Monday, December 8, 2014

first ski weekend reminds me of why I make meals ahead

The ski season is here! The native Southern Californian in me hasn't quite embraced the cold, yet this year. But I'm getting there, and recalling that this means an even bigger need for make-ahead meals.

First up-- protein-packed breakfasts at the ready {because the truth is, getting everyone out the door is always kind of nutty...}.

This first ski weekend I made a double batch of my go-to veggie frittata recipe with broccoli rabe, kale and a blend of Parmesan, mozzarella and Gouda. I also roasted colorful new potatoes ahead of time and made sure we had some Applegate chicken sausages on hand. I did this on Friday, and packed everything in my favorite freezer-friendly packaging, which also happens to be microwave safe {b/c it's aluminum}. Breakfast took about 10 minutes to get from fridge to the table, including reheating everything, so that made for a delicious, protein-packed start to the ski day… with minimal effort from yours truly. Somehow my coffee still managed to get cold. Ski weekends are a work in progress...

Other make-ahead, protein-rich breakfast recipes I recall being hits last year…. these hash brown/sausage/egg cups -- but I'll have to modify it for our now vegetarian tween. 

By request from our local supermarket, I created a gluten-free baked French Toast recipe last year, which I'll probably add back into to our winter repertoire. 

And there was the Herb-Walnut Frittata which I loved. 

Chilaquiles are always a hit-- and are conveniently vegetarian. Handy, since I always have to keep that in mind these days. This would be easy to whip up on a Friday and reheat it weekend mornings.

And then, of course, there's our favorite Protein Pancakes which will likely be on an every other week rotation b/c my kids love them so, and they reheat beautifully. 

For a grab-and-go option, I plan to keep these Nothin' But granola cookies on hand. 

As the ski season ramps up, my goal for the next month or so, is to test a few new recipes and get all of my favorite make-ahead breakfasts in one place, along with shopping lists, packaging recs, etc-- just like my make-ahead entree ebook-- so I have an easy go-to tool to keep my winter ski weekends organized and enjoyable (aka, sane). I'll let you know when that's available for download.

OK, so on the back end, we typically roll in from a day on the mountain pretty beat, pretty cold, and really just wanting to just relax by the fire.

Which is why it's imperative that I have a stash of made-ahead meals at the ready, so I can relax and put my feet up too. If you haven't already downloaded my ebook that walks you through a dozen freezer-friendly family meals, do it now and thank me later. It's what keeps me sane in the meal dept.

Last night, we gave a new broccoli mac and cheese recipe of mine a test-run.

Recipe testing is difficult, but someone has to do it {ha!}… that's the broccoli mac and cheese you see there made with rice noodles, with some VT farm stand maple-oat bread lathered in Kerrygold butter, and an arugula salad with maple-dijon vinaigrette that we test drove last night. And, according to our 7-year-old, those are "very special" napkin designs, created for each of us. {Um, ok? Too tired to question table setting skills...} 

So, here's to being organized and not being the family who needs to shell out $73.13 for meat lasagna at the base of the mountain!! Seriously. Want your own copy of my make-ahead meal program? Click here for the instant download.  {Yes, if you're doing the math, that makes the ebook w/ all of my secrets for successfully stocking your freezer w/ a month's worth of family meals less than 1/7 the price of one family-size meat lasagna. Crazy!} Want the scoop on what the instantly downloadable ebook includes, click here for the Q and A

Alrighty, I'm heading back into our kitchen these next couple of weeks to recipe test a round two of ahhmazing recipes. Here's to hoping I can get a Second Edition of freezer-friendly recipes together soon. Stay tuned! 

P.S. If there's a type of recipe you'd really like to see in the Second Edition of Stock Your Freezer in a Snap, leave a comment below. I'm right in the midst of laying out my recipe testing schedule, so if there's something you'd really like included, let's see if I can help you out.

Monday, December 1, 2014

the elf is back...

