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Meal Planning #3

I am doing weekly meal plans in our house and am serving up a lot of tasty dishes each night, however I can't seem to get my act together to do a downloadable grocery list and recipe sheet each week for you guys. In an effort to still share the recipes I'm making, I am just going to do a modified version - complete with (at minimum) a link to the recipes I use to base the meals off, and if it's a good week, you'll get the modified version typed out on here.

On another note - while planning meals may take a bit of extra time up front - it without a doubt makes the week easier and greatly reduces the cost of our grocery bill. I mix and match recipes that require a lot of new ingredients with those that require minimal, cheap ingredients or only require things I have stockpiled in the house. I try and do 1 fish dish, 2 meat, 2 vegetarian, and 1 salad or pasta. As I've said before, the 7th night is reserved for leftovers or eating out. This system seems to work well and provides us with a wide range of meals. I find if I spend 30-45 minutes selecting recipes and putting together a grocery list, I can do my shopping in 45 minutes too - which, as I have quickly learned, is crucial when toting around a 2.5 month old.

Without further ado, Meal Planning #3:

1. Mayoless Pasta Salad from Skinnytaste.com

2. Zucchini Lasagna from Skinntyaste.com

(Make sure you let the zucchini sit with salt on it for at least 30 minutes to remove the moisture. Otherwise your lasagna comes out very watery!)

3. Orzo with Feta, Basil & Shrimp from William Sonoma

4. Herb Grilled Chicken from Fine Cooking & baked sweet potato on the side

(Using a fork, puncture sweet potato with holes. Place sweet potato in microwave in 2 minute intervals, rotating at each point. It should take 4-6 minutes for a single sweet potato to cook.)

5. Simple salad with Creamy Hummus Dressing from Simple Food Healthy Life

(My very basic salad consists of red leaf lettuce, diced tomatos, onions, and peppers, and a bit of cheese.)


Frozen Greek Yogurt Bars

For better or worse, I'm a dessert person. I love a tasty treat in the evening after dinner. In an effort to get back to pre-pregnancy weight, the nightly servings of ice cream had to go, as did the cookies and brownies that made an appearance a bit too often during those 9 months. Since I can't seem to give up "dessert," I have gone on a hunt for healthier substitutes. I found this recipe from The Lean Green Bean while browsing Pinterest and made some slight modifications. The result is a tasty snack/desser/late night treat that is far better for you than that double scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream ...and almost as good.

Frozen Yogurt Bars

Servings: 12 bars

  • 3 cups 0% plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 bananas
  • 2 cups strawberries 
  • 1 cup low fat granola
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract



  1. Place bananas and strawberries in food processor and pulse until chopped into bite size pieces. 
  2. Mix all ingredients together in medium bowl.
  3. Line 9×13 pan with foil or parchment paper.
  4. Spread mix in pan and place in freezer until frozen, at least 3 hours.
  5. Flips yogurt bars onto hard surface. Cut into 12 pieces.
  6. Store in airtight container. If you need to stack the bars, separate layers with parchment paper.



...and we're back...Meal Planning #2 (with downloadable grocery list and recipe page)

So clearly it's been ages since I've written. Life got in the way. And then our beautiful little boy came along. And now I'm on maternity leave and figure there is no better time to get back in the proverbial blogging saddle then now. So with the new munchkin rounding out week 5 since his arrival, my mom gone, and the husband heading back to work - the cooking is back in my wheelhouse. Which means it's menu planning time here in our house.  I can tell you that while all the recipes are delicious, the eggplant mango lentil salad and the grilled ginger sesame chicken salad both rocked our world and are definite repeat summer dinners. As per usual, I adapt many of the recipes I find to fit our tastes, the ingredients in our house, or to incorporate more fresh ingredients and less canned goods. All changes I made are reflected in the grocery list and recipes below (click here to download the grocery list and recipe page). Links to the original recipes are below. 

