Meal Plan Monday: Pizza and Corn or Corn on Pizza?

Meal Plan Monday

In our family, we love pizza in all of its forms.  We love Pizza Meatball Subs.  We love mini pizzas.  We love pizza grilled cheese.

And, as a carryover from when I was growing up and lived with my parents, we have canned corn with our pizza.

I’m not sure what was the origin of the corn-with-pizza meal concept was, but it’s been that way for as long as I remember.  It was so much a given that I never thought anything of it…until my sister met her future husband.

My now-brother-in-law has never understood the corn with pizza thing.  Josh was kinda taken aback by it, as well.

And that forced me to think:  are we crazy for eating pizza with corn?

A week or so ago the question was answered to my satisfaction.  A coworker saw me eating the pizza rolls from a few weeks back with corn and hooted her approval.  She reminded me that the school district used to serve pizza with corn.  In fact, she went a step further and described how she used to cover her pizza with corn.

I’ll give you a moment to ponder that.


Seriously, this next Saturday when we have pizza, I have to try the corn on the pizza thing.

To me, my convo with her PROVES that pizza MUST be served with corn.

‘Nuff said.

So…here is the lovely menu for the week.  I’m continuing to try one-two new dishes a week.

Saturday:  spaghetti and meatballs using Slow Cooker Pizza Meatballs, green salad, bread

Sunday:  dinner at Horseshoe for Muffin’s birthday at The Spread Buffet

Monday:  Josh is off, so he will grill something.

Tuesday:  taco Tuesday (probably with The Lego Movie)

Wednesday:  20 Minute Pork Chop Rice One Pot Recipe (Call Me PMC), green vegetable

Thursday:  hot dogs or leftovers

Friday:  Crock Pot Cashew Chicken (Favorite Family Recipes), rice, eggrolls

Saturday:  Home-Alone-Inspired Filthy Animal Pizza (Foxes Love Lemons), corn! (maybe while viewing Home Alone)

Sunday:  pork loin roast in the slow cooker (using my mom’s method with potatoes, carrots, and onion)

What’s on your meal plan for the week?

Cent Saving Saturday: Using Swagbucks to Buy School Supplies

Cent Saving Saturday

I may have mentioned this before, but I’m a teacher.  Teachers have to be very creative in finding ways to purchase classroom supplies.

The federal government reinstated for the 2014 tax year the tax credit for the first $250 in educator supply expenses, which is nice; don’t get me wrong.  Especially since it was nonexistent the previous year.  Our district gives us $100 for supplies, as well; again, this is nice.  But both are after-expenditure “rebates,” as you will.

With Muffin starting school this year, with all of his fees staring us in the face, a bit of alleviation of the upfront expenditures would be nice.

I’ve been collecting Swagbucks like a boss lately, trying to get 100 a day and meet the daily goal.  I came up with the idea of creating a supply replenishment list for next year.  I will buy Amazon gift cards, and, for the items of reasonable price, I will order them from Amazon–with the gift cards!

As July approaches, I will do the same thing with Walmart gift cards–for the back-to-school supply deals.

And now, on to this week’s deals:

Albertson’s (Friday-Sunday)

chicken leg quarters, 10 pound bag, $3.90 (limit 2 with $10 additional purchase)

bottom round roast, boneless, $1.99/pound (limit 2 with $10 additional purchase)

strawberries 1.99 for a one-pound package

Albertson’s weeklong deals

Niagara Water, 24 pack, $1.99 (limit 4)

Essential Everyday macaroni and cheese 50 cents

Essential Everyday canned  vegetables and tomatoes 50 cents

Albertson’s buns or bread 75 cents

Bar S Meat Franks 75 cents

Chef Boyardee cans or cups 79 cents each wyb 10

Gebhardt/Rosarita refried beans 79 cents wyb 10

live mussels $3.98/2 pound bag (Oddly enough, Muffin loves mussels)

lemons or limes 25 cents each

mangoes or cucumbers 50 cents each

Roma tomatoes 75 cents/pound


red seedless grapes 99 cents/pound

gallon milk or orange juice $2.99

Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, 7-Up 2 L $1 each wyb 5

Kraft Salad Dressing 99 cents wyb 4

Beneful dog food (14-15.5 pound bag) $12.79

What are the deals near you this week?

