The Sweetest Thing.

" I feel there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people" ~Van Gogh

Lunch. May 21, 2015

Filed under: Lunch,Meal Plan — Jessica @ 8:00 am
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After covering Breakfast last week, we are talking about Lunch today. Much like breakfast, I try to keep my lunch pretty healthy and hassle free. I actually pretty much never eat lunch at home. During the week I am working and we are on more of a brunch/snack/dinner schedule on the weekends. My lunch needs to be something that packs up easily, travels well and does not require a lot of fuss to be ready to eat. Tiff will often take dinner leftovers for lunch but it is not always my favorite. Once in a while they are a nice option but I often find them to be “too heavy” for a mid-work day meal.

When the weather is nice, I often take salads with a variety of toppings. When it is colder, I will take soup in a screw tight container (mason jars work well). More than actual recipes for lunches, I stick with a formula. I am always sure to have protein, fiber, a fruit and vegetable and a snack or treat.

The chart below shows some common choices in each category-

Protein chart

I pick something from each category and build my lunch like that. When I take salads or soup, several categories are combined into one. I often have more than one vegetable and protein packed in my lunch. I usually take too much food with me and don’t eat it all, but I would rather have some extra at the end of the day instead of being lured to the junk in the vending machines.

Next week- Snacks!

 

Weekly Meal Plan 5/18/15. May 18, 2015

Filed under: Meal Plan — Jessica @ 8:00 am
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Weekends get so much more exciting when the weather improves. I can appreciate a winter weekend on the couch watching Netflix, but I really love nice weather weekends so much more. There is just so much going on. Looking at my planner, every weekend through the end of July already has something fun penciled in. This past weekend was filled with volunteering, breakfast and catching up with a friend, an afternoon at the brewery, a matinee movie & ice cream cone sister date on Sunday afternoon, and getting myself ready for the week ahead. I will be doing a new “local adventures” post on my afternoon at the brewery later this week.

It’s going to be a busy week so we are keeping the menu simple.

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Monday- Leftovers

Tuesday- French Dip sandwiches, Carrot & Celery Sticks

Wednesday-Coconut Chicken Fingers , Sweet Potato Oven Fries

Thursday- We are going to Third Thursday and will either pack a picnic or pick up food somewhere, depending on time

Friday- Homemade Pizza

Saturday- Leftovers

Sunday- Chicken and Vegetable Kabobs on grill, Pasta Salad, Fresh Fruit

 

Weekly Meal Plan 5/11/15. May 11, 2015

Filed under: Meal Plan — Jessica @ 7:00 am
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It was such a lovely weekend~ full of celebration and people that I love. Friday was low key as usual. I ran a few errands after getting out of work early and spent the rest of the afternoon getting little things done around the house. Friday evening, I caught up on the Thursday night shows I like on Hulu and we were in bed by 11.

Saturday started early, for no real reason, but I enjoyed sitting on the couch and reading with the windows open while I drank my morning coffee. Later in the morning, my mom picked me up and we headed to my nephews ball game. They are brothers ages 4 & 6 and they play on the same team. It was the youngest ones first game ever and they were so darn cute. He was so excited every time he hit the ball that he would throw down the bat and run off the field to give us a high five! After the game, Tiff and I went out to lunch with a couple of friends and then came home and worked on some gardening tasks until it was time to get ready for date night!

For Tiff’s Birthday (which was Sunday), I bought us tickets to go see a magic show at the Reg Lenna. We were supposed to get dinner first but we were both still full from our late lunch and decided to postpone. We did get some ice cream from an adorable local shop featuring locally made ice cream right down town. The show was entertaining, but not the most spectacular thing ever, but we still had fun. We were finally ready for some food and I was ready for a glass of wine after the show. It was late, so our food options were limited and we headed to Applebee’s. We ordered a few appetizers and I had a glass of wine. It was a nice ending to a nice evening.

Sunday was Mother’s Day and Tiff’s birthday, but still pretty relaxed. I woke up early and read for awhile before Tiff woke up. When Tiff got out of the bed we went to get some donuts from a local bakery for a special birthday treat. We also went to the produce store down the street for some fresh basil and I left with a bag full of goodies~ gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, a pineapple and some asparagus to throw on the grill. After arriving home, I made a simple brunch of eggs, bacon and toast and then she headed over to her mama’s to celebrate. I spent the afternoon working on blog stuff, making some food for later, cleaning a little and relaxing before heading over to my mama’s for an evening cookout with the family.

A weekend full of the good stuff and I feel so blessed.

