Merry Meal Planning Monday!

Today’s post is written by Kim Bergeron of Extreme Coupon Professors.

First of all, our family would like to wish you a Merry Christmas, a little early. I hope you’re all enjoying the season, the festivities and more importantly, each other!

Well, we’ve got our Christmas and New Year’s food list and yes, we’re checking it twice. Really, we’ve checked it 9 or 10 times and the kids keep adding to it. I’m not surprised.

I’ve been having fun finding recipes online. One of my favorite resources has been Hannaford’s Holiday Recipes this year. By using some of their recipes and some of my traditional recipes, this is how we are breaking down our menu:

Yes, we have to cover dessert first! Would you think any differently? Everyone chose Chocolate Trifle. You can choose a different trifle if you’re not a chocolate fan, any trifle is so easy to put together. I have a beautiful punch bowl that I use layering chocolate cake, cool whip, chocolate pudding and crushed heath bar toffee. Make the day before for all the flavors of chocolate to mesh together.

I found another recipe for a trifle that I’m going to make for our New Year’s Eve Party. It’s an Egg Nog Trifle, yum. I’ve got the recipe for it HERE. 

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Fudge

Hands down, everyone chose the Reese’s Peanut Butter Fudge. You can find my recipe HERE! Amazing!

Loaded Chocolate Chip, M & M Cookies. We use the traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe from the package and add mini M&Ms to the cookies.

I also make my favorite cookies-I call them Snowball Cookies. Another easy recipe, but the ingredients are a little more on the expensive side. These I really make because I love them and I only have them once a year.

Hannaford Christmas

Main Meal: 

Our main meal is not a sit down meal. It used to be, until one of my babes gave me a due date of December 23rd. So, we planned a pot luck and everyone loved it. Fourteen years later, we’re still doing it the same way. We even switched to paper/plastic plates and plastic cups. So many pretty Christmas choices and clean up is simple! 

Amazing Meatballs: EVERYONE will love these! Cook everything in your crockpot 4-6 hours, mix it up a few times during cooking, and that’s it. They can be eaten as is or offer finger rolls on the side.
1 large bag of frozen meatballs, 40-oz or larger
3 cups of water
4 Tbl corn syrup
4 tsp vinegar
8 Tbl ketchup
2 tsp basil
1 tsp salt
16 gingersnap cookies

Lasagna: I make my lasagna a couple days before which makes my Christmas Day and Christmas Eve much more relaxing, enjoying the family and not slaving over the stove. We make a Caesar Salad to go along with our lasagna and garlic bread is nearby too.

Turkey: Here are a couple other make ahead meals that we enjoy on Christmas Day. I have a few extra turkeys in my freezer from the Thanksgiving sales. I cook the turkey ahead and then make several turkey pot pies. I usually make the turkey and pies the weekend before Christmas and I freeze the pies. I also make a turkey soup and freeze that as well until the day before I need it.

Finger Food*Finger Food*Finger Food: My family loves finger foods and the great thing about this is you can space these out all day. Some of our finger foods are hot wings & lime wings, shrimp cocktail, mini spring rolls and stuffed mushrooms. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it! I found this recipe tonight for stuffed mushrooms and I’m going to give this recipe a go. Check it out HERE for yourself.

We have several people who pop over during the day and evening who typically bring goodies and/or a meal as well. There is always so much extra food.

Do you see a pattern here, though? It really boils down to plan ahead, make some meals ahead and enjoy the day! As the children get older and busier, our family time is so limited. I want to savor every moment, especially over the holidays.

I hope you enjoy some of our family recipes and you have a wonderful Merry Christmas!


Kim Bergeron and family

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 ~ Thanksgiving Countdown

Happy Thanksgiving Dinner countdown is on and it’s time to get those menus planned! Hello, it’s Heather from Real: The Kitchen and Beyond. Every year I anticipate Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a time to gather ’round the table with loved ones and remember how grateful we need to be for all that we have. It’s also a time I agonize over the Thanksgiving Dinner menu. I love planning and making this meal and narrowing down the array of side dishes and desserts isn’t easy.


