Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Baby No More!

It is still hard to believe that my baby, my tiny man, will no longer be a baby in just a couple short weeks! Seriously?!? He's not so tiny anymore... :'(

It feels like just yesterday that I was a newlywed (and we're coming up on 7 years for that in a couple of weeks too...for real?!?), but I will soon be mom to a preschooler and a toddler! Wow. It's been a crazy ride, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I love my little guys so much and watching them interact more and more every day still amazes me, even if they drive me crazy some days. ;) While it's no secret that I still long for a little girl (hubby insists I can't put dresses on the boys and paint their toenails, so yes, I really need a daughter), I love having two little guys who can be best friends and brothers, which includes playing This Little Piggy with each other...

Ethan's version is the best: "This little piggy goes to Walmart. This little piggy eats PB&J and trail mix. This little piggy has a doggy. This little piggy has a race car. This little piggy says, 'Wah, wah, wah, I want my Mommy!" haha! Love it, despite the dreaded Walmart reference. He knows he gets race cars when we go there (they're normally cheapest there at 88 cents/car now!), hence his love for the Walmart. As you can see, "fake doggy" and race cars (his two favorite toys) are never out of reach! His two favorite food items also get their reference, and then of course, Mommy is his favorite! ;) hehe.

With Noah's 1st birthday quickly approaching, I needed to get his birthday party invitations mailed out to the family. I held off as long as possible, waiting to see what our house situation would be (more about that soon)! We are hoping to be in the house for the party (with a projected closing date of next Monday!), so I'm hoping that I didn't jinx us by putting that address on the invites!!

After much thought, I decided that a Very Hungry Caterpillar party would be both fun and appropriate for "Mr. Noah." I have called him that a few times and it has quickly caught on with Ethan. ;) Our tiny man can't get enough to eat and attacks his meals with a fervor that Ethan has never possessed, thus our hungry caterpillar was born! :) Thanks to Pinterest this year, I was ambitious with my invite design after finding this one. Yep, not only does Pinterest now suck me in for hours at a time of browsing and pinning, I am starting to actually implement some of the pins in my "spare" time. ;) As it turns out, making actual hungry caterpillars is a lot of work!! So, half of the invitees received those, while the other half received a more traditional invite.

For the body of the caterpillars, I designed the information part on the computer, with Adobe InDesign. Since I was using 3 circles, I thought it might be fun for them to also spell out "ONE." While it is subtle with the cutouts, it would be something easy to do for a one- or two-year-old's party. The info on the invite takes up the front and back of the caterpillar, for a total of six sides. So, I decided to use a pic of him from every other month. Since I take a pic of him every month with the same onesie and background, it is a great way to see how he has changed over the past year. With the addition of a cute rhyme, that easy part was complete. Those circles were printed on plain white cardstock, then trimmed by hand. Then came the "fun" part, cutting out the red and green circles. Lots of circles. I designed the "ONE" circles as 4" circles, so I made the green body circles as 5" circles (and glued them together), which would allow the invite to fit into a 5-3/4" x 8" envelope. After days of cutting circles (I am so not kidding here), that part was complete. Then came assembly time. I decided to attach the circles to each other with eyelet rivets, so the invite could be compacted easily for shipping purposes. It simply slides back open to reveal the caterpillar. :) Eyes and noses required more cutting. I was beginning to become weary at the mere sight of my scissors. :( Those were also glued into place on the head. To finish it off, I punched tiny holes to attach pipe cleaner legs and antennae. Whew. After completing 12 of them, I decided an easier invite would suffice for the rest, as the clock was ticking away and I wanted to get them in the mail!

For the "traditional" invite, I used Adobe InDesign again, and pasted the caterpillar in, then put the same six pics of Noah on top of it. I added in the words, then printed those out on white cardstock. I wanted to make them a little fancier, so I cut green backgrounds from cardstock and attached the two to each other with more of the eyelet rivets. Much faster using my paper cutter for nice straight cuts. Piece of cake compared to the caterpillars! I also designed coordinating return address labels to follow the theme.

