Weekly Menu Plan!

stemarie_1650skitchenI usually post this on Monday mornings, but I just finished organizing the pantry and freezer, so I thought I’d post it while my memory is fresh! School starts on Wednesday..Not that I’m excited or anything, but I can’t wait to get back to a routine for the entire families sake.

Breakfasts are usually the same for us: Protein shakes for grown ups, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. We have plenty of protein shake fixins’- I buy the over ripe bananas, peel and slice them pop them into ziploc bags, and freeze them for smoothies and protein shakes. I also keep sandwich ziploc bags of  other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or a protein shake for me and the Mister, and The Big kid has a specially packed lunch of whatever he’s into at the time (which changes frequently). Bitty Bird eats whatever I’ll feed her.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

Monday: Homemade frozen pizza with watermelon slices

Tuesday: Lemon Garlic Spaghetti Squash Casserole, fruit salad

Wednesday:  Chicken and veggie stir fry & Rice

Thursday: Sliders with cheese and caramelized onions on a green salad (no buns for us)

Friday: Date night- I’m thinking Ramen!

Saturday:Shakshuka– It’s a one dish meal (and it’s vegetarian!)

Sunday: Leftover night!

What are you having this week for dinner?

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Why I am not a “Pinterest Mom”

I am creative. I can bake, cook, sew, paint, craft, do calligraphy, garden, and decorate a home on a budget, however, I am not a “Pinterest Mom”.   I have a Pinterest account, but I use it more as a link repository for stuff that’s cool. I do not make Pinterest worthy stuff.  I don’t take Pinterest worthy photos. And, ya know what? I am more than ok with it.

I know there are a lot of people (not just moms) who pour over Pinterest and try to emulate the stuff they see, thinking that you need 5 craft stations, a candy bar (which is a buffet of nothing but candy), a full themed catered meal, and designer goody bags for an event. I hate to break it to you- Little kids don’t care! A lot of the stuff you see on Pinterest has been done by party professionals- Not your average mom with kids running around, a busy schedule, a house to take care of, errands to run, appointments and rehearsals/practices to shuffle kids to…..

Bitty’s third birthday is today, and yesterday was her birthday party.

Screen Shot 2018-06-10 at 3.14.41 PM.pngAbout a week ago, she saw the purse cakes at Baskin-Robbins. She asked for one, but she doesn’t really like ice cream.

I looked at it for a few minutes and figured I could make her one out of regular cake and frosting.

I am no means a professional baker, and I hate fondant (it tastes so gross to me and the kids). So I used cream cheese frosting, some decorator frosting, sprinkles, and icing roses.

And the handles were made from licorice. She was so happy, and the cake was delicious. My only tip is not to try and frost a cake when it’s 90+ degrees in your kitchen.  The cake was cold, but the white decorator icing did not want to cooperate.  The cake was pink inside, I made a butter cake and added pink gel food coloring to the batter.

Screen Shot 2018-06-10 at 3.13.19 PM.pngIn addition, I also made cupcakes! Henry helped make the cupcakes, and Margaret helped decorate them. I figured the cake wouldn’t be enough for the hungry little faces I was going to feed.

No candy bar- Instead I took a lucite bowl that I had painted with faux stained glass paint and filled it with Ring Pops.

And no goody bags- Bitty picked out these cute little Frozen necklaces to give to all her friends who came to the party.

Oh, and no catered fancy meal! We ordered 2 Giant pizzas.  We had bottles water and Honest Juice Pouches.  And because we has a loose Frozen theme, we also had little red apples (because we all know that Sven eats apples- Margaret told me).

I know that there are people out there who love putting out a perfect party that looks great on Facebook and Instagram, but if that’s not in your heart (or budget), BREATHE… Give Yourself some GRACE. Do what you can, what you love, what is in your heart and what is good for your family.  

And I want to especially thank Christine Boyce from Clicks by Christine for taking some incredible candid shots of the party. Her littlest is BFF’s with Bitty.

 

 

Talk Back: Are you a Pinterest Mom? Why or why not? What is your greatest crafting strength?

Why I Love… Denny’s

purple crocus

I’m serious. Stop laughing! I love Denny’s. Here is why: When you have a kid on the spectrum, a lot of stuff is about textures, sounds… the “feels”, if you will. And almost every Denny’s looks the same. The menu is the same, the food tastes the same.  So, no matter where we go, he can have something to eat he likes in a place that is familiar.

And honestly, as far as diner food goes, it’s pretty good. They have heathy choices, they have junk food, and I can get a plate of scrambled eggs and chocolate shake at 2am if I need it.

