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Fun Gifts From UnCommonGoods

 

This is a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own. 

I need to confess. I find it difficult to shop for friends and family.  Since I can never come up with any great gift ideas, I regularly give gift cards. If you ever feel the same, I recommend checking out online retailer UncommonGoods. Founded in 1999 and headquartered in Brooklyn, New York, this website has tons of fun and unique gift ideas for everyone on your list. No joke, you can literally spend hours perusing all of the fun gifts that they carry (believe me, I know from personal experience!). They have gifts available in every price range from $10 themed socks to $500+ pieces of jewelry and custom artwork. Half of the items they sell on the site are handmade and a great way to support small business.  And with every purchase, UncommonGoods donates $1 to a Better to Give non-profit  partner of your choice! Here are some of the fun and unique gifts that you can find on their site.

Slate Cheese Board with Soapstone Chalk – ($24.00 for red board)  As a self-proclaimed foodie, when I entertain, there is always a cheese and cracker board.  I found this board super fun because the slate can be written on with chalk. I can label the types of cheeses that I put out and then wipe it clean for the next time.  I will admit that writing with the chalk takes some getting used to and the uneven slate adds to the difficulty. This board is made from natural slate that is sourced from a quarry in upstate New York.  The board is available in red or black and comes with a burlap bag, chalk and anti-slip padded feet.  I also love that this board is made in my home state of New York.  This is a great gift for a foodie or a nice hostess gift!

Shrub Trio Mix – ($38.00) If you are not familiar, shrubs are syrups made from a combination of fruit, sugar and vinegar.  Although, not new (they date back to the 15th century!), shrubs have recently become popular in the cocktail world.  This shrub trio mix is handmade locally in Hudson, New York and includes 8 fluid ounce bottles of Apple Coriander Maple, Concord Grape and Strawberry Rhubarb.  I made a non-alcoholic spritzer with the Strawberry Rhubarb shrub and seltzer.  While my husband found the drink refreshing, the kids and I found it bitter.  I found the taste similar to kombucha.  My husband can’t wait to make some cocktails with the different shrubs.  If you prefer wine, have no fear, UncommonGoods has you covered as well!

 Beer Cap Map – ($35.00) Do you have a craft beer lover in your life?  My husband enjoys drinking craft beers and was excited to receive this beer cap map for Father’s Day.  He is excited to sample different beers and display only the New York state brewed beer caps in this map.   UncommonGoods has a beer cap map for every state as well as a United States map.  If you really want to challenge yourself, you can try to visit different breweries in your state and fill your map with the caps.  This map measures 24” by 16” and is made of Baltic birch plywood.  If this doesn’t interest you, there are tons of other gift ideas for the special men in your life.

State Typography Art – ($40.00/print only) As a lifelong New Yorker, when I saw this state typography art I knew I had to have it.  Each 20” x 16” print has words including landmarks, major cities slogans and more in the outline of the selected state.  Almost every state is available and can be ordered framed or unframed.  I ordered an unframed print and purchased my own frame for a substantially lower price.  It looks great on our wall and reminds us of our beloved state!

This is only a sample of the variety of gifts that you can find on the UncommonGoods site.  They really do have items for everyone on your shopping list, no matter what the occasion!  Plus, many of the gifts can be personalized with names and dates.

What’s a fun and unique gift that you’ve bought or received?

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My 2017 Summer Reading List

If you haven’t realized it by now, I love to read.  However, I’m really bad about making a reading list and sticking to it.  My usual book reading habit is to put all the new releases that I want to read on hold at the library and then try to keep up reading them as they come in.  Forget about the tons of unread books collecting dust on my bookshelf.  Forget about the over 700 books on my Goodreads to-read list.  Fortunately, my reading habits will have to change this summer.  Earlier this month I wrote about the different road trips around New York state that I’m taking with the kids this summer.  I prefer not to take piles of library books with me.  So, this summer reading list includes six books off my own bookshelf!  Some of these books have been on my to read list for YEARS!  Several of the books I chose had “summer” right in the title and were seasonally appropriate.  Other books were YA, chick lit,  or suspense-type thrillers, since I prefer to read “lighter” books in the summer.  Here is my 2017 summer reading list, in alphabetical order:

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia –  This is A YA paranormal/fantasy book.  Not my normal genre, but it’s won several literary awards.  It was made into a movie in 2013 and is probably why I added it to my to read list back then, since I prefer to read the book before seeing the movie.

