Menu Plan Monday and other things

Happy Monday, y’all.

It’s raining cats & dogs outside and my body is telling me that I need to curl up on the sofa with a good book and take a nap.  Hibernate until the rain is gone. But, since it is supposed to rain for the next THREE DAYS I don’t think hibernating is a good idea. Especially since the girls would not be too happy when I didn’t pick them up at school this afternoon.


So, I’ll fight the urge to nap and instead focus on my ever-growing to-do list for work… right after I tell you about the fabulous meal we had last night.  I’m bragging, just a little, because I made it, you see. But it truly was scrumptious.

We had friends over for dinner and I made Pasta Fagioli soup. I served it with a hearty salad and some whole grain rolls.  We all pigged out. It was a yummy, filling, make-your-mouth-sing-and-your-tummy-happy kind of meal.

Have you ever had Pasta Fagioli? It’s super easy and super good. And a great way to get some veggies into your body (or your kids’ bodies) in a hearty soup.  My grandpa used to call it “pasta fazool” (read with a heavy Italian accent) or he’d call it “pasta beans.”


Basically, pasta fagioli is a tomato and beef-broth based soup with beans, vegetables and ground beef.  Only this time I also added a pound of mild Italian sausage. I’ll definitely be adding it to the recipe from now on.

For dessert, I made the cream cheese coffee cake I’d posted about on my Facebook page (you can follow me here) on Saturday.  Little Bit was my assistant baker and we had a great time making it.


It’s a very mild cake that’s not too sweet and has a ribbon of cream cheese running through it. It’s topped with a drizzle of a powdered-sugar and milk glaze which adds just the right amount of sweetness to it.

It’s kind of like cheesecake and pound cake got together and had a baby and this is what the baby is.  And since pound cake and cheesecake are two of my favorite desserts, I really like this one!!


It was perfect with a cup of coffee (or tea, in my case) and we all really enjoyed it for dessert last night.


As far as the rest of this week’s menu goes, I’m going to be cooking from my freezer for a few days – using up my stockpile of meats & veggies in there.  Here are a few things I’m thinking about:

  • Meatloaf on Monday – I’ll make little individual meatloaves so they bake faster and everyone gets their own little loaf.
  • Chicken stir fry with rice – ever since I got my rice cooker, I love making a huge batch of rice once a week and then finding different ways to serve it (quickly) for dinner.  This one is a favorite of ours.
  • Big Girl has been begging for some Shepherd’s Pie so I will probably make that one night, too.

SuperMan is working a big “shut down” at work and is going to be gone most of the week – 14 hour days – so I don’t know if I’ll do too many more big meals than that. Cereal and/or pasta nights might creep in as they’re easy and quick to fix and the girls are quite happy with that.

And now I’m off to brew some Tazo AWAKE tea, because I think I’m gonna need that extra jolt to get me going today.


Around Here: Success and not quite success in the kitchen

I love trying new recipes.

This is new for me as I used to be very hesitant to do that. If I went to the trouble of cooking something (and I was hungry) I wanted guaranteed success. I wanted to know my time, effort and ingredients were going to reward me with yumminess to enjoy.

I don’t know when this changed – maybe when I started baking more (years ago) or when – but it has changed indeed.

Now, it is fun to start with a base recipe as an “inspiration” for me and get in the kitchen and try to come up with something totally new for us to try.

Sometimes that yields delicious results.  Sometimes disasters. And sometimes things are just “meh” – they’re edible, they’re not terrible, but they aren’t necessarily things I’d repeat without some major reworking.

Yesterday was one of those days. I had this craving for some cheese tortellini in a vegetable soup. I had no set recipe in mind, but I knew what I wanted taste-wise.


I ran out to the store in the morning after taking the girls to school because tortellini is not something I normally stock in my pantry.  After my dash to get supplies, I decided to try doing things in the slow cooker rather than on the stovetop.

So, in everything went… Chicken broth, some stewed tomatoes, a bag of frozen “Italian” veggies (which translates to zucchini, squash, bell peppers, onions, carrots, butter beans), some other random veggies that I had in the freezer (like some shredded spinach) a bouillon cube, some garlic, copious amounts of Italian seasoning, etc.

