Monthly Archives: March 2012

Monday Menu Plan: 3/26-4/1

My son has been on a pizza kick lately. And by “lately”, I mean for the past year. I ask my kids what they’d like for dinner when I’m writing our menu plan for the week, and I can bet my bottom dollar that “pepperoni pizza” will be Christopher’s answer. Every. Single. Time. It doesn’t surprise me. He is, after all, a 5 year old with the palette of a goldfish (aka he forever prefers to subsist on just one thing: pizza).

I usually make our pizza at home to be frugal and save a few bucks, since I’d otherwise have to sell my second born child to support Christopher’s pizza habit.  For awhile I got sick of our homemade-on-a-cookie-sheet pie and tried to boycott pizza consumption altogether. In the meantime, my dad went out and picked me up a pizza stone, and now I’m back to embracing our weekly adventures in homemade pizza-making.

Let me just say, if you don’t own a pizza stone, go get one. Now. Last week alone, we made pizza TWICE for dinner. Yeah. It’s that good. You don’t even need a fancy schmancy one, ours was $12 (after 20% coupon discount) at Bed Bath and Beyond and it rocks our world. It also stores conveniently on the bottom shelf of our oven, so it doesn’t take up any precious cabinet space. Fo’ realsies, you have zero excuse.

Go out. Get one. Now. Thank me later.

When it comes to pizza, are you Team Homemade or Team Takeout? Let us know in the comments section below!

This pizza deserves love letters, it's so darn good.

Breakfasts: baked oatmeal, quick oats, eggs & toast, fresh fruit

Lunches: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pasta, leftovers, fresh fruit and veggies

Snacks: fresh fruit and veggies, popcorn, jello, veggie straws, goldfish crackers, spinach & fruit smoothies

Dinner:

Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
  • roasted beets, quinoa and oranges over spinach
  • homemade dinner rolls
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
  • homemade pizza
  • salad
Sunday
  • baked black bean and sweet potato taquitos
  • guacamole
  • salad
What’s on your menu plan this week? Share in the comments section below! If you blog your own menu plan, leave a link so we can check it out. And if you want information on how to plan a weekly menu, click HERE.

Help Me Choose a New Pair of Eyeglasses!

I need a new pair of prescription eyeglasses. I have only one pair, and with two rambunctious young kids the reality is it’s only a matter of time before they Hulk-smash that baby into bits and pieces (yes, it’s happened before… twice).

I picked my friends’ brains over Facebook one day for an affordable source of secondary spectacles, and my brother offered up the socially responsible warbyparker.com. He said he’d seen them featured on a news report and learned that for every pair purchased they donated a pair to the less fortunate. I was intrigued by this, and checked them out. Here’s a summary of what they do (from their Facebook page):

Warby Parker sells boutique-quality prescription eyewear for $95 exclusively through our website, www.warbyparker.com, and donates a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair sold. Polycarbonate prescription lenses with anti-reflective and anti-scratch coatings are included in the price and we offer free shipping, free returns and free home try-ons every day.

We believe that everyone has the right to see. Unfortunately, millions of people around the world today don’t have access to proper vision care. To help address this problem, we partner with renowned non-profits, such as Restoring Vision, to deliver one pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair that we sell. In doing so, we enable you to share the gift of vision with someone who can’t see today and give them the opportunity to read, to work and to live a fuller life.

If you want to check out the whole shebang, you can click HERE and head over to their website for all the deets.

I have a diamond shaped face, which is notoriously difficult to find appropriate frames for. I sort of need to try on frames before I buy them, but I didn’t want to go to a brick and mortar shop and pay up the wazoo for new glasses (since my insurance doesn’t cover another pair for about 15 more months).  You might be thinking “Whoa! $95 isn’t exactly cheap when you could get a pair for $10 bucks”… I knew I could get a pair cheaper online, but I didn’t want to gamble my money on glasses that may or may not look good on me. And considering my last pair of glasses was over $200 after insurance, $95 doesn’t seem so bad. AND considering that someone less fortunate is gaining a needed pair of eyeglasses at my minor expense is totally worth the slightly “higher” cost.

One of my favorite things about Warby Parker that sets it apart from other online prescription eyeglass retailers is their Home Try-On program. You can order 5 pairs of frames that you’d like to try on at home (you get five days to decide, with no obligation to buy!) and it includes free shipping both ways. So that’s what I did.

