Tuesday, December 31, 2013

100 Nights of Dinner at Home: Sample Menu by Week

Stay tuned to this post for our family's sample menu.  I will do a week by week list and add links if I use a recipe or can find one similar to the ones I use.  It will be updated as we go so you can get ideas if you need them! 

January 1-5, 2014
To make these first two weeks easy, I'm pulling straight from my Pinterest Boards!
January 6-12, 2014
The Following Meal Plan ideas were submitted by Jaime Margiotta.  A sweet friend, a great mom and a soon-to-be fabulous nurse with a busy busy schedule! She has committed to 5 nights a week with her husband and two boys in Austin Texas!!!  I love how she scheduled in date night and birthdays :) Thank you Jaime for the Menu!

January 1, 2014 - Pan fried pork cops (paper thin & thick bone-in), Mashed Potatoes & Cole Slaw - all from scratch!
January 2, 2014 - Grass Fed Beef Cheeseburgers on homemade Pretzel buns, tater tots and fresh cut-up veggies (celery, carrots, tomatoes & cucumbers) Here is a link to the pretzel buns, they are awesome! 
January 3, 2014 - Mighty Cones THESE ARE AMAAAAAZING!  Definitely worth all of the effort on these! 
January 4, 2014 - Date night
January 5, 2014 - My father in laws birthday - his dinner choice is P.F. Changs!  Yummmm
January 6, 2014 - Chicken Parmesan, noodles & cut up fresh veggies
January 7, 2014 - Sub Sandwiches, chips and corn
January 8, 2014 - Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas, rice & beans -
January 9, 2014 - Mac & Cheese with broccoli
January 10, 2014 - Spaghetti & Meatballs, salad & garlic bread
January 11, 2014 - Taking the kids out to dinner
January 12, 2014 - Stir Fry & Rice
January 13, 2014 - Crock Pot chicken noodle soup
January 14, 2014 - Bean  & Cheese burritos with rice
January 15, 2014 - Sloppy Joes, homemade fries, cut veggies
January 16, 2014 - Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole
January 17, 2014 - Homemade Tacos with fired corn tortillas, refried beans & Mexican rice
January 18, 2014 - Date Night

January 13-19, 2014
  • Shrimp Ramen and Potstickers
  • Mediterranean Chicken with lemon pasta and broccoli
  • Pork Chops with Lemon Cilantro Quinoa and Greenbeans
  • Sour Cream Noodle Bake
  • Beef Pot Roast with Potatoes and Veggies
  • Broccoli Cheese Soup
  • Broiled Salmon
January 20-26, 2014

January 27-February 2

February 3-9, 2014
February 10-16, 2014

Monday, December 30, 2013

100 Nights of Dinner at Home: Meal Planning Basics

It's easy right?  Well, sort of.  After many years of doing this challenge I have learned one thing and it's a quote, I heard on a cooking show.
"Good intentions are not enough, they have yet to put the onion in the soup!"
So let's get organized and started. First you need to find out what you should eat during this 100 night challenge.  Who better to turn to than the people who love you most (ahem, that would be your FAMILY).
Get a pen and pencil, gather the family and make a list of their favorite recipes.  This one is easy! 100 recipes. Not that you will use every one of them - you will probably eat pizza more than once ;)  Want to get even more organized?  This is how we organize our favorites list.

Fast: Pizza, potstickers, stir fry, spaghetti, chili mac, Tacos, breakfast, fish tacos, meatloaf logs, burgers, BLT's, fried rice, sandwiches, chef salad, leftovers...

Slow Cooker/or advanced prep: pot roast, pulled pork, sweet and sour meatballs, chicken soup, pot pies...

Chicken favorites: BBQ, Enchiladas, chicken cordon blue, fried chicken, baked chicken, lemon chicken...

Meatless: Eggplant Parm, tofu burgers, stuffed peppers...

and also:

Sides etc: rice, refried beans, mac n cheese, mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, rice pilaf, sweet potato fries....

You can also organize by themes or ethinic styles like Chinese, American, Italian etc.

