Weeknight Dinners

Weeknight Lasagna

After eating the same boring flavor profile, aka, Thanksgiving leftovers, we are switching it up to Italian. Lasagna to be exact. I’ve got two kids in front of me right now fighting over a box, yes, a box. Why am I driving myself nuts over Christmas toys when apparently a box is the cats meow?! I’ll just skip right to the recipe since I need to referee…..

Campbell’s 30 Minute Weeknight Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese – Kraft is safe
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pound organic, lean ground beef
  • 1 jar (45 ounces) Prego® Traditional Italian Sauce or two jars (24 ounces each) Prego® Three Cheese Italian Sauce
  • 12 cooked lasagna noodles, drained – Barilla is safe
  • 12 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (about 3 cups)

Directions:

  1. Stir the ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and eggs in a medium bowl and set it aside.  Season the beef as desired.  In a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, cook the beef until it’s well browned, stirring often to break up the meat. Pour off any fat. Stir the sauce in the saucepan.
  2. Spoon 2 cups beef mixture into a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Top with 4 lasagna noodles, half the ricotta cheese mixture and half the mozzarella. Repeat the layers. Top with the remaining 4 lasagna noodles, remaining beef mixture and the remaining Parmesan cheese.
  3. Bake at 400°F. for 30 minutes or until the lasagna is hot. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

We’re serving with a side salad and garlic bread.  FOr other quick weeknight dinners, don’t forget you can search my blog, just type in what you’re looking for on the right search column.

Have a great week!

Weeknight Dinners

Menu Board Inspiration 11/13 – 11/17

We had a fantastic nut free breakfast at the Knick this morning. They make their own pancake mix in-house, so we know it’s nut-free. They are great about handling allergies. We’ve been dining there with family for the past 7 years, and luckily, haven’t had a single issue. From quick date nights, to baptisms, mother’s day, father’s day, post-fireworks cocktails and more, this restaurant holds some of our greatest family memories. We’re grateful to have such a great place so close.

This week is crazy – I’m sensing a theme here – so the menu is quite boring, but hey, I’m not a restaurant. Here’s what we’ve got, nut-free and fast.

Monday – Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Tuesday – Taco Tuesday using Ortega (nut-free) Taco kit with Conscious Carnivore, organic + locally sourced taco meat.

Wednesday – Dino Nuggets from Target, mashed potatoes (aka volcanoes + gravy) with trees (broccoli). Go ahead and buy that big bag of potatoes since you’ll use them next week for Thanksgiving!

Thursday – Spaghetti (Barilla) and meatballs to use up the extra sauce (Prego) we have here from last weeks meal.

Friday – Jack’s pizza night (clearing out the fridge and freezer as we gear up for Thanksgiving). We have a whole nut-free + GF + vegetarian menu we are planning! I’ll post this weekend after we take a visit to the Pabst Theater!

Have a great week – I’ve got wall-to-wall meetings this week and final preparations for this coming weekend, so groceries were just ordered online. If you haven’t used Metcalfe’s online grocery ordering, you’re missing out. It’s so easy my 6 year old just did it!

Treats for Mom + Dad this week include a few new friends from Dry Creek Valley:

And for the kiddos, they are still munching away on the snacks from #fablogcon

Weeknight Dinners

Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken

This blog post is dedicated to my Mother-in-Law, Sue, who passed away while we were at a conference this past weekend in Denver. She inspired my husband to cook, who inspired me to cook because our daughter has life-threatening food allergies. We love her so much and her presence is missed dearly.  Through her many  delicious recipes, we will keep her memory alive. May she rest in peace.

This week has been full of emotion for us. High highs and very low lows. The highs came from the exciting travel and conference my hubs and I attended together, FaBlogCon, in Denver, CO. We love Denver so  much. We had some fun date nights with his best friend + family, enjoyed some couple time, ate some great food (full of nuts) and met some new friends along the way. We both learned so much from FaBlogCon and we will definitely attend in the future. My hubs did the science/medicine track while I did the arts/blogger track. It worked out great.

This is the first meal I have made in over a week. I had other things that I wanted to blog about upon returning from FaBlogCon, but that’s life, and things happen. Slow cooker Indian Butter Chicken just sounded comforting and nut free.

