Chop. Roast. Chop. Roast. Chop. Roast.

Winter White Velvet Soup
Quinoa burrito bowls
Corn, edamame and quinoa bowl
Chicken crockpot tacos (lunch freezer burritos)

Grocery Shopping list for this menu.

There is a lot of chopping and roasting this week but I promise it is worth it. We are making an amazing Winter White Velvet Soup. I had it at a friend’s dinner party a few weeks ago and had to have the recipe. Taking her lead, I made several tweaks to the original recipe and I think the changes really gave it a richer flavor.

But before we chop, put your chicken in the crockpot with a jar of your favorite salsa and 1-2 tablespoons of taco seasoning and turn it up to high heat. We make our own here in the test kitchen so give this recipe a try. You probably already have all of the spices in your cupboard.

ParsnipsParsnipsSo now let’s start on all of that chopping. Chop ALL of your vegetables … the onions, garlic, leeks, parsnips, potatoes, cauliflower, red peppers, cilantro and green onions. Be sure to dice some of the onions and red peppers and slice some of them. We need them both ways for two different recipes.

Roasted vegetablesOnce you have enough veggies chopped to fill your cookie sheet, start putting them in the oven coated in olive oil and roast them on 375 until soft and slightly browned. I would start with 20 minutes and keep an eye on them, adding more time as needed. (Watch the garlic! It will cook fast and you DON’T want that to burn.)

Winter White Velvet Soup

Winter White Velvet Soup

As they finish cooking, put them in a large bowl. Once they are all roasted, add feta, chicken broth, salt and pepper, and puree with an immersion blender or regular blender until smooth and velvety. If soup is too thick add a bit more chicken broth to thin.

In between batches of roasting vegetables, you can cook all of your quinoa and start mixing up ingredients for the corn, edamame and quinoa bowl.


Drain black beans and add to a bowl with chopped red peppers, corn, cilantro, green onions, garlic and edamame (this does not need to be pre-cooked unless you buy frozen ones in the pod). Add the quinoa when it finishes cooking.


Corn, edamame and quinoa bowl

Corn, edamame and quinoa bowl

Next prepare the vinaigrette by whisking together lemon juice, soy sauce, mustard and olive oil. Pour over quinoa mixture, stir and store in the fridge. This is served cold. (Note: I made this as a meal this week and it was fine for me but if you want to make it heartier you may want to add shredded chicken. Or it would also make an excellent side dish.)

Keep a cup of quinoa out for the lunch freezer burritos and store the remainder of it in a container in the fridge to use for your quinoa burrito bowls. (I must have been craving Mexican when I put this week’s menu together!)

Once your crockpot chicken is cooked, set aside some for the lunch freezer burritos and store the rest in a container in the fridge for your tacos and burrito bowls.

onions and peppers

lunch freezer burritos

lunch freezer burritos

Chicken crockpot tacos

Next sauté your remaining sliced peppers and onions.
Finally, let’s prepare your lunch freezer burritos. Lay out your tortilla and spoon a few tablespoons of quinoa, some crockpot chicken, some sauted peppers and onions and cheese in the middle of the shell. Fold the sides in, then roll into a burrito. Wrap each burrito in Press and Seal and store in a freezer bag. (You can reheat these for lunch in the microwave or oven.)


And that’s a wrap! Hey, I just made a pun!


** If you want, you can also prepare your taco and burrito bowl toppings so they are ready for the week.

Healthy hardy meals

Bleu Cheese and Spinach Pizza with homemade pizza dough
Gnocchi with Pumpkin-Cream Sauce
Cheeseburger Casserole
Chicken Parmesan Meatball Subs

Grocery Shopping list for this menu.

Mother daughterWe had the whole crew back in the Test Kitchen this week. I highly recommend inviting a few friends to join you for food prep. It’s a lot of fun and makes food prepping even more efficient!

Click here to see what Kelly has to say about that. Kelly has been part of the Test Kitchen since I started this blog. She is a super mom with three kids, ages 1.5 to 8 years old, so she is a busy woman.

Shredding cheese

Shredding cheese

To start off this week, we opened all of our cans and set them aside so they would be ready when we needed them. Next we chopped up all of our onions and garlic, which we need for the Cheeseburger Casserole and the Chicken Parmesan Meatball Subs. We also shredded our cheese for the Gnocchi with Pumpkin-Cream Sauce. Note: this recipe calls for Gruyère but we substituted Comte because we could buy it in bulk at Costco.

