Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Beckees Deal with Utah Food Cravings!!

One of my favorite things about going back home to visit Utah is the food options! 

Seriously, there are restaurants in Utah I dream about. In fact, just about everywhere I have lived or frequently visited has foods I crave. When I visit certain places, I literally have a mental food check list for the visit. I thought I might share my favorites here.
 (I tried to make this a Top five list, but couldn't narrow it down to that...)

Places that make it on my mental food craving list when I visit home:
  • Cafe Zupas: Multiple Locations. I cannot go to Utah without eating here. usually multiple times until the rest of the family is sick to death of it. I LOVE it. There are multiple locations as it is a chain, and it's not just in Utah. Try it if you get the chance. You won't regret it. I pretty much dream about the Lobster Bisque soup and the Nuts About Berries Salad! I'm drooling just thinking about it! YUM!  
  • Cafe Rio: Multiple locations. Oh.My.Goodness! Cafe Rio's Sweet Pork Barbacoa burrito served enchillada style-pretty much a perfect food! Made to order as you walk through the (likely to be long, but fairly fast moving) line. Do you prefer Salad? That's ok too because they have awesome Salads
  • CK Cummings: When I think of high quality chocolates and major treats, this is what I am thinking about! NOTHING compares to their Chocolate Covered (Fresh) Raspberries and Cherries. Oh.My.Gosh. HEAVEN! Their truffles are also amazing and their seafoam is one of my all time favorite treats in the world. Yummy. 
  • Yanni's Greek Express: 2761 S Highland Dr, Salt Lake City, UT 84106. This is a close to home favorite. My family is Greek and Yanni's is close to where I grew up. I LOVE the Yanni's special. It is huge! We order 2 of them and it is enough food for my family to share. Seriously! But, SO.GOOD! I haven't been there in a few years but it remains a top fave! (Yanni's does not have a website, but this site has a scanned in, but old-prices are higher now I think-menu.)
  • Crown Burger: Multiple Locations. I haven't eaten anything here I didn't like. If you want a greasy piece of high calorie heaven, make sure to try The Crown Burger! It is amazing. Their Greek food is awesome as well! My daughter orders their Greek Salad every time.
  • Granatos: Two Locations. This is actually an Italian store and deli. My Greek family buys ingredients here for our Greek foods, but we also love the Deli. It is like the best deli food ever. EVER. I always order a hard roll Feta and Tomato sandwich or Meatball sandwich. They have lots more than sandwiches though. Check out the menu here.
  • Smiths and/or Harmons: Weird, why does Beckee insist on visiting 2 grocery stores while at home in Utah? Doubly Weird, why are neither of them her favorite grocery store, the one where she worked in high school and college (Dan's)? Well, I will tell you why.  I have a very favorite, very specific soda, that I can only find sold in Utah at Smith's and Harmon's. Diet Code Red Mountain Dew. Yeah, I can get the full sugar version all over, but I don't drink sugary drinks and I LOVE Diet Code Red Mountain Dew. I literally buy all I can and load up the back of my Suburban with it when I visit. I am sure there is a surge in sales when I am in town. YUM...please tell me how I can get a local store to carry and sell this?!
  • The Happy Sumo: This is my families favorite Sushi place. We go to the one at the bottom of Cottonwood canyon. It is good, and has one unique roll that I love and I dream about, (Mango Mamma Roll, you can see it and their whole selection on their menu here). But honestly, as of my last Utah trip, it is on it's way to being replaced by my next pick... 
  • Ichiban Sushi: Last time we went to Utah, this gem was around the corner from our hotel, so we gave it a try. I will go back for the Lion roll alone, but there were SO.MANY. amazing things on this menu. I did not get to try near enough of them. And the fact I can order take out here...Golden! I cannot wait to visit again this summer! 
Other amazing Places you should not miss in Utah:
  • Nielsens frozen custard: Only missed my list because I am not a huge fan of ice cream or frozen yogurt. But I will tell you that if the craving does come, there is no other place I would want to go. This was also a date night staple for my neighborhood during high school. It is just that impressive. You will want to take a date here (if he or she likes frozen Custard). (Apparently there is a location in Layton as well, in case you are there...)
  • The Pie Pizzaria: Ask any student at the University of Utah (or any alumni) for the best pizza joint. They will likely send you to The Pie. And apparently since I moved they have opened lots of new locations (you used to have to go to the original by the U). HUGE pizzas, really good. Do not miss! (Only reason it's not on my personal must eat list is because I sadly cannot eat pizza these days.)
  • Old Spaghetti Factory: I know this is not exclusive to SLC, but it is SOOO good, and so worth the stop. It was another popular place for date nights as a high school and college student. Great food at a fun location in Trolley Square. Their fresh warm bread is amazing and I cannot resist their Garlic Mizithra pasta. Also, make sure you splurge on their Italian Cream Soda to drink. The drink is awesome as is the souvenir cup you get to take home! 
  • Arctic Circle: Only not on my must visit list because (Praise the Lord) there is one in Yakima!!!! YEAH! So, here's the deal on this fast food gem...FRY SAUCE! The best there is. I often stop there for a Lime Rickey (traditional grape flavored one, not this newfangled cherry version) and fries with fry sauce. On occasion I will get a burger (or a Gyro which they have and are surprisingly pretty good), but for me this place is all about the Lime Rickeys and Fry sauce.
  • Market Street Grill; Oh My Gosh. The first time I realized I might like seafood was when I ate at Market Street Grill as a young girl. It is not super cheap, but it is super good. If you want a nice meal and are willing to spend a little more, eat here. Do it! 
  • Brick Oven Pizza: When I went to BYU (for about a half a year), I ate here a lot. Because it is awesome. But the pizza was not what I went for-eat the Pasta bar buffet. It is SO good! Salad bar + pasta bar = perfection! It is not on my list because I rarely get to Provo, but there is a location in South Jordan now!! Which is where my in laws live, so that's basically awesome!!!
  • Salt Lake Greek Festival: If you happen to be in Salt Lake City near my birthday in September, DO NOT MISS the Salt Lake Greek Festival. You will not find better food (unless you can convince my mom and XiaXia to make you some)! This is the event I miss most every year, and the food I crave the most. It will be crowded, there will be lines, and you may not understand what everyone is saying (unless you speak Greek), but I promise it will be worth it. (Note, this year, 2017, the festival is Sept 9-11).
  • Granite Bakery: Looking for a sweet treat? Want some awesome rolls (that taste home made without making a mess of your kitchen)? Stop by Granite Bakery. (They also do cakes for special occasions, like weddings if you are looking for that sort of a thing)
  • So Cupcake: Do you like cupcakes? You will after you stop here...I am not much of a fan of cake, but I love frosting and occasionally have a craving for cupcakes. So, Cupcake was the first "cupcake bakery" I ever went to and I loved it. I try to stop in for a cupcake or two when I am in town. Try it for an excellent sweet treat!
  • Great Harvest Bread: Bread, lots of different kinds of amazing bread that you will dream about. Really. And that is not all they have-they serve Breakfasts, sandwiches for lunch and tasty desserts as well! Go.Here. (Look at this menu from the Holladay location to see what they have)
I KNOW there are lots of favorite spots I have left off this list...what are your favorites?! 

