Thursday, July 21, 2016

WHAT TO EAT ON A MORNING WHEN YOU MAKE AN ANNOUNCEMENT...

Breakfast on the day of an announcement should be an especially good one.


Hash browns, perfect scrambled egg, avocado, Gimme Some Oven restaurant style salsa

This announcement has been a long time coming, and isn't even that exciting (spoiler alert: not a baby, not a move).

I'm officially closing my Etsy shop.

I've been on "vacation mode" all summer, but have been thinking about this since March. There are many reasons behind this. First and foremost, it's not enjoyable anymore. In the words of KonMari, it's not sparking any joy. Part of the reason I initially loved my little shop was I loved making orders for people, I loved working up new ideas and shipping them off to my customers. But now, I do not. There are a lot of politics at Etsy these days. "Handmade" is not always what it seems. The site's updated rules allowed sellers to use mass production and only the "idea" needs to be handmade. And frankly, I can't compete with that-and I don't even want to. I have two kids and a husband and a job-I don't have time to produce 20 shirts a week, let alone 100+. And that's the other thing-between both kids in school and Neal and me at work, the time we have at home is our time and as the shop became more successful it felt like that time was being given over to me working on things for the shop-and I just don't want it that bad. It was not making enough for me to quit my day job, but it was enough to take away the down time I do have. 

I'm still happy to make things for friends and family-but because I want to and as gifts. But the commercial part of it I've never been good at and what it comes down to is this: I'm done. The end.

I do love this blog though! And you might have noticed that I've been posting mostly recipes lately, and that's because that is what I love. I love cooking and eating healthy and meal planning and my home. And that's what this space is going to be dedicated to: food, family, and a good life. I hope you'll stick around. 

And thank you to all my customers over the years: I truly loved making things for you and hope you loved them. I loved being part of baby announcements and baby showers and celebrating your children. Thank you so very much for letting me be a part of that.

-Michelle


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

TRADER JOE'S SHOPPING LIST: BASICS


Remember when I did a Whole 30? And then another one, minus Mother's Day? Oh, and all those recipes and meal plans where I can't stop talking about Whole 30 everything?

Whole 30 is kind of my jam, guys.

Since that first one, the husband and I mostly eat Whole 30 when we are at home. I love eating this way and I feel zero guilt when I truly enjoy my splurges, like during a recent weekend in New York City that involved both a meal of fresh gnocchi with three cheeses and macaroons from Bouchon, It's not a bad way to live. 

The thing is, Whole 30 eating, even Whole30ish eating, is not what one would call easy. The no sugar/no grains/no legumes/no alcohol/no dairy can making grocery shopping, well, hard. That stuff? It's. In. EVERYTHING. But fear not! Once you get the hang of it, it's totally doable. And you know what store has a bunch of stuff you can eat on Whole 30 and in Life After Whole 30 (that is a thing, it's a hash tag, it makes it real)?


If Whole 30 is my jam, Trader Joe's is the music system playing it. Ya'll, that store is a happy place. (I understand that TJ's are not everywhere, and for that I am sorry, guys. I have to drive 40 minutes to get to mine and the parking lot is a maze that is intent on trapping my car there, if it makes you feel better). I always pick up these 10 things when I'm there as pantry basics. 

1. Flowers. Yes, not a food, but this is a happy place, remember? You always leave with a gorgeous bouquet of $5.99 flowers. 2. Riced Cauliflower. I love this stuff, we eat cauliflower rice at least once a week. 3. Shredded Hash Brown Potatoes. I season them with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika and they cook up amazingly crisp and delicious. 4. Frozen Seafood Blend. This mix of shrimp, calamari rings, and scallops is bomb. 5. Creamy Almond Butter. This is the best tasting almond butter out there, hands down. 6. Clarified Butter aka Ghee. An essential to any Whole 30/Paleo kitchen. 7. Organic Maple Syrup. This is NOT Whole 30 (but maple syrup is paleo). It is a fantastic price. 8. Coconut Oil and Olive Oil. Another two staples at great prices. 9. Almond Meal. This is a great substitute for flour in many recipes. 10. Salt and Pepper Pistachios. It is super hard to find seasoned nuts that are Whole 30 compliant but these are and they taste amazing.

