What’s on the Menu? 9/12-9/18

Menu planning. Most of the time I hate it. HATE. I hadn’t had a lot of time to cook, so I kept filling up my meal plans with easy, semi-homemade stuff. It was depressing me.

Then I decided, for the sake of my sanity, to make time. Until my next round of finals. ūüôā

Monday 9/12-          Leftovers from Sunday 9/11 (Chicken and Dumplings!)

Tuesday 9/13           Pressed Caprese Sandwiches and salad

Wednesday 9/14 ¬† ¬† “Leftover” caprese sandwiches w/ baked potatoes (We’ll actually make the sandwiches fresh, we’ll just have enough ingredients to have them two days in a row.)

Thursday 9/15         Blue Cheese Pasta and garlic bread

Friday  9/16              Leftovers

Saturday 9/17 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Chad’s family reunion (I’m making (caramel apple? pumpkin spice?) cupcakes, he’s making chili)

Sunday   9/18          Stromboli 


My main goal when I make a meal plan is to make stuff that I know will result in leftovers. Either we have them for lunch the next day, or we have them the next evening, so really I’m only cooking three or four days of the week. Plus, on some nights, I con Chad into cooking and just give him the recipe. And that is why I married someone who can cook. (I kid, I kid–he’s kind of awesome in other ways as well.)

How do you do your meal planning?


Easy Chicken Tostadas

I’m not even sure it’s accurate to call this a recipe. First, I used some leftover chicken, so that part was already done. Just a simple, grilled chicken breast, diced. And this dish is very similar to my black bean nachos in that you bake the corn tortillas, use the same black bean mixture, and just pile the ingredients on top. Regardless, it was a super easy and quick meal, which I am all about these days.

Easy Chicken Tostadas


Four corn tortillas
7 oz of black beans, drained, but reserve a little of the liquid
seasoning for beans (I eye-ball it and use chili powder, ground red pepper, garlic, and cumin)
2 cooked chicken breasts, diced
sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake tortillas 10-12 minutes, or  until they are golden and crisp. Set tortillas aside and leave oven on.

2. In a food processor or blender, puree beans with reserved liquid. Add in spices and seasonings and pulse until thoroughly incorporated.

3. Spread bean mixture on tortillas. Top with diced chicken and cheese. Place in the oven just until chicken is hot and cheese is melted.

4. Top with salsa, sour cream, avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, whatever! Enjoy!

Super easy and super good. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

Deep Dish Pizza

Well, tomorrow is my birthday. This has absolutely nothing to do with this entry, I’m just kind of excited. I’ve always liked birthdays. I like that I have an excuse to lay around all day and only do what I want to do. ūüôā In this case, what I want to do is go out for some fun drinks and appetizers, spend some time in the pool (if it doesn’t storm), and be lazy. Sounds like good times to me. ūüôā

But, for tonight, all I want to do is blog about this pizza I made a month or so ago. I finally found a pizza dough recipe that I love. We’ve tried a couple different ones, most seemed dry or under seasoned. This one is neither of those things. And it’s pretty easy to make.

The recipe is for a “thick crust” dough, but I just used my little springform cheesecake pan (I think it’s an 8 inch) and pressed the dough up the sides to make a deep dish. We topped it with red and green bell peppers and pepperoni. Delicious.

Use your springform pan for a deep dish, or use a regular pizza pan for a thick crust.

Deep Dish (or Thick Crust) Pizza Dough


2 pkgs dry, active yeast
4 cups flour
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp salt
1 additional cup warm water
Italian seasoning to taste

1) In large bowl, combine yeast, 1/2 cup flour, and 1/2 cup warm water and mix well.
2) Cover and place in warm place Let rise for 30 minutes.
3) Place the remaining flour in a bowl and add Italian seasoning–as much as you’d like. I use about three tablespoons, plus some additional garlic powder.
4) Stir down batter. Add 2 cups flour, salt, and 1 cup warm water and beat well. Gradually add enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough.
5) Turn down onto a lightly floured board and knead for 10 minutes. (I used my Kitchen Aid stand mixer with the dough hook attachment–super easy.)
6) Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise until double, about 1 hour.

7)Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll dough out and place on whatever pizza pan you’re using. Let dough rise in this position for about 30 minutes.

8) Top with whatever you want and bake 20-30 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Additionally, the last time we made this I made a garlic/butter/Parmesan glaze for the crust. Just melt some butter in the microwave, add some fresh, chopped garlic, and once the glaze is brushed on, sprinkle crust with Parmesan cheese.  Yum!


Recipe adapted from: About.com

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

I love potatoes, in pretty much any form. French fries, baked potatoes, and now–roasted potatoes. It’s really becoming a problem.

The great thing about this specific recipe (which was a huge hit in my house) is how adaptable it is. Don’t like Rosemary? Sub in whatever spices/seasonings you want. I think next time we’ll try oregano. ūüôā

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher flake salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 pounds red potatoes, cut into chunks. Ideally you would quarter them, but my potatoes were giant, I had to cut them more.

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) In a large bowl, toss potatoes, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Spread potatoes on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Make sure potatoes are spread out in a single layer.

3) Roast potatoes until they are brown and crisp, about an hour. Flip potatoes every 20 minutes until they’re done to ensure they brown evenly.

DH loved, loved, loved this recipe. I loved that it was super easy and pretty tasty. I served it with some grilled chicken (recipe to come later) and a simple salad, and it was a perfect weeknight dinner!

Recipe from Ina Garten.

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes

Yes friends, you read the title correctly: lemon blueberry cupcakes. Now, maybe I am the only person who wasn’t already on board the “lemon and blueberry are awesome together” train. That is entirely possible, especially since I don’t particularly love lemon OR blueberry on their own, but when I saw this recipe I really wanted to try it. Then I mentioned it to my grandma and it was decided that I would bake these for the next family get together, which happened to be to celebrate my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary.

I won’t pretend to know what it’s like to be married to someone for 50 years. I’ve only been married a little over two years, so what do I know? Well, I know that my grandparents are amazing people, and I am incredibly lucky that I have them in my life.

I also know these cupcakes were delicious. ūüôā

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes


For the Cake

One box yellow cake mix
4 eggs
The amount of oil called for on the cake box
Buttermilk (to sub in for water)
Container of blueberries (The amount of blueberries you need will depend on how many you want to put in the batter and whether or not you plan on using them on top of the cupcakes as decoration as well)

For the Icing
1/4 cup (2 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Blueberries to garnish

1) Mix the cake as directed on the box EXCEPT: sub in buttermilk for the amount of water, and add an extra egg. The box should call for three eggs, that means you need four.

2) Add as many blueberries as you like to the batter, and stir to mix in.

3) Pour the batter into cupcake liners and bake as directed.

4) Once the cupcakes have baked, set them aside to cool.

5) Now the icing: Place cream cheese, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, vanilla, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a bowl (I used my stand mixer) Beat at a medium speed just until blended.

6) Gradually add powdered sugar, mixing until incorporated.

7) Stir in juice and mix well.

8) Frost cupcakes and garnish with extra blueberries. Store cupcakes in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Adapted from THIS recipe.

You can, of course, make the cake from scratch, but honestly, subbing in buttermilk in a box cake is so much easier and faster, and I have gotten tons of compliments when I’ve done this. People almost always think the cake is homemade.

I really did try to make the icing as directed in the original recipe, but for some reason it would NOT set up. I ended up picking up some store bought lemon icing (I know, I know) and that saved the day.

In all honesty, this is one of my new favorite desserts. It’s light and summery. The lemon isn’t overpowering and the blueberry is a perfect compliment. Plus the cupcakes are gorgeous! Want more proof?

You should definitely make these for your next summer cookout! I promise they will be a hit!

Easy Meatball Subs (and a small life update)

Holy cow. It’s been almost a month (over a month?) Since I posted. Ridiculous, I know, but–I GOT ¬†A JOB! Anyone who knows me will remember that I had been unemployed since October. Well, not anymore! I am back in the workforce! Working hard, making money…relinquishing all of my free time to my new place of employment. So…basically I will update this when I can, but I make no promises on how frequently that will be. Hang in there with me. ūüôā

Now, a recipe that is not really a recipe. After the BBQ pizza I posted, I had some BBQ sauce leftover. I thought, ‘What could be easier than throwing that in a crockpot with some turkey meatballs? Nothing!”. And I was right.

BBQ Turkey Meatball Subs


1 bag frozen turkey meatballs
14 oz BBQ sauce (whatever kind is your favorite)
Hoagie rolls
shredded cheddar cheese

1) Put meatballs and BBQ sauce in the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

2) Put meatballs on Hoagie rolls and sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

3) Eat.

I know, I know, I should be ashamed of putting this “recipe” on my blog. Whatever, I have no shame. It was delicious, I don’t care if it’s not real cooking. If you have the time and energy, by all means, make the meatballs/sauce from scratch. I might try that some weekend.

I just served these sandwiches with a simple salad and some fruit for dessert.

Hawaiian Barbecue Pizza

The idea for this super easy pizza recipe actually came from Freschetta. They have a new line of pizzas called “Simply Inspired”, and trust me, they are amazing. The one that really surprised me was the Hawaiian style pizza. It had a simple, tangy BBQ sauce, pineapple, Canadian bacon, and bacon. Yep, TWO “bacons”. Of course I loved it. ūüôā

But seriously, it was delicious–something I don’t often say about frozen pizza.

Of course I wanted to try to recreate this pizza on my own. I took the basic idea, made my pizza with BBQ, ham, pineapple, and some Italian cheese and it was pretty darn close to the original idea!

Hawaiian BBQ Pizza


5 oz BBQ sauce (whatever your favorite is)
pizza dough (buy it already made, or make your own!)
6 oz pineapple, roughly chopped
1 cup Italian cheese

1) Preheat oven to 375.

