May 5, 2012

We miss you…San Diego.

Posted in Beef, budget friendly, Destination Meal, easy!, family favorite, kid-friendly, Mexican, snack tagged , , , , , , at 5:21 pm by Maryann

Our family LOVES San Diego. It is a place that is always sunny, has lots of beaches, and tons of great family activities. I am blessed to have family in San Diego. So that makes San Diego even better! Sadly, this year we won’t be able to travel to San Diego because we have to go to another fabulous place in the summer instead, Kauai. Not too bad of a deal right? Kauai instead of San Diego? Well my kids don’t think so. They constantly talk about how much they would LOVE to go back to San Diego and go to the beach. I’m sure they will feel the same way once we come back from Kauai.

So I’ve decided to make one of our family favorite meals inspired by San Diego, carne asada fries. Now my fries are pretty close to the real thing. I make these when I get the “WE MISS SAN DIEGO” whines. It’s actually very easy. Everything you’d want on a taco on fries. I know it sounds weird but it’s oh so good. Make them.

Carne Asada Fries
Source: Simple Recipes
yields  4-6 servings

  • 2 pounds flank or skirt steak

Marinade:

  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeño chile pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin
  • 1 large handful fresh cilantro, leaves and stems, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Toppings:

  • large bag of “fast food” fries
  • sour cream
  • salsa or pico de gallo
  • cheddar cheese, shredded
  • guacamole
  • limes, cut into wedges

Place skirt or flank steak in a gallon size zip top bag. Combine marinade ingredients and pour the marinade over the steak. Make sure each piece is well coated. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-4 hours.

Cook the fries according to the package (I make my fries extra crispy). Preheat your grill over medium-high flame. Grill the pieces for a few minutes only, on each side, depending on how thin they are, until medium rare to well done, to your preference. You may need to work in batches. Remove the steak pieces to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak across the grain on a diagonal.

Per person, place a bed of fries on the plate. Then top with steak then with your desired toppings.

FAMILY REVIEW: A+++
We LOVE this meal! It’s actually quite filling. I have also served this meal with mexican corn. SO GOOD! This meal definitely quenches our thirst when it I get the “WE MISS SAN DIEGO” whines.

Is your family missing San Diego too? Make this meal! Your family will be way too busy eating at your kitchen table and not the beach. For now…tomorrow is another problem within its self. Enjoy!

April 30, 2012

Menu Planning for the week of 4/29 – 5/5

Posted in budget friendly, easy!, Freezer Meal, General, kid-friendly, Main Dish, make ahead tagged , , , , at 12:52 pm by Maryann

Well this past week was just plain busy. Our house was full of sickies including myself and milestones. All in all it was an okay week. This week seems to be off to a great start.

How’s your menu planning going? I surprisingly made my menu last week but didn’t finalize until today. I’ve been utilizing what’s in my freezer and what I could buy reduced price for proteins and veggies. 

Sunday:  Kids weekend with the grandparents – Pool Day!

Monday:  Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Tuesday:  Phad Thai

Wednesday:  Chicken Biryani

Thursday:  Peas & Penne with garlic butter focaccia bread

Friday: leftovers

Saturday:  Paprika Roasted Chicken 

Freezer Meals To Do List for this week
My freezers are STILL full of BAGELS! I think I went overboard on bagels. Oh well. I have made more breakfast freezer meals for this week but I’m sure I’m going to have to replenish soon. I still have a good amount of proteins to bring me into almost mid month as well as a slow-growing ready freezer meals. 

  • BBQ pulled pork 
  • cereal cookies – strawberry jam & blueberry jam
  • stuffed bread sticks
  • french bread sticks
  • pancake and breakfast sausage meatballs
  • Paprika Roasted Chicken


My current freezer meal list:

Breakfast:

  • (6) homemade carnitas breakfast burritos
  • (12) everything bagels
  • (12) mini multigrain bagels
  • (6) english muffins sandwiches
  • (12) homemade belgian waffles

Lunch:

  • Carolina Barbecue Shredded Pork
  • (1) Frozen CPK pizzas
  • (2) English Muffin Veggie & Italian Sausage Pizzas
  • (1) Fresh & Easy’s Mozzarella & Tomato Pizzas 

School Snack:

  • Homemade cereal bars – apple butter & strawberry jam
Afternoon Snack:
  • (10) salmon patties
Dinner:
  • Chicken Gyros
  • Hawaiian pulled pork 

April 24, 2012

Menu Planning for the week of 4/22 – 4/28

Posted in breakfast, budget friendly, Chicken, Destination Meal, easy!, family favorite, Freezer Meal, General, kid-friendly, Main Dish, make ahead, OAMC, Pasta, Pork, Uncategorized tagged , , , at 8:16 am by Maryann

Where did last week go? It went by with a blink of an eye. Did you have a crazy week too?

