Weekly Meal Plan 9/14-9/20

I began writing this post and realized that I wasn’t in fact writing this post at all, but another one that discusses overcommitment and its toll on our spirits. I’ve saved that and set it aside in favor of meeting this particular commitment, albeit a day late. If you don’t see the irony here, you probably need more rest too. ;-)

In all seriousness, my relative persistence in posting a meal plan is very helpful to me personally. I mean, I hope it helps you as well, but really, when I take the time to do it, I am actually planning our meals – something that doesn’t necessarily happen if I don’t sit down and write a post about it. You are keeping me accountable whether you’re using these or not – look how powerful you are! The exercise is also useful because of its unassailably necessary nature. This is not to suggest that we will expire if I don’t make a meal plan, or to indicate that I am completely unrealistic and believe that it is never okay to fly by the seat of your pants for a day or so because you just can’t do one more thing right now. I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m able to make those adjustments from time to time, but when it comes down to brass tacks, we need to eat.

I say it all the time in these meal plans – “here’s what’s going on in our house… but we still need to eat.” No matter what chaos or drama emerges, no matter what the dog eats and requires emergency veterinary intervention for, no matter which car or house part needs fixing or replacing, we need to eat, and when I plan what we eat, all of those other parts work better and are less stressful. It’s a little tiny slice of domestic magic that does not always shine so brightly in the abstract when it’s on a checklist of too many other important things.

So thank you for holding me accountable, reminding me that there IS something I can do right now to make all of our lives easier this week.

Monday: Southwestern Salad, whole wheat bread

Tuesday: Chickpeas, Potatoes, and Tomatoes (very much like this dish); sautéed green beans, bell peppers

Wednesday: Miso Soup, green salad

Thursday: Nutshroom Burgers, veggies for burger toppings, steamed broccoli

Friday: Homemade Pizza (artichokes and onions and no moo for me!), cut veggies

Saturday: Thirty Minute Bean and Bulgur Chili, green salad, rice or taco shells to go with

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with Easiest Tomato Sauce Ever and spinach, green salad

Lunchbox Treats: Homemade Smoothie Pouches (these reusable food pouches are the bomb!) – just search smoothie in the search bar, we’ve got lots

Adult Lunches: Cold Kickin’ Soup (It’s coming. I can feel it.)

Here’s hoping your priorities are clear and well aligned with your values… okay, that’s too much. I hope you have a super week.

Weekly Meal Plan 9/7-9/15

It’s hardly fair to post what my meal plan was for today when 1) it has already occurred and 2) I didn’t have anything to do with planning or preparing it, but oh well. Fair shmair, right? Yes I have young children and have little regard for claims about what is fair at this point… I digress…

So we’re still having a heat wave here in Mid-Maryland, and to be perfectly honest, I’m over it. Maybe not as over it as all of the trees and bushes in my yard, but I’m over it nonetheless. I’ve had to dessert my usual total disregard for watering plants other than food generators in the interest of maintaining the living privacy protectors and clean air generators around me. I simply focus on different plants every day and hope it’s enough. The rain barrel will run dry soon, however, so do a little rain dance or something. I’m sure I’m not the only one who could use it. Perhaps if we all did it together? In the meantime I’m going to need to whip up a kid friendly plan this week as Mr. Little Sis will be traveling a great deal and I am simply not up to challenging their palates as much when I don’t have any reinforcements available. Kid friendly food it is!

Monday: Cookout at Sweetie Dad and Super Stepmom’s

Tuesday: Veggie-Full Picadillo (Big Sis’ new innovation on an old favorite), green salad

Wednesday: Tacos (with leftover Picadillo and lots of chopped veggies)

Thursday: Zucheesey Noodles, Broccoli, Green Salad

Friday: Sprouted Pizza Bagels, cut veggies. The ultimate cheat. I buy sprouted grain bagels and the kids make pizza bagels with them. They’re happy; I’m happy. Win Win.

Saturday: Gazpacho, Avocado Toast, Kale salad

Sunday: Homemade pasta with pesto, Spinach salad

Lunchbox Treats: Homemade Applesauce

Adult Lunches: Leftovers, Baked Tofu (I got a deal on some tofu and need to use it up – sounds sinister doesn’t it? “Psst. Hey, you, you want some tofu? I got a deal for you.”

Here’s hoping all your meals are met with great anticipation and equally great praise and that all of your tofu is purchased from legitimate but reasonable retailers.

Very Veggie-ful Piccadillo

If you are saying pica-what o?, then please read on.

