Feb 4 - 10, 2018

Meal Plan for the Week:

Sunday: Meatball Subs (Spaghetti and meatballs for the kids)

Monday: Sports practice so everyone is on their own

Tuesday: Rotisserie Chicken and green beans

Wednesday: Chicken Eggrolls with Ginger Dressed Salads

Thursday: Leftovers

What I prepped on Sunday:

The Meatballs and the Ginger Salad Dressing

Prep Time on Sunday: 70 Minutes

I love making meatballs, it is one of those things that you can have fun switching out simple ingredients to tweak the taste.  They can taste the same each and every time you make them. Or you can shake-it-up and they can taste completely different each and every time.

I doubled the recipe this week so I could put a set in the freezer.  I am not a huge fan of freezing red meat, but I know when I pull those out of the freezer in about two weeks I will be doing back flips because I will have some extra time one evening. 

I like to put in at least two different types of meat in my meatballs.  This week I went simple and used 1.5lbs of ground beef and 1.5lbs of ground pork sausage (not seasoned).  I read in one of Bobby Flay’s recipes to sauté the garlic before you add it to the mix, so that is what I do.  If the sautéing step pushes you over your limit, then just mince the garlic and add it in raw. 

Here is the combo I used, remember, I had enough for two meals.  I made all the ingredients in this nice and round so you can ½ easy if you only want one set.  I made 44 meatballs from this combo:

Mel’s Meatballs: 

1.5lbs ground beef

1.5lbs ground pork sausage

4 eggs

½ cup parmesan cheese

6 cloves garlic sautéed (thanks Bobby!)

½ cup dry bread crumbs

1 tbsp dried oregano

1 tbsp dried basil

Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients together in a bowl.  Roll into 1.5 in balls.  This is the prep work that I did on Sunday afternoon, I stopped here, placed ½ the meatballs in a freezer bag and the other ½ on a plate.  I covered the plate and placed the fresh meatballs into the freezer.  Later Sunday night I cooked them.

Take 1 cup oil (I use olive oil) and heat to a medium-high heat.  Fry meatballs in oil until they are cooked to the temperature of your liking.  I don’t quite cook them all the way though, but the choice is yours.   Once they are cooked remove with a slotted spoon and place onto plate lined with a paper towel.   At this point you can chose what you would like to do with them.  They are great for spaghetti and meatballs or meatball subs.  This week I used my homemade tomato sauce (recipe still to come) and did both options.  The kids gobbled up the speg & meatballs and Brian and I were up to our elbows enjoying the meatball subs. 

 Open Faced Meatball Sub...delish!

Open Faced Meatball Sub...delish!

The second item I prepped on Sunday afternoon for this week was the Ginger Salad Dressing.  I love, love, love this light, robust flavor, tangy salad dressing.  It is super easy to make this dressing at home and make it taste exactly like what you would get at your favorite sushi joint.  Here is what I did:

It’s a Ginger Thing Dressing:

½ cup diced onions

½ cup peanut oil (you can use any oil, but this really makes it pop)

½ cup rice vinegar

2 tbsps. ketchup (what did you think made it orange?)

4 tsp soy sauce

2 tsp sugar

½ lemon - fresh squeezed the juice

2 cloves garlic – minced

2 tbsps. fresh ginger

2 tbsps. water

Salt and pepper to taste

The easiest thing to do is get one of those salad shakers cups and toss all the above into the cup. 

This is the one I have and use, but this will work as well:  Salad Dressing Cup: $13.99

Please, please, please invest in a hand blender!  This will save your life, I use mine in so many of my recipes.  It is worth every penny, they are really not that expensive. 

Hand Held Blender: $28.07

So, throw all the ingredients into your salad dressing up, grad your hand blender and blend until smooth.   Enjoy!!


Recipes for the rest of the week:

Tuesday: Rotisserie Chicken and green beans

We grab a cold Rotisserie Chicken from the store, the cold ones are typically marked down.  Plus, if you buy it cold then you don't feel like you have to make it that day.  When you are ready, just heat your oven to 350 degrees and heat for about 20 minutes.  While that is heating make the green beans.

