meal prep

January 1, 2020! New Years Day

Happy New Year! If your bleary eyed and looking for Asprin, that was an energetic whisper instead of a yell…

Pensacola Pelican Drop with great friends.
The Pelican Drop may be gone but the memories live on!  Happy New Year! 

Well 2020 is officially here. Now if I can just train myself to write that year, on important things like billing, receipts and checks. If you haven’t adjusted your organizer, calendars, and yearly to-do lists, it’s a good day to spend quietly preparing to rejoin the world. (If you’re lucky enough to have time off to do so.)

First make it a point if you’re not totally digital to transfer any dates, notes, or important information to this tears planner. Sync the digital, worlds of desktop, laptop, tablet, and mobile so you have your information handy. You should do a complete backup of your contacts, calendars, and any other vital information.

For digital media burn real back up disks. I know, it sounds old fashioned today, but that thumb drive, external hard drive, micro sd card can all be wiped out. The wrong delete command can undo all your hard work. What would you do if you lost all those irreplacable photos?

The Cloud?

Ok, like most of us I have cloud storage. So why do I need to do anything physical like a real disk? Cloud storage has gotten better but, experts still agree if you go with this method, you need more than one. A physical disk also lets me keep my private files…Private!

Data breaches happen all the time. Google, Banks, Stores where we shop, they appear in the news all the time. Sensitive information like credit cards, financial records, taxes, contacts, and any photos, you don’t want out there don’t store it anywhere that has network access. Yes, it makes it easier for you to get to your files but internet security is really only good until the next hacker breaks it. Do you really want to learn through social media that “That” photo is out there. With identity theft rates going higher, do not want to take chances with your sensitive information?

Staying on Track

As a blogger, and in charge of the family finances, I safeguard this information. I use a variety of both physical and virtual tools to make my life easier. To keep my days on track and remember appointments I still use a paper planner. Everything from holidays, birthdays, and planning for both my family and my blog go here. I find it easier to stay focused, complete tasks in a timely manner and use things like alarms on my phone for special reminders.

Blue Sky 2020 Weekly & Monthly Planner, Flexible Cover, Twin-Wire Binding, 5" x 8", Laila

by Blue Sky
Blue Sky 2020 Weekly & Monthly Planner, Flexible Cover, Twin-Wire Binding, 5″ x 8″, Laila

by Blue Sky


Outside of that and a secret stash of sensitive login information I’m fully digital.  We use app named Prism to keep track of paydays, bills, credit cards and so on. It let’s me track and make payments easily with an easy to understand interface that covers everything. It reminds me when the water payment is due. Keeps my bank balance, tells me the car insurance is next week and keeps up with my automatic payments. With bank-level security and automatic locking features even if I lose my phone no one else can get in.

Prism Bills & Money (Kindle Tablet Edition)

BillGO, Inc.

Or on Google Play
For fire tablet edition simply click the logo. Google Play Store here
Give yourself the gift of Prime Membership

My Blue Cheese, Spinach stuffed Beef Wellingtons

While these do take a bit of work, you will be rewarded with each bite of these delicious Wellingtons. I usually do these as a labor of love on special occasions like New Year’s Eve or an Anniversary. They also work well for a special dinner for 2. Just add candlelight, and a salad. A great pairing is my Winter Arugula Pear Salad. It makes for a really good dinning experience. Add a decadent desert and anyone dinning will be very impressed. See Loaded Brownie recipe.

Components

Puff Pastry

  • 3 packages frozen puff pastry, Pepperidge Farm brand
  • Flour for rolling
  • 2 eggs Whisked with 2 Tbsp water

Mushroom Filling

  • 1 – 8oz pkg Baby Bellas chopped
  • 6 Tbs. olive oil; more for cooking
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. Rosemary
  • Salt and Black pepper to taste

Carmelized Onions

  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 3 medium onions thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • Salt and Black pepper

Spinach and Blue Cheese

  • 2 – 10oz pkg fresh spinach blanched
  • Pinch Black pepper (optional)
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • Crumbled Blue cheese about 6 oz

For the Steaks

  • 4 – 7oz Ribeye or Eye of Round steaks
  • Salt and Black pepper
  • About 4 Tbsp butter, more as needed
Wilton Perfect Results Premium Non-Stick Bakeware Cookie Baking Sheets Set, 2-Piece

by Wilton
Wilton Perfect Results Premium Non-Stick Bakeware Cookie Baking Sheets Set, 2-Piece

