Dinner Menu for the week of June 17th

Right.  It is Tuesday.  Sickness has taken over my house, and consumed several boxes of tissue.  With illness comes a SLOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWW down of all activity.  Including the posting of this week’s menu.

Before I get to the menu, I have to share some excitement over our tiny little garden.  Saturday I loaded Trevor into my dad’s truck to go get the dirt from a local garden supply place.  He was SO excited, and was talking the whole way there and back about “Papa’s white truck.”  He eyes were full of wonder as the dirt was loaded into the truck by some huge yellow front-loader machine.  Really glad I took him along with me.

We got home with the soil, and Dave brought load after load back to the raised bed.  Trevor was right there with Dave the entire time.  Cutest thing ever.

Our first planting included watermelon, zucchini, cucumber, red bell pepper, jalapeno, parsley and basil!  Cannot wait to nurture these little guys!

garden

Of note, some of the plants will need to be moved.  I guess I underestimated the needed space for several of the items planted.  Joy.

Last quick update.  It is almost blackberry season!!!  My neighbor has a bush that is jumanji-ish, and reaches over the fence into our yard.   Plucking these gems will be the highlight of my summer fruit bounty!

blackberries

Onto what we are eating this week:

Monday:  This is our use it up day, so we scrounged for leftovers, and it worked out well. Dave actually tried to finish off the Mac and cheese from last week. I did not touch it though, because it was gross. Like, a waste of pasta gross. Cannot seem to get the ratio of pasta to sauce right, and it always turns out a sticky mess.

Tuesday:  Tonight we are eating shepherd’s pie.  Not normally something I like, but Dave is a huge fan.  It was a Father’s Day request, so I am going to give it a go. I am counting on being amazed.

Wednesday:  Spring Quinoa Salad.  YES please!

Thursday: Chopped Salad with Quinoa, Sweet Potatoes and Apples

Friday: Steak Fajitas. These were such a hit last time, that we are making them again! Planning to make fresh corn tortillas too. YUM!

Saturday: Brinner night, so it will either be whole wheat waffles, or pancakes. Whatever I feel I can manage.

Starting next week, my menus will go Sunday-Saturday. This will make it easier to shop on the weekends, and also my menu app on my iPhone uses Sunday-Saturday, so it was getting weird. Technology…rules my life I tell you.

Enjoy your week everyone!

Dinner Menu for the week of June 10th

Let me begin by saying, tonight’s dinner was quite possibly the best thing I have ever eaten.  It was most certainly the best thing I have ever cooked!  Dave agrees with me btw.

The homemade corn tortillas were a smash.  So easy, and as a bonus, I got to put my tortilla press to use.  For real this time.  Combine homemade tortillas with amazing fish, and sauce that brought it all together, and you have tiny fireworks of amazing going off in your mouth.  Try them.  Soon.

The rest of the meals on the menu for last week were also good.  I would say my least favorite was the BLT salad.  Shame, because it was the thing I was most excited to make.  I think the issue was that it needed more bacon.  Dave would argue that everything needs more bacon.  I should also note that my son with the expressive speech delay, is able to say, “More bacon” consistently,  so I think we know where he stands.

I forgot to mention last week, but we are trying a new cash budgeting system for groceries.  It is pretty 1986, but something had to be done about our (my) grocery overspending.  Last week, I came in $10 over my weekly allowance.  This meant that I SHOULD be $10 under this week to make up for the overage.  I got the money out of the ATM on Saturday, and after hitting up Costco, Whole Foods and the farmer’s market, I would like to report that I now have $30 left for the rest of the week.  Shoot.  Due to the fact that I spend $11 every few days on just milk, I am pretty sure that I am screwed.  Sigh.

Last update before I get on with it.  Operation “Veggie Bed” is under way.  Dave’s parents designed a raised garden bed for us that is enclosed.  They came over on Wednesday, and put it together.   Here is what it looked like after the frame was built.

veggies

Here is what it looks like with the fencing on that is designed to keep out vermin.  (Featuring a curious one year old.)

veggies1

The dirt, and actual planning will be next weekend’s project.  Naturally, I will also be spending WAY too much time on Pinterest in the evenings this week trying to find the perfect planting blueprint.

