Monthly Archives: May 2016

Week Deux

Weekend – Crockpot Turkey Meatball Soup

Prep – 15 minutes / Cook 8 hours (low)

DSC_0513Ingredients

4c veg stock
1c carrots, halved
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
3/4lb ground turkey
curry, cumin, cayenne, celery salt, pepper
breadcrumbs (optional)
pasta
**Add stock and all vegetables into crockpot, turn on high (my stock was still frozen). Prep the meatballs by adding any seasonings you prefer (add breadcrumbs if meat is too wet). Using a melon baller, roll into small meatballs and add directly to crockpot. Cook on high 4 hours and reduce to low for 4 hours. You cannot overcook this soup; however, you want to ensure the meat is cooked thoroughly. Boil any pasta you prefer and serve with soup and a buttered roll. Top with sour cream and chives.

sunday meal prep: chop celery and carrots, thaw stock (if you froze homemade stock), cook pasta
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Day1 – Edamame Burger Patties

Prep – 10 minutes / Cook – 8 minutes

DSC_0519Ingredients

2c edamame (thawed)
1c cooked brown rice (or frozen steamer)
1 egg or egg whites
ground ginger
garlic powder
s+p
oil**microwave edamame and rice 3-4 minutes until soft. Pulse in food processor with spices until finely chopped. Add egg and process until it comes together. Allow to cool slightly. Form into patties and cook 4-5 minutes on each side. Top with sriracha mayo.

sunday meal prep: prep patty mixture but do not form
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Day2 – Baked Caprese Chicken

Prep – 15 minutes / Cook 35 minutes

DSC_0525Ingredients

Chicken Breast
Egg/Egg White
Almond Meal
Basil (dry or fresh)
Diced Tomatoes
Mozzarella
Pasta/Rice
**Rinse chicken. Roll in egg and then almond meal (or breadcrumbs) and place on a greased baking dish. Top with basil, diced tomatoes and mozzarella. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve over brown rice pasta or rice.

sunday meal prep: cook rice
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Day3 – Homemade Pizza

Prep – 1-2 days (for dough) / Cook – 40 minutes

DSC_0527 DSC_0529Ingredients (ham and pineapple)

Pizza dough (bought or homemade)
Sauce
Low Sodium, Natural Ham
Pineapple
Cheese
**Place pizza stone on middle rack and preheat to 500 degrees, heat stone for 30 minutes. Sprinkle corn meal on stone and pizza peel. Top pizza with sauce, ham, pineapple and mozzarella. Cook until dough is browned in spots – about 10 minutes.

Ingredients (cheeseburger pizza)

Pizza dough (bought or homemade)
Ground beef
Yellow Mustard
Ketchup
Cheese
Pickles
**Place pizza stone on middle rack and preheat to 500 degrees, heat stone for 30 minutes. Sprinkle corn meal on stone and pizza peel. Mix mustard and ketchup, spread on dough. Top with (drained and cooked) beef,onions and cheese. Cook for 10 minutes until dough is slightly browned. Top with pickles.

sunday meal prep: make dough, cook beef and drain, chop pineapple, make sauce
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Day4 – Grilled Chicken Caesar Wraps

Prep – 5 minutes / Cook – 10 minutes

DSC_0535Ingredients

Chicken Breast
Romaine Lettuce
Croutons (or Texas Toast)
Caesar Dressing
Wrap
**Brine chicken (optional salt brine). Grill chicken until cooked through. Slice into chunks and mix with shredded romaine, croutons or toasted Texas Toast and dressing. Roll into any wrap or tortilla.
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Day5 – Breakfast Burrito

Prep – 5 minutes / Cook – 10 minutes

Ingredients

Ham/Bacon/Sausage
Refried Beans
Eggs/Egg Whites
Cheese
Tortilla
Hot Sauce
**Spray pan with coconut oil. Cook meat thoroughly, warm refried beans in microwave or corner of the pan at the same time. Add eggs and scramble. When eggs are cooked through, remove pan from heat and add cheese. Meanwhile, place tortilla on burner, rotating until warm and soft. Spread refried beans on tortilla and top with egg/ham mixture. Sprinkle some hot sauce, roll and enjoy.

