Meal Plan: August 16-21

We are starting to get the hang of me being back at work part time, and meal planning has definitely helped! It takes the stress out of each day, trying to figure out what to make; it allows me to do all my grocery shopping over the weekend; and it allows me to plan ahead to find the best deals and plan my meals around sales so I’m as to save money. I highly recommend it, even if you don’t work!

Saturday:Copycat Chick Fil A Sandwich and Crispy Green Bean Fries
IMG_2062.JPGI love Chick Fil A, but it is so hard to eat out while I’m still not able to eat dairy. In both of these recipes, I was easily able to make them dairy free by using unsweetened regular almond milk instead of the cream/milk. I couldn’t even tell the difference!
The pickles on the sandwich were homemade (it was also the pickle juice I used to marinade the chicken) using this recipe, but instead of using dill seed I used a few sprigs of fresh dill.
The icing on the cake (or the sauce on the sandwich) was definitely the copycat Chick Fil A sauce. If you haven’t tried this sauce, you MUST! It’s like a BBQ honey mustard sauce, but is way better. I don’t like mustard, at all, but I love this sauce! It also made a great dipping sauce for the green beans!

Sunday: Kale Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
IMG_2072.PNGI made this salad with things I had on hand, so instead of pomegranate I used dried cranberries, instead of pecans I used sliced almonds, and I didn’t add any feta since I can’t eat dairy. I love the quinoa in this, and it would also be good with some grilled chicken.

Monday: Steak au Poivre with Roasted Broccoli and Potatoes
IMG_2123.PNGMatt has started making dinner on Monday nights because I work in the afternoons, and what a treat that has been! His favorite place to find recipes right now is in an amazing book called Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequest. Highly, highly, highly recommend it!

Tuesday: Baked Honey Garlic Chicken with Brown Fried Rice
IMG_2121.PNGThis chicken was so good! Super crispy and the sauce coated it perfectly.
For the fried rice I heat vegetable oil in a wok, add leftover brown rice and cook until heated through. Then I add some diced onion, frozen mixed veggies, scrambled egg, sesame seeds, a couple tablespoons of soy sauce and about a teaspoon of sesame oil. Then I cook it until everything is hot, and add more soy sauce if needed!

Wednesday: Sesame Soba Noodles
IMG_2122.PNGSoba noodles were on clearance at the grocery store so I thought it would be fun to try them. This was the perfect dish for a hot day! I followed the recipe but added some cucumber and added a little chili oil which was delicious! The dressing would be great for a cucumber salad too!

Thursday: Chickpea Salad with Honey Garlic Lime Vinaigrette
IMG_2168.PNGThis salad was AMAZING! I can still taste it days later! It’s best if made ahead of time so the flavors all have plenty of time to meld. I made it around 1pm and it was great for dinner (it tasted great right after I made it, but got even better by dinner and then even better still for lunch the next day). I added an extra tablespoon of red wine vinegar and also added shredded chicken and thin sliced shallots instead of cherry tomatoes. I can’t wait to make this again!

Tomato Sauce

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I don’t even know the last time we bought pre-made tomato sauce. After realizing how easy it is to make and how healthy it can be, we just can’t justify buying it!

What you need:
1 can no salt added diced tomatoes, mostly drained
1-2 cloves of garlic
A handful of fresh basil
1 tsp chili powder
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp white sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup red wine (optional)

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Place the peeled garlic cloves and basil in a blender or bullet (we use our bullet all the time, love it!). Blend until finely chopped, then add all other ingredients (except wine), and blend until combined (good chunky or very smooth).

Place in a small pot, add the red wine if desired, and cook about 10 minutes to eliminate the raw garlic flavor. Great as a dipping sauce, on pasta, on pizzas, in calzones, etc! ENJOY!

Macaroni and Cheese

Last night Matt was wanting comfort food but neither of us really felt like cooking after a long day in the sun and pool (tough life, I know). We decided to try this recipe for Mac n cheese because it didn’t seem too hard and looked delicious. Naturally we made our own changes, and it was so good!!

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What you need:
2 cups dried pasta (we used veggie pasta macaroni)
1 cup fat free half and half (yes, they make fat free half and half!)
1 1/2 cups fat free milk
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup freshly shredded cheddar (we used pre-shredded reduced fat)
2-3 slices of cheese (we used muenster)
1/4 cup Italian seasoned panko

In a medium pot, combine dried pasta, half and half, milk, garlic, and nutmeg. Heat over medium to a simmer, reduce heat and continue to simmer until the pasta is cooked (about 20 minutes). You want to stir it frequently to keep the pasta from sticking and to prevent the milk from boiling.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Once the pasta is cooked (there should still be a little liquid), remove from the heat and add the shredded cheese. Stir well to combine. You can eat the Mac n Cheese at this point, or keep reading to make it even better! ūüôā

Place the Mac n Cheese in an oven safe dish, top with a few slices of muenster cheese, and sprinkle with Italian seasoned panko (panko works better than breadcrumbs since we aren’t adding butter or oil to crisp). Place in the oven until the sliced cheese has melted and the dish is bubbling, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cook just slightly, this dish is best hot.

ENJOY!

Lemon Risotto with Summer Vegetables

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This was a very delicious recipe I found. ¬†Unlike the others, this one wasn’t modified much. ¬†You can find the original recipe here. ¬†Here’s the recipe, along with our adjustments (this one takes about an hour, and it’s pretty much all active cooking time). ¬†Enjoy!

Here are the ingredients:

  • 8 ounces¬†asparagus (about 10 stalks), trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces¬†sugar snap peas (about a healthy handful), trimmed and cut in half
  • 5 teaspoons¬†extra-virgin olive oil (to be used at different times)
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 medium yellow squash, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 small bell pepper, diced or sliced, any color (we used green)
  • 4 3/4 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup¬†finely chopped shallots
  • 1 cup¬†uncooked Basmati rice
  • 1/4 cup¬†dry white wine (if you live in SoCal, check out Wiens for some great wines- we used their White Crowded for this)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup¬†(2 ounces) grated fresh pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup¬†chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon¬†unsalted butter
  • Salt-free seasoning

Directions:

  1. Fill a large sauce pan about 3/4 full with water and bring to a boil. Put asparagus and peas in water and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cool water.
  2. Add 2 teaspoons olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat.  Add zucchini, squash and bell pepper and saute for about 7 minutes, or until browned and tender.  Season vegetables with no-salt seasoning while cooking.
  3. Add vegetable broth to a medium sauce pan and warm over medium heat (but don’t bring it to a boil). ¬†Keep it warm.
  4. Heat remaining olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add shallots, and cook for 3-4 minutes, until they get tender. Stir in rice, and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in wine; cook until liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup broth; cook 5 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Reserve 1/4 cup broth for the end. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (20-25 minutes total).  About halfway through cooking rice, add the 2 cloves of minced garlic.  Stir in asparagus, peas, zucchini, squash and bell pepper ; cook 1 minute more or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1/4 cup of broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, butter, chives and grated cheese.
  5. Eat.  Enjoy.

Grilled Veggie Sandwich

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This amazing sandwich is definitely one of our favorites right now, and is a go-to meal when we don’t feel like cooking much. We normally grill it outside, but this time I made it on my indoor grill pan and it was actually just as good! (Plus Matt had just gotten home from summer camp and was too tired to grill)
This recipe is from allrecipes.com but is slightly altered (I can never follow recipes directly…)

Ingredients for sauce:
1/4 cup mayo (I use olive oil mayo)
1 T lemon juice (also great with orange or lime!)
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. (We have also used other sauces for our sandwich, like leftover baja sauce from fish tacos)

Ingredients for sandwich
1/2 zucchini, cut into strips
1/2 bell pepper, cut flat
1/2 tomato, slices
2 slices of onion
Bread of choice (see below description for our favorite, but any kind will do)
Feta to sprinkle on the bread (optional)

Arrange cut veggies on a grill pan or on the grill and sprinkle with no-salt garlic herb seasoning.

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Once the veggies start to get grill marks, flip and grill the other side (should only take about 5 minutes on each side).
While the veggies are cooking, spread some mayo on one side of the bread (we have tried thick cut loaves, ciabatta, focaccia, but our favorite by far has been naan). Sprinkle feta on top of the sauce.

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Once the veggies have been removed from the grill or grill pan, place the bread, sauce side up, and grill until the bread starts to brown.

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Once the bread is done, assemble the sandwich and ENJOY!!

Black Bean Veggie Burgers

Hands down, our favorite vegetarian meal so far has been these black bean veggie burgers. (Recipe modified from allrecipes.com) They are super easy to make and can be modified or topped with a variety of ingredients!

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Start by lightly mashing one can of drained, rinsed black beans (I don’t mash too much so there is still a good texture). Using a cheese grater or the grater attachment in a food processor, grate 1/2 onion, 1/2 zucchini, and 1/2 bell pepper. Add the veggies to the beans and add 2 cloves of minced garlic. Mix together and add 1 tablespoon cumin, 1 tablespoon chili powder, and 1 teaspoon chili sauce (I used garlic pepper plant sauce). Mix and then add 1 egg and 1/2 cup of bread crumbs or panko. Then add about 1/2 cup of feta cheese (optional).

Mix well, form into 4 patties, and sauté in a little oil until golden brown! We love to eat them with avocado, fresh spinach, and a little lemon garlic aoli with fresh chopped basil!

ENJOY!

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