Here’s my menu for the week:

Sunday: Lunch & Dinner with the in-laws

Monday: Chicken Marsala with fettucine & Texas Toast

Tuesday: BBQ pulled pork sandwiches

Wednesday: Baked Ziti with cheesy garlic bread

Thursday:  Chicken Katsu & Veggie tempura

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: Pork Stirfry

Freezer Meals To Do List for this week
My freezers are full of BAGELS! I snatched up Fresh & Easy’s Everything bagels ($0.87/bag) & mini multigrain bagels ($1/bag). I am slowly replenishing my freezer meals. This month seems harder than last month. We are finally down to the last amount of breakfast foods and there are requests for something new – waffles & english muffin sandwiches. New requests = new recipes! So I’m going to research this week and prep all breakfast foods next week. 

  • BBQ pulled pork 
  • cereal cookies – strawberry jam & blueberry jam
  • stuffed bread sticks
  • french bread sticks
  • pancake and breakfast sausage meatballs


My current freezer meal list:

Breakfast:

  • (6) homemade carnitas breakfast burritos
  • (12) everything bagels
  • (12) mini multigrain bagels
  • (6) english muffins

Lunch:

  • Carolina Barbecue Shredded Pork
  • (1) Frozen CPK pizzas
  • (2) English Muffin Veggie & Italian Sausage Pizzas
  • (1) Fresh & Easy’s Mozzarella & Tomato Pizzas 

School Snack:

  • Homemade cereal bars – apple butter & strawberry jam
Afternoon Snack:
  • (10) salmon patties
Dinner:
  • Chicken Gyros

April 17, 2012

Let’s go to Vietnam!

Posted in budget friendly, Destination Meal, easy!, family favorite, Freezer Meal, kid-friendly, Main Dish, make ahead, new recipe, OAMC, Pork, snack, Vegetable tagged , , , , , , , , at 8:00 am by Maryann

When the hubs and I were dating, we ate Vietnamese food all the time. That’s what I loved about the Bay Area, lots of good Vietnamese food. Living in the outskirts of the Bay Area, we don’t have many options for Vietnamese food. So what do I do? I make my own! I have been on a hunt for an authentic recipe for years. All have been very unsuccessful. They just didn’t have the right flavor profiles. I finally found a recipe that is restaurant worthy or as my husband said, “You should post this on your blog!” So here I am.

The great thing about these Vietnamese pork chops is that the leftovers (I love leftovers!) can be transformed into other dishes – pork vermicelli salad and banh mi sandwiches.


     

Vietnamese Pork Chops
yields 8 servings
Source: Viet World Kitchen

2 pound boneless pork shoulder steak, about 1/2 inch thick

Marinade:
4 tbsp. light brown sugar
2 tbsp. chopped garlic
2 tbsp. yellow onion
2 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and finely chopped (3 tablespoons)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3 tsp. black soy sauce
3 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. oil

Combine sugar, lemongrass, onion, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until smooth (or you can mince everything). Combine everything in a gallon size food storage bag and mix well. Place pork chops into the bag, place bag in a container (just in case it leaks) and marinate for at least 1 hour (overnight is best). When you’re ready to grill, let the meat sit out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Grill on medium-high heat about 3 minutes per side or until cooked through (If I can’t grill outside that day, I usually sear my chops on the stove then finish them in the oven. That way they won’t be over cooked.) Serve with rice, pickled carrots and daikon, and  dipping sauce.

Make pork vermicelli salad and banh mi sandwiches with the leftover pork!

FAMILY REVIEW: A++
I am so in love with this recipe that I’ve made it once a week for the past month! I officially have this pork marinated in my freezer on a regular basis. My kids LOVE the pork chops and banh mi sandwiches. Of course the hubs LOVES it all since he told me to blog this recipe. 