Now you have a nice list of things that your family would like to eat.  Remember, the challenge does not mean that you have to be miserable.  If you have discussed throwing in one meal a week that is "different" make sure you can mostly agree on what you want to make.  For instance, my husband doesn't really enjoy our meatless dinners.  So, I usually cook those when I know he will not be joining us for dinner. But, if he does happen to be willing to go without meat - we come up with something that he likes, like burgers and we use lots of secret sauce to cover up the taste of the tofu ( and then we laugh at his yuck faces LOL! )

The second part of the exercise is to grab a calendar.  This can be on your phone, a real paper calendar, computer, anything that gives you at least 100 days or more so you can log your start and end date.  This year is 2014 so we will be doing this challenge from January 1st to April 10th.  Remember, in the Introduction if you slip up - you add a night to the end.  Guaranteed, we will be adding a night or two (or three).

Next, the third step is to get a pencil (with an eraser) and organize your list by week - 100 nights is about 14 weeks plus a couple of days. Now, you can use your phone, a paper calendar, a white board etc.. But, you don't have to re-invent the wheel.  A quick google search for a meal planning calendar will give you lots of downloadable calendars.  I love this colorful one from Domestic8d.  It includes breakfast and lunch, but I just put dinner and sides in the box.  I print them front and back so I have two weeks worth of shopping info in my hands at once.
Now with your calendars you can mark any holidays that your family celebrates, it's easy to start there because you can explore theme Weeks.  Don't forget to mark any known out of town, vacation or other days.  Typically for our family holidays include: New Year's Day, My Birthday, Valentine's Day,  St. Patty's Day, and possibly Easter.  We make themes around these holidays just for fun!
Grab that list you made with your family and start spreading them out through your calendar.  You can put the fast meals on days your son has practice or crock pot meals on days you typically have meetings.  Think ahead where you can.

Now to complete your calendar, you can search for recipes. Ask your friends, look in cookbooks and magazines, follow my 100 Nights Pinterest Board or my other recipe Pinterest Board.  Don't forget to save tag, bookmark or otherwise file away your recipes - marking the location in your calendar helps stay organized!

Make your grocery lists for the items you don't already have in your pantry according to the menu items.  Eventually you will need to replenish your stocked items too.  It's best to do it as needed so you don't have a double grocery bill!
Here's a little dose of real life straight from my family.

It's Thursday and momma is dead tired. We have baked chicken with veggies and potatoes on the calendar. I have to defrost the chicken, cut it up, wash and chop the veggies... Forget it. Inside I know that I need a break, but I don't want to waste a "cheat" night on drive thru!!!! We like to save the cheats for something awesome like sit down dinner at our fav Chinese place after an awesomely fun day out with the family.  What is a mom to do???
Dig out the frozen pizza, open that backup bag of salad and just get through the night.  I know lots of people will have frozen pizza on their lists already anyway - but you get the idea - dig out something and just heat it up.  This is a good night for leftovers, breakfast, cereal, soup, sandwiches etc...that's why you checked out that Post of the Basics. 
No one said you couldn't have leftovers, prepackaged dinners, etc. You don't have to be miserable, it should be a challenge you look forward to.

And I'll let you in on a little secret, if you get through 100 nights or at least come close - you will have an awesome drive to continue - it's a habit now!!
Take a deep breath, set aside a couple of hours and start your journey!


100 Nights of Dinner at Home: The Basics

The Basics, a list of the things you could stock in your pantry to make your 100 nights of dinner a little bit easier.  You probably already have some of this stuff so it shouldn't be too hard to fill in the gaps.  Everything depends on How you eat/what you eat/and your personal tastes.  I'm giving samples of the items I keep stocked in my kitchen and yours may be different, but you get the idea.  My family eats as little processed food and as much organic/home made as possible and we can our own food.  I know this is not possible for everyone, but I do encourage everyone to strive for whole foods for your family meals.  100 nights pertains mainly to dinner, but other meals are encouraged as well!

