Meals Plan Ideas for 9/22-10/3

While I can’t say I do this every week/two-weeks without fail, I usually sit down on Sunday afternoons and peruse my Pinterest boards to inspire my menu planning. Today was a lovely Indian Summer day to do just that. I usually cook 3/4 times per 7 days and sometimes I reinvent leftovers, so here is my Pin-spiration for our bi-weekly menu. I hope it inspires you too!


Dijon Chicken Linguini with mushrooms-A little on the heavy side, I’ll have to save this for a day I work out!

Indonesian Pork with rice- I have a 4-pack of boneless pork shoulders I picked up from Costco. They are so versatile I really enjoy having them around for a change. I’ll be subbing one for the tenderloin in this recipe. I also do not have mango chutney, but what I do have is a lovely preserve that is Orange, Mango and Apricot (also from Costco). It should be yummy in the crock pot!

Beef Stew with Mashed Potatoes-I’ll be using the crock pot for this recipe too. I’m intrigued by the olives….

Chili with Cornbread-ok, I don’t follow a specific recipe for this. In fact, my chili probably tastes a little different every time I make it. I brown 1-lb of ground turkey breast, dump it in my crock pot with the big cans (28-oz) of diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, 1 can of red kidney beans, 1 can of Bushs best chili magic chili starter AND an envelope of generic chili starter/seasonings.  Sometimes I add onions, sometimes I add tomato paste, sometimes I toss in other beans/extra beans.

Pork with Peppers-this is PW’s skirt steak recipe but I will be subbing pork and serving it over rice instead of noodles.

Turkey Meatballs-these are nice because I can make a lot of them and if there are leftovers, I’ll freeze them, then put them in my tortellini soup for nights I don’t feel like making dinner.

Crunch Broccoli Bake-a yummy new side idea I think I’ll make with something like fish

Roasted Yellow Squash with onions-my kids will moan and wail and whine but it’s ok with me 🙂

Sweet Potato Coins-What a smart idea!

Buffalo Wing Pretzel Sticks-I am so excited to make these for a Saturday football snack!

Pizza Stuffed Mushrooms-another fun Saturday football snack item I can’t wait to try

The obligatory breakfast-for-dinner, ground turkey tacos, random pasta toss together (with tortellini), and various soups will be in the mix too if I need a quick fill in! What have you been pin-spired by lately?


Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin

This is one of my most favorite side dishes I’ve found via Pinterest. It gives you that potato casserole taste and feel but it’s squash! So yummy and fallish. Try it!

Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin
Serves 6

1 medium spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, diced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more if you like it spicy
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
½ cup light sour cream
½ cup light shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese, divided

Poke the whole squash all over with a sharp knife, then place the squash on a plate and put it in the microwave for 10-12 minutes. Remove the squash from the microwave and cut in half. Scoop out the seeds, then remove the squash from the shell using a fork to scrape the insides.  Transfer to a small bowl.  (*If you do not own a microwave, you can absolutely bake this in the oven for one hour at 350 degrees.  It will take significantly longer so I recommend making it the day before or early in the morning. You can cut the squash in half and bake or bake whole.)

In a small skillet over medium heat, add the butter, onions, red pepper flakes and thyme and cook until the onions are slightly brown in color; remove from heat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Combine the squash, onions, sour cream and (1/4 cup) half the cheese together and mix well.  Transfer the mixture to a baking dish and top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.

Place into a 375º for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown on top.

**If you will be serving this to children who do not like heat/spicy foo,  omit the red pepper flakes in the dish and put them as a garnish on top of the adults serving of the dish. The red pepper flakes really make the dish!

Chocolate “Pudding”

I found this post on Pinterest for a Chocolate Pudding made with only avocado, bananas and cocoa. What??? I realized pretty quickly that I already had everything I needed on hand to make this. So, why not try it out? I whipped it up in less than 5 minutes, added a drizzle of honey just to help it out a little, and then whipped it in the mixer just to fluff it up and really get all the chunks out.

I handed the chilled cups to my 3 kids (9, 5, & 2) after dinner a few hours later. Only one of my three took a bite and looked at me suspiciously. The others devoured it. And the one who asked me what was in it still ate it when I divulged my secret to him. I was really sold when the child of mine who is the least likely to try new things asked me the next night if there was any more “pudding” to eat.

