Meal Planning in a Pinch

Our family had a crazy weekend this weekend and this meant meal planning was placed on the back burner until about 5 seconds ago. Now, it’s 7:00 p.m. on Sunday night, we just got home from being out of town for a sports tournament, and in place of meal planning, I’d rather take a bubble bath and go to bed early. But come dinner time tomorrow, I’ll be kicking myself for no plans….so, I’m scrambling. Normally, this would be a week where I’d do all “staple” dinners because then I don’t have to think about them…you know the ones. Tried and true and you can never go wrong because you’re whole family loves them. But I’m trying to stick with branching out. So this week, to make it a little easier, I’m going with all recipes from paleOMG – either her cookbook or her blog (both are amazing). I’m not even sure what order we’ll eat these in, but this is what I’m thinking:

Monday: Pumpkin Cashew Chicken Coconut Curry over Coconut Rice

I have no idea if anyone in my house will eat this. I don’t even know if I like curry. But we’re on a food adventure….and how are we going to know if we like it if we don’t try. So let’s do it.

Tuesday: Savory Sweet Potato Meatloaf with Bacon Brussels Sprouts

These are both new recipes for us but any meatloaf that gets topped with bacon is probably ok in my book. The Brussels sprouts are very similar to a recipe I used last week that we all loved (thanks for sharing, Kyle!) so I doubt the addition of pecans is going to change that. And again, put bacon on it….we’re probably ok with eating it.

Wednesday: Thai Pork and Veggie Meatballs

Another fairly safe bet. Usually can’t go wrong with meatballs. Who doesn’t like meatballs?!?

Thursday: Balsamic Poached Fig Stuffed Pork with savory sweet potatoes and roasted broccoli

This pork sounds awesome. I’m crossing my fingers that it tastes as good as it looks because I can definitely see this one becoming a regular in the dinner rotation. I still have some shredded sweet potatoes in the freezer and some broccoli in the crisper so that will round it all out nicely I think.

Friday: Date and Shallot Rosemary Chicken with fresh green beans

This looks like a fairly simple meal for the end of the week. And I love rosemary. And dates. And shallots. Oh Yum! This might have just gotten bumped to Monday. Not sure I can wait till Friday.

Ok, there you have it. All meals planned and blogged in 30 minutes. Now for that bubble bath and some comfy jammies.

UPDATE:

Monday’s chicken curry was awesome! Will definitely be making this again. I cut the cayenne in half and it was still plenty spicy! For the coconut rice, I ended up using quite a bit more coconut milk than it called for. I also added an extra 1/4 of the unsweetened coconut that I dry-toasted in a pan first. So good!!

Tuesday’s meatloaf and Brussels were amazing. The meatloaf recipe makes two or three loaves so we had leftovers for lunches! Score! And I got reprimanded for not making a double batch of sprouts. Apparently those are now the #1 veggie in our house.

Wednesday’s pork and veggie meatballs….were kind of a bust. But only sort of. The flavor of these is unbelievably delicious. The problem came in the texture of the meatballs – so mushy! I’m sure it was something I did wrong….like mixing to much or maybe I used too many veggies? I don’t know. I will definitely be tweaking this one to see if I can fix it because we really loved the flavor.

Thursday’s pork was good, but not great. I might try it again. While it was delicious, we weren’t blown away. I might try this in the crockpot next time?

Friday….my family was not happy that I was sticking to the menu instead of going out on Friday night. They groaned and made faces when I said I was making chicken. After a long week of work, they are lucky I was not holding a frying pan or there might have been injuries. I actually got an apology during dinner though because OMG. This chicken is SOOOOOOOOO good. Like ridiculously good. I ended up making steamed broccoli and roasted potatoes with it. I hid the leftovers in the back of the fridge so I can eat them in hiding later….

Advertisements

Banana Boats

Hey guys, it’s kid#1! One of my favorite desserts to make are banana boats. (These are not Paleo – sorry Mom!) This is what you are going to need:

  • 2 bananas
  • a handful of chocolate chips
  • a handful of marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup of peanut butter (optional)

Directions:

  1. Slice the 2 bananas lengthwise.
  2. Cover a pan with tinfoil and set the bananas on it.
  3. Spread the peanut butter on the flat part of the banana.
  4. Make a pattern of 1 marshmallow, then 1 chocolate chip along the peanut butter.
  5. Set the oven to broil and put in the bananas for about 1-2 minutes. Watch them carefully so the marshmallows don’t burn or catch fire.
  6. Take the bananas out and let them cool for just a minute so you don’t burn your mouth.
  7. ENJOY!!!!!!!