We are going to start with the Cheeseburger Casserole. Add your onions and garlic to a pan to brown and cook your noodles in a pot of water.

Once the onions and garlic are ready, add your ground turkey. When that is cooked through, mix in tomato paste, diced tomatoes and mustard.

Cheeseburger Cassarole

Cheeseburger Cassarole

Save time by writing instructions on top

Save time by writing instructions on top

Mix your meat mixture and your cooked noodles, pour into a 9×13 pan and top with 2 cups of cheese. Cover with foil, write cooking instructions on the foil (don’t forget to note adding pickles after its cooked! They really make the meal!) and refrigerate until you are ready to serve it. (Note: the directions say to bake it for 15 minutes but since we are storing it in the fridge, it may need an additional 5-10 minutes to heat all the way through.)
Next mix all of the ingredients for the Chicken Parmesan Meatballs. Roll into golf ball-sized balls and bake. Once those are cooked, cool and store in an airtight container or Ziploc freezer bag. (Note: These freeze really well so I usually make two batches and freeze half of them.)

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

While the meatballs are baking, cook your gnocchi, which only takes about 4-5 minutes. Drain it and put it in your baking dish.




Whisk in cheese until smooth.

Whisk in cheese until smooth.

Gnocchi with Pumpkin-Cream Sauce

Gnocchi with Pumpkin-Cream Sauce

Next, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Whisk in pumpkin and milk. Cook, whisking, until very thick, about 5 minutes. Whisk in cheese until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and pour over gnocchi. Cover pan with foil, write cooking instructions on the foil and refrigerate until you are ready to serve it. (Note: the directions say to bake it for 20-25 minutes but since we are storing it in the fridge, it may need an additional 5-10 minutes to heat all the way through.)


Homemade pizza doughHomemade pizza crustHomemade pizza doughIMG_3067 (2)

Homemade pizza

Bleu Cheese and Spinach Pizza

Finally, we are going to prep our dough for the pizza. The recipe calls for prepared dough but I prefer to make my own. So click here for pizza dough recipe and follow it step-by-step. The recipe makes enough for two pizzas, which was perfect. I used one for the Bleu Cheese and Spinach Pizza, which the hubs and I thoroughly enjoyed and used the other for the kids to make their own pizza.

This week’s prep seemed to go by pretty quickly. I hope your does too and that you enjoy the meals!

Taking advantage of the cold weather

Taking advantage of the cold weather

Food Prep Benefits by Kelly

There are so many benefits to weekly food prep. Food prep was not even something I knew about a year ago but thankfully Christina invited me to her first prepping session and I’ve barely missed since. Food prep is essentially planning and prepping your meals in advance for the week. Some of the benefits to food prep are added time to your week (enough said, right?), trying new foods, providing your family with healthy meals, expanding your kid’s palette and spending time with friends. Having food prepped means I have fantastic meals on the table in less than 10 minutes.


Dance Party

Dance Party

The biggest benefit to food prepping is added time to your week. Having meals prepped adds 35-45 minutes of time to your day. I use this time to spend valuable time with my family. I’m a Mom of 3 so getting 1:1 time with each of them can be a challenge. My added time is typically spent with my oldest who spends the most time out of the house each day. We use this time to talk about her day, who she sat by at lunch, new things she learned and catching up on homework. We’ve also used this time to have a family dance party or what ever sounds like fun at the time 😉 I have dinner ready when my husband gets home from work leaving us with more time together as a whole family too. Sharing moments with my family warms my heart and I love having extra time in the evening with them.


Trying new foods. Christina has some great recipes and she isn’t afraid to try new recipes. I used to do little to no food prepping which would mean at 3:30, I would open the pantry and if I had 2-3 ingredients for a recipes that is what I made. Christina has taught me how much spices and new foods add to the flavor. I’ve tried so many new foods like kale, parsnips, leeks, quinoa and many different combinations of foods. All things I wouldn’t of tried without Christina’s influence.
Christina focuses on healthy foods. Adding lots of vegetables and fruits to dishes has become the new normal. We hide so many veggies in soups and apples in hearty sausage dishes. We are adding more nutrition without realizing it. The use of spices makes the food richer so we’ve found less food makes us more satisfied. Adding lots of veggies goes unnoticed more times than not and that is a huge win when you have children.


