National Soup Day is February 4th!

February 4th is National Soup Day! This is probably one of my favorite days of the year.

Soup is an inexpensive, filling meal. It works with any dietary restrictions, and you can cook it on the stove or in a crockpot.

Here are just a few of my favorite soup recipes:

Veggie Soup 
Chicken Fajitas Soup 
Easy Broccoli Cheese Soup
Potato Cheese Soup
Hearty Veggie Soup
Chicken Tortellini Soup
Veggie Tuscan Soup
Homemade Chicken Soup
Zuppa Tuscana Soup CopyCat Recipe
Chicken Corn Chowder
Roasted Onion and Caramelized Onion Bisque
Butternut Squash Bisque
Beef Stew
Harvest Veggie Ravioli Soup

12/12/2022 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgI’m pausing our  Yasukochi Family Farms CSA box subscription until January as we have a lot going on, and I’m having a hard time cooking all the veggies each week.

Over the weekend I made roasted veggies using Urban Accents Veggie Roaster seasoning blends. I use the Citrus pepper for green beans, and carrots, Italian Squash, and onions. For the baby Brussels Sprouts I use the Balsamic Onion kit. 

I also made spiced apple sauce, which is a kid favorite.

We’ll be having those throughout the week with our dinners.

I cleaned out the fridge and reorganized the freezer, and this really helped me see what we have on hand.

We’ve been trying a lot of new foods lately, thanks to the really great freebies from Social Nature lately too. It’s fun to try new foods.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. They are also into fruit and bagels for breakfast. Lately, the big kid has been digging protein shakes in the morning. This is his favorite kind. 

Lunch: I have a plastic tote in the cupboard full of self-serve snacks. I buy treats and snacks in bulk and fill up snack-sized zip-top bags. The big kid brings his lunch from home every day and the littlest buys her lunch at school about half the time. In California, all public schools provide breakfast and lunch for free.

Dinner: This week looks to be on the slower side, but we’ve still got a lot of holiday fun stuff going on. It’s cold here at night (for California), so I’m turning the oven on to make dinner with greater frequency.

  • Monday: Chicken Pot Pie (recipe later this week), roasted veggies

  • Tuesday:  Baked mac and cheese, Spiced Apple Sauce

  • Wednesday: Nuggets, fruit, crackers, and cheese (the typical Wednesday night dinner)

  • Thursday:  Shakshuka, Sourdough toast, fruit salad

  • Friday: Takeout night!
  • Saturday: Breakfast for dinner (egg and veggie scramble, toast, fruit salad)
  • Sunday:  Leftovers

Recipe: Chicken Gnocchi Soup

A few weeks ago my mom and I cooked a dinner for 50 people as part of our local SCA group’s winter event. Most of the recipes were historical in nature, however, this Chicken Gnocchi soup is not strictly historically accurate for our group (pre-1603ish), as most people in Europe didn’t consume potatoes or potato gnocchi. The gnocchi did exist, however, it was usually made from cheese, flour, and eggs (example and recipe here).

This soup is a great complete meal. It freezes well and makes a great gift.

I’ve scaled down the recipe to make it a little easier to prepare for the average size family.

Chicken Gnocchi Soup Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 2 T. Butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 T. Italian Seasoning
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 cups of chicken cooked and cut into bite-size pieces- leftover rotisserie chicken is perfect for this.
  • 1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 1 lb. package of Potato Gnocchi
  • 12 ounces of your favorite milk (I used 1/2 and 1/2)- evaporated milk is a good choice too.

Directions:

  1. In a large stockpot, melt butter, and add onions, carrots, and celery. Cook until onions are translucent (about 10 minutes).
  2. Add garlic, and herbs/bay leaf- cook until fragrant.
  3. Add broth, and scrape brown cooked bits off the bottom of the pot.
  4. Add chicken, and simmer on low for about 20-30 minutes, allowing flavors to meld.
  5. Add in Potatoe Gnocchi and allow to cook on medium for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep gnocchi from sticking together.
  6. Finally, add in your milk of choice. Bring soup back up to a simmer for 10-ish minutes.

Serve topped with parmesan cheese. I also like this soup served with a salad like this one.

Dietary Substitutions:

  • If you are Dairy Free, use Dairy Free milk. I recommend nut milk like unsweetened almond milk.
  • If you are a vegetarian, use vegetable stock and substitute chicken for 1 can of rinsed and drained chickpeas/garbanzos.
  • If you are vegan, do the 2 above recommendations and saute veggies in olive oil instead of butter.
  • If you are Gluten Free, use GF Gnocchi, like these.

How to Repurpose Thanksgiving Leftovers

Everyone loves leftovers!

At this point, your 2022 Thanksgiving Meal is already cookin’. And if your dinner is anything like ours, there are leftovers. Lots and lots of leftovers. Which, don’t get me wrong is great, but, after a few days, you may get tired of eating leftovers.

Here are a few ways you can repurpose your Thanksgiving leftovers and make something tasty (and different).

