The Sweetest Thing.

" I feel there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people" ~Van Gogh

Weekly Meal Plan 3/30/15. March 30, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 5:21 pm

The plan went awry last week. We were both even busier than normal and after Tuesday, things just kind of went downhill. We only ordered food once and managed on leftovers and sandwiches the only nights. Nachos finally happened late Sunday evening. I always like having a plan, but sometimes real life gets the best of things and I have (reluctantly) made peace with that. This week is Spring Break so I am not working much (at least not at things outside the house) and I am happy to be home to cook fresh, healthy meals each night. Things have worked out perfectly and my partner ended up with 4 nights off this week too! It has been so long since we have had dinners together, at home, at a decent hour. We always end up working opposite evenings and she usually even works weekends. I am so excited to enjoy our meals together at the table with some relaxed conversation and a glass of wine.

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Monday~ Spaghetti with Veggie Loaded Meat Sauce

Tuesday~ Lemon Almond Tilapia, Coconut Rice, Asparagus

Wednesday~ Pork Chops (of some sort), Baked Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Green Beans

Thursday~ Leftovers

Friday~ Homemade Pizza (with gluten free crust), Simple Salads w/homemade dressing

Saturday~ Salmon Patties, Salad, Homemade Oven Fries

Sunday~ Easter Dinner at my Mama’s

I plan to grocery shop this weekend but I did do a little grocery trip to stock up on produce since we still had leftover money in the budget. No photos but we bought~ spring mix, red & yellow pepper, red onion, banana, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, bananas, cheddar & mozzarella cheese, milk, half & half and ice cream.

 

Ricotta & Herb Stuffed Meatballs. March 24, 2015

Filed under: Dinner — Jessica @ 8:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

This is one of those recipes I have been thinking about for a long time but never quite got around to making. Last weekend, when cleaning out the refrigerator on garbage night I noticed I had some fresh herbs and a tub of ricotta both nearing their expiration and decided it was time. The recipe takes a little while because you need to let the filling freeze for an hour or so but actual hands on time is minimal and totally worth it. I served these over “zoodles” (zucchini noodles) with sauce and fresh Parmesan and it was one of the best meals we have had in awhile. I made them on my prep cooking day and just added them to some sauce to reheat the night they were on the meal plan. I think they would freeze quite beautifully too.

DSC02264Ricotta & Herb Stuffed Meatballs

makes 16

Ingredients~

Filling-

8 oz ricotta cheese

1 tsp each fresh thyme, basil, parsley and oregano (if using dried decrease to 1/2 tsp)

3 cloves garlic- minced

Meat Mixture-

1 lb lean ground beef (I used 93% lean)

1/2 c Panko (gluten free for me)

Salt & Pepper

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1. Combine filling ingredients and drop by rounded 1/2 tsp onto foil lined plate. Make 16 “drops”. There will be extra filling. It works great as a cracker spread or a grilled sandwich with some fresh spinach and tomato.

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2. Place in freezer for 1 hr or until frozen.

3. Once ricotta is frozen, Preheat oven to 375°. Combine meat mixture ingredients and combine thoroughly.

4. Take 1 oz of meat and flatten it in hand like a mini burger.

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5. Place frozen ricotta ball in center and fold the meat around the ricotta. Roll between hands to smooth out.

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6. Place on foil lined baking sheet.

7. Repeat 15 times

8. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes.

9. Remove from oven and cool  at least 10 minutes. Serve with sauce over pasta, zoodles or as a meatball sub! (or any other way you would like)

10. Enjoy!

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Weekly Meal Plan 3/23/15. March 23, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 11:36 am

Happy Monday everyone! (I am constantly fighting the urge to use “y’all”) It is a beautiful day here in Western New York. Cold, but above freezing and super sunny! I am off today after a busy weekend and a busy week to follow. I have a lot to get done- housework, errands, prep cooking, blog posts for the week, paperwork etc.  Motivation is so much easier in the sunshine!

I had a really great weekend. I went to our local Garden Fair and attended some free workshops, grabbed a glass of wine with a friend at one of my new favorite places and went out for dinner at the new Cuban place on Saturday. Sunday, we had another family birthday to celebrate (3 Sundays in a row). My niece turned 4 and we all got together at my mom’s house for a late lunch, cake, ice cream and presents. Unfortunately, I have no pictures to share of any of these adventures. I can take pictures of food, books and cups of coffee all day but I am terrible at remembering to do so when I am out having fun. I get caught up in the actual living of the experience instead of documenting it…. Not really a bad thing at all, but from a blogging standpoint, I am going to work on it.