I am not going to lie, I especially love Thanksgiving dinner tables loaded down with food. Every year as we make way too many dishes, I am reminded afresh of how blessed we are to be able to enjoy a table full of family, love, and food. The two biggest things I have found that help fill that table with less stress and a more frugal budget, is to keep the dishes simple and have everyone bring a favorite dish. This also helps keep the meal easy prep! Here are some of our favorite Thanksgiving dishes that make it to the table every year.


All About the Turkey

What is better than a beautifully roasted turkey with crispy flavorful skin? Here is my favorite roasted turkey recipe and a few prep tips for making that bird the main star.



Bountiful Sides

Amish Mashed Potatoes

Easy Healthy Sweet Potatoes

Gluten Free Sausage Cranberry Stuffing

Easy Lemony Asparagus – roasted with a little olive oil, salt, and the juice of 1/2 lemon squeezed over top

Creamed Corn (I confess, from the can)

My mama’s crescent rolls

Green Bean Casserole ( My favorite way to make it is to dump a 16 ounce bag of frozen green beans in a casserole dish and mix with a batch of homemade mushroom soup, then bake at 350 degrees until bubbly.)

Homemade Cranberry Sauce (see easy recipe below)



Delicious Desserts

Homemade Apple Pie

Cranberry Ginger Crumble Bars

Pumpkin Pie



Homemade Clementine Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce has always been that one dish that can’t be left off the table. From cans of jellied cranberries to this homemade clementine cranberry sauce, the color and flavor has to be on my plate. This clementine cranberry sauce has all the tartness of cranberries with sweetness from the sugar and clementine to mellow it out, yet still have bright flavors. Enjoy!




  • 4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

  • 1 clementine

  • 3/4 cup sugar


  • Zest and juice clementine, keeping both the juice and zest for the sauce.

  • Put cranberries in a wide-bottomed pan ( sauté pan or wide bottomed stockpot works)

  • Mix sugar, zest, and juice into cranberries.

  • Cook over medium heat, slightly chopping up cranberries once they get soft. (Use a hand masher or immersion blender.)

  • Heat until thick and bubbling.

  • Transfer to a bowl and chill before serving.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Makes: Approximately 2 cups



Heather McCurdy writes at Real: The Kitchen and Beyond where the food is (mostly) real and the making’s easy. She believes any one can cook. Just follow the steps, starting at #1. Read, follow, taste, venture out. Don’t be afraid to fail, then try again. Her other hats are homeschooling, editing fiction, ghostwriting, and culinary marketing. Oh, and she believes life is always better with dessert.





October ~ A Month of Meals

This week’s post is by Christine Luken.

Do you meal plan weekly or monthly?  I’ve tried it both ways and have come to the conclusion that it’s less stressful for me to meal plan monthly, since I only have to do it 12 times a year, instead of 52!  On numerous occasions, I’ve had people ask me to share my monthly meal plan so they can get some fresh ideas for their own meal plans.

October is going to be frightfully busy for me!  I start teaching Financial Peace University tomorrow, which is a nine-week class.  I’ve also been doing more financial coaching appointments in the evening lately.  That means plenty of FFY (Fend For Yourself) days on the calendar!  I’ll be batch cooking to stock the freezer with soups, chili, BBQ, and pasta for those busy evenings.  I also plan on baking during the weekends – homemade granola bars, pumpkin bread, zucchini muffins, and plum cake!  Here’s what I’m cooking in October.

Week One


Monday ~ Homemade vegetable soup with grilled cheese sandwiches.  There will be plenty of leftover soup to be frozen.

Tuesday ~ FFY – Financial Peace University.  Hubby will probably reheat white chicken chili for his dinner.

Wednesday ~ Breakfast for dinner: Omelets, hash browns, turkey sausage and fruit

Thursday ~ FFY – Financial Coaching.  Hubby will have to reheat a freezer meal.

Friday  ~ Spaghetti & Meat Sauce with salad.  I’ll make a double batch of the sauce and freeze the leftovers.

Saturday ~ Oven Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes and green beans.  I’ll also bake pumpkin bread sometime over the weekend.

Sunday ~ Using the leftover chicken meat from Saturday, and the chicken stock in the freezer, I’ll be making chicken soup.  Recently, I’ve been omitting the noodles and adding extra veggies, like peas, green beans, and corn.  We’ll round out the meal with crusty rolls and butter.

Week Two


Monday ~ Broiled or grilled chicken breasts with artichokes & tomatoes.

