Sunday, January 25, 2015

Menu Plan: Week of January 26

Monday - I had originally planned pan-fried Rodrigo-style fish with salads and quesadillas, but Sonny D reminded me I had promised him a salmon scramble this weekend.  We probably don't want fish too often this week, so I'm not sure when we're going to have the Rodrigo fish, but I bought some fresh ingredients for it so it'll have to be soon or I'll have to find another way to use those ingredients.  I've also got the ingredients for a fennel salad/slaw, so I need to make that as well.  I don't have a real plan for when we'll eat it, I figure we'll just pull it out for lunches and dinners until it's gone.

Tuesday - Husband Jeff's parents pick up Sonny D from preschool on Tuesdays and I don't make dinner since I've got Zumba class in the evening.  For dinner on these nights I usually eat two pieces of sprouted-grain toast with almond butter and orange marmalade, light but enough protein to give me energy for class.  I'm trying to convince Jeff to come with me to Zumba class every Tuesday in February, not sure I've won him over on that, but I think it would be fun.

Wednesday - We're going to make individual thin-crust pepperoni pizzas on tortillas because we have an abundance of tortillas leftover from the Pampered Chef party I hosted last week.  Small tortillas were only offered 20-24 per pack, so we still have a lot to eat, that's why I had planned we would have quesadilllas on Monday.  Maybe I can still make that happen with the salmon scramble.  

Thursday - On Martin Luther King Jr. Day my friend Heather came over and we prepped some more meals, this time two slow cooker meals and two pressure cooker meals.   I'm going to make the slow cooker Moroccan butternut squash dish that Heather whipped up based on a similar dish.  I have a feeling Sonny D won't be excited about that, so I'm quietly planning to make him fish sticks as well.

Friday - I want to finally try out my julienne peeler to make zucchini noodles.  I figure I'll saute the "noodles" with some garlic and onion to give them flavor.  I figured I would give the guys real noodles while I tried the faux version, we're going to have it as spaghetti with frozen meatballs and a jar of marinara sauce.  We've got a bunch of petite hamburger buns in the freezer from a summer party so I'm going to turn those into garlic bread before they get even more freezer-burnt.

Saturday - I've got Core Fusion class in the morning but we don't have any other plans for the whole day.  

Sunday - Lentil soup and feta-stuffed Greek lamb burgers.  Husband Jeff says he's not into lentil soup like I am, so the burgers are mainly to satisfy him.  I need to pick up some plain Greek yogurt to make a sauce to go with them.  

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Menu Plan: Week of December 29 - Soup Week!

This Week

I decided that this week would be soup week at our house.  I picked up three soup cookbooks from the library and they've really inspired me.  Although I have to admit, I don't think any of the soups I've picked out come from any of those cookbooks. 

  • Monday - our friend Chuck is coming over for vegetarian buffalo-wing chili with toasted pita bread and salads.  I figure the soup is going to be too spicy for Sonny D so I'm going to make him some fish sticks.
  • Tuesday - our friend Buddha might come over for chicken parmesan soup with garlic bread and roasted butternut squash with feta cheese.
  • Wednesday - I invited Husband Jeff's parents over for New Year's Eve dinner of creamy fish chowder,  a bag of frozen Szechuan asparagus, and rice.
  • Thursday - red chili with green-chile cornbread (a box of Jiffy mix!)
  • Friday - my friend Heather is joining us for Santa Fe sweet potato soup made in the slow cooker along with lemon-pepper risotto and a can of corn.  I'm also going to attempt to make some more vegan cheese, maybe the same cashew goat cheese recipe as last time or maybe try my hand at something new. 
  • Saturday -  This is where my plan falls apart, I don't have a soup picked out for Saturday.  We'll probably have lots of leftovers to eat or maybe be sick of soups by this point.  We'll definitely be able to find something to eat, maybe melt sandwiches or a bag of frozen gnocchi.
  •  Sunday - Another day without any planned meals.  Once again, we'll figure something out.  Maybe we'll have a meal out somewhere or eat more random food like grilled peanut butter sandwiches or pancakes. 

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Menu Plan: Week of December 15

Last Week

Soaked cashews.
My friend Heather is dairy-free and so when I saw a few recipes to make "cheese" using nuts, I sent her the link.  And then I totally became interested in trying it myself.  They had good reviews so I would make a couple.  So I picked up cashews and almonds to give it a shot.  I've got cashews soaking in water overnight to make the first recipe, pepper-crusted cashew goat cheese.
Processing the  soaked cashews with lemon juice, salt, oil,
and a touch of peanut butter (I'm out of tahini).

