Monday, January 30, 2012

Our Dinner Menu Plan

My mom came to visit this weekend and she brought a huge bag full of fresh collard greens from my parents garden. I was so excited. These little boogers are a great source of vitamin C, fiber, and contain lots of nutrients that have anti-cancer properties.

Now the challenge with these collards is to find multiple ways to cook them and make them appealing to the kids.

If you see lots of collards on the menu for this week, now you know why.

Our Dinner Menu Plan

Monday - Black Bean Taco Salad (leaving the meat out to make it meatless) with Collard Green Chips

Tuesday - Baked Spaghetti with Salad

Wednesday - Black Bean Soup with Cheese Taquitos (I had to make a change because I failed to get all the ingredients for the Carrot Satay Soup)

Thursday - Chicken Pot Pie with Fruit

Friday - Hot Dog Mac 'n' Cheese, Beer-Braised Collard Greens, and Sweet Potato Casserole

Saturday - Leftovers

Sunday - Sun-dried Tomato & Basil Gnocchi (Carried over from last week - I did not get around to cooking the gnocchi) and Spinach Rolls

Spinach Cheese Biscuit Muffin

Spinach is a staple in our house. I am sure you can tell by reading this blog. A majority of the recipes on here do include spinach. My kids don't seem to mind it at all.

Well, I am a bargain shopper and came across two cans of biscuits for $.20. We do not eat biscuits very much, but I thought I could incorporate it into something. The cans of biscuits sat in my refrigerator for a few weeks and I decided I had to use them for something. I searched the internet for recipes and came across a great lunch idea for kids using canned biscuits. I changed the recipe just a tad to incorporate spinach instead of red peppers and pepperoni instead of ham.

My husband liked these biscuit muffins much more than my kids. It was not their favorite thing, but a change from the normal peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

Spinach Cheese Biscuit Muffins


2 Cans of refrigerated biscuit dough (5 count in each)
1/3-1/2 Cup pepperoni, ham, bacon, turkey - cut into pieces *
1/2 - 3/4 Cup cheese (I used double cheddar)
1/2 Cup spinach, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°.
Spray 12 muffin cups with cooking spray. Chop meat, mix with cheese and spinach in bowl.
Cut each biscuit into pieces. Add meat mixture and combine with hands. Place even portions into each muffin cup.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool before removing from pan.
Great lunch paired with fresh vegetables and/or fresh fruit.
*Omit meat for a vegetarian lunch

Friday, January 27, 2012

Lunch Ideas for Kids

Do you ever struggle with what to make your kids for lunch? I know I do. You want to make food that is nutritious and delicious, yet something that your kid can eat quickly. Most kids today that go to school away from home have less than 30 minutes to eat their lunch.

I have been researching new ideas for kid lunches. This is just a short list of kid-friendly lunch ideas. If you have any ideas you would like to share please do so. I know myself and other readers of this blog would be delighted to have new kid-friendly lunch ideas.

Kid-Friendly Lunch Ideas

- Hummus and Crackers

- Quesadillas (Combinations are endless)

- Cream cheese and Jam Roll-Ups

- Pizza Wraps (Pizza sauce, cheese, spinach, pepperoni - rolled up and toasted)

- BLT Wraps

- Fresh Salad with all their favorite fixins

- Buttered Whole-Wheat Noodles

- Spinach Cheese Biscuit Muffins

- Pita Crisps (sprinkle pita with olive oil, garlic powder, cheese and toast - cut into slices)

- Pasta salad with olive oil, cheese, basil, tomatoes, cucumber, garlic and salt & pepper

- Pretzel stick kabobs (Long pretzel with cheese, cucumber, celery, deli meat and grape tomatoes for the ends)

- Falafel Pitas

- Tortilla or Pita pizzas

Monday, January 23, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

I have to confess that this recipe for Chicken Pot Pie is not super healthy, but completely scrumptious.

Yesterday, it was gloomy and cold here in North Carolina, so it was a perfect day for Chicken Pot Pie. Of course I had already planned this meal, so whether it was cold or not Pot Pie would have still been on the menu.

If you missed my menu planning post for this week I talked about how I purchased several refrigerated pie crusts over the holidays and was not able to use them. Therefore I decided to use some of them this week before their expiration.

This is the first time I have ever made Chicken Pot Pie and my husband said it was divine. My six-year old took one look at it and said "I am not going to eat this". Well, we convinced him to try it and he said "this is delicious mommy". It took a little more coaxing to get my three-year old to eat the Chicken Pot Pie, and although it was not his favorite dish he did not complain.

