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What’s for Dinner Wednesday: WW Classic Meatloaf

2 Nov
We needed a new meatloaf recipe, so I found this one and gave it a try. It was a hit!

We needed a new meatloaf recipe, so I found this one and gave it a try. It was a hit!

Earlier this school year, I had a coupon for Barnes and Noble for $5.00 off my purchase. I have their membership as well, and there was a book I was in need of. I decided to head down there one morning and make my purchase, and I knew that if I played my cards right, I’d be walking out of there with my book for just $6 or so.

What I didn’t take into account was my inability to just walk into the store, go directly to the one item I need, not look at anything else, pay and walk out the door.

I don’t think it’s possible. My kids don’t even think it’s possible. When I say, “I just need to run into -X store- for one thing,” they laugh it off. They know.

And so, on that day I walked out with the book I needed, along with a brand new cookbook that I didn’t know I needed, but apparently, I did. I used to actually own this cookbook years ago, and really loved it, and then at some point when we had a minor kitchen counter flood, it got ruined and I had to get rid of it. When I saw it on the shelf at Barnes and Noble this fall, I started to thumb through it and decided that I needed it again.

The New Complete Cookbook by Weight Watchers used to be one of my favorites, even though I personally have not ever followed the diet itself. I like the idea that the recipes in it are already healthy and I like that there are points assigned to the recipes that give me a general idea of just how healthy they are based on how many points each recipe is. It’s the very same reason why I love the Skinnytaste recipes that I share here so often, and I also love that her recipes show nutritional values and give the WW points too.

If you are following a Weight Watchers diet, this cookbook has an older points system in it but there was a bright red sticker on the cover that directed consumers to a web link where you could download and print out the new points values for every recipe in the book.

Today’s recipe is for a basic comfort food: meatloaf. We had an old meatloaf recipe we used but no one was really loving it anymore, despite the fact that we all really love meatloaf. I was on the hunt for a meatloaf recipe that inspired me, if there is such a thing, and as I thumbed through this new cookbook, I found one. We tried it, loved it, and today I share it with you below. I love that it is chock full of veggies and I can tell you that the leftovers from this meal disappeared very quickly throughout the rest of the week. If you follow Weight Watchers, the new points value is 6, rather than the 7 listed in the book for the old PointsPlus plan.

WW CLASSIC: Our Favorite Meatloaf

Serves 4, Gluten Free

2 teaspoons canola oil
1 cup finely chopped white mushrooms
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 pound lean ground beef (7% fat or less) We used two pounds of ground turkey, and doubled the recipe.
1/2 cup quick cooking (not instant) oats -be sure you use gluten free oats for a gluten free recipe.
2 large egg whites
3 Tablespoons ketchup
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup tomato puree or tomato sauce

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onion, carrot, and celery, cook, stirring until onion is soften, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool slightly.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients except tomato puree to vegetables in bowl, mix well. Press meatloaf mixture into 4 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch loaf pan. (Because we doubled our recipe, we used a larger baking dish.)
  4. Bake meatloaf 30 minutes. Brush tomato puree on top of loaf. Bake until instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meatloaf registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit, 30-45 minutes longer. Let stand about 5 minutes, cut into eight slices.

 

 

 

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!

TWO WEEKS OF MEALS

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:

PASTENA OR PECE de PEPE:
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?

September.

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.

Whew….

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.

Challenging.

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!

Peanut Butter Pumpkin Muffins from Family Food on the Table

18 Nov
The combination of ingredients was what piqued my interest in this recipe.

The combination of ingredients was what piqued my interest in this recipe.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t get off my pumpkin kick until after Thanksgiving. I’m still all about pumpkin for a few more weeks, at least.

I’m finding that this school year, due to our scattered after school schedules, I’m doing a great deal more driving than I am baking in the afternoons and evenings. Whereas I used to be able to do a quick after school baked snack at the end of my work day, this year I can only do that a couple of times a week, if I’m lucky. This means that I haven’t had a lot of new and exciting recipes to try out and to share, and for that, I apologize!

On Monday however, a recipe came across my virtual desk and it definitely piqued my interest. I actually had to read the title a couple of times to make sure I was reading it correctly, as I wasn’t sure I’d seen this combination of ingredients in the past. It’s not that it was anything crazy, it’s just that it wasn’t something I think I’d paired together in the past.

