April 11 is National Cheese Fondue Day!

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Who doesn’t love cheese? Ok, so vegans and those who are lactose intolerant, but the rest of us LOVE cheese!

The Melting Pot is celebrating National Cheese Fondue Day April 8-11 with an awesome build your own fondue deal for just $12 per person.

Step 1 – Select Your Cheese Blend: Aged Cheddar and Emmenthaler or Gruyere, Raclette and Fontina or Butterkase and Fontina

Step 2 – Select Your Base: Lager Beer/Bouillon blend, White Wine, Vegetable Bouillon or Redbridge Gluten Free Beer

Step 3 – Select Up to 3 Add-Ins (additional items are $.50 per item): Brie, Feta, Gorgonzola, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Basil Pesto, Creole Mustard, Green Goddess, Salsa, Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto, Garlic, Spinach, Artichoke Hearts, Bacon, Jalapeno, Almonds, Walnuts, Asparagus, Artichokes, Broccoli, Mushrooms, Potatoes, Scallions, Shallots, and Diced Tomatoes.

Step 4: Select Your Seasonings: Black Pepper, Garlic & Wine Seasoning, Mustard Powder, Nutmeg, Tabasco, Worcestershire

Step 5 – Select Premium Add-Ins (Optional – $1.50 each) Serves 1-2:

Andouille Sausage, Salami, Prosciutto, Apricot Almond Orange Crackers,

Grilled Vegetables – Bell Peppers, Asparagus, Fingerling Potatoes

Roasted Vegetables – Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Zucchini

$12.00 per person*
All cheeses are served with artisan breads, seasonal fruits and veggies.
Choose one per cooktop. Vegan cheese available. See server for details.

*Price includes: cheese fondue for 1 and artisan dippers. Tax, gratuity and surcharge not included in price. Must order per person. Valid only on April 11, 2019. A 4% surcharge will be added to all Guest checks to help cover increasing costs and in our support of the recent increases to minimum wage and benefits for our dedicated Team Members.

To find your local location and book a table, click here.

If you want to celebrate National Cheese Fondue Day at home, here is my favorite Fondue recipe.

 

Talk Back: What’s your favorite cheesy dish? Do you like Fondue?

 

Weekly Meal Plan!

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Mondays are crazy around here, between my college classes, and Big Kid’s weekly social skills class, we don’t get home until late. So publishing our weekly meal plan is not a high priority after a busy day. I did write it out yesterday while I was at the Y!

This week we are focusing a lot of eating up what we’ve got on hand. There are a lot of changes afoot in my household (there will be an upcoming post, I promise). I’m focusing a lot on the kids, and trying to return to my frugal roots.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

You may notice a lot of plant based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids.  I also keep sandwich ziploc bags of  other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and the Little Bit, and The Big Kid has a specially packed lunch of whatever he’s into at the time (which changes frequently).

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

  • Monday: Ramen- I’ll post pics on Instagram today. Our local Grocery Outlet had bone broth, and I used Brown Rice and Millet Ramen noodles. poached eggs, and spinach
  • Tuesday: Breakfast for Dinner- Waffles made with Kodiak Flapjack Mix and Fruit Salad
  • Wednesday: I’m going to the grocery store, so I’ll probably pick up a rotisserie chicken and a salad
  • Thursday: Leftovers
  • Friday:  I’m going out with the girls, so the kids will have Pizza!
  • Saturday: Chicken enchiladas (made from the rotisserie chicken leftovers), beans, rice, and brocolli
  • Sunday: Chicken Soup (made from the carcass of the rotisserie chicken and the remaining meat).

 

Talk Back: What will you be cooking this week?

Host a Frontera Whole Foods Party!

House Party by Ripple Street Frontera™ Whole Foods Party House Party

Houseparty by Ripplestreet has a great party coming up, and they are accepting applications right now!

Show your friends how they can make authentic, delicious dishes for their Cinco de Mayo parties and how Frontera™ products will help them make it quick AND simple. Available at your local Whole Foods Market® for Cinco de Mayo.

This event is only open to residents of the contiguous US.

If you’re selected and confirmed as a host, your exclusive Party Pack will contain:

  • Whole Foods Market® gift card
  • Frontera discount coupons for your guests
  • And more

If you’ve never heard of Houseparty by Ripplestreet, you can learn more here. I’ve already applied!

Hearty French Beef Stew Recipe!

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Who needs a filter when you’ve got steam?

Earlier in the week I made beef stew. It was so good that I had a hard time waiting the full 10 hours until dinner  to dish myself up a bowl! I cooked it on the stove, but it can definitely  be cooked in a crockpot after the initial browning of the meat.