My oldest daughter is my pickiest eater and she now loves kale chips and quinoa. Being able to add these super foods to her very limited palette has been a huge victory. My son who is a toddler loves everything I cook and that makes me feel so good. The vegetarian dishes are some of his favorites – corn, apples and black beans are his top favorites. My middle daughter’s favorite food right now is salad. She adds lots of veggies like carrots and peppers. She will eat salad anytime of day and what Mom wouldn’t love that?!?


Sunday food prep has become such a fun way to spend time with friends while cooking your meals for the week. We are really getting this down to a science. We are saving a ton of money on groceries because we buy in bulk at Costco and can create our weekly meals in about 3 hours. We’ve noticed the time does not change with the amount of families. So we spend 3 hours prepping for 2 or 4 families. We are all there multitasking and working hard to crank out our weekly meals. There is no pressure at all to be an expert cook because we are all learning together. Christina takes the lead by reading the recipes and giving direction all while keeping us organized. And trust me she has to repeat herself more than a few times because we get talking or helping with the kids. Together we enjoy discovering new foods or new combinations we’ve never cooked with before. It’s been a great way to spend time catching up on our week and learning about new recipes and super foods.


So grab a few friends and use this site as guidance to give food prepping a try. Or come join us on a Sunday and see how we’re doing it. Things are more fun in groups and see for yourself how food prepping can have a positive influence on your family.

1 Week 4 Easy Meals

Food PrepIt was a full house in the Test Kitchen this week! We had four moms prepping food for a total of 19 people. And can I tell you we did all of it for under $250!

Here at the Test Kitchen, I rarely prep alone, which gives us the opportunity to save money by buying in bulk at Costco or only buying one package of sage for four people to share instead of each of us buying a package of sage and it going bad before we use all of it (Not that that’s ever happened here 😉

Kitchen HelperWe also had a little helper in the kitchen this week, helping us open LOTS of cans (probably about 40! and yes, I recycle!), mincing garlic and mixing things up. She is a pro and we love having Lily helping out. Her mom said it also inspires her to be a little more adventurous in trying new things since she helped make them

Grocery Shopping list for this menu.

This week’s menu includes:

To start off, we put our chicken and spices for the Spicy Chicken Soup in the crockpot on high to cook while we prep. You can also do this the day before or overnight on low. (Note: This is a deviation to the original recipe but it makes my life easier. I also choose to use chicken stock instead of water and bouillon cubes. It’s just a personal choice.)

Canned Goods

Cans for days

Next, we opened ALL of our cans. We had a lot of canned goods this week and it just made it easier to have all of them open and easy to grab when we needed them.

The first recipe we tackled was the Turkey Chili. It is super easy and the only prep is browning the ground turkey. While the turkey was browning, we dumped all of the other ingredients into a freezer bag then added the turkey when it was finished. Then we sealed the bag, shook it up really good to mix all of the ingredients and put it in the fridge. This recipe reheats easily on the stovetop or the microwave (or if you are like my husband, he just eats it cold … ewh!)

The turkey chili also freezes well. I think recipes with ground turkey get a funky taste if they are in the fridge for more than about three days. So if you aren’t going to eat it until later in the week, you can freeze it now and pull it out to defrost the day before you plan to serve it.

Turkey Chili

Turkey Chili

For the turkey chili, we opted to make our own chili seasoning mix. You never know what ingredients are in those packets you buy at the store (again … ewh! Why do we need enriched wheat flour in our soup???). Plus you likely already have all of the ingredients you need in your spice cabinet. We used this recipe.

Next we whipped up the chicken apple farro – another super easy recipe. First we put the farro on to cook. Put your farro in a pot with enough water to cover it, plus a couple inches more. Bring it to a boil then reduce it to simmer for about 12-15 minutes. You want it to be a little al dente, not mushy.

IMG_2995 Chicken Apple Farro IMG_2968





While that was cooking, we chopped all of the vegetables – onions, apples and garlic – and put them in a frying pan with olive oil to brown. (Go ahead and chop your garlic and onions for the Spicy Chicken Soup at the same time and set aside.)

