Monday, February 25, 2013

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Every morning for the past few years, I've used protein powder to make a breakfast shake for an extra boost to start my day. Good quality protein powder is pricy, though, so I began to think about using real food ingredients instead of powder. I've been amazed at how much more satisfying my breakfasts are now!

Here's what I use:

1 banana, broken into small chunks and frozen
1/4 cup natural, no sugar added peanut butter
1 TBSP coconut oil
1 cup almond milk (I use unsweetened vanilla)
honey to taste - I use just a squeeze

Place all the ingredients into a blender and turn on the smoothie setting - if you have one. Otherwise, high will do. Blend until you reach your desired smoothness.

The frozen banana chunks make this smoothie nice and thick. If you don't like your smoothies as thick, just add some more almond milk.

The natural peanut butter lends a little graininess and texture. Occasionally I will throw in some ground flax meal for a little fiber which also adds a gritty texture.
I drink this smoothie around 9:00 am and it keeps me going until lunch time. This is a great afternoon pick-me-up snack, too. No matter what time of day, I like knowing that I'm getting my protein from real food ingredients instead of processed powder.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Menu Plan February 25-March 3

This week is going to be a busy one! Our church is holding its annual missions conference, so we'll be spending a good deal of time at church. I'll also be providing some food to feed our visiting missionaries, as well as preparing food for the International Dinner on Friday. It's a church tradition to prepare foods from around the world and share in a potluck setting. I think I'll make a large crockpot full of Indian Butter Chicken.

Now here's the rest of the week's menu:

Italian sausage and potatoes (crockpot)

Cheesy chicken and tater tot casserole (crockpot), green beans

Pizza sloppy joes, fries

Beefy Spanish rice, black beans (Chili's copycat recipe)

International Dinner at church

Hot dogs with West Virginia hot dog sauce

Grilled chicken and veggies

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Menu Plan Monday at Organizing Junkie.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Phineas and Ferb Birthday Party

We had Mr. Lego's 12th birthday party a couple of weeks ago. He chose Phineas and Ferb as the theme. I don't know about you, but I find Phineas and Ferb hilarious! It's just as fun for adults as it is for kids.

Because he's getting so mature and grown up, he really didn't want a lot of decoration and fuss. Sad, huh? So we pretty much confined our decorations to the table, most of which I found at Wal-Mart.
The best part was coming up with some fun games! I found several ideas online and customized them for our party. Want me to share?

All of these were based on episodes, sayings or songs from the show.

My Undead Mummy and Me - we divided into teams and had each team wrap one of their players with toilet paper.
I Know What We're Going to Do Today - I had a box of craft supplies and all kinds of household stuff. Each team chose something they were going to do - build the best race car ever, go to the moon, or create a time machine.
The best race car ever!

Busted! - Candace is always wanting to bust her brothers, but this game consisted of balloons and dollar bills. We inflated several balloons, stashing rolled up dollar bills inside several of them. Then the kids had to pop the balloons, looking for the cash which they got to keep. Lots of fun, but I don't have any pics of this game. I was laughing too hard!

Where's Perry? We hid a plush Perry figure for the boys to find. At the beginning of each episode, Perry the platypus sneaks off to become Agent P, only to return at the end of the show as if nothing had happened. In our case, Dr. Doofenshmirtz had kidnapped Perry and left clues throughout the house. The kids raced around trying to find the next clue - under the sink, on the ceiling, on the sunporch, then ultimately in our garden shed. This one had them stumped a couple of times, but they worked together to rescue Perry!

I had a couple of more things planned - making slime in Dr. Doofenshmirtz's evil lab and playing inflatable guitars. The inflatable guitars were supposed to come in packs of 12. Twice the company sent me one guitar only. I finally gave up on that one. We didn't make the slime because everyone was eager to eat some cake and open presents.

So now my little boy is all grown up. Or so he thinks.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Baked Ravioli

We love Italian food around here, and this dish is a cheap, easy way to recreate the flavors of lasagna without most of the work. It's quick, too! In just 30 minutes, I can have a warm, filling dinner on the table for my family.

Let me show you how easy this is.

Here's what you need:

1 jar (26 oz) spaghetti sauce - I use homemade
1 bag (25 oz) frozen beef ravioli
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Spread half the sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Arrange one single layer of frozen ravioli in the sauce. (You will have some ravioli left.)
Drop the ricotta cheese by spoonfuls over the ravioli.
Sprinkle with half the mozzarella cheese.
Now toss in any additional ravioli. Pour the rest of the sauce over all, then cover with the remaining mozzarella. Cover the pan with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Menu Plan February 18-24

We had a lovely week celebrating Mr. Lego's birthday, then Valentine's Day. Look at these lovely flowers I got from my sweetheart! He surprised me with a gorgeous bouquet.
Other than that, we're just waiting for spring and the warmer weather that comes with it! How about you? Are you ready for spring yet?