  1. Eggplant mango lentil salad from Eating Well
  2. Chipotle salmon with grilled asparagus from Barefeet in the Kitchen
  3. Greek chicken tostadas from How Sweet It Is
  4. Grilled ginger sesame chicken salad from Chef Curtis Stone
  5. Crunchy coconut chicken fingers with peach honey mustard (and a side salad) from How Sweet It Is

Click for a downloadable grocery list and recipes

Meal Planning #2: Grocery List

Each recipe serves 4-6 people

Eggplant Mango Lentil Salad adapted from Eating Well

  • 4 Tbsp peanut oil 
  • 2.5 tsp chili powder
  • 2.5 tsp curry powder
  • 1 large eggplant, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/3 c lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 c lentils  
  • 2 bunches scallions, coarsely chopped 
  • 1 large mango, peeled and diced 

 Chipotle Salmon adapted from Barefeet in the Kitchen

  • Salmon, either steaks or fillet (roughly .3lbs per person)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 c fresh lime juice, about 2 limes worth
  • 1 Tbsp sauce from canned chipotle peppers
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Grilled Asparagus from Food Network

  • 1 pound asparagus, stalks snapped off
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt

Greek Chicken Tostadas adapted from How Sweet it Is

  • 1 pound boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 6-8 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1.5 Tbsp fresh dill
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 6 (small) corn or flour tortillas
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup hummus (recipe to follow)
  • 1 tsp freshly chopped dill
  • Feta for serving

5 Minute Hummus from Simple Food Healthy Life

  •   1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and liquid reserved
  •   3 tbsp of chickpea liquid
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp tahini
  • 1.5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt & pepper

Crunchy Coconut Strips with Peach Honey Mustard from How Sweet It Is

  • 2 large chicken breasts cut into strips
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1.25 c unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1/4 c panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 c dijon mustard 
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1 peach, peeled and chopped 

Grilled Ginger Sesame Chicken Salad adapted from Curtis Stone

  • ¼ c reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp ginger
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil 
  • 2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ¼ c red wine vinegar
  • 1 bunch scallions, minced
  • 1 lb napa cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, shredded 
  • ⅔ c lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • ½ c slivered almonds, toasted

Meal Planning #2: Recipes

Each recipe serves 4-6 people

Eggplant Mango Lentil Salad adapted from Eating Well

  1. Preheat oven to 500°F.
  2. Combine 1 tbsp oil with 2 tsp each chili powder and curry powder in a large bowl. Add eggplant and toss well. Spread the eggplant on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring once halfway through, until tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Combine lentils in medium pan with 1.5 c water. Bring to boil over medium heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally lentils are tender, approximately 20 minutes. 
  4. Combine the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon each chili powder and curry powder, lemon and lime juice, tomatoes, red onion, honey, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the roasted eggplant, lentils and scallions; gently toss to combine. Taste and season with more pepper and/or lemon (or lime) juice, if desired.
  5. Top salad with mango and serve.

 Chipotle Salmon adapted from Barefeet in the Kitchen

  1. In a small bowl combine the olive oil, lime juice, chipotle sauce, garlic, allspice, cinnamon, cumin, salt and pepper. 
  2. Whisk to combine and then pour over the salmon in a flat baking dish. 
  3. Turn the salmon to make sure it is coated and then cover and place back in the refrigerator. 
  4. Let it marinate for no more than 1 hour.
  5. Preheat the broiler.
  6. Transfer the salmon to a large baking sheet or broiler pan and cook for 3 minutes scale side up. Then flip over and cook another 3-6 minutes, until cooked through. 

Grilled Asparagus from Food Network

  1. Turn oven on broil (lo).
  2. Place asparagus on a foil lined baking sheet. 
  3. Drizzle oil over the asparagus and turn spears until they are coated. Sprinkle with salt and turn again.
  4. Place asparagus in the oven, turn every 2-3 minutes for 10 minutes or until cooked to desired consistency.

