Category Archives: Meal Planning

Dinner: A Playbook

In a crazy moment of complete how-did-that-happen, I was chosen to review new recipes to help promote the upcoming release of Jenny Rosenstrach’s new cookbook – Dinner: A Playbook.  I’ve been a happy blog reader of Dinner: A Love Story for years, and was thrilled to participate in the recipe challenge last week.

The instructions were pretty basic – we were asked to try 3 new recipes from Dinner: A Playbook (out in August – pre-order here), and share stories and results on social media.  So here we are!


If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll know that I served cheddar brats from a local grocery butcher and TJ’s chicken sausages alongside a Feeling Brave kale slaw (with bonus dried cranberries) to some lunch guests.  I say feeling brave, because I never know what to do with kale, you guys.  I know it’s ridiculously trendy, and I don’t mind eating it, but buying it is a little intimidating.  I was pretty excited to find a kale/spinach/chard blend at HyVee, and I just chopped it up to make the slaw – easy peasy.  The tangy dressing on the greens was the perfect accompaniment to the grilled sausages.


I love the bright flavors (and colors!) of summer vegetables, and radishes are some of my favorites.  This salad brought together spicy radishes and sweet sugar snap peas with a few surprising ingredients for a fresh combination so good that I might have made it 3 days in a row for lunch.  Chad doesn’t like radishes (silly boy), but that just meant there was more for me.  Win.


God bless the slider for popularizing the meatball that refused to ball.  I did pan-fry these chicken parm meatballs instead of baking them (it’s too hot for an oven, y’all), but they would just not stay round.  So, meat-flats they were.  And boy, were they tasty.  Raw ground chicken is admittedly kind of strange, but the finished product was simple and delicious – one that I’ll keep in our regular rotation.

So there you have it.  New recipes and a fun challenge.  Check out more photos and stories on Twitter and Instagam with #DinnerPlaybook.

Disclaimer: I received an advance copy of Jenny’s new cookbook and a $50 Target gift card to pay for groceries, but was not otherwise compensated for my review.  As you know, I love Target and food, and all thoughts here are my own.

Hamburger costs how much?

Seriously, I am over the price of ground beef.  Just had to get that out there.

Meals we’ve eaten:  Bang bang shrimp, chicken & wild rice casserole, baked fish, and mozzarella sticks.  That last one was just me, when Chad was traveling for work.

Meals I still have groceries for:  Tater tot casserole (my last pound of ground beef in the freezer!), Indian butter chicken, Turkey harvest salad, black bean & rice soup, and BBQ pork.

That should get us through until Christmas, at which point I will eat food that other people cook.  Hello, Mom and Mother-in-Law.

Blogging about our meal plans has been kind of a pain, to be honest.  I do make meal plans for grocery shopping, but I seem to forget to blog about it.  So while the discipline of meal planning is a MUST for our grocery budget, I’m done blogging about it.

Happy eating.

Meal planning confession

I have been lousy about blogging our meal plans.  Sorry about that.  I have been planning meals and building grocery lists around that, I just haven’t been blogging about it.  This week, though, I actually remembered.  So here goes:

Chicken Spaghetti from The Meaning of Pie.  I tried the Pioneer Woman’s chicken spaghetti a while back and found it bland and uninteresting – this looks like a better recipe.  We’ll see.

Simply Reem’s Coconut Chicken.  I tried her Potato Curry a while back and loved it.  Chad’s not a huge fan of A) curry or B) vegetarian dishes, but it was perfect for me.  I’m hoping the coconut chicken will be a hit – honestly, now as I type this I can’t remember if Chad likes coconut.  Hm.

Stuffed Peppers.  I was inspired by my sister and made up a recipe and they turned out great.  I’ll definitely add them to our non-existent regular rotation of meals.

This spicy tuscan soup from Tasty Kitchen.  Except, I’m scared of kale, so I’m totally making it with spinach instead.

Can we talk about Mr. Food’s Italian Layer Bake?  I should have read the reviews prior to the night I wanted to make it.  Or read the recipe more than once and realized it was sort of an egg casserole, which was not what I wanted.  So we ate deli meat and cheese rolled up in crescent rolls with a bad attitude.  I did, at least.  Chad didn’t really seem to mind.

Mix & Match Mama’s Chicken Suiza Enchiladas and totally bizzare sounding Corn & Bacon Pasta round out the list.  Plus, I think I even have pantry ingredients to make Peanut Sesame Noodles from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.



The combination of a menu plan, a well-stocked refrigerator and a husband who eats leftovers makes this girl happy. Here’s what we’re eating:

Spaghetti & Meatballs. Pasta with white beans, spinach and caramelized onion. Served with a pork chop if you’re my husband. BBQ chicken pizza. Stir fry. Roast & potatoes. Chicken/broccoli slaw/Chinese salad. Polenta with black beans and chicken. Grilled veggies and pasta and yummy.

Now I’m hungry.

Trader Joe’s strikes again

I grabbed a bunch of groceries last week at Trader Joe’s.  Their prices are pretty comparable to WalMart’s and I really like their product selection and sales flyer with its cute little stories and pomegranate lemonade, and oh hey, there goes my grocery-budget self control, flying out the window.  Sigh.

We’re eating Ellie’s pasta salad, Sausage and peppers, French Fried Onion Chicken, Pasta with white beans, Chicken pot pie (ingredients from last month still in the freezer), BBQ chicken pizza and Greek nachos.  With pomegranate lemonade.  It was totally worth it.

What we ate

I really need to get back on track posting meals when I make my shopping list instead of waiting until we’ve eaten everything and have to go grocery shopping.  Regardless, here’s what we’ve been eating:

Lemon pesto pasta
Taco salad
Green bean casserole
Primavera pasta
Grilled steak & tater tots

And I still have ingredients for upside-down pizza and chicken pot pie, although I haven’t made time to actually make them.  Busy life, we lead.

Doritos Taco

I love Doritos.  Especially crunched up in taco salad.  Ranae taught me that. (Thanks, Chad).  So when Taco Bell introduced their Doritos Loco Taco, I knew I had to try it.

Friday was the day.  One Doritos taco and a Nachos Supreme, please.


Appearance:  The shell was REALLY orange.  I feel like Doritos are mostly yellow-corn chips with lots of fake orange cheese on them.  This shell was distinctly orange, plus the cheese on it.  It was a little disturbing, I’m not gonna lie.  Other than that, it looked like a normal Taco Bell taco.  Meat, ice burg lettuce, cheddar cheese, a good squirt of medium sauce…mmm.

Taste:  Delish.  Seriously.  The only thing that could have made it better, IMO, is if the inside of the shell had cheese on it too.  It was just on the outside, which I found a little odd.  But otherwise, it tasted exactly like I expected it to.

Other:  At $1.29, I felt like I was mostly paying for the marketing.  They have billboards EVERYWHERE and it can’t have cost that much more to make vs. a regular $.69 taco.   I don’t eat at Taco Bell very often, mostly ’cause Chad doesn’t love it like I do, so I doubt I’ll order one again.  But it was yummy and made me want to add taco salad to this week’s menu.

Thanks, Doritos.