New Year Goal: A New “Kitchen”

Many of you know that I rent a room and, therefore, do not have an actual kitchen. Right now the picture to the top of this post shows my current “kitchen”. The food is in the closet, a setup that is no longer working for me.

I’m actually saving for an efficiency or one-bedroom apartment but, until I can move, I’m stuck with what I can do in my room. So I’ve decided to change things up a bit. My new “kitchen” will need to work better for me, so I’m working out affordable ways to organize things better, like repurposing a couple of old shelves that I have on hand. Really, the shelves need to be replaced. But I’m going to use them to set up a kitchen corner in the room instead.

There will be a little more space to move around as well, and I’m coming up with a plan to have a food prep area on top of one of the shelves.

Let’s see how I can make all of this happen. I’ll update you when my new “kitchen” is complete.

Happy new year! Feel free to share your kitchen and food related goals in the comments.

Shannon

New Year Goal: Be Healthy

Oh the things we lose track of, like our fitness goals. I’m so disappointed in me. 😦 But, rather than dwell on the negativeness of this, I’m going to put my energies into staying positive and getting myself back on track.

What does this mean?

Through a combination of fitness, positive thinking and attitude, and getting back into eating healthy, I am going to get myself back on track. Not that I’ve gone back to all of my old, unhealthy behaviors, but some of them have seeped back into my life.

It’s time to rethink how I want to feel, and how I am going to get there and stay there.

Nutrition is a big part of this plan I have formulating in my head. So I want to expand my menu choices in order to give myself more options.

The basics of protein, a few fruits/vegetables, and healthy fat is great most of the time, but I think I need more of a variety so as not to get too bored. And I need to do something about what I’m doing with cravings. Rather than blow the healthy eating habits all together, I can lessen the impact by making healthier choices.

So, what do you say? Are you with me?

Let’s be healthier this year!

Shannon

New Year Goal: Try New Recipes (Mostly Paleo)

I wanted to do this last year, but never got around to it all. In all honesty, I got very bored with food prep and went for easy things to prepare. I’m now bored with all of that, and am looking to expand my winter menu.

So this year, I want to try to learn how to do a few new things.

  1. I want to expand my pizza options. I don’t want to go overboard with cheese, but I do like it once in a while. Pizza is one place where I just can’t let it go. This is why I don’t eat pizza often, haha. But I figure that, if I make my own, I have more control over how healthy it is. A nice paleo crust will be the base, then I’m going to play around a bit; come up with new options.
  2. Paleo versions of chicken or turkey pot pie. Small, single-serve ones because I have the cutest little Pioneer Woman mini pie pans I can use. (See the feature image!) I remember eating those little store-bought ones with my daughters when they were little.
  3. Paleo mini pies. Another excuse to use those cute little pie pans! And I miss pie.
  4. Mini paleo fruit cobblers and crumbles. And yet another reason to use them.
  5. Paleo bread. I have been craving tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. I need a paleo bread recipe so I can have the sandwich. And, then I can make other things, such as French toast. Yum.
  6. Paleo English muffins. Maybe I’ll make breakfast sandwiches. Not sure yet.
  7. Paleo pasta. Because, well, I miss pasta sometimes.

What new things do you want to learn to make?

Shannon

$1.99 Sale on eCookBooks + A Freebie

Hello everyone. I’m sure you’re all as busy as I am with holiday activities and spending time with loved ones. I have a shopping trip coming up with Skye, and a Light Up the Night holiday date with Zowie’s family.

Just wanted to be sure you knew about the eCookBooks being only $1.99 right now.

And enjoy a freebie!

Frugal Ways to Save Money in the Kitchen + Frugal Recipes for the Health Conscious

Happy Holidays!