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Monday~ Lemon Pepper Grilled Chicken Drumsticks, Asparagus, Bruschetta

Tuesday~ Ginger Soy Pork Chops, Kale Pancakes, Jasmine Rice

Wednesday~ Maple Dijon Salmon, Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes

Thursday~ Veggie Loaded Meat Sauce (from the freezer) over pasta

Friday~ Crockpot BBQ pulled pork, Cole Slaw

Saturday~ Leftovers

Sunday~ Mushroom Stuffed Burgers, Baked Beans, Grilled Veggies (whatever needs to be used up)

 

Weekly Meal Plan 5/4/15. May 4, 2015

Filed under: Meal Plan — Jessica @ 8:00 am
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Happy Monday!

It was another fantastic weekend around here! The weather was beautiful and I found a good balance of productivity and relaxation. Friday night was pretty low key as usual. I worked until 7 pm and came home and relaxed with some magazines and hot tea for a while before watching the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy and heading to bed. (I still don’t quite believe McDreamy is gone 😦 )

I got an early start on Saturday and did some Spring cleaning. I washed curtains, windows inside and out, light fixtures, vacuumed out the couch and did my usual weekly cleaning too. Saturday night, we headed out for a date night. Tacos and Margaritas before checking out a performance of Reservoir Dogs at a local theater. It is one of Tiff’s favorite movies so we were pretty excited to see it adapted to a play. I will be posting a recap of that later this week.

Sunday started early too. My grandmother came over and brought me seed potatoes and onion sets and we caught up, since she has been in Florida all winter. After our visit, Tiff and I headed out for a major grocery shopping adventure! I made a video of our haul, actually several videos I hope to edit together. They are taking forever to upload, but I am hoping that I can get it to work and share our haul later this week. The rest of the day went to yard work, blog work and grilling out to round out the weekend.

This is Tiff’s Birthday week so many of the menu items are at her request. We have some fun plans this weekend and lots of work before then!

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Monday~ Homemade Club Subs, Fresh Fruit

Tuesday~ Loaded Nachos for Cinco De Mayo

Wednesday~ Chicken Sausage, Spinach and Feta Frittata, Fresh Fruit

Thursday~ Garlic Parmesan Tilapia, Broccoli Slaw

Friday~ Chicken Wing Dip (yes, we make this a meal when it happens), Tortillas Chips, Celery & Carrot Sticks

Saturday~ Dinner Out ~ Cuban!

Sunday~ (Mother’s Day plans are still up in the air so this might change) Grill Pizzas

 

Weekly Meal Plan 4/20/15. April 20, 2015

Filed under: Meal Plan — Jessica @ 4:13 pm
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We were blessed with another gorgeous weekend & we took full advantage! We did some yard work on Saturday & grilled up some burgers before I headed out for a movie date with my sister. Sunday was especially beautiful. We slept in until 7 (yes, that is sleeping in for us) and had a nice morning of conversation, relaxing and brunch. Once we cleaned up the kitchen, we headed outside to get started on our garden tasks. We built a raised bed & started some seeds. (More on that later this week) We had to take a break to run to Home Depot for more dirt & to Wegmans for a few essentials. Once home, Tiff filled the garden bed with dirt & I prepared food for our afternoon company.

We had some friends over for a late afternoon cookout. BBQ smothered organic chicken thighs & drumsticks and zucchini & red onion packets were thrown on the grill and served along side homemade potato salad. It was kind of a last minute decision, but things came together well. It was so nice to enjoy the backyard with friends. I even got a bit of a sunburn-which I know is no good- but it makes me so happy to have nicer weather again!

Anyways, the meal plan got a little jumbled last week but we did stick to making meals at home.

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Monday- Loaded Nachos

Tuesday- Mustard Panko Salmon, Brussels Sprouts & baked Sweet Potatoes

Wednesday- Roasted Chicken with Green Beans & Red potatoes

Thursday- Empanadas, Salad

Friday- We are going out to dinner with my family

Saturday- Leftovers

Sunday- Italian Sausage w/ onions, peppers & mushrooms on the grill, Fresh Fruit

 

Homemade Freezer Burritos. April 1, 2015

My darling partner ate a lot more processed food before we got together. She was not the most terrible eater by any means, but often relied on convenience items for quick lunches or late night dinners. Despite an aversion to tortillas, she really liked keeping a package of frozen burritos in the freezer for these occasions. After looking at the questionable ingredient list on the package of these burritos, I decided I could make my own version at home. These are quick to make and can be customized to fit your family’s tastes, but this is a general guideline. I most often make this version, but I have also mixed in leftover taco meat (turkey, pork or ground beef), extra veggies etc.

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Homemade Freezer Burritos

makes 8 burritos

Ingredients

8 Tortillas (I try to get ones with minimal ingredients- flour, salt, water and oil is pretty much all it takes)

1.5 cups (or 1 can) refried beans

1 cup salsa

1 boneless skinless chicken breast- cooked & shredded

6 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese- shredded

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1. Make sure tortillas are at room temperature so they roll easily without tearing.

