Monday, October 31, 2011

Crock Pot Ravioli Casserole

I found this through Pinterest. I am loving that site for recipes! Click here to see the original recipe and and a photo.

1 lb ground turkey (or next time I am trying ground Italian sausage)
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp Italian seasoning
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed
16 oz bow tie pasta, cooked
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Brown the ground turkey (or Italian sausage) with onion and garlic. Put in the crock pot and add the sauce, tomatoes, and seasonings. Cook for 6-7 hours on low.

Add the thawed spinach, cooked pasta, Parmesan cheese, and 1 cup of the mozzarella. Combine and cook for 30 minutes on high. Add the last 1.2 cup of mozzarella on top and allow to melt before serving.

Zombie Buffet 5k

Saturday was a busy day. We got up and headed to Nashville to watch Andrew and Phil run in the Zombie Buffet 5k.

These boys are crazy fans of zombies so it was most likely a dream come true getting to run from them. We met up with Phil and Emily before lunch. The boys headed to Nashville to get signed in and the girls + Colin went to Starbucks to kill time until the race started.

I had Colin dressed in a Zombie shirt. He would growl at you, point to his shirt, and then say "I'm a zombie!"

Then we headed to the riverfront to find the boys. They were ready to go! Couple quick pictures before the race started and then Emily, Colin, and I went for a walk.

We walked over the pedestrian bridge b/c we knew the Zombies were over there and so were Granny and Papa. We knew a few Zombies: Daniel, Megan, and Lashlee. We never found Megan or Lashlee so I never got to see their Zombie attire. But as we were walking over the bridge, the first group of runners weren't far behind us. Which also meant zombies were coming out too. And that is when we got our first sighting of Daniel (Andrew's brother). He was a Zombie dressed in camo. A Marine Zombie.

Um, some of these Zombies were pretty scary. Check out this picture. Emily and I are the right side. And that lady Zombie was pretty creepy. Luckily, we were obviously spectators and no Zombies bothered us.

We had so much fun watching and the boys plan to do it again next year. Hopefully they dress up. We saw some great costumes. The best had to be Mario and Luigi. They brought with them banana peels and "turtle shells" (aka balls) just like in Mario Kart and used those against the Zombies. I heard some of the Zombies weren't too thrilled with that.

I have more pictures, but haven't had a chance to upload them yet. These pictures were some that Emily took and a couple I found on the Zombie Buffet 5k facebook page.

Weekly Meal Plan

  • Waffles
  • Oatmeal
  • Smoothies
  • Cereal
  • Leftovers
  • Frozen Burittos
  • Bruitto Bowls
  • Mac n' Cheese
  • Fruit & Cheese
  • PB Crackers

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Let's talk lunch: PB&J

It's easy. It's a classic. It's Peanut Butter & Jelly.

Most kids like it and you probably have the ingredients in your pantry or fridge.

So what did I pair it with?
  • Half a PB&J - spread the peanut butter on both halves of the bread and put the jelly in between. No jelly gets your bread soggy.
  • Potato Chips - we like kettle cooked b/c they are nice and crispy
  • Apple slices
  • Apple-Strawberry Fruity Flakes (wishing I had some dark chocolate instead though)

Pretzels instead of chips? Cool. Strawberries instead of grapes? Awesome. Almost anything goes with PB&J.

For kids you can get creative. Colin isn't into PB&J, but loves peanut butter crackers. So I try to make these occasionally for him to see if he has come around. To entice him to try it I use different cookies cutters to make them into fun shapes. Most everyone will have a few basic cookies cutters: stars, trees, etc. But every so often pick up a new one just for the little guy/girl. I now have the letter "C" for Colin, dinosaur, football helmet, and Mickey Mouse. I saw a train one at the store the other day and I am kicking myself for not getting it. He would love it.

As for a picture - I think you know what a PB&J looks like so I didn't use my horrible food photography skills today.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Let's talk lunch: Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad

What do we have for lunch today?
Obviously you don't have to do the same fruits, veggies, and dessert. But I am trying to include at least one fruit and veggie in each lunch, assuming that the main meal isn't a salad. Then I might switch out the veggie side for a bread.

Chicken Pesto Pasta

Easy easy easy!!

1 lb chicken breast
1 box (16 oz) whole wheat bow-tie pasta
7 oz pesto
Italian Seasoning
Toasted Pine Nuts (optional)
Parmesan cheese

Place chicken in crockpot and season with Italian seasoning and pepper. Add a few tablespoons of water and cook on low for 6-7 hours.

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Heat the pesto in the microwave just until it is easy to stir. Remove cooked chicken from the crockpot and chop.

If pasta sticks, add a little bit of olive oil.

Combine the chicken, pasta and pesto. Serve warm with toasted pine nuts and parmesan cheese.

