Saturday, February 5, 2011

Nuturing My Family: A lil' home cookin'

There is something about winter that makes you want to stay at home and eat warm, comfort food (even if I am on Weight Watchers!) Because supervision at school was a little slower this month due to exams, I was home more during the evenings, was able to cook from scratch a little more, and was able to enjoy more meals with my family. Here are a couple of the great recipes I made recently:

Chicken Corn Chowder
I had roasted a chicken, and actually had time to boil the carcass to make some homemade chicken stock. I had a hankering for a warm bowl of chicken corn chowder, so after consulting a few recipes online, I created this soup, which was quite easy and so yummy!

3 - 4 slices bacon, chopped
half onion, diced
2 cans cream of potato soup
2 soup cans chicken stock (homemade or canned)
1 can corn kernels (or about 1 cup frozen kernels)
1 can creamed corn (or 2 cans of one kind of corn...your preference)
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
seasoning salt or cajun seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, fry the chopped bacon and onion until bacon is cooked and onions are translucent. Drain off excess fat. Add the cream of potato soup, chicken stock, corn, creamed corn. Stir. If soup is too thick for your taste, thin with a little milk. Add chopped cooked chicken. Season to taste with seasoning salt or cajun seasoning, as well as salt and pepper. Do not let mixutre boil, but simmer for about 20 minutes until flavours are combined. Serve with grated cheese on top if you like, some crusty bread and raw veggies or a nice grean salad. Comfort food at it's best!

Apple Brown Betty
My mom used to make this as dessert for Sunday Dinners in the winter. The warm, cinnamon-y apples with their crumbly, crispy crust were always great served with vanilla ice cream. This is not like most cobblers as there is no oatmeal in the topping. (I will have to remeber to snap a photo of this the next time I make it and add it to this post!)

6-8 Baking apples such as Granny Smith
sugar (or substitute Splenda)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour

Peel and core apples. Slice very thinly and layer in baking dish. Sprinkle a little cinnamon and sugar over each layer. Repeat layers of apples and cinnamon/sugar until dish is almost full.
Combine butter, brown sugar and flour with your fingers in a small bowl. Work until mixture is crumbly. Pack over top of the apple layers. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown - about 40-50 minutes.

Let me know if you try either of these recipes!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Nuturing My Marriage: Date Nights

I have to laugh a bit at my first efforts at nuturing myself this week. I DID join Weight Watchers online, specifically so I can track my pints on my iPhone, but then iBroke my iPhone! Then yesterday I used a gift certificate for a facial at a lovely spa, but today I am suffering a terrible allergice reaction to the products used (even though the aesthetician SAID they were non-allergenic and very gentle.) Yeah, I hit a couple of road bumps...oh well. I am undaunted and I am excited about the process of beginning to intentionally nuture another area of my life - my marriage. Here's the plan:

Shane and I have been married for 8 years now. We have two kids, two jobs, two cars, two houses, etc. We have also had about two dates in the last several years! Yup...we, like so many marriedcouples-with-kids need a little reconnection. And instead of waiting for him to do something about it, I am stepping up and planning some dates. Last year I came across Project 52. The idea was to plan one date a week for the entire year. Each week, blogger Tiffany relates what she and her hubbie did on their date night (mostly on Friday nights, mostly at home and under $30.00) and invites readers to link to their date night ideas. She even created a pledge form to help you and your hubbie follow through. I am a bit chicken about committing to 52 dates, but right now I plan on using many of the brilliant ideas Tiffany and her readers have put forth.

For our first date of 2011, I have invited Shane to spend some time with me planning out the year ahead of us. As strange as this may seem, we have never done this. When we met and married we were both in our 30's, had our own lives, careers, finances, assets etc. And we kept it pretty much the same until the kids came along. We didn't actually have a joint bank account until I took an extended parental leave from work when Sam was born and had no income. Over the last year or so, we have come together and are now working towards joint future goals. I am looking forward to planning out some goals and activities on the family calendar and tweaking the family budget. And I was thinking we would have a little cheese fondue and some good red wine while we discuss the year ahead. (Hmmm...come to think of it, I have a feeling most of our dates will probably include food and wine!)

As for future dates, Tiffany has a great list of 16 fresh ideas here. And at the end of each of her weekly date night posts are links to readers ideas. Another website I came across via one of Tiffany's posts is The Dating Divas. It is a treasure trove of ideas for fun, inexpensive, unique dates. With all these ideas maybe I will be able to do 52 dates this year. There's no excuse not to!

Friday, December 31, 2010


Do you know the power of one little word?

Last year was the first year I chose a word to focus on. It was Simplify. Although outwardly it may seem that I did lots to complicate my life, I really did take my word to heart. I worked hard to let go of things that weren't working anymore, to put new systems in place, to find additional resources and support, to work smarter, not just harder. And at the end of one year of focusing on the word simplify, I feel it has touched a lot of aspects of my life.

Now I am ready to choose a new word for 2011.


This year I am planning to nuture many different areas of my life - my body and physical well-being, my personal relationships, my creativity and my spirituality.

I like the word nuture because it is a verb - an action word. It can mean to feed, nourish and protect; to support and encourage; to bring up, train, develop or educate. And the results of nuturing something usually means growth, change, enlightenment. I like that.

Specifically I like the idea of focusing more of my limited energy on things that matter most - my family and my outer and inner self - to acheive growth. Usually at the end of the day I have given all I have with so-so results. Most often I feel devoid of energy, of passion, of feeling. I hope that by dedicating some time towards nuturing myself, I will regain that passion and love of life and be able to pass it on to the people that matter most.

