Archive | Lent RSS feed for this section

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Two weeks of meals

7 Mar

Ratatouille has become a favorite meal of ours.

Welcome to the month of March! It’s been quite some time since I posted a two-week menu plan, and I thought this week might be a good week to do one.

We are marching into spring and it’s about to be our busy season at work and at school so I am reveling in this relative calm before the storm. Over these two weeks however, two of our kids are booked just about every night for “tech week” as they prepare for this weekend’s upcoming theater performances and next weekend’s drama festival competition. Therefore, we are not necessarily eating all together as we usually do, but rather in a group of three, and then a group of two later on. They come in starving at about 9:00 p.m. and their first question is always, “What was for dinner?” as they look to reheat whatever it is that we had. They’ve eaten, but it’s usually between when school ends at 2:00 and when their theater responsibilities begin at 4:00.

That said, here is our list of meals for these two weeks.

TWO WEEKS OF MEALS

SUNDAY: Shaved steak and cheese sandwiches with tomato salad and steak fries
MONDAY: Burritos and quesadillas
TUESDAY: Chicken, broccoli and pasta
WEDNESDAY: Ratatouille
THURSDAY: Cranberry chicken
FRIDAY: Opening night for theater! Out to dinner
SATURDAY: Grilled kielbasa kebabs (this is a new meal, so look for it to be featured in the future!)

SUNDAY: Pulled beef brisket (this is a new recipe, so look for it to be featured in the future!)
MONDAY: Grilled teriyaki chicken breasts
TUESDAY: Spaghetti with tuna sauce
WEDNESDAY: Nicoise salad
THURSDAY: Leftovers
FRIDAY: Homemade Pizza
 

Hopefully this inspires some meals for your next two weeks of meals!
Have a wonderful week!

Quick and Easy Garlic Parmesan Broccoli

21 Mar
The "after" picture

The “after” picture

“Oh yay! This is my favorite broccoli!”

I kid you not. Those words were spoken at dinnertime tonight when I put this side dish on the dinner table.

This broccoli recipe has in fact, become a new favorite. It might even be neck and neck in line with this one as a favorite broccoli side dish.

We were given this recipe at our local Whole Foods store one Saturday afternoon. Although I don’t do a ton of shopping there, I do have a few things that I need to buy that I can only find there, so one afternoon we were all together and we stopped in to pick up those types of things.

 

Such a simple recipe!

Such a simple recipe!

Being a Saturday afternoon around lunchtime, the samples were in full swing. Roaming a store, trying out new things, is one of our family’s favorite things to do. On that day we were given samples of a new favorite granola and of this Garlic Parmesan Broccoli. Although my family tends to really like broccoli, they really LOVED this recipe. As we took our samples, the employee at Whole Foods handed us the paper copy of the recipe. I folded it and put it in my purse and kind of forgot about it. It was late January or early February when we were there, and it was probably the end of February when I remembered I had it and tried it out one night. Sometimes when you make something at home after having had it out, it might not come out the same way. This recipe was seemingly impossible to mess up, and it came out great. I don’t always have fresh broccoli on hand, but I use my Pampered Chef hand-held food chopper to chop frozen broccoli florets after they’re cooked, and it works out great.

Looks unexciting in the bowl, but gets rave reviews every time!

Looks unexciting in the bowl, but gets rave reviews every time!

And so, tonight when I made it again and I got the exclamation that this is the favorite broccoli recipe, I knew I had to share it with you today. It’s fast and easy and delicious. There’s almost never anything left over, which is always a good sign of a great recipe. I also like that although we got it from Whole Foods, which tends to have a reputation for being very expensive, this particular recipe is very budget-friendly. You can use frozen broccoli, a jar of minced garlic and sprinkle cheese, or you can use fresh broccoli, fresh garlic and fresh grated cheese, depending what your budget looks like and what you happen to have on hand. You can also do any combination of fresh and not fresh also.

Next time you’re looking to spice up a plain side dish like a bowl of steamed broccoli, give this one a try! You never know, you might find that your kids have a favorite broccoli too!

Sponsored Post: Dairy Pure Milk with a Worry-Free Flip Cap Recipe and Giveaway!

28 Mar
Have you seen it yet? Dairy Pure Milk has a great new flip cap!

Have you seen it yet? Dairy Pure Milk has a great new Worry-Free flip cap!

Do you ever have one of those “Why didn’t I think of that,” moments when you see something new on TV? I know I do!

I recently had one of those moments when I saw the television commercial for Dairy Pure’s new “Worry-Free” flip cap. I can’t tell you how many times our milk caps have gotten lost, accidentally thrown in the trash, or gone flying on to the floor upon being opened. In the past, I’ve had to put plastic wrap over our milk cover with an elastic band or use an old cover, or put all the milk into a pitcher, all to solve our milk cap problems.

Clearly, I’m not the only one whose household has had these types of milk cap worries, because Dairy Pure Milk recently introduced their new Worry-Free flip cap, which now keeps the cap ON the milk, where it’s supposed to be.

You can say it, I know you want to: “Why didn’t *I* think of that?”

Exactly.

Since we’re big smoothie people, especially now that the warmer weather is coming, I was excited to try out Dairy Pure milk and the great new worry-free cap, for a new smoothie recipe, which I’ll share below. I also enjoy using locally produced products and Dairy Pure is made by Garelick Farms in Franklin, Massachusetts, which is the town where both my husband I used to work.

Five important points!

Five important points!

When I tried out the Dairy Pure Milk, I made note of their Five Point Purity Checklist, which states the following:

*Our Farmers pledge NO artificial growth hormones

*We test our milk for antibiotics

*Continuously quality tested to ensure purity

*Only from cows fed a nutritious diet

*Cold-shipped fresh from your trusted dairy within hours

Those five points are all important, and I was pleased to know that Garelick takes those things seriously.

But it’s the cap….I love that cap! My days of plastic wrap, elastic bands and pitchers are a gone with the Worry-Free cap.

Before I share my smoothie recipe with you, I wanted to also pass along the Dairy Pure Recipe page in case you’d like to find even more recipe inspiration using Dairy Pure Milk!

And remember: Be sure to read to the end of this blog post, as I’ll be putting my instructions there for a Dairy Pure special giveaway!

Dairy Pure Milk with a Worry-Free cap is an excellent choice for your own smoothie concoctions!

Dairy Pure Milk with a Worry-Free cap is an excellent choice for your own smoothie concoctions!

Now…for my recipe! I often post smoothie recipes for my Fun Friday posts, and since it’s Friday, I thought a new smoothie recipe would pair well with my Dairy Pure Milk! I recently received a gift from my friend Amy: a jar of crunchy cookie butter!! She knew that I’d given up my favorite hazelnut spread for Lent, and she thought this delicious crunchy cookie butter would help me through the 40 days. She’s right! The jar is almost empty! I’ve been eating it with a spoon, but I thought I’d try it, along with the milk, in a smoothie and it was a.m.a.z.i.n.g!!

Here’s the recipe that I created last week:

Throw it all in a blender and you're ready to go!

Throw it all in a blender and you’re ready to go!

COOKIE BUTTER & BANANA SMOOTHIE

32 oz. of milk (You can use your choice of skim, low fat or whole milk, We used skim.)

Two frozen bananas

1/4 to 1/2 cup crunchy cookie butter

Three scoops fat free vanilla frozen yogurt

Whipped cream (optional)

Place all your ingredients into your blender or smoothie maker and blend it up! So simple! You can choose to add a little whipped cream to your smoothie if you’d like!

And now….the moment you’ve been waiting for! The Dairy Pure milk GIVEAWAY!
I know that if you’re like me, keeping your cold groceries cold between the store and home is important! Therefore, I’d love to give TWO READERS a special insulated, re-usable, handled shopping tote bag from Dairy Pure Milk! You can use it to keep all your cold foods cold when you’re en-route from store to home. Now you can shop for all of your smoothie ingredients: milk, fruits and frozen yogurts and keep them all cold so that when you get home and unpack, your ingredients will be ready for blending!

Do you want one? Leave a comment on my blog! What would *you* make with Dairy Pure Milk?