Apple SausageWhile those were sautéing, we cut the chicken apple sausage into slices. Once the vegetables were done, we added them to our storage container (Ziploc bag or a bowl) and put the sausage in the same pan to brown. Once that was browned, we added it to the vegetables. By then the farro was done, so we drained it and added it to the container as well. Sprinkle with a little cayenne, shake to mix and store in the refrigerator. I usually reheat this one in the microwave.

Chicken Apple Farro

Chicken Apple Farro








Next we tried something new – Maple Glazed Chicken. It sounds so delicious and is really pretty simple to make.

First add your chicken with olive oil to a frying pan over medium heat to brown on both sides. (We found that if your chicken breasts are thick you will want to slice them into thin cutlets to cook faster.)

Maple Apple Chicken

Maple Apple Chicken

While the chicken is browning, slice your apples and shallots. When the chicken is almost cooked through, add your apples, shallots and sage. When the chicken is finished, remove it from the pan and put it in a casserole dish.

While the apples, shallots and sage continue to cook, mix up the sauce – chicken broth, maple syrup and apple cider vinegar – then add it to the pan. Simmer over medium heat until the sauce starts to thicken, about 5 minutes, then pour everything over the chicken, cover the dish and store in the fridge. I would recommend reheating this dish in the oven on about 300 degrees and serving it within 2-3 days of preparing it.

Finally, we finished up with the spicy chicken soup. In a large soup pot, we sautéed the garlic and onions, then added all of the remaining ingredients, including the chicken from the crockpot, which should now be done cooking. The chicken should shred very easily. For the five cups of broth, we used the broth from the crockpot plus a couple of extra cans to get the full five cups.

Spicy Chicken Soup PrepSpicy Chicken Soup PrepSpicy Chicken Soup Prep






Let that simmer for 30 minutes while you clean up the kitchen and in our case, enjoy some great conversation and a cup of tea!

Spicy Chicken Soup

Spicy Chicken Soup

4 pots of soup!!

4 pots of soup!!





Let us know what you think of our recipes or recommend any recipes you think we should try.

Healthy Food Kick-off to 2015

The New Year has started as well as many New Years resolutions to lose weight, eat healthier, etc. So let help your kick your New Year off right with a few healthy recipes you can cook once and eat all week – saving you time AND calories!

For my regular followers, I apologize in my six-month absence. I won’t bore you with the details but will simply let you know that I had a lot going on with my family and career and I needed to step away for a while. Hopefully I’m back from good!

Now let’s get cooking! It’s cold here in Ohio, which makes me want to eat lots of soup, chili and stew. When I eat these foods, they not only comfort my soul but also make me feel like I’m making healthy choices. You can hide a lot of vegetables in soup! So to start the New Year off, I pulling out my soup pot and my crock-pot.

Grocery Shopping list for this menu.

This week’s menu includes three soups:

photo1 - Copy

Like every week, let’s start by chopping veggies. Dice three onions, mince seven cloves of garlic, dice two apples and peel and chop three carrots.

Next, add all of the ingredients for the White Bean Chicken Chili to your crock-pot. (I recommend using Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners. It will save you a lot of clean up later.) No need to cut up the chicken. Just add the whole chicken breasts. After cooking for so long, they will just fall apart. Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 10 hours.

Once it is finished, put it in large freezer bags. I like to divide mine into two bags – one for the refrigerator this week and the second one to freeze for another time.

Now let’s get started on the Tuscan Sausage Soup. Drizzle a large soup pot with EVOO and crumble your Italian sausage (or slice it if it’s precooked sausage) into the pot.

While that is cooking, cut up the remaining chicken for the Chicken Apple Chili.

Once the sausage is browned, add the carrots, onion and garlic. Sauté until tender and starting to turn a bit golden, about seven minutes.

Add the chicken broth, tomatoes, beans, pasta and basil. (Note: This recipe makes A LOT so if you want to freeze half of it, don’t add the pasta here. Wait to add the pasta until you reheat it.)

Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot and continue cooking until pasta becomes a bit tender, about 7 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook until just wilted. Let it cool then store in a freezer bag or airtight container.

If you have two soup pots, you can start the Chicken Apple Chili at the same time as the Tuscan Sausage Soup.

Drizzle EVOO in your soup pot, and then add chicken, chili powder, and cumin. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes or until cooked through, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

In the same pot, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the apples and onion and cook, stirring, until softened – about 6 minutes. Add to bowl with chicken.

