meal plan . . . this week

Our week is pretty mellow.  David is in town, and he does all the kids driving.  I'm going to sit around and eat Bon Bons and watch Real Housewives.  But, I will be cooking dinner and here's what's on the menu. MONDAY: Smothered Chicken with a yummy romaine lettuce salad.  I am really trying to perfect my 'wing-it' salad dressing skills.  David bought me some new balsamic so I will probably blend that with olive oil, parm, salt, pepper and maybe some roasted red peppers.  Fingers crossed.

TUESDAY:  We didn't BBQ Sunday night.  So we are doing steak tonight.  Two flank steaks is almost enough to feed all of us.  Plus I'm going to try these Tornado Potatoes.  I also bought a bag of pre-cut broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.  I've never done this before, but I thought it would be so easy in a pinch.  I'm going to toss the veggies with olive oil, salt, pepper and the herbs left over from Thanksgiving and roast it.

WEDNESDAY:  Time to use the leftover turkey form Thanksgiving.  So tonight we will have Turkey Chili from the Food Network.  I'm going to serve it will all the fixins.

THURSDAY:  I will be busy selling my book at the Saint Thomas Moore School Holiday Bazaar.  If you are in Portland come on by from 5:30PM to 9PM.  The family will be eating Curry Chicken.  I use Trader Joe's Curry sauce with a can of coconut milk, add three chicken breasts to the slow cooker and cook for four hours on HIGH.  I toss in extra veggies when I have them, red peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, onion, cabbage, etc.  I serve it over and rice and that's dinner.

FRIDAY: Osso Bucco and a salad.  Again, I will be at Saint Thomas Moore today selling my book for their Holiday Bazaar so I needed something that would require little work from me.  This seemed like the perfect recipe.

Saturday and Sunday have proved to be useless days for me to meal plan.  Our plans always get in the way of me preparing dinner.  Unless we have planned to have guests over, I don't plan our weekend dinners.  Plus I love taking the kids out to eat.  It's always an adventure.


Happy Cooking - XO


I'm late sending out this post.  I didn't get up at 4AM this morning.  However, my cute husband was sending me lots of text messages to see if I was up at my usual hour.  He's out of town where it is NOT 4AM for him!  I was trying to sleep in, it didn't work.  I'm also late to write this morning because I decided to get a big slow cooker of black beans going this morning.  We are having tacos tonight and black beans are a great compliment.  Plus they do great in the freezer. Here is a very simple recipe for BLACK BEANS in the slow cooker . . .

  • one pound black beans
  • 2 - 3 cloves of garlic
  • one bay leaf
  • one tablespoon of salt
  • one onion diced (I used 1/2 a red onion, it's all I had)
  • six cups of water
  • I also quartered a lemon and threw it in because I had one

Add all the ingredients.  Turn the slow cooker on "HI" for three hours.  After three hours check the beans if you like the way they are, they are done.  If you want them softer, keep cooking them for another hour.  When you are done, drain the beans and serve, store in the fridge or freeze.


quick dinners . . .

I think once school starts we are all going to be busy, busy, busy.  I love cooking big yummy dinners, but I am going to need an arsenal of QUICK dinner ideas on hand all the times.  Here are some of my ideas, please share yours.

  1. Cheese tortellini (stored in the freezer) w/ pesto sauce.
  2. Refried bean burritos with lettuce, cheese and salsa.
  3. Breakfast for dinner.
  4. Quorn nuggets (in the freezer aisle).  Delicious!
  5. Quesadillas.
  6. Frozen pizza.
  7. Order take out.
  8. A meal from the freezer you cooked previously, doubled and froze.

Share your ideas folks!  We all need them.

a great little salad . . .

Here's a great little salad to make . . . - 3 oranges

- 1 pint orange colored or red grape tomatoes

- handful of spinach

  1. Cut the ends off the orange.  Then cut the peal off, including the white pulp.  Then cut the orange into small chunks, the same size as the grape tomatoes cut in half.
  2. Wash and cut the tomatoes in half.
  3. Dice the spinach VERY small.  You can substitute basil for the spinach.
  4. Mix it all and serve.  And if you have kids who don't eat tomatoes, they will probably eat this since the tomatoes are covered with the yummy juice from the oranges.


my favorite appetizer

This is great!  Purchase one 8 ounce block of cream cheese, hot pepper jelly (any brand) and wheat thins.  Unwrap and place the cream cheese on a large plate (or even platter), pour the hot pepper jelly over the top and sound with crackers.  You can even stick a little appetizer knife in the block of cream cheese.  Enjoy! P.S.  This doesn't look pretty, but those who have had it before won't care because they know how good it is!