Are you craving Vietnamese food tonight? Make this. Seriously! You’ll never go out for Vietnamese food AGAIN. You’re welcome in advance…to everyone at your kitchen table. 

April 15, 2012

Meal Planning for the week of 4/15 – 4/21

Posted in budget friendly, easy!, Freezer Meal, General, kid-friendly, Main Dish, make ahead, OAMC tagged , , , , at 9:00 am by Maryann

I totally bombed last week’s meal planning. I was so overwhelmed by #4’s birthday party that I didn’t think to make one. Thankfully everyone was well fed and I’ve regained my organization.

I’m utilizing all of the proteins I bought “reduced price” last grocery day. I swear my freezer is still half full. Not to mention all of the bagels I just got from Fresh & Easy’s Today’s Special section for $0.87 per bag. *Wooot* Bagel pizzas are probably in our near future.

This week is full of family favorites. I love that I have an arsenal of recipes I can go to. These are my favorite types of meals. How’s your meal planning? Anything new?

Sunday: Fusilli with sun-dried tomatoes [family favorite!]

Monday: Carne Asada Fries [family favorite]

Tuesday: Chicken Marsala with fettucine & texas toast [family favorite!]

Wednesday: Spinach, bacon, and leek pizza [new recipe]

Thursday:  Sinigang (Filipino dish) [family favorite!]

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: Chicken Gyros

Freezer Meals To Do List for this week
My freezers are full of proteins but not of ready-made meals. My gaol is to make more freezer meals. I haven’t decided what I’m going to create just yet but I’m sure I’ll figure it out. My kids just finished the last amount of breakfast foods. So I have to make them another batch. 

  • cereal cookies – strawberry jam & blueberry jam
  • stuffed bread sticks
  • french bread sticks
  • pancake and breakfast sausage meatballs
My current freezer meal list:

Breakfast:

  • (6) homemade carnitas breakfast burritos
  • (12) everything bagels
  • (12) mini multigrain bagels
  • (6) english muffins

Lunch:

  • Carolina Barbecue Shredded Pork
  • (1) Frozen CPK pizzas
  • (2) English Muffin Veggie & Italian Sausage Pizzas
  • (1) Fresh & Easy’s Mozzarella & Tomato Pizzas 

School Snack:

  • Homemade cereal bars – apple butter & strawberry jam
Afternoon Snack:
  • (12) salmon patties
Dinner:
  • Spicy Chicken Rigatoni
  • Paprika Roasted Chicken
  • Vietnamese Pork Chops

April 13, 2012

Carboholic – Stuffed/Pull Breads!

Posted in budget friendly, easy!, family favorite, Freezer Meal, Italian, kid-friendly, Main Dish, make ahead, new recipe, OAMC, Pork, snack tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 8:00 am by Maryann

I love bread. Any type of bread. I can eat an entire sourdough loaf while dipping it balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Oh…with grated parmesan cheese. Mmmm…I’m hungry. So as you can imagine quite a few meals that have bread as a side dish.

During Super Bowl season, Rachael Ray had fun ideas stuffing bread rounds with your favorite flavors. I decided to try this recipe out for an easy weekend lunch along with our house salad. I also found some inspiration from Pinterest (Do you pin?). This recipe is super easy and you already have everything you need. I made 2 flavors of stuffed breads – ham & cheese with dijon mayo AND pizza stuffed bread. However you can use any of your favorite flavor combinations in stuffed bread. Any flavor. Rachael Ray made a french onion dip inspired one.

Stuffed Pull Bread with ham and cheese with dijon mayo
1 round sourdough loaf
1/2 cup of mayo
4 tbsp. dijon mustard
8 oz. deli ham
1 cup mozzarella cheese
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together mayo and dijon. Set aside.

Cut “rows” into loaf about 1 inch apart. Then rotate loaf 90 degrees and make another set of “rows” creating squares. Spread mayo mixture in between the squares followed by the ham then finally the cheese. Brush the entire loaf with olive oil and wrap with foil. Place wrapped loaf on a cookie sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until loaf is heated through. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until loaf is crispy and cheese is brown and bubbly.