Big sigh of relief once those were completed and I dropped them off at the post office! The caterpillar invites required extra postage since they had to be hand stamped, but the others shipped for the normal price of a stamp. Now I need to start on the decorations and other party ideas. Thankfully, I have Pinterest to help me with that too. ;) Though it involves a lot of work and late nights, I love party planning for the boys! Someday, if my friend Sheela and I live in the same city again, we'll start our party/wedding planning business! ;) I know Noah won't remember his Hungry Caterpillar party, but hopefully he'll look back at the pictures some day and see how much fun everyone had at his party. More pics of that to come in a few weeks!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Menu Monday #6

I'm trying to get an earlier start on this today as I have lots to accomplish before Noah's one year pictures tomorrow. Yes, I said ONE YEAR! Yikes, where does the time go!?! I finished up making a "one" onesie for him last night and now I need to get going on his smash cake today. That should be fun! :) Let's hope I don't "taste test" too much of that cake, as I am now down TEN pounds from when I started my diet lifestyle change about a month and half ago! Woo hoo!! That officially puts me back to my pre-Ethan pregnancy weight. Yay!! While I am happy to have finally accomplished this again, I know that I still have a long way to go to get where I want to be. Let's just hope I can do that before I go and get preggo again! haha!

I am happy to report that last week's raspberry "mayo" turned out great using Greek yogurt as a substitution! I didn't really measure anything out when I made it, but just used consistency to guide me instead. The meal was fantastic and I had one happy hubby with lots of leftovers! :)

For breakfast on Saturday morning, I made our favorite, Whole Wheat Banana Bread Pancakes. These have quickly made their way to the top of our favorite breakfast items list and everyone enjoys gobbling these up before we start our day. We also finally made it to our local farmers market this Saturday, but next time we'll try to go earlier in the morning (instead of waiting until after Noah's morning nap). By the time we made it there around 12:30, quite a few of the vendors had already packed up and left and most of the others were starting to do the same. It was H-O-T, so I can't blame them! They open up at 7 am, so I think we'll just head there after the kids are up and grab some of the homemade donuts I spotted for breakfast! Yum. We did grab some hot dogs and Polish sausages for lunch from one of the vendors for a tasty lunch while we browsed the goods. Unfortunately, I hadn't yet planned my menu for the week at that point, so I didn't really have anything specific in mind that I wanted to get, but wanted to see what was there. I did end up grabbing some local honey before we left. Aside from tasting great, it's helpful for combating allergies, so I like to take advantage of that when I can. :) After our warm outing, we decided a pool day was in order, so we enjoyed that for the rest of the afternoon until nap time.

On Saturday night, we ended up eating the BBQ Chicken Bacon Pizza I had planned for Friday night, as we had eaten out on Friday. We were craving meat, so we decided to visit our local Smokey Bones. We like their BBQ options, so it was a tasty choice. Unfortunately, it was not diet-friendly at all. I ended up eating more than a day's worth of calories in just one meal! Yikes!! For future reference, their corn side dish has a lot more calories than one would think. :( After checking out their nutrition info (after the fact, oops!), I now have the knowledge to make healthier choices should we choose to eat there again.

On Sunday morning, I decided to make a Vanilla Dutch Baby again. I had a package of strawberries to use, so with that in mind, I decided to make a spin on crepes suzette. We first had that tasty dish for breakfast at our hotel (Hotel AVIA) when we were in Savannah, celebrating our five-year anniversary, a couple years ago. Hard to believe we are coming up on seven years in just a few weeks! So, I sliced up some strawberries and simmered them with some orange juice and a little bit of sugar. I topped the Dutch baby with this mixture. It was delicious!

