Monday, June 28, 2010

Menu Plan 6/28

Time for a new menu!! This week we're having BBQ meatballs, Pioneer Woman Style! They are super yummy! I'm going to try them in the crock pot after I brown them, so I don't have to heat up the oven. I'm going to use her recipe for BBQ sauce but tweak it to make it more healthy (honey in place of the white sugar, using no HFCS ketchup). I also just saw this recipe and must find a place for it on my menu! I love cooked spinach. Ok, back to the meatballs! As you all have read, Luke is a picky eater! He rarely eats any meat/protein at all! He will eat chicken nuggets and peanut butter. And most recently he's started eating these chicken skewers. Well, Friday night I made meatball subs. I made large meatballs for the marinara sauce and I made some smaller meatballs to bake off in the oven for the boys. Well, mainly for Eli. He loves meatballs! Well, to make a long story short. Luke wanted Buzz Lightyear to eat dinner with us. Well, Buzz loves meatballs. Buzz even took a bite of one! So, Luke tried them too! And while he only ate two, he really liked them! I seriously think that is the first time he's eaten beef! I think Buzz might be joining us for more meals! And since meatballs were a hit, we might be having them a lot! And it's an easy food to make in large batches and they freeze for quick lunches, too! So, here's the menu:

BBQ Meatballs, Green Beans, Mashed Potatoes

Grilled Pork Chops, Squash (how should I cook it this week?), Sauteed Spinach w/ Garlic

Scrambled Eggs, Hash browns, Fruit

Ranch Chicken Veggie Pasta Salad

Chicken Enchiladas, Rice and Beans

I'm not sure what we're doing for the Fourth yet, but this menus will get us to the weekend! Have a great week!

Check out for great menu planning.

Check out Mindful Menus for real food menus and meal ideas!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Menu Plan Tuesday... just doesn't sound right!

Yep, it's a day late. I need to get back into the swing of making my menus on Sunday nights!! Our weekends here lately have been so busy that it's Monday evening before I get around to doing it! Here we go:

Grilled Pizza's- Cheese for the picky's and feta and spinach for me (Didn't have these last week! The night I had planned for it, it stormed! Oh well!)

Meatball Subs, Baked Parmesan Squash

Pork Chops, Green Beans, Fried Potatoes

Italian Beef Stew, Whole Wheat Biscuits (Yes, I know this isn't a summer dish. But we've got lots of left over beef from Italian Roast Wraps. And who says you can't have beef stew in the summer time?)

Chicken Pasta Salad (w/ Green Peas), Broccoli with Homemade Ranch Dressing

Chicken Salad Sandwiches, Fresh Fruit

This weeks menu features my dad's fresh broccoli, green beans and squash from his garden! I'm also making some zucchini muffins for snacks with his fresh zucchini and an apple crisp with apples from their apple trees! YUM! I LOVE fresh, real food!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Homemade Refrigerator Pickles

I created this recipe after finding a few online. You can make it simple or add extra ingredients to it. I've made 2 jars for us to eat and 2 for my parents! They are yummy!

Homemade Refrigerator Pickles (basic recipe)

2 medium size cucumbers, sliced
1 cup white distilled vinegar
1 TBS salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 clove garlic, minced

In boiler add vinegar, salt and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve, every few minutes. Keep covered! And always lift the lid away from your face! Boiling vinegar is STRONG! In the mean time slice your cucumbers and place in a heat safe bowl. Add garlic to cucumbers and stir. After the vinegar mix boils for a few minutes (5-10) and everything is dissolved, remove from heat and carefully pour over cucumbers. Stir the vinegar mix with the cucumbers for a few minutes to coat. Pack cucumbers into a pint size jar and fill with vinegar juice. Refrigerate, will keep for 2 weeks. (probably more, because of the vinegar and salt but they probably won't last that long!) These are great right after you make them but the flavor developes as they sit in the fridge.

