Thursday, March 29, 2012

Baby Swiss Monte Cristo Panini Recipe

This is a guest post by Elana Birnbaum.

If you’re looking for a unique sandwich that’s sure to be a delicious delight, consider making a Baby Swiss Monte Cristo Panini with Black Pepper Strawberry Jam.

Yes, it’s a mouthful and a yummy one at that.

To make this tasty Panini you will need 12 slices of either egg or challah bread and some deli meats and cheeses including 12 slices of Baby Swiss Cheese (it has a milder flavor than standard Swiss), 12 ounces of sliced maple or honey glazed turkey breast and 12 ounces of sliced black forest ham.

You will also need 2 cups of sliced fresh strawberries, ½ a cup of sugar, 1 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar, ½ a tsp. of freshly ground black pepper, 2 large eggs and ¼ cup of milk. You can also choose to add powdered sugar.

This interesting, sweet deli style sandwich is especially special due to the strawberry jam.

To make the jam, combine your strawberries, sugar, vinegar and pepper in a medium saucepan. Bring this mix to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat and simmer your mixture uncovered until it is thickened. This will take about 15 minutes. Remove the mix from the heat and transfer it to a small bowl and refrigerate it for 30 minutes or until serving time. This will give your jam its jelly-like consistency.

To make the sandwiches, place 6 slices of cheese over 6 slices of bread and top with turkey, ham and the remaining cheese.

Finally, close the sandwiches with your remaining bread.

To make your bread panini perfect, beat together eggs and milk in a pie plate. Dip each sandwich lightly in your egg mixture and turn the sandwich to coat each side. Make sure this is just a thin coat, do not soak the sandwiches in this mixture. Cook your sandwiches in a preheated nonstick panini maker for about three minutes or until your bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted.

To complete the dish, just serve with your black pepper strawberry jam and dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

Enjoy your deliciously sweet panini!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 2012 ~ Week of March 26th

Wow!  I cannot believe this is the last week of March already!  I've really been a bad menu planner and even worse blogger this entire month! 

The nice weather is to blame!  Really, it is!  I have Spring Fever!  Grace and I have been spending a lot of time outside enjoying the warm sun and of course playing with all of her outdoor toys that have been neglected all winter long! 

LOL!  I just looked back at those 2 paragraphs.  That's a whole lot of exclaimation marks!  Can you tell we're excited that Spring is here?  Maybe, just a little? 

In the moments that weren't outside, I've been working on my Spring Cleaning Decluttering Challenge.  If you read my blog, then you already know that I've challenged myself to removing 500 items from my home during the month of March.  So far, I'm doing pretty good!  (You can read the original post here, and also Update #1 and Update #2.  Update #3 coming up soon!) 

Although, I've been away from the blog and menu planning, I have been feeding my family.  It's mostly been quick meals from the freezer or I've cooked one meal and we ate it for almost a week.  Not very impressive, but sometimes I just need a break. 

This week, I'm ready to be put back on a schedule.  Although, I'll be sticking to some tried-and-true recipes rather than attempting something new.  I'm not quite ready for something new!  I feel like it's the first day back to work after a long vacation! 

So, here's my tried-and-true menu for this week: 

  • Chili and rice.  A couple of weeks ago, I made a big pot of chili and froze 1/2 of the batch.  Perfect for a quick meal.  We love our chili served over white rice.  It's not only tasty, but also helps stretch a pot of chili for several meals!  (With how often we have chili, I can't believe I never took a photo!) 
  • Chicken Pot Pie.  Even though Spring is here, I'm not entirely ready to give up my winter comfort foods!  I figure we'll still be eating soups, stews and pot pies for several more weeks!  After that, we'll be into summer barbecue type meals. 
  • Easy Beef Stew.  This stew can be made in either the oven or the crock pot.  Both are slow-cooking methods and will need to be started early in the day.  Depending on how I feel in the morning will determine how this stew will be prepared. 
  • Tuna Noodle Casserole.  Fridays during lent mean no meat for my family.  Sometimes that means pizza, sometimes the vegetarian options from our local Chinese take-out.  But more often than not, it means either grilled cheese sandwiches or Tuna Noodle Casserole.  I'm a little tired of sandwiches and it's been a few weeks since we've enjoyed the the casserole wins out for this week's menu! 
  • Porcupine Meatballs.  I've been wanting to make these meatballs again ever since making them for the first time several weeks ago.  I'm pretty sure I have all of the ingredients on hand for this meal.  I even have ground beef in the freezer! 

  • Leftovers.  If our weekend is anything like the past several weekends, I won't have much time for cooking.  I'll be very thankful for leftovers after running errands this weekend! 

That's what we're eating this week.  I'd love to hear what you'll be serving your family...let me know in the comments! 

If you're looking for more menu planning ideas, you can check out my past menus or follow me over to Menu Plan Monday to see many more menu plans and dinner ideas! 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring Cleaning Decluttering Challenge: Update #2

I wanted to get this post written up earlier today, but I had a bit of a mishap this morning.  While carrying my 35 lb Boston Terrier, I tripped while climbing over a baby gate.  Me, the dog and the gate went toppling over and hit the floor.  The way I landed, I'm really surprised I didn't break any bones, but I sure was sore and my leg a bit swollen. 

I spent most of the day with my leg propped up trying to keep the swelling down!  After getting Grace down for a nap, I decided that I'd better get some cleaning done, because I know that tomorrow I will feel much worse and be pretty much useless around the house! 

So, both my body and my pride are hurting right now and as soon as I'm finished with this post, I'll be heading to bed with a heating pad! 

Here's Update #2 of my Spring Cleaning Decluttering Challenge! 

