Food, family, and fitness... all with a bit of style.

Five Meals for your Family Table.... Week 8

Oh the Monday after vacation....this might be a long week! Good thing I've got a meal plan ready to go! Now before I get into dinners, I want to share a special kids lunch idea. This week we celebrate Dr Seuss' Birthday and I like to send my kiddos with a fun lunch that day! I use some of his books for food inspiration, but traditionally it's green eggs and ham! I hard boil eggs, peel them and then drop in a bowl filled with water and a few drops of green food coloring. Once they look "green enough" I pull them out and pat dry.
There are loads of ideas on Pinterest, and you can get as fancy as you want. Here are some fun tags you can print out. This was our lunch from last year....
Now onto the weekly dinner plan!
I always try to do a Meatless Monday....either all veggie or with some seafood. I have shared this one before and it is a favorite in our house! You can make it with cauliflower rice or you can also use brown rice. You can grab the recipe here
This is another favorite! My kids most requested meal.....Almond Crusted Chicken! It is just so good! Cook extra chicken tonight to use in an Asian Chicken Salad tomorrow. For the chicken, use 1 lb of boneless chicken breasts and pound each until they are about 1/4" thick. (I also cut each in half lengthwise before I pound, so I have 6 pieces). Set up two large, shallow bowls or pie plates work well too. In one place 3 egg whites & 2 TBSP of water and whisk. In the other place 1 cup almond flour, zest of 1 lemon and 1 TSP salt and 1/2 TSP pepper. Heat a few tablespoons of coconut oil in a pan over medium- high heat. Dip each piece in the egg, then the flour and put in the pan. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side, transfer to a foil lined baking sheet and bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. I top mine with a very simple lemon dijon sauce, that I have shared here before. 
The extra chicken you made last night will be perfect on top of this Asian Chicken  Salad. Top some field greens or spinach with  sliced almonds, mandarin oranges, snap peas and the chicken. I made a simple dressing for this salad. Whisk together 1/2 cup of EVOO, 1/4 cup honey, juice of 1/2 orange, 2 TBSP dijon mustard, and salt & pepper to taste. Use some on your salad and you can store the rest in the refrigerator for another day!
Last week's vacation has me itching for more food from the grill! I do have and indoor grill pan that I use a lot during the winter months to grill. Tonight's dinner is a simple one- Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries or Carrot Fries. I like the Alexia brand sweet potato fries or you could try carrot fries. Just peel and slice carrots into "fry size strips". Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with EVOO and salt & pepper. Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes flipping halfway through. I  like to jazz up my burgers a bit with some sauteed mushrooms & onions. I always make extra, so  I can top my eggs for breakfast the next morning. I also like to wrap my burger in lettuce-and reserve my carbs for a glass of wine!
The end of this week calls for something easy! One of my favorite go to easy meals is a make your own pizza and salad bar.  Grab some whole wheat or whole grain naan or flatbreads for your crust. Lay out lots of topping options and bake at 425 for about 5-7 minutes. While the pizzas are cooking, build your salads. Be sure to put out veggies in lots of great colors! I really like Mid's pizza sauce & shred my own mozzarella from a block. It melts so much better and doesn't have the caking agent that the pre- shredded cheese has.  My kids love to build their own dinners!
What to prep to make these meals easier....

Chop the veggies for your stir fry & rice your cauliflower.
You can prep you chicken up to the step of baking it. Just lay on a baking sheet, cover with foil and pop in the oven the night you will need it.
Prep the fixing for your pizza and salad bar. 

I will be sharing some pics...ok probably a lot of pics.... from our vacation later this week! Hope to see you then....there's always room for one more at our family table.
Have a great week friends!

Friday Favorites... A Favorite Week!

Oh hey it's I am linking up with  AndreaNarci, and Erika to share a few of my favorites from this week.

This whole week has been my favorite and everyday feels like Friday, as we have been on vacation all week. The time away with my crew has been the best!  We have been on some fun adventures this week.....
a trip to find some gators....
tandem bikes to grab breakfast.....
and some Boys vs Girls Beach Volleyball....
I'll share some more details and pics next week with our vacation wrap up. If you missed any posts this week, we shared some fun stuff and you can catch up here!
 Have a great weekend friends! See you on Monday with 5 Meal ideas for the week....there's always room for one more at our family table.

February Book Review!

So excited for my second monthly book review this year!  I am linking up with Narci over at Grace and Love Blog for her monthly Carpool Book Club.  Be sure to check out her blog for all her picks too!!
This month we had a long road trip and spent the week at the beach. I got to read a lot! Yay!! Here is a little recap of what I read. I linked up each book to Amazon, so you can just add them to your cart if you want a copy at your bedside!
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult. Now a few years ago (aka before kids) I read a lot more and this was always one of my favorite authors to grab a book from. This was the story of a girl who lost her mother when she was 3. It was unclear whether her mom was dead or had run away and she enlists the help of a has been psychic and a former police detective to help her uncover the truth. The book was never quite what it seemed and did a lot of flipping back and forth between characters. I liked it... but didn't love it. Side note... the setting was that of an elephant sanctuary and it gave some pretty neat facts and insights about elephants. I found that part fascinating!
Train like a Mother: How to get across any finish line, and not lose your family, job, or sanity. I grabbed this book, as I am in my second month of marathon training. If you are a runner or thinking about running, this is a really light and fun read! It recommends how to eat and train for races from 5k up to a full marathon. But the best part are the little snippets of real life running as a mom.... like running with a stroller.... how to fit in time to run.... and running with a body that is not quite the same after child birth! I laughed out loud a few times reading this one!

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams. This book was raved about by a few other bloggers I follow and I have had it on my list. I read Tiny Little Thing by the same author last month and loved it. This was the story of two girls what grew up together and went to college together in the 1930's. They had not seen each other in awhile, until they meet up again while summering in Rhode Island. It is there that we see how their relationship was a bit twisted and pieces of their past tie them together in ways you might not expect. I loved this book!
The Storied Life of AJ Fikried by Gabrielle Zevin. My dad is an avid reader and gave this one to me...said it was a quick, easy light read. It was a cute story of a man that owns a bookstore on a summer island. He is kind of a grumpy guy, but life changes when a new sales rep for a publishing company comes into his life. His life takes an even more dramatic turn when he loses something very valuable and something even more valuable arrives at his book shop.  It was as my dad promised... a quick, light read with a cute story!
The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard. This book caught my eye at the library and the description on the back cover sounded great. So I grabbed it and really didn't love it.... anyone else read this one? It is the story of two girls born on the same day in a small town. They grow up in very different families and the book follows their life through adulthood. I had two issues with the book... the first being that I just could not connect to the characters. I can usually envision book characters in my mind, but this one I just couldn't get there. The second was the "secret' in the story was pretty predictable to me and I just wanted it to come out already. It did not keep me in suspense, I was more annoyed that I had to wait until the end for it to be revealed. And even when it was, it was kind of anti-climatic. So chime in if you have read this one... I just was not feeling it!

I have a few more days of vacation left.... and a few more book reads I am finishing up! I will be sure to recap those next month. 
See you tomorrow for Friday Favorites....there's always room for one more at our family table.

What's Up Wednesday.... February Edition

Happy Wednesday friends!! It's time to link up with ShayMel and Sheaffer for What's Up Wednesday!
 A fun monthly post where we share what's happening in life lately.
What we're eating this week......
Well we are on vacation, so we have been eating out a lot! Down in Florida with lots of fresh seafood! I did share a great weekly meal plan on Monday.  This month, we have been sharing how to "Cook Once, Eat Twice". You can catch up on all this month's weekly meal plans.
What I'm reminiscing about......
Having 8 or 9 miles be my long runs! As I approach week 6 and 7 of marathon training, my long training runs are 14 miles or more for the next 7 weeks. That's a lot of miles.... and a lot of time! I am reminiscing about a "short" long run!!I am going to use this for the next few months....
What I'm loving.....
The last few weeks of low key weekends! We have not had too much going on, so we have been able to take it easy and do what we wanted to! Like a Friday night visit to the art museum!
What we've been up to......
Vacation!! Having a great trip visiting with Paul's parents! Can't wait to share our fun adventures with you when we get back!
What I'm dreading.....
Can't think of anything at the moment!
What I'm working on.....
Things to do this Spring & Summer! I wanted to make 2017 another year of adventures for our family and I am working on some fun plans. I try to make a list of places we want to visit or things we want to do, then research it to see what makes sense.  I like to find things to do that are fun and also free or low cost. It's fun to find a deal and teach the kids that we don't need to spend a lot to have fun! I'll be sure to keep you posted with our plans and please send any fun ideas you have my way!
What I'm excited about......
St. Patrick's Day Shenanigans!!!! We love setting leprechaun traps.... following scavenger hunts....and wearing lots of green!!
What I'm watching/reading.....
This is Us...
Oh my gosh! So I watched the first episode when it premiered in the fall, loved it, and then apparently fell in a black hole because I forgot about it. I mean I loved the premiere episode, everyone was talking about it.... and yet I'd forget about it when looking for something to watch! Anyway...I am just about caught up and it is just so good. Paul is even watching with me. He says "it's a lot of feelings".... but he likes it!
I have been reading a lot lately and finished up a few books on vacation. Be sure to check back tomorrow for my monthly book review! This was my favorite from the last few weeks....

And you can check out my January Book Review here.
What I'm listening to......
Justin Timberlake Radio on Pandora...... for every mile I run! I just love the mix of songs on there!!! And well I also love Justin Timberlake......who doesn't???
What I'm wearing.....
Running Pants....These are my favorite from Target! They keep my legs really warm during these cold Buffalo running days! I linked a similar pair here.
My new sneakers! I have run in Asics for a long time and was wanting a change. I bought the Brooks Ghost shoe and I love them!! The color is fun too!
My Look Wrap!  I talked about this one before and I just love it! I got it in a light grey color and it is perfect for travelling! 
You can wear it a million different ways!! 
Local friends you can grab yours at Research & Design. They have a ton of fabulous new colors!
What I'm doing this weekend.....
We are finishing up our vacation and exploring Hilton Head Island. It's a place we have not visited yet, and we try to see some place new on our trips back home from Florida. Really looking forward to checking it out! And then we are back on the road.... back home... to laundry!
What I'm looking forward to next month.....
Planning Luke's 8th birthday party! He is kind of all over the board... one day it's Harry Potter...the next a jungle theme...the next Lego! Hopefully we can settle on a theme soon and get to planning all the fun stuff!  We may have a Harry Potter travels to the jungle to meet Lego Batman party!  Last year was simple....Football.
What else is new......
Not much.... and I am ok with that! Anything fun happening with you?? 
Hope to see you tomorrow for our monthly book review.... there's always room for one more at our family table.

Tuesday Talk!

Hi friends!! Today I am linking up with Erika Ashley for Tuesday Talk. A monthly link up where we can talk about any and everything!
I want to talk about packing.... in hopes that someone out there can give me some guidance. I am officially the worst packer ever & I am really starting to dread it when vacation comes around. Like this it totally me...
I mean,I bring stuff on vacation that I have not ever worn.  Ever.  As if being in some new location is going to make me love  it!?
I start out by  laying all my favorite pieces in a pile, which is essentially 27 complete outfits for a 7 day trip.
Then I try to lay it out into outfits, with shoes and jewelry and somehow I have like 31 outfits!
The bottom line is I am a terrible over packer....
 I have paid the over the limit fee at the airport more times than I care to admit.....
I pack a million cute outfits and wear my bathing suit,, PJs, and one cute outfit......
So someone please.....teach me how to pack better!!!!!
Anyone???  Please send me your packing tips!
 I can efficiently pack for my two kids and my husband, but am a disaster when it comes to me!
Thank you for your help!
See you tomorrow for What's Up Wednesday....there's always room for one more at our family table.

