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Meal Planning Part Deux: Five Meals You Can Make This Week

Wordy title, huh? So how’s that meal planning going? Remember, from my post here? Hopefully you’re making a few more meals each week than you were before. I found these WAY prettier meal planners I wanted to share with you, in case you, like me, are motivated by pretty sheets of paper MORE than you are motivated by, well, less pretty ones.

Check these out!

This one’s from Jen Allyson at The Project Girl. Pop over to her site and snag yourself a copy. There are two versions. I love them both. Tell her I sent you.

The Project GIrl Meal Planner

This one is from Ali Edwards. Her blog is awesome and you can head over there to pick it up! This would be great in a binder if you want to keep your recipes, coupons, and meal plans together.

Ali Edwards WeeklyDinner Menu

Okay, now that you’ve got your meal planners and your fav-O-rite pen in hand, here are five easy meals you can make next week and all the stuff you need to make them.

Creamy Chicken Taquitos

Chicken Taquitos

Photo courtesy of Annie's Eats

We’ve been chowing on these taquitos from Annie’s Eats A LOT lately. They are SOOOO good! Make some extras and pop them in a bag in the freezer. So quick and easy for lunch!

Get the recipe here. We’ve substituted pork for chicken, and I use low fat cream cheese and shredded cheese. We also use whole wheat tortillas, but you can pick your favorite.

Calzones

Calzones

Photo courtesy Simply Scratch

So easy! Grab some prepared dough and your favorite toppings from the store (if you want to make your own dough, try this recipe from Simply Scratch) And dinner’s ready pronto!

Divide dough into four portions. Roll out into four circles. Spoon one tablespoon of marinara on one half of the rolled out dough. Top with your favorite toppings, keep them to one side.

If you’re using sausage or hamburger, cook it first, and drain off any grease. You don’t want that in your calzone. If you don’t like a strong onion taste you can brown those as well.

Make sure the topping stay about 1/2 in. away from the edge of the calzone. Fold the un-topped half of the dough over the toppings and roll and pinch the two edges together to seal. Use a knife to crimp the edge if you like. Cut a small slit in the top of your calzone so steam can escape. Heat the oven to 450 degrees, dust a baking sheet with cornmeal. Place your calzones on the baking sheet and brush with a beaten egg. Bake 12-14 minutes until golden brown.

Slow-cooker Turkey Chili

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Photo courtesy of http://www.myrecipes.com

I know this recipe has a lot of ingredients, but don’t sweat it. You do a little chopping (or buy pre-chopped veggies if you have to) and dump all the stuff in the crock pot. That’s it. And it’s chock full of veggies so you can serve it up with a little cornbread and have a great, healthy meal for your family. Plus leftovers!

Barbecue Chicken Sliders

BBQ Chicken Sliders

Photo: John Autry; Styling: Leigh Ann Ross

These are SOOO good! And kids love tiny sandwiches. Let’s be honest, so do grown-ups. Put a little slaw on the side and you have a meal! Get the recipe here.

And finally . . . drumroll please!

Leftover Soup

Whaaaat?? Seriously, leftover soup. It’s time to use up all the bits of stuff that you haven’t used up in your meals this week. Check out this post for help. Start by sautéing anything crispy (celery, onion, carrots) in some butter or a teaspoon or two of vegetable or olive oil. Add some broth (chicken, beef, veggie, whatev) or canned tomatoes (the diced in juice kind, preferably) and bring to a simmer. Add your protein (meat or beans, or both!). Let it simmer for a bit. When things have softened up (15-20 minutes) drop in anything delicate like frozen veggies, greens, or mushrooms. Continue cooking for a few minutes. Taste for seasoning as you go. A little salt and pepper go a looooong way. Serve up with a nice piece of crusty bread (or leftover cornbread, if you made that with the chili) and enjoy!

So there you go! Enjoy an easy week on me!

Download and print the meal planner 5 Easy Meals Meal Planner Printable.

5 Easy Meals Meal Planner

What meal do you think you might try? Is there a type of meal you’d like to see more of? Have you been using your meal planner?

Superbowl Recipe Roundup

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. We don’t do sports. Mr. Bundt gets really excited over the Tour de France, but that’s the only thing we (and by we, I mean he) follow. That’s not to say that we don’t ever watch a game. But let’s be honest, the most exciting part is the commercials and the food. I haven’t made a commercial, but I do have ten great recipes you can use to spice up your Super Bowl feast. I’m not recommending that you serve ALL of these at one time, but if you need something new for your buffet, give one of these a try!

Fried Cheesy Jalapeño Poppers

Holy mother! When I saw these on A Cozy Kitchen I knew we had to have these! Mr. Bundt is a pepper junkie and you will be too!