It meant that I just had to try it, just to see how it was.

 

Batter looked good, that's always a good sign!

Batter looked good, that’s always a good sign!

The recipe was for Peanut Butter Pumpkin Muffins, and it was from Family Food on the Table and it said chocolate chips were optional. To me, chocolate chips are almost never optional, but I liked all of the ingredients that were listed and I had them all, except for the white-wheat flour. I had white, I had wheat. I did not have white-wheat, so I decided to try using half white and half wheat instead. Otherwise, the recipe seemed perfect for an after school snack/late night snack/breakfast for our whole family; well at least for almost all of them. I forgot that one of them doesn’t like very much with peanut butter. She ended up having something else for her snack instead.

These came together quickly and easily. The prep time was estimated to be about ten minutes, and that was pretty on-target. The cook time was 18-22 minutes. A few of mine were a little soft on top, and probably could’ve cooked a little longer than the 18 that I did, but everyone was starving by the time I finished working and started baking, and everyone gets home so early now that I rushed them out, not checking each one as thoroughly as I should have.

However, despite my feeling a bit rushed, these muffins were delicious! They were hearty and healthy and deemed a keeper by all but my one non-peanut butter lover. I also noticed that there were several options listed at the end, including the option to substitute various types of nut butters such as almond butter to keep them peanut free. It also said that they were tasty with a little extra spread of peanut butter on them when eaten. One of my daughters did that, and she did say they were delicious that way too!

So if you’re as curious as I am as to the combination of peanut better and pumpkin and chocolate chips, I suggest you give these tasty muffins a try! Head on over to Family Food on the Table and check out this recipe and all their others too! Or maybe, you eat pumpkin, peanut butter and chocolate chips together all the time, and in that case, you most definitely want to head on over and check this recipe out!

Enjoy and have a great rest of your week!

Fun Friday: Apple Crisp Pizza from The Girl Who Ate Everything

9 Oct
Apple desserts are wonderful in the autumn months!

Apple desserts are wonderful in the autumn months! This was a new one for us!

I love the fall almost as much as the summer. Fall is probably my second most favorite season in New England. I love the crisp air and the gorgeous array of colors, and most of all I love all of the foods and the “pick your own” opportunities for apples and pumpkins.

Even if you can’t pick your own fruits, you can still bake lots of amazing things with the fall fruits. The other night I made a Swedish Apple Pie, which is an all-time favorite of mine, and recently I tried a new dessert, an Apple Crisp Pizza. This new recipe was from a blog called The Girl Who Ate Everything. It was shared on Facebook, which is how I saw it first. I later saw it on another blog as well, and they’d seen it on the same blog. We all must love the idea of apples and caramel and pizza!

You too can have a pizza for dessert!

You too can have a pizza for dessert!

The recipe is super-easy and didn’t take much time at all. I shaped my crust sort of like a pie with a fluted edge, hoping to keep all the fruit from falling out, which seemed to work well and looked very pretty. I also used my round Pampered Chef pizza stone, which worked very well too. I figured if I was making a pizza, I should use my pizza stone!

If you’d like to make this same dessert at your house this fall, visit The Girl Who Ate Everything over at her blog and you’ll find her recipe ready and waiting for you!

Happy Fall Y’All!

Fun Friday: Weelicious Pumpkin muffins with cream cheese frosting

7 Nov
We needed a Fun Friday snack. It was only Wednesday, but we needed it.

We needed a Fun Friday snack. It was only Wednesday, but we needed it.

We’re having an awfully rough semester. Since August 26, we’ve been hit with “flu-like” viruses, pneumonia, sinus infections and bronchitis. We’ve had ambulance rides, hospital visits, doctor visits and prescriptions galore. My husband had two weeks of jury duty. I think I visited my local CVS at least 25 times in October alone, and I’m not really even exaggerating. We get a $5 reward every time we fill ten prescriptions there. We have three people (the maximum allowed) registered for the reward program and I think I’ve earned $15. Throughout all of it, I’ve been fighting something upper respiratory, myself and I can’t really say I’m coming out the winner in this fight, either.

It’s only November 7.

It’s been a long couple of months, with trying to still stay on top of work, school, birthdays, holidays, food drives and all the other daily “stuff,” but we’re surviving. We’re getting through it and trying to keep all our chins facing in the upward direction. We’ve had plenty of bright spots mixed in throughout the rough spots and we try to make those our focus. We have wonderful friends and family who check in daily, weekly, and more. We know of people who are worse off than we are. Things could be much worse.

