Sunday Meal Plan: Week 6

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Happy Memorial Day Weekend! I was a bit premature last week, but it’s now officially the unofficial start of summer. And may we also remember to pay respect to the service members for whom this weekend exists.

Into the meal plan for the week:

Breakfast for the week: I’m still digging my overnight blueberry oats when I get around to remembering to make them (I need to get better at this). If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, I’d highly recommend checking out their blueberry lavender almond milk to make these. They are SO GOOD with it in place of the regular vanilla almond milk I’d typically use.

Sunday: We’re heading to a BBQ (burgers and dogs) at a friend’s house tonight. It’s a great weekend to break out the grill, so if you don’t have a cookout, make your own! Pro-tip: Trader Joe’s has some good pre-made frozen veggie burger options, if that’s your preference. They also have some great chicken sausages. (And this is starting to sound like a TJs commercial!)

Monday: Spicy Chickpea Burgers. This is a new to me recipe, that I only have in picture format. I will report back if this is something we enjoy! Planning to serve it with a side salad and sweet potato fries.

Tuesday: Sweet Potato Chickpea Budda Bowl by Minimalist Baker. I’ve made this before, and we really enjoyed them, however I think I will chop the sweet potatoes before roasting this time instead of after. I prefer the roasting method for the chickpeas found here at How Sweet Eats (crunchier chickpeas), so I’ll follow that method for time and temperature but will use the spices from the original recipe.
**Prep tip: You can roast the chickpeas a few days ahead (think Sunday meal prep)

Wednesday: Sweet Potato Southwestern Quinoa Bowl. Can you tell that we can’t get enough of southwestern flavored sweet potatoes?!?
** Prep Tip: You could roast the sweet potatoes ahead of time. Also could sub bagged, pre-washed kale which would speed up the preparation process. I believe they sell pre-cooked quinoa as well, but it’s so quick to make (Mine is done in 11-12 minutes).

Thursday: Burrito Bowls. Sand volleyball is on a break between seasons, so I’m 100% sure we’ll be back at our brewery running club. Quick dinner plan.

Friday: Dinner Out

Saturday: Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Pasta Salad by Half Baked Harvest. New recipe to me, but it sounds very summery!
** Prep tip: Could easily grill the corn a couple days ahead of time if you are grilling something else 

Things I’m eyeing to bake:
My S’mores Fudge Bars
S’mores Chocolate Chip Cookies by Baker By Nature
Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Bars by Practically Homemade
Salted Citrus Bars by How Sweet Eats

Enjoy!

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Sunday Meal Plan: Week 5

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So…. I’ve been off for a few weeks. I’m back. I promise! We just got back from a long weekend in Vermont, and while we were gone, summer made it to Virginia. Just in time for Memorial Day Weekend this week. Right now, we don’t have any weekend plans, but I’d love to get outside in some manner!

Here’s the menu plan for the week:

Breakfast for the week: Going to commit to making overnight oats with blueberries to decrease my processed bar intake in the mornings. Already prepped and ready for Monday so far!

Sunday: Chicken, Blackberry, and Arugula Salad. Adding some greens back into our life after our weekend away. We will definitely eat this on repeat ALL summer.

Monday: Re-making the Chicken Tahook Quinoa Bowls from What’s Gaby Cooking. So delicious. I use pre-purchased tzatziki and hummus to help make these easy to handle on a week night.
** Prep tip: Chicken needs to be marinated at least 4 hours in advance (make this while you’re making dinner the night before.

Tuesday: Repeating a new pizza recipe I make while playing hooky from meal planning (haha)… Vegetarian Taco Pizza from A Couple Cooks. I used purchased light Ranch dressing and added some diced bell peppers to the pizza before baking. I also used my Whole Wheat Pizza Dough recipe.
** Prep tip: In general, we make pizza dough ahead and freeze it. Just set out to thaw at least ~4hrs (or in the morning) before you plan to use it.

Wednesday: Healthy Turkey Fajita Rice Bowl by Isabel Eats. I use pre-riced cauliflower and add Cojita cheese at the end. This is a quick weeknight meal.

Thursday: Quick at home Burrito Bowls as we have sand volleyball playoffs tonight.

Friday: Welcoming Memorial Day Weekend with BLT Pasta Salad. This is a new recipe to us, but I’m excited for it.

Saturday: Dinner Out/Weekend Plans. I’m leaving this day open right now.

Enjoy! And happy unofficial start to summer!

