Asian Shrimp Salad – An easy summer salad

Do you like light, summer salads?  If you do, then look no further than this Asian Shrimp Salad!  Bonus points for this being a super easy recipe!

Asian Shrimp Salad

Long time readers won’t be surprised to find out that this Asian Shrimp Salad recipe originated from one of our Plated.com boxes.  My husband and I love Plated to the point where even on the weeks that we don’t get a box, at least a few of the meals I make are originally Plated meals.

This one is a particular favorite since it takes our love of Asian flavors and mixes it with a healthy salad and protein.  I also like this recipe due to that fact that it can be made on the grill which is my favorite way to cook in the summer.  Oh yeah, it also has fresh mint which I absolutely love!  Seriously, you can’t go wrong with this recipe!

Unless you already have skewers (which I don’t know how many of us do) I would recommend a grill mat (affiliate link) as an easy way to make these on the grill.  If you don’t like to grill or don’t have a grill, these are just as easy to make on the stove top.  Either the grill or the stovetop use medium high heat with the shrimp being on just long enough to turn opaque.  Usually a couple of minutes on each side.

One other bit of advice, keep in mind that red onion has a strong flavor.  I tend to like to keep my red onion to a minimum so I actually add the onion after I plate it so that I can control how much I add to each of our plates.

I hope you that your family enjoys this as much as Mike and I do!

Weekly Menu

 

Weekly Menu Plan

 

Welcome to a new week!  I guess it comes whether we are ready or not 🙂  The Northern Lights were suppose to be visible from Wisconsin last night and I fell asleep and missed them!  I’ve only seen them once and I was hoping for another glimpse last night.  Bummer!

This past weekend we celebrated Mike’s birthday, it was a wonderful day.  We spent the day out on the lake kayaking with our good friends (my arms are about to fall off!) and then wrapped up the evening with a cook out with the kids (they bought steaks and corn for Mike’s birthday present) ending with a fun game of Yahtzee.  Now that the kids are older, we don’t quite get those family dinners as much so it was so nice to spend the night relaxing and having a good time with them.

Coming up, this should be a fairly quiet week.  My parents are taking the kids and I for a nice dinner on Wednesday which should be fun.  I’m also thinking about running up to Door County on Friday (depending upon the weather) for the Lavender Festival on Washington Island.  I was up there last weekend with Belle and my parents but I thought it would be nice to run up there again for the festival.  There’s also a smooth rock beach that I thought would be interesting to check out.

Steaks on the Grill – a family favorite!

 

 

Steaks on the grill is a staple in our household.  We do a lot of grilling at our house and steak is one of our go-to meals.  For a long time I was banned from the grill as that was my husband’s territory.  However, when he started working his funky hours I needed to get handle on how to properly grill.

 

Steaks on the grill

When I first took over grilling, I was a bit apprehensive.  If you think about it, it was a bit crazy.  After all, I’ve been cooking for years and how hare could steaks on the grill be!  Brats and hamburgers I learned were pretty simple.  Steaks, those were still a little overwhelming until I got the hang of it.

Steak can get a little pricey and if I wanted to add it into our regular summer rotation, I needed to find a way to do so economically.  Our go to steak is a New York Strip.  Don’t ask me why, we just love them.  There’s a small, local gourmet grocery store with the BEST New York Strips where we can spend about $20/lb.  They are delicious but, not quite in our weekly budget.  Our regular grocery store sells prime New York Strips (usually grass fed but not always) for about $15/lb.  That’s definitely a better price but I tend to look for the smallest steaks which doesn’t make my husband a happy boy.

Enter the whole beef loin.  Our grocery store sells end pieces of a choice whole beef loin for $5/lb.  Yep, you read that right, $5/lb.  As you can guess, at that price there’s a little bit of work to be done!  When I first noticed these loins earlier this year I went ahead and bought it knowing I’d be able to cut it up but not quite sure how it would work.  After doing a bit of online research, I came across this tutorial that helped me cut up the loin into New York Strip steaks.  All I can say is be careful, at times it was a bit like wrestling a greased pig but I did get the hang of it after a while, without losing any fingers!  The steaks turned out delicious and inexpensive enough for us to add it into our weekly menu.  Success!

You know you’ve been successful when the next day your husband says to you “I can’t believe how good those steaks were that you cooked yesterday.  I was a little worried but they were really good!”

Spa Water – How I drink almost 100 oz of water a day

 

At the beginning of the year, I declared this year to be “The Year of Me”.  The year when I would start feeling good and taking care of myself.  A full year dedicated to me.  Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?  Reality is that it has been a lot of work.  However, feeling better has been wonderful and makes me push to continue to feel even better.  One of the items that is helping me feel better?  Spa Water.

