Meal Planning: Week 3

whats for dinner

 

Day #1 Baked Chicken topped with Brie and Prosciutto and Spaghetti Aglio, Olio, e Peperoncino (with gluten free pasta) with Peas

If you have never made this Spaghetti Aglio, Olio, e Peperoncino, you need too. Reduce the red pepper if you don’t like spicy food. I love this as a side. It does not look like much, but it is such a perfect accompaniment with some many proteins. So so tasty, CHEAP and I think it’s best served at room temperature.

Day#2 Creamy Tomato Soup with Italian Sausage and Mushrooms and Grilled Cheddar Cheese Sandwiches (similar to this recipe)

My husband loves this soup. I have made it several different ways depending on what ingredients I have on hand. The base is one box of Tomato Red Pepper Soup, milk (or cream), chicken stock and Italian seasoning. Then I add whatever else I feel like- garlic, onion, mushrooms, sausage, kale, spinach, diced chicken, tortellini etc.

Day#3 Grilled Tuna Steak topped with Sriacha Cream Sauce, Brown Rice and Creamed Spinach

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Day#4 Beef Barley Soup with Grilled Cheddar Cheese Sandwiches (gluten free thanks to Great Harvest)

I was scared of barley until I tried this recipe. As scared of a whole grain as someone can be. My stepson was home from college over the weekend so I tried out this hearty soup that I thought he would like. The recipe was perfect for a Saturday when I was busy and didn’t have time to stand over the stove. And my husband and stepsons think my thick grilled cheddar cheese sandwiches are the greatest thing ever. So I made them twice last week because I ♥ good simple food.

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Home Improvement: House Funk and Laundry Room Rejuvenation

Have you ever been in a house funk?

Like no matter what you do to your  home it does not seem “good enough,” especially when you compare it to others’ homes?

Ack, comparison is the thief  of joy.

Well no matter how many  books, blog posts, pinterest inspiration quotes I read  in regards to finding contentment and joy in the midst of imperfection, I still get in these funks.

Sometimes the funk lasts two hours and sometimes it lasts weeks.

Well I have been in said funk for several months now, and I am starting to see the light.

And I know the reason why.

When I share my home with others rather than spending time in comparison it gives my home life, dare I say  rejuvenation.

Rejuvenation that does not require a hammer and nails, or even a paint brush.

Rejuvenation that is simply spurred on as I view my home as something I can serve others with, rather than how I feel about the way it serves me.


Here is the before and after of my “far from ideal” laundry area.

For the full “before” post go here. 

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Ahh so much better.

And to help get my funk on the move this weekend, I took this photo on Sunday afternoon to compare with the photos from 28 months ago.

PicMonkey Collage

Photo-bomb provided by Joe.

Meal Plan- Week 2

whats for dinnerWell I got off kinda easy this week because 3 nights we had plans after work that included dinner.

But I still managed to cook a good bit.

And this is what I made.

This dinner came together quickly because last time I made this dish I double the sauce and stuck half in the freezer. So I literally had to cook the noodles and brown the chicken. I think it took about 15 minutes total.

I saw this chicken recipe on my Facebook feed on Wednesday, went to the grocery store on my lunch break for the ingredients, and made it for dinner. Talk about (almost) instant gratification. It was delicious. I LOVE incorporating pears into savory dishes. I will be making this one again. I think using bacon and Swiss cheese would be good too (and less expensive).

  • Day #3  Cracked Pepper Pork Tenderloin and Roasted Corn with Sweet Bell Peppers

 Three cheers for marinated pork tenderloin. I bought a seasoned pork tenderloin at Trader Joes and grilled it according to the directions. Added a mix of (frozen) roasted corn and peppers. Perfect for a Saturday since I had been painting ALL day.

I made this for Joe and I after church on Sunday because the kids weren’t around. I used a simple marinade recipe I found on allrecipes.com. It turned out well, especially considering I used frozen tuna steaks.

Monday Randomness: Yard Sale, Painting and Chocolate Cake with Cookie Butter

This whirlwind of a weekend went by so fast.

But my husband and I both agree that it feels as if a burden has been lifted.

We got rid of SO MUCH stuff between the yard sale and donating to Goodwill.

And to top it off we made about $125 on stuff that we never use.

Friday night my mom and sister came over with a bunch of stuff to sell too; we got it all organized and priced by about 9pm.

After they left,  I remember I never went to the bank to get change for our sale, so off to the grocery store I went.

Thankfully my sweet cashier at Publix was able to give me a bunch of ones which made my life easier.

Then Saturday I woke up to find several people at the end of my driveway waiting for me to start my sale.

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My niece Bailee sold donuts to our customers, and had everyone laughing.

At one point she told a gentleman that he could have a doughnut, but he had to pay her $50.:)

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By 11am we were winding down; so we just threw everything that didn’t sell into our cars and then drove to the donation drop off about about 1 mile from my house.

