Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The One After Day 3 of the 30 Day Shred

Day 3 completed. I could not have felt better to not have to run today. Too bad it's only one day and tomorrow is both a run and the shred.
We had a busy day today, complete with Tae Kwon Do, a soccer meeting and then a PTA meeting.

Dinner tonight was Crock Pot Dump Chicken (thighs)
I did a paackage of chicken thighs, along with some Sesame Oil, Peanut Butter, Ketchup, Soy Sauce, and some Brown Sugar.
It turned out pretty good, and thank goodness it was crock pot! The boys were able to eat at 5pm, and I didn't get to eat the chicken till after 8pm!

Hubby doesn't come home till super late Thursday night....the clock is ticking down.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The One with the Crazy, Hot Monday, where I

got my butt kicked BIG TIME.

So I was real dumb. I was supposed to run for an hour this morning (4am) and I just couldn't drag my butt out of bed any earlier than "shower time" in order to get ready for work. So the solution, since my running schedule is already altered since the hubby is out of town till essentially Friday morning, was to take the kids (and the dog) for an hour long run after work!

The dog is fine, she can run 8 miles with me no problem. The kids normally ride their bikes and that works. But my oldest had homework that still needed to be done, so he was chosen to stay home and do homework uninterrupted (he's going to be 11, and won't be able to go to childcare in a year, so he has to start being tested to be by himself to prepare for next year).

That left the little one, who's almost 9 and one of, hmmm how do I say it, Whinier children that know. And to top it all off, it was about 95 degrees.

It was a tough run for me and the dog, and a little tough ride for the little guy. He was hot, tired, thirsty, needed to go to the bathroom and had a leg ache, ALL AT THE SAME TIME. This all miraculously went away when we turned and he started down a substantial hill. and it completely disappeared once we got to the driveway. But we survived.

But it wasn't over....oh no. After running over 6 miles in 95 degree heat, I still needed to do the 30 day shred. It's 20 minutes, of a butt kicking workout, everyday for 30 days. Today was day 2. And I can barely push my arms hard enough to close a dresser drawer now. Being a marathoner, my legs don't feel most of the workout, and my cardio really doesn't get challenged, but the strength training in the arms, and the ab exercises are definitely kicking my butt.

To top it all off, I managed to stick to my 2 cups of coffee per day, and I had no snacks at work. This is huge as there are always those little mini-candy bars in several candy dishes in the office. and I usually give myself a stomach ache eating too many every single day. I now have 2 chocolates sitting on my desk, and several in my purse that I haven't touched. It's my goal to seriously cut down on the sugar which can only help my running.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The One with Menu Planning Monday for August 24rd

This menu will be open to interpretation, hubby leaves tomorrow morning till late Thursday night (he usually does all the dishes), and we have a CRAZY schedule on Tuesday. Plus I'm supposed to run at 4am tomorrow.

So, hear we go:

Monday: Pasta Shells (from OAMC recipe that I previously made and froze half)

Tuesday: Nachos (also from a double batch I made and put half in the feezer). Recipe for the Chicken and Black Bean filling is here. Filling courtesy of Stolen Moments

Wednesday: Crock Pot Spaghetti (only goes for 4 hours, and I work 20 minutes away, not sure how this will work out yet, aside from coming home at lunch). Crock Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs

Thursday: Leftovers. Hubby comes home and it will be good time to clean out the frig.

Friday: Crock Pot Indonesian Chicken (also known as spicy Peanut Butter Chicken in this house). Originally taken from the book "saving dinner" by Leanne Ely.

Saturday: Farm Team BaseBall Game. No Cooking for Me!!!

Sunday: BLT Pasta Salad.

I am so excited about this recipe. It looks so yummy in the picture. I got it from Cooking During Stolen Moments, which is a blog I follow via RSS feed. (I have quite a few I follow in order to find good recipes and great grocery deals).

Crock Pot Indonesian Chicken:
1 T. Soy Sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 t. fresh ground gingerroot
1 1/2 t. Seasame oil
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
6 skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup peanut butter

Combine Soy sauce, oil, garlic, ginger, and cayenne pepper. Mix togethers. Place thighs in crock pot and cover thighs with mixture. Cook on low for 6 1/2 to 7 hours. Remove chicken from crock pot and stir peanut butter into juices until smooth. Spoon sauce over chicken to serve.