It simmered and bubbled all afternoon.  When it was close to time to eat I cooked the tortellini in a pot of simmering water. I wasn’t sure if the girls would like the soup or the tortellini so I figured I would not mix the two unless they chose to.

I also grilled some chicken strips I had marinated in balsamic vinaigrette to serve in the soup or alongside with a salad if the soup was a bust.

I have to say, I’m glad I did that.

The soup turned out to be one of those “meh” kind of meals. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great, either.  Sadly, the best part of it were the tortellini (and they were store bought so they shouldn’t have been the tastiest part as far as I was concerned)

SuperMan and I ate it.  The Big Girl said “NO” and the Little One ate the tortellini out of the soup and nothing else.

Oh well.

These type of nights I’m grateful for Velveeta Mac & Cheese and instant pancakes (yes, I serve those things, just not very often!)  At least I know everyone had something to eat for dinner – even if it wasn’t what I had planned.

Big Girl said it was the “weirdest dinner ever” because she ate grilled chicken with pancakes.

We also tried a new dessert, which, if you follow me on Facebook you saw the link to yesterday. It was about the same in terms of our liking it.  It wasn’t bad, but I probably wouldn’t make it again.


It reminded me of the lava fields in Hawaii.

Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

And it was only one meal…

However, I didn’t satisfy my craving for the soup I had in mind.  I may try something again one day (maybe a minestrone base?) but I’ll have to wait until the kids forget about last night’s experimental dinner first. Smile

A few recent recipe successes

I thought I’d share some recent recipe successes I’ve had – things that were new to us to try – and mostly stuff I’ve found on Pinterest. It’s my favorite new recipe site!

  • Super easy super yummy crock pot soup: can of rotel, can of corn, can of black beans (drained & rinsed), 2 frozen chicken breasts, 8 oz cream cheese, 1 packet dry ranch dressing, 1 tablespoon cumin, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon chili powder. Put all ingredients in crock pot and cook 6-8 hours. Shred chicken, and enjoy! not sure this soup has a name, but if it did, it should most definitely have cheese in the name of it. It’s kinda like Chicken Tortilla soup met cheese dip and had a baby and this is the love child.  Very good and great on a cold winter day.
  • I made these biscuits for breakfast one morning.  The kids wouldn’t eat them (I think because they were both sick and I made them with whole wheat flour) but SuperMan and I loved them. (I made me-maw’s biscuits from this post)
  • I made these sausage balls a while back (for Christmas) and they were a huge hit. The secret is cream cheese in the mix. Makes them very moist. And heck, if you’re eating sausage balls, what’s a little cream cheese? It’s not exactly diet food. Smile

And here are some things I want to try but haven’t yet:

  • yumI was planning to make these cheesy garlic biscuits for dinner one night (or, rather, with dinner. Not for dinner, although I could certainly get on board with cheesy biscuits for dinner.)
  • And this pasta is called Angel Pasta. I’m thinking it looks an awful lot like an adulterated Alfredo, but I’m going to give it a try.
  • New and improved coconut and pineapple cakeAnd this cake just looks divine. I’ve already decided it’s going on the menu for the next get-together I have. I need an excuse to make it, have one piece and give the rest away.

What about you? Any recipes you’ve tried lately that your family has enjoyed? Any you have on the list of “to try soon?”

Join me on Pinterest for some fun!

But, I warn you… It is addictive.

Follow Me on Pinterest


I have been craving soups lately.

I think it is the combination of the cooler weather and the “crud” I have been fighting, but all that has really tasted good to me the past few weeks has been soups and stews.

Last night, Big Girl wanted tacos for dinner. So, instead of the planned hamburgers I whipped up some tacos for her.  However, my newfangled tummy does not really handle tacos very well, so I went on the hunt for something else for dinner.

Since I’ve been craving soups, I decided to pull out my veggie chili recipe and make that… and then as it simmered and everyone else ate their taco salads (which is how the girls decided they wanted to eat their “tacos”) I thought about that leftover hamburger meat that was sitting in the skillet and decided to toss it in as well.