Sunday: Crescent pizza roll-ups with pizza sauce for dipping
This is an easy, fun one for the kiddos. I tried it a few months ago after finding it on Pinterest and it was a hit. Not diet food by any means, but a quick dinner that gets gobbled up by all. I always loved crescent rolls as a kid, so not surprising that I like these so much!

Monday: Pan-seared honey-roasted Cajun almond encrusted tilapia over brown rice and oven roasted parmesan broccoli
I like mixing up the protein we eat every week (i.e., chicken, pork, fish, beef), so I try to include seafood for at least one meal every week. I have been on a tilapia kick lately because it has been so tasty! This week I am going to try encrusting it with some of our favorite nuts (smashed up into tiny pieces, of course) for even more flavor! I went for broccoli instead of asparagus this week (the two side dishes I prefer most with my seafood).

TuesdayMelt in Your Mouth Baked Chicken, whole wheat rotini, parmesan stir-fried green beans
We need something nice and easy before pictures, so this fits the bill perfectly. You can quickly get this chicken prepared and into the oven to bake. The side dishes are no brainers as well. 

Wednesday: BBQ pulled pork sandwiches with baked sweet potato fries
I am going to try a new technique for making pulled pork that I found on one of my favorite food blogs. I have half of a pork tenderloin leftover from last week, in the freezer. I will thaw this out and throw it in the Crockpot with a can of Coca-Cola to cook all day. Once it is done, I'll shred it and top it with our favorite BBQ sauce, Montgomery Inn. I bought some buns from the Fresh Market bakery to use to make sandwiches for this dish. On the side, some tasty fries, which will probably be accompanied with my spicy ketchup mix or additional BBQ sauce. :)

Thursday: Cracker Barrel grilled chicken tenderloin with oven roasted parmesan red potatoes and steamed white corn
This will be a new recipe I am trying that I found on Pinterest. I seriously order these chicken tenders (on toasted sourdough bread) EVERY time I eat dinner at Cracker Barrel. Yes, I like them that much! So, I was thrilled to find this recipe a couple weeks ago! It looks super easy, so I hope that I am happy with the results. For a side, I'll dice up some red potatoes, sprinkle with EVOO, salt & pepper, Mrs. Dash's garlic seasoning and a little grated Parmesan cheese. I bake these at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes. They have great flavor.

Friday: On the road again!
We are headed to Ohio again for the weekend, so dinner will probably be eaten on the road!

Saturday: I am guessing we'll go for Chipotle!
We will be indulging in all kinds of yumminess at a family reunion during the day, but I am sure we will try to sneak in some Chipotle while we can for dinner! ;)

Happy meal planning to everyone this week!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Menu Monday #5

It's Monday again and time for the week's menu. Today has not been a great Monday so far, but hoping it gets better from here. I tried a couple new recipes last week - the Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo and the Strawberry Balsamic Bacon Pizza. The pasta dish was ok, but the sauce was super thick and something I would want to alter if I made it again. The pizza though, was amazing. So amazing that I rank it in the top two best pizzas I have ever eaten devoured! Oh yeah, that awesome! The boys both liked it too, which is always a plus!

For breakfast on Saturday morning, I decided to try to make a Vanilla Dutch Baby. I first discovered this recipe on an episode of 10 Dollar Dinners with Melissa D'Arabian (a Next Food Network Star winner a couple years ago) over a year ago probably. So, I finally got around to trying one this weekend! It's like a cross between a pancake and a crepe. Topped with a little powdered sugar and fresh blueberries (I was wanting something that would help utilize the 2 pound container I had purchased at the start of the week!), it was the perfect light, summer breakfast at just ~100 calories per slice!

On Saturday evening we enjoyed our dinner on the patio at the local Carrabba's. It was Josh's choice for Father's Day, and it was a great one. The weather was perfect and the boys enjoyed the change of scenery. :)

On Sunday morning, I went with another frittata. This week I had leftover cilantro from the pizza, which I added to the bacon and onion. Topped with a little salsa and sriracha hot sauce, it was perfect!!

