Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Apple Walnut and Feta Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

This is the perfect salad for fall and embraces many of those flavors I love! If I had to pick a component I love best I would definitely say the vinaigrette because I think the dressing totally makes the salad and this one is divine.  It's light and fresh and only slightly sweet, perfectly complimenting the salad. 

I do love everything about the salad though, it is a perfect combination from the sweet-tart and chewiness of the dried cranberries to the crispness of the apples and the soft and saltiness of the cheese.  All together it is one great salad.  I made extra vinaigrette so we can keep this salad on hand for a while.

Apple Walnut and Feta Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette
For the salad:
1/2 head of Romaine lettuce, chopped
1 large apple, sliced and chopped (I used golden delicious)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled (can also substitute another soft, salty cheese such as queso fresco)

Chop lettuce and place in a large salad bowl.  Layer the rest of the ingredients on top in the order given. Serve with raspberry vinaigrette.

For the vinaigrette:
1/2 cup raspberries (fresh or unsweetened thawed frozen)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. honey
salt and pepper, to taste

Mix everything in a blender and blend until smooth.

SOURCE: Vinaigrette from Giada De Laurentiis

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Menu Plan Monday October 2012

Well, this week we're playing catch-up.  On top of having a sinus infection, we had a flood a few weeks ago.  Worst day ever waking up to water dripping everywhere!  But, the repairs have finally been finished! No more laundry room taking over my baby's room, bathroom taking over my bedroom and construction crew coming in and out of my house all day. I'm happy to have my house put back together.

Although the house is back to normal I'm still trying to kick the sinus stuff.  It's being very stubborn and has left me exhausted. So, this week I'm trying to keep it simple.  Cook once, eat twice, have leftovers and quick and easy will be my go to words this week.

Simple Sesame Noodles and Veggies

Lemon Chicken and Orzo Soup

Dinner in a pumpkin

Spaghetti Squash with Sage, Roasted Garlic and Browned Butter
Roasted Cauliflower


Caprese Lasagna Roll-Ups
Italian Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

Homemade Pizza
Leftover Italian Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

Other things we'll be having:
Pepita Granola with Pumpkin Butter 
Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake
Fauxtisserie Chicken
Overnight Applesauce
Ginger Sweet Potato Muffins

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fresh Spaghetti Sauce

I've been home canning my own spaghetti sauce for years.  I love gathering the last of the tomatoes in the fall and filling up my jars that line my pantry throughout the winter until next year.  The first sauce I used to make was from a dry mix, and although I loved it, it wasn't my husband's favorite. So, the last few summers I've been trying different recipes, searching for "the one." 

The last couple years I made this Tomato-Basil Simmer Sauce which I actually do love, but I also wanted a sauce that was more substantial, something that would stick to the noodles without running off.

 This, my friends, is "THE ONE," the very sauce I will can for the rest of my existence! Ok, well maybe not that long, but I think my search is over. This recipe uses fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes, but also uses just a little canned tomato sauce and paste which allow the sauce to thicken without cooking it to death, thus preserving that fresh tomato taste (and not keeping you in the kitchen all day).

I love the sweet bell peppers in this sauce.  I chose to use only about half green pepper and the rest red.  I find the green ones have a more bitter taste, but any other colored ones (yellow, red or orange) work perfectly. I think next time I will replace all of the green pepper with a different color.

This recipe makes roughly 12 cups, 6 pints.  If you're not a canner, you can also freeze the sauce in 2-4 cup portions in zip-loc freezer bags or freezer safe plastic ware. You could also just half the recipe for short-term use.

Fresh Spaghetti Sauce
makes about 6 pints
8 cups vine-ripened tomatoes (best from the garden), peeled and chopped (about 10-12 large)*
2 cups onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups sweet bell pepper, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 Tbsp. canning salt (if you don't have canning salt, just salt to taste)
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. fennel seed
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
16 oz. tomato sauce
12 oz. tomato paste
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped

Blanch and peel tomatoes.  Pulse in blender until desired "chunkiness" and set aside.  Drizzle a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large stock pot and add chopped onions and peppers.  Saute over medium high heat about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes, garlic and the next 8 ingredients.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in fresh basil.

