Weekly Meal Plan {Week 67}

2017 calendarIf 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 most importantly, the 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 family-friendly recipes that are quick and easy!  If you are new to meal planning, read more about how I make my weekly meal plan.  Here’s a look at what was on our menu this past week:

Saturday – Last weekend we were in Rhode Island and had dinner at California Pizza Kitchen.  Although it’s a chain, we love the pizza and salads.  My husband and I shared a Thai Chicken Pizza and this California Cobb Salad. Both kids had a BBQ Chicken and Hawaiian pizza from the children’s menu.

Sunday – This was a very pizza weekend!  We brought the leftover homemade Every Day with Rachael Ray Salami and Brussels Sprout pizza from Friday evening with us to Rhode Island and had the leftovers for dinner Sunday evening.

Monday – We got home from Rhode Island Monday afternoon and stopped for a late lunch at a Turkish restaurant in Connecticut.  Since we were stuffed from lunch we didn’t have an official dinner.  We snacked on crackers and cheese and chips and the kids had some yogurt as well!

Tuesday – The kids were home from school and I was feeling lazy.  I “made” linguini with clam sauce (from a can!) and served it with some garlic bread.  I don’t often cook dinners like these, but it was nice not to cook from scratch.

Wednesday – I made Mediterranean Quesadillas from Closet Cooking.  These quesadillas had artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, spinach and feta.  I used frozen, boxed spinach that I defrosted, instead of fresh, baby spinach.  I knew my son wasn’t going to eat these, so I had him grate some cheddar cheese and made him a plain, cheese quesadilla.  These quesadillas were super quick and easy to make and very tasty.  I served honey carrots with them.

Thursday – I made Fast and Easy Soy Chicken from Kimchi Mom.  I marinated the chicken early in the day, hoping it would be more flavorful.  I feel like I’ve made similar chicken dishes to this.  However, it was “fast and easy” like the recipe title notes and kid-approved.  I served this with rice and roasted asparagus.

Friday – I apologize for this week being heavy on the prepared food dinners.  I guess you can say I was feeling lazy?! So lazy that I didn’t even take a picture of this meal!  Instead of our normal homemade pizza, tonight we had tortellini and sauce.  Super quick and easy and no real cooking involved.  We had the leftover garlic bread from Tuesday evening with the tortellini.

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2017 Word of the Year

Once again I decided to choose a word of the year.   Last year’s word was “happy.”  Overall, I think I had a pretty happy year.   This year it took me a lot longer to finalize my word.  I debated between gratitude, prosperous or success before I finally chose “growth.” Merriam-Webster defines growth as:  a stage in the process of growing.  And that is what I plan to do this year.

There is a quote that really resonates with me, “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there” – unknown.   Although I may have been happy this past year, I was definitely way too comfortable.  I adjusted to life as a full-time stay-at-home-mom, while my husband worked on building his new business.  I think that the family has enjoyed the benefits of having me home.  However, my husband is situated with his job and the kids are half-way through the school year.  It’s now time for me.

This year I plan on focusing on my personal growth.  I am five months into my gym membership and still going to classes several times a week.  However, I’d like to work on building my arm strength so I can complete a couple of yoga poses that are currently challenging me.  Overall, I think my diet isn’t too bad.   I would like to incorporate more fruit and veggies into the rotation though and be better at having at least one meatless meal a week.

I’ve owned a DSLR camera for years now and still shoot in automatic mode (hides face behind hands).  Since I upgraded to the iPhone 6s last fall, I’ve almost exclusively been taking pictures with the camera on that. However, this year I am intent on learning to shoot in manual mode.

I love to read.  I would like to read at least one non-fiction book a month focused on personal growth.

This blog has always been a hobby of mine.  It’s a way for me to write about the things that I enjoy and use my brain.  While I’m not looking to make money from this blog, I would like to continue to grow my readership and social media following.

And finally, I have decided that this is the year that I go back to work.  I left the education field for good at the very beginning of 2016.  At that point, as I’ve mentioned, me being home was best for the family as my husband focused on growing his business.  Financially, it would be beneficial to the family if I brought home a salary.  But I’ve also been feeling restless being home.  I am really trying to be intentional about my employment though and looking for possible jobs that would be rewarding and fulfilling rather than just something to bring home a paycheck.

So, 2017 looks to be a great year.  Having a word of the year helps keep me focused and living with intention.  I hope that this year brings me lots of growth!