Sunday Meal Plan: Week 4

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Happy Easter to anyone who celebrates! We have had a pretty low key weekend since we don’t have any family around, but looking forward to grilling some steaks tonight! Also, LOVING the fact that spring finally hit while we were in California, but that pollen right now is FOR REAL!

Here’s the menu plan for the week:

Sunday: Grilled sirloin steaks with roasted brussel sprouts/fingerling potatoes. No recipe for the steaks, but the roasted vegetable recipe can be found here from Cookin’ Canuck. I just planted some herbs last weekend, so I’m oddly excited to finally get to use some of the rosemary from my own garden.

Monday: We actually didn’t end up making the Chicken Tahook Quinoa Bowls last week, so planning on re-scheduling them for today!
** Prep tip: Chicken needs to be marinated at least 4 hours in advance.

Tuesday: Crunchy Roasted Chickpea Pitas from How Sweet Eats. We have plans for trivia this night, so I needed something quick. I’ll probably make the roasted chickpeas ahead of time on Sunday so that I just have to throw this together.
** Prep tip: I’m using store bought whole wheat pita bread, but you could make the bread on the weekend and store it for an early week meal (I wouldn’t wait more than 2-3 days to use it as homemade bread will get moldy faster than you think).

Wednesday: Asian Chicken Slaw by What’s Gaby Cooking. A new to us recipe for this week, but I really like this blogger (see: the chicken tahook quinoa bowls above!).
** Prep tip: You could cook the chicken beforehand or use a shredded Rotisserie chicken for this recipe.

Thursday: Dinner out for Avengers: ENDGAME premiere!

Friday: Blackberry Basil Chicken Salad. Told you we like this recipe as soon as the weather warms up! We’ll be eating this on repeat all summer. I’m sure you could also substitute other berries, if desired.

Saturday: Cauliflower Rice Veggie Bowls again by What’s Gaby Cooking. See the prep tip for the beans. I buy a head of kale that I wash and shred myself because I like to remove all the hard middle ribbing, but you could easily by bagged kale as a sub.
** Prep tip: Beans are made in the Instant Pot which is hands off, but might take awhile. Plan ahead. You could also buy pre-cut, pre-washed kale, if desired.

Enjoy!

Sunday Meal Plan: Week 3

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You might be a triathlete (or a cyclist) if your legs look like this. Sorry for missing last week. We’re back from the race and recovering… well, I’m recovering. I have a minor foot issue that just needs a little time off. The hubby is ramping his training back up as he’s got another 70.3 race at the beginning of May. Here’s our menu plan for the week!

Breakfast for the week: Blueberry Cinnamon Overnight Oats. I don’t have a recipe for this (I really should post it!), but I’m going to try to swap my breakfast in order to up my calcium intake (these involve Greek yogurt).

Sunday: Southwestern Chicken Casserole by Fit Foodie Finds. This is a new recipe for us, but I typically love anything with southwestern flavors. I love that the rice cooks in the pan, so that you don’t have to pre-cook anything before baking it.

Monday: Blackberry Basil Chicken Salad. The weather has warmed up here so cue the start of summer dinner salad season at our house. That or this salad is just an excuse to eat ALL of the honey baked almonds.
** Prep tip: You can use a rotisserie chicken or bake/grill the chicken ahead of time. The rest of this salad is very quick.

Tuesday: Green Veggie Bowl with Chicken & Tahini Dressing from EatingWell. I made this recipe a couple weeks ago, and we really enjoyed it. Again, trying to up the calcium intake with non-dairy sources (broccoli).
** Prep tip: You could pre-chop the veggies a couple days ahead and make the rice ahead of time.

Wednesday: Korean Chicken Bowls by How Sweet Eats. What can I say, when we find a recipe we like, we make it a few times.
** Prep tip: Chicken is best if marinated ahead of time. Can also pre-chop veggies a couple days in advance, if desired.

Thursday: Non-recipe worthy burrito bowls at home or leftovers. Our sand volleyball league started and our games are usually 6-7pm, so need a VERY non-involved dinner recipe.

Friday: Dinner out!

Saturday: Chicken Tawook Quinoa Bowls by What’s Gaby Cooking. Again, a new recipe, but should be pretty quick and will allow us to get the grill going again.
** Prep tip: Chicken needs to be marinated at least 4 hours in advance.

Sunday Meal Plan: Week 2

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This week’s meal plan is a little short as we are headed out on Thursday to Oceanside, CA for the IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside triathlon which my only (and the hubby’s first) triathlon of the year. I’m excited for some sunshine! But my right foot has been bothering me, so unfortunately, I don’t think it will be my fastest race 😦

That said, we’re in clean out the fridge mode for meals this week, and many of these are repeats from last week to use up a few things. I’ll add a list at the end of other meals that sound good, in case you’re looking for ideas!