Friday Food

Short and sweet . . . don't forget you can serve breakfast for dinner.  You have already figured in more time to prepare dinner than you do for breakfast.  So a big fancy breakfast for dinner will surely make all the eaters in your household smile!  But . . . beware, don't surprised if they start asking for this treat often! XO

kale . . .

We have been eating so much Kale the kids are turning green.  Safeway has started carrying two pound bags of washed, cut kale.  So instead of lettuce salads we are having kale salads and I am adding kale into everything I cook . . . smoothies, sauces, pasta salads, etc. Here is a VERY yummy salad I wanted to share.

serves 4

  • 4 cups of kale, diced very, very small
  • 1/4 cranberries
  • 1/4 feta
  • 1/4 pine nuts (toasted or not)
  • balsamic dressing

Mix it all together and serve.

Have a great weekend everyone!  If you are in Portland there is some cool stuff happening this weekend.  There is an Art Show at Buckman School, a Lego festival at the Convention Center and I am taking two of our kids a friend to a cooking class at OMSI Saturday morning.



kids and veggies . . .

The next time you are in the kitchen cooking dinner and everyone is bitching and moaning they are hungry, and it's starting to drive you nuts.  STOP cooking dinner, chop up a pile of veggies, put them on dinner table and tell everyone to have at it . . . dinner will be ready shortly.  DO NOT SERVE ANYTHING BUT VEGGIES, no dips, no fruit, no nothing!  If they are hungry they will chow down and stop bothering you.  In addition to that you don't have to worry too much about them spoiling their dinner, because they are eating veggies.  Yippee! XO


the kitchen sink . . .

Here's a little trick in the kitchen I want to share.  Cut the following fruits and veggies in the sink, the mess and juices require zero clean-up because everything can be swept down the drain.

  1. WATERMELON.  Watermelon season is just around the corner.  The next time you get a watermelon, cut it in the sink.  Just plop your cutting board right in the sink and start cutting away.  The juice will just run off the cutting board right down the drain and not onto your counter or kitchen floor.  Yes, it's a tiny bit awkward to cut stuff up in the sink, but the clean up is so so so much easier!
  2. BROCCOLI.  Cut this up in the sink too.  And all those tiny little florets that pop off when you are chopping will pop off into the sink, not your counter tops of floor.
  3. CITRIS FRUITS.  These can also be pretty juicy (or at least they should be).  If you have a lot to cut or are juice, do it in the sink . . . no more sticky clean up.
  4. PEELING.  I peel all my veggies (cucumber, potatoes, carrots, etc) right into the corner in the sink.  Then I just grab the entire wad and throw it in the compost.  I use to try and peel stuff right into the compost, but I always missed.  The sink is so much bigger and I rarely miss.

Let me know if you have any additional tips or tricks in the kitchen!


Meal Plan . . .

This week I did NOT choose a fancy chef!  Instead I searched our kitchen HIGH and LOW for all of the random foods that need to be used up.  I then dug around on the internet to find recipes to match what I wanted to use up in our kitchen.  Here is my list of food to use up . . .

  • onion soup mix
  • canned pumpkin
  • garbanzo beans (canned)
  • dried lentils
  • arborio rice
  • tuna
  • oatmeal
  • plain nonfat yogurt
  • frozen peas

Here's the plan . . .

MONDAY: tikka masala (uses plain nonfat yogurt) & green salad

TUESDAY: savory lo mein (onion soup mix) & frozen peas & oatmeal cookies

WEDNESDAY: date night, I'll put the 4 year old in charge ;)

THURSDAY:  fettuccine w/ pumpkin sauce, asparagus & pumpkin muffins

FRIDAY:  arborio rice and lentil & garbanzo bean salad

SATURDAY:  curry tuna melts served with chips and fruit

SUNDAY:  we are going out or the 13 year old is cooking dinner!

MONDAY . . . I had planned on cooking the Tikka Masala on Halloween.  I forgot about this little equation KIDS + HALLOWEEN = CRACK.  There was NOT a chance in H3LL my kids were going to wait for a fancy dinner.  They wanted pizza, ringing doorbells and SCREEEAMING trick or treat.  So . . . I will try out this recipe on Monday.

Here is the link . . . again  I am going to serve it with a 'run of the mill' green salad.  And since I can't stand store bought salad dressing I always make my own.  Don't you dare think I get fancy here.  Olive oil, balsamic (I buy good stuff and use it only for salad dressings) and then I always throw in something random like . . . milk or lemon or soy sauce or a fresh herb I have laying around or garlic (if I cut up too much for dinner, I never cut it up specifically for salad dressing) or some random spice or parm or mustard.  Have fun with this, have your kids make it for you!

TUESDAY . . . This recipe looks interesting.  I have not tried it before.  The ingredients looked fine, but the instructions did not seem correct to me.  So I completely changed it all, I made it easier to cook (not that it was hard before) and added a lot more vegetables.

