Monday, February 25, 2013

New Recipes

Why is it that I only ever blog about food these days??

Cuz I'm back on Facebook ya'lll! I post all of my wit and humor there :)

OK, so we tried two new recipes.

Last night we had these Chicken Shawarma Pitas. Meh. They were OK. I was disappointed in the overall dish because when I made the marinade for the chicken, it smelled so good! It was creamy and had a little cinnamon kick. And the reviews on the website raved about the marinade.

But, when I cooked it, the chicken really dried out (probably some user error there) and the whole pita was just dry and bland. I also really messed up the yogurt based sauce that goes into the pita-- I accidentally used vanilla greek yogurt instead of plain. That made the sauce much sweeter than it's intended to be.

I think I was hoping for more of a gyro type meal, but this didn't do the trick (probably b/c its not a gyro recipe :) ). Next time I'm jonsing for a gyro, I'll try this recipe instead. I'll make it again (cooking the chicken in the oven instead of the Foreman grill and using plain yogurt instead of vanilla) but probably not for a while.

Luckily, tonight's dinner kicked some major flavor bootie!! We had Creamy Tortellini with Spinach and O.M.G! It was really good! At first I worried that the spinach wouldn't be cooked enough b/c all you do to prepare the spinach is to drain the tortellini over it in a colander. I thought that would make for some still crunch spinach leaves. Nope!

The recipe also called for savory garlic cooking cream. Huh? Never heard of it. Luckily I Googled it before I hit up the grocery. It's made by Kraft and found in the same section as the cream cheese.

I also almost bought cheese tortellini instead of the meat/sausage, but I'm glad I stuck with the recipe on that. I think the meat added a good flavor. Had I used the cheese, I think that would have been much and less flavorful.

I love everything about this dish. It's SUPER EASY, really creamy and has just a little bit of tomato flavor. Delicious.

The BONUS is that it's only 425 calories per serving!

I got the recipe from the magazine you get at the grocery store when you spend over $50. I usually don't look through it, but happened to this time. Glad I did. This is definitely a keeper.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Menu Plan

We'll be traveling to KY at the end of the week, so I only planned meals for Sun-Tuesday.

Trying TWO new recipes again :) Hope I'm not jinxing us by doing this two weeks in a row!

Sunday: Chicken shawarma pitas
Monday: Creamy Tortellini with spinach (doesn't that just sound delicious??)
Tuesday: Meatloaf and roasted broccoli

Have a great week my friends!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A few good recipes

This week, you'll recall that we're trying several new recipes. I usually limit new recipes to one per week in the event that they bomb badly :)

But this week, Craig picked out a few of them and was OK with trying new ones....

Last night we enjoyed the Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers.  I've never made anything using roast beef (I'm not a big fan) so I wasn't sure about this.

They were pretty good, though! I thought the peppers would soften more in the oven and taste more like sauteed peppers so I was a little disappointed when they were still pretty crunchy. I also didn't have any mushrooms to use (as directed). We definitely missed having them, too.

In order to cut calories, I only used 1/2 the butter it calls for and on MY pepper, I only used one piece of cheese (instead of two).

Next time, we're going to make the philly cheesesteak and put it over portabella mushrooms! YUMMO!

So, this is a keeper, with just a few alterations.

Tonight we also made a new recipe: Turkey Black Bean Enchiladas.

Clearly I forgot to snap a pic before we chowed down :)
Ummm.....DELICIOUS! I made this as directed (no alterations) for the mixture, but only had flour tortillas so I used those. The recipe says to stuff the tortillas with 2/3 C mixture, but that was waaaay too much so I only used 1/3 C. As such, the nutrition info provided on the original recipe was incorrect. I recalculated and came up with 238 calories per enchilada. SCORE!

This, too, is definitely a keeper. Next time, though, we're going to add diced green chilis because we like things with a kick.

All in all, it's been a successful week of new recipes :) Oh and technically Monday night's recipe was new too since the mix I had turned out to be Honey Sesame instead of our usual General Tso's. It was pretty good, although I still prefer the Tso stuff.

Seriously, those mixtures make some AWESOME dishes. We especially like the fried rice mix. Craig said he prefers that over take out. They're the Sunbird Seasoning Asian mixes found in the international aisle at our local grocery. They're $0.99 a packet. And they're really, really good.

Tomorrow night-- BISCUITS and GRAVY! Oh yeah.

Finally, I am unreasonably and inexplicably excited about my new digital scale.

We've never owned one and one of the blogs I follow alerted that it was on sale for $9.99 (originally $59.99) at Amazon (and still is!). It's also free shipping for Prime members.

It measures in ounces, grams, kg, and lbs. With all of the conversions I'm doing with calorie counting, this has been a huge blessing! Plus, come's fun piling crap on there to see how much it weighs :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Organizing the important stuff

You know how you set out to accomplish a single, simple goal, like, "book a dental appointment," and then 2 hours later you've reorganized your entire household binder of important papers??

I had one of those super-efficient mornings. I needed to make a dentist appointment for Ryan now that he's finally on our dental plan and before I did, though, I wanted to review our policy details. After working in healthcare for 13 years, I knew better than to assume that every visit is covered. I wanted to make sure (best I could) that there aren't certain exclusions since Ryan is only 2.5 years old and this is his first visit.

The plan summary document is pretty straight forward, so I think I'm OK, but there's still a chance that the dentist will bill some totally obscure code that'll get rejected as "not medically necessary." That's just how things work.

Anyway, as I pulled out the documents to review, I started finding other paperwork that needed to be filed. Then I remembered that during MOPS last month, we made a Household Binder in which to organize important papers. Then I remembered that I found a ton of filing folders, binder clips, and tabbed folders in the guest bedroom recently. Then I remembered we recently opened a safety deposit box at a local bank and it's totally empty.

Organizing the household paperwork

Our Household Binder
Inside of Household Binder
One thing led to another which led to another and two hours later, I'm pretty well organized on the paperwork front :) And, I have some legal papers (Healthcare power of attorney, which, BTW, is DIFFERENT than the regular Power of Attorney) to put into our safety deposit box.

Our HealthCare Power of Attorney
Next fall, I'm the Assistant Coordinator of MOPS, so I need to start pulling things together now. I'm heading to Office Max later today (I could LIVE in that store) to grab an organizer or binder for the MOPS stuff. Many of the tabbed file folders I didn't use this AM will be put to good use for MOPS.

In addition to the binder, I also have a crate which I use for other major filings (taxes, retirement paperwork, car paperwork, work done on the house):

Something I'd like to be better at is saving (in one place) important receipts. You'd think that as much as I enjoy organizing that I'd already have that one down, but I don't. When we make a major purchase, I have every intention of storing the receipt in an important place. The problem is that I have approximately 539,205 important places for receipts! I have a folder in this crate for receipts (and ones to hold for 6 months), but I'm not great about actually putting receipts in there.

Later today, I'm taking Ryan to his first movie at the theater! We're going to see Wreck It Ralph with some friends. I'm hoping that Ryan sees how well the other kids behave and will model their behavior during the film. *Fingers Crossed!*

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I LOVE MONDAYS! 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Menu Plan

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday: Sloppy Joes with sweet potato fries
Monday: General Tso's chicken with fried rice
Tuesday: Philly Cheese steak peppers (new recipe)
Wednesday: Turkey and black bean Enchiladas (new recipe)
Thursday: Biscuits and gravy (made with low fat biscuits)

If you follow the recipe links, most of them contain the nutritional information per serving.

And, I have to admit, I was TOTALLY WRONG about the zucchini boats from last week. I thought Craig would give them 2 out of 5 stars and ask to limit them to once/month. But, he actually really liked them! I thought they were OK (3/5 stars), but he really, really liked them. I'm glad :)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A heart full of love

Happy Valentine's Day!

We celebrated with a little breakfast and some quality family time. Tonight we'll uphold our annual Valentine's Day tradition and enjoy breakfast for dinner at Bob Evans with our friends!

As much as I'm trying not to gift him for every little holiday, it's difficult to hold back when toys like this Toy Story Water station (retail $19.99) was on sale for $5.98!

Plus, he LOVES it and I'm pretty convinced that if the toy helps develop motor skills, then it's really not a toy, but rather a necessity :)

Giving Woody a shower

Yesterday was Pink Day at Ryan's school. Good luck finding a pink shirt for a toddler boy! Impossible. I thought about taking his red shirt and ruining it in the wash, but didn't. Whatever. They need to make pink polo shirts for toddler boys. Period.

Here are the Valentine's that Ryan gave to his classmates. I used this free printable to make them.

Valentine's we made for Ryan's classmates
He totally thought there was milk in them :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Love this recipe

We LOVE this recipe for Spicy Romano Chicken. 

We've done really well counting calories lately, so when we had a day where we needed a higher calorie meal, I knew exactly what I wanted to make! It's SO GOOD!

According to my calorie calculator, this has about 965 calories per serving as prepared (makes 4 servings). Yauzers! 

However, when I made it last night, I used 1/2 the butter in the sauce (saving 200 calories). I estimate each serving was about 800 calories. 

Next time, I think I can cut back on the heavy cream too (saving MANY calories).

Now that I've exposed how neurotic I am about calories right is the recipe. 

The Sauce:
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 4 T butter
  • 2 tsp  salt
  • 1 – 2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper  *EDITED*  If you aren’t sure how much cayenne you will like, add a tiny amt and taste as you add until it’s to your liking!

The Rest:
  • 10 ounce package of bowtie pasta cooked and drained according to package directions – al dente.
  • 1 1/2 T melted butter
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 small jar artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 7-8 ounce precooked sliced grilled chicken 
  • 1/8 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 oz heavy cream

How To Make It:

  • Melt butter in saute pan or skillet. Add cream, salt and pepper, heat to a boil. Remove from heat and fold in cheeses and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
The Rest:
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter, then add mushrooms, and sundried tomatoes. Stir for one minute. Next add artichokes and chicken (and cooked sausage or other meat). Stir. Stir in 1 ounce heavy cream and 1/2 of the sauce. Add bowtie pasta followed by rest of the sauce. Stir gently. Serve.

If you're in need of a new dish to try, you surely won't be disappointed with this one!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Menu Plan

Here's our menu for the week. We're trying new dishes tonight...vegetarian night!

I'm going to predict that Craig will think dinner tonight is "OK" but will request that we only do this once a month :)

Monday: Asian Lettuce Wraps (I'm also making these stuffed fillo shells for MOPS)
Wednesday: Wonton tacos
Thursday: Dine out (Bob Evans for Valentine's Day with friends)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

SMASH your year: January

One of my New Year's resolutions is to make memories. We do lots of fun things as a family. We're cool like that.

As the mother of a toddler, that also means I have a TERRIBLE memory. I used to remember EVERYTHING. Seriously, I could meet you once and two years later I'd still remember your name, your boyfriend's name, and nearly every detail you shared with me the one and only time we met. 

Nowadays, I can't even remember my age.

So this year, I vowed to document our year so we not only make great memories, but I'll actually kinda, sorta remember them now.

You'll remember that Connie threw down a SMASH book challenge and, being the healthy competitive challenger I am, I accepted. 

I purchased the necessary accessories (which are very, very reasonably priced- I used my 40% off Michael's coupon to pay $8 for the entire SMASHbook) and got to work. 

The best part about a SMASHbook is that it is SUPER EASY to do. Its perfect for us Type-A personalities that inevitably put off scrapbooking b/c it takes too damn long due to our irrational need for crafting perfection.

SMASHbooking requires very little imagination and not so much time. Seriously, it took me about 5 minutes to make each page. 

The first Thurs of every month, Connie and I are posting our SMASH book pages for the previous month.

Connie got her pages posted earlier (OMG, she'd so talented and fun!!).

Here are ours! Enjoy!

I plan on decorating the cover throughout the year
Inside the left front cover- a folder to keep loose items
First page-- list of my resolutions and recap of New Years Eve

Our indoor treasure hunt. I saved the clues in the "keep me" pocket. 
Pictures are stacked so I can put more pics per page.
Recap of a few average days in the Lotz house!
A page without RJ :) 
This last page recaps a few of the social events during the month. Craig and I went on a few dates- the first one was to see Les Miserable at the movies. We misread the start time of the movie so we showed up an hour early. It was pouring rain outside too. So, we did what any 21st century couple would do-- we watched Ghost Adventurers on the cell phone until it was time to go inside for the movie :) 

So on this page, there's a pic of our cell phone propped up on the dash board with a sticky note briefly describing the date. Under the pic, I put our ticket stubs.

The bottom picture is of Jill, Kelly and me at our alphabet dinner. We're working our way through the alphabet, trying out different restaurants. February was "D" month. It is SO fun. We've found some great places to eat and every single dinner, we laugh until we cry (both from laughing too much and from sad moments when we lean on each other in difficult times). This past month, Jill's mom and husband happened to be at Dos Gorditos too and they picked up our tab! THESE are the memories I want to remember in 20 years!

A brief recap of dinner is written under the pic of us gals. 
And, since this is the first month, I thought I'd throw in a few pics of my SMASHbook supplies.  I keep everything in a tub under the coffee table in the living room. I usually make a page while watching TV with the Hubs after little dude goes to bed. Seriously, its taken me longer to write this post than it does to make the pages!

Small Thirty-One zipper pouch I use to store things until I can SMASH 'em!
What about you? Are you joining us in our SMASH challenge? Its not too late to get started!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Menu Plan

Last week we did great with our meals.

On Tuesday, we used Peach preserves on the salmon since I didn't have any raspberry. It was still delish! Craig said it was the best salmon I'd made so far. Score!

We didn't end up having the chili, though, because the meat went bad before Thursday. Instead, we had our back up meal (Bertolli Chicken Florentine- its a freezer bag meal). I always have one of those on hand because they work great as a last minute meal (seriously, they head up on the stove top in 10 minutes). I don't normally include them as part of the menu because I try to make meals (rather than just heat up prepackaged food), but I keep this on hand *just in case.*

We did REALLY well with eating 1,200 calories each day :)

Now, here's this week's menu!

Sunday: Chili dogs, nachos, and stuff that others brought over for the Superbowl
Monday: Arlene's Meatloaf and roasted broccoli
Tuesday: Tailgate Sandwiches with cooked carrots
Wednesday: Chicken fajitas
Thursday: Pot Roast and asparagus
Friday: Hot dogs and beans (unless we dine out)

My Old Kentucky Home

I'm over here today blogging about fabulous geocaches in my home away from home, the beautiful state of Kentucky.

I thoroughly enjoyed researching the caches and added many to my "must find" list.

Its been so stinking cold this month that I haven't found ANY caches in 2013. That *must* change considering I've challenged myself to find 72 caches this year.

Head on over to HerKentucky to see which caches you think are the most interesting!