Tag Archives: meal planning

Meals: Past & Future

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I pinned  this recipe for a Slow Cooker Apple Cider Pulled Pork over a year ago. I finally made it last weekend. What made me finally take action? I had few extra Honeycrisp apples in need of some transformation. The Sunday night Packer game on TV last weekend meant we could eat in. Rob was game. Plus, my crockpot broke and I needed a reason to use my new one. This one has a timer and I found it for a steal at only $29.99 at Costco!

Here are some thoughts about the recipe:

  • It’s very easy.
  • That is a lot of cider to add to your Slow Cooker! My Crockpot manual says to fill it 1/2 – 3/4 full. After adding all that cider, mine was almost full. But the water I added didn’t cover the pork fully as the recipe suggests. (It still turned out just fine.)

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I served it with an super easy and delicious Blue Cheese Cole Slaw{Note to self: Only make 1/2 next time. This makes more than I can eat in a week before it gets soggy.}

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I also broke out my box of Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit Mix that I bought specifically for Rob. He’d heard about these biscuits, but had never been to Red Lobster because he’s allergic to seafood.

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For the record, they weren’t all that great. Not nearly as good as I remember them from 15 years ago. They were too biscuit-y and did not as much flavor as I remember. There’s a copycat recipe to make your own here.

Here was my plate:

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See those sauces? The recipe suggested serving this with barbecue sauce. You may or may not know how I feel about barbecue sauce. Or the fact that I found one I liked while in Charlotte. I think it was mustard-based, so I picked one up at Trader Joe’s and put it right along our Pig Polish from Charlotte for a little taste test.

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I actually liked them both; while Rob preferred the Carolina Gold.  What can I say? I didn’t mind them at all. After a couple of days of leftovers though, I was done. Rob commented that the pork really didn’t have any flavor before putting the barbecue sauce on it.

I probably wouldn’t make this again. I’d rather drink my hard cider than use up four bottles in my slow cooker. I can make pulled pork other ways.

Last week, I also tried Running with Racheal’s husband Dan’s Spinach and Feta Turkey Burgers! Mmmm… Yes, I kept eating that coleslaw all week…

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Because I don’t usually like my burgers reheated, I kind of repurposed the leftovers throughout the week. For breakfast, I sliced a turkey burger in half and added it to my 90-second Breakfast Sandwich, slathering on a bit of leftover Jalapeno Cilantro Hummus from Ansari’s.

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For lunch, I made a Greek Turkey Burger Salad with spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, feta and chopped tomatoes. I could have also added kalamata olives and red onion. Here it is before adding my Tzatziki Sauce:

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I may just add the spinach and feta and Dan’s seasoning blend to ground turkey or beef without making patties and using it to top some Power Bowls soon!

Let’s move on to this week!

planning

Food

Dinners:

  • Monday – Since Rob and I are still on the eat-on-our-own kick, I’m finally going to try Biz’s award-winning Buffalo Chicken Chili! I’ll have leftovers all week for lunch!
  • Tuesday – Last week, I didn’t make the Roasted Butternut Squash, Onions and Red Potatoes that I had planned because I had so much leftover blue cheese coleslaw. Luckily, those are all vegetables that keep well so that I can make the dish this week to accompany my last two Chicken Thighs I need to cook up.
  • Wednesday – Leftover Chicken Thigh & Roasted Veg
    Thursday –  Breakfast for dinner – Eggs with Asparagus and Pesto, perhaps? I have eggs on hand, some asparagus I chopped up and froze to keep it from going bad and a jar of pesto in the fridge.
  • Friday – Poker Night. I wonder who will win the Koala this month?
  • Saturday – Rob’s Birthday – I think he’s finally chosen Borough, but that could still change!
  • Sunday – Packers v. Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. I’d love to go to this game because I’ve never been to this UofM Golden Gopher Stadium yet and this would be the perfect opportunity before the new Vikings Dome is built. But alas, more Vikings’ Season Ticket Holders would rather gouge Packer fans coming across the border than go to the game themselves. 😦

Lunch:

  • Leftover Buffalo Chicken Chili
  • Snacks – the usual fruit, nuts or string cheese and dark chocolate

Breakfasts:

Fitness

  • Basically what I’ve been doing is 5 days of run-walk intervals (more walking than running to apease my back) and this 30-day Arm Challenge. I’ve unintentionally added some additional rest days. But at least I’m doing it!

What does your menu look like this week?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

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Pizza Crusts, Meal Plans and Repurposing Leftovers

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This past week, I tried a new pizza crust that we picked up at Cost Plus World Market.

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I’ve had a hard time finding prepared pizza crusts that aren’t insanely high in calories. I’ve also tried to make my own; but I’ve got a picky husband! I was sold when I saw that these mini crusts are only 150 calories!

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On Wednesday, I decided to make one because I was looking for a way to use up the Roasted Tomato Dressing that I Want to Pour Everything that I had leftover in the fridge. I wasn’t sure if it would work in place of pizza sauce, but it was worth a try.

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It was so incredibly good! But it was also so easy…

Single Serving Pepperoni Pizza

  • 1 Pastorelli Ultra Thin 7″ Pizza Crust
  • 3 Tbsp Roasted Tomato Dressing or your pizza sauce of choice
  • 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 10 pepperoni

Layer as listed and bake at 400 degrees for approximately 7 minutes, or until golden brown.

I forgot to use the Italian Seasoning, so I just sprinkled some on top before putting it in the oven.

Rob wasn’t a fan of the Roasted Tomato Dressing. So when I made us each one of these yesterday, I made my own pizza sauce with tomato paste, water, garlic, olive oil and pizza seasoning.  We will be buying these crusts again.

And now for this week:

planning

 

Food

Rob and I are still on our eat-on-our-own kick like we did last week and the week before. Although it may sound a little strange for us to eat separately, it’s been working out really well! I love being able to eat chicken at home. Neither of us need to plan around each other either.

Here are my plans for this week.

Dinners:

  • Monday –  Running with Rachel’s Husband Dan’s Feta & Spinach Turkey Burgers with Roasted Butternut Squash, Onions and Red Potatoes
  • Tuesday – Leftover Turkey Burgers & Roasted Veggies
  • Wednesday – Greek Turkey Burger Salad – I’m attempting to re-purpose the Turkey Burgers! I’ll use the rest of my spinach, add tomatoes, cucumbers and olives, crumble the turkey burger, add a bit more feta and top with tzatziki sauce and/or hummus. Sounds delicious, no? If it turns out okay, I’ll put it up next week!
    Thursday –  Greek Turkey Burger Salad
  • Friday – Dinner out – TBD
  • Saturday – Off to Green Bay! Tentative dinner at Hinterland Brewery.
  • Sunday – Meals TBD. It’s my final game of the season as a Packers Gold Package Season Ticket Holder.

Lunch:

Breakfasts:

Fitness

  • Monday – Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.
  • Tuesday Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.
  • Wednesday – Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.
  • Thursday – Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.
  • Friday – REST
  • Saturday – REST
  • Sunday – Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.

What is your favorite way to re-purpose leftovers?

Cheers~
Carrie

Black Bean Pasta {A Review}

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Last year, I participated in NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) and was really surprised that I was able to post every day in the month of November pretty easily. I’m really not sure how I did it, when over the past couple months I’ve been struggling. However, I’m going to give it a shot again because at least it’ll force me to try to get all of my memories on Australia in print!

That is why today, you are getting my Food & Fitness Link-Up post instead of on Monday!

But first, just a little recap on last week and what I finally tried: Black Bean “Pasta”.

I decided to try it in this recipe for Southwestern Black Bean Pasta with Skinny Avocado Crema.

This is what it looked like:

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Then I added the avocado crema, which came out thicker than I expected and became more of a dollop than a drizzle.

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I didn’t go crazy over these black bean “noodles” like the majority of people did who reviewed them on line. I did like them just fine. Still, the texture was a little weird. It made sense because that texture was more like black beans. It’s just not what you expect for pasta.

I think the black bean “spaghetti” would taste better with more of a sauce. I kept adding more of that avocado crema, despite the fact that it wasn’t exactly my favorite either. It was a little too tangy for me. That could be because of the yogurt or the lemon juice. I even added a bit more olive oil to mellow it out.

This recipe made a ton of food! I didn’t use fresh corn, but frozen and I loved getting that hint of sweetness every couple of bites. The mushrooms were a nice touch, too. To be honest, I’d probably make this dish with just regular black beans! I’d make my own Power Bowl by topping some black beans with the veggie mixture from the recipe above, then sprinkle a little cheddar and top with some sliced avocado instead of the crema.

Rob took a taste and he liked the texture of the noodles even less than I did. But we both believe that with some sort of sauce, they could be much better.

I’m still going to try it the Black Bean Spaghetti with Red Curry Sauce recipe. And I may create my own with a garlic cream sauce as well.

And now for this week:

planning

Food

Last week went really well with us eating on our own. I loved being able to eat chicken at home. I made chicken thighs for the first time! This Pan-Roasted Chicken with Harissa Chickpeas dish was absolutely delicious. However, between the thighs (of which I only made half of the recipe) and the Southwestern Black Bean Spaghetti with Skinny Avocado Crema, it was so much food! I didn’t even make the Crockpot Chicken with Brussels Sprouts I had planned because I had so many leftovers.

Here are my plans for this week!

Dinners:

Lunch:

  • Leftovers
  • Snacks – Honeycrisp apples, nuts or string cheese and dark chocolate

Breakfasts:

Fitness

  • Monday – Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.
  • Tuesday Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.
  • Wednesday – Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.
  • Thursday – REST
  • Friday – REST
  • Saturday – Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.
  • Sunday – Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.

I’m looking for some recipe suggestions for next week! When I went to visit my friend Stacy, she had an overabundence of winter squash. I took a few off her hands. I have a small butternut squash, a buttercup squash and an acorn squash.

Here are a couple of recipes I’m considering trying:

What are your favorite winter squash recipes?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

 

 

Look at Me Eating My Broccoli! AR

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It’s a miracle.

I’ve learned to like broccoli.

I never thought it would happen. I couldn’t stand the stench of it. If one of my college roommates or an co-worker made it, I had to leave the room. People have said that I hadn’t had it prepared in a way that I’d like it. Some say to try it with cheese sauce. No no no! I would never want to ruin cheese that way! Even with the cheese, the smell of the broccoli would just make me gag. I found later, that the only time I could really eat it is if it was chopped up really small into a stir fry. Even then I’d pick most of it out.

But when I was a kid:

  • I didn’t like seafood (or even had much of it) – but I do now.
  • I didn’t like mushrooms (the ones we had were canned!) – but I do now (if they are fresh!)
  • I didn’t like green beans (also canned) – but I do now (if they are fresh or frozen.)

And now… broccoli!

Here’s how. Because I never make it, my husband begged me to make him some after he put a package of the frozen stuff in my cart at Costco.

“That’s a lot of broccoli!” I said.

“Yeah.” he said with a smile.

That week, I got an email in my inbox with a recipe for Garlic Parmesan Roasted Broccoli from Damn Delicious. I was cooking some steaks for us that night and decided to thaw out a portion of broccoli to roast for him. I had some tomatoes I wanted to eat that I knew he wouldn’t want anyway. When it came out of the oven, it didn’t smell bad nor stink up my house. Because I learned I liked broccolini when it was roasted, I took a little taste of the roasted broccoli. “Not bad!” I thought. It was good enough for me to even pop a whole piece into my mouth!

So the next time I made that recipe, I made enough for both of us. And I ate up all of my broccoli on my plate! Yes, moms across America would be so proud. I truly believe that it’s the roasting that mellows out that strong broccoli aroma.

So look what I bought for the first time ever at the Farmer’s Market last weekend!

My first head of fresh broccoli!

My first head of fresh broccoli!

The whole time I was chopping this, I kept singing Dana Carvey’s “Choppin’ Broccoli.” I couldn’t help myself. I made it for the girls when they came over on Thursday, alongside this Garlic & Herb Chicken from Kalyn’s Kitchen. I had this vision of pouring my beloved Roasted Tomato Dressing over the chicken. I had made some of that the night before.

Roasted tomatoes waiting to be pulverized to become dressing!

Roasted tomatoes waiting to be pulverized to become dressing!

The dressing was fabulous, but didn’t work quite so well over the chicken. Maybe it was a bit a bit overpowering? Maybe I should have warmed the dressing? What’s strange is that I did like dipping cold pieces of chicken into the dressing later. Hmmm…

So here were my leftovers:

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So I put some into a Power Bowl for my Friday lunch!

