Monday, December 26, 2011

Our Dinner Menu Plan

Well Christmas has past and we are almost ready to start a new year. I hope everyone had a very merry and relaxing Christmas.

My husband helped me plan are dinner menu for this week because he wanted something specific for New Year's Eve dinner.

My plan for next year is to have better images and more healthy recipes for you.

Happy New Year to all of you!

Our Dinner Menu

Monday - Green Eggs and Ham with Toast and Fruit Salad

Tuesday - Crock Pot Pumpkin Chili with Honey Cornbread Muffins

Wednesday - Pasta with Olives, Garlic and Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Homemade Breadsticks

Thursday - Ham and Spinach Rolls with a Side Salad

Friday - Tuna Burgers, Tater Tots and Green Beans

Saturday - Shrimp Kabobs, Risotto, and Steamed Broccoli

Sunday - Pressure- Cooker Chicken (Whole), Roasted Vegetables and Black-Eyed Peas

*I received a pressure cooker for Christmas so I am excited about using it for the first time this week.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Italian Beef Wraps

I don't know if many of you know this, but I am a super thrifty shopper, especially when it comes to grocery shopping. In my travels I came across a half priced piece of beef roast.

Since I had this roast on hand it was now time to search for recipes for pot roast. I stumbled across a couple of recipes for crock pot roast. I know my kids will not eat crock pot roast by itself, so I decided to put it into whole wheat tortillas and make a wrap.

These wraps were so simple and an absolute treat. I will now be adding them to our family favorite recipes.

Italian Beef Wraps


2-3 lbs Chuck roast beef
1/2 Good Seasoning Italian mix package
2 Tbsp beef broth
2 Tbsp Ken's herb & garlic marinade (optional)
1 Tsp pepper
Whole wheat tortillas
Sour cream
Diced tomatoes
1/2 Cup shredded cheese (cheddar, colby-jack or mexican)

Place roast in crock pot and cover roast with Italian mix, beef broth and marinade. Cook for 6-8 hours on low.

Shred beef and place a small amount in each tortilla. Top with sour cream, tomatoes, and cheese.

Roll tortilla tight and place on a hot skillet. Brown on each side. Cut in half and serve.

I served these tortillas with a side salad.

*Since my husband and I love spicy food we also topped our tortillas with jalapenos.

Grandma's Pecan Pie

A friend of mine asked me to post a recipe for Pecan Pie. Although, I usually try to keep things somewhat healthy on this blog, I had to make an exception for Grandma's Pecan Pie.

My mom is bringing this same Pecan Pie to our Christmas gathering on Sunday. My mouth is watering right now to taste it. I don't think I have had it since last year.

I hope you enjoy it!

Grandma's Pecan Pie


3 Eggs, slightly beaten
1 Cup dark corn syrup
1/4 Cup sugar
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 Tsp vanilla
1 1/2-2 Cups pecan, crushed or broken (My mom says she uses 2 cups, but my grandma insists on 1 1/2 cups - you decide)
1 Deep dish pie crust (9-inch)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine all ingredients and put into pie crust. Cook for about 40-50 minutes. This time may vary quite a bit depending on your oven so keep checking the pie. If you tap the center of the pie very lightly it should spring back. It will completely set after cooling.

*Tip - If the edges of the pie crust are browning more than you like you may over them with aluminum foil.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pineapple Stuffing

My mother-in-law makes this incredible Pineapple Stuffing that I am dying to share with all of you. It goes perfectly paired with Christmas ham.

A few years ago I made it for my family for Christmas and they thought it was fantastic.

If you get a chance to make this delightful recipe I would love to know what you think.

Pineapple Stuffing


4 Cups bread cubes (use white or wheat)
1/2 Cup butter, melted
1 Cup sugar (I usually use 3/4 of a cup instead)
4 Eggs, beaten
1 Cup milk
1 Large can crushed pineapple, undrained (I think it is the 20 oz can)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Mix everything together and bake uncovered for 35-45 minutes or top is slightly brown.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Our Dinner Menu Plan

Since this week is a rather busy time for most of us, I figured I would not make too many new recipes, but stick with some old family favorites.

With Christmas approaching I hope you will take the time to rest and enjoy family and friends, as well as reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ.

Have a very Merry Christmas!

Our Dinner Menu Plan

Monday - Chicken Tacos with Mexican Rice and Peas (I did decrease the salt to 3/4 tsp)

Tuesday - Tuna Balls, Homemade Fries, and Mustard Greens

- Vegetarian Tortilla Casserole

Thursday - Italian Beef Wraps with a Salad

- Homemade Pizza

- Spinach Eggs with Bacon, Wheat Toast and Clementines

- Honey Ham, Pineapple Stuffing and Beer Braised Collard Greens - these collard greens were the best I have ever had. My entire southern family thought so too.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Carrot Satay Soup - Crock Pot

After reading a favorite food blog of mine I became interested in Marscapone cheese. I set out to the grocery store and purchased it in hopes that I would find a savory recipe that I could incorporate it into.

