Meal Plan [5/17/2015-5/22/2015]

I’ve still been meal planning but have clearly fallen off the “post about it” bandwagon. I’ve also lost my cooking and freezer meal prepping mojo. Instead of nesting in this manner, I find myself doing micro-cleaning (drawers, going through my clothes to bring to Goodwill, bringing vacuum to be cleaned, etc.), making and attending appointments (dentist, vet, etc.) and resting in my bed, often napping. But, back to the food. 

I can’t grocery shop now without meal planning, so although I may not stick to a week’s plan (hello Papa Murphy’s pizza – you’re so easy and convenient), my intentions are there. 

Although this wasn’t part of our meal plan for he week, I made these cookies yesterday to bring to a neighbor’s house, as we were invited over for dinner. They are so so so good. 

Oh, and I made these cinnamon rolls for breakfast yesterday. Thanks to Kimberly for introducing me to this brand!  

It looks like I was into sugar yesterday. Today will be better…maybe. Hopefully. But there are two cinnamon rolls left. And two cookies. And Popsicles. 

Okay, for real. Here’s what I think we’ll be eating this week. Enjoy!

Sunday: leftovers or pulled pork

I cooked a pork butt or shoulder, I forget, in homemade beef bone broth overnight in the garage. Is that wrong? Pork cooking in beef? I’ve used root beer in the past but didn’t have any, and I’ve got lots of various bone broths in the deep freeze taking up space. Anyways, I’ll be freezing a bunch of it, but for what we’ll eat, I mix in BBQ sauce and chopped pickles, jalepenos, and banana peppers. 

Monday: pulled pork and Mediterranean pepper salad

Tuesday: teriyaki meatballs with snow peas and edamame

It calls for chicken, but I almost always use ground turkey. I’ve made this recipe so many times, I can do it without looking at the recipe. It’s a keeper!

Wednesday: enchilada skillet

Thursday: chicken thighs with roasted cauliflower

I made these thighs last week, and Brody and I both gobbled them up. He wasn’t a fan of the sauce – too mustardy – but I liked it…but not enough to make another serving for myself. Basically I’m copying her cooking technique and spices for chicken thighs. Nothing fancy. 

Friday: buffalo chicken pasta

What’s on your meal plan for the week? Do share!

To end, here’s a picture of Finley christening our outdoor patio furniture and table.   

She’s not a messy eater at all. 😜

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Finally Friday Facts

1. We have farm fresh eggs! I found a woman on a resale group I’m in on Facebook who lives just outside of Waunakee selling them for $2.40/dozen. I picked up two dozen yesterday and plan on having eggs for breakfast after Finley wakes up. 

2. Finley has to be going through a growth spurt. She’s been eating more than normal, taking 2-3 hour naps every day this week, and been very moody. Sometimes she’s so happy and fun, and at other times she’s throwing a tantrum and insonsolable. I realize this last part is basically the definition of “toddler” but it’s been more dramatic recently. 

3. The freezer is looking good! I’ll do a full update later, but I’ve got eleven dinner items, which each will easily give us two meals. Yesterday I added chicken taco chili and oven baked chicken fajitas to the stash. If you have a favorite freezer meal, send it my way please!

4. Crazylegs is not looking good. I was excited to walk it tomorrow with two friends while pushing Finley in the stroller, but it’s most definitely going to rain. And be cold. And be windy. Yuck! 

5. My thumb nail is almost gone. If you can recall, I slammed my thumb in my car door about two months ago (the day before I broke out in hives from amoxicillan – I was a mess!). Well it died, and the new nail has been growing in. It’s an ugly process, and I’ll spare you photos. Fingers crossed it looks somewhat normal soon because… ⬇️

6. My sister’s wedding is two weeks away! I pick up my bridesmaids dress from the seamstress on Monday; hopefully it fits well and I don’t look ridiculous (not because of the dress, which is beautiful, but because I’m 8 months pregnant). 

7. After two attempts by Brody to buy patio furniture, third times a charm. We can’t wait to sit outside, eat meals, and just relax back there! It should arrive the second week in May.  

8. I’m thinking about buying the Solly Wrap for Baby Girl. Anyone have it? I have an Ergo and K’tan, but this one looks so comfy and easy. I hope to wear this baby a lot more than I did Finley. 

9. Brody and I have two nights out coming up: a birthday dinner for me at The Tempest tomorrow night and a “gala” next weekend. We’ve got to squeeze these in before life is flipped upside down with having a newborn. 

10. This girl – she’s awesome.   

     Have a great Friday and weekend!

