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?


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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Bobby’s Lighter “Tastes Like Lasagna” Soup

This soup tastes amazing! And it has only 225 calories per 1 cup serving!  My children even liked this (I cut the veggies up very small).

Tastes Like Lasagna Soup

2 teaspoons EVOO (or grapeseed oil)
1 lb Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 onion, chopped (i used a vidalia!)
1 green pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1, 32-oz container chicken broth
1, 15-oz can tomato sauce
1, 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (I just used red pepper flakes)
4 oz broken, whole-wheat lasagna noodles (about 4 noodles)
1/2 cup chopped, fresh basil
3 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1/2 Cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick saucepot/soup pot. Add the sausage, onion, bell pepper and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is crumbled and browned, 8-10 min.

2. Add the broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, salt and red pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally about 20 minutes. Add the noodles. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered until noodles are tender; 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in cheeses and basil. Serve!

* This recipe would be great even w/o the noodles

* Why not try making your own broth for this one?

Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff

Crock pot beef stroganoff with broccoli!

I love the “fix-it-and-forget-it” style of my crock pot. It’s perfect for Mondays! The fork-tender results of 8-10 hours of cooking…of which I had very little to do with, only makes it better. I like to cook my noodles (whole wheat egg noodles) separately in this recipe so they don’t get too soggy and my favorite side dishes to serve with this are steamed broccoli and a green salad.

Author: Tiffany original
Servings: 6-8


1 beef chuck roast (I usually buy whatever is in the $10 or less range)
1 white onion, cut into large chunks (so picky eaters can pull out later)
1 carton mushrooms (portabella, white button, whatever you like) cleaned and sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1 T Worcestershire
3 T Dijon mustard
1 Cup light sour cream


1. In a crock pot/slow cooker set to lowest setting (mine is the 10 hour setting and I start this early around 7 or 8 am), place onion chunks and sliced mushrooms on the bottom of the dish.

2. To prepare the chuck roast, season with salt and pepper (I use a generous amount of in about 2 teaspoons on each side of the meat) 1/2 of the Worcestershire and cover the surface area with a generous slathering of Dijon mustard. Place the roast seasoned-side-down on top of the onions and mushrooms. Then dress the other side with the remaining Worcestershire, salt, pepper and another generous slathering of Dijon mustard.

3. Place the lid on top and walk away. The meat and veggies will produce a good amount of juices, so there is no need to add any sort of liquid. Just before serving, shred the meat from the roast and add in 1 Cup of light sour cream. If you  have picky eaters you can pull out the onions here too. Serve over egg noodles.

15-Minute Pesto Pasta Toss

Short on time? I threw together this super quick meal for my family a few weeks ago and everyone loved it so much that we’ve eaten it about 3 more times since! I feel almost guilty calling it a recipe because, uh, it feels like cheating. It’s that quick and easy!


1 Pkg Knorr Pesto Sauce
1/4 Cup EVOO
1 box whole wheat noodles of your choice (I like penne and rotini)
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow squash
1 bunch of asparagus, cut with woody stems discarded
1 C sliced mushrooms (if you like them)
1 small head broccoli, not chopped, just cut into florets
1 rotisserie chicken, pulled
spices to taste such as oregano, salt, pepper and garlic powder

1. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box/how  much you’ll need for your meal.

2. Follow the directions on the Knorr pack for the pesto, which should say something about adding it to some water with the EVOO in a small saucepan. If you want to have a little more thickness to your sauce, (this is a Giada trick) use the water from the pasta you cooked up for the sauce. It makes it extra nice. 😀 Be sure to whisk it well.

3. Slice/prepare your veggies as you like them. In a medium-lg saute pan, toss 1 tsp/small splash of EVOO and let it warm up a few minutes. Toss the veggies in the pan once the oil is warm. Season with spices such as salt and pepper, oregano and fresh garlic or garlic powder. The veggies should only cook for 5-7 minutes. You want them to be bright in color and slightly tender, not mushy or remotely brown. They should keep a little crispness to them.

4. While things are cooking, remove the skin from the rotisserie chicken and discard. Pull the meat off in large sections ensuring there are no bones hiding in there. If you are squeamish about touching meat, I can’t help ya. It’s best to use your fingers. As you pull the meat you can either place it in a bowl or toss it in with your veggies if the meat needs to be warmed up.

5. Once everything is complete you can serve it multiple ways: you can make a “build it yourself” pasta bar, keeping everything separate or you can just dump it all into a large platter and toss it together.

This is a light and savory dish that’s perfect for spring and seriously, who can beat a yummy spring dinner in 15 minutes?

P.S. My 5 year old son liked this dish and ate it! He wasn’t a fan of the mushrooms, but liked everything else. I didn’t mark it kid friendly, but I think it just depends on your kid. Don’t be afraid to offer this to them. It’s yummy!

Greek Style Skillet Supper

This week, I made a recipe that I’ve tried only once before, but couldn’t remember how well the family and I had liked it last time. The recipe is from McCormick seasonings and is a bit different, but oh so good! I tweaked it just a tinge so here is my version.


1/2 lb ground beef (I prefer it with ground turkey!)
1/2 cup chopped onion (I used yellow)
1 can (14 1/2 oz) beef broth
2 C whole wheat penne pasta, uncooked (I cooked it just a scooch before hand…say 3 minutes in boiling water)
1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes
1 1/2 C fresh green beans, rinsed and trimmed
1 small can tomato paste (I think they are 4 oz or less)
2 t Oregano
1/2 t ground cinnamon (yes, cinnamon!)
1/2 t garlic powder
3/4 C crumbled feta cheese, divided

1. In large skillet, brown beef with onion over medium-high heat. Drain fat.
2. Return to skillet, add broth and bring to a boil. Stir in pasta. Return to boil and simmer, covered, 8 minutes.
3. Stir in tomatoes, green beans, paste and spices. Return to boil. Stir in 1/2 C feta. Simmer uncovered, 7 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly. ( I actually added a can of water to my version because it was so thick.) Sprinkle with remaining cheese and serve.  Makes 6 servings.

Tasty and healthy Greek Skillet

Macaroni and Cheese (It’s Sneaky!)

Serves: 6
Prep Time and Cook Time:  25 minutes
Author: this recipe is a combination of Jessica Seinfeld’s “Macaroni and Cheese 2” from her Deceptively Delicious cook book as well as a recipe from Everyday Food called “Stovetop Mac and Cheese”. It is SO good!


Mac n Cheese!

Mac n Cheese!


1 1/2 Cups whole-wheat elbow macaroni*
1 Cup nonfat (skim) milk
1/2 Cup canned navy beans, rinsed and drained
non-stick cooking spray
1 1/2 Cups shredded colby cheese (about 8 ounces)
1/2 t salt
1/8 t garlic powder
1/8 t cayenne pepper
1/8 t pepper
1 t dijon mustard
1 t worcestershire sauce

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add macaroni and cook accordingly. Drain and set aside.

2. While the macaroni is cooking, combine the milk and the beans in a food processor until pureed.

3. Coat a large pan (I just used the same pan I used for the macaroni) with cooking spray and set it over medium heat. Add the bean mixture to the pan along with the mustard, worcestershire sauce and seasonings. Cook for 2 minutes stirring until smooth. Add the cheese and cook until melted and creamy. Stir in the macaroni and serve!

*I couldn’t find the little shells in wheat at the commissary, so the picture here uses regular noodles.

**Jessica also suggests adding 1/2 C of pureed cauliflower (additionally not instead of the beans) to boost the nutrition of this dish even more.