Weekly Menu

It's that time again...This week, I will be prepping my contributions to Christmas dinner at grandma's (bread and my grandma's homemade noodles). I also made a giant pot of marinara last week as an offering to the freezer gods. So, the week's meals will take advantage of some of my efforts.

Sunday: Spaghetti, garlic bread & green beans - whole wheat spaghetti with homemade marinara. It was nothing fancy, just good ingredients. Even the munchkin enjoyed some spaghetti pieces and little bites of green beans.

Monday: Meatloaf (recipe), mashed potatoes & salad - Last Monday turned out to be a busy one, and we ended up eating grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner! So I'm recycling this meal to this week. Salad for me! :)

Tuesday: Taco soup - Tuesday is almost always Mexican night at our house...and it's usually tacos. This week, I plan to make a pretty simple soup. This is a wonderful recipe (below) that is easy to make with or without meat. Serve it with your regular taco toppings and tortilla chips.

Wednesday: Cheeseburgers/falafel & fries - I liked the falafel so much last week that I cooked up the remaining mixture for leftovers. And I'll be having it again this week! If we didn't have an abundance of hamburger buns in the pantry, I'd make my own with some of the bread dough for Christmas...

Thursday: Chili - I usually make two pots of chili...The Man likes his chili slightly sweet, but I do not. I also want mine meatless now. So, two pots of chili it is!

Friday: It's pizza night! I plan to use some Christmas bread dough to can make our own. We find most frozen pizzas to be lacking, and takeout takes a toll on our bank account. The Man and I enjoy being in the kitchen together, and we'll get to use some of that tasty marinara!

Saturday: Peanut Soba Noodles (recipe below) - I've tried an Asian dish using peanut butter before, and The Man wasn't fond of it. This time, I will try something different...we'll see if he likes it. :)

Taco Soup
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked & shredded (optional)
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 cans chicken broth, depending on desired consistency
1 can Rotel tomatoes & chiles, in liquid
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 can kidney beans, in liquid
1 can corn, drained
2 tablespoons chili powder
red pepper flakes to taste
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a crockpot (add chili powder, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper to taste). Cook on low overnight. Serve with tortilla chips and your favorite Mexican garnishes.

Peanut Soba Noodles
(4 servings)
8 ounces soba (buckwheat) noodles
2 T olive oil
1 bag frozen stir fry vegetables, thawed1 bunch green onions, sliced
2 T sesame oil
1 t grated fresh ginger
1/3 c peanut butter
2 T soy sauce
1/4 c hot water
1 T cider vinegar
1 t white sugar
crushed red pepper flakes to taste

Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water until done. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a wok. Quickly cook the stir fry vegetables until just tender. Remove from the wok.

Heat sesame oil in the wok. Add onions and cook until tender. Add ginger; cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in peanut butter, soy sauce, water, vinegar, sugar, and red pepper flakes.

Toss noodles and vegetables with sauce, and serve.

Kitchen Therapy

A stressful day filled with bad news about sick family members and friends has led me into the kitchen for some therapy. I don't mean eating...I mean baking.

For me, being in the kitchen is like meditation or yoga, even with The Munchkin following me around in her walker and running into the back of my heels! There is something so soothing about the whir of a Kitchenaid stand mixer combining raw ingredients into wonderful treats that will bring smiles to the faces of others...and myself.

And today, I've given the mixer and my oven quite a workout. It all started with a loaf of bread and my mom's Upside-Down German Chocolate Cake to complete an early Christmas dinner for some friends of the family. Once those were done and ready to be delivered, I turned to cookies to share with our coworkers and families.

One of The Man's favorite cookies is Paula Deen's Monster Cookies. I make them with chocolate chunks, M&Ms, and raisins. Sometimes I'll add white chocolate chips as well, but The Man prefers them without, so today I obliged. You can add to the base cookie whatever you and your family like. After all, it's your cookie!

The second cookie is one I found on Pinterest. The Lemon Burst Cookie could actually be done with any flavor cake mix. I just happened to have a lemon cake mix laying around, but I think chocolate would be wonderful (of course!) or even a french vanilla cake mix rolled in powdered sugar and cocoa. The possibilities are endless! Let your imagine run wild with this one.

In the end, the cookies turned out wonderfully, and the kitchen therapy really did help. The cookies are so wonderful, we are having a hard time staying out of them! I do hope to package some up for each of us to take to work to share with our coworkers, but I'll have to make sure we have some left! :) And, I found myself focusing on the food and enjoying the process instead of dwelling on the bad news of the day.

I had hoped to make more Cranberry Walnut Bagels, some Zucchini Muffins and Hot Cocoa Cookies, but The Munchkin wasn't going to allow that...so, maybe tomorrow after her 9 month checkup.

Stay tuned for more goodies!



As planned, tonight was burger night. The Man had his usual, but I made falafel for myself. It's probably been 10 years since I last had falafel, and though I don't remember exactly what it tasted like, I remember loving it! (Anyone wanna go to Holy Land Diner for lunch soon?!)

Because it's been so long since I've had true falafel, I can't vouch for the authenticity of Jeannie's Falafel, but I can vouch for the fact that it's pretty tasty. As promised earlier in the week, here is the recipe with my modifications:

(4 servings)
1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 t granulated onion
1/2 t granulated garlic
1 1/2 T chopped fresh cilantro
1 T chopped fresh parsley
1 t ground cumin
1/8 t ground turmeric
1/2 t baking powder
2/3 c fine dry bread crumbs
1/4 t kosher salt
1/4 t fresh ground black pepper
oil for frying

Mash the garbanzo beans in a large bowl. Stir in the remaining ingredients, adding just enough water to allow the mixture to be formed into patties.

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Form the mixture into 4 patties.

Carefully drop the patties into the skillet, and cook until brown, then flip to brown the other side. Gently remove from the skillet.

Serve with tzatziki, slice tomato, onion and warm pita bread.



Weekly Menu

Each month, I sit down and create a dinner menu for the following month. This serves several purposes. I'm so busy, sometimes I feel like I'm losing my mind. Knowing in advance what we'll be having for dinner is a lifesaver. It also helps me grocery shop as efficiently as possible. This lovely little family isn't made of money, and I love to coupon, so saving money is always an accomplishment.

This month just happens to be "clean out the deep freeze" month. Because I like to make large batches of food (make the mess once, ask The Man the clean it up once LOL), I freeze a LOT of food. So every now and then, it's a bit of an adventure to find things that have been sacrificed to the bottom of the freezer. It's also a good way to prevent losing food to freezer burn.

I've also adopted a vegetarian diet this month...and hopefully, it will continue...so you will find my vegetarian options in the menu. My decision was based, in part, on the fact that our babe doesn't eat meat yet, so I decided I wouldn't either. If it can sustain her healthy, rapidly growing body, it can sustain me. I won't get into the other factors that influence my decision, as most of them are probably fairly personal and possibly controversial.

So anyway, nothing fancy here...I firmly believe that true health comes from whole food...not "health food", so I hope you're not "dieting" :)

Sunday: Stir fry over rice - I'm slowly phasing out white rice around here. The Man and I aren't particularly fond of brown rice, so I've mixed a bag of brown rice into a container of white rice. As the supply diminishes, I will continue to add brown rice to the container with the hopes that eventually, our palates will adapt and the white rice will be gone. Time will tell...

Monday: Meatloaf (recipe below), mashed potatoes & salad - A mixture of ground pork and ground beef gives meatloaf (and meatballs, for that matter) a bit more dimension of flavor than just one type of meat. Therefore, I use a 50/50 mixture of the two. The mashed potatoes are always made with real, unsalted butter and milk, though sometimes, if I'm feeling especially indulgent, I'll use heavy cream. :) I know, I know...you're probably asking how this is healthy. The cream is definitely not the healthiest option, but I don't do it often. It's like a treat. And I would much rather use real butter than a laboratory concoction that resembles butter. We. Like. Butter. :) I will most likely have a salad for dinner instead of meatloaf...and probably some mashed potatoes.

Tuesday: Tacos/black bean and corn quesadillas & Mexican rice - Tuesday is almost always Mexican night at our house...and it's usually tacos. This week, I will make use of some pork shoulder I roasted previously and froze, with homemade taco seasoning (recipe below), for The Man. And I've been on a quesadilla kick lately, so I'll have a quesadilla.

Wednesday: Cheeseburgers/falafel & fries - Wednesday nights are almost always burger nights (we're pretty predictable people). The Man will have a regular cheeseburger with all the fixin's, and I will try my hand at making falafel. I love falafel, but I've never made it myself. This should be an adventure! (If it's good, I'll post a recipe.) I've also bought everything I need to make tzatziki...the store-bought stuff just doesn't cut it!

Thursday: Fettucini alfredo, salad & garlic bread - More Butter!! And Cream! And how about some parmesan?! Sounds like heaven to me! This is The Man's favorite meal.

Friday: I'm off duty! Friday is typically pizza night, date night, or leftovers, so I'm usually off duty anyway. I've been dying to recreate Papa Murphy's Chicken Bacon pizza...without the chicken and bacon, of course. The Man will have his with pepperoni.

Saturday: BBQ pork, macaroni and cheese & salad - More of the pork shoulder paired with homemade macaroni and cheese. I'm doing with pasta what I'm doing with rice...so I've mixed white and whole grain pasta to help us adjust. And again, I will have a Greek salad instead of the pork.

As you can see, we like comfort food, and I do what I can to make the dishes as healthy as possible without replacing ingredients with fake food. We don't do fat free, sugar free or low carb. Those foods are riddled with chemicals to replace the fat, sugar and carbs. And I just can't bring myself to feed my family fake food.

Ok, now for a few recipes...Mangia Bene!

(serves 4)
1/2 lb lean ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1 packet onion soup mix (I cheat a bit here)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c rolled oats
1/4 c ketchup
2 T A1 steak sauce

Combine the beef, pork, soup mix, egg and oats until everything is incorporated. Press evenly into a loaf pan.

In a separate bowl, combine the ketchup and A1. Spread evenly over the meat mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.

Taco Seasoning
(equivalent to one packet)
3 T chili powder
1/2 T ground cumin
1 t granulated garlic
1 t granulated onion
1/2 t ground black pepper
1 t kosher salt (optional)
red pepper flakes to taste

Combine all ingredients.

Whole Wheat & Flaxseed

I've been looking for some different, healthy options to keep in the house for quick, on-the-run breakfasts since I usually eat breakfast on the run. The other day, I was in a pinch and had to grab a quick breakfast in town before work. I figured Panera was a better choice than Sonic, so I decided to swing through the drive thru. I paid nearly $3 for a delicious, yet ridiculously overpriced cranberry walnut bagel with orange cranberry cream cheese. It got me thinking: I've made bagels before...I made a wonderful bread from "Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" for Thanksgiving...why not make Panera's cranberry walnut bagels out of the same dough? So, yesterday, I did just that. The recipe is below. (This process is a bit lengthy and entailed, but it's worth it!)

I've also been slowly adapting my tried and true recipes to include more whole grains and healthier ingredients. My dear hubby loves pumpkin bread, but aside from the pumpkin, it's pretty nutritionally void. Today, in the spirit of quick breakfast options, I experimented and swapped out the all purpose flour for whole wheat flour and added some flaxseed meal, and the result was fantastic!

Whole Wheat Cranberry Walnut Bagels
(yields 12-14 bagels)
1/4 c flaxseed meal
3 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 packet , or 3/4 T granulated yeast
1/2 T kosher salt
2 T vital wheat gluten
1 3/4 c plus 2 T lukewarm water
1/2 c dried cranberries
orange juice
1/2 c walnuts, roughly chopped

In a small saucepan, heat the dried cranberries and orange juice until cranberries are slightly reconstituted. Drain them and let them cool.

In the meantime, mix the remaining ingredients until all the flour is incorporated. Add in the cranberries.

Transfer the dough to a covered, but not airtight container. Allow the dough to rest and rise for 2 hours.

In a large pot (think soup pot or stock pot), add 8 quarts of water, 1/4 c sugar, and 1 t baking soda. Bring to a boil.

While waiting for the water to boil, prepare a sheet pan by covering it with a clean towel and dusting it with flour. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a pizza stone on the top rack and a small metal cake pan in the bottom of the oven.

Form the dough into 3 ounce balls. Dust with flour, then poke a hole through the middle of the ball and stretch the dough into a ring. Make the hole at least 1 inch in diameter...it will shrink back slightly for 2 minutes, then flip over and boil for another minute.

Scoop out the bagels with a slotted spoon and allow the water to drain off. Place on the towel covered cookie sheet. Continue the last 3 steps with the rest of the bagels. If you are doing more than 2 boiling batches, you will need to get those first two batches in the oven and then continue with the rest.

Carefully lift the boiled bagels off the towel and dust off excess flour. Place them gently on the pizza stone and pour 1 cup of water in the cake pan below. Quickly close the oven. (The water will create steam and help give the bagels a crispy crust.)

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.

To make cranberry orange cream cheese, mix 8 ounces of softened cream cheese, 1/2 c dried cranberries (reconstituted in orange juice like above), and the zest of one orange.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pecan Muffins
(yields 36 muffins)
3 c sugar
1 c oil
4 eggs
3 1/2 c whole wheat flour (all purpose flour will work, too)
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
2/3 c water
2 c pumpkin
1/4 c flaxseed meal (optional)
3/4 c pecans, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pans with paper muffin cups.

In a large bowl, beat sugar, oil and eggs. Add dry ingredients and slowly add in the water until well combined. Add pumpkin.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of a muffin.

Enjoy fresh out of the oven! They're great plain, with butter, or with cream cheese and cinnamon.

(I know flaxseed meal sounds a bit hippie, and maybe even a little scary. However, it's a great addition to breads, granola, and many other dishes. It adds a nutty taste to food, but is otherwise pretty much undetectable. It can be found in the baking section of most grocery stores. I usually stick with Bob's Red Mill or Hodgson Mill brand, simply because that's what the grocery stores in my area are carrying these days.)

If you made it to the end of this post, congratulations! I know it was long, and I apologize for that! I hope, after reading this, you're not too exhausted to give these recipes a try. And I sincerely hope you enjoy the results as much as my family and I have! :)


After posting constantly to Facebook about food I'm making and receiving numerous requests for recipes and instructions, I've decided to start a blog. I hope to share my love of all things food with everyone who visits.