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Oh menu, I have forsaken you . .. if you only make 2 of the 5 meals on your menu are you still menu planning? I don’t think so! I was not very organized last week, no excuses . . . I just wasn’t! This week I am back on track and ready to go!

I also did some baking this morning which turned out really well and was super simple. I made these Raspberry Cream Cheese Brownies . . . but instead of following the recipe for the brownie part I used a box of low fat brownie mix from my stockpile. I followed the rest of the directions for the cream cheese and raspberry jam part. They are fantastic and a great way to use some of your mixes! My Recipes/Cooking Light also has a peanut butter swirl recipe that calls for cake mix that I might try later in the month!

I stocked up on raspberries this weekend at Costco and also made these Raspberry Cream Cheese Muffins to use up the rest of the cream cheese from the brownies. These are delicious as well and I can’t wait to share them with my co-workers today!

For the rest of my menu I am trying to keep it simple to ease back into following the menu .. .. but it should be a very tasty week!

Monday: Marinated Flank Steak, Tabbouleh Salad, Grilled Corn
Tuesday: Steak and Mushroom Quesadillas (leftover flank steak!), Spicy Corn Salad (leftover corn)
Wednesday: Pesto Burgers and Caprese Salad (didn’t make this last week!)
Thursday: Thai Chicken Coconut Curry, Rice, Asian Slaw
Friday: Pizza (homemade or takeout depending on my mood!)

Hope you have a successful week!
For more menus visit: orgjunkie.com

Happy Memorial Day Everyone! And Happy Birthday to me! After the big festival this weekend here in San Ramon, I am a little pooped! But I took today off and my son ended up spending most of the day at a friends house . .. this was a treat! I relaxed, had coffee with a friend, did laundry and went to Safeway! Then in a few minutes we are going to meet my family for sushi and frozen yogurt (my healthy dessert request!)

This week will be a little crazy at work (believe it or not!). Working in Parks & Rec means we are getting geared up for summer, plus with budget issues and pending retirements we are doing a little reorganizing . . . so it should be an interesting week to say the least! I am keeping my menus simple and trying cook from some of my newer cookbooks and magazines. There were some great pork and beef sales this week so I do have some treats for us in store, plus there is a chocolate section of the new WW cookbook that you can buy at the meetings called “Hit the Spot” so I am giving that a whirl with a recipe for Brownie Thins that is only 2 WW pts per serving . .. I will fill you in if it is as good as the picture in the book!

Monday: Sushi and birthday fro yo!
Tuesday: Turkey/Lean Ground Pork Sliders, broccoli slaw and oven onion and zucchini rings and brownie thin (can you say yum!)
Wednesday: Grilled steakwith black bean, corn and tomato and quinoa salad and a skinny margarita (I know it is a Wednesday but I told you it is a crazy week!)
Thursday: Mexican Tortizza and jicama slaw
Friday: Marinated Grilled Chicken with roasted pepper and bulgar salad

For more menus visit: orgjunkie.com

This week started off normal, but by mid-week it began to fall apart. My boy disintegrated into the stomach flu Tuesday night. I began to feel the effects on Wednesday and by Thursday night I was begging for mercy from the creature that had invaded my body! It was bad!! Over the course of two days I consumed 8 graham crackers, 12 pretzel slims and some mineral water. By Friday night I felt a little better and had some mashed potatoes. Needless to say my 6lb weight loss this week is about double my norm. Which is fine, but means I am going to have to work hard this week to simply maintain that loss. Over the last 8 weeks I have averaged just over 2lbs per week, so I am about a week and half ahead of where I would be normally.

I am still not quite 100% so my menu this week is more of an outline with some simple stuff thrown in, I am just not in the mood for anything adventurous!