My husband loves this!!! He always asks for peanut butter chicken. The kids thought it was too spice, but when you cut back the cayenne, the love it.

For other recipes, please visit for other Menu Plans. cllick here

The one after the 1st 30 day Shred

I can tell I will be sore tomorrow. Got my butt kicked a little bit in the strength training department (I used the 5 pound weights, instead of either the 2 or 3 pounders that I have).

The cardio didn't really bother me at all----I got a wee bit hot and was "glistening" afterward, but I wasn't winded.

Some of the ab exercises bothered me, some didn't. I think I need to concentrate more on the proper form. Either that or I have like a herniated stomach muscle. Because some of the exercises I just didn't feel at all. Even if I'm doing them wrong, I should feel something.

It occurred to me that this may not be the best time to start the 30 day shred. I run a marathon in less than 6 weeks, and I have to run 18 miles on Saturday, not to mention 60 minutes on Monday, 45 minutes on Wednesday and 40 minutes on Friday. How on earth am I going to be able to do shred after 18 miles???? The program might go slower than it's supposed to go.

The One with the 30-Day Shred

I went out and bought the 30 day Shred DVD. I've got great endurance because of my running, and my legs and fanny are very muscular because of the running and training for a marathon (I've done 450 miles in 4 months), BUT...........

I still haven't found my abs since I had my boys. And that was almost 11 years ago! Plus, when you run, your body adapts very well to a routine. And any glitch in the routine and I get my butt kicked. Even if it is just on a new route, with less miles.

I've tried to build my route to include some pretty nasty hills, so that I get a workout each and every time, but the first two miles is always the same. And my body seems to think that's not a workout anymore.

So, I'm going to shock it with the 30 day shred! Starting tonight! Hubby will be out of town beginning tomorrow through Thursday, so I'll even be able to do it downstairs at whatever time works for me, since I won't have to turn off the golf shows when he's here ;)

Can't wait

The One with the Death in the Family

Boomer died. He's our Beta Fish, which was acquired soon after Speedy had died while we were on vacation. I noticed that he was very still (but still alive) yesterday, and he hadn't been eating. We changed his water, and then went down to the beach for the afternoon.
When we got home, it was bedtime and I skooched the boys up to bed. Boomer was vertical in the water, but still alive. Although I'm no fish expert, I do recognize that swimming vertically with his mouth right at the surface just isn't healthy.

Little Man was quite sad this morning, there were tears, and quite a few of them. I tried to make him feel better by fixing pancakes and letting him flip them. Not sure how we'll address the "can I have another fish". We already have 4 cats, and 2 dogs, so not having another pet certainly doesn't make things simple, but it doesn't add complications on the matter. Our housesitter received 4 pages of typed instructions when we went on vacation in less pet to give instructions on could cut out at least 1 paragraph.

The One with Newly Found Recipes I'm Dying to Try.

I found a few new recipes which I probably won't be able to squeak into my menu for a bit. But since they are all over the internet, I figured it was time to start a new tag in order to find them easily next time.

Kid Pleasing Taco Pizza Originally found at Mom's Plans Menu Planning Monday

Popcorn Chicken

3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 t. sea salt
1/2 t. garlic powder

In a medium sized bowl, stir together flour, salt and garlic powder. Using kitchen shears, cut chicken breasts into tiny bite sized pieces. Toss chicken in flour mixture to coat well.

Smear a thick layer of butter on the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Pour coated chicken into dish, spreading so that they are in a single layer.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Stir chicken and bake another 10 minutes.

I originally found this post at Heaven Homemaker's blog, here.

I'm going to attempt to link up my menu plan this week. I'm also going to do a review (while I still remember) of what we actually ended up ending, vs. what the menu said at the beginning of the week!

Pizza Bread

I actually found a quasi-version of this (and tried it!) tonight on the fam. They loved it, LOVED IT! Pizza Rolls were definitely a hit. Next time I'll try this one.

Lasagna Bowls
Seems easy enough. I got this recipe from a co-worker. I'm going to work it into my rotation soon!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The One after the Pampered Chef party!

Whew! i made it out of there for barely over $50!
There was a special where orders over $60 would get a free cook book, but then the consultant also let it drop that stoneware is on sale special for September, and that October is the month of the Knife!

I want both the covered Baker stoneware, and the huge knife that I tested on Pork Tenderloin, so it looks like I need to host a party, and at least order what I want for one of the two months.