  • red kale
  • chopped roasted garlic roasted parmesan broccoli!
  • chopped tomatoes
  • onion
  • sliced chicken breast
  • sprinkling of shredded mozzarella
  • about four teaspoons of the roasted tomato dressing

I warmed it up in the microwave at work and this was an out-of-this-world bowl of leftovers! One of my best bowls yet!

~

So what about this week?

planning

Food

We’re changing things up a bit this week! Rob isn’t always in the mood for what I have planned for dinner. And unless I make two separate meals for each of us, I never get to eat chicken or fish. This week, we are on our own. We might try to do one meal at home together on the weekend.

Dinners:

Lunch:

  • Leftovers
  • Snacks – Honeycrisp apples, nuts or string cheese and dark chocolate

Breakfasts:

Fitness _ TBD

  • Monday – Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.
  • Tuesday Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.
  • Wednesday – Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.
  • Thursday – REST
  • Friday – REST
  • Saturday – Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.
  • Sunday – Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.

What foods have you learned to like?

Cheers~
Carrie

San Marzano Meat Sauce over Spaghetti or Zoodles

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Warning: Today’s post is purely selfish.

I have no photos to share of this recipe I’m about to share with you. And I’m the one who prefers a photo of a dish with a recipe.

It’s selfish because when I made it, having used a few different sources, I didn’t like toggling between all of the recipes!

Then, I didn’t want to forget what I did. I needed the recipe down in print. And needed it linked to my Recipe Arsenal.

And I’m sharing it with you…

Because it turned out Fabulously.

Remember when I was testing out jarred San Marzano pasta sauces?

And how I said I couldn’t give up my tried and true jarred marinara – Ragu. {Despite cringing at the sugar and sodium content!}

Well, I can now.

Thank you, Snack-Girl for the inspiration! I adapted your recipe to mix in with some ground beef with my uber-favorite San Marzano tomatoes to create a meat sauce to top spaghetti or Zoodles.

Heeeeerrrreee goes!

~

San Marzano Meat Sauce

Adapted from this Six-Minute Marinara Sauce recipe by Snack-Girl.
(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • extra virgin olive oil (1/2 to 1 Tbsp)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic (I always have them on hand in the freezer because of this tip from An Organic Wife)
  • 1 lb ground beef (or pork or turkey)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes (I did 1 tsp because I like a little more kick!)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes

Method:

  • Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan or skillet.
  • Add diced onion and garlic cook until soft. Watch carefully so they don’t burn.
  • Add ground beef and cook until almost completely browned.
  • Add salt, red pepper flakes and oregano and mix well.
  • Add San Marzano tomatoes and juices. I took the whole tomatoes out of the can and roughly chopped them before putting them in the pan and adding the juices. But this was very messy. You can try breaking them up after you add them to the pan, but that might get just as messy!
  • Simmer until heated through. Reduce heat to low until ready to use, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve over hot spaghetti or Zoodles {recipe below}.

Zoodles

(Serves 4)

There are many ways to make zoodles {aka zucchini noodles}, but this is the way I like to do it! I used this method to julienne the zucchini and then made a variation based on the Zoodles in this Skinnytaste recipe.

You will need approximately one medium zucchini (or 2 small) per person. It may seem like a lot, but remember the “noodles” will cook down. I based my recipe on serving four people to correspond with the recipe for San Marzano Meat Sauce above.

Ingredients:

  • extra virgin olive oil (1/2 to 1 Tbsp)
  • 4 medium zucchinis (or 8 small)
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • Julienne the zucchini by holding it in one hand and pushing a julienne peeler into the flesh, starting at the top moving down. You should end up with strings of zucchini. Continue the process until you start to hit the seeds or core of the zucchini. Don’t worry if they stick together a bit. They will break up as you move them around in the pan.
  • Heat a large sauce pan or skillet over medium heat.
  • When hot, add the oil, onions and garlic.
  • Saute until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Increase heat to medium-high and add the zucchini strings. {aka Zoodles!}
  • Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 1 minute.
  • Stir everything together and saute for an additional 1 to 1 and 1/2 minutes, or until your desired firmness.
  • As the zucchini cooks down, it releases a lot of water. So sometimes it’s a good idea to drain the Zoodles before serving. This will keep your sauce from getting runny!
  • When serving, top with San Marzano Meat Sauce, sprinkle on some shredded or grated parmesan and enjoy!

~

 And usually at this time, I share:

planning

But I’m behind on my meal planning for this week. So it’s your turn to help!