Funny Muffin Friday: Muffins Vocabulary (“Peckish”)

Funny Muffin Friday

Since he began talking, Muffin has had an interesting vocabulary.  He absorbs, seemingly by osmosis, words that he hears and is able to incorporate correctly in context in sentences.

He loves to try out new words, and sometimes we have difficulty discerning where he learned them.  For example, a few weeks ago, he used the word “peckish.”  His exact sentence was, “I’m peckish; I want something to eat.”

I called up my mom with a wry “thanks” for my dad, figuring that, since my dad taught him the meaning of the word “parched,” he also taught him the meaning of “peckish.”

My parents had no idea where he learned the word.  So, I called Muffin over and asked him where he learned it.  He answered me immediately–“Stampy.”

Inwardly–and possibly outwardly–I groaned.  Stampy Longnose is the bane of my existence, the You Tube character who plays WAY TOO MUCH Minecraft!

Josh was at work, so I called him.  He concurred with glee that Muffin learned the word “peckish” from watching Stampy.

Here is a picture of Muffin being parched–and peckish.

DSC_0676[1]What new vocabulary has your little one started using?

We Plan Wednesday: Summer Visitors–Food!

We Plan Wednesday

This June, Josh’s mom and stepfather are coming to visit us.  I think I started planning (and rethinking) the menu on the tails of the New Year’s Eve Fiesta.  To which, Josh said something along the lines of, “Can’t we finish with New Year’s before thinking of that?”

My planning mind doesn’t work that way.  Once I’ve planned something out, even if it hasn’t been fully executed, I have to begin planning something else.

Have to.

It’s an obsession.

Or a compulsion.

Either way, it must be done.

I presently am on version…um…5, I think, of the menu.  And, my mom through another ringer; she reminded me that she and my dad plan on taking everyone out to eat while they are visiting.  And, I think we are planning a run to New Orleans while they are here.  So…yah…I will plan on all of the meals, print out all of the recipes, add them to the recipe binder, make the shopping lists, and buy the ingredients…in case…and because I will make the meals anyway.

The menu has also changed as we’ve found recipes that we really like and want to share with Josh’s mom.

This is from Josh’s mom’s visit right after Muffin was born.  We plan on going to Avery Island (both the Tabasco factory and the Jungle Gardens) on this next visit with them.

And here is Muffin with one of his favorite people in the world…Grandpa Mark!

Now…where was I?  Oh, yes!  The menu.

Menu for Josh’s Mom’s Visit

Sunday June 21

Supper:  Baked Potato Bar

Dessert:  Strawberry Pie with Cool Whip (using my grandmother’s/sister’s recipe)


Monday June 22

Breakfast:  bacon, homemade sausage, eggs, toast, hash browns, beans, cheese

Snack:  Margarita Chex Mix from the Chex website

Lunch:  Pizza Meatball Subs (blog), chips, fruit

Supper:  Grilled Margarita Chicken (TSRI), chips, Carol’s salsa, homemade tortillas with butter, slow cooker refried beans

Dessert:  Coconut Cream Cake (Gene cake)


Tuesday June 23

Breakfast:  sausage gravy biscuit casserole, yogurt parfait, fruit

Snack:  Pepper Jelly/Cream Cheese and Crackers (and leftover Margarita Chex Mix)

Lunch:  Quesadillas (using leftover grilled chicken), chips, and salsa

Supper:  Dr. Pepper Pork Chops, Twice Baked Potato Casserole (Miss Kay’s), 7-Up Biscuits, broccoli with lemon zest