In the Pantry:
  • Spices: basics include Salt, Pepper, Garlic powder, Onion powder, seasoned salt (you know, Lawrys), basil, Italian Seasoning.  Will get you through almost every recipe.
  • Dry Goods/Snacks: Rice, Lentils, dry beans, Spaghetti Noodles, Rotini, Lasagna Noodles, Linguini, shells, elbows, egg noodles, soba (ramen) noodles, rice noodles, favorite cereals, oatmeal, cornmeal, flour, sugar, breadcrumbs, mashed potatoes/dried potatoes, potato chips, tortillas chips etc... 
  • Canned Goods: Corn, Green Beans, Peas, mixed veggies, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, coconut milk, tuna, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, black beans, refried beans, baked beans, olives, cans of soup (including "cream of" if you are into that), Chicken stock, beef stock
  • Dry packets: Chili mix, dry gravy mix, onion soup mix, specialty dry mixes like curries.
  • Condiments: Ketchup, Mustard, Spicy mustard, Pickle Relish, Jelly, soy sauce, chili sauce, hoisin sauce, mayonnaise, prepared garlic
  • Jar goods: Spaghetti sauce, hot sauce, taco sauce, Alfredo sauce, peanut butter, applesauce
  • Oil: Olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, Grapeseed oil, Vegetable oil.

  • Dairy or the like: Milk, Cheese (block, shredded, sliced), Greek Yogurt, cream cheese, butter
  • Meat/Eggs/or alternatives: Lunch meat, Eggs, tofu
  • Veggies: carrots, celery, parsley, onions, garlic, lettuce, seasonal veggies: kale/mustard greens etc., green onions, ginger, potatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, green beans, peppers
  • Fruit: Apples, bananas, berries, other seasonal fruits, oranges, lemons and limes, avocados, tomatoes
  • Breads: Sandwich bread, flour tortillas, corn tortillas, bagels, buns

  • frozen burger pattys, Italian sausage, Ground Beef/pork/chicken/turkey, fish, vegetables, chicken breasts, pork chops and roasts, beef steaks and roasts, prepared foods like pizza dough, ravioli, potstickers for fast easy meals.  Leave room to freeze left overs!
If you have any additions or suggestions, please let me know.  I'm happy to add essentials that I have left out!

Next Post: Meal Planning Basics

Sunday, December 29, 2013

100 Nights of Dinner at Home: Introduction

It's a new year and do you know what that means for the PatsycakeBaby household?  It's our family tradition - a new year resolution of sorts and it's called: 100 Nights of Dinner at Home.  Basically the title says it all - we eat dinner at home, every night for 100 nights in a row starting on New Year's Day. 
This year, I've decided to take on the challenge of blogging about this experience. Through the years so many of my friends and family have asked me to help them start this tradition with their families. So, I will make my best attempt to lead your family through this challenge!

So, here it goes - the first in a series of posts called: 100 Nights of Dinner at Home!


100 nights of dinner at home?
"I'm a very busy WAHM with two hungry kids and a very hungry husband. I barely have time to defrost ground beef."
HA! it's all in the planning.  I know there are families with lots more kids, lots more activities and maybe NO cooks willing to take on the challenge.  EXACTLY - a challenge, a resolution. Not just a personal resolution but a family resolution.

We do this for several reasons. We start on New Year's Day every year. After the crazy holidays and lots of junk food and eating out, it just makes sense to us.  We try to eat healthy and cut down on the budget a bit since feeding a family of four in a restaurant can be a crazy "waste" of money. We like to cook, and we love to gather as a family to eat, and that is probably the most important reason of all.

Yes, we are a health conscious family. 
Yes, we are (and have other) great cooks in our family. 
Yes, we have our own garden and home raised meat. 

But, that doesn't mean you can't follow along with your means whatever they are. 
Nobody said anything about only eating healthy - we just know it's overall healthier to eat at home as opposed to eating in restaurants. 
Nobody said anything about cheap - Have you seen the cost of groceries????
Nobody said anything about the police coming to arrest you if you cheat (LOL!)

Can you follow along and make a commitment that works for your family? ABSOLUTELY!
I've had friends follow along with a commitment of dinner at home 5 nights a week, or 6 nights. It will only work if you have a commitment you can work with.

How do you start?
First check out the next post called The Basics (it will be up in a couple of days - sorry I'm writing as I go so check back for the update). and stock up that pantry with basics so even if you can't think of ANYTHING to cook or only have a few minutes to cook - you will have easy stuff on hand to whip up so you don't skip a beat.
Second, get your recipes and ideas in order. (I will be posting as many links and ideas as I can while we go)
Third, plan your meals. This is SO important. you can take things out of the freezer on Sunday or Monday and try to be as prepared as you can. Get that slow cooker down you will be using it (and I don't like the slow cooker, but I use whatever tools I need to get through this!).

