Monday, August 31, 2015

Miam Miam Monday (Menu Plan) v6

DH is on the mend and we are off the bland diet. Wahoo!!

Since school starts for us after Labor Day, this week I'm practicing getting in school mode. That means 6am wake ups for me (Lord, have mercy!), all three kids dressed & fed by 8am, lunch ready & packed for Junior, clothes laying out the night before, and naps that end by 3pm to facilitate after-school pick ups. I'm getting ready to turn to slow cooker and easier meals to facilitate eating between school, homework, soccer practice, soccer games, catechism, school meetings, Parish Commission meetings and everything else we have going on in this crazy house.

Don't worry, I bought a case of Coke to help me through.

And yet I still failed spectacularly this morning. I got up 40 minutes late because the kids were still asleep and dagnabit WHY DO THEY ONLY EVER SLEEP WHEN I HAVE TO GET UP?!?! Talk about not fair. All kids were fed by 8am, but only 1/3 were dressed. Now to practice walking up to the school to get an idea of how long it will realistically take to make that walk. I'm gonna end up driving him to school aren't I?

Here's my plan for this week:

This one is a favorite around here. The sweetness of the Hawaiian Rolls, with the saltiness of the ham, plus the tangy saucy marinade...perfection. It is so easy to throw together in the morning to toss in the oven in the evening. It really is a winner.

Remember when I made my not-favorite shredded beef last week? For this easy meal I grab a portion of shredded beef leftovers from the freezer in the morning and let it thaw. In the evening, I pour a bag of tortilla chips on a baking sheet, top the chips with the beef (draining some liquid if necessary to keep the nachos from being soggy), cheese, a can of black beans, and frankly whatever else we like on nachos, and pop in in the oven for a few minutes to heat it up & melt the cheese. Serve with salsa, guacamole & sour cream and you've got yourself a Nacho Tuesday Party.

Stadium Sausages on Croissants
I'm not typically one for hot dogs or sausages, but my mom made Stadium Sausages from Kowalski a few weeks ago and I've been craving them ever since. 

But I also saw this recipe from Climbing Grier Mountain

So combine those two things and you get Stadium Sausage on Croissants with Bechamel Sauce and Crispy Bacon.

You should eat one or two. You won't be sorry.

Sloppy Toms
One of our family's favorite Sloppy Joe recipes is found over at Mix and Match Mama. Go a little light on the liquids to make it a smidge less sloppy and double the recipe so you can freeze some leftovers for another night. I simply make it with ground turkey instead of ground beef...and like magic...Sloppy Toms.

Mmmmm, pizza night. You guys, I'll share with you my perpetual dilemma: (1) I like my pizza on Friday nights, and (2) I like my pizza with pepperoni, and (3) I never want meat more than I do on Fridays, and (4) I try to do a meatless Friday.

Yet, with this pizza, I don't miss the pepperoni and I still keep a meatless Friday.

Win, win, win, win.

The link has a bonus dessert pizza recipe too!

You know when you are walking through the grocery store at dinner time and you smell the Rotisserie Chicken and you walk out with one (or more) in your cart, some Hawaiian Rolls & pre-made mashed potatoes or mac 'n cheese? 

You know exactly what I mean.

Well, now you don't have to take a trip to the grocery store to smell a delicious Rotisserie Chicken. And won't you be proud of yourself for not scrapping whatever dinner plans you had for a grocery store chicken? Puff up that chest, and wipe that dirt from your shoulder because you should be way proud.

My day off! I'll be listening to Junior whine about having to go to bed "early" on-time and "only one more day until school starts" and "it isn't fair" and life is so hard when you're 6. So, it should be fun.

What's on your plan for this week? Are you starting to switch out summer recipes for Autumn favorites yet?

Linking up with Simcha again!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

20 Questions + 1 more

Hannah at Gokie Notes posted her answers to these 20 questions and I giggled aloud at several of her answers because (1) she's adorbs, and (2) she's apparently my opposite twin (black socks?!?! No, no, no. White tube socks, all the way).

These are always fun. I love seeing the answers everyone has - we are all such a bunch of special little snowflakes. In my case, after reading this, you'll think I'm just a flake (I'm a strange one).

(1) Favorite food?
Since "all of it" is not an appropriate answer to this question, I guess I'll have to be more specific. I will say medium Filet Mignon with garlic butter, dipped in Alfredo sauce. Too much?
How about brownies?
Or cupcakes - yellow with chocolate frosting?
Or pizza with broccoli and sweet tomato sauce?
Or a super juicy burger stuffed with blue cheese and topped with caramelized onions & crispy bacon?

Did I mention I like food? Oh, I like food.