2) Top pizza dough with BBQ, ham, pineapple, and cheese.

3) Bake 10-15 minutes, until crust is golden and crisp and cheese is melted.

Seriously, the easiest weeknight dinner ever. And we had leftover BBQ sauce, so that meant BBQ meatball subs later in the week! I’ll share that recipe later.

Try this recipe and let me know what you think! ūüôā

Blue Cheese Mac and Cheese

For some reason I have a tendency to latch on to a particular flavor combination. For a while it was spinach, diced tomato, and feta cheese. Before that I was on some kind of southwestern kick. Now, it’s blue cheese.

I had forgotten how much I loved blue cheese until I had the Pioneer Woman’s blue cheese pasta several months ago. Before that, it had been years since I’d had blue cheese. Now I can’t use it enough.

I haven’t had very good luck with macaroni and cheese in the past. I grew up on the blue box and while I still love it, in all it’s processed and unhealthy goodness, I rarely eat it for those very reasons. My homemade attempts have been okay, but none of them have reheated very well. Because of that, I almost didn’t try this recipe–but thank goodness I did.

Blue Cheese Macaroni and Cheese


1 pound macaroni pasta (I used shells, but you can use your favorite)
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups whole milk
1 cup whipping cream
3 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1 1/2 cups blue cheese, crumbled
Red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste

1) Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a baking dish. 13×9 inches is preferable, but it can be¬†separated¬†into two smaller baking dishes is¬†necessary.

2) Cook pasta to al dente. Drain and save for later.

3) Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add in the flour,¬†stirring¬†constantly, to make a roux. Make sure not to burn the flour. **If you’ve never made a roux, don’t be surprised to see the flour kind of clump up. This will help thicken the cheese mixture later.**

4) Gradually add the milk and cream, whisking them into the flour mixture. Simmer until mixture thickens, whisking constantly.

5) Reduce heat to low and add cheese (reserving 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese for topping), a small handful at a time. Whisk until all cheese had been added and is melted. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

6) Add cooked pasta to cheese sauce and stir to coat. Transfer mixture to prepared baking pan(s) and top with reserved cheddar cheese. Bake until top is golden brown and sauce is bubbling, 20-25 minutes.

This mac and cheese is delicious. If you’re not a huge blue cheese fan, you can always sub in more cheddar and less blue cheese, but the salty tang of the blue cheese is what makes this dish so good. It’s not an overwhelming flavor, it’s just enough to make this dish something a little special.

The leftovers were good, too. It reheats really well, and the cheese is almost as smooth as the first day it’s made.

¬†This makes way too much for two people, so if you don’t want to eat the leftovers (as good as they are) for a week, I would halve the recipe.

One tip: Make sure you get good, block cheese and shred/crumble it yourself. The pre-shredded stuff does not melt as well.

Adapted from THIS recipe.

Menu Planning May 30th-June 5th

I know, I know, I am incredibly behind, story of my life. As always, I blame school. Finals, tests, blah blah blah.

I do have a couple recipes that I need to post: one for a blue cheese mac and cheese that will change your life (seriously) and one for a BBQ pineapple pizza! I have three tests next week that I’m studying for, so hopefully I’ll get the recipes up after that.

Anyway, here is the menu plan for the next week!

Mon.-Blue cheese and spinach pasta
Wed.-Italian meatballs and baked potato
Saturday-Mexican casserole

Spicy Bean Burritos

Another recipe from Annie’s Eats! If you haven’t checked out her blog yet, what are you waiting for? Go! Really.

This recipe caught my eye because I happened to have a small stockpile of black beans in my cabinet. This happens when you don’t eat meat–somehow you manage to accumulate a ton of beans. Or maybe it’s just me and I’m crazy. Who knows. ūüôā

Either way, this was a good way to get rid of the beans, and Chad happened to love it. Plus it’s another easy dinner meal, so definitely a win-win.

Spicy Bean Burritos


For the bean filling:

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon minced chipotle in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¬ľ teaspoon kosher salt
Dash cayenne pepper
1/3 cup water
2 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
6 Tablespoons fresh salsa
To assemble:

6 (10-inch) flour tortillas, warmed
Shredded cheese
Diced tomatoes
Shredded lettuce
Chopped green onions
Low-fat sour cream

1) Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add garlic, chili powder, chipotle, cumin, salt and cayenne. Cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute, until fragrant.

2) Add the beans and water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

3) Remove skillet from heat, add salsa, and mash mixture with a fork.

4) Spoon about 1/3 of a cup of the mixture down the center of the tortilla and garnish with cheese, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, and extra salsa. Roll up burrito style and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Annie’s.

Like I said, Chad loved this recipe. I was not a huge fan, but it wasn’t because of the flavors. I’m weird about textures, and even though I mashed the beans, there were still chunks. It just weirded me out. I think if I make it again I might puree the filling to make it smooth.

But don’t let my texture craziness keep you from trying the recipe. The flavors were really good. Enjoy!