Weekly Menu – W/O 2/7/2016

weekly menu planning

“Okay, campers, rise and shine…Don’t forget your booties because it’s cold out there today.”

Anybody remember that line?  I thought it was appropriate given that Groundhog’s Day was last week.  Woo Hoo!  According to Phil, winter’s over and spring is on its way!  Hopefully Mother Nature was paying attention when Phil gave his proclamation.

Last week I was a bit of a slug, very tired and not feeling good a couple of the nights.  Fortunately I did quite a bit of cooking last Sunday because I ended up doing very little cooking during the week.  Poor Mike did NOT get his frittatas and we had the Steak Gyros for lunch yesterday because I never got around to them.

Last night Belle and I had our annual dinner and a show that my sister-in-law and I buy as Christmas presents for the girls in the family.  Unfortunately when we bought the tickets we didn’t realize that it was Super Bowl weekend, that Mike would have the weekend off or that I would be leaving early for a trip the next day.  Oh well, we still enjoyed ourselves!

This week I’ll be in Georgia on business.  I purposely booked the trip in February versus waiting until summer because I was looking forward to some moderate temperatures.  Not so much from what I’ve been hearing.  One of the people that I’ll be meeting with gave me the heads up that temperatures have been as low as 20 degrees.  What the heck!  I’d like at least 50 degrees when I’m there, please.

Most of the week will be filled with meetings and dinners, very little free time.  However, I did leave a little bit of free time at the very end for me to get some exploring time.  I’m bringing my camera so I’m hoping that I’ll get some great pictures.  I’m planning on touring Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah which I’ve heard is beautiful.

Swiss Steak

Swiss Steak

Swiss Steak is a comfort food in our house.  We all love it, and coupled with mashed potatoes, egg noodles and corn (or other favorite veggie), you have a dinner that will have everyone running to the table.    Our meat market takes round steak and runs it through the tenderizer machine and cuts the portions into softball-sized pieces.  These work great in the skillet and are good from a portion size per person.  This meal takes some time to make, typically about 90 minutes, so plan accordingly.

Leftover Chicken Recipes – 5 Easy Meals

Leftover Chicken Recipes

Keeping the family fed is one of the hardest, most time consuming chores of the week.  For many of us, a simple solution is to grab take out (which gets expensive) or open a box of cereal (not the healthiest).  Fortunately, with age comes wisdom and I’ve found a few that using leftover chicken recipes help me in my quest to serve my family relatively healthy meals without breaking the bank.

One of my secrets to keeping my family well fed during the week is to find ways to cook once and then use what I cooked for multiple meals.  Since our family isn’t real keen on left-overs, I need to find different, yet incredibly easy, dishes to serve.  Readers of my weekly menu probably roll their eyes when they see we’ll be eating Baked Chicken Breasts again.  Here’s a little known secret to my madness of serving chicken breasts every week, I use these leftover chicken recipes to feed my family throughout the week.

Our current family season dictates that it’s tough for us to all actually sit down to eat together.  Mike works nights.  To get all the classes she needs, Belle is taking a couple of evening classes and Michael (who no longer lives at home) works a lot of nights as well so he rarely drops in for dinner any more.  Although I cook about 3 – 4 meals per week, they are usually sitting in the fridge waiting for whomever to eat them.  Not an ideal situation but it’s what my family needs right now.

Weekly Menu – Week of 2/1/2016

weekly menu planning

Last week was a pretty busy week, it was one of those week where I didn’t get a chance to make everything on my  menu!  I ended up going out for dinner three times last week which was a bit more than I planned on.  One was a work dinner which of course I had to do, but since I got a delicious New York Strip out of it I really can’t complain.  Belle asked Mike and I to dinner to meet her new boyfriend and I got some one on one time with my good friend Amy.  One on one time is pretty hard to come by so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to when it presented itself!

Up until this last week everything has been excellent on the headache front.  All week I felt one hanging around so I was liberal with my lavender application and took some preemptive medication.  I also ended up taking a half day on Friday so that I could go home and sleep.  All my precautions seemed to work as the headache really didn’t erupt.  I’m working hard this year to get my headaches under control.  It’s been almost a month since I had a what I would classify as a “real” headache.

