Meal Planning Monday ~ Meatless Alternatives to Backyard Burgers and Dogs

Today’s post is by Casey Lindberg-Coghill.

Summer is the season of baseball games, beach vacations, and of course, backyard barbecues. Even though sharing a meal with close friends and family on a warm summer evening is something that any of us would enjoy, it can be an incredibly stressful experience for those who have removed meat from their diets.

While most people wouldn’t think twice about tossing a pack of hot dogs or a few hamburgers onto the grill for a quick meal, vegetarians are often left stuffing their faces with baked beans, potato chips, or other unhealthy sides because there simply isn’t anything else available for them to eat.

Vegetarians, there’s no need to starve or stay at home during the dog days of summer. This week’s Meal-Planning Monday consists of cookout-appropriate meals that are big on nutrition and that are easy to whip up on a whim. With just a little bit of forethought, you can indulge in a savory and mouthwatering meal alongside your meat-eating friends at your next summer social gathering.


Sweet Potato Chickpea Burgers

Photo Credit: Jen of Peas and Crayons

If you’re anything like me, there’s no time that you despise frozen meatless patties more than during the summer months. When I first embraced a meatless diet, I would sneak a little frozen soy disc onto the grill and choke it down while my friends munched on flavorful burgers and hot dogs. I don’t mean to show disdain for frozen veggie burgers, but let’s face it: Any meal begins to taste absolutely terrible when you have it three times a week.

If I’m craving a burger or know that they will be served at a summer party, I now whip up a batch of homemade veggie burgers, which are much more satisfying than any store-bought variety I’ve ever sampled. This particular recipe is one of my favorites because of its unique blend of spices and the fact that it packs tons of protein and essential nutrients.

My meat-loving husband actually begs for these on occasion, so you may find that your non-vegetarian friends will love them as much as you do!


Grilled Veggie Banh Mi Sandwiches

 Photo Credit: Kiersten of Oh My Veggies

I tasted my first Banh Mi sandwich when I decided to order one on a whim from a vendor at last year’s Southern Ground Music and Food Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. For those who may be unfamiliar with the concept, a Banh Mi sandwich has Vietnamese origins and typically consists of veggies, tofu, or cold cuts soaked in a vinegar-based marinade and served on a baguette.

While I personally loved the tofu-filled concoction I devoured in Charleston, this vegetarian version is more likely to sound appealing to those who would typically load up their sandwiches with meat, making it a great recipe to share with friends who unexpectedly show up on your doorstep. Because the veggies can be prepared on an outdoor grill, it would also be incredibly easy to serve this dish up as a vegetarian-friendly alternative to burgers or hot dugs at any backyard shindig this summer.


Three-Bean Salad with Quinoa

Photo Credit: Whole Foods Market

 A pile of fresh fruit, a leafy salad, or a handful of chips may be enough to get you through a cookout at a friend’s house, but it will leave you feeling starved and protein-deprived by the time you leave for the evening.

The next time you’re invited to a backyard burger party, bring along this chilled salad. Because it’s filled with protein, whole grains, and delicious veggies, you can enjoy it as a main entrée, while your buddies can enjoy it as a side.

To add even more essential nutrients to the dish, try cooking your quinoa in low-sodium vegetable stock instead of water and toss in any extra veggies you may have on hand!

Grilled Veggie Pizza

Photo Credit: Marie of Proud Italian Cook

 This recipe is the ideal solution when you’re in the mood for a weekend grilling party but you’re also having a hankering for pizza. Perfect for using up veggies from the farmer’s market that you may not have used throughout the week, this fresh summer meal takes only a couple of minutes to cook on your backyard grill.

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 ~ Garden’s Bounty

This week’s blog post is by Christine Luken.

Finally, the tomatoes in our garden have decided to turn red! In less than a week, we went from not enough tomatoes to too many. Of course friends and family are more than happy to take some of my husband’s always-delicious tomatoes off of our hands.

Our zucchini plants are producing like gang-busters, too! I now have to go and check the garden at least every three days for ready-to-pick tomatoes and zucchini. I made the mistake of not checking for a week and found five enormous zucchini – one the size of a bowling pin! Just so you know I’m not exaggerating, here’s a picture of them, below, with a spoon next to them for size reference. As you might have guessed, I’m going to share my favorite tomato and zucchini recipes with you, just in case you also need some creative ways to use up your garden’s bounty.


