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Two weeks of meals and a new recipe for you

12 Oct
One of my favorite fall meals ever: Cranberry Chicken

One of my favorite fall meals ever: Cranberry Chicken

Happy Wednesday everyone!

There is a crisp feeling in the air these days and just the other night, I did it: I turned on the heat in the house.

With the change in season comes some meals on our bi-weekly menu that we don’t make really any other time of the year. We all get excited when we see the reappearance of those menu items.

Without further ado, here is our list for the current two weeks of meals. I hope that you’ll find something on this list that inspires you too!


Monday: Whole chicken (this was a carryover from last time, we never got to have it during that two week cycle.)

Tuesday: National Taco Day, so……tacos

Wednesday: Pasta de Peche (this is an old Italian egg drop soup kind of pasta recipe. It reminds me of my childhood but it’s actually a recipe my daughter brought home from her friend’s house and it is her grandmother’s recipe. It is so simple, so here it is as we make it for a family of four, and then we make smaller version for one gluten free:

16 oz. box of pasta, 4 scrambled eggs, 4 cubes of chicken bouillon, drizzle of olive oil

Boil the pasta as usual. When it is done, drain the water but do not take the pasta out of the pan. Leave a small amount of water in the bottom. Shut the heat off and add in beaten egg with a little olive oil. Stir into pasta. Add in (Herbox) bouillon. Stir until egg has cooked. Add a butter, salt and pepper to taste.    (For the gluten free version the box of pasta is 8.8 oz, so we use 2 eggs and 2 bouillon cubes.)

Thursday: Steaks

Friday: out to dinner

1Saturday: DIY tortilla pizzas (corn tortillas for gluten free)

Sunday: Pork Chops

Monday: Cranberry Chicken

Tuesday: Grilled chicken with melted cheese and avocado

Wednesday: Pasta with zucchini rounds parmesan (This is a new recipe, I will let you know how it goes!)

Thursday: Chicken wings and legs

Friday: Hamburgers, chicken burgers and hot dogs


A Menu, A Recipe and A Warning

21 Sep
Ready for another two weeks of dinners?

Ready for another two weeks of dinners?


How I enjoy the little breaks that I get in September.

The start of school comes barreling in for weeks before that actual first day. They are filled with doctor appointments of all kinds-eyes, teeth, and school physicals, along with coaches’ practices for school sports teams, and whatever else we manage to squeeze in. We shop for clothes, shoes, notebooks and pencils. Those last two weeks of summer vacation fly by and then suddenly, the front door opens and closes a few times one morning, and by 7:30 am, everyone is gone. The house is incredibly silent. So much so that I sit and revel in the silence for a little while, sad, but yet relieved. We did it. We made it to the first day of school.


Because I am primarily a school news reporter, this early part of September is my down time, and I enjoy it very much. I still work, but the intensity of my job is lower at the start of the year and it gives me a few weeks to ease into the school routines before it really picks up and we fly into the fall and holiday season of writing, school and family commitments.

This is the time of year I can start to try out some recipes that I’ve been putting aside, sharing on Facebook so I don’t forget where to find them, looking through cookbooks and this is the time of year I have the most time to share them on The Whole Bag of Chips. I even have the time to look up and link up the recipes for any of the meals I’ve shared previously.

Since last year I hardly had any time at all, and since it’s September now, I am giving you a nice, full post today. It’s got our Two Weeks of Meals menu for this week and next, a new recipe we tried out last week and surprise….a safety warning to go along with it!

First off: Two Weeks of Meals

Sunday: Homemade Chili (and later, homemade chocolate pudding for dessert!)

Monday: Paninis

Tuesday: Baked potato soup (new recipe we’re trying out)

Wednesday: Ravioli with sauteed shrimp and grape tomatoes

Thursday: Grilled chicken caesar salad

Friday: Homemade pizza

Saturday: Kielbasa

Sunday: Baked chicken dinner

Monday: Meatloaf burgers

Tuesday: Chicken pot pie (made with the leftover chicken from Sunday)

Wednesday: Cauliflower/Broccoli/Chicken casserole

Thursday: Eggplant Parmesean and pasta

Friday: Leftovers


This was a gluten free, lowfat recipe we tried out recently and loved. Every single person gave it a thumbs up. Literally.

