Tuesday, February 22, 2011


The last couple of days we have been eating leftovers from a weekend of surplus.

Saturday evening Luci cooked Peanutty Chicken and Pasta for her visiting grandparents and uncle. We doubled the recipe since we were feeding five adults and three children. A single recipe makes four servings, so this doubled recipe made eight servings and even with some having a second helping, we still had plenty leftover.

Sunday afternoon I had plans to make a pot of Tortellini Soup, however, a power outage in the middle of cooking the soup caused us to regroup. We picked up Subway sandwiches instead and when the power came back on a couple of hours later the soup resumed cooking.

So, yesterday was Tortellini Soup and today was Peanutty Chicken and Pasta. I love microwave-reheat-and-eat days!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Veggie Beef Soup

A pot of soup is a quick and easy way to have a hot meal ready come lunch time. This is an easy basic recipe for a vegetable beef soup.

1 lb of lean ground beef, browned and drained
1 qt. of beef broth
2 cans of stewed tomatoes, undrained
5 ounce can spicy V8 juice (regular would be fine, spicy is all I had. It really didn't add any spiciness to the soup)
Frozen veggies (I used a bag of frozen green beans, a bag of frozen corn, half a bag of frozen lima beans)
Season to taste (for us, all the soup needed was a little Italian Seasoning)

Combine all of these ingredients in the crockpot and simmer on low for a few hours. Put this on in the morning and it'll be ready by lunch time :) It makes about 10 servings of soup, so it's great for having leftovers on another day.

Today, I served the kids a bowl of soup along with some cheese toast triangles and a half a banana with Nutella spread on it.

Kid Rating: 4 Thumbs Up on the soup; 6 Thumbs on the banana with Nutella!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fish Sandwiches

Today we had Tilapia Sandwiches. There really isn't any remarkable recipe here, but in just a few quick steps and not much time at all you can have a fantastic fish sandwich. I bought the individually wrapped and frozen tilapia filets from my local grocery store's freezer. The smaller package, 12 ounces, has 4 filets. They'll thaw quickly, about 15 minutes, if you put them in some cold water in a pan. Or you can thaw them in the refrigerator overnight. I seasoned them well on both sides with Old Bay Seasoning and then cooked all four filets in about a tablespoon of olive oil.

I served them on whole wheat buns with whatever condiments (mayo, mustard, cheese, etc...) the kids preferred, some fresh veggies and hummus for dipping. These fish sandwiches are delicious, quick & simple, and very healthy! The baby carrots and grape tomatoes aren't too bad either :)

Luci's tomato and carrot butterfly :) 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Menu 2/12

It's been a crazy week here at my house. My daughter has been sick all week and it's thrown us for a loop. I posted my menu last weekend and we've mostly stuck to that menu with few exceptions, however, most days I've forgotten to take pictures and didn't take time to sit down and write. Next week should be better! Anyway, here's our menu for the coming week, with links where applicable:


  • Fish Sandwiches and a Green Salad
  • Grilled Cheese and Tomato Sandwiches and Soup
  • Wraps with fresh veggies and hummus for dipping
  • Hamburger Soup
  • Leftover Do-Overs
  • Braised Balsamic Chicken (this was from last week, but I didn't get to make it because I ran out of chicken), brown rice, steamed broccoli
  • Tangy Slow Cooker Pork, mashed potatoes, roasted asparagus
  • Chicken & Dumplings, green beans (Luci's meal--if she's up to cooking)
  • Turkey Burgers, turnip greens, oven fries (Gavin's meal)
  • Sweet and Sour Chicken with brown rice and garlic steamed broccoli (Ben's meal~Sweet and sour chicken is Ben's all time favorite meal. He loves the sweet, slightly sour, sauce and the pineapples that go with it. However, my go-to recipe for this meal is especially high in fat and calories so I've been searching for a tasty, healthier alternative. Hoping this will be the one that gets his seal of approval!)
  • White Chicken Chili

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pizza Roll-Ups

This recipe comes from EatingWell.com and was a hit with the kids. With the tasty pizza sauce and melted mozzarella taking center stage, I don't think they even realized they were eating spinach!