Ice Cube Trays

Ice cube trays are one of the most used items in my kitchen. Why? Because they make a mundane task SO much easier so you spend less time prepping and more time enjoying cooking and company. I literally freeze everything – some might surprise you.

Beverage Cubes. The most used cube in our freezer is a coffee cube. I brew coffee (usually a cheaper, lighter roast) fairly watered down. I pour it straight into an ice cube tray and put in the freezer for about a day. Strawberry cubes are a new phenomenon. I had strawberries that were going bad so instead of throwing them out, I put a slice into each tray-cube and added water. These are so fun and a great way to spruce up a glass of water. I have also frozen tomato juice to keep Bloody Mary’s from getting watery and weak!

DSC_0434 DSC_0436I’m a huge fan of the silicone ice cube trays for liquids like these because they are extremely easy to remove.

Spices, Seasonings and Sauces. This is a large category since it’s the most common thing for me to freeze. We have been making our own chicken and vegetable stock for years now using all the ends and scraps of vegetables. How often does a recipe call for 1 cup or some small amount of stock and you end up buying a can or carton and dump the rest? Used to happen to me ALL the time. After I boil and reduce my stock, I let it cool and freeze one or two ice cube trays and the remainder goes into a freezer bag for when we need a larger volume.
DSC_0445When I have leftover basil and spinach leaves I like to make pesto in bulk and it’s oh so easy to freeze – and you can grab a cube anytime to make a quick meal. As mentioned a few times, I am a huge fan of Spanish food and the seasonings that are used. We make sofrito and freeze that too! Pasta and pizza sauce also freezes great and makes English Muffin pizzas so easy. BBQ sauce does not freeze – FYI.

DSC_0450 DSC_0454I prefer regular plastic ice cube trays for sauces since they stand up a little better and are sturdy. Try to get ones that are more pliable and easily bent so you don’t end up snapping it when trying to release the cube…been there done that. I believe mine came from the dollar store!

Baby Food. Ever since Brandon started eating we have been freezing his food in cubes. We would spend the weekend peeling, steaming, boiling and cutting fruits and vegetables, boiling and mashing then freezing it in cubes. In the morning it’s so easy to grab a couple cubes and pop them in the microwave!

DSC_0441Have a little fun with this. There are ice cube trays in every shape, size and design! Disclaimer: I promise every one of these ice cubes was in my freezer before I even thought about posting about it…this is really how we live – with bags and bags of ice cubes shoved in every inch of our freezer.

Week Two Menu Planning

Mexican is behind us and I think Kev and I both are OK with that. I asked him what he wanted this week to which he replied “not Mexican”. I concur.

DSC_0429Here is what this weeks menu looks like. I have made Breakfast Casseroles for the last two weeks so I think a little hiatus from that is in store as well. We’re going to switch things up and have yogurt, fruit, and muffins this week.

DSC_0430This week does not require a whole lot of prep on Sunday which I’m cool with. I’m going to clean and cut some fruit, prepare the dry ingredients for the (mug) muffins, boil and peel eggs, start pizza dough and set up the crockpot for Turkey Meatball Soup.

I made my list, wrote down the sales, digital coupons and manufacturers coupons, went to the store and realized I forgot my list. FML! Everyone slept in on Friday so it threw my whole day off. LUCKILY, my memory is pretty good so I shopped based off my menu and I ACTUALLY did pretty well. There were a couple things I didn’t get but it was only items based on sales and not anything we needed this week.

DSC_0423I’m really looking forward to the Edamame Burgers with Sriracha Mayo and Turkey Meatball Soup in the crockpot. After last weeks, week long margarita adventure I’m ready to detox a little. However, if you can see down to Saturday’s meal 4 – it’s Beer!

