It is apple picking time folks! Truth be told I have never gone to an orchard and picked my own apples so when someone told me there was a “pick your own” apple orchard and pumpkin patch just down the road my fall loving self immediately added it to our Minnesota Bucket List. And yes, I have already made one, when I am avoiding my unpacking responsibilities. The photo below is one my husband snapped while out driving this week for work and it only increased my excitement to go find some fall activities. It is beautiful here.
Also, Bennett is unusually obsessed with all things Halloween so he will love the pumpkin patch. Do not ask me how an almost two year old already knows so much about a holiday. We read two Halloween books to him back in August and he has been asking for pumpkins and “spooky scary ghosts” ever since. It does however, motivate him into compliance when we go shopping now because he knows if he is patient he gets to go look at the Halloween section…mom win.
Speaking of Bennett, it is also his birthday month and I am so excited. I absolutely LOVE birthdays and he is finally to the age that he understands birthdays and I cannot wait to make his special for him. I have spent an unnecessary amount of time day dreaming about celebrating my children’s birthdays before I even had any so this is a BIG DEAL! So before you get to meal planning, I would ask some help from you.
What fun birthday traditions does your family look forward to? Share in the comments, I would love ideas!
Shelf Cooking – I thoroughly enjoy meal planning (duh read my blog) but I also believe in saving money and not wasting, so I think I’ve found the happy medium for my own family. My invitation, and what I will be doing with my own meal planning from now on is this, whatever time period you meal plan for (two weeks, a month, whatever,) IN ADDITION to your leftover nights, plan at least one or two meals to be “Shelf Cooking” (phrase coined by blogger Jordan Page from Fun Cheap or Free) nights. Meaning, USE WHAT YA ALREADY GOT! Yes you will have to get creative, but that is TWO less meals you have to buy groceries for, or eat out for. Not having to throw out wasted food is a plus as well in my book.
Sugar Substitutes – When a recipe calls for cane or brown sugar I almost ALWAYS use a stevia baking blend or just plain Stevia. I take comfort in knowing I am feeding my family that much less sugar… plus it means I can have seconds guilt free. Winning!
I will no longer be adding the tag “GF” to any of the meals. Everything I make now must be gluten free so if the dish’s original recipe uses a gluten containing substance I will explain how and what I substitute to make it GF.
Snacks & Sweets – Below the dinners I hope you’ll be as thrilled as I to see a Snacks & Sweets section. Some of the recipes in this section I already absolutely love, and some I have yet to try. Some are guilt free and some are reserved for cheat days. Happy snacking!
*-Tried and true family favorite.
B4D-Breakfast for Dinner (There isn’t lot of time in the mornings and we love breakfast food so we eat it for dinner instead)
YoYo- You’re on your own. (Because I don’t believe that someone should have to cook every day of the week)
Not sold on meal planning yet? Check out my crash course guide and I’ll have you convinced!
Shelf Cooking – see “Noted” Section for explanation
B4D – Coconut – Almond Breakfast Quinoa / Spinach and Cheese Omelettes
B4D – Turkey Sausage Breakfast Burritos
GF note – we use warm corn tortillas instead of flour and top them with salsa and cheese.
*Crackslaw / Brown Rice or Quinoa
I do not make my own enchilada sauce, although I have been meaning to try the recipe from this recipe.
Quick and Easy Cauliflower Stir Fry / Brown Rice
Bacon Lettuce & Tomato Sandwiches
*Momma’s Clam Chowder / Butter Dip Biscuits
I asked for this every birthday dinner growing up. I love my momma’s clam chowder. It makes a large quantity so we half the recipe. I also rinse the clams really well so there is less of a fishy taste.
GF note – ( subsitute GF all purpose flour or half it and add cornstarch instead)
1 c chopped onion 3 c chopped potatoes
2 c chopped celery 4 cans chopped clams
3/4 c butter 3/4 c flour
1 qt. half and half 1 1/2 tsp salt
salt to taste 1/2 tsp sugar (1/4 tsp Stevia)
Put clams and vegetables in a large sauce pan. Add enough water to cover and cook until tender. Melt butter and mix with flour. Blend and cook 2 minutes, then stir in veggies. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and simmer 1-2 hours. You can always add milk if it gets too thick. Top with shredded cheese
Pulled this recipe from one of my favorite cook books- 400 Calories or Less with Our Best Bites. I plan to fry some chicken in sesame oil and garlic and add to this dish.
