Showing posts with label menu planning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label menu planning. Show all posts

Thursday, April 17, 2014

why you should prebake sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are delicious and super good for you. Not everyone is a fan, though. Including my hubs. Bad news is...I'm still pushing them every chance I get. Because they are delicious and versatile. If you're the type of home cook who likes to prepare some stuff at the start of the week to help streamline the dinner process throughout the rest of the week then I highly suggest you add pre baking sweet potatoes to your to do list. They keep in a Ziploc bag for about 5 days. Here's five things you can do with them...

Have one for breakfast! Warm it up. Slice it, add Greek yogurt, real maple syrup, and nuts. You just had a veggie for breakfast.

Scoop it out and chop it up. Warm it up with some premade lentils and/or bulgur. Or any grain will do. Make a mustard-y dressing, toss a handfuls of fresh herbs, and feta or goat cheese. Viola! You just made an awesome lunch or side dish for dinner.

Scoop it out and spread it on a quesadilla. Add kale, salsa, and cheese. Broil in the oven for about 5 -7 minutes. You just made dinner.

Put last night's leftover pulled pork or shredded pork taco filling on top.  Leftovers made fancy!

Scoop it out. Mash it up with chicken broth, a bit of butter, and S&P to taste. Warm it up and serve it with grilled chicken and a green veg like kale or Brussels sprouts. Best dinner ever.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

march: month of meals

super cute cake topper 

March is almost upon us. And with it, hopefully, Spring. I'm a little ahead of the curve (by like 3 days, but that's good for me) and have the monthly meal plan for March ready to go. My MIL gave me one of those Taste of Home cookbooks so a lot of these are from it. Email me or FB message me if you want recipe from there (*Taste of Home Quick Cooking Annual Recipes 2014). I'm happy to send it to you. This month is always a delicate balance for me....I'm trying to will Spring while staying warm. I also hope that sometime in the month of March I will be able to dig into the ground and get some seeds buried.  Maybe some kale or even radishes.  We shall see. Without further ado...

Slowcooker Corned Beef and Cabbage
Slowcooker Pork Satay*
Slowcooker Pepperoni Pizza Soup*
Cornmeal Dusted Flounder with Black Bean-Corn Salad*
Shrimp and Pineapple Kabobs with Rice*
Creamy Herb Salmon with Rice Pilaf and Greens*
Sweet Chili Salmon with Blackberries and Rice*
10 Minute Macaroni and Cheese
Meatball Pizza Pockets and Salad
Antipasto Braid with Salad*
Reuben Bake (using leftover corned beef)
Greek Fish Fillets with Rice and Peas*
Pizza Burgers* with Fries (this oven fry recipe is my go-to)
Pork Schnitzel and Cabbage*
Slowcooker Italian Shredded Beef Stew*
Chicken Lo Mein
Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Bowls with Salad and Crusty Bread
Loaded Nachos
Slowcooker Veggie Lasagna
Roasted Beef, Mushroom, and Barley Stew
Slowcooker Korean Ribs with Rice and Bok Choy
Slowcooker Lentil and Sausage Stew
Black Beans and Sausage
Roasted Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Veggies
You can always check out my food boards on Pinterest for ideas and our What's For Dinner Tab, too.

*Taste of Home Quick Cooking Annual Recipes 2014

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

february: month of meals

if you do nothing else this month, at least enjoy some hot cocoa.

I'm back to my monthly meal plan.  Albeit, a few days late.  I really like having a plan every month and doing one giant trip.  I still have to run to the store every week or so for things like milk and fresh fruit, but the monthly thing works for us.  I should say that Mike runs to the store with me which helps a lot when it comes to bagging the groceries and unloading the car.  Also, he can pick out all the snacks he wants.  This month the groceries will run us about $400 dollars with all of our shopping done at Aldi and Fareway. (Have you checked out Aldi's new organic line? The salsa is amazing.  Try it!) So here is our meal plan for the month, including snacks that I like to make and keep in the fridge...

Black Eyed Peas with Leeks and Chicken Sausages
Fish BLTs with Fries
Spanish Meatloaf with Roasted Veggies and Cheesy Sweet Potatoes
Stuffed Steak with Warm Wilted Kale and Roasted Potato Salad (date night IN)
Crockpot Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs
Pan Roasted Flounder with Chopped Winter Salad
Magic Macaroni & Cheese
Pasta Carbonara with Peas
Crockpot Paella
Crockpot Venison Greek Wraps
Steak with Mushroom Sauce and Cauliflower Puree (Valentine's Day)
Crockpot Chili
Crockpot Stuffed Peppers
Crockpot Maple and Mustard Pot Roast with Roasted Veggies and Grits
Mustard Glazed Salmon with Lentils
Crockpot BBQ Chicken Pulled Sammies with Coleslaw (I dump BBQ sauce and chicken in the crockpot)
Homemade Chicken Nuggets with Mango Dipping Sauce and Salad
Runza Casserole
Hendrix's Great Grandma's Meatballs (similiar to DALS' porcupine meatballs)
Mongolian Tofu Stirfry

