Tired of the Weeknight Dinner Rotation?

It’s warming up. There are thunderstorms and new puppies and kids counting down days until summer break.  It’s the “I’m tired”, unmotivated, “are we there yet?” time of year.

I’ve been in that sleepy, tired, this again tread for a while. It’s so hard to be conscientious when being lazy is soooo much easier. It’s so hard to eat wholesome when processed is so much more convenient. Then I will find some new stuff to try, and it pulls me from the rut. Here’s a few recipes to mix up the monotony and bring a life back to the weekly dinner rotation.

Grilled Hamburgers with Faux Fried Okra

Not feeling the grill, but longing for summer BBQs?
Oven Baked BBQ Chicken with Squash Casserole
Oven bake some chicken at 375 until done, but before it’s done, slather on your favorite BBQ sauce. Add yummy squash casserole, and dinner bakes while you play! I butterflied chicken breasts so everything cooked at the same temperature for the same amount of time.

Sick of the piles of dishes? No one will ever guess this meal comes from dirtying just one pot.
Pasta Wonderpot – This recipe from Martha Stewart Living is a shoe-in for a permanent spot in my recipe box. Sooooo simple, such good flavor. I added subbed out some of the water for 1/4 cup of white wine and 2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth. I recommend using half of the onion. A whole one was a bit much.

I sautéed chicken cutlets to serve over the pasta, but I could see dropping in some Italian sausage or mushrooms to cook right in the pot with everything else.

Try these super easy lettuce wraps from The Complete Savorist.  They are quick, yummy, and I added some sautéed coleslaw mix and shredded carrot for an extra healthy punch. When you must get out of the kitchen, meet some friends for some Asian diner food. Take the kids and embrace the chaos. Everyone needs a break sometimes (& some other adults to talk with)!

Worn plum out?
About thirteen years ago, I was a consultant for Pampered Chef. Every once in a while when I’m dead on my feet, I wake up in front of the prepared crescent dough and find myself serving Chicken and Broccoli Braid or Taco Ring for dinner.

Looking at an overstuffed schedule? Cook one night, and have leftovers to eat on the rest of the week!
Tex-Mex
Teriyaki
Mediterranean

Try taking time over the weekend and prep ahead some crock pot meals. Start them in the morning when you are READY-to-GO! and they will be smelling great and ready to serve by the time mom runs out of gas. I’m currently obsessed with trying all the ideas over at New Leaf Wellness.

Still feeling blue?
Meet some friends for to meet you for some Asian diner food or Sunday brunch. Everyone needs a break sometimes!

So I’m in to salad lately…

I’ve been training for a half marathon. It’s been in the high seventies in Texas. It feels like spring, so I’ve been into salads. Lovely colorful salads. And running in the sunshine….aaaaaahhhh. I do love Texas.

 Pecan Crusted Chicken Berry Salad

Sally’s Baking Addiction’s pecan crusted chicken. (Totally worth the effort to make a big batch) layered on organic mixed baby greens, honey goat cheese, atrawberries, blackberries, avocados. Balsamic drizzle. 

Oh my, craveable.

Steak & Quinoa Salad

Butter lettuce
pecans, dried cranberries, chopped apples, avocado, red quinoa, grilled steak. 

Yummy, simple, and kid approved!

Could Not Be Easier Chicken Salad

Shredded chicken breast, juice of one lime, small handful cilantro, one ripe avocado, few dashes of Pickapeppa sauce on a bed of sweet kale greens.

Delicious and guilt-free!

Holiday Checklist, Dinner – Done!

The hustle bustle is tuning up, and soon moms across the world will have to-do lists longer than their arms.  Please let me give your bustle a little less hustle with planned out meals for the holiday season.

Daily Dinner Plan – with Crockpot options

November 30
Pork Chops with Caramelized Onions, Apples and Thyme, Quick Roasted Asparagus

December 1
Diner Comfort Food – Cheesesteak Style or Patty Melt Sandwiches

December 2
One Pot Chicken and Rice – you’ll have leftovers, so you won’t have to worry about hubby’s lunch tomorrow or the rice for next week’s soup

December 3
Minestrone Soup

December 4
Baked Chicken Parmesan or this yummy looking Milanese (less cheese, more calories for cookies) An even easier version is this chicken parmesan casserole you could assemble ahead.

December 5
Paula Deen’s Pulled Pork Stuffed into Baked Potatoes (make a double batch of the pork, and you’re ready for next week)

December 6
Chicken Cordon Bleu with Steamed or Roasted Veggies and a Green Salad

December 7
Baked white fish sliders with not-your-normal cole slaw and oven fries

December 8
Shredded Beef Tacos or mix it up with these Korean Style Lettuce Wraps (both of these yield awesome leftovers)

December 9
Chicken and Rice Soup

December 10
Stuffed Pasta Shells (add in sautéed dark greens instead of meat and make this dish for Meatless Monday) A great reason to make a big pot of marinara and freeze for another busy night.