by Wilton


Preparation

  • Roll out and cut the pastry—Roll out each pastry sheets to about 3/16-inch thick, with a sharp knife, cut out a 9-inch round. From the scraps, cut out leaves or other shapes to use as decoration. Layer the pastry rounds (and the decorations) between pieces of waxed paper or parchment, lay on baking sheet and store in freezer until ready to assemble.
  • Cook the mushrooms—In a bowl, toss the chopped Baby Bellas with olive oil, garlic, thyme, and rosemary; cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours overnight is better. Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, add a thin film of oil, and sear mushrooms until they’ve softened and browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer them to paper towels. When cool, set aside till ready to use.
  • Caramelize the onions— Melt butter, add the onions, cooking over medium heat, slowly, stirring occasionally, until well browned, and soft, about 20 minutes. Add the wine and cook until the pan is dry. Set aside to cool. Put the cooled onions in a bowl; cover and refrigerate.
  • Prepare the spinach and cheese
  • Wash spinach well and remove any stems. Prepare an ice-water bath. Put half of the spinach in a large sauté pan with a touch of water, and 1 Tbs. of the butter. Cook over medium-high heat, until justbwilted and immediately put it in the water bath to shock the color and stop the cooking. Scoop it from the ice water and put it in a colander to drain. Squeeze the spinach, in a clean kitchen towel, as much as you can and set it aside on paper towels to continue draining. Repeat with the remaining spinach. Cover with plastic and refrigerate. Stir in blue cheese, salt and Black pepper.
  • Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble.
  • Sear Steaks—Season each portion of meat with salt and pepper. Rub the seasoning into the meat to keep it in place. Add butter and dash of olive oil to a heavy sauté pan. Sear the steaks over high heat for 2 minutes on each side until brown and crisp on the outside. Be sure your pan is very hot for searing the meat. Do not overcook it, or crowd the pan. It will cause the meat to steam instead of sear. (Check the sides to be sure the filets are still red in the middle.) Work in batches if needed. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 24 hours.
    Searing the steaks makes for a nice crust but a still-red center—once wrapped in pastry and baked, they’ll cook to medium rare.
AmazonBasics Silicone Baking Mat Sheet, Set of 2  by AmazonBasics
AmazonBasics Silicone Baking Mat Sheet, Set of 2

by AmazonBasics

Some Assembly Required

  • Arrange your mushrooms, onions, spinach, and steaks within easy reach. Divide mushrooms, onions into four portions. Spinach into 8 portions.
  • Make sure the caramelized onions are well drained (they tend to collect liquid as they sit).
  • Cover a large rimmed baking sheet (that fits in your freezer) with kitchen parchment or silicon baking mat.
  • Have a ruler, a small sharp knife, a pastry brush, and the egg wash on hand. Lightly flour one area to lay pastry, (the cooler the area the better).
  • Pull a pastry round from the freezer and lay on the floured surface. Working quickly lightly score a 4×3-inch rectangle in the center of the round; don’t cut through the pastry. Extend the lines of the rectangle and cut out the corners of the round created by the line extensions, leaving a cross of pastry with a 4×3-inch center.
    Cut a cross shape out of the pastry round. Save the scraps to cut out decorations.
  • Spread Spinach in thin layer on the rectangle of pastry. Follow with a layer of onions, the steak, a layer of mushrooms and second layer of spinach. Spread each layer as evenly as possible. Brush a light coating of the egg wash on each of the four panels of dough.
  • Check to be sure that the pastry is now pliable enough to fold without breaking (wait a minute or two if necessary). Fold up the longer sides first and then the end Fold each side panel onto the top, stretching the dough a bit if necessary to make the ends meet, or slightly overlapping if necessary. Follow suit with the top and bottom panels. Seal the panels together by pressing in the top panel where it meets the bottom panel and by pinching each of the four sides together where the panels meet. It’s important that pastry iswell sealed so the juices don’t leak out.
  • Hold upright in your hands, securing all the seals and smoothing any rough spots to make the package into a neat, rounded block. Set it seam side down and gently press the top and sides to make them as even all the way around as possible. Brush the top and all sides with egg wash. If desired puut decorations on top and brush with egg wash. Set the Wellingtons on the lined baking sheet. Set in freezer to set and chill the pastry. Repeat with the 5 remaining Wellingtons, adding each to the pan in the freezer as you go. Allow 1 hour in freezer.

Cook the Wellingtons:

  • Heat the oven to 400°F. Make another egg wash. Remove the Wellingtons from the freezer (do not thaw) and brush them with a fresh coat of egg wash. Cook for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F and cook another 35 to 40 minutes. Set them aside to rest for no longer than 10 minutes. Serve immediately.
Outlander returns for Season 5 February 16, 2020
Outlander fans rejoice! Season 5 starts February 16, 2020

BACON DAY – December 30

On December 30th each year, bacon lovers celebrate one of nature’s favored gifts on Bacon Day!

Everything is better with bacon. Someone said that once. And our research shows very little to dispute this assertion.

In the United States and Canada, bacon is made from the pork belly. Elsewhere in the world, the side and back cuts of pork are used. The meat is cured in either a salt brine or in a salt pack. It is then either dried, boiled, or smoked.

