Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday Meal Planning 9.24.12

It would seem that fall has decided to be in full swing. Daytime temperatures are just about perfect (mid-sixties), and nighttime temperatures are perfect for pulling out the heavy blankets again. I absolutely love this time of year, because it's also the time of year where I can make things like soup without people thinking I'm nuts.

Also, my meal plans are about to get a lot less interesting, for a couple reasons. First, our family schedule is crazy-hectic since school started, so I need to be realistic about the meals I can cook on a weeknight and still maintain a modicum of sanity. Second, my children - they don't eat much. I want to make sure that there's at least two of the three items on the plate that they'll eat, which means I'll be sticking to similar recipes quite frequently. Their favorite meal of all times is planned for Tuesday, but I need more flavor, so the excitement will be happening on the weekends, when I have time to throw on a pot of Kraft dinner if they refuse to eat what I've made.

On to the food!

Monday: Pancakes, bacon, fruit

Who doesn't like pancakes and bacon? Sophie is our champion pancake eater, and will keep eating as long as we have pancakes to put on her plate. She's not big on bacon, but that's only because she can't chew it well. I have a feeling that when she gets more teeth, she'll like bacon more, too. Gabbie's the champion bacon eater. My girls may not eat much, but they are definitely carnivores.

Tuesday: Grilled chicken, steamed broccoli, baked sweet potatoes

This. This is their favorite meal. I suppose I can't complain too much because it's pretty darn healthy and not untasty.

Wednesday: Burritos/Quesadillas, some sort of vegetable, some sort of rice

Until yesterday, there were two vegetables that were allowed to cross Sophie's lips: broccoli and sweet potatoes. Then, last night at dinner, she ate her weight in green beans. I don't know if I'll push it and try them again with dinner tomorrow or not. I also have some lima beans in the freezer which I might use for some sort of succotash. What other vegetable goes well with Mexican food? (Now I want Mexican food for lunch.)

Thursday: Spaghetti with veggies (zucchini and mushrooms) and sauce, salad, garlic bread

My girls love "snake noodles." The sauce will likely only be eaten by Aaron and I. Sometimes the girls will eat salad, but not always.

Friday: Chorizo and potatoes, with red peppers and fried eggs

I'm guessing this night I'll also scramble a couple of eggs so they have something else to eat. They like potatoes and sausage in any form.

Saturday and Sunday: Undecided as of yet

I would love to make homemade pizza, but I used my pizza stone on the grill last week and it broke. I've been wanting to try to make beef bourginon for a while, and something Thai sounds good too. Maybe Tom Yum soup (my favorite) and spring rolls!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Meal Planning 9.10.12

September? Already? Really?

Anyway, here's what we're eating on this very busy week:

Monday: Slow Cooker Brisket BBQ Chili, steamed broccoli, corn chips

I cleaned out my spice cabinet to make this one! It calls for quite a bit of chili powder, so I have a box of macaroni and cheese ready for the girls in case it's too spicy.

Tuesday: Mar a Lago Turkey Burgers, sweet potato fries, cucumbers

Wednesday: Chicken and Leek Stroganoff, rice steamed green beans

Thursday: Pork Kabobs, Rice Salad

Friday: Baba Ghanoush, Falafel, cucumbers, tomato salad

Saturday & Sunday: Undecided. It's a crazy weekend and we'll have houseguests, so I'm not making decisions yet.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Meal Planning 8.6.12

Although we were out of town for the weekend, and that usually precludes me from assembling a meal plan for the coming week, I actually had a chance to put together a plan while stuck under a sleeping toddler yesterday afternoon. She was so exhausted from all the fun we had on Saturday that I couldn't keep her awake no matter how hard I tried. Then, when we got home, the September issue of Food Network Magazine was in our mail box, and so I edited a little as I looked through the magazine.

Here's what we're eating this week!

Monday: Chicken with Arugula Pesto

Gabbie wanted chicken for dinner, and this recipe looked fantastic, so it took the first place in our meal plan for the week.

Tuesday: Blackened Tilapia with Black-Eyed-Pea Salad, Baked Sweet Potatoes

Aaron and the girls really like fish, and I'm trying to like it, so we've decided to incorporate one fish dinner per week into our menu. Last week we had some fantastic salmon with lemon butter caper sauce (I actually went back for seconds, it was so good), and so I thought we'd try this recipe for our fish dinner this week.

Wednesday: Taco Rice

A family favorite, that we haven't had in a while. I'm looking forward to it this week!

Thursday: Grilled Brats, Broccoli, and French Fries

Simple, delicious grilled meal for Aaron to prepare while I'm out running.

Friday: Bacon Pizza Pasta, Salad

I've been eyeing this recipe for a couple of weeks now. It's actually supposed to be cooler this weekend, so it is the perfect chance to try it out!

I haven't decided on meals for Saturday or Sunday, yet, and chances are we'll actually be out and about so I won't have to cook (bonus!).

Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday Meal Planning 7.16.12

Despite being a little jet-lagged, catching up on household chores, and having kids on top of me all day yesterday, I did manage to put together a meal plan for this week  AND I cooked a delicious dinner last night (which both kids refused to eat - grrrr). I amaze even myself, sometimes!

Monday: Chicken Adobo, Broccoli, Fruit

This dish is typically served over rice, but I actually cooked the last of my rice last night (oops!) and I'm determined not to have to do another grocery store run this week, so we'll eat it alongside steamed broccoli and fruit (probably cherries).

