Meal Plan for May 28- June 3

It has been a busy last few days and frantically thinking about all the things to ever think about as a mom in this day in age is over the top. I find when I am out of town, which I was, it seems to take me a few extra days to unwind and to fall back into some sort of routine. Part of my routine is to have a meal plan for the week, and here it is:

Monday– Favorite Chicken Strips and Greek Salad
Tuesday– Spaghetti and meat sauce
WednesdayHummus, fresh vegetables, farmer’s sausage, and taco chips
Thursday–  15 minute avocado pasta (by oh she glows) and carrot sticks
Friday– The Kids’ favorite breakfast, pancakes
SaturdayPerogies, cabbage, and Farmer’s sausage
Sunday– Mini quiches and salad

It may appear that our family has a thing for farmer’s sausage, and that is because we do. We live close to a Mennonite Butcher and they provide the best sausage I have ever come across.  Though I am not of Mennonite decent, I am of German and Polish, and this kind of thing just goes with the territory.  I hope this helps those in dire need of ideas for meals. I will post the Avocado pasta dish in the next couple of days.  It is pretty great.

Are you there God? It’s me Jamie…

Who would have thought a song that was a theme song for me at 15 would be the theme song for me today, 17 years later? I am not in any sort of trouble, my health is good, as well as my husband’s and children’s.  It’s not my weight, I have 10 pounds left to lose.  What it is, is the inability to remain calm in the storm.  The incompetence to remain steadfast against the forces of fear, lack, and insecurity.  Can I do better?  Can I be better?  Give me the formula and I can do it to the T. I am disciplined in many things, but patient? Not so.  I just want to know that it is going to be ok.  It is having to stand on God’s word and not on mine.  Trusting the impossible to one day become possible.  To see is not really to believe after all, but the opposite. To believe in what I can’t see.  To hold what I can’t touch.  To love what I can’t feel.  Patience is the quality of endurance. To be still.  To be calm.  To breathe.  To be quiet. To listen.
I know I have shortcomings and limitations, but I also have will power and determination. I am determined to not be dragged under the mass inscriptions of lies, deceits, and counterfeits. I refuse to be weighed down by status quo, false belief systems, and injustice. This is just a moment. A second. A blink. A wave. A small inadequate gesture of a lesson to be learned. I am teachable. I am ready. Teach.

Meal Plan for May 21-27

The weekend is approaching and for some that means, “Whoo-hoo, party!!” For others it means, “Meal Planning Time…” As the weekend draws near, I revisit my calendar, sip my tea, close my eyes, and sigh. What are we going to eat next week? So, meal planning, here we go.
Monday- Spaghetti and meatballs (I froze the leftover meatballs from last week)
Tuesday- Chicken Teriyaki Stir fry with Bok Choy, Broccoli, and Brown Rice Medley
Wednesday- Beef Burritos with Red Quinoa and Black Bean Salad
Thursday- Homemade Pizza (with whatever toppings you prefer)
Friday- Breakfast (which the kids are so excited from last week’s first attempt having breakfast for dinner)- Pancakes, Farmer’s Sausage and Hashbrowns
Saturday- BBQ Chicken-rain or shine- with Hearty Potato Kale Salad
Sunday- Roast Chicken, mashed potatoes, and roasted vegetables.

I tend to incorporate a lot of the foods from the nights before into other meals, because I hear my Papa in the back of my head saying, “Waste not, want not…” Even though to this day, it still makes no sense to me at all.  Is he the reason I can’t waste food? Or is it because it upsets me to have to throw it out?  I have always been a burden bearer, but for arugula, or any type of meat, isn’t that a little extreme? I think of all the steps it took for each nutritious bean, apple, yam, lettuce and pepper  to find residence in my home.  Each were nurtured from seed and tended to by strangers and brought in random means into my fridge. I will freeze leftovers if I have to, because I can’t stand the thought of wasting such a thing. Extreme? Maybe. We recycle and reuse in the world, I try to do so in the kitchen.

Black Bean Burritos with Red Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

Black Bean Burritos

From Slice

2 Tbsp Grapeseed oil
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1/2 zucchini, finely diced
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
1/2 yam, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 cups black beans, cooked (19 oz can)
1/2 cup corn, fresh or frozen
14 oz can organic diced tomatoes
1 tsp each:
chili powder, cumin and coriander
4-6 sprouted grain tortillas
fresh cilantro
aged white cheddar, grated
sour cream

How To Play:
In a saute pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, zucchini, red pepper, yam and garlic and saute for 8-10 minutes, or until tender. Add beans, corn, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin and coriander. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer covered for 7-10 minutes, until yams are soft. Place mixture in a tortilla with cilantro, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and guacamole. Wrap up and top with salsa. These burritos freeze well, if there are leftovers.