So, my veggie chili wasn’t so “veggie” anymore.  But, it sure is good.  I had some for lunch today and probably will eat it for lunch every day this week.  It is hearty and filling and the little bit of ground beef in there is hardly noticeable, but the taco seasoning gives it a nice kick that my “normal” veggie chili doesn’t have.

Here’s the mixed-up-mashed-up recipe, just in case you want to give it a try. I’m thinking this will definitely go in the cookbook for future use. Especially when I have leftover meat from taco night!

Lois’ Not-so-Veggie-Chili-Taco-Soup

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 cans tomatoes with chilies
1 cup frozen corn
~2 Tbsp olive oil
1 – 2 tsp Houston House Seasoning
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 large can chili beans
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 package ranch salad dressing mix
1 (32-ounce) container beef broth
1 cup julienned or finely chopped carrot
1/2 – 1 lb ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced onion (dried)

  1. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to sauté pan. Brown ground beef, sprinkling minced onion and 1 Tbsp minced garlic while meat is browning. (you can  use leftover taco meat instead for this portion of the recipe)
  2. Once meat is browned, add 1 can of tomatoes with chilies and package of taco seasoning.  Simmer 5-10 minutes.
  3. In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, sauté carrots, onion & bell pepper in remaining olive oil until tender.
    (the rest you can do in a crock pot or on the stove)
  4. Add corn, tomatoes and beans. Add broth & seasonings. Finally, add ground beef.
  5. Cook on simmer/low for at least 30-45 minutes if cooking on stovetop or 2-3 hours on high (4-6 hours on low) if using crock pot.

Menu Plan Monday (uh, Tuesday) ~ 6 September

Well, I’m a day off again this week.  It’s with good cause, though, because we were celebrating the Labor Day holiday. Had a great day – walking in the rain with SuperMan, the girls & puppies, lazing around the house and then hosting some of our favorite people for a low country boil at the house. It was supposed to be a cookout, but it turned into a “cook-in” because of the rain. That didn’t slow us down at all, though. We had a marvelous time. When you have great company the locale is not as important.

Today we are back to the routine and I’m trying to wrap my head around some menu planning for the week. I’m hoping to cook out of my freezer as much as I can this week, so that means getting creative with my options.


Here are the menu items I’m thinking of making. Days are still open – what I will cook on what day – but this is the general plan:

I’m also planning to make my cheesy chicken pasta this weekend – we’re hosting our small group from church on Sunday. I imagine we’ll most likely eat dinner out on Saturday, too… so that will take us through the week.

What about you – any special plans this week?

Hop on over to for some ideas for more menus.

Menu Plan Monday ~ 29 November

Back to reality today.

After a week of lazing about at Mom’s house, it’s back to the regular routine.

I made a monster shopping trip on Sunday afternoon, restocking on all the perishables and produce/dairy that had gone bad while we were out of town. That necessitated a cleaning out of the refrigerator (thank you, SuperMan, for doing that for me!) and some planning for the week’s meals.

I put a crock pot on to cook with my beef vegetable soup – that will be lunches this week for SuperMan and me.

I also baked a Brown Sugar cake, but with a twist. I added a scoop of protein powder (and upped the water to 3/4 cup to compensate) and used a Spice Cake mix as the base instead of a yellow cake mix. YUMMINESS.

I am also planning to stick some oatmeal in the crock pot – trying out Alton Brown’s recipe for Overnight Oatmeal. It looks yummy.image

Here’s what I have planned so far this week:

Monday:  Spaghetti and meatballs, salad & garlic bread

Tuesday: I’m thinking of whipping up some sort of chicken/pasta dish

Wednesday: Meatball subs & salad

Thursday: not sure yet…I’m cooking dinner for a friend whose little one is having his tonsils out. Whatever I cook for her, I’ll just double and have some for us.

Friday: dinner out

Saturday: homemade chicken pot pies

Hope on over to for Menu Plan Monday ideas…

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