6/24/19 Weekly Meal Plan!

stemarie_1650skitchen

Big Kid started Summer school this morning, so he’s enjoying a few hours of learning and play away from his little sister (which I’m sure they will both enjoy- They’ve been at each other for the past few days). I stocked up on snacks and treats Saturday night at Grocery Outlet, so the kids will have yummy food to get them through the week.

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. The kids will be enjoying free lunches all over the county with free activities and play time before or after lunch.

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

  • Monday: Tortellini soup- Recipe forthcoming this week!
  • Tuesday: Homemade Pizza Night (I’m prepping the crusts today and stashing the dough in the fridge overnight to proof)
  • Wednesday:  Pasta Free Lasagna 
  • Thursday: Frittata– I’ve got a lot of veggies that need to get eaten, and some bacon in the freezer!
  • Friday:  Date Night- I’m hoping for Ramen!
  • Saturday:  Chicken Korma and Cauliflower Rice
  • Sunday: Leftover Night

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

Recipe: Pasta Free Lasagna

img_3880WHAT? Pasta free lasagna? Are you nuts? I know that’s what you are all thinking, but bear with me.

I know so many people are sticking to their New Years Resolutions of eating healthy, but they are longing for the warm, cheesy, rich gooey-ness of their favorite comfort foods. Mr. just finished a 10 day cleanse, and we are slowing adding things back into his diet. He missed cheese, so I set to find a recipe that contains cheese that I could make a little more healthy by omitting some of the other things that he isn’t quite ready to add back in (meat and lots of heavy carbs). I did make spaghetti to go on the side, but you can skip that if you want.

We had a bag of yellow squash in the fridge, so I decided to make lasagna using the squash in the place of the lasagna noodles.

With this recipe, you can add as many veggies as you want. I opted for mire poix (I had bags of it prepped in the freezer), garlic, shallots, tomatoes, and little pieces of the squash that I chopped into bite size pieces. These were the neck or end that I couldn’t cut into planks. I recommend that you use what you’ve got on hand that you really like. You can add ricotta between the layers, but I skipped it because we didn’t have any, and Mr. isn’t ready to add eggs back in yet (if you’ve never made lasagna before, the ricotta filling is a mixture of egg, Parmesan cheese, and ricotta).

img_3875This recipe makes a big 9×13 inch baking dish- There will be leftovers!

Pasta Free Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 4 yellow or green crooked neck squash (zucchini), cut into planks, Reserve remaining pieces for sauce
  • 1 jar sugar free pasta sauce (or use your favorite)
  • 2 medium onions or 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 can (approx. 14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 T. Italian seasonning
  • 2 T. Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup parmesaen cheese
  • 2 cups Italian blend cheese
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Dinner is served (salad not shown)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a large stock pot, saute onions, celery, and carrots in olive oil until onions are soft and translucent.
  3. Add garlic and shallots, reduce heat. Cook until garlic and shallots are soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid burning. Burnt garlic is gross.
  4. Pour wine over veggies and scrape any yummy brown bits off the bottom of the pot. This is called De-glazing the pan. Those brown bits are full of flavor.
  5. Add pasta sauce, herbs, and both cans of tomatoes (diced and paste). Cook on medium for 15-20 minutes. If you want, you can simmer the sauce on low for as long as you want. Make sure to stir frequently and put a lid on the pot.
  6. Add reserved squash bits to sauce. They will cook quickly, so you need to add them last.
  7. Remove from heat.
  8. Ladle sauce in the bottom of the 9×13 baking dish, just enough to cover the bottom of the dish.
  9. Cover the sauce with planks of squash, then layer cheese, and sauce.  repeat until the pan is full- the top layer should be cheese. If you like lots of cheese, use more than the 2 1/2 cups listed above.
  10. Cover pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350. after 20 minutes, uncover pan and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until cheese is brown and bubbly.
  11. Remove from oven and let rest for about 10 minutes.
  12. Serve with salad and a small portion of whole wheat pasta. I made whole wheat pasta and topped it with a dollop of Chef Shamy Garlic Butter. It’s amazing.

Variations: This meal is already vegetarian and gluten free. If you are vegan, use dairy free cheese. I cannot promise it will be as gooey and delicious, as I’m not familiar with how dairy free cheese cooks.

If you just gotta have meat, start by sauteing 1 lb of ground meat (beef, pork, chicken, or turkey), then continue the recipe as written.

