Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday Prep Day!

Back to basics...

I love to cook, love to grocery shop, neither are fun or enjoyable while plagued with  an annoying cough. Plus although i did make the list mr mancave did the shopping this weekend and my sick self left a few things off of the list. 


Yes there is quite a bit of green in there but with good reason. 

Spinach - sautéed with eggs for breakfast, salads, add a cup to my shakeology for an extra boost, and my teenage daughters favorite spinach pesto!


Green leaf salad - kids request for lunches this week.

Hard boiled eggs- quick on the run breakfast, salad topping, after school snack for my son ( if I don't hide them he would eat them all in a day - no yolk! �� seriously though he doesn't eat the yolks.


Grapes- easy to wash prep and separate for snacks, lunches, slice up to throw on a salad. 

Last but not least my favorite quick healthyish busy family dinner trick

 - the rotisserie chicken! 

We buy one throw I chop it up portion it out for salads, tacos and my favorite chicken salad with Greek yogurt ! 

Is it the most healthy option ? Eh, could be better but I know this week I'm not 100% and its good choice !


What's on your menu this week ? 

Monday, January 5, 2015

The best Christmas..... Yet!

I really wanted to say ever... But I feel like that would be limiting the belief that we could achieve that again. It won't be the same, I know that but I will strive from now on for the same feelings of togetherness, joy and peace that we experienced this Christmas season. 

Ever since Caila was born her birthday has signified the start of the new year for us with her birth came a new life new beginning and once we celebrate her birthday each year it feels like ok let's get his year started ! 
So I'm a little late on the reflection but here it is anyway.


What made this year so magical ? 

Time - for the first time in our family life we were all home, no school or work for anyone the entire Christmas Break! 
No schedules, or rushing. Late night movies, midnight snacks and shopping Mario kart races and karaoke showdowns.

Ages and stages - 

I  am an only child, and we raised an only for 12yrs before we became a Party of 5 Christmas morning is quiet and quick, Christmas with  3 crazies is SO NOT QUIET and it's so awesome! 

The first few years of the party of five the age gaps made things a little separate !  girl things, boy things, baby things. This year family nerf gun battles I must say are pretty awesome. 

Peace - for so many years I didn't feel our family was complete and probably missed out on the magical moments those years held, I am trying very hard not to miss anymore and just savor every moment because it goes.... So.... Freaking.... Fast...

Along with all of these emotions came a tiny bit of sadness that keeps creeping in on me no matter how much I try to stomp it down!

The reality is I may not get another Christmas like this. A driving working teenager preparing for college, no guarantees of a long break from work for mr. mancave and I next year. 

Even so, I truly hope at least one of the kids again declares next Christmas "The Best Christmas Ever!" 

Happy 2015 May this be your best year ever ! 



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving - Christmas

Eek its Really here!

Go time for the Holiday Season!

Its crazy busy, we can stress ourselves out and forget what we are truly celebrating, faith family and friends.

Don't wait to start your goals on January 1st! Go for them now, it will make you more relaxed  proud of your accomplishments and easier to put a smile on your face when your kids melt down during your family photo shoot.


There are 21 Days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That means you can successfully complete one round of the 21 day fix before Christmas!  5-10lbs before Christmas not by being super strict and not enjoying yourself, but by make healthy choices and learning all about moderation and motivation.

Black Friday Deals Begin Today ! Message for the deals and check back later for some last minute recipes!


Sunday, November 9, 2014

In the blink of an eye!

Four year ago today our family was complete! 
After I said "we don't need a baby"! 
After one cerclage, modified bed rest, weekly injections, the most amazing team of doctors at AGH and West Penn, with a fully staffed OR prepped and ready for whatever this not quite built to birth body gave them they were prepared. 
The last four years have been amazing crazy sleepless stressful and so fun and have gone by so fast. When we sit as think about where everyone will be in another four it's a little too much emotion for me. 
So today  "Baby Soapie" as Kaden always called her - is four not to put too much pressure on her but she really did bridge the gap with her 2 siblings that had no idea how to be a brother or a sister and she will never know life any other way. 

Happy Birthday Baby girl! Always shine bright!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Winner Winner Chicken (well Fish) Dinner!

There are a few restaurants we go to that the only thing I order is a fish taco. They are great but generally leave me missing home and wanting to jump on a plane to get a California fish taco.

So I thought I would try and create my own. Something light, simple, the kids might it it and well yummy.

I really wanted to create one with a crunchy purple cabbabe slaw, but I needed to get the kids to try this first and I thought the color may not appeal to my picky one (I'll let you guess which of my three that may be ! ) So I went with a simple Napa Cabbage slaw (lime juice, evoo and a little red wine vinegar).  It was yummy but napa cabbage is soft and I really wanted crunch so next time I will try the purple!

Pictures and food did not happen that night, the weather was gorgeous I was running the teenager back and forth and my younger 2 were running in and out so I was all over the place while attempting to create this yummy goodness, which is par for the course for all of us right?


Here's How I started:

Cilantro Lime Fish Tacos

Tilapia Filets - Baked the night before,  The night of tacos I cut cubed and shredded it up a bit before tossing into a large pan with a drizzle of EVOO, salt and pepper to your liking.