Five Meals for your Family Table.....Week 7

It's Monday.....again. If you have no idea what you are going to eat this week, then I am here for you! And it is our third week in the "Cook Once, Eat Twice" series. Here are 5 simple meal ideas to get on your table this week.
Butternut Squash Ravioli. This is one of our favorites for a Meatless Monday. Bonus- it comes together very quickly! You can grab the recipe here.
Walnut Crusted Pork with Steamed Broccoli & Sweet Potatoes. I have shared this recipe before & we do it a couple times a month. For tonight, you want to double this and cook two tenderloins and use one for tomorrow's salads. This is a really delicious way to cook your pork. Take a one pound pork tenderloin & season with salt & pepper. Rub 1 1/2 TBSP of dijon mustard on  top of the pork. Place on a foil lined baking sheet and press 1/2 cup of  finely chopped walnuts on the pork. I pulsed mine in the food processor along with a few sprigs of thyme.  Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes. Let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing. This would also be delicious with pecans too! You can grab the recipes for the potatoes here
You already have the hard part of dinner done, with the pork you cooked last night. Tonight you can use it to top a salad. One of my favorite ways is to mix up some spinach and field greens. Some toppings that pair well with this are dried cranberries, blueberries, walnuts, and goat cheese. You can make a simple dressing by mixing up some EVOO, balsamic vinegar, honey and a little salt & pepper.
Spinach, mushroom and sausage casserole. This is a simple casserole, loaded with veggies and made a little better for you. Cook one package of pasta according to the package instructions. I like to use the Jovial brand- it is a brown rice pasta and tastes delicious. While the pasta is cooking, saute one small chopped onion with one package of sliced portabello mushrooms in a few tablespoons of olive oil until softened.I then add a few links of all natural chicken sausage. I buy one that is already cooked and chop it in bite size pieces. You can skip this step if you want to make it a meatless dish. Add in a few cups of spinach..don't be shy... the more spinach the better! Season with salt & pepper and mix with the cooked pasta. Transfer to a 13*9 dish and sprinkle with some grated parmesan cheese. I bake it at 350 for about 10 minutes. This dish can easily  be made a few days ahead of time and just warm it when you need it.
End you week with some easy Shrimp Tacos! Layout one to two pounds of peeled and deveined shrimp on a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with a few tablespoons of taco seasoning. Toss to coat and bake at 425 for about 5-7 minutes (until shrimp is pink and cooked trhough). Take them out of the oven and squeeze the juice of one lime over top and toss. Set up a taco bar with lots of topping options. You can check out my posts on taco bars here.
                                             What to prep to make these meals easier....
Chop the butternut squash for Monday's ravioli
You can make the pasta bake a few days ahead of time
Prep your taco bar toppings
We have lots of fun posts planned this week....
Let's Talk Tuesday... talking about one of my most dreaded tasks...packing for a trip!
What''s Up Wednesday... a little bit about what's happening lately.
Carpool Book Club.... a quick review of the books I have read this month.
and we will wrap up the week with Friday Favorites!
Have a great week friends! See you soon...there's always room for one more at our family table.

Friday Favorites.... Vacation Ready!

Happy Fri-yay!  Today is an even better than usual Friday as we are heading out on vacation! Off on another adventure to visit Paul's parents in Florida and then check out Hilton Head on our way home. I am so ready for some warmth & sunshine! It has been a crazy week wrapping up work stuff before we head out. Work is always so crazy the week before vacation and just as crazy the week coming you really earn that time off! 
So before we head out......I am linking up with  AndreaNarci, and Erika to share a few of my favorites from this week.
All the Valentine's love!  I know I have said before this is not my favorite holiday, but I still have fun making it special for my crew!
 And speaking of my crew... I did a special blog post on Tuesday, sharing a little backstory about each of my loves. You an check it out here.
And these Valentine's that Luke wrote....just melt me! 
New running sneakers! Yay! I have been very loyal to Asics for the last 15 years, but I just didn't love my last pair. I needed something new and have heard a lot about these Brooks Ghost. They felt really comfy and I love the color (which is kind of important in my world)! I also got a new running water bottle and didn't even realize how well it matched my shoes until I got home! #bonus. 
I cannot wait to run in these!
Ok... this is kind of an "unfavorite" favorite. A favorite because packing means a fun trip, and unfavorite because it means packing. I do not like packing.....for myself. I could pack the kids and Paul all day. But when I get to me I am the absolute worst! So bad, that I am going to do a post about it next week. I could win an award for worlds' worst packer. See this picture....
I lay out all these great outfits as if I am going to wear them......let me tell you... I don't. I wear my bathing suit and that's pretty much it. But gosh am I ready if for some reason we go out a lot! Be sure to check back Tuesday for my post on all my packing issues!
That's about it friends! It was a crazy week getting ready and it really flew by! Lots of great posts coming up next week... Meal Planning Monday, Let's Talk Tuesday, What's Up Wednesday, and my monthly book review!  I sure hope you stop by....there's always room for one more at our family table.

