What it's all about:

Each week I will put together an easy, kid friendly menu for a week's worth of meals, cooking tips and a shopping list so all you have to do is go to the store. It's an online support system to help you eat better and easier.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 2 - Garlic Chicken, Pork Stir fry, Chicken Casserole & Chili

First off, I apologize that this is technically a week late! I ended up miserably sick last week and couldn't drag myself out of bed for anything! 

This week's meals are pretty basic, although there are a few things in the pork stir fry that may not be in your regular pantry supply. They're pretty easy to find though and definitely make the dish a little different, I think so anyway.

Garlic Chicken with Sweet Potato & Steamed Broccoli

For this particular set of recipes, I would recommend cooking the garlic chicken for that evening since it’s best hot out of the oven. For the other dishes, cook the rice and prep the pork stir fry to cook later, it only takes about 10 minutes total to stir fry. Then make the casserole and chili, saving those for another night.

Slice and bake two chicken breasts at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until done. Chop & set aside.
Make 1 cup rice in rice cooker (or on stove).

Mama’s Beer Chili
Heat 2 tbs Olive oil over medium heat, add onion and cook for 5 minutes, add 4 cloves minced garlic, cook two more minutes. Add 2 lbs of ground beef and sauté until just brown. Drain and add to crockpot.
Also add:
28 oz can Crushed Tomatoes
1 cup beer (I’ve used anything from Budlight, to Sam Adams, to Sweetwater 420)
3 tbs Chili powder
1 tsp curry powder
3 tbs hot sauce
1/3 cup honey
10 oz frozen corn
1 can kidney beans
1 can diced chilies
3 beef bullion cubes
2 tbs flour to thicken
Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve with sour cream & cheddar cheese.

Pork Stir Fry
Slice the pork loin into strips. Wash green beans and cut ends off. Store and refrigerate for cooking later in the week.   When you’re ready to cook, heat rice that was already made, then:

Heat 1 tsp veggie oil and add pork, 2 cloves garlic and ¾ lbs green beans all at once. I know the recipe online says to do the pork first, but if you do that, then by the time the beans are tender, the pork will be overdone. Throw it all in together and cook until the pork is no longer pink. 5-7 min.
Then push the pork & beans to one side and add:
2 tsp sugar                                                   2 tsp soy sauce
½ tsp crushed red pepper                            1 tsp ground ginger (calls for fresh but I never have that)
1 tsp sesame oil                                           1 tsp rice vinegar

Stir to coat meat and beans, remove from heat, and serve over rice

King Ranch Chicken Casserole
Dice one small onion and one green bell pepper, set aside.

In a medium bowl combine:
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cups chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers

Grease 9x13 casserole dish. Layer 6 corn tortillas on the bottom. Cover with ½ the cooked, chopped chicken, ½ of the diced onion, ½ of the diced pepper, and half a cup of cheddar cheese. Pour ½ the soup mix over the top. Layer 6 more tortillas and repeat the layers of chicken, onion, pepper and WAIT! Not cheese! Add the last of the soup mix and then top with remaining cheese! (I occasionally do it backwards, still cooks just fine) Sprinkle 1 ½ tsp chili powder and 1 tsp garlic salt over the top of the casserole. Cook at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until heated through. Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat.

Garlic Chicken
This is one that I short cut a lot and add to frequently. I don’t heat the oil with garlic, I just stir it in and let it sit for a few minutes. I also occasionally use plain bread crumbs and add my own spices.

Calls for four chicken breasts.
In a medium bowl combine ½ olive oil with 2 cloves minced garlic.
In a shallow plate combine ¼ Italian bread crumbs and ¼ grated Parmesan. I like the panko brand bread crumbs because they’re extra crispy and I usually use fresh Parmesan, which you can find in the deli section with the ‘fancy’ cheeses.
Dip chicken into olive oil and then roll in bread crumbs/cheese. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

While this is baking, peel and slice sweet potatoes, set to boil. Wash, chop and steam the broccoli.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Super Easy Appetizer

I will admit that I am mildly addicted to allrecipes.com. I always find what I need there.

Here is a super easy appetizer recipe.

You need:
8 oz Cream Cheese - softened
18 slices salami (more is always better)
Jar of pepperoncini peppers, drained (if you can find the ones that come sliced, that saves time)

Spread the softened cream cheese on the salami, top with a couple pepperoncini slices, roll and secure with toothpick.

If you can only get the whole pepperoncini I typically just cut the top off and roll it up as is. But we are big fans of the 'cini, so it may be too much for your crowd. Then I would just slice in half lengthwise and use half per roll.

If you end up getting huge salami slices, I spread the cream cheese, and then cut them in half before rolling with the pepperoncini 


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Week 1 - Chicken Soup, Pork Chops, Chili Mac n Cheese, Pesto Pasta Salad

Here's the thing about my normal weekly cooking. Friday's is pizza night in my house and I definitely recommend giving yourself one night off if you can. Pizza, Chinese, Sushi take out (we do that a lot!) anything that doesn't involve kitchen time and is a little more fun. So the plan here is four meals, with two nights of leftovers and one night of Pizza or whatever.