Note: I add cooked, shredded chicken breast to the bean mixture for extra protein.

Red Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

(inspired by Oh She Glows)

1 cup uncooked Red quinoa
1 (14oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
2 Green Onions, chopped
1 small avocado, chopped into 1 inch pieces

For the dressing:
4-5 tbsp of fresh lime juice (Juice from 2 small limes)
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp Freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin, or more to taste

How To Play:
1. Cook 1 cup Red Quinoa according to package directions.
2. While quinoa is cooking, prepare the chopped vegetables and whisk together the dressing.
3. Allow quinoa to cool after cooking for about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Add the beans and vegetables and toss well.
4. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss well with salt and pepper to taste. Bring salad to room temperature before serving.


Chapter 3

I was moved to see my son go to bed with his new hand-me-down shoes from his real life hero. He has an appreciation for gifts. Whatever it may be, it is a guarantee, he will be sleeping beside it at night. As I watched him sleep, listening to his rhythmic breathing, such a tiny being with a grandiose future, I began to reflect. Have I forgotten what it is like to be able to close my eyes and to enter into a place of absolute mystery? To not think about the struggles, the pressures, the demands, or the plans of tomorrow? To embrace the actual moment of the now. To relinquish fear? Fear of what? Failure? Disappointment? Success? Approval? I used to believe in the Sandman. I was excited to go to bed because the Sandman would be coming shortly to give me a dream. Perhaps it was my fascination of the 1950’s at such a young age. Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, Elvis Presley, and Nancy Sinatra, though she was more 60’s, there was a magic to the 50’s. I remember in my early twenties asking my neighbor Fred what era he liked the most. He said, “The 50’s.” As he said it, he left me alone for a moment in his living room. Though he was there sitting across from me, his eyes told me otherwise. He was there, somewhere in the newly development place of newness and excitement and romanticism of 1950. His mouth gave way to a side grin as he reminisced somewhere in the depths of his core. Then he came back. Looked at his hands holding a mass of broken dreams and images of deceased and elderly printed in time, stamped images frozen on black and white photographs. Reality. “This is not the Fifties anymore, little girl, this is a dark day in age.”
There is something distilling with sleep, with watching one sleep. It is a glimpse of the invulnerable, vulnerable and the disturbed, undisturbed. It is a place for the unrest to rest and an opportunity for the one who won’t dream to dream.

Shepherd’s Pie

We really wanted to begin to start our own family traditions when 1 was born. In our first year of marriage, I had a great amount cutting to do, with apron strings, that is. I wanted to have dinner at my mom and dad’s a good 3 times a week. Looking back on it, eeeeks! Our first Christmas Sean wanted to incorporate a family tradition of his. His mom would faithfully make their family Tourtiere, which is a French Canadian double crusted meat pie with a savory beef, onion and spice filling. He made it just like his mom would have on Christmas Eve. I will admit it was hard for me to go along with not having Turkey. The meat pie was not bad. I ended up eating the filling, because the double pastry was very rich. The meat filling sparked gave me an idea. I was going to use it for Shepherd’s pie. Well, a few years have gone by now, we no longer make Tourtiere, but we do make Shepherd’s pie often, whether it be for a care package type meal, a cozy winter, or chilly fall meal, maybe a “what do we do with leftover mashed potatoes?” or perhaps just a fix to a craving. My sister will hands down say this is her favorite meal. When she lived with us, it was a regular weekly request. Now she is making it on her own. It is again, super cozy, probably because it is partly an eastern Canadian recipe and there is something cozy about the east.

Shepherd’s Pie

Meat Filling-
2 lbs lean ground beef
1 cup water
2 small onions, or 1 large onion
1 Tbsp sea salt
1/4 pepper
1 Tsp nutmeg
dash of mace (I shake a bit more than a dash-maybe 5 dashes)
1/4 Tsp of Cayenne
1/4 Tsp celery salt
4 stalks of celery, chopped, including leaves
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables, or fresh chopped vegetables of choice
Mashed Potatoes-
4-5 medium Yukon yellow flesh potatoes, peeled and cut
3 Tbsp butter
sea salt
1/8 cup Parmesan Cheese
Cheddar Cheese

How To Play:
Cook beef in water until no longer pink. Add onions, spices, celery and vegetables. Simmer for close to 2 hours, or until all the vegetables are soft, for those nights when there is little time for simmering. While the meat filling is cooking, begin to boil potatoes. Once the potatoes are cooked, drain the water out, and add butter to the pot, as well as the sea salt. Mash, Mash, Mash. A key to making a good mash potato, is testing it. See if it is according to your taste, I prefer a bit more salt and cheese to my mashed potatoes, so don’t have exact measurements. Mix in Parmesan cheese. When the meat mixture is completely done, test the taste, see if there needs to be any adding of spices, such as salt or celery salt, then place in an oval 2 1/2 quart baking dish. Spread the mash potatoes evenly over top. My grandmother adds grated cheddar lastly to her Shepherd’s pie, so I do too, because Grandma’s know best. Bake uncovered for about 15-20 minutes until nice and bubbly and the potatoes have turned golden.


