At the end of last year Scott and I went out for a big fun day date.  As we thought back over the year and looked ahead at the new year we talked about things we wanted to do differently in the coming year. 

Scott had a few suggestions on the food front.  One was that we eat more meatless dinners.  He was not advocating we go vegetarian…(good thing too b/c this meat and potato loving gal would have surely lasted all of 2 days at best) the other was that we starting eating more fish.  And, truthfully, eating any amount of fish even once would have been significantly more than we’ve ever eaten.  Because, to be honest, I don’t like fish and therefore I don’t cook fish.   I hide behind the fact that since I don’t eat it, I wouldn’t know how to cook it… but truthfully, it’s because the look, smell, and texture disgust me.

But, I was willing to give it a try.  Because I love my man.

I decided to instill Meatless Wednesdays at our house and to cook fish for dinner once a month.     6 weeks into the endeavor and we’re having some successes.   Actually, more successes than failures!

To be honest, I was skeptical at first.  But, then after scouring the internet and calling on my face book friends, I’ve found it really fun to come up with a whole slew of new recipes to try.  I didn’t realize I had been in a rut, until I discovered how much fun I was having stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things.  I picked Wednesday b/c it is a night that we are all usually home for dinner.  I didn’t want to launch any new meals when I was flying solo for dinner or when we were eating in the gymnastics waiting room.

Though part way through the month I realized Meatless Mondays would have had more of a ring to it, with the alliteration factor and all… but we’re kinda all stuck on meatless Wednesday and when you gotta good thing, you don’t want to mess with it.  (in fact, last week when Scott came home and saw our dinner he said, “Oh it must be Wednesday’!”)

Anyway, I thought I’d share some of our successes and failures for Meatless Wednesday

Squash Ravioli—this was delicious, it was so sweet and everyone in the family loved it.  I was delighted to find Safeway carried in their own generic brand.  Not only is it meatless, it is easy.. Boil water, pop in ravioli, 7 minutes later serve with melted buttered on top.   (definitely added to our meal rotation)

Sweet Potato Burritos-  another hit.  This tasted like comfort food to me.  My oldest son loved it as did both my husband and I.  The girls and my youngest ate it, not their favorite, but not a huge fight put up either.  Have already served it twice and will continue to serve it regularly.  It is quick, easy, and also great for eating on the go… like say, at gymnastics….

Mexican Pierogies.– hmmm, not such a hit.  I knew well enough to serve the ingredients individually rather than all together when serving the kids.  Which helped… the girls don’t care for potatoes so needless to say they weren’t so fond of the pierogies.… they ate the noodle on the outside.   My oldest son loved them.  When I served them for Scott and I by combining the tomatoes, beans and pierogies, I kinda messed it up, so it didn’t turn out quite right.  All that to say, I can see pierogies. making another appearance, but first time around wasn’t a smashing success.

Squash Tortellini– I tried a variation on a recipe from Wegmans which for some reason won’t link up right now… basically I served normal tortellini, using squash soup as the sauce, with chunks of squash in there too.  Scott wasn’t a fan.  He felt the squash soup was too sweet and too much for him.  I am wondering if he would have liked it better with the goat cheese stuffed tortellini.  But, I didn’t think the kids would.  The kids didn’t really care for the soup either.  I didn’t mind it, but didn’t love it either.  Probably won’t be serving that one again. 

Pad Thai with Tofu-  this was so, so good… basically peanut butter sauce over noodles, was how I described it to the kids.  The boys both devoured it, as did Scott and I.  The girls ate it.  Didn’t love it, but ate it.

Tofu-Veggie Hotdogs-  I made these for the kids tonight to eat at gymnastics.  My oldest daughter loved them.  She said they didn’t taste like the normal ones, but she still liked them… and ate 3.  No one else cared for them.  And I gotta say, they smelled bad.  My son said, “What are these?  I know these aren’t made of pig!”  I think next time we’ll try grilling them and serving with toppings rather than just plain.  But, truthfully, I think they are going to be a hard sell.

Fish Nuggets– I tried these at lunch a few times.  The only one who likes them is my 4 year old and she LOVES them. But, I think she has proven to be the fish eater of the crew.  She begged for more last time we were at Trader Joes and happily eats them for lunch while the others eat “real” nuggets… aka  chicken

Then there’s fish.  I had heard that tilapia was a good fish for those that don’t like fish.  Since that described me, that was the first fish I opted for.  I baked it with lemon pepper seasoning and served it to the kids and I with ketchup for dipping.  Scott and my 4 year old LOVED it, going back for more on their own free will.  The rest of us ate it.  Which, truthfully is a success. 