Ingredients

  • 3 pieces naan bread
  • 1 red onion (I used yellow, oops)
  • 1 pound baby red potatoes, washed and quartered
  • 1 green chile
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, leaves and stems separated
  • 1.5 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • sprinkle kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 15oz tomato sauce*
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions

  1. Crumble 1/2 piece naan into bottom of slow cooker.
  2. Add the red onion, potatoes, chile, cilantro stems. Arrange chicken over the veg.
  3. Sprinkle garam masala over chicken.
  4. Add salt, pepper and dot with butter, add cinnamon stick
  5. Pour the tomato sauce over the top, cover and cook on low for 7 hours.
  6. Uncover and switch to warm setting or turn off completely
  7. Gently stir in the heavy cream
  8. Break chicken into large chunks
  9. Let stand 10 minutes
  10. Stir in the cilantro

You can eat this with just the naan, or make a small serving of rice to go along with it.

*Tomato Sauce: this recipe is super special since I used 15oz of our homemade canned tomatoes from last summer. Our method of preserving tomatoes has been passed down for many generations in my husbands family. And while it’s not my favorite thing to do at the end of summer (OK, I’m good for one day, then I hate canning)

 I cried today when I opened this 2016 tomato jar because it’s the last time we canned with my mother-in-law. She literally helped make tonight’s meal, and so it is even more special because of it.  Grateful for this memory and skill.  I added about a tbsp of tomato paste to thicken up my tomato. If you want to buy this in the store, you can – it’s in the canned good aisle. Tomato sauce. Pretty easy.

👇 Don’t forget to SCRUB those potatoes. This scrubber is nice since it wears like a ring and makes scrubbing a lot easier. Good stocking stuffer.

Cheers to Thursday, I hope you have a wonderful weekend full of love and laughter.

Mom Things, Weeknight Dinners

Menu Board 10/30-11/3

How is it Sunday night already?

This weekend was so nice –  had some girl time with my Mom and we saw Guys and Dolls at the theater and it was amazing – if you have a chance to see this performance, I highly recommend it. The singing was incredible, as was the acting and dancing. It made for a really fun night out.

As a family today, we closed up our garden, and turned the soil over/played in mud, put outside toys away, raked leaves/rolled in them, got laundry going, packed nap mat bags, lunches for the week, showers, and lastly, menu planning + groceries. We’ve got a full week, so I’ve already ordered our groceries online from Metcalfes Sentry and they’ll be delivered tomorrow between 4 and 5 since most of tomorrow is full of meetings and drop offs. I’ve also placed my Target order for pick-up in two hours for the bulk items that I don’t want to get from the regular grocery store!  Maybe some of these recipes will save you some time this week – or not. I’ve got some quick stand-by items in here since this week is super busy.

Sunday Night: Pot Roast Pioneer Woman’s Recipe

Monday: Left over pot roast with roasted broccoli 

Tuesday: Mushroom Ravioli with white sauce + green onion

Wednesday: Burrito Bowls with brown rice

Thursday: Spaghetti and meatballs (freezer section meatballs + barilla pasta + prego sauce)

Friday: California Pizza Kitchen frozen pizza

Saturday: Hamburger Helper mix for Gigi

Sunday: Panera

 

I’ve also ordered the following items for breakfast // lunch // snack time, too!

Breakfast:

  • Cold cereal – Red Berries and Frosted Flakes
  • Toast (Angelic Bakery) with sun butter
  • banana oatmeal – quaker is safe

Lunch:

  • Organic Girl mixed green salads with strawberries, parmesan, carrots, cucumbers, balsamic vinaigrette
  • Sun butter and Jelly sandwiches
  • Kraft macaroni and cheese
  • Dino nuggets from Target

Snacks:

  • Sunbutter and honeycrisp apples
  • boom chicka pop popcorn
  • hummus (Athenos) and raw veggie sticks
  • yogurt + banana
  • smoothies
  • toast with avocado
  • Strawberries + cream cheese + graham crackers

I hope you have a great week! Happy Halloween!!!!!!!

Snacking, Travel, Weeknight Dinners

Buzzy’s Lake House Food Truck

Hold the phone.

