Thursday, December 17, 2015

Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies!

  I often make muffins for breakfast because they are so easy to make and also easy for the kids to grab and eat as many as they would like.  I really like using Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes from Costco (you can buy them other places too!).  This baking mix already has protein in it, so using if for waffles, pancakes, and muffins is perfect for breakfast!  I'm a little bit crazy about making sure my kids have a good amount of protein with each meal, and I LOVE how easy this baking mix makes it!

  So, this morning I decided an oatmeal breakfast cookie could be a fun change of pace for us.  I used this recipe from Yummy Healthy Easy, and adapted it to use the Power Cakes.  Instead of using whole wheat flour and baking soda, I used a half cup of the Power Cakes mix.  So, between the peanut butter and the Power Cakes, these little cookies have plenty of protein and make a great breakfast to start the day!  I also only used 1/4 cup of sugar instead of the 1/2 cup the recipe calls for. The banana helps the cookies in the sweetness department too!  And, we were out of raisins, so I didn't add those.  These would probably be wonderful with mini chocolate chips, but I decided not to add them this time!

  The kids gobbled them up in no time, and will likely grab one or two more as the morning goes on.  I'll make these again!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Slow Cooker BBQ Shredded Chicken

Chad's parents joined us for the day and, as a bonus, stayed for dinner too! For a simple dinner that required very little on my part, I tossed frozen chicken breasts and BBQ sauce in my crock pot and cooked it on low all day. (Thanks to my sister-in-love Amber for this recipe!). That's it! Then just shread the chicken and keep the crock pot on warm until you are ready to eat.
This chicken is delish with tortillas like we had, but also on buns, chips, salad, or all by itself. I made a quick kale and spinach salad (topped with carrots, tomatoes, celery, sunflower seeds, and feta, and dinner was ready!
This meal is perfect for these CRAZY December days where you are basically darting from one party to activity to another party every day. Just put it in the crock pot, and forget about it! 


Monday, December 7, 2015

November 29 - December 6, 2015

** here's the deal.  The Christmas season is in FULL swing around here, just as I'm sure it is at your house too!  So, there won't be any full, weekly menus posted until after the first of the year.  Between parties, gatherings, spontaneous fun, family, and all things in between, I plan to still have meals for our family, and stick to our budget, but enjoy the season and not be bogged down when our plans change and we eat hamburgers three nights in a row.  ;-)
  So, I may post a recipe or two, and if so I will update Yummy to Our Tummies on Facebook as well!

Merry Christmas to each of you!

Here is the one notable recipe from this past week.  It's delish, makes a TON, and is also tasty as a leftover.  It's perfect for a night when you want to invite people over but don't want to spend hours in the kitchen.  The original recipe is made in a crockpot, but I made it on the stovetop for lunch on Sunday because I decided last minute we would have it.  It was just as wonderful!  Also, I think any ground meat would work with it...beef, chicken, turkey, venison...whatever you have on hand.  It's a perfect, hearty soup for a thick, crusty slice of bread or some ooey-gooey garlic rolls.  Yum!

Creamy Crock Pot Tortellini Soup
  (courtesy of Family Fresh Meals)
 Serves: 6

24 oz jar spaghetti sauce
2 cups water
¼ cup diced onion
3-­4 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup diced carrots
1lb ground beef, browned
4 cups of loosely packed fresh spinach leaves
4 cups beef broth
8 oz cream cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes
8 oz sliced fresh mushrooms
16 oz refrigerated cheese tortellini (you can also use frozen, just add 30 more minutes to cooking time)


1. Combine spaghetti sauce, water, meat, onions, garlic, carrots, spinach, cream cheese, beef broth, and mushrooms in a slow­cooker. Cook on LOW for 7 hours, on HIGH for 5 hours.

2. Before adding in tortellini, take a whisk to your soup to break up any chunks of cream cheese. Stir in tortellini. Cover and cook for 20-­30 minutes or until tender and hot. (If using frozen tortellini, I would cook for about 45 more minutes, or until tender and hot)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

November 22-28, 2015

·         * I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving week! Obviously, this week is a little "light" on meals because of family fun.

