Sunday, June 26, 2011

What's Cookin' This Week (June 27 - July 3, 2011)?

Well this week is going to be just us girls.  My husband will be on a business trip for most of this week.  Then we will all be traveling to visit family in New Orleans for the Fourth of July weekend.  Therefore with all that going on, I'm keeping things VERY SIMPLE this week - only making sandwiches and items that require little effort or preparation.  I'm going to skip making a dessert this week.  Perhaps Vivian and I will eat ice cream out one night instead!  :-)

Here's what I have lined up for the coming days....

Monday, June 27 - Black bean burgers on whole grain English muffins.  Serve with fruit and baked chips.

Tuesday, June 28 - Grilled Zucchini-Parmesan Sandwich.  Serve with my easy, creamy tomato-basil soup.

Wednesday, June 29 - Easy Thai Chicken wraps.  Serve with fruit and a side salad.

Thursday, June 30 - Hot dogs and baked chips OR Eat out with friends. 

Friday, July 1 - Sloppy Joe pizza (from freezer)

Saturday, July 2 - Eat out dinner with family

Sunday, July 3 - Eat out dinner with family or enjoy family homecooking

Monday, July 4 - Fried Fish or Barbecue at Dad's house (Happy Independence Day!)

Tuesday, July 5 - Dinner out with friends

Wednesday, July 6 - Eat out and travel home

We're hoping to eat light and stay active the first part of the week before traveling to see family and indulging in too much to drink, eat and more!   Do you have any fun Fourth of July plans?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Slow Cooker Banana Bread Pudding

I was skeptical at how a bread pudding would turn out using my slow cooker but then I thought, what the hell.... I could have dessert ready in a matter of hours and focus my attention on other things, like baking bread, watching a movie with my daughter and more.  So I gave this recipe a try over the Father's Day weekend and I'm so glad I did.  My family and my co-workers really enjoyed it.

Slow Cooker Banana Bread Pudding

(Makes a lot!  About 18-20 servings)

8 to 10 slices of bread, cut into small pieces (I used our favorite homemade sandwich bread)
4 extra large eggs, beaten
2 cups of milk (I used 2%)
1/2 cup sugar
4 Tbsp (half stick) of butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup of raisins (optional)
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

For the sauce:

1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup of water
2 Tbsp butter

Spray your slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.  Cut up your sliced of bread.  I used my yogurt wheat sandwich bread.  Place the bread pieces in the slow coooker.  In a mixing bowl, mash the bananas. Then add in the eggs, milk, sugar butter and vanilla extract.  Mix well.  Pour over the pieces of bread.  Cook the mixture on high for one hour.  Then switch heat to low and cook for another 2-3 hours.  Check it half-way through for moistness.  Make sure it doesn't dry out the bread or start to stick. 

Just before serving, place the sauce ingredients together in a pan over the stove.  Bring to a boil and heat on medium high.  Stir well.  Serve the sauce over the warm bread. 

Dig in! Good stuff!  This freezes well too.  I personally tested it out and the bread was still moist and fresh.  You may just want to add a bit more sauce to it though.  Yummy! 
Do you have any good desserts that you make in your slow cooker?  I haven't really tried making sweets in mine before but now I want to make more! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chicken Parmesan with honey mustard flavor

Who doesn't love chicken parmesan?  It's a wonderful meal!  This recipe below just gives it a little different flavor and is prepared in such an easy manner that you can whip it up quickly, even after a busy workday! 

Even my parents called me to tell me how much they loved this meal after I shared the recipe with them.  Oh yeah, that is how good it is!

Chicken Parmesan with Honey Mustard Flavor
(Serves 4)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed
1 cup Panko bread crumbs (These are Japanese style crumbs and they work best!)
1/2 cup of low fat buttermilk (or 1/2 cup of milk + 1/2 tbsp lemon juice)
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp honey mustard
1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Dash of Cajun seasoning

Parmesan sauce topping for chicken:
1 can (8 oz) of tomato sauce
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 cup of reduced fat cheese, shredded (your choice: such as mozzarella, cheddar, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 3 qt baking pan with cooking spray.   Combine buttermilk, honey, mustard, 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, salt pepper and seasonings into one shallow bowl or container.  Place the panko bread crumbs in another shallow bowl or container right next to the buttermilk-seasonings mixture.  Dip each chicken breast into the wet mixture, coating both side.  Then dip it into the panko bread crumbs covering both sides of the chicken breast well.  Repeat this with all pieces of chicken.  Place the chicken breasts into baking pan. 

