Monday, January 28, 2013

Recipe: Low-Fat Blueberry Bran Muffins

My dear friend, Annie, shared this recipe with me last summer and I have made it a few times since. These little muffins are good, and they pack a healthy-gut-cleaning-punch of bran. Probably better not eat more than one or two at a time to be safe...and definitely just one for the little ones (don't say I didn't warn you!).

Low-Fat Blueberry Bran Muffins (slightly adapted from this)

1 1/2c wheat bran
1c non-fat milk (I use vanilla almond milk cause we are not cow milk drinkers)
1/2c unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
2/3c brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2c all purpose flour
1/2c whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c blueberries (I use frozen - no need to thaw)
I also add in 1-2 tbsp ground flax seed


1. Preheat to 375. Grease or line muffin tin.
2.Mix wheat bran and milk and let stand 10 mins.
3. In large bowl, mix applesauce, egg, brown sugar,vanilla. Beat in bran mixture.
4. Sift together flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ground flax. Stir into bran mixture until just blended.
5. Fold in blueberries.
6. Put in muffin cups and bake 15-20 mins until tops spring back when lightly tapped.

***Make sure to store these in an airtight container in the fridge or they will go bad super fast on the counter. Plus, I really like them cold out of the fridge.

Meal Plan 1/28-2/3

{The Menu}

Monday - Sweet 'n' Sour Chicken Stirfry with brown rice

Tuesday - Crockpot Chicken Taco Soup (I leave the beer out of this recipe - I don't like the flavor it gives and this recipe is AMAZING without it) Quesadillas for kids

Wednesday - Chicken, garlic, sundried tomato pasta with salad and my new favorite homemade dressing - for those of you watching weight, this dressing is the cipycat version of what was on the "skinny" menu at The Melting Pot. (This was on last week's menu but we had more leftovers than I thought we would so we bumped this meal over a week)

Thursday - Hubby's Birthday!!! We will probably go out to eat and celebrate :)

Friday - Spaghetti w/salad and french bread

Saturday - Hubby Cooks :)

Sunday - Superbowl. I am not planning a meal because we will be snacking all day. I may throw on a pot of chili and make some cornbread if we are hungry. 

Since the weather in the Pacific Northwest is grey and rainy this week, I am also making beef stew (in the crockpot right now) and a double batch of last week's turkey vegetable soup (It was AMAZING!!) for lunch options to have on hand. Will freeze any leftovers in serving size containers. I love having hot, hearty soups for lunch when it's cold out :)

What's on the menu this week at your house?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Recipe: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Being that we woke up to dark and gloomy skies today, the kids and I thought it would be a perfect morning for baking...and we really needed to use up some old bananas that had been hanging out on the counter.

I tried a new recipe for banana muffins and the reviews did not lie - it will definitely become our regular one from now and on. I had to add chocolate chips, because well, do I need to explain that honestly?! I never said these were going to be healthy...


1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 large overripe bananas, mashed
3/4 c white sugar
1 egg
1/3 c butter, melted
chocolate chips to your preference (add until the batter looks chocolate-chip-y enough for ya)


1. Preheat oven to 350 and line or spray your muffin tin (this made 12 muffins for us)
2. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and set aside. (confession: I didn't read the directions well as I was also playing referee to my kiddos, and mixed the sugar in at this step too - they turned out just fine, phew)
3. Combine sugar, mashed bananas, butter, egg in separate bowl.
4. Combine with flour mixture.
5. Spoon into muffin tin cups 3/4 full.
6. Bake 20-25 mins. The original recipe said 25-30...I started with 25, and glad I did because I wouldn't have wanted them in any longer. I would start with 20 mins so you don't burn them and you can always add more time.

You could easily change out half the flour for whole wheat to make these a little healthier. I am not a fan of sugar substitutes (other than honey) but you could experiment with that too. I suppose you could leave out the chocolate chips and add something like raisins, or nothing at all like the original recipe. OR, you could just leave them as is and not mess with a good thing...

Enjoy :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Never deep clean your shower again?!