I am serving this with the frozen peas that have been taking up space in our freezer for too long!

Savory Lo Mein


  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 5 cups thinly sliced spinach
  • ½ cup shredded carrots
  • ½ cup shredded zucchini
  • 1 envelop Lipton Recipe Secrets Onion Soup Mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 T Sherry (optional)
  • 1 t soy sauce
  • ¼ t ground ginger
  • 8 ounces of pasta
  • 1 T toasted sesame seeds

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat and cook garlic and spinach, stirring frequently, 5 minutes.  Stir carrots and zucchini until completely mixed and remove from heat. Mix Lipton® Recipe Secrets® Onion Soup Mix with water, sherry, soy sauce and ginger, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Toss all ingredients with hot linguine. Sprinkle, if desired, with toasted sesame seeds.

 WEDNESDAY . . . It's date night.  And I wasn't kidding about putting the four year old in charge of dinner.  He makes his own lunch for school, sandwich and all.  So I am SERIOUSLY putting him in charge of dinner.  Maybe I will have him toss an extra multi-vitamin on everyone's plate.


THURSDAY . . . I have a huge can of pumpkin.  I do not make pumpkin pie from scratch because all groceries stores do it perfectly.  So I need to use this thing up!  I have made the recipe for the muffins below, but the pasta recipe is a new one for me.  I hope it's good.

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I am going to serve this with asparagus.  And then after dinner I will have these yummy muffins for dessert!


  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 15 ounces canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup water
  • additional ingredients you can add to up the HEALTHY factor, add about a 1/2 a cup TOTAL of any of the following; blue berries, any kind of chopped nuts, flax seeds, cranberries, blueberries, raisins, etc etc

Spray muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray, pour batter into muffin till, filling 1/2-way.  Bake according to cake box package directions.

FRIDAY . . . I have so much Arborio Rice.  I obviously bought it for a recipe and then bought another container.  This recipe I found on the good old world wide web, I doctored it up a bit.  Let's hope it's good too!

Crock Pot Arborio Rice

  • 1 ¼ cup uncooked Arborio Rice
  • ¼ cup Olive Oil
  • ¼ white wine (to skip this, just increase your broth by ¼ cup)
  • 3 ¾ cups broth (your choice veggie or chicken)
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped
  • ½ t salt and pepper
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, diced small
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, diced small
  • ¼ cup parm
  • meat, if you have anything left over, chop it up and dump it in!

Throw the first 6 ingredients in the crock pot, stir and cook on HIGH for two hours.  An hour and a half into the cooking time, chop up your spinach, basil, meat if you are using it and grate your parm.  Dump your last 4 ingredients, stir them up really well.  Cook for 10 minutes and serve!

Lentil & Garbonzo Salad

I am going to wing this one!  I am going to cook the 1/2 of a package of dried lentils according to the package directions.  Then I am going to add the following; 1 can of garbanzo beans, 2 sliced green onions, 1/2 orange bell pepper and 1/2 a cup of feta.  For the dressing I am going to whisk the following and pour it over the mixed veggies . . . 1/2 a lemon juiced, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup of white wine, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and some red pepper flakes OR a few dashes of tabasco.  Mix it all together and serve.

SATURDAY . . . This recipe may not go over too well, but I want to use up that tuna.  Food sitting in my cabinet drives me nuts.  I don't like clutter and food collecting dust in our kitchen is clutter!  I am going to serve this interesting dinner with fruit and chips.

Here is the link to the recipe!  Enjoy . . .

SUNDAY . . . Like I mentioned above, it's either the 13 year old finishing up his two hours of Sunday chores by cooking the family dinner or we are going out.  As I like to say . . . 'mama is OFF-DUTY.'

Have a great week everyone!  I am still compiling recipes for my blog reader week of meals, so send your in.  You can send them to my email address  And I am also gathering recipes for an entire week of crock pot recipes!  And then I have another plan to do a week of cooking from Trader Joe's.  If you have anything you would like to contribute.  Please do so!  Have a great finish to your weekend.


meal plan . . . Curtis Stone

Screen shot 2013-10-19 at 8.53.06 PM Curtis Stone is this week's chef.  I chose him because I really wanted to make Korean tacos and his recipe was the first recipe to pop up when I googled 'Korean tacos.'



w e d n e s d a y :  DATE NIGHT, pizza, fruit and veggies

t h u r s d a y :  CHICKEN CACCIATORE & green salad



s u n d a y :  TBD


Here is the link for Korean's tacos.  These look delicious!  I am going to cheat a little bit with these tacos.  I have some leftover frozen teriyaki chicken that I need to use up, so I am going to defrost that for the meat.  I also am going to cook a huge batch of black beans in the crock pot all day long and I am going to add those to the tacos.  Then I am going to use the black beans for tomorrow nights chili!  I am serving dinner with a little sliced up pineapple and some tortilla chips.  