After my farmers’ market stop, here is the veg I know have on hand:

  • tomatoes
  • brussels sprouts
  • onions
  • multi-colored carrots
  • potatoes
  • cabbage
  • red kale
  • spaghetti squash

And here are the protein bases I’m working with this week:

For lunches, I’m going for some Quick and Easy Bowls because I made a fantastic one this weekend. I can’t wait for lunch! Here is what went in it:

  1. Base steamed/sauteed red kale
  2. Grain/Starchbrown rice
  3. Proteinbutter beans (but great northern beans or cannellinis would be nice, too.)
  4. Veggies – steamed/sauteed onion, multi-colored carrots, tomato
  5. Fatshredded mozzarella
  6. SauceRoasted Tomato Dressing, then seasoned with a little bit of Italian herbs, salt & pepper

What would you make with these ingredients?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

Black Bean “Pasta”

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Rob and I picked up a new item at Costco last week:

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Just look at all the protein in these babies!

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I love black beans, so I’m very curious about these. They have great reviews, too! Of course, a Mexican-style dish makes the most sense to me. A red curry sauce is also suggested on their website. I’ll try that when I’m cooking just for me. But I am also considered making a light garlic cream sauce and just adding some veggies. I’m planning to try this “pasta” out next week. How would you use these?

But as for this week:

planning

Food

Dinners:

Lunch:

  • Leftovers
  • Snacks – apples, nuts or string cheese and dark chocolate

Breakfasts:

Fitness

  • Monday – Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.
  • Tuesday Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.
  • Wednesday – Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.
  • Thursday – Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.
  • Friday – REST
  • Saturday – Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.
  • Sunday – REST

So my questions this week:

What is your favorite bone-in chicken thigh recipe?

How would you use the black bean spaghetti I bought?

Cheers~
Carrie

Rebooting…

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In all truth, it only took a few days for me to get my days back on track since we returned from Australia on the 15th. {I did have a few nights of going to bed early and then waking up in the middle of the night for four hours at a time.} And surprisingly, catching up at work only took about a week. But that was followed by a $400 vet trip for Sophie Jean to have a tooth removed with the longest recovery time I’ve ever encountered with her.

I also spent evenings having dinners with friends to catch up. Then, I a wonderful birthday weekend celebration including dinner at the best Wine Bar in Minneapolis {more to come!}, golfing with friends, winning a game of Texas Hold ‘Em, enjoying a Crème Brûlée French Toast Brunch and finding Pumking on tap. Nothing to complain about there!

That was followed by a three-day work-week (again – not complaining!) in order to make my way to Green Bay for our second Packer game as a (Gold Package) Season Ticket Holder.

So it’s time to reboot and get back into the routine. That includes finances, workouts, meal-planning and blogging. But that doesn’t mean this doesn’t include fun!

planning

To reboot, here’s what I’ve got planned for the week:

Food

Dinners:

  • MondayChocolate Chili
  • Tuesday – Leftover Chocolate Chili
  • Wednesday Pork Chops with Garlic Parmesan Parmesan Broccoli (Seriously, I made this for Rob and had a bite and had a taste. It wasn’t bad! I’m going to try to eat a whole serving.)
  • Thursday –  Leftover Pork Chops with Garlic Parmesan Parmesan Broccoli
  • Friday – Our monthly Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament begins! Happy Hour will most likely be at Carbone’s, where I love their Cheeseburger Wrap!
  • Saturday – We have Groupons to use that expire this month at The Tangiers, Firehouse Grille and Mattie’s on Main. We’ll most likely use one this day.
  • Sunday – TBD – Packer game at noon!

Lunch:

Breakfasts:

Fitness

I’m having a hard time doing any hard core workouts without having back issues or cramps. I know I can just walk, but that doesn’t feel like enough cardio for me. I’ve been doing HIIT by using the first day of the Couch to 5k as a guide, where I sprint (or run as fast as I possibly can) the running portion. It’s made me very sore. So I’m going to alternate workouts based on how I feel. But here are the days I plan to workout.

  • Monday – Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.
  • Tuesday Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.
  • Wednesday – Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.
  • Thursday – Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.
  • Friday – REST
  • Saturday – Walk 1 hour OR Run 1 mile OR HIIT Run/Walk OR 30 min on recumbent bike.
  • Sunday – REST

How do you reboot?

Cheers~
Carrie