Fall Recipe Round-Up!

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Thanksgiving in the US is just a few days away, and for most of us, it means cooking a HUGE feast to share with family or friends.

I wanted to share with you some of my family’s favorite fall recipes- They are all pretty tasty, and easy to make. Some are great for Thanksgiving dinner, and some are just tasty fall recipes.

Frugal, Tasty Meals with Dinnerly!

To facilitate this review, the awesome folks at Dinnerly provided our family with 3 meals (4-6 servings each). I received no financial compensation to write this review- All opinions are my own.

I’ve reviewed dinner/meal kits before, and my complaint is always that they are so expensive, upwards of $10 per person, per meal. At that point, I better be going out to dinner, and I am not washing dishes! Secondly, the meals are usually not child-friendly, especially if you have a kid on the spectrum (like we do), who also happens to be a vegetarian.

Enter Dinnerly! At $4.49 per adult-sized serving, Dinnerly is so much less expensive than other meal kits. But how? digital recipe cards instead of paper, fewer ingredients per dish (which means less chopping and cleaning), simple packaging, and no fancy marketing campaigns.

The big kid and I looked at the website and he chose two meat-free recipes, and I chose one with meat.

  • Mediterranean Meatball Stew with Carrots & Couscous
  • Coconut Curry Ramen with Snow Peas & Jammy Eggs
  • Baked Squash & Kale Risotto with Parmesan

recipeWhat I really like is that the recipe tells you what is in the kit for your recipe, and what you will need from your own kitchen (and trust me, it’s nothing special or fancy).

The directions are great for those who don’t have a lot of cooking experience. My 8-year-old was able to read the steps and follow them. He helped me cook the Risotto, and he measured, stirred, poured, and ripped up the kale into bite-sized pieces.

The 4-6 adult-sized servings are pretty generous, by the way. With every meal, there were closer to 7 servings. I always serve side dishes with the main dish. Most nights we had salad or some kind of veggie side dish. When we had ramen, I picked up a bag of pork potstickers from 99 Cents Only for the grown-ups, and also made a miso dressing coleslaw. If you want to stretch meals further, I suggest adding sides, or maybe sneaking in some extra veggies (I added 1 cup of peeled, diced crook-neck squash to the Mediterranean Meatball Stew).

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Tamari Sauce for Ramen

Some of the recipes needed a little “kick”- especially the ramen- so we added ginger, red chili flakes, and a bay leaf to the broth. BUT, since everyone has different levels of spice tolerance, Dinnerly Kits are a great place to start if you want to explore different flavors and cultures without having the buy a bunch of new and/or different spices. For example, the ramen kit comes with two of these cute little packages of Tamari sauce. I did clean one of them out when I was done and now it’s in the kid’s toy kitchen.

Everything is pre-measured and ready to go, even the spices. This is another reason I love Dinnerly- It cuts down on food waste.

75557570_10157525826901061_3062456495460319232_n75443029_10157525826876061_5954310997228388352_nThe veggies are all super fresh and ready to be cut up! The risotto came with two little cubes of parmesan cheese, that my 8-year-old grated and sprinkled like a pro!

I made the Mediterranean Meatball Stew with Carrots & Couscous and took it to a friend for a night in. It was cheaper, healthier, and tastier than stopping to grab takeout. It was so tasty and filling.

If you want to check out Dinnerly, they have been nice enough to create a promo code just for my readers! The code to use at check out is hewesfamily15, and it’s active through the first week of December and only valid for first-time users. The coupon code is worth 15% off! To get started, visit Dinnerly here.

I think Dinnerly would also make a great gift for a family that just has a baby,  or someone who might need a little love.

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Butternut Squash & Kale Risotto
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Coconut Curry Ramen
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Meatball Stew and Cous Cous

Harvest Veggie Ravioli Soup

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All Great Soups start with simple flavors!

Last month I posted a Ravioli soup recipe, but this one is a lot different, as it is mostly a veggie soup, and the cheese ravioli was added as an after thought.

This soup is easy to make, tasty, and you can add in whatever kind of pasta you like: filled pasta like ravioli, or simple pasta. This is a perfect dish for potlucks, and you can use vegan ravioli or gluten free pasta, depending on the dietary concerns of family or guests.