This is the year of booze for me.  

On Saturday at Core Fusion class our talk was of Christmas cookies and someone mentioned rum balls.  I've never tried them before (that I know of), so after class i looked them up.  Then we went out to run errands and I picked up the ingredients that I needed to make them (Nilla wafers and spiced rum).   Sonny D and I mixed up the "batter" tonight and it needs to rest for a few days to fully saturate. I had to taste it right away to see how it progresses, I can see how they will be really good.  On Tuesday we'll scoop them up into balls and roll them in something to finish them off.  Right now I'm leaning towards chocolate sprinkles, but we might also try a blend of cocoa powder and sugar.  Or maybe just powdered sugar for a "snowball" look.

So these plus the brandy-soaked cherries still hanging out in my pantry, the jalapeno-infused tequila, spearmint vodka, and chocolate-mint vodka makes this year very liquor/booze-filled.  
Making rum balls.  Tasty!

I'm still working out most days of the week.  I lift weights on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; Zumba on Tuesday; elliptical workout at home on Thursday, and Core Fusion on Saturday morning.  The only day I don't work out is Sunday.
Flexing at the top of the chin-up/dip machine. 

On Sunday my friend Heather and I went to a gluten-free (and dairy-free) holiday baking class at Willy St Co-op. Everything we had was so good!  We were both impressed.  And it wasn't just "good for gluten-free", they were good desserts without any qualifiers.  My favorite part might have been the sweet potato frosting on a cupcake or the peppermint chocolate truffles. 
Heather with her apple cupcake, a peppermint chocolate truffle, and granola balls.

This Week

  • Monday - baked potato soup with salads.  The soup is going to have hidden cauliflower pureed in it for creaminess. 
  • Tuesday - leftover baked potato soup with salads then Zumba
  • Wednesday - dinner at Graze with one of Husband Jeff's colleagues and his wife
  • Thursday - going to our friends' house and I'm bringing a slow cooker dinner, sage & onion chicken with cranberry rice. 
  • Friday - going out to dinner with our Breakfast Club at Short Stack, a breakfast place that is only open on the weekends.
  • Saturday - I've got Core Fusion class in the morning, maybe we'll go to the Kids in the Rotunda performance to see a drumming group.  In the evening we're going to a friend's holiday open house.  For dinner we'll have BBQ pork sandwiches with a veggie
  • Sunday - enchilada skillet with homemade black beans.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Menu Plan: Week of December 8

Last Week

Last week's menu was changed almost as soon as I came up with it, so that's why I didn't blog about it. so here's a rundown of things that have happened recently. 

I'm loving Swad Indian restaurant.  We went to their buffet last Saturday and I totally loved it.  I'm trying to see if we can go again this week and have recommended it a few times.  A coworker says her family goes pretty much every weekend since they live nearby. 

I'm glad I tried O'Keefe's Working Hands hand cream.  I saw it promoted at Bed, Bath & Beyond and they almost talked me into getting it but I've already got three lotions on my nightstand.  Then I went home and looked it up and saw the 2,000+ positive reviews on Amazon and realized it was a good product to try. I've tried tons of hand lotions for my dry hands and this one is great.  We both put it on every night. 

I got obsessed with trying fruitcake and found Clasen's European Bakery in town that makes them.  I had Husband Jeff pick up a 1 pound loaf and I found that I really like it.  I was a bit disappointed to see that they use neon candied fruit in it, but it's still tasty.

At taste training last week we learned about herbs and spices -- black pepper, garlic, fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, sage, etc.

We went out for a Breakfast Club "meeting" at the Mermaid Cafe and we all got great breakfast sandwiches.  Their mermaid tail logo is really cute, I would love one of their mugs. 

My Japanese fried Chie and I went shopping at Viet Hoa Asian market.  She lives on the same side of town but has never been there.  She found loads of great things and we spent over 1.5 hours chatting about products.  I'm glad I showed it to her.  She said she has gone all the way to Chicago to get some of the ingredients we were finding right here.

