Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Big Batch Cooking

Happy Tuesday!

As of last night, I can officially say I am almost done my Christmas shopping.  I only have two more people to buy for and that's it!  I think this is a first for me.  I used to wait until after my birthday (mid-December) to start my shopping.  Most of the shopping was done online - I'm not sure why I waited until now to jump on the online shopping bandwagon. 

Last week I made a reference to making meals in advance.  If you've been reading the blog for a long time, you know how I constantly make references to how I cook once for the entire week.  Well folks....I've decided to up the ante.  Now, I'm making a few meals weeks in advance and freezing them.  I buy my ground turkey and chicken in bulk, so there's always some semblance of a meal in my freezer.  After my last trip to BJ's, I decided to split the package of ground turkey and make a meatloaf and sloppy joes.

During the same cooking extravaganza, I also made some chicken cutlet and baked ziti.  So, for the last two weeks, I've been grabbing something from the freezer and enjoying it immensely.  How easy is that?  Since I'm cooking for the week anyway I just make some extra meals to stretch us for the rest of the month.  Done and done!




During the craziness that is the holiday season, this is a time saver for sure!

Question of the Day:
Share a time saving tip with me - I need all I can get!

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, November 28, 2011

Food Review: Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers

Happy Monday!

How was your Thanksgiving? Mine turned out really well. On Thursday the family headed to my mother-in-law's and on Friday, my mom had a second Thanksgiving dinner. Needless to say, this past weekend was filled with food, food and more food.

Today, I'm back in the saddle with my healthy eating. It feels good to eat veggies, salads and fruits after a few food coma-induced days, doesn't it?

Speaking of healthy eating, I had the opportunity through the Foodbuzz Tastemaker's Program to sample Green Giant Vally Fresh Steamers.

I decided on the Valley Fresh Blend of carrots, broccoli and cauliflower in a light garlic and butter sauce.


I served mine alongside some pasta for some added flavor.

                                             

The result?  The veggies were cooked to perfection, and seriously, how cute are the carrots?  I've never seen them in a "ball" shape before.

The only downside to the veggies was the sauce.  It was extremely garlicky and overpowered the veggies big time. 

I would definitely try the Steamers again, but next time I would try another flavor.  You can't beat the convenience of steamed veggies in a bag!

I hope you all enjoyed your weekend! 

Question of the Day:
What was the highlight of your weekend?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hi everyone!

I'm stopping by for a quick post today to say Happy Thanksgiving (well, tomorrow) to all of my US readers!

See you on Monday!!

Source

Monday, November 21, 2011

Giving

Happy Monday!

How was your weekend?  Mine was a lot of fun.  On Saturday, the hubby, little guy and I headed down to my former elementary school's Christmas Bazaar.  When I was younger, I used to think the Bazaar was the greatest event ever.  There were tons of tables filled with all things Christmas.  Add in a few game tables and everything seemed perfect.  When I walked through the door this year, I was greeted with complete chaos!  It's funny how your perspective changes as you get older, isn't it?

Our family was there to support my mom, the librarian of the school, who was hosting a book fair.  The little guy loves to read books, so it was a win/win situation.  After making our purchases, we wandered around the halls checking out all of the craft tables.  I stopped at one stared for a moment.  There was a teenage girl (probably no more than 15-16 years old) with a scarf wrapped around her head.  I immediately sensed she had cancer, and when I looked at the woman with her (I assume her mom), she was wearing a shirt that said "All I want for Christmas this year is a cure for cancer." 

The girl was selling hair ties with ribbons, sparkly barrettes and t-shirts that she had made with all of the proceeds going to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.  I purchased two hair ribbons and immediately placed one in my hair and the other I placed on the little guy's arm.  He loved watching the ribbons move every time he moved his arm.

Seeing this girl reminded me to put things into perspective.  During the holidays, please remember to give.  Give a little or a lot, give your time or money, give a smile......just give. 

Awkward Transition.....

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker's Program, I was selected to receive 2 coupons for one dozen free Land O Lakes eggs.  Our family eats eggs  A LOT and we were excited to put these eggs to the "taste test."

According to their website, Land O Lakes All-Natural eggs are produced by hens who are fed a "premium all vegetable, whole-grain diet, rich in corn and soy protein - with no animal fat or animal by-products."  It makes me feel good to know that I am able to feed a quality product to my son.


Yummy eggs!

 Am I the only one who is impressed that the eggs have a protective covering on top of them?

The hubby whipped up some scrambled eggs. 


The verdict?  I thought they were yummy, and I'm pretty sure the little guy agreed!

"Mom, can you please stop taking a picture and just feed me the eggs?"

Mmmmm!
 The eggs get a "thumbs up" from the New Weigh of Life family.