This was a gluten free, lowfat recipe we tried out recently and loved. Every single person gave it a thumbs up. Literally.

Next Up: A New Recipe for you to try out, and a warning to go along with it!

Our menu planning is challenging for us because we are trying to combine meals that work for our busy schedule with providing healthy eating options for our family and making it either a gluten free meal or providing almost the exact same option in a gluten free version, every night. Not to mention, we try not to make things we know people don’t like.


But doable.

So this recipe for the Skinnytaste Zucchini Lasagna is one that I saw on Facebook, and I shared it out so that I wouldn’t forget where it was. We really wanted to try it, so we added it to the last two-week menu cycle of meals. It was delicious. A little labor-intensive, so we scheduled it on a night we’d be eating later, with more time to cook. I’d be working that night and my husband would be able to come in a little earlier in the evening to help make it, and to help with all the nighttime pick-ups for the kids.

What’s that they say about the best laid plans?

This was a delicious meal, any leftovers disappeared within days, and we'd definitely make it again, just a little more carefully next time.

This was a delicious meal, any leftovers disappeared within days, and we’d definitely make it again, just a little more carefully next time.


Be sure to use ALL parts of your kitchen tools, especially the guards for the sharper ones!

Be sure to use ALL parts of your kitchen tools, especially the guards for the sharper ones!


And so, here is the final part of my post for you: the safety warning.

The warning goes like this:

If you are using a sharp kitchen tool, be sure that you are using all of the necessary parts and pieces that go with it. They are there for a reason! Zucchini is a slippery veggie and kitchen tools are very sharp. If you are not careful, you may end up heading out to the emergency room instead of heading to the dinner table!


Have a safe and  happy new school year, a happy fall season and a happy two weeks of meals!

New recipe: Stuffed Pepper Casserole from Skinny Mom and Sue

27 Jun
A new recipe for us!

A new recipe for us!

Well here it is, the last week of June!

Hooray!!! We made it to summer vacation! I will admit, there were days and nights I didn’t think it would ever, ever, EVER get here, and the final month of the school year was absolutely brutal to get through, but we did it. We have a newly minted junior in high school, an eighth grader, and a sixth grader, and we will finally be back in just two schools again next year, rather than the three from this year.

To help us make it through the year, we relied on many of our tried and true recipes, but there were also a couple of new ones thrown in there every so often. This is one I have been wanting to post for some time now, but I just never had a chance to get on and do it.

I’ve mentioned my friend Sue on this blog a few times already. You can read about Sue, her kindness, generosity and her fabulous recipes here and here.  Sue has this wonderful habit of texting me to let me know that she’s left me a treat in her milkbox. It might be a bag of the snacks I linked to just now, or it might be cookies, or a book, or in one case, a container of a new recipe she had tried out. The recipe was for a Stuffed Pepper Casserole and it was from the blog Skinny Mom. You can view the recipe here.

I love the look and smell of fresh veggies cooking!

I love the look and smell of fresh veggies cooking!

As soon as I tried Sue’s casserole (which was gluten free and low fat, perfect for our family’s needs) I knew I had to add it to one of our two week menu plans. Sue had made some adjustments of her own, adding in mushrooms, using the sauce she likes, and things like that, and I opted to do the same thing. We added in mushrooms and olives, used a sauce we liked, and I even decided to double the recipe, thinking we’d then have it leftover for another night’s meal.

I cooked this recipe in my new Pampered Chef stir fry pan, and as I did, I quickly realized that not only would I have enough leftover for another meal that week, but I actually had enough for two full casseroles: one for that week with leftovers and one to bag up into a large-sized ziploc freezer bag and freeze for a future night. It would just need to be thawed out and baked with cheese on top.

