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Weekly Menu

It's the week of Christmas!  While it hasn't felt quite like December here in Ohio, winter officially starts tomorrow... which means it is the darkest day of the year... which also means every day after is lighter and brighter!  :)

snoop in tinsil gingerbread fbcookieswap
This weekend we celebrated Christmas in Canton with my husband's family.  There was a crazy flurry of wrapping paper as all the kids opened their presents... this year was very Star Wars focused.  Good thing the kids are like their dads/uncles.  I think the adults had more fun playing with some of the toys! The night before the Christmas celebration, we ate ate 91 Wood Fired Oven and drank at Canton Brewing Company... we'll certainly revisit both places when we're in Canton!

91 wood fired oven 91 wood fired oven cheryl martin cheryl martin
On the other side of the emotional scale, unfortunately my aunt passed away last week after dealing with cancer for a while.  It is always hard to lose someone so young, but we were able to celebrate her life through a scavenger hunt around Columbus.  If you see the donation plaques around town, feel free to follow the clues to the other seven locations she loved to frequent.

Death always puts things in perspective... reprioritizes your thoughts.  So many things suddenly seem frivolous.  But also makes you stop to think... what if today was my last day... am I living the day like I would want to live my last day?  Instead of watching TV, should I be doing something more fun?  Instead of saying we should do that someday, why can't that someday be sooner rather than later?  Life is short.  Unfortunately not everyone gets to live a long life, but that doesn't mean it can't be a full life.

With that being said, one moment you can take everyday is sitting down at the dinner table over a home cooked meal and having a conversation.  So here is this week's meal plan...

crab cakes and corn on the cob
taco night
stuffed shells and salad
salmon fillet with dill sauce and potatoes
Christmas dinner
butternut mac and cheese

Surprise Chocolate Chip Cookies - total time 1 hour

I heard about the Food Blogger Cookie Swap a couple years ago and was so mad when I missed it last year!  So I got on the reminder list and was probably one of the first to sign up for 2015.  The premise is every blogger donates to Cookies for Kids Cancer then bakes three dozen cookies and sends a dozen to three random bloggers.  It was fun coming home to cookies on our doorstep and connecting with bloggers from around the country!

I sent cookies to: Baking BanditThyme & PassionA Sprinkle of This and That
I received cookies from: Koko LikesBake Love Give, A Mama, Baby, & Shar-pei in the Kitchen

fbcookieswap fbcookieswap

I have been baking these cookies for nearly 15 years now and everyone always loves them!  It's easy to change it up a bit with different types of chocolates in the cookies... I started with Hershey Kisses back in high school because it was a cute shape inside when you bit it in half.  But my favorites have been Reese cups and Dove dark chocolates.  Mmmm...

There are no eggs in these cookies, so when you inevitably taste a little (or a lot) of the dough, it's okay!  There is no baking powder either.  So these are definitely not your normal everyday chocolate chip cookies.  They actually remind me of biscotti.  So while you can certainly go the traditional route of having milk with your cookies, hot cocoa and coffee are also perfect accoutrements.  So bake a batch, make some hot cocoa, and snuggle up by the fireplace and enjoy these tasty cookies with a little candy surprise inside!  :)

Del Monte Chef's Pantry Review

del monte chefs pantry

I first heard about Del Monte's Chef's Pantry Meal Toppers on the radio a few weeks ago.  Another quick dinner solution... but this commercial was a little different... focused on adding vegetables to the dinner plate?!  I was intrigued.  Then Del Monte reached out to see if I wanted to review their product, I wanted to see just how healthy and quick it could be.

There are six or seven flavors, and right now it is only available in Columbus.  Each pack has sauce and three servings of vegetables.  The package says all you need to do is cook some chicken and rice... but really, you could go vegetarian and just make some rice, pasta, or quinoa... so that takes about 10 minutes!

del monte chefs pantry

I tried the pot pie medley packet.  It's been a while since I've had chicken pot pie, but when I opened that packet, even before it was warmed up with the chicken it smelled like the chicken pie I used to wait for an hour to come out of them oven as a kid... definitely some nostalgia there.  

It was really easy to make!  Cook the rice, cook the chicken, then dump the sauce and vegetables into the skillet to let heat up a minute or two and serve.  Ten minutes, done!  It definitely tasted like pot pie... although I'm used to the frozen pot pies... so both kind of have that canned soup taste to them.  I think Del Monte would agree that if you had an hour, fresh veggies, and someone to clean up the mess... you would have something that would taste a bit better.  But recently there have been at least a few nights every week that a ten minute meal is the only way we're going to eat dinner before 9pm.

So, at $3, definitely worth a try to add some vegetables in a super easy way.  You can find Chef's Pantry at Giant Eagle, Kroger, Target, and Walmart, but only in Columbus.  Give them a try and let me know what you think!

del monte chefs pantry del monte chefs pantry
del monte chefs pantry del monte chefs pantry
del monte chefs pantry del monte chefs pantry
del monte chefs pantry del monte chefs pantry
del monte chefs pantry del monte chefs pantry

Weekly Menu

Have you started your holiday shopping yet?  I finally started this weekend... with the clear blue skies, it was a perfect weekend to wander around Easton or the Short North shopping for gifts.  Finally checked out the LL Bean store too... was really hoping for some flannel lined denim (I didn't even know that was a thing until shopping for my nephew!), but no luck this time.