Menu 3/2 – 3/6

Monday: Southwestern Turkey Burgers, sweet potato fries (didn’t get to this last week)
Tuesday: Skillet Lasagna (I will post later in the week the results, winging this one!), Salad
Wednesday: Tacos, Taco Salad or something in this neighborhood!
Thursday: Pork Chops, Smashed Potatoes, Artichokes
Friday: Pizza

For more menus visit Orgjunkie.com

The funny story of last week was Friday night. After not feeling well, and definitely not feeling like cooking I took myself and the boy out to Marie Callendars. The only thing that sound good to me was mashed potatoes, and my son is always up for a burger! He ordered his usual burger that he has had a bunch there, but when he ate it he decided it didn’t taste “right”. After the week we had, I thought oh my god we got some bad meat! All I need is another 24 hours of vomit city!! So as the mom, I took a small bite of the meat, and it tasted like a normal greasy burger nothing off at all. I told him that I think maybe his tastes have changed. He is now used to a lighter turkey burger that has less fat and gets it flavor from added veggies and seasonings. He agreed, he would have rather eaten at home or had pizza! Progress my friends, progress!!!

This was a very interesting week! I was really stressed out last weekend and didn’t menu plan. So needless to say there was a bit much of the eating out this week! I was a little nervous when I went to weigh in this morning, but I was down 6.2lbs! I think even though I ate out and didn’t do it absolutely perfectly, I ate a little more normally. The first few days I was snacking, a lot . .. this is my typical response to beginning a new eating plan. I go through what I call mental deprivation. I am not hungry, but mentally I know I am trying to make different choices, so I get frantically hungry! I know it sounds crazy, but it is just how I react. So I guess in a way it was good that I got totally stressed out and ended up eating out. I knew I couldn’t snack because the take-out always has more calories than home meals. And I was really busy all week, so I just didn’t have time to obsess or feel deprived.

But next week I am anxious to get back on track! So I already have a menu together and have done my shopping! I am really going to try and take this whole week one choice and decision at a time. I think this will keep me focused on the here and now and not worry about what is going to happen a month from now. I have made a total commitment to myself to just keep going. I am not going to stress if I make a bad decision and eat french fries or have ice cream. I am just going to go on to the next decision and no matter what I am going to go to my meetings and step on the scale. I am too good at ignoring my weight, so I am taking it one day, one decision and one meeting at a time and I am just going to keep going no matter what happens!

Tomorrow will be tough though! My niece’s birthday party is in the afternoon, and I have almost finished her three tier Tinkerbell cake…plus I am sure there will be lots of wonderful food. I am just going to take it easy and frankly after working on her cake for 2 -3 days, I really won’t miss having a piece. I know I can have a piece, but I don’t feel like blowing all of my extra points on a piece of cake. If I have time I am going to make some carrot cake cupcakes that are in one of my new WW cookbooks I bought at the meeting today. . . 4 points versus 15-20 seems like a good trade off to me!! If I like it I will post the recipe 🙂

Go A team!!!

Still recovering from the weekend, although I did manage to cook dinner at home last night! Finishing my christmas treats and packaging this week, will be a few late nights.

Monday – Steak, crispy garlic potatoes, tomatoes and green beans
Tuesday – Pizza (we are going to a recital!)
Wednesday – Turkey Shepards Pie
Thursday – Asian Pork Sandwiches, snow peas
Friday – Dinner at a friends house

After many days of trying to figure out my home networking issues . . . I’m back!!! I will be catching up tomorrow with posts . . .!!

Thanks for your understanding!

Hi All!

I am having networking issues . . . finally identified as a broken router! Off to the computer store, look for my catch up posts tomorrow!

Nicole

Dear Friends,

I have a confession! Before I began to actively plan menus I was a disorganized grocery shopper who bought whatever looked good. The result of my bad habit is the pantry you see above. I have duplicates and some stuff I have no idea why I ever bought it. Some of my violations are 3 bags of short grain brown rice, 11 cans of evaporated milk, 2 jars of creamy peanut butter, and 6 boxes of angel hair pasta. For those of you out there who believe my pantry is simply unkempt and I just need to tidy things up. You are not wrong, cleaning is a great idea! However, I used to, several times a year, clean my pantry. I would organize it and make it look pretty. But not only would it always come back to this, but because I was not menu planning the cycle would never stop. I would always be bursting at the seams with excess pantry items.

