Weekly Meal Plan {Week 89}

2017 calendar

Monday, Monday, back so quickly!  Time to start another week and another weekly meal plan. If you’re new to meal planning, you can read all about my meal planning process.  This is the last week of my weekly meal plan posts. You can still see my more photogenic dinners (and other tasty eats) by following me on Instagram.  Plus, there are 88 other weekly meal plans that you can check out on the blog! I look forward to posting a wider variety of food and restaurant related posts.

Saturday:  I had spent the day at my parent’s house with the kids visiting my nieces.  My husband stayed home, sick with a cold.  My mom sent me home with some homemade chicken soup which he enjoyed.  The rest of us had leftover calzones.

Sunday:  My daughter requested tacos for dinner.  My husband made ground beef tacos which he served with yellow rice.

Monday:  This week I tried another Make Once, Cook 3x recipe from Cooking Light, September 2016.  I made Sheet Pan Swedish Meatballs.  I made 42 meatballs that were then divided up into three different recipes.  I made my meatballs with just ground beef, since the grocery store didn’t have ground pork the day I went food shopping.  The meatballs weren’t super flavorful but the sauces and recipe variations helped.  I served these Swedish meatballs over mashed potatoes, as recommended, and with some veggies.

Tuesday:  Using some of the leftover meatballs from Monday, I made Greek Stuffed Pitas from Cooking Light, September 2016.  I added some sliced cucumber to the pitas.  Unfortunately, the pitas that I bought were thin. When I put all the “stuff” in them, they fell apart as soon as I picked it up.  So, we ended up eating these with a fork and knife! Cucumber yogurt sauce can make anything taste good!

Wednesday: The last recipe using the meatballs was this Banh Mi Bowl from Cooking Light, September 2016.  Quick pickling the carrots and radishes is a game changer!  I didn’t realize how easy it was to do and the flavor is amazing!  I seriously could just eat these veggies.  This was my favorite meatball dish of the three.  I think I’d make this again using a more Asian flavored meatball.

Thursday:  I made Honey Garlic Chicken Stir Fry from Chef Savvy.  Would you believe that I forgot to buy the broccoli for this recipe and only realized it when I was starting to cook?!!  This was a tasty sauce and it actually thickened like it was supposed to!  This is a quick, easy and tasty recipe.  I served it over rice.

Friday: Mr. NY Foodie Family went fishing Friday morning with some guys from work.  He caught eight Porgies on his fishing trip.  When he got home he fried up the fish and made us FLT (Fish, Lettuce, Tomato) sandwiches for dinner.  He served them with fries.

What is on your dinner menu this week? 

Chinese New Year Books for Kids

Chinese New Year Books for Kids

Chinese New Year begins on February 8 this year and lasts for fifteen days.  This year is the year of the monkey and is your year if you were born in 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, or 2004.  We enjoy exposing our children to different cultures and experiences.  Last year, our family celebrated Chinese New Year by making a feast together including homemade dumplings, egg rolls, sesame chicken and lo mein.  This year, we will probably celebrate the holiday by ordering some Chinese take-out! We’ve also been reading some books, both fiction and non-fiction, about China and the Chinese new year that we’d thought we’d share with you.  There is still time to get ahold of these books and read them during the celebration of the Chinese New Year!

*All books are linked to goodreads.

Non-Fiction Books:


Food Around the World:  Food in China by Polly Goodman
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

This is  one of four books in the Food Around the World series that Goodman has written.   The book uses photographs with captions and short, simple text to describe the food in China.   Goodman describes what a typical breakfast, lunch and dinner might include.  She describes the different foods grown and eaten in the different regions of China as well as special occasion and festival food.   We learned that in Northern China, a coin is put inside a dumpling and whoever finds the coin is wished good luck for the upcoming year.  We also learned that spring rolls look like gold bars and represent wealth in the new year. Goodman provides interesting food facts throughout the book as well as a glossary in the back. A Chinese soup recipe is included at the end of the book too and Goodman ties the now dated food pyramid to Chinese diets.  This book is a great introductionto the foods of china for younger kids (lower elementary).  The text may still be difficult for some children, but the pictures will help keep their interest.  We read this as a family, with each of us taking turns reading.

*This book was borrowed from the library.


Chelsea’s Chinese New Year by Lisa Bykkard
Illustrated by Katie Saunders
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

This picture book is perfect to introduce Chinese New Year to preschool age students.  It follows Chelsea as she and her family prepare for and celebrate Chinese New Year.  This book is classified as non-fiction and has the features of a non-fiction book including a table of contents with four very short chapters, a glossary at the end, a short index and a list of additional resources to learn more about Chinese New  Year. The entire book is illustrated with bright, colorful pictures.  The text is short and written in a story format, with interesting facts presented in purple graphics.   This is a great introduction book for younger readers to Chinese New Year.

*This book was borrowed from the library.


