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What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Healthy Shrimp Scampi

15 Oct
This was a great alternative scampi recipe for our family!

This was a great alternative scampi recipe for our family!

I know I say it all the time, but I just love all the recipes that come across my Facebook page every day. I’ve gotten so many great ideas just by my daily scrolling. Today’s recipe is one such recipe.

The only down side is I can’t remember who shared it! I know it was on Facebook though and it says it was from the Prego & Mommy Facebook Page. That’s not a page I follow, so someone definitely shared it and it appeared in my feed.

The thing that appealed to me about this particular recipe for Shrimp Scampi was that it specifically stated that it did not use any butter. We have issues with butter here, and anything too buttery makes some of us sick. I substitute with “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter” pretty often, but when I saw that this recipe had no butter at all, I decided to give it a try.

I’m glad I did! It got thumbs up from all who tried it! I’d definitely make it again. The thing I liked about it too, was that you could make it as lemony as you wanted it to be (or not to be) by adding additional lemon at the end.

I followed the recipe just as it read, other than one change to the type of shrimp I used which is noted below, and I served it with wide egg noodles. Anyone who didn’t want the shrimp could have plain pasta if they so desired. There was just enough left at the end of the night that I could have it for lunch the next day, too! I love it when that happens.

Here’s the recipe just as I copied it:

Easy & Healthy Shrimp….No Butter (uses chicken broth, white wine, lemon juice)
Ingredients
4 tsp olive oil
1 1/4 pounds med raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails left on)  **I used a bag of frozen shrimp and I removed the tails before cooking.***
6-8 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup + 1 T minced parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
4 lemon wedges
Preparation
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Saute the shrimp until just pink, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. With a slotted spoon transfer the shrimp to a platter and keep them warm.
In the skillet, combine the broth, wine, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of the parsley, the salt and pepper; and bring it to a boil. Boil uncovered, until the sauce is reduced by half.
Spoon the sauce over the shrimp. Serve garnished with the lemon wedges and sprinkled with the remaining tablespoon of parsley. Enjoy!

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Smoky BBQ Pork Tenderloin Sliders

8 Oct
This was an excellent Pampered Chef make ahead meal!

This was an excellent Pampered Chef make ahead meal!

You may have read some of my past two- week menu posts, where I mentioned having attended a recent Pampered Chef make ahead freezer meal “party” where we made up four or more meals for our freezer. I chose four meals from a pre-selected menu, but there were others who made ten! Today’s meals is one of the meals from that night. It was very easy to prep ahead, and very easy to cook the day of. It received all thumbs up reviews.

Pampered Chef recipes generally highlight some of their own ingredients, and this recipe is no different. The two needed PC ingredients are their Chef Smoky Barbecue Rub and their Garlic-Infused Canola Oil. When I participated in the freezer meal party, I was given a list of these types of items that would be ordered for me. I paid ahead of time for the items and when I walked in the door that night with the rest of the groceries I needed to prep the meals, I was handed a bag with my needed PC ingredients all ready to go. Any extras were mine to keep at the end.

When we arrived at the party, a station was set up for each of us with the recipes for our freezer meals. We prepped them right in the gallon ziploc bags we brought with us, double bagged them and put them right into our coolers. We came home with four (or ten) bags all labeled and ready to go with a list of cooking instructions, the full recipe and any other important information. It was fantastic.

Here is the recipe for the tenderloin sliders. I will note here that it calls for two pounds of meat but we only ended up needing one pound once it was cooked. We froze the cooked second portion for another night in the future. We’d just need another bag of the Hawaiian sweet rolls, which I found to be a teeny bit addicting! Those weren’t something I normally stock up on, but now I think I want to!

This meal was our dinner, we used it leftover for a few lunches and we froze a whole pound for another night, as I mentioned above. This was definitely a meal I’d prepare and freeze again!

Easy peasy, a meal all set to throw into my crock pot!

Easy peasy, a meal all set to throw into my crock pot!

SMOKY BBQ PORK TENDERLOIN SLIDERS (Pampered Chef, A Taste of Dinners Done freezer meal workshop)

Cook Time: Frozen in the crock pot 4-6 hrs. on low

Thawed in the Deep Covered Baker: Microwave on high 10-15 minutes.

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs. pork tenderloin

4T. Pampered Chef Smoky Barbeque Rub

1/8 cup Pampered Chef Garlic-Infused Canola Oil

1 yellow onion, wedged

Keep separate a 12-pack of Hawaiian Rolls. Freeze and thaw when ready to use.

 

 

 

Monday Musings: Watching it all fall into place

29 Sep
Our goal is always a simple one: to put our family first and have no regrets.

Our goal is always a simple one: to put our family first and have no regrets.

Someone posted this picture on Facebook a few weeks back, and I loved it then, so I saved it. It spoke to me in that it seemed to describe how we as parents try to live our lives. Like most parents, we put our children first and the decisions we make focus strictly on what’s best for them and for the way that we wish to mold them and the foundations we wish to give them.

We know that this time is limited and that it’s important. They’re only “ours” for a short time before we must set them free, off into the world to make their way, making life’s choices using all the tools we’ve given them in their tool-kits. As parents, we’ve taught them the importance of eating together around the table and talking things out. We’ve taught them how to solve problems and come out stronger in the end, how to do more on less, how to be frugal, how to appreciate the little things in life as well as what we believe the big things in life should be. We’ve passed on our strong morals and values and we’ve taught them to think of others before themselves.

And now, as our oldest has transitioned into the next phase of her life: high school, we’re watching it all fall into place. We’re watching all of our hard work, time and effort pay off.  As parents of a high school student, it’s our time now to step back a bit and watch our daughter use the tools in her tool-kit that we’ve helped her to stock over the years while we continue to help her fill it for the future.

It’s an amazing time, and yet it emphasizes the above quote to us even more. Our time with her in this capacity is short and we not only see the “light at the end of the tunnel,” but we actually see the end of the tunnel, we see our window of time together in this way, closing. As much as it saddens us to see her growing up, it thrills us to see her growing, maturing and becoming a confident, kind adult, the type of person we hoped we were raising and setting forth into the world.

It’s fulfilling to watch her make good choices (so far), to appreciate the things we’ve taught her to appreciate, to remember the talks around the dinner table and in the early after school hours as she makes some hard decisions, and to see her make good, solid, split decisions that put the needs of others before her own.

It’s nice to see it all coming together, to see the person we’ve molded, the foundation we’ve built coming into her own. We’re far from finished teaching her and our other children, that we know; our job’s not done, but it’s so nice to see the fruits of our labor coming to be and to see that it’s been worth all of the sacrifice, the time, effort and hard work that we’ve put into being parents, into raising and teaching our kids over anything else.

As the quote above says so well, we’ve found that time to be precious and to be a privilege, and we’re pleased to see that during this time of their lives, it’s precious and a privilege to our children as well, that they still look to us for the consistent advice and encouragement they’ve always relied on us for, and they still want to do the things together that we’ve always done as a family. They need us more now, as they’re getting older, than ever before.

It’ll be over in a blink and our nest will then be empty, but we’ll be able to be proud as we watch the adults we’ve raised from birth go into the world.

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Back by popular demand…two weeks of menu planning

24 Sep
Ready for another two weeks of dinners?

Ready for another two weeks of dinners?

Two weeks ago, for my What’s for Dinner Wednesday post, I shared with you our two week menu plan for the following two weeks. The post was very well received. I had so many people come up to me in person, thanking me for taking the time to share some menu ideas and inspiring them to create their own menus or inspiring them to try something new. Therefore, I thought I’d share again this week since it’s a new two-week cycle here at our house.

Meal planning at our house can happen at any time that we have about a half hour or so. We adults get our calendars out, figure out what nights we’re in, out, busy and not, and we start our planning. This time we spent about 45 minutes on a Saturday morning when all of our kids were out of the house at the same time. From there, I went right to the store(s) I needed in order to get everything for our menu “in stock.” I don’t love having to do lots of trips during the week to pick things up because I always see lots of things I “need” while I’m there. However, I won’t lie, those weeks do happen here, and when they do, we just deal with it as it comes. Not every week will work out so perfectly.

For the most part, we were able to stick to our menu for the whole two weeks prior, but there were a few switcharoos, and for those, we either skipped something all together or we saved it for this two-week cycle, so you may seem some repeats. And in general, there may just be some repeats because those choices work well for our family; they’re fast or they’re something everyone likes, or something like that.

I also had the pleasure of taking part in my friend Marica’s Dinners Done meal making and freezing party on Saturday night, so I had four meals automatically prepped and frozen that I could add to this menu plan. She’s a great Pampered Chef consultant, and if you’re local and you’d like to participate or host one of her Dinners Done meal prep events, please contact me and I’ll connect you to her. There are several menu options to choose from and you can either prep ahead ten meals or four. I chose to do four, and I am excited to try them out over the next couple of weeks!

Saturday: Hamburgers and hot dogs..easy peasy and we had a late afternoon ice cream social at church, so we didn’t want a big dinner. Technically ice cream *was* dinner.

Sunday: Wonton Lasagnas I had been craving these! We hadn’t had them since the winter and early spring months and they were a new find last year. They were a hit and we have enough leftover for another whole meal. If we don’t use the meal this first week, we’ll freeze them for the future.

Monday: Homemade chicken soup and homemade bread in the bread machine (coincidentally, three out of five of us were feeling under the weather on this night, and the soup was a perfect menu choice for us.)

This meal was tasty and a good way to combine a lot of things I had on hand.

Tuesday: Kielbasa with cabbage and noodles

Wednesday: Grilled chicken

Thursday: Meatballs in lemon basil sauce (from our make ahead meal party)

Friday: Pizza (olive/cheese, meatball/cheese, ham and pineapple) Friday nights are busy for us and this is a quick and easy meal. It’s also one of the only times we let them chill out and eat pizza in front of the TV, as a treat.

Saturday: Quesadillas

Sunday: Shepherd’s Pie (the meat for this is something I prepped ahead before school started.)

Monday: BBQ pork sliders (these are another meal from my make ahead meal party.)

Tuesday: open for any leftovers

Wednesday: Nicoise Salad (we didn’t eat this last time around so we moved it onto the menu this time around.)

Thursday: Breakfast for dinner: Fritatas we make many different kinds, but here’s one similar to a recent meal we had.

Friday: Crockpot lasagna (another make ahead meal from our party.)

Saturday: Company for dinner!

Sunday: Turkey tenderloin aka a mini-Thanksgiving dinner!

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Quick and Easy Sesame Chicken

17 Sep
This new recipe was definitely a keeper!!

This new recipe was definitely a keeper!!

My kids and I are professional mall food court stalkers. I seriously think we could make an entire meal of circling a food court at lunchtime and tasting the samples being given out. Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Sushi, Subway, Philly Cheese Steaks, you name it, I am pretty sure we’ve sampled it.

Not to mention, that I am seemingly the BEST mom ever for saying “Yes!” when they ask if we can go find samples in the food court. Seriously, if that’s all it takes, I’m golden. You’d think I’d said, “Yes, we’re going to DISNEY!” instead of allowing them to go eat a piece of chicken on a toothpick.

Anyway, I tell you all this because so often when we go food court sample stalking, we come across a Sesame Chicken at one of the Asian restaurants. I absolutely love Sesame Chicken. I’ve often fallen for the sample ploy at the food courts and caved into getting lunch there, all because of the Sesame Chicken.

My friend Paula recently sent me a recipe from E-D Does It for Quick and Easy Sesame Chicken, and it was just that: quick, and easy! Delicious too! If you’re a Sesame Chicken fan like me, then look no further than the E-D Does It recipe! I’ve linked to it just above, and copied it for you below.

Quick & Easy Sesame Chicken
Ingredients

For the chicken
4 medium chicken breasts (diced)
1 egg
2 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp rapeseed oil (or vegetable oil) *I used canola*
Salt & Pepper (to season)

For the sauce
5 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp sesame seeds
3 tbsp cider vinegar
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
4 cloves of garlic (chopped very finely)
80g of cooked rice per person

Method
1. In a large bowl, beat the egg. Add the corn starch to the egg and beat until well combined. Season well with salt and pepper.
2. Heat the rapeseed oil in the pan until very hot. Add the chicken to the egg mixture, stirring until all of the chicken is well coated. Now add the chicken to the hot oil. Stir occasionally and continue to cook until golden brown and the chicken is cooked through.
3. Meanwhile make the sauce by adding the soy sauce, sesame seeds, vinegar, brown sugar, cornstarch, water and oil together with the garlic.
4. Once the chicken is cooked, turn down the pan slightly and add the sauce mixture. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the sauce thickens and then remove from the heat.
5. Serve over a bed of rice and garnish with basil leaves.

 

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: How to plan ahead

10 Sep
Throw it all in, throw it all in the microwave, throw it all on the table.

With my Pampered Chef deep covered baker, cooking a chicken is so easy. I throw it all in, throw it all in the microwave, and throw it all on the table.

I’ve had a lot of positive feedback about my make ahead meal posts that I’ve written the past couple of weeks for my WFDW posts. I’m glad that they’re inspiring others to make some meals ahead. I wish I could take all the credit for this freezer meal inspiration, but I’m just sharing something I’ve read along the way too. Everyone helps everyone out by sharing what they’ve learned, read or tried, and I’m glad my posts are helpful.

I had a couple of people comment to me that the whole idea of planning ahead is just so overwhelming, they can’t even wrap their heads around it. I know I’ve written before about how we try to menu-plan ahead of time, but it’s been a while, so I thought I’d do a quick recap once again, to coincide with my make ahead meal series.

My husband is paid every two weeks and I am paid at the end of every month, so we try to plan our menus and our grocery shopping trip for our “big shopping,” as we call it, two weeks at at time. We try to go as soon as we can once he’s been paid, and most of the time we try to create a menu first which spans the two weeks.

Besides thinking about what we all like to eat and don’t like to eat, when planning our menu, we also look at our calendars and map out which nights one of us may have to work, or nights that are tight because the kids need to be somewhere early or right after dinner, or whatever the case may be. We cross off any nights we’re not eating at home, which doesn’t happen often, but on occasion there are some, and we try to plan fast meals for busy nights, big meals with leftovers that can be used for another dinner or lunches, on not-so-busy nights, and we try to stick with the menu plan as much as possible.

You’ll notice that in the paragraph above, I use the word “try” a lot. It’s because you still have to be flexible. Schedules change, so menus sometimes change too. Sometimes we don’t get to do the big shopping and we’re stuck planning on the fly, by the day and picking up what we can, when we can. Sometimes we don’t get to do a menu ahead but we have time to do a quick big shopping and we grab staples we always use in our menus and plan our menu around what we’ve bought.

Either way, my point is that no matter how you do it, planning ahead is worthwhile for organizational purposes, and for staying on budget as well. The less times I enter a store, the less extra items that I just “have to have” that week!

I thought I’d leave you here with the list we came up with for our two weeks of meals, and a few tidbits about how they’ll serve us well on that particular night. I’ve also linked to the recipes on my blog from past posts if I had them.

Sunday: Chicken dinner (we had most of the day to do a big Sunday dinner, it’s one we all love, and it made enough for leftovers for lunches. Two people had chicken sandwiches the next day stuffed with cranberry sauce and stuffing, and one had chicken salad the day after that.)

Monday: Quesadillas (everyone likes at least one variety or another of these and they are great for lunches the next day.)

Tuesday: London Broil (marinated ahead and frozen for a busy day.)

Wednesday: Pasta and meatballs (very busy day, one parent working at night, kids all over at night, and makes enough for leftovers for lunches or dinner.)

Thursday: Pulled pork in the crock pot (same sort of night as Wednesday, everyone likes this, we can eat and run, and have leftovers for lunches or another dinner.)

Friday: Homemade pizza and salad (a favorite meal, three different varieties of pizza for a busy night, and usually we have enough left to freeze some for the future or to use for lunches.)

Saturday: California Chicken with cheddar cheese and avocados (this is a one time only meal. No leftovers. Anyone can make their chicken any way they’d like.)

Sunday: (Eating out with a gift card to celebrate a special event.)

Monday: Chicken Marsala (a family favorite, served with noodles on the side for the one person who doesn’t like chicken. Makes enough for leftovers.)

Tuesday: Nicoise (a favorite French dish, a quick meal to pull together, provides some leftovers for lunch.)

Wednesday: Soup and sandwiches (a crazy night, soup will be made ahead of time using the carcass from the previous week’s chicken dinner, and reheated.)

Thursday: Pasta and Meatballs again! (another crazy night.)

Friday: Payday! Chinese takeout!!

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: More Make Ahead Meals

3 Sep
I'm on a roll, what's the next batch of dinners I can cook ahead?

I’m on a roll, what’s the next batch of dinners I can cook ahead?

Ever since I did all my meal prep prior to the start of school last week, I have been looking at every meal with new eyes. Every time I cook something or eat something, I think to myself, “Could I prep this ahead?”  If I determine I can’t prep it ahead, I try to think of whether or not I could even just prep a part of it ahead.

I’ve come up with some good ideas though. We recently had Tortellini, Shrimp and Tomato Soup for dinner, and I realized that I could easily make up some batches of the soup without the tortellini and shrimp in it, freeze it and reheat it, adding the cooked tortellini and cooked shrimp in at the end. Also, having the soup prepared ahead makes a great option for my own lunches, even if I don’t add in the pasta and shrimp. It’s good just as a tomato soup, and in fact that’s how one of my kids eats it; I separate out a small batch for her to eat plain.

That led me to wonder, how many other soups could I make ahead and freeze? And what else is good to make ahead?

We just marinated a London Broil for a future meal, using this marinade. It’s good on steak and on pork. Pork tenderloins and London Broils are super easy to marinate ahead and freeze.

Pasta of all kinds, as well as sauce and meatballs, also very easy to make ahead and freeze.

I’d like to hear from you! What do you think would be a great make ahead dinner to make and freeze for future meals? Do you have any super successful meals you’ve frozen in the past? Anything you would NOT recommend freezing? I once saw a movie where the main character froze absolutely everything, from milk and cheese to lettuce. That’s not me.

Not yet anyway. :)

Leave me a comment below if you have some great make ahead meals! In the meantime, check out the recipes I have linked here and enjoy!

 

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