Meals of the Week [9/16 – 9/22]

Now that I’m staying home full time and we don’t have my income, we’re trying to be smarter with money. One way we can do that is with meal planning and avoid falling into the takeout trap from places like Chipotle, Panera, or Salvatore’s.

Brody and I did our weekly trip to Woodman’s (at probably the worst time ever) yesterday, and I am very excited for our meals this week.

Burgers on the Grill
Brody makes a mean burger, and I don’t see us grilling much anymore with fall approaching. He puts lots of spices, Worcestershire sauce, and other lovelies to doctor up the ground chuck. Nestled between a toasted kaiser roll with lettuce, tomato, mayo, and ketchup, it’ll be a farewell to summer meal. On the side, we’ll probably have Bush’s baked beans.

Enchiladas
Tacos are a staple at our house, so it’s nice to mix it up with something a little different. I use ground beef (from Jacobson Brothers), cheddar cheese, and red enchilada sauce. I keep it simple.

Chicken Florentine Pasta
While Brody and Finley slept yesterday morning, I caught an episode of The Pioneer Woman featuring 16 minute meals. While I’m sure what takes her 16 minutes will take me 32, I was intrigued by this pasta recipe. Plus I’d get to use up all of the tomatoes from my plant.

Beef with Snow Peas
This was another 16 minute meal by Ree, and I knew Brody would be on board with this one. It uses flank steak, which I have never used in a stir fry. We don’t get any beef products from Woodman’s, so I’ll have to swing by Costco this week to pick up the two-packs they have of flank steak.

Banana Muffins
I’ll probably be the only one who eats these, and they will be great for breakfasts. I’ve been into muffins lately instead of toast: sweet potato muffins, zucchini muffins, and now banana muffins. My plans were to make pumpkin muffins (those will happen late next week), but Woodman’s had bags of overly ripe bananas for 99 cents, and I knew I had a banana muffin recipe in my binder that I had never tried. These aren’t super healthy, but it’s also not like eating dessert for breakfast. Just to make sure they were okay, I tested one. Yup, they’re okay. Actually, pretty perfect: chewy outside and soft inside. I did omit the nuts because I spread copious amounts of peanut butter on them anyways.

Questions:
Do you like grocery shopping and meal planning?
What are you making this week that you’re excited about?

Banana Bread and Tuna Salad (recipes, and not to be eaten together)

On Sunday morning after our guests left, I had a bit of energy. This was strange considering I had gotten less than seven hours of sleep the night before. So while Brody relaxed and snoozed on the couch, I got to cooking and baking. Note: I crashed on the couch later and napped from 4:00-5:00pm.

I feel so productive when I can get food-related tasks completed over the weekend. It makes my life less stressful when I have a few meals planned, the items purchased, and if possible, some of the prep work done ahead of time.

During my Sunday morning trip to Woodman’s, which is my FAVORITE time to grocery shop, I picked up some goodies for the week. I got the ingredients for Oma’s casserole (Oma being Brody’s great-grandmother), turkey meatballs, and tuna salad. I grabbed a jar of marinara sauce to go with the Costco chicken and mozzarella ravioli in the freezer for an easy, quick dinner one night. Woodman’s also had large bags of slightly over ripe bananas for 99 cents. You know I picked up one of those.

Once I was ready to channel Martha Stewart, the Barefoot Contessa (with Brody as my Jeffery of course), or whoever, I first looked up banana bread recipes. Somewhere during my search, I saw a recipe for ginger banana bread and was immediately intrigued. That search brought up this recipe, and after realizing I had all of the ingredients, including the buttermilk, and didn’t need to leave the house again, I was ready to roll.

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I over-baked the bread by a minute or two (however, nothing like Bridget’s over-baking experience). After thirty minutes, the toothpick was still quite wet, but I think an additional five minutes was too much. It is also possible that because of the lack of oil or butter in this recipe, it’s not going to be a super moist banana bread.

I’ve enjoyed eating a thick slice as an afternoon snack and for breakfast with some sunflower seed butter smeared on top.

As for the rest of those bananas? They were peeled, broken into chunks, and placed a in large ziplock bag for future smoothies.

While the banana bread was baking, I got to work on the tuna salad. Now Brody cannot STAND when I make and peel hard boiled eggs. He gags, makes faces, and tells me he can’t believe I eat such weird food. He behaves similarly when I occasionally eat tuna (and a long list of other foods).

And yet…he loves this tuna salad. It’s his mom’s recipe, so I get it. I also love it, so it’s a win win.
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Tuna Salad

-large can of tuna packed in water (I have not tried using albacore yet – I’m worried it’ll change the flavor)

-three hard boiled eggs

-a few large spoonfuls of (Light) Miracle Whip (not mayo)

-three chunks of pickled watermelon rind, chopped as finely as possible (can be found I believe by the pickles and olives in a grocery store)

-a squirt or two of sweet pickle relish

-1/2 an onion, chopped finely

-1/2 cup of celery, chopped finely

-freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS: Mix is all together and eat.

