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Meal Planning

This Week’s Poultry and Seafood Recipes

How’s your New Year going so far? Amazing I hope! If you made goals or resolutions, are you still working on them? I mentioned earlier that one of my goals for 2018 was to embrace a healthier habit each month. This month it’s to eat more poultry and seafood. So, this week’s menus are based on poultry and seafood main courses.

Oh, and all recipes are now printable!

The Menu


Chicken Chili (with a THM “E” meal option)


Herbed Shrimp with Cilantro Brown Rice

Pan Seared Chicken Breasts with Roasted Green Beans


Turkey/Chicken Meatloaf with Steamed Broccoli

Orange Sweet Rolls


The Recipes




Chicken Chili

This is a quick and filling recipe. For those following Trim Healthy Mama, leaving out the cheese will make this an E meal. 

Course Main Course
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp tarragon
  • 3 cups chicken stock or bone broth (low-sodium recommended)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (can sub with more chicken stock)
  • 3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 3 cans (14oz) white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans diced green chiles, mild or medium
  • 3 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded/grated
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro


  1. In a large Dutch oven or heavy stockpot, heat olive oil and saute onions until just turning golden. Add garlic and spices, cooking until garlic is fragrant, stirring continuously. Add stock and wine, and simmer for 5 minutes. 

  2. Stir in chicken, beans, and chiles. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes. 

  3. Turn heat to low and add the cheese slowly, stirring until it melts. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in lime juice and add cilantro, simmering for 5 minutes. 

  4. Top with favorite garnishes, like chopped tomatoes, green onions, sour cream, or broken tortilla chips. 

Recipe Notes

For those following Trim Healthy Mama, use breast meat and leave out the cheese for an E meal. 

Menu Meals Sprimp

Grilled Shrimp with Fresh Herbs

If you don’t have fresh herbs, substitute 1 tsp of dried. Preparation time includes 60 minutes of "marinating" (passive)time.

Course Main Course
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4 servings


  • 1 pound extra-large shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh basil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. good olive oil for grill


  1. Combine everything except for the olive oil and allow to marinate for 1 hour.
  2. Heat the grill and brush well with oil to prevent the shrimp from sticking. Grill the shrimp over direct heat for 1-2 minutes on each side, until pink. Remove from grill immediately when done.
  3. Serve over rice.

Cilantro Brown Rice

Adding lime juice and cilantro to rice gives the formerly bland dish a real kick! Give it try for yourself. This recipe uses brown rice, but you can substitute white rice. 

Course Side Dish
Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 minute
Servings 4 people


  • 2 cups Prepared Rice (I recommend Minute Brown Rice if you're pressed for time)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp lime zest
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro


  1. Cook your rice, according to directions. This recipe calls for 2 cups of prepared rice.

  2. Stir in lime juice, lime zest, and chopped cilantro. Serve.



Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts

Course Main Course
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings


  • 4 6-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper divided
  • 3/8 teaspoon kosher salt divided
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil divided
  • 2 tablespoons grated onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. Let chicken stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

  2. Heat a large stainless-steel skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Place chicken in pan, rounded side down, and cook for 5 minutes. Turn chicken over; reduce heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes more, or until done. Remove chicken from pan; let stand 5 minutes on a plate or platter covered with foil.

  3. Add remaining oil, onion, and garlic to pan; sauté 1 minute. Next, add flour and sauté 30 seconds. Stir in stock; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 3 minutes or until reduced to 1/2 cup, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat; stir in remaining pepper, salt, butter, and sugar. Sprinkle with parsley before serving. 



Roasted Green Beans

Who'd have thought roasting fresh or frozen green beans would take them to a new taste level? Give these a try to see for yourself. 

Course Side Dish
Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 21 minutes
Servings 6 servings


  • 1 bag (16 oz.) frozen petite or thin green beans
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 450. 

  2. Spread beans in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil. Use hands to toss the beans to spread oil evenly, season with salt and pepper, and bake for 20 minutes or until dark gold.


