Monthly Archives: April, 2012

Vegetarian Enchiladas

Everyone in the house liked this meal – even my 2 year old, who likes very little.  It is so refreshing to have a meal where there is little whining about what we are eating.  And the best part is that this is a meatless meal.  I have had a hard time finding ones that everyone in the house can agree upon!  The pepper jack cheese adds just enough spice that it isn’t bland but isn’t to hot for the kids to eat. 

Vegetarian Enchiladas

2 Tbsp. + olive oil
2 tsp. cumin

1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. tomato paste
1 can veggie broth + 3/4 c. water
salt/pepper to taste
3 c. grated pepper jack cheese
1 can black beans
2 c. fresh spinach chopped
10 oz. frozen corn, thawed
6 scallions
8 whole wheat tortillas (burrito size)




Make the enchilada sauce – over medium heat, heat oil and then cumin, flour, and tomato paste, whisking 1 min. Whisk in broth and water and bring to a boil. Simmer and cook until thickened (5-8 minutes). Season with salt/pepper and set aside.

Combine 2 c. cheese with beans, spinach, corn, and scallions in a bowl.

Grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray or olive oil.

Warm tortillas for 1 min. in microwave wrapped in damp paper towel.

Fill each tortilla with 1/3 c. filling, roll and place in pan seam down.

Top with sauce and remaining 1 c. cheese.

(If freezer cooking, freeze at this point covered with foil.  Add additional 30-40 minutes onto baking time if baking from frozen).  Bake at 400 degrees uncovered for 25-30 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Husband Rating: 7 out of 10

Food for Thought:  I do like to try to incorporate at least one meatless meal a week if possible and this is a great one for that.  My husband didn’t even realize this was vegetarian until I told him.  However, if you feel like a meal is only complete when it has some meat in it, it would be easy to adapt this recipe.  Simply cook up 1/2 lb. of ground beef or cook and shred 2 chicken breasts (season both with garlic, cumin, salt, pepper) and add that to the corn and bean mixture before rolling into burritos.  I am also thinking that maybe next time I make this I would add some chopped red pepper to it as well.  I think that might add a nice flavor.


Maple Cinnamon Granola

Maple Cinnamon Granola
7 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
4 c. multi-grain cereal mix (I got it at Trader Joe’s; it has rye, barley, oats, and wheat)
1 c. raw sunflower seeds
1 1/2 c. sliced almonds
1 1/2 c. pecan pieces
1 1/2 c. walnut pieces
1/2 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
1 c. unsulfured dried apricots, cut up
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. pure maple syrup
1/2 c. honey
1 c. coconut oil
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
2 c. dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine rolled oats, multi-grain cereal, sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, walnuts, coconuts, and apricots.
In a medium sauce pan, combine salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, coconut oil, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Heat over medium heat until boiling.  Pour over oats mixture and stir until all is evenly coated.
Spread mixture over two baking sheets and bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until mixture is golden and crunchy.
Allow to cool.  Add dried cranberries and store in an airtight container or ziploc baggie.
Food for Thought: This is great served with Greek yogurt or with milk.  My guys like it even just plain in a bowl to crunch on for snack.  To add a little variety, any dried fruit would work instead of the craisins – I personally love dried cherries and blueberries in this as well. 

Garlicky Meatballs and Linquine

This is my kind of comfort food – a good meatball with sauce and pasta.  I know my kids are going to eat it and unknowingly get a few good veggies in there too!

Adapted from Cooking Light, March 2012

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 c. Panko
1/2 c. chopped fresh basil
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp. olive oil
1 large jar tomato basil sauce
1/2 c. finely chopped spinach (see hint below for spinach)
1/2 c. finely chopped carrot
16 oz. spinach linguine

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Reserve 1/3 c. pasta water when draining.

Combine beef and next 6 ingredients (through egg) and shape into 1 inch meatballs.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add meatballs and cook 5-7 minutes browning on all sides.

Reduce heat to medium low, add tomato basil sauce, chopped spinach, chopped carrot, and reserved pasta water.  Cover and cook additional 15 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.

Serve over pasta with Parmesan cheese.

