Monday Meals: End of Summer Produce

We didn’t have a a large variety in our garden this year but let me tell you, we had a large amount of cucumbers! T did his share of refrigerator pickles, we did the creamy cucumbers thing and the cucumbers and ranch thing. We are a bit spent on cucumbers. Last night I dug out my recipe books and tried a new recipe. This one was from Hemsley Hemsley: The Art of Eating Well. Sesame Chicken Salad with Cucumber Noodles . Mine looked a little different from theirs due to the type of cabbage I used, the way I cut up my cucumbers and I ended up using toasted almonds rather than sesame seeds. It was a light meal that I can’t wait to use for lunches this week.

We had a single zucchini in our garden. Last week I made Kristin Cavallari’s French Toast recipe for the girls. She uses her Zucchini Bread recipe for the bread. It is an extremely rich yet tasty take on the typical recipe. For this we used a small portion of the very large zucchini. We also tested out her Zucchini Chips with Dill Sour Cream and Onion Recipe which was amazing and her Oatmeal Zucchini Muffin Cups which were good, but definitely healthier than the French Toast. In other words, it wasn’t as flavorful as the French Toast.

Monday Meals: Chicken Pot Pie & Meatloaf Meatballs

Pick up Rachel Hollis’ cookbook, Real Life Dinners for the chicken pot pie recipe we tried out last week. If you can’t get the book, The Daily Meal has a similar recipe to the one we cooked up. We used a pre-made Pillsbury pie crust for the bottom and top rather than a package of biscuit dough. My oldest loved the meal, as did I. Currently, you can’t trust our youngest’s opinion *wink*

In the winter we cook meat loaf a handful of times. It is so easy to make ahead of time and serve as left overs. We usually use the Better Homes and Gardens recipe. I took a new approach to it this time. Rachel Hollis makes meat balls rather than cook it in a pan. My kids did prefer it this way. She also uses a food processor to disguise the carrots and zucchini her recipe calls for.

I mixed the two recipes together to create the one below.


2/3 cup rolled oats

1 cup onion

1 cup diced carrots

1.5 cup peeled and chopped zucchini

1.5 lbs ground beef

2 eggs

1/4 bbq sauce

1 t salt

1 t pepper

1/4 cup bread crumbs to thicken up mixture if needed

1/4 cup ketchup

2 T Brown sugar

1 t Ground mustard


Spray baking sheets

Oven at 400 degrees

Process (or blend) rolled oats, onion, carrots and zucchini until veggies are small pieces

Mix veggie mixture with beef, beaten eggs, bbq sauce, salt and pepper

Add bread crumbs if needed to thicken (my veggies ended up fairly blended, rather than chunky- hence the need for the bread crumbs)

Roll into 2 “ meat balls

Top each meatball with a bit of the following mixture:

1/4 cup

2 T brown sugar

1 t ground mustard

Bake 15 minutes or until cooked in the center

We served these with corn on the cob and cream cheese mashed potatoes!

Monday Meals: Chicken Curry & Cheese Tortellini Bake

I have been a bit MIA on the Monday Meals blogging posts. Let’s face it. I have been a bit MIA on any blogging *smile*sigh* The end of summer has been hectic and crazy in fun ways and stressful ways. I am not a person to dwell over my kids getting older and hope that they will be my babies forever. Don’t get me wrong. I wish they would stay in this stage of wanting to cuddle and hold my hand forever, but I am thrilled with seeing how they grow, develop and learn to love new things. The new school year just started and life is about to change once again!

Hold up, this is a Monday Meals post! Not one that talks about the crazy life I have been living! Let me reign this back in *smile* You are reading this post to see what couple of meals I am about to recommend! Let’s talk Chicken Curry. I posted a Chicken Curry recipe awhile back. I am always on the look out for the very best homemade Chicken Curry recipe, so bare with me as I post another. Feel free to message me and let me know how you like this one, or if you have any great ones to share, please do! This recipe is slightly altered from Against All Grains: Meals Made Simple from Danielle Walker.