(2) Flip flops or high heels?
There was a day when the answer would have been high heels. Because I wore heels to work every day and I enjoyed finding a perfectly wild pair of 4" heels to wear to my ultra-conservative workplace.

These days though...flip flops. I blame it on my kids. Wrangling these little minions in high heels is dangerous work, so flats for the win. Though I live in a constant state of worry for my poor toenails' demise. My kids have kicked my toenails off more times than I care to count (let that sink in for a moment, <<shudder>>), so while I wear flip-flops leaving my poor lower digits exposed & vulnerable, said digits are almost always scrunched over like the claws of an eagle. Scared, size 11W eagle talons. That is what is found at the southern most end of my body. In flip-flops.

(3) Favorite places to shop for yourself?
Hmmm, I guess "the grocery store" is not gonna suffice for this one. If money were no object (and they sold clothes that fit my lusty & busty frame) White House Black Market would be my choice. I like my clothes black. More realistically though, I find some good stuff at Sears on sale, I like Lands End stuff. And t-shirts from Target. Can't go wrong with a fresh set of black t-shirts each year at Target.

(4) Standard coffee order?
None for me, please and thank you. I have never gotten into drinking coffee. The aroma causes me to dry heave.

That makes me think of a gift I received: a necklace made of coffee beans.

Oh you want to see a picture of that? Sure. Here it is.
Mmmmm, coffeeeee. Around. My Neck.
May I please have an ice cold Coke? Or a hot chocolate? Or a chocolate shake? Or a peanut butter chocolate shake? Or a peanut butter chocolate fudge & Oreo chocolate shake?
(5) Road trip must-have snack?
None. No eating on road-trips. I don't have anything against eating in the car per se. I have a thing against me eating in the car. Because cars don't have bathrooms. At least mine doesn't. That's all I have to say about that.

(6) DIY or hire it out?
DIY for sure. I love doing projects. I would use the money I save from DIYing to hire a babysitter so I actually could DIY without everything I am DIYing (and everything I am not currently DIYing) being destroyed.

(7) Top 5 TV Shows
Friends; The Office; Parenthood; The A-Team; Dukes of Hazzard.


Friends: Watched this one from the beginning to the end. I just adore this show.

The Office: Got into it late. Fell for it instantly. I love the quirkiness of all the characters. And the realness of Jim & Pam. And the silliness of the rest of them.

Parenthood: Binge watched the first 3 seasons on Netflix over the course of 3 weeks. Then the 4th season came out on Netflix and I watched 'em all in about 3 days. I watched the fifth season as it unfolded each week on TV. TORTURE! I ugly cried myself through the last 2 episodes. And when I say "ugly cried" I mean "soaked my t-shirt with tears and snot ugly cried."

The A-Team: Obviously. They were awesome and my cousins and siblings and I used to play A-Team in the backyard. We had more cousins than characters on the show, but that never stopped us. Plus we were mostly girls. So our version was not an accurate representation of the show, but it was darn fun.

Dukes of Hazzard: How cute were the Duke boys?!?! Muy. Muy. Guapo. Bo & Luke Duke were where it was at. Still a fan of awesome car chase scenes, and frequently find myself humming, "dadaldadaduhduhlduhdadadaduh!" when I get a little heavy footed in the old minivan.

(8) Favorite book
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Cliché much? I know, but it is my favorite. Along with all the movie versions of this classic. The best of the best is the BBC version with Jennifer Ehrle as Elizabeth Bennet and Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Swoon.

(9) Favorite form of exercising?
Again, none. I do NOT like to exercise. But I should (see #1 & #4 above). If forced to pick something, I'll rollerblade because that does not seem like real exercise to me.

(10) How tall are you?
I always thought 5'8", but was measured 2 years ago at 5'7". So shorter than I always thought, I guess.

Funny story. Two years ago during my annual required physical my height was reported (for BMI calculating purposes) as 5'7". Last year despite measuring the same 5'7" tall, my health insurance company sent me a report where, when calculating my BMI, they listed me as being 78" tall. Except 5'7" = 67" not 78". 78" = 6'6". They congratulated me on lowering my BMI so dramatically over the prior year. Apparently it didn't seem strange at all to them that a 38-39 year old woman grew 11" in one year. I guess in their world it is reasonable that my BMI was lowered so drastically by me growing almost a foot while not changing my weight at all. Think they'll notice this year if I shrink 11" and my BMI returns to it's pre-growth spurt level?

(11) Do you try something new at restaurants or stick to something your favorites?
Oh, I stick to my favorites. I don't like to try new things at restaurants. I blame it on my allergies and needing to know exactly what goes into each dish. But mostly it's because I am incredibly boring and predictable.