What is your word of the year?

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Five On Friday {Big Birthday Weekend}

I am so happy that it’s Friday!  This week has been super busy and I’m exhausted!  No time for relaxing though. This is a big birthday weekend for my husband.  Tomorrow he turns the big 4-0!  We celebrated as a family back in October when we took our cruise to Canada.  However, I of course have something special planned.  Since he reads the blog I’m not going into any more detail yet! Here are five from this week:

Blue Mountain Reservation

1. Holiday Pictures – I don’t want to jinx it, but I think I’m actually on top of things in terms of the picture for our holiday cards!  If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen several pics of Blue Mountain Reservation, a local county park.  We recently found this gem of a park and have been geocaching there.  This lake and surrounding area is so beautiful that we went last weekend and took some pics, one of which we will hopefully use for our Christmas card picture!

Bowling

2. Mother-Daughter Bowling – Sunday my daughter and I went to a mother/daughter bowling event with our local Girl Scout community.  It was a fun time getting to spend time with the other moms and daughters.  My daughter and I made a friendly wager that the one with the lower score would have to treat the other to ice cream.  I bowled a 154 and won.  I picked up two gallons of Friendly’s ice cream that was on sale this past week for $3 and told her that would work for me.  The who family can enjoy ice cream for days for less than the cost of one sundae at an ice cream shop.

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3. Reading – I just finished reading Never Ever by Sara Saedi.  It’s a YA retelling of Peter Pan that was really good!  I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series when it comes out.  I just started Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty.  I liked Big Little Lies and The Husband’s Secret.  I’ve heard mixed reviews of this one so I’m trying not to let that sway my opinion of it.  I am only on chapter 5 as of now but hoping to make a dent in it this weekend.

Book Fair

4. Volunteering – Most of this week was spent volunteering at my son’s elementary school book fair.  I enjoy anything involving books and it’s fun helping kids pick out books.  Last week I helped set it up and today I’ll be helping to pack it up.  Between household chores, errands and getting in gym time, I’ve had some long, busy days this week!

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5. Watching – I’ve been so busy this week that I haven’t had much time to watch a lot of television.  I watched the Real Housewives of Orange County reunion.  My husband and I also watched the first two episodes of the Crown.

ICYMI this week on the blog:
Monday I shared our weekly meal plan.
Tuesday I reviewed The Wishbone Wish, a children’s Thanksgiving chapter book.

I’m linking up with Tif, Andrea and April.  Have a great weekend!

October Six-Pack

October Six-Pack

The monthly six-pack gives my husband and I a chance to sample some new-to-us beer and ciders.  The October six-pack has a pumpkin beer theme, perfect for fall.  Since many of the beers and ciders featured below are seasonal, they may not all be available now.  Here is a review of October’s six-pack:

Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale

Blue Moon:  Harvest Pumpkin Ale –  Harvest Pumpkin Ale was first created by Blue Moon in 1995 under the name Pumpkin Ale and was the first pumpkin ale available nationally.  This ale is crafted with pumpkin and spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice.  My husband didn’t think this beer had much pumpkin flavor.  However, I had a taste and could definitely pick up hints of the spices.

Harvest Patch Shandy

Leinenkugel’s: Harvest Patch Shandy – This is a wheat beer blended with natural pumpkin spice flavor including notes of nutmeg, allspice and clove.  My husband could taste the distinct flavors of pumpkin spice in this beer.  However, a shandy usually refers to a beer mixed with a soft drink or juice.  This beer had neither so the name was a bit confusing.  My husband has enjoyed other beers from Leinenkugel’s but this one wasn’t his favorite.

New Belgium Pumpkick

New Belgium:  Pumpkick –  This beer is only available from August through October, so you may not be able to find it in stores anymore.  This is a seasonal ale brewed with pumpkin juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice with additional flavors of cranberry juice and lemongrass.  My husband found this beer to be very flavorful.  He could taste the not so subtle notes of pumpkin pie flavor.  Overall, he gives this beer two thumbs up!

Samuel Adams 20 Pounds of Pumpkin

Samuel Adams:  20 Pounds of Pumpkin – This is a new seasonal ale from Samuel Adams.  It’s brewed with pumpkin and spices including cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, giving it according to my husband, “a dark and spicy flavor.”  My husband found this beer to be very enjoyable.  However, he and I both agreed there was absolutely NO pumpkin flavor to it.

