Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Meal Plan: June 24 - June 30


I'm in a meal planning rut.  I have a number of go-to recipes, but I'm starting to look for some new, simple meals.  My summer class starts tomorrow too, so I need simple and something that travels well.

In that spirit, I'm going to try to post my meals for the week to inspire my readers (Hi Mom, Sara, and MJ).

Last Week:
 - Monday - Chicken Parm (Jason makes the most amazing chicken parm in our cast iron skillet)
 - Tuesday - Quesadillas (I went meatless with black beans)
 - Wednesday - Cayenne Lime Chicken with Rice and Mango salsa (one of my favorites)
 - Thursday - Burgers and red potatos
 - Friday - Dinner at J's parents
 - Saturday - Wendy's (we eat out so little anymore, and we had spent the entire day out and about)
 - Sunday - Dinner at my parents' house (Dad's burgers!)

This Week:
 - Monday - Nancy's Chicken Salad (It's not for sandwiches; it's a chunky salad with very little mayo)
 - Tuesday - Tacos (Beef tacos with DIY seasoning)
 - Wednesday - Crock Pot Pork BBQ (Jason cooks!)
 - Thursday - Cheesy Crab Soup
 - Friday - Breakfast for dinner (Pancakes, eggs to order, and bacon)
 - Saturday - Out of town
 - Sunday - ? (We almost always end up with leftovers, an invite out, or dinner with our parents, so we'll just move meals around if need be)

I only want to eat cold things for dinner, but that's pretty difficult.  The chicken salad was the perfect dinner for last night, so if you have any similar suggestions, I'd appreciate them.

- M.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Sleepy Chef's Workstation

Jason has developed a passion for cooking and baking over the last few years, and it is hopefully going to grow into a business in the next few years.  He bakes something good at least once a week, but it made our kitchen table into his workstation, meaning that we didn't have a kitchen table.

A few months ago, we purchased an Expedit bookshelf from the "as-is" section of IKEA.  It had a small cosmetic flaw, but is lovely otherwise.  We thought we'd use it as a bookshelf (duh), but over time, Jason realized it would make a wonderful kitchen storage piece.  

This weekend, my dad and Jason put on their toolbelts and got to work.  The biggest project was attaching the wheels.  They bought strong, silver wheels with locks.  

In total cost: 
 - Expedit bookshelf (AS IS): $35 (normally $90 for the 8-unit)
 - Expedit cabinet door: $20
 - Expedit insert with drawers: $25
 - 6 locking wheels: about $5 / piece

IKEA makes kitchen islands and carts with wheels, but nothing like this.  Even if we had bought the largest cart with wheels, we would have spent at least $100 more!

Really, it's just a matter of attaching the wheels evenly on the bottom of the bookshelf.  With the wheels, it's the perfect height, and when we don't need the extra counter space, we can roll it to the side.  

It's already in use!

The wheels.

- M.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Buzzing Around

I like schedules, especially, oddly enough, ones that other people dictate.  I can negotiate with myself to the point of getting nothing done, but if something outside myself is riding on getting a task completed, I'm motivated.  I like having solid deadlines.

This personality trait is something I'm trying to overcome.  I need to be more of a self-starter in my home life.  At school?  Well, graduation is my deadline and the sooner that happens, the sooner I get my life back.

I made a chore schedule (today was laundry day!), and Jason and I meal plan each weekend so we avoid getting lazy and eating out.  The only reason I've eaten out in the last week is because I went to Tyson's Corner with my parents and sister on Sunday.  As a couple, we probably won't eat out until possibly Saturday since we are going out of town.  However, we're going to a picnic, so we may not need to.

I have a list of things that I would like to get done before my summer class starts in a few weeks, and I made a lot of progress in the last week:

 - Started all of my commissions.
 - Started Elliott's crochet blanket for his big kid bed (for whenever that move happens...we're not messing with a good thing)
 - Purchased supplies for some DIY projects
 - Created meal planning cards (grocery list on the front, procedure on the back).
 - Cleaned out my closet and donated items (my sister benefitted with TWO dresses from White House Black Market).
 - Worked on school work

Nothing really completed, but I have finished the last few days feeling that the day was well used.

This isn't a recipe blog...but:

Tonight I made a crock-pot dinner (Chicken Lime Tacos) and a yummy dessert.

Chicken Lime Tacos

 - 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast
 - 3 T. lime juice
 - 1 T. chili powder
 - 1 c. frozen corn (or canned)
 - 1 c. salsa
 - tortillas
 - (optional): tomatoes, lettuce, avocado, cheese, sour cream

1. Place chicken, lime juice, and chili powder in slow cooker on low for 6 hours.
2. Shred chicken and stir.
3. Add corn and salsa.  Let heat through.
4. Top with deliciousness and serve.

Black Bean Brownies

 - 1 medium can of black beans
 - Water
 - Brownie mix

1. Drain black beans and rinse both beans and can.  Preset oven to 350 (or what your mix recommends)
2. Replace beans into can.
3. Fill can with water (with the beans inside).
4. In a processor, bullet, or blender, puree beans and water.
5. Mix in with brownie mix.  Do not use oil or eggs!
6. Pour into pan (I used a 8" x 8")
7. Bake for time recommended for pan size (mine took about 40 minutes).
8.  Let cool and enjoy!

I also put some sprinkles on, but that's because the blog I got the recipe from showed the brownies with sprinkles and it looked so good.  These are very fudgey and dense, so be aware.  They are REALLY good with ice cream (kind of like Dairy Queen's Oreo Brownie Earthquake).

Have a lovely week, and see you back here soon!

- M.