Chicken Bruschetta ~ My grilled chicken bruschetta (pictured at the top) is delicious and super-easy! Marinade boneless chicken breasts in balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Chop fresh tomatoes and basil and mix in enough dressing to coat. Grill the chicken over medium heat. When you flip the chicken, add the tomato topping. Remove from the grill when chicken is cooked through. Top with feta or shredded Italian blend cheese.

Mushroom “Pizzas” ~ My mushrooms, pictured above with the chicken bruschetta, are awesome! Remove stems, wash, and pat the mushrooms dry. Spread a small amount of pesto on the underside of each mushroom. Top with fresh chopped tomatoes and feta cheese. Cook on the grill over low heat until the topping starts to bubble.

More Ideas ~ There are SO many ways to enjoy your fresh tomatoes! Put slices on ham or turkey sandwiches, BLT’s, hamburgers, or grilled chicken sandwiches. Add chopped tomatoes to omelets, salads, salsa, pasta dishes, appetizers and dips. My favorite appetizer with fresh tomatoes is Kraft’s Warm Italiano Spread.


Garlic Roasted ~ Toss zucchini slices in a bit of olive oil with a few minced cloves of fresh garlic. Roast in the oven at 425 until zucchini starts to turn golden on the edges. Remove from oven and top with a generous sprinkle of cheddar cheese. Yum!

Marinaded & Grilled ~ This recipe is perfect for those super-sized zucchini! Wash and trim off the ends, then slice lengthwise. Marinade the slices for 30 minutes in Italian dressing. Grill over low medium heat 3 to 5 minutes per side to desired doneness.

Bread & Muffins ~ Who doesn’t love a warm slice of fresh baked zucchini bread with a dab of creamy butter? I’ve tried tons of recipes over the years and I’m always looking for the perfect one for zucchini bread. My mom recently made some that was awesome, called Lemon Zucchini Bread. Of course, I’m always tinkering with recipes, so I couldn’t help myself from doing that with this one. I used Domino Light instead of sugar, whole wheat flour instead of white, swapped coconut oil for vegetable oil, and added chopped pecans and mini chocolate chips. One serving comes in under 200 calories with 3 grams each of fiber and protein, which makes it both healthy and delicious! (In fact, I’m enjoying a slice with my coffee as I write this.) My only regret is that I didn’t make two loaves – one to eat now and one for the freezer. My version with nutritional information is below.

More Ideas ~ Your imagination is the limit when it comes to ways to enjoy fresh zucchini! Sometimes I will pick zucchini when they are small and cut them up in sticks to add to a fresh veggie tray. They’re also great sautéed in a bit of butter with onions. I think my husband will like these Fiery Zucchini Fries, which are baked not fried. I also like them as a part of this recipe, Foil Packets on the Grill.

Lemon Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread (Modified from Original Recipe on

• 1 ½ cups of shredded zucchini
• ¼ cup + 2 Tbs. of Domino Light (or ¾ cup of regular sugar)
• 1 egg
• ½ cup of coconut oil
• 1 ½ cups of whole wheat flour
• ½ tsp. salt
• ½ tsp. baking soda
• ¼ tsp. baking powder
• 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
• 2 tsp. lemon zest
• ¼ cup chopped pecans
• ¼ cup mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease an 8×4 inch loaf pan.
2. In a bowl, beat together the zucchini, Domino Light, egg, and oil. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder; stir in the cinnamon and lemon zest. Stir the flour mixture into the zucchini mixture just until blended, adding in the pecans and chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
3. Bake 40-45 minutes in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from heat, and cool about 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 12 servings. Nutritional Info per Serving: Calories – 193; Carbs – 21 grams; Protein – 3 grams; Fiber – 3 grams

Meal Planning Monday ~ I Love Farmers’ Markets!

            This weekend, my husband and I went up to Buffalo, NY for a family wedding.  We made time on Saturday morning to head over to the farmer’s market in North Tonawanda.  My family’s had a booth at this market for over 50 years!  My grandparents had it for many years, and then passed it down to my uncle who sells the best sweet corn in Western New York.  Nick and I had a blast helping my uncle sell corn, peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes.  The best part – we got paid in fresh produce!