The relish and watermelon rind add an interesting sweetness to it. I hope you like it as much as Brody and I do! We had it for dinner Sunday night over toasted sesame bread and snacked on the rest of it on Monday after work.

As for Oma’s casserole, I’ll share that one another time.

Questions:

Do you have a go-to banana bread or tuna salad recipe to share?

How much food prep do you do on the weekends? *I often hard boil eggs, but this weekend I also chopped green peppers for Oma’s casserole.

A Weekend in (mostly food) Photos

My weekend improved vastly after my lame (yet amazing) Friday night. Look – I have proof.

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I started off Saturday morning with a satisfying breakfast: egg scramble and a sandwich thin.

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An apple cider donut, double Americano, and an apple made up my lunch.

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There were so many autumnal colors at the farmers market!

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A picture not of food! The dogs and I made it to the park in the afternoon once it got a little warmer; we walked over two miles.

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I got ready to supervise a high school dance!

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Salvatore’s was consumed pre-dance. As always, it was delicious, and I loved introducing the restaurant to my coworkers.

No picture of the dance, but I do have to say…I had a blast! My coworkers are fantastic. We were given walkie talkies, and we did not want to return them at the end of the night. My code name was Daisy, another coworker was Roscoe, another one was Bosshog…Good times.

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After a speedy 8.3 mile run (average pace, 9:30!) today, I microwaved half of the spaghetti squash I purchased at the farmers market and ate it with Jenna’s meat sauce for lunch. Why has it taken me this long to try this squash?!?!

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My Woodman’s haul. Some highlights: 99 cent Larabars, a pork tenderloin for a Real Simple recipe, a Trilogy kombucha, PB Cheerios, and chocolate milk.

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The cooler temps got me craving granola. Is there a correlation or am I crazy? Regardless, I made a big batch. I used good quality Wisconsin maple syrup, and I swear it makes a difference.

Now I’m off to pick up Brody from the airport. He spent the weekend in Montana for a wedding, and sadly, I couldn’t take off of work to go. He took a few pictures himself, including this one:

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His text message said, “Don’t we look good?” What a goofball.

Questions:
Did you go to your high school’s dances?
Do you grocery shop on the weekends or during the week?
What yummy food did you eat this weekend?

Welcoming Fall

Happy first day of fall!

Can you believe it’s already September 21st? Just insane. Before we know it, it’ll be Thanksgiving, Christmas, and…well, you get the idea. Does time go by faster the older you get? It sure seems so.

While I love many things about fall, which I’ll detail below, it is NOT my favorite season. With fall comes winter, and this Wisconsin born and bred girl does not like the cold. Last winter was the best winter I could’ve asked for: it snowed twice and was not very cold. Please, Mother Nature, give me another winter like that.

And yet, there are some pretty, delicious, and fun aspects to this season.

1. Cooler temps for running

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Last year, the weather for the Haunted Hustle was perfect – I wore pants and long sleeves for the entire 13.1 miles. To my surprise, I even found myself enjoying running in the snow and even colder temperatures.

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Mel and I smiling after a ten mile run last winter. I’m excited for more of these runs!

2. Sweaters
As mentioned above, I dislike being cold. I must be a cold-blooded person. Sweaters and dress pants are my weekday uniform, and for weekends, I swap out the dress pants for jeans or yoga pants. My sweater collection needs a little pick-me-up, though, and the $10 gift card to Kohl’s I received in the mail may come in handy for that. In the spring, I try to pick up a few discounted sweaters at Gap or Old Navy, but I think I forgot to do that this year. Yup, definitely going shopping right after I hit publish.

3. Butternut squash
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I haven’t talked about it at all, but Brody and I did a CSA this summer. For the last few years, I pressured Brody to do one, and he finally caved in this year. The farm dropped the goodies off right at his office. Very convenient. Unfortunately, I did a craptastic job of using the veggies and herbs (especially the herbs). Lots of veggies were roasted, lots of salads were made, but sadly, lots of produce was thrown away. Sad face. But, one item that will never be go to waste: butternut squash. This baby will be morphed into soup, likely using Liz’s posted recipe.

4. Costco opening (only this fall)
Sometime next month, the Costco a half a mile from my house opens. Two weeks ago, the actual signs were up and it became real. I am both excited and nervous. Shopping for food is like a hobby for me, and now I’ll have Costco, Target, and Woodman’s all within a half mile of each other. You know where to find me every weekend.

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Also, have you had their frozen yogurt? It is delicious, and I told Brody I will probably go just for that.

