Meal Plan — September 26

Another week! Nothing really going on, still working on the house. We’re going on vacation next month so I’m getting mentally ready for that. I will hopefully have some before and after house pictures up soon once I get my finishing touches in the kitchen. All of our painted cabinet doors are finally back up. I’m on the lookout for a small island, plus some little touches like a new toaster (ours broke during the move or something) and hopefully a new rug.

Here’s my meal plan for the week!

Sausage and Spinach Pasta – I haven’t made this dish in a while, it’s simply pasta and sliced sausage with spinach.

Chicken, Brown Rice and Veggie Casserole – This is a new dish, but it sounds delicious, and will be a bit more work than usual.

A ground turkey dish, not sure which one at the moment. Either Cheesy Hamburger Casserole or Ground Turkey and Peppers. I like the normal dishes I make with ground turkey, but I’m a bit tired of them at the moment. So I found these both on Pinterest.

Shrimp Couscous – This one will be my own recipe, combining the features from a few different ones.

Book Review — More-with-Less by Doris Janzen Longacre

This edition will be released on September 27, 2016. I received a copy through NetGalley.

This is an older cookbook, but a special edition is being released for its 40th anniversary. A lot of the cookbooks out now have gorgeous pictures but they’re not really practical for everyday use. This one has less pictures of the food, but most of the recipes are made up of normal ingredients you would find at your supermarket and they’re very simple.

I really like the format of the recipes as well. Instead of just a list of ingredients and then the steps of the recipe, they are combined. For example, the recipe below starts off with ‘brown in skillet ground beef, salt and pepper. Add and continue to saute onion and celery’ with the measurements, etc etc.

If I’m ever in the market for a new cookbook, this is definitely one I will look for at the bookstore. I had trouble picking one recipe to try, there were quite a few that looked delicious. I settled on ‘Hamburger Helper, Home-Style’ because I’m always looking for homemade versions of boxed meals. I grew up eating Hamburger Helper, and this was pretty close. I made it with ground turkey instead of beef of course, but followed the instructions closely otherwise.

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Meal Plan — September 19

Finally, we’re all mostly unpacked and things are getting back to normal! I only made two meals last week, we’ve been eating out or eating with my parents a lot this past week. My kitchen isn’t quite in order, but I’m working on it. I went from a small kitchen with 9 cabinets and about 6 drawers to a larger kitchen with 3 drawers and 9 cabinets. While my cabinets are larger now, I don’t really have more room to put things.

Over the weekend we painted the cabinets, doors and drawers white, so those all have to be reinstalled soon. I’ll be excited to show you a before and after once it’s done.

Today is my birthday, and I had to spend the morning at our old place waiting to turn the keys in. And now I have to work and do other things that I would normally do before lunch. Nothing special is going on for my birthday except my husband is taking me to Ikea next weekend, since I’ve been wanting to go forever.

I went grocery shopping for the first time at the Shaw’s close to our new house and I was so lost. In our old store, the jelly was in the middle of the store with the oils and canned fruit. In this store, it’s on the very last aisle across from the dairy, and with the bread. It’s going to take some getting used to. I also have an Aldi to visit and a second grocery chain to check out when they have a good sale.

Without further ado, the meal plan:

Baked Ravioli — Easy and quick to put together, perfect for the first meal in our new house. Free from stock.

Pasta and Sausage — While moving, I realized I had tons of frozen vegetables, so this is a recipe to use some of them up. Only bought some milk and chicken stock.

Green Pepper Casserole — A staple for us, something easy I can just pop into the oven. Free from stock.

Shrimp and Vegetables — Normally make this with spinach, but I’m going to try some other vegetables this time. Bought shrimp.

Stir Fry — My husband is not going to be happy with how many vegetables we’re eating this week, but it’s a good way to detox and get back on track after eating bad food for a week. Bought tofu.

Moving and a Fish Cake

Before I talk about moving, I want to talk about this cake. Back in June I made my very first cake(s) for our twin nephews who were turning 1. Another birthday rolled around for another nephew, turning 14, and my mother-in-law asked me to make a cake for him. He likes to fish, so he wanted a fish cake. With only that direction, I took to Pinterest for inspiration, and came up with this.


