Sunday, August 2, 2015

Weekly Menu 8/2

I can't believe August is already here. In a way it seems as if summer has flown by. I'm looking forward to enjoying the last three weeks before I have to head back to work. In preparation for that busy time, I am trying hard to make sure we have a menu plan in place. I've been a little relaxed in this area lately and even with my grocery shopping, making way too many quick stops to the store. I plan to get back on track and posting our weekly plan will help keep me accountable.

Here's what we'll be eating in our house this week:

Eggs w/veggies
Pancake bites

Roasted ratatouille w/crusty bread

BLTs w/sweet corn
Stuffed zucchini boats
Mexican pasta
Summer corn chowder
Scalloped potatoes w/ham

Fresh fruit
Air-popped popcorn
String cheese

Note: All dinners will be rounded out with veggies and/or a salad.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Fair Trade Friday

Not very long ago did I ever take the time to really think about where the items I purchase come from. Food, of course. In the past several years I've become a big advocate for eating locally and supporting our local farms and businesses.  Clothes,  jewelry, shoes,handbags; not so much.

My eyes have opened in the last eighteen months or so to what fair trade really means. It means that the people producing our goods or even picking our produce, are given fair wage, working in fair environments and for a fair amount of hours. Not half of their day for literally pennies in awful conditions. And unfortunately,  we all know it happens across our world.

I've been a big fan of Kristen Welch for awhile now, fell in love with her blog and quickly devoured her book when it came out. I fell in love with her story and mission behind the Mercy House. In a nutshell, they help rescue pregnant girls (many younger than my 15-year-old) off the street and help rehabilitate their lives, care for their babies before and after birth and even educate them on how to be a good parent and provide for their children. You can learn more about Mercy House here.

You know, I don't get a chance to talk much about this stuff on a food blog,  but I have a huge desire to travel one day to do a little missionary work, specifically in Africa. I love reading about others' work in those areas and each time feel a tugging in my heart to do something similar.  God willing, maybe those dreams will come true in the near future.

For now though, I can help support these women and their families buy purchasing their beautiful artwork. I was sent a box of goodies at the beginning of summer from Fair Trade Friday, everything is just gorgeous.  I love reading the names of who stitched my scarf, I mean come on, where else can you find products like this? Not very many. The club sells over 700 boxes each month, with each box supporting 4-7 women.

You can help too and receive beautiful items each month. As moms we don't make a point to pamper ourselves enough. Help a mother support her family at the same time! Or give a subscription to a friend, what a great birthday or Christmas present.

Here's how to join:

Join the club-  Receive a monthly box containing three-four handcrafted items. {$31.99/month}

One time box- Just like I received, a one time box containing 3-4 items {$35.00}

Earring of the Month Club- Receive a new pair of earrings each month {$11.99/month}

*If there's not currently an opening for next month's club, you can join the waiting list!

So each month you'll receive a box containing 3-4 items. Items will vary, but you can expect accessories such as jewelry and handbags, organic soaps, coffee, journals and note cards. All items are handmade and all proceeds go directly to the artisans. You'll also receive gift tags in your box each month, maybe you don't quite think that new necklace will look good on you or you don't drink coffee; no worries, you can pass it onto a friend or family member instead!

There is so much good to come out of this ministry and I am honored to be apart of it. I know you'll love your products just as much as I have.

*Disclosure: I received products in this post for the purposes of review. All opinions are my own and I was not paid for this post. All profits go straight to the artisans, I will not earn any sort of commission if you make a purchase. 

Wrapping up 31 Days of Family Meals

What a busy month! While it's been a ton of fun creating new dishes and sharing some of my family's favorite meals with you, let's be honest here, I am beat! Regardless, I am so happy I decided to do this series and hope I've armed you with tons of fresh new ideas for your own family.

I know our family enjoyed trying new dishes each night. We've got some new favorites to last us through the weeks and I'm excited to keep them going in our rotation. Below you'll find listed each and every single post from the month, all in one easy location for you to browse through. That way when you're planning your weekly menus, you can find them all in one spot.

Thank you for following along, it was a pleasure! I hope you enjoyed this series as much as I did. Now if you'll excuse me, I am going to take a bit of a break this weekend!

Breakfast for Dinner:
Wonton breakfast cups
Bacon,egg and tomato sandwich
Barbecue breakfast kabobs

No-cook Meals:
Egg salad
Ham salad

Veggie pesto penne
Bruschetta pizza
Spaghetti w/simple tomato sauce
Stovetop macaroni and cheese

Slow Cooker:
Buffalo chicken flautas
Slow cooker pulled pork
Crock pot beer brats
Beef tostadas

Zesty grilled chicken
Grilled chicken and veggie kabobs
Italian burgers
Hobos {Foil packet dinner}
Grilled steak cobb salad
Spicy grilled chicken
Chicago dogs w/cucumber relish

Recipe round ups:
Iowa bloggers' favorite summer meals
5 All-time favorite summertime meals

Summer chili
Unstuffed cabbage rolls w/yellow squash
Broccoli and chicken stir-fry
Chicken bacon ranch quesadilla
Shrimp and veggie skillet

Chicken parmesan bake
Jamaican jerk nachos
Barbecue chicken pizza

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Chicago Dogs w/Cucumber Relish

I've never honestly had a Chicago dog, but when I seen some featured on a magazine cover I knew we had to give them a try. From what I've read they are essentially hot dogs on poppy seed buns, topped with tomato, pickle spears, onion and mustard. A pretty filling hot dog if you ask me.

Now we rarely eat hot dogs, just the small bit that we get in our hog purchase each year. I don't like the way traditional hot dogs taste. But these I genuinely enjoy, they're almost like a beef stick in flavor and even texture. Plus they come from the animal I am purchasing, raised in a way I want and I don't have to worry about tons of additives.

I made a simple cucumber and pepper relish to top these with. It was really delicious! All flavors complimented each other and I was even surprised by how well I loved a loaded dog like this.  I didn't worry about the poppy seed buns to be honest, but you can certainly make your own by brushing buns with egg white and then adding poppy seeds. Toast in the oven for a few minutes and you're ready to go.

Make sure to add these to your menu before summer's end!

Chicago Dogs w/Cucumber Relish

1 cup diced cucumber
1/4 cup diced bell pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 cup vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
8 hot dogs
sliced tomato
pickle spears

In a small skillet, heat oil over medium heat and add mustard seeds to pan. Let cook until seeds start to pop, about one minute. Add ginger and turmeric, saute for about a minute then add vinegar and sugar. Let simmer for another minute. Add the cucumber and pepper and then remove from heat. Set aside.

Grill hot dogs for about six minutes, turning occasionally.  Remove from grill and place on a platter.

Place a hot dog in each bun and top with tomato slices, a pickle spear, cucumber relish and mustard. Makes enough for 8 hot dogs.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Spicy Grilled Chicken

So the hubby made dinner last night and it was fabulous. He can be a pretty good cook when he wants to and actually is pretty creative. He loves his hot sauce though and likes to experiment with new concoctions. Last night it was grilled chicken.

Everyone in our family likes to eat buffalo wings so that was the goal in flavor for these drumsticks.  The kids got a more mild version, but for ours he really kicked up the heat. They turned out really well, full of buffalo flavor and I made sure to have a drink nearby during our meal.

We rounded out our plates with grilled squash and pan fried potatoes. It was a nice way to end our day.

Spicy Grilled Chicken

12 chicken drumsticks
8 oz. buffalo sauce
3 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 small jalapenos, diced finely

In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients except chicken. Simmer over low heat for five minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Add chicken to a preheated grill. Cook over low heat for 25 minutes. Then using a basting brush, begin coating chicken in hot sauce. Cook for at least 20 more minutes, or until meat is cooked through. Continue to baste chicken while cooking if desired.

Remove from grill and serve immediately with desired sides.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Iowa Bloggers' Favorite Summer Meals

Earlier in the series I shared with you a handful of my own personal favorite meals featured on the blog. This time I've enlisted the help of some other Iowa bloggers, they're sharing main dish recipes screaming for you to make yet this summer! Nothing short of drool worthy, I know you'll find at least one new favorite.

Let's see what we've got on tap!

I'm especially excited to try the french onion pork burgers and Hawaiian barbecue chicken. Which one will you try first?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Grilled Steak Cobb Salad

Sunday, my favorite day of the week. A day of relaxation after a busy week. A day of slowing down. Yesterday we spent some time at the in law's for lunch and then back home for my freezer swap. More on this very soon!

I had also been craving a good salad for dinner. One filled with garden fresh veggies, maybe a little bit of hard boiled egg and grilled meat. So steak it was! Our steak supply from our beef purchase is quite depleted so we don't eat it too often lately.

But I love a good meal like this. I can feel satisfied but yet eat lighter all at the same time. Add any of your favorite veggies, really that bed of lettuce is a blank canvas. We had some fresh corn on the cob so that was definitely being added in. And you can certainly use chicken instead of steak or omit meat all together. Whatever your little heart desires!

Grilled Steak Cobb Salad

1-2 good sized steaks
one bunch leaf lettuce
pint of cherry tomatoes
1 green pepper
2 ears cooked corn, cut off the cob
4 hard boiled eggs
choice of dressing

Place steaks on grill and cook for five minutes until charred and browned, then flip over and continue cooking for 5-7 minutes until medium. Remove from grill and let stand.

Meanwhile, chop all veggies and eggs. Place lettuce onto a platter. Add each prepared veggie in their own little row.

Slice steak thinly and place strips down middle of salad. Divide between plates for each family member or they can each make their own smaller version. Drizzle choice of salad dressing over top.

Makes enough for 5-6 people
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