5. Uggs and ballet flats
My feet aren’t pretty, and I blame it on the years they spent in pointe shoes and now running shoes. Flip flops are great, and my feet love to breathe, but I prefer to hide them from my coworkers and students. On cold or snowy mornings, I wear my Uggs to school and then switch to ballet flats, many of which are colorful. Hmmm, maybe I’ll look at shoes at Kohl’s, too.

When I start to complain about all of the negatives that come with fall (e.g. shorter days, dark mornings, grading on the weekends, etc.), I will look back on this list. I will also remind myself that time goes by too quickly and to slow down and appreciate moments in every season.

Question:
What do you love and/or dislike about fall?

Life is Busy Again

Hey! I got a random bit for you. Thanks for sticking around as I readjust to life as a working adult again. I promise I am not as scatterbrained as this post makes me seem.

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Even though Moose loves human food, he is often too lazy to move to get it. Maybe this popcorn wasn’t tempting enough.

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Aren’t Real Simple recipes amazing? This one was great, but Brody and I decided it needed a little something extra. Red pepper flakes? Garlic? Crumbled bacon? Cream? All four?

This week I also made Cuban pork sandwiches and enchiladas, AND I baked these (but with plain Chobani instead of oil). Love Jenna’s recipes.

I think that because I have been such an amazing cook/wife this week, Brody felt I deserved a few presents:
1) A giant oatmeal chocolate chip cookie from Potbelly’s
2) A gift card to Starbucks (It was a gift to him but he’s super anti-Starbucks. He’s actually never set foot in a Starbucks in his life.)
3) A women’s Keep Calm and Chive On shirt

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I can’t wait to be twinsies with Brody and send in a picture of us to The Chive.

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I found the bar section at Woodman’s. It is a thing of beauty. So many bars. I went for a handful of “lady bars” as JP calls them. This new-to-me bar was kind of blah; it almost crumbled as I ate it. Brody had a better experience; he accidentally grabbed the chocolate coconut and liked it. He thought it tasted like a Samoas Girl Scout cookie.

Sons of Anarchy. Whoa. That was some intense s***. Some of my thoughts (numbered of course):
1) Poor Tigey (sp?). That scene with his daughter was so horrible.
2) I know Clay is up to something – there is no way he came clean about Piney because it was the right thing to do.
3) Please don’t let Jacks (or is it Jax?) turn in to a version of Clay.
4) Tara seems like more of a badass now: smoking, agreeing to carry, the bangs and darker eyeliner.

On the exercise/running front, I am running a leg of a marathon relay this weekend. The North Face Endurance Challenge is up in the Kettle Morraine area, and two friends of ours are running the 50K. I cannot imagine running that far. I’m nervous about my 6.5 miles of trail running.

In case you’re wondering, WordPress still sucks big time! I am soooo annoyed. Grrr…

Questions:
What shows are you excited to start watching again?
What’s your favorite lady bar?
What’d you cook or bake this week?

I Got 5 On It

I often have the urge to title my posts after song lyrics or titles. “I Got 5 On It” by Luniz came out in 1995 but I remember hearing it when I was a sophomore in high school, which was 1999. My friends and I listened to inappropriate rap and hip hop songs, and my music still leans in this direction (especially when running). Anyways, upwards and onwards…

1. I love a good deal, and 79 cents for all of these bananas equals one amazing deal.
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During a quick trip to Woodman’s this morning (which may be an oxymoron since the store is gigantic), they had bags of reduced produce. I wonder if they do this every Thursday morning? I should’ve asked. #smoothiesandbananasoftserveforlife

2. Today was my last chance to take the incredible kickboxing class with my favorite instructor ever for the summer. So sad! It was, as always, a great class. I realized two new reasons why I love kickboxing: 1) It feels like dancing to me with choreography to music – it’s been so long since I’ve really danced, and this gives me a similar feeling, and 2) I feel really badass, like I could seriously punch someone out – as a peaceful, nonviolent, non-confrontational person, this is a unique experience. Jab, cross, hook, roar.

3. My best friend, Susan, from high school lives in Iowa but was visiting her family only an hour away from me. After nannying, I drove to see her and her family. It was so nice catching up, and it made me sad how we are not able to see each other more often. Her little boy, Aidan, is two years old and a little spitfire. As with many of my friends, I love how we’re able to pick up where we left off.
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4. Dinner for tonight cooked the whole day, and it felt good to not have to worry or stress about it when I got home after babysitting this afternoon. What’s in the pot?
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Pork and root beer. When cooked, I drain off the liquid, shred it, mix in BBQ sauce, chopped up pickles, jalapeƱos, and banana peppers, and serve it as a sandwich with shredded cheddar cheese.

