Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Day One:The “What’s for Dinner? " Solution Blogger Project

Often, I either receive emails, or hear of opportunities, from authors or companies asking if I will review and endorse their product. A couple years ago, I heard of Kathi Lipp from her agent who posted the question on Twitter: Anyone interested in reviewing this book -- The Marriage Project.

I jumped all over the opportunity even though I didn't know what to expect. Since then, Kathi has written 2 more books (The Me Project and her latest, the What's for Dinner Solution).

I have enjoyed Kathi's books because she has a conversationalist style about her writing that has me quickly turning the pages to read more-and-more.

In her latest book, What's for Dinner Solution, I have to admit, I wasn't sure what she could teach me. According to the book's jacket cover, What's for Dinner Solution "provides a full-kitchen approach for getting dinner on the table every night. After putting her 21-day plan into action, women will:

- save time—with bulk shopping and cooking
- save money—no more last-minute phone calls to the delivery pizza place; and
- save their sanity—forget the last-minute scramble every night and know what they’re having for dinner.

The book includes real recipes from real women, a quick guide to planning meals for a month, the best shopping strategies for saving time and money, and tips on the best ways to use a slow cooker, freezer, and pantry. With Kathi’s book in hand, there’s no more need to hit the panic button."

Hmmmmm.... I was curious because I'm a person who shops by the flyer and uses coupons religiously. Hubby and I are on a tight budget and leftovers are not considered a dirty word in our home. But Kathi, asked if I'd be willing to take on her 5 day challenge. Translation: Not just read and review the book, but put it into action.

For 5 days, I am going to give you a breakdown of what hubby and I are eating this week (I should explain, I didn't menu plan until yesterday, but have started shutting down my computer on Mondays so I'm a day late on today's post). I will also take some pictures, remember to finally write down my brussel sprout recipe for a friend I've promised it to for over 2 years, and create a LOOP meal (Left Overs On Purpose) which, I have to admit, stumped me. Typically, we just cook more than enough and reheat the same meal for our next night's dinner(have I not mentioned, leftovers are loved in our home).

Another day I'm going to share some of my kitchen tips, favorite family meals (with pics) and share with you some of my favorite go-to gadgets. I also have to confess, I have been a big slacker with meal planning and cooking decent meals since the holidays and thought this was the push I needed to get back on track. [Note: I openly admit I learned 2 important things from my 1st marriage that I try to adhere to in my marriage to Bill. 1) Eat dinner together when possible at the dinner table, no t.v. on, background music and catch up day's events; and 2) try to go to bed together. - Sounds small, but trust me, it's not]

Oh yeah, at the end of this project, I will be sending one lucky reader, who wants one, a copy of the book (I'll be using random.org - so no clever comments are needed).

This Week's Menu:

Monday: Zitti with Browned Sausage, Broccoli Rabe and Hot Red Pepper Flakes. Because I doubled up on the broccoli rabe (one of hubby's favorites) I saw no need to make a salad or find a second veggie to serve with this. We served it with garlic bread.

Tuesday: Roasted Chicken, Roasted Potatoes and my Brussel Sprout recipe with bacon, onion, chicken stock and dried cranberries (I will be taking pictures and posting it tomorrow because I'm using the leftover chicken for Thursday's LOOP meal - chicken pot pie). The brussel sprout recipe is very tasty and, if my friend Poncho Girl reads AND comments that she wants this recipe, I'll finally take the time to write it out for her. No comment, no recipe.

Wednesday: Venison Osso Bucco. This is a family favorite (also my recipe). I will be serving it with mashed potatoes and creamed spinach (I looked in my freezer and saw an unusual amount of boxes of frozen creamed spinach, not sure why, but it's on the menu).

Thursday: Chicken Pot Pie. Recipe from "One Dish Meals" from the Culinary Institute of America with one minor change -- I use Pillsbury's Grand Biscuits as my topping for the individual pie's crusts. I can't be bothered with phyllo dough. Too much work and one biscuit rolled out covers one pie perfectly (the recipe and dishes I use, make 6 pot pies).

Friday: Pan Roasted Rosemary Pork Chops with a Dijon Mustard Sauce (making recipe up when I make it on Friday, but it'll have wine, onions and dijon mustard in it). I'll be serving with rice (Martha Stewart's recipe which is still my go-to recipe after making it a couple years back) and collard greens (not sure how I plan on cooking them yet).

Author Bio

Kathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker of The Husband Project: 21 Days to Loving Your Man—on Purpose and with a Plan, The Marriage Project: 21 Days to More Love and Laughter, and The Me Project: 21 Days to Living the Life You’ve Always Wanted. She is a frequent guest on Focus on the Family and dozens of other radio programs.

Church leaders and women’s ministry directors rely on Kathi to help women move from living out of obligation to enjoying godly passion. She speaks to thousands of women across the US and Canada every year.

Kathi and her husband, Roger, are the parents of four young adults and live in San Jose, California.

Friday, January 27, 2012

National Chocolate Cake Day.....

