Monday, November 26, 2012

No Turkey in Sight: Weekly Menu 11/26

Bacon Macaroni Casserole, Italian Meatball Sliders, Korean Pork Tenderloin, Salmon with Hoisin Glaze

Hi friends. Since the last week included a trip out of town and the big turkey day, I haven't been up to my usual dinner routine... or any routine, for that matter. So for the Weekly Menu, I decided to round up some of my personal favorites from the past few months that include NO TURKEY because you may be completely over the leftovers.



Bacon Macaroni Casserole

Macaroni and cheese casserole with bacon

I can't imagine what you'd do to lighten this dish, so please, don't even try. Just love it an all its bacon-y, cheesy glory. I always double this recipe.

Sides: This can be a one-dish meal, but something cool like a green salad on the side would work well.

  •  Buy pre-chopped onion found in produce section
Make Ahead Notes
  • Cook pasta ahead of time, rinse well in cold water and set aside, covered, to use later
  • Chop onion
  • Cook bacon and onions
  • Assemble casserole ahead, refrigerate and bake when ready
  • 8 oz. uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 lb. bacon
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 (10.75 oz) can of condensed tomato soup
  • 1 cup milk
  •  Preheat oven to 375.
  • Cook macaroni according to package directions. (Note: It's actually better to slightly under cook pasta that will be baked. If the package calls for noodles to be boiled for 9 minutes, cook them for 6-7 minutes instead.)
  • Cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon to drain on paper towels. Reserve two tablespoons of bacon drippings in pan. Cook onion in reserved bacon drippings until tender. 
  • Combine macaroni, bacon, onion, cheese, tomato soup and milk.
  • Turn into a two quart casserole and bake at 375 for 45 minutes. Cover lightly after 30 minutes if bacon is becoming too browned.
 I have no idea where this recipe came from originally!

Korean Style Pork Tenderloin 

Korean Pork Tenderloin - easy meals to marinate
 The cooking technique for this pork dish pretty much guarantees it will be juicy. A little pink in the center is okay, and be sure to give the pork a few minutes to rest before slicing.

Sides: Trader Joe's Vegetable Fried Rice and steamed green beans drizzled with sesame oil

  • Use pre-trimmed, washed green beans
  • Use jarred, minced ginger and garlic
Make Ahead Notes: 
  •  Assemble marinade in large Ziploc and add pork to marinate in the morning
  • Place green beans in a steamer bag to microwave later
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar 
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed 
  • Cooking spray 
  • Combine first 7 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; add pork. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 8 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.
  • Preheat oven to 425°.
  • Heat a large ovenproof skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Remove pork from bag, reserving marinade. Add pork to pan; cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides.
  • Place pan in oven; bake at 425° for 15 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 160° (medium) or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.
  • Bring reserved marinade to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.
  • Cut pork into 1/4-inch-thick slices; serve with sauce.
TO FREEZE: Assemble marinade in Ziploc and add pork. Freeze immediately. While thawing, the pork will have plenty of time to marinate. Just be sure to give the bag a few good squeezes to mix up the marinade again. To prepare, thaw completely and cook as directed above.

Salmon with Hoisin Glaze

 This photo does not really do the dish justice, but trust me on this one.

Sides: Steamed edamame beans and pan-fried pot stickers (I like Trader Joe's). Serve pot stickers with soy sauce seasoned with a few drops each of sesame oil and rice vinegar.

Make Ahead Tips:
  • Combine the sauce for the salmon; marinate the salmon
  • Combine the dipping sauce for the pot stickers
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless wild salmon fillets
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • Preheat oven to 400
  • Combine first 3 ingredients in a shallow dish, such as a pie plate. Add fish to dish, turning to coat. Marinate at room temperature 8 minutes, turning occasionally
  • Remove fish from marinade; discard marinade. Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle fish evenly with sesame seeds. Bake at 400° for 8 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
  Recipe is originally from MyRecipes

Italian Meatball Sliders

  The sliders are easy, but take a bit longer to prepare, so save this one for a Sunday or a relaxed weeknight. I double the recipe, which means cooking the meatballs in batches. Cool any extra cooked meatballs completely and freeze for another night.

Side: Spinach and mozzarella salad - find the recipe on Cooking Light

Make Ahead Notes:
  • Chop up shallots for meatballs and bell pepper, onion and mozzarella for salad; cover and store in the fridge for later. Store mozzarella separately.
  • Rinse and dry basil leaves
  • Measure out dry seasonings in a small bowl
Ingredients for shopping list:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil + more for salad
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 shallots, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces lean ground pork
  • 2 (4-ounce) links turkey Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 ½  cups lower-sodium marinara sauce
  • 12 slider buns, toasted
  • 12 basil leaves 
  • 1 cup julienne cut red bell pepper
  • 1 cup sliced red onion
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 6 cups baby spinach
  • About 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mozzarella
  • Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat; swirl to coat. Add garlic and shallots to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until shallots are softened, stirring frequently. Combine shallot mixture, ricotta, and next 8 ingredients (through egg) in a medium bowl. Shape mixture into 12 (1-inch) meatballs; flatten each meatball slightly.
  • 2. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil to pan. Add meatballs to pan; cook 6 minutes, turning once. Add marinara sauce; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes or until meatballs are done. Top bottom half of each bun with 1 1/2 tablespoons sauce, 1 meatball, 1 basil leaf, and top half of bun.

Directions for salad: Combine red bell pepper, red onion, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar in a large bowl; let stand 15 minutes. Add the baby spinach, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Toss. Top with the fresh mozzarella.

 Find the recipe on MyRecipes

Monday, November 19, 2012

Save Energy for Turkey Day: Weekly Menu 11/19

Save energy for Turkey Day: easy family menus for a holiday week

The thing that always throws me off about Thanksgiving is that despite all the shopping, prepping, cooking and baking you do for the big day, you still have to get meals on the table leading up to that day, especially if you have house guests. So I've been trying out soups and other dishes, mainly prepared in the slow cooker, that allow you to serve a nice dinner, while saving your cooking energy for Turkey Day itself. I especially like the soups - if you're at a loss for what to serve guests or family for lunch or dinner over the holiday, throw on one of these soups and set out the makings for sandwiches. Done!

Here are some other dishes from Weekly Menus that feed with speed:

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Italian Sausage Soup

Quick Italian Sausage Soup with fresh grated Parmesan cheese on top

Here's a dish that I made way too often many years ago, and recently rediscovered it. This soup is the ultimate cheat because you can have it on the table in 20 minutes, but it tastes like it cooked way longer. Don't skip the grated cheese on top - that's a must-have.

Sides: Garlic bread

Make Ahead Notes
  • Grate Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • Rinse and chop basil - set aside, but do not refrigerate
  • 1 lb mild or sweet Italian sausage
  • 4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
  • 1 cup uncooked small shell pasta
  • 3-4 cups bagged baby spinach leaves
  • 4 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • Heat a pot over medium heat. Remove casings from sausage. Add sausage to pan, and cook about 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain any excess fat.
  • Add broth, tomatoes, and pasta to pan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until pasta is done. Remove from heat; stir in spinach until wilted. Sprinkle each serving with cheese and basil.

 Recipe from

Crock Pot Mongolian Beef

Mongolian Beef cooked in crock pot and served over rice with choped scallions

The sweet-salty combo of the sauce in this made it a winner with kids.

Sides: Rice and sauteed snow peas

  • Use jarred, minced ginger, usually found near jarred garlic
  • Use jarred, minced garlic
  • Buy bagged shredded carrots
Make Ahead Notes
  • Cut steak and refrigerate for later
  • Chop green onions

  • 1.5 pounds beef flank steak, cut into stir fry sized strips
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 3 medium green onions, chopped
  • Coat flank steak pieces in cornstarch. Add remainder of ingredients to crock pot and stir well to combine. 
  • Place flank steak into the crock pot and cook on high for 2-3 hours or on low for 4-5 hours. Serve over rice or noodles, if desired.
Recipe from Once a Month Mom

 Crock Pot Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash soup cooked in a crock pot and topped with sour cream and chives
  This soup gives you an earthy fall flavor, but it's not at all heavy. A mixing wand or hand blender makes fast work of pureeing the soup right in the crock pot.

Sides: Spinach or kale salad plus beer bread or another rustic bread

  • Buy already-peeled and cubed squash, such as Trader Joe's option
  • Buy pre-peeled apple slices (the kind you might buy for a kid's snack)
Make Ahead Notes
  • Peel outside of squash with a potato peeler, cut in half lengthtwise, scoop out seeds and cube into 1" pieces
  • Cut off root end and dark green end on leeks, then cut in half lengthwise. Take off tough outermost layers and soak remaining cut pieces in a shallow dish of water to get the grit out. Rinse and pat dry, then chop into half-inch pieces and set aside for later.
  • Peel and chop apples. If setting aside for later, soak apples for a few minutes in a mixture of 1 cup water with 1tsp lemon juice to stop browning. Pat dry and refrigerate for later.
  • 2 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cubed 1" size (about 1 medium squash) 
  • 2 cups leeks, chopped (whites and light green only)
  • 2 large granny smith apples, peeled, cored, diced
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp marjoram, ground (I used poultry seasoning instead)
  • Salt to taste
  • White pepper to taste 
  • Sour cream or plain yogurt (optional)
  • Chives for garnish
  • In a 5-quart slow cooker, combine the squash, leeks, apples, broth and water.
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 7 hours or until the squash and leeks are very tender. You can speed up the process by cooking 3-4 hours on HIGH. Add seasonings after 5-6 hours on LOW or 2-3 on HIGH.
  • Using a mixing wand, carefully puree the soup in the slow cooker until a you have a smooth, uniform texture. Turn on HIGH for another 1/2 hour.
  • Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt swirled into soup on top and garnish with chives.

Recipe from Group Recipes

Extra Credit: Crock Pot Chicken Broth

Chicken Broth cooked on a crockpot

If you eat rotisserie chicken or any roasted chicken on the bone, save the bones and you can make homemade chicken broth with practically no effort. You'll feel so good about being resourceful with kitchen scraps that otherwise would be discarded. By the way, use this same technique with the turkey when that bird is picked clean later this week.

  • One rotisserie chicken, picked clean of meat (okay to leave on skin, but be sure to remove any string that trussed the bird)
  • 2-3 celery ribs
  • 1/2 onion, cut into large chunks
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks (or a small handful of baby carrots)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning or a combo of thyme, sage and marjoram
  • Water
  • Optional:  fresh parsley (just rinse the springs and put in whole), chopped garlic
  • Put all ingredients in the crock pot and fill with water until the water is about one inch above the bird.
  • Cook on HIGH 6 hours.
  • Pour the mixture through a colander with a large bowl underneath to strain and collect the broth. Discard all bones and vegetables.
  • Cool completely and store broth in glass jars or in small Ziploc bags in 1 cup portions. If you store in Ziplocs, leave a little room in the bag for expansion. Lay them flat to freeze and they will take up way less room on your freezer shelves.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dinner On-the-Go: Weekly Menu 11/12

Dinners on the Go for nights with games, practices and other family activities

Back when I first launched this blog, I put out a call for content requests and my friend Alyce said that a pain point in her household was trying to figure out how to feed the family when dinnertime is interrupted by sports practices or games, dance rehearsals or other activities. Turns out this is a pain point for a lot of you out there.

This fall, we are SO in that boat. Three nights out of the week, there are volleyball and soccer practices right at dinnertime. The kids on the go need to eat... so do we... and so do my younger kids. For the past couple of months I've tried different dinners to see what could be prepared super-fast, travel well and reheat well if needed. This week, there's no extra credit - we are all about the dinners on the go.

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad - a dinner for nights on the go to games, practices and more
The kids and my husband totally devoured this dish. It has a fresh taste that can be adjusted in lots of ways with different fresh herbs (chives would be nice) and salad dressings, such as buttermilk ranch instead of Caesar.

Sides: Baked sweet potatoes

  • Buy feta cheese that's already crumbled
 Make Ahead Notes
  • Slice Romaine lettuce, tomatoes and basil; chop tomatoes and parsley
  • 3 cups skinned, shredded roasted chicken breast (I use store-bought rotisserie chicken)
  • 3 cups hot cooked penne (about 6 ounces uncooked pasta)
  • 2 cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce
  • 1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/3 cup creamy Caesar dressing
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 (4-ounce) package crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; toss well to coat.
ON THE GO:  Place in a Tupperware container with dressing on the side if the dinner will not be eaten immediately.

Recipe adapted from

Barbecue Chicken Sliders

Barbecue Chicken Sliders - dinners for nights on the go to games, practices and other family activities
If you have NO time, this is the dinner for you. To get the soft butter called-for, I highly recommend a butter bell, which keeps butter safely spreadable at room temp. It is now a must-have in our kitchen.

 Sides: Roasted corn (frozen) from Trader Joe's or oven fries

Make Ahead Notes
  • Bring butter to room temp
  • Chop parsley
  • Combine butter, parsley, garlic, S&P, cover and set aside at room temp if you'll use within a couple hours or in fridge if you'll use later

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups favorite bottled barbecue sauce
  • 3 tablespoons room temperature butter
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • Salt and pepper
  • Slider rolls or other favorite rolls
  • Combine the butter, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  • Set the butter mixture aside.
  • Shred the chicken.
  • Put the chicken into a saucepan and add the barbecue sauce. Warm over medium heat until heated through.
  • Meanwhile, butter your rolls. Stick them in a hot oven or toaster oven to toast.
  • Put some chicken mixture on the toasty, garlic roll. 
  • ON THE GO: Follow all directions and wrap sandwich(es) in foil.
 Recipe from BakedBree

Fried Rice

Fried Rice: dinners for nights on the go to games, practices and other family activities
 Here's what I love about fried rice - it's comforting and warm, it's nutritious and filling, it can handle just about any veggie on hand and the main ingredient is a leftover item. 

Sides: This can be a main dish while on the go or a side dish if served at home. If it's a side, serve it with something like Asian Glazed Grilled Chicken or Korean Style Pork Tenderloin.

  • Use leftover carry-out or home-cooked rice (this is an essential time-saver). Make sure the rice has been refrigerated and is COLD. Freshly cooked, hot rice is too soft and will turn gluey if you try to fry it.
Make Ahead Notes
  • Chop up cooked veggies and/or defrost veggies

  • 2 1/2 tsp sesame oil or other cooking oil such as canola, divided
  • 2-3 eggs, whisked together
  • 2 cups cold cooked rice (must be cold to fry properly)
  • Any cooked leftover or thawed veggies you have on hand - shelled edamame, cooked, diced carrots, mushrooms, etc.
  • Soy sauce and hoisin sauce to taste
  • Chopped green onions (green part only)
  • Heat 1 tsp oil over medium heat; add whisked eggs. Pour in eggs and let them set on the bottom (we're making scrambled eggs here). With a heat-resistant spatula, push eggs from outside to center, repeating until eggs are cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Add remaining oil and turn heat to medium-high. Add cold rice and stir-fry for about 4-6 minutes, or until rice becomes golden brown from the frying. Stir only occasionally; the rice needs time to sit in the pan and develop a bit of a "crust." 
  • Add veggies until heated through.
  • Stir in soy sauce and hoisin sauce to taste. About 1 teaspoon each is a good start.
  • Garnish with chopped green onions.
  • ON THE GO: Place fried rice in a thermos to keep it hot.

Orecchiette with Mozzarella & Tomatoes

Orecchiette with Mozzarella & Tomatoes: dinners for nights on the go to games, practices and other family activities
This salad is mild and contains ingredients that even picky eaters will usually accept. Spice up your portion with a sprinkle of crushed red peppers if you prefer a little heat.

Sides: Arugula salad tossed with vinaigrette or choice and crusty bread

Make Ahead Notes
  • Chop tomatoes and mozzarella, set aside for later
  • Chop mozzarella and set aside in fridge for later
  • 2 cups uncooked orecchiette (about 8 ounces uncooked
  • 3 cups chopped plum tomato 
  • 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) diced fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup loosely packed chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain and rinse under cold water. Drain. Combine pasta, tomato, and remaining ingredients. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.
ON THE GO:  Place in a Tupperware container; consider adding basil right before eating.

Recipe from

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

5 More Drugstore Beauty Finds

Ever since my last Drugstore Beauty Finds list, I've kept an eye out for other budget-friendly beauty items that can be found at places like Target, CVS and Walgreens. I'm happy to report that there are several great items, which you might try for yourself or consider as small holiday gifts for daughters or other girls in your life who enjoy trying a lip gloss or nail polish.

Rimmel Stay Glossy Long Lasting Lip Gloss

Drugstore Beauty Finds: Rimmel Stay Glossy in All Night Long

Rimmel Stay Glossy is a super comfortable gloss that is not sticky or drying, and comes in a variety of shades that actually stay put for quite a while. My favorites are All Night Long, which is a plummy dark pink (pictured here), and Immortal Charm, a nude-blush color that looks great layered over lip liner. Each gloss is currently $4.99 at At that price, get one for the purse and one for the car!

Yes to Cucumbers Soothing Eye Gel

Yes to Cucumbers Soothing Eye Gel

Yes to Cucumbers Soothing Eye Gel indeed smells like cucumbers, plus it's soothing, cool and is paraben-free and cruelty-free. I especially love how it feels when I dab it on my eyes after a long stretch in front of the computer. Also, a little goes a long way, so count on this product to last a while.

Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector B.B. Cream

Garnier Skin Renewal B.B. Cream

So what the heck is a B.B. cream? It stands for "blemish balm," and in the case of Garnier Skin Renew B.B. Cream, it's a skin brightener + a tinted moisturizer. I love that it's a good moisturizer and it evens out my skin tone. There are plenty more expensive B.B. creams out there, but if you want to see what they're all about, this option at about $13 is worth trying.

Healthy Sexy Hair Soy Renewal Nourishing Styling Treatment

 Heathy Sexy Hair Soy Renewal Nourishing Styling Treatment

I grabbed an airplane-friendly size of Healthy Sexy Hair Soy Renewal Treatment in a Rite-Aid in September on a whim and fell in love with it. You can use it on damp or dry hair, so it's versatile. It smells great, smooths frizz, adds shine and makes your hair baby soft, but not weighed down or oily.

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Fast Dry Nail Color

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Fast Dry Nail Color

Last weekend, my good intentions to get a mani/pedi before a party were shut down by an over-scheduled Saturday, so I ducked into CVS and grabbed two bottles of Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Nail Color. The polish comes with a wide brush for easy application, and I have to say that several days later, the polish has held its own, showing no more wear and tear than you'd have with a salon mani/pedi.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Meatless Wonder: Weekly Menu 11/5

Weekly Menu Meatless Dinners

In our family, I think a few of us could survive on meat and chocolate, with cereal thrown in for the occasional textural change. But just as we try to add more fish in our diet, we also try to prepare a meat-free meal at least once a week. With these recipes, you'll still get plenty of protein from cheeses or beans, as well as from fortified pasta if that's what you like. Plus, the leftovers from these dishes are great - the pasta dishes tend to taste even better the next day. Another tasty meatless option from an earlier Weekly Menu is the Gnocchi with Corn and Arugula in Cream Sauce.

 On a closing note, has pumpkin worn out its welcome yet? I cannot get enough, as evidenced by the Pumpkin Bread and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, and now this - Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins. This week's Extra Credit recipe is a 5-ingredient, semi-homemade deal that results in a yummy, cream cheese-filled spicy pumpkin muffin. I found this recipe a few years ago and love it for its convenience, especially as we head into a b-u-s-y holiday season. 


Spaghetti with Artichoke Hearts and Tomatoes

Spaghetti with a sauce of artichokes, cream, tomatoes and topped with fresh basil
 This is a pantry-staple go-to dinner that I often serve to my family, and once served it to a bunch of friends the night before a half marathon so could carb up on something interesting.

Sides: This is a one-dish meal, so no sides are necessary, though I like to add garlic bread.

  • Use high quality, pre-grated Parmesan cheese
  • Buy pre-chopped fresh onion
Make Ahead Notes
  • Chop herbs - have a kid cut them with clean scissors if you can
  • Grate cheese
  • Dice onion
  • Drain and chop artichoke hearts
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1/2 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
  • 1 can Artichoke Hearts (14.5 Oz. Quartered Or Whole) Drained
  • 1 can Diced Tomatoes With Juice (14.5 Oz.)
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 cup Chicken Broth (use more as needed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound Thin Spaghetti
  • 1 cup Parmesan Cheese, Freshly Grated
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Chives (or Other Herbs) Chopped
  • Cook spaghetti till al dente. Drain and set aside.
  • Melt olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add artichoke hearts and tomatoes. Stir and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Stir in cream, chicken broth and nutmeg. Add salt and pepper to taste (do not undersalt!) Cook over low heat until heated through, then turn off heat.
  • Place drained pasta in a large bowl. Sprinkle with 1 cup Parmesan. Pour sauce over the top. Add chives. Toss lightly to combine and coat; add a tiny bit of reserved pasta water if sauce seems too thick.

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman

Vegetarian Burritos

Burritos filled with beans, rice, cheese and tomatoes
 No joke - you can have this prepped in maybe 15 minutes in the morning before going to work or getting kids off to school, put it in the fridge and then pop it in the oven when you get home.

Sides: Tortilla chips, salsa and guacamole

  • Buy pre-shredded cheese
  • Get layered Mexican dip at your grocery store and serve with the burritos instead of separate toppings
  • Use pre-cooked, bagged rice, such as Uncle Ben’s or Trader Joe's
Make Ahead Notes:
  • Cook rice earlier in the day, if not buying pre-cooked rice
  • You can make the whole thing early in the day, cover it and throw it in the fridge to bake later. If you do that, wait to put the salsa and cheese on until right before baking. Sometimes I’ll prep this while the kids eat breakfast because the effort level is that low. If you have the pre-cooked rice, you can make these up in about 15-20 minutes, tops.
  • 10 flour tortillas
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1 can pinto or black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can of Mexican style diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 envelope of taco seasoning
  • 8 oz. shredded Cheddar cheese, plus extra for sprinkling on top of burritos
  • 2 cups of cooked rice, white or brown (if using pre-cooked, bagged rice, follow package directions to warm)
  • 1 cup of salsa (I prefer the fresh kind found in tubs in refrigerated section at grocery store)
  • Chopped green onions (optional)
  • Toppings to go on burritos: sour cream, chopped green onions, guacamole, salsa, hot sauce
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Lightly coat a 9x13 pan with cooking spray
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, stir together all beans, tomatoes with juice and taco seasoning. The refried beans will be chunky, so gently break them up as you mix. When mixture is heated through and well-combined, about 3-5 minutes, remove from heat.
  • Set up an assembly line with the tortillas, the rice in a bowl, the cheese in a bowl, the tomato-bean mixture in the pan and the baking dish on the end.
  • One by one, fill tortillas with about 3 tbsp. each of rice, tomato mixture and cheese. Try to save some cheese to sprinkle on top of burritos when baking. Roll up each tortilla gently and place seam-side down in pan. The amounts of rice, tomatoes/beans and cheese that go into each burrito don’t matter much – you really can’t go wrong. You may find that you fill only 6 burritos because you like them fuller, or 8-10 if you go a little lighter on the filling. Pour salsa over burritos and sprinkle extra cheese on top.
  • Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes, or until heated through. Remove foil and cook 5 more minutes or so until the cheese on top is slightly browned and melty.

Baked Stuffed Pasta Shells

Pasta Shells Stuffed with Ricotta and Mozzarella and Baked
This takes a little more assembly time than the usual weekday meal, but if you double the recipe, you can freeze extra portions for a future meal, so the extra effort will be worth it.

Make Ahead Notes 
  • Chop herbs - have a kid cut them with clean scissors if you can
  • Combine cheese filling and refrigerate for later
  • Cook pasta shells - be sure to rinse well with cold water and drain 
  • If possible, assemble the shells completely and just bake when you are ready to eat
  • 12 ounces jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 1/4 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded (Reserve 1/4 cup)
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 lbs ricotta cheese
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 8 ounces spaghetti sauce (jarred or homemade)
  • fresh basil, chopped, for garnish 
  • In an 8 quart pot, bring water to a boil and cook shells for 8 minutes or until al dente.
  • Drain and cool immediately with cold water.
  • Drain and place open side down on paper towels.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the rest of ingredients except the spaghetti sauce.
  • Reserve the 1/4 cup of Mozzarella.
  • Place a thin layer of spaghetti sauce into the bottom of a 12 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Spoon the cheese mixture into each pasta shell and place open side up, in a single layer, in prepared pan.
  • Pour the rest of sauce over the stuffed shells.
  • Loosely cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
  • During last 5 minutes of baking, remove foil and sprinkle remaining Mozzarella cheese on top.
  • Bake 5 more minutes. Garnish with fresh chopped basil.
  • TO FREEZE: Assemble stuffed shells, but do not use tomato sauce and do not bake them. Place stuffed shells on a baking sheet to freeze individually. When frozen, store together in a Ziploc bag. 
Recipe from

Extra Credit: Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins

Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater! This is a semi-homemade tasty cheat using a boxed cake mix to make pumpkin spice muffins with a cream cheese center. These just may save you during the holidays when you feel obligated to show up with a baked good.

Make Ahead Notes
  • Take cream cheese out to soften at room temperature
  • 8-ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 package spice cake mix
  • 15-ounces canned pumpkin
Sprinkle Turbinado sugar on top before baking or powdered sugar after baking (I recommend doing this optional step - it really improves the look of the muffins)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin tin, including top, with cooking spray.
  • Beat filling ingredients together until combined.
  • Beat muffin ingredients together until combined. (To be clear, you are only using the mix and the pumpkin. Nothing else — ignore the box instructions.) Batter will be thick.
  • Drop about 1 tablespoon of the batter into each muffin cup, spreading it to cover the bottom.
  • Drop in a level tablespoon of filling.
  • Cover with enough batter to fill the muffin cups full. Yes full.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
  • If you like a warm, gooey center, serve the muffins warm. Otherwise, let them cool longer and the filling will firm up for you.
Makes 12 muffins

Recipe found on BabyCenter