Tuesday: Cobb Salad, bread

I'll mix up a dough tonight, and put it in the refrigerator, so it will be all set to bake as soon as I get home from work tomorrow night. My cobb salad will be mostly vegetarian, except for the bacon. You can't have cobb salad without bacon. The girls will probably eat a deconstructed version of the salad, including bacon bits, hard boiled egg, avocado chunks, lettuce, and bread.

Wednesday: Something I can't remember, although I do remember it involves iceberg lettuce. I hate when this happens!

Thursday: Taco Rice

So, about cooking all my rice last night. I made enough mexican rice to feed an absolute army, so we'll be using this as the base of our taco rice this week. Also, I will be eating rice every day for lunch, and possibly as an extra side for every dinner. I really did make that much rice!

Friday: Clean-out-the-refrigerator Grilled Pizza

I have a lot of food in there currently, as well as some things left over for this week, that we'll pile on top of grilled pizza dough and call it dinner.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Monday Meal Planning 7.9.12

It would figure that the one week I'm on top of it and have five minutes to post my meal plan for the week would be the week that I'm going to be gone half the week. That doesn't mean that it's half a meal plan, though. It just means that I spent my weekend preparing to be away, which included coming up with super easy meals for the family to make/eat while I'm away. It only goes through Friday, though, because I get back mid-day on Saturday, after having to be to the airport by 3 AM (Pacific) to catch a 5:30 flight back. Then we're swinging by Aaron's grandma's house on the way home to pick up some bikes, and she has promised to make us dinner (she's an awesome lady). I plan to be recovering on Sunday.

On to the food!

(Also, I'm including last night's dinner, because it was awesome.)

Sunday: Glazed pork chops, corn on the cob, macaroni and cheese, watermelon

I froze the sauce from this recipe when I made it for father's day, and this time we used thick-cut (about an inch thick) boneless pork loin chops from the grocery store, and it was just as good. Everybody ate fairly well last night, which is a rare occurance, so that's yhow you know it was a delicious dinner.

Monday: Butter chicken, basmati rice, steamed broccoli, naan

I have been craving Indian food lately, and this recipe is nearly as delicious as anything I can get from my favorite Indian restaurant (and a heck of a lot cheaper). The last time I made this was a couple of weeks after Sophie was born, and at that time onions made her spit up. A lot. I kind of had PTSD regarding the recipe, but enough time has passed that I'm ready to eat it again. I can't wait!

Tuesday: Taco Rice

I have serious love for taco rice. Serious. It's so good!

Wednesday: Cheese ravioli, marinara (with mushrooms and zucchini), and roasted cauliflower

This is the day I'm heading out, so I planned a fairly easy dinner for Aaron. I'll have everything chopped so he just has to throw it all in the pan. The girls love pasta, so it should be a hit.

Thursday: Pizza, carrots and cucumbers, fruit

I'm not going to make him cook every day I'm gone. They usually grab take-out one night, so I'm making it super easy for him, and planning for that.

Friday: Ham and cheese empanadas, baked sweet potatoes

I'll put these together tomorrow night, and then they'll just have to pop everything in the oven and dinner will be ready a short time later!

Now all I have to do is come up with lunches for Wednesday through Friday for the girls and they won't have to worry about food all week!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Do Try This At Home!

Although I haven't been posting regularly, that doesn't mean I haven't been cooking. In fact I have (except for during this past week, when I have been felled by an ankle injury), and some of the things I've cooked in the past month have been pretty darn amazing!

These Spicy Avocado Chicken Enchiladas were more than pretty amazing. They were extremely amazing! When I told Aaron that chicken enchiladas were on the menu, he was picturing enchiladas with some sort of red sauce. He's not one for creamy sauces, so when he saw this green-ish, vaugely creamy-looking (it's better than it sounds, promise!) sauce, he was not thrilled. He took his first bite with trepidation, but then finished the whole enchilada without comment, and then sighed contentedly before digging into a second. These were not small enchiladas, so that was impressive. I toyed with the idea of halving the recipe, but I'm glad I didn't. We froze half and can't wait to eat them sometime soon. I made two small adjustments to the recipe, purely based on what ingredients I had on hand: I only used two avocados, and I substituted a teaspoon of ground coriander because the grocery store was out of cilantro when I went.

For father's day dinner, I kind of went all-out with the man food. We had Glazed Double-Cut Pork Chops (and here, as a brief aside, is the story of confusing the butcher when asking for double cut pork chops: "Butterflied?" he asked, "No, double thick. Two inches thick. Two bones thick," said I. "Hmmm....." he pondered. "See those bone-in pork loin chops right there? I want the equivalent of four of those, but in only two chops." "Are you sure?" "Quite." And then he asked me to share the recipe because he was intrigued), which were FANTASTIC, including the glaze/BBQ sauce which we saved/froze and which Gabbie has been using on her chicken ever since.

We also had "Mom's Famous Southern-Style Baked Beans" which I made pretty much exactly as written, except I made 2/3 of the recipe based on the sizes of cans of beans I could find. These were so good I almost ate them for breakfast the next day, and happily ate them with every meal until they were gone. I'm not huge on leftovers, so the fact that I ate the leftovers of these is pretty much a testament to how incredible the were. I will definitely be making these again.