Question of the Day:
What was the highlight of your weekend?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday!

Things have been hectic over at the New Weigh of Life househould. (But seriously, when are they NOT hectic?) The little guy is getting into everything now, from the trashcan to the fridge, the steps and even the laundry.

So today, I'm thankful that I have my little laundry helper.



What are the chances that he'll remain that excited about helping mom fold the laundry? Slim to none? Yeah, I think so too!

Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?
Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Let's Talk: The Holidays

Happy Tuesday!

Has anyone else been inundated with holiday* ads, music and decorations wherever they go?  On Saturday, when I was running some errands, I noticed one radio station playing Christmas music non-stop.  Today, while driving the little guy to the babysitter's house, I noticed another station who is cranking out the Christmas tunes one right after the other from now until Christmas.

It's downright annoying, in my opinion.  Don't get me wrong, I love the Christmas season but isn't this way too early?

Source
What's the rush?  Why can't we slow down and appreciate one holiday at a time?  By the time Christmas comes around, I feel like I can't stomach one more Christmas carol or look at one more string of lights.  This year, instead of standing in one long line after another, fighting crowds and being a Grinch, I'm choosing to do all of my shopping online. It's easy, it's convenient, and I don't have to worry about over-crowded malls.  Plus, think of all the time I'll save! 

What will I do with all the extra time I'm dreaming of?  Simple - spend time with the family, bake a little more and spend more time relaxing.

Despite the stress of hearing Christmas music on the radio already, my meal last night was anything but stressful.

Penne with Parmesan cheese
This holiday season, do yourself a favor and try not to get sucked into the craziness of it all.  Slow down, take a rest and enjoy and extra cup of hot chocolate.

*For purposes of this post only, when I say "holidays" I'm referring to Christmas - only because that's what I celebrate!

Question of the Day:
Does the holiday season stress you out?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Other posts in the Let's Talk Series


Monday, November 14, 2011

Weekend Recap

Happy Monday!

How was your weekend? Mine flew by, as usual, but it was really fun. On Saturday, the hubby had to work at night, so the little guy and I headed to my mom's house for some yummy Stromboli's.


Afterwards, I mentioned to my mom that the little guy loves The Lawrence Welk Show. Turns out it was on TV - lucky us!

Sidebar - am I the only person who knows about this show?




It's one of the cheesiest shows I've ever seen, but it holds a special place in my heart.  My grandmom used to watch it with her mother, and I have fond memories of watching it with my grandmom and mom. Needless to say, the little guy enjoys it whenever it's on TV.  I'd like to think it's the music he clings to and not the fashion choices of the cast members.

Yesterday, the family headed over to my mother-in-law's house to celebrate her birthday.  I swear we've had a birthday almost every weekend for the past month.  I'm all birthday-ed out!!  When we came home, I finished up some cooking for the next week or so (more on that in another post) and then took a nap.  I'm not sure what's gotten into me but lately I've been craving naps.  Having a 13 month old really tires you out, I guess!

Question of the Day:
What was the highlight of your weekend?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday!
A few months ago, my sister-in-law gave me a ton of clothes for the little guy ranging from 12 months - 4 years old.  While I am extremely thankful for the clothes, the boxes have literally taken up our entire basement.  The hubby and I keep telling ourselves that we are going to clean out the room and sort through the clothes.  It feels like we never have the time, but really, we never make the time.

To put it bluntly, I am one of the most disorganized people I know, and for my own sanity, that has to change!



Source
 Last night the hubby suggested we take 15 minutes each night after the little guy goes to bed and go through the totes.  Even after 15 minutes, we managed to get through one and half totes.  A little bit goes a long way, right?  Hopefully we can get this taken care of soon!

Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Recipe on a Crowd?

Happy Tuesday!! Thank you for all the sweet birthday wishes for my mom yesterday - I know she appreciated them!

Do you have food rules that you live by? One food rule I recently broke was this: never try out a new recipe on a crowd. If it goes wrong, you're pretty much screwed.

I semi-broke this rule over the weekend and boy did it feel good!! As I mentioned yesterday, I was in charge of making the lasagna for my mom's birthday dinner. What I hadn't told you was that I made the lasagna on Friday when the hubby was working and I was alone with the little guy. Along with the lasagna, I also made most of my meals for the week. With all of that cooking going on, I wanted to simplify my lasagna recipe.  Cooking is extremely challenging with only one parent at home!

After chatting with my friend Ron, he told me I didn't have to boil the lasagna noodles before I baked it - even without using the no boil noodles. I know he makes his lasagna this way but I was skeptical. I wasn't sure if I wanted to attempt it because if the dish didn't turn out, we wouldn't have anything else to fall back on.