After using half of my container of Mascarpone to make Twice Baked Potato Casserole, I still had the other half that I could use for another recipe.

I searched the internet for savory recipes that might include Mascarpone. I found Carrot Satay Soup on and loved the ingredients. The fact that I could use my crock pot was just an added bonus.

This recipe was a huge success! It is a delight to your taste buds and the toasted sesame seeds give it a nutty crunch.

The only change I made to this recipe is that I used 2 cups of chicken broth and 1 cup of vegetable broth. Next time I think I will use 3 cups of vegetable broth instead of chicken since it costs me less.

I will rewrite the recipe below for your convenience, but it can also be found here.

Carrot Satay Soup


3 Cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 Cups carrots , sliced
1 Cup onion , chopped
1/2 Cup celery , chopped
2 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Garlic cloves , minced
2 Tsp gingerroot , grated
1/2 Tsp salt
1/8 Tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 Cup Mascarpone cheese , softened
3 Tbsp peanut butter , smooth
1 Tbsp soy sauce
Toasted sesame seeds

Combine the first nine ingredients in a crock pot and cook for 5-6 hours on low or until vegetables are tender.

Add Mascarpone, peanut butter and soy sauce and heat through.

Transfer to food processor and pulse until smooth.

Place in individual bowls, topped with toasted sesame seeds and serve with Naan.

*You may also cook on high in the crock pot for 2-3 hours if you are pressed for time.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mexican Salad

A friend of mine gave me a recipe for Mexican Salad that has become such a family favorite that I had to share it.

This Mexican Salad has just the right amount of kick to excite your taste buds. After trying bites of the cucumber and celery in the salad I was able to get my youngest son to eat a couple of the tomatoes too (which are not his favorite).

I used the vegetables I had on hand, but this salad is pretty versatile so you can use whatever vegetables your family likes.

Mexican Salad


1 Ripe tomato, chopped
1 Cucumber, remove seeds and cut into bite-size chunks
1/2 medium red onion, chopped (I used white instead)
1 Bell pepper, red or green, cut into bite-size chunks (I did not have a pepper so I left it out)
1 Rib celery, chopped
1/2 Jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped (I left out because of the kids)
1 Tbsp cilantro or fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 Tsp hot sauce
1/2 Tsp cumin
The juice of 1 lime
1-2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine vegetables in bowl. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro or parsley. Dress salad with hot sauce, lime juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss salad and adjust seasonings to taste.

Great side dish with tacos or quesadillas.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

My kids do not like potatoes, unless they are sweet potatoes. I can not get them to eat mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes, or baked potatoes. They will however eat french fries, baked or fried.

Well Saturday night I decided to change our menu plan because I found two ribeyes on sale for $8. I think potatoes go super well with steak, so I was determined to put together something with potatoes that my kids would eat.

I came up with Twice Baked Potato Casserole because it had some of their favorite items, cheese and bacon. I have tried twice baked potatoes in their own peeling which did not go over well at all.

The verdict for the Twice Baked Potato Casserole; my husband, myself and oldest son loved it, but my youngest still was not impressed. I think that is a win because three year olds are just incredibly picky anyway.

Twice Baked Potato Casserole


2 1/2 lbs Red potatoes, diced (I left the skin on)
4 oz Mascarpone or cream cheese
1/2 Cup fat-free sour cream
4 Tbsp Bestlife butter
1/3 Cup of skim milk
1 tsp Salt
1/2 Cup cheddar cheese
4 Slices of bacon (cooked and chopped)
1 Tbsp green onions (optional)

Boil potatoes in water until you can pierce a fork through them.

Mash potatoes with a potato masher. Add cheeses, sour cream, butter, milk, salt, and bacon.

Cook at 350° for 20-30 minutes or until lightly brown on top.

Top with green onions if desired.

Our Dinner Menu Plan

While trimming the tree, and wrapping gifts I hope you still have time to make your menu plans for the week. Don't let all the rushing around cause you get off track.

We are having some pretty simple, flavorful menu items for our dinner plan. Maybe you can give one of our items a try.

I plan to post a few new recipes this week, but most of the ones listed below are our family favorites.

Our Dinner Menu Plan

Monday - White Turkey Chili with Cornbread

Tuesday - Baked Ziti (Meatless) with Parmesan Broccoli

Wednesday - Baked Potato Soup and Fruit

Thursday - Chicken Quesadilla and Mexican Salad

Friday - Cheeseburgers, Tater Tots, and Green Beans

Saturday - Carrot Satay Soup with a Side Salad and Bread

Sunday - Leftovers

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tomato Shells Soup with Spinach

People who do not even like to cook can whip up this recipe for Tomato Shells Soup with Spinach in a matter of minutes.