(12) One makeup item you can't live without?
Again, none. I rarely wear makeup. It irritates my skin. And my mascara runs down my face about 18.3 seconds after application because I forget I am wearing it and rub my eyes.

Can I answer lip gloss though? I use it to bribe my 3yo into going #2 on the potty. She is allowed to wear purple lip gloss when she successfully gets her business done in the place deemed acceptable by her personal tushy wiper.

(13) What's on your nightstand?
A stack of clothes that I need to donate. And my Bible.

(14) What's one thing motherhood has taught you?
That I am able to sustain a relatively high level of functioning on precious little sleep. And that I needed to quit swearing. And listening to rap music. Kids are like parrots.

(15) Music that reminds you of high school?
C&C Music Factory - Everybody Dance Now
Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
Extreme - More Than Words
Aerosmith - Love in an Elevator
Tag Team - Whoomp! There It Is
Pearl Jam - Black
Stone Temple Pilots - Plush
Vanessa Paradis - Joe le Taxi

I have eclectic musical tastes. What can I say?

(16) If you could live anywhere in the world besides your current city, where would you live?
I always want to say, "I'd love to live on a farm/ranch in the middle of nowhere in Texas/Oklahoma."

Then I laugh at my silly self, remember how much I detest bugs and snap back to reality (oh there goes gravity)!

Paris. France not Texas. I'd live in Paris, France. And eat croissants and bread and cheese and chocolate and croque monsieurs.

(17) Tell me something about you we might not know.
I get "European Flush" when I drink alcohol. With just a few sips of alcohol, my face & chest turn bright red, my skin burns & itches, I have heart palpitations, my speech slurs, my legs and arms feel very heavy & tingly and all I want to do is go asleep immediately. It's delightful. But mostly embarrassing.

This all developed after my first pregnancy and has been my reaction to any alcohol consumption ever since.

This reaction is more common among people of East Asian descent. But I am not of East Asian descent. We are European through and through. The cause of "European flush" is unknown and the only "cure" is avoiding alcohol. Lucky me.

(18) Websites you read/browse?
There's a flat ton of websites I read and browse. I have about 50 food blogs I read regularly, plus all the blogs on my blogroll. I also enjoy reading the National Catholic Register website, ChurchPOP, and I am found on "the Facebooks" from time to time.

(19) Morning person or night owl?
Night owl. Just say no to mornings. If only I could get my kids on board with this one. I think my son is headed towards being a night owl like his mama. And Alice, the 3yo, would stay up late into the night hours...which wouldn't be so bad if she would sleep past 7am. It's the LizzieBeth that's driving me batty here. That girl wakes up at 5am. No, just no. There are no babies allowed out of their cribs before 7:30am unless we have somewhere to be. The end.

Peri-menopause is a wonderfully infuriating thing in that I feel tired all. the. time. But can't sleep, because insomnia. I can go to bed at midnight, but I'll just lay there awake (but still as a statue lest I wake the children) until almost 5am. You know, when Lizzie wakes up. Maybe I should start using under eye concealer and make that my #12 above?

(20) Favorite breakfast meal?
An ice cold Coke.

Or a homemade cinnamon roll.
Make that "and." And a homemade cinnamon roll.

+1 = (21) If you could have a do-over in life, what would it be?
Oh, so many bad haircuts I could stop with a do-over, but I'd need lots and lots (and lots and lots) of do-overs to stem the tragic tide of mushroom & helmet headed horrors.

I'm going to go with con(re)verting to Catholicism much earlier. I really wish I wouldn't have taken so long to come home to the Catholic faith. I'd been on the path to con(re)verting for more than 10 years before I actually did it. That's too long without the Eucharist.

Your turn! Do it! You know you want to answer them too!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Miam Miam Monday (Menu Plan) v5

Last week I didn't post my menu plan. I meant to do so, but a couple things happened that threw me for a loop and required a major overhaul to my plan and continuing adjustments on the fly.

And that is not how I like to spend my week in relation to food. I much prefer knowing what we are eating all week, having the ingredients on hand (or knowing when I need to go to the store to buy fresh items), and being able to plan my days accordingly.

First, my DH was supposed to be headed out of the country on a business trip which would have made my food life easier as my kids do not require the variety that my husband does. They are more than happy with a nice easy rotation at dinner of pancakes & fruit, noodles with veggies, hot dogs & corn on the cob. And I am happy to just have a salad or sandwich for dinner - and take a break from the more elaborate cooking I normally do. But he didn't go.