In a small, separate bowl, blend the sauce -  tomato sauce, cheeses, onion and garlic powders and seasonings.  Mix well.  Spoon tomato-cheese sauce over each chicken breast until all topping is used.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink on the inside. Serve hot.  Freeze leftovers in plastic containers.  Chicken will remain good in freezer for up to three months.  Reheat in oven for best results.

This is a dish you can put together when you get home from a busy day and still eat dinner within a decent time.  Enjoy!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What's Cookin' This Week (June 20-26, 2011)?

We've had a wonderful weekend!  How about you? 

Our family enjoyed dinner with good friends on Saturday night - Mexican food, my favorite!  Then today for Father's day, we enjoyed blueberry pancakes, cupcakes and even ice cream later in the day~!   I better exercise extra hard this coming week, let me tell you!  

We took our daughter to the pet store and then to a hard store where she proceeded to have a "treasure hunt" by looking inside washing machines, lifting up toilets and all other sorts of things.  I let my husband decide the fate of the day since it is his special "dad's" day but he just wanted to spend time with us, his two girls.  So it's been a really nice, family and friend-fun kind of weekend around here.  We'll be visiting our own fathers and relatives in about two weeks.  So all in all, what more could I ask for?  How about great food?  I'm glad you asked....

Here's my meal plan for the coming days.  Simple works best for me during the week since I don't get home from work until around 5:30 p.m. most evenings.  However, having a plan and sticking to it (most of the time) sure does make my life easier during the hectic weekdays. 

Monday, June 20, 2011 - Leftover Man's Meat Pie ~ We didn't eat that much of this on Sunday since we stuffed ourselves with dessert all day long.  But hey, we can enjoy the break to start the workweek off right~! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - Spinach and Cheese Gnocchi with homemade butter bread

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - Crabmeat Pasta Salad with sesame green beans

Thursday, June 23, 2011 - Leftovers or Breakfast for Dinner

Friday, June 24, 2011 - Barbecue Ham and Pineapple Pizza

Saturday, June 25, 2011 - Smoked Apple-BBQ Chicken - using the brand new smoker we purchased on Father's Day over the weekend!  Serve with baked beans and salad

Sunday, June 26, 2011 - Unstuffed Peppers Casserole with a side of corn and homemade butter bread.

This week I will try out this dessert that I meant to make weeks ago but never did.  It's a healthier alternative to traditional brownies and uses black beans in the recipe.  After all the sweets I've indulged in this past week, I need a better suggestion for the coming days.  Hopefully we'll like this one:

(1)  Black bean brownies with mint frosting

(2)  And I think perhaps, I'll make an easy fruit dip too for dipping our watermelon and grapes~ I'm going to use the healthy ricemellow in the place of marshmallow creme though! 

Yummy, I can't wait to eat dinner this week!  What will you be serving?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sweet Treat Week Recipe # 4 - "Oh My Gawd! Blueberry Cake"

Welcome to Sweet Treat Week~ a week where I have decided to dedicate this blog to all things sweet. Some of them will be healthy and lighter versions of desserts or drinks. Others will be indulgences that you should make when you're in need of them. It's okay, you can have some then share the extra calories with friends! That's what I like to do (Ha!) 

This is my final sweet treat recipe for the week.  And I believe that I saved the BEST FOR LAST!  The timing is great too because blueberries are in season and cheap right now. 

I went back and forth on what I could name this recipe. Finally I decided to call it "Oh My Gawd! Blueberry Cake" because those three words were utttered by my boss when he took his first bite last week. As he left the office for the day, he told me to keep doing what I was doing because I am performing my job beautifully. Yet I can't help but feel that it was related to my baking and bringing in treats for him to try once week too! :-)

So do yourself and your family and co-workers a favor.  Make this cake recipe!  Everyone will thank you for it.  Let me know if they utter the words, "oh my gawd!" too.

