Monday, April 9, 2018

Let's Chat...

Hi, everyone! I have missed our interactions over the last few months, but truthfully, I've not had the time to do any quality writing or live videos. To say that life is full is an understatement. BUT, I've been convicted of the fact that it doesn't have to be that way, nor should it be.

We've all at one time or another bought into the lie that we should have a full or overflowing schedule. "How are you?", we might be asked. "So busy!", is often my response! We proclaim it as if it were the crucible we are forced to wear or some badge of honor that all moms are expected to wear. We are too tired to cook dinner; too frustrated to read a bedtime story; to exhausted to give our husbands any attention in the evening once babies are in bed; and we are certainly too spent for any meaningful time with God.

Ladies, we've got to stop the madness. Our kids will live if we tell them no football for one season. They won't fail in life if they don't learn how to do a cartwheel. But, they will struggle emotionally if we are always frazzled and frenzied from an overflowing planner. Our house won't crumble to the ground if we leave the dishes alone for some time in the Bible. And our kids will never understand what a real, living relationship with Christ is like if we aren't showing them ourselves. Nothing will benefit your child more than seeing mom (and hopefully dad) in a thriving, authentic, head-over-heels relationship with Jesus.

Don't be guilted into saying "yes" to every opportunity that presents itself. You've got to first give God, your husband, and your kids your BEST. A good rule to follow is of course to always pray about the situation first, then ask a couple of questions (in no particular order):

1. Will this fit into our schedule? (Do I already have something else in this time slot?)
2. Will this be detrimental to our spiritual life as a family? (Does it squeeze out church or church activities? Will it make us too tired to have our family devotion time?)
3. Is this something that can wait another year or two? Sports, dance, music lessons- we are all too eager to put our three-year-olds in tumbling class, but too busy to take them to Sunday School! (And this is a tumbling teacher writing!)

Two books that I recommend on this subject of family scheduling are "Your Best Yes" by Lysa TerKeurst, and "Instructing a Child's Heart" by Ted and Margy Tripp.

But the best advice that you can receive comes of course from God's Word, the Bible. Here are a few scriptures that help me in my decision making:

1 Corinthians 10:23 (KJV) says,
All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

I love the KJV of this verse. The word "edifying" is very poignant: if this activity doesn't edify you or your loved ones, then most likely it needs to be a "no."

And then one of my life-verses from 2 Timothy 2:22:
"So flee youthful passions (or useless activities), and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace along with those who call on the LORD from a pure heart."

We are instructed here to run away from ("flee") our fleshly passions. This isn't just referencing our sexual desires as this verse is often only used for. This is any desire or choice that is not edifying.

If your initial reaction to a new opportunity or activity is "I just don't know how I will make time for this," then you should probably say no. Run away from anything that will not benefit your family's spiritual/relational or mental health.

And just so know you, this is all just a sermon that I'm writing to myself. ;) 

This would also be a really good segue into the story of how we have decided to for-sure homeschool our kids once this school year ends. But... I'll save that for another day. :)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

New Fall Meal Plan with Shopping List!

Crockpot Salsbury Steak and Mashed Potatoes
from dinnerthendessert

1 pound ground beef (85/15)
1/3 cup breadcrumbs (panko or regular)
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon beef Better than Bouillon base (or 2 beef bouillon cubes, or skip)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon crushed black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, sliced
8 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced (baby bella or white are fine too)
2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
parsley, for garnish (optional)

6 russet potatoes, scrubbed clean (I'm only doing 4 because we don't eat a ton of mashed potatoes at our house.)
4 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup whole milk or heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


Mix the ground beef with breadcrumbs, ketchup, mustard, beef base (if using), 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt and half the black pepper.
Form them into four patties and add the patties to a heavy skillet or the stovetop safe slow cooker insert.
Cook the patties on medium-high heat until browned on both sides, 4-5 minutes per side.
Place the patties into 1/2 of the slow cooker.
Add the butter to the pan and add the rest of the salt and pepper to the onions and mushrooms.
Cook for 4-5 minutes, stir, then cook an additional 4-5 minutes.
Add to the slow cooker on top of the cooked beef patties.
Add a piece of 12″x12″ inches of foil into half of the slow cooker.
Place the clean and scrubbed potatoes into the slow cooker and press down tightly with another sheet of foil.
Cook on low for 4 hours.
Uncover the foil and remove the potatoes. Peel if you’d like by rubbing off the skin with a paper towel or leave the skin on.
In a bowl smash the potatoes with a potato masher.
Add in the butter, sour cream, milk, salt and pepper and mash until desired consistency (I mashed the pictured potatoes for 1 minute).
Add the potatoes back to the slow cooker in the foil still lining the bottom.
In a cup mix the beef broth, 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce and one tablespoon of cornstarch and add it to the beef patties.
Cook on high for 20 minutes.
Garnish with chopped parsley, optional.