DSC_0458Edamame and Pita for burgers, ham and pineapple for pizza, caesar dressing for wraps, granola, fruit and yogurt for breakfast and rice because it was on sale and I had coupons.

Happy menu planning and shopping check back Monday for more tips on prepping and some easy ways to store sauces, spices and more!

#GreatAmericanCookIn

Day1 – Crockpot Pork Enchiladas

Prep – 15 minutes / Cook 25 minutes (plus 8 hours in the crockpot)

DSC_0362Ingredients (for the pork):

2lb Pork Tenderloin, Loin or Chops
2-4T Sofrito
2-4T Vegetable Stock
1 packet Sazon
Jalapeno
**Add all ingredients in the crockpot and cook on low 8 hours

Ingredients (for the enchiladas):

Shredded pork
Brown Rice
1 can Enchilada Sauce
1/2 can (15oz) Refried Beans
1 can Green Chilies
8 Soft Tortillas
Salsa
Shredded Cheese
Avocado and Sour Cream (optional)
** Heat oven to 375 degrees. Layer a baking dish with salsa just to cover. Roll each tortilla with rice and pork and line in the baking dish. When all tortillas are rolled, top with refried beans, enchilada sauce, green chilies and cheese. Bake 25 minutes. Top with avocado and sour cream.

Sunday meal prep: cook rice, prep crockpot and place insert in fridge, make sofrito and stock
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Day2 – Spicy Shrimp Tacos with Coleslaw (with Jalapeno Margaritas)

DSC_0388 DSC_0380Prep – 15 minutes / Cook – 15 minutes

Ingredients (for the coleslaw):

1 Head Cabbage (packaged cabbage is the easiest)
1/2 Onion chopped
1/8c Oil
1/8-1/4c Vinegar (red wine, white balsamic, white)
1/4c Mayo (greek yogurt)
1T Sugar
S+P
**Chop cabbage and onion, mix all ingredients together and place in fridge for 1 hour, up to a week.

Ingredients (for shrimp tacos):

Shrimp (raw)
Coleslaw
Tortillas/Tacos/Taco Boats
Refried Beans
Chili Powder (adobo, sazon, cajun seasing)
Salsa (diced tomatoes) – I made Mango Salsa
Avocado
Sour Cream
Lime
No amounts listed as tacos are based on your own preference! Make 1 or make 12.
**Season shrimp liberally in chili powder or any seasoning you like. Saute in coconut oil until cooked (3-5 minutes). Warm taco shell until soft, spread refried beans on the taco, place coleslaw in the middle and top with 4-5 shrimp. Add avocado, sour cream, salsa – roll and enjoy.

Ingredients (for margaritas):

Tequila
Jalapenos
Can of Limeade (frozen)
Juice of Lime
**Slice one jalapeno and add it to bottle of tequila and let sit for 1 day up to 1 month. Make Limeade as noted on package. Shake 2oz tequila, 4oz limeade and 1/2oz fresh lime juice with ice. Pour into glass and top with one slice of jalapeno. Makes 2 margaritas.

Sunday meal prep: make coleslaw, peel shrimp, infuse tequila

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Day3 – Meaty Nachos (meaty nacho night turned into Turkey Burger night – see below)

Prep – 15 minutes / Cook – 15-20 minutes

Ingredients:

Corn Tortilla (or any wrap you prefer)
1/2lb Ground Turkey
Salsa
Chili Powder (any mexican spices you like)
Jalapenos
Avocado
**Broil tortillas until crispy (watch carefully as they can burn quickly). Brown turkey and add spices. Top tortilla with turkey, salsa, jalapenos, avocado.