Add ins (you would mix these in with your cucumbers before pouring the hot liquid in):
Sliced Vidalia Onion (really good, think Top 'O The River)
1 tsp of crushed red pepper (or more)
1 tsp mustard seed

You can also add more sugar if you like your pickles sweeter! It's a great recipe! I doubled the recipe for a quart size jar but had a little extra that wouldn't fit in the jar! I have made them with the basic recipe and with all of the add ins. The second wasn't as hot as I would like them, so I'm wondering if adding some hot peppers would be good? I might try it with jalepenos. This recipe is really flexible! Enjoy!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Friday's Food for Thought

So, you may have noticed recently that I've been talking a little more about real foods, butter, whole milk, coconut oil... So, I thought I'd just share a little bit about what got me thinking about all of this and where I am now (below I'm listing some really good links):

First of all, I have a deep desire to feed my family well. I am a mother and a wife and it's my responsibility to cook for them and feed them. The more I desire to do well in that area, the more I research and learn about what foods are best. I'm so thankful for the vast amount of information that is available on the internet. From my research I've learned that fats, particular saturated fats, aren't bad for you. In fact they are actually GOOD for you! Healthy! The fat in butter, whole dairy(milk, cheese), coconut oil, eggs, and cold pressed extra virgin olive oil are good for you! I'm learning how to use each of them properly (did you know frying in olive oil at high temps can cause carcinogens!?). I've learned that staying away from processed foods can help you save money, thus allowing money to afford those items above from better sources (Wright's Dairy! Yum!). I've learned that while it may take a little extra time to make something from scratch, than to open a box and 'prepare', knowing I'm doing my family good makes it worth it! I am convinced that cancer, heart disease, diabetes, ect are so directly a result of our horrible eating habits. I'm convinced the chemicals used on produce and in our foods, the BPA used to package our foods, the hormones packed in our meats and dairy, the cheapo grains our animals are being fed... and on and on... are killing us. And while I can't change everything (especially considering the limited grocery stores... hello, why can't I buy organic produce ANYWHERE?), I can do my best. And I can feel good about it. So, I'm doing my best to feed my family real food. Something I read recently said you know it's real food if it doesn't come with a bar code on it! So, let me summarize a few of the changes we have and haven't made:

Changes we've made:

Drinking whole milk only, especially the boys. The boys only drink Wright's Dairy Whole Milk. We do still get WIC and I am praying about canceling it. I think it's a great service to low income families and we have benefited from it. But after all of the research I've done, I really think we should all be drinking whole milk. I don't want to waste the 2% that we still get on WIC so the Hubs and I drink what we get, or I cook with it when I know it's going to be broken down in baked goods anyways.

Eating mostly farm eggs. We get our eggs either from the dairy or my MIL picks up farm eggs from a farmer near by. Eggs are so very good for you! Yes, even the yolk!!

Buying grass fed, locally farmed beef. Currently we get, when we can afford it, Wright Dairy beef. It is more expensive but I know it's SO much better for us! The fats in grass fed beef are easier for our bodies to process and use than from the grains and whatever else they feed those other cows to get them to fatten up and grow quicker for mass production. Ew. Anyway, we buy it when we can, maybe 2 lbs per month. I'm so thankful it's available! And I feel so good when I'm feeding my family tacos or hamburgers from that meat. As far as other meat, there aren't many other options. Sigh.

Buying local dairy, butter and cheeses. (also from Wrights Dairy!) Their butter is soo good! It comes in a huge roll and I just cut it into 4 pieces, wrap 3 pieces in foil, then in a freezer bag and chunk in the freezer. The other goes into the fridge. We also buy their block cheese when we can. We do get cheese on WIC still so we only get dairy cheese when we have a need for extra cheese. I do buy the dairy's whole milk buttermilk on occasion too. It comes in a gallon size only, so I buy it when I know I'm going to be needing a lot of buttermilk!

Limiting packaged, processed foods. Our mashed potatoes come from potatoes, not a box! ;) But I do still buy some packaged foods.. like some cereals, mainly Cheerios and Frosted Mini Wheat. We do get bread on WIC. I'm not sure I'll ever be good at bread making!

