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.

This is my confession

I headed to Village Point after work last week to find a few new things for spring.  Suddenly it’s 8:30 PM and I haven’t eaten.  Time to be done shopping, just needed to grab some wine on my way home to have on hand for when Shannon came to visit.  A quick stop at TJ’s for some 2-Buck Chuck and a frozen Indian microwave meal for dinner (so yummy) and that’s it, I thought.


Peanut butter, two kinds of bagged salads, look! new salad dressing!, tortellini, almonds, dried cherries, marinara, oh – TJ’s has sweet chili sauce? and frozen fries? and $60 of groceries later…

Good thing it was near the end of the month, cause I totally blew out the rest of the grocery budget for March.

On another note, for the past few weeks, Chad has traveled, we went to North Carolina and ate my sister’s food, we’ve been eating random freezer meals, plus what I bought at Trader Joe’s.  Sweet Chili Chicken & Peppers & Pineapple over rice, burgers and fries, etc.

Let’s start fresh in April, shall we?

Recipe Review: Joyful Momma’s Enchiladas

Hailed by many to be the BEST Enchiladas on Pinterest!!!!!!!!! (exclamation not mine), I had seen the recipe on boards so many times I was starting to dream about the cheesy goodness.  Almost.

I love white chicken enchiladas.  Chad…is kind and eats whatever I make, even if it’s not his favorite.  Good man, my husband.  Anyway, the enchiladas made the recipe rotation this week, and they were so hyped up, I thought I’d share a few thoughts.

Joyful Momma’s original recipe is as stated:

10 soft taco shells
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3 T butter
3 T flour
2 C chicken broth
1 C sour cream
4 oz diced chiles

I had every intention of following the recipe exactly, until I realized there wasn’t any garlic or seasoning in the filling.  I’m kind of a spice junkie, so I threw in some garlic powder and cumin, and bought 7 oz of diced chiles and didn’t realize it until after they were dumped in the sauce.  The rest I made as directed.

I made the enchiladas the night before, and I kinda wished I hadn’t – the tortillas got kind of soggy and that was probably from sitting overnight in the refrigerator.  Nonetheless, they were GOOD.  Like, really good.  And easy.  And the sauce really does end up tasting like queso.  Yum.

I will definitely make these again, especially if I can figure out a way to make them in advance and not have them get soggy.  Probably just need to keep the sauce separate until they go in the oven.  I would, however, recommend the cumin and garlic, and maybe even a little cayenne or something for the filling – I think it would have been bland without the extra kick.

Best part?  There were enough for leftovers tonight, so I don’t have to cook!

Sunday Sunday

I gotta say, going to a different WalMart than normal is even more stressful than usual.  Don’t tell, but we were those people who abandoned the cart with three random items in it in the middle of cosmetics department.  Those bags of Whoppers eggs, water softener salt and eyeliner can make their own way back to the shelves.  We just had to get out of there.

Things I did accomplish on Sunday:

  • Successfully go to Walmart and buy groceries for: White Chicken Enchiladas, Black Bean and Lentil Soup, Wild Rice with Roasted Chicken and Carrots, Mediterranean Pasta with Spinach, Comfort Meatballs, Chicken Bacon Ranch, and Calzones.
  • Cook 10 lbs of chicken leg quarters in the crock pot, debone and shred the meat, and boil the bones to make stock.
  • Make / brown / bake / freeze 35 Comfort Meatballs
  • Start making a batch of my mom’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe, only to remember that I used some chocolate chips to make trail mix for Chad, and, ahem, ate some, so I only had enough to make a half batch.  Disappointing, but still yummy.
  • Catch up on Project 4:4 – up to date with not only the readings, but the Daily Accelerators and Tough Questions, too.
  • Catch up on Grey’s Anatomy and Glee. I do love Hulu.
  • I did not, however,  manage to put away all our clean laundry.  It is the bane of my existence.