Meal Plan – Week 1

Well, hello there blog world! It’s been quite awhile!

Life has gone on a little since I last regularly updated this little blog. I’ve moved. Across several states. Twice. Completed two half-Ironman distance triathlons and one full Ironman. With the new Ironman tattoo to prove it. The first of these lead to the ultimate demise of my blog. Turns out when you’re working full time and training 8-10 hours (or 14-16 for the full Ironman) a week you end up hungry. Really, really hungry. And you don’t really care what the food you’re eating looks like (definitely not photo ready) or how “original” the recipe was. If it’s food, you eat it!

In all honesty, I’m lucky I remembered the password to this darn thing… But here I am. I’m hoping to get back in the swing of things with a few recipes a week as well as a few non-recipe pieces including our weekly menu ideas. So without further ado, the food 🙂

A bit about our meal plan philosophy. The hubbs and I meal plan to an extent, however we are not rigid about it. We typically will pick out 4-5 recipes per week which and make whichever recipe happens to sound good that day. The other days are supplemented by leftovers, about 1 dinner out per week, and standard staples we keep around the house. We often turn to these staple meals on the days where we’re either too busy and/or too tired (read: triathlete on the verge of hangry if I’m not fed now nights). Most of these things aren’t really “blog worthy”, but I can elaborate as they come up.

On our list for this week:

Grilled steaks with grilled asparagus

Roasted Poblano Salsa Chicken Enchiladas -The Iowa Girl Eats
(recipe and photo credit to IGE)


BBQ chicken and veggie pizza – The Cookin’ Chemist original (Although not yet posted. This is slightly different that the other BBQ chicken pizza I have referenced)

Greek pitas – Also The Cookin’ Chemist original, although this isn’t much of a recipe

Unstuffed Pepper Skillet – The Garlic Diaries
(recipe and photo credit to The Garlic Diaries)


Cheers to getting back in this game!

Slow Cooker Italian Sausage Vegetable Soup

Finally, I’ve got the soup recipe that I posted about over a week ago on my facebook profile! When I posted it to my status, I claimed that “I just made the best soup for supper.” I’ve talked on here before about how winter = soup in my mind, and this one definitely fits the bill of a hearty, fill-you-up winter meal. It is true that I haven’t met too many soups that I don’t like (as long as they don’t contain any seafood), but I promise that this one is worth trying.  It can be pretty healthy too, especially if you swap in turkey sausage for the pork sausage.

I saw this recipe on Julie’s site Little Bit of Everything, but it originally comes from An Oregon Cottage. I’ve actually made it twice already – once in the slow cooker and once on the stove-top since I ran out of time to use the slow cooker. The recipe is originally written to be a slow cooker recipe, but I actually preferred the stove-top one. When we made it in the slow cooker as directed, my orzo got REALLY soft. Too soft. It was almost falling apart. This could be easily remedied by cooking the orzo separately and mixing it in just before serving, and I may try this the next time I make this soup.  My other comment is that it is a thick soup and only becomes thicker with storage as the pasta soaks up the liquid. If you like your soup with a little bit more liquid, you may want to add a little more stock/wine.

Definitely don’t let my pasta comments deter you from making this soup. There are lots of options as far as ingredients in this soup, so you can really adapt it into whatever you want it to be. I can tell you that the four of us here, 3 adults and 1 child, ate almost the whole recipe in one meal. Serve it with some crusty bread and enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Slow Cooker Italian Sausage Vegetable Soup
Adapted from An Oregon Cottage

1 lb. Italian turkey sausage (I used Honeysuckle mild turkey sausage with great results!)
4 c. beef stock (may want extra for more liquid)
1/2 c. dry red wine (or more stock if you want to omit the wine)
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15oz) can white beans, drained and rinsed (can also use garbanzo beans)
2 c. chopped spinach (can also use cabbage, chard, or kale)
2 whole carrots, peeled and sliced
2 c. chopped green beans (if using frozen, thaw a bit and add about 45 minutes prior to serving)
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 c. orzo (or other small pasta)
fresh grated Parmesan for garnish (optional)
parsley for garnish (optional)

Slow cooker method:
If using uncooked sausage, cook it in the skillet until brown, drain and transfer to the bowl of the slow cooker. Combine the stock with the wine and pour over the meat. Add the remaining ingredients except for the last 3 (and green beans if frozen). Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours or on high for 3-1/2 to 4 hours. About 45 minutes before serving, add the green beans (and turn the cooker to high if you are using the low setting). In a medium saucepan, cook the orzo according to package directions. Mix with the soup just before serving. Serve with Parmesan and parsley if desired.

Stove-top method:
If using uncooked sausage, cook it in the skillet with the onions and garlic until cooked through. Drain fat if necessary.  Combine the stock with the wine and pour over the meat. Add the remaining ingredients except for the pasta and garnishes. Bring to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cook the orzo according to package directions. Mix with the soup just before serving. Serve with Parmesan and parsley if desired.