Then we all headed to Chickfila for a celebratory lunch of chicken and fries.

By about 1pm I felt that if I didn’t take a nap I would be sure to fall asleep in my dinner.

Two hours of comatose sleep later, I felt refreshed.

Then it dawned on me that we were supposed to bring food to church on Sunday for potluck dinner.

So I quickly ran to the store to buy stuff for grilled chicken Ceasar salad, homemade pimento cheese, and chocolate cake.

When I got home Joe was working on the shelving over the washer and dryer. He removed all the old shelves (and I can’t wait to show you the transformation).

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I quickly grilled chicken, and made dinner, and whipped up the cake and pimento cheese.

Bedtime.

Sunday we served in the children’s program at our church, then had potluck lunch.

Then we came home and tackled the paint of the basement and new light fixtures that I bought for $1 at Goodwill).

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And 7 hours later we went to bed.

But the main point of this whole post is that I took my mom’s chocolate cake recipe and swirled 1/2 cup of Trader Joe’s cookie butter into the batter.

If you don’t have Trader Joes in your area this product is similar.

AMAZING! It tasted like a chocolate cake made for fall. Try it!

Meal Plan Review- Week 1

whats for dinner

I always love when I see other’s meal plans because it inspires me to get a little more organized (at least in my dreams) when it comes to cooking.

 So I am going to attempt a new (semi) regular post.

I am going to post my “meal plans.” But I am not going to post what I plan to make, but rather what I made the previous week and why it worked/didn’t work mainly because my meal plan usually gets developed as I push my cart around the grocery store.

Sound okay?

Well here goes.

  • Day #1 Country Fried Steak with gravy, creamed spinach and roasted potatoes

I don’t really have a recipe for this one. I just make it like my mom does. If you need a recipe this one is pretty close.

I totally cheated by using frozen creamed spinach. The roasted potatoes were simply bite-sized potatoes with a little olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. Baked at 425 for 25 min.

  • Day #2 Steak Fajitas with grapes and baby carrots

I basically threw some onions and thin steak strips into a skillet with some store bought fajita mix.

Quick easy meal, but nothing to write home about. I forgot how much I dislike prepackaged seasoning mixes.

  • Day #3 Sriarcha Roast Chicken with grapes and romaine salad with Yum Yum dressing

We really liked this meal. It was incredibly easy, and I soaked the chicken in the brine the night before. Beware: this is probably too spicy for kids.

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I told my husband he would live a long time after eating this meal because it had so many preservatives. After all was said and done I really did NOT like this meal. It was so rich and cheesy that it actually made me feel ill, even though I reduced the cheese in the sauce. I will stick with my old mac and cheese recipe from now on.

I use this diced ham in so many things ( soups, quiche, pizza etc). The packages frequently goes BOGO at my local store. I always keep an extra package in the freezer.

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I make this on a regular basis using whatever veggies are on sale. It is really quick and so tasty.

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We love the rice noodles because they are great as a substitute for rice, but they are also great in soups. The noodles cook up SO FAST. I buy them at my local Publix. This one package will cover 2-3 meals for us.

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Recipe Review: Sriracha Roast Chicken with Sriracha Gravy

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I came across this recipe for Sriracha Roast Chicken Recipe with Sriracha Gravy on the White on Rice blog a couple months ago and have not been able to get it out of my mind since.

I like a roast chicken and all, but the thought of brining and then basting with Sriracha sounded too good to be true.

So I decided to give it a whirl last week.

And it was DELICIOUS!!

So good, spicy, juicy, and incredibly flavorful, as a good roast chicken should be.

It was kind of a cross between BBQ chicken and buffalo chicken wings.

I made a couple adjustments to the recipe because #1 I really don’t care for cooking whole chickens #2 I can’t just leave a recipe unchanged. It’s against my creative nature.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did, and don’t skip the overnight brining step. It’s SO worth it.

Sriracha Roast Chicken with Sriracha Gravy

adapted (slightly) from White on Rice

Ingredients:

  • 4 bone-in chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (use distilled white vinegar for gluten free)
  • 1/4 cup Sriracha (use less if you prefer less spice)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce (use Tamari for gluten free)

Gravy Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock, heated to a near simmer

Directions:

  • Rinse chicken and place in a large stock pot. Cover with a water and add salt and brown sugar. Cover and place in fridge for at least six hours or overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 425° F.
  • Remove chicken from brine and pat dry. Season the chicken with pepper.
  • Thoroughly mix the oil, ketchup, rice wine vinegar, Sriracha, brown sugar, and fish sauce in a bowl.
  • Baste the chicken with the Srirarcha mixture. Place chicken in a shallow baking dish and cover with foil.
  • Roast for 20 minutes. Remove foil and baste chicken again with sauce. Return chicken to oven, uncovered, and roast for another 25 minutes, or until juices are clear when you cut into the breast or the temperature in the thickest part of the breast reads 165°F when probed with a thermometer.
  • Remove the chicken breasts from the oven and allow to rest for at 15 minutes.
  • Pour the remaining  juices from the baking dish into a small saucepan. Add the remaining Sriracha mixture to the saucepan. Over medium/high heat, whisk in the flour. Whisk in the chicken stock and simmer until the gravy thickens, about 4 minutes.
  • Serve the chicken breasts with the Sriracha gravy.