Sunday: Cheeseburgers and baked sweet potato fries with spicy ketchup
We hadn't grilled burgers in ages due to our grill being in storage right now, but I broke out the George Foreman for some indoor grilling last night. I used lean ground sirloin and much to Josh's dismay, some whole wheat sandwich thins, instead of buns. Note to self: He said he didn't care about the extra 50 calories we saved, he wanted a real bun. Haha, oops! ;) Last week I had decided last minute to switch from baked sweet potatoes to baked sweet potato fries (which Noah had never tried until then) and they were a hit, so we had them again last night. I had found a new technique awhile back that was supposed to make them really crispy (without frying them), so I wanted to try it out. This recipe instructed to lightly coat them in cornstarch first, then place them on the pan and drizzle with EVOO, mixing them up well to coat evenly. Then you bake them for about 20 minutes at 425 degrees. This actually worked pretty well and I think I preferred this technique. I still sprinkled them with cinnamon and salt for added flavor. One of my favorite things from Red Robin (oh how I miss that restaurant) was their sweet potato fries with spicy ketchup, so I decided to recreate it using ketchup and the sriracha hot sauce (approx 1 Tbsp: 1 tsp ratio) I had purchased for the pizza last week. It was awesome!! The perfect spicy counterpart to the sweetness of the potatoes. Yum.

Monday: Pan-seared cajun tilapia over brown rice and oven roasted asparagus
We just had this meal last week, but it was so good I wanted it again! It's very healthy too, an added bonus! The boys loved my homemade fish sticks and I felt good knowing what was in them. The tilapia I bought at the Fresh Market was by far the best I had ever had. Instead of just tolerating it, I actually loved it!

Tuesday: Salsa Chicken in whole wheat tortillas with cajun white corn
We love this easy, yummy crock pot meal. I like serving this in tortillas and the corn on the side is a great addition. I boil frozen sweet corn, drain, add a little butter and season generously with the Cajun-Blackening seasoning. Delicious!

Wednesday: Schnitzel biscuit sandwiches with raspberry "mayo" and warm German potato salad
I haven't made this meal since I first tried it back in September as it is a bit labor intensive, but Josh loved it and requested it as his Father's Day meal. I didn't have a chance to make it on Sunday for him, so it will be a nice mid-week meal instead. This time I bought a pork loin to use for the schnitzel and will freeze half to use in the future. I still didn't feel like attempting the homemade biscuits, so I'm cheating and using a can of Pillsbury Grands. I know, shame on me! We're skipping the cabbage this time as it wasn't that great. For the raspberry mayo, I am going to try using Greek yogurt as a sub for the mayonnaise. We'll see how it works! The potato salad is a nice yummy side. Not our most diet-friendly meal, but a tasty one to celebrate Father's Day.

Thursday: Chicken parmesan over whole wheat rotini with parmesan stir-fried green beans
This is an oldie, but a goodie. I combine bread crumbs and grated parmesan cheese with Italian seasoning to coat thinly sliced chicken breasts that have been dipped in egg. I bake them, topping them with a little bit of shredded mozzarella cheese. I serve them on top of the rotini with a little bit of tomato sauce.

Friday: Bacon Chicken BBQ Pizza
I haven't made this one in awhile, but it is my other favorite pizza. It is fashioned after a pizza we used to get when we lived in Kentucky, at a place called Fat Kats. We loved it and it's easy to make at home. Instead of pizza sauce, you use BBQ sauce (I like Montgomery Inn the best), then top with cooked bacon and chicken, diced onion and mozzarella cheese. Josh also likes jalapeno peppers on his too. Super tasty and I am sure the boys will love it.

Saturday: Out to eat

It should be another yummy week of meals here at the Seeley residence. Happy planning!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Noah is 11 Months Old!