Monday’s Dinner

I have been diligently trying to stay within a budget these last couple of weeks and was surprised to see no matter how bare our cupboards were and our fridge was, I was able to succeed.  It is all about making a plan and sticking to it, whether you like it or not.  I was encouraged by my friend who lives with in a tight budget.  When I began to feel the need to cop out, she helped me to stick with it.
For those moms, dads, or perhaps single folk, looking for meals to make for a week, here is a sample of meals we have just finished.
Monday- Spaghetti and Meatballs
Tuesday- Wilted Spinach Salad and side dish
Wednesday- Breakfast- Pancakes, farmers sausage, and hashbrowns
Thursday- Shepherd’s Pie
Friday- Chicken Strips, Greek Salad, and mashed potatoes
Saturday- Beef Teriyaki, Broccoli, Brown Rice Medley
Sunday- Leftovers- Chicken Strips, Greek Tortellini Salad



Our kids love spaghetti and meatballs.  I have never been a big pasta person, but I do like this, just without the noodles.  I remember I used to walk miles to the butcher when 1 was a baby, then walk back home and prepare this.  The memories of it all are fond.  Now, two more children later, I am not walking to that particular butcher anymore, for it would take a lot longer than a long time.  These meatballs are Jamie Oliver’s. They are tasty- cheesey goodness, with a fine hit of basil, which makes them so great!


(From Jamie Oliver)

2 lbs ground meat
2 slices of bread
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 level tablespoons dried oregano
1/2 tsp cumin seed, pounded
1/2 small dried red chilli, pounded
1 level tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 egg yolk
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 jar of favorite tomato sauce
2 handfuls of fresh basil, torn
2 oz mozzarella cheese, broken up
2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated

How To Play:
Use a food processor to turn the slices of bread into bread crumbs.  Add the bread crumbs, dried oregano, cumin, chilli, rosemary and egg yolk to the meat and season with 2 level teaspoons of salt and a good twist of pepper.  Add onion, garlic, and Dijon mustard.  Mix well, and, with wet hands, roll and pat into meatballs the size and shape you want.  Heat a thick-bottomed casserole over high heat, add 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil, swirl around the bottom of the pan and add your meatballs.  Fry them until they are browned all over, being careful not to break them up but just moving them the pan around so that all sides of the meatballs get nicely colored.  Turn heat down and cover with tomato sauce, loads of torn fresh basil and a little mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheese.  Cook in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is golden.  Serve with garlic bread, Caesar salad, and noodles.


Wilted Spinach Salad

Wilted Spinach Salad
with olives, feta, and garlic-balsamic vinaigrette

From Rebar

3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tsp honey
1 1/2 Tsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 Tsp Sea Salt
1/4 Tsp cracked pepper
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (I use grapeseed oil)

1 lb spinach leaves, washed and stemmed
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and julienned
1 red onion, finely julienned
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/4 pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

How To Play:
Thoroughly combine the first seven ingredients in a bowl. Slowly drizzle in oil, whisking all the while. Correct seasoning to taste. Prepare the remaining salad ingredients. Combine spinach, olives, peppers and onions in a large salad bowl. Just before serving, heat dressing over medium heat in a small pot. When it begins to simmer, remove from the heat and drizzle over the salad while tossing with a pair of tongs. Gently mix in the fresh mint and garnish with pine nuts and feta cheese. Serve immediately.
Tastes scrumptious with a fancy baguette spread with either coconut oil or butter!


Carob Clusters

Carob Clusters with Toasted Almonds and Himalayan Pink Sea Salt

1 1/2 cups carob chips, sweetened
1/3 cup almond butter
1/2 cup toasted almonds, chopped (toasted hazelnuts work great, too!)
Himalayan Pink Sea Salt

How To Play:
Melt chips and almond butter together in a double boiler. Add chopped nuts. With a spoon, drop quickly onto a baking sheet covered with wax paper. Sprinkle the sea salt liberally over each cluster. Refrigerate or put in the freezer until they have set, about 10-20 minutes. Makes about 16 medium sized clusters.