Sunday, July 3, 2016

Meal Plan week of 7/4/16

Hi there!

I feel like I've reached a real "mom" milestone this weekend.  Potty training!! It was every bit as fun as everyone said it would be (also known as... not!).  We're making progress and I'm so proud of my big girl for trying something that was apparently terrifying.  We'll see if we can venture out of the house for some short trips this week.

Here's what's sounding good for dinner at our house!

Monday: Happy 4th of July! Lane is working most of the day, so we'll be celebrating with burgers on the grill, watermelon, and a red, white, and blue version of THIS for dessert when he gets home.  We smoked a pork shoulder over the weekend, so we feel like we got our "outdoor cooking" celebration in. ;)

Tuesday: Stir Fry
I seriously put this on the menu every other week.  It's quick, healthy, and everyone will eat it.  The leftovers are good for lunch, and I'm not heating up the whole house with the oven.  Woohoo!

Wednesday: Barbecue Chicken Sliders
I use this recipe for an outrageously easy crock pot main course.  Serve on slider buns with your favorite sides - it's usually corn casserole and roasted broccoli here!  I am taking dinner to a sweet family that has a new baby and this is a great alternative to the usual casserole in my humble opinion. ;)  I usually bring them a salad(instead of broccoli), fruit, and homemade muffins or cinnamon rolls for breakfast as well.

Thursday: Taco Salad
Nothing fancy here! A bag or 2 of romaine, chopped tomatoes, a can of black beans, frozen corn, ground turkey w/ taco seasoning, chips and cheese.  Lane eats his with salsa for dressing, and I use a couple tablespoons of light Ranch (can't resist!).  Toss it all together and cool off with dinner!

Friday: leftovers!

Saturday/Sunday - we'll usually do breakfast for dinner one night, and get takeout or go out on the other. Hooray for the weekend!

Friday, July 1, 2016

5 things I'm loving

Hi friends! Happy Friday!

How are things? This has actually been a smooth week at the Mandel house! We normally ALL have to detox after a trip, but this week has seemed easy... I'm probably jinxing it by writing that.  HA.  Ruby has been helpful, Holden has been sleeping, dinner has been made, and my house is NOT a disaster (although I wouldn't call it clean!).  All around good!

Thought I'd share 5 things I've been loving lately!

1. I just finished this book and it was good! It was easy to get into, fun to read, pretty enjoyable.  I have a second book of this author's on my nightstand, but I accidentally checked out the large print version from the library, so it's really heavy! And therefore hard to hold in the bathtub. ;)

2. I don't have a ton of time to listen to podcasts, but I have been loving this one.  Jamie Ivey interviews a different woman each week and they chat about everything - faith, marriage, parenting, work, and more.  It's been so fascinating to me to hear about businesses women have started, what life is like being an empty nester, what books I should read next, etc.  It has been so uplifting for me!

3.  Any other nursing moms out there?  This is the best cover ever!!  Nursing at the park while your toddler runs around trying to break a limb or fall in the pond?  No problem - you can chase without fear of exposure.  No amount of kicking by your giant baby can get it off either.  And it's not terribly hot in the summer!  Seriously - it's one of those things I can't stop talking about.

4. The splash pad! It's so hot in Dallas that if you want to get outside, it better be with water.
I'm looking forward to pool days with my kids, but we just aren't there yet when I'm solo. :)  Meeting friends at the splash pad in the late afternoons (after naps) with a Sonic drink is the perfect cure for the "what am I going to do with these babies for 3 more hours?" blues!  Ruby and Holden both love it, and some days I even count it as a bath. ;)

5.  Have you downloaded the Chick Fil A app yet? Order on the phone and they BRING IT TO YOUR CAR.  My phone vibrates when I get to my CFA and when I tap "I'm here", they start making it.  If we're staying to play, I go inside, straight to the counter where my order is waiting, then pull a high chair up to a booth and we're ready.  No fumbling with my wallet while Ruby runs away and trying to order while Holden pulls my hair, OR waiting in the ridiculous drive through line.  Total game changer - just like Walmart online grocery.

That's what I'm loving this week. Hope you have a safe and happy 4th of July weekend!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Easy Weeknight Stir Fry

Okay, here's the deal: if you have kids, you need this recipe in your arsenal.  This can be on your table by the time your 2-year-old can watch one episode of Little Einsteins, and even gives you a couple minutes here and there to step away and give the baby back his pacifier/toy/whatever will make him just. stop. fussing. (And if I'm honest, I did the second half of this one-handed last night because the only thing he wants is to be held while walking around.)

Make life easy and buy this Steamfresh veggie medley in the frozen section.  This means you don't have to worry about any fresh produce going bad, and you get to feel like super woman when you serve your family a healthy meal instead of ordering pizza.  (I see you, Papa John's coupon on the fridge...)

Here's how!