If you are saying MORE veggies in piccadillo?, then please read on.

If you have lost all interest then perhaps reading on would still work because I am going to get to a recipe, AND it is quite delicious and healthy.  Who can resist that siren song? ;-)

The story (and eventual recipe begins with moving into a new house.  I am afraid that my ability to judge what is in the pantry is based on years of experience of having lots of things IN the pantry.  This ability under new circumstances has disappeared and I seem to be missing lots of ingredients.  However, although some people have different ideas, it would seem that poor planning is the mother of my invention and at this point I must make lemons from lemonade (that’s a trick) and share this recipe that exists because I was lacking a few things.  Or, I could skip the whole thing and go to McDonalds!  HA!  Just kidding!  That would be a waste of time, money, calories and carbohydrates my friends….

Piccadillo is a cuban chili that, along with the regular chili stuff you’d expect, boasts the flavors and textures of almonds, raisins, green olives and cinnamon.

Do you really need anything else? Shall we just eat now?

It is a delicious combo and a family favorite.  However, with no lentils in the house, and no ground meat (not doing much of that these days), I needed a way to use the other ingredients, feed folks, and not totally screw up my resurrected meal planning system.



20150905_202021-001Zucchini, onions, and quinoa to the rescue.  This trio does not exactly sound heroic, but one can go many places with zucchini, onions and quinoa, and apparently Cuba is on the map!

My original piccadillo post is here, but if you’d like more veggies and less beans or meat – try this one!

Roasted Veggie Piccadillo

1 – 2 Sweet onions
3 – 4 zucchini
1 Tbsp high heat oil (I used avocado)
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 large bell pepper of any color
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes undrained – or about 1.5 cups diced tomatoes if you have fresh.
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1/2 cup dry sherry (optional)
1 & 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 & 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dry mustard
1 & 1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
1 – 1.5 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 – 1 cup raisins
1 cup coarsely chopped stuffed green olives (In all my coarseness, I simply chop in half)
1 cup toasted almonds
1 – 2 cups dry quinoa (or rice – quinoa is higher in protein)

Pre-heat oven to 400
Chop onions and zucchini into bite sized chunks.  Toss with 1 Tbsp oil and spread on cookie sheet
Roast for 30 – 45 minutes, stirring a couple of times throughout.  Salt and pepper to taste.
While onions and zucchini are roasting, saute garlic in a little oil.
Add chopped peppers and saute for about 5 minutes
Add spices and heat briefly stirring
Add tomatoes, paste, and sugar
Simmer for 5 – 10 minutes
Prepare quinoa according to package directions (or rice)
Add roasted veggies when tender and a bit browned
Simmer for 5 – 10 minutes more
Add olives, raisins and almonds
Simmer for 5 or so more minutes
Serve over quinoa or rice or all alone!

20150901_184512-001Enjoy and tell us where your necessary deviations from the recipe have taken you!!

Weakly Meal Plan

And that is no typo. Despite my best intentions (it being the new school year and everyone being so Gung Ho about all new and resumed ventures… I have run into a stumbling block, and for once it is not one of my own devising. My dear refrigerator has decided that this second week of school is a good time to crap out. It’s not completely fatal, but I am, unfortunately, not equipped to handle the problem. This puts a significant cramp in my meal plan planning. While I doubt the plan I’m about to offer is the most appealing you’ve ever seen, those of you with adequate domestic experience will doubtless recognize it as “one of those weeks.” Here’s hoping all of your appliances are sturdy and easy to fix.

Monday: Leftovers (to prevent waste while fridge is not cold), cut veggies

Tuesday: Potato Squashers, Sunflower Cheese, green salad

Wednesday: Pakistani Lentil Kima

Thursday: Slow and Simple Tortillas, Rice and Beans

Friday: Homemade pizza

Saturday: Dinner with friends

Sunday: Homemade pasta with pesto

Lunchbox Treats: Nut Butter Bliss Balls

Adult Lunches: Salad until the greens run out or the fridge gets fixed


Fast Healthy Breakfasts to Start the School or Work Day

It is so lovely to wake up without an alarm, eat when hungry and at the pace desired.  Ahhhh.  It happened a lot for my son this summer (who had his first summer job and so not everyday), some for Mr. Bigg Sis, and even a little for me.

