Back On Track Once Again/ Breaking Records/A Healthier “Us” Anniversary

After two weeks of meal time chaos, I feel like I am finally back on track. Everyone was home and accounted for so I knew exactly how much I needed to prepare each night for dinner this week. This makes this wife/mom happy.

Things that did not make all that happy this week was the fact that we broke records here in Green Bay with our newest snowstorm. It was the biggest snowstorm in over 100 years coming in at a whopping 24.5 inches in 48 hours….I guess winter is not quite done with us yet.

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Anyhow, back to better topic, this week we tried two new recipes and one new product I have been dying to try out on the family. Here, take a look….

Saturday: grilled chicken brats, grilled zucchini, and perogies

Sunday: Lentil veggie soup and chicken pita sandwiches

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Monday: slow cooker burrito bowls(new recipe that is a keeper for sure)

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Tuesday: dynamite stovetop casserole

***This recipe was very tasty and basic. As my boys both commented during dinner, mom why did you think this would be a keeper, you can do so much better than this on your own? Well, now, didn’t that make me feel good…although, I thought the recipe itself was quite good. Yes, basic but still good. And how often do you make a recipe that actually turns out to look just like the picture in the book?

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Wednesday: chili stuffed sweet potatoes

***I loved this so much that I needed to make it again so soon after the first time so my husband could enjoy it this time also. Last time I made it he was traveling for work and missed out.

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Thursday: out….tonight plans got scrapped for some unexpected events that happened which left no time for dinner preparations

Friday: red lentil pasta with ham, zucchini, spinach,and parmesan cheese sauce

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Have you tried red lentil pasta yet? This was our first time and I must say, it won’t be our last for sure. It tastes no different and the texture is very close to regular pasta that it was very acceptable. All of us said this is a good healthier option in pasta dishes….yeah, another win for mom!!!!

Swapping something unhealthy in your diet that you have eaten and enjoyed for years is often hard and will, without a doubt, be different BUT change is hard and sometimes has to happen. Whether for health reasons, allergies, or you are just getting on the healthier eating train, I believe you mentally have to prepare yourself for the reality of what I eat now is slowly killing me and I HAVE to change to better myself. If this mental transformation don’t happen then you will never find something you can live with in place of another product you have eaten for years and is bad for you in some way. I touch on this subject because coming up here in a few days we will hit the 1 year anniversary of eating completely artificial sweetener free in our home. Yes, at the time it was for major medical issues my husband was having. However, now those issues have all cleared up and he is feeling fabulous. We now all find ourselves reading the label and often times putting a product back on the shelf to find a healthier alternative. I guess maybe one has to be miserable enough to want to make a healthier change before it can happen long term…but for us here, only one of us was suffering with issues and instead of signaling him out we all made the change as a family unit and we all could not be happier.

 

 

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Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Another meatless option I recently tried preparing with great success is mexican quinoa stuffed peppers. Again, like most my recipes, the ingredients are easy to find or are readily available in your pantry already.

This recipe makes 8 halves…..one per person. And since everything is precooked they are great for on the go lunches since you can either bake them until warmed through or store them in a microwave safe dish to grab and heat when your ready at work, school, etc.

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Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

1 cup quinoa

4 large sweet peppers-any color you desire

2 cups vegetable stock (you could use water if its all you have)

1-15oz.can whole kernel corn-drained

1 can black beans-drained and rinsed

1-15 oz can fire roasted tomatoes

1-4oz. can green chilies-drained

1 clove of garlic-finely chopped

pinch of red pepper flakes

2 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. paprika

First, you must cook your quinoa in the vegetable stock according to the directions. About half way through the cooking time add your chopped garlic clove to the pot to cook the remaining time.

While this is cooking, put a pot of water on to boil. Then clean and remove the seeds and ribs from your peppers.

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Once your pot with just water comes to a boil, toss your peppers into this for 4 minutes to blanch. You only want your peppers to soften, not cook all the way through. This is what makes microwaving them faster and easier to prepare on the go when its time to eat them.

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Once the four minutes is up, run them under cold water to stop the cooking process and lay them out on paper towels to dry. Meanwhile, add the rest of the ingredients to a large bowl.

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When your quinoa is done, add this to the large bowl and mix all the ingredients together. Take this mixture and stuff your peppers with it. Place them either in one big casserole dish to heat in the oven when your ready to prepare them or place them in single portion dishes to eat when your ready.

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To prepare you could bake them until heated through at 350 for approx 20-30 minutes. Or you could microwave them until heated through at various time settings according to the size of your microwave.

Enjoy!

 

 

Anyone Else Waiting For Summer?