Dessert:  red velvet sheet cake


Wednesday June 24

Breakfast:  pancakes (Martha Stewart) and bacon and fruit

Snack:  Birthday Cake Popcorn Mix

Lunch:  Sloppy Joe Squares (Life in the Lofthouse), vegetable sticks and homemade ranch dip

Supper:  Ranch Chicken Enchiladas (LitL), Mexican Rice (, refried beans, guacamole, chips

Dessert:  Apple Pie Egg Rolls (Spend with Pennies)


Thursday June 25

Breakfast:  cereal, fruit, toast/homemade English muffins with homemade jam

Snack:  veg sticks with dip, chips with dip, fruit with dip

Lunch:  grandmother’s/Debbie’s chicken and dumplins, rolls (Mom rolls), salad

Supper:  Shredded Pork with Garlic Sauce (blog)—double batch, rice, egg rolls, fortune cookies

Dessert:  leftover desserts/fortune cookies


Friday June 26

Breakfast:  savory French toast casserole, fruit

Lunch:  sandwich bar

Snack:  churro chex mix

Supper:  pizza spiral rolls x 3 (meat, supreme, and Hawaiian), salad

Dessert:  ice cream sundae bar


Saturday June 27

Breakfast:  doughnuts and kolaches

P.S. Wish me luck!  Today is kindergarten pre-registration for our school district, and I am going to register Muffin!

Thoughtful Thursday: Parent Shaming?

Thoughtful Thursday

I actually have another tirade-style Thoughtful Thursday post in the wings, but I’m waiting to tweak it so that it isn’t so inflammatory.

Recently, on Facebook, I read a story about a restaurant in Canada that wanted to ban “screaming children” from its environs.  I mistakenly read the comments.  And felt my blood pressure kick it up a notch…several hundred notches, in fact.

I have a child that is energetic.  No, I don’t believe he has ADD, ADHD, spectrum disorder, or any of the alphabet soup of disorders.  Therefore, he is not a medicated walking zombie.

At times, we will go to restaurants and Muffin will behave really well.  P.S. At those restaurants, he usually behaves well because the waitstaff and patrons treat him well.  P.P.S.  I tend to behave well at those, as well.

And…other times…he doesn’t.

We try to mitigate those times.  We go to Chick-Fil-A, a “family restaurant.”  We try to eat at restaurants with booths and that will seat us in booths because, as we explained to one local restaurant that had booths that WOULDN’T seat us in a booth for reasons of their own, it’s easier to corral Muffin in a booth by keeping him trapped inside.

We try not to go at a busy time.

We try to pick restaurants with a children’s menu.  To me, by definition, restaurants with a children’s menu are “family restaurants.”  Don’t tease parents by having a children’s menu and then not welcoming children…all children.

According to the “individuals” who commented, children’s misbehavior in a restaurant is the sole fault of the parents.  It is not the fault of other patrons staring rudely and condescendingly (and glaringly) at children.  It is not slow, incompetent waitstaff who bring the wrong menu item to a child (or wait forever to wait on a family with children).

Even before becoming a parent, I never looked askance or rudely at parents struggling to maintain some sense of composure while addressing their child’s misbehavior.  I would never have rudely suggested that a parent walk out of the restaurant with the child to “calm the child down” (by the way, that doesn’t work).

Now, to be fair, Muffin usually doesn’t scream.  He whines.  He pouts.  He cries.  But he doesn’t scream.

Ultimately, some of the commentators cheered the manager of the restaurant for his policy, saying they would be glad to go there because it would be child-free.

I have the opposite opinion.  A restaurant where my child is not welcome is not a restaurant where I would feel welcome.

I understand that there are some restaurant patrons who feel as if children ruin their meal.  I also feel as if my meal is ruined by their scrutiny and judgmental stares.  I feel as if my meal is ruined by people who talk loudly into their cell phones or use inappropriate language at the table, but I’ve yet to be at a restaurant where those individuals are banned.  I feel as if my meal is ruined when a drunk bumps drunkenly into my table and spills my food and drink.