Here is a great and easy black bean crock pot recipe.

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Curtiss' Chili looks like it might be a lot of work, but it looks really good.  Have you ever had chili with fennel in it?  Me neither . . . should be interesting!  I am going to serve the chili with yummy cheese and crackers.  And again, I am going to cheat here.  I cooked the black beans last night so I could use a cup or so with the tacos.  So I am going to skip the 1 1/2 hours of cooking the beans in this recipe since I already have it done!  Woo hoo!  Also, I am going to freeze any leftover chili and use it for baked potato topping with melted cheese on top in the future.

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Here is the link to his chili . . .


Date night!  Pizza for the kids and some fruit and veggies too!


Tonight is Chef Stone's Chicken Cacciatore.  I haven't ever made this before, but I am excited!  I am going to serve it with a green salad.

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Here is the link . . .


This looks too easy . . . BBQ Chicken Quesadillas.  I don't think we need a recipe here, but I will pass it along anyway.  I am serving this with green peas and I will probably use up the fruit from the week and make a little fruit salad.  And if you want to cheat here you can buy the pre-made rotisserie chicken at your local grocery store!


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This looks great.  And it is screaming to be served with asparagus, but I am going to keep plugging along with Curtis and serve it with his brussel sprouts  Here are the links.,-Thyme-and-Honey-Caramelized-Brussels.aspx


I am not sure what I am going to make.  Curtis doesn't really have anything else that looks appetizing to me (at least right now).  So I am either going to whip something up from what is leftover in the fridge or round up the crew and head out.  Have a great week everyone!  XO  And please feel free to send me your favorite chef or cookbook.  I will use it!  Thank you.

meal plan . . . Ina Garten

Screen shot 2013-10-12 at 8.17.38 PM Hi.  I enjoyed cooking last week with recipes from April Bloomsfield.  So this week I have decided to cook with recipes from Ina Garten AKA Barefoot Contessa.

Here's the Ina Garten Menu for the week.

monday: celery salad* & weeknight bolognese*

tuesday: lemon chicken*, green beans and lentil puree

wednesday: date night

thursday: garlic roasted cauliflower* & pasta (my creation)

friday: zucchini gratin* & asparagus

saturday: peas with prosciutto*, tomato feta* salad and french bread

sunday: goin' out to eat


* recipes by Ina


weeknight bolognese

celery salad


lemon chicken

green beans


Date night . . . I am serving the kiddos Quorn nuggets (they are made out of mushrooms) and the kids love them.  I will probably serve it up with some veggies and fruit.


Garlic Roasted Cauliflower

Then I am going to whip a random pasta dish.  I am going to cook up pasta (according to package directions) and then add crumbled cooked bacon, chopped parsley, shredded parm, shredded zucchini, a few squirts of fresh lemon and then drizzle it with olive oil.


Zucchini Gratin

Asparagus.  I like to cook up the asparagus in boiling water for about a minute or two.  Then I saute up a little butter, 1 tablespoon or so of soy sauce, add some teriyaki if you have that too.  Then add the asparagus to the pan to heat it up and serve.


Peas and Prosciutto

Tomato & Feta Salad

French Bread


I know I said I was going to cook with the family every Sunday night.  But it's not in the cards for us this Sunday, so we are going out!  I think . . . we may have people over.  We'll see.

meal plan . . .

2013-10-06 06.52.17 HDR  2013-10-06 19.59.44 HDR

Hi.  Long time no write!  As some of you may have noticed I have been out of commission.  My week of writing about kids didn't get much traction.  Sorry about that.  I had a very close friend in town visiting for the week.  We basically kicked it, hung with the kiddos and went out to great restaurants around town.  The photo above is a cookbook from the same friend, and the second photo is the cookbook signed by the chef April Bloomfield.  Pretty exciting!  So this week my menu plan will consist of dishes from the book.  I hope everyone has a great week.  Happy cooking!

MONDAY: green pea soup*, brie and french bread


TUESDAY: radish salad* & flank steak


WEDNESDAY: date night . . . pizza for the kiddos


THURSDAY:  pesto pasta, lentil puree* & french bread


FRIDAY:  pot stickers, rice, oranges & peanuts*


SATURDAY:  roast chicken* & caesar salad*


SUNDAY:  lentil salad* & bratwursts


* dishes from the COOKBOOK A Girl and Her Pig, by April Bloomfield.



Pea Soup:  This dish looks awesome.  I started the broth tonight (it cooks for five hours, but you don't have to do a thing)!  Here is the link to the recipe.  I am excited for dinner tomorrow night.  As mentioned above I am serving it with french bread and brie.  Enjoy.

