Monday, February 25, 2013

Meal Plan 2/25-3/3

This week we are taking a mini-vacation mid-week, so keeping things simple and avoiding any grocery shopping by using what's on hand. We also get a date night - he is taking me to my first MMA fight... I am not one for watching people beat the snot out of each other generally, but any chance for an evening out with the hubby is always good :)


Monday - Beef Stew & Corn Bread (aka: comfort food for this cold, windy day)

Tuesday - Leftovers

Wednesday/Thursday - Great Wolf Lodge!!!

Friday - Artichoke Chicken w/veg

Saturday - Date Night :) :)

Sunday - Turkey Vegetable Soup w/Barley

Friday, February 22, 2013

Frozen Banana Soft-Serve "Ice Cream"

I think most of us have seen various "recipes" for this on Pinterest. I did not invent this, and I'm not sure who really did or I would praise them repeatedly, but it is AMAZING. Delicious "soft-serve" without the guilt. Perfect! My whole family loves it and we make a toppings bar to make it fun. (This part adds a little unhealthy to it, but not in comparison to what you would get with real ice cream or frozen yogurt. And technically you can keep this part totally healthy too if you want.)

Bananas (just starting to brown - NOT black ones, but not greenish either)
Peanut Butter (1 spoonful or to your taste)
Dutch Cocoa Powder (about 2tbsp or to your taste preference)

How to make:
1. Slice up bananas in coins and put in ziploc freezer bag. Freeze until frozen. I froze ours last week so they were ready any night we wanted some.
2. Take out of the freezer 10 minutes or so before you are ready to blend. I used this time to cut up strawberries and get our topping bar ready.
3. Blend slightly thawed banana coins... this process takes a bit, I won't lie, but it's worth it. If you have a vitamix or a really great blender this may be much easier for you. You can use a spoon to carefully help the bananas into the blending blades. It also helps to do a little at a time versus filling the whole blender up. Once it gets started it will go from banana gravel to creamy soft-serve. It's magical. If you are really struggling, you can add a tiny bit of milk, but be careful as the consistency without milk is already very soft, so you don't want it runny - we aren't making milkshakes here.
4. Once bananas are completely blended into smooth soft-serve, add the peanut butter and cocoa powder. Blend again until mixed well.
5. Put it in bowls and use desired toppings. (This time we had strawberries, chocolate sauce, caramel, mini marshmallows, and sprinkles as options. In the past we have had blueberries, raspberries, chocolate chips, etc)
6. Serve and enjoy without the guilt!

I love it when healthy food tastes amazing! This is also great for people who can't handle dairy well (myself included). I don't have any pictures of the finished project because we ate it all too fast.

Enjoy and let me know what you think! :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Meal Plan 2/18-2/24

Well this week's meal planning was poorly planned...and then I just did not have time to post it until now (which is pretty much halfway through the week). Sorry about happens sometimes.


Monday - one of my oldest, dearest, best friends was in town from NC, so we had dinner at her parents' house. Hubby took the kids home to bed and I stayed chatting until after midnight. Good times.

Tuesday - This was a swim night, so we are always rushed for dinner. Something quick and easy is key. We had grilled chicken, bowtie pasta, and peas, all mixed together with a little parmesan cheese.

Wednesday - Crockpot Italian Chicken. (3 chicken breasts, bottle of Italian dressing, some quartered red potatoes, chopped up onion, chopped up carrot - I add carrot in the last couple hours because we don't like mushy cooks them a little, but still leaves some crispness.)

Thursday - leftovers

Friday - Turkey burgers

Saturday - leaving this open because we have a later afternoon birthday party for my niece and not sure what time we will get home, or if we will likely end up grabbing something while we are out.

Sunday - Italian Meatloaf with red potatoes and green beans

Friday, February 15, 2013

DIY Birthday Board

I made this for my dad last year for Father's Day, after I realized he was using chicken-scratched post-its on the wall of his office to try to remember kids/spouses/grandkids birthdays... And his system wasn't working well (apparently it was my fault he forgot my hubby's birthday since I didn't remind him lol).

Here was a solution. I saw some on etsy, and decided to just make my own. All it took was a small board from the craft store, stencil letters, paint, round wooden disks, some eye hooks/rings, some little stars from the craft store and a sharpie. I included some extra discs too so he could add other birthdays to the board that he wanted to remember.