Secondly, my DH didn't go out of town because he fell ill and the doctor didn't think it would be wise for him to travel out of the country taking a chance of having to undergo emergency surgery in a less developed nation should his issue progress rather than resolve. And his sudden illness required a liquid diet for 48 hours, followed by a bland diet.

I don't cook bland food. At least not on purpose.

Nearly everything I had planned needed to be tossed and we all joined daddy on his odyssey of noodle soup, jello, boiled chicken, rice and mashed potatoes and crackers. I made the food daddy could eat, then tweaked it so the rest of the family would enjoy it as well.

All I have to say about that is - time for daddy to get better already.

He's not back to 100% yet, but here's the plan for this week anyhow. If I have to bland it up again for my husband, I will, but the rest of us are eatin' like normal.

Fettuccine Alfredo with Broccoli & Chicken 
This is using up some leftover poached chicken and canned Alfredo Sauce. I'll steam the broccoli on the side because DH can't eat broccoli at this point so I want to keep it separate.

This is an easy version of fried rice (less the oyster sauce - because allergies!) - made even easier by using a 16oz package of mixed frozen vegetables instead of chopping my own. The rice is leftover bland food that needs to be used up. I can add in chicken too if we still have some leftover.

Onion Chicken (for the kids) and Caprese Avocado Toasts for the grown-ups
The kids love my Onion Chicken. I'll serve it with some green beans and buttered rolls and call it a night. For the grown ups - we're going with these delicious avocado toasts. Seriously, so, so fantastic.

Italian Shredded Beef Sandwiches
This isn't my favorite shredded beef recipe (that one is here). But without the chilies it is certainly bland enough not to upset my husband's tummy. This recipe makes a ton of shredded beef...more than we can eat in 1 sitting. Even if we eat some leftovers for lunch and/or dinner...there is still too much to use up so I'll freeze 'em to use in nachos, enchiladas and/or tacos over the next few weeks of soccer season.

Pizza and Cheesy Garlic Breadsticks
I am thinking we'll go with a Chicago Style Deep Dish Veggie Pizza. And our usual Cheesy Garlic Bread Sticks. Since I'm trying to come up with ways to save some kitchen time, I'm going to make the usual batch of pizza dough, but use half of it to do something a little out of the ordinary. I'll tell you all about that next week though :-)

A cliffhanger. Expect the unexpected here folks. I'm like the Spanish Inquisition over here.

Burgers and grilled veggies
I'll offer these two variations. Bacon & Bleu Burgers and Cheddar Beer Burgers. Pick your poison. I know which burger I'm pickin'. One of each, DUH!
I like to make 'em mini and enjoy them on tiny homemade slider buns.

My night off. We'll be at my parents' home enjoying something delicious. 

*NOTE: These are NOT affiliate links. I don't benefit financially or in any other way by linking to any of these blogs. is my personal food blog where I post my recipes from time to time.

Linked up with Simcha Fisher for her What's for Supper feature. Check out her Monday's got just the sort of name that could get my kids to eat it!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Chocolate Chip Scones

Each weekend, I enjoy making a "treat" breakfast for my family. One of the breakfasts my kids request with regularity is Chocolate Chip Scones. I can't blame them.

This recipe makes fluffy scones that definitely will never be confused for health food. But that is what makes them a weekend treat. If you don't think you and your family will finish all 12 scones for breakfast (I'd be impressed if you could), panic not, my friend! These are delicious at room temperature later in the afternoon as a snack.

Chocolate chips not your thang? You could substitute the chocolate chips for butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, cinnamon chips. Or any crazy combination of those you can think of (hello chocolate chip, peanut butter scones - alas, I'm not as crazy as you think!).
I hope your family enjoys these as much as mine does!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

#5Faves: Things Inspiring Me This Week

I've been in need of some inspiration lately in a few different areas of my life. So here is my short list of things that are inspiring me lately:

I'm not as late to this party as I usually am. I have started creating a capsule wardrobe for me and my kids. I started this approach in the Spring when I had to shop for the kids' and my summer clothes and I have to say, it has made my life much easier.

For me, I went with approximately 10 shirts (8 black t-shirts, 1 navy blue t-shirt, and 1 multi-colored loose tank style top), 5 skirts (4 maxi-skirts, 1 knee-length skirt), 5 shorts/capris (2 beige capri pants, 2 jean capri pants, 1 pair plaid shorts), and 4 pair of shoes (1 pair beige flip-flops, 1 pair white flip-flops, 1 pair tennis shoes, 1 pair camouflage ballet flats). This is plenty for me as a stay-at-home mom even though it is way below her recommended number of items. I do also have about 10 tank tops/camisoles that I interchange beneath all the shirts for a pop of color, since you can see that most of my wardrobe is black or beige.