Review: Truth Bars

When I was at the Moms Meet Wow Summit last month I was introduced to Truth Bars. I also posted about Truth Bars on Instagram the other day.

Screen Shot 2018-12-13 at 3.40.26 PM.pngThe Truth Bar is a great on-the-go snack for hectic mornings, to include in your child’s lunchbox, or for whenever you need a midday pick-me-up.
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Afternoon iced coffee and Truth Bar.

I’ve been enjoying them with my coffee in the morning before we head off to the school and gym. The kids love to share a Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch bar with their morning milk.

Truth Bar is a nutrition bar that gives you your daily dose of prebiotics and probiotics to balance your micro-biome, boost your immune power, give you sustained energy, and promote gut health. Truth Bar focuses on building strong gut health because there are so many great outcomes as a result, such as: shedding toxins that clog your metabolism, treating inflammatory disorders, and improving your digestive system. The Truth bar is perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth while remaining nutrient-dense and completely free of “junk” that does not serve the body well.

There are five available flavors: Chocolate Peanut Butter CrunchMint Chocolate ChipChocolate Almond CrunchChocolate Raspberry Coconut, and Dark Chocolate Coconut. Truth Bar has vegan options and all of their bars are gluten-free, non-GMO, kosher, and under 200 calories — so there are choices to fit virtually every lifestyle.

It can be hard to achieve balanced nutrition in the midst of a busy life, which is why Truth Bar aims to be the quickest, most convenient way to get you what your body needs.

I love that the vegan bars are as satisfying and rich as the others.

By using purposeful ingredients such as chia seeds, coconut oil, and chicory root, you can rest assured you’re making a nutritious choice that the whole family will enjoy. With five varieties, there is bound to be a flavor everyone in your family will enjoy.

If you are looking for a way to save money on Truth Bars, order them via Amazon Subscribe and Save. You can save 5% or 15%, depending on how many you order. If you want to buy them in stores, CVS, Gelson’s, and Lazy Acres, all sell them. Check out the Truth Bar website to find the store nearest you.

Recipe: Stuffed Squash

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This is a very hearty dish! Perfect for cold winter nights!

On Sunday, we made dinner for a friend. She’s a vegetarian, and we wanted to make something hearty, filling and nutritious. After searching for a few stuffed squash recipes, and hitting up the grocery store, I picked up a butternut squash. Originally I wanted a acorn squash, but most of the stores were wiped out from Thanksgiving.

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Fruits and veggies cooking in stock. Juicy Gems add a nice tart aspect to the dish.
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The Chopped Squash “guts”

We chose ingredients that were healthy and worked well together. This recipe is naturally vegan and Gluten free. There is an option to top the squash with poached eggs, if you want a little more protein.

This recipe is a little more work than my usual fare, but it’s really tasty and makes A LOT.  To save time I used one of the bags of Mirepoix (pronounced meer pwah)I had prepped and froze last week. If you don’t do prep cooking, check your local grocery store freezer case for frozen mirepoix.

I get all of my spices from Penzey’s. They have 67 stores across the country, and you can order from their website too. They frequently have coupon codes for free samples or shipping when you place an order- It’s worth a google search!

You can serve this as a main dish or a side.

Stuffed Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 T. Olive Oil
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 T. Butter
  • 2 small Granny Smith Apples, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 2 cups onion, diced (I used a sweet onion)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (15 ounce can approx.)
  • 1 ounce pouch of Juicy Gems dried pomegranate arils
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 tsp. French Tarragon
  • 1 tsp. Rubbed Sage
  • 1 tsp. French Thyme
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 T. Air Dried Shallots

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Directions:

  1. Cut Squash in half, remove seeds/membrane. Brush with oil, salt and pepper.
  2. Bake at 425 for 30-45 minutes, until squash is fork tender.
  3. While squash is cooking, In a large pan, melt butter, and saute fruit, veggies, and spices/herbs. Cook over low heat for about 20-30 minutes. Add garbanzo beans, arils, and broth. Cook for another 20-30 minutes or so, or until broth is mostly absorbed and garbanzos are tender.
  4. As the stuffing cooks, once the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out about 1/3 of the squash. You want to create a cavity for the stuffing. Set the “guts”  aside- You can chop it up and add it to the stuffing, or serve it on the side (I just ate it with butter while the stuffed squash cooked).
  5. Place the squash halves on a baking sheet, and fill the cavities with the veggie stuffing. Top with more salt and pepper, as needed.
  6. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a side dish. For added protein when served as a main dish, top each portion with a poached egg. Not sure how to poach an egg? Alton Brown has a great tutorial here. 