I also made up some breakfast burritos that I think are pretty much perfect:

Breakfast burritos are one of my very favorite foods, and I'm a more than a little embarrassed to admit that I eat a fast food breakfast burrito or two a couple of times a week. I have been looking for a made-at-home substitute for a while to alleviate the shame, and I think this may be it. The best part? You can assemble them ahead of time (except for the salsa) and they reheat beautifully, so they make a super-fast weekday breakfast. Here's the recipe:

Jessie's Breakfast Burritos


1 lb. frozen hash brown potato cubes
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lb. bulk maple breakfast sausage
1 small onion, diced
1 jalepeno, diced (seeds and ribs removed if you want it less spicy) 
4 eggs, well beaten
6 slices american cheese
6 burrito size flour tortillas
your favorite salsa

To make:

Cook hash browns according to package directions, adding the chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper as they cook. Remove from pan and set aside.

Return pan to heat. Crumble sausage and add to pan. About halfway through cooking the sausage, add the onion and jalepeno. When sausage is cooked through, and onion and jalepeno are soft and slightly browned, remove the mixture from the pan and set aside.

Let the pan cool for a couple of minutes, and then add some oil or butter, coat the pan, and add the eggs. Return to heat, slowly stirring the eggs to scramble them. When the eggs almost fully cooked, remove the pan from the heat, add the potatoes and sausage mixture back to the pan, and stir to combine.

If you'd like, you can stop here, sprinkle on some shredded cheddar cheese, and eat as a scramble for breakfast.

To assemble the burritos, place a tortilla on a plate, tear the slice of american cheese in half and place end to end on the tortilla. Top with a generous spoonful of the filling, and roll into a burrito (fold in sides, then roll from side closest to you to close). If you're going to eat them right away, add the salsa before you roll the burrito. Otherwise, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze. When you're ready to eat them, remove the burrito from the plastic wrap and microwave for 60-90 seconds, add salsa, and enjoy! (If you froze them, put a burrito in the refrigerator before bed to thaw, then proceed as directed for refrigerated burritos.)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Meal Planning 6.11.12

I'm back! No excuses for where I've been, just that blogging is last on my list of priorities these days. (And Twitter is so much easier to update!) I do have time to update today, though, since I'm taking it easy because I have a horrible summer cold. Blah.

We have a short week of meals this week, because my brother and sister-in-law will be in town this weekend, and we're going to celebrate their baby with them (baby shower FTW!).

Monday: Ropa Veija Tacos, Quick Spicy Rice

Tuesday: Pistou Soup, Bread

Wednesday: Roasted sweet potato and black bean quesadillas, Quick Spicy Rice Bake

Thursday: BBQ Bean Chili Dogs, Watermelon-Cucumber Salad, Sweet Potato Fries

Friday, Saturday, Sunday: Family Fun!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Foodie Penpals and a Meal Plan - Both a Day Late

It has been forever since I posted. No excuses, blogging just lies a little low on the old list o' priorities. Behind stuff like sleep, and eat nutritious food. I've been busy meal planning and cooking, but not so much with the posting of what I've made.

I also participated in the Foodie Penpals program again for April. It was pretty fun! My penpal (the person who sent me a package) was Megan, and she sent us some pretty fun stuff!

The girls, of course, love the little chocolate chip cookies. Gabbie keeps asking for the crunchy cookies when she wants one. The dark chocolate cranberry granola is delicious, and I even put it in pancakes one day, for a fun change. Very tasty! Aaron ate most of the dark chocolate bar, and says it's one of the best he's ever eaten. I haven't tried the raw bar yet, but it's in my desk drawer for one of those days when I don't have time to run out for a much needed snack!

Thanks to Megan for a fun box of goodies! (See the bottom of this post for Foodie Penpal details if you want to participate!)

On to the meal planning!

Since things have been so crazy busy lately, when Sunday rolled around and I hadn't even thought about a meal plan yet, Aaron decided to take on the planning duties. What a man! I have to say, with a little bit of input from me, we put together a pretty excellent plan! (I'll include yesterday's meal, since it was fan-damn-tastic!

Monday: Spring Vegetable Risotto and a fresh fruit platter

Gabbie helped me make the risotto (a fairly basic version, with asparagus and peas) and did most of the stirring and adding of broth. It's amazing to me how helpful she is in the kitchen! Aaron put together the fresh fruit platter. It had (let's see if I can remember it all): bananas, grapes, blueberries, strawberries, oranges, mandarin oranges (Sophie's favorite), pears, and mangoes, with plain and vanilla yogurt on the side. It was amazing, and we managed to eat every last piece of fruit on that plate.

Tuesday: Chicken Fajitas, refried beans

You are going to see a theme start to emerge from Aaron's plan. He's a big Jamie Oliver fan, and so that's where he got most of his recipes for the week. These chicken fajitas are pretty delicious (we've made them before), and because we've had so much rice lately, we decided to go with a different side tonight.

Wednesday: Classic Tomato Spaghetti with Peas and White Beans, Salad, Bread

We've made this basic recipe a few times, but we decided to try out one of the variations this week. The original idea for the variation calls for fava beans which a) are pretty impossible to find around here, and b) remind Aaron too much of lima beans, apparently, so we are switching them out for white beans. Yum!

Thursday: Quick Salmon Tikka with Cucumber Yogurt, Naan, Carrot Salad

I had to be talked into this one, but since he has volunteered to do the cooking, and it is supposed to be warm enough that night to open the windows (so any fish smell doesn't linger), I let him put it on the menu. The girls both seem to like fish, so far be it from me to prevent them from eating it. I'm not a huge fan, but I can tolerate very fresh seafood. I'm making Aaron buy it from a local fresh fish place so that I can enjoy it too. We shall see! (I'm being open-minded, at least that's what I keep reminding myself!)

Friday: Sizzling Beef with Scallions and Black Bean Sauce, Rice

I have been wanting to try this recipe for a very long time. I saw the black bean sauce at the market a few weeks ago and put it in my cart so I could be one step closer to making this. Friday is the day!