Oh My Gawd!  Blueberry Cake

(Makes 1 cake or serves about 20)

For Cake:

3 cups of unbleached, white wheat flour

1 and 3/4 cup of organic sugar

2 cups of reduced fat milk (I use 1%)

1/2 cup of oil - I used canola

2 eggs
5 tsp of baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp almond extract  (Don’t skip this! It gives the cake that extra amazing flavor!)
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups of blueberries, divided in half

For Topping:
1 cup of brown sugar
2/3 cup of unbleached flour

2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
8 Tbsp butter, cubed (1 stick or 1/2 cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 13x9 inch baking square pan with cooking spray. 

Sift the dry cake ingredients together: flour, sugar, powder and salt in a large bowl.  Push the mixture down making a well in the center.  In the hole, place the wet ingredients: milk, oil (or applesauce), egg and almond extract.  Stir and blend.   Gently fold in half (1 cup) of the blueberries.  Pour into the greased baking pan.  Then top with the additional cup of blueberries and press down into the batter.  Now make the crumble topping. 

In a small bowl, make the crumble topping by stirring the sugar, flour, vanilla extract and cinnamon together; then cut butter into the mix with a knife and blend. Sprinkle topping mixture over batter in pan.  Bake for 40 to 50 minutes.  Cut into squares.  Serve warm. 

This cake has a crumble topping.  Therefore, I didn't use any icing or other topping.  It is sweet and delicious as it is.   But of course you can always add to it if you like.  Some cream cheese icing might just take you straight to heaven!   :-)   

Freeze leftovers (if you have any, I sure didn't!). Defrost in fridge or reheat in microwave for 45 seconds.

This cake is really good eaten as breakfast, a snack or hell, just any time of the day!  Everyone that tried this cake last week has already asked me to make it again!  I'm glad I thought to put it all together and modify a recipe from my cookbook to make this amazing dessert.

Thanks for sharing in "Sweet Treat Week" with me!  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.  I hope you'll try some of these great recipes too!   See you in a few days with my meal plan and a few new meal ideas too!   All the best to you! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sweet Treat Week Recipe # 3 - Better for You "Marsh"mellow Treats

Welcome to Sweet Treat Week~ a week where I have decided to dedicate this blog to all things sweet.  Some of them will be healthy and lighter versions of desserts or drinks.  Others will be indulgences that you should make when you're in need of them.  It's okay, you can have some then share the extra calories with friends!  That's what I like to do (Ha!) 

In this post, I'm going to share a completely GUILT-FREE treat.  It's a classic marshmallow-style treat that you've made or eaten at one time or another, I guarantee it.  But I bet you've never had it without the traditional "marshmallows."   Instead I replaced it with ricemellow that I found in my local organic, health foods store.  Ricemellow is vegan-friendly, gluten-free and it is made with brown rice syrup and soy.  If you make this recipe using these ingredients, you and your kids can eat it all without feeling sick or digesting harmful things. 

Don't get me wrong - I like a good marshmallow every now and then.  But the traditional rice krispie treats are too sweet for me lately!  I can't stomach it.  This ricemellow is a much better alternative for me.  I'll admit that it doesn't hold together as well as traditional marshmallows but that's okay, I don't let them sit around long enough to worry about that minor detail anyway!  :-)

I love simple, no-bake treats that contain minimial ingredients.  This one has only three.   Enjoy it!  Try it out and see how it compares to the classic way you've been making these treats.  


Better For You "Marsh"mellow Treats
(Serves about 20 OR Makes One 13x9 inch pan full)

5 cups of Cheerios Cereal - I used the Multi-grain kind, I really like their flavor!
1 container (10 oz) of ricemellow creme
3 T. Smart Balance butter - I used the light kind

In a medium sauce pan on your stove, melt the smart balance butter and ricemellow creme together.  Stir until smooth.  Remove from heat.  Add in the Multi-grain Cheerios (or other healthy cereal of your choice).   Stir gently until well mixed.  Then add to a lightly greased 13x9 inch baking pan.  Press down until all of baking pan is covered. 

Note: It's so humid and hot here that I placed my pan in the fridge until I'm ready to serve or eat these.  I keep mine in there because I'm afraid it will melt sitting out on my counter. 

I've been eating on this for several days now, including it as part of my breakfast or mid-morning snack!   Try it! 

