Life has been a little crazy the last week. Crazy and a little tough. As you may have noticed, I didn’t get a chance to post a menu last week. Quite frankly, it wouldn’t have mattered even if I did because my menu plan has pretty much been going out the window the last couple of weeks.
You want to know something even crazier? I didn’t do my formal menu plan and shopping list this week. I know – crazy, isn’t it? I’m a true believer that having a menu plan and a shopping list allows you to save money and keep things a bit saner around the household. Unfortunately, this week we are just winging it. Sort of.
Now that summer is pretty much here (although it’s a cold dreary day here in Wisconsin), it’s time to bring out our grilling menu. For Mother’s Day I got a brand new grill. We grill a lot here so I typically need to replace our grill every 3 – 4 years, if we’re lucky 🙂 My summer meals tend to be a lot simpler which makes me happy as summer is so short I want to enjoy as much of it as I can.
Another reason I’m trying to keep it simpler is that this week I start an exercise program with a trainer and small group at work. I may not talk about it much, but I despise working out! I mean, I think I’d rather go head to head with a snake than do a sit-up. Okay, that may be a bit of a stretch but I just really don’t like working out. However, earlier this year I declared 2017 the “Year of Me” so establishing some kind of work out routine is a must as I make this journey to a healthier me.
You guys, I’m pretty proud of the strides I’ve made health wise. Although I’ve got a long ways to go, I’ve seen a decrease in my amount of migraines, my energy level has increased and I’ve cut out a couple of bad habits I’ve struggled to break over the last few years. Achieving this hasn’t been super easy but I’ve been taking it slow and focusing on why I’m doing it. Namely feeling good and having lots of energy versus doing it to lose weight. One of these days I’ll get around to sharing with you what changes I’ve been making and the effect it has had.
Before I get to the menu I thought I’d share one last thing with you. For the last few weeks I’ve been seeing this at the grocery store with no idea what it was. Then, last night as I was shopping I noticed an Indian family picking one up and putting it in their cart. They most likely thought I was a nut, but I hightailed it over to them and asked what it was. Turns out it’s a Jackfruit. According to the woman, this one is for cooking (she uses it in curry dishes like you would a vegetable) but she said that there are sweet ones out there too that are eaten like a fruit. One of these days I’m going to pick one up and try it myself. Just not this week 🙂
So, after 8 weeks off work, I started back last week. Wow – all I can say is working is exhausting! You know that “simple” menu plan I put together? #menuplanfail. I would have to say that my Wonder Woman mentality was definitely showing it’s ugly head. Although I “thought” I had it all under control I certainly didn’t.
The week started off with two unexpected events. Monday we had some out of town family visiting (it was a last minute decision) so I expectantly spent the evening with them (not complaining – it was just a long day for my first day back.) I also found out on Monday that a supplier was coming in on Tuesday and wanted to go out for dinner. Again, not complaining since it’s a supplier whose company I enjoy and he took us to a super swanky restaurant. Once again, it was a really long day.
After Monday and Tuesday, I ended up going to bed at 6 or 7 the rest of the week. Yep, I certainly lead the exciting life! By Friday I was so tired I left work at 3:30 because I just couldn’t do any more.
Do you want to take a guess on how many meals I ended up making? Two. That’s it. The rest of the nights we either picked something up or had left overs/fend for yourself. Oh well, stuff happens and it certainly made for easier menu planning for this week 🙂
Saturday I attended a baby shower, taking my camera so that I could shoot some pictures. I’ll also be doing a gender reveal, maternity shoot and newborn shoot for the new mother so I thought it would be fun to capture the baby shower as well. It was so nice spending the afternoon with the ladies in my family.
This week I’m hoping will be a little less exhausting and I’ll be able to actually make everything on my menu plan. As of right now, I only have one evening activity planned and I took it easy on Sunday so I’m crossing my fingers that this week will be easier.
It’s a well known fact that we are chicken lovers around here and this Chicken Caprese is one of our absolute favorites! We received this recipe in one of our Plated.com boxes last year and it immediately made it into our weekly menu planner.
When I’m planning our menu, I need at least one meal that keeps well and travels well for Mike to take to work. This Chicken Caprese recipe does just that. I usually add in a couple more chicken breasts (the cheese mixture usually makes more than the four breasts the recipe calls for) so that Mike has left overs for a couple of days. Although I originally serve this with a salad, for leftovers Mike likes to put it on a onion bagel.
If I can offer one bit of advice, it would be to splurge on some high quality Parmesan cheese. For years, my go to was the old stand-by in the green shaker but oh my goodness, there is nothing like a high quality Parmesan cheese to amp up the taste.
When you are cooking this on the stovetop, be sure that the pan is hot, but not to hot. I usually put the heat on about a 6 – 6.5 so that it gets a golden brown without burning. Don’t be afraid to turn the chicken multiple times if you need to, that helps me not to burn it! If you need to, add more olive oil to help the chicken cook evenly.