Serves 4. Or 2 if you’re hungry. 🙂

Dinners – week 2

I’m in full comfort mode right now….still in my jammies, sipping a steaming mug of my favorite Teavana tea, jamming out to the new Taylor Swift album (I just love her!?!?) while playing indoor fetch with the dog and meal planning for the week. Here’s what I decided:

Sunday: Taco lettuce wraps.

Tacos are a staple in our house. Our family could eat tacos every day I think. So when we started Whole30 I knew I would have to come up with a solution to get our taco fix without the shells. Enter romaine lettuce leaves. Still provides that crunchy texture that we love with tacos and serves as a vehicle to scarf down all that yummy taco meat and toppings. Wasn’t sure how my kids would react to eating lettuce instead of the processed goodness of a store bought crunchy taco shell….but they only balked for a moment and once they tried it, they loved it. I buy whatever ground meat is on sale (chicken, beef or turkey). I also prefer to make my own taco seasoning and use that instead of the prepackaged stuff. I use this recipe and make a huge batch. We are pretty basic with toppings but love the Wholly Guacamole (in place of sour cream) and black olives. When not on Whole30, we add a little cheese. Definitely a family favorite.

Monday: Crispy Coconut Chicken Dippers, savory shredded sweet potatoes and steamed fresh green beans. 

For the sweet potatoes, I get kid #1 to peel them because she actually enjoys it…then I shred them in the food processor with the shredding blade. Toss them in a preheated pan with some coconut oil and add a hefty sprinkle of onion powder, cinnamon, and salt and pepper. Sautee and cook down until soft. We eat these all the time. For breakfast, lunch or dinner. I usually buy a huge bag and she peels them all at once and then I freeze containers of shredded sweet potatoes for later use. I love these containers in a variety of sizes to freeze things and these freezer labels.

Tuesday: Pernil in the crockpot with Cilantro Lime Cauliflower “rice”

This whole meal is a family favorite. SO easy and soooooo delicious. I’m never disappointed with a Skinnytaste recipe. I just love her blog because she cooks with real food and lots of flavor. When not doing a Whole30, the real rice version is equally amazing and tastes just like Chipotle’s rice.

Wedneday: Slow Cooker Tikka Masala and roasted broccoli

This recipe calls for chicken thighs but the texture of thighs is too slimy or something for me. I prefer chicken breast. Also, to keep Whole30 compliant, use full-fat coconut milk in place of the heavy cream (always use canned coconut milk…not in the carton).

Thursday: Salisbury Steak Burgers with Mushroom Gravy and Whipped Cauliflower

For the cauliflower, I just chop it in big chunks. Boil it with some garlic cloves until soft. Drain it well and put it back in the hot pot. Add a splash of coconut milk, a tablespoon of grass fed butter (you can find at regular grocery…ours is not with the regular butter, it’s with the fancy cheeses in the produce/deli area!?) and then whip with a hand blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Easy peasy substitute for mashed potatoes.

So, there ya have it. That’s what’s cooking this week. What are you planning to make?

UPDATE:

The only recipe in this list that was new for us was the Salisbury steak burgers and let me just say that these were a huge hit! Will definitely be making these again. The rest of the recipes I have made before and already knew my family would like them.

Whole30, week 1

The holidays are behind us and we are back on the healthy eating train. To kickstart our detoxing from all those holiday goodies, our family started Whole30 last week. I won’t go into detail about the program because their site lays it all out perfectly. In its most basic form, we’ve cut out all the junk. No processed food. No sugar. No grains. No dairy. No legumes. No alcohol. I know what you’re thinking. We’re nuts. I’m not going to lie and say it’s easy. It’s not. For someone with a sweet tooth like mine, it’s downright tortuous sometimes. But this is not the first time we’ve done the program and I can honestly say that when we are on Whole30, I feel better than I’ve ever felt. And in addition to physically feeling great I also feel a huge sense of accomplishment when we finish the 30 days. Not to mention the better sleep out of the whole family, better behavior out of my kids, and my pants fitting better. So it’s worth it.

So what do we eat? Meats, veggies, fruits, nuts. For me, this takes planning and preparation. I’m not my mom. That woman can open the fridge, pull out a bunch of random stuff and whip up a gourmet meal that would rival Martha Stewart. Not me. I need a plan. So on the weekend, that’s what I do. I sit down in the middle of a pile of cookbooks and stained recipe printouts with my laptop and plan out our meals for the week. I generally plan to make more than I know we’ll need for dinner so that I have leftovers to send for lunches or to throw in the freezer for those crazy nights when the only cooking I can handle involves nuking something in the microwave.

