything looked perfectly together.  She took the chair next to me, settled in, pulled out a magazine, and leisurely began to flip the pages.  

About three minutes passed when she tossed aside the magazine and announced loudly, “I’m bored.”  She stood up.  Threw off the sunglasses.  Kicked off the flip flops.  And made a beeline straight for the water slide.  Where, she entertained herself by going down the water slide, SQUEALING with delight the entire time.  This went on for about an hour until she got bored with that and dragged me across the pool deck and made me go down about twenty or thirty times.

I tell this story here today, not only because I cannot pass an opportunity to tell a funny Andrea story, but also because I think it perfectly encapsulates Andrea.  It’s pretty normal for a little sister to look up to her big sister, but I am here to say that, though she may be my crazy little sister - I have always looked up to Andrea.

She is 100% able to pull herself together.  She’s graceful and poised and truly makes it all look effortless.  However, she also knows when to throw that all off and just have a really good time. 

And here’s the good news - though I haven’t known him quite as long as I’ve known her - I can say with some certainty that Ricky possesses these same qualities.  (Which is mostly convenient because Andrea needs someone to go down the water slide with her.)

Marriage - I’ve found in my long 5 and a half years - is a little bit like that.  You need to be able to be serious.  To pull yourselves together and remain poised when the occasion calls for it.  But, also, you have to know when to shake it all off, have a great time, and go down the water slide together.

If today is any indication of the joy you will share in the life you spend together, I think you guys are going to be just fine.  And so, I lift my glass to you and to your joy on this day and in all the days that follow.  I love you both.  Congratulations.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Homeward bound...

Check me out.  I was able to register the New Mom on the Blog domain name over the weekend and even get it set up with my old URL.  I'm official y'all.  Though you will be redirected from the old .blogspot URL, you can update your bookmarks or feeds...just because it makes me feel fancy.

I have probably hundreds of foods tied to memories in my life, but the recipe I'm sharing here today has a taste so nostalgic for me, I might as well be sitting beside a campfire outside of my grandparent's camper the moment I take a bite.  I did a little research on Pinterest and it looks like "foil packet dinners" are becoming a pretty popular trend.  Maybe they're en vogue right now, but I can tell you that my family has been making these for decades (and upon talking to my grandmother about the etiology of this recipe - it appears they've been around for even longer than she thought.)

My family always called these "hobo dinners" and if you search for recipes for that, you'll find something very similar to what I'm going to share today. (You can also look for "foil packet dinners" as I mentioned before, or "campfire dinners.")  From what I gather now, this recipe came from a friend of my great uncle, though we always were told this was something my grandmother learned from all of her years as a Girl Scout leader.  No matter where exactly this recipe came from, we know that, like all things that get handed down, we've adapted it slightly over the years and have learned little tricks along the way.  I'm very excited to share it with you today.  The Incredible Hulk (who we all know has his picky eating moments), declared this his "favorite" meal and ate every single bite.  You know it's a winner with that sort of endorsement.

Though these are great to bring along for camping and can be cooked on an open fire, we cooked ours on our grill at home.  You can also just stick them in the oven.  Additionally, once you've learned the method of filling the packets and cooking them, you can pretty much stick whatever you want in there (even dessert items!)  This would also be a great way to cook up some veggies for my non-meateater friends.  (The vegetables were pretty much TIH's favorite part anyway.)

Let's get started.

{Hobo Dinners}

Cast of characters.
- 2 pieces of foil 2-3 feet in length per packet {Use heavy duty foil - we didn't and it worked, but was a pain...learn from my mistake.}
- 1 hamburger patty {Create this however you want - we used our usual method for cooking hamburgers and seasoned them as such.}
- 1 carrot per packet (chopped)
- 1 celery stalk per packet (chopped)
- 1 red potato per packet (peeled and sliced) {The red potato is so important.  My family has been using them in our cooking forever and they are just the best.  No comparison to any other potato variety.}
- half an onion per packet (chopped)
- 1/2 can of tomato sauce per packet
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 pat of butter per packet {My family always uses a pat of Fleischman's margarine which was how the recipe was taught to us.  I haven't used margarine in my cooking in years and don't even keep it in the house.  In fact, when I eat margarine now, it makes me pretty sick.  I do know for a fact that you can use either form and these will still turn out delicious.  But, Time magazine did recently devote its cover to butter with the headline: "Eat butter." Who am I to argue with Time?}

- Place one burger on top of one piece of foil and cover it with the chopped carrots, celery, onion, and sliced red potato.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste.

There's a nice burger underneath all of that good stuff.
- Pour the tomato sauce directly over the vegetables and add the pat of butter (or margarine.)  Season with more salt or pepper

Next step: take a blurry cell phone image for your blog. #fail
 - Now comes the art of foil packetry.  Make a tent out of the foil and fold it at the top.  Continue rolling down until you meet your pile of veggies/meat/sauce.  Then fold up the sides.

I submit to you: the foil tent.
- Flip your foil packet over and then re-roll it with a second piece of foil in the same fashion.  This will keep the juices from leaking out.

Like so.  (As you can see, the results don't have to be pretty.)
- Repeat these steps until you have a foil packet per person ready to go on the grill.  Hobo dinners are customizable, so if anyone likes theirs a certain way (e.g., no meat, no celery, etc.) you can mark them with nail polish.  (This was a suggestion from my grandmother because she says the nail polish won't burn off on the grill so you'll still be able to see whose is whose.)

We lost our grill to a bird's nest this spring. (Gross.)  Here's the new one.  Ain't she a beaut?
- The cook time for these will vary based on the way you are cooking them.  Ours were on the grill for about 30 minutes and were turned often.  In the oven (at 375 degrees), my grandmother said they take a lot longer.  You want to cook them until the burger is just past pink and the vegetables are soft.

- After they're done, carefully open the packet.  (A lot of steam will come out and the foil will be many burned fingers as a kid.)  Transfer to a plate if you're fancy like that.

Like a warm hug from grandma.
Other ideas and bits of advice that my grandmother had to share:
- Consider using a chunkier tomato sauce for a bit more substance
- Set the ingredients up assembly line style and have the whole family build their own packet (get the kids involved!)  This is how I learned to do it, so obviously this was my favorite tip.
- Try chicken breast, green onion, mushrooms, rice, and butter and cook using the same method
- Make "banana boats" for desert (bananas, chocolate chips, pound cake, and marshmallows with a little butter).  WOW.  Done and DONE.
- Make extra because these taste even better as leftovers (You see, these people know me...leftovers are totally my jam.)
- Serve with a nice crusty bread (I did this without even hearing it from her first...totally a good move.)

So, that's that!  Trust me when I say your whole family will love this.  My husband was a huge fan - especially because of the simple clean up.  I would love to hear about adaptations anyone tried and how they turned out.  ENJOY!

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