On Mondays, We Meal Plan!

This Meme has been cracking me up all week!  Even funnier was recently listening to my husband explain to someone how easy it is to meal plan each week.  Don’t get me wrong, he is a huge help in the planning and making of the food and even sometimes in the shopping.  But for a guy who used to live on pizza and Chinese take out to begin describing the benefits of a weekly meal plan…you gotta smile : )

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Monday was super quiet.  Actually, our whole weekend was pretty quiet (on purpose) and I reaped the benefits Monday.  After a trip to Costco and the grocery store, I had the afternoon to myself.  I watched a little TV and then started working on dinners.  My meal planning experts, crockpot and Dutch Oven, were both in use when I curled up on the couch to read in my snuggie.

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On the stove, Monday night’s dinner from the Everyday Food cookbook, an easy one pot Moroccan Chicken.  I’m always a little skeptical of one pot recipes, so I upped the spice a bit.  I will warn you that it looks like there are way more veggies than liquid, but it all works out.  I also subbed in cauliflower for the zucchini which was a success!

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Dinner was ready right as the hubs walked in the door.  We had some leftover Thai rice that went perfectly with our dinner.  Since I was too tired/lazy to make any.

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My honest opinion on this dinner is that I like some of my crockpot recipes better because the flavor is stronger and more infused throughout.  However, in a pinch, this recipe comes together quickly and tastes great!  I ended up with a slight headache so went to bed early on Monday and decided not to wake up and run this morning.  I am feeling better but back in my snuggie on the couch : )

 

Meal Planning 2/08/16

Monday: Moroccan Chicken

Tuesday: Easy Asian Sweet Chili Chicken (crockpot recipe coming soon!)

Wednesday: Tilapia and Veggies

Thursday: TBD

 

Moroccan Chicken

From Martha Stewart Everyday Food

Ingredients

  • 8 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 3 carrots, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 3 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 can whole tomatoes (14 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 can chickpeas (15 1/2 ounces), drained and rinsed
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken stock, or reduced-sodium canned broth
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. In a Dutch oven, combine chicken, carrots, onions, tomatoes, chickpeas, (cauliflower if using), stock, water, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, chili powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Break up the tomatoes with a spoon.

  2. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Add zucchini, and cook until chicken is cooked through, yet still tender, about 15 minutes more..

  3. Serve with rice or couscous.  Tastes great day two!

 

Do you meal plan?  Any tips or favorite recipes to share?

I Think I Used to Make Dinner

I seem to remember when I started this blog, there was a lot of cooking, baking, and recipes going on.  Sometime last year, as life got complicated and stressful, I decided that some aspects of my life needed to be simplified.  I don’t think it was a conscious decision to have making dinner on that list, but it seems over the past 6 months, I have relaxed a bit on the cooking…in a good way!  It has been easy to share that responsibility with the BOY since he is home early some nights and loves to grill.   This weekend, I had some spare time and was more than happy to get myself back into the kitchen for some cooking.

 

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I made a few remakes of old recipes from the blog (if you haven’t seen my recipe page, it’s pretty expansive) and one new recipe from a cookbook.  To keep things simple, I used a crockpot cookbook and a recipe that uses easy to find household ingredients.

 

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This meal was planned for tonight, but I made it yesterday while I was embracing my productivity.  This ended up working out well, so that the BOY could heat up his dinner when he got home from the library which is before I get home from work.

 

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Except…that the BOY forgot whether he was supposed to eat the Indian or the Asian food in the fridge for dinner tonight.  He went with the curry (don’t tell him that he ate eggplant, he doesn’t know), which left plenty of this delicious dinner for me!

 

 

Kung Pao Chicken

From Slow Cook It (a weight watchers cookbook)

 

Ingredients

3 Tbsp hoisin sauce  

3 Tbsp sherry, dry or sweet (or sub in low sodium chicken broth)

3 Tbsp ketchup  

2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce  

2 tsp ginger root, thin strips peeled  

1 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (adjust to make more or less spicy)

1 pound uncooked boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed  

8 oz canned water chestnuts, drained

2 Tbsp water  

1 Tbsp cornstarch  

1package frozen stirfry veggies, thawed

 

Directions

Combine hoisin sauce, sherry, ketchup, soy sauce, ginger and red pepper flakes in a 5-6 quart slow cooker.