Turkey Meatloaf

It's hard to make a tender, moist meatloaf with ground turkey or chicken. This recipe delivers, though. I use sprouted bread to make my own breadcrumbs (see pic in directions). I cube about 4 slices of bread, layer on a baking sheet, and let dry overnight. Then I add them directly into the meat mixture in the food processor.

Course Main Course
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped onions (I use frozen)
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 1/4 lbs. ground turkey (can sub ground chicken)
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I make my own with sprouted whole wheat bread)
  • 1 egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
  • 3/4 cup ketchup (divided)
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper


  1. Melt butter in a skillet. Cook onion and garlic in melted butter for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place mixture in a large bowl to cool for 5 minutes.
  2. Combine turkey, bread crumbs, egg, 1/4 cup of the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper with onion mixture. I use a food processor, pulsing until mixed. 

  3. Press meatloaf into an 8x4-inch loaf pan. Spread remaining ketchup on top.

  4. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50-55 minutes. (Internal temperature should reach 165 degrees.)

  5. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.



Orange Sweet Rolls

Prep time includes rising (passive) time.

Make ahead/overnight option: This dough can be made the night before through step 4. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, remove from the refrigerator and allow to rise in a warm environment, about 1 hour.

Course Breakfast
Prep Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours


  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur Flour)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg (at room temperature)
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 2-3 drops orange oil

Orange Icing

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • juice from the orange (2-3 Tablespoons)
  • 1 tsp orange extract


  1. Make the dough: In a large bowl, toss the flour, the sugar, salt, and yeast together. Set aside.
  2. Heat the milk and butter together in the microwave until the butter is melted and the mixture is warm to touch (about 110°F). Stir in the orange juice, 1 Tbsp. orange zest, and the egg. Combine the butter mixture and the flour mixture and stir until it forms a soft dough that is smooth and bounces back when you poke it. If not, stir in 1 Tbsp of flour at a time until it is. 

  3. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for 1 minute. Place in a lightly greased bowl and let rest for about 10 minutes.

  4. After 10 minutes, roll the dough out in a 14x8 inch rectangle. Mix the softened butter and orange oil together and spread on top. In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon, sugar, and remaining orange zest. Sprinkle it over the dough with a spoon.

  5. Roll up the dough tightly and pinch down the edge to seal it. Cut into 10-12 even rolls (using dental floss will make cutting easier) and arrange in a lightly greased 9-inch round cake pan or pie pan. Loosely cover the rolls with aluminum foil or plastic wrap (so the risen dough won't stick to it) and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free environment for 60-90 minutes. After the rolls have doubled in size, preheat the oven to 375°F.

  6. Bake for 25-28 minutes until lightly browned. If the rolls brown too quickly, cover them with foil.

  7. Make the glaze: Whisk the confectioners' sugar, remaining orange juice, and extract together until smooth. Drizzle or spread over warm rolls.

Give me some feedback on the new recipe format! Keep eating healthy my friends and enjoy your weekend.

Fall Meal Plan (THM friendly, too!)

I realized the other day that I haven’t done a meal plan or recipe for a while. Sorry about that. I spend several hours creating the plans and photographing the meals for those posts. I wasn’t sure if they were helpful for readers, so I kind of lost my motivation for creating new meal plans.

So, I’m going to post them sporadically, ideally to help inspire you to add new meals to your usual rotation. You can always refer to a previous meal plan if you’re in need of ideas.

For Trim Healthy Mama (THM) followers, I have italicized those foods off-plan or not conducive to weight loss (like white potatoes).

Short Ribs with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans


Short ribs make such a delicious and rich meal. Because they are so good, you might be surprised to know how easy they are to make! I’ve tried a few different recipes, but this one by The Pioneer Woman is terrific. I made this again last night for my sister and brother-in-law, and it was delicious.

For the sides, I either make mashed potatoes from scratch or use the pre-made pouches from Costco. They’re surprisingly good, and highly approved of by my mashed potato lover husband. For the green  beans, I use no-salt canned green beans, drained, with a little butter.

Creamy Mushroom Chicken and Brown Rice


You can whip this mean up in 35 minutes, so it’s an ideal weeknight dinner.

  • 4 chicken breasts, sliced or pounded into thinner fillets
  • 1 cup of sliced mushrooms
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup of plain, Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • pinch of mineral salt
  • pinch of ground pepper
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray a shallow 9″x9″ baking pan with cooking spray.

Melt the butter in a large skillet, then add mushrooms. Cook about 5 minutes on low-medium heat, until reduced in size and browning. Add yogurt, mayonnaise, and seasonings/spices. Cook until bubbly and thickened, about 5 minutes or less.

Place the chicken breasts in the prepared baking pan, pour the mushroom mixture over them, and evenly coat it with the parmesan cheese. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden on top.

To round out the meal, use a quick cooking brown rice, like

or the pouch kind:

Homemade Pizza

I will include two recipes here, my favorite pizza dough recipe (not-THM friendly) and one that is THM-friendly. Yeast-based doughs and I didn’t get along before I found my favorite pizza dough recipe. But, this is an almost fool-proof dough and it’s never let me down!

The THM-friendly pizza crust recipe I’m sharing is from Briana Thomas. It is similar to the THM Perfect Pizza crust recipe in the THM cookbooks. Although I have yet to find a pizza crust recipe that tastes “just like” the type of pizza that the recipe above provides, this one is a good replacement.

Low Carb Pizza Crust


Butternut Squash Manicotti Casserole with Caesar Salad

Photo from Kristi Murphy,

This recipe got awesome reviews recently on the KitchenAid blog. It’s not my own recipe and I confess that I have yet to make it. I have added the KitchenAid vegetable sheet cutter attachment they use to make the butternut squash sheets to my Christmas wish list. If you have this attachment and make it, please comment and let us know how it turned out! Of course, you can do like I’m going to do for now and sub with low-carb or regular pasta. I’ll be using Dreamfields Pasta, a THM-approved substitute. For the Caesar salad, I just use bagged salad from my grocery store. Recipe Link

My friends, I hope you are able to take the time to enjoy this holiday season. This time of year can be   equally joyful and stressful. There are the added social obligations and holiday shopping, our own increased expectations, and family dynamics.

I like to add new routines during the holidays to help me unwind and relax. They include indulging in my favorite calming tea at night, taking a warm bath with essential oils and epsom salt, or cuddling on the sofa to appreciate our glowing Christmas tree. Be good to and gentle with yourself this month. 


Look for my upcoming post on “Top Holiday Gifts for Women.” Until then, seize the day and enjoy!!

Meal Plan for the Upcoming Week 8/28 to 9/3

First I want to everyone for their comments on The Feathered Nester’s FB page, and here on the blog. I really appreciate your feedback!

Recapping Last Week’s Meal Plan

We ate well here at our house last week and I hope you did, too! Did you make any of the meals at your house? If so, I hope you’ll share how they turned out. If you missed it, here is a link to last week’s meals (LINK).

As I was preparing the Halibut en papilotte on Thursday, I decided to use my steam oven instead of parchment paper. Here are some pictures of preparation and the finished product.

meal plan
Enter a caption

I bought this salad from Costco and it was delicious! And, it’s healthy to boot. I would definitely recommend it.



New For This Week

The higher carb foods in the meal plan are italicized. I’ve cut back on carbs like sugars, starches, and grains in my diet, but my husband hasn’t. I thought that would make it easier for those following a lower carb diet.

To keep the sodium content low, I do not add any salt while cooking to my foods. When preparing the ribs, my husband sets aside my portion for no-salt seasoning. And, since I’m not preparing the ribs, I asked my husband – who is an absolute boss at grilling and smoking meats – to share how he prepares them. I will be posting the whole ribs recipe as a separate post later this week.

Meal Plan for the Upcoming Week

Monday: Chicken Piccata with mashed potatoes and green beans.
meal plans

Chicken piccata (unbreaded) recipe: 4 boneless, thinly sliced chicken breasts, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 3 Tbsp. diced onion, 1 tsp minced garlic, juice of 1 lemon, 1/3 cup no-salt added chicken broth, 1 Tbsp, capers, 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter. Saute chicken breasts in olive oil on medium-high heat for 4 minutes on each side. While cooking, rinse and dry capers to remove excess sodium. Add onion and garlic and cook 1 minute. Add lemon juice and chicken broth. Simmer until bubbly. Remove from heat and add butter and capers.  Select your own recipe for mashed potatoes, add no-salt added canned or fresh green beans, and your meal is ready.

Tuesday: Taco Salad with guacamole and salsa

I love taco salad! It’s quick and easy to make and you can substitute ingredients to suit any diet plan. I usually use ground beef, but you can use any kind of meat or pinto or black beans. My husband likes both meat and beans in his.

For low-carb: After preparing ground beef, I generously layer torn or shredded leaf lettuce, the ground beef, grated cheese, diced tomatoes, onions, sliced or diced avocado, and top with salsa and sour cream. I don’t use any dressing, just the salsa and sour cream.

For my husband, I add tortilla chips and pinto or black beans. I use this seasoning for the ground beef: 1 Tbsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. of each: onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and a pinch of chili pepper. After cooking the ground beef, I add the juice of one lime for added flavor. Guacamole recipe is in last week’s meal plan.

Wednesday: Tomatillo and Garlic Shrimp with cilantro rice and green salad


The recipe: 1 pound of shrimp (I use frozen raw shrimp and buy the largest size I can find, usually 21-25 per pound), 1 pound of tomatillos, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 small onion, 1 minced jalapeño pepper, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter (divided), 1/2 c. fresh cilantro, 1 Tbsp. lime juice. Rinse shrimp and remove outer shells/tails. Remove husks and stems from tomatillos, rinse well, and dice. Dice the onion and mince the jalapeño pepper. Use a skillet that has a fitted lid, as you’ll need the lid later in recipe. Saute the onions and jalapeños in 1 Tbsp. butter and 1 Tbsp. olive oil until translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add tomatillos, cover with lid and reduce heat to low. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add 2 Tbsp. butter and 2 Tbsp. water, and shrimp. Increase heat to medium and cook shrimp turn they turn pink. For cilantro rice: cook rice as usual, adding the juice of one lime to water. When done, I add 1/4 c. minced cilantro and stir. I use bagged green salad.

Thursday: Stuffed Bell Peppers

This is my favorite recipe: Low-Carb Stuffed Bell Peppers

Friday:  Smoked/BBQ Ribs with coleslaw and garlic bread

My husband likes to use baby back ribs because they are more meaty and less fatty. How do you know how many ribs to make? Well, it’s based on a number of factors really. Are you having a lot of sides? Do you want leftovers? It also depends on how hearty everyone’s appetites are. My husband likes having leftovers, so he makes about 1/2 rack per person. If you don’t want leftovers then plan 3-4 ribs for less hearty appetites.

He says: “I’m no BBQ expert, but this is a method I have tried several times with great success.” Season the baby back ribs the day before you BBQ them. Rinse and dry the ribs. Remove the membrane on underside of the ribs. Apply a light coating of vegetable or olive oil. Then liberally apply the seasoning, wrap them in clear wrap and let them sit in fridge overnight. I use the 3-2-1 method. Three hours on grill/smoker, two hours wrapped in aluminum foil on grill or oven, then one hour back on grill. This is the short version. I’ll post the whole recipe later this week on Wednesday or Thursday, so check back.

Saturday: Roasted Pork Tenderloin with kale salad and Hawaiian sweet rolls

I buy a pre-marinated pork tenderloin, looking for those low in sodium. Before cooking, I rinse and dry the tenderloin to remove even more sodium. I’ll use the bagged kale salad from Costco, shown above. Before I cut back on the carbs, I was using the Hawaiian sweet rolls. Have you every tried them? They are low in sodium. If you’ve looked at the sodium content in breads you’ll know what a find they are.

Sunday: Dinner out.
This’s the menu for this week. Please share your experiences following along with my meal plans and give me your suggestions for future meals!