Fact: I almost never eat a bowl of cereal anymore.  My daughter doesn't even really like to eat cereal in the traditional way with milk.  She prefers it dry and in a cup.  I prefer to use it in recipes like this one or make granola bars with them.  Do you still eat cereal with milk in a bowl?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sweet Treat Week Recipe # 2 - Light Caramel-Vanilla Frappe

Welcome to Sweet Treat Week~ a week where I have decided to dedicate this blog to all things sweet.  Some of them will be healthy and lighter versions of desserts or drinks.  Others will be indulgences that you should make when you're in need of them.  It's okay, you can have some then share the extra calories with friends!  That's what I like to do (Ha!) 

Today, let's tackle the ever-popular summertime drink that everyone is always talking about - Caramel Frappe.  I must confess that I was highly addicted to these last summer, indulging in one at least twice a week and paying for them too. 

I finally came to my senses and realized that I was wasting money and could be making my own!  So I took the plunge and made them this past weekend.  My friend Heather sent me her recipe and I tweaked it to make it just right for my taste buds.  It's very easy to make.  Best of all it helps you save money and conserve your ingredients (like not wasting or throwing out leftover brewed coffee like we always do). 

I was very pleased with how this turned out.  I'll admit that mine didn't look as pretty as the ones you purchase at the chain stores but it tasted just the same! 

Light Caramel-Vanilla Frappe

(Serves 2 - or makes two 20 oz size glasses)


10 coffee ice cubes - Use leftover coffee that you brew.  Simply cool then pour into an ice cube tray.  Freeze overnight.  They will look like this (below):

5 regular ice cubes
1 cup of reduced fat or skim milk
1/4 cup of French Vanilla liquid coffee creamer
1/4 cup of Fat-free caramel sundae syrup

How to make your frappe: Blend together the milk, French Vanilla coffee creamer and caramel syrup in your blender.  Then add the coffee ice cubes and regular ice cubes.  Blend until smooth or until your desired thickness or thinness.  I like tiny bits of ice in mine! 

Pour into two 20 oz size glasses and serve immediately.  Top it with additional caramel syrup or whipped cream if you desire.

Sit on your couch and enjoy this with a friend or a good book when you don't have the time or money to go through the drive-thru this summer! 

My blender is really under-used.  How about yours?  How often do you make drinks or frozen concoctions? 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sweet Treat Week: Recipe # 1 - Banana Chocolate Bars

Welcome to Sweet Treat Week~ a week where I have decided to dedicate this blog to all things sweet.  Some of them will be healthy and lighter versions of desserts or drinks.  Others will be indulgences that you should make when you're in need of them.  It's okay, you can have some then share the extra calories with friends!  That's what I like to do (Ha!) 

Let's start off with sweet treat # 1 - Banana Chocolate Bars.  This is a cross between an indulgence and a not-too-bad-for-you treat.  After all, it has bananas in it.  No butter is in it.  But it does have chocolate and sugar.  It's very tasty and I make some variation of this dessert often for my husband.  I finally decided to share it here too. 


Banana Chocolate Bars
(Makes 16 bars)

2 bananas, ripened and mashed
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 and 1/4 cup of unbleached flour (I used white wheat flour)
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup of yogurt (I used plain, fat-free)
1/4 cup of milk

1/4 cup of oil (or use 1/2 cup of applesauce)
1 cup of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 8x8 inch square pan with cooking spray and put it aside.  In a large bowl, mix banana and sugar together using a hand mixer.  Blend for about three minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla extract.  Add in the yogurt and milk.  In a separage bowl, sift the flour and baking powder.  Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture. Continue using the mixer, blending the mixture on low speed, to make the cake-like batter.  Once fully blended, gently fold in the chocolate chips. Pour or scoop out batter into the greased baking pan.   Bake for 30 - 35 minutes.  Insert a knife to test for doneness.   

Let bars cool completely before cutting into 16 squares.  Then place in the fridge.  (Note: A plastic knife works better than a regular knife!)  Chill for several hours.  Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers you have in an air-tight container. 

These bars will keep in the freezer for up to two months.  Defrost them in the fridge overnight before eating. 

Yummy!  Banana and chocolate - a winning combination! 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What's Cookin' This Week (June 13-19, 2011)?