Overall I am fairly disgusted with the gluttony of it all. I should not be buying what I don’t need or cannot use. Yes, staples are key to an organized home. Having a selection of canned tomatoes, stocks and other necessities for basic cooking is wise for all home cooks. But clearly I have crossed the line!

So now that I am menu planning and no longer perpetuating this situation, how am going to reduce this disaster to a reasonable amount of staple items? Well that is where my Pantry Mission has come in. Starting now I am committing to at least one meal or recipe a week that is solely from my pantry. I can augment with fresh items, but it must contain at least 2 items that are in my current pantry clutter. I am hoping I will be able to produce more than one meal a week from my overflowing pantry. So stay tuned as I reduce my waste, and embark on my Pantry Mission!! It should lead to some interesting culinary adventures.. .

Two firsts for me this week, first I joined the bakers over at TWD, then because I love to cook and Ina Garden (the Barefoot Contessa) has some really delicious recipes I thought why not join in that fun too!! So this is my first Barefoot Blog Post!

Maybe some day I will graduate to a Daring Baker . .. but right now I don’t think I am that daring!!

This week’s recipe was chosen by Melissa of It’s Melissa’s Kitchen. Now I must confess, I am no stranger to the wonders of wonders that is Panzanella. I have made many different versions of this traditional italian salad and I think I have loved each and every one of them. It is basically a salad with giant croutons and no lettuce .. . HELLO . .. that is a pretty perfect combination!

My only issue with making Ina’s recipe is the toasting method and my bread choice. This is a very busy week for me, my boy has a friend over this week so they can attend a morning Lacrosse camp together. So my week has consisted of cooking, cleaning and entertaining two 13 year old boys! The dishes and food alone are a full time job (boy can they eat!). Plus it has been insanely busy at work . . . well that is nothing terribly new, but it has been even busier than normal!!

Anyways, back to bread choice! I knew I would not have time to stop mid-week for fresh bread, so I picked up some parbaked small baguettes at the store this weekend (Beckman’s brand for you fellow Californians). They are fabulous for getting that fresh baked bread thing going on in your house mid-week. Admittedly, I should have baked them off the night before . . . but again 13 year old boys, crazy work. . . it didn’t happen! So I ended up baking them off, letting them cool (mostly) and then trying to toast them in the olive oil. Now they were very tasty, but in terms of holding up to the dressing, I knew it was going to be soggy very quickly. So far my favorite version for making the croutons has been oiling the bread, then pressing them down while they toast on my grill pan, then rubbing them with the split garlic clove before cutting into bite size pieces. This made them quick, flavorful and super crunchy.

Other than my own bread problems, the salad was very tasty! I had never in my previous versions of Panzanella added capers (I usually do nicoise or kalamata olives), but the capers gave a different briny taste that complimented it well. The only other thing that I have added to other versions is either chopped fresh or the mini fresh mozzarella balls. They give a nice mellow creamy bite to the salad, and I think in the Barefoot version, would have balanced out the capers nicely.

Now for those of you out there who have never made or ate Panzanella . . . stop what you are doing and get chopping, whisking and toasting!! You will be glad you did!!! Oh and her is the link to the recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/panzanella-recipe/index.html

I saw on a few other blogs that people will post their weekly menus on Mondays. I do write a weekly menu now, it saves a lot of time and money at the grocery store. I can’t believe I used to walk through the store picking up whatever I thought looked good! I used to end up going out a lot because I would get home with no plan and exhausted from work. Now, I don’t have to think about what I am making . . . it is great! I just come home and start cooking!

Menu 8/9 – 8/15
Sunday – Lemon Garlic Roast Chicken, crash hot potatoes, roasted cherry tomatoes and green beans
Monday – Pork Medallions, parmesan orzo, salad
Tuesday – Grilled California Pizzas
Wednesday – Steak Diane, garlic broccoli, panzanella salad
Thursday – Sloppy buffalo joes, crudite salad with buttermilk dressing
Friday – dinner out