Impress your family, by making them think you slaved hours over the stove preparing this soup.

Say you do like to cook, well some days you just don't have time to prepare an elaborate dinner or maybe your feeling a little under the weather.

Whatever the situation may be Tomato Shells Soup with Spinach is a simple dinner or lunch that will warm your heart and your belly.

Tomato Shells Soup with Spinach


4 Cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used homemade vegetable broth)
2 1/2 Cups tomato juice
1 Tsp oregano
2 Cups shells or alphabet pasta
1-2 Cups chopped spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated parmesan (optional)

Combine broth and tomato juice in a large stockpot. Heat until boiling. Add pasta and oregano and cook according to directions on pasta box. Add spinach on the last minute of cooking.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve in individual bowls, topped with grated parmesan and a slice of your favorite fresh bread.

Crock Pot Chicken & Stuffing

If you did not get enough turkey and stuffing for Thanksgiving, then I have the perfect recipe for you.

Not only is this recipe simple and delicious, but it reminds me of the holiday season.

Things tend to get pretty rushed around this time of year. You can still have a great hearty, comforting meal without all the hassle by using your crock pot.

Crock Pot Chicken & Stuffing


1 Package herb-seasoned stuffing mix
1 Celery stalk, chopped
1/2 Onion, chopped
1 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 Cups broth or water (I used vegetable broth)
1 Hard boiled egg, chopped (optional)
4 to 6 Boneless chicken breasts or thighs (I used thighs because that is what I had on hand)
1 Can cream of chicken soup
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter in a medium saucepan at medium heat. Add celery and onion. Cook until translucent.

Add broth or water and heat to a boil. Remove from heat and add stuffing mix. Let sit for about 5 minutes.

Add chopped egg if using and about 1/4 cup of cream of chicken soup. Stir to combine.

Spray crock pot with cooking spray. Place prepared stuffing on the bottom of crock pot. Add chicken. Here is where I added a few dashes of pepper. Cover chicken with the remaining cream of chicken soup.

Cook for about 5-7 hours on low.

I served this with canned green beans and a fresh roll.

*Sorry I was unable to get pictures of the chicken & stuffing. It was a hectic night and the kids were so hungry that it slipped my mine.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Smoked Sausage with Almond Cream Pasta

Do you ever have one of those days when you just can't focus? That is what happened to me when I started making this Smoked Sausage with Almond Cream recipe.

I ended up not really following much of the original recipe, but only by mistake. The good news is that it turned out great and the kids loved it.

This recipe reminds me of Carbonara, with the use of the eggs and the parmesan. Carbonara is a family favorite that was introduced to us from my sister-in-law after visiting Italy for a month.

Smoked Sausage with Almond Cream Pasta


1 lb Pasta of your choice (I used angel hair)
2 Garlic cloves, minced
8 oz Frozen or no salt canned peas
1 Tbsp olive oil
14 oz Smoked Sausage, sliced (I used Creta Farms)
1 Small green or red pepper
1/2 Cup silvered almonds (I forgot to toast them so you may toast them if you like)
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 Cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp pepper

Heat a large pot of water to boiling, add some salt and garlic. Cook according to pasta instructions. Add peas the last minute or two of cooking.

While pasta is cooking add olive oil to skillet and heat to medium. Add smoked sausage and green pepper and cook for about 5 minutes. You just want to get a little brown on the sausage.

In a food processor, grind almonds and 1/2 cup of water until creamy.

Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl, stir in almond cream, parmesan, salt and pepper.

Drain pasta and return to pot. Add almond mixture and stir to coat, allowing the heat from the pasta to cook the eggs.

Add smoked sausage mixture and continue to stir.

Serve with a fresh salad and/or bread.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Our Dinner Menu Plan

Two weeks ago I was sick with some kind of sinus/allergy problem. Well, today it looks like I am sick again, but this time it seems to be much worse.

Since I am not feeling well, I thought it would be best to keep our dinner menu simple and easy. The recipes I have selected are some of our hassle-free favorites.

Our Dinner Menu Plan

Monday - Crock pot Chicken & Stuffing with Green Beans

Tuesday - Tomato Shells Soup with Spinach and Fresh Bread

Wednesday - Refried Beans, Rice, Wholly Guacamole and Cooked Bananas

Thursday - Homemade Chicken Nuggets, Tater Tots and Carrots

Friday - Cheese Tortilla Pizza and Fruit Salad

Saturday - Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwiches with Broccoli Mac 'n' Cheese and Spinach Chips

Sunday - Leftovers

*I will try and post recipes for these menu items throughout the week. These are all subject to change.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore

My husband and I were talking about how we have never had Chicken Cacciatore. I don't know why it popped into my head that this was the week I was going to make it for the first time.

I did a little research to understand exactly what ingredients make Chicken Cacciatore. It is usually prepared with green peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, and herbs. In Northern Italy they make Cacciatore with red wine and Southern Italy makes it with white wine.

