Meal Plan Monday!!

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I need to go to the grocery store this week, so this is what I’ve planned based on what we have on-hand and what’s on sale.

I’m just posting dinners for our meal plan. The kiddos usually have a small toasted bagel with cream cheese for breakfast along with fruit.  Hubs likes Oatmeal (my recipe for an easy almost instant oatmeal mix can be found here) if he’s got time, otherwise he and I have protein shakes with frozen bananas and PB2.

Lunches for Lil’ Man are usually Peanut butter and crackers, fruit, milk, a protein muffin (aka a kid cupcake), and applesauce cup. He takes his lunch every day! Hubs usually has a protein shake or I pack him leftovers or a frozen entree.

Bitty Bird and I usually have leftovers from the night before, or soup, sandwiches, quesadillas. She eats almost anything!

Monday:

Tuesday:

  • D: Waffles and fruit

Weds:

Thursday:

  • D:  Grilled chicken and grilled veggies 

Friday:

  • D: Pizza (I’m making a batch of dough to stash in the freezer, so we’ll bake a few up and have pizza!)

Saturday:

  • D: Date Night! (we go out)

Sunday:

  • D: Leftover buffet

The menu may change, as  I pull stuff out of the pantry to rotate what we’ve got (I am trying to cut down on waste, and put the older stuff up front to get eaten first).

Recipe: Lemon Garlic Spaghetti Squash Casserole

file000382147880.jpgWe love Garlic. It’s a good thing that hubs and I both like it, because otherwise this recipe wouldn’t go over too well.

This is my spin on the Spaghetti with Garlic White Wine sauce found here.  It appeared in hubs Facebook feed one day several months ago, he sent it to me, and we’ve been tweaking it to make it our own ever since.

To make it a little healthier, I added in 1 large spaghetti squash. If you’ve never cooked one, I write about it here. It’s super easy to cook, and it’s very yummy

Lemon Garlic Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 2 large white onions, cut into quarters and layers separated
  • 1 T Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large lemons, zested and juiced
  • 4 T butter, divided
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, minced (you can use more or less)
  • 1/2 t. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1/2 T Thyme (I usually have it dried in my spice cabinet, but if you have it fresh, use 5-6 springs)
  • 1 c. Grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 c chicken broth (or pasta water)
  • 1 large spaghetti Squash
  • If you want to add pasta to this dish, you’ll need 1/2 lb spaghetti, 8-10 cups water (to cook pasta), and salt (to salt the water)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Prep spaghetti squash (scoop out the stringy parts and seeds) and bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes.

Toss cut up onions in oil, salt and pepper. Bake in a baking dish covered for 20-30 minutes, uncover and bake an addition 10-15 minutes.

IMG_3202.jpgAfter the squash is done cooking, allow to cool for about 10 minutes, or until it’s easy to handle. Scoop the “meat” out and set aside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Baked onions, cooling, along with the butter needed to finish the recipe.

After onions are done baking, set aside.

If you are cooking pasta, start the water to boil and cook pasta as directed.

Zest and juice the lemons, set aside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Heat half the butter in a skillet. Once melted, add the minced garlic and cook on medium for 5-ish minutes until fragrant (watch out, it burns really easily). Add red pepper flakes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3200.jpgAdd Lemon juice and wine, turn up the heat for a few minutes. You’ll want to cook off the alcohol, so about 5-10 minutes at medium high heat. Add the baked onions.

Add 2 T. chicken broth (or pasta water), and the remaining butter, and the Thyme. Once the butter is melted, turn off the heat.

Add the spaghetti squash and/or pasta into the skillet, and gently toss to coat. Add lemon zest, and half of the parmesan cheese. If the mixture becomes too thick, add more chicken broth or pasta water a little at a time.

Top with any additional cheese, thyme, and/or pepper flakes.

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Here is an extra step that makes it a little better (IMO) but isn’t needed: Place skillet under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese on the top is brown and bubbly.

I have made this recipe with both pasta and spaghetti squash.  This last time I made it, I used only 1 serving of whole wheat spaghetti, mostly because I prefer the way it turns out when it has the pasta water in it, instead of the chicken broth.

