Monday, March 28, 2011

Marinade For Veggies/Chicken

As soon as there is a *hint* of warmth in the air, we bring out the grill. With high's only in the 40's all this week, it certainly doesn't feel like Spring, but that won't stop us. We grill lots of things, but my personal favorite is veggies. In fact, when we started eating healthier, grilling was the only way I could get my husband to eat lots of vegetables! Most of the time I just chop and toss with a little olive oil, pepper and maybe garlic, but lately I've been trying marinades. This is what I'm using for our Chicken and Veggie Kebabs later this week.

2 TBS Red Wine Vinegar
2 TBS Lemon Juice
3 TBS Olive Oil
1 TBS Fresh Basil, chopped ( or dried)
1 TBS Fresh Parsley, chopped ( or dried)
1 TBS Dijon Mustard
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
Salt & Pepper, to taste

2 cups zucchini, sliced
2 cups mushrooms, halved
2 cups sweet onion, quartered and pulled into chunks 2-3 layers thick
Chicken breast or Tenders, cut into roughly 1 inch chunks

** Lots of other veggies can be used. We like potatoes, tomatoes, asparagus, red/yellow/orange/green peppers, etc *

Directions- Mix together marinade ingredients, and pour over veggies arranged in a shallow pan. Refrigerate 2-4 hours ( or longer! Sometimes I leave it overnight)

Arrange veggies/chicken on skewers, and grill for approx. 15-20 minutes depending on how hot your grill is.

Menu Plan Monday

This week, I'm actually going to be home more than I'm at work, so I'm going to attempt a 'real' menu plan. Sadly,when I work a lot of nights, like I have been lately, it ends up being a free for all. Earlier in the week I'm going to be trying to use up what we have in the freezer/pantry, and go grocery shopping on Thursday or Friday.

Breakfasts: Green Smoothies, Scrambled Eggs, Baked Oatmeal, Fruit, Yogurt
Lunch: Grilled Cheese on wheat, Vegetable Soup, Turkey Sandwiches, Veggie sticks

Monday: Crock Pot Beef roast, Steamed Broccoli, One Hour Dinner Rolls
Tuesday: Lasagna, Spinach salad, leftover rolls
Wednesday: Chicken Stir Fry, Brown Rice
Thursday: White Bean Chicken Chili, rolls
Friday: Pork Tenderloin on grill, Grilled Veggies, Roasted Red Potatoes
Saturday-Chicken/Veggie Kebabs on grill, Rice Pilaf, Spinach Salad
Sunday- Dinner with family

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I should've Been Born Italian

At least most of the time I think so. I swoon over olives and pesto, and live for a good pasta dish. When we were in St.Louis this weekend we visited 'The Hill', which is their Italian neighborhood. It is lovely, with lots of small family restaurants and businesses. Even their fire hydrants are painted green, white and red like the Italian flag.

While we walked around and geared up for lunch, we stopped in at this Italian grocery store. It was amazing! Here's what I came out with:

1/2 lb Black Sicilian Olives
1/2 lb Large Green Olives
Balsamic Vinegar
Artichoke hearts
Bay Leaves
Cinnamon sticks
1 lb fresh mozzarella
2 bottles of wine ( 2 for $7! )
3 quarts Extra Virgin Olive Oil ( $15.99, insane! A small bottle around here is $10)

I could have brought home much more but I stopped myself. After lunch at Adriana's- a small place with killer sandwiches, we were stuffed and ready to head home. Oh how I wish we had ethnic grocery stores at home; they beat Walmart any day.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spring, Gardens, and CSA's

Pictured Above: Lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, radishes

This little guy is a brandywine tomato

After last summer's ' just throw something in the ground and hope it grows' attempt at gardening, this year we are trying to plan ahead and plant according to *ahem* schedule. In our defense, we didn't close on our house until the end of May, so we were running against the clock. Even so, we had an overabundance of green beans, tomatoes, zucchini and herbs.

This year, we're starting lots of seeds indoors and planting the cooler weather seeds early. The 'early' crops include lettuce, spinach, beets, carrots, turnips, radishes, peas, kale, etc. We're also tearing down a dilapidated shed in the back yard to make room for a bigger garden that is more out of the way of foot traffic.

