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Menu Plan Monday
Ok . .. so last week I did OK .. not great but I want to share a couple of recipes with you that turned out fantastic!

The Crockpot Philly Cheesesteaks were super good, of course I didn’t follow the original recipe . .. but I never seem to be able to follow a recipe!
Here is what I did:
3lb London Broil cut into large chunks
1 large sliced onion
2 bell peppers sliced
3 tbl Worcestershire
3 tbl Steak Sauce
1/3 cup red wine
Grill Seasoning
6 Whole Grain Sub Sandwich Rolls
Lowfat Shredded Italian Cheese

Put meat in slow cooker, toss with grill seasoning, Worcestershire, steak sauce, and wine. Top with onions and peppers and cook on low 6 hours or high for 4 hours. Remove meat from cooker and chop or shred, and put back in cooker and toss with cooking liquid. Cook on low for 30 minutes. While meat is rewarming and getting all juicy, open your whole wheat rolls, remove extra bread. Spray with butter spray (I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter) and smear with either minced jarred or frozen garlic (garlic powder would work too!). Toast in oven under broiler. Top with meat, peppers and cheese, broil until all melty. Top with marinated peppers or condiments of your choice. Yummy!

Citrus Jalapeno Marinade
I used this marinade for chicken breasts for soft tacos which I didn’t actually cook until tonight! But they were spectacular! While the chicken rested I grilled some corn tortillas (La Tortilla Factory Chipotle flavored) and we topped with veggies, homemade guacamole and pico de gallo from the San Ramon Farmer’s Market. You could definitely freeze your chicken in this marinade, I did the inverse. I had frozen chicken breast and put them in the marinade to thaw in my fridge overnight . . . either way this is the best trick I know!

Juice and zest of 2 large oranges
2 jalapenos seeds and membranes removed
7 cloves of garlic (don’t be afraid!!)
1 tbl peppercorns
1tbl salt
1 tbl honey
1 tbl cumin
large handful of cilantro

Add all of it to your food processor or blender and blend until everything is pureed together. Marinade overnight! I had fears this would be too spicy, but it was perfect!

Dessert for this week
Anyone who knows me, knows I love to bake and have dessert! This recipe comes out of the latest Weight Watchers grocery store cookbook (5 Ingredients in 15 Minutes) and is great on a summer evening (especially after you have eaten lots of hot salsa!)

Lemon Berry Tarts
2 cups Cool Whip lite or free
1/4 cup Lemon Curd
Mini store bought graham cracker crusts
Berries of your choice

Melt the curd in the microwave for 15 seconds. Lighten with 1/2 cup of cool whip. Then fold in remaining cool whip and fill each of the 6 mini crusts. Chill for 30 – 60 minutes and top with berries.
4 WW points

Here is my modified menu for this week:

Week 2 – July 6 – July 12

Monday – Chicken Tacos
Tuesday – Pizza Lasagna Rolls, Salad
Wednesday – Chicken Fried Rice (double for freezer meal), Szchewan Green Beans
Thursday – Sloppy Joes (double for freezer meal), Chipotle Baked Beans and Corn
Friday – Leftovers
Saturday – Chicken Ravioli (got these fresh ravioli at Nob Hill last week after coupons $.69 per package!), Salad
Sunday – Meatloaf Muffins, Garlic Smashed Potatoes and Broccoli (double muffins for freezer)

Look for more recipes next week, including and experiment with biscuit breakfast pizzas!

For more menu ideas visit: orgjunkie.com

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Menu Plan Monday

As promised, I thought I would share some of the things I do with those money saving large size meat packages that go on sale and are just too good of a deal to pass up! I know in my area Safeway has a sale on boneless, skinless chicken breasts every 4-6 weeks, usually down to $1.99/pound and a couple times a year they go down to $.99/pound! I always scoop up a couple of these packages. And I used to just break them up into meal sized bags and add them to the piles of mystery items in my freezer. Now, I do lots of different things with them so that a) they don’t just sit there waiting for inspiration on what do with them and b) make my life easier by having meals ready to go!

