Menu Planning Monday- On Tuesday

Well, after a busy weekend, I really struggled yesterday with any sense of normalcy.  Dinner was pretty much planned on the fly, I had other things on my mind, and I confess, I only thought about MPM once in the morning.  Other than that, I guess I just completely forgot about it this week.  Whoops!  Since I cannot possibly let two weeks in a row go by, I better get something down for the week.  Let’s give it a shot this morning.   Since my mojo is missing, it looks like it’s going to be another pantry week around here, as a big grocery shop doesn’t look like it’s in the cards in the next few days.

Sunday: BBQ Ribs from freezer, Cali-blend veggies, creamy rice, applesauce

Monday: Easy Baked Chicken, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Noodles, Corn for kids

Tuesday: Chicken Soup, Homemade Bread

Wednesday: Slow-Roasted Cola Pork Roast, Potatoes, Pear Slices, Easy Glazed Carrots

Thursday: Tacos with leftover pork, Corn Muffins, Sober Borrachos

Friday: Homemade Pizza Night, Fresh Fruit, Salad

Saturday: Some kind of Greek-inspired chicken

While I am a day late in participating this week, so many other people aren’t!  Would you believe that there are 453 people already participating this week in Menu Planning Monday?  That is an amazing amount of meal planning inspiration, and well worth checking out.  Head on over to I’m An Organizing Junkie for the complete Menu Planning Monday round-up.  And don’t forget, you can participate too! I’ve found it well worth my time and effort to keep up with the menu planning, and MPM helps keep me accountable.

Spring Cleaning For Normal People: The Real World

The real world is that no matter how good our intentions are, the spring cleaning may not get done as it should.  So this week is catch-up week.  Crystal confessed that she didn’t do one lick of last week’s challenge, so this week, everyone is getting an opportunity to get all caught up.  It’s your opportunity too! It’s an opportunity to jump right in and get caught up, because there are still several weeks to go in Spring Cleaning For Normal People.  Just imagine, spring finally arrives with all it’s beautiful fresh breezes, birds chirping, and overall warmer weather.  While all your neighbors around you are frantically cleaning their homes, you’re throwing open your windows and going for a leisurely walk, because your deep cleaning is done.

For my part of catch-up week, I still have to pull out my stove and fridge and clean behind them, and I need to give my kitchen cabinet fronts a washing.   I didn’t participate in the living room challenge, so I’m thinking that I should also at least vacuum out the furniture, and slide it out and vacuum underneath.  Maybe, if we’re feeling really ambitious, we’ll give the living room carpet a scrubbing.  Okay, so maybe that’s a little far-reaching.  Still, it would give Andy a project…

To participate, head over to Biblical Womanhood to get caught up.

Menu Plan Monday- Break Week

I guess I’ll be taking a break this week from Menu Planning Monday.  I don’t really have anything to plan!  Tonight we’re having leftovers from last night’s Fajita-Fest with friends.   Wednesday night we’re having dinner with Ma & Pa, and this weekend we’ll be busy away with church fun, so that really leaves Tuesday and Thursday.  Except that Tuesday is dance night, so that’s the night we throw something in the crock pot, usually soup.  And Thursday, well, we have to be out of here kind of early, so it will likely be a breakfast-for dinner night.  So I suppose that’s a meal plan of sorts, but not very inspiring.

For real inspiration, head on over to Menu Planning Monday at I’m An Organizing Junkie.  I promise you’ll find much better inspiration than you’ll find here!

Finishing This Week’s Spring Cleaning Challenge

I had a really off day yesterday.  I just didn’t feel quite right all day, and after I managed to clean the pantry and picked Zander up, I thought about taking it easy the rest of the day.  As I sat though, thinking about how I refuse to get sick in any way, I was also thinking about how if I was coming down with something, I probably wouldn’t get to finishing this week’s spring cleaning challenge.  That did it, and in the after-school hours when the kids play together nicely, I took the opportunity to tackle the spice cabinet and the miscellaneous cabinet next to it.  Here are their photos.