Stir in chicken and water chestnuts. Cover cook until chicken is tender 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.  *I ended up cooking mine for about 5 hours on low.

About 20 minutes before cooking is complete, mix up cornstarch and water until smooth. Stir in cornstarch and veggies into slow cooker. Cover and cook on high until mixture simmers and thickens and veggies are tender (about 15 minutes).

Serve with brown rice or noodles.

What Do You Do?

In all seriousness, what will I blog about when there are beautiful blue skies and no weather to complain about?!

Luckily my ticket to Florida to celebrate the birthday of #Grandpa Al in April just got booked, so we will find out : )

 

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Onto another serious matter…Dinner!

Food Bloggers-What do you do when you make a great recipe but don’t get a good picture of it?!  Last night’s meal was Crockpot Chicken Pesto from my 150 Healthiest Crockpot Recipes Book (seriously everything I make from here is golden!).  Tuesday morning, I chopped the shallots.  Tuesday afternoon, the BOY did the rest.  Note: this was an easy recipe that I might have done ahead of time but we didn’t have room in our fridge for the full crockpot and I didn’t want chicken sitting out all day.  End Note: I really didn’t think it was necessary to take a picture of the shallots.

 

Tuesday was a longer day than expected and I came back, just drained!  I walked in at 9pm not even sure if I was going to eat dinner, but the sweet smell of pesto did me in.  I took a small bowl of the chicken and mushroom mix and ate it standing while I unpacked my bag, debated doing some work, and changed into my PJ’s.  I then proceeded to clean up the kitchen putting dinner in a tuperware in the fridge.  It didn’t even occur to me to take a photo and I certainly didn’t have the energy to stage it as a real meal (like with veggies and some rice).

 

But, this dinner was fantastic, so I’d hate for ya’ll to miss out, but a blog post without pictures?  That is so not me!

 

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Insert random picture of car covered in snow this morning…

 

And so I have decided to share the link because this recipe is worth checking out and then post about this recipe in full the next time the BOY cooks with the crockpot : )  No, I will make it way before then!

 

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As a consolation, I do have an updated photo from yesterday’s chili to show you, and I can tell you that it is filling and fantastic!  And totally worth making for one last pre spring crockpot recipe!

 

 

Ok, so what do you do when blog posts don’t go according to plan?

Comfort Stew

After a rainy week and a mostly gray weekend, I felt like some soup was in order.

 

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Monday was a busy day in the kitchen…possibly more so since I was gone the week before and was looking forward to planning meals this week.  For week day lunches, I decided on Curried Lentil, Squash, and Apple Stew from Chloe’s Kitchen.

 

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It was quite an arm workout to cut the squash.

 

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I wasn’t much in the mood to take photos along the way, but I had to share the finished product!

 

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Almost on cue as I added the curry, the BOY appeared.  I had to laugh at his predictability!  I poured a bowl to take to work and saved the rest for later in the week.

 

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Dinners this week are going to be simple.  We have plenty of leftovers to get us though the week!

 

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This morning I am still trying to wrap my brain around yesterday’s tragedy.  What is there to say when I have so many questions?  Although I am building my skills as a ‘writer’, I can’t think of the words that will convey my grief and disbelief while capturing the significance of what happened.  In my opinion, runners (and triathletes) are the friendliest and most welcoming group of people.  They are supportive and empathetic…I can’t imagine anyone choosing to target such a group.  And maybe it’s because I know the elated feeling that you are supposed to have when you cross the finish line after running 26.2 miles that I feel even more sad for the runners, volunteers and spectators who will never look at the sport the same.

 

I know that this stew won’t bring with it real comfort, but there is no doubt in my mind that the blogging community (many of whom are runners) will ban together like it always does to offer support, encouragement, and love to those in Boston and beyond…and that is comforting to know!