 

Talk Back: What is your go-to Vegetarian dish? 

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Meal Plan Monday 11/5/18

stemarie_1650skitchen

I’m back home from Wow Summit, and I had 4 bags full of goodies- most of it was food- no lie! So this week is going to be incorporating a lot of the new foods into our lives and seeing how we like them.

Breakfasts are usually the same for us: Protein shakes for grown ups, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. We have plenty of protein shake fixins’- I buy the over ripe bananas, peel and slice them pop them into ziploc bags, and freeze them for smoothies and protein shakes. 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 a protein shake for the grown ups, and The Big Kid has a specially packed lunch of whatever he’s into at the time (which changes frequently). Bitty Bird eats whatever I’ll feed her.

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: DIY Ramen Night with ramen kits I got from Wow Summit. One is Forbidden Rice Ramen, and the other is Red Miso Ramen. We’ll add poached eggs, bean sprouts, scallions and Asian veggie patties from Aldi’s. I love DIY Ramen nights- it’s a great way to have a yummy, filling vegetarian (or even Vegan) meal. I’ll be writing more about how you can do your own DIY Ramen bar at a dinner party soon.

Tuesday: Grilled Cheese sandwiches and soup, watermelon slices

Wednesday: breakfast for dinner! probably egg scrambles with bacon, veggies, cheese, and whole wheat toast (or whatever bread I have in the freezer)

Thursday: Fruit salad bar (I have a lot of fruit right now- it’s time to make a huge fruit salad), yogurt or cottage cheese, and granola.

Friday: Steak. I really want a steak right now, so I’m planning on pan seared steak with caramelized onions, and a red wine pan demiglace. Roasted veggies, twice baked potatoes, green salad, and popovers. This is a super simple, inexpensive dinner- Less than $20 for a steak dinner for three (Big kid doesn’t eat meat).  I will write about making a rocking steak dinner on the cheap soon.

Saturday: DIY Pizza night

Sunday: Leftovers

 

Talk Back: What are you craving for dinner this week?

Black Bean Veggie Soup

IMG_7410I made this soup tonight and it was sooo good. This would be great for meatless Monday (if you do that at your house), or save this recipe for Lent (if you give up meat for Lent). I served it Mexican Cesar Salad.

It’s tasty, quick, and easy. It took about 5 minutes to put together, and I let it simmer on low for 45 minutes.

Black Bean Veggie Soup
Ingredients:

  • 1 can Campbell’s Black Bean Cumin & Cilantro Condensed Soup
  • 11 oz (1 can) of water
  • 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bag of Birds Eye Recipe Ready Southwest Blend
  • 1 packet Taco seasoning
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This Veggie blend is great! Perfect in soups, chili, and tacos!

Directions:

 

  1. Combine all ingredients in a stock pot
  2. Cook on medium/low for 45 minutes-1 hour.
  3. Top with shredded cheese. It’s also really good with hot sauce and a squeeze of lime.
  4. Serve with Mexican Cesar Salad (Recipe below) and warmed tortillas.

Makes about 6 servings.

The best part is that this meal was less than $1.00/serving! The can of Campbell’s Soup was .49, the tomatoes and black beans were .79/each, and the Frozen veggies were $1.00. I had taco seasoning in the cupboard (It was freebie from a few months ago).  All of these ingredients can be purchased at your local 99 Cents Only (That’s where I got them!).

Here what I serve this incredibly filling soup along side:

Mexican Cesar Salad

  • 6-8 cups of your favorite lettuce/lettuce blend (romaine and bibb is great!)
  • 2 tomatoes cubed/sliced
  • ½ cup purple onion, cut into rings
  • ¼ c ranch dressing
  • ½ c your favorite salsa
  1. Combine the salsa and ranch together, chill in fridge 6-8 hours before servings. This allows the flavors to blend.
  2. Toss the veggies in a chilled salad bowl with the dressing.
  3. Top with ¼ c crushed corn chips/tortilla chips for some added crunch!

Serve topped with grilled chicken breasts for an entree or without meat as a side dish.  Serves 3 as an entree, serves 6 as a side dish.

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.