I developed a head cold a few days ago and am having bad allergies this week too.  So I apologize for my lack of participation lately.  The sneezing and coughing have taken over my desires to cook and seek out new recipes. 

However, I did manage to do some baking.  I made two loaves of bread yesterday along with my famous carrot cinnamon muffins and a delicious blueberry cake recipe that I devised on the spot too.  I'll be sharing that berry cake and a few other sweet treats this coming week. 

In the mean time, here is my plan for this week.  I must admit that it's nothing new but that's because I need to stock up again - do some pureeing of vegetables and bake more breakfast items too.  So I intend to do that in addition to making these family favorites of ours....

Monday, June 13, 2011 - Homemade Chili  with yogurt-wheat sandwich bread for dipping (This I am pulling from my freezer, using the last portion of it.)  Serve with a side green salad.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - Chicken Spaghetti - (I'm going to add some veggies to this and experiment a bit.  I use regular cheese, NOT Velveeta as well.) Serve with side of green beans.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - Grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with butternut squash spread.  Serve with a side of feta-bean dip and baked chips

Thursday, June 16, 2011 - Breakfast for dinner: Cheezy Grits and Egg Casserole

Friday, June 17, 2011
- Cheater Enchiladas, my own personal recipe, but I'm trying them out a new ten-minute enchilada sauce.  Serve with corn and side salad

Saturday, June 18, 2011
 - Barbecue with friends - Chicken with Italian marinade, Garlic-Tequilia-Lime Shrimp, Cauliflower Fritters and More!

Sunday, June 19, 2011
(Father's Day) - Breakfast out - my husband's choice.  Dinner will be his favorite: Man's Italian Meat Pie.  Serve with creamed spinach.

In honor of Father's Day, I will try a new dessert recipe using my husband's favorite ingredients - white chocolate and bananas.  I hope this White Chocolate and Banana Cake will be a hit in our house! 

What's cooking in your kitchen this week?  Any special meal plans?  Or will you be grilling or eating out in honor of Father's Day?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Manly Chicken Salad

Does your husband stick his nose up at traditional chicken salad?  Mine does.  He is never thrilled when I hand him a "girly" style wrap or sandwich that has the classic chicken, eggs, mayo, and celery.  He hates it even worse when I put the "frills" in there like grapes and cut up pieces of apple like you're served in gourmet restaurants or at wedding/baby showers.  So finally I came up with a "manly" chicken salad that I can be proud to serve him and that he is more than willing to eat.  

That's right ladies, no girly man chicken salads around here anymore!  That's right, Hans and Franz have to "pump you up" with this masculine meal now. 

So serve up this "manly" chicken dish for the men in your life.  And tell them they can thank me when their taste buds go wild with delight!  Enjoy this one!  I know we all did, both girls and guys in my house!  :-)

Manly Chicken Salad
(Serves 6)

2 cups of diced pre-cooked chicken (I used leftover barbecue chicken from our grill so it was really good!)
1/2 cup of mayonnaise (I used fat-free)
1/4 cup of bacon bits
1 Tbsp. ranch dressing
1 tsp. A-1 or other steak sauce
1 tsp of ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup of diced green onions
3/4 cup of shredded cheddar (or other variety) cheese  (I used a reduced fat kind)

Mix the pre-cooked chicken with the bacon bits, mayonnaise, ranch dressing, steak sauce and ground cumin.  Add salt and pepper if desired.  Stir well until all blended.  Now add in the green onions and shredded cheese.  Mix together.  Spread on sandwich bread, rolls or tortillas (whatever your choice of bread may be). 

We served ours my delicious homemade yogurt wheat bread.  Here's what it looked like before we bit into it. 

So yummy! 

Do you have a "girly" style recipe that you made more "manly" to please your husband or the men in your life?  Share the details!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mandy's Magnificent Mini Meatloaf

I have experimented with preparing meatloaf a lot over the last five years.  I've made the fattening Paula Deen version.  I've made the no-flavor, too healthy kind.  I've put a little bit of this and that, using practically every ingredient from my cupboard.  Finally I think I have created the perfect blend of tasty, moist and healthy ingredients that puts a new twist on this classic dish. 

I made this recently for our guests who visited over Memorial day weekend.  They all really raved about it.  At first I thought they were just being nice and polite but my brother-in-law raided our kitchen for a midnight snack and he chose these mini meatloaves over chocolate brownies!!!  Therefore, you know they must be good and worth sharing here....