 

 

 

Curried Lentil, Squash and Apple Stew

From Chloe’s Kitchen

Makes 6 Servigs

 

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 cup dried lentils
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups peeled butternut squash (1/2-inch cubes)
1 large unpeeled apple, diced
5 ounces baby spinach

 

Directions

In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat, and sauté onion and carrot until almost soft. Add garlic, ginger, curry and salt, and let cook a few more minutes until fragrant.

Stir in lentils, broth and tomato paste. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Add squash and apple, cover and simmer for another 25 minutes (because my squash cubes were so big, this was 50 minutes for me), or until vegetables and lentils are tender. Remove lid and stir in spinach until wilted. Add salt to taste and serve.

All Done

The BOY and I are All Done with Passover!

As is his tradition, he had pizza for dinner.  I’d show you a picture but the entire pie was gone by the time I walked in the door after work.

I wanted something a little healthier and because it’s a week night…easy!

 

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I found this delicious looking recipe in Mama Pea’s cookbook for Thai Veggie Burgers.

 

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I prepped my ingredients in the food processor last night and then refrigerated them.  I have never tried this with veggie burgers before, but I figured it it worked, it would be a great way to make healthy weeknight meals.

 

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When I came home, I heated up a skillet and rolled out my burgers.

 

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I fried the burgers in cooking spray ~7 minutes each side until they were warm on the inside and crispy along the edges.

 

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The Thai flavor in these burgers is strong and the texture is spot-on.  I ate my burger plain with a side of green beans.  The premade burger mixture worked perfectly!  I will definitely do it again!

 

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For dessert, I whipped up a batch of Mama Pea’s brownies (that I found a few pages later).  The toughest part was making these yesterday and having to wait to eat them today.

 

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I was a little nervous because they are healthy and vegan (although I didn’t use vegan chocolate chips, so they are not fully vegan).

 

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I sprinkled the top with powdered sugar, and the BOY and I dug into them right after dinner.

 

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I was a little nervous that he would notice the texture difference in the brownies, but he grabbed them and ran.

 

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When I asked about the brownies, he answered with a nod, smile, and a mouth full of chocolate.  That’s usually a good sign : )  These brownies are rich and cake-like…you’ll never know that they are healthy (whole wheat flour) and vegan (minus the chocolate chips)!  I bet you have all the ingredients in your house right now, so go preheat your oven.

 

On the exercise front…

I got in my first double workout this morning.  I was at the track early for a 30 minute run before changing into my bathing suit for a 15 minute swim.  It was an awesome workout with some well-deserved hot tub time at the end.  I am super sore from ‘Barbara Lite’ yesterday, and I am hoping to get registered for my triathlon this week!

 

 

Here are the recipes for Thai Veggie Burgers and Double Chocolate/Single Chin Brownies from Peas and Thank You.

Enjoy!!!

This Week in Meal Planning

Well, it’s only taken me to February 18th to get back into the swing of Meal Planning.  And it’s taken me until Wednesday to get this post out to you (mostly because yesterday’s post was all about marathon registration stress).  But, better late than never…right?!  The BOY has jumped on board the 2013 get healthy bandwagon.  He has always been a big help with meal planning, but we have some noticeable differences in our taste preferences.  To help me out and give me some suggestions for meals, he went through a few of my favorite cookbooks and ear marked some recipes to try.

 

Which is exactly where I started.  Although the BOY and I eat a variety of cuisines, I don’t always know how to cook ethnic foods at home. 

But this week, I spiced things up a bit…

 

Monday: Curried Veggie Burgers from Pinch of Yum

 

Tuesday: Veggie Rich Asian Chicken Stew (recipe below)

 

Wednesday: Chicken Tacos (made by the BOY)

 

Thursday: Sleeping at Mom and Dad’s

 

 

The Game Plan…

Make Tuesday’s dinner Monday in the crockpot. 

Then whip up the veggie burgers for Monday’s dinner hoping for leftovers for lunch this week (which I got).

 

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Isn’t this a colorful looking stew???

 

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The veggies, seasoning, and broth go into the crockpot first.

 

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With a half our to go, you add the chicken (or tofu if you prefer).  Could this be any easier?!

 

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The BOY was upset with how watery our dinner was.  Once I explained that it was a soup, he seemed a little more on board…ha ha!