Greenest Green Beans:

Two handfuls of fresh green beans

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves garlic chopped

1/2 cup chicken broth

Guess what I do with the garlic...you got it, I sauté it.  Sauté the garlic in the olive oil until golden, add the green beans.  Continue to sauté for around 5 minutes, this will get that garlic flavor into the green beans.  Add the chicken broth and simmer until almost all the broth have been reduced.  These green beans are enjoyed by 3/5 of the family :-)  Not everything is always a hit at our house, but we still make what we like and the kids all at least have to try it...every time.

Wednesday: Chicken Eggrolls with Ginger Dressed Salads

Baked Eggrolls with Chicken:

1 whole chicken breast

1 tbsp. oil of your choice

1/2 of a white onion

1/2 cup carrot strips

1/2 red cabbage

1 cup peas

1 package of eggroll wraps

Dice the chicken, then sauté it in oil until cooked just about all the way through.  Add the onions, cook until translucent.  Add the carrots, cook until tender, add the cabbage and peas.  Cook until tender.  

Once the mixture is cooked, divide the chicken goodness into even portions and wrap in eggrolls.  Spray the eggrolls with cooking oil on both sides.

Bake in the oven on 350 degrees until crispy, turning once.

Brian and I love making sauces to complement our dishes.  With this meal we made two dipping sauces to go with our eggrolls.  

In sauce one we mixed with wasabi sauce with soy sauce.  In sauce two we mixed wasabi sauce, soy sauce and an orange ginger sauce.  We just mix and taste and mix and taste until we get it just right.  Taster be ware....the wasabi sauce is a sinus cleanser if you are not careful.  Use sparingly! Unless of course you are looking for that sinus cleaners, then use a lot.




It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

It’s grilling season!  This is my favorite time of the year.  This is when I can get real creative and do a lot of meal prep on Sundays.  I love to fire the grill up and precook as many things as I can.  This week I was able to prep 2 meals on the grill and cook dinner for that night as well….that is a total of 3 meals in one shot.  We made it to the spring sale of charcoal at Home Depot, we stocked up for the season.  We will probably make it through all this charcoal by fall….here we go….

Meal Plan for the Week:

Sunday – App – Lazy Grilled Jalapeno Poppers Dinner - Grilled Shrimp & Cilantro Lime Rice

Monday – Sports practice – on your own

Tuesday – Spicy Grilled Chicken Salad

Wednesday – Tacos

Thursday – Southwest Chicken Eggrolls


Grilled Shrimp & Cilantro Lime Rice

I like my shrimp in a simple butter, garlic and seasonings.  Brian likes his shrimp with BBQ sauce.  Both make an awesome dinner.  To complement this dish we make our own version of Chipotle cilantro lime rice.  Thanks Chipotle 😊 


Butter/Garlic Shrimp

½ tbsp. butter melted

1-2 cloves pressed or chopped garlic

1-2 tsp your favorite seasoning salt

BBQ Shrimp

Coat the shrimp with your favorite BBQ sauce

Cilantro Lime Rice

Prepare 1 cup of cooked rice, follow directions.  If you make raw rice (not the minute rice) I have found the secret is to follow the directions to the ‘T’.  If it says something is optional (like salt or butter) do NOT opt out, use it.  Other wise you will end up with soggy or sticky rice.  We tried one of those rice cookers…they are not worth it, we returned it about as fast as we bought it. 

Once you have the rice made add the juice from at least one lime, ½ cup chopped cilantro and some additional salt.  This really is one of those dishes that you have to add things to taste, add more lime, don’t over cilantro, if you want more you can always add it. 

Marinate the shrimp for at least 30 minutes and then cook the on the grill until the shrimp are completely cooked through, they will turn pink.  I like to use metal skewers, they are reusable and the metal helps cook the inside of the shrimp as it gets hot on the grill. 

Once the shrimp are cooked, serve over the rice…it is so yummy!!  We added some grilled onions to the dish.  I am telling ya, the grilled onions are so easy and such an easy accent you can add to so many dishes.  I grill those about every time I fire up the grill, it’s just too easy. 