Saturday: Crunchy Garlic Chicken, Broccoli, Fruit

Another recipe I've been wanting to try for a while. I read this cookbook all the time and drool over the pictures. The only reason I don't give it more play is the lack of easy vegetarian meals. However, I think we did pretty good balancing out what we're having this week.

Sunday: Unknown

We'll probably celebrate Aaron's birthday and my sister being in town on Sunday afternoon/evening. We're undecided yet, but as I'll be out of town from Monday until the wee hours of Aaron's birthday, I thought it best to celebrate before all that craziness ensues. All I know is that there will be chocolate cake. Mmmmm.....

And now it's time for some details about Foodie Penpals.

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.

-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!

-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!

-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)

-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.

-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We've determined things might get too slow and backed up if we're trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa.

If you’re interested in participating for May, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

You must submit your information by May 4th as pairings will be emailed on May 5th!

*If you're from somewhere besides the US, Canada or Europe and want to participate, send me an email and I'll see if we get enough interest this month!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday Meal Planning 3.19.12

We are one day away from the official start of spring, and I could not be happier about it. I expected today to be a pretty crappy day for myriad reasons, but that one fact alone (plus it's 70-some degrees and sunny out) have made up for a good chunk of those reasons, and my mood is fantastic!

On to the food!

Monday: Homemade Spaghetti-os, Large Chopped Salad (for the adults) and steamed broccoli (for the kiddos)
This weather has me craving a big, vegetable-filled salad for dinner, but that absolutely won't fly for the little ones. I've been wanting to see how Sophie takes to the homemade spaghetti-os (perhaps we'll have one more meal to add to her limited repertoire of acceptable meals), so it fits perfectly.

Tuesday: Taco Rice

If you haven't tried this yet, do it. It's so, so good. I'm actually making it with ground turkey instead of beef this week. My family hardly notices the difference, and we're starting a weight-loss/fitness competition at work, so our meals are about to get healthier (for the most part).

Wednesday: Chinese Style Slow Cooked Pork Chops, rice pilaf, broccoli

Wednesday afternoon I have a meeting that is notorious for running late, so I'm planning ahead for once this week and doing dinner in the crock pot. I've made these once before and the family loves them, plus pork chops were on sale this week. It's a win all around!

Thursday: Grilled chicken sandwiches, sweet potato fries, fruit

It's supposed to stay nice all week, so I'm going to declare that Grilling Season has officially begun.

Friday: Twice Baked Potatoes, Steak Bites, wedge salad

I made these potatoes a couple of weeks ago, trading out the green onions I didn't have on hand for diced onion fried in bacon fat. They. Were. Divine. I can't wait to make them again.
Saturday: Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos, Cilantro Lime Rice

These are a family favorite, and perfect for watching the big game (Go State!)
Sunday: Brunch TBD

I ordered the Pioneer Woman's newest cook book, so I'll probably make something out of there.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Scones

Before I was pregnant with Sophie, I could have cared less about cinnamon rolls. They have never been my favorite - I found them kind of dry and flavorless. I really don't know what the hell was wrong with me, honestly. That all changed with an intense craving for cinnamon rolls that persisted throughout my pregnancy with her, and has lasted ever since. I would eat them every day, no joke.

A few weeks ago I was in the mood for cinnamon rolls, but my family didn't feel like waiting the two hours it takes to whip up a batch. Aaron said something about scones, and I fired up the old search engine, because I knew somewhere out there, someone had combined these two things into one, fabulous recipe, and I was right!

In a guest post on Erin's blog, Cassie from Bake Your Day had posted this recipe for cinnamon roll scones that were a huge hit in our house, to say the least. Gabbie cried when they were gone, she liked them so much. Even she-who-doesn't-eat-anything ate an entire one by herself. Now that I'm bringing them up again, I may have to make them this weekend!

Cinnamon Roll Scones
Source: Cassie/Bake Your Day, on Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts

For the scones:
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1/2 c. buttermilk (or sour milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the filling/topping:
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a medium baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl and combine well with a whisk. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter, two knives, or your fingers, until the mixture is crumbly.

In a small liquid measure, combine the buttermilk and vanilla. Create a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the milk mixture. Gently stir the dough with a fork until just combined; do not over-mix!

Combine the fililng ingredients in a small bowl and crumble most of it into the dough. Gently knead the mixture into the dough, leaving some visible streaks to resemble the swirl of a cinnamon roll.

Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet, forming a circle about 8 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. Sprinkle the remaining topping over the dough and cut into 9 wedges, separating them slightly to leave space for baking.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Top with icing, made from powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla if desired. (As you can see from the picture, above, we definitely desired, but I have to say that they were nearly as good without the icing, and we didn't put any on those we saved for later.)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday Meal Planning 3.12.12

Holy $*&% it's the middle of March already! This month is flying by! With lots of excitment and much warmer weather and everything! We even fired up the grill last night!

I'm excited, can you tell?

Here's what we're eating this week:

Monday: Mediterranean turkey paninis (grilled cheese for the kiddos) and zucchini fries

I subscribed to Taste of  Home recently, and this recipe from the January/February issue really stood out to me on my first look-through. The zucchini "fries" are my attempt to get the kids to eat zucchini. We'll see how it works.

Tuesday: Conga Lime Pork, corn tortillas

We have a parent-teacher conference tomorrow night, so I thought it would be the perfect night for a crock pot meal. I can't wait to try this one!