So….. we had it again in Feb already.  (I’ll be honest, I kinda try to serve it early in the month to get it out of the way, b/c when I make my monthly meal plans I get excited about certain meals, eagerly looking forward to making/eating them… fish isn’t one I’m excited about so I don’t want it hanging over my head all month).    I went with tilapia again b/c it worked last month.  This time, I baked it with seasoned salt for the kids and for Scott and I , I sprinkled seasoned salt and then poured salsa and shredded cheddar on it.  Next time I make it, I will not put the seasoned salt on it… too salty.  Otherwise, Scott loved it and I was able to eat it without ketchup.   This time all 4 kids willingly ate it all without complaint.    Next fish I’m going to try is white ruffy.  Someone posted about it on face book, so being a fish novice, I wrote it down when I saw it and bought it next time I was at Trader Joes. 

So far, I am enjoying spicing up the menu with some new things.  And the family seems to be embracing it well.  Meatless Wednesdays and Monthly Fish dinners, just might be working for me at the circus!

Any of you have any favorite fish or meatless dishes to share?  I’d love to add them to our menu!


mpm-1 I have found that by planning my meals for the month, I can drastically reduce our families grocery spending.   It takes time and a whole lot of effort though.  And to be honest the past several months I wasn’t so good about it.  But, then Scott and I sat down and took a look at our spending.  And we realized that we needed to be a whole lot better about sticking to our budget. 

And so, the first thing I did at the beginning of the month is sit down with google calendar and plan out my meals.  I made my grocery list based on this meal plan.  Then I took a trip to Walmart to stock up on a months worth of groceries.  I kid you not three separate people looked at me and my overflowing cart and one actually laughed at it. 

Some may think planning your meals out for a month isn’t flexible enough.  Basically, it is a rough estimate.  I can still switch things up a bit, but I know that aside from milk and produce, I have everything I need for the months worth of meals.  If I want to switch the meal from the 13 to the 27th, there is not rule saying I can’t.  And I don’t have to wrack my tired brain at 5:00 each day trying to figure out what we’re having for dinner.

We’re half way through the month and so far we’re on pace for sticking with the January grocery budget!  So, I thought I’d share what’s working for us at the circus as well as our meal plan for the week. 

Sunday– breakfast for dinner:  waffles

Monday– lasagna, rolls, green beans

Tuesday– dinner at a friends house, I’m bringing dessert… any suggestions? I am trying to make something without having to go out and buy any new ingredients…otherwise, I’d totally make this.  Anyone have a yummy desert recipe I can make with ingredients you have on hand around the house?

WednesdaySarah’s Creamy Broccoli Cheese Soup, home made rolls

Thursday– I am going out for a girls night with my SIL and good friend… we’re eating at Chipotle, then watching this movie, and enjoying some “Gilmore Girls style” junk food. 

The fam, however, will be eating pepperoni bread, applesauce, and corn.

Fridaychicken pot pie (or as my kids call it… vegetable pie…they are excited b/c it is sure to make their ears taste disgusting)

Saturday-  French toast, sausage

You can check out org junkie for more menu planning ideas.


Gana’s French Toast

September 8, 2009

in Meals,recipes

Nana and MeI love my husband’s Nana.   She’s a remarkable lady.   I loved her for years, just based on hearing about her from her grandson and reading her sweet letters.  Then, I flew to California and met her.  And I loved her as my own Nana!! 

When I walked in her side door, I instantly felt at home.  I sat down at her table and never wanted to leave again.

Gana (as my kids call her b/c she is their Great Nana) is famous for her quince jam, her tacos, and her French toast (among many other things).

Being a mother of three boys, she is used to making food in bulk.  And her method of making French toast totally works for me!

waffled french toastI used to cook my French toast one at a time in oil in a frying pan.  Not exactly healthy or quick. Then a few years ago my in laws gave me a large waffle iron.  I squealed with delight, “Now I can make French toast like Nana!” 

Yes, Gana’s secret for French toast is to cook it in one of those large waffle irons (not those tiny circular single serving Belgium waffles irons).  The waffle iron seems to seal in the taste in the bread and I love the fact that I can cook 4 at a time. 

French toast

It might not look like your average French toast… it def looks like a cross between a waffle and French toast.   Call it waffle toast…or French waffles…or toasted waffles…whatever you call it, call it breakfast…because it is delicious!   I’m telling you, it’s tasty, more healthy, and definitely quicker than my old method.  It’s worth a try, I promise you!



July 13, 2009

in Chick-Fi-lA,holidays,Meals

My family’s love for Chick-Fil-A goes deep and wide. 

chick fil fans for life

The first symbol my son recognized was for Chick-Fil-A.  He could “read” it at age 2.  And anytime he saw a cursive C he thought it stood for Chick-Fil-A.  At that same age, I showed him a symbol for the golden arches and he had no idea what it was. 