Noah turned eleven months old today. I can't believe that the next time I do this he will be one year old already!! First up, his stats. He weighed in this month at 19 lbs, 6 oz (still in the 10th to 25th percentile), up 4 ounces from last month. He is measuring up at 29.5 inches (up to the 50th to 75th percentile now), up 1.5 inches from last month! His head remains quite large, with a measured circumference of 48 cm (up to the 90th to 97th percentile now).

We went in for his weight check a couple weeks ago and at that point, he weighed 19 lbs, 2 oz, the same as I had measured him at at 10 months. At that point, he had grown to 29.5 inches already. So, even with the weight gain from his nine-month check-up, his doctor was still concerned because he was dropping on the percentile chart. He wanted to run a bunch of blood tests to see if they could find anything that might be wrong. They also wanted to do a urinalysis and a feeding study to see how much milk he was consuming at a feeding. All of the test results came back normal, but the weight study revealed that he only took in about 2 ounces. Not good because the lactation consultant said he really needs to be getting at least 4 ounces per feeding. :( They suggested supplementing with some soy formula at mealtimes, with the thought that we might have better luck with him accepting the soy variety since it is sweeter. No such luck. They also suggested sneaking some avocados into his yogurt to up some of his fat intake. This has been working pretty well so far. Does anyone have any other ideas for fattening my baby up?? haha!

Below is the pic of Noah at eleven months, wearing the 12-month onesie. He was not a fan of getting his pic taken this month. Cranky boy did not want to smile for me. :( But look...his hair is growing! See that little curl over his left ear?? Aww. Though there isn't much on top, it's getting kind of long in the back and quickly approaching mullet status like his big brother's did around a year. We may need to get him set up for a haircut soon! He continues to be our super sweet baby boy. I swear he is the best hugger in the entire world. He squeezes tight, lays his head on my shoulder and holds on for the longest time. I love it. Ethan was never big on cuddling, but Noah is for sure!

Noah is still doing well in the sleeping department, snoozing for 10.5 to 12 hours straight every night. He has also continued with the same two-nap (1-2 hours each) routine this past month.

New foods tried this month:
  • Fish
  • Cake and ice cream!
Noah can seriously eat his weight in food! He also continues to nurse every 3-4 hours throughout the day. For breakfast, he normally eats a banana, some blueberries and some Multigrain Cheerios. For lunch, he has some peas and corn, a slice of cheese, a few slices of turkey breast, a slice of whole wheat bread, and a container of yogurt. I have started letting him drink some diluted white grape juice to help with constipation. For dinner he eats whatever the rest of us are having and normally packs away more than his big brother! He has been great about trying anything we put in front of him...except the formula. Sigh. Any specific suggestions for some higher fat foods for him? Most of what I prepare for Josh and me is low fat, low calorie food, so the kids are getting that too.

New accomplishments this month:
  • Walking with ease!
  • Waved to Daddy
  • Whining "mama!" when he needs/wants something
  • Cutting his top two front teeth
Over the past couple of weeks, he has been walking more and more and crawling less and less. He can cross the entire room with ease, handle turns and pretty much has it down now. He sometimes crawls when he is in a hurry because he is still faster on all fours. It still cracks me up watching such a tiny little man walking all over the place!

A few days ago he waved for the first time at Daddy! Josh had just arrived home from work and was waving at Noah and he waved back! Too cute. He loves greeting Josh at the end of the work day and always makes his way to the door when he hears those keys rattling.

It is definitely "maaaaaamaaaaa" that comes out of his mouth when he is in his highchair, wanting more food shoveled onto his tray. Haha!

Poor guy has been cranky for a reason lately. We noticed his top front teeth were cutting through the surface a few days ago. Oh the joys of teething!

Here is the pic of both Ethan and Noah at 11 months. They actually look pretty similar in this month's pic! I think it's the eyes...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fun for the Five in Ohio!