 Greek Chicken Tostadas adapted from How Sweet it Is

  1. A few hours (or even the night) before, add chicken to a ziplock bag. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Whisk together 3 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 Tbsp vinegar, garlic and dill. Pour over chicken, stick in the fridge and let marinate.
  2. Heat 1 TBSP olive oil in skillet/pan over medium heat. Add chicken (discarding marinade) and cook until golden, about 10 minutes. 
  3. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, onions, dill. Add a 1 Tbsp of olive oil and 1 Tbsp lemon juice and toss to coat. 
  4. Make hummus (recipe to follow)
  5. When getting ready to serve, heat another skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil about 1/4 teaspoon at a time, add one tortilla and cook for about 30-60 seconds per side, until just golden and bubbly. Set aside until ready to use.
  6. To assemble tostadas, spread a bit of hummus on each crisp tortilla. Add chicken on top then cover with the tomato and onion mixture. Top with some extra feta. 

5 Minute Hummus from Simple Food Healthy Life

  1. Combine all ingredients in food processor.
  2. Pulse until combined and smooth.
  3. Add additional chickpea liquid 1 Tbsp at a time if hummus is too dry.

Crunchy Coconut Strips with Peach Honey Mustard rom How Sweet It Is

  1. Place chicken strips in baking dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cover with coconut milk. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on top. Spray the rack with nonstick spray. 
  3. In a large bowl, combine coconut, flour, panko, salt and pepper. 
  4. Remove each strip and dredge it through the coconut mixture, pressing gently to adhere. Place the chicken on the well-greased wire rack and repeat until finished.
  5. Spray all the chicken tenders with a spritz of nonstick spray. Bake for 15 minutes, then gently flip and spray the other side. Bake for 15 minutes more, until golden and crispy.
  6. While the chicken is baking, add peach chunks to a blender or food processor until pureed. In a bowl, whisk together honey, dijon mustard and peach puree.  

Grilled Ginger Sesame Chicken Salad adapted from Curtis Stone

  1. Marinade: In a medium bowl, whisk soy sauce, ginger, canola oil, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, and salt to blend.
  2. Transfer 3 Tbsp of the marinade to a baking dish, add chicken, and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes.
  3. Dressing: Whisk vinegar and scallions into the remaining marinade. 
  4. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade, add to grill pan, and cook about 4 minutes per side.
  5. Cut chicken crosswise into ¼-inch-thick slices.
  6. In a large bowl, toss chicken, cabbage, carrots, scallions, cilantro, and almonds with enough dressing to coat lightly.



