Quick, Tasty Recipe: Berries Romanoff

Berries 2.jpgI was thinking of a way to use the berries we have on hand, and this recipe came to mind!

My friend Ana brought Berries Romanoff over for dessert the last time we had a potluck, and it’s now become a staple in our house. This is a variation on the original recipe, which calls for orange zest and Grand Marnier liqueur. This version is much more kid-friendly.

This is a quick, easy dessert that even kids love.

Ingredients:

  • 6 Cups berries- Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, boysenberries, mulberries, and pitted halved cherries are all good choices.
  • 1 cup  thawed Cool Whip (or make whipped cream from scratch if you feel motivated)
  • 1/2 cup  Sour Cream
  • 1 T. orange juice
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. orange zest

Directions:

  1. Divide the berries into 6 dessert bowls, set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients.
  3. Spoon mixture over the top of the berries and serve.

The mixture keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days, but once you taste it, you won’t be able to stop eating it.  It’s really good.

 

Tomorrow is National Cheesecake Day!

01407.jpgI just told the Boy Child and he was so excited about this “holiday”, he almost burst.

July 30th is National Cheesecake day and there are all kinds of awesome deals to help you enjoy:

Cheesecake Factory is celebrating by offering dine-in guests any slice of its more than 30 legendary flavors of cheesecake for half price at all of its restaurants nationwide.
unnamed.jpgIf you are in San Diego, stop by DZ Akin’s for $5.00 Cheesecake slices (and their slices are HUGE).

I personally am most excited about this deal. Their cheesecake is so good, and I will also grab some Matzo Ball Soup to go as well!

If you want to make your own at home but it’s too hot to turn on the oven, I love this Philadephia cheesecake filling in a graham cracker crust. You can top with your favorite fruits, or sprinkle chocolate shavings on top.

It also comes in Chocolate or Key Lime. Check your local grocery store.

If you are watching what you eat and still want to celebrate, I love the Cheesecake Jello Pudding mix. Make it as the directions indicate, or add 1-2 tablespoons of the powder to your favorite protein shake powder and blend with water, ice cubes, and fruit.

And I saw this while browsing Amazon, but I’ve never tried it. It’s Sans Sucre Cheesecake Mousse Mix. It looks interesting.

Talk Back: Are you planning on celebrating with a slice of cheesecake tomorrow?

 

Weekly Meal Plan

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AHHHHH!!! The last day of school is Wednesday.  Summer school doesn’t start for the big kid for 2 weeks. I’m going to have to ramp up my frugality to 11! Here is my article about keeping kids fed over the summer, and my article on free lunches this summer for kiddos. 

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done, so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  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 soups for me and the Little Bit, and The Big Kid has a specially packed lunch of whatever he’s into at the time (which changes frequently).

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: Chicken meatballs & Cheesy cauli-rice.
  • Tuesday: Breakfast for dinner (Waffles, bacon, and melon)
  • Wednesday: Frittata and fruit salad
  • Thursday: Nugget Night! This was such a hit last week, we’re doing it again! The big kid is a vegetarian, so I make him Chick’n nuggets, and the rest of us have chicken nuggets or another variety of meatless nuggets. The Buffalo Chick’n nuggets are popular among the grown-ups. I serve carrot sticks, and apple slices on the side.
  • Friday: Date Night (dinner out)
  • Saturday: Birthday party leftovers! Bitty’s 4th birthday party is Saturday and we’ll have pizza, cake, and fruit leftover.
  • Sunday: Leftover Night

Weekly Meal Plan!

stemarie_1650skitchen

I’m done with college! Now I’m back to all of my frugal habits, I’m no longer even more pressed for time. I’m stoked to be able to get back into my groove of cooking healthy food, exercising, and keeping up with the kiddos!

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

This weeks meal planning goal is to eat up what we’ve got in the pantry. I’m finishing the pantry inventory this morning after my coffee. I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  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 soups for me and the Little Bit, and The Big Kid has a specially packed lunch of whatever he’s into at the time (which changes frequently).

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: Chicken Soup (using the roasted chicken I made the other night)
  • Tuesday: Spaghetti (I’ve been buying this kind because it’s high in protein) with bolognese sauce, steamed veggies
  • Wednesday: Madras Lentils, riced cauliflower
  • Thursday: Nugget Night! The big kid is a vegetarian, so I make him Chick’n nuggets, and the rest of us have chicken nuggets or another variety of meatless nuggets. The Buffalo Chick’n nuggets are popular among the grown-ups. I serve carrot sticks, and apple slices on the side.
  • Friday: Homemade Pizza Night- I’ll be making a few extra crusts to toss into the freezer.
  • Saturday: Burgers- We’ve got a bunch of meatless burgers floating around the freezer. The kids will probably have the Veggie Burgers from the 99 Cent Store (Chef Ernesto- they are like potato cakes with other veggies in them- they are super good with cheese and salsa) or grilled cheese. Served with applesauce- we have tons of it.
  • Sunday: Leftover Night

Oh, and I’m making cookies this week! These cookies to be precise!

Weekly Meal Plan!

stemarie_1650skitchen

The kids and I are going camping this weekend, so I’m only meal planning through Thursday! We’ll be going to a Society for Creative Anachronism Event, Potrero War. The kids are looking forward to playing with friends, making s’mores, doing crafts, and the big kid is really looking forward to participating in Thrown Weapons with his Grandpa.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

This weeks meal planning goal is to eat up what we’ve got on hand that will spoil first. I’m not going to the grocery store to buy anything but milk and butter (oh no, we’re almost out!).