Spaghetti Pie

I seem to have quite the streak of main dishes going here. Don’t worry. I’ve still been doing my fair share of baking 🙂

The ingredients in this recipe remind of of a mix between spaghetti and lasagna. The noodles are cooked on the stove and then mixed with a little butter, Parmesan cheese, and an egg to form a “crust” on the bottom of the pie. This is actually the second time we’ve tried to make a spaghetti pie. The first time (with a different recipe) the spaghetti-crust didn’t hold together at all. It ended up more like a baked spaghetti dish. I’m not quite sure what was different this time around because the idea of this recipe was the same, but it worked out a lot better for us.

One thing that I did like about the other recipe was the use of turkey sausage rather than ground beef. The sausage just gives the dish a little more flavor, and I would swap it in for the ground beef next time. Overall, we really enjoyed this spin on spaghetti, and it’s definitely something we will make again.

(Printable Recipe)

Spaghetti Pie
Adapted from

6 oz. whole wheat spaghetti 
2 Tbsp. butter 
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 lb. lean ground beef (or 1 lb. ground turkey sausage)
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. chopped bell pepper, any color
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 tsp. white sugar
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 c. fat-free cottage cheese
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain. Stir in margarine, Parmesan cheese, and eggs while spaghetti is hot. Press spaghetti mixture into a greased 10-inch pie plate to form a crust.

In a skillet, cook the beef, onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Drain any fat and stir in the undrained tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, and oregano. Heat through. 

Spread the cottage cheese over the spaghetti crust then pour in the beef and tomato mixture. Bake for 20 minutes. Cover with mozzarella cheese and bake for 5 minutes longer, until the cheese melts.

Servings: 6 per original recipe

Sausage, Black Olive, Onion, and Half-mushroom Stromboli

Installment #3 for quick, easy, delicious meals. This is probably my last super-quick meal post because…. DRUMROLL…… I am DONE with CLASSES FOREVER! (Envision a happy dance here).

One year of clinical rotations, a couple of licensing exams, and I will finally be a pharmacist! It’s a great feeling, but I don’t think it will completely sink in until I get caught up completely on sleep 🙂 

Stromboli is one of our standard go-to meals when we need something quick and good. It’s actually the first meal my husband made for me back when we were dating 🙂 Since then, we’ve filled it with several different fillings and make it fairly consistently. There’s a ham, bacon, Swiss cheese, and green onion version here. We’ve also done pizza-themed ones with pretty good results.

We usually use the Pillsbury french bread as a starter, but I’m sure you could just as easily use a bread maker to make the dough. This one has only half-mushroom because I’m not a fan (the hubby loves them though!) We also used the horseshoe-shaped turkey-sausage and cooked it over the stove for a little bit with the onion for some flavor. Try it out. We love it!
Sausage, Black Olive, Onion, and Mushroom Stromboli
1 can Pillsbury french loaf 
1 pkg. turkey polish sausage
1 to 1-1/2 c. mozzarella cheese
fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 can sliced black olives
1/2 c. onion, chopped
Preheat the oven according to package directions on the bread. Find the seam on the loaf and unroll the bread dough onto a cookie sheet and set aside (The dough will unroll much better if it is cold straight out of the fridge).

Slice the polish sausage into 1/4-inch slices. Cook in a skillet over medium-high heat with the onion until the mixture is fragrant and the onion begins to soften. Mix the sausage-mixture with the mushrooms and black olives. Layer the mixture over the dough leaving 1/2-inch around the edges. Top evenly with the cheese. Roll up the dough lengthwise as tightly as possible. Pinch together the seam and the ends; flip the loaf over so that the seam is down. Cut a couple steam-vents across the top of the loaf. Bake according to package directions until the dough is golden-brown or approximately 20-25 minutes. Slice and enjoy!

Mural of Flavor Chicken Salad

Life has been a little less eventful around here the last few weeks. My hubby has been out of town for his rotations for the past couple months. He’s been back on the weekends because he’s only been a couple hours away, but it has just been animals and I kicking it most of the time.
As much as I love cooking, I’ve always found it hard to cook for 1 person. Anything you make, you end up eating the leftovers ALL WEEK, and after 4 or 5 days of the same thing, I’m definately ready for something new.
A couple weekends ago, we were out hunting for the dried chipotle peppers that I needed for these dark chocolate chipotle cookies, and we ended up at Penzey’s Spices. While we were wandering through the store, my husband found a spice mixture called Mural of Flavor. It’s a mixture of several spices (which I’m not for sure), shallots, onion, garlic, lemon peel, chives and orange peel and is suppose to make a pretty good turkey salad.
In addition to being home by myself, I am attempting to motivate myself to study for our chemotherapy exam on Friday. Think treatment regimes for every major type of cancer plus the worst form of alphabet soup possible – CVP, R-CHOP, FOLFIRI – I thought pneumonics were suppose to help you remember something!
Anyway, the salad… Turkey salad sandwhiches sounded a pretty good solution for a couple of quick meals for myself at home, so we decided to get some of the spice mixture.  Well, it wasn’t quite turkey salad… but a rotisserie chicken quickly fixed that problem.
I unfortunately do not have any pictures of the finished sandwiches, but I can assure you that they were quite delicious! It wasn’t as heavy on the mayonnaise as some other meat-salad sandwiches can be. Both the hubby and I really liked this fact. The reicpe card states that this would be a great solution for a lighter meal after Turkey day – I would have to agree. This may be one to bookmark for after the holidays next year (or just sub in some chicken and try it now)! Enjoy!
Mural of Flavor Chicken Salad
Adapted from Penzey’s Spice recipe card
6 c. cubed chicken (leftover turkey)
2 Tbsp. Mural of Flavor
2 Tbsp. water
1/2 c. fat-free mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1-1/2 tsp. prepared Dijon mustard
1/3 c. dried cranberries
1/3 c. chopped pecans
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
1-2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
In a large bowl, mix the Mural of Flavor with the water. Add the mayonnaise, vinegar, and mustand and mix well. Stir in the dried cranberries and the pecans. Add the chicken to the mixture and toss gently to coat. Add sugar, sald and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Tex Mex Tacos