Last week was week one. Even though the hubs was traveling all week, I was determined to start off on the right foot. So instead of winging it like I usually do when it’s just me and the kids, I actually cooked. Here’s what we had…

Monday: Beef Stew in the slow cooker. I loosely followed a recipe from the Paleo Slow Cooking cookbook by Dominique DeVito that my mom got me for Christmas. Here’s the scoop:

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced (I buy the jarred kind and just scoop out a couple spoonfuls)

3-4 lbs. chuck or bottom round beef (I bought a big chuck roast and cut it into bite-sized pieces)

4 carrots, peeled and cut into big chunks

4 parsnips, peeled and cut into big chunks

2 large red-skinned potatoes, cut into large chunks

4 cups beef stock

salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until translucent. Then dump all the ingredients into the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. I usually assemble slow cooker meals the night before so I just have to grab the crock out of the fridge and turn it on before I head out. Dinner ready when I get home = heaven. Kids loved this one.

Tuesday: Roasted Pork Loin with Garlic Dijon and Herbs and Roasted Cauliflower.

The pork recipe is from the bonus pack for the new Skinnytaste cookbook. If you’ve never checked out Gina’s blog before….do yourself a favor. She’s amazing. I love her blog and this cookbook. For quite a while I cooked exclusively from her recipes.  Here’s the recipe:

2 lbs. boneless pork tenderloin

1 Tbsp. lemon juice (always use fresh!)

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp. olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh herbs (I used fresh thyme and rosemary and some dried oregano)

1 tsp. kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

Combine everything except the pork in a bowl and then massage the mixture onto the pork. Roast at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes per pound. Mine took about an hour for a little over 2 lbs of pork. Let it rest for a few minutes and then slice it up and spoon the sauce over it. It’s the bomb.com. This was a whole family winner.

For the cauliflower, I just cut a head of cauliflower into big chunks, sprayed it with a little olive oil using a misto sprayer, some salt and pepper and roast on a baking sheet at 425 for maybe 15 minutes? I didn’t time it. One of our favorite ways to eat cauliflower.

Wednesday:  Grilled chicken marinara with squoodles (squash noodles).  For the chicken, I bought thin cut boneless/skinless chicken breasts and brushed them with a little olive oil, some minced garlic, some leftover chopped fresh rosemary and sprinkled with salt and pepper.  Then I grilled them with the Panini plates on my new Cuisinart Griddler (thanks Fran!). Since they were thin cut and it cooks from both sides, it literally took no time at all….maybe 5 minutes. I served it with squash noodles made with yellow squash using my spiralizer. (That thing is awesome!) You could also use zucchini. After I cut them, I just tossed them with a little olive oil and some salt and pepper and sautéed them in a pan till they were hot. I prefer them a little firmer so I don’t cook them long. If you like them softer, cook longer. I also drain them before adding sauce because a lot of water comes out during cooking and ain’t nobody got time for watery marinara. Top the chicken and noodles with your favorite marinara. Make sure you read the labels if you use store-bought and that it doesn’t have any sugar or weird stuff.  The brand I used was called Simply Enjoy and I got it at Giant.

ThursdaySlow Cooked Rump Roast.  This is from the PaleOMG blog. Another of my favorite recipes and blogs. This time, I didn’t use mushrooms because the hubs is traveling and he’s the only one that actually eats the mushrooms. Served with a salad and roasted broccoli (prepared the same way as the roasted cauliflower I did on Monday).

Friday: I took the kids and some friends to dinner at Johnny Rockets and to see the new Night at the Museum movie. While the kids got whatever they wanted, I remained Whole30 compliant with a salad with grilled chicken and balsamic. I really wanted a big fat cheeseburger and a chocolate malt but the salad was actually quite tasty and I felt surprisingly satisfied.

So – that’s a crazy long post for one week of dinners. From now on I will try to do one or two per post. Enjoy!!

What’s cooking?!?

As with most people, our family tends to fall off the healthy eating wagon during the holidays. It’s almost impossible not to. Everywhere you turn there are holiday treats just begging to be enjoyed. And I don’t know about you but I can’t say no to a Christmas cookie. ANY Christmas cookie. And something about the cold wintery weather makes daily mugs of hot chocolate with fluffy whipped cream (and a drizzle of caramel!) almost mandatory. But that also makes my pants fit a little tighter come January. So, in total cliché form, we are back on the healthy eating train.

A lot of friends have asked me to send them some recipes of things we like and what we’re cooking up in our house. Now, I’m not a chef. I’m not creating recipes. I may tweak things here and there based on what ingredients we have or what I know my family will eat but please don’t think I’m like a real “food blogger” coming up with recipes. This is just a place for me send out info to friends who’ve asked.