Nut allergy friends REJOICE! Your food truck woes are OVER.

Yesterday my little buddy and I (still on house arrest – kind of sick, but not really, check out my IG for more info on this) were hanging out on the square in downtown Madison when we decided to check out a local food truck, Buzzy’s Lake House via my Instagram feed.

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Buzzy’s was parked on the corner of Wisconsin + Mifflin, which was uber convenient since we were at the toy store one block away. Capitol Kids is probably one of my favorite stores for kiddo swag in all of Madison. They have the most unique gifts, and hard to find items, too. But on this particular chill day, we were just playing with choo choos and enjoying the sunshine!

Buzzy’s is AMAZING. As a foodie, this is the BEST food truck food I have EVER had (and my super foodie husband agrees, so you know it’s good.)

The issue we have with many food trucks, and restaurants in general, is that they cannot guarantee that cross contact with nuts does not happen in their kitchens, so we cannot eat there. For example, we cannot eat at Melt, that yummy food truck that ONLY sells delish grilled cheese sandwiches because their bread is made in a bakery that handles nuts. Frown face.

Buzzy’s owner + culinary trained, professional chef, Cyndi, told us the food that she makes (excluding the sweets + cookies) are nut-free. Happy dance! And I trust her 100%.

So what kind of food is it? It’s your favorites, all of them.

  1. Main Dishes
    1. Bobber Chicken
    2. Sunset Chicken
    3. Dockside Chicken Chili
    4. Wavey Turkey Meatballs
    5. Firepit Curry – YOU JUST NEED TO EAT THIS
    6. Pontoon Pulled Pork Sandwich
  2. Sides
    1. Jasmine Brown Rice
    2. Smashed Cheddar Baked Potatoes
    3. Baked Beans
    4. Side Salads
    5. Homemade cookies + assorted beverages

I had the featured item, pictured on IG, and that’s what drew me in:

Chicken Chili Bowl over rice with cheddar, sour cream and scallions.

***sorry, no pic, I woofed it down too fast***

IT WAS AMAZING. And FLAVORFUL. And HUGE. If you’re ravenous hungry, come here. If you’re coming along with kids, one main dish could feed two littles. The key here is that Cyndi is a professional chef. Her flavor profiles are spot on with everything she makes (we started visiting this food truck last April after Theater Class on State during Farmers Market – her breakfast is also amaze.)  You’re going to get a great meal, no matter what you pick. It’s alllllll good.

So, if you’re downtown walking the farmers market, having a meeting, strolling state street, visiting the capitol, or looking for a really yummy, quick and delish lunch, check out Buzzy’s Lake House. You won’t regret it.

Buzzy’s Lake House

@buzzyslakehouse

Cheers to the weekend friends! Thanks for stopping by! Lots to write – I hope I have some more time this weekend to still tell you about Dr. Pain’s Pain-free French Toast Recipe! Its so good.

 

Weeknight Dinners

Lighter Pulled BBQ Pork

So I’m a sucker for easy, crock-pot, nut-free weeknight meals. And I seem to be stuck in a BBQ pork rut. OK, not stuck. If you know me well, you know that I LOVE a good pork sandwich and so do the kids.

I’ve tried many different recipes and the first was actually quite hilarious, circa 2007 for a girls night at our downtown condo. The pork turned out to be a dried out mess and we ended up ordering pizza after a long day of work. Ten years later, I think I’ve got a better recipe down, and actually less ingredients is better.

This recipe is a lot lighter than my stand by Campbell’s Soup pre-mix packet. It has less calories, salt and sugar. And it is just as easy and flavorful. If you like things more savory than sweet, this recipe is definitely for you!

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The recipe I used is the top one, slightly modified:

  • 4 pound pork shoulder
  • McCormick Season Packet
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 of a lemon juice = about 2 tbsp
  • 2 tbsp white wine, Kim Crawford

For sides, we had baked beans and steamed some broccoli and seasons with Penzeys 4S season salt and butter.

I’ll post the apple pie recipe next….

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Hope you’re having a great week!

Weeknight Dinners

Cheesy Chicken Fajitas

Monday Hustle was fierce today!  After a really nice weekend, it was great to get back into our routine today, meal time being part of it.