To can sauce you must use a boiling water bath canner.  Pour hot sauce into hot jars.  Wipe mouth of each jar clean and place a lid and ring on each jar, only screwing lid to finger tightness. Process pint jars 15 minutes.

*To blanch and peel tomatoes, bring a pot of water to a boil and fill the sink with cold water.  Using a knife, serrated works best for me, score the tomato by making an "x." Place as many tomatoes in the pot as will cover the bottom in ONE layer.  Boil for 60 seconds, then ladle them out and immediately put them in the sink filled with cold water. Continue with the rest of the tomatoes.  

You will notice the skins already starting to peel off where they have been scored.  Slip off the skins, they come off easily, and core them and place them in a blender or food processor to chop or puree, whichever you prefer.

Make sure you do enough tomatoes to equal 8 cups, chopped.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Winter Squash Sage and Pine Nut Pizza

One thing I love about our family pizza nights is that we always get to try new things!  Now granted my 4 and 6 year old daughters will eat nothing but cheese pizza, but hubby and I love experimenting.  Pizza is another great way to embrace the flavors of seasons, so that is exactly what I did.  Sage and winter squash are a perfect pairing and get used a lot around this time of year.

Pizza does not have to be boring!  We've had weekly pizza nights (give or take a week here and there) for quite a while now and I never tire of it because were always thinking of something new to put on top.  It's a fun tradition to do with my family that creates memories and a tradition I hope to carry on for a while.

Winter Squash Sage and Pine Nut Pizza
1 recipe Whole Wheat Crust
1 cup butternut squash puree (you can either roast your own squash and puree it or buy it already pureed)
1 small onion, sliced thin
2 tsp. fresh sage leaves, minced
10-12 fresh sage leaves, whole
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
6 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 oz. Parmesan cheese, shredded
1-2 Tbsp. pine nuts
4 Tbsp. butter

Mix dough according to directions.  Allow to rise. 

While dough is rising, caramelize onions.  Drizzle 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil in a saute pan and heat over medium-high heat.  Add onions and allow to cook until translucent and browning; about 10-15 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt the butter. Add whole sage leaves and cook until crisp and butter is browned and has a nutty fragrance.  Remove sage leaves and set aside.

Preheat pizza stone and oven to 450 degrees F.

Stir the squash puree, nutmeg, salt and pepper until mixed well.  Stretch pizza dough over pizza peel dusted with cornmeal or parchment paper.  Spread squash mixture over the top, leaving about 1/2-inch border.  Brush the edges with some of the browned butter.  Top with caramelized onions, minced sage, mozzarella cheese, pine nuts and Parmesan.

Slide pizza into the oven onto preheated pizza stone or an inverted cookie sheet, no need to remove parchment if using, just slide it right in there with the pizza. Bake 8-10 minutes or until top is golden and bubbly. 

Remove pizza from oven and drizzle with some of the remaining browned butter and crisped sage leaves.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Menu Plan Monday-October 2012 (Week 4)

I was all ready to put up a Halloween meal plan but realized it's still not until next week.  Do you have any Halloween meal traditions?  I've tried soup in a pumpkin before without much luck and haven't attempted much since.  Having young children, it's always fun to celebrate everything!  Keeps life exciting don't you think?

I've got lots of comfort food going on this week, I'm so excited!!! I wish I could make it all at once. I think I'm mostly excited about the soup.  We'll see if the kiddos go for it.  One thing I know they're going to love is spaghetti night.  I found a new sauce recipe this summer which I love.  Can't wait to share that!

If you are new this week, recipes that are linked have already been shared on the blog. Other menu items will be shared within a week or so. So if you spy something good, don't forget to come back and visit!

October Menu (Week 4)
Creamy Avocado Pasta
Asian Slaw


Thai Chicken Salad (this is going to happen this week or else!!!)


Lemon and Oregano Roast Chicken
steamed broccoli
Sourdough Baguette (half)
Apple, walnut and feta Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette


Sourdough Baguette (half)
fresh steamed green beans
leftover Apple, Walnut and feta Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette


Vegetable Curry


Yellow Split Pea and Sweet Potato Soup with Pepitas


Family Pizza night

Other Things We'll be having:

Bulgar Tabbouleh
Chocolate Coconut Bread Pudding
Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Pancakes
Baked Oatmeal

Friday, October 19, 2012

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

'Tis the season to make anything apple. I'm always looking for a reason to make a yummy dessert and Sunday night family dinner is no better time. In the fall I crave anything with apple, from pancakes, to oatmeal.

