Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Great Dining Room Experiment

Downton Abbey started up again this week. I caught the promos and was reminded a lot of the action occurs in the Abbey's dining room. The dining room with the big long table that seats fourteen on a quiet night and more with added leaves. Come to think of it, the servants table fits at least that many.

Yep, I was more interested in the dining room than the plot. Mainly because one of ManO's Christmas gifts was my promise to serve dinner in the dining room, starting with the new year. We eat breakfast in the kitchen nook and family dinners there too (not as many breakables for kidlets). But our empty nest dinner time had dissolved into catch as catch can in front of the television. Never good.

Most of my friends have turned their dining rooms into something else, like a sitting room or library...sigh. But we have a lot of heirloom family pictures and furniture. It's more of a museum really. But ManO loves it and loves eating in a formal space. Maybe he's got a title and hasn't told me he's really upper crust.

Regardless of whether he has been hiding that he's an earl or a lord or even a baron, I decided, after our tough 2014,  I would do more things to make him happy and this is a big one. Eating in the dining room. We are going to give it a go for one month to start and I'll report on what we've learned.
Excuse the naked table. The cloth is getting washed. The table was ManO's parents first table.


ManO is doing things to make me happy in the new year too. We're going back to separate offices and hobby spaces. Some of my friends share very successfully but many thought I was nuts to share in the first place. Movers are coming in to flip our furniture and create two separate spaces out of our current study downstairs and hobby room upstairs...using only the furniture we have to create a better ergonomic space for me and a temporary space for him until we add the infamous train room. Thank goodness I am married to an engineer.
Every complicated change needs a plan. De-cluttering rooms of furniture is tough.
With the house turning upside down, I needed an easy way to get through the week meal-wise. I settled on turkey meatballs. ManO and I swore off ground beef after one fast food lunch included grease dripping down our arms as we ate our hamburgers. Grease ISN'T the word...a la the musical...in our house anymore.  The great thing about turkey meatballs is they are easy, can be frozen and are versatile.


Turkey meatballs

1 lb ground turkey
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt , to taste
1/2 teaspoon sage

Form into balls using a cookie dough scoop

Space on foil lined pan or broiler pan

Bake at 375 for 25 minutes, turn, and cook for ten more minutes until browned. You can serve them right away or cool, freeze them on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet, then pop them in a freezer bag until ready to use. I cook the frozen balls straight from the freezer at 400 until thoroughly heated.

Meal #1: The first night I fixed Turkey Meatballs with spinach and garnished with Parmesan cheese. Just sauteed the spinach, plopped on the meatballs and sprinkled with a bit of cheese. Flavorful, low carb and easy.


Meal #2: The meatballs were covered with spaghetti sauce and served on black bean spaghetti.

Meal #3: I'm ready for the next blast of cold air with meatball soup. All it takes is chicken or turkey broth (one cup per serving), veggies and appropriate spices.  It's a toss up for me about if I want to go Asian or Italian inspired. If I go with the first, I will add bok choy and bean sprouts along with a dash of ginger and gluten free soy sauce. If I go with the second, I'll use spinach, canellini beans and Italian seasoning.

That should get us through moving day on Thursday. I am so glad we are just going between floors and not having to move outside. It's going to be cold!

So, are you making changes in the new year in your home or in your diet? Do you use your dining room or do you even have one?


20 comments:

  1. I have a dining room now! put my mom's table in it (minus the leaves so it's round with 4 chairs) and I try to use it as much as I can. mine's a townhome so it's really not much different from where the other table was excpt it's in the front of the house now...nothing fancy. I'm making diet changes- eating healthier and want to cook more at home though I'll be doing good if I can do the first - have frozen meals on hand for work since doing this new rotation wont' really allow a lot of time to cook even without callout except one week and a few days here and there...and if I hve callout then it's even tighter. But I want to eat out less if I can manage it.

    Susanna

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay for you, for the dining room and planning ahead with the frozen meals. Yep, we really are over eating out and are hoping to save some money doing so, besides doing it for our health.

      Delete
  2. Meatball soup. Yes. Please and thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I saved it tonight because it will be 13 degrees. You remember what that is like, right?

      Delete
  3. Blogger hated me this morning--this is the 3rd time I'm commenting! I just had to say that no, we don't have a dining room, just a table in an area between the living room and the kitchen. We put mail on it. We eat breakfast there.That's about it.
    And thanks for the tip to freeze the turkey meatballs! Mine were always falling apart so I stopped making them and bought them instead--the purchased ones can be very salty. So thank you Julie!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad that tip helps. Mine didn't fall apart I think because it was all meat and egg. But it is all about proportions.