Chinese New Year by Anita Yasuda
Rating:  5 out of 5 stars

This book is part of the AV2 Celebrating American Holidays series. This is great resource for elementary students and classrooms.  The book provides a wealth of resources for the reader about Chinese New Year, beginning with what the holiday is to the history and important symbols and foods.  Each set of pages includes a craft, recipe or activity to supplement the concept introduced.  There’s a little, seven question quiz at the end to see what the reader has learned as well as a glossary of terms that the reader may be unfamiliar with.  As part of the AV2 series, the book doesn’t end with the reading of the book.  A code is included at the beginning of the book which you can enter at the AV2 website.  There you can access videos, weblinks and more activities to supplement the book.

*This book was borrowed from the library.


Chinese New Year: Count and Celebrate! by Fredrick L. McKissack, Jr. and Lisa Beringer McKissack
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

This picture book is another great resource to use with younger elementary students.  The book counts one through ten and introduces concepts related to Chinese New Year for each number.  Short, but informative text explains each concept in an easy to understand way.  Each number is accompanied by a large, colorful picture.  The book includes a “Words to Know” section at the end as well as additional resources for learning more about the holiday.

*This book was borrowed from the library.


D is for Dragon Dance by Ying Chang Compestine
Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

This is an alphabet picture book about Chinese New Year.  Each letter, from A through Z, is accompanied a word that relates to Chinese New Year, as well as bright, colorful illustrations.  Unfortunately, the book does not go into very much detail about the words and for some of the words, like acrobat and dragon dance, there is no text or definitions to accompany it.  V is for Veneration but no definition is given for the word, except the sentence that “Families venerate their ancestors at New Year’s”  (it means to honor or respect someone, in case you were wondering!).  At the end of the book, the author writes a note and offers some “Tips to Ensure Good Fortune in the New Year.”  The artist also has a note at the end of the book explaining some of the Chinese characters seen in the book. A recipe for New Year’s Dumpling Delight is also provided at the end of the book.

*This book was borrowed from the library.

Fiction Books:


The Day the Dragon Danced by Kay Haugaard
Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

Sugar and her Grandma go to the Chinese New Year’s Day Parade to see the dragon.  Sugar enjoys telling her Grandma everything that she’s learned in school about the holiday.  When the dragon finally makes it way down the street, it’s not dancing very well.  When she sees her father’s shoes, she ends up helping him out and saves the dragon dance.  Being told from an African-American perspective this story had great potential, but I felt the story was a little flat.  However, I enjoyed that the diverse community came together to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

*This book was borrowed from the library.


Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

From the title you can guess that this is a take on the classic story of  Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  In this picture book, it is Chinese New Year and Goldy’s mother asks her to wish her neighbors a happy new year.  Of course, the neighbors aren’t home, but Goldy makes herself comfortable in their apartment.  Instead of porridge, she eats their congee (rice porridge) and she falls asleep on Little Chan’s futon.  References to Chinese food are interspersed throughout the book (bringing turnip cakes to the neighbors, comparing Mr. Chan’s mattress to being as hard as an almond cookie and sitting in Mrs. Chan’s armchair to feeling like stuffing in a pork bun).  This story had a happy ending which differs from the classic.  The author provides a note at the end of the book describing Chinese New Year and also provides a recipe for Turnip Cake.    This was a cute take on a classic story.

*This book was borrowed from the library.


A New Year’s Reunion: A Chinese Story by Yu Li-Qiong
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Maomao’s father works faraway and only comes home for Chinese New Year.  When he arrives the family celebrates the Chinese New Year together, making sticky rice balls, visiting friends and family and watching the dragon dance.  Soon it’s time for Papa to leave again but Maomao sends him with a special gift.  This was a poignant story about a family celebrating Chinese New Year.  This book won the Feng Zikai Chinese Children’s Picture Book Award in 2009 and was also a 2011 New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Children’s Book winner.

*This book was borrowed from the library.


The Year of the Sheep:  Tales from the Chinese Zodiac by Oliver Chin
Rating:  3 out of 5 Stars

This is the tenth book in the Chinese Zodiac series.  It tells the story of Sydney the lamb, who was born in the new year.  Zhi, the shepherd girl takes care of Sydney and the rest of the flock of sheep.  But Sydney keeps finding herself in trouble.  After a storm leaves the river dried up, Sydney and her friends help clear the logjam.  While this book touches upon friendship and working together, overall, we thought the story itself was just okay.  The beautiful illustrations by Alina Chau helped give this book a 3 star rating for us.

*This book was borrowed from the library.



Family Armchair Travel: Israel


As mentioned yesterday, our subscription to International snack box Universal Yums!  sparked the idea of our family to armchair travel to the featured country each month.  May’s snack box featured country was Israel, so off we went!

Prior to receiving the box, I knew that the featured country was Israel.  I printed up a blank flag of Israel found at Coloring Castle and using an online picture I had my son color the flag (see picture above).   We have a children’s atlas and the kids found Israel.

We watched volume 1 of Shalom Sesame: Welcome to Israel.  This is a 12-DVD series that includes episodes on Passover, Purim, Shabbat and more.  My children are almost seven and nine years old.  I figured that this DVD was going to be too babyish for them.  Although Sesame Street characters like Grover and some new characters from Israel are featured, this DVD was surprisingly informative and engaging for even my older children.  Viewers accompany Anneliese as she goes to Israel to visit a relative.  You get to see the sights and food of Israel and meet children from the country.  Hebrew words and numbers are also introduced.  There’s a special appearance by actress Christina Applegate who teaches viewers the different meanings of “Shalom.”  (We borrowed this DVD from the library.)