{Snacks | Big Batch Salads}
Country Pate'
Cold Noodle Salad
Lentil and Sweet Potato Salad
Dark Chocolate & Trail Mix Bites
On Fridays, we have Family Movie Night which means we usually make pizza or get take-out so I don't include those on my meal plan. I let the boys decide the day of what they want, but I always have pizza dough or frozen pizzas in the fridge.  A lot of these recipes are new to me so I am anxious to give them a try.  Hope this month gives you time to sit with your family and share a meal.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

march: month of meals

printable found here

i have no idea what happened to the month of february.  all i know is that is almost over, i only have 10 weeks left of this pregnancy, and it's time to go to the grocery store again. february was weird in the dinner department.  i had a lot more leftovers then i thought i would and was lazy (think frozen pizzas and ravioli) more than normal. also, we had a few family dinners and events that i forgot to factor into my planning. i am growing a human, so that is my excuse.  so some recipes did not get made and that is why you see them on this month's meal plan, as well.  looks like my grocery bill will be quite cheap this month! speaking of, in case you missed it, the lincoln journal star interviewed me about my grocery shopping habits.  you can read the article here.

1. stout corned beef with roasted potatoes, cabbage, and carrots (st. patty's day)
2. slowcooker potato soup (lenten dinner)
3. chicken and sausage pot pies
4. fish sandwiches with sweet potato fries + coleslaw (lenten dinner)
5. spinach + shroom lasagna (lenten dinner)
6. beef + scallion skewers with bok choy
7. crockpot salisbury steak with potatoes and veggies
8. spaghetti + meatballs with salad and garlic bread (hendrix's birthday dinner)
9. crockpot asian pork + mushrooms
10. crockpot stuffed peppers
11. tortellini soup (lenten dinner)
12. white beans with spinach, shrimp + feta (lenten dinner)
13. baked sausages + latkes
14. parmesan chicken cutlets with salad
15. rueben bake (use leftover corned beef)
16. yogurt marinated chicken + creamy greek sauce
17. chicken enchilada puffs
18. steak salad
19. sloppy joes with zuke fries
20. meatball subs with salad (use leftover meatballs)
21. grilled pork tenderloin with black bean salsa
22. vension roast with roasted veggies + mashed potatoes
23. macaroni + cheese 

noodle soup (ramen noodles without the gross flavor packet amped up with shredded veggies)
greek couscous salad (couscous, tomato, cukes, scallions, feta, olive oil, and lemon)
cabbage, apple, + walnut salad

breakfast tacos
granola + yogurt

cut veggies
goldfish crackers

* if there is no link that is because i either just make it up or figure it is basic enough for everyone to figure out (i.e. spaghetti + meatballs)
** for more dinner ideas or monthly meal plans, check out the what's for dinner page.
i'll (hopefully) be back later this month to talk about hendrix's john deere birthday party, easter dessert ideas, and how our cooking class at the heart ministry center goes next week.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

february: month of meals

i'm sticking with my monthly meal planning.  it seems to really work for us and is super awesome on the days when i have no desire to cook.  it's much easier to throw something together when you already have a stocked kitchen and plan.  since, the baby is due at the beginning of may i have started working on my postpartum meal plan.  you know since when we brought hendrix home we had nothing to eat.  this time will be different, though, since we don't really have air conditioning in the kitchen and it can get quite warm already in may and june i am focusing on premade meals that don't require the oven.  you can check out some of my ideas on my pinterest board.  this month i am also testing or retesting a lot of these recipes to see how quick they really are, as well as, testing out some of the quick, premade freezer meals from costco and trader joe's that other folks have suggested.
1. crockpot shrimp + bacon corn chowder
2. italian chicken bake
3. spaghetti with costco meatballs
4. crockpot beef + broccoli
5. beef + scallion skewers with bok choy
6. zuppa toscana soup
7. crockpot asian pork + mushrooms
8. rueben bake
9. roasted veggie tacos
10. sour cream chicken enchiladas
11. crockpot salisbury steak with potatoes & veggies
12. stromboli
13. crockpot frank + beans with slaw
14. philly cheesesteak sandwiches on bretzel rolls
15. pot pies
16. pork schintzel with sour cream mashed potatoes and sweet + sour cabbage
17. beef + snow peas
18. fajitas
19. chicken cutlets with salad
20. sausage + latkes
21. sloppy joes
22. greek burgers with greek cous cous salad
23. mini meatloaves with taters and veggies
24. crockpot chili
25. crockpot stuffed peppers