Corn Tortillas - place them on a sheet pan in the oven at 350 for 10-15 minutes

Veggie Toppings - Chopped up fresh tomatoes, onions, peppers, plus the nappa cabbage slaw I really wanted a very fresh light flavor.

Cilantro lime Dressing  -

1/4 cup plus 1 large spoonful of greek yogurt
Juice from 1 lime minus 1 tablespoon (save the tablespoon for the cabbage slaw)
Cilantro to your taste - I used a pretty big handful from the fresh herb package I picked up at the local grocer.  If I was serving this to my grandmother I would have used quite a bit less, she makes pretty funny faces when you even mention the word Cilantro, however I love it! So be warned if I invite you over to try this, there will be a lot of Cilantro.

Salt and peper to taste.

Combine all ingredients in a blender and presto! Yummy light dressing for your fish tacos.

Now I believe the key is in the assembly, fish tacos are a little more delicate as are corn tortillas so I put a light spread of the Cilantro lime dressing in the center of the corn tortilla and build from there this way the ingredients seem to stay in place and not fall out when you take your first scrumptious bite.




Truly kid approved! The pickiest one int he house I never said one word about eating which is generally a nightly occurrence!

Hope you enjoy!


 ~ B


Monday, October 27, 2014

One Week in a Day (or just a few hours)


Rachel Ray I am not, although I'd like to be her! And really this may last about 3 days.
Confession - Somewhere on Social Media last week a friend asked if you could do anything for one day what would it be, I would love to have my own restaurant. Crazy, but I love to cook for people, in theory, I'm always nervous that no one will like what I cook, so I don't do it very often and honestly rarely invite people over to experience my creations.

Last week was crazy, this week is setting up to be the same, ending with Halloween and then a very Frozen Birthday party for a certain 3yr old who is turning 4 even though she has promised to stay little forever.

She must have had her fingers crossed when she made that promise!


So last night this same three year old took a very, very late nap. At dinner time. Little man was playing with friends in the neighborhood, the teenager was working on homework (AP History = lots of work!).

What was a really tired mom to do?  Cook, I guess. I did not plan on it. I had somethings ready to go, Chili was in the crockpot, but nobody was ready to eat and I pretty much knew if I sat down I was not getting back up.

I set to work making the following:

Roasted Cauliflower

Homemade Sweet potato Fries

3 Baked Sweet Potatoes

Polenta - I have a very hungry growing boy on my hands trying to find different things for him to eat, not sure if this will be a winner.

Tilapia - This will turn into fish tacos tonight

Home made Spaghetti Sauce

Honestly I'm not sure how much of this will make it into a dinner this week as the growing boy may eat all of this as an afternoon snack today.

So clearly I will need to add things to what I precooked, probably salad one day, Chicken another and one night will be a past night, which will probably mean I will have a request for meatballs, but its a start right?

Sorry no pictures, my phone was not charged, but that honestly was probably why I was able to get so much done because for the few hours I was working on this i didn't touch my phone even one time!


Do you cook ahead?


~ brandee




Thursday, October 23, 2014

A New Mancave must have!

Three kids, a picky husband and one tired mom.

Eating dinner out can be a little bit of a challenge for us. There are a few places we like as a family, a few places the kids like that is only a mom treat, and a few that they like to go with Dad.  That said we really do not eat out often, I direct you back to the first line.

One Day last weekend however, the girls and I went for a quick dinner out while the boys where at Console Energy Center cheering on the Penguins.

We tried a new flat bread that looked really yummy. My oldest said I bet we can make this..... hmmmmm I thought ya, we probably can.


So my next trip to Costco they happened to have NAAN bread. Not necessarily the cleanest choice, but its also not pizza so we gave it a try.

A few Ingredients that we usually have on hand that you would need for this:

Chicken - chopped into bite size pieces.
 I usually buy 1 Rotisserie Chicken per week, cut up and use it for a few different meals/lunches a week. Its just one of the ways I make meal prep easier.  I have a great recipe for Clean Chicken salad that everyone loves maybe I'll share next week.


Spinach - Big bag of organic Spinach - give it a quick chop so when you bit into it you are not getting a string of spinach hanging out of your mouth.

Homemade Balsamic Dressing - so easy and yummy and you know that the ingredients are fresh and healthy.

Shredded Cheese -

The how to:

Drizzle the balsamic dressing in a saute pan, toss in the amount of spinach you think you need then double it! Spinach cooks down quite a bit so i always end up needing to double or triple the amount i think I need.

Drizzle more balsamic on each flat bread (make it look pretty, restaurant style, this always makes my kids like things I make a little more.)

Load on the chopped chicken, sauteed spinach and a sprinkle of shredded cheese turn your oven to 350 and place them on a pizza pan in the oven for 15-minutes or under the broiler if you like things a little crispy.
I suggest making extra, as I did so that if you happen to work late you can come home and have one for snack, although don't plan on it, because i tried this last night (yep I was eating, snacking late, but its just so yummy I really wanted it) as I was taking one bite other people realized there was one remaining flat bread and it was quickly stolen from me.

So like I said, Kid tested husband approved, even in the man-cave!