Chicken Pot Pie


2 Refrigerated pie crusts
1 Tbsp butter
1 Carrots, diced
1/2 Onion, diced
1 Celery stalk, diced
8 oz Fresh or frozen corn
8 oz Green beans (I used no salt canned green beans because that is what I had on hand)
2 Cups chicken (I used leftover chicken from Sunday night's dinner)
1 Can cream of chicken soup
2-4 Tbsp skim milk
1 Tbsp butter, melted (to spread on top of pie crust) - optional
Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450°.

Heat 1 Tbsp of butter in skillet over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, and celery. Cook for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add corn and cook an additional minute or two depending on if they are frozen.

Remove from heat add green beans, chicken, cream of chicken and milk. Stir together to combine. Add pepper.

Roll crust out into pie pan according to directions. Fill crust with chicken mixture. Roll the other crust out and fit it over top of pie filling. Press edges together and cut slits in the middle of the pie.

Brush butter on top of crust and cook for 20-24 minutes or until golden brown.

Cut into individual slices and serve.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Our Dinner Menu Plan

Our local supermarket had an awesome deal this past week on shrimp. Since my plan for this new year is to prepare more seafood dinners I loaded up on shrimp. Therefore, I went over my grocery budget for the week.

So what does all this mean, well this week's menu will be what I call a "creative pantry" week. My plan for our dinner menu is to come up with dinner ideas that only use what we have in our pantry, freezer or refrigerator. No supermarket trips are allowed. This was a bit challenging, but fun.

Here you go!

Our Dinner Menu Plan

Monday - Chicken Pot Pie with Fruit. (I purchased a few refrigerated pie crusts over the holidays that need to be used and we had leftover chicken from Sunday night's dinner).

- Baked Refried Bean Taquitos, Kale Chips and Cooked Bananas

- Hot Dog Jambalaya with Rice and a side of Carrots. (I purchased some turkey dogs a while back that have been in the freezer. This week seems like a good time to use them.)

- Crock Pot Chicken & Stuffing with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

- Spinach, Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil Gnocchi and Fresh Bread

Saturday - Leftovers

- Jamaican Jerk Shrimp Stir-Fry with Rice

* Recipes will be posted throughout the week. Menu subject to change.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Our Dinner Menu Plan

We are celebrating Martin Luther King Day this week by cooking Salmon Fillets on the barbecue. How will you be celebrating?

Our Dinner Menu Plan

Monday - BBQ Salmon Fillets, Rice, Edamame and Rolls

Tuesday - Tomato Florentine Soup with Homemade Bread

Wednesday - Chicken Tacos with Baked Kale Chips

Thursday - Tuna Balls, Okra and Baked Beans

Friday - Homemade Pizza and Fruit

Saturday - Chicken Salad Sandwiches, Carrots and Veggie Chips

Sunday - Pressure Cooker Rosemary Chicken with Cabbage, Carrots and Onions along side Oven Browned Potatoes

Mushroom Quinoa Burgers

Let me just start out by saying that these Mushroom Quinoa Burgers that I made last night were the best Vegetarian burgers ever. I have made numerous attempts at making Vegetarian burgers and nothing compares to these burgers. I have to honestly say that I would rather have these burgers over traditional meat hamburgers. My husband even said they were fabulous. He did not go as far to say that he would prefer them over the traditional meat burger, but would be thrilled to have them again.

I can not take credit for this recipe though. I found it in the January issue of All You. I did make some minor changes so I will post the recipe below.

Mushroom Quinoa Burgers


1 Cup Seeds of Change Whole Grain Quinoa Blend with Cilantro (you can use plain quinoa if you like)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Small onion, finely chopped
4 oz. Mushroom, finely chopped
1/2 Cup old-fashioned oats
1 Large egg
1/4 Cheddar jack cheese (or any other cheese you desire)
1/4 Tsp salt
1/8 Tsp pepper
1 Tsp Italian seasoning
1/8 Garlic powder
4 - 6 Whole-wheat hamburger rolls

Prepare quinoa as directed. Transfer to a large bowl. If you use the Seeds of Change box quinoa you will have some leftover.

Warm 1 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir mushrooms and onions in the oil and saute for about 4-5 mins.

Add vegetables to the bowl with the quinoa and allow to cool.

Once cool add oats, egg, cheese, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder. I did also add a tbsp or two of panko breadcrumbs because my burgers were too sticky.

Shape into 4 to 6 patties.

Add 2 Tbsp of oil to the skillet over medium-high heat and place burgers in skillet. Cook for about 6 mins on each side or golden brown.

Place burgers in buns and top with your favorite toppings (lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup, mustard....).