This Week

  • Monday -  completely homemade black bean soup.  I made the stock this morning from leftover pork bones and veggies, started with dried beans, and put it all together in the slow cooker.  I made rice in the rice cooker and picked up some "take and bake" bread (you're not really baking it, you're just heating it up) to go with it.
  • Tuesday - leftover black bean soup.  We're going to watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer since Sonny D loves the song. 
  • Wednesday - Grandma & Grandpa are going to pick up Sonny D from preschool but then we're going to have dinner together.  I'd like to have dinner at the Indian place Swad, but I am open to other options. 
  • Thursday - I work in the afternoon so I figuring a slow cooker meal would be good.  I picked out Moroccan chicken tagine that my friend Heather and I prepped a few weeks ago. 
  • Friday - I work most of the day and figured an easy dinner would be good, so we're having Italian sausage, gnocchi, and a can of tomatoes, corn, and okra.  Then we're going out for family fun night at the local rec center. 
  • Saturday - I've got Core Fusion in the morning but we don't really have any other plans for the day other than my step-brother and his wife taking Sonny D out somewhere fun for his birthday present and out to dinner.  Maybe Husband Jeff and I will go out to dinner or stay home and relax in the quiet. 
  • Sunday - My friend Heather and I are going to a gluten-free baking class at the co-op in the afternoon and for dinner I'm going to make baked potato soup.

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

What's Cooking In My Kitchen

Here's an update on some of the things I've been cooking lately. 

The neighbors gave us some apples so I made baked apple doughnuts and cooked down the apple peels and cores to make apple-cinnamon pancake syrup. I gave both items back to them as gifts.  

The baked apple doughnuts turned out so great that I made them again a few days later for my nephews. One of them said it was be best doughnuts he had ever eaten. Nice!

Sonny D and I made crispy sweet potato chips in the microwave. He took the leftovers to lunch the next day, a nice way to trick him into eating veggies. 

Great idea from my friend Heather, roast a butternut squash whole in the oven. No peeling, no cutting, just toss it in there for an hour at 350 degrees. Came out so great without all the dangerous cutting and peeling. It was a bit too soft, so next time I'd do it a little less. 

Next up was a Pinterest pin that I actually made (as opposed to all those other the things I pin and then never go back to), gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) sauce on pasta. I used a little less of the hot pepper sauce to ensure it wouldn't be too spicy for Sonny D. He liked it. I ate the leftovers with sriracha to get it nice and spicy. 

Made my first dish that my friend Heather and I prepped for frozen slow cooker meals. This is creamy Italian chicken and tomato soup. We modified it a bit, I added 2 cans of cannellini beans and it could use even more tomatoes and less chicken. 

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pumped! My Weight Lifting Workout

I've had some people ask questions about the weight lifting routine I've been doing so I wanted to write a post about it.  I've been weight lifting several days per week since I quit my full-time job in September. Right after I was done with my job, I signed up for the annual membership to the gym at the local rec center right near our house. For about a month I was exercising pretty much every single day but Sundays -- weight lifting (every weekday but Tuesday), Zumba on Tuesdays, and Core Fusion on Saturdays. But when we got a dog it changed things. He has to be locked in his crate if we're not home because he'll chew everything up, and I already lock him up in the crate on Thursday afternoons when I go to work, so I felt bad also locking him up in the morning so I could go workout. On Fridays I work most of the day so Zipper goes to hang out with grandpa so I adjusted my workout so I do both the Thursday and Friday exercises on Friday afternoon before picking up Zipper and then Sonny D.

The Nitty Gritty

My weight lifting plan is the female workout program on  I had to modify it because my gym doesn't have barbells, so I do everything on a machine or with dumbbells.  I set up the workout on the Gain Fitness app on my iPhone, so when I complete an exercise it tells me what the next one is and it does it all as a circuit, repeating each day's set of exercises three times.  I had to modify some of the exercises because I didn't have the same exact exercise names in my app.  Eh, close enough.

I start with a warmup of 7 minutes on the elliptical on the cross-coutry setting and the 5-minute "cool down".  Then I head over to the equipment to focus on whatever set of body parts I'm working for the day. I don't care for the squats or deadlifts, but I like the leg presses and the dumbbell shrugs (I've got super-powerful shoulders!).  The whole time at the gym takes me about 45 minutes. 

How Is It Going?

I'm supposed to be increasing the amount of weight and reducing the number of repetitions to gain more muscle, but since I'm still getting into this and I haven't been able to work out all the times per week as indicated, I'm still in the initial stage of doing 8-12 reps of each exercise.  I've been increasing the weight as I become more comfortable, so I'm generally doing what they recommend, but not quite.  My only disappointment is that my gym doesn't seem to have 12-pound dumbbells, so if I want to go over the 10 pounds I'm currently lifting for some of the exercises, I'll have to jump up to 15 pounds.  I don't know if I'm currently strong enough for that.

