Saturday, June 27, 2009

International Week

..........twirling into room...........

Sorry I've been an absent meal-planner. The last two weeks have been very busy - I had quick "sorta" meal plans scratched out - but nothing firm enough to post. But, I'm feeling pretty good about the coming week. I thought I was going to have to go to another school district everyday next week for training on the new software program for work, but I think I have convinced the trainers it would be better to come to our district where I have all my papers and information readily available.

That means I've decided on an "International Week".

Monday - I still have that hunk 'o tofu in my fridge and HoneyB's General Tso Tofu is still the recipe of choice for it. I literally just checked and the expiration date is TODAY. It is fate. ;)

Tuesday - I have some random leftover stuff in my freezer. I found a bag of refried beans (when I make a batch I make a BATCH and freeze them) - and then remember how much I have been wanting to make a mexican lasagna. For the Love of Cooking has a very easy and yummy looking variation. Plus my friend "Gem" makes the only spanish/mexican rice my kids like. Here is her recipe, I've never tried it too make it myself before - here is exactly how she told me to do it:

"all I use use tomato sauce, knorr swissa chicken bouillon, oil and rice.

you want to first heat up enough oil that you will be able to fry the rice until it start turning a golden brown. The rice needs to be washed before hand and place din the hot oil in order for each individual kernel to be coated in oil. You will have to stir for a while because it will try to stick. Then when the rice is golden brown or starting to turn golden brown to remove the excess oil and you put enough water to cover a little over the quantity of the rice. I put one 1/4 cup of tomato sauce and about 4 tps of chicken bouillon. Stir it all together and let it come to a boil then you reduce the heat to the second lowest setting on your stovetop. Once you don't see the water on top of the rice and you notice the rice starting to expand you remove the cover and let the rest of the water evaporate. When all the water has evaporated cover and turn the stove off and your ready to serve."

Sounds easy enough, huh? We'll see if the chickies approve of my efforts.

Wednesday - Continuing the theme - I found this Greek Shrimp over at Closet Cooking. It looks nice and light and diet friendly.

Thursday - Diet friendly on Wednesday is going to be the name of the game because now that little league is over, we are moving our Weight Watchers weigh-in night to Thursday! Of course, after we will go oink out like little piglets (heeheeeheee). I don't know where yet - maybe some where different if I can convince the chickies.

Friday - Since we are having international cuisine all week - something truly american-like in order don't ya think?!!? How about chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, and green beans. This is my "oven-fried" version of chicken fried steak:

Oven-Fried Chicken-Fried Steak
1 lb. round steak ("cube steak" is best) cut into 4 oz. serving pieces
1/3 c. flour
1 tsp. season salt
3/4 c. seasoned bread crumbs
2 egg whites, beaten
2 T. skim milk

Preheat over to 400. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. In a bowl stir together flour, season salt, and bread crumbs. In a separate bowl, beat together egg whites and skim milk. Coat meat in crumb mixture. Dip breaded meat into egg mixture, then re-dip into crumb mixture. Place breaded meat on prepared cookie sheet. Spray top of meat with cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn pieces over and spray top with cooking spray again. Bake an additional 11 minutes or until breading is crispy and golden brown.

4 servings

Saturday aka 4th of July - The ever fantastic party-hosting family of Mrs. S. and Big D are having their annual 4th of July bash. A fun time is sure to be had by all! It's a potluck and Mrs. S. wouldn't even give me a hint of what she needed and/or wanted - so I just went with 2 old standby's and one new try:

Ryan's Favorite Beans have become MY favorite beans too.

This Rice A Roni Salad is always very well received wherever I take it. I usually poach boneless chicken breasts in some herbs and chicken broth.

I dithered and dithered about my 3rd dish. Should I do a dessert? I'm not a super good baker - so I decided no.... somebody better and than I would definitely come through. How about a seven layer dip? So I decided no... not really original. (Even though super yummy!) The same with spinach dip. The I happened across this Smoky Chicken Spread and thought it sounded hearty put didn't have to be kept warm (like my other favorite option of Jalepeno Popper Dip from Big Red Kitchen - this needs to be made soon in my world - Jalepeno Poppers are my favorite deli treat!).

Sunday - I'm not going to plan anything for Sunday this week. I'm thinking we might have a fair amount of leftovers this week. If not we'll just have grilled boca burgers or grilled chicken. Something easy. :)

Everybody have a wonderful week and it's good to be back in meal-plan mode!

