Monthly Archives: September 2013

New Menu

Weekly Menu: Week 39 (09/23/13-09/27/13)

Happy Friday!!

It’s starting to feel like Fall in Maryland! YAY!! I was beginning to wonder if we were actually going to have a fall this year, considering that we were pushing 90 degree temperatures up until this past week. Lame.

Last week’s menu was fairly-well executed in the Smithstrong household. The only thing that did not happen was the chicken and noodles, despite the fact that I did actually “roast” the chicken for the recipe (I use this recipe to “roast” it in the Crock Pot, which works and tastes amazingly well). It turned out that Big Daddy ended up eating the chicken by itself anyway, so it wasn’t a total bust.

And, we thoroughly ate the heck out of the Tater Tot Casserole.

tater tot

Um yum.

In fact, I just ate the last of this for breakfast today. Yes, for breakfast. And it was delicious.

I wasn’t entirely convinced about this recipe before I made it, but it has officially been starred and bubbly-hearted in my binder so that I remember to make it again in the future. So delicious.

In addition to the Tater Tots we thoroughly enjoyed, the Toddler has been enjoying her exciting Bento-style lunches. Admittedly, it takes me a bit longer to organize her lunches in the evenings (I am not a morning-lunch-packer because I enjoy sleep too much), but it might add an extra 10 minutes to the process. Not a deal breaker for me, considering how excited she reportedly gets every day when she gets to search for the “BUNNY!/DOGGY!/KITTY!/BEAR BEAR!” in her Bento box.

I probably would’ve loved this as a child, so I’m likely just projecting…but that’s another story for another day.

If you want to read all about my Adventures in Toddler Bento Lunches, I wrote a whole post about it here. I didn’t want to bore anyone who is just here for a menu with my ramblings about making lunches for The Toddler. You’re welcome.

I had a really difficult time picking out recipes this week because of all of the delicious fall DESSERTS that are clogging up my Pinterest feed. I cannot stop thinking about pumpkin donuts, apple pie, and all things sweet and fall-y…so of course there’s no room for legitimate food in my brain. I did my best, but I really wanted to keep it simple in terms of cooking because Mama wants to have some fun (and not be testing her pregnant feet for 6-8 hours in the kitchen on Saturday/Sunday).

Hence, I searched the word “casserole” on Pinterest, and an enormous list of beautifully-constructed casseroles appeared. It’s magic, that Pinterest!

Casseroles are almost always a big hit in our house, so I pretty much can’t go wrong.

Nacho Casserole won, because really…who doesn’t love anything that resembles a taco? Just us?


And I couldn’t get past the anticipated cranberry-orange goodness of these.



Mmmmm…just try to resist the allure of the cranberries. You can’t.

So here’s the lowdown for next week:

New Recipes:

Recycled Recipes:

I’m enjoying the fact that I have just as many new recipes as I do recycled recipes lately. That means that my grand plan is working out beautifully. Less cooking! More time for fun!

Everything you need (menu, recipes, plan & grocery list) is hanging in the folder on!

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bento 3

Adventures in Toddler Bento Lunches

I mentioned last week that I had started getting a little more creative with packing The Toddlers meals for daycare, but I didn’t elaborate much. Now that I’m fully committed to the whole bento process (and I’ve worked out some of the “uhhh….duhhhhh” moments), I’m ready to share.

Here are a few of the lunches that I packed for her over the past couple of weeks:

bento 2

See the bunny??!! That’s seriously her favorite part.

This lunch was Week 37’s Skillet Enchiladas with a dollop of sour cream, roasted broccoli, oranges, sliced cheese, peaches, and a little square of sugar cookie biscotti that I got from Kupcakes & Co. (yummy bakery! They make Buckeyes!!), and threw in as a special treat.

bento 1

This one was also from Week 37’s menu, and very simple. Grilled cheese cut into little hearts, strawberries, pepper slices, oranges, and Annie’s Cheddar Bunny Snack Mix (that’s always a fave).

bento 3

This one is a blast from the past. The menu is just from this past week, but that’s part of a leftover Sausage and Rice Stuffed Pepper from a few weeks ago that I popped in the freezer when I realized it wasn’t going to get eaten during the week. The rest is pretty obvious–grapes, steamed mixed veggies, cheese, oranges, and steamed broccoli.

Since she’s still eating little girl portions, I am able to fit both her lunch and afternoon snack in this 3-compartment Bento made by Goodbyn, which I happened to find at Target on accident. I was thinking the other day how handy it would be to have a second, but when I went back to Target, they were all gone! I just did a ‘needle in a haystack’ Google search, since I don’t have the Bento here at the moment, and couldn’t remember the brand. I’m glad I found it…now I can order another online. Hooray for convenience!

For breakfast, I found this very girly Hello Kitty Bento box on Amazon. Of course it’s not pictured on the Amazon listing, but when you open up the Kitty’s face (ummm…creepy), there’s a little removable tray that takes up 1/2 of the space inside, so it’s good for when one thing inside needs to be heated up and the other doesn’t.

Personally, I am overly-careful about heating up plastic containers in the microwave. In fact, I don’t even OWN a microwave because I just don’t see the point. However, at the babysitters, the convenience of popping everything into the microwave wins over my (possibly ridiculous) fear of heating up plastic. Needless to say, the process of getting the right stuff to fit inside the Goodbyn Bento has been a little challenging for me. I’ve come up with a plan wherein I only put the food that needs to be heated inside of glass containers, or in paper cupcake wrappers.The exception to this was the grilled cheese in the picture above, which she ate cold anyway…because that’s how she likes to eat it.

I know it’s weird, but she’s my kid after all.