December 11
Texas Chili Bar – no beans here! (brown the meat , onion and garlic, then pop in the crockpot with all the other ingredients so it’s ready when you are)

Tonight is family game night, and make your own bowls of chili couldn’t be easier! Save the extra cornbread for next week’s stuffed peppers.

December 12
Mediterranean Style One Dish Herb Chicken Bake

December 13
BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches (this is actually leftover pork from the baked potato night that I froze for a super quick meal)

December 14
Veggie Lo Mein

December 15
Tis this season for family and friends, so why not make Taco Tuesday an event? Grab a holiday flick or make an impromptu craft or gift wrapping party.  Try these Seven Layer Tostadas

December 16
Pioneer Woman’s Pork Chops with Pineapple fried rice

December 17
Chicken and Cornbread Stuffed Peppers OR My Stuffed Bell Peppers

December 18
My Potato Soup – a nod to my family heritage — so easy and yummy

December 19
Broiled Salmon and roasted veggies

December 20
Whisky BBQ Meatballs ( I use my BBQ sauce recipe, then  add mashed potatoes (or steamed veggies, or herbed noodles – the side options are endless)

December 21
Kid’s Night – Bake cookies, make treats, watch your favorite holiday movie, let them invite friends over for a sleepless slumber party – the kids hang out, then everyone goes home and goes to their own beds for sleeping

Dinner cooked in muffin tins makes everything easy to divide and easy to eat – Mary Beth’s Knock Your Socks off Meatloaf and Mac and Cheese Cups

December 22
Soupeasy dinner so you can get to those last minute items on your list

December 23
In Texas, Christmas brings Tamales – order some, or try these cheats

December 24 & 25
Christmas Eve & Christmas Day are not included since everyone has their own traditions

December 26
With new toys to try and games to play, try one of these breakfast casseroles to start, or end , your day

December 27
Supreme Pizza Pasta (toss in the slow cooker or even freeze ahead)

December 28
Grilled Venison Backstrap with Gingered Carrots

December 29
Pioneer Woman’s Sausage, Potato, and Kale Soup

December 30
Baked chimichangas

December 31
Stay in Date Nite – going out when you have young children is rare; I don’t want to spend it with crowds

Chicken Marsala with Garlic Whipped Potatoes & Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots

Forget the bubbly, this year I’m making these bourbon Blizzards.

Keep in the Freezer for One of Those Really Long Days – seriously, you don’t even need a side!

Make a Bunch and Save for Lunch

Pioneer Woman’s Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork – In the oven or slow cooker, this make it and leave it dish is great on slider rolls with sliced gouda or piled in tortillas with cilantro, queso fresco, sliced avocado, and a lime wedge for quick pork tacos – Plus there are usually plenty of leftovers to freeze and use again*

Pecan Crusted Chicken – these take some prep up front, but they are easy to make and freeze great

Browned & seasoned ground beef, bison, or turkey (use in tacos, quesadillas, as pizza toppings)

Chicken Fajita meat – try this marinade to elevate them beyond normal week night.

Bring a Little Holiday Spirit into Your Kitchen

Christmas Scones

Gingerbread Waffles – I haven’t made these yet, but they are on my must try list

Fresh Cranberry Scones

Hosting Guests? These touches are sure to impress

For their room:

  • Recently I stayed at my brothers’ and one of the most welcome treats was their selection of pillows. Doesn’t sound like much, but with everyone having their own preference, being able to choose was a luxury. Of course, I picked them all!
  • Have an extra throw blanket in the room, especially for those who travel across the country, the climate change can be shocking

In the Morning:

  • Create a coffee and tea station next to a bowl of fruit so early risers can serve themselves and relax.
  • Your guests will be convinced they’re at a B&B with these breakfasts-Homemade donuts – these puppies are all baked so you can indulge without standing over the frypan or having guilt-Blueberry Baked Oatmeal or Bobby’s Oatmeal Stuffed Apples
  • Baked egg boats would be restaurant worthy
  • Set a loaf of bread to make overnight, so you wake to Fresh Bread machine with make ahead berry butter spread
  • Save some time with this gourmet casserole

Stock Ahead for Comfy Touches:

  • make sure the bar is stocked, grab an extra bottle of wine to mull (awesome on the day guests are arriving), have some bottled sparkling water or ginger ale on hand
  • early in the month, check dry goods in your pantry so you are prepared for last minute at home meals that come with an unexpected winter storm front
  • make cookie dough and freeze, so fresh baked cookies are quick to whip up

Fix-Aead Dinners that Feed a Crowd:

Prepping for fall: the back to school dinner debacle

I love the idea of having a pantry stocked and ready freezer full, and not ordering pizza, grabbing fast food, or eating way late on busy nights. as with most things in mothering, a little advance preparation goes a long way. Below are some options to help you find a dinner plan that fits your family.