Mother-in-Law's Clam Chowder

I think I have shared this one before, but it's a fall favorite around here. I always, always serve it with warm bread. ;)

2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
28 oz. chicken broth
approx. 4 cups diced potatoes ( or 1 package refrigerated diced potatoes and onions)
2 cups milk
1 cup half and half
4 slices bacon crisp-cooked and crumbled (optional)
2 small cans each tiny shrimp, clams, crab meat, all drained and rinsed
1 cup carrots, chopped (optional)
salt & pepper to taste
Start by sautéing the chopped celery in 2 Tbsp of melted butter in a large soup pot. 
Cook the celery for about 5 minutes, then sprinkle on the 2 Tbsp flour and stir. 
Once combined, continue stirring and pour in the 28 oz. of chicken broth (I prefer low-sodium). Turn up the heat, and bring to a boil. 
Toss in the diced potatoes and carrots and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until veggies are soft to your liking (I soften ours quite a bit for my kiddos).
Slightly mash the potatoes with a wooden spoon (or the amazing Pampered Chef Mix n Chop) to thicken the chowder.
Stir in the milk, half & half, bacon (if using), and the rinsed and drained cans of seafood. 
Season with salt and pepper to your taste.
Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches or warm crusty bread, and enjoy! You'll have enough leftovers for another cold fall night!
Note: This is a great recipe to double and freeze for later. ;)

Rachael Ray's Pumpkin Pasta

2 tbsp oil of choice
1/4 lb shiitake mushroom caps
2 lbs portobello mushroom caps
3 garlic cloves
1 medium yellow onion
salt and pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine 
1 cup chicken broth
1 14 oz can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup heavy cream
2-3 tbsp fresh sage leaves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
tiny pinch ground cinnamon
1 lb penne pasta (i prefer whole wheat)
grated parmesan cheese
1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach or a few cups fresh baby spinach chopped
1 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts (toast on a plate in microwave for about 3 minutes)

Boil a large pot of water for the penne. Start on the rest of the recipe while the pasta cooks. Drain and set aside when cooked al dente.

Heat oil medium-high in a skillet and add mushrooms, garlic, and onion. Season with salt and pepper once the mushrooms are browned. Add in the spinach, stirring for about two minutes to wilt the fresh spinach. Deglaze the pan with the wine scraping the bottom, then add the broth. Stir in the pumpkin until well combined. Then ad the cream, sage, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Adjust the salt and pepper to your taste. 
Add drained pasta to the skillet. Stir to combine. Top with cheese, chives, and hazelnuts.

Chipotle Chili Mac
from Rachael Ray's 365 No Repeats

3 tbsp oil of choice
1-2 lb ground chicken
2 tbsp grill seasoning
1/2 lb baby bella mushrooms chopped
1/4 lb shiitake mushroom caps chopped
1 medium yellow onion diced
2-3 celery ribs diced (optional)
1 red bell pepper chopped ans seeded
4-6 garlic cloves
2 tbsp worcesterchire
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce from a can (found in hispanic section), seeded and chopped
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 bottle imported beer
1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
1 lb cavatappi pasta (my favorite noodle of all time!)
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 oz smoked gouda cheese, shredded
cilantro finely chopped (optional)

Boil a large pot of water for the cavatappi. Start on recipe while pasta cooks. Cook and drain. Reserve.

Heat a large pot on high heat with only 2 tbsp oil. Add the ground chicken and season with the grill seasoning. Cook and break it up for 3-5 minutes until done. Remove from pot and set aside.

Heat remaining 1 tbsp oil med-high heat. Add in the mushrooms, browning for about 3 minutes, then add the rest of the veggies and garlic

Return the meat to the pan with the veggies and season all with the worcestershire, chipotle peppers and cumin. Add the beer to deglaze the pot, scraping the bottom of the pot. Simmer for 2 minutes, then add the crushed tomatoes and broth. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the pasta to the pot and stir to combine everything. Top each individual bowl with shredded cheddar and gouda and cilantro, or pour entire pot into a casserole dish and sprinkle with the cheeses and cilantro. Brown under a broiler for a few minutes.


large Italian or French loaf to pair with clam chowder

1 lb penne pasta
1 lb cavatappi pasta

beef broth
48 oz chicken broth (6 cups)
2 small cans each tiny shrimp, clams, crab meat,
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bottle imported beer
1 can pumpkin puree
1 can chipotles in adobo sauce
1 can crushed tomatoes

plain bread crumbs
Better Than Bouillon Beef Base
salt and pepper
cooking oil of choice
1 cup chopped hazelnuts
grill seasoning

yellow onion (3)
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1-2 lbs portobello mushroom caps
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms
4-6 baking potatoes for mashed potatoes, plus 2-3 more for clam chowder
fresh sage leaves
3 cups baby spinach (if not using frozen)
1 red bell pepper
cilantro (if desired)

10 oz chopped spinach (or fresh baby spinach)

1 lb 85/15 ground beef (organic preferred)
1-2 lbs ground chicken

sour cream
3 cups whole milk (2 for clam chowder and 1 for mashed potatoes)
1 cup half and half, plus 1/2 cup for pumpkin pasta
2 cups grated parmesan cheese
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar
8 oz smoked gouda (in specialty cheese section)

Monday, September 18, 2017

Meal Plan with Shopping List {Week of September 18, 2017}

Tomato Soup
adapted from gracelaced

This can be made in the Crockpot. Add all ingredients except heavy cream and pesto. Low 4-6 hours. Just add the heavy cream right before serving, and warm for 5-10 more minutes. This also makes a great freezer meal.