Sunday:  Lunch – Leftover Gumbo
                 Dinner – One Pot Ziti with Salad

  Easy, delicious, plenty of leftovers, and a family fave.  J  (Pardon my French, but this recipe is courtesy of

Monday:  Leftovers

On Sunday night, I put the leftover ziti into a greased casserole dish in the oven.  Then, about 30 minutes before dinner time, all I had to do was pull the dish out of the fridge and put it in the oven.  Then I heat the oven to 350 degrees and in about 25 minutes, the pasta is heated through, and dinner is ready.  Easy peasey!  Anytime I can prepare food once that we will eat twice, I feel like a rock star.

Tuesday:  Movie & Dinner Out!

  The kids were staying a few nights with Chad’s parents, so that meant Chad and I had a few nights to go out.  J

Wednesday:  Dinner Out (Again!)

Thursday:  Thanksgiving Day!!

Friday:  Burgers

….Because it was cold, rainy, and I didn’t want to cook.  ;)

Saturday:  Ground Venison & Veggie Quesadillas or Salad

Ground Venison & Veggie Quesadillas

  Thanks to Chad’s first deer hunt of the season a few weeks ago, we now have venison in the freezer again!  I used about a pound of the ground venison to make taco meat.  I first sautéed small, diced zucchini and carrots in a little avocado oil until they were tender.  Then I added salt, pepper, and minced garlic and stirred that around for about 2 minutes (don’t let the garlic burn!).  Next, I added in the venison and cooked it all together until the meat was browned all the way through.  I added a little taco seasoning as well.  That’s it!  This meat is great served with tortillas, or even over a salad.  I plan to use the leftover meat and veggies for a pasta dish another night.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

November 15-21, 2015

  *If you are reading this, please also "like" Yummy to Our Tummies on Facebook :-)**

Sunday:  Roast, Potatoes & Carrots with Fresh Vegetables and Rolls

  I put a roast in my crock pot right when I woke up early Sunday morning.  It had been in the freezer, and even though I had put it in my fridge early the day before, it was still a bit frozen.  I topped the roast with a package of onion soup mix, 1 can of cream of mushroom (regular unhealthy Campbells J - but, you can find organic, healthier versions, or make your own!), and poured over about 2 cups of chicken broth.  Then I threw in small yellow potatoes and big chunks of peeled carrots.  I cooked it on low until we came home from church and had lunch around 1:00.  We invited another family from church over, so to make the meal go further, I made a quick tray of fresh veggies and picked up some rolls from Dickey’s on the way home.  It was a wonderful Sunday lunch…that I didn’t take a picture of!

Monday:  Dinner at Mom’s House  J

Tuesday:  Breakfast for Dinner!  Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin French Toast, Scrambled Eggs, & Bacon

Wednesday:  Dinner at Small Group

Thursday:  Grilled Turkey Sausage, Steamed Broccoli, & Fresh Bell Peppers

  This is such an easy, healthy, and kid-friendly meal.  My kids always enjoy grilled sausage, and it’s simple to throw in healthy sides based on what you happen to have in your fridge or freezer.

Friday:  Sliders with Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Broccoli

  Family Movie Night!!

Saturday:  Chad’s Gumbo Over Brown Rice with Garlic Bread

  When Chad wants to cook, I never argue!  His gumbo is delicious!  He uses whatever game we have in the freezer (I believe this one had some duck and goose), and also adds sausage.  This time he also purchased a Cajun rue from the store rather than making his own from scratch.  Here’s the recipe he typed up for me.  It’s so yummy, and the leftovers are just as good…or better!

Chad’s Conglomerate Gumbo

Total Time:3 hours
Prep: 15 min
Cook: 2 hr 45 min
Yield: 8 to 10 servings


4 duck breasts, spoonbills a good option

1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 cup smoked turkey/chicken
Salt and pepper
Tony Chacheres
3 bay leaves
1/2 cup peanut oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic minced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 stalks celery chopped
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
4 cups broth/stock
2 cups water (fill broth bag after emptying)
1 bag frozen sliced okra
4 green onions, sliced, white and green parts


Prep by chopping onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic (trinity) and set aside in a bowl.  Cut sausage into ¼ slices and set aside with duck breasts and shredded turkey/chicken.

Add small amount of oil to hot dutch oven type pot and sear the duck and sausage together for about 6-8 minutes.  Remove meat, set aside in a bowl, and proceed to roux.  To make roux, add the ½ cup oil to pot and let get hot over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle the flour over the oil, add 2 tablespoons of butter and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until rich brown, about 20-30 minutes.  Be patient, whisk constantly, and do not let burn.  If you don’t have time for this step, buy a jar of ready-made roux.