That's toothpaste. And, yes, it's hard to get off the mirror the next day.

Funny, my neighbor was just pointing out how we seem to get a naughty elf each year. Hers only does nice, clean, tidy stuff.

Click here for past antics. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Another {made-ahead} feast goes down in the books!

This was the first year that we had a full-fledged vegetarian at the table {my tween} and his plate overflowed with tons of veggie options: stuffing {which I'd added roasted butternut squash to this year}, mashed sweet potatoes tucked under green beans with smoked paprika vinaigrette, roasted brussels sprouts, {totally decadent} mashed red bliss potatoes, sweet-tart cider braised cabbage {minus the apples this go round} and two kinds of cranberry sauce.

This year, I roasted our brussels sprouts at 425 until they were fork tender and browned, after tossing them in some olive oil, balsamic glaze, salt and pepper. Easy and delish.

New, healthy entrant to the feast spread this year was fennel slaw. A simplified version of this recipe, to which I added some roasted slivered almonds. Ahhmazing.

As in past years, I made just about everything ahead of time, so we could

watch football

and play Mexican Train

while the turkey roasted and our kitchen was filled with the smell of roasting garlic, herbs and lemons.

Today's a day of R&R by the fire.

I'll be whipping up a batch of these stuffing fritters later on

and a batch of turkey bone broth is simmering as I write. {So worth setting aside a few hours to make.}

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

the 2014 savory pumpkin cannelloni project in pics

Drooling on your keyboard and want the Savory Pumpkin Sage Cannelloni recipe? Here you go.  And, you may click here for an amazon associate link to my recommended freezer packaging, if that's something you need for homemade holiday gift giving, or make-ahead meals

Saturday, November 8, 2014

3 Easy Family Dinner Ideas… For Days When I'd Rather Spend My Afternoon Walking vs. Cooking

I've been so focused on taking better care of myself that I haven't set aside time to write here in a few weeks. I won't lie, there is some angst that I'm not keeping up with this blog enough; that I should be posting more. But I've decided that sporadic posts are ok. It's my best effort in this moment.

That said, I came up with a few quick and EASY dinners these past few weeks, that are worth sharing. And I found myself with a few open hours today, so it's time for a new post. These recipes are for days when a lot of cooking isn't the priority, but nourishing my family still is key. So, pour yourself a glass of something delicious and let's spend a few minutes together giving you some ideas for the busy week ahead!

Easy Dinner #1 - Mediterranean Chicken

This was inspired by a recent trip to our local Whole Foods. They have this gorgeous antipasto bar, and as I whizzed through the market, I knew I was short on time to cook that afternoon/evening. So, I loaded a medium deli container with a combination of {layers, top to bottom since I know they're a little hard to see in this pic} capers, roasted garlic, roasted tomatoes and pitted kalamata olives. The other two ingredients I bought were a package of organic chicken tenders and a 15 oz jar of fire roasted crushed tomatoes. That's it. Those three ingredients.

Then, when we got home from after-school activities I preheated the oven to 350, and placed the chicken in a roasting pan, placed the contents of the antipasto tub on top, poured the crushed tomatoes on top of that, gave it all a stir, and into the oven it went until the chicken was cooked through {about 15-20 minutes, depending upon the size of your chicken pieces}. And while the kitchen was filling with these amazing aromas, the kids did homework, and I went upstairs and worked out.

Super easy, crowd pleasing dinner.

Easy Dinner #2 - Tomato-Quinoa Soup with Grilled Cheese

I have one vegetarian child, which means a few nights a week we all enjoy a veggie-based meal. And on a chilly Fall evening, really, what's better than tomato soup and grilled cheese? You can get fancy with your grilled cheese and add pesto, or you can just use good bread and some good cheese and go simple. But if I go simple on the grilled cheese, I try to make sure we're getting a protein boost another way. Easiest way I've found? Simply add a scoop of cooked quinoa to everyone's bowl of tomato soup. Usually this meal comes about when I have some leftover quinoa in the fridge. But if the request comes another night, I always have these packets in my pantry. {Oh, and I get lots of questions about my tomato soup… it's store-bought. The bowl above is Trader Joe's-brand Creamy Tomato Soup. My other favorite brand to keep on hand in my pantry is Pacific.} 

Easy Dinner #3 - Veggie Curry

Another crazy day of afternoon chauffeuring… another plant-based meal needed…. one that'll please the whole family… and can be made in mere minutes? I keep a stash of Maya Kaimal Simmer Sauces on hand in my pantry.  

On the above night, I didn't make it to the supermarket as planned after one of my children ended up home sick from school, so I had to come up with dinner from a pretty measly selection of ingredients. Normally, I like to make a veggie curry with all sorts of colors and textures, but this go round I had:
I cubed the tofu and cut the new potatoes in half and roasted them on a olive oil drizzled baking sheet, at 350, just until they had a crispy edge {about 12 minutes}. Then I popped the tofu, potatoes, rinsed and drained chickpeas and the jar of simmer sauce into a sauté pan until everything was warmed through. The result? Awesome. Everyone loved it.

So, when I am not hauling something out of my homemade freezer stash, I'm figuring out ways to get dinner on the table quickly easy and healthfully so I have enough time to take good care of myself without compromising mealtimes around here.

And it's working. I'm thrilled to share that by making more of an effort to move daily, and connecting with friends for walks a few times/week, I have lost 9 lbs in 9 weeks (!!!) in that friendly weight-loss challenge my friends and I embarked on. Want a kick in the pants too? See the small product that made a difference in my fitness journey. I truly cannot say enough good things about how something so simple has inspired me to re prioritize how I spend my days.

Here's to us all figuring the dinner gig out, and taking even better care of ourselves along the way.

Alrighty, so if a bit of time passes before the next blog post you'll know I'm just getting my skinny on, walking around town with friends… so be sure to wave if we pass each other.

Fitbit Zip

Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links that help run the full plate blog. Thank you for helping to keep this blog going!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

crunchy lentil and sweet potato salad with lemon-tahini dressing

We've just passed the half-way mark of the friendly weight-loss competition I have going with ten friends. And {drum roll} I continue to lose weight, and am feeling more and more fabulous-- and energetic-- every day. My strategy for the second half? Keep on doing what I'm doing….

Today, after hoofing it around town with a friend, she mentioned she was going to go home and enjoy leftovers from a dinner party she'd hosted. With no lunch plans of my own, I decided to forage in my own fridge and see if I could come up with an equally delicious and healthy lunch.

Saturday, I'd made a veggie frittata with Trader Joe's Cruciferous Salad {kale, broccoli and cabbage blend} + peppers + onions. But I'd eaten the last wedge of it for breakfast this morning. Bummer.

But I did find:
  • the rest of the bag of Trader Joe's "Cruciferous Salad"
  • some roasted sweet potatoes from last night's dinner 
  • a package of Trader Joe's already cooked lentils
  • a tub of Trader Joe's Tahini Sauce
  • a bunch of lemons from the hot lemon water I have first thing each morning
  • some garlic

Crunchy Lentil-Sweet Potato Salad with Tahini Dressing

Lemon-Tahini Dressing {makes about 1 cup}:
  • 8 oz container tahini (sesame paste)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2-4 cloves garlic
  • water
  • salt and pepper, to taste
In a blender, combine all ingredients, starting with 1/4 cup of water and adding water bit by bit until you get to desired consistency. 

Drizzle desired amount of Lemon-Tahini Dressing over Trader Joe's Cruciferous Salad mix. Toss to coat. Top with lentils and rough chopped sweet potato. 


Now I just have to come up with a way to incorporate the Lemon-Tahini Dressing and these leftover lentils into dinner… so the happy cycle of simple, healthy meals continues around here.