While I'm not doing an official Whole 30 currently, these things are always in my pantry and fridge. It makes it so much easier to eat Whole 30ish if you have a fridge and pantry full of good food. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

RUSTIC BEEF & ZUCCHINI FRITTATA


Frittatas are both an easy and delicious food. This egg dish tastes equally good warm or cold, and can be a perfect meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Also, as long as you have eggs, you can put pretty much anything in a frittata and have it taste good.

This beef and zucchini frittata is Whole 30 (so that means gluten, sugar, and dairy free!) and super easy to whip up during food prep. You can make it on Sunday and have it in your fridge for breakfasts and lunches all week or you can serve it for brunch on Sunday. I'm, using ground beef in this one, but it would be equally delicious with ground turkey if you don't eat beef, or with potatoes and bell peppers if you don't eat meat. That's the genius of frittatas: you can make it totally to your taste AND clean our your fridge at the same time. It's a winner.

(Also, I called it rustic because I like the top of my frittatas to be browned and also I don't have to worry about it looking perfect. Fun fact: "rustic" makes it sound like your not perfect things are that way on PURPOSE so you never have to feel like you've failed. Try it out:

"I made a rustic birthday cake!" instead of "I totally ran out of frosting."

See?? Totally changes the perspective. You're welcome.)

Rustic Beef & Zucchini Frittata

Ingredients:
1/2 lb. ground beef
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
8 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp. cooking fat, such as olive oil or ghee (or butter if you aren't trying for whole 30/no dairy)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the ground beef in a heavy bottom pan over medium high heat, until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper. Remove meat to a plate and drain the pan, retaining one tablespoon of grease. Add zucchini and onion to pan. Season with salt and pepper and cook until vegetables are softened and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Return beef to pan and combine. Add cooking fat. Pour in beaten eggs and gently fold into meat and veg mix. Allow to sit, without stirring 3-5 minutes, until eggs are set on the side and bottom of pan, but still wet looking. *Carefully transfer to a pie dish  Cook under the broiler (or at 500 degrees) for 5 minutes until the top is browned and eggs are cooked. Serve warm or refrigerate. Can be reheated of served cold.

Enjoy!

*If you're cooking the frittata in a cast iron pan or other oven safe pan, you do not need to transfer it to a pie dish; you can simply stick that pan in the oven. I use the pie pan because it's easier to store in the fridge and I need my cast iron throughout the week. 




Sunday, July 3, 2016

B+ GOALS: JULY

July is here and it is 100%, officially, wonderfully, SUMMER. We've been at the pool, out on the boat, barbecuing, and just enjoying every minute possible outside. Yeah summer!
My B+ Goals are going to be much more relaxed the next two months, because we are big proponents of slow summer around here. The kids aren't in any activities, I'm off work until September, and we live in a neighborhood that celebrates kids playing outside all day, and we are here for it. 

Let's review last month's goals:

1. Enjoy Ava's birthday party. I 100% did! We had her birthday party at Build A Bear and it was worth every penny. A+

2. Get to bed on time. NOPE. D.

3. Write something everyday. C-. I didn't write everyday like I was hoping too, in fact I even slacked off on my daily bullet  journal entries. 

4. Donate all our crap. YES!!! A+

5. Have a really nice Father's day for the husband. Did it! We went out on the boat and had a fantastic dinner at home. 

Onto this month!

1. Get in a Date Night. Living far from relatives, it's often hard for the hubs and me to get in a night to ourselves. I'm going to make it a priority this month.

2. Tone It Up Bikini Series, Round 2. I finished the first 8 weeks and headed into Part two this week!

3. Clean Out The Kids Closets. I'm tackled all the other closets in this house and they are next on the list! 

Just the three for this month! There are lots of other things I plan on doing this month: writing more, working on new recipes,  eating healthy, really working in my bullet journal. But, as far as goals I truly want to keep myself in check about, this is it. I want a carefree summer. I want to enjoy these days with my children and my husband and my home.  And I hope you're enjoying your summer, be it jammed packed or extra slow. 

Friday, July 1, 2016

WEEKLY MEAL PLAN // WEEK 26


This weeks grocery list looks smallish, but that's because I already made a trip to Trader Joe's this week, Our produce list is extra long because the husband and I are eating Whole 30 hardcore. (Obviously, the kids are not, ie: waffles at-least-they're-whole-grain-don't-judge-me).