And to those who suggested that the parents just take their meal to-go?  Um, while I do enjoy the second meal a to go box provides, it never is as appetizing as it arrives on the plate in the restaurant.  I am a food blogger (as well as a mommy blogger).  When I eat out, it’s research a lot of the time.  And that research isn’t the same if it’s “to go.”

It goes back to:  if you want my business (and by that I mean all of my family’s business), you will make me feel welcome.  Otherwise, I will go somewhere that will.  We’ve discovered some real gems as a result of leaving restaurants where we don’t feel welcome, such as the local “Asian Cafe” after the aforementioned restaurant refused to seat us in a booth.  (We haven’t really frequented that restaurant ever since.)

How about this:  to restaurant owners, managers, waitstaff, and patrons:  If you see a parent struggling with an unruly child, how about show a bit of compassion and understanding?  Because I promise you, it is already a humiliating, frustrating, appetite-ending experience for the parents, let me tell you.

Oh, and to the waitstaff, managers, and owners of restaurants, I tend to tip better at locations that treat me and mine with respect and dignity.  I tend to be not-so-kind to locations that make us feel unwelcome off the bat.

In somewhat related news, I am planning on divorcing Facebook.  I find myself angry every time I go on to read posts.  And, people be bullying, yo!  People feel they have the right to attack everything you say and believe.  And not politely.  And, have you ever considered how much SPAM there is on Facebook?  All the chain-mail-style posts?  I’m on Facebook to look at new posts of blogs I read and try to catch up on what family and friends are doing (and enjoying the odd Minion meme).  I really don’t need anything else, thanks.

What is your opinion of restaurant policies concerning children?


Tip Tuesday: Stepping Out of Your Food Comfort Zone

Tip Tuesday

Do you remember this photo from yesterday?

That was the Chicken au Champagne (or Champy Chicken, as I called it) from Cooking with Curls.  It’s the fanciest dish I’ve ever made.  It used ingredients I rarely (if ever) use:  shallots, bone in chicken breasts, and fresh tarragon.  I love tarragon; I’ve only used the dried in the past in chicken salad (It makes a fabulous addition to it, by the way).

But this dish was totally out of my cooking comfort zone.  And, while Josh and Muffin are fairly okay with traveling this culinary adventure with me, I had my doubts that they would like it.

I did alter it some.  I added some cream to make the pan sauce more rich.  Yes.  I made a pan sauce.  Not a gravy.  A pan sauce.  (Something also out of my comfort zone)

I moved the dish from the stove top to the oven (also…you guessed it…out of my comfort zone).

Ultimately, this is a dish that I would even bypass in a restaurant as too fancy schmancy for my plate.  And my palate.

I guess I’m a simple girl at heart.

That being said, I really loved this chicken…and the sauce was fabulous!  I did as the website suggested and used my cast iron to house the chicken and pan sauce.

We served it, as you can tell above, with some roasted asparagus (drizzled and tossed with olive oil and white wine vinegar, as well as kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper), crescent rolls, and slices of tomato (to add a flair of red).

Sometimes, it’s important to break out of your culinary comfort zone.  Maybe there’s hope for me, after all.  Salted Caramel Turtle Cream Puffs, here I come!

Chicken au Champagne

(Heavily adapted from Cooking with Curls–see link above)

1 tablespoon olive oil

bone in chicken breasts (we had 2 huge ones in a package that I thought had 4-5 smaller ones…seriously that chicken must have been scary huge!)

salt and ground black pepper (to taste)

2 large shallots, minced

1 1/2 cups Extra Dry sparkling wine (I used Andre brand–and, since it didn’t come from the champagne region of France, it cannot legally be called champagne)

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups sliced mushrooms (I used some from my frozen stash…baby bellas)

1/4 cup minced fresh tarragon

fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat (I used setting 6 on mine).  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Be surprised by the size of the breasts.  Open the champagne and slurp a fortifying glug and hope for the best (and no panic attacks!)

