Monday Meals: Summertime Grilling

‘Tis the season for grilling! Bring on the summer meals. This means a lot of meat on the grill for us. It is hard to believe that I was a vegetarian for a year. I adopted this way of eating after I saw the documentary Food Inc. If I had not married a man from Minnesota who has hunting as one of his hobbies, I would probably still live with those eating habits. He probably married me as I “gave” up this diet after a year. It was a difficult way of living. I mainly ate this way as I have a very passionate love for animals. T is a wonderful cook and grilling meat is his specialty. Last night we ate pork chops on the grill, grilled potatoes, cooked green beans and a couscous salad. T has a homemade blend of seasons he uses on almost all the meat he cooks. If I was to pick one store bought blend I would suggest 21 Salute from Trader Joe’s. Anything we put this on tastes good.


Slice the potatoes into thin slices

Between two pieces of buttered tin foil place the potatoes, sliced sweet peppers, sliced onions and minced garlic, we also add a few more slices of butter throughout. Sprinkle with 21 Salute.

Fold the tin foil and grill on the grill until fully cooked.

Green Beans:

Steam a few servings of green beans and drain the water from the pot.

Add a couple of tablespoons of each, soy sauce and butter.

Sprinkle with black pepper.

If you have sesame seeds, sprinkle on top before serving.

Couscous Salad with Mint, Raisins and Almonds

1/2 cup cooked couscous

1/2 cup raisins (or Craisens)

1/2 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 cucumber, sliced

1/4 cup mint, chopped

1 T sliced almonds

Curry Dressing:

3 T soy sauce

1 T balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

1 t curry

2 T honey

Mix all ingredients together.

We made two types of burgers tonight. Both come from Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbooks. Read here for my love of everything Gwyneth!

Thai Style Burgers (semi altered) from It’s All Good

1-1.5 lb ground beef

2 t minced garlic

2/3 cup chopped cilantro

1 small chopped onion (called for 2 shallots)

1 t chili powder

2 t soy sauce

1/2 t salt

1/2 t ground pepper

Mix all ingredients, form into burger patties and grill

Cheesy Stuffed Burgers (semi altered) from My Father’s Daughter

1/2 c mixed onion

1 t dried rosemary

1 -1.5 lb ground beef

1/2 t salt

1/4 t ground pepper

1/2 c shredded cheese

Mix all ingredients, form into burger patties and grill

Add some fresh fruit on the side for a nice added sweetness. I love the taste of comfort food in the winter, but goodness, I love the taste of summer freshness!

Magnolia Table Book Review

I have owned the Joanna Gaines cookbook, Magnolia Table, since it came out a few weeks ago. I have ooohhhed and aaaahhhed over it almost daily. I finally tested out one of her breakfast recipes for my in laws this weekend. Emery and Stella said it was a keeper. Easy to make and much more tasty than the Pillsbury kind. The orange frosting was a bit too much for our taste. I sat it aside and drizzled it over some brownies we made later in the day.



1.5 sticks of butter, room temp

3/4 c brown sugar

4 t grated orange zest

1 t ground cinnamon

2- 8 oz cans crescent rolls

1 c chopped walnuts


2 c powder sugar, sifted

Orange zest from 2 oranges

2 t vanilla

1/2 c fresh orange juice


Heat oven to 375

Mix butter, brown sugar, orange zest and cinnamon into a paste.

Roll out dough and pinch the perforations to make 2 single sheets.

Spread butter mixture onto both sheets.

Sprinkle walnuts on butter mixture.

Roll up each sheet, long way.

Cut into 12 rolls total.

Spray bottom of 8 in round cake pan.

Place 12 rolls in cake pan.

Bake 25-30 minutes.

Whisk glaze ingredients until well mixed.

When rolls come out, flip onto plate and let stand 5 minutes.

Drizzle glaze over rolls and serve warm.

The brownies looked a bit funky after my kids cut them apart, but we’re sure tasty. I have learned to make my own with this recipe, but this was an Annie’s Brownie Mix.

Monday Meals: Cheeseburger Joes & Chicken Tikka Masala

These are two easy crock pot meals to whip up for busy weeks. We have just a couple of weeks of school left and then things get a little less chaotic for our family. The Tikka Masala Recipe came from the Real Simple magazine. I do not think we have had a failed Real Simple Recipe occur. I think the cucumber and cilantro gives this a summery feel.

Click here for the Tikka Masala Recipe.