Both hubby and I are originally from the Buckeye State (but please don't assume that this means that I am a fan of the Buckeyes, as I am not!), but after college we moved away and only visit a few times a year now. Now that we are getting older and kids have entered the picture, we are trying to get back more often so that our children actually know who their cousins are and can enjoy some time with them. That was one thing that I loved about my childhood. We always gathered with family often and I spent a lot of time playing with my cousins. I guess I took this for granted though, after meeting my husband, and discovering that not all extended families did the same. His side is very spread out in age (some of his cousins are closer in age to his parents than they are to him), so he did not have the same experiences with his cousins when he was younger. So far, our children's cousins are all within a few years of age, so getting them together to play is always a good time.

There are five children under five between my sister and me. It is always interesting!

We had an opportunity to visit with them a couple weeks ago when we traveled to Ohio for my niece's 3rd birthday party. Born exactly 3 months after Ethan, they had a rocky start when it came to getting along well. As they have aged, they have realized that the other is not so bad and Ethan actually tends to name Rachie first when we talk about his cousins now. What a difference a few years makes!

Rachie had her Minnie Mouse-themed birthday party at the Richland Carrousel in Mansfield.

My sister has taken her kids there quite a few times when visiting my parents and Grandma, but my kids had never been. I think it is safe to say that they loved it!

They took turns riding with us and pretty much only took breaks to shovel in some yummy cake and ice cream! ;) Noah was excited to get his first taste of both. I don't think he'll have any problems next month polishing off his smash cake! haha!

While at the party, I was able to see my Grandma, two of my cousins, including one's three kids, including their newest addition!

We had a wonderful time and made some great memories with the boys.

We also had the chance to get in some cuddle time with the newest addition to the family, Hannah.

It was a great weekend spent with family. Hopefully, we'll continue to enjoy more like those now that we are living a bit closer again!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Menu Monday #4

Overall, we did pretty well last week after throwing out Monday's meals. We stuck to the menu all week and I finally accomplished making my own pizza dough for the first time! Woo hoo!! Now that I have done it, I can't believe I hadn't done it before now. Wow. It was so incredibly easy to just throw a few ingredients into the bread machine and let it do all the work! A couple hours later and I had a nice warm ball of pizza dough. The dough was super easy to work with compared to the dough I used to buy at Publix. Spreading it out into a pizza pie, with the help of a little cornmeal, on my stone was a breeze. Topped with some crushed tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil and mozzarella, and it was a tasty treat for sure! For dessert, we enjoyed some cranberry-pomegranate popsicles with blueberries. They were yummy, but I think I'll try them with strawberries next time instead of the blueberries. Noah was a really big fan. I think he may be teething again, so that frozen treat probably felt great on his poor gums!

For breakfast on Saturday morning, I made one of our favorites, Whole Wheat Banana Bread Pancakes. These get gobbled up as quickly as I can get them off the skillet! They are nice and filling and can usually serve as brunch for me.

On Saturday night, we finally tried a local Indian restaurant, Sahib. Josh had been there a couple times by himself, before the rest of us had moved up, but I hadn't been yet. I don't know what I had been waiting for because it was amazing! It's no secret that I love Indian food and craved it more than anything else during my pregnancy with Ethan. Living where we did in Georgia, it was one of the things I missed most. I think I was afraid that the kids wouldn't want to eat anything at the restaurant, so I had held off going until now. Surprisingly, they both did pretty well. We ordered the combination dinner for two (it appeared to be a popular selection for a lot of the other diners as well), which included padapum (thin and crispy lentil bread), mulligatawny soup (lentil soup), a seekh kabob (ground lamb blended and marinated with onions and spices, wrapped around a skewer and roasted in Tandoor), chicken tikka masala (my favorite - boneless chicken broiled in the Tandoor then cooked in a thick tomato, onion and green pepper sauce), lamb curry, naan bread (teardrop shaped white bread baked by slapping it quickly on the side of the Tandoor), basmati rice and dessert (gulab jamun - round pastries made from non-fat dry milk, dipped in honey sauce). Everything was excellent. The kids loved the "chips," (aka padapum) as Ethan referred to them. Noah gobbled up some of the soup as well. We all really liked the seekh kabob. Ethan enjoyed watching them light in on fire as they served it to the table! We ordered the chicken tikka masala at a mild spice level, so that the kids could try some too. Though a bit reluctant, Ethan ate some and Noah had no problems at all. I don't think that boy has met a food item that he hasn't liked yet! haha! Josh ordered the lamb curry at a hot spice level, so we let him enjoy that one by himself. I like some heat to my food, but sitting there sweating, nose running as I eat, isn't quite as enjoyable for me. ;) We all enjoyed the naan and rice, of course. Unfortunately, due to the inclusion of honey, Noah had to sit dessert out, but by that time he was quite stuffed (a rarity, since he never seems to be able to get full!), so I don't think he minded too much.

For brunch on Sunday, I made a frittata. These are super easy and you can just throw in whatever leftover ingredients from the week that you have on hand. This week, I used red onion (leftover from the cajun chicken pasta), basil (leftover from the Margherita pizza), bacon and cheese. I love how the red onions become nice and sweet after cooking them in just a small bit of butter. The basil was actually a wonderful touch and made the frittata nice and fragrant and offered some great flavor as well. And you can't go wrong with bacon and cheese in my book! ;) On the side, some whole wheat toast and sliced strawberries completed the meal.

Sunday: Pizza Pancakes and oven roasted parmesan tomatoes
I have reworked the original recipe to create a from-scratch, whole wheat version of these yummy pancakes. I no longer cook or bake with Bisquick, so instead, I used a combination of whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour for these. I will try to post the new recipe soon. Ethan loves the idea of dipping pancakes in pizza sauce for dinner and Josh and I kind of enjoy it too! ;)

Monday: Baked cajun tilapia over brown rice and oven roasted asparagus
We haven't had tilapia in quite awhile, so I thought it might be nice to revisit it. It's a nice mild fish that Ethan will eat, so I'm sure Noah will love it too. I plan on seasoning ours with the cajun-blackening spice and searing them in a skillet before finishing them in the oven. For the boys, I will make my own fish sticks by breading them with some bread crumbs and pan-frying them in a bit of canola oil. I love serving my fish over rice and we all love roasted asparagus! Yum!

TuesdayMelt in Your Mouth Baked Chicken, whole wheat rotini, parmesan stir-fried green beans
This fairly new meal has been a hit each time we have had it and it is super easy to prepare, so that is a win-win in my book!

Wednesday: Baked cajun breaded pork chops, baked sweet potato fries, couscous
We all love pork chops and a yummy way to prepare them is coating them with a mixture of bread crumbs and Cajun-Blackening seasoning and searing them for a few minutes, then finishing them in the oven. Baked sweet potato fries and couscous round out the meal with lots of filling fiber! For my fries, I cut up 2 large potatoes into fry shapes, then coat with a little EVOO and sprinkle with salt and cinnamon. Then I bake them in a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes, turning them halfway through the time. The key to preventing them from getting too mushy is to pre-heat your baking pan so when you add the fries, it sizzles.

This is a new recipe I am trying this week. It's a "skinny" version of alfredo, to help keep the fat and calories down. The boys love chicken, broccoli and pasta, so I am hoping it's a hit! I will probably top it with some toasted panko bread crumbs because I love what that adds to a pasta dish.

After last week's success with the whole wheat pizza dough, I'll be making the dough again, with these tasty toppings. I pinned this recipe weeks ago and have been wanting to try it, so I am excited to do so this week. I think the sweet-spicy mixture will hit the spot. I hope the boys will be willing to try it, but I am hoping it won't be a problem when Ethan sees the strawberries on top! I haven't let Noah try strawberries yet, but since we're just a month out from a year now, I think it will be ok. I am sure he will love them!

