“Potato Soup” is What’s for Dinner

One of the first websites I started following when we started on our journey was 100 Days of Real Food. I loved finding out something new about an ingredient or a product and then going over to the 100 days site to see what information they might have on it. Or if they have “unjunked” a recipe that I wanted to try to make from scratch.  When they came out with a cookbook late last year I was so excited, especially to hear that it contained a lot of recipes that were not on the website. One of our favorite recipes from that cookbook is the Slow Cooker Potato Soup.  It is not only an incredibly easy meal to make, but the flavors from the simple ingredients are really out of this world.

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“Tex-Mex Taco Pasta” is What’s for Dinner

Do you ever have one of those days where you are heading home from work, go to pick your kids up from school, and BAM a wicked headache hits??? Well I had one of those days today.  As I am driving home from the girls school all I am thinking about what we are having for dinner and how I really do not feel like cooking.  What I really want to do is lie down and make everything stop. What happened next was pretty amazing, my daughter said “mommy can I help you cook dinner tonight?”.  This was what I needed to hear, so my sous chef grabbed a chair and took direction like a champ.

Tex-Mex Taco Pasta

 

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Meal Planning January 25, 2015

We are back to weekly meal planning over here.  You know sometimes life takes over and you just have to go with it. I am really excited about our meals this week. All but one are new to us and seem like they will be quick and easy to do at night. I didn’t get to go grocery shopping until later in the afternoon, so I knew that I had to make the most of my time. I went to Trader Joe’s for the majority of the items and then to Publix to pick up a few things.  This weeks total for groceries was just under $100.  I was pretty excited about that.

So here is the menu board for the week:

Menu Board January 25 2015

 

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“Brinner” Is What’s for Dinner

So last Thursday was supposed to be “Brinner for Dinner”.  As is with everything, life (and work) got in the way of dinner.  So we just had leftovers.  I was determined to make up for it this week. Even though we did not have an official meal plan for the week, I knew we were going to have Brinner.  So Brinner is breakfast for dinner.  The girls love it.  The funny thing is that I remember having breakfast for dinner growing up and I HATED it.  It was my least favorite dinner that we had.  I think part of the reason was that I didn’t like eggs when I was younger.  It had to do with my braces.  Eating eggs always tasted like I was eating metal and so it was something that I never wanted to eat (even after the braces came off).  I outgrew it and I love eggs now.

So for this Brinner I was craving pancakes.  I love good, fluffy pancakes.  But more often than not the good fluffy pancakes that you can either buy in the store or eat out are loaded with white flour, some form of processed oil, added sugar and who knows what else.  I have tried many pancake recipes over the past few years and I could never get that “traditional” pancake taste or texture.  That is until I tried the Whole-Wheat Banana Pancakes from 100 Days of Real Food.  These my friends are life changing.  I love that the only sugar comes from the banana and the honey (2 tbs if you double the recipe and I recommend doing that).  The other amazing thing is that you don’t even need syrup with these pancakes.  The are moist (from the banana) and light.

Whole-Wheat Banana Pancakes

When I make these I always double the batch so that I can freeze some for “one of those times that you don’t feel like cooking”.  I ended up with thirty pancakes when I was done. We had seventeen left and I was able to freeze those.  To freeze them I let them cool, and the stack with parchment paper in between and put into a freezer bag.

One new item that I was able to use for this was my new Misto.  In the past I just brushed the oil on the griddle, but I missed the old days when I would just spray and go. These gives me the best of both worlds, the ability to use my preferred oil and the ability to spray without using harsh chemicals.  It’s a win-win.

Until next time,

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“Naan Pizza” is What’s for Dinner

Friday is pizza and movie night at our house. It’s a nice way to wind the work/school week down and get ready for the weekend. Sometime we order pizza out from a local restaurant whose claim is “a slice has big has your head” and it is true, they are massive slices of pizza. Other times we make it at home.  I have used store-bought dough, and it was okay.  I’ve tried {unsuccessfully on numerous time} to make cauliflower crust, I’ve done mini bagels, but short of making my own dough, nothing has really stuck with us. One day I came across some Naan Bread at the store and they had sauce and other “pizza-like” ingredients near it and I decided to try it.  Well it was quite the hit so we try to have it at least twice a month. The ladies are pretty standard in what they want on theirs week in and week out…Cheese. Mike and I like to mix it up with whatever we might have leftover from the week.  Since I still had some of the chicken teriyaki from the other night, we decided to try that along with some peppers I had cut for snacking.