In the same pot, melt the butter over med-low heat. Whisk in flour for about a minute; then, whisk in the chicken broth and milk, until thickened – about 3 to 4 minutes.

Next stir in the apples, chicken, and beans. Bring to a simmer, then stir in cheese and cook until the cheese has melted.

Let it cool then store in a freezer bag or airtight container.

I hope your New Year starts off happy and healthy. I will meet you back in the kitchen in two weeks. Be sure to check out my recipe page for more delicious and healthy recipes.

I’m back! And here’s a yummy snack …

Just great … she started this blog, then she went and abandoned us for a month. What is going on??

I’d be thinking the same thing!

I apologize for the absence but I’ve had A LOT going on during the past month. I think I’m back and I hope you can forgive me.

Here is a yummy Sunday “Sorry I’ve Been Gone So Long” Snack for your enjoyment!


– 1/2 cup of cottage cheese
– small gala apple, diced
– small handful of sliced almonds
– sprinkle of cinnamon

Watch for a new Food Prep Menu coming this week!

SNACK ATTACK – Drink your veggies!

I love fruits and veggies. But its only been in the last couple of years that I have learned how much I REALLY love to drink my veggies, especially my greens … kales, spinach … oh yum! I started out adding a couple of handfuls of spinach to my Green Monster smoothies (recipe coming soon!) for breakfast every morning. That didn’t seem too bad, so I added a couple more. Then I experimented with kale, Swiss chard and a few others. I think kale and spinach are my absolute favorite, especially since kale is like the Superman of greens.

I was recently talking to the store manager at our local Earth Fare about the different juices and smoothies they offer at their Juice Bar. I’m not a big juicer for several reasons: its expensive to buy a juicer, its expensive to buy all of the produce and if you aren’t careful, the calories add up really fast. But he intrigued me with their Ginger Kale Lemonade. I didn’t try theirs that day because I was looking for something more filling but it inspired me to create something of my own.

So here’s the recipe.

A few notes:
– The more ginger you add, the spicier it is. I liked mine spicy and not sweet.
– Because I don’t have a juicer, I made mine in a blender so it was more like the consistency of a smoothie instead of a juice.
– Despite it being VERY bright green, everyone in my family tried it, but none of them liked it. They all thought it was too tangy. They like things much sweeter than I do. If you want yours a little sweeter, feel free to add a little organic honey.

I can see this being one of my go-to summer drinks when I’m sitting on the deck on a sunny day watching the kids play in the backyard.

Its only about 85 calories for 1/2 of the recipe (without honey) and pairs nicely with 1/2 of a serving of almonds (about 14) for a 165 calorie snack. Enjoy!

FOOD PREP MENU – April 23, 2014


Monday – Chicken Power Bowl
Tuesday – Coconut Chicken Strips with Apricot Sauce and Quinoa with Sweet Potato and Green Beans
Wednesday –  Asian Lettuce Wraps
Thursday – Asian Salmon
Friday – Quinoa Taco Bake

Grocery Shopping list for this menu.

Let’s get two meals out of the way super quick so we can feel very accomplished. It’s the little things that keep me going.

Get one of your storage bags and write Coconut Chicken on it. Then add your flour and unsweetened coconut. Done! Not really but almost … now you need to cut your chicken breasts into strips and put those in another storage bag and put them in the refrigerator. Now you really are done with the Coconut Chicken until you are ready to cook it.

Next let’s prep the Asian Salmon. (This is probably our FAVORITE recipe at Food Prep Headquarters!) Grate all of your ginger. You are going to need it for two recipes. Then get another storage bag and measure out the olive oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, ginger and garlic. Seal it and put it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to prepare it.

Two recipes out of the way … feels pretty good doesn’t it??

Now let’s peel and chop our sweet potatoes and get them in the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 while you prep. Once you’ve chopped them, put them in a storage bag and drizzle with olive oil and shake. Then pour on a foil-covered baking sheet. Put them in the oven for 20-30 minutes. At the same time, put 5-6 eggs in the oven to make hard-baked eggs for your Power Bowl. Click here for Alton Brown’s Hard-Baked Eggs. (I will never hard boil eggs again! Also I bake mine right on the rack not in muffin tins.)

Let’s also put our quinoa and rice on the stove top to cook.