I love this spin on meal planning from Beauty Through Imperfection! Such a simple and easy solution. 

Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler (my new favorite blog for all things home) has monthly meal plan calendars all set and ready to download. Just another way she makes life a little easier for us regular folk! 

For those of us who have the room and are willing to do a little more advance prep, freezer cooking is so nice. 

I actually tried my first round of freezer cooking right before baby girl was born. It went okay.  Back to school and sports has driven me to try, try again. For this round, I am a little more seasoned. I stuck with recipes I know score well. SO, I thought I would share my plan with you. 

I like to follow the cook & freeze extra for most of my freezer stock. It’s just easier for me versus two days of three to four hours of shopping & prep. Plus, I feel like I’m not breaking the bank with one monster shopping trip. I’m also a sucker for the assemble, freeze, and dump in the crockpot later plan. 

I will plan my menus for the month of Septwmber off of the following list, making sure I fix every dish at least once. This way I can still plan according to my store’s weekly deals. Each of these recipes will be doubled and the excess frozen. This is especially helpful on time consuming recipes. Once you are committed time wise and the mess is made, it not much of a pain to work a bit longer for that extra day of cooking freedom. For the mixes and kits I will buy the ingredients for a couple recipes each shopping trip.

Breakfast
Blueberry muffins
Banana bread
Waffle sticks
Pancake mix
Breakfast burritos
Granola
Cinnamon rolls
French toast
Scones
Mini frittata

Meals
Beef enchiladas
Chicken enchiladas (sans sauce, to be made serving day)
Chicken chile relleno casserole
Sloppy joe filling
Dirty rice kit
Lasagna
Italian Sausage & peppers
Taco meat
Meat sauce
Turkey toquitos
Chicken chile toquitos
Shredded beef tacos
BBQ pork
Shredded spicy DP pork
Garlic lime chicken
Meatloaf cups
Pork chops
Marinated pork tenderloin
King ranch chicken casserole
Chicken pot pie

Soup de jour
Minestrone
Cheeseburger soup
Tortilla soup
Tomato soup base
Chicken noodle soup base
Wedding soup base

Freezer stockpile
Smoothie packs
Marinara
Meatballs
Tex, teriyaki, and Mediterranean spiced chicken
Organic veggies
Chicken nuggets – if you have a good baked version- I’m all ears, please send it in!
Chili meat (browned and seasoned)
Pizza dough
Pie crust
Pizza sauce
Pesto
Apple crumble
Cookie dough
Pound cake
Popsicles

Pantry
Rice
Pasta
Oats
Jarred salsa
Chipotle peppers
Green chiles
Chipotle peppers in adobo
Vegetarian refried beans
Canelini & black beans
Chocolate chips
Maple syrup

Mixes
Taco seasoning
Ranch seasoning
Cinnamon sugar 
Tex-Mex Seasoning

Checkmate. Ready for fall.

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Need a little more inspiration? Check out my Dinner Advent Calendar from the holidays last year.

Dinner’s in the Freezer

When I was very pregnant with Baby Girl, the doctor started talking induction and I became more and more obsessed with the avoidance of an induction. I walked, I ate spicy foods, I walked, I did EVERYTHING I could trying to get Baby Girl to join us.  No go.  I had contractions that went nowhere for days…she was nice and comfy.  Finally, after lots of debating and looking at my past deliveries, we set a date for induction.  Well, this hadn’t happened with either of the boys, so I had major anxiety.  I decided to put my Thanksgiving break and nervous energy to use and be uber prepared for an easy Welcome Home.  In retrospect, I wish I had done this with all of my deliveries.  This list is super awesome for anyone coming home from deployment, surgery, a new baby or just heading into a really busy season…cough, cough, the HOLIDAYS.

Needless to say, where there is anxiety, there is chocolate and compulsions. Logically, I became obsessed with Pinterest and found Saving You Dinero and it was amazing!  Bless Janell’s heart, she had done all of the organizing and testing for me.  I found the recipes with the least processed foods, gave Man a small disclaimer that I was about to experiment on our family (thankfully I was super pregnant and he didn’t argue), and went shopping.  It did raise some eyebrows when I spent all day Thanksgiving cooking and wouldn’t let anyone eat any of it.

