Sunday, September 25, 2011

Menu Plan - Sept. 25-Oct.1

As promised in this post, here's my menu plan for this week!!

September 25-October 1

Sunday - Stromboli, salad (I might tweak it a bit, but my Stromboli will be similar to this one.)

Monday - Salsa chicken, Spanish Rice, corn, fruit cocktail  (I will post pictures and recipe for this chicken, but it is so easy - Basically, chicken breasts sprinkled with taco seasoning, topped with salsa, and baked!) 

Tuesday -  Chicken, Broccoli, Pasta Casserole

Wednesday - Choir practice and Supper at church!!!  No Cooking for me!!! :-)

Thursday -  Skillet Pork Chops, stuffing, peas and carrots, cinnamon apples

Friday -  Tortellini, salad 

Saturday -  Salisbury Steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, biscuits

Tip of the week:  Learn when your grocery store runs specials and use it to your advantage when meal planning.  For example,  the grocery store I use runs their specials from Wednesday-Tuesday.  So, when I am planning my menu on Friday, I check to see what specials will be going on over the weekend.  If pork chops are on sale, I will most likely incorporate a pork chop meal into my weekly plan.  It is a great way to  get a start for your plan and a great way to save a little money!  

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Salisbury Steak

6 ingredients - that's it!!
A quick, easy, and inexpensive meal!!

Salisbury Steak
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 small onion, very finely chopped
1 egg
1-2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
pre-made beef gravy

Simple - combine all ingredients (except gravy) and form into 6 patties.  Place on foil-lined cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes.  Heat gravy on stovetop and serve over steaks.  (Since there is already gravy, this is great with some mashed potatoes or rice!)

**You can also cook these patties in a skillet.  That might be a bit quicker, but I like doing them in the oven so I can work on other components of the meal while they bake.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Menu Planning

I have been tossing around the idea of a blog post about how I do weekly menu planning, so when my friend (actually, my cousin by marriage because our hubbies are cousins - Thanks, Amy!) posted this link on Facebook, I knew it was meant to be! :-)

photo_8036976_calendar.html.jpgI do menu planning on a weekly basis because 1) I am an over-organized, planner and list-maker and 2) it makes my life soooo much easier in the long run.  There are lots of menu planning resources, including software and online databases.  However, I just print out my monthly calendar so I can see appointments, holidays, etc. and then I fill in my menu week by week.  Based on that menu, I make a grocery list and do my grocery shopping over the weekend.  When dinnertime rolls around on our super busy weeknights, I am ready to go!

If I already do menu planning, why I am participating in this menu planning challenge?  Well, because there is always room for improvement and I am open to new ideas.  I look forward to finding out how others plan their menus and to discovering some yummy new recipes.

So, in keeping with the stated challenge, for the next six weeks (beginning next Sunday, Sept. 25) I will post a blog entry on Sunday night or Monday morning that lays out my menu plan for the coming week.  I also plan to include a "tip" each week.  The "tip" will simply be a little tidbit that works for me.  I am by no means an expert menu planner, but, hopefully, my tips will be helpful to others and will encourage others to share their tips with me as well.

Anyone else up for the challenge??  Let the planning begin!

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Minivan Conversations

I have decided to add a new section to my blog.  I'm calling it "Conversations from the Minivan."  

Like most "modern" families, we spend a lot of time in our minivan traveling between schools, extracurriculars, and home.  Sometimes, the minivan becomes the place where deep, meaningful conversations happen.  Sometimes it is a place where downright hysterical conversations are overheard - like this one.  Other times, it is a place where I am bombarded with question after question after question.  That's what happened tonight on our way home from children's choirs and dinner at church.

So, for my first "Conversations from the Minivan" post, here's a list of the questions the girls asked in the minivan tonight.  (Just for fun, leave a comment if you think you can guess which kid asked which question!!)

1) How old do you have to be to drive a motorcycle??  Do you have to have a special kind of driver's license??
2) Can black people and white people get married to each other?
3) Why do some kids have to wear uniforms to school?
4) Will we be in the same choir next year?  What about the next year??  The year after that??
5) Who invented Twinkle Toes shoes?  When can we get some?
6) (Emily screaming and crying in the background) Mom, do you think moments like this will scar me??