1 28 oz. can organic crushed tomatoes
2 cloves fresh garlic minced
olive oil
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
jar pesto for serving (optional)
ingredients for grilled cheeses (if desired)

Heat a couple a tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan and saute garlic lightly over medium heat. Add canned tomato and broth with all spices in saucepan. 
Bring to a simmer on med-high heat.
Lower heat to low- med and add cream, stirring until fully incorporated. 
Bring to a light simmer again, stirring constantly. 
Serve warm with a dollop of pesto on top. 
Grilled cheese sandwiches are a perfect pairing with this comfort food.

One Pot Greek Chicken with steamed snap peas
from A Healthy Slice of Life

1 lb boneless skinless chicken tenders
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, finely diced (roughly 1 c)
1 cup long grain white rice
2¼ c chicken broth
1 tsp salt
2 lemons, zested and juiced
2 Tbsp dried oregano
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
½ cup kalamata olives, sliced
parsley (for garnish)
fresh snap peas

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Chop all ingredients.
In a large pot (I suggest a dutch oven), heat the 1 Tbsp of olive oil over medium high. Add the onion and garlic and saute 2-3 minutes until onions start to become translucent.
Into the same pot, add rice, broth, salt, lemon juice, lemon zest, oregano, feta, sun-dried tomatoes, and kalamata olives. Stir and bring to a boil.
Once it reaches a boil, turn off the heat and add chicken to pot. Cover and place in oven.
Bake for 30 minutes until chicken is cooked through and rice is fluffy.
Plate and garnish with finely chopped parsley and any remaining lemon zest.

While the main dish is in the oven, do a quick-steam in the microwave of your snap peas. Salt lightly and serve alongside the chicken and rice. Yummy!

Simple Fish Tacos with chipotle lime cilantro dressing
from me

cooking oil of choice
1 Tbsp. homemade taco seasoning
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1- 1 1/2 lbs. tilapia
tortilla of choice (I prefer soft yellow corn.)
toppings: avocado, broccoli slaw, chopped baby spinach, diced tomato, salsa, onion, shredded cheese, sour cream or Greek yogurt
Place 1 tablespoon taco seasoning, 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal and the fish in a gallon size zippered bag, or bowl with a tight-fitting lid, and shake to coat. Reserve excess cornmeal-seasoning.
Heat oil on medium-high heat.
Place the fish in the pan with the hot oil, and lightly sprinkle the reserved cornmeal and seasoning on top of the fish, then flip it over immediately; sprinkle the other side of the fish lightly.
Cook about 5 minutes on each side (cook time depends on the size of the fillet).
Start to break up the fish as it softens with cooking, and stir to distribute the cornmeal and seasonings a bit more.
Continue to cook until nice and golden, about 5-10 more minutes.
Serve on tortilla of choice with fresh toppings and 
Cilantro-Lime Dressing:

1 chipotle pepper in adobo
1/2 tsp adobo sauce
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 mayonnaise
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
juice of 1 lime
Remove seeds from one chipotle pepper and dice. Add diced pepper and a healthy handful of cilantro and ½ tsp of adobo sauce into a small food processor (or blender), mixing until finely chopped. Add yogurt, mayo, vinegar, small pinch of salt, and juice of 1 lime. If you like it a little spicier add another ½ tsp of adobo sauce.

My Mom's Spinach Lasagna
from my mommy, Edwina

10 oz frozen chopped spinach
16 oz ricotta cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
8 oz shredded or fresh mozzarella cheese (1/4 cup reserved)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
1 egg
1 jar marinara sauce of choice
8 oz regular or whole wheat lasagna noodles (oven ready are fine, just don't pre-boil them.)
garlic loaf of choice

Preheat oven to 350F.
Cook noodles according to directions (unless using oven-ready).
Thaw spinach in microwave and drain.
In a mixing bowl combine the cheeses (ONLY 1/4 cup of mozzarella), spinach, egg, salt and pepper and garlic powder.
Spray a 9x13" casserole. 
Spread a layer of marinara in bottom of casserole.
Next spread a layer of the cheese/spinach mixture.
Sprinkle with mozzarella.
Layer about 4 noodles over the mozzarella.
Repeat layers until all is used. Try to end with a layer of mozzarella on top.
Bake for 45  minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Hot garlic bread is amazing with this!


bread for grilled cheeses (if making)
garlic bread (for lasagna)

8 oz lasagna noodles of choice
taco shells of choice (I prefer soft corn for fish tacos.)
white rice

garlic powder
cooking oil of choice
white wine vinegar
corn meal
taco seasoning (homemade or packet)
dried basil

1 jar marinara of choice
jar chipotle peppers in adobo (in Mexican food section)
sundried tomatoes
kalamata olives
1 qt chicken broth
28 oz can crushed tomatoes (organic preferred)
pesto (if desired)

bunch cilantro
1 lime
snap peas
2 lemons
1 small onion

1 lb tilapia filets (or mild fish of choice)
1 lb boneless skinless chicken tenders

10 oz frozen chopped spinach

shredded parmesan cheese
shredded or fresh mozzarella
16 oz ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup plain yogurt
feta cheese
heavy cream
butter (if making grilled cheeses)
sliced cheese of choice (if making grilled cheeses)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Meal Plan with Shopping List {Week of September 11, 2017}

Menu Plan Monday Guidelines

Mexican Pizzas
4 large soft flour tortillas
1 cup salsa
1/2- 1 lb Ground beef
Shredded cheddar or Monterrey jack cheese
1 can refried beans
Taco seasonings (packet or homemade)
Green onions, diced

Heat oven to 350°. Cook and crumble the ground beef, add the seasoning when almost done browning. Lay out two of the tortillas and spread each with about half of the can of refried beans. Top with the ground beef and sprinkle some cheese over the ground beef (your preference). Top each one with another tortilla. Spread desired amount of salsa over the top of the tortilla and sprinkle with more cheese. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and slightly browned. You may have to broil lightly for a couple of minutes to brown the cheese. Top with chopped green onions and/or diced jalapeños if you like some extra heat!

