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Michael’s Choice

2 Sep

Tomorrow is Labor Day and we have spent the weekend in true tradition, grilling, diving into pools, and eating crabs with friends. But of course, the day after Labor Day is just a plain old Tuesday, which means back to work (and school). But to extend my extended weekend a little longer, I let Michael pick all the meals, with the exception of one new dish that I’m looking forward to trying. It may not seem like much of a reprieve, but it was nice not having to think about “will the kids like this” and “what’s in the pantry” and “what ingredients will work in multiple dishes” etc etc. It’s also interesting to see what his favorite meals are (no surprise – a lot of meat and potato type meals, but at the same time, I was surprised to see the two fish dishes). The first meal listed below is the new one – I found it on a Food & Wine slide show of easy chicken dinners. And since I’m originally a Philly girl, I have to love anything with pretzels, so I think it will be a nice alternative to our standard baked breaded chicken tenders. In the meantime, I hope everyone is enjoying their time off and transitioning easily back to the real world.

1. Mustard-Baked Chicken with a Pretzel Crust, with Roasted Broccoli and Farro Risotto
To my surprise, the boys really liked the Farro Risotto. Now we’ll see if Michael is on board too.

2. Cheeseburger Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and peas and carrots
Comfort food at its easiest.

3. Lemon Dill Tilapia with Sabzi Polo (Persian Green Rice) and sauteed spinach
This is very similar to a Persian meal typically eaten on the first day of Spring, but it is easy and healthy and still great to eat during the last stretch of Summer.

4. Turkey Stroganoff
Possibly B & K’s favorite dish out of all of these. Little boys can, luckily, sometimes be really easy to please.

5. Shepherd’s Pie
We ended up not using the frozen dish that I made a few weeks ago, so luckily we have a pre-made dinner ready to go. But even if you don’t make one in advance, this is an easy enough dish that you can throw it together in just over 30 minutes.

6. Pork Tenderloin with Preserves with mashed potatoes and Roasted Brussel Sprouts
The brussel sprouts with apple give just enough of a feeling of fall to feel right at home in early September.

7. Baked Fish Tacos with Rice-Cooker Black Beans and Rice
This fish is so easy to make and can be cooked on the grill or in the oven. My boys love it, and you can spice it up as much (or as little) as you like. And then pick as many fun toppings as you like!

8. Vegetarian Mexican Lasagna
This is what I call a “pantry dinner” – with the exception of the cheese (which we always have in the fridge), it is a great dinner to make when you haven’t been to the store in a while. Everything you need is probably in your cabinets already, and if not, it is so easy to substitute whatever you have available.

9. Turkey Chili with Corn Bread
Again, I think I’m feeling the Fall creep up on us, because I’m looking forward to a big bowl of chili. Of course, I’m hoping it’s not 90 degrees the day I make this!



August Already??

3 Aug

I know it’s a cliche, but I really cannot believe it is August already.  Another two weeks are done – this summer is really flying by.  Not much to report here – I’m hoping to have a couple dinners done on the grill so Michael can take over and I can take it easy.  This last stretch of summer is always so bitter-sweet.  I find myself starting to stress over the impending fall rather than enjoying one last month of pool time, sunshine, and relaxation (well, relative to other times of the year anyway).  At least I don’t have to stress about dinner every night!

  1. Curried Chicken Penne with Mango Chutney

My kids love fresh mango – and this Cooking Light recipe looks like an interesting twist to regular old chicken curry.

  1. Easy Chicken Lo Mein

They had me at “Easy”. 

  1. Slow Cooker Meatball Subs with Roasted Sesame and Honey Carrots 

I made a big batch of meatballs in the oven a couple weeks ago and froze them.  Now I’ll just heat them up in the slow cooker and voila – easiest dinner ever!

  1. Everything Grilled Chicken Salad

This isn’t your typical grilled chicken salad – this whole thing is grilled, lettuce and all – and it’s delicious!

  1. Baked Parmesan and Panko Tilapia with Onion Soup Potatoes

Since I never got around to making these potatoes last week, they’re getting a second chance.

  1. Salsa Verde Chicken Bake with Black Beans and Rice

Quite possibly one of the easiest dinners to throw together, from one of my favorite websites.

  1. Slow Cooker Eggplant Moussaka

When I’m trying lots of new recipes at home, I find it’s a good idea to throw in something I know the kids love and are familiar with too. 

  1. Sicilian Rice Ball Casserole

Sounds like a funny name – but it’s from the genius Gina at SkinnyTaste.   I’ll make it with Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage. 

  1. Tomato Pie and Grilled Chicken Sausages

Another Simply Recipes dish that I wanted to try last summer and never had a chance to.  I’ll see if Michael can pick up tomatoes from the farmer’s market for this one and then make it with low-fat mayo.

Power Outages and Restocking the Freezer

6 Jul

For those of you in our area, hopefully you have all  had your power (and sanity) restored from the storms that hit just before the Fourth of July.  We were relatively lucky in that we were on vacation for the storms and only had to live at home without power for about a day.  But I know many of you weren’t so lucky.  Also not as lucky: all of the food in our refridgerator and two freezers.  Since we were on vacation, there wasn’t that much in the fridge, but our freezers were stocked.  I’m not sure what I’m more heartbroken over, the tray of spanokopita I had been saving for a rainy day, the dozen or so single-serving tupperware containers filled with frozen leftovers that I take for lunch, or the 2 packages of ridiculously expensive special diet dog food – all of which had to be thrown out.  Of course, it is still sweltering out there, so I’m leaning towards quick cooking, lighter dishes these days.  But I will probably try to make a little more each night so I can restock my back-up lunches.  And putting the menus together have helped me figure out what staples we now need to stock up on again (could I have saved the Worscteshire sauce?  Possibly, but why risk it?).   In the meantime, stay cool!

1. Tuna, Tomatoes, White Beans and Pasta

An easy Rachael Ray inspired 30-minute meal.

2. Grilled Cilantro Chicken over Lemon Linguine

Found this recipe while browsing my fave website: FoodGawker!  Looks delish and I can’t wait to try it.

3. Baked Panko Breaded Chicken Tenders with Farro Risotto

Easy, peasy chicken tenders that the kids will love and hopefully distract them enough that they’ll give Farro Risotto (which I intend to make with some pumpkin puree) a try 🙂

4. Spaghetti with Edamame, Tomato, and Parsley Pistou

Don’t be frightened by the pistou – it’s a super easy sauce and you can easily substitute pesto if you want!

5. Roasted Tilapia with Potatoes and Lemons

Do you love Real Simple Magazine as much as I do?  This is one of their recipes that I’m excited to try.

6. Easiest Ever Baked Mac and Cheese

Maybe with chicken sausage.  Maybe without.  It’s really good either way.

7. Chicken and Chickpeas over Rice

Another superfast, one pot (well, I guess one pot and one rice cooker) dinner.

8. Leftover Rice Salad with Shrimp, Sugar Snap Peas, and Tomatoes

What do you do when you have leftover rice?  Make a rice salad! 

9. Dinner on the grill with chicken, corn on the cob, and Grilled Salad.

You haven’t tried a grilled salad yet?  What are you waiting for?  No recipe here – just brush a little olive oil on some romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and red onions and grill away – it is delicious!  And best of all, for me, it means Michael is cooking dinner!

Sweet Treat: Strawberry Banana Baked Oatmeal Muffins

22 Jun


If you have been on Pinterest lately, or on Facebook, or Foodgawker (Oh how I LOVE Foodgawker!) or pretty much anywhere on the internet that has to do with food, you have no doubt seen recipes for baked oatmeal. Intrigued, I decided to give it a whirl, and I have to say I was quite pleased with how it turned out. These aren’t cake-like in consistency – they’re kind of teethier, exactly like you’d expect of baked oatmeal. But it is pretty delicious and really healthy – no added fat, except for the eggs, and very little sugar that doesn’t come from fruit. I used strawberries because I had a ton in my fridge, but blueberries, raspberries, or just about any other fruit you could think of would be great too.  Just don’t omit the banana – it helps keep it all together.  And did I mention how easy they are to make? I baked a whole big batch one afternoon and then after they cooled (and after we sampled quite a few) I froze them. Now I just pop one in the fridge the night before and have it for breakfast the next morning!


1/2 c. brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 bananas, mushed
1 c. no sugar added apple sauce
2 c. skim milk
1 TBSP cinnamon
1 TBSP vanilla
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
5 c. old fashioned oats
2 cups strawberries, sliced


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Whisk all wet ingredients together in a large bowl.
  • Add the dry ingredients and incorporate well.
  • Spray muffin tins well (seriously – this suckers stick!) or use muffin liners.
  • Pour mixture into muffin tins – filling all the way. This batch made about 18 muffins.
  • Bake 35-40 minutes.  
  • Allow to cool fully prior to freezing.

Vacation Planning

15 Jun

So B “graduated” from preschool this week, which was simultaneously one of the most ridiculous yet precious things I’ve ever witnessed.   And like any senior graduating from school, he’s hitting the beach!  Which means we only have half the number of meals to plan this time around.  Of course, we’re doing some meal planning and some serious packing for vacation too, but we get to share that burden with my parents and brother and his wife.  In the meantime, we’re taking it easy with some quick dinners (at least one of which I meant to make this week and never got around to).  As always, it’s a mix of tried-but-true recipes and some new ones I’ve never tried before.  And also, as always, I’m loving the dinner suggestions I’ve been getting – keep sending them my way!

1. Slow Cooker Turkey Meatball Subs with Oven Fries and Salad

I love meatball subs, and this is an easy way to enjoy them with all the prep work done the night before!

2. Skinny 20 minute Sesame Chicken with Roasted Broccoli

Yeah, this was on last week’s menu – but we didn’t get around to making it, so I’ve still got 3 heads of broccoli sitting in my fridge .  .  .

3. Indian-Inspired Sloppy Joes with flat bread and sauteed spinach

A Rachael Ray recipe recommended by a good friend! I’ll be making it with ground turkey, but if you want to make it with lamb – go crazy!

4. Spinach-Turkey Roll with mashed potatoes

Turkey meatloaf stuffed with spinach?  Sure, why not!

5.  Braised chicken with olives, carrots, and chick peas over rice

I honestly have no idea where this recipe originated from – I have it written down in an old notebook full of recipes I’ve made.  It’s good and easy though.

Countdown to Summer

1 Jun

I don’t know about you, but I am ready for summer. Not just the warm weather, lazy days at the pool, and extra hours of daylight, but also for summer food. Berries! Stone fruit! Grilling! Salads! It is all good and light and generally makes me happy. And while it officially isn’t summer for a few more weeks, I’m ready to start at least a few summer recipes. I’ve got a mix of tried-but-true recipes from my regular rotation, plus some of my own usual summer mix, and a few new ones that I’m looking forward to trying out. And if you have any healthy, easy, yummy summer recipes to share, please do!

1. Avocado Fettucine

A lighter, creative version of fettuccini that I’m excited to try! I think I might add some tomatoes and a handful of Parmesan.

2. Shepherd’s Pie

I’ll make this the night before so it just needs to be reheated in the oven for dinner after work.

3. Yogurt Marinated Chicken with Tomato and Cucumber Couscous

This is an easy marinade that can be used for grilled or baked chicken and the quickest side you can make.

4. Healthy Chicken Piccata with Orzo and Broccoli Rabe

5. Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken with Spring Vegetables

I’ll be honest, I’m not particularly optimistic about this dish, but I think it sounds worth trying out. At least it’s easy to make!

6. Fish Tacos with Black Beans and Rice

7. 20 Minute Skinny Sesame Chicken with Rice and Roasted Broccoli

8. Caprese Pasta (Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil, and Mozzarella)

Summer in a bowl.

9. Slow Cooker Moussaka with Rice

Comfort Foods for Rainy Days

21 May

So I’m running a little behind schedule this round.  Work has been busy and has had to take priority.  But we still have to eat and while we didn’t make it to the grocery store this weekend, we’re going to raid the pantry for dinner tonight and get back on the wagon tomorrow.  I’m also feeling a little uninspired right now – possibly due to the non-stop torrential downpours – and nothing is really jumping out at me.  Although all the rain has put me in the mood of some good old fashioned comfort foods.  And I do have a bunch of new recipes to try – hopefully a few will make it into our regular rotation.  It’s also a shorter menu than usual, as it’s a holiday week.  Michael will be manning the grill on Memorial Day and we’ll be out of the house at least once this week.  Plus, I’m excited to try a new RR recipe that one of my best friends from college recommended me.  So I guess I’m not totally in a rut – and by the end of the week hopefully we’ll be feeling good about dinner again!

1.  Slow Cooker Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Talk about the ultimate rainy day comfort foods.  I might “fancy-up” my grilled cheese with some fresh mozzarella and/or fresh basil leaves, but the kids like theirs plain.  Either way, I wish we could stay in all day and eat this!

2.  Rachael Ray’s Oven Fried Fish Mushy Spring Peas

This is Whip’s recommendation – and she has excellent taste, so I’m sure it will be great!

3.  Greek Turkey Picadillo

Because it is easy, yummy, and uses up stuff from our pantry

4. Tuna, Tomatoes, White Beans with pasta

A RR inspired dish that is also using up stuff in the pantry until we can get ourselves to the store

5. Ravioli with Roasted Sesame and Honey Carrots

6. Turkey Kielbasa with Peas and Carrots over Egg Noodles

One last dish trying to use up everything in the house

7.  Michael’s Spaghetti with Slow Cooker Meat Sauce

I have to get the recipe from him – but the boys love it!  I’ll update once he gets it to me.

8.  Pasta with Goat Cheese, Baby Spinach and Cherry Tomatoes

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