            Of course, we also walked around to check out the whole market, almost a hundred vendors with all kinds of gorgeous produce, fresh baked rye bread, polish sausages, and SO much more!  I was in heaven!  Now I am on a quest to find a farmer’s market that is even half as good here in the Greater Cincinnati area.  So, this week I am going to use all of my produce treasures (pictured above) in my meal plan!

            Also, today is my Dad’s birthday, so I just want to give him a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY wish!  Love you, Dad!

 Here’s my Meal Plan for this week:

Monday ~ Hot Ham (or Turkey) and Cheese on Rye with Tomato Soup.  It’s so hard to find good rye bread in the Midwest!  I bought three loaves of rye at the market and brought them home and froze them.

Tuesday ~ Eggplant Parmesan.  See recipe below.

Wednesday ~ FFY – Fend for Yourself!  I am very excited to be attending a blogger dinner with my friend and mentor, Heather Tenney.  You should check out her blog.  It’s pretty awesome!

Thursday ~ Stuffed Green Peppers with fresh melon for dessert.

Friday ~ Oven Fried Chicken with corn on the cob and fried green tomatoes.  I have never made fried green tomatoes, so this will be an adventure!

Saturday ~ Fish Tacos.  I have one lone head of cabbage growing in my garden, so hopefully it will be ready for this recipe!

Sunday ~ Family Dinner at my Dad’s to celebrate his birthday.


EatingWell’s Eggplant Parmesan

We reduced fat by coating the eggplant with egg whites instead of whole eggs and baking, rather than frying, the slices for a lighter version of this classic.

6 serving | Active Time: 25 minutes | Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 2 eggplants, (about 2 pounds total)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, (1 ounce), divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup slivered fresh basil leaves
  • 2 1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup grated part-skim mozzarella cheese, (3 ounces)


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat two baking sheets and an 8-by-11 1/2-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Cut eggplants crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Whisk egg whites and water in a shallow dish until frothy. Combine breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, salt and pepper in another shallow dish. Dip the eggplant slices into the egg-white mixture, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture. (Discard any leftover breadcrumbs and egg white.) Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, turn the eggplant slices over, and bake until crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer.
  3. Stir basil into tomato sauce. Spread about 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange half of the eggplant slices over the sauce, overlapping slightly. Spoon 1 cup of the remaining sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with half of the mozzarella cheese. Add a layer of the remaining eggplant slices and top with the remaining sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, 15 to 20 minutes.


Per serving : 203 Calories; 6 g Fat; 3 g Sat; 2 g Mono; 13 mg Cholesterol; 29 g Carbohydrates; 12 g Protein; 8 g Fiber; 563 mg Sodium; 777 mg Potassium






Meal Planning Monday ~ Garden Fresh

This week’s post is by Leah Kelley.

            Well I did it!  I planted my garden!  I decided to grow lettuce, carrots, basil, cilantro, tomatoes, celery, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, spaghetti squash, cucumbers, green peppers, and squash.  (Yes, that’s it!)  I haven’t had a garden in years due to being pregnant or just having a baby in the late spring/ early summer, so I decided to go all out this year.  I love having a garden for two main reasons.  First, I like knowing exactly where my food is coming from.  Second, my kids helped plant the veggies and they can watch them grow.  There’s nothing better than seeing joy on your children’s faces when they realize they helped to grow something.

I thought for this week’s meal plan I would share with you some garden-fresh recipes.

Chicken Bruschetta ~ There’s nothing better than grilled chicken topped with fresh cherry tomatoes and basil from your garden!

Honey Balsamic Carrots ~ These make a delicious side that the whole family will love!

Caprese Salad ~ Grab some tomatoes off the vine and basil, throw in some mozzarella cheese and top with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar…amazing!

Cucumber and Onion Salad ~ I really wanted to grow onions this year but ran out of room, so maybe next year.

Squash and Onions with Brown Sugar ~ I turned my nose up a little when I first read the recipe but it is really good.

Coleslaw ~ The best coleslaw is made with cabbage fresh picked from the garden!

Salad ~ Fresh lettuce from your garden, topped with tomatoes, cucumbers, and green peppers.  You can’t get any fresher than that!


Cucumber Onion Salad (from Paula Deen)


  • 1 pound cucumbers (about 2 cucumbers), peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a large serving bowl, toss together the cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, onion, parsley, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper, to taste.  Let the salad stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Meal Planning Monday ~ Waste Not!