Below are the recipes our family decided were for keeps. We did try others from her website, but they just weren’t ones we would eat over and over.  Plus, it’s hard to keep up, she makes great updates all the time!

Freezer Supreme Pizza Pasta
This has been a hit with the kids. I found it as a crockpot meal, and tweaked it a little, but hours & hours seemed like overkill.  You can thaw and heat on the stove for a quick to the table dinner – it needs just long enough for flavors to meld.
Serves 6-8 (makes 2 quart sized bags w/ little leftovers) = 2 freezer meals
Gather:
1 ½ lb ground meat (maybe split between sausage & ground beef)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes 
16 oz can tomato sauce
2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
10 oz spiral or other pasta(note this is not a full pound of pasta)
2 cups shredded cheese (I use a mix of cheddar and Italian style cheeses)
1 sleeve uncured pepperoni (chop and add at end)
1 small can sliced black olives (added last 30 min)
1 handful green olives (added last 30 min)
1 teaspoon dried oregano (added last 30 min)
6 Tablespoons of parmesan cheese (added last 30 min)
To Make
Cook ground beef. Drain and cool completely. (Or you can cook it the morning you prepare the meal and add it to the crock pot.) Add it to the freezer bag with the green pepper, onion, celery, garlic cloves, tomatoes, chili pepper, salt, and pepper.
Lay flat & freeze.
Write on the bag
Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 5-6 hours on low.
Last 30 minutes, add olives, oregano and parmesan.
When it’s almost done, cook pasta according to package and drain.
Add cooked pasta, 1cup of cheese and pepperoni to the crock pot and mix well.
Add more cheese to the top and serve!
Serve with
Salad and breadsticks
Veggie Dippers
Steamed Green Beans

Garlic Lime Chicken
Serves 4-6 (makes 1 gallon sized bag – easily adjusted depending on how many chicken breasts you buy) = 1 freezer meal
Gather:
1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
¼ cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes) – used ¼ cup from little plastic lime
1 cup water (I like to use low-sodium chicken stock)
1 teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
½ teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons butter
To Make
Add all the ingredients to freezer bag. Lay flat and freeze.
Write on the bag
Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 5-6 hours.
Serve With
Spoon over a bowl of cilantro lime rice
Shred and chill for a quick salad topper
Adjustments
The flavors in this dish are good, but we are not fans of the texture that comes from cooking chicken in a crockpot. I would not normally braise a chicken breast. I recommend picking up some chicken cutlets and using the ingredients to create a Texan Chicken Piccata (lime for lemon, no capers) and serving over Angel Hair or zucchini Pasta & EVOO. If you go this route, don’t use the cup of water, just add a splash of white wine or chicken stock.

Garlic Honey Chicken
Serves 4-6 (Makes 1 gallon size freezer bag) = 1 freezer meal
Gather:
1 ½ to 2 pounds chicken (defrost if using frozen chicken) – going straight from freezer made the sauce too thin
6 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
½ cup honey
To Make
Add all the sauce ingredients to a quart size freezer bag & seal. Freeze sauce and buy fresh chicken when ready to make or place in a gallon size freezer bag with chicken portioned out.
Lay flat and freeze.
If using frozen chicken, defrost chicken and sear before adding to crock pot.
Write on the bag
Cook 3-4 hours on high or 5-6 hours on low (reduce cooking time if you thaw and sear chicken).
Serve With
Rice and steamed veggies, stir fried noodles use chicken wings & drummettes for a tailgate version

Shredded Beef Tacos
Serves 6-8 (1 gallon sized freezer bag) I have made this recipe and frozen the leftovers as a second meal = 1-2 freezer meals
Gather:
1 London Broil, chuck or top round roast (about 2 lbs), seasoned liberally with salt and pepper
1 cup beef stock
1 diced onion
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
1 Tablespoon Mexican oregano
1 ½ teaspoon chili powder (you can adjust this according to your taste)
1 teaspoon cumin
for garnish:  grated Monterrey Jack Cheese, sliced avocado, sour cream, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, lime slices
To Make
Add all the ingredients to a gallon size freezer bag & seal. Lay flat & freeze.
Write on the bag
When you are ready to cook the meal, dump the contents of the bag into the crock pot and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-7 hours. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-7 hours.

When the meat is cooked, you will need to strain the juices and add the juice back to the slow cooker. Shred the meat and add back to the juice in the slow cooker for about 30 minutes. Sometimes there is too much juice, so add it back slowly until you get your desired meat to liquid ratio.
Serve with
flour tortillas
Other taco fixings – feta or Monterrey jack shredded cheese sour cream, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.

