Monday, January 31, 2011

My pickle rant.

So, I've made a pretty strict grocery budget for myself this month, and I'm determined to stick to it! It did mean that I was wandering around the grocery store with a calculator to make sure I was under budget. (And I was under by $14!)

Putting myself on this budget means I have to be conscientious about what items are important for me to get organic, and which ones are ok to buy conventional.

Which brings me to my jar of pickles. It wasn't a MUST-have on my list, but I love pickles on my sandwiches. The organic section only had whole dills, and they weren't exactly cheap. So I thought, it's just pickled cucumbers, how bad could the conventional ones be?

Well, the shelved ones (Vlassic, Wegmans brand) all had YELLOW dye in them. Are they serious? Why do we have to put coloring in PICKLES?!? I just don't get it.
Well, then I saw the refrigerated ones that had floating seasonings, and thought, these MUST be better! (These were the Claussen brand and Wegmans version). Well, no dyes here, but instead? High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Let's just say I splurged on the organic pickles. Next summer? I'll be pickling my own.

It's just amazing the stuff you'll find food coloring and HFCS in these days. Unbelievable.

~~** D **~~

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - 1/31/11

Wow, I had a very productive week! We had a snow storm come through, which was fantastic: It meant school was cancelled, so I could get some work done around here! (Can we say tackling the massive pile of laundry that needed to be folded?) I had been doing pretty well with my menu planning, but I kept thinking it could be easier. So I have now switched to a monthly menu plan! I spent my night off of school planning my next menu, and I'm pretty happy with the results.

I printed out a calendar for February and began assigning "theme" nights. I figured it would make things a bit easier for me this first time. I then printed/photocopied all of the recipes and placed them into a 3 ring binder in order for easy reference.

So here's the dinner theme breakdown for February:

Sundays: Something New/Mom's choice
*Mondays: Italian Night
Tuesdays: Asian/Stir-Fry Night
*Wednesdays: Soup/Crock Pot Night
Thursdays: Mexican Night
*Fridays: Pizza Night
Saturdays: Leftovers/Y.O.Y.O. (You're on you're own)

*(School Nights)

I'm also going to set up a weekly breakfast list: (Each day is accompanied by fruit)
Sunday: Leftover Waffles/Pancakes from earlier in the week
Monday: Smoothies, Parfaits orMuffins
Tuesday: Waffles
Wednesday: Veggie Omelets & Sausage
Thursday: Shirred Eggs
Friday: Pancakes
Saturday: French Toast

So, here is the lineup for this week's Dinners:

Sunday: 30 minute One Pan Chicken Meal

Monday: Spinach Stuffed Shells

Tuesday: Asian Beef and Veggie Quinoa Bowl

Wednesday: Simple, Hearty, Chicken and Rice Soup

Thursday: Nachos

Friday: Stromboli

Now that the plan is in place, all I have to do is follow it... now let's see how THAT goes!

For more menu plan ideas head over to Org Junkie's site.

~~** D **~~

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sleep deprivation

I wish I had something witty to talk about today, but alas, my 18 month old's "sleep regression" is causing me fits.

I'm off in search for some natural "back to sleep" remedies to help soothe her to nap/go to bed.

Any suggestions?

~~** D **~~

Monday, January 17, 2011

Menu Plan - Week of 1/17

So, here's my first Menu Plan Monday!

As a culinary student, I've learned to try and avoid all "processed" or "prepackaged" foods and cook as much from scratch. I'm also trying to work on our family's "real food" conversion, so I'm trying to focus on more whole foods and "nourishing traditions" types of meal preparations.