For our son: 10 pair of shorts (4 plaid, 6 solid), 15 shirts (polo style, t-shirts, character shirts), 3 pair of shoes (2 pair of tennis shoes, 1 pair flip-flops).

For the girls: They each have approximately 5 pair of shorts (jeans & cotton), 5 casual play dresses, 3 church dresses, 10 shirts, and 4 pair of shoes (2 sandals, 1 paid of tennis shoes, 1 pair dressy shoes).

This system has really cut down on my laundry, overflowing dresser drawers and general mess in the house. I also find we have less arguing about what they will wear since they can pick almost anything and it still matches. 

The big exception to this is my son's character shirts. Relatives send him character shirts with busy patterns (spider-man mostly) and he loves them so wants to wear them all the time. With plaid shorts. Ummm, no.

What? You too? I thought I was the only one (who needs to declutter their abode). This system seems so doable to me. I actually feel like I could declutter one thing a day from my household. And I feel like I can put a plan in place to get them out of my house, whether by selling, donating or just trashing them. It's just one thing a day.

This site has been putting out some fantastic and challenging devotionals lately. They've stung a bit, but I know that they are pruning me to help me grow. Really, you should check it out and sign up for the daily devotionals.

I have been wanting to change up my own eating habits to get more healthy, fresh food. I saw this TED talk about Weekday Vegetarianism and have been thinking about it for about 2 months. I don't know that I am ready to completely commit to a Monday-Friday veggie diet, but I am slowly moving that direction. I have worked up to 3 days a week vegetarian diet for myself (my kids & husband...well, they are a different story entirely). I am still working on it and I started by eating salads at lunch every day. I vacillate between a hearty coleslaw and more traditional salads.

I'll keep you apprised of how this change pans out. It would be awesome if I dropped a few lbs during this transformation, but I'm not banking on it. Funny how all the changes your body goes through at mid-life make the vain benefits of this type of lifestyle change disappear.

My kids were such good eaters until they stopped being good eaters. Junior gobbled everything we put in front of him until the age of 3 when he started refusing everything but noodles, bread and breadsticks. Alice has decided over the past few months that she will no longer eat anything that is not a hot dog, chocolate or cookie. Thankfully, my sweet LizzieBeth is still eating whatever is offered.

This phase d'opposition is supposed to be short-lived, but Junior, at almost 7yo, is still struggling to eat a more varied diet. 

And this mom is tired of the dinner-time drama.

I read this book recently and found a wealth of great tips for introducing new foods to my family and for getting them to try them and like them. We are working on it. Of course, the French methods and rules are not going to work 100% for my family for a variety of reasons, but all the "rules" are adoptable and adaptable. I am planning a more in depth post about this book and what its implementation looks like at our house soon, so stay tuned for that.

So that's it. #5Faves that are inspiring me lately. I hope you'll click over to visit Jenna today and see what others are sharing for their #5Faves today too!

None of these are affiliate links. Just some sites I've found useful, helpful or inspiring. I receive nothing for passing along their info or from you clicking through to them.

Friday, August 14, 2015

{SQT} Ridiculous or Incredible Moments This Week

So many funny, exasperating and delicious things have happened; it's been a good week.

My 3yo, Alice, informing me that "PENGUINS HAVE BUTTS!"

My 6yo, Junior, telling me "I don't want to be a teenager because that's when all the girls fall in love with you."

My 1yo, Lizzie, pointing at the silverware drawer, crying and hysterically wailing, "FORK! FORK! FORK!" until I gave her the SPOON she so desperately wanted.

Me being caught up on laundry. Including having folded and put it all away. Who am I?

This moment of silence. Really, Junior is spending the day with his Grandpa & cousin. Lizzie is napping and Alice is coloring her new purse quietly beside me.

Reading this. And letting it wash over me. As a con(re)vert, I've never felt particularly close to Mary. I believe in the Assumption of Mary, but never gave it much thought. I just sort of figured, "well, Jesus loved his mom, so why not?" But this explanation makes all the sense in the world.

Additionally, it was a great reminder that my children that have died before birth are still with me. And they will be with me forever.

I made this and I ate this and I regret nothing.

Linking up with Kelly today. You should check out some of the other fabulous bloggers that have linked up there too!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

#5Faves: Favorite Meal Planning Methods

I was talking with my SIL the other day and my nephew asked why she doesn't bake the same things I do. Her answer was so perfect: "Because we all have different skills!" And I couldn't agree more. That lady, my SIL, has some mad skillz that I could never hope to replicate or even come close to mimicking no matter how hard I try (and I have tried...she's just too good). So I stick to the things at which I am good. Cooking. Baking. Menu planning. Trying new recipes. Modifying them to suit our tastes. Taxes.