Add the remaining 3 tablespoons butter, along with the trinity mixture and cook for 10 minutes, stirring with wooden spoon until mixture well coated and onions start to wilt. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, Tony Chach to taste. Add 4 cups broth, 2 cups water, and bay leaves while whisking constantly. Add the chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for one hour. Add okra. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes or until ready to serve.  Serve over steamed rice, top with green onions, and taste before adding hot sauce to preference.

Homemade Crock Pot Chicken Stock
  If you save the bones from a rotisserie chicken, you can add some simple ingredients, cook on low all day, and end up with 8-10 cups of homemade chicken broth for your freezer!  I used my friend Dana’s recipe from Real-Food, Real-Family.  

Homemade Chicken Stock


chicken bones/carcass from one chicken
1-2 stalks celery
1-2 carrots
1 small onion, quartered
bay leaf
thyme (sprig or 1/2 tsp dried)
oregano (sprig or 1/2 tsp dried)
white or apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp – 1 T (optional)
salt, to taste


1.  Put the chicken bones/carcass in the bottom of your crockpot. If you are using the carcass from a homemade roasted chicken you can add the juices in there too.
2.  Add in the vegetables, herbs and vinegar (optional) and cover with water until there is about a 1/2 – 1 inch of room left at the top.
3.  Cook on low as long as you can.  Try for 10 hours or more.  I usually start mine around 7:30 a.m. and go until after dinner.
4.  Use a fine strainer and strain out all the chicken parts, vegetables, and herbs.
5.  Store the chicken broth in the fridge for up to a week or freeze in freezer safe containers or bags.

6.  Use your stock in any recipe calling for chicken broth or stock.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

November 8-14, 2015

Sunday:  Dino Chicken, Apples, & Fresh Veggies
  Because Daddy was hunting… J  I was also sick…L

Monday:  Slow Cooker Pesto Ranch Chicken Sliders with Fresh Fruit and Veggies

  This chicken is so full of flavor, and also so easy!  I used frozen chicken breasts, jarred pesto, some homemade Ranch seasoning a friend gave me, and only about 2 cups of chicken broth.  I served ours on King’s Hawaiian Rolls with fresh fruit and veggies for a quick meal before Ranger’s baseball game.  These were also great because anyone who was still hungry when we arrived back home after the game could make another slider or two.  I just kept the chicken on warm in the crock pot.  (Recipe from

Tuesday:  Pesto Ranch Chicken Nachos

  A great way to have the yummy chicken again!  I also sautéed zucchini and cherry tomatoes as a healthy side.  (This picture isn't very appetizing, but it really was tasty.)  Chad was working on processing the deer he shot over the weekend (yay!), so he ate later than the kids and I did.  He actually made a sort of “stack” with his chips, chicken, and veggies and said it was delicious that way too.

Wednesday:  Ground Venison Tacos with Flour Tortillas

  I asked Chad to leave out a pound of the ground venison (he froze the rest) because tacos were the perfect, quick meal for a night with another baseball game (the last one L).  I tossed in some more freshly diced zucchini and tomatoes so that it was basically a one pan dinner. 

Thursday:  Cheese Tortellini with Bolognese Sauce

Bolognese Sauce
  This is a wonderful recipe from our Uncle Jerry and Aunt Suzanne in Florida.  It is simple to put together, but after it simmers and the flavors meld together, it is so, so good!  I called an audible though, and instead of using ground beef, I used the already cooked pesto ranch chicken and a little bit of ground venison I had left in the fridge from our meals earlier in the week.  Seriously, I pulled out what we had and threw it in the sauce.  Since the chicken already had so much basil flavor because of the pesto, I didn’t add as much basil as the recipe calls for.  Still, it was so wonderful, and I used what I had instead of throwing leftovers away.  J  Just one of the little things I’ve learned helps when you are really trying to stick to a grocery budget!

¼ cup olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 pound ground beef
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
8 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
Salt and pepper
¼ cups freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, add olive oil.  When almost smoking, add the onion and garlic and sauté over medium heat until the onions become very soft, about 8 minutes.  Add the celery and carrot and sauté for 5 minutes.  Raise heat to high and add the ground beef.  Saute, stirring frequently and breaking up any large lumps and cook until meat is no longer pink, about 8 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, parsley, and basil and cook over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens, about ½ hour.  Finish Bolognese with cheese.  Check for seasoning and serve hot.

