Holiday Favorites, Weeknight Dinners

Chicken Enchilada Melt Subs

Happy Fall! It’s October 1st and we couldn’t be more excited about this month’s upcoming festivities; orchards, pumpkins, lattes, leaf piles, leaf peeping, camp fires, parties and trick-or-treat! Halloween is one of our favorite holidays to celebrate.

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As the kids get older, and our time to make meals becomes less and less due to their involvement at school + activities, my blog posts containing elaborate meals is diminishing by the day! I’m peeking back at prior posts thinking, “how the heck did I have TIME to make all that food?!” And the reality is, I didn’t.

Opportunity Cost {A benefit, profit, or value of something that must be given up to acquire or achieve something else}

This is the biggest take away from my studies as an MBA student, and the time that I was spending making fancy meals was time away from things I could be doing with the kids. I’ve really tried to curb my food prep time in order to maximize human contact time. Why else are we here? Not to live in a cave alone.

The kids have had an awesome time pouring through new food recipe material with me. between activities or in the car on the go. We have two books open right now. One is called “Eat at Home Tonight” and the other is the latest Food Network Magazine. The cookbook was given to me by my brother, THANK YOU JOEY! And is organized by TIME. What a concept. The Mom who wrote this is a genious. The first chapter is “I only have 15 minutes to cook dinner” —Let me tell you, WE LOVE THIS BOOK. And she doesn’t use nuts, yet, so it’s easy converstions for us, like finding the right, safe breads to use.

Here is what we made last night. Kids gave it kind of a thumbs up, but they cleared their plates. I thought it was good!!!

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Chicken Enchilada Melt Subs

  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken (rotisserie works great, Metcalfes is the best)
  • 1 (4oz) can diced green chiles
  • 1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt + pepper
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • 6 sub rolls – Pretzilla is your go-to nut free option! And so tasty!
  1. In a large microwave safe bowl, combine chicken, chiles, tomato, and garlic powder. Season with S+P. Microwave 2 min. Add some cheese to the mixture and microwave for 30 seconds until melted.
  2. Split your sub rolls. We use Pretzilla since they are PN + TN free. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spay with Pam non-stick. Put your rolls face side up and load up your subs. Sprinkle with cheesse.
  3. Put them under the broiler until cheese is melted.

We made a green vegetable and had some apple slices to get all food groups in! This was ready in 15 mintues. To save even more time, prep that shredded chicken on the weekend, that way you hvae it ready for your week night meals!

Have a great week everyone. And remember, the point of a meal together is just that, being together. So save some time in the kitchen and focus up on the people that you’re surrounded with, engage in some good conversation and enjoy being in the moment.

Nut Free Cookies Below….Metcalfes carries Lofthouse Bakery cookies – perfect for your Halloween Parties at school or home 🙂

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Snacking

Watermelon & Himalayan Pink Sea Salt

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A friend of mine, @healthy.madeinmadison, posted this picture on Instagram about watermelon sprinkled with pink himalayan sea salt. I’ve heard about adding salt to watermelon, but I never actually knew why. Until today. And it has a lot to do with modernization of farming. If you want to learn more, click here.

Basically, ADD SALT TO YOUR WATERMELON. Not nasty, bleached white salt, GOOD SALT. Like Himalayan pink sea salt, or just sea salt. Natural stuff. It really does wonders for the flavor (Thanks, Chemistry!) and aids with digestion.

We took 1/2 watermelon and balled it, then sliced a lime, zested some of it over the watermelon, and sprinkled with the special salt. It was AMAZING. The best watermelon I have ever had. Thanks to our new pink salt.

We found our salt at Metcalfes today, bottom shelf of the spice aisle.

 

 

Holiday Favorites

Christmas Day Eats

We’re in the process of getting Christmas Eve dinner ready (yes, early so that we can enjoy time with the kiddos!). But we’re already thinking of tomorrows dinner. Here’s what we have planned, maybe it will be an easy idea for you, too.

