I’m excited to share a fun, healthier recipe as part of Red Baron’s Homegating campaign. Every year when football season rolls around, we look forward to both college and NFL game days. But with three small kids, actually getting to the stadium for a tailgate before a big game is not easy anymore. So, instead, we tailgate at home – and so I was so excited when Red Baron asked me to participate in their Tailgate at Your Place sweepstakes campaign. We tailgate at home every weekend – whether we are inviting neighbors and friends over for finger foods and pizza or chili to watch the game with us, or just hanging out together as a family, we love to celebrate football season with good food while we tailgate at home.
I used to share our weekly menus a lot more often. And then the world jumped on the Paleo bandwagon and I kind of shrunk away from those posts. So here’s the deal: I have always been an everything in moderation, no strict dietary requirements (other than those that are required due to allergies) type of family cook. I find the new diets very interesting and worth researching, I’m tempted to try the Whole 30 challenge this spring when the baby is born, but generally, I believe moderation is the key. We strive as a family to eat healthy, home cooked meals. That does not mean that I never feed my children processed foods. That does not mean that during a really busy week it’s not Tortilla Chili made out of 10 cans in a crockpot. We try to eat lean meats, I try to make fish – normally salmon since my kids will eat it – at least once a week, and pasta is usually only a once a week thing (not this week, you’ll see shortly). Generally I make sure that we have fruit with breakfast (usually bananas), fruit as part of our morning snack (clementines, pears, whatever is on sale/ in season at the store that week), a fruit and veggie (usually apples and carrots) on our lunch plates, and a veggie with dinner (usually a routine side salad, honestly) to get our 5 servings for the day – but it doesn’t always happen. But anyway, all this is a very long justification for saying, if you like ideas for what other people feed their families or are in a recipe slump, read on to see what I’m making this week (no original recipes – all link out to my sources).
During the holidays, it can get really easy to have no dinner planned, not want to think about food on top of all the things you have on your schedule, and too easy to run to the store for a frozen pizza for dinner (nothing wrong with that…but when it becomes a multiple night a week habit, then I know I need to get back on the meal planning bandwagon). The Girl Who Ate Everything is my go-to for easy, family friendly meals, and so the majority of this week’s menu comes from her site.
Sunday: Leftover Night – I pull everything we didn’t quite finish the previous week out of the fridge and it’s a free-for-all. Sometimes we do leftover night’s twice a week, but I’ve been relying heavily on leftovers the last few weeks so planned out meals for all but Sunday this week.
Monday: Baked Salmon with Rice Pilaf and Broccoli – sometimes I spread a little adobo sauce on the salmon for a spicy flair, sometimes we go lemon and rosemary, sometimes soy sauce. This week it’s chipotle salmon for me and B, I leave the adobo sauce off the kids’ portions since it’s too spicy for them.
Tuesday: Taco Pasta with green beans
Thursday: Crock Pot Lasagna with Baked Zucchini Spears
Friday: Party Night
Saturday: Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup
So that’s what we’re eating this week…what about you?
There used to be a chain restaurant called Paradise Cafe here that had the very best chicken salad – chocked full of walnuts, cranberries and other crunch. And they gave you a glorious chocolate chip cookie with every sandwich. It was my favorite and was within walking distance of my office when I worked in Boulder – which was dangerous. The restaurant – or at least any of the franchises that were in my neck of the woods – has closed down, and I’ve had lots of cravings for that fabulous salad. I saw a recipe on Pinterest for a chicken salad that used pecans, and it turned out to be one of those Pinterest links that goes to nowhere, so I invented my own based on lots of different recipes and it absolutely satisfies my craving.
Every two weeks, I roast a whole chicken. It’s super easy, and makes me feel like a very accomplished homemaker even though the reality is that I just throw it in the oven and it’s done. But whatever, a girl should know how to roast a chicken – it seems impressive. On roast chicken making night, we love that crispy skin and chicken, but we always kind of hem and haw about the leftovers. So this is now my go-to use for the leftovers (I’ve also used the leftovers to make grilled pineapple barbeque chicken quesadillas, and those are delicious, too).
Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad
Leftover Roast Chicken Meat – skin removed and cut into small, easy to eat pieces (*sometimes I just throw all the ingredients into my blender and get a really fine chicken salad – like the one pictured above, other times I chop with a knife. Just depends on
how lazy I’m feeling what kind of mood I’m in).
1/2 cup Mayo or Plain Greek Yogurt (Get creative here – I like to do half and half, Mr. B likes a mix of Yogurt and Ranch dressing, you can use more or less depending on how “dressed” you like your chicken salad or if you’re using more chicken, up your mayo or yogurt)
1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
Squeeze of Honey
Handful of Crasins
Handful of walnuts
4 Celery Stalks, chopped into bite size pieces
Salt and Pepper to taste
Mix everything together, refrigerate for a couple hours and enjoy. We usually eat ours over a big bed of lettuce, but it’s delicious as a sandwich, too.
- Grilled Bruschetta Chicken - This is such an easy and fresh chicken dish, and we love using tomatoes and basil from our garden.
- Salmon with soy sauce – My mom brought this over for dinner right after Nell was born and it was so easy and so tasty. Just drizzle a little bit of soy sauce on top of salmon filets, throw them in the oven in a glass dish (at about 350 degrees) and dinner’s ready in about 12 minutes.
- Chipotle Hamburgers with Chipotle Lime yogurt – Derived from this recipe, I just chop up 1 1/2 chipotle peppers and add 1 Tablespoon adobo sauce (that the chipotles come in) to ground beef. Mix it all together, grill and serve with the yogurt: a single serving plain greek yogurt container, 1 tablespoon adobo sauce, and the juice of one lime. It’s such a fun and fresh take on burgers. (PS – we’ve followed the linked recipe with ground turkey too, and it’s delicious as well).
- Chicken Caesar Salads – So easy to make and a light (depending on how you dress it) option. We had this a few times when it was over 100 degrees here in June and July and the thought of cooking was too much – just buy a rotisserie chicken and call it good!
- Pizza Quesadillas – Thomas and I had these several nights this summer Mr. B was at class and it was too hot (and too hectic) to really cook. So good, so easy.
- Caprese Paninis – I like these on sourdough bread, but any good bread will be great. We just buy a hunk of fresh mozzarella, use tomatoes and basil out of the garden, layer the ingredients and grill them on a skillet, pressing them down with a pot lid to make them panini like. Mr. B likes his drizzled with olive oil, I like balsamic on mine.
- Pesto Pasta – Another summer staple because of my basil supply. I use my mom’s pesto recipe. This is one of my favorite foods.
- And of course, pizzas on the grill.
I realize it’s been recipe central over here – I really do have rooms to share, I’m just waiting on finishing touches to arrive. I’ve been wanting very summery foods lately - chicken salad lettuce wraps, keylime pie, strawberry shortcake – basically the girl who loves chocolate wants only fruity desserts. Who knows what that means. But B and I always love all things buffalo wing-like, too. So when I saw this recipe for Buffalo Turkey Lettuce Wraps on The Girl Who Ate Everything, I knew they’d be a hit all around. And they were. Light, delicious and satisfying – if you like wings, you’ll like these, I believe.
1 lb lean ground turkey
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 cup carrot shavings
1 cup celery, diced
1 head iceberg lettuce, leaves removed for wraps
salt and pepper
1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo wing sauce
Blue cheese crumbles or blue cheese dressing to drizzle over the top (I used a tiny bit of both)
1. In a skillet, saute the onions over medium heat until soft, add garlic and cook for another minute. Add grown turkey and salt and pepper to taste, cook until cooked through and drain grease.
2. Return meat to pan and stir in the wing sauce. Reduce heat to low and simmer for a couple of minutes.
3. Place buffalo wing turkey meat into lettuce cups, top with a few carrot shavings and chopped celery. Sprinkle with some blue cheese crumbles and/or dressing.
Mr. B loved these – and he’s stingy with his food love declarations.
I can’t believe I haven’t shared this recipe before, but I was making these for my book club yesterday and couldn’t find the recipe on the ol’ blog, so I figured it was well past time I shared it. These are delicious, easy to make, and semi-not terrible for you if you practice moderation and use fat-free cream cheese (okay, they’re probably not great for you, but I justify that they’re still better than eating a slice of legit cheesecake).
2 8 oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature (I buy fat-free blocks of cream cheese, you can go whole hog and buy real cream cheese, just don’t tell me, I suffer from metabolism envy.)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Pie Filling, Pastry Filling, Preserves - sky’s the limit (my preference is raspberry pastry filling, but whatever floats your boat will work – blueberry, cherry, chocolate, caramel).
Place a vanilla wafer in the bottom of foil muffin liners. Mix cream cheese (make sure it’s at room temperature or you’ll get a lumpy mess), sugar, and vanilla until well blended. Add eggs and beat mixture together. Spoon into cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Let cool and top with pie filling. Chill before serving. They’re delicious.