Friday:  Pizza & Movie Night!

  I jazzed up some frozen Costco pizzas with added veggies and seasonings.  It’s economical, and it was perfect for our family night in.

Saturday:  Boys Night

  Payton and I were at my niece’s birthday party, and Chad and the boys had a fun boys’ day and night.  Word on the street is, dinner was greasy bacon and eggs.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Walmart Grocery Pick-up...I Love You.

  A few weeks ago, I gave the new Walmart Grocery Pick-up a try.  I buy groceries on the first and fifteenth of every month, and sometimes, one of those days is highly inconvenient for a big shopping trip.   (I will post another time about why I shop when I do!).
  November 1st fell on a Sunday, and of course that meant the day before was Halloween.  Couple that with a crazy week in general, and we were almost fresh out of ALL groceries!  Seriously...this was my fridge.  And really...who doesn't have a half-gallon size of soy sauce in her fridge?

  I took advantage of the situation and cleaned the took like 5 minutes.  Extra bonus perk of the cash spending system!  ;-)
  Needless to say, we needed some groceries.  We didn't even have EGGS, which is almost like not having air if you were to ask Ranger.  But, as with many families, Sundays can be busy in the mornings, and then family time in the afternoons.  Because of this, I thought it was the perfect time to try Walmart's Grocery Pick-up.  I had seen a few people post about it, all with rave reviews.
  I am here to say, yes, it works, yes, it saved me time, and yes, it is AMAZING.

  I also feel like you should know that I am not typically a Walmart fan.  Walmart is more of a necessity some weeks than a place I enjoy shopping, and it's definitely never my first choice.  But shopping and they did all the leg-work for's incredible.
  I "shopped" on Saturday after I made my 2-week grocery menu for the first half of November.  Another wonderful keeps track of your bill as you shop, so you know EXACTLY what you are spending!  No surprise at the check-out!  Then, I picked a time when I wanted to pick up my groceries the next day.  The Walmart that is actually the closest to me doesn't have this service yet, but there are 2 others not much farther away.  One of them had time available on Sunday, and I chose the 8:00-10:00am slot since we don't have church until 9:30.
  I showed up right at 8:00, called the number in the special designated spot, and in about 5 minutes (perfect timing to check out Facebook), a nice lady walked my HUGE order of groceries out to my car.  She went over it and noted the 2 items they didn't have in stock and also 1 or 2 substitutions on my list, and then had me sign an adjust copy of my receipt.  Done and DONE!

  Since we usually buy everything with cash, that was one thing I had to adjust.  But, I simply put this transaction on our credit card and then subtracted that amount from the amount of cash I usually take out of the bank on the first of the month.
  I will absolutely shop this way again.  Not every time because I still like to alternate Walmart with Costco, Aldi, and Sprouts, but it was incredible.  Of course it saved me time, but I know without a doubt it saved me money because there were no opportunities for "impulse buys."  :-)  If you can plan ahead, know what brands you like and the amount you need, and have your budget in mind, I highly recommend giving this a try!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

November 1-7, 2015

Sunday:  Venison Chili

Venison Chili
  Callen had been requesting Chad’s venison chili for a few weeks, so it was time for that to happen.  The kids love to have them inside big scoop chips.  This recipe is really so good!  It would be great with beef, turkey, chicken, or whatever other meat you have on hand.

  Since I haven’t had much sleep the past few days because of a sick little one, taking a picture of the recipe in Chad’s recipe book is the best I can do.

Monday:  Baked Chicken Tenders with Steamed Broccoli & Brown Sugar Carrots

Baked Chicken Tenders
  We were supposed to have a 6:00pm baseball game, so I planned an easy, kid-friendly meal.  However, it rained, but I stuck to the plan.  Breading and baking chicken tenders really isn’t hard…just a little messy!  I mix milk and egg together in one shallow dish, and in another dish I mix parmesan cheese, panko bread crumbs, and spices.  (This time is was garlic salt, pepper, and paprika.)  Then, I make a little assembly line.  I use one hand to put the chicken in the egg mixture, then into the bread crumb mixture, then on to the lined baking sheet.  If you use one hand, you still have the other clean hand.  You can also use a fork or tongs if you don’t want to use your hands.  J

  Bake them at 400 degrees for 12 minutes, then turn them over and bake for another 10-12, until everything is done.  Chicken tenders don’t take long at all!  I made 2 packages, so it took 2 baking pans in my oven.

  I served ours with steamed broccoli and steamed carrots that I added some butter and a little brown sugar to right at the end.  My kids love these!

Tuesday:  Ommy Noms Chicken Spaghetti with Caesar Salad & Bread

  We had a friend coming for dinner, and this chicken spaghetti is usually a dish everyone likes.  I like it because it is made from scratch, but it’s also simple to make.

3/4 lb. thin spaghetti
3 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk
1/2 lb cheddar cheese, shredded
1 can Rotel tomatoes and green chilies, drained (use mild if you don’t like a little spice)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt & pepper, to taste
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (I used rotisserie)

Preheat oven to 350.  Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook spaghetti to al dente and drain.

Meanwhile, melt butter and sauté onions until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in chicken broth and milk to prevent lumps. Increase heat to medium high.  Allow to bubble until sauce thickens.

Reduce heat to medium low.  Sprinkle in shredded cheese a bit at a time, stirring continuously until melted into sauce. Stir in cumin, salt, pepper, Rotel, chicken, and cooked spaghetti. Toss to coat everything evenly in sauce.

Pour into greased 9 X 13 glass dish.  Bake 30 minutes.

Wednesday:  Dinner with Small Group

Thursday:  Dinner Out
  Chad was leaving on Friday for a hunting trip, so he wanted to take us out to dinner as a treat before he left.  I’ll take it!

Friday:  Breakfast Burritos
  So, Payton got sick…really sick.  That means Friday night (and remember no Chad) was easy-to-make breakfast for dinner.  I just asked the boys what they would eat, and they said breakfast, so that’s what I made. 

Saturday:  Dinner at Mom’s  J

  My mom took pity on me and invited us over for the day and also for dinner.  Payton still wasn’t eating, but she wasn’t quite as sick, so being out of our house and having an adult conversation was a welcome change!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Planning My Menu

Alright...down to the first steps...
Here's how my meal planning begins. I have a regular notebook (not fancy!), and I write out the days and dates. I used to plan 1 week at a time, but now I plan for 2 weeks at a time. We use an all-cash system, but I'll get into the details of that at a different time! smile emoticon
So, I consult my planner and Chad's work and travel schedule to determine what evening activities we have to determine both who and when we will be home for dinner each evening. Then I decide what meals we will have...I've started asking each member of the family for a request of something they would like this month. It's been fun, and they love it when their choice rolls around!
Once I've planned the menu, I make my shopping list, always making sure to consult my pantry, fridge, and freezer so I don't buy something I already have. Also, when I plan meals, I often choose a recipe because I have many ingredients on hand, which ends up saving money and decreases the amount of food we throw away!

You'll notice 2 that looks neat and beautiful and new that makes me look like I have every day together and my life is put together and perfect. Then, you'll notice the paper that looks like I've lost my mind and started free-writing whatever food thought came into my mind. There are scratch-outs, erase marks, and then more scratch-outs.
Why such a difference?
Because the pretty piece of paper is a brand new menu, and the messy one is what happens when life comes along and changes everyone's schedules. smile emoticon (Although if you look closely, you can see a coffee stain on the "pretty" list!) Meal planning means you are prepared and you've thought ahead, but it also means you are able to roll with the punches and move things around a bit. Because you've planned and purchased with forethought, you can still make delicious, mostly healthy meals for your family, even if it wasn't what your "original" meal plan looked like!
Not every week has so many crazy changes, but sometimes, they just do. You'll also notice that it's not as if our family eats all organic, perfect, homemade from scratch meals every night. That is reality for some, and I think it's awesome. But, it's not my reality is that I do the best I can to feed our family well-rounded meals most of the time, so that some of the time we have Chick-fil-a and McDonald's and I'm able to cut myself some slack! My friend Dana calls it the 80/20 rule, and I love that!
Let me know if you have any other fun meal planning tips!! This is simply how I begin!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

October 25-31, 2015

Sunday:  Cook Out with Friends

Monday:  Hawaiian Chicken Tenders with Roasted Butternut Squash and Fresh Broccoli

(sorry for the random sideways pic...)

  This recipe is from Just Add Sprinkles, and we all enjoyed it!  It’s definitely a sweeter chicken tender full of coconut, so if coconut isn’t your thing, you probably wouldn’t like this much.  I’m not a big fan of coconut usually, but I do love coconut shrimp, so I also enjoyed this recipe.  The kids loved this as well.  We all had our own various dipping sauces ranging from honey to BBQ sauce to ketchup to Sriracha.  Just a note…it didn’t take long for the coconut to brown before breading it (one of her first steps), so watch your oven so you don’t burn the coconut!

  I served ours with fresh broccoli and roasted butternut squash.

Tuesday:  Breakfast for Dinner – Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Waffles & Fruit

Wednesday:  Mummy Dogs and Monster Teeth  J

  A Halloween week tradition!!

Thursday:  Chicken & Cheese Taquitos with Apple Slices and Fresh Avocado

Chicken & Cheese Taquitos
  When I planned our menu, I initially had in mind our typical Thursday night schedule with practice for both boys.  So, I planned this with a busy schedule and a grab-n-go meal in mind.  However, we ended up not having either practice, but these taquitos were still an easy, kid-friendly dish.  Here’s what you need:

Chicken (I used rotisserie)
4 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Salsa (optional)

  In a bowl, mix together shredded or diced chicken, cream cheese, shredded cheese, and salsa if you choose.  I made most of ours with just chicken and cheese for the kids, but after I scooped their portions out, I added salsa into the mix for me.  Really, there’s no exact amounts of anything…just eyeball it based on how much you need and what your family likes.  J  I used about 2 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken for our meal, and it made 6 good-sized taquitos.

  Spoon equal amounts of the chicken and cheese mixture onto your tortillas (I had a super cute helper.)

  Then roll them up, tucking the ends in as you roll so nothing escapes. Payton wanted to be the photographer at this point...

  Spread a small amount of butter on both sides of your rolled up taquito and cook on your stovetop on a hot skilled, seam-side down first.  Once the first side turns golden brown, flip and brown the other side.  That’s it!  So easy, and all of the yumminess is tucked neatly inside a tortilla, which means less mess for the kids.  Always a plus in my book when ingredients aren’t falling all over the place!

Friday:  Cheeseburgers and Family Movie Night!

  Chad grilled some yummy burgers for us, but we didn’t have any hamburger buns on hand, nor did I want to get out in the rain and buy some.  So, I found a recipe for Homemade Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns from Whole and Heavenly Oven.   These were simple enough even for me…I don’t make a ton of rolls and other yeast-type recipes.  (They weren't super pretty!)

  Still, I thought they lacked a bit of flavor.  But, we all enjoyed them on our cheeseburgers, and they even made excelled bread for our grilled cheeses the next day! 

  So, I made bread for 2 meals that cost nothing since I already had all the ingredients on hand.  I like that I didn’t have to make a store run, and it was fun to try something new.  I’ll definitely try my hand at whole wheat buns again, just with a different recipe next time.  J

Saturday:  Pizza Night and Trick or Treating!!

Thanks Papa Murphy’s for our adorable pizza!

Happy Halloween!!!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

October 18-24, 2015

Sunday:  Turkey Parmesan Topped with Pesto Tomatoes, Pasta, & Roasted Green Beans

Turkey Parmesan Topped with Pesto Tomatoes
  This meal was one of those meals that starts out as a bit of an experiment and turns out incredible.  Chad had pulled some turkey out of the freezer to thaw (from a hunting trip last winter).  This turkey was the equivalent of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, so chicken or turkey would both be great. 

  Chad decided that a Turkey Parmesan would be good, so while he was playing at a friend’s house with the kids, I started on dinner.  I’ll write out the recipe below.  Nothing is too different from a regular Chicken Parmesan, until it comes to the sauce.  I didn’t realize that I didn’t have any marinara on hand, so, since I already had the turkey breaded and cooking, I needed a new plan.  This is the fun part of cooking at home and staying on a budget…using what you have on hand to make a delicious meal!

  I had some fresh cherry tomatoes and some frozen pesto (store-bought, and a genius invention!)  in the freezer.  (Obviously it was in the freezer…where else would it be frozen.)  So, I threw in one of the frozen pesto cubes and the tomatoes that I had cut in half and warmed it all together.  This was the sauce over our turkey and pasta, and it was amazing!  It was so simple, yet so full of flavor and bright colors.  The kids gobbled up all their turkey, and Chad kept going back to refill his plate.  He kept telling me how good it was!  I can honestly say I haven’t “wowed” him in a while with a dinner...not that I’ve made bad food, just not something new and wow-worthy.  J

Here are the steps:
  Soak your pieces (small tenderloin size works well and cooks quickly and evenly) of chicken or turkey breast in milk and 1 egg in a plastic bag.  While it soaks, make a breading of panko crumbs, freshly shredded Parmesan, garlic salt, pepper, and paprika.  Remove the poultry from the milk and egg and dredge each piece in the breading until it’s evenly coated on all sides.
  Put the pieces in a hot skillet that has some oil already heated over medium heat.  I used avocado oil because of its high cooking temperature.  Don’t have your burner too hot, or you’ll blacken your poultry without it being cooked through to the center. 

