Let me first say that I truly appreciate all the feedback since I’ve started this little blog. I have really appreciate our texts, emails, posts, and comments at school to let me know how much you’re enjoying it. It’s been fun for me and I am enjoying it more than I thought. So many of you have been kind enough to share your tips, suggest new recipes, and commiserate about the stress and hassle of getting dinner on the table each evening- thank you!!
For many of us, school and fall sports are well underway. I might have over-planned last week’s meal calendar just a bit. I stuck to the plan, and my family appreciated each meal, but I underestimated how busy and tired I’d be with school and sports starting all in the same week. I planned for one day of leftovers, but what I really needed was either another day of leftovers or something easy from the freezer. Rookie move. This week is looking a little nutty with busy days and several evening meetings. One of my favorite sayings- When you know better you do better! Here’s to an easier week of getting food on the table. And, let’s not forget we’ve got a nice long weekend ahead of us!
Turkey Chili with White Beans
There are many chili recipes out there, and I’ve made several different kinds myself. Over the years I’ve tried many variations- beans vs. no beans, ground beef vs. cubed, tomato sauce vs. chicken/beef stock/beer, spicy vs. mild, quick and easy vs. simmer all day, etc. This week I am cooking my favorite turkey chili because it’s quick and easy, full of flavor and provides leftovers. It’s always a hit and the recipe is usually requested when I share it with family and friends. I serve it with all the toppings: cilantro, shredded cheese, green onion, avocado, and sour cream. A side of cornbread- Trader Joe’s box(!) or crushed up tortilla chips is yummy, too.
I make it as directed with these exceptions: I substitute the 3 cans of white beans for 1 can of white beans, 1 can of black beans and 1 can of dark red kidney beans. I like the variety but anything works. I also use dark turkey thigh instead of more lean turkey breast- it seems to have more flavor. Finally, I add about a cup of frozen corn in the last 10 minutes of cooking.
*Bonus- the leftovers are even better the next day after the flavors have had a chance to develop.
Frozen Trader Joe’s Orange Chicken
You’ll recall me saying a few weeks ago that once school starts you’ll see “Trader Joe’s frozen something” on my meal calendar more often. Well, this is one of those go-to meals for busy nights. I actually cook 2 packages for our entire family and there’s always a little leftover. I serve it with a side of broccoli and frozen jasmine or brown rice- all from Trader Joe’s. Not the healthiest meal, but it couldn’t be easier and my kids absolutely love this dish.
*Caution- Once I packed a few servings in Tupperware for Sydney and I to eat in the car on the way to a “birds and the bees” class. I figured we needed full tummies for the night we had ahead of us. The darn chicken dish didn’t sit for more than 30 minutes in the Tupperware before it steamed its crunchy outside right off and into a nasty mushy layer making our dinner nearly inedible. Lesson #1- do not make this ahead of time and certainly don’t package it! Lesson #2- if you’re going to take your kid to such a class, treat them to a nice juicy In & Out Burger, fries and shake.
Pulled Pork Sandwiches
This is a household favorite and I’m excited to get it back into the rotation. Thankfully, my friend Marina reminded me of this dish and I am happy that she did! It’s a great dish for the crockpot that can cook all morning or afternoon and can sit until you’re ready to shred the pork and add BBQ sauce. We love the pork on Hawaiian rolls with a side of coleslaw (nothing fancy here- bagged shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, and Marie’s coleslaw or poppy seed dressing) and baked beans.
Labor Day Menu
Tomato Pie, Grilled Sausages, Corn Salad, Watermelon Wedges and Butterfinger Pie
I made a very similar menu when we had some friends over this summer and thought it would make a great Labor Day menu as well. Make one or all of these dishes and you won’t be sorry. At first glance, it probably doesn’t look like an easy menu, but each dish only has a few ingredients, very easy to prepare, and is full of summer flavor. Enjoy!
I know what you’re thinking… tomato what?! This has been a favorite of mine since childhood. My mom used to make this when we had company over and guests always requested the recipe. Years ago she gave my siblings and me a wonderful Christmas gift- a book of family recipes and this one made the cut. I make it several times each summer and this year is no different. It makes an impressive and delicious dish when you entertain but is simple and comforting enough to make and bring to a friend with a new baby.
Make it easy on yourself and buy pre-made pie dough and unroll it right into a pie dish. Poke a few holes in the dough and cook as instructed before filling your pie shell with the tomatoes and cheese mixture. And, don’t bother peeling the tomatoes, it’s unnecessary!
This is delicious, super easy, and I make it as directed. Fresh corn is really important here!
This is hardly a recipe but here’s another favorite from my childhood that was included in our family recipe book. My kids nearly died when they were at the grocery store with me and I asked them to go find 6 Butterfinger bars. One of them said, “What is this, Halloween or something?” My candy bar-deprived children declared this the best dessert ever and I’m pretty sure I’m going to need to include it in my very own family recipe book someday.