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.

Weekly Menu

weekly menu planning

Welcome to another week!  Things have been pretty quiet around here.  Mike has been doing a lot of training so he’s been home quite a bit at night.  Cooking dinner is so much more enjoyable when he’s around!  Unlike when the kids were small and I seemed to be in the kitchen by myself, we’ve found that cooking together (well, I do most of the cooking while he helps with the prep and cleans up after me) is a great way to spend time together.

This weekend we are suppose to be doing our annual “Friendsgiving” so I bought a huge turkey (25 lbs) and started defrosting it for the event only to have my oven quit on me.  A couple of weeks ago there was a big pop and spark but we couldn’t figure out what it was.  Since most of my cooking is stovetop, it took a while to see that the oven wasn’t quite getting to temp.  Sunday while I was cooking bacon it totally shut off.  We’re kind of bummed because the next opportunity for our big turkey dinner is April.  Oh well, I guess you gotta do what you gotta do!  I’m hoping to get the repair people in this week and I’m crossing my fingers that the oven isn’t shot.  It’s not that old and we splurged for the nicer model.  I really would prefer not to have to replace it!

Here’s our menu for the week.

Weekly Menu

weekly menu planning

Hello!  Welcome to another week.  Cold weather seems to be settling into Wisconsin today.  Not my favorite time of year, I hate being cold.  Especially the cold that drives right through you and leaves your skin an itchy mess.  Ugh!

Oh well, enough complaining about the weather.  Last week I had quite a few meals that ended up not getting made.  Namely my Plated.com meals.  I struggled with my migraine all week (and still have it) which meant that there were some nights I just wanted up to cooking.  When I have weeks like that I try to use up the food that will go bad first which was the non-Plated meals.

Christmas is finally gone at our house.  With how crazy and stressful last year was, I’ve shut down a bit in January.  If it wasn’t for Mike, we’d probably still have our Christmas tree up 🙂  Since he did all the work of taking everything down, I had the chore of organizing it in our Holiday Closet.  While I worked on the closet, he put together my new exercise bike.  Although organizing isn’t what I would term “fun”, it felt good to get those two things crossed off the to-do list.

The past few Sunday’s I’ve spent the day cooking, getting ready for the upcoming week.  This Sunday, not so much.  I hate starting the day off a bit behind the eight ball so tonight when I get home from work I’m going to have to do some additional cooking.  This is going to be a good reminder as to why it’s better to do it on Sunday!

Steak Fajitas Recipe With Guacamole

We first tried this Steak Fajitas recipe about two years ago when it showed up in our Plated.com box.  It was one of those meals that were so fantastic; Mike wanted me to cook it the following week again.  Sadly, since that time I think I’ve only made it a couple of time.  Recently we were going through some of our old recipe cards, and we found this one.  It had been a while since we had made it, so I added it to our menu.  Yikes!  I forgot how much I loved it!  Since I liked it so much (and my original pictured totally sucked!), I decided to update the image and re-share the recipe with you.  This is one of those recipes that is super easy and taste awesome.  My favorite kind of recipe!

Steak Fajitas

The recipe as written below calls for adding some hot sauce into the guacamole but I left it out and put double the hot sauce in the marinade.  That was just a personal preference on my part as I don’t like hot and spicy guacamole.  I also made the guacamole, took out half for me and then added the jalapeno for Mike.  He likes the jalapenos much more than I do. One quick tip, if you want to save time go ahead and buy pre-made guacamole (you obviously won’t need the guacamole ingredients), it may not be as tasty but it will be easier and who can complain about that?

One other recommendation that I would have is to cut the steak into bite size pieces instead of strips.  In the interest of full disclosure, I was more worried about the picture of the steak fajitas versus the eating ability, so I left the steaks in strips. Cutting the meat into bite-sized pieces will simplify the eating process.

If you like fajitas (feel free to substitute chicken for the steak if you’d like), I would highly encourage you to try this recipe as it was one of the best ones that I’ve tried.  You can bet that we’ll be having this again sometime soon!

Weekly Menu

weekly menu planning

While the rest of Wisconsin was glued to their TV’s watching a heartbreaking game, I was in the kitchen whipping up food for the week.  I was amazed at how much energy I had in the afternoon and was totally rocking it.  And then the migraine hit.  All last week I could feel it brewing (the weather wasn’t helping) and I was doing everything in my power to keep it from erupting.  Unfortunately there are just some triggers I can control and it reared it’s ugly head.  After 12 hours I can at least venture out of my darkened cave (also known as the master bedroom) and eat some food.  Oh yeah, and hit the publish button on this post which was just about complete when I went down.  🙂

I’ve decided this is going to be my last week of Plated for a while (wait a moment while I wipe a tear away….)  Although I absolutely LOVE the service, it has caused my weekly food bill to sky rocket.  My original intent was that the money that I budgeted for groceries would go down at least $72 so that I was status quo.  For some reason that hasn’t happened.  Although slightly lower when we get Plated, our weekly bill for the most part seems pretty consistent no matter whether we are getting a box or not.

So, I made that decision while looking for ways to cut our budget I’ve decided to only order boxes the weeks that the menu options look fabulous.  I honestly wished I would have skipped this week but I missed the deadline.  The good news is that I have plenty of fabulous menu cards to choose from so we’ll still be eating pretty darn good, it’s just that I know have to do my own measuring.  Oh the horror!

I did try a new pancake this week.  Now that I’m trying (again!) to give up my McDonald’s in the morning I need to come up with a variety of easy breakfast meals.  My favorite will still be the frittatas, but unlike my husband, I need a little variety in my life.  I found a yummy (and healthy) looking pancake recipe on, from where else, the Plated blog that I decided to try.  Of course I had to try them so I had a couple for breakfast and will be saving the rest of during the week.

Here’s what we are planning for meals this week.

Spaghetti Squash – Who Knew How Amazing it Could Be!

I had an epiphany last night.  A spaghetti squash epiphany.  For 47 hears I’ve walked this earth and not once has a piece of spaghetti squash crossed my lips.  Not even one little piece!

Spaghetti Squash

And then this happened.  This plate of deliciousness magically appeared on my kitchen table (well, magically after about 50 minutes of cooking!) and I can safely say that our spaghetti eating days will never be the same.

Oh, I’ve heard the raving of spaghetti squash for years.  I’ve seen the infomercials for the Veggetti (and even bought my sister-in-law one for Christmas a couple of years ago) but I didn’t jump on the band wagon.  Maybe it’s my desire to march to my own beat.  Maybe I like staying with the tried and true.  Whatever the case, I was NOT jumping on the veggies instead of spaghetti train for nothing.

Sigh, and then you stop out of your comfort zone.  In our box this week from Plated.com was a dish called Spaghetti Squash Amatriciana  with Crispy Pancetta.  I was a little iffy when I saw it was going to be in the box and truth be told, if there was an option that I thought would be better I’d have picked it.  In fact, the crispy pancetta was the only reason I even considered keeping it.

Weekly Menu

weekly menu planning

Let me tell you, my Facebook page was lighting up tonight!  The Packers are well loved here in Wisconsin, even though I don’t watch football (and may be the only person in the U.S. who didn’t watch the game against the Cowboys) I was happy to see them win.  Instead of watching football, I was cooking food for the week.  Probably a much better use of my time.  🙂

When planning our menu earlier this week I was pretty pumped because at least two of the meals I chose I had everything I needed to make.  I was gleefully rubbing my hands together thinking about all the money I was going to save.  Pulling up to the check out counter I was still feeling somewhat confident given that my cart was not overflowing.  Until I realized that the things we bought were expensive.  I was quite bummed when we came in exactly at our budgeted amount.

Once I got over my initial disappointment and started analyzing everything I planned on making, I realized that we are still coming out ahead.  Here’s the deal, for the “Year of Me” I’m concentrating on eating healthier.  With that in mind, I have prepared breakfast and lunch for myself for the entire week.  Given that I usually spend $8 – $10 a day on breakfast and lunch, that’s between $40 – $50 dollars a week that I’m potentially saving.  Knowing that I was able to buy the extra food within my budgeted amount, that’s truly a win.

In my desire to be healthier and have more energy, I’ve been dissecting what my issues are.  Constant fatigue, headaches and achiness are the norm (although since the holidays my headaches have been better).  I saw a doctor over the holidays who did some blood work and recommended that I see a pulmonologist for my sleeping problems.  My lab work showed that I was extremely low in the Vitamin D department (not at all unusual for women living in cold climates) so she’s started me on a high dosage supplement.  As of yet it hasn’t kicked in but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

I also did my sleep study this week although I’m praying I didn’t mess it up.  I’m a bit worried that I may have turned the machine off in my sleep and erased the information when I woke up.  I guess we will see on Monday!  Most people would probably hope they don’t find an issue, but given my battle with sleep I’m kind of hoping that there’s something they can do.  On a typical night I wake up about 6 times with at least one two hour stretch where I can’t fall back to sleep.  I’m quite sure that’s one of my reasons for the fatigue.  It seems like no matter what I do to help me sleep, I just can’t get through the night.

At the core, I believe that eating a cleaner diet will help a number of my issues.  Over the last couple of years, our evening meals have improved drastically with the addition of Plated.  Before we started getting boxes, a lot of my food contained processed foods instead of whole foods.  Dinners are now mostly whole foods.

Of course, If I do have sleep apnea, eating better isn’t necessarily going to help that, but some of my other issues it definitely will.  My next step in the “Year of Me” is to start an eating class in February.  There were some other labs that came back with some not so great numbers (mainly the inflammation number) so I’m hoping that doing another step change in my eating habits will make me feel better.

So, for this week there is no breakfast or lunch out.  Only whole food that has been made in my kitchen.

Weekly Menu

weekly menu planning

Brrr, it was cold here in Wisconsin last week!  Those deep freezes make you just want to hibernate and not come out until spring.  That, and in my case, itch your skin off!  My skin is normally dry but when it gets super cold like that and all the moisture is sucked from the air, my entire body becomes one itchy patch.  I for one am glad that we’re having a heat wave this week.  Well, if you consider 20 degrees a heat wave 🙂

So Mike was off this weekend but with the extreme cold, we spent a relatively quiet weekend indoors.  Saturday night we went out for dinner with friends, but other than that it was kind of nice just to kick back, get some stuff done and have some quiet time.  Mike was kind enough to finish taking down our indoor Christmas decorations, something which I had been to tired to do.  This week I’ll just need to dismantle the porch and then I’ll be done!

Given that this is the Year of Me, I’m going to try to start taking my lunch instead of buying it every day.  We have a cafeteria at work that serves salads and hot entrees but it can really add up cost wise.  Through our wellness clinic at work I’m taking a healthy eating class starting in February.  I’ve hemmed and hawed a bit about it, but if I’m serious about feeling good then I need to make some step changes.  One of those is to attempt to limit my meat consumption during breakfast and lunch.  I feel our dinners, even though they contain meat, are healthy and well balanced.  Plus, both of us enjoy the way we’ve been eating dinner so I’m not going to do anything there.

With cutting back on meat during breakfast and lunch, I’ve decided to start getting an extra Plated.com vegetarian meal every week so that I can make it one night and then have leftovers for lunch for a few days.  Of course, I decided to late to get it this week so I’ll be punting a bit.

Historically I’ve only shared our dinner menu but I’m going to start sharing lunch as well.  Lunches can be difficult for families with conflicting schedules and/or women that work outside the home.  Hopefully by sharing what we do that will give you some ideas for your life.

We are getting a Plated.com box this week, but it’s pretty much all meals that we’ve made before so we aren’t trying anything new.

Creating Goals that will Allow you to Succeed

Creating Goals
Creating goals is an important part of making life improvements.  A few years ago I stopped making New Year’s Resolutions.  Don’t get me wrong; I continually strive to make my life better too.  The problem is that I found I’d make these grand gestures and think that just because I turned over a new page on the year that I’d be able to magically change into a new me.  When that didn’t happen, I would become disappointed and get down on myself.  Instead of making sweeping changes, I decided to focus on one or two specific things at a time.
What I learned in the process is that it is possible to make changes.  However, they need to be small, buildable steps instead of sweeping changes.  I also needed to know the how and the why as well as the what.  You see, saying you’re going to go to the gym is easy but what makes you think you are going to be any more successful tomorrow than you are today?
The point is you can be successful tomorrow, but you need to have a workable plan.  Identify what is holding you back from making the change and find a way to remove that obstacle.
A few years ago Mike and I found ourselves in a food rut.  I would make the same 7 or 8 things all the time, on the weeks that I cooked that is.  We also found ourselves getting takeout almost every night.  Even if you’re picking up “cheap” fast food that adds up and hits the budget.
The problem was that I was sick of cooking the same stuff.  Mike was tired of eating the same stuff and honestly, I wasn’t being challenged in the kitchen.  The thought of actually going out and finding new recipes to try, buy the ingredients and then cook it was a little overwhelming.  What worked for many, many years wasn’t working for us as we moved into a new season of life.
Although I knew I needed to make a change, it took a radical change to my approach to make the big difference in our lives.  I may sound a bit dramatic, but our decision to start a Plated.com subscription was life changing.  It was the step change that we needed to add variety and healthier cooking into our evening meal.  Two years later we still get the Plated.com boxes, but even when we take a sabbatical from receiving them, our eating is more varied and healthier than it was.  Plus, we’re saving money since we rarely eat out.
As I look back over the changes I’ve made in my life the last few years, all the positives ones have been from approaching the problem differently than I had in the past.  It’s about deciding to make a change and then figuring out what you are going to do to make it stick.

Weekly Menu

weekly menu planning

Happy 2017! I have to admit that I am sooo glad to see it.  2016 was a rough year, I crawled to the Christmas finish line on my hands and knees and pretty much laid there and let 2017 come to me.

My mom had her surgery last week and we’re cautiously optimistic that it was successful.  She was able to come home afterwards (instead of the nursing home she’s been at since August) and has more life and spunk than I’ve seen since April of last year.  We still need to give it a few weeks as she’s not eating solid food yet but so far it all looks promising.

I on the other hand still have this awful middle ear infection I can’t get rid of!  After my first rounds of antibiotics which seemed to tamp it down it came back with a vengeance.  The morning of New Years Eve I was able to get in to the doctor who prescribed me some terribly expensive medicine (my co-pay was $105) but it seems to be working.  I’m not in excruciating pain and my face doesn’t look like the Goodyear Blimp with all the swelling.

Later this week I’m going to write a bit more about my goals for 2017 but I will say that one of them is to be a healthier version of me.  I think I say this every year, and every year I do make some improvements, but this year I really need to make a step change. My doctor has at least one idea of something that will make me feel better but it’s going to be a few months until we can act upon that.  All I know is I’m tired of constantly being tired.

This week our menu plan is going to be pretty simple. We have some plans to go out a couple of times and we are getting a Plated.com box.  With the holiday and some get togethers I didn’t need to cook yesterday and I haven’t even had a chance to go to the grocery store.  That will be an after work task.