Teriyaki Pork Chops
Serves 4 (1 gallon size freezer bag) = 1 freezer meal
Gather:
4 pork chops, about 1-inch thick
Salt and pepper to taste (you can sprinkle them before you add them to the bag.)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ cup reduced sodium soy sauce
⅓ cup chicken broth
To Make:
Add the pork chops, garlic cloves, brown sugar, soy sauce, and chicken broth to freezer bag. Lay flat & freeze.
Write on the bag
Cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 6-7 hours.
Serve With
White Rice
Steamed Veggies

Another Freezer/Crockpot Favorite

Paula Deen’s BBQ Pulled Pork This one is really great from the oven or smoker, but if you have to be away, it turns out great in the slow cooker too.
Serves 8-10 or 4-6 with leftovers
Gather:
Dry rub:
2 Tablespoons salt
2 Tablespoons black pepper
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons paprika
½ – ¾ teaspoon cayenne
4 pound shoulder pork roast (we use pork sirloin roast, picnic or butt)
2 cups apple juice
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire
1/2 Tablespoon liquid smoke
1/2 Tablespoon garlic powder
buns or rolls – awesome with King’s Hawaiian or homemade cheddar bread
BBQ sauce
To Make
Mix the dry rub ingredients in small bowl. Sprinkle dry rub all over the pork roast, pressing into the pork. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. I usually just rub the pork the night before.
Dutch Oven Method
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Combine liquid ingredients and the garlic powder in a medium bowl and pour into a large Dutch oven. Place pork in the oven and tightly cover with aluminum foil then lid. Roast for 4 hours or until fork tender and shreds easily.
Slow Cooker Method
Combine liquid ingredients and the garlic powder in a medium bowl and pour into slow cooker. Place pork on top and tightly cover with aluminum foil then lid. Roast for 6 hours on low or until fork tender and shreds easily. Remove from oven or slow cooker and let stand until cool enough to handle. Shred the pork with a fork or tongs into bite size pieces.
To Serve
Make sliders with brown and serve or King’s Hawaiian rolls or also great on a sesame seed bun

 

Need some more ideas? Try looking at my casseroles post Check out my Pinterest Board on Freezer Cooking or Crockpot/Slow Cooker Meals & Slow Cooker Pins I’ve Tried

 

What are some of your favorite recipes for the freezer & slow cooker? Please share!

Bering Bombs and Kids’ Colds

  • Hi autumn, bye autumn. Lovely Texas Weather. Last week we were soaked to the bone. It was almost 80 degrees yesterday…this morning we are waking up to forty-four, and tonight it will be in the twenties.

    Mamas, like it or not, cooler weather brings colds, the flu, allergies, and sick households. If you live in the south, it also brings ice days.

    After days of being coughed on, puked at, and booger smeared, sometimes Mom succumbs to all of the germs, the cupboards quickly go bare, and we need help! 

    Do yourself a favor and prepare ahead.  Stock the pantry with a few ingredients to make food on the fly.  Buy a box of cereal, quick cook oats, a box of crackers, ginger ale, a box of Popsicles, and a few cans of soup. Dried pasta and jarred or frozen marinara sauce are always crowd pleasers.  I try hard to keep some browned ground meat and cooked chicken in the freezer for a quick thaw and serve meal.  Frozen or canned fruits and vegetables can be a lifesaver. 

    If you really want to be an overachiever, grab a plastic bin to stash in your closet or under your bed and fill it with supplies for a winter craft, ingredients for hot chocolate, new play-doh, a few games they haven’t seen in awhile, bathtub paints…basically stuff to keep their attention when you’re stuck inside for mist of the day. There are some cute ideas on my Snow Day! Pinterest Board.

    Pantry Meals

    Southwest Skillet or try this one from Damn Delicious
    Shopping List:
    1 ½ cups brown or white rice
    3 cups chicken stock
    1-2 cups cubed cooked chicken or ground beef
    1 can Rotel or other canned tomatoes with chilis
    1 can black beans, rinsed
    1 cup frozen sweet corn
    1-2 cups sharp cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
    Sour cream or cream cheese, optional – stir in ½ cup after removing from the heat for creaminess
    *make it meatless by deleting the meat

    To make:
    Sauté rice in some oil or butter. Add chicken stock, Rotel, and corn. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, or until rice is tender.  Stir, add in meat and beans.  Top with cheese, turn off, cover and allow to stand 5-10 minutes.