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts Veggie Stock
  • 2 c. onions, diced
  • 1 c. celery, chopped
  • 1 c. carrots, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 T. Butter (or grapeseed oil if vegan)
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2T. Mural of Flavor
  • 1 yellow crookneck squash or zucchini with skin on, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 package filled pasta, or 2 cups pasta (uncooked)

Directions:

  1. In a large stockpot, saute onion, carrots, and celery until veggies are soft and onions are clear (about 20 minutes).
  2. Add garlic, cook 5-10 minutes until fragrant.
  3. Add Veggie Stock, Tomato paste, herbs, and simmer on medium/low for 30-45 minutes.
  4. Add squash/zucchini and continue to simmer for 10-20 minutes. Add pasta and cook for the amount of time indicated on the package (usually 6-10 minutes).
  5. Serve topped with parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast (if vegan).

 

If you wanted to add extra veggies, here are a few that are tasty in a soup that should be added at the same time as the squash/zucchini:

  • Fresh Green Beans, ends removed, cut into bite-size pieces
  • Canned chopped salt-free tomatoes, drained
  • Bell peppers, de-seeded, chopped
  • Cabbage, roughly chopped
  • small potatoes, peeled, cut into bite-size pieces

 

4 Fresh, Healthy Smoothie Recipes Kids will Love!

37f39aabb6da4ee265e271d175c59991.jpgWe have smoothies a lot. It’s a good way to get fruit and/or veggies into the kids without any fuss.

It’s important to have a good blender that can handle fruits/veggies and ice. I love our new Calphalon Blender. I received it through one of my review programs.

We also have reusable shake straws– they are perfect for thick smoothies.

Here are the four recipes that my kids love!

Copycat Strawberries Gone Bananas (from Jamba): 1 cup apple juice (or milk), 1 frozen banana, 1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup ice (or more, depending on how thick you like your smoothies). Blend all ingredients- makes 1 BIG smoothie or 2 kid-sized.

The Big Orange Smoothie: This one is the big kids’ favorite and is a version of one of his Jamba Juice favorites that is no longer on the menu. 1 cup orange juice, 1 cup frozen peaches, 1/2 c. frozen mango pulp, 1/2 cup chopped carrots, 1/2 cup ice (or more, depending on how thick you like your smoothies). Blend all ingredients- makes 1 BIG smoothie or 2 kid-sized.

Green Berry Surprise: The surprise is the spinach. You can’t see it or taste it! 1 cup water & a scoop of protein powder (Or milk of your choice), 1 cup frozen berries, 1 frozen banana, 2 large handfuls of fresh spinach, 1/2 cup ice (or more, depending on how thick you like your smoothies). Blend all ingredients- makes 1 BIG smoothie or 2 kid-sized.

Tropical Freeze: 1 cup juice (I like to mix orange and the pineapple juice from the can if you used canned pineapples until it’s 1 cup), 1 frozen banana, 1/2 c. frozen mango pulp, 1/2 cup pineapple,  1/2 c. frozen peaches, 1/2 cup ice (or more, depending on how thick you like your smoothies). Blend all ingredients- makes 1 BIG smoothie or 2 kid-sized.

The nice thing about smoothies is that you can use fresh or frozen fruit or veggies, any kind of juice, it’s all up to you!

Liquids:

  • Milk: Dairy, Oat, Hemp, Soy, Almond, or other nut milk. Your Choice.
  • Juice (Apple, Orange, and Carrot are popular)
  • Water and a scoop of protein powder
  • Water

Some of our favorite fruits include:

  • Bananas (I peel and slice overripe bananas and put them in ziploc bags, so they are ready to use!)
  • Strawberries- 99 Cents Only and Dollar Tree both stock 12 oz bags of strawberries. If you can’t find them in season, this is a great alternative.
  • Peaches- I usually buy them frozen.
  • Mangoes- 99 Cents Only sells Mango pulp, which is just the good parts of mango formed into a brick and frozen. I love mangoes, but I hate peeling and slicing them.
  • Mixed berries- 99 Cents Only sells mixed berries, which is usually strawberries, blueberries, blackberries.
  • Pineapple- Either canned in its own juice or frozen chunks. Frozen Pineapple is good straight out of the bag. Fresh pineapple is a lot of work to process just to turn into smoothies.

Tasty Veggies we enjoy in our smoothies:

  • Carrots- I usually chop them up small so they are easily incorporated.
  • Spinach- It blends in well and isn’t noticeable.

 

Talk Back: I’d love to hear what your favorite smoothie flavors are!