Traditionally, Chicken Cacciatore is braised, but I decided to use my trusty crock pot. I told you how much I love my crock pot, right?

I hope you enjoy my take on Chicken Cacciatore.

Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore


3 Large frozen chicken breasts (more if your crockpot will hold them)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Medium onion, sliced in strips
1 Large green pepper, sliced in strips
1 Package of fresh mushrooms
1 Carrot, shredded
3 Garlic cloves, minced
1 28 oz Can crushed tomatoes (I used the fresh roma tomatoes I canned over the summer)
1-2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 Tsp Parsley
2 Tbsp fresh basil (I frozen fresh basil over the summer in ice cubes with a touch of olive oil)
2 Tbsp red wine
Salt and pepper to taste
Couple shakes of red pepper (optional)

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, green pepper, mushrooms, and carrot. Cook until vegetables are soft. Add garlic and spices and cook for an additional minute.

Add tomato paste and stir to combine with vegetables. Once combined add crushed tomatoes. Add red wine and stir.

Spray crock pot with cooking spray. Salt and pepper chicken and add to crock pot.

Add sauce to the crock pot to cover the chicken.

Cook on low for 5-7 hours.

Serve over your favorite pasta and a side of fresh bread. Enjoy!

*If sauce is too thick add some water. If it is too thin add more tomato paste.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Broccoli Cheese Soup in Bread Bowls

Our family loves broccoli cheese soup, but I have never thought about serving them in bread bowls until this past week.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday we went to Panera Bread for dinner one night and both of my sister-in-law's step-children got broccoli cheese soup in a bread bowl. My three year old kept begging for bites from the other kids. That is when it clicked, maybe I should put our favorite broccoli cheese soup in a bread bowl as well.

The kids came to the dinner table tonight and said "Wow mommy this looks delicious". It was a complete hit.

Broccoli Cheese Soup in Bread Bowls


2 Tbsp Bestlife Butter
1 Small onion, diced
1 Carrot, diced
1 Celery, diced
1 lb Fresh broccoli (you may use frozen if you like)
2 Cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 Cup fat-free milk
1/2 lb Velvetta 2% milk cheese, cut into cubes

Heat large stockpot on medium heat and add butter. Once butter has melted add onion, carrot, celery and broccoli. Cook until vegetables soften.

Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

Transfer to food processor and pulse until vegetables are broken down the way your family likes. Add back to stockpot.

Add milk, cheese and pepper. Cook on low until heated through and stir often to prevent cheese from burning to the bottom. I would not suggest adding salt because their is plenty of salt in the cheese and broth.

Serve in individual bread bowls. The recipe I used for the bread bowls was perfect for holding soup however it did have some deflating issues after rising. You can see in the picture below what I mean by deflating (look at the dough on the left).

As I am writing this I am still very full from this soup. It is super hearty and filling. Enjoy!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cheddar and Cracker Chicken

My kids love crackers; wheat thins, Ritz, saltines, you name it they would pick them over any other food. When I came across a recipe for Cheddar and Cracker Chicken I knew we had to give it a try. This recipe may not be healthiest one, but I guarantee it is scrumptious.

I changed a few of the ingredients to make this chicken recipe a little healthier (see below).

Cheddar and Cracker Chicken

16 Whole wheat Ritz crackers, crushed
4 oz Finely shredded cheddar cheese (I used 2% milk cheddar cheese)
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1-2 Scallions, thinly sliced
6 Thinly sliced boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 Tbsp Bestlife butter, melted
1/3 Tsp pepper

Heat oven to 350°. Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

In shallow bowl combine the crackers, cheese, garlic, scallions, and pepper.

Dip the thinly sliced chicken in butter and then the cracker mixture. Place on foiled baking sheet.

Sprinkle any remaining cracker mixture and butter on top of chicken pieces.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes. I also turned the broiler on for the last minute to get the tops of the chicken crispy and brown.

I served with fresh corn and canned green beans.

*All family members gave this Cheddar and Cracker Chicken a thumbs up!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Crock Pot Ranch Chicken Calzones

I am not sure if I can call these little creations calzones or not. They did not come out quite like I had hoped, but boy did the filling inside taste scrumptious.

Right before Thanksgiving I started to have some allergy and sinus issues. I honestly just wanted to order out for dinner, but I stuck with my dinner menu plan and prepared Crock Pot Ranch Chicken Calzones. The dough did not form as I would have liked therefore, each calzone has it's own unique shape.

Crock Pot Ranch Chicken Calzones

1/2 Cup herb & garlic marinade

1/2 Cup light ranch dressing

1/4 Cup water

3-4 Frozen chicken breasts

Spray crock pot with cooking spray.

Combine marinade, dressing and water. Start out adding a tablespoon of water at a time. If it seems watery do not add as much water as recipe suggests. Some ranch dressings can be rather watery already.
Place frozen chicken breasts in crock pot and cover with marinade mixture.