chicken wrap
creamy kale salad
black bean + quinoa salad
salad with melty goat cheese crouton

cut veggies
bread with nut butter
bran muffins

Thursday, January 3, 2013

resolve to be good

so.  i am guessing we all have some sort of food resolutions going on in our head.  it is the new year, after all.  i don't really have one since i am pregnant and have been eating pretty well.  i've already gained less weight then when i was prego with hendrix.  the first time i really thought i was eating for two.  turns out, you're not.  so.  my only resolutions are to mentally list every night (or morning if i was too tired the night before to think)  what i am grateful for and what i did RIGHT that day.  as well as, to commit to completing something creative every month.  i know, as a mother and wife, i put myself on the back burner. a lot.  then i start to feel guilty or short tempered.  then it is a domino effect of bad decisions weather with my eating, sleep, money spending, or how i am talking to others.  so, i am going to try to be kinder to myself and to do things that bring me happiness.  i am confident that this will spill over into all the facets of life.  the first half of this year will be growing this baby.  the second half will be taking care of newborn and introducing a new person to our family of three. i am going to take easy on myself.  because you know what?  most of us are doing good.  there's nothing wrong with wanting be better, but sometimes "good enough" needs to be enough.
HOWEVER.  we all have some food battle we want to win.  mine is my battle with sugar.  i love it.  the good thing and the blessing in disguise is that this baby does not.  if i eat sweets, i get sick.  baby does not like.  hendrix loved sweets and still does. i pretty much lived on apple fritters and cherry pie when i was pregnant with him.  healthy, i know.  so, i thought i would share some yummy and pretty darn healthy recipes & ideas with ya'll.  as well as, a cake recipe.  because who can resist?

my new favorite salad.  cabbage, apple, and walnut salad.  we made out on NYE.

got clementines? make this cake.  it's actually not the most unhealthy cake.

take the 7 day challenge.  7 new recipes in 14 days.  jump start dinner and get out of the rut!

make $20 stretch and help folks with real food problems

start planning.  month of meals.

this is the next salad that i'm going to make out with.  i love salads that can hold their own in the fridge for a bit.

finally, breakfast tacos!  i crave protein like nobody's business with this baby.  i made these up earlier and have been eating them for breakfast, lunch, and snack time.

breakfast tacos
1 egg, scrambled
1 fajita size tortilla, whole wheat ot whatever your prefer
1 1/2 T. salsa
small handful of shredded cheddar
2 T. smashed black beans or refried beans
dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt
avocado or cilantro, optional
in toaster oven or microwave, melt cheese on tortilla.  fill with beans, eggs, salsa, and sour cream. enjoy! 

Monday, December 31, 2012

january month of meals

last month, i planned our dinners out for the month.  it was the first time i had done it and i have to say i really enjoyed it.  we did save a bit of money, ate out less, and always had a quick meal to make.  most of the dinners i chose i could buy the ingredients for once, while others required perishables, i just had mike pick them up on our weekly milk + bread run.  i did find that i over planned a bit and did not end up needing as many dinners.  so you will see some repeats and less dinners this month.  what i did do right was picking up some frozen things like veggies, cheese pizza, and ravioli.  they really helped on those days that i was super tired.  and, frankly, if you are making dinner from scratch most of the can give yourself a break and throw a frozen pizza in the oven.  this isn't food network.  it's just dinner.  so, here's the plan for this month.  i hope it helps with any new year's resolutions you may have...

dinner ideas
1. roasted veggie tacos with vigo brand rice + beans (add meat for mike's tacos)
2. salmon burgers with salad
3. tomato glazed meatloaf with mashed potatoes + spinach (smitten kitchen cookbook)
4. baked sausages with colcannon + applesauce
5. korean ribs with rice + cabbage
6. sausage bean + kale stew
7. ham + bean soup
8. refried bean enchiladas (vension for mike)
9. spaghetti with caramelized onion, spinach, and parm
10. beef stroganoff with noodles and roasted broccoli
11. crockpot chili with cornbread
12. beef shortribs with polenta and veggies
13. crockpot jambalaya
14. sweet + sour chicken with rice (time for dinner cookbook)
15. chicken + sausage potpies (i just use storebought pie crust)
16. sausage + latkes
17. frozen cheese ravioli with veggie sauce and sausage
18. pizza pockets with salad
19. italian sausage + peppers
20. grilled cheese with tomato soup
21. chicken cutlets with arugula salad
22. red lentil soup

breakfast ideas
yogurt + granola
huevos rancheros
sweet potato hash
whole wheat waffles
whole wheat muffins
whole wheat bagels
cinnamon raisin french toast (sundays)

lunch ideas
quinoa + fried egg

snack ideas
cottage cheese
hardboiled eggs
granola bars
goldfish crackers
veggies + dip
chips + salsa