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We eat a lot of flank steak.  It's so easy!  I marinate the flank steak all day and then crank on the broiler.  I broil the steak for 7 minutes each side.  It's done!  



Date night.  I am serving pizza, maybe fresh, maybe frozen and some fresh veggies.  Yum!  Yum!



Tonight is pesto pasta.  The kids favorite and a great way for me to add in tons of veggies.  As you may have previously read I like to make my own pesto, but if I don't have time store bought is JUST fine!  I basically whip up your basic pesto sauce and then add in spinach, some carrots and some lemon juice.  Nothing like a few extra veggies.  I am serving our pesto over cheese tortellini.  A great pesto recipe to get you started is Ina Garten's . . . 

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I am also making April's Lentil Puree and serving everything with french bread. 

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 7 medium garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3/4 cup Puy lentils, rinsed & picked over 
  • about 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of flaky salt, (April prefers Maldon)
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Combine cumin, cream, garlic and lentils with 1 1/2 cups of water.  Bring to a vigorous simmer and then turn the heat to low for about 35 minutes.  Then pour everything into a blender or food processor and add olive oil, salt and lemon juice.  Blend until it's completely smooth.  It will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.



Costo pot stickers, jasmine rice and oranges.  And because I am trying something from April's cookbook almost everyday I added in this peanut recipe.

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Two recipes from April today.  Roast chicken and Caesar Salad.  I haven't ever cooked a whole chicken!

Screen shot 2013-10-06 at 8.53.02 PM


April's roast chicken recipe is pretty simple.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Get a 4-pound chicken, pat it dry.  Let the chicken sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.  Cover the inside and outside generously with salt.  Let the chicken sit for another 15 minutes at room temperature.  Put the chicken in a roasting pan or baking dish.  Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.  Roast the chicken for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees and cook for about another 20 minutes (until the skin is light golden brown and the juices run clear when you pierce the thickest part of the thigh).  Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for another 15 minutes.  Enjoy!



For the time being I am going to steer away from going out to restaurants with the family and get the kids in the kitchen cooking with me!  Sunday night we will be having brats with yummy buns and lentil salad from April's cookbook.

Lentil and Chickpea Salad with Feta and Tahini
Bloomfield says, "you might be tempted to follow a recipe loosely --I know I often am-- but on your first go, please try it my way. Then once you've made it two or three times, feel free to tweak as you like." 

For the lentils:
Scant 1 cup dried Puy or Casteluccio lentils, picked and rinsed over
2 large garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
2 sage sprigs
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

For the dressing and salad
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1/2 large garlic clove
maldon or another flaky sea salt
2 tablespoons well stirred tahini paste
about 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 and 3/4 cups drained chickpeas, low sodium if canned
1/2 small preserved lemon, pith and flesh discarded, rind finely diced
1 very small red onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
A handful of small, delicate cilantro sprigs
A scant 1/4 cup feta, preferably goat's milk
1 and 1/2 tablespoons raw sesame seeds, toasted in a dry pan till a shade or two darker

Make the lentils: Put the lentils, garlic, sage, and olive oil in a small pot, along with 2 cups cold water, and set it over medium heat. Let the water come to a simmer (don't let it boil), then turn the heat to low and cook the lentils in a very gentle simmer just until they are tender  -- about 25 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and let the lentils cool, then drain them very well and pick out and discard the sage and garlic. You'll have about 2 cups cooked lentils.

Make the dressing: Mix together the ground coriander and cumin in a small bowl. Mash the garlic clove to a paste with 1 teaspoon salt in a mortar. Combine the mashed garlic, the tahini paste, 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1 teaspoon of the ground spice mixture, and 2 tablespoons water in a bowl. Stir the mixture well. Have a taste and consider adding another teaspoon of lemon.

Assemble the salad: Toss the lentils with the drained chickpeas, preserved lemon rind, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the tahini dressing and toss it all together really well.
Put the onion slices in a medium bowl and break them up with your fingers. Sprinkle in 2 good pinches of salt, then add two teaspoons of lemon juice. Add the 2 remaining teaspoons olive oil and the cilantro and toss gently but well. Crumble in the cheese. Give it another gentle toss.
Scatter a few handfuls of the chickpea-lentil mixture onto a large platter in one layer. Scrape the onion and cheese mixture into the bowl with the rest of the lentils and chickpeas and toss it gently so the ingredients are well distributed but the cilantro stays pert. Scatter this mixture on top of the lentils and chickpeas on the platter. Sprinkle on some of the remaining spice mixture and then the sesame seeds and serve.

Have a great week everyone!

meal plan . . .