Broccoli Cheese Soup
from Peas and Crayons

Watch the video of me making this recipe here.

one bunch of fresh broccoli (about 2 cups when florets are cut off)
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 cup of sharp cheddar cheese, plus extra for topping
1 heaping cup of regular gouda cheese, freshly grated
1 cup of shredded or diced carrots
1 small white onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup half and half or heavy cream, room temperature
3 TBSP all purpose flour
3 TBSP butter
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp salt will vary based on salt content of your stock/broth
a few cranks of freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cut all the florets off the broccoli stems. You can save some of the stems and chop them up if you want a little texture in your soup. Dice the onions super small, mince the garlic, and shred/dice the carrots if you didn't buy pre-shredded. This can all be done ahead of time and stored in the fridge for later.
Add your veggie/chicken broth to a pot on medium-high heat, add broccoli, onion, garlic, carrots, and bay leaf. Simmer on medium, covered, for about 15-20 minutes or until the veggies are tender.
Once the broth is done, start your roux: In a large pot, melt 3 tablespoons of butter on medium heat, whisking constantly. Once melted, slowly add 3 tablespoons of flour as you continue to whisk.
For a thicker soup, use an extra tablespoon of each. Remove from heat and slowly pour in the broth from your veggie mixture [its okay if some of the veggies jump in along side it!] and stir to incorporate.
Next pour in the veggies and slowly stir in 1 cup of room temperature half and half.
Return to the burner on very low heat, uncovered.
Spoon out the bay leaf and season with the above herbs and spices, adding a little extra of whichever you like to taste. I personally adore the pinch of nutmeg in this soup but feel free to leave it out if it's just not your cup of tea! The soup is great both ways! Depending on the saltiness of your broth, you might skip the salt entirely or prefer to add a bit more. Taste and tweak as needed after adding your cheese.
Oh yes: the cheese! Once the soup has warmed back up, stir in the grated cheeses [slowly and in small batches] and remove from heat immediately. I won't tell if you sneak extra cheese in your soup.

Garnish with a little extra grated cheddar and a sprinkle of parsley and even a pinch of spicy red pepper flakes if you'd like! Anything goes!

Chicken Pot Pie
from me (April of Fruitful Family)

This recipe is for one 9x13 casserole. I doubled it and froze one before baking.

For the biscuit topping
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
For the filling
  • 1 lb. cooked and shredded chicken breasts
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 2 cans unsalted mixed vegetables (or small bag frozen), (or fresh chopped and blanched veggies)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • Homemade condensed cream of chicken "soup" (recipe below) or two small cans of cream of chicken soup
Condensed Cream of Chicken "Soup"
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp. celery seed (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp. dried thyme
Poach the chicken by bring it to a boil, then simmering for 15-20 minutes.
While the chicken is simmering, get your creamy "soup" going:

Add chicken stock to a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
In a separate bowl, whisk together milk and flour until the flour is dissolved.
Slowly pour the milk mixture into the boiling chicken stock, whisking to combine. Whisk in remaining seasonings. Reduce heat to medium, and bring the mixture back to a very low boil, stirring constantly so that the bottom of the pan does not burn. Let the mixture boil for about 3 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. Set aside until ready to use.
Once the chicken is cooked through, let cool slightly, then shred to desired texture. (I use my paddle attachment in my stand mixer to shred the chicken- it's amazing!

If you plan to cook the pie immediately, go ahead and pre-heat your oven to 350°F.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the shredded chicken, homemade soup, diced onion, and veggies. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour mixture into a 9x13" casserole.
Sprinkle the shredded cheddar cheese on top of the chicken mixture. Rinse out the mixing bowl to use for biscuit dough.

Make the biscuit topping:
In the mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in the melted butter and milk just until combined.
Pour the biscuit dough evenly along the center of the chicken mixture and shredded cheese. Use a spatula to spread the dough evenly over the entire pie.

To freeze for later, wrap thoroughly in foil, and freeze.
Thaw in refrigerator the night BEFORE you plan to bake the pot pie.
Bake at 350°F for 1 hour.

Veggie Beef Soup (Crockpot or Stovetop)
also from me

1 lb bag frozen mixed veggies
1 can condensed tomato soup
2 cans diced tomatoes (no salt added)
1 lb. lean ground beef
2 cups beef broth
salt and pepper
1 package onion soup mix (OR homemade recipe below)

recipe for homemade onion soup mix:
⅔ cup dried, minced onion
3 teaspoons parsley flakes
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon ground pepper
You will not use all of this mix in the recipe, so you'll have extra for the next time you need it.