Bacon is a very popular food in the USA.  You can find many items also flavored or scented with bacon, including popcorn, soap, candles, air fresheners, and much more. While these uses are options, we suggest cooking with bacon.

It’s not just for breakfast anymore, either. Bacon improves everything from beverages to dessert. Some cocktails such as the Bloody Mary and Caesar add bacon to the olives, pickles, and other assorted ingredients. Bacon improves the flavor of many appetizers, sandwiches, and soups. Incorporate bacon into salads as a topping or mix it into the dressing. When it comes to dessert, bacon pairs well with maple frosting or maple ice cream. Thanks to the salty, smoky flavor of bacon, it compliments sweet quite well. The possibilities are endless. 

Bacon is both Keto and blood sugar friendly. Turkey bacon is also a good alternative. My favorite is leaf lettuce used as a wrap. Add Miracle Whip, tomatoes, and two strips of extra cripy bacon for a great tasting BLT without the carbs from bread. Two of these tucked into your lunch box with some cheese sticks and some blueberries makes for a great lunch that will give you plenty of energy till dinner without the 3:00 sleepies.

Share your favorite recipes with us. Here are some of our favorites featuring bacon!

Irish Skillet
Brussels sprouts the kids will eat
BLT Wraps

HOW TO OBSERVE #BaconDay

According to the founders of Bacon Day, we are encouraged to eat a variety of bacon while watching Kevin Bacon movies, or movies with bacon in the title. Since Bacon Day was created before the Discovery Channel show How It’s Made debuted, it’s safe to say, we can eat our bacon and watch those, too. Giving and receiving gifts of bacon is also recommended. Other suggested traditions such as bacon toasts and kissing under pork fat mistletoe are mentioned as well. Use #BaconDay to post on social media.

NATIONAL BACON DAY HISTORY

Danya “D” Goodman and Meff “Human Cannonball” Leonard founded Bacon Day in 1997 as the one great day to bond everyone together. 

NATIONAL CLEAN OUT YOUR REFRIGERATOR DAY November 15th

National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day on November 15 encourages us to prepare for the upcoming holidays. Get together a soap and hot water filled bucket, disinfectant, a sponge and a garbage bag. Then you will be ready for the day!

With family gathering and a large turkey waiting to be roasted, cleaning out the refrigerator makes sense. Not only will we need room before the meals, but we also need space for all of the upcoming leftovers. Many dread this job. However, it is an important task none the less.

Due to our hectic and busy lifestyles, the cleaning of the refrigerator gets neglected. hence the creation of National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day.  There may be a surprise or two found at the back of the shelves. Things are often pushed back as new food is put in the front and gets forgotten.

Replacing the refrigerator water filter
Replacing the water filter now puts the six months schedule both before your holiday season and before the summer. The times you are likely to use it the most.

Sanitation Foundation (NSF) International found that the meat and vegetable drawers were the dirtiest spots in our kitchens – well with regards to causing disease.

However, those who clean their fridges more often tend to waste more food. There’s plenty of advice available on the frequency of fridge cleaning. Understanding food labels and the meanings behind “sell by” and “best by” dates are also important. These labels don’t necessarily mean a product has gone bad, but that the quality is best by the date on the label. However, “use by” leaves some of us wondering.

Greenco GRC0250 Fridge Bins, Stackable Storage Organizer Containers with Handles for Refrigerator, Freezer, Pantry and Kitchen Cabinets, BPA, Standard, Clear

by Greenco
Greenco GRC0250 Fridge Bins, Stackable Storage Organizer Containers with Handles for Refrigerator, Freezer, Pantry and Kitchen Cabinets, BPA, Standard, Clear

by Greenco

HOW TO OBSERVE #CleanOutYourRefrigeratorDay

Some suggestions for your refrigeration cleaning are:

  • Empty each shelf.
  • Completely wipe down the inside of the refrigerator.
  • Wash drawers and underneath the drawers.
  • Throw away all expired food.
  • Throw away any moldy food.
  • Get rid of anything that you do not use.
  • Vacuum condenser coils.
  • Vacuum out under the refrigerator.
  • Restock shelves and drawers with good food.
  • Enjoy your nice, clean, organized refrigerator.

Use #CleanOutYourRefrigeratorDay to post on social media.

Arm & Hammer Fridge Fresh Refrigerator Air Filter (Pack of 4)

by Arm & Hammer
Arm & Hammer Fridge Fresh Refrigerator Air Filter (Pack of 4)

by Arm & Hammer

NATIONAL CLEAN OUT YOUR REFRIGERATOR DAY HISTORY

The home economists at Whirlpool Home Appliances created National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day in 1999 to encourage people to clean out their refrigerator in advance of the upcoming holidays.  At that time, the company even had a toll-free hotline that people could call into for cleaning tips.