Add chicken to skillet and sear for three minutes on each side (Time it!).  Remove chicken and place on a plate.  Realize that it’s going to take a LOT longer in the oven then you planned.  (Seriously, the breasts had to be in excess of two pounds each!)

Add shallots.  Heat and stir for one minute.  (If they turn dark brown you have reached the point of no return.)  Deglaze with champagne (er…sparkling wine) and scrape the bottom of the pan to lift up all of the cooked chickeny and shallotty bits (in other words…deglaze).  When the wine begins to bubble, slowly swirl and stir in the cream.

Return the chicken to the pan.  Drizzle the sauce over the sauce and place in the oven.  Bake until thoroughly cooked.

While the chicken is enjoying the oven-wine-cream sauce sauna, heat the butter in a large nonstick pan.  Add the mushrooms and cook for five minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the tarragon.  Squeeze one lemon through a small strainer into the mushroom pan and stir to loosen the sauce slightly.  (I used one small lemon.)

Remove chicken from the oven and the pan.  Stir in the mushrooms.  Slice chicken into thin slices.  Serve with rice with sauce (and sauce and mushrooms over chicken).

Muffin claims to like the chicken but not the mushrooms (although he loves mushrooms).

Muffin Approved

What have you cooked out of your comfort zone?

Meal Plan Monday: Fancy Schmancy Eats?

Meal Plan Monday

I tried a new recipe this weekend that Josh and I personally liked, but Muffin didn’t seem to enjoy.  Of course, lately it’s been hard to tell.  He’s in the phase where he thinks it’s okay to take a bite or two of dinner and be “full” or “done” and then want a snack five minutes later.  We’ve now put our feet down.  There will be no snacks or dessert after dinner (in other words, supper is it).

This week also marks the week leading up to Muffin’s fifth birthday.  Five!  After waiting for what (for him) seems forever, he will finally be his favorite number.

Saturday:  Chicken au Champagne (or Champy, as I kept writing it) from Cooking with Curls, roasted asparagus, crescent rolls, rice

Sunday:  stuffed potato bar

Monday:  Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork sandwiches from Spend with Pennies

Tuesday:  Loaded Chicken and Potato Casserole from Life in the Lofthouse, roasted asparagus, tomato slices

Wednesday:  Fuji Chicken from Mandy’s Recipe Box (This time, I promise!), rice, egg roll

Thursday:  leftovers or hot dogs

Friday:  Josh will grill–pork chops, hopefully a veg (or potato), grilled garlic bread (if green veg)

Saturday:  spaghetti and meatballs using the Slow Cooker Pizza Meatballs (the same recipe as the meatball subs from last week!)

Sunday:  dinner out at the Horseshoe Casino The Spread buffet (Muffin’s choice for his birthday)

What’s on your menu for the week?

Meal Plan Monday: A Mix of Old and New

Meal Plan Monday

The less said about last week’s failure to follow the meal plan, the better.  As always, I had the best of intentions.  But life and exhaustion and getting over the crud/allergies/cold/sinus interfered.  We ate on Easter leftovers Monday and Tuesday.  I think Muffin and I ate out on Wednesday and Thursday.  On Friday, I made pizza spiral rolls, cinnamon bun style, using refrigerated pizza dough, pasta sauce, mozzarella, chopped up pepperoni, and black olives.  That was Muffin’s most favorite meal that I had made in a long time.

But, let’s shake off last week’s funk with this week’s new offerings:

Saturday:  shredded pork with garlic sauce, rice, egg roll


Sunday:  stuffed baked potato (with chili, broccoli, sauteed onions, bacon, sour cream, cheese)

Monday:  bean and rice burritos (I’m going to add some taco meat), chips, and salsa

Tuesday:  Pizza Meatball Subs (I love these!) with a Subway-style topping bar, chips, vegetable sticks

Wednesday:  La Madeleine-style tomato-basil soup, grilled cheese sandwich, salad

Thursday:  hot dogs or leftovers (of course!)

