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.

Weekly Menu

 

Weekly Menu Plan

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.

Jackfruit

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 🙂

Weekly Menu

 

Weekly Menu Plan

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.

Baby Shower - Cake

Baby Shower - Bingo Card

Baby Shower

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.

Chicken Caprese over Spinach Salad

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.

Chicken Caprese

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!

Weekly Menu

 

Weekly Menu Plan

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.

Manchego and Fig Jam Burger

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!

Manchego and Fig Jam Burger

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.