Sunday Meal Plan: Week 2


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!



Lil’ Smokies in A Pretzel Blanket


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.


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

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.

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! After missing last week, I wanted to be sure to be on top of this one. If you’re reading this first thing in the morning, then we may not have left yet, but if it’s mid-morning on the East Coast, you can envision us driving north blaring 90’s pop music!

Bring on the Hot Chocolate 15K (just hope I have a solid 9 miles left in my legs after the rest of the tri training this week)!

Here’s what I’m loving:

I know I’m a touch late on the board here, but is anyone else excited about the smaller iPhone? I semi-hate how big phones have gotten. All I want is for it to fit in my pocket!

These cookies from Picky Palate. Butterscotch is my favorite. In fact, oatmeal scotchies are my favorite type of cookies for that reason. I’m going to have to make these!


This quote may need to be the theme of the weekend 🙂


We’ve both been craving Greek food after eating at a local Greek restaurant here in town a couple weekends ago. With the warmer weather blessing us recently, these skewers from Recipe Runner may also need to make an appearance on the dinner menu.


Lastly, someone needs to give me a kick in the butt to finally try making these. I had some time to kill in the airport recently, so I re-arranged some Pinterest boards. Now my macaron board is staring me in the face. Maybe these strawberry colada ones guys from Taste and Tell?


Meal Plan – Week 4

Planning simple meals this week – I’m out of town from Friday morning through Sunday evening, so the hubbs will be on his own. The translation of that is there will be lots of grilled sausages, grilled hamburgers, and possibly a pizza in the house. Good thing I made and froze some pizza dough for him this last weekend!

Our plans aside, this is what’s sounding good to me (and what I’ll be cooking for the meals I’m here!). On that note, I’m a little lighter on recipes this week (only picking out 4), since I’m planning on being out of town.

Cheeseburger Salad – There’s a similar recipe in the April Cooking Light issue that reminded me I haven’t made ours recently.

Greek Yogurt Egg Salad Sandwiches – I actually don’t have any leftover hardboiled eggs from Easter (we worked so we didn’t really celebrate), but I am planning to make a few as this sounds good and so easy! I won’t do this for a weeknight meal, but how good would this be with homemade French loaves?!?


King Ranch Chicken and Quinoa Casserole in the April Cooking Light – Quinoa + casserole + Southwest flavor + a recipe that’ll make for some lunches with leftovers. Sold.


CL April 16: Cook Once, Eat 3x-Quinoa

White Bean Vegetable Pizza – We have cheese and bean mixture leftover from the pizza this week. And it was delicious. Repeater!


Friday Favorites

Not to be too cliche, but I’ve so been LOVING the warmer weather this week. Summer, I miss you. I’ve been too cold for too long! We’ve got quite a few trips/events coming up this year through spring, summer, and fall, and I think I’m also just ready to get going. It starts next week when I get to meet up with a couple of my college gals in Nashville. Excited for it does not even explain.

Regardless, here’s what I’ve been loving recently.


Tulips. Just in general. I keep oohing over them every time we walk into a grocery store (I’m talking to you Trader Joes). I’ve even seen them this year where you by them potted, so I’m pretty sure you could plant the bulbs when all is said and done. The hubbs hasn’t quite gotten my hint yet… 🙂


Oatmeal Scotchie Cheesecake Bars by Crazy for Crust. Oatmeal scotchies are hands down my favorite cookies. AND these are combined with cheesecake. I’m dying to make these, but I’m going to need somewhere to take them because I will eat the entire pan.

These compression socks for post-workout. I don’t know if it is all in my head or not, but it feels SO GOOD to put these babies on after a hard workout!


Crispy Smashed Potatoes by Savory Tooth. Enough said. Who is cooking Sunday dinner?

Garden articles. Garden season is sneaking up on us. I think we can plant here by mid-late April. We had a little garden last year, although I planted it really late. A couple tomato plants, a couple bell pepper plants, and one sole jalapeno plant that produced a million peppers (jalapeno poppers in the house)! There has been some discussion around the house of expanding our little area so we have more room for things like cucumbers, but I’m wondering if it may be easier on us to set up something like this. Thoughts? We definitely have space either way.

Happy weekend!

Chicken Enchilada Pizza

chicken enchilada pieces from side

So the hubbs has already “decided” which chocolate chip cookie recipe is going to win our ongoing chocolate chip cookie bake-off. He’s convinced that no recipe is going to beat the NYT recipe we’ve been loving since the beginning. Now, I’m determined to beat it and am up to my eyeballs in cookie dough today. Should have the next round of cookies up for you tomorrow. Any recipes you’d suggest I should try to challenge his favorite?