 

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Quick & Easy Meal: Ravioli Soup

cooking-1.jpgThis recipe is super easy, you can add meat (like in the picture) if you like, or keep it meat-free and add some extra vegetables.

I try to have the ingredients for this soup on-hand. It’s quick and perfect for when you want a hearty bowl of soup in a hurry.

Ravioli Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 c. each: chopped carrots, celery
  • 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 14.5 ounces (or so) fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1-quart vegetable stock
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 T. Mural of Flavor
  • 1 9oz. package of Ravioli (I Like 4 cheese)
  • 1/2 c. good quality parmesan cheese, divided

Directions:

  1. In a stockpot, heat olive oil and saute all of the veggies for about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Lower the heat to medium/low, add tomatoes, tomato paste, and veggie stock.
  3. Simmer on medium/low for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Add ravioli and cook 8-10 minutes, until ravioli are cooked.
  5. Ladle into 4 bowls, top with cheese and serve with a green salad.

It’s that easy!

Substitutions-

  • Add 1/2 lb. of protein- your choice. I like cooked, crumbled Italian sausage. Meatballs or  Italian sausage sliced into rounds work great too. Add into the soup after step 2.
  • Use ravioli with meat if you prefer.
  • Use Gluten-free ravioli if you need to.
  • If you want more veggies in your soup, add 3-4 cups of fresh spinach when you add in the ravioli.

 

 

10/7/19 Weekly Meal Plan

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I bought a few things yesterday to sort of “round out” what we’ve got on hand, and I think I’ll hit up Sprouts on Wednesday for Double Ad Day to get produce, but other than, we’ll be eating a lot of the stuff in the freezer I recently meal prepped this week. I don’t feel really great (Big kid brought home the new germ du jour from school and it’s felled us all).

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.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done, so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

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 (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  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 Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

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. I did a lot of prep for the coming week over the weekend. I cut up the produce, bagged it for meals, made up some smoothie kits, and cut up cantaloupe to have this week. Thanks to some frugal shopping over the weekend, I’ve only spent half the grocery budget for the week. I will probably use it all.

  • Monday: Flautas, Beans, Rice, and Mexican Caesar Salad
  • Tuesday:  Veggie Stir Fry with brown rice
  • Wednesday: Chicken Meatball skillet (new recipe coming up this week)
  • Thursday: Pizza Night – The past few weeks we’ve been doing individual personally topped pizzas- It’s super fun and everyone gets what they want.
  • Friday:  Breakfast for Dinner- Waffles, Poached Eggs, sausage, and fruit salad
  • Saturday: Dinner out! My cousin, his wife, and kiddo are coming from AZ with my Uncle and Aunt. We are having a big family dinner out. At Soupantation!
  • Sunday:   Leftover night

 

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

Stockpile Cooking: Yummy Strudel Pumpkin Muffins

Screen Shot 2019-09-15 at 7.35.48 PM.pngAs part of my “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” mantra, I’m trying to bake more out of the cupboard. It helps us use up what we’ve got on-hand, and it’s also a lot healthier than buying store-bought muffins.

While I was digging in the very back of the cupboard, I found

These muffins were amazing. The recipes makes 1 mini muffin pan (24 mini muffins), or regular sized muffins.

 

Low Fat Pumpkin Muffins

  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour (you can also use whole wheat flour, or a 1 for 1 gluten-free flour blend if you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup flax meal (You could also use almond meal if you prefer)
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 can canned pumpkin puree (approx. 30-ish ounces)
  • 3/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 3 oz. container of fat-free Greek vanilla yogurt (or use 3oz. of fat-free plain Greek yogurt and 1 T. vanilla extract)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk (whatever kind you like)

DSC00551.jpgStrudel topping

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room temperature butter
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup Flour (you can also use whole wheat flour, or a 1 for 1 gluten-free flour blend if you prefer)
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger

Directions:

Muffins-

  1. Mix dry ingredients together, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the wet ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth and combined.
  3. Add dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredient mixture and mix until smooth and combined.
  4. Pour batter into greased muffin tins (or use cupcake liners).

Strudel-

  1. Mix all strudel ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. Option one: Spoon about a tablespoon of the strudel onto the uncooked muffins right before putting to the oven.
  3. Option two: Fill the muffin tins halfway with muffin batter, drop in the strudel mix, and top with more muffin batter to make strudel surprise muffins.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes.