Saturday, March 12, 2011

Wednesday March 9th

Tonight we had Beef Taco Skillet. It was a hit too.

Here's the recipe:

The rest of the week we had pizza and leftovers. The leftovers were stockpiled in the fridge and I had a long birth Sunday and Monday so I took it easy.

Tuesday March 8th

Tonight we had Leftover Meatloaf and Tater Tot Casserole. In January I made a meatloaf recipe that made two loaves. We ate one and I froze one so I got that out of the freezer and thawed it to make this recipe. I was really skeptical when I was making it but it was really good. The kids even seemed to like it.

Here's the recipe:

Friday, March 4, 2011

March 4th

Today we did frozen pizza. I had every intention of doing homemade pizza tonight but I decided to try a recipe I found for homemade bagels. They were the bomb! They were not that hard to make at all and they were super yummy. I'm not sure that I'll buy store bought bagels anymore. Here's the link for the recipe.

This dinner was so easy to make and it was a very big hit at our house. The kids ate a lot of it and hubby went back for at least seconds. I think this is one of the easiest things I've made in a long time. Once again I love my Deep Covered Baker. I never would have believed that I could cook so many things in the microwave.

Wednesday March 2nd

Tonight was a designated leftover night because I had a client meeting. Hubby and the kids had the run of the leftovers.

So for this blog post I'm going to try to tug at your heartstrings. In October 2010 my son Ryan was diagnosed with PDD-NOS which is an Autism Spectrum Disorder. We're now having intensive therapies at our home five days a week. I feel like someone installed a revolving door on our front porch. It's really hard to have your life invaded like this but I know it's what is going to be best for my son. I am planning to participate in the Greater Pittsburgh Walk Now for Autism Speaks in June. I pledged as a team captain to have a team of 10 and to raise $1000 as a team. I am attaching the link to our team page. If you'd like to walk with us please join our team. If you feel moved to make a donation you can do it through the link. I am also doing various fundraisers. A friend who is a Mary Kay Consultant is doing an ongoing fundraiser for our team.

If you let her know upon checkout by putting in Ryan's Rocketships she will donate a portion of the sales to our team effort.

I will also be doing Pampered Chef and Tastefully Simple fundraisers soon and will post the info as soon as I have it.

Here is the info for out team page.

Thanks in advance.

February 28th

I haven't been sticking to the menu very well over the last couple of weeks because I just couldn't seem to get to the grocery store. Between appointments and illness I kept putting it off. I got to the point that I was piecing meals together and not getting really great results so I had to go. I finally made it to Giant Eagle last week. I once again filled the cart and managed to cover dinner for 3-4 weeks. I stocked up on cereal and a few other things too. I managed to save about $90 between sales, coupons and foodperks.

Monday the 28th I made a Beef Stew recipe that I found on a message board. It was a bad Monday and I forgot to get the meat out so I had to try to thaw it with enough time to get dinner cooked. I opted to buy a Sirloin Tip roast and cut it up instead of spending several dollars more for "stew meat".

I opted to deglaze with broth instead of red wine because I didn't want to open a whole bottle of it for such a small amount. Since I'm so new to this learning to cook thing I didn't even know what deglazing meant. I had to text message a friend of mine who is an awesome cook and ask her how to do that. Boy did I feel stupid. What I would do differently next time is to just put this all in the crockpot and cook it for several hours. I don't feel like the meat, potatoes or carrots were tender enough for my taste. I also prefer a thick beef stew and although this recipe was titled "Thick and Hearty Beef Stew" I didn't think it was thick enough. I wonder if I had left in the crockpot for a while if it would have thickened up.

Here's the recipe:

1/4 cup flour
2 pounds beef stew meat, cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup red wine
4 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
4 or 5 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
9 or 10 cremini mushrooms, cut into quarters (I didn't do this part. We're not mushroom people)
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon A-1 steak sauce

Toss the beef and flour in a bowl until the beef is coated. Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat; add the beef and cook until nicely browned. Set aside.

Deglaze pot with red wine, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Pour in the beef broth and add in the beef, parsley, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 1 hour.

Stir in potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, onion, Worcestershire, ketchup and A-1. Cover and simmer 1 hour more.

Hubby and the kids liked it. I wasn't a huge fan.

Tuesday March 1st

Tonight I made Mexican Chicken Lasagna which is a Pampered Chef recipe for the Deep Covered Baker which I think right now is my favorite product from PC. I tend to go back and forth on what my favorite is but right now I love this product.

This wasn't terribly hard to make but once again I was out of sorts all day and I think it took much longer than I expected it to because I was so disorganized.

I forgot to write down what size can of enchilada sauce I needed so I was a few ounces shy but I don't think it really made any difference one way or the other.

This was a huge hit and my hubby who usually adds hot sauce to everything he eats didn't feel the need to doctor this up.

Mine didn't look exactly like the picture above but it was yummy. My personal Pampered Chef consultants website info is on the picture so if you'd love to have a Deep Covered Baker of your own check out her site. I earned mine with hostess credits by having a party so that makes me love it even more.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Week Three

I didn't really stick to the schedule this week at all. It ended up being a totally crazy week with a lot of last minute things happening. Monday evening we had Upside Down Pizza. My friend Maria posted a few months ago that she was making this and I thought it looked good. It was a hit the first time I made it a few months back so I put it on for this week. I think hubby and the kids actually like this more than I do. It's good but it's by no means my favorite.

Because of the craziness of the week we ate the leftovers from Monday both Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday was a scheduled leftover day because I knew there would be plenty left. Wednesday I had planned to cook but I ended up having to have a CT Scan done at 4:30 that day in addition to several other things so we had leftovers again.

Thursday night I made Stuffed Shells. I buy the Rosetto Pasta shells because I'm not good enough to stuff my own shells. Maybe some day. I used a pound of ground beef and Prego Mini Meatball Sauce. I added some Tastefully Simple Dried Tomato and Garlic Pesto Mix and some Italian Seasoning to the sauce. I love Stuffed Shells and they are pretty easy. I've never used this type of Prego sauce before but it was definitely a winner in our house. Hubby loved it and the kids ate a lot too.

Friday we had leftover shells. I had a quiet day on Friday so I spent it hanging with the kids, baking Banana Nut Bread and organizing the menu, shopping list and coupons for the next 4 weeks. I'm hoping to hit the store this weekend to do the shopping because we also need snacks for the big game on Sunday.

I made Banana Nut Bread because we had a bunch of bananas that otherwise would have been in the garbage.

I've never made Banana Bread before so I just searched for a recipe on It was easy and turned out to be really yummy. It's certainly not good for my diet so one loaf will either go in the freezer or I'll save it for our company on Sunday. Here's the recipe I used for it.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Deal Pulp

I discovered a new daily deals site today. It's similar to Groupon and Living Social. It's called Deal Pulp. Today I bought the deal and it's for a box of gently used kids clothes on ThredUp. Thredup is an exchange site where you pay $5 plus shipping for a box of gently used clothing. I have some friends who used it and I've been wanting to check it out. With the Deal Pulp deal if you signed up through someone else's link you got a $5 credit so I got it for $1. I bought a second one as a gift for $6 so it's really a great deal. Here's my link if you want to check out Deal Pulp.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

1/25 and 1/27 and 1/28

1/25 and 1/27 were designated as leftover nights because of different appointments that were scheduled those days. !/28 I was sick with a nasty cold that is probably a sinus infection. The kids and I ran quite a bit that day and I had a lot of cleaning to do so we ended up getting pizza at Little Caesar's. Can you really beat a $5 pizza when you feel like crud?

I had stuffed shells on the menu for 1/28 but I just added them to a different week and I already have everything bought for it.

Now I'm all caught up. Yeah!

1/26 Roast Beef

If you're friends with me on facebook you might remember that I posted about a month ago about the horrible roast I had made. It was very disappointing and was dry and tough even after being in the crockpot all day. I usually just put onion soup mix on them and let them cook. I was out of onion soup mix and thought that Tastefully Simple Onion Onion should work the same way. It didn't unfortunately. I use it for many things but it doesn't do the trick for a roast.

I found this recipe on The Menus That Save Blog. I was little skeptical when it called for a can of coke but thought what the heck. After the awful roast I cooked a month ago what could it hurt to try it.

It was simply wonderful. I think this was my favorite so far of the new recipes I've tried. Even Maura asked for leftovers the next day. She also commented several times on how good it smelled while it was cooking. Ryan's Occupational Therapist was here that afternoon and she also commented on how good it smelled. This will definitely get made again. Maybe every week:)

The Roast Beef was on Wednesday on this post. I re-heated our redskin potatoes and I made the balsamic carrots from this post also.

Monday 1/24 Roast Chicken

When I made the menu I didn't know we were doing a chicken for the Pampered Chef Party two days before but I went ahead and stuck with the game plan. This was a recipe from the Menus That Save Blog.

It was good. My husband really liked it. I thought it was good but it was by no means my favorite of the new things I've made. It called for using fresh herbs and putting them inside the chicken. I used dried and put them on the outside. It was a little much for me. The next time I'll spend the extra money and put them inside. I also made redskin potatoes in the oven. My friend Kelly told me to quarter them and put butter, salt, pepper, garlic powder and parsley on them. They were really good. I cooked them in my Pampered Chef stoneware loaf pan.

Again I removed what was left and have been having wraps for lunch. It worked out pretty well.

It was the Tuesday meal on the blog post:

30 Minute Chicken 1/22

I have never bought a whole roaster chicken before. I've only ever bought boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I had a Pampered Chef party this day and we made 30 minute chicken in the Deep Covered Baker (which is by far one of the best inventions ever) in the microwave. I know what you're thinking about cooking chicken in the microwave but it seriously was delicious.

If you don't have a Deep Covered Baker from Pampered Chef you really must add it to your wishlist. I love baking cakes (in the microwave) in it. I can make chicken breasts in the microwave in less than 15 minutes and have a ton of broth left in it. You can bake in the oven with it also but to this point I had never used it in the oven.

At the moment I'm having trouble finding the recipe online so I'll come back and post it later.
Either way the chicken was really good. It was nice and moist and not at all rubbery like you would expect from cooking it in the microwave. There was a nice amount of broth in the pan too. What we didn't eat at the party I pulled off the bone and I used it to make wraps this week for lunch.

Here's the deep covered baker and if anyone feels a strong need to order one I'll get you in touch with my Pampered Chef Consultant. I'm so glad I got one a couple of parties ago.

Italian Style Chicken Breasts

This recipe was also a first and I thought it was delicious. I found the recipe on Giant Eagle's website. I thought it sounded good when I read the recipe so I added it to the calendar. This one will definitely make another appearance at some point.

Leftover Night

On the fourth day we did leftovers. I think we all had leftover chili.

So I'm also working on how to organize things a little better. One of the things that they recommended for us to do for Ryan is a visual calendar. I thought maybe something like this might help me too. We went to Office Depot for some things and I saw this really neat calendar in with the post it notes. It looked like this:

They wanted $14.99 for this thing. I bought a package of small multi colored post it notes and went home and pulled out a sheet of 50 cent poster board from wal-mart and made a similar calendar. I love it. Ryan's stuff is on blue post its, mine is on pink, maura's is on green, fun stuff is on purple. It's worked out nicely for me.

I'm still working on Ryan's visual calendar but hope to have it done this week. I am taking pictures of the most common places we go and the people we see. I bought a thing of rings and some plastic id badge sleeves so it can be a flip chart each day for him. It can be taken with us where ever we go.

I'm really hoping we can be more organized and less scattered this year.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Homemade Pizza

A friend of mine shared her pizza dough recipe with me and I will be forever grateful. I love, love, love pizza and now I can make it myself. It's really not that hard, it's cheaper than ordering out and it makes me feel accomplished to do it. Here's her recipe for the pizza dough. Oh and I have to add that when my husband and I got married I registered for this expensive mixer because I knew I should have one but honestly didn't know what I'd ever use it for. My grandma was so wonderful to buy it for me and for the first 5 years I maybe took it out twice to use it. I've used it many times over the last few months and I've come to truly appreciate how wonderful it is to own a good, sturdy mixer. Here's the recipe:

Pizza Dough

2 3/4 - 3 1/4 cups flour (I usually end up using 3)
1 pack active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoon veggie or olive oil

In a large bowl combine 1 1/4 cups of the flour, the yeast and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add warm water and oil. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scrape bowl. Beat on high speed 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon stir in as much remaining flour as you can. (If you're using a stand mixer you can just use that to mix in all the flour). Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaing flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes total. (This is where I use the dough hook attachment. I just run the mixer with that for 5 minutes or so). Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Spread dough onto two greased pizza pans. For thicker, pan pizza crust, cover and let th crusts rise 30-45 minutes before baking. For a thin crispy crust, just bake straight from there.

