Tuesdays Tangents on Meal Planning

How do you pick your food for the week?

Since we meal plan, this is usually done Sunday or Monday and goes a little something like this…

How much time do I have to meal plan?  Tons…let’s look through books and pinterest and find some fun new things to try.  None…and it’s back to the the usual turkey tacos and crockpot chicken.

After that, it’s on to…What do we have in the house?  What have we not eaten in awhile?

And then most importantly…What can I do Monday for the week ahead?  What meat will last until later in the week?  And, how much time do we have each night to make dinner?  On my late nights, I get home close to 8 (tonight it was 8:45!) so the answer is no time.  Other nights, I’m home closer to 7, so there is time to throw something together.  Question is…do I want to?!

I’m lucky because the BOY is into cooking and super helpful in the kitchen (unless you include putting his dishes in the dishwasher).  Ha ha!

It’s easy to make Tuesday’s dinner on Monday in the crockpot because the flavors are usually even better the next day and I typically have leftovers for lunch on Wednesday.  Which is exactly what I did this week…


This recipe is an exciting version of 2 Ingredient Chicken. Super easy and VERY flavorful!  I almost didn’t get this post out to you tonight and certainly didn’t get to take any pictures due to the late arrival home.


So you’ll just have to trust me that this makes a great and versatile make ahead dinner and give it a try yourself!


Meal Planning 2/15/16

Monday: Island Pork Tenderloin

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken

Wednesday: Sausage and Veggies

Thursday: Take Out Something

Friday: Fish and Veggies

What are you eating this week?

Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken

From Carls Bad Cravings


  • 2 pounds chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup mild salsa (medium if you like spicy)
  • 1 4 oz. can mild green chilies
  • 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • hot sauce to taste


  1. Rub chicken breasts with oil and place in the bottom of your slow cooker. Add all of the remaining ingredients except for the hot sauce. Cook on high for 2-4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours or until chicken is tender enough to shred.
  2. Remove chicken to a cutting board, and let rest 5 minutes before shredding (there will be liquid remaining). Return shredded chicken and let cook on low for an additional 20 minutes to absorb some of the liquid/juices. Drain all excess liquid. Taste and add hot sauce to taste if desired.

See Website for Notes!

Fall Fiesta {Part Tres}

That’s it…I’ve decided to make the Fall Fiesta our annual tradition!

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Mustaches included!  After the success of our Wine About Winter Party, we discovered that our friends don’t drink much wine, but that they love to celebrate and have a good time!  So, we decided to add a beer tasting element to this year’s fiesta.  Each couple brought a 6 pack for everyone to try.


Votes were tallied and prizes were awarded!  And then dinner (fajitas) were served.


Followed by more games, beer trivia, and shenanigans!




In the end, our party was a HUGE success!


In the past, I have made baked and cooked a lot more for the party.  This year, I kept it simple. I made a Layered Mexican Salad  (sans chicken), my favorite Sangria, and a fantastic (and really easy) Churro Cheesecake.


And I can’t even take credit, since my friend did most of the work on the salad : )


A huge thank you to our incredible group of friends!


We are so lucky to have such a great crew!  Cheers to more celebrations to come!

Sore Sunday + Tamale Pie

It was a week on the go that ended with a full Friday.  The BOY and I played tennis at 8pm, which was really fun and  a great way to get in a workout on Friday, my usual day off.  I was up early Saturday morning debating if I had time to fit in some exercise.  I ended up taking a Core Twist class at the yoga studio.  It turned out to be less yoga and more twisting : )  We did maybe 30 minutes of standing ab work holding a large exercise ball (it was brutal) before transitioning to some floor work.  On my way home, I picked up Mediterranean for lunch and a HUGE cupcake for that night’s birthday celebration.  I had just enough time to eat lunch and change my clothes before the BOY and I were back in the car for our official last tennis lesson.



I finally wore my new Happy Socks….so cute!


After tennis, it was another quick transition before heading off to the casino with my family to celebrate my parent’s birthdays.  There was more tennis, in the form of Wii tournaments all throughout Saturday night.  As of Sunday evening, everything is sore!  My abs hurt every time I breath and especially when I twist.  My legs are sore, my shoulders are sore, and my wrists are sore.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the feeling of a good sore!  But it did play a role in my decision to take the day off of exercise.  That combined with all the new snow and the fact that I fell asleep on the couch with Cooper instead of going to the gym : )  Tomorrow is my weekly training session, so I know more soreness is coming my way.  And, the BOY and I have decided to keep Monday as tennis day (even though our lessons are over), so we rented the ball machine again on Monday afternoon.