This is a simple dessert with a taste that will blow the socks off of anyone! It may seem like a lot of steps but it really comes together quickly. I used the leftover caramel sauce from these pancakes but feel free to use store bought if you prefer.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
For the crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

For the cheesecake filling:
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the apple topping:
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped 
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg 
For the streusel topping:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour 
1 tsp. cinnamon 
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1/2 cup caramel sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or 2 knives) until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into a 9x13 baking pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned. 
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Then add eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla. Beat to combine. Pour over warm crust. 
In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture.

For the streusel topping,  combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Cut butter until mixture is crumbly and resembles a coarse meal.

Sprinkle streusel topping over apples. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until filling is set. Filling should look a little wiggly in the center but firm everywhere else.  Cheesecake will finish setting once cooled.
Once cooled but still warm, cut into squares, drizzle with caramel sauce and whipped topping, if desired.

SOURCE: Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Crispy Quinoa Sliders

At first glance atf these, I knew I wanted to make them, but was a little apprehensive.  I wasn't sure how my all-of-a-sudden picky eater oldest daughter would handle these and it didn't seem like they would be flavorful enough. 

With my oldest daughter I thought I would pull THIS trick and just serve it to her like it was a regular hamburger and not let her on about it.  Hmm, that didn't work so much.  She looked at it, then looked at me and asked why it was that color.  Needless to say, daughter #1 didn't eat it. Daughter #2 needed a little coaxing and distraction, plus some ketchup dipping action, and she ate hers right up.  Daughter #3 eats just about anything, so we're good there.

Hubby and I actually really loved these.  As it turns out they really are flavorful!  Never underestimate the power of simple ingredients.  It is really key in this recipe to get the patties nice and golden.  It not only helps them stick together, it really adds to the flavor.  I love that these patties are so healthful.  Lots of protein from the beans and quinoa and some good, healthy (and tasty) fats from the olive oil and avocado. I opted for just the avocado rather than the mayo to top my patties, in keeping with the whole foods idea, but top yours however you desire and enjoy!!

Crispy Quinoa Sliders
2 cups quinoa, cooked in chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup cooked white beans
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1/2 small onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 eggs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
12 whole wheat slider buns or dinner rolls
2 avocados, mashed
1/2-1 tsp. chipotle powder

Cook quinoa in chicken or vegetable stock, according to package directions.

Mash avocado and add chipotle powder according to your likeness.  Set aside. 

Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet and saute onions and carrots over medium high heat until soft and onions are translucent.  Add garlic the last 30 seconds of  cooking.  Mash beans and add them to the onion mixture.  Place mixture into a large bowl, along with the cooked quinoa and allow to cool slightly.

Once mixture is cool, add eggs, cheese, bread crumbs, salt and pepper and olive oil. Either using hands or a wooden spoon, stir together until all ingredients are well-incorporated.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add a couple drizzles of olive oil. Once good and hot, make the patties.  I found it easiest to use a large scoop, like a muffin scoop, to make the patties and just just scoop it out right into the pan, flattening it out a little bit with the tips of your fingers.  Add 5-6 quinoa patties, or however many fit in your pan, and cook until DEEPLY golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. If you cook it any less, patties will be too tender and will begin to crumble. Gently flip and cook 5 minutes more. Remove and continue with remaining olive oil and patties.

Serve warm on slider or dinner rolls topped with mashed avocado.  (Feel free to embellish here.  You can add mayo if you like, or my daughter even liked them dipped in ketchup!)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Menu Plan Monday-October 2012 (Week 3)

Well, my friends, as luck would have it, we had a flood in our house mid way through the week last week and had to leave until today. Lucky for us we have family close by we were able to stay with.  But, not so lucky for my menu because I didn't get very far down the list before we had to leave.  I did, however make the quinoa sliders from last week's menu which were absolutely delicious, so keep your eyes open tomorrow for that post.