Even still, some days we need a little bit of help.

Enter the delicious pumpkin muffins with cream cheese frosting from Weelicious.

I have been getting the Weelicious emails in my inbox for a couple of years now. My wee little ones are not so wee or so little any longer, but I find that her recipes are great for all ages.

Because we needed even more help seeing the bright spots on this particular day that I tried these, I made them into Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins with cream cheese frosting, because chocolate chips make everything seem better.

And they did.

It leads though, to our previous conversation: are they a muffin or a cupcake?

I put in chocolate chips, so that might mean cupcake. If they were just pumpkin, that could mean muffin for sure. But with chocolate chips AND frosting for those who chose to use it, it might be a cupcake.

Honestly, with the week we have been having, I didn’t care.

Pumpkin-chocolate chip-frosting-muffin-cupcake.

They were our after-school snack, late night snack, breakfast and lunch.

Whatever they were, they were delicious. Weelicious did not disappoint. She never does.

Here is her recipe, so that when you’re in need of a pick-me-up you can give them a try. We loved them!

If you love them too, you might want to sign up for the Weelicious emails as well.

WEELICIOUS PUMPKIN MUFFINS WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (I used “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter to suit our dietary needs.)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cream cheese icing:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 fat cream cheese to suit our dietary needs.)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. 2. Place the first 5 ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. 3. In a separate bowl whisk the remaining ingredients.
  4. 4. Add the dry ingredients into the wet and whisk until just combined. *This is where I added in about a cup of chocolate chips.*
  5. 5. Pour into greased muffins cups 3/4 full.
  6. 6. Bake for 20 minutes.
  7. 7. To make the frosting, combine all ingredients and beat for 1-2 minutes, until fluffy
  8. 8 . Cool, frost and serve.

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Soup for everyone

5 Nov
Three soups that are quick, easy and can all be done simultaneously.

Three soups that are quick, easy and can all be done simultaneously.

Earlier in the school year I did quite a bit of food preparation ahead of time, making and freezing foods for future use. One thing I’d wanted to do but hadn’t had time to do, was make and freeze some soup.

Recently when I had one child home sick for an extended amount of time, I had an afternoon where I’d have a couple of hours to make some soup. The only question was, what kind of soup? Everyone has a favorite. I love cream of broccoli and creamy cauliflower soup, as does my oldest daughter, who happened to be the one home sick. But, my other daughters and my husband, they love the cream of tomato soup that I’ve been making lately and my middle daughter in particular had been asking for it quite often.

When I thought about the recipes though, they were all pretty similar. Other than the actual vegetable for each soup, namely broccoli, cauliflower and tomato, the base ingredients and instructions were all pretty similar: onion and chicken broth. The tomato soup had a few extra spices thrown in, and the broccoli soup had celery added in and some milk and flour at the end, but ultimately I realized that I could actually make all three at the same time, almost like an assembly line: cut up all the onion, divide it into the soup pots, cut up each veggie and add them in, and then simmer. If any additional steps or ingredients were needed, it wasn’t all that hard to do. Nothing was complicated, expensive or time-consuming. In an hour I’d be done. The tomato soup has an option to put in tortellini and shrimp at the end, but this time around I was doing it without those last two ingredients mostly because that is what had been requested.

Just like that...three soups, done and everyone's taste buds were happy!!

Just like that…three soups, done and everyone’s taste buds were happy!!

Although I cried a lot of tears cutting up all those onions, overall it was a great experiment and all went off as planned. I had enough soup for whoever wanted whatever kind they wanted over the next couple of days, and then using quart-sized bags, I froze the rest. We already had a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon where a few of us had soup for lunch from the freezer, and there’s still more for whenever we need it, whether it’s for an after school snack, a lunch or a dinner where someone doesn’t like what’s on the regular night’s menu.

Since these soups have already been featured on my blog, I’m putting the links below so that you can refer to them if you’d like to make any or all of them for yourself. The weather here is starting to cool down and it will be nice to have some soups for the upcoming chilly days and nights ahead!

Here are the links for you.

If you’d like to make the Cream of Broccoli Soup, click here.

If you’d like to make the Creamy Cauliflower Soup, click here.

If you’d like to make the Creamy Tomato Soup, click here.

Enjoy!