Monday, March 30, 2015

Menu Plan: Week of March 30

Random Things From Last Week

Sunday - I bought the Garnier anti-dark circle eye roller and a lilac nail polish (Sally Hansen's 'No Hard Feelings). I'm totally in love with both!  I still haven't figured it out, but I think the eye roller is a combo of concealer (that part I'm sure about) and some form of skincare to make under eye circles look better without the makeup. And the lilac nail polish is perfect for spring, a lovely pastel.

Monday - Here's a pic from the gym, I'm still pumping iron.
At the gym.

Tuesday - Ever see some furniture out on the curb for the garbage truck and think "oh my gawd, that is so dirty. Was that disgusting thing in your house and you were sitting on it just yesterday?"

I'm interested in the whole 30 diet after reading this blog post from Yum Yucky. The girl's results are impressive and was thinking it might be something to try, you know kind of as a challenge for myself to see if I can go without sugar and carbs for a month.  I mentioned it to Husband Jeff and he's on board.  We've talked and we'll start it the day after his birthday (April 23).  So look for details on that coming up.  It means we'll go without any grains, legumes/soy, sugar, alcohol, or dairy.   That means no oatmeal for me!  Figuring out all our meals for the cleanse will be fun since I love planning.

Wednesday - Question overheard at the gym between three old gals on the treadmills - "what is your favorite snack food? " 
I didn't stick around to hear the answers because I had my headphones in, but I think one gal mentioned peanuts.  My snack of choice is popcorn. There was popcorn at the Honda dealership yesterday and I only had a small bag. But was quite good, especially for not-home-popped.  

On my way out of the gym I had a fantasy where the two people talking on their cell phones were trying to get me, and I needed to pull out some super awesome moves to avoid capture. Made me think that I either want to be a ninja or a superhero. Or maybe like a secret spy. Is there a place that'll teach me how to be a super-secret spy?

ThursdaySo you know how sprouted seeds are supposed to be good for you?  I had a "duh!" moment the other day when I realized I should try sprouting chia seeds for my breakfast. I guess I always thought processed grains/seeds/whatever couldn't be sprouted, that the sprouting-ness was gone because it had been heat-treated or whatever. Like you can't sprout roasted almonds, right? Not sure when I'll get around to it, but that's on my list. 

Sunday - I decided to transfer everything left in the basement chest freezer to the upstairs freezer.  Then I turned off the chest freezer to let it defrost.  It ended up that everything fit in the upstairs freezer, but just barely.  So we're still on a mission to still eat as much from the freezer as possible until I can get the time to wash down the chest freezer.  And then if we're doing the Whole30 cleanse/detox, we certainly won't want all that bread around! 
Freezer remnants got moved.

This Week 

Tuna casserole with crunchy panko breadcrumbs and parmesan on top.
  • Monday - Sonny D is on spring break, so we visited my parents.  I made tuna noodle casserole for dinner and it was great!  I loved the cream cheese in the sauce, it made it creamy and thick. The only ingredient it used from the freezer was peas, but we had a partial bag of them that we finished, so that felt good. 
  • Tuesday - Husband Jeff is taking off to hang out with Sonny D and I.  Today's plan is to go to State Street, the pedestrian mall area downtown.  Think we'll attempt to eat lunch down there.  No dinner because we'll drop Sonny D off with Grandma & Grandpa and have a little something before we go to Zumba.
  • Wednesday - I was originally planning we'd have waffles from the freezer with strawberry sauce (from the freezer) and salads, but the tuna noodle casserole made a lot so we should eat those leftovers.  Maybe we'll eat the casserole for lunches and still have the waffles for dinner.  
  • Thursday - Hanging out with Sonny D's friends in the morning since they're off for spring break as well.  For dinner I was hoping we'd get a take & bake pizza from Aldi since I've heard great things about it, but we've already got a Trader Joe's deep-dish pizza in the freezer that we should eat first.  In the evening I'm having a WildTree party so I'll have lots of snacks and things to nibble on. Everything at the party will pretty much be gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free so my friend Heather can sample as much as possible.
  • Friday - No plans for the day, but my friend Heather invited us over for dinner.  I'm making a fun non-alcoholic beverage to bring. 
  • Saturday - I don't have Core Fusion in the morning because it's spring break, but I'll try to get some exercise in, especially since I won't get much time for it during the week. More swimming lessons for Sonny D.  He wasn't a fan of the lessons last week with his regular teacher, hopefully things go better this week.  In the afternoon my friend Heather and I talking about exploring an Asian/Indian market.  I was thinking I'd make Indian for dinner as well.  That's another meal where I don't think we'll use anything from the freezer (unless I can sneak in some shredded zucchini), but we would use up some packets in the cupboard. 
  • Sunday - We're having Easter brunch at Jeff's Aunt Nancy's house, that'll probably be an indulgent affair.  I was thinking for dinner we'd have tofu parmigiana (tofu from the freezer) with a bit of pasta.  Maybe salads if we still have some greens left.   