Tuesday ~ FFY – Financial Peace University.  I’ll put beef stew in the crock pot in the morning, so it will be ready when Nick gets home from work.

Wednesday ~ Loaded Nachos.

Thursday ~ Turkey Chili with salads.  Plenty of leftovers for the freezer!

Friday  ~ White Bean, Kale & Carrot Soup with beer bread.  This is a cheap, filling, meatless meal.  Thanks to my sister, Leah, for this recipe!

Saturday ~ I’m going to try my hand at making Chicken & Asparagus with Black Bean Sauce and serve it with brown rice.  It’s a more involved recipe than most of the ones I make on a regular basis, so I’m saving it for the weekend.

Sunday ~ Turkey and gravy with mashed potatoes and a veggie.  I’ll also bake a double batch of granola bars.


White Bean, Kale & Carrot Soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cups chopped raw kale
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans white beans, undrained
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a stock/soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onion; sauté until soft. Stir in broth, carrots, beans, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until carrots are almost tender, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add kale; cover and simmer for another 15 minutes or until kale is done, stirring occasionally.

Week Three


Monday ~ Spinach Stuffed Chicken. My freezer is packed with frozen spinach, so I’m trying to work it into my meals this month.

Tuesday ~ FFY – Financial Peace University.  Freezer meals for everyone!

Wednesday ~ Chicken & Potatoes in the crock pot – easy and delicious!  I’ll strain the juices left in the crock pot and freeze it because it makes awesome stock for chicken soup!

Thursday ~ Out to Eat for Dinner!  A well-deserved night off for me!

Friday  ~ Meatloaf with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, and broccoli.

Saturday ~ Rosemary Lemon Chicken in the crock pot with Parmesan potatoes and a veggie.  Make 5 balls of foil from 1’ x 1’ sheets and set the chicken on top of the foil balls inside the crock pot.  This keeps the skin from getting soggy.  I rub the chicken with olive oil, sprinkle it with rosemary and stuff it with lemon wedges, and cook it breast side down.

Sunday ~ Easy Cheesy Casserole and side salads.  The leftovers from this casserole freeze really well.  I also plan on making zucchini chocolate chip muffins.

Week Four


Monday ~ Spicy Shrimp & Tomatoes.  This can be served over rice or pasta, or with crusty rolls to dip into the tasty juices!

Tuesday ~ FFY – Financial Peace University.  Freezer meals for everyone!

Wednesday ~ Black bean soup with tortilla chips.  Fast, vegetarian, and leftovers freeze well.

Thursday ~ BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with sweet potato fries and a veggie.

Friday  ~ Chicken and mushrooms with white wine sauce over wild rice with garlic roasted cauliflower.

Saturday ~ Salmon and Steak with twice-baked potatoes and salad.

Sunday ~ Grilled Chicken Tenderloins with Hash Brown Casserole and green beans.  I’m also going to bake my favorite cake – Cardamom Plum Cake – just because!




Meal Planning Monday ~ Veggie Spaghetti

This week’s post is by Christine Luken.

As summer gives way to fall, I naturally start thinking about adding heartier dishes to my Meal Plan.  When it’s sweltering hot outside, rarely use the oven and depend on my grill, crockpot, and steamer.  So, as sad as I am about summer’s inevitable departure, I’m looking forward to giving my oven a good workout this fall and winter.  In fact, I’m baking a double-batch of yummy pumpkin bread as we speak!

Pasta is one of my all-time favorite meals, and I have quite a few variations I can choose from for my meal plan.  The only downfall of pasta is all those pesky carbs!  So, I was intrigued when I saw a review for the Super Swizz Spiral Slicer, or as I like to call it the “Veggie Pasta Maker”.

This handy little tool cuts zucchini and other veggies into thin spaghetti-like strips so you can sub them in for your carb-laden noodles.  I decided to try it and do half gluten free pasta and half veggie “noodles” with a nice hearty chicken and mushroom marinara sauce.  It was delicious!  Once you make your noodles, pour hot water over them to cover and let sit for 10 minutes.  Drain and serve like regular spaghetti!

As the weather cools down, I love making hot sandwiches with a nice cup of soup as a filling meal that chases the chill away.  I’m a big fan of the Hungry Girl website for healthy makeovers of my favorite restaurant dishes.  Nick and I both loved these Turkey & Artichoke Panini sandwiches!