Despite the beauty of the changing leaves and crisp air and fresh apples, it is a sad fact of Autumn that the opportunities for this type of morning generally are less frequent.  However, as a former teacher, as a mother, and as a human who wakes up hungry, I can attest to the fact that a healthy breakfast sustains better performance in, and appreciation of work and school.  But who has time to make a healthy breakfast?  I thought you might enjoy a list of the fast but healthy breakfast ideas we have shared over the last several years….. and there were quite a few!  This list does not include our many pancake recipes as they do take more time.  I do recommend however that if you make pancakes or french toast on the weekend, make a lot and freeze the leftovers on a tray or plate.  When frozen, remove from plate and place in a plastic bag in the freezer for a supply of fast breakfast during the week!

However, these all are fast, or can be put together the night before and, of course are made from wholesome, healthy ingredients that will keep you and your family members running on full steam until lunch!  Enjoy and please share any fast breakfast tips that you use :-)

Breakfast Ice Cream or Creamy Smoothies For All

Quick Sweet Potato Brekkie & Open Summer Sammie Brekkie  IMG_0097





Barley for Breakfast – 3 varieties

Quinoa & Oats breakfast / Quinoa & Buckwheat Groats breakfast

Crockpot Oatmeal

Veggies & Oats

Sweet Potato, Apple, Oat Nuclear Incident  1108130629-001






Sweet Potato & Rice

Pumpkin Apple Oats in the Crockpot


 Chocolate Crockpot Oats





Buckwheat Breakfast Bowl

Head out the door with something hearty in your belly that does not lead to a sugar crash, headache, fatigue or hunger pangs in a few short hours.  And enjoy all of the benefits of the end of summer and the beginning of a cool, crisp autumn!

Weekly Meal Plan Returns!

That time has come. The end of the summer and beginning of school. The peak of the season for so much fresh produce; the beginning of cool evenings. Fall is coming, but it’s really not quite here yet. Perfect. My twin third graders return to school with new backpacks full of new supplies, new lunch boxes, and no small amount of hope. In honor of their rapidly increasing maturity, which sometimes shows itself in less than pleasant ways, I am doing an experiment. Today as we ate Sunday lunch I polled the table and gave each member the opportunity to suggest a meal for the upcoming week. Sure way to get some buy in at meal time, right? Right?! I’ll let you know how that goes. In the meantime, I’ll share with you our plan for the upcoming week.

Monday: Yellow Split Pea and Green Onion Lettuce Wraps from my latest cook book acquisition, Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook, baked tofu, pickled carrots and green beans (my pick and it seems to me the best one for the hot day we’re going to have tomorrow)

Tuesday: Zucchini “Crab” Cakes, Grilled Corn, Tomato and Nectarine Salad

Wednesday: Chickpea and Cashew Tikka Masala (Little Man’s choice, and yes, that makes me really happy),sautéed green beans, green salad

Thursday: Lentil Casserole (Ms. Picky Pants’ choice – on Thursday because it’s not going to be as hot that day), steamed broccoli, green salad

Friday: homemade pizza, cut veggies

Saturday:  Baked Falafel from Angela Liddon’s The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Over 100 Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out cookbook, which I can’t recommend enthusiastically enough), falafel fixings and chopped veggies

Sunday: homemade pasta with raw spinach and fresh pesto, green salad

Lunchbox Treats: Summer’s End Zucchini Bread (because I still have about 25 pounds of zucchini sitting on the counter, even after the “crab” cakes

Adult Lunches: kale and romaine salads with miso dressing (because it’s been a long and unruly summer – we’ll be having a lot of salads for a little while to slim down for winter… wait… I think we’re doing it wrong)

May all your nights be cool and clear and all of your first days be joyful! Eat well, be well friends.

Meatless Sandwich – Hear Me Roar

4GSKuPPZVqQRwVbEmMFkE0Mo0yNTlbVkXOzQrIa7I5M=w1112-h625-no-001I am sandwich, hear me roar

Meat, cheese and bread that’s what I’m for……

Well….. that doesn’t HAVE to be the case.  Who needs meat to make a sandwich?

There is of course the classic pb&j, but for the more savory seekers, or for the adult who wants to pretend he/she doesn’t really like pb&j, there are many alternatives.

Recently we moved into a new house that is a bit closer to Little Sis – like 640 miles closer (Yay!!).  So close in fact that we can plan outings, choose one of the 4 parents to hang with kids (Thank you Mr. Little Sis) and go see our fabulously talented niece in a play.  It was my job to bring dinner for myself, Mr. Bigg Sis and Little Sis to eat in the car as the outing involved traveling at dinner time.

New house, new frig, not all of the ingredients present that would allow me to fall back on something like hummus, so I threw together some chicken salad type ingredients with white beans and cashews instead.  The roosters in the neighborhood are still crowing and eating up the bugs in our yard. Good deal, huh?