Christmas Day 

Brunch:

  1. Mimosas
  2. Strawberry, watermelon and blueberry fruit salad
  3. French Toast – shortcut, our recipe calls for day-old french bread. We know that Subway is safe bread, so we picked up 4 large loaves and they are in the process of chilling out on our countertop for tomorrow. https://www.yummly.com/#recipe/Baked-French-Toast-Allrecipes
  4. Organic breakfast sausages from Conscious Carnivore

Lunch / Snack:

  1. Frozen Chicken Tenders – Brand: Tyson
  2. Frozen Onion Rings – Brand: Alexia, nutfree
  3. Frozen French Fries – Brand: Alexia, nutfree
  4. Vegetable Tray – pre-made from Metcalfes
  5. Cookie Tray
  6. Chips and Salsa

Dinner:

  1. Sous Vide Steaks:::Click Here for Recipe
  2. Roasted brussel sprouts
  3. Roasted Parsnips
  4. Double baked potatoes with all the fixins!
  5. Christmas cookie tray
Uncategorized, Weeknight Dinners

Weeknight Meatballs & Marinara

Tarek and Christina are common names in our household. I am addicted to everything HGTV, mostly because all other news is too stressful and/or ridiculous to watch / listen to. So if you’re a T&C fan as much as I am, the thought of the title “Flip or Flop” may be worth a ponder. Think about it…..they never show a “Flop” – at least I’ve never seen one. Have you? Leave me a comment if you’ve seen one.

Where am I going with this?

I decided to show you a “flop” of mine. If you follow me on Instagram (check lower-right on the homepage) you saw my genius idea of slow cooker meatballs.

In theory, this is a splendid idea! However, there are a few points that I must make here if you love your meatballs a certain way……

First, these are first world issues. Just putting that out there.

And now, I’ve had too much time to think about meatballs, here are my thoughts.

  1. Slow cooking meatballs doesn’t allow them to get crunchy bits on the outside like pan frying or baking does.
  2. Slow cooking meatballs makes very mushy meatballs, more like meat sauce if you cook them as long as I did (as per the recipe).
  3. Slow cooking meatballs is the worst way to actually make a meatball.
  4. If you’re wanting to slow cook a meatball, the best kinds to slow cook are pre-cooked (packaged) or pre-made (by you, under the broiler for 3 minutes to create a nice outter edge so they don’t fall apart)
  5. You must have more sauce than you’d think to cover all the meatballs. This was about 2 full quart size jars. I like Classico + Barilla.

Here’s the recipe. I am going to try it again, but using a different technique, like omitting raw onion. Onions have a TON of water in them and when you bake/slow cook onion, it adds moisture to your recipe that can significantly change what you’re making….I’ve done this before with meatloaf.

So here’s a pretty picture to look at.  Way too much onion right?! I was trying to recycle left over chopped onion from the weekend. Fail. Also, not enough sauce, right. Supposed to cover all the meatballs.

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Crock pot Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1.5# organic, grassfed ground beef (Metcalfes had WI organic beef on sale yesterday for $4.99/lb, that’s 50% off)
  • 1.5 cups Italian bread crumbs (if you don’t have bread crumbs, use bread or saltine crackers, put them in your nutribullet or food processor with some salt, pepper, Italian seasonings….it’s the same thing)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, or not fresh, whatever.
  • 2 cloves minced fresh garlic, or 2 tbsp powder
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (this is where I would prefer to use onion powder)
  • 1 egg beaten
  • You can make your own sauce, or buy 2 jars
  • 1# spaghetti or favorite pasta shape

Directions:

  1. Prepare your crock pot with non-stick spray
  2. Combine all ingredients in large bowl (except sauce and pasta) to make meatballs, approx 12-16 depending on size.
  3. Put all of the spaghetti sauce into crock pot, place meatballs into sauce. Sauce should cover the meatballs.
  4. Cook on low for 6-8 hours

TIPS: If you have time, bake in your oven in pyrex at 400* for 15 minutes BEFORE putting them into the slow cooker.

If you’re looking for nut-free, most pre-packaged meatballs are nut-free. The ONLY ingredient to pay attention to would be the breadcrumbs / bread source. MOST breads are NOT safe, so if you make your own breadcrumbs, make sure your bread is safe. WE use Country Hearth from Sun Prairie, WI. Angelic is also guaranteed nut-free. Progresso bread crumbs are also nut-free, and that’s what I used in this recipe.

This meatball recipe is pretty plain. If you want to spice things up, I suggest another recipe for more flavor. But if it’s a weeknight and you’re looking for fast and easy, this will do. This will do.

Here’s Anne Burrell’s meatball recipe with homemade marinara sauce. I love her cooking, however, I hate how much salt she adds to her recipes. Just adjust your salt levels accordingly.

Anne Burrell Meatballs

Happy Wednesday and thanks for stopping by. The countdown to Modern Family is ON!

P.S. If you have extra meatballs, make meatball subs with a fresh sub roll and slice of mozzarella  cheese.