Monday, November 14, 2011

Meal Plan Monday {Nov 14} + WW {Wk26}

Last Thursday I splurged in an afternoon of retail therapy.  While I was mainly on the hunt for a gravy boat for Thanksgiving I also enjoyed being out of the house and wandering around the stores.  I found a perfect gravy boat and a matching butter dish that match my all-white dinnerware set perfectly {even if they were super cheap and are not part of the Lenox collection} … and a few other things might have caught my eye also … like a DONUT PAN.  Now, I’ve been seeing baked donut recipes floating around the Blogosphere for a while now but never felt the need to rush out and purchase my own pan.  Until the other day when I came across it and decided … what the heck?!?  I knew I would put it good use so I added it to my cart and continued wandering around the store.  And, of course, I had to make my first batch of baked donuts the next day.  I used this recipe but instead of making a glaze for the top I followed the directions for a sugar & cinnamon coating like in this recipe.  The donuts turned out really good and I’m already looking forward to making another batch SOON … and I’m eyeing this chocolate donut recipeDo you have a favorite baked donut recipe to share?

Now, after I made donuts on Friday I found myself in the baking mood.  Specifically for chocolate chip cookies.  I’ve been wanting to make a batch for a while now so when I found myself awake at 6am on Saturday with nothing to do while the husband was out running with our running buddies I decided to get to work in the kitchen.  A few years ago my mom gave me an awesome cookie cook book by Nestle called Nestle Toll House Best-Loved Cookies and I always use the first recipe in the book for Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies --- which works perfectly every time {its also the recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag}!  It helps that I always have Nestle Chocolate Chips in the house since I buy the BIG bag at Costco!  A couple of hours and a dish full of dishes later I had 5 1/2 dozen chocolate chip cookies baked to perfection {I use a cookie scoop, like this one, to make uniform cookies and I line my baking sheets with parchment paper which has always provided the perfectly cooked golden brown cookie bottoms --- here’s a tip about parchment paperyou can add a little dab of butter to the corners of your cooking sheet to hold down the parchment paper since when you first unroll it from the carton it tends to want to roll back up – adding the butter holds the paper down so you can easily scoop out your cookies --- after the first batch the paper will have smoothed out and rolling will not be a problem}.  The house smelled amazing and I loved stacking all the cookies into my cookie jar.  Now, I have NO IDEA what I’ll do with that many cookies but I’m sure the husband will be taking some to work so we don’t eat them all {even though we made quite a dent in them}. 

While I was waiting in-between baking batches of cookies I started my meal plan for the week.  I knew I was going to make this soup and when I was reading over the ingredient list and saw that I would need some vegetable stock.  I decided to finally use up the bag of frozen veggies scraps in my freezer and make my own.  It was so easy and I ended up with 96 ounces of vegetable stock!  Its really simple and I’ll tell you how to do it below.  I had been saving scraps for a while to try this!  Its really easy to save scraps when you are cooking and then just toss them into a gallon freezer bag in your freezer, adding to it over time, and then when its full you can easily make a bit batch of stock.  It smelled amazing and I can’t wait to see how the soup turns out when I use it. 

So, those were my adventures in the kitchen over the last few days!  Have you had any adventures in the kitchen lately that you’d like to share? 

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Nothing about last weeks meal plan went as planned … even though I was hopeful at the beginning of the week to “get back on track”.  Here’s to hoping this week goes a little better. 

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Monday ~ Spinach & Feta Pasta

I said it … I knew this would be reappearing on the meal plan often!  Its so quick & easy … and super yummy too.

Tuesday ~ Tofu Tacos 

Taco Tuesday returns!  Not only is tofu CHEAP its also tasty!  If you haven’t tried it as a meat alternative I highly suggest trying crumbled tofu tacos because the tofu takes on the flavor of the ingredients you add to it and when you use homemade taco seasoning you can’t go wrong! 

Homemade Taco Seasoning
This makes a lot --- and I use 1-2 TBSP per recipe

Ingredients:
4 TBSP chili powder
3 TBSP + 1 tsp paprika
3 TBSP cumin
1 TBSP + 2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Directions:
Mix together all ingredients.  Store in an air tight container like a mason jar.  Use as needed :)

Wednesday ~ Chicken & Rice Bowls with Oil-Free Pesto

A few months ago when I first made the Oil-Free Pesto I made a few extra batches and froze the leftovers.  This pesto was amazing over pasta and I really think its going to be amazing with chicken and rice too!  Besides, 1/4 cup of the pesto is ONLY 1WWpts+. 

Thursday ~ Tomato Orzo Soup

This is the soup I talked about earlier that I made the homemade veggies stock for.  We LOVE this soup!  LOVE.  Try it.  ASAP. 

Homemade Vegetable Stock

Ingredients:
Vegetables scraps
*Avoid starchy vegetables like potatoes or any vegetable that is too overpowering like cabbage or any waxy plant parts like cucumber peels 
I recommend carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, celery, parsley, onions, pepper stems, garlic
Sea salt & bay leaves

Directions:
Save your scraps over time in the freezer.  When you have a full freezer bag add it to your crock pot and fill with water.  Add in some sea salt and a couple of bay leaves.  Cook on low for 8 hours.  When its done cooking scoop out the veggie chunks and strain them over a large bowl with a cheese cloth lined mesh strainer.  Squeeze the excess broth from the veggies.  Compost the veggie scraps.  Strain the remaining broth.  Allow the broth to cool completely and use as needed or freeze. 

Friday ~ Pasta with marinara sauce

Nothing new here :)

Saturday ~ leftover pasta

Sunday ~ Turkey Burgers *subject to change :)

What’s on your menu this week?
Do you meal plan?  Why or why not? 
Got a favorite recipe that I’ve got to try?  Please share :)
Don’t forget to check out the links … you never know what you might discover!  There are some GREAT food blogs & recipe websites out there :)

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Weight Watchers Week 26 {11.07.11 – 11.13.11}
Weigh-in {11.14.11} = 136.8
Week 26 Gain = +0.8 lbs
Total Weight Loss = –13.4 lbs
Starting Weight {05.16.11} = 150.2 lbs
I earned 11 activity points
I exercised 5 out of 7 days
*I am still dealing with my running injury.  I did awful tracking this week --- in fact I think I only fully tracked two days.  Epic Fail.
*Previous
WW recaps can be found HERE.

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