This is also great leftover and cold!

Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
1 whole medium onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans (15 oz each) tomato sauce
salt & pepper, to taste
Dash of sugar (more to taste)
1 cup heavy cream
Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, to taste
Fresh basil, chopped
1-1/2 lbs fettuccine

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.

Head butter and oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for a minute or so. Pour in tomato sauce and add salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Stir and cook over low heat for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and stir in cream. Add cheese to taste, then check seasonings. Stir in pasta and chopped basil and serve immediately. (Thin with pasta water before adding basil if needed.)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Let's talk lunch: Turkey & Cheese on Wheat

Kicking it off with an easy one: Turkey & Cheese!

What makes up this meal?
  • Half turkey & cheese sandwich - one slice of whole wheat bread, 2 oz Boar's Head turkey, 1/2 slice of Boar's Head Lacey Swiss Cheese
  • 6 Yogurt covered pretzels
  • Baby carrots (add ranch for dipping in a disposable souffle cup if you want)
  • Fresh fruit: grapes and apple slices
  • Chips
How to pack it? In your divided container, place the half sandwich and yogurt pretzels in the largest spot. In the smaller spaces place the carrots (with optional ranch) in one and the grapes and apple slices in the other. Your side of chips goes in a little baggie - don't forget to grabs those since they aren't in the main container.

This can easily be assembled the night before and placed in the refrigerator so you can just grab it and go in the morning.

I know this one is simple, but I have to start somewhere.

What did you take for lunch?

Let's talk lunch

I do a pretty good job of putting a super yummy meal on the table every night for dinner. But where do I have trouble? Lunch.

Lunch gets boring. Yes, leftovers are always an option. But I am not a huge leftovers fan. I don't really like to eat the same thing for the next meal. I don't mind eating it for dinner one night and then the next, but I don't really get excited about eating it for dinner and then lunch the very next day. Give me a 24 hour waiting period before I eat it again. Weird, I know.

On Pinterest this weekend I saw a link to this: Project Lunch Box.

If you work, you don't have the option of just walking to your fridge or pantry and whipping something up for lunch. Even if it is just a box of mac n' cheese on the stove top. We don't have a stove at my office. Buying lunch out gets to be expensive and is honestly not healthy. Don't get me wrong. We like to eat out. But we limit it. If I make the food I can control the sodium, fat, amount of whole grains, and choose all natural and organic ingredients. If done right, it can also save you money.

Now that I follow this blog, I plan on getting some new lunch ideas and posting them here. I want to follow her idea of using the reusable plastic containers that have three divided sections. I plan on making most of my lunch ideas cold so that nothing has to be removed before heating (like fresh fruit). And cold lunches are great for picnics. My plan is to also make these the night before while the kitchen is already a mess from dinner. Then we just have to grab them from the fridge in the morning.

(I'll add pictures of the lunches at some point. I am not so great at taking pictures of food. I don't know the tricks.)

So look for my "Let's talk lunch" posts for lunch ideas. Please leave me comments of your own lunch ideas so I can try them out.

Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookies

These are Andrew's favorite cookie. Three kinds of chocolate - how can you go wrong?

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup light brown sugar (firmly packed)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs (cold)
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate (chopped)
3/4 cup milk chocolate (chopped)
3/4 cup white chocolate (chopped)

Preheat your oven to 350.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Using a mixer on medium speed, beat until well blended. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat on low speed until the eggs are completely incorporated. Slowly add the flour mixture and beat on low speed just until incorporated. Add the chopped chocolate and beat until distributed.

Place heaping tablespoonfuls of the dough on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes 9until the top are lightly golden in the center).

Let cookies cook on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Weekly Meal Plan

  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Waffles
  • Smoothies
  • Granola Bars
  • English Muffins
  • Fruit
  • Leftovers
  • PB&Js
  • Mac n' Cheese
  • Cheese & Fruit
  • Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce (never got to it last week)
  • Steamed seasoned veggies with rice
  • Chick-fil-a
  • Pantry Night (make something from what I have on hand)
  • Macaroni Bake (new recipe from Pinterest)
  • Leftover Macaroni Bake
  • Giordano's Pizza - ordered and shipped from Chicago to celebrate Andrew's 30th birthday
  • Freeze Dried Fruit
  • Gummy Bunnies
  • Cheese Crackers
  • Soy Nuts
  • Almonds
  • Fruit
  • Applesauce

Sweet Treat: Snickerdoodles

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fall is here!

Thursday we had our first ever field trip. Colin was dressed in his school shirt and ready to go.

It was actually pretty cold so we had to cover his class shirt up. Last year we went to the pumpkin farm in shorts. So it was a nice change.

