Meal Planning Monday ~ Sinless Decadent Desserts

Today post is by Casey Lindberg-Coghill of Veggie and Glitter.

I’m typically not a strong lover of sweets, but lately I’ve had nothing but dessert on my mind. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cupcake, a cookie, or a slice of pie; if it’s sweet, I’ll gladly devour it in thirty seconds flat.

If you hadn’t guessed already, I’m currently about half way through my first pregnancy, and if the old wives’ tale is correct, then I’m definitely having a girl. It’s hardly scientific, but they say that those who crave sweets are carrying a girl; those who only want salty treats are having a boy.

But that doesn’t mean that this week’s Meal-Planning Monday post is only for those who have babies on the way. I have plenty of friends and relatives who struggle with maintaining a healthy lifestyle and satisfying their overbearing “sweet teeth.” It’s easy for a doctor or fitness guru to tell you to simply skip dessert or substitute fresh fruit for your favorite cake, but it’s only human to want to indulge every now and then. This week’s loaded schedule of recipes is focused solely on desserts that are big on taste and not on calories and fat.

Monday ~ Pumpkin Coffee Cookies 

If you’re anything like me, you find it difficult to get through a particularly manic Monday without lots of caffeine in your bloodstream. To be perfectly honest with you, I need several cups of coffee to get through even those rare stress-free days, so on Mondays, an extra pick-me-up is simply a necessity.

With their density relying on Greek yogurt and pumpkin puree rather than fatty substances like oil or butter, these cookies will satisfy your sweet tooth and your coffee craving without expanding your waistline. So go ahead, pour another cup of joe and indulge in a plateful of cookies without feeling guilty. You deserve it after making it through the dreaded first day of the traditional work week!

Tuesday ~ Fig & Fudge Brownies

Sometimes you just need a chocolate fix, but it seems like there has to be some way to get that fix without feeling terribly guilty afterwards. Put down that calorie-laden boxed brownie mix and allow me to introduce you to a pan of brownies that won’t leave a pit in your stomach after you eat two more rows than you intended on consuming (Admit it: We’ve all done it!).

The reason that brownies are typically so scrumptiously moist is because they’re filled with oils or butters, but these brownies get their stabilization and density from fruit puree instead of from fat. While I concocted these brownies with fig puree, pureed prunes or dates could also serve the same function. And don’t worry if you’re trying to serve these to a family that’s wary of health food; your secret’s safe with us! ;)

Wednesday ~ Not-So-Chunky Monkey Cookies

The combination of bananas and dark chocolate in this recipe is a match made in heaven when it comes to flavor, but these goodies are also righteous when it comes to nutrition. Not only do the bananas add a punch of potassium to your daily diet, ingredients like whole-wheat flour and dates provide more fiber than a serving of bran cereal. And even though dark chocolate could hardly be labeled as a “health food,” it does contain more antioxidants than other types of chocolate, such as white or traditional milk varieties.

Thursday ~ Dark Chocolate Avocado Torte

If you’re anything like my little family, you’re feeling hesitant about a dessert containing something green. However, you’ll thank me later if you choose to give this easy, no-bake recipe a spin.  The addition of sweet ingredients like maple syrup and chocolate chips offsets the distinctive taste of avocado, so you don’t have to worry that it will taste like a bowl of guacamole! The avocado flesh simply adds a creamy, velvety texture that will have you heaping your plate with seconds. Thanks to the lack of animal-based or dairy products, this dessert is also vegan-friendly.

Photo credit:

Friday ~ Double-Chocolate Snack Cake

I first discovered this recipe when I was invited to a dinner party at the last minute and idiotically offered to bring a dessert, even though I had no recipe in mind. With only about an hour to whip something up, I came to the realization that I had no milk or eggs on hand, which it seems like just about every recipe out there needs! Thankfully, I had previously saved this dairy-free chocolate cake on Pinterest and decided to give it a try. It was a huge hit with the entire group of guests; I even had two separate guests beg me for the recipe before the end of the night.

While this recipe does contain sugar and oil, the amounts for which it calls are far less than other recipes for similar-tasting  products. To further lighten the fat and sugar content, just omit the powdered sugar dusting and chocolate chip topping. It’s just as mouth-watering without it!

What’s your favorite “sinless” decadent dessert?

In addition to running her wellness blog Veggies and Glitter, Casey
Lindberg-Coghill is a freelance writer based out of Charlotte, NC. Aside from being
a writer, Casey is also a huge bookworm and fashion enthusiast who has rather
unhealthy obsessions with Justin Timberlake and anything pumpkin-flavored.



