Tag Archives: Meal Chatter Monday

Meal Plan Insanity

30 Aug

It was like the children’s book “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie”…

At first, my plan was to list out all the meals we eat regularly so that it would lessen my hate of meal planning. Then I decided to link up to recipes I had online. Before I knew it, it seemed like a fabulous idea to type up all the recipes in the cookbooks so that I could quit splattering them while I cooked.

But why stop there?

I’m now going to turn the master list of meals into as many weeks worth of meal plans as I can. After that, I’ll write up grocery lists for for those weeks on an editable spreadsheet so that I can add or subtract items with ease.

Oh, it’s color coded as well.

Yes, I’m crazy but I really hope that at the end of all this, I’ll have a much easier time of meal planning. I can recycle all the meal plans until the weather turns hot again when soup and baked oven dishes aren’t welcome.

How about you? Do you meal plan?

Asian Spaghetti

12 Jul

Asian Spaghetti

Tasty and so versatile! It really doesn’t matter what you put in it — I’ve found it’s the sauce that makes all the difference.

1 pound pasta (I used Udon noodles, a Japanese rice noodle, but you could use regular spaghetti)
2 pounds vegetables — cut for stir-fry (I used green beans, carrots, red onion, eggplant)
1 TB ginger root — minced
2 cloves garlic — minced or pressed
4 eggs, scrambled — reconstituted (or use seitan, marinated tofu, chicken, or grilled Portobello mushrooms)
1/2 cup water broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry — (or non-alcoholic alternative)
1 tablespoon sugar — (or alternative)
2 teaspoons cornstarch

While the pasta cooks in a large pot of boiling water, steam-fry the stir-fry vegetables, ginger, and garlic in a large, very hot, nonstick wok or skillet. Steam-fry just until the vegetables are crisp-tender, adding the choice of protein at the end.

Mix together the water, soy sauce, sherry, sugar, and cornstarch. Pour into the pan and stir until thickened. Drain the pasta and add to the pan. Toss to mix well and serve.

Blueberry Muffins

12 Apr

These muffins were simply divine. Light, with a hint of citrus and not too sweet to indulge in for breakfast. Best of all, they are vegan so you can lick the bowl without fear of salmonella!


Blueberry Lime Muffins
created by Dallas Ann Prentice

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used a touch less)
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, picked over to remove stems
Additional flour for coating berries.

Preheat oven to 400. Grease muffin tins.

Combine flour, salt, and baking soda. In another bowl, beat together sugar, water, oil, vanilla and lime juice. Add dry ingredients. Toss blueberries with a bit of additional flour. This prevents the berries from sinking to the bottom of your muffin tins as they bake! Gently fold in floured berries and vinegar.

Scoop batter into prepared tins and bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely in tins before removal. Otherwise they’ll crumble a bit, which I guess is okay if you intend to eat them piping hot like Ella and I did.

Makes 12 muffins which may or may not all be gone within 24 hours of creation.

Taste Bud Party

15 Feb

I wanted to share some recipes that have completely knocked our socks off that are really simple. As in, so simple even Aaron could do it. That’s saying something, folks. This is the guy who can botch a box of macaroni and cheese. I’m not saying anything he hasn’t said a million times over, so no worries. 🙂

First, we tried this fantastic pasta sauce. I was really skeptical at first. Tomatoes, butter, and an onion. Not even a diced onion at that! How could it be good without garlic or even a little bit of basil? I am so glad I didn’t try and doctor it up. This pasta sauce? Is amazing. Fabulous. Stunning in it’s simplicity and delicious taste. It’s now my go to recipe for pasta sauce and is budget friendly, too. Try it and be amazed!

And then last night we had Lebanese Chicken and Rice. I have seen this recipe floating around my circle of friends for ages and I always gave it the stink eye. Cinnamon? Butter? Instant rice? Boy, was I wrong. I can’t believe I’ve been depriving my family of this for so long. One batch was NOT enough for us and I’ll have to double it next time. Next time being very soon. Probably this upcoming weekend since it is lickity split fast and easy to make. Perfect for the long days while Aaron is at work.

