Monday, April 21, 2014

Menu plan for the week of April 21

Last week, we had another winning meal!  I already told you we loved the Turkey Ranch Club Wraps.  We also liked the Chicken Taco Casserole.  Five out of five Bluefields liked this dish, which is extremely rare.  AKD even offered to eat the leftovers, which never, and I do mean never, happens.  As in, this was a first.  I'm happy to find another recipe to add to our rotation--it's so easy to fall into a rut where meal planning is concerned.  All of the Bluefields liked the Hawaiian hamburger buns as well.  They were not as soft as King's Hawaiian, but they tasted exactly the same.

This week, it's not so much that we're needing to eat on the go, as we are needing to eat in shifts.  One night, MC has karate from 4:30-5:30 and AKD has soccer from 5:45-7:15.  AKD will eat before soccer and MC will eat after karate.  Another night, AKD has soccer again from 5:45-7:15, while Bubby needs to be at school to get ready for his concert at 6:15.  Soups lend themselves well to eating in shifts, as do sandwiches and wraps.  You will find both on our menu this week.  Challah, Vanilla Challah French Toast, and Bean & Egg Breakfast Burritos are back on the menu this week, since I didn't get to them last week.

On the menu this week:

--Grilled Pesto Chicken kabobs, broccoli/cauliflower/carrots, peaches
--Taco Bean Soup
--Grilled Chicken (grill extra for a future supper/lunches), salad, garlic toast, corn on the cob
--Pizza Casserole (from the freezer), green beans, applesauce
--Tacos with veggie toppings
--Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos (made with Chicken Chili Verde), corn & black bean salsa, salad, fresh fruit
--Sunday Night Stew over cream cheese mashed potatoes (this is the best stew ever.  For sure eat it with the mashed potatoes--so good!) with Hawaiian rolls (from the freezer)


Breakfast/other:

--Giant Cinnamon Roll Cake
--Challah Bread
--Vanilla Challah French Toast
--Bean & Egg Breakfast Burritos

Your turn: what's on your menu this week?  What meals do you have in your repertoire that work well to be eaten in shifts?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

On the Go Meal: Turkey Ranch Club Wrap

Well, AKD had his first soccer practice.  I asked how it was, and he said it was very, very ... runny.  As in, they did a lot of running, NOT whatever else runny may mean to you in this or any other context.

Hubby went to the parent meeting, and apparently it's not just games Monday, Wednesday* and practice Tuesday, Thursday.  There's practice on Sunday, too.  Yay.  We've boarded this high-speed train and there's no disembarking 'til we reach our destination so...away we go!

* Hubby wishes me to inform you that there aren't games every Monday and Wednesday.  In fact, there are only 3 weeks between now and July 9, when the season ends (unless they make the state tournament) on which the team has games both Monday and Wednesday.

On Monday I told you that we were going to be eating a lot of on-the-go meals, beginning with Turkey Ranch Club Wraps.  I am pleased to tell you that they were a big hit.  So now I shall share the recipe, such as it is, with you, my friends and readers, to add to your on-the-go meal repertoire.  You're welcome.  And feel free to return the favor.

I didn't take any pictures because, well, who knew everyone would like this so much?  I wasn't planning on sharing.  So I borrowed one from here.  Mine didn't look quite like that, because I tweaked a few things, but you get the idea.  To make this even healthier, use fat free dressing or Greek yogurt and turkey bacon.


TURKEY RANCH CLUB WRAP ********** Recipe
{Source}
You will need:
  • Whole wheat tortillas or wraps (I used Azteca UltraGrain tortillas)
  • Ranch dressing (I used Kraft Peppercorn Ranch)
  • Thin sliced Deli turkey
  • Grated cheese (I used cheddar)
  • Bacon--fried crisp
  • Tomato--thinly sliced
  • Spinach leaves (or other lettuce-y type thing)
  • Optional (but very yummy): Other veggies, grated, julienned, or thinly sliced, like carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers.  I used grated carrots.
Use what you like, and what you have on hand.