Breakfast for the week: Back to Apple Cinnamon Pressure Cooker Steel Cut Oats by A Couple Cooks. I have blueberries in the fridge to use up. As before, I’ll make half this recipe which will get us 5 breakfasts (someone will have to eat a protein bar on Wednesday morning).

Sunday: Sheet Pan Pasta Bake with Chicken and Kale by Two Peas & Their Pod. This is an easy meal that makes quite a bit of leftovers with only two of us eating. This will get us a couple days of lunches and/or a meal for the hubby later on Tuesday.

** Prep Tip: I use plain Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream.

Monday: Spinach Salad with Tortellini, Dried Cranberries, Apples, and Feta Cheese from by blog. I’ve got a big package of spinach to use up – solution: easy dinner salad.

Tuesday: Korean Chicken Bowls with Coconut Rice by How Sweet Eats. We really liked this last week, and I have half a head of cabbage to use up from this recipe. I baked the chicken and used chicken breasts instead of thighs.

** Prep Tip: Thaw and marinate chicken ahead of time. Can also chop up the cabbage (or buy pre-chopped).

Wednesday: Quick, non-recipe worthy vegetarian burrito bowls (or leftovers if we have any) at home. Need a recipe that won’t prohibit packing time and for sure won’t create any leftovers.

Thursday-Saturday:Southern California for the race!

Other recipes I have saved:
It’s spring, but winter hasn’t quite given up in some places. I love the simplicity of a good Ham and Bean Soup. This might be a good one to keep on hand for after Easter leftovers.

Shredded BBQ Chicken Burgers. Slow cooker. Guacamole. What’s not to love?

Baked Avocados. Yes… this needs to happen next time avocados are on sale!

Instant Pot Chicken Enchilada Chili. We made this a couple weeks ago, and it’s really good!

Creamy Avocado Egg Salad. On a salad. On a croissant. Perfect work lunch or easy light dinner for when the weather gets nice! Plus, eggs are usually on sale around Easter!

Enjoy!

 

Sunday Meal Plan

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Since I’m doing this at home anyway, the hubby has convinced me to start sharing it on the blog. It’s a busy week and also the first week of tapering for our Half Ironman triathlon coming up on April 6th. I’m not one of those people who is super annoyed by a taper. By the time I get there, I’m typically beyond ready for the lighter workout load. So, without further ado, our meal plan for the week.

I should start off this post by saying that we are BIG leftover people, and prefer to have a meal that will allow us to take leftovers for lunch for the following day(s).

Breakfast for the week: Apple Cinnamon Pressure Cooker Steel Cut Oats by A Couple Cooks. I make a half-batch of this and it’ll make 5 or so breakfast packages that the hubby and I can alternate in taking to work. I use 2 apples and usually top it with blueberries. It reheats well at work after a couple minutes in the microwave. The other days, we’ll either eat at home or likely eat protein bars (trying to get out of this habit).

Sunday: Sheet Pan Pasta Bake with Chicken and Kale by Two Peas & Their Pod. This is an easy meal that makes quite a bit of leftovers with only two of us eating. This will get us a couple days of lunches and/or a meal for the hubby later on Tuesday. Recipe note: I use plain Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream.

Monday: Korean Chicken Bowls with Coconut Rice by How Sweet Eats. A new recipe for us.
** Prep Tip: Thaw and marinate chicken ahead of time

Tuesday: Girls’ Night Out at a local Greek restaurant for me. Leftovers for the hubby.

Wednesday: Cauliflower Rice Veggie Bowls by What’s Gaby Cooking. We ate this last week and have some leftover beans. Will use them up with this recipe and our “home” burrito bowls tomorrow.
** Prep Tip: Make the Instant Pot beans ahead of time OR set the pot up with the automatic timer to cook the beans right before you get home.

Thursday: Quick, non-recipe worthy vegetarian burrito bowls at home. I have a Stella and Dot party at 6pm at a friend’s house, but I don’t think it will involve dinner. Will make these for us either using the last of the leftover black beans from above or using an extra can I stashed in the pantry. Always with extra avocado though 🙂

Friday: Sweet Potato Southwestern Quinoa Bowl by What’s Gaby Cooking. We have seriously eaten this on repeat for the last 4-5 months. Healthy. Good. Filling. It has a relatively long ingredient list, but it’s not as daunting to make as it seems. I can get it all done in the time the sweet potatoes are roasting. Also, as an FYI: a little goes a long way on the dressing.
** Prep Tip: You could roast the sweet potatoes ahead of time. Also could sub bagged, pre-washed kale which would speed up the preparation process. I believe they sell pre-cooked quinoa as well, but it’s so quick to make (Mine is done in 11-12 minutes).