My daughter’s one year scrapbooks both have pages dedicated to their “first Chick-Fil-A” kids meal experience. 

eat more chicken It’s this deep love for Chick-Fil-A which prompts me to dress my crew like cows and herd them to the local Chick-Fil-A for cow appreciation day every year.  I don’t don cow costumes simply for my desire to get free food.  I do it because I love Chick-Fil-A.  I can tell you right now that if McDonald’s offered me a free meal for dressing like a farm animal, you would not find me showing up dressed head to toe as a cow or chicken or any other mammal. 

I save this public humiliation for one fast food franchise alone.

we love chick fil a 

dear, sweet Chick-Fil-A

…with it’s delicious real, not processed chicken sandwiches and nuggets, it’s sweet tea which is so delicious I would give up my Coke A Cola addiction for it, it’s table toppers so my kids don’t have to eat off messy tables, it’s second miles service with cashiers who will willingly take my tray to the table as I am busy juggling kids, and drinks, and food,  the hostesses who come to my table and refill our drinks, not to mention the indoor play areas, hand spun milkshakes, and Christian values.  Need I go on?  Shall I say more? 

This year we had our very close friends join us for the festivities.  We’d been looking forward to it for weeks.  When D day or shall we say Cow day arrived, they were in the midst of trying to buy a house. They actually invited us to take a look at the house before our IMG_0149dinner date.  While there they decided they did indeed want to put an offer out on the house.  But what about cow appreciation day?  Their realtor graciously offered to follow us to Chick-Fil-A for them to sign their papers.  He ate his dinner while our families enjoyed our dinner date.  Then they signed on the dotted line, cow costume and all, while we entertained the kiddos in the play area.  I can only imagine the conversation he had with his wife that night.  “Honey, you’ll never believe the clients I met with today.  No, no dinner for me dear.  I ate at work…the crazy couple were wearing cow costumes as they filled out the paper work.  Yes, that’s right I said cow costumes….”

Yeah, we’re branded all right…and we seem to share this obsession with our friends as well.

cow tipping**Cow tipping takes on new meaning as my little calf/acrobat gets down on all fours and asks if I want some milk, after which she does a summersault on the playground floor.


How Long?

June 23, 2009

in family dinners,Meals

imagesDinner time….the family all gathered around the table, enjoying a delicious meal, talking about the day, laughing and enjoying one another…statistics say that families that consistently eat dinner together tend to raise healthier, more well behaved children, then families that don’t.   So, what are we doing wrong?

More often than not the Circus Family eats breakfast and dinner together as a family.   More often than not our dinner “hour” is more like a dinner hour and a half.  I wish I could say it as because of our scintillating conversations.  However, my kids are what I fear the slooooowest eaters on the eastern seaboard.  (unless it’s dessert or some other food they particularly enjoy).  But give them chicken and you can pretty much forget about doing anything other than getting ready for bed after dinner that night.

This causes great frustration to my husband and I.  The kids and I typically wait for Scott to get home so we can eat together.  This means we usually sit down around 6:00 for dinner.  If the kids stretch things out the average 1.5 hrs than we aren’t getting up till around 7:30.  Leaving us no time for that walk around the neighborhood, or trip to the park after dinner.  It’s usually just time for a little playing on the floor and then teeth brushing, fluoride, and bedtime stories.    Scott would love to have more time to spend playing with the kids rather than watching them stare at their plates. 

We have tried various tactics to shorten the time around the table.  They have worked to various degrees.  My question for you all, is “how long?”

How long does dinner typically take your family?  Am I alone on this or is it merely par for the course at this stage of our family life? 


It’s Monday again and time to post this weeks meal plan. Be sure to click on the link above if you want to see what other people are serving their families this week. I have discovered many fun new recipes from participating in this carnival.

  • Monday: Tonight is my last MOPS meeting of the year. Since I arrive early for set up, I skip dinner and eat at the meeting. Daddy will be serving fish to the kids tonight. (Perfect plan for me b/c I hate fish (the smell, sight, and taste) so I don’t have to cook it, eat it or clean up after it, BUT my hubby and the kids get to enjoy the healthy change of pace. I got frozen cod fillets for them. They liked them last week, so here it goes again!!
  • Tuesday: I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand last week to make the Mexican Tortilla Soup, so I plan to get the necessary cans of Cream of Chicken Soup and serve it up tonight. The kids aren’t big soup fans, so I’ll just serve them the corn bread and save out the beans and a few pieces of chicken.
  • Wednesday: My husband has a Wednesday Night Sailing Race again tonight, since it’s just the kids and I we’ll keep it simple… I’m thinking grilled cheese for dinner.
  • Thursday: A nice, hearty lasagna sounds yummy for tonight.
  • Friday: We’re heading out, so I’ll pack pepperoni bread for us to eat in the van on the road.

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