I made the recipe even simpler by using the Laughing Cow cheese variety with the garlic and herbs already mixed in it. Nick’s not a fan of pepper and onions, so I used a thin slice of one of our garden fresh tomatoes instead.  Then I melted a little bit of butter and mixed in the rosemary to coat the outside of the sandwich before cooking.  Pair these sandwiches with a cup of soup for a bistro-worthy lunch or quick and easy supper!

For a great snack or as a part of your healthy breakfast, try some Blueberry Chia Pudding.  I found this great little recipe in First For Women magazine.  Take 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, 2 tablespoons of quick oats, and ½ cup of almond (or coconut milk) and combine.  Put in the fridge for ten minutes, and then mix in ¼ cup of fresh blueberries.  Chia seeds are rich in fiber and protein, which means they really fill you up!

The great thing about this recipe is that you can change up your add-ins and make it however you want.  You could add cinnamon, chopped apples, and pecans.  Or raisins, walnuts, and a dash of vanilla extract.  As the weather gets cooler, I’m going to try this as a hot cereal and heat up my almond milk on the stove before combining it with my oatmeal and chia seeds.

Nutritional Info:  Calories – 170; Carbs – 21; Fiber – 9; Protein – 5 grams


What are your favorite cool weather recipes?


Meal Planning Monday ~ Busy, Busy, Busy!

This week’s post is by Christine Luken.

Busy, busy, busy!  I have SO much going lately, it seems like I’ve been buzzing along at a hundred miles an hour.  I would venture to say that many of you are in the same boat, with a hectic schedule and a long To-Do list.  I recently finished an excellent book on Audible by Crystal Paine (Money Saving Mom) called,  “Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life.”  Let me tell you, it could not have come at a better time for me!

I’m working very hard to grow my financial coaching business, so I have been networking like a crazy woman!  I’ve joined a weekly networking group (BNI) and still have another five months of my Referral Institute class left to go.  And somewhere in between all of this networking and relationship building, I actually have to accomplish some work.  Not to mention taking care of housework, grocery shopping, and errands.

As a result, I’ve really slacked off on my couponing and keeping up with my binder.  Several weeks’ worth of coupons would stack up on the kitchen table before I’d finally get around to clipping and filing them in my binder.  One thing that Crystal talks about in her book is deciding what’s really important in your life right now, and focus on those things.  This means that you may need to stop doing certain things or cut back on other activities to make that happen.  At this moment, it is vitally important for me to capitalize on the momentum I’ve generated for my business.  I know that in the long run, these activities are going to bring me thousands of dollars.  Something’s got to give!  So, I’ve decided to scale back on my paper coupons for now.

What do I mean by that?  It means that I’ve temporarily retired my coupon binder and traded it in for a small accordion coupon file, which is the size of a large wallet.  (Look how much smaller it is!!)

Before I go to grocery store, I go online, load up my shopper card with electronic coupons, and search for printable coupons for the items on my list.  Then I pull out the coupons from my file that I KNOW I am going to use and clip it to my list.  I bring the accordion file with me as well.

The first time I did this, it felt really weird not having the coupon binder with me!  I felt strangely naked – and light! –  not having the bulky binder slung over my shoulder walking into the store.  But, I must say, that the system is working well and I don’t feel so stressed out over neglecting my coupon binder maintenance.  I’m only clipping coupons I know that I will use, so I’m spending less time with the scissors.

Am I leaving some dollars on the table by not cutting every single coupon that I might possibly use and religiously scouring the sale ads?  Probably.  But I think having a saner schedule is worth it to me.  So, I hope that you understand and don’t demand that I turn in my Coupon Queen crown!  ;)  Of course, I don’t think that I will ever slack on my Meal Planning activities because they save me so much time and stress.

On that note, here’s my Meal Plan for this busy upcoming week!

Monday ~ Strangely enough, this will be my only weekday that I have extra time to make a more involved meal.  We’re having rosemary lemon roasted Cornish hens with wild rice and asparagus.

Tuesday ~ Turkey slices and gravy with Bob Evan’s mashed potatoes and green beans.

Wednesday ~ Easy Cheesy Casserole with spinach salads.

Thursday ~ FFY – Fend for Yourself!  I have a financial coaching appointment in the evening.

