Monday, May 23, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 5/23/16

The past week has been filled with some fantastic life events, and this week is shaping up to be even better! Tanner's graduation from college, his birthday party, and Memorial Day all will roll up in a fantastic, finish out the month celebration.  Ty will be starting his second summer as a counselor at Warren Willis Methodist Youth Camp, so his time home is limited {at least until the end of August} but....he is so excited.  The immersion in spirituality and the camaraderie with other counselors literally keeps him going for the entire year.

My heart

I'm cooking this week, {yes. I utilized my prepping tips} using up a load of produce from my gardening friends who have been so generous and willing to share.  It's blueberry season around here too, and I have just shy of two gallons to process.  Lemon Blueberry Bread, and quick blueberry freezer jam are definitely on my agenda as well as any other blueberry recipe I come across that tempts my taste buds. Also, Honey Roasted Tomatoes helps to make something so, so tasty from the abundance of tomatoes I have currently ripening to perfection on my counter.  
Death By Chocolate Trifle is Tan's favorite birthday I'm gladly making that too.  Loads of artificial everything are in this dish but...he love, loves it!

Sunshine and Birthday cake.

Grilled Brats for Ty
Grilled Burger for me
{no bun or cheese, can you believe it?}
Green Salad

Roasted Garlicky Green Beans

Out to Eat with Family
Spicy Sausage Pasta {using chicken sausage}

Thai green chicken curry
Basmati Rice

Green Salad
Stuffed Potatoes
{freezer meal}

Baked Parmesan Crusty Tilapia
Green Veggie

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 5/16/16

I was "Slackerella" this weekend, well not really, but it kind of felt like it since I didn't do any of my normal routine weekend prep like things, except chop some fruit and make chia pudding.  Oh, and I also made a Hello Fresh meal and portioned it for my lunch on Monday and Tuesday.  But, like that was it....except for going to work both days for a few hours, getting my hair done did and lazing in the sun {fun stuff for the most part}.  I didn't even throw any laundry in because I'm out of soap {I can't even tell you the last time that happened} 
And that my friends is how I'm starting this week out....throwing all of my good advice to the wind and planning on just wingin' it this week.  However, I always try to have a plan in the back of my mind and meals in the freezer.

Sunshine and cool breezes :)

Scrambled Eggs and Spinach and Feta Sausage
Baked Chili Dogs
Lawnmower Taco {in the freezer...pieces and parts but super simple to put together}
Twice Baked Potatoes {in the freezer}

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

3 Tips and Tricks For Small Family Weeknight Dinners

I've had way more than usual successful weeknight dinners for the last couple of months. I am attributing my success to a renewed desire to prep for the upcoming week...I think I'm more committed because I love all things berry and 'tis the season for berries.  Some of the prepper things I do are just plain common sense to me now, but there was a time not so long ago that none of these ideas came naturally.  I had to learn by trial and error, making lots and lots of  mistakes along the way in planning meals weekly and common sense shopping .  You see, my sweet Mama didn't like to pre plan anything in the kitchen, she preferred to wing it.  Like become inspired on the day of cooking...or of what she took out of the freezer that day.  There wasn't any pre chopping going on and I didn't learn about freezer meals until I was at least in my thirties. {I'm pretty positive cooking was always more of a chore for her rather than any creative expression :) }  Say what?  I was floored to find out that other people actually did this like every week and in doing so saved lots of money.  Now, I'm not saying we didn't eat well...because we did.  She cooked a meat and three with a salad just about every night. She always makes individual salads and only adds what the person eating it likes. Me, never...that is too tedious for words in my honest opinion, but when I go to her house and she makes me my very own individual salad, remembering not to sprinkle seasoning on mine, just 'cause I don't like it...well that folks, in my mind, that's love.  Thanks Mom.

A couple of things have really been a lifesaver and kept me on the "eat at home" track these past couple months.  The first is my vigilance in keeping ahead of my intake of fruits and vegetables by chopping something up every time I purchase any new produce.  The second has been exercising will power.  I have refused to allow myself permission to order out or drive through for dinner.

End of story.

Here are my ideas that keep things moving in the right direction for me:

1.  Buy some containers, and process your fruits and veggies when you get home from the store.
 I like these wide mouth mason jars with screw on lids. They keep everything fresh for days and simplify my evening  prep stuff.  I can get dinner done and on the table by 5:30 pm easy peasy.  Having all the vegetables and fruits already chopped make it so simple to assemble and serve an elaborate dinner salad, casserole, or pasta dish in less than thirty minutes.  If I ordered or drove through it would only make me feel like a complete slug throwing aside all of my weekend chopping hard work.

2.  Pre roast your vegetables on the weekend.
A simple trick or tip I've been using is the art of pre roasting vegetables so that the hassle that is dinner is reduced significantly. Green beans, carrots, broccoli, potatoes, and asparagus are all delicious using this pre cook method. {Season and roast the vegetables as you normally would but for only half of the time.  Remove from the oven and allow them to cool, store in an air tight container in the frig for up to three days. Immediately prior to serving, place the vegetables on a roasting pan and return to a preheated oven, cooking until desired tenderness. Voila, freshly roasted vegetables in half the time....and NO chopping after being at work all day}  I also made a slightly lighter version of Pioneer Woman's stuffed potatoes{used plain greek yogurt, half the cheese and bacon} stowing them in the freezer for those nights that I didn't want to make anything. {Typically, I warm the potatoes in the oven but you could absolutely warm them in the microwave}  At least three times in the past month alone, having those little beauties in the freezer kept me on track and out of the drive through. Adding a side salad with a simple homemade vinaigrette makes stuffed potatoes a complete meal that I am eager to come home to eat.  That meal is my absolute favorite right now.