* I can not rave enough about these burgers, they were amazing. I am even making more of them today to have for lunches this week.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lemon Honey Crock Pot Chicken

My intentions this week were to make a recipe I found in an old Rachael Ray cookbook called Lemon Poppy Chicken. I began looking at the recipe on Tuesday afternoon and decided I did not want to labor over dinner when I could be spending time with my children. Therefore, I decide to make my own version of Lemon Chicken, but in the crock pot. You guys know how much I love my crock pot!

Lemon Honey Crock pot Chicken goes perfectly over a bed of Seeds of Change French-Style Herb Whole Grain Blend of millet, brown rice and quinoa.

Lemon Honey Crock Pot Chicken


4 -6 Chicken Thighs or Breasts (I had thighs so that is what I used)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Onion, chopped or sliced
1 Large carrot, diced small
3 Red potatoes, diced small
3 Garlic cloves
Juice from one lemon
1/2 Cup broth (I used veggie broth)
2-3 Tbsp honey
1 Large rosemary sprig
Salt and pepper

Coat a skillet with olive oil and heat to medium.

Salt and pepper each chicken thigh and add to hot skillet. Brown each side of the chicken. You are not cooking the chicken completely, just browning the sides. I added onions the last minute or so.

Spray crock pot with cooking spray. Add potatoes, carrots and garlic.

Add chicken and onions over the vegetable mixture. Pour lemon juice and broth over the chicken.

Evenly distribute honey over chicken. Sprinkle rosemary over for the final step. Add more salt and pepper if you desire.

Cook for 3-5 hours on low (this will vary depending on your crock pot - chicken will began to fall apart when done).

Serve over a bed of couscous, rice or quinoa.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Even though I did burn the outside of these muffins they still tasted fantastic. If you have been reading my blog you may know that I am a terrible baker. I don't care how accurate I get my measurements it never turns out as beautiful as I would like.

This recipe has been adapted from it's original which can be found at The Pioneer Woman.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins


1 Cup whole wheat flour
1/3 Cup agave nectar
2 Tsp baking powder
1 1/2 Tsp cinnamon
1/4 Tsp ground ginger
1/2 Tsp nutmeg
1/2 Tsp salt
4 Tbsp butter, cut into pieces
1 Cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie puree)
1/4 Cup + 2 Tbsp evaporated milk
1 Egg, slightly beaten
1 1/2 Tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray.

Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Add butter pieces mixing and mashing into flour.

In a separate bowl, mix together agave nectar, pumpkin, evaporated milk, egg, and vanilla. Pour pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture and combine.

Pour into a greased muffin pan filling each about 1/2 way.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Stick a toothpick into the center, if it comes out clean the muffins are done.

* I cooked the muffins for about 18 minutes and mine were very done on the outside. It really depends on your oven.

Our Dinner Menu Plan

Sometimes I feel like this mad crazy scientist when I am planning our dinner menus for the week. It is so hard to make each person happy, while incorporating the most nutrition possible.

Last week, we planned to have Lemon Poppy Chicken, but something came up and we had to eat out for that night. Therefore, I changed that menu item to this week instead.

My husband will not be having dinner with us two nights this week so on those nights I made the menu super easy.

Our Dinner Menu

Monday - Beer-Battered Cod Fillets, Pressure-Cooker Cabbage, Carrots and Onions, and Sweet Potato Fries

Tuesday - Lemon Honey Crock Pot Chicken, French-Style Herb Whole Grain Blend of Millet, Brown Rice and Quinoa and Fresh Corn (I froze fresh Farmer's Market corn over the summer)

Wednesday - Refried Beans, Rice and Side Salad

Thursday - Spaghetti and Garlic Rolls

Friday - Mushroom Quinoa Burgers, Carrot Sticks and Green Beans

Saturday - Chicken and Rice with Cornbread

Sunday - Leftovers

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Molasses Pork Chops

When I hear the word molasses I always think of my grandma. She would make fresh, homemade biscuits and dip them in Grandma's Molasses. It always had to be Grandma's Molasses, no other brand, and I have to say that I must agree. I have tried several brands over the years, but nothing compares to Grandma's Molasses.

Molasses is rich in iron, calcium, copper and magnesium. It is also all natural with no additives.

Well, here is a recipe that I put together to use on pork chops, but I must say that it would go well with chicken too. My husband said it reminded him of barbeque sauce, but much better.

I hope you enjoy!

Molasses Pork Chops

4-5 Boneless pork chops
1/4 Cup honey dijon mustard
1/4 Cup Grandma Molasses
1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper

Preheat grill or use cast iron grill topper for stove.

Combine mustard, molasses and vinegar in a bowl.

Salt and pepper each side of the pork chops.

Brush or dip pork chops with sauce.

Place on grill and cook about 3 to 5 minutes on each side (depending on the thickness of your chops).