All I’m saying is, what have you got to lose? 

Not. A. Thing.

It’s seriously good.

Sneaky Chocolate Pudding:

  • 2 bananas (I used some “just right” bright yellow/no spot fruit because I didn’t want the banana flavor to overpower the taste)
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 Tablespoons Hersheys special dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon honey (optional-try it both ways!)

Healthy Broccoli Salad

You know that summer staple at many St. Louis barbecues? The broccoli salad with sunflower seeds, grapes, red onion, bacon and mayo? It’s good yeah, but what if I told you I found one even better and better for you?

Last summer I actually winged my own version of that salad by making a vinaigrette for the dressing. I’m trying to cut calories and that mayo based stuff just isn’t flying.  Enter in this salad from Six Sisters Stuff. Oh my lanta! It’s so good! It’s got this tremendous bite to it thanks to the key ingredient; raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar.

Bragg                               Apple Cider Vinegar                , 16.0 Ounces , Liquid If you have never purchased this stuff, it will revolutionize your recipes. It has amazing flavor!

I tweaked the recipe a bit for what I had on hand and what sounded good to me. So here it is! Try it at your next summer gathering and tell me people don’t beg for the recipe.

healthy broccoli salad


Healthy Broccoli Salad


2 tablespoons of honey (my change!)

1/2 cup dried cranberries

6 tablespoons raw,unfiltered apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon EVOO

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 dash salt

2 heads of fresh broccoli, coarsley chopped

3 apples, chopped

1/4 cup pecans

In large bowl, whisk together sugar through salt. Add broccoli, toss well. Add apples and onion, toss again.

Cover, chill at least 2 hours (It is my favorite when it sits overnight)

P.S. I have been eating this for lunch lately! I put the recipe into my fitness pal figuring 8 servings per recipe. It is 92 calories!

This Week’s Meal Plan January 10-19ish, 2014

I apologize for all the links, but this is the way I am meal planning these days! As soon as I’m hungry and have about 30 minutes, I hop on to Pinterest and check out what I’ve pinned lately and what sounds good. Here is this week’s meal list with links!

Crock Pot Beef with Broccoli – I’ve made this before and it is really easy and delish! I remember that we ate every last bit of it though-I will double the amount of meat this time. Brown rice and maybe some skillet Chinese dumplings (from the frozen food section at the grocery until I figure out how to make them myself!)

Cheesy chicken with bacon and avocado quesadillas-This is a new recipe I can’t wait to try. I think we’ll have a big salad with it.

BLT with poached egg sammies-This will most likely be something I make for Saturday breakfast. I think I’ll make some sweet potato hash to go with it!

Greek yogurt mac n cheese-This is a new recipe that I’m really banking on being good. I might cry if it’s not! I’m planning on a sharp white cheddar and maybe a colby cheese.

Greek skillet-This recipe is an old stand by; I make it often and it is well loved! I use green beans (instead of spinach) and lean ground turkey meat in it. The cinnamon is very good in this recipe!

Spicy oven baked fish with Crash hot sweet potatoes-This is a new recipe too and a big risk for my non-fish eating family. I LOVE fish and I’m constantly trying to sneak it in unsuccessfully. I’ll make this on a night that my hubby has class and it’s just me and the kiddos.

Chicken zucchini skillet-this isn’t a link to a recipe, just a picture. But you get the idea. I’ll most likely sub red peppers for the tomatoes and season it with Thyme and Oregano and garlic. Mmmmm….I think I’ll be making rice as an accompaniment.

Fresh 5-Ingredient French Bread-I’ve been making this bread recipe a lot lately and I just love it! I can start it at 2:30 pm and have perfect bread by dinner time. It’s so-so-so good. We eat an entire loaf in one sitting!

Other meals I have stuff on hand for are turkey tacos (crunchy!), spaghetti, and this Lemon Chicken recipe. Mmmm….I’m hungry!

Huevos Rancheros

I made this for dinner tonight…and it rocked.

Photo Credit Bev Cooks

It looked just like that and it tasted amazing…so just make it like the woman says!