    Thank you Gimmie Some Oven for the Easiest Crock Pot Tacos Ever
    Shopping List
    4 chicken breasts
    1 jar of your favorite salsa

    Off the Cuff Swedish Meatballs or Stroganoff
    Gather:
    1 batch prepared & cooked/frozen meatballs (this one is my go-to) or 1 pound browned seasoned ground beef or turkey
    2 Tablespoons butter
    2 Tablespoons flour
    1-2 cups warmed beef broth – add intermittently to achieve desired thickness
    2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    1 teaspoon prepared mustard
    1 small package frozen peas
    1 cup sour cream
    Egg noodles
    Dried or fresh parsley

    To Make:
    Bring a pot of water to boil. Salt water and cook egg noodles.  Add parsley, set aside.  In another pan, make a roux with flour and butter, add broth to create gravy.  Season with salt, pepper, mustard and Worcestershire sauce.  Add in peas, bring to gentle boil, and simmer 10-15 minutes.  Turn off heat and stir in sour cream.

    Toss It Together Southwest Chicken Soup
    This soup can be easily assembled with pantry and freezer ingredients
    Gather:
    32 oz (4c) carton low-sodium chicken broth
    3 cups cooked chicken (rotisserie or leftover work great)
    1/2 bag frozen sweet corn or confetti corn
    1 can Rotel
    juice of 1 lime
    2 teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano, dried
    1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
    Optional: pump up the protein and add one can of drained and rinsed black beans.

    To Make:
    Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes.
    Garnish with: crispy tortilla strips, sour cream, pico de gallo, avocado, cilantro, grated cheddar
    Easy to Keep on hand in the Freezer – Classic Chicken Pot Pie
    I add fresh thyme to the sauce, use herb roasted chicken, and sometimes have homemade pie crust but this general guide is too easy!

    Want some more pre-gathered meal ideas? Check out this post from Southern Plate!

    Down for the count? Keep the kids busy with these ideas:

  • http://www.babycenter.com/0_40-ways-to-entertain-your-kids-while-lying-down_10350158.bc?scid=mbtw_post20m_3w:1259&pe=MlV5blFFQnwyMDExMTEwMw
  • http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2013/05/easy-play-stations-for-busy-days.html

What’s for dinner?  Cool Weather Inspired Dishes

As the weather starts to slowly cool off a bit, I’ve been on a Tex-Mex kick.
Eats for this Week:
Roasted Chicken with Root Veggies
Chicken Enchilada Soup
Seriously awesome BBQ Sauce on Pork Loin with Red Skinned Potatoes Gratin
Tex-Mex Beef Enchiladas with Chili Sauce

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Roasted Chicken with Root Veggies – so simple! Put it together, throw it in a 425 degree oven & leave it. An hour and a half later, the house will be full of gourmet smells and dinner will be on the table. (Bonus: make more than one, shred the second and freeze it or use it later in the week)
Gather:
Roasting chicken
Extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoon herb de Provence
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
1 Tablespoon fresh cracked pepper
Root veggies of choice, cubed

To Make:
Preheat oven to 425. Mix together dried herbs, salt and pepper in a small dish. Set aside. Cover a baking sheet in foil (way less work cleaning up). Place bird breast side down on baking sheet, drizzle outside of bird with olive oil, and sprinkle liberally with herb seasoning (don’t forget inside of cavity). Quaternary lemon and place inside cavity of the bird. Tie up the legs. Roast at 425 for an hour and a half. When I roast more than one bird, I lower the oven to 400 and cook a little longer. When here is 45 minutes left, toss cubed veggies in olive oil and the herb seasoning and add to the baking sheet with the chicken to roast.

Chicken Enchilada Soup – a few steps, but totally worth it. Plus, leftovers!
Serves 6-8

Gather:
3 Tablespoons butter
1 sweet bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 rib celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled & chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper
4 cups chicken stock or low sodium chicken broth
28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 lime, juiced
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
2 teaspoons salt
¼ – ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 corn tortillas, cut into think (1/4”) strips, divided
2 cups diced cooked chicken
½ teaspoon baking powder
4 oz cream cheese
4 oz American cheese or quesoblanco (good melting cheese)
1 to 1 ½ cups half and half (can substitute cream, Mexican crema, or sour cream)
4 oz can green chilies
*can substitute 2-3 Tablespoons of non-msg taco seasoning for chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne, cumin and salt.