This spread was a hit with the theater adventurers and was great the next day on a plate with greens.  Slathered on ezekiel bread was much easier for the car and it held together very well so that we did not embarrass our niece with beans spots.

Never Bean There Sandwich Spread (enough for 4 sandwiches)

1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup raw cashews
Juice from 1 lemon
1 Tbsp dijon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 – 1/2 cup diced celery (I use 1/2 cause I like it crunchy)
salt and pepper to taste

Place the cashews, lemon juice and dijon in a high power blender or try a food processor.  You can soak raw cashews for 4 – 6 hours to make them blend into a creamier substance but I did not and it was fine.

Do not worry about making the mixture completely smooth, you just want the final result to hang together and not fall into your lap.  If you double the recipe the blending of the cashews is also a bit easier.   And leftovers are ALWAYS a good idea.

Mash the beans a bit in a bowl and then add in the blender mash, celery and spices.  Mix.

Slather on bread with a little of your favorite spread – or naked!  Tomatoes are also an excellent addition.

Ny25OwbSj-4PDLHuo0XAiXf5kCyZNNmqB7HRI2qM5xM=w1112-h625-no-001Now that we’ve moved, you get to see pix taken on a new counter top… and there will be much more frequent posts.  Sorry for the absence!  Finishing school and moving have been rather consuming :-)


What kind of meatless sandwiches are your favorite?

Weekly (well mostly) Meal Plan 7/13-7/19

So, yeah, you might have noticed I haven’t done this for a while. Sorry about that. I mean it – I’m really sorry. We have been in the best kind of whirlwind with school ending, quite a bit of traveling, home renovations, big positive decisions, and friends having babies. See what I mean? Okay, without details it probably doesn’t sound like a lot, but I can assure you that you wanted no part of any meal plan I might have been able to offer these past few weeks.

And now we are home. I have beaten back the weeds (and the cucumbers which were choking the tomatoes) in the garden. I have reclaimed the patio from the weeds and moss (um hello, what is with all the freaking rain?!) and mowed the lawn several times. I’ve done the loads of laundry that result from travel and chaos. I’ve gotten the kids working on the summer math program their school (insert curse words anywhere in the preceding phrase for accuracy) recommended over the summer to prevent summer learning loss. I’ve earned the dog’s forgiveness for his first kennel experience and I’ve admitted that it’s possible that I’ve endured yet another hormone shift that makes my metabolism something less than the wonder that it used to be. As you can see, much of my business has been internal and a little crazy. It’s okay to think it. I’m aware. But I’m home. And I’m finding my compass. And all is well, and in fact better for having visited amazing seashores, distant relatives, friends who are chosen family, and discovered that my kids are actually funny and interesting people. Funny and interesting people who still need to eat, so in order to cease this unrequested and unwarranted vomitous revelation, I shall get on with planning the week of the return to normalcy.

Monday: Lentil Casserole, sauteed zucchini, green salad, zucchini bread for dessert

Tuesday: Zucchini “Crab” Cakes, Grilled Corn, Sauteed Green Beans

Wednesday: Power Tabbouleh; Lentils, Potatoes, and Tomatoes; Green Salad

Thursday: Dinner at Beans in the Belfry before singing a little

Friday: Homemade pizza, cut veggies

Saturday: Zucchini boats with quinoa and vegan sausage (I’ll let you know and yes, we have a LOT of zucchini this year)

Sunday: Homemade pasta, pesto, green salad

Lunchbox Treats: HAHAHAHAHA! Okay, I will be toting some zucchini bread bits around.

Adult Lunches: These now include the children and I’m realizing my planning is entirely inadequate in this arena. More on this topic later, maybe… we’ll see.

I sincerely hope you’ve been having as much fund as I have and have perhaps been faced with exactly the number of life altering decisions that you are comfortable with. Eat well, be well friends.

Homemade weed killer

I used to spray Round-up on a myriad of undesirables…. poison ivy, ailanthus trees (known in some optimistic places as ‘tree of heaven’ and some realistic ones as ‘stink tree’), and dandelions.  Round Up was touted as safe for the environment and gardens.  Well, apparently that was hooey (to be optimistic) or lies covering up a cancerous agent, and since then Monsanto has been hauled up in the court of public opinion and found wanting in oh so many ways, ethics being the main deficit.