Meal Planning Monday ~ Easter Recipe Round Up

This week’s post is by Christine Luken.

Easter is less than a week away!  I love everything about Easter – colored eggs, chocolate bunnies, everyone dressed up in their Sunday best, and of course gathering with family to enjoy Easter brunch or dinner.  This year, I’m hosting my hubby’s family for brunch.  On the menu: breakfast casserole made with eggs, sausage, and shredded hash browns, plus bacon, fruit salad, bread for toasting, and some sort of dessert I haven’t settled on yet. (I’m thinking maybe some of the cute cupcakes below…)  I thought it would be fun to team up with my blogger buddies to bring you some fresh recipe inspiration!  Whether you’re hosting an Easter meal or just showing up at a relative’s house with a dessert to share, I think you’ll find a great new recipe or two to try.

Breakfast Casserole

From Your Strong Tower by Christine Luken

This crowd pleasing egg dish is delicious, and best when assembled the night before.  On Easter morning, just remove it from the fridge and pop it in the oven!

Bunny Basket Key Lime Cake

From The Experimental Homesteader by Sheri Ann Richerson

 You’ll impress adults and kids alike with this Bunny Basket Key Lime Cake! It’s as
tasty as it is adorable!

Chocolate Easter Hen Cupcakes with Yellow Butter Cream Frosting

From Savvy Saving Couple by Amy Desrosiers

 Not only are these cupcakes cute and delicious, but they are gluten-free!

Easter Eggs in the Grass Cupcakes

From Savvy Saving Couple by Amy Desrosiers

 Or maybe these adorable cupcakes are more your style!

Key Lime Cheesecake with Fruity Pebbles

From An Exercise in Frugality by Rose Siders

 If you’re a fan of cheesecake, try this Key Lime version that’s as colorful as a basket of Easter eggs.

What’s on your menu for Easter brunch or dinner?

Meal Planning Monday ~ Grilled Chicken 5 Ways

This week’s post is by Amy Desrosiers of Savvy Saving Couple.

When it comes to meal planning in my home, chicken is a main staple for us. We love the reasonably inexpensive cost, and the fact that it is just so versatile and healthy. Plus, there are literally thousands of ways to prepare chicken which keeps meal time interesting. I love chicken in all ways, shapes, and forms, but I think grilled chicken breast proves to be the healthiest option.

To save my family money on boneless, skinless chicken breasts we wait until they go on sale. Around here, anything under $1.79 per pound is a steal! You can really maximize your money by buying chicken breasts in bulk. A trick that I have been recently doing myself is to buy 4-6 pounds at a time while it is a great price.

I then will bring it home and mass batch grill it for the week. Some of the breasts will go into the fridge, and others will go into the freezer either cubed, or cut into strips. This makes chicken salads, chicken wraps, and chicken soups a breeze. You not only save money by buying in bulk, but you also save hours in the kitchen by batch grilling!  To prepare your previously grilled chicken, you just have to heat it up and voila–an instant meal maker!

Grilled Chicken Topped with Homemade Pico de Gallo and Cheese: I love this recipe because it can be prepared in advance, so it’s perfect for busy days. You can grill the chicken ahead of time and pop it into the oven for 10 minutes and  then  garnish it with some fresh pico de gallo!

Grilled Chicken Ingredients:

  • 1-2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican Blend Cheese *reserved*

Homemade Pico de Gallo recipe:

  • 6 medium sized vine ripened tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup of fresh cilantro-chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onion chopped finely
  • 2 small jalapenos (remove seeds) finely chopped
  • half a lime juiced–1 tablespoon of lime juice
  • pinch of salt & pepper to taste


  • Gut, and finely chop your tomatoes into little cubes; add to a large bowl.
  • Chop cilantro and add it to your bowl.
  • Finely diced your red onion, and de-seeded jalapenos and mix it in with your tomato and cilantro.
  • Squeeze your lime over the top and add your spices.
  • Mix everything thoroughly, and return it to the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours.
  • After your pico de gallo has had time to marinate, season your chicken with the above dry spices, and grill until clear juices run freely from the chicken breasts.
  • Add chicken to a baking sheet and then top with cheese; bake for 8-10 minutes or until cheese has melted.
  • Top with your homemade pico de gallo and enjoy!

Since this week’s meal planning Monday is all about chicken, here are four additional tried and true chicken meals for your family. They are each very easy to prepare and provide a healthy meal option.

