23 Nov

meal plan graphic 11/23/14


Hello Friends!

Are you ready for another week of dinner ideas?

I sure hope so because I’ve got our meal plan all ready to share with you.

I hope it gives you some ideas for the upcoming week.


1. Dinner Out - There is a place about a block away from us that makes great burgers and shakes. My son has been asking to go for a while and since both kids had great progress reports, we figure they deserve it.

2. White Chicken Chili – I’ve had this recipe pinned for a while but never got around to trying it out. It’s been pretty cold here in the evenings (okay… it’s cold for us Floridians) so I think a big bowl of this chili will be perfect.

white chicken chiliphoto credit


3. Pizza – Easy peasy

4. Black Bean and Sweet Potato Flautas – I love sweet potatoes in enchiladas, burritos, tacos, you name it! And I love flautas so I’m really looking forward to trying these out. Cam and I will make a big bowl of guacamole for dipping and maybe a side of cilantro lime rice.

sweet potato black bean baked flautas 450 watermarkphoto credit


5. Thanksgiving – My favorite meal of the year! We’ll be having turkey with all the trimmings and celebrating my mom’s birthday over at my parents house. My dad always does all of the cooking and every year we end up taking home lots of leftovers so I didn’t need to plan any dinners for the rest of the week.

6. Thanksgiving Leftovers

7.  Thanksgiving Leftovers – Yep, you guessed it. And no, I don’t try to recycle them into something new and make a brand new meal out of them. I love them just as they are. In fact, I usually eat them for lunch and dinner until we run out. I’m not the only one who does this, right?

19 Nov

macaroni & cheese


I came up with two pretty cool ways to re-purpose leftover macaroni and cheese over the weekend that I just had to share with you guys.

First, let’s talk about spicy mac & cheese grilled cheese sandwiches.

We all know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich so I won’t get super detailed. There are a few extra steps with this sandwich but if you’re a fan of spicy food and delicious flavor, it’s worth it. Promise.

To make a spicy macaroni and cheese grilled cheese sandwich you’ll need:

  • bread
  • butter
  • pepper jack cheese
  • macaroni and cheese
  • jarred jalapenos or your favorite hot pepper
  • your favorite hot sauce (optional)


1. Butter two slices of bread.

2. Add a slice of pepper jack cheese to the unbuttered side of each slice of bread.

3. Add macaroni and cheese to one slice of bread and top with peppers and hot sauce.

4. Close up the sandwich and cook as you would a regular grilled cheese.

5. Get it into your mouth.

Can you tell I have a thing for spicy foods?


The second way I was able to re-purpose that leftover mac and cheese was in some yummy garlic and herb rolls. I used some frozen bread dough that I already had in my freezer and that made this little culinary project super easy.

These mac and cheese rolls have been going into my kids’ lunch boxes this week and so far, I haven’t gotten any complaints.

To make the macaroni and cheese rolls you’ll need:

  • Homemade bread dough, store-bought bread dough, even pizza dough works
  • macaroni and cheese
  • minced garlic
  • herbs – whatever you like
  • butter
  • shredded cheese


1. Once your dough has risen (follow directions on packaged dough) and is ready to work with, flour your counter and use a rolling-pin to roll it into as close to a rectangular shape as you can get it.

2. Brush on 2 tbsp of softened butter. I just use my fingers to spread it around.

3. Sprinkle on garlic, herbs, salt and pepper.

4. Top with macaroni and cheese. Use your fingers to break it apart so you get even coverage.

5. Sprinkle on shredded cheese. I used colby jack because it’s what I had but anything goes here.

6. Starting on the long end, carefully roll the dough into a log. It will be tricky at first but gets easier as you go, and make sure it’s sitting seam-side down.

7. Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into one inch slices. They don’t need to be precise. Just remember that the dough needs to rise one more time and will puff up even more once baked.

8. Add the slices to a large baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray, cover with a towel, and let rise until doubled in size. *

9. Brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter and bake at 400 degrees until golden brown on top or follow package directions for baking.


I hope you’ll try one of these ideas out the next time you have some leftover macaroni and cheese sitting around in your refrigerator. Be sure to come back and tell me what you think!


* My dough wouldn’t rise so I turned the oven on warm and then turned it back off, set my pan of rolls in there, and forgot about them for an hour or so. When I came back to check on them, they had risen beautifully. So if your dough won’t rise, try that trick. Just remember not to leave your oven on warm. Let it come up to temp, and then turn it off.






18 Nov

meal plan graphic

So I’ve been going back and forth over this idea for a while.

The idea being that I occasionally share our dinner menu for the week with you guys. I can’t guarantee that I’ll have a meal plan posted every week because life and general laziness will surely get in the way, but I’ll do my best.

My goal with this post is to inspire those of you who find yourselves stumped from time to time with what to put on the table and to show you that you can feed your family well without going broke in the process.

I’m not sure why it took me so long to just go for it but I figure we’ll give it a try and see how it goes.

I think we can all handle something new on this blog and if not, we’ll get through it together!

A few things you should know before we start:

I usually budget around $50 per week for dinners so if you’re looking for inexpensive meals, you’ve come to the right place!

Even though my grocery budget is tight, and it can be tempting to grab a box of “Helper” or a “Cream of Something” soup, I’m not okay with all of the chemicals that go into that stuff and frankly, I don’t care for the way they taste so you won’t find any of those products included in my meal plans.

We do not eat meat every night.

I’m not brand loyal or store loyal. I go where the sales are.

I don’t like to eat the same meals all the time. I love food and I love trying new dishes so I’m always checking in with my favorite bloggers as well as Pinterest for recipe inspiration. If I’ll be using a recipe found elsewhere, I’ll post a link to the original recipe.

I always plan my meals based on what I already have in my kitchen and what’s on sale that week. Your totals will obviously differ based on how many people you’re feeding, your local ads, and which ingredients you have on hand.

I plan six meals per week. One day each week we usually eat leftovers or pick up a pizza or something.

I’m feeding two adults, one ravenous teenage boy, and a little girl every night. None of us have any dietary restrictions or food allergies.

Lastly, I don’t plan meals for certain days simply because I may not be in the mood to make or eat a particular meal when its assigned day rolls around. So rather than list meals by day, I’ll just number them.

Okay, I think that just about covers it. Ready to get into this meal planning business?

Let’s do it!

On the menu this week:

1. B.E.A.S.T.’s (bacon, egg, avocado, spinach and tomato sandwiches)

Like a B.L.T. but with much more personality. I’ve got some sweet potato fries in the freezer that will go nicely along side these sandwiches.

2. Roasted Salad – Sausage, potatoes, sweet peppers, and asparagus

roasted salad

I originally found this recipe years ago on skinnytaste.com and somewhere along the line I added roasted asparagus. Cam started calling it “roasted salad” a while back so now that’s what we all call it.

In the spring/summer I love to use copious amounts of herbs de Provence instead of rosemary.

In the fall/winter I swap the russet/red potatoes for sweet potatoes. I like to toss them with a little cinnamon and grade B maple syrup before roasting. Any potato I use always gets a 10-15 minute head start.

It’s pretty much a meal in itself so you don’t really need anything to go along with it except maybe a glass of wine. ;)

3. Spicy Pumpkin Ale Chili – recipe coming soon

So pumpkin chili is totally a thing. Who knew? It was all over my blog feed for a while so I tried out a really simple version based on several recipes I saw online. We liked it but thought it could use a little something. So the next time I made it, I added plenty of spice and booze. You’re welcome. :)

4. One Pot Cheesy Smoked Sausage & Pasta Skillet

finished-one-pot-spicy-cheesy-sausage-skillet-titlephoto credit

I found this recipe on Pinterest and thought it looked yummy so we’re trying it out this week. I’ll have plenty of spinach leftover from the sandwiches so I’ll use it to make a quick side salad.

5. Roast Turkey with Homemade Gravy and Potato and Caramelized Onion Tart

I have to say it. I’m not a huge fan of Sandra Lee. Maybe it’s the way she says “expresso” that grates my cheese, or how she uses simple and easy as if they’re two completely different words, or it could even be all the tablescapes, but I had the tv on Food Network one afternoon last week while I was busy doing who knows what and she was making this tart.

I was intrigued so I made it myself and I have to tell you, even thought it doesn’t look like much, it’s pretty fantastic. I added minced garlic to the cream cheese mixture but you certainly don’t have to.

6. Leftover Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, Veggie

I have a variety of frozen veggies in my freezer so we’ll pick a green one and call this meal done.

7. Leftovers

Here’s what I had to pick up during my shopping trip this week. Items not listed were already on hand.

Items purchased at Aldi:

  • orange and yellow bell peppers: $1.29
  • pie crust: $1.69
  • 1 lb bag of asparagus: $2.69
  • bagged spinach: $.99
  • 3 vine-ripened tomatoes: $1.69
  • 3 lb bag of russet potatoes: $2.69
  • 2 lb bag of sweet onions: $1.99
  • 2 cartons of free range organic chicken broth: $3.38
  • avocado: $.69

Total spent: $17.10

Items purchased at Publix:

  • Al Fresco Sweet Chicken Apple Sausage: $4
  • 1 lb bag of mini sweet peppers: $2.99
  • 9.77 lb turkey – $5.77
  • applewood smoked bacon: $3.99
  • smoked sausage: $3.50
  • 2 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes: $1.39
  • 16 oz. small pasta: $.69
  • whole wheat bread: $1.74
  • chipotle salsa: $.69
  • canned pumpkin: $1.75
  • canned black beans: $.85
  • canned kidney beans: $.85
  • chili powder: $1.99
  • pumpkin ale: $1.99

Total spent: $32.19

Total spent this week: $49.29

Happy Halloween!

31 Oct

halloween bento


Cam’s class is walking to the park this morning for some playground fun and they’re having a pizza party later this afternoon.

Lucky kids.

It’s actually a reward for all of the kids who got good grades and good behavior on their report cards but it happened to fall on Halloween.

Cam was so sick with strep last Halloween that she couldn’t get off the couch all day. She couldn’t eat, I had to help her walk, she lost her vision for a while, it was bad. Bad enough that it took four weeks and two rounds of strong antibiotics to get rid of it.

After what she went through last year, I think she deserves a super special Halloween so we’ve got lots of trick or treating planned for later tonight, and I made her a really fun lunch that I think she’ll love.

In her Easy Lunchbox she has three vampire bat sandwiches, a couple of cheesy party pumpkins, a chocolate cookie that I made using a cookie stamp, strawberries, grapes, popcorn, candy corn, and a few black sugar skulls.

I hope everyone has a fun night!

Happy Halloween!


30 Oct

witch bento


There are a couple of friendly witches in today’s lunch.

And since witches need a broom to get around, I made one out of a pretzel stick and a piece of string cheese.

I also made a guacamole potion and some cat-shaped tortilla chips for dipping.

To make the cat chips, I cut the shapes from a flour tortilla with a small cookie cutter, sprayed them lightly with non-stick spray, seasoned them with sea salt, and baked at 350 until golden and crisp.

I tossed in a few yellow tomatoes and two cookies that I wrapped in cupcake liners and added a little sticker on top.


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