Monday, September 30, 2013

Pumpkin Fever - Who Has it Besides Me? :-)

Ahh, it's fall time....  Cooler temperatures, light sweater weather and best of all - PUMPKINS! 

Does anyone else out there LOVE pumpkins like I do?!  I love the versatility of this vegetable that is sweet like a fruit.  I've made three meals with it in the last three days!! 

First I went through the drive-thru on Friday to obtain my first Pumpkin Spiced Latte of the season.  Oh yes I did.  Loved every sip of it too. 

Next I made my pumpkin chili recipe for our dinner on Sunday.  This is actually my daughter Vivian's favorite meal that I make for her. 

Then I made pumpkin custard skillet pancake for breakfast on Monday.  I make these at least twice a month though, year round.  Still it feels even more amazing when I eat them during autumn season. 

Finally, this afternoon I made this pumpkin gingerbread cake.  Oh my gosh... it was heaven in a square pan.  Okay, actually I used a round pan!  Still, soooo  soooo good!! 

Mmmm, mmm, mmmm! 

I found this link for the "Best 50 Pumpkin Paleo Recipes" too!  I'm going to cook or bake with as many as these as I can for the next two months!

What's your favorite way to cook with pumpkin or enjoy it? 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

This Week's Meals and Being Prepared (Sept. 9-14, 2013)

I like being prepared.  Don't you?  ;-)

Okay, so maybe that above picture is a bit much; however, I sure can appreciate the same sentiment when it comes to food and having meals ready when I need them.  

I am still doing great with weekend prep-work for the days coming ahead.  I may not always make the time to share them here on this blog; but for now I'm committed to taking a few minutes to share what I'm doing here to make our family's life easier!  So YAY for me to keep a written record of it (so I can repeat it again several weeks from now) and HOORAY for you if you're reading this and it helps your family too!  

Here's what I did this weekend - I made a double batch of my fake tomato sauce (beet sauce).  This is our replacement for tomatoes which my husband no longer eats.  I made twice the amount; therefore I was able to freeze half of it for later!  I used the beet sauce as a base to make this pizza zucchini recipe and a chicken Parmesan one this week too. 

Because I felt like changing up our snacks and treats, I tried out a new banana bread with a hint of pear and also an upside down berry cake too. 

In addition, I made a different pancake for breakfast too which the girls and I enjoyed.  It was very filling - These chocolate peanut butter pancakes!

So this is the lineup for the next several days:

Breakfast this week - Alternate chocolate-peanut butter pancakes with scrambled eggs or a veggie omelet

Lunches this week - Alternate Leftovers of the following:
Chicken Parmesan over spaghetti squash noodles and spinach
Pizza Zucchini with salad
Jambalaya Stew - which I had in my freezer fron a few months ago, yippee!

Dinners this week - Dirty rice with green beans,
Mexican Meatza with salad
Grilled fish with sweet potato and mixed veggies
Big salads, breakfast quiche or take-out on the other nights

Snacks and treats this week - Banana Bread
Upside down berry cake

Oh joy, it's going to be a great week, at least as far as the food goes!  ;-) 

Have a good one!


One-Dish, Easy Chocolate Peanut Butter Pancakes

I'm calling this breakfast because it's technically pancakes.  But it can be used as a sweet treat or snack item too.  My girls really loved these.  They are flour-less, delicious and packed with good protein and fat for a filling meal.

I spent several minutes on Saturday searching around for a different breakfast idea and came across this recipe from Detoxinista.  I bookmarked it to make a variation of it.  I agree with Detoxinista about baking pancakes instead of flipping them on a grill.  They are easier to make and require less effort. 

I took her idea a step further though and baked mine all in one large skillet instead of doing individual cakes.  I baked it on the stove top for five minutes.  Then I added a few spoons of Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips to the batter before placing it in the oven for another fifteen minutes.  I didn't have to deal with parchment paper like she suggested.  I'm all about trying to simplify ways of cooking and baking to make my life easier!

Try out this delicious recipe.  You'll be glad you did!

