Recent Favorite Finds

I am pretty excited and happy to share some of my favorite finds with you all today. I am not a big internet buff so I typically find my favorites in grocery stores and on trails…that of which I have not been able to enjoy much of yet this year. So if your into food and fun read on.

A few weeks ago I bought a jar of these and had to go back for three more jars to last me awhile. They are so fantastic and I love them as an afternoon snack.

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As I plan for our upcoming camping trip I happily came across a new to us dehydrated meal that I am excited to try. We have learned the hard way never to buy a different brand than what we like when that will be the only food source we have available while hiking. This however, will be an addition to a regular campsite meal so no one will be going hungry if it turns out to be horrible.

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We watch a lot of cooking shows on television and many use creole seasoning in their dishes. I have been dying to try this and finally found one in our local grocery store. I LOVE it. It is now my go to seasoning for anything that needs a bit of a kick.

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Have you  ever tried scrambling eggs in a Blender Bottle? We did and it was genius. So easy, fast, and simple. This would be awesome at a campsite….less mess:-)

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Applesauce is one of the dullest fruits in my opinion. Recently, when I was at a bed and breakfast we were served applesauce with a bit of fruit on top and now I add some fruit at home and my kids eat this up without any hesitation. They enjoy it more and so do I.

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One pot meals call to me in my sleep sometimes. OK, maybe not exactly, but when I dream of doing dishes it’s time to concentrate on making more one pot meals. And that is exactly what I have been concentrating on for family meals. This one was outstanding with pasta, shrimp, and veggies all cooked in one pot. Add the cheese at the end, stir, and serve. Now is that easy or is that easy?

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Remember those pancakes we tried to see if my stomach could handle keeping these down unlike all the other pancakes we have tried in the past? Well, I have good and bad news to share. First, the good news….they are probably the best pancakes I have ever tasted. Bad news, they still made me ill. (Do you want to know why…read here)

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That should do it for me today…..do you have anything to add?

I Thought 50 degrees in February Was Awesome…..64 Is A Small Miracle

Wow, what a week we had here in Green Bay. Sun was shining, snow was melting, warmth was beaming down from the sky, and I saw neighbors I have not seen since November. It’s always so funny to finally see who you live next too after a few months and high five each other for making it through another LONG winter.

Alright, so maybe winter is not quite over yet, but you could not tell by the week temperatures we had here. Needless to say, this all changed Friday morning upon waking up. We were once again, hit by yet another snowstorm. Which made me so happy that I took complete advantage of the nice days we did have and spent every moment possible outside for exercise.

Here, take a look:

Sunday: Fox River Trail walk 3 miles…The trail, river, and parking lots were packed with everyone wanting to get some fresh air. However, we found a quiet stretch to walk on which offered us some peace from all the bikers.

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Monday: 2 mile walk and upper body weight routine

Tuesday: 3 mile walk and upper body weight routine

Plus numerous hours playing outside and going for two kid walks which equal approx 1.5 miles total….exhausting day but so nice to enjoy this mid February.

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Wednesday: 1 mile walk…..In honor of National Margarita Day my dear neighbors brought over two margaritas for my husband and I. I then proceeded to drink mine before leaving for our evening walk, which then went from a planned 3 miles to a stumble instead of a walk and lasted 1 mile instead. However, I am not complaining since that margarita sure tasted great after a long, summer like day:-) It’s great to have such wonderful neighbors….

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Thursday: home: 30 minute recumbent bike and a 3 mile evening walk before the snowstorm arrived over night

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Friday: rest

Saturday: I finally got the virus all my daycare children have been passing around for the past few weeks, so no exercise for me today:-(

As for meals this week, I will admit, I should have planned some grilling meals but I did not. My husband is the griller in our family and we had some nights where he was not due to be home on time so inside meals it was all week. Although, that’s ok, we still had some great meals and one new recipe this week which was a summer time quinoa salad because summer temps deserve a summer salad…right?

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One night was pulled pork sandwiches with roasted carrots and sun dried tomato couscous.

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Another evening was no boil lasagna because nothing is easier than making it all in the early morning and sliding it in the oven when you spent all day outside and need a hot dinner but have no energy left to prepare it at the end of the day.

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Getting Your Family To Eat Vegetables

Sometimes getting your family to eat vegetables can be hard. Here at our house, I typically make meals that are either for my husband and myself, my husband, son and myself, or for three kids all 2 years or under. When asked which one is the hardest to cook for…..my response is almost always the three of us….my husband, son and myself. Shocking right? I bet you would have thought the three kids. Here is why I respond the way I do.