MONDAY - chicken & rice casserole with salad

TUESDAY - swiss chard pie & bake mashed potatoes

WEDNESDAY - (date night) corn dogs and peas

THURSDAY - tangy chicken & crock pot black beans

FRIDAY - spaghetti (left over sauce) and french bread

SATURDAY - creamy crock pot chicken over rice and cut up veggies

SUNDAY - go out to dinner


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TUESDAY - swiss chard pie & baked mashed potatoes

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from Real Simple . . .

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WEDNESDAY - it's our date night, so as usual it's a very simple night of cooking for me!

Trader Joe's corn dogs and big favorite around here!  We had them last Wednesday.

Frozen peas  :)

THURSDAY - Tangy BBQ chicken, rice & crock pot black beans (the leftover beans will be used in Saturday nights meal)

I got this recipe from Elle magazine.  When I start the black beans (6 hours before dinner) I am going to make the marinade so the chicken has plenty of time to marinate.  It seems like this

may be too spicy for the kids, but I am going to go for it anyway.  I may have to serve them cheese and crackers along with the black beans.  We shall see!!  Also, don't forget to make your rice!

  • 4 chicken thighs (I am going to use breasts)
  • 2-7.5 ounce cans of chipotle peppers in adobo
  • 8 large garlic cloves
  • 2 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Jack Daniels or other whiskey

Combine ALL ingredients (except chicken) in food processor or blender and blend until smooth.  In a zip lock bag add the chicken and pour the marinate over the top.  Let it sit.  An hour before dinner heat up the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the chicken and sauce in a baking dish and bake for 45 minutes.  Plate the chicken over white rice or serve solo.

BLACK BEANS - This is so easy!  Grab the following . . . 1 pound of dried black beans, 1 white onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 bay leaf and 6 cups of water.  Rinse your beans and remove and rocks or debris.  Chop up the onion into BIG chunks, throw in the crock pot with everything but the salt.  Cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours on LOW for 6-8 hours.  In the last 20-30 minutes of cooking add the salt.  That's it!

 FRIDAY - Spaghetti and french bread

I made spaghetti sauce a few weeks ago and froze it.  So I am going to pull this out, boil up some noodles and serve.  When I make spaghetti sauce I doctor up the yummy jarred stuff.  So I usually add grated zucchini, diced up spinach, canned diced tomatoes, one pound of ground beef, a diced carrot, two cloves of diced garlic and a diced bell pepper.  It tastes great and is so healthy.  I serve with City Sour French Bread I buy from Costco.  I simply heat it up in the oven.


Here's where we use the leftover beans from Thursday night.  Serve this dish over rice or pasta.

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meal plan . . .

MONDAY:  teriyaki marinated flank stead, roasted potatoes and salad


TUESDAY:  chili in the can doctored up w/ veggies, bread and sliced cheese


WEDNESDAY:  corn dogs (from Trader Joe's) & veggie sticks


THURSDAY: broccoli and chicken alfredo


FRIDAY:  snack plate


SATURDAY:  crock pot sesame chicken and sliced oranges


SUNDAY:  kids cooking . . . black bean sweet potato enchiladas


m o n d a y

FLANK STEAK: Marinate flank steak in teriyaki sauce all day.  Broil flank steak on a broil pan for 7 minutes on each side.

POTATOES:  Slice one pound of baby potatoes in half, add a few tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper if you are feelin' fancy.  Spray a cookie sheet with pam and roast the potatoes (flat side down) at 450 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

SALAD:  Grab a bag of salad, add some chopped veggies and add dressing.


t u e s d a y

CHILI:  Here is my plan . . . I ordered 3 cans of vegetarian mild Amy's chili.  In the crock pot an hour before dinner, I am going to dump the chili in with 1 cup of chopped spinach, 1 can of diced tomatoes, 1 clove of diced garlic, 1 bell pepper diced (orange or yellow), 1/2 an onion diced.  I'm gonna let it heat up and serve it with french bread and sliced cheese.


w e d n e s d a y

This morning I swam early and then swapped the kiddos with my husband.  He went to play tennis and we went to Trader Joe's.  We don't go often so when we do it's a food adventure.  We picked up TJ turkey corn dogs.  Since it's date night, I am cooking those up with some sliced up veggies.


t h u r s d a y

Don't be too impressed here, but this just looked so good on this rainy Portland day.  I am going to doctor this up with some shredded zucchini and green bell pepper.


f r i d a y

I wasn't sure of our plans for the afternoon and since we just made a huge hall at Trader Joe's I thought a snack plate would be perfect for dinner.  So I am going pull out all our yummy healthy food, plate it up like a caterer and serve.


s a t u r d a y

SESAME CHICKEN IN THE CROCK POT and I am serving it with sliced oranges.  I am also substituting the tomato sauce for ketchup.

