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Weekly Menu

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Woke up to a yard covered in snow and Spring flowers blooming.  Crazy Ohio weather, it is supposed to be near 70 degrees tomorrow.

The crocuses I planted in the Fall are starting to pop up and give our lawn some color.  Not exactly as beautiful as Suzy's, but I'll take it!  Can't wait until the daffodils are blooming!!!

Here is my menu for the week... what are you planning to make?

veggie burrito bowls (didn't get to it last week)
sauteed asparagus with poached egg
grilled caesar salad
pizza pockets
creamy sundried tomato pasta

Veggie Calzone - total time 35 minutes

Do you like ricotta?  There are a lot of people that don't.  Most of them substitute cottage cheese to replace ricotta... that's just not an even switch to me.  Maybe you either like ricotta or you like cottage cheese.  Maybe?

I've been making calzones for years.  My husband and I call them Alley Doughs after consuming more DP Dough calzones than we probably should have in college.  I never thought to put ricotta in them... ever.  But lately I have been limiting the amount of meat I eat (and currently that is no meat) so I've been choosing the veggie calzones at Sarefino's and Little Palace, both of which have ricotta and are molto delizioso (starting to work on my Italian for vacation :))!  I might be bias, because I love ricotta, but I think it makes calzones so much tastier!

This recipe is for one calzone, but one is easily enough for two people.  If you finish a whole calzone by yourself in one sitting, you get a free tshirt and your photo on a wall somewhere in cyberspace.  And a nap.  Because you'll be so full you won't want to do anything else. 

Weekly Menu

Weekends seriously need to be longer!  It is so much harder to fit in fun things on the weekdays without rushing around and stressing out.

We kicked the weekend off with the CBJ trying to secure a spot in the playoffs while welcoming Nash back to NWA... and then the fights started.  Jackets ended up losing and I'm starting to think my husband is just bad luck for them.

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Then we went to the home opener to kick off the Cbus Crew's season.  New management, new coach, new scoreboard, and a few new players... looks like it will be a good season!  Loved the little jab at their old scoreboard with a fiery intro.  :)

Now that the weekend has wound down, it's time to put a menu together (got a late start last week and decided not to post it)...

burrito bowls
peanut butter soup
spinach enchiladas
pizza night
baked tortellinis

What are you planning on making this week?

Creamy Springtime Pasta - total time 20 minutes

Happy first day of Spring!  After a super long winter, man, am I glad it's Spring.  The first flowers are starting to bloom.  We can see hints of green everywhere.  Time to open the windows and let the fresh air and sunshine in!

In honor of Spring starting today, I'm cooking up a quick springtime veggie pasta.  Super quick, creamy, crunchy... perfect for when it's still a little cold outside and you want something comforting but sorta light too.  Asparagus, the poster child of Spring veggies, is the star in this dish.  I used to be afraid to try it... it kind of looks funny and everyone says it makes things smell funny... but now I love it.  And asparagus season is over in a flash, so eat it up while you can!

The other thing about this dish is the toasted garlic panko breadcrumbs.  Man, have I missed out by not toasting these in the past.  This ought to be a requirement in any dish with panko!  And it only takes a few minutes... while your prepping other things... so it adds zero time at all.  Definitely worth it!

Grilled Caesar Salad - total time 15 minutes

I'm not a vegan or even vegetarian, but I have attempted both.  I have great respect for people who strictly follow a veg way of life because I am still constantly amazed with seemingly vegetarian foods not being vegetarian at all!

One time I was buying some packaged fresh mozzarella and noticed the container said 'vegetarian' on it.  That's odd, of course cheese is vegetarian, it isn't meat... that is a pretty hard line definition there.  Then I found out how cheese is made.  It's surprising to me that even though we have plant-based enzymes that can culture cheese the same way as animal-based enzymes, most cheeses are not technically vegetarian.  That's an annoying technicality I usually overlook myself, but if I notice the label says vegetarian, I'm more likely to buy it.

Another thing is gelatin, which is used in so many things that seem vegetarian like jello, fruit snacks, jams/jellies, marshmallows, mints, and more.  With the press around omega-3s over the past decade or so, food manufacturers have been adding fish oil to things like orange juice, breads, and vitamins.  And my most recent discovery (and reason for this rant) is caesar dressing includes anchovies!?  Seriously!?!

Well, the easy solution for me was to swap in buttermilk ranch dressing into my 'caesar' salad instead (I like it better any way).  But that's not all!  Grilling your romaine adds a little crunch and a bit of sweet smokiness.  And then making your own croutons means you're in control of the flavor.  Altogether, this makes one awesome salad that is totally satisfying by itself or as a side.