Wednesday: Sicilian-style Cauliflower with pasta, chopped salad

The kiddos will get plain noodles and cauliflower on the side, while I think that Aaron and I will enjoy the heck out of this vegetarian main dish. The only thing I'm doing differently is using regular pasta, as my family has boycotted whole wheat pasta.

Thursday: Macaroni and Cheese, chicken sausage, broccoli

I have a work event this night, so I planned something that Aaron could easily make, and the girls would be guaranteed to eat. I made macaroni and cheese last Friday and Sophie ate 1/2 the box. She never eats food, so look for mac and cheese to be on our list at least once a week for the forseable future so that I can ensure she will eat at least one full meal a week.

Friday: Cheeseburger pizza, chopped salad

For less than a year, there was a pizza place down the street that made the BEST bacon cheeseburger pizza I've ever had. It was one of my favorite pizzas ever, so of course the store didn't stick around for long. (There's a local pizza store in town that pretty much dominates the pizza business here, so other places don't tend to last long as a rule.) This is my attempt to recreate that pizza. (Think: a thin layer of sauce, hamburger, bacon, onions (fried in bacon grease), and cheddar/jack cheese. So good!)

Saturday: Lamb stew, Irish soda bread

I'm still reviewing recipes and haven't decided on one yet, but I'm looking forward to this St. Patty's Day dinner.

Sunday: (Brunch) Cinnamon Rolls, scrambled eggs, bacon, fruit salad

I would eat this meal every day if it weren't so horrible for me. I absolutely adore breakfast food!

Toddler/Preschooler Lunch Ideas

I thought I'd revive this part of my meal plan, because I found I need to put more thought into lunches for my girls to not eat.

Monday: Silver dollar pancakes, strawberry jam, yogurt, banana
Tuesday: Cheese, sliced turkey, crackers, apple sauce
Wednesday: English muffin pizzas, steamed broccoli, peaches
Thursday: Quesadillas with cheddar, turkey, and mashed sweet potatoes
Friday: Leftover mac & cheese, broccoli, banana

Friday, March 9, 2012

Pork and Black Bean Chili

I am sure I'm not the only one who does something like this: I get the inspiration to cook, but everything I want to cook uses less than a whole of everything. One pound of pork tenderloin, when two pounds come in the package. Half a bag of black beans. Half a bag of frozen corn. Half an onion. I found myself in this situation (and with those ingredients) a few weeks back, and this recipe is what resulted. Aaron thought it was one of the best batches of chili I've ever made, and even Gabbie, (aka She Who Will Not Eat Anything, Especially If It's All Mixed Together) ate it AND asked to take it for lunch one day. I'm sure the cheese and sour cream I put on top didn't hurt, but I was pretty thrilled nonetheless.

I love it when I can pull knowledge of other recipes I've made and know what flavors will work together, and put that all into one dish that turns out awesomely, which is exactly what happened here. Some snippets from Aaron's great-grandpa's chili recipe, and a soup recipe I make regularly helped inform this recipe. Try it today before spring gets a good hold on us and it's still cool enough to enjoy chili!

Pork and Black Bean Chili

1 lb. pork tenderloin, cut in small chunks
2 small onions (or 1/2 a large onion), diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1/2 lb. dried black beans
1 1/2 c. frozen corn
2 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 can beef broth (I used 1 container of knorr beef broth concentrate and a cup of water)
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Chipotle or other hot sauce to add heat to your own bowl (optional)
Shredded Cheddar chesse
Sour Cream
Green Onions

Put all ingredients into a crockpot, except the toppings. Stir well, cover, and cook for 10 hours (or more as needed to soften the beans) on low. Add toppings as desired, and enjoy!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Meal Planning 3.5.12

Yeah, March! I'm so excited March is here that I can hardly stand it. Even if it is only twenty-some degrees outside. Spring is so near I can feel it (in my sinuses, but still)!

So, today's meal planning post is going to be a memory test for me, which I really need, seeing as I actually forgot to put on makeup today (this is when having my own office I can hide in comes in extra handy), and I left Sophie's lunch in Gabbie's locker, causing the daycare staff to have to call me and then track it down (I felt like I was forgetting something). I also forgot to bring my paper with my meal plan on it with me today, so I'm doing this all from memory. In other words, so far today I'm doing totally awesome, thanks for asking.

On to the plan!

Monday: Tacos/taco salad

No one was feeling pizza last Friday so we decided on quesadillas instead. I still have about 3/4 of the taco meat I made for the quesadillas leftover, plus an avocado, so tacos were the natural choice for dinner tonight. I'm trying to up my vegetable intake, so I'll be the one indulging in a yummy taco salad.

Tuesday:  Mini bow-tie pasta with chicken sausage, broccoli, onions, carrots, and green pepper

Basically an Italian-style twist on a stir-fry. I'll probably toss in some butter and parmesan as well.

Wednesday: I can't remember! I tried, really I did. I'll edit this later, maybe.

Thursday: Pasta bolognese, salad, bread

I still have enough bolognese sauce in the freezer for one more meal, so we're digging in this week. Mmmm....

Friday: Pizza, carrots

This meal, as listed above, is exactly what Gabbie asked for when given the chance to pick a meal. So we're going with it, even if she is mad at me that this is not what we're having tonight. In fact, this morning our conversation went thusly:

Gabbie: What are we having for dinner tonight?
Me: Tacos
Gabbie: Um, how about pizza. Pizza and carrots
Me: Sorry, Babe. That's what we're having on Friday.
Gabbie: How about we have it tonight.
Me: (trying not to laugh) It takes a while to make the pizza, so that's why we're having it on Friday. We have to have a quick dinner tonight because of dance class.
Gabbie: *pouts*

Saturday: Cheeseburger Sloppy Joes

I'll share this recipe next week. It's amazing!