I think it's working because he hasn't missed anyone's birthday to my knowledge :)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My first Annie Sloan Chalk Paint projects...more to come!

We have had an armoire in need of updating for as long as my husband and I have been together. At one point about 6 years ago, I changed out the old brass hardware, but always knew it needed a paint job to truly be a piece we loved. Problem, is I do not like painting furniture...not even a little. I love the finished project, I am just not patient for all the prep work, waiting for coats to dry, blah, blah, blah.

Since we moved into our current home 2+ years ago, the armoire has been hanging out in the garage. We even put it in a garage sale and a lady almost bought it... I'm so glad now she didn't. Everything happens for a reason.

I finally decided I was just going to do it. I was still looking for any possible way out of sanding and prep work, but had accepted that as my fate for this project.

UNTIL...I was informed about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (picture hallelujah playing now). NO sanding. NO prep other than a quick wipe down with vinegar and water. AND quick dry time between coats. Plus you can use it on anything - wood, plastic, laminate, walls, etc. SOLD!!

I googled the only store within 30 minutes of me that carries the paint and off my 2yr old and I went to get my supplies. I quickly fell in love with the color "provence". These little cans of paint are pricey, but they go a very long way. I was able to paint a huge bedroom mirror frame, another large frame, the armoire, and I still have paint left for another smaller project. Bonus points for having no odor and low-VOCs. I justified the cost because I didn't have to pay for prep supplies, and because my time and sanity is worth something. I also had to buy the clear wax, but that stuff should last me a crazy long time, I barely put a dent in the crisco tub of it. I did not care much for using the wax - not sure if it was the odor, or the fact that I didn't buy the $40 wax brush that may have made things easier, but it was not my favorite part.

Without further ramblings, here are my projects, befores and afters:

{The Armoire}
Eventually, I envision a different kind of wine rack system, like one of those wine cubes, but I am going with what we currently have in our house right now. I wanted to make this piece work in our dining room, instead of looking like bedroom furniture. I have no idea what to put on the tiny shelf now, but it looked better with it there. If anyone has suggestions for how to make the shelf useful, I'm all ears. I took off the doors and will use them for some sort of re-purpose project in the future. New hardware was also necessary and it turned out I had to order these online because nothing in the store fit this thing.

{The Chalkboard}
This project has had some stages. First it went from framed art to a chalkboard, and then I decided I was bored with the frame and so that got painted too. I think I am done messing with this one for now.

Next on my list is painting our bedroom furniture, and a clock frame in our great room. I just have to decide on some colors and block out some time!

I promise Annie Sloan did not pay me to write this post, nor do they (or probably anyone else) know who this little mom blogger is, but seriously can't say enough good stuff about this paint!

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Relax Jar

I have been wanting to make one of these for quite a while. There are various tutorials I have seen and pinned on pinterest with various names (Mind Jar, Meditation Jar, Timeout Jar, etc) but they are basically all the same. I'm calling mine the Relax jar. A jar filled with glitter that you shake up, and then your child holds it and waits for the glitter to settle (which is supposed to be relaxing) before they come out of time out or chill out.

I liked the idea of this for a few reasons. It is is a nice peaceful way for a child to calm down and it also distracts them from the fit or issue, whatever that may be. And it's fun.

There is one thing I didn't like though. All of the tutorials I saw were made with a GLASS mason jar. While it looked pretty, it did not seem practical for us. Maybe I am the only mom out there (I highly doubt it) that has kids that can get really angry sometimes, but I envision handing this peaceful jar to my raging child and telling them to relax and calm down....and then I envision it possibly being thrown or something and glass jar full of glitter and food coloring shattering all over my house. My kids are not generally throwers, but hey, it could happen... and that is not something I wanted to risk happening. Additionally, what if tiny 2yr old hands accidentally drop this glass jar... I used a Costco size PLASTIC peanut butter jar.

Here is how I made mine:
1 Empty and clean PLASTIC peanut butter jar (clean off label/glue with olive oil)
1 tube of glitter glue (I chose blue)
Very warm water to fill it almost to the top.
Glitter - I just dumped some in, shook it, and kept adding more until I had the look I wanted.
Food Coloring - I used blue,since it is a color that evokes relaxation. I used too much, but it worked out. I always seem to forget (and then am quickly reminded) how little food coloring you need to make a lot of color.
Super Glue - for gluing the lid on. Wouldn't want little hands opening it up - wouldn't that be a fun mess.
Hot Glue - I'll explain why I needed this later. It explains why my lid does not look pretty.