I've made this using half all-purpose flour/half whole wheat graham flour and it still turns out wonderful.

I made it this time with almost all whole wheat flour and it was awesome. I spiced up the sauce with some onion onion and some dried tomato and garlic pesto from Tastefully Simple because I'm cheap and buy generic sauce. The best part is this recipe give me two crusts so I refrigerated one and we had pizza for lunch on Saturday when we would normally have had fast food.

Thanks again to my friend Ashley for the recipe.

Day 2: Old Standby Chili

I love chili! I actually made myself sick because I ate bowl of chili everyday from Tuesday-Saturday this week. I finally had to freeze the leftovers because they were too good to throw away but I needed to back away from the chili.

I don't make chili exactly the same way every time but I have to say this batch was the bomb. I used 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef, a large can of light red kidney beans and two small cans of spicy chili beans and two large cans of tomato sauce. I do not use chunky tomatoes because I have texture issues with them. (No wonder my son has sensory issues). I added some Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic, some Onion Onion and some Wahoo Chili to it.

Then the most delicious part is the cornbread. I make two packages of it. Cut back slightly on the liquid and add a can of creamed corn to it. I love it. Kind of like the corn cake at Don Pablo's. It's super yummy.

Usually the corn bread lasts less than 24 hours in this house but it lasted at least 4 days this time because I'm trying to lose some of the baby weight now that Ryan is almost 3 so I fought the temptation to eat it right out of the pan with a fork and had a small amount each day with a small bowl of chili for lunch.

Cheeseburger Meatloaf

Day 1 of the menu planning brought us Cheeseburger Meatloaf. This recipe came from the Menus That Save Blog. This was absolutely wonderful. I am not a huge fan of meatloaf but I loved this. I made it into two loaves because my kids are not big eaters and I am trying to cut back. I froze the second loaf for another night. I found a recipe for later in February that is a leftover meatloaf and tater tot casserole dish that we're going to try with the frozen meatloaf. One loaf was enough for dinner, hubby took some for lunch the following day and I had the rest for lunch a day later that week.

I made parslied potatoes and corn with it. I will definitely make this again.

First Post

I decided a few weeks ago that the frustration of trying to decide at 4 pm everyday what I was going to make for dinner was going to end. We were lucky enough to have gotten a very generous Giant Eagle card from one of my husband's clients for Christmas so I decided to plan a menu and do a huge stock up grocery trip to Giant Eagle.

I sat down and thought about some of our favorite meals and also decided to check out a new blog that I discovered through It's called Menus that Save. I'm an extremely picky eater so I went through and picked out a few of them that sounded good and added them to the calendar. I left for the grocery store with my calendar, a list, my coupons and the car without car seats and seats folded down.

I spent two hours in the store and couldn't push the cart by the time I was done. It was overflowing but I had enough stuff for three weeks worth of dinners, about 2 weeks worth of lunches and 1-2 weeks of breakfasts easily.

It took two carts to get it all to the car and many trips up and down the cellar stairs when I got home. I will probably have to go shopping again next weekend when the menu I had planned ends. I already have the rest of February written in and most of March. I've gone through blogs, cookbooks and recipe websites to get ideas and have also fallen back on some of our favorites such as stuffed shells, homemade pizza and Old El Paso Enchilada Bake (which I could probably recreate and it would be much healthier but I figured I was entitled to a lazy meal now and then).

Several friends have asked me to post a blog with some of the recipes. As I said they are not my creations so I will provide links to the ones I've found online and will give references for the ones out of cookbooks (of which I have a ton).

I'd also love to hear what others are doing for dinner because we all love to try something new once in a while.