So when Super-Step Mom was looking for a better way to kill weeds in the gravel driveway, we did a little asking around, a little searching and settled on an easy formula that has indeed done the trick!  I can not find the original recipe that I followed (sorry whoever you were) but there are MANY versions of this out there.  Here is one that is close: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/158400111867245686/

Here is what I used:

Natural and Cheap Herbicide

1 gallon of white vinegar
1 cup of salt
1 Tbsp of liquid dish soap

Combine all ingredients in a bucket and stir until the salt is dissolved and the soap is dispersed and not clumpy.  Pour into your favorite sprayer – I like this one because I look like the tough chick from ‘Alien’

G8oGPqxQhi0dVw3q2M9AEhTCMFa92Lfa5PUkl6-1-Ig=w333-h592-noWell, maybe a little……

Spray only on plants you want to kill!!  This is not a good middle of your garden bed spray because apparently it will be awhile before anything grows back.  We used it to keep the gravel driveway mostly gravel ;-)


It works best when the sun is shining on the plant and although the website said it could take a couple of days, it took hours for the plants in the sun to reach the sorry looking state you see above.  How wonderful to find yet another way to decrease the nastier chemicals in the world, save money and get the job done!!!

For some other kinder, gentler gardening mixtures check out our post ‘Gentle Garden Arsenal

Eat well, be well & garden well!

Squash Browns (sounds like Hash Browns)

I saw this term somewhere recently and thought, “Hmmmm.”  Now there’s a good idea.  Substituting squash for potato and cutting down on the grease sounds great.  But how to do that and still have some crispiness?  And how to do that without standing over a hot stove in the middle of the summer?  And can I actually make this for breakfast?

I think I have a good answer for 2 of those dilemma and even though I’m not a fan of gastronomic or musical meatloaf, ‘2 out of 3 ain’t bad’.  In fact it’s actually good if it get’s more veggies on the table with less effort.

As far as not standing over a hot stove goes, there is nothing like roasting.  It still gets hot near that oven, but I am not standing there!  I chop, drizzle or coat with oil and spices, put it in the oven and move on to some other task, even if it is sitting down with some PMS tea….. all by myself….. wonder why no one is sitting with me?

As far as the crispiness goes…. my son recently found a bag of packaged croutons in the pantry.  Ooooh – like crack to someone who doesn’t get white bread.  I mean, really they are almost like Dorito’s – crispy with flavor powder sprinkled on top.  He keeps asking to have salads, so there is a definite silver lining to that cloud, but the idea of croutons jumped out as a crispy addition to squash browns and they can be made the same way as roasted vegetables, using your bread and spices of choice:  Chop, drizzle or coat with oil and spice, pop in the oven and walk away…. although not for as long!!

As for the making it for breakfast, well it depends on how much time you have, but as this recipe happens at high heat, it doesn’t really take that long.

So, I give you my version of Squash Browns

1 sweet onion (I used a rather large onion because I love onion – your choice!)
2 medium tender yellow squash
2 slices of Ezekiel bread or other whole grain, hearty bread
garlic salt and/or garlic pepper and/or seasonings you’d like to try
1 – 2 Tbsp high heat oil like avocado

Pre-heat oven to 450
Chop onions, yellow squash and bread into squares
20150630_173027 Now, I tossed them all together and ended up removing the bread during roasting because bread browns much more quickly than squash and onions, so…..
Toss your onions and squash with 2/3 of the oil and spices
Place on tray and place in the oven for about 15 – 20 minutes.  Roasting time depends on how big you cut your chunks and your taste in tenderness and browning.

While the squash and onions are roasting, toss the bread cubes with oil and spices, then go drink your tea :-)
When your squash and onions are getting close to tender and brown, add the bread cubes and stir it all together.
Continue roasting to taste, but it’s really good if you stir once and let the bread cubes get crispy on several sides.



It will take another 5 – 10 minutes to brown the bread.

Eat it up, nice and hot, maybe things aren’t as bad as you thought
– Garrison Keillor’s rhubarb pie song from A Prairie Home Companion radio show.

It’s not rhubarb pie, but I thought these were awesome.  One of the squash I used was a little tough on the outside and this does not translate so well into the roasting process (unless you peel it and I am an anti-peeler), so I highly recommend using tender young summer squash for this.  I did my experimenting with this recipe in the evening, so we did not have it as part of a healthy breakfast, but!  It certainly could be….. in fact today is Friday, so there are 2 mornings where I’ll have a little more time, maybe we’ll try them out on Sweetie Dad and Super-Step-Mom.  It’s a great way to start,                                or end,the day.20150630_180427Veggies, veggies, veggies, veggies, veggies, veggies, veggies.  Eat well and be well friends!