3 lbs chicken breasts

1 medium onion, sliced

7 cloves minced garlic

1 piece of ginger, 1 ounce, diced

3.5 t soy sauce

2.5 t salt

2.5 t ground cumin

2.5 t ground turmeric

1.5 t coriander

1 t nutmeg

1/2 t allspice

2 c coconut milk in a can

4 carrots, peeled and sliced

2-3 c broccoli

1/2 c peas

1 c chopped raw cashews



In a slow cooker mix onion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, salt and spices.

Add chicken and coat with the mixture.

Cook or your slow cooker settings until chicken is cooked thoroughly.

Remove chicken and shred.

Place chicken back in slow cooker.

Add coconut milk and vegetables. Cook another 1 hour until veggies are tender.

Serve with cashews and cilantro over rice.

*you could try Danielle Walker’s Basic Cauliflower Rice recipe from the same book, or pick up a pack in the frozen food section at your local grocery store.

My littlest chickadee is a picky eater lately. The next recipe was a no fail with her. I got inspired from Rachel Hollis’ Baked Ravioli recipe in her book, Real Life Dinners (if you have not picked it up yet, please do! I promise you, you will love it!) If you have read past posts you will realize that I highly recommend it! You can check out her The Chic Site blog for recipe suggestion too.


1 package of premise Cheese Tortellini from grocery store

1 jar marinara sauce

1/4-1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs

Fresh mozzarella cheese (you could use shredded, but we bought a block and cut it into thin slices- used about 1/2 of the block)

Fresh basil leaves


Cook tortellini per directions on package

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Drain water from pot of tortellini after it is cooked, mix in jar of sauce , basil leaves and bread crumbs

Pour evenly into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish

Place slices of cheese on top

Bake 20-25 minutes

Monday Meals: Taco Salad & Caribbean Burgers

The temperatures and humidity have been extra high in Northern Minnesota this past week; pretty typical for August. It is weird, though. We were without an oven for about a month and my husband/father-in-law were able to figure out how to fix it just last weekend. Now that we have it back we don’t even want to use it as it would just add extra heat into our home. I was searching my recipe books for lighter meals that don’t require the oven and found these two to share. Enjoy the heat and these eats!

Taco Salad


1 bag of lettuce

1/2 onion, chopped

1 tomato, chopped

1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Bag of shredded cheese

Can of black olives, chopped

1 lb ground beef, browned

Packet of taco seasoning

Use taco sauce instead of water when making the taco meat

Thousand Island dressing

Doritos- Taco Flavored


Cook taco meat per taco seasoning directions, but replace taco sauce for the water.

Add all ingredients, except Doritos, to a large bowl and toss

Crunch chips on top

Caribbean Burgers w/ Mango Salsa

From: Woman’s Health Magazine, May 2006


1.5 lb ground beef

2 T jerk seasoning

1 mango, peeled and chopped

1 T chopped fresh cilantro, chopped

1 T green onion, chopped

1 T jalapeño, seeded and chopped

1 T lime juice



Combine beef and jerk seasoning, make into patties

Grill until cooked

Combine rest of ingredients in a bowl to make salsa

Top burgers with salsa

Monday Meals: More Magnolia and Muffins

I have been on a cooking at home spree again, thank goodness it came back. I dislike those dry spells. I feel like we eat more processed meals when we hit those spells. If we are going to eat unhealthy, I would rather it at least be with home cooked butter and love *wink*.

I was supposed to host book club a couple of weeks ago, but my grandmother passed away and that event got put on hold. I had prepared two different chicken salads to have. Both were from Joanna Gaines Magnolia Table cookbook. I preferred her Curry Chicken Salad recipe compared to her traditional one. I feel like I make a pretty tasty chicken salad without having a recipe to follow. I cheated a bit with her recipe and went with a store bought rotisserie chicken. I always enjoy my chicken salad a little more “saucy” vs dry. So I did add more mayo than she called for. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of the salad. I left it with my parents due to the unexpected trip home. They enjoyed the left overs. Don’t think I didn’t enjoy a good portion of it thought before I came back to Bemidji!