Top Five Posts on this blog

Blogger has a very nice stats page that it keeps for blog owners. On it I can see what the top posts are on this blog. 

I can look at top 5 of all time, of last month, of last week, and of the day. The top 5 of all time are clearly more likely to have only older posts on it, because they have had more time to accumulate views. But it still gives a good idea of what people are looking at on here. As to the monthly, weekly and daily stats. 

Here are my current top 5 viewed posts on Beckee's Deals.

Top five of all time (from May 2010 – March 2017):

1. closed Giveaway & Review: Skoy Cloths! Ends 12/30: Posted: 12/17/2010, Views: 14131, Comments: 95. What it is: A review and giveaway of Skoy cloths, which I was given to try, review, then to give away a set to someone. 

2. CeraVe Review and #Giveaway!! GREAT prize you could #win: Posted 11/26/2011, Views: 6814. Comments: 6. What it is: A Review and giveaway of CeraVe products which I was given to try, review, then give away a set to someone.

3. New School Years Resolutions: Van's foods and Plackers help out!: Posted: 9/27/2012, Views: 2319, Comments: 24. What is it: A review and giveaway of both Van's foods products and Plackers Dental Products which I was given to try, review, then give away a set of the same items I had received.

4. Lawn Battleship Review (+Amazon Gift Card #Giveaway): Posted: 3/22/2014, Views: 1750, Comments: 1. What is it: A review of my brother-in-laws game, Lawn Battleship. We test played it and reviewed it. Included with this review, I gave away an Amazon Gift card. 

5. #GM Monster Cereal + #Target Gift Card #Giveaway #MyBlogSpark: Posted: 11/24/2013, Views: 1054, Comments:16. What is it: A review and giveaway for General Mills Monster Cereals

What this tells me: If I want more comments and views, giveaways are key. I was already aware of that, but giveaways are also sometimes complicated and I haven't been doing them much, so lets see what is more recently viewed. (The most recent on this list is the one about Lawn Battleship which was posted 3 years ago)

Top five from the last month (Jan 30, 2017 – Feb 28, 2017): 

1. Beckee's Deal with Superbowl Food: Posted: 1/31/2017, Views: 265, Comments: 1. What is it: My thought on SuperBowl Food.

2. Ideas Please! Where would you take Five Kids on Vacation?: Posted: 1/31/17, Views: 220, Comments:1. What is it: Me begging for ideas for vacations with 5 kids (that are different from our norm).

3. Dinner Plans 1/23-1/29/2017: Posted: 1/24/17, Views: 201, Comments:0. What is it? My meal planning for the week of 1/23-1/29. It includes 2 favorite family recipes, "Haole" Haystacks and Sinigang. 

4. Universal Studios VIP Experience: Posted: 5/25/16, Views: 187, Comments: 0. What is it? My review of my family's experience with the VIP experience at Universal Studios. This was one of my favorite posts I have ever written so I am pleased to see in is something people are viewing! Truly it was an authentic experience and review of something I loved doing. Totally un-sponsored, just me being me...