Start by sautéing half a chopped onion in olive oil on medium heat.  I used a red onion because that's what I had, but please use whatever you have.  This is a no pressure dinner.
Dice up about a pound of chicken, and throw it in when the onion has softened.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grate in a couple cloves of garlic and an inch or so of fresh ginger if you have it.  If you don't, no biggie.  Add some garlic powder and dried ginger to the sauce later.
 While the chicken cooks, mix up your sauce.  Chicken broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, cornstarch.
 Say hi to the two year old who wants to "help!"

 Get two bags of frozen veggies out of the freezer and open them! Ta-Da!
 Add to skillet once chicken is cooked through, then stir.  Cook until warm.

 Pour in the sauce, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover.  Cook for 5 minutes or so until the sauce has reduced.
 Replace pacifier as required.
Serve over rice.  Make a big deal about "mini corns" and maybe your toddler will eat it too.  But you never know with toddlers!  Full recipe below.  Enjoy, friends!

Easy Weeknight Stir Fry
adapted from: Lauren's Latest and Hip2Save
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger, peeled
1 lb chicken breasts, diced
2- 12 oz bags Steamfresh Asian Medley frozen veggies
For the sauce:
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
(Use 1/2 teaspoon each of dried ginger and garlic powder if you don't use fresh!)

In a large, nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add in onion and cook until soft.  Add chicken, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grate in garlic and ginger using microplane.  Cook chicken until browned and cooked through.

Whisk together sauce ingredients and set aside.

Stir frozen veggies into chicken and cook until warm.  Pour sauce over chicken and veggies.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover.  Cook for 5 or so minutes while you make your rice.  Serve stir fry over rice and enjoy!  Pat yourself on the back for resisting the pizza man.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Meal Plan week of 3/14/16

Hi friends!
We are back from a fun weekend at my brother-in-law's family's ranch in central Texas.  It was a great trip - lots of relaxing and non-electronic entertainment.  Ruby and Holden loved the extra attention and seeing all the animals. :)  We are tired but refreshed!

Here's what's on the menu this week - it's another short week for us because we are headed to Beaver's Bend, Oklahoma with our small group from church!  We are "camping" and so excited!

Monday: Broccoli Chicken Casserole
My favorite from growing up - I always asked for this for my birthday dinner!  It's basically Poppyseed Chicken with a layer of broccoli on the bottom. Every time I make it, I have to text my mom for the recipe.  I should really write it down...

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
We have a playdate scheduled for this day, and that usually takes the wind right out of my sails (in a good way!) so I'm planning a crock pot meal!  I'll love coming home and having naptime to regroup so I'm a nice mommy instead of a grouch scrambling to get dinner ready.

Wednesday: leftovers (or pizza!)
We're going camping on Thursday and my packing list is a mile long.  I'll take the night off from cooking and we can eat what we have or order pizza if there isn't enough.  That way I'll be able to get a head start on loading up the car with all the odds and ends that traveling with a 2 year old and an infant require!

Thursday: Planning on Pioneer Woman's 7 can soup when we get to our "campgrounds"

I'm also making this Lucky Shamrock mix in honor of St. Patrick's Day on Thursday!  We'll be driving, but it looks like a fun roadtrip snack.

Hoping to make my favorite orange chocolate chip muffins and cookies to take with us, time permitting!  Have a great week - what's for dinner at your house?

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Meal Plan week of 3/7/16

Have you ever seen the show Cutthroat Kitchen on Food Network?  Basically the chefs have to complete their meal while being sabotaged by some other chef in the kitchen.  Some days, that's what I feel like while I'm trying to make dinner - Ruby is taking everything out of every cabinet, I'm tripping over it all, Charlie is licking the floor (he loves nonstick spray?? Whenever I spray it he completely licks the whole floor hoping for a taste- weird), and poor Holden is crying because he hates to be put down.  Whew.  It can get overwhelming quickly!

Having our dinner planned in advance and (hopefully) prepped during naptime takes a little of the stress off of me.  I'm still SO RELIEVED when Lane walks through the door and there is another set of hands there to help! Woohoo for Daddy!

This is a short week this week, because we are headed to my brother-in-law's family's ranch for a long weekend with them and my parents!  I'm going to try to make some special things to take with us, but I won't have regular dinners planned for Thursday - Sunday.

Monday: Santa Fe Chicken and Rice
This is a staple recipe for me.  I can have all the ingredients in the pantry/freezer, and don't have to make a special trip for any special ingredients! I like to always have something on hand so I'm not playing Chopped in my kitchen when it's dinner time.  Although that could be a fun challenge, if 5pm wasn't the worst time of day for a toddler and infant.

Tuesday: Bang Bang Chicken
This is one of our favorites!  It is pretty quick if you do the prep work and make the rice during naptime (I do).

Wednesday: Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup
Nothing fancy! We will be packing up and cleaning up to get ready to be out of town, so I'll be putting my energy into that instead of dinner.