Having nothing to do with soreness, I made a Tamale Pie for dinner tonight which we ate while watching the Oscar’s and then finished off the rest of my Dad’s ice cream birthday cake with forks on the couch (also while watching the Oscars).


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This recipe was suggested by my brother’s finance before our grocery store outing this morning.  It looked easy enough to pull together on this lazy Sunday without looking (or tasting) like a lazy meal!




What I ended up doing was making my favorite 2 Ingredient Crockpot Chicken when I got back from the grocery store and used that as the shredded chicken in the pie.  My thought regarding future meal plans…this is the perfect opportunity to make a huge batch of chicken to eat day one and then use the leftovers in this amazing pie day two.




Unfortunately, this recipe doesn’t picture nearly as good as it tastes.  Although that could also be due to my lack of food photography skill and the fact that I was just really excited to dig into dinner!




There is a great kick in the corn bread and I’m pretty sure it will be just as tasty, if not more so, for lunch tomorrow before tennis.



#Leftovers Rock!


Do you like to be sore?

Are you watching the Oscars?




Meal Planning 3/02/14

Sunday: Chicken Tamale Pie


Monday: Honey Sesame Chicken


Tuesday: Baked Shells with Winter Squash


Wednesday: Salmon with Veggies


Thursday: Leftovers




Chicken Tamale Pie

From Pinch of Yum, adapted from Cooking Light



⅓ cup fat free milk

¼ cup egg substitute

1½ tablespoon taco seasoning, divided

1 (14¾ ounce) can cream-style corn

1 (8.5 ounce) box corn muffin mix (I used Jiffy)

1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained

1 (10 ounce) can red enchilada sauce

2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (I used 2 Ingredient Chicken)

1-2 cups shredded cheese.



Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine the first 7 ingredients (milk through green chiles), using just ½ tablespoon of the taco seasoning, in a large bowl, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into a round pie plate (mine was glass) coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 400° for 25 minutes. While corn is baking, toss the chicken in the remaining 1 tablespoon taco seasoning.  Or just use the salsa chicken.  When corn is done – it will be just barely set and golden brown – pierce entire surface liberally with a fork (it might stick a little bit to the fork). Pour enchilada sauce over top. Top with chicken; sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces.

This, That, and Another Thing (or Two)

After a whirlwind holiday weekend filled with food, family, dreydal, more food, and a massive parade…and maybe throw in a bar crawl and some NYC love, I have returned home. 


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Obviously, I am excited to share my stories of holiday shenanigans, but after 6 months, my fun employment has come to an end : (  Tomorrow, I am starting my new job and I had a lot to catch up on today.  Some of it boring (does anyone do as much laundry as I do?) while other things more fulfilling (I did buy another new pair of shoes at Nordstrom Rack today).  And got in a 4 mile run along the path this morning before ending my errands at the grocery store.  The BOY is in the midst of finals and I am starting a totally new schedule, but we gave meal planning a go for this week, but kept it simple.


Meal Plan 12/02/13

Monday: Fajita Night


Tuesday: Cherry BBQ Crockpot Pulled Chicken


Wednesday: Leftovers


Thursday: Pork Tenderloin and Broccoli


Friday: TBD





The pulled chicken was super easy.  Just place 1 cup of BBQ sauce (preferably awesome and from Door County) in the bottom of your crockpot.  Add two chicken breasts and cook on low.  When chicken is tender and starting to pull apart, shred with two forks and let heat in pot for another 30 minutes.  Mmmmm!




I definitely missed the BOY while I was gone, but couldn’t believe how big (and heavy) Cooper looked when I got back last night.  After he thoroughly inspected my bags, we wasted no time assuming our cuddled up position on the couch!




On a blog related note, I came home to 197 messages in my SPAM, so I obviously didn’t read through all of them.  I apologize if you left me a message that got lost in Spam Land.


And one last thing to share (I promise because I have to go to bed early and if I keep sharing we could be here all night), I entered the 2014 NYC Marathon Lottery today.  Fingers crossed and I’ll be running through all 5 boroughs next November.