I don’t recall where the Cheeseburger Joes recipe came from. My kids love it. We don’t make it often due to the Velveeta cheese that it calls for. It is a no fail recipe for them though!

Cheeseburger Joes

1 1/2 lbs beef

3 cloves pressed garlic

1/4 t salt

1/2 t pepper

8 oz Velveeta cheese, cubed

2 T milk

1 onion, chopped

Pretzel rolls, 8

Mustard, ketchup, pickles, mayo, tomato to top the sandwiches

Brown beef in skillet w/ 1 clove of garlic and seasonings.

Drain, mix with rest of the ingredients.

Cover, cook on low in croc pot.

Monday Meals: Bisquick Cheeseburger Pot Pie & Cannellini Bean and Pistachio Hummus

Last weekend I decided to organize our pantry and see what food we needed to use up. For some reason we ended up with a rather large box of Bisquick, something we don’t typically buy. I googled the Bisquick website and found the Cheeseburger Pot Pie recipe. It was a keeper, even T said we will needed to make it again. After the kids went to bed I used the rest of the box to make pancake after pancake. We froze three large freezer bags full of pancakes. This makes breakfast time in the morning quicker a little more fun for girls.

Bisquick Cheeseburger Pot Pie


1 lb ground beef

1 1/2 cup chopped onion

1 t seasoning salt

12 oz frozen mixed veggies

1 cup Bisquick

2 cups milk

4 eggs, beaten

2 cups shredded cheese


Heat oven to 400 degrees

Spray 13 x 9 pan with oil

Cook beef and onion over medium-high heat and, drain off the grease, sprinkle the season salt and mix.

In a bowl whisk Bisquick, milk and eggs.

Pour beef and veggie mixture in pan.

Pour the Bisquick mixture on top.

Bake 30 minutes.

Remove Pot Pie and sprinkle the cheese on top.

Bake another 10-20 minutes.

Another item we had an abundance of was cans of Cannellini Beans. Thankfully, I had just flipped through Kristin Cavallari’s True Roots cookbook and saw her Cannellini Bean and Pistachio Hummus. I love many forms of Hummus and this one has quite a great flavor. I added an extra 2 cloves of garlic for an added zing. I will eat this with cut up fresh veggies for lunch. It would be great on a wrap with sprouts and veggies for a more filling meal.

Cannellini Bean and Pistachio Hummus


2 cans of Cannellini Beans

1-3 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup shelled dry roasted pistachios

2 T champagne vinegar

2 t parsley

1 T tahini

2 t lemon juice

1 t lemon zest

1 t cumin

1 1/2 t sea salt

1/2 cup olive oil


Add all items to Vitamix or high powered blender. Keep refrigerated.

Monday Meals: Breakfast for Dinner

How about breakfast for dinner? My kids don’t request it too often, but it is definitely something that is done in our household. Most of the times when we do pancakes it is out of a box for the pure simplicity it offers to our short hours together. The Vitamix Recipe book has a great and easy recipe though too. If you don’t have buttermilk in the house you can add 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice to a cup of milk and let it sit for 10 minutes. We never have buttermilk in the house. My friend Ashley made us pancakes once and added food coloring to the batter. I don’t know if we have had “white” pancakes since. This morning we added sprinkles to the batter once it was poured onto the griddle.

I was part of a Facebook group a couple of years ago that a gal put together. She prepared weekly menus for the group that were healthy and wonderful tasting. One that I use often instead of pancakes is an Egg/Banana Pancake. Here is how I make them:

Beat 2 eggs in a bowl.

Add cinnamon (I love this spice so I add quite a bit), a splash of vanilla and beat again.

Mash a banana and then add to the egg mixture. Beat again.

Heat pan on low-medium heat and spray with coconut oil.

Cook like an omelet, or mini pancakes. I usually make 4 small pancakes.

Eat with fruit or maple syrup.

One thing I wish my kids requested more of was French Toast. We made this often when I was growing up. I use the Better Homes and Garden’s recipe which adds just a bit more flavor.

French Toast


4 eggs, beaten

1 cup milk

2 T sugar

2 t vanilla

1/2 t vanilla

1/4 t nutmeg

Loaf of bread, I prefer the English Muffin Toast


In a bowl beat eggs together then add milk, sugar, vanilla and spices.

Coat both sides of bread in the egg mixture.

On the griddle over medium heat cook each slice of bread, about 2 minutes on each side.

Serve with butter (optional) and maple syrup.