Also, while pounding the chicken out is a bit of a pain, it helps the chicken to cook evenly and acts as a tenderizer. It is definitely worth taking the time to do it. It you’re like me and don’t have a meat mallet, just pull the heaviest kitchen utensil you have out. Trust me, that will work too!
I hope your family enjoys this meal as much as mine does!
Well, my six weeks are up. This is the week that I go back to work. Fortunately my recuperation went well I’m hopeful that I won’t be to exhausted when I get home from work!
To help ease myself into the transition I’ve made sure that the house is clean, laundry is done (thanks to Mike!) and that I have my clothes ready for the week. I’ve also kept our menu this week fairly easy and have a box coming from Plated.com
Last week was pretty quiet with not a lot getting done around the house. I did spend some time taking pictures and went out a few times with friends (my last hoorah!) but I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get more done. I’m going to blame my allergies (I had a headache all week), my finding a new author that I LOVE and my desire to take it easy knowing that I was going back to work for my inability to finish my storage room. Overall I did get a lot accomplished over my time off so I can’t complain to much.
This week is going to be pretty quiet. Given that I’m expecting to be exhausted, I haven’t made any plans to go out this week. I’ll be pretty pleased with myself if I can continue my No McDonald’s streak (8 weeks) and my No Caffeine or Sugared Beverages streak (6 weeks) as well as get out and walk a bit at lunch. I’ve been doing really well with my water intact so I want to continue that as well.
We have our son Michael to than for our love affair with this Manchego and Fig Jam Burger. He, along with his girlfriend, bought a copy of Bob’s Burgers Burger Book (affiliate link)and shared this recipe with us. They have been having a lot of fun with trying all the different recipes in the book. It only took us making the Manchego and Fig Jam Burger once and we were hooked!
Before you start looking for the ingredients to make this burger, I do need to warn you that it tends to be a tad bit expensive. Manchego cheese at our grocery store runs about $20/lb. I usually look for the smallest block of cheese which I can normally pick up for $5 – 7. Depending upon how many burgers we make, this will allow us to have these burgers 1 or 2 times. Fig jam can be expensive as well.
I do have to admit, not all fig jam is created equal so be careful with what you buy There has been fig jam that I bought and needed to get rid of because I just didn’t like the taste. Given that it’s a bit expensive I now stick with the tried and true. I personally LOVE Davina’s Orange Fig Spread (affiliate link) which I find at Festival Foods by the gourmet cheeses. In the store I am usually able to get it for about $6 which is cheaper than I found it on Amazon.
To make this recipe even easier, I like to buy pre-formed hamburger patties that I can pull out of the freezer and cook as needed. I usually cook a few more burgers than needed so that Mike and Belle have left-overs to eat for lunch.
Boy oh boy, did I blow it last week! I didn’t realize until AFTER I made my menu plan and went grocery shopping that I had a box from Plated.com coming. Ugh! Talk about a ton of food in my fridge.
The real problem was that I had pulled most of the menu from meat that was in the freezer and had already thawed the meat in the freezer. Yeah, no refreezing for me. Fortunately we made it work by eating at home when we weren’t planning to plus browning the beef I was going to use for the sliders and sticking that back in the freezer for tacos at some point.
The good side of getting my Plated.com box was we absolutely LOVED the chicken stir-fry that was in it. I held it over to this week’s menu since I wasn’t able to make it until Sunday but it’s definitely a keeper and will be going into my Menu Planning Book as a regular addition.
Do you want to try a week of Plated.com for free? The box is 100% free but you will need to sign up with a credit card, just be sure to cancel or put on hold future boxes so that you don’t get charged for anything else unless you want to. The only thing I ask is that if you ask for a free box you actually use it. I’ve had a number of people request a box and not use the code which kind of irks me since that box can’t then be used by someone else. Drop me a note here if you’d like a code sent to you.
I’m down to my last week of leave and will be reporting back to work on Monday. I have absolutely loved being off and got so much done but it will be nice to get back into my regular routine. Although, if there was any way I could stay home I would definitely be willing to develop a new routine 🙂
This weekend was beautiful here in Wisconsin. I sat outside quite a bit and we even enjoyed a cook-out yesterday with friends. The bummer is I’ve had three migraines within the past week. Since I’ve had only one since my surgery, I’m guessing that it’s the pollen in the air causing some issues. None of my other allergy symptoms have started (maybe I won’t have any of those this year) but poor Michael is suffering and these migraines are being caused by something.
I mentioned last week that I was looking forward to David Baldacci’s latest book, The Fix (affiliate link). It was worth the wait! I love David Baldacci’s Amos Decker character, of course I’m going to have to wait quite a bit for a new book. Fortunately I found a book by Brad Meltzer (affiliate link) that was released last year that I somehow missed so I have another new book that I’m reading this week. Yay!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter! We had a very nice day, the weather was absolutely beautiful and we sat outside quite a bit. My mother-in-law decided to shake things up this year with a brunch which turned out well and everyone enjoyed. At my mom’s we still did the traditional dinner. Given that we have two dinners, it was nice to have two very different meals.