Since I already have the groceries from last week's menu, I'm keeping those meals the same.  I've thrown in a few others to fill the rest of the week.

 October Menu (Week 3)
Tortilla Soup with Southwest Cabbage Slaw

Bean Curry
Thai Coconut Rice

Pizza with Garlic Bread Crust

Thai Chicken Salad

Ginger-Garlic Salmon
Asian Cabbage Salad

Sesame Noodles

Fresh Tomato-Basil Soup in homemade bread bowls (I will have an updated recipe and add a picture as well to this post-an oldie but a goodie.)

Other things we'll be having:
Baked oatmeal
Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
Apples and Cinnamon Breakfast Quinoa

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Snickers Pancakes

Happy Saturday!  It is high time for a new pancake recipe around here!  Believe me, we still eat plenty of pancakes but I've been mostly sticking to these for convenience. Ever since school started, my oldest just started kindergarten, I feel like a crazy busy woman.  Weird how just one little thing can cause such a dynamic change! So we have been sticking to quick and easy, but healthy too.  Well, except for maybe these this morning.

Now these are not your every day pancakes. They ARE named after a candy bar, so I wouldn't go eating them every day.  But they are much better than a candy bar and not incredibly bad for you either.  With whole wheat flour and oats and just a pinch of added sugar and light on the add-ins, it's only slightly more indulgent than your every day pancakes and syrup.  You're going to love this easy caramel sauce too!!! Divine.

Snickers Pancakes
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
splash of vanilla (optional)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup oats
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (plus more for garnish, if desired)
1/4 cup salted, roasted peanuts, roughly chopped (plus more for garnish, if desired)

Simple caramel sauce (recipe below)

In a mixing bowl, mix buttermilk, eggs, butter and vanilla.  Whisk to incorporate.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined.  Add chocolate chips and peanuts last and stir briefly to combine.

Let batter sit while griddle heats up.  Drop batter by 1/4 cup onto griddle and cook until bubbles start to form and edges start looking dry; about 2-3 minutes.  Flip and cook another minute or two.  Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve warm and garnish as desired.

Simple caramel sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. water
1/3-1/2 cup heavy cream

In a saucepan combine sugar and water over medium heat.  Swirl together rather than stir.  Cook until light brown in color, about 10-15 minutes.  Gently remove from heat and add in cream.  Whisk until well incorporated.  Mixture will bubble profusely the moment you add the cream so be careful, but it should settle down right away. If you have any hardened bits in the pan, just put it over the warm burner again and let it melt back into the mixture.  Store in a small glass jar with a tight fitting lid in the fridge.

SOURCE: Adapted from Minimalist Baker

Friday, October 12, 2012

Book Review: The Healthy Happy Family

I was given the opportunity by my good friend Emily to review her new e-book, The Healthy Happy Family: A Family Guide to a Healthier Home on a Budget. Of course I accepted because she is my friend but I also think it has some wonderful information for those looking to "clean" up their diet.

In their book, Emily and her husband, Derek, discuss how to incorporate whole and natural foods into your diet, tips to getting kids to eat healthy foods, and how to eat a whole foods diet without breaking the bank! If that sounds like what you need, go check it out! You can find Emily at her blog Eat Yourself Healthy and  Happy, and you can find her Ebook on Amazon here. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Vegan Broccoli Soup

Brrrr. This week has brought on the chill! Fall is definitely in the air.  But that makes it no better time to make some warm soup.

I love finding dairy-free options for creamy soups that don't taste....well, weird.  Some dishes can be "vega-fied" by using soy cheeses and such which I am just not a fan of, and it's not just because of their taste.  Remember how I said we've been switching our diet to more whole and plant-based foods and taking out the processed?  Well, although those soy products do not contain dairy, they are still processed, thus not being a whole food and contain...SOY (one of the most genetically modified foods).  So, I try to steer clear of those products.

This delicious soup gets it's creaminess from pureed cashews, which works amazingly well!  And it's even more healthified by tons of broccoli! This fits the bill for me in more ways than one.

 I crave soup practically all the time during the cold months, I'm glad to add another delicious one to my recipe box!