True Roots on a Sunday Morning

I got to wake up to the sunrise this morning. This is one of the things that makes me happiest, being able to wake up with the sun. Northern Minnesota days see little sun for so many months out of the year. My alarm goes off at 5:30, or earlier if Emery wakes me up, which is pretty often. Today, Sunday, the sun woke me up at 5:51. A win for me! I got to shower in peace. Stella and I got a few minutes to snuggle even before Emery came stomping up the stairs. Stella and I do not get many minutes of time alone, the look of sadness crept across her face when she heard Miss Em coming upstairs. I gave her an extra squeeze and the lightest smile I could while I kissed her nose. Once the kids and I were ready for church I was blessed with a few moments on the couch, Spiced Latte in hand and the newest cookbook of my collection, True Roots. Thanks Kristin Cavallari for the Spanish Spiced Latte recipe. I made it per your directions yesterday and today I changed it up a bit.

Spiced Latte


Organic Cinnamon Coffee, brewed in my Keurig

1/2 t cinnamon

1/4 t nutmeg

Dash of cayenne pepper

1/4-1/2 cup almond milk

1 T maple syrup

Brew coffee (I am a wimp, so it is made on a tall setting with my Keurig.

Mix together the cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.

Heat milk.

Pour milk into coffee cup.

Whisk in spice mixture.

Stir in maple syrup.

Monday Meals: Southwest Quinoa Salad & Mango/Avacado

In Minnesota we are (patiently, or not) waiting for spring to actually arrive. On paper it is, in real life, it is so very not here. We will try anything for it to show it’s beautiful green face. Go ahead and try these spring and light salads. Maybe eating like it is spring will help. Fingers crossed, toes crossed, eyes, legs….and anything else that we can cross.

Southwest Quinoa Salad


1 cup cooked quinoa

14 oz black beans

14 oz corn

1/2 large red pepper, chopped

4 green onions, chopped

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

4 T lime juice

1/3 cup olive oil

1 t cumin

1/2 t pepper

1 t salt


Add beans, corn, red pepper, onions and cilantro to cooked quinoa.

Whisk lime juice, olive oil, cumin, pepper and salt together.

Pour over quinoa mixture.

Refrigerate 1 hour before serving.

Mango/Avocado Salad


1 mango

1 avocado

1/2 bunch basil leaves

2 T balsamic vinegar

2 T brown rice syrup

1 T lime juice

1/4 olive oil

Sea salt


Chop mango and avocado.

Mix rest of ingredients with mango and avocado.

Makes 2 servings.

Monday Meals: Hotdish vs. Casserole

In the Midwest we often times find ourselves in a debate, is it a casserole or a hotdish? How about one of each? The Chinese Hotdish recipe comes from my hubby’s family. I had a similar one growing up, but this one is a no fail recipe for our kiddos. Although, we have to pick out the mushrooms for Miss Em. Since it takes an hour to bake I often make it the night before. It tastes just as good the 2nd or 3rd nights!The pizza casserole was a new recipe we tried. How many ways can a family eat pizza? I will be sure to update you. So far we have many!

Chinese Hotdish

Oven 350 degrees


1.5 lbs browned ground beef (or venison or turkey)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 c diced celery

1 can cream of chicken soup

2 cans chicken & rice soup

1 cup brown Minute Rice

1 can mushrooms

4 T liquid aminos (or soy sauce)

1.5 cans water

Chowmein noodles


Brown meat, onion and celery

Combine other ingredients in 9×13 pan

Bake 1 hour

Add noodles on top for crunch before serving

Upside Down Pizza Casserole

*slightly altered from Better Homes and Gardens Recipe. To make an adult version next time we plan on adding peppers and onions.


1 lb ground turkey

15 oz pizza sauce

4 oz mushrooms, drained

1/4 cup diced green olives

15-20 chopped up pepperonis

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 package refrigerated biscuits


Heat oven to 400 degrees

Brown meat until fully cooked, drain fat

Mix in pizza sauce, veggies, pepperonis

More mixture into a 2 quart baking dish

Sprinkle cheese on top

Flatten biscuits and place on top of cheese to fully cover the casserole

Bake 15-20 minutes, until biscuits are golden

Mid-week Meals: Oh Vitamix, how I love thee

Easter threw me off track; I missed #MondayMeals! Here we go with a Mid-week Meals post. Let’s talk about the Vitamix. We were debating about buying a blender a few years back. I told T that I wanted a Vitamix, but knew they were spendy. He did some research, as he does, and decided that maybe the Ninja could do what I wanted it to do, but was more in our price range.