Deconstructed Grilled Chicken Fajitas: When my husband and daughter had to start eating gluten free, we started to cook a lot of meals without the carb component. Sure, you can always add a corn tortilla, but these deconstructed chicken fajitas are delicious alone as well!

Grilled Chicken Tenders Wrapped in Bacon: Doesn’t bacon just seem to make everything a bit tastier? We recently tried our hand at wrapping chicken tenders with bacon and the results were delicious; need we say more?

Grilled Chicken Bacon and Goat Cheese Salad: By now we all know that bacon, grilled chicken, and cheese is so good! This low carb trio is not only delicious, but it will keep you feeling fuller longer!

Buffalo Bourbon Chicken Wings: If you are in a mood to splurge and slightly stray from grilled chicken breast, you can go the wing route. Chicken wings, or “wingettes” are usually relatively inexpensive and provide loads of flavor. We recently created a delicious recipe for buffalo bourbon chicken and the results were finger licking good! You could also use the marinade for chicken breasts, and bake or grill them!


Meal Planning Monday ~ Lenten Suppers

This week’s post is by Christine Luken.

We’re in the middle of Lenten season, which means either fish or meatless meals on Fridays until after Easter.  As awesome as the Friday Fish Fries are at local Catholic churches, they’re usually not great for your waistline.  To give you some healthy options and a little variety this Lenten season, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite seafood recipes and meatless dishes.

Cilantro Lime Shrimp ~ I love this recipe because it’s ready in minutes and tastes delicious.  The original recipe calls to pairing it with green beans, which – although healthy – isn’t very filling.  I serve black bean and corn salad with it, which is packed with fiber.  It’s also easy to make: In a bowl, combine a can of black beans (drained and rinsed) with a can of corn (drained).  Stir in 1 to 1 ½ cups of your salsa of choice.  And a few tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro (optional), and refrigerate for at least an hour to chill.  Stir before serving.

Salmon with Parmesan Mayo Topping and Garlic Roasted Asparagus ~ This salmon looks and tastes gourmet, but is shockingly simple to make.  The original recipe includes instructions for making your own mayo for the topping, but I just use a lower-fat olive oil based mayo from the store.  Just mix mayo and parmesan, spread it on the salmon, and sprinkle with paprika.  In 20 minutes, you’ve got a healthy, mouth-water fish dinner.  I’ll take fresh asparagus, toss it with minced garlic and a bit of olive oil, and roast it in a Pyrex baking dish in the oven with the salmon.

Tilapia or Swai Fillets ~ I like Swai fillets myself, but both are inexpensive, tasty, and easy to prepare.  I heat up a little bit of olive oil in a pan, season both sides of the fish with Mrs. Dash’s Lemon Pepper or Fiesta Lime seasoning, and pan fry it.  I’ll serve it with either rice or potatoes and a veggie in the steamer.

Easy, Cheesy Casserole ~ Meal Planning Monday guest blogger, Casey Lindberg-Coghill, did an entire post with meatless meals you’ll want to revisit!  One of my favorites is her Easy, Cheesy Casserole.  It’s filling and delicious, so you won’t even miss the meat.  I typically serve this with a side salad.

Ginger Glazed Mahi Mahi ~ This oriental style fish recipe is great with some jasmine rice and stir fried veggies.  If you don’t have fresh ginger on hand, feel free to substitute ground ginger from your spice rack.

What are your favorite meatless meals for Lent?

Meal Planning Monday ~ Dreaming of Spring

This week’s post is by Bee Mandelberg of Style Island.

Mother Nature seems to be toying with all of us this week, taking us for a roller coaster of a ride as we revel in the spring season for one day, only to be freezing again the next. But just because the outdoors isn’t quite spring ready, doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared indoors.

In spite of the chill still in the air, but inspired by the sunshine, I decided to try my hand at some homemade chicken salad sandwiches. Although they can obviously be eaten anytime, something about the meal made me think of an airy, carefree spring day. Although the warmer season hasn’t hit quite yet, at least we can will it with this lunch.

This is so simple to make, and should last for a few lunches; just keep the leftovers stored in your fridge.


Chicken Salad Sandwiches for a simple spring Lunch

  •  1 lb. skinless chicken breast – already prepared and refrigerated*
  • Mustard
  • Light mayonnaise
  • Walnuts
  • 1 Celery stalk
  • Dried cranberries
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 pinches of salt

Cut up prepared chicken into small pieces and put into a bowl. (* I used the Foreman grill to make mine, but you can prepare it however you prefer).  Add 1 tbsp. mustard, 3 tbsp. light mayonnaise, walnuts, cut up celery, and cranberries. Mix everything together. Chill.  Serve alone or as sandwiches. Enjoy!