I ended up getting:
The garlic peeler and slicer set
Egg Separator
the finger-looking masher.

The One with the Pampered Chef Party!

I'm going to a Pampered Chef Party tonight...eeeeeeeeeee!!! I'm so excited! I have previewed the products online and have made apreliminary list of my must haves. Namely, I need:
An egg separator. They apparently do not sell these at Albertsons or at Target, and I just didn't feel like going out of my way to Bed, Bath & Beyond.
The Garlic Peeler. This just looks darn cool, and I love, love, love garlic. So anything to make it easier to get the garlic out of their little skins, I'm all for.
The Garlic Slicer/Crusher Thingie. See above...I think I need to see this up close. I'm not sure what exactly it is, but I saw this roller thingie in Target that is a Garlic Crusher. Cool.

I actually was a consultant for a while, just for the discount on the P.C. stuff and toys. I wasn't cooking as much as I am now, so after a few orders, I had everything that I needed. And was done ordering.

I'm also excited to at least come away with a new recipe, and drink some wine with friends (hee hee)

On a side note, I'm starting to get some frantic phone calls regarding the phasing out of the Creative Memories "old" sizes of the pages to the new "true size". A couple of friends of mine lost their consultant, and apparently the consultant hadn't told them, over the last two years, that the old sizes would be phasing out. So I have a couple of gals who are going to frantically inventory their "open" projects in order to place one last order for old pages and enough protectors to cover everything (can't have unprotected pages). It makes me so glad I went digital two years ago :)

I'll post what I end up buying at the PC party tonight, or possibly tomorrow after my run. Tomorrow's run is 12 miles, bright and early

The One with Crockpot Blueberry Dump Cake (for Recipe Swap)

First of all, if you are from Recipe Swap, Welcome!
I don't get many visitors from here, so I'm happy when anyone stops by to visit!

This recipe is sooooo easy! I don't remember where I got it exactly, I've modified it only slightly, but I made it for the 2nd time last night, and it's yummmyyyyyy!

Crockpot Blueberry Dump Cake

1 21 ounce can Blueberry Pie filling
1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup of butter
Chopped Walnuts to sprinkly on top (i used pecans)

Put pie filling in crock pot.

Mix together the melted butter and cake mix. Pour over top.
Sprinkle with pecans.
Cook in crock (low for 3 hours, or high for 1 1/2)

Couldn't be easier, or yummier!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The One where I'm going to cut back on coffee

I'll admit it.
I'm addicted to coffee.
I have to have it everyday (although somedays a lot of time goes by before I realize I haven't had any coffee).
I'm okay with needing my daily cup(s), but I was starting to drink my coffee at night, right before bed, after a 5 mile run when I'm hot and sweaty, and it's 300 degrees outside.

In other words, there was no darn good reason why I would need coffee, and yet I craved it. It relaxes me, I like it.
I also sweeten the heck out of it. A 12 ounce mug (I think), and I put in 2 packets of equal AND two individual creamers.

It dawned on me the other day that it seems like every time I turn around, I'm either buying coffee grounds or creamer at the store. I just bought Starbucks ground two week ago in order to help fulfill a rebate offer (10.99 for the pound). Then it turned around and was a loss leader at 6.99/pound the following weekend! Which isn't that big of a deal, I just stocked up at the lower price.

Until I saw that the original pound is ALMOST gone! And it hasn't even been 2 weeks. And my husband only drinks 2 cups per day, which during the week, are not even at my house! He waits until he gets to work to have his precious two cups!

So, I'm going to cut back on the coffee. For starters, I will not have coffee when I return from a run.
Which will transition to no coffee at work.
Which will hopefully transition to no coffee after 12pm, even when I am at work.
Which will hopefully eventually transition to only 2 cups per day.

I can only wish upon a star that one day I'll be disciplined like my husband.
And for the record, I have very excellent blood pressure, and I don't have a problem falling asleep when I drink a cup and then promptly go to sleep. Kind of indicates there a huge tolerance there. I can only hope as I cut back that the tolerance will lessen.

Also for the record, I only drink soda at fast food restaurants, which is EXTREMELY rare.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The One with my Top Ten Random Wants

10 wants that I have which are not needs (for the most part)
1. I-phone. They are just so darn cool. I could do so many things with it. For instance, you can upload your coupons to it and then just show it to the cashier (it produces a bar code to scan). Unfortunately, my current phone does not do internet access, and my contract isn't up till next June, which is so far away.