5. Beckee's Deal with Christmas Presents: Posted: 1/2/17, Views: 186, Comments: 0. What is it? My description of our family's movement from "things" to "adventures" or "experiences" for Christmas. 

What this tells me: Well, I post different thing now as my focus has changed from posts on "deals" and giveaways, to more about what my personal "Deals" are. To me this list feels more like me being me. But I learn that my blog readers are interested in reviews of extraordinary, awesome experiences like the Universal Studios VIP post which is the oldest written post (that is still drawing interest this month). Food and vacation topics are the ones I am writing and you are viewing...

Top five from the last week (Feb 22, 2017 3:00 PM – Mar 1, 2017 2:00 PM): 

As expected, lots of repeats here, all the same as the last month, just a different order.

1.  Universal Studios VIP Experience: Posted: 5/25/16, Views: 40, Comments: 0. What is it? My review of my family's experience with the VIP experience at Universal Studios. This was one of my favorite posts I have ever written so I am pleased to see in is something people are viewing! Truly it was an authentic experience and review of something I loved doing. Totally un-sponsored, just me being me...

2.  Dinner Plans 1/23-1/29/2017: Posted: 1/24/17, Views: 40, Comments:0. What is it? My meal planning for the week of 1/23-1/29. It includes 2 favorite family recipes, "Haole" Haystacks and Sinigang. 

3. Beckee's Deal with Superbowl Food: Posted: 1/31/2017, Views: 39, Comments: 1. What is it: My thought on SuperBowl Food.

4. Beckee's Deal with Christmas Presents: Posted: 1/2/17, Views: 39, Comments: 0. What is it? My description of our family's movement from "things" to "adventures" or "experiences" for Christmas.

5. Ideas Please! Where would you take Five Kids on Vacation?: Posted: 1/31/17, Views: 39, Comments:1. What is it: Me begging for ideas for vacations with 5 kids (that are different from our norm).

Top Five from today (Feb 28, 2017 3:00 PM – Mar 1, 2017 2:00 PM): 

1. Beckee's Deal with "Top 5" Lists: Posted: 3/1/2017 (like an hour ago), Views: 18, Comments: 0. What is it? My explanation of why I love Top five lists, and an intro into this post. Clearly on this list because I just posted it right before my daily Beckee's Deals email went out. :)

2. Beckee's Deal with Superbowl Food: Posted: 1/31/2017, Views: 6, Comments: 1. What is it: My thought on SuperBowl Food.

3. Beckee's Deal with Christmas Presents: Posted: 1/2/17, Views: 6, Comments: 0. What is it? My description of our family's movement from "things" to "adventures" or "experiences" for Christmas.

4. Universal Studios VIP Experience: Posted: 5/25/16, Views: 6, Comments: 0. What is it? My review of my family's experience with the VIP experience at Universal Studios. This was one of my favorite posts I have ever written so I am pleased to see in is something people are viewing! Truly it was an authentic experience and review of something I loved doing. Totally un-sponsored, just me being me...

5. Dinner Plans 1/23-1/29/2017: Posted: 1/24/17, Views: 6, Comments:0. What is it? My meal planning for the week of 1/23-1/29. It includes 2 favorite family recipes, "Haole" Haystacks and Sinigang. 

What's the point? Not too much other than it is interesting to see stats on what is being views! It helps me know what to write about. 

But honestly, these are just stats, and I love to hear from you personally. So, if there are posts you particularly like, or topics you would like to see more of, PLEASE let me know!!!


Beckee's Deal with "Top 5" Lists

Admission: I love "Top five" or "Top whatever" lists. 

I love that they give me a concise check list of someones top favorite items of whatever category. I don't always agree with them, but I love to read them. AND I love to make them. Something I love about them is that they are ever evolving. They can change through time. Often when I try something new I say things to my husband like "Oh my gosh, this sushi roll is so good, it might be making it's way into my top 5!" New things can totally kick out the old favorites (sometimes). Other times, I have found that I am much more consistent in my opinions than I realized. 
Let me give you a funny example. I am obsessed Football, and since our family started playing Fantasy Football leagues every year, I have become an expert (in my own mind) on NFL football players. In 2014, one of my Fantasy Quarterbacks was not playing well (as far as my fantasy points were concerned). Whenever he blew it and cost me Fantasy points, I would get a little perturbed at him, but would say something like "He may suck out there today, but at least he wins in handsomeness."  I was taking some harassment at home and on Facebook for this comment, and one day my husband, Wes, said "I am surprised you think he is the most handsome QB, he's not who I would have expected you to choose. Who do you think the other handsome QB's are?" Challenge Accepted! The moment he asked, I began researching pictures of all the current QB's (not fair to just pick 5 without looking at all of them first). 
Then next day, I posted the following picture and comment on FB:
For anyone who has been waiting with bated breath, this is my top 5 most handsome NFL QB's right now (FYI-Brady narrowly misses my top 5 and Armour may never speak to me again...) 

Phillip Rivers
Colin Kaepernick
EJ Manuel
Matt Leinart
Matt Barkley

I took some crap for the inclusion of a 49er and the exclusion of a Seahawk (I live in Washington State). Also my son (aka #TomBradysBiggestFan) thought I was a MORON for excluding Brady (to be fair, I basically excluded him because I thought his looks were over rated). 

A couple weeks ago, one of my FB friends posted the following: 

I LOVE this stuff, so I reposted it and one of the Top 5 lists my husband posted for me to do was top five Best Looking QBs Now, in 2017. Again, Challenge Accepted! 

Here was my answer this time (In no particular order): 

So, Brady finally made it (to the great relief of #TomBradysBiggestFan) as well as Alex Smith. And the three that remained consistent were Phillip Rivers, Colin Kaepernick, and EJ Manuel.

Why do I bring this up today? Because thinking of Top 5 lists lately has made me wonder about my top posts on this blog. So, I am going to try, in the next post, to talk a little about the top posts on this blog, so far. It could be interesting information (for me at least, and hopefully for you as well).

More on that coming soon, in the mean time, feel free to stare at the pictures above of the handsome NFL QBs.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Foodie Finds in Yakima AKA When a self proclaimed foodie moved back to town...

One of my favorite things about going back home to visit Utah is the food options! Seriously, there are restaurants in Utah I dream about. In fact, just about everywhere I have lived or frequently visited has foods I crave. When I visit certain places, I literally have a mental food check list for the visit. 
(Thanks "Oliver!" for expressing my feeling about food so well!)
Knowing my excitement for food, imagine how difficult it was for me to move to a small town where there were only a few food options. Don't get me wrong, Aberdeen has some excellent gems in there, but there is a limited supply. And honestly, in a small town, you can go to the place you crave during normal business hours and find a little sign that they are closed today for just about any reason from a family emergency to a good fishing day. 
Now, although Yakima is not a huge city, it is much bigger than Aberdeen, and as such, it has a lot more options for eating out. I know, I know, I am trying NOT to eat out, but maybe that is why all the good food is on my mind. There are local gems I am discovering as well as chains I am grateful to have close by (Arbys! Arctic Circle!). I thought I would share a few of these foodies fave places to have access to in Yakima! 
My Yakima Foodie Finds!
First up, a few sit down restaurants that as far as I know are local (these are mostly sit down restaurants that are maybe a little spendy. Perfect places for a special night out):
  • Zesta Cucina: This is one of my favorite place right now. I love, LOVE their Crab Cakes served over amazing risotto! Plus any restaurant that serves me warm bread with vinegar and oil on the table to start wins my heart! :) 
  • Kyoto Sushi and Japanese Steakhouse: AND this is my other favorite place. You can get sushi, kitchen items, or have them cook on the table for you (Or any combination of the three). I crave their crabmeat salad! YUMMY! There is something for everyone here.
  • Carousel French Cuisine: Wes and I happened upon this gem one night shortly after moving to Yakima. The building doesn't look like much and you could easily walk right past and never know it's there. But Oh my goodness! It is awesome food. Not cheap, but I loved it. I am excited to go back again sometime soon! (PS, this is the only French restaurant I have ever been to so it was extra special for me!)
  • Second Street Grill: This is more of a sports bar feel place with great food. Lots of options-huge menu, and for those that drink, there is seemingly unending alcoholic options (well, it seems that way to this non-drinker anyway). 
  • Xochimilco: Looking for some great Mexican food? This is my favorite place here for that (so far). Everything is really yummy here. I have tried the fajitas and one of the salads. Both were awesome!
  • Abby's Pizza: I am not sure if this one goes here or in the next category because they will deliver to your house, but they also have a restaurant you can eat at. All I know for sure is my kids LOVE their pizza and think it is the best! They also have lots of other menu items, so I can order something I can eat as well. 
  • Cowiche Canyon: OK, I almost didn't put this one here because they have BLOWN it with my husband to the point that he won't go there now. We go there for the appetizers mostly-they have the best Guacamole I have ever had that was not homemade. But out ultimate favorite item, the one that kept me going back was their Grilled Artichoke appetizer. It is Ah-mah-zing! BUT, even though it is still on their menu, the last two times we went there the server has very snottily told us they no longer serve it, at least for a while. UG. If they get that back, I might return. If you go there, the only Entree I ever eat is the Prawn and Avocado Salad, and my husband only likes their Roasted Prime Rib entree. 
And these may be chains/fast food (meaning multiple locations either locally or nationally), but I am so glad they are here:

