September Menu ~ 2013

This month I am including breakfast and lunch recipes/ideas because we are a brown-bag kind of family. If you’ve been reading here long enough you know that Number Two isn’t a big lunch eater anyway, so not only is it economical for me to pack lunches for the kids, it also allows me to control how much potential waste there might be.

An example of this would be to pack Two only half a sandwich, about 4 carrot sticks and a PB-To-Go cup, maybe a dozen mini pretzels and a juice box. Other days I might give him a snack bag sized portion of veggie or tortilla chips and maybe 2 cookies along with his half sandwich or other “main” lunch item. And I can’t even be sure he eats all of that, little portions as they are. So you can see how getting something nutritional yet fun and tasty in him is important to me, and let’s face it, those school lunches aren’t very nutritious (no matter what their campaign says).

I have a lot of new and exciting recipes to share with you this month! Be sure to stay posted while I’m working on them and watch for the red links to appear as I post each one.

sept collage - ribbet

Dinner Meal Plan

Skillet Ratatouille and Chicken

Oven Baked Tacos

BBQ Salmon

Creamy Dijon Chicken and Mushrooms over Linguine

Black Bean Risotto

Slow Cooker Salisbury Steaks

Chicken Enchilada Soup (#2)

Pan-Seared Salmon with Basil Cream Sauce

Not Your Typical Rice & Beans

Sweet Chicken Rio with Cilantro Rice

Chicken Stroganoff

Caprese Quinoa Bake

Creamy Chicken Crock Pot Tacos

Crunchy Fish Tacos with Cilantro Cream Sauce

Buffalo Chicken Burgers

Salmon with Pasta and Creamy Tomato Basil Sauce

Chived Yorkshire Pudding

Oven Baked Potato Wedges

Chipotle Chicken & Corn Chowder

Lunch Meal Plan

Turkey and Cheese Roll-ups

Pizza Tarts

Chicken Taco Melts

BBQ Chicken Pinwheels

 Bacon and Gorgonzola Cornbread Sliders with Chipotle-Adobo Mayo

Granola Bars

Mini Bagel Sandwiches

Macaroni & Cheese / Ramen Noodles in thermos

Breakfast Menu Plan

Breakfast Cookies

Wonton Quiche Cups

Baked Oatmeal Casserole

Breakfast Enchiladas

Eggs & Grits Bowls

Waffles with yogurt or fresh fruit

Scrambled eggs with turkey sausage and toast


Chocolate Chip-Coconut Blondies


Cast Party Wednesday, Wednesday Extravaganza, Wake Up Wednesdays, Two Girls & a Party,

Mushroom & Peas Pulao

A pulao is an Indian rice pilaf. Honestly, this dish could be a meal in itself. It’s hearty and delicious; a perfect vegetarian dish.


Mushroom and Peas Pulao

2 cups brown or basmati rice, cooked

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

8-10  oz. mushrooms, any kind (I used baby bella crimini)

1 cup fresh or frozen peas

small onion, diced

3-4 garlic cloves, sliced thin or minced

1 green chili, minced (I used jalapeno)1/4 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp cardamom (or 1/2 & 1/2 nutmeg-cinnamon)

1/4 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp chili powder, or to taste

juice from 1/2 a lime (about 1 T)

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

salt & pepper to taste

1. Cook your rice according to package directions. I always prefer to cook rice with chicken broth over water. It adds flavor and a little protein.

2. While the rice is cooking you can get the onions, garlic and jalapeno going in the skillet in 1 T of EVOO over medium heat. While that’s happening you can wash and cut your mushrooms into quarters, or smaller pieces if you prefer.

3. Time to get those spices in the skillet (ginger, cardamom, cloves & chili pepper). Make sure the heat isn’t too high. You want to release all those flavors without burning up your skillet. What you end up with is like a paste so put it your broth now and whisk.

4. Add the mushrooms and peas (if frozen. If fresh, wait until mushrooms are almost done). You’ll see quite a bit of moisture come out of them. Cook it all down slowly and combine everything well. 

5. Combine with cooked rice and stir in lime juice, fresh cilantro, and salt & pepper.




TuesdaysTable150x150-horiz peppers


tempt tuesday








Creamy Lobster Risotto with Green Peas

This is a very rich and filling meal. I love risotto any way, but the lobster gives it a bit of an elegant twist that makes it suitable for a main course even for guests. Make sure you serve it with a light salad and some crusty bread (or my Cheesy Pesto Bread!)