I now have three little pumpkins and I am doing a little Googling to see if they are they kind that would bake nicely so I could use the puree in some baked goods. Anyone have in insight on this?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sorry for the mess!

Please excuse the mess as I try to update my blog a bit. Hopefully it won't take me forever, but I am not promising anything.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Weekly Meal Plan

  • Cereal
  • Smoothies
  • Waffles
  • Oatmeal
  • Cereal Bar
  • Leftovers
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Fruit & Cheese
  • Chicken Nuggets
  • Pizza
  • Breakfast: eggs, biscuits, fruit
  • Pasta with creamy tomato sauce
  • Chicken Enchiladas, roasted corn, chips & salsa, Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies - birthday dinner for Andrew
  • Chuck E Cheese for a little friend's birthday party
  • Black Bean & Sweet Potato Chili
  • Chicken Parm

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cinnamon Caramel Corn with Pecans & White Chocolate

This recipe is in no way good for you. It takes a healthy snack (air popped popcorn) and covers it in a sweet sugary goodness. So if you are ready to up your sugar intake one day, make a batch of this. You will want to share.

12 cup popped popcorn (about 1/2 cup kernels)
1 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup honey
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 squares almond bark (about 4 oz)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Place popcorn and chopped pecans in a large bowl and set aside

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a 2 liter capacity microwave safe bowl. Mix well. Chop butter into chunks and place on top of sugar mixture. Pour honey over the top of everything. Microwave on high for 30 seconds and then stir to combine. Return to microwave and heat for 2 minutes. Remove and stir and then microwave for 2 minutes more.

Remove from microwave and add in vanilla and baking soda. Stir to combine. Mixture will foam and rise. Pour caramel mixture over popcorn and pecans and stir very well so everything is well coated.

Spread popcorn mixture onto a foil-lined jelly roll pan. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and spread onto a large piece of parchment, waxed paper, or foil.

Melt almond bark according to package instructions. Drizzle over popcorn mixture. When almond bark is hardened and popcorn is cool, break into chunks and enjoy!

I took pictures but haven't uploaded them yet. Here is the original recipe and pictures. Your mouth will water. I am looking for good Christmas treats to make and pass out and this will be one of them.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Weekly Meal Plan

  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Waffles
  • English Muffins
  • Yogurt Fruit
  • Leftovers
  • PB&Js
  • Cheese & Fruit
  • Mac n' Cheese
  • Breakfast for dinner: omelets with sausage, onions & peppers, toast, cinnamon rolls, yogurt
  • Mexican Crock pot Chicken with Whole Wheat Tortillas
  • Veggie Stir Fry & rice
  • Homemade Mac and Cheese with veggies & fruit
  • Crock pot Ravioli Casserole & veggies
  • Leftover Crock pot Ravioli Casserole
  • Maggiano's
  • Pretzels
  • Popcorn
  • Soy Nuts
  • Fruity Flakes
  • Fruit
  • Applesauce
  • Graham Crackers
  • Cereal Bar

Whole Wheat Bread

3/4 to 1 cup lukewarm water*
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
3 1/2 cups 100% Whole Wheat Flour
2 1/2 tsp instant yeast, or 1 packet active dry yeast dissolved in 2 Tbsp of the water in the recipe
1/4 cup nonfat dried milk
1 1/4 tsp salt

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir until the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hand, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. This dough should be soft, yest still firm enough to knead. Adjust the consistency with additional water or flour, if necessary.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover it, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into an 8" log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 1 to 2 hours or till the center has crowned about 1" above the rim of the pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350.

Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil after 20 minutes to prevent over-browning. The finished loaf will register 190 on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center.

Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. If desired, rub the crust with a stick of butter; this will yield a soft, flavorful crust. Cool completely before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.

*Use the greater amount in winter or in a dry climate; the lessesr amount in summer or a humid climate.

This recipe was found on the King Arthur Flour website.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Hallmark Card in Stores!

So I didn't win any new Hallmark Card contests this month but my one and only winning card is now in Wal-Marts stores!! I have been told it is in these Wal-marts:
  • Murfreesboro (by MTSU), TN
  • Hendersonville, TN
  • Indianapolis, IN
If you shop at a Wal-Mart not listed above, please check for my card in the Hallmark section. Let me know if you see it!

Weekly Meal Plan

  • Waffles
  • English Muffins
  • Eggs
  • Smoothies
  • Fruit
  • Cereal
  • Cereal Bars
  • Toast
  • Leftovers
  • Mac 'n Cheese
  • PB&Js
  • Cheese & Fruit
  • Pretzels
  • Nuts
  • Fruity Flakes
  • Cheddar Bunnies
  • Fruit
  • Applesauce
  • Popcorn
  • Chocolate Covered Pretzels (my secret treat...that I am not sharing)