Recipe: Italian Garden Enchiladas

Before we leave on vacation we’re trying to clear out the fridge and freezer, not to mention I have all the goodies from the garden to use up. So, for dinner tonight I had the girls go with me and harvest some of the veggies from the garden. We filled up a small bowl with beans, peas and some cherry tomatoes.

Looking through the fridge, we’ve got a ton of tortillas and I had an open bag of pasta sauce. I also found a few cans of beans in the back of the closet, so I had my little one pick one out to eat – she chose garbanzo beans.

In the end, I made Italian Garden Enchiladas.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Garden veggies, such as beans, peas, carrots, onions, garlic, cherry tomatoes, etc.
  • Fresh basil
  • Pasta Sauce (16 oz or so.)
  • Tortillas
  • Chicken
  • Garbanzo Beans (1 can.)
  • Cheese (about 8-16 oz – depending on how much cheese you like!) – I used Italian Blend and Sharp Cheddar.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook chicken on stove until done. (I used a bit of olive oil.) Optional: Sprinkle with Italian seasoning.
  2. Chop up the garden veggies and sautee on the stove in a little bit of olive oil. Set aside.
  3. Rinse garbanzo beans and heat in same pan on stove. (I added enough water to the pan to cover the beans, then boiled the water out.)
  4. Place a layer of sauce in a baking dish.
  5. Lay out tortilla. Place a layer of sauce, then add the veggies, chicken, beans and a few slices of the tomato and basil. Add cheese and more sauce.
  6. Roll up and place, seam side down, in the baking dish. Repeat 5 times.
  7. Spoon the remaining sauce on top, add basil, sprinkle on cheese.
  8. Cover with foil and bake for about 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees.
  9. Remove foil and bake for a few additional minutes until cheese is browned to your liking.
  10. Cool and enjoy.

BONUS: You can EASILY freeze this meal! Use a disposable foil baking pan, and prep the meal as stated above. Then, thaw and continue with baking ingredients.

Garden veggies. Basil, onions, carrots, peas, beans and tomatoes.

Grilled some chicken on the stove. Sprinkled with Italian Seasoning.

In the same pan, tossed the veggies – chopped up – in some olive oil and sauteed.

A can of garbanzo beans. Threw in the same pan with enough water to cover them, then boiled until the water was gone.

Whole wheat tortilla with a layer of my pasta sauce, a couple spoonfuls of the cooked veggies, plus the garbanzo beans, sliced up chicken and sliced tomato. Before rolling up, top with cheese.

Add a layer of sauce on the bottom of the baking dish, add the rolled up tortillas and top with more sauce and basil.

Add cheese, cover with foil and bake at about 375 for about 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional few minutes until cheese is browned to your liking.

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Fruit Kabobs & Strawberry S’Mores

Steak, Veggie and Fruit Kabobs

Steak, Veggie and Fruit Kabobs

Last night I decided to finally use the Kabob set I bought at Goodwill for $3.99, a steal in my opinion!

I made steak kabobs. Even though I’m trying to cut back on my sugar consumption, I decided to officially start that NEXT week, so I just used a basic marinade I found on the Internet which was basically lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic, cinnamon and a few other random ingredients. To me, the marinade is basically there just to tenderize the meat. Then, as the kabobs were cooking, I brushed some BBQ sauce over the steak every few minutes. The end result was absolutely delish.

Of course when you make kabobs you need to grill some veggies. We kept it simple with red and yellow bell peppers and white onions. Sweet onions would have been much better, but The Husband couldn’t find any at the store. :\

The real “experiment” was fruit kabobs though. I had an orange, some bananas and a package of strawberries in my kitchen and I thought to myself, “I wonder how these would taste on the grill?”

Well, the oranges were pretty blah. But the orange I had was old and not that great to begin with. Regardless, I will not attempt grilling oranges again! The banana was pretty good – The Husband enjoyed it the most. He likes very ripe bananas though and I prefer my bananas to still be a bit green. Grilling the banana simply made the banana sweeter. The real winner though was the strawberry. Heating the strawberry really brought out the natural sweetness. I went back for more.

And then comes dessert. Remember how I mentioned that I want to cut back on sugar? Well…. S’mores don’t count, right? They’re like, a summer right of passage.