Lobster Risotto

1 cup Arborio rice

1/2 onion, chopped

4 cups chicken broth, divided

1/2 cup white wine

2 (6 oz) lobster tails, frozen is fine

1 cup frozen green peas


4 oz. cream cheese

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, divided

salt & pepper


1. Heat EVOO in skillet over medium heat and saute onion for about 3 minutes.  Put dry rice in skillet and saute/toast for an additional 2 or 3 minutes.  Pour in wine and simmer until absorbed.

2. In a sauce pot bring 1 cup broth to a soft boil and throw the lobster tails in. Cover and allow to steam about 4 minutes, or until shells turn bright red. *If using frozen lobster it may take a few extra  minutes, but don’t worry if you see they are not completely cooked through when you shell them. You can get to that later.

3. Start putting broth into your rice 1/2 cup at a time while keeping the liquid at a gentle simmer. Stir frequently and allow broth to absorb. Salt & pepper a bit. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time.

4. Shell the lobster meat and cut into small pieces. Any bits not cooked through  can go back into the sauce pot broth for a minute or two.

5. If the rice isn’t cooked enough (it should be slightly al dente) you can add some of the broth from the sauce pot. Your rice should have about 3 1/2 cups of broth in it, plus the 1/2 cup wine.

6. Stir in the cream cheese, 1/4 cup parmesan, the lobster, and the peas. Allow everything to combine and heat through thoroughly.

7. Salt & Pepper again if needed, and serve with a sprinkle of the reserved parmesan on top.



March Menu ~ 2013


Well, it’s that time again. If you’re one of the few who haven’t yet done the “New Years Diet” then you may be thinking along those lines about now. For me it’s not so much “diet” as “cleanse” and by that I mean a cleansing of the pantry, budget, and body. This month will feature a few fattening yummy favorites (for the boys, of course) but I am focusing mostly on healthier recipes. Along with the links to previous posts there are many new recipes I’ll be working on this month, so stay tuned.

Crispy Cheddar Chicken

Dijon Dill Salmon with Grain Mix

Pasta and Lentil Soup

Spinach Tomato Feta Fritatta

Orange Sesame Chicken with Brown Rice

Black Bean Soup

Ultimate Baked Beans

Oven Baked Tacos

Black Bean Risotto

Potato and Leek Soup

Vegetable Ragu with Grilled Fish

Butternut Cake

No Yeast Cinnamon Rolls

St. Patty’s Day Cupcakes

Recipes I am working on this month:

Mexican Stew

Peasant Soup

Slow Cooker Coq au Vin

Seared Beef Fillet with Red Wine Mushroom Sauce

Black Bean & Chicken Oven Fried Chimichangas

Creamy Lobster Risotto with Green Peas

Appetizers and Sides:

Antipasto Skewers

Rosemary Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Cheesy Pesto Bread

Smoked Salmon Bruchetta


Pineapple Galette

Plum Crumble

White Chocolate Strawberry Pie

Carrot Cake Roulade



Black Bean Risotto

If you’re looking for a vegetarian and gluten-free meal, I can tell you right now that this risotto will hit the spot. This creamy, savory twist on beans and rice will not disappoint. I served this with a lovely green salad and ALL my boys ate it up.


Black Bean Risotto

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

4 cups chicken broth


2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup onion, chopped

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp oregano

1/2 cup roma tomatoes, chopped

1/2 tsp salt , plus more for seasoning to taste

1/4 tsp pepper

1 (15 oz) can black beans

4 oz. cream cheese

2 T butter


In a skillet heat 1 T EVOO; saute onion and garlic. Do not brown. Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt & pepper, and diced tomato. Stir and heat through. Scoop out and place in bowl. Set aside.

Pour broth into heated skillet and allow to come to a boil. Stir in risotto. Lower heat and cover. Stir often and let cook through, 20-25 minutes.

Cube the cream cheese and stir into the rice, until melted, along with the butter. Drain the black beans and add it to the rice. Add the onion and tomato mixture. Combine well. Heat through.

Salt & pepper to taste. Serve with parmesan for sprinkling on top. *A pinch of rosemary is good in it, too.




Gluten Free February Menu ~ 2013


It’s here! I hope you’re ready for some awesome GF recipes because I have been researching and collecting for weeks. As I mentioned before, I am going to take this week by week so that I don’t get overwhelemed. What that means is I will prepare a GF meal every evening for family dinner and I am personally going to attempt to eat as GF as possible every day, and while I will try to feed my family GF as much as possible I realize that we’re just not there yet, so I am not going to fixate over that. First thing’s first. I have about three weeks worth of meal ideas plus a few extras 🙂 but by the middle of the month I should have a better grasp of what I’m doing and some more recipes to share.

In addition to my semi-regular menu plan of Meatless Mondays, Mexican Wednesdays, and Friday Pizza Nights, I am adding Crock Pot Sundays. Thursdays are still fish recipes, and that just leaves Tuesdays and Saturdays for everything else. I hope you enjoy this menu plan, and as always I will come back and add links once the recipe has been posted.

Cheeseburger Salad

Lentil and Pasta Soup (substitute GF pasta)

 Black Bean Soup

BBQ Salmon

Garlic Tilapia

TexMex Polenta Pizza

Brown Rice Macaroni and Cheese

Stew Beef with Brown Rice

Turkey Ragu with Polenta

Baked Tacos with Crock Pot Pinto Beans

Tuna Steaks with Lima Bean Butter

Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken

Black Bean Risotto

Roasted Potato Frittata

Mexican Stew with Ground Turkey

Brown Rice Pasta with Ground Turkey Bolognese

Mini Polenta Pizzas

Quinoa-Crusted Chicken

~*~ EXTRAS ~*~

Bacon & Egg Puffs

Breakfast Burrito

Blueberry Muffins

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sweet Potato Cornbread

Sweet Corn Risotto



Not-so-Mock Risotto

Awhile back in my April Menu post I said I’d be making a mock risotto- well, I ended up making a traditional one using Arborio rice. I will, however, include the recipe for the mock risotto for those days when you don’t feel like stirring over a hot stove for an hour.

I have to give my mom credit for this dish. Although I’d intended to cook the meal, she ended up pretty much doing all the work while I stood around, telling her what to add and drank wine 🙂 Thanks, Mom!

Creamy Risotto

4 Tbsp butter

6 cups warm chicken broth

1 cup dry white wine

2 cups Arborio rice

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 small onion, minced

1 cup fresh or frozen peas

4 oz. Neufchatel cheese

Salt to taste

1. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat and melt 4 Tbsp. butter. Add onion and garlic and cook for 4 minutes, until translucent. Add the rice and toast for several minutes, stirring often.

2. Pour in the wine and allow to reduce for just a minute or two, then add about 3 cups of the broth. Cook for 7-8 minutes or until absorbed by the rice, then add the rest of the broth 1 cup at a time, until blended well. Stir frequently.

3. Bring to a soft boil, stirring. Add peas and stir in well. Lower heat to med-low and continue stirring until broth is absorbed and rice is al dente and creamy.

4. Cube the cream cheese and add it to the rice, stirring until melted and blended in.

* Excellent additions would be asparagus tips, mushrooms, bell peppers, and/or tomatoes.

**This made a huge amount, perfect for 2 or 3 meals. Can be used as a side or a main vegetarian dish {vegetable broth substituted should you prefer}.


Mock Risotto

1 Tbsp EVOO

1 medium onion

1/4 tsp. salt

2 cups instant brown rice

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

2  1/2 cups  chicken broth

1 cup fresh or frozen peas

4 oz. Neufchatel cream cheese

1/2 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium low heat. Add onion and salt and cook, stirring often, until soft and just beginning to brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add rice and garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant, 30 seconds to one minute. You should toast the rice- not burn it. Add broth and bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

2. Remove cover and add peas, stir lightly or just leave them on top of the rice mixture. Replace cover and continue simmering, adjusting the heat if necessary, until the liquid is almost absorbed and peas are crisp, about 5 minutes.

3. Cube the cheese and carefully stir it in until melted and mixed thoroughly.



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April Menu

I’ve been trying to make things slightly easier on myself by planning my menu bi-weekly as much as possible. Sometimes when I can only do about  a week at a time, it definitely helps to at least have a few extra days/meals in mind. So, combining that with searching out more and newer recipes that are healthier, I made myself sit down, go through my recipe files and emails, and whatnot, and found a ton of great new things to try.