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Menu Plan: Week of March 23

Last week we went out a couple times, the first time was to Bassett Street Brunch Club for breakfast-for-dinner.  It was fine, we were all ok with our entrees but nothing was amazing.  We really liked the doughnuts though.  And our anniversary dinner at Cento on Wednesday was nice too. 

For Sonny D's first swimming lesson on Saturday he was the only kid (only three per class) so he had a private lesson.  It ended up being a great way to start out because he wasn't exactly thrilled to be there.  He told me that I couldn't watch him during his lesson because it would make him shy, so I was turned to the side the whole time, but I cheated and recorded video with my phone. 

This Week

We're still working on eating as much from our freezers as possible so I can defrost the chest freezer in the basement. I am really hoping we'll be able to defrost it later this week, maybe by Friday.
  • Monday - French toast to use as much bread as possible, frozen chicken breakfast sausage, salads, and fruit
  • Tuesday - I'm excited for my massage in the afternoon.  No dinner except for a couple pieces of toast before Zumba class.
  • Wednesday -We're going out for Peruvian food at Surco with our friends Chuck & Buddha.
  • Thursday - The weather doesn't sound too great but we're planning to grill tonight, along with a bag of Trader Joe's frozen gnocchi and home-frozen corn.
  • Friday - More frozen tilapia pan-fried along with frozen hash-brown patties, and the remaining frozen green beans and frozen peas from two partial bags. 
  • Saturday - Back to swimming lessons for Sonny D and lunch out with ice cream afterwards. Sonny D has been asking about using the food coloring so we're going to color Easter eggs in the afternoon.  For dinner Husband Jeff requested we go to Taqueria Guadalajara for Mexican for dinner.  
  • Sunday -I think we'll skip the last winter farmers' market unless I decide that we need eggs.  We actually do go through eggs pretty quickly, so we might actually need to buy more.  We're meeting friends for lunch at the Asian sweet bakery and then shopping at the Korean market afterwards.  For dinner we'll have tuna casserole because by that point we won't had much else in the freezer to eat.    

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Anniversary Dinner at Cento

For our anniversary on Wednesday we went to Cento, a new italian place in Madison.  I had mentioned in my online reservation that it was our anniversary, so they sat us at the single big curved booth right up front, which I really liked. We tried to make it a leisurely evening, but the waitress didn't hear Husband Jeff's request to take things slow.  She was pretty on top of things, but wasn't the warmest or friendliest server. 

We requested two starters - arrancini and bread. Arrancini are fried balls of risotto. The bread plate had two flavors, italian/sourdough and an olive bread. The olive bread was nice, but the other bread was so bland we couldn't tell what type of bread it was. The arrancini were ok, but not a lot of flavor there either since it was made from saffron risotto. But fried anything is usually pretty yummy. We had a couple arrancini leftover and brought them home, but they didn't reheat well. 

The happy couple celebrating nine years. 

I ordered the snapper entree, which I really liked. 

Husband Jeff had the pork chop, which he really liked. 

We also shares a half order of carbonara since we wanted to try some pasta.  It was nice, but a bit too rich and bland. 

I didn't finish my entree and brought a decent chunk of fish home.  We brought a bit of pasta home too, and I had both leftovers for lunch the next day. 

I was so full from dinner, but I felt it wasn't a full special night unless we ordered dessert, too.  I wanted bread pudding but the only dessert we could agree on was the "flexi chocolate". I have no idea what that name means, but it was a couple chunks of chocolate cake, a bit of extra-thick chocolate pudding, a couple squirts of chocolate mousse, and some sort of gelato. Nice, but once again, not amazing. 

The space at Cento is really gorgeous, they spent a lot of money to renovate an old building (a bank?) into a very classy dining room.  It's directly across from the Overture Center, which is where we were married. They probably picked that location so they can take advantage of the before-opera crowd. But for the money, I'd rather go to Sardine, a similarly fancy restaurant here in Madison because I think their food is better. And the atmosphere at Sardine is more comfortable rather than intimidatingly-swanky. 



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Monday, March 16, 2015

Menu Plan: Week of March 16

I'm still trying to empty our chest freezer in the basement so I can defrost it since I recently realized it's lined with a thick coating of frost.  We're making progress on eating things but it feels so slow.  By the end of this week we should be pretty good and close to defrost time, but we have a few meals out at restaurants this week that will slow us down.  One thing that will be difficult is I counted NINE loaves of bread down there.  When I go to Trader Joe's I buy six to eight loaves of their sprouted bread.  They're petite loaves, definitely smaller than your standard bread.  We seem to go through them pretty quickly, that's why I buy so many at a time.  I'm regretting having so many right now.  Maybe there will be lots of sandwiches for lunches and snacks in our immediate future.  We also have a decent number of homemade frozen burritos that should be eaten up.