To assemble:
  • Cook bacon, grate cheese, cut tomato and prepare other veggies
  • On each tortilla, spread ranch dressing.  I used about a teaspoon per tortilla, but adjust based on how much you like ranch.
  • Cover tortilla with thin sliced turkey.  Mine took 2 slices per tortilla.
  • Place tomato slices and other sliced veggies down the center of the tortilla.
  • Sprinkle the center with grated cheese and any grated or julienned veggies.
  • Place spinach or lettuce leaves down the center of the tortilla.
  • Put bacon strips on top.  I used 2 strips of bacon per wrap.
  • Fold up the bottom 1/4 or so of the tortilla, then roll up from one side, leaving the top open.
  • Place, seam side down, on a serving platter, OR if you're making these for a portable meal, wrap each one in plastic wrap, wax paper, or foil.  Label the wrap with special orders (for instance, two of my children insist that they don't like cheese, {even though one of them eats cheese sticks like...well, like he loves cheese}, so I labeled their wraps "no cheese")
That's it!  Enjoy!

Now it's your turn.  What are your favorite on-the-go meals?  Please help me out, here.  Because even though everyone loved this, I suspect they do not wish to eat it up to 4 times a week for the 3 months of soccer season.

Monday, April 14, 2014

It Has Begun and Meun plan for the week of April 14

It has begun.

Spring sports season.  For the first time ever, all three of my children are participating in sports at the same time.

Cue sinister music.

All three of them are playing soccer.  Bubby and MC play and practice just one evening a week.  Different nights, but still, just one night each.  No biggie.

 But AKD is playing travel soccer.  We were just informed that practices are Tuesdays and Thursdays and games are Mondays and Wednesdays.  Every week.  That's four nights a week. 

Now you might be wondering to yourself, why would they sign him up for that if they didn't want to do all that running?  Here's the deal.  We did not sign him up for 4-nights-a-week soccer.  We signed him up for Monday-Wednesday-maybe-the-occasional-Saturday-or-Sunday-practice soccer.  Unfortunately, the coach doesn't agree that that's what we signed up for. *Sigh* 

{I should note that it would be a different story if this was a school team and the practices were immediately after school.  That would mean I would only have to run him one way and most likely the practices would be done before supper time.}

Anyway, it is what it is, and we'll figure it out.  As a consequence, we're going to be eating on the go a lot for the next couple of months, which means we'll be eating portable meals. 

Portable meals should be nutritionally balanced meals that include whole grains, healthy carbs, and protein, and aren't particularly messy.  Oh, and it helps if they can be made ahead of time and eaten cold.  Sandwiches and wraps lend themselves perfectly to this model.  Up first--Turkey Ranch Club Wraps: a whole wheat tortilla spread with light ranch dressing, and layered with turkey, bacon, cheese, and spinach or romaine.  You could even add grated carrots and match-stick bell peppers to boost the nutrition.

What are your favorite portable meals?

On the menu this week:

--Spaghetti, green beans, garlic bread
--Turkey Ranch Club Wraps
--Lasagna Soup, salad, carrots
--Chicken Taco Casserole, broccoli, mandarin oranges
--Hamburgers with homemade Hawaiian rolls, grilled asparagus, green stuff
--Grilled Pesto Chicken and Tomato Kabobs, broccoli/cauliflower/carrot medley
--Ham, two cheese squash casserole, green beans with shallots & hazelnuts, applesauce

Breakfast/other:

Homemade Hawaiian Bread
Challah Bread
Vanilla Challah French Toast
Bean & Egg Breakfast Burritos
Spring S'mores Bars

Friday, April 11, 2014

MC's Birthday and The Minecraft Cake


My middlest child turns 11 today. 


 
Love that boy.
 
Photo
 
 
Love that giggle and that smile :)
 
We celebrated with a few friends last week, and today we'll eat pizza, open presents, eat (another) cake, and watch a movie.  Love it.
 
 
 MC wanted a Minecraft cake.  After consulting with my people (that would be AKD and Pinterest), I decided on this configuration.  It's super easy, but looks impressive.  My kind of cake.

 
Super Easy Minecraft Cake
 
1. Start with your raw materials.  I used:
  • Dirt: chocolate cake baked in a 13x9" pan--you could also use brownies
  • Cobblestone: Rice Krispie bars with a few dark chocolate multi-grain cheerios mixed in--you could also use cocoa krispies or half rice/half cocoa.  I put a full recipe into a 9" pan to make them approximately the same thickness as the cake.
  • Lava & water: Jell-O prepared with half the water to make it firmer and easier to work with.  Two 3 oz boxes of Jell-O, prepared in a 9x5" loaf pan, yielded blocks that were about half as high as the dirt and cobblestone blocks.
 
2. Use a straight edge to cut the materials into blocks.  I used two wooden rulers taped together, and my blocks were about 2.5" square.
 