For one, my son is not a vegetable eater!!! Even though he grew up having to try whatever the veggie was that night for dinner, he is not a veggie eater. I think this may happen to all teenagers and then they don’t venture back to vegetables until later in life maybe. Who knows, all I know is he is too old now, at 22 years old, for me to say he HAS to try the vegetable of the night. However, that is not to say he still does not get them in his diet when he eats at home. It a guarantee, if mom is cooking there is a veggie mixed in the meal somewhere that is very difficult to pick out or eat around.

My husband on the other hand, likes some vegetable and some he will not touch….okra for instance. So in this instance I can work around this much easier…..we just don’t have okra or I save a vegetable I know he dislikes for when he is traveling or not going to be home.

Here are a few tricks I have found that have made getting my family to eat vegetables a bit easier. One, mix them into casseroles. Cooked spinach can be mixed into almost any casserole or soup and is nearly impossible to pick out.

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Roasting a vegetable adds a whole different spin on flavor than boiling does. Boiling vegetables is very unexciting and bland in my opinion. Take for instance broccoli…..roasted with whole garlic cloves and a bit of salt…. it is fabulous and even my little kiddos eat the florets up like they are candy.

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Sauce them up. My son loves chicken curry and I used to serve this with mixed veggies on the side. Now, I add the vegetables right to the chicken and add the curry sauce to the entire dish. He eats them and admits they are good this way. Win for mom!!!!

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Add them to breakfast egg cups….no one thinks to have veggies at breakfast but it sure is easy to add them in where they least expect it. My daycare kiddos love these veggie egg cups and oftentimes we will make them together.

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Instead of meat marinara over pasta, try veggie or meat and veggie marinara. The pickier they are when it comes to vegetables, the smaller you should cut the pieces of vegetable to ensure they can not pick around them. Add some cheese to the top before serving and I would bet they will all try it if not gobble it all up.

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Try adding vegetables to sandwiches….like beef with pepperocini peppers

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or our favorite here is turkey reuben sandwiches.

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Don’t be afraid to try different things. We fell in love with lemon shrimp with capers and spinach. It was enjoyed by all of us even the spinach haters in my house.

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Sometimes even letting your children help prepare the meals will encourage them to try what they made. And one word of advice…..if you make a face at something you don’t like they are almost always going to agree. So if at all possible, try your veggies without expression and let them decided for themselves whether it is good or bad.

 

Back On Track With Workouts And In The Kitchen

After needing three days to recover my very sore joints from mountain hiking without any training in the Smoky Mountains….I am finally back to a normal workout routine. I eased slowly back into it and now feel better for not pushing myself too soon. I was really sore when we returned home for this trip. Here’s what my week was like:

Sunday: gym:30 minute elliptical, stretching

Monday: home: total body weight routine, mall walk 3 miles

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Tuesday: gym: 45 minutes elliptical and stretching

Wednesday: yoga and upper body weights

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Thursday: gym: 30 minute elliptical, rowing, abdominal workout, and stretching

Friday: rest

Saturday: gym: 45 minutes elliptical, rowing, stretching

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One of the nicest things after being away from home is eating at our dining room table. I like eating out but not every meal, every day. This is why, when we do travel, we will often make a grocery store trip for dinner and enjoy it in our hotel room instead of a noisy restaurant.

After a quick trip to the grocery store when we returned home, this is what I came up with for the week in meals.

Pot roast(thank goodness for the crock pot the day after vacation). Super easy and basically cooks itself with little preparation needed.

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Chicken potpie with biscuit topping. I used this recipe but topped it with biscuits instead of corn bread.

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By mid week I was feeling good again so I tried a new recipe, tater tot chicken and spinach casserole. Everyone agreed…..success. It was so simple and so delicious. I also made roasted broccoli and roasted whole garlic cloves to go with it.

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And one evening we had shredded chicken salads. I love meal salads and try and have them at least once a week.

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Not too bad for throwing together the meal plan and grocery list on the plane ride home.

 

A Taste Of Southern Living

Hello, hello!! It feels great to be home…although life has been crazy since we walked back in the door here, it’s still great to be home.

My family has spent the last week in the state of Tennessee and we had a great time living life southern style. I tried turnip green for the first time ever and loved them.

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We all enjoyed sweet tea at almost every meal.

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Southern hospitality is much better than midwest hospitality…let me tell you!

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And as a recommendation from a fellow blogger, one of the first things we made sure to try was pimento cheese spread. My son was very reluctant but ultimately, we ended up going through two packages of this fabulous cheese spread in the 6 days we were in the area. It is so yummy, I can’t wait to remake this recipe at home.

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And for me….well the temperature in this area in January is something to be so thankful for. I was thrilled to walk off the plane, pick up our rental vehicle, and see the temperature was 70 degrees at 6 p.m.. I told myself over and over all through the week, Karen it is January….and it is still COLD at home.

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In all honesty, this trip was quickly planned and we ended up replanning once before leaving home and once while sitting in airports delayed by ice storms all along the way. Originally, we were not planning on doing any hiking over three miles if at all, we knew we needed to do some business while in the area, and it was basically going to be a bonus if the area was snow free, warm and we could find time to have some fun. Well, we had much more fun than business and I am pretty proud of what we did with no training what so ever for this trip.

This is one amazing state to see and it was a great escape of the midwest winter I suffer through every year. I can’t wait to share more with you about what we all did in the area but for now here is s sneak peek.

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Braised Cauliflower

I love my vegetables and could never have imagined preparing cauliflower so easily and then also getting my husband to eat it with me. This in itself is a small miracle which makes this recipe a winner. So I thought I would share it with all of you.

Ingredients Needed

1 head of cauliflower

1 pint of tomatoes….grape, cheery, heirloom, whatever you prefer or is available

1 tsp of salt

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2  large sweet onion, chunked

dash red pepper flakes

1/4 cup water

pint of fresh sliced mushrooms

4 whole, peeled garlic cloves

Directions:

Wash and peel the leaves from the bottom of the cauliflower head leaving the core in tact but trimmed close to the head itself. Set aside.

Chunk up your onion and slice your mushrooms if they are whole.

Peel your garlic cloves.

Wash and slice your tomatoes in half or if they are large chunk them into large pieces.

Heat your dutch oven and pour in the olive oil. Place your cauliflower head into the pot and spread the onions, tomatoes, garlic cloves and mushrooms around the sides. Pour in the water, and add the red pepper flakes and salt.

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Cover and let this cook on low/medium for 15 minutes. Return and give it a quick stir and baste the cauliflower head with some of the juices you will now find in the bottom of the pot.

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Recover and cook for another 15 minutes or until a butter knife can be easily inserted into the middle of the cauliflower head.

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When its tender, use a spoon to break apart the head and serve over rice, pasta, soba noddles or just as a side dish. We had ours over soba noodles topped with a little shredded parmesan cheese and crushed croutons and it was fabulous.

Enjoy!!!!

Fitness and Food In Week #1 of 2017

The first week in 2017 proved to be a challenge but ultimately was successful. Having Monday off was wonderful which meant we could go to the gym anytime of day to try and avoid the crowd which we did with success. Tuesday-Friday the gym was plain old crazy busy so I avoided it like the plague. (We have inside information since our son works at our gym)

All my daycare children returned to normal schedule…..but routine took awhile to find once again. Plus, they all brought back a cold virus of some sort so we shared in all these germs as well. Don’t we all love the holidays?

Being it’s the first week of the new year and I had my hands full during the week with numerous things among a house full of children…..I am pretty happy with my workouts this week.

Sunday: almost a 3 mile hike New Years Day

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plus a home total body weight circuit

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Monday: gym: 45 minutes elliptical, rowing, stretching

Tuesday: home: total body weight circuit, 3 mile evening walk outside

Wednesday: rest

Thursday: home: total body weight circuit, 3 mile lap walk at the mall

Friday: rest

Saturday: gym:45 minute elliptical, rowing and stretching

Meals this week were all eaten at our dining room table as a family except for one evening our son was gone. His work schedule changed with the new year and this makes dinner planning much easier. Plus, we all get to eat together, something we have not been able to do for quite sometime. On the menu this week we enjoyed sloppy joe salad with burger fixings. I simply take ground turkey and my homemade sloppy joe sauce and prepare the burger. Then I take salad fixings that would normally be on a cheese burger and plate them up with a serving of sloppy joe meat on top and drizzle it with dijon mustard. Yum!

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Another dinner was Swedish meatballs over pasta. Super easy and a great comfort food in the winter months.

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One night was tortilla soup….a family favorite.

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And Friday we had breakfast for dinner…..which was homemade waffles with my homemade chicken breakfast sausage.

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The next two weeks will prove to be an exciting time if we can pull off everything we have planned. However,  there are some big factors involved that could really hamper our plans. My goals are to stay positive that it will all work out, we will see everything we are hoping to see, and I will finally have part of my “life plan” in place by the time we are done. Now, let’s just hope the stars line up and it all plays out perfectly.