To Make:
Melt butter over medium heat and sweat pepper, onion, celery, and carrots until softened. Stir in seasonings, stock, tomatoes and 4 tortillas.
Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer 15 minutes. Puree and return to pot.
While soup simmers, bake remaining tortilla strips at 375 degrees until crispy.
Add baking soda, and when bubbling calms, add cheeses, chilies, half and half, and chicken. Simmer over low heat 30 minutes longer, stirring occasionally to prevent scalding.
Garnish with: crispy tortilla strips, sour cream, pico de gallo, avocado, cilantro, grated cheddar

Seriously awesome BBQ Sauce on Pork Loin with Red Skinned Potatoes Gratin
Feeds: 4-6 people
Gather:
Approximately 1 1/2 -3 pound pork loin roast
2 Tablespoons salt
1 Tablespoon fresh cracked pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Rub pork with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Allow to rest at room temperature approximately 20 minutes before cooking. Sear in pan over medium high heat and roast in oven at 375 for 90-120 minutes or until pork reaches 145 on meat thermometer. Baste with BBQ sauce last half hour of cooking. Allow meat to stand about ten minutes before slicing to serve.

Red skinned potatoes gratin
3-4 red skinned potatoes, thinly sliced and cut into half moons
1/2 onion
1/2 green bell pepper
1 jalapeño pepper
1 clove garlic
3 T flour
2 T butter
1 cup cream
1/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup milk
8oz bar sharp cheddar cheese, grated

From the Freezer: Tex-Mex Beef Enchiladas with Chili Sauce

Favorite from the pantry:
Williams-Sonoma herbs de Provence – of the little crock isn’t cute enough, the herb blend will win you over

Related Posts:
Borrow my Meals
Breakfasts for the Week
Eats for the Week: Spicy Teriyaki Chicken
Eats for the Week: Tex Spiced Chicken
Eats for the Week: Mediterranean Inspired Chicken
10# of Ground Beef, 8 Meals

I don’t have time for a King’s breakfast – Eats for the

You have probably heard the saying, “eat like a king at breakfast, a prince at lunch, and a pauper at dinner”.  Breakfast is so very important at any age. It fuels your body and mind, as well as starting your metabolism for the day.  Well, personal trainers and gurus of the wellness industry, I don’t have time for that!  That’s all fine and great, but what if you are NOT an early riser, morning person, or find yourself in an AM rush?  Well, I’ve got ya – these breakfasts are so easy, you won’t even have to wait for your coffee to kick in.

Shortcuts for sunnier mornings:

  • Stock up on Granola Bars (homemade or carefully store bought) for those mornings you oversleep or someone has a tantrum
  • Make a giant batch of breakfast burritos, wrap them up & put them in the fridge for a handy warm-up meal during the week
  • I like fruit & yogurt, yogurt and granola, eggs cooked every which way, oatmeal, smoothies, and trail mix.
  • Cereal is low in energy, high in sugar, and rarely lasts a child until lunch time, so I recommend avoiding cereal and saving it for a day you oversleep. This school year I banned cereal on school days, so we have cereal on Saturdays sometimes. It became a weekend treat. For a speedy cereal that has stay power, try oatmeal!

Chunky Monkey Parfait
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In a parfait glass or iced tea stem, layer in low-fat vanilla yogurt, your favorite granola, sliced bananas, toasted walnuts, and mini dark chocolate chips, repeat once.

Frittata Bites

You can customize these for the picky eaters in the family

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a muffin tin.

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Fill muffin cups halfway with veggies, thawed chopped spinach, ham cubes, ground sausage, crisp bacon, or whatever you choose for filling.
Break 6 eggs into a bowl and add in 6 tablespoons milk. Beat until fluffy. Pour egg mixture over the filling in the tins. Be careful not to over fill. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until set.

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Ham & Cheese Roll-ups
Another Man invented recipe.  I had just had our second child and requested sausage in a blanket one too many times.  Pretty easy. Pretty processed, so we only have these every once in a while. Preheat oven to 375. Separate out triangles of canned crescent rolls (I’ve had good luck with Immaculate Baking Company’s version), layer on a slice of ham and pinch of shredded sharp cheddar. Bake 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Check out my Pinterest board of yummy smoothies, sure to pick up any morning.

Click Here for more fast & easy breakfast ideas.  Also try making batches of pancakes or waffle sticks over the weekend – they freeze beautifully, and you can pop them in the oven or toaster for a quick treat during the week.

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Grab a kid-friendly smoothie:
Triple Threat
Gather & blend:
1/4 c yogurt
1/2 scoop protein powder
1 c milk (almond, coconut, or dairy)
3/4 cup organic frozen berry mix (black, blue & straw)
1 Tablespoon ground psyllium husks
1/2 Tablespoon flaxseed
Dash cinnamon

C Burst
2 cups cubed cantaloupe
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1 banana
1 scoop of ice

Other ones I’ve found, tried & would make again:
Banana Mango from Diethood

 

Cook Once, Eat for the Week: Spicy Teriyaki Chicken

Spicy Teriyaki Chicken
Gather:
2 large chicken breasts, each quartered & pounded to ½ thickness
1/3 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
¼ cup tamari
2 Tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Optional:  toasted sesame seeds & drizzle of sesame oil for garnish
Marinate chicken overnight (or I prep chicken, add to marinate & freeze it until I need it) in tamari, pineapple juice, honey, ginger, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes.  The easiest way to do this is in a large freezer safe zip-top bag.