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Meal Planning Benefits

Okay, I'll admit it. I have always resisted meal planning. How in the world would I know what I wanted to eat a week from now? Would I be in the mood to make it? Would I have the ingredients? Then I'd use the best excuse of all "I don't have time".

So, back in January I started Weight Watchers (again!) and this time brought my mini-chickie, KK into the world of counting points. I struggled for awhile if it was the right thing to do on a lot of levels, but finally decided if nothing else knowledge is a good thing.

Right around the same time I was inspired by the magical multi-tasker Mrs. S. to make a meal plan.

Given that, I'd thought I'd share with you all the great benefits I'm finding from doing week meal planning. I also have to say, that I'm very fond of blogging about my meal plan - it keeps it where I know it is at, no piece of paper to lose!

1. I can manage my schedule. I can see if need to use the crockpot, plan on eating out, have events where I'm going to be eating high calorie and try to manage more low-calorie meals into the plan. Planning what you are going to eat is great weight loss tool.

2. I have all these great recipes I find all over the internet that I want to try, then when I want to make it who knows where I found it! Or I find it, bookmark it and never ever make it. Now, I'm inspired to actually get some of them made.

3. It helps tremendously on those nights when you are standing in front of the fridge at 6:00 pm trying to decide what sounds good (nothing that is in the fridge usually). Or that night where you just had a bad day at work, don't feel like anything but you know you have to do something ('cuz chickies have to be fed). It is tremendous stress relief not to have to figure out something on the fly.

4. I can make a better grocery list and stick to it. If I already have a plan, with recipes I make my grocery list from that. It stopped a lot of me wandering aimlessly, buying random things thinking "I'll make xxxx", buy one ingredient only to get home and find out I was actually out of 2 others essential for the recipe.

5. I like leftovers. Packing leftovers for lunch is totally good with me. It helps my wallet and my points.

I spend about 10-30 minutes a week on my meal plans - it varies depending on how many new recipes I am trying to incorporate. Also, I try not to get too hung up if something happens and something doesn't get made. Sometimes the chickies go to their dad's or go to friends and I might not make what I planned on making if we aren't all in attendance. There's always next week!

So, if you have been on the fence about meal-planning - I say jump in, the water is great!

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The Odd Week

I admit to not having given my new week meal plan as much thought as I usually do. My weekend was full of getting my car fixed, going to Mrs. S's daughter's graduation party, recovering from said party ;), and preparing KK for her two-night fieldtrip to Camp Casey on Whidbey Island.

That means SS and I are going to be alone for dinner on Monday & Tuesday nights, and SS is not as near as an adventurous eater as her big sis, she would be happy if I fed her spaghetti and meatballs 24/7. She is not a fan of BBQ sauce or gravy or cheesy potatoes (how in the world did I possibly give birth to this child!?!!?). LOL

So, with that in mind I figured I'd eat weirdly and let her have cup o'noodles, cereal, and just generally be a bad mom!

Monday - I bought some collard greens and mustard greens. I need to negate the need my car has had for the past week to wheel into places like Baskin and Robbins and Dairy Queen! I think I'll go with Kickin' Collard Greens. I made this once before a long time ago and compared to some recipes the amount of bacon is fairly small.

Tuesday - Little League! SS and I will have burgers at the ball field. Easy-peasy and she'll be happy camper-ette!

Wednesday - KK will be home and I'll probably make her shake 'n bake pork chops since the field trip has the reputation of having really bad meals - I'm hopin' she might have missed her momma's cooking and have some appreciation!

Thursday - More Little League and piano lessons. It's getting very close to SS's recital (uh... Saturday!) so we don't want to miss. We'll have that twenty minute window to eat in-between. I really liked enjoyed the Crockpot Chop Suey from the week of the crockpot. It also makes excellent leftovers, which are going to even more important so KK has good low-fat alternatives for lunch now that school is out and she is home!

Friday - sigh......... I'm so bad, bad, bad. I STILL HAVE NOT MADE ANY OF HONEYB's SHRIMP DISHES! I swear Spicy Shrimp is gonna be made!

Saturday - SS's piano recital! YEA! She has worked so hard - she has even memorized one of the songs. It makes me proud. I think we'll have steak and baked potatoes in honor of her tonight. :)

Sunday - I think I will go a lookin' and see if there is something lounging in the freezer that really needs to be eaten (chili or stew come to mind that might really need to take a hike).

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