How I Nest: Stock the Freezer

A couple weeks ago, I had the urge to pull Finley’s 0-9 month clothes out of storage, wash everything, and hang it all in Baby’s room. So that’s done. 

Baby’s room is almost complete. We need to install the monitor (we ended up buying the same wifi one we have for Finley), buy and put up a tree stencil, and do a little more decorating with small items. I do have a few more items to purchase (sound machine is on back order, maybe the Solly Wrap, and newborn diapers). 

Otherwise, we are pretty much set. So how does this mama continue to nest? I make food. 

After Finley was born, we survived on quick meals for about three months: frozen ravioli, sausages, Stoeffer’s lasagna, and who knows what else. All I remember is that I rarely cooked. I know that after Baby is born, I’m not going to feel motivated to cook, and even if I am, I may not have the time or energy. Plus, those easy meals aren’t all doable anymore with our more grain-free lifestyle. Enter: freezer meals.

If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I’m in a freezer meal group that meets monthly. From that I’ve accumulated a bunch of recipes I know we like and that freeze well. Otherwise I’ve started bookmarking new recipes and going through ones I’ve already bookmarked which I assume would be fine frozen for a few months.

Even if you’re not preparing for a baby, having meals ready can be so nice for busy weeks or to gift to friends with new babies, sick family members, or new neighbors. 

Here’s what’s in my freezer so far:

Chicken wings (from February’s freezer meal group)

Crockpot sesame honey chicken

Chili chicken, kale and quinoa casserole (I used rice instead of quinoa and didn’t add black beans because I didn’t have any.)

Crockpot Santa Fe chicken

Playgroup granola bars (I used less sugar, coconut oil, and chocolate chips but no raisins.)

Small loaf of Paleo banana bread (The recipe made enough for two small loaves, and we ate one to try. Thanks to Kate for sharing this one on her blog!)

Blueberry muffins (I didn’t make the glaze. Also, Finley and I have tapped into that bag for a couple breakfasts last week. Whoops!)

Taco meat (No recipe other than beef from the 1/4 of a cow we bought this fall and Costco taco seasoning.)

Crockpot cashew chicken (I can’t find the recipe online, but there are tons out there.)

Here’s what I want to prepare still:

Double pumpkin muffins

More Paleo banana bread (link above)

Lots of waffles for Finley (The recipe is from my friend’s cookbook, which I’ll share how to purchase once it’s available.) 

Tomato and lentil soup

Chicken and broccoli rice casserole

Maple nut baked oatmeal

Crockpot short rib tacos 

Chicken tortilla casserole

Do you have any great freezer meals? As you can see, I’ve got lots of chicken ones, so maybe other kinds of meat or vegetarian options. Thanks!

Freezer Meals for February

On Monday night, six of us met to assemble six dishes. I had taken a couple months off to clear out the stash of food in our deep freeze(r?), and I was excited to be back. The food for this month was also more grain-free/Paleo-friendly than previous. Score!

Granola Bars



These didn’t even make it to the freezer because I knew I wanted to bake them immediately for breakfasts and snacks this week. They are super yummy! I plan on wrapping most of them up individually and freezing them, because while Finley and I could polish these off pretty quickly, we probably shouldn’t. Also, if I make these again in the future, which I already plan on doing, I’ll use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil.

Chili Chicken, Kale and Quinoa Casserole

I’m looking forward to making this one because it looked really pretty! Normally casseroles are ugly – right? This also sounds like it would be a good spring or summer dish, so maybe if it’s a winner, I’ll make another one to store in my deep freeze for after Baby is born.

Zuppa Toscana

  • 1 lb sausage, browned (I used mild ground Italian sausage)
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 3 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed 
  • 16 oz spinach (frozen is fine)
  • 5 cups broth
  • 8 oz heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbs minced garlic
  • 2-3 slices cooked bacon (optional)
  • salt and pepper

Cook on low for 6 hours.

*Don’t include the potatoes. Keep them in your pantry until you make the soup. You also don’t need to include the broth in the bag.

Meatball and Veggie Soup

This was such a colorful bag of soup when it was finished! Check out all the veggies in it. This also could be a nice warmer weather soup. And by warmer I mean 30 degrees or higher. 

  • 32 oz bag of meatballs (don’t add to gallon ziplock bag – it won’t fit with everything else – just keep in freezer until you’re ready to make the soup)
  • 6 cups Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 16 oz spinach (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 cups green peppers, diced
  • 1 cup each summer squash and zucchini, diced (store in separate smaller bag and add to soup for the last hour of cooking – this can be frozen though)
  • 64 oz tomato juice (don’t add to gallon ziplock – keep in pantry and add the day of cooking)
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • 1 tbs dried basil
  • 1 tbs dried parsley
  • Salt and pepper

Cook on low for 4 hours, adding the squash and zucchini in the last hour.

