Any other meal planning fanatics out there? I like the meal planning process so much that I planned 7 weeks of meals in one afternoon. Believe it or not, I actually enjoy searching out new recipes, coordinating dinners with our crazy schedule, grocery shopping and of course - preparing meals for my family.
There are times though, when I just don't have the time to sit down and do my meal planning and unfortunately, I'm not very good at "winging it". We definitely eat healthier and spend way less on groceries when I start with a solid meal plan for the week. Anyone else go to the grocery with the intent of getting dinner ingredients and end up with 100.00 worth of food - none of which you can actually use for said dinner???
When I do my meal planning, I intentionally cook a couple of meals at one time. As much as I enjoy cooking, I don't always have the time. I know that a lot of you have the same issues. We all occasionally run out of time, energy and inspiration to make dinner. THAT is exactly why I have to have healthy dinners on hand each week that I can have on the table in less than 15 minutes.
My family isn't crazy about leftovers lately so I've had to get creative with my "on-hand" dinners. Sautéing a couple of extra chicken breasts along side the chicken for this delicious Chicken Stroganoff was the perfect way to stock up on extra healthy foods. My plan was to use the extra chicken in a tortellini soup later in the week.
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 Tablespoon flour
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms
1 clove minced garlic
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 ounces uncooked wide egg noodles
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley
Add noodles and cook 8 minutes.
Remove from heat. Stir in chicken.
Garnish with parsley.
This chicken stroganoff was very well received by my family. Not everyone loved the mushrooms (ummm Courtney) but I'm good with that - more for me. This was a delicious meal AND as an added bonus, I've got a couple of extra chicken breasts to use later this week.
There's something to be said for being able to throw all of your dinner ingredients into one pan and NOT ending up with a casserole. Introducing my newest stir fry recipe!! You are going to LOVE this one pan recipe that comes together in under 30 minutes. It's delicious, it's nutritious, it's easy to put together AND it's easy to clean up. And as if all that wasn't enough - it's a bright and colorful meal that will look great on any table.
Ramen Noodle Stir Fry
for the sauce:
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
for the ramen noodle stir fry:
9 ounces ramen noodles, about 3 packs (discard the flavor packet)
1 tablespoon peanut oil (or other high-heat oil)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets and sliced julienne
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced julienne
1 egg, lightly scrambled
2 scallions, sliced
1 heaping tablespoon minced cilantro
Heat the oil in a large skillet until shimmering. Add the garlic, ginger, mushrooms, broccoli, and peppers, and saute for about a minute.
Drizzle sauce over noodles.
Garnish with cilantro and scallions.
We all loved this dinner. The ramen noodles were a big hit with Courtney, Ben liked the "not so Chinese tasting" sauce and I of course devoured the vegetables. It was a win-win-win for my crew. Next time I will double this recipe so that we can have leftovers. I hope that you love this recipe as much as we did.
Happy Vernal Equinox!
It's the first day of Spring and after waking up to 20 degree temperatures last week, I'm ready to see the sun and have some warm Spring-like weather.
So what do I do to celebrate the first day of Spring? My plans for today include moving my plants back outside (optimistic, I know), staining our new deck and stairs, baking cupcakes (of course), decorating Spring flower sugar cookies and firing up the Big Green Egg to grill something yummy for dinner tonight.
Now that I see my to-do list written down - I'm feeling a little overwhelmed so I guess I better get started. Just in case you choose to celebrate the first day of Spring a little more leisurely :) - I recommend baking a batch of these cherry rum biscotti and relaxing in the sun with a cup of tea a crunchy snack this afternoon.
Cherry Rum Biscotti
1 and 1/4 cups dried tart red cherries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup spiced rum
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups whole almonds
Gently mix in drained cherries (reserving liquid) and almonds.
Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a 3 inch wide loaf and place on silpat lined baking sheet.
Bake 20-25 minutes at 350.