I based my recipe on my mom’s boeuf bourguignon recipe, but I omitted the bacon, as we didn’t have any in the house.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups white onions, diced
  • 3/4 cup each carrots and celery, diced
  • 1 cup white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (tops only, stems may be discarded or saved for a later use)
  • 2 T. Air Dried Shallots
  • 1 T. Minced Garlic
  • 4 T. Butter or Olive Oil (your choice), divided
  • 2 lbs. Stew Beef, cut into bite sized pieces (chuck roast works great)
  • 1/2 c. AP Flour
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 1 Bottle Red Wine (approx. 4 cups), your choice.
  • Spices: 1 Bay leaf, 1 T. French Tarragon, Pinch Rubbed Sage, 1 T. Thyme, Salt, Pepper

Directions:

  1. In a Large Stock pot, melt 2 T. butter/heat olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms. Cook on medium/low heat, stirring occasionally until onions are clear and veggies have sweated.
  3. While veggies are cooking, rinse meat and toss gently in AP Flour to coat.
  4. After veggies are cooked, scoop out of pot and set aside, add remaining butter/oil, and brown beef over medium heat.
  5. Add cooked veggies back in and stir/scrape browned bits off the bottom and sides of pot.
  6. Turn heat up to medium/high and add in about half the wine. Scrape off as much of the browned bits off the bottom and sides as you can as the wine cooks.
  7. Add remaining wine, stock, and herbs. Cover pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally. If you wish, you can transfer everything to a crockpot and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
  8. Serve with hot, buttered bread, and a green salad. It is soooooo good. If you have leftovers (hahahaha), it is great re-heated and served over rice or buttered noodles.

 

Recipe: Protein Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Screen Shot 2019-03-08 at 7.56.56 AM.pngIt can be hard to get the big kid to eat enough protein. He doesn’t eat meat, and a lot of the non-meat protein sources are foods that don’t appeal to him (or have “gross” textures- So is the life of a kid with ASD).

Like moms who have been trying to sneak in healthy foods for ages, I’ve been trying to find ways to add protein to foods he already enjoys without making the textures or flavors “weird”.

I really love the Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes Flapjack & Waffle Mix– You can substitute it 1 for 1 with AP flour in baking to ramp up the protein in your baked goods without sacrificing flavor or texture.

Screen Shot 2019-03-08 at 7.57.18 AM.pngI am also a huge fan of peanut flour, like PBFit. I add it to shakes and baked goods all the time. I decided to play around with it in our favorite cookie recipe, to see if we could add some protein and flavor without making the cookies “weird” in texture or flavor. Luckily everyone in the house LOVES peanut butter cookies.

I entered all the ingredients into to Spark Recipes Nutrition Calculator to get the information on the amount of protein per serving. If you make more or less cookies with cookie dough, your nutritional info will vary slightly.

Protein Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 18 servings or 2 cookies each (approx 3 dozen cookies)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup softened butter or butter flavored crisco (NO NOT USE SPREAD OR MARGARINE)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. Vanilla
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 cups Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes Flapjack & Waffle Mix
  • 1/2 cup PBFit
  • 12 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter/shortening
  3. add sugars one at a time and mix until fluffy.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until incorporated fully.
  5. Mix in soda, salt, flour and PBFit. Once all are blended into dough, add chocolate chips.
  6. drop tablespoon sized dough balls on cookie sheets that have been greased, or are lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking pad.  I prefer the silicone baking pads.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cookies may not be golden or as brown as you are used to- but they are done. Let cookies rest 1-2 minutes before transferring to the cooling rack.

Notes: Cookies contain less sugar than most traditional cookie recipes, which means they do not get as brown in the oven as they cook. This recipe makes approx. 3 dozen cookies and each serving of two cookies contains 275 calories and 7 grams of protein.

 

Eating Healthy on a Budget: It Can Be Done!

f40fab9210aee93a83df63133f5de09bSunday Night I went to the grocery store to pick up milk, bread, and a few other things.

I spent $42 and it was not all that much stuff. While I was waiting in line, the lady behind me in line was going through her coupons, and her grocery list. We got to talking, I showed her the store app, where she was able to find a few more coupons. We started talking about how expensive it was to eat healthy, and I confessed to her that this was not my weekly shopping trip, I was just picking up stuff that I only buy at Food4Less:

  • Milk (it’s cheapest at FFL),
  • A specific kind of higher protein bread (it’s the cheapest place to buy this type of bread and has no High Fructose Syrup),
  • A specific kind of popscicles
  • 5 lb bag of bananas (cheapest place to buy that many bananas)
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This doesn’t have to cost a fortune!

And I picked up a few other misc. things that we needed and were on sale (cheese, oranges, and a 5 lb. bag of Gala apples), and a 2 liter of diet Cherry Pepsi and a jar of maraschino cherries (Mama needs a cocktail sometimes, OK?).