 

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Per the title, this soup is definitely veggie rich and I LOVED the flavor and texture of the cabbage.

 

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Although it doesn’t have a super strong flavor, so you could possibly add some soy sauce to taste.  I really enjoyed the mild flavored soup with a touch of sea salt.  It is the perfect heart warming dinner for these frozen nights!

 

 

Veggie Rich Asian Chicken Stew

From The 150 Healthiest Slow Cooker Recipes on Earth

 

Ingredients

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on a diagonal

2 ribs celery, sliced on the diagonal

1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and julienned

1 1/2 ups thinly sliced Napa cabbage

1 can (8 ounces) sliced water chestnuts, rinsed and drained

1 can (8 ounces) bamboo shoots, rinsed and drained

6 cups chicken broth

2 tbsp minced fresh ginger

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 tbsp low sodium tamari

1 tbsp mirin

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes

scallions and black sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

 

Directions

Combine the onion, carrots, celery, bell pepper, cabbage, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, broth, ginger, garlic, tamari, and mirin in the slow cooker. 

Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, until all of the the vegetables are tender. 

Add the chicken (and tofu if using) for the last half hour of cooking time.  Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.

A Crockpot Kind of Day

Isn’t every day a crockpot kind of day?

 

I know today is!  Even though I made this for Sunday night dinner, tonight is just as wet and icy.  Which is crazy considering yesterday was 60 degrees and I was running outside before work.  I said to the BOY that I don’t know of anyone else who uses their crockpot as often as we do.  We had a cold and lazy weekend, so when I woke up Sunday morning, I immediately went searching through my cookbooks before heading out to the grocery store.  With an ice storm heading our way, there was a chance that we’d be spending all day indoors (which is exactly what happened).  For lunch, I made the most amazing Lentil Chili.  Then after the Indiana game, the BOY helped me throw dinner into the crockpot.

 

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He chopped up the onion, red pepper, and chicken, and I told him he would definitely get props when I posted this recipe on the BLOG.

 

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I pulled out the food processor to make homemade peanut butter and then used it to make the peanut sauce.

 

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This recipe is perfect for two people because we were quickly able to get chicken and veggies in the crockpot and this sauce pureed in the food processor.

 

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I include this second picture just so you can see how liquidy the peanut sauce is.  This worried me a bit, but everything thickened up in the crockpot.

 

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The other benefit of having a friend in the kitchen (besides the fact that I like hanging out with the BOY) is that they can take some action shots!

 

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So I should preface this by telling you that although I truly enjoy peanut butter, I’ve never been a huge fan of peanut flavored chicken when eating out.

 

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However, this dish is UN-BE-LIEVE-ABLE!

 

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The light peanut taste blends beautifully with the strong Asian flavors and hint of a kick!

 

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And if possible, I found this even better leftover for lunch!  The flavors were stronger, and I ate slowly savoring each and every bite.  Based on the BOY’s reaction, I definitely see this recipe getting moved into our monthly rotation, and I have been sharing the recipe with everyone I know.  As a confused mother nature continues to throw thunderstorms, hail, snow, and ice our way, there is no better appliance than your slow cooker to create healthy comfort food! 

Let me know what you’ve been making to stay warm this winter and Stay Safe!

 

 

Clean Peanutty Thai Chicken

Form The 150 Healthiest Slow Cooker Recipes on Earth

 

Ingredients

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (I recommend homemade)

1/2 cup chicken broth (or homemade stock)

1/4 cup low-sodium tamari sauce

juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

4 cloves garlic, minced

1-inch chunk peeled fresh ginger

1 tbsp honey

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes  *can adjust or omit to change the heat of the dish!

1 sweet onion, chopped

1 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and chopped

1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, chopped

 

Directions

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the peanut butter, broth, tamari, lime juice, vinegar, garlic, ginger, honey, and red pepper flakes. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary, and set aside.

Combine the onion, bell pepper, and chicken in the slow cooker and pour the sauce evenly over all.  Stir gently to coat.  Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or low for 5 to 6 hours until the chicken is cooked through but still juicy.  Don’t overcook!