Monday, April 30, 2012

Menu Plan Monday :: April 30, 2012

I just pulled up last week's Menu Plan Monday post to get the link and realized this week's plan is almost identical to last week's! Completely unintentional, honest!

My husband raved about the roast all week (hello, roast beef sandwich for lunch!) so I decided to cook another one this week. We're also celebrating his birthday on Saturday so that will be an eat-out night.

Last week's kielbasa stir-fry was DE-licious! I'll share my thrown together recipe soon.

What are we eating this week?

Homemade Pizza and Fruit
Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Scrambled Eggs
Ham, Broccoli and Carrots, Fruit
Leftover Roast Beef
Curried Chicken and Apple Wrap
What are you eating this week?

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Am I REALLY hungry?

As I write it's about an hour before supper. And I want to eat. No, that's not entirely accurate. I want to binge. I'd like nothing better than to mindlessly eat and eat.

But, I'm choosing not to eat.

Instead, I asked myself, "Am I REALLY hungry? Or are my emotions driving me to eat?"

It's been a long day. My big boys chose to take all day to do their school work instead of the single hour that it should have taken. My 3 year old refused to nap. Finally, while grocery shopping my kids kept wrestling and acting silly with each other. Taking 4 kids into a store always attracts attention, let them act like normal kids and then I really receive stares and "the looks."

So, I'm tired, frustrated, and embarrassed. All those emotions make me want to eat.

But, I'm choosing not to eat.

Instead, I'm naming my emotions, writing this post, and sipping a cup of blueberry herbal tea (without sugar). Hopefully, I'll react like this the next time I feel like eating when I'm not really hungry.

Are you also an emotional eater? How do you resist mindlessly eating?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Son Starts a Rumor, or Not.

Yesterday Sam tried to start rumors about our family. Can't you just see the mischief in that sweet three year old face?!

The Back Story

A couple of weeks ago I switched the kids' winter/summer clothes. For Sam, that meant pulling out all of the 3T clothes I'd saved from Will and Ben. Mixed in with the t-shirts was a Spiderman tank top.

Sam immediately snatched up the shirt and declared that he can now do gymnastics with The Brothers and Ellie. Since September I've encouraged him to participate in the preschool gymnastics class and he has resisted.

Apparently all he needed was a tank top!

Yesterday as the kids dressed for gymnastics Sam couldn't find his tank top. We finally located it, in serious need of washing, at the bottom of a pile of dirty clothes. Poor Sam threw himself on his bed sobbing buckets of tears and declared he couldn't do gymnastics.

No amount of assurances that a regular t-shirt is fine would change his mind!

The Rumor

So I hunted for another tank top that would fit him. I could only find one.

Yeah. Can you just hear the pregnancy rumors flying if Sam showed up at gymnastics in this shirt?! I'd rather not deal with that so I grabbed a sharpie and wrote "NOT" on the shirt.

The little stinker enjoyed gymnastics and believes his new tank top is awesome. Me? I'm afraid someone won't see the "NOT" and boy will Facebook be talking!!

Have your kids ever (innocently) started rumors about you?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Grandma Struggled with Weight Issues, Too

I'd like to introduce you to someone very important to me. See the young woman above? That's my Grandma Maxine at about 20 years of age, right around the beginning of World War II.

I love these photographs for several reasons. First, she looks adorable in her pleated skirt and bobby socks! Second, she's flirting with the camera in the second picture. I'm not sure if my grandpa snapped this picture or if she posed for it to send to him in Europe; either way I smile just thinking about her flirting with him!

Most of all, I appreciate the insight into my Grandma that these pictures give. See, I don't remember a time in the 22 years that I knew her that Grandma Maxine wasn't on a diet.

Diet Pepsi and Weight Watchers branded foods filled her pantry. Calorie counting and fad diet books lined her shelves.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with those products, except maybe the fad diet books, but despite using them for 22+ years Grandma never won her weight battle.

Seeing these photographs of her as a young woman helps me understand Grandma always had issues with weight. Even as a young woman she was short (not even 5 feet tall) and chubby.

Grandma Maxine passed a lot of things down to me. Love for reading. Love for cooking shows. Love for collecting cookbooks. And a struggle with weight.

Part of that comes from barely reaching five feet tall. When you are that short every extra pound is obvious.

What Grandma didn't give me was the solution to our mutual battle to keep off the pounds. I'm discovering that all on my own. It's not been fun. And doesn't look pretty. But slowly I'm starting to win the fight. I just wish I could go back in time and share the lessons I'm learning with my Grandma.

Do you struggle with your weight? I'd love to talk about weight issues in the comments!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Menu Plan Monday :: April 23, 2012

What are we eating this week?

Homemade Pizza and Fruit

Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Scrambled Eggs

Kielbasa Stir-fry and Rice
Ham, Broccoli and Carrots, Fruit
Leftover Roast Beef

What are you eating this week?