I also tried out a new gluten-free biscuit mix which we flavored with a garlic powder and butter topping, and that went over well too. All in all, I had a new, delicious meal and I had enough for a whole second meal as well. It was a win-win for us. I would most definitely make this meal again in the future. Anyone who loves stuffed peppers or even American Chopped Suey, would love this recipe too! I encourage you to try it, and I thank Sue for sharing it with me!

I quickly realized that I had enough meat for not one, but two casseroles!

I quickly realized that I had enough meat for not one, but two casseroles!




What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Tomato Salad with a Twist

25 May
Doesn't it look delicious?

Doesn’t it look delicious?

It’s been a little while since I have posted a new recipe and I’ve been wanting to share this one since last month when we first tried it. The recipe is one that one of my daughters found on the back of a Whole Grain Wheat Reduced Fat Triscuit box. Our family loves these Triscuits and we keep them on hand regularly, so once we saw this recipe, we continued to see it on every box of Triscuits we bought. Each time we’d buy a new box, my daughter would say, “Mom, we have to make this!”

Finally over the school break in April, I made sure we had all the necessary ingredients, and we finally made it. I truly enjoy cooking with fresh veggies and it makes me so excited for summertime, when we have our own garden. Tomatoes are a favorite of almost everyone here, and we especially love the more unusually colored varieties along with the typical reds. This time around I bought a large container that had a mixture of several types of tomatoes in it, and it made for such a beautiful salad.

Since one of the girls eats a gluten free diet, I chose to make hers separately with no Triscuits and no red onions, since she doesn’t like those either. Tomatoes are one of her favorite snacks though, so she was just as excited as everyone else for this new recipe.

Each time we bought a new box of Triscuits, we'd be reminded of this recipe that we just had to try!

Each time we bought a new box of Triscuits, we’d be reminded of this recipe that we just had to try!

This was a simple recipe to follow. It is called a Panzanella Salad, but it’s very much like our usual Caprese salads, just with a bit of a twist, provided by the added Triscuits. There is no cooking involved, just chopping, slicing, dicing and assembling, so the preparation was quick. We just had to keep stopping ourselves from snacking as I was prepping.

While I cut up the tomatoes and the cheese, I had my daughter prep the Triscuits, counting out the amount the recipe asked for, and breaking them into bite-sized pieces. That was definitely a “one for me, one for the bowl” activity as well.

We served this with a dinner of hot dogs and hamburgers, and it was the perfect side dish. It’s going to make a great addition to our sides for this upcoming summer. We loved the added crunch to the salad that the Triscuits provided, and my younger daughter enjoyed her gluten free version just as much as we enjoyed ours.

Here is the recipe according to the Triscuit box:


  • 1-1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup slivered red onions
  • 18 Triscuit Reduced Fat Crackers, coarsely broken
  • 3 Tbsp. reduced-fat balsamic dressing
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper



Combine  first 3 ingredients in medium bowl.

Mix  dressing and garlic until blended.

Add to cracker mixture; mix lightly. Let stand 30 min.

Tear  basil into small pieces. Add to tomato mixture along with the pepper; mix lightly.


Even when made gluten free, this is a delicious side dish!

Even when made gluten free, this is a delicious side dish!




Two weeks of meals

5 Feb
menu clip art

Ready for another two weeks of dinners?

It’s the end of another week, and it’s pay day, so that means it’s time for our family to plan another two weeks of meals! We had a successful two weeks of meal planning, so I thought I’d share the meal plan that we just finished. Maybe it will provide you with some inspiration for your own meal planning! Our meals incorporate our dietary needs and I’ve indicated any place where we’ve had to make adjustments. I have also linked over to the recipes if I have previously posted them on the blog before.

Sunday: Marinated pork tenderloin, homemade applesauce, potatoes and corn.

Monday: Hot dogs and hamburgers, french fries, veggies.

Tuesday: Taco Bake

Wednesday: Cranberry Chicken

Thursday: Chicken Marsala (We used a new gluten free chicken recipe from the Gluten Free Bible cookbook and cornstarch in our sauce instead of flour.)