  Once it’s browned on one side, turn the pieces over to brown the other side.  Once both sides are browned and the pieces are cooked through, put them on a plate and cover with foil to keep them warm.  Turn your burner down to medium-low.  Using the same skillet, put in your sliced tomatoes and your pesto (frozen or fresh is fine) and stir them together until everything is warmed through. 

  At some point, you should also boil some pasta…any kind is fine!  I used spirals.
  All that’s left is plating the food and making it pretty!  Lay down pasta, then the breaded turkey or chicken, and then add the pesto tomatoes over the top.  Add a salad or green veggie to the side, and dinner is ready!  This whole meal took me 20 minutes to make!

Monday:  Pizza at a Birthday Party

Tuesday:  Baked Honey Mustard Chicken with Brown Rice & Salad

I planned to make a different chicken dish, but my chicken wasn’t thawed enough for that recipe.  I also had to go pick up the kids from a friend’s house, so I went to the ever-trusty Pinterest (where I literally typed in “frozen chicken recipes”) to look for a different recipe.  Enter this easy recipe that can be made with frozen chicken breasts and ingredients you likely already have on hand!  Thanks to The Proverbial Homemaker for this dinner-saver!  I didn’t have any curry on hand for her Curry Honey Mustard recipe, but I had everything else, so I chose that sauce for the chicken before I put it in the oven.  I think I should have added some type of spice or salty flavor to it, but we just added season salt (Chad added sriracha to his) as we ate it.

  I also used my rice cooker to make some brown rice.  The rice cooker is nice because in about 45 minutes with almost no work on my part, we have a nice side for a chicken or fish dinner.  I started both the chicken and the rice before leaving the house to pick up the kids, and when we arrived home, everything was ready to eat!  I added a spinach salad, and dinner was good to go!  Ranger and Chad had to leave for baseball practice, l it made me happy to know that I sent them off with a good, healthy dinner in their bellies.  J

  One of the things I’m working on is keeping to our grocery budget but also keeping a usable pantry and freezer stock.  Having staples on hand makes it easier to make dinner on with unexpected circumstances without defaulting to running through a drive thru or eating out.

Wednesday:  Dinner with Small Group

Thursday:  Dinner at Mom’s

Friday:  Sweet Chili Lime Chicken with Cilantro Lime Orzo & Roasted Broccoli

  I haven’t made this in a while, but it’s one of our favorites.  I love the flavors, but I also love how easy it is to throw together.  Her original recipe calls for cous cous, but I had orzo, so that’s what I used.  I've also made this recipe with quinoa, and that's great too!  I also squeezed a little fresh lime juice in the orzo along with the cilantro.  I don’t add much of the red pepper since my kids don’t love the spice.  It’s easy to spice up on your own once it’s plated.

Saturday:  Pinto Beans, Cornbread, & Spinach Salad

My plate:

Kid plate:

  Fall weather means beans and cornbread!  I used a mix for my corn bread and baked it in our cast iron corn sticks pan that the kids love.  Pioneer Woman’s recipe for pinto beans is nice because you don’t have to remember to soak your beans overnight.  J  They also make easy leftovers for quesadillas, a side dish, homemade refried beans, or added to salads.  I actually took our leftovers to our friends’ home the next night to add to the meal they were making for us.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

October 11-17, 2015

Sunday: Grilled Honey Lemon Garlic Chicken with Macaroni & Cheese & Sautéed Zucchini

  We really love this chicken!  It is so flavorful and tender…the kids just gobble it right up every time!  I love it because it is a simple marinade.  If I find a good deal on chicken, I’ll buy several packages and marinate several bags for the freezer all at the same time.  Then, it’s as easy and pulling it out of the freezer, thawing the chicken, and it’s ready for the grill!