The Crush by Sandra Brown –  I used to read a lot more of Sandra Brown’s books but haven’t picked one up in a long time.  This one has been on my shelf forever and the only suspense/thriller out of my six books.

Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult – Picoult is one of my favorite authors.  This is one of the few books of hers that I haven’t read yet, even though it’s been on my shelf for years.  I know this book isn’t a light read, but I’m almost positive it will be a great read.

The Last Summer by Ann Brashares – I’m going to admit that I don’t have high hopes for this book.  I loved Brashares Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.  But I haven’t been a fan of the few YA stand-alones of hers that I’ve read.  This is a summer book and I get it off my shelf, so I’m going to give it a go.

One Summer by David Baldacci – I know Baldacci usually writes suspense/thriller books.  I’ve never read any of them, which is probably good.  I can read this book without expectations.  I’ve heard this book has been compared to those of Nicholas Sparks, and I usually love his books.

The Summer I Dared by Barbara Delinsky – I know very little about this book.  But I’ve read several of Delinsky’s other books and have enjoyed them.

Have you read any of these books?  What is on your summer reading list?

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Five on Friday {School’s Out!}

Today is the official kick-off of summer vacation for my kids.  This last week of school was filled with a class trip for my daughter, yearbook signings, and play dates. Last Saturday we went up to my in-laws to celebrate an early Father’s Day and a belated birthday for my brother-in-law. We have lots of fun and travel planned this summer and we are so excited!  Here are five from this week:

1. Father’s Day – We celebrated Father’s Day with a visit to Playland Park, a local amusement park here in Westchester County.  We couldn’t believe that my 9-year-old son had never been and the last time my daughter visited she was too young to remember.  So, we were long over-due for a visit!  We had such a fun time going on the rides together and eating some park food.

2.Mother/Daughter Lunch Date –  My daughter has had 1/2 days of school for the last week and a half.  Earlier this week we enjoyed a rare lunch date at a local steak house.  I ordered this prime rib wrap and she ordered a cheese steak.  She suggested we share which I of course was up for!

3. Watching – This week I watched very little television.  On one of her half-days of school my daughter and I watched Harriet the Spy:  Blog Wars on Netflix.  I have to say this movie was a bit cheesy, but she enjoyed it.  Since she’s been home, I haven’t been able to watch Housewives while I eat lunch, which used to be my normal routine!  So now I’m behind on Potomac and New York City!

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4. Reading  – I am almost finished with the YA book The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.  What a powerful, and thought-provoking read.

5. Baking – I was long overdue in muffin making.  After requesting Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins, I had my daughter help me make these from  Annie’s Eats.  We shared one warm, out of the oven and it was so good!

ICYMI this week on the blog:

2017 calendar
Monday I shared my last weekly meal plan.

Wednesday I wrote about Savor Westchester, the new dining experience at The Westchester.

Have a great weekend!  Linking up with Katie, Andrea and April!

 

 

Savor Westchester: Changing the Food Court Experience

*I was invited to a preview tasting of Savor.  All opinions are my own.

After visiting Savor Westchester, the new dining experience at The Westchester, you will never want to eat at an ordinary mall food court again.  After a year-long, multi-million dollar renovation, three of the six planned eateries are currently open.  Shoppers can currently choose from Mighty Quinn’s BBQ, Whitman’s and Australian-based coffee shop Bluestone Lane.  This is the first Westchester location for all three eateries, which all have establishments in NYC and other metropolitan areas.  Located on the fourth floor, Savor has plenty of seating as well as an outdoor patio.  SAVOR is adjacent to PLAY (a free 2,300 square foot play area)  and CONNECT (a technology lounge that contains flat screen televisions, work space and phone charging stations).  Here is a more detailed look at the three open eateries.

Mighty Quinn’s

Mighty Quinn’s is a BBQ restaurant  that cooks, “the old school way with plenty of wood and time.”  They offer traditional barbecue items including brisket, pulled pork, burnt ends, spare ribs and more.

Several of the meat options can be ordered naked or on a sandwich.

For those who prefer chicken, options include a half chicken, a crispy chicken sandwich or chicken wings.  Unfortunately the only vegetarian choice is a veggie burger.  They serve a variety of sides including pomme frites, onion rings, burnt end baked beans, sweet potato casserole, buttermilk broccoli salad, potato salad and mac and cheese.  Mighty Quinn’s serves beer both in bottles and on tap as well as glasses and bottles of wine.  Prices range from $7.50 for 6 chicken wings to $28.00 for a Brontosaurus Rib. Many of the meat choices can be ordered as a single serving, a half pound or full pound.