Brown the ground beef in a skillet. Drain any excess fat. Put all remaining ingredients using only 3-4 tbsp of homemade onion soup mix OR 1 package onion soup mix into the Crock Pot. 
Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-8 hours. If you need to cook it in a hurry, brown the ground beef in a large soup pot, drain any excess fat, then add all other ingredients to the pot. Bring it to a boil, then simmer on low for 30 minutes. Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches for comfort food at its best!


baguette to dip in the broccoli cheese soup
bread for grilled cheese sandwiches (if desired with veggie soup)

large soft flour tortillas (burrito sized)

taco seasoning packet or homemade blend of chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and coriander
all-purpose flour
baking powder
onion soup mix if not making homemade
needs for homemade soup mix:
⅔ cup dried, minced onion
3 teaspoons parsley flakes
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon ground pepper
For homemade cream of chicken:
garlic powder
celery seed

small can refried beans
vegetable or chicken broth 
beef broth
2 small cans unsalted mixed veggies if not using fresh or frozen
12 0z more of chicken broth if making homemade cream of chicken soup
2 cans cream of chicken soup if NOT making homemade
1 can tomato soup
2 cans diced tomatoes (no salt added is best)

2 lbs ground beef (for 2 recipes)
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts ( or 2 lbs if doubling recipe)

green onions
carrots (1 cup)
1 bunch or bag of broccoli
1 large white onion, halved for 2 recipes
any veggies desired for pot pie if not using canned or frozen

sliced cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches (if making)
shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 oz gouda cheese (usually found in specialty cheese aisle)
half and half or heavy cream (1 cup)

1 bag(approx 16 oz)  mixed veggies for veggie beef soup

Monday, August 28, 2017

Meal Plan with Shopping List

I've included a couple of recipes that will work well for your Labor Day camping adventures.

Grilled Chicken Tenders with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes
from me

1 lb boneless skinless chicken tenders
1/2 cup Italian dressing (to marinade chicken)
1 package fresh Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed off, then halved or quartered if large
3-4 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
cooking oil of choice
salt and pepper
dried oregano

Marinate chicken tenders in the dressing for at least 30 minutes before grilling. Don't panic if you forget! Just baste the chicken with the dressing as you grill it. 

Heat oven to 425 degrees.
Start with the veggies. (They will cook longer than the fish.) While the oven is heating, peel and dice the sweet potatoes, and halve or quarter the brussels. Place on a sheet pan side-by-side. You can definitely mix them together, but I have one kid who likes the sweet potatoes and one kid who likes the brussels. It just makes it easier to serve them! ;) Drizzle the veggies with about 2 tbsp oil, then season well with salt and pepper. I like to add a little oregano to my sweet potatoes. Roast for about 17 minutes, then turn with a spatula. Roast again for about 10-15 minutes or until the veggies start to carmelize a little.

Heat a grill or grill pan (or skillet) while the veggies are roasting med-high heat. Grill tenders for about 5 minutes on each side.

Salmon Bites with Roasted Asparagus and Red Potatoes
from Primally Inspired
12 ounces canned salmon, drained (can also use fresh salmon, oven roasted for about 20 minutes at 400 F, then cooled and flaked with a fork)
1 shallot or ¼ cup red onion, finely diced
1 egg
½ lemon, zested and juiced
1 tablespoon green onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh dill or basil, chopped
sea salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fat of choice for greasing (olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, etc.)

1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed on ends
6 medium red potatoes, quarted
cooking oil of choice
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

On a baking sheet, toss trimmed asparagus and quarted potatoes in about 1 tbsp oil with salt and pepper. Roast for about 12 minutes. Start on the salmon bites while they roast:

Salmon bites: Mix all of the ingredients, except your fat of choice (oil) together in a bowl until well incorporated.
Form into 1-2 inch balls (makes about 20).
Add your fat of choice to a baking pan and then place your salmon bites on the pan. Lightly roll the salmon bites in the oil so they get coated.

Remove veggies and flip with a spatula. Return to the oven along with the salmon bites.
Bake for 20 minutes and enjoy!

We love to eat these with an easy homemade dipping sauce!
Add 1 tablespoon of fresh or dried herbs (I usually use dill and/or basil) to ⅓ cup mayo. You can also use sour cream or Greek yogurt in place of the mayo.

Campfire Red Chili with Cornbread Pancakes
from me

1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can pinto or great northern beans
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
2-3 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
1 lb ground beef of choice

chili toppings: (optional)
hot sauce (if you like a little spice)
shredded cheese
sour cream
diced jalapenos
diced scallions
diced black olives
any other favorite chili toppings

corn muffin mix (I prefer Bob's Red Mill brand)
extra corn muffin mix ingredients such as egg, oil, or butter (check the package)

Brown the ground beef; dump all canned items and seasonings along with cooled ground beef into a gallon freezer bag or large sealable bowl to transport to your campsite.

Heat chili to a rolling simmer in your dutch oven or camping soup pot. Keep it covered and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the chili is simmering, work on your pancakes:

Mix corn muffin mix according to the package directions. Depending on how many people you are feeding you may need to half the recipe. Heat a cast iron skillet over your fire or camp stove. When the skllet is hot, drop in a couple of tablespoons of butter. When it melts, add in a couple of tablespoonfulls of batter, sapced a couple of inches apart, just like you would for breakfast pancakes. Flip when you see bubbles. Add butter to the skillet as needed.