Monday:  Honey Lemon Garlic Chicken & Cheese Quesadillas

  Another bonus to this chicken…it makes amazing leftovers!  Use the chicken in quesadillas like I did, or for a pasta dish or on salads.  It’s great it so many ways!  I’m totally obsessed right now with these tortillas I found at Costco.  I’ve seen them at Walmart too.

They are made with simple ingredients, and I can make as many as I need at a time.  When I’m not in the mood or don’t have the time to make homemade, whole wheat tortillas, these are perfect!

Tuesday:  Chicken Fried Venison with Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Broccoli
  Chad’s night to cook!  I do love that he loves to hunt…it stocks our freezer with meat and gives me an excuse to let him cook for the evening.  J  All I did was roast the veggies inside, and Chad took care of the rest.

Wednesday:  Dinner with Small Group

Thursday:  Chick-Fil-A
  Baseball practice for Ranger at 4:30, a friend’s baseball game at 6:00, and soccer practice for Callen at 6:00…Chick-fil-a to the rescue!

Friday:  Macaroni & Beef with Cheese with Roasted Carrots & Zucchini

  I haven’t made this tasty dish from in a while, but it’s always a hit with all 5 of us.  It takes a little bit of time because you let the noodles absorb the sauce, but there’s nothing difficult about it.  I only used a little over 1 lb ground beef, but I still used a full box of whole wheat macaroni.  I poured a good amount into a 7x10 dish for our dinner and froze another portion in an 8x8 dish for a meal another night.  This meal really goes a long way!  Just adjust the amount of sauce, meat, and noodles to your family’s taste.

We had family movie night, but I knew the kids would be having pizza on Saturday.  This cheese pasta dish is a good, homemade substitute for an easy pizza night.

Saturday:  Date Night!  (Pizza Night for the Kids)  J

  For the past several years, instead of Christmas gifts for Chad’s sister Amber and her husband Wade, the 4 of us go out to dinner together.  We definitely don’t need anything, and having an excuse to spend time together is a better gift than something we could buy at the store.  And bonus…our niece and nephew are the babysitters!  Everyone is happy!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

October 4-10, 2015

Sunday:  Roasted Chicken & Veggie Tortellini

Roasted Chicken & Veggie Tortellini

  This is a super simple and flavorful meal that can be put together in under 20 minutes.  I almost always have shredded rotisserie chicken in the freezer, so before we left for church that morning, I pulled a bag out so it could thaw in the fridge for a few hours.  When we arrived back home, I diced up zucchini and sautéed it in a little olive oil with a little salt and pepper along with some cauliflower.  I also boiled pasta.  After the veggies had time to cook and brown a little, I tossed the chicken in the same pan to warm it all the way through. 

  After draining the pasta, I tossed it in with the chicken and veggies and added in some prepared pesto.  That’s it!  Your meal is completely ready and has everything you need all in one bowl.  Another bonus…there’s only 2 pans to clean! 

Monday:  Crockpot Salsa Verde Honey Lime Chicken Tacos with Avocado & Rice

  This is a really long name for a very easy crockpot meal.   The creator from A Latte Food basically named it for all of the ingredients she used.  J  All I did was toss the ingredients together in the crockpot and leave it alone!  I shredded the chicken about an hour or so before we ate and then had the chicken in the crockpot on the “warm” setting until we were ready to eat.  We ate ours with fresh avocado, fresh bell peppers, shredded cheese, and rice.  This chicken made wonderful leftovers for lunch the next day.

Tuesday:  Chicken Tenders, Broccoli, & Fruit
  I had a girls night dinner, so I prepared an easy dinner for Chad and the kids.

Wednesday:  Parmesan Broiled Tilapia with Spinach Salad & Brown Rice

  I had planned tilapia for this evening, but the one I meant for us to eat actually required the fish to be marinated for several hours before preparing.  Oops!  I completely forgot and didn’t even have our tilapia thawed until it was time to actually make dinner.  So, I quickly went to my Pinterest boards and found this recipe instead.  It was fast, easy, and had really great flavor!  The website, Spend with Pennies, has come in handy for me on more than one occasion!

Thursday:  Pizza

Friday:  Dinner at Mom’s  J

Saturday:  Cheeseburgers with Fresh Veggies & Fruit

  This was night 3 of Chad being out of town for work, so I attempted cheeseburgers inside since I don’t even know how to turn on our grill…ha!  Making burgers on a skillet inside works well too, and I didn’t hear any complaints from the kids.  Still, I prefer them cooked on the grill.