2. Mix beans, salsa, and shredded chicken together

3. Divide mixture evenly between tortillas and spread down the middle of each

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4. Divide cheese evenly between tortillas and sprinkle on bean mixture

5. Roll as pictured below.

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6. Place each burrito in individual sandwich bag & then put all burritos in gallon freezer bag. This makes them easy to just grab from the freezer and toss in a lunch bag.

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7. Place gallon bag in freezer.

8. Reheat in microwave 1-2 minutes depending on how frozen it is and how your microwave works.

9. Top with additional salsa, sour cream/greek yogurt, guacamole etc

10. Enjoy!

*if using gluten free tortillas, Aldi brand are the best I have found so far!

 

Favorite Recipe Resources- Websites. March 31, 2015

Filed under: Meal Plan — Jessica @ 9:14 am
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This is kind of my March version of the “monthly cookbook post” I started in January (and then skipped in February when we kind of totally avoided cooking at home pretty much all month). As much as I love cookbooks, sometimes my meal planning is done on the go and I use the internet to collect recipes for the month because I can do it anywhere I have a few free minutes.  This was most definitely the case for March. I usually just bookmark or “pin” the recipes I want to use in a designated folder/board and they are quick to access when I need them. Occasionally, I will print out a recipe if we really really like it and want to use it again.

Blogs are a great resource for recipes but I am going to share my favorite blogs for such things in another post. Today, I am just talking about good old fashioned websites. These are the websites I go to again and again when I need a dinner idea or if I kind of have something in mind but need to figure out how to make it happen.

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1) Food 52– This website is a relatively new discovery for me. It kept coming up in my Facebook newsfeed and I finally checked it out. Beautiful photographs, easy navigation and a focus on real food quickly made it a favorite. There are plenty of tips and tutorials for beginning cooks and enough variety and complexity in the recipes to keep even the most seasoned cook interested. This is not the website for you if cooking on a budget is your main concern but still worth checking out for special occasion meals or inspiration.

2) The Bettter Homes and Gardens website is a great resource for recipes. They cover everything from quick budget meals to dinner parties. Most recipes are focused on getting good food on the table without a ton of fuss for busy lifestyles. I especially love their crock pot recipes because they are not drowned in “cream of” soups and boxes of stuffing mix. Processed food ingredients are very minimal. They have a great dessert collection too!

3) My Recipes is a long time favorite of mine. I know that this is where you can find all of the Cooking Light magazine recipes and from my understanding, it is also where you can find the recipes from several magazines like All You, Food & Wine, Real Simple, Sunset and Southern Living. You can search by ingredient to use up some obscure item in your fridge nearing it’s expiration, save recipes in your very own “recipe box” and it will even make grocery lists for you. They have a new “meal planning” feature but i haven’t really checked it out yet. I love Cooking Light magazine because of it’s focus on healthy real foods and this website is full of those recipes.

4) Food Network seems like an obvious place to go for recipes for most people I suppose. Truthfully, I ususally only use this site when I am looking up a specific recipe I have seen on one of their shows. Giada is a favorite of mine. It is totally worth a visit though. They often feature seasonal recipe collections and many recipes feature detailed reviews to help you avoid mistakes others have already made.

5) Allrecipes was one of the first online recipe collections I discovered. I used to be obsessed with looking at recipes on this site. I don’t use it as much anymore but I still rely on it for some tried and true recipes or anytime I am looking for a recipe for something my Grandma used to make. Anyone can submit recipes on this site. They are not reviewed or tested before being posted so results can be pretty hit or miss if you are a new cook. You can generally find a variety of recipes for just about anything. These are recipes written by real people in normal kitchens with normal budgets, equipment and schedules. My favorite part is reading the little recipe introductions about the traditions, stories and inspiration that the author associates with the recipe.

6)101 Cookbooks is another beautiful website focusing on real food. When I first discovered food 52, I immediately thought of this site. Beautiful photography, simple ingredients and a true love of food make this site inspiring. I believe it may have started as more of a blog but has shifted towards more of a website. You can search by ingredient, season or type of recipe/meal. I love the simplicity of their recipes. My favorite recipes use minimal, quality ingredients that can all shine through and I find that in a lot of recipes on this site.

7) Pinterest is kind of a no brainer, but I had to include it because it is a favorite. I am sure most of you are familiar with the way it works but I love that you can find such a huge variety of ideas from across the internet all in one place. Follow me here.

8) This is kind of cheating since it is a blog, but my very own website right here has become a great resource for me. I love that I have finally written down many of our favorite stand by recipes and I can access them in one place.

These are the sites I use most regularly for recipe research and meal planning. What are some of your favorite online resources for recipes?