Serve the chili hot with all the toppings, then lay a cornbread pancake right on top of the bowl. Sooo delish!

Campfire Dutch Oven (or oven)  Blueberry French Toast Casserole
adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

1 (12-14 ounce) loaf french bread, sourdough bread, or challah
1 cup (180g) fresh or frozen blueberries
8 large eggs
2 and 1/4 cups (540ml) whole milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (150g) packed light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon (15ml) vanilla extract
Streusel Topping
1/3 cup (69g) packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup (42g) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 Tablespoons (86g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
Optional: extra blueberries, fresh fruit, maple syrup, and/or confectioners' sugar for topping

nitrate-free uncured bacon

Line a dutch oven with foil and grease, or grease a 9x13 inch pan with butter or spray with nonstick spray. Slice then cut the bread into cubes, about 1 inch in size. Spread cubes into the prepared baking pan or dutch oven and top evenly with blueberries. Set aside.
Whisk the eggs, milk, cinnamon, brown sugar, and vanilla together until no brown sugar lumps remain. Pour over the bread. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and stick in the refrigerator for 3 hours - overnight. Overnight is best.

Heat the fire to a good hot temperature (fire baking is a guessing game, so you just have to watch it and see when all the bread has puffed up and the eggs are no longer soft); or if you like using the hot coals on top and bottom of your dutch oven you will probably need about 14 coals on top and about 7 underneath (if it's a 10" like ours). Use this chart to determine the number of coals needed for your size dutch oven. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Remove pan from the refrigerator (or cooler).

Prepare the topping: Whisk the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl. Cut in the cubed butter with a pastry blender or two forks. Sprinkle the topping over the soaked bread.
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until golden brown on top. I usually bake it for 45 minutes because I like it softer. Fry the bacon while you wait for the casserole to finish. Serve immediately. Cover leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Make ahead tip: Prepare the topping in advance, cover tightly, and store in the refrigerator. Sprinkle over the soaked bread before baking. For freezing, prepare the recipe through step 4 (without preheating the oven) and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then bake as directed. Baked casserole can be frozen up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm up in a 350°F (177°C) for 35 minutes or until warm in the center.

You can also bake this the day before your camping trip and just reheat it the morning (or night) that you;re ready to enjoy it. I also recommend simmering on low some maple syrup with blueberries in it for a homemade blueberry syrup!


1 large French, sourdough, or challah loaf

pure maple syrup

Italian dressing
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can pinto or great northern beans
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
hot sauce (if desired for chili)

dried oregano
chili powder
garlic powder
ground cumin
ground coriander
corn muffin mix
cooking oil of choice
salt and pepper
light brown sugar
all-purpose flour
pure vanilla extract

Brussels spouts (such as Eat Smart brand)
3-4 sweet potatoes
1 bunch asparagus
approx 6 medium red potatoes
1 bunch green onions
1 cup fresh (or frozen) blueberries

1 lb boneless skinless chicken tenders
12 oz- 1 lb salmon (either canned, already flaked, or fresh)
1 lb lean ground beef
nitrate-free uncured bacon (such as Oscar Mayer)

whole milk
shredded cheese of choice (for chili)
sour cream if desired for chili


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan and Shopping List

Y'all!!!! Check out this awesome weekly meal planning and grocery list in one!

Thanks to Megan of Wit and Wonder for the freebie! 

Crab Cakes with Honey Roasted Carrots
adapted from Betty Crocker and
2 cans lump crab meat (Chicken of the Sea brand is good from Food City; and Kroger store brand is good too)
1/3 cup mayo
1 egg
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp seafood seasoning such as old bay
1-2 slices soft bread torn into tiny pieces
3 scallions (green onions)
1 cup dry bread crumbs (for the coating)
cooking oil of choice (vegetable oil works well in the recipe because it produces the best "crisp," but canola/EVOO is totally fine too.
1 fresh lemon
Roasted carrots:
3 cups baby carrots (cut along the length in half if they are fat; slimmer is better here)
cooking oil of choice (I prefer canola/EVOO blend)
salt and pepper
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1-2 tsp dried or fresh chopped parsley

Heat oven to 425°F. Put the carrots in a heap in the middle of a sheet pan. Toss to coat with 1-2 tbsp oil and salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes. *(Start your crab cakes now.)
After 20 minutes, uncover and drizzle with the cider vinegar/honey mixture** and toss again. Roast for about 10 more minutes. Sprinkle with parsley after cooking.

*Tear up the bread and dice the scallions. Drain the cans of crabmeat. Mix all the ingredients except the dry bread crumbs in a small mixing bowl. Form 4-5 patties depending on your size preference. Coat both sides with the dry bread crumbs in a small bowl. Heat about 2 tbsp oil on medium-high heat in a skillet. Cook crab cakes for about 6 minutes each side or until it looks nice and golden. Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice on top of each crab cake just before serving. Use the rest of the lemn juice to make homemade tartar sauce.

**Mix the vinegar and honey together in a small measuring cup.

I also like to serve a box of couscous or wild rice with this meal.

Simple Spaghetti with Side Salad

spaghetti noodles of choice (We use the Hodgson Mill whole wheat angel hair)
1 jar spaghetti sauce of choice
1/2 -1 lb ground beef or ground mild Italian sausage
shredded Parmesan cheese
bread of choice
salad ingredients of choice (butter lettuce with carrots, tomatoes, and croutons topped with Greek yogurt ranch is our favorite with spaghetti.)

