Saturday, April 28, 2012

Menu Plan April 30- May 4

LIKE my Facebook page by clicking HERE! :) Thank you!!! this year is flying by! But I just can't wait for that warm weather to come around...I may have mentioned that before. Apparently that is a running theme...come on warmth!!

This week I have five delectable new dishes for us to try!

But first...Let's have a talk about quiona. If you have never tried this grain you are really missing out. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is what health food people call a super grain. Most commonly considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. It is a recently rediscovered ancient "grain" once considered "the gold of the Incas." Now are you ready for the cool has protein!! It is not like pasta or rice that is essentially is packed with protein, but can be used instead of pasta or rice! I usually describe it as a mix between rice and couscous. It cooks super fast and is really delicious! There are manly ways of preparing quinoa and you can add just about any seasonings or stir-ins. You can follow the directions on the package and boil it or you can toast it (see recipe for toasting here) as my cousin Colleen does! Most grocery stores carry it now. It may come in a box or a small bag. Give it a try!

This is the brand I buy, but I don't think it really matters the brand.

So of course I have a new Quinoa recipe to try this week. Quinoa Mac and Cheese!!

Monday: Quinoa Mac and Cheese

Recipe and photo from Iowa Girl Eats

Tuesday: Grilled Balsamic Chicken

Recipe and photo from Picky Palate

Wednesday: Simple Stuffed Shells

Recipe and photo from Lovely Little Snippets

Thursday: Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad

Recipe and photo from Cooking Light

Friday: Cheesy Chicken and Rice Soup

Recipe and photo from Picky Palate

Enjoy your week! :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Craft Closet!

Since taking my leave and staying home with my children, I have been doing so much with them. We have been making crafts, playing games, coloring, painting, you name it. BUT, I kept getting frustrated that every time I wanted to do a project I had to go all the way to the attic to get my supplies. Even worse was when I left the supplies out and little hands were glueing and painting when I was distracted! AHHHHH!

So I decided I needed a craft closet of some sort, but I had virtually no money to spend on one. My husband and I began thinking of what supplies we already had. Luckily in the garage we had some wire shelving left over from our old toy organization system and it fit perfectly in the front closet!

Next I needed some bins or baskets to organize all my supplies, but again I wanted something inexpensive and I had to (of course) have it all match. I went to the Dollar Tree and found these really cute bins and canisters that were perfect for all my supplies. All these baskets and canisters came to $20!!

No craft closet is complete without labels. I found these great labels on the Better Home and Garden's website, that you can type in and print out! They had a ton of different styles and colors for any room in your house you wanted to organize. I printed mine on clear sticker paper because that is what I had. I would have liked them on white sticker paper, but I was trying to stick to a strict budget of $20!

I am so happy with the end result and everything in the closet we already had, except for the bins I bought. I love how easy it is to just grab what I need and have a perfect spot to put it back. YAY for organization!!! It makes me happy!! :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Menu Plan April 23-27

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Snow??!! Really on April 23rd we are supposed to get snow. We didn't even get snow all winter...why now?? Ok, I am done ranting about snow.

I just am dying to have sunny warm weather. I want to grill and have BBQs and do all kinds of food related outdoor things!!

On another note, I am trying to incorporate more of my own original recipes into my menu plan. Eventually I would like to have all my own recipes or adaptations of recipes I have made! Until then I will rely on my favorite food sites to provide amazing recipes for everyone to try.

When I follow a recipe I don't ever exactly follow the recipe. For one thing my son is allergic to eggs and nuts, so I am always modifying for that. For another thing, there are some things I just don't like and won't include. If you see a recipe you want to try don't be afraid to adjust it and change a few things you might not like to make it a recipe of your own. I usually just write all over the recipe so I can remember what I did for next time. Have fun and try new things!!

Monday: Buffalo Chicken Alfredo

I have seen several recipes for this dish around the internet, but I decided to make an easier version on my own. This recipe is so delicious and have got to give it a try.

Buffalo Chicken Alfredo

8 ounces of whole wheat pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 container prepared light alfredo sauce ( I prefer Wegmans brand in the dairy section)
1/4 cup Frank's hot sauce
1/4 crumbly blue cheese
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Drizzle the olive oil in a large frying pan. Heat the pan to medium-high heat.