Family Review: A++
My kids loved this! It was fun and different. I served the stuffed pull bread with a salad (Yes, my kids eat salad). The hubs also loved this recipe as well. Later on in the week I also made a pizza inspired stuffed pull bread. I doubled both recipes and make them freezer meals so we could have these treats whenever our heart desired.

Are you looking for something fun for your kids to eat for a weekend lunch? Look no further! Stuffed pull breads are so much fun the entire family can be involved. My girls have since requests and I’m going to begin their requested pull breads very soon. Try this, tomorrow! Everyone at your kitchen table will be so excited to create their very own pull bread too.

 

April 10, 2012

Go Green! Saving money and the Earth

Posted in budget friendly, easy!, General, kid-friendly tagged , , , , at 8:00 am by Maryann

In my recent post about saving money on bills, I briefly talked about reducing our families garbage in half. It was actually easier than you think.

I called my husband at work and let him know that I was reducing our 64 gallon garbage can to a 32 gallon garbage can. He wasn’t very pleased with the decision.

Our conversation when something like this:

W: I just wanted to let you know, I decrease our garbage size. It’ll save us $15 per month.
H: Ummmm…that won’t work.
W: Wait, before you freak out. I have a plan. Let’s utilize our recycling bin more and see where we are in a week. If it doesn’t work, then we can switch back to our original bin.
H: We can’t recycle that much.
W: I bet we can. Let’s try.

My plan of action concentrated on one thing: CONVENIENCE

  • Find everything and anything that could be recycled.
  • Make it convenient for the entire family to recycle.
  • Make it fun for the kids.


What I did:

  • Posted the “Brown Cart” list near our garbage can.
    • 3 out of my 4 girls can read so they could see what they could recycle.
  • Moved our recycling bin near our sliding door.
    • Not the most appealing thing to see but it make recycling more convenient.
  • Allowed the kids to place recyclables in the brown cart by themselves.
    • I know, it doesn’t sound very exciting but they love it.

I’m happy to say that we are well over two-week and we’ve reduced our garbage to half. The hubs is a believer and I am so happy to save $15!

Have you looked what you throw away? I bet it CAN be recycled. Call your local garbage company today and have them send you information about what can be recycled. I double dog dare you to try to reduce your waste. I’m sure your wallet and the earth…will thank you.

* UPDATE: 4/19: I updated with photos because I know ya’ll love pictures. The funnest recyclable item the kids put in the brown bin are the paper towel and toilet paper rolls (well sometimes they become telescopes for pirate adventures or binoculars for looking for wild animals but that’s besides the point). Also the plastic packaging for my ink cartridge is recyclable! So you really should look at what is recyclable. You’d be amazed!

April 1, 2012

Menu Planning for the week of 4/1 – 4/7

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:23 pm by Maryann

This past week was full of appointments, both D’s, dentist and doctor. So I’ve been on survival mode since I haven’t gotten much sleep with #2 being sick. The hubs also worked 3 late nights this past week which means I also didn’t get any real quiet time. By Friday, I was exhausted. Thankfully, I got a full 8 hours of sleep last night. So I am recharged for party planning all week this week. I am happy to report, my sick girl will finally be going back to school after being home for an entire week. Yay!

Honestly, my meal planning didn’t start until yesterday. I wanted to see what proteins I could get for a really good price and work from there. I purchased enough meat to fill my “outside” freezer and last us probably almost an entire month (ALL reduced price)! I also utilized Fresh & Easy’s “Today’s Specials” for protiens, fruits, and veggies for our kids fruits (A huge clam shell of grapes for $0.80! I bought 4!) and our Easter party. How’s your menu planning going? Any good deals?

Sunday: Easy Cooking!

Lunch: Fresh & Easy’s Mozzarella & Tomato Pizzas AND Cesar Salad (total meal cost $3.75)

Dinner: leftovers 

Monday: Slow Cooker Carnitas (family favorite!)