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How to Cook Pot Roast Recipe and Tutorial

The aroma of browning roast beef woke me up almost every Sunday of my childhood. No, my mom didn't cook roast beef for breakfast. She woke up before the rest of the family, browned the meat, added vegetables, and set the whole thing to simmer while we worshiped at church.

We usually enjoyed our pot roast cooked to perfection, but occasionally the preacher got a little long-winded and our roast got a little overdone. Since the preacher (my dad) had to eat the results of his wordiness, our lunch didn't burn often.

Because teenagers seldom get out of bed before the last possible moment, and my mom started cooking the pot roast EARLY, I didn't learn how to cook roast beef until after I married. I've made up for lost time and these days my husband LOVES my pot roast!

An easy guide to make the perfect pot roast:

In a dutch oven or skillet with a lid, brown the roast:
Pour 1-3 tablespoons of oil in the pot, let oil get hot but not smoking.
Place meat in the pot and almost burn. Turn the meat over and brown on that side. Repeat until the meat is browned on most sides.

Important: do NOT put the lid on while browning the meat.

Browning is where all the delicious flavor comes from. 
Trust me, let the beef sit without moving it for several minutes. 
When you smell that it's almost burning is when you turn it over

Important: the yummy stuck on bits are going to become awesome gravy!

Add enough water to almost cover the meat. 
The amount of water will depend on the size of your pot and amount of meat.
Put the lid on the pot. When the water is boiling (you'll hear it), turn the heat down to simmer - not the lowest setting but almost.

 Check every 30-60 minutes to make sure your water hasn't boiled out. If the water is almost gone, add more. Leave the meat to cook for at least 2 hours, but 3-4 hours will make your roast melt in your mouth tender.

Important: you can use this method with any cut of roast. The only way to 'overcook' roast is to burn it. The longer you cook it, the more tender it becomes. 

I love to serve pot roast with homemade biscuits and gravy. To make the gravy, boil down the reserved liquid used to cook the roast until you have about 1-2 cups. As the water reduces, scrape the bottom of the pan to get up those yummy bits of flavor. The darker the liquid the more flavor you will have.

In a small cup stir together about half a cup of water and 2 tablespoons of floor. Slowly pour flour mixture into boiling reserved liquid. I recommend pouring only a little at a time to see how quickly the gravy thickens up. Stir constantly and let boil until gravy is your desired consistency.

Important: the more flour you use, the thicker your gravy will be. If you eat gluten free you can replace flour for cornstarch.

Mmm... know I'm craving pot roast!

How do you cook roast beef?

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Menu Plan Monday :: April 16, 2012

My head is spinning!! Our family busy season officially began last week with the first baseball practice of the year. From now until the middle of June we have gymnastics, Cub Scouts, baseball practice, and at least one baseball game EVERY SINGLE WEEK.

All of these activities make cooking a challenge. Add in my quest to lose 15 pounds and cooking REALLY becomes a challenge!

So, what are we eating this week?

Curried Chicken and Apple Wraps, Fruit Salad
Lemon Pepper Salmon, Steamed Broccoli and Carrots, Rice
Roast Beef leftovers
Ham, Mashed Potatoes, Salad, Fruit
Roasted Chicken, Salad, Fruit
Friday night is Cub Scout night at the Paw Sox (our local minor league team connected to the Red Sox)! We may eat an early supper of sandwiches and just enjoy a few warm, powdered sugar covered Dough Boys at the stadium.  YUM!!

What are you eating this week?

Recent menu plans:

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

By the Light of the Silvery Moon by Tricia Goyer

"Amelia Gladstone's hopes are tied up in the Titanic--hopes for a reunion with her sister and an introduction to an admirer. But when she offers a spare ticket to a down-and-out young man, her fate is about to change.

Quentin Walpole is stunned when a sweet lady secures his passage to America--and even more surprised to find his wealthy father and older brother on board the ship. Suddenly Amelia finds herself caught between the attentions of two men, but who should she entrust her heart to? As the fateful night arrives, will Amelia lose everything to the icy waters?"
 - from the back of By the Light of the Silvery Moon 

Long time readers of Stephanie's Mommy Brain will know that I'm not a huge fan of Christian romance fiction.  I find most works in this genre are poorly written and force the "Christian" aspect into an otherwise secular story. I've also found intimate scenes in "Christian" romance to be far steamier than my Grandma's old Harlequin romance novels!

Given the above opinion you may wonder why I accepted By the Light of the Silvery Moon to review. 

I've read several of Goyer's books and I've found them all very clean and well written, so I trust her as an author. I also have a fondness for historical fiction (that's the history major coming out in me).

I describe this book as a Prodigal Son story with a romantic twist. All set on the Titanic. By the Light of the Silvery Moon fits the bill for a weekend of lighthearted reading. 

If you enjoy interacting with authors, Tricia will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from her website) tonight (Tuesday, 4/10) and giving away books, gift certificates and a book club prize pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club). During the live chat Tricia will have a *special guest* join her. 

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book to review. As always the above opinions are mine.
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