Dredge each chicken strip into the bread crumbs to coat both sides. Carefully place the strip into the pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. The chicken will NOT be cooked all the way through. 

Place the strips on a foil lined cookie sheet. Bake the strips for 10 minutes or until they are cooked all the way through.

While the chicken is cooking, put the alfredo sauce, hot sauce, blue cheese and butter into a small sauce pan. Heat the sauce until the cheese and butter is melted and the sauce is heated all the way through.

Assemble the dish with noodles, chicken fingers and sauce mixture on top. Top with parsley if you wish. Enjoy!

Tuesday: Shrimp Fried Rice

Photo and recipe from Cooking Light

Wednesday: Taco Soup

This recipe calls for a rice cooker, which I don't have, but I am going to try it in the crockpot and increase the cooking time. Looks yummy!! :)

Photo and recipe from Super Healthy Kids

Thursday: Spicy Tilapia and Mango Tacos

This is another awesome recipe from Cooking Light. It is the perfect example of how I will adapt a recipe though. I know I won't make this exactly as is, because them my children would not be able to eat it!! I will cut down on the heat a bit. I probably won't use the jalapeno and I won't make my fish as spicy. But I love the flavor ideas and the "salsa"! I will give you the original recipe in case you like all the HEAT!! :)

Picture from and recipe from Cooking Light, May 2012

Friday: Crock Pot Chicken Parm

Photo and Recipe from Chef in Training

Enjoy your week!!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Menu Plan April 16-20

Did you know that April is grilled cheese month??!!! How exciting! I love a grilled cheese and I will take just about any variation you can throw at me! Cheese + Butter + Bread = YUMMY! So this week I made sure to seek out an extra special grilled cheese to make. I can't wait to sink my teeth into that gooey goodness on Friday.

This week I am also trying something totally new for me, indian food. I have eaten indian food plenty of times, but I have yet to try and make it. I am a bit nervous, but I am going to start with my favorite dish and see if I can get it even close to the real thing. Wish me luck.

I hope you enjoy the recipes and share them with your friends. 

Monday: Chicken Tikka Masala

I found this recipe for the classic indian dish and I am dying to give it a try. Cross your fingers!

Photo and recipe from Favorite Family Recipes

Tuesday: Chicken Flautas

Baked Chicken Flautas

1 rotisserie chicken shredded (or 2 cups cooked chicken)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 poblano, seeded and diced
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1/3 cup prepared salsa
2 tablespoons sour cream (extra for dipping)
3 ounces Colby jack cheese shredded
salt and pepper to taste
6 8inch whole wheat tortillas

Preheat the oven to 375.

Pour oil into a saute pan and place over medium-high heat. Add in the corn, poblano, and onion powder, saute for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and cook another 2 minutes.

Place the shredded chicken in a large mixing bowl. Add in the corn mixture. Then add the remaining filling ingredients (salsa, sour cream and cheese).

Place a heaping 1/3 cup of the filling into one of the tortillas and spread into a line in the middle. Roll the tortilla tightly and place it seam side down on a foil lined baking sheet. Repeat until all filling is used.

Bake at 375 for 20 to 25 minutes or until tortillas have crisped and turned golden brown.

Serve with sour cream for dipping.

Slightly adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon

Wednesday: White Pizza Pockets

White Pizza Pockets

1 can pizza crust (or your favorite pizza dough)
4 tablespoons classic white pizza sauce (see picture)
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 freshly grated parmesan cheese
your favorite toppings (we did spinach and broccoli)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly grease the bottom of a baking sheet.

Spread the pizza crust out on the baking sheet and cut it into four pieces.

Spread 1 tablespoon of the white pizza sauce on to each pizza pocket.

Pile 1/4 of the mozzarella cheese and 1/4 of the parm cheese onto one half of each dough rectangle.

Add the toppings of your choice onto the cheese. Carefully fold over the pocket and use a fork to crimp the edges shut. Poke a few holes on the top to let the air escape.

Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes or until the dough is completely cooked and browned.

Thursday: Lasagna Soup

We have made this at least a dozen times and it is so easy and really tasty.

Recipe and photo from The Deen Brothers.

Friday: Parmesan Crusted Grilled Cheese

Oh the beauty of this one!!

