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Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash with sauce

Date: October 6

Recipe: http://www.closetcooking.com/2015/09/sausage-and-pepper-stuffed-spaghetti.html

Modifications: Actually didn’t use sausage – we used ground beef that we had on hand instead. Also just used a single squash.

Servings: Fed the four of us for dinner with a little leftover.

Time to table: You can prep the filling while the squash is roasting, I’d say 45 minutes total.

Erin: Like

Ben: Like

Annie: Dislike

Luke: Dislike

Notes: This was pretty easy to make, even for a weeknight, and I think its one that you could experiment with quite a bit. I liked it a lot and its a healthy meal that I think I could get the kids to like more with some different filling.

Spaghetti squash with sauce

Crockpot Chicken and Corn Chowder

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Date: October 5

Recipe: http://www.pink-parsley.com/2011/11/crock-pot-chicken-corn-chowder.html

Modifications: Added some celery, and a few more carrots than called for

Servings: Many – will feed our family of 4 for 2 nights and probably get a few lunches out of it too

Time to table: I’m slow, but it took me probably 40 minutes to prep this (then the hours of crockpot time)

Erin: Like

Ben: Love

Annie: Like (but not enough to want it in her lunch)

Luke: Meh, didn’t hate it

Notes: I typically think of crockpot meals as quick. This was not quick. I had a baby strapped to me, and thought I’d just have to chop some veggies and throw it in the crockpot, but no. I also was very confused by the step of making bacon, and then having the bacon never mentioned again. You could put it in the crockpot but it’d probably get mushy – I saved it and chopped it up and added to my soup (and Annie and Luke just ate the pieces by themselves). Then the added step of sautéing onions and garlic and making a roux, etc. For sure not something to quickly “throw together” before work, but if you plan ahead and actually know what’s coming (and chop veggies the night before) it would be doable. The soup was really good, and I do think it’s worth the effort for the amount of food it makes especially. Very slightly spicy but not overpowering.

Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken

Date: August 19th

Recipe: http://www.mealplanning101.com/2008/09/slow-cooker-butter-chicken.html

Modifications: No cayenne pepper in the dish itself.

Servings: 4-5

Erin: Like

Ben: Love

Annie & Luke: Like, I guess?

Notes: Our neighbors were having this at their house one night when we crashed in to say ‘hello’ and it looked excellent and easy, and it was! The kids surprisingly ate this really well, in spite of their skepticism. Great leftovers for lunches too. We made sautéed kale as a side dish which went great with it.

Butter Chicken

Cruciferous Crunch with quinoa and chickpeas

Cruciferous Crunch with quinoa and chickpeas

Date: July 21st Recipe: -2 cups cooked quinoa (I always prepare using chicken broth) -1 can drained chickpeas -1 bag Trader Joe’s cruciferous crunch -Salt and Pepper -Juice of 2 lemons -Optional – toasted almond slices (I did not have these) Directions: (This is exactly how I made it based on instructions from Maria that I slightly modified) Saute a can of drained chickpeas in a little olive oil with some salt until they are browned (maybe 5 minutes), then add the cruciferous crunch and about 1/2 cup water – stir and cover to steam. Add in quinoa, salt and pepper to taste, and lemon juice (we have frozen cubes of it so I put one cube in). Top with almond slices if you have them. Time to table: Including making the quinoa, probably 30 minutes. If you didn’t have to do that and had cooked quinoa frozen, it’d be maybe 15 minutes total. Servings: 4-5 Erin: Like Ben: Like Annie: Tolerate but had some negative facial expressions Luke: Tolerate Notes: This recipe came from my college roommate Maria in response to a “dinner ideas” email chain – it sounded so easy that I had to try it right away! We aren’t huge Trader Joe’s fans – I go there a few times a year and just don’t see what the fuss is all about – but this caused a special trip! We will definitely make this again because it is SO fast, cheap and healthy. I wish I could get a mix like this at a place other than TJ’s though, or that it was more freezable (I doubt the cabbage or broccoli frozen raw would fare well).   Cruciferous Crunch with quinoa and chickpeas

Cruciferous Crunch with quinoa and chickpeas

Cruciferous Crunch with quinoa and chickpeas
I had a hunch the kids wouldn’t eat this one so well, so offered the PB toast too. The little things in the bottom right are some 100 calorie Special-K blondie bites that Chelsea brought me – those were a big hit obviously :)

Chicken wraps with guacamole and black bean salsa

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Date: June 1

Recipe: http://www.annies-eats.com/2012/01/11/roasted-chicken-wraps-with-black-bean-salsa-and-guacamole/

Modifications:  I just used this as an idea – purchased the black bean salsa, got spinach wraps, spinach, sauteed chicken, and made guacamole like I usually make it. (I use 3 avocados, one roma tomato, 1/2 red onion, cilantro, salt, pepper, lime juice and a splash of worcestershire sauce)

Time to table: 30 minutes, we already had the shredded chicken

Servings: I think I’ll get 4 lunches out of this

Erin: Like

Notes: Always hate doing the prep work for lunches on Sunday nights but then am so happy I did during the week. I’m guessing the guac will get kind of sketchy by Thursday but I’ll probably survive.

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Pretty nice day for lunch outside! You can just see the skyline of Minneapolis.

BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad

BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad

Date: May 4th

Recipe: http://whatsgabycooking.com/bbq-chicken-quinoa-salad/

Modifications:  I added a sautéed onion because we had half of one in the fridge, and I added paprika, garlic powder, and salt to the mix.

Time to table: 30 minutes, we already had the shredded chicken

Servings: Dinner + 2 lunches

Erin: Like

Ben: Like

Luke: Dislike

Annie: Meh, she ate it ok, not her fave.

Notes: This was pretty easy and really flavorful, I’d try it again when we have some leftover pulled pork too.

Simple Chicken Curry

Chicken curry

Date: April 28

Recipe: http://navigatingthemothership.blogspot.com/2015/04/5-minute-chicken-curry-with-spicy.html

Modifications:  Had chard for the greens, didn’t use hot sauce. Used previously cooked and frozen shredded chicken as Laura did.

Time to table: Probably a half hour or more because I forgot to cook the rice, which frequently happens to me. Whoops.

Servings: 6 adults

Erin: Like

Ben: Love

Luke: HATE!!!!! Gagged on the chicken, said the greens “tasted like salad!!” and had the 3 bites I made him eat and no more.

Annie: Dislike, not as strongly as Luke. She actually ate a bite and didn’t say anything, but then after Luke gagged, she informed us that actually she didn’t like this meal either.

Notes: Predictably, the children hated this because it was DIFFERENT. It was really quick though, and both Ben and I enjoyed it, so we will make it again. We’ll add chopped onion and maybe even some other veggie to the curry next time, and definitely make more greens. Luke hates literally any meal served with rice, like anything at all. The below is what I do when I KNOW full well that the kids are going to not eat what we’re serving, to at least encourage them to try it without much pressure. This has been all of our meals this week – including beef stir fry and tuna salad (which I forgot but I guess Annie does like and Luke seemed somewhat okay with as long as he didn’t ingest a pea. He likes snap peas but not just peas. Children! Annie also is fine with the beef stir fry but lord knows we couldn’t give them different things.)

Chicken curry


Beer Braised Brisket

Beer braised brisket

Date: April 4th, 2015

Recipe: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/beer-braised-brisket

Coleslaw recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/creamy-cole-slaw-recipe.html

Modifications:  Didn’t have dijon mustard, so I used some stone ground stuff we had. Missed the broiling step, which would have added a nice crust to it, I’ll do that next time. I had to cut the brisket in half to fit in the dutch oven, I want to get this roasting pan so I don’t need to cut it next time.

Time to table: 30 minutes to prep the brisket with the sauce the day before, then six hours in the oven the day of cooking. Coleslaw took 45 minutes or so.

Servings: Tons. We had our friends and their three kids over for dinner and we’re going to have at least three dinners worth of left overs.

Erin: Like

Ben: Love

Luke: Like

Annie: Like

Notes: I love making big cuts of meat, so fun. Braising the meat is incredibly easy, compared to using the smoker. We were at Erin’s parents’ house the whole time it was cooking, just got home and shredded it. Making coleslaw was kind of fun too, got to use an attachment for the food processor that we hadn’t even opened in five years. Cheaper than buying it at the store and you get a ton of it.

Chicken Power Bowls

Power bowl

Date: March 30, 2015

Recipe: http://iowagirleats.com/2014/02/19/chicken-power-bowls-with-crispy-baked-garbanzo-beans/

Modifications:  Subbed feta for the goat cheese, pumpkin seeds for pistachios, and the dressing got kind of chunky after being in the fridge for a few days so I ended up using store-bought balsamic which was just as good!

Time to table: Took about 45 minutes to prepare, and then maybe 5-10 minutes to assemble the salads

Servings: 4 lunches

Erin: Love

Notes: These TRULY did keep me full until dinner! This is an intense salad. I was wishing I had bigger bowls because I wanted more greens to go with all the toppings. Really loved the roasted chickpeas, will definitely be making those again! The weeks when I actually take the time to prepare something good for lunches all week make me so happy, like maybe I should just… always do that. (Note, there is a lunch category on this blog, so check that out if you need ideas too)

Crock Pot Ranchero Chicken

Crockpot chicken tostadas

Date: February 9th, 2015

Recipe: http://iowagirleats.com/2014/12/08/crock-pot-ranchero-chicken/

Time to table: 45 minutes for the sauce, prepared one day earlier. 30 minutes prep time after the chicken cooked in the crock pot all day.

Servings: About two dinners worth

Modifications: Used chicken thighs instead of breasts

Ben: Love

Erin: Love

Annie: Like

Luke: Like

Notes: The chicken turned out excellent by cooking it in the sauce, it ended up too thin though, so the chicken was messy to eat in a tortilla. We strained the liquid out so the leftovers were not as wet. Nice to have shredded chicken leftovers, they work in all sorts of dishes.

Crockpot chicken tostadas