Chicken and Pepper Naan Pizza

teriyaki chicken and pepper

Cheese

Cheese

What I love most about making them with Naan bread, is that it only takes about 10-15 minutes to bake it and that is just to get the ingredients hot and the cheese melted.  The bread itself does not get overly crunchy, but still stays a little soft.  Another perk is that the ladies love it, and you can’t ask much more than that.

Until next time,

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“Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken” is What’s for Dinner

Whenever possible I try to do a slow cooker meal on Wednesday’s since we have soccer practice.  While doing my meal planning over the weekend I came across this recipe and I have to be honest it was the white rice that drew me to this.  I love white sticky rice. I know that it nutritionally dense and does not do a whole lot for you, but man is it good.  Back to the recipe, it was really quick and easy to put together on Wednesday morning before work.  I made one substitution to the original recipe, I substituted the soy sauce for Coconut Aminos.  I try to avoid soy products in our diet and I love that there is an alternate.  Coconut aminos are soy free, have less sodium than traditional soy sauce, are gluten-free, dairy-free and the particular brand that I use is non-GMO.  It was the first time that I had used it in a teriyaki recipe {I used it in stir fry a lot}, and it was really good.  I don’t personally feel like it leaves a coconut flavor to the sauce.

So since it was the white rice that drew me to this particular meal, I felt like we had to have some to go with it.  If you have a Trader Joe’s in your area, they have some great organic frozen rice, both brown and jasmine white, in small pouches that are microwaveable and come three to a box.  They are the perfect amount of rice {we split one bag between the four of us. My girls are not big on rice}. Much to my dismay, my Trader Joe’s was out of white rice {the horror} so we had to have brown rice with our dinner.

This was SO SO SO yummy!  It received 4 thumbs up and will be included into the dinner rotation.

Until next time,

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“Silly sandwiches” is What’s for Dinner

Tonight’s dinner is a family favorite.  It was about six months ago that I was trying to come up with something good and easy for dinner on one of those weeks where I hadn’t really gone grocery shopping and there was no real plan. {yes, those do happen occasionally}  I looked around and I had bread and banana and peanut butter so I said to my girls “who wants a grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich” and one of them said that is silly and such the “silly sandwich” was born.

Tonight’s choices were either peanut butter and banana or apple and cheese.  The girls had grilled peanut butter and banana and Mike and I had grilled apple and cheese.  I have recently been introduced to Alpine Valley Bread.  I love that there are few ingredients, almost all organic and non-GMO.  The other thing I love is that the sugar content is pretty low for bread.  The Multi Grain Omega 3 was the base for our sandwiches.  I used Kirklands Organic Peanut Butter (peanuts and salt, you can’t get much better than that) and an organic banana for the girls.  {I have found that Trader Joes has the best price around for organic bananas, .29 per banana} For our sandwiches I thinly sliced an organic gala apple {bag from Whole Foods from the January 4th shopping trip} and some havarti cheese from Trader Joes.  I used some coconut oil on the bread as the grilling agent.  I am not opposed to butter, in fact I love Kerry Gold Butter, but on this sweeter type of sandwich the coconut oil works better.  I also sprinkled some cinnamon on the bread.  I had some avocado and cherry tomatoes sitting around so I sliced those up for a nice little side with some salt and pepper.

This meal received, a not surprising at all, 4 thumbs up.  The interesting thing about this meal is that one of my girls WILL NOT eat a grilled cheese sandwich if her life depended on it, but loves grilled “silly sandwiches”.  Go figure.  So the moral of the story is, put something “silly” on a sandwich and grill it for those picky eaters.