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s u n d a y

Normally we go out to dinner as a family, but I really want to get the kids cooking in the kitchen.  So tonight my step-son and I will be cooking Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas with chips and salsa.

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Have a great week everyone!  And please feel free to share recipes.  XO

meal plan . . .

Have a yummy week of eating everyone!  Here are some GREAT recipes.  Enjoy!

MONDAY: baked garlic brown sugar chicken and asparagus

TUESDAY:  pasta with pesto sauce w/ chopped up cucumber, celery, carrots and ranch dressing

WEDNESDAY:  cheese pizza

THURSDAY:  meatloaf & roasted potatoes

FRIDAY:  broccoli & beef OVER rice

SATURDAY:  shrimp and pea pasta w/ a fresh herb dressing & spinach salad (you have to try this salad!)

SUNDAY:  going out to eat!

H E R E    A R E    T H E    R E C I P E S !

MONDAY - I haven't cooked this chicken recipe before, but it looks so good.  I found the recipe on line.  I have cooked this asparagus recipe before and it's AWESOME!

Here is the link to the chicken recipe.

Asparagus:  One pound of asparagus trimmed and tossed with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper.  Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.  Enjoy!

TUESDAY - Pasta with pesto sauce and chopped up veggies with ranch for dipping.

I like to make my own pasta sauce.  It's so easy and I can doctor it up with tons of extra veggies.  Ina Garten has a great pesto recipe  You can add shredded zucchini and chopped spinach to the food processor to add some extra veggies and still have great flavor.

WEDNESDAY - It's date night for us, so the kiddos will be enjoying frozen cheese pizza for dinner.    :)


THURSDAY - meatloaf & roasted potatoes

Meatloaf - This a great recipe that has evolved over time.  My husband doesn't care for meatloaf, but when I made this years ago he loved it.  Give it a try!

  • 1 1/2 - 2 pounds of ground beef or sirloin
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cups spinach, chopped very small
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs or panko
  • 2 tablespoons dijon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup of ketchup
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix all the ingredients (except for the ketchup) together in a large bowl.
  3. On a broil pan, form a 10 inch loaf with your meat mixture.
  4. Spread ketchup on top of loaf.
  5. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes.


  • 1 pound mini red potatoes, sliced in half
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Mix oil and spices together.
  3. In a large bowl combine potatoes and oil mixture and mix.
  4. Place potatoes on a cookie sheet, flat size down.
  5. Bake 30 minutes, check after 20 minutes.

FRIDAY - broccoli & beef served over rice serve over rice

SATURDAY - both these recipes are AWESOME!

Pasta recipe (I just use any type of pasta) -

Salad recipe -


Have a great week everyone!

meal planning . . .

Hi all!  Busy day in our household!  We spent the morning hiking along the Columbia River and then went to Kruger Farms for some produce shopping and lunch.  If you are looking for a fun afternoon, this would be my recommendation until the weather turns (that's if you live in Portland, Oregon). As I mentioned the other day this is going to be the 'week of easy.'  So this week's meal plan will make you smile!  You won't be spending much time in the kitchen and all the meals are pretty healthy.

MONDAY - black beans, quesadillas and veggies

TUESDAY - chili (use leftover black beans), bread and cheese

WEDNESDAY - snack plate

THURSDAY - spaghetti

FRIDAY - tacos (use the rest of the black beans)

SATURDAY - baked potatoes (top with leftover chili) and cheese

SUNDAY - go out to eat



BLACK BEANS - This is so easy!  Grab the following . . . 1 pound of dried black beans, 1 white onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 bay leaf and 6 cups of water.  Rinse your beans and remove and rocks or debris.  Chop up the onion into BIG chunks, throw in the crock pot with everything but the salt.  Cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours on LOW for 6-8 hours.  In the last 20-30 minutes of cooking add the salt.  That's it!

QUESADILLAS - I am probably going to just make plain cheese quesadillas and serve the beans on the side with some chopped up veggies and ranch dressing for dipping.



  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pack of chili seasoning or make your own, super easy
  • leftover black beans from Monday night's meal
  • 1-2 red, green, orange or yellow bell pepper chopped up
  • 1 cup spinach, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (if you have it) and FYI tomato paste is a GREAT thing to freeze
  • 1 clove of garlic, diced
  • handful of chocolate chips, trust me on this one!
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1-2 celery stalks, diced

Brown your meat.  Throw everything in the crock pot and cook on LOW for 3-4 hours.  I am going to serve ours with french bread and sliced cheese.  Enjoy!


SNACK PLATE - Most of you know the routine here.  Find all the healthy stuff in your pantry and fridge, make it look pretty on a plate and serve!



