Meal Planning Monday ~ Let’s Get Fired Up!



This week’s blog post is by Christine Luken. 

Finally, it’s starting to warm up enough outside here in the Cincinnati area to fire up the grill on a regular basis!  It’s especially nice for me, because my husband is the grill master, so I get some assistance with dinner.  A few weekends ago, Nick and I went grill shopping at Lowe’s.  We’d had our previous grill for almost ten years and it was literally falling apart.  (Of course that didn’t stop the pickers from snatching it at the curb on garbage night eve!)  I really wanted a grill with a side burner, so we bought a medium sized grill with one side burner.

The first attempt to use our new grill was a disaster.  Apparently, because of the construction of today’s grills, it’s virtually impossible to use them if you’ve got high winds going on outside.  No, we weren’t trying to grill during a tornado or anything, but a storm was starting to blow in.  We live on top of high hill, so if it’s windy, we really feel it.  The grill wouldn’t heat up past 250 degrees and the wind kept blowing out the burner flames, so we ended up bringing our meat inside and finishing up on the stovetop.  Nick wanted to load it up in the truck and take it back to the store.

Fortunately, we decided to give the new grill another shot before returning it.  Our second attempt was much more successful.  The grill heated up nicely and cooked our food to perfection.  So far, we’ve made grilled chicken with various marinades, turkey burgers, and Italian sausages on it.  I thought now would be a great time to share some awesome grilling recipes – some old, some new – with you.  And if you have a favorite grilling recipe to share with me, leave the link in the comments below. 

·        Hawaiian Chicken – I didn’t have any fresh ginger, so I used ½ tsp. of powdered ginger from my spice rack.  We used the reserved marinade for dipping the chicken instead of basting.  It was fantastic!

·        Bacon-Wrapped Beef Fillets – These are my hubby’s favorite way to eat steak.  I’ll marinade the fillets in beer for 30 minutes prior to putting them on the grill.

·        Three-Cheese Italian Chicken Sausages – I love these Johnsonville chicken sausages.  They are quick and easy, but much more grown-up than hot dogs.  Sautee some peppers and onions and serve on a whole wheat bun.

·        Favorite Grilling Sides – If we can do our side dishes on the grill, then there’s no need to turn on the stove.  That’s definitely a good thing in the dead heat of summer!  We love mushrooms and they are so easy to make on the grill.  I’ll also buy canned whole potatoes, skewer them, and drizzle a bit of Italian dressing on them before adding them to the grill.  I also love corn on the cob made on the grill.  We soak the corn in the husk for 30 minutes, and then put it on the grill.  The water trapped inside the husks steams the corn and it tastes delicious!

·        Warm Italiano Spread – One of my favorite appetizer dips is made on the grill.  It’s got cream cheese, tomatoes, and pesto – yum!  Serve with hearty crackers, like Triscuit’s Black Pepper and Olive Oil. 

·        Chicken Bruschetta – In July, when our homemade tomatoes start to ripen, it’s time to make my favorite chicken recipe on the grill.  Marinade chicken breasts in balsamic vinaigrette dressing for at least 30 minutes.  In a small bowl, mix chopped tomatoes, fresh basil leaves sliced into thin ribbons and just enough balsamic vinaigrette dressing to coat.  Grill chicken on one side then flip and add the tomato topping.  Sprinkle cheese on top (feta, goat cheese, and shredded mozzarella all are great) during the last minute of cooking.

·        Southwestern Turkey Burgers – These were delicious!  Here’s my version of the recipe, below.


Southwestern Turkey Burgers


·        1 pound of ground turkey

·        3 Tablespoons of Low Fat Olive Oil Mayo

·        1/3 cup of bread crumbs

·        2 Tablespoons of chopped jalapeños (Use fresh and include the seeds if you want them really hot.  I used canned jalapeños.)

·        Thin slices of cheddar cheese, optional.

·        Buns



Combine turkey with mayo, bread crumbs, and jalapenos.  Make into 4 hamburger patties.  Grill over medium heat 5 to 8 minutes per side.  Add cheddar cheese during the last few minutes of cooking.

Meal Planning Monday ~ Party Time!

This week’s post is by Leah Kelley.

            Let’s talk party food this week!  I love this time of year, not only is it warm but there’s also a lot of different parties and get-togethers going on – Cinco de Mayo, Derby parties, graduations, and baby showers to name a few.  Personally, I love a good grill out…  Hot dogs, hamburgers, and potato salad – just the thought makes me hungry!  Most of us have our go-to party food we like to make.  For me, it’s Dill Potato Salad and Buffalo Chicken Dip, because both are easy to make and delicious. I thought I’d share some other ideas for party food.  Here’s what I made this past weekend for a girls’ gathering at my house.

Caprese Kabobs ~ These not only are super easy to make, but also delicious.  Fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, cherry tomatoes, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, skewered on a toothpick. 

Chocolate Fondue ~ Scentsy is coming out with a new fondue line and we were lucky enough to preview it.  We tried the dark chocolate with brownie bites, Rice Krispy treats, and angel food cake pieces for dipping. 

Buffalo Chicken Dip ~ Frank’s Red Hot Sauce has a great recipe for this dip.

Beer Bread with Garlic – Garlic dip and Herb dip ~ This was my first time trying anything from Tastefully Simple and it was great!

Veggie Tray with Peppers, Carrots, and Cucumbers ~ Veggie trays are so simple and great especially on a hot summer day. 

Strawberry Basil Sangria ~ I almost didn’t want to share this with my guests it was so good! 


Strawberry Basil Sangria  (From 


  • ½ lb. of fresh strawberries
  • 1 apple
  • 1 ounce of fresh whole basil leaves
  • 1 bottle of Cline Cellar’s Cool Climate Chardonnay
  • ½ cup organic sugar
  • 1 cup of club soda
  • 1 cup of white grape juice


1. Trim and thinly slice the strawberries.

2. Slice and dice the apple into very small bits.

3. Score the basil leaves with a fork.  (I did this instead of cutting the leaves into strips as I did not want my guests choking on basil while trying to enjoy this drink). Simply just rub the basil leaves gently with a fork in order to release their flavor in the sangria.

4. Layer the fruit, sugar and basil in a large pitcher and let sit for about 10 minutes. This is just to let the sugar absorb the juices from the basil and the fruit. You’ll see it turn a bit red.

5. Add the club soda first and then the remaining liquids.  Stir well and serve.

I used 2 cups of dry champagne instead of the club soda and white grape juice.  You could also use sparkling white grape juice to replace the Chardonnay for a great non-alcoholic treat!