Last week, I boxed up another 100 items to donate to the local thrift shop!  Although, we had a very busy schedule last weekend so the box is still in the garage waiting to be packed into the truck to be dropped off along with the stuff from this week.  I'm not quite finished packing up that box, but more on that in next week's update! 

I will admit, that it's getting more difficult to part with things.  I find it much easier to spend an hour or two in the basement sorting through boxes and piles of clutter and gathering my donation items all at once. 

I noticed that if I grab a few items here and there and place them into the box throughout the week, that I second-guess myself.  I'll notice something in the donate pile and wonder if I really want to get rid of it.  Like a true hoarder, I try to convince myself that I'll need it some day.  Yeah, that's why it's been un-used and un-wanted for the past 4 years.

Last week, I worked on my sale listings utilizing the local ONLINE yard sale groups on Facebook.  I've been doing really gathering some of Grace's outgrown clothing and selling them to other moms.  This will help me pay for Grace's spring/summer wardrobe. 

The tricky part to these online sales is to not spend more than you are earning!  :)  Right now, I'm about breaking even!  More about that on another post! 

I hope you are all having a great week! 

Leave a comment and let me know what you are doing to declutter your home this spring! 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

My Spring Cleaning Decluttering Challenge: Update #1

Last week, I told you all about my spring cleaning decluttering challenge.  Since that post, my main focus has been ridding my house of 100 items that are no longer used, needed or even wanted.  It has become an obsession! 

The first week of my challenge went really well!  I started by setting up a series of boxes.  One for donating, one for keeping and one for selling.  I also made sure to keep a large trash can handy! 

I'm pleased to say that I was able to box up 100 items to be donated to the local thrift shop!  Two boxes worth of items!  It felt so good to load those boxes into the back of the truck on Monday morning!

I also managed to sell a bunch of stuff online.  If you haven't heard about Facebook Yard Sales yet, I suggest you check them out!  My friend Lisa told me about Facebook Yard Sales in her area and recommended that I try to find local ONLINE yard sales in my area.  I'm so glad I did!  After staying up late a few nights last week, listing a few things each night, I was able to sell 15 items and have several sales pending.  It's a lot of work, but the extra cash will go towards some of our summer activities. 

I must say, this is a big project!  Bigger than I thought it would be!  115 items really didn't make a dent in the mess that is called my basement. 

Be sure to check back next week for another update on my spring cleaning decluttering challenge! 

Friday, March 2, 2012

***giveaway closed***Just a few hours left to enter the V8 V-Fusion Giveaway!

Hello, everyone! 

I have a confession to make.  I screwed up the deadline date for entries for the V8 V-Fusion Smoothie Giveaway.  I stated that the deadline was FRIDAY, March 1st.  But that can't be, since yesterday was March 1st.  Because of the mix-up with the dates, I'm allowing entries up until 11:59 tonight.

So, if you didn't enter yet...there's still a little time!  Just head over to THE GIVEAWAY POST, to find out how to enter! 

Psst! Just in case you didn't know, the prize pack includes a Vera Bradley tote bag! 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Spring Cleaning Decluttering Challenge

Some of you may have noticed that I haven't mentioned weightloss in a while.  Well, that's because I haven't been doing much to in the way of trying to lose weight.  It's been an on-going battle within myself to behave myself by eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep.  Since it's been such a struggle, I've been moody and depressed because I feel as if I'm failing....well, because that's what's happening.  I'm failing.  So, I put the entire concept on the back burner for a bit so I can focus on other things with a positive outlook! 

Other things, like decluttering this house! 

I recently read about this a "100 Things" Decluttering Challenge.  The author of the article shares how they declutter their home from time to time, using a "100 things" method.  By spending a weekend sorting through some stuff around the house and vowing to get 100 items out of the house in some way! 

I LOVE this idea! 

With spring on the way, I've been feeling antsy to do some spring cleaning.  We have a variety of problem areas that seem to attract the most junk and I am challenging myself to work on 2 of those clutter magnets! 

Our basement is the black hole for clutter.  Stuff gets tossed down to the basement to be dealt with at a later time and since it's out of sight, it's usually out of mind.  That is, until every time I do a load of laundry (our washer and dryer are in our un-finished basement) and I have to climb over some neglected pile of junk that was left there. 

The second problem spot that I want to tackle is our spare bedroom.  I want to move Grace's bed into that room and use her current bedroom as her playroom.  But none of that is going to happen as long as the room is full of junk (piles books, paperwork waiting to be filed, off season clothing, or clothing that no longer fits).  The room needs to be cleared out so we can paint, install shelves to the closet and get her bed set up in there. 

To rid our home of 100 things, I'll be sorting through items in both of those problem spots.  I've set up a box to place all items we wish to donate to our local charity shop, a box for items that I'd like to sell, and another box for items I'll pass along to other family members.  I've also got a large trash can just waiting to be filled to the brim of items not worthy of passing along to anyone else. 

So, for the entire month of March, I plan on eliminating clutter from our lives.  100 items per week for 5 weeks or until the clutter is gone...whichever comes first! 

500 items in a month might sound like a lot, but I've already started sorting through some items to sell (more about that in another post) and already have 32 items in my "sell pile"!  I've also started a donate pile but haven't counted those items yet. 

Someone once told me that a cluttered life can contribute to weight problems, so I'm hoping that decluttering my house will help me wrap my brain around this whole weight loss issue once and for all. 

Since I'm currently not driving, Joe is going to have to help out with getting this stuff out of the house.  We'll plan to drop off items to the charity shop on his days off.  Some weeks, the items may not actually get to the shop, but will at least be boxed up and ready to be on their way! 

Check back next Thursday to see how the first week of my challenge has gone!  Or if you like, join me in the "100 Things Challenge"! 

I'll be linking this post to the following blog carnivals and linky parties: 
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