Shannon

Frugal Recipes Happenings ~ Autumn 2018

Happy Autumn! It is my favorite time of year. Last night, Zowie and Devan brought my grandchildren for a Halloween visit. Little Man was a witch, and Little Miss a pumpkin. I made up treat bags for Little Man and his parents, and gave Little Miss (almost four months old!) a little stuffed witch. Before they got there, I watched old episodes of The Adam’s Family. Then, while they were there I played Double, Double, Toil and Trouble – the girls and I used to watch that when they were young. When they left, I watched Stephen King’s Sometimes They Come Back, and ate peanut butter cups. And I went to bed early. Not the grandest of Halloweens, but I was exhausted. How was your Halloween?

I’m so over horror movies for the year, probably since I’ve been watching them since the first of September, haha. I am still enjoying Riverdale, though, and started watching the new Charmed, and Legacies. During October I also enjoyed watching The Chilling Adventures of SabrinaCastle Rock, and The Haunting of Hill House.

I love the chilliness in the air, watching the leaves change, the smell of the changing season, and I love to do more cooking this time of year: Pineapple  -keilbasa soup, harvest salad, chili, and more. And I drink more chai tea. Yum!

I’m very excited about Thanksgiving. Well, our early Thanksgiving celebration that Zowie is putting on for the family. We are using the community building where she lives, and my sister and I have both offered to go early and start the meal while Zowie works. Sheila has some foods she’ll be making, and I’m in charge of making cheesecakes. My daughter Skye, and her boyfriend Ryan, will be supplying some alcohol for the get-together, but no one will be drinking much.

What are you doing for Thanksgiving? Since I live alone, I no longer make an entire meal on the big day. Also, I’m usually working. But I do like to cook something to celebrate. I wanted to share a few recipes with you:

If I were going to make an entire Thanksgiving meal on my own, and if I had a real freezer and not just a dorm size fridge in the room I rent, I would plan for leftovers to have over the next couple of months. These recipes utilize Thanksgiving leftovers:

Enjoy the rest of autumn, time with family, and the delicious tastes of autumn.

Love and Light,

Shannon

Happy November & December! <3

Hello Everyone!

I wanted to check in with everyone, to see how you are doing and to let you know that I am taking a couple of months off from blogging and many of my other writing activities.

In November, I’ll be publishing my last fiction story of the year. I’ll also spend the next couple of months finishing up things from the 2018 to-do lists (a lot is behind-the-scenes blog stuff that I’ve been putting off), and spending time with family and friends. I may even be able to attend the Christmas Eve party my family throws, as I seem to have that night off from The Inn (so rare!).

And I’ll be planning. New material for the coming year! New goals and things to try. Fresh recipes and maybe some tricks to help you in the kitchen. I might even provide some downloadables for you.

I want each of you to enjoy the holiday season, and I’ll be back next year! And spend some time relaxing and taking care of you.

Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Yule! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

Warmest Wishes & Brightest Blessings,

Shannon

Frugal Recipes Happenings ~ Summer 2018

Happy Summer! The nicer days make me so happy 🙂 How about you? Skye and her boyfriend and I have been taking advantage of restaurants where we can sit outside and eat. It’s been a real culinary adventure.

I’ve tried a few new places since Skye moved back home last fall, starting with the our lunch at Paddy Murphy’s. I enjoyed a wonderful plate of ravioli with a delicious butternut squash sauce and topped with grilled shrimp; a recipe I would love to replicate. This came with toast. We also visit Bagel Central and 98 Wake and Shake whenever we are downtown. And we’ve been to Nicky’s Diner with mom. They have amazing prices. You get a lot of food for what you pay.

Skye’s boyfriend took us out for lunch a couple of times as well. We sat outside at both. At the Seadog Brewing Co. we got to sit near the river. I had pasta in a garlic butter sauce, topped with shrimp, scallops, and muscles. When we visited Timber Kitchen & Bar, I enjoyed haddock and spiced fries, as well as a Honey Badger Mojito. Yum!

My grandson is turning three, and I visited with him and parents recently. We took him to his first theater movie. Smitty’s is unusual in that the theater houses tables and chairs, and they serve your meal while you are watching the movie. They make a good chicken quesadilla. Were hopeful Zowie and Devan will be able to move closer to home with him and his sister in August. Then I will have a little cooking buddy!

