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Well, this weekend I definitely enjoyed lots of tasty treats!  I tried to do it in moderation, but I definitely came into Monday feeling a little over-stuffed.

It all started on Friday, with Bob coming back into town and wanting to eat at El Rods.  I put forth a pretty good effort to avoid some of the pitfalls of Mexican restaurant dining.  I always leave there feeling bloated and yucky.  For lunch, I had very minimal chips and a salad with no cheese sauce, which is their version of "dressing."  It was very good, and I would have been fine, but then we decided to go to Frosty Parrot for some fro yo goodness.  I love my fro pa, so I definitely had a big cup with a lite amount of yummy toppings, including Reese's cups, Snickers, and cookie dough bites.  Yum!  Fridays are supposed to be pizza night, but since I had indulged in the afternoon, I ate the salad I had originally packed as my lunch that day, so I sort of evened things out.  The salad was delish!  It was spinach, some cut up carrots, cherry tomatoes, and leftover cold salmon from the night before.  I mixed up my own dressing of some EVOO and lemon juice, with some Italian seasonings and fresh cracked pepper thrown it.  It really was very tasty.  Plus, I ate about 3/4 of a slice of cheese pizza.

Saturday's meals were scrambled eggs/whites for breakfast, half of a chicken wrap for lunch, pretzels for pm snack, and for dinner I had a Cobb salad at Red Robin, with the balsamic vinegar dressing, and Bob and I shared a slice of Red Velvet cake.

Sunday we had Father's Day pancakes and eggs/whites.  Lunch was grilled sausages, with spinach, cherry tomatoes, and roasted red peppers.  So good!!  I went a little overboard with the pm snack and ate a ton of graham crackers and chocolate PB2.  Graham crackers are my weakness!  Dinner was a special Father's Day dinner.  We had amazing grilled shrimp, 6 oz. filets, grilled zucchini, and some roasted baby gold potatoes.  For dessert, I made bite sized apple pies, using premade crescent roll dough, slices of apple, butter, and a sugar/cinnamon mix.  They were so good, and we served them with some vanilla ice cream.  Definitely a treat meal, but I enjoyed every morsel.  I actually only ate half of my steak and just enjoyed the other half of it as my lunch this afternoon (alongside leftover green beans, spinach, and cherry tomatoes).

So, what's in store for the rest of the week?

First let me announce that I am playing around with having themes for each night of the week, in order to facilitate menu planning.  Fun!  We will see how this works.  My themes are as follows:
  • Meatless Mondays
  • Tried and True Tuesdays (these are recipes that I've made a ton of times and know they are easy and tasty)
  • Wet Wednesdays (meals from the sea, aka Fish Night)
  • Thrilling Thursdays (meals that are either International or new or just fun in some way or the other)
  • Family Night Fridays (usually Family Pizza Night but can also include restaurants family members want to go to or other fun family-centered meal ideas)
  • Saturday & Sunday are nights when we'll have staples on hand and may need to get fresh veggies in order to do lots of grilling out (weather permitting) or meals that take longer to make and are easier to do on the weekend or help with prepping for meals for the week.


I've probably put too much thought into all of this, but it is something I enjoy.  I'm hoping this will help make menu planning easier and possibly even help with coming up with grocery lists, etc.

In a lot of ways, these themes are sort of close to how I've been planning meals for some time now.  We've done Fish Night on Weds for a long time.  We typically do easy meals the rest of the week.  One new thing is the "Meatless Monday" idea.  We'll see how long that lasts, as I'm not sure Bob is that into it.  I can also have some option meat add-ins for him.  But the themes might help me add a little order to my thinking, and we need to do a better job of planning for the weekend.  Often our weekend meals are "to be decided" and end up hinging on us going to the grocery store.  I would like to be better prepared so we don't necessarily have to hit the store in order to have dinner.

Considering how much I indulged this weekend, this week is a chance to get myself back on track and possibly do a little more planning so that I'm eating healthier over the weekend, as well.

  • Monday: Stuffed Sweet Potatoes (stuffed w.black beans, salsa, cheese, broccoli, etc).
  • Tuesday: Smokey stuffed peppers
  • Wednesday: Baked fish, mac-n-cheese, broccoli
  • Thursday: Pasta Primavera, with mushrooms, tomatoes, and any other leftover veggies available, using either Penne or Bow Tie pasta
  • Friday: Family Pizza Night
  • Saturday: Turkey burgers with poached eggs


Should be pretty tasty!

 
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  • Sunday: Pork chili
  • Monday: Taylor's Bday dinner at Sharkey's
  • Tuesday: Philly Cheese Peppers OR PF. Chang-inspired lettuce wrap salads
  • Wednesday: Baked mahi mahi, fresh pineapple, edamame
  • Thursday: Pesto Chicken Tortellini
  • Friday: Date night!
  • Saturday: my sweetie pie is making me some kind of pork dish!