Beef Pepper Steak

Ingredients

2 lbs sirloin steak sliced ultra thin
2 medium bell peppers
1/2 onion cut into strips
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 cup beef broth
4 cups cooked rice
2 tsp olive oil
2 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in waterCalphalon Contemporary Hard-Anodized Aluminum Nonstick Cookware, Deep Skillet, 13-inch, Black  by Calphalon  Calphalon Contemporary Hard-Anodized Aluminum Nonstick Cookware, Deep Skillet, 13-inch, Black

by Calphalon

Directions

  1. Once steak and veggies are sliced heat medium skillet on medium-high heat.
  2. Add steak. Cook 3 – 5 minutes.
  3. Add peppers and onions. Cook 2 minutes.
  4. Add soy sauce and beef broth.
  5. Add cornstarch and reduce heat to low.
  6. When sauce thickens serve warm or cool and freeze for an easy weeknight meal.  We serve over rice. Or cauliflower rice for a low carb, keto, option.

Ground Beef Stroganoff

1 lbs ground beef
1 can cream or mushroom soup
1 8 oz jar sliced mushrooms, drained
1 pkg Beef Stroganoff seasoning mix
1/4 c finely chopped onion
1 cup sour cream
Golden egg noodles

Freezer meal directions


Brown ground beef, drain
Let cool.  In gallon freezer bag add mushrooms, cream soup, onions, seasoning mix, and cooled ground beef.  Remove air from bag and flatten to conserve space. Keeps in freezer for 60 – 90 days.Glad Zipper Food Storage Freezer Bags - Gallon - 40 Count - 4 Pack   by Glad  Glad Zipper Food Storage Freezer Bags – Gallon – 40 Count – 4 Pack 

by Glad


  • To prepare simply defrost and heat. 
  • Add 1 cup sour cream. 
  • Serve over fresh golden egg noodles.
Takes less than 30 minutes to put a healthy family favorite on the table

Stovetop directions

Circulon Radiance Hard-Anodized Nonstick Covered Deep Skillet, 12-Inch, Gray

by Circulon

Circulon Radiance Hard-Anodized Nonstick Covered Deep Skillet, 12-Inch, Gray

by Circulon

  1. Brown ground beef, drain.
  2. Add onions. Cook 5 minutes.
  3. Add cream of mushroom soup.
  4. Stir in 1 cup of sour cream.
  5. Add seasoning mix, and drained mushrooms.
  6. Simmer with cover 10 minutes.
  7. Serve warm over golden egg noodles.

Fall into Happiness

September is here! I love fall, & not just because pumpkin-spice everything is back on menu’s. (I’m a Cinnamon dolce latte girl.) After the high temperatures of summer in Florida I look forward to cooler breezes blowing through the northwest Florida climate. While our fall runs a much shorter period of time here there are several really good reasons to look ahead.

Take a family camping trip.
Easy fast tent set up
Coleman Cabin Tent with Instant Setup | Cabin Tent for Camping Sets Up in 60 Seconds

by Coleman

Cooler temperatures here means less likely to get a hurricane. That said I know the tropics have just started their fireworks for places along any coastline. While our hearts and minds go out to family, friends, and even strangers as we watch Dorian, we are breathing a small sigh of relief it’s not coming here. I’m a native Florida girl do I have grown up with it just like Californian’s grew up with earthquakes, and others grew up with tornados. Between you and me i’ll take my hurricanes over the others. (We at least get about a weeks warning to get out if it’s going to be really bad.)
Hurricanes – What You Need to Know

Actloe  Actloe Women Cowl Neck Plaid Long Sleeve Pullover Tops Casual Tunic Sweatshirt
Actloe Women Cowl Neck Plaid Long Sleeve Pullover Tops Casual Tunic Sweatshirt

If you never learn anything about how this works, that’s okay. Cool weather means high pressure systems. They repel hurricanes, for the most part. While there can be late season surprises we only need to be hyper vigilant through November. The cooler temps let me unpack my favorite sweaters and even wear a pair of jeans outside without melting. I get to show off my cute boots, make out my birthday wish list, and make cozy comfort food like my easy chili that everyone loves.

Jens easy chili recipe
Jen’s Easy Chili Recipe

With the holiday season not far away I’ve started thinking about the joys of the season, the gifting, I love doing and the way things seem to sparkle under the moon with frost on the ground.

With the hustle if everyday life going full speed ahead I like to remind myself of the simple things that brighten someones day. Seeing others smile pleases me. Especially when I get no credit for it. The season of Thanksgiving is coming but, I like to spread some joy when it’s not expected. A kind word, a cup of hot tea, a child’s excitement, or just the neighbor helping neighbor we see in communities impacted by foul weather. Each of us have the power to make each day a wonderful experience to remember. So jump in the pile of leaves with the kids, dress up for Halloween, volunteer, and brighten the day.

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