Friday: Pizza (using a frozen gluten free pizza from Trader Joes for one of the pizzas)

1Saturday:  Tacos (using gluten free corn tortillas)

Sunday: Lasagna (we made one large regular, and one small gluten free, and wrapped the leftover gluten free in individual portions for the freezer.)

Monday: Paninis (We used gluten free bread for one sandwich.)

Tuesday: Whole chicken microwaved in the Pampered Chef Deep Dish Baker, mashed potatoes, vegetables.

Wednesday: Stir Fry (chicken, broccoli, snap peas, carrots, zucchini) over white rice

Thursday: Homemade chicken pot pie using the leftover chicken from Tuesday plus the rest of the mashed potatoes. (We bought a miniature gluten free chicken pot pie for one serving.)

Friday: Leftovers (stir fry, pot pie, lasagna)


2*As an added bonus for you this week, here is the recipe for the Parmesan-crusted chicken from the Gluten Free Bible which is mentioned above in the Chicken Marsala recipe.*

Makes four servings

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup gluten free all purpose flour blend

2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

Pound chicken to 1/4 inch thickness. Combine cheese, flour blend, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper in large resealable bag. Add one chicken breast at a time, shake to coat evenly. heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken in single layer four to five minutes per side or until golden brown and no longer pink.



I’m in love.

1 Feb

It’s February, and I’m in love.

My heart pitter-patters and I think about the new object of my affection constantly. What will we do together next? What new things will we try? For years I hoped and prayed I’d find love like this again. It had been so long since my last love affair.

I wasn’t even planning for this, and it has taken me completely by surprise, which I guess is the best kind of love.


That’s right, I’m in love with my new Stir Fry pan from Pampered Chef. Now I’m not a Pampered Chef consultant, and I don’t pretend to even play one on TV, but I.LOVE.THIS.PAN.

And I’m pretty sure my husband does too.

You see, years and years (and years) ago, my husband and I had received a beautiful piece of cookware from his grandmother. It was a nice, deep Teflon saute pan and it had a glass cover for the top and two handles for the side. I loved that pan. We used it constantly and it was the perfect size for all our meals, even as our family expanded from two, to three, to four, and finally to five hungry mouths to feed. We could saute, cook, simmer. You name it, we cooked it in that pan.

And then, one day, try as we would to deny the obvious, we realized our pan was getting old and scratched and we thought we were seeing evidence of little bits of Teflon coming off.

Clearly, you’re not supposed to use Teflon as an added ingredient in your recipes.

We had to say good bye to our pan.

I missed that pan

Don’t get me wrong, we had other pans. We even had two cast iron pans that we loved, but it wasn’t the same. We had to use both pans at once to make some of our saucier meals because one wasn’t deep enough to hold everything. My stir fry meals toppled over the sides of just one pan, our sauces bubbled over. We didn’t have a true matching cover to go with our pans.

I was sad.

And then suddenly, I wasn’t!

A few weeks ago, my very good-I’ve-known-her-almost-as-long-as-I’ve-known-my-husband-friend Marcia asked me if I would host a new kind of Pampered Chef party. She’s been a consultant for years and years now, and there was a new kind of party she wanted to try: a virtual party on Facebook. Would I try it?

Sure thing! I love Facebook because it’s where I get to see lots of family and friends from all over the country, all over the world! And, it’s where I get a lot of great recipes! I invited hundreds of people. Literally. I can fit a good 10-12 in my living room, but this let me be unlimited. I didn’t have to worry about space or weather or distance. I had all kinds of out of state friends on my list.

The party would last one hour and be completely virtual. No ingredients to buy, no house to clean, no makeup to put on. I could sit in my bed under my electric blanket and play along with the games, talk to my guests and watch the videos of all the great new tools that I would suddenly have to have.

As many parties as I’ve had in the past, it never even occurred to me to check out the January hostess benefits, or even to ask. Suddenly though, as I had my party, the orders started coming in. Notification after notification arrived in my email inbox. As my youngest daughter partied in my bed along with me, part playing along and part watching iCarly on the TV, I decided we’d better check things out on the hostess benefits page of my party website.