Smith & Forge Hard Cider

Smith & Forge Hard Cider – This cider is produced in Memphis, Tennessee and is made with five varieties of Washington State apples.  I found this cider to be sweet and very apple-y tasting, which I liked.  I prefer sweet ciders over dry ones and this one was perfect.

Woodchuck Amber

Woodchuck Hard Cider:  Amber –Woodchuck Cider is crafted in Middlebury, Vermont.  Amber is the company’s original cider, which means that this is the cider that I was probably drinking back in college!  This cider has a great apple taste that isn’t too dry.

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Weekly Meal Plan {Week 55}

2016 Calendar

I hope everyone had a great weekend.  We had a great weekend.  The weather was a bit chilly but sunny.  My son had his last soccer game of the season.  My daughter enjoyed some time “hanging out” at her friend’s house.  My husband and I enjoyed a dinner out with friends.  Plus, with the time change, we got an extra hour of sleep.  This week the kids have Election Day and Veteran’s Day off from school.  My son gets an additional day off for Parent-Teacher Conferences.  So, this week I don’t have to worry too much about quick and easy meals on our meal plan.  Here is a look at what was on our menu this past week:

Shredded Pork Nachos

Sunday – I cooked a pork shoulder in the slow cooker.  My husband then shredded it later that night and made BBQ Pork Nachos.  He put the pork along with red onion and cheese on tortilla chips.  We love nachos for dinner!

Shredded Pork Burritos

Monday – Monday was Halloween.  Dinner had to be quick and easy so the kids could go out trick-or-treating with friends.  I made Pork Burritos using the leftover pork from Sunday night’s nachos.  I added the pork with cooked rice, black beans and shredded cheese in a large tortilla and then heated it up in a skillet.

Breaded Fish

Tuesday  – We had some leftover fish in the freezer that we had caught on a chartered fishing trip over the summer.  I breaded and fried the fish and served it along with some roasted potatoes and broccoli.  The kids love breaded fish and this dinner was enjoyed by all.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Wednesday – I made Roasted Red Pepper and Ricotta Soup from Cooking Light, April 2016.  I also made a Beer Cheese Bread to eat with it.  This soup was quick and easy to make.  Instead of mixing the ingredients in a blender first, I put everything in the sauce pan and used my immersion blender.  This saved time and clean up!  Both kids ate this soup but weren’t huge fans.  However, I enjoyed it a lot!

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Thursday – I made Slow Cooker Beef Stew from Damn Delicious.  I’ve made beef stew in the slow cooker before, but this was a new to me recipe.  This recipe required a little bit of prep in the beginning, including searing the beef.  Thursday afternoons are super busy for us.  I can spend the time in the morning prepping the slow cooker but there isn’t time in the evening for cooking.  So, this recipe worked for us.  I found this recipe to be just okay in flavor.  The kids enjoy beef stew and my daughter had seconds of this.  I’ll continue to make beef stew but not this recipe.

Ham and Cheese Pizza

Friday – We had our weekly homemade pizza.  However, this week I only made Ham and Cheese Pizza from Cooking Light, October 2016.  I knew this was a pizza that the kids would eat and I had enough ingredients to make two.  The recipe called for deli ham but my ham was cut too thin and dried out.  I’d recommend dicing up a ham steak.  The mix of cheeses and the ham made the pizza a bit salty but I liked the addition of the apple to add some sweetness.

What is on your menu this week?

Ham, Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche

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Meal planning is a necessity in our house.  With everyone’s busy schedules, it ensures that we have dinner on the table each night.  In an effort to make dinners that my kids will enjoy, I’ve been enlisting their help in my meal planning.  Each week I ask them for one dinner that they would like to see on the next week’s menu.  Recently, my daughter requested quiche.  Quiche is pretty easy to put together.  So, using ingredients that I know the kids like, I put together this Ham, Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche.  I adapted the recipe to make enough for two quiches, which left a whole quiche leftover for my husband and I to enjoy for breakfast during the week.  This was a kid approved dinner that I served with a Caesar salad.

Ham Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche

Ham, Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche
Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com via JenCanCook

Ingredients:
2 frozen (9-inch) frozen pie crusts, thawed
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 (8 ounce) ham steak
1 (12 ounce) bag frozen broccoli
8 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. ground mustard

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place thawed pie crusts on baking sheet.