Here are some things I did with my recent chicken and ground turkey purchase:

1. Freeze it in a marinade
This is probably my favorite thing to do with any meat purchase. If you like grilled marinaded meat you can make (or buy) your favorite and freeze it in that marinade. The reason is that as the chicken (or beef or pork) defrosts in your refrigerator it will marinade. Otherwise you have to defrost the chicken and then marinade it . . . this saves you a step! Here is one of my favorites:

Garlic, Lemon and Herb Marinade
9 -12 Chicken Breasts
6 Garlic Cloves minced
Juice and Zest of 2 Lemons
1/3 cup of chopped Fresh Herbs (I used a combo of parsley, rosemary and thyme)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup EVOO
Salt and Pepper

2. Grill, poach or roast
If you make casseroles, pizza or salads that use a lot of pre-cooked chicken, you can cook and freeze it and then defrost what you need. You have probably bought the expensive pre-cooked chicken strips at the grocery store or costco. They are very convenient, but very expensive when it takes a little bit of time to cook and freeze yourself. This works well with whole chickens, I will even stick this in the crock pot which is very little effort for a lot of chicken meat for casseroles, etc!

3. Turn ground meat into meatballs, meatloaf and burgers
If you have a favorite burger, meatloaf or meatball recipe you can freeze these either cooked or uncooked. My meatballs I tend to cook, that way I can throw them into sauce or soup for an instant meal. My burgers and meatloaf I tend to freeze raw. For my taste they are much better cooked fresh, and the burgers thaw out in minutes for a great last minute meal!

I hope you like some of my suggestions, and I know I would love to hear about yours! What do you do with your bargain meat?

Menu for 5/11 – 5/16
Monday: Whole Wheat Pasta with Grilled Shrimp, Salad
Tuesday: BBQ Chicken Pizza (leftover bbq chicken, whole wheat pizza dough from Trader Joes and veggies!)
Wednesday: Pesto Burgers and oven fries (recipe to come!)
Thursday: Cajun Chicken Stroganoff, whole wheat egg noodles, zucchini
Friday: Taco Shells, salad
Saturday: My nieces birthday party, making a surfboard cake . . . probably order pizza :0)

For more menu ideas visit: orgjunkie.com

I have been gone a long time! This time of year is insane at work and it was everything I could do to keep my head above water. As you can see I am still going on my weight loss, but with travel and craziness I have been hanging around the same weight (up then down, rinse, repeat) for about a month. I think a lot of it has to do with not tracking as diligently as I was and a big part of my tracking success is menu planning. And posting your menu online is one sure way to make sure you create and follow one.

Also, I have developed a new hobby which is helping towards some long term financial goals, couponing! I am becoming a deal queen and learning from some great women bloggers! I haven’t found a lot of fellow SF Bay Area frugal bloggers, so I thought I would share my deals when I find them!

To quick off my return to blogging I thought I would share what I made for Mother’s Day. My mom is out of town (touring Greece!), and I spent a much needed day off on Friday with my sister and nieces, so it is just me and my guy today! You can tell what life stage he is at by my requests for Mother’s Day this year. All I wanted was some help around the house, to make or order whatever food I wanted and no complaining about anything . . . he gave me a look out of the corner of his eye and said “Ok mom!” . .. sigh . . . teenagers!

But so far my day has been great. Did the majority of my errands yesterday, so I took myself out for coffee (and coupon scavenge) while he slept in and then I picked up a few things at Safeway. Which by the way I got 2lbs of strawberries today for FREE!

Strawberries
How?

I downloaded and printed the 1lb free coupon from the Safeway website, then they were on sale for Buy One Get One Free! Do free strawberries taste sweeter, yes . . . yes they do!

Now for my healthy, easy carnitas!

Carnitas

This was inspired by a sample at Trader Joes! They mixed their ready made carnitas with green salsa and it was so tasty. But they use pork shoulder which is too fatty for WW. So I made my own version in the Crock Pot with pork tenderloin . .. oh . . . my … goodness! This the real deal!

2 lbs of Pork Tenderloin (2 tenderloins approximately)
1 large onion sliced
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp worcestershire
1 tbsp Chili Powder
1 tbsp Cumin (I am such a cumin freak!)
salt and pepper (I used 1 tsp of each)
slice fresh jalapeno (remove seeds and membrane if you like things mild)
zest and juice of 2 limes
1 jar Green Salsa

Layer onions in the bottom of slow cooker. Top with tenderloins and sprinkle on remaining ingredients (except salsa). Cook on low for 4 hours. Shred and toss with salsa. If you like them crispy, spray your non-stick skillet with olive oil spray and crisp them up. Then remove from heat and toss with salsa after they cool for a minute (this is to preserve the texture you worked so hard for!)

6 servings at 4 WW PTS per serving

The great thing about this is I took about half of the recipe and threw it in my freezer for another day . . . it will be great someday in the very near future for quesadillas or burritos! I can’t wait!

For other great recipes: http://www.lifeasmom.com/

I will be posting my menu tomorrow and will include some suggestions for small families who buy the family packs of meat to save lots of money!