It was way easier than it looks. I made one 9×13 chocolate cake (his request) and cut out the middle in a football shape. I then placed two corners at the top and bottom for the fins, and two at the end for a tail. The fins and tail are not connected in any way. Then, I frosted it.

I used the same 6-minute buttercream recipe that I made for the Elmo cakes, and used a green gel food coloring to color it green.

Supplies needed to frost this fish cake:

  • One batch of buttercream frosting (dyed the color of your choice)
  • White frosting
  • Black frosting (for these I used the premade stuff in a bag you can buy with cake decorating supplies)
  • One piping bag
  • One coupler
  • One number 12 tip
  • One spreader of some sort (I used a butter knife, a frosting spatula would work much better)
  • One spoon (or a thin frosting spatula)

Chill the baked cake then cut it into shape. Place colored frosting in a piping bag with number 12 tip and pipe all over the cake generously. Spread to cover.

Once the cake is covered well in frosting, you can chill it further or just proceed to pipe the details. Place a few large dots of frosting near the tail of the fish, about quarter-sized, then using the spoon or spatula, pull the dot towards the head of the fish, as demonstrated in the picture below. Click the picture for more pictures and instructions.

Continue to dot frosting and spread them towards the head, staggering them as in the picture above. Once you’ve reached the head of the fish, stop and spread the rest of the frosting to blur the line there a bit.

Add the eye of the fish with some black and white frosting (or whatever colors you wish). You can also outline the fins like I did, but I was just trying to use the frosting up. Add whatever other details you like.

Voila, fish cake!

I can’t wait to get moved. We’re getting the carpet installed on Wednesday, moving some stuff over, and then the movers are coming on Thursday morning for our furniture and boxes.

I didn’t make a meal plan for this week, as I really didn’t want to go food shopping. Since we only need about two meals, I’ll be throwing some together from my pantry and freezer. The benefits of stocking up!

Meal Plan – September 6

We got the house! This week has been insane. We closed on Wednesday and spent this entire past long weekend working. We painted three whole rooms and touched up some others. I painted my kitchen yellow and the two bedrooms an aqua blue. The living room and all common areas are white, so we found a matching color and touched up places, including a section of wall that had been replaced and was just drywall.

My husband and dad plan on opening the wall of the laundry room to fix the vents, and when they replace the wall I’ll be painting that as well, along with the bathrooms eventually. The bathrooms will also get facelifts eventually as well.

We got a new fridge and dishwasher because they were both original 80s basically, but the stove was decently new. The kitchen faucet got replaced and one of the bathroom faucets drips and needs to be fixed. There are a lot of little things that need to be done still but other than the carpet and dishwasher being delivered, we’re pretty much ready to move in.

Last Week’s Meals:

Sunday Night: Double Delicious Pasta. One of my favorite dishes, the addition of sausage makes it a lot more hearty and nutritious.

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Monday Night: Green Pepper Casserole. Such an easy dish, and delicious. I adore green peppers.

Tuesday Night: Shrimp and Rice. I was going to make shrimp and orzo, but I decided to go for rice and add some edamame as well.

Thursday Night: Brown Sugar Baked Chicken. Forgot to take a picture of this one, but it was pretty good. I marinated it for a few hours before baking and it was moist and tasty. I served it with baked potatoes.

This Week:

Since it’s a short week already, I only have three dishes for the week. I tried to keep the costs down by using a lot of stuff I already had on hand.

Chicken Parmesan Rice  — A simple dish, I’m really excited to try this. Meal cost for the week: $3.07 for chicken. I already had all other ingredients.

Sausage and Scallop Skillet — I bought some scallops a week or two ago and got some sausage this week. Limited meals for the week means I can double up on meat. Meal cost for the week: $3.66

Hamburger Helper Copycat — This is from a cookbook I’ll be featuring later on. All I had to buy was celery, so it worked out perfectly. Meal cost for the week: $4.78

Total meal cost for the week: $11.51, but I can use the chicken for other meals as well and the celery.