This Week’s Meals for 8/21 to 8/27

Last week was a great week of meals at my house. I appreciated having a meal plan to follow, and created some delicious meals. And, I even remembered to take some pictures to share. Often, I  get so wrapped in what I’m doing that I forget to take pictures.

For those of you with dietary restrictions, my meals should be easy to modify. For example, I leave out salt in my meals, and I’m avoiding gluten and starches right now due to my Meinere’s disease.

To recap last week’s meals, we had grilled bison for the first time on Monday, and it was great! Very tender and tasted just like beef but it’s much healthier for you. Tuesday was chicken fajitas (I’m sharing a picture of the guacamole below). On Thursday, I took photos of the Italian meatballs and even devoted a post to the recipe HERE:



This Week’s Meal Plan

Monday: Teriyaki & Ginger Chicken Thighs with Asian Cashew Chopped Salad.

Very simple recipe. Marinade 4 chicken thighs in 8 oz. teriyaki sauce, 2 Tbsp. of sesame oil, 2 tsp each of minced garlic, ginger, lemon juice, and brown sugar or sugar substitute. Grill or bake at 350 for 30 – 35 minutes. I use pre-made, bagged Taylor Farms Asian Cashew Chopped salad.

Tuesday: Carnitas Tacos with Guacamole.

Carnitas are so easy to make. I share my crock pot recipe HERE. The smell of this dish cooking will make your mouth water! My secret ingredient for guacamole is Montreal Steak Seasoning (or Mrs. Dash’s Fiesta Lime) and fresh lime juice. Add chopped onion, a little jalapeño, cilantro, and mash it up. Check out my guacamole masher below, it’s one of my most used kitchen utensils. 

Making Guacamole
Wednesday: Halibut en Papillote.

Fancy French words for in parchment paper. Each parchment packet contains 1 fillet of halibut, 1 Tbsp. of unsalted butter, 1 tsp of lemon pepper, 1 tsp of minced shallots, and a pinch of salt. You can add thinly sliced lemons, mushrooms, or matchstick bell pepper, if you prefer. Fold up all sides, crimping edges, and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Thursday: Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Coleslaw.

I use leftover Carnitas from Tuesday. Add barbecue sauce when reheating the Carnitas. Add it to Brioche buns, my family love these. We usually get ours from Wal-Mart or their Neighborhood Market. I use pre-shredded, bagged cabbage and add Marie’s coleslaw dressing.

Friday: Dinner Out.
Saturday: Grilled Steaks and Caprese Salad.

I love caprese salad and it’s really easy to make at home. I buy the sliced, fresh logs of mozzarella cheese and use Roma or Heirloom tomatoes. Slice the tomatoes as thick as the mozzarella cheese, then alternate them across your plate. Sprinkle with sliced fresh basil leaves and balsamic vinegar. Add you favorite grilled steak as your entrée.


Sunday: Smoked Pork Chops with Roasted Red Potatoes and Applesauce.

Since our pork steaks are so thick, smoking is a great way to cook them. Combine ¼ brown sugar or substitute, and 1 Tbsp. each of ground fennel, cumin, coriander, and paprika, with 1 tsp of salt and pepper in a bowl. After drying your pork chops with paper towels, rub with spice mixture at least one hour before cooking. Grill at 275 degrees for about 50-60 minutes, until meat registers 145 degrees. For roasted potatoes, cube red potatoes and shake in a large Ziploc bag with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 2 tsp Italian seasoning, and 1 tsp salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until golden on top.

Here’s to another terrific week of meals! Give me some feedback below on the recipes and meal planning:

Lasagne – Ultimate Comfort Food! Made Low-Sodium and Gluten Free.

Lasagne is one of the most-loved Italian dishes out there. It is sinfully delicious with its layers of cheese, meat, and pasta. I consider it one of the ultimate comfort foods! I don’t know about you, but I am always on the lookout for a new lasagne recipe.

The Lasagne Challenge

My challenge was how to make it lower in sodium. I decided to take it a step further and use gluten-free pasta. Go me, huh? But, I think I accomplished my goal. Low-sodium, gluten-free lasagne that looks and tastes delicious.