Here are some other great recipes for lunch or dinner to ease you through the transition from winter to spring.  I have a feeling we haven’t had the last snowfall of the season yet, even though the first day of Spring is later this week!


Mexican Siesta Soup

Easy Chicken Quesadillas

Chicken Veggie Rice Soup

Cream of Chicken Soup with Ciabatta Bread

Bee Mandelberg is a lifestyle blogger and writer at Style Island.
A New York City native, she adores rifling through her mom’s closet for vintage
clothes, pretending to be Parisian and obsessively watching horror movies. You
can find her carrying a Vogue in one hand, and a cappuccino in the other.



Meal Planning Monday ~ Upcycle Your Leftovers

This week’s post is by Christine Luken.

Most people don’t get excited about eating leftovers for dinner.  “Oh, we’re eating that again?” I’m not the type of person that likes to eat the same thing over and over, so I completely understand!  However, I hate wasting food.  So rather than thinking of leftovers as last night’s recycled dinner, let’s learn how to “Upcycle” our leftovers into something even better!

Upcycling is a term that describes the process of converting waste materials (aka leftovers, for the purposes of our discussion) into new materials or products of better quality (tasty recipes your family will love).  Several years ago, I learned that Americans throw away one-third of the food they buy.  Ever since then, I have been on a quest to waste as little food as possible.  And that means using up my leftovers in creative ways!  My favorite thing to upcycle is roasted chicken (or turkey).  For Valentine’s Day dinner, I made Cornish hens seasoned with lemon, garlic, and rosemary.  They were delicious! Nick and I each ate half of a hen, which meant we had leftover chicken.  I actually get excited about leftover chicken because I have come up with plenty of ways to upcycle it, including:

  • Chicken Noodle Soup.  If you have juice from the chicken left in the bottom of the roasting pan or crock pot, strain and freeze it.  It makes the best broth!  You can’t buy anything that flavorful in a can!  I sauté sliced carrots, celery, and onions in a little butter.  When the onions turn translucent, I add the broth with a bay leaf and some parsley, salt and pepper. Usually, my frozen broth isn’t quite enough, so I’ll add a few cups of water and a couple chicken bouillon cubes.  Bring to a boil and add your noodles.  Add the cooked chicken to the pot the final two minutes of cooking.
  • Greek Chicken Salad.  Just add your cold, cooked chicken to a bed of lettuce, with black olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese, pine nuts, and Greek dressing.  I’ll serve this with warm, crusty wheat rolls and butter.
  • BBQ Chicken Sandwiches.  If you’ve got leftover dark meat chicken, BBQ sandwiches are the way to go!  Shred the dark meat and mix it with enough BBQ sauce to thorough coat the chicken.  I like Weber’s BBQ sauce because it doesn’t have any high fructose corn syrup in it.  I’ll heat it up in a skillet, pop some sweet potato fries in the oven, and make a veggie or salad to go with it.
  • Other ideas.  Chicken salad (mayo, sliced red grapes, chopped pecans); Chicken, Artichoke, and Spinach dip; tacos or taco salad; chicken spaghetti; Chicken & Rice Casserole (This casserole is a great way to upcycle leftover rice.  Make it healthier by using brown rice.)


One of my favorite side dishes to make with roasted chicken is Parmesan Potatoes.  They are super easy and absolutely delicious!  A few weeks ago, I had some of the Parmesan potatoes left over, which is pretty rare.  So a day or two later, I thought I would upcycle them into Twice Baked Potatoes.  I scooped out the insides of the potatoes, leaving the skins intact.  I mashed the potatoes and added plain Greek yogurt, shredded cheddar cheese, and bacon bits.  I didn’t need any seasoning because there was already Parmesan, garlic powder, and parsley on the leftover potatoes.  I filled the potato skins with the mashed mixture and baked them for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.  One taste and my hubby declared that ALL potatoes should be Twice Baked Potatoes from now on!  Now that is leftover upcycling success!  (I’ll be making extra Parmesan Potatoes in the future so we can have the Twice Baked Potatoes more often!)

What’s your favorite way to upcycle leftovers?

Meal Planning Monday ~ Celebrating Mardi Gras

This week’s blog post is by Christy Hoover of A Woman the World Deserves.

I am a true Louisiana girl through and through. My family and I grew up on etoufee, gumbo, and red beans and rice as weeknight dinners – not special occasions. Being married to the military, we don’t always have access to authentic New Orleans style food in our travels. So for Mardi Gras week, although we may not be in New Orleans, we at least get to dine as if we are! I hope you guys enjoy the seafood of this week!

Monday ~ Mardi Gras Shrimp and Grits


  • 1 pound 16/20 shrimp peeled and deveined
  • ¼ cup of red bell pepper
  • ¼ cup of yellow bell pepper
  • ¼ cup of purple onion
  • 1 Tbsp. of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 cup of whipping cream
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp. of butter
  • 1 Tbsp. of flour


  • Heat medium size skillet on medium high heat. Put butter in pan. Once butter is melted, add the flour and stir until it is blended.
  • Add pepper and onions and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the whipping cream and stir until the mixture is creamy. Add the whole milk and stir to loosen up the creamy mixture. Once that is blended, pour in the lemon juice and stir.
  • Add the shrimp and garlic and your favorite Cajun seasoning to taste. Cook for an additional 5 minutes or until the shrimp is pink and done.

Grits: Cook grits as directed on package. What I do differently is half the water with milk. And I add a ½ cup of shredded cheese. It comes out so creamy this way.


Tuesday ~ Chicken Sauce Picante


  • 4 legs and 4 thighs
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup of onion
  • ½ cup of bell pepper
  • 1 cup of carrots (chopped, sliced, or julienned)
  • 1 cup of quartered mushrooms
  • 8 oz. Cajun smoked sausage
  • 2 cans of tomato sauce
  • 1 can of stewed tomatoes


  • Heat stockpot to medium high and add olive oil. Season chicken legs and thighs to taste with your favorite Cajun seasoning.  Add chicken to pot and brown.
  • Once chicken is browned, add the smoked sausage, onion, and bell peppers.
  • Stir until everything is incorporated and add the cans of tomatoes, carrot and mushrooms and simmer for 35 minutes or cook until chicken is tender.

Wednesday ~ Creamy Shrimp and Oyster Pasta


  • 2 Tbsp. of olive oil
  • 1 pound of 16/20 shrimp
  • 10 medium oysters, chopped
  • ½ cup of onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 8 oz., cream cheese
  • 1 jar of Alfredo sauce


  • Cook pasta according to directions on package.
  • Put olive oil into pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook until onion is translucent.
  • Add cream cheese until creamy. Once well incorporated, add the jar of Alfredo to the pot and allow sauce to simmer.
  • In a separate pot, add a tbsp. of olive oil on medium high heat. Add shrimp and oysters and cook until shrimp is pink. Season to taste.
  • Add to the cheese mixture and stir.
  • Mix with cooked pasta.

Thursday ~ Breakfast for Dinner – Eggs Benedict with a Shrimp Hollandaise Sauce


  • 4 English muffins cut in half
  • 8 poached eggs
  • 8 slices of Canadian bacon
  • Hollandaise Sauce


  • Toast English muffins and set aside. Place Canadian bacon on a hot skillet and cook on both sides for 1-2 minutes per side. Set aside.
  • Hollandaise Sauce: Place 2 egg yolks, ¼ teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice in blender and blend on high.  Slowly pour in 2 Tbsp. of melted butter.  Add ¼ tsp. of seasoned salt.
  • Cook ½ pound of 16-20 shrimp in 1 tsp. of olive oil until pink.
  • Assemble Eggs benedict. Place English muffin on plate. Add Canadian bacon, and then place the poached egg. On top of the egg sprinkle the shrimp. Pour 1 tablespoon of hollandaise sauce over the mountain of goodness.

Friday ~ Fried Fish with Shrimp Sauce

Fish Fry:


  • 4 pieces of catfish or tilapia
  • Canola oil
  • Seasoning Salt


  • Heat a heavy pan over medium high heat.  Season fish on meat side with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge fish in fish fry and shake off excess.
  • When pan is good and hot, add Canola oil. As soon as foaming subsides, place fish in pan with the skin side down. Jiggle pan for the first 10 seconds to keep the fish from sticking. Cook until golden crust forms on meat.
  • Carefully turn fish away from you and again jiggle pan for the first few seconds. Cook until skin turns golden brown. Remove to a warm plate.

Shrimp Sauce:


  • 1/2 pound 16/20 shrimp peeled, deveined, and chopped
  • ¼ cup of onion
  • 1 Tbsp. of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 cup of whipping cream
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp. of butter
  • 1 Tbsp. of flour


  • Heat medium size skillet on medium high heat.  Put butter in pan.  Once butter is melted add the flour and stir until it is blended.
  • Add onions and garlic cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the whipping cream and stir until the mixture is creamy.  Add the Whole milk and stir to loosen up the creamy mixture. Once that is blended, pour in the lemon juice and stir.
  • Add the shrimp and garlic and your favorite Cajun seasoning to taste.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes or until the shrimp is pink and done. Pour shrimp sauce on fried fish and serve.