Add a grilled strawberry and take your S’more to a whole new level. It tastes to me like chocolate covered strawberries. I only tried the one, but I may try it again with no marshmallows to see how it differs.

Strawberry S'mores

Strawberry S’mores

Black Bean Tortilla Bake

Black Bean Tortilla Bake

Black Bean Tortilla Bake

I’m not big on Mexican food but a while back I was looking for recipes that were somewhat healthy and contained protein that was not meat. The perfect answer? Beans! Apparently beans are super good to eat. Check this out.

I found this recipe on Food.com and was pleasantly surprised by how good it was!

Bonus? It’s super easy to make! Essentially you’re making your own salsa, then adding beans to it. To assemble you’re basically making a lasagna, except you’re layering tortillas, cheese, bean salsa, more cheese, repeat.

DOUBLE BONUS: You can make a couple of these at a time and freeze one for later. The photos in this post were taken while I was making a bunch for my meal swap group.

Here’s what you need to make this the way I make it:

INGREDIENTS

  •  1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped tomato (or 1 8 oz can)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 16 oz can black beans (rinsed & drained)
  • 1 TBSP chopped cilantro
  • salt & pepper
  • soft corn tortillas (number will vary based on size of baking pan, I used maybe 8 per pan, you can use more or less)
  • 8 oz Mexican blend cheese

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350* F
2. Spray large skillet with cooking spray
3. Add onion, garlic, tomato, green onion, cumin & chili powder
4. Cook on medium heat until onion is tender.
5. Add tomato sauce and cook for 5 minutes more.
6. Stir in beans, cilantro, salt & pepper (to taste)

As you can see, I’m a little OCD about the tortillas covering every visible square inch of the pan. I ripped/cut the tortillas but that’s optional.

7. Spray a 9 inch square baking dish with cooking spray.
8. Layer bottom with tortillas, cheese, bean salsa, more cheese
9. Repeat.
10. End with cheese on top of salsa mixture.
11. Bake for 20 minutes, covered, then 10 minutes uncovered or until cheese is bubbly.

 

The above directions are for a smaller tray than my photos. To make a larger pan like I did in the photos, simply double the recipe. Honestly, I just eyeball it.

Enjoy!

Freezer Meal: Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo Freezer Meal

For my meal swap meal this month I opted to make Chicken Broccoli Alfredo.

Easy and delicious!

Here’s what you need per freezer meal:

SHOPPING LIST

– 8 oz broccoli
– 15-16 oz Alfredo Sauce x 2
– 1-2 lbs chicken (I tried for about 1 lb 5 oz)
– 1 med-large onion
– Noodles

Since I was shopping to make 8 meals I ended up buying a 5 lb bag of broccoli from Costco (~$6), a 20 lb bag of chicken from Costco (~$22), 16 jars of alfredo sauce from Aldi ($1.69 each = $27.04), 8 boxes of bow tie noodles (77 cents each = $6.16), 10 lb bag of onions from Costco (~$6)

So, in all I spent roughly $69 (not including sales tax) and got just shy of 8 meals (I didn’t have quite enough chicken for that last bag, which was fine, because that’s the bag for my own freezer and I can add more later.)

INSTRUCTIONS:

To prep for freezer:
Throw broccoli, chicken, chopped up onion in bag. You can add the Alfredo sauce if you want, but it’s just more to thaw later. I leave mine in the jars and labeled the jar “Ck Alf” so I know it’s for the Chicken Alfredo meal and don’t use it for something else.

Don’t forget to label your freezer bag with what’s inside and cooking directions!

To cook:
Throw broccoli, onion, chicken and both jars Alfredo sauce in crock pot. Cook for 4-6 hours on LOW.
Towards the end of the crock pot cook time cook the noodles according to directions on box. Drain water and add noodles to crock pot. Eat and enjoy!

TIP: If you have leftovers you could easily turn this into a chicken alfredo pizza! Find my EASY pizza dough recipe here!

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo Freezer Meal

Check it out! When my eyes began to bleed from chopping up the onions (possibly an over-exaggeration) The Husband came to help me finish up! (And no, he was NOT happy about me taking his photo, which is why he is not looking at the camera! HA!)

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo Freezer Meal

Seven Freezer Meals ready to go! (The eight I didn’t have enough chicken for the bag, so it’s not included.) I also forgot to put the noodles on the table for the photo op. Oops?