If there is one chore I dislike more than any other, it is cleaning the shower. I don't know why, but I just don't like it. I'd rather clean 20 toilets than one shower. I have tried the daily shower cleaner sprays (I don't think they work very well). I saw something on pinterest however, that has changed shower cleaning for me.

Now, I'm not sure why they insist on using blue Dawn, but I can tell you that I use my method dishwash soap (cucumber is my favorite, but clementine is awesome too) and it works just great (and smells amazing too).

1. Fill the dish scrubber with half white vinegar, and half liquid dish soap of your choice.
2. Shake it up.
3. Put it in your shower.
4. At the end of each shower (or even just a couple times per week), give the walls, floor, and glass doors if you have them a quick scrub down.
5. Rinse. (I keep a cup in our shower for bathing our little ones so I use that to get areas the shower head won't reach)
** I also keep a Mr. Clean magic eraser in the shower for stubborn build up, but since I have used this method, I haven't even needed it.

That's it. Since I have been doing this method, I honestly have not even needed to use my shower cleaner, because my shower never has a chance to get dirty. I love is an amazing cleaner, and I figure if my dish soap makes my dishes clean enough to eat off of, it can handle my shower for sure.

What shortcut cleaning tricks do you swear by?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Meal Plan 1/21 - 1/27

{The Menu}

Monday - Grilled chicken (love my George Foreman!), bowtie pasta, peas (super simple with what's on hand because I know I will not have time to get groceries until Tuesday)

Tuesday - Chicken, Garlic, and Sundried Tomato Pasta w/salad. Salad with my new FAVORITE salad dressing recipe...can't get enough. It tastes just like the house dressing at the Melting Pot... kind of a honey mustard flavor. Pure delish. And because the ingredients are not highly perishable, it keeps in the fridge well for a while.

Wednesday - Chef Salad (Lettuce, ham, hard-boiled egg, tomato, carrots, cucumber, celery)

Thursday - Sweet 'n' Sour Meatballs and brown rice with veg (Costco meatballs with chili sauce and cranberry jelly to make sauce)

Friday - Honey Mustard Parmesan Chicken with salad (4-6 chicken breasts, 1/4c butter, 3/4c dry bread crumbs, 1/4c parmesan cheese, 2T mustard, 2T honey. Melt butter and add mustard and honey and stir, then combine parmesan and bread crumbs in another bowl and stir. Dip chicken in 1st mixture, and then in breading mixture on both sides. Bake at 375 about an hour.

Saturday - Leftovers

Sunday - Turkey Vegetable Soup (1lb ground turkey - browned, 32oz can chicken broth, 1 package frozen mixed veg, 1 package Knor's vegetable soup mix, 2 cans diced italian style tomatoes, mushrooms and crushed red peppers optional to taste. Put all ingredients in crockpot on low, or bring to boil in pot on stove and then simmer for an hour.)

What are you having this week?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Meal Plan for 1/14 - 1/20

{The Menu}

Monday - Turkey Italian Meatloaf (Favorite family recipe: 1lb ground turkey, 1/2c chopped onion, 1 egg, 8oz marinara, 1/3 cup oatmeal, 1tsp seasoning salt, 1/4tsp black pepper. Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly, bake in ungreased small loaf pan for 1-1 1/4 hrs), Alexia oven-reds potatoes (freezer section, often with organic stuff - SO good!), salad

Tuesday - Leftovers

Wednesday - Grilled Chicken (love my George Foreman), brown rice, sauteed zucchini

Thursday - Turkey Chili (was on my menu last week and I didn't end up making it... 1lb ground turkey, 1 medium chopped onion (or frozen chopped onion, minced garlic (equivalent of 3 cloves), 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 can drained and rinsed kidney beans, 1 cup water, 1tbsp chili powder, 1tsp cumin, 1tsp oregano, 1tsp coriander, 1 tsp red chili flakes. Brown the meat in a little olive oil and then throw everything in the crockpot on low all day.)