This photo doesn't do this delicious meatloaf justice but my camera phone is all I have right now!  Trust me, it is mmm, good!

Mandy's Magnificent Mini Meatloaf

(Serves 6)

1 and 1/2 lbs of ground turkey
1 cup of shredded carrots
1/2 cup of pureed spinach
1 red onion, chopped finely
1 cup of Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 eggs (or 1/3 cup of egg whites)
1/3 cup of water
1/3 cup of ketchup
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 dash of Cajun seasoning (optional)

Meatloaf glaze:
1/3 cup of ketchup
1/4 cup of light brown sugar
4 tsp of apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a mini bread loaf pan and/or muffin pan generously with cooking spray.  In a large bowl combine all the ingredients except the ones used for glaze.  Using your hands is best.  Press the meat mixture into the mini- bread loaf or muffin pan.  To prepare the glaze:  In a small bowl, mix and stir the glaze ingredients: ketchup, brown sugar and vinegar.  Pour or brush the glaze over the meatloaf tops.  If there is any excess, use it for dipping or last-minute glazing once the meat is cooked through. 

Place meat loaf in the oven.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until cooked through. 
Let cool for about ten minutes.  
Freeze leftovers in plastic containers.  At a later time, you can move the frozen slices of meatloaf into plastic storage bags.  Meatloaf will keep in the freezer for up to four months.  Reheat in microwave.  

Note:  You can cook this as one big loaf if you like.  Baking time will be closer to an hour however.  I just prefer it in the smaller size.  It cooks faster and comes out just perfectly! 

If you're feeding a large crowd or if you want to prepare ahead, then you can double this recipe and automatically freeze them.  This tastes even better the second time around!   :-)   Enjoy!

What's Cookin' This Week (June 6 - 12, 2011)?

I'm feeling much more relaxed and rejuvenated since I took that little break!  Now I'm ready to start cooking and planning again. 

Although I must confess.... even though I didn't meal plan online, I still  prepared our meals one day ahead.  Each day I thought about what I'd either pull from my freezer or throw together for dinner hours in advance.  Once a planner, always a planner I suppose.  It's just in my blood now - being organized and thinking ahead so I'm ready.  :-) 

I also received my new food processor last week.  I'm super excited about using that!  First I need to watch the instructional DVD that came with it though, LOL!  It has a lot of bells and whistles I'm not used to having.  My previous one was ten years old.  You simply turned it on, pulsed it and your food was done.  My new one has a lot more features!  I'll keep you posted on how I do with that.  Hopefully I don't injure myself with it! 

Here's what I have planned for the coming week - a few new recipes and a few old, favorites! 

Monday, June 6 Chili chicken sandwiches (using lefterover cut up, barbecue chicken I have in my freezer).  Serve with a side of baked beans and watermelon.

Tuesday, June 7 - Sausage and black bean corn bread pie (a family favorite recipe that is featured from my cookbook!).  Serve with a side green salad.

Wednesday, June 8 - Leftovers or Eat out with friends

Thursday, June 9 - Stuffed Meatballs with vegetable sauce - a new recipe that I'm excited to try!  Serve with a side of green beans.  (I think I may make these in the slow cooker the night before!)

Friday, June 10 - Barbecue chicken and ranch pizza (leftovers from my freezer!)

Saturday, June 11 - Baked Tilapia Fish.  Serve with a side of spinach and parmesan cakes.  Also serve with baked hush puppies.

Sunday, June 12 - Sausage Skillet Supper.  Serve with leftover spinach and parmesan cakes.

I hope to tackle a few new desserts this week.  Can you tell that I'm being inspired by all the berries in season right now and the popular, frozen summer drinks too?  I can't wait to try these (below):

(1) Healthified Raspberry Brulee

(2) Healthier Blueberry Coffee Cake

(3) Heather's Homemade Frappe recipe - I will share this if I love it after making it!

That's all from me for now.  I'll be sharing some great family favorite hearty meals over the next several days.  Stay tuned for those good eats!

What's on your meal plan this week?  Anything special that you plan to cook up for those you love?  I've missed you all and look forward to catching up on your sites this week!