I intend to further enjoy new restaurants and different foods throughout the summer.

As for food at home, I’ve been eating lighter fare. Quick, easy to make meals. I’m hoping to shed some of these extra pounds, but I also just don’t like to eat heavier foods as much as I do in the winter. My grocery shopping trip for the coming week netted burger patties and lots of fruits and veggies. Other than cheese for the burgers and some almond/cashew milk, that’s all I bought. Not even buns for the burgers. I thought, instead, I’d have the patties over greens and top them with pickles. I had shrimp last week, and scallops the week before, both with lots of vegetables.

I’m going to have picnics in the park, down by the river, this year. Next week I’m planning to get a sandwich and drink from Harvest Moon Deli and sit down there to relax and enjoy being outdoors. I have a coupon for a free sandwich that I will utilize.

Have you seen these blog posts?

Smoothies are great for summer. I’m planning to have a few this week. They are a good way to extra nutrients into your system.

I hope you enjoy your summer! I’d love to hear about recipes you enjoy at this time of year, and the food celebrations you will be hosting and/or attending.

Shannon

shannonlbuck@gmail.com

 

Busy Cooks Guide to Easy Meal Prep

I know what it’s like, being so busy you don’t have time to prepare healthy meals and snacks at home. Things get crazy-busy sometimes, and there does not seem like enough time to do all that we have to do.

But there are things that will help to make meal prep easy during the busier times life will throw at you, and I want to share with you what tactics I use to create quick, easy meals when life is too hectic.

Spend an afternoon preparing

If you have a few hours, it’s a good idea to prepare some things in advance. Here are a few things I do, depending on the time of year:

  • Make tortilla wraps and place them in the refrigerator between sheets of parchment paper. I find a recipe online for Paleo wraps, and use that.
  • Wash and cut up vegetables. Store in containers in the refrigerator. Use ends and greens when making stock.
  • Place fruit in bowls to grab when you want a snack or are in a hurry.
  • Prepare lunches for work or school so you can easily grab them before leaving.
  • Make a vegetable stock and store it in the refrigerator for use during the week. Any extra can go into the freezer. Use ends and greens, as well as any leftover vegetables that won’t get eaten fresh.
  • Roast a chicken, then cut it up into serving sizes and refrigerate. Freeze what you wont use in the next four days.
  • Make chocolate sauce and store in canning jars in the refrigerator. Use this with fresh fruit if you are wanting a dessert-type item.
  • Make energy balls and store three to a small container.

Buy frozen seafood

I like to check out the frozen seafood section to see what I might be able to use for meals during the week. Scallops and shrimp are easy to prepare, and can be used in many food combinations.

This week I found bags of raw, peeled, deveined, tail-on shrimp for $5.00, so I picked one up. I’ll keep it in the freezer, and take some out whenever I want to make a dish.

What will I use the shrimp for? Any number of things, including:

Make a soup

Soups are a wonderful way to add vegetables to your menu. Just throw the ingredients in a pot on the stove – or in a crock – and cook at the beginning of the week. This could be done on a prep day.

My best friend will cook up a huge pot all at once, and I just love my chicken and vegetable soup and my sausage and pineapple one.

I put servings of soup in small canning jars after they’ve cooled some, and place those in the refrigerator. They are easy to warm when you are short on time, and taste great.

Know what fruits can be stored near each other

A few medium size mixing or fruit bowls will hold a lot of fruit. Place citrus vegetables in one, apples and pears in another, and bananas and grapes in the third. One can be used as a centerpiece at the table, and the other two can be placed at either end of the counter.

School and work lunches

I usually put these together during a prep day, because I’m already doing related tasks. All I’m really doing is packing things up a little differently than in spend an afternoon preparing above.

I have a shelf specifically for work meal items, and organize the containers and other items in a way that makes things easy to grab. I work 5 shifts in four days, and will bring everything I put together on the first day.