Saturday: Roasted Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Tacos by Greens & Chocolate. We’ve eaten these on repeat too. I have half a cabbage leftover from making homemade Runzas before St. Patrick’s Day I plan on using instead of the coleslaw mix.
** Prep Tip: Could chop the veggies ahead (or roast ahead and reheat, if desired)

Enjoy!

Lil’ Smokies in A Pretzel Blanket

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At no surprise to anyone, one of the biggest snack/appetizer weekends of the year is coming up this Sunday. Some of us are sports fans. Some of us are fans of the team playing. Some of us just come to eat. I follow the NFL close enough to have some idea of what’s invested on Sunday, but you can securely count me in for camp #3 🙂

I’ve made this recipe for pigs in a pretzel blanket from Just a Little Bite twice now. First for my husband’s work Christmas party and the second time for the NFL divisional playoff games a couple weeks ago. The first time we brought them to the party I don’t think they lasted 15 minutes with the food spread.

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I’ve made pretzels a couple times before on this blog (see here and here), but I like how these play off a childhood favorite of mine (we absolutely ate pigs in a blanket for dinner as kids). I made them as written, however 2 things on that. First, be VERY careful in adding the baking soda to your boiling water. It will boil up. I have made A HUGE mess before including baking soda water dripping in between the glass panels on my oven door. Second, I like to serve these with a cheese dip (I just bought some from the store, but you could certainly make your own) versus mustard. Just a personal preference. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Lil’ Smokies in A Pretzel Blanket
From Just a Little Bite

Ingredients:
3/4 cup warm water
1-1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 package (or just slightly more than 1 tsp.) of yeast
2-1/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

5 cups of water
1/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk, beaten
1 package lil’ smokies (I use all beef ones)
Course salt

Add the sugar, water, and salt to a mixer bowl with the beater attachment. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and let it sit for 3-5 minutes. Add the flour and butter and mix until the dough is starting to come together. Stop the mixer and add the dough hook. Mix for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for about 60-90 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Unwrap the lil’ smokies. Take a small (slightly large than a teaspoon) piece of dough and roll it out into a long, thin piece (like a play dough snake). Wrap it around one sausage 3 to 4 times, securing the ends by pinching them together. Complete this for the rest of the package. If you have extra dough, you can make some pretzel bites or small soft pretzels.

Meanwhile, boil the 5 cups of water. CAREFULLY add the baking soda. Submerge each wrapped sausage in the boiling water for around 30 seconds. Remove them with a slotted spoon and place on a baking sheet (pre-greased to avoid sticking). Brush with your beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with salt as desired. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with your favorite pretzel dipping sauce – mustard vs cheese dip.

Cold Brew Coffee Granita

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Last June, my husband and I went to Italy to celebrate our 10th anniversary. It was an amazing trip filled with fantastic food and great memories, but one of my favorite stories to tell coming out of the trip was our experience with “iced coffee” in Rome.

Rome was the last city on our 12 day trek through Italy, and as you can imagine, Rome in June was hot. Our AirBnb hostess had mentioned a few places to us upon arrival, and one of the coffee shops she recommended was Tazza d’oro by the Pantheon. After living in Phoenix for several years, my husband will drink iced coffee all year long, so we quickly added it to our itinerary, especially as we were ready for some of the comforts of home as we neared the end of our trip. On the day we visited the Pantheon, we arrived right at its opening with plans to stop by the cafe after (they are in the same plaza). The hubs headed up to the counter and ordered our two “iced coffees”, and I wish I could explain to you the looks that we got from the staff. Nonetheless, they prepared our order, and this is what we received:

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Not what we expected… but so, so good! I suspect that we got the weird looks by ordering desserts before 9AM, but the espresso granita was delicious enough that we stopped by again later (at a more appropriate time of day) to have another.

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I’m not sure what took me so long once we got home to try to recreate this, but I’m so glad I did. I largely followed the recipe here from Smitten Kitchen, except we used cold brew coffee in place of espresso (because I had some at home). You’ll need a good 3-4 hours for the granita to be finished, but it’s a really low maintenance process. After adding the sugar, it really only needs to be scraped a few times to ensure it doesn’t freeze in once piece.