It's an allrecipe kind of week so here are the links to the recipes for this post and the shopping list. I have a few things listed at the bottom under 'make sure you have'. These are things like olive oil and some spices that you would probably have on a regular basis, but it's always good to make sure you have it before you head to the store.

Shopping List


(over rice with green beans on the side)

Step by Step (print version of everything below)

To put this all together quickly in one afternoon here's how I would approach it. The pork chops would be served that evening. The Chili Mac N Cheese, soup and pasta caprese prepped for later.

Slice the raw chicken into strips, add salt & pepper, spray with olive oil (keeps it from drying on top), and bake at 350 for approx 15-20 minutes or until done.

Cook 1 cup of rice in the cooker (or on the stove if that’s your preference).

Put two pots of pasta on to boil; The 8 oz of macaroni and the 1.5 cups of rotini.

While all of that is cooking:

In small bowl #1
Chop ½ cup onion
Chop ½ cup celery

In medium bowl #2
Slice 1 cup carrots
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried oregano

In large bowl #3
½ cup halved grape tomatoes
½ cup (generous ½  cup) mozzarella balls
¼ tsp granulated garlic
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 basil leaves finely sliced.
4-5 Tbsp. pesto (the recipe calls for 3, I didn't think that was enough and added more, it’s up to you)
1 Tbsp olive oil

In large Bowl #4
1 Can Hormel Chili with beans
1.5 cups salsa
1 medium green pepper chopped
1 tbsp chili powder
1.5 cups Marble Jack cheese

Chili mac n cheese
When the macaroni is done, drain and add it to the chili and salsa (bowl #4). Pour mixture into a greased 9x13 casserole dish and top with remaining ½ cup of marble jack cheese. You can either cover and refrigerate it to cook it later, or bake at 350 for 20 minutes. If you refrigerate, it may take a little longer than 20 minutes but you don’t want to overcook (recipe online says 35 minutes, which is too long) or the pasta gets very dry. Serve with sour cream and optional cilantro.

Pasta Caprese
When the Rotini is done, drain and add it to the tomato and mozzarella (bowl #3). To this add approx. ½ lb of chopped cooked chicken.

Chicken Soup
Chop the remainder of the cooked chicken and add to bowl #2.

Here you can either put the soup together and then refrigerate to reheat later as needed, or cover and refrigerate bowls 1 & 2 and put the soup together another night.

In a large pot, melt 1 tbsp butter. Add the onions and celery from bowl #1 and sauté for approx. 5 minutes. Add 4 cans chicken broth and 1 can vegetable broth, bowl #2 (carrots and chicken), 1.5 cups of egg noodles and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until pasta is done. Don't overdo egg noodles, they turn to mush pretty quickly.

Pork with Black beans
Season chops with pepper.
In a large pan, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium high heat.
Cook chops until just brown, 3-4 min per side.
Add can of Black beans with liquid and 1 cup salsa.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20-35 min until pork is done. (length of time depends on thickness of chops)
Add frozen green beans to pot of water and boil for approx. 10 minutes.
Serve chops & beans over rice with green beans on the side.

All of this done at once will take around an hour and a half.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Little Intro


I wanted to give a little background on me and what I'm attempting to do here.

My name is Jessica and I am a working mama. I have two small daughters. My oldest is 3 and my youngest will be a year old in just a few weeks.

There are a lot of days that just getting them picked up, home, fed, bathed and in bed seems overwhelming, on top of the other things that have to happen: laundry, cleaning, cooking, groceries, the dog, etc.

What makes my life a little easier is having a plan for meals during the week and if I can get them cooked ahead of time, that takes such a burden off in trying to feed to small, tired kids before bedtime.

Essentially this is me trying to find some personal accountability and my hope is that in providing a source of planned meals, shopping lists and cooking plans for others, I'll do it myself.

The goal is a weekly menu of kid friendly, easy, mostly healthy recipes (with some comfort food thrown in) that you can make ahead of time and either cook the day you need it, or cook ahead of time and eat it through the week.

In addition, some cooking tips and instructions for prepping ahead of time, which I do Sunday afternoon's during the glorious two hour window of afternoon nap time for my girls. Although, my oldest is a 'helper' and loves to cook with me, so I do sometimes save some things for her to do with me as a post nap activity.

Here are a few things that I consider essential and will frequently reference:

A really big crockpot (6 quart). 

A rice cooker (I hate making rice on the stove).

A steamer.

These are not gourmet meals. Some nights it's marinated chicken, rice and a steamed veggie, other nights it's a casserole, and there will be a lot of crockpot meals. Mostly they're not fancy although I might throw one in occasionally if it was something the girls were willing to eat. This is not intended to be a place for fancy dining, this is every day stuff. Green bean casseroles, chili's and really fast soups that don't take a lot of work. I use several meal sites including allrecipes.com, food.com and a few others that are readily accessible including other blogs that I follow. I very rarely make up my own recipes but should that happen, let me know what you think!

For those who have time for fancy meals and lots of prep, I am envious, and I miss those days where my husband and I would plan a 'date' and cook together. I'm sure those days will come again and at that time I'll miss the hectic schedule that is a part of raising babies, but I think we're a ways off from that right now.

Thank you for visiting