Make more snack foods from scratch. I've been experimenting with making granola bars, crackers, cookies, breakfast items, ect for us to snack on. This saves money and gets rid all of this 'question mark' ingredients in the ingredient list. I get to choose what goes in the snacks we eat. I do still buy some snack foods, for instance the boys have been finishing up the Goldfish crackers left over from Luke's party. I also buy granola bars and will continue until I find a recipe I'm satisfied with. I buy Yoplait yogurt. The dairy does sell yogurt but I've yet to try it on the kiddos. They sell it in gallon jugs, and that just seems like a lot. Maybe we'll try it soon! I know some people who make their own yogurt. Hmm. I'd rather just buy it at this point! I also buy 100 calorie pack cookies, ect for myself and the boys as treats. And they still get candy every now and then. There are other things that I buy every now and then that I'm just not thinking of but these are the things that I still buy most often.

And yes, I still buy my Diet Coke! Ahh.. right now, it's for my sanity. Maybe one day I'll give it up!

There are so many things I'd like to change, but it takes small steps. I think I could just throw my hands up and say, it's just food!! I mean, does it really matter!? But it's not just food. It's taking care of my family. And when presented with facts about what is best, it's our responsibility as Mom's (parents) to use that info for the benefit of the people we love (that goes for other things.... like car seats as well!). Now, don't go thinking I won't eat me a burger and fries every now and then.. or a Sonic Milkshake (mm.. I've been craving one!). I never said I was perfect and I don't plan on perfection this side of heaven. ;) I'm just trying to create a healthy relationship with food. I'm in agreement with some things in moderation, but I'm really just trying to eat real food. Another article I read said to go by the 80/20 rule. Eat healthy 80% of the time and don't worry too much about the other 20%. And although I know we're not at 80%, we're adding healthy habits slowly and I'm praying about it as we go.

Wanna know what I've been reading on the subject?

5 Fats You Must Have in Your Kitchen

Healthy Fats and Oils - a HUGE list of great articles on healthy fats.. even ones that cover "Does fat make you fat?"

Oh and by the way.. about fat... particularly losing it, here is my weekly Shred update!

Squash Patties

Do you have squash coming out of your ears? If you have a garden and planted squash, you probably do. While I don't have a garden, my daddy does and he has lots of squash and zucchini. So, here is a good, healthy recipe to help you use up that yummy squash!

Squash Patties
2 cups yellow squash or zucchini (or combo of both), grated
1 small onion, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 egg lightly beating
3/4 tsp salt
pepper (optional, I just added a sprinkling)
Olive oil for frying
After I grate my veggies, I put them in a colander and mash down to get rid of some liquid. Add all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Heat enough oil to coat the bottom of a pan on med heat. Take a TBS of mixture and spoon into the hot pan. It doesn't spread like a pancake so you need to flatten out the batter as soon as you put it in the pan, like a mini pancake. Let cook for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown then flip and brown on other side. Drain on paper towels, to remove excess oil. Yummy!
I came up with this recipe after looking at several. One had shredded cheese added to the batter, which I might try next time! I'm not sure how many this makes but it makes more than we can eat at one sitting!

This post is linked to Comfy In The Kitchen!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Thank You Dora and Diego!

Yesterday, we took Eli to have a place looked at on his leg. It's a sunken in place about the size of a nickle. I, of course, started freaking out, thinking the worst (and doing too much reading on the internet!)! Well, to make a long story short, Dr. C told me that what it is is called fat atrophy. It can happen from multiple injection in one place or from a steroid injection. And while it's not common, it does happen more than you would think. More than likely Eli's was caused by the steroid (decadron) shot that he got roughly 2 months ago when he had bronchitis. A side effect of steroid injections is fat atrophy. And since the time between when he got the shot to when I noticed the place was only about 3 weeks, it makes perfect sense. I've read that some fat atrophy's are permanent but most resolve themselves in a few months (which is what Dr C told us, 2-3 months). The only thing that we have to do is make sure that if he gets sick and needs an injection that he gets it in the other leg. I just love Dr C, he looked right at me and said, "I know when you notice something like this all kinds of things go through your head... but trust me, this is what it is." And he just rubbed Eli's head and kept saying, "I just love this little boy!" I feel truly blessed to have a pediatrician like him.