Scary, I know.  I really didn’t want to do the spice cabinet, to be honest (The one on the left, and yes, it really was that messy.)  And that miscellaneous cabinet just makes me mad every time I clean it out because it’s not a good size for much of anything.  The only thing I really use consistently out of it is the measuring cups.  Other than that, the cabinet holds my bulk teas and a lot of random bits of stuff that don’t fit anywhere else.  I also learned a really good reason why I need to keep my spices organized:

See those?  The yellow ones are obviously mustard seeds, but the other package?  It is common for me to have both whole cumin seed and whole fennel seed on hand, but I have no idea which one this is at the moment.  I chewed one up and thought the anise really came through, so the other day I used it as fennel seed in a dish for dinner.  Except the dish didn’t taste quite right, and the resulting dish tasted like it was maybe more cumin than fennel.   If it was cumin seed, I would have thought that I would have put it in with my container of whole Indian spices, since that’s where it gets used most.  But it’s not there, so I remain clueless.  I don’t have any other samples of either seed at the moment, so I’m just going to have to set this package aside until I remember to pick up more fennel and cumin.  Then I’ll know what it is.  If I had an organized cupboard, I wouldn’t run into problems like this.

It didn’t take very long to go through the spices though, and I managed to throw out, oh, about a dozen empty containers, plus a small handful that were really old or expired, and some white wine vinegar that smelled rancid.  Rancid vinegar? What’s up with that?

In the end, my miscellaneous cabinet is still miscellaneous, but I did decide to put my Foodsaver accessories into it to keep them all in one place.  Where previously they were scattered all over, now they are in one spot.  It may not look very organized- but it is.  If I think of it and can find the right size, this would be the perfect spot for a small basket or tote.  It’s obvious the spice cabinet was organized.  It’s much neater and cleaner, and I know everything that is in there.  I was thrilled to find a container of sea salt, as I thought I was out and was trying to figure in a time to make a trip to Penzey’s.  Now I’m good for a while yet.

As soon as I’m done typing here, I’ll be heading to the kitchen to sweep and mop the floor and the challenge will be complete for the week.  Thanks Crystal for the motivation!

It’s A Beautiful Thing!

I woke up to snow this morning.  Grr.  With Andy traveling, that meant that I was on snow-removal duty.   It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but I really hate shoveling.  However, over the last few weeks, as I’ve been doing my step workout, I was trying to figure out what I could do to incorporate more upper-body.  Guess I had my answer this morning.  So instead of a step workout, I changed things up with an upper body workout in the snow.

After working up a sweat doing that, I decided there was nothing for it but to tackle the pantry.  I can’t just keep putting it off, or how it will work is that I won’t get to it by the end of the week and then I’ll be busy beating myself up.  So I emptied the contents, washed the shelves, washed the floor, and then assessed everything before it went back in.  Some things I had duplicates of, so those went downstairs to the kitchen annex.  Some things were expired and needed to be tossed, but mostly, it was just mostly reorganizing and rearranging.  I can actually see in my pantry again!

I didn’t think it looked that messy before, but now that I can compare the before and afters, I guess it needed to be taken care of.

That’s not too bad for a morning’s work.  Next I’ll be tackling my spice cabinet and the narrow, almost useless cabinet next to it.  I know everyone has one of those, one of those cabinets that just isn’t a good size for anything- this is that cabinet.  Once I get those two things done, I will have completed this week’s challenge.  Curious as to who else is submitting to this madness?  Head on over to Biblical Womanhood for a round-up.

Spring Cleaning For Normal People: Kitchen, Part B

You knew more was coming in the kitchen right?  I knew, the second I mentioned in last weeks post about the pantry, that it was coming.   This week’s task is multi-step.  First, we need to empty out our pantry and cupboards, then clean the cupboards and pantry, and then put everything back in, in a nice tidy, orderly manner of course.

Fortunately for me, cleaning out the pantry is a regular occurrence, thanks to our friends the ants, who seem to show up at least once every year.  Last year they visited several times, so I had to come up with a better method of storing stuff.  However, the last time I cleaned the pantry was just before Thanksgiving, because I wanted an assessment of the baking supplies, and since then… well, it gets a little haphazard just throwing things in and out.  The kitchen cupboards though, don’t get a regular cleaning like they probably should.  In fact, just the other day I was rummaging through my spice cupboard, and I know that needs to be cleaned desperately, so I’m happy for this little challenge to get me going.  Except that means I actually have to do it.