 
The other evening I made cheeseburger zucchini boats for dinner (inspired by a pic I saw on Pinterest), and boy were they delicious!!  Seriously good!  I actually fed the boys deconstructed cheeseburger zucchini boats (along with a quarter of a whole grain English muffin and strawberry applesauce), and they both had clean plate club!  They had to eat their meat and zucchini before they could have seconds of the English muffin and applesauce, and they had no problem eating everything.
Bob was actually out for the evening, so I went ahead and made two whole zucchinis, which meant that I had enough for a nice leftover lunch the next day.  I added some reheated steamed veggies to my lunch and it was super filling!  This meal was definitely a winner, and I will be making it again.  I think Bob will like it, too!

This was another one of those meals that illustrates to me how easy "clean" eating is.  This all came together so quickly for me and used a small number of fairly inexpensive ingredients.
Ingredients (I didn't really measure anything, just threw it all together!)
  • 1 lb. pckg ground beef (I used 85% lean and drained off the grease)
  • Sprinkle of Mrs. Dash
  • Sprinkle of garlic powder
  • Sprinkle of McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Shredded cheese (I used reduced-fat cheddar)
  • 2 zucchinis

Directions
  • First thing to do is preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  • Cut your zucchinis in half length-wise.  Then take a paring knife and cut out a wedge of the center of each half (basically, make your "boat")
  • Put your zucchinis on a baking sheet that is lined with aluminum foil (for easy clean-up) and pop them in the oven to cook while you're doing your meat
  • Brown your meat in a skillet over medium-ish heat
  • Sprinkle in all of your seasonings.  I say, you can't have too much flavor, so be generous with your sprinkling.  Add whatever seasonings you prefer!
  • Once your meat is cooked through, pull your zucchinis out of the oven and put your skillet on a hot pan holder next to your baking sheet.
  • At this point, I pulled meat out for the boys' plates, topped the meat with the shredded cheddar, and cut off some zucchini and added it to their plates.
  • Fill your zucchinis with your cooked meat and then top with as much shredded cheese as you please
  • Pop it all back in the oven to bake just until the cheese is melted and starting to bubble


This worked for me!  The zucchini cooked enough to not be raw but still had a nice density and bite to it.  It complemented the cheesy ground beef perfectly!

You can eat this as your entire meal, or you can serve it with a side of steamed veggies.  It also paired very nicely with my leftover steamed broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower.  The ground beef and cauliflower was especially good together!

Enjoy!
 

Quick update: I have not succeeded in doing the house cleaning 15 minutes a day thing.  Not succeeded in the least!  I never even started!  Oh well.  I suppose there's always next week, although, who am I kidding -- it's not going to happen :)

In other news, though, eating well and as healthy as possible has been going along swimmingly.

The majority of my lunches have been packed from home and the dinners have primarily been very healthy.  The image to the left is some of the best hits: lunch that was leftover chicken kabobs (with pineapple, green pepper, and cherry tomatoes); southwest ground chicken stuffed red peppers, healthy chicken nuggets (with zucchini tots), and chicken parm meatloaf muffins (that was ah-maz-ing!!).  These dinners have been so good, and the kids have been eating them up!


Last week, I made the Philly Stuffed Peppers, and Taylor actually asked for more green peppers!  Who are you, and what have you done with my four year old?!  It would be safe to assume we'll be eating a lot more green peppers at our house.  

And he ate two (two!) of the chicken parm meatloaf muffins.  In fact, we didn't have any leftovers of the meatloaf muffins; they were that good.  The plus side of the meatloaf muffins is that they cook up fast (in 20 minutes), which is much better than waiting around for an entire loaf to bake.  We served them with raw carrots, since Taylor loves raw carrots, so there was very little clean-up.

It really has occurred to me that (mostly) clean eating can be so much faster, easier, and (sometimes) cheaper than I ever thought it could be.  I think part of it is that you kind of have to commit to figuring out an easy way to make these healthy meals.  There's "easy," and then there's EASY.  And you've got to figure out what "easy" means to you.

For me, I am lucky in that I am just experimenting with different foods and I don't have a vital need to follow any kind of strict diet or restrict too much of anything.  I don't really know what "clean" eating is.  I just know that right now I am trying my best to eat less processed foods, which necessarily puts me in the way of eating more veggies and fruits.  I'm trying to choose lean meats and also looks for more natural and/or low-fat, low-sugar type options.