Right now it feels like every retailer is in competition for the money in your wallet.  In the spirit of Advent, I am planning on donating or volunteering every week... starting with donating toys to a few kids through work.  Not sure what's next, but I'm sure the Mid-Ohio Food Bank could do a lot with a little extra money in their budget.  I think this might have to be a new tradition...

easton sparkles Untitled sausage frittata el vaquero columbus fbcookieswap summer color in winter mls cup mls cup

To close out the weekend, we watched a difficult Crew loss.  So close... the cup was here...  It's been an exciting season and there is a lot for the team to be proud about.  

Alright... on to meal planning for the week...

creamy dijon chicken and broccoli
tuna melts
monkfish with lemon butter, mashed potatoes, and green beans

I discovered monkfish while wandering Whole Foods on Saturday... I don't think I have ever had it before, let alone cooked it.  We'll see how this goes...

Weekly Menu

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Good food, good people, good conversation.  Then on to Black Friday (maybe you opted outside instead?) and Small Business Saturday to get your Christmas shopping started.  Then maybe some decorating and cookie baking?  

thanksgiving dog show butternut mac and cheese the great food blogger cookie swap pattycake cookies laughlin's bakery all the crossiants small business saturday temperance row 

Looking forward to having a normal week of meals this week.  No soups because I'm finally over that darn cold (except for a little lingering cough) and no big meals focused around a giant bird.  We can focus on cooking up some of our favorites this week.  Here's my plan...

pizza night
lamb sliders
broccoli frittata and hash browns

What are you planning to make?

Weekly Menu

What an awful time of year to get sick! I have that darn cold that seems to be going around and it is quite a doozy of a cold. Hopefully my appetite returns for the biggest food day of the year! 

Speaking of Thanksgiving, you may be on the hunt for some last minute sides recipes. If I can be of some assistance (while coughing my head off), here are a couple crowd pleasers...

crispy roast potatoes - for if you're trying to avoid the mashed potato route
butternut leek soup - serving a first course at Thanksgiving, now that's fancy
brussel sprout gratin - so many brussel haters out there, this will surely convert them
stuffing muffins - two sides in one!  stuffing and the bread basket
butternut mac and cheese - because who can resist mac and cheese??

On this day that is centered around food (and thanks, of course) that home cooks and food lovers look forward to for weeks, I hope everything turns out delicious and your Thanksgiving is filled with good people and fun memories!

As far as meal planning for the rest of the week...  Well my meal plan is the same as last week's due to this annoying cold and some late nights at work which resulted in lots of soup and a quick BIBIBOP run.  What are you planning to make this week?

sausage stuffed acorn squash and broccoli
pizza night
butternut mac and cheese and salad
spaghetti squash and meatballs

Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash - total time 40 minutes

The fun thing about eating more seasonally (besides eating foods when they're in their absolute prime and tastiness) is that you have something to look forward to every season which keeps your meal plans fresh too.  Now that we're halfway into fall, I have a counter full of squash begging to be roasted!  There are so many to choose from, they come in all shapes and flavors.  You might already have a few butternut recipes, but here's a new acorn squash recipe to add to your fall meal planning arsenal.

This is the perfect comfort food when the temperatures start to dip.  Sausage has that smokey flavor that pairs just right with acorn squash.  The addition of sage just completes the fall flavors.  Baking the sausage in the squash is super cute presentation that is great for a dinner party or a fancy Thanksgiving.  It's also pretty easy!  :)

Weekly Menu

It's been a tough weekend on the soul, hearing about the details that happened in Paris and Beirut.  Innocent people in everyday circumstances... eating at restaurants, enjoying a concert, watching a sporting event... it's hard to process or understand the hate.  How do you respond without fear or more hatred, but in a way that is strong and prevents future attacks?  Maybe it is to resume everyday life, but in a different, more cautious way... not really sure.

So this weekend was spent with close friends and family over good meals, coffee, cookies, and zoo lights.

wedding flowers cookie time 
kraft house no5 kraft house no5 
columbus zoo lights columbus zoo lights 

This week's meal plan is a short list because the Thanksgiving festivities start this Friday.  Here's my plan, what's yours?

sausage stuffed acorn squash and brussel sprouts
pizza night
butternut mac and cheese and salad
spaghetti squash and meatballs

Weekly Menu

Back from a weekend in Cleveland celebrating my cousin's wedding!  We went up a day early to meander around town a bit since it has change a little since the last time I spent much time there staying at my aunt's house during the summer when my sister and I were in elementary school.  This time we went and checked out some breweries; Nano Brew, Platform Beer Co., and Fat Head's Brewery.  We also met up with some friend at Jack Flaps in Ohio City, where the menu says their pancakes are sweet and they are certainly not kidding about that, they're pretty much dessert!

Cleveland is such an interesting city.  I would loved to have seen it in its prime!  Now it has several areas that are thriving again with breweries and restaurants opening all of the time... but you still have those areas of abandon warehouses and run down neighborhoods reminding us that the rust belt struggle is real.  

nano brew cleveland city reflections 
platform brewery cleveland great lakes brewing 
fat heads brewery cleveland fat heads brewery cleveland 
jack flaps cleveland jack flaps cleveland 

Now that we're back in the Cbus and it's the start of another week, time for the meal plan...

sticky drumsticks and irish nachos
sloppy joes and steamed broccoli
crab legs with garlic mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts
shrimp tacos
chicken parm with caesar salad

What are you planning to make?


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