food · through my camera lens

Cheeseburger “TOTchos”

I always menu plan the night before I go to the grocery store. I really don’t know how people shop without menu planning!

Well this week, we had one night that was unplanned. We just could not come up with something to have as one of our weekend meals. I looked when I went to the grocery store and we looked again yesterday when we were at Costco for something to get for dinner. We did buy pork chops and ground turkey. But, I just did not feel like pork chops tonight. So… I started to think and think  of something to make. I ended up making a recipe off the seat of my pants.

In the past I’ve made “TOTchos”, but I always made them Tex-Mex. I didn’t want that. I have been on an anit-taco meat kick lately. But the concept of TOTchos sounded like a perfect meal for tonight. So I created Cheeseburger TOTchos. (it tastes better than it photographs! )

Cheeseburger TOTchos

  • -ground turkey (or any ground meat you like)
  • -small onion-minced
  •  1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tbsp steak sauce
  •  3 Tbsp ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp Steak seasoning (I use McCormick Montreal Blend)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or whatever cheese you like on your burgers)
  • -tater tots
  • -EVOO
  • -S&P
  1. Preheat oven and bake tater tots according to the package
  2. In a large cast iron pan (or frying pan of your choice) sauce the onions (seasoned with S&P) in some EVOO
  3. When the onions begin to brown add in ground turkey and cook it while breaking it down into chunks
  4. Add Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, steak seasoning, and ketchup to the meat and continue to stir
  5. I popped this into my second oven at 350 to continue to cook, but you can do it all on the stove top.
  6. When the tots are done, season the tots with S&P
  7. Put the cheese on top of the meat mixture
  8. Put the tots on top of the cheese and pop back in the oven for 3-5 min to melt the cheese

Serve with your favorite tot and burger toppings. I used ketchup, mustard and pickle slices, Colby used ketchup, Blake and Richard didn’t t add anything to theirs.

This was really good. Richard felt it needed a bit more seasoning. I think the tots needed to cook a bit more so they were super crisp. I think the next time I’ll cook them for the longer time on the bag instead of the shorter. I will certainly make it again.


family · food · life

Routines and changes

Life has settled back into  our summer routine. I’m starting to work on the boy’s sleep schedule. On Monday they start back into theater camp. That means they need to be up and moving to be out the door to be at camp at 9am. There have been days this summer where Colby didn’t get up until 10am. What is going to happen when he’s a teen if he does this at 10?

I got the boys up today at 8am and we did a workout. We did a 25 min cardio and then a 5 min abs. Richard and I are starting a new workout routine on Monday and the boys say they want to do it too… lets see if we can all get up and moving to do it.

The boys and I are also going to the grocery store today. We worked on the menu last night… fish tacos (I made homemade coleslaw for this), ribs with corn, homemade pizza (I am making pizza dough we will see what we have with it), grilled chicken and sweet potato, taco Tuesday!, grilled tuna steaks and fruit plate, meatballs. Friday is the boy’s play (Frozen again)

Hard to believe in about a month the boys will be going back to school. They start back on Aug 23rd. Blake will be a 6th grader and Colby a 5th grader. Time to get back into routines. Getting up in the morning. Eating breakfast (Colby doesn’t eat it on the days he sleeps in late), having simpler healthy dinners.

family · food · life · Must Have Monday

Must Have Monday– menu planning edition


Every week the night before I go to the grocery store I spend some time menu planning. I have done this for years. I want to go to the store once in a week. I don’t want to have to go back and get something. I also don’t want to limit my meal plans based on what I got on a whim, or what I have in my pantry.

Now don’t get me wrong there are times when I still make pantry meals. There are times when I have to go back to the store because I forgot something or I ran out of something I didn’t expect to run out of before shopping again.

So here is my must have Monday items for menu planning. First thing I grab is a pad of paper. I like the small/junior legal pads. They tend to be the perfect size for my list and then I can fold it up and put it in my pocket. Yes, I know that I could make the list on my phone, but doing it this way is the way I do it. Plus I can have others add to the list without them touching my phone.

I divide the paper down the middle on the left hand side I write all the items I am getting at the store. I even write the staples that I get each week. My list typically starts: milk, fruit, veggies, deli.

On the right hand list I write the days of the week and start picking out meals for dinner. i do not plan lunches or breakfasts. These meals are all fend for yourself at my house. If you want something for one of these meals that we don’t already have you need to put the item on the left side of the list or let me know so I can write it down.

I tend to make simpler meals for the week nights. There are many nights that Richard doesn’t get home from work until around 7pm. The boys and I do not wait until then to eat so the foods either need to be either easy to reheat or remake. The weekends (F, S, S) are the days I’ll put more energy into eating. Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t cook during the week, they are just easier to put together.