  • MOD pizza: My families favorite food for sure in Yakima. The kids request MOD pizza almost every day. Here's the thing that's so awesome about it. You customize your pizza in a similar way to how you customize a sandwich as Subway. They grab a crust and you choose EVERYTHING from there, then they wood fire the pizza for your eating enjoyment. Now, I don't eat pizza (it sadly makes me sick), but they have a delightful option called a pizza salad. They wood fire up a crust which you can eat like bread sticks and make a salad fully customized by you, then serve the salad on the pizza crust. It is heavenly! This is a MUST try place in Yakima as far as I am concerned. Probably the first place I will take visitors when they come to Yakima! 
  • Jimmy Johns: National sandwich chain know for being really fast. Add to that how GOOD it is, and it is a family fave! 
  • Papa Johns: I admit that since we do not currently live in their delivery area, we have not utilized this option yet, but I LOVE that it is here!
  • Arbys: National chain famous for roast beef sandwiches. I have missed Arby's terribly. Yeah for a close one! 
  • Arctic Circle: A favorite fast food joint from high school. I would drive through and order a Lime Rickey and fries with fry sauce fairly often growing up. So glad to have one nearby for the first time in my adult life! My kids are finally discovering the joys of fry sauce!
  • Sonic Drive In: When we were trying to sell our house in Omaha, we would eat here during Happy Hour quite a lot. I absolutely love their Hot Dogs-Chicago Dogs, and New York Dogs are my faves. Add to that a fully customized drink and tots and this is a happy girl. 
There are some good treats here as well (but I am in search of more options for my sweet tooth):

  • Boehm's chocolates: I bought a bunch of local treats here for my brother's mission farewell (he lived in Utah and was called to serve his LDS mission HERE in Yakima!). Lots of yummy treats to choose from here.
  • Johnson's Orchard: I have only bought apples here, but I hear their pies and baked goods are amazing. I am afraid to try them as I am certain it will ruin all my weight loss goals...
Places on my MUST try list (based on recommendations:
  • Waffles Caffe: I have not had the pleasure of going here yet, but Wes went with one of our kids on a father/son date here for breakfast a couple weeks ago and they haven't stopped talking about it. So it is on the short list.
  • Creekside West: I have no clue why I have not been here yet since it is close to home, but I hear it is awesome. 
Any other places I need to add to my list or go check out in Yakima?

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Ideas Please! Where would you take Five Kids on Vacation?

For Christmas this year, Wes and I put it into the hands of our five children, ages 5-14, to "choose their Own Adventure." (You can read more about it in this post, it is adventure 5). We have several other Adventures planned for the year as well. 

When we discussed their choice vacation with them, they all wanted either Hawaii or Disneyland. We love Disneyland, but are thinking of maybe trying different things this year, and we are already going to Hawaii on a different adventure. We are actually pretty good a traveling frugally, which is part of the reason we can do so many fun adventures, but when we are already doing more expensive trips like Hawaii this summer, I asked the kids to think of some less expensive options. Maybe somewhere we have not been before.

So far, they are stuck on Disneyland and Hawaii. I think it is because that is what they know. Thus I decided that we need to broaden our horizons. I bought this book for them to give them ideas:

Sadly, the kids aren't interested in reading through (or even skimming) it. BUT what I think they would do is to discuss and research places as recommended by friends. That is where you all come in. Give me some ideas of places we could go with our 5 kids. What places can I let them google and research as they "choose their own adventure"?!

Please feel free to comment here or on Facebook with ideas. OR you can email them to me if you want to. Really, any way you are willing to post/give me ideas is totally awesome! If I get some responses, I will write a follow up post after I discuss those options with the kids! 

Thanks in Advance!!!

Beckees Deal with Superbowl food

We are a family full of football fans!!

Wes played football all growing up, I was always a fan, and our two oldest boys have played for several years. We have a split family when it comes to which teams we root for, but our most fanatical, vocal fan is our middle child AKA #TomBradysBiggestFan. Wes grew up rooting for the 49ers (don't worry local friends, he has mostly outgrown that!). I lived in Denver in my early teens during which time my friend's dad was the coach of the Broncos, so I have liked them for a long time. BUT as we have lived in Washington state for 5 of the past 8 years, we all kind of like the Seahawks. Well, all but #TomBradysBiggestFan. He is all about the Patriots. And if I am being honest, I am kind of with him these days. #GoPats! In case you doubt his intense fandom, this is what he wore to CHURCH on Sunday LOL:

Regardless of where our alliances fall, we always have a big family party on Superbowl Sunday! I don't make any specific meals, but we basically have appetizers of all different kinds available for people to eat throughout the day. Sometimes I will buy a huge sandwich from like Subway as well, but mostly it is appetizer day. We have a few faves, but we also like to mix it up. Some of the faves that I plan to make this Sunday are as follows:

NOT a low calorie day, but for sure tasty and fun (and low key for me as far as cooking so I can enjoy the game!)

Any ideas of other awesome foods I could add to my Superbowl snack/apps day?! 


Meal plans for 1/30-2/5

I bet you were wondering if I had made a meal plan or simply given up. I actually DID do a meal plan for this week, and so far we have stuck to it, but I didn't post it because it needs to be changed a little bit. 

The Superbowl is a huge deal for our family, and it is especially a huge deal with one of the favorite teams is playing. Those of you that know our family know that my middle son is oft referred to as #TomBradysBiggestFan. Seriously, he has been a Patriots/Tom Brady fan since he was like 3. And I mean he's a hard core fan. Like, we live in Washington State where people are fanatically huge fans of the Seahawks. like almost all the people. In fact, during football season schools, companies, even hospitals have employees/students wear their Seahawks gear each Friday. They call it Blue Friday (It's seriously a big thing. Read about it here.) Well, on Blue Fridays, my kid bravely and stubbornly wears his Patriots jersey to school. Every.Week. Relentlessly! 