Saturday, December 1, 2012

a month of meals

i've either entered the nesting phase or have WAY too much time on my hands.  however, i have read on quite a few blogs lately and talked with a few friends...apparently planning meals out and doing the shopping for a month of dinners is a money saver/time saver.  i already spend very little on groceries, but lately we have been going over our budget.  mostly, because with this pregnancy comes pregnancy brain, morning sickness, and "ohmygodiamsotired i can't even make a sandwich". it all leads to eating out more and/or prepackaged dinners bought at the last minute. both not all that delicious.
also, i think by not really planning out snacks and lunches and times that i can't bear to prepare food, i end up leaving myself with a kitchen with no back up plan.  supermom isn't making as many appearances these days. hence, the frozen pizza and ravioli on my grocery list.
so....i went down the road of crazy and planned a month of meals. feel free to poach any or all of these for your own planning purposes.
a few things... this plan took me about an hour to do.  i stuck with mostly staple dinners and threw a couple of new recipes in there. i typically have a pretty well stocked pantry so i just needed to replace a few items.  it may vary based on your pantry. the meat, frozen food, and pantry items will be purchased once this month.  some of the produce that keeps well, like carrots, potatoes, onions, and sugar snap peas, will be purchased once. the same with the dairy...some like shredded cheese i can buy once and freeze or some like buttermilk have a long shelf life. otherwise, i will (of course) be making small, short trips to the store weekly based on what perishables i need to stock up on. or telling mike to do it. finally, i  did 26 dinners instead of 31 to allow room for leftovers and the holidays.  also, i will be picking 4 - 6 dinners from the list weekly to make instead of planning every single night of the month. the bulk of my shopping is done at costco, aldi, and fareway.

here is the meal plan:

cut veggies + dip (ranch seasoning with yogurt)
quick bread gone healthy (check pinterest)
granola + yogurt
bean dip
hard boiled eggs
cottage cheese
smoothies (i just buy a bunch of cheap frozen fruit and wing it)
granola bars ( we love these nature valley brand protein bars they sell at costco)
goldfish crackers (i'm succumbing)

grilled cheese
noodles or cheese ravioli

whole wheat pancakes
french toast
eggs + breakfast meat
biscuits + gravy (clearly reserved for the weekend. i'm not that much of a fatty.)

1. crockpot chile colorado burritos with rice
2. chili rellano casserole
3. lasagna with salad
4. crockpot chili
5. crockpot beef stroganoff with salad
6. beef satay with ramen in peanut ginger sauce
7. baked sausages with apples, onions, and potatoes
8. italian sausage meatball sandwiches with salad
9. sloppy joes with baked fries and cut veggies
10. baked penne with salad
11. crockpot stuffed peppers with mashed potatoes
12. sausage, bean, and kale stew
13. (venison) steak salad with tomatoes, onion, and bleu cheese
14. tuna noodle casserole with salad
15. venison roast with mashed potatoes and roasted carrots
16. shepard's pie (with leftover roast & potatoes from #15)
17. crockpot korean ribs with rice and braised cabbage
18. baked sausages with colcannon + applesauce (use cabbage from #17 for colcannon)
19. greek burgers with pita, cukes, tomatoes, feta, and onion
20. sausages with latkes + applesauce
21. braised short ribs with polenta and roasted veg (christmas dinner?)
22. venison enchiladas with rice
23. crockpot chili
24. baked fried chicken drumsticks with rainbow salad
25. macaroni + cheese
26. black eyed peas with leeks and kielbasa and cornbread (new years eve)

so far, i have spent about $100 - 150 less than i typically would for the whole month. we shall see how the rest of the month goes...i will give updates.  also, let me know if you all try this or already do it.  i'd love to hear your thoughts.  so far, i really like having a fully stocked kitchen with all the ingredients to make over half of these meals. now if only we could get a massive snow storm...
check out january's month of meals plan and to read more about what i learned by planning dinner out for a whole month!