Reunited with my Running Shoes

It’s been 8 days since the Chicago Marathon, and I was finally reunited with my running shoes.




It felt great to tie up my laces, but I needed a few extra layers compared with my previous runs due to the 40 degree temps!




I may have overdone it a bit with the layers and was sweating less than a mile in!  My legs were heavy and obviously still tired from last weekend’s race.  I ran 4 miles at a comfortable pace, which ended up being slightly over 9 minute miles.  My run did get rerouted towards the end when there was a coyote on the trail.  Yikes!  At least I think it was a coyote. I didn’t get close enough to investigate further.




Yesterday during meal prep day, I decided to also get started on a meal for tonight’s dinner.




I thought it would be easy to get most of the work done last night and then either the BOY or I could finish the casserole and throw it in the oven tonight.  I put the cheese and salsa in a place where I knew he would find them in case he was the first one home.




I adjusted the original recipe a bit, but didn’t lose any of the flavor.


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As life has it, the BOY got stuck on the train for over an hour and I was trapped late at work, so things didn’t go according to plan when we both walked in the door at 8pm.  We had a quick snack and waited while the oven heated up.




It was totally worth the wait!  Although I didn’t let it cool as directed, my casserole came out a bit like a mish mash.






Which wouldn’t be a big deal if I wasn’t a blogger : )  It is one of the tastiest blends of flavors with the perfect amount of kick.  When I asked the BOY if we should make this again, he said, ‘Oh…Yes!’ with much enthusiasm!




I’ve got more than enough for tomorrow night’s leftovers and an incredible new fall favorite recipe!



What is your favorite make ahead dish?

Please share your links!



Turkey Taco Casserole

Adapted from Eat, Live, Run to be a make ahead dish



a little over 1 lb lean ground turkey

1 4-oz cans diced green chilies

1 cup fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained

1 tbsp chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 flour tortillas, cut into 1″ strips

1/2 cup salsa, plus more for serving

1 1/2- 2 cups 2% Mexican blend cheese

Toppings: sour cream, avocado, etc.



Spray an 8″ square casserole pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray and place over medium high heat. Once hot, add the ground turkey. Brown turkey, breaking up the bits and pieces. When turkey has browned {but hasn’t quite cooked all the way through yet}, add the chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Mix well.

Add can of the diced green chilies to the turkey, along with the fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained. Stir well and continue to cook until turkey is completely done. Then, remove from heat.

Spread a thin layer of ground turkey at the bottom of your casserole pan. Top with a layer of cheese and tortilla slices.  Add another layer of turkey, tortillas, cheese and salsa.

Place in the oven for 30 minutes. Cheese will be melted and bubbling. When casserole comes out of the oven, let sit for 20 minutes before slicing. Serve with your favorite toppings!



Follow directions regarding browning and seasoning the turkey.  Stir in chilies and tomatoes.

Layer casserole as described without top layer of cheese and salsa.

Cover with foil and store in fridge.  Remove casserole from fridge and preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Add last layer of cheese and salsa.  Bake according to directions.



The original recipe calls for layering in refried beans into the casserole. I don’t like them, so I wanted to sub in some black beans, but I couldn’t find them in my overstuffed pantry!

Fall Fiesta Part Dos

Last year, the BOY and I had an end of summer Fiesta BBQ, and it was a BLAST!

So…we decided to do it again this year!




Last night, my girlfriends, their hubby’s, and adorable kids came over for delicious Mexican fajitas, sangria, and a super fun evening!  Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate as dark skies and storms rolled in as our first guests arrived.  I was a little worried since we wouldn’t be able to play outside, and the BOY and I don’t have tons of great kids toys, but luckily Cooper gave us some cred with the 2-4 year old age group.  The kids loved him and his toys, and he did fantastic with all of his new friends.




We BOY braved the rain to grill up some tender meat and chicken fajitas and we decided to roast the veggies in the oven.  The kids began the night with a few servings of blue box mac n cheese : ) 

For the first time, I made a batch of homemade salsa.




A coworker gave me a HUGE bag of tomatoes from her garden, which worked out fabulously!




I followed a recipe I found on My Frugal Adventure.  However, when I added the second batch of ingredients, I automatically hit ON instead of PULSE.