Tacos. So simple to make, but they have so much potential. Even though this recipe was originally written as a calzone recipe, we adapted it to make tacos. Yes, we are talking different continents, but the idea is the same. This filling could be used in a myriad of recipes. It’s good enough that I got oooh’s and ahhh’s at work with the leftovers.

The original calzone recipe was in the March 2009 Cooking Light magazine, however I stumbled upon it here on Leslie’s blog. Other than changing the outside, we stayed pretty true to the filling recipe. The only change that I made was to use only green peppers as they are much cheaper right now at the store. I would definately recommend this recipe whether it be in the taco or calzone form. I am certainly going to make it again, maybe as calzones this time — they make better freezer leftovers!

Tex Mex Calzones/Tacos
1 pound lean ground turkey breast
1 cup chopped onion
1 chopped green bell pepper
1 chopped red bell pepper
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup fat-free fire-roasted salsa verde
1/4 c chopped cilantro
2 (11-ounce) can refrigerated thin-crust pizza dough
2 cups preshredded Mexican blend cheese
Cooking spray
low-fat sour cream

Preheat oven to 425°. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey to pan; cook 3 minutes, stirring to crumble. Add onion and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) to pan; cook 4 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring mixture occasionally. Remove turkey mixture from heat; stir in salsa and cilantro.

Unroll dough; divide into 4 equal portions (per can….or if you make your own dough, divide into 8). Stretch each portion into a 6 x 4–inch rectangle. Working with one rectangle at a time, spoon about 1/2 cup turkey mixture on one side of dough. Top with 3 tablespoons cheese; fold dough over turkey mixture, and press edges together with a fork to seal.

Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining dough and turkey mixture. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes or until browned. Serve with sour cream.

Asian Roll Lettuce Wrap

Around here, Friday nights are date nights, and we’ve been trying to go to new restaurants to enjoy the opportunity to try new foods. A couple weeks ago, I had something similar at a local restaurant in town, and I have been wanting to try to make something similar since. The wraps at the restaurant were a chicken version, but the turkey meatballs were definately equally delicious. I found this recpie on To quote the hubby, “This one is a keeper.”

Oddly, I’ve never really made “meatballs” before. It just wasn’t something that we commonly ate growing up. I wasn’t for sure how well the meat would stick together on the grill since it was just the meat, soy sauce, and spices, but it turned out really well. My husband wants to try just the soy sauce, garlic and fresh ginger for turkey burgers soon. I think he could have eaten the meatballs on their own. We left out the radishes for personal preference (mine) but you really could add any vegetables that you prefer to these wraps. We made the rice in a rice cooker rather than on the stove. Do make sure to get a good, undamaged head of romaine lettuce. The meal is quite messy and tears in the lettuce make it that much more of a mess. But as we like to say around here, “It’s not any good if you don’t get any on ya.”

Asian Roll Lettuce Wrap

1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root

1 cup brown rice
1 cup water
16 large lettuce leaves
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup sliced red bell pepper
1 cup sliced radishes

1/3 cup light soy sauce
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon sugar

In a medium bowl, mix together ground turkey, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon minced garlic and 2 teaspoons ginger. Form into 16 meatballs and roll into ovals. Cover and refrigerate.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine rice with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until rice is tender.

Preheat the grill or broiler. Arrange rice, lettuce leaves, carrots, scallions, radishes and red peppers onto a serving platter or place each into a small bowl. In a medium bowl, mix together 1/3 cup soy sauce, 1/3 cup water, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons garlic, 1 tablespoon ginger, and sugar. Divide into 4 small dipping bowls.

Thread two meatballs onto each 10 inch skewer. Grill or broil for 10 to 12 minutes, turning occasionally to brown all sides. If broiling, line the broiler pan with aluminum foil and drain fat after 6 minutes.

To eat, place a leaf of lettuce onto the palm of your hand, spoon on a little rice, then a meat roll, and a few of the vegetables. Roll up and dip in dipping sauce or spoon sauce over.