1- Let’s start with the star of the show- The Bird.  I recommend taking the carcass and a few cups of meat (I use dark meat) and make stock. Here is my basic recipe, substitute the rotisserie chicken in the recipe for your turkey. And the best part is that you can do it in the crockpot overnight! Once you have a rich stock, you can make- SOUP! I’ll have a great Turkey Soup recipe up in a bit.

When packing up leftovers, I cut all of the remaining meat up, so there aren’t HUGE CHUNKS. This makes the meat easy to serve for future meals.

2- Gravy. Don’t ditch the leftover gravy! I add my leftover gravy to my Turkey Soup. Admittedly, I make a lot (8 cups+) of gravy.  Not a thick soup fan?

  • It’s turkey pie time! It’s a take on shepherd’s pie.  Take 1 cup of gravy, 2-3 cups of bite-size pieces of turkey, and 1 cup of frozen carrots and peas (or if you have leftover veggies from dinner). Mix all together, and pour into a greased baking dish. Then, top with 2-3 cups of leftover mashed potatoes. Cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes. I like to top with 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar cheese about 10 minutes before it’s done, remove the foil, and allow the cheese to melt and get all bubbly.

3-Mashed Potatoes. Don’t ditch the taters, they have lots of life in leftovers! In addition to the turkey pie above, Mashed potato cakes are a good choice, and they are super easy to make!

  • Mashed Potato Cakes start with 2 cups mashed potatoes, 1 egg, 1 cup AP flour, 1/2 c grated or minced onion, salt, and pepper. Mix all of these ingredients together and form into patties. Fry the patties in 1 cup oil (your choice), drain on paper towels prior to serving. If you like cheese, add 1/2 cup cheese of your choice.  These are great for breakfast with eggs.

4- Cranberry Sauce/Jelly. I like topping toasted leftover rolls with it, or putting it on toast. It’s also good on turkey sandwiches. Thirsty Whale has a great cocktail recipe using Cranberry Sauce.

Talk Back: How do you repurpose your holiday leftovers?

 

Two Very Practical Gifts for Busy Families!

I was texting with some relatives yesterday, and they had gone through everyone’s Amazon Wishlists and didn’t like anything on the lists. The wishlist didn’t have anything “Exciting”.

So they asked me what I thought these adults with kids would want for the holidays. First of all, If it’s on someone’s wishlist and it’s not super expensive, just buy it. It doesn’t have to be something exciting. It doesn’t matter if the gift giver likes it or thinks it’s “Exciting”, it’s what the recipient wants.

I’m an adult for Pete’s sake. For me, an exciting gift is a nice new set of sheets for my bed or a box of produce on my doorstep.

If you are looking for a gift that will WOW the adults in your life, here are some suggestions:

Meal Plan/Meal Prep: Seriously. Do you know what’s exciting? Not having the decide what to eat every single day of my life. For those of you who live near Dream Dinners, They have many different gifting options. There are locations all over the US, and many locations will ship if you are too far/busy to visit a location.

Another Meal Prep option is What a Crock. They have locations all across the Mid-Atlantic, and they also ship as well.

What I like about What A Crock is that you choose how many portions of each Entree you want. They also have holiday bundles and even gift cards!

 

If your gift recipients live in San Diego County and meal prep isn’t what you are feeling, produce boxes are it! I love Yasukochi Family Farms CSA boxes. We’ve been getting them for about 2 years, and it’s the perfect gift in my opinion. Locally grown fresh fruits and veggies are delivered to the gift recipient’s door each week. You can contact the farm here and find out more about ordering boxes as gifts!

If you aren’t a San Diego, Ca local and are interested in CSA or farm boxes, my recommendation is that you visit your local farmer’s market and ask some of the farmers if they offer one. I am not a fan of some of the farm boxes that are advertised online, as they are not from local farmers.  As the great-granddaughter of a farmer, I fully support local farms.

 

Talk Back: What’s on your Amazon Wishlist?

11/21/2022 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgOur  Yasukochi Family Farms CSA box is arriving today and I am looking forward to making a big batch of soup! The cold dry weather we’ve been having recently has me in the mood for soup!

This week we’re leaning a lot on what we already had on-hand. My grocery trip for this week is bagels, coffee, cheese, and some garlic (I’m all out!!).

The kids and I are off school/work this week, and we plan on using some of our summer reading program museum passes, visiting the zoo, going to the library, and hanging out with family and friends.

We’ve been trying a lot of new foods lately, thanks to the really great freebies from Social Nature lately too. It’s fun to try new foods.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. They are also into fruit and bagels for breakfast. Lately, the big kid has been digging protein shakes in the morning. This is his favorite kind. 

Lunch: I have a plastic tote in the cupboard full of self-serve snacks. I buy treats and snacks in bulk and fill up snack-sized zip-top bags. The big kid brings his lunch from home every day and the littlest buys her lunch at school about half the time. In California, all public schools provide breakfast and lunch for free.