The summer months mean more grilling and more simple meals. Who wants to put the oven on or slave over a stove when its in the 90s outside??

We purchase a good chunk of meats at Costco so I will go down and see what meats we have in the freezer before planning. That doesn’t mean I  am limited to those meats, but then I don’t have to buy new meats if we have them.

I always ask for meal suggestions. Blake typically says: quesadillas, pressed sandwiches, pizza or tacos. Colby typically asks for: burgers, steak, pancakes or pasta. Richard’s thoughts are a bit more random.

I typically make things we have had before, but I have an extensive Pinterest board with foods to try. Every now and then I will say… time for something new.

This week we are having:

  • grilled ham and pineapple
  • tacos
  • steak, grilled fries, and salad
  • chicken something (I pulled out chicken, but don’t know what we are having with it yet)

That’s as far as I got. I’m slacking this week! Oh well we will get there.

Do you menu plan? How do you go about menu planning each week?


Time to Menu Plan!

I realized that I”m running out of milk and need to go to the grocery store tomorrow, so we are menu planning now.

Here’s what’s Image result for on the menu

Tuesday: ham steak and fruit

Wednesday: Honey “Bourbon” Chicken in the electric pressure cooker– not sure why it’s called honey bourbon when there’s no bourbon, but it sounds good anyway

Thursday: FFY– the boys have biking again

Friday: Orecchiette with mini meatballs

Saturday: out?

Sunday: pizza something with Alton’s pizza dough

Monday: FFY– the boys have biking again

Sweet treat: Chocolate Peanut butter pretzel bars


— Side note, if you wrote a comment on Blake’s Peace, Love & Little Donuts’s post the other day he will get back to you tomorrow… I think

family · food

Menu Plans

Thursday finds me at the grocery store. So that means I had to menu plan. This week we have a few new things to try and I’m looking forward to them.

Image result for what's on the menu

The boys went with Richard to work for “Take Your Child to Work Day.” They are on their way home now, so we are going to meet up and go to Emporios for dinner. Emporios is a meatball restaraunt. We haven’t been there since the fall and it will be fun to go back.

Tomorrow I’m making fish and chips. I was watching Worst Cooks in America the other day and they made fish and chips, so I decided we needed this on our menu. I’m actually making homemade fish sticks. I found the recipe in Alton Brown’s cookbook EverdayCooks.Alton Brown: EveryDayCook

Sunday we are having pizza or stromboli, we shall see. I’m trying another pizza dough recipe. This one is Alton Brown’s (you may notice a theme here this week)Alton Brown: EveryDayCook. I need to make the dough on Saturday. I hope this dough tastes the way I expect pizza dough to taste.

Monday we are having grilled chicken and a sweet potato side dish from Alton Brown’s cookbook Alton Brown: EveryDayCook (see I told you there was a trend this week). This dish is made with sweet potatoes, quinoa, parsnips, apples and pepitas. I’m looking forward to trying this and I predict I will be enjoying the leftovers next week for lunches.

Tuesday I’m heading into the boys’ school for a teacher appreciation luncheon. I signed up to make cookies and am planning to make Amish Sugar Cookies. I have made these before and they were really good. They remind me of a snickerdoodle, but without the cinnamon. Since Tuesday is a day Richard usually works late, and I’ll be out for a good chunk of the day, we are having quesadillas for dinner.

Wednesday we are having sloppy joes. I haven’t decided which version to make. I have a yummy version that tastes like Philly cheese steak, a more traditional version and what we call Sloppy Richard’s because it’s the version he grew up with. I may go search the web to find a new version… we shall see!

Well, that’s my menu for the coming week. What are you looking forward to eating next? Any of the dishes I’ve mentioned that you’d like me to post about after we’ve tried it?

family · life · through my camera lens

Thursday is shopping day

Seems like I’ve moved my grocery shopping day to Thursday. Last night we made our week’s menu at dinner time. This is always an interesting adventure. I ask anyone have a meal they want or don’t want for the week ahead? Sometimes I get answers other times not so much. Richard is better at this then the boys. But, they are often good at coming up with things we have ALL THE TIME. I’m the type of person who likes variety, my guys like routine, or so it seems.

This week we are having:

  • BBQ chicken lasagna (leftovers)
  • hamburgers and hot dogs – haven’t had this in a while actually other than eating out
  • TBD- probably go out to Zuppas since we haven’t been there in a while and the boys have mentioned going
  • steak with sweet potato fries
  • pork tenderloin and apple sauce- haven’t had this in a while too
  • make your own scramblers
  • Tex-Mex chicken totchos – think nachos on tater tots

Ok meal planning.✓

Does anyone need anything else from the grocery store? crickets! But then they complain when I didn’t buy x, y, or z. Or like yesterday at the oddest time they will say can you pick up Alfredo sauce? It’s not as bad on the days they think of it while I’m actually making the list. The worst is the day after I went shopping, oh I needed you to get _______. Too bad, you’ll have to wait until next week. Remember to add it to the list.