Here's what I'm hoping to make in advance to take with us:
Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls
Mint Chocolate cookies (my sister is pregnant and I think she'll love these!)
Caramel Praline Sheet Cake because I want to try it but will need to share it!

That's it for this week! I'm finalizing my cart online and picking up the groceries tomorrow.  Hooray for vacation and a short week.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Meal Plan week of 2/29/16

Howdy friends!
I'm back with another meal planning post.  We had a busy weekend of house projects (with a toddler and a baby around) so I didn't get around to planning until now! So we are scrounging for leftovers tonight and I have my groceries ordered and set to be picked up tomorrow morning.  I had to got to take both of my kiddos to the doctor this morning, and they both fell asleep on the way home - there was no way I was waking them up to get the shopping done!

So here's what's sounding good (and easy) for this week-

Monday: leftovers (from freezer)
I have stew and tortilla soup in the freezer and I am currently defrosting both for dinner tonight! Ruby loves the soup, so that's an easy one, and Lane is not picky, so he'll be happy with whatever.  I actually have a mom's night out tonight with my friends from Stroller Strides, so I'm glad to have something easy for my people to eat so I can get myself ready to go out!

Tuesday: Crock-Pot fiesta ranch chicken tacos
This chicken is so easy and quick for the morning prep, and then we just have it as tacos (with lettuce, tomato, and cheese) with rice and beans as sides. Easy!  It makes a bunch so we may end up freezing some.

Wednesday: Turkey Meatballs
This is Lane's favorite and I'm feeling nice. Ha!  In reality, it's easy to prep during naptime, and I can try out my spiralizer and have zoodles with them.  I'll make regular spaghetti for everyone else.

Thursday: Pot Roast
I do an easy slow cooker pot roast with a chuck roast, a package of onion soup mix, and a splash of beef broth. So easy and it comes out perfectly every time.  We'll have this with some green beans (from a can- have you tried this brand? we love them.) and some yeast rolls.

Friday: date night!
We are having our first non-grandparent babysitter come to our house to watch our kids!  I have left Ruby before, but she was little (and asleep).  I'm excited to get out of the house and hoping our kids really like the babysitter so she can come back!  I'll make Ruby some macaroni and cheese - from a box, nothing fancy.

Saturday: another Stir Fry!
Still working through that ginger... We don't have plans for the weekend, so we may end up going out, but I like to have something available to make just in case.  You never can tell how our little ones are going to feel about heading out to a restaurant.

Sunday: breakfast for dinner
After we get home from small group at church, it's usually almost 7:00 - so we have an easy scrambled eggs, pancakes from a mix dinner and head to bed.

That should do it for this week!  We don't have much on our calendar except Ladies' Bible Study on Wednesday and maybe a couple workouts with Stroller Strides.  I'm hoping to get some housework done, but you never know how plausible that is (or how motivated I'll actually be when I have a free moment - I'm currently back in bed with a cup of coffee - worn out after our trip to the doctor this morning!)

Have a good week everyone!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Meal Plan Week of 2/22/16

Well, here goes nothing! It's been so long since I've written anything - in fact, we added another member to our family since my last post!  Holden is almost 4 months old and the sweetest, most snuggly little guy.

I have made meal planning a pretty regular habit over the past couple years, so I thought I'd document what we're having in case it gives anyone else any ideas!  Some of the ideas may be new things we're trying, but most will be tried-and-true, toddler approved, easy to prep during naptime, or under 30-min meals.  We're in survival mode most days around dinner time here, but I've found that planning what's for dinner in advance helps me immensely!

Here's what sounds good this week.

Monday: Stir Fry
I used Walmart's online grocery ordering for the first time last week and loved it! When I ordered, though, I didn't pay attention to how much ginger I was buying, and I ended up getting a whole pound!  We'll be trying to use that up for a while. ;)

Tuesday: Southwest Wraps
These are good with rotisserie chicken, taco ground beef/turkey, or this crock pot chicken recipe!  I usually keep the components all separate for Ruby's dinner and serve with fruit.

Wednesday: leftovers!
I pack leftovers for Lane's lunch every day, but we usually need a leftover night anyway to make sure we aren't throwing away a bunch. And I enjoy a night off! (kinda-- does it count if you still have to wipe up the floor and do dishes?)

Thursday: Tex Mex Macaroni
Ruby turns two, so I'm making her favorite!  I'm also making a Pink Lady Cake for dessert.  We'll see if naptime really allows for all that. I have a box mix on standby!

Friday: Crock-Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
My favorite crock pot recipe!  We love all the veggies in this and the seasoning tastes amazing.  I use Swanson's Mexican flavored broth to amp up the flavor.  I usually can find it at Target, but don't make a special trip.  It's really good as is!

Saturday is our anniversary so we'll be going out, and Sundays we have our small group at church until about 6:30pm, so dinner is definitely something easy like scrambled eggs and Kodiak Cakes.

That'll do it for this week!  I'm hoping to keep posting regularly - but we shall see what these two allow. :)