HUGE thank you to Jo and Rich for all of the work you put into this for us.  I will feed you with fresh yumminess when this project bears fruit.  (And veggies…)

And the menu…

Monday:  Leftover night.  AKA…Fend for yourself night.  Could be an Amy’s burrito,  granola and yogurt, eggs over asparagus, Lara bars and water.  Like I said…fend for yourself.

Tuesday:  Our very very favorite chicken in the crock pot, wild rice and steamed parmesan broccoli.

Wednesday:  Cobb salad with chicken from Tuesday, eggs, avocado, shredded carrot and cucumber.

Thursday:  Grilled ham and cheese sandwiches.

Friday:  Taking a night off from meat and giving Mac and Cheese another go.  It was dreadful the last time, but I found a new recipe that gives me hope.  I also plan to put a few bread crumbs on the top and bake it for a bit.

Saturday: Omelettes with avocado, spinach and cheddar.

Sunday we get to celebrate Dave and my sweet Daddy-O.  Leaving this day open to the possibility of hangout sessions, and good chats, and maybe even something on the grill.

Cannot wait to share more pics of the veggie bed progress next week!

Dinner Menu for the week of June 3rd

Last week, we took a “use it up” challenge.  We went WAY over the food budget in May, and had to put on the breaks.

I would love to report, that until Sat (when the month reset), the only food  item I purchased for home meals was milk. (I really SHOULD count the couple of i.forgot.my.DANG.lunch.at.home trips to whole foods for work lunches, but honestly…)  Dave and I even sacrificed half and half in our coffee.  I know…right?!?!  I did not think it would be possible, but it turns out that I am reminded often, that we can do hard things.  By Saturday, the fridge was SO empty, but it felt really good to have used up all of the fruit and veggies that I had on hand.

Speaking of hard things, it is in my nature to start little “projects”, then lose steam when they drag on and on and on.  I thought for sure that our real food adventure would need to be restarted several times before it really became a way of life.  Shockingly, I am mostly sticking to the menus, reading labels, and achieving 90% real food most weeks.  It feels great to commit to a life change and to see the results.  Knowing what I know about the damage done by processed foods, it is not likely that I will revert.

I digressed a bit, so here is what our dinner menu looks like for this week.

Monday:  We did not use the soup Sunday due to an impromptu BBQ at a friend’s house.  So…chicken soup it is!

Tuesday:  Grilled pork tenderloin with blueberry sauce and parm zucchini.  Blueberries were on MAJOR sale at Whole Foods, so this is the perfect way to use them up. Also, I will be grilling my pork tenderloin on a grill pan, and will not be using Mrs. Dash on anything.  Ever.  🙂

Wednesday:  BLT chopped salad.  Can.not.wait!

Thursday:  Broccoli cheddar soup

Friday:  Orange and ginger chicken thighs with roasted red potatoes and corn on the cob.  I will sub in olive oil for the processed veg oil in the recipe.

Saturday:  Take two on Poached eggs with asparagus and bacon.

Sunday:  Spicy fish tacos.  This is going to be a stretch for me, and I hope I am up for the challenge.  These look SO flippin’ good!

In related news…I am in the very early stages of building some raised veggie beds!  It will be so awesome to shop in my garden for dinner instead of the farmer’s market or grocery store.  Pics to come.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Dinner menu for the week of May 27th

This whole meal planning thing is starting to get a bit easier.  Having said that, it does seem like every week, something comes up that changes my plan.

Last week, we skipped the salad night on Thursday, because I went out to dinner with some of my sweet girlfriends.  It was SO nice to have a night out.  With a daily goal of 90% real food, and 10% everything else, I spent pretty much ALL of my 10% on an amazing dark chocolate brownie topped with ice cream and drizzled dark chocolate sauce.  It may have been closer to 20% though.   Shhhhhhh.

Saturday, I had every intention of making the poached eggs with bacon and asparagus, but the bacon jumped out of the package onto the kitchen floor earlier that morning.  It was a total loss.  I decided to combine the asparagus that was on the menu, with the salmon planned for tonight (Sunday).  It turned out amazing!

salmon

BTW, Dave said that I have to acknowledge that HE cooked this masterpiece.  He reminded me that I always have to credit the chef.