Steak Gyros with Greek Yogurt Feta Sauce

Steak Gyros

Early last year Mike and I started using Plated.com to get out of our food rut and curb our eating out.  Although we enjoy most of the meals we receive, every so often one comes along that is so incredibly delicious that it makes it into our regular rotation.  These Steak Gyros were one of them.

In addition to them being melt in your mouth awesome, they are so easy to make that I feel a little guilty.  After all, a meal that makes you weep with pleasure should be a little harder, shouldn’t it?

Although the recipe calls for a round steak, I’ve used sirloin and found that to work just as well.  The recipe also calls for a sumac which I was unable to find in our regular grocery store.  When I googled it I found that lemon zest salt was an appropriate substitute, we really didn’t notice a difference in the taste.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

Weekly Menu – Week of 1/24/2016

weekly menu planning

This year I decided not to write about my goals.  While it works on other blogs, I felt that those posts weren’t really supportive of the core of this blog.  However, I do have a bunch of goals that I will accomplish this year.  One of those goals was to improve my writing and photography.

Photography is something I’ve been interested in for a long, long time. Even back in high school I was interested in photography, but up until recently I never really did anything about it.  While I’ve always wanted to invest in a nice DSLR camera, I never wanted to spend the money until last year.  Shortly before our scheduled trip to Europe, Mike recommended that we buy a good camera so we could get really good pictures.  Who am I to argue with my husband :)

Although we did get some good shots on our trip, I found myself pretty disappointed with a lot of the shots.  Namely my ability to capture what I wanted.  Given that I take a lot of food pictures for this blog and I want to get more into travel writing, I figured I better up my game.  There is a ton of information available online, and I’ve been using those resources, but I wanted a live class where I could interact with the teacher and ask questions.  The class that I’ve been taking is at our local technical college and it has been excellent!  If you are looking to improve your photography skills you may want to see what’s offered by you.

Shopping for Car Insurance – Saving Money

Shopping for car insurance

Car insurance is one of those evil necessities required if you want to own a car, shopping for car insurance can be excruciating. As a parent of a teenage drive, let me tell you, insurance can be pretty big chunk of your household budget. Saving money on car insurance should be one of the first things you look at as you review your budget for the year. Last year I was able to about to save 25% on our insurance costs. Yes, 25% savings AND I kept the same coverage.

Ever since I started driving at age 16, we’ve had with the same insurance company. Since I’m in my mid-40’s that would be a lot of years! We liked the personal touch of having an agent just down the street, felt that overall we were treated well and were sure that we were paying a fair price. After all, wouldn’t a company reward loyalty with competitive rates? Plus, a number of years ago I did price some other companies and was assured by those other companies that our insurance was going to be the most competitive.

Fast forward a few years. Every time that our insurance was up for a renewal, the premiums would go up. Every. Single. Time. Those increases added up quickly. Add in that we now had four drivers and five vehicles on our policy and we were paying a small fortune in insurance.

Given how high our insurance was monthly, I figured there had to be a way to reduce our premiums. After all, saving money on car insurance should not be that difficult. Even though I was hesitant to leave the company we had been with so long, not to mention I was dreading the process of looking for a new insurance company, I decided it was time we started shopping for car insurance.

Any time I look to solve a problem, the first thing I do is research so that I can understand the current situation and find a way to make it better. There are four main steps that I would recommend when undertaking a search for a new insurance company.

Stromboli Recipe – Dinner Idea

Stromboli Recipe

This is a guest post from my friend Jenny:

My husband, Rick, grew up in Pennsylvania near Camp Hill.  One of his favorite places to eat when he was growing up, and also got me hooked on, was ‘Your Place’.  They specialize in Stromboli – fondly known as ‘boli’.  I had never heard of or had stromboli, but after one visit to Your Place I was hooked.  Since we don’t go back to Pennsylvania often, we have searched for a stromboli recipe that would come close to the one at Your Place.  Well, Rick finally found one, and I have modified it a little to get it closer to what we remember.  Give it a try, if you like pizza or Italian food, I’m sure you will love it!

Cinnamon Chips – Simple Snack Idea

cinnamon chips

This is a guest post from my friend Lynn:

Recently I had some left over burrito shells that were starting to get older and dried out.  I decided to put them to good use by creating some cinnamon chips using these shells.

How to make Cinnamon Chips


I started by coating a very thin amount of butter on the top and bottom of each shell.   The shells were getting a bit dry, so this was an easy task.