Now that we have all of that happening, let’s spend some time chopping. Chop all of your onions, garlic, jalapenos, peppers, scallions and water chestnuts. Also drain and rinse your black beans and garbanzo beans.

You may have to stop periodically to take things out of the oven or off of the stove as they finish.

Let’s start with the Asian lettuce wraps. I took a few liberties with this recipe. For one it called for ground chicken not ground chicken breast. I used ground chicken breast and it turned out fine. The recipe also calls for microwaving the chicken until it’s no longer pink. Well, that didn’t happen either. I just went ahead and cooked it through in a skillet. Again it turned out fine.

In a large skillet, cook your ground chicken through making sure it crumbles. Once it is cooked, line a bowl with paper towels and transfer it to the bowl to drain. Then in a storage bag, add your chicken, bell pepper, onion, garlic, hoisin sauce, ginger, salt and pepper. In a separate smaller bag, add your water chestnuts and rice. Put both bags in the refrigerator and we are finished with meal #3.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Now let’s pop our garbanzo beans in the oven to bake while we work on our next recipe. Put your garbanzo beans in a storage bag with a drizzle of olive oil and mix to coat, then pour them out onto a foil covered baking sheet and season with salt. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes until crispy.

While that is baking, let’s make the quinoa taco bake. Follow the recipe directions through assembly, then cover with foil and store in the refrigerator until the day you want to serve it, and then bake it.

 Roasted Red Peppers

Fire Roasted Red Peppers

Next let’s put our chicken breasts on to cook in a large skillet on the stove. Add a little olive oil to the pan and season them with salt and pepper. Brown each side and cook through. Once it is finished, slice it and store it in the refrigerator.

While that is cooking, you can toss together your Sweet Potato and Green Bean Quinoa. In a storage container, mix your quinoa, baked sweet potato cubes, chopped green beans, dried cranberries, walnuts, onion and salt & pepper then drizzle with olive and store in the refrigerator.

And finally let’s make the dressing for our Power Bowls. Combine the juice of two lemons, 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons of honey, 1 clove of minced garlic and salt and pepper. Shake or whisk and store in the refrigerator. All the ingredients for the Power Bowl are ready and can be combined when you are ready to serve it.

Chicken Power Bowl

Chicken Power Bowl

DONE! Five delicious meals to last you for an entire week and probably plenty of leftovers for lunch too.

Please give us your feedback on how food prep is going for your family. What works? What doesn’t? What are your favorite meals? Have you found any great time-saving tricks?

BREAKFAST PANCAKES: Fluffy Little Clouds of Deliciousness

Most people call them pancakes but these aren’t pancakes. They are more than pancakes. Calling them a pancake would be an insult. They deserve a better name than just a pancake. So I have honored them by calling them Fluffy Clouds of Deliciousness. And here’s a little secret: they are healthy and can be made gluten-free!

So I woke up one Saturday morning and had one of those “I want something other than a protein shake or oatmeal for breakfast” mornings and starting looking on Pinterest for a new healthy pancake recipe. I’ve tried quite a few … my poor family … they’ve been troopers. I DO NOT LIKE pancakes made with protein powder plus I haven’t made a final decision on what I think about protein powders (I have a lot of uncertainty about the ingredient list. More research is needed. I will get back to you on that.)

Then I stumbled across this recipe. It is made with oats, almond milk, honey, a banana, vanilla, cinnamon, baking powder, sea salt and an egg. I mix it in a blender and then cook it in coconut oil. Super simple!

I top mine with some almond butter for added protein, a sprinkle of unsweetened coconut and pure maple syrup. The kids like dark chocolate chips and syrup. The hubby just likes butter and syrup.

I hope your family enjoys them as much as mine!

Banana Oat Pancakes

Fluffy Clouds of Deliciousness

FOOD PREP Menu – April 9, 2014

Monday – Southwestern Turkey & Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
Tuesday – Quinoa Burrito Bowls
Wednesday – Farro Risotto with Bacon, Parm and Brussel Sprouts
Thursday – Kale and Quinoa Salad with Pumpkin Sage Dressing
Friday – Chicken Parm Meatball Subs

Grocery Shopping list for this menu.

There was a slight hint of Spring in the air this week so you might notice my menu reflecting the change in seasons. I’ve added a couple of lighter items to the menu this week.