Sunday: (brunch) Bacon and mushroom omelet, sourdough toast, fruit salad

This is what I want most of all this week. It may end up as a dinner instead of brunch if I find I can't wait.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Foodie Penpal Exchange - February Reveal

I participated in the Foodie Penpal Exchange, organized by Lindsay of The Lean Green Bean, again in February, and once again it was a lot of fun! I had a great time picking out the goodies for my penpal, who was a reader, but not a blogger. I sent her some peach butter I made last summer, some local granola, a Reese's egg (my favorite treat this time of year), some Faygo, and dried cherries (which I had to mail later, because it didn't make it in to the first box). There may have been something else, but I can't remember. It's been quite the month.

Speaking of quite the month, this post is unfortunately photo-lite, because most of the pictures I took disappeared from my camera's memory card. (There may have been some little fingers playing with my camera this past weekend, but I'm not going to assign blame when I'm not completely sure what happened.)

Here's the picture of the one thing I have left, because we ate absolutely everything else already:

My Foodie Penpal was Parita, from My Inner Shakti, and she sent a box full of deliciousness. In addition to my favorite flavor of Clif Mojo bars (see above), she sent a peanut butter pretzel Mojo bar, a can of mixed nuts with a little chocolate mixed in (Aaron ate that in about 3 days, and loved it), a dark chocolate bar (delicious), some dark chocolate sauce (which we have loved on our ice cream!), and two bags of home-baked goodies that I'm still going to have to bug Parita about so she'll send me the recipes - zuchini brownie bites and chickpea blondies.

It was so much fun to receive a box of goodies again this month! I'm taking March off of the Foodie Penpal fun, both because I need to recover from this month and the related craziness at home, as well as it being a busy month work-wise for me. But I can't wait to sign up again, because it is way too much fun!

If you might like to participate, here are the details:

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. So, I’m going to keep two separate lists and match US w/ US and Canada w/ Canada!

If you’re interested in participating for March, please send  an email to me at and include the following information:
-Your full name
-Your email address
-Your blog name/address
-Your twitter handle (if applicable)
-WHETHER YOU ARE A US RESIDENT OR CANADIAN RESIDENT. – this is SUPER important so you get on the right list!
You must submit your information by March 4th as pairings will be emailed on March 5th!
***PLEASE NOTE: if you send an email, you WILL GET A RESPONSE within 48 hours. If you don”t….please re-send your email or contact me via Twitter (@LeanGrnBeanBlog). Last month we had a few emails get lost as spam so we’re trying to avoid that!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Meal Planning 2.27.12

Well, that was an unexpected absence. Things were CRAZY last week, and meal planning just didn't happen. I don't know why I do that - meal plans tend to make my life easier than flying by the seat of my pants and having to decide on meals last minute.

Well, wait, I do know a little of the reason I didn't do a plan. I have lost my will to cook a little bit. My kids, as adorable as they are, absolutely kill my will to cook by not eating anything. Seriously, anything. Sophie will eat cheese and carbs, and Gabbie will eat fruit and sugar. Not only do these two things not overlap, but they're not exactly what I want them to be eating all the time. I mean, the fruit isn't bad, but some vegetables and meat would be good too.

I'm hoping to win them over tonight with a pot roast. Who doesn't love pot roast? (Don't answer that.) I'm also making room in my freezer this week by making many of our meals out of things I've frozen (meat, pre-formed chicken pillows, bolognese, chicken, pizza dough). I'm hoping that makes this week much easier in terms of the time it takes to make the meals my kids refuse to eat. Ahem.

On to the plan!

Monday: Three packet pot roast, with carrots, potatoes, and celery

Tuesday: Chicken pillows, broccoli, rice pilaf

Wednesday: Cheese ravioli with bolognese, salad, garlic bread

Thursday: Chicken spaghetti, broccoli, fruit

Friday: Homemade pizza (like usual), salad, fruit

Saturday: Tomato, basil, parmesan soup, 7 layer salad

Sunday: (brunch) Most likely quiche of some sort, and fruit salad

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday Meal Planning 2.13.12

Here we are, at the beginning of another crazy-busy week! This week we have ballet class, Valentine's Day and its related parties, two nights of 10K training for my husband, and I swear that this will be the week that I finally get my butt into the company provided gym that is loaded and which I get to use for free. I really have no excuse not to go!

Anyway, I was thinking this weekend that we have gotten in the rut of eating too much meat again. For a while we were only eating meat once or twice a week and I liked that, but now we're back to having meat almost every night. I'm hoping to work on that starting this week.

On to the meal plan!

Monday: Brisket, 7-layer salad, potato salad, macaroni and cheese (for the kiddos)

We actually had almost this exact same dinner last night, and since I made enough for two families, we're having it again tonight. It doesn't hurt that this is one of our favorite meals. I hadn't planned on cooking a big meal last night, but then we went to the butcher shop on Friday and brisket was on sale, and, well, I love a good brisket. I'll share the recipe for this and the salad tomorrow, probably. (I LOVE 7 LAYER SALAD, and I don't care who knows it.)

Tuesday: Valentine's Day Dinner! Heart-shaped Pasta with Four Cheese Sauce, Salad, Foccacia

On Saturday I hit my limit of togetherness with my toddler, and abruptly decided to leave the house for a little breathing space. With no plan in mind on where to go, I ended up at my favorite Italian grocer/bakery and purchased heart-shaped pasta, some pink pasta sauce, and a beautiful foccacia (not to mention some cannoli and eclairs, but those are long gone). I think pink sauce on heart pasta will be perfect for Valentine's day dinner.