Tuesday: Chicken Adobo

Wednesday: Naan Bread Pizzas

Thursday: Pork Chops alla Pizzaiola

Friday: leftovers

Saturday:  Early Birthday Dinner for #4, she’ll be 5! – Spaghetti & Texas Toast

Freezer Meals To Do List for this week
I reached my goal and utilized my freezer meals and emptied my freezers out. So I am ready to restock! I am still behind on kids’ freezer snack meals.*sigh* Oh well. What can you do with a sick kid. I’m just thankful my “outside freezer” is full again! I am determined to finish these kids meals this week! When this week is complete, my “inside freezer” will be full too. *big smile*

  • cereal cookies – strawberry jam & blueberry jam
  • stuffed bread sticks
  • french bread sticks
  • pancake and breakfast sausage meatballs

My current freezer meal list:

Breakfast:

  • homemade carnitas breakfast burritos
  • (9) everything bagels
  • (8) mini multigrain bagels
  • (6) english muffins

Lunch:

  • Carolina Barbecue Shredded Pork
  • (1) Frozen CPK pizzas
  • (2) English Muffin Veggie & Italian Sausage Pizzas
  • (2) Fresh & Easy’s Mozzarella & Tomato Pizzas 

School Snack:

  • Homemade cereal bars – apple butter & strawberry jam
Afternoon Snack:
  • Carnitas quesadillas
  • Shredded beef quesadillas
  • (12) salmon patties
Dinner:
  • Spicy Chicken Rigatoni
  • Paprika Roasted Chicken
  • Vietnamese Pork Chops

March 25, 2012

Menu Planning for the week of 3/25 – 3/31

Posted in budget friendly, easy!, family favorite, Freezer Meal, General tagged , , , , at 8:00 am by Maryann

Wow what a week its been. Organization has continued this past week at our house. It feels good to purge. What did you do this past week?

My menu planning is still centered around my freezer. I am really trying to empty it out. So far so good. I’m down to my last main dish freezer meals. I’m really excited to fill it up again with new meals. How’s your meal planning going? Is your freezer ready for new meals too?

Sunday: lunch: leftover – Chicken Mami Soup

, dinner: spaghetti

Monday: Burrito Bowl

Tuesday: Vietnamese Pork Chops

Wednesday: Steak & baked potato with creamed corn

Thursday: Baked Salmon

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: Arroz Caldo


Freezer Meals To Do List for this week
Still behind on kids’ freezer snack meals. *sigh* Oh well. I’ll try again this week.

  • cereal cookies – strawberry jam & blueberry jam
  • stuffed bread sticks

My current freezer meal list:

Breakfast:

  • homemade carnitas breakfast burritos
  • (9) everything bagels
  • (8) mini multigrain bagels
  • (6) english muffins

Lunch:

  • Carolina Barbecue Shredded Pork
  • (1) Frozen CPK pizzas
  • (8) English Muffin Veggie & Italian Sausage Pizzas

School Snack:

  • Homemade cereal bars – apple butter & strawberry jam
Afternoon Snack:
  • Carnitas quesadillas
  • Shredded beef quesadillas
Dinner:
  • Spicy Chicken Rigatoni
  • Paprika Roasted Chicken
  • Vietnamese Pork Chops

March 23, 2012

Bargain Trick/Tip: Negotiate/Reevaluate your utility & luxury bills

Posted in budget friendly, easy!, General tagged , , , , , , , , , at 8:00 am by Maryann

I don’t know about you but I’m driving less because of gas prices. If only I could cram 4 kids and a dog into a Toyota Prius, I would. Well…I could…but it wouldn’t be legal. So I’ve reevaluated my driving habits which evolved to reevaluating our monthly bills. Have you looked at your cable bill lately? Telephone? Garbage? Water? Mobile Bill? The hubs and I decided we had to find ways to cut our expenses. Our goal was $110. Inconceivable, right? Well in a matter of a few hours, I managed to save our family about $125/month. Not bad for a few hours of talking on the phone, huh?

Money saving trick: Negotiate your utility bills.

  1. Call the companies and see how they can help save you money. They don’t want to lose you as a customer.
    • What I did:
      • Called cable/internet/phone rate & how to lower them.
      • I also bundled more of our monthly bills together to save even more.
      • Switched companies for a more competitive rate.
      • Placed bills on auto-pay to save on processing fees.

Money saving tip: Reevaluate your luxury bills.

  1. Think of what your family can do to save more money. Can you downgrade anything? Lower cell phone package?
    • What I did:
      • I reduced our garbage cart to the smallest size. This saves us $15 per month just by doing that.
        • Now how in the world can a family of 6 cut their garbage in half? I’ll share that in a future post.
Are you doing the same thing? How is your family saving money? I’d love to hear about it!

Next page