Do you want one? Leave a comment on my blog! What would *you* make with Dairy Pure Milk?

Here’s how to enter for a chance at the giveaway:

Leave me a comment here on my blog, telling me something yummy you would make with Dairy Pure milk!

That’s it! Easy peasy! I will take all of the responses and randomly draw two names for the totes. Be sure to check back so that you know if you’ve won!

I will run this giveaway for ONE WEEK, until Friday, April 4th, at which point I will announce the winners on the blog and on Facebook.

Good luck!!

 

 **This is a sponsored post. I was compensated for this post.

However, all of the thoughts, and opinions I have expressed here are my own.**

 

 

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Cauliflower Soup

3 Apr
You can either use fresh or frozen cauliflower for this recipe.

You can either use fresh or frozen cauliflower for this recipe.

Recently, my friend Karen sent me the link to a soup she really loved. It’s so fast and has very easy ingredients, and it’s one that I can drink in a mug, so it’s good for the days where I can’t stop for lunch. The link was to the blog Skinnytaste, and this soup has been a huge hit at our house.

The recipe originally calls for a head of cauliflower, and I have to say, it’s absolutely the best when made with fresh cauliflower. It’s thicker and tastier. But, I like keeping bags of frozen veggies on hand in my freezer for when I’m out of fresh veggies and I like that this recipe can also be made using the frozen ones.

Since trying this recipe out over February vacation, I’ve made it at least four or five times. You literally throw everything into the pot and let it simmer. When it’s done you blend and eat. It’s that simple. It’s completely healthy and it makes a great meal or even a great in-between-meals snack. Sometimes Caroline will have this as her after school snack. I’ll take that any day for a healthy choice!

The big, big deal though is the fact that prior to receiving this recipe, I did not have an immersion blender, otherwise known as a hand blender. I tried making it without one, and I could not. It was kind of a mess, to say the least.

A new immersion blender=a whole new world for me and my kitchen!

A new immersion blender=a whole new world for me and my kitchen!

I now have this immersion blender, and I SOOOO love it. I wanted one but I did not want to spend a lot of money so my friend Debra recommended this one from Walmart and it’s been great. I’ve used it for this soup and my cream of broccoli soup. I’ve also used the other attachment piece for making instant pudding and the batter for french toast.

The immersion blender is essential for this recipe, and I highly recommend both the recipe and the blender to make it happen! Below is Gina’s recipe from Skinnytaste, and I hope you’ll visit her blog and check it out!

Using a large head of fresh cauliflower made this batch of soup so thick and smooth and creamy.

Using a large head of fresh cauliflower made this batch of soup so thick and smooth and creamy.

CAULIFLOWER SOUP
INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large head cauliflower – chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 4-6 cups water
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • **we use chicken broth instead of water and bouillon cubes.

DIRECTIONS:
In a 5 quart saucepan, add all ingredients. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes.) Puree with an immersion blender until smooth.

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Nicoise Salad

27 Feb
This old favorite has made several recent appearances on our menu.

This old favorite has made several recent appearances on our menu.

About 15 years ago when we lived in New Jersey, our friends Max and Jamie introduced us to Nicoise salad (pronounced Knee-Swah). I remember Jamie telling us that it was kind of a “poor man’s meal” in France when she was studying abroad, and that she and her friends ate it often because as students they pretty much fit into that income bracket.

Poor man or not, we loved this salad, and for the longest time we had it often. It reminded me of the Italian Antipasto salad that we have on big holidays because it has a few of the same items on it, but yet it’s very different.

Then, it seemed like we didn’t have it at all for months and months and months. I guess we just kind of forgot about it! I recently remembered it when I came across another version of it somewhere, and we’ve since had it several times.

The thing I like about it as a meal option is that it’s got many components to it, so you can pick and choose what you do or do not like and leave the rest on the platter. I like every part of it, but my kids each have at least one part they don’t like.

And, being that it’s Lent, this makes a great, meatless meal for those who do not eat meat on Fridays.