Vegan Broccoli Soup
1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for 1 hour then drained
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 heads of broccoli, chopped into bite-size florets
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tsp. Worcestershire sauce (or vegan Worcestershire)
about 4 cups of water

Soak raw cashews in water for 1 hour.  Drain and puree in blender.  Set aside.

Steam broccoli until fork tender. Drain and set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium heat,  add olive oil, and onions.  Cook until onions are tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for one minute more.  Add cumin, salt, mustard seed, and black pepper and cook for about 30 seconds.  Add cooked broccoli florets, water and cashew cream reduce heat to a simmer.  With an immersion blender blend soup until smooth.  Alternately, you could work in batches and blend it in a blender until smooth.

Add lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

Serve warm.  Soup will last, in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 days. 

SOURCE: Adapted from The Three Day Cleanse via Joy the Baker

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Menu Plan Monday-October 2012 (Week 2)

Here we are heading into the second week of October and it's getting CHILLY!! My heat finally kicked on about two nights ago when the temperature dropped into the 30s, so at least we're staying toasty inside.

You'll notice some more fall-inspired meals on the menu this week (soup!), as well as some that we didn't get to last week (that happens often here-does that happen to you too?). I'm also still including lots of salad!  I love to eat salad all year round but I do eat more cabbage salads in the winter because they are hearty, last forever in your fridge and go so well with Asian-style dressings (which I love). Cabbage is also full of good nutrition too.

You'll also notice lots of breakfast food!  If you haven't been a reader long, you'll quickly find out we are totally breakfast lovers here!  I usually make mostly hot breakfasts almost every morning, including pancakes (fave!), eggs and toast, oatmeal, cream of wheat, granola and oatmeal smoothies.

If you are new this week, recipes that are already on the blog have been linked. The rest will appear within a short time, pending family approval!

October Menu (Week 2)
Creamy Caprese Pasta
steamed broccoli
Grilled Tuscan Panzanella

Quinoa Sliders w/ avocado
leftover Panzanella and veggies
Bean Curry
Thai Coconut Rice

Thai Chicken Salad

Yellow Split Pea and Sweet Potato Soup w/ Pepitas

Ginger-Garlic Salmon
Asian Cabbage

Pesto Pizza with Butternut Squash (this may change, but I do have pesto to use up)

Other things we'll be having:
Cherry Almond Granola
Homemade Burger Buns (whole wheat and slider size)
Grilled Apple Pie Breakfast Stack
Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies
Orange Dark Chocolate Pancakes
Snickers Pancakes

Friday, October 5, 2012

Apple-Sausage Pizza on a Whole Wheat Crust

Nothin' screams fall like apples!  Apples go good with so many things, like cheddar, bacon, chicken sausage, caramelized onion, so why not just throw it all together on a pizza?  Yup, that's what I did....oh so delish.   The whole wheat crust is perfect for this pizza because it can stand up to all those wonderful toppings and still deliver a great taste. 

We have pizza night about once a week and I'm always looking for ways to change it up for the hubs and I.  My girls are not very venturesome when it comes to pizza, so I make one cheese pizza for them and a different one for the "adults."

Apple-Sausage Pizza on a Whole Wheat Crust 
For the crust:
1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. instant yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 cup warm water

Place all ingredients except the water in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Pulse a time or two to evenly distribute everything.  Add water and mix for about 30-60 seconds.  If dough seems too dry, add a little more water, one tablespoon at a time.  If it is too wet, add more flour, about one tablespoon at a time.   Let dough knead for about 8 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.  Place dough in a greased bowl.  Cover lightly with a lid or damp kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in size.

For the pizza:
cornmeal, for dusting
1 recipe whole wheat crust
1 Tbsp. Dijon or coarse-ground mustard
1/2 pound chicken sausage, cooked and crumbled
1 apple (I used Gala), thinly sliced
1/2 onion, thinly sliced and caramelized
4-5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated (I used white cheddar, but not necessary)
1/4-1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

*To caramelize onion, place onion in a frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil and cook on medium to medium-low for about 8-10 minutes or until slightly browned and soft.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  If using a baking stone, place it in the oven as well to preheat.  Dust a pizza peel or parchment paper with cornmeal and roll out pizza dough.