Also, I switched Monday and Tuesday meals since it's the Fourth and we want to grill.

Recipes from:

Thai salad from Against All Grain  I'm using chicken instead of shrimp this week, and no maple syrup

Slow Cooker Picadillo from Skinny Taste My kids love this!

Herb Grilled Chicken from Gwyneth Paltrow's It's All Good

Cashew Cookie Bars from The Wonky Spatula


Happy Fourth of July Weekend!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

KIDS IN THE KITCHEN

I'm pretty passionate about teaching my children how to cook. I never learned how to cook as a child; my mother didn't like cooking (she actually owned a cookbook called "The I Hate To Cook Cookbook") and so she didn't think about teaching me how to make anything. But I've always had an interest and after taking a home economics class in the 8th grade, I taught myself how not only to cook, but found that I love it. And this is a skill that I want to pass on to both my kids.


I mentioned that once a week over the summer, I'm having the kids cook dinner. I let them chose what we eat, they help with the shopping, and they cook it all themselves, to the best of their ability. Of course, I'm there to help-especially with heat and knives-but for the most part, the goal is for them to do it themselves (and the bigger goal is for them to be self-sufficient adults who can grocery shop and cook without batting an eye and won't be calling me from their dorm room asking how to microwave Spaghetti-O's).

So how to get started having your kids help out in the kitchen?

Start Young. Both of my kids have been helping in the kitchen since they could stand on a stool. Start with simple things like whisking, stirring, wiping the counters, and measuring ingredients. As they get older, give them new, more advanced skills. (Don't fret if your kids are already older, they too can learn, promise.) Which leads us to...

Don't Underestimate Them. Kids are capable. I personally find this set of skills pretty accurate, but of course, as with anything, consider your child's personal ability and maturity when making decisions about what kitchen skills are best for them. (But totally remind them to wash their hands because, they're kids and they are germ traps.)


Source: Williams Sonoma

Lay The Groundwork. Make sure they understand how to read over a recipe, make a grocery list of what they need, and plan out their meal. All these steps add up to successfully being able to make that meal!

Let Them Take the Lead and Let It Go. This is harder for some people (ahem, ME) then others. When you let kids cook, there will be mistakes and messes and you just need to hold your tongue and let them enjoy the process. But also...

Make Time For Clean Up. Clean up is part of cooking and make sure your kids know that and help. Maybe there will be less of a mess next time! (probably not, let's be real.)

Indulge Them A Bit. For their Thursday menus, I encourage my kids to chose foods they like and are healthy, but I let them chose a dessert of their choice too. Teaching them balance, even at a young age, is part of the life skills they'll need of a happy healthy life!






Friday, June 24, 2016

WEEKLY MEAL PLAN // WEEK 25


*This is obviously not the the 25th time I've posted my weekly plan, since this is a new series I'm starting here, It is however, the 25th week of the year, and the 25th week of meal planning in general for me this year :). 

Every week in my bullet journal, I write out my weekly meal plan, my grocery list, and a list of things I want to prep for the week. And I'm letting you guys have a sneak peek at it, cross-outs and all! Plus links to some of the recipes I'm using this week.  For me, meal prep is essential to a smooth running week. It makes a difference in my entire mood and only takes a couple hours. And it allows us to sit down as a family almost every night for dinner.

This week I'm making these recipes:

Chicken Gyro Salad from Smitten Kitchen  I've been using a lot of SK recipes lately, mostly from her cookbook. It's a great book if you're looking for one to pick up!

Chicken Lettuce Cups from Shutterbean This are a HUGE hit with my family.

My own Whole 30 compliant meatballs

Paleo Tzatziki from Jay's Baking Me Crazy

When the weather is nice, we basically barbecue/salad it up all weekend and Monday through Thursday I try to focus on simple, healthy meals. This summer, I'm having the kiddos cook on Thursdays, to the best of their ability. The idea is that they chose what to make and then, with minimal assistance, make dinner themselves. Last week was our first week trying this out, and they loved it! We'll see how they feel come the last week of August.

Come back next week for another installment of weekly meal plans!*

*Hopefully I can manage to do this weekly!!