This one will probably take a good part of the week.  I have many kitchen cupboards and a decent sized pantry, so I can’t just take everything out- I will have to do it methodically, one cupboard at a time. But it will be nice to sort through everything, and maybe get rid of a few more pieces of stuff just hiding away.  I got a head start yesterday by, (finally!) packing away the Christmas dishes and getting back out the everyday ones.  I also took a photo of the current state of the pantry.  While it’s not terrible, it’s obvious that it does need some attention.   After seeing the before and afters of the fridge, I’m expecting good things of the pantry.

If you want to participate in Spring Cleaning For Normal People, it’s not too late!  Pop on over to Biblical Womanhood for this weeks complete itinerary.

Zander’s Turn At Menu Planning Monday

I took a slightly different approach to this week’s menu planning.  First of all, Andy is going to be gone this week, as he’ll be traveling and visiting his parents, so that makes a huge difference in menu planning.  And secondly, when Zander asked what I was doing, and I told him, he offered to help pick what’s for dinner this week.  I thought that was fantastic, because my brain just isn’t functioning well today, and I was having a hard time wrapping my brain around anything.

Tonight’s dinner will use some leftover pork that needs to be used ASAP.  It’s a new recipe to me from Robin Miller’s Quick Fix Meals.  I’ll need to tweak it a touch to use on-hand ingredients, but I’m hopeful that the results will be delicious.  Abigail had previously asked for Oven-Fried Chicken, and since that’s also one of Andy’s favorites, we’ll have that at the end of the week so he can munch on leftovers for lunches when he returns.

Otherwise, it’s kids choice, and I realize this doesn’t look like the most nutritious menu, but let me just say this, Zander chose Wednesday thru Friday all by himself- including the vegetables.  It was he who decided that we needed two vegetables on Thursday, and he also chose the sides for Saturday’s chicken.  He really gave it a lot of thought, and I’m hoping this will help him conquer his fear and subsequent dislike of cooked vegetables.  In addition to what you see here, most likely, I’ll be doing some digging into my vegetarian cookbooks to find a few items to cook just for Mommy this week.

Sunday: Pancakes, Fruit Salad

Monday: Pork Tortilla Soup, Corn Muffins

Tuesday: Drive Thru Night (Shh, don’t tell the kids!)

Wednesday: Burritos, Celery Sticks, Pickles, Ice Cream for dessert

Thursday: Macaroni and Cheese, Jello, Carrots, Corn

Friday: Corn Dogs (bean cakes for mommy), French Fries, Mixed Vegetables, Applesauce

Saturday: Oven-Fried Chicken, Salad, Melon, Barbecued Kielbasa (minus the kielbasa, I think)

As with every week, don’t miss all the menu planning going on over at I’m An Organizing Junkie.  And by the way, why aren’t you participating yet?  She’s got a great giveaway going on this week for the participants, and you won’t want to miss your chance to win this one!

Spring Cleaning For Normal People: The Results

Well, most of my challenge is now complete.  The only part I haven’t done is the floor underneath the appliances.  Hopefully I’ll get to that tomorrow, but since there won’t be pictures of that, I thought I’d share the pictures of my kitchen after the deep clean. (Make sure you scroll down to see the before pictures if you haven’t already.)

Look! I found a countertop!

And I also found a clean stove, and put away all the paperwork that was just screaming to be ruined by a spill or something.

And then I cleaned and organized the fridge.  It felt great to get this done, as it’s been needing it for a while now.  This also gave me an opportunity to discard some expired products, and assess the condiment situation. After all, grill season is right around the corner.

Thanks Crystal for kicking me into gear!  To see how everyone else is doing on the challenge, be sure to head over to Biblical Womanhood, and don’t forget to join in the fun yourself.

Spring Cleaning For Normal People, Part 3

Hmm, I think I’m missing something.  Well, last week, I skipped part two.  Part two was all about the living room, removing excess stuff, rearranging, and rethinking putting the excess stuff back in.  Our living room is quite small, and quite bare bones, meaning we don’t do the clutter, and there’s very little in the living room that isn’t functional.  In addition, nothing can move.  The fish tank has to stay where it is, and while the computer center and entertainment center could conceivably switch places, it wouldn’t make sense, because then our computer chairs would be in the pathway to the kitchen.  So, I did a regular quick cleaning and was done with it.

This week though, I think we’re going to make up for it, because we’re moving to the kitchen.  This week’s assignment is to clean off the countertops and put things away where they belong, scrub down all the kitchen surfaces to remove a winter’s worth of germs and bacteria, and then give the refrigerator some attention.  Ugh.  I have been meaning to do that, so this is a great motivator.  In addition to cleaning the inside of the fridge, I am also going to add that I need to pull out the fridge and clean the floor underneath, and the wall behind, and as long as I’m doing that, I might as well pull out the stove as well. I’m thankful that we weren’t instructed to clean the inside of the cabinets or the pantry, that may be coming yet.

So to make sure I’d do it, I thought I’d post some horribly embarassing photos that I took just two minutes ago.   This is the worst day of the week for me, because Tuesday evenings we are at dance for several hours, so we dash home late, have a late dinner, do the bedtime thing, and then I’m just ready for the day to end.  I tend to not clean up at all Tuesday night’s.  So a typical Wednesday morning does look like this:

See the counter full of stuff?  Including last night’s crockpot, Sunday’s roaster, and this morning’s toaster.  Somewhere in there is a sink… and in the far right back corner there is a microwave and coffemaker which are always out.  You just can’t see them because there is a dryer rack of clean dishes there needing to be put away.  But wait! There’s more!

This is the stove area.  There is a bit of muck on the stove top from, oh, the last week or so.  A pot of grease that has been sitting around for three weeks since I last fried some chicken.  Some paperwork on the small counter there- just begging to be spilled on.  And I purposely took the picture from the angle I did to show the dishtowels that are on the floor… and have been since yesterday afternoon. Guess I should throw those in the wash.

And finally, here is a picture of the inside of the fridge.  I went grocery shopping yesterday and just kind of shoved everything wherever it would fit.  Not my finest work.  What you can’t see is the dirty shelves underneath the groceries.  I think that I maybe haven’t cleaned the inside of the fridge since Christmas.

I will report back with after pictures once I am done with the challenge.  I don’t know that I’ll get it all done today, so I may not be completely done until later tomorrow or Friday, but I will be done.

If you’d like to join in the spring cleaning madness, it’s not too late!  Head on over to Biblical Womanhood for all the juicy details.

It’s Monday Again!

And that means another Menu Planning Monday event over at I’m An Organizing Junkie. Last week there were 463 participants- that’s a whole lot of menu-planning inspiration.  If you haven’t been over there to check it out, you’re really missing out!

Last week’s Chicken Parmesan didn’t happen because Andy had a steak craving, so we splurged and had some good ole’ grilled sirloin with mushrooms.  This week though, I hope to stay on target with my menu planning.  I have a few new recipes to try here from my new favorite cookbook, Bon Appetit’s Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook.  Both the Hungarian Beef and the Polenta are from the book, I’m especially looking forward to trying the polenta- the picture in the book is very enticing.

Despite my attempts at cutting out preservatives, I’m just not able to totally let go of the Velveeta.  It will be used this week for the cheeseburger soup- there just isn’t anything comparable to it out there.  A combination of gouda, cheddar and cream cheese is close, but not the same, and when you add that all up, also much more expensive.  So Velveeta it is for the cheeseburger soup.

This week I’m going to try to get back in the baking groove.  I was doing really well for a while baking our own bread and buns and such, and I just lost my mojo I guess.  I have homemade bread on tap for Tuesday’s soup supper, so I’m hoping to just keep the oven going once I start baking and do a few batches of bread.  Hmm.  I suppose it might help if I picked up a few more loaf pans.

Sunday: Slow-Roasted Pork Butt, Brown-Butter Gnocchi, Green Beans

Monday: French Toast, Bacon, Strawberries

Tuesday: Cheeseburger Soup, Homemade Bread

Wednesday: Polenta with Green Chilies and Cheese, Leftover Pork

Thursday: Chicken Parmesan, Pasta, Salad

Friday: Hungarian Style Beef with Peppers, Egg Noodles, Carrots

Saturday: Homemade Butternut Squash Ravioli, Pork Tenderloin