If you have more molasses sauce left add after removing from grill. Let pork chops rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Spinach Shells and Cheese Bake

This picture has to make your mouth water. What vibrant colors of green, red and golden brown in the Spinach Shells and Cheese Bake.

A few years ago I came across several vegetarian recipes that I decided to put in my personal recipe book. Unfortunately I am not sure of the source of the recipes. With a few slight changes they have been perfect for our family. I hope you enjoy this latest one.

Spinach Shells and Cheese Bake


8 oz Whole wheat pasta shells (or penne)
2 Cups fresh spinach, chopped
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 Medium onion, chopped
4 Garlic cloves, minced
1/4 Cup flour
2 1/2 Cups non-fat milk
1/2 Cup mozzarella cheese *
1/2 Cup cheddar cheese *
1/4 Cup parmesan cheese + 2 Tbsp - Shredded *
1 Tbsp fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 Tsp fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 Can diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning
1/4 Cup panko breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Cook pasta according to box directions and drain.

In a medium saucepan heat 1 Tbsp of butter on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened. Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds. Add the flour, stir to coat and cook for 30 more seconds.

Add the milk gradually and stir. Increase the temperature just a little and cook until it is bubbly. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, basil and oregano and spinach.

Combine pasta, onion-spinach mixture, 1/2 cup of mozzarella, 1/2 cup of cheddar, and tomatoes. Add to baking dish.

Melt 1 Tbsp butter and then add 2 Tbsps. of parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs. Combine until crumbly. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta.

Bake for 30 minutes.

This dish is pretty hardy so I served it with baby carrots and rolls.

*You can use 1 1/4 cups plus 2 Tbsp of shredded parmesan instead of using three separate cheese.
I would be delighted to know what you think, please feel free to comment.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Our Dinner Menu Plan

This week kind of snuck up on me and I dropped the ball on posting our dinner menu plan on Sunday night.

The Rosemary Pressure Cooker Chicken from last week's menu could not be cooked because the frozen chicken took longer than I anticipated to thaw. Therefore, we had the Rosemary Chicken tonight served with vegetables and black-eye peas.

I am excited about this week's menu plan because it so diverse and there is something for every one in the family.

Have a great week!

Our Dinner Menu Plan

Monday - Rosemary Pressure Cooker Chicken and Vegetables with Black-Eye Peas

Tuesday - Spinach Shells and Cheese Bake, Baby Carrots and Rolls

Wednesday - Molasses Pork Chops, Broccoli and Cheese and Sweet Potato Casserole

Thursday - Avocado, Pinto Bean, Salsa Tostadas with Salad

Friday - Belgium Waffles with Fresh Strawberries and Bacon

Saturday - Dinner Out

Sunday - Leftovers

*Recipes and images will be posted throughout the week.

Rosemary Pressure Cooker Chicken & Vegetables

This past Christmas was just spectacular. I received so many new gadgets for the kitchen. One item in particular was a Anodized Pressure Cooker. I have secretly always wanted a pressure cooker, but terrified to use it. I have pictures in my head of the pressure valve flying off and hitting me right in the face. Go ahead laugh if you want, but these things can be dangerous.

When I was growing up my mom would use her pressure cooker all the time. She was never afraid to try anything in that pressure cooker. My brother and I just stayed away cause we were never sure what was going to happen when it started making that whistling sound.

If you have a pressure cooker you probably already know how moist and delicious meat and vegetables cook in it. If you don't already have a pressure cooker you should definitely think about investing in one. I cooked a whole chicken and vegetable in less than 30 minutes.

Rosemary Pressure Cooker Chicken and Vegetables

2-3 lb Chicken - whole
1 Tbsp oil
1 1/2 Cups Vegetable or Chicken Broth or Water
2 Rosemary sprigs - whole
2 Tsp Thyme
Salt and Pepper
Vegetables of your choice (I used carrots, celery, cabbage, onions and potatoes)

Place oil in pressure cooker and heat. Add chicken and brown on each side. You are not trying to cook the chicken, just allowing it to seal in moisture and give it some color.

Once chicken is brown on each side. Add broth, thyme and rosemary.

Seal pressure cooker and cook according to pressure cooker instructions.

Remove chicken from pressure cooker after you have allowed it to cool*.

Add vegetables (I used carrots, celery, cabbage, onions and potatoes) to pressure cooker and cook according to cooker instructions.

Serve this moist, flavorful chicken and vegetables with a side of black-eye peas and you have a complete meal in a very short time.

* To cool pressure cooker:
  • Run under cold water and then release steam from regulator
  • If you are cooking a whole chicken you can allow it to cool by setting it aside for a few minutes