Here's a little run down of what we're growing:

Tomatoes- 6 varieties: brandywine, heirloom mix, cherry, tinkerbell, beefy boy,ildi
Lettuce- 3 varieties
Spinach- curly and baby
Green Onions
Peas - sugar snap and snow peas
Zucchini- green and yellow
Bush beans- purple, yellow and green
Peppers- rainbow sweet, jalapeno, sweet pickle peppers
Cucumbers- slicing and pickling
Winter squash mix
Herbs- basil, oregano, cilantro,summer savory, lavender,chives
Red potatoes
Sweet potatoes

...I'm not really sure if this is everything, but its what I can think of off the top of my head. Crazy? Maybe. But why not? We have the yard space and its a fun, cheap hobby that gets our whole family outside. I received a canner when we got married, and haven't used it yet. Hopefully this summer that will change. We need to buy a deep freeze as well. I'm hoping we can freeze/can a decent amount of produce.

We also signed up for a CSA share! I'm so excited Dearing Country Farms is a local farm not too far from our house. They have lots of produce, chickens, eggs and sell beef as well. Each week for 22 weeks we will pick up a basket of whatever produce is ready. That way, I figure even if our garden flops, we'll still have some fresh local produce :)

Can you tell I'm ready for spring?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

It's here!

Back in December, I participated in the Today Show's Jill's Steals And Deals. For those who don't know, every once in a while during the morning show Jill has 5-6 products that the company has offered at a huge discount. You go to their website and order with a Today Show code, and you get that item, usually 50-75% ( or more) off.

I never call in to things like this, but I saw a Christine Price bag that I thought was just beautiful. I don't buy luxury handbags- in fact mine usually come from the clearance rack from Target. This bag was normally $329, a price I never would or could pay. But it was $50! Fifty dollars! For a genuine leather, designer handbag that celebrities walk around with. Holy moly.

Soo...I ordered it, and told the hubby it could be a Christmas present. He agreed, and I waited. And waited. Weeks, months went by, and I finally received an email that the bag was shipped and should be here -no later- than February 18th. Well, that didn't happen but today folks, UPS showed up at my front door with this:

I guess my $9 bag that is coming apart can finally be tossed now. This bag can hold diapers, sippy cups, my wallet and planner, all with room to spare. Now watch me fill it up so it weighs approximately 75 lbs.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Doula? Um...what's that?

This is the reaction I have been getting over the past few weeks as I've told family & friends of our decision to hire a doula for this labor/delivery. As I explain what she will do, they seem to understand...sort of. Nevertheless, I am excited because I think having a labor support person could be a fantastic asset. With my last birth, I was on pit and constant EFM, which made it very difficult to move around.

This time around, my midwife told me that if I did need constant monitoring, I could use a telemetry monitor and have more mobility. I hope I won't, but just in case its nice to know. My blood pressure didn't rise until 29 weeks last time around, so I have no idea if that will happen again. But either way, I think having that person there to support me will help me have the most natural birth I can.

I can't believe I'm halfway there, time is flying. I've got so much to do- we're moving my daughter to a different room and a big girl bed, so I need to get the room decorated. We're also debating whether to attempt potty training before the baby. I've heard opinions both ways. The munchkin is 19 months and I wouldn't try just yet, but I was thinking closer to summer. Any advice?

Healthy+ Frugal?

In our household, we've been on a question for the past several years to eat healthier. It started with throwing out margarine in favor of olive oil, and has gone from there. We're also on a budget, so going completely organic isn't an option at this point. However, I've just placed my order with Park seed company and we're planning on tripling our garden from last summer. So hopefully by August I'll be up to my eyeballs in canning and freezing!

As my pregnancy has progressed, I've gotten past the all day/all night sickness portion, but I still have some issues. As with my daughter, I simply can't eat much, or it comes back up. I've been cooking a lot lately with spinach and kale, because we need to get more dark leafy greens into our diet. But something about the texture of kale makes it hard for me to keep down. is my solution!

1 handful spinach
1-2 large kale leaves, spine removed
Frozen fruit- strawberries/raspberries/blueberries/tropical blend/ fresh banana/whatever we have on hand
Lowfat vanilla yogurt
Dash orange juice
1 tbsp coconut milk powder
1 tsp flax seed

Smoothies! I never knew I could hide so much good stuff in a tasty drink. Its also much easier for me to keep down.

So its not all ( or even mostly) organic..but I figure it's a start. With our gardening efforts coming up, I'm hoping that will cut down our grocery budget while allowing us to eat produce we know was grown without nasty chemicals.