Sunday meal prep: cook ground turkey

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Day4 – Stuffed Poblanos

DSC_0397Prep – 10 minutes / Cook – 20 minutes

Ingredients:

3 Poblano Peppers
1/2lb Ground Turkey
Brown Rice
Salsa
Shredded Cheese
**Heat oven to 375 degrees. Slice Poblanos lengthwise and take out seeds and stem. Cook turkey and drain if it’s juicy. Mix rice, turkey and salsa together then add to pepper shells. Top with cheese and bake about 20 minutes.

Sunday meal prep: cook ground turkey, cook rice

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Day5 – OUT
(I know I said we’re cooking in all week but this evening out was planned weeks ago – promise I’ll make it up to you)

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Day6 – Turkey Burgers

DSC_0413Prep – 5 minutes / Cook – 15 minutes

Ingredients:

1lb Ground turkey
Rolls (we like Arnold Rounds)
Egg white + Egg
Cumin
Adobo
Goya Sazon
Chili Powder
S+P
**MIX everything except the whole egg. Grill burger. Meanwhile, fry egg until almost fully cooked (if you like a runny yolk). Top burger with avocado and egg. Enjoy. Serve with a side of leftover coleslaw, macaroni salad or mixed greens.

I know this week may seem boring to some but Cinco de Mayo happened and I said MEXICAN ALL WEEK! #sorrynotsorry I could eat this stuff on the daily, especially those enchiladas which are my faaavorite. It’s just an example of how to make a weeks worth of meals from the same ingredients but not have the SAME thing everyday. Ground turkey, rice, salsa, refried beans and cheese are all inexpensive and makes this a total winner for the week. I also added “sunday meal prep” tips to help you plan for the week.

 

Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mothers and Mother figures, we love you all. I wanted to share some fun ideas for the perfect gift for Mom. Here are some things I have been loving lately (and wouldn’t mind for myself!)

mothersdayThis Roman Numberal Bangle has been on my radar for a while now and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be mine – having Brandon’s birthday stamped in roman numerals just seems SO fun – get a name stamped inside for an added bonus.

If you can’t take Mom to the spa, bring the spa home! Opt for some fancy Sea Salt and Bath oils and finish things off with a beautiful new perfume.

I was thinking about items I would want and I went back and forth with kitchen accessories. I love cookbooks but hardly ever never open one! These Apron Kits would be so fun to do with your crafty Mom – a little “mom and me” day! I am loving these Measuring Cups and don’t forget the matching Whisk.

My Mom and I love going to farmer’s markets and produce stands when the nice weather hits – there’s just something about a garden tomato that you just can’t beat! I love anything by Maika, but this Market Tote with the dandelion print is too cute not to pass up (use code YAYMOM for 20% off) and throw in a water bottle to make drinking water more fun!

Mother’s Day is pretty early and here in the Northeast the weather is still a little cool so we can’t put away those blankets just yet. I think these throw blankets are adorable and love the Springy colors, the price point isn’t bad either. Lastly, I thought this could be a really fun idea – surprise Mom with her first Stitch Fix delivery. Set up a profile, choose a delivery date, pay the fee as a gift to her and see what goodies arrive – who knows, maybe she’ll find something she just HAS to have without leaving the comfort of the house. I love it and cannot wait to get my next Fix.

Mom’s should be celebrated more than just once a year (Dad’s should too!) so this year make it a pact to show Mom how much you care everyday. One of these gifts I mentioned wouldn’t hurt either. My Mom is everything to me and gave me the greatest tool ever and that’s showing me how to be an amazing Mama myself. I love you MOM! We’re all sooo very lucky to have you.

IMG_4324I am also lucky enough to have a great Mother in Law – without these two ladies Kevin and I would never get a day off, night out or dinner brought to us. We love you both!

image1

 

 

Meal Prepping

New month, fresh start, new goals – I want May to be THE month where I focus on meals, planning, prepping (saving$) and enjoying our family before the rat race of summer hits us and we are pulled into 25 different directions.