*If you are a vegetarian, feel free to substitute in veggie broth.

**This recipe can be made with GF pasta.

 

New Recipe: Artichoke Bruschetta Casserole!

Artichoke Bruschetta CasseroleI’m on a new recipe kick right now. I don’t often get inspiration from Pinterest recipes because they are either things we don’t eat, or are overly complicated or cutesy. Instead I draw ideas from cookbooks, magazines, stuff I see at the grocery store while  I cruise the aisles,  and Buzzfeed’s Tasty Videos that are all over Facebook.  I was jonseing for Olive Gardens now defunct Spinach Artichoke dip the other day, so imagine my surprise when I stepped foot into my local 99 Cents Only…

IMG_1755I found a jar of this Bruschetta at 99 Cents Only the other day and small jar of Artichoke dip. I knew I had to take them home and concoct something delicious!

I set to work in the kitchen to find some other ingredients that would pair well to I could whip up something fabu for a meatless meal. I pulled out a bag of frozen spinach and cheese to compliment the flavors of the dips.

 

 

IMG_1754We had a spaghetti Squash on the counter, so in order to keep the dish healthier and full of veggies and fiber, I opted to bake up the squash and use it instead of the traditional noddles or pasta in a casserole. If you’ve never cooked with spaghetti squash, I posted a tutorial here.

After rummaging through the freezer and fridge, I assembled the ingredients and got working! There is no photo of the finished product because it got eaten up quickly.

 

Artichoke Bruschetta Casserole

Directions:

  1. Clean and bake the spaghetti squash. For info on how that’s done, check out the tutorial here.
  2. While the squash is baking, mix together the two dips in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the spinach and half of each cheese. Stir until completely mixed.
  4. Prepare a 9×9 glass pan with spray release.
  5. Place all of the spaghetti squash shreds/”noodles” in the bottom of the baking dish, and smooth down to create an even layer.
  6. Pour the dip mixture over the top and smooth to evenly cover the squash.
  7. Top with the remaining cheeses.
  8. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until the cheese has started to brown and bubble.

This dish is gluten free and vegetarian. To make it vegan, use dairy-free cheese! If you HAVE to have meat, this would be great with grilled chicken, or Italian sausages mixed in or served along side.

This recipe serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish.

 

 

 

Cooking Tutorial: Spaghetti Squash!

We eat a lot of veggies. That was one of the huge lifestyle changes we made a few years ago that has helped us maintain healthier weights.

One healthy swap we made was to spaghetti squash instead of pasta.  A lot of healthy/food swap websites like Hungry Girl tout Spaghetti Squash as a good substitute for carb-y noodles.

Here is a quick tutorial on making spaghetti squash.

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  1. Select a squash that is firm and unblemished. Not sure what they look like? Here is the wikipedia article all about the vegetable with a few pictures.
  2. Chop the end with the stem off. You’ll need a good sharp knife. I love our Henckels Meat Cleaver.
  3. Chop the squash in half. I do it length-wise, so it takes less time to cook in the oven.
  4. Take a spoon and scoop out the stringy guts and seeds.  Discard them.
  5. In a large glass baking dish, place the squash halves cut side down.  Pour a 1/2 cup of water into the bottom of the baking dish.
  6. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until the squash are fork tender (about the same feeling as a baked potato).
  7. Remove baking dish from oven and set the squash halves on a cutting board.  Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes, or until you can comfortable handle the vegetable.
  8. With a fork, “rake” the interior of the veggie.  The “meat” of the interior should flake off in long strings that resemble broken spaghetti.
  9. Once complete, discard the exterior of the squash.
  10. Toss the “spaghetti” with the sauce of your choice.

1 medium sized spaghetti squash serves 2-3 people, with a serving size of about 1 1/2 cups. It’s yummy with sauce (Spaghetti/red sauce, pesto, or even a cheesy sauce), or just a little butter and herbs. It’s a great way to get extra veggies into your diet, or if you’re Gluten Intolerant, it’s cheaper (and tastier) than GF pasta.

Later today, I’ll be posting a recipe that uses spaghetti squash as a main ingredient! With winter veggies starting to make an appearance in grocery stores and farmers markets, you’ll start seeing more and more squash!