Now I need your help, as I’m redonkulously indecisive about these kinds of things and it’s kind of a big deal for me to pick the right ones since they’ll be on my face every. single. day. Below are the four frames I’m stuck on – one pair was definitely a no-go, so I didn’t bother including it. Check them out, and help me decide which nerd goggles I should order! And before you say anything, I know I look kind of, um, dweeby. I’m no good at taking pictures of myself, especially in poorly lit bathrooms (or anywhere else for that matter). But I can take comfort in knowing that no matter how lame I look at least there’s no duckface action going on in my photos.

Frame #1: "Winston"

Frame #2: "Bensen"

Frame #3: "Sinclair"

Frame #4: "Preston"

Which pair of frames do you think I should choose? Let me know what gets your vote in the comments section below.

(ps- I’m not being compensated in any way for gushing about the awesomeness of Warby Parker. I just think they’re that awesome.)

Monday Menu Plan: 3/19-3/25

(Edit: Sorry for the Monday Menu Plan on Wednesday. I logged on to write a recipe post and my latest menu plan was nowhere to be found! From what I can gather, WordPress ate my homework. No joke.)

Exciting news! We’re moving at the end of April (long story short, I’m not exactly sure where yet but I should know in the next few days). In preparation, I’m going to start whittling down our overstock of pantry items that I don’t feel like packing and dragging to the next apartment. This means that my grocery bill will be MUCH lower for the next few weeks with all the pantry shopping I’ll be doing. And maybe, finally, I can make a dent in the stockpile of canned schtuff I got right before Hurricane Irene graced us with her presence (or lack thereof, we lucked out)! For the most part I’ll only have to make a weekly trip to restock our perishables: milk, eggs & fresh produce.

When you move do you try to pare down your food supply so there’s less to haul, or do you just pack it up and pray stuff won’t thaw before you get it to your new freezer? Share with us in the comments section below!

Breakfasts: baked oatmeal, quick oats, eggs & toast, fresh fruit, homemade yogurt

Lunches: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pasta, leftovers, fresh fruit and veggies

Snacks: fresh fruit and veggies, popcorn, yogurt, jello, veggie straws, goldfish crackers, spinach & fruit smoothies

Dinner:

Monday
  • apple cheddar quesadillas
  • salad
Tuesday
  • homemade pizza
  • green beans
Wednesday
  • baked macaroni & cheese with bacon
  • salad
Thursday
Friday
  • egg sandwiches on english muffins
  • salad
Saturday (Date Night!)
  • eating out
Sunday
What’s on your menu plan this week? Share in the comments section below! If you blog your own menu plan, leave a link so we can check it out. And if you want information on how to plan a weekly menu, click HERE.

Monday Menu Plan: 3/12-3/18

As I type this it’s Sunday night, and I’ve just finished throwing together my overnight baked oatmeal recipe for breakfast Monday morning. My recipe calls for applesauce, but I had a few zucchinis that were looking a little questionable and I wanted to use them before they went to waste. I peeled and grated them and threw them in the mix. Zucchini is so mild that it should work out well as an applesauce substitute. I always have faith, but even more importantly, I always have a backup plan. Too often have my tinkering tendencies borderlined the Evel Knievel of culinary daredevilry, so just in case our oatmeal tomorrow tastes more like dead vegetables than warm and hearty comfort food we’ll have eggs and toast waiting on the sidelines for a quick fix.

Do you play around with and adjust recipes, or do you stick to the original recipe when making a meal? Share with us in the comments section below!

Be a whisk... er, RISK taker in the kitchen! (Yes, I drew that. No, I did not have formal art training. Yes, I'm good at bad puns.)

Breakfasts: baked oatmeal, quick oats, eggs & toast, fresh fruit, homemade yogurt

Lunches: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pasta, leftovers, fresh fruit and veggies

Snacks: fresh fruit and veggies, popcorn, yogurt, jello, graham crackers with peanut butter, spinach & fruit smoothies

Dinner:

Monday
  • pasta primavera
  • garlic bread
Tuesday
Wednesday
  • veggie frittata
  • toast
Thursday
  • cauliflower and bacon pasta
  • escarole gratin
Friday
Saturday
  • turkey meatball subs
  • salad
Sunday
  • fresh veggie wraps
  • chips
What’s on your menu plan this week? Share in the comments section below! If you blog your own menu plan, leave a link so we can check it out. And if you want information on how to plan a weekly menu, click HERE.

In the Kitchen: Fluffy Banana Snack Cake

Banana Snack Cake

What’s a snack cake? According to Wikipedia, a “snack cake” is a cream filled, frosting topped, chemical laden baked dessert confectionery. Barf.

According to me, a snack cake is a cake that you snack on. Duh.

When my daughter came to me with a request to create something out of the pile of overripe bananas sitting on our kitchen table, my mouthful of sweet teeth rejoiced. I’ve been MEGACRAVING cake lately and a quick Google search led us to a tasty looking banana cake recipe on Allrecipes.com. Of course we all know that I can’t not tinker with an already perfect recipe, so I tweaked a few things and ended up with my newest obsession: fluffy banana snack cake.

If banana bread and cake got together and had a child, this would be it. It’s light and fluffy and perfectly bananafied. It has the flavor of banana bread without the dense, chewy texture. I ate it sans topping, but I’m sure you could slather on some cream cheese or chocolate frosting and it would make a totally passable dessert cake. I’m already dreaming of sweet little fluffy banana cupcake babies. Oh yum.

What’s your favorite way to use up overripe bananas? Share with us in the comments section below!

Yummy.

Fluffy Banana Snack Cake
(adapted from THIS recipe on Allrecipes.com)

1 cup whole wheat flour
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
4 ripe bananas, mashed
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 11″x15″ glass baking dish. In a cup mix together milk and vinegar, set aside.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda and salt, and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, cream butter, white sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in the bananas. Add flour mixture alternately in one third increments with the milk mixture into the sugar mixture, combining thoroughly between additions. Pour batter into prepared baking dish.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place the baking dish on a damp tea towel over a wire cooling rack. Cool at least 15 minutes before removing from the baking dish.

Tips and Tricks:

* If you don’t like whole wheat flour, you can use all AP flour (the original recipe did not call for whole wheat flour). I’m sure you can also use all whole wheat flour, but I can’t promise that the texture will be as light.

* I kind of hate the term “pinch of”. My “pinch” of salt was a two-finger pinch, I’d estimate that it was probably around 1/8 teaspoon if you’re looking for a more accurate measurement.

* I cut the brown sugar down to 1/2 cup from the original recipe’s 2/3 cup and it was still sweet. If your sweet tooth isn’t as demanding as mine, you could probably whittle down the amount of white sugar also. I’d start with 3/4 cup instead of a full 1 cup, and experiment from there.

* I used 1% milk and vinegar in lieu of the original recipe’s buttermilk. You could do buttermilk if you have it, or sour cream, yogurt, or lemon juice (in place of the vinegar) and milk.

* Toss in a handful of chopped walnuts and a dash of cinnamon for a more banana bread-y experience. Or throw some chocolate chips into the mix if you’re feeling crazy (or, you know, if you’re allergic to nuts).

* If you want to frost your cake, try cream cheese, buttercream or chocolate frosting. A sprinkle of crushed nuts on top of the frosting will give it a little bit of that rustic pizzazz.

*If you don’t have an 11″x15″ baking dish, you can use two 8 inch pans (round or square), or a 9″x13″ pan/dish. If you use a 9″x13″, you should cook it a little longer (I’d guestimate 35-40ish minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean).

* Baked cakes generally freeze well. If you freeze it when it’s still warm, it should retain moisture better and you won’t end up with a dry cake upon defrosting.


Monday Menu Plan: 3/5-3/11

Hey, strangers! I’ve been bouncing back and forth between being busy and not feeling so hot, and blogging just never made it onto my to-do list last week. But faithfully I’m back to share my weekly menu plan :)
Due to some crummy weather we postponed our NYC Lego Store trip last week, so we’ll be hitting up the big city this Wednesday for our adventure and eating out somewhere in our travels. Normally Monday is my grocery shopping day, but Emma and I aren’t feeling too hot so we decided to lay low and head out tomorrow instead. To ward off boredom we headed to the kitchen for a sick day baking session. Emma wanted to make something with our overripe bananas and we settled on a banana snack cake. We just finished gobbling up the first pieces, and HOLY WOW is it good. Look for a recipe post on that one in the near future, it’s just too tasty not to share!

Banana Snack Cake

Breakfasts: baked oatmeal, eggs & toast, fresh fruit, homemade yogurt

Lunches: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pasta, leftovers, fresh fruit and veggies

Snacks: fresh fruit and veggies, popcorn, yogurt, jello, graham crackers with peanut butter, spinach & fruit smoothies, banana snack cake

Dinner:

Monday
  • sauteed cabbage over pasta
  • salad
Tuesday
  • baked beans over toast
  • salad
Wednesday
  • ??? – probably eating out somewhere in NYC
Thursday
  • quinoa stuffed butternut squash for Mike and I
  • chicken nuggets for the kids
  • salad
Friday
  • roasted chicken
  • rice
  • salad
Saturday
  • english muffin pizzas
  • salad
Sunday
  • veggie scramble
  • toast
What’s on your menu plan this week? Share in the comments section below! If you blog your own menu plan, leave a link so we can check it out. And if you want information on how to plan a weekly menu, click HERE.