Curry Chicken Salad

From Joanna Gain’s Magnolia Table


Shredded chicken from a rotisserie chicken (roughly 5-6 cups)

6-8 oz diced water chestnuts

1 cup toasted slivered almonds

1/2 cup minced chives

2 or 2.5 cups mayo

2 T soy sauce

3 T curry powder

1/2 t garlic powder

1/2 t salt

1/2 t pepper

Extra tasty bread


Combine chicken, water chestnuts, almonds and chives, stir until well combined.

In another bowl whisk mayo, soy sauce, curry powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Pour mixture over chicken and stir until well combined.

Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Good for 3 days.

I enjoy this on toasted bread, croissants or wheat thins dipped into the salad.

The other raving meal I have to talk about was the quiche I cooked this weekend for my in-laws. I combined two of the Magnolia recipes as I desired the taste of the cheesy one but with some of the veggies *smile* I never grew up with quiche but it may be a new favorite for when we have company over. The girls also helped me make Rhubarb muffins 2 days in a row. They said we should make them every day! Thanks mom for the recipe!

Cheesy Veggie Quiche

Inspired from Joanna Gain’s Magnolia Table Cookbook


6 large eggs

1 cup heavy cream

1 t garlic powder

1/2 t paprika

1 t salt

1/2 t pepper

1 cup cheddar cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup cut up Swiss cheese

1/4 cup minced chives

1 cup diced mushrooms

1/3 cup diced onion

2 cups spinach

1 unbaked store bought pie crust (Thanks Pillsbury)

In pan over medium heat, drizzle olive oil in pan. Once heated, add onion, mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Set aside.

In large bowl add eggs, cream, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Whisk until well combined.

Stir in cheeses and cooked veggies.

Pour into pie crust.

Cook in oven set at 350 degrees for 40 minutes (or until the center is golden).

Remove and place on wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.

Helpful hints:

Place pie crust on a pan Incase there is any that spills over.

You may have to put tinfoil around edges of the quiche towards end of cooking time to keep from burning. Ours was fine, but this may help.

Rhubarb Muffins


1 1/4 c brown sugar

1/2 c veggie oil

1 egg

2 t vanilla

1 c buttermilk

1 1/2 c diced rhubarb

2 1/2 c flour

1 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

Combine brown sugar,veggie oil, egg, vanilla and buttermilk until well combined. Stir in rhubarb.

In separate bowl stir flower, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Combine all ingredients together.

Place into 18 muffin tins.

Add sugar topping (1 T melted butter, 1/3 cup sugar and 1 t cinnamon) to the muffins.

Bake 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes

Real Life Dinners: Cookbook Review

I have been waiting to write a review of this cookbook until I was able to test a handful of the recipes out. It is not often that I find a recipe book that was not worth the money, but before I say “go out and buy this book” I want to make sure it is a good one! Well, now i can say, “go buy Rachel Hollis’ REAL LIFE DINNERS”. I have tested out five recipes so far and they have been all “oh my gosh, this is great” tasty. I wrote about one in the 4th of July meal recommendations post, Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork.

A few weeks ago when I was feeding four men I had to come up with something good. After all, they were helping roof our house on a super hot and sunny day. With it being so hot, I am not sure what drew me to Rachel’s Tortellini Minestrone (recipe is found here on her website), but that is where I went. I served it with her Italian Chopped Salad. The salad hardly got touched as they went back for seconds of the minestrone. I half ways felt bad I was serving soup in June, but then I was reading the blurb Rachel wrote about the minestrone recipe and she said she makes it no matter the season. *smile, I did ok*. And hey, they hardly left any for leftovers! The Italian Chopped Salad didn’t go to waste, T and I ate that for three days! I was afraid since I added the dressing to the whole salad that it would get soggy and not taste good, but it got better with age! It is another recipe I will make again, but probably when we have more mouths to feed or when we strictly eat it as a meal by itself. The pistachios truly made it.