I was hosting our monthly Bunko group at the time and we were having margaritas. I came home from work to prepare for the get together picture this: angels were singing and the clouds were parting with the sun rays shining down…there it was, a Vitamix!! There was me smiling ear to ear. T is not much of a gift person, but when he does it, he does it extremely well.

I use the Vitamix almost daily for my morning protein smoothies, but it does so much more. It will tell you in the manual and the cookbooks that you can let the blender run for over five minutes to make soup recipes hot. I personally use it to blend the items up to the consistency it calls for, or I like, and then will move the soup to a pot and let it simmer until hot. It is the top kitchen “gadget”, in my opinion, to own. A must have, and one that I would suggest to anyone.

At the time, T found a refurbished one through the company. It came with a warranty, a good one, not quite as long as if you bought a brand new one, but still better than what I thought a refurbished one would have. The company probably does this as the product is so good and typically the warranty will not be used.

Here is the recipe we used last week to marinate our chicken breasts, Asian Buffalo Sauce. We used it to only marinate two breasts so we had extras left. I took the remaining sauce and added about 3 tablespoons of sour cream to make a salad dressing.

There are a lot of great recipes provided with the Vitamix, here is the one I make the most, Black Bean Soup. It is an easy one to make and take for lunches. I don’t always sauté the onion before putting it in the Vitamix and I don’t feel like it alters the taste in anyway.

My go-to shake in the morning is a cup of almond milk, tablespoon of almond butter, banana, cinnamon, chocolate protein powder and some ice. Blend for about 30 seconds and drink on the way to work!

Monday Meals: Coconut Shrimp and Slow Cooker Thai Stew

You get a quadruple dose of recipes this week! I think we have mastered the Coconut Shrimp at our house. Every time we make it, I am surprised we don’t make it more often. We dip it in a Pineapple Salsa Dipping Sauce they used to serve at Bennigan’s in Fargo. The restaurant is no longer there. I warn you, you may want to drink this! It makes a lot, so I end up dipping chips into or use it as a salad dressing. The Thai Beef Stew from the cookbook Meals Made Simple was a recent hit as well. We served it with the author and chef, Danielle Walker’s Coconut, Cilantro and Lime Rice. She makes hers with cauliflower, we made it with jasmine rice. Travis and I enjoyed it more than the kiddos did.

Coconut Shrimp

*altered from a Bobby Dean recipe

1 cup coconut flakes, unsweetened

6 T plain bread crumbs

3 T flour

2 egg whites

1 lb shrimp, deveined and detailed

Combine coconut, flour and bread crumbs in one dish.

In another dish whisk the egg whites

Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper.

Coat shrimp in the egg whites and then with the coconut mixture.

To cook, you can either deep fry in oil (Travis does this and, of course, it is much better than the baked way, but the baked way is great too).

To bake place in preheated oven at 450 degrees. Place shrimp on a sprayed baking sheet and bake 8-10 minutes.

Pineapple Salsa Dipping Sauce

1 cup mayo

4 T salsa

8 oz crushed pineapple, drain and reserve the juice

2 T pineapple juice

2 1/2 T sugar

Combine and chill one hour

Slow Cooker Thai Beef Stew

*semi altered from Danielle Walker

2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided

1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat

1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons peeled and minced fresh ginger

14 ounces can full-fat coconut milk

1/3 cup tomato paste

1/2 cup red curry paste

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons lime juice

2 teaspoons sea salt

2 cups broccoli florets

2 cups carrots, chopped

Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, brown the meat on all sides. Had to work in 2 batches.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer each batch of browned meat to slow cooker.

With other 1 tablespoon of oil. Sauté the onion, garlic, and ginger over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.

Pour in the coconut milk and stir continuously to release the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.

Add the tomato paste, curry paste, soy sauce, lime juice, and salt, then pour the mixture over the beef.

Cook on high for 5 hours or low for 8 hours. Add the broccoli and carrots for the last 30 minutes of cooking. Serve garnished with the cilantro.

Coconut, Cilantro and Lime Rice

*inspired by Danielle Walker

2 cups cooked jasmine rice

2 teaspoon lime juice

Sprinkle of sugar

Sprinkle of sea salt

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoon coconut oil

Dash of vanilla almond milk (called for coconut milk but we were out)

Once jasmine rice is cooked per directions add in rest of ingredients. Enjoy!