So, Superbowl is a big deal. BUT when I was planning this weeks meals, I forgot that Sunday is the Superbowl. We do that say differently as far as food goes, so I need to change the plan for Sunday. I will write a whole post about that in a few minutes. For now, I will post my original plan, but keep in mind that Sunday will change! 

Above is a picture of my plan for the week. (With my notes and all) And for those that cannot see or read the picture, here it is:

Monday 1/30: Turkey Noodle Soup 
Tuesday 1/31: Leftovers! 
Wednesday 2/1: Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese with Salad and Brussell Sprouts
Thursday 2/2: Crock Pot Chili with rolls
Friday 2/3: Chicken Pillows W/Broccoli and Salad
Saturday 2/4: Baked Potato Bar 
Sunday 2/5: Roast, Orzo, veggies, salad (will change to SUPERBOWL food!)

So a few notes and recipes:

Monday 1/30: Turkey Noodle Soup
  • I pretty much always do turkey noodle soup the day after turkey.
  • I feel like my Turkey Noodle soup has really, really bumped up a level since my mother-in-law introduced me to these amazing noodles (which you can find in your local freezer section). Reames Frozen Noodles
Tuesday 1/31: Leftovers
  • Guys, when you actually cook every night, the leftovers can build up fast, so it's a great idea to have a leftover night at least once a week or so. That's tonight's plan!
  • Admittedly, some of my kids will not eat the stuff we have leftover, so we may end up supplementing with PB&J sandwiches or noodles and butter. We will see how it goes.
  • The best thing I did during med school/residency when I was trying to meal plan like a boss, was to plan leftover days, then CLEAN OUT ALL the leftovers after that meal. Pull out all the leftovers from the week, let everyone pick and choose what they want, then when everyone has eaten, get rid of the old food, clean out that fridge! Make room for next week's leftovers. :)
Wednesday 2/1: Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese with Salad and Brussell Sprouts
  • I might change the Brussell Sprouts to a different kind of veggie because we have eaten them a lot lately.
  • This is a favorite meal for Wes and the kids, but it is not low cal, so that's why I make sure that we have salad and veggies with the grilled cheese and tomato soup.
  • Also, since I cannot eat cheese or greasy foods, I will stick to the veggies and Salad for this dinner. BUT just because I cannot have it, doesn't mean the kids and Wes should miss out on a favorite meal!
Thursday 2/2: Crock Pot Chili with rolls
  • This might be my favorite go-to meal in the winter especially. It is SO easy and so good! 
  • EASY is the goal for Thursdays because it is so crazy with kids activities! The crock pot is my friend on Thursdays-lets hope this week I remember to start the food in the morning. LOL
Friday 2/3: Chicken Pillows W/Broccoli and Salad
  • This meal is a little bit of a thing to put it together, so I don't love to make it often, but it is THE favorite of several of my kids. They have requested this meal for weeks and weeks, so I finally put it on the meal plan-on a night when we have nothing else going on except date night for me and Wes!
  • Before I share the recipe, let me note that when I make chicken pillows, the morning of, I take our my small crock pot and put in 2 or 3 breasts of chicken and cook them in the crock pot all day-then I shred the chicken instead of dicing it. Just a little change that makes it easier for me and I like it this way! :) 
  • The picture below is the Chicken Pillows recipe I use (thanks Mom!) 
Here's the typed out version of the recipe:

Chicken Pillows

2 Cups diced, cooked Chicken (or shredded)
8 oz Cream Cheese, Softened (sometimes I use more if I want it creamier)
1-2 onions, chopped
2-4 stalks celery, chopped
8 oz fresh mushrooms, cut
2 (or more-I usually use like 4) packages refrigerated crescent rolls
Melted butter
Seasoned bread crumbs

Gravy: Make a white sauce (1/4 C flour, 1/2 square butter, salt, pepper, and 2 C milk, one bullion cube for flavor) OR open can or 2 of cream of anything soup, OR Mix the white sauce with a can of cream of anything soup (this is what I do)

For the Pillows:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Saute onion, celery and mushrooms in olive oil or butter. Add to a bowl where you have already mixed the cream cheese and the chicken. Mix the veggie in. Drop by spoonfuls on to the center of a crescent roll, Close up the roll and pinch the edges closed. Roll in melted butter, then roll in the seasoned bread crumbs. Put on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Serve with gravy.

Saturday 2/4: Baked Potato Bar 
  • Dare I admit that this is basically another meal designed to use up leftovers? I put this meal after chili, broccoli, and the chicken pillow gravy intentionally so we can use all those items as possible toppings for the potatoes! 
  • Besides the leftover toppings, I will have available, butter, sour cream, ranch dressing, bacon, and various other options. 
Sunday 2/5: Roast, Orzo, veggies, salad (will change to SUPERBOWL food!)
  • Roast, Orzo, veggies and salad is the traditional Sunday meal for my family. It is awesome! But alas, this Sunday it will change!
  • More on the Superbowl foods in another post
  • Go Pats!
And there you have it! Meal Plans for this week!!!