Friday - Crockpot Italian Chicken (found this one on pinterest and made it one other time. I just use normal chopped carrots versus baby. I thought it was pretty good and the hubs loved it. I thought next day leftovers were even better than the first night too)

Saturday - Leftovers

Sunday - Hubby cooks...he's making a turkey vegetable soup :)

What's on your menu for the week? I'd love to hear what's cooking in your kitchen too!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Meal Planning & Meal Plan for week of 1/7-1/13

I thought I would start posting my weekly meal plan here...since I make one every week, figured maybe someone else could benefit from some ideas for dinners too. I will link to or include recipes when possible.

While I plan meals specific for each day, on occasion the day will come and that meal doesn't sound good - I reserve the right to flip my meals around through the week, but usually follow the menu pretty close. I try to do at least one crock pot meal per week, and I also like to make things that allow for leftovers - we can make another night's meal, or often eat them for lunch.

I have tried meal planning more than one week at a time, and I just don't like it - that's just me. I could maybe handle two weeks, but still prefer one. I usually know our weekend plans one week out so can account for dinner guests, or dinner out - two weeks out I sometimes don't know yet what the second week's plans will be. You have to do what works for your family though - I know people who plan a month out at a time and it works for them. I also know people who meal plan out breakfasts and lunches, but that is a little much for me :) I have a chalkboard on the front of our fridge that I write our weekly menu on so we always know what's for dinner.

Making a meal plan has been absolutely essential for my family for several reasons:
1. It is MUCH easier to eat healthy meals when you have it planned out before you are in starvation mode (on that note, don't meal plan when you are is similar to grocery shopping hungry, though not quite as dangerous.)
2. It is EASY and takes out the guess work. It takes me maybe 15 minutes with my super organized recipe binder to pick out meals for the week, and I won't end up staring in the fridge at dinner time wondering what to make. I also try to add in a new recipe to try about every week.
3. It saves money on groceries. Seriously. Once I have my meal plan complete, I make a grocery list based off my recipe ingredients and it eliminates a lot of purchases of things that "look good". And I never end up standing there ready to make a recipe and realize I am out of one of the ingredients. It also eliminates the need to run to the store for that one ingredient (which, if you are like me, means leaving the store with 10 things you didn't need at all). A little plan and prep goes a long way. I also try to plan entire weeks (like this week) where I plan meals based solely off what we have on hand already.

{Meal Plan 1/7-1/13}

Monday - Leftovers from the weekend

Tuesday - Crockpot Turkey Chili (1lb ground turkey, 1 medium chopped onion (or frozen chopped onion), minced garlic (equivalent of 3 cloves), 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 can drained and rinsed kidney beans, 1 cup water, 1tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, oregano, coriander, red chili flakes. Brown the meat in a little olive oil and then throw everything in the crock pot on low all day.)

Wednesday - Parmesan Chicken (new recipe to try this week) with broccoli and bow tie pasta

Thursday - Meatballs & Rice (We buy the frozen pre-cooked beef meatballs from Costco. Heat some up with teriyaki sauce on the stove, add frozen veggies to the last 5-10 minutes of cooking, serve over brown rice)

Friday - Pizza and family movie night (Often we make our own pizzas, but this time we are using some coupons from Papa Murphy's...our favorite pizza!!)

Saturday - Crockpot Salsa Chicken tacos (Throw 2-3 frozen chicken breasts in the crockpot with a jar of salsa and can of drained and rinsed black beans. Cook all day on low or if you get started later, cook on high. Shred the chicken and serve in warmed corn or flour tortillas with sour cream, brown rice,shredded lettuce, tomato, cheese (and taco sauce if you are like my hubby). One of our FAVORITES that I make a lot because it's soooo easy!! The leftovers make excellent nachos and taco salads if you get tired of tacos.

Sunday - Hubby cooks (The hubs volunteered to cook every Sunday to give this mama a little break - isn't he the best?!)

The one challenge I have been having is forgetting it is a crock pot day until about noon when I am making my kids lunch and no longer have enough time for the crockpot dinner meal to cook. My new approach is setting a reminder on my phone so that I remember at breakfast to get the crockpot going. Works much better for me.

Happy meal planning :)

I'd love to hear what's on the menu at YOUR house too!