3. Start placing blocks.  Can you see the waterfall on the right descending into the lake?  AKD's idea.  And notice the water in the cobblestone cave in the back right?  Also AKD's idea.  Use toothpicks or wooden skewers to hold everything together (just remember to watch out for them when you're serving the cake). 
 
*Note--if you're using jello for water or lava, try placing the cake on a light colored board for contrast--as you can see (or can't see), the dark color of my tray makes it kind of difficult to see the water in my photo. 
 
4. When you have the configuration you like, frost the exposed tops of dirt blocks with green-tinted frosting, using a grass tip (Ateco #133 or Wilton #233). 
 
I used free printables to decorate the cake, but if you want to make it easier on yourself, you can buy Minecraft figures in the toy section at the Bullseye store.  Maybe other places, too.  I would have used those, but when the final decision on cake style came down I didn't have time to get to the store to buy them. 
 
How about you?  Any Minecraft fans in the house?  Gonna try this cake?  Let me know in the comments :)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Menu plan for the week of April 7

Busy week this week, but I still wanted to take a couple of minutes to let you know what on the menu.  So, without further ado:

Supper

-- Rice Burgler (a family recipe consisting of ground beef, browned, and mixed with whole grain brown rice and vegetables.  It's a quick and easy one pot meal, filled with nutrition), applesauce
-- Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole (from the freezer--another one pot meal), mandarin oranges
-- Crescent Breakfast Casserole (one of my favs...breakfast for dinner.  This one is simple and delicious: crescent rolls on the bottom, breakfast sausage, cheese, and egg.  I can make it ahead of time, then just pour the egg mixture over when I'm ready to bake), strawberries
-- Spaghetti, green beans
-- MC's birthday meal (Pizza, of course!), salad, ice cream dessert
-- Out to eat
-- Mystery shopping date

Snacks/Other:

-- Toasty whole grain orange muffins
-- Chocolate peanut butter no bake cookie nests with jelly bean eggs

What are you eating this week?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Menu Plan for the Week of March 31

Don't you find meal planning restrictive?  What if you don't feel like cooking what you had planned on a particular day? 

I do not find meal planning restrictive, not at all.  In fact, I feel like meal planning gives me freedom.  Freedom from having to worry about what's for supper every night.  Freedom to know that I've got nutritious food ready to go for my family.  Freedom from the daily trip to the grocery store to pick up ingredients. 

A plan is just that, a plan, and I think of my plan as more of a guideline.  It enables me to create my grocery list, and helps me remember what to cook during the week.  But if I'm just not feeling it that day, or if my day has been particularly busy and I don't feel like cooking, the plan is subject to change. 

For instance, last Tuesday was a crazy busy day for me and my family.  Tuesdays are always our most busy day, but adding in 2 dentist appointments (one of which was unplanned) and an extra volunteer shift, along with an out-of-town husband, to that Tuesday really did me in.  When it was time for supper, I was exhausted, and I wasn't even done yet.  So I deferred the meal that was on the menu for that day to be served later in the week, and we instead ate a combination of leftovers, convenience foods, and oatmeal.  There may or may not have been ice cream involved as well.  Hey--Bubby's dentist told me he should eat ice cream.  Everyone still had a fruit or a vegetable, so it was all good.  In less extreme circumstances, I move the meals or side dishes around in a particular week all the time, based on how I'm feeling or how busy I am.

With that said, here's what I am currently planning to serve this week:

Suppers:
-- Cub Scout dinner (no, we're not eating Cub Scouts.  We're eating with Cub Scouts.  There's a difference)
-- Grilled Cheese sandwiches with fries and carrots; Cupcakes for dessert--April Fools!
-- Cracked-out Chicken Noodle Casserole (from the freezer) with green beans
-- Tator-tot Casserole (double and freeze extra) with peaches
-- Pizza with tossed salad
-- Grilled Pork Chops, rice/veg medley, corn, applesauce
-- Nachos

Snacks/Other:
-- Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Tortilla Chips
-- Crunchy Granola Bars
-- Guacamole

What's on your menu for the week?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bubby Lost a Tooth

Bubby lost a tooth yesterday.

But not just any tooth.  Bubby lost his special tooth yesterday.

The one that started chipping away when Bubby was less than a year old until that one tooth looked like two tiny little fangs hanging down.


The one on which Bubby had a root canal when he was two.  Two!

The one that we were told probably wouldn't fall out on its own.