You know when all the snow finally melts in your yard, you have made the Spring to do list, you have dusted off the patio furniture and are ready to bring it outdoors, and you are so ready to pack away scarves, hats, gloves, and everything that adds bulk in the winter and then you wake up one morning to another full layer of snow covering everything in sight???? This was me a few mornings ago here in Green Bay! IMG_0877

I was bummed. Yes, I know we have gotten snow before…..many times in April, heck even May, but come on already. I am done with winter. So done. It’s really no joke when we here in the midwest say we have to train to get back into shape for the summer season. Winters are long, boring, we eat comfort food just to stay warm, and then before we know it, we are 10 lbs heavier, our joints hurt, and staying up past 8 p.m. is literally a chore even though the sun is still shining brightly. I keep telling my self it’s coming just hang in there.

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Alrighty, I just had to get that rant off my chest. So this weeks meals turned out to be a disaster…but not on my part. It all began Easter Sunday about dinner time when my husband got the call that he was once again was needed in Tennessee and would be leaving on the 7a.m. flight out of Green Bay. UGGGG, we first thought it was an April fools joke, but unfortunately it was not! So even though I had the menu planned and all the groceries bought for the week, I replanned very quickly, and winged it all week.

Here is what this week was in meals:

Saturday: unwrapped egg roll bowls….they were such a big hit last time I had to make them once again

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Sunday: egg and roasted potato bake with ham along with roasted green beans (Easter)IMG_7009

Monday: here is where the week went down hill…at least in the meal area.

Today we ate pasta salads that I had prepared for both my husband and my son’s lunches for the week.

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Tuesday: I opted to try a jar simmer seasoning I picked up on my last trip down to Trader Joe’s called Masala Simmer Sauce. I prepared this with carrots, chicken, and spinach. It was ok, not great, but coming from a jar it was edible. Would I buy it again? Probably not. IMG_0871

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Wednesday: Out for my monthly dinner with my brother

Thursday: bean burger wraps, chips and salsa

Friday: out

Food prep this week was a bit all over the place. I, like I said above, threw together two different pasta salads for lunches for my boys this week. I also roasted potatoes for a casserole and boiled a dozen eggs for myself  for before my morning workouts.

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I also made up 6 muffin egg sandwiches to toss in the freezer and reheat for fast breakfasts. I love doing this….it so easy and so much less expensive than the store bought premade breakfast sandwiches that have so many other ingredients in them that you really do not know what your truly eating.

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Spicy Black Bean Burgers

We all love spicy black bean burgers here in our home but when my husband found out artificial sweeteners were the cause of all is abdominal issues we began reading labels on everything in our home. Believe it or not, a very popular brand of spicy black bean burgers we consumed on a regular basis had artificial sweetener in them. Which then made it yet one more food he could not eat. So I thought about it, read many other recipes, and did a bunch of research on how to make my own so we could all eat these as a family again. Then I finally gave it a try and made my own with success all the way around.

These burgers are basic, most ingredients many people will have right in there home pantry, and they literally take minutes to make.

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

4 sweet baby peppers or 1/2 of large bell pepper

1/2 small yellow onion

1 lg clove of garlic

1-15 oz. can organic black beans, drained and rinsed

1 lg egg

3/4 cup quick cooking oats

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp sriracha sauce

dash of salt

First, seed your peppers, peel your garlic, and rough chop your onion. Toss this all into a food processor and blend until finely chopped.

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Next, remove this mixture and lay it on some paper towels to squeeze out as much moisture as you can.

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In a medium bowl, take your drained and rinsed beans and roughly smash them with a potato masher or another appropriate kitchen tool.

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Then add the remaining ingredients along with the dried pepper mixture and mix this all together. When your finished, score the mixture evenly making four sections….each to form one burger.

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Form your burgers and lay them on a parchment lined baking sheet. IMG_0785

Place them in the freezer for 1.5-2 hours or until frozen firm. Next, you can either package them for later use or bake them immediately. For freezing, I wrapped mine individually and placed them in a  freezer safe container to store.

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To prepare, I took them out of the freezer, placed them on a tin foil lined baking sheet sprayed with non stick spray. I baked them from a frozen state at 450 for 15-20 minutes minutes per side.

Serving: 4 burgers per recipe

Enjoy!

 

Chimichurri (my version)

Chimichurri is apparently what most people call this decadent sauce of green goodness. I however, literally threw what I thought would taste yummy on roasted veggies one evening and hoped for the best. After doing some research after I had made mine, I noticed it already had a name and that most people use vinegar, they also add red pepper flakes, and many times they add oregano. I did not add any of these since I did not want my veggies flavored with oregano and I also used lemon in place of vinegar since that’s what I had on hand. My outcome was amazing….light, tart, and it adds a burst of freshness to every dish. So I thought I  would share it with you all today.

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Chimichurri (my version)

1/2 red onion-rough chopped

1 large bunch of flat leaf parsley

3 garlic cloves

1/2 tsp salt

juice of 1 lemon

olive oil….amount varies

Directions:

You literally just toss everything into a food processor and slowly add the olive oil while its running until you have the consistency you want.

