March 29, 2013

Week 13 – Plan to Not Plan

Printable Version of Meal Plan and Grocery List

I know it sounds funny... or maybe lazy, but I did actually plan to not plan this week.  Or at least to not over plan.  As I was doing up the menu I went to the fridge and it appeared full, the freezer was overflowing with frozen fruit and vegetables and my sister, who recently had to switch her family to a gluten free diet, dropped off grocery bags full of pantry staples. So I headed out with a loose plan figuring it was one of those weeks I could likely pull something together with what I had.  Not the most exotic week of meals but it kept some things out of the green bin and wasn’t too bad on the pocket book either.

Recipe Quick Links:

Before I jump into the week in review I want to share a funny picture… Marin’s been in ‘chef’ mode lately, always wanting to make her own breakfast, snacks, etc… This is what she came up with for dessert one night last week.  We had it with a scoop of ice cream and minus the carrot, it was actually really good!


Week in Review

Sunday – Sunday’s supper was the ultimate convenience meal… Costco pizza and a Caesar salad.  The Caesar deserves a little attention here – Costco had a bag of mixed greens I hadn’t seen before but it included kale so I had to buy it.   As luck would have it croutons were on sale as well and I had a lemon in the fridge.  Years ago a friend gave me a recipe for a homemade Caesar dressing and I haven’t bought a bottle since.  Mixed greens, awesome croutons and a homemade creamy salad dressing – yum!

Caesar Dressing – mix well 1cup of mayonnaise,  2 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese, 1 Tbsp Lemon juice, 1 clove garlic (minced) and just a little milk.  The milk is to thin it out and give it the consistency you want, so base amount on preference.  I scale this recipe back depending on the size of salad we’re having.

Monday – Lunch was Sunday’s leftovers – so for under $20 we got supper and lunch.  Not bad for a takeout-ish meal.  Supper was my knock off “Shake n Bake” chicken. And I lucked out on sales again – broccoli and cheese were both on sale and I’ve been wanting to make these broccoli and cheese patties again.  As a bonus these can be prepped ahead so they make an easy weeknight meal.

Breaded Chicken

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ c Italian style bread crumbs (or regular with seasoning of choice)
  • ¼ c Parmesan cheese
  • 4 chicken cutlets (2 boneless skinless breasts cut lengthwise)
  • Coconut oil (If baking, spray with olive oil)

1) Place egg in one bowl. Mix bread crumbs and parmesan in second bowl. 2) Dip chicken in egg and then in bread crumb mixture, coat well. 3) If frying, heat oil in skillet and fry chicken until coating is golden and crispy and chicken is cooked through.  If baking, bake at 425 for about 20min.

Tuesday – My sister has been making this Pad Thai regularly since I included it in Week 1.  I threw it in this week because I had a block of tofu that needing eating.  I typically use vermicelli in this recipe but that same sister is the one who dropped off bags of pasta so I used linguini instead and it worked fine. 

Tofu Pad Thai (slightly modified from Crazy Plates cookbook)

Cook vermicelli noodles according to package. Drain and rinse in cold water.

Sauce – combine the following ingredients and set aside.
  • ¼ c Ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp each soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
Heat 1 tsp sesame oil in skillet and add the following, cooking until tofu is browned
  • 1 package cubed firm tofu
  • 1 package coleslaw mix (I like the broccoli mix too)
  • ½ small red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
Add sauce and bring to boil. Stir in noodles. Serve and top with fresh cilantro, green onion, chopped peanuts and a wedge of lime.

The plan for supper was a meatloaf but I felt like something quicker when I got home.  So I ended up just browning the beef with carrots, celery and onion and little soy sauce and served it with a side of basmati.  This meal was fine but this was a package of ground beef I bought at the local farmers market a couple of weeks ago and I was a little regretful I didn’t do something more special with it. 

Wednesday – Lunch was Pad Thai, take 2.  Supper was interesting and I can’t decide if I liked it.  I’ve had spaghetti squash on my mind lately and this recipe (Southwestern Stuffed Spaghetti Squash) appealed to me because it called for cilantro, which I needed for the Pad Thai as well.  We typically love anything remotely Mexican but this wasn’t something we were raving about as we ate it.  But… it was light and left us pleasantly full and sitting here typing about it is making me want a serving!  A few things I would suggest – careful with the jalapenos, I used jarred and it was HOT!!  It was the cheesy bites I really liked so I’d suggest mixing half the cheese in with the filling before stuffing the shells.  And we had it with some diced avocado which was good.