Friday, November 16, 2012

homemade runzas

an actual runza.  

last week i posted runzas on my must haves for the freezer and had a few folks ask me what a runza is...besides telling them that they are bread stuffed with deliciousness, i thought i would share my go to recipe.  these are definitely a weekend kitchen project. however, they freeze/reheat great and are pretty fun to make. kids can easily help fill and fold the runzas, too.

homemade runzas
2 lbs of ground meat, preferably beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium head of cabbage, shredded
american cheese, optional
4 1/2 c. flour, divided
1 /2 c. sugar
2 pkgs. (4 1/2 t.) of active dry yeast
1 t. salt
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. shortening
3/4 c. milk
2 eggs

{make dough} combine 1 3/4 c. flour, sugar, salt, and yeast.  heat milk, water, and shortening to 120 degrees.  pour over flour mixture and add eggs. beat with standing mixer for 4 minutes.  stir in remaining flour. knead, with standing mixer,  until smooth and elastic. about 6-8 minutes. cover for 1 hr.
meanwhile {make filling} in large dutch oven, saute onion in a bit of oil or butter.  add meat and brown.    add cabbage and cook until wilted.  season very well with salt and pepper.

{assemble runzas} on a large floured surface, roll out dough.  you want the dough to rolled out to a little more than 1/4 inch thickness.  this is where it can get now need to divide your rolled out dough into a even number, same sized rectangles. they should be about 8" x 6".  fill half of the long side, of each rectangle, with your meat filling.  add cheese if you so desire. fold the dough over the meat filling and pinch the sides to make sure nothing delicious escapes. repeat.

{to eat immediately} place on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown

{to prepare for freezing}  place on a baking sheet and  par bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for no more than 10 minutes.  cool completely and individually wrap in plastic wrap and then store in a freezer bag.  good for up to six months.

{to heat from freezer} wrap runza in foil, bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes.

Monday, November 12, 2012

getting in the groove

weeks 13 and 14 of this pregnancy were a bit rough as far as the morning sickness goes...i've had morning sickness since about 5 weeks so i'm kind of over it.  plus, i'm now in this weird morning sickness + nesting phase which leads to a lot of unfinished projects, a house that looks like a bomb hit, and a grumpy mommy at the end of the day.  i also have not done much cooking or meal planning for the past two months.  see the empty slots on our what's for dinner page for proof.  i'm not promising that i'll be getting back to that anytime soon, either.  however, i did more cooking and prep this past week/weekend then i have in a long time.  yesterday i cut up a bunch of fruit for the week, hard boiled a dozen eggs for snack times, made granola for my morning yogurt, made a pot of black eyed peas (i froze some and saved some for my favorite 101 cookbooks recipe), doubled our dinner so that i could put some in the freezer, and made these cookies with hendrix.  oh, and i made breakfast instead of making mike take us out. for the first time, in a long time i feel like i have a head start on this week's meals and snacks.  this pregnancy has me craving protein like crazy and eating small meals throughout the day does better for me.  so, if i have no quick snacks then bad things happen and i get sick. hopefully, this week is a little better and my prepping helps out.

here's what we're having for dinner this week...

chile colorado burritos with yellow rice and pineapple
tartiflette with green salad
black eyed peas with leeks (adding beef kielbasa for mike)
venison chops with mashed potatoes and sauteed collards with mushrooms
mushroom meatloaf with roasted brussel sprouts and cheddar squash muffins

{check out amy's meatless mondays for great ideas or a whole month of meatless mondays.}

if you are in the omaha metro area and are wanting to help make thanksgiving special for folks in need then please consider joining the dessert drive that the heart ministry is hosting this week.

if you'd like to help the folks and small businesses in NYC that were affected by sandy then check this site out.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

whoa baby. here we go again.

hendrix made this in preschool

well, it's official.  we're expecting.  for those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile you know that i have been baby crazy since about hendrix's first birthday.  i am happy to say that shortly after hendrix's fourth birthday in march we will be saying hello to another baby.  baby #2 is due may 7th.   i'm getting pretty excited now that the morning sickness is starting to go away and my energy is coming back.  also, if your morning sickness is real bad....zofran is your friend. for reals. hendrix is pretty pumped too and has been pretty great on the days i am feeling especially gross or tired.  mike is like a deer in headlights, but what can you expect?
which brings me to the story i promised to tell all of you...the one about how we brought hendrix home and we had no food in the house.  hendrix was born about 2 1/2 weeks before his due date and i was on bed rest the week before he was born. silly me thought you actually went around your due date and that i had time.  i did not.  also, mike can not be trusted at the grocery store.  i remember coming up with a list of a few things for him to get based on a few quick meals i figured i could throw together.  he came back with cans of chef boyardee. gross.  see why i insist on giving new parents food, slow cookers, and recipes? i did, however, have my slow cooker that my girlfriend, becky, had given me at my baby shower.  becky has five boys...i think she understood the need for a momma to have some arsenal and how great it is to receive something non-baby related at your shower.  because many blankets and hats does one baby need?  i broke that slow cooker out and used it all the time.  it was a few weeks though before i could really come up for air and go to the store for what i really needed....easy snacks + meals. let's face it, actual meals don't always happen in the first few weeks. so, that brings me to what i think you really need to stock your pantry, fridge, and freezer with before the baby arrives....

