Friday, October 29, 2010

Meals for the Week of November 1

Happy Halloween!  This is an iPhone photo I took this week when we visited a pumpkin farm very close to our house.  When I was there I also picked up a beautiful butternut squash that I can't wait to use next week as well as some local honey that I hope will help me to naturally reduce my seasonal allergies.  Since I will be 8 and 9 months pregnant at the beginning of Spring when I always have severe allergies and usually take medication, I'm hoping local honey that contains the pollen will help me.

It's November already.  Hard to believe, although I say it every year, it's amazing how quickly the year passes.  For me, I'm already thinking about the holidays and specifically about what I'll be cooking and baking.  If you like to bake and make candy and cookies to give as gifts, my #1 Tip for holiday baking is to start stocking up now on your supplies.  Pretty much every grocery store and even stores like Walmart and Target have their holiday baking displays set up already with items on sale.  I always find it to be easier to start buying things like chocolate chips, sugar, flour, mini loaf and cake pans, even butter with each trip to the store, to help spread out the cost.  You can even get nuts in advance, just stick them in the freezer along with the butter so they can stay fresh.  By the time December rolls around and you are in the thick of spending money on gifts or travel expenses, you have already purchased what you need to make heart-felt homemade treats.

I will begin sharing great recipes for the holidays over the next few weeks as well as on my Facebook page, if you have questions/comments or want advice, please let me know.

Meals for Week of November 1, 2010 

Don't forget to use for an easy way to make your shopping list.

Apple and Cheddar Whole Wheat Quesadillas-This can certainly be a snack, but I consider quesadillas my go-to meal for a busy night.  Have a salad or tomato soup on the side and it’s a complete meal.
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas- I’ve recommended this recipe before, but it’s worth repeating and a great Fall meal.  They re-heat well and are perfect to pack in your lunch for work the next day.

Spaghetti Squash Marinara with Italian Sausage- Instead of pasta, use delicious spaghetti squash.  You can make the squash in advance and then re-heat and add your favorite pasta sauce. 
Beef Stew with Noodles- Very simple with not a lot of ingredients.  This is a great Sunday evening meal or the kind of meal where you can multi-task while this simmers on the stove.  

Parmesan Crusted Chicken Tenders- These take just 30 minutes to make and they are low calorie, but flavorful.
Chicken with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Orzo- Sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, cheese and whole wheat orzo pasta.  Easy enough for a weeknight, but could be a great dish to serve company.  

Turkey Meatloaf- A tasty and lower fat alternative to traditional beef meatloaf. 

Crockpot Pasta Fagioli- Similar to a minestrone soup, this contains ground beef and it is a sort of copycat of a soup available at The Olive Garden.  The recipe can easily be vegetarian by omitting the meat and using vegetable stock instead of beef.

Apricot Barbecue Wings- I don’t know about you, but in our house chicken wings aren’t always a snack, or appetizer, we have them as a part of dinner.  So you could have these cooking while you’re away at work or save them for a weekend to have when watching football.  Either way, they are sweet and tangy and delicious. 

Tortellini Tomato Spinach Soup- A low calorie but filling soup that you can throw together on a weeknight.  Great for lunch leftovers too. 

Side Dishes/Dessert

Butternut Squash with Sage-  You don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving to make this, give it a try and if you love it, then serve it again for the holiday.
Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries- I like this because it has a slightly different twist than other oven recipes using spices like Chinese Five Spice or pumpkin pie spice instead of just salt and pepper. 

Spiced Applesauce Cake- So perfect for fall.  It’s really a very simple scratch cake with a delicious cream cheese frosting. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Meals for Week of October 25, 2010

I think Fall is finally here.  I know it has been for many parts of the country but here in California we continued to have a heat wave.  But now it's been cooler and rained a little and so now it really feels like Fall weather food.
I don't have any helpful or interesting articles to share this week.  But I did want to pass along a few links for Halloween treats that might provide inspiration.

Martha Stewart's Halloween Cookie Photo Gallery is always fun to look at.  Many cookies have some elaborate decorations so they may be a little labor intensive, but they are cool to look at.

Bakerella's Halloween Cake Pops- SO ADORABLE.  The next time I make cake pops myself I will document how it goes.  I have not reached the adorable skill level yet.  Not by a long shot.  But the actual process of making the pops (or balls) is not difficult.

If you want to put a little treat bags together and make it a little healthier try this Trick or Treat Trail Mix.

Meals for Week of October 25, 2010

American Chop Suey- This recipe has a crazy name, I haven’t read the article in Relish Magazine that accompanied it, but in any case, it’s an inexpensive and easy to prepare meal. 

Turkey Pumpkin Chili- A really unique twist on chili, but pumpkin pairs well with chili spices to create a sweet and smoky chili. 

Baked Rigatoni with Sausage, Butternut Squash and Kale- Make it healthier by looking for a nitrite-free sausage, but this is a complete meal with vitamin rich squash and kale. 

