December 28, 2013

Week 51 - Christmas Traditions

I don't have a meal plan to share this week since we've basically just been making the rounds to family gatherings.  It's been a BIG week of eating!!   So many delicious dishes... I'm related to a lot of great cooks!

We're probably all a little too full to talk much about food this week but it would be mean of me to not share this.

Honey Cranberry French Toast with Brie

The one meal I did prepare this week was our traditional Christmas breakfast.  This is at least the 8th year that we've had this and from the minute I have my last bite I start to anticipate having it again the next year.   It's so tempting to have it at other times but I resist because it would take away from the specialness.  I know this is being posted too late for you to have it on Christmas morning but if you're looking for a special New Years breakfast look no further...

Honey Cranberry French Toast with Brie

 I knew when I was taking this picture that it wasn't going to be my best work, but you get the idea... layers of french toast, sweetened cranberries, brie cheese and a drizzle a real maple syrup.  Seriously, how could that be bad??

Turkey Leftovers

And for those of you who hosted turkey dinner.... What are you doing with the leftovers??  I love to make toasted turkey sandwiches with leftover dressing and cranberry sauce.  Hot turkey sandwiches and turkey soup are some other typical uses.  Last year I was on the ball and made slow cooker stock.  I don't have leftovers his year but I have a turkey in my freezer I'm planning to cook in the next few weeks so I'd love to hear some ideas!


December 20, 2013

Week 50 - The Everyday Salad

PDF Version of Meal Plan

This week turned out much like last week.  We had Christmas lunches and suppers and really just didn't need a complicated menu.  I pulled out the slow cooker and we did three recipes in it, all of which provided multiple meals.  So not a lot of time was spent in the kitchen this week.  Kind of felt like I had the week off.   Merry Christmas to me!

Recipe Quick Links:

Spaghetti & Meatballs, Dave's family recipe
Walnut Crusted Salmon, Taste of Home
Asian Noodle Salad,
Quinoa Salad, Zoe Cuisine
Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken, Budget Bytes
Easy Overnight Oats, Marin Mama Cooks
Almond Milk, Oh She Glows
Tortillas, 100 Days of Real Food
Zucchini Muffins, Weelicious

Spotlight on...

Our Favorite Everyday Salad

It all started with Marin Mama Cooks Lacinato Kale Salad.   Then it got adapted a bit when we were introduced to a simple arugula salad this summer.  Basically we've been eating this salad, with slight variations, for months now.... almost daily.  The funny thing is that when I first ate it I thought is was good for sure but wouldn't have raved about it.  But it was easy so I kept making it.  Now it's turned into almost an addiction and I literally crave it.  In fact, I'm writing this post at 9:30pm and I just polished off a bowl for an evening snack.  So even if you don't see it on the menu, chances are we ate it at that day anyway.  Marin loves it too, if she sees me eating a bowl she'll ask me to make her one too.  The best part... it's the easiest thing ever!  Every week I buy arugula and kale and I've been pre-washing and de-stemming the kale in advance ever since I read this tip from Marin Mama Cooks.  It's such a great time-saver through the week!  Here's the salad "formula":

Start with greens - either Arugula, Kale or a mix of both.
Drizzle with Olive Oil.  If using Kale massage the oil into the leaves (ie.  get right in there with your hands and really work the oil in).  
Squeeze the juice from half a lemon over the greens.
Top with salt, pepper, shaved Parmesan or Vegan Parmesan 'Cheeze'.

So simple, so delicious!



December 13, 2013

Week 49 - Pretzels & Pomegranates

PDF Version of Meal Plan

We were hit with a little bug this week... luckily nothing too severe but as a result the menu was altered slightly.  I'm posting it as it was planned.  Also, because we were busy decorating, shopping, making treats for work, etc... I had planned a week that included mostly standard fare - ie. food that I could make quickly and without having to refer to recipes.  

Recipe Links

Almond Milk, Oh She Glows
Mushroom & Beef Barley Soup, Our Ohio
Simple Turkey Chili,
Easy Overnight Oatmeal, Marin Mama Cooks
Chia Jam, Eat Good 4 Life
Pretzel Chicken Bites, Kirstin Schell
Kale Salad, Marin Mama Cooks
Vegan Parmesan, Oh She Glows
Pumpkin Spelt Muffins, 100 Days of Real Food
Freezer Chocolates, Practical Paleo

Meal in the Spotlight


Pretzel Chicken

Since the menu this week was filled with meals I've made and reviewed numerous times I'll just talk about the one new recipe we tried that happened to be a big hit with everyone.  My sister sent me a link for this recipe saying she tried it last week and really liked it.  Marin's been loving pretzels lately so it was definately worth a shot.

A couple of modifications I made to the recipe:
  1. I cooked mine in a skillet using just enough coconut oil to coat the pan and added a little more after I flipped the chicken so that each side was nicely crisped... but not quite deep-fried.  My sister baked hers and said they turned out great that way too. 
  2. I used only about 1/8 cup of Maple Syrup.  I couldn't justify using 1/2 cup of my precious maple syrup for dipping raw chicken.  I thought they were still plenty sweet, but the coconut oil may have helped with that too.
The results - awesome!  We all loved them.  The chicken was moist and tasty, with a nice crunchy coating.  I ate one cold and it was great that way too so double the recipe and pack leftovers for lunch!