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo Freezer Meal

Close up of freezer bag. Bottom layer = chopped onion. Middle layer = frozen broccoli. Top layer = Chicken breasts.

Pizza Bread

I’m a terrible blogger. I know, I know…..

Pizza Bread

This is a recipe I recently made for my meal swap group. The above photo features meatballs, but for my meal swap group we did pepperoni.

SUPER easy and tasty!
You basically take my grandmother-in-laws pizza dough recipe, double it, slice the dough into 6 pieces, roll the dough out, pour on some sauce, put the pepperoni, add the cheese and roll it up (carefully!!!)
For the bread:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Package active dry years
  • 3/4 cup very warm water
  • 2 TBSP Olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour

DIRECTIONS:

1. Add the package of yeast to the water. let sit for 5 minutes as the yeast does its thing. The water should be hot, but not TOO hot – you don’t want to kill the yeast!

2. Add the sugar, salt and oil to the water.

3. Mix in flour. You can either use a mixer (I use my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer) or you can knead by hand, for about 5 minutes.

OPTIONAL: The dough is ESPECIALLY good if you add in some pizza herbs and seasoning! I like to add garlic powder, onion powder, Italian Seasoning, Basil, Oregano, etc. SO yum!
For the sauce I use the recipe here.

Cut the dough

Cut the dough

Putting together the pizza bread!

Putting together the pizza bread!

ASSEMBLING THE BREAD:

1. Divide the dough. Shape it into a nice round (or square) lump and cut in half, then cut each half into thirds. These are just guidelines, you can really make as many or as few as you want. What I like about making them small is that each person can have their own roll, plus when the bread is smaller it cooks quicker!

I have an actual dough cutter (I believe it’s Food Network brand? From Kohl’s?) and I LOVE it! It cuts through the dough SO well and scraps any dough left on the counter right off! You can also use a knife if you don’t have a dough cutter/scraper.

2. Spread out one of the little rolls of dough you cut in the previous step. Spread as THIN as you can without tearing any holes. If you do get a hole you can kind of fold the dough back over and try again. You want it thin though because it’s going to rise a LOT when you bake it!

3. Spread the sauce across the dough. Careful you don’t get too close to the edges or you’ll have a HUGE mess when you go to roll it up!!! If you’re like me and LOVE sauce, you’re going to have to hold yourself back. You can NOT put a lot of sauce in these! You can certainly DIP the bread in some sauce once it’s baked though!

4. Add your toppings. In this case, pepperoni. You can add whatever you want though. Meatballs, onion, peppers, olives, etc.

5. Add the cheese! You can probably even put more than I put on in the photo!

6. Now the messy part! ROLLING the bread! Start at one end and instead of actually ROLLING the bread over, it’s best to sort of FOLD it. I find what’s easiest is to fold it, pinch the edges, fold, pinch, etc. Then at the end you need to seal the edges. Pinch them shut and kind of smooth them over with your finger.

7. Finally you’re ready to bake and eat your creations!

Preheat the oven to 425* and bake for 10-15 minutes. The bake time is going to depend on the size you end up making your bread and your oven. My oven is ancient and terrible so I ALWAYS check the food at the halfway point. Since these times are based on MY oven, keep a close eye on your food!

8. Enjoy! Allow the bread to cool down a bit. When we make it for the kids we always cut it open first to let the inside cool off so they don’t burn their little mouths. I like to heat up some sauce as well to dip mine in because, as I said above, I’m a sauce lover!

FREEZING: I froze these for the meal swap group. I put 3 each in the gallon sized ziplocks. Each person got 6 bread rolls. Thaw completely prior to baking.

Roll the dough! This is a bad example... I had a bit too much sauce, did not pinch the edges as I rolled AND forgot the cheese!!! #FAIL

Roll the dough! This is a bad example… I had a bit too much sauce, did not pinch the edges as I rolled AND forgot the cheese!!! #FAIL

Seal and smooth those edges!

Seal and smooth those edges!

Chebureki… mmmm…..

I hate ground meat. The texture is just…. blech! I can’t eat it!

The husband LOVES ground meat. And we have a bunch in the freezer that I got as a part of  a meat package from Fare For All.