Show & Tell Tuesday....Show us your loves

It's Tuesday...that means our weekend wrap up, plus our next topic in Show & Tell Tuesday. I have to be honest, there is really nothing exciting to share about our weekend.... this pretty much sums it up....
Ha! Seriously... I started packing some stuff for our vacation and that was about it. And I was perfectly ok with it!! Let's get into Show & Tell Tuesday with Andrea over at Momfessionals. I linked up for a few Show & Tells last year too and am excited for this year's topics!
In honor of Valentine's Day, this week's topic is Show Us Your Loves! A little look at the loves in my life! Here we go......
A little about my guy.... I met Paul when I was 20  and working at the mall! He took me on our first date.. kayaking up the Niagara River, followed by a 10 mile rollerblading trail, and then for ice cream... which I dumped all over the front of me. And our life & love has been an adventure ever since!
Paul is an engineer.... very meticulous... . likes things to be clean....however he has loosened up a bit since having kids. Although he still is an excellent window cleaner!
He loves to keep active and we have fun doing that together as a family. He has given he kids a love of adventure and a spirit to try new of the best gifts you can give!
Paul is an awesome dad and an amazing partner! I am lucky to have him ! I blogged about how we make our marriage work last week!
Now onto E & L.  Ella and Luke are 18 months apart, almost to the day! For that reason, they are really pretty close, although neither would admit that to you! They are at that stage in life when one says up and the other says down.

 Ella... our first born.  Ella is the sweetest girl....and very much like her father. Strong willed, determined and more of a night owl! Ella was born in New Jersey and she is proud of it! It's the highlight of her life to have been born in a different state from where we currently live. Now mind you... she lived there until she was 3 months old, but consides herself a certified Jersey girl! In kindergarten she said some of the kids could not understand what she was saying and she attributed it to her accent from New Jersey. Gosh I just love her!
Ella is very athletic... a great runner, flexible, an amazing dancer,  and is wanting to play volleyball when she gets to middle school. She is pretty determined and when she wants to learn how to do something she keeps practicing until she gets it!
She also has a very strong sense of fashion and this has had some affect on her athletics. A few years ago she wanted to play softball.... she took one look at the socks she had to wear and said nope! Ha!
I love watching her grow each year.  She is trying so many new dances, learning to play the violin, and playing intramurals. She was a pretty shy kindergartner, so watching her find her way in learning new things makes my heart full.
While she has all this new stuff going on, she remains very kind to her friends, offers to help those that may need it and has the sweetest friendship with  my sister... her Aunt Emma.... a little more on that in a minute.
Luke....our baby. Luke was born smiling! This kid has a love for life!  He is forever smiling, laughing or making others laugh.  I mean this kid's cheeks have to hurt from smiling all day! From the time he was born, people have always commented that he is always smiling. And now in school, almost every teacher conference references his sense of humor. I am glad that his teachers appreciate his personality!
Luke is a very sweet boy... and he takes after me... more cautious, a cuddler, creative and an organizer....and prefers to turn in early! Luke has loved sleep since he was a baby! He used to gather his bunny and pacifier and head to his bedroom on his own! He loves to sleep in and there are many weekend mornings we have to wake him up so we can get going with our day! I can't imagine what time he will sleep to when he's in high school!
He also has some of  Paul in him with his need for things to be a certain way and his love of sports. He loves playing baseball and has really become a great player! He loves to practice with Paul and we are lucky to have a great baseball program in our town.
Luke has an artistic side to him and loves to color, draw and has some very smooth dance moves! He has my mom's love of singing and can often be heard singing himself to sleep!
Our last family love....Maddie! Maddie has been part of our family for about 2 years. We got her as an 8 week old puppy and fell in love the day she came home. Talk about unconditional love... there is no one happier to see me everyday! She is just the most loving dog and so happy she is part of our family.
So I can't end a post about my loves without talking about my sister Emma. If you were to look up the word love, you may just find her picture. She makes everyone she meets feel loved & everyone that meets her loves her!  My kids are so blessed to have her as their aunt and she is always so proud to show off her niece & nephew. They have such a special relationship with her... a very special part of who  they are.
 I know that everyone who meets her is a better are guaranteed a hug... will walk away smiling.... and hopefully spread more love!
Happy Valentine's Day friends!
We will see you soon....there's always room for one more at our family table.

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