Cook on low for about 6-8 hours.

While chicken is cooking you can make the dough for the calzones. I followed
Fleischmann's Whole Wheat Pizza Crust Recipe for the dough. After dough is formed, I rolled it out and cut into calzone style shapes.

Once chicken is complete, shred it and stir to combine sauce and chicken. Fill the middle of each calzone shape with chicken mixture and top with mozzerella cheese.

Pull one side of the dough over to meet the other side of the dough and seal. I used the end of a fork and pressed the sides together all the way around.

Place in the oven and bake at 425° for about 12-15 mins.

*Crock Pot Ranch Chicken can definitely stand alone if you don't want to make calzones. Next time I am going to serve it alone with sides.

Sun-Dried Tomato & Spinach Stroganoff

Some recipes that I come across I use as an idea or a starting point to form my own recipes based on our family's tastes. However, sometimes I find a recipe that is just right and needs no additions or deletions.

In the 2011 December issue of All You magazine a reader submitted a dinner recipe for under $10. It sounded like a great recipe for our vegetarian dinner nights so I thought we would give it try.

My husband actually ended up making this dinner instead of me because I was running late and did not make it home in time to start dinner.

Sun-Dried Tomato and Spinach Stroganoff

12 oz Egg noodles
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Medium onion, sliced
3 Cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tsp paprika
1/2 Tsp nutmeg
8 oz Mushrooms, sliced
1/2 Cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 Cup vegetable or chicken broth
3 Cups spinach, chopped
1 1/2 Cups sour cream
1 Tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 Tsp tabasco sauce
salt and pepper

Boil noodles in a large pot of salted water as directed.

Warm oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until almost translucent. Add garlic, mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and add spices. Saute until mushrooms brown. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes.

Pour broth, raise the heat to high. When it boils, reduce the heat to medium and cook until liquid reduces by 1/3. Mix in spinach and cook for one minute.

Remove from heat and add sour cream, Worcestershire, and tabasco sauce.

Serve over noodles. Enjoy!

(My wonderful husband cooking dinner)

The overall consensus was that this was a pretty good vegetarian meal. It was not knock your socks off fantastic, but very tasty indeed.

Our Dinner Menu Plan

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We spent our Thanksgiving at my sister-in-laws beautiful home in Virginia. Each year her and her husband have a turkey tasting competition. She makes a traditional style oven turkey and her husband makes a non-traditional fried turkey. The fried turkey had an amazing Cajun outside skin and the traditional turkey was super juicy and moist. I have to say that both of the turkeys were so good that it was really hard to pick a winner.

This is the first year that I had a sweet potato casserole with unique flavors like cardamon and lemon zest. If I can get the recipe for this casserole I will certainly post it.

Now it is time to get back to normal life, so let me get started by posting our dinner menu plan for this week. I hope to be more on top of things than I have been in the last few weeks.

Our Dinner Menu Plan

Sunday - Sun-Dried Tomato & Spinach Stroganoff with a Fresh Salad

Monday - Cheddar & Cracker Chicken with Green Beans and Fresh Corn

Tuesday - Broccoli Cheese Soup in Bread Bowls

Wednesday - Slow- Cooker Chicken Cacciatore over Spaghetti Noodles

Thursday - Pulled Beef Sandwiches, Roasted Asparagus and Baked Beans

Friday - Ground Turkey Tacos, Guacamole and Tomato Salad

Saturday - Smoked Sausage with Almond Cream Pasta and Fresh Bread

Sunday - Homemade pizza with Spinach and Fruit

Recipes will post to blog throughout the week.

*Disclaimer - These items are subject to change without warning.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ramen Noodle Stir-Fry Soup

Next week is Thanksgiving week and is probably going to be pretty busy for most of us. With that in mind, I have the perfect super easy, light dinner recipe for you. If you eat light the first part of next week you can indulge a little on Thanksgiving Day, right?

Not only is this a healthy meal it is also super light on the pocketbook. Originally this recipe called for Soba noodles which can be rather expensive. I decided to use Ramen Noodles that tend to be around $0.20 a package.

Ramen Noodle Stir-Fry


2 Packages of Any Ramen Noodle of your choice (throw away the seasoning packet cause we don't need any MSG)
4 Cups low sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Small Onion, julienne
1 Carrot, julienne
2 Cloves garlic, minced
1/2 Tsp fresh ginger, minced (optional)
1 Handful chopped spinach
Pepper to taste
Any other vegetables you like (clean out the refrigerator)

Heat a skillet with olive oil on medium. Add onion and carrots and cook until carrots are tender.

Heat chicken broth to a boil and add Ramen noodles. Cook for three minutes.

Add garlic, ginger and spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted.

Add vegetable mixture to noodles and serve.