I stumbled upon the #GreatAmericanCookIn and it really peaked my interest to jump on board and vow to make as many meals as possible in my own home this month. I feel like one of my biggest/best qualities is that I am SUPER organized – not OCD organized, just plain jane organized and let me say it comes in handy when we’re talking meal planning. Every week I am going to bring you along with my meal planning, shopping (couponing) and prepping. I have found that 100% of the time when I plan meals we save so much money and we also don’t waste nearly as much food due to overbuying. I mean honestly, how many times do we walk in the store with no list and no clue WHAT to make for dinner throughout the week, grab a bunch of things that look good then the week goes by and we only ended up using half of what we bought or had to make another trip later in the week to get 20 more items we forgot didn’t know we needed. It’s SO expensive going that route and in our case turns out being wasteful. Here’s how Kevin and I go about our weekly planning.

I am not here to tell you how to shop, where to shop, what to eat or anything like that because I’m sure you’ve heard it all before: “shop the sales”, “go to different stores”, “look for coupons”…and yeah while I do some of that, that’s only a small portion to making this whole thing work. I plan meals a couple of different ways.

  1. Planning

Planning is the hardest and most consuming part of the process because you need to find 10-15 minutes of peace and quiet and figure things out. It may be messy and chaotic as you lay things across the chair, table, couch and any flat surface you find. I do a couple things here – first, I look at my grocery store’s website and see if there are any deals they offer. I rotate between Trader Joes, Big Y and Stop-n-Shop. On S&S website they have a page called “coupons”, here I can load digital coupons right to my card so when I purchase it, the savings get taken off right at the register. These perks are great because they are specific to me based on things I already buy. Digital coupons are added almost daily and can be used within 10 minutes of clicking “load to card”.

Depending on my mood – sometimes I KNOW what I want to make and other times I have no idea – I will start planning. I have a separate piece of paper and write down meals or snacks that I definitely know I want to make. This can be based on something I saw in a magazine, on TV, online or because of something we already have in the freezer or cupboard. Side-note: I keep a small note on my freezer and keep inventory of what is in there – this has been a huge help for planning. Next, I see if any meals or snacks are similar. For example, do I want to make meatloaf and burgers do I want to make bbq chicken, crockpot chicken and chickan kabobs. Making different meals with the same meat/protein is budget friendly and makes planning a cakewalk.

Finally, I shop the ads (sometimes!). My menu and shopping list are USUALLY done by the time the weekly ad comes out but I will take a look anyway and maybe grab something for the following week or change some meals around based off a good sale.

2. Menu / Lists / Coupons / Shopping

Now that I have an idea of what I want to make, I begin writing everything in my planner. Breakfasts and snacks usually are the same throughout the week or as long as they’ll last. Making something different everyday is very difficult. I first write down breakfast and right away make my list of what I need to achieve that meal. If I am planning protein pancakes – I want to make sure we have eggs and bananas. I do this for each meal and write down what I need to buy for each recipe.DSC_0367From here, I also go through manufacturers coupons and any digital coupons I have. If I wrote down “pasta sauce” then I can go through coupons and see what I have savings for (or base it on the weekly flier). Aside from just writing down the item, I also write down how many – this helps and makes shopping not a guessing game. If I need peppers, avocados and limes I write “green peppers (3), avocados (2) and limes (4)” (this way if someone else is shopping for me, they know exactly what to get). I know some people also write their list in the order of how the store is laid out but I’m not that crazy. Stop-n-Shop also offers digital coupons like “$5 off when you spend $50” or “$2 off any $5 seafood purchase”…if you link these up with weekly specials you’re bound to save mucho dinero.

At the end of my shopping trip I have an idea of how much I saved with all the coupons and sales but I always make sure the big ticket coupons processed properly – everything else can be fixed at the service desk.

IMG_7945All the food I needed for a weeks worth of meals – besides things I already had in the freezer or pantry.