1/4 c water 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c tamarind or mango nectar 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
3 tbsp soy sauce or fish sauce 1/2-1 tsp siracha sauce
1 12 oz package rice noodles pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp olive oil (divided) 1 8 oz package mung bean sprouts
2 tsp minced garlic 3 eggs beaten
1/4 c fresh cilantro chopped 2 tsp water
1 1/2 limes cut into wedges 1/4 c plus 2-3 tbsp green onions
1/4 c plus 2 tbsp roasted salted peanuts, chopped and divided
Bring 6 cups to a boil. While the water is heating, whisk together the sauce ingredients and set aside. When water begins to boil, place rice noodles in a medium sized heat safe bowl and pour water over noodles. Let them stand 6-8 minutes, stirring halfway through. Noodles should be done but not quite; they’ll finish cooking in the sauce.
While noodles are cooking heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and green onions and cook for about 1 minutes until fragrant. Heat the remaining 1/2 tsp oil in the pan. When hot, add eggs, water, and salt and cook for about 30 seconds, then using a spatula, drag eggs across the pan to scramble them. Cook until just scrambled then remove eggs and onions from the pan and set aside.
Add sauce ingredients to the pan and bring to a boil. When noodles are done softening, rinse immediately in cold water, ,and add to the boiling sauce. Add bean sprouts and 1/4 c chopped peanuts. Cook until noodles are just barely tender. Return eggs to the pan and toss to combine. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and peanuts. Serve with lime wedges.
Spaghetti Soup / *Marie Callender’s Corn Bread
I Pulled this recipe from one of my favorite cook books- 400 Calories or Less with Our Best Bites. This makes 8 servings so we will half it for our family.
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 1 tbsp italian seasoning
1 lb lean ground beef 1 tbsp sugar
1 large onion diced 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
6 cloves garlic, minced salt and pepper to taste
1 quart beef broth 1 15 oz cans tomato sauce
1 tsp red wine vinegar 2 14.5 oz cans Italian style diced tomatoes
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese fresh basil (optional)
6 oz spaghetti broken into fourths
Heat olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add ground beef, onion, and garlic. Cook until ground beef is browned and onions are tender and fragrant. Add the remaining ingredients except spaghetti, Parmesan and basil and bring to a boil over high heat. Add broken spaghetti and cook until done. Top each bowl with Parmesan and basil if desired.
Marie Callender’s Corn Bread
1/2 C butter 2 C Bisquick (we use the GF version)
1 C milk 1/2 C sugar (half this amount of a Stevia blend)
2 eggs 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 heaping tbsp corn meal
Beat the eggs, and add milk. Add dry ingredients and blend. Add melted butter and mix well and pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.
*Momma’s Shephard’s Pie / Side Salad
I apologize ahead of time because this recipe is pretty much a- throw together however you’d like depending on what you have in the house kind of dish, I just do whatever my mom did. Someday I will get around to writing an actual recipe.
1 lb cooked and seasoned ground hamburger or turkey
frozen vegetables( I love corn) or canned green beans
4 portions worth of mashed potatoes (store bought or homemade
1 can worth of cream of mushroom soup (see GF recipe below)
shredded cheese blend
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a 8×8 or 9×9 casserole dish mix the soup, as many vegetables as desired, and ground meat into the bottom of the dish. Next layer the mashed potatoes and top the dish with shredded cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbling.
Gluten Free Cream of Mushroom Soup
In a microwave safe bowl, combine the following ingredients and microwave for 2 minutes or until thickened to desired consistency. Taste first, I usually add more bouillon and salt)
1 1/4 c milk 2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp thyme 4 oz mushrooms chopped fine
1/4 tsp garlic 1 tsp chicken bouillon
1/2 tsp salt
Snacks & Sweets