In honor of something I am good at (and in deference to all the things I am not good at - cleaning, tidying up, basement organization, nursing, fashion, make-up, ahhhh the list could go on for days) here are five different ways I've found to menu or meal plan. These have each worked for me at different points in my family's life. There is no "one right way" to do just have to try different things until something sticks for you and your family.

(I've got a another post on menu planning so give that one a look too. n that post I gave you all permission to change your planning method if it wasn't working for you, so zippity-do-dah-day, I have made some changes to my own planning routine.)

Shop the Sales
Find out what your grocery store has on sale and make your menu based on those items. For example, Kr.oger will sometimes do BOGO on English Shoulder Roasts. If you saw that you could plan on a pot roast for Sunday dinner and French Dip sandwiches later in the week or the following week. If your grocery store runs a special on boneless, skinless chicken breasts (around here $1.99/lb is a decent sale price) you can stock up, freeze them in appropriate quantities for your family's needs, then pick a bunch of your favorite chicken recipes to use over a few weeks.

You could use this method to buy fresh food each week or you could use this method to stock your pantry & freezer then meal plan based on what you have on hand.

Family Choice
This option works well for some families that have members who can't always agree on foods they like. It's a pretty simple concept:  each person gets to pick one meal a week. Kids figure out pretty quickly that if they continuously pick something their siblings hate that their siblings will return the favor. You can also set up parameters for the meals to ensure you aren't eating buttered noodles 4 times a week. You could say (2) chicken meals, (1) beef meal, (2) vegetarian meals, (1) pork/seafood meal, (1) pizza night and let a different kid choose first each week so they all get an opportunity to pick something they like from their favorite category. You could say no eating the same meal more than twice per month to ensure variety. Use your imagination.

Theme Nights
To make your life simpler you can set up theme nights each week. If you always have catechism on Monday afternoons/evenings you could make that your slow cooker day. If soccer games & gymnastics keep you out of the house on Thursday evenings that night becomes hand-held dinner night. Taco Tuesdays can be a theme at your house (I'd broaden it to Mexican/Spanish/Latin American food on Tuesdays so I don't have to be locked in to Tacos each week). Here are three different ideas for setting up Theme Nights to streamline your meal & menu planning:

Recipe Collector
If you are a recipe collector, whether on paper, on Pinterest, in cookbooks or on food blogs the key is keeping them organized and categorized. If you keep them organized and categorized you'll be able to easily sort through them to choose which ones you want to try. Then when you've tried them either keep them or toss them. If you have a recipe you want to try, look at how long it will take to make, check the ingredients (so you know if there are specialty ingredients involved or just your regular pantry items) and plan it for a day when you have the time and energy to do it.

The groupings I keep my recipes sorted into under my Main Dish category are as follows: Slow Cooker, Chicken, Beef, Pork, Turkey, Meatless (including egg, vegan, beans), Pasta, Soup, Salads, Pizza.

I don't keep a category for fish or seafood as I am allergic, and since I prepare 99.9% of all dinners at our home, I don't cook fish or seafood so I have no reason to collect those recipes.

Let Someone Else Do It For You
Seriously. You could totally let someone else meal plan for you. There are several blogs that put up weekly or monthly meal plans and you can easily use one of their plans, swapping things out as needed to suit your family's budget and tastes. There are paid subscriptions where they will send you the plan and recipes each week or month. Many of these will also include a grocery list so you can just print it or download it, add any of your own items, cross off the things you have and head out the door.

Here are a few blogs (besides my own - see my Miam Miam Monday posts) that put up menus. Some of these are easy, family meals and some are more complicated...but there is something out there for everyone, you just have to try them out.

Mix and Match Mama does Meal Planning Mondays
The Recipe Critic does a Weekly Menu Plan
This Silly Girl's Life does a Weekly Meal Plan
The Prudent Homemaker has Seasonal Menu Plans (Winter, Spring, Summer & Fall, plus Holidays) that include breakfast, lunch & dinner. This woman is amazing at sticking to a budget, being thrifty and being a steward of the things her family has and uses. Seriously...check her out.
$5 Dinners is a subscription service that gives you a monthly menu, grocery list, and recipes

How do you menu plan? Do you have a unique way of doing it? I'd enjoy hearing your ideas - inspire me!

Linking up with Jenna at Call Her Happy for this week's edition of #5Faves where she's all about glitter. Which makes me want to be all about glitter. Which I sorta am since we had a Froz.en themed birthday party over the weekend and there is glitter coming off all the dresses all over this house!