Whitman’s

Whitman’s serves a variety of salads and sandwiches.

They have several burger selections including a Green Chili Burger, Bacon Egg & Cheese Burger, and a PB & B Burger (that stands for peanut butter and bacon!).  If you’re not feeling a burger you can also order a grilled chicken club, a cheesesteak or a hot dog.

Whitman’s also offers a veggie burger on their menu as well as three different salads, including this Brussels Sprout Salad.  Prices range from $4.50 for a hot dog to $12 for most burgers.

Bluestone Lane

Bluestone Lane is an Australian-based coffee shop.

They offer an extensive menu of hot and cold coffee options using their own roasted beans.  A variety of tea and wellness drinks, like beetroot and matcha lattes, as well as fresh juices are also available.  Bluestone Lane is the place to go for lighter fare.

They sell a variety of toast including the infamous avocado smash, salmon toast and a turmeric sweet potato toast as well as a variety of pastries and sweets.

Have you visited SAVOR at The Westchester?  What is your favorite dish from these eateries?

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Weekly Meal Plan {Week 83}

2017 calendar
Hello Monday!  I am exhausted!  We had a very busy but fun weekend celebrating Father’s Day.  While I’m never happy for Monday to arrive, this week is the last week of school for the kids!  This also means summer vacation begins for me too!  I no longer have to awaken to a 6 AM alarm clock, pre-plan breakfasts and lunches or chauffeur the kids to and from their various activities.  This will also be the last week of our weekly meal plans for awhile. Since we will be traveling so much this summer, I won’t be creating very many meal plans.  If you follow me on Instagram, I’ll hopefully be posting more of my dinner food pics there.  Now, here’s a look at what was on our menu this past week:

Saturday – Last Saturday we were out geocaching  On the way home we picked up some takeout from a local Caribbean restaurant.  We shared a Curry Goat and Jerk Chicken dinner.  It was really good and we will definitely be back!

Sunday – We were out geocaching again and then made a quick stop at Woodbury Common Outlets since it was on the way home.  While there we stopped for some Shake Shack for dinner.  We love the Chicken Shack!

Monday – I made a Broccoli Rabe, Red Pepper and Roasted Garlic Frittata from the May 2017 issue of Cooking Light.  The original recipe called for broccolini but my local grocery store didn’t have any.  I substituted broccoli rabe.  The garlic prep takes 25-30 minutes of cooking, so I did that earlier in the afternoon and just left the garlic infused oil and roasted garlic on the counter until I needed to cook with them.  This was  a tasty frittata.  I served it with a salad for a nice, light dinner.

Tuesday – I made Buffalo Chicken Ziti from the February 2015 issue of Rachael Ray Every Day.  While I love almo st everything “buffalo” flavored, this pasta dish wasn’t a fave.  The buffalo sauce gets drizzled on the top at the end which worked out well.  My son complained that buffalo chicken is too spicy, so he had his pasta without the sauce.  Overall this dish was just okay.  I’d recommend either saving some blue cheese crumbles or having extra to sprinkle on the dish at the end.

Wednesday – I made Queso Crockpot Chicken Chili with Roasted Corn and Jalapeno from Pinch of Yum.  I have made this recipe before, but we enjoyed it so much and I needed a slow cooker recipe, so I decided to make this again. I did not put the jalapeno in for fear my son would think the dish was too spicy and not eat it.  I love serving this with tortilla chips and using the chili as a dip.  I actually went out to dinner but had this ready for the rest of the family to eat.  I was able to enjoy leftovers for lunch the next day though!

Thursday – I made Turkey Burgers with Special Sauce from the June 2006 issue of Cooking Light.  The special sauce is a mixture of mayo, Dijon mustard, scallions, orange juice, honey, soy sauce and ginger (which I left out since I don’t like it!).  The burgers had many of the same ingredients in them.  The sauce was a bit on the sweet side and was a nice addition to the burgers, which didn’t have much flavor, in my opinion.  There are so many better burger recipes out there that I won’t be making these again.  I served the burgers with curly fries.

Friday – I made Grilled Cheese with Apricot Jam and Arugula from Love & Olive Oil.  This was my husband’s request after he found the recipe online while helping me plan the menu.  This was quick and easy to make and was a winner with the family.  I haven’t made grilled cheese in awhile and this was a great version.  There was no additional prep work and the ingredients were simple but tasty.  The sweetness of the jam paired well with the bitterness of the arugula.  I served this with some sauteed zucchini.