I'm definitely building muscle in my shoulders but I don't really feel like any other parts of my body are particularly different.  I probably still need to increase the amounts on some exercises but I like to make sure that I'm not rushing things and doing the exercise with proper form and technique.   Someday soon I might actually get enough guts to advance to the next stage where you increase the amount of weight so much that you can only do 6-8 repetitions.  But I still have days where it's the same exercise I've always done, but it's still quite hard.  It's a journey. 

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Menu Plan: Week of November 24

Last Week

On Monday I went to Sonny D's preschool to read a book and share a treat with his room. After I dropped him off for the morning I hurriedly made apple oatmeal raisin cookies, they turned out great. Unfortunately the whole thing didn't go well for him, he cried. I think it totally throws him off any time I'm at school other than pick-up and drop-off times.

On Tuesday I took Zipper dog to the vet for a follow-up visit.  No more tapeworm, intestinal parasite, or fleas, so that's good.

On Wednesday Husband Jeff rode the Amtrak train up to Minneapolis to work from his company's headquarters up there.  He stayed with his brother and family, they live only a few minutes from the office. 

On Thursday I took Sonny D to his four-year pediatrician visit.  I knew he was going to get one shot (flu shot), so we had been talking about it beforehand so it wasn't a surprise.  It ended up that they gave him two shots so he's completely ready for kindergarten (which is two years away!) and a flu mist up each nostril.  Not a good time.  I had planned we would go out to lunch at Noodles & Co afterwards, but he wasn't in a good mood so I dropped him off with grandpa and went home and ate lunch by myself.  Nice and quiet.

Last week at my taste training we smelled and tasted pig's feet to understand the "barnyard" scent/flavor.  Surprisingly it wasn't bad at all, just really rich and fatty.   We also had Spam to get familiar with "piggy" scent/flavor.  I grew up eating Spam occasionally but haven't had it in a while.  It was interesting to be reminded that Spam isn't bad, but it isn't very good either.  We also tried low-quality lunch meat, yuck. 

On Saturday Sonny D and I drove up to Minneapolis to meet up with Husband Jeff.  Sonny D got to hang out with his cousins, they had a great time.  We ended up cutting our trip short by a day.   We were supposed to drive back down on Monday, but they were forecasting a lot of snow, so we all came back on Sunday.  All that time in the car made my lower back sore. 

This Week

  • Monday - cheesy gochujang (Korean pepper paste) spaghetti with chickpeas and roasted butternut squash with feta cheese.
  • Tuesday - no dinner planned because I've got Zumba class. Typically Grandma & Grandpa pick up Sonny D, but Grandma has a cold so they might skip it this week.  Don't know what we'll eat for dinner if Sonny D is here.  I'll probably suggest fried egg and cheese sandwiches since it's a set of ingredients we actually have in the house. 
  • Wednesday - My friend Renae's birthday!  Happy birthday, Ren!  Dinner is Italian chicken and tomato soup made in the slow cooker (a frozen meal my friend Heather and I put together) and maybe bagels.  Hopefully also hanging out with our friends Jim & Isabelle, they live in Seattle and are coming here to visit his family for Thanksgiving.
  • Thursday - Thanksgiving on Husband Jeff's side at Aunt Nancy's house.  It appears that we're not on the hook to bring anything, so we'll just sit back and coast.  I don't have a dinner planned so hopefully we're full enough from lunch that we don't really need much to eat later or that we bring leftovers home with us. 
  • Friday - Since Sonny D doesn't have school because of the holiday and I don't work this week, I'm hoping we can go grocery shopping during the day.  Not the most exciting thing for him, but I love grocery shopping.  Dinner is chicken and shrimp paella.
  • Saturday - Core Fusion class in the morning.  I'd love to go downtown and maybe see a kids' performance and then out to lunch, but maybe just out to lunch.  Dinner is Hungarian potato soup.
  • Sunday - We're getting together on Sunday morning to have Thanksgiving lunch at my mom's house.  Mom and I are completely un-traditional when we plan our holidays, this time we're having a taco bar! Once again, I hope we're really full from lunch so we don't need a real dinner.  My only thought was leftovers. 

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!