My salsa ended up a little too watery, which was nothing my strainer couldn’t fix!




Ta Da!  My first batch of salsa!




That really was soo easy, I will be making more again soon!




For dessert, I kept with the end of summer theme whipping up a batch of S’mores Bars from Averie Cooks.




I knew these bars looked spectacular and couldn’t wait to try them!




But you do have to let them cool before you slice them!




Or if you want to cut them immediately, place them in the freezer to cool for a few minutes.




To drink, I made a sweet batch of White Wine Sangria.




I just really hope that Cooper does not think he was helping me in the kitchen because I did all of the work!






You can find Averie’s recipe for Soft and Gooey Loaded S’mores Bars on her blog!

This morning, the skies are still dark with booming thunder and bright flashes of lightening.  The BOY and I are thrilled to have a house full of leftovers (including sangria and s’mores bars).



Mexican Breakfast



Simple Homemade Salsa

From My Frugal Adventure



6-8 fresh tomatoes

⅓ sweet onion roughly chopped

bunch of cilantro

1 jalapeno, deseeded and diced

1 lime


3 cloves of garlic



Roughly chop the tomato and place in a food processor or a blender.

Add the onion and cilantro and garlic.

Give the mixture a quick few chops in your mixer.

Slice one lime and squeeze the juice on top as well as a few pinches of salt and any other spices you want to add.

Add the pepper and blend.

For a chucky salsa you want to just do a few quick pulses in the food processer.



Thank you friends for an awesome evening!

We are looking forward to Fall Fiesta Part Tres in 2014!

Tex Mex Shredded Chicken

It’s a simple week of meal planning here…


Monday: Slow Cooker Shredded Tex Mex Chicken (recipe below)


Tuesday: Shrimp Stirfry


Wednesday: Chicken Sausage and Veggies


Thursday: Out to Eat


For lunch this week, I have Curried Red Lentil Soup with Kale.  Yum!



The best and easiest crockpot recipe that I know is this Two Ingredient Crockpot Chicken.  I share it with everyone who is looking to use their crockpot more often.  When I found this recipe for Shredded Tex Mex Chicken on Fearless Homemaker, it reminded me of a fancier, more complex version of my favorite.




This recipe takes just a few minutes longer to prep, but is worth the effort.




The addition of the jalapeno and lime are fantastic and give this dish robust flavor.




Instead of dicing my chicken, I got lazy and cooked them whole, which is another easy option.




When dinner was ready, the BOY made an overflowing Tex Mex sandwich with cheese and sour cream.




I opted for lettuce wraps (although I probably should have bought bigger lettuce leaves).




We were both big fans of Mexican flavor (in case you couldn’t tell by all the Fiesta posts this summer) and this dinner got thumbs up all around.  We also got a good laugh out of my mini lettuce wraps.




I ate my lettuce wraps with a side of broccoli, not because it actually goes with the meal, but because we had broccoli that needed to be cooked and topped with avocado.




One of my favorite things about this recipe is how versatile it is!  I have plenty of leftovers to eat during the week on a salad or wrapped up as a taco.  Meal planning this week is weather dependent.  We have a big storm blowing in and there is a chance that I will be staying at my parents.  Not to worry, I have left the BOY with plenty of healthy options to fend for himself!




Slow Cooker Shredded Tex Mex Chicken

From Fearless Homemaker



1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 jalapeno, seeded + minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-2″ pieces
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup (packed) cilantro leaves, chopped (I did not use these)
the juice of 2 limes



-Heat the oil in a medium-sized sauté pan. add the onion, sauté for 5 minutes. Add the cumin, chili powder, coriander, paprika, jalapeño, and garlic.  Sauté two more minutes. Transfer this mixture to the slow-cooker sprayed with cooking spray.

-Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt + pepper.  Add it to the pan where you cooked the onion and spices. Sear chicken on all sides.  Then transfer to the slow cooker.  Add I lime juice and cilantro and stir.

-Cook on low for 3-4 hours or if you have the time cook on high for 6-8 hours until chicken is cooked through.  The chicken pieces will be fall-apart tender at this point .  You can either leave them as is or shred them with two forks before returning them to the crockpot for another 30-60 minutes.

-Serve as tacos, in a sandwich, with lettuce wraps, or with rice.