Spicy Grilled Chicken Salad


Coat the chicken in Italian Salad Dressing, our favorite to use is Seven Seas Viva Italian.  We swear by this particular brand and type of Italian, there are others like zesty or regular Italian, trust me, Viva makes the best marinade.  Add the amount of hot sauce, we use Sriracha, just a touch will do.   Let that marinade for 2 hours up to 24 hours. 

Once soaked for the appropriate time, throw on the grill and cook.  This is something that you can cook on Sunday and use on Thursday if you would like.  Just chop and add to your favorite salad mix. 


Southwest Chicken Eggrolls

We decided to grill the chicken we wanted to put into these.  Why?  Because everything tastes better on the grill…duh doy!  We made up this marinade on the spot as we were talking about what flavors we wanted to use.  We decided on the following ingredients:

2 tbsp. dry ranch mix

½ cup olive oil

½ cup cilantro

3 cloves pressed/chopped garlic

Juice of 1 fresh squeezed lime

Mix all ingredients and let the chicken marinate for 2 – 24 hours. 

Throw this chicken on the grill and cook all the way through.  Cool and place in an air tight container and save for the night you want to cook it. 

When you are ready, take the chicken out of the fridge and dice.  Add diced onion, cilantro and avocado.  Mix all these in a bowl and set aside.  Take an eggroll wrap and evenly divide the mix into the eggrolls,  Wrap the eggrolls tight and seal with water.  You can either bake or fry these eggrolls.  This week I splurged and fried them and holy cow were they good!  I used peanut oil and fried them evenly on all sides until they were golden brown. 

I decided to come up with a fun dip for these.  I added fresh lime juice to some sour cream and it tasted HORRIBLE, it was just awful.  I asked Brian to help me out and together we took the gross lime sour cream and made a delicious dip for our eggrolls.  It was so simple.  We added some dry ranch mix (remember we used this in the marinade) and some taco seasonings to the yucky sour cream and we totally redeemed ourselves (lol).   It was absolutely delicious.  It was one of those dinners where I sat in bed later that night and thought to myself, that dinner was amazing…is that weird?  I don’t care, it was so good.  I love it when I can surprise myself with something so basic. 

I have so many awesome grilling ideas I can’t even wait until I can share them all with you.  Plus, it is getting to the point where we are going to start growing things in the garden.  We already have wild cilantro popping up in our garden…but that is an ingredient for another week.  Ok, I can’t keep it a secret, it is in a recipe next week!!! 

Prep Work on the Grill on Sunday:

March 20 - March 24, 2017

I traveled for work over the weekend, so Brian did all the shopping!  The weather was nice to start the week and I had Monday off so grilling it is!  I always get so excited to start the grill.  Everything tastes better on the grill.  We are a charcoal only family....it takes a little longer to get the coals going, but it is totally worth the wait.  Here is what we lined up for the week:

Meal Plan for the Week:

Monday - Cheese Burger Sliders on a Pretzel Bun, Brats and Lemon Garlic Aioli Grilled potatoes (yes, we did both B & B, plenty of leftovers.)

Tuesday - Chicken Pot Pies with Salad

Wednesday - Baked Cream of Chicken with Rice


Prep - Garlic Aioli - 20 minutes.  I didn't get a chance to prep this before, but it is real simple and the longer you let it sit (no more than a few days) the better it tastes.  All the flavors infuse with each other and taste even better and bolder.  The lemon flavor will really come through the longer you let it sit.   

Lemon Garlic Aioli

4 cloves minced or pressed fresh garlic

1 cup mayonnaise 

1 tbsp Olive Oil

Juice of 1 Lemon

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Mince or press the garlic in to a bowl.  Add the mayo, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Mix well and taste.  You should taste the lemon and garlic flavors.  Add more lemon, salt and pepper until you get the flavor you want.  This is BOLD!  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  

ailoi jpeg.jpg

Cheese Burger Sliders on a Pretzel Bun and Brats

I typically pick up just over a pound of meat for our family.  I made sliders this week because I found these cute pretzel buns in the shape of a small hoagie.  I sliced the hoagie in half for the slider buns.  