So I’m going to get ready to head to the store. Typically I’d go to the gym first since they are on the same street, but not today. I am not sure what I did, but my hip has been killing me since Tuesday. It hurts to walk up and down the stairs, it hurts to get on and off the chair, it just hurts. I refuse to stop moving. Yesterday the four of us went on a walk around the neighborhood after dinner and I walked 1.47 miles and we do not live in a flat neighborhood. (looking at my map my hike info the elevation change was 128 ft between the min and max elevations). But, I’m not going to go to the gym and push it to the point of doing more damage to whatever I did. UGH getting old sucks!

So I will head out in the snow… yes it is snowing AGAIN. Yesterday we had temps in the upper 50s for a high and right now it is 33F and snowing. Here I thought it was spring. Ok mother nature we get it… we aren’t in Florida anymore. It isn’t 80s and sunny 90% of the year. But, can’t we move onto the season of spring? You know the season of renewal and rebirth? The season of flowers, allergies and sunshine? The season that leads into summer? I’m ready… any day now! At least looking at the 10 day forecast at this point there is no snow forecast after today and there are actually days in the 60s. I’ll take it… please!

So, what’s on your menu this week ahead? Do you like to have the same things over and over or do you like to switch things up pretty regularly? Has spring sprung where you live or are you suffering with the season of Spinter like me?

Image may contain: plant and flowerImage may contain: snow and outdoor

life · through my camera lens

It’s Friday Eve

It’s Thursday. That means it is Friday Eve, isn’t that a great way to look at Thursdays? This has been a fast week for me, but I’m not sure I actually did a whole lot. Yesterday was a productive in house day. We had rain, wind, snow and sun yesterday as well as cold temperatures so it was a perfect stay home day. I put away all the Easter decorations, but didn’t have anything to put out so now the house feels bare, oh well. I also managed to get all the beds stripped and washed, cleaned the bathrooms and swept the floors.

After dinner (leftover chicken and steak wraps… make your own!), we worked on the menu for next week. I think going to the grocery store on Thursdays might be a good day for me, I’ll try it out for a few weeks. Typically I shop on Mondays, but then it feels like we have no food on the weekends, when everyone is home. On the menu this week we have: make your own scramblers, quesadillas, tuna steaks, TBD, meatballs and fish tacos. I’ll make rolls to go with the meatballs, not sure yet if I’ll make grinder rolls or small rolls, time will tell.

Today we woke up to more blowing snowflakes and 27 degrees F. What month are we in? At least neither the snow yesterday nor today stuck so it was just in looking out and seeing snow flying around. While I was having my coffee and then my breakfast I was watching my bird feeders. Over the weekend we moved the feeder again and now I can see it from my computer again. I decided to take some pictures of the birds I could see. This morning I saw: doves, goldfinch, cardinals, blue jays, crows and black birds. We typically have starlings around too. Yesterday we even had a turkey walk through the backyard.

andesI went to the gym and then to the grocery store. While I was there, I picked up some Andes candies and decided to make chocolate chocolate Andes cookies. Yep, you read that right! I haven’t made cookies in a few weeks so it was time. I took this recipe and altered it with peppermint extra, a bit of extra salt and then substituted 1 cup of chips for chopped up Andes candies.

The other big change this week is the lot next door. They have already dug the foundation and then today they began working on changing the topography of the backyard. This is good and bad for us. We wanted them to alter topography of our backyard, but they wouldn’t do it. I think they are doing it this time because the other builder in the neighborhood cleaned up the lot of two lots that back up to the property next to us. Now I wonder what they are going to do between our property and the one they are working on. My boys would have loved this when they were little. They loved construction vehicles so much and would have probably spent hours just sitting and watching dump truck after dump truck get loaded up by the back hoe.

Hope you enjoyed a quick glimpse into my Friday Eve. Tomorrow I’m off to the boys’ school to help with the 4th grade science Olympics. Then it’s the weekend. I’m always ready for the weekend. Hope this week has been nice to you.

family · life · through my camera lens

Happy Easter Fools Day!


The funny bunny arrived at our house. The boys found their first eggs on their chair at the kitchen table, and  the start of the hunt. Each egg sends them to the next location. On Colby’s third location he found his basket, normally this is the end of the hunt, but not this year. It was located in the pots and pans cabinet and there was a pot inside the basket with another egg. The bunny said “Happy Easter Fools Day, you aren’t done hunting yet.” This then sent him to his next location. Blake found a similar egg in his basket at his fourth location, which was in “the bathroom that isn’t”, we have the rough plumbing for a bathroom in our basement.