2. A very long massage. I took a big time digger last night on my run. Scuffed up both knees, my writing hand, which makes writing or signing anything difficult. But I think I screwed up my neck and back as well. I've had a major headache ALL Day.

3. An Egg Separator. I don't have one. When I went to the grocery store, none there. Went to Target, none there. I'm going to a pampered chef party on Friday, and apparently I'm buying an egg separator. Now that I'm cooking more (I made waffles for the first time in my life), it has become a bit inconvenient to have to hand separate, and hope for the best.

4. Garmin 405. Totally a want. I just want the latest garmin gps watch with all the bells and whistles. Mine decided to acquire a short not too long ago, so charging is always a questionable act now-a-days. But definitely not an immediate and necessary purchase.

5. THe Pampered Chef Knives. I tried one out and they are sooooo nice.

6. The Pampered Chef Cookware set. Let's just say that my pots and pans set is lacking and extremely high quality.

7. A new running skirt. I love my running skirt from However, it's useful life is slowly ending. It would be nice to have another, as I love the way it fits and the fact that it has two pockets, one on each side.

8. A taxi for my kids. My boys have one wish, to be able to ride their bikes home. But the route from home to school doesn't yield the riding of bikes. Plus, they are at the age where there are after-school activities they'd like to do, but they need to have a ride to the day care afterwards in order to be able to do the activities, otherwise they are stuck at the school and I'd be getting a phone call. Last year Ross did Band, but they couldn't do Chess Club.

9. A pair of running shoes in which my toes don't hurt. I'm not sure that this one is attainable. I've been running for 5 years now. my running shoes are fit at the store, and I've tried countless pairs. Past a certain amount of mile on each run, I get deep layer blisters at the tips of my toes and under my toenails. I love toenails frequently and just popped two blisters on the nail bed this morning after th 12 mile run.

10. Pulled Pork. I've got a great recipe and lately I haven't been able to pick up a pork roast at the weekly trip to the store. But I am so craving Pulled Pork right now :)

The One with the Recipes I'd love to try

I found some fabulous recipes online today that I just can't wait to squeeze into my menu plan! I've already planned through the end of August, so these will be going on the meny for September. I've posted the recipes here, along with the links to the pages that I found them on.

Sharon Dougherty's Lasagna

Brown 1-1/2 lb ground beef. Add 1 tbsp parsley, 1/2 tsp salt, 12 oz tomato paste, 1 clove garlic, minced, 1 tsp basil, 2 cups tomatoes. Simmer 30 minutes. Refrigerate overnight. (Not sure this is important when freezing, but definitely a must when making to eat right away).

Cook and drain 6-8 lasagna noodles. Combine 3 cups cottage cheese (24oz container), 2 beaten eggs, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, and 2 Tbsp parsley flakes. Shred 1 pound mozzarella cheese.

In a 9x13 greased pan, layer 1/2 noodles, 1/2 cheese mixture, 1/2 mozzarella, 1/2 meat sauce. Repeat layers and save some mozzarella for the top of the lasagna.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Let stand 15-30 minutes before serving.

Originally found here

Baked Chicken in Butter & Cream Sauce

1/2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp pepper
1 frying chicken (I use chicken thighs)
1/4 c butter
1 1/2 c hot water
1/2 c nonfat dry milk powder

Dip chicken into water, then coat chicken with mixture of flour and seasonings. Recipe suggest putting the skin side down in the pan (I cook skin side up, it gets crunchy). Dot chicken with butter, and then bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Mix water & milk powder and pour around chicken. Bake 1 1/4 hours more or until chicken is tender.

I always add another dab of butter on top of the chicken when I pour the milk gets super crunchy then!