Other reasons that Denny’s is the bee’s knees:

  • They have coupons. Sign up for their rewards club here, and they’ll email you coupons frequently. They also publish coupons in the Sunday paper, and sometimes in the junk mail too- just keep your eyes peeled.
  • When you are a rewards member, you’ll get a free build your own Grand Slam on your Birthday. SWEEET! That is Henry’s favorite birthday freebie- He knows that I’ll share it with him.
  • They participate in Dosh. We get 5% back when we eat there, can I can combine that with the coupons mentioned above.
  • The four of us can have a meal there for less than $25.00 (before coupon and Dosh cash back). Frequently there are leftovers too. Can’t beat that.
  • The do have Kid’s Eat Free twice a week, but my kiddos are pretty big eaters, and I find it easier (and cheaper) to order them something from the “grown up menu”. Right now, they are obsessed with sharing the Everyday Value Slam. Henry eats the pancakes (with butter), and Bitty eats the eggs and sausage. breakfast for 2 kids for just $4…. uh, ok. And I don’t have to wash the dishes!
  • We frequent the same 3 or 4 locations and the waitresses know the kids. They are always so sweet.

This week, I am professing my love for Denny’s. What do you love this week?

Tasty Chewy Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies!

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 6.11.51 PMDuring a recent pantry clean out, I discovered 3 pounds of brown sugar.

So, I unleashed my google fu to find a recipe to use some of it up. I discovered this recipe from The Pioneer Woman, but it didn’t quite meet our needs (aka what was in the kitchen). So with some changes, I whipped up a batch of chewy, yummy, spiced oatmeal cookies that are sure to please even the finickiest cookie monster!

 

I had to make 3 batches because they just kept disappearing!

Spiced Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies (Adapted from this recipe )

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) Salted Butter, Softened
  • ½ cup coconut oil, room temperature
  • 1/2 Cups (packed) Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1-1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 2 teaspoons each: Cinnamon, allspice, ground ginger, nutmeg
  • 3 cups Old Fashioned Oats

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Beat together the butter, coconut oil, and sugars until fluffy. Beat in vanilla and eggs.

Mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices in a separate bowl. Add it into the wet ingredients, mixing it until just combined. Mix in the oats until just combined. Don’t overmix!

Drop scoops/spoonfuls of dough onto a lightly greased cookie sheet, spacing them a couple inches apart. Bake for 12-13 minutes or until dark and chewy.  These cookies spread when you bake them, so make sure to give them room to grow!

Let them cool slight on the pan after removing from the oven, then transfer the cookies.

Makes 24-36 cookies (depending on the size cookie you make)

 

Sensible Swap: PB Cup Shake

It’s really hard to lose weight and eat well, especially when there are restaurants like Sonic Drive-In. They have these yummy, thick rich shakes and blasts (which is soft serve ice cream with cookies or candy mixed in and topped with whipped cream), but good lord, do they have tons of calories.

This recipe is a Swap. We swap out stuff with crazy high calories for lower calories ingredients to make a yummy, less calorically dense treat. For reference, a MINI Reese’s Cup Sonic Blast is 580 calories and is about 8 ounces (oh, yeah, they come in four other, progressively larger sizes!). The HMR recipe is 380 calories, and the Swap version is between 380-420 calories depending on which brand of light ice cream you use. Oh, and the recipe makes about 20 ounces! Hooray for more volume and less calories!

I’ve included two versions: One with HMR ingredients (you can substitute your favorite brand of vanilla protein powder and PB Protein Bar), and one using ingredients from the grocer.

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 5.29.21 PM

Peanut Butter Cup Shake
Makes 1 large shake (or I guess you could split it and share, but trust me, you won’t want to!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet Vanilla HMR Shake (or scoop if you use the 120 version)
  • 2 Tablespoons PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter(I used the choc. PB2, it’s all we had)
  • 1 HMR Chocolate Peanut bar, chopped into small, bite-sized pieces and frozen
  • 2 handfuls of ice cubes
  • 10 oz water
  • Optional, but yummy: 3 T. Walden Farms Chocolate Syrup

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in the blender, except for the syrup
  2. Blend on medium until all ingredients are incorporated. Mixture should be thick and frosty.
  3. Swirl the syrup in a cold glass.
  4. Pour shake into cup and serve with both a spoon and a straw.
Freaking Delish! I have one of these about once a week!

Here is the second recipe, for those who just want to eat a little better:

Peanut Butter Cup Shake
Makes 1 large shake

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup Fat Free Vanilla ice cream (Your favorite brand)
  • 2 handfuls of ice cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter
  • 1 Atkins Endulge Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, chopped into small, bite-sized pieces and frozen (there are two in each serving- if you want your shake extra yummy, you could use both of them)
  • Optional, but yummy: 3 T. Walden Farms Chocolate Syrup

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in the blender, except for the syrup
  2. Blend on medium until all ingredients are incorporated. Mixture should be thick and frosty.
  3. Swirl the syrup in a cold glass.
  4. Pour shake into cup and serve with both a spoon and a straw.

We have both a  Ninja NJ600 Pro Blender and a Magic bullet.  The Magic Bullet is great for making shakes at the office (for hubs) and the Ninja is great for making multiple shakes at once at home.