And I'm doing all of this with a very specific priority of not buying a bunch of expensive, gourmet ingredients or supplements or anything crazy.  Plus, I need to have meals that can get on the table between the time we get home and 6:15, which doesn't always leave very much time.  So raw carrots?  Hell yeah!  They are easy, healthy, and don't really dirty any dishes (unless you serve them in a bowl, which is still super easy to clean).  Bag of microwave broccoli?  Hell yeah!  Cook it a little under, so it's still a little crunchy and can add it to any dish or reheat for leftovers all week.  Shredding the zucchini for the zucchini tots?  I'll use a food processor next time.  But still, the family loved those things!  Taylor ate more than one, and IT HAD ZUCCHINI IN IT!  I am a happy mom and will give myself carpel tunnel shredding veggies if it means my kid will eat zucchini or beg me to make sweet potato fritters.  Hell to the yeah.  Philly stuffed peppers?  Meat, cheese, onions, mushrooms, and green peppers, and the kids ate everything on their plates (I left out the onions and 'shrooms for the little guys, but they got applesauce).  Me = one happy mom.  And those things cook up in no time.

So, I think it really comes down to finding what works for YOU.  For me, that means really going back to the "roots" of some ways to prepare healthy meals.  Sticking with food that's in as "natural" a state as possible usually ends up in less prep and less clean up for me.  So I shall continue to explore these options for healthy eating.  I have to say, Pinterest has really helped me in this area.  All of the above meals were Pinterest finds.


 
Today's lunch is brought to you by last night's dinner: chicken kabobs with zucchini, red pepper, and onion, along with a brown rice/quinoa blend.  Bob marinated the chicken in a bottled Teriyaki sauce that even has little Teriyaki seeds in it.  The vegetables were tossed with olive oil and a premade Chicken seasoning.  The whole dinner was ahmahzing!

So today's lunch was leftovers + carrots and three wondrously ripe strawberries.

Delish!  I love all of the colors in the box, too :)
 
 
  • Sunday: Crock Pot Beef & Mushrooms
  • Monday: Buffalo chicken burgers, broccoli, whole grain English muffin
  • Tuesday: Shephard's Pie
  • Wednesday: TechPad Open House
  • Thursday: Fall Gala
  • Friday: Out or Broccoli chicken alfredo
  • Saturday: Grilled boneless pork chops, sweet potatoes, corn
 
Saturday: Shephard's Pie
Sunday: Baked mahi mahi, mac-n-cheese, roasted green beans
Monday: Chili
Tuesday: Spaghetti and meatballs
Wednesday: Baked chicken, cauliflower, tater tots
Thursday: Chili mac
Friday: Pizza
 
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This was another wonderful meal that served for two dinners.  Last Sunday we made a delicious crock pot beef & mushroom dish, which we served with brown rice, and we repurposed the leftovers last evening for a delicious Shephard's pie.  The picture may not look overly beautiful, but the result was highly tasty.

Below are the two recipes for our two delicious (and pretty easy!) dinners.

Crock Pot Beef & Mushrooms

We served this with brown rice and roasted asparagus.  The rice and veg helped to really differentiate this from stew, which is often how any beef crock pot dish ends up tasting.  This definitely did not taste like stew.  It did, however, taste beefy and comforting and delish!
  • 1 1/2 lbs. stewing beef
  • 1 small pkg. white mushrooms (the recipe called for canned, but we like to use the fresh mushrooms)
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic (we use the store-bought paste you can get in the produce section)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1-2 stalks celery (the recipe didn't call for this, but we used it sense we had it on hand)
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 jar of beef gravy
  • 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper


  1. Brown meat, mushrooms, garlic, onions, celery in butter in skillet.
  2. Mix gravy with meat mixture.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the mix.  Pour into slow cooker.
  3. Cover, cook on low for 8-9 hours.
  4. Serve over cooked noodles or rice.


Leftover Shephard's Pie

This is an easy favorite of ours, the original of which is derived from Bob's mom's recipe.  We simplified it even more by using microwave mashed potatoes and, obviously, the leftover beef & mushroom crock pot recipe.  I thawed the frozen corn and peas and then microwaved the leftover beef & mushrooms (on 2 minutes at power level 8), so everything was pretty warm when we put it into the oven.  Because of that, it only need between 20-30 minutes.
  • Leftover crock pot beef & mushroom
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed (eyeball it)
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed (eyeball it)
  • 1 pkg. microwave mashed potatoes (I kind of wish we had used 2 packages)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Prepare mashed potatoes according to package directions.
  3. Mix meat mixture with thawed corn and peas.
  4. Top with mashed potatoes.
  5. Bake in oven for between 20-30 minutes.  Pie should be boiling/bubbling.  Let bubbles for at least 5-10 minutes, if not longer.  
  6. Also, be sure to let pie sit for awhile to cool a bit.
  7. Serve with biscuits, if desired.

 
It's not Monday, but it's still good to post the menu.

Saturday: Dinner at birthday party
Sunday: Crock pot beef & mushrooms with brown rice and roasted asparagus
Monday: Baked tilapia, shells & cheese, mixed veg
Tuesday: Tortellini and lemon sauce, with tomatoes and peas
Wednesday: Microwave Swedish meatballs
Thursday: Sauteed pork medallions, Betty Crocker Julienne potatoes, corn
Friday: Shephard's pie, with leftover crock pot beef & mushrooms (peas, corn, and mashed potatoes) (pics and recipe to come!)