.Originally found here

French Toast Casserole

1 loaf Italian bread
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 C sugar, divided
1/2 t vanilla (or almond) extract
1/2 C pecans, optiona
4 eggs
2 C milk
1 t cinnamon (or more!)
2 T melted butter

Cut bread into 1 inch cubes. Place half of the bread cubes in agreased 9 x 13 baking pan. Melt cream cheese (carefully!) in the microwave. Stir several times. This takes about 2 minutes. Stir half the sugar and all of the extract into the cream cheese. Pour the cream cheese mixture over thebread cubes. It will not completely cover them. Sprinkle nuts over the cream cheese layer. (I will be giving the nuts on the side for you to sprinkle on top). Top with remaining bread cubes. Beat together theremaining sugar, eggs, milk, cinnamon, and melted butter. Pour the egg and milkmixture over the bread cubes. Refrigerate overnight to bake the next morning OR slide the pan into a two-gallon freezer bag and freeze. Thaw completely to cook. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until browned. Let sit at room temp for 5 minutes before cutting. Top with syrup or fruit toppings.

Originally found here

Twice Baked Potatoes

4 large baking potatoes
8 slices bacon
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
8 green onions, sliced, divided (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Bake potatoes in preheated oven for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.
When potatoes are done allow them to cool for 10 minutes. Slice potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh into a large bowl; save skins. To the potato flesh add sour cream, milk, butter, salt, pepper, 1/2 cup cheese and 1/2 the green onions. Mix with a hand mixer until well blended and creamy. Spoon the mixture into the potato skins. Top each with remaining cheese, green onions and bacon.
Bake for another 15 minutes.

Originally Found Here

Margarita Pork Chops
(Can I just say "yummmmmmy?")

Makes 8 to 12 servings
12 pork loin chops, each about 1 inch thick
4 1/2 cups bottled margarita mix
6 tablespoons minced garlic
5 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons black pepper
1. Divide the pork chops between two or three heavy-duty freezer bags. Pour the margarita mix into each bag and then add the garlic, salt and pepper. Seal the bags; massage a bit to mix the marinade. Freeze. Transport in a cooler and, if still frozen upon reaching your destination, place back in the freezer until a day before they are needed. If the pork does not make the trip frozen, refrigerate immediately and use within a day or two.
2. To prepare, grill over a medium fire until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a chop reads 160 degrees. To prepare inside, arrange chops on a greased broiler pan. Broil chops under high heat 5 inches from the heat source, turning frequently, for 14 to 18 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chop reads 160 degrees.

Originally found here

Parsley Parmesan Chicken

2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (or 6-8 chicken breasts)
1/3 bottle of Italian salad dressing
1/2 c shredded Parmesan cheese
1/3 c dry bread crumbs (used Seasoned Italian bread crumbs)
1 1/2 T parsley flakes
1/2 T paprika
Salt & Pepper

Assembly Directions:
Marinate chicken in dressing overnight.
Mix the remaining ingredients and bread each breast with coating.

To Freeze: Lay chicken breasts side by side on baking sheets and place in freezer for 1 to 2 hours to firm up. Place chicken in labeled gallon size Freezer Bag and freeze.

Cooking Directions:
Thaw & bake at 350 uncovered for 30 minutes or until done.

Makes 8 (4 oz) chicken breasts Cost $5.50 per meal (Chicken on sale for $1.99/lb)

Way to a Man's Heart Cookies
What can I say. I love chocolate and Heath Bars and anything with SUGAR! I can't wait to try these. Although they will require a special shopping trip. There's just no way a bag of toffee chips will last in my house indefinitely.

The One about the Braces (again)

Little guy's (we'll call him Joey-like on the old Friends Series, because he positively loves to eat!) got his braces last week.
Phase I, of I don't know how many phases, but I'm guessing 2 or 3.

Phase I out of pocket cost is $1,900. Phase II will probably be just as much if not more.

And by the way, my oldest (we'll call him Ross, the emotional one), will need one traditional phase of braces. I'm preparing for $10K worth of mouth and bite issues and challenges. Still trying to play it all out in the budget in order to make it work.

Phase I is going to cost me $125 a month for a year, after $400 down plus the X-rays. I'd like to pay that off early and continue saving in order to have a huge chunk when the next phases happen.

On the plus side, there's a lot less sticky foods that he can eat, so I'm saving in that area. And we're eating better too!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The One where I run (a lot)

I am a runner. I've been running for a little over 4 years now, and am currently training for my 4th marathon (in October).

The training schedule is "unique" to say the least. Not because of how many mile I average (currently 35-40 per week), but because it is always a mystery as to when I will get to run. Depending on the season, I change when I like to run. Now that it is summer, I fluctuate between running befor the sun comes up and at sunset.