 

Spa Water

One of the items on my task list was to drink more water, which has been a problem for me.  I have a confession to make, I hate water.  Even as a baby and small child, my mom couldn’t get me to drink water.  Although as an adult I would sometimes stomach bottled water, drinking water straight from the tap is something that I just couldn’t (and still can’t) do.  Needless to say, not liking water has made it difficult for me as an adult to break some of my bad habits (namely sugared drinks) and actually drink the amount of water I should be drinking.

One type of water that I do like is flavored water.   Not the kind that you buy in a bottle, the kind you get in a nice hotel.  You know, you walk into the lobby from a long day of travel and they have a large pitcher of ice cold, flavored water there for you.  Ah, that always makes my day!  Knowing how much I like the flavored hotel water, I decided to add my own pitcher of “spa water” into my daily routine so that I could enjoy what I was drinking instead of torturing myself and trying to endure water.  Let’s face it, if you aren’t liking what you’re drinking you aren’t going to be able to keep it up.

Weekly Menu

 

Weekly Menu Plan

Welcome to a new week!  Hopefully everyone got to spend some time celebrating our nations birthday last week with friends and family.  Overall my week was low-key until this weekend.  Saturday I spent the day in Door County with Belle and my parents.  Yesterday we were at a graduation party all day.  Good times – but I need a day to recuperate!

I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but every week during the summer we tend to have steaks on the grill.  Might seem a bit excessive, but we love steak!  I wanted to share with you my grocery secret to buy steaks (relatively) inexpensive so that we can afford to treat ourselves every week.

Our go to steak is a New York Strip.  Don’t ask me why, we just love them.  There’s a small, local gourmet grocery store with the BEST New York Strips where we can spend about $20/lb.  They are delicious but, not quite in our weekly budget.  Our regular grocery store sells prime New York Strips (usually grass fed but not always) for about $15/lb.  That’s definitely a better price but I tend to look for the smallest steaks which doesn’t make Mike a happy boy.

Enter the whole beef loin.  Our grocery store sells end pieces of a choice whole beef loin for $5/lb.  Yep, you read that right, $5/lb.  Now, at that price there’s a little bit of work to be done!  When I first noticed these loins earlier this year I went ahead and bought it knowing I’d be able to cut it up but not quite sure how it would work.  After doing a bit of online research, I came across this tutorial that helped me cut up the loin into New York Strip steaks.  All I can say is be careful, at times it was a bit like wrestling a greased pig but I did get the hang of it after a while.  The steaks turned out delicious and inexpensive enough for us to add it into our weekly menu.  Success!

This week I also decided to go ahead and get a Plated.com box.  I like doing that because 1) we eat healthier and 2) it really allows me not to think!  Some weeks the thought of thinking about what to put on the table is a bit overwhelming!  Because I buy so much from Plated, I get a number of boxes for free weeks (a completely free week of Plated) to give away.  I get no benefit from them other than sharing my love for a great product.  If you’d like to try a week of Plated for free (all I ask is that if you request a link you actually use the box, it irritates me when I give a link that isn’t used because then someone else doesn’t get to try it) drop me a note here.  I’ll email you over a link so that you can try Plated for FREE!  How great is that?

Shall we get on to this week’s menu?

Weekly Menu

Weekly Menu Plan

Happy 4th of July! Hopefully everyone is able to spend some time with family.  I have a weird week this week in terms of time off.  Mike had to work this weekend but he was able to take the 4th off along with his normal days off of Wednesday and Thursday.  I decided to work Monday and take Wednesday off instead so that I could spend some time with Mike.  Now that’s it’s Monday morning, I  am questioning the wisdom of that decision 🙂

Last week was a really long, exhausting week.  I traveled Monday and Tuesday, not getting in until late each night (Monday was after 10:30 before we got into our hotel and I didn’t get home from the trip until 9:30.)  Wednesday I had dinner out with The Chicks so by Thursday I was totally exhausted and pretty much climbed into my pajamas as soon I got home.  As you can imagine, my cooking plan went right out the window!  Ugh – the Wonder Woman complex!

Although I did manage to get a number of meals cooked last week, I did have two of the Plated.com meals left that I’ve carried over to this week.  We had the bison burgers yesterday and will have the buffalo chicken sliders tonight.  Or maybe tomorrow….. One thing I have decided is that on weeks when I get my Plated box, I’m going to need to move it to a Thursday deliver instead of Tuesday. We tend to do a better job during the summer of making the meals for lunch before Mike goes to work instead of dinner.