Photo courtesy of A Cozy Kitchen

Pepperoni Cheese Stick Roll Ups

These Pepperoni Cheese Stick Roll Ups from The Girl Who Ate Everything look so yummy! And they’re so easy! All you have to do is assemble.

Photo courtesy of The Girl Who Ate Everything

Queso Dip

This yummy queso dip from Two Peas & Their Pod only takes 10 minutes to make!

Photo courtesy of Two Peas & Their Pod

BBQ Pulled Chicken Sliders

My Recipes is one of my favorite places to find inspiration. The site stores recipes from lots of my favorite magazines, including Southern Living and Cooking Light. Serve these right out of the crock pot with pickles and slider sized buns. Can’t find tiny buns? Use small dinner rolls or cut regular hamburger buns in quarters.

Photo: John Autry; Styling: Leigh Ann Ross

Personal Seven Layer Dips

These personal dips from Savory Sweet Life are so adorable that you just have to serve them! Plus, it keeps the boys from making a dippy mess all over your sofa and prevents the unsavory double dip.

Photo courtesy of Savory Sweet Life

Creamy Chicken Taquitos

These little taquitos from Annie’s Eats look so yummy and way better than anything you get from a box!

Photo courtesy of Annie's Eats

Crunchy Oven-Fried Cheese Ravioli

Mr. Bundt is a friend cheese junkie. So, as soon as I saw these on How Sweet It Is I knew I had to make them! Hopefully the fact that they’re not fried will make them a little bit healthier.

Photo courtesy of How Sweet It Is

Bite-sized Bake Brie

This one’s for the ladiezzzz. Don’t be intimidated by the fact that these are on sticks. You don’t have to put them on sticks. Really. And, if you’re thinking, wow, she’s a little heavy on the cheese here, um, yeah, I am. So what? I told you not to make them all at once.

These awesome little heavenly brie bites are from Joy the Baker. Who is also awesome. Just like me. And these brie bites.

Photo courtesy of Joy the Baker

Guacamole

I. love. guacamole. But don’t be like me, hoarding Costco sized containers from Wholly Guacamole. Make this. With real avocados. Like Crystal from A Pumpkin & A Princess.

Photo courtesy of A Pumpkin & A Princess

Smoky Black Bean Dip

This recipe for Smoky Black Bean Dip comes from Beggar’s Banquet, a local catering company and shop in Orange, Va. It’s a nice change from the usual hummus and, if you don’t feel like doing the individual Seven Layer Dips you can serve this in a nice bowl with similar chips. It can als be made vegan by leaving out the sour cream or yogurt.

Smoky Black Bean Dip

1 19.75-oz can black beans, drained & rinsed
2 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp. low- or nonfat sour cream or yogurt
1-2 chipotle chiles in adobo, coarsely chopped [amount depends on heat preference]
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. red chili powder
½ tsp. smoked paprika
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp.coarsely chopped red onion
½ cup loosely packed fresh cilantro [leaves & stems]
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

In a food processor, combine ingredients: black beans through paprika. Process until smooth. Taste for seasoning, add salt & pepper to taste. If you prefer a thinner dip, continue processing and add water 1 Tbsp. at a time until desired consistency is reached. Stir in red onion, fresh cilantro, and diced tomatoes. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with more chopped cilantro if desired, and serve with homemade chips and/or crudités.

So, there you have it. Ten things I’d LOVE to eat if I watched the Super Bowl. I know lots of you are football junkies. What do you like to serve when you watch the game?

Lentil Stew

Do you still have ham from the holidays? I do. And I’ve put it in every bean soup known to man. I’ve also made quiche. Fried ham steaks. Made sandwiches. And guess what? It’s STILL NOT GONE! Holy mother of ham.

But the soup has been good. And this stew is great. Since I still had ham to spare (in the freezer, of course) and am working to incorporate new proteins into our diet, this was the perfect Friday night meal. By the time I got around to starting this stew I was beat.

The day started early with the police finding a vagrant in the shed of the vacant house next door to mine. Needless to say, it was not the way I wanted to start the day. It caused a lot of stress to wonder how long he had been there, why he was there, were we in danger at any time? I also decided not to tell the little Bundt. She plays outside after school in the back yard, so it had me pretty freaked out.

I worked all day baking cookies which you’ll see in the Valentine’s post coming up soon. And I handled some everyday business. Took some orders, ran to the store, the usual. Usually, Mr. Bundt turns up around 8pm on Friday, tired and hungry. Often he wants me to meet him in town for dinner. But by 8pm on Friday night I want to be in front of the TV with my friends from Say Yes to the Dress. I do not want to go into town for dinner. Plus, we’re both starving and generally look pretty gross. But this particular Friday, he didn’t roll in until after 9pm. I gave up and ate my stew without him. And I was grateful to have it! With one of the Honey Butter Wheat Rolls it was the perfect hot dinner after a long day.