Until next time,

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Meal Planning January 11, 2015

Today is Sunday so that must mean I was meal planning today.  For this week’s meal plan I decided to see what I had in my pantry (and freezer) and go from there.  We are also having some favorites this week.  After taking stock of the inventory and checking my Pinterest Board and the internet I settled on this plan for the week.

Menu Board- January 11 2015

I am trying these two new recipes this week, The Italian Orzo Spinach Soup can be found here, and the Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken can be found here.  I didn’t realize they were from the same site until I made the shopping list.  The Stir Fry will be veggie based with brown rice.  Silly Sandwiches is something that my girls came up with and are usually grilled apple and cheese or grilled peanut butter and banana.  “Brinner” is breakfast for dinner, I usually decide the day of what we are going to have.  Sometimes its pancakes, or french toast or some egg dish.  You will have to stay tuned to see what tickles my food dreams on Thursday.  Finally on Friday we are going to have Naan Pizza. I love using Naan bread as the base for individual pizzas.

For today’s shopping, I tried out a new shopping list app Grocery IQ, I’m not in love with it.  I looked at the suggestions from last week’s post {thank you for those} and one is an apple only product {android girl here} and the other did not give me the check-ability that I love.  So I am still searching. Given what was on my shopping list today I decided that I could get almost everything that I needed at Trader Joes and then pick up the remaining items at Publix.

shopping-jan 11 15

Here is most of the items purchased.  My husband was very helpful and started putting items away before the picture was taken.  Between the two stores I spent $100 on items for the five dinners, plus some breakfast and lunch items.  Not to bad 🙂  Now on to tonight’s dinner:

ITALIAN ORZO SPINACH SOUP

There were very few modifications that I made to this soup.  I decided that my girls might like it better if it were a little more colorful so I purchased rainbow organic carrots at Trader Joes.  I also did a fifty-fifty mix of chicken stock and vegetable stock {it’s what I had on hand}.  I found a great multi-grain baguette loaf at the store {not completely clean, but also not entirely junked up} and had that for dipping.  The last difference was that I added a little grated Parmesan cheese to the top, it added a nice salty element to the soup. Overall this was a big hit in the house.  It made a lot of soup and I not only have some for lunch tomorrow, but also dinner if the Stir Fry doesn’t go over well.

Dinner rating: 3 out of 4 thumbs.

Until next time,

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“Velvety Macaroni” is What’s for Dinner

When I was making the meal plan for the week, Lily said that she wanted to have Macaroni and Cheese and I was happy to oblige.  I mean who does not like macaroni and cheese?  Since we started our real food journey I have found that boxed macaroni and cheese (the stuff that I and everyone I know grew up on) is bad.  Not just a little bad, but why are artificial colors and food dyes needed?  I will occasionally buy the Annie’s Organic Mac and Cheese for pinch, but there is something really satisfying about making food from scratch {at least it is to me}.  Mike found the recipe I made tonight on Forks Over Knives.  I was intrigued about the use of butternut squash as the base for the cheese sauce.

When I was doing my weekly shopping, my Whole Foods did not have whole butternut squashes, but they did have some that where already cut up. I try to buy organic produce as much as possible, but since butternut squash is not on the dirty dozen list, I was okay with buying it even though it was not organic.  Now, for cost reasons buying the whole vegetable and cutting yourself is going to be more cost efficient that purchasing pre-cut items.

Since the butternut squash was already cut, I had to adapt the recipe to work with that ingredient.  So I placed the cubes in a ziplock bag (you could also use a bowl) and added some salt, pepper, garlic powder and olive oil.  Coated the squash and then baked for 30 minutes.  I love that the recipe used brown rice pasta (which I had some on hand).  It is a great alternative to regular pasta.  I don’t know about your family, but mine is not keen on the whole-wheat pasta, so this is a great option.  I purchase my brown rice pasta at Trader Joes.

Since I roasted the butternut squash, I skipped step in the recipe that calls for streaming it with garlic.  Instead while my pasta was cooking I added the steam basket to the top and steamed the broccoli.  {great time saver}  Making the “cheese” sauce was very easy, I added the roasted butternut squash, almond milk, nutritional yeast, salt and garlic powder to a sauce pan, plugged my immersion blender in and that’s when I remembered that it no longer worked.  Hello Amazon 🙂 So I put the mixture into the blender and it worked just as well.