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids.  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 soups for me and the Little Bit, and The Big Kid has a specially packed lunch of whatever he’s into at the time (which changes frequently).

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: Leftover homemade pizza and strawberries
  • Tuesday: Spaghetti (I’ve been buying this kind because it’s high in protein) with red sauce loaded with veggies
  • Wednesday: Madras Lentils, white rice, and steamed veggies
  • Thursday: Grilled cheese sandwiches and soup (I’ve got a couple batches of soup in the freezer, so I’ll grab one and defrost it the night before. It’ll probably be Veggie Tuscan Soup).

Top Ten Fall Recipes!

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The air is starting to cool and fall is in the air! for us that means baking and enjoying some of the seasons yummiest produce.

Here are my family’s top ten fall recipes!

  1. Baked Pumpkin Donuts
  2. Apple Crisp
  3. Nutty Banana Bread
  4. Protein Chocolate Chip Cookies
  5. Tasty Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies
  6. Beer Bread
  7. Colonial Chowder
  8. Butternut Carrot Bisque
  9. Black Bean Soup
  10. Zuppa Toscana CopyCat Recipe

Talk Back: What is your favorite fall food?

10 Practical Self-Care Tips

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There are tons of articles about Self-Care on Pinterest and mommy blogs. Having read a bunch of them, I’m lead to believe that all of these people have kids that go to bed on time, never wake up for water, cry out in the night, or may possibly be robots.  Why? Because facials, manicures, pedicures, private yoga sessions, and taking a long quiet bath are usually recommended. I can seldom do any of these after my kids are in bed.

Remember, self-care is more than slapping on a mud masque and shotgunning wine from a can (yes, it exists) on Sunday night while you hide in the bathroom and pray the kids stay in bed. My top ten list is stuff that is practical that will help “refill your cup”- and not with wine from a can.

  1. Go to bed early. Like 9:30pm instead of 11:30pm. It’s all about baby steps.
  2. Drink a glass of water in the morning. Yeah, you are supposed to drink 7 more after that, but, you’ve got at least 10 more waking hours to get that accomplished.
  3. Take your vitamins. They are doing no good in your medicine cabinet. To remind yourself, get an “old person pill case“. My husband and I each have one, and so does Henry. I refill them on Saturday night. I’m such the party animal.
  4. When you are alone in the car each day, do some deep breathing.  I like the Alternate Nostril Breathing (I learned it in yoga- pre-kids). It’s easy to do and just two minutes of it can really help you relax. Bonus: It’s free.
  5. Indulge in a guilty pleasure. Take 30 minutes and do something that you wouldn’t Facebook about- Take a couple Buzzfeed Quizzes, Watch Dr. Pimplepopper videos on YouTube, watch the Kardashians on Hulu. Just disconnect and do something mindless.
  6. Color! I have a bunch of coloring books for adults, but I also like to print off coloring pages too. I have some pinned on my 100 Days of Art Pinterest Board.  Color with what you’ve got on-hand. Crayons, markers, colored pencils. Heck, it’s ok to steal your kids coloring books.
  7. Do a Social Media Purge. I did this at the beginning of January. I unfollowed/unfriended anyone that caused me stress, pain, anxiety, or jealousy. You don’t need to be surrounded with Keeping Up with the Joneses all the time. Your time and family are great the way they are.  Removing these emotions from your daily life will give you relief. It’s liberating.
  8. Enjoy something to eat or drink that brings you joy or is nostalgic. Bonus if it’s something that your kids don’t like/won’t eat. Then there will be no sharing.
  9. Go for a ten minute walk. Outside is best, but a few laps around your office building is ok too. If you are home, grab the kids, the dog, and go outside. Investigate your neighborhood. It doesn’t have to be an Instagram-worthy sunset walk, just get out and stretch your legs!
  10. Power Down- Put down your phone, tablet, turn off the computer for an hour and take a break/nap/shower/bath.

Most of these things can be done with little to no cost. Anyone can do them. How do you make sure that you get enough self-care?

Quick Recipe: Easy, Healthy Brownies!

IMGP8542.jpgIn the search for healthier yummy recipes to feed Lil’ Man, I stumbled upon a recipe for black bean brownies. Ok, so stop making that face and read on. Oh, and this one is GLUTEN FREE!!

I read the recipe, and a bunch of comments and did some more investigating online and made a few tweaks to the recipe and got to cooking.

Ingredients:

  • 1 15 ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 T. sugar free applesauce
  • 3/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 T. Hazelnut extract (You could use vanilla)
  • 1 1/2 c brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 t. instant coffee crystals (optional)- I used 1 t. of very strong coffee instead.
  • 1 C. chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 8×8 baking dish. I used an 8 inch round baking dish.
  3. In a blender, combine all of the ingredients EXCEPT the chocolate chips. This is important.  I didn’t do this!
  4. Pour batter into greased baking dish and top with chocolate chips. Bake for 25-35 minutes.  The brownies are super fudgy. If you want cake-ier brownies, add a pinch of baking powder.

 

If you like your brownies really sweet, add 1/4 c. white sugar. I like my desserts not super sweet, so I opted to use a little less sugar, and I’ll top mine with a scoop of ice cream- Yum!

They are not bean-y.  If I didn’t know they had beans in them. I wouldn’t be able to tell.  They are very moist, fudgy brownie. And if you use a flax egg and vegan chocolate chips, you’ve got a yummy vegan recipe!

 

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.

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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.