I guess that funny bunny decided that since Easter fell on April Fools day he needed to play a joke on the boys. They did finally find all their Easter goodies hidden (Colby’s with his Traxxas truck and Blake with his lunch box).

In their basket ummm pile they each got a book, a Raspberry Pi, Lego Dimensions extension packs, and a new card game. Colby also got a carrot filled with reese pieces and Blake got Dove chocolate bunny ears. We have already played both card games, they are a lot of fun and I’ll review them later this week. Blake already read the book from Colby’s basket and has almost finished the one from his basket as well.

After that was done, we had scramblers for brunch. I made pepper and onion scramblers with cheddar cheese. Richard made bacon to have with them. Richard and I decided to have breakfast sandwiches and put all that yummy goodness on a croissant. (sorry I didn’t take a picture before diving into it).

For “linner” we are having ham, Cheesy au Gratin Potatoes, salad and homemade rolls. I’m in the process of making this. I am trying another new roll recipe, but I think I messed it up this time. I don’t think the water I used was hot enough, which means it didn’t allow the yeast to bloom enough. They turned out ok, they aren’t as fluffy as I’d like, but they aren’t rock hard which is a good thing. So we will eat them, but next time I will certainly make sure I use hot water.

I hope the funny bunny was good to you and didn’t play too many April Fools day jokes.

Image result for happy easter fools day

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Today’s rambling thoughts

The last two mornings I’ve had to get up on shovel. Neither day had a lot of snow. Monday probably had 2-3 inches and today had a dusting to an inch. But, I am one of those people who has to have a clear driveway. I am obsessed with being able to see the blacktop!

Typically I go out and shovel the driveway before Richard leaves for work and then after he leaves I go out and clean off where his truck is in the driveway, the walkway, the sidewalk and the back steps. Yesterday, Richard took my car to work so the snow around the truck never got shoveled. This meant there was more snow there. Also, the snow melted yesterday and refroze under the truck. I found that ice today and manage to slip on it.  Oh well… I didn’t hurt anything but my ego.

Today I left the house for the first time in a while. Last week I wasn’t feeling well so there were quite a few days that I didn’t go anywhere. Today I went to the grocery store. This meant that I needed to make a grocery list and menu plan yesterday. I hate going to the store without a plan. I’ve lived here since June and I still am trying to figure out the grocery store.

I’ve been wanting to make something new, but I didn’t figure out something new to try this week. I did come up with a few meals that we haven’t had in a while, but I’m going to search for new meals, I need a change. We are having FFY (fend for yourself), baked potato soup and homemade bread/rolls, meatloaf muffins, chicken cordon bleu, and pork tenderloin. Saturday we are going to go out to eat since we are going to see Monster Jam.

The other thing I’m planning to make today is oatmeal raisin cookies. Colby has been asking for these the last few weeks. The last few things I baked have been something peanut butter so oatmeal raisin is a good change. I do have another peanut butter cookie recipe in my head, maybe next week.

Yesterday I spent some time working on a new kit for my Teachers Pay Teacher’s store. I love that I have the time to work on these kits that I can sell at a reasonable price for other teachers. I am almost done with the one I started yesterday and I have a few more ideas brewing for the next ones I’ll make.

I’m glad that I’m feeling more human again. My head is still stuffed, but it’s not slowing me down anymore. Yesterday I felt productive as I got the house cleaned, two blog posts, made dinner and worked on the TPT kit. And, that was after shoveling. Today I am having another productive day. Yep, I feel like me again.

Hope your week is going smoothly.

Do you meal plan before going to the grocery store? Did I list any meals you’d like me to post about for next week’s Tasty Tuesday? Is it snowing in your neck of the world?





Menu plan… a bit of a challenge this week

Menu planning was interesting this week. Colby still is not allowed to bite with his front teeth, we go back to the dentist on Nov 6th. This limits what he is able to eat. Hmmm this could be very interesting the next 3 weeks.

Thursday: fish

Friday: pretzel chicken

Saturday: scramblers (late lunch as our neighborhood is trick or treating on Saturday night)

Sunday: burgers– making them in my cast iron pan for the first time

Monday: Philly cheese-steak sloppy joes

Tuesday: Salsa Stoup and quesadillas

Guess I am challenging Rachael Ray this week. Most the the recipes we are having I found from Rachael over the years.

I love being able to tap into foods that we have made over the years when I menu plan. I love to try new recipes, but I also really like going back to tried and true recipes.

What is on your menu? Off to the store… see ya!