Drizzle olive oil over the top of the crust, and brush around the edges.  Spread the mustard evenly, leaving about 1/2-inch border at the edge.   Top with about 3/4 of the cheddar cheese, sausage, bacon and caramelized onions.  Tuck in the apple slices, then sprinkle with the remaining cheddar cheese and mozzarella.

Slip pizza from the peel onto the hot baking stone, or if you're using parchment paper, just slide it right onto the stone. Alternately you can use and inverted cookie sheet. Bake for about 7-10 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Menu Plan Monday-October 2012 (Week 1)

I've decided to bring the menu plan back to the blog! I think menu planning is an important step to feeding your family healthful, well-rounded meals, as well as keeping you on track with a budget.

When I posted my previous menus, they were monthly menus, but I'm switching to weekly menus.  The main reason is that our diets have changed to include much more plant food (i.e. salads and veggies) so I shop for those more frequently than I would with once a month shopping. The other reason is that if you are new to menu planning it's easier to start small.  At first even taking on a week at a time may sound daunting.  Hopefully you can start getting some ideas and inspiration from the new weekly menu posts and start creating your own!

I'll list mostly our dinner menu and link recipes that are already on the blog. Meals that are not linked will show up hopefully within a week, if it is something our family loved.  I'll also link other things I plan on making.

October Menu (week 1)
Whole Wheat Pasta with Cilantro-Peanut Pesto
fresh corn on the cob

Blackened Salmon Tacos w/ corn salsa
Southwest Cabbage Slaw

Lemon and Oregano Roast Chicken
fresh steamed green beans
Sweet Potato Cakes

Vegan Broccoli Soup
Sourdough baguette

Quinoa Sliders w/ avocado on homemade whole wheat dinner rolls
Italian Salad w/ Basil Vinaigrette

Bean Curry
Thai Coconut Rice

Homemade Pizza (toppings to be determined)

Other things I'll be making
Crunchy Oat Cereal (with almond pulp)
Apples and Cinnamon Breakfast Quinoa
Grilled Apple Pie Breakfast Stack
Cinnamon Rolls
Homemade Peanut Butter

Monday, October 1, 2012

Creamy White Bean and Chicken Sausage Pasta

I'm so glad it's fall!  And can you believe it's already October?  That mean's Halloween is just around the corner, cooler weather and lots of holiday cheer for months to come.  I absolutely love this time of year.  It's my favorite.

One of my most favorite things about fall is the FOOD.  I love not only eating but also making warm, comforting food that makes my belly full and happy.  The great thing about this dish is that it delivers all that plus it's healthy too (minus the bacon). I'm not usually a leftover person, but I ate this for the next two days after I made it, it was that delicious.

Creamy White Bean and Chicken Sausage Pasta
2 cups whole wheat pasta shells
1/2 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 roasted red pepper chopped
1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans
1 Tbsp. butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 can lite coconut milk (or 1 cup full-fat coconut milk plus 1 cup water)
1/2 cup almond milk (not vanilla flavored!)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 lb Chicken Sausage (omit dried apples), cooked and crumbled*
4 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
10-12 fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

*This dish comes together pretty quickly, but to make even more effective use of your time, make and cook the sausage ahead of time.  Keep it warm while you're making the rest of the dish.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil in the pan  and add onions, tossing to coat. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until softened and translucent.  Stir in the garlic the last 30 seconds or so, then toss in the red pepper, beans and chicken sausage.

When pasta is done cooking, drain and add to the skillet with the rest of the ingredients.  Keep it on low while you make the sauce.

In a small saucepan, melt butter.  Whisk in flour.  When it starts to bubble, cook for about a minute.  Whisk in both milks, then bring the mixture to a boil; stirring constantly. Let simmer about 5 minutes, until it thickens a bit.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Remove the bean and pasta mixture off the heat and pour in the sauce, tossing to coat.  Stir in the bacon and spinach and let sit about 5 minute.  The sauce will slightly thicken and get absorbed by the pasta and the spinach will begin to wilt. Toss in the tomatoes and fresh basil at the last minute, right before serving.  Garnish with parmesan cheese.

SOURCE: Adapted from How Sweet It Is
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