Huevos Rancheros:

What it took for 1 serving (if you’re like me and eat 2 rancheros’s. Or is it rancheroses? Or is it rancheri?):

* about 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
* 2 corn tortillas
* 1/2 cup black beans (from a can, drained and rinsed)
* 1 clove garlic
* 1 tsp chili powder
* 1 tsp ground cumin
* 2 Tbs. salsa (I used hot!)
* 2 eggs
* 1 Tbs. sour cream
* fresh cilantro, for garnish
* coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

In a mini food processor, add the beans, garlic, cumin, chili powder, a tsp of oil and a small pinch of salt and pepper. Blitz until you get a puree. Transfer to a small sauce pan and set it on a low heat. Stir (or press around) the mixture until it’s heated through. Remove from heat.

Put a small skillet over the heated burner and add the tiniest bit of oil. Lightly fry (it’s almost toasting really) each tortilla until slightly browned and bubbly. Transfer to a plate.

Add a tsp of oil (or a little more) to the skillet and crack your first egg in. If you want to use a bigger skillet and just fry both eggs at the same time, gah fer it. (That’s me trying to sound Irish.) Continue to fry the eggs until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny.

In the meantime, spread the bean mixture over each tortilla, followed by the salsa. Then top each with an egg. Dollop with a little more salsa, fresh cilantro sprigs and a good grind of black pepper.

Serve with lime wedges and sour cream!

Bolognese Sauce

I just finished reading the book, “Dinner: A Love Story” over the long Memorial Day weekend (that link is to her blog). It was a fun read and a creative perspective on how your cooking style changes as your family dynamics change. That book coupled with my other recent read, Bread and Wine had my mind fresh on how much I love to cook, but how little I write about what I am cooking these days! I’m still cooking dinner every night in my kitchen even if it’s showing up so much less around here lately.

Today I was reminded of the book because I had a lot of time on my hands (hence this post!). This is a rare thing to have happen! The weather is stormy and hot, the kids are a bit bored, the baby is asleep and dinner is still several hours away. My FIL and niece will be in town tonight also, and I’m not sure if they’ll be joining us for dinner or not. I’d need something that either makes great leftovers or will feed a crowd. All those circumstances married up in my head and gave me the idea to try making a bolognese sauce…from SCRATCH! I made sure I had everything on hand and whaddyaknow? I did! This recipe didn’t hale from either book by the way. Even though…I’m pretty sure there is a recipe in there for something along these lines. Here is where this recipe is from originally. I tweaked it just a scooch.

It took me about 45 minutes to one hour to assemble the ingredients and do all the steps. As I said, I had a lot of time on my hands. This is one of those dishes I think shouldn’t be rushed. And now, we wait! 3 hours to be exact.  I plan to pair this with some fresh-baked bread and salad by the way. Oh and Rigatoni for the vehicle of the sauce. (P.S. I’m kicking myself as I type this because I realize I left out the prosciutto! I even have some! I might saute some prosciutto and mushrooms and toss those in what is already simmering…)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 package sweet italian ground turkey links (casings removed)
3 ounces prosciutto, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 large carrot, diced (I used 2 small)
5-6 white button mushrooms, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1/3 cup red wine
1 cup milk
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
3 cups beef broth
1 bay leaf

Generous pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt
salted butter

Here are my abbreviated directions:

1. In a LARGE pot (it’s a lot of sauce!) with a few swoops of EVOO, saute sausages (and prosciutto!) over medium-high heat and crumble into small pieces. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside.

2. Add onions and 1 tablespoon of real, salted butter. Lower the heat after about 1-2 minutes and just leave the onions alone! Let them caramelize by cooking low and slow. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside (I just plopped them on top the meat).

3. Add to pan carrots, celery and mushrooms and a bit more butter. Saute until tender.

4. Add to pan the crushed garlic and the tomato paste. Incorporate well into the veggies and allow to cook 1-2 minutes. Add wine and stir well! Add back in the meat, onions, and prosciutto. Cook 1-2 minutes. Add 1 cup milk and stir well.  Allow to cook 1-2 minutes. Add beef broth and can of diced tomatoes (and pray it all fits in your pan). Stir well!

5. Add 1 bay leaf, nutmeg, and some Kosher salt. I used some Brittany Gray salt my sister gave me for my birthday (1/2 tsp).

6. Let this simmer for 3 hours! We’ll see what the verdict is soon.

**After 3 hours of simmering, it seemed like something was missing. So here’s what I added just by taste:

-a splash of balsamic vinegar
-1 tablespoon of sugar
-3 squeezes of dijon mustard

And now it’s AMAZING!

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