Black Bean Tostadas- Really easy meal that will be ready in 30 minutes.  It’s meatless as written or you can adapt it to use whatever you like.

Easy Slow Cooker Chili- I really like this recipe for chili in your Crock Pot.  It's interesting because it's not the recipe I use for chili I make on the stove, but I like it for the slow cooker. I have made it with or without the beer. 

Braised Chicken Thighs with Potatoes and Carrots- Another simple and easy slow cooker recipe.

Easy Shepherd’s Pie- I know I had a shepherd’s pie recipe last week, here’s another that is a bit more traditional and baked in the oven.

Yellow Split Pea and Sweet Potato Soup- Fantastic meatless soup that is still hearty.  Great fall flavors. 

Butternut Squash and Sage Lasagna- The combination of sage and butternut squash are so good!  Definitely use fresh or cooked store-bought noodles, don’t use the no-boil noodles.  Cut your prep time with using pre-cut squash.

Stir Fried Turkey in Lettuce Wraps- I love this because you can really just create whatever stir fry you want using the flavors you like.  Plus is quick and easy to make and fun to eat. 

Side Dishes/Desserts/Snacks

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds- In case you need some instructions to follow for roasting the seeds from your Halloween pumpkins.

Sautéed Kale with Toasted Cashews- You easily do this with spinach if you prefer, but give kale a chance.

Marshmallow Popcorn Balls- I have been making these for Halloween for quite a few years now.  I much prefer them over the traditional method.  You can make them more festive by mixing in Halloween M & M’s or other candy. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Meals for Week of October 18, 2010


Sorry, I know it's been about 4 weeks since my last post.  I never meant to take that long to get back to the blog.  Even now, I'm sort of winging this post.  We're still in the midst of packing our house and I'm just starting to regain some energy as my first trimester comes to an end.  I think about the blog constantly and I have felt so guilty about not putting in the time to work on it.  I keep questioning if I was wrong to take a break when I seemed to be gaining momentum with new subscribers.  Life is still incredibly chaotic.  My kitchen is mostly packed up.  I kept out just basic utensils and a couple of pots and pans.  And now I realize we won't be moved until after Thanksgiving and I am determined to cook Thanksgiving dinner because it's been like 3 years since I have made anything beyond a dessert or a dish to bring to some other house for the holiday.  So now I'm hoping I can make it work with just a few pots and 2 baking dishes.

In other news I've lost just over 10 lbs and about 8 inches from my Mama Boot Camp classes, even though I haven't worked nearly as hard at it as I originally intended.  My own personal eating has been very hit and miss with pregnancy food aversions, cravings and general lethargy that makes me not hungry.  I have made a few great dinners in recent weeks utilizing produce from my Farm Fresh to You delivery and locally raised beef that I recently purchased from Cal Tex Cattle Cooperative.  (I will have more about this beef coming soon with some recipes of what I've made.)

Fall is here and with that, delicious recipes using the great seasonal produce.  Except it's been in the high 80's and 90's where I live.  It's a buzz kill for the Fall Mood.  But in any case I'm listing some great Fall recipes in hopes that they are just right for others out there.

Recipes for the Week of Octobr 18, 2010

Baked Southwestern Tilapia- Simple and flavorful, ready in under 15 minutes.

Slow Cooker Sausage Lasagna- An easy way to have lasagna on a busy weeknight.  This recipe is an e-mealplanning favorite!

Chicken Stir Fry with Yakisoba Noodles- The beauty of a stir fry is it’s really about the method of cooking and the ingredients you use are up to you.  You can also prepare the noodles separately and not add them to the pan but instead just serve the stir fry over them.

Glazed Pork Tenderloin Medallions- Good enough to serve for company but also easy for preparing for the family on a weeknight.  The sweet and tangy sauce is wonderful with the pork.

Easy One Pot Mac and Cheese- Love this recipe, so great to whip up on a weeknight and serve with simple steamed veggies or a salad.

Skillet Shepherd’s Pie- A twist on the classic version that takes less time and instead of using mashed potatoes uses frozen shredded hash brown potatoes.  Also a great meal to make using a cast iron skillet or any heavy bottom, oven safe skillet.

Crock Pot Thai Curry- You may have most of these ingredients on hand and simply need coconut milk and chili paste.  Feel free to substitute the eggplant for another squash or use whatever combination of vegetables you like.

Minestrone Soup- It's not exactly authentic, but a very simple and easy recipe for a classic Italian soup.  It uses frozen vegetables and we suggest the Italian style variety or to use whatever fresh vegetables are available.  Hearty enough to be a meal alone with some bread or a salad.  To add more flavor; use the Italian style chopped tomatoes.  This soup freezes well.

Side Dishes/Dessert

Fall Salad with Maple Vinaigrette- This recipe can really just serve as inspiration for your own version of a fall salad.  Apples and blue cheese are always great in any salad.

Butternut Squash with Wilted Spinach and Blue Cheese- You can roast the squash in advance to toss this together quickly on a weeknight.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Icebox Cake
- No baking, just mixing and assembling.