Dinner: This week is packed as far as appointments, so I’m leaning on stuff that’s easy and tasty. I prepped fruits and veg over the weekend and made up the last Dream Dinner and portioned it into lunch-sized servings.

  • Monday: Butternut Squash Bisque, rolls, roasted veggies

  • Tuesday: Frozen entrees,  Kale Cranberry Salad

  • Wednesday: Nuggets, fruit, crackers, and cheese (the typical Wednesday night dinner)

  • Thursday:  Thanksgiving dinner with family

  • Friday: Takeout night!
  • Saturday: Soup (I have several varieties in the freezer, I’ll defrost one in the morning), garlic bread, salad
  • Sunday:  Leftovers

11/15/2022 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgOur  Yasukochi Family Farms CSA box didn’t arrive yesterday (our main community gate was having functionality issues), so I didn’t meal prep or plan yesterday.

This week we’re leaning a lot on what we already had on-hand. My grocery trip was to pick up bagels and milk.

We’ve been trying a lot of new foods lately, thanks to the really great freebies from Social Nature lately too. It’s fun to try new foods.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. They are also into fruit and bagels for breakfast. Lately, the big kid has been digging protein shakes in the morning. This is his favorite kind. 

Lunch: I have a plastic tote in the cupboard full of self-serve snacks. I buy treats and snacks in bulk and fill up snack-sized zip-top bags. The big kid brings his lunch from home every day and the littlest buys her lunch at school about half the time. In California, all public schools provide breakfast and lunch for free.

Dinner: This week is packed as far as appointments, so I’m leaning on stuff that’s easy and tasty. I prepped fruits and veg over the weekend and made up the last Dream Dinner and portioned it into lunch-sized servings.

  • Monday:  Colonial Chowder, Garlic bread

  • Tuesday: Frozen entrees, roasted veggies, mashed sweet potatoes

  • Wednesday: Nuggets, fruit, crackers, and cheese (the typical Wednesday night dinner)

  • Thursday:  Roasted brussels sprouts, riced cauliflower, bbq chicken breasts

  • Friday: Takeout night!
  • Saturday:  Hearty Veggie Soup 
  • Sunday:  Leftovers

November: 2 Dream Dinner Bundles!

Looking to simplify your meal planning this month? Dream Dinners has your back! This month Dream Dinners has 2 Special Bundle Deals this Month

8 Medium Meals for $199

  • Mini Chicken Pot Pies
  • Sherry Cream Chicken Over Rice
  • Cattleman’s Pie
  • Thanksgiving Burger w/ Rosemary Shoestring Fries
  • Layered Verde Chicken Enchiladas
  • Honey Pecan Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry Applesauce
  • Layered Ravioli Bake
  • Chicken Paella

6 meals for $149 

  • Mini Chicken Pot Pies
  • Sherry Cream Chicken Over Rice
  • Cattleman’s Pie
  • Thanksgiving Burger w/ Rosemary Shoestring Fries
  • Layered Verde Chicken Enchiladas

This offer is not available on-line. To place your order call/text 619-460-6800 or email lamesaca@dreamdinners.com.
*This offer is only available for a limited time. Contact your store by Wednesday, November 16th at 5 pm to place your order. The bundle offer includes 1 of each entree listed. Any changes or substitutions will be subject to the current retail value of the entree.

 

 

Cold Weather Means Soup! Soup Recipe Round-Up

It’s been chilly here the past few days, and that means sweaters and soup!

I love making soup, it’s easy, inexpensive per serving, and there are always leftovers.

Here are a few of my family’s favorite soups:

Veggie Soup 
Chicken Fajitas Soup 
Easy Broccoli Cheese Soup
Potato Cheese Soup
Hearty Veggie Soup
Chicken Tortellini Soup
Veggie Tuscan Soup
Homemade Chicken Soup
Zuppa Tuscana Soup CopyCat Recipe
Chicken Corn Chowder
Roasted Onion and Caramelized Onion Bisque
Butternut Squash Bisque
Beef Stew
Harvest Veggie Ravioli Soup

Dream Dinner October Mini Bundle Offer!

It’s back! Dream Dinners is now offering Smaller Minimum Orders for a limited time*! Beginning this week until October 21 you can order Eight meals for Only $189

The October Dinner Bundle includes:

  • Parmesan Herb Crusted Chicken with Oven Roasted Broccoli
  • Cranberry Buttermilk Chicken with Almond Green Beans
  • Maple Pork Tenderloin with Bountiful Baked Beans
  • Firehouse Three Cheese Pasta with Meatballs
  • Maple Bourbon BBQ Chicken with Bacon
  • Old Fashioned Meatloaf
  • Autumn Chicken Pie
  • Tortellino Al Forno

This offer is not available online. To place your order call/text 619-460-6800 or email lamesaca@dreamdinners.com.

*This offer is only available for a limited time. Contact your store by Friday, October 21st at 9 am to place your order. The bundle offer includes 1 of each entree listed. Any changes or substitutions will be subject to the current retail value of the entree.

 

If you are new to Dream Dinners, check out my amazing giveaway here!