Wednesday: Schweine-Schnitzel, Saurkraut Pierogi, Broccoli

Another of our favorite dinners, and another butcher shop impulse buy. We all love this dinner. Last time I made it I had a visiting toddler in the house and both she and Gabbie asked for seconds, which NEVER, EVER happens. It's that good! I'll have to share this recipe, too.

Thursday: Vegetarian Chili in the slow cooker, Corn Bread

I haven't settled on a chili recipe, yet. The cornbread is my mom's recipe, and is the perfect companion for any kind of chili.

Friday: As usual, Homemade Pizza, Salad

I love traditions, especially this one!

Saturday: Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans

I know I said this would be a meat-lite week, and meatloaf is pretty much the opposite of that, but it's a request from the husband, so I put it on the plan.

Sunday: (Breakfast) Sweet Potato Hash with Fried Eggs and Toast

This is one of Aaron's specialties, and I actually don't know what all he puts in it, because he usually makes as a treat for me and gives me a chance to relax with a cup of coffee while he cooks. He's pretty awesome sometimes.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday Meal Planning 1.6.12

I don't know what it is about 2012, but both my husband and I have started out this new year with renewed motivation. However, this has led to schedules that are way more crazy-busy than normal. This is also conference abstract season, which means I'm doing a heck of a lot more writing than normal, and, due to a very sad and unfortunate situation at work I'm possibly taking on a little heavier workload than normal for a couple of months. (Oh, and my favorite member of my team is taking on another, well-deserved role in our program, but that means I have to hire another person, and that takes months too, so even more work.)

So, what this all means is that I am having to find meals to make that are even quicker than usual. There are a couple repeats on this menu from last week, because I made last minute substitutions a couple of times when I wasn't in the mood for what we were planning on eating that night. (We had cheeseburger salad instead of squash, and spaghetti and turkey meatballs instead of tomato soup.)

On to the plan!

Monday: Broccoli Cheese Soup (half recipe), and fruit
Tuesday: Salsa Verde Chicken tacos (using my Foodie Penpals salsa from Elizabeth) and refried beans
Wednesday: Tomato Parmesan Soup, salad, fruit
Thursday: Butternut Squash Coconut Curry, Naan
Friday: Homemade Pizza (I'm thinking of doing something different this time using some fun ingredients from my pantry)
Saturday: Pappardelle Bolognese, Salad, No-Knead Bread
Sunday (brunch): Piggy Pudding (an old favorite that I haven't made in a long while - Aaron will be super excited!), smoothies

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January Foodie Penpals

Early in January, I was messing around on Twitter, when I noticed a tweet from Courtney about something called Foodie Penpals. A little more clicking led me to Lindsay's site and the rest of the details. And then I signed up nearly immediately - this sounded like way too much fun!

Here are the details:

-You sign up by sending Lindsay an email (at with your full name,  email address, blog/website address and twitter handle (if applicable). This month you would need to let her know by February 4th if you want to participate.

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 

Okay on to the good stuff! This month I got my box of goodies from Elizabeth at Don't (White) Sugar-Coat It. Here's what she sent, all the way from Texas:

(As you can see from the background, it arrived on a snow-filled day!)

The box contained a nice note on a postcard, some delicious smoky chipotle sauce (for some Texas-style heat), a dark chocolate bar with pink peppercorns (fancy!), cranberry mango salsa, olive tortilla chips, and some packets of stevia. We have enjoyed these treats all so much! The chocolate tastes almost like I would imagine a chocolate spice cake would taste like, that is: delicious! Gabbie has been fighting me for those chips. They are seriously good. The salsa is also delicious, and I think I'm going to use some for a chicken dish next week. 

All in all, this was a lot of fun, and I already signed up for next month. Thanks for putting together such a fun exchange, Lindsay!

(If you want to see what I sent to my Foodie Penpal, head over to Debbie's site!)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Meal Planning 1.30.12

I was so busy last week that I felt like the week actually ate me. Needless to say, there was no meal planning, there was only fly-by-the-seat-of-my pants, last minute, what the hell are we going to eat tonight kind of dinners. Turns out, that's super stressful!

We're doing better this week, I swear it.

Here's what we're eating this week (weekdays only, we're undecided about plans for the weekend, so I'm not planning anything as of right now):

Monday: Ravioli Soup, Salad, Garlic Bread
Tuesday: Butternut Squash with Coconut Milk and Curry, Rice, Naan, Fruit
Wednesday: Mongolian Beef, Steamed Broccoli, Rice (making a double batch the night before)
Thursday: Tomato, Basil, Parmesan Soup, Salad, Bread
Friday: Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes, Steamed Green Beans, Salad

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday Meal Planning 1.16.12

I have the day off work today, and the girls are at daycare, so I'm going to make this quick to take full advantage of this alone time.

Monday: Lasagna Soup, Salad

I'm adding zucchini to the soup for a little extra vegetable, and leaving off the toasts.

Tuesday: Spicy Pop Pulled Pork, Baked Beans, Cole Slaw

We were all drooling a little when watching the new episode of The Pioneer Woman's show this past Saturday and she made this. I'm going to do it in the crock pot and perhaps leave out a few of the peppers.

Wednesday: Eggplant Casserole

I bought an eggplant because it looked pretty, and then I found this delicious-looking recipe in which to use it.