 

  • Note: I think this recipe would also work great with boneless skinless chicken breasts, just reduce the cooking time by 5-10 minutes.

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Home Improvement: Doing Laundry While Trying Not To Fall Down The Stairs

 

 Over Labor Day weekend, we worked on getting our laundry area in shape. (yes I am just getting around to posting this)

In our opinion, the washer and dryer needed to be reversed because it was impossible to reach into the dryer because of that lovely half wall.

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This is one of the strangest things about our house. Our laundry area is in the stairwell.

And if you are not careful or get overly aggressive at fighting stains you can fall down the stairs. I have not done it yet. But I have come close twice.

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So Joe pulled both the washer and dryer out of the stairwell, and then went to Ace to get longer hoses and drains so we could switch the placement of the laundry appliances.

Try not to be overwhelmed with this gorgeous area of our home. And after this photo I cleaned like a crazy woman. 10 years worth of dust and lint was behind that dryer!

 

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Then we decided to add a cap to the half wall because #1 it does not looked finished and #2 the edges of the sheet rock had worn away and the metal edging was exposed.

And that edging is SHARP! I have torn many shirts as I tried to contort myself into strange positions to get to the back of the dryer.

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We went with a  6″ stain grade board. Not only does it looks much more finished.  but it also does not rip your clothes which is always a plus.

Doing laundry is bad enough, but ripping your clothes while doing laundry is just more than I can take.

I plan to stain/varnish the board, add some nice shelving and maybe a big piece of casual art to help make the area feel a bit cozier.

Wish me luck!

Easy Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls

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I made a huge batch of apple butter last week.

And as soon as I was finished, I thought this stuff needs to go in some cinnamon rolls.

So that is exactly what I did.

And if you don’t have homemade apple butter laying around, just use the store bought stuff.

Once the dough thawed, these rolls literally took me about about 10 minutes to make, then I let them rise overnight in the refrigerator.

Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 9 rolls

  • 1 lb thawed loaf of Bridgford White Bread Dough
  • 2 tbsp softened butter
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

On a lightly floured board, roll dough out to a 8 x 12 inch rectangle. Spread 2 tsp butter over the dough and then add the apple butter. Mix cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle mixture over dough. Beginning with 12-inch side, roll tightly in jelly-roll fashion. Cut rolled dough into 9 equal slices. Place slices in lightly buttered 8 in square or 9 in pie pan.  Cover and let rise until doubled in size (or overnight in the refrigerator).

Frosting (optional)

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 4 ounces, cream cheese
  • 1/2 pound powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

With an electric mixer whisk together all the frosting ingredients until smooth, then set aside.

Bake rolls at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until light brown. Cool slightly and then top with frosting.

PS. I use this frozen dough for all sorts of things including pizza crust and calzones. It’s so easy to work with!

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Monday Randomness: I’ve got nothing, so here are some pics

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Beach vacation last week.

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Huge batch of apple butter ( apple butter cinnamon roll recipe coming this week).

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Waiting at our regular Friday lunch spot.

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Rehearsal dinner for my husbands brother.

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Working out Sat am in preparation for all the wedding food:)
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Saturday evening wedding in downtown Greenville.
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Me and the best man.
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The happy couple during their first dance.
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Applebutter cinnamon rolls.
Happy Monday.

What I Am Listening To- Podcasts

I have never been a huge music person.

I took piano for 12 years and can still barely play.

I am not really into listening to music either, unless I am in a weird mood.

I like to listen to people talk though.

When I was a little kid I would just sit around at dinner and listen to the adults talk (I was a weird kid).

I consider it educational since my (self diagnosed) ADD takes over when I try to sit down to learn new things.

Anyway, podcasts are now my thing.

I listen to them when I work and when I clean cook.

There are two that I listen to regularly.

One is not really education unless you count the newest sale items at Nordstrom and SteinMart.

But I find it incredibly entertaining especially on slow days at work.

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Melanie Shankle (author of Sparkly Green Earrings and Antelope in My Living Room) and Sophie Hudson (author of A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet and Home is Where My People Are) host the BigBooCast.

After listening to these two ladies for so long, I feel like they are my friends even though we have never met.

And their conversation so remind me of conversations I have with my sisters, and sister-in-law.

I dare you not to laugh.

And the other is a podcast on small business/blogging/decor/entertaining/healthy lifestyle.

It’s well rounded, and I LOVE the people Jess chooses to interview on the JessLivelyShow.

(I don’t endorse all the religious views in the interviews)

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Go check them out, and let me know what you think.