Even though the salmon ruled, both the chicken parmigiana, and the taquitos were the stars of last week’s menu.  Actually…the wild rice soup was awesome too.  It is really great when there are no whammies on a menu.  All the recipe links are here.

It is the last week in May, and I am WAY over my grocery budget already.  I was hoping to get back on track by making smoothies instead of juice, but it has been a harder transition than I had hoped.  I have a freezer full of frozen fruit for smoothies, but have been buying tons of fresh stuff to accommodate Trevor’s desire for “doooooooce”.  It is hard for me argue with a 2yo that begs for kale, spinach, beet, celery, carrot, orange and apple juice.  I mean honestly.

So, I am resolved this week to only use items that I have on hand in order to give the bank account a break.  Yikes!  This will mean smoothies (sorry Trevor) using the frozen fruit, and only trips to the store for milk.  This should work given that we plan to skip eating at home two of the seven nights.

Monday:  Happy Memorial Day!!!  We will be going somewhere to eat some BBQ most likely.

Tuesday:  Salsa chicken tacos.  We will use corn tortillas, and add avocados, cheese and tomatoes.

Wednesday:  Creamy chicken and wild rice soup.  Replay from last week.  It was so good, AND this is a “use it up” week for us.

Thursday:  Dave and I will be going out to dinner for our 4th wedding anniversary.  Yay for date night!

Friday: Cheesy pesto chicken bake.  I will be making my own pesto in the Vitamix.  Hope it turns out well!

Saturday:  French toast with carmalized bananas.  Inspired by this recipe, but I will be using whole grain bread and whole milk for the egg mixture.

Sunday:  We do not have any seafood on hand except some frozen pub battered halibut that has been in the freezer for longer than I care to admit.  Not a real food option sadly.  We will be having soup again (ya know…to use it up) that I will pull from the freezer.  Can I tell you how much I appreciate having cooked ahead?!?

In closing, I am reflecting on Memorial Day, and how its significance reaches far beyond the BBQs, and the day we get off work.  I am humbled by the service and sacrifice of those that have made the US safer.  May we never forget what you have done for us, and may we live lives worthy of your gift.

Dinner Menu for the week of May 20th

Before I get into the menu for this week, I have a request for you…  Please make these fajitas, and then make them again.  They were on last week’s menu, and they turned out so amazing.

It is shaping up to be a busy week for me, so many of the items on this week’s menu will be easy ones.

Here we gooooooo……

Monday:  Fajita chicken burritos from the freezer and a fresh green salad.

Tuesday:  Chicken Parmigiana cutlets over whole wheat spaghetti.  YUM!

Wednesday: Creamy chicken and wild rice soup.  Leftovers will go into the freezer for another night.

Thursday:  Mexican-Style quinoa salad.  Leaving out the onions/shallots, and using diced roma tomatoes since that is what I will have on hand.

Friday:  Beef taquitos.  Did not have a chance to rock some fresh corn tortillas last week, so maybe this will be my chance?

Saturday:  Poached eggs with Asparagus.  I am planning to use bacon instead.

Sunday:  Blackened Salmon with mango avocado salsa and steamed broccoli

BTW, still warming up to my Vitamix.  Cannot get used to the smoothie consistency, so  Juicy will not be retired just yet.  :/  “Vita” (her new name) may be redeemed when the dry container is delivered this week.  Hoping to begin grinding my own wheat and corn.

Happy cooking friends!

Dinner menu for the week of May 13th

Another week of meal planning is here. Already.

On Friday, my little sis and her family came up to visit.  It was a great weekend of fun and relaxing with a teeny tiny break from real food, though I did still try to make good choices when available.

In other news, Juicy may be on her way out in favor of my new VITAMIX!!!  It is so very different, in both good and bad ways.  I really do prefer actual juice over smoothies, but there is so much less waste with my new tool.  It should reduce our fresh produce spending drastically.  It is not only me that misses the pure Juicy kind of juice.  Trevor has left several full glasses of green smoothie juice around the house.  Hope I can get the consistency and taste right in the coming week.