I look forward to seeing where this one little word might lead me, and documenting it in some creative way I hope to share with you along the way.

Happy 2011!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gearing Up for Christmas

Remembrance Day is about remembering and honoring our veterans and soldiers currently engaged in conflict. For me it is also the day that I start focusing on Christmas.

I spent an hour or so this afternoon updating my Cut the Crazy Binder and making some lists. I also surfed a bit, which I haven't done in a LONG time! Here are a few posts I love and want to bookmark for future reference.

Now onto the lists!

PS...I HAD to get a new Christmas theme for the blog to get me in the spirit...I got this one at LeeLou Blogs!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - and Menu Plans in General

It's nice to have a place to store my weekly menu plans again. We have been eating WAY too much take out these last several weeks during the move so it's time to get back into planning on a more regular basis.

A few friends have asked me why I menu plan, thinking it was pain the you-know-where, but I am here to tell you that it is a simple and straighforward process that really saves me time and money. I have read lots of different blogs and even a couple of books on the subject, all of which have helped me to streamline my own menu planning process. Here are some of my tips:

First of all, I plan right here on my blog. That way it is posted for me to refer back to for the coming week and also into the future. I can also link to my recipes easily (I have most of the recipes that I frequently use listed in a Recipe index you can find up on the menu bar) and I don't lose it like I would a paper plan!

Truly, the process is simple.

I start by looking in fridge, freezer and pantry to see what I already have on hand(especially meats) and decide what I have available to cook.

I also look at the calendar to see what is going on and what kind of dinner is appropriate. This really depends on whether or not all four of us will be at home for the meal, whether we are having company join us and whether or not we have some kind of activity before or after supper.

Then I just list a meal I know everyone likes for each night. Lastly, I check to make sure I have all the necessary indgredients to make each meal and if I don't, I add those items to my grocery list - which is now much shorter than it used to be!

I used to look at the grocery store flyers on the weekend to see what was on sale and plan menus around that, but that did take a lot of time - perhaps more than the few dollars I ended up saving was worth. Where I DO save money is in two simple facts:
1) I have ingredients on hand to make a fast, nutritious and tasty meal at home instead of buying fast or prepared food which costs more.
2) I am only buying what I need and will use for the week so there is far less waste.

I also use coupons (although I am not a fanatic!) and shop sales to stock up - especially on meats and staples.

That's about it! Really, it's not difficult and once you have done it a couple of times it will only take you 15 minutes to plan your meals for the week. Why not try it? For 15 - 30 minutes of planning you get a week of peaceful evening dinners. Well...I can't guarantee that, especially if you have rambunctious boys like mine, but at least there will be a little less stress over what to serve for dinner!

So with all that in's my weekly menu plan:

Monday: Cheesy Tomato Fish Bake, Rice, Side Salad

Tuesday: Swim night - Chicken breasts done in the crockpot with some bottled BBQ sauce will be waiting for us to serve on hamburger buns along with a salad and raw veggies for the boys.

Wednesday: I am heading to visit my BIL's and (soon-to-be) SIL's new place for a ladies Home Decor Show and Party. I'll leave good ol' spaghetti with meat sauce (already made and in the freezer) for the boys

Thursday: Swimming (last night!!!) Tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches and carrot sticks will fill us up when we get home.

Friday: Homemade pizza and green salad

Saturday: We're hoping to go to Calaway Park for a couple of hours of rides and have a picnic dinner. I'll pack some bunwiches, juice boxes, some fresh fruit like cherries or strawberries and we'll get an ice cream at the park for dessert!

Sunday: Baked Ham, Schwartzies Potatoes, steamed Broccoli and Carrots.

For lots more meal planning ideas and inspiration, check out Orgjunkie every Monday! And if you try menu planning, I'd love to hear how it goes!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New News's hard to believe it has been over two months since I posted. So much has happened:

Move to new house? CHECK
Find tenants for rental property? CHECK
Hire a nanny? CHECK
Start new job? CHECK (Well, official start is mid-August, but I've already been a lot of hours put in!)

Yeah, it's been crazy, but good. It's nice to have a new start, and we have had our share of them lately. We love our new house and are busy settling in before nanny comes to live with us and I go back to work. And I decided to start a new blog to partly commemorate all this newness, but also for a practical reason. My new job is as an administrator of a large urban high school and although I won't be posting anything controversial or negative on my blog, I decided I didn't want my name in the title of a blog or website...a little more anonymity is in order. So, I have transfered all the content of my old personal blog for future reference and will start posting here on a more regular basis again. If you have my old blog marked as a favorite you may want to bookmark this one or follow it in your favorite reader. I will be deleting my old blog in a month or so.

I am excited to share our new home, new recipes, organizing ideas and of course bits and pieces of my cute little family with you!

Friday, May 7, 2010

What's for dinner?

So as of today this is what's in my freezer...

4 Steaks

2 pre-made Chicken Cordon Bleu
1.5 boxes Fish Sticks

8 pieces Salmon

6 Hamburger patties

4 lbs Ground beef

2 packages Chicken Thighs
3 packages of Chicken Breasts

2 Hams

1 Turkey

I NEED to clean out the freezer by the first week in June, so my challenge is to make dinners for the rest of the month without purchasing additional meat. By rough count I can make 21 meals, not including leftovers from things like the hams and turkeys. I may need to purchase the odd pantry item to complete a recipe, but I should be good.

We're having Pizza tonight and I am out Saturday so the boys will have Mac & Cheese, but I will start menu planning with just these items. We'll see how it goes!

Have you ever done an Eat from the Pantry challenge?