And thanks to, I’m very excited to try a couple of new dishes this week. I stumbled across her when I was looking for a copycat Kale & Quinoa Salad recipe for a salad I had at a local gastropub, The Crest, that was to die for. I never did find the perfect recipe so I made my own with inspirations from several I found online.

Let’s start by putting our chicken in the crockpot. Put however many chicken breasts you need for your family size in the crockpot, cover with water or chicken broth and cook on high for 3 hours.

Next let’s pop our brussel sprouts and butternut squash in the oven to roast. Preheat your oven to 350. Then cube your butternut squash (or if you’re like me, I buy mine cubed. Some things are just worth an extra $1!) and slice your brussel sprouts.

Brussel Sprouts

Cleaning Brussel Sprouts

Put the squash in a storage bag, drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil in the bag, seal it and shake to coat. Then pour it on a cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil. In the same storage bag, add your brussel sprouts, drizzle another tablespoon of olive oil, seal it and shake it to coat too. Pour it on another cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil.

Place both pans in the oven. Cook your brussel sprouts for about 20-30 minutes until browned. Cook your butternut squash for about 40 minutes until soft.

While those are roasting, put all of your quinoa on the stove to cook — 3 cups of quinoa and 6 cups of water for about 15 minutes.

Now let’s get chopping. Chop your onion, shallots and jalapenos, mince your garlic and zest your lemon.

Chopped Veggies

Chopped Veggies

When your quinoa is finished, divide it our into three dishes — 1/2 cup for stuffed peppers, 1 cup for kale salad and 1.5 cups for burrito bowls (you can put this one in the refrigerator).

Let’s start on the stuffed peppers. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan. When hot, add corn kernels and saute for about 3 minutes until just tender. Add the onions, garlic and jalapenos and cook until the onions soften and the garlic becomes fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add the ground turkey and cook until browned. Then add black beans (drained and rinsed), cooked quinoa, fire roasted tomatoes, oregano, chili powder, cumin and cayenne. (Note: After seeing the price of Mexican chili powder, I quickly googled a recipe for it while standing in the grocery, realized I had all of the ingredients and just whipped up my own.

Once it is all mixed together, take it off the heat and put it in a storage container and place in the refrigerator. All you will need to do when you are ready to eat it is cut your peppers in half, add the stuffing and bake.

Stuffing the Peppers

Stuffing the Peppers

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers

By now your roasted veggies should be ready. You can set them aside to cool until we need them.

Now mix your quinoa, kale and butternut squash in a storage container and put it in the refrigerator. I thought my kale pieces were too big so I took a pair of kitchen shears to them and chopped them down to be super small. In another smaller storage container, measure out 1/3 cup each of pumpkin seeds, chopped pecans and craisins. You can add these to the salad on the day you are going to eat it. I keep them separate so the pecans and seeds don’t get soft.

Kale & Quinoa Salad

Kale & Quinoa Salad

To make your dressing, add all of the ingredients to a bowl and mix with an immersion blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can mix it in a regular blender. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Next up, the chicken parm meatballs. First toast your bread and make your bread crumbs in a food processor. Then in a large bowl, mix all of your ingredients, shape them into balls (about the size of a golf ball) and place them a few inches apart on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes. When your chicken meatballs are done, take them out of the oven to cool then put them in a freezer bag and freeze them for later in the week.

While those are baking, let’s make our farro risotto. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan. Add shallots and saute for about 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another minute.

Stir in the farro until its well-coated with olive oil. Be careful not to let the shallots and garlic burn. Reduce the heat to low and add the white wine. Cook until liquid is completely absorbed.

Once the wine is absorbed, add one cup of chicken broth to the pan, until the farro is just covered. Cook at a simmer until absorbed, stirring periodically. Repeat this process by adding 1/2 cup at a time until farro is al dente.

Next stir in the roasted brussel sprouts and prosciutto (or in my case, turkey bacon that I’ve already cooked in the microwave until just done, not crisp.)

Remove from heat and pour into a large storage container, add one tablespoon of olive oil, lemon zest and 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Mix together, cover and place in the refrigerator.

We are almost done! Now it’s time to check your chicken. It should be fully cooked and ready to be shredded. Shred the chicken and put it in a storage container until you are ready to make your quinoa burrito bowls.