            A fellow coupon blogger posted a challenge at the end of March – Let’s try to waste as little food as possible in April.  I was shocked to learn that Americans throw away 27% of their food!  I’m ashamed to say that I throw away more food than I would like to admit, so I decided to take the challenge.  First I had to figure out what I was throwing out or wasting on a regular basis and why. 

            Produce and leftovers seemed to be the bulk of the food that I was throwing away.  I realized that I was over-buying certain produce items.  I love spinach salads with cucumbers, feta cheese, and Greek dressing.  Almost every week, I was buying fresh baby spinach and cucumbers for my salads.  So, what’s the problem?  When I would return home from my grocery shopping trip, I would frequently be tossing out half of last week’s salad stuff to make room for the fresh items.  I’m spending $4 – $5 on my spinach and cucumbers, so throwing any of it away is a colossal waste of food and money! 

            Here’s what I decided to do: I would buy my salad stuff every other week and see if I’m eating all of it before it goes bad.  I’m also trying to use any extra spinach in other dishes.  I decided to plant both spinach and cucumbers in my garden this year, so I can pick what I need on a salad-by-salad basis.  Now, when I’m at the grocery store in the produce aisle, I am being more selective about the produce I’m buying.  I’m asking myself, “Are we going to be able to eat all of this before it goes bad?  If not, can I freeze it?”  If I can’t honestly answer “yes” then it doesn’t go in the cart.

            Leftovers were also ending up in the trash.  Why?  Sometimes it’s because my husband and I are tired of eating a particular dish (and it sits in the fridge for too long) and other times it’s because the leftovers are only part of a meal – rice or veggies.  So, here is what I decided to do to decrease our waste of leftovers.   If I even slightly suspect that leftovers aren’t going to be eaten within 24-48 hours, they are going right into the freezer.  I keep a freezer inventory sheet so that I know what freezer meals and side dishes are on hand.

            I haven’t completely eliminated food waste, but I have definitely seen a decrease in the amount of food that’s ending up in the trash can since I’ve started this experiment.  I’ve also noticed an increase in the amount of money in my wallet!  This is one experiment I plan to continue.  Won’t you join me?  Here is my meal plan for this week.


Monday ~ Turkey chili.  This recipe makes a huge batch so leftovers will go into individual containers to be frozen.

Tuesday ~ Black Bean Soup with shredded cheddar cheese and crushed tortilla chips on top.

Wednesday ~  Pasta with chicken sausage and spicy tomato sauce and salad.

Thursday ~ Tomato Basil Soup with grilled ham and cheese sandwiches.  I recently went through my pantry and realized that I had 18 cans of diced tomatoes!  Time to put some of those to good use.  I’ll use 6 of those cans this week between the chili and the tomato basil soup.

Friday ~ Coconut Crusted Tilapia with jasmine rice and veggies.

Saturday ~ Dinner out for me and hubby.

Sunday ~ Beer Chicken in the Crockpot with twice-baked potatoes and garlic roasted asparagus.  Leah’s recipe in last week’s post sounded so good, I have to try it for myself!


Here’s the recipe for the Tomato Basil Soup.


Tomato Basil Soup

1 Tbs of Olive Oil

3 Cloves of Garlic, minced

3 cups of Chicken Broth

¼ tsp. Salt

3 Cans (14.5 oz.) of Diced Tomatoes, undrained

1 Cup of fresh Basil leaves, thinly sliced (or 1 Tbs. of dried basil)

Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Stir in broth, salt, and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.  Stir in basil the last two or three minutes of cooking.  Use an immersion blender to puree to your desired consistency.  (You can also put the diced tomatoes in the blender before adding them to the soup.)




Meal Planning Monday ~ Spring Cleaning

            This week’s blog post is by Leah Kelley.

            The weather has been awesome lately here in the Cincinnati area – 50, even 60, degrees in January and February?  I’ll take it!  I caught a bit of spring fever this past week.  I cleaned out a few closets and organized my stockpile.  It’s a good idea to organize and rotate your stockpile items (especially the food items) every few months just to make sure there’s nothing expired.  If you’re planning on doing some Spring Cleaning in the next few weeks, add this item to your list!  If you happen to find some items that are close to expiring, you can work those into your weekly meal plan.  You can make organizing your stockpile less of a chore by making sure that you put your newly purchased items towards the back of your shelves and moving the older items forward.

            While going through my stockpile, I realized I have enough canned tomatoes to feed a small army!  I thought I’d find a few recipes to try this week to use up my surplus of tomatoes.  Here’s what my meal plan looks like this week. 


Monday ~ Leftover Night.  My husband is driving to St. Louis for the day so he won’t be home for dinner. 

Tuesday ~ Chili and cornbread.  I’ll make an extra batch of chili to freeze for another meal later in the month.

Wednesday ~ Crockpot Chicken Caccitore. I’m trying this recipe again, the first time it didn’t turn out quite right and I’m not sure why.

Thursday ~ Chicken Enchiladas.

Friday ~ Date Night!  My husband and I are trying to go on at least two dates a month. 

Saturday ~ Mexican Lasagna.  I’m excited to try this it looks delicious.  (Recipe below.)

Sunday ~ Broccoli and Cheddar Soup.  I froze some last week so I’m hoping it will be just as good the second time around.


Mexican Lasagna

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 (14 ounce) can peeled and diced tomatoes with juice
  • 10 (6 inch) corn tortillas
  • 1 cup prepared salsa
  • 1/2 cup shredded Colby cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef, and stir in the taco seasoning and tomatoes.  Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with half the tortillas.  Spoon the beef mixture into the dish, then top with the remaining tortillas.  Spread salsa over the tortillas and sprinkle with the cheese.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20 to 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.



Meal Planning Monday – Being a Label Detective

           There’s a coupon myth floating around out there that if you’re a Coupon Queen you’re probably feeding your family a lot of unhealthy processed and packaged foods.  Anyone that knows me will tell you that it is possible for someone to be a Health Nut and a Coupon Queen, because I am definitely both!  (In fact, certain friends tease me about my health-conscience ways, especially my vitamin consumption.)  I want to save money on food with coupons, but not at the expense of my family’s health. 

            I hope you know by now that there are a lot of healthier alternatives out there when it comes to prepackaged foods – brown rice, whole grain cereals and granola bars, organic frozen dinners, etc.  However, there are some things that seem healthy, but once you read the label you may be in for a shock!

            I’m sure you have heard that things like excess sodium, hydrogenated oils, and high fructose corn syrup aren’t good for you.  These food additives can sabotage your efforts to get and stay slim and healthy.  Unfortunately, these cheap additives make you hungry for more, which is why many food manufacturers add them to their products.  I discovered something interesting this week when I was making my famous “Cheap and Easy Chili” for a church potluck dinner (see recipe at the end of this post.) 

            Chili beans and chili-ready tomatoes are key ingredients in my chili.  When they go on sale, I definitely use my coupons and stockpile enough to make several batches of it.  I’m “brand-flexible” on what kind of beans and tomatoes I’ll use because I can save more money that way.  Meaning that I don’t care which brand I use – I just buy whichever one is on sale with coupons.  As I was pulling the cans out of the panty, I noticed that one brand of chili beans (Brooks) had corn syrup on the label, but the other (Bush’s) did not.  The same thing was true for the chili-ready tomatoes.  The Del Monte tomatoes had corn syrup but the Red Gold did not.  I guess I’m not going to get to be as brand-flexible as I’d like.  Cruising through my pantry I also realized that my favorite “healthy” rice, Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice, Brown and Wild rice has almost 700 mgs of sodium per serving!  (Fortunately the plain brown rice has less than 100 mgs.)  I also found out that some of my hubby’s favorite snack foods have hydrogenated oils or corn syrup, or both.  I’ll be searching for some healthier alternatives this week at the grocery store.

            Now, I’m not a nutritionist, but I just want to call attention to the fact that it does benefit us to read labels and understand what we’re putting in our bodies.  Most experts agree that natural ingredients are a healthier choice than man-made ones.  Here at CCQ , we definitely want to save money, but we also want to be healthy and happy.  I challenge you to put on your “label detective” hat this week and really take a good look at what you’re really feeding your family.  Here’s is what’s on my Meal Plan this week:


Monday ~ Beef Stew in the Crockpot. 

Tuesday ~ Turkey Stroganoff with whole wheat egg noodles and peas. 

Wednesday ~ Oven Fried Chicken, potatoes, and mixed veggies. 