2.  Cook broccoli as directed on bag, decreasing cook time by 2-3 minutes.

3.  Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic, sauteing about 5 minutes, or onions are translucent.  Add the ham and broccoli to the skillet, mixing to combine.  Evenly divide the onion mixture into the two pie crusts.

4.  In a large bowl beat eggs, milk, shredded cheddar cheese, salt, pepper, thyme and ground mustard.  Pour the egg mixture into the pie crusts, dividing evenly.

5.   Baked in the preheated oven until a knife inserted into the center of the quiche comes out clean, approximately, 30-45 minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

 

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Slow Cooker Beanless Chili

Slow Cooker Beanless Chili

It has been awhile since I did a recipe post. With the weather getting cooler I’m all about using the slow cooker to make tasty chili, soups and stews.  I made this beanless chili this past Sunday evening when my mom came over for dinner.  I enjoy chili but I’m not a fan of beans, so this chili was perfect.  This recipe does require about 20-30 minutes of prep before putting it in the slow cooker.  If your house is as crazy as ours is in the morning, you may not have time to prep this before heading off to work.  However, it makes a great weekend meal.  I prepped this in the morning and we were able to do errands throughout the day, without having to worry about what was for dinner.  This was a winner with the family and the leftovers provided lunch for us the next day.  If you want to add a little heat and spice to the recipe you can add jalapeno or poblano peppers (when sautéing the onion and garlic) and/or cayenne pepper (when adding the spices).  I served our chili over rice with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese, but feel free to add any other garnishes your family enjoys!

Slow Cooker Beanless Chili
Recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds ground turkey
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/4 teaspoons Kosher salt
2-3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) can tomato paste
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 bay leaves
2 cups rice, cooked
sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese for serving

Directions:
Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Once heated add the olive oil.  Add the onion, sautéing for approximately five minutes until translucent.  Stir in the garlic cooking for a minute.  Add the ground turkey to the skillet, breaking up into crumbles.  Brown the ground turkey for approximately 10 minutes.  Once browned add the chili powder, paprika, cumin and salt, mixing to combine.  Cook for two minutes and then remove the skillet from the heat.

Pour the ground turkey mixture into the bowl of the slow cooker.  Add the chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, maple syrup and bay leaves to the slow cooker, stirring to combine.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.   When finished cooking, if chili is too thick, add another 1/2 to one cup of chicken broth.

Remove the bay leaves from the chili.  Spoon rice into a bowl.  Ladle the chili on top of the rice and serve with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese.

September Favorites 2016 (Kids Edition)

As the month comes to an end I thought it would be fun to share some of my son and daughter’s September favorites.  My son is eight and my daughter is ten.  With school starting this month as well as all of their after school and other activities, they are discovering that they have a lot less free time.  But when they do have some down time, the two try to pack in as much fun as possible!  Here are some of their favorites from this month:

My Son’s Favorites:

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1.NHL 16 – Over the summer my son started borrowing video games from the library.  This is a great way for him to try out different games to see if he likes them before purchasing them.  He’s recently been enjoying NHL16 for the Xbox One.  This surprised me since he’s not into hockey.  He’s already informed us that he wants this game for Christmas!

2. The Gaming Show – My son loves this show about three teens who run a gaming show in a garage.  They learn about the world of video gaming as well as play video games.  Right up my son’s alley!  He watches it on Netflix but it also airs on Disney XD.

Pokemon Go

3.  Pokémon Go –  My son only recently got Pokémon Go so it’s still relatively new to him.

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4. Nerf Guns – Nerf guns are the newest thing with my son and his friends.  He has one or two and last weekend he picked up a new-to-him Nerf gun at a local community swap.   Now he’s carrying it around the house shooting the foam darts ALL the time!

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5. Dog Man by Dav Pilkey – My son loves graphic novels.  The funnier and sillier they are, they better!  My son enjoys the Captain Underpants series by Pilkey, so I got this book for him from the library.  Let’s just say that after the first story I had to stop reading.  Totally not my thing.  However, my son loved this book and it’s made his favorite list!

My Daughter’s Favorites:

Road Trip Ice Cream

1. Ice Cream Club: Road Trip – I recently won six pints of ice cream from the International Dairy Foods Association.  We recently tried Road Trip (chocolate ice cream with brownie pieces and peanut butter) and this is my daughter’s favorite treat this month.