3. Prepping

The meal prepping is probably the most time consuming and not always so fun. I usually do my prep on Sunday and it can take anywhere from 2-4 hours depending on what we’re eating for the week. If I make a quiche for breakfast, I’ll thaw my bacon on Saturday (or Sunday morning) and bake it in the oven while I prep the potatoes and veggies. We eat a lot of brown rice which is something else that is easily prepped on the weekend for quick meals during the week. Other easy meals for prep: sausage and peppers, quesadillas, zucchini fritters, tuna patties, stuffed meatballs and egg scramble. The key is to prep items that go with everything and usually take longer to cook or prepare. This includes, (rice as stated before), roasting sweet potatoes or any other veggie, cooking meatloaf or meatballs, washing/peeling/slicing vegetables for snacks or salads and baking muffins.

IMG_79664. Packaging

After the food is cool we package it up in one of two ways; we split the food into equal portions and put in containers ahead of time for easy grab and go, or throw things in larger air tight containers and scoop out a serving each night. Something like sausage and peppers we tend to portion out right away while egg scramble, pancakes or quiche we store in a large container and split up as needed.

I feel like there’s a lot of information here…and maybe there is but I want to really help you to better plan because it makes life SO much easier. It was really upsetting me when I spent most of my nights in the kitchen cooking and cleaning and less time with Brandon and Kevin. Those few hours on a Sunday when Brandon is sleeping make for easy, more relaxing work nights. Just a little preparation and planning brings the stress level way down.

Check back every week this month for tips and tricks to make your #GreatAmericanCookIn even easier! Look for my follow up at the end of the week to see what I made! I hope you enjoyed this post, follow me and comment with your tips, ideas or questions for how to get planning. Love you and thanks for reading.

Anniversary Weekend

We made it!! Another year in the books for Kevin and I as we celebrated our Sixth Anniversary a day early and headed to New York City for some shenanigans. ALL year we had talked about going away for the weekend but as the day grew closer the cost of hotel stays kept going higher so we opted for a day trip which was a great decision. That last time Kevin and I went to NYC together was when I was about 16 weeks pregnant and not feeling all that great so it was nice to be able to to enjoy the day.

We hopped the 7:50am train that arrived in Grand Central at 9:50am and headed straight downtown to Union Square where they have a Farmer’s Market. I wish we lived closer and could have cashed in on the delicious fruits and vegetables and fresh flowers! Kicked off the morning with a beer tasting and a late morning snack to tide us over until lunch.

IMG_7948Two laps around the market and then I realized Anthropologie was right around the corner so off I went to treat myself. Kevin was patient with my shopping adventure and just hung around outside until I made my selections (additional 25% off the clearance!) and now it was time for lunch! Our only real plans for the day were to eat lunch at The Gramercy Tavern. Our lunch started with cocktails and oysters and ended with milk and cookies and a surprise Anniversary meringue.

IMG_7952 IMG_7953IMG_7954 IMG_7955IMG_7957 Our meal was amazing, company was amazing, we left full and happy! We took our time heading back to Midtown and made stops at The Smith, Empire State Building and The Ginger Man. Before we knew it, the train station was in front of us and with empty wallets and aching feet our day ended with a trip through the Grand Central Market and a nightcap a Shake Shack.

IMG_7960 IMG_7964After a lot of discussion as to how to celebrate this year, I am so glad we (Kevin) thought about a day trip to NY as it’s something we take for granted being so close. It was so much fun not being set to a schedule and doing something different for a change. But it wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Kevin’s Mom who was generous enough to come babysit Brandon so we could get away.

Can’t believe we’ve already been married for six years (together for 11) and on top of it have a one year old. On one hand, where did the time go? On the other hand, it went to three hip surgeries and a pregnancy! We’ve had ups and downs, highs and lows but still always manage to make it work and not go to bed mad. Cheers to the one person who can put up with me and hasn’t run away yet. 🙂