This week I am slightly obsessed with Mason Jar Salads and container meals.  They are just so easy to grab for lunch or on our way out to practice or other after school activities.  This teriyaki chicken is just versatile enough to toss in with a variety of produce all week long. 

Mason Jar Salads are nothing new, they are all over Pinterest.  The key is how you layer the ingredients in the jars.
1. Dressings, oils & vinegars go in the bottom
2. Most recipes say veggies go in next
3. Then proteins
4. Last greens
The only hard and fast rule I adhere to is keeping greens and dressings on opposite ends.

Juice this week:
Super fuel that Jenny Levison shares on the Today Show

1 cup fresh watermelon juice
1/2 cup fresh pineapple juice
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup coconut water
3 tbsp. fresh ginger juice
Sprig of mint

Lunchbox:
Mini roast beef & pepper jack hoagies
Ham rolls with string cheese
PB&J and ham & cheddar sandwich triangles
Lunchbox veggie pack from Bountiful Baskets: sugar snap peas, grape tomatoes & baby carrots
Nectarine, pear, bag of mixed grapes or small apple
Annie’s variety snack pack
Clif Kid’s ZBar
Horizon strawberry milk
Honest Kid’s apple juice

I overstuff my kiddo’s lunchbox.
1. He eats breakfast at 630-645, lunch at 1030 and school doesn’t release until after 230. That’s a long time without food, especially for a kid.
2. When I taught I always needed a couple of snacks to get me to dinner.
3. He usually has some sort of after school activity/practice
4. The bigger variety of drinks I send, the more likely he is to meet his daily liquid intake needs. I don’t always send juice, but it’s the first week:)
5. I need some packaged and shelf stable products that can be reused if he doesn’t eat them or wants them for his class snack

Cook Once, Eat for the Week: Mediterranean Inspired Chicken

There are weeks that are just too busy to keep up with. Especially lunchtime when Kiddo is back at school. Meals need to be quick to the table, tasty, and easily morphed into another meal. I LOVE grilling a bunch of meat or cooking something in the slow cooker and then eating on it for multiple meals. Hello! lunches all week. This week’s eats starts with some yummy chicken and leads to endless possibilities.

Shopping List for This Week’s Eats:
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• 2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts or mix of breasts and thighs
• plain yogurt
• tomatoes, to dice
• cucumber, to chop
• red bell pepper, to chop
• Greek olives
• feta crumbles
• pita bread &/or flatbread
• salad greens

Mediterranean Inspired Chicken
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Oh, so yummy! I LOVE this sautéed cubed chicken! I usually double the recipe and play with the leftovers the rest of the week. This recipe is adapted from an old Betty Crocker one.

Gather
• 1 medium onion, sliced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 # skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cubed into 1-2 inch chunks
• 1 ½ t lemon pepper
• ½ t dried oregano
• ½ t dried mint
• ¼ t ground allspice (scant)

Instructions
1. Combine lemon pepper, oregano, mint, and allspice; mix to coat chicken with seasoning. I drop the seasonings in a big sealable bag, add chicken cubes and give it a good shake; smoosh around to coat.
2. In sauté pan over medium high, heat olive oil, and sear the meat cubes. Be sure not to crowd the pan, so you have a nice golden crust on the chicken. This may mean searing the chicken in batches.
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Return any removed chicken to the pan. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft and chicken is cooked through.

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Pair with pita bread for a gyro style taco, layer over pita chips for Greek nachos, add into pasta, or pile on top of fresh greens for a quick Greek Salad.

On gyro day, try this…reheat chicken in sauté pan with a splash of chicken stock and a sprinkle of fresh lemon juice. With the heat off, stir in 1/2 cup plain yogurt to create a saucy chicken for your flatbread or pita!
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20140427-225242.jpgTry keeping these sides on hand this week:

Fresh Veggie Crudités

Mixed fresh berries or a fruit salad

Pita Chips with… Giada’s Avocado Hummus Dip or …

Cucumber Yogurt Dip

Mix 1 handful of minced mint, 2 finely chopped cloves of garlic, and 1/2 finely diced seedless cucumber into 1 container of Greek yogurt.

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A bonus recipe with the ingredients on hand from the shopping list.

Flatbread Pizzas
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Gather:
flatbread
prepared pizza or pesto sauce
mozzarella, feta, or goat cheese
your choice of herbs, veggies &/or meats

Bake at 450 until hot & bubbly

 

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