Saturday: Out to eat

I haven't decided on brunch plans for the weekend yet, but I am sure it will involve more pancakes. :) Happy planning this week!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Menu Monday #3

Oops! It's Tuesday, so I am a bit behind on Menu Monday! I blame it on our weekend travels, but I'm getting caught up now. Last week's diet was going pretty well until we hit the road on Friday. We started the trip off well as I packed our lunches for the road, something I had never done in the past. When we arrived at my parents' house in Ohio, though, we indulged in some Chipotle for dinner, as it is one of our favorites and something we couldn't get in either Georgia, or here in Tennessee. I felt a bit better about it by choosing a new option, brown rice. It saves a few calories, some sodium and adds some fiber and protein! Yay! It was delicious and we're definitely hoping they decide to start building some more of those restaurants near us soon! On Saturday afternoon, we enjoyed my niece's birthday party, but unfortunately the cake and ice cream that goes along with that (it was delicious, sis, but my waistline hates you! ;) haha!). On Saturday evening, we all enjoyed a family dinner at the Der Dutchman restaurant. I tried to be as good as I could at an Amish restaurant by choosing chargrilled chicken, but I lapsed a bit and enjoyed some sweet potato souffle, homemade noodles and bread pudding. Oops! It was super tasty though, and worth every calorie! ;)

Sunday: Cheeseburgers, hot dogs, mac 'n cheese, chips, fresh fruit
My parents grilled out for the family and we shared one more yummy meal before my sister and her family returned to their home that evening. The kids enjoyed some great "picnic" food and their time together.

Monday: Trip back to Tennessee
We didn't pack our meals for this trip, so it was another diet-busting day with stops at Wendy's and Chick-fil-A. I was doing pretty well choosing Wendy's grilled chicken sandwich and new baked sweet potato for a side. I failed by using their cinnamon butter and getting some Wild Berry Lemonade. Sugar overload, but so yummy! :( I didn't have time to get any groceries before dinner, so we ate out again. Double fail. The scale was not kind to me this week after a rough weekend! I somehow managed to avoid any gain, but didn't lose any either. :(

Tuesday: Cajun shrimp and seared pineapples over brown rice with oven roasted parmesan broccoli
Shrimp was on sale today at the Fresh Market as part of their Tuesday specials, so I picked some of that up. Seasoned with my favorite Cajun-Blackening seasoning and served over rice, it is a healthy, tasty dinner. The spicy shrimp pair perfectly with the sweet chunks of pineapple. Love a spicy/sweet combo on my plate! I seared the pineapple in my pan for a bit before setting aside and cooking the shrimp. Broccoli makes a great side for this dish.

WednesdaySalsa Chicken in whole wheat tortillas with cajun white corn
This is an easy, yummy crock pot meal that I recently improved by subbing Greek yogurt for the sour cream in the dish. I also started making my own taco seasoning too, cutting out that processed ingredient. I would like to try making this homemade cream of chicken soup as well sometime to use, but haven't tried it yet. I like serving this in tortillas and the corn on the side is a great addition. If you haven't noticed, we really like cajun-seasoned food! I boil frozen sweet corn, drain, add a little butter and season generously with the Cajun-Blackening seasoning. Delicious!

Apparently I was craving some heat when I made up the menu this week! haha! I love this dish. It is packed with tons of yummy veggies (peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions) and using whole wheat pasta, it's a healthy one-pan meal. It takes a bit of work to get prepped, but I think it is worth it. It makes plenty of leftovers for lunch too, an added bonus!

Friday: Homemade Margherita pizza
I am finally going to try making my own pizza dough this weekend. I haven't decided if I'll try a regular or whole-wheat dough yet though. I am planning to top the pie with some crushed tomatoes for the sauce and some fresh garlic, basil and mozzarella. We had a super tasty Margherita pizza on vacation, and I think fresh garlic is the component I have been missing. I am excited to see how this one turns out!

Saturday: Out to eat

A shortened week for us, but a full week in the kitchen for me with the addition of a Friday meal at home. Should be yummy. Happy planning!