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes - total time 1.5 hours

Happy St. Patrick's Day Eve!  I know parties started yesterday, maybe even Friday, and everyone is drinking their green beer (well, the true Irish are drinking Guinness... or observing it as a holy day and not drinking).  Whether you really are Irish, or just a wee bit Irish this time of year, here is a cupcake everyone will enjoy!

Originally inspired from Brown Eyed Baker and then slightly tweaked since 2012, people start talking about these cupcakes in January!  Of course, these sweet little cakes are inspired by the drink with Guinness, Baileys, and Jameson (although any whiskey will do), which brings me back to my first St. Patrick's Day of legal drinking age.  Losing my ID on our way to Court Street, buying some Guinness at the BP, and heading back to our apartment to chug car bombs using full 15 ounce cans.  Those were the days...  ;)

Side note: I keep typing carb bomb... my subconscious is trying to be honest with you.  But that's why they are mini cupcakes!

Side side note:  Not all of the alcohol is cooked out of these cupcakes.  There is still a bit of Baileys in each bite.  But you would feel the effects of a sugar high before feeling the least bit tipsy.  Even still, keep these guys an adults only treat.

Okay, back to the cakes.  If you have ever had Guinness cake before, it really boosts the flavor of the chocolate.  And the creme fraiche keeps the cakes nice and moist.  I use ganache in a lot of my cupcake recipes... this recipe might have been the beginning of that habit.  I think it seals the cakes in and keeps them from getting the least bit stale.  And the frosting... I could probably just pipe the frosting right into my mouth and be happy as a clam (a clam that is wired on sugar)!  Altogether, the perfect little cupcake people wait all year for... it's here!

Spinach and Artichoke Panini - total time 15 minutes

I've said it several times and I'll say it again, spinach artichoke dip is my favorite appetizer!  Have you seen the new Miracle Whip commercial?  If you're going to bring the artichoke dip... bring the artichoke dip.  Haha!  Love it!

I don't know that I have ever had mayo in my spin dip though.  I always use cream cheese.  But in the case of this awesome sandwich, I used gouda... mmm... gouda.

Wasn't really sure whether to call this guy a panini or a grilled cheese, they're kind of the same thing.  I use all my grilled cheese tips to make the sandwich, but 'panini' has a classier sound for this fancy grilled cheese sandwich.  If you love spin dip, you have to try this out.  It's super quick and easy.  Perfect for lunch or a quick dinner with a soup or salad!

Weekly Menu

Can't believe it is already time to menu plan again!  And I didn't get to most of what I planned for last week.  Although to my defense it was my husband's birthday dinner out, we had a girls day road trip, and then some wedding planning over lunch with my sister... so we'll be repeating some of last week's menu... oops!

Signs of Spring are starting to show!  Daffodils (my favorite flower) are starting to grow... and they should be unlike when they start to grow in November because of one warm day and I freak out because they won't bloom in the Springtime.  The birds are chirping, the air smells fresh, and the trees are starting to bud.  People are flocking outside after months of cabin fever.  The sun was shining and Snoop was so excited to get out and go for a walk today.  Can't wait until Spring is fully here and we can open all our windows and actually enjoy being outdoors.  :)

Speaking of Spring... Spring fruits and veggies are starting to pop up in grocery stores and in my Green BEAN bins.  That means cold hardy produce like spinach, snow peas, broccoli, asparagus, strawberries, and cauliflower have the best flavor over the next few months.  So be sure to stock up and enjoy these seasonal treats while they're at their best!

broccoli fritatta and hash browns
creamy spring pasta
stuffed shells
Vegetarian Taco Salad
spinach artichoke paninis

Ricotta Fritters - total time 25 minutes

I can't remember what I first saw Jamie Oliver in, but I became a pretty big fan of his after watching Food Revolution where he tried to make an impact on healthier school lunches in America.  I don't think I ever saw an episode of the Naked Chef, which was Jamie's first US cooking show, but I saw several episodes of Jamie at Home.  Love the way he says the word basil... makes me giggle every time.

Now he has a show that airs on CBS every Saturday morning called Jamie's 15-minute meals.  I LOVE this show!  Not only does he make home cooked meals in 15 minutes flat (there is a timer and everything), he shares tons of tips on how to get dinner ready faster and easier (like having a garlic press or the fastest way to cut a bell pepper).  The show is 30 minutes long... that means he cooks two complete dinners that are healthy and made from whole ingredients.  

15 minutes... everyone has 15 minutes to make something delicious to eat.