I served this with fresh bread. For added protein add shrimp or cooked chicken.

*Serves 4 people

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Our Dinner Menu Plan

As I was putting the dinner menu together I vowed to myself that I would not go to the grocery store this week, but use all the items I have in my pantry and refrigerator.

Therefore, some of the items I have on our menu are items I have made before and froze for future use.

Our Dinner Menu Plan

Monday - Chicken & Rice with Homemade Applesauce

Tuesday - Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal with Yogurt (Breakfast for dinner is just so cool!)

Wednesday - Crock Pot Lasagna with a Salad (My mom is coming to visit today and she requested this Lasagna for dinner)

Thursday - Ranch Chicken Calzones with Spanish Rice and Sweet Peas

Friday - Ramen Noodle Stir-Fry with Honey Cornbread Muffins

Saturday - Shredded Beef Sliders, Corn and Green Beans

Sunday - Leftovers

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Vegetarian Tortilla Casserole

As I have said on other posts, you can really get a lot of vegetables into Mexican dishes.

This Vegetarian Tortilla Casserole has carrots, onions, tomatoes, corn, and spinach. It is messy, but oh so delicious.

I did not take a picture of an individual serving because although this dish may be flavorful it does not photograph well by itself.

Vegetarian Tortilla Casserole


2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 - 2 Cans of pinto beans (I used one and it was not enough), undrained
1 Carrot, shredded
1/2 Onion, chopped
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp taco seasoning
1 Can Stewed Mexican tomatoes (14.5 oz), drained
1/4 Cup Corn (You can add more than this, I had to go light because of my picky 3 year old)
1 Handful chopped spinach
Salt and pepper
2 1/2 Cups Cheddar Cheese
4 Whole wheat flour tortillas

Preheat oven 400°.

Place olive oil in skillet and heat to medium. Add carrots and onions and cook until onions are translucent. Add garlic and taco seasoning and cook for an additional minute or two.

Add tomatoes and beans, stir to combine. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Add water or vegetable broth if moisture is lost.

Mash mixture until it reaches a refried beans consistency that you like. Add corn and spinach.

Spray a 13 x 9 dish with cooking spray. Place a third of the bean mixture in the dish. Top with 2 tortillas and some cheese. Repeat bean mixture, tortillas and cheese. Add the remaining bean mixture to the casserole.

Cover with foil and cook for 30 minutes. Remove foil and add remaining cheese. Cook for an additional 5 minutes to melt cheese.

Serve topped with sour cream, guacamole and my favorite jalapenos.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Portabella Colby Jack Burgers

It really is hard to come up meals that please everyone in my family. I am sure it is the same in all households around the world. I find it particularly difficult to create Vegetarian meals that please the majority.

Well, I found a Portabella Mushroom "Burger" recipe in Rachael Ray's cooking magazine that sounded and looked delicious. Since portabella mushrooms have a meat-like taste they would be perfect for a hamburger disguise.

After eating them I thought the burgers had a nice meaty grilled taste and so did my oldest son. However, my youngest son was not fooled, one bite and he said "what is this?". I don't know if you remember from my other posts, but my youngest is the meat eater. He did take a few bites, but I have to say he was not impressed.

I made a couple of small changes to the original recipe based on what I had in my kitchen and the likes and dislikes of my family.

Portabella Colby Jack Burgers


4 Large Portabella Mushrooms Caps (washed, gills scrapped and cut into disks)
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 Cup white vinegar
1/4 Cup water
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 Cup worchestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
4 Slices colby monterey jack cheese
4 Slices of tomato
Spinach lettuce
Condiments such as ketchup, mustard or guacamole

Mix vinegar, water and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add olive oil, worestershire, salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.

Place portabella mushroom into mixture and marinate for 45 mins or longer (I marinated all afternoon).

Grill mushrooms for about 5-6 mins. Top with cheese and grill until cheese is melted.

Serve on a sweet brioche or Hawaiian hamburger roll topped with any of your favorite hamburger toppings.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Our Dinner Menu Plan

This week is a great week because my local grocery store, Harris Teeter, has super double coupons. That means they double each coupon up to $1.98. For example, if I have a coupon for $1.50 off my favorite coffee, Harris Teeter will double that coupon and it will be $3.00 off.

As you can see by my list to the left I really need to start planning out my dinner menu for the week to take advantage of this awesome coupon opportunity.

I have a few friends that have become super ambitious and are planning their meals for the entire month. While I think that is a great idea, it is hard for me to plan meals and match to grocery store sales that far in advance.

What are your dinner plans for the week?