Christy Hoover is a military wife and mother of two who loves sharing her love of cooking and relationship advice with anyone who will listen. You can gather the best tips on life, building strong relationships, and making meatloaf on her website,

 A Woman the World Deserves.



Meal Planning Monday ~ Family Friendly Cooking

This week’s post is by Kimberly Bergeron of Extreme Coupon Professors.

Hi! I’m Kimberly. I’m excited to be a guest here on Christine’s blog chatting with you about some quick, kid and teen friendly, family meals. We have a pretty large family of 5 kids, youngest being 11, oldest being 15 and they are always hungry. I don’t know how it is in your house, but when my kids get home at 2:30 PM from school, their backpacks haven’t even hit the floor and they’re already asking what’s for dinner. Can anyone relate? I used to love making gourmet dinners but I got tired of them picking through the food to pull out bits of peppers, onions, mushrooms, etc. I came to the realization that most of my kids are pretty basic eaters for now and I needed to just go with the flow. That being said, I have one of their favorite recipes for you below. It’s quick, easy and tasty. I hope you enjoy it.


No Fuss Stuffed Shells

I call these No Fuss Stuffed Shells because you won’t have to fuss over making them. They’re very quick and simple to put together on a busy night and they’re great to make ahead or to freeze. These are not your traditional shells with Ricotta Cheese and kids won’t be fussing over bits and pieces of onions in them. Yet, these No Fuss Stuffed Shells are full of flavor and a family favorite!


  • 1lb of ground beef or ground turkey, cooked
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese + 1/4 cup reserved for top of shells
  • 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 T Basil
  • 2 T Onion powder
  • 2 T Garlic powder
  • 1 T Salt
  • 1 T Pepper
  • 1-24 oz. Jar of your favorite pasta sauce
  • 14 Jumbo pasta shells



Preheat oven to 375.

Boil shells according to directions and drain.

Mix meat, cheeses and herbs and 1/2 jar of pasta sauce in mixing bowl.

In a shallow casserole dish, pour the other half of the sauce on the bottom.

Stuff shells with mixture, I use a muffin scoop to fill them. Place shells on top of sauce in casserole dish.

Sprinkle the reserved mozzarella cheese over the shells.

Bake uncovered in oven 25 minutes.

We serve ours with sliced oranges, a diced cuke and tomato salad and, of course, garlic bread!


Another family favorite of ours, believe it or not is Quiche. Again, this isn’t your typical quiche with veggies and just 4 slices of bacon! This is a quiche recipe for you bacon lovers! I put this recipe together so that my family would like quiche and they love this recipe. Quiche is super to have for any meal. When I serve it as breakfast, I offer cantaloupe wedges with it. For lunch or dinner, I’ll make a tossed salad and sometimes some French bread.

If your house is busy on a school mornings like ours is, you’ll appreciate this breakfast recipe. Throw it together the night before and everyone will quickly be running down the stairs for breakfast! It’s a nice change from cold cereal or a breakfast bar on the run!

My next recipe is one that I’ve been making since I was probably 4 years old with my Gram. Anytime I slept over her house, I had the choice of whatever I wanted for dinner. Almost every time, I’d choose her homemade macaroni and cheese and we’d always make it together. Most time we make this as our main meal, but certainly you can use it as a side dish.

You’ll love this next recipe. We love grilling pizza. I live in New Hampshire, where it’s very snowy and freezing all winter. Yet we pull out our grill and throw together dinner in a jiffy when we make these crispy BBQ Grilled Pizzas! It’s a delicious recipe for  anytime of the year.

I’m a wife, mommy and a lover of life enjoying everything from playing board games to cooking to traveling. Finding deals for our family has allowed us to do the fun things in life with enjoyment and less stress. When I find a deal I’ll always share it on my blog, Extreme Coupon Professors. Hop on over to see all the ways to save!


Meal Planning Monday – Easy, Elegant Cooking On A Budget

Today’s post is by Sheri Ann Richerson of The Experimental Homesteader.