5. There’s a pretty good chance I’ll be signing up for the Tyranena Beer Run half marathon on Nov. 3. I figured out a ten week training plan yesterday which starts on Monday. To get my butt in gear for running in the morning before school and/or running outside again, I did four miles yesterday morning in my neighborhood. Moose loves when I come home sweaty and tries to lick any available skin.
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This is fine for about ten seconds but then I get grossed out and annoyed that his tongue is hot. In case you’re grossed out, I shower immediately after the Moose “bath”.

Questions:
What’s your easy, go-to slow cooker meal?
Did you run today or have a race coming up? Let’s hear the details!

WIAW Summer Staples #3

Hey there! I took a handful of days off but I am back and ready to share random details of my life.

Wednesdays are What I Ate Wednesday around here, but I did a craptastic job taking photos yesterday. If you want better photos of food and real recipes, please head over to Jenn’s link-up and check out some new blogs.

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Breakfast @ 7:00
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This has become a summer staple for me: peanut butter toast with chia seeds. I rarely have toast during the school year because overnight oats are just so much easier. For more staying power, I had a strawberry banana Chobani. Although you can’t see it, I also had an iced coffee with skim milk.

Snack @ 11:30am
I drove to school to meet with a couple of my colleagues for a little curriculum work. It went awesome and I was so happy with what we developed! Time flew by and it wasn’t until 11:30 that I noticed my stomach growling. I ate cut up cantaloupe.
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Lunch @ 12:45pm
Driving back home and to a doctor’s appointment, I ate lunch in the car: pork and chicken sausage and roasted green beans.
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The sausage was an item Brody actually chose while shopping at Woodman’s on Saturday. The stats are better than normal sausage with 200 calories, 15 grams of fat, and 16 grams of protein per link. They have great flavor and would be delicious in a pasta dish.

Snack @ 2:30pm
Lunch didn’t keep me satisfied, so I had half a Flatout light wrap with TJ’s peanut butter.

Snack (drink) @ 4:00pm
Yah for kombucha! I love this stuff, but sadly this was the last one in my fridge. The trilogy flavor is one of my favorites. This quenched my thirst after an afternoon trip to the dog park. Now that Woodman’s is so close and the prices are the cheapest, I see kombucha being more of a year-round staple.

Snack @ 6:00pm
Yup, three small snacks in one afternoon. A friend and I ran three miles, and I knew we wouldn’t be eating dinner right away. That other half of the Flatout wrap? Ate that with more peanut butter.

Dinner @ 7:30pm
My pizza had spinach, green onions, tomatoes, red pepper, goat cheese, a little mozzarella, Garlic Gold Italian Herb seasoning, and DiSalvo’s pizza sauce (seriously the best sauce ever). My crust was naan. I ate it all.
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For dessert, I polished off the last half cup of triple espresso gelato I picked out at Woodman’s. This flavor was so amazing – very intense coffee flavor and super creamy.
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Have a fantastic Wednesday!

Questions:
What has been your go-to breakfast this summer?
Do you make pizza a lot? Favorite sauce, toppings, or crust?

Thursday Photo and Word Dump

Good afternoon! I hope your day is going well. I initially planned on just dumping a bunch of photos into this post but the English teacher in me begged me for words, explanations, and useless details. Obviously she won.

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I bought a new shower curtain because the last one I bought was way too long. This new one was meant for a stall shower which is basically what we have. It was also too long.

Seriously? I just had to laugh. And then I got creative.

What you see in the photo is some smart, innovative problem solving. Three safety pins to the rescue.

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I killed this plant. It’s been under my care for at least eight years. After moving from the spare bedroom to the master to the other spare bedroom, I think I put it through too much. RIP plant.

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Brody and I met for lunch today. He had an intense craving for Mexican so we hit up Pasquals. The seasoning they out on their chips is delicious, and the wrap I had was so fresh and veggie-filled. The Sedona Veggie Wrap gets an A from Angie.

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Woodman’s is officially open. I was a little upset when I found out they had been open for the last two days unofficially (soft opening) because I would’ve gone. Kombuchas were only $3! At Copps you pay $4.50. #kombuchahighwayrobbery
Now my fridge is stocked with kombucha and margaritas from last night.
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If your mouth is salivating over the margaritas, you are in luck. Here’s the recipe:

1 cup tequila
1/2 can frozen limeade
1/2 can frozen lemonade
1/2 can frozen cran-raspberry juice
1 liter white soda (I used diet 7up)
1 can beer (like Corona)

Mix together and drink.

P.S. It is probably easier to double the recipe like I did so you don’t have half cans of frozen drink mix left.

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Because of the storms this morning, we didn’t get to the park until later. Instead of walking the loop, I ran it. Three times around is just over two miles. Killing two birds with one stone. Or in this case, two dogs…and they’re not dead. Just tired.

Tonight is Wine and Recipe night so expect some fantastic recipes, including one for the tres leches cake, tomorrow.

Peace out!