Friday ~ Turkey Polish sausage and pierogies fried in a little butter with onions and broccoli.

Saturday ~ Firecracker Casserole

Sunday ~ Trying something new!   Spinach Artichoke Dip Stuffed Chicken, which sounds really, really good!


Meal Planning Monday ~ Veggies – Fresh, Frozen, or Canned?

           We all know that we should eat our veggies.  However, there’s plenty of debate over the merits of canned, frozen, and freshly picked vegetables.  Personally, I think that each of these methods has their place in every cook’s kitchen.  Let’s explore the pros and cons of each.

            Canned ~ The big plus side of canned vegetables is their long shelf-life.  You can stock up on canned corn, beans, and peas when there’s a good sale.  Chances are, you’ll use them before they expire.  It’s hard to argue with the convenience factor of canned vegetables.  No chopping carrots, peeling tomatoes, or soaking beans, which can be your saving grace on busy week nights.  On a regular basis, I use canned black beans, diced tomatoes, corn, and artichokes.  However, because of the canning process, you’re typically not getting as many nutrients as you would if you had the same vegetable fresh or frozen.  There has definitely been an increase in popularity in home canning, especially of garden-grown veggies.  I think this is great, because there are fewer preservatives when you can your own veggies.

            Frozen ~ These vegetables are typically flash frozen at the peak of ripeness.  This may mean that they have as many nutrients (maybe even more) as fresh veggies.  If you have a decent size freezer, you can stock up on frozen veggies when you find a great deal.  Frozen veggies will typically keep six month to a year.  Just keep in mind that freezing vegetables does not stop breakdown of nutrients, it just slows it WAY down.  There are some veggies that I prefer frozen.  I use frozen spinach in quite a few of my recipes.  It’s cheaper and easier than buying fresh spinach, which I reserve for my salads.  I also buy vegetable medleys and stew veggies in the freezer section.  If a certain vegetable is out of season, buying frozen is a good alternative.

            Fresh ~ Most people would agree that fresh is best!  There is nothing like a fresh tomato in July…  but you usually can’t find a tasty one in February, which makes me sad. :(  Eating fresh vegetables (especially those in-season and locally grown) will give you the best bang for your nutritional buck.  I’m loving the fresh asparagus that is on sale all over town right now!  We’re eating it once or twice a week.  I also recently purchased a large bag of English peas in the pod from my co-op.  They were very tasty in yesterday’s beef stew, but time-consuming to remove from the shell.

        Some veggies are just a pain to prepare fresh!  Nick and I found that out with artichokes.  Let me tell you, they are high-maintenance to boil, pick apart, and eat!  Next time I make my spinach and artichoke dip, I will stick to the ones in a jar or can.  The big downside to fresh veggies is their limited shelf life.  I usually try to restrain myself at the co-op, because if I buy more than we can eat in a week, it will go bad and end up in the trash – which is not a good thing!

            No matter how you like your veggies – fresh, frozen, canned, or a combination of all three – be sure to eat up!  Vegetables are full of fiber and lots of great vitamins and minerals.  Here is my Meal Plan for the week.

Monday ~ Cilantro Lime Shrimp with black bean and corn salad.  I’ll be using canned beans and corn for this recipe.

Tuesday ~ Turkey and gravy in the crockpot served with mashed potatoes and the remainder of my fresh peas from the co-op.  Kroger had Honeysuckle marinated turkey breasts on sale last week, buy-one-get-one-free.  I froze one of them for later.  I’ll toss the turkey breasts in the crock pot with a jar of gravy for an easy meal.

Wednesday ~ Roasted Salmon with sesame garlic roasted asparagus.  I make garlic roasted asparagus quite a bit, but never with sesame seeds, so I’m going to give it a try this week.

Thursday ~ BBQ chicken with parmesan potatoes and cauliflower with cheese.

Friday ~ Breakfast for dinner!  I’m making my broccoli cheddar frittata with hash browns and some fresh fruit.

Saturday ~ Sometimes I make my Spinach & Artichoke dip with two cans of chicken in it and call it a meal!  My hubby LOVES it.

Sunday ~ Foil packets on the grill with chicken, mushrooms, diced tomatoes, onions, and asparagus.