The one that stubbornly held on for months after its compatriot fell, forcing his permanent tooth into an awkward position behind it and to the side.


And it didn't just fall out.  It was plucked skillfully from Bubby's mouth by quite possibly the best pediatric dentist ever.  With actual pliers that looked an awful lot like the ones I have in my kitchen drawer.  And there was a sucking swoosh and then a popping sound.  And lots of gauze that should have been white but wasn't anymore.


Honestly!  The things these medical professionals expect us mamas to be able to witness without our brains shutting down in favor of shunting blood to our vital organs.  Sheesh!

This was an unplanned procedure that we knew would have to happen eventually--at Bubby's regular check-up that morning, his dentist strongly encouraged us to come back later that day to take care of it before further damage could be done.  Which we did.


Thankfully, Bubby came through with flying colors ... and I did not end up on the floor.  The dentist is hopeful that the permanent tooth will pop back into its proper place.  She also seems to think that the enamel defect to which Bubby's baby tooth fell victim will not affect his permanent tooth (praise God).

This was the scene later that night.  Bubby's faithful tooth monster gazed on protectively, cradling Bubby's special tooth in his mouth, and awaiting a visit from the tooth fairy, as the sleeping Bubby warmed up Daddy's side of the bed.


The tooth fairy left a special surprise for Bubby this time, in honor of Bubby's special tooth.  It's perfect, don't you think?


Love the teeth.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Menu plan for the week of March 24

So we made these Chicken Guacamole Enchiladas last week, and I loved them!  Like, I could not get enough of 'em.   They were so good.

(By the way, it is so nice to have cooked, cubed chicken breasts in my freezer, ready to add to casseroles.  I will bake a 3 or 5 pound bag of frozen chicken breasts when I need some cooked chicken for a recipe, cube it up and freeze the extra for future use.  Because I already had cooked chicken Hubby and I were able to put the enchiladas together in just a few minutes.)
 
Funny story.  I was originally going to make these on Tuesday, but didn't feel like it, so I put it off.  So then I was going to make them on Thursday, but that morning I realized that I had neglected to add enchilada sauce to my grocery list, and therefore did not buy enchilada sauce.  So I made my own.  But then I discovered that my husband had taken the tomato that had been earmarked for the guacamole to work that very morning.  Oops.  Those extra 2 days of sitting around in the fridge might be a contributing factor as to why the enchilada sauce was so spicy.  Or perhaps the jalapeños were hotter than normal...and I might have been a little overzealous in my application of jalapeños in both the sauce and the guacamole.

In any case, everyone else thought the enchiladas were too spicy.  Hubby was strangely silent on the matter.  Because he is a wise man. 

Anyway, highly recommend.  If you prefer a more bland flavor, feel free to use commercially prepared enchilada sauce and guacamole.  As for me, I will never to go back to canned enchilada sauce--homemade is much tastier and very easy to prepare--I'll just be a little more careful with the jalapeños next time.

And here's what we're having for supper this week:

--Pizza casserole (from the freezer), broccoli/cauliflower/carrot medley
--Chicken tacos (seasoned this way; double & freeze extra), tortillas, lettuce, tomato, mandarin oranges
--Spaghetti, green beans, garlic toast
--Chicken pot pie (double & freeze extra--yes, you can just freeze the whole unbaked pie), tossed salad, peaches
--Pizza, carrots, applesauce
--Fish*
--Beef stroganoff (from a church cookbook, similar to this recipe), corn, bread

* You might have noticed that there are no side dishes listed for the fish.  This is because I do not eat fish, and consequently do not feel qualified to accessorize the fish.  Hubby will probably want fried canned, sliced potatoes, jello, and corn, if he has to have a vegetable.  Fish is on the menu to free up space in my freezer, which I feel could be better used storing something yummy, like cookies or oreo truffles.

What are you eating this week?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

I didn't bring a camera: Spring Break 2014

This past week was spring break for us.  It was a little strange for our spring break to actually encompass the first day of spring this year--our break is generally earlier.  It was also a little strange that we still had about 18 inches of snow on the ground (less in some places, much more in others) on the first day of spring.  OK, that wasn't really all that strange, considering this and this and this.

According to the children of the moms of two of my middlest child's friends, everyone was going somewhere for spring break.  Well, not everyone, because our three families stayed here.  One of the moms was annoyed, the other resigned.  And me?  I just wanted to stay busy.  Because busy is better when my kidlets are spending time with each other.