One-Dish, Easy Chocolate Peanut Butter Pancakes
Adapted from Detoxinista
(Makes 8 slices or Serves about 4)

olive oil for greasing pan
1/2 cup of peanut butter (or almond butter or other nut butter of your choice - read ingredients carefully so you're getting the most natural form possible) - I used a combination of an organic flavored Earth Balance Coconut Oil Peanut butter and a Chocolate Peanut butter I had on hand! 
1/2 cup of applesauce, no sugar added or unsweetened
2 whole eggs, from free-range chickens
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp Enjoy Life chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Turn on stove stop burner to low heat.

Spray your skillet (about 9-10 inch round in size) with all natural olive oil.  Or lightly brush it if you don't have the spray.  Set aside. 

In a mixing bowl, place your nut butter of choice, applesauce, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla or almond extract and baking soda.  Let your standing mixer whisk it around for about three minutes.  Or whisk by hand until smooth.

Pour into the greased large skillet.  Turn your stove top heat up to medium.  Cook for five minutes.  Add in the 2 Tbsp of Enjoy Life chocolate chips by sprinkling them over the top of the batter.

Then remove from the stove top and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for fifteen minutes.  Be sure you chose an oven safe skillet. 

Carefully remove from the oven with an oven hand mit so you don't burn your skin.  Place on a towel and let it cool for several minutes. 

Slice it like a pancake pizza.  I cut mine into eight pieces.  Enjoy!  No maple syrup is even's sweet and delicious as is! 

Place any extras in a storage container so you can simply reheat in the microwave for several days in a row for busy, school mornings!   That's what our family does - they keep for at least five days in the fridge and makes mommy's life easy  :-)

Mmm, chocolate and peanut butter (or almond butter or cashew butter) - such a great combination! 

Want more pancake ideas? 
Try my one dish pumpkin pancake recipe
OR my banana cinnamon pancakes!

Monday, September 2, 2013

This Week's Meals (Sept. 2-7, 2013)

My first week back in the work force went well.  Being prepared and having those meals ready to just reheat were my lifesavers!  I didn't do quite as much cooking this weekend as I hoped for but I still managed to plan out four lunches for my husband and me this week.  I also made a breakfast for my daughters and pulled out a soup from the freezer.  Not bad for a weekend with my husband and girls all feeling sick and me having to put in four hours at the office on Labor day! 

Why do I do all this?  Why do I slave in the kitchen?  Because being prepared keeps you on the right track and allows you to have the healthy lifestyle you want and need to survive.  Having good food on hand keeps you from making bad choices....  I'm a firm believer in that.  When people are lazy, they become careless and reach for quick fixes like fast food and processed foods.....that's when you get into trouble and cause your body stress, tension or simply become ill because of the crap you are feeding yourself.  Don't do it!  Just spend an hour in the kitchen and help yourself in the long run with better-for-you and your family choices.

Once you get into a preparation and meal planning routine, you can see great results and be a lot less stressed!

Here's how our week is planned out:

Oh wow, I love seeing our fridge stocked up with containers ready to go just like the above!

Our meals -

Breakfast for the girls and me- Alternate Scrambled Eggs with Pumpkin chocolate chip pancake

Lunches for husband and me - Alternate the following:
Meatloaf (with added carrots and spinach inside!) and steamed broccoli,
Basil-onion chicken burgers with green beans,
Sausage and Kale soup - lucky me I had this already in the freezer from the last time I made it! 

Dinners - Leftover meatloaf for two nights
Hot dogs,
Skillet Sausage with Sweet potatoes and spinach
Pepperoni Pizza using this crust recipe
Salads with all dinners listed above
And take-out on Friday night to wind down the work week.

Snacks - Protein, protein, protein!  This week I'm bringing deli meats, my favorites by Applegate farms and some Amish cheese too.  I have it all packed in a bag like this: 

Protein is what fills me up and sustains me until my next meal.  Don't reach for crackers or bread or empty carbs folks!  Grab healthy protein and you'll feel better and have more energy throughout the day!

For more meal planning ideas, check out this post I did awhile back for ideas you can serve in a month!  Enjoy! 

Have a great week!  I know I will since I already have so much less cooking to do or plan!