Spinach & Artichoke Dip

  • One 12-ounce jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • One 10-ounce box of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • ½ cup of reduced-fat cream cheese
  • ¾ cup of reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • Pita chips or tortilla chips for dipping


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Make sure that spinach is thoroughly drained of excess water.  (I do this by putting it in a colander and pressing paper towels down on it to remove as much water as possible.)  Mix all ingredients (except chips) until well blended in a bowl.  Spread into a small oven-safe baking dish.  Bake 20 – 25 minutes, or until the top begins to turn golden and bubble.  Serve warm with chips.  (If you are unable to find marinated artichoke hearts, you can use a can of artichokes drained, and add a tablespoon of Italian dressing.)

Meal Planning Monday ~ Five-Star Thanksgiving Leftovers

             Happy Thanksgiving!!  In just a few days, we’ll all be lounging around the house – our bellies stuffed with turkey, watching football, hanging out with our loved ones…  And wondering what we are going to do with all of the Thanksgiving leftovers!  Whenever I cook for family gatherings, I seem to over-estimate the amount of food needed.  My philosophy is that I’d rather have too much food – and leftovers – than not have enough for everyone.

            Have you noticed that when people say the word, “leftovers,” it’s usually in a negative tone of voice?  Not at my house!  I’m a seasoned veteran at creatively re-purposing my leftovers into new culinary creations.  So let’s explore some interesting ways to use up those Thanksgiving leftovers!

  • Turkey ~ Of course you can make turkey sandwiches and turkey noodle soup with your leftover meat, but how about some Zesty Southwest Tacos?  (Recipe below.)  In less than 20 minutes, your family can have a fiesta that’s sure to please!  You could also shred the turkey and toss with BBQ sauce for sandwiches.  I also like to use my turkey meat in place of chicken in my Chicken and Wild Rice soup.  Really, any recipe that calls for shredded chicken can be made with turkey instead.
  • Mashed Potatoes ~ If you use sour cream in your mashed potatoes, they likely won’t freeze very well and no one wants watery mashed potato leftovers!  I found this great blog post with ten creative ways to use up those leftover mashed potatoes, including Shepherd’s pie, mashed potato soup, and salmon croquettes.
  • Pumpkin ~ If you’ve got leftover fresh or canned pumpkin puree, try adding it to baked goods, pancakes, smoothies, or oatmeal with some pumpkin pie spice.  I recently tried this awesome Pumpkin Bread recipe (Thanks Yvonne!), with a few alterations.  I substituted whole wheat flour and evaporated cane juice for the white flour and sugar, and added a scoop of vanilla protein powder for each loaf.  The bread was delicious and super-moist!  I made two loaves and froze one for later use.

Zesty Southwest Tacos  (From First for Women Magazine)

½ cup leftover cranberry sauce

1 small jalapeño pepper, minced

1 lime, zested and juiced

2 Tbs. canola oil

3 cups leftover cooked turkey, shredded

2 tsp. Southwest seasoning blend

12 taco shells, heated

1 ½ cups of shredded lettuce

1 ½ cups shredded red cabbage

1 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro


In a bowl, combine cranberry sauce, jalapeño, 2 tsp. line juice, ¼ tsp. lime zest.  Heat oil in skillet.  Add turkey, seasoning blend, and ¼ cup of water.  Cook 4 minutes or until water evaporates.  Divide turkey mixture among the taco shells.  Top with lettuce, cabbage, cilantro, and cranberry sauce mixture.

            Be sure and tell me if you have an interesting and delicious way to use up your Thanksgiving leftovers!






Meal Planning Monday ~ Thankful for Delicious Side Dishes

Today’s post is by Leah Kelley.

The turkey is the star of Thanksgiving dinner, but let’s not forget the supporting actors – those wonderful side dishes!  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, not only because I get to see my extended family, but also because I love to eat!  I wanted to share a few different ways to spice up your usual turkey day side dishes.

Sweet Potato Casserole ~  I absolutely love this dish!  I’ve always eaten it with marshmallows on top, but when I discovered a recipe that uses pecans and brown sugar instead, I fell in love with the dish even more.  Instead of topping with marshmallows, use this mixture instead: 1 cup light brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1 cup chopped pecans, and 1/3 cup butter, melted.

Green Bean Casserole ~  Instead of using the traditional recipe with canned soup try this grown up, sophisticated version!  It looks delicious and I can’t wait to make it for Thanksgiving!