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Five on Friday {Father’s Day Weekend}

Yeah for Friday!  This has been a fun but busy week.  The kids have less than a week of school and we are looking forward to summer!  Father’s Day is this weekend and unfortunately, the weather forecast isn’t looking that great.  This may have an impact on our weekend plans, but keeping my fingers crossed!  Here are five from this week:

Reading:  I recently finished reading The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman.  This was a really enjoyable read that I highly recommend!  I’m currently reading Sarah Jio’s Always.  I’ve only read one other of hers but loved it, so hoping this one’s good as well!

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Watching:  This past week I watched the movie Before I Fall.  I recently read the YA book and have to say, like in most cases, the book was so much better. I also watched the movie A Dog’s Purpose with the family.  I had mixed feelings about watching it after hearing about the alleged abuse of the animals when filming.  However, we all watched it and really liked it.  I will admit, it had me in tears several times.

Eating:  This week I was invited to a tasting of some of the restaurants in the new food court at a local, upscale mall.  Not only did I get to meet some local bloggers and Instagram friends, but I also got to enjoy a tasty lunch!  This crispy chicken sandwich with honey chile sauce was so good!

Outdoor Time:  Last weekend we visited two, new to us, state parks.  We went hiking/geocaching in both.  Despite the heat on both days, the kids were troopers and we found new caches.

Local Attractions:  Last weekend we also visited a Washington Irving’s Sunnyside.  We visited the American author’s home overlooking the Hudson River.  This was our family’s first time visiting the historic site.

ICYMI this week on the blog:

2017 calendar

Monday I shared our weekly meal plan.

Tuesday I shared my May Reads in the Show Us Your Book link up.

Wednesday I posted my first “5 Questions With….” interview with Chef Joel Gamoran.

Thursday I shared #NYSummer2017.

Linking up with Katie, Andrea and April! Have a great weekend!

 

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#NYSummer2017

When people think of New York, I’m pretty sure NYC is the first place that comes to mind.  However, having lived in the suburbs north of the city all my life, I can tell you that there’s so much more to this wonderful state.  A couple of months ago, my husband and I agreed that this summer was the perfect time for me to take our two children, ages 8 and 11, on an epic road trip of New York state.  Before we take on any more distant travels, we thought that it was important that the kids see as much of New York State as possible.  Planning this trip also made me realize how much of the state that I have never visited.

After several months of planning, I’ve narrowed down our road trip into four separate itineraries.  State parks, amusement parks and historical sites are all mapped out.

Our first leg will start July 19, after we spend 4th of July with my family in Rhode Island and celebrate my son’s 9th birthday. The kids and I will head to Albany, Saratoga, Lake George and the Lake Placid area. My husband will be joining us for a long weekend, but for most of the trip I’ll be traveling alone with the kids.

After a few days back home, my husband will be joining us for our second leg during the first weekend in August. All four of us will be traveling to the Buffalo/Niagara area and visiting Niagara Falls.

The third leg kicks off the second weekend in August, when the four of us will be heading up to Binghamton and Ithaca.  Part of this trip will include visiting Binghamton University and Cornell University, our alma maters.

The final leg of the trip will be in mid-August when I will take the kids to visit Corning, Rochester and Syracuse.

In between road trips, we will be exploring local attractions in Westchester and Dutchess counties as well as the Catskills.  Although we will be seeing a lot this summer, I know that this is only a small portion of all that there is to see and do in New York State.

This is going to be a memorable adventure for our family.  Not only am I breaking out of my comfort zone by taking the kids solo for most of the trip, but most of these places are new to me as well!  You can follow us on our adventures on social media.  I’ll be using #NYSummer2017 and #NYFoodieFamilyRoadTrip in all my travel posts.  And since there’s about a month before our first leg of the trip, please leave any suggestions or must-see attractions in the areas that I mentioned we’re visiting!

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5 Questions with Joel Gamoran

(Photo courtesy of SCRAPS)

Welcome to the first interview in my new “5 Questions with…..” feature. My goal is to share short interviews with notable personalities in the food and travel industry.

Today I am interviewing Joel Gamoran, a producer and host of the new FYI  show SCRAPS.  In each episode, Joel travels to a new location throughout the country to cook with a local co-host and create a dinner using food scraps. What could be more fun than driving around in a refurbished 1963 Volkswagen bus that also acts as a mobile kitchen?!  The show hopes to change they way we think about food and reduce food waste.

1.  You’re the host and a producer of the cooking show SCRAPS.  What was your top reason for getting involved in the show?