The rotating of the time is partially because of my husband's schedule. He needs to be home so that I'm not running out the door and leaving the kids to their own devices for an hour. Since I leave for work by 6am (with a goal of 5:30), I have to be out the door by 4am if I'm running in the morning before work. This is doable and actually enjoyable during the summer, when the weather is pleasant only prior to the sun coming up.

When it is this hot outside, and I don't run before the sun comes up, the only real option is to run as the sun is setting, or shortly after. Since it doesn't get dark till about 8, I can get a decent run in prior to the street lights coming on during the summer.

As it gets closer to fall, it gets trickier. Prior to the time change, it starts getting darker earlier, and it gets lighter later in the morning. On either side of the coin, I'm running more in the dark which always scares me. Partly because of the boogie-man, which I've solved by taking the dog with me. But also because of the possibility of falling, simply because I can't see as well in the dark!

I have 6 weeks left till the marathon as of this Saturday. The training has been long and I'm starting to feel like it's never going to be here. In 5 weeks, I'm going to have more of a challenge trying to find a time to run when it is light enough outside to run the risk of tasting concrete. One day at a time I guess

The One with the Terriyaki Beef

I'm still learning the world of blogging....And I'd love to be able to have all my recipes on this site for when I need them. But that will take time. In the meantime, I'm learning how to link, comment, trackback, widget, Mr. Linky, etc etc etc

I could do this all day, and be really good at it. But I do have a job that pays me with the expectation that I'll do work which makes the Bank money, not just myself. So the learning curve for blogging is stretched due to the compression of time available (after work, before training for a marathon, and while still getting enough (6) hours of sleep.

So, the only way I can figure out how to get this recipe, and still give credit to type A Mommy, is to link back to her site for the recipe.

Type A Mommy's Terriyaki Beef Recipe
It looks sooooo yummy! Can't Wait to try it!

The One Where "The Grass Is Greener": Frustration

The Grass Is Greener: Frustration
Today I was reading one of my new favorite blogs, The Grass is Greener. She and her husband have worked their fannies off and have paid off everything but their mortgage debt.
She looked at trying to refinance through the HARP program, which seems like a great program because tons of people are unable to refinance without upping the LTV maxes.

I live in one of the "bust" areas and I work in a bank, I've seen it all lately. Anyway, go to her blog to read the whole story, but I contacted my lender in order to see if it was possible. This is the only way to lower our rate, as we won't have 20% equity in our home for quite awhile, and that's assuming a market rebound.

I talked to a very nice man from B of A, who said that I could get 5.125% fixed. We are already at 6.00%, so this is merely to lower our payment. However, that turkey said there was a 2 point buydown!!!! Automatically, after the points, and the per diem, and the impound account that they would require, it would add over 13K to my loan balance. Which, based on my savings per month, it would take me 4 years to recoup. The market could rebound and give us 20% equity in four years. So I turned Michael down.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The One with the Menu Planning Monday-August 17

Hi All:
It's Menu-Planning Monday. I should have made this post earlier, the menu was already done. But I didn't. So now that it's 8pm and I'm finally home and out of work clothes, I heated up the chicken & black bean filling and then changed out of my clothes.

Monday: Nachos (with Chicken and Black Bean filling)
Tuesday: lazy Lasagna
Wednesday: Peanut Butter Chicken (adapted from Crock pot Indonesian chicken from Saving Dinner by Leanne Ely)
Thursday: Pizza Pasta
Friday: Buffet of Left overs
Saturday: THe Duck Tour (dinner out)
Sunday: Chicken Parmesean

I will have to repost some of these recipes. I'm been having a blast finding new recipes. The chicken and black bean filling was actually something I made last Wednesday and froze. Love it when I can cook out of the freezer!

For more menu ideas, come check out

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Best website Find EVER!

I'm not sure how I found it but I think it was a link from a new blog I discovered this weekend....
I currently have about 20-25 blogs which I have subscribed to their feeds, and just check my feedburner to see who has new posts each day. Some how I clicked onto a new blog and then found my way to (queue music please)....

For any mom, dad, gourmet cook, top-ramen eating college student, etc etc, this site is a must!

Basically, you set up an account and then type in the various items that you have in your pantry or frig. Each time you put in an ingredient, it will match up recipes based on what you have in your account!

For instance, I plugged in pasta sauce, pasta, ground beef and parmesean cheese. It came up with several recipes that I could make from just those ingredients. When I added eggs and Italian Seasoning, it increased the recipes that I could make right then and there.

