This Week’s Meal Plan 8/11-8/17

Red Beans and Rice-this may end up looking a little different than the recipe. But this is the base I’ll use. I think I have an extra large can of diced tomatoes that I’ll use anyway and I know I want okra and chopped green chilies in there. I do not have a green pepper so I’ll improvise!

Grilled Honey Salmon-I have two fillets and while this sounds and looks delightful, I might put BBQ sauce on one fillet and this recipe on the other. Just for fun and diversity!

Stuffed Peppers-My husband was shocked at how good these were last time I made them. I have garlic and herb goat cheese and baby spinach to go in these this time. Yum!

Vegetable Soup-This is a good base for a vegetable soup however, I’ll probably use it as a guide and add my own flare. I prefer to do my own thing with what I have on hand and this is just such an excellent way to use up my veggies that are in need of being used before they are lost!

Thai Lettuce Wraps-I love that I won’t need a special lettuce for these-mostly because I always have romaine on hand. Can’t wait!

Tacos or maybe These Tacos-We usually use lean ground turkey when we have our taco nights. I often add in my own taco seasoning (as this recipe recommends and provides) and dab a bit of salsa in for added depth. However, the other tacos I linked to are delightful for a fun twist. Especially if you have limes, cilantro and corn tortilas at the ready. (I add lots more green chilies to my version of the recipe!)

Egg Sandwiches-2/3 of my children like eggs…but I’m going to keep presenting them! They just haven’t tried them enough times I think!

Pumpkin Whole Wheat Waffles-we already ate these and they were DIVINE! I used coconut oil, added 1 tsp of vanilla and upped the milk a bit (say by 1/3 extra cup) for this recipe.

Lemon Chicken-we already ate this and I loved it! Just the right amount of lemon flavor came through.

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!

My Meal Planning Process: A Glimpse of One Week’s Dinners

I love to plan meals!  I love to cook and I love to go to the grocery store. But what I don’t like is going into the week or into the store unprepared. So usually, the day or up to three days before I go grocery shopping, I sit down with a notepad and a pen at my computer and I look at Pinterest and various other internet sites to decide what sounds good for dinner this week. I also look at my calendar and how many nights our family will be able to sit down to eat together at our leisure verses the nights we need to hurry a bit, the nights I have opted to bring a friend dinner or a treat and the nights/days where we want to host a few people over and will need a snack or meal to share. I also consider lunches for my son to take to school, my husband to take to work (which is usually leftovers from dinner) and what the littles and I will eat at home/on the go for lunch throughout the week.

Here is this week’s dinner meal list:

Creamy Carrot Soup w/ Swiss Turkey Melts
Baked Ham with Roast Sweet Potatoes
Cuban Black Bean Soup w/ Quesadillas
Buttermilk Roast Chicken (x2 because I’ll be bringing this meal to a family who just had a baby) with smashed new/red potatoes
Beef Stew or Chili
Sneaky Macaroni and Cheese with steamed broccoli

The beauty of these meals is that a few of them will use leftovers or other ingredients from other meals. For example, the turkey melts will use some of the turkey I’ll have around for lunches this week, the baked ham that will be leftover I’ll use for the Black Bean Soup and anything else leftover will make lunches for my honey to take to work!

Additionally I put a few snack recipes on the list:

Spinach Queso Dip
Black Bean Hummus
Oven “Fried” Cheese bites

Once I’ve established my list of things to make for the week, I look at my kitchen and determine what I need verses what I have on hand, then I create my shopping list! I prefer to grocery shop early in the morning (i.e. 8:30 am) on weekdays, so I usually have my two small children with me. Read: highly distracted shopper Because I know I’ll be distracted and I HATE back-tracking/roaming aimlessly through the store, I actually write out my grocery list by aisles. I know…anal right? It’s so helpful though.

This is what works best for me and helps me to avoid the frequent stops at the store throughout the week. The better I stick to my list and the better my planning process, the less likely I have to “swing by” the store after my big grocery run. I hope this is helpful to you too!

What to Make for Dinner?

Lately, I am in a cooking funk. A ditch. A rut. I am feeling lack luster about it. I LOVE to cook. It isn’t that I don’t want to continue, I just don’t have any fun ideas. I’m bored and I think we’ve done the chicken dish, pasta dish, taco night -rotation a little too much lately. So, I’m super ready for something new and different.

Enter the internet. When in doubt, just scour it. I hit up Allrecipes and was feeling pretty “eh” about it, so I continued on to Real Simple Magazine’s site. AH-HA! Hurray! Fun ideas!

A trip to the store is in my near and not-so-distant future, so I picked out the recipes that sounded the best, printed them out and wrote a grocery list accordingly.  (If you don’t do this process now, I guarantee you will save money, time and stress by taking 1/2 hour of your week to accomplish this! You can do it!)

Here are the recipes I will be testing out next week:

Slow-cooker Squash Lasagna
Empanadas
Last Minute Lasagna – this is actually stacked ravioli
Easy Shepherd’s Pie
Chicken Curry in a Hurry
Chicken pot pie Empanadas

I have to admit that I don’t plan to follow these recipes to a “T”…they inspired me and I have fun ideas about how I can jazz them up. So each day next week, I’ll be cooking one of these recipes, taking pictures and posting my ideas and feedback here. Who knows, maybe next week you’ll be inspired too!