So, I needed to figure out what to do with this stuff. Pinterest to the rescue! I found this awesome recipe called “Lena’s Chebureki Recipe” over at Natasha’s Kitchen. I’m still exploring her blog, but there are a lot of interesting recipes there. Ukrainian and Russian recipes. Recipes I’ve never heard of. Awesome recipes.

The Chebureki recipe sounded super easy and tasty.

Look how good this looks!

Yuummmm! (Don’t look at the bottom one! It ended up a little over-done!)

OK, so this is what you “need” to make Chebureki. (And I use the word “need” lightly because you can modify this recipe to add/subtract anything you want!)

Ingredients:

1. Uncooked Tortillas
2. Ground Meat (Natasha uses half pork, half beef – I prefer turkey myself.)
3. Three (3) TBSP milk
4. One (1) tsp salt
5. 1/4 tsp pepper
6. Green onions (chopped)
7. Fresh Parsley
8. Fresh Cilantro

So, basically, you take your ground meat and mix everything together and the hard part is done!
Lena’s recipe calls for 1 lb of each type of meat (total of 2lbs), but this time I just used 1 lb total. I wasn’t thinking, so I didn’t half any of the other ingredients. (Whoops?) and it still turned out fine. The first time I cooked this, I forgot to add the milk, salt and pepper. Still good! You really can’t mess up this step.

Mix everything together! You really don’t need much of the Parsley and Cilantro. A little bit goes a LONG way. If you buy one bunch of each from the grocery store you’ll still have a TON left over. Now I’m thinking of what I can use it for in other recipes this week!

Once your meat is all mixed together nicely (I used my hands, the spoon does next to nothing!) you’re ready for your tortillas.

It took some searching but I finally found the uncooked tortillas at Costco, in the refrigerated section by the cheese! I’ve heard they also have them at Walmart. They do NOT have them at Target (at least not where I live!) and also not at either of my local grocery stores.Warning: These rip easily – they’re not cooked!
If you can’t find the raw tortillas and still want to try this, you can use soft pre-cooked tortillas but you need to press VERY firmly to get them stuck together. And when you cook them, chances are you’re going to have the meat spill out into the oil and a hot mess to deal with. I’ve been there. They were still delish though!

Lay out your tortilla and GLOB that meat mixture onto half of it, leaving enough space to allow you to seal the ends shut.

Like this! I used the spoon to scoop and gently hold the tortilla down. The spatula worked quite well for spreading the mixture.

Now it’s time to close the shell.
I filled a cup with a little bit of water and dipped my (clean) finger in the water and ran it along the edges of the shell. This helps it stay closed. You can also use egg whites. I was too lazy to do that, though that’s what I use on Won-Tons when I make them.

Careful! Those tortillas will rip! *Evidence*

Fold the tortilla in half and press along the edges with your finger. Then take a fork and press the edge together. As I said above, you don’t want this sucker opening in the oil! Ouch!

Once your Chebureki is sealed you’re ready to cook! You’re going to want a pan filled with enough oil to coat one side of the Chebureki. Place your tortilla in and cook on medium heat about 3 minutes. Then flip and cook the other side for another 3 minutes. I’m not sure if it’s my stove or what, but as I was cooking these the stove seemed to continue to heat up and therefor cooked faster. Keep an eye on it and when its golden brown it should be done. If you’re unsure if the meat is done, you can always stab a meat thermometer through the edge (where it’s sealed) that’s what I did and even when I only cooked 2 minutes on each side the thermometer was still coming up at about 165*.

I used my large pan so that I could cook two at a time and get done quicker! The first time I cooked them I used the small pan that only fit one. It took FOREVER!Note: When you remove each from the hot oil, place on paper towel to absorb the excess oil. I stacked mine like this and it worked like a charm. 

As you can see in the photo above, one Chebureki was put in before the other. I stuck one in, set the timer for the 3 minutes, then prepared the other. When the 3 minutes were up, I flipped the first one and placed the second one in. Set the timer for another 3 minutes. This saved time, prepping the next ones as the last one cooks. The first time I made them I put them all together ahead of time. I’ll be doing it this way again in the future!

My favorite thing about these Chebureki is that they taste SO much like the meat filled Won-Tons of my youth. I LOVE making Won-Tons but they’re so small and it’s a lot of work. With the Chebureki you get the same great taste but with less work!
The Verdict?