Tonys Pasta Shop and Trattoria Italian Cuisine

Last week’s trip was so quick that I didn’t get to see any part of the area, however we did have lunch at a neat place that I wanted to share with you.  We were in Chattanooga (first time in the city) and the people we were visiting took us to the Bluff View Art District for lunch.  What a neat area!  It’s about a block and a half that is filled with restaurants, an art gallery, a bed and breakfast and other shopping venues.  We ate lunch at Tony’s which was fabulous.  If you are in the Chattanooga area and are looking for a place to eat I’d highly recommend checking the area out.  The gardens are beautiful and a great way to spend an hour or two.

Weekly Menu

Weekly Menu Plan

Well, that was a quick summer!  Mike and I enjoyed a couple of days of warmth while we were off work and then bam!  Fall was here 🙂  Oh well, although it was a bit chilly the rain has let up so I can’t complain and it was nice have a couple of days off.  Hopefully the warm weather will return and we will have an actual summer before fall really does arrive.

As you know, I’m always looking to save a buck.  With that in mind, I’ve had our cable bill on my radar for a long time.  It jumped up significantly last fall but with my mom being so ill I just couldn’t do anything about it.  I finally got around to call the incumbent cable company only to be told that I didn’t realize that my $180 a month for no frills was a steal.  A steal they say!  I guess they must think I’m an idiot because I’ve done my homework and I’m well aware that I was overpaying quite a bit for my cable.  Although I called twice, they weren’t interested in keeping my business.  So, after 27 years with Time Warner (now Spectrum) we made the leap to a new cable company.  I’d love to ditch cable all together but Mike has a few channels he just has to have!  We’ll see if the $65 a month I’m saving is worth it.

While I was in the money saving mood, I also stopped in at our cell phone company and was able to save another $65 by changing our plans.  In a couple of months another $40 will drop off once two of our phones are paid for.  Between both of them, I saved over $120.  Not to bad for a couple of hours of work!

I shared last week how I was making this year the “Year of Me” and all the steps I have been taking.  I’ve been doing well with my eating for breakfast and lunch but my evening meals have been hit or miss.  We’ve been skipping our Plated.com box and it’s had a negative impact on our healthy eating.  With that in mind, I went ahead and ordered a box for the week.  Eating well versus easy is definitely a struggle for me.  While I like to go easy in the summer, healthy is more important at this stage in my life.

This week I’m also traveling two days so Mike and Belle will be having a couple fend for themselves nights.

2017 – The Year of Me (otherwise known as the year I make my health a priority)

Today I want to get a little more persona and share why I decided to make my health a priority.  It’s not always easy for me to open up about deeply personal issues, especially when I feel like it highlights a weakness or a failure,  but I feel it’s time to share some of what’s been going on in my life.  For me, part of the Wonder Woman complex, trying to be all things to all people, has resulted in me not taking care of myself the way that I should.  For probably the last 27 years, I’ve been last on the priority list.  The kids, Mike, my job, the list of things that I prioritized before myself was endless. Putting myself last for so many years resulted in me being completely wore out and \never feeling good.  Exhaustion, migraines, heartburn and generally feel ill followed me from day to day.  Every.  Single. Day.

Make my health a priority

The picture above is one from our last vacation and when I look at it I see someone who is completely wore out.  I wasn’t feeling well, I was exhausted and quite frankly, a shell of the person I want to be.  When I look at it,  I see a person who needed to make some serious changes in her life to start living the life she wants.  The picture actually makes me a little sad when I look at it because it reminds me of how awful I felt.

Maybe by sharing my story,  what’s been going on and what I’ve been doing it will help someone who is feeling the same way.

2016 – a life changing year for me

Last year was a pretty tough year for my family.  In April 2016 my mom had a surgery that went horribly wrong.  From almost the beginning, her recovery went very poorly.  She was unable to keep food or liquid down, she was exhausted and felt terrible all the time. The surgeon who did the surgery at one point suggested it was in her head and maybe she needed to be committed to a psychiatric hospital.  He unknowingly released the Kraken (that would be me) with that statement.  Knowing my mother, we knew it wasn’t in her head and to hear a doctor say that, angered me immensely.  We were determined to get to the bottom of the issue and get it resolved.  Over the course of 5 months, many hospital stays, weight loss of over 100 lbs and generally getting to the point where we didn’t think she would survive, she was diagnosed with a surgical complication that her original surgeon assured me wasn’t the case when I asked him at the very beginning of the ordeal if that could be the problem.

The only way to fix the issue was to perform another major surgery but she was to weak for them to do so.  To get her well enough for the surgery, she needed to go into a nursing home where she could receive nutrition through her PICC line (she was unable to keep food or liquids down).  The type of nutrition she was receiving had a lot of risks so the next four months were filled with a lot of drama.  Two staph infections, an Ecoli infection that sent her into septic shock and a blood clot.  Needless to say, 2016 was an incredibly stressful and scary year for my family.