Sure enough, January was DOUBLE hostess benefits month!

Who knew?

Well, probably lots of people, but I was happily surprised!! Suddenly, even my daughter was paying attention to them and we looked at the videos and photos popping up throughout the party with new eyes.

Granted, I have lots and lots of Pampered Chef tools. I have been creating a collection of great pieces since before my wedding when I had my first party as a newly engaged young 20-something, and I use them all the time.

When all was said and done, I had earned……

Wait for it…..

$530 to spend outright, plus five half price items and one 60% off item, and I received two booking credits for people who had agreed to also have virtual parties after participating in mine, so I’d get really great discounts if I saved a few things from my list and ordered from their parties too.

I was amazed and I was so ready to shop. Normally I don’t have this much to spend.

Or should I say, I have NEVER had this much to spend.

I had a running wish list as the party had progressed, but it was full of little things. With this much money to spend, I could now afford many of those little things and then some really big, expensive things.

And that’s when it happened.

As I turned the pages of my paper catalog now in hand, I saw my newest love: the Executive Chef Stir-fry Skillet. The words Executive Chef made my heart stop for a mere second and I took in a breath as I looked at the pan. I think I even heard angels sing.

It was definitely love at first sight. It was a pan which was not Teflon, but rather a baked on non-stick aluminum. It had handles on both sides, it was ever so deep. It could even go in an oven of up to 400 degrees. What fun we would have together! I pictured all of our recipes being made right in that pan. Cranberry chicken, Chicken Marsala and any one of our favorite stir fry recipes, all bubbly and steaming and yet not bubbling right over.

After placing my hostess order, I planned out our next two weeks of meals, which conveniently coincided with the arrival of my shopping spree. I planned out all of the above and then some. Cranberry Chicken was up first, per request from one kid. Chicken Marsala was up another time, per request of another kid. Shepherd’s Pie, Taco Bake, Lasagna.

I began to daydream of cooking two pounds of ground beef at once in a pan with two cans of creamed corn mixed in for our Shepherd’s Pie, or being able to saute 15 chicken tenderloins in the pan with two cups of cranberries and two cups of water all at once for our Cranberry Chicken recipe.

Sure enough, when my order arrived and I unpacked it all, reminiscent of a child opening gifts on Christmas morning, my pan was all I’d hoped for and more. That very first night, I rejoiced as I happily made our Cranberry Chicken, and beamed as everyone commented how great it came out. My meat browned evenly, there was plenty of room for everything and it all tasted delicious. I think it tasted even better than usual in my new pan!


I’d highly recommend any Pampered Chef party and any of their products to any of my friends and family, always. However, I must say, this new virtual party was fantastic! It was such fun “seeing” everyone that I wouldn’t get to see at my own in-house party. It was fun watching the videos and seeing some new must-have products, but most of all, it was fun falling in love-with a stir fry pan- all over again.

Happy February!




Two weeks of meals

14 Dec
With some extra planning, we've been able to make gluten free work for us.

With some extra planning, we’ve been able to make gluten free work for us. These biscuits are made with a gluten-free Bisquick mix. We made a set that were not gluten free for the rest of us and froze the leftover gluten free biscuits for future meals.

I know some of you have missed our bi-weekly menus for your own meal planning inspiration, and I’m glad to say that it’s back this week!

We’ve been working within the parameters of our family’s needs, with the most recent addition of a member of our family eating gluten free. Although it takes some advanced planning, there’s so much available out there for people who are on a gluten free diet, that we’ve been able to make it all come together every night without making a separate meal for anyone. Sometimes we need to use a separate pasta or change our recipe a bit, but so far, so good.