Lastly, don't let an oops get you down. If you "cheat" and go to dinner just pick up the next day and keep going.

The "Rules"
Ok, these are MY family's rules.  This is how we run our 100 nights.
1. Plan meals in advance
2. Acceptable variances are:
 - Parties: eat and eat to your hearts content it's a Free night!
 - Free Dinner: if someone offers you a free dinner at a restaurant TAKE IT! it's a freebie!
 - Dinner at someone else's house: Yay! Grandma's cooking, freebie!!!
 - If your birthday falls in the 100 nights and you choose to go out to eat this is considered a freebie - my birthday is January 4th YES!!!! because you get what you want for your birthday ;)
3. If you cheat and go out to dinner other than the reasons above ADD ONE NIGHT to the 100 nights - hey mistakes happen and it can be a do-over.
4. Have fun as a family and make the best of it.  Eating at home is not meant to be a miserable experience.

Basic Tips:

1. (again) Plan meals either weekly or monthly it's up to you and how you shop! Plan whole meals with sides and you can even do weekly themes - this helps with shopping. For instance: Greek Week you can have Gyros, lemon chicken, etc and make up a big batch of Tzaziki sauce and chop up all the veggies at once.
2. Have easy cook meals on hand so you don't waiver in your commitment. ie: spaghetti, pizza, breakfast, potstickers....
3. Keep a Pinterest board like the one I use: Kim's Pinterest Board and I heart Recipes.  Ask for recipe ideas from others using Facebook or ask at groups. I also love : I've tried LOTS of their recipes and they have all been pretty good!
4. Lay out the plan to your family and friends, the more support you have the better you will do!
5. Have fun and Share pics of your food - Facebook, Instagram, blog, whatever - Everyone Loves Food!!!
6. Try something new - we always incorporate a vegetarian dish, an ethnic dish, a gluten free dish...just to name a few and they are ALWAYS a hit!
7. Follow this blog - if you want to encourage anyone - encourage me to keep writing these for you! And Thank you for following along!

Have fun, eat well, and be merry.

Happy New Year!!
Some of last years dinners:
Lasagna Dinner Bake

Delicious Recipe!

Home Made Bread YUM!

Fish and Chips

Chicken and Veggie Bake

Ramen Night

Baked Bok Choy

Shrimp Broil

Meatless Burgers
Beet Salad
Veggie Stir Fry

Citrus Salad

Kale soup with beans 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013
Merry Christmas to you all from PatsycakeBaby - Kim, Alex, Ellie and Maddox! ;)
Great things are planned for 2014 - new diaper designs, new bibs, and maybe bringing back a couple of things from the past!  Join us on Facebook in our new group: PatsycakeBaby Diaperworks.  You may be chosen to be a tester for one of my items, participate in special giveaways, heads up on sales and just chat!!

Going on Now through my Birthday on January 4th, enjoy free domestic shipping on any order in my shop!! Use code: seasonsgreetings at checkout!
Stay safe everyone and Seasons Greetings!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Free Pattern and Tutorial: I Heart Baking Oven Mitts

I admit I started freaking out when I realized it's only a few more days until the big Xmas.  I hadn't finished half of the handmade items I wanted to - oh well, there's always next year, right?  Then I decided to make something from home - I had everything I needed. I searched for a free pattern for this so I didn't have to re-create the wheel, but I just couldn't find one.  So, I made one and now we have a great pattern to use! 
Are you stuck looking for a last minute gift like me??? I'm here to rescue you.

I Heart Baking Oven Mitts:

You can print the free pattern here.

Download the 1 page pattern
Fabrics - fat quarters work perfect in 2 to 3 different patterns!
Sewing machine with thread (or a thread and needle if you are hand sewing)
Warm and Natural batting
InsulBright heatproof batting. (don't have this on-hand? keep reading below)
Hot iron

Cut out:
1 Heart shape from fabric 1
1 heart shape from fabric 2
2 mitt shapes from fabric 1 (1 of them reverse)
2 reverse mitt shapes from fabric 2 (1 of them reverse)
2 pieces of the mitt shapes from Warm and Natural
**Trim your paper heart pattern down to the dashed and dotted line this makes it 1/2" smaller to keep the bulk out of the seam allowance**
Cut 1 piece of heart shaped InsulBright
Cut 1 piece of heart shaped Warm and Natural batting
Cut 2 pieces of Mitt shaped Warm and Natural batting

W&N: Warm and Natural
IB: InsulBright

First, Prep your heart pieces

Now Prep your Mitt Pieces:
Now Assemble your Mitt:

You're almost done!!



 and you're done!
Just add wooden spoons, a jar of something and viola, perfect gift!!