These are not affiliate links. Just some sites I've found useful, helpful or inspiring. I receive nothing for passing along their info or from you clicking through to them.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Honestly, It's Honesty That's Stunting My Growth

I was invited to a Blessed Is She Brunch this past weekend and I had a chance to visit with some lovely ladies and just do a little bonding over Catholic #BISSisterhood. It was absolutely delightful.

We all pitched in a dish for an amazing potluck breakfast. There were beautifully printed name tags for us each to wear. Mary was our speaker and was a spit-fire and I just wanted to drive her back to my house for chocolate shakes and be best friends with her forever. And I felt the same way about the ladies sitting at my table too. These were some quality women. Women you want to know, and learn from, and pray with, and laugh with, and eat with, and well, just be when you grow-up.

Mary talked to us about sisterhood and how it all starts with honesty. Jenna recapped her talk nicely here. This honesty can lead to affirmation. And that affirmation can lead to prayer for and with each other.

And I have to tell you, it's the honesty that is stunting the growth of my relationships into real friendships and sisterhood.

It's not that I'm not honest. I am. People who meet me, especially in a business setting, will quickly realize that I am honest and blunt. I will tell you the truth. You ask me about your product and I will give you an honest assessment of its merits and flaws. You ask me about your presentation and I will tell you honestly about the good points, the lost points and the no points you did or didn't make. You bring me an idea or plan and I will SWOT analyze it until you're ready to just plain swat me away.

To quote the Godfather, "It's not personal, it's just business." Because I am not my work and you are not your work, I find it very easy to be honest when it comes to work related stuff. I don't take business criticism personally because, when given properly, it is my idea or work product that is being criticized, not me personally. (I fully understand that some work is more "personal" in nature and some people feel that their work is a direct reflection of who they are - and when working with this personality type, I try really, really hard to adjust my blunt style. That's an entirely different topic for another day).

I'm honest with strangers on Facebook in various groups in which I participate. I share intimate, messy details of my life with people I will likely never meet. And the introvert and perfectionist within me hopes that I never meet them. Or at least if I do meet them that they don't remember the embarrassing details I shared when I thought I would remain just a screen name.

It's the honesty about who I really am in real life to the real people I meet that keeps tripping me up. I don't lie, but I don't share my heart either. I keep people in real life at arms distance and on the other side of my self-built wall. It's my vanity and pride that you might just figure out that I'm not perfect. And enough is enough.

Because I want real friends, who know the real me in real life, if you meet me you are really going to meet me. And we may not be best friends (because not everyone can be best friends), but it won't be because I was too prideful to be honest about who I am.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Miam Miam Monday (Menu Plan) v4

Vacation time 'round these parts ya'll. When we vacation even ye olde mom gets a little this week's plan is a little light on the recipes. I've thrown in our breakfast plan for this week too.

Breakfast: Puff Pancakes
 I'm warning you: these look innocent enough, but they are not health food. And you can probably eat an entire pancake yourself. 

This recipe was really delicious. And I'm not usually one for beef & broccoli, but it was worth eating. Again and again.

Breakfast:  Bagels with cream cheese and fruit
Dinner:  Spaghetti & Meatballs
Straight up using sauce from a jar for this one. I'm not even embarrassed. It is vacation, after all.

Breakfast: Eggs, scrambled with cheese
Dinner:   Leftovers

Breakfast:  Bagels with cream cheese & fruit
Dinner: Snacks & cereal for the kids, pizza for the grown ups (ordered from a restaurant, so fancy!)

Breakfast:  Cereal
Dinner:  Sandwiches (Grilled Cheese) & Cheesy Corn Chowder Soup

Breakfast:  Egg, Sausage & Cheese Casserole
Dinner:  Sirloin steaks

Breakfast:  Waffles & Fruit
Dinner:  Grilled Hamburgers & Hotdogs

Like I said, easy week for me. I plan to get as much of a tan as SPF 50 applied and reapplied liberally will allow. Which, hopefully, is not much of a tan at all.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Kids Uncensored

Well, we received our zoo member magazine and they had an article about their dinosaur exhibit and dinosaurs in general. Our 2yo, Alice, was flipping through the magazine and came across this picture:
She exclaimed, "Deese dinosaurs has butt heads!"

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

#5Faves: Favorite Food Blogs

This week I thought I'd pass along some of the great food blogs I read and follow. I started really getting into food blogs a few years ago and I have a list a mile long of some good ones I check daily. Seriously, daily. Ask my husband.

So in honor of one of my favorite past times and biggest obsessions, here are my #5Faves: Favorite Food Blogs.

This was the first food blog that I started following and trying recipes from consistently. She has some really great ideas for food combinations that are just a lot of fun. Plus, on Saturdays she posts a round-up of a whole bunch of food blog finds she has recently made. One of my very favorite things I ever made from this blog is this amazing Cheesy Corn Chowder Soup.