Without further ado, here’s two weeks of kid-friendly, gluten free meals for you:

  1. Shepherd’s Pie: We use ground turkey for this meal, which tends to be lower in fat and this recipe is already gluten free except for the packet of gravy we use. However, Alex doesn’t use the gravy to begin with, so we didn’t need to do much to this recipe in the way of modifications.
  2. Tacos: Hard taco shells are corn-based and we found a gluten-free taco seasoning mix to add to the ground turkey. However, in the past we’ve also made our own taco seasoning mix. There are soft white or yellow corn taco shells that are gluten free, but so far, we prefer the hard shells. The fixings (lettuce, tomato, cheese, low fat sour cream, and refried beans) are all gluten free.
  3. Corned Beef and cabbage: It’s not just for St. Patrick’s Day, you know! We try to pick the least fatty cut we can, and trim off much of the fat when we cook it. The plain, boiled veggies (cabbage, potatoes, onions, celery and carrots) are all low fat and gluten free.
  4. Sloppy Joes: This was a quick meal for only a portion of us that were home one Friday night. I bought gluten free rolls (which she didn’t like so she just ate the meat without them) and the sloppy joe mix is out of a can over ground turkey.
  5. Nicoise: This is totally gluten free: olives, hard boiled eggs, green beans, tuna and red potatoes. The dressing is olive oil and balsamic vinegar, all were gluten free. It’s a low fat meal and can be served with bread or biscuits on the side. We have a bag of frozen gluten free biscuits on hand.

    We've tried both the orange cheese and the white cheese versions of Annie's and it's been well received both times.

    We’ve tried both the orange cheese and the white cheese versions of Annie’s and it’s been well received both times.

  6. Macaroni and Cheese and hot dogs: We’d started out planning a homemade version, but due to time constraints we had to use boxed mac and cheese. We had Annie’s Gluten Free on hand and we use turkey hot dogs and we keep gluten free hot dog rolls in our freezer.
  7. Chicken Soup: This is a homemade soup in which we used a gluten free pasta as the base, along with the usual chicken and vegetables. We have a bakery here called A&J’s Bakery which specializes in allergy free foods, and I have found everything I need there, if I can’t find it in a store. For this meal we used a small pasta that I found there. Up to that point, I’d only found large gluten free pastas (like penne) which was too big for soup. This pasta was imported from Italy, so it was pricey, but it was a corn pasta rather than a white pasta and it was perfect for this soup. Although I wouldn’t use it for my weekly pasta meals on a regular basis, I’d buy it as needed for soups like this one. We used the whole box and made the whole soup gluten free, rather than trying to make a big batch and a small batch, but we could have done that too.
  8. California chicken sandwiches: This is just grilled chicken with cheese and avocado. It can be had on a roll or on the plate, with our without the toppings. It’s a DIY chicken and everyone has it how they like it, but we had gluten free rolls available if needed.meatloaf burgers 4
  9. Meatloaf Burgers: This recipe is a family favorite and everyone loves it. The only thing I did differently was take the bread crumbs out of the mix. It made them a bit softer, but the end result was the same. In the future if I purchase a gluten free bread crumb, I could throw some back in, but they were fine without.
  10. London Broil: This was on a night not everyone was home for dinner so there wasn’t a lot of menu modifying to be done. This is marinated and served with onions, mushrooms and peppers as well as some side dishes (usually a rice or a couscous).
  11. Homemade Pizza: For this we made two homemade pizzas and bought one gluten free pizza from Trader Joes’ which was cheese, sliced tomatoes and sauce. Thumbs up on this, so it’ll be an addition to our Friday night Pizza Night meals.
  12. Chicken Marsala: To modify this dish to be gluten free, the chicken was not breaded and the sauce was made with cornstarch instead of flour. I actually liked the sauce better. We served it over pasta and made one pasta gluten free and the rest not. This is a favorite meal of mine, personally, so I was glad to see it easily modified.The rest of our meals consisted of leftovers one night and another hot dog/hamburger night using gluten free buns with french fries which were baked and are already gluten free, and salad.So for our first two full weeks of meal planning with our new needs, we were in good shape and we’re all able to eat one meal, all together, and no one is feeling hungry or slighted or as if they can only eat salad and water every day or night.

    Stay tuned as we continue on this journey through the holidays and beyond and thanks for your feedback over the past few weeks as we’ve been at the beginning of this journey!