Now, on to this week's menu.

Spaghetti, garlic bread

Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, crispy potato wedges

Baked egg rolls, rice

Broccoli cheese soup, pretzel bread

Chicken pot pies

West Virginia pepperoni rolls

Pizza sloppy joes

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Menu Plan Monday at Organizing Junkie.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lego!

Today my boy is twelve years old! Twelve!

My little guy (and I do mean little) the day after he was born.
He was nine weeks early. You can read more about his birth story here. Those first few harrowing days and the following weeks of his hospital stay are forever etched on my heart.

And here he is today.
I caught him reading!
He brings such joy to my life. He is smart, creative and has a dry sense of humor like his dad. I can't wait to see how God is going to use Him in the future!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Steak Bites

All of us love a good steak around here. When Mr. Lego was just learning to read, we went to a restaurant he wanted to order "steek." We have laughed about that for years!

I adore this recipe because even though I do most of the meat-cutting, cooking time is minimal and everyone is happy, happy, happy! There is no great secret to the seasoning, either - just butter, salt and pepper. Sometimes simpler is better!

Here's what you need:

1-2 lbs. sirloin steak, cut into bite-sized pieces (you can ask your butcher to do this for you)
sea salt and pepper to taste
3 TBSP butter

Season the steak bites liberally with sea salt. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes. The salt helps break down the fibers in the meat and makes for a more tender end result. Then sprinkle with pepper to taste.

Heat a skillet very hot. Melt about half the butter in the skillet. Add half of the steak bites at a time. Cook on one side without disturbing the pan. Flip the bites over after a minute and cook for another minute. You still want the meat to be a little pink, like a medium cooked steak. Remove from the skillet and add the remaining butter. Allow it to melt and heat up, then cook the second batch of meat.

When all of the meat is cooked to your liking, pour the pan juices over the entire batch.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Menu Plan February 11-17

We had a lovely weekend with my brother's family who came to visit. Until Sunday dinner. I had put two roasts in the crockpot to make Savory Beef Roast while we were at church. Apparently my crockpot had some issues I didn't know about because it didn't heat at all! And yes, it was plugged in and turned on. High, as a matter of fact.

Thankfully my husband had no problem at all high-tailing it to KFC to save the day! I put the roasts into the oven to cook, but we'll be eating them later this week and I'll probably freeze a little, too. You just never know when something might go wrong in the kitchen, so it's important to be flexible.

Now on to the rest of the menu:

Roast beef sandwiches, fries

Lasagna - Mr. Lego's request since today is his birthday!

Chicken shawarma, flatbread

Steak bites (recipe to come), twice baked potatoes

Beef and bean taco bake, Mexican rice

Toscano soup, pretzel bread

Tasty tilapia, broccoli

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Menu Plan Monday at Organizing Junkie.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Crockpot Roasted Potatoes

I love using my slow cookers. As in plural. I have three that get regular use. Two of them are large 6-qt. ones, then I have a smaller 4-qt one. It's not unusual for me to have two, and sometimes all three, going at once.

This recipe is perfect when one slow cooker is being used for a large roast or other main dish meat. But you can make these potatoes anytime. They're so easy!

Here's what you need:

2-3 lbs. small potatoes, depending on how big your crockpot is
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 TBSP dried parsley
1 teas garlic powder
1 teas sea salt
1/2 teas black pepper

Wash your potatoes well, removing the dirt from the skin. Leave the skins on. Place in a lightly greased crockpot.

Combine the butter and seasonings. Pour over the potatoes. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or on high for 3 hours.
You'll know they're done when you can pierce them easily with a fork. Remove the potatoes from the crockpot and pour the liquids over them before serving.
Simple and delicious!

*Note: You can cut the potatoes into wedges if you like. Adjust the cooking time accordingly, though. It won't take as long for them to cook through. However, I like just throwing them in there whole....takes less prep time!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Menu Plan February 4-10

We had a busy weekend. We bought a new mini-van, a 2012 Kia Sedona! So this week is going to be spent trying to get insurance and registration taken care of. Then my brother and his family will be coming for the weekend. Lots of cousin adventures sure to be had!

I have to say that with as busy as we are, I'm convinced that menu planning saves my sanity every week. I shop for groceries and have things I need on hand, even if I don't prepare a meal on the specific day I planned to. Flexibility is a good thing! If you're not a meal planner, try it and see how it can simplify your busy life!

Now here's what we've got planned:

Tilapia po'boys, waffle fries

Southwestern Stuffed Pepper Soup (new recipe), pretzel bread

Indian butter chicken, rice

Mexican pasta, black bean and corn salad

Chicken noodle soup, yeast rolls

Hot dogs with West Virginia hot dog sauce

Savory beef roast, crockpot potatoes (recipe to come)

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Menu Plan Monday over at Organizing Junkie.