 Glazed Carrots ~ In my family, we always have carrots on Thanksgiving. My mom steams them then throws a little brown sugar and butter in the bowl and viola! – glazed carrots.  They are super yummy and easy to make.

Mashed Potatoes ~ I know what you’re thinking, “You HAVE to have mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving!”  Instead of the old faithful mashed potatoes why not add a little flavor to them?  Give Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes or Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes a try!

Whatever your family’s food traditions are, have fun with your side dishes this Thanksgiving!





Meal Planning Monday ~ Lazy Days


          As I write this week’s post, I am feeling L-A-Z-Y…  I had a super busy week and honestly, I am just plain tired!  Between my work schedule and even the fun stuff – Girls Night at church, painting class, and a big family gathering – I didn’t get enough rest this past week.  So I have given myself permission to be lazy for a few days!

            So, what does this mean for my meal plan?  Am I just going to throw it out the window and order pizza and Chinese carryout for the next three days?  Of course not!  I have a few freezer meals I can fall back on for times like these – banana chocolate chip pancakes and pumpkin muffins for breakfast, and turkey chili or chicken and wild rice for dinner.  I also have a stash of “Lazy Day Recipes” for meals, appetizers, and desserts that I put in rotation on my meal planning calendar.  I thought I would share some of them with you for your lazy days when you want a nice hot meal or a dessert/ appetizer to take to a party but can only muster up a minor amount of energy.         


~ Turkey & Gravy with Mashed Potatoes.  I buy a package or two of the Oscar Meyer Carving Board turkey (or roast beef) and put in on the stovetop or in the microwave with a can or two of gravy.  Serve over instant mashed potatoes or rice and a veggie on the side.

~ Chicken Fried Rice.  I use leftover cooked chicken breast meat, the frozen brown rice and veggie steamer blends, and some extra frozen broccoli cooked in the microwave.  It’s ready in less than ten minutes.

~ Grilled chicken and steak.  Sometimes I make my husband cook, I mean grill, when I’m feeling lazy.  I’ll take a can of whole white potatoes, put them on a skewer with some veggies, and brush with Italian dressing for Nick to toss on the barbeque with our meat.

~ Grown Up Grilled Cheese.  I will use rye bread or a good hearty wheat bread with a nice slice or two of sharp cheddar cheese, adding some ham for Nick.  I almost always have a few servings of homemade tomato or chicken soup in the freezer that I heat up on the stove to round out my meal.

~ Bean Dip.  This is a great appetizer that everyone loves and is SO lazy.  All you need is one can of refried beans and one cup of salsa.  Mix and heat thoroughly on the stove top or in the microwave.  Top with shredded cheddar cheese and serve with tortilla chips.

~ Warm Italiano Spread.  I found this recipe on and it’s one of my favorites.  It looks and tastes impressive, but is extremely simple to make.  I serve it with the Black Pepper Trisuits.

~ Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake (or cupcakes).  With only a few ingredients and store bought frosting, I’m always a little surprised by the compliments galore I always get for this cake.


Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake (Adapted from “The Cake Doctor” cookbook by Anne Bryne)

1 Box of Chocolate Cake (or Devil’s Food) with Pudding in the Mix

1 can (21 oz.) of Cherry Pie Filling

2 Large Eggs

1 teaspoon of Almond Extract

1 small jar of maraschino cherries

1 Can of Dark Chocolate Frosting


            Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease pan(s) with butter flavored cooking spray.  Place cake mix, cherry pie filling, eggs, and almond extract in a large mixing bowl.  Beat on low for one minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and mix for two minutes more at medium speed.  Pour batter into pan(s) and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.  ** You can make this as a 13 x 9 inch sheet cake, as a two-layer 8-9 inch round cake, or as cupcakes.  Use the cooking times on the cake mix box for the pan you are using.  **

            Once the cake is finished baking and has cooled, frost with the store bought frosting.  If I am making cupcakes, I will place a cherry on top of the frosted tops.  If I am making a layer cake, I cut the cherries in half and place them between the layers before frosting.  I then whip up the frosting in my mixer – which makes it fluffier and increases its volume, ensuring I will have enough frosting for the entire layer cake.  Sit back and enjoy the compliments!