Everyone loves these!
Allison and Miranda both ate them up.
I have a way to use up the ground meat now (woohoo!)
And The Husband enjoyed them as well! His only complaint? There’s no “stuff” in the meat, besides the herbs. He’s requested that I add something to separate the meat. We’ve agreed next time to try adding some bean sprouts (yuummmm) or maybe some shredded carrot.

The first time I made these I also added tomato to mine and that was delish.

Oh, and these are great dipped in Sweet and Sour Sauce if you’re like me…. or hot sauce if you’re like The Husband!

Allison chowing down!

Miranda is my little carnivore. She ended up pulling the meat right out of the shell and eating just that! *smh*

DIRECTIONS:
1. Combine ingredients in bowl, stir (or use hands to mush together.)
2. Place along half of tortilla, allowing rough space to close it.
3. Rub water along edges of tortilla and close shut. Use fork to press sides together.
4. Pre-heat oil on stove – medium heat – then add tortillas, flipping after about 3 minutes. It should be golden brown.
5. Cook second side for about 3 minutes until golden brown.
6. Place on paper towel to blot off excess oil. Cook next Chebureki.
7. Enjoy! (Careful! They’re hot!)

Note: I’m not sure how well these freeze yet. I saved 2 1/2 tonight and froze them. I’ll try baking them in the oven to re-heat them soon and see how they turn out!

Mini-Pot Pies

I love this recipe!!!

I found it on Pinterest as part of a collection of recipes using muffin tins: 24 Awesome Muffin Tin Recipes.  There are a bunch of recipes on here that I plan on trying, but I ended up going for the Chicken Pot Pies first. You can find the original recipe over at Quick Dish.

This is what the recipe says you need, followed by what I actually used.

  • 1 Chicken breast, poached and diced (I just used a can of chicken chunks, found next to the tuna at the grocery store.)
  • 1 can of cream of chicken soup (they say 14.5 oz, but as far as I know they only sell the 10.5 oz size and it worked just fine.)
  • 1 cup frozen mixed veggies (I used carrots, peas and beans.)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese.
  • 1 tbs Herbs De Provence (I didn’t have this so I just mixed 1/4 tsp of the following dried herbs that I already had in my spice rack: Savory, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Basil, Marjoram, then measured out 1 tbs out of that mixture. I’ll hang onto the rest and use it later for more of this, or something else!)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic salt (Not powder! Salt! There’s a HUGE difference! If you use powder it’s going to be WAY more garlicy vs using the salt!)
  • 2 (10 oz) cans Pillsbury biscuits. (I can’t bring myself to spend the money on something like this, when I can easily make it myself! I ended up using this recipe I found over at Pinch My Salt – I’ll go over that at the end!)

The pot pies were SO easy to make!

1. Preheat oven to 400. 

2. In a medium sized bowl, dump in everything except the biscuits (obviously.) Mix well.

3. Lightly grease your muffin tin and press the biscuits in. I kind of pressed in with my fingers and pulled it around the side.

Push them in even more than this. I forgot to take a photo when I was done pressing them in. Whoops?

4. Spoon the mixture into each biscuit, filling a lot. 

Fill ’em up! Then keep going!

5. Bake for 15 minutes. My oven is ancient and I don’t trust it, so I usually check at 7 minutes and go from there.

6. Let cool a few minutes and enjoy! You should be able to pop these out with your fingers, but if that doesn’t work you can always slide a knife along the side to get some leverage.

Enjoy! I cut the kids in half to make it easier for them to take bites out of, but I kept mine whole and enjoyed it just like a cupcake!

After everyone had eaten we had 2 biscuits remaining (I believe this made 9 pot pies… using the non-pre-packaged biscuits) – I froze the left-overs and I’m hoping they re-heat well!

Part 2: Biscuits

As I mentioned above, I got my biscuit recipe from Pinch My Salt. I don’t see the point in buying biscuits from the grocery store when they’re SO easy to make!

The following is Pinch My Salt’s recipe, with my minor changes next to it.