I was very pleased with how the meal turned out and it was given 3 and 1/2 thumbs tonight.  That’s pretty good for 5-year-old critics in my book.  It will definitely be going into the dinner rotation.

Until next time,

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Meal Planning January 4, 2015

Sunday’s are my meal planning days around here.  Sometimes I decide on the menu for the week, but most of the time I ask Mike and the girls what they want to eat for dinner during the week.  Today when I asked Mike immediately said he wanted Stroganoff and Lily said she wanted Macaroni and Cheese and Tacos.  We have a few evening events this week so instead of trying to make five meals, I decided that I would stick with three, knowing that at least two of them, if not all three would produce leftovers.

Since now that I have a plan for the week, I need to find either tried and true recipes or something new.  I love adding at least one new recipe to the mix every week.  For the stroganoff, I knew that I would use Mike’s mom’s recipe and make some real food changes to it.  For the Macaroni and Cheese, I ventured to Forks Over Knives and found this recipe that looked interesting (http://www.forksoverknives.com/recipes/velvety-macaroni), the test will come later in the week when I make it (stay tuned for the verdict on that one), and finally I decided to try out a new slow cooker recipe, (http://therecipecritic.com/2014/11/slow-cooker-chicken-fajita-soup/).  I love using the slow cooker, especially on night where we have extra-curricular activities in the evening.

I had previously used ZipList for the shopping list, but since they shut down I am on the search for a new one if anyone has any suggestions. So today I just created a list with my Google Keep app.  I mainly shop at Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Publix,  and occasionally Fresh Market.  About once a month we go to Costco for some great staples (stay tuned for post on my favorite Costco items).  Today the weather was pretty crummy so instead of going to multiple stores I only went to Whole Foods today.  I did really well and stuck to my list (with only a few splurge items that ended up in my cart, I mean who can pass up the mini chocolate croissants. 80/20 remember).  Our grocery bill was $130, but it included some once a month staples such as protein powder and pure maple syrup.  I try to keep our costs to around $100-$125 per week.  Since I only went to Whole Foods there are some items that I purchased that I can find for a better price at the other stores, but the weather was not in my favor today.  So next week hopefully I can shop around.

Whole Foods purchases

Whole Foods purchases

About six months ago I created a command center of sorts for our kitchen area, that accomplished two items.  One to keep the clutter off my counters and two, to serve as a menu board for the week.

Menu Board January 4

As you can see from the board, there are only three dinners planned for this week.  For tonight’s dinner I adapted Mike’s mom’s “Hamburger Stroganoff” recipe into a “LLRealFood” version.  Here are the original ingredients with my modifications in blue:

HAMBURGER STROGANOFF

½ C minced onion

1 lb fresh mushrooms sliced  (or 1 can 8 oz sliced, drained)  (i used 1lb of organic baby portobello mushrooms)                                 

1 clove garlic, minced  (Organic minced garlic from Costco)

¼ C butter or margarine   (Kerry Gold Butter was used, but only 3 tablespoons)

1 can (10 ½ oz) cream of chicken soup  (This was made from scratch from this recipe, http://pinchofyum.com/homemade-cream-of-chicken-soup 

1 lb ground beef   (I used Organic Ground Chicken)

1 C sour cream (8 oz) (I used Organic Valley Sour Cream)

1 T flour (Organic White-Whole Wheat Flour)

Parsley (omitted)

1 t salt

¼ t pepper

Noodles or rice (I used wide egg noodles from Whole Foods.  Whole wheat noodles just don’t work well with this)

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It turned out amazing!  I’m not a huge fan of mushrooms, but I think that the baby portobellos work well with this.  They are a bit meaty and not slimy like some other mushrooms taste to me.  We sometimes like to rate the dinners by a show of thumbs up…tonight’s dinner was 3 out of 4.  I call that a success.

Until next time,

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