I carefully weighed each alternative in my head, but in the end I decided to go for it. All I did was add in some extra tomato sauce gravy and increase the baking time from 35 minutes to one hour. (Side bar - it was also recommended to me to add two eggs to my ricotta cheese for extra fluffiness and oh boy was that awesome!)

After about an hour, I uncovered the lasagna and was left with this:


I tested the noodles with the fork and lo and behold they were soft. I continued to bake it uncovered for an additional ten minutes.

The verdict?

Everyone enjoyed it and kept saying how yummy it was. When I told my mom I didn't boil the noodles she was stunned!

I don't think I'll ever boil lasagna noodles again! Thanks so much for the tip, Ron!

Question of the Day:
Do you have any "food rules?"

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, November 7, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Happy Monday!!

Today is my Mom's birthday.

I'm lucky enough to say that my Mom is my very best friend. She's the one I can turn to when times get tough. She's the one who listens when I need to vent or talk incessantly about something.  She's the person who understands me better than I understand myself.  She's the kindest, sweetest person I know. 

She's the one who shows my son a love that only a grandmom can....


We celebrated my Mom's birthday with a dinner on Saturday night.  I was in charge of the lasagna and cake and my brothers were in charge of side dishes.

It was great to get together with my brothers and my niece and nephew.  I'm pretty sure my Mom enjoyed it too!

The picture below is perhaps one of my favorites of the evening.  My brothers and I filled a picture frame with lots of pictures of her grandchildren and children. 


My Mom has always been sentimental at heart, but no gift compares to the gift she gives her children and grandchildren each and every day.

Happy birthday, Mom! I love you!

Question of the Day:
What was the highlight of your weeekend?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday!

Woo hoo - only one more day until the weekend!  I can't wait!

In keeping up with the Thankful Thursday theme, today, I am thankful for a reality check my mom gave me on Monday night.  Her reality check is what prompted my Let's Talk: Learning to Say No post.  My mom made me realize what's going on around me, the steps I need to take to learn how to say no, and how to make sure I don't miss quality time with the little guy.

Something I've learned about my mom is that she is ALWAYS right.  I sure hope I inherit her wisdom one day. 

My mom and the little guy
So thanks, mom, for calling me out on things and opening my eyes.  I love you!

Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Let's Talk: Learning to Say No

Happy Wednesday!

I'm thinking of starting a "Let's Talk" series here on the blog.  This series will be about things that I need to talk about.  I mean really, we all need to vent at one point or another, right? 

Today, I want to talk about learning how to say no.  Am I the only one who struggles with this?

Source
I say yes when I should say no.  There, I said it.  Between working my full-time job, working at Weight Watchers Saturday mornings, being a mom, a wife and fulfilling other countless roles, my life has become overloaded.  Sometimes it feels as if everyone depends on me to get things done.  The reality of it is that I can be a huge control freak.  At work, when professors need things done at the last minute, I rush around like a maniac to get things completed.  I refuse help because I think it's easier to stress out than to explain to someone else how to do something.  Dishes need to be done?  I'll do it because I think I can get it done faster than the hubby.  Lunches need to be made?  I can do it.  Someone has to get dinners made for the week?  I have a blog, so let me cook.  Ridiculous, right?

The sad part is that all of this "saying yes" has made me exhausted, worn out, and above all, cranky.....and I mean really cranky.  I'm realizing that I'm walking a very thin tightrope and I'm ready to fall off.  I'm taking things out on the people I love because I feel like I can't keep up with all of life's demands.

So starting today, starting now, I'm going to learn to say no.  I'm going to give up the control and allow people to help me.  Saying no to things that won't leave me satisfied.  Saying no to things that cause stress.  Saying no to things that will keep me away from this guy....


Question of the Day:
Do you have a hard time saying no?  How do you keep things balanced?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Other posts in the Let's Talk series

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fuel Before Trick-or-Treating

Happy Tuesday!

My grandmom's 84th birthday was a lot of fun. I think she enjoyed herself!


I was able to leave work a little bit early yesterday so I could get home in enough time to eat dinner and change the little guy into his Halloween costume.  This year the little guy was a clown.  My grandmom made the costume 32 years ago, for my oldest brother.  Pretty much everyone in my family has worn the costume at one time or another (myself included) so it was neat to see the little guy wearing something so special.

We didn't actually take him around trick-or-treating because he can't eat the candy. We put him outside in his coach while we handed out candy and he seemed to be content.



Before we could sit outside, though, we had to fuel up. It was really cold and we needed something to give us enough energy to weather the cold. Wanna know what we chose?


Seriously, did you think it would be something else other than pasta? Haha.

The hubby and I have lived in our house for three years and this was the first year that we didn't get a lot of kids.  We still have some candy left over, which is not good for me!

Question of the Day:
How was your Halloween?  Did you give out a lot of candy?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie