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What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Pandemic version

18 Mar

Planning meals for the next 14 days was particularly challenging this time around. No frozen veggies to be found.

Well. Here we are.

We are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. The novel coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, has made its way through the world, currently hitting the United States. Week by week, day by day panic has set in nationwide as people prep for the unknown, fearing potential lockdown or shelter in place rulings in cities and states, and in some places, they are already living under that ruling. Since we are not at that point yet in our city or state, many people here are planning and stocking up for the next 14 days at a minimum, and with everyone everywhere doing that, it’s made grocery shopping and meal planning quite challenging. To add to the challenge, two of our three kids are quarantined as they were potentially exposed to COVID-19 at school, while the rest of us are not.

As I began my shopping last week, I did not go in with a specific list of items I needed for definite meals because I had already heard of the difficulty people were having at the stores, with empty shelves everywhere. Instead, I went in hoping to find two weeks’ worth of things I could make meals out of and I planned my meals on the spot as I found items in each store I went to.

Therefore, the list of meals below is what I came up with using what we had on hand at home and what I found between Aldi, Shaw’s, Stop and Shop, Target, Dave’s Market (a local RI market) Price Rite, and Whole Foods over the span of about five days’ time.

Because we are just starting our two weeks of our pandemic menu, the first few days are laid out specifically while the next many are not assigned to certain days yet, but are on deck for any night during the next two weeks.

Sunday, March 15: Corned Beef in the Instant Pot:  (We had purchased the corned beef ahead of time, so we were ready for this and chose to do it as a Sunday dinner instead of on St. Patrick’s Day.

Monday, March 16: Chicken and Steak Fajitas: using this recipe for fajita seasoning from allrecipes.com. I chose this because one store had one package left of stir fry steak and we had a few frozen chicken tenderloins left. The same store with the steak also had beautiful looking peppers, and the inspiration for a meal was made on the spot.

This was a brand new recipe we tried thanks to a friend who shared it on social media that same day.

Tuesday, March 17: Pasta with Bolognese Sauce: This was completely unexpected. I found two, one-pound packages of ground beef at one store, and I had previously stocked up on pasta from another store a few days earlier. I hadn’t decided what to do with the ground beef yet, other than maybe tacos in week two since we’d already done fajitas in week one. A friend posted photos, saying that she was making this recipe (by Giada De Laurentiis) at her house and it looked amazing. I realized I had all the ingredients at home and decided to make it that same night.

Meal options from March 18 through March 29:

4) Barbecued Pork Chops

5) Pork tenderloin with homemade applesauce

6) Steaks (What kind of steaks? I don’t even know but there were two of them left and they looked like they would be enough for our family. I knew we could figure out what they were and what we could do with them later on.)

7) A “big salad”

8) Homemade soup, most likely chicken and rice.

9) Make your own pizzas

10) Teriyaki chicken wings and legs

11) Tacos

12) Hamburgers and french fries

13) Something With Stew Meat

14) Breakfast for dinner: french toast and sausage because we had the sausage already and I finally found a couple of loaves of bread.

 

As I look at the categories listed as options to tag this post, a few of the ones I often use were just out the window this time around, specifically “Eating on a Budget” and “Shopping on a Budget.” I determined early on that we were “Eating What the Store Sold” and “Shopping for Whatever We Could Find No Matter What it Cost Until We Had 14 Meals For 5 People,” for the most part. Everything we make is still allergy-friendly for those with gluten and dairy allergies and they’re all relatively healthy meals.

This meal was a keeper and it was very easy to make.

I hope that all of you are safe and sound, healthy and that you all remain so.  I hope that you have good luck shopping for your own household needs over the coming days and weeks and maybe if you’ve purchased any of the same things I did, you can find some meal inspiration in this post to keep you going.

 

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Two weeks of meals

5 Feb

Beef Burgundy is a recipe I grew up on and it’s a favorite of mine.

It’s hard to believe that it’s already February. The month of January seemed forever long, mixed in with a couple of cases of the flu at our house, and I was more than happy to turn the calendar page over. Bye-bye January, nice to see you come, nice to see you go.

Now, it’s midweek and we’re about to wrap up our two-week menu, so I thought I’d share it here today to give you some meal inspiration for the weeks ahead. Whenever I can, I include the link to a recipe for you and I even treated you to a brand new recipe which you can find at the end.

Sunday: Chicken Parmesean and pasta

Monday: Sloppy Joe sandwiches and french fries (this is nothing fancy, and out of a can, usually slated for a night I’m not home for dinner.

Tuesday: Beef Burgundy

Wednesday: Teriyaki Chicken Thighs with baked potatoes and snap peas using this recipe for the sauce.

We buy boneless, skinless thighs to make them a little bit healthier.

Thursday: Creamy Avocado Pasta with chicken and grape tomatoes (This was a new recipe for us.  See recipe below.)

Friday: Homemade chicken burgers with salad

Saturday: College kid visit, dinner out

Sunday: Superbowl Sunday (Our contributions: potato skins, chicken wings, Buffalo chicken dip, and chili)

Monday: Soup and sandwiches

Tuesday: DIY Spinach salad (Toppings included chicken strips, pecan halves, Craisins, bacon, Feta cheese, grape tomatoes

Wednesday: Pizza dinner fundraiser night at Blaze Pizza (We love Blaze, it’s one of the only places nearby where we can get gluten-free crust AND vegan cheese on a pizza for our daughter.)

We put out all of the ingredients and everyone adds what they want to their salad.

Thursday: BBQ Ribs, oven-roasted baby bliss potatoes, and veggies

Friday: Pesto salmon (Salmon coated in pesto and baked in foil in the oven)

 

NEW RECIPE

        Here is the new recipe for the Creamy Avocado Pasta along with our minor modifications to the ingredients. We also added chicken to our recipe.  This recipe is a clean eating recipe and I found it here as part of a four-week meal plan. This recipe is from week three but you can find all four weeks here. Thanks so much to Homemade for Elle for the free recipes and meal plans. We have gotten a great deal of inspiration from them.

 

This recipe was new and it was given a thumbs up from all of us.

Ingredients:

`12 oz. whole wheat spaghetti (we used gluten-free and regular pasta)

2 avocados, ripe, halved, seeded and peeled

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (we used dried basil)

3 cloves minced garlic

Juice from one lemon (we used bottled)

1/3 cup of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

Directions

Bring pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

In a food processor, combine avocados, basil, garlic, and lemon juice. Turn food processor on and slowly drizzle in olive oil.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add avocado mixture to your warm pasta and toss until mixed well.

Add in cherry tomatoes and serve warm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Pizza-stuffed chicken from Clean Eating Magazine

22 Jan

This was a savory new recipe that we can’t wait to try again.

We have had the chance to try out lots of new recipes over the past year or so and this one was a family favorite. It’s somewhat similar to the one I posted a few weeks ago, in that it’s pizza-themed and it’s also one from Clean Eating Magazine, but it’s been on my mind so I wanted to share it. We actually have a whole binder of clean eating and gluten/dairy-free recipes we’ve ripped out of various magazine issues over the past year to try out, and this one is one we tried early in October.  It was particularly good as leftovers too, once all the flavors had really had a chance to set in for a couple of days. We’ve actually had success with just about all the new recipes we’ve tried and it’s nice to have new things to try.

The recipe was simple and had easy ingredients that we usually have on hand. It can also be tailored to the things you like or don’t like. We made a gluten-free/dairy-free version and a regular version so that we all could enjoy the new meal.

The magazine feature actually recommends prepping this meal on Sunday and then it’ll be ready to eat later in the week, and it recommends grilling the chicken. We baked ours in the oven.

Here is the recipe as found on the pages of Clean Eating Magazine.

 

Ingredients

  • 4 6-oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, patted dry
  • 1¼ cups marinara sauce, divided
  •  mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 12 slices uncured pepperoni
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano, divided

Preparation

Prep Ahead

1. Cut each breast through the middle to form a 2- to 3-inch pocket, taking care not to cut all the way through. Spread 1 tbsp sauce on inside of each pocket. Divide mozzarella, pepperoni, basil and ½ tbsp oregano among pockets. Close pocket and use a toothpick to secure. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

The Day Of

2. When ready to cook, preheat grill to medium-high. Pat chicken dry. Brush chicken with oil; season all over with salt, pepper and remaining ½ tbsp oregano.

3. Place remaining 1 cup marinara sauce in a small pan; warm over medium-low heat. Grill chicken until cheese has melted and chicken is cooked through (a thermometer inserted into thickest part of a breast should read 165ºF), 4 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a cutting board; tent with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve chicken with warmed marinara on the side.

New year, new recipe: Eggplant Pizzas from Clean Eating Magazine

6 Jan

These have been a delicious new addition to our menus.

Happy New Year!

We are five days into 2020 already. Are you used to writing the new year on everything yet? I’m slowly getting there.

I have a brand new recipe for you this week since it’s a new year. It’s one we tried out last year and loved and we’ve made it a couple of times, so it’s worth sharing out.

Last year our middle daughter subscribed to Clean Eating Magazine. We already receive Gluten-Free Living Magazine and we get a lot of recipe inspiration from them, in addition to all the things we see and try online, we’ve tried many recipes from these two magazines as well.

Today’s recipe for Eggplant Pizzas is from Clean Eating Magazine and you click right through to see it. It’s relatively simple to make and it’s definitely a healthier option than regular pizza. It’s also not expensive to make, making it budget-friendly. As with any kind of pizza recipe, this one allows you to tailor your pizzas to how you like them so if you don’t like pepperoni or roasted red peppers, you can skip them. It’s easy to switch up the ingredients as you wish. I like artichoke hearts, pepperoni, olives and roasted red peppers on mine.

You can tailor the ingredients to include the ones you like and leave off the ones you don’t.

Done and ready to eat!

A quick and easy holiday side dish: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Butternut Squash, Pecans and Cranberries

30 Nov

This was a delicious new roasted vegetable recipe we tried this Thanksgiving. It would also be great for Christmas!

There is an old saying that you never try out a new recipe for company, but generally, that’s when we always do. This new recipe came across my virtual desktop on social media a few weeks ago, and I saved it to try out on Thanksgiving. If you like all of the veggies that are on the ingredients list and you enjoy a desserty side dish, this is a great one to try out.

I had never visited the Julia’s Album site before, it’s another new one for me, but this recipe intrigued me. I was not only drawn to it by its ingredients which were all my favorites (butternut squash, cranberries, and Brussels Sprouts) but also the fact that the recipe seemed quick and easy. I cheated and bought my squash already peeled, cut, and cubed, so I only had to trim the ends off the Brussels and cut them in half. You could roast both sets of veggies in the oven at the same time and after everything is roasted you toss it all together and it’s done.

Because Julia shared that she likes to post easy-to-make weeknight dinner recipes, I think I’ll be visiting her blog often. I hope you’ll head over and check it out too.

I’ve linked to the recipe twice above, rather than listing out all of the ingredients and directions here because she has some good tips and tricks for prepping (like cooking both sets of veggies at the same time) and some substitution ideas as well. You can see it all at once by clicking on the links above.

Additionally, a reminder to use your leftover turkey! We made turkey noodle soup from scratch last night with some, and I plan to make open-faced turkey pot pie this week using this recipe from years ago. I plan to use the ingredients for the filling and skip the crust, and we’ll put it on top of our leftover mashed potatoes with a side of veggies.

Next week I’ll start reposting my “Your Tray or Mine” Christmas Cookie recipes. I will do a few a week for three weeks until they’re all reposted. Before we know it, I’ll be wishing you a Happy New Year!

Enjoy the rest of this long weekend,
Jen

Our Thanksgiving recipes for you all in one place

25 Nov

These were a delicious after school snack on Friday and breakfast on Saturday.

Happy Monday! For many of us, myself included, this is a short week. I am thankful for the short week as it was such a busy weekend.

I’ve been doing a lot of baking these past few days and digging up some older recipes on my blog. Each time I’ve made something, I’ve made a mental note to repost some of these older recipes, so today I’ve decided to post them all in one place.

The Peanut Butter Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffins shown here were first posted in 2015, and I made them on Friday afternoon. It had been a long time since I was able to make something for the kids after school, but I had some time on Friday between getting home from one job and heading out to the other. Everyone would be home before me, so I left them with a note that said 1) Yes, these are for you. 2) Yes, you can eat them now. 3) Peanut Butter Pumpkin Chocolate Chip. 4) Yes, they are gluten and dairy-free. 5) Two each. That answered all the questions I knew they’d come in asking me if I were there. They made a great after school snack for them and breakfast in the morning on what would be a busy Saturday with people going in all directions.

Last week, our office had a Friendsgiving, and I decided to make a dessert that I like to make every year, crustless Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes. You serve them with a dollop of whipped cream on top and it’s just like having a little taste of pumpkin pie, minus the crust. I have made these gluten and dairy-free in the past, and I will do that again this week for Thanksgiving. We use a Reddi-Whip dairy-free whipped cream on top. I first posted this recipe in 2012.

These have been a family favorite for years. They can be made jumbo-sized as I did here, or slightly smaller.

Yesterday, my daughter hosted a Friendsgiving at our house. It was a perfect-sized group, not too big or too small, and everyone brought something, which made it manageable for her to host. We made a turkey breast using the Instant Pot, which was phenomenal and cooked in about 40 minutes. In addition, I opted to contribute a gluten and dairy-free option so that our other daughter could have dessert too, even though we had so many others coming. It was not her event, but I knew she’d want to partake in the dessert course. My husband loves these Pilgrim Pies and has been asking for them for a few weeks, so that’s why I chose to make them. I used my Pampered Chef medium scoop to make them but I could have used my small scoop to make even more of them if I wanted to. These have been a favorite for years, and last year my oldest even made a batch to bring back to school with her for all her dorm friends at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend.

One of our favorite Thanksgiving traditions involves this next recipe for Pumpkin Cranberry Bread.  It was a recipe given to me by my mother, and I know that she makes it too. I will start baking up batches of this today and bake several over the next few days. Each batch makes two loaves or one loaf plus three mini loaves. Sometimes I will swap in chocolate chips instead of cranberries for some of the loaves since not everyone loves cranberries. On Thanksgiving morning we slice this up, butter it and grill it for breakfast. When the kids were very small we would line them all up in our bed, pillows propped up behind them and breakfast trays in their laps. They’d eat their bread, drink out of their sippy cups, and watch the Macy’s parade. I have a favorite photo of them doing just that, our littlest one propped up in the middle of the two older ones, and I think of it every time I make this bread.  Now, some sleep through the parade, or we record it to watch later, but we always have the bread. This year we will be at our school’s football game as our youngest is in the marching band and they will be performing. No matter what we do on Thanksgiving morning though, there will always be bread.

The final recipe I will share with you today is also a tradition for our family. It comes from my mother inlaw Marylou and we’ve been making it ever since I had it at her house many years ago. Marylou’s Sweet Potato Casserole is my kind of recipe. It’s got butter and sugar and vanilla and brown sugar. It’s got a root vegetable in there too, so maybe it’s good for you? It doesn’t matter, because it’s Thanksgiving and we eat this just once a year. I am excited to bake this on Wednesday night, but even more excited to eat in on Thursday afternoon. You can make this with nuts or without. In the past, I’ve done both versions, but this year since we have a smaller crowd, most of whom do not like nuts, I will just do one version and skip the nuts.

I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving and enjoy some time to relax and reflect. The weeks ahead will again be busy, but it’s the time we get to spend together as well as the special family traditions we’ve established over the years and look forward to every year,  that makes it all worth it in the end.

-Jen

What’s for dinner Wednesday? Instant Pot Beef Stew

20 Nov

Sunday was busy. It was also cold, rainy, and we even saw flurries. Beef Stew was a perfect meal for such a day.

I’m on a roll! Two posts in one week.

Today’s post brings back the often requested “What’s for Dinner Wednesday” posts. I am going to share the meal we had on Sunday night, which was the night we were finishing up our weekend of bathroom renovation painting, I worked during the day, and my husband planned the meals while I worked and did the week’s grocery shopping. It was a super-busy day and it was cold.

While I was at work I got a text asking if he could plan Beef Stew for dinner for that night. He wasn’t sure if anyone besides him actually liked it. I said to go for it, and he found a recipe for the Instantpot, which would help us cook while we painted right up through dinnertime.

The recipe was from a site we had never visited before, The Salty Marshmallow. They boast having quick and easy recipes for the everyday cook. That’s us. We are everyday cooks and we needed quick and easy. You can find the recipe here

The Salty Marshmallow said their recipe was “the best ever” Beef Stew recipe, and I think they were right. This was the best, most tender, most flavorful Beef Stew I have had. I am not a huge fan of cooked carrots (unless they’re cooked in honey and butter and raisins and brown sugar, but that’s a whole different recipe) so we also threw in a bag of frozen whole green beans as well. As this meal cooked, our house smelled so delicious. Our mouths were watering by the time it was finished.

This was the most delicious Beef Stew I have ever had.

Because this recipe calls for cornstarch at the end, it was gluten-free and that made it something that all of us could eat. My youngest who not only has food allergies but also doesn’t love meat, ate an entire bowl of stew (minus the actual meat itself). That was huge. The stew was incredibly flavorful and the meat, for those of us who did eat it, was tender and delicious.

This was a meal we’d most definitely make again and I think we were all wishing we’d made it sooner.  Over at The Salty Marshmallow, there are some tips for success when making this stew and I hope you’ll check them out before making the recipe.

Have a great day and enjoy the stew!