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It will then keep in the refrigerator up to a week. IMG_0498

As for usages….. go crazy and use it almost anywhere. I mixed mine into tuna pasta salad, put some atop a bowl of soup, and also mixed potatoes with it and roasted them in the oven for a few minutes. All this was fabulous…..I can’t wait to try it a few more places.

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I am thinking it would be terrific on cod, with a leafy green salad, in a summer salad of cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives….or just about anywhere. Shrimp sauteed in this sauce and laid atop a big bowl of pasta…..yeh, like I said, anywhere would be good. Oh my, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. I better add these ingredients to the grocery list again since I do believe it will be a common thing I keep on hand.

 

 

 

 

This Time It Was My Turn To Pick The Restaurant

Does your family debate over where you are all going when you go out to eat a meal? I think most do…right? Well, in our family my husband is a very basic eater, my son loves going places of the beaten path so to say and I love different cuisine….like things you would not find most people eating in WI. Seriously, I am probably the only person in WI that does not LOVE beer, brats, cheese and fish fry on Friday nights. Ugggg, I would rather eat PB&J!

Well, if you recall, a few weeks ago our son really wanted us to step outside the box and try Pho….a Vietnamese soup. I was all in, dad did not argue but was not too sure, and our son said he had had it before and thought I would love it since I love soup. You can read about this experience here if you missed it. Which now brought us to this past weekend, I found a new place I wanted us all to try. Another place that had pho on the menu and so much more. I had done my research and knew what I was going to have before arriving….which was a curry seafood dish, I loved pho but it was way to much noodles for me to feel like I was not wasting it last time, so I avoided ordering this again. When our food arrived it smelled amazing.

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We all chose a different dish, which is great since this offers all of us a chance to try one anothers and essentially get to taste three things on the menu. We also got one egg roll since the girl in front of us said they were the best in Green Bay. We split it in three and yes, she was right, it was fabulous!

As we enjoyed our meal my son thought it would be fun to take us to the ethnic market he often goes to with a friend of his. Since all our errands were done and all that was waiting for me at home was laundry, I thought sure why not. This was eye opening. So much stuff….so much stuff I have never seen…..so much stuff that I would never in a million years consider eating(like chicken feet and a snout from some animal). However, amazingly enough I found something there that I just recently told my husband I wish our local grocer would start carrying. Baby bok choy….I finally found a place that has it in Green Bay. I know, for the average individual this would not be exciting, but for me THIS WAS EXCITING!!!!!

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I ended up buy an entire bag of these precious little green bundles and I started thinking immediately how I could mix them in with the dinner plan for that evening.They ended up being wonderful and oh so tasty. I will surely be returning to purchase more when I am in that area of the city.

As for the remainder of our weekend…well, let’s just say it’s better not written about and or repeated. It ended up being not so great which sometimes happens.

 

Replicating A Recipe And Keeping Dinner Time Simple

A few weeks back a friend and I went to a local cafe for drinks and a light lunch. We both ordered the pasta salad they had in the cold case and fell in love with it. It was so tasty yet from the looks of it, so easy to replicate. So I just had to give it a try and see what I came up with. This is what I experimented with Saturday and then fed it to my family with hopes that it would be another meal to add to the meatless menu. Surprisingly, it was a total success…our son actually came back for two helpings…now that really is a success. All it consists of is cheese tortellini, dried cranberries, spinach leaves, onion, a homemade dressing, with goat cheese crumbles added before serving. Simple is often best and this is a prime example of this…. it was soooo good!

Here is what the rest of our week was like at dinner time.

Saturday: chilled cheese tortellini pasta salad with crusty bread (meatless)

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Sunday: Swedish meatballs over pasta with broccoli

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Monday: coconut veggie fried bulgar (meatless)(new recipe)

***I must admit, adding coconut to this recipe was risky, in my opinion, but it really did add so much flavor. I was happily surprised. Bonus: the next day my table food eating daycare child loved it also.

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Tuesday: BLT’s

Wednesday: quesadillas

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Thursday: veggie stir fry over udon noodels (meatless)

Friday: take and bake pizzas from our favorite organic grocery store here in the Green Bay area

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Three meatless meals this week…..all successful. And the remaining evenings were simple but tasty. Just how I like to complete a long day.

Meal prep for the upcoming week:

Not much food prep needed for this upcoming week since my husband would be traveling for work all week which left just my son and I for dinners. Although, a dinner plan was still needed, just a bit less than normal. Here is the prepping I did do to make life easier on myself so I could get everything else done solo.

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I whipped up a quick dozen veggie egg cups for my breakfast for the week. Of course, cleaned and cut up the veggies needed for the week. Plus, I threw together a batch of curry lentil stew (recipe here) for myself for lunch all week.