The Versatile Eggplant: 7 eggplant recipes you've got to try

Mark Bittman writes about the versatility of the eggplant in todays New York Times. I happen to agree that there are no vegetables more enticing to me than an eggplant. In fact, you can always find one in my fridge and if I could get my act together, you would find them growing in my garden again this year. Enjoy reading Bittman's expose on the "Meaty and Mighty" eggplant and make sure to share your favorite eggplant recipe with SFHL readers in the comments section below. And for a few of my favorite eggplant recipes, click the links below: Eggplant Ratatouille Eggplant Bake Eggplant Boat o' Veggies Lebanese Roasted Eggplant Salad Roasted Eggplant Chickpea Soup Moroccan Tomato and Eggplant over Couscous Veggie Burgers Meaty and Mighty Praising the Versatile Eggplant Reposted from The New York Times by Mark Bittman "Eggplant stands alone, a vegetable like no other. Actually, because eggplant is a fruit, like the tomato, to which it’s closely related, it’s safer to label it a food like no other, beloved and appreciated worldwide and deserving of respect, not as a meat substitute but as a treasure in itself. It isn’t a competition, but if you asked me the old desert-island question, I’d take eggplant before any meat I could think of (and, yes, that includes bacon). It would be ridiculous to claim that eggplant can outperform meat, but it’s not a stretch to see it as useful as any one cut of meat. It can take myriad forms, as appetizer, side dish or sauce. It can fill the center of the plate as nicely as anything. This isn’t the place to discuss health effects, but ever since people stopped believing that the nightshade family, of which it is a member, was poisonous, it’s been considered nothing but beneficial. You can eat eggplant every day, in season at least, and all it’s going to do is make you happy. This was reinforced for me three times this spring when I spent a little time in Sicily, where a warmer climate produces an earlier eggplant season. On the first occasion, I had the key ingredients for a mashed eggplant dish akin to baba ghanouj (eggplant, garlic and a wood fire) but no others. I propped those eggplants against the coals and allowed them to blister, blacken and soften; I did pretty much the same with the garlic. As I was once taught in India, where eggplant is indigenous, I held the shriveled fruits up by their stems with one hand and peeled them with the other. The flesh I mashed with that of the softened garlic, lemon and salt for a dish nothing short of glorious. You cannot achieve the same flavor without a wood fire (even real charcoal is only second best), but roasting in a hot oven results in perfectly tender eggplant, which you can use for an ad hoc dish like the one I just described, or for classic baba ghanouj. This treatment addresses the most common question about eggplant, which is, “Should I salt it?” There is more than one answer: If you’re slicing eggplant and you’re looking for an ultra-firm (O.K., meaty) texture, salt the slices and after 30 to 60 minutes, press them between paper towels before cooking. This technique works with many vegetables, because the salt draws out moisture. But if you imagine that you’re salting to draw out what used to be called “the bitter principle,” don’t bother. Eggplant isn’t bitter. That mashed wood-grilled eggplant was quite sweet, needing a lot of lemon. And if you’re salting because you think the eggplant will absorb less oil when it cooks, that’s a mistaken notion also. Eggplant is a sponge, and as long as you’re using good-tasting oil, it isn’t a problem. (As for the question “Should I peel it?” I think that with the exception of that blistered black skin in Sicily, I can unequivocally answer: never.) A couple of nights later, a friend made pasta alla Norma, a dish that is Sicilian. It’s really no more than lovingly sautéed eggplant finished in tomato sauce, tossed with pasta and topped with ricotta salata. Dry feta isn’t a bad substitute, and pecorino Romano and Parmesan are fine as well. While frying the eggplant, one of those leisurely kitchen tasks that takes a while but is nevertheless a pleasure, I was reminded of a variety of eggplant dishes I’ve eaten and made and savored over the years. One was a version of Parmesan made at the sadly-now-closed Shiek’s in Torrington, Conn., in which the eggplant was salted and pressed into thin, tough slices before layering with way too much mozzarella, in true Italian-American style. Also memorable were the various versions of boiled eggplant you see in Japan, one of which I’ve replicated here. (If you have never boiled eggplant, you must try this one.) There was the incomparable dish of mostly eggplant skin, it seemed to me, along with cherry tomatoes and loads of basil and oil, highly unusual and incredibly enjoyable, at La Tavernetta, in Naples. And there were the various “why is this so good?” Sichuan eggplant recipes (answer: they’re fried) as well as the perhaps overrated Turkish classic imam biyaldi, which translated means “the priest fainted,” and my first baingan bharta, which I made myself at home, from a Julie Sahni recipe, and in which the eggplant is roasted in precisely the same way as it is for baba ghanouj. My final Sicilian eggplant dish was at Ardigna, a restaurant in the remote, nearly deserted hills east of Marsala, where the antipasti was varied and sensational. A friend had told me this was “the only restaurant that matters,” which was perhaps a bit extreme. But among the dishes was a caponata so inspiring that, back home, I searched for and found in Chinatown, naturally, a few of those long, slender, lavender eggplants, and made a caponata of my own. Over fairly high heat, I softened sliced onions and green bell pepper in plenty of olive oil. As they cooked, I chopped and added the eggplant, along with crushed dried red peppers, capers, pine nuts, chopped green olives, raisins and a bit of sugar. After that had all cooked down, I stirred in tomato paste and vinegar. I then ate a bit, packed up the rest, hit the road and proceeded to virtually live on it for two days. Show me a meat dish you can say that about."

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