But I didn't bring a camera, and here's why.  This digital age has led our culture to experience our own lives through a viewfinder.  It's almost as if we believe if we don't post pictures to facebook or instagram, it didn't really happen.  Well, my friends, I'm here to tell you that it did happen, and I actually lived it instead of merely watching it unfold through a camera lens.

We started our break off with a bang on Monday by...cleaning.  Whoowee, was that fun!  OK, not really, but I was blown away to discover that we have 7 boxes of size 8 clothes down in the Bluefield Basement Boutique.  Why so many?  Um...I'm not sure.  It is possible that we have 7 or more boxes of size 10 or 12 or 14 or 16 clothes, but those are distributed in other places, on call for a couple of the children to wear at a moment's notice.  Would you like me to take a picture of the 7 boxes of size 8 clothes?  'Cause I don't mind experiencing that through the filter of a camera lens.

We also did laundry on Monday, and can I just ask y'all?  Why are boys so averse to changing their socks and underwear?  I found exactly half a pair of socks in one of my kids' laundry this week.  One sock.  In a week's-worth of dirty clothes.  Boys!

Tuesday was almost as fun as Monday--we ran errands.  I know.  I really know how to have a good time.  But here's the thing.  This might have been a vacation for the boys, but for me, it was working overtime.  Mamas don't get vacations.

One of the errands was getting the kiddos' pictures taken, which was long overdue. 




They are goofy and just so darn cute.  And poor MC.  He doesn't know how to smile on command, and hates making eye contact, even with a camera.  Pictures are hard for him.

Wednesday we went to a waterpark.  You know, the one with the really tall family raft ride, which we had to ride multiple times, and which I ended up going down backwards once (darn lifeguard spun the raft), which made me feel just an itty bit nauseous?  OK.  It was more than an itty bit.  Anyone else live in mortal fear of being the one that makes them shut down the waterpark because of barf in the water?  Good thing the line was long enough that I was able to rest in between runs...

Thursday was gorgeous: sunny and 50 degrees.  We headed for the state park across the street and found 7 out of 9 geocaches before the GPS battery pooped out on us.  We were soaked and exhausted by the time we were done (not unlike the waterpark, except we were fully clothed).  It was a glorious day.

Friday we headed to the dinosaur exhibit at the science museum.  While we were watching the movie, Bubby, my youngest, turned to me and said, "Mama, can I get a bird?"  I didn't know what to think.  It was out of nowhere, and birds have never been a particular interest of this child, or any of my children.  I just kind of ...stared... at him.  And then, perhaps sensing my confusion, he explained, "I want a pet dinosaur."  Oooooh.  Well, that makes sense.  And gosh darn it, I want him to have a dinosaur.  We decided it might be good enough to visit the dinosaurs AKD's buddies raise for eggs.

Today is Saturday.  The oldest child is going to go shoot guns.  The rest of us are going to hit the library to replenish our stack of DVDs and then head to the bullseye store (the closest the rest of us are going to get to shooting today) to take advantage of some deals that are ending today.  Sure hope we're not disappointed.

Sunday, we rest.  Or maybe go to the zoo.  Because why not?

And then Monday.  Back to the grindstone.

What did you/are you doing for spring break?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tortellini & Italian Sausage Soup

This hearty soup makes a good-sized pot--perfect to serve with crusty bread and a tossed salad for a filling meal.  I like to freeze the leftovers in individual portions for future lunches.  Use hot Italian sausage to make it a little spicier, or mild sausage for a milder soup.
 
 
Tortellini & Italian Sausage Soup
1 pound bulk Italian sausage*
2 T olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T dried Italian seasoning
6 c. chicken broth
3 14.5 oz cans Italian-style diced tomatoes, drained**
20 oz bag frozen cheese tortellini
  • Crumble the Italian sausage into a skillet, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink.  Drain and set aside
  • Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 3-4 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and Italian seasoning; cook 1 minute.  Stir in broth and tomatoes**; heat to simmering.
  • Stir in sausage and tortellini; cook until tortellini is tender, about 10-12 minutes.
  • Serve with grated parmesan, if desired.

* Use 1 pound of Italian sausage links, if desired.  Steam until sausages are cooked through (10-12 min), then cut into slices, and brown in a skillet.  Drain on paper towels.

** I left the tomatoes diced. You can puree them in a food processor if you like--this makes the soup a little thicker and is a good option if you want to hide the fact that there are tomatoes in the soup.