Share your pictures on my FB page!! Leave me a comment and let me know how it all worked out.  Hope you all have a very wonderful and Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

WINNERS ANNOUNCED!!! PatsycakeBaby Winter Giveaway!

Winners listed in bold under the Prize Photo!!! Winners have 48 hours to claim their prizes or a new winner will be drawn!  Please contact your vendor through their facebook page link to claim your prize!!
Congratulations to all the winners!!!
Is this the most wonderful time of year, or what??? Tis the season of giving and that is just what all of these wonderful vendors are doing.  Beginning December 4th through December 11th, enter to win one of these 15 fabulous prizes.  You can meet some of these vendors in the Vendor Spotlights. They are all very talented crafters! To enter the giveaway, you can Click on the GIVEAWAY tab, or go to and enter through the rafflecopter widget.  It's super easy to like 15 vendors, and you won't be disappointed! You can even get a few extra entries by entering in the optional entries, or by leaving a blog post comment below!
Here are the prizes:
WINNER: Chris Celia
Woods End all natural Handmade soap winner will get four 1 inch bars of any of the scents available, it will also include a wash cloth pouch for each soap!
WINNER: Cristino y Carie Soto
Stitches by Moonlight Mickey and Minnie Hat Set
WINNER: Janet Smith
Natures Nurture Lion Wildling Outfit Fits 10m to 18m (depending on infant) Retail value is 40 USD. Winner pays only for shipping (8 USD shipping in the US)
WINNER: Amanda Stovall
Cloth Creations and More Custom Toolbelt/Apron or Crayon Roll winner pays $3 shipping
WINNER: Ginger McClung
Two Two Cute Designs $20 Shop Credit
WINNER: Heather Luchi
IsabellaeRia RED Crochet Handbag. 10” long (not counting the straps), 16.5” long (counting the straps), 9"- 10" wide
WINNER: Jen Prieskorn
An Enchanted Affair Warm Winter Wish. Includes a personalized card and keepsake and Autographed photo of the princess. Postage Included.
WINNER: Tiffany Madden
Magnificent Chaos Small sized nappy bag with girl power fabric
WINNER: Krystal Pastrana
Sweet P's Boutique hat/bow combo set. Wear the hat with the bow or with out. Wear the bow in your hair or anywhere else you'd like to clip it. Giveaway value is $17 (shipping included).
WINNER: Carla Young Franklin
Wonder Stitch Mom choose one of four designs: small Crochet Baby hat
WINNER: Lindsay Michelle Sadler
Sugar Shock Creations $20 Store Credit.winner pays no shipping.
WINNER: Valerie Hernandez
VINESnIVY Christmas Who Loves You Ornaments Can choose Holiday fabric or Fur. Please specify Fur Belly or 2013 Belly for each of the 3. Shipping is absolutely free within the US.
WINNER: Jennifer Ritsch
PatsycakeBaby $25 Store Credit
WINNER: Candie Wolbert
Eeko Designs Snow White fitted diaper valued at $15 PLUS a $5 store credit to my Etsy shop, Eeko Designs. This fitted diaper is made from an organic cotton jersey Lillestoff print in Snow White and is lined with gray bamboo velour. It features a lay in soaker made from 2 layers of heavy organic bamboo fleece topped with matching velour. Includes a velour-topped doubler for extra absorbency power. Free shipping to U.S. only.
WINNER: Stacey Sugg
Inspired by Two Birds: A Breastfeeding & Babywearing necklace by Two Birds One Stone. Pretty for you and safe fun for your baby or toddler. And as with every TBOS necklace, it includes the signature 2 birds and 1 stone- lead and nickel free! Giveaway value of $18.50 (including shipping)
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year (and more) and I hope you all have a warm and wonderful winter season!!!