Planning your meals ahead of time takes the guess work out of dinner preparation and saves a lot of time. It is frustrating to start to prepare a last minute meal and realize you have to make a trip to the store before you can start dinner. My goal with this Meal Planning Monday that Christine invited me to write is to provide recipes that taste great, are easy to make and encourage you to try your hand at creating a week’s worth of home cooked meals no matter how busy you are.

I have provided seven days’ worth of great recipes that were tested in my own kitchen. They are truly easy to make, delicious and nutritious. Feel free to alter these to suit your family’s tastes and needs.

Monday ~ Essence Of Root Beer Slow Cooker Pork Roast Recipe – the side suggestion is simple roasted carrots and potatoes cooked in an oven with a touch of sea salt, garlic, black pepper and rosemary.  This roast is out of this world. It takes a lot of ingredients to make it but you are going to love it. Double the recipe and invite guests over to show off your cooking skills. I chose the side dish I did because truly the roast is the talking point and I did not want to take away from the incredible flavor of the roast with a side dish that would steal the spotlight.

Tuesday ~ Swerve, Honey And Maple Syrup Pork Roast – side suggestion of baked potato and Baked Maple Bacon Green Beans.  I paired these two dishes up because they both use maple syrup. These green beans are fantastic. In fact, I am constantly asked to make the green beans. I used fresh green beans for the recipe. I have seen ones in packages in the stores that are ready to eat if you don’t want to mess with snipping the ends of the fresh ones.

Wednesday ~ Easy Homemade Lasagna – I created this recipe because I cannot stand onions or mushrooms. If I want to eat lasagna, I have to make it myself – and this recipe tastes great, is easy to make and the leftovers heat up wonderfully in the oven or microwave. I like to pair it with homemade garlic bread and a simple salad. I make my own garlic butter. I use real butter – brought to room temperature, garlic powder and dill weed. I add about a teaspoon of each to about ½ stick of butter, mix well and set the butter aside. By the time the lasagna is done, the flavors in the butter have mingled; I spread it on the bread and toast the bread in the oven.

Thursday ~ Chocolate Cranberry Eye Of Round Roast – side suggestions are corn seasoned with sea salt, butter and black pepper along with Bow Tie Pasta In A Creamy Sage Sauce – The roast is very flavorful – and you do not know the chocolate or cranberries are in there. Make sure you have the ingredients on hand for this recipe. The C-Spice I used was homemade. The cranberry balsamic vinegar I purchased. Be sure to read over the ingredient list and check your supplies before planning this meal so you have everything you need on hand and ready to go.

Friday ~ Raspberry Pork Chops – - side suggestion of Velveeta Shells and Cheese, Spicy Flat Italian Beans – I love Raspberry Pork Chops and intentionally can raspberry vinegar during the peak raspberry season so I have it on hand for this recipe. You can use store bought raspberries. Alter this recipe as necessary but do try it. The flavors mingle well. The Spicy Flat Italian Beans I have not seen locally other than at the farmers market. Green beans may work but I have not tried this personally.

Saturday ~ Spiced Fried Chicken – side suggestions mashed potatoes with gravy and Easy Coleslaw From The Garden – I love fried chicken. I make the seasoned flour up ahead of time and it keeps for quite a while in the refrigerator or freezer. I included the recipe for the side of coleslaw but you can buy the supplies at the store if you prefer. Since I grow a garden, cabbage and carrots are plentiful here. The one thing I would recommend sticking to is the type of salad dressing I suggested. It really is the best I have tried.

Sunday ~ Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

I had never made my own chicken pot pie before I made this one and I have to tell you it was well worth making from scratch. It is now a staple in our home and frankly I don’t want the pre-made kind from the store after tasting my own. I found that I really like a little more thyme in mine than what I used in the recipe.


•1 can chicken breast (10 ounces)

•32 ounces of chicken broth

•1/2 cup matchstick carrots

•1/2 cup sugar snap peas, chopped

•1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

•1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour

•4 Tablespoons butter

•1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt

•1/4 teaspoon pepper

•1/4 teaspoon thyme

•1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

•drop biscuit dough (I made the dough
using Jiffy Baking Mix.)



1. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.

2. Chop up sugar snap peas.

3. Add peas and carrots to the melted butter in the skillet and cook for three to four minutes.

4. Add in the chicken – including the juice.

5. Continue to cook for one to two minutes while using a spatula to break the chicken into smaller chunks.

6. Add the salt, pepper, garlic and thyme. Stir to combine.

7. Sprinkle the flour on top of the chicken mixture. Allow it to sit for one minute to absorb the liquid and then stir to combine it.