3.  Pre cook some proteins. {I don't cook all of my meats for the week, just a jump start to top salads,etc}
Another time saver has been to have chicken cooked and seasoned simply and stored in the frig to add to my dishes for protein.  I'm enamored with Springer Mountain Farms chicken tenders.  They come individually frozen in two pound packages and are easy to defrost and cook quickly.  Jessica over at Good Cheap Eats swears by Trader Joe's brand {which is cheaper)....but there isn't one of those stores close enough for me to rely on shopping there consistently.  Usually, I wait for a BOGO on the Springer Farms brand and load up my freezer. {let's hope that sale hurries up!}

Two salads that took about three minutes to throw together...I spend a little more on the lettuce, the organic baby kind.  I think the flavor is way better {maybe in my mind} and combined with the convenience it's totally worth the extra cash.  The organic kind also stays fresher for longer in the frig.
If you didn't notice, I prefer my salad to have loads of fruit in the mix, but my pre chopping/cooking methods easily works with all fruits and vegetables. 
In addition to making salads, I find having fruit chopped and ready to go allows me to make individual servings of yogurt and chia puddings for work lunches without any fuss. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 5/9/16

Oh, I didn't feel very inspired to write this past weekend so my menu plan will be short and sweet. Even though I didn't plan very well, I have a good amount of fresh produce that I'll be eating this week thanks to the deals I found at Aldi.

Happy Monday :)

Grilled Grass Fed Hamburgers with a Yummy Green Salad

My Options Are: I forgot to put this week of Hello Fresh {the last three options} on out since I didn't plan.
Leftover Hamburger with Frozen Stuffed Potatoes
Pork Teriyaki

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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Freezer Cooking Success

Freezer cooking pays off in droves after a busy work day or if you just aren't up to cleaning the kitchen after said work day.  A few months ago, I made Tex Mex Enchiladas{one dish to eat, and one to freeze for a son} I liked the enchiladas and they were really flavorful, but for my wimpy palate, the spice was a little much {will adjust the heat on my next go around} when I cooked them initially.  I had intended for my college boys to take the frozen dish, but they kept forgetting to grab it out of the freezer when they were visiting.  So....yesterday, I didn't want to cook or clean, and when I opened the freezer the dish just called to me.  I wasn't really starving {decreasing the risk} and I decided that I would pop the frozen dish in the oven and take a chance that the end result would be edible.

It was.

As a matter of fact, the frozen enchiladas were better than the original.  What started out as a dinner I thought very well could be headed to the trash bin turned out delightfully.

Bake casserole at 350, starting in a cold oven, for 1 hour covered and 15 minutes uncovered.  Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes prior to serving.
Top with sour cream and serve with a side salad of pre chopped {on the weekend} ingredients {another secret to a great weeknight meal}.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 5/2/16

Happy Monday
{A beautiful gift from Tanner just because,...aaah, sweet son}

I didn't post a meal plan last week but...I've been steadily eating through what's left in my cupboard, only supplementing my supplies with absolute necessities, including fresh fruit and vegetables...Yay for me!  Things are definitely going to get interesting since I have a serious hodgepodge of items left in there. Here are a few dishes I prepared over the last couple of weeks.

Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

Oven Baked Turkey Quesadillas

Pesto Chicken Pasta with Honey Roasted Tomatoes and Peppers

Sloppy Joe Muffins

Chia Pudding is my favorite new dessert, homemade jam on the bottom and wheat germ with fresh berries on top.

I like cooking off of a list with no days or set plans now that I only have to please myself with dinner each night.  Here is what I'm thinking for this week.

1.  Some sort of version of Summer Fruit and Spinach Salad
4.  My own version of Cheeseburger and French Fry Casserole, using what I have.
6.  Granny's Easy Macaroni and Cheese {I'll post the recipe}
7.  Cream Cheese and Chicken Taquitos {for the freezer}
9.  Chicken Lettuce Cups-a friend mentioned these to me just yesterday.
9.  Chickpea, Bacon, and Spinach Pasta

A couple of Mexican recipes will certainly use up the abundance of cilantro I've got.  All my entrees will have vegetables roasted, grilled, or steamed on the side...or....a green salad.  I'm loving the spring produce right now.

Have a great week :)

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 4/18/16

ZELITE INFINITY Paring Knife 4 inch - Best Quality Japanese VG10 Super Steel 67 Layer High Carbon Stainless Steel -Razor Sharp, Superb Edge Retention, Stain & Corrosion Resistant! Full Tang Ideal Gift


The knife sounds were heard around the world, lol.  I spent a lot of time chopping and preparing for this coming week over the weekend...yes, again rained all day Saturday and with nothing better to do, I took advantage of the inside time and well you guessed it, chopped.  I also ironed, did laundry, read a book, straightened stacks of papers, and searched for misplaced paperwork.  

Oh, and by the way, {just for the accountability} the personal moratorium on exercise is over.  Taking a yoga class and the resulting soreness on day two convinced me that this body needs to move more, like a lot more.  Initially health challenges were my reason for missing my early morning standing appointment with the gym and then life and laziness took over. Lots of excuses, with a few good reasons {those of which honestly kept me sidelined for at least a year} thrown in for good measure.  

I'm not making making any long term plans or a big deal out of the "exercise" thing.  Treating these classes as a standing appointment will keep me showing up at least until I start to see/feel the positive side effects.  

I hope....and that's where I'm at this week.

Happy Sunday Funday :)

My Carryover List of Possibilities for the Week
and a few NEW links too.

I did eat at home last week...every take out, no restaurant dining, I pinkie promise swear.  I made the Cabbage Slaw and Pork Chops on Monday and every other day was a version of leftovers and one easy homemade pizza.  Just as well, I probably wouldn't have had a spare second to pack up and deliver the extras that I made. 

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