We read the following books:

Count Your Way Through Israel by Jim Haskins
Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

This book was published in 1990 and has a dated look and feel to it.  There’s an informative introductory note that gives a little background information on Israel and the alphabet and pronunciation of some of the letters.  The book counts from 1 through 10 showing the Hebrew word and pronunciation for each number.  It also connects each number to information about the country.  While the Four Questions is appropriate for number 4, for the number 5 Haskins writes about five agricultural products that Israel is known for.  The book also shows illustrations, whereas I think photographs would be much more engaging.  This book had difficulty holding the interest of my six year-old son.  (We borrowed this book from the library.)


Exploring Countries: Israel by Joy Gregory
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

This book is part of the Exploring Countries series AV2 Media Enhanced Books collection.  There’s a special code in the beginning of the book that when input into the AV2 website makes a variety of additional resources available to the reader.  This is one of the most recently published children’s books about Israel.  It includes information about the land and climate, plants and animals, goods and services and much more.  The supplemental online media includes videos, quizzes and activities.  Each set of pages includes a “By The Numbers” feature, with factual information relating to the particular topic.  For example, under Politics and Government, the “By The Numbers” feature notes that Israeli citizens can vote at the age of 18 and that there are 15 judges on Israel’s Supreme Court.  The book is colorful and includes lots of photographs.  The text on each page is semi-lengthy and the book is geared towards older elementary students.  (We borrowed this book from the library.)


The Remarkable Journey of Josh’s Kippah by Barbara Elissa
Rating:  2 out of 5 stars

In this picture book, we follow a kippah from Joshua Jacob’s Bar Mitzvah as it travels around the world.  From Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur the kippah travels from New York to places like Israel, Argentina and Miami before making its way back to New York.  Unfortunately, we were not big fans of this book.  There were lots of words that many readers may be unfamiliar with.  While there’s a glossary in the back of the book, the number of words that are unfamiliar, and not defined in the story, disrupt the flow of the book.  While many Jewish holidays and special days are identified in the story, there’s little to no description as to what the day is about. This was not a favorite book of ours. (We borrowed this book from the library.)


Welcome to Israel by Elma Schemenauer
Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

This book is part of the Welcome to the World! series from They Child’s World.  This book is a little older, but still very informative.  Again, the amount of info and detail in this book makes it geared toward middle to upper elementary students.  It covers information about the land of Israel as well as its people, food, holidays, school and work.  At the back of the book there’s a list of famous people from Israel as well as a glossary and pronunciation guide for some basic Hebrew words.  This book was informative but did not keep my six year-old son’s interest.  (We borrowed this book from the library.)

To finish up our Armchair Travel we ate some Israel-themed dinners. 

The Weekend Chef’s family is part Jewish, so we celebrate Passover and Hanukkah with them.  Our kids are familiar with latkes, gefilte fish, matzo ball soup, matzo and haroset.  I wanted to make some dishes that were new to us.

I made Fresh Mozzarella, Mushroom and Eggplant Shakshuka from blog May I Have That Recipe?  Although, my shakshuka didn’t come out quite as pretty as theirs!  I served this with some Italian bread which we used to scoop up the sauce and veggies.  I was pleasantly surprised that both kids ate this, eggplant, mushrooms and all.

I made a whole roast chicken in the slow cooker and made Noodle Kugel from the Food Network to go with it.  The kids loved this sweet noodle dish!

The last dish I made was Baked Falafel, adapted from allrecipes.com with a Tomato and Cucumber Salad.  This wasn’t a new dish for us, but I hadn’t made it in a long time.  I love falafel  but the kids aren’t the biggest fans.  They ate theirs mixed with the tomato and cucumber salad inside their pita.  I wanted to have them try it again before we had the falafel-flavored snacks in the Universal Yums! snack box.

We are looking forward to see where we will be traveling next month!  Stay tuned so you can travel along with us!


Apple Cheddar Quick Bread

This Apple Cheddar Quick Bread is an easy to make bread.  It's a perfect fall bread and a great way to use some of those apples you just picked!

While I do not make yeast breads (I leave that for my husband!), I am all about baking quick breads and muffins.  The kids love all kinds of homemade baked goods and I knew this bread would be a hit.  The apple and cheddar make this a savory bread with just a hint of sweet.  Perfect for fall, this is a great way to use some of the apples from apple picking. This apple cheddar bread was delicious warm, right out of the oven.  Leftovers were great slightly toasted as well.

Apple Cheddar Quick Bread
Recipe very slightly adapted from Simply Stacie

2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups shredded Aged white cheddar cheese
1/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 8 x 4 inch loaf pan.

2. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in 1 cup of the shredded cheddar.

3. In another bowl beat the butter until creamy. Add in sugar and eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. Stir in the diced and grated apple.

4. Spread batter into the greased loaf pan and sprinkle with the remaining cheddar cheese. Bake for approximately 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then place on wire rack to cool completely.