If you’ve never eaten lentils, do not fear. They’re great. Not super beany. They’re thin so they don’t need to be soaked overnight and they’re not meaty like a larger bean might be. Even if you’re not a bean fan, give these a try.

The recipe is from Cooking Light. I love their recipes and use them a lot. Tasty, healthy meals!

Lentil Stew with Ham and Greens

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups chopped Swiss chard, collard greens, or spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped baking potato
  • 1 cup chopped smoked ham
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Saute the onions and garlic

Heat the oil over medium high heat. I like to use my Dutch oven, but you can use a large soup pan. Sauté the onions and garlic about 5 minutes. Add the broth, lentils, carrots, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and partially cover; reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Starting your lentil stew

Add your greens, diced potato, and ham, and return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer again for 15 minutes, or until potato is tender. Add the tomatoes, basil, thyme, and pepper. Simmer 10 more minutes.

Lentil stew part 2

I was concerned that the stew would have that unsavory gray color that lentils often lend to things. But with the addition of the vegetables, it turned out to be a pretty bright stew.

FInished Stew

Discard bay leaves. Serve hot with crusty bread.

Has anything crazy happened to you lately? What easy hot meal do you like to serve up at the end of a long day? Have you tried any new ingredients in the new year?

Here’s what I’m going to do with the ham next. Let’s hope to goodness that that’s the end of it!

Dora is dead

Dora is dead. Maybe not at your house if you happen to still have little girls. But, at our house, she’s dead, gone and forgotten.

Those of you who know me well will attest to the fact that I am not terribly sentimental. I don’t get overly attached to items, I don’t cry over most of life’s Hallmark moments. I sent my happy five-year-old off to kindergarten on the bus several years ago and did not shed a tear. Instead, I was cheering for her, so happy that we had made it this far, and knowing that school may well bring her as much joy as it did me. There are moments when I do get weepy. Last fall that same little girl, now almost eight, went forward at church and asked to be baptized. I sobbed. That, for me, was a very emotional moment. But most things I let go of. Baby furniture was sold, strollers consigned, tiny clothes given away for someone else’s little baby. And I didn’t miss it. But as I vanquished the last of the Dora items, something inside my little heart tore a bit.

Let me say, I was never a huge Dora fan. I mean, she’s nice enough. In person she has a super-big head. I don’t miss her gargantuan eyes staring at me as I shower in the morning. But there were many, many Dora things in our house. Even the deluxe Dora playhouse with about 1000 pieces was a hit for a while. But it wasn’t the departure of those things that hit me, it was Dora on TV (and of course our ample supply of Dora videos). As we scanned the channels the other day my daughter, who has long since mastered the remote, lighted quickly on Dora. I pointed out that Dora was on and my daughter says, “I don’t like Dora, she’s for babies.” The voice inside my head screamed, “But you’re a baby!” while my real voice said, “Oh, okay” and acted like it didn’t matter. It’s not my great love for Dora that put the little hole in my heart. It’s that the time of Dora and all her Noggin friends are gone. And with it, my little girl.

I don’t know when it happened. It wasn’t one particular day on which Dora was vanquished and iCarly promptly ushered in. I know it was a slow progression toward big girl-hood. And I’m thrilled to have a big girl. But, you see, in our house there won’t be another little person to prolong my connection to the beloved Laurie Berkner and her animated friends. This is the only baby. And I don’t miss having a toddler or preschooler. This age is way better! Easier! But I can already see the invisible string that ties my mommy heart to her little girl heart lengthening, tugging, stretching. And I know that’s good. It’s exactly what’s supposed to happen. But I sometimes wonder how many more times I might get to hold that little person on my lap and squeeze her before she decides she’s too cool for that, and that she doesn’t need her Mama anymore.

As a grown woman I understand that you never stop needing you mother. There are still plenty of days when I need my mom to bolster me, tell me things will be okay, know that she loves me. But, now that I’m someone else’s mom, it’s different. I know that she will always need me and, hopefully, want me around. But it will be in a much different way from now on. It will be harder for her to ask for the support she needs, and a kiss and pat on the head won’t fix the hurts that will soon start to come her way. Then, I’ll look back and yearn for sick days when we could snuggle on the couch with our favorite TV friends.

Now, all of this has made me sad again. So here’s the better part to end on a good note! Dora, the Wonder Pets, Olivia (which she still sometimes watches), Miffy and Little Bear are gone and I’ll miss them. But, I have never been so happy to usher out Oswald (I guess Fred Savage isn’t getting enough residuals off of The Wonder Years!) and Yo Gabba Gabba. There’s no love lost there. iCarly doesn’t know it, but her days are probably numbered, too.