JG:  It was seriously just one of those things where it was like, why are we wasting that? I was teaching a cooking class at Sur La Table and noticed everyone’s trash bins were filled to the brim with usable ingredients.  As a chef we are taught to use every last scrap.  At home we are way too quick to toss something out.  With people starving in America and pollution being a major factor, I felt this was my duty to stand up for this and bring it to light!

2. Aside from watching SCRAPS, what is one thing that families can do right now to help minimize food waste?

JG: I always say cook your favorite recipe and put all of your scraps into a big bowl.  Take a look at all the ingredients and start researching the possibilities.  Once you get started it is hard to go back.  You will look at every scrap as an opportunity.  It’s just that muscle memory of pausing before you trash it!

3.You were recently on the TODAY show and had to cook for some of the pickiest judges: kids. What are some tips for getting kids to be more adventurous eaters?

JG: Kids need to see or interact with a recipe in order to get behind it.  The more a kid can be involved in the cooking of a recipe, the more it allows them to take some ownership in it.  Seems simple, but it works almost every time.

Also, kids love playing with their food and textures.  Make something crunchy with nuts or whole wheat bread crumbs.  Plan a dish to be dipped or assembled at the table.  These make all the difference!

4. At the time of this interview, only three episodes out of the ten episode series of SCRAPS have aired. You’ve now been to Charleston, SC, Asheville, NC and the Hudson Valley in NY.  Which easy recipe from those 3 locations would you recommend to novice home cooks?  Personally, I’m looking forward to making the Apple Cake from the Hudson Valley episode.

JG: Ha, ha!  I love the apple cake but the easiest one would be the broccoli slaw.  We all have broccoli stems and it requires zero cooking.  The stems have so much personality compared to boring old cabbage.  I call this a gateway scrap!

(Broccoli Slaw – photo courtesy of SCRAPS)

5. Although you grew up in Seattle, you’ve been living in Brooklyn for some time now. What are some of your favorite places to eat in NYC?

JG: I am drawn to casual and laid-back spots with seasonal, straightforward cooking. I love Quality Eats in the village, Roberta’s Pizza, Il Buco, Barbuto, Buttermilk Channel, Buvette, and Vanessa Dumplings.


New episodes of SCRAPS air on the FYI channel on Sundays at 10:30 PM.

 

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May 2017 Reads

It’s one of my favorite times of the month, Steph and Jana’s Show Us Your Books link up!  This is perfect timing for me as I’m starting to compile a summer reading list.  No better day to get great reading recommendations!  As I wrote this post I realized that I didn’t have the best of reading months.  I read seven books in May, but only one of them rated 4 stars.  Hopefully June will turn out to be a better month of reading! Here are my May 2017 reads:

3 Stars:

 

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The Circle by Dave Eggers –  With the help of her friend Annie, Mae Holland goes to work at the Circle, a powerful internet company.  As she works there, Mae sees the Circle is very Big Brotherish and only getting bigger and more powerful.  As she becomes more involved with the Circle, she has less contact with the outside world.  Should there be worldwide transparency?  At what cost will one go to have privacy?  These are some of the questions that arise in this book.  The book had me totally engaged, but I was super disappointed with the ending.  This book was a book of the month pick for one of the Goodreads groups I’m in.  Otherwise, I probably would have never even known about this book.  It was also made into a movie, starring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson that I want to see, once it comes out on DVD.

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A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – This book opens in 1922 Russia, when Count Alexander Rostov is placed under house arrest at the hotel Metropol.  The book follows him over the next thirty years as he lives in the hotel, meeting in a interesting cast of characters.  This was another book of the month pick for a Goodreads group that I wouldn’t have otherwise picked up on my own.  It was slow in spots but engrossing in others.  Overall, I think it was an okay historical fiction read.

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Into the Water by Paula Hawkins –  Unfortunately, when you write a bestseller like The Girl on the Train, there’s no doubt that your next book will be compared to it.  While I loved The Girl on the Train, I really didn’t like this book. The beginning is very confusing with all of the different characters.  And the storyline just didn’t interest me.   I honestly couldn’t care why the river has been the source of the deaths of several women.

3 Stars

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Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens – Lindsey Nash takes her six-year-old daughter Sophie and escapes from her abusive husband.  Fast forward ten years later where Lindsey has created a new life with her now teenage daughter. But she learns that Andrew, the ex, has been released from jail, and she keeps sensing someone watching her.  Her home is invaded and her daughter is followed.  Is it Andrew, coming back for revenge?  I’ve read a couple of Stevens other books and have had mixed reviews, liking some better than others.  In this book I feel like the author purposefully set it up to throw the reader off track, which annoyed me.  This was an okay thriller/suspense read.