Enjoy (especially if you’re still awaiting fall weather like us where you live)!

(Printable Recipe)

Cold Brew Coffee Granita
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:
2 cups unsweetened cold brew coffee
6 tablespoons of sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cold bowl and mixer attachments

Heat the coffee and 6 tablespoons of sugar in a medium pan over low-medium heat. Stir until the sugar is just dissolved. Pour into a pan (I used a 9×9 pan) and place in the freezer. After about an hour, if ice has formed, use a fork to “scrape” the ice into little pieces. Return the pan to the freezer and repeat this process every 45-60 minutes 3 to 4 more times.

About 30 minutes before serving, place your mixing bowl and mixer attachments (whisk) in the refrigerator. Immediately before serving, add the heavy cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, and vanilla extract to the bowl. Beat on high speed for about 1-2 minutes until stiff peaks form.

Add some of the whipped cream to the bottom of your serving dishes (this should serve 6-8 people). Top with granita. Add more whipped cream on top. Enjoy.

Blackberry Basil Chicken Salad

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Oh, hi! Anyone here? It’s definitely been a minute!

This salad is one of those things that I have been meaning to share for a LONG time. We make this on repeat in our house from about the time that blackberries first start re-appearing in the stores in the spring through fall grilling season. Why? It’s easy. Healthy. Delicious. Simple. And it makes just enough for a lunch salad serving for each of us the next day. It’s even better once I can start using my basil from my little vegetable garden.

The recipe originally came from emeals, and I’ve made a few changes but have mostly stayed true to the original simple ingredient list. I don’t love arugula in large amounts, so I usually buy a small pack and mix it with spinach or other salad mixes to spread it out a bit. My only other change, as above, is increasing the ingredients to make 4 salads. Enjoy!

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(Printable Recipe)

Blackberry Basil Chicken Salad
Adapted from emeals

Ingredients:
1 pack of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 to 1-1/2 pounds)
1 (5oz) pack of arugula
1 (5oz) pack of spring mix
2 pints of blackberries, washed
1/2 cup chopped basil
6 oz can honey roasted almonds (I don’t use the whole can)
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Panera refrigerated Balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Preheat your grill (or heat a pan over medium-high heat). Salt and pepper both sides of your chicken breasts and grill until cooked through. Allow them to cool, then slice.

Divide the salad greens between plates (or containers if you are saving some for lunches). Chop the basil. Divide the ingredients between each salad. Top with dressing and serve.

Gingerbread Cheesecake Dip

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Well, Christmas season is definitely here! My house is decorated, it snowed over the weekend, and Christmas party season is in full swing. In our winters here in Virginia so far, I’ve only seen us get 2 “snows” per year max, so maybe we can get away with this being our only snow for the season?!? (probably wishful thinking)

This dip is a sweet appetizer/dessert that I made to take over to my husband’s casual work Christmas party. This party is one of those where your meal is made up of different appetizers and dips people have brought over. I wanted something that I could make easily and would travel well (read – I don’t have to worry about keeping it hot getting it there), so this gingerbread cheesecake dip from Food, Folks, and Fun fit the bill. I’m not joking when I say you could have this ready to go in 10-15 minutes (with washing the mixer), and I know quick and easy is always appreciated this time of year. Just be sure to set out your cream cheese as it will mix much easier at room temperature!

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As far as the spices go, I noticed last minute that I didn’t have any ground ginger, so I subbed in pumpkin pie spice (which isn’t exactly the same but gets the same idea). Because of that swap, I decreased the amount of cinnamon I used down to 1/2 teaspoon.

To serve, I set out honey graham crackers and cinnamon-sugar pita chips, but you could certainly use other dippers such as vanilla wafers, gingerbread crisps, or even fruit such as apples or grapes. I topped it with some seasonal sprinkles to add some color, but this is entirely optional. As the original author said, if you are prepping this significantly ahead of time, wait until just before serving to add the sprinkles. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Gingerbread Cheesecake Dip
Adapted from Food, Folks, and Fun

Ingredients:
1 8oz pkg of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. molasses
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 oz (1/2 pkg) of whipped cream
Dippers: graham crackers, cinnamon-sugar pita chips, cookie wafers, apples, etc.
Optional: seasonal sprinkles

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the brown and powdered sugar and mix until thoroughly combined. Mix in the molasses and spices and lastly add and mix in the whipped cream. Beat on medium-high for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl. If not planning to serve it immediately, cover and refrigerate until serving time. Add sprinkles, if desired, immediately before serving.