Thursday ~ FFY (Fend for Yourself Night).  I’ll be golfing with my Mom so I’ll probably eat a sandwich or Kashi frozen dinner before hitting the links. 

Friday ~ Pasta with Italian Chicken Sausage and salad 

Saturday ~ Chicken and Steak on the grill with corn on the cob.

 Sunday ~ Cheap & Easy Turkey Chili


Cheap & Easy Turkey Chili

1 pound of ground turkey (or lean ground beef) 

1 Tbs of olive oil

3 cans of Red Gold chili ready tomatoes (14 oz.)

1 can of Mild Bush’s chili beans (14 oz.)

2 cans of Hot Bush’s chili beans (14 oz.)

1 Tbs of ground cumin

Red pepper flakes, optional

Shredded cheddar cheese


Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pan.  Brown the ground turkey (or beef) and drain.  Add the beans and tomatoes (undrained) and the cumin.  Bring to a boil, then turn down on low and let it simmer for 20 minutes.  Serve with a shake or two of red pepper flakes and top with the shredded cheddar.  You can easily double the recipe to serve a large crowd.  If you don’t like your chili too spicy, use two cans of mild beans, and one of the hot beans, skipping the red pepper flakes.

Meal Planning Monday ~ Tasty Tomatoes



               I am so excited because the tomatoes in our garden are finally ripening!  We had a very wet, cool spring here in the Cincinnati area, which seems to have delayed my personal tomato crop by several weeks.  My husband first decided to start growing tomatoes two years ago declaring store-bought ones to be tasteless and overpriced, and he was right (but don’t tell him I said so.) 

            Some people think growing tomatoes is hard and time-consuming.  However, in my experience, it’s relatively easy to do.  We planted our tomatoes in our existing flower beds in between hydrangeas and butterfly bushes!  (Now if we can just get the deer to quit eating them before we can…)  Make sure to put tomatoes in a sunny spot in your yard and water them generously.  You’ll be rewarded with a bumper crop of delicious tomatoes that your friends and family will be begging you for any extras.  Here are a few of my favorite ways to eat fresh-grown tomatoes this summer.


Monday ~ Taco Night.  If you haven’t tried ground chicken for tacos, you should!  It’s very tasty and has a lot less fat than ground beef.  I’ll chop up plenty of fresh tomatoes to top off our tacos, along with lettuce and shredded cheddar.


Tuesday ~ Oven Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes and garlic roasted zucchini (also from my garden!)


Wednesday ~ FFY (Fend for Yourself) Night.  I have my final golf lesson for the season tonight.  I will bring a turkey sandwich to work so I have something to eat before I hit the links.  Of course, there will be nice slice or two of tomato on that sandwich!


Thursday ~ FFY (Fend for Yourself) Night.  I’m teaching a Coupon Workshop, which means I’ll have to eat something quick this night.  Maybe there will still be some leftover Oven Fried Chicken…


Friday ~ Grilled Chicken Sausages (I like Johnsonville’s new line of them.)  I will make a few skewers of vegetables, brushed with Italian dressing to put on the grill too.  My favorite grilled veggies: mushrooms, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and onion.


Saturday ~ Lemon Pepper Tilapia boiled Yukon Gold potatoes with fresh parsley and butter, and green beans.  This fish is very easy to make!  Just take thawed tilapia fillets, pat dry, and season with a lemon pepper spice blend, like Mrs. Dash’s.  In a frying pan or skillet, spray some butter flavored cooking spray (or a small amount of butter) and cook each on each side for 3 or 4 minutes.  (Thanks to my friend, Ericka, for this easy dinner idea!)


Sunday ~ Chicken Bruschetta and salad.  This is my favorite recipe with fresh tomatoes and basil!  Enjoy!

Chicken Bruschetta

4 chicken breasts

1 large fresh tomato, chopped and seeded

2 – 3 Tbs of Balsamic salad dressing (plus extra for marinade)

¼ cup of chopped fresh basil

Shredded Italian blend cheese


Marinate the chicken breasts in balsamic dressing 30 – 60 minutes.  Combine the tomato and basil with enough balsamic dressing to coat.  Grill the chicken on one side.  When you flip the chicken to the other side, top the chicken with the tomato and basil mixture.  For last two minutes of grilling, top each chicken breast with shredded cheese.