Monday, March 17, 2014

My Date and Menu Plan for the week of March 17

This weekend I went on a date with AKD.  The movie that we wanted to see on the big screen finally made its way to our favorite second run theater, so we went to see it.  AKD's been asking to go to a certain national chain Italian restaurant for ...years... and there happens to be one near the theater, so we went there first.

I dislike going out to eat.  I am almost always disappointed.  Most of the time, I will sit there eating my meal and think, I could make this faster and cheaper, and it would taste better, too.  Granted, if I go out to eat, I don't have to cook, and I don't have to clean up, but when I'm paying such a large mark-up for food, I would like for it to at least taste good.  My date with AKD was no different.  Totally disappointed by my entrée, which I could have for less than 1/6th the cost.  Such a bummer.  AKD was disappointed, too.  He liked his meal, at least, but a crummy feeling started in his tummy about halfway through.

After dinner we popped over to the mall to complete a mystery shop involving frozen treats.  Yum!  Except AKD's tummy was feeling crummy, and my tummy was feeling very, very full, despite the fact that I ate less than half of my food (AKD thinks there was something wrong with the breadsticks...).  Oh well, we suffered through it, and went on to enjoy the movie.  But not very much because of the states of our tummies.

So why am I telling you this?  Number 1 because if you plan on taking me on a date, be prepared for it not to involve food, or at least not expensive food.  Unless it's ice cream.  And number 2, this is why while you will see it this week, you will rarely see "out to eat" on my menu plans.

And now, for your inspiration, the plan:

Supper:

--Shepherd's pie (from the freezer), Homemade whole wheat bread, applesauce
--Chicken guacamole enchiladas, Tossed salad, corn, strawberries
--Italian bow tie pasta bake, Broccoli/Cauliflower/Carrot medley, Mandarin oranges
--Fried ring bologna* with au gratin potatoes, applesauce, green beans
--Pork chops, grilled garlic toast, Brussels sprouts
--Peppered steak with Portobello sauce (didn't make this last week), mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus
--Out to eat

Snacks/other:

--Guacamole
--Whole wheat bread
--French toast made with Cinnamon swirl bread
--No bake peanut butter chocolate chip granola bars

* So, apparently, Hubby's mommy used to make this?  I say used to, because I'm pretty sure she doesn't make it anymore.  At least, she hasn't made it for me in the 22 years that I've known her... Sounds completely gross to me, but when I ask for ideas for meals from the fam, I need to be willing to follow through with their suggestions, so there it is.  Pray for us...and pray for our cholesterol.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

This is my 1000th post.

Well, sort of.  Blogger counts draft posts in its total, and I've got 10 or 11 unpublished draft posts hanging out.  So it's not my 1000th published post, but pretty close.  Amazing, isn't it?  Who would've thunk it?  Anybody have any ideas on how to celebrate the actual 1000th post when it gets here?

Anyway, you came for the cookies, so I'll get right to it.  I bought 3 king size packages of Reese's peanut butter cups the other day.  'Cause, you know, they're yummy.  And they only cost $1.  Total.  (That's about 8 cents each cup, by the way). 

I love Reese's peanut butter cups.  I mean, really, really love them.  I like them better than chocolate, and you all know how I feel about chocolate (Dove dark chocolate promises...mmmm).  But here's the thing.  There have been so many good chocolate deals lately that I have been overrun with chocolate.  That's why I set out to find a recipe with an eye to using some candy and reducing my stash.  I don't feel like we need to discuss why I didn't just pursue other chocolate-stash-reducing measures, like, for instance, eating it.

Anyway, I found this recipe, and it is so good.  It's like peanut butter cookie meets chocolate chip cookie with an infusion of chopped up Reese's peanut butter cups for good measure. In this case, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  I am in heaven.


Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

1/2 c. butter, softened (1 stick)
1/3 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla extract
1 c. + 2 T. all purpose flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
2 c. chopped peanut butter cups (about 5 ounces)

  • In a large bowl, cream together butter, peanut butter, and sugars until fluffy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla. 
  • Add flour, baking soda, and salt and mix well.  Stir in chocolate chips and peanut butter cups.
  • Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.  Bake at 350*F for 10-12 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.  Cool on pans for 2 minutes before removing to cooling racks.
  • Yield: 3 1/2 dozen

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Progress: 15 minutes at a time

Look what happened.
 