Pizza Roll-Up

Ingredients per serving:
1 whole wheat tortilla
2T pizza sauce
12 leaves of baby spinach
3 T shredded mozzarella

Layer the tortilla with the pizza sauce, spinach leaves, and mozzarella. Microwave for about 45 seconds to melt the cheese and then carefully roll up the wrap. The EatingWell recipe indicates to let it cool and then cut it into slices. I cut them in half and let the kids eat them warm.

This recipe has 217 calories and 7 grams of fat. I served this with a piece of fruit, some fresh veggies and ranch for dipping.

Kid Rating: 5 Thumbs Up!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tortellini Salad

This recipe is inspired by a Tortellini Salad that I had the pleasure to enjoy recently at a small church gathering. I'm not certain of the calorie or fat content in the original recipe, but I set out to make this a healthy version.

9 ounces frozen cheese tortellini, cooked and chilled (I ran mine under cold water for a few minutes to cool it off quickly)
8 ounces of 2% cheese, cut into cubes
10 ounces of turkey breast (I had the lady at the deli cut me a thick slice--about 3/4 of an inch--of turkey breast, which I cut into chunks)
olives (I used about 15 olives--use more if you love olives, less if you hate them)
15 grape tomatoes cut into halves
1/3 cup of light Italian dressing (I used Kraft Light House Italian)

Combine all ingredients, give it a gentle toss, and enjoy :)

I used SparkRecipes.com to calculate the nutritional info on this one. The recipe makes about six 1 cup servings. Each cup has about 320 calories and 18 grams of fat. It was a little higher in fat than I expected, I think next time I'll figure out how to cut it down even further. I enjoyed it, but my kids had mixed feelings. They really didn't like the saltiness of the olives.

Kid Rating: 3 Thumbs Up

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Menu Plan

Lunches (weekday lunches only)~

  • Pizza Roll Ups with fresh veggies and fruit
  • Deli Flats pizzas and a side salad
  • Peanut Butter & Apple sandwiches
  • Turkey & Pasta Salad
  • Leftover Do-Over Day
Dinners (Friday through Thursday)~
  • Friday: Tortellini Soup
  • Saturday: Slow Cooker Marinara Chicken & Veggies, served over whole wheat spaghetti
  • Sunday: Super Bowl Fare: wings, rotel dip and tortilla chips, vegetable tray, Rootin' Tootin' Fruit Salsa (Southern Living for Kids), and deviled eggs
  • Monday: Luci's Night ~ Tacos, Mexican Rice (Southern Living for Kids), and a green salad
  • Tuesday: Gavin's Night ~ Jambalaya, Green Beans, and Garlic Bread
  • Wednesday: Ben's Night ~ Oven Fried Chicken, carrot fries, broccoli
  • Thursday: Braised Balsamic Chicken Breasts, Brown Rice & Italian Green Beans

Friday, February 4, 2011

Snackin' Mix

One of the sweet 4th grade boys in my and Brian's Sunday School class gave us this glass canister filled with a delicious snack mix as a Christmas gift this past December. It was adorably dressed with a pretty ribbon and gift tag. (You might want to keep that idea in mind for next Christmas!) Since the holidays finished I've been replenishing this each week with a snack mix that I've been making. I started with a basic recipe from Luci's Southern Living Cookbook, but have modified and changed it each week I prepare it.

The seasoning for the snack mix consists of 1/2 cup canola oil, an envelop of ranch dip mix, and a teaspoon of red pepper flakes. The red pepper flakes are completely optional though.

You can really use whatever you like in this snack mix, so long as your using about 5 or 6 quarts of assorted crackers, pretzels, cereal, or nuts. I've been varying it each time according to what's on sale at my local grocery store.

There's no cooking involved, just stir together the oil, ranch mix and red pepper flakes and then, using a very large mixing bowl (I find my giant roasting pan works best) combine the oil mixture with the assorted crackers, pretzels, cereal, or nuts.

The snack mix pictured here contains:

1 cup of dry roasted unsalted peanuts
1 large box of reduced sodium oyster crackers
1 box of Ritz Munchies Pretzel Crackers
1 box of Multi Grain Cheerios
1 box Wheat Chex

Some other things I've used so far:
Sesame Sticks
Goldfish Crackers
Wheat Thins

I haven't used almonds yet, but I plan to give them a try next time.

Mix and match to your heart's content :) There's no wrong way to do this!

BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

This morning I dropped three medium sized individually frozen chicken breasts in the slow cooker and let them cook until done, about 3 hours. I love using my slow cooker during the school day! It's a huge time saver!

At lunch time I shredded the chicken and poured on some barbecue sauce for barbecue chicken sandwiches. The total prep time for this was about 10 minutes.

I used 100% whole wheat buns for the sandwiches and served them with pickle spears and grapes.

The BBQ Chicken sandwiches have about 272 calories, including the whole wheat bun.

Kid Rating: 6 Thumbs Up!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Leftover Do-Overs

While I don't have photos to share today, I will let you know that today was a leftover do-over day for us. I had two pieces of cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts, some leftover brown rice, cooked carrots, and a few cups of chicken broth.

I turned one of the leftover breasts into a chicken salad by shredding it and mixing it with a little olive oil mayo (love that stuff!), pickle relish, chopped celery, and shredded 2% cheese. I wrapped some of the chicken salad in Flat Out Healthy Grains Wraps along with some salad greens. We love these Flat Out Wraps! Served these chicken salad wraps along with some baby carrots, grape tomatoes and green grapes.

I chopped up the other chicken breast and combined it with the leftover brown rice (about a cup), the carrots (chopped up) and the broth to put together a quick chicken and rice soup. For a cold day like today, the warm chicken soup hit the spot!

Each member of the family picked what they wanted for lunch and everyone was happy :)

I didn't do the calorie counts on these meals, but I'm certain it was well within a healthy range. It was also an economical meal when you consider that I used 2 chicken breasts to feed five people!

Kid Rating: 6 Thumbs Up!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chicken & Black Bean Salad

Years ago I found a recipe for a black bean salad that involved layering salad greens, black beans, corn, salsa, bacon, shredded cheese, and ranch dressing. I've used that as a basis for many salads since then, modifying it each time. Today, I had some leftover rotisserie chicken so I incorporated that into our salad. The result, a tasty chicken & black bean salad.

I layered a bag of salad greens, about a cup of shredded chicken, 1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed), 1 cup corn kernels, 2T real bacon bits, halved cherry tomatoes, and 1/2 cup 2% shredded cheese. I topped each serving off with some reduced fat ranch dressing (our favorite is Light Done Right by Kraft). This makes about 6 servings.

I used the Spark People recipe calculator to figure the calories on this. It has 225 calories and 7 grams of fat.

Kid Rating: (still minus one kid in my ratings, poor thing is still sick with the stomach bug) 4 Thumbs Up!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cooking with Luci: Peanutty Chicken & Pasta

I've mentioned before that when it comes time to make our weekly menu and plan the grocery list, I sit down with each of the kids one-on-one and they plan one meal. Mondays are Luci's days and her plan this week was:
Peanutty Chicken & Pasta
Steamed Broccoli

Peanutty Chicken & Pasta is a recipe from her Southern Living for Kids cookbook. We are steadily working our way through this wonderful collection of recipes!

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2T coconut milk
2T creamy peanut butter
1/4 t sesame oil
8 ounces uncooked pasta
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup shredded carrot
2 green onions
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/3 cup chopped unsalted peanuts

Luci got all of her ingredients prepared before cooking. This meant chopping veggies and measuring some of her ingredients. 

The first step in the recipe is to whisk together the first four ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Luci had a little difficulty getting the peanut butter to whisk into the soy sauce mixture, so I had to help a bit. 

After the mixture has been whisked together and set aside, it's time to cook the pasta (according to package directions, omitting salt and fat). 

When the pasta is tender, drain and place in a large bowl. Add  sauce, chicken, carrot, green onions, and bell pepper; toss gently to blend. 

Sprinkle with chopped peanuts.  This recipe makes 4 servings. 

This recipe has 453 calories and 14 grams of fat per serving.

(Note: For this recipe I only had 2 kids giving me their 'kid rating'. One of my kids was sick with a stomach virus.)
Kid Rating: 4Thumbs Up!