snack time!
granola (loose and bars)
hummus + pita chips
black beans, shredded cheese, and tortilla chips
cut veggies
dark chocolate

homemade freezer meals!
pizza dough
pizza pockets
sliced meatloaf for sandwiches
pot pies
rainbow soup
quinoa pancakes
whole grain muffins
chicken hand pies

store bought freezer meals!
trader joe's gyoza dumplings (so good!)
trader joe's burritos

  • if you are still building your pantry, check out my pantry checklist.  to spread the cost out when building your pantry just add a few items every week to your shopping list.  you'll get there in no time. 
  • to see more tips on prepping food for a new parents, check this post out. 
  • to see what supplies i think a new baby and parents actually need...check this post out. 

anything i am missing? let me know.  be kind, though.  remember i have pregnancy brain.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

rainbow soup

garden tomatoes from earlier this year.  now my garden looks like the apocalypse hit .

when i posted the top ten slow cooker meals, i heard from a lot of new mommas and soon to be new mommas.  (remind to tell you all about the time i came home with a new baby and no food in the house. it was my first and i apparently thought i was going have time to cook.)  this recipe is for you's easy to make, freezes well, can be made in the slow cooker or on the stove top, is super healthy for growing babies in the belly, super great for recovering new mommies, and if you use a little clever marketing...a toddler might like it.  hendrix calls this rainbow soup and loves it.  oh, it's pretty darn cheap to make too! i posted about it a few years ago, but i figured it was worth sharing again. it's basically a very versatile minestrone recipe.  feel free to add some cooked, sliced italian sausage if you like. always add parmesan cheese. xo!
i love this twist on the traditional minestrone. it is so colorful, versatile, and delicious! don't have butternut squash? use potato. or sweet potatoes.  don't like yellow squash? use green beans or zucchini. you can use kale or spinach instead of cabbage, too. cannellini beans, pinto beans or chickpeas would work in place of the kidney beans, as well. get creative!  this works especially well if you froze any of your garden's bounty earlier this year. 

anna's minestrone
3 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 -2 celery stalks, chopped
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1 t. minced fresh rosemary or 1/4 t. dried
coarse salt and pepper, to taste
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained (or fresh, chopped)
1/2 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/2 lb. shredded green cabbage
1 can (15 oz.) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 c. yellow squash, chopped
1 c. green peas, frozen
1 minced garlic clove

7 c. water
shredded parmesan for serving

STOVETOP: in large pot, heat oil over medium - add onion, carrots, celery, red pepper flakes, rosemary, s&p (to taste) - cook until onion begins to turn golden (5-8 mins.) - add tomatoes, cook 1 minute - add butternut squash, cabbage, beans, and 7 c. water - bring to a boil  - reduce to a simmer and cook until all veggies are tender (15 minutes) - stir in peas and cook 5-10 minutes - season with s&p, stir in garlic - serve with parmesan on top - enjoy!
SLOW COOKER: omit olive oil.  combine everything BUT greens and peas.  cook on low for 6-8 hours.  before serving, turn to high and add greens and peas.  cook until greens are wilted. serve with parmesan on top - enjoy!

Friday, September 7, 2012

GSW {menu plan} :: 14

cute kitty photo of the day
it's feeling very indian summer like around here.  did you know that indian summer by the doors is the song our family walked down the aisle to when we got married?  it's true.  except it wasn't really an aisle.  mike, hendrix, and i just sort of entered the room where everyone was waiting and then the ceremony began.  what is true is that i love mike best.  better than all the rest.
now.  onward with the menu plan!  i'll be honest...i couldn't get away with serving all of the dinner ideas, i post on these menu plans, at my house.  mike and hendrix would be disappointed or disgusted.  i would eat all of the dinner ideas and love every bit of it.  those two? not so much.  so this week's menu is still seasonally influenced, but is actually what we will be eating next week. i'm hitting two birds with one stone you might say....