Photo and recipe from Two Peas and their Pod.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Strawberry Ice Box Cake

I love to cook, but I am not a baker. I do bake from time to time, but it is not really my thing. I will leave the baking to my best friend Kate! So when I go searching for a dessert, I want it to be easy and delicious.
I made this easy and delicious "Ice Box" cake for Easter and we LOVED it.

What is an "ice box cake"?
Well there are many different versions, but most ice box cakes I have seen just simply mean there is no baking at all it only "sets" in the fridge (aka the ice box). In most cases something takes the place of the "cake", like in this recipe. Instead of cake there are graham crackers. After the cake chills for a few hours the graham crackers turn soft and almost seem like cake. Not to mention homemade whipped cream makes anything oh so yummy, and this cake has a lot of it!! :)

Strawberry Ice Box Cake

2 pounds fresh strawberries, washed
3 1/2 cups whipping cream, divided
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 box graham crackers
2 ounces milk chocolate melting wafers
2 ounces dark chocolate melting wafers

Hull the strawberries and slice each berry into thin slices. I used my mandolin slicer and it made it much easier. BE CAREFUL using a slicer though with berries! You may accidentally slice your thumb. Not that I did that or anything! :)

With your mixer (hand or stand) whip 3 cups of cream until stiff peaks form.

Add the sugar and vanilla and mix to combine.

Spread a small spoonful of the whipped cream onto the bottom of a 9x13 cake pan. Lay down one sleeve of crackers, covering the whole area of the pan. Next spoon on about 1/3 of the whipped cream. Then a single layer of berries on top of that. Repeat with two more layers. Ending with the final whipped cream and strawberries on top.

To make the chocolate sauce: slowly warm the remaining 1/2 cup of cream on the stove. Once it begins to bubble, add in both kinds of chocolate wafers. Turn off the heat and whisk until chocolate is melted.

Once the chocolate has cooled, drizzle the chocolate sauce over the top using a spoon.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving to allow the crackers to soften.

Recipe slightly adapted from Kitchn.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Menu Plan April 9-13

Ahhh...Spring Break! Chuck and Daiya are off this week and we are hoping to have some family fun! The weather is not at all what I wish it would be, but we will try and make the best of it. We hope to go to the zoo and maybe a children's museum.

This week's meals have no particular theme, they just looked good. Most of the meals are new to me, so as always I am very excited to give them a try. People keep asking me, "Do you really make those meals?" YES!! I do! Of course occasionally something comes up and I don't make it on the exact day I was supposed to but, yes, I make the meals. Before I even began this blog, I was a fan of meal planning. Every weekend I would write out the meals for the week and shop according to those meals. It just seems easier for me. I enjoy meal planning and I really enjoy making new recipes for my family to try.

I hope you enjoy this blog and recommend it to your friends. If you try something, leave a comment and let me know what YOU think! :)

Monday: Creamy Ham Casserole

Leftover ham is perfect for this recipe, so I chose it for the day after Easter when I am sure I will have some to use!

Recipe and photo from The Novice Chef. I just discovered this blog and I LOVE it! :)

Tuesday: Crock pot Boccoli and Cheese Soup

Recipe and photo from Budget Savvy Diva.

Wednesday: Parmesan Topped Tilapia

Recipe from

Thursday: Go Green Chicken Sandwiches

Recipe and photo from Rachel Ray.

Friday: BBQ Chicken Rolls
These rolls are from the same blog as the Buffalo Chicken Rolls we made a couple weeks ago. They look just as yummy!

Recipe and photo from Can You Stay For Dinner?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Cole's Train Birthday!

My little man is 3 years old. He acts as if he is truly a little man. The way he talks and the things he says are hysterical. He is so sweet and thoughtful and yes, a little sensitive and dramatic too. But we love everything about him and were so excited to share his party with our family and friends. All his favorite people came and it was a perfect day. The weather did not cooperate, unlike his first birthday which was 80 degrees and we all wore shorts. But we still had a great time!
His theme was TRAINS! He loves Thomas and boy did he get spoiled with a lot of Thomas toys! Here are some pictures from the party and of the decorations that I got from an Etsy shop. Unfortunately the collection does not seem to be on Etsy anymore, but there are many others if you search "printable train collections".

This was the UNBELIEVABLE cake that my very best friend, Kate, made! 

The birthday boy and his sister! :)