Thursday – one big plus for the stuffed spaghetti squash – leftovers for lunch, and actually better the next day I think.  Supper was going to be a beet and goat cheese salad but as I stood in the produce section, beets in hand, I was thinking ‘do we really need these or can I come up with something else?’  In the end I left the beets and we had goat cheese omelettes with a salad made with that kale lettuce mix from Costco.  Good and used up lots of our fresh ingredients.


Friday – Marin made my breakfast – a bowl of cereal.  It was perfect!  She also coordinated snack – she picked an apple, almonds, coconut and soda crackers.  I went a step further and mixed almond butter with maple syrup and the coconut to have as a spread for the apple.  This was so good!  I’m going to do this up as apple sandwiches for work snacks next week – delicious!   Lunch was Annie’s Organic Mac & Cheese with nutritional yeast flakes and raw veggies.  My plan for supper was fish and coleslaw… nothing more specific than that.  I did a Google search this afternoon for pan-fried haddock and coleslaw and both times came up with Chef Michael Smith recipes.  I’m a huge fan, I watched countless episodes of Chef at Home while on maternity leave and own one of his cookbooks.  His recipes never disappoint!  This Pan Fried Whitefish and Coleslaw with boiled potatoes made an excellent meal!
 IMG_2892 IMG_2893

Then we had strawberry shortcake with whole wheat tea biscuits… mmm… it was a Good Friday!Well... minus the 4 year olds bath time meltdown, but that’s for another blog.  

Happy Easter everyone!

March 22, 2013

Week 12 – March Magazine Week

Printable Version of Meal Plan

Magazine week again!  I like this one… makes meal planning fun on Sunday because I get to flip through my favorite magazines again.  It also take the pressure off having to photograph my meals… not my strength in case you haven’t noticed!

Recipe Quick Links:
Tuna Melt Calzones, Today’s Parent
Whole Wheat Pizza, 100 Days of Real Food
Beef Milanese, Canadian Living
Zesty Roasted Broccoli, Today’s Parent
Skillet Sweet Potatoes and Beans, Canadian Living
Stewed Kale & Lentils, Canadian Living
The Best Breakfast for Dinner Sandwich, Chatelaine

Week in Review

Sunday we were using up leftovers… I added it to the meal plan in case you have similar leftovers you’re trying to use up.  Havarti grilled cheese were using up the leftover havarti from the “lunchmate” lunch last week.  Hot turkeys were using up some of the turkey and gravy leftover from “Winter Favorites” week.  We made homefries too… mmmm….

Monday – Monday’s lunch was a slightly modified version of the Tuna Melt Calzones from Today’s Parent.  I substituted the frozen pizza crust for the whole wheat pizza dough recipe from 100 Days of Read Food.  These were really good!  The recipe also says they freeze well so this would be a great one to big batch ahead of time.  Supper was Beef Milanese which was really just panko crusted and fried beef strips.  The first couple of bites I was thinking that anything coated in panko and fried was a-ok with me.  About half way through though I started to find it too greasy.  Might be my fault – I went a little heavy on the oil.  The Zesty Roasted Broccoli however was delicious!  I added cauliflower as well.


Tuesday – Tuesday’s lunch was calzones again but stuffed with pizza toppings this time.  They reminded me SO much of pizza burgers I use to eat ALL the time when I was in high school.  These would make a great school lunch.  Summer was just a simple pork chop that I didn’t do anything special to and a side of Skillet Sweet Potatoes and Beans.  If you precut your veggies the night before this side dish cooks up quick and was pretty tasty!

Wednesday – I had a green salad with chickpeas on the menu for Wednesday’s lunch but I just wasn’t feeling it.  I had this quinoa cakes recipe from Marin Mama Cooks on the brain but didn’t have a computer handy to look it up.  So I came up with this little number and I thought it was really good… reminded me a bit of Mac & Cheese.  Highly recommend!