Our Dinner Menu Plan

Monday - Crock Pot Brown Sugar Chicken, okra and fresh corn (I froze a ton of corn over the summer)

Tuesday Portabella Colby Jack "Burgers" on Fresh Brioche Rolls, Baked Homemade Fries and Green Beans

Wednesday - Prosciutto Pasta Toss with Salad

Thursday - Vegetarian Tortilla Casserole and Broccoli with Cheese

Friday - Turkey Hot Dogs, Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese and Fresh Peaches (I canned these over the summer)

Saturday - Leftovers

Sunday - Hot Dog Jambalaya (using the remaining hot dogs from Friday night) and salad

*Disclaimer: All menu items are subject to change and may be prepared out of order

Crock Pot Zuppa Toscana - Lighter Version

A friend of mine was making Zuppa Toscana as a meal for a new mother and the name was so cool I had to find out about this soup.

Apparently, I am totally out of the loop, because I have never heard of Zuppa Toscana. After researching, I found that it is an Olive Garden favorite.

I decided to make this soup a little different from the original. I substituted sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes and did not use heavy cream. My family thought it was great, but than again we have never had the original.

I made this soup on Halloween night so we were so busy rushing around that I forgot to put one of the main ingredients in the soup, spinach/kale. I am sure it would have been even more delicious if I would have remembered to add the spinach (see picture above).

Crock Pot Zuppa Toscana - Lighter Version


1 lb Ground Italian sausage
1/2 Tsp crushed red pepper
1 Large onion, diced
3 Slices bacon or turkey bacon, chopped
2 Garlic cloves, minced
5 Cups chicken broth
1 Cup water
1 Cup skim milk
1 Large sweet potato, diced small
1 Cup spinach, chopped

Cook sausage in large pot with red peppers until done. Remove from pot and set aside.

Add bacon pieces, onion and garlic and cook until bacon is done. Add broth, water, milk, sweet potatoes and cooked sausage mixture and transfer to crock pot.

Cook in crock pot for 4-6 hours or until potatoes are soft. Add spinach just before serving. Enjoy!

*If you want to make this soup creamier or thicker you can probably add half and half as a replacement for the milk.

Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Pacific Natural Foods.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Healthier Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff was not something that I grew up having as a child. I did not even try it until I was in college. I really had no idea what I was missing.

My husband on the other hand did grow up having Beef Stroganoff and told me it was one of his favorite meals as a child.

I knew I had to come up with a way to make it a little healthier than the original version, so here is my rendition.

Healthier Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff


1-1/2 lbs Stew meat
1 Large carrot
1 Medium onion
2 Garlic cloves
1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 Cup water
1 Can healthy request cream of mushroom soup
2 oz Fat free sour cream
4 oz Plain Greek style yogurt (you can use 6 oz of sour cream and skip this ingredient if you like)
1 Tsp pepper
1 Dash olive oil
Cooked egg noodles

Heat lightly oiled skillet to medium and add meat and vegetables. Cook for 2-4 mins, just to get a light brown on the meat. You are not trying to cook the meat through just sealing in the moisture and creating more complex flavors.

Combine cream of mushroom soup, sour cream/yogurt, worcestershire, garlic, and water.

Add meat and vegetable mixture to crock pot. Top with cream sauce and cook on low for 5-6 hours.

Serve on top of egg noodles.

*This serves about 4 people, please adjust amounts if you have more members in your family.

Pumpkin Prune Muffins

Please don't let the name fool you. These Pumpkin Prune Muffins are delicious.

I was a little nervous about making these muffins with prunes, but they really did turn out great.

I happen to have several bags of prunes around the house because of a huge sale over the summer on Sunsweet prunes at my local grocer. I came across a Cranberry Pumpkin Muffin recipe on one of my favorite blogs and thought maybe I can substitute chopped up prunes instead of cranberries.

Here are my small changes to the original Cranberry Pumpkin Muffin recipe. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Prune Muffins


2 Cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 Cup brown sugar
1 Tsp baking soda
1 Tsp cinnamon
1/2 Tsp nutmeg
1/2 Tsp salt
1 Cup pure canned pumpkin
1 Cup of Sunsweet prunes, chopped
1/2 Cup oil
1/2 Cup skim milk
1/4 Cup molasses
1 Egg

Preheat oven to 350°.

Mix all dry ingredients together in one bowl. Mix all wet ingredients together in a separate bowl. Mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients until well combined.

Grease muffin pan with butter or cooking spray. Pour muffin mixture into pan about 2/3 full. Cook for 16-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into muffin comes out clean.

*This recipe is for about 20 muffins. I made only 12 really large muffins instead.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What is up with the rolls?

If any of you are wondering I thought I would explain why I have bread rolls pictured in so many of my pictures on the blog.

Well, a few weeks ago my husband took part in a local fundraiser. At the local fundraiser they served barbecue, slaw, potatoes and bread rolls. Although the fundraiser was a success they had an enormous amount of rolls left over. My husband volunteered to take 6 bags of rolls off their hands.

We froze most of the rolls, but have been trying to use them as much as we can (without consuming too many carbs). Therefore you may see them quite frequently on the side of our main course.