      Oh our table in the breakfast nook is a mess. Mail, the room layout paper dolls, and a little space for breakfast!

      Now blogger behave!

      Delete
  4. Ooh, I think grease dripping down my arm would inspire me to change as well. Thanks for sharing the recipe! I've made pork meatballs but haven't thought to do turkey.

    I ended up trying the black bean pasta after you recommended it. And I loved it!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Also meant to say good luck with the office move!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I shudder to think what it would be like if I hadn't done all that decluttering last year!

      Delete
  6. I'm totally in on meatball soup!

    I love dining rooms. Knowing I'd have my dining room back someday was reason enough to turn it into a daycare room for years and years... I think that dining room was my total motivation for building the family room!

    It's country, old-fashioned, and so stinkin' sweet and when you curl up in there to do homework or frost cookies, it's still stinkin' sweet! I can write anywhere. Have laptop, will travel! But getting my dining room back put me in historical happy mode!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is great!!!! I am glad there is another dining room lover out there. And our home feels bigger somehow now that we are using it again!

      Delete
  7. Susanna! SO PROUD OF YOU!!!! Do what you can each day. It all adds up, my friend!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Mmm...those turkey meatballs look deelish!!! I'm going to make them this week. Maybe tomorrow since it is deadly cold here in Connecticut and the Calhoune family needs some hot comfort food. I love your present for ManO. We have a dining room area between our kitchen and living room. I set it up for Christmas but other than the holidays we don't tend to eat there. I think that's a good resolution for the New Year. To eat more meals at the dining room table. It's a beautiful burnished wood that hubby always covers to protect it, but I would love to just eat on it without a covering because it so gorgeous. Another resolution. Eat on table without tablecloth!!! And kudos for decluttering. I have so much of that to do, mostly books and papers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good for you. And there has been a movement over recent years to eat together as a family. I think the dining room makes it even more doable. So long as everyone puts away their phones.

      Delete
  9. And I forgot to confess.....I have never watched downton Abbey.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We've had dining rooms in some houses, but not in others.

      In one house I used the dining room for the daycare play room. We had an eat-in kitchen, and the first two children were little. It worked.

      In another (the one built in 1910), we had a dining room that we used for all our meals. The eating area in the kitchen was our school room. Tiny, but a couple bookshelves fit in by the table and the children were little (4 of them by that time).

      In another house, the only eating area was in a room we called the keeping room. The kitchen was at one end and a fireplace was at the other. We put the table in between and used it for everything - all meals, school, the Bible study we hosted once a week.... Everything!

      Now we have a dining area off the kitchen. No formal dining room. Actually, in this house (built in 2003), we don't have a formal anything. It fits us, I guess, not being formal people :)

      Changes this year. Hmm. I'm continuing with Trim Healthy Mama, but trying to include more vegetables. Good fresh veggies are scarce around here, so I've gotten lazy. But increasing my veggie intake is one change I want to make.

      And let me get this straight - you and Man-O aren't eating beef because of greasy hamburgers? Oh, Julie, you need to visit. I'll fix you a burger with lean, grass-fed beef that will make you say "no more turkey burgers!" :)

      Delete
  10. Belle, I stopped after the infamous Christmas episode two seasons ago that traumatized everyone. Now I just see the promos and recaps as they come across my feed.

    Jan, Oh, I love grass fed beef but Five Guys goes with the cheap stuff for sure!

    I would love a keeping room with a fireplace especially today. And I love grass fed beef when I can get it. It's interesting how different times in our lives have different emphases on rooms and what they are used for, same for home design.

    ReplyDelete
  11. That's a beautiful table y'all have. The wood seems to gleam. Is it maple or birch? We have a dining area in this house--it's "open concept" so there's that. We do eat nearly all our meals there. It's not like we're sacrificing anything because we can see the tv from there, too. But it does expand to seat 8 in a square when we have people over for dinner.
    Jillian and Sarah have both made turkey meatballs (or used organic beef) and then froze them for the babies/toddlers. They just whip them out and stick them in the oven for a bit and there's a good amount of protein for them. The only healthy thing I've changed in the new year is give up soda. I am actually on day 10 and I will shout it from the rooftops. It's. Not. Easy.
    Now to get the office organized. ugh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll tell ManO he's eating baby food!

      Good on you for giving up soda. I did it nine years ago and it was agony but worth it!

      Good luck with the office!

      Delete