She asked about my grocery budget and where I shop the rest of the time. I told her my shopping strategy, after I make my grocery list:

My Top Ten Deals at 99 Cents Only– Start there for fresh produce. Salad, carrots, celery, berries, pineapples, zucchini, squash (all kinds), onions, potatoes are all types of produce that are regularly stocked. They usually have other interesting seasonally available produce too. They also have great sauces, condiments, herbs and spice blends.

Keep a Price Book- I know the best place to buy Milk, cheese, bread, and butter. I keep my price book in my phone now, but I used to use a little spiral bound notebook that lived in my purse.

Stock up on food that you will eat frequently when it does on sale. I’m not talking about fresh produce that can’t be kept (like lettuce), but if you find a good deal on strawberries, for example, chop and freeze some for smoothies or baking, make fruit leather, or dry some (they are really tasty dehydrated). Bread can be frozen, so can butter! Canned goods, shelf stable foods are perfect for stocking up. I also like stocking up on chicken when it’s on sale. I can butcher a whole chicken in a few minutes, and I frequently will break up large packages of chicken breasts into meal sized portions, season them, and put them into the freezer. Learn more about meal prep here.

For our family, meal prep and meal planning saves us a lot of time and money. There are always multiple choices for each meal at our finger tips, so the allure of getting food from take-away is gone. I always have a batch of pizza dough in the freezer too! I make two batches once a week- one for the freezer, and one to go in the fridge that gets used within 1-2 days of making.

Use Cashback/Couponing Apps. Here is the list I use frequently.

Here is an article I wrote a few years ago that has more tips on how to get “Extreme” savings without being an “Extreme Couponer” (which by the way isn’t even possible anymore thanks to that stupid TLC show and coupon abuse).

It doesn’t matter what your food budget is, you can still eat well! It may take a little prep work each week, but the health of your family is worth it, right?

If you are on a very tight budget or are facing food insecurity, here is a list of San Diego based food resources that offer healthy food.

Recipe: Homemade Chicken Soup!

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Yummy soup made with my favorite Seasoning Blend from Penzey’s

I love making chicken soup from scratch. The cook time is lengthy, but, you don’t have to pay a lot of attention to the soup for most of the cook time.

You can use whatever kind of spices/herbs you fancy. I love Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming, it’s a great smoky, rich compliment to the veggies in the soup.

Speaking of veggies, I use carrots, onions, celery, Italian squash/zucchini, but you can use whatever is in your fridge. Good additions would also be diced bell peppers, diced fresh tomatoes (or canned diced tomatoes).

You can omit the noodles/macaroni is you don’t care for them or are GF/low carb.

Ingredients:

  • 5 lbs of chicken parts, bone-in or a rotisserie chicken with some of the meat removed and set aside
  • 2 cups of carrots chopped, divided
  • 2 cups of celery chopped, divided
  • 3 cups sweet onion diced, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic diced, divided
  • 1 large shallot diced, divided
  • 1T. cooking oil, your choice. I’ve been using grapeseed oil lately
  • 12 cups of water
  • bay leaf
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 cups Italian squash/zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 14-ish ounce can of diced tomatoes with juice, or 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes (optional)
  • other herbs/spices as desired
  • 1 cup uncooked pasta/noodles/rice (your choice)
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After cooking all day! Yummy Chicken Stock!

Directions:

  1. If starting with 5 lbs of raw chicken, place 1/2 of the carrots, onions, and celery into a large stock pot with the cooking oil.
  2. Cook on medium until veggies are soft, and onions are clear.
  3. Add 1/2 of the garlic and shallots, and cook until fragrant.
  4. Add raw chicken, and cook for about 10 minutes, until chicken browns.
  5. Turn stove down to low, add 12 coups of water, bay leaf, salt & pepper, and cover. Cook stock on low for about 4-6 hours- you can cook it for up to 12 hours in your crockpot if you wish instead).  Pull out a few pieces of chicken, pull off the cooked meat and set aside (you want about 2 cups of chopped cooked meat). Put bones back into the pot. Cook for another 20-30 minutes.
  6. Take the stock off the heat, and once cool, strain off the solids, and discard. The remaining liquid is your chicken stock. While you start with 12 cups of water, after cooking the stock down, you may end up with 6-8 cups of rich, velvety stock.
  7. Place chicken stock on the stove in a large pot, add in chopped chicken, remaining veggies, and any herbs/spices.
  8. Once veggies have started to soften/cook, add noodles/macaroni/rice if desired. Salt and pepper to taste.
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Mire Poix- Aka carrots, celery, and onions with a bayleaf, garlic and shallots. The perfect start to any soup!

As soon as noodles/macaroni/rice is cooked, remove soup from heat. Serve with hot bread (and butter).

*If you are starting with a rotisserie chicken, pull off 2 cups of meat, and add the carcass after the veggies are cooked and fragrant. proceed with remainder of recipe.