What's even better, it will give you suggestions for other ingredients that would be helpful to have, based on what is already in your pantry.
And the bestest of best parts, the recipes that are in the supercook database are from internet sources, like recipezaar,, allrecipes, etc. So if I was totally motivated, I could plug in all of MY recipes into one of those sites, and then my recipes would be searchable based on the ingredients.

This site is a must for anyone that is trying to cut down their grocery bill. It will give you recipes based on what is already in your pantry.
It's also a must for any moms that need more time in their day, are trying to cut down on food waste.

I know for a fact that I didn't input everything that I have on hand, and yet it told me that I could make 2,000 different recipes from what I have. Granted there's probably 20 different versions of peanut butter cookies, but still. If you ever are stuck with what to make for dinner at the last minute, this is fabulous. And if you stay on top of maintaining what is in your pantry on this site, just think of how easy menu planning would be.

Bear Runner

Saturday, August 15, 2009

First Day of School!!! And the return of the

Crazy Schedule!

First off, the first day of school was a hit. The little bears are now in 5th grade and 3rd grade. It is Bear Tradition to have breakfast for dinner for both the first day of school and the last day of school.

First days of school was a minimum day. They got out of 11:35, but we needed to be back for "Back to School Night" at 6pm. I decided to run before everyone woke up instead of at night. I traditionally take the day off from work on the first day of school. I started running at 5am, only to be stopped by not one but TWO patrol cars.
It seems they were looking for an elderly lady (in her nightgown) who had disappeared from her room at the assisted living facility. I never saw anything in the paper, so I'm assuming that they found her.

Dinner was Omelettes, and for dessert, chocolate chip coffee cake. Since I was in the kitchen for the afternoon, I also took some time to make "chicken-Black Bean filling". I got it from Cooking During Stolen Moments, one of my new favorite sites!

I have printed lots of recipes from her site and have liked all of them so far.

I made the filling and filled several bags that went into the freezer. Quesdaillas with the filling are on the menu for next week!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bummers and Braces

Well, the little man got braces today and it just wasn't FUN. There were tears in the chair as the lady was putting the snuggy bands on the molars. His little lips were way chapped and he just wanted to go home.
We made it through the nearly 2 hour long appointment, only to go half way down the stairs and then realize that he didn't get his balloon. We trekked back up the stairs to get the balloon, wait for said balloon. Go back down to the car and as he is talking to Daddy on the phone, begins to cry. Because he let go of the darn balloon! I felt so bad I let him ride home in the front seat to go get a milkshake. The milshake seemed to help a little. Next checkup: October 1.

Bummer of the day, I got the Tuesday ad for Albertsons. The $5 off $25 is now in the paper, which I had already done this weekend and submitted for! But since the rebate is now in the Alby's ad, the prices that I just paid are now significantly higher than this week's deals. For example, the Starbucks coffee grounds is $5 less than I paid on Sunday. There are other things marked down as well. But, the rebate paperwork is already in the mail. I can get the $5 catalina this week if I can put together enough to make the $25, but was bummed to see that if I had waited, I could have saved more $$$.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Here's my first crack at writing my menu plan in stone, or at least on the net for all to see:

Monday: Pasta Shells (this quasi-happened. Boys ate dinner at grandma's, but Big Bear liked it and now there's lots of leftovers).
Tuesday: Cornflake Chicken
Wednesday: Breakfast dinner with Chocolate Chip coffee cake (first day of school tradition of breakfast for dinner).
Thursday: Left Overs
Friday: Ravioli
Saturday: Taco Soup (yes I know it's summer, but there's chips and cheese and it's more like Chili)
Sunday: Left Overs.

For more menu options, check out Menu Plan Monday at

My first Super Deal EVER!

I've been pouring over all of these freebie blogs, coupon blogs, and have ordered lots of free samples over the last two weeks....All while finding some recipes to try out and planning my menus from now through the end of July.

I have to admit, things go much, much smoother when the menus are planned out. Sometimes I still have prep work to do when I get home, and don't get to change my clothes until an hour after I walk through the door. But just knowing what the menu is lays down the law for the kids. They can choose to eat it or not, but the line in the sand is drawn, and there is no whining about the meny once the food is already cooking.