  • 1 & 1/4 cup cake flour (I didn’t want to shell out the extra cash for cake flour, so the internet taught me that for each cup of All-Purpose flour simply remove 2 TBSP of the flour and replace with 2 TBSP of corn starch. I did that for the first cup of flour, then for the 1/4 cup I filled my 1/2 TBSP measuring spoon half full (do they even MAKE 1/4 TBSP measuring spoons???) and then filled the rest of the way with all purpose flour.)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour.
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder.
  • 1/2 tsp salt.
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut into small chunks.
  • 3/4 Cup buttermilk (I don’t buy my own. I just took 1 tbsp of lemon juice – or you can use white vinegar – let sit for at least 5 minutes, I stirred mine but I don’t know if you actually have to… and ta-da! Buttermilk! I froze in an ice cube tray the left-over. 1 TBSP in each cube.)

To cook the biscuits on their own, the recipe says to bake at 500*. In my recipe above, they cooked just fine as the pot pie base cooking at around 400* but if I make them again as just biscuits, I’ll bake at 500*.

Here are the steps to making the biscuits: (Her works, not mine, I’ll ask my notes in parentheses.)

1. Cut butter into small chunks, place in bowl and return to fridge.

2. Measure out buttermilk and set aside.

3. Sprinkle flour on a work surface and have extra flour nearby for your hands and biscuit cutter. Have biscuit cutter and an ungreased baking sheet handy.

4. Mix dough: In a medium-large bowl, wisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well blended. (I used a fork.)

Feel free to delegate your mixing! Allison was happy to help with both pouring in the ingredients and mixing!

5. Add butter and cut into flour using a pastry blender, two knives or your fingertips, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (I found my fingers to work best. I have never used a pastry blender, but I’ve used forks in the past and it was terrible! I’m using my hands from now on!)

6. Pour in buttermilk and stir lightly until dough comes together in a ball.

7. Dump dough mixture onto well floured work surface. With floured hands, lightly knead dough a few times until it is fairly well blended. Pat into a circle, 3/4-1 inch thick (I didn’t measure mine, I guesstimated.)

8. Dip cutter into flour and cut biscuits without twisting the cuter. (Yeah… I don’t have a cutter…. I searched the kitchen for an object that was roughly the same size as the muffin tin openings and came up with the lid for a kid’s cup from Olive Garden. I pressed it in pretty hard, then tore around the “perforated” circle.)

My make-shift biscuit cutter. Thanks Olive Garden! It worked out perfectly!

Removed the lid and tore the dough from around the circle. Worked great!

9. Once I’d cut everything out, I re-rolled the scraps and cut again. The small remaining piece of dough I just made into a ball and placed in an open muffin slot and baked as a tiny biscuit. (For the pot pies above.)

10. Bake biscuits: place baking sheet in the middle of a preheated 500 degree oven and bake 8-10 minutes until they are golden brown. Remove biscuits to a wire rack to cool for a few minutes. Enjoy!

Meal Planning + Music Obsession

First of all, I wanted to share with you my newest musical obsession.

Christina Perri.

She is by no means a brand new artist, you probably have heard her song “Jar of Hearts” and, if you’re a Twilight fan, her song “A Thousand Years.”

Anyway, after buying Twilight, Breaking Dawn Part 2 and listening to the “A Thousand Years Part 2” in the credits I decided to listen to it on YouTube. While doing so I discovered a playlist of her videos so I gave them a listen. I’m HOOKED.

Here’s her video for “Arms” which I absolutely LOVE!

Now, on to meal planning!!!

I’ve heard this concept in the past, but as someone who never cooked anything more complicated than Macaroni and Cheese (from the Blue Box of course!) or a burger on the George Foreman Grill, it didn’t make sense to me. However, now that I am officially a work at home mom (except when I do my sampling job on the weekends of course) I have the time to dedicate to cooking, as I’ve been trying to share on this blog….. though I don’t post nearly enough!

So, this is how I meal plan.

I start with an Excel document on my computer (you could use a notebook, white board, word doc, whatever is most convenient for you!)

I list across the top each day of the week. Then I start choosing recipes to make.

For us, Wednesday is dance night, so I take Allison to dance class around 5 and we don’t get back until a little after 6. The Husband doesn’t get home from work until a little after 6. This is not good when you have two small, hungry kids who need to get to bed around 7 pm or they lose it. Therefor, this has become crcokpot night. (Unless I’m bad and forget to thaw the food for the crock pot, then it usually becomes PB&J night…)

Alright, so back to the list, we’ve got a row with the days of the week.
Below that we have a row with each recipe listed under the days of the week.
Under THAT I copy and paste the ingredients list.
From the ingredients list, I go through each item and make sure I have it. If I don’t, I add it to the grocery shopping list.

My favorite things about meal planning are:

1. The Husband can’t complain about eating chicken every night of the week because I’ve already thought ahead and thought up alternatives. (Side note: I find it interesting that he didn’t complain when we ate pasta almost every night for about 3 weeks straight…. hmm…… )

And

2. Believe it or not, this has cut down on the grocery spending!!! In the past we would spend $80-$100+ each week on groceries. EACH. WEEK! That’s crazy! This was even before Miranda was born! What were we spending all of that hard earned cash on? I can’t even tell you! The worst part was that we would get home from the store and say “…there’s nothing to eat…”  Right now I’m spending about $40-$50 per week. This amount will go down I’m sure as I accumulate the basics for my kitchen. It’s not every week I’m going to need to buy All-Purpose Flour or Rice Vinegar. Those little things add up, but once you’ve got them, you’re set for a while!

So, to select the recipes for the meal planning I usually just turn to Pinterest. (You can follow me here: http://pinterest.com/carolineandrus ) I’ve got a bunch of yummies pinned already and if I think of something that I want to make, or want to cook with, I look it up. If I don’t find what I’m looking for I turn to Swagbucks (that’s my search engine of choice, I earn points towards prizes – such as Amazon gift cards! – simply for searching the Internet! Sign up link on the left side bar! You won’t be disappointed!)

After I’ve made and eaten each recipe, if it’s a new one, I type up whether we liked it or not, or if I want to make any changes for cooking it in the future.

You can also plan ahead to make a double batch each night and freeze for the future. Right now I’m still testing new recipes, so I’m not committed to freezing them yet! Once I do repeat a recipe I will certainly try to freeze it for later!

So there you have it! That’s how I meal plan! Mind you, I’m still getting into the habit of doing it. I’ve planned this week out (“World’s Best Chicken”, Chinese Pork Chow Mein, Stuffed Bell Peppers, Mini Lasagna Cups, Chicken Pot Pie Cupcakes) but failed to do so last week, resulting in every night going “I don’t know what to make…..”, but I planned the week prior with great success (in spite of the fact that I’ve been sick as can be!)

If you’re a reader of my recipe failures/successes, I’m going to be sharing Caramel Apple Pork Chops soon (or as I like to call them, Apple Pie Pork Chops!) as well as some yummy Sweet and Sour Meatballs and delish Orange Chicken!

Lasagna Rolls

I’ve been scouring Pinterest for recipes that sound appetizing. I’ve found many, many chicken recipes but The Husband complained that he was getting sick of chicken.

Soooo I decided to try a ground beef recipe. The Husband loves lasagna so when I found this recipe for Lasagna rolls I thought it would be fun to try.

Lasagna Rolls

Lasagna Rolls

It was fairly easy to make.

Brown the meat (I opted for ground turkey because I’m not a big beef fan.) I didn’t use any oil in the pan, just threw the meat in, turned the heat to medium (about 6-7 on my ancient stove!)

Meanwhile, in a saucepan I cooked the lasagna noodles. If you like your noodles softer, I recommend cooking them longer than recommended. Mine were a little too hard in the end.

After you drain the noodles, lay them out on your pan (I lined my pan in foil for easy clean up.)

Back to the meat, once it’s thoroughly cooked through and browned, add some of your pasta sauce. Then take a scoop of the meat/sauce and line the noodle with it. Don’t put too much or you won’t be able to roll it. I put some plain sauce on top of the meat because I like a lot of sauce – then add the shredded mozzarella cheese.

Bake uncovered at 400° for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the rolls are heated through.

 

The verdict? The kids liked them, but they pulled them apart. They sure look pretty, but they’re not practical for kids. They were fun to make, but honestly, it probably would have been easier to just make a regular lasagna dish.

I did not care for them, but I’ve never been a fan of loose ground meat. The texture just… blech!

The Husband liked them, his only minor complaint was about the noodles not being cooked enough (as I mentioned above.)