Hang tight, I know this post is getting long, but I have to rave about two more recipes! I made the Jalapeño Mashed Potatoes. Who knew the pairing of Basil and Jalapeño could be so dreamy?!?!? Dreamy and Creamy is how Mashed Potatoes should be, this is such a great pairing to grilled chicken and corn on the cob. My father-in-law had me send the recipe to my mother-in-law it was that good.

Last but not least (for now) was her take on the BLT. As she talks about it, you can add avocado to the classic summer sandwich for a slight twist (hello, summer fresh tomatoes). Rachel calls her take on it the BLATE (bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato, egg), and let’s not forget the pesto she adds to it. Her BLATE is listed under the chapter “breakfast for dinner”. Let’s just say, T is planning on having this sandwich for breakfast this morning and we may be making this for our company to have for breakfast this weekend. I can’t wait! It was mouthwatering and making me moan, good.

Have I said enough? Have I persuaded you to run to Barnes and Noble or Target to get the book? Both stores have it! Run. Run now. Start to run the calories off because you won’t want to stop eating her yummy recipes!

Here is how we made ours last night as we didn’t quite have all the ingredients needed to make it.


In high speed blender blend the following ingredients:

1 avocado

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 t salt

1/4 t pepper

1/4 pine nuts

1 clove garlic

1/4 Parmesan cheese

2 T dried basil

We use English muffin toast when we make BLT’s. On one slice add mayo, the other add the pesto. We then used bacon, fresh tomatoes/lettuce and one over- easy egg. We skipped out on the red onion as I am just not a fan.


4th of July Prep

I love the 4th of July. It’s amazing weather, low entertaining expectations compared to Thanksgiving and Christmas and just an overall great time to relax with family, friends and tasty food. You can’t forget the food!


(recipes at bottom of post):

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

French Fries

Strawberry Kale with Poppyseed Dressing

Baked Beans

Corn on the Cob

Strawberry Shortcake

Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork: I have heard of this type of slow cooker recipe before but T is THE meat cooker in the family. Hands down he is one of the best cooks in regards to meat. He will smoke pork all night (yes, all night he will get up to check on the meat) and then put it in the oven to finish it up. I can’t compete with that, yet, I tried last weekend! Rachel Hollis has a new cookbook out, Real Life Dinners. I had to feed some guys that were assisting with re-shingling our roof. Her recipe was a pure success and even T raved about how good it was. The coleslaw alone she pairs with it isn’t the most flavorful, but, I do think it made the sandwich superb. I used Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce and Sara Lee Artisano Buns. I had to go back for seconds as the combination was just too good.

French Fries: How did French Fries get their name? I am not certain, but they are totally an American food. Gwyneth Paltrow has a simple but tasty recipe in My Father’s Daughter cookbook. The extra work to make them from scratch is well worth the time.

Kale Strawberry & Poppyseed Dressing Salad: this was a mish mosh of recipes. I have to have my kale salads doused in dressing, almost creating a soggy consistency. As much as I prefer to make things from scratch, this Kraft Poppyseed Dressing is something I have not perfected yet. Not to mention, it’s ok to simple things up once in awhile. *smile*

Baked Beans: We do not make these from scratch. We purchase the Smokehouse Tradition Grillin’ Beans.

Corn on the Cob: I know there are plenty of ways to doctor up your corn on the cob, but I am a traditionalist when it comes to corn on the cob. I prefer straight up butter and salt.

Strawberry Shortcake: Who doesn’t love a classic like shortcake? You get to add white whipped cream, blueberries and strawberries for the full on 4th of July color. Better Homes & Gardens has the easiest and best recipes for Strawberry Shortcake and Whipped Cream.


Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork from Rachel Hollis’ Real Life Dinners


5-6 lbs pork shoulder

2 T all purpose pork grilling rub

1 can Dr. Pepper

1 cup BBQ sauce

Butter-toasted buns

Coleslaw (recipe listed next)


Rub pork on all sides with the seasoning and place in slow cooker.

Pour Dr. Pepper on top.

Cover and cook on high for 6-8 hours, until meat starts to fall off and become tender.