This is a great food blog for a busy mom. She has great ideas that are fast, easy, use few ingredients, and can be modified in about a million ways to please your family's palette. She also has 100 Bundt Cake recipes and is almost through her 100 Bar recipes. I use many of her recipes each month, but her Slightly Sweet Sloppy Joes are a favorite!

This one is just so much fun. She makes everything from simple mozzarella sticks to more complicated fare. And it's all so tasty. I'm making these fancy waffles for Christmas morning this year to go along with our more traditional holiday breakfast feast. I can't wait.

As the title suggests, this is food from a dad. His wife is a big time food blogger and he decided to jump into the fray with his own blog not too long ago and I have to say...his stuff is good! He likes to waffle stuff. And make popsicles. And make pizzas. I've made lots of his recipes and I've loved them all.


This one is, at least in my mind, a fantasy food blog. Her beautiful recipes have some complex flavor combinations that I just don't think I could get my family to eat. But look at the stuff she makes. Just look at this. And this. I really think if I died and went to heaven and I would be standing in her kitchen. These Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Brownies are crazy good and I have made them too many times since she first published this recipe.

Thanks to our hostess, Jenna, for letting us all play along with her #5Faves each week. Head over to her blog to see what everyone else is crushing hard on these days.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Miam Miam Monday (Menu Plan) v3

This week's menu reflects me trying to add in more vegetarian options for my family. Basically, I'd prefer to eat a more vegetarian diet, both my darling husband and I could stand to lose some weight and I feel like it saves us some money too.

Typically my children are pretty good eaters, but my 2 almost 3 year old has recently decided that she is not going to eat anymore. Anything. Besides donuts, cookies, marshmallows and M&Ms.

That child has no reserves to get her through this self-imposed hunger strike, so I am turning to the power of the French to reign in her phase d'opposition and help her get back on track with enjoying some delicious foods that are also good for her growing little body.

Anyhow, here's this week's plan:


This pasta is so delicious and easy to make. I feel like it's good for all year long because it isn't too heavy in the summer-time, but is comfort-foody enough to stand up to a cold winter's day. I really don't change anything in this recipe except that I use the entire 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water to make the "sauce" and I like to add more cheese than is called for. I've found that it melts quickly to form the sauce, but I add some additional Gorgonzola when I bring it to the table so I get a few hunks of cheese on my plate.
My kids might be a bit strange, but they love soft cheeses and anything in the blue cheese or feta cheese families.

Stuffed Rolled Chicken with Cottage Cheese Bread
 When I first saw this recipe, I put it on my list of must-eats. It was delicious! I'll tell you honestly that the stuffing is way more than what is needed for just 4 measly chicken breasts though. I made 6 chicken breasts and had lots left over. The stuffing would also taste great as stuffed shells. I'm just sayin'.

I had some leftover cottage cheese that was going to go bad soon. I don't want to waste any food so I started looking for a recipe I could use the cottage cheese in that wasn't lasagna or quiche. I came across several cottage cheese bread recipes so I thought I'd give it a shot. I found one that was meant for a bread making machine and tweaked it a bit and made it without a bread machine. It was perfect for sandwiches and french toast. We also ate it with this meal with some butter. I liked sneaking in a bit of extra protein for my kids without them noticing.

Leftover Night
Time to clean out the fridge. Seriously. So many leftovers.

Pancake Muffins and Eggs Over Easy
I like to call these little muffins "Manna from heaven" because they are just the yummiest. And there are always leftovers so breakfast the next morning is a snap. These little muffins with eggs are a great easy dinner. The kids prefer scrambled eggs, but us grown-ups like our eggs over easy or over medium.

What a great vegetarian dish for a Friday! This one comes together in no time and is perfect for using up leftover rice. I pair it with a fruit salad and this amazing Grated Carrot Salad which is a French specialty. I can understand why the French love this salad; it is so fresh and perfect.

Grilled Hot Dogs & Roasted Sweet Potato Salad
Just hot dogs on the grill. With potato salad. But not just any potato salad. This stunner is made with roasted sweet potatoes. It's even better the next day when the flavors meld together a bit. Next time I make it I'm going to add some avocado. You can almost never go wrong by adding avocado. And maybe some bacon sprinkled over the top. Because bacon.

Sunday is my usual day off from cooking. I'll be taking a break and chillin' at my parents' house.

*NOTE: These are NOT affiliate links. I don't benefit financially or in any other way by linking to any of these blogs. is my personal food blog where I try to post my recipes from time to time. All opinions are my own.