If any of this sparks you, note it here in the comments and let me know how you tweaked the recipe or what you and your family thought! Let’s cook!

Start Your Own Food Revolution!

On Sunday night, a new show called “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” aired on tv. It was so great! If you haven’t watched it yet I highly recommend you check it out on Hulu. Here’s a link for ya!

The premise of the show is that Jamie has heard about how truly horrendous the American Public School systems lunch and other food item choices are and he’s trying to start a grass roots effort to change it. He’s had experience too; he did it in Britain with his “School Dinners” campaign.

As a Mom who is deeply concerned about what my kids put in their bodies, I am in love with this guy! I think it is so sad that he came up against so much oppression on that first episode of FR.  I don’t understand how American’s can hear all the time that we are the FATTEST nation in the world and that fact not give us/them pause?

I remember VIVIDLY how livid my mother was when I came home with the lunch calendar as a freshman in high school one afternoon. The next day’s lunch choice was “Pretzel Puffs with Cheese Sauce”. No kidding! That was the ENTREE for the lunch that day! Processed bread with processed cheese. Yummo? GROSS! I brought my lunch most of the time and I remember people oohing and aahing my lunch. Well, when you’re alternative is processed bread and “cheese” product, who wouldn’t?

I have struggled with my weight since I was 12 years old. It’s not easy for someone who loves food to not go overboard with their weight. I’ve undergone major change in our diet since moving to Washington almost four years ago. I am a huge fan of Farmer Co-ops, I am a regular visitor of my local and fresh farmer’s markets from May to September (’cause that’s when they are open!) and I am continuously trying to reduce/erradicate our intake of processed foods.  I read labels! I do the best that I can with what we can afford and our fridge is always stocked with fresh fruits and veggies.

When my children, both boys, grow up, I want them to naturally make good choices for themselves and to ENJOY those good choices. I involve my kids in the kitchen and all I do there and I make dinner EVERY NIGHT for us. (We eat out between 2-3 times a month depending on just life and finances.) My husband is currently deployed and it has been a challenge for me to keep that up, but I’ve learned a lot of new tricks and it has turned into a (mostly) fun experience. We also play outside together as a family as much as possible.

So, if you know that it’s time for you to start a food revolution, than start it in your own home! Check out Jamie Oliver’s show or website for some startling facts and some helpful hints and how you can make a change for the better! (Even if you or your family are picky eaters.)

It’s a fact that our kids could live shorter lives than us if we don’t invest in them and ourselves right now!

Something New to Try!

Bulgur Wheat

Have you tried Bulgur Wheat?

It sounds funny, I know. But when you realize how CRAZY easy it is to make, how wonderful it tastes, and how good it is for you, it’s like a win-win-win!

“Bulgur is wheat that has been parboiled, dried, and cracked. This process decreases the time that is required when cooking bulgur. When cooked, bulgur has a chewy texture and a delicious nutty flavor. Bulgur produced from hard red wheat is darker in color and has a richer flavor than bulgur produced from soft white wheat. Bulgur is a traditional ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking.

Health Benefits:
Bulghur is high in fiber and protein, while remaining low in fat and calories. It is rich in “B” vitamins, iron, phosphorous and manganese as well as a good source of folic acid. It has a glycemic index of 46. In Mediterranean countries, bulghur is used in place of rice and can be substituted in most recipes that call for rice. Bulghur also offers a higher nutritional value over rice or couscous. In fact, one cup of bulghur has less calories and fat, but twice the fiber of brown rice. It contains more fiber than oats, buckwheat or corn.

With regular consumption of bulghur, it can keep your digestive tract healthy. The insoluble fiber that it contains absorbs water that promotes faster elimination of waste products. According to the revised USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommended number of servings of breads and cereals has increased from four to six. They suggest that at least half of those servings should come from whole grain products, such as bulghur. By increasing the complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber, it is thought to help prevent chronic diseases including cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Along the same lines, The Food Research and Innovation Enterprises has stated, “cereal foods like bulghur should be the cornerstone of our daily diet.”

So, want to try it? Great! Here’s a link to the recipe I just posted for it. Let me know if you start incorporating it into your meals and how it goes!

Thoughts on Sugar….

I’m a sugar snob. There, I came out and said it. Whew, I feel so much better about myself now. I actually forget who recommended Baker’s Sugar to me, thus making me the snob that I am. Someone I know who also likes to cook. I want to say a St. Louis person…hmmmm…

Anyway, I always use Baker’s Sugar when I bake. Why? What is Baker’s Sugar?

Well, Baker’s Sugar is just sugar that has been ground extra fine. The stuff is like dust…it’s just beautiful! I think it’s considered pulverized,…which sounds like a fun job. Can you imagine asking someone what they do and they respond, “I pulverize sugar”. Nice…

Anyway, the result is wonderful in baking. It dissolves much more quickly in liquid and gives a lovely texture to whatever you’re whipping up.

That’s all I have to say. If I was really cool, I’d have pictures so you can see the difference. But obviously I’m not that cool. Instead, here’s a website that tells you more about sugar than I bet you know now. 🙂

For future reference, whenever you see sugar mentioned here, just remember that’s the kind I use in the recipes.