Sweet Garlic Chicken

I made this for dinner Wednesday night and was pleasantly surprised. Other than slow cooker chicken that is shredded, I’ve had not so good luck with whole breasts. They end up dry and blah except for the sauce on the outside. These were a smidge dry but still tasty. Next time (because I only cooked one pound) I’ll reduce the cooking time even more.

  • 2 lbs chicken breasts
  • 1 tbs BBQ seasoning
  • 1 tbs Garlic and Herb seasoning
  • 1 tbs Asian seasoning
  • 2/3 cup pomegranate balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbs cornstarch 
  • 1/2 cup water

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

So ya, I disagree with the cooking time. While I did have half the amount of chicken, mine were done on low after four hours (or maybe less). Also, the sauce wasn’t very thick, so I took it out, heated it over the stove, and added a tapioca starch/water mixture to thicken it. You could use cornstarch but I didn’t have any.

Chicken Wings (no link or original source provided)

  • 2.5 lbs chicken legs and/or wings
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbs ketchup
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Place (thawed, if frozen) marinated chicken in a 9 x 13 baking dish and bake for one hour.

Happy cooking and eating!

Question:

Anyone out there also in a freezer meal group or make freezer meals on their own? 

Meal Plan for Sunday, Feb. 8 – Saturday, Feb. 14

I’m posting this on an odd, likely non-shopping day for most folks, but you may always be looking for new recipes. I bookmark mine and go through them when I meal plan.

Also, this post was mostly done on Sunday, but I forgot to finish it and add the links. If you’re anything like me, though, mid-week you realize you’ve forgotten something you need for the week (truth #1) or run out of milk (truth #2).

Sunday: pineapple cashew fried rice

Monday (Brody’s birthday!!!): pork burgers and roasted cauliflower

Tuesday: kielbasa (roasted garlic kind from Costco) and roasted potatoes

Wednesday: oven baked chicken fajitas

Thursday: sloppy Josephines (like sloppy joes but with some veggies snuck in)

Friday: Asian-style ground pork in lettuce cups

Saturday: steak and potato salad

*These last three meals are recipes I’m testing for a friend writing a cookbook geared towards feeding toddlers healthy, good food. How cool is that!

My meals are also interchangeable throughout the week (as long as the meat is thawed or can thaw quickly). I’ll ask Brody what he’s in the mood for based on the options; sometimes he has an opinion and sometimes he doesn’t. If possible, I’ll do some or all prep during Finley’s afternoon nap since 5-6pm can still be somewhat of a witching hour for her.

Let me know if you try any of these!

Meal Plan for Saturday, January 31 – Thursday, Feb. 5

Happy Sunday!

I did my meal planning on Saturday morning because I knew I’d have the opportunity to grocery shop alone during Finley’s nap. Brody’s dad is visiting from Switzerland, so while he and Brody watched a documentary about The Basement Tapes (amazing by the way!), I drove to Copps in Middleton.

I prefer to do my grocery shopping at Woodmans, but I knew it would be busy and I didn’t feel like driving into Sun Prairie for the fifth time in a week. One benefit of this store is there’s a Starbucks in the same strip mall area, so I picked up a decaf Americano with a few pumps of skinny mocha.

This week’s meals are nothing spectacular and include lots of leftover nights because Brody will be gone skiing and my mom will be visiting. This was a chance to make a couple things Brody doesn’t love or won’t eat that I will enjoy and make for good leftovers.

Saturday: carry out from Salvatore’s (we had the Forestiere and Forza)
*Brody’s dad loves their pizza like we do, so we knew we’d have it one night he was here. We picked it up after taking Finley ice skating for the first time.

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Sunday: Ohio Farmhouse Sausage Chili (from The Joy of Cooking), cornbread, and side salad

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Monday: leftovers and/or something from the freezer

Tuesday: Emily’s sloppy joes on baked potatoes

Wednesday: The Pioneer Woman’s chicken spaghetti

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: leftovers

Are you watching the Super Bowl? We will be, although I may be hitting up a prenatal yoga class from 4:30-5:30pm. Then I’ll come home to watch football, chase Finley around and eat yummy food.

Meal Plan 1/11/15-1/17/15

Brody and I have let our preferred way of eating slide over the last couple months. We both felt great sticking to a mainly grain-free diet, and as I mentioned, Brody dropped a significant amount of weight.

