Weekly Menu

 

weekly menu planning

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.

French Toast Bake

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 – Easy and Inexpensive to Make

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.

DIY Napkin Rings

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). Red SunflowerSince 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!

Weekly Menu

weekly menu planning

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.

Weekly Menu

weekly menu planning

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.

How Much is too Much Stuff?

How much is too much stuff?  Here is in the United States we tend to have a problem with buying items, lots of items.  Every time I see the Ebates commercial I want to throw up a bit.  Yes, I use Ebates, and I think it’s a good program, after all, if you are buying something you need why not get a small rebate in return.   If you haven’t joined and wanted to, you can use my referral code, and we’ll both get a little something.  My problem with the commercial is that when those people are bragging about how much money they got back all I can think of is how much money they had to spend that get that rebate.

too much stuff

I have been off of work for the last couple of weeks recuperating from surgery, and I have a few more weeks to go.  Since I haven’t had this much time off since Belle was born, I made a list of projects to work on around the house that would keep me busy but not be too much for me.  This week I tackled Mike’s clothes and the front closet.
Not to throw my husband under the bus or anything, but this guy had over 70 t-shirts.  Yes, you read that right.  70 t-shirts which is too much stuff!  That’s not including his non t-shirt shirts and uniforms.  We won’t even go into how many pairs of shoes Belle has.  That basketful above (and those are only her shoes) isn’t all of them, only the ones in the front closet.  She has probably close to a second basketful of shoes in her room.
Needless to say, Mike no longer has that many t-shirts and he willingly even dug deeper into his closet to get rid of stuff that wasn’t on my radar yet.  Belle is bucking me a bit on the shoes.  While I’d love for her to thin down her shoes, my primary goal is to get the front closet organized.  If she wants to keep a ton of shoes in her room, that’s up to her.  She will only be allowed to keep a few of them in the front closet.

Weekly Menu

weekly menu planning

After a cold, wet weekend here in Wisconsin, I’m hoping that we’ll have some sunny, semi-warm days ahead of us.  After a week of laying low I’d like to get out and start walking a bit.  Walking is always more fun when you aren’t cold and wet!

Last week was my first full week of convalescing since my surgery.  I feel better than I expected which tends to make you forget that you aren’t operating at 100%.  Not working and laying low is harder than you would expect but I did do it.  I want to make sure that I don’t do anything to set me back, I want to make sure that when my leave is up I’m healthy and feeling good.

I’m using this time off work to make some changes to my eating habits.  As you may know, my migraines have been worse the last couple of years, I’m exhausted all the time and have zero energy.  Earlier this year I decided to take a hard look at my diet as I’m pretty sure that the way I was eating could potentially be creating some of my problems.

Eating healthy is certainly easier when you’re home all the time, at least for me! Included in my shopping list this week was fruit and herbs to make spa water.  I’ve been enjoying a variety of different flavors this week.  So far I think the strawberry and basil has been my favorite.

Spa Water

For breakfast I’ve been mixing it up with healthy cereal and eggs, later this week I’m wanting to try some overnight oatmeal.  Lunches consist of either leftovers or healthy frozen meals (I like Amy’s frozen meals a lot.)

Since I’m home all day, Mike and I have decided to shake things up and make lunch our main meal when he’s working second shift.  That way he’ll be home to help me cook, he actually get to eat his meal fresh (i.e. not reheated) and we get to eat together.  It’s a win all around!

Weekly Menu

weekly menu planning

Happy  Spring!  I hope everyone had a great week.  The sun is shining here in Wisconsin and it’s shaping up to be a beautiful day.

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I had major surgery last Thursday and wasn’t quite sure what kind of shape I would be in for this week for menu planning.  My assumption was that I would be in a tremendous amount of pain and be out of commission for a couple of weeks.  Fortunately that hasn’t been the case, at least so far!

I had hoped to be better prepared on the food front for my convalescence, but between our vacation and how poorly I was feeling beforehand I didn’t get much in the way of food stocked up.  The good news is I feel fabulous and am up to cooking for the family, although we chose easy meals and Mike is helping even more than normal so that I don’t over tax myself.

Feeling so good after surgery has created a bit of a dilemma  for me.  As you know, I tend to think I’m capable of waaaay more than I really am.  THAT’s what the whole Wonder Woman complex is about.  Because I’m feeling so good I’m really at risk of overdoing it.  I have the next six weeks off of work and I’m going to have to work really hard to rest and take it easy.

Given that I’m wasn’t up for a full blown grocery shopping trip, we’re planning on taking mini-trips to a store close to our house which will allow me to get out of the house a bit for some short walks.  The store is significantly more expensive than our usual place but it’s what we need to do at this stage.