Our Dinner Menu Plan

Our Dinner Menu Plan

Monday - Crock Pot Zuppa Toscana with fresh bread (Thank you Dawn for the inspiration of this menu item; recipe coming soon!)

Tuesday - Baked Refried Bean Taquitos, Rice with Vegetables and Cooked Bananas

Wednesday - Slow Cooker Lasagna with Side Salad

Thursday - Vegetable Hamburger Soup with Rolls

Friday - Lentil and Cheese Loaf with Sweet Potato Casserole and Green Beans

Saturday - Leftovers

Sunday - Homemade Pizza and Salad

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lentils and Cheese Loaf

With the increase in meat prices it is especially important for our family to have a strict grocery budget. I could easily spend all my budget on meat and produce alone. Therefore, creating two to three vegetarian meals a week really does help to stay within that grocery budget.

My meat lovers of the family were pretty skeptical of this Lentils and Cheese Loaf. Each of them surveyed it over and over again before then taking a bite. I would not reveal what it was that they were eating until after a few bites. I was pleasantly surprised that no one said they did not like it. My husband said it is no replacement for traditional meatloaf, but was a great vegetarian substitute.

*I would like to apologize for the horribly, blurry photos of this recipe. We desperately need a new camera.

Lentils and Cheese Loaf


2 Cups of reduced-fat cheddar cheese
2 Cups cooked lentils (see packaging for cooking instructions)
1/2 Cup onion
1/4 Tsp pepper
1/4 Tsp dried thyme
1/2 Cup breadcrumbs
1/2 Cup Pepperidge Farm herb stuffing, crushed
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 Tbsp butter
2-3 Tbsp pasta sauce + extra for topping
*You can substitute tomato sauce for the topping if you like

Preheat oven 350°. Mix all ingredients together except for extra pasta sauce/tomato sauce used for the topping.

Transfer to a loaf pan coated with nonstick cooking spray. Cover and bake for 45 mins.

Heat extra pasta sauce/tomato sauce and add on top of loaf.

I have to say that this recipe was very simple. Definitely something you can make ahead of time and just pop in the oven.

I served the Lentils and Cheese Loaf with a side salad and bread.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Honey Mustard Rosemary Chicken with Vegetables

A really cool thing I learned about honey is that it is hygroscopic or attracts water. So when using honey in a recipe, foods will keep their moisture longer.

In this recipe the vegetables and chicken are cooked together with honey, therefore they tend to retain their moisture, instead of drying out.

I normally do not use bone-in chicken for this recipe, but Harris Teeter had an amazing deal last week for split-chicken breasts ($1 a pound). This recipe is good with chicken breasts (boneless or bone-in) and chicken thighs.

Honey Mustard Rosemary Chicken with Vegetables


2-3 lbs chicken
(remove skin if applicable)
1 Baking potato, peeled and cut into wedges
1 Large carrot, chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped

1/4-1/2 Onion, sliced

4 or more whole garlic cloves, skins removed
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Sprigs rosemary
4 Tbsp mustard

2 Tbsp honey

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425°.

In a large bowl toss vegetables and fruit with oil, salt and pepper. Pour vegetable mix into a 9 X 13 baking dish. Arrange garlic cloves throughout the vegetables and top with rosemary.

Arrange chicken pieces on top of vegetable/fruit mixture and bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

Combine mustard and honey.

Remove chicken from baking dish and stir vegetable/fruit mixture. Place chicken back on top of mixture and coat with honey mustard.

Return to oven and continue to cook for 10-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked thru.

This is really a meal in itself, so I chose not to serve an additional side just some bread.

*Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Shenandoah Growers Organic Fresh Herbs.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Creamy Vegetable Bow Ties

If you want an easy nutritious side dish to serve your family, try this Creamy Vegetable Bow Ties recipe.

I really used whatever vegetables I had on hand so you can customize it to your family's likes.

My oldest son asked if he could please have this creamy pasta for lunch at school tomorrow, yay!

Creamy Vegetable Bow Ties


1/4 Box bow tie pasta, cooked
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tsp oregano
1/2 Tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 Tsp garlic powder
2 Cups fresh vegetable of your choice, chopped (I used carrots, green beans, mushrooms, and broccoli)
1 Fresh tomato, chopped
4-5 Tbsps low fat cottage cheese or ricotta
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese for topping

Prepare pasta according to package, drain and set to the side.

Heat oil in skillet over low heat and add oregano, italian seasoning, and garlic powder. Cook for about 2 mins.

Turn heat to medium and add all vegetables except tomato. Saute until vegetables are tender.

Add cooked pasta, cottage cheese and fresh tomato, heating thru for about 3 mins. Continue to stir until cheese has melted. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve and sprinkle each individual serving with parmesan cheese.

This was a great side dish, but would make a light vegetarian main dish as well.

For this particular night I served this pasta along side Refried Bean Taquitos and Broccoli and Cheese.