Make salad ahead of time and put in the middle of the table for easy refills. Start browning meat and breaking it up as it cooks. Start noodles while beef is cooking. Cook noodles according to the package directions. Add jar of sauce to the meat after it cooks and warm. Warm the bread in the oven. Drain noodles, then toss with the meat/sauce mixture. Top individual plates/bowls with parmesan. Serve with warm bread and salads.

Crockpot Loaded Baked Potato Soup

2 lbs baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup finely chopped green onions (plus a little extra for sprinkling on individual bowls)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne)


1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
black pepper (to taste)
Stir until the cheese is melted. Cover and cook on high for another 10 minutes.
This is so good with corn bread!

Honey Mustard Chicken with Bacon and Avocado Salad

Dressing / Marinade:
⅓ cup honey
3 tablespoons whole grain mustard (mustard with the seeds in it)
2 tablespoons smooth and mild Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic (use your kitchen shears to mince it up)
Salt to season
4 skinless and boneless chicken thighs or chicken breasts or tenders
For Salad:
¼ cup diced bacon, trimmed of rind and fat (Fry, then cut it up with your kitchen shears)
4 cups Romaine lettuce leaves, washed
1 cup sliced grape or cherry tomatoes (use your kitchen shears to cut in half)
1 large avocado, pitted and sliced
1/2 can corn kernels, drained and patted dry (optional)
¼ of a red onion, sliced (optional)

Whisk marinade / dressing ingredients together to combine. Pour half the marinade into a shallow dish to marinade the chicken fillets for two hours if time allows. Refrigerate the reserved untouched marinade to use as a dressing.
Heat a nonstick pan (or grill pan or skillet) over medium heat with about a teaspoon of oil and sear / grill chicken fillets on each side until golden, crispy and cooked through. (Grill in batches to prevent excess water being released.) Once chicken is cooked, set aside and allow to rest.
*Wipe pan over with paper towel; drizzle with another teaspoon of oil and fry the bacon until crispy.
Slice chicken into strips and prepare salad with leaves, tomatoes, avocado slices, corn, onion strips and chicken.
Whisk 2 tablespoons of water into the remaining untouched marinade / dressing and drizzle over the salad. Sprinkle the bacon over the top and season with a little extra salt and cracked pepper (optional).
*Bacon can be fried and chopped ahead of time.


2 slices soft bread
any bread you want with spaghetti

2 cans lump crab
1 jar marinara of choice
2 cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
whole grain mustard
dijon mustard

pasta of choice for spaghetti
plain bread crumbs

apple cider vinegar
Old Bay (or other seafood seasoning)
dry parsley (or fresh)
garlic powder
ground red pepper
salt and pepper
oil of choice
corn bread mix (if you want it with the potato soup)

scallions (2 bunches)
3 cups baby carrots
butter lettuce
more carrots (for salad)
grape tomatoes (divided for the two salads)
2 lbs baking potatoes
romaIne lettuce
red onion (optional)

1 lb ground Italian sausage OR ground beef
1lb package boneless sinless chicken tenders
3-4 slices bacon (uncured)

corn (optional for chicken salad)

1 egg
shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
shredded sharp cheddar cheese
sour cream

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Back to School Freezer Filling Week!

Image result for back to school
Hi, hi! Happy back-to-school week!
This week is my week to really get it in gear in the kitchen. I'm going back to work, so I've got to have some things in my freezer for work days. My plan is to double or triple a few of these for freezing.

Spinach Quiche

Recipe for two- pie crust (below), or pre-made crust in refrigerated section

Homemade Crust Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose or whole wheat flour
2 sticks (1 cup) butter cut into squares
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup cold water

Directions Homemade Crust:
Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a stand mixer (or in a mixing bowl with a hand mixer or spoon)

Put the butter into the bowl and begin mixing on low-med speed

It will start to combine and look crumbly or cornmeal-ish

Add the water, a little bit at a time.

Increase the speed slightly and scrape the sides of the bowl as it combines.
A dough ball will begin to form and stick to the mixer attachment.
Turn off the mixer.
Lightly flour your two pie plates
Push the dough out of the mixer attachment. Form a ball again.

Divide the dough by eyeballing into your two floured pie plates, sprinkling a little flour on top of each one.

Press dough into pan evenly or roll it out with rolling pin and press into plates.

Refrigerate until you're ready to use it. (Cover it if it will be more than a couple of hours.)

No need to pre-bake this crust. Just pull it out of the fridge, fill it as you desire, and bake!

Filling:8 eggs
1 cup milk
2-3 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
2-3 cups shredded mozzarella (or cheese of choice)
Salt and pepper

Whisk the eggs and milk with salt and pepper. Stir in the spinach. Pour egg-spinach mixture into the pie plates. Top with the shredded cheese. Bake at 350 F for about 45 minutes. Let the top get nice and golden-brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting.

Quiche is one of those meals that can really be personalized. Feel free to add cooked crumbled bacon, shredded ham, sundried tomato and pesto, broccoli and cheddar- really whatever sounds good to you!