And since I didn't plan to write my post this way I didn't even pause to think about taking a picture. But speaking of pretzels... I fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it) realized this week how easy it is to make soft pretzels!!  That could be dangerous!  I made this batch of pretzel bites to share at work.  Yummm-mee!

Pretzel Bites

Tip of the Week 

De-seeding Pomegranate

I just happened to stumble on this tip this week and seriously... it blew my mind!  I used to de-seed pomegranate by breaking it in pieces and pulling the seeds out.  Messy and time-consuming.  Then I came across the "bowl of water" tip... basically the same technique but you pull the seeds in a bowl of water.  Less messy but still time-consuming.  When I watched this video I was skeptical that it could be that easy but I tried it and it worked exactly like it did in the video!!  Seriously.  Fast, not too messy and actually pretty darn fun.  Another bonus is the seeds fall out really clean.  Plus the guy in the video is pretty cute so it's worth a watch even if you don't like pomegranate.  Here's a festive looking treat you can make to test this out... Dark Chocolate Pomegranate and Ginger Bark.  Sounds delicious!

Pomegranate - before and after de-seeding

Happy Weekend!


December 06, 2013

Week 48 - Dairy Free, No Problem!

PDF Version of Meal Plan

Wow... Week 48 already!!  I've been spending a lot of time lately contemplating where to go with this blog at the end of 52 weeks.  It's had so many personal benefits that I can't see giving it up, yet in it's current format it's a bit too time consuming to keep up while working full time.  I have some ideas that I'll share in a recap post at the end of the year but I'd love to hear any thoughts you might have!  Feel free to either comment or send me a Facebook message if you have ideas or would like to share what you felt worked or didn't work.

Recipe Quick Links

Almond Milk, Oh She Glows
Granola, Civilized Caveman Cooking Creations
Raspberry Chia Jam, Eat Good 4 Life
Avocado Corn Salad, Sobey's Inspired
Whole Wheat Tortillas, 100 Days of Real Food
Maple Soy Salmon, Chatelaine
Vegan Parmesan, Oh She Glows
Slow Cooker Pineapple Chicken, Skinny Ms.
Ginger Mushroom & Kale Beef Stir-fry, Gimme Some Oven

Week in Review

The dairy-free trial continues and I didn't find it so hard this week.  Here are the highlights...

Almond Milk - I would drink this over dairy milk anytime and trust me when I tell you, it's really simple to make and far superior to store-bought!

Granola & Raspberry Chia Jam - I made the granola to use up some almond pulp and paired it with So Good Coconut Yogurt and Raspberry Chia Jam.  Awesome replacement for my typical Greek yogurt & berry snack.  This raspberry jam is ridiculously easy to make and really delicious!!  Making homemade granola happens only on rare occasions in this house... this is my latest favorite store-bought variety.

Love Grown Granola

Black Bean & Avocado Salad Wrap - This was basically the Avocado Corn Salad that I've made numerous times, with the addition of black beans to make it more of a meal.  Then I scooped it up with a warmed fresh tortilla.  Mmm, mmmm....

Quinoa & Pomegranate Salad with Arugula - This was a simple recipe.  I mixed quinoa and bulgar, added pomegranate seeds and a mix of peppers and sugar snap peas.  For the dressing I used a pomegranate vinaigrette.  To pack it for lunch I laid arugula in a bowl and topped it with the quinoa and then mixed it up just before eating.  I think the arugula was a key ingredient.  It's a bit strong and peppery so it's a good balance for the sweetness of the pomegranate.  I mention this one because it was quick, easy and made lunch for two days, and also because we were able to reinvent it so it wasn't just a repeat lunch.  The first day it was paired with black beans and the second day with leftover pineapple chicken and worked well with both.

Maple Soy Salmon - It was so good last week we had it again.  This recipe is a winner!

Vegan Parmesan -  Our typical Arugula and Kale salads have Parmesan cheese (I typically use shaved fresh Parm).  This week I substituted with Vegan Parmesan.  I would say it more closely replaces grated Parmesan but I thought it was really good and was able to totally enjoy my favorite salads.

Kale Salad all dressed up with Vegan Parmesan

Slow Cooker Pineapple Chicken - This was one of those "super-easy-do-all-the-prep-the-night-before- leave-it-for-the-day-and-come-home-to-a-fully-cooked-delicious-meal" slow cooker recipes.  And it used just a few basic ingredients.  And it made enough to have leftovers for lunch.  Love!

Slow Cooker Totally Awesome Pineapple Chicken

Ginger Mushroom & Kale Beef Stir-fry - I actually thought this was just ok but Dave totally enjoyed.  I'd say it was his favorite from the week.

So basically I loved everything this week!

Note:  Dave and Marin did not eat dairy free - they had things like milk, yogurt, cottage cheese and cheese.

Happy Weekend!