Traditionally, at least as we know it, the components to the salad are:

Boiled string beans

Hard boiled eggs

Quartered, boiled red skinned potatoes (*see note below)

Black olives

Tuna

There’s a dressing that you toss on the green beans and potatoes before adding the eggs and olives on the top, and then you can add more dressing to the rest as you like.

This time we grilled the tofu on the countertop griddle, but in the past we have used a frying pan.

This time we grilled the tofu on the countertop griddle, but in the past we have used a frying pan.

*Recently however, we have changed out the potatoes and subbed in sauteed tofu. The reason is two-fold: the first is that my kids don’t eat potatoes hardly ever, so this was not a popular item in the salad. I don’t know why, and it still shocks me that they don’t like potatoes hardly at all, especially since I love them. The second reason is that we’ve been doing our very best to stay as far away from carbs as possible, and white potatoes aren’t the greatest for you. On the flip side, they love the tofu. It made me wonder the other day why we didn’t try tofu sooner, since they all love it. (Except Alex. Shocker.)

I’ve found tofu to be like a cameleon, in that it takes on the flavors of whatever you cook it with. That makes it very adaptable and very delicious. When you cook it til it’s crispy, it’s like eating homefries, but healthier.

See, I’m all about potatoes.

So anyway, the photo at the top is the salad with tofu instead of potatoes. You can try it out either way, or try it both ways and see which one you prefer! It’s really a very good-for-you type of meal and it’s light, especially with the tofu. On a day when you might have a big lunch somewhere, this is a nice, light dinner.

Dressing

3 to 1: Olive Oil to Balsamic Vinegar (You can increase this to however much you’d like.)

Equal parts honey and Dijon mustard. (We do about a teaspoon of each.)

Season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic powder and basil.

A Great Friday Snack: Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips

22 Feb
The simplest things, like these Mardi Gras masks can provide hours of fun on a week like this one!

The simplest things, like these Mardi Gras masks can provide hours of fun on a week like this one!

Happy Friday everyone!

I hope you all had a great week! We’re finishing off February Vacation week here and it’s flown by, despite the fact that we had no set plans really.

We got to see real, live raptors VERY close up on Wednesday afternoon at the library. Very. Close.Up.

We got to see real, live raptors VERY close up on Wednesday afternoon at the library. Very. Close.Up.

We had a great week it turns out, thanks to the Cranston Public Library. We went there on Wednesday to return our books and realized that there were lots of great programs lined up for this week: a great Raptor program from a local wildlife preserve (Born to be Wild Nature Center in Bradford, RI) and the showing of a movie we had not yet seen, were the two things we took advantage of.

Little things like that give the kids something to look forward to and make the week go by.  And, it gives them the chance to take out new library books. We came home Wednesday with a new slew of books for them to read. Gotta love that too.

Best of all, those activities are all free, from the reading to the raptors to the movie.

Gotta love that even more.

They sounded like rock stars on Tuesday afternoon!

They sounded like rock stars on Tuesday afternoon!

We also had the opportunity to participate in a fun recording session at Reel to Real Recording Studio right here in Cranston. The girls were singing like rock stars for the whole afternoon on Tuesday. If you’ve never been there, it’s great fun so check it out!

We had a great time talking all about our trip and showing lots of photos and memorabilia.

We had a great time talking all about our trip and showing lots of photos and memorabilia.

And finally, we made a visit to Grandma Grello’s assisted living facility, where we got the Mardi Gras masks and matching bead necklaces too, and where Caroline presented her power point presentation about the Kids State Dinner trip.  It was her second such presentation in one week’s time and she did a great job with it, as usual. Reliving that trip is always amazing for us and the audience really enjoyed the presentation. Even better, it sparked some great conversation from the residents about their memories of Washington DC., some dating back to WWII. Living history: a privilege for us to be a part of.

Below is a great Friday recipe for you, taken from the blog, The Girl Who Ate Everything.  We made this on Valentine’s Day but it makes a great after school snack and actually we had leftovers and my kids put it on their homemade waffles this weekend too.

We had barely any of the awesome fruits they have in their recipe below, but we made it work anyway. I used a red apple, a green apple and a green pear and they ate it right up. It’s super colorful, and I always love colorful foods.  I think it’s a plus when you can adapt a recipe to suit what you have on hand and it still comes out great.