So, I always shop on Sundays, and had picked out my various deals through the week by browsing the ads and the blogs. I shop at Albertson's, and had picked out some must haves:

11 oz. blueberries for $0.99
Various items for the $10 Fuel for School Rebate
Various items for the Kraft Foods $5 back plus $20 mail in rebate.
There were certain items that I needed for my menu, and I was going to get some spices and pantry items that were needed.

I managed to get all the items for the $10 rebate,
and to get the items for the $20 rebate.
But there was not a single blueberry in the store! They hadn't come in. Sure there was raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and gooseberries,

I picked up 2 packs of raspberries, which were on sale but not as good of a deal. I got a rain check for the blueberries.
But, by doing my planning for the week, and doing some make ahead meals,
I was able to cut out the frozen breakfasts that I usually by.
I have everything I need to make all my dinners this week.
I came in under my budget of $135 for the week (and for the second week in a row).
Based on the initial prices, I save $113 dollars total (including my cash backs, my coupons,and preferred card prices).

I went back today to get my blueberries. I had $5.00 catalina cash, and a coupon for $1/2 pop tarts. The pop tarts were on sale for $1.97/each.
So here's the breakdown:
(2) $3.89 pop tarts
(6) $3.99 blueberries marked down to $0.99 cents each

I saved $18.00 on the blueberries, total savings was over $23!!! I don't have the receipt with me, but I'm soooooo excited!!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Challenge Part II

OK so the second part of the challenge, aside from actually knowing how to cook, is Money. I know everyone is starting to feel the pinch these days, but somehow it is so darn difficult to keep a reasonable grocery bill and yet still be healthy too.

I've been doing all of the grocery shopping for the past 11 years, but my husband has NOT been doing middle of the week grocery store trips for about 4 years now (Yes, it is true. I was so bad about cooking that I used to do ALL of my grocery shopping at Costco. You can't really keep fresh produce on hand for too long if you're going to Costco only once every few weeks).

Over the last four years, I've watch everything spike up in price in Albertsons, meat, pudding, yogurt, MILK!!!, everything. The kicker is that my grocery store is on the "price cut slogan" bandwagon right now. They claim that they cut prices 20%, which isn't really true, they just are having less specials each week. The price cuts are still higher than the good preferred card prices each week.

I dug around on the internet and found TONS of blogs on how to save money at the grocery store. One mom feeds her family of six on $60 per week! My budget is $135/week and sometimes we go over! So, as part of this quest, I'm going to be a coupon clippin, penny pinching, recipe swapping, menu planning, Executive. It will make for some distraction in my office at lunchtime to be sure, as that's going to be the only real time to scan the papers for deals.

The Challenge of Cooking (anything) when working outside the home (Part I)

I'll admit it...I'm terrible at being motivated to make a mess in the kitchen (and then turn around and clean it up). Being in the kitchen has always been kind of boring, and I'm kind of a picky eater. So I'm less likely to try new recipes which I may not enjoy than old recipes (read: plain and boring) which I know I will like.

I'm a huge fac of grilled chicken. And broiled halibut, swordfish or salmon. But that's about as exotic as I've always been. The problem now is trying to feed my two growing boys without creating picky monsters as well. I tried menu planning, earlier this year. I went to and and downloaded several recipes. I tried most of them and found a few favorites. But soon enough, we had fallen back into our rut of frozen pizza once per week, and a few meals planned by standing in front of the freezer door at 6pm. That's when I put my head down in defeat!

I found a recipe for Pizza Pasta, and realized that I had most everything I needed to make it. I was just missing the mushrooms and olives....oh and the pasta was a different kind but it would work. and it wasn't a marinara sauce, but it was a sauce! And I was a little bit short on the mozzarella cheese, but I'd just have it be a half n half pizza. But, at least I had a package of pepperoni in the fridge (which I had bought many moons ago when I had convinced myself I was going to make pizza from scratch.

I made my modified version of pizza pasta and the boys didn't complain (score one for Mama!). I also found a ton of other recipes, easy recipes, cheap recipes, once a month cooking recipes, cooking from scratch, crockpot cooking, etc etc etc. I printed off quite a bit, created a recipe book with sheet protectors.

So this is my first, of many posts I hope. I'll post my menus for each week, and keep my recipes here for reference. I'd also like to use this blog in order to link to the recipes that I find. Sometimes I find something but I don't have time to print it out, and then I can't seem to find it again when I need it.