Happy Mom’s Day to everyone!

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My dinner tonight was very yummy and was major comfort food! The original recipe for the meatloaf muffins came from one of my favorite cooking magazines Cuisine at Home. However the original recipe called for ground chuck, whole milk and whole eggs. Overall not the most diet friendly. I have always made them with ground turkey, but this time I took what I learned from Roni’s Southwestern Turkey Burgers and included more veggies and used oatmeal and a little parmesan for flavor. The turkey was also extra lean/99% fat free! They were delicious, flavorful and plenty moist.

I also lightened up a twice baked potato. I love this style of spud, but because of the butter and cheese had relished them to Christmas only. But with low fat cheese and greek yogurt you get a really delicious version!

Are you a big meatloaf fan? If so, share your tasty secrets!!

Turkey Meatloaf Muffins
20 oz extra lean ground turkey
4 button mushrooms finely diced
1 cup finely diced onion
1/2 finely diced bell pepper
1 small finely diced zucchini
3 garlic cloves minced
1/2 cup egg beaters
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp basil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
salt & pepper

Topping
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup dijon
1/3 cup brown sugar

Combine meatloaf ingredients, don’t overmix. Scoop into 12 sprayed muffin tin cups (one heaping ice cream scoop works for me). Top with sauce (don’t skip it is so good!). Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

Serving Size: 2 muffins for 5 WW points.

Twice Baked Potatoes
This recipe will vary based on the size of your potatoes, I purposely chose small potatoes to keep the points low. But a full potato (two halves) was more than I could finish!
4 small baking potatoes
4 oz non fat greek yogurt (ff sour cream would work)
1/4 cup fat free half and half
1/3 cup chopped green onion
2/3 cup low fat shredded cheese (I used WW brand)
Salt and Pepper

Bake potatoes at 400 degrees for 40 minutes wrapped in foil (you want the insides silky soft). Let cool so you can handle without burning off your skin! Split in half and scoop out insides, leaving enough to keep the skin as a sturdy vessel. Add yogurt and begin to mash with potato masher, add milk until creamy. Mix in green onions, and 1/3 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Place potato shells in baking dish, season with salt and pepper. Fill each evenly. Top with remaining cheese. Bake at 400 degrees until cheese is melted, bubbly and the outside a slightly golden and crispy.

Serving size: 2 potato halves for 3 points (again this is for a small potato, the size of the potato really matters!!)

I have a confession. I am afraid of cooking asian food! I know it’s silly, but with the long list of ingredients and I always overdue the sauce. And it is usually soy sauce that is to blame. So it ends up salty, brown and yucky. So unlike my usually wingin’ it style of cooking, I now follow a recipe, measure and pretty much stick to the game plan.

Cut slits in the meat to help it marinade quickly

Cut slits in the meat to help it marinade quickly

This is soooooo yummy! Another recipe from my friends at Cuisine at Home. It is really simple with a quick marinade and the same marinade then dresses the salad! And even though it is middle of summer, I use my indoor grill pan.

Look at those grill marks!

Look at those grill marks!


Why? I have a very small patio on a second floor apartment . . . not exactly an inspiring grilling experience. Also I am lazy and it is just as easy to whip out my beautiful grill pan and make it happen.

Pretty Vegetables

Pretty Vegetables

The one modification I did make, was to up the veggies. Mine is more a salad with noodles . . . but I have to stick in the veggies where I can. And it was very yummy, I used the ramen noodles but spaghetti noodles would work as well.

Mongolian Flank Steak
Courtesy of Cuisine at Home
Blend in blender or food processor:
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tbs. each rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, and chopped garlic
1 tbs each brown sugar, soy sauce and chopped fresh ginger
1 tsp sriracha or chili garlic sauce
1 1/2 lb flank steak

Reserve 1/2 cup sauce for noodle salad. Score 1 side of flank steak in diamond pattern. Place in ziploc bag with marinade. Leave at room temp. for 20 minutes. Preheat grill. Blot meat to remove any excess marinade and season with salt and pepper. Grill 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest on cutting board before slicing for 5 minutes. Slice thinly on the diagonally against the grain.


Noodle Salad
7.7 oz yakisoba or ramen noodles cooked according to the package directions cooled
1 cup sugar snap peas, blanched and rinsed with cold water
1/2 cup red onion, slivered
1/2 cup carrots sliced into thin strips
1/2 cup red bell peppers, sliced into strips
1/2 cup bean sprouts, rinsed
2 tbs cilantro
Reserved marinade
Chopped cashews (I used peanuts)

Toss everything together and serve cold.