8. Add about 1/4 of the chicken broth and stir in into the mixture.

9. Continue cooking until the sauce begins to thicken.

10. Add half the heavy whipping cream, stirring to combine it.

11. Continue cooking the broth until it begins to bubble and thicken.

12. Add half of the remaining chicken broth.

13. Continue cooking over medium heat. Again, you want the broth to thicken.

14. Add the rest of the heavy whipping cream. Continue cooking.

15. Add the remaining chicken broth and cook until the mixture is slightly thick. You don’t want it runny, but you don’t want it too thick either as it will continue to thicken in the oven.

16. While the pot pie mixture is thickening, make your drop biscuit dough. You can use any recipe you like for this. I used a combination of water, milk and Jiffy baking mix.

17. Once the chicken, vegetable and broth mixture is thick enough to suit you, pour it into a baking dish.

18. Drop spoonfuls of the drop biscuit mixture on top of the chicken, vegetable and broth mixture. It will sink – do not worry about this.

19. Place the baking dish into the oven and bake at 400 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes.

20. When you remove it from the oven allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Cut and serve.


Sheri Ann Richerson is a leading pioneer in the self-sufficiency movement. For the past 19 years she has been living, teaching, and promoting organic gardening, natural health and self-sufficiency through all forms of media. Her bestselling books include “The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Year-Round Gardening,” “The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Seed Saving & Starting” and “101 Self-Sufficiency Gardening Tips.”

For more information, please visit her writing website at, her gardening and homesteading website at or subscribe to the Experimental Homesteader podcasts on iTunes.

Meal Planning Monday ~ A Romantic Valentine’s Dinner

This week’s post is by Christine Luken.

Valentine’s Day is this Friday!  Do you and sweetheart have plans for a romantic dinner?  Nick and I try to avoid the crowds, so we usually have a nice Valentine’s dinner at home.  Maybe your family is trying to get out of debt and you don’t have money in the budget for a fancy dinner out.  Either way, read on for tips for creating a romantic dinner for two without breaking the bank!

Set the Mood & the Table ~ If you’ve got children, pack them up and send over to grandma’s house or make other babysitting arrangements.  Make sure your dining area is clean and clutter-free (don’t worry too much about the rest of the house!)  Dress up your table with nice cloth napkins and a tablecloth.  (Don’t have them?  Pick up pretty ones at cheap prices at stores like Home Goods.) Bring out the good dishes, silverware, wine glasses and some unscented candles.  Cue up a romantic playlist on your iPod and you’re ready for dinner!

Dinner ~ An impressive dinner doesn’t have to mean hours in the kitchen!  I’ll be making Cornish Game Hens with Garlic & Rosemary, wild rice, and roasted asparagus.  Not a fan of chicken?  Try Oven Roasted Salmon with Parmesan-Mayo Crust or Mushroom Stuffed London Broil.  Keep your side dishes simple.  And don’t forget the wine!


Wine ~ Wine is a nice touch to your romantic Valentine’s dinner.   If you’re a red wine fan, try Ecco Domani Merlot.  It’s a balanced red that would be a great accompaniment to the salmon or London broil.  For a white wine that’s neither too oaky nor sweet, pick up a bottle of Robert Mondavi’s Lightly Oaked Chardonnay.  Both wines are very reasonably priced, which makes it even better.  Cheers!

Dessert ~ In my opinion, Valentine’s dessert has to be something chocolate!  Chocolate dipped strawberries are an easy and delicious option.  If you’re feeling more ambitious, whip up this Chocolate Rum Cake the day before.  You won’t be sorry!  It’s absolutely decadent – and goes surprisingly well with a glass of red wine.  If you’re pressed for time, just pick up a bag of dark chocolates wrapped in red and pink foil and place them in a pretty dish.

If you are going out for your Valentine’s Day dinner, here are some money-saving tips to keep in mind:

  • If you’ve got a coupon or a Groupon, it’s likely that the restaurant won’t accept it on Valentine’s Day (or other holidays), so consider celebrating a day early or a day late to take advantage of those discounts.  The restaurant will probably be less crowded which means better service for you!
  • Skip the soda and stick to water.  If you’re going to order wine or beer, try the house specials which are always less expensive.  If you plan on drinking several glasses of wine between the two of you, it will be most cost effective to spring for a bottle versus buying by the glass.
  • Split an appetizer, order two salads and split an entrée.  Same goes for dessert!  Restaurant portions are huge, so it’s easy to feed two people for the price of one.  If you have leftovers, take them home!  Last night’s fillet can be steak and eggs in the morning.

What are your Valentine’s Day plans?  Are you eating in or eating out?