And here is what you do:
1. I filled my jar half full with the water and then added the whole tube of glitter glue.
2. Put the lid on and shake, shake, shake, until it is blended pretty well.
3. Add the rest of the water and glitter. Shake and continue adding glitter and shaking until you have the look you want.
4. Add food coloring until you have the color you like. Then shake some more.
5. Super glue that lid on tight.
6. Now this is where I thought I was done...until I realized my jar was LEAKING every time I shook it. This is not good. And that is probably why everyone used glass jars. The plastic jar when squeezed a little made enough gap at the lid for drops to come out. So... I decided to do some "caulking" with my trusty hot glue gun. I used a lot and made sure it was sealed really good and thick. Now it was not leaking anymore - but it didn't look too pretty. Still, I'd rather have it look less pretty and NOT leak glitter food coloring water all over.

My almost 5yr old wants to make another one and this time put fake fish in it too. I think she is on to something :)

Meal Plan 2/11-2/17

For lunches this week, I made Chicken Salad for sandwiches (at my 4yr old's request), and will be making a pot of turkey vegetable soup with barley added also.

{The Menu}

Monday - Balsamic Cherry Chicken w/fresh sauteed green beans and brown rice

Tuesday - Crockpot Turkey Chili and corn bread

Wednesday - Grilled Chicken w/pasta and veg

Thursday - Crockpot BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches on Whole Wheat Buns (3-4 chicken breasts with bottle of Archer Farms/Target Hawaiian-Style BBQ sauce and can of pineapple. Cook on low 8 hours. Shredding is effortless after cooking all day. Serve on whole wheat bun with lettuce and other toppings as desired.)

Friday - Taco Pockets (Brown 1lb ground turkey - or beef if you prefer - and mix in packet of taco seasonings according to directions. Using refrigerated biscuit dough, fold meat mixture and some shredded cheese into biscuit dough to make little sealed packets. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until dough is cooked. Top with tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, salsa, taco sauce, etc.

Saturday - Out/Leftovers. We will be out and about at a couple of parties and not sure we will be starving for dinner so will leave this open for leftovers.

Sunday - Beef Stew. One of my favorites this time of year. Comfort food! (2lbs beef stew meat, 1 packet of stew seasoning, 1 can tomato soup, 1 soup can of water, bag of frozen mixed vegetables, 1 medium onion cut up, chopped red potatoes. Cook on low 8-10 hours in crockpot.)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Meal Plan 2/4-2/10

{The Menu}

This is one of those weeks that I am trying to NOT go to the grocery store, or at least a very small trip if needed. That being said, our menu is a little on the boring side, but here it is.

Monday - Pasta w/grilled chicken, sauteed zucchini, tomato, and salad. This may have already changed. Found out hubby has to work late tonight and dinners like this are just not fun to make for me and two kids who will pick at it. I can almost guarantee this will get bumped to another night this week and the kids and I will make something more "fun" (thinking pigs in a blanket or french toast?) to go with our Aladdin movie night.

Tuesday - Crockpot Chicken Tacos w/black beans and brown rice. Hands down, one of our favorite meals, pretty healthy, and soooo easy. This makes it on the menu a lot. Throw 3 or more frozen (or un-frozen) chicken breasts in the crockpot with a jar of salsa, and can of rinsed/drained black beans. Cook on low all day (or high if you forget and throw it in later) and then shred (it will practically shred itself). Corn or flour tortillas with brown rice, lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream, taco sauce or anything else you would want on a taco/burrito. 3 chicken breasts is perfect for us to get 2 meals out of. Adjust according to your family size/preference for leftovers. I usually make the kids quesadillas on these days because they usually won't eat these. Also this a swim lesson night at our house so it is always nice to not have to worry about making dinner on those.

Wednesday - leftovers

Thursday - Crockpot Turkey Goulash w/tri-color rotini.

Friday - leftovers

Saturday - out to dinner/date (this is up in the air depending on babysitting availability, but if it doesn't happen, I know where to put that meal from tonight that won't happen)

Sunday - Tator Tot Casserole w/ground turkey