Remove meat from slow cooker and place on cutting board, let cool.

Pour left over liquid into bowl and set aside.

Shred the pork and place back in slow cooker.

Add 1 cup or reserved liquid and BBQ sauce.

Store and let cook for another 30 minutes.

Check occasionally, more reserved liquid may have to be added.

Coleslaw from Rachel Hollis’ Real Life Dinners:


4 cups shredded purple cabbage

1 cup grated carrots

1/2 cup sliced scallions

1/2 cup mayo

2 T lemon juice

2 t sugar

1/2 t salt


Toss cabbage, carrots and scallions in a bowl.

Mix mayo, lemon juice, sugar and salt until smooth.

Combine all ingredients.

Butter and toast the buns, scoop meat onto buns and top with coleslaw. Enjoy!

French Fries from Gwyneth Paltrow’s My Father’s Daughter:


2 large russet potatoes peeled

2 T olive oil

3/4 t salt


Set oven to 450 degrees

Cut potato into 1/3 inch thick sticks.

Place in bowl of cold water.

Dry them well with paper towels.

Coat them with olive oil.

Sprinkle with salt.

Roast on cooling rack set on top of a cookie sheet until browned.

Turn a few times.

Cook about 25 minutes

Services 4 people.

Kale, Strawberry and Poppyseed Dressing Salad

Mix together the following ingredients:

1 chopped cucumber

1 cup cooked quinoa

6-8 cups chopped kale

1/2-1 cup Kraft Sweet Poppyseed Dressing

1-2 cups chopped strawberries and blueberries

1-2 handfuls of Orchard Valley Harvest Orchard Valley Harvest Glazed Pecan Salad Toppers (or handful of slivered almonds and craisins)

Strawberry Shortcake and Whipped Cream recipes are linked here.

Strawberry Shortcake

Whipped Cream

Monday Meals: Cheez It Pork Chops

The girls and I visited my family in Moorhead this weekend. On Friday we made a trip to Costco with my mom. We were eating samples of food left and right. The “Cheez It Lady” suggested we crumble them up and use them as a breading on pork chops. Hmmm…interesting idea. The girls loved the recommendation. So we bought an economy size of cheese crackers!

My mom and dad looked to Pinterest for a little more guidance and came upon the recipe here. I wish I could have captured the kids’ face. More than once did they say we should tell dad about the recipe and they asked for seconds!

We are done no some work on our house this week and I will be feeding a few mouths to keep their energy up. I hope to share some more new recipes next week. Stay tuned!

Monday Meals: Iced Tea

Happy Memorial Day everyone! May you all enjoy this extra day off from work and please say your prayers and thanks to the veterans that have fought for our lovely country.

I won’t be sharing recipes for meals today, but I am on a iced tea kick since the temps increased so here are a couple I am loving. I tend to be a tea snob and like the “good stuff”. A couple of years ago I came across Argo Tea at Lueken’s in Bemidji. It was on sale and so I stocked up. The bottles alone were worth the money. Glass bottles with lime green caps. Completely reusable. After the sale ended I did some research on how to make tasty iced tea. Here are two recipes I feel I have perfected.

Green/Ginger Mix

8 cups water

10 green tea bags

1/2 cup sugar (or honey as I have used this year)

2 T cut up ginger

1 t vanilla

Splash of lemon juice

Boil water and remove from heat.

Place tea bags and ginger into pot of water and steep for 20 minutes.

Remove tea bags.

Stir in sugar or honey, vanilla and lemon juice.

Let cool completely.

Pour over ice or place in container and refrigerate.

Minty Mojitea

8 cups water

10 mint tea bags

1/2 cup sugar or honey

Splash of lime juice

Drop of peppermint essential oil (make sure it is a brand that you can consume- like Young Living)

Boil water and remove from heat.

Place tea bags into pot of water and steep for 20 minutes.

Remove tea bags.

Stir in sugar or honey, lime juice and oil.

Let cool completely.

Pour over ice or place in container and refrigerate.

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!