Here is a basic list of recipes that I have scheduled into my meal calendar for the month of April. Many of these I have never tried so the posts will come later. There will be a few links as I will repeat a few recipes. But you can be sure that most of these will be posted at some point 😉


Main Courses:

Vegetarian Enchiladas

Tuscan Chicken Skillet

Beef & Bean Taquitos (or maybe chicken, or maybe both)

Chicken Rio

Ratatouille with Bulgur

Chicken and Brown Rice Pilaf

Pan-seared Scallops with Cheesy Risotto

Baked Chimichangas

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Grilled Beef  Ragu with Penne

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

Eggplant Parmesan Rollatini

Chicken Schnitzel with Spaetzle

Veggie-Italian Skillet Tilapia

Crispy Honey-Mustard Chicken Tenders

Crock Pot – Pot Roast

Romano-Crusted Chicken

Meatball Minestrone Soup

Asopao de Pollo (One Dish Chicken & Rice with Olives)

BBQ Salmon with Wild Brown Rice

Meatball Melties

Maple Mustard Chicken

Sides and Snacks:

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Tomato Bread Salad

Sweet Potato Custard

Skillet Corn

Cheesy Rice Fritters

Tuscan Polenta Bread

Cream Soup Mix (for the Chicken Tortilla Casserole)


           Yam Spice Muffins

Oatmeal Cake

Overnight French Toast Casserole

Hunter Style Muffins

Banana Bread

Whole Wheat Waffles & Pancakes

Yogurt Banana Splits

Turkey Bacon & Egg Puffs

Sinful Cinnamon Muffins

Super EasyEgg Souffle


Peanut Butter & Chocolate Crumble Bars

Red Velvet Brownies

Chocolate and Strawberry Shortcake Whoopie Pies

Coconut Cream Tarts

Strawberry Tiramisu

Anything previously posted will have a link attached to the recipe title. Stay tuned for some great recipes this month!

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What to do with all this kale??

I have never cooked with kale before last week when I got a HUGE amount of it in my first Veggie Box.  Since then I’ve had to search out some recipes that helped me prepare kale and other leafy greens in new and tasty ways.

I made:

Kale Crisps

Preheat oven to 350*. Wash and dry kale. Strip leaves from stem and tear into small pieces. Arrange on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sea salt. Toss to coat and spread out. Bake for 10 minutes or until browned and crispy.

Spring Greens Risotto

3 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup chopped green onions

1 1/2 cup Arborio rice

1/2 tsp salt

4 cup hot vegetable or chicken broth, divided

4 cup coarsely chopped spring greens (kale, collards, chard, spinach, bok choy, tat soi, etc.- any combo will do. Use what you have or what you like)

1/4 tsp grated nutmeg (optional)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oil in heavy pot over medium heat. Add onions; cook 3 minutes. Add rice and salt. Cook and stir until the rice begins to color.

2. Add 1/2 cup broth; cook and stir until most of the broth is absorbed. Add 1 1/2 cup broth; simmer, stirring occasionally, until mostly absorbed, about 10 minutes. Add remaining broth. Simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Place greens on top of rice. Cover and simmer 3 minutes. Stir in greens. Simmer and stir a few minutes more until broth is absorbed and rice is tender but moist.

4. Remove from heat. Stir in Parmesan and serve.

* I served this alongside black beans the night I made Steak Quesadillas. The following night I made a healthy version of Chicken Cordon Bleu and served the leftover rice mixed with the leftover beans, and added extra kale steeped in chicken broth, some chopped tomatoes and dried cilantro. Yum!

Chard Bake

Fill an 8×8 inch oiled pan with chopped greens. Chard, spinach and other thin greens work best. The greens cook way down so fill the pan up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with slightly overlapping slices of tomatoes. Top that with bits or slices of goat cheese. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

* I used mostly collards, mixed with some kale and baby bok choy. I also didn’t have any goat cheese in the house so I used what feta cheese I had.

Egg Casserole

Sorry, no picture 😦 Unfortunately it didn’t come out pretty because I was using my new convection oven and one of those Glad plastic bakeware pans. Now, I’ve never had any trouble with those pans before – I bake with them, throw them in the freezer, bake them again, no problem- BUT just as a little FYI…if they get too close to the heat bars they will melt.  The casserole was fine, but the pan was a mess! 😉

1 doz eggs, whisked with 1/4 cup milk

salt & pepper to taste

1 cup shredded potatoes

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

diced tomatoes, however much you like

1/2 cup small kale pieces

1/2 cup shredded cheese (mozzarella or cheddar)

1. Preheat oven to 350*

2. Place shredded potatoes on the bottom of a greased 8×8 square pan. Layer on tomatoes, cheese and kale. Pour beaten eggs over all and bake for at least 30 minutes, or until eggs are set.

3. Sprinkle shredded cheese over top and place back in oven until melted.

I still have some kale left and plenty of collards. It’s a good thing I am only getting veggie boxes every other week! Stay tuned for recipes for rutabagas and butternut squash!

What do you do with kale or other leafy green vegetables?

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