First Day Signs

2.  Starting Middle School – My daughter started 5th grade this year.  In our district 5th grade is in the middle school.  While I was a bit nervous, my daughter is loving everything about it.  She loves being in a new school, all the clubs and activities that she can participate in (and boy is she participating in a lot, both before AND after school!) and having more responsibility.  I’m so happy that she’s started off with such a great experience!

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3. The Voice – We recently got cable again and my kids couldn’t be happier.  So far, in the week that we’ve had cable they are all about watching The Voice.  We DVR it and watch a little bit of it together each night.  I never watched the show before so it’s a fun bonding experience with both the kids.

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4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – I own and have read this series.  I was hesitant for my daughter to read the books but she picked the book out as her independent reading book at school.  She is a few chapters away from finishing it and is absolutely loving it.  I’m pretty sure she’ll be wanting to watch the movie after she finishes reading it!

5. Converse sneakers – Converse are THE sneaker to be wearing at the middle school.  Her obsession with the sneakers started last year and has only grown.  Every day I hear all about the different Converse sneakers that kids are wearing and which ones she REALLY wants to get.  I tell her to “put it on her Christmas list!”  I believe that she has three pair of Converse and I told her she’s not getting any new ones from me until she outgrows those!

What are your kids into this month?

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Five on Friday {The first of fall}

Happy Friday and happy fall!  This was a busy week with playdates (or “hanging out” as my 5th grader calls it) and back to school night at the middle school for my daughter.  This weekend my daughter will be away for two nights on a Girl Scout camping trip and my husband is heading up to Binghamton University for alumni Homecoming weekend.  So, Saturday will be just me and my son.  He has soccer and then I see some Pokemon catching and a movie marathon happening!  Here are five things from this week:

Lasagna Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

1. Eating – Sunday we had our monthly supper club.  This month’s theme was to cook one of our favorite dishes from a past supper club.  I made Lasagna Stuffed Spaghetti Squash that another member had previously  made.  I liked this dish because not only was it tasty it was also carb-free, which usually I don’t go for!  I love me so me carbs!  I also thought that this was a dish that my kids would enjoy since you don’t really taste squash flavor with all of the lasagna ingredients.  Well, there was enough leftovers to have it for dinner this week and let’s just say, my son wasn’t a fan!  Oh well, I tried!

8 Tips for Reluctant Readers

2. Blog Post – I am a contributor to the Westchester County Mom’s Blog, a recently launched resource for local moms.  My article “8 Tips for Motivating Reluctant Readers” was posted this week!  You can check it out as well as the blog itself.  There are lots of relevant posts pertaining to motherhood and parenting issues, not just local events, etc.

3. Working Out – As I mentioned in last week’s Five on Friday, my husband and I joined our local Retro Fitness.  We got to work out together Sunday morning while the kids were at CCD.  We did some of the arm and leg machines and then walked (me)/jogged (him) on the treadmill.  I also tried my first Barre class this and also did a Zumba class yesterday.  I’m really hoping to get in shape!

4. Cable and Phone – We’ve been cable-free for over three years now.  We’ve done fine with watching Netflix and Amazon Prime and using just our cell phones.  However, it was cheaper for us to upgrade to a “triple play” package than to just pay for internet.  So yesterday we got cable and home phone service again!  I’m sure I will love having a DVR back and being able to watch my favorite shows as they air!

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5. Reading – I’m currently reading All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker.  It’s a thriller/suspense book that so far is pretty good.

ICYMI this week on the blog:
Monday I shared our weekly meal plan.
Tuesday I posted a review of the Brazilian animated movie Boy & The World.
Thursday I shared a short list of things I’m looking forward to in fall.

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

Happy Fall!

Anticipating Fall

Happy fall!  While it sure doesn’t feel like fall here in New York, it is now officially appropriate for all things apple and pumpkin spice!  Here are some things that I’m looking forward to this fall:

*apple picking – recently we’ve been staying local to pick apples and of course get cider doughnuts
*baking with apples and pumpkins – muffins, cookies, cakes….I want them all!
*fall foliage – living in the Northeast we are lucky to be able to see all of the leaves change colors
*wearing boots and sweaters – fall fashion staples!
*trying pumpkin spice everything  – yes, I’m a fan!
*family cruise in October – a month early but a great way to celebrate my husband’s 40th birthday!
*Hudson Valley Restaurant Week – although not until November, I’m looking forward to trying some new restaurants
*chili, soups and stews – total comfort food and even better for me when made in the slow cooker
*mums – that’s about the extent of my fall decorating!

What are you looking forward to this fall?