Anyway, on to the pizza. This is definitely a non-traditional “Mexican” recipe for this week, but it fits right in with the pizza obsession that we have at this house. The recipe idea comes from Jessica at How Sweet It Is. Love her blog by the way. Pretty sure I want to make almost every recipe she posts!

chicken enchilada pizza before topping

chicken enchilada pizza in pieces

The toppings here are exactly what you would expect. Mexican seasonings, onions, bell peppers, enchilada sauce. Unlike many pizzas, the veggies in the topping are sauteed prior to topping the pizza. I love this for two reasons. First, the cook time softens the onions so you don’t get that harsh raw onion bite. Second, the cook time pulls out some of the water from the veggies avoiding soggy pizza slices later. For the crust, I swapped in my own homemade whole wheat version that we’ve been loving lately. The recipe is so easy, and it makes 3 pizza crusts at once (freeze the extras!). I’ll get it posted here at some point! My only other advice. Don’t forget the extra toppings after baking. 🙂 Enjoy!

(Printable Recipes)

Chicken Enchilada Pizza
Adapted from How Sweet It Is

1 whole wheat pizza crust (homemade or purchased)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced (or other colored pepper)
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (4oz) can diced green chiles
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 to 1 cup enchilada sauce
6 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
6 oz. Monterey jack cheese, freshly grated
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 avocado, thinly sliced
sour cream or plain non-fat Greek yogurt

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a pizza stone in the oven while it preheats. If you do not have a pizza stone, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add olive oil. Add onions, bell peppers, jalapenos, and garlic to the skillet with a pinch of salt. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the shredded chicken, green chiles, cumin, paprika, and chili powder. Stir to coat and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

If using a pizza stone, roll out the dough on a pizza peel or parchment paper. If using a baking sheet, you can roll out the dough directly on the baking sheet. Spread about 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce over the pizza dough. Add a small sprinkle of cheese. Top with the chicken and vegetable mixture. Cover evenly with the remaining cheese. If using the pizza stone, transfer the dough to the hot stone from the oven and bake for approximately 12-15 minutes. If using a baking sheet, bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden brown. Remove and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado. Drizzle with remaining enchilada sauce if desired and top with sour cream or Greek yogurt.

Week 13: Friday Favorites

So, if any of you noticed. I missed the Friday Favorites last week. We had family in town for the weekend, and I didn’t have time to prep it ahead of time. Excuse I know, but it was already pretty late in the day on Friday before I really realized it was Friday.

Anyway… We did have a great weekend. My in-laws are pretty avid golfers, so we made a point to head to the Phoenix Open last Friday. While I really can’t tell you too much about golf myself, it was a fun day. If nothing else, it was a beautiful day to spend outside! The rest of the weekend was spent golfing ourselves, catching the Super Bowl on Sunday, and of course, stuffing ourselves on Super Bowl appetizers 🙂

No big plans for the weekend here. I’ve had a couple of days off during the week this week as I’m working this weekend. My first weekend by myself at the new job, so fingers crossed for me! Since I missed last week, I have a little bit longer Friday Favorites for you this week. Enjoy!

Favorite Home Design Idea. Stone Kitchen Island by The Butler Blog. I really like stone and brick inside as a design element, and this absolutely makes sense to avoid any scuff marks from the benches along the island. Definitely an idea I will keep in mind for any future home projects!

Favorite Valentine’s Breakfast Idea. Whole Wheat Cranberry Applesauce Muffins by Eating Richly. I love that these incorporate the Valentine’s theme without all the sweetness found in most. I don’t have heart shaped tins, although I may have to try out that marble trick to make a heart shaped muffin.


Favorite Funny. The United States of America as Seen by a New Yorker as seen on Who knows if this is even real, but it definitely has some comedic value.

Favorite Potluck Idea. DIY Wood Chalkboard Clips by Happy Clippings. Clip it on your dish at a potluck to let everyone know what it is. Why didn’t I think of this?


Favorite Wine Accessory. Wine glass seen on Etched Expressions (Etsy). Hilarious!

Wine Glass, Rough Day, Easy Day, Dont Even Ask, Personalized Wine Glass

Favorite Valentine’s Lunch. Heart apples by My husband takes an apple everyday for lunch. Think I can get away with this?

Favorite Salad. Tequila Lime Flank Steak Fajita Salad with Chile Lime Vinaigrette by How Sweet It Is. Longest salad name ever, but oh my gosh it looks amazing!

Favorite Motivation on This is definitely true. Running is my stress relief!

Green Chile Mac & Cheese

green chile macaroni and cheese bite

Brrr…. I know I really should not be complaining, but we’ve had ourselves a cool spell here in Arizona. Below freezing at night folks. We have been covering our plants outside with every extra sheet in the house for a couple nights now. Probably looks kind of funny if you drive by our house. Nonetheless, I really don’t want to lose our new Meyer lemon tree to the cold!

The cooler turn in the weather has both of us craving comfort food. Enter this macaroni and cheese. In fact, my husband asked specifically for it. As far as mac and cheese goes, the hubbs is a baked mac and cheese guy. He loves the crunch of the bread crumb topping. I can go either way (truthfully, I’ll eat both), but if I had to pick, I am probably more of a stove-top gal. Just can’t get over the creaminess! In light of his request, I went the baked route this time. That and it let me use my new croquettes that I received for Christmas 🙂

green chile macaroni and cheese

green chile macaroni and cheese close

The recipe is from A Zesty Bite, and the whole allure of this recipe for us was the green chiles in the sauce. They completely make this dish. As written, the recipe is scaled to be more of a side dish, but for the two of us, it worked perfectly as a main dish. For me, the cheese sauce ended up pretty thick, although I think this may have been more my fault than anything else. My other thought was that the macaroni to cheese ratio seemed really high. It is really rich as written, and I think I’d add more macaroni for the same amount of cheese sauce next time. A quick note, be careful when browning the bread crumbs under the broiler. I toasted mine a little to far. I’d check on them every minute or so.

All of that said, this mac and cheese met all those comfort food notes. We really enjoyed it, and I am thinking this will be a repeat recipe in this house. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Green Chile Mac & Cheese
Adapted slightly from A Zesty Bite

4 oz. whole wheat elbow macaroni noodles (I think you could even double this to 8oz)
3 qts. water plus salt
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
1-1/4 cup almond milk
1 Tbsp. non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (best results if you shred your own)
3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (best results if you shred your own)
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles
whole wheat Panko bread crumbs for topping

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook for 6 minutes (al dente). Drain and rinse in cold water.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 3-4 minutes. Slowly add the milk while whisking to avoid any clumps. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly (don’t let it get too thick). Add the Greek yogurt, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Stir in both cheeses and the green chiles. Mix until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth. Stir in the macaroni noodles until well coated.

Place in a casserole dish and sprinkle with Panko bread crumbs. Baking time will vary based on the size of your baking dish. For a large dish, bake for 25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling at the sides. Individual serving dishes will need a shorter baking time. Mine was done at about 15 minutes. When the cheese is bubbling, it is ready. Switch the oven to low broil for 2-3 minutes to brown the bread crumbs.

Cookin’ Chemist on WordPress

I have been thinking about doing this for awhile. In fact, I transferred my blog to a WordPress account almost 11 months ago. However, I never put the site live. I’m not sure I know enough about coding and formatting to go for a self-hosted site yet, but I’d like to give myself that option for some point in the future.

In the meantime, please forgive my growing pains, and welcome to the new Cookin’ Chemist site here on WordPress! I know I have some problems with the photos in several of my posts right now (part of the push to move from Blogger), so I’m sure there will be more things changing in the near future as I accustom myself to this new platform 🙂


Stir-Fried Chicken, Pineapple, and Red Onion in Sweet & Sour Sauce

When we were undergraduates, there was a little Chinese buffet near campus that we ate at nearly every Friday night. I am not kidding. Sometimes we’d bring other people with us. Sometimes it would be just us, but you could make a pretty good bet that you’d find us there on any random Friday night. It was to the point that when my husband (then boyfriend) would walk in, the lady in charge would ask him if there was anything he wanted them to ADD to the buffet 🙂

Right now, it has actually been a long time since we’ve eaten at any Chinese place. Nonetheless, as I’ve mentioned several times previously, we love to make it at home. Stir-frys make great weeknight meals as they usually come together pretty quick. This one is from the cookbook, The Best Light Recipe, so it gets bonus points for being pretty healthy too. There aren’t a ton of vegetables in here, but like most stir-frys, you could probably add whatever you have hanging in your fridge in the mix. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Stir-Fried Chicken, Pineapple, and Red Onion in Sweet & Sour Sauce
Adapted from The Best Light Recipe

3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into uniform pieces
2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. dry sherry
3 medium garlic cloves (~1 Tbsp), minced or pressed through a garlic press 
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
3 scallions, white parts, minced and green parts cut into 1/4-inch lengths
4 tsp. peanut or vegetable oil
2 small red onions, halved and cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges
2 cups fresh pineapple cut into 1-inch pieces (or 1 lg. can pineapple chunks)
3-4 servings brown rice, prepared according to pkg directions  

6 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
6 Tbsp. juice from 1-2 oranges (or pineapple juice)
6 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. ketchup
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt

Start cooking rice according to package directions if needed. Toss the chicken with the soy sauce and sherry in a medium bowl. Let the chicken marinate while you make the sauce and prepare the vegetables. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the sauce ingredients. Set aside. 

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, scallion whites, and 2 teaspoons of the oil. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up clumps, until lightly browned and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a clean bowl. 

Add the remaining teaspoon of oil to the pan and return to high heat until shimmering. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the pineapple and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. 

Clear the center of the pan and add the garlic mixture. Cook, mashing the garlic mixture into the pan with the back of a spatula, until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Stir the garlic mixture into the vegetables. Add the scallion greens and chicken and toss to combine. Whisk the sauce to recombine, then add it to the pan and bring to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and toss until all the ingredients are well coated with sauce and sizzling hot. Serve immediately with the cooked rice.