This post has absolutely no life-altering value to it other than to inform people it's National Chocolate Cake Day, and, allow me the chance to write about something utterly ridiculous.

Personally, I hate chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, but marvel at these new "National" days/months.

Did you know January was National Tea month? If you didn't, do you plan on rushing out to your local tea shop or grocery store and stock up? [If you do, please let me know. I'd love to know I can influence someone].

I have to admit, I am a tea drinker. Coffee isn't my thing, but because so many people do, I bet it gets multiple months, if not an entire year.

The thing about these 'national' days for random items is that I want to know who gets to declare January 27th as National Chocolate Cake Day? Why do I want to know? Because I want that power (especially, if you get paid to make such declarations).

I'd also love to have the job where I get to name lipsticks, paint colors and be the person at OPI that comes up with their great nail polish names. Does anyone know how I score this type of job? I've love to know.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Titles Without Substance.....

Yesterday, I met a friend of mine for lunch who I haven't seen in quite some time. She started with a new company and has been adjusting to the new job and the new culture of the company. It's an unique culture -- some of it very good and not seen in many companies today. They hold people accountable and believe in letting their employees question decisions other employees make no matter their title.

Personally, I find that attitude somewhat refreshing. Yes, it may put some people on the defensive mode when answering a question, but it's good when people can articulate why they have done something as it opens a discussion to teach others or have others offer advice which may change the way you do things.

Over the years, I've worked for both start-ups and large corporations. The 'team' mentality has been shoved down my throat so far, I remember telling the CEO of a start-up I had screwed up and he corrected me and said "we screwed up, there is no 'I' in team". I politely corrected him and said "I'm sorry, I disagree. I believe in bettering the team, but in order to have our team be successful, I need to accept the accountability of the problem I created so we can solve the situation."

As the years went on, I witnessed companies where employees bought their clothes at the teflon store. Nothing ever stuck to them. No one ever created a problem, said the wrong thing, they just finger pointed. It's frustrating.

Maybe I also enjoy the philosophy of my friend's company because often people are given titles/positions they are not ready for. Don't get me wrong, I do believe every job has a learning curve. I believe in promoting within, but also believe people should be promoted because they are capable of handling the position and bring something to it. I guess I believe in people paying their dues.

A company where co-workers question your choices would easily weed out the employees who aren't qualified for the position. I recently asked someone a straight forward question about their position and what they were doing to improve a situation. I was looking for their solution to the problem and was told "we want to work smarter not harder".


Any seasoned professional would understand this is a given when creating a solution, and know this is not an answer and to NEVER include this phrasing when answering a direct question (although, I'm guessing you might include this phrasing if you're in politics).

I wonder how quickly this person would crumble at my friend's company? They'd probably be eaten alive.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Winner of My First Giveaway of 2012.......

The winner of my first giveaway of 2012 is Dan Jones!

Dan, your comment cracked me up and I will be forwarding your name and address to the publishing to receive your copy of Everyday Happy Herbivore!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My First Giveaway of 2012

In my last post I interviewed Lindsay Nixon, author of the vegan cookbook, Everyday Happy Herbivore. As a person who never thought of going vegan until December 2010, I really find Lindsay's cookbooks friendly for the everyday meat-eater to make the transition to a plant-based diet easy.

After my post, I was excited when I received an email from BenBella Books offering me the opportunity to giveaway the Everyday Happy Herbivore to one of my readers who live in the U.S. or Canada.

So here's how I'm running the contest. Leave me a comment telling me why you think you should win this cookbook. I'll run this contest until January 20th and the most creative comment (you can leave one message per day) will win.

I know, I know, many people run a contest by using random.org to generate a winner, but I want to read some fun, creative comments.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this Chocolate Mug Cake recipe:

Chocolate Mug Cake | serves 1

Chocolate cake? check. Single-Serving? check. Made nearly instantly? Oh yeah! This whole-wheat chocolate cake goes from flour to in your mouth in under 5 minutes.

4 tbsp white whole wheat flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp nondairy milk
¼+ cup unsweetened applesauce
vanilla extract
dash cinnamon
2-3 tbsp vegan chocolate chips

In a small bowl, whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and cinnamon together, set aside. For a really sweet cake, add more sugar. In another small bowl, whisk ¼ cup applesauce, nondairy milk, and a drop or two of vanilla extract together. Pour wet into dry, then add chips, stirring to combine. Add another 1-2 tbsp of applesauce, until the batter is wet and resembles regular cake batter. Pour batter into a coffee cup, and microwave for three minutes (at 1000 watts).

Lindsay S. Nixon is a rising star in the culinary world, praised for her ability to use everyday ingredients to create healthy, low fat recipes that taste just as delicious as they are nutritious. Lindsay's recipes have been featured in Vegetarian Times, Women's Health Magazine and on The Huffington Post. Lindsay is also a consulting chef at La Samanna, a luxury resort and four-star restaurant in the French West Indies. You can learn more about Lindsay and sample some of her recipes at Happy Herbivore.