  • Monday - Our Breakfast Club group is getting together for a dinner-for-breakfast at Bassett St Brunch Club.  I'll probably get the veggie hash or an omelet but there are lots of things that sound great, like the savory French toast.  I looked at the weather report and today is supposed to be 72 degrees, so this will be a great way to celebrate the definite arrival of spring.
  • Tuesday - St. Patrick's Day.  We don't have any themed plans for the day but maybe we'll wear green shirts or something.  Grandma and Grandpa are picking Sonny D up from preschool while Husband Jeff and I are going to Zumba class.  No formal dinner as usual since I just have a couple pieces of toast with peanut/almond butter.
  • Wednesday - Our wedding anniversary, we're celebrating nine years together.  Grandma and Grandpa are going to watch Sonny D again and we're going out for dinner at Cento
  • Thursday - Ok, back to a normal night of dinner at home.  I'll defrost the smoked ham from the freezer and make ham and cheese pasta with spinach.  We'll have a bag of Trader Joe's veggie melange along with it.
  • Friday - Pasta with red sauce, which unfortunately doesn't use anything from the freezer but I'm going to serve frozen Trader Joe's breaded eggplant cutlets along with it.  After dinner I'm going to a Korean craft night with our adoption group.
  • Saturday - Our Korean adoption group is hosting a Korean culture day in the morning but we'll have to leave before it's finished so we can get Sonny D to his first day of swim lessons where he goes in the water without us.  I'm excited for it!  In the evening I'm going out for sushi at Restaurant Muramoto with some girls and I hope that Husband Jeff and Sonny D will eat a frozen pizza to help clear out the freezer.  I don't think it'll be too difficult to talk them into it since pizza is Jeff's favorite food.  
  • Sunday - We don't have any plans at all.  Hopefully the weather will be nice so we can be outside all day. For dinner I'm going to defrost tilapia and pan-fry it because I've realized it's so incredibly good.  I want to serve it with frozen Trader Joe's eggplant and zucchini melange (I might be the only one eating that) and Trader Joe's frozen soycutash (peppers, soybeans, and corn).

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Kitchen Design: Coffee Station?

I decided that I needed some redecoration in our kitchen since I've been working on sprucing up other areas of the house.  I don't have the best interior decoration sense, I'm usually paralyzed by the choices and then don't do anything.  I really liked hiring the decorator who did our dining room, but she's pretty expensive so I figured I could handle this on my own.

Currently to the left of our sink we have a rust-colored star that I bought for really cheap at the farm supply store because I like stars and it was cheap.  The color doesn't go with anything, there is no star theme, it's just a single star. Our kitchen doesn't have a lot of space for decorating because we have an 8-foot chalkboard that takes up the one big wall and the rest is cupboards, so this is it.  
Current space, above the garbage, left of the sink.
I just want to mention that I totally love my hanging produce basket that you see in this picture, so glad I got it.  The fruit is at-hand, but out of the way.  Plus they say if you have fruits and veggies visible, you'll eat them more and be healthier.  

After mentioning to my friend Renae that I didn't know what to do with the space and asking for her help, I came up with the idea of a coffee station to hold all our coffee and tea supplies on the wall. I sketched up some ideas and looked on Pinterest for other inspiration.
Rough sketches of ideas for a coffee station.
I think I'll go with either some open shelves or a cupboard-box with sides.  It'll have space for most of our mugs, which currently don't look so fancy because half of them live on top of our toaster oven and others are stored away in an upper cupboard since I have so many.  It'll also be storage for our coffee maker, the sugar container, coffee filters, tea boxes, etc. The coffee maker comes out on the countertop space below the star when we want to make coffee and then is stored on top of the refrigerator when we're not using it.  The space next to the sink is also where the blue compost bin goes and the dirty dishes, so the coffee maker can't be out on the counter the whole time because it gets too crowded there.  Having a thoughtful, dedicated space for the coffee maker would make me happy rather than just shoving it on top the fridge with other random things like the immersion blender and a basket of Play-Dough toys. 
Love my drawing skills!  Coffee maker, tea boxes, sugar, coffee, and mugs. Plus a sassy phrase!
I would love if we could have enough space in the coffee station to move the radio from our kitchen table.  We can put it up pretty high and then just press the "on" button and listen to NPR like we do every morning. It also has a little remote control so we can use that to turn it on. This would actually be the first time we'd use the remote! 
Space hogging silver radio on the kitchen table.
The Cooking Light calendar and fresh flowers are ok though.
As you can see from this picture, the chalkboard tray is a catchall for random things, like a water marker set, the radio antenna, a container of glue, a luggage tag, etc.  

I'm pretty exited about getting this in place but first I need to figure out if it's actually feasible, if we even have enough space to put this on the wall.  Then I need to figure out if I want to buy something from the store, ask Husband Jeff to make it, or try to make it myself.  I think I'll probably want to go custom-made since I want to make sure there's enough space for the coffee maker. 

I can put something decorative above the chalkboard, so if you have any great ideas for a long 14-inch tall space at the ceiling, let me know.

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Menu Plan: Week of March 9

Our plan this week is to eat a lot of meals from the freezer because our chest freezer in the basement is pretty full and I realized there is a ton of frost built up.  There is so much frost that it's like the freezer is two inches smaller all around in the inside.  So we're going to eat as many meals from the freezer so we can empty it and the defrost it.  Not sure how long that's going to take, but we'll definitely be focusing on this for at least the next couple weeks.
  • Monday - We're having the last freezer meal that Heather and I put together, pressure cooker Thai chicken soup with wontons.
  • Tuesday - I'm picking up Sonny D early for a haircut, then he's going to grandma & grandpa's while Husband Jeff and I go to Zumba class. No dinner tonight.
  • Wednesday - I bought a whole 5-pound chicken from the farmers' market and it's filling a large chunk of our freezer, so I'm cooking it up tonight as a Korean roast chicken along with some home-frozen corn from this past summer.
  • Thursday - Sonny D has the day off for teacher inservice, so he and I are going to visit my mom in the morning.  For dinner we'll have leftover roasted chicken and gnocchi before I head out for a Korean adoption group board meeting at night.  
  • Friday - Sonny D is off again today and Husband Jeff wants to take the day off as well so we'll go do something as a family.  Another meal from the freezer, a frozen pizza before we head to the community rec center for family fun night.  Maybe we can have pizza for lunch and fit another dinner from the freezer. 
  • Saturday - I've got exercise class in the morning and the rest of the day doesn't have any other plans.  At dinner time we're going to a fundraiser event to raise money for the local kitchen business incubator.  It involves eating dinner there and I was really hoping to have dinner at home to have more food out of the freezer, but a fundraiser is a good reason to eat there.
  • Sunday - One of the last two farmers' markets remaining before it finally ends.  Husband Jeff is having a massage in the morning to relax and enjoy himself.  In the afternoon my friend Jessica is in town and we're going for pedicures and then out for frozen yogurt.  I don't have dinner picked out yet, but I figured I could find something easy to throw together. 

Wanna Chat?

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Menu Plan: Week of February 23

Last Week

I cleaned the oven. Um, I have to admit, I don't think I've ever cleaned my oven in the 10 years we've lived here. I tried a method I found online - put ammonia and boiling water in the oven and let it sit for several hours.  I don't know if it really did anything because it didn't seem any easier to clean, but it looks much better!
My friend Heather and I made lunch together on Monday.  I made us cran-walnut balls for dessert, they turned out great!  I love the tart-sweetness of the cranberries along with the bitterness of the walnuts.  
cran-walnut balls. 
I made potato and veggie curry chowder for dinner on Monday and it turned out great.  With the Indian dishes Heather and I made for lunch and this curry chowder for dinner, our house smelled like Indian food until Thursday. 
potato curry chowder
Sauteed banana for porridge, it really improved the flavor but made it stringy.
pressure cooker pesto risotto with Italian chicken sausage

Morning porridge - the lentils with red rice wasn't that great, too earthy and savory.

This Week

  • Monday - tacos with corn and black beans.  I'm going to make the black beans from scratch in the pressure cooker.  The corn will be home-frozen from this summer. 
  • Tuesday - no dinner because Sonny D is hanging out with grandma and grandpa and Husband Jeff and I are going to Zumba.  
  • Wednesday - pan-fried fish with Sonny D's requested red pepper and tomato soup.
  • Thursday - chicken pesto lasagna 
  • Friday - I bought a Groupon deal for Buck's Pizza, so we're going to over to our friend Chuck's house to eat pizza with him and our other friend Buddha.  
  • Saturday - Core Fusion in the morning and later my friend Renae is coming to visit for the day with her friends.  No plans figured out yet, but I'm sure we'll have fun.  I'm planning Sonny D and Husband Jeff will have hot dogs for dinner if I'm away. 
  • Sunday - the Northside farmers' market is going on in the morning.  We'll have coconut chicken curry soup made in the pressure cooker, this is the last prepped dish I've got in the freezer.    

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) gmail.com. It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!