Weekly Menu

weekly menu planning

Greetings!  I hope everyone had an awesome week.  Mike and I just returned from a week in the Caribbean.  I wish I could say that I was feeling refreshed and energized but that’s not quite the case.  Between all the things we did and a terrible cold I come down with midway through I’m dragging a bit today.  I haven’t had a chance to go through the pictures yet so I’ll try and share a bit more from the vacation later this week.

This is kind of a weird week for menu planning for us.  Later this week I’m having surgery which requires at least a one night hospital stay.  I’m anticipating that I won’t be up for cooking for at least a week or two post surgery.  We’ll see how I’m feeling after that.  I’ll be off work for six weeks so I’m hoping that while I’m recovering I’ll at least feel up to playing around in the kitchen with some new recipes.

To throw another little wrench in the pile, our oven isn’t working so we’re limited in only cooking on the stove top.  We will definitely be keeping it simple.  Mike isn’t to worried about it, he says that Panera’s is close by and can become our default if need be.

Since I’d rather not spend the money eating out, the plan is to try and get a couple of things cooked up and then keep the rest of it easy as Mike will be handling the cooking. We’ll see by next Sunday how I’m feeling and then decide what we’ll do for next week.

Weekly Menu

weekly menu planning

What a bit of refreshing spring we saw here in Wisconsin this past weekend, high 50’s in February is a gift to be taken advantage of.  Unfortunately, I’m sure it was just a brief respite from cold weather and we’re sure to have some snow before the true spring hits.  No complaints here though, it was just nice to see some sun and warmth.

This week’s menu plan has already taken a bit of a hit, and it’s only Monday.  While I’m a huge proponent of menu planning, I’m also a realist who understands that life gets in the way of our best laid plans.  Although these little glitches can be frustrating, all we can do is roll with the punches and make the best of it.  Menu planning helps me roll with those punches as I have options, options are good.

While relaxing last night I got a text message that was a bit of a bummer.  My friend Melissa (she shared her Water Park Cake here a couple of years ago) has to go in for emergency surgery this morning.  Melissa found out she had breast cancer about a year and a half ago.  She’s undergone chemotherapy, radiation and multiple surgeries.  She thought she was nearing the finish line as she has been working to fill her expanders (which is the precursor to getting implants) only to find out she has an issue with one and needs to have it removed.  It looks like it will be quite a while before she’s able to start the process again.  This has been a huge set-back as she’s also experiencing some major upheavals in her life.  If you believe in the power of prayer, please pray for my friend as she’s dealing with all these crazy things that life is throwing at her.  Prayers for her healing and peace of mind would be much appreciated.

It’s texts like the ones I got from Melissa, stories of loss we hear on the news and all the other terrible things that friends and family are dealing with that help me keep my miniscule problems in perspective.  Between my messed up menu plan and migraine that I’ve been dealing with (this has been a bad headache year) it’s easy to become a negative Nellie.  However, I’d much rather be dealing with a menu plan gone awry than breast cancer.

So, it’s day two of my menu plan and it’s already gone to heck.  However, I still have a plan and we’re just re-working it.  Although inconvenient, we definitely will not starve

White Chicken Chili – A Great Way to Stay Warm this Winter

White Chicken Chili is a regular in our winter menu, making its appearance on the weekends and for lunch during the week.   Living in the frigid north means finding those meals that fill the belly and give you that inner warmth.  This chili fits the bill!

White Chicken Chili

 Although my husband loves my red chili, my go to is the white.  As I strive to eat out less at lunch during the week, I’ve found that a crockpot full of White Chicken Chili made on the weekends helps me stay true to that goal.
 Out of curiosity, I’ve tried to find the origins of white chicken chili, but there was no information to be found.  Regular chili seems to have originated in Texas sometime in the 1700 or 1800’s.    It would appear that it was an inexpensive way to easily feed a bunch of cowboys on the range  My guess is somewhere along the line somebody probably tried to healthy it up.
This recipe originally came from Weight Watchers.  At the time (many, many years ago) a cup was worth one point.  Given the changes that the program has made over the years, I have no idea how it would fit into their plan now.  I just know that it’s reasonably healthy and tastes fantastic.
 I’ve shared the recipe as I originally received it, but I’ve made a few tweaks to it over time.  Instead of 2 cups of chicken broth, I like to use a tablespoon or so of chicken base and one cup of water.  It makes the chili a little richer and less watery.  I also use extra mozzarella cheese because, well, it’s cheese! Fresh baked bread or a garlic breadstick is a perfect accompaniment to this chili.
This chili freezes great so get some small freezer containers (personal sized are my favorite for easy meals) and stock up.  You’ll thank yourself when you’re looking for something tasty to eat on the go.