We did pretty good at sticking with the plan last week. As I said above, I ended up going out to dinner with friends on Saturday but everything else stayed the same. The nachos we didn’t get to last week will make an appearance this week.

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Monday~ Meatloaf, Garlic Smashed Potatoes, Green Beans

Tuesday~ Baked Chicken, Rice & Beans, Broccoli

Wednesday~ Loaded Nachos

Thursday~ Leftovers

Friday~ Parmesan Crusted Tilapia, Jasmine Rice, Asparagus

Saturday~ Pork Chops (not sure what I am going to do with them yet), Baked Sweet Potatoes, Kale

Sunday~ Roast Whole Chicken w/ Carrots & Potatoes

We are getting in some hearty home style meals before summer comes and we no longer want to use the oven!

Hope you all (y’all) have a great week!

 

Pulled Pork & Black Bean Tacos. March 20, 2015

Filed under: Dinner,pork — Jessica @ 8:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

I easily have over 100 cookbooks but my darling partner insists on using just one. It is a Men’s Health Nutrition Guide that happens to have some recipes in it. Most of the recipes we have tried from it have been quite good but it still seems ridiculous that it is the only cookbook she’ll even look at.  This is inspired by one of the recipes in there, although pretty much entirely different besides the pulled pork part. I don’t think I would have ever thought to use pulled pork in tacos on my own though. I am glad I did! The pork cooks up with little crispy bits and the combination of textures and flavors is pretty much perfect. I did not get a picture of the actual taco because I tried cramming too many toppings in and ended up with more of taco pile but I am sure you can imagine it. If pork is not your thing, I have a turkey and black bean taco recipe or a shrimp taco recipe you might be interested in.

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Pulled Pork & Black Bean Tacos

2 Tbls Olive Oil

2 cups pulled pork

1.5 cups (or 1 can) Black Beans

2 Limes (1 for juicing & 1 cut into wedges)

1 Tbls Cumin

1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika

Salt & Pepper

Taco Shells

Topping of Choice- cheese, lettuce, tomato, salsa, avacado, red onion, salsa, greek yogurt/sour cream, black olives, banana peppers etc

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1. Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add pulled pork and spread out over bottom of pan. Cook 4-5 minutes before stirring. You want it to get a little crispy. Add Cumin, Paprika, Salt, Pepper and Black Beans & juice of one lime and stir together. Cook 7-8 minutes until warm.

2. While Pork is cooking prepare shells as directed on box and cup up veggies for topping.

3. Fill taco shells with pork and squeeze a lime wedge over each. Add toppings as desired.

4. Enjoy!

 

March Grocery Shopping Part 2- Wegmans & Big Lots. March 19, 2015

Part 1 of the March grocery haul is here.

We have been to Wegmans a couple of times this month. Once on purpose and once to pick up eggs. Of course, we bought much more than eggs! This was a great example of why I try to limit my monthly trips to the grocery store. I will buy more than I plan 100% of the time. We are still under budget so I am okay with it. We also made a trip to Big Lots to pick up some totes for our basement organization project. I love checking out their grocery aisles while there. They always have at least a couple of great products at great prices. Gourmet condiments, organic snacks, gluten free goodies…. It is definitely always worth checking out if you are there.

On to the groceries~

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Meat~

~ Chicken Thighs

~ Chicken Drumsticks

~  Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

~ Hamburger

* I used to only buy boneless skinless chicken breasts but have shifted away from using it exclusively since deciding to eat more organic meat years ago. Organic chicken thighs and drumsticks are really quite cheap and worth the extra dollar or two. Organic boneless skinless breast is about $5 more a pound and I just can’t afford that. So I buy the non organic and we eat less of it. Someday I hope to buy all organic meat, but this works for now.
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Produce~

~Zucchini

~Spinach

~ Kale

~Cabbage

~Mushrooms

~Spring Mix

~Ginger

~Sage, Thyme, Rosemary

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Pantry Items/Misc~

~Wild Rice

~Sun dried tomatoes

~Peanut Butter Granola (this stuff is so good)

~ Green, Earl Grey and Chai Tea

~ Cheddar Cheese

~Coconut Oil

~ Cottage Cheese

~ Green Chilis

~Tri Color Rotini

~ Pasta Sauce

~ Coffee

~ Gluten Free Panko

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This was the trip for eggs~

~Peppers

~Pineapple Soda and Ginger Ale (for Tiff)

~ Soybean paste & Flavored Soybean paste for the Kale Pancakes

~ A giant box of Crunchmaster Crackers (my favorite)

~ 2 boxes of Clif Bars (these were only $9.99 a box)

~ Eggs

~ Bananas

~Coconut Milk

~ Sorbet & Ice Cream

~ Seltzer/Sparkling Water
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Big Lots Goodies~

~Popcorn- Sweet & Spicy and Caramel and Cheddar. I would never have bought Caramel and Cheddar popcorn if I had not tried it from a place in Chicago. It is really good

~ Arborio Rice ($1)

~ Lindt Dark Chocolate Chili bar ($1)

~ Glutino wafer cookies ($1 a bag)

I do not foresee any other major grocery trip this month. We will need milk, eggs and some bananas but that is about it. Do you have any “secret places” for great grocery deals?