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If your kids are choosy eaters, this may be a good transition recipe to try. It has many favorite ingredients found in Mexican food that almost all kiddos love. Just changing the flavor a bit, or adding/subtracting favorite ingredients may help your littles become more diverse eaters. Don’t give up, it’s a process. Modifying their favorite meals is one way to get their taste buds to open up a bit.

This weeks menu is posted to my IG, thanks to Cooking Light Magazine.

Yesterday I found an old Cooking Light Magazine in my pantry. I like to keep old magazines because our taste changes, things we like vary and I need some quick inspiration sometimes without turning on a device. Ugg. Looking at a screen or scrolling my phone is the LAST thing I want to do most days. Old magazines are nice. I keep them organized by month (or at least I’m going to tell you that :)) in magazine holders inside our walk-in pantry on the bottom shelf. The kids can reach them, too, which is OK. This recipe is two of my favorite things, fast and easy.

Since this was the first time I made the recipe, I was surprised with how quickly it came together. I’ll post the recipe, then tell you what I’d do differently to make it even faster.

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp evoo
  • 1 cup sliced red onion
  • 1 cup sliced bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup canned corn (I used the whole can because that other half will just sit in my fridge)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup unsalted canned pinto beans
  • 3/4 cup chopped tomatoes (I used one large garden tomato and diced it)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 4 oz of rotisserie chicken
  • 4 oz mozzarella cheese
  • corn tortillas
  • sour cream
  • avocado

Directions

  1. Preheat broiler to high
  2. Heat oil in ovenproof skillet over medium – high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, corn, salt, and pepper to pan. Saute 3 minutes or until crisp tender (more like 5 min).
  3. Add beans, tomatoes, stock and juice. Cook 2 minutes. Add the chicken, sprinkle evenly with cheese (I used the whole bag because hey, this is Wisconsin. and I’m preventing osteoporosis.)
  4. Place pan in oven and broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts.
  5. Heat tortilals in microwave for 1 minute.
  6. Divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas. Top with avocado, sour cream and whatever else you have, like UMMM BACON. Or anything that will add some flavor.

So my biggest concern with this recipe was flavor. It doesn’t call for herbs, dry spices or flavor mixes that would add significant depth. I followed the recipe to a T and recommend the following:

  1. Add 1 tbsp garlic powder
  2. Add 1 tbsp onion powder
  3. Add 1 tbsp oregano, dried
  4. Have a Lawrys fajita season packet on standby, just in case you don’t like the flavor
  5. Hot sauce
  6. Do not add the chicken stock – I saw no reason to add this, it made the entire dish soupy and never thickened up.
  7. Do not use your broiler. I was literally waiting for magic to happen. Nothing happened. The cheese melted. Big deal, you can do that on a regular burger with a thing called a LID.
  8. Instead of cast iron skillet / oven proof pan, just use a regular large frying pan, a really big one. This recipe makes a LOT of food, yield of 8 at least. My teeny little cast iron skillet was very crowded and it affected my saute timing.
  9. Saute the crap out of your vegetables + pepper. You want some flavor form them, get some markings on them from your pan.
  10. Only use the chicken stock if you need to deglaze your frying pan. Otherwise, do not add it. I had enough liquid from the lime juice and tomatoes that I did not need the chicken stock.
  11. Lastly, flavor. This meal was OK for flavor. The rotisserie chicken added a ton of flavor, but hot sauce was definitely required. My kids do not care for corn tortillas, so regular work too. Add the above recommended dry spices, and you’ll be fine. Worst case, just make this into a giant dip, eat with chips. Done.

Clear as mud, right? Anyway, follow the recipe, make your own changes. One thing I like to do is get extra Taco Bell sauces to keep at home. I pull them out on nights like tonight to make the meal a little fun for the kids. My kids LOVE taco bell, and they LOVE the sauces, so this makes them think we’re sort of eating at taco bell, only without the nasty gut-rot after! YAY!

Have a great week – I’ll be back tomorrow talking about a new pulled pork recipe that I found using a new spice mix. It cooks all day, so I don’t have to worry about dinner because I’ll be downtown!!!!

Cheers!