1. emily's meatloaf with roasted butternut squash and a cherry tomato salad
2. sausage, bean, and kale stew with crusty bread (except with chard)
3. roasted chicken drumsticks with peach bbq sauce and potato salad
4. best {eggplant} sandwich ever with oven baked french fries
5. grilled italian sausages with butternut squash latkes

weekend lunch & double it for the freezer....
tomato soup with grilled cheeses

prep ahead for snack/treat time....
homemade animal crackers

Friday, August 24, 2012

GSW {menu plan} :: thirteen

elegant dinner at our house

1. grilled chicken with avocado & grilled corn salad

2. pork ragu over noodles serve with green salad topped with apples, almonds, and bleu cheese tossed in a simple vinaigrette {weekend dinner alert!}

3. salmon with chickpea, feta, and parsley salad {salad keeps well in fridge for lunches or snack time}

4. grilled pork tenderloin with peaches

5.  black bean stuffed peppers

going to a party? bring dessert and a hostess gift...
fruit crisp + place mats

put aside cleaning your house and freeze some tomatoes...
how to freeze tomatoes
we'll be finishing our {play}barn this weekend and hoping for rain.  thankfully, our friend, tony, is coming to help and his daughter will be here to play with hendrix.
if you are looking for something to do this weekend in the omaha metro, try...millard days, shopping the furniture sale at oh darling!, dundee day on saturday, take a road trip to the nebraska state fair, or go to the world O! water festival at chalco hills on saturday.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

GSW menu :: twelve

if hendrix can make dinner. so can you.

it's thursday! which means that it is one more day until friday and the weekend! it also means it is time for next week's menu plan.  this weather is making me want to give mother nature a big ol' wet one.  right on the lips.  if only she'd send {more} rain...
onto the menu.  we're going to still celebrate summer's bounty, but we're going to add some fall flavors, too.  because why not?  some kids are already in school and this summer was one giant heat wave. here it goes...

1. shrimp tacos with spiced peach jam
2. slow cooker jambalaya
3. eggplant stuffed with couscous + pine nuts (sub other nuts if you like)
4.  chicken, butternut squash, and quinoa stew (weekend dinner alert!)
5. quick miso glazed salmon with your freshest veggies on the side

make a pie because the weather is nice....

salad for lunches...

herb garden going a little too crazy? start freezing!
how to freeze herbs

kids already back in school and you are frazzled?
top 10 quick {DALS} weeknight dinners

Thursday, August 9, 2012

GSW menu plan :: eleven

tomato, corn, + basil salad and cucumber salad

happy thursday!  it rained and is so cool this morning...we are loving it!!  last week, there was no menu plan, but we are back.  i figured you had leftovers. ha! also, i got too busy.  to find more dinner ideas and the other {garden says what?} menu plans go to our what's for dinner page.  in zone 5, we are still celebrating all of summer's bounty and there is a huge variety to pick from, but with the constant sunny, dry, and hot weather i am a little sick of it.  hence, the casserole and summer stews on this week's menu plan.  let's get started.

1. chicken, sausage, + corn summer stew
2. fish BLTs with avocado and a summer salad of your choice
3. chili relleno casserole
4. slow cooker eggplant + chickpea stew
5. caprese tart (for a big meat eater...serve some grilled italian sausages on the side)

preserve your tomatoes.  an easy and delicious way (yields 6 pints)...
tomato + basil simmer sauce

plan ahead and make your own yogurt to go pouches....
homemade gogurt

Thursday, July 26, 2012

GSW{meal plan}::ten

found via google images

it's rained!  can you believe it?!? and there is more in the forecast. hallelujah! now.  onto next week's dinner.  lots and lots of summer produce to celebrate, so let's get to work. 
again, these are all very simple recipes, requiring little technique, instead relying on the fresh produce to do the work. and since you rely on produce your grocery bill will be cheaper since you are buying in-season or practically free if you have a garden (or a friend's to poach).   if you weren't here last week then check out GSW::nine for a printable pantry checklist. if you are finding that you need to build your pantry then stretch the expense out by adding a few pantry items to your grocery list for a few weeks until you have a completed pantry. 

1. clementine's ratatouille (vegetable stew - french style)
2. yogurt grilled chicken with cucumber + mint salad (30 minute dinner!)
3. macaroni alla norma (eggplant pasta in 15 minutes)
4. open face sandwiches with watermelon, feta, & basil salad
5. roasted bbq chicken with corn + basil cakes
for drinking....
strawberry cucumber smoothie

for freezer cooking...
basic pantry marinara
great to get a head start on the macaroni alla norma (jarred would be just as great).  this is also my go-to, favorite marinara.

for dessert...
peach pie

Thursday, July 19, 2012

GSW::nine {meal plan}

this week i have been surrounded by busy, busy ladies.  some of them already mommas.  others getting ready to be mommas.  some not mommas.  all of them busy and hoping to get a home cooked meal on the table.  so this meal plan will make use of basic pantry items.  it will still celebrate the bounty of summer produce, but it will mostly be dinners you can throw together when you walk in the door from a long day of being super woman. all them will take no longer than it takes to make a box of macaroni + cheese. as always, try to get some dinner prep done the morning of or the night chop the veggies for dinner, thaw the meat, pound chicken out, etc. you'll start out the day feeling pretty accomplished and then when dinner comes, you will have saved yourself some extra time.