Thursday: Chicago Dogs, Sweet Potato Fries, Cole Slaw

This is among Aaron's favorite dinners, and is super quick and easy.

Friday: Pizza, Chopped Salad

I have half a jar of pizza sauce left from last Friday, so I'm doing pizza again this Friday. I love this Friday night tradition of homemade pizza.

Saturday: Beef Bourgignon, bread, salad

I've always wanted to make this, and so I've determined that this is the week to do so.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday Meal Planning 1.9.12

This week sees me putting the final touches on a project that has been all-encompassing since the spring. I've been part of a team at work that is writing a 2nd edition of a book, and even though the whole 2nd edition thing makes it sound not too bad, it has been a LOT of writing, editing, and graphic designing. I think the whole, nearing the end point, but still having a ton to do between now and the end thing is making me hungry for comfort foods, which is definitely reflected in our plan for this week's meals.

Monday: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

When I was planning out our meals yesterday, I asked Gabbie what she thought of having grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner tonight. Her face lit up and she said, "That sounds delicious!" (Dollars to donuts she eats exactly two bites of each before declaring her belly is full, and then five minutes later she will declare she's hungry again, but not for dinner.)

Tuesday: Tortellini Spinach Bake in Creamy Lemon Sauce, Salad, Fruit

I've been craving a baked pasta dish, but I didn't want something super heavy. This sounds like it will fit the bill perfectly!

Wednesday: Balsamic Roasted Chicken, Rice Pilaf, Steamed Broccoli

This is the only meal we didn't get to on our list last week. I just didn't have the time. Then we were going to have it this weekend, but the chicken is taking forever to thaw in our (apparently very cold) refrigerator. I hope that, by Wednesday, we'll be good to go.

Thursday: Tacos, Salad, Fruit

This is Aaron's addition to the meal plan this week. I asked him if there was anything he wanted, and he replied, "Tacos. Straight up." Easy enough. He gets his wish.

Friday: Potato Skins, Salad, Fruit

A while back, Food Network Magazine had an article where they created a different potato skin recipe to represent each team in the NFL in celebration for the Superbowl. My favorite was the Southwestern Nachos version (using Margaritaville salsa), whereas Aaron strongly preferred the Coney Dog version. I'm pretty sure the girls would prefer theirs with just melted cheese and sour cream, and perhaps a little bacon.

Saturday: Pasties, Steamed Green Beans

It's that comfort food time of year, and these are the ultimate comfort food for both Aaron and me. These take quite a while to put together, but thankfully the recipe makes a lot so I can freeze more than half and have pasties on hand for a while.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Monday Meal Planning 1.2.12

Today is the last day of my 11 straight days off of work, and I am growing increasingly sad about this. I think that calls for a warm, homey meal tonight and quick, easy meals for the rest of the week, don't you?

Here's what we're eating this week!

Monday: Clean out the fridge soup, a salad, and pretzel rolls

We have so many little bits of leftovers from the past week or so, and they are just begging to be added to a big pot of soup. This one will probably contain: chicken and apple sausages, diced tomatoes in juice, chicken stock, red and green peppers, diced onion, carrots, celery, garlic, beans, and rice or pasta to be added at the end.

Tuesday: Spicy Thai Noodles, steamed broccoli

I pinned these a while ago and have been wanting to eat them ever since. This is my week!

Wednesday: Cheeseburger Salad

From The Pioneer Woman. I think that about says it all.

Thursday: Brinner

I think we'll be having breakfast burritos for brinner this week: eggs, sausage, peppers, onions, salsa, hash browns, and cheddar all wrapped up in a flour tortilla (or separated out for the kiddos).

Friday: Homemade pepperoni pizza, raw vegetables and fruit

We have some sandwich-sized pepperoni, which I think will be fun on this pizza. On mine I'll add either black olives or tomatoes and banana peppers.

Saturday: Balsamic Roasted Chicken, basic parmesan risotto, steamed broccoli

Sunday: Leftovers

We've been doing a big breakfast on Sundays as our main meal, and then snacking or eating leftovers the rest of the day. This is how my mom did things when I was growing up, and it seems to be a nice way to round out the weekend. I understand why she did this now. :)

And now that I'm all done typing this, I'm starving. Good thing it's just about lunch time!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Food Goals 2012

Happy New Year! I am having a hard time believing that 2012 is here already! 

I took the week between Christmas and New Year off, meaning that as of tomorrow I will have been off work for 11 days straight, which has been wonderful, and has also given me a lot of time to think and plan for this coming year. In that vein, I have a few food/blog goals for this year, and here they are!

Blog Goals:

1. Blog here (and at my other site) three times per week. Three times a week here will probably include: a menu plan, one thing I've baked, and one recipe I've made recently. This will allow me to share some of the fantastic things I've made over the past year and ongoing, like this easy and delicious soup, which I would make and eat every week if my family didn't like more variety:

2. Work on an idea I've had for a while that combines two of my favorite things: data collection and finding/planning meals. I'm pretty excited about this possible side business that I want to pilot test soon. (My data/research geek is showing, isn't it?)

Food Goals:

This year, I want to make from scratch:
1. Ricotta/Paneer
2. An Indian meal (including naan)
3. The perfect Tom Yum Gai (Thai chicken soup, that I love) 
4. Pho
5. Fresh noodles
6. My own sausage
7. Corn tortillas
8. Cheesecake 
9. Granola bars
10. Crackers

I have found all sorts of energy and motivation over the past week, which as probably coincided with completing two HUGE projects at work just before I left for the holiday, and I can't wait to tackle 2012 with renewed excitement and hunger!


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