Now, on to the funny part! Luke went with us to the Dr's office. It's good for him to be at the Dr when it's not 'his turn' sometimes. Well, Dr C had an arm brace/sling on his right arm. Luke didn't say anything about it yesterday but today at lunch he said,

"Dr. C had a hurt arm yesterday and that thing on it."
Me: "He sure did. It was a special sling to keep him from moving his arm too much so it can heal."
Luke: "Oh. I know why he hurt his arm. It's because he's old!" (he's in his 50s)
Me: (laugh)
Luke: "And you know what? I think Dr C speaks some kind of Spanish."
Me: "You're right, Dr C does speak Spanish! Good job, Luke!"

And just from his accent Luke detected that! He's never spoken Spanish to us.. of course, because we couldn't understand him! So, thanks Dora and Diego!

Monday, June 14, 2010

It's Monday again? (recipe below)

Well, I guess it is!! Tonight we're eating at my Mom's. Yay! Ham, green beans, squash and zucchini.. all yummy stuff from my Dad's garden.. well, minus the ham. Here's what we're eating the rest of the week (the first two are repeats b/c we had dinner w/ my parents one night and then an impromptu pizza night):

Turkey Burgers, Fried Squash (battered like this), Carrots with Homemade Ranch Dressing

Pasta w/ Chicken and Green Beans, Salad

Grilled Pizza (Martha recipe)... I'm thinking feta and spinach for me.. cheese for the picky's!

BBQ Sandwiches, Homemade Refrigerator Pickles, Green Beans, Fruit

Italian Roast Wraps, Potatoes sauteed with Onions and Garlic (I use olive oil, safflower oil and coconut oil)

5 meals + dinner at Mom's= enough food for the week! :)

I'm making homemade refrigerator pickles today with cucumbers from my Dad's garden! I'll let you know how they turn out and share the recipe later!

I thought I'd share this easy chicken recipe with you! It's really good and the kids love it!

Teriyaki Chicken Skewers (modified from this recipe)

2-3 Large Chicken Breast
1 TBSP Coconut Oil
1 TBSP Low Sodium Soy Sauce
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

Cut chicken breast into strips (about 6 per breast). Place into bowl. Melt coconut oil and soy sauce together in pan on low or in microwave (carefully!). Add garlic and red pepper flakes to bowl and whisk together. (I add a little black pepper to mine but I omit the red pepper flakes for the boys.) Pour over chicken and toss with tongs. Let sit for about 15-20 minutes, covered. The coconut oil will probably solidify because the chicken is cold, but it's okay. Most of it will stick to the chicken! Thread chicken onto skewers length wise. Cook chicken on grill or grill pan, 2-3 minutes per side (more or less, depending on the thickness of your chicken strips and how hot your grill is) until cooked through. Yum!

Check out these two great places for menu ideas:

Mindful Menus ~ Great place for REAL food menu ideas. ~ tons of blogs to look through for great recipes and menus!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Link Up!

I thought I'd share a few links with you on this HOT as hades Friday! Seriously, turn on the AC and just relax today. Or, if you have a pool, go to jump in. Otherwise, don't even go outside. Ninety-four degrees in the shade. Yep, it's summer time in Alabama.

1. Speaking of summertime... it's time for some fun summertime parties. I haven't shared anything about Luke's big day but I will save that for a post all in itself. If you're looking for a yummy summer dessert that is healthy for you, check out this recipe for Healthy Strawberry Shortcake. I haven't tried it yet but I'm definitely going to! (ie, healthy in my book = natural sugars, real fat milk/butter/eggs, whole grains)

2. Check out my Baby Weight blog to see how I did this week with my 30 Day Shred in 60 Days.
3. Most of you know about sweet Cassidy who was in a horrible 4 wheeler wreck a few weeks ago. I keep everyone updated on Facebook about her progress and how we can pray specifically for her. But I also wanted to share her Caring Bridge site. You can read all of the recent updates in her journal, see pictures of her beautiful face and read/sign her guestbook. If you're someone who has been praying for her, I encourage you to sign the guestbook and let the family know you are praying. I know they would love to hear of those who are praying for their daughter, even those who don't know them personally and be so encouraged by it. You do have to create a Caring Bridge account but it's as easy as entering your email address and creating a password. Her site is:

And for those of you out there who don't know about this story, please add Cassidy to your prayer list! I know God is working a miracle!