I swear I did NOT make up that last one!!  She actually said that!!

O.K.  I'm going to bed now - I have a headache!

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sleeping Beauty

When you think of sleeping children, you probably picture images that are cute, peaceful, and serene. After all, that old phrase "sleeps like a baby" is meant to be a good thing, right??

Well, every night, before I head to bed myself, I do what most parents probably do. I go in to my girls' rooms to check on them and give them one last good night kiss. Rachel and Emily are usually pretty typical - snuggled under the covers, peaceful, and angelic.

On the other hand, when I go into Megan's room, this is often what I find:

She's in there - I promise!
Completely sideways with feet hanging off the side!

Megan is always Megan - unabashed, free-spirited, and more than a little quirky - even in her sleep and she gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "Sleeping Beauty!"

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Smothered Steak

With school back in session and schedules going crazy, I thought I would get back to sharing some of my "go-to" recipes.  Here's one I make pretty frequently that is always easy and delicious!!!

Smothered Steak
4-6 pieces of cubed steak
1 medium onion, sliced
1 can condensed golden mushroom soup
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sprinkle steak pieces with salt and pepper.  Place in a 13x9 casserole dish.  In bowl, mix soup, onion slices, and Worcestershire sauce, then spread mixture over steak pieces.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 1 hour.

**It will look like this needs more liquid, but as it bakes, the juices from the onions and steak will mix with the soup and create a wonderful gravy.  It is great served with rice, egg noodles, or mashed potatoes!!

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Shopping. . .again!

I spent a large portion of this afternoon shopping for fall clothes with Rachel.  Several months ago, I posted about our spring shopping trip.  This one was no less frustrating.  First of all, she hates shopping, so when we go she is already in a grumpy state of mind.  On top of that, here's a list of Rachel's clothing do's and (mostly) dont's:

  1. No jeans.  Absolutely none.  She wouldn't even try any on.
  2. No pants that resemble jeans.  For example, khaki pants with a button/zipper fly, belt loops, and pockets - no way.  Again, won't even try them on.
  3. No tights, which means no dresses.
  4. Nothing pink.  Light pink, dark pink - doesn't matter.  Do you realize how many items of girls clothing are automatically ruled out when pink is not an option?!?!
  5. The only acceptable patterns are solid, sequins, or stripes.  No plaid.  No floral.  No paisley. No polka dots.
  6. In Rachel's world, the "no patterns" rule also includes no graphics.  No peace signs.  No hearts.  No cute little animals.  No words.
  7. Comfort, comfort, comfort.  If things are the tiniest bit itchy, wrinkly, or bunched they are unacceptable.  Material must be soft.  Tags are a incredible annoyance.  Seams are torture.
Have you been in a girls' clothing store lately??  Today we went to five of them - Old Navy, OshKosh, Children's Place, Gap Kids, & Justice.  What did we get??  One outfit (black& white striped shirt with leggings), 3 pairs of yoga pants, one pair of loose-fitting cargo pants, and several fairly plain long-sleeved t-shirts.  When you see my precious Rachel this fall/winter and wonder why in the world such a beautiful young girl is dressed so ridiculously, remember this post and cut me some slack - I beg you!

If only it was still this simple!

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Googling Okra

I haven't posted on here in about a week. That's because we have been busy getting started with a new school year. With the start of every school year, there are changes - new teachers, new schedules, new rules. This time of year, I often think about what it was like when I was in school and how much things have changed since then. As if that was painfully clear already, Rachel pointed it out even more just the other day.

On my kitchen counter was a bag of okra that one of our sweet neighbors had grown in his garden and brought over to share. The girls, of course, asked what it was and pulled out some of it to examine. Rachel asked, "What are you going to do with it?" I responded that I really wasn't sure because I have never actually cooked okra before.

If it was ten or twenty years ago, I would probably call my mom or mother-in-law to get a recipe or pull out some ancient cookbook that actually has pages to turn. But, it is not twenty years ago. It is 2011. Rachel's solution - "Well, just look it up on the internet. I'm sure you can Google it!!"

Google it, I shall - and eat it, they better!!!

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