So whether you are looking for something for an after school snack or something for vacation week’s end, this is a great choice for you!

This was a great, healthy snack. We used fat free tortillas and sugar free jelly.

This was a great, healthy snack. We used fat free tortillas, fat free cooking spray and sugar free jelly.

Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips

Ingredients

    • 2 kiwis, peeled and diced
    • 2 Golden Delicious apples – peeled, cored and diced
    • 8 ounces raspberries
    • 1 (16 oz) carton of strawberries, diced
    • 2 tablespoons white sugar (more or less to taste)
    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (more or less to taste)
    • 3 tablespoons fruit preserves, any flavor (I used strawberry)
    • 10 (10 inch) flour tortillas
    • melted butter or butter flavored cooking spray
Cinnamon sugar:
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix kiwis, apples, raspberries, strawberries, white sugar, brown sugar and fruit preserves. Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 15 minutes.
  2. It didn't matter that we didn't have the exact fruits listed in the recipe. We used what was on hand and it was great!

    It didn’t matter that we didn’t have the exact fruits listed in the recipe. We used what was on hand and it was great!

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  3. Coat one side of each flour tortilla with melted butter or butter flavored cooking spray. Sprinkle tortillas with desired amount of cinnamon sugar. Cut into wedges and arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Spray again with cooking spray (not necessary if using melted butter).
  4. Bake in the preheated oven 8 to 10 minutes. Repeat with any remaining tortilla wedges. Allow to cool approximately 15 minutes. Serve with chilled fruit mixture. This salsa can also be served with cinnamon graham crackers or cinnamon pita chips. Best when made and eaten the same day otherwise the fruit gives off too much juice and it gets runny.

Notes

Source: Allrecipes

What’s For Dinner Wednesday: Cream of Broccoli Soup

20 Feb
This soup is perfect for a cold winter day!

This soup is perfect for a cold winter day!

We have had some pretty chilly days this winter. Some days there’s nothing that hits the spot like a hot bowl of soup, and I’m a huge fan of creamy soups, which is why today’s post is a favorite of mine.

The other reason it’s a favorite is that it brings back memories, and I love recipes that remind me of the past.

This recipe is from my college roommate Karen, from the cookbook she made for me when we graduated.  The thing is, I can distinctly remember a time when we were roommates that I had a terrible sore throat and laryngitis.

Karen made me this soup. I can picture myself sitting at our kitchen table that day, eating her soup. Every time I eat broccoli soup actually, I think of that day.

And a few weeks ago when I made the soup, I thought once again, of that day.

This was the first time I actually made the soup. I’ve never been very brave with soups before, I’ve mostly left them to Don other than a basic chicken soup. But since my friend Paula’s My Soup For You blog has been in existence, I’ve gotten very brave and I’ve since made several soups. In fact, she and I each made a version of a cream of broccoli soup within a day of each other and we didn’t even know it.

As far as my family goes, Caroline and I loved this soup the most. Between the two of us, we enjoyed it over several days’ time, and she liked coming home and having a mug of it after school on cold afternoons.

Here is the recipe for Karen’s Cream of Broccoli Soup. I hope it warms you up on a cold winter’s day!

I used fresh broccoli for my soup.

I used fresh broccoli for my soup.

CREAM OF BROCCOLI SOUP
INGREDIENTS

6 cups chopped broccoli

3 and 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup flour

2 cups skim milk

1 tsp. butter

8 oz. cheddar cheese, cubed (I used fat free cheddar, shredded.)

Although I used a blender for this, it was definitely more of a food processor recipe, and I didn't use ours!

Although I used a blender for this, it was definitely more of a food processor recipe, and I didn’t use ours!

DIRECTIONS

Simmer broccoli in chicken broth until tender.

Remove bulk of broccoli and in blender or food processor, process the broccoli, onion and celery until smooth. Set aside.

Combine milk and flour in a separate container until dissolved.

Slowly add to broth, stirring until it begins to thicken.

Add puree, butter, salt and pepper to taste.

Stir until it begins to simmer.

Add cheese and stir until melted.