The Players

This recipe calls for no-salt added canned goods: diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. I have been successful in locating no-salt added canned foods at my local Vons (Safeway), Wal-Mart, and Trader Joe’s stores.


I wanted a really rich sauce, so I decided I would let the sauce simmer for 3-4 hours on the stove. What I like to do is to take out a few cups of the sauce (without meat) for the bottom of the pan and to put on the top. So, I cook the ground beef and half of the onions separately and add them to the sauce before I assemble the lasagne.

Chop the onions and add them to the dutch oven to cook on medium-low heat for about 6-8 minutes.


Once the onions were translucent, I added the tomatoes,

then tomato sauce, and tomato paste

It’s all ready to simmer. I added the lid and left it on my stove on around 3 hours.

After  3 hours of simmering, I browned the meat along with the rest of the onions. I pulled out two cups of sauce, added the browned meat to the sauce, along with 1 cup of red wine, brought it to a boil and cooked on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes to burn off the alcohol.


Second String

Ricotta, egg, and parmesan cheese mixed together.


I got so wrapped up in putting together the lasagne, I forgot to get pictures of the assembly!

Ready for the oven…


And here it is! Hot and puffy, and oh so delish!


Put it together with a green salad or maybe some hot garlic bread and you have a wonderfully, comfort dish for dinner.

The Recipe

  • 1 cup of onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cans of 14 oz. no-salt diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can of 8 oz no-salt tomato paste
  • 1 can of 8 oz no-salt tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp crushed fennel seeds
  • 1 cup of red wine (or 1/2 cup of red wine vinegar)
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 package of gluten-free no-boil lasagne noodles (I got mine from Target)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (grated or shaved)
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella

Brown onions in olive oil until almost translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Add garlic, and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add in tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and spices, bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer, add lid, and let cook at least 45 minutes. Check periodically and add a little water, if necessary.

Remove 2 cups of sauce and set aside for later. Brown ground beef in a skillet on medium heat. While ground beef is browning, mix the ricotta cheese, egg, and parmesan cheese together in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. When the ground beef is browned and drained, add it to the pot of sauce, along with 1 cup of red wine or 1/2 red wine vinegar. Bring to a boil, then turn down to med-low and cook for 15 minutes (to burn off the alcohol).

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Add 1 cup of the reserved sauce to the bottom of the 9″ x 9″ lasagne pan. Layer your lasagne noodles above it. Alternatively layer your lasagne noodles with the ricotta cheese mixture, meat mixture, and mozzarella cheese, then ricotta cheese and meat again. When you have added the last layer of lasagne noodles, add the last cup of sauce and the rest of the mozarella cheese on top.

Add foil to the top of the lasagne pan (spray the foil with cooking oil spray first so it doesn’t stick) and seal on all sides. Cook for 20 minutes then remove foil for the last 15 minutes of cooking. The lasagne is done when it is golden and bubbled on the top, including the center. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.



Pasta for Dinner

Pasta seems to get a bad rap these days, but I think everyone needs pasta in their lives now and then. I read somewhere that pasta made in Italy was less likely to cause gluten issues. I have no idea if that is true or not, but the argument they made sounded reasonable so I have been buying Italian pasta since then. These pasta noodles turned out really big and soaked up the meat sauce. Guess what? It’s pasta for dinner tonight!

A little over a year ago, my husband retired and we informally share cooking duties now. Before he retired, he did all the grilling (and still does). When it comes to grilling and smoking meat, my husband is a real pro. I was the queen of the kitchen. As funny as it sounds, it was hard learning to share the kitchen with someone else. I’m a meal planner at heart and my husband is the “hey, I saw this recipe and I want to make it for dinner tonight” kind of guy. I just love it when he finds a great new recipe and makes dinner for me. We have learned to peacefully co-exist in the kitchen.

Pasta for Dinner Prep

During my stop at The Market earlier this week HERE (where I meal planned on the fly) I picked up pasta for the meal I’m going to share. I knew I had ground beef in the freezer and canned tomatoes in the pantry, so I planned on making a pasta dish.