 

Crock Pot Pulled Pork. March 18, 2015

Filed under: Crock Pot,Dinner — Jessica @ 8:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

Life has been really really busy lately. We are both working 12+ hr days 4 or 5 days a week and trying to get ourselves and our home ready for Spring, see our friends and family and spend time together when we have a bit of free time. All of that and the normal business of living~ cleaning, cooking, errands etc. Needless to say, crock pot recipes have been a lifesaver. I don’t always love food from the crock pot but I have found/created a few recipes that are tried and true for us. Pulled Pork is one of them. I buy a large 5-6 lb pork shoulder roast from Wegmans and cut it in half and throw it in the basement freezer for when I need a crock pot recipe. The half roast makes enough for about 4 meals for us. I often make the roast and we eat it as BBQ pulled pork sandwiches with homemade cole slaw the first night and pulled pork and black bean tacos later in the week. I am sharing my basic pulled pork recipe today and I will share the taco recipe later this week or next. I usually just add bottled BBQ sauce to the shredded pulled pork for sandwiches so no real reason for a recipe there

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Crock Pot Pulled Pork

2-3 lb pork roast

2 bay leaves

1 Tbls cumin

6 cloves garlic- peeled

1 large onion- thinly sliced

salt & pepper

1/2 cup broth or water

Directions

1. Trim fat from pork roast ( I leave a little, but cut off the big chunks)

2. Cover roast with cumin, salt & pepper

3. Place bay leaves, sliced onion, garlic cloves and broth in crock pot. Add pork on top of other ingredients.

4. Cook on low 8-10 hrs. Pork should just pull apart with fork.

5. Remove bay leaves.

6. Shred Pork with forks right in crock pot and mix onions, broth and garlic cloves into shredded pork. The garlic cloves will just “melt” right in.

7. Serve as desired.

8. Enjoy!

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Weekly Meal Plan 3/16/15. March 17, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 11:37 am

I tried posting this yesterday but WordPress was being cranky. Glad to see things are back to normal.

Anyways, I am happy to say that we are doing great with our “eat at home” challenge for March. We have had breakfast out twice while running our errands on the weekend but we are doing great besides that! We haven’t ordered food in once! I have been very meticulous and dedicated to meal planning and prep work so we have no excuses. I will tell you a little about the prep work I did for this week after the menu plan.

I have been trying to add some new meals into our meal plan to keep things exciting and hopefully help us stick to the eat at home plan. It’s working so far!

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Monday~ Kale Pancakes, Salmon with this marinade and Jasmine Rice

Tuesday~ Crock Pot Corned Beef with cabbage, carrots and red potatoes

Wednesday~ Ricotta & Herb Stuffed Meatballs with sauce over Zucchini noodles

Thursday~ Bacon Wrapped Rosemary Chicken Thighs, Baked Sweet Potato, Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Friday~ Leftovers

Saturday~ Loaded Nachos (Vegetarian)

Sunday~ Dinner at my Mama’s

* Those Kale Pancakes are seriously one of the best things I have ever had. Try them!!!!

I spent about 5 hrs in the kichen Sunday afternoon, but pretty much all of the cooking for the week is done. Here is what I did~

~ made a batch of oatmeal. We will add fruit, nuts, nut butters etc when we reheat and eat

~ cut up veggies for snacks- cucumber, celery, carrots and green peppers

~ made hummus

~ made some hard boiled eggs

~ Made marinade for salmon

~ Chopped up veggies for the corned beef and put everything in the crockpot

~ made ricotta stuffed meatballs

~ spread frozen chicken thighs with salt, pepper, minced garlic and chopped fresh rosemary, wrapped in bacon and stuck back in freezer

~ trimmed and halved brussels sprouts

~ soaked, cooked, packaged and froze black beans

~ cut up lemon and lime wedges for seltzer water

~ cut up cantaloupe

~shredded cheese for nachos

It feels great to start off the week knowing that getting a good meal on the menu will not be a problem during the week. What do you do to get the week off to a good start?

 

 
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