Even though the wells in it are pretty deep, it was still tricky to find glass containers that fit inside of it, since the wells are oblong and not circular. I finally came across Wean Green, and they make those little oval-shaped containers that you see in the pictures. They fit very nicely inside. I also bought a few other sizes and shapes, but they don’t fit as well (or at all). I’m not worried about them not getting used though, since I’m always in need of some type of glass receptacle for food storage. The only thing that bummed me out about the Wean Green containers is that you can’t put them in the oven…which totally sucks for someone who is constantly heating up food, but doesn’t have a microwave.

Win some, lose some.

I know it’ll be a work in progress, but I’m enjoying the current setup, and I do strangely like packing her fun little meals each day. Well…as much as one can enjoy doing ANYTHING besides watching trashy TV on the sofa after putting in a full day of work, followed by 3 hours of chasing/feeding/bathing a toddler. While 8.5 months pregnant. So yeah. It’s not like my favorite thing, but it’s more enjoyable now that I’ve made it a little more fun.

And, I know that she enjoys it, so that takes some of the “blah/yuck/eew” out of it.

I’m slowly filling up my Bento Stuff board on Pinterest, so check that out too for some ideas. If you have any ideas, email them to me or comment!

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New Menu

Weekly Menu: Week 38 (9/16/13-9/20/13)

Just a quick and dirty post today, considering that it’s Sunday and I haven’t grocery shopped yet.

Let’s just say that Friday I was lazy, yesterday I was overly ambitious (to the tune of a 5 hour cleaning marathon), and today I’m playing catch up on the food-front. It happens.

But you should get excited, because there’s this.


New Recipes:

Recycled Recipes:

Optional Recipe:


Here’s a folder with all of the files you could possibly need for the week… Week 38 Menu, Recipes, Grocery List & Plan.

beth signature

New Menu

Weekly Menu: Week 37 (9/9/13-9/13/13)

So in case you were wondering, I obviously blew the menu off last week. That’s sort of how I do things…I’m a little unpredictable at times. I decided that I didn’t want to grocery shop for anything more than produce last week, so I declared it a week of “winging it”! Hopefully, you were able to survive off of recycled recipes for the past week. I’m sure you were just fine without me.

Besides not wanting to spend money on groceries, I was also frazzled from being away for Labor Day weekend. The family and I (dogs included) traveled 400 miles north to visit my NY family one last time before baby boy arrives. Actually, it’ll be the last time we make that trip until the end of March 2014, since I am not a fan of snow…and snow sometimes lasts until April in Central NY.

I’ve safely entered into the “single digit” baby countdown now. I can’t believe that I will have a baby in 9 weeks or less. It feels impossible. Insane.

And my house isn’t clean!

And my freezer isn’t fully stocked!

And there are so many things that need to be obsessively organized!

Regardless of any of that, he’s still coming…and I’m never going to really feel prepared for his arrival, so I’m just going with it. Winging it. It’s my theme lately. For instance, last night, I came home from work with The Toddler, and rather than rush inside and get dinner started, I sat on the front lawn and talked to Big Daddy while he did yard work. All the while, The Toddler cavorted in the front lawn, plucking basil leaves out of the herb garden and playing in the dirt. Supervised, but I certainly wasn’t regulating how much basil (or dirt) she ate.

Then I went inside and ordered takeout.

It was glorious.

Sometimes, you just have to put down your schedule and wing it. I don’t allow myself to do that very often, but when I occasionally do, it’s sort of liberating.

That said, let’s talk about the new menu! [Since my brain can only handle the freedom of ‘winging it’ for so long, ya know].

My challenge as of late is that there is very little room in the belly anymore for food! It’s a sad situation for someone who loves food as much as I do. I have a difficult time even considering what to eat on a regular basis, because it takes forever before I don’t feel full from my previous meal. I’m not talking full. I’m talking FULL…from just eating a normal-size portion of food. I ate three 2″ x 2″ squares of pizza for lunch yesterday, and I felt full until 8PM. It’s completely unreasonable.

And meat kinda makes me feel pukey again. But I sure do love oyster crackers right now.

And chili.


Yep, I realize that it’s chicken chili. What can I say…I’m a walking contradiction today.

Since we’re on the topic of food challenges. I’m having a bit of a challenge lately feeding the toddler, because she’s claiming to not like anything besides Chick-Fil-A nuggets and macaroni & cheese. It’s posing some challenges for me in the “keep the baby fed” front. She does generally eat a little better at daycare though, so in an effort to encourage at least 2 solid meals per day (she eats breakfast and lunch there), I’ve been packing her a daily Bento box that looks a little more fun than your average lunch.

If I’m being honest, I have way too much fun putting her lunches together now, so it’s about 45% selfish decision, and 55% trying to motivate her to eat.

I’ve been compiling ideas (and bento supplies) over the past couple of weeks, but I’m working on my skills. As we were driving to daycare this morning, I checked the passenger seat of my truck to ensure that I hadn’t forgotten her lunch on the counter at home. It wasn’t there. However, it WAS on the floor. Sideways. With applesauce inside the bento box. Unprotected. Leaking into the Earth Balance Cheese Popcorn.

I still need some practice.

I just started pinning to a board on Pinterest for Bento stuff if you want to check it out. It’s pretty cute. I try to only Pin the stuff that is possible for me to accomplish, because some of it is a little out of my realm (and patience level).

This one? Not likely.

unreasonable bento

I’m a relatively practical Bento-er. This is more my style:

practical bento

Except lunch meat freaks me out right now.

…so many issues!

But this isn’t therapy. You’re here for a menu, aren’t you?

New Recipes:

Recycled Recipes:

Ok, I’m sure you’ve had enough of me for today.

Click for the folder with the menu, recipes, plan & grocery list!

beth signature