These are the items on our dinner menu:

Monday:  Left over chicken.

Tuesday:  Chicken pot pie.   Like most things, I modify this recipe.  I make my own whole wheat crust, I use whole wheat flour in the filling, and I will be using chicken that cooked most of the day in the crock pot.  Hands down, the very best whole chicken I have ever made!  I will use the carcass to make stock overnight.

Wednesday:  Salad with black beans, quinoa, apples and almonds.  I  will try to find a suitable dressing to make, or it may end up being oil and balsamic vinegar.

Thursday:  Potato soup made in the Vitamix on Sunday with BLTA sandwiches.

Friday:  Grilled steak and veggie fajitas.  I might try to make some corn tortillas from scratch.  Emphasis on might given how the flour ones turned out.  :/

Saturday:  We did not have dinner at home on Saturday last week, so I will be giving the quiches another go.

Sunday: Lemon garlic salmon steamed in foil on the BBQ with brown rice and zucchini.

Every week there seems to be something that makes it on menu that I cannot wait to cook up.  This week it is the fajitas.  Last week it was the shrimp and quinoa with avocado and orange salsa.  It was SO amazing.  Lived up to the dreams that I had been dreaming about the dish.   Both visually appealing, and terrific flavor!

ShrimpQuinoa

 

For those that are mothers, I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day, and that you were celebrated today!  Enjoy your week!

Menu for May 6th – 12th

I am SO aware that this post is a day late.  Being gone for several days requires some rest before jumping right back into the swing of things.

Here is what is in the dinner plan for this week.  Several of these things are new to my recipe box, so I am excited to experiment.

Monday – We had defrosted and re-heated chicken burritos.

Tuesday – Honey lime pork tenderloin with wild rice and either asparagus or broccoli.  Leaving out the sesame oil, and subbing olive oil for the processed canola.

Wednesday – Chef salad with diced ham, egg, avocado, cheese and avocado dressing.  Dressing will be made with organic greek yogurt instead of mayo, and a bit less oil.

Thursday – Potato soup with whole wheat biscuits

Friday – Chicken with beans, tomatoes and corn grilled in foil.  I will be changing this up a bit.  I plan to use fresh tomatoes instead of canned, whole fat jersey cheddar, and olive oil instead of pam.

Saturday – Quiche with cheese and bacon

Sunday –  Sauteed shrimp over orange/avocado quinoa.  Cannot wait to see how this turns out!

Here’s to a great week with no whammies!

Cookapalooza

There is something about pressure that makes me react. I am best in the space between the very last minute, and a deadline. I was always the kid that did not do homework until the night before it was due. You would have thought that the many long nights would have taught me to plan better.

I knew about my impending four day conference for months. As the days drew near, I began to make lists of the many things that needed to be accomplished prior to getting on that plane. While I started on the laundry and packing, and other tasks, I left the cooking for the Sunday before I left. It was a LONG day, but it made me feel like there were solid options available for my boys to eat while I was gone.

Here is what was made and the links to the recipes used.

  • Refried beans that cooked overnight Sat night, and were ready first thing in the morning.  Used the beans in the burritos below, and put some in the freezer.
  • Chicken in the crock pot used for burritos
  • Another batch of granola (Some for home and some to bring with me on the trip)
  • Zucchini muffins For the freezer
  • Whole wheat waffles Divided into quarters and put in the freezer
  • Chicken Enchilada soup Put in quart ziplock freezer bags.  Uh…make this people.  Delish!  Just a few changes made to the recipe though, mainly because of what I had on hand.  I used three potatoes and one sweet potato.  I used cannellini beans for the white beans, and I used a homemade taco seasoning.  SO much cheaper than store bought, and I know what it contains.  Also, skip the transfer-to-a-blender step, and use an immersion blender.
  • Quinoa bites  These turned out SO fabulous, and all three boys really like them.  How cute are they?!?!

quinoabites

Sadly, there was one notable epic fail.  I was very excited to try out my new tortilla press and cast iron skillet for making whole wheat tortillas.  I did something so, so wrong.  It could have been that I added too much oil, or that I let them sit out too long before cooking, but they were hard, and stiff, and greasy.  Booo.  I am determined to make them again, so stay tuned for stories of success next time.