Friday, January 27, 2017

Still rollin with the punches...

Gosh guys! It is a good thing that I reminded myself in that post a couple days ago that sometimes you just have to remember the goal behind your plans and roll with the punches. Because let's talk about this again:

Yes, Meal Planning (gone wrong?). Lest review the original plan:

Monday 1/23: Pineapple Chicken, Rice, Asian salad
Tuesday 1/24: Haole Haystacks, Rolls 
Wednesday 1/25: Ham, Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts, green salad
Thursday 1/26: Crockpot Sweet and Sour Meatballs, Pasta, Veggies, Ambrosia
Friday 1/27: Sinigang, Rice, Green Salad
Saturday 1/28: Beef Stir Fry, Rice, Salad
Sunday 1/29: "Thanksgiving in January" Turkey, Mashed Potatoes with Gravy, Salad

AND here's how it has gone so far:
Monday 1/23: Pineapple Chicken, Rice, Asian salad 
Tuesday 1/24: Haole Haystacks, Rolls 

Wow, made it 2 whole days without deferring from the plan...

Wednesday 1/25: Ham Fried Rice using ham and leftovers from Tuesday

Then it got really crazy, because I blew it, I BLEW IT! on Thursday. I forgot to put the meat balls in the crock pot in the morning. I had purposely done a crock pot meal because I knew Wes was on call Thursday so I had to drive kids all over town to various practices and activities. I figured with Crockpot food ready to go, kids could eat whenever they were home (my oldest daughter amazingly has nothing on the Thursday night schedule so she watched the kids as I drove back and forth between home, practices, etc). BUT I FORGOT to do it. My oldest kids are old enough to cook dinner, so I told them the plan. I mentioned it was supposed to be Sweet and sour meatballs served over pasta with veggies and ambrosia (which I also forgot to start the night before, so that was out). My kids said "so we can make our favorite meal instead with those ingredients, right?!" And Yes, yes they could. Here's what they made: 

Thursday 1/26: Pasta with marinara and  Meatballs.

Today is Friday. Since I was off a couple days, I was DETERMINED to stick to it for the last few days. I did my end of the week fresh produce shopping trip, and what I believe is one of the must have ingredients for Sinigang (daikon/white radish) was no where to be found. I was on a mission. They were out of it at Safeway (which is usually where I buy it). In fact, they were out of it at 2 Safeways. Did not have it at Walmart. So, I thought I would try one last place: Rosauers. And THANK GOODNESS!!! THEY HAD IT!!! So, the plan for the rest of the week will proceed as planned. 

Friday 1/27: Sinigang, Rice, Green Salad
Saturday 1/28: Beef Stir Fry, Rice, Salad
Sunday 1/29: "Thanksgiving in January" Turkey, Mashed Potatoes with Gravy, Salad

I better remember to take that Turkey out of the freezer tonight...

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

When Life gets in the way of plans...

Yesterday when I posted my Meal planning posts, one of my prep/planning steps was "stick to it" or something like that. Guys, I really think that is a great plan, but sometimes life changes plans, and I have always tried to be really good an going with the flow and adjusting to changes. That's ok too, as long as you remember the goal. 

I have to ask myself  a lot of questions to determine whether it is more important to "stick to it" or to roll with the punches. In this case, I asked Why do I want to stick to it with my meal plans? What was the purpose of the plans in the first place? And the answers were that I was trying to save money by not eating out so much. 

So, when my husband pointed out that we ought to change today's meal slightly, I realized that it's ok to do that! On my plan today was Ham, Potatoes, brussel sprouts and salad. BUT last night we had SO much leftover rice and toppings from our Haole Haystacks, that Wes mentioned that instead of letting that stuff rot in the fridge, we should just make Ham Fried Rice (a family favorite) for dinner tonight. GENIUS! 

And so our weekly meal plan has it's first change, but it is one that will still help me stick with the goal of eating IN at home and thus saving money! Yeah!

Plus, I am totally excited for out Ham Fried Rice dinner tonight-it will be so easy and SOOO good! 

My point, don't worry if you need to adjust your plans sometimes, especially if the change will still help you to stick to the main goal!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Dinner Plans 1/23-1/29/2017

Here is my meal plan for this week:
Monday 1/23: Pineapple Chicken, Rice, Asian salad
Tuesday 1/24: Haole Haystacks, Rolls 
Wednesday 1/25: Ham, Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts, green salad
Thursday 1/26: Crockpot Sweet and Sour Meatballs, Pasta, Veggies, Ambrosia
Friday 1/27: Sinigang, Rice, Green Salad
Saturday 1/28: Beef Stir Fry, Rice, Salad
Sunday 1/29: "Thanksgiving in January" Turkey, Mashed Potatoes with Gravy, Salad
A few of the recipes:
Monday's Pineapple Chicken recipe comes from this cookbook:
I don't think I can share the full recipe here (not my recipe), but essentially it is a mix of pineapple apricot preserves, Russian dressing, dry onion soup mix and pineapple poured over chicken breasts and baked. It was really good!
Tuesday's Haole Haystacks is a recipe you have probably heard of under the name "Hawaiian Haystacks" My recipe for this in my cookbook actually lists them as Hawaiian Haystacks. But my Hawaiian friend, Teresa isn't a fan of the name so we now call them Haole Haystacks. 