The night before, I looked through my cookbook collection and found Cook’s Illustrated All-Time Best Pasta Recipes. I adapted their Simple Italian-Style Meat Sauce recipe for this. I decided to swap out using canned tomatoes for fresh tomatoes. You might notice in my photos below that the sauce isn’t quite as red as it would have been if I used canned tomatoes.

Pasta for Dinner

I started early on the tomato portion of the recipe to let them cook down. I quartered the tomatoes and set them on medium heat for about an hour. While they were cooking down, I chopped the onions.

Pasta for dinner

Once the tomatoes softened, I used an immersion blender to break them down. Then put them back on the stove to thicken them up.

Browning the onions.

Mixing the panade (a paste of milk and bread) and ground beef in the food processor.

Adding the ground beef mixture to the onion mixture.

Below is what it looked like after I added the homemade tomato sauce. As you can see, it needs to thicken up some. I set the burner between low and simmer. While it was cooking, I put the water on to boil for the pasta.

Between the above picture and the below one, I removed about 1/3 of the sauce for my daughter to take home, and let the sauce cook down for 30 minutes. I added the parmesan cheese and reserved oregano.

Just waiting for the pasta to finish up and then…

Dinner’s Ready!

Rather than post the recipe here, I’m linking it for you: Simple Italian-Style Meat Sauce recipe. For reference, I used 3.5 lbs of tomatoes in place of the canned tomatoes. Buon Appetito!

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Planning Ahead and Meals

The Market

I stopped at my favorite grocery store, The Market, on my way home from another appointment yesterday. I really like this smaller, more personalized store for a number of reasons. They have a nice selection of specialty foods, their deli is extensive with an area of gourmet cheeses, and they have a wide variety in their meat department. The Market isn’t in my neighborhood, so I usually only go there once or twice a month. While I was there there yesterday, I mentally planned the rest of the meals for the week and purchased what I needed. I like to plan my meals and shop based on that, but for some reason I have gotten out of that habit lately. I’ll admit that I was pleased when I was able to put up a list of this week’s meals on my fridge yesterday!

So, I’m sharing this week’s meals with you.

Tonight’s Meal

I started prepping for tonight’s meal, Black Bean and Kale Soup, last night by soaking the beans overnight. This morning, I put them in the crockpot, along with chicken stock, smoked ham shanks, carrots, shallots, lime zest and juice, and spices. They’ll stay in the crockpot all day. This afternoon I’ll add the kale, a little more lime juice, and check on the seasoning.


Black Bean and Kale Soup

  • 1 bag of dried black beans, soaked overnight
  • 500 ml of chicken stock
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 shallots or 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup of carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1-2 smoked ham shanks
  • 7 oz. can of mild diced green chilies, drained
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (add more if you like it spicy)
  • A bunch of kale, chopped or ribboned

For garnish: Cilantro, diced tomato, hot sauce, grated cheese, sour cream

After rinsing the beans that soaked overnight, place the beans in a crockpot and add 500ml of chicken stock and 2 cups of water. Add diced vegetables, smoked ham shanks, green chilies, lime zest and 1/2 of the lime juice, and spices. Cook on low for 8 hours. Check for seasoning and adjust as needed. Remove ham shanks, cut off the meat and discard the bones. Add the kale and let cook about 1 more hour. For a thicker soup, use an immersion blender. Just before serving, add the last of the lime juice. Place in bowls with your choice of garnishes, and serve.

This Week’s Meals

So, what do I have scheduled the rest of the week? Here’s what’s on my list:

Wednesday: Pasta Bolognese, Green Beans, Garlic Bread

Thursday: Stuffed Pork Chops, Farmhouse Salad, and French Bread

Friday: Skirt Steak, Baked Potato, and BBQ Ranch Salad

Saturday: Grilled Chicken Breasts, Rice, and Green Beans

I know our veggies look awfully redundant. Sadly, salad and green beans are usually the only “greens” we eat around here, though I did add kale to our bean soup. I try to sneak kale and spinach in where I can. Eating better and healthier is always a work in progress in my house.

How do you meal plan? Plan then shop, just shop then cook from that, or plan on the fly? Share in the comments below.