Food for Thought:  This is an easy freezer meal.  Simply assemble the meatballs and brown them.  Let them cool before freezing them.  When you are ready to eat, place meatballs in a skillet and add the sauce ingredients and cooked until hot all the way through.

For the spinach, a good friend recently told me that she buys the large containers of fresh organic spinach at a store like Costco and finely chop it in her food processor.  Then, she freezes the chopped spinach in ice cube trays and pops the spinach cubes out into freezer bags so that she can easily add spinach to any of her meals.  I did this and it was so easy!  I like to toss spinach in just about anything but don’t always need the large 10 oz. package worth.  This way I can pick and choose how much I add and I know that it is something the boys will unknowingly consume!  Yay! I plan to keep up my stock of chopped spinach in the freezer now that I know this trick.  (I haven’t tried this for carrot yet but may do so.  It seems like it should work the same way and again, carrot is an easy veggie to add to many meals without impacting flavor greatly.)

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

That’s right, veggies for breakfast.  Pumpkin has to be the friendliest vegetable to put in anything.  It tastes good and a testimony to that is my 2 1/2 year old eating six pancakes for breakfast today.  (This recipe makes about 3 1/2 dozen pancakes because I like to freeze them for future use.  However the recipe is easy to half if you don’t want that many.)

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

3 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. allspice
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. salt
3 1/2 c. buttermilk
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree
2 tsp. vanilla
4 Tbsp. flaxseed meal in 3/4 c. warm water
1/4 c. cooking oil

Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a large mixing bowl.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together buttermilk, pumpkin, vanilla, flaxseed meal, and cooking oil. 

Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix well. 

Heat a griddle over medium heat or to when water just sizzles when dripped on it.  Scoop 1/4 c. pancake batter onto the griddle.  Flip pancake when bubbles rise and pop in the middle of the batter.  Cook until batter is no longer doughy. 

Serve with butter, maple syrup, whipped cream, toasted pecans, fresh fruit, or whatever is to you liking.

Food for Thought: To freeze these, simply allow pancakes to cool completely and then stack them with wax paper in between each pancake.  Put stack into freezer bags (I use quart sized bags and stack about 6 pancakes in each).  To reheat, simply pop into the toaster or microwave for about 30 seconds until hot.

Healthy Cookies

Yes, the title is quite contradictory but these are very healthy cookies packed full of omega-3’s, fiber, protein, and antioxidants.  I think they are a great “special treat” for the boys for after dinner. 

Healthy Cookies

Recipe adapted from: Quinoa 365 by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming

2/3 c. water
1/3 c. quinoa
1 c. butter
1 1/3 c. brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. rolled oats
1/3 c. shredded unsweetened coconut
1/3 c. raw sunflower seeds
1/3 c. flaxseed meal
1/3 c. sesame seeds
1/2 – 1 c. dark chocolate covered pomegranate seeds (we bought them at Costco but it would be easy to just sub in dark chocolate chips and dried cherries or something like that if you can’t find them)

Bring water and quinoa to a boil in a small saucepan.  Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Turn off the heat and leave covered for an additional 6 minutes.  Remove lid and fluff with a fork.  Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the butter with the brown sugar in a large bowl.  Add the eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly. 

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl.  Add the oats, cooked quinoa, coconut, sunflower seeds, flaxseed meal and sesame seeds to the flour mixture and stir until well blended.  Combine with the butter mixture and stir until well mixed. 

Roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on a baking sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes until bottom is just golden brown.  Allow to cool completely on baking sheet before moving.

Makes approx. 5 dozen cookies.

Food for Thought: If you don’t want 5 dozen cookies just sitting around begging to be eaten, simply roll out the dough into balls and flash freeze for approx. 2-3 hours on a plate or baking sheet before transferring to a freezer bag.  Then, when baking, place frozen dough on cookie sheet and bake for about 2-4 minutes longer than regular cooking time.

Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps

These are similar to many other meals I have made.  Even so, I was impressed with the fact that my one year old ate an entire wrap himself (even if the two year old was only going to eat the tomatoes on the side!)  I served it with corn, tomatoes, and avocado.  I did think that a nice addition to this meal would be sour cream and salsa for next time.

Recipe from

1 cup cooked rice, warm or at room temperature
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 green onion, finely sliced (white and green parts)
1 red pepper, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime (approx. 1 1/2 Tbsp.)
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
2 cups shredded cheese (I used a combination of Monterrey jack and sharp cheddar)
6 burrito-sized whole wheat tortillas


Mix rice together with chili powder, cumin and garlic salt. Add remaining ingredients except for cheese.  Sprinkle approx. 1/4 c. shredded cheese on tortilla and add 1/2-1/4 c. chicken/rice mixture to the tortilla.  Roll tortillas and wrap in tin foil.  Place tortillas in a freezer bag and freeze. 

To cook, thaw wraps in the fridge or (to speed up the process) unwrap and microwave 5 minutes.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray.  Place wraps seam down on baking sheet and spray with cooking spray over the top.  Bake for 10-20 minutes until hot inside and golden crispy on the outside.

Husband Rating: 5 out of 10 (as always, he likes to clarify that a 5 isn’t a bad meal, just average – wouldn’t want to eat it every week but still likes it enough to be open to doing it again sometime).  Also, as always, he would recommend hot sauce added to it (I think he does for most meals!).

Shredded Turkey Sandwiches

Such an easy recipe and so delicious!  You just dump it all in the slow cooker and stop thinking about it until right before dinner.  I like this too because it feeds a large crowd or leaves lots of leftovers for us to eat throughout the week.

Shredded Turkey Sandwiches

1 turkey breast (6-7 pounds)
1 pkg. Lipton onion soup mix

1 can beer
1 stick butter
1/2 can chicken broth


Thaw turkey breast.  Combing all the ingredients in the slow cooker.

Cook on low heat for 6-8 hours (my slow cooker is pretty hot so this is always done by 6 hours for me).
When done, shred the turkey in juice using two forks.  If dry, add more chicken broth.

Serve on buns, over toast, or even over mashed potatoes.

To freeze, simply pour turkey and liquid in either a plastic container or a freezer bag, double bagging it.  Be sure to let it cool before putting it in the freezer and squeeze out all the air from the freezer bag. 

To reheat, add additional chicken broth if necessary and simply reheat in the microwave or over low heat on the stove.

Husband Rating: 6 out of 10

Food for Thought:  This also tastes great with a little Swiss cheese on top.  Doesn’t cheese make everything better?  For some reason my children don’t really like this meal.  I have found that if I cut a portion of the turkey breast off and cube it rather than shred it, they will eat it as finger food instead and still get a healthy meal.  If I try to serve it to them shredded on the bun, usually only the bun gets eaten.  Just a little tip that works for my household… 

Thai Cashew Chicken and Broccoli on Quinoa

Surprise hit meal of the Spring!  As I was dishing this meal up for the boys, I had that “uh-oh” feeling in my stomach wondering what, if any, of this meal they would eat.  However, while my 2 year old only ate the cashews off the top, my 1 year old devoured his entire meal and had seconds!  It was great!  I really liked the meal as well but would have to agree with my husband that next time we are going to kick up the spice a little bit or serve it with some hot sauce.

Thai Cashew Chicken and Broccoli on Quinoa

Recipe from Quinoa 365, The Everyday Superfood by, Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 c. g/f soy sauce
2 Tbsp. oyster sauce (can be found g/f – check the label)
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground ginger or 2 tsp. fresh ginger minced
2 c. water
1 c. quinoa
4 tsp. sesame oil
2 c. broccoli florets
1 c. thinly sliced onion
3/4 c. water
3 Tbls. peanut butter
1 Tbls. honey
1 c. unsalted toasted cashews

Slice chicken into thin pieces and place in large seal able bag.  Combine soy sauce, oyster sauce, garlic, ginger in bowl and pour over chicken.  Marinate at least 1 hour.

Bring water and quinoa to boil in a medium saucepan.  Cover and reduce to simmer and cook for 10 minutes.  Turn off heat and leave covered on burner for another 6 minutes.  Fluff with fork set aside.

Place 2 tsp. of sesame oil in large pan over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add broccoli and onion and cover the pan.  Stir frequently and add 1 Tbls. water if saucepan appears dry.  Cook until the onion is opaque and the broccoli tender, about 8-10 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Remove chicken and reserve marinade.  Place remaining sesame oil and the chicken in the large saucepan on medium high heat and cook until chicken is no longer pink, about 7-8 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the marinade to the pan.  Stir in water, peanut butter, honey and cook for 1 minute.  Toss in broccoli-onion mixture and stir thoroughly.

Divide the quinoa among individual serving plates.  Top with chicken broccoli mixture.  Sprinkle with cashews and serve.

Husband Rating: 5 out of 10 (and my husband wants me to note that a 5 is truly an average meal, not bad)

Husband Tip: Add Siracha sauce for an added kick

Food for Thought:  This meal was so easy as a freezer meal.  To package for freezing, I put the chicken and marinade in one bag, premeasured a cup of quinoa into a quart sized bag, put the onions in a separate quart sized bag, measured out the cashews into another bag, and then combined the honey, peanut butter, and water in yet another bag (which I then double bagged).  I combined the chicken and quart baggies into one large gallon bag.  My broccoli was already frozen so I simply stacked that with the chicken bag in the freezer.  I kept the broccoli frozen while thawing the rest of the food and it worked out well.

15 Bean Soup

This recipe could also be known as the “I-needed-a-way-to-use-up-my-Easter-ham” Soup.  As good as our Easter meal turned out, I didn’t think I could do another meal of reheating the ham or ham sandwiches and I know that the kids were getting sick of ham too.  I didn’t want to waste it so needed to get creative on how to use up what was left.   And, thanks to a tip from my mother-in-law about using the ham bone for a soup, came across this recipe. 

15 Bean Soup

Recipe adapted from (The Best Bean and Ham Soup)

1 20-oz. package 15 bean mixture, soaked over night
1 ham bone
2 cups cubed ham
1 large onion, diced
5 carrots, sliced
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
4 c. vegetable stock
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. chili powder
4 bay leaves
1 tsp. ground pepper
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 c. chicken broth
1 tsp. salt


Put soaked beans in a large pot and fill with water to about 1 inch above beans.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes.

Drain the beans.  Return to pot and add remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally.  If there isn’t enough liquid, add additional chicken broth.  Serve with bread.

Husband Rating: 8 out of 10

Food for Thought: Soups are easy for freezer cooking.  For this one, I would just cook it through and then after it cools, put it in a freezer bag.  Double bag it before freezing.  To serve, simply thaw and reheat. 

Spaghetti Bolognese

Having a good bolognese sauce is a nice departure from the usual spaghetti with red sauce that we have.  This was delicious and fairly easy to make.  I want to make a big double or triple batch next time and freeze some for easy future use!  And, I do love a meal that has a few hidden veggies built right into it!

*Enjoy on Spaghetti Squash or brown rice pasta for a great g/f meal!

Spaghetti Bolognese

Recipe adapted from

1 Tbls. olive oil
4 slices bacon
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 pound ground beef
2 (14 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 (16 oz.) box spaghetti

Preheat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add bacon and oregano and cook until bacon is crispy.  The bacon will naturally crumble as the sauce cooks so no need to chop it up.

Add chopped onion, carrots, celery and garlic and cook until vegetables are slightly softened, about 7 minutes.

Stir in ground beef and cook until no longer pink.

Then stir in canned tomatoes, water, and 1/4 c. chopped fresh basil.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Simmer 15-20 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add spaghetti and cook according to package directions.

Serve sauce over pasta; garnish with additional Parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves.

Husband Rating:  7 out of 10

Food for Thought: Any kind of sauce like this is easy to freeze and nice to have on hand for a quick dinner.  After you cook it, simply pour into a freezer bag and freeze.  When you are ready to eat, just heat it up on the stove and cook up some noodles.

A way to increase the hidden veggies in this would be to either add additional chopped carrots or add some pureed carrots to it.  It wouldn’t change the flavor too dramatically but would pack in a hidden vitamin punch.

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