While cutting up vegetables, I’ll have five containers reserved for work. Into each of those, I’ll put a few servings of vegetables, a few cut up berries or some grapes, and a serving of meat, unless the meat will be in soup form. In that case, the soups are already packaged as individual servings.

If I will be having wraps, I’ll also store the wraps separately.

Much of the time, to make things easy, I’ll have the same foods for all five meals, switching out different fruits or snacks. Having packets of dark chocolate covered blueberries and cherries helps with this, as does having some energy balls on hand.

Easy meal combo’s utilizing raw vegetables include:

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced strawberries, sugar snap peas in pods, broccoli, carrots, celery, and a small amount of nut butter
  • rice, seasoned ground beef, diced tomato, corn, grapes
  • turkey slices, roasted sweet potato, mashed squash, peas, cranberries
  • veggie wraps, shrimp scampi on the side (to be added to the wrap later), strawberry slices
  • sausage and pineapple soup, carrot sticks, celery with nut butter, cherries

Quick breakfast ideas

While a box of cereal is the ultimate in quickness during our busy mornings, those types of boxed, processed things are not exactly the healthiest of choices. I like to make my own cereal, and it takes less time than making pancakes. Here are a few of may favorites:

Another ideas is to make a batch of Paleo granola to use as cereal during busy mornings. Add half a cup to a bowl, top with fruit and organic, unsweetened coconut, and add nut milk.

Quick snack ideas

Parfaits are an easy snack, and can be refrigerated overnight. Make a couple up during prep day for a quick, easy snack later and the next day. A few options include:

Trail mixes are another great snack option, and can be made up in advance and used throughout the coming week or so. Stored little canning jars, they will be easy to grab.

Quick lunches and dinners

If you have the components from spend and afternoon preparing above, you probably already have the components for a few meals. Buy frozen seafood and make a soup offer other ideas. Here are some more that can be made ahead and warmed later, or made quickly the day you want them:

*****

With practice, meal prep days will go more quickly and you might choose to make more options on that day.

What do you do to keep it healthy during the busiest of times?

Shannon

 

 

 

Quick Tip: The Pesky Smoke Detector!

I hate having a smoke detector in the kitchen, but they are supposed to be there – or at least real close. It’s so irritating when you’re not even burning food and the thing has to go off. I think it has just as much to do with heat as with smoke.

So here is my quick tip:

Point a fan toward the smoke detector whenever you bake or cook,

plug it in, and turn it on.

It works for me.

Bonus tip: Set the fan up in a location where it can stay, plug it in, and keep it at the ready. It does not need to be a large fan.

Happy cooking!

Shannon

Dirty Dozen & Clean 15, And Me

I assume since you are here, you’re trying to eat healthy/ier, as I am. Each year I read the Environmental Working Groups Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list to see where things stand. I always hope for the best, and I’m always dismayed at the amount of pesticides in our food.

Today was no different. I had the opportunity to sit down and read the article, and take a look at the study. I updated my lists in the Memo section of my phone (so I have them when I’m shopping), and was reminding of how much I want to live in a place where I can grow my food. I’m hoping my parents actually get back into this after my step-father retires. It’s been a couple of years since they’ve done their garden, but I’m guessing they’ll be back at it next spring. Or hoping.

What does this mean for me? I have to be careful of:

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach (I eat a lot of this!)
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Cherries
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery

I eat a lot of those foods. The others on the list aren’t eaten often, but I will have to keep them in mind so I am prepared. I’ve listed all 12 on my Yuck! list in my phone, and all the Clean 15 on my Yum! list. I’m so excited to have avocado, pineapple, and cabbage on my Yum! list, as well as honey-dew and cantaloupe. I hate that I have to spend more to get the organic versions of the other items I want. I can’t always afford to, but I try to when possible.

Are you changing the way you eat to accommodate these lists? Let us know how in the comments.

Happy spring!

Shannon