So do the meals really take only 15 minutes?  Well, it's pretty darn close.  I've made 3-4 of his 15-minute recipes now and it does take me longer than 15 minutes... but not much longer.  Jamie Oliver has a bit more skill in the kitchen than I do or any other home cook.  But I did buy a garlic press because garlic is in just about everything I make.  It probably saves me a good 3 minutes!  (I also bought a nifty parm grater like the ones they have in restaurants and they ask is you would like any fresh cracked pepper or parmesan.  It doesn't really save any time, but I think it is sooo cool!)

I was a little apprehensive about trying these ricotta fritters at first.  Just thought it sounded a little strange.  They are kind of creamy and fluffy at the same time.  If you have had ricotta pancakes, they are kind of the same concept with less flour (and for dinner).  Give 'em a go and you'll be glad you did!  :)

26 Easy and Delicious Vegetarian Recipes

26 easy vegetarian recipes

Happy Mardi Gras!  I'm sure they're having fun in New Orleans, but for the other 99.999% of us, I hope you indulged a bit in the spirit of the day.  For the next seven weeks I'll have nothing but vegetarian meals in my meal planning (thankfully I did not give up sugar so I can still make these sweet cupcakes in a few weeks). 

I know when I started thinking about how meat shouldn't be the star of every meal it was pretty difficult coming from a meat and potatoes mindset.  After a few years, meat started to disappear entirely from my plate and I didn't miss it one bit!  It's all about having variety and tasty options.  So if you're thinking of starting Meatless Mondays or just gradually working in a vegetarian meal or two into your meal plan, here are 26 yummy dishes to get you started!

Manicotti (40 minutes) - tubes of cheese, yes please!
Asparagus Frittata (30 minutes) - perfect for spring brunch or breakfast for dinner
Creamy Sundried Tomato Pasta (30 minutes) - one pan means less mess
Tortellini Soup (30 minutes) - simple warm-me-up meal
Asparagus Ricotta Tart (45 minutes) - savory tart with a light and flaky crust
Baked Potato Soup (45 minutes) - for your "meat and potatoes" types without the meat
Peanut Butter Soup - Thai style (45 minutes) - Thai soup with flavors that surprise you
Baked Ziti (45 minutes) - basic mix together and bake recipe
Spinach Enchiladas (40 minutes) - my favorite enchiladas, hands down
Veggie Sushi (30 minutes) - vegetarians use chopsticks too
Bok Choy Stir Fry (30 minutes) - stir fry with a cashew crunch
Broccoli Alfredo Bake (40 minutes) - if broccoli alfredo and homemade mac and cheese had a baby
Stuffed Shells (1 hour) - classic crowd pleaser
Veggie Stir Fry (25 minutes) - tons of veggies, tons of flavor
Broccoli Cheddar Pot Pies (45 minutes) - ooey, gooey, cheesy broccoli with a pot pie crust, need I say more?
Butternut Mac and Cheese (1 hour) - the butternut squash adds sooo much buttery almost-sweetness
Creamy Asparagus Soup (50 minutes) - paired with a pouched egg and garlic toasts
Eggplant Manicotti (1 hour) - lose the noodles and add more veggie
Vegetarian Taco Salad (20 minutes) - who said taco salads had to be unhealthy?
Baked Ravioli (25 minutes) - quick crisp in the oven and bam!
Fried Arts on a Cake (25 minutes) - carrot slaw on top of fried artichokes on top of a corn fritter
Mini Spinach Quiche (1 hour) - so cute you just want to eat them all up
Roasted Corn and Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons (40 minutes) - grilled cheese croutons? c'mon!
Spin Dip White Pizza (30 minutes) - favorite dip turned pizza
Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps (30 minutes) - don't fear the tofu, it's friendly... and tasty
Zucchini Enchiladas (45 minutes) - is it mexican?  is it italian?  who cares, it delicious!

Weekly Menu

Looks like Storm Titan is going to miss us... barely...  Good thing too, since we were driving home from visiting family today (from the Snow Belt, which ironically got less snow than we did).

Lent starts this week, and like the last couple years, I'm giving up meat/going vegetarian.  It was either that or giving up sugar... and giving up meat is much easier for me!  Darn sweet tooth (there are brownies in the oven right now).  So you'll see a lot of vegetarian meals on the meal plans the next several weeks.  

The first couple weeks are always the hardest coming up with something new and different (even though I always include vegetarian meals every week)... so I'm a little stuck right now and going with some vegetarian staples this week.  

coq au riesling and brussel sprouts
out for sushi on Mardi Gras
broccoli fritatta and hash browns
stuffed shells
veggie pizza and cauliflower gratin

What are you planning to make this week?


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