 

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The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda – I have not read Miranda’s recent book All the Missing Girls, so I was unfamiliar with her writing. This was a pretty good suspense read that had me guessing until the end.  No one is who they seem, which adds to the suspense of the book.  However, I felt like there was almost too much going on.

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The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares – Sasha and Ray share a room in the family’s Long Island beach house.  They have just have never met each other.  Ray’s mom and Sasha’s dad used to be married and had three daughters before a bitter divorce.  They both remarried, and had children with their new spouses (Ray and Sasha) but neither were willing to give up the house. (Not sure I explained the complicated family tree well there!)  This summer, the families lives intersect as drama occurs and secrets are revealed.  While I enjoyed Brashares YA Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, this book was a bit disappointing.

4 Stars

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I Found You by Lisa Jewell –  Alice finds a man sitting on the beach in the pouring rain.  He has no memory of who he is or how he got there.  In a London suburb, Lily’s husband doesn’t return home from work one night.  Back in 1993, siblings Gray and Kirsty are vacationing with their family when Kirsty meets a guy who just doesn’t sit right with Gray.  Told between the past and present, with multiple points of view, the three different storylines intertwine. This was a suspenseful read that had me guessing until the end.

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Weekly Meal Plan {week 82}

2017 calendar

I hope everyone had a great weekend! We had a pretty low-key couple of days and I got in some reading and relaxation time!  It is starting to get hot here in New York!  My goal for today is to try to stay cool!  Monday  means that it’s time for another weekly meal plan.  If you are looking for some dinner time inspiration, my weekly meal plan is the place for you. Each week I showcase what was on my previous week’s meal plan, with pictures, recipe links and my family’s review of each dish.  There are so many food blogs, cookbooks and recipes out there and I am always on the lookout for new family-friendly recipes to try.  If you are new to meal planning, read more about how I make my weekly meal plan. Here is a look at what was on our menu this past week:

Saturday: Our daughter was at her friend’s house, so we ordered sushi and Chinese takeout for my son, husband and me.

Sunday: We spent the day at the Liberty Science Center.  We had leftover pizza from Friday evening, when we got home.

Monday:  My daughter had requested that I make lasagna last week, but I just didn’t have the time to do it.  So, I made sure to put it on this week’s menu.  I also purposefully made it early in the week so we could eat the leftovers for lunch during the week.  I made World’s Best Lasagna from Allrecipes.  I’m not sure I’d call it World’s Best…..but with 5 stars and over 10,000 reviews, I knew it had to be good.  I only used ground beef, even though the recipe also called for sausage.  My only problem with the recipe is that it takes so long to make it.  This should have been a weekend meal, with overall cooking time being 2 hours and 30 minutes. Well, my sauce only simmered for about 30 minutes while I was doing all the other prep work!  Even with the the abbreviated cook time, this still came out delicious and my daughter was super happy.  As predicted, there was plenty of leftovers for lunches. I served this with a Caesar salad.

Tuesday: I made ground beef tacos for “Taco Tuesday.”  I picked up an Ortega nacho cheese taco shell kit that I saw in the grocery store.  They tasted like Doritos and I assume are similar to the one that Taco Bell sells.  They weren’t bad and tacos are always a hit.  The kids love being able to pick and choose what they put on their tacos.  I served these with some veggies.

Wednesday: I made Thai-Style Lime Risotto with Pork & Coconut from the May 2017 issue of Rachael Ray Every Day.  I used ground pork instead of cutting up pieces of a pork loin, like the recipe suggested.  Earlier in the week my husband picked me up some Thai green curry paste, since our local grocery stores didn’t carry it.  Well, I didn’t realize how spicy Thai green curry is.  The kids were troopers and ate this, with lots of milk to help cool their tongues off!  There was definitely some heat in this dish, so it’s not kid-friendly.  Although the flavors were different from the risottos that I normally make, I wasn’t a huge fan of this recipe myself.

Thursday:  My husband and I attended a local Burger and Beer event.  We gorged on burgers (like the one pictured above that had beer braised onions, wild berry fig jam, and field greens on a brioche roll!) and all kinds of tasty treats.  Earlier in the day I cooked up some breaded chicken cutlets for the kids which I served to them with rice for their dinner.

Friday:  Friday I made our usual homemade cheese pizza.

What are you having for dinner this week?