Lebanese Chicken and Rice

2 lb boneless chicken breast
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
2 1/2 c. instant rice
1/2 stick butter

Boil chicken in water to cook (about 20 min.)
Remove chicken from water and pull into small pieces.
Strain water through coffee filter and save. (I used a fine mesh sieve)
Cook rice in strained water. Use the amount specified by the direction on the box of rice Add salt, pepper, cinnamon, & butter.
When rice is completely cooked, mix in chicken and serve.

I served it with corn and it was delicious. Ella literally licked her plate clean.

How about you? Have you tried a new dish that has completely surprised you?

So excited!!!

10 Aug

My Aunt Tammy alerted me to Betty Crocker’s new Gluten Free desert mixes. I was excited to learn about that because Aaron has a gluten intolerance and really does better if he is gluten free. Pancake mix, muffins, and cornbread are relatively simple for me to accomplish. Gluten free bread is pretty much an epic failure for me, so I just don’t go there and really try my best to keep bread products he would eat out of the house. Deserts, though, are something we both miss and I just can’t seem to pull out of our budget. Gluten free products and flour alternatives are EXPENSIVE and it’s really hard to justify spending so much money on something I’m only going to use a few times a month at most. The price of the Betty Crocker mixes were around $4.00 and are manageable to be squeezed into the budget a couple times a month.

When Ella and I were at the grocery store last week, I saw that they now carried the gluten free mixes! I really wanted to try the brownies but there weren’t any left, so I settled for the chocolate chip cookies. Something I really liked is that you have the option of making them egg free by following the directions on the back of the box OR you can make them dairy free* by following these directions found on Betty Crocker’s website. I decided to follow the directions as presented on the back of the box since Ella can have butter without any problems.

The cookies were surprisingly good! Definitely a different texture but I’ve come to learn that comparing gluten free products to flour products is like comparing apples to oranges — they have to be judged on their own merits. When I pulled them from the oven, they were nice and puffy but once they cooled, they fell and became more crispy than chewy. The cookies were also very fragile (typical of gf products) and difficult for an almost 2 year old to handle. Then again, Ella thought it was a blast that she got to eat cookie crumbs so it was still a success. The flavor of the cookies themselves didn’t leave anything to complain about! The directions encourage you to store them in an airtight container and that really is necessary. Of course, the true test was the taste buds of the family member who should be gluten free in our house and he gave them a thumbs up! Hooray!

I really hope that next time the brownie mix is in stock because I love brownies with all my heart and soul. While I would LOVE to make these amazing looking gluten free brownies, it just isn’t in the cards at this point in my life. So we’ll stick with the boxed mixes for now until we can enjoy the luxury of gluten free yummies from scratch.

* I did not look at the ingredients on all the different products and in the cookies, the chocolate chips were the only thing that had dairy in them (this is an acceptable “form” of dairy for Ella). Please check the ingredient list yourself before taking my word for it that they are dairy free!

Meal Chatter Monday

15 Jun

Summer is upon us in the midwest. The humidity is bordering on stifling (Yes, I know. Just wait until August) and the heat is making my ankles swell. The last thing I want to do is turn on the oven and turn out a home cooked meal but if I want any hope of sticking to my weekly meal budget, I have no choice.

I had grand plans of making this recipe (we prefer it without thyme) in the crock pot but I fell asleep while putting Ella down for her nap and when we woke up, it would never be done in time if I tried to crock pot it. I was stumped. The last thing I wanted to do was turn the oven on and bake the casserole in addition to the corn bread but I had no choice. Taco Bell wasn’t on the menu plan!

So I decided to shred the carrots to help them cook faster and put everything into my largest pot to have it simmer on very very low heat for about 45 minutes. When that was finished, I fried up the cornbread like pancakes to avoid the oven. I wasn’t sure how the cornbread cakes would turn out but they plumped up nicely! It didn’t matter that they weren’t muffins or cut into squares since we top it with the beans. Actually, I think I like it better this way!

How do you try to beat the summer heat while cooking?

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