The good news is that there is a happy ending.  Between Christmas and New Year my mom was well enough to have the corrective surgery and she’s made (almost) a full recovery.  Six months later she’s doing fabulous, my dad was finally able to retire (he was going to retire last year but couldn’t because they didn’t want to change insurance during my mom’s illness) and they’re planning a trip to Alaska next year to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

Watching my mom go through this struggle and seeing the affect that lack of nutrition had on her made me realize that I needed to make myself a top priority.  By not making myself a priority all these years, I found that it was even harder to step in and be the support I needed to be when a family member was going through a crisis.  To live the life I wanted and to be strong for those who need me, I knew that I needed to make some significant changes in my life and make my health a priority

Weekly Menu

Weekly Menu Plan

It was a scorcher this past weekend in Wisconsin.  Although I don’t like the air conditioner on (Wisconsin summers are to short to have the house closed up), I welcomed the fact that we could turn it on and get some relief from the heat.

Yesterday we had a party to celebrate my dad’s retirement.  He had planned on retiring last year but with my mom being so sick, he needed to keep working so that their insurance wasn’t disrupted.  Now that she’s all better, he’s finally able to retire and rumor is, he’s loving it!  Although quite warm, it was a beautiful day in spite of the forecast and we enjoyed being together with our extended family.  I thought I’d share a few pictures from the day

Fun was had by all ages.  We had bubbles and hula hoops for everyone to play with

Bubble Blowing

Mom playing with bubbles

Michael manned the grill for us

Michael GrillingThere was a ton of food

Chicken Shishkabobs

Hamburgers on the Grill

Brats on the Grill

Do you know how you know you’re from Wisconsin?  There’s always brats!

Plenty of desserts

Chocolate Cupcake

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Tomato and Black Bean Salad

Oh yeah, we threw in some healthy food too.  This is my mom’s Tomato and Black Bean Salad

me and my dad

So – Happy Retirement pop!  I hope it’s long and filled with much happiness and joy!

After such an exciting weekend, I’ll be laying relatively low this week.  As of now, I don’t have a lot of plans so I’m going to just try to spend some time on my patio in the evening and relax.

I did accidently have a box of Plated sent to me so this week’s menu is a bit more amped up than the last couple of weeks where we pretty much had only brats and hamburgers.

 

Weekly Menu

Fontina-Stuffed Chicken

Fontina Stuffed Chicken

Lamb Kebabs

Lamb Kebobs

Persian Chicken

Persian Chicken

Steak on the Grill

Steaks on the Grill

Plus the cook-out and my parents and I’ll throw brats and hamburgers on the grill as well one night.

That’s it for me, what are you serving this week?

I’ll be linking up at I’m an Organizing Junkie.

 

Weekly Menu

Weekly Menu Plan

Welcome to another week! For being a short week, last week seemed so long….  You’ll notice last week I didn’t do a menu plan; I even debated not doing one for this week.  Here’s the thing, sometimes I feel like a fraud.  Life gets busy and my menu plan is kind of sad.  But it’s during those times when I think it’s even more important to share what I’m doing so that others who may be in the same boat know they aren’t alone and we can maybe glean some ideas from each other.

My summer menus typically tend to be easier than my winter menus. Grilling outside is something I love to do.  Days are longer and I want to take advantage of the sunshine after being locked up inside all day.  Life tends to get a bit busier too with more things going on than in the winter months.

With that being said, you can bet that the majority of my menu includes brats, hamburgers, brat patties and chicken. Not very exciting.  Or, to be honest, healthy.  However, I do have a few things up my sleeve that are super easy and add a bit of healthy stuff to the table.

Here are a few tips for making dinner a bit healthier in addition to easy.

  1. Take advantage of the supermarket salad bar/deli. Our local grocery store has a kick butt deli with roasted asparagus, tomato salads and couscous in addition to the less healthy potato salads. I’ve also been known to make a big salad or two from the salad bar to serve the family along with some cold chicken.
  2. A big bucket of lettuce is your friend. We have a lot of salads at our house. While I like to keep my salad separate from my meat (most of the time) Mike usually piles meat on top of his salad. I usually buy a big box of lettuce, cherry tomatoes and any other goodies I like in our salads.
  3. Frozen vegetables are a great go to. Although I love fresh veggies, sometimes we just have to keep it simple. I always keep bags of frozen veggies in the freezer that I can whip out and stick in the microwave while I have the grill going.
  4. Think outside of the box when it comes to grilling. In addition to meats, we like to use our grill for other things like pizza.