I was feeling quite accomplished, until the time came to clean.  Ugh.  No thanks….

mess

After all of the cooking (and cleaning) was done for the day, we had broiled scallops and Parmesan Zucchini for dinner in an effort to cook up the remaining fresh items from the farmers market trip the day before.  Both items were amazing and required almost no additional cleaning!

In the days before I left, I cooked up some chicken breast for the boys, assembled the burritos using the chicken above, and set aside several food items to take on my trip.

I have been here in Salt Lake City for two full days. Man…sure is HARD to eat clean while away from home.  I did bring a few things that work for breakfast, and there are some good fruit options for lunch.  Dinner has been a real challenge.

Heading home Sunday afternoon, where the week and menu planning begins again.  Cannot wait to hug those men of mine, and to fire up Juicy.

Real Food – The recap, and our “Why”

I am LATE with my update today.  I am tired.  The kind of tired that hurts.  This is a combination of mind numbing training for the last four days, and all of the food prepping/planning from the last week or so.

Yesterday’s recap:

Yesterday started to fall apart at lunch.  Dave forgot to pack something to bring with him to work, and ended up having portions of what was catered for his lunch meeting.   He chose spanish rice, and refried beans from the fajita plates that were delivered.  Spanish rice was made with white rice, so….yeah.  For dinner, his boss wanted to take him out to dinner because another college was in town, and there was no righting the ship.  Really hard to eat out unless you are in the kitchen with the chef watching him cook.  😦  Who wants to be that patron that asks what all is in the sauce or salad dressing.  Especially when it is not due to an allergy.   I survived the day without taking a dive into a tub of chocolate, and even maintained real food eating habits until tonight when I was sitting in front of a whole mess of yummy cookies and mini cakes.  I had one, and it was a-mazing.

I have been asked about the reasons why we made this pledge.  There are several answers to that question.  The main reasons were a family history of high cholesterol, and a desire to influence a palate for our boys while they are young for healthy food instead of processed food.  I would say this has been a long time coming.

When I was pregnant with Trevor, I had a crisis of conscience of sorts.  I knew I needed to eat better, but was not really sure what that meant.  Our first change was to move to organic meat and dairy.  This became much more of an issue for us after watching the movie Food Inc.  When Trevor was born, I made his food, and we tried to make a switch to organic produce when possible.  I should note that while we did change meat, dairy and produce choices, Dave and I never eliminated processed food or sweets from our diet.

Fast forward to the arrival of sweet Lucas last April, and the realization that Trevor would require a bit of developmental therapy.  I went on a mission to research things that could be causing the developmental delays.  As a family, we commited to ridding our home of chemicals, and we also changed to exclusively using a chemical free manufacturer of  personal care products to limit chemicals that are applied to our skin.  One HUGE area of hypocrisy remained our diet.  How can I really say that we are eliminating chemicals, if we are still eating them.  Again, I did not know what to avoid, or how.

The turning point came when I stumbled upon a website that I was using mainly for recipes.  I began reading her story, and the steps that she took in her family to eliminate processed food from her diet.  We began making small changes to the way we ate at home.  We replaced sugar with maple syrup and honey, and eliminated vegetable and canola oils from cooking.  The small changes were easy, but could we make a 10 day pledge?  It took me a LONG time to decide that we could commit.

While trying to pick a 10 day stretch that would give us the best chance to succeed, I watched a documentary called Hungry For Change.  Everything changed.  It was time, and this documentary was what I needed to get moving.  Thus…April 1st began our 10 days of real food.

One big struggle I have, is what to do with all of this information.  I cannot unlearn the things that I learned in the books or documentaries.  It is knowledge that demands a choice.  While I am glad that the 10 days are done, there will certainly be portions of our 10 day pledge that remain in some form or another going forward.  Juicy is here to stay!  I read that if you can maintain healthy eating habits 80% of the time, then you are doing great.  I want to aim for more like 90/10 while at home, but know there will be times when we are out, or the boys are away from home, and I will not be able to control what they are eating.   I need to be realistic.

I may have to tell other parents that my kids will not be eating the cupcake or whatever treat is being offered, and I am not looking forward to those tough convos honestly.  I need to know my audience, and choose how much detail I give when talking about the changes we are making as a family.  It can sound soap-boxy, and it do not want to come off as judgmental at all.  My choice does not have to be someone else’s choice.

Having said that, should you be interested in learning more, here are some resources that really helped me understand why it was time to make a change.

Books:

In Defense of Food

The Unhealthy Truth

Feeding Baby Green

Documentaries:

Food Inc.

Hungry for Change (Watch in parts on You Tube)

Forks over Knives

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead

Fresh

Websites:

www.100daysofrealfood.com

www.unconventionalkitchen.com

www.weelicious.com

iPhone Apps:

Fooducate (Tells you the ingredients of any food that contains a bar code, and also helps identify if it contains any possible GMOs.  AMAZING.  Get this!)

ShopNoGMO

Happy eating friends!

Real Food – Day 10

Yes!  We can do hard things!  One.day.left!

Yesterday:

High – Dave worked from home, and did SUCH a good job with all of the meals.  It would have been so easy to grab easy, pre-made food for himself and the boys, but he stuck to the plan.  <Beaming>

Low – I was gone from 8am to 8pm.  LONG day, and it was awful to be gone for both lunch and dinner.  Had to let go of a bit of control.  Grumble.

Breakfast was a very safe, tropical juicy.  The boys ended up having oatmeal instead of defrosted french toast.

Another day of class, and another day of tempting pastries.  Today: my kryptonite…pumpkin bread.  It was like even Salesforce was conspiring against me.  Jerks.

I ate a pb&j, granola, a pear and some carrots for lunch.  The string cheese did not make it into my bag, and I did not eat the Lara bar.  Dave was working from home, so he ate the spinach salad that I claimed he ate the other day.  Turns out it was not eaten, so that was an easy lunch.  I am so very shocked that he wanted to avoid the mac and cheese.  Odd.  The boys had yogurt, applesauce and avocado.  Trevor also had a pb&j.

Dinner was supposed to be pork chops, zucchini and sweet potato.  Dave did have all of the ingredients to make the pork chops, but the recipe required a bit too much prep and cooking time with two minions present while working from home.  Plus, the sweet potatoes that I thought were in the fruit basket were actually already used on Saturday.  He called an audible, and made zucchini, spaghetti with red sauce and some Italian sausage that I got at the farmers market over the weekend.  Both boys really enjoyed dinner.

Dave and I had our parent class, so our dinner was eaten in the car.   The snacks at class were acceptable.  Cheese and fruit mainly.  I again was the lady checking the ingredients.  Honestly, it is not embarrassing any more, and I know how to quickly scan for the prohibited items.  BTW, did you know that orange/yellow cheese is artificially colored?!?!  Some do use naturally derived colors, but still color nonetheless.  Why why why?

I am in day 3 of class today, so we have a “plan” again.  I am prepared for things to derail, and that will have to be ok.  Breakfast did go as planned though with juicy and french toast for the boys.

We have a combination of my mama and our sweet babysitter Whitney hanging with the boys today.  Fun fact: I babysat for Whitney and her brother when they were little.  I met their family and began working for them when she was only 4!!! #howamisoold  There is a list of items that they can eat for both lunch and dinner including banana, avocado, zucchini, pear, and the remaining pasta.  I even broke down and bought some “squeezers” in the event that the options run out.

Dave is scheduled to have a lunch meeting tomorrow that will be catered.  :/  Not sure if there will be anything provided that will work, but we shall see.  This type of situation is most definitely the biggest challenge when trying to make better food choices.  It is hard to know what is in or what is used to cook your food when you are away from home.  I brought an apple, more granola, a grilled cheese and my Lara bar.  Maybe I will eat it today since it has been in my purse for three days.

Dinner for us is TBD.  It may be one of those nights where you stand in front of the fridge for a few minutes looking for inspiration.  Who knows, I might go mac and cheese.  Ha.

Last real food recap will come tomorrow.  Did I mention that we can do hard things?!?!