Slice into 1/2 inch diagonal bars. Place back on baking sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 300. Bake 10 minutes longer on each side.
Enjoy. If you like, you can combine the reserved cherry liquid and a little bit of powdered sugar to make a sweet glaze to drizzle over your biscotti. I decided not to glaze mine because I was storing them for a little while before I serve them but I am definitely going to make another batch that I can glaze.
So how are you celebrating the arrival of Spring? Are you spending time outside or protecting yourself from the pollen and allergens that inevitably accompany this beautiful time of year?
Have a great week. Ciao!
My job as a baker can be stressful and chaotic but despite the crazy schedule and ridiculous number of trips that I make to the grocery store every week, I still love what I do. I really can't imagine myself doing anything else.
On the rare day that I don't have any baking to do for anyone else, I find myself in the kitchen, creating new cupcake recipes for myself. (I think may have a cupcake addiction.)
I came up with this new Caramel Apple Cupcake recipe last month - I recognize that February is not the traditional caramel apple month but just roll with it. You will love this yummy apple filled cupcakes with creamy caramel buttercream and caramel drizzle.
Caramel Apple Cupcakes
½ cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon cloves
¾ cup milk
2 cups chopped tart apples
Bake 22 minutes at 350. Cool on wire racks.
Frost with caramel buttercream.
I love experimenting with new cupcake recipes. I want try this recipe again with a caramel center or a caramel ribbon swirled into the batter. I guess I have some more cupcake experimentation days to look forward to.
Anyone else out there struggle with hostess gifts? It's hard to believe that a girl with over 1600 recipes in her repertoire could ever be at a loss for a food gift, but it's true. Sometimes, I really struggle with coming up with just the right thing to make for other people. Sometimes it's because I don't know the recipients very well, sometimes it's because the recipients have specific dietary needs that limit what I can offer them and sometimes it's just because of time and distance constraints.
I wanted to put together a hostess gift recently for some friends that we were going to visit at the end of a long trip. Since we would't be seeing them until for several days after leaving home, I ruled out anything baked or anything large that required refrigeration.
My go-to hostess gifts are a bag of cookies tied with pretty ribbon or a loaf of freshly baked bread. Neither of those were going to work since they're best consumed within 24 of baking. I considered making cupcakes or a cake but both would require refrigeration so they were out too.
What I came up with were these pretty jars of whipped, flavored butters. I stored the butters in these three little 4 ounce mason jars. When we were ready to leave for our trip, the jars got packed into a tiny little cooler with an ice pack and they stayed nice and cool all day. I swapped out the ice at night in the hotel and they travelled really well.
I picked up a cute bread basket, a package of pretty napkins and a couple of little bread plates before I left on our trip. I knew that I could get up a couple of loaves of crusty bread on the trip to complete my little flavored, whipped butter hostess gift basket. (Thank you Panera.) I loved the way that this gift turned out and even more importantly, our friends loved it even more.
To make this butter, whip 3 sticks butter with whisk in standing mixer or with hand mixer.
Divide butter between 3 separate bowls.
Add 2 Tablespoons jellied cranberry sauce and 1 Tablespoon honey to 1 bowl. Stir to combine.
Stir 2 1/2 Tablespoons honey and 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon into a second bowl.
Add 2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon parsley, 1 minced clove garlic and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to the last bowl. Stir to combine.
Now you have 3 bowls of delicious flavored butters.
Spoon butters into 4 ounce glass jars.
Write or print labels for each jar.
Place in a basket with some crusty bread, some pretty napkins and a couple of cute bread plates.
Confession time - I doubled the butter recipe and made a batch of each of these flavors for us too. My family could NOT get enough of the honey cinnamon and the sweet cranberry butter. They seriously devoured it like it was peanut butter. The garlic parmesan butter was not a big hit on the fresh bread but it is KILLER on a steak. A spoonful of this flavorful butter on top of a sirloin just gives it an extra special touch.
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