This, just in case your brain can't make sense of what your eyes are telling you, is my desk.  Without the legion papers, dishes, Legos and other random items that tend to congregate here.

How did this happen, you ask?  Well, my good friend (whom I haven't met yet), Beth Woolsey, has undertaken a Lenten Project.  She calls it:

Lent
 
Here's what Beth said about Lent: At its best, Lent isn’t about deprivation. At its best, Lent allows us to work in concert with Love to refill our souls.
 
During Lent, Beth has invited her community to undertake 15 minute projects each day, taking an area, like a desk, a bathroom drawer, or a toy basket, and purging.  Getting rid of all the stuff that weighs us down, freeing up space in our souls to be refilled by Love. 
 
Beth is a strong advocate for "Something is Better than Nothing" and "Half-A**ed is Good Enough", for which her family has developed a helpful acronym: HAGE.
 
I, like Beth, tend to be an all or nothing kind of girl.  If I won't be able to get it all done, I tend to not even start.  I stay stuck, stagnant.  I need to remember to apply the wisdom of Something is Better than Nothing and HAGE.
 
So, it's taken a while for me to get on the 15 minute projects train, because 15 minutes.  That's not enough time for all, so I tend to choose nothing.  But yesterday, inspired by this post, in which Beth explains how to declutter in 5 simple steps (check out #3--it's brilliant), I set my timer for 15 minutes.  And you can see what happened.  There's no before picture, because I really didn't believe 15 minutes would be enough.  Guess I was wrong.
 
There is something so freeing about setting that timer.  I can do just about anything for 15 minutes.  Even clean the bathtubs ... *shudder*.  Fifteen minutes is doable, and the timer gives me permission to walk away, even if the project isn't done.
 
Let me say that again: the timer gives me permission to walk away, even if the project isn't done.  Because I can give it another 15 minutes later.  And then another, and another, until it is done.  And in the meantime, I am doing something.  My progress is measurable.  And even if I am unable to do it all right now, I know that I will eventually.
 
Today, Bubby and I are working on this,
 
 
which isn't so bad, and this,
 
 
which is so bad.  And you can't even see into the jumble that is the toy box.
 
Lord, have mercy on us!
 
But look where 15 minutes got us to yesterday:
 
 
I suspect that this project will take us several more fifteen-minuteses to complete, and that's OK.  The enormity of the task is what's prevented me from taking it on until now.  Now, at least, there will be progress. And that's all that is really needed.  Movement.
 
Blessings, friends.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Menu Plan for the Week of March 10

Have you noticed (in all one of my previous menu plan posts) that I like to make extra food and stick it in the freezer for future meals?  Last week, we ate Baked Ziti from the freezer, and I made extra Pizza Casserole to freeze.  Some people call this freezer cooking.  I call it sensible.  It's not much more work to double or triple a freezer-friendly recipe, and you'll really appreciate being able to just pull something out of the freezer on busy days instead of getting take-out or serving cold cereal again.  You'll also appreciate being able to eat for 2 or 3 or 4 meals, but having to prep, and more importantly, wash dishes, only once.

This week, we are again eating a meal from the freezer and doubling a recipe to add to our stash of ready-made meals in the freezer.  I may do a future post about freezer cooking how-tos, but in the mean time just google "freezer cooking."

Try it--you might like it.

And now, what you've all been waiting for...

Here's what we're eating this week.

Supper:
--Chicken bundles (from the freezer--similar to this recipe, but we add onion soup mix instead of the onions and garlic salt), mixed vegetables, applesauce
--Tacos, carrots
--Creamy crock pot chicken and rice, broccoli/cauliflower/carrot medley (I might throw the veggies in the crock pot, too, to make this a one-pot meal)
--Make-ahead bacon mini meatloaves (I will be doubling this recipe and making 15 meatloaves so I can put some in the freezer for 2 future meals, and substituting ground turkey for some of the beef), mashed potatoes (from the freezer), oven roasted green beans
--Pizza, salad, peaches
--Peppered steak with Portobello sauce, salad, corn, leftover mashed potatoes
--Tortellini & Italian sausage soup (from this cookbook), easy homemade rolls (I made these last week and put half of them in the freezer)

Snacks/other:
--Spicy Camp Bars
--Black bean and egg breakfast burritos--I'll freeze these for easy grab and go lunches for Hubby
--Roasted Cinnamon-Sugar Chickpeas

Now it's your turn--what are you eating this week?
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