Quinoa Mac & Cheese
  • 1/2cup quinoa – prepared as directed on package
  • 1 egg, scrambled
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 c shredded mozza
  • 1 tbsp oil
Heat oil in skillet.  Mix remaining ingredients well and fry until cooked through and cheese is getting crispy.  Enjoy!

For supper we had Stewed Kale and Lentils.  I didn’t have golden raisins so I substituted diced dried apricots.  I’ve never had this with the raisins but I really liked the flavor the apricots added.  Dave looked at this and reluctantly headed to the table with his bowl.  He admitted later that it was much better than he anticipated.  I liked it but think it should definately be served with rice if making a meal out of it.  Or have it as a side.  It’s just a bit too much on its own.  Marin didn’t like it and left the table in tears.  She eventually came back and picked out the walnuts.


Thursday – lunch was leftover lentils… with rice.  Much better!  Supper was not magazine inspired.  I decided to go with something simple and “safe”.  I pan-fried a few chicken cutlets and spread pesto on mine and Dave’s, served with a side salad.  No tears! 

Friday – Lunch was chicken salad on pita.  Again this was not magazine inspired.  I had actually just gotten my Epicure order and was anxious to try out my Mango Curry seasoning.  I mixed up the dip as recommended on the jar and mixed it with diced chicken, celery, grapes, apples and green onion.  Not bad!  If you don’t have mango curry epicure dip you could just mix a little curry powder with mayo and/or plain yogurt.  Supper was “The Best Breakfast for Supper Sandwich” from Chatelaine.  I don’t know about “the best” but anything with bacon is just fine in my books!


Photo Source:

As I type this up I realize we had a lot of greasy fried foods this week – even if they were home cooked I’m feeling the ‘blah’ that comes with that.  I’ll be lightening things up next week!

March 15, 2013

Week 10 & 11 - Where did you go??!!

GAH!  Where did weeks 10 & 11 go?! 

I just realized for the last couple of weeks I've been overwriting my posts :-(  Yes ladies and gentlemen... I am an IT professional.

Here are the links to the menu plans. 

Printable Version of Week 11 - Vegging Out

Printable Version of Week 10 - Winter Favorites

And unfortately you'll just have to trust me when I say that I had some very witty and deep things to say those weeks!

March 01, 2013

Week 9– Pinterest “Recipes to Try”

Printable Version of Meal Plan and Grocery List

My magazine inspired week inspired me to tackle my Pinterest “Recipes to Try” board – it was getting a bit out of control with almost 80 pins!  I’d like to say it’s smaller now but I think I went a little pin crazy this week and pinned more recipes than I tried.  I did find some new favorites though!

Recipe Quick Links:
Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup, Healthy Seasonal Recipes
Salmon Cakes, Healthful Pursuit
Brussels sprouts, beet and pomegranate salad, Chatelaine
Honey Lime Chicken Skewers, Kitchen Meets Girl
Chickpea Burgers, Marin Mama Cooks
Kale Salad, Marin Mama Cooks
Slow Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken, 5 Dinners 1 Hour
Loaded Baked Potatoes, Easy Cookbook Recipes
Chocolate Cookies, The Spunky Coconut
Pop Tarts, 100 Days of Real Food
Whole Wheat Cheddar Crackers, Weelicious

Monday – Lunch was leftover Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup from Sunday night.  I picked this recipe on Sunday because I happened to have all the ingredients on hand.  I’ve mentioned before that we’re not big soup people but this one is a winner – so tasty!  Officially moved to my ‘Favorites’ board.  Supper was Salmon Cakes with Brussel Sprout, Beet and Pomegranate salad, both of which were… ok.  I didn’t have a pomegranate so I added a little Pom Wonderful juice to the salad dressing instead.  I wasn’t a huge fan of the dressing and think the salad would have been better if the beets & brussel sprouts had been roasted perhaps – just a little something to bring out a bit more flavor. For something so packed with ingredients I found it somewhat bland. Dave did like it though and he’s not typically a fan of brussel sprouts. I on the other hand LOVE brussel sprouts! I could steam a bowl and make a meal out of them.