Friday:  English muffin pizzas, salad, corn

Saturday:  Chicken au Champagne (I found this using Pinterest), a green vegetable, crescent rolls or homemade rolls

Sunday:  a roast of some kind, vegetable, potato (maybe roasted), roll

In terms of make-ahead for this week, I made ahead the meatballs for the subs, rice for the burritos (when I made the rice for the Shredded Pork with Garlic Sauce), and the tomato-basil soup on Saturday.

Cent Saving Saturday: Staycation!

Cent Saving Saturday

The coining of the term is open to debate.  In its one word, un-hyphenated form, the origin is from Corner Gas.  I believe it to be true.  Supposedly, there was a use of “stay-cation” in a Chicago newspaper in 2003, but I believe the CG episode “Mail Fraud” where Brent pretends to go on vacay outside of the gas station is where the term actually originated (and where it gained popularity and spread).

Regardless, staycations (as long as you are staying at home) are the cheapest ways to vacation.

This year, spring break is a staycation.  We have a ton of cleaning to do (mentioned in Wednesday’s We Plan Wednesday post).

Staycations are also cheap because you don’t have to find a way to board pets.  Or spend money on expensive hotel stays and valet fees.  And the hotel occupancy taxes.

But on to the grocery sales this week:

(Here’s the short version:  Kroger wins!  Albertson’s only good deals–even with their in-ad coupon sale–are pretty much limited to their Friday-Sunday sale)


Cantaloupe 77 cents each

Broccoli crowns 99 cents/lb.

red, yellow, and orange bell peppers 99 cents each (By the way, this is always a cool way to add a burst of vegetable color and flavor to any meal)

Kroger orange juice, gallon $2.99

Springdale milk, gallon $2.99

Coke/Pepsi/Dr. Pepper 2L $1 each wyb 5

Kroger cheese $2.99/lb

Yoplait yogurt 39 cents each

Albertson’s (all Friday-Sunday only):

whole fryer chickens 77 cents/pound (limit 3 with $10 additional purchase)

boneless skinless chicken breasts $1.78/pound

strawberries, 3 pound package $4.49

Pepsi cans 12 pack 3/$8.88 (limit 3)

Best choice apple juice 64 ounce 99 cents (limit 4)

Super 1:

Brookshires 3 pound thick sliced bacon $7.97

fuji apples 99 cents/pound

5 pound bag Texas 1015 sweet onions $2.98


Brookshire’s Blast 2L soda 69 cents

Brookshire’s refried beans 88 cents

organic carrots, 5 lb bag $2.99


Funny Muffin Friday: The Easter Egg Edition

Funny Muffin Friday


Wednesday, Josh’s first day off in like, forever, we got Muffin’s hair cut.  At the hair-cutting-place, they had a basket of plastic Easter eggs and a sign that said “Write down your e-mail and pick out an egg,” or something like that.

So, in a see of pink and yellow, Muffin picked out a large turquoise egg (a bit more blue than the banner above).  Imagine his surprise (and delight) when he opened the egg and found another smaller one the exact same color.

Josh tried to point out that there was probably supposed to be something else (like a coupon or a candy) inside it, but I quickly hushed him up when I saw how much fun Muffin was already having with the eggs.

While we waited the twenty or so minutes for Muffin’s turn at the shears and clippers, he entertained the whole hair-cutting-place as he hatched the eggs over and over, sat on the eggs to get them to hatch, made plans with what to stuff in them, and tried to get me to sit on them to hatch them.

Thank you, Master Cuts, for that fabulous promotional idea.  It was the best child distractor ever!  (And it kept Muffin from running around the salon floor crashing into things…BONUS!)

Here is the shot with the new haircut!



My happy boy!