My recipe has somewhat evolved over the years. When I make Haole Haystacks this is basically what I do these days:
Step 1: put chicken in the crockpot in the morning.
Step 2: About an hour before I want to eat, I shred the chicken from the crock pot. I make a white sauce on the stove top (let me know if you need this recipe-it's simple) add that and one big can of cream of mushroom soup to the shredded chicken in the crockpot. Put it back on High for the next hour. 
Step 3: While the sauces are warming up in the crockpot for the hour, you need to cook the rice and prep the other toppings. I get the rice cooking first. Then I prep bowls of toppings. This is how I prep each item (because this is how I like them):

Broccoli: cut to bite sized pieces and lightly steamed (cooked but with some crunch still to them). I leave some of my broccoli raw because that is how my younger daughter likes it
Pineapple tid bits: open can, drain juice!
Coconut: I just buy a bag of pre shredded coconut and it's ready to go
Water chestnuts: open can, drain water out (if you bought the unsliced ones, you'll want to cut them a bit smaller as well)
Green Peppers: cut in bite sized pieces
Chinese Noodles: Open bag and it's ready to go
Mushrooms, sliced, cooked in butter and seasoned salt until soft and slightly caramelized. YUM.
Carrots, cut and served either raw or lightly steamed (just like the broccoli it can be served either way) serve these raw for this. And because I am lazy, I just buy a bag of shredded carrots, open it and I'm good to go. 
Frozen Peas: defrosted and warmed slightly (I do not fully cook these as I like them to be crisp and not mushy)
Green Onion: just cut it (you can actually use whatever kind of onion you want, but I really like the green onions for this)
Bean sprouts: wash and serve
Snow Peas: I cook these.
Sharp Cheddar cheese: grated

So, once you have the topping ready to serve (I usually put them in bowls), the rice done, and the "gravy" ready, then you just let everyone make their own exactly how they like it. Start with the rice layer, then I would do the cheese and other toppings, with the chicken gravy over the top of it all.

YUM! Cannot wait for this one tonight! I can smell the chicken in the crockpot right now (as a side note, I used the left over chicken from last night combined with a couple more breasts of chicken so I could would have enough).

Wednesday will be simple: we have a precooked ham in the fridge that we will pan fry. I will make either baked potatoes or Potatoes Augratin to go with it as well as baked Brussell Sprouts and a green salad.

Thursday's Crock Pot Sweet and Sour Meatballs is a recipe I am adapting from one I got in this book:

The recipe in this book is from a woman in my mom's neighborhood and is meatballs from scratch with a sauce baked in the oven. As I mentioned above, I am lazy, so I bought pre-made frozen meatballs and plan to use the recipe for her sauce. I am going to try it in the crock pot instead of the oven because Thursdays are insane here. The sauce is basically a homemade barbecue sauce consisting of brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, pre-bottled BBQ sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. I am looking forward to trying this. We will serve it with Veggies and Ambrosia (as requested by my daughter). I will share my mom's Ambrosia recipe another time. It is amazing!

Friday is that Filipino meal called Sinigang which is served with rice and green salad. Sinigang is an acquired taste. I LOVE it, as does my husband and a couple of our kids. Some of the kids will eat just rice and salad on Friday. LOL. The recipe is one from my husband that he got on his LDS mission in the Philippines. 

Before you try this out, make sure you can find a Sinigang flavor packet. We buy either this Knorr packet (this is an affiliate link to it on Amazon):
OR this Mama Sita's brand packet (Also an Amazon Affiliate link):
Here is a picture of the recipe from my Cookbook:

And in case you cannot see the picture well enough to read, here's the recipe:

1-2 Sinigang packets (depending on how strong you want the broth)
2 Liters Water
2 lbs Cubed Pork
1 Daikon (White Radish), peeled and cubed
1 lb Spinach
Cabbage, cut
Green beans
1 spicy pepper, chopped

Season and brown pork. At the same time boil water and Sinigang packet in a big pot. AND cook rice! When water is boiling, add browned pork, daikon, cabbage, green beans, and pepper. Let boil 15 minutes. Add Spinach. Boil another 5 minutes, Serve over rice. 

Saturday Beef Stir Fry served with Rice (use left overs from Friday) and salad. 

Sunday Thanksgiving in January! We have a Turkey in the freezer, so I figured we should cook it and clear our some space in there. Plus we love Turkey year round. It will be awesome! And I think I will just plan to use the left overs for a turkey noodle soup next Monday...look at me already meal planning for next week! :)

This is my plan. Feel free to steal ideas and inspiration or just skip past this and do your own thing! But please wish me luck in sticking to the plan! I am sure I will need all the help I can get to do this. 

And just like that we're back on the meal planning wagon! YEAH!