4. Something you may not know about me: I am super passionate about car seats and car seat safety! So when I read this article, I was THRILLED! I have been convinced for some time that rear facing your children in their car seat until they reach the height and weight limit is safest. I have read studies and articles... watched videos and crash tests. I was hands down sure that rear facing for as long as you can is best and safest for your children. When I read this article and saw that, "The American Academy of Pediatrics and many child-passenger safety advocates have expanded their recommendations to suggest that infants and young children remain rear-facing up to the maximum height or weight limits of their car seats", I was like, FINALLY! I've heard so many pediatricians say it's ok and even advise parents that their patients be turned around a one year and 20 lbs (AL Law). I just cringe when I hear that. It's legal to smoke at 19 too, but I don't think it's a good idea to go out and by your teenager a pack of smokes on their 19th birthday. Eli's car seat rear faces up to 35 lbs, so we have a while.. I mean like probably until he's 3! Luke didn't pass 35 pounds until after he turned 3! But you do have to make sure that the car seat fits properly at the shoulders, too. There are so many things we, as parents, can't prevent. But we can do what we can, when presented with valuable, correct advice to keep our children safe as possible. I don't consider it being over-protective, when there is legitimate evidence stating (not to mention the new AAP recommendation) that your child is safest in a crash rear facing. So, keep those babies rear facing.. and if you've turned them forward facing but they are under the RF requirements... turn them back. It doesn't take long! I just want your babies to be safe!

5. Ladies, if you have ever had anything waxed you know how painful it can be. I found this video from a link the other night and laughed until I cried. It is so funny! This is one brave woman to actually do this on video. Her face is hilarious! And she should have read the instructions first!!! If you need a laugh go watch it!

Have a good weekend!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Menu Plan for 6/7/10

It's Monday! And I've been racking my brain all day long trying to come up with a menu for the week. Because of the birthday weekend, my food intake was.. eh, not so good. And honestly I have felt it. I've just felt yucky and sluggish! So, this week I'm aiming to do better. Right after I eat that last cupcake after dinner.... ;)

I'm also still on track with my 30 Day Shred in 60 Days. Granted it's only Day 6. But that's almost a week, right?

So, here is what I've come up with:

Teriyaki Chicken Skewers, Sauteed Squash and Zucchini, Brown Rice

Pasta with Green Beans and Chicken, Green Salad

Tuna Melts, Cucumber Salad

Tex-Mex Turkey Burgers, Potato Salad, Broccoli w/ Homemade Ranch Dip

Beef and Black Bean Burritos, Corn

Pancakes, Fruit

All righty! That sounds pretty good! Six meals, one night for leftovers... NO EATING OUT! :) I'm also making banana muffins (using this recipe but baking them in muffin tins and not icing them) for some quick, healthy breakfasts! It's really hot to be baking but I'm going to try to get them done tonight, since today hasn't been too bad!

Check out for more recipes and menu ideas! And this is my second week linking up with Mindful Menus. It's a great resource if you're looking for real food menu ideas!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

30 Day Shred in 60 Days!

Well, it's time to get back on the saddle. Bahaha. I never say things like that but when I start to write a blog post all of those types of sayings come to mind. Seriously though, I have not exercised in TWO MONTHS! What in the world? The boys and I got sick and I just never got back into the routine. And although I haven't gained any weight, I just feel yuck. So, yesterday I started back doing the Shred. Instead of taking up space here I'm going to be doing a 2 month challenge over at my other blog. So, see you there:

Baby Weight