1. easy shrimp tacos

2. sesame noodles with chicken, cucumbers, and snap peas

3. blt's add some avocado
 make the blt with your favorite tomatoes and add some sliced avocado for extra protein.

4. green bean, mushroom, and sausage skillet supper
put a pot of water on to boil. heat oil in a skillet, add 1/2 chopped red onion and 2 chopped sausage links.  saute until sausage is cooked through and onion is soft. add 1 container of mushrooms, sliced and cook until soft.  meanwhile, boil a generous handful of green beans for 3 minutes. add a 1 T. minced garlic to the pan and cook 30 seconds. add drained green beans. add a couple glugs of white wine and simmer.  season with salt and pepper.  let simmer for 5 minutes.  serve with blue cheese on top and crusty bread on the side.

5.  chili rubbed chicken with avocado, corn, tomato, and shredded spinach

instead of dessert, how about some time saving and organizing tools?
my printable pantry checklist
my printable menu plan + grocery list worksheet

after all of this {super}woman's work, you're going to need a drink....
stone fruit sangria

Thursday, July 12, 2012


howdy! i finally made it out to a farmer's market last night and was so happy to see all the beautiful, colorful produce for sale.  our garden is really starting to offer up variety, as well.  this week's menu really celebrates the variety we are enjoying these days in zone 5 of nebraska. 
also, if you want to be served some locally and seasonally inspired foods {with a side of excellent reading material} check out edible omaha's summer release party tonight at dante from 4:30 to 6:30.  go here for more information.


1. eggplant parmesan {weekend dinner alert!}
2. haricot vert with shallots served with dill tuna salad {prep ahead}
3. mexican stuffed peppers with quinoa and black beans {prep ahead}
4. swiss chard fritatta {super quick dinner alert!}
5. bbq chicken with campfire potatoes and cabbage + corn slaw {delicious dinner alert!}

the stone fruits are making an appearance, why not make this...
stone fruit lattice pie

hope this menu brings a lot of color and flavor to your dinners next week. xo!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

breakfast of champions

last week i mentioned that breakfast was my nemesis.  it used be lunch but now it is breakfast.  hendrix doesn't do well with a bowl of cereal and milk.  meaning...he won't eat it.  he will eat eggs.  eggs for days.  and i am over it.  so we are mixing things up.  here's what i came up with...with a little help from my friends. 

these should all take about the time it takes for your coffee to brew.  or your tea to steep.

julie's almond butter + banana grilled breakfast sandwich
{optional: add mini chocolate chips &/or dip into a french toast batter before grilling}
the how to: smear bread of choice with almond butter and add some sliced bananas...grill & eat.

whole wheat bagel with cream cheese, tomato slices, and baby greens
the how to: toast bagel, smear with cream cheese, add baby greens and tomato slices. eat.

homemade granola with greek yogurt, honey, and fruit
{prep ahead: make a batch of granola weekly and keep in the freezer to preserve the crunch.  you can even make your own greek yogurt}
the how to: mix granola with yogurt.  top with honey and fresh fruit.

hard boiled eggs with "toddler" muffins (this is a running out the door breakfast)
{prep ahead: the muffins can be made ahead and frozen for up to a month.  the eggs can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to a week}
the how to: throw in it in your bag and eat it in the car.

quinoa pancakes with nut butter and fruit
{prep ahead: the pancakes can be made ahead and frozen for up to a month}
the how to: reheat pancakes in your toaster.  smear with nut butter (peanut, almond, whatever) and top with fruit. eat.

the tofu scramble
{prep ahead: save the bits of last night's veggies to throw into this scramble in the morning}
the how to: scramble your veggies with tofu just as you would with eggs. season well and eat.

cottage cheese with tomatoes, basil, and pepper
the how to: add chopped tomatoes and basil to cottage cheese.  mix.  top off with black pepper. eat.

these are for a more leisurely morning.  you can make all these while you drink a couple cups of coffee. or whatever your poison is.

julie's breakfast hash
{prep ahead: chop veggies up and keep in fridge for up to a week.}
the how to: shred a potato or a sweet potato (for each person) in your food processor, saute in a skillet with olive oil.  add veggies and cook until everything is softened.  season.  add an egg on top, if you please.  eat.

egg quesadillas
the how to: i'll let heidi of 101 cookbooks direct you on the ways of the egg quesadillas.  they are delicious.