My contribution to the brunch was a Paula Deen Baked French Toast Casserole. It was delicious! Consensus from everyone (at least those who ate it) was that it’s a keeper. I did make a bit of a mistake with the praline. I put everything in the food processor and ended up with “frosting” instead of crumbles. It wasn’t a huge deal (still tasted good) but my advice would be to hand mix it.
During my time off work, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. I splurged and bought the Kindle Unlimited at Amazon. Normally I don’t read enough to make it worth my money but given how many books I’ve gone through it more than paid for itself. Tomorrow the new Amos Decker (affiliate link) book comes out and I’m beside myself with excitement! David Baldacci is one of my favorite authors and his Amos Decker series is really good.
The menu this week was built around meat that I had in the freezer and items from my pantry. By planning around items I had on hand I was able to cut our grocery bill by 30%. If only I could do this every week 🙂 However, even if once a month I could save a significant portion of my grocery bill I’d be pretty happy.
DIY napkin rings are an inexpensive way to add a little bit of class to dinner. Back when the kids were home and I was trying to make dinner an “event”, one of the things that I did was to make sure that we were using cloth napkins. I know, in this day and age of throw away stuff, cloth napkins seem to be weird. But, I gotta tell you, I really like using them. They lend a bit of elegance to a casual meal and they feel so much better than paper napkins.
Alas, I do also have to admit that since it’s usually just Mike and I eating we tend to have dinner at the kitchen counter and I usually grab some paper towels as napkins. However, I still like to pull out the cloth napkins on occasion and when I do, I’m ready with some kick butt napkin rings!
Just so you don’t think I’m super fancy, I do have to admit that most of the time my cloth napkins are not ironed. However, what kind of post would this be if I showed you a picture with a wrinkled napkin thrown haphazardly on the plate?
Napkin rings can get pretty expensive. A few years ago I bought some new ones at Christmas time that were originally about $8 per ring. Due to the fact that is was Christmas Eve (yeah – I was a little behind) I got them on clearance so I think I paid about $2 per ring. Since I like to keep a variety of different rings on hand to match my different napkins, I decided to make some myself but I wasn’t quite sure where to start.
One day while I was wandering around Hobby Lobby (if I ever go missing you may want to start looking there), I stumbled upon these flower picks that I fell in love with. Bonus points for the fact that they matched my favorite napkins! Full price these picks were running about $2.99 (not an affiliate link). Since Hobby Lobby runs quite a few sales I’m sure they could be picked up for half price if you were diligent in your sale search. Just make sure your flower picks have a bendable stem. Of course, if you like thrift shopping you can probably find flower picks for your diy napkin rings even cheaper!
What a beautiful weekend! Yesterday a friend came over and we sat outside all afternoon. Heaven! I wish we could say spring has arrived but I’m sure we’ll be getting more cold weather before it makes its final appearance.
Only three more weeks before I need to go back to work. I really thought I’d get more writing done, I’ve pretty much done very little. On the plus side, I’ve been killing my to-do list. My house is going to be so organized when I go back! It feels so good to get these small organizing projects done.
The plan for this week is to try and wrap up the main floor projects so that I can start on the “beast” that I call the storage room. A few years ago I organized it, but just like with everything else it tends to get out of control. Right now it is amazing how out of control it is. I don’t know that I’ll be able to get it complete before my leave is over but I’d at least like to make a good dent.
I’m feeling pretty good overall, just continue to get tired. I’ve learned that I have about 3 – 4 hours in me before I wilt and need to call it quits. Knowing that helps me plan my days, especially when I have something I need to do.
Greetings! I don’t know about you, but after this past Saturday when it was sunny and 60 degrees, I’m ready for summer!
Another week down on my extended leave from work. A woman can get used to this not working thing 🙂 Although I still don’t have tons of stamina and have restrictions on how much I can lift and certain things I can do, I have been killing it on the organizational front!
Before my leave I made a list of about 20 organizational tasks or projects I wanted to keep before I went back to work. I’m happy to say that I have about 5 – 6 of them complete! It’s been quite a while since the house has gotten this thorough of a purging and organizing, I must say it feels pretty good. I’m taking pictures and will share some of my projects with you.
We haven’t started back up our Plated.com shipments yet, but to break through our mini food rut I went back and am making some of my favorites from the past couple of years. I have a great method that has been working well for us in regards to how I plan out our menus. I’ll share that with you in the upcoming weeks.
One more thing you may or may not noticed, I’m going through my recipes and updating them to including a print feature. It will take a while to get them through all so please be patient. I’d love to hear if this is a feature you like.