Turkey Burritos Verde (with freezer option)
adapted from Rachael Ray

6 flour tortillas *You should have this already from last week's meals.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or oil of choice
1- 1 1/3 lb. ground turkey breast
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped or garlic powder to taste
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (16 ounce) jar tomatillo (green) salsa
1 tsp. dried cilantro or 2 TBsp. fresh, chopped
1-2 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
2 cups shredded Monterrey jack cheese or Mexican cheese blend *You will probably have this from last week's meals.
Preheat a large nonstick skillet with the vegetable oil.
Add in the ground turkey and break it up with the back of a spoon as it cooks and browns, about 4 minutes.

Add in the onions, garlic, bell pepper, salt, and pepper; cook for 3 minutes.

Add in the chicken stock, pinto beans, and 1 ½ cup tomatillo salsa (NOT THE WHOLE JAR!); increase the heat to high; continue cooking 5-6 minutes or until the mixture is thickened.

Remove pan from heat and add in the spinach & cilantro; stir to mix. *Continue to the asterisk if not freezing.

Freeze burrito filling if desired.

Thaw for 24 hours in refrigerator.
Heat filling in microwave after thawing.
*Set broiler to LOW.
Warm the tortillas in the microwave.
Fill each tortilla with about 1/4 cup shredded cheese and desired amount of hot filling.
Place the filled burritos in a broiler-safe dish, seamside down.
Top all the burritos with remaining salsa verde & shredded cheese.
Place under broiler (about 6 inches away) for approximately 5 minutes, watching closely.

Cherry Pork Roast (Crockpot Freezer Meal)
from Kelly McNelis from @Whole30recipes
2 lb boneless pork roast, fat trimmed
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 yellow onion chopped
12 oz bag frozen pitted dark, sweet cherries
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried thyme
 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients in crock and cook on low 6-8 hours,
OR add to a gallon sized freezer bag and freeze up to three months.

Crab Cakes with Honey Roasted Carrots 
adapted from Betty Crocker and
2 cans lump crab meat (Chicken of the Sea brand is good from Food City; and Kroger store brand is good too)
1/3 cup mayo
1 egg
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp seafood seasoning such as old bay
1-2 slices soft bread torn into tiny pieces
3 scallions (green onions)
1 cup dry bread crumbs (for the coating)
cooking oil of choice (vegetable oil wors well in the recipe because it produces the best "crisp," but canola/EVOO is totally fine too.
1 fresh lemon
Roasted carrots:
3 cups baby carrots (cut along the length in half if they are fat; slimmer is better here)
cooking oil of choice (I prefer canola/EVOO blend)
salt and pepper
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1-2 tsp dried or fresh chopped parsley

Heat oven to 425°F. Put the carrots in a heap in the middle of a sheet pan. Toss to coat with 1-2 tbsp oil and salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes. *(Start your crab cakes now.)
After 20 minutes, uncover and drizzle with the cider vinegar/honey mixture** and toss again. Roast for about 10 more minutes. Sprinkle with parsley after cooking.

*Tear up the bread and dice the scallions. Drain the cans of crabmeat. Mix all the ingredients except the dry bread crumbs in a small mixing bowl. Form 4-5 patties depending on your size preference. Coat both sides with the dry bread crumbs in a small bowl. Heat about 2 tbsp oil on medium-high heat in a skillet. Cook crab cakes for about 6 minutes each side or until it looks nice and golden. Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice on top of each crab cake just before serving. Use the rest of the lemn juice to make homemade tartar sauce.

**Mix the vinegar and honey together in a small measuring cup.

I also like to serve a box of couscous or wild rice with this meal.

Jambalaya Pasta (can freeze ahead) with Roasted Green Beans
from Kevin and Amanda
Jambalaya Pasta with green beans

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 pound smoked sausage, sliced
1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (I have omitted the sausage and done 1 lb chicken only, and it's still delicious.)
2 cups diced onion (about 1 whole onion) (I almost always only do half the amount of onion suggested.)
2 cups diced bell peppers (about 3 bell peppers, I like to use 1 red, 1 yellow, 1 green)
cajun or creole seasoning
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz (about 2 cups) penne pasta
1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded (or any variety of shredded cheese works)
1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions
fresh green beans (I like the ones already trimmed and washed) or canned organic no-salt added French style green beans are great for when you need a veggie in a hurry. Just microwave and season with a little salt, pepper, and garlic powder (and butter if desired).
Cooking oil of choice (I use grape seed oil or a canola/EVOO blend for roasting veggies.)
Add olive oil to an oven-safe skillet over medium high heat until it just starts to smoke. Add sausage, chicken, onions, and bell peppers. Season with cajun seasoning (about 1-2 teaspoons). Cook until lightly browned. Add garlic stir to combine until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the broth, cream, pasta, and more cajun seasoning to taste, about 1/2 teaspoon. Stir to combine and bring to a boil, then cover skillet and reduce heat to medium-low. ***Freeze in a gallon sized freezer bag after adding pasta, but before simmering it. Thaw for 24 hours in refrigerator before cooking.

Simmer until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.
Remove skillet from heat and stir in 1/2 cup cheese. Top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with scallions. Broil until cheese is melted, golden brown, and bubbly.

Roasted Green Beans
Preheat oven to 425F. Toss the green beans with about 1 TBsp oil and salt and pepper spreading evenly on a sheet pan.
Cover with foil. Roast covered for 10 minutes, then uncovered for 10 minutes until they start to brown a little. Yummy!