Tuesday – If you’ve been following me you’re no stranger to the quinoa salad we had for lunch – have made something similar a few times already this year. I made this version on the weekend and liked it so much I made it again. Really like the addition of the kale and I used the greek dressing from Week 4.  Supper was Honey Lime Chicken, rice and some raw veggies to give our plates some color. The chicken was good, the marinade is full of flavor… I will say however that this is a grill recipe and would likely be much better cooked on the BBQ as opposed to using the Foreman as I did.  But I will definitely pull this one out come BBQ season! This would be a great marinade to add to chicken to toss in the freezer for an easy summer supper.  After supper for a treat I used up the almond pulp from the latest batch of almond milk to make these chocolate cookies. I made these a couple of weeks ago adding a little whole wheat flour – they were good but not great. This week I added a little coconut flour and coconut (as suggested by my sister who I now have hooked on homemade almond milk!) and they were really good!! I set aside half the batch to eat and half to make ice cream sandwiches… we ate those Wednesday night. OMG – so good! So now that I have a healthier cookie for my ice-cream sandwiches I have to find a healthier filling (currently using Dream Whip). Guess I’ll have to make more almond milk so I can continue experimenting!   

Wednesday – Lunch was tuna salad, veggies with dip and crackers. This is what I call “munchy lunch”. It’s nothing special but easy to throw together and always good.  But let’s not talk about lunch – supper was most definitely the highlight! A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon this blog called Marin Mama Cooks. Of course, being “Marin’s Mama” I had to check it out and before I knew it I had spent an entire lunch break browsing this gorgeous site.  Her recipes all look delicious and are also super easy to follow because she documents each step with beautiful photography.  I tried the Chickpea Burgers and Kale Salad – both really good!  I knew I couldn’t even come close to doing this meal justice so I asked her permission to use this photo...  
chickpeaburger_mmc Photo by Jacquelyn Grandy @ MarinMamaCooks   

Ingredients for this meal included chickpeas, cilantro, avocado, tzatziki…. seriously if I personalized the song ‘These are a Few of my Favorite Things’ these would all be in my list so it was no surprise I enjoyed it so much.  The kale salad is something I can see making quite often. Here’s a funny kale story – I’ve been trying to find kale for weeks, Marin has even been making special requests for green chippies.  Last week while at the grocery store I could see the kale from a distance and I said ‘Marin, guess what??? I see KALE!’ and we both literally cheered! We made green chippies as a snack last weekend.  As she was eating this salad she was saying ‘mmm….I love kale!’  I just love that I have a 4 year old who knows what kale is! So definitely try this meal and definitely check out Marin Mama Cooks… just make sure you have a good chunk of time before you do!  

Thursday – Dave didn’t need lunch so I got to enjoy the leftover chickpea burgers and kale salad!! The only thing better than leftovers for lunch is leftovers that I know are so darn yummy!  I think I actually ate early because the lemony goodness of the salad was calling my name and it was in fact better on day two.  But unfortunately supper, Honey Sesame Chicken, was a big disappointment.  And I was really looking forward to trying this one.  In fact I had it pinned twice I wanted to try it so bad!  I have to say though I don’t think it was through any fault of the recipe, it was just that 9 hours was far too long and the sauce burned. I’m keeping this one on my Recipes to Try board so that I can give it another shot and it might be time to invest in a slow-cooker with a timer so that I’m not limited to 8-10 hour recipes.   

Friday -- The plan shows leftover honey chicken but since ours was pretty much burned to a crisp that didn’t happen. We just ended up having hard-boiled eggs, veggies and dip and some whole wheat cheese crackers. The recipe refers to these as a homemade version of Goldfish crackers. I find them nothing like Goldfish but in fact much prefer them. Just 4 ingredients and if you have the right tools they are a cinch to make! 


Supper was inspired by this recipe for Loaded Baked Potatoes.  In reality I went a bit more ‘potato skins’ with this meal… I microwaved a couple of potatoes and cut them into rounds, brushed them with bacon fat and baked them until crispy.  Then I topped them with cheese and bacon, served with sour cream.  Not the healthiest meal we ate this week but pretty darn good just the same!


Sneak peek for next week - Winter Favorites!

Happy meal planning everyone!