I stopped at HyVee and picked up some of their brats, they have some fun flavors.  I picked up 2 x Bacon & Cheddar 2 x Jalapeno and Cheddar and 2 x Pineapple....Maggie LOVED the pineapple.  They were the best, the sugar from the fruit caramelized in the skin and it was almost like a dessert brat....almost, it was still a brat.  Picking out different flavors like this makes dinner time more fun and interactive for the kids :-)  

I also added some onions to the grill.  Grilled onions are the best on hamburgers, brats and they are fantastic LEFT OVER!  We add them to sandwiches to make them more exciting or to a salad to give it more flavor.  Here is all I do to the onions.

Grilled Onions

1 medium white onion, sliced

2 table spoons olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

That's it, I like to put them in a metal bowl so I can put it directly on the grill and the onions will cook in all their juices while picking up the charcoal flavor.  Just toss them with tongs every time you check the grill.  

Grilled Potatoes

 Here is my preference on potatoes: Red = Grilled, Yellow = Mashed, White = Baked.  Just my opinion, you do what you like the best.

1 small/medium red potato per person

Cut up into quarter size wedges.  You want them all to about the same size so they will cook at the same rate.  Throw them into a pot of boiling water (I double cook my grilled potatoes) cook them half way, don't fully cook them, they will finish cooking on the grill.  

When they are about 1/2 cooked remove them from the heat and drain the water.  Mix in a bowl with olive oil and salt & pepper...you got it...to taste!

Place in a grill pan and put on the grill.  Flip every 5ish minutes so they cook all the way through and get nice golden grill marks on all sides.  When they are cooked, remove from grill and let cool for a few minutes.  Toss with the garlic aioli just before serving and enjoy!

 You HAVE to grill the buns.  Spray with olive oil, sprinkle with seasoning salt or garlic salt and set on the grill, don't leave them, they will toast fast.  Remove when they are toasted to perfection.

You HAVE to grill the buns.  Spray with olive oil, sprinkle with seasoning salt or garlic salt and set on the grill, don't leave them, they will toast fast.  Remove when they are toasted to perfection.

Chicken Pot Pies

 My kids love this dish because I cook them in individual ramekin dishes and they each get their own 'pie'.

Inside of pie

1/3 cup butter or margarine

1/3 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Salt & Pepper to taste

1 3/4 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup milk

2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken

1  cups peas

1 cup corn (typically from our garden that we freeze)

Refrigerated pie crusts

Heat oven to 425°F. 

Dice chicken and cook in a table spoon of olive oil (or butter/oil of your choice)  sprinkle with salt & pepper and Italian seasonings.  Cook completely and set aside.  

In saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until well blended. Slowly stir in broth and milk, cooking and stirring until bubbly and thickened.

Stir in chicken and  vegetables. Remove from heat. Spoon chicken mixture into dish/dishes. Top with pie crust; seal edge. Cut slits in several places in top crust.

Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.Let cool for a few minutes before serving

Baked Cream of Chicken with Rice

2 chicken breasts cleaned and cut into sections

1 can of cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup

3 tbsp butter

1/4 cup cooking sherry

1/2 cup sour cream

Rice (type and amount up to you and your family)

Heat oven to 350°F.  Cut up butter into cubes and place in baking dish.  Add the chicken and cooking sherry.  Place in the oven for 20 minutes. 

Remove from oven, take chicken out of the dish and set aside.  Add the cream of soup to the butter and cooking sherry.  Place the chicken back into the soup mixture.  Return to oven for another 20 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked.

Cook rice by following direction on the package.  I like to use long grain white rice (I know white rice is the devil, but that is what we like)  You can use minute rice if you would like, white, brown, yellow, what ever floats your boat.  

Take the cooked chicken from oven and again remove the chicken and set aside.  Mix the sour cream into the soup mix, once completely blended together place the chicken back into the soup/sour cream goodness.  

Place rice in the bottom of the bowl, add chicken and soup mixture to the top.  Enjoy!