Then I got pregnant. All I wanted to eat for the month of October was carbs. Tortilla chips (GF, but still). Bagels with cream cheese. Bread. Cereal. I went to town. I felt nauseated almost every day for a month, and the thought of food, especially meat, would make me want to hurl (which I never did, thank goodness). I could barely meal plan. I’d go to Costco and come home with Aussie bites (which Finley ate most of), mozzarella sticks, fish sticks, pre-made Caesar salad and tomato basil soup.

My grain-loving self then rubbed off on Brody, and he found himself “cheating” more.

The last straw was the holidays. There’s no avoiding all the sugar, carbs and booze (unless you have an allergy and/or are pregnant).

Now that life has returned to normal and my appetite is back, Brody and I are trying to get back on track. Much of this falls on me since I’m the one who grocery shops and meal plans. While pregnant, though, I’m still going to keep some grains in my diet. They do not cause me discomfort, I’m not looking to lose weight, and they make me happy.

Lunches (for me): beef and barley soup
*I used the broth, which had been in our deep freezer, I made from the leftover rib roasts from Christmas.

Sunday: Calzones (from Brittany Angel’s book, Every Last Crumb)

Monday: Steak stir fry

Tuesday: Crock Pot ginger chicken (a freezer meal) and roasted broccoli

Wednesday: Smoked kielbasa (from Costco) and roasted potatoes

Thursday: Pork Szechuan stir fry

Friday: Wing it/order takeout

Saturday: Dinner at The Immigrant Room at The American Club in Kohler!!!

Sorry I don’t have many actual recipes this week, as this was kind of a “clean out the freezer” week. Next week maybe I’ll be more adventurous and interesting.

Pasta Cooking Class

Brody and I took a break from packing and stressing about our housing situation to make pasta. Finley stayed home with a babysitter, and we did some eating of gluten and drinking of booze. It was fun!

At a charity event for Make a Wish months ago, we went in with two other couples for a silent auction item: a pasta cooking class at A Pig in a Fur Coat. The class was for up to fifteen people, but we ended up having ten. Brody and I had eaten there once before and loved it, so we were excited to learn from a professional how to make a food we don’t eat anymore. Ha! But it’s not like we can’t and won’t eat pasta anymore; we just do in very sparingly.

A Pig in a Fur Coat recently finished the space behind the restaurant. We were technically their guinea pigs, as we were the first class they taught. Chef Dan shared a little about his background in the food business, and then we got going.

First we made the dough and let it rest for a bit. To make the pasta, we split into boys and girls. There was butternut squash ravioli, ricotta ravioli, and something similar to linguine.

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We watched Chef Dan cook our pasta, and he showed us the sauces each would be paired with. The pesto smelled incredible! We learned he doesn’t put pinenuts in his pesto. The brown butter sage sauce smelled heavenly, and it was so easy to make. The third, a simple tomato sauce, was very fresh.

A table in the actual restaurant was set up for us to eat the pasta we made. Chef Dan also brought out bread with chorizo and an heirloom tomato salad. It was a delicious mid-afternoon meal. Our babysitter had mentioned that she loved their fries (cooked in duck fat!), so I put in an order for those. Everything was so yummy! The three glasses of wine I drank while there weren’t too shabby either.

To continue the afternoon of fun, we moved the party to Old Sugar Distillery. We’ve been there a handful of times already, and they make a mean cocktail. They have outdoor seating as well. I ordered the Honey Cap – so good.

Brody and I got home at 6pm to a very happy Finley. She was in such a good mood! Although she was a little crabby after we left, she took a great nap for Emma and woke up smiling.

Finley went to sleep around 7pm, and Brody and I continued our gluttonous ways and ate Salvatore’s pizza for dinner.

It was a very nice day.

I Whine for a Bit and Then List Ten Happies (not a real word)

Like everyone, I’m in shock that it’s August already. In my previous life as an English teacher, this is when I would start to freak out/get excited about the beginning of a new school year. I’d be planning units, getting my classroom ready, and reconnecting with colleagues. I miss that. Whoa – I didn’t intend for this post to get all down-in-the-dumps so quickly, but it’s been a little rough around here lately.

Big “first world problems” happening in our household. For one, as I explained already, we sold our house. Fast. Now we don’t have a new house to move into…that is unless you count our friends’ basement. We’ve been packing up the last seven years of our lives, and our dining and living rooms are filled with boxes. The walls are empty and closets are half full. It’s sad, but I’m okay. We are so incredible fortunate to have amazing friends who have offered up space in their house to live and/or store some of our belongings that we don’t want in storage.