 

Would I make these again?

I think if we had leftover ground meat and noodles lying around and The Husband wanted lasagna, I would probably make some for him, while making myself some veggie or chicken ones.

These would also be fairly easy to freeze I imagine!

Honey Mustard Chicken with Rosemary

Tonight was one of those nights where I didn’t put a lot of thought into chicken.
OK, let’s face it, most nights I don’t and we end up eating sandwiches or hot dogs or some other from a box meal.

I had planned on getting to the grocery store yesterday to pick up some veggies and what not to try out another recipe from Pinterest or one of my many cookbooks (that I’ve barely glanced at in the almost 6 years of my marriage….)

Yeah… that didn’t happen. I went to get my oil changed on Thursday. While I was there they mentioned that my two front tires were looking pretty worn and would need them replaced soon. They gave me a quote and basically said that I was welcome to shop around but I knew where to find them. They were going to rotate my tires but returned a bit later with the bad news that when one of the tires was last put on, whoever did it, (Tires Plus I’m pretty sure…. ) misthread the screw or some other car talk, which basically meant that if they tried to force it off they could strip the screw, or worse – break it completely. So they didn’t.

So, Friday I needed to pick up a baby shower gift because we were supposed to get hit with a snowstorm on Saturday so I couldn’t do it any other time. I packed the kids in the car, we drove to Target, we did our shopping, I loaded everything and everyone in the car and we started to drive. We made it to the neighboring parking lot and the car was sounding strange so I pulled into the neighboring credit union’s parking lot and alas, flat. Completely flat. No question about it.

I call my husband, who had just gotten home from his new  job and was getting ready to head to work at his old job (he’s doing the two job thing right now, poor guy.) He eventually called into work to let them know he’d make it when he could and made his way over to me. Tried to get the car jacked up and…. it tilts. So he assumes he has it in the wrong spot and takes it down and tried again. Now it falls completely. And all while he’s trying we’re watching pieces of the frame of my car crumble. It’s a 1995 so that’s not too surprising, but it was not a pretty site. Sorry credit union parking lot! We didn’t mean to leave you all of those presents!!!

In the end, he carefully drove it back to the Target lot where I obtained permission from the manager to have it left in the lot as long as all weekend until we could get it figured out. Finally today, using a higher quality jack from my dad, my hubby was able to jack the car up and get the spare tire on. We loaded the kids in his car, went and picked up the car and drove it home. I’m not driving it, especially in the bad snow that started today, until I get a “real” tire on it! But that’s a job hopefully for tomorrow.
So, long story short, I couldn’t drive because my car had a flat.

Sooooo when it came to dinner tonight I had to figure out what I could throw together that wouldn’t take many ingredients. I flipped through my Betty Crocker 4 Ingredient Meals cookbook (which is misleading, because some do require more than 4… and some less!) and they had grilled honey mustard chicken in there. We don’t have much honey left… but we do have honey mustard! So I simply stuck the chicken breasts on the grill pan on my stove top. I used a basting brush to brush on the honey mustard on both sides, then let it sit for a few minutes. I took that time to do a quick internet search to find out what herbs/spices went well with honey mustard – we bought a spice rack a while back and really only use about 3 kinds that are in there! I found a recipe that used both honey mustard and rosemary so that was it. I just sprinkled some rosemary over the honey mustard mixture, flipped and sprinkled again. I didn’t taste much of it, so I probably should have used more. But it didn’t deter from the taste at all!

This was the end result:

Honey Mustard Chicken

Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken

Mmm…. on a burger bun with onion, ketchup and more honey mustard! We served this with mashed potatoes because The Big One insisted on mashed potatoes with dinner tonight.

So easy. And yummy. And amazingly I managed to pretty much cook it to perfection – it was not dry at all!

Step 1. Place chicken on grill (or grill pan on stove top.)

Step 2. Baste chicken with honey mustard, sprinkle with rosemary. Flip over and baste/sprinkle the other side.

Step 3. Cook chicken, flipping every few minutes. Cook until juices run clear and the meat is no longer pink in the middle. Tip: Cut into the fattest part of each chicken breast to ensure it’s cooked all the way through.

Step 4. Enjoy!

Oh! And to add, my picky daughter loved this! The baby, who is not so picky, loved it as well.