  • 1 jar of spaghetti sauce, your choice
  • 1 - 2 cups of spinach, diced
  • 1 pound of ground beef, cooked (you can also use turkey, morning star sausages or just skip the meat all together and double the veggies)
  • 1 tablespoon of italian seasoning (if you have it), if you don't throw in 1/2 teaspoon of all the green spices you have
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1/2 - 1 cup parmesan

Throw it all in a sauce pan on the stove and heat on low for an hour or so.  Serve over noodles and freeze the leftovers.  The best way to freeze stuff is in the heavy duty zip lock bags.  Label the bag, fill it up, lay it flat in the freezer and you have healthy spaghetti sauce for a later date!


TACOS - We aren't going to be too fancy here!  I am going to cook up some ground beef and add a packet of taco seasoning.  I am going to have this be build your own tacos.  Yes, our kitchen will be destroyed, but our dog will love it!

  • one bowl of shredded cheese
  • one bowl of mild salsa
  • one bowl of shredded iceberg
  • one bowl of ground beef
  • one bowl of cilantro, tomatoes and onion diced and mixed with a little olive oil

Build your own taco and eat!



Place your potatoes directly on the oven rack.  I put a cookie sheet covered with a piece of aluminum foil under the potatoes to catch any drippings.  Bake the potatoes for 60 minutes at 350 degrees.  Top potatoes with leftover chili and shredded cheese.  Serve with chopped up fruit or veggies.


Have a great week everyone!  And remember this week is the 'week of easy.'  All of my posts will be short and add a little ease to your life!

meal plan . . .

So this week is a lot of fun cooking and a lot of recipes I have not tried before.  I am excited to try them all.  If you cook any of these let me know what you think!  Have a great week everyone!  And happy first day of school.

MONDAY:  soba noodles with cilantro sauce, pot stickers (from costco) & cabbage salad

TUESDAY:  crock pot!  simple bbq chicken and cucumber avocado tofu salad

WEDNESDAY:  the famous snack plate (date night)

THURSDAY:  zucchini parmesan & emerald rice

FRIDAY:  bulgur with corn, garbanzo beans and chicken and black bean enchiladas

SATURDAY:  brats, green salad and cheese slices

SUNDAY:  go out to dinner

Here are the recipes or links . . .



  • mix the following ingredients in your food processor or blender and blend until smooth . . . 1/3 cup packed cilantro, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 small clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon size chunk of fresh ginger, 2 teaspoons of dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar and 3 tablespoons of peanut oil.
  • 8 ounces soba noodles, cooked according to package directions and cooled
  • 1 cucumber seeded, peeled and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, lightly toasted in a pan
  • 2 tablespoons jalapenos, sliced (I am only adding these to the adult servings)
  • mix all ingredients and dressing in one bowl and serve


  • you can be creative here and add any mixture of vegetables to this salad.  The dressing is so yummy it will all taste good!
  • 1 bag of shredded cabbage
  • 2 green onions diced
  • 2 carrots diced
  • whisk the following ingredients together for sauce, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon hot sauce, 1 teaspoon brown sugar.
  • mix it all together and serve


  • I buy them from Costco . . . heat and serve!



CUCUMBER AVOCADO TOFU SALAD (all ingredients are in green)

  • Whisk the following dressing together . . . 1/2 chopped cilantro, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup lemon juice (a little lime too if you want) and pinch of salt.
  • 4 small cucumbers diced and placed in a large bowl.
  • Add the above dressing to the diced cucumbers and let stand in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  • While the cucumbers are marinating.  Chop 14 ounces tofu, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces.  Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a pan and fry the tofu until lightly browned on each side.  Let the tofu cool
  • 1/4 pine nuts, lightly toasted in a pan
  • Spoon the cucumbers from the marinate, add the cooled tofu, the pine nuts, and half the dressing.  If you need more dressing add it.  Dish up salad and top with chopped avocado.


  • the famous snack plate!  pull out everything healthy in your pantry and fridge.  Pretend you are a caterer, chop it all up pretty, plate it up and serve.
  • ideas . . . peanuts, chopped fruit, yogurt raisins, crackers with hummus, crackers with cheese, nuts, carrots, celery with cream cheese and raisins, rice cakes, cucumber slices, pickles



I could not order poblano chilies for our grocery delivery, so I ordered anaheim chilies instead.emerald rice


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There is a Sausage Fest in Vancouver, Washington next weekend.  So I thought it would be fun after we do the Color Run and after one of the kiddos soccer games to head up there and get some bratwursts for dinner.  I hope they sell bratwursts at a sausage festival?!  With our brats we are going to have a green salad and sliced cheese.


Mama's night off from cooking!  We are going out to dinner.  Have a great week everyone.  Please email me kalport@hotmail.comnwith any questions or comments.  All the best!