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This week, we were THIS close to having a great house. The house was on the market last year, didn’t sell, and was for sale again. We put in a few informal offers, and it seemed like she may accept. Then she changed her mind. And then we almost had it again. And then she said she was going to take it off the market. Hope, sadness, hope, sadness. After this last rejection, Brody and I have both moved on and realized this house will not be our forever home.

Our options now are to either wait for a house (in our price range that we like) to come on the market in the one neighborhood (fully developed, elementary school, pool, sidewalks, green space, etc.) we like, or build in a different neighborhood (which is also a really nice area but still being developed obviously). If we build and commit by September 1, the house would be complete by January 15. Such big decisions.

Another “first world problem” we’re dealing with is Finley. Oh my. Fevers, crabbiness, runny noses, night wakings, and did I mention crabbiness? I keep reminding myself of how horrible she must feel. I’ve heard that if adults experienced the pain babies feel when their teeth come in, we’d all be on high strength pain killers.

There have been some very good moments too in the past couple weeks. It’s not like me to be such a Debbie Downer, so here are ten awesome things about my life:

1. Finley is becoming a walker! It’s so cool to see her moving like a person.

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2. We took a family trip to the zoo (on Finley’s super crabby day), and we had a great time. It’s some good and interesting people watching there on the weekends! Finley seemed to like the ostrich the most.

3. As we pack, we’ve also been purging. Lots of trips to Goodwill and lots of crap thrown away (we bought a Bagster and will have Waste Management pick it up before we move).

4. I’ve had a few good long runs alone and with friends. However, Brody and I have decided to not run the Madison Mini anymore. This was going to be a race we ran together, and with him getting sick and injured and us moving, we’re not ready. We’d like to do a fall half marathon instead.

5. My mom sold her condo and is moving up north to the cottage permanently. She’s officially retired and will be living in a beautiful house on the best lake ever.

6. I made a delicious dinner two nights ago: PaleOMG’s Thai Pork and Veggie Meatballs. The sauce is ridiculous. If I wasn’t trying to clean out the random food in my freezer, I’d buy more pork and curry powder and make it again soon.

7. Finley loves her Radio Flyer. Every time we walk past it in the garage, she points and grunts. She holds on to the handlebars, and it’s pretty much the cutest thing ever.

8. Starbuck’s iced caramel machiaccto with whole milk = yum. I crave these all the time. I mean, why wouldn’t I? It’s the perfect combination of sugar, fat, and caffeine.

9. Today Brody and I are taking a pasta cooking class at A Pig in a Fur Coat with a bunch of other friends. We went in with two other couples and bid on the class through a raffle at a charity event. Yes, I know pasta is a grain and not Paleo/Primal. It’s a conscious cheat and will be worth it.

10. I read a book! My friend loaned me A Fault in Our Stars, and I really enjoyed it. I haven’t read a book for MONTHS (my previous English teacher self is scolding current SAHM self), and how I missed it. I once owned this book, but a student borrowed it and never returned it. Anyways, I’d like to see the movie now. Ha! Like that’ll happen.

Happy Saturday folks! Have a good weekend!

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June Freezer Meals

Although I have no photos, I’ve got some delicious freezer meal recipes to share.

I feel so blessed to have found (and been invited to) this group. Last month I bowed out as many of the recipes called for grains that Brody and I are avoiding. (Side note: We’re still going strong following a Paleo/Primal lifestyle. An update on this is long overdue, no?). But this month, all but one meal were basically meat, and we eat a lot of meat around here.

To the assembly night, we each brought four pounds of chicken (for two separate meals) and two 1-lb flank steaks. Otherwise, one woman bought everything else. We each owed her $46 and ended up with ten meals.

Turkey Picadillo
*Apparently this is quite good but spicy. My friend made it and served it over rice which cuts the heat a little.

Beef Enchiladas
*Because this has flour tortillas, I’m bringing it to a lunch play date at a friend’s house next week. Brody’s been much stricter while I strive for more of an 80/20 approach, so I’ll be chowing down on these.

Turkey Burgers
*This recipe was doubled, so I have eight burgers in my freezer.

Sweet Hawaiian Crockpot Chicken

Marinated Chicken
*I had four large chicken breasts in my gallon ziplock, which gives us two meals.

Marinated Flank Steak
*I bought a two pound steak and cut it in half. This will give us two meals. Also, I don’t have a recipe for this one – if I get it, I’ll post it next month.

Italian Beef

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*I’m not sure when or if I’ll make this one. Brody doesn’t care for slow cooked beef (texture issue), but it may be a perfect meal for a congrats-you-had-a-baby-and-don’t-have-time-to-shower-let-alone-cook situation.

Happy weekend folks!