 In the upcoming weeks/months, I will start posting recipes (they'll be more like "methods") for the dishes I make. I don't cook with a whole ton of measurements, but I'll do my best to relay what I'm doing for you all!
This week up on the dinner menu:

-Roasted Poblano & Chicken Sausage Quesadillas
-*Beer & Beef Stew
-BBQ Chicken (I use a Chiavetta's marinade for my BBQ chicken. I haven't found a recipe for one that I like yet, and Chiavetta's doesn't have any MSG or HFCS, which I appreciate. PLUS, it's a WNY thing, so it reminds me of home :) )
-*Crab Macaroni & Cheese
-*Shrimp Salad over Greens
-Pasta and Sausage Skillet
(*make ahead items)
I leave one day for leftovers, as we usually don't eat everything in a meal.

I don't like to schedule specific days for meals, as I tend to change my mind A LOT, so I leave it up to whatever I feel like at the moment. The only days I have specific meals picked out are the nights I'm in school. It's either got to be a crock-pot item or something I can make ahead and just stick in the oven for my husband to pull out at dinnertime.
This week's "school-night" meals are the Crab Mac & Cheese (make ahead and just  bake off right before eating), the Shrimp Salad and Beef Stew.

If I can find my camera soon, I'll post some recipes/pictures this week!

~~** D **~~

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Can you see the slacking? Nearly two weeks with no posting. Ugh, I'm frustrated with myself.
So what's been up in the A-team household these 2 weeks?

I have successfully stayed on point with my bible reading. This in and of itself is a massive feat for me. I was sure I'd be the one in my group who would fall behind quick. Now if I can keep it up for the rest of the time (I think we have 77 days left?) I'll be golden. Although, in my defense, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are NOT easy reads. We'll see how the rest of it goes!

I finally decided on what I was going to purchase with some amazon gift cards I got from Swagbucks, and settled on an extrusion pasta maker. I experimented with it yesterday and made Shrimp in a white wine sauce with some homemade capellini pasta. It was fantastic! I did start out with all AP flour to learn the machine, but I plan on trying some whole wheat and spinach pastas soon.

To keep me accountable, I'm going to start participating in a few blog carnivals, starting with menu planning. Hopefully it will get me posting more often, and staying on top of my goals for the year!

~~** D **~~

Sunday, January 2, 2011

So I slacked off with my blog after just a couple of posts. No more! It is one of my goals for this year to be consistent with my blogging - we'll see how it goes!

I've set a few goals in my life for this year - and wonderfully had a few great Christmas gifts to get me on my way!

Goal 1: (As stated above) - Blog consistently! I'm hoping to get at least 2 posts a week. More if possible, but hey, let's work baby steps here.

Goal 2: In my brewing life, we'll be making the big switch to All-Grain brewing thanks to my mom and her hubby's generous Christmas gift! Yay! Just one more step along the way to our eventual brewpub!

Goal 3: Work diligently on my Baby Steps in Dave Ramsey's program. We've got the debt snowball rolling, and although I will not get specific about our finances on this blog, I have 2 debts I want to have paid off by the end of the year.

Goal 4: Actually get through the bible! I'm signed up on to complete the Bible in 90 days program starting tomorrow. Although I do not intend for this to be a religiously based blog, I think that blogging about it during the first 3 months during the year will help to keep me accountable. Again, we'll see how it goes!

Goal 5: I want to have some sort of de-cluttering goal for myself. I've come to the conclusion (as has my husband) that we have entirely too much STUFF. Now, with Aleyna growing, we can slowly start to get rid of all of our baby stuff (YAY!) since she will be our last little one.
I have heard of people doing a 730 item challenge - getting rid of 2 items a day for a whole year. Yes, I'm a bit behind already, but it seems like an attainable goal.

Goal 6: Focus on my Real-Food conversion. This will be the main focus of my blog over the next year. I will be sharing recipes, techniques, and other relevant items I find